MassBike’s Vulnerable Road Users bill has been filed in the Massachusetts legislature! The bill is the centerpiece of our 2011 campaigns, so we are very excited about this first step. Many thanks to Rep. Sean Garballey for filing the bill, and to co-sponsors Rep. Kay Khan, Rep. Carl Sciortino, and Rep. Will Brownsberger.
When a bicyclist is hit by a car and killed or injured, we often see it referred to as “a tragic accident.” While certainly tragic, these incidents should be investigated and treated as more than simply accidents. When a driver operates negligently or recklessly around bicyclists, that is a crime and we want to make sure law enforcement treats it that way.
This new bill will encourage motorists to exercise more caution when operating around vulnerable road users, such as bicyclists and pedestrians, by increasing penalties to those who injure or kill vulnerable road users. The bill, if passed, would raise the fines associated with harming or killing vulnerable road users; require a traffic safety class and community service to raise awareness of interactions between motorized vehicles and vulnerable users; and it will correct language that hampers the prosecution of motorists who negligently or recklessly cause injury or death to vulnerable road users. By providing law enforcement with additional tools to protect vulnerable road users, we will make the roads safer for everyone.
So what happens next? The bill was filed on January 21, 2011, and we’ve now got two years to try to get it passed and signed into law. (Click here to learn about the Massachusetts legislative process.) We will need your help to build support in the Legislature for this bill at each step of the process, so keep an eye out for Action Alerts and be ready to call or email your state representatives and senators. We’re also planning public events to raise awareness of the danger motorists pose to bicyclists and pedestrians, to gain public and media support for the bill.
Getting a law passed in Massachusetts is not easy – the last one, our 2009 Bicyclist Safety Act, took eight years – but together we can get this done!