Does the 3 Foot Bike Law in Alabama Make Roads Safer?

Our bicycle accident lawyers discuss bicycle safety in Alabama.

Alabama’s 3 foot bike law, which went into effect in 2015, was designed to give bicyclists a larger safety buffer when interacting with other vehicles on the road. The law requires motorists to leave at least 3 feet between their vehicle and a bicycle when encountering one on the road.

Nowadays, more people are riding bikes for commuting as well as exercise.  When a driver is negligent, it could cause a bicycle accident that results in a serious injury or death. The most common bicycle-related accidents include injuries to the head, neck or back, as well as broken bones.

What Is the 3 Foot Bike Law?

The Alabama bike law (Alabama Code § 32-5A-82) requires that drivers on any road must leave at least 3 feet of space between their car and a bicycle. Not only does this law create a safer environment, but it could also ease tensions on the road between motorists and bicyclists. New signs for the 3 foot law are being installed on roadways to help raise awareness to share the road with cyclists.

Here are the main elements of the law:

  • The bike law places the responsibility on a driver of a vehicle that is approaching a bicyclist to leave at least 3 feet of space. This law could make it easier for bicyclists to prove liability on the part of the motorist if they are hit.
  • When a reasonable distance is set at 3 feet or more, the law reinforces the most commonly required safe passing distance for a motorist and bicyclist to safely avoid collisions.
  • The Alabama bike law makes clear that the distance of 3 feet at a minimum isn’t an absolute. While the 3 foot law defines a safe distance, more space may be required between a driver and bicyclist when considering their speed or any dangerous road conditions.
  • The 3 foot law in Alabama also informs drivers, police and the courts about the minimum size of the zone that drivers must give to cyclists when passing. This could prove crucial for building an accident case if the driver is found in violation of the law.

Common types of bicycle and vehicle accidents that the 3 foot bike law and other safe driving practices could help prevent include:

  1. Passing – The driver doesn’t see the cyclist, fails to give them proper space, passes and hits the bicycle.
  2. Failure to Yield – The driver neglects to stop, going through a stop sign or traffic light, or fails to look both ways before crossing an intersection.
  3. Backing Out – The vehicle backs out from a driveway or in a parking lot. They don’t see the cyclist and they collide.
  4. Left or Right-Hand Turn Accidents – The motorist makes a right or left-hand turn in front of the cyclist and cuts them off, causing an accident.

The attorneys at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., in Huntsville include avid cyclists who are knowledgeable about Alabama bike laws. We sympathize with the dangers that cyclists face on the roads of our state.

Our experienced lawyers help injured bicyclists recover damages for injuries, medical bills, damaged property, and lost wages from work. It’s important to consult with an attorney before contacting the insurance company of the at-fault driver. We are prepared to protect your rights. Please contact our bicycle accident attorneys in Huntsville by phone or online now for a free consultation and advice about your best legal options.

Harvey B. Morris is a lifelong Alabamian who has been practicing law in Huntsville since getting his law degree and passing the state bar in 1966.