Thursday, April 19, 2012

Video Shows Motorist Buzzing Bicyclist, Violating 3-Foot Buffer Law

A recent video posted on Facebook shows a motorist on a local narrow road coming up on a bicyclist in the same traffic lane.

There's also a car coming in the opposite direction.

See the video here.

So, what does the driver do?

Does he slow down, wait for the oncoming car to pass in the opposite lane and then safely drive around the cyclist?

Or does he speed up, buzz the bicyclist and zip around the cyclist beating the oncoming driver in the opposite lane by a few seconds?

This being the Tampa Bay area, the motorist buzzes the cyclist -- violating the state law that requires a motorist to pass a bicyclist by a minimum distance of three feet -- and zips back into the lane before the oncoming car.

The scene was captured by a bicyclist's hemlet-cam. The bicyclist caught up with the motorist and tried to inform the motorist about the state's 3-foot buffer law.

The lesson didn't go over well on the driver, who tells the bicyclist to bike on the sidewalk. For bicyclists in an area with many roads that lack bike lanes and shoulders, it's a scene played out all the time.

What's the law and what's the standard here?

I refer to the folks at Cycling Savvy, who have a wonderful program educating bicyclists about the best lane positions to take and, in doing so, explains to motorists why a bicyclist is in a specific position in the road.

"Most overtaking crashes involve a motorist who attempts to squeeze past (illegally) in a lane that is too narrow to share," according to

Cycling Savvy says, "While Florida law [FS316.2065-5] does say bicyclists must drive 'as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway,' it also provides many exceptions to this rule, including

•When overtaking and passing another vehicle

•When traveling at or near the same speed as other traffic

•When preparing for a left turn

•Where a lane is too narrow to share safely with another vehicle

•To avoid any condition that makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge"

Indeed, many roads around Tampa Bay are too narrow to share safely with another vehicle, so as a bicyclist I will be "taking the lane" when there is an oncoming car and then waving a motorist behind me to go around me when there is no oncoming traffic.

In the case captured by this video, I likely would have taken the lane because it is too dangerous and narrow to share it safely with another vehicle and would have forced the motorist to move at my speed until the car in the oncoming lane passed.

To educate the motorized travellers in Tampa about the 3-foot law, I am also happy to say that Tampa lawyer J, Steele Olmstead of South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers is donating $2,000 to the Tampa Police Department to add more Share the Road Give 3 Feet Decals to the rear windows of Tampa police cruisers.


Anonymous said...

Called Clearwater Disc Golf about the inconsiderate and poor driving and the gal (mgr) couldn't care less and hung up on me.

Anonymous said...

I rarely comment on anything... however, I cannot believe the utter disregard Clearwater Disc Golf has shown in this situation. I'm a native Floridian who has been carfree for two years now and this incident is all too familiar. It blows my mind that this business would not immediately apologize and then goes as far as blaming the cyclist and saying he is looking for this. I've been reading the comments on Facebook (much of which have been deleted by the company) Along with the youtube and bikeforums postings. All I can say is, Shame on you Clearwater Disc Golf.

Anonymous said...

I called and the woman said she has seen it many times and the driver was passing with at least 3 feet. She refused to hear anything further.'s the deal. educated them that 3 feet is the distance. What did that accomplish?

Here's why the education got that response. You need to tell people why.

Here's the why: If a motorcycle, scooter, or bicyclist is 5 or 6 feet tall, the motorist passes 3 feet from the rider, and the rider must lay the bike down in an emergency, what will the motorist run over? (Answer: rider's chest or head)

When motorists know why, they usually do a much safer job of driving because most motorists care. If they don't care, they at least don't want to get their cars dirty.

Anonymous said...

Due to the company and driver being so completely uneducated, the driver and company need to be reported to the Florida Dept of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).

Please tell your friend to do this since he was the witness:

Got to the DHSMV website and click on Forms to get this page:

In the Driver License section, find and click on Report a Driver. Fill out the form.

Anonymous said...

If a person causes a crash while driving a company vehicle, the company can be sued for allowing a dangerous driver to operate a company vehicle.

That could be very bad for the company.

Perhaps their lawyer needs to know what the company's driver is doing???

Anonymous said...

Since that lane is too narrow to safely share with another vehicle, have your friend take the lane from now on.

Taking the lane helps uneducated motorists know there's not enough space. It really does cause more motorists to pass with a safe distance.

Uneducated motorists might yell profanity and honk the horn. But they'll usually pass with a safe distance, especially if you have witnesses.

To confirm this info, go to the Florida Bicycle Association's blog and ask them.