Monday, June 8, 2009

Rick to give bikes the right?

The Ft. Worth Star Telegram has a story about a change in Texas law that might punish car drivers for crowding bikes (link). Excerpt follows...
Drivers who don’t want to share the road with cyclists, pedestrians and runners: Watch out.

State lawmakers sent a message with Senate Bill 488 that, if Gov. Rick Perry signs it into law, would make it a misdemeanor to ride too near to cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

Beginning Sept. 1, motorists who don’t give up a share of the road to others would face fines from $500 to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail, depending on the severity of the violation.

Vulnerable road users are defined as pedestrians, runners, cyclists, motorcyclists, construction workers — even someone on horseback.

Under current law, cyclists are allowed to ride in traffic lanes, but they must stay as far to the right as practical. They must also obey traffic laws, stop at stoplights and stop signs, and make turn signals with their hands.

The new bill states that drivers must allow three feet of space between themselves and a vulnerable road user; commercial vehicles must allow six feet. 
As someone who has to dodge bikes almost every day as I drive to work, I think bikes need to have more responsibilities. If a bike can't go at least half the car speed limit, it needs to get off the road for example. Bikes are a nuisance many times, and this law may very well end up punishing car drivers for bikes swerving into traffic. It also might cause accidents by making cars swerve into other cars to avoid coming too close to bikes.

Then again it may prevent a few accidents. I have not seen the actual words in the new law, but I bet bike riders will be far more pleased than the rest of us are frustrated.

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