LIHUE — A new law is in effect that makes Hawaii’s roads safer for people who ride bicycles.
“This new law is a major step forward in that it requires people driving motor vehicles to give bicyclists at least three feet of clearance when overtaking,” said Tommy Noyes, an avid cyclist who serves as Kauai Path’s executive director.
Gov. David Ige recently signed HB 2215 (Act 47), the three-foot passing bill, at a ceremony held at the Office of the Governor in the Hawaii State Capitol.
HB2215 passed the full Senate and House on May 1. Ige signed the bill into law on June 20, and it took effect July 1.
It requires drivers to allow at least three feet of separation between the driver’s vehicle and the bicycle when passing or overtaking the bicyclist.
That means motorists must allow at least three feet of clear separation from every part of their motor vehicle (such as rear view mirrors, loaded materials, or trailer components) to the bicycle or the bicyclist’s body. Typically the bicyclist’s elbow would extend the furthest toward the travel way.
“The passage of this bill highlights our commitment to ensuring that cyclists are safe on our roads, and that Hawaii becomes a more bicycle friendly community,” said Gov. Ige. “I am happy to sign this bill and make Hawaii the 37th state in the nation to make this commitment.”
Personal and written testimony presented to the legislators was overwhelmingly in favor of the three-foot safe passing measure. The bill received a total of 329 written testimonies – 328 were in support and only one individual was in opposition.
Hawaii Bicycling League took the lead in coordinating passage of this legislation.
“The Safe Passing Three Foot bill makes clear in Hawaii law that three feet is the minimum safe distance for a motorist to give when overtaking a bicyclist,” said Daniel Alexander, HBL’s advocacy, planning, and communication director. “This basic safety law, which already exists in the majority of states, is a simple way to help ensure that we can all share our roads safely.”
In addition to the hundreds of individuals testifying in support, HBL had a powerful coalition of supporting organizations that included AARP, American Diabetes Association, Blue Planet Foundation, Hawaii Cycling Club, Hawaii Public Health Institute, Kauai Path, Maui Bicycling League and Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawaii.
HBL also received strong support from government agencies that work to make sure Hawaii’s streets are safe for everyone – people who bike, walk, and drive.
Those agencies include the Hawaii Department of Transportation, Hawaii Strategic Highway Safety Council, Honolulu Police Department, Honolulu Department of Transportation Services, Kauai Police Department, and Maui Police Department.
Noyes said he urges bicyclists to obey traffic laws and be alert to vehicles approaching them from behind as they ride with the flow of traffic.
“Also, respect and courtesy are the basis for safety on our roads,” he said. “If one or more motorists cannot safely pass within a reasonable length of time, a courteous bicyclist will pull over to the side and allow the faster moving traffic to pass them. The courteous motorist will be patient. We can nurture this attitude of mutual respect and courtesy for the safety of all.”