By Bob Katzen

The House and Senate approved and sent to Gov. Baker a bill designed to protect “vulnerable road users” which includes pedestrians, constructions workers, emergency responders bicyclists, skateboarders, roller skates and wheelchair users. A key provision requires vehicle drivers, when passing a vulnerable user, to pass at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet when the motor vehicle is traveling at 30 miles per hour or less, and an additional foot of clearance for every ten miles per hour that the vehicle is traveling above 30 miles per hour.

Other provisions include establishing a process to lower the default speed limit to 25 mph on state highways and parkways in thickly settled or business districts; requiring higher-visibility mirrors and lateral sideguards on certain state-owned, state-operated and state-contracted trucks; creating a uniform reporting tool for crashes involving a pedestrian or cyclist; and requiring bicyclists to have red rear lights.

“[The bill] strengthens traffic safety regulations, making our roads safer and taking critical steps to save lives, and reduce crashes that needlessly put people at risk,” said Rep. Christine Barber (D-Somerville), sponsor of an earlier version of the bill .“With an emphasis on enhancing safeguards for pedestrians and bikers, the commonwealth positions itself as a leader in road user safety and promotes alternative modes of transportation.”

Others sponsors of earlier versions of the bill, including Reps. Michael Moran (D-Brighton),Bill Strauss (D-Mattapoisett) and Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) did not respond to repeated requests from Beacon Hill Roll Call to comment on the bill being approved and sent to Gov. Baker.

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