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Want drivers to give you three feet? Here's how to remind them...

Armed with a flag on a flexible pole, a Houston, Texas rider has taken to YouTube to highlight the frequency with which drivers disregard the state’s passing law, which requires motorists to give a cyclist a three-foot gap when overtaking.

“They hit the flag, they're breaking the law,” Dan Morgan told Channel 2 Houston. “Houston has a local ordinance designed to protect so-called vulnerable road users.”

As you might imagine, some car-loving Texans are none too pleased at having to give a cyclist more space than needed to avoid skimming his forearm hairs, no matter what the law says.

“I don't think they understand the law and there's a lot of driver entitlement that goes on in Houston,” Dan Morgan said. “Drivers will roll the window down and start cussing me out so I tend to fight fire with fire.”

And his campaign to physically demonstrate how much room cyclists are legally entitled to has made the local news:

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But although he passes his videos on to Houston police, no drivers have been ticketed for disregarding the passing-distance law and hitting his flag.

Morgan has been posting his rides and encounters with irate drivers on YouTube in videos like this one:

On Facebook, Morgan says: “This was filmed in Houston Texas on what will soon be my normal daily bike commute route - riding with the flag is the ONLY time I am passed safely (most of the time) - the flag has been hit a total of 10 times while filming and I am on my second flag because the first one was broken by a driver hitting it.”

Many commenters have pointed out that a pole and a flag alone maybe don’t get the message across, but Morgan’s way ahead of them.

He plans to roll out a new flag shortly, and has corporate sponsorship to have multiple copies made that he intends to hand out to other Houston cyclists to help spread the word.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

25 comments

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paulrbarnard [182 posts] 1 year ago
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Carbide tip would be useful

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Jessopjessop [2 posts] 1 year ago
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Dip the end in Nitromors.

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NeilXDavis [120 posts] 1 year ago
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7:40....The chicks seem to dig it...Im in!  21

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OldRidgeback [2554 posts] 1 year ago
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Way back when I used to use a piece of piano wire with some high visibility, sticky tape on it. The piano wire was fixed to the rear stays just behind the saddle. An old record player stylus was slipped over the end of the wire and held in place by the reflective tape. When a car hit the piano wire it'd bend back and then whip along the length of the car's side, leaving a very fine line along the paintwork. And as the stylus had a diamond tip, that fine line was cut all the way through to the steel, leaving an additional racing stripe that came up in distinctive rust red finish a short while later.

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Flying Scot [908 posts] 1 year ago
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I had a folding plastic arm like this with a reflector on the end on my raleigh chopper circa 1980, only about 500mm though.

Not new.

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localsurfer [197 posts] 1 year ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:

Way back when I used to use a piece of piano wire with some high visibility, sticky tape on it. The piano wire was fixed to the rear stays just behind the saddle. An old record player stylus was slipped over the end of the wire and held in place by the reflective tape. When a car hit the piano wire it'd bend back and then whip along the length of the car's side, leaving a very fine line along the paintwork. And as the stylus had a diamond tip, that fine line was cut all the way through to the steel, leaving an additional racing stripe that came up in distinctive rust red finish a short while later.

Pictures or it didn't happen.

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jamtartman [55 posts] 1 year ago
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Maybe some extra long Stephen Boyd style wheel nuts would do the job

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 1 year ago
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ha! very good ...

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bikebot [1641 posts] 1 year ago
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Meanwhile, the UK minimum pass distance is a bunch of inconsistent advice and one big shrug in law. This has come up a number of times, cyclists are generally supportive of the idea and yet CTC have ignored it.

Personally, I'd like to see Britain adopt the French guidance, (1m for town roads, 1.5m everywhere else).

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eddie11 [110 posts] 1 year ago
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Indeed. When your laws on cycle safety are behind Texas then you know it's time to worry,

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bikebot [1641 posts] 1 year ago
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eddie11 wrote:

Indeed. When your laws on cycle safety are behind Texas then you know it's time to worry,

So far, it's just Houston and they've always been the oddball in Texas. I worked briefly in Dallas, and I got a few odd looks from colleagues when i told them I walked to the office (it took 15 minutes...).

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johndonnelly [81 posts] 1 year ago
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I heard that a long time ago one of the old gents in Norwich used to go around with a garden fork mounted sideways on his bike and apologise profusely any every time somebody hit it "Oh dear. I'm so sorry that you didn't see me."

Geniuses. Both of them.

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Lungsofa74yearold [278 posts] 1 year ago
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Great idea - I've had to add a couple of miles to my commute to avoid I'd these dimbos. It's really not hard to do, just a little patience required....

