Pennekamp Law

The 3 Foot Rule

Florida law requires drivers stay at least three feet from bike riders who share the road. Break the buffer and get ticketed. But with Lee County being one of those most dangerous in the country for riders, you think there would be more tickets. Surprisingly, there aren’t many.

Three feet could be the space that saves a cyclist’s life.

It happens all too often. Bicyclists hit while sharing the road. There is no time to daydream when you’re riding a bike. For example, an avid rider’s cycling career ended after he was hit from behind by a car while riding in the bicycle lane in Fort Myers. The hospital was his home for weeks as he went through 3 surgeries to have 2 plates in his head and 12 screws to reattach his limbs to his battered body.

The driver that hit Brad broke a Florida law that’s been in effect since 2006. It requires drivers to give riders at least a three-foot buffer. No matter what road you’re on in Lee, Charlotte, or Collier Counties, whether it has a bike path or has no bike path at all, the three foot law still applies regardless of the situation.

Since 2011 in Lee County, 11 cyclists died and more than 230 were injured due to a run-in with a car. The cyclist are really vulnerable out there. During that same time period in Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties, only three tickets were issued for drivers breaking the three foot rule, so work needs to be done to enforce this law to make riders safe.

These numbers may be off by a little because law enforcement says they’ll typically cite a driver during one of these accidents for something other than violation of this three foot law like careless driving. But in all honesty, three tickets in three counties in three years is just not enough enforcement to make cyclists safe. Those are odds cyclists say they’re just not comfortable with.