Proposal to protect nondrivers dies
Shortly after Beacon Hill lawmakers essentially killed a bill meant to help protect bicyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, a bike rider was killed and another seriously injured in separate incidents.
Rather than vote on vulnerable road users bill, the Joint Committee on Transportation sent the bill to study, which almost always means a bill is done progressing for the legislative session.
“We’re definitely dismayed the legislature didn’t deem it important enough to even debate,” said Pete Stidman, executive director of the Boston Cyclists Union. “We’re not talking about a huge change. It’s something I think that we deemed passable, but we’re going to have to do some homework to find out why the legislators were hesitant to bring it to the floor.”
A staffer for the committee’s members said he could not comment by press time.
The committee voted to send it to study just before its deadline reporting date of last Friday — the same day a 28-year-old Boston College graduate student was killed as she rode her bicycle along Huntington Avenue. Police are investigating whether woman was hit or fell into traffic.
That same day a doctor from Norwood Hospital was seriously injured when he was hit by a car as he rode his bicycle in Norwood. The driver fled, but later surrendered to police.
Last week, plans to expand the bicycle-sharing program Hubway from 61 to 100 stations were announced. Hubway also logged more than 250,000 rides this year — its second in operation.
The addition of more bikes and amateur cyclists creates a need for more awareness and education for both drivers and riders, advocates said.
Groups that backed the bill said they plan to continue their work to get something similar passed in the future.
House bill 3079, also known as An Act Providing for the Safety of Vulnerable Road Users, includes a pedestrian or person using a bicycle, handcycle, tricycle, skateboard, roller skates, in-line skates or non-motorized scooter as a vulnerable user. The bill would:
Increase the fines of certain traffic violations involving a vulnerable road user to up to $10,000
Require violators of certain traffic laws to complete a safety class including interactions between motorized vehicles and vulnerable users
Require violators of certain traffic laws to do up to 100 hours of community service