Bike Advocacy Corner
Members of MusclePower, the Nevada Bicycle Advisory Board and the Nevada Bicycle Coalition met and sorted through all of the potential pro-bicyclist legislation that could be requested this legislative session. A child helmet bill, the Idaho stop sign law, and the 3 foot passing rule were among those considered. What made the cut was a Vulnerable Roadway Users bill similar to the one in Oregon. State Assembly Member Teresa Benitas-Thompson agreed to co-sponsor it with David Bobzien.
We haven’t seen the bill draft yet but it should look a lot like the Oregon law. The Oregon Vulnerable Roadway Users Law defines a new class of “vulnerable” road user and proscribes new, tougher penalties for careless driving leading to serious injury or death of one of these users. In Oregon a “vulnerable user” means a pedestrian, a highway worker, a person riding an animal or a person operating any of the following on a public way, crosswalk or shoulder of the highway: a farm tractor or implement of husbandry; a skateboard; roller skates; in-line skates; a scooter; or a bicycle.
This law requires a court to sentence a person convicted of this offense to complete a traffic safety course, perform 100 to 200 hours of community service, pay a fine of up to $12,500, and suspension of driving privileges for one year. Payment of the fine and suspension of driving privileges may be waived by the court upon completion of the traffic safety course and community service.
To my way of thinking, the point of this is to give the judge a bigger hammer when the careless motorist says something like, “Bicyclists belong on the sidewalk” or “It was the bicyclist’s own fault for being in the road”. Of course the other point is to somehow balance the power and protection a motorist enjoys against the lack of power and protection of a vulnerable user by making the motorist more “vulnerable”.
You can help with the e-mail and letter campaign or come to Carson City to testify when the bill is being considered. If you want to roam the halls of the capital talking to legislators or to find other vulnerable users to testify, please let me know. We could use your help. I’ll keep you posted – Terry