Friday, February 02, 2007

Debate heats up over 3-foot buffer

Out in Oregon, the effort to legislate a three-foot safety margin for bicycles is meeting with some resistance. In this Associated Press report, notice the shallow pitch for regulatory parity by a state senator named Jeff Kruse. I wonder how long before we hear those words in a Florida pushback against our new law?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good comment in a letter to the editor in the Corvallis Gazette Times:
The purpose of the proposed safety margin is not to provide a panacea against all risks of riding a bike. Rather, the 3-foot margin provides police officers with a clearly defined legal requirement for determining if a motorist is passing a bicyclist too closely. Although current law mandates that motorists not endanger other roadway users, without a objective measure of a safe margin, police officers must make a judgment call.

A legally defined margin of safety will help officers. It also will remind motor vehicle drivers of their responsibility to interact with other roadway users safely. The margin will make it clear that it is not legal to “squeeze by” a bicyclist when there isn’t enough room to do so safely.

The editor stated that more separated bicycle paths are the answer to bicyclist safety. Bicycle pathways are great for recreation and travel between cities in some situations (a great example is the proposed Corvallis-to-Albany path), but they are not the safety solution for those who use bicycles for their daily transportation. These bicyclists need access to places not served by bike paths (such as grocery stores, doctor offices, etc.). The solution to bicyclist safety lies in a combination of increased awareness — through education — that both motorists and bicyclists share the same rights and responsibilities of road use, and through enhanced enforcement against motorists and bicyclists who violate those rules. The three-foot safety margin will assist the public and law enforcement in both of these.

Brad Upton