State House Hearings on Key Bike Bills Set for Jan. 6

Lawmakers Consider Truck Side Guards, Three-foot Rule, and Other Bills

BOSTON, DEC. 29, 2015 - Hearings have been scheduled on Beacon Hill for several key bills that would impact bicyclists in Massachusetts. To be held Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 10 a.m., these hearings before the Joint Committee on Transportation afford citizens the opportunity to speak for or against proposed legislation. These hearings will be the first opportunity of the New Year for you to get involved - read on to learn how!

For many members of the bicycling community these bills have been an ongoing effort. We extend our gratitude to those who have shared their story and contacted their representatives on Beacon Hill. For those of you who have yet to write your lawmakers - there is still time to make an impact!

To read a full listing of the bills and hearings, click here: Mass. Joint Committee on Transportation

“This is the opportunity every citizen gets to weigh in on proposed legislation,” said Richard Fries, executive director of MassBike. “While we file letters and make arguments with data and case studies the most effective influence at these hearings are personal stories from Bay State citizens. We are seeking out testimony from the families and friends of victims whose lives and limbs may have been spared if these laws had been in place.”

Amid several transportation bills filed there are four key bicycling measures to be reviewed in next week’s hearings, two of which were filed by MassBike. What may be confusing is that these are listed as eight measures. This is because the bills have versions in both the House and the Senate, (hence the “H” and “S” designation below) which will be considered together in the Joint Committee on Transportation, which makes up or down recommendations before going to a full vote of the Legislature.

Whether in writing or in person, bicyclists statewide are encouraged by MassBike to participate in helping to secure passage of these measures. Should they not pass in 2016 it would be another two years before we could get these even considered.  Of note is that some of these bills would be critical to improve Massachusetts’ spot on the League of American Bicyclists’ Bike Friendly State rankings. Currently we are number four.

These are the bills under consideration:

Truck Side Guard Bill H. 3019/S. 1810

This bill would require side guards and convex mirrors on larger vehicles operating in Massachusetts. A significant percentage of the recent deaths and injuries of bicyclists in the Bay State have involved trucks making right turns in urban situations. This ordinance has been passed in Boston but has little application for trucks registered elsewhere. More than half of bicyclists killed by trucks hit the side of the truck first and are then swept beneath.

Learn more here: Truck Side Guards Explained

Bike Lane Bill H. 3072/S. 1808

This bill is pretty simple in that it would make standing or parking in a bike lane or other on-road bike facility a ticketable offense with a $100 fine. This is not just about the rights of bicyclists. This is a major safety issue for all road users and an environmental issue. The actions of those who double park or park in bike lanes have proven to cause traffic congestion that is often magnified for miles back into the transportation system, wasting fuel and producing unnecessary greenhouse gases.

For more on ways Boston is using interactive data to reduce double-parking and congestion, watch this video: Waze Data and Double Parking

Vulnerable Users Bill H. 3073/S. 1807

Commonly known as a three-feet law, this could be the most significant bill of the bunch for cyclists statewide. Passage of this bill could elevate Massachusetts into the top three of the League of American Bicyclists bike friendly rankings. This bill would require motorists to provide a minimum of three-feet when overtaking a “vulnerable user” even if it requires them to cross the centerline to do so. This bill would align cyclists with police, first responders, construction workers, pedestrians, and others defined as vulnerable users. Research indicates that bicyclists being struck from behind comprise 40 percent of fatalities. Likewise tow truck drivers report a death every six days and police report a fatality every month as they work on our roadways.

A fun look at the three-foot law in California.

Bike Path Crosswalk Bill S. 1809

Passage of this bill would make it legal for bicyclists to do what they are already doing: ride across a bike path crosswalk, provided they yield to pedestrians and operate with reasonable caution. More important it would require motorists to yield to bicyclists in those crosswalks. Current law provides legal protection only to pedestrians in crosswalks, even when they are set as part of a bike path. Currently bicyclists are technically supposed to walk through such intersections if they are to enjoy such protection. This is unrealistic and antiquated.

Any citizen may weigh in during these hearings, but MassBike is working alongside several other members of the Vision Zero Coalition to coordinate a powerful presentation of speakers. Those interested in testifying in support of these bills are urged to contact MassBike at

How else can you help?

Contact your lawmakers. For a sample letter and how to find your State Representative or State Senator click here.

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