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bicycle loop detector

Three bills important to Nevada bicyclists are before the legislature in this 2013 legislative session. If you’re a bicyclist, a quick note to your Assembly Member or Senator, voicing your support, will make a difference when they are deciding how to vote. The first to be heard is…

AB117 – Left Turn on Red

Isn’t it frustrating to be waiting for a green arrow so you can make a left turn and you discover that the detector loop hasn’t recognized you? What do you do? If you’re like me, you wait to see if it’s going to pick you up on the next cycle. Sometimes I wiggle around to try to make it see me. Then, if I don’t get a green, I “run” the red light, violating the traffic law and risking a citation.

It turns out that motorcyclists have this problem, too. It’s not the mass of the vehicle or the weight that triggers the signal, I’ve recently learned. It’s the metal surface area and orientation of that metal that triggers the detector.

AB117 addresses those legal issues. Here is the formal title on the bill:

Title: “AN ACT relating to rules of the road; allowing a person driving a motorcycle, moped or trimobile or riding a bicycle or an electric bicycle to proceed through an intersection against a red traffic signal in certain circumstances; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”

Essentially what it says is that it will now be legal to ride through a red left turn signal that has failed to detect you if 1) you have sat through two cycles of the light and 2) you have yielded to all of the other traffic. Probably the most important aspect of the bill is that it clarifies who is responsible in a collision. Since the bicyclist or motorcyclist riding through the red left turn signal is always required to yield to other traffic, in a collision he or she is always at fault.

AB117 will be a law that makes legal what all safe cyclists do already. That is a good thing.

Please send a note of support to the Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Transportation Committees and your representatives:

Assemblyman Richard Carrillo, Chair – Richard.Carrillo@asm.state.nv.us

Senator Mark A. Manendo, Chair – Mark.Manendo@sen.state.nv.us

Find out who represents you here – – http://mapserve1.leg.state.nv.us/whoRU/

All you need to say is something like this, “I’m a bicyclist in ____________, Nevada. I support AB117 and urge you to vote for its passage”.

Here’s another way, through the system, to express your opinion – https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/77th2013/A/

Here’s a link to the full AB117 – http://legiscan.com/NV/text/AB117/id/741841

And here’s a link fpr advice on triggering the light – http://youtu.be/Sj-mNB6dLkk

(Next up is AB145 – Complete Streets)

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The conventional wisdom assumes that massive transportation projects are far more economically strategic than bike lanes. But the release of two studies from two very different cities – Portland, OR and New York City – reveals that bicyclists and pedestrians may spend more than their peers who arrive at the same neighborhoods via automobile or public transportation.

Whether businesses reached out and made their locations more bicycle friendly, or streets were redesigned to include bike lanes, the overall outcome has been increased spending in local neighborhoods. Shoppers who arrive in urban neighborhoods via cars may spend more in one sitting–but overall those who arrived on foot or by bicycling spent more month to month. The results indicate that neighborhoods and business districts that seek a healthier bottom line should work with municipalities and support such features as protected bike lanes, bicycle racks and pedestrian safety improvements.

A study that New York-based Transportation Alternatives completed demonstrates the positive impact of bicycling in Manhattan’s East Village. Newly created bike lanes on First and Second Avenues led to a sharp increase in bicycle ridership in the study’s focus area. Such improvements are particularly important to women because they are less likely to commute by bicycle if a route lacks dedicated bicycle lanes. The result is a 24 percent rate of residents bicycling in their neighborhood; the average in all of New York City is only one percent. But those who traipse about the East Village by bike spend the most week-to-week at an average of $163 a week. Car users, on the other hand, fall behind with average expenditures of $111 a week.

Kelly Clifton, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Portland State University, found similar conclusions in her study of bicycling trends in the Rose City. Portland is one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the U.S., but business owners often have the perception that auto access equals dollars–and anything that possibly impedes auto access, capacity or parking will hit their revenues. Clifton, through surveying residents at various neighborhoods throughout the city, found the opposite. While customers who drive to various establishments may spend more money per visit, bicyclists visit the same venue more often, and spend more overall.

The findings of both surveys, particularly the one in Portland, show that bicycling is a win-win all around. Such benefits as exercise (in a country with a morbid obesity rate) and reduced emissions are obvious. But as is the case with many business initiatives with a focus on sustainability, targeting, welcoming and marketing to bicyclists makes solid business sense. The lessons of neighborhoods in cities from Fresno to Missoula, and neighborhoods in cities with established bicycle networks in Chicago, is that welcoming all visitors, instead of excluding some, strengthens communities–and bank accounts. The business case for bicycling has become an even easier one to make.

