Letter from the Editor: “New Traffic Laws Mean Safer Roads for Bicycling!”

By William Tauro

While I applaud Governor Charlie Baker for pushing this bill into law before he left office this past week, just checking below on item number “3” and who carries the liability if a biker doesn’t have the red light if something goes wrong and a serious tragedy occurs. Your thoughts?

Below is an email sent out by Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (Massbike.org) on “New Traffic Laws Mean Safer Roads for Bicycling!”

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For the past 10 years, MassBike has been advocating for Massachusetts to define “vulnerable road users” in order to make our roads across the commonwealth safer for people on bikes.

On Monday, Governor Baker signed this critical road safety bill into law!

An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities includes roadway safety measures that will protect bicyclists and pedestrians:

Defines “Vulnerable Road Users” to include people walking and biking; roadside workers; people using wheelchairs, scooters, skateboards, roller skates, etc.
Requires “safe passing distance” to be 4 feet for drivers giving clearance to Vulnerable Road Users
Requires state owned and contracted trucks to be equipped with lateral side-guards, mirrors, and backup cameras

1)Clarifies the process for municipalities to lower speed limits on both municipal and state-controlled roads

2)Develops a statewide standardized analysis tool to be used to report crashes and incidents involving Vulnerable Road Users

3)Requires bicyclists to use rear red lights at night, but absence of a light is not cause for an officer to stop a bicyclist

4)The passing of this bill is a significant win for everyone who cares about safer roads across Massachusetts. We are grateful for all our members and coalition partners who helped elevate these concerns to local legislators to get these priorities over the finish line.

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