Entries tagged: Bicyclists

Bicyclists First Vehicles to Ride New Bridge in New Hampshire

imageIn most cases, new transportation infrastructure is christened by cars. But, this month in Manchester, bicyclists were the first vehicles to travel a new bridge.

The primacy of two-wheeling transportation at the November ribbon-cutting ceremony was the result of behind-the-scenes work from advocates at the Bike-Walk Alliance of New Hampshire.

The effort dates back to 2009, when the BWA-NH got wind that a $175 million bridge connecting Bedford and Manchester over the Merrimack River was designed without accommodations for bicyclists on the main roadway. Because the project also serves as an access road to the Manchester airport, that omission was particularly troublesome to Granite State cyclists.

According to BWA-NH: “A side path, not to be illuminated at night, cleared of snow in the winter, or providing a direct connection to local roads, was part of the design but that would not accommodate vehicular cyclists requiring a 24 x 7 x 365 transportation corridor. Mopeds and electric bicycles were also to be prohibited from using the bridge to access local roads where they are commonly used.”

So the advocates got to work. They determined that the Sagamore Bridge, connecting Nashua and Hudson downstream on the Merrimack, had the same restrictions regarding bicyclists and mopeds — restrictions that are in contradiction to federal law. Partnering with the Granite State Wheelmen, BWA-NH held a series of high-level meetings with the New Hampshire DOT and the Federal Highway Administration.

The result? In March 2010, the DOT removed the restrictions from both bridges. On November 10, bicyclists and pedestrians got the chance to savor the victory at the celebration for the completion of the project.

According to BWA-NH: “The public was invited to attend and the first vehicles to cross the bridge were bicycles! Members of BWA-NH and the GSW attended, pedaled the roadways and the sidepath for a comparison, and attended the ceremony. The road was open for general traffic on Veterans Day, Friday, November 11. Again, without the advocacy efforts of BWA-NH and the GSW, the MAAR bridge would just be a link for motorists with vehicular bicyclists and moped users having no way to access the local roads by crossing the new bridge.”

Read more about the campaign and victory on the BWA-NH website.

DC Advocates Win Introduction of Anti-Harassment Legislation

By Lisa Seyfried, Contributing Writer

Thanks in part to the incredible popularity of Capital Bikeshare, the District of Columbia is awash in new cyclists. And new legislation proposed by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) aims to boost their safety by giving bicyclists strong legal recourse when they are wronged on the road.

The proposal comes on the heels of a stunning act of intentional violence toward an innocent commuter on his way to work this summer. A helmet-cam video (above) shared by WABA showed a male cyclist being verbally assailed and then struck by a pickup truck. The man was thrown from his bicycle, crashing to the pavement, as the motorist fled the scene. Circulated by bloggers and advocates, the incident quickly served as a catalyst for many community members to push for a new measure to protect cyclists’ rights on the road.

The new anti-harassment legislation, titled ‘Assault of Bicyclists Prevention Act of 2011,’ would seek to provide a civil right of action for cyclists in the case of assaults, and the ability to recover legal fees and damages. The goal is to provide legal recourse for cyclists who have been intentionally harassed or assaulted by drivers in the District of Columbia.

“Given the obvious physical differences between automobiles and bicycles, there is ample opportunity for bullying in the form of harassment, assault, and battery,” WABA Executive Director Shane Farthing said of the proposal’s purpose in July. “That opportunity should be curtailed by consequences for roadway bullies — but to date the imposition of consequences has been rare.”

The WABA-proposed legislation is based on the Los Angeles anti-assault law that passed in July 2011. The LA legislation came after several years of LA bike activists working to pass a Bicyclist Bill of Rights. Supporters of the DC bill hope it will send a message to motorists that cyclists have the ability to take legal action when their rights are violated on the road.

The legislation will move forward to a public hearing on November 2. WABA is encouraging its members (or any bicyclists) to fill out the crash tracker on its website to provide more anecdotal evidence of why this bill is needed. Read more about WABA’s efforts to push this legislation forward here.

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

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.

Posted by Carolyn S on April 27, 2011
Tags: motorcycles, kaw valley bicycle club, kansas, kanbikewalk, dead red provision, bicyclists, 3-foot passing
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