Monday, May 18, 2009

About that Texas Bike Safety Law

I was reading this article about a Houston columnist's first bike commute when I noticed this tidbit about a Bike Safety "three feet" law working its way through the state House of Representatives.
The law would make it a illegal for car and truck drivers to get closer than three feet from a biker or any other “vulnerable road user,” like a runner, child, disabled person, or highway construction worker.
In fact, lawmakers sponsoring this bill aren't calling it a bicycle safety bill; they're calling it the "Safe Passing Bill," and oh by the way it benefits cyclists as well. For those having difficulty passing this type of law, can you imagine rewriting just a little to include construction workers and the campaign ads you can do with that? "Representative Smith voted NO on a law that would improve safety for highway workers."

Back to Houston Chronicle column, in which Carolynn Feibel discovers the reality of bike commuting in the American South --
As your transportation columnist, I felt obligated to accept the Bike To Work challenge. First I had to buy a bike. Then I had a wonderful and amusing week dodging potholes, feeling a virtuous burn in my quads, and arriving at work looking like a wet, bedraggled chicken.

My one-way ride took about 15 minutes. So yes, it is possible. But is it desirable? I still say yes, though tentatively. But that has far less to do with traffic and distance than with, well, showers. I mean, it’s Houston. We should call it “National Bike to Work and Shower at Work Week.”
After college, I used to bike commute 20 miles from Forth Worth to Irving, Texas. In the Texas heat there is absolutely no way you can do a 'stylish' commute in your work clothes, even if you ride slowly for short distances.
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Mr. Guilt said...

Louisiana is looking at a similar law

cafiend said...

We got our 3-foot law in NH in January this year. It passed last summer, but they made us wait for it to take effect.

I'm guessing from the way some people drive they think it means the DRIVER of the vehicle can be no MORE than 3 feet from the dropoff at the right edge of the road, which is where cyclists belong. Any cyclist rides to the left of this at their own risk.

Properly publicized and enforced, safe passing laws are a great idea. Ours was part of an overhaul in the whole section pertaining to bicycles which improved on some wording that was already pretty good.