Many states have a safe 3 foot passing law required by motorists to pass/overtake bicycles. However, there are misconstrued exceptions and wrong interpretations that may leave you as a cyclist in the lurch. Know your rights for when you are protected and when you are NOT.
Lets break it down starting with the basics first. Arizona’s 3 foot passing law is found in A.R.S. 28-735. The basic gist is that a motorist is required to leave a safe distance of “not less than three feet” when overtaking a bicyclist. Want to venture a guess as to how often that happens? Yeah, like almost never. How about this interesting twist… a motorist can be fined for violating this law if he/she causes a serious physical injury up to $500, and only $1,000.00 for killing the cyclist. Wait for it, wait for it, it gets worse: then the notable exception found in subsection C where no fine is prescribed if there was a bicycle lane or path present and passable. Yep you got it, a motorist can violate this law subsequently hitting and killing a cyclist that is legally in the traffic lane (say turning left, etc.) and the driver won’t even be fined. Of course, the general 3 foot law traffic citation could still be given but no fines allocated in that scenario. CRAZY! No one ever said its fair, but it is the law.
Here is the full text of the Arizona 3 Foot Passing Law found in A.R.S. 28-735:
28-735. Overtaking bicycles; civil penalties
A. When overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, a person driving a motor vehicle shall exercise due care by leaving a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet until the motor vehicle is safely past the overtaken bicycle.
B. If a person violates this section and the violation results in a collision causing:
1. Serious physical injury as defined in section 13-105 to another person, the violator is subject to a civil penalty of up to five hundred dollars.
2. Death to another person, the violator is subject to a civil penalty of up to one thousand dollars.
C. Subsection B of this section does not apply to a bicyclist who is injured in a vehicular traffic lane when a designated bicycle lane or path is present and passable.
It should be mentioned that the minimum safe distance of not less than three feet (subsection A) applies to all streets in Arizona regardless of configuration or bicycle position. Streets in Arizona come in all kinds of varieties. Some have shoulders and some do not; some have designated bicycle lanes but most do not. Some streets are paved and some are not. Some streets are divided into lanes and some are not. You get the picture? If you are a cyclist on a street in Arizona then you have a right to be passed by a motorist with a minimum safe distance of not less than three feet. Period. End of story. Additional fines only don’t apply if you are in a traffic lane when there is a passable bicycle lane – again even if that is a legal place to be riding your bicycle.
What about a lane where it is not possible for a motorist to safely share the lane with you on your bicycle and still leave a minimum safe distance of not less than 3 feet? Lets be honest, some lanes if not most are simply not wide enough for this. So what then? Easy, the motorist is required to leave a safe distance of not less than 3 feet to pass you; so he or she must change lanes to legally pass you. Ir alternatively slow down and not pass until the lane width and safety permit a minimum of three feet distance. End of story. However, I highly recommend in that scenario for the good will of the cycling community and the safety of the cyclist that it may be wise to safely slow down and pull over (perhaps stopping) to allow the driver to pas you. This being the case even if necessary to temporarily dismount the bike and exiting off the street allowing for the minimum safe distance of three feet. If you are lucky enough to have a motorist behind you who knows this law and is abiding by t and your cycling is therefore causing a line up of cars to build up behind you then exit the road way and create your own three feet of space. Better that then get buzzed by lots of angry motorists zooming their way past the one car slowly following you waiting for three feet to show up.
On a final and sad note, there is reason to believe that only a few handful of these citations have ever been issued by the police here in Arizona since the bill passed in 2000. In a few notable fatality cases out of Tucson there have been glaring and obvious omissions of these citations where police reportedly forgot to even issue them. Luckily there is one documented case out of Scottsdale where a cyclist was hit and killed and it was reported that the driver plead guilty to violating the 3 foot law and was issued the maximum fine. Clearly we feel that this citation should be freely issued and investigated in nearly every bicycle wreck involving a vehicle and a cyclist. It should be looked at hard and then ruled out as oppose to omitted from the investigation entirely.
Summary: you are protected in Arizona by a Three Foot Safe Passing Law. By “protected” I mean there is a law out there that should be working in your favor but is likely never invoked by your local authorities. Secondly, even if invoked you are not protected by the motorist having to pay a fine if you were in a traffic lane while struck and there was a designated bicycle lane or path – in this scenario no fines to the motorist. Even if the cyclist was legally in the traffic lane when struck. Finally, the fines which I did not address in detail are so low they don’t adequately protect the vulnerability of cyclists and are therefore no deterrent at all for motorists to really give cyclists any space. I.e. A motorist can blatantly violate this law and cause serious injury to you nly to get fined $500, kill you and only get fined $1,000.
At least we have a three foot law… would be an even bigger disappointment if we didn’t.
