Tuesday, January 12

From the Planner's Desk: Safe to Pass

Apparently I’m going to be on the radio this coming Thursday.  Gary Bentley hosts Bike Talk (on a rotating basis with John Fry) on Thursdays at 1pm.  You can listen to Bike Talk on WLXL 95.7 fm or tune in at www.lexingtoncommunityradio.org
Right now Senate Bill 80 is before the (Kentucky) Senate Transportation Committee.  SB80 is the “Safe Passing Law” that has been proposed and championed by Dixie Moore. 
Basically SB80 is:
AN ACT relating to the overtaking of bicycles on a roadway.
      Amend KRS 189.300 to require operators of bicycles to travel upon the right- hand side of the traveled portion of a highway; provide that bicyclists shall not have to ride on the shoulder of the highway; amend KRS 189.340 to require vehicles overtaking bicycles to pass at a distance of at least three feet; specify when a motor vehicle may pass a bicycle to the left of the center of a roadway.
I have mixed feelings about a three foot law.  I don't feel like they really do as much as they should or as they seem like they do.  They are basically unenforceable in a meaningful way.  And what I mean by that is that if you are injured or killed because someone violated the three foot law whatever penalty is imposed is no consolation.  And if there's no vehicle to cyclist contact then unless you have a police officer as a witness who is also a strong cycling advocate then its moot.

However, not having a three foot law is legally insensitive.  Not having a three foot law ignores the need for motorists to give cyclists ample room on the roadway.  And having a three foot law provides a platform for education and understanding.  It is the beginning of the right kind of dialogue.  We need more positive conversations about the increase of cycling on the roads in Kentucky.  So far we've not had a lot of negative press, though one particular story opened the Pandora's box of negative motorist sentiment toward cyclists that didn't seem to be opened before.

It's time to take the reins and direct the conversation toward better relations and better conditions for cyclists and away from the detrimental spew that results from a sensationalistic news story that really isn't relative to the big picture.

So while I would prefer to see stronger legislation and more harsh penalties for distracted and irresponsible driving I will put my shoulder behind this effort as it currently has the most momentum and does provide a positive benefit to the cycling community in my state.  I'm not conceding here.  I feel like this is a good first step.  But three foot laws are not the be all end all protection cyclists need on the roadways. 

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