35 Bike/Ped Accidents Since 2009, Claiming 6 Lives
East Hartford (August 4, 2015) - At the urging of advocates and after three years of planning and feasibility analysis, construction on Connecticut's first ever "road diet" has started on Burnside Avenue in East Hartford. Construction began on July 27 with completion scheduled for July 2016.
At a press conference today, Governor Malloy, DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker and East Hartford Mayor Marcia LeClerc touted the project as a much-needed safety measure, and the first of more road diets to come. Redeker cited the project as an example of DOT's transition to a complete streets philosophy.
The four-lane section of Route 44 on Burnside Avenue has been no friend to pedestrians cyclists over the years, with 35 bike and pedestrian accidents since 2009, claiming six lives. Generally, four-lane, relatively wide roadways encourage drivers to speed up, and high speed accidents are more likely to result in significant injuries or death.
To make Burnside Avenue safer for pedestrians and cyclists, the road diet project will convert the existing four lane road to a two lane road with two 5 ft. bike lanes and two 7 ft. shoulders-- wide enough to preserve on-street parking. The road diet will cover the 2.76-mile stretch of Burnside Avenue between Main Street and Mary Street.
According to East Hartford's Plan of Conservation and Development, the road diet will improve connectivity to other paths for bicyclists including streets with wide shoulders (e.g. Mary Street) and trails such as the Charter Oak Greenway.
Planning for the road diet started in 2012 and included public meetings for DOT to share design concepts and hear from interested individuals. Construction was initially targeted for spring 2015 depending on funding availability. Ninety percent of the project is financed with federal funding, with the remaining 10% coming from the state.
More information at: DOT - Summary, Fact Sheet; East Hartford POCD; TSTC: “Groundbreaking” ConnDOT Road Diet Must Be First of Many.
If you think Congress and advocacy are irrelevant, think again. This July has become a high stakes, action-packed transportation month in Congress.
Transportation funding accounts are running out of money and need to be renewed. There's a funding and policy deadline at the end of the month, and now the Senate wants to turn the federal TIGER* program into a freight program instead of a multi-modal transportation funding program. This could all happen before Congress goes on August recess. Senator Blumenthal is on the Senate Commerce Committee, which may vote on a key bill tomorrow, Wednesday morning.
What to do:
Contact Senator Richard Blumenthal TODAY at 202-224-2823 or https://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/contact/ (choose "Transportation" as your topic).
What to Say:
Use this as a starting point but please personalize it:
Dear Senator Blumenthal:
As a member of Bike Walk Connecticut, I am writing to ask for your strong support to continue federal programs that fund biking and walking as active transportation options.
We understand that the Commerce Committee is now considering TIGER funding, complete streets, and roll-on service for bikes on Amtrak. Accordingly, we ask that you please:
*Background: What's the TIGER Program?
TIGER stands for "Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery." TIGER grants have helped fund innovative, multi-modal transportation projects for freight, ports, road, transit, and walking and biking since 2009. The TIGER program helps cut through red tape and provide funding directly to local areas for transportation projects that cut congestion, improve safety, promote economic development, or improve access to jobs and opportunities through smarter transportation investments. The TIGER program remains critical for local trails and bicycle and pedestrian projects.
Thanks for speaking up for biking and walking!
Thanks to WNPR's Patrick Skahill for covering the new bike laws that took effect July 1. The story aired during morning drive time.
Missed it? Listen here.
Our colleague Joe Cutrufo at Tri State sums up all the recent progress that's come about in Connecticut transportation:
How Connecticut’s Transportation Outlook Has Changed in Just Six Months
POSTED BY: JOSEPH CUTRUFO JULY 6, 2015
It’s been said that life moves pretty fast, and if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
With the progress we’ve seen in the Nutmeg State during the last several months, the same could be said for transportation policy change in Connecticut.
At the outset of 2015, highway tolls were considered taboo, nobody knew what was on the governor’s long-term transportation agenda, there was no lockbox to stop raids on transportation funds, two-way and parking-protected bike lanes were illegal, and CTfastrak service still hadn’t launched. In six short months, however, all of that has changed. Read the full story here.
Thanks to the New Britain Herald for helping to get the word out on CT's important new bike laws. Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/1M1dh1K
Bicyclists have more freedom to determine how to safely ride on Connecticut roads, and motorists have more room to pass them as a result of changes to Connecticut’s laws for cyclists, which took effect July 1.
Public Act 15-41 was passed in May with broad bipartisan support and was signed June 1 by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The new law eliminates the rule requiring cyclists to always ride as far to the right edge of the road as possible, but also gives motorists permission to cross double-yellow lines when passing slower-moving cyclists.
The law allows cyclists to determine how close to the curb to ride in certain circumstances, rather than always as close as possible. Bike Walk Connecticut specifically advocated for the new language, which is modeled on best practice in Colorado and endorsed by the League of American Bicyclists.
The new law allows for the designation of two-way bicycle lanes, buffered bike lanes and cycle tracks.
Cyclists are not required to ride as close to the right side of the road as possible in the following instances:
∎ Overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
∎ Preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
∎ Avoiding fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or lanes that are too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to travel safely side-by-side;
∎ Approaching an intersection where right turns are permitted and there is a dedicated right turn lane, in which case a bicyclist may ride on the left hand side of the lane;
∎ Riding on a roadway designated for one-way traffic, when the bicyclist may ride as near to the left hand curb as is judged safe;
∎ Riding in designated bicycle lanes.
For more information visit bikewalkct.org.
