The brown mailing envelopes in which Maryland drivers receive their registration or drivers license renewal forms this month include the message "Give bikes THREE FEET when passing, IT'S THE LAW" along with the standard sketch showing a cyclist to the right of a compact car. The message runs about 30% of the length of the envelope, right above the address window, so alot of people will probably notice it. Running along the bottom of the envelope the entire length of the address window is the message "Share the road, You could save a life."
The Motor Vehicle Administration has also created a public service message in which MVA director John Kuo explains that cyclists may use the full lane before he introduces himself. That explanation is provided over about 18 seconds of video shot from a bicycle while cars pass safely. Mr. Kuo goes on to explain the importance of leaving three feet while passing a bike, with more footage of cars passing bikes, including a bike in the middle of a door-zone bike lane.
Although some advoates have argued that the presence of a double yellow line allows drivers to ignore the three-foot rule, that is clearly not the view of the Maryland Department of Transportation: several of the shots show drivers crossing the double yellow line to leave a safe passing distance.
Barry Childress deserves credit for regularly speaking with Mr. Kuo during 2010-2011 to get MVA to promote bike safety. Then last year, the highway safety office was moved to MVA, which put Mr. Kuo in a position to do more.
(Jim Titus is on WABA's Board of Directors and represents Prince George's County on the Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. The views expressed here do not represent the official position of either WABA or MBPAC)