Have you traveled with your bike? Maybe you visited Pennsylvania where there is a 4 foot passing rule for motorists overtaking cyclists. How about Arizona? The traffic cameras there discourage motorists from running red lights. If you haven’t biked in China, perhaps you’ve bought a toy truck made in China. All trucks in China have side guards, so toy trucks made in China also have side guards.
Senator Brownsberger and Representatives Rogers and Hecht have authored a bill alongside advocates from various organizations such as the Vision Zero Coalition, Livable Streets, WalkBoston and the Boston Cyclists Union, and MassBike. An Act to reduce traffic fatalities (formerly S.1905/H.2877, now due to a new draft can be found as S.2362 with an updated House bill number coming later this week) was reported favorably on from the Joint Committee on Transportation and now will move onto the Ways and Means Committee.
That’s great news because all the details listed above made it through the Transportation Committee (ok – the passing rule is three feet and only state owned vehicles will get side guards). Plus, lower speed limits, better collection of crash data when bikes are involved and motorist yields to bike riders crossing streets from a path all made it.
The Committee has put forth a new draft of the bill. It’s strong. It’s a step in the right direction. You can read the full text of the bill as it stands now with the changes here. Below is a summary of what the bill incorporates moving forward:
Sections 1 & 2:
Requires state owned and state contracted trucks to be equipped with sideguards between their front and rear wheels to prevent cyclists and pedestrians from falling underneath the chassis if impacted. Also requires convex and crossover mirrors.
Lowers default speed limit on state highways and parkways in thickly settled or business districts from 30mph to 25mph.
Requires EOPSS, in consultation with DPH and MassDOT, to develop a standardized reporting tool be used by a first responder called to the scene of a pedestrian or cyclist crash or incident.
Sections 5 & 6:
Requires bicyclists to use both a rear red light and red reflector when riding at night.
Establishes that a motor vehicle must yield to a bicyclist at an intersection of a bicycle path and a road, so long as the crossing is marked in accordance with MassDOT standards.
Defines several different road users, including bicyclists and pedestrians, as vulnerable road users. Requires motor vehicles to pass vulnerable road at a distance of at least three feet when traveling at 30mph or less, with an additional foot of clearance required for every 10 mph that the vehicle is traveling above 30mph. Allows motor vehicles to cross a double yellow line into an adjacent travel lane, when it is safe to do so, if needed to achieve a safe passing distance.
Forty two other state legislators signed on in support of the bill. That’s because you and our members engaged elected officials and let them know that while parts of Massachusetts might be leading the country in physical bike infrastructure, legal bike infrastructure is still in the 20th Century.
The work is not done. Stay tuned for what comes next and where we need your help as this bill continues through the legislative process. We’ll need you and our entire membership to get this one over the goal line. For those that support us as members, thank you. We encourage the members of the bicycling community to join, donate, or volunteer. Get involved and join the movement today.