Support for petition grows but some aren’t convinced

Since our story on Tom Amos’ petition for the 3 feet to pass law in the UK, it now has 1075 signatures. But it has caused more than a stir with road.cc readers – and some say they can’t support it because the distance ISN’T great enough.

The story has produced a number of interesting comments and, while everyone is in agreement that cyclists should be given more room by passing motorists, most think that three feet is nowhere near enough, as well as being weaker than the current Highway Code, and any law would be tough to enforce.

The Highway Code requires motorists to give cyclists sufficient space but the law does not specify how much that should be. Three feet, or one metre, has been made law in 14 US states and France but as yet there is no such legal protection for UK cyclists.

Thebikeboy posted: “I think having a 3ft law, even it is hard to enforce would make drivers more aware of their responsibilities,” and mr-andrew said: “It should also mean that if they do clip a cyclist, it would probably mean that they were in the wrong, and should hopefully be easier to prosecute.”

TiNuts posted: “In my opinion we desperately need a statutory minimum safe distance for overtaking cyclists in the UK. As it stands, the current legislation is a joke.”

But some thought that the petition did not go far enough. Bike ie posted: “The Highway Code does state that a cyclist should be given the same room as a car, and this can be currently used to judge if someone overtook dangerously. This would be a distance no less than 5 feet. In most of Europe they would say 1.5 metres. I think it is very unfortunate that this campaign has chosen a distance of 3 feet. I cannot sign this petition because I would see at as encouraging motorists to drive closer than they should."

And voujan posted: “Please do not back this campaign. 3 feet is too close. We need to have an education programme for motorists on how to cope with cyclists. If we were to base it on the Highway Code and current European standards we would be warning drivers that they need to leave 5 feet when overtaking cyclists. At the moment 3 feet would be considered dangerous in most circumstances (even though this is currently normal practice as is speeding). It does not leave room for wobble, obstacles, bad weather etc. And you know that if we specify 3 feet most would think 2.5 feet is fair game. Fair enough to have closer than 3 feet as a serious criminal offence with a severe penalty, but to have 5 feet as the legal distance (with some discretion of enforcement). This campaign makes a mockery of the Highway Code and legitimises careless driving. We need to campaign for legislation based on current safety standards.”

It is an interesting debate. We asked the CTC for their take on it and Victoria Hazael said: “At low speeds 3 feet is enough, but I certainly want much more room that that when I’m overtaken at 50mph.

"Rule 163 in the Highway Code already says to give cyclists at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car, so there is a rule in place already. To find out how much of an issue this is CTC is collecting data on bad driving on our website http://www.stop-smidsy.org.uk/ and we urge all cyclists to log their experiences."

You can add your name to the petition by visiting http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/3feet2Pass/sign, and the deadline to sign up by is Wednesday, January 6.