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Kentucky Safe Passing Law Takes Effect July 14

The 2018 Kentucky Legislature passed a three-foot bicycle passing law sponsored by Rep. Jerry Miller that will take effect July 14, 2018.

The law requires vehicles passing a bicycle to use the adjacent lane if available. If an adjacent lane is not available, then the passing vehicle should pass to the left at a distance not less than three feet between the vehicle and the bicycle.  If the bicycle is in a bicycle lane, the passing vehicle should still be at least three feet from the bicycle.

Distance is measured from the outmost portion of the vehicle to the outmost portion of the bicycle. A pickup truck with wide view mirrors would require a space of three feet from the mirrors to the end of the bicycle handlebar.

If the roadway, the distance from the edge of the pavement to the other side of the pavement, is too narrow to give three feet clearance, then the passing vehicle should use reasonable caution. Typically this will occur on one-lane roads less than 10 to 12 feet wide.

The new law also allows passing vehicles to legally cross a double yellow line to pass a bicycle – if there is enough sight distance to safely pass, considering the slower speed of the bicycle and greater visibility around the bicycle.

Thirty-four states have similar safe passing laws to use the adjacent lane or give three feet or more.

Like all states, Kentucky law also requires cyclists to follow the basic rules of the road.  Like any operator of a vehicle, a bicyclist must ride with traffic, obey traffic laws and stop at stop signs and red lights.

When following the rules of the road, a cyclist has the same right-of-way as any car, truck or bus driver.

However, state law requires a bicycle to operate as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable. While the word “practicable” is undefined, there are many exceptions cited when it would be unreasonable or unsafe to ride on the right side of the lane – for example, to avoid parked cars, surface hazards, or moving vehicles.

Cyclists are also permitted to ride two abreast, meaning side-by-side, in the same lane.

Cyclists must also use a white light on the front of the bike and a red reflector or red light in the rear between sunset and sunrise or whenever the weather makes lights necessary.

Laws related to bicycles are in Kentucky Administrative Regulations, KAR 14:020. The three foot law is at KRS 189.300 amended.

For more information on Kentucky bicycle laws, visit , contact Troy Hearn, Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, (502) 782-5060,,  the  Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, Phone: (502) 564-1438, or Dixie Moore,

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