this in from MassBike:
Governor Patrick Signs Bicyclist Safety Bill
Yes, it’s true: the Bicyclist Safety Bill is law after 8 years and 4 legislative sessions — perseverance and grassroots support paid off in the end! MassBike played a central role throughout the history of the bill, from drafting the language, to lobbying for its passage, to the successful 2006 effort that ended in a veto, and now to a law! MassBike thanks our many supporters in the House and Senate for their persistence, and thanks Governor Patrick for recognizing that this law will help make Massachusetts a healthier, greener, more sustainable state.
This is a great victory for cyclists, and it was a true team effort, ranging from MassBike to legislators to you, our members and supporters. Without all your calls, emails, and letters to legislators and governors over the years, this could not have happened. You let the politicians know that bicyclist safety is an important issue, and they heard the message! So thanks to all of you.
Governor Patrick signed the bill into law yesterday. Coming on the heels of a year that saw gas prices soar to over $4 a gallon, huge increases in ridership on public transportation, and a surge in interest in bicycle commuting, the law will help more people, particularly new and less experienced bicyclists, take advantage of bicycling as an affordable transportation option.
Among the many changes the new law makes, it adds police training on bicycle law and dangerous behavior by bicyclists and motorists; explains how a motorist should safely pass a bicycle; explains how a motorist should safely make a turn in front of a bicycle; makes “dooring” (opening a car door into the path of a bicycle or other vehicle) subject to ticket and fine; permits bicyclists to ride two abreast