Dead Red for bicycles and Safe Passing of Bicycles provisions pass Missouri Senate

Yesterday SB 761, sponsored by Senator Bill Stouffer, was debated and passed the Missouri Senate.

It would be appropriate to send a brief email message to Sen. Stouffer thanking him for including the bicycle-related provisions in SB 761. Indicate your name, where you are from, and any bicycle-related organizations you below to or represent. Sen. Stouffer's email address is: bstouffer[at]senate.mo.gov

SB 761 has two important provisions for bicyclists:

1. "Dead red for bicycles". The motorcyclists have been lobbying for this bill for years. This year MoBikeFed asked the motorcycle lobbying groups and the bill's sponsor to include bicycles in the provision as well.

The bill will allow motorcyclists or bicyclists who come to a traffic signal that will not change for them, to proceed through the signal, when safe, without any danger of receiving a traffic ticket.

The provision will also help put pressure on DOTs and public works departments to fix these traffic signals so that they properly recognize and activate for bicycles and motorcycles.

2."Passing bicycles allowed on solid yellow line, when safe". The Missouri Blueprint for Safety has been pushing for a stronger law in Missouri to prevent vehicles passing when a solid yellow stripe indicates "no passing zone". The difficulty was that early drafts of this proposed law allowed no exceptions for faster vehicles that needed to pass slow moving vehicles like farm implements or bicycles.

The version of SB 761 passed by the Senate yesterday includes a provision that motorists may cross the solid yellow line to pass bicyclists, when it is safe to do so.

This reflects the reality of how good, safe motorists currently operate when passing a bicycle in that situation--they wait until there is a safe opportunity to pass and then pull partly or completely into the oncoming lane, so that they can pass the bicyclist while leaving sufficient clearance for safety.

Only unsafe motorists insist on pressing past bicyclists within the lane in that situation, when a solid yellow line indicates "no passing" but there is not room within the lane to pass the bicyclist with safe clearance. We did not want to have a law on the books in Missouri that appeared to enforce that kind of dangerous passing of bicyclists.

SB 761 achieves that aim.

Now the bill goes on to the House. SB 761 is a very large omnibus transportation bill that includes many different topics. It is unknown at this time what the bill's reception in the House will be.

Note: As of 3/27/2008 the full text versions and summaries of the bill online do not include the bicycle-related text that was included in the version passed by the Senate on 3/26/2008.

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