COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A new bicycle law requires motorists to make room when passing bicyclist traveling along the road in the same direction.
The idea is not only to share the road between bicyclists and vehicles, but it also sets a specific distance how close vehicles can come to a cyclist. State lawmakers passed that law called H.B. 154 last December.
The law states when the a vehicle passes a bicyclist on the road, a minimum three foot cushion is required. That’s the length of a yardstick.
“I’ve been hit by mirrors twice in my riding career, people trying to squeeze by, so hopefully this law will address that,” said Ed Miner, who is a long-time cyclist, who also teaches other riders.
He said the accident happened in Powell and the driver was ticketed after the collision.
The Ohio Bicycle Federation lobbied for seven years to get this law on the books.
“I guess I would tell motorist, sometimes if you are going really fast three feet isn’t even enough, you should give more space and even better, change lanes to pass if the lane is available,” said Patricia Kovacs who is on the board of the Ohio Bicycle Federation.
She teaches cyclist to take the lane, meaning ride in the center of the right-hand lane, but she also teaches to use control-release.
“If it is a narrow lane and you are riding in the lane and there is room and no oncoming traffic, move over and let cars behind you pass,” said Kovacs.
“If everybody follows the rules and does what is predictable, so everybody knows what everyone else is doing, riding on the road is fairly safe most of the time,” Miner said.
The penalty for breaking the law is a minor misdemeanor with the fines left up to the courts. 28 other states have passed similar laws, with some requiring a six foot cushion.
Kovacs said 16 to 20 bicyclists are killed in crashes each year on Ohio roadways. Bike Lawyer Steve Magas said 2015 Ohio statistics show 683 bike accidents involving vehicles through August of that year.
The new law also allows bicyclist, motorcycles and vehicles to proceed through a red light after yielding to oncoming traffic, if the light does not change after stopping and waiting at the intersection.