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Archive for the ‘Bicycle Laws’ Category

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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Reno Bike Project is calling it the “3 Sweet Feet Ride”. I’ve been calling it the “Bicycle Awareness Ride”. Whatever you call Saturday’s mass of bicyclists, it’s going to be fun and could be a really important event for the future of Reno & Sparks bicycling.

We have plenty to celebrate:
• Reno/Sparks was just named a bronze level “Bicycle Friendly Community”
• Nevada law now requires motorists to give bicycles 3 feet of space when passing from behind
• A motorist who causes injury to a bicyclist or pedestrian faces the increased penalties of a reckless driving offense, including possible loss of license, community service and jail
• Nevada law now prohibits hand-held cell phones and texting by motorists, reducing driver distractions

Not only will we be celebrating these accomplishments, we’ll be sending a message to motorists that they must share the roads with bicyclists and that the rules of the road have changed.

Come ride with us on Saturday, October 1st!

Start / End – Reno City Hall Plaza, 1st Street and South Virginia Street, Reno

Route – we’ll ride mostly on 4th Street and Prater Way to Sparks City Hall at a leisurely pace and return mostly on Victorian Avenue and the Truckee River Bike Path: 8 miles total.

When – Assemble in the Plaza from 9:30 to 10:30 and get a chance to thank the bicyclist friendly politicians who made these new laws possible. Teresa Benitez-Thompson, author of the law that increased penalties for injuring a bicyclist, plans to ride with us.

Park a few blocks away and bicycle to the Plaza or park in the Cal-Neva garage.

Wear your “3 Feet Please” jersey or t-shirt, if you’ve got one.

Win a jersey! The first 50 bicyclists to arrive at the plaza get a ticket to win a “3 Feet Please” jersey (that’s 50 chances to win one jersey, better odds than the casinos offer).

Rules of the Road – no streets will be closed and no special police escort is planned, although I expect them to be keeping an eye on us. I promised we would obey all of the rules of the road:
• Bicyclists have all of the rights and duties of motorists
• Ride no more than two abreast and single file if to do otherwise impedes traffic
• Obey all traffic signs and signals

Have Fun!

Hope to see you there!

Terry – 775-287-7142 for questions

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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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The Weapon

“…to teach them a lesson”. That was Dr. Christopher Thompson’s motivation for purposely injuring 2 bicyclists on July 4, 2008 on Mandeville Canyon Road in Brentwood, near Los Angeles. In November a jury convicted him of mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon, battery with serious injury and reckless driving causing injury. He faces 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors alleged that Thompson stopped his car after passing the two cyclists and shouting at them to ride single file. The cyclists testified that they began maneuvering to ride one after the other when they noticed Thompson’s car approaching fast behind them but that the driver passed dangerously close before abruptly stopping.

Ron Peterson, a coach for USC’s and UCLA’s cycling team, was flung face-first into the rear windshield of the doctor’s red Infiniti, breaking his front teeth and nose and lacerating his face. Christian Stoehr, the other cyclist, hurtled to the sidewalk, suffered a separated shoulder.

A police officer testified that Thompson told him soon after the accident that the cyclists had cursed at him and flipped him off, so he slammed on his brakes “to teach them a lesson.”

So, who learned a lesson in this?

Mandeville Canyon Road is a popular cycling route and the location of frequent confrontations between recreational bicyclists and the motorists who live nearby. Bicyclists report frequent threatening motorists. Motorists report bicyclist blocking the road, making rude gestures and spitting on them. Dr. Thompson surely learned that he can’t let his temper get the best of him when he’s behind the wheel. Peterson and Stoehr learned that the seeds sown by rude bicyclists can be reaped by any cyclist with the bad luck to be on the wrong road at the right time. As a result, Peterson now wears false teeth and can’t feel the end of his nose.

Let’s hope that the Mandeville Canyon motorists and bicyclists learned some lessons, too. The lesson for me is that I’m extremely vulnerable when I’m on my bicycle, vulnerable to unforeseen “accidents” and vulnerable to retribution for the sins of my fellow bicyclist. The smart thing to do is to actively promote safe and responsible bicycling and patient motoring and hope people get it before it gets me. What goes around does comes around.

(Thanks to the LA Times, Nov 3 edition, for much of this story)

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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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Cyclists meet with law enforcementAt first glance one would think a room filled with top ranking law enforcement and disgruntled cyclists would quickly erupt into hysteria, but thanks to the cooperation and good intentions of everyone involved, tonight’s meeting with “the chiefs” to discuss the perceived bias of law enforcement against the cyclist was a complete success.

Thanks to the cooperation and initiative of Sheriff Haley and our very own Terry McAfee, we cycle commuters finally got to let it out, all the hoots, the near misses, the “I didn’t see you”s, the “get off the road!’s,” and why it seems like there’s nothing being done to keep the peace. We got to hear the other side of the story too. The fact that 1.2 officers per 1000 people make it pretty difficult for officers to respond to every complaint of erratic driving. Our goal was to begin a much needed conversation with the people who can make our commute safer, and I think we got the point across. So, thanks Sheriff Haley, thanks Lt. Donnelly and thanks everyone for attending and speaking up and making it a complete success. We look forward to working together in the future. You can find Heidi’s notes of the meeting and more pictures under the “Advocacy” page.

-Carrie

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