Bikers, Drivers, Rodney King And Robert Frost

Last week, Westport’s board of selectmen — aka the town’s traffic authority — unanimously accepted three “3 Feet Please” signs, donated by the Sound Cyclists Bicycle Club.

The signs publicize Connecticut’s little-known and even-less-followed 3-foot law, requiring drivers to allow at least 3 feet of separation when overtaking and passing cyclists.

The signs will be placed on 3 heavily traveled, hairy-for-cyclists spots heading to the beach, on South Compo, Greens Farms and Hillspoint Roads.


A typical scene near the beach.

The selectmen highlighted other state laws that bikers and drivers should be aware of. For example:

  • Bicyclists traveling on roadways have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists.
  • Bicyclists must stop at red lights, and make a full stop at stop signs.
  • Bicyclists cannot ride into oncoming traffic.
  • Bicyclists must use hand or mechanical signals to communicate with other travelers.
  • Bicyclists may not ride more than 2 abreast.
  • Children under the age of 16 must wear a helmet.

Westport is well known for its lunatic drivers. Cyclists are often terrified on town roads.

But, as the list above shows, there are plenty of laws they ignore too.

In the words of Rodney King: “Can’t we all just get along?”

Probably not. Unless, that is, we follow the words of Robert Frost, and take the road less traveled.


21 responses to “Bikers, Drivers, Rodney King And Robert Frost

  1. Two abreast seems impossible with our narrow and curvy roads. Combine that with the 3 foot rule and I’ll be in oncoming traffic for sure…

  2. Ok




  3. Aryeh Friedman

    I had no idea about this law. I’m going to go against what I expect most of the biker’s comments will be in saying that I usually get the 3′ rule respect from drivers. There are other things cars do that put my life in danger while riding but breaking this law is rarely one of them.

    If you want a tip – don’t ride right up against the curb. Being out a little bit helps drivers be more aware of you and somehow makes them less likely to try and squeeze by.

  4. Richard Fogel

    Cyclists are observed by me in hogging the road in large groups. Not wanting to stop so to keep momentum going. They are extremely aggressive and ride w special entitlement attitude. The law works for all

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Just remember in a auto- bicycle accident- the car driver goes home and deals with the insurance problems, lawsuits and car repairs. The bicyclists go to the hospital and deal with the cuts, abrasions, broken bones, concussions, brain damage or in some cases- their family has to deal with their death!!

    It isn’t a fair fight!! Get annoyed and impatient for a second and someone winds up being unhappy for a lifetime!!

    I am not a bicyclist because I was scared off the roads long ago by a few inattentive, belligerent and/or reckless drivers. I am a radiologist at a local hospital who gets to read the emergency room xrays and sees the broken bones and broken families- and all the police investigating what happened.

  6. These signs, like our “Share the Road” signs, are best placed at the beginning of curvy sections so as to wake up drivers who are tempted to pass bicyclists, and may end up (as Tracy says) in head on collisions.
    In that case, Westport may need more than three signs!

  7. And it might be necessary for our police to go out and enforce the biking rules on a regular basis along the more used routes for both the car drivers and the bikers. You don’t know how many times I’ve had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting a biker who obviously felt that stopping at the Stop sign was not his responsibility. They same to be the most flagrant usurpers of the law.

  8. Mary Ann West

    I concur with Richard Fogel, on Greens Farms there are many who double or triple up and some in the middle of the road…at the S curves. I know I almost hit a man (in blue) who swerved out into traffic, intent on stopping cars. I’m just thankful I saw him and was not distracted.

  9. This topic has been picked at here on this blog a number of times to little avail it seems (except for the above announcement of three new signs).
    Bicyclists should follow the common sense rules. Drivers should follow the common sense rules. Why is this so difficult??

    Re-read “Close Encounters of the Mercedes Kind”.
    Or, learn how to tango.

  10. Dick Lowenstein

    Two abreast? You can’t be serious! That is a six- foot corridor. Cyclists should always ride in single file. By the way, the same goes for pedestrians, who should walk in a single file as traffic approaches them. Many walkers don’t know enough to walk facing the traffic, unless the road forces them to walk with traffic. Hey, these are country roads, not NYC sidewalks.

