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State given new road rules

Colorado is the latest US state to introduce a three-foot-to-pass bill giving cyclists a bigger piece of pavement and greater legal protection on the road as more and more riders take to the roads.

A Colorado law recently signed by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter not only requires motorists to give riders at least a 3-foot-wide berth, it also makes it illegal to throw things at riders.

The bill also means cyclists will be able to ride closer to the centre of the road when riding on the shoulder is too dangerous and ride two abreast when there is no traffic behind them. The law also makes it legal for drivers to cross a double yellow line - when safe - to pass cyclists.

The Colorado law is similar to several passed or considered this year in Lousiana, Wisconsin, New Jersey and Texas. Louisiana passed a three-feet-to-pass law in June. Motorists who fail to give riders enough room to pass can be fined up to $50. The law also makes it unlawful to harass, taunt or maliciously throw objects at cyclists.

Wisconsin lawmakers in June eliminated a requirement that bicyclists ride three feet away from parked cars. The law also prohibits motorists from opening car doors without checking for cyclists.

New Jersey's General Assembly passed a three-feet-to-pass bill on June 25 and it is now being considered by the Senate transportation committee.

Texas lawmakers passed a three-feet-to-pass law but it was vetoed in June, while other states with the laws include Arkansas, Maine, Tennessee, Florida, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Oregon, Illinois, Minnesota, Utah, Wisconsin, Arizona and Oklahoma.

As yet there is no such legal protection for UK cyclists, with motorists required to give cyclists sufficient space but the law does not specify how much that should be.

Debra Rolfe, campaigns coordinator for the CTC has said: “Three feet should be the minimum amount of space you give a cyclist. It all depends on road conditions and how fast the driver is going, and I think it’s important not to get too fixated with numbers. A driver passing a cyclist at 60mph clearly should be much further away than a driver passing at 20mph.”

Many cyclists around the world, including the UK, are sporting a yellow cycling jersey which has the words ‘3 Feet Please’ printed in black letters. The shirt is designed by Joe Mizereck from Tallahassee in Florida.