Governor signs bill to protect walkers, bicyclists and other vulnerable users
“We very much appreciate the Governor’s support of safer walking and biking on Maine’s roads,” said Nancy Grant, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.
As a result of this legislation, Maine law now defines a “Vulnerable User” as a person on the public way who is more vulnerable to injury than a person in a motor vehicle. This definition includes pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair users, those driving tractors, and others. Studies have shown that these vulnerable users are far more likely to be injured or killed in a collision with a motor vehicle.
The new law also strengthens Drivers Education programs by requiring courses to include increased instruction on protecting the rights and safety of vulnerable users.
“Teaching students about the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists, walkers, and other vulnerable users is an important part of any Drivers Ed curriculum,” commented Ric Watkins, owner of Belfast Driver Ed and President of the Maine Driver Education Association.
The new law also increases protection for walkers, runners, and wheelchair users attempting to cross the street by requiring that drivers yield to pedestrians who are attempting to cross the street at a marked crosswalk. Before this change, drivers only had to yield when pedestrians at a marked crosswalk stepped out into the road.
Kriss Evans’ father, David Grant, was killed while crossing the street in a marked crosswalk in Brewer this past December. She is grateful for the stronger crosswalk law.
“My family is still grieving the loss of our dad, who did everything right and was still hit and killed by a car while crossing the street right in front of his barber shop. Anything we can do to make people safer when walking across the street is a step in the right direction. I hope this law will prevent more avoidable deaths like my father’s.”
In addition to the added protections for pedestrians and all vulnerable users, the new law also clarifies the responsibilities of bicyclists; namely their duty to obey yield signs, stop signs, one-way streets, and traffic lights.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is the statewide voice of cyclists and pedestrians. Since 1992, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine has led the effort to make Maine better for bicycling and walking by protecting the rights and safety of cyclists and pedestrians through education, advocacy, legislation and encouragement. We support biking and walking for health, transportation and fun. For more information: bikemaine.org.