Bicyclists say 3-foot separation needed when vehicles pass

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There have been several bills this legislative session to make the road safer for bicyclists.

One of them would make sure vehicles stay a safe distance from bicycles when passing them.

Four similar bills were introduced into the state Legislature, but now there’s only one left.

The Hawaii Bicycling League is hopeful this last bill will make it through the session.

“We have a law that requires when you pass another vehicle, you do so in a safe manner and really, when it comes to passing a bicyclist, three feet is the minimum safe manner,” said Daniel Alexander, advocacy director with the Hawaii Bicycling League.

The group is supporting House Bill 191, a measure that would require drivers to keep at least three feet between their vehicle and a bicyclist while passing.

“That’s the margin of error for if the bicyclist weaves a little bit, or if there’s something in their path, it allows the vehicle to not hit the bicyclist,” Alexander said.

The league told KHON2 bike lanes are extremely helpful in keeping bicyclists safe, but it said more can be done.

“We don’t have bike lanes everywhere and in those settings, we need to know what the ground rules are,” Alexander said.

Nearly half of bike fatalities nationwide involve the cyclist getting hit from behind or sideswiped.

“By having people give a little more distance, it would reduce the chance of those occurring,” Alexander said.

This isn’t the first time a measure like this has been proposed. A similar bill failed to pass in the Legislature last year.

“No one wants these tragedies to occur, and it’s just figuring out what the path forward is to prevent them from occurring,” Alexander said.

The bill recently passed the House transportation committee and will next be heard by the judiciary committee.

You can track HB191’s progress here.

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