CYCLING - Safe Passing Distance Law

1.5m cycle passing gapAccording to the BC Cycling Coalition on average, four cyclists are injured in a collision with a motor vehicle each day in BC. The group is attempting to convince government that a minimum 1.5m passing distance should be made into law to help stop these collisions.

This viewpoint is echoed by the BC Road Safety Law Reform Group.

Other countries, such as Australia have already done this.

A study in Traffic Psychology and Behavior says "Legislation mandating minimum distances for motorists passing cyclists is seen by advocates as a straightforward way to increase the perceived safety of cycling and thus remove a prominent barrier to the uptake of cycling. The evidence, however, is not as clear."

  1. What is the 'standard', or minimum, normal width of a traffic lane?
  2. What is the 'standard', or minimum, normal width of a bicycle lane?

I guess it's three questions, actually. Because what I want to know is, if a normal width vehicle is travelling in the centre of its lane, and a normal width cyclist is travelling in the centre of his/her bike lane, what will be the actual distance between the two - and will it be at least 1.5 metres?

I mean, this seems like a wonderful concept, but is it at all practicable? Especially on existing multi-lane arterials, with bus lanes and bike lanes and other vehicle lanes and like that?

BC highway lane widths are typically 3.6m.

Most companies measure a bar’s width between the center of each drop. Common sizes are 38, 40, 42, and 44cm.

The width of an average car is between 1.8 and 2.0m according to Google.

If the car drives in the center of the lane, that leaves 0.8m between it and the cyclist if we assume that the cyclist rides with the right side of the handlebars at the edge of the lane and that I've made the correct assumptions and calculations arriving here.

I'm not going to throw a cycle lane into the mix, rather using the most common road configuration instead.

With the rise in use of electric bikes and cargo bikes those dimensions are outdated. That's why I would like to see bridge sidewalk cycling routes one way in the direction of traffic flow. Two large bikes and trailers in opposition can not safely pass one another.
We do have  minimum passing distance legislation in some provinces. It is codifying what should be common sense. In my cycling experience motorists allow as much as a full lane consistently when they can. The issue is when they are pinched by oncoming or overtaking traffic. In these cases the motorist will usually take their full lane, cyclist be damned. Defensive cycling (always having an escape route) maneuvers are the answer to this problem. Legislation will alter perceptions not reality.