Massachusetts Legislature to Consider Multiple Bicyclist, Pedestrian, and Motorist Safety Bills

5704735786_69e2cfac89_bThe Massachusetts legislature is set to consider a number of bills that would provide greater protections for bicyclists throughout the state.

First, the Vulnerable Users Bill would impose a three-feet law on motorists when passing or operating a vehicle near a so-called “vulnerable user,” even if doing so would require the motorist to steer into another lane or cross a center line. As proposed, the definition of a vulnerable user is broad, including first responders, construction site employees, pedestrians, police, and bicyclists. According to research included with the legislative proposal, bicycle accidents involving impacts from the rear constitute 40 percent of incidents resulting in death. This law attempts to reduce that figure.

Next, the Truck Side Guard Bill would require convex mirrors and side guards to be affixed to large vehicles operating throughout Massachusetts. Truck side guards are devices that prevent bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists from being struck by a semi-truck’s massive rear wheels. Due to the high ground clearance that trucks often have, bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians involved in a side impact collision with these trucks are often swept underneath, resulting in severe injuries and numerous fatalities. Side guards shield vulnerable individuals from suffering this fate.

According to proponents of the truck side guard bill, a large portion of bicycle-related deaths and injuries in the state have been the result of large trucks executing right turns in cramped urban roadways. Although an ordinance mandating similar requirements was enacted in Boston, the bill would have greater implications for bicyclists throughout Massachusetts.

Another proposed bill, called the Bike Lane Bill, would impose a penalty on cars that stand or park in bike lanes or other spaces that are designated for bicyclists. A violation of the law would result in a ticket and a $100 fine. Advocates of this law contend that parking and double-parking in bike lanes is a common occurrence that creates dangers for bicyclists, who must navigate around these vehicles, often leading them right into the path of passing traffic. Parking or double parking in bike lanes also creates traffic congestion, creating dangers for everyone on the road, not just bicyclists.

The fourth item on the Massachusetts legislature’s docket is called the Bike Path Crosswalk Bill, which would allow bicyclists to ride their bicycles when traversing a crosswalk instead of requiring them to dismount from their bicycles and walk across the crosswalk. Currently, Massachusetts law only protects pedestrians using crosswalks, even when the crosswalk is incorporated in a bike path. Advocates for this legislation assert that it is unrealistic to require bicyclists to dismount from their bicycles when using crosswalks.

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries due to a motorist’s lack of due care, you may be entitled to compensation. At the Law Offices of John S. Moffa, our dedicated team of personal injury and bicycle accident lawyers know what it takes to obtain a settlement or a judgment in your favor and can ensure that your rights are asserted at each step of the litigation.

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