From GreenGoPost.com

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Bike Advocacy Corner

Members of MusclePower, the Nevada Bicycle Advisory Board and the Nevada Bicycle Coalition met and sorted through all of the potential pro-bicyclist legislation that could be requested this legislative session. A child helmet bill, the Idaho stop sign law, and the 3 foot passing rule were among those considered. What made the cut was a Vulnerable Roadway Users bill similar to the one in Oregon. State Assembly Member Teresa Benitas-Thompson agreed to co-sponsor it with David Bobzien.

Assembly Rep Benitez-Thompson & Lilly

We haven’t seen the bill draft yet but it should look a lot like the Oregon law. The Oregon Vulnerable Roadway Users Law defines a new class of “vulnerable” road user and proscribes new, tougher penalties for careless driving leading to serious injury or death of one of these users.  In Oregon a “vulnerable user” means a pedestrian, a highway worker, a person riding an animal or a person operating any of the following on a public way, crosswalk or shoulder of the highway: a farm tractor or implement of husbandry; a skateboard; roller skates; in-line skates; a scooter; or a bicycle.

This law requires a court to sentence a person convicted of this offense to complete a traffic safety course, perform 100 to 200 hours of community service, pay a fine of up to $12,500, and suspension of driving privileges for one year. Payment of the fine and suspension of driving privileges may be waived by the court upon completion of the traffic safety course and community service.

To my way of thinking, the point of this is to give the judge a bigger hammer when the careless motorist says something like, “Bicyclists belong on the sidewalk” or “It was the bicyclist’s own fault for being in the road”. Of course the other point is to somehow balance the power and protection a motorist enjoys against the lack of power and protection of a vulnerable user by making the motorist more “vulnerable”.

You can help with the e-mail and letter campaign or come to Carson City to testify when the bill is being considered. If you want to roam the halls of the capital talking to legislators or to find other vulnerable users to testify, please let me know. We could use your help. I’ll keep you posted – Terry

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New Right Turn Signal

New Right Turn Signal

AB247 becomes Nevada law on October 1, 2009. Here’s the gist of it:

 

Legislative Counsel’s Digest:

Existing [Nevada] law provides that every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway is generally subject to the provisions of chapter 484 of NRS which apply to drivers of vehicles. (NRS 484.503) Existing law requires the driver of a vehicle to signal an intention to turn from a direct course continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled in a business or residential district and not less than the last 300 feet traveled in any other area. (NRS 484.343) Section 2 of this bill exempts the operator of a bicycle from these requirements and instead requires the operator only to signal his intention to turn at least one time, unless the bicycle is in a designated turn lane or when safe operation of the bicycle requires the operator to keep both hands on the bicycle. Existing law provides for the methods of giving signals by hand and arm. (NRS 484.347) Section 3 of this bill authorizes an operator of a bicycle to signal for a right turn by extending his right hand and arm horizontally and to the right side of the bicycle.

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The so called “Bike Bill” made it out of the NV Assembly Transportation Committee and now moves on to the Senate Energy, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee, thanks to the efforts of Assemblyman David Bobzien.

The Nevada Bicycle Coalition authored the bill to change traffic code in 3 ways:

1. Allow a bicyclist to intermittently signal a turn or make no signal at all for a turn if to do so would be unsafe or to signal a turn by his position in a lane. Current law requires the operator of a vehicle to signal 100 to 300 feet before making a turn, a virtually impossible task in most bicycling situations.
2. Allow a bicyclist to signal a right turn by extending his right arm, in addition to the traditional left hand signal with the arm bent at the elbow and forearm extended upward. This is much more intuitive, is how most avid cyclists signal a right turn and is more visible to following motorists.
3. Make local traffic codes’ “Mandatory Side Path” laws void. Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas all have mandatory side path laws that read similar to this: “Whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway”. Studies have shown that, statistically, riding on a bike path is more dangerous than riding in a bike lane. But, like a state’s motorist accident statistic tells you nothing about the safety of a particular road, these studies generally tell you nothing about the safety of a particular bike path. The real issue is about the ability of a bicyclist to choose for himself whether riding on a particular bike path is the safest course. Mandatory side path laws take that ability to choose away.

