The 3-foot buffer law – will it hold up in court?

The Salt Lake City Tribune:

Alleged ‘prank’ brings first prosecution under ‘3-foot law’.

Jason Bultman was pedaling his bicycle up 500 East in Salt Lake City in November when a red pickup zoomed up beside him and a hand swiped across his back.

Startled, the all-seasons bicycle commuter feared he was so close to the truck that it would send him sprawling. Instead the truck veered away, the passenger withdrew inside and Bultman took down the license number for what would become the first reported prosecution of Utah’s 2005 law requiring motorists, in most situations, to give cyclists a 3-foot buffer.


“It’s kind of interesting that you can actually prosecute someone for violating the 3-foot law,” Bultman said. “[People] were saying it’s unenforceable.”

Click Here to read the whole article…

It’ll be interesting to see if this actually holds up in court. What do you think?


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0 thoughts on “The 3-foot buffer law – will it hold up in court?”

  1. Donald says:

    The problem with trusting the government to protect us is that the government is biased — most of the people in government drive cars. They view cyclists as pests and would prefer that we not be on the road in the first place. There are exceptions, but for the most part, they don’t know or care how it feels to be in constant danger of stupid motorists playing games with our lives. Last I heard, the motorists even have point systems for their games (we’re worth about 10 I think…).

  2. Rick says:

    Find a yardstick. Do you have any idea how ridiculously close three feet is? It is a real shame that there needs to be a law that cars have to move that far to get around us.

  3. Ghost Rider says:

    I mounted a yardstick as a joke to the back of my bike when Florida passed the three-foot rule here. It is really not that much room, but the photographs make it look like a generous space.

    The joke yardstick I mounted is two-sided…friendly and mean:

    Friendly side:

    Mean side:

  4. Donald says:

    That’s awesome. I considered doing something similar on my bike to make a point… did you get any reactions/feedback from motorists, or anyone for that matter?

  5. Mike Myers says:

    Like GR, I live in Florida. I was hit by a truck last year. Obviously the driver violated the 3 foot rule, right? He was charged with “Improper pass”. The trooper mentioned the 3 foot rule to me, but I don’t know if there’s an actual citation.

    I like the yardstick. I have a Flash Flag on one bike, and it seems to give me a buffer, but I’ve thought about mounting something 3 feet long. Preferably with a roofing nail attached to the end.

  6. Ghost Rider says:

    Donald, as far as reactions, I got a lot of laughs and “great idea!” comments from my fellow cyclists in the area, but the best was the motorist reaction — when confronted with a pointed, bright orange object, they would sometimes veer all the way over into the other lane! I was getting 6 or 8 feet of passing room in a lot of instances!

    Alas, this experiment was short-lived…I misjudged the size of a gap between parked cars and my yardstick was destroyed.

  7. Suzy says:

    @Ghost: If you re-do your yardstick, you could make it hinged so you can lift it up when necessary. Great idea though!

  8. I thought such a stupid thing had only happened to me (sorry, only in portuguese). Guess there’s jerks all over the world. 😉 I sure hope the bastard gats an exemplary punishment.

  9. curlyhairgirl says:

    Ghost Rider….I love your yardstick pics…..too bad it got destroyed.

  10. One would love to see the moron prosecuted, but how does someone really prove that it happened to the degree necessary to convict. Did the bicyclist collect witnesses?

    Hard to enforce because it is hard to prove it happened without some sort of backup of evidence.

    Good luck though…

    – Farmer

  11. Practical Cyclist says:

    Most of my commute is in the state of Utah. I doubt that more than a handful of the seatbelted set in this state even knows we have a three foot buffer law. Most of them just honk when I take a lane on roads that are simply not wide enough for a buffer, a bike, and an SUV. I hope that when taken to a jury of their peers, the dangerous pranksters in this incident will be made enough of an example of that the offense will not be repeated by them nor copied by others. I don’t know what the penalty might be but I seriously doubt that it is very severe, I doubt there would have even been much of a consequence had the startled cyclist fallen and met his death beneath the offender’s truck. In fact, it would probably set those in government to whispering off camera, “Maybe NOW they’ll stay off the road.”

  12. Noah says:

    Kansas has a four-foot law. Dozens of times daily, this law is broken as motorists pass me. Only once have I seen someone get pulled over for buzzing me. And the fact that it’s happened once in less than 2 years of commuting strikes awe from fellow cyclists. They have never seen someone get pulled over for being a jackass to cyclists.

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