Currently, MassBike is working on passing two different bills to increase bike safety. Filed in January 2013, the bills garnered significant legislative co-sponsors and will be heard in committee on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. The bills are:
The Act To Protect Vulnerable Road Users (S 1639) defines “vulnerable users” to include bicyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair users, and other non-motorized road users, encourages motorists to exercise more caution when operation around vulnerable road users, educate motorists to operate more safely, and will provide law enforcement with additional tools to protect vulnerable road users. This piece of legislation addresses the problem of motorist harassment of vulnerable users by creating both criminal and civil liability for motorists who use their vehicle to physically harass a vulnerable user, and civil liability for motorists who engage in other forms of harassment of vulnerable users. (Click here for the full text of the bill).
The Act To Protect Bicyclists in Bicycle Lanes (S 1640) prohibits motor vehicle operators from parking in on-street paths or lanes designated by official signs or markings for the use of bicycles, or placing the vehicle in such a manner as to interfere with the safety and passage of bicyclists. Motorists frequently endanger bicyclists by parking in bicycle lanes, forcing bicyclists to merge into traffic. There is currently no applicable state law, and communities are passing local ordinances that will result in inconsistent rules and enforcement unless statewide action is taken. (Click here for the full text of the bill).
What is Being Done
The first step in the legislative process for these bills is a hearing before the Joint Committee on Transportation. It is scheduled for June 26, 2013, at 10am, in State House Room B-1.
We hope you are able to join MassBike at the hearing to tell your story, and to urge the Joint Committee on Transportation to report favorably on these two bills. This is the second legislative session for the Vulnerable Road Users Bill, and the first hearing ever for the Bike Lane Bill. For more information on the bills, please see our Legislative Fact Sheet.
The public hearing is an excellent opportunity for members of the bicycling community to deliver testimony to the committee that explains the need to have better laws protecting bicyclists, pedestrians, and other vulnerable users of the road. For those unable to attend the public hearing, please consider sending an email or letter to your legislators as explained in our Action Alert.
At the Bike/Walk Summit in April, we were able to educate a lot of legislators about these bills. Once again, we need your help to get this legislation rolling by contacting your legislators today and by attending the hearing.