Item 3 turned out to be the most difficult point to make to the transportation committee members, who have been part of funding many bike paths around the state. I offer this scenario as an example:

There’s a really good bike path along the west side of Sparks Boulevard near Disc Drive. When a bicyclist is southbound, the safest course is to jump onto this bike path. There are very few streets that intersect this section of the path and riding on the west side of the road going southbound is with the flow of traffic. When a bicyclist is northbound, it’s another story. To leave the bike lane on the east side of the road to reach the path on the west side, a bicyclist has to cross 4 lanes of motorist traffic. When the bike path ends, he has to cross 4 motorist lanes to get back to the bike lane. And when he’s on the bike path heading north on the west side of the road, he’s effectively riding against the flow of traffic with all of the dangers that that entails. The safest course for the northbound bicyclist is to stay in the bike lane.

But, despite having to leap this hurdle, the committee passed the bill. Yea! Now on to the Senate…

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bike-lane-example-w-treesThe League of American Bicyclists recently published a list of $2.18 billion worth of proposed projects for bicycle facilities to be potentially funded by the economic stimulus package. To my mind, these kind of projects fit perfectly because they are both a way to stimulate the economy and to address our long term need to become more energy independent. The heck with the plug in hybrid… bicycles take no fuel at all. No transportation is greener than a bicycle, except maybe Huck Finn’s wooden raft.

So how many of those projects were on the list from Nevada? Zero, nada, none. Is this caused by a lack of imagination or is this just another example of Nevada being on the bottom of all of the good lists and top of all of the bad?

In any case, the train is leaving and we’re going to left at the station.

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Nevada Bicycle Coalition

 

With so much emphasis on accountability these days, I thought I would give an accounting of the bicycle advocacy activities of the Nevada Bicycle Coalition, both for you and myself. The NBC was active in many projects and issues in 2008.

 

January – This Blog was born. See it at www.nevadabike.org. This was an effort to get some kind of Internet presence for NBC without spending a lot of cash or time, after getting so many requests for directions to our “website”.

 

February – Police versus Cyclist Bias meeting. What started as an Internet “rant” about the injustices upon bicyclists perpetrated by law enforcement ended with a meeting with about 50 cyclists and 20 Reno, Sparks, Washoe County senior police officials to discuss how to make roads safer for bicyclists and the challenges law enforcement faces. Everyone learned something and left with a better appreciation for the other’s point of view and a commitment to work together to improve bicycle safety. A more tangible result was a video produced by Washoe County Sheriff Haley’s Office discussing bicycle safety, traffic laws for bicyclists and the state of bicycling in northern Nevada. It aired on SNCAT, community access television for northern Nevada, in October.

You can view the video at http://washoe-nv.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=78&publish_id=&event_id.

 

March – Bikes and Big Trucks. NDOT and the NBC started work on a course for drivers of semi-trucks to educate them and bicyclists how to safely share the road. The design team included representatives from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, DMV, Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Associated General Contractors. The vision is that this course will be part of truck drivers OSHA training and distributed by the Nevada Motor Transport Association when completed.

 

April – we participated in the production of a DPS bicycle safety billboard designed and produced by IGT and Jeff Ross Photography, and paid for by the DPS. It was displayed during April on 32 signs in Las Vegas and 13 in Reno.

 

April – improved the language in the Washoe County 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, Bicycle and Pedestrian Element, with regard to bicycle facilities, safety and the promotion of motorist and bicyclist education.

 

April – the NBC was instrumental in the rebirth of the Washoe County Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC). The BPAC is charged in general with advising the Washoe County RTC on bike and pedestrian issues and, more specifically, with mapping the area’s bike lanes and routes and then recommending connections to turn the current hodge-podge into a bicycle transportation network. The mapping project can be accessed through www.nevadabike.org.

 

June – arranged to have the LAB DVD “Enjoy the Ride” shown in rotation on northern Nevada’s community access television station.

 

July – in a joint effort with the Reno Bike Project, the NBC ran a “bike valet” during 8 downtown “Rollin’ on the River” concerts, parking bicycles for free for concert goers. The bike racks were purchased with a grant for the City of Reno.

 

July – the NBC was granted 501(c)3 status by the IRS.

 

September – NBC had a table at the 2008 Reno Green Summit where we talked to people about bicycle commuting and safety and distributed a brochure modeled on the information at www.bicyclesafe.com.

 

September – the NBC and RBP ran a bike valet at the Balloon Races in Reno.

 

October – the NBC proposed and rallied support for a “road diet” for Mayberry Road, arguably the most popular bicycle route in Reno, which resulted in a dramatic improvement in safety for bicyclists despite opposition from some local residents.

 

December – the NBC submitted a proposal for legislation to update the Nevada Revised Statutes with regards to bicycle operation. At this time the status of this request is unknown.

 

So, we had a pretty productive year in pursuing our mission, “to promote safe bicycling in Nevada”.

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