Three feet is not a lot of space, but it can be the difference between life and death for people pedaling down the road.
That's the space motorists are supposed to give bicyclists when they pass. It's not a recommendation; it's the law. It first took effect back in 2006, and Florida is now one of 22 states requiring motorists to give cyclists at least three feet when passing.
LINK: Safely passing bicyclists
But a FOX 13 investigation reveals that apparently law enforcement isn't paying much attention to the law because motorists are rarely cited.
In 2012, across the state, law enforcement issued just 84 citations. In Pinellas County, just one citation was issued for the entire year. That doesn't surprise some local cyclists who want to see Florida's law get more attention.
"I don't think people are aware of that law. I don't think they understand the concept that we are to be treated like a vehicle," says Sandra Rich, who rides in Largo.
One of Rich's riding partners says not only do motorists ignore the law, but sometimes they're even hostile to cyclists.
"I had one lady recently tell me that she tried to hit me. When I saw her at the stoplight she said it was because I wasn't far enough in the bike lane," says Heather Elliott-Jones.
There were few citations in Hillsborough County as well, just six in 2012. Lori Luna was run over by a hit-and-run driver on Sheldon Road last year and thinks law enforcement should do more to protect cyclists and prevent accidents.
"I could have orphaned two kids. I could have been a vegetable," says Luna. There were no citations all last year in Polk, Pasco and Hernando counties for violating the three-foot law.
Local law enforcement offered a variety of opinions as possible explanations why there are so few citations. The numbers don't reflect warning notices, as well as citations for Careless Driving, which is a catch-all category.
Still, Bay Area cyclists believe they need to look out for themselves if the law is not being enforced.
"I snug the curb now when I ride," says Luna. "I'm much more cautious than I ever was before."
LOOK UP VIOLATIONS IN YOUR COUNTY:
1) Select the year and select the county you are searching for, or select (SELECT ALL) for statewide numbers.
2) For the agency, enter (SELECT ALL).
3) For Violation Classification, select NON-CRIMINAL (MOVING).
4) For Violation Codes, select 526-IMPROPER OVERTAKING/PASSING BICYCLE.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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