The improper use of bicycle lanes by motorists has prompted local cycling advocates to propose legislation that would make the state’s streets a safer place for bikes.
Lawmakers are considering two bills written by the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, also known as MassBike.
The first would make it illegal for motorists to block bike lanes, and the second would define cyclists, pedestrians, road workers, police, firefighters and tow truck drivers as “vulnerable road users.” That bill also defines a safe-passing distance as three feet from vulnerable road users.
“If you want to understand the gist of this bill just pull over into breakdown lane and get out of your car. Its terrifying,” said MassBike Executive Director Richard Fries.
There are currently no legal ramifications for motorists who use designated bike lanes. Fries said it’s high time that changed.
“We worked so hard to get bike lanes into this city, and they’ve become wonderful taxi cab lanes, turning lanes, loading zones and ‘drop your spouse off for work’ lanes,” said Fries. “The problem was amplified during these past few winter storms. It’s time to protect them.”
Two women – a Boston pedestrian and a Cambridge cyclist – were killed by vehicles last week as they travelled city along bike lanes.
“These were women in their 60s, not wild eyed couriers. They were gentle users of our streetscape,” said Fries.
It’s no secret that many Bay State motorists wear their “Masshole” badge with pride behind the wheel.
“We have somehow adopted this Massachusetts attitude, like it’s some urban kitsch that we think is cute – but its not. It’s deadly, and we saw that last week,” he said.
According to the coalition, 42 lawmakers have already agreed to be sponsors or co-sponsors of the bills.