Get Familiar with Alabama’s Latest Bicycle Safe Passing Law
Brush Up on Rules of the Road for National Bike Month
Get Familiar with Alabama’s Newest Bicycle Safe Passing Law
(Montgomery, Ala.) – May is National Bike Month and a good time for motorists and bicyclists to learn the rules for sharing the road, like Alabama’s latest 3-feet passing law.
This law, which went into effect in late 2015, requires that motorists driving on any roadway in Alabama maintain a minimum 3-feet space between their vehicle and any bicycle it approaches and passes.
The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) is working to remind drivers of the law, which applies when a bicyclist is riding within two feet of the right shoulder roadway.
“Safety is the top priority for ALDOT and Alabama’s roadways,” said Allison Green, ALDOT Drive Safe Alabama coordinator. “We are working to safely integrate bicycle travel into our state transportation system, and the 3-feet passing law is one of the ways we can help improve safety on our roads.”
From 2010 – 2014, just over 19 percent of the bicycle related crashes occurred on state maintained roads. Most bicycle related crashes, Green said, happened on municipal streets, with the remainder on county roads and private property. More data on bicycle crashes and a copy of the 3-feet passing law can be found on the Drive Safe Alabama website.
“Last month, we began airing an “I Give 3 Feet” public service announcement on television stations across the state,” Green said. “Using humor to help drivers remember the law, the PSA highlights some of the uncomfortable ‘off the road’ moments when people get too close.”
Alabama’s laws provide people on bicycles with most of the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles.
With bicyclists being less visible, slower and more vulnerable to injury than motorists, ALDOT has shared some safety tips to keep in mind.
Safety Tips for Motorists
1. Be Careful at Intersections
Assume bicyclists are traveling through intersections unless they signal otherwise, and yield to them as you would a slow-moving vehicle. Do not turn left or right in front of bicyclists unless you can do so safely.
2. Put Away Distractions
Over 1,100 crashes happen each day across the country due to distracted drivers. Stay focused on the road, and don’t text and drive – it’s the law to keep us all safe.
3. Don’t Use Your Horn
It’s startling to the bicyclists. Wait to pass until it’s safe to do so.
Safety Tips for Bicyclists
1. Ride with Traffic
Riding against traffic makes bicyclists more prone to crashes with cars.
2. Be Visible and Wear a Helmet
When riding at night, the law requires a front headlight and a rear reflector. Helmets are required for bicyclists under age 16 and are the best protection from a head injury.
3. Obey the Rules of the Road
Ride straight and in a predictable manner. Yield to pedestrians and obey all traffic signals and signs.
Alabama residents have until July 7, 2017, to provide ALDOT with input into the final draft of the state’s new Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. The purpose of the plan is to establish a vision for integrating bicycling and walking into the state of Alabama transportation system. The plan will also help guide investment in bicycle and pedestrian facilities on local streets that intersect with state routes.
The draft plan is accessible from the home page of the ALDOT website (www.dot.state.al.us) under the “Featured Information” section. After reviewing the plan, comments should be emailed to
ALDOTBicycleandpedestrianteam@dot.state.al.us or mailed to ALDOT, Attn: Bicycle and Pedestrian Team, 1100 John Overton Drive, P.O. Box 303050, Montgomery, Ala. 36110.