After a cyclist was killed in August, people staged a street corner campaign near the state house in Annapolis. (Ashley Halsey photo) After a cyclist was killed in August, people staged a street corner campaign near the state house in Annapolis. (Ashley Halsey photo)

A committee of the Maryland General Assembly will hear testimony Tuesday afternoon on a bill that would require drivers to keep a distance of four feet when they pass people on bicycles.

The bill by Del. Jon S. Cardin (D-11) would increase the distance from three feet to four feet. Cardin, chairman of the general assembly’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Caucus, was a sponsor of the 2010 legislation which established the three-foot passing law. He said that in 2012 more than 800 cyclist-motorist collisions were recorded and at least five resulted in fatalities.

“There have simply been too many incidents of injury and even death from drivers failing to pass at safe distances,” Cardin said. “While increasing driver and rules-of-the-road education remain crucial, increasing the passing distance from three feet to four will protect cyclists.”

In  November, the Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee encouraged Maryland’s Department of Transportation to endorse increased passing distances and to allow motorists to cross a solid lane marker when making a pass.

“We believe that requiring drivers to give bicyclists adequate passing space on every road will save lives, and four feet of clearance should be safer than three feet of clearance,” said Carol Silldorff of Bike Maryland.

HB92 is scheduled for its first hearing Tuesday at 1 p.m. before the House Environmental Matters Committee.