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News / Blog Advocacy News
Advocacy News

On the Lege: Iris Stagner Safe Passing Act, HB 2459

SafePassingMapThe Iris Stager Safe Passing Act will establish a standard safe passing distance that only applies when road conditions allow. Twenty-three Texas cities have passed local laws consistent with this bill.

Safe Passing applies when passing road users who are unprotected including pedestrians, runners, physically disabled persons, children, skaters, construction and maintenance workers, tow truck operators, stranded motorists, horse riders, and persons operating bicycles, motorcycles, or unprotected farm equipment. 

HB 2459 Authors:

Rep. Mando Martinez
Rep. Jim Keffer; Rep. James Frank; Rep. Geanie Morrison; Rep. Eddie Lucio III

1. What protections does this bill provide?

This Safe Passing Bill will establish for unprotected road users a standard safe passing distance of 3 feet (or 6 feet for Commercial Vehicles) that only applies when road conditions allow. It also prohibits the "right hook" (turning dangerously in front of an unprotected road user) and failing to yield when making a left turn at an intersection.

2. What are the penalties for violating this bill?

Up to a $200 fine under Section 542.401 General Penalty of the Texas Transportation Code. The bill establishes a violation of this law as a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500 if the violation results in property damage or a Class B misdemeanor if the violation results in bodily injury. The Safe Passing Bill establishes the breaking of traffic laws by a bicyclist, or other unprotected road user, as a defense to prosecution.

3. Who are unprotected road users?

Unprotected road users include a pedestrian, runner, physically disabled person, child, skater, construction or maintenance worker, tow truck operator, stranded motorist, or equestrian, as well as a person operating a bicycle, motorcycle, or unprotected farm equipment.

4. Why do we need this bill?

Sadly, approximately 50 cyclists, 400 pedestrians, and 500 motorcyclists are killed every year in Texas. Many of those fatalities could be prevented if this law were enacted.

5. Why do unprotected road users require additional protection?

Roadways are open for public use by law in Texas, but some users do not have the same (armor) protection as motorists.

6. How are the safety distances determined? Why 3 feet for cars and 6 feet for commercial/large trucks?

The safety distances are consistent with existing safe driving practices. Currently the Texas Commercial Driver’s handbook recommends commercial vehicles allow six feet because of the wind effect of a tractor-trailer that can pull a cyclist three feet closer.

7. Have other states enacted Safe Passing laws?

The following 25 states have a law protecting unprotected road users and requiring 3-foot passing clearance: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin, plus the District of Columbia.

8. Is there a presumption of liability?

No. The Safe Passing Bill has no effect on the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

9. Can a motorist pass a unprotected road user in a no passing zone?

First, the Safe Passing Bill will establish a standard safe passing distance of 3 feet (or 6 feet for Commercial Vehicles) that only applies when road conditions allow. If road conditions do not allow, the Safe Passing Bill has no effect on passing in no passing zones. Second, current Texas law provides that a cyclist moving slower than traffic shall ride as near as practicable to the right edge of the road way and that a cyclist may not obstruct the normal flow of traffic.

Current Texas law does not provide an exception to allow passing in a no passing zone. A motorist must wait until the no passing zone ends to pass another road user, including a tractor, cyclist, or other slower-moving legal road users.

Texas law concerning safe passing currently requires a “safe passing distance”. The Safe Passing Bill defines a “safe passing distance” as 3 feet.

SafePassingLogo-3ft-2011-01

See the Iris Stagner Safe Passing Act (HB 2459) on the Texas Legislature website.

 

On the Lege: Safety Light at Night, HB 471

Bicycling-at-Night

The Safety Light at Night bill requires a rear red light during nighttime hours, either on the bike or on the bicyclist, that is visible from 500 feet away. The current law requires a front white light and a rear red light or rear reflector. Because basic bike lights have become more inexpensive over recent years, and are often distributed through give-away programs, we do not feel that this law will place an undue burden on any person who rides a bike.

Lights at night greatly increase visibility of people who ride bikes. A BikeTexas review of 317 Texas DPS bicyclist fatality records for the period 2002-08 revealed that approximately 52% of bicycle fatalities occurred in low-light or dark conditions.

As with the Safe Passing bill, BikeTexas sees great value in the educational opportunities afforded by this bill. We will continue to work with legislators and public safety departments across Texas to make sure they understand the needs of people who ride bikes in Texas.

See HB 471 on the Texas Legislature website.

