New law makes bicycling safer

Ohio motorists are now required by law to give 3 feet of clearance when passing bicyclists. House Bill 154 went into effect on March 21, after the legislature passed it and Gov. John Kasich signed the bill into law. The previous law required a safe passing distance for vehicles overtaking other vehicles, but did not specify what that distance would be and did not mention bicycles specifically.

The new law:

  • Defines the “safe distance” by which Ohio motorists must pass bicyclists as at least 3 feet.
  • Permits any Ohio vehicle to proceed through an intersection after stopping and yielding right-of-way, when not detected by the device meant to move the signal from red to green.

Being passed too closely by a car or truck when bicycling is scary and can be dangerous, which is why 3-foot "safe passing" laws are becoming common nationally. Thanks to all motor vehicle drivers for observing this rule!

Having to wait for a signal that only changes when detectors buried in the roadway sense traffic can be very frustrating for bicyclists, because too often the detectors aren't sensitive enough to trigger a light to change for a bicycle. Sometimes, the detectors don't work for heavier vehicles either. The new law lets all vehicles proceed with caution if they are stuck at a light that does not change.

Heights Bicycle Coalition

Heights Bicycle Coalition is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to educating and encouraging Heights community members to use bicycles as a sustainable and healthy form of transportation and recreation. Mary Dunbar, HBC member and CH council member, wrote this month's column.

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Volume 10, Issue 4, Posted 6:32 PM, 03.30.2017