House Bill 267 dictates distance between passing cars, bikes

Frank Garner

By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

Right now in Montana, motorists may pass someone riding a bicycle as long as the vehicle does not endanger the cyclist. Lawmakers in Helena are considering a bill that would specify just how far away the two have to be from each other.

House Bill 267 would mandate that if a vehicle is traveling less than 35 mph, it must be at least a yard away from the bicycle. If the car is going faster than that, the two must be at least five feet away from each other. The bill describes this distance as reasonable and prudent.

Republican Rep. Frank Garner of Kalispell is carrying the bill.

“My reservation about a single distance is that it puts all the onus on the driver of the vehicle,” Garner said Friday. “So if the person on the bicycle swerved, then all of a sudden the person in the vehicle is noncompliant.”

The House Transportation Committee will hear the bill Monday afternoon at the 2017 Montana Legislature.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.