Ohio’s 3-Foot Passing law, Ohio Revised Code (ORC) §4511.27 and ORC §4511.132—the “dead red” exception—eff. 3-21-17

Highly qualified Super Lawyer & Experienced Cyclist Kenneth Knabe – Protecting Cyclists in Greater Cleveland through injury representation, sponsorships, education and Vision Zero safety legislation. Knabe Law Firm Co., LPA: 14222 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, Ohio 44107. Phone: 216-228-7200.

Bicycling is the second-most popular outdoor activity; commuter cycling is also on a steady upswing with an alarming increase in bicycle accidents and even deaths, especially in the Greater Cleveland area. Ohio has recognized this increase in cycling and accidents and has joined numerous other states in passing the three-foot safe distance passing law. Many thanks to Bikecleveland.org, Ohio Bicycle Federation, Ohio House and Senate, and the Governor for passing much-needed bicycle safety law on a statewide basis. Ohio’s three-foot minimum safe distance passing requirement, ORC §4511.27 and the “dead red” exception, ORC §4511.132 became effective March 21, 2017.

Under newly-enacted ORC §4511.27(A)(1) & (2), a driver of a car passing a cyclist riding in the same direction shall pass to the left at a distance of three feet or more, not driving again to the right until the driver’s vehicle has safely cleared the cyclist. (This rule does not apply at intersections controlled by traffic control signals.) Upon the car’s audible signal, the cyclist being passed must give way to the right in favor of the overtaking car, and the cyclist shall not increase speed until completely passed by the car. A driver that violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor unless convicted of one or more “predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses” which include most other traffic offenses. See ORC §4511.27 (B) & §4511.01 (III) (1)

ORC §4511.132 was amended to permit a cyclist to stop and then safely enter an intersection on “dead red”. This occurs when a red light is not tripped to green because of failing to detect a vehicle, i.e. a bicycle. This is not a license for cyclists to ride through red lights but a specific exception when the light fails to detect the presence of a bicycle and stays red. Entering must be done with great caution and in complete deference to cars entering the intersection on green who have the right of way.

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