Kentucky needs a safer passing law for bicycles. Kentuckians ride bicycles for commuting, short trips, errands, health and recreation.
Last year, eight people were killed on bicycles on Kentucky roads. Kentucky law considers a bicycle to be a vehicle, but laws have not kept up with the use of bicycles.
The current law states “… vehicles overtaking other vehicles … shall pass to the left of them and shall not again drive to the right until reasonably clear ...”
Senate Bill 56 and House Bill 85, identical bills introduced by Sen. Robin Webb of Grayson and Rep. Jerry Miller of Louisville, would direct the overtaking vehicle to move to the immediate left lane or, if a lane is not available, to pass with a minimum of three feet between the vehicle and bicycle.
It would also allow motorists to cross the yellow line to pass a bicycle if there is no traffic and an unobstructed view. Thirty one states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring a three-foot or greater clearance for passing bicycles.
Cycling is becoming a larger part of our transportation mix. It reduces traffic congestion, transportation costs, air and noise pollution and has benefits for tourism and health. The average bicycle trip is 3.9 miles.
Yet, concerns about safety consistently rank as the top deterrent to bicycling. Safe passing laws are not as effective as bike lanes in increasing cycling safety and they are not a replacement for safe bicycle infrastructure. But such laws promote safety through education and enforcement.
There would be little cost associated with enacting a safe-passing law. SB56 and HB85 would be a clear public message on how to safely pass a person on a bicycle. The Kentucky Bicycle and Bikeway Commission for the second year has endorsed the legislation.
More information about this proposed law is on the Facebook page “Safer Passing Law for Bicycles in KY” and the Bluegrass Cycling Club homepage, http://www.bgcycling.net/.
If you want a safer passing law, write, email or call your legislator. To leave a message on the legislative hotline call 1-800-372-7181.
We can make cycling safer for the benefit of all Kentuckians.
Dixie Moore of Lexington is a retired psychologist and avid cyclist.