New bicycle law should make Maine roads safer, more accessible (Portland Press Herald)

This article originally appeared in the Portland Press Herald.

New bicycle law should make Maine roads safer, more accessible

Wednesday June 19, 2013 | 10:24 AM

With the tragic news last week of 23-year-old Massachusetts cyclist David LeClair being killed while riding in the American Lung Association Trek Across Maine, little attention was given to Maine’s newest bicycling law.

On June 14, LD 1460, “A Bill To Revise Maine Bicycle Law,” became law thanks to the hard work and attention from the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

The hope is that the bill, sponsored by Rep. Erik Jorgensen of Portland, is just the beginning of a process that will make cycling safer and more accessibility for riders around the state. And it is interesting to note that, with all of the recent vetoes and threats of veto out of Augusta, the bill was made into law without Governor LePage’s signature.

The following are the key points of the law:

The operator of the bicycle determines where it is safest and most “practicable” to ride on a roadway. This common sense change clarifies that when a bicyclist feels the need to use a travel lane (for example, because a shoulder is not in safe condition), the bicyclist has a clear legal right to do so.

A collision of a passing car with a bicycle is “prima facie” evidence of a violation of the three-foot law. BCM hopes that this change will encourage more citations for violations of the three-foot law, whether or not a collision occurs.

Cars may not make turns in front of bicycles when doing so interferes with the safe and legal operation of a bicycle.

“We’re thrilled to improve and clarify the foundation of bicycle law in Maine and are hopeful this bill will act as a catalyst for future legislation to protect the rights and safety of bicyclists,” said BCM Executive Director Nancy Grant.

For a detailed description of provisions in the new law go to bikemaine.org.

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