Bicycle Coalitions Push for Vulnerable Road Users Law
As more people take to the streets on bicycle and on foot, there is a growing support for changes to laws that govern the roads. One of these laws is the "vulnerable road users law" which would increase the penalties for motorists who cause an accident that involves and injures a pedestrian or bicyclist to more than just a ticket. The ultimate goal is to decrease the occurrence of accidents amongst alternative transportation users and increase the awareness of these people on the roads.
According to reports made by sf.streetsblog.org, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition are all working to bring forth this bill at the state level. A similar bill was enacted in 2007 in Oregon that enhanced penalties for injuring or killing a vulnerable road user -- including pedestrians, highway workers, persons riding animals, farm tractor operators, skateboarders, roller skaters, those traveling by scooter, or bicyclists -- without requiring a jury trial.
Chair of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance's legislative committee said the results of Oregon's vulnerable road user law have been "disappointing" and that not one motorist had been charged under the statute. Because the law requires the police officer on the scene to indicate on the ticket that a vulnerable road user was injured in the incident, and no officers have made this indication, it seems that the officers themselves are not educated on the law.
Oregon's law stated that anyone convicted of violating this law could be sentenced to a fine up to $12,500, a year of suspended driving privileges, a court appearance, traffic safety courses and 100 to 200 hours of community service. Certain fines and suspensions could be waived by the court with the completion of other penalties, such as traffic school and community service, promoting education of the road.
Educating the public and law enforcers of the law, along with the increased penalties of the law itself, may prove effective in keeping non-motorists on the road safe and avoiding The California Bicycle Coalition will be deciding on their legislative agenda for the year in coming weeks and will hopefully have support from local organizations so the legal changes can be realized.
James M. Green, PE, DEE, has over 35 years of experience in the area of Forensic Engineering and Accident Reconstruction. A Civil Engineer with a specialty in Traffic Movement and Visibility, Mr. Green's emphasis has been on reconstructing Bicycle, Motorcycle, and Vehicle Accidents. His professional experience is complemented by his experience as a competitive USA Triathlon racer for 25 years, United States Cycling Federation and Regional Bicycle Racer for approximately thirty-five years, and a competitive Bicycle Racer and Rider for 46 years.
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