3 Feet: It’s The Law!

New road signs appeared recently on Greens Farms Road:

The little yellow rectangle reminds everyone — if they can read it — that there must be 3 feet of space between drivers and bicyclists.

Alert reader Lawrence Zlatkin — who took the photo, and sent it in — asks, “Will Westport drivers heed its warning?”

That’s a good question.

An equally good one: Will bikers?

53 responses to “3 Feet: It’s The Law!

  1. So these are Real? Part of me wondered if they were just vigilante bike riders placing these…

  2. Equally important for everyone’s safety
    Bicyclists must ride in a single line
    Side by sides are great for talking but not for safety. Plus, it’s also the law.

    • Spencer Friedman

      Sorry Mark, but you are incorrect about riding single file. Cyclists can ride two abreast. Here are some other rules. The first should be common courtesy but seems we are lacking a bit in Westport and other towns.

      • Bicyclists traveling on roadways have the same rights and responsibilities as
      • Bicyclists must stop at red lights.
      • Bicyclists must make a full stop at stop signs.
      • Bicyclists cannot ride on the right side of the road into oncoming traffic.
      • Bicyclists must use hand or mechanical signals to communicate with other
      travelers, but signals need not be given continuously.
      • CT State law allows cyclists to ride two abreast but no more than two abreast.
      • Motorists must allow a minimum of 3 feet of separation when passing a bicyclist.
      • Motorists must provide a minimum of 3 feet of passing area around a cyclist
      when emerging from driveways and alleys.
      • Bicyclists can ride on sidewalks and in crosswalks but when doing so have the
      same responsibilities and rights as pedestrians. For example, they need to wait for
      the proper cross walk signal.

      • Also, motorists must be at least 100 feet ahead of a cyclist before making a right turn across his path.

      • Spencer: Dan recently recounted a story from a Westport mom who had encountered rude adults when she went bike riding in town with her three boys. I recall a few comments made that described how bicycles can not be operated on a sidewalk in Connecticut, per state law.

        You have stated that bicyclists can ride on crosswalks. Are you certain this is allowed in Connecticut?



        • Spencer Friedman

          Good Morning Elaine, I don’t make the rules I just Google them 🙂

          • Elaine Marino

            Spencer: Thank you for providing the link.

            Below is an 06880 reader’s post abut riding bicycles on sidewalks:

            “Bikes are NOT allowed on sidewalks. Not sure why the posting references Connecticut state law to justify riding in a bike lane, but fails to recognize that riding a bike on a sidewalk is a violation of the state law:

            Ch 3 Section 14 – 286: “No person shall operate a bicycle upon a sidewalk”

            That response seemed legit, and I would not have questioned it until I read your post. I looked at the citation provided by the fellow 06880 reader last month , and realized that language had been omitted from the citation:

            Under Ch 3 Section 14 – 286: “No person shall operate a bicycle upon a sidewalk if such operation is prohibited by any ordinance of any town or by any regulation of the state traffic commission or by any regulation of the state traffic commission.”

            In Westport, bicycles can be operated on sidewalks because – as far as I am aware – the town does not prohibit persons from doing so. However, if you ride a bike in New Haven, be aware that city regulations do not permit adults and children older than 12 years old to ride bicycles on sidewalks. Violators could be subject to a maximum $75 fine.


  3. As a biker I would be the first to admit that some don’t follow the rules of the road but as a driver it is a sure bet that fewer drivers follow the rules especially when it comes to common courtesy toward bikers. The signs in the picture have been up for around a year and no drivers either can’t read them or don’t care. My biggest complaint is the drivers who cut off bikers. The 3 foot rule doesn’t help this.They don’t appreciate we are going around 20mph but they can’t wait for us to pass before they turn into a driveway or road.

  4. “SHARE THE ROAD” signs work well… where I live, that is.

  5. gerald f. romano, jr.

    Gerald Romano
    The small print says the sign is sponsored by cyclist club / good idea
    except I don’t see a bike lane painted on the road
    So if 1 or 20 cyclist ride in the middle of the lane a car to be 3 feet away puts it in the on coming traffic lane
    wouldn’t it not be safer for the cyclist to heed a 2 to 4 ton car
    Just a thought

  6. Bill Boyd (Staples 1966)

    Sometimes I come upon bikes riding two abreast…..wtf….
    I quit riding bicycles years ago…too dangerous.

  7. A few hundred feet, beyond the new sign, there is a blind curve with barely enough room for cars to maneuver past each other. How about a safer roadway here? Bikers beware – cars can NOT see you on this portion of Greens Farms road.

  8. When was the last time you saw a bicyclist stop at a stop sign?

  9. Michael Don Sullivan

    Dan! I love your wit!

  10. I’m going to start carrying a tape measure in my center console…I can mark 3 feet with red tape and then extend it out the passenger window as I’m passing a bicyclist..

  11. Fun that Dan considers an accident waiting to happen.

  12. Mutual respect yes – but a bike v a car surely when we are driving we should remember a cyclist is far more vulnerable than those driving the car. Patience and passing at a safe time and distance are key. For those in their cars, think if you were on that bike or your family – how would you want to be regarded as a user of the road?

  13. I think bicyclists will have a hard time expecting and demanding observation of the laws that benefit them (such as the 3 feet law) while forever breaking every other law that applies to them – such as stopping, yes actually stopping, at stop signs and red lights.

  14. It’s too bad bicyclists don’t have to be licensed as drivers and motorcyclists are. I’ve taken classes in bicycling and there are many rules (most of them common sense) that should be followed. For example, don’t make a left-hand turn — get off your bike and walk it; ride single file; stop at stop signs and red lights. But there are rude drivers, too. Some think it’s funny to blast their horns when approaching a cyclist.

    • Don’t make a left hand turn? What? Actually, the rule for left turns is to signal them and occupy the entire travel lane from which left turns are made at the intersection in question.

  15. Sometimes the only way to NOT get hit by a car is to ride in the center of the lane… away from the shoulder of the road… especially when coming upon a ‘blind’ curve in the road. When bicyclists do this we are not being negligent, or mindless. We are trying to be seen and avoid getting hit by fast moving cars. It is a constant challenge.

  16. Carl Addison Swanson

    My experience in the bike path on Westport byways and highways is excellent, whether running or biking. I was confronted by a horse today on Cross Highway and gladly yielded. I am still amazed the Staples cross country runners RUN with traffic (i.e. the right side of the road). WTF?

  17. The frightening thing is when drivers are attempting to pass cyclist(s) or postal employees, Fedex drivers, etc and they veer into the opposite lane. Scares the heck out of anyone driving when an oncoming car is coming head on in your lane! Happens on North Compo all the time. God forbid they wait or slow down….

  18. Another thing motorists seem to forget is that bikers are not restricted to the right side of the white lane line. That can be a cornocupia of debris, branches, road kill, glass, etc. I’ve been biking Fairfield County for a long time and right in the middle of the lane is where I feel most comfortable. As a motorist, you can surely wait a few seconds to find an appropriate place to pass me.

  19. I’m just as concerned about the “jogging mommy”with the double stroller who takes up more room than any bike..I promised myself that I would stop and speak to her about the safety of this activity but she has ear buds or whatever they’re called plugged in….and ,by the way,the babies are in the front of the jogger…..so unless someone hits her from behind…get the idea?

  20. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    My autistic son was recently run off the road and needed 15 stitches. The driver never stopped.

  21. Carol Christiaanse

    I saw these signs in Fairfield and hoped that they would be put up in Westport too. As I walk my dog, I hope that the three feet rule would also apply to pedestrians (two and four footed alike). BTW it seems like ever since they repaved Greens Farms Road all the traffic has speeded up on it.

