The state of Colorado took a huge step in increasing the rights of cyclists last month when it passed a law which goes a long way in clarifying the laws and how they apply to cyclists. More importantly, the new law clarifies how the laws applies to cars and their interaction with cyclists.
OK. I am not a lawyer and I don't even play one on TV so I will try and give you the executive summary of the most important points of the new law. In my humble opinion(IMHO) the most crucial part of the new law is that in Colorado it is now legal to cross over a double yellow line to pass a cyclist. It seems like one of the biggest problems car drivers have in overtaking cyclists is that they are unwilling to cross the double yellow line to make it happen.
It is understandable that car drivers are reluctant to cross a double yellow line to make a pass of another car since that is clearly illegal. But, I could never understand why car drivers felt they couldn't put their driver side wheels a bit over the line to safely pass a bicycle. Maybe it is something about the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law. Now, in the state of Colorado, they are one in the same.
The other portion of the law that I think is crucial deals with the distance car drivers must give cyclists when passing. In France, cars must give cyclists 1.5 meters (about 4 feet) when they are overtaking a cyclist. In Colorado, the new law also states that the buffer be four feet. Any car that buzzes close to a cyclist, for whatever reason, in Colorado is now breaking the law. It is not clear how enforceable this particular statute will be, but at least car drivers now have one standard which to abide.
Hopefully, other states will follow Colorado's lead and pass laws which legalize crossing a double yellow line to pass cyclists and also clarify the distance of the buffer they need to have when making the pass.