By Bob Katzen

On April 25, 2019, the Senate 39-0, approved and sent to the House a bill designed to make roads safer and decrease the number of fatalities.

The proposal requires bicyclists at night to use both a red rear light and a red rear reflector. Current law requires only a red light or a red reflector. Current law and the new law both require a white light in the front.

The bill classifies several groups, including pedestrians, utility workers and cyclists, as “vulnerable road users.”

The measure requires the operator of a motor vehicle that is passing a vulnerable user to maintain a distance of at least three feet when traveling at 30 miles per hour or less and an additional foot of space for every ten miles per hour above 30 miles per hour. Current law only requires motor vehicle operators to pass at “a safe distance and at a reasonable and proper speed.”

Another provision requires a vehicle that is overtaking a vulnerable user or other vehicle to use all or part of an adjacent lane, crossing the centerline if necessary, when it cannot pass at a safe distance in the same lane and only when it is safe to do so. The legislation also requires certain large vehicles or trailers that are purchased or leased by the state to be equipped with lateral protective devices, convex mirrors and cross-over mirrors.

“The bill is an important step forward to improving bike safety,” said Sen. Will Brownsberger (D-Belmont), lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate. “It is not controversial and is an appropriate bill to handle in informal sessions. I know that my colleagues in the House share an interest in the legislation and I remain hopeful that we can get it across the goal line in this session.”

“I’m proud to be among the many co-sponsors of this bill because the need to make our roads safer, particularly for cyclists and pedestrians, is terribly urgent,” said Rep. Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge). “Every crash and every fatality is a policy failure, so I’m hopeful we can advance the thoughtful policies contained in this legislation as soon as possible.”

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