Editorial: Sharing the road

Recently I've received inquiries about the rights of cyclists and pedestrians on our roadways. With summer season kicking into high gear and bringing with it more people out and about, I wanted to share this safety reminder. 

Bike safety 

Because of the large disparities in size, weight and speed between bicycles and motor vehicles, it’s no surprise that cyclists are at a tremendous disadvantage in the result of a collision with a car or truck. 

That's why a new state law was enacted this year that requires motorists to allow at least three feet of separation when overtaking and passing cyclists. Failure to do so could result in a fine under the motor vehicle code “failure to grant the right of way to a bicycle.” 

This new law strives to increase motorist awareness of bicycles, and to make conditions safer by preventing collisions.

Please be patient, especially on our narrow and curvy back roads to ensure you leave enough separation from any cyclist while ensuring you have visibility to any oncoming vehicles.  

Pedestrian safety

Since 1929, pedestrians have had the right of way in crosswalks. If a pedestrian is at the curb of or in a crosswalk all vehicles must slow down or stop to allow him to reach either the opposite side of the street or a “safety zone.” 

This year in the Transportation committee, a committee on which I serve, we passed a bill the governor has signed, which increases the penalty for failure to yield. 

Increased fines are imposed when a motor vehicle operator:

  1. Fails to give the right of way, slow, or stop as appropriate for pedestrians at crosswalks;

  2. Passes a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk;

  3. Fails to yield to pedestrians and others when crossing a sidewalk;

  4. Fails to reduce speed and stop as necessary to yield to a blind pedestrian carrying a white cane or guided by a guide dog

  5. Fails to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian or person operating a bicycle or fails to give a reasonable warning to avoid collision (such as sounding a horn). 

If a pedestrian is not in a marked or unmarked crosswalk, then he must yield to all other traffic. The law places some restrictions on pedestrians using crosswalks. For example, they are required to yield the right of way to emergency vehicles. 

Let’s all take extra care this summer and put safety first.  

As always feel free to contact me on this issue or any other questions and concerns you might have for me. 

I can always be reached at any time at: Laura.Devlin@housegop.ct.gov or call 1.800.842.1423.