As part of our ongoing work with MassDOT, this year MassBike has been expanding our cooperation with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. In May, our collaboration resulted in a revised Go By Bike brochure, released during Bay State Bike Week.
But there have been two other notable milestones in our work with RMV this year: important bike safety additions to the Driver’s Manual and on the licensing written test.
The RMV worked with MassDOT and MassBike to release a new version of the Driver’s Manual (English) (Spanish) that for the first time includes information for drivers about how to safely interact with bicyclists. In response to the 2009 Bicyclist Safety Act spearheaded by MassBike, the “Rules of the Road” section of the manual now specifically talks about motorist behavior in the presence of bicyclists (such as how to pass and turn safely and the danger of dooring). These changes are also specifically referenced in an expanded “Sharing the Road” section right at the beginning of the manual (along with a very strong statement that motorists must respect and protect bicyclists on the road), and again in the “Safety First” section. This is an important step toward ensuring that motorists drive more safely around bicyclists, and we will continue to work with the RMV to better integrate this information throughout the manual.
The changes to the Driver’s Manual are complemented by an important change to the licensing written test: Every applicant for a driver’s license now gets a question on a bicycle safety issue. Because applicants can be sure that bicycle safety will be on the test, it creates a strong incentive for individuals to study this material carefully and for Driver’s Education programs to include it in their training. No one wants to risk flunking their driving test!
While these educational improvements will not reach every driver immediately, over time we can be sure that more and more drivers will learn how to drive more safely around bicyclists. Many thanks to the RMV and to MassDOT for their ongoing and growing commitment to bicyclist safety. We are working on other initiatives with the RMV, and we will keep you posted.