April 28, 2009 – Bicycle Colorado has been distributing bumper stickers urging motorists to maintain a 3-foot distance when passing cyclists. It could soon become state law.
The Colorado House passed a new bicycle safety bill on Monday and went to the Senate, where it was sponsored by Sen. Greg Brophy and passed in its original form, 27-6. If the Senate passes the version approved by the House, it goes to Gov. Bill Ritter.
Under current law if you don’t hit the bicyclist, it’s considered a safe pass. That’s just not good enough. The new bill would clarify the lane position of a bicyclist, which requires them to be as far right as is safe but also giving them the ability to move to the left if necessary to avoid holes in the street, broken glass or other hazards. It would also allow bicyclists riding on a one-way road with more than one lane to ride in the left lane. The old law requires bicyclists to ride side-by-side; however, the new law would allow bicyclists riding together to ride two abreast if they aren’t “impeding the normal and reasonable movement of traffic”. Bicyclists riding together can prevent accidents involving vehicles as they are more visible in traffic. The new bill would also make it a misdemeanor to throw anything at a cyclist. Also anyone driving in a threatening manner would be cited for careless driving.
The new 3-foot limitation would allow vehicles to cross the center line to keep the lawful distance between them and a cyclist, as long as it is safe.
To read the proposed new bicycle safety bill (Senate Bill 148) or the existing Colorado statute regarding bicycles (42-4-1412), go to bicyclecolo.org.
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