Four Foot Passing Law Question

← Back to Forums


brian j
Participant
#

During my commute this morning, I saw two situations that made me wonder if the law could cut both ways (that is, could a cyclist be cited)?

#1: Filtering forward. I know the legality of this is fuzzy, but if I’m passing within a foot of a car that is stopped (or slowed) by traffic, is the four foot law disregarded?

#2: (Related to #1) If I filter forward and get through an intersection ahead of the cars that are stopped, could those drivers then be cited if they didn’t give me the four feet to pass?

I could see in #2 that the cars should give me the four foot berth, but at the same time, I’d also think you shouldn’t filter forward in that situation.

I’m not trying to debate whether the four foot law is good or bad–just trying to understand how a police officer would properly enforce the law.


HiddenVariable
Participant
#

The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a pedalcycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left of the pedalcycle within not less than 4 feet at a careful and prudent reduced speed.

i don’t think this could be construed to mean either of your situations. in neither case is a motor vehicle overtaking a pedalcycle.


brian j
Participant
#

Well, what about in situation #1…let’s say I’m filtering, and the light turns green. Could the driver I’m currently passing be cited? Or the drivers I’ve passed?


jonawebb
Participant
#

I know this will spark controversy, but it’s not so clear that filtering is exactly legal. At best I think the law is ambiguous. I do it, but I take full responsibility for something going wrong (e.g, a driver popping the right side door open without looking).

EDIT: in response to your question, I think the driver you passed while filtering should theoretically give you 4 feet when he passes you, as if you had been there all the time. But I suspect he won’t be inclined to and don’t expect he would be cited if he failed to do so.


brian j
Participant
#

@jon: That’s why I ask–filtering is a gray area–not explicitly allowed, but mentioned in the safe cycling guide put out by the state.


the beast
Participant
#

Apparently it is for motorcycles.

ยง 3523. Operating motorcycles on roadways laned for traffic (b) Overtaking and passing.–The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.


HiddenVariable
Participant
#

the exception that proves the rule?


Anonymous
Inactive
#

Brian, if you filtering it is not “vehicle overtaking a pedalcycle”. Now you are overtaking a vehicle on a right side.


HiddenVariable
Participant
#

Well, what about in situation #1…let’s say I’m filtering, and the light turns green. Could the driver I’m currently passing be cited? Or the drivers I’ve passed?

i suspect this wouldn’t meet the definition of “overtaking”.


rsprake
Participant
#

I doubt any police officer would cite a driver after watching you filter forward unless they did so in a manner that could be perceived as deliberately dangerous.


Mick
Participant
#

Compared with drifting through a stop sign at 0.3 mph, filtering is legal.

Filtering sometimes infuriates drivers.

Sometimes, in only some situations, filtering is safer than not filtering- for example, it can get you through a dangerous section near an intersection while no traffic is moving, but not filtering will put you in in free-for-all with maniacs with paramilitary vehicles.

On the other hand, sometimes it looks totally cool to filter, but it is not.

You might want to avoid filtering in the door zone at a speed where a passenger jumping out would mean a serious incident.

As far as I can see, if you filter past cars at a light, those cars are still not legally allowed to pass you without giving you 4 feet of clearance – even if you take the lane after filtering. In reality, you cannot expect to be given that clearance.

If you filter and then take a lane, you can expect < understatement> some hostility from drivers and society at large.


brian j
Participant
#

Mick, I agree with you, and I generally avoid filtering unless I have plenty of room (I’m thinking Fifth at Craig, with no one parking along Fifth). I was just thinking through the what-ifs, given that plenty of cyclists do filter forward in tight situations.


Mick
Participant
#

I filter in tight situations, but I’ve gotten near enough to trouble that way that I’ve decided to be more cautious.

I’ve never been doored. I’m often in the door zone, but when I am, I keep to near-pedestrian speed. (As I do any time I’m on a sidewalk).


jonawebb
Participant
#

I was in Squirrel Hill and came up on the right side of a car unaccountably stopped next to an empty parking space. As I moved forward thinking, “Are they parking?” the passenger door popped open suddenly. They were dropping off a passenger. Narrowly avoided a collision there, which pretty much would have been my fault, I’d say. I’m pretty cautious in those situations now, even where I doubt anybody would drop off a passenger. There’s always the possibility that some passenger will pop open their door to spit, or drop out trash, or just to see what happens to the filtering biker.


Anonymous
Inactive
#

“If you filter and then take a lane, you can expect < understatement> some hostility from drivers and society at large.” -Mick

It’s like you took the words right out of my mind.

“There’s always the possibility that some passenger will pop open their door… just to see what happens to the filtering biker.” -jonawebb

I worry about that EVERY time I filter.

← Back to Forums

You must be logged in to reply to this topic. Click here to login.

Supported by