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The New "Safe Passing" Law in Vermont    
Tuesday, June 22 2010 @ 04:26 PM GMT+4
Contributed by: acharkes

OtherThe “Safe Passing” Law: What It Means for Vermont’s Roadway Users

New legislation that offers protections to Vermont’s “vulnerable” roadway users was signed by Governor Douglas on May 20. The law, Act 114, defines pedestrians, people in wheelchairs, bicyclists, people on horseback, roller skiers and others as “vulnerable users.” Essentially, those who aren’t completely encased in metal are much more susceptible to injury and are, therefore, in this category of roadway users.

The Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition (VBPC), a statewide nonprofit education and advocacy organization, spearheaded a grassroots effort that resulted in the “Safe Passing” bill clearing key committees and both chambers of the legislature. The full text of the new law can be viewed on the home page of the VBPC: www.vtbikeped.org

In brief, here’s how the law will benefit all bicyclists and pedestrians in Vermont:

• Motorists are now required to pass bicyclists, pedestrians, people on horseback, roller skiers, and other vulnerable roadway users with “due care, which includes increasing clearance, to pass the vulnerable user safely”

• All those in motor vehicles now are prohibited from throwing objects at vulnerable users and from harassing them in other ways, such as approaching them too closely and too
rapidly

• Bicyclists may now (legally) indicate their intention to make a right turn by using their right arms

• Bicyclists may now (legally) move to the left to make a left turn, avoid a hazard in the roadway, or pass another roadway user

• Bicyclists, when riding at night, are now required to have a light on the rear (attached to either the bike or cyclist) or at least 20 square inches of rear-facing reflective material/reflectors on the bicycle/bicyclist

All of the above changes will help improve conditions on Vermont’s roadways for those who enjoy bicycling, running, walking, horseback riding, roller skiing, roller skating, and other activities.

Although it’s been a widely-accepted practice that a bicyclist can signal a right turn with his or her right arm, it is now permitted by law. It’s important for a bicyclist to move to the left to prepare to make a left turn or avoid a hazard in the road. Nevertheless, this move has never been described officially in statute and sometimes other roadway users interpret it as inappropriate or illegal.

While the new law offers protections, it also calls upon bicyclists to display a greater degree of responsibility for safety. For the first time, a bicyclist, while riding at night, is required to have a red light on the rear or a minimum amount of reflective material. The light or the reflective material may be mounted on either the bike or the bicyclist. The law gives the bicyclist plenty of flexibility, while at the same time, requiring that the bicyclist be highly visible to other roadway users.

Prior to the passage of this law, if a driver or passenger in a car threw an object at a vulnerable roadway user, the only legal recourse was to charge them with littering. Clearly, harassment and littering are two, very different offenses.

Unfortunately, there are roadways users who are ignorant, thoughtless, and/or arrogant. Some are motorists, some are bicyclists, and some are pedestrians. The VBPC works to encourage all roadway users to demonstrate respect and courtesy for all other roadway users. Bikes were on the roads before cars and horses were on the roads before bikes. Equestrians, bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists will be sharing Vermont’s roads for a long time into the future. With a little mindfulness and consideration, such sharing can be a pleasant experience for all.

The Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition is happy to respond to questions and comments about the new legislation. Feedback may be directed to Executive Director Nancy Schulz at (802) 225-8904 or Nancy@VTBikePed.org

 

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  • The New "Safe Passing" Law in Vermont | 12 comments | Create New Account
    The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they may say.
    The New "Safe Passing" Law in Vermont
    Authored by: pjmelton on Tuesday, June 22 2010 @ 04:51 PM GMT+4
    Thanks for letting us know about this important new law! Hopefully it will lead to greater awareness among everyone who uses the road.

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    "The whole shadow of Man is only as big as his hat. " -- Elizabeth Bishop
    The New "Safe Passing" Law in Vermont
    Authored by: cgrotke on Tuesday, June 22 2010 @ 04:57 PM GMT+4
    Thanks for the new rules. No texting while driving is
    another new one this year.

    Amazing that throwing objects at people riding bikes
    wasn't a violation before now. (I was thinking if PAYT
    passed I'd just toss all my garbage to Paula as she rode
    by.. darn! (Just kidding))

    One way I try to be safe when driving a car is to imagine
    that every motorcycle, bike, or pedestrian I see is
    someone in my family.
    Don't trash my bike!
    Authored by: pjmelton on Tuesday, June 22 2010 @ 05:20 PM GMT+4
    Perhaps I need to equip my paniers with trash can liners.... But I'll have to charge you for that.

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    "The whole shadow of Man is only as big as his hat. " -- Elizabeth Bishop
    Don't trash my bike!
    Authored by: cgrotke on Tuesday, June 22 2010 @ 05:45 PM GMT+4
    I was going to hide in the bushes, too, so you may want
    surveillance cameras.

    But, alas, all moot. I'll have to just send text messages to
    Tad as he rides around: cmpst rdy 4 pckp
    The New "Safe Passing" Law in Vermont
    Authored by: Tad Montgomery on Tuesday, June 22 2010 @ 05:00 PM GMT+4
    When does this law go into effect?

    Also, I'd like everyone to note that the anti-texting legislation does not apply to bicyclists.
    The New "Safe Passing" Law in Vermont
    Authored by: pjmelton on Tuesday, June 22 2010 @ 05:50 PM GMT+4
    I have seen cyclists talking on cell phones (much to my horror - I don't even talk while driving, which requires no fine motor control), but not texting. Yet.

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    "The whole shadow of Man is only as big as his hat. " -- Elizabeth Bishop
    Flashing Lights to Save Lives
    Authored by: spinoza on Tuesday, June 22 2010 @ 11:14 PM GMT+4
    I'd like to see a blinker installed on the roof of cars that lights up like an "On Air" signal in a radio or TV station, when a driver is using their phone while driving. It could Flash "NPFATY" (Not Paying Full Attention to You) or something...

    Flashing Lights to Save Lives
    Authored by: pjmelton on Wednesday, June 23 2010 @ 01:07 AM GMT+4
    No, I can already tell when drivers aren't paying attention. What I want is to be able to communicate with THEM. A remote face-smacker would do the trick, I think.

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    "The whole shadow of Man is only as big as his hat. " -- Elizabeth Bishop
    Flashing Lights to Save Lives
    Authored by: Maus Anon E on Wednesday, June 23 2010 @ 01:44 AM GMT+4
    If only cars came with some sort of audible signaling device.

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    Slán abhaile
    Guttural Gibbering to Save Lives
    Authored by: pjmelton on Wednesday, June 23 2010 @ 01:40 PM GMT+4
    Cars do. Pedestrians and bikes cannot make very loud sounds, though the other day I saved my own life by shouting unintelligible (even to me) things at a driver who had her windows open and no radio on, but didn't check her mirror before trying to pass on the right in the bike lane I happened to be using at the time.

    ---
    "The whole shadow of Man is only as big as his hat. " -- Elizabeth Bishop
    Trump Car..?
    Authored by: spinoza on Wednesday, June 23 2010 @ 11:45 AM GMT+4
    In reading the new law, it's clear that skateboaders are covered by the new protections

    >>>a person operating a bicycle or other nonmotorized means of transportation (such as, but not limited to, roller skates, rollerblades, or roller skis);>>>

    I'm wondering, does this law annul, or override(no pun) the skateboard ordinance in town?

    Trump Car..?
    Authored by: pjmelton on Wednesday, June 23 2010 @ 01:42 PM GMT+4
    No, but if you break the law, the police have to pass you carefully while pulling you over.

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    "The whole shadow of Man is only as big as his hat. " -- Elizabeth Bishop