Video: Houston cyclist uses flagpole to enforce often-ignored passing law

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.

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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