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Safety Laws for Motorists Passing Cyclists in Louisville

In Louisville, when a motorist passes a cyclist, he or she must give the cyclist three feet of distance between the bike and the car.

When a motorist overtakes a bicycle on the road, the cyclist is at the mercy of the driver of the vehicle to pass safely. According to a report from the League of American Cyclists, the majority of crashes (42 percent) occur when the driver overtakes the cyclist and either rear-ends or sideswipes the cyclist. The next closest type of crash was the broadside or T-bone collision at 10 percent.

Bikes as “Vehicles”

Kentucky law states that bicycles are to be operated as vehicles when ridden on the city streets. A cyclist has the option of riding in a bike lane, or one the sidewalk (only those 11 and under and only parts of the city), or in traffic with motor vehicles.

If a cyclist is unable to keep up with the flow of traffic, then the cyclist must ride in a bike lane, and if none exist, then on the far right-hand side of the right lane.

Three-Feet for Safety

Cyclists that are traveling on the right-hand side of the right lane are at the highest risk of getting hit by a motor vehicle. Louisville cyclists are now protected by a Kentucky law passed in 2018 that requires that when a cyclist is riding in either a bike lane or on the right-hand side of the right lane, the motorist must give at least three feet between the bike and the vehicle. (KRS 189.340)

The law states that any vehicles overtaking a bicycle or electric scooter in the same direction:

  • Move to a lane to the left if available, if not available,
  • Pass on the left with three feet between the bike and the vehicle,
    • If the lane is too narrow to allow three feet, then pass with caution.
  • The motorist is allowed to cross a double yellow, no-passing line for a short distance to get by the bike using reasonable caution.

The law is designed to keep cyclists safe from vehicles that overtake them and to give motor vehicles the ability to pass without fear of getting a ticket for crossing the double yellow line. As of October of 2019, 26 states have passed laws giving cyclists at least a three-foot safety buffer between them and passing vehicles. A full list can be found at takeyourlane.com.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, call the attorneys at Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, at 800 937-8443, for your free consultation and case evaluation. If you call, you will immediately speak to a member of the legal team and not a message machine. You can also Live Chat with an expert who can immediately begin helping you with your claim. Contact them today to start getting the compensation for your injuries that you deserve.

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