Last week, I had an encounter with a driver who misunderstands the 3 foot rule. I was riding along Queen Street between Belmont and Westmount. I was riding in the right hand lane, which left the left hand lane open for cars. Traffic was light. When I pulled up to the stoplight at Westmount, a guy in an SUV, pulled up in the left hand lane, rolled down the window and started to yell at me. He was quite irate, and unfortunately, after trying to talk calmly to him and having him shout me down, I responded angrily too. The point of his tirade was that I wasn’t close enough to the curb. He kept screaming that I only get 3 feet. I tried to explain to him that the 3 foot guideline was the minimum distance cars should give cyclists when passing them. He kept yelling that I only get 3 feet. The handlebars on my commuting bike are 26″ long. That leaves me 10″, or 5″ on each side of my bike. According to the SUV driver, that’s all I get!
The question that I’ve been pondering since then is, how do we educate drivers concerning cycling safety? I’ve long thought that having info about cycling safety in the driver’s handbook and the driver’s exam, is a great idea. However, this only reaches new drivers, though. How do we teach cycling safety to the vast majority of drivers we will run into, those who have had their licenses for years?