Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Senate pedals closer to passing a bicycle-safety law

A state Senate committee passed a bill today that its sponsors said will clarify how motorists interact with bicyclists in hopes of making the roads safer for everyone.

Senate Bill 80, as amended in the Senate Standing Committee on Transportation, relates to drivers passing bicycles on the roadway. One key provision of the bills requires motorists to stay three feet away from bicycles during passing.

Sen. Robin L. Webb, D-Grayson, a primary sponsor of SB 80, thanked Senate President Pro Tem David P. Givens, R-Greensburg, for his help in drafting the legislation.

“He certainly is the cyclist in our group,” Webb said of Givens. “I ride horses so I deferred to his expertise. He is not here today, but I do want to give him a shout-out. I appreciate him helping out on this.”

Webb said SB 80 is a clarification of what motorists should be doing now.

“Bicycles are a growing mode of transportation both in urban areas and rural areas,” she said. “The Department of Transportation is doing a good job with some governments about accommodating cyclists in a safe manner but yet we have had a few tragedies of late when it comes to cyclists and sharing the road.”

Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, said a trail brings a lot of bike tourism to his district.

“I know some people may think this is a Louisville/Lexington bill,” he said. “I can tell you that it is not true. There are a lot of rural places in the state that have a lot of bicycle traffic. Hopefully this will give these people a sense of security as they travel through our region.”

Webb said her home is between two Kentucky Trail Towns, Olive Hill and Morehead.

“Cyclists spend money,” Webb said. “We want to do everything we can to attract them and make them safe when they are in our communities.”

The Kentucky Trail Town Program is designed to help connect communities to trail systems and assist in developing sites as tourist destinations. The goal is to create an environment that is inviting to travelers, entrepreneurs and economic development.

“Motorized vehicles need to be mindful that this sector is growing, not only for convenience and recreation, but also sometimes out of necessity,” Webb said.