House approves 3-foot distance to pass bikes

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan motorists would have to allow 3 feet of clearance while passing a bike on the road unless it is “impracticable” under legislation approved Wednesday by the state House, which also voted to require teen drivers to learn about laws pertaining to cyclists and other vulnerable roadway users.

Michigan is among 11 states with no “safe passing” law, and bicyclists have been lobbying lawmakers to act. Thirty-eight cyclists were killed on Michigan roads in 2016 — the last year for which figures are available — almost double the number from two years earlier. Nearly 2,000 were injured.

As introduced, drivers would have had to wait for 5 feet of clearance before passing a bike — a wider berth than all but one other state. Rep. Holly Hughes, a Montague Republican and sponsor of the bill, said the 3-foot marker is “progress and a foot in the door” on legislation that stalled in the past.

The new distance rules will take effect in August 2019.