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Behind the 3 Foot Noodle Experiment

I bought one of the 3 feet please jerseys a few years back. While it did seem to have a small effect and I still wear it when I ride on the road, I noticed that most people took no notice of it. I was a little crushed. I was still being passed uncomfortably close or dangerously close about half ot the time and especially in areas and at times where it was not safe for the car to pass.

This year I had an idea. Today I put it into action. I took a bright orange swimming noodle and made a mark at each foot of the 3 feet I wanted with electrical tape. I strapped this to the back of my Yuba Mundo with a short bungee so that the 3 feet of noodle is sticking out on the left side of my bicycle. Then I put on my three feet please jersey and rode my normal street route to work.

My idea is that this visually shows people how far 3 feet is. In combination with the Jersey I am showing and explaining that I would like 3 feet. People who aren’t paying very good attention may see the noodle and not knowing what it is go around it for fear of their car’s paint job. People who are paying attention will learn what a safe passing distance is.

This morning it was completely effective, every car that passed gave me enough room, and most people gave me more than the 3 feet I was requesting. Only one van tried to pass me even close to the noodle, and that was while I was passing a construction barrel. On a point in Oyster Pond road where I am passed every day in an unsafe manner by motorists, I heard a car slow down and WAIT TO PASS until it was safe. This is a first for me on that section of road.

I live in Falmouth, MA and tourist season is almost upon us. During the summer we are inundated with pedestrians, bicycle rentals, and cars. At the same time, my usual safe access to the bicycle path is under construction with no way for a bicycle to get through. There is another way to the bicycle path, but it is the bus access to the bus station, so it is not the safest place for a bicycle to be. The third way to get there requires riding on a very busy road, which I do not consider a very safe place for a bicycle to ride.

I’m planning this as an ongoing experiment and bicycle advocate/activist activity.So I want to keep educating the drivers in my area by riding this way to work and back along Shore Street/Shore Drive/Oyster Pond Rd and on main street here in Falmouth. I checked the bicycle laws in Mass and I can’t find any way it is illegal. I am hoping it will bring awareness to the 3 foot cause as Mass has not passed a 3 foot law yet.

Please feel free to spread this idea. I think it could be a really inexpensive, effective, advocacy campaign, especially with bike to work month coming up.

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