February 13, 2013
The Honorable Andrew Maynard
The Honorable Antonio Guerrera
Co-Chairpersons, Transportation Committee
Legislative Office Building
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
Re: SUPPORT for SB 191, the Vulnerable User bill
SUPPORT for HB 5126, funding for bike lanes and sidewalks in West Haven
OPPOSITION to SB 103 and HB 5246, single file riding
Dear Chairmen Maynard and Guerrera:
Bike Walk Connecticut would like to offer its positions on several bills before the Transportation Committee on February 13, 2013.
Bike Walk Connecticut SUPPORTS SB 191, An Act Concerning The Penalty For Causing Harm To A Vulnerable User Of A Public Way. This bill will help hold accountable careless drivers who injure or kill non-motorized users of the road. It passed the State Senate unanimously last year but failed to come to a vote in the House. In its Dangerous by Design[i] report, Transportation for America notes that nationwide, pedestrians account for nearly 12 percent of total traffic deaths. Between 2000 and 2009 373 people were killed while walking in Connecticut. Hartford County leads Connecticut with the most pedestrian fatalities between 2000 and 2009. Transportation for America reports that a majority of these deaths occurred along “arterial” roadways, streets engineered for speeding traffic with little or no provision for people on foot, in wheelchairs or on bicycles. The map below depicts pedestrian deaths in Connecticut from 2000-2009.
Not only are many of our roadways dangerous to vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists—particularly when speed limits are not observed or enforced -- the attitudes such as those expressed in comments to a recent Simsbury Patch story[ii] raise serious concerns:
“If I see 2 bicyclist riding side by side I make it a point to get as close as possible to them…”
Vulnerable User legislation is good public policy, and we urge you to vote in favor of it.
Bike Walk Connecticut also supports HB 5126, An Act Authorizing Bonds of the State to the City of West Haven for Sidewalks and Bicycle Lanes. This bill would provide funding to install sidewalks and bicycle lanes for the 1.5 miles between the Metro-North West Haven train station and the Yale West Campus. This measure too is good public policy, as it would provide an active transportation route from the train station to Yale, Connecticut’s only Bicycle Friendly University.
Finally, Bike Walk Connecticut does not support SB 103 or HB 5246, two bills requiring cyclists to ride single file.
We appreciate the safety sentiment behind the proposed bill. However, subsection (b) of Conn. Gen. Stat. §14-286b already provides that “Persons riding two abreast … shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic …”
As we understand the law, it is illegal for bicyclists to ride two abreast if that action alone prevents a motorist from safely passing. But we must point out that many of Connecticut’s roads are two narrow to allow a motorist to safely pass even a single bike-rider in the face of oncoming traffic.
We are grateful to our state government for the actions it has taken in recent years to improve opportunities for “active transportation.” But we all have to learn to adjust to the changes. Motorists must accept that they don’t own the roads; and bicyclists must learn to follow the rules of the road.
Accordingly, rather than amend current law, Bike Walk Connecticut urges that Connecticut re-commit to, and enforce, a vigorous Share the Road campaign to promote the legal, safe and courteous use of the roads by all users.
Attached please find some additional comments on these bills from some of our members.
Thank you for considering these viewpoints.
Kelly Kennedy, Executive Director
Bike Walk Connecticut
[i] Transportation for America, Dangerous by Design, http://t4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign2011
[ii] Simsbury Patch, Debate Heats Up Over Proposed Single File Riding Bill (Jan. 16, 2013), at http://simsbury.patch.com/articles/debate-heats-up-over-proposed-single-file-riding-bill
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