   

On the Lege: Victory! For Now...

legislative update biketexas

Thank you!! Amendment 421 on HB 1

Tabled at 3:23AM, April 1

BikeTexas supporter Justin McMurtry stayed up all night to bring us this report:

"At 3:20am, the House at last takes up consideration of Rep. Hughes's amendment to prohibit state funds from being spent to convert any existing general-use traffic lane into a bike, bus, or other special-purpose lane.

Hughes offers to modify his amendment to make it 'less objectionable', but before he can explain, another member [Rep. Eddie Rodriguez] raises a point of order against it—presumably based on the House rule that disallows budgetary acts that would change existing general law.

At 3:23am, the point of order and the amendment are both temporarily withdrawn."

Your calls and emails showed that Texans overwhelmingly support giving our transportation professionals all the tools they need to provide safe roads for people on bikes. THANK YOU!

The amendment could still come back into play later in the session. As always, BikeTexas will remain vigilant at the Capitol and keep you up to date on issues affecting people who ride bikes in Texas. 

Cyclists in Suits Impressed Your Legislators

cyclists in suits 2015 fun pic for web biketexas

Cyclists in Suits, our state bicycle day at the Capitol, took place this past Monday, and it couldn't have come at a better time. On Monday, attendees from all over Texas walked the halls, passed out bicycle pins, and visited every office to explain the several bills positive to cycling working their way through right now. This helped multiply the impact of the calls and emails regarding the Hughes amendment. 

Senator Rodney Ellis, who offered a resolution recognizing BikeTexas during Cyclists in Suits, was pleased with the turnout. "From the Senate Floor, we were very impressed by the large turnout of cyclists," he said, "You all filled a big section of the gallery." See the video of Senator Ellis reading the resolution here, beginning at 24:05.

"Texas cyclists appreciate the leadership of Senator Ellis on bicycling issues," said BikeTexas Executive Director Robin Stallings. "We are grateful for the resolution offered on the Senate floor."

You can see the Cyclists in Suits agenda for more info. 

   

Cyclists in Suits Agenda

Sunday, 22 March 2015 10:17

It's almost time for Cyclists in Suits!
Agenda for the Day
With the big day just around the corner, here's the agenda for a full day of lobbying on March 30.
 
We'll start off with a light breakfast in the Capitol Auditorum, room E1.004 (see a map of the Capitol here) at 8:30 AM. Briefing for the day begins at 9 AM, with an overview of the bills we're asking our legislators to support and some tips for talking to elected officials and staffers.
 
The bills we're talking to legislators about are (links will take you to the text of the bills):
 
The Iris Stagner Safe Passing Act,  HB 2459 & SB 1416
Ban on Texting while Driving, HB 80
Safety Light at Night, HB 471
Transportation Safety Advisory Committee, HB 1136
Safe Neighborhood Streets, SB 1717
 
We will also let legislators know we oppose HB 383, which would require bicycles to be equipped with a mirror as part of a safe passing law.
 
If you didn't sign up for a bus and/or a homestay when you registered, now is the time. Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  if you can offer a homestay in the Austin area or if you would like to request a homestay. Transportation to Austin is being organized locally. Email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  if you would like to carpool, or need to sign up for a bus (we'll pass your information on to the right group). Homestays and carpools are not guaranteed, but we'll do our best to connect people.
 
If you've already signed up for a carpool or homestay, we'll contact you by the end of the week with any questions or updates. 
 
Any questions? Don't hesitate to ask! Email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
 
We look forward to lobbying with you at the Capitol on March 30! Remember, the more the merrier: encourage all your friends who ride bikes to join you in Austin.
Cyclists in Suits is presented at no cost to attendees, thanks to our sponsors Richardson Bike Mart, Bicycles Inc, and Hans Johnsen Company.
 
 
   

Get Involved! National Bike Summit Lobby Day

texans at nbs15 for web biketexasLast year at the National Bike Summit, advocates in D.C. and around the country visited, tweeted, emailed, and otherwise contacted their members of Congress about setting performance measures for bicycle and pedestrian fatalities. One year later, and those performance measures are a reality. That's the difference that lobbying makes.

Today, we can make a difference again! Bike Summit attendees are on the Hill today making personal visits, but don't let that stop you from reaching out from home. Advocates are asking three things from their members of Congress today:

1. Will you support continued funding for bicycling and walking as part of a multi-modal transportation program?  (House and Senate)

2. Will you co-sponsor the Vision Zero Act? (HR 1274) (House)

3. Will you co-sponsor the Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act (TAPIA)? (Senate)

Read more about these asks here.

Please reach out to your members of Congress today, via social media or email, to ask for their support for these measures for alternative transportation. Write your own message or use the League of American Bicyclists' action center. Your voice matters!

   

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