Keep the rubber side down!
Bicycle crash and bicycle accident lawyer Ben Dodge
A bicycle crash is not always an accident. If you, or someone you know were injured in a bicycle crash or accident caused by a road hazard or dangerous road condition, hire a personal injury attorney who is experienced and has a successful track record. Ben Dodge, a licensed bicycle accident lawyer in Arizona, has dedicated his entire firm to one purpose: representing cyclists. Bicycle accident cases are the only cases Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC handles. Home based out of the great state of Arizona, Ben can still help cyclists in the entire United States. Ben also founded Bike Accident Attorneys Network, a national network of attorneys who focus on representing cyclists. Ben can find you help anywhere in the country.
Ben Dodge has represented and assisted bicycle accident victims across the entire united states. As an avid and competitive cyclist himself, Mr. Dodge currently participates in national and local cycling events all over the country. It isn’t uncommon to spot him in early morning hours out riding his bike. Having competed in 8 Ironman triathlons, numerous local and national cycling races, and a successful finish in the Race Across the West, 2016, he really knows what it is like to ride and race a bike. The day he fell in love with his job was the day he devoted himself completely to bicycle accident cases.
Ben represents cyclists injured in bicycle accidents, at the police station, with insurance companies, and in the courts. He advocates for the rights of all cyclists, not just his clients. He teaches the police about bike laws and bike safety, he educates drivers about the rules of the road, and he trains cyclists and clubs to ride more safely.
A consultation with experienced Arizona bicycle accident attorney Ben Dodge is free
In recent years there has been approximately 700 bicycle fatalities in the united states every single year. Approximately 2,000 bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. approximately 30 fatal bicycle accidents are reported in Arizona every year. Bicycle fatalities are terrible and horrific tragedies that affect the lives of too many families and friends to count. Understanding your rights and obligations as a cyclist can bring clarity to your specific accident situation. It will always be in your best interest to be represented by an attorney who knows the bicycle laws and has a successful track record of winning bicycle accident cases. The negotiation tactics and strategies of winning a case are extremely important but should always take a back row seat to the litigation experience and knowledge of court room rules, local, state, and federal rules of civil procedure that can have significant impact on your bicycle accident case. It is wise to be represented by someone well versed in bicycle accident law, local and state bicycle ordinances, rules, regulations, policies, and laws. You should hire someone very familiar with negligence and tort law, civil procedure, and the rules of evidence as they all relate specifically to bicycle accident cases.
Ben Dodge always offers a complimentary in person consultation to all local cyclists and a complimentary phone consultation to any cyclist injured in a bike accident. Typically the consultations are schedule from 30-60 minutes depending on the severity of the accident. You can expect to get answers to questions, clarity, information, and reassurance of your personal bike accident liability and potential for recovery. In your free consultation you can generally expect to discuss such topics as:
- your specific bike accident details, diagrams, and pictures from your perspective and then from the perspective of your bike accident attorney.
- the applicable local, state, and federal laws underlying your case.
- your cyclist’s rights, obligations, and any potential liability.
- the process, procedure (in and out of court), and the time frame required to conclude your case.
- the value of your case and what you might expect as compensation.
You can call Arizona bicycle lawyer Ben Dodge of bike accident attorneys, PLC at 1.855.663.3922. Mr. Dodge’s staff is standing and ready to accept your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every single day of the year. Ben will personally return your call within 24 hours. there is never an obligation for a complimentary consultation with Mr. Dodge. His passion is in representing cyclists and his entire office stands ready to serve with kindness and patience.
Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC
Call Ben Dodge, the Bicycle Lawyer today at 1.855.663.3922. Reach him by fax at 1.800.958.8902.
Mr. Dodge can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
His main Arizona offices are located at:
Mesa Arizona (home base office)
4824 E. Baseline Rd., Suite 124
Mesa, Arizona 85206
Phoenix Arizona office
2415 e. Camelback rd., suite 700
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
Tucson Arizona office
One South Church Avenue, 12th Floor
Tucson, Arizona 85701
Mr. Dodge represents cyclists in the entire state of Arizona including but not limited to mesa, phoenix, tucson, yuma, gilbert, peoria, glendale, scottsdale, ahwatukee, tempe, chandler, prescott, sedona, flagstaff, surprise, kingman, page, lake havasu city, payson, goodyear, buckeye, queen creek, paradise valley, show low, winslow, maricopa, nogales, globe, avondale, cave creek, fountain hills, apache junction, carefree, wickenburg, pinetop-lakeside, strawberry, anthem, safford, and more. Ben Dodge is currently involved with bicycle accident cases all over the country and has founded a national network of independent bicycle lawyers that can assist in representation in all 50 states.