Lee County Pushes “3 Feet Please” Campaign to Protect Bicyclists

There’s a new message aimed at bicycle safety in Southwest Florida.

“3 Feet Please — It’s The Law.”

It’s popping up on bicyclists, vehicles and even county buses. According to The News-Press, it’s a move to remind drivers that they’re required to leave at least 3 feet between their vehicle and bicyclists at all times. It’s all a part of FS. 316.083 — a law that most drivers don’t know about.

Our Fort Myers bicycle accident lawyers know bicyclists face some serious risks along our roadways. They have the same rights as motorists and we need to treat them the same. According to law, bicyclists are recognized as motor vehicles on our roadways. They follow the same rules as we do and we need to follow the same rules when traveling near them. Under Florida law, all vehicles — whether a bicycle or a tractor-trailer — are required a 3 feet clearance when passing. This is for safety — obviously. Drivers are asked to be more cautious when passing on narrower roadways.

This 3-feet law was passed close to 10 years ago. The “3 Feet Please” campaign was launched as a result of a number of accidents, close calls and injuries in the state. Too many bicyclists were being threatened by vehicles passing too closely.

The state of Florida continues to be one of the most dangerous in the nation when it comes to cycling crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were nearly 100 bicyclists who were killed in Florida in 2010. We ranked in at number two for the highest number of these kinds of accidents in the nation.

You wouldn’t pass another vehicle too closely. Why would you do it to a bicyclist?

Riders throughout the state of Florida have been sporting t-shirts with the campaign slogan on them to help to remind motorists of bicyclists’ rights. Raising that awareness has been the motivation behind Lee County adding the “3 Feet Please” decals to county buses.

If you see a bicyclist — give them space. Not only is it the law, but it’s the compassionate thing to do. We’re all out here together trying to get to where we need to be. Let’s help each other do so safely. When you see a bicycle, just move over. Remember that the bicyclist could be you one day, and you’d want drivers to be on the lookout for you.