Motorists will now be required to give bicyclists at least three feet of passing clearance, which will improve cycling safety. The new three-foot bicycle passing law, HB 154, signed by Governor Kasich in December, becomes effective on March 21.
Drivers should watch for bicyclists and know that it is now illegal to squeeze past them. When unable to move across the center line or merge to another lane to the left, motorists must slow down and wait until it becomes safe to pass. The new law improves safety since motorists are forewarned not to put themselves and others in danger by attempting to pass a bicyclist if there is oncoming traffic, a blind hill or a blind curve ahead.
Ohio Bicycle Federation (OBF) Chair Chuck Smith, who dedicated two years to creating the bill, hailed this new law as “a major step forward to improve the bicycling law in this state, allowing [a thorough education for] Ohioans regarding a variety of bicycling rules of the road.” Bicycles are legally a vehicle, with the same rights and responsibilities as any other vehicle. Like cars, they have every right to the lane, and therefore “own” the lane ahead of approaching motorists. The OBF is inviting drivers to take the pledge by giving three feet when passing a bicyclist, using the hashtag “#give3feetOH” and social media to share their pledge.
The law’s effective date coincides with the first day of spring, traditionally a time when more cyclists hit the road for commuting, pleasure and good exercise. The new three-foot law will help keep cyclists safe and reverse the recent increase in cyclists’ deaths on Ohio roads. By adding the three-foot law to the books, Ohio joins 29 other states with a similar law.