Kansas Advocates Win 3-Foot Passing and Dead-Red Provisions

By Carolyn S on April 27, 2011


imageThis month, advocates in Kansas are celebrating the passage of two bicycle-friendly measures — and looking forward to working with a new ally. 

On April 15, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a pair of key provisions: a 3-foot passing law and a dead red provision.

By requiring that motorists maintain a minimum three-foot distance when passing a bicyclist, Kansas joined 16 other states — including neighbors Colorado, Arkansas and Oklahoma — with similar laws. The push for the safe clearance measure was led by the Kaw Valley Bicycle Club, which hired a lobbyist, found key sponsors to introduce the bill and rallied its members around the issue. But Alliance member, KanBikeWalk, also played a role.

“KanBikeWalk provided statewide communications at appropriate times to rally bicyclists across the state in support of the legislation,” Dale Crawford, the group’s president, says. “As in all advocacy efforts, it takes teamwork to get things done.”

That proved especially true on the dead-red provision.

“There had been confusion around the state with some law enforcement agencies following a strict interpretation of the law with regards to running a dead red signal and others being more understanding of the issue,” Crawford explains. “The dead red law provides clear direction for roadway users and clear response expectations by law enforcement officers on actions to take when a motorcyclist or bicyclist encounters a dead red traffic signal.”

At least nine other states have already adopted dead red bills, though some only apply to motorcycles, not bicycles. The new measure in Kansas allows cyclists to continue through an intersection if they are “facing any steady red signal, which fails to change to a green light within a reasonable period of time because of a signal malfunction or because the signal has failed to detect the arrival of the motorcycle or bicycle because of its size or weight.”

“The Dead Red provision was initiated by ABATE Kansas, a statewide motorcycling advocacy organization — without input for bicyclists,” Crawford says. “Fortunately, Rep. Joann Potorff on the House Transportation Committee had bicyclists added to the bill, as she has a son and daughter-in-law who are avid bicyclists and is familiar with some of the issues they deal with. Once KanBikeWalk was aware of the dead red provision and the inclusion of bicyclists, we worked to illustrate the broader implications for the traveling public, beyond just motorcyclists, which helped sustain support for the provision.”

It was also could be the start of a sustained relationship between bikers and cyclists.

“Out of the process, KanBikeWalk built an ally with ABATE Kansas, which admitted they hadn’t realized the issue also affected bicyclists,” Crawford adds. “The groups plan to discuss other areas of common concern on Kansas roadways and in the laws of the road to see where else both groups can assist each other in the future.”

Read more on KanBikeWalk’s blog.

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