Friday, September 25, 2015

Grand Rapids, Michigan Implements "Five Foot Rule"

Grand Rapids, Michigan has implemented new local bicycle rules that include a "5-Foot Rule" that would require motorists to wait to pass bicyclists until they can do so with a minimum of five feet of clearance between the right side of their vehicle and the bicyclist. This legal development was reported by Matt Vande Bunte in a recent article.

Bicycle Law Can Help Protect Bicyclists

This is a very important legal development from a national perspective as a 5-Foot Rule is a considerable increase (66.67%) over the "standard" 3-Foot Rule seen in most states and municipalities. Grand Rapids originally considered the more common 3-Foot clearance but the Grand Rapids City Commission voted on September 22nd to increase it to five feet at the request of the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition. According to the article, the interim director of the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition, Jay Fowler, was quoted as saying that this rule would accommodate bicycles in Grand Rapids and that they "believe (the 5-Foot Rule) will position Grand Rapids in a very aggressive light." 

Interestingly there was only one dissenting vote among the Grand Rapids City Commission over the concern that a 5-Foot Rule would create congestion because motor vehicle operators would have to wait behind slower bicyclists until there was an opportunity to pass in a safe and legal manner. However, it seems that there was a strong consideration that this aggressive legal position would attract bicyclists to the area knowing that there was an increased legal protection on their side.

Illinois Law Demands Motorists To Give Bicyclists Three Feet When Passing

Here in Illinois our statewide law requires operators of motor vehicles to provide bicyclists at least three feet of distance between the motor vehicle and the bicyclist. The term "The 3-Foot Rule" comes from sub-paragraph (d) of Section 11-703 of the Illinois Rules of the Road:
(625 ILCS 5/11‑703) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑703) Sec. 11‑703. Overtaking a vehicle on the left. The following rules govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules otherwise stated in this Chapter: 
(d) The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle or individual and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.
Illinois Bike Law Attorneys At Keating Law Offices

Here is an Infographic that the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices created regarding the 3-Foot Rule in Illinois:

Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle accidents in Illinois. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois and represents clients throughout Illinois. If you have any questions regarding this post or have a question regarding personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-239-6787 (Office) or 312-208-7702 (Nights/Weekends). Our staff and operators are available around the clock. You can also email 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.