ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello signed a new law Tuesday designed to protect bicyclists.
The law, known as Carrie Ray’s 3-Foot passing law, requires vehicles to give a minimum three feet of clearance when passing around a vehicle.
“Every year in Monroe County, at least 150 bicyclists are struck by vehicles and injured while riding on local roads,” Bello said. “Typically, at least four of those die from injuries. It’s up to all of us to be sure that while we’re driving, we share the road.”
The law is named after Carrie Ray, who was killed in October 2019 while riding her bike along route 260, Sweden Walker Road in the Town of Clarkson. She and a pickup truck were traveling Southbound along the road, in the same direction when she was hit. In 2019, a Clarkson resident petitioned town officials to makes changes to Route 260, after the death of a Brockport teacher along the road.
“Unfortunately, New York state law dos not do bicyclists justice,” Bello said. “The law is ambiguous on how much space we should give bicyclists on the road, and the law just says that drivers need to maintain a ‘safe distance,’ but what does that mean? What is a safe distance? How should it be enforced? And how do we teach and train our drivers to keep a safe distance if it’s not clear?”
Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia already require a safe passing distance of three feet, and Suffolk County on Long Island passed a 3-foot law in April.”
“Carrie’s Law makes it clear,” Bello said. “It requires drivers give a minimum of three feet clearance when they’re going around a bicyclist. This is a critical piece of legislation; it’s a no-brainer, a no-nonsense bill that will help keep us all safer and prevent future loss of life.”
For Tuesday’s announcement, Bello was by joined by Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart (D-21), Monroe County Legislator Jackie Smith (R-2), Michael Ray and members of Reconnect Rochester.
“The standard in more than 30 states in our country is a minimum of three feet, and in some places it’s more,” Barnhart said. “So we’re bringing Monroe County in line with most of the rest of the country, and we’re at the forefront of what bicycle safety in New York state. This is extremely important and it will save lives.”
“This legislation exemplifies Carrie Ray’s legacy of caring for her family and her community,” Smith said. “In acting this local law, Carrie’s memory will be honored, bringing awareness to how dangerous the road can be for cyclists and pedestrians in our community.”
“It’s my hope that this bill actually causes absolutely no more tickets to be written,” said Michael Ray, Carrie’s husband. “If this bill can educate one other person to take seriously the responsibilities, to share the roads with others — that it’s your responsibility to control your vehicle in a manner that keeps everyone around you safe, to be proactive instead of reactive, we won’t have anymore tickets to write and this bill will have done exactly what it needs to do.”
“The majority of drivers just don’t know the law or what happens to a cyclist when a driver passes too closely,” said Jesse Peers, Reconnect Rochester cycling coordinator. “This three-foot law provides clarity. Regardless of our mode of transportation, we all have more to learn about safely sharing our roads.”
This is a developing story. News 8 WROC will provide updates as they become available.