Location: HV

New 3-Foot Passing Signs in Harvey County, Kansas

Local bicyclists in Harvey County, Kansas have reason to be proud. They’re responsible for 70 new “3 Feet To Pass, It’s The Law” signs around the county, such as this:

3-Foot Passing Sign

3-Foot Passing Sign in Harvey County, Kansas (photo courtesy of Mike Burke)

This is, as far as I’m aware, the first community in the state that has made an effort promote the 3-Foot Passing Law in Kansas, which was enacted in 2011, and is aimed at encouraging motorists to pass bicyclists safely on our streets and highways.

The law requires that 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”. Despite being well-known among cyclists, the law has received almost no media coverage anywhere in the state, and so motorists are largely ignorant of the statute.

Here’s the story behind the signs, via the Newton Kansan:

The installation of the bicycle safety signs is just one part of a larger grassroots effort to promote cycling in Harvey County. A group called the ReNewton Bicycling Initiative not only came up with the idea for the project, they raised the money and partnered with the county government to make the project a reality.

“It plays so well into improving health, making the community more friendly, more accessible to people,” said Dana Shifflett, a member of the ReNewton bicycling group.

“We’re really pleased that this is happening,” agreed John Waltner, county administrator. “… I just think it’s a win all around.”

The signs are designed to remind motorists that by law, they must give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing them on the road. There will be about 70 signs placed around the county, and the signs will be 30 inches by 30 inches in size. Community members raised the funds for the signs, contributing about $1,400.

In a way, it’s a shame that the state of Kansas (KDOT) is not taking the initiative to erect the signs on their own, everywhere around the state, but is instead depending on local groups and counties to do their work for them.

On the other hand, huzzah to the ReNewton Bicycling Initiative and Harvey County Commissioners for cooperating on this project! At least KDOT didn’t obstruct the signage…

Newton is an especially appropriate place to erect these signs, due to its large and enthusiastic population of local riders, as well as its location along the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, which brings thousands of cross-country bicycle tourists through the county each year (the group had previously put up signs marking the TransAm route).

In addition to the signs, the ReNewton Bicycling Initiative is making plans to do more: “Some of the projects the group would like to tackle in the future include placing bike racks throughout Newton, including in parks and at businesses; promoting bicycle safety and education for children and adults; working with city staff to develop a bicycling master plan for Newton; creating a bicycle racing league for middle and high school students; and creating bike routes that follow the Chisholm Trail.”

What a great local advocacy group!

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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]

3 responses to “New 3-Foot Passing Signs in Harvey County, Kansas”

  1. Dana Shifflett says:

    Randy, thanks for your coverage of our efforts, and I’m sure I speak for every member of the ReNewton Bicycling Initiative. I should mention also that our Harvey County Commissioners and Administrators were very receptive of and enthusiastic for the signs.
    I don’t recall if it was mentioned in the Kansan, but the signs were originally conceived by RNBI member Jerry Smith. I worked with him on this a bit because I, like Jerry, live in rural Harvey (we’re the only “rural” members of the RNBI), but Jerry’s the one who got us an audience with the County Commission and who built and made our presentation to them. The little bit I did amounted mostly to publicity.
    The RNBI has a number of other irons in the fire, and I’m sure people will be hearing more of us. When they do, I hope they’ll see what our community has to offer, and I hope they’ll be inspired to work for the betterment of their own neighborhoods.
    One more thing: I note in your second-to-last paragraph (above) that our “(…group had preciously put up signs marking the TransAm route).” I hadn’t realized we were that proud of our efforts.

  2. Randy Rasa says:

    Thanks for the details, Dana. Love what you all are doing!

    And thanks for the heads-up on the typo … fixed!

  3. Brian L. says:

    Great work by the RNBI — thanks to you, Dana, Jerry, etc. Your efforts really are “precious”. 😉 I wish we could do this in SG county, too. One thing that I noticed: The headlights & driver aren’t correct on the sign. Maybe the design came from England, LOL. But, I guess people won’t notice when they’re busy whizzing past us cyclists at 50+ mph, though. 🙂