January 14, 2023

Because of the pandemic, and the major spread of COVID-19, activities outdoors have increased immensely, and so has bicycling. Bicycle makers have had increased orders, and many times are out of inventory for many weeks, sometimes months. During this time the cost of cycles have increased yet people are still purchasing bicycles at a rapid pace. The sport is booming and this has made sharing the road with these newer cyclists and older more experienced cyclists a priority amongst many vehicle drivers.

How do you pass a bicyclist on a two-lane road going opposite ways? Very carefully would be my answer, as I am a bicyclist. Yet, not a lot of people know the true and safe way to do so. Many slow down to a crawl and wait for either the bicyclist to turn or signal them to pass. While most bicyclists are mindful of the road, and can try to wave you past when it is safe, I believe it is in our nature to try to be safe and share the road as cyclists, so as motorists, please be patient with us. In this time and age everyone wants to get to their location either by vehicle or bike as quickly as they can yet, by not doing it with safety involved, can cause an accident or mishap that can be detrimental to another.

Honking your horn before passing and passing in the same lane as close to bicyclists are a couple of the “pet peeves”, that most cyclists have sharing a lane with drivers. Honking your horn normally startles a cyclist, that hopefully is being mindful of his situation on the road, and knowing that you are behind them yet, it could cause a mishap by the cyclist. A bicyclist has as much right to the lane as the driver, and a driver will not get a ticket for going out of his lane to pass or avoid a bicyclist.

Kansas law now has what they call the’ three feet rule” law when passing a bicyclist, meaning that when a driver passes a bicyclist, they must pass the bicyclist with at least three feet between their vehicle and the bicyclist, or they can possibly receive a citation. The three feet distance is a minimum distance yet, I would doubt that many Kansans are aware of this law, or adhere to it. In Missouri there is no such law of “three feet” to pass a bicyclist. It is stated as “an adequate amount of distance” between the vehicle and the bicyclist, which is usually determined by the driver. I have been on many bike rides and many of our Missouri citizens who are drivers consider an “adequate amount of distance” as only a foot or two, sometimes less.

Please be considerate of what position you are in, whether it be as a driver or a bicyclist. We all want to arrive at our destination safely. Knowing the rules of the road will continue to keep the streets of Lee’s Summit safe.

Michael Vestweber, a Lee’s Summit resident and member of the Livable Streets Advisory Board, a mayor-appointed, volunteer board whose goals include working to make our community and our streets more “livable,” safe and accessible for all of our citizens.