Over 20 states in the U.S. have established laws that require motorists to leave at least 3 feet of space when passing bicyclists. A recent study published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention provides information as to how much distance motorists actually leave and whether a rider’s apparel made a difference in the space they left.
The study proved the cyclists who often wore bright, reflective gear were clearly noticed by motorists, but it appeared to have no effect of the amount of space they gave the cyclists-unless the rider was a police officer.
A U.K. researcher conducted an experience in which he rode the same 16-mile route twice a day, during peak traffic hours, wearing seven different outfits. In five of them, the rider’s clothing was supposed to convey his skill level. The 5 outfits ranged from typical sport-rider’s outfit to a reflective vest with the words “novice cyclist” printed on the back. The 2 other outfits included reflective safety vests, one with the words “POLICEwitness.com/Move Over/Camera Cyclist” on the back, and another that read “POLITE notice, Pass Slowly.”
The cyclist wore a sensor that recorded the distance between passing vehicles and the handlebars’ outermost point. Data from 5,690 passing vehicles were analyzed.
The study found that the average passing distance was about 3.8 feet, regardless of the cyclist’s clothing. Passing drivers moved over another half an inch on average for the police outfit that said the drivers were being videotaped. However, the research found that motorists tended to move closer and harass the cyclist when he wore the police vest, suggesting drivers carefully read the words on cyclists’ jerseys. About 2% of passing vehicles came within 2 feet of the rider, even if the police vest was worn.
Always remember to leave more than enough space when passing a cyclist for their safety and your own. In NYC there is much less room to move and navigate through traffic. Please always be courteous and keep safety in mind when riding next to cyclists!
If you’ve been seriously injured in a bicycle accident due to the negligence of a driver, contact us today. We’re here to help.
Source: Wall Street Journal