For some reason Indiana doesn’t have an explicit law defining a minimum safe passing separation for cars and bikes passing each other. One law was almost passed a couple years ago, but ended up not being enacted. This needs to be addressed.
Why is this important? The current law uses a subjective definition of safe passing separation. What a cyclist feels is a safe distance isn’t necessarily the same as what a driver or police officer feels is a safe distance. Drivers often believe the safe distance is much less than it is, and make dangerous passes. Since the safe distance is no less than three feet, and many people don’t realize this, we need the minimum separation to be explicit in the motor vehicle code.
You can help promote this important safety law by filling out this survey from Bicycle Indiana, and by writing your state representatives. And while you are at it and if you live in Allen County, fill out the City of Fort Wayne Trail Survey.
With or without an explicit legal definition, remember to only make safe passes:
Notice the steps of the safe pass:
- Begin to move over well before reaching the cyclist.
- Pass at a safe distance. Keep a minimum of three feet between the closest points of the car and the bicyclist. At high speeds and with large vehicles the minimum safe separation is larger. Don't forget about your mirrors.
- Move back into the lane well after passing the cyclist. Don't forget to leave room for your trailer.