New Law Requires Drivers to Give Bicyclists Three Feet of Space

Drivers in West Virginia are now required to give three feet of space when passing bicycles and can be fined for not doing so under a new state law that went into effect Tuesday.

Violating the three feet rule can result in a $100 fine for the first offense, $200 for a second offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.

Three feet is a little more than half the width of an average car.

The law’s sponsor, Delegate Danny Wells, D-Kanawha, said he saw the need for the three feet rule while riding around the state.

“I’m a longtime biker,” he said. “I’ve biked all over West Virginia and I found myself avoiding highways for the obvious reason that it’s so dangerous.”

Other than the safety factor, he thought the law may give state tourism a boost, as cyclists may be more likely to visit West Virginia with the protection the law offers.

“It’s no guarantee it’s going to suddenly make drivers more aware of cyclists,” he said. “I think just having (the law) there will improve the safety for cyclists and will help tourism. I’m real proud of the bill.”

West Virginia joins 23 other states – including neighbors Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia – that require drivers to give at least three feet of space for bicycles, according to data from Safe Cycling.