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noether [96 posts] 1 year ago
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Proves the point that without proper cycling infrastructure, this most health, purse and earth friendly way of commuting will never gain the momentum needed to justify the investment (no matter how modest). Chicken and the egg. It takes a determined lot to break the vicious cycle.

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nowasps [379 posts] 1 year ago
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Irate drivers? The most memorable driver in that video was far from it.

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OldRidgeback [2554 posts] 1 year ago
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bikebot wrote:

Meanwhile, the UK minimum pass distance is a bunch of inconsistent advice and one big shrug in law. This has come up a number of times, cyclists are generally supportive of the idea and yet CTC have ignored it.

Personally, I'd like to see Britain adopt the French guidance, (1m for town roads, 1.5m everywhere else).

Just as an aside, there is talk within the EU on making the 1.5m passing distance a requirement for all 27 member states. See, the EU is good for something.

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mrmo [2022 posts] 1 year ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:

Just as an aside, there is talk within the EU on making the 1.5m passing distance a requirement for all 27 member states. See, the EU is good for something.

I guess our UKIP and Tory MEPs will be voting against that, just like they voted against making lorries safer!

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Wolfshade [162 posts] 1 year ago
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I am in two minds about this. Firstly, I think what he is doing is great, after all he is just going along his normal route, i.e. not looking out for trouble, and highlighting the law as he is perfectly entitled to do so.
On the other hand I do worry about these overly provactive methods, after all we are not surrounded by a steel cage for protection and while that guy may be able to handle himself if it came to fisticuffs the next cyclist along the road who is wound up by his demonstration of the law might not be able to.

It is a shame that like so often, there is a law that is not being enforced. The point of laws are to protect the vulnverable so why aren't they enforced?

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bikebot [1641 posts] 1 year ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:

Just as an aside, there is talk within the EU on making the 1.5m passing distance a requirement for all 27 member states. See, the EU is good for something.

Do you have any links/references for that. The number of European countries adopting this law is increasing, but I've never heard of it being adopted by the EU itself.

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OldRidgeback [2554 posts] 1 year ago
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bikebot wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

Just as an aside, there is talk within the EU on making the 1.5m passing distance a requirement for all 27 member states. See, the EU is good for something.

Do you have any links/references for that. The number of European countries adopting this law is increasing, but I've never heard of it being adopted by the EU itself.

Yep, check the European Transport Safety Commission (ETSC) website. I don't have a link to it to hand but Yahoo or the evil Google empire should be able to locate that for you.

Of course Nigel Farage's UKIP would vote against it as they hate cyclists and non-smokers. And David Cameron's Tory party probably would too, just like they did against data sharing across the EU allowing driving offences to be pursued from country to country within Europe.

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mckechan [208 posts] 1 year ago
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I'd consider something like this, but only if it was retractable for filtering through traffic  3

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Simmo72 [584 posts] 1 year ago
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All was well until the flag got caught in the skirting of a large truck....

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OldRidgeback [2554 posts] 1 year ago
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localsurfer wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

Way back when I used to use a piece of piano wire with some high visibility, sticky tape on it. The piano wire was fixed to the rear stays just behind the saddle. An old record player stylus was slipped over the end of the wire and held in place by the reflective tape. When a car hit the piano wire it'd bend back and then whip along the length of the car's side, leaving a very fine line along the paintwork. And as the stylus had a diamond tip, that fine line was cut all the way through to the steel, leaving an additional racing stripe that came up in distinctive rust red finish a short while later.

Pictures or it didn't happen.

This was back in the bad old days when cycling was proper dangerous, not like now. I didn't have a camera then as they cost money I needed for other stuff. It was in the days before digital photography when taking photos cost actual money rather than space on a hard drive. I don't have any photos of my first three bicycles, my first three motorbikes, my first car, the first flat I lived in after I moved out of the family home or even my first girlfriend either for that matter.

I'd seen those plastic things like FlyingScot had on his Chopper and decided to make something a bit more effective. It was secured to the bike with insulation tape so it'd tear off if someone hit it really hard, rather than it knocking me off my old Falcon.

I took it off after a while as I got fed up with it catching on things.

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bikebot [1641 posts] 1 year ago
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mckechan wrote:

I'd consider something like this, but only if it was retractable for filtering through traffic  3

Of course the original version doesn't have this requirement, in most American states filtering is illegal!

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Greebo954 [11 posts] 1 year ago
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Ride a recumbent!
Most people are to stupid to remember to hate you when they cant figure out what the hell you are doing.
Just smile and wave, smile and wave  103