More space for bicyclists will save lives

March 25, 2010

I wish to respond to the letter in the March 22 edition of The Sun entitled "Bicyclists don't need 'three foot rule'" by Galen Wallace. He was responding to the article entitled "Give them room," (March 21) written by cyclist Gregory T. Simmons. Both were discussing the pros and cons of adopting a law that requires motorists to give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing from the rear.

Mr. Wallace says "there are already laws on the books that make it illegal to pass any other vehicle in a dangerous manner." (What does that mean?) And he also said that, "The problem has nothing to do with how the laws are written; it's a lack of enforcement." (It's not about enforcement). Moreover, "writing into law a three-foot passing margin will have no effect on how some people drive without enforcement." (They usually mess up and get caught.) Mr. Simmons argues that a three foot law will help by giving motorists a clear frame of reference on what is and is not a safe passing distance. No vagueness, as with Mr. Wallace's "dangerous manner" -- at least three feet.

Here's the key: with a three foot clearance law if a motorist comes upon a cyclist from the rear and cannot give the cyclist at least three feet clearance, then the motorist must wait until they can safely pass. Some of the 15 states that have this law have also said that the motorist may even cross the two solid center yellow lines if it is safe to do so. So, the motorist benefits by knowing what to do, and the cyclist benefits by not getting hit. It's really a no brainer. These two benefits alone should be enough to stir the members of both houses in Maryland into action. But, it hasn't and that will be a big regret when the next cyclist is killed.

Joe Mizereck, Tallahassee, Fla.

The writer is founder of the "3 Feet Please" campaign.

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