State Senator Proposes New Bicycle Safety Legislation

State Senator Andrew Rice released the following statement regarding new bicycle safety legislature today:

Sen. Andrew Rice announced today that he will be filing legislation for the upcoming session to help better protect bicyclists in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma democrat said the legislation is necessary following the recent deaths of three Oklahomans in bicycle-related accidents.

“Our job as legislators is to ensure the public’s safety, and we need to do what we can to keep everyone on Oklahoma’s roads safe, and that includes bicyclists,” said Rice, Senate Democratic Leader elect. “I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature, the Department of Public Safety and others concerned with this issue to see how we can best prevent further accidents and unnecessary deaths.”

Rice said his bill will be mirrored after Colorado’s 2009 Bicycle Safety Act, which includes commonsense rules about passing and lane position for bicycles and motor vehicles on public roads.

According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, more than 300 people were involved in bicycle accidents last year resulting in eleven deaths – a significant increase from previous years. Only twelve people were killed from 2006 to 2008 in bicycle accidents. So far this year, there have been at least 150 bicycle accidents and three deaths.

via Oklahoma State Senate – News.

The Colorado Bicycle Safety act essentially clarified several already existing rules that were already in the state law and from what I can read that would do the same here.  The major points of the Colorado bill are as follows:

  • Vehicles may only pass bicyclists when they can give half the road to oncoming traffic along with 3 feet (including mirrors) for the cyclist.  If done in Oklahoma, this would make the 3 foot law a state law instead of a municipal one. Update: Susan pointed out that the 3 foot rule is actually a state rule, I was under the impression it was only municipal.
  • Cyclists may ride UP TO two abreast so long as they are not impeding the normal flow of traffic.  If proposed in Oklahoma, this would be a change to our current law which grants cyclists the constant right to ride two abreast. (Unless riding on a bike path or bike lane, signed for the exclusive use of bicycles, bicyclists should not ride more than two abreast. Title 47 § 11-1205)
  • On standard bi-directional roads, cyclists are to ride as far to the right as is SAFE.
  • On one way roads with more than one lane, cyclists may ride as far to the left as is safe.
  • It makes harassing a cyclist a more serious offense.

You can read a summary of the Colorado legislation here or the full text here.

Honestly I can’t see much wrong with the proposed legislation and specific clarification of those points would be great.  I think specific training of motorists on how to deal with cyclists as part of the standard driving tests would be a big plus.

5 responses to “State Senator Proposes New Bicycle Safety Legislation”

  1. I was glad to hear that Senator Rice plans to do this. I hope the legislation will be stronger than what Colorado adopted.

    We already have the 3ft law (state and municipal) two cyclists can ride abreast now. I would like to see stiffer penalties for when a cyclist is injured or killed, plus education about current laws.

    At least he is interested, that’s a good start.

  2. Thanks for the note on the 3 foot rule.

    However, I was pointing out that if the Colorado law was enacted as is, it would actually impose a restriction on cyclists as opposed to right now. Right now they can ride two abreast at any time, the Colorado law says they can ride two abreast when it won’t impede traffic. I’m really OK with that, but it might cause some problem with the “peloton” style riders by stretching them out further and making it even harder for them to pass.

    Most of these rules already exist (as they did in Colorado). It’s really not changing much, but just trying to clarify what it all means.

  3. Hi Nathan,

    Your blog is a good resource in that it is a central place for local cyclists to get good, up-to-date information.

    I would also be okay with limiting the two abreast to when it wouldn’t impede traffic. My husband and I ride single file when we ride together and can still talk to each other easily. There are times when we need to take the lane together and we do. We try to do what makes sense given the circumstances on the road – best rule from my perspective is to ride predictably (and of course obey laws regarding stops,etc.).

    I appreciate your work in posting on news and events happening locally that affect cyclists- hope it didn’t seem otherwise.


  4. Oh no, I didn’t think anything negative about your comment. Just working out the details on this new legislation. I’m now curious as too why municipalities are passing 3 foot rules when the state already mandates it, I guess however the law gets enforced is a good thing.

    As to the two abreast thing, I think you are probably right. I’ve always ridden single file and only take the lane at busy intersections or on really steep hills with no good shoulder. However, what do you think this will mean for those 20-40 person groups you occasionally see out on the country roads? I can imagine a situation where if they are single file, they might be 50 yards long or more and then it’s a choice between a really unsafe passing situation and impeding traffic.

    Thankfully, I like a solitary ride or with only a few friends, so it doesn’t really affect me much.

    Glad you like the blog and I really do appreciate the comments.

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