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Personally, I think 3 feet of passing is fine... 5 feet seems excessive, and might actually lead to more dangerous behavior by motorists trying to follow this law.

Of course, I'm not sure why it matters... I've never seen anyone cited for driving too close to a cyclist.

Agree with Matt. 5 is overkill. 3 is acceptable.

Another thing I just thought of. If I have my drivers side door open for an extended period while I'm digging stuff out of the car (let's say 30-60 seconds), and a bicyclist comes along and hits my door, is it really my fault? Per DC's law, it looks like the answer is yes, even though my door was open long before the bicyclist came along.

Something in between Maryland's and DC's law may make sense, but if I'm at fault in the scenario I described above, DC's law is overkill.

"Cyclists don't get hit from behind very often, but when they do it is often deadly."

Do you have a source for this, out of curiosity?

Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, the driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicycle being ridden by a person. [WC: which provision would allow the lack of due care?]

What the due care clause means is that even if you have right of way you can't just run people over; right of way isn't absolute. So even if a cyclist runs a red light, rides the wrong way or rides at night without lights a motorist still has a duty to avoid hitting him.

I'm not sure why this law is necessary, drivers have a duty of care to others in both statute and common law, there's no need for a special duty of care to cyclists, and the law says nothing special.

@Andrew, here. It accounts for about 4.8% of all crashes and 30% of the time results in serious or fatal injuries.

Froggie, I guess it depends on the definition of "doored". Is crashing into a car door that has been open for 60 seconds actually "getting doored" or did you just crash into a stationary object? Hitting a parked car is not the same as being "cut off". I think a dooring involves recent motion. I'd love to see some case law on this though.

A funny observation:

Do the laws not count if a bicycle is ridden by a bear?

(See the line, "any bicycle being ridden by a person")

But seriously, 3 feet is a good thing, 5 might be overkill.

I think they were trying to distinguish between a bicycle in use and one laying on the ground or something.

I'm not sure the reason why Iowa feels they need 5 feet (insert fat Midwesterner joke here) but I'd be interested in hearing it.

Iowa has a lot of roads that are two lanes, no shoulder, 55 mph speed limit. I'd want 5 feet on a road like that.

Probably something along those lines. Especially since, except for the Interstates, Iowa pretty much lacks paved shoulders period (even on the major 4-lane routes like US 218 or US 20).

I also thought that 3 feet was enough until I saw this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TQ7aID1jHs

@ Kristen
Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Kind of strange how they singled out bicycles being ridden by a person.

Though I've never been hit from behind by a car, I've had a couple of jerks drive up on me, intentionally trying to force me out of the lane. One guy did this when I was on Independence Avenue late on a Sunday night. There was absolutely no other traffic on the road for at least 100 feet. The other lane was completely empty and yet he rode up on me flashing his lights and pulling up until he was just a few feet behind me. *#$!!##%

Unfortunately I had to give way. Even though I had every right to be in the lane, my rights wouldn't have much meaning if a guy in a huge SUV wants to run me over. I hadn't done anything to provoke him either. No red-light running, no weaving in and out of lanes, no single-finger greetings, etc.

I'm assuming that intentional vehicular harassment is a crime.

Please note the illegal act is not having an open door it is *opening* the door when it is not safe to do so.

MD ยง 21-1105. Opening and closing vehicle doors. makes it illegal to open a car door so that it interferes with the movement of other traffic. Which should apply to cyclists as well.

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