How much room must drivers give when passing cyclists?

On Behalf of The Law Offices of Goldfine & Bowles, P.C.

March 5, 2021

Roadways are a versatile route that can be shared by motor vehicle drivers and bicyclists in Illinois. When each driver respects the other’s safety, all can remain free of harm while traveling the roadway.

Bicycles don’t travel as fast as vehicles. On roadways that allow for higher speed limits, vehicle drivers are likely to pass bicyclists so that they may maintain a higher speed while traveling. While passing bicyclists is completely legal and occurs every day, there are some safety measures that must be taken to ensure every driver’s safety during the maneuver. A lack of safety measures can result in unfortunate car accidents.

Necessary safety measures

When a motor vehicle driver attempts to pass a bicyclist, it’s important that they give the bicyclist some space. The law requires at least 3 full feet of space between the bicyclist and the vehicle. It’s always a good idea to provide even more space if conditions allow for it. Since most roadways are too narrow for a vehicle to pass a bicyclist with at least 3 feet of buffer space, most drivers will need to merge into the oncoming lane to pass a bicyclist safely.

Motorists may pass a bicyclist in a no-passing zone as long as three key conditions are met. First, the bicyclist must be going less than half the posted speed limit. Second, the driver must be able to pass the bicyclist without going over the speed limit. Lastly, there must be enough distance in the other lane to safely make the pass.

Preventing bicycle accidents

Auto accidents that involve bicyclists can be extremely dangerous. Bicyclists aren’t as well protected as those in a vehicle, so they may incur serious injuries and file personal injury lawsuits against car drivers. Understanding the safe passing buffer will help to reduce the risk of being involved in an accident with a bicyclist.