All but six states in the United States have some law on the books that specifies how a driver should pass a cyclist when sharing the road. These laws are designed to limit the number of accidents between cars and bicycle riders by making sure there is adequate distance between the two, especially when a car is passing a bicycle. In the state of Connecticut this law has been designed with the hope of limiting New Haven bicycle accidents.
Connecticut general statutes read that, “A “safe distance” means not less than three (3) feet when the driver of a vehicle overtakes and passes a person riding a bicycle.” This is the legal definition to make sure you are following the rules of the road, but you should use your best judgement when you are trying to pass a cyclist. There are times when, in your judgement, three feet may not be adequate space to leave when passing a cyclist and therefore you should give yourself space.
Here are some other best practices you should keep in mind when approaching a cyclist;
- Do not pass when there is on-coming traffic in the other lane. Trying to “squeeze” past a cyclist is a recipe for disaster and can set you up for getting into an accident and causing injuries.
- When moving over to pass a cyclist always use your blinker. Just as you would when passing a motor vehicle you will want to make every effort to signal to both the cyclist and other traffic in your lane that you are planning to pull out and pass the cyclist.
- Give yourself ample time to pass safely. If there is an on-coming vehicle you should wait until it passes by. If the on-coming vehicle can be seen, there is not enough time to safely pass.
- Never try to pass on a sharp turn in the road. Wait for the cyclist to clear the turn and then make your move to pass them.
- Do not use your horn in any circumstance. A horn can startle a cyclist and may lead to erratic riding which could put you and the cyclist in real danger.
There is a responsibility for both the cyclist and you as the driver to do everything in your power to safely share the road with each other. The safest way to protect cyclists is to have them ride in protected bike lanes, which we are lucky to have many of in the Elm City, but if a cyclist is not on a protected bike lane there are rules you should both be following to avoid a New Haven bicycle accident.
After taking all precautions there will still be moments where accidents do happen if you’ve been injured by one such accident you may need to speak with an experienced attorney to review your case. Contact our office immediately and one of our attorneys will speak with you and review your case to work with you to protect your long-term interests.