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Posts Tagged ‘Bicycle Laws’

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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Five weeks and the snow is still piled up everywhere. If you live in Minnesota, this may sound like a wimpy complaint but for Reno, it’s a long time. And the bicycling in Reno is somewhere between dangerous and impossible, assuming of course that you don’t mind cycling in 6 layers of clothing.

Last year I gave a lunch time talk to a chapter of the American Public Works Association. One of the questions was, “Why don’t bicyclists stay in their bike lanes?” At the time I answered with the Nevada statutes which makes it illegal for a motorist to drive in the bike lane but does not restrict bicyclists to the bike lane. And then I followed with bicyclist having to avoid sand, broken glass and other debris in the bike lane to avoid a fall or flat time. I failed to mention snow.

Of course, the safest place to ride a road bike on the road is in a bike lane. In a 1998 study for the Transportation Research Board, William Moritz of the University of Michigan compared the safety of different bicycling facilities and found:

Facility Type Crashes per Million Miles of Exposure
Bike lanes

16

Signed bike routes

20
Major streets without bike facilities

25

Minor streets without bike facilities

37

Shared use paths

55

Sidewalks

637

So when the snow piles melt and the street sweeper has swept, stay in those bike lanes and off of the sidewalk. Don’t become a statistic yourself. In the meantime, take care and good luck!

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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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