For Immediate Release
July 1, 2015 (Hartford, CT) -- Important changes to Connecticut's laws for cyclists take effect July 1, 2015. The Bicycle Safety bill, Senate Bill 502 and now Public Act 15-41, was passed in May with broad bipartisan support. The Governor signed the bill into law on June 1.
The new law eliminates the confusing--and often unsafe--rule requiring cyclists to ride as far to the right as practicable.
Instead, the law now requires cyclists to ride as close to the right side of the road as is safe, as judged by the cyclist. Bike Walk Connecticut specifically advocated for that language, which is modeled on a best practice from Colorado as identified by the League of American Bicyclists.
As of July 1, cyclists don't have to ride as close to the right side of the road when:
The new law also allows two-way bicycle lanes, buffered bike lanes, and cycle tracks to be designed in Connecticut and allows drivers to cross the double yellow line to pass slower-moving cyclists and other road users when it's safe to do so.
Watch for more information from Bike Walk CT this summer about Sharing the Road.
For more information, contact Bike Walk CT Exec. Dir. Kelly Kennedy at 860.578.5925.
Susan Tuz, reporter for the Danbury-based News-Times, asks:
Can bikes and cars coexist?
Fatal accidents demonstrate need for increased awareness, separate lanes
By Susan Tuz, Sun. June 28, 2015
The negligent homicide charge filed last week against a New Milford man in the 2014 death of a bicyclist highlighted the growing potential for collisions between motor vehicles and increasingly numerous two-wheelers.
Although bicycle commuting in Greater Danbury is still uncommon, recreational use is on the rise, and a 2014 state law requires that the needs of cyclists — including, for example, the provision of designated bike lanes — be taken into account in planning for new transportation projects.
Advocates for motorists and cyclists agree that both groups must better learn the rules of the road in order to avoid accidents like the one that killed Dwight Hipp, 57, while he was riding one morning last August on Route 109
— the fourth such fatality in the region since 2010. John Kimberley, 23, is scheduled to appear in court Monday in Bantam to face charges that could put him in jail up to six months.
From 2008 to 2012, 11 other cyclists were left incapacitated after collisions with motor vehicles, according to a study for the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials.
Kelly Kennedy, executive director of Bike Walk CT, said the state “is approaching a tipping point.”
“A Share the Road campaign is something Connecticut needs to work on,” Kennedy said. “Courtesy and awareness on the roadway goes both ways. Cyclists need to be predictable, and drivers have to be aware of cyclists.”
While both groups need to be aware of each other, the state recognizes that a person on a bicycle is at a definite disadvantage in a standoff with a car or truck. A recent Vulnerable Road User law prohibits motorists from impeding cyclists when making a right turn, gives cyclists the right of way in intersections and requires drivers to maintain three feet of clearance when passing a bike.
“Drivers have to get used to cyclists being on the roads,” said Tom O’Brien, president of the New Milford River Trails Association. “We all need to drive slower when in a car or truck and use more caution when there are pedestrians or cyclists on the road.”
But cyclists, too, have their responsibilities. In Connecticut, the same traffic laws that apply to motorists apply to cyclists: Stop signs and traffic lights must be obeyed, hand signals must be used to indicate stops and turns, and cyclists generally must ride as close as possible to the right side of the roadway [*but see important note below], traveling in the same direction as motorists.
Read the full story here
* Bike Walk CT Note: The 2015 Bike Safety Bill (Public Act 2015-41, effective July 1, 2015) makes important changes to the old rule to ride "as far to the right as is practicable."
The new rule, effective July 1, 2015, is that "Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic shall ride as close to the right side of the roadway as is safe, as judged by the bicyclist."
Under the new law, there are six situations when bicyclists do not have to ride to the right of the road:
(1) When overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or lanes that are too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to travel safely side by side within such lanes;
(4) When approaching an intersection where right turns are permitted and there is a dedicated right turn lane, in which case a bicyclist may ride on the left-hand side of such dedicated lane, even if the bicyclist does not intend to turn right;
(5) When riding on a roadway designated for one-way traffic, when the bicyclist may ride as near to the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as judged safe by the bicyclist; or
(6) When riding on parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, including, but not limited to, counter-flow bicycle lanes, left-handed cycle tracks on one-way streets and two-way cycle tracks.
There are 6 days left in the legislative session, budget negotiations are in full swing, and funding for bike ped initiatives is still undecided.
Take Action! Please tell your legislators you want funding for a first-rate bike and pedestrian transportation system!
If we really want Connecticut to be a great place to bike and walk, we need to send that message loud and clear to our legislators. We did a great job getting 153 people to submit remarks supporting the Governor's transportation funding proposal, HB 6840, to the Finance Committee back in April. Now we need to repeat that message to all of our legislators.
Background: The Governor's proposal includes $101 million for bike ped funding authorizations for 2016 through 2020, which is the "five year ramp up" phase of the 30 year plan. HB 6840 includes a variety of bonding requests that will allow the state to fund improvements to our active transportation system, including bike lanes, greenways, multiuse paths, and pedestrian networks, along with improvements to bridges, transit, rail and roads.
Take Action! Please tell your legislators you want funding for a first-rate bike and pedestrian transportation system!
Subject: Please support funding for a first-rate bike and pedestrian transportation system!
As a member of Bike Walk Connecticut, I urge you to support funding proposals for a first-rate bike and pedestrian transportation system that includes a network of bike lanes, greenways, multiuse paths, and pedestrian infrastructure.
Legislature Passes “Bike Bill” SB 502
Bike Walk Connecticut
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