Drivers tend to make a lot of mistakes around bicyclists, and one of the most dangerous mistakes they can make is when they pass improperly. On many roads, a cyclist is naturally slower than the traffic around the bike. That does not mean that the cyclist does not have a right to the road, however, or that the burden is on them to get out of the cars’ way.
Unfortunately, this is how a lot of drivers view it. They impatiently follow too close to bikes, they pass without leaving enough space, and they pass at dangerous speeds that put cyclists at risk. Many of these drivers act frustrated with the speed of the bike or like they believe it shouldn’t be on the road at all. This is both unfair and inaccurate — and it’s also dangerous.
How much space is needed?
Any bicyclist who has had someone floor it and drive by with six inches to spare knows how dangerous it feels. And the law agrees. In California, drivers can only pass when they have enough room to leave three feet of space between the car and the bike.
What if there’s not enough room? Maybe there is oncoming traffic on a narrow road. In that case, drivers simply need to slow down and wait, following at a safe distance, until they have space. It is not acceptable to pass with less space at any speed
You know that drivers are not always going to prioritize safety. If you are injured in a crash on your bicycle, you need to know what rights you have to compensation.