Passing a bicycle: Here's the rules
There seems to be a fair amount of confusion about the rules of the road when it comes to motor vehicles are bicycles. So every once in a while Getting There will pass along a nugget of wisdom from the Maryland Driver's Manual.
What follows needs to be updated in one respect: As of Oct. 1, the 3-foot clearance mentioned below will be the law, not just a suggestion. (Boldface added by the blogger.)
Passing a Bicyclist
When passing a bicyclist, wait until it is safe and allow adequate
clearance (usually about three feet from the side of your vehicle)
and return to your lane when you can clearly see the bicyclist in
your rear view mirror. Do not use your horn to alert or alarm the
rider. If you are unable to safely pass, reduce your speed, follow the
bicycle and wait for a safe opportunity to pass.
A bicycle should be operated as close to the right side of the road as
practical and safe. However, cyclists are expected to use turn lanes.
Merge safely with bicycle traffic when turning. Do not make right
turns across the path of bicycle traffic. It is common for an experienced
cyclist to reach speeds of 20-30 miles per hour and be closer
than you think.
The boldface items are added for the following reasons:
1. Several readers have written to me saying it is their practice to give bicyclists "a little toot" when they feel the rider isn't performing up to standard. It's funny how one person's little toot sounds like a full-blown honk to the tootee. The horn exists only to warn of imminent danger, not to chide, admonish, criticize or vent. And the last thing a bicyclist needs is to be startled by a horn blast.
2. The bicycle rider is not required to stay to the far right when there is debris on the shoulder or when the lane is so narrow that a car cannot pass safely. At times, it is not only legal but recommended that a bicyclist occupy the middle of the lane. If you lose your cool about being delayed by a rider in the middle, you are in the wrong. Of course, the prudent and courteous bicyclist will move to the right and let the motorist pass as soon as there's a reasonable opportunity. But it's the bicyclist who decides what's reasonable. For instance, bicyclists need momentum to go up hills. Don't expect them to pull over on an uphill grade just because a trailing driver is in a hurry.
3. Bold-faced because it's so important, and so many drivers make this mistake with fatal results.