The following came from the Bicycle Alliance of Washington as a press release for the new bill proposed to define “sharing the road”. For more information on how this affects you, both as a cyclist and as a driver, read the post on Publicola.
Mutual Responsibility Bill Defines What it Means to Share the Road
A new bill proposed by the Bicycle Alliance of Washington better defines how motorists and bicyclists can safely share the road.
HB 1018, the Mutual Responsibility bill, acknowledges that motorists and bicyclists have responsibilities to safely share the road with each other. The bill, sponsored by Representative Jamie Pederson of Seattle and an avid bike commuter, is based on similar legislation passed in Colorado and Vermont.
Among the bill’s key points:
- Defines a safe passing distance of bicycles by motorists based on their travel speed.
- Specifies that drivers must exercise due care to avoid colliding with bicyclists
- Clarifies that motorists may cross the center line when overtaking a cyclist or pedestrian
- Specifies that cyclists ride to the right in through lanes, use bike lanes or shoulders unless the bicyclist deems it is unsafe or impractical to do so
- Clarifies unsafe conditions that may require cyclists to ride in other lane positions
- States that bicyclists yield to pedestrians when riding on sidewalks, crosswalks or trails.
This legislation began as a safe passing bill two years ago but did not pass. The Bicycle Alliance and its legislative committee listened to concerns expressed by legislators and law enforcement, then gathered additional input from bike clubs and other stakeholders to make this a more comprehensive bill for sharing the road safely.
“The law enforcement community recommended that safe passing distance vary depending upon the speed of the motorist and cyclists wanted us to point out unsafe conditions that force them to take the center of a travel lane, and move out of bike lanes and shoulders,” explained Policy Director Dave Janis. “By clarifying existing laws and adding a few new sections, we believe that our roads will be safer for all,” he added.
The Mutual Responsibility bill, with info boxes explaining proposed changes, can be found on the Bicycle Alliance website: http://www.bicyclealliance.org/programs/legislation.html.