Assemblywoman Paulin Introduces Safe Passing Bill in New York

Today Assemblywoman Paulin announced the introduction of a bill that will require motorists to remain at least three feet away from cyclists on the road. This clearance will give motorists a margin of error when passing cyclists in case either the motorist or the cyclist is suddenly required to change course.

The need for this legislation was highlighted last week when Greenburgh resident and cyclist Merrill Cassell was crushed under the wheels of a Westchester Bee-Line bus. Merrill, a tireless advocate for making cycling a realistic transportation option, was traveling in the same direction as a Bee-Line bus on Route 119 in Tarrytown.

“We don’t want people to fear for their lives while bike riding” said Assemblywoman Paulin, “It’s common sense that we pass bills that encourage cycling, an act that encourages good health and helps the environment.”

Enacting a three-foot rule will help increase public awareness that cyclists have a right to be on the road as well as educate motorists about safe practices with cyclists on the road.

"Making roads safer for cyclists is essential in our car-centric world," said David Wilson, president of the 1,400-member Westchester Cycle Club and co-founder of the Westchester-Putnam Bike Walk Alliance. "The three-foot rule will create a safety buffer between cars and cyclists."

According to Jennifer Clunie, executive director of the New York Bicycle Coalition, at least 17 states have passed laws requiring motorists to give cyclists a three-foot buffer, including Connecticut.

"Cyclists may have the need – as well as the legal right – to move further into the travel lane due to hazards such as potholes and gravel, and to be more visible to drivers,” said Clunie, “Enactment of a three foot minimum safe passing law is a step in the right direction toward reducing the high number of bicyclist and pedestrian injures and fatalities that occur each year. The bill will make our roadways safer for everyone.”