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New: Model Laws for Better Biking

Every year we make recommendations that states improve laws for bicyclists. In 2015, we recommended that 22 states adopt a 3 foot or greater safe passing law and 30 states adopt a vulnerable road user law. In the last decade these types of laws have proliferated, with 15 states adopting new safe passing laws and 8 states adopting vulnerable road user laws since 2008. To help states achieve these recommendations I am happy to announce three new / updated model laws that states and communities can use to craft legislation that supports the safety of bicyclists.

  • An improved and updated Vulnerable Road User law – this model law provides a punishment for motor vehicle drivers who seriously or injure people using roadways who are not protected by a motor vehicle.
  • A new model Safe Passing law – this model law provides language directing motor vehicles to move over a lane where possible or pass bicyclists at no closer than 3 feet. It also enables motor vehicles to cross double-yellow lines in order to safely pass bicyclists.
  • A new model Where to Ride law – this model law provides language empowering a bicyclist to make safe choices regarding lane position and increases public understanding about where bicyclists should ride on the road.

(Photo by Brian Palmer)

The model laws are based upon current state of practice language from leading states based upon consultation with the League’s Legal Affairs Committee.  Each model law is supported by a package of materials that help states and communities understand the purpose of the law and how to make it their own, including:

  • The text of the model law,
  • An explanation of each section of the model law and what each section is intended to achieve,
  • An explanation of how to use the model law and shape it to fit the laws and goals of your state or community,
  • Talking points about the value of each model law,
  • Articles with current research showing the effectiveness or need for the model law, and
  • Frequently Asked Questions about aspects of each model law and similar laws.

If you are considering updating the laws of your state or community here are some steps to take:

  • Determine the issues that are important to your community.
  • Research bicycle-related laws that might positively change the safety or experience of bicyclists in your community. The state laws available for each state and our Bike Law University articles can be a good starting point.
  • If appropriate, use our model laws for guidance on new language or laws of other states found in your research. Write your proposed language and why it addresses the issues faced by bicyclists in your community.
  • Talk to people who can enact laws in your community or state, law enforcement officials who will work with the laws you suggest and other potential stakeholders in order to refine the language that you propose and ensure that it addresses the issues important to your community.
  • Find a legislative champion who can introduce your proposed law and guide it to enactment.
  • Support your legislative champion with materials and engagement from other citizens that say why your proposed law is needed. Continue to work with others to refine the language if needed. Use advocacy tools, such as our Action Center, and show up to meetings where your proposed law is discussed to show public support for the proposed law.
  • Celebrate the progress of your law.

It is my hope that these model laws are useful to advocates, public officials, and individuals interested in creating better legal protections for bicyclists. Please let me know if you have questions or if we can provide additional materials to help you achieve better bicycle-related laws. Contact me at [email protected].

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