New 3 Feet Please website calls for statutory minimum passing distance for cyclists

Success in USA drives UK initiative

by nick_rearden   April 26, 2010  

3 Feet Please

The campaigner behind today's new 3 Feet Please website has called for a mandatory minimum three feet of space between bicycles and passing motor vehicles. The initiative is based on successful work in the United States such as 3feet2pass.

According to founder David Love, who is also a Trustee and Vice Chair of the London Cycling Campaign, "Fear of traffic is a huge barrier to would-be cyclists, novices and the less confident. If they felt safer, more would take to the saddle with all the environmental, health and cost benefits that it brings. And the more who ride, the safer it gets."

In the US, individuals like Joe Mizerek with his own 3 feet please USA campaign have had great success with lobbying government at state level to the effect that now 15 of the 51 united states have laws enshrining three feet as the obligatory minimum passing distance for motor vehicles passing bicycles.

Going back to August 2009, we have reported on the USA situation as well as the subsequent Downing St petition here which was ultimately given short shrift by the Whitehall mandarins. Back in November, the Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC) joined the debate, pointing out not unreasonably that European law calls for a 1.5 metres for passing - more like five feet - and that three feet are therefore a bit of a concession which was born out by our own poll in which 60% of respondents agreed with the CTC.  However, as David Love says, "We’re not asking for just 3 feet – we’re asking for a minimum of 3 feet, depending on circumstances."

6 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

A fantastic idea that many people should help support! I think the new law would make it clear to motorists what to expect and would help at the training stage when people are learning how to drive.

posted by londoncyclist [13 posts]
26th April 2010 - 16:51

3 Likes

HGVs whizzing past 3ft away? no thanks. five feet should be the minimum required by law, except in 20mph zones where i'd be happy with 3

cactuscat's picture

posted by cactuscat [305 posts]
26th April 2010 - 17:32

2 Likes

would prefer that the police actually enforced the highway code, by saying 3feet you are contradicting the current guidance.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1807 posts]
26th April 2010 - 20:06

4 Likes

yeah 3 feet seems a low target to aim for, start by campaigning for the highway code which is a cars width isn't it? so about 6ft?

posted by eddie11 [99 posts]
26th April 2010 - 21:26

3 Likes

I applaude the idea but i dont dont think its going to achieve anything. Just bacuase someone in the U.S. got it noticed dosnt mean its the right thing for us.

"If they felt safer, more would take to the saddle"

How is 3ft going to help? Its already stated in the Highway code to give as much room as possible but many dont anway.

"and would help at the training stage when people are learning how to drive."

given that i driving instructors seem to be some of the worst drivers around (at least near me) then i cant see how this can help new drivers, especially since they are coached to pass these days, not to learn. Your just going to end up with a load of teens passing far to close (i.e. trying to get 3ft and we all know how good new drivers are at judging gaps!)

The final issue i think this is the wrong way to go is how will this affect our journeys? Im quite a calm/slow commuter but even i take narrow gaps past v.slow moving traffic or between lanes. Will the new 3ft rule apply to me? you can bet drivers will be throwing this one back in our face if it goes through. Afteral if they have to give us 3ft surely we have to do the same?

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [455 posts]
27th April 2010 - 8:24

2 Likes

These are all understandable concerns, most of whch are answered in the FAQs section of the campaign website.

Will it work? It's not cyclists who need to be convinced, it's drivers.

If every driver gave every cyclist a minimum of 3 feet when passing, there would never be another collision. Isn't that worth fighting for?

iDavid's picture

posted by iDavid [47 posts]
29th April 2010 - 10:22

4 Likes