Good News for NYS Cyclist ....BUT We Still Gotta Ride Smart

Ever been out on the road riding and been passed at 60 miles per hour by a car that you swear is 3 inches from your elbow? Well sure you have. Happily, David Paterson and other NYS Officials have signed into law a great new piece of legislation. OK....this is dream come true. Motorist passing cyclists have to give us 3 feet of passing room! Let's get back to reality here. This law is unrealistic for us to expect to be obeyed. What I do expect when I'm out on the road is for a motorist to give me ample space to pass safely and to hopefully let up on the accelerator just a bit. We all know it's a mixed bag. Some people are cool about giving riders plenty of room. Others certainly make a bit of space....maybe not as much as you would like...but you don't feel as if you are in danger. Then there are the motorists who you swear are either really bad drivers, don't like sharing the road with anyone or off texting.....calling ...eating a Big Mac...etc.
Well, take a look at the law below. It's a big step in the right direction.
For our part let's all try and present cycling in a positive fashion. Obey traffic laws. We are considered a vehicle on the road. Try to ride as far to the right as safely possible. If riding in a group try and go single file in busy traffic areas or when being passed by a motorist. Be courteous to walkers...runners...and other people using the roadways. Go out of your way to yield the right of way to a motorist. The more good press and PR we create.....the better and safer our rides will be.
New York State is an amazing place for cycling. Believe it or not....there is room for everyone to share the awesome roads. Ride Lots and Enjoy your Cycling. Stay Smart and Safe Too !

(August 16, 2010) ALBANY — The New York Bicycling Coalition congratulates the state legislature and Governor David Paterson for enacting a law mandating that drivers pass cyclists at a safe distance when traveling on New York’s roads. Although the law does not set a specific distance, the text of the law states that three feet is considered a safe distance, and that sometimes an even greater passing distance is necessitated by road conditions.

From the New York Senate site:

Each year while riding on the right side of the road, bicyclists are hurt or killed because they are hit by drivers in vehicles that pass too closely to them. For this reason, seventeen states have enacted safe passing laws. Several states, including Connecticut, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Utah, have specified that when passing a person riding a bicycle going in the same direction, a distance of no less than three feet must be maintained between the vehicle and the bicyclist. A minimum of three feet is considered a safe distance in most circumstances. There are, however, occasions when a distance greater than three feet is necessary in order to pass at a safe distance. For example, the adverse impact of wind blast and debris kicked up from vehicles passing too closely to bicyclists may cause a bicyclist to swerve and crash. A safe buffer between the motorist and the cyclist is needed in such common circumstances as when a cyclist needs to maneuver around cracks, potholes, or the hazard of an opening door from a parked car. Another way to help ensure the safety of bicyclists who ride on the state highways would be to create marked bicycle lanes. However, many highways throughout the state are too narrow to accommodate bicycle lanes, and the cost of constructing such lanes would be prohibitive. By mandating passing at “a safe distance,” this legislation will serve to educate the public about the need for motor vehicles and bicyclists to share our roads safely. A violation will result in a traffic infraction, deterring vehicles from passing at a distance that may harm or kill bicyclists.

The governor signed the bill on August 13 and announced the move on August 15. For more information on the new law, which takes effect Nov. 1, 2010, visit the New York State Senate’s page for the bill: