The Chainlink

I'm most likely going to go full on crazy-looking-bicycle-guy.  The snow/ice yesterday forced my commute more into normal traffic and I'm uncomfortable with the close passers.  I'm gonna do the pool noodle thing.  What is the safe passing distance when a car is passing a bicycle?  How long should this noodle be?  I was thinking about 3 feet.

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You may want to put something sharp on the end of that noodle to create a permanent reminder to the motorist about the 3 foot rule...

Thanks. I'm not looking to get killed in a road rage incident. I just want a bit of space.

State law sez three feet.

Has any car driver ever been ticked for passing to close?

There’s at least one video i saw online by cyclist who happenned to record a close pass and a cop immediately ticketing that driver... very gratifying but i guess astronomically rare!

The law in Illinois is that a bicyclist must ride as near to the right as is "practicable," meaning safe. You don't have to ride on snow. A motorist is to give AT LEAST 3-feet when passing. This means that they should give even more if possible. Passing a cyclist shouldn't be a game of "how close can I get....." 

I've made up a 15"extension arm that swivels out to my right side from my rear bike rack, with a reflector at its far end, facing back.   Sounds simple, but hinged white reflector arms are sold in every bike shop in Finland, and probably elsewhere.  You could also mount a blinky or red bike light out there on that 15" arm.  

When I'm riding in light traffic, and I don't need the arm, I keep it swiveled in and Velco-taped to my bike rack.  But when I ride in heavy traffic, day or night, I swivel that white arm out to visually force drivers to pass further away from me...or wait until they can.  Studies in Europe have shown that while you don't get a full 15" of extra passing room, on average, cars tend to pass bikes using this arm 8" further to the left.  Could make all the difference in your comfort level.

The commercially-produced arms in Finland are hinged, mount to the rear bike wheel bolt, and easily flip out of the way when not needed.  I've tried to find them on line in the US, but have had no luck.

I ended up using my child's  toy lightsaber.  I think it did the job well. 

I like the 3' arm AND the rear basket, both on the left side.  But then, he seems to be overcompensating for that long riding too far to the RIGHT, and in the 'door zone' of that parked car! 

Yes, a 3' passing zone IS required for bikes by law.  But really, all we want is half that.  Right?  Guess that's the downside of taking the concept too far; being safe on your left side...and getting doored on your right.

I really like the idea of putting a reflector or a blinky on the end of that.


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