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.

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