New Laws Protect Cyclists and Pedestrians

Article by Teri Vance, originally appearing on the Nevada Appeal website.

Two bills passed by this year’s Legislature will give increased protection when they go into effect Oct. 1 to cyclists and pedestrians.

The first — known as the “three feet, please” law — will require motorists to give cyclists at lease three feet distance when passing.

3-feet-law

The other increases punishments to motorists who strike pedestrians or cyclists who are traveling legally.

Kelly Clark, from Carson City’s Muscled Powered, joined representatives from other bicycle-advocate groups throughout the state to lobby for the changes.

“We’re happy to see the changes,” she said. “We’re very happy the Legislature was supportive. The great need now is for education of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike.”

Clark, who has been in three car-caused accidents while riding her bike, was moved by the testimony from others from around the state who had been struck by cars, leaving them severely injured.

“They were just lucky to be alive,” she said.

The first law, Senate Bill 248, requires motorists to move to the left lane when passing someone on a bike. If it is not safe to cross lanes, the driver needs to give the cyclist at least three feet of space.

The second, referred to as the “vulnerable user” law, adds a section to the existing reckless driving law to increase penalties for motorists who strike a cyclist or pedestrian.

According to Assembly Bill 328, if a pedestrian or bicyclist is obeying traffic laws and is struck by a motorist, that motorist will charged with reckless driving, which could result in the revocation of the driver’s license.

Despite increased protection for vulnerable users, Clark said, the real key is education.

“There’s a real lack of understanding across the board,” she said. “At the very least, cyclists need to know they ride with traffic. Pedestrians need to cross the road at intersections.

“And a lot of people don’t know a bicyclist has the right to a lane of traffic. A motorist can cross a double yellow line to give cyclists room.”

Clark said Muscle Powered will be seeking a grant to launch an awareness campaign to teach all users the proper way to share the road.

“Slow down and look out is my motto,” she said.

After her third accident, in which Clark was knocked unconscious and needed stitches in her head and knee, she gave up bike riding for seven years.

But returned because of all the benefits it offered, like fitness and saving energy costs. She hopes to make the roads safer for others who would like to do the same.

“There’s a lot of good reasons to ride a bike,” Clark said. “But if you don’t feel safe, it’s a disincentive.”

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3 thoughts on “New Laws Protect Cyclists and Pedestrians

  1. i just completed a letter to the carson city sheriff’s office this morning basically stating that when i ride my bike, i try to ride safe and the issue they should be concerned with is educating drivers and teens about bicycle/pedestrian safety. my soapbox issue has been why not implement a continuing education piece into the renewal of a drivers license. why can’t it be mandatory to learn new laws before getting your license? the reason for my letter was because i was pulled over after running a stop sign where there were no vehicles in sight…except for a cop car. i’m hoping that enough people will ask for educating the community that eventually it may happen.

  2. Carson City didn’t get awarded a Bicycle Friendly community this year as we had hoped. Although we did receive an honorable mention. One of the recommendations from the League of American Bicyclists was to form a better partnership between the city/cycling community and law enforcement. Currently, I don’t think a partnership exists at all. We need to educate people on both sides. We’ll have to look at what other communities are doing in this area.

    I would really like to see a law like Idaho has that say cyclists use stop signs as yield signs. They can also cross on red lights if there is no traffic present. Half of my commute time is spent at red lights with no traffic. Stop signs…I always make it a point to stop if there is traffic present. Nothing pisses off motorists more than pedaling on thru a stop sign without even slowing down. It’s disrespectful and damages our image. I get annoyed when I’m on my bike and motorists blow stop signs. I want to give them the same respect. But when nobody is around, slow down, listen, look, roll on through. It just makes sense at our low speeds. Just like walking.

    Hopefully you didn’t get a ticket!!

  3. This is a great blog. The work you put into it is awesome. Eventhough I live in Sin City I have done some really good riding in Carson City. This site is really informative. I wish you all luck up there educating the community on the new laws. Unfortunately we all know that laws will change some drivers but not all. Lets also remember as cyclist if we want the police to enforce laws the cycling community has worked on, the cycling community needs to follow the laws as written too.

    When I commute to work via bike and I am waiting at the red light, as the current law states and a cyclist in his expensive kit, rides right by me ignoring the red it is a bit irritating. This type of ignorance hurts the efforts and strides you all have made with these changes. Educate the community, police and bicycle riders.

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