Our view: Four feet, it’s the law and it makes perfect sense

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Four feet.

It’s really not that much, just 48 inches.

But it’s enough to save a life, and it’s the law.

With the weather finally turning to more summer-like temperatures, drivers can expect to see more people out on the area roadways riding bicycles.

Pennsylvania law requires that drivers give cyclists 4 feet when passing them. A driver is allowed to cross the double yellow line to give a cyclist the required buffer if it is safe to do so.

If the driver can’t give the cyclist the 4-foot buffer zone, he must wait until he safely can to pass.

It’s that simple, and like we said, it’s the law.

The fine for disobeying the law isn’t much — a mere $25.

And those of us that spend a lot of time using two-wheel transportation in Luzerne County doubt there has ever been a ticket written for violating the law. It wouldn’t surprise some of us to find out that many of our law enforcement personnel may very well not even know about this particular rule.

Still, that’s no excuse to disobey a perfectly sound law.

And let’s face it, the small inconvenience of allowing the buffer zone pales in comparison to the consequences of getting too close to our cycling counterparts.

According to an article in Bicycling, cycling deaths are rising in the United States faster that driving or pedestrian deaths. An average of an additional 55 cyclists have died every year since 2011, according to the article.

No driver wants to be responsible for seriously injuring or even killing someone in an avoidable crash.

The 4-foot law is a good step in making sure that doesn’t happen.

This is not to say that cyclists don’t have responsibilities.

Being on two wheels instead of four doesn’t give cyclists the right to ignore traffic laws.

Stop signs must be obeyed, as do traffic lights and other restrictions. And obeying a stop sign means coming to a complete stop, not slowing down and rolling through it.

With a little cooperation between those of us driving four-wheel, motorized vehicles and those of us who choose to use two-wheel, self-powered transportation, we can have a whole lot safer roads.

– Times Leader

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