Location: Colorado

3-2-1 Courtesy Code

Bicycle Colorado is introducing a new education campaign for safer roads – the 3-2-1 Courtesy Code:

3-2-1 Courtesy Code

The three precepts are:

  • 3 feet to pass
  • 2 abreast when clear
  • 1 single file to allow passing

Courtesy. It’s a really simple concept. Just treat others as you’d have them treat you.

If you’re driving a car, give cyclists plenty of room when you pass.

If you’re riding a bike, give motorists as much room as you can safely offer.

This is of particular relevance in Colorado, where there is often friction between motorists and cyclists as they negotiate to share narrow and curvy mountain roads. But it applies to all roadway users, everywhere.

Yes, in most places, the law says that a cyclist is entitled to the full use of the lane, and when the lane is not wide enough to share, they do not need to ride as far to the right as practicable. And many cyclists take that to mean that they don’t have to give an inch.

And yes, even with cyclists queuing up into single file on a narrow road with no shoulders, a motorist will still need to cross the center line to safely pass cyclists.

And no, I don’t think they’re advocating riding the white line. Whether you’re riding alone or with a single-file group, proper lane positioning puts your tire approximately three feet from the inner edge of the white line. The idea here is to give yourself some room to work with, while encouraging the motorist to give you plenty of passing room.

In most circumstances, moving from 2-abreast to single file doesn’t impact your safety, and it doesn’t lessen the motorist’s responsibilities to drive safely.

But it does send a powerful signal. It tells the motorist that you know they’re back there, and that you’re doing your best to share the road.

Courtesy. Respect. Cooperation. Those principles apply to everyone.

As Bicycle Colorado says, the purpose here is to “seek goodwill and positive sharing of the road with motorists; safety is the ultimate goal.”

There’s plenty of road for everyone. We all just need to share.

Learn more at Bicycle Colorado, or sign their online pledge form.

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

One response to “3-2-1 Courtesy Code”

  1. Dan says:

    “I don’t think they’re advocating riding the white line. (…)proper lane positioning puts your tire approximately three feet from the inner edge of the white line.”

    I don’t think this point gets made often enough. I frequently hear cyclists complain about being squeezed by passing cars ‘and I was riding on the white line giving them plenty of room.’

    Riding the white line gives the impression it’s OK to squeeze by the cyclist rather than pass appropriately.