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New Bike Passing Law Could 'Relieve' Cyclists
By Bill Hughes
PADUCAH - A local businessman and bicycling advocate says folks who share his passion will benefit from a new law that takes effect Saturday.

The 2018 Kentucky Legislature passed a law that becomes effective on July 14, and requires vehicles passing a bicycle to use the adjacent lane if available, or pass on the left with a distance of at least three feet between the vehicle and the bike. If the bicycle is in a designated bicycle lane, the passing vehicle should still be at least three feet from the bike.  

If the road is too narrow to give three feet clearance, then the passing vehicle should use reasonable caution. This would likely occur on one-lane roads less than 10 to 12 feet wide.  

The new law also allows passing vehicles to legally cross a double yellow line to pass a bicycle – if there is enough sight distance to safely pass, considering the slower speed of the bicycle and greater visibility around the bicycle.

Thirty-four states have similar safe passing laws to use the adjacent lane or give three feet or more. 

Hutch Smith, who owns Bike World in Paducah, says he believes the new law could be difficult to realistically enforce, but will benefit cyclists as more and more people are educated about it. 

Smith said, "Once the word spreads around, and once more and more cars become aware of that, it just makes it that much more comfortable for me, personally, to ride on the highways and ride on the city streets, and when cars go around me, they give me enough room that I feel comfortable."

He said he doesn't believe bicyclists would get a false sense of security from this new law, because most of them are acutely aware of their surroundings while riding.

"Ninety-nine percent of the bicyclists on the road are very much aware that they have to be very alert and smart and not daydream, but pay attention to where they are and what they're doing and where they're going. So, it's not gonna be something that's going to make you more secure, it's gonna be a great relief when a car does give you that extra three feet to go around you," Smith said.

He said most drivers are very friendly and give bicyclists lots of room already, but now a cyclist with a GoPro or other camera might have legal recourse if a driver got too close. 

Like all states, Kentucky law also requires cyclists to follow the basic rules of the road like any operator of a vehicle. Bicyclists must ride with traffic, obey traffic laws and stop at stop signs and red lights. 

When following the rules of the road, a cyclist has the same right-of-way as any car, truck or bus driver. However, state law requires a bicycle to operate as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable. Cyclists are also permitted to ride two abreast, meaning side-by-side, in the same lane. 

Cyclists must also use a white light on the front of the bike and a red reflector or red light in the rear between sunset and sunrise or whenever the weather makes lights necessary.

Laws related to bicycles are in Kentucky Administrative Regulations, KAR 14:020. The three foot law is at KRS 189.300 amended. 

For more information on Kentucky bicycle laws, visit http://bikewalk.ky.gov/ 

Information on the law provided by Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.

Published 06:32 PM, Friday Jul. 13, 2018
Updated 07:20 PM, Friday Jul. 13, 2018

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