  22. I truly believe there are many Connecticans, perhaps even the majority of them, who don’t know that we are a “shared roadway” state, which means no one has the legal right of way.

    • Carl Addison Swanson

      Actually, according to state statutes, a pedestrian always has the right of way. But tell that to drivers at the crosswalks at Bedford Middle and North Avenue.

    • According to Webster’s New International Dictionary, 1993, a person who is a native or resident of Connecticut is a “Connecticuter”. There are numerous other terms in print, but not in use, such as: “Connecticotian” – Cotton Mather in 1702. “Connecticutensian” – Samuel Peters in 1781. “Nutmegger” is sometimes used.

      Personally, I prefer “Nutmegger.”

  23. Pedestrians have the right of way unless at a controlled intersection. i.e. an intersection with a traffic light or with a stop sign or with an officer directing traffic. Amazing how nobody reads the entire statute.. See CGS 14-300 and 14-300(c)…

  24. Wow. Rough crowd. 🙂

  25. That was supposed to be a smile, not a flat-mouthed face. My info was from a local police officer to whom I was complaining about almost being run over (constantly) walking on Lyons Plains. And I did look up “Connecticut-person” and didn’t like any of the options. I’m from Illinois, originally. Let’s try again for the smile: 🙂

  26. In a bit of irony today, I was walking on Soundview, when a cyclist rode by with the “Three Feet Please” and arrow on the back of his his yellow jersey (with a black font, just like the sign in the pic, did he win a “Tour de Westport” stage?). I said to my wife, I bet he won’t stop for the stop sign at the intersection South Compo. Yes, he met my expectations and cruised past the sign, without a signal/hand gesture. I wished I had recorded it. The proverbial “do as I say, not as I do.” I just figured he was above the law (as almost all cyclists think they are).

    Rather than link to a third party, here are links to the CT General Assembly Statutes:
    … ride as close to the right side of the roadway as is safe:

    Left & Right turns:

    I tried to find a citation for Mr. Bruce’s quote (“motorists must be at least 100 feet ahead of a cyclist before making a right turn across his path.”) but couldn’t find it within the CGA but I could have missed it. Which statute is it?

    • 14-242(f): No person operating a vehicle who overtakes and passes a person riding a bicycle and proceeding in the same direction shall make a right turn at any intersection or into any private road or driveway unless the turn can be made with reasonable safety and will not impede the travel of the person riding the bicycle.

      So my recollection of 100 feet is perhaps a guideline rather than the rule. “Reasonable safety” makes sense, but many drivers have no concept of what’s reasonably safe to a cyclist. If I’m going 18-20 mph on the bicycle, 100 feet will not be safe enough, since at 20 mph it only takes about 3 seconds to cover 100 feet.

    • Spencer Friedman

      Hi Matt, Please provide me with the make and model of your car, plus your licenses plate. I will look for you and make sure that you make a complete stop at every stop sign as well as check to make sure that you don’t go above the posted speed limit. Oh, i’ll check to see that you always use your signal. Just want to make sure you are following every rule on the road. I will have my phone and will record it for everyone to see. I’m sure you will meet my expectations, almost all drivers do 😉

      • Even better, I’ll forward my dash cam videos. You can hear the turn signals, see the hood do the drop when the car comes to a complete stop. The memory card is full of those videos. And you bet I do it just for folks who inquire if I do.
        But why are you discounting what we saw? I was pointing out the irony of it. I hope you are not inferring that every cyclist is perfect. Judging by the other comments here, I’d say not. Look in the mirror.
        May I have your make, model, and your license plate, too, so we can witness your perfection?
        I’m regretting that I didn’t grab my camera of the “3 feet” cyclist, and record it. It’s too bad he did not stop, as I would have had to eat my words.
        Look, none of us are perfect. In the past 36 hours, we’ve learned there are more important things in life.

  27. Use mirrors. Any style for any human, animal or vehicle.