  11. Roland Lochoff

    It feels safe in a car. Not just physically, but psychologically. In an enclosed metal box, I can look out at the world imperiously. I am private and protected. I get to behave like an autocrat. My nail appointment and my cell phone conversation trump all. Pesky annoyances “out there” conspire to get in my way. How dare they?

    It is the same story replayed in many forms. Community values? — Sounds like communistic. No, I want to speed to my next frivolity post-haste. I matter. You don’t.

    Don’t those cyclists and pedestrians get it? Get in the car. Burn fossill fuels. Get with the program. Get real.

  12. I spent many years biking in the streets of NYC and up 9W to Nyack. Talk about aggressive drivers!!

    Since moving to Westport four years ago I’ve put thousands of mile on my bike and found most drivers to be patient and respectful.

    I give myself AT LEAST three feet from the curb and I do not consider narrow, branch and glass filled breakdown lanes to be for me. You may see me riding in the middle of the street on dangerous turns. Please understand I am not trying to prevent you from your destination, I am just trying to be safe. I am teaching my kids to do the same.

    Some won’t understand or respect my space, but what can I say, I love to bike these area roads!!

  13. From yesterday’s Hartford Courant:

    Share The Road — Or Else

    Connecticut’s “vulnerable user” law, which took effect this month, most likely won’t solve all the problems associated with the various uses of public streets and highways. But it’s a good start, especially if it opens the door to a discussion of how we can be more respectful of one another’s presence on the roads. The law imposes a $1,000 fine on motorists who, in failing to “exercise reasonable care,” injure or kill a so-called “vulnerable user of a public way.” Those users include pedestrians, bicyclists, highway workers, people on horseback, those in wheelchairs, skateboarders, roller skaters and the drivers of farm tractors. Car and truck drivers are not the only ones entitled to use the roads — and in this age of increased bicycling and walking, that’s a message worth sending. Whether the fine will actually reduce injuries or deaths is another question. It’s hard to imagine a motorist’s thinking “Hmm, I’d better not run over that guy, or it could cost me a thousand bucks.” Still, with any luck, the law will increase awareness of how each of us shares the responsibility to use the streets correctly. It takes pains to point out that cyclists, joggers, skaters and other vulnerable users must “show reasonable care … in [the] use of the public way.” In other words: Motorists don’t own the highway, but neither do you. Certainly, the big problem is cars and trucks, because multiton vehicles can easily maim and kill. In an auto-vs.-bicycle crash, there’s little question as to which will be the loser. But cyclists themselves are not infrequently accused of being insensitive to the rights of walkers. Also, many a driver has had to swerve because thoughtless pedestrians are walking side by side too close to the street. And skateboarders? Although mentioned specifically in the law, what are they doing on the roads anyway? Such questions aside, if this new law makes all of us more careful, it will have accomplished its purpose.

    Copyright © 2014, Hartford Courant

  14. I see aggressiveness and an air of entitlement on both sides…I truly do. It’s that simple. It’s what we’ve become as a community. Those who are thoughtful will be so regardless of their mode of transportation.

    In keeping with the sentiment of a Rodney Frost: “BE NICE.”

  15. Aren’t ALL bicyclists required to wear helmets?!
    Or, is there some amendment right for this as well?

    • Only children 15 and under are required to wear helmet.

      After that, apparently people are considered old enough to make their own choice. Helmet requirement for motorcycles is 18 and under.

      I suppose it is a basic intelligence test and/or Darwinism in action.

      Given freedom of choice on helmets, odd that seatbelt laws have no age limits though that’s probably influenced by federal law.

  16. I have yet to see a bicycle rider stop at a stop sign. Last year I almost hit a guy who came racing down a blind hill and through a 4-way stop. I was just starting up from my stop, slammed on my brakes and beeped my horn. He gave me the finger, continued through the intersection and sped away.

  17. Eric Buchroeder SHS '70

    At least he was sensitive enough to flip you the bird. Shows he wasn’t totally self-absorbed.