How much space should drivers give when passing bicycles?

Here in the USA, it has become ‘fashionable’ but dangerously inadequate for states to introduce laws requiring drivers to leave only three feet of space when passing a bicyclist.  However, there are many circumstances, typically involving speed and/or the size of the vehicle, when passing that closely would at the very least be frightening for the person on the bicycle and at worst be downright dangerous.

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