Location: Kansas

3-Foot Passing: It’s The Law in Kansas!

3-Foot Passing: It's The Law in Kansas! The new 3-foot passing law goes into effect today in the state of Kansas.

The law requires that vehicle pass bicycle with at least three feet of clearance.

Here’s the relevant portion of the statute, as passed by the legislature and signed by the governor:

K.S.A. 8-1516 is hereby amended to read as follows: 8-1516. The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles and bicycles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions and special rules hereinafter stated:

(a) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.

(b) Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of his or her vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

(c) (1) The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a distance of not less than three feet and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken bicycle.

(2) The driver of a vehicle may pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction in a no-passing zone with the duty to execute the pass only when it is safe to do so.

(Read full text of bill)

Here are the salient points (c-1 and c-2):

  • Vehicles must pass to the left
  • There must be at least three feet between the vehicle and the cyclist
  • A passing vehicle must not move back to the right until it’s safe to do so
  • Vehicles may pass a bicycle in a “no-passing zone” (i.e. crossing a solid yellow line), but only if it is safe to do so (no nearby oncoming traffic) and as long as they give the bicycle at least three feet

Note that this new law does not change existing law regarding bicyclist’s position within a lane (8-1590):

8-1590. Riding on bicycles or mopeds; riding on roadways and bicycle paths.

(a) Every person operating a bicycle or a moped upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, except under any of the following situations when: (1) Overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction; (2) preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway; or (3) reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving bicycles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or narrow width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand edge of the roadway.

(b) Any person operating a bicycle or a moped upon a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near to the left side of the roadway as practicable.

(c) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

(d) Wherever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway.

(e) For purposes of this section, “narrow width lane” means a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side-by-side within the lane.

The guidelines from the Kansas Driving Handbook are good to follow:

Motorists in Kansas should expect to encounter bicyclists on all state and local roadways except for the Interstate system where bicyclists are prohibited or where prohibited by local ordinance. Please be considerate of bicyclists who have rights to the roadway. Expect bicyclists to be two feet from the right edge of the roadway or curb. When passing a bicyclist use extreme caution and pass four feet to the left of the bicyclist.

So, under most conditions, position yourself about two feet to the left of the edge of the roadway (i.e. from the curb, gutter, or inside of white fog line). With a bicycle approximately two feet in width, that puts your tires about three feet to the left of the edge, approximately in the right tire track on most roads. Your lane position may need to change depending on conditions (i.e. debris or narrow-width lane).

(Note: While the Driving Handbook says “four feet”, that is only a recommendation, and not the law; the handbook may change upon its next reprinting to reflect the new law.)

The “Dead Red” law, allowing bicyclists and motorcyclists to proceed through malfunctioning traffic signals, when it’s safe to do so, also goes into effect today.

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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-Foot Passing: It’s The Law in Kansas!”

  1. Mark Ike says:

    I’m a cyclist and also a driver, and I find this law very useful. Safe drivers now have a legal reason to avoid at an good distance, without being fined or cursed by other drivers.

    Bicyclist should start feeling safer, as drivers will overtake farther from them.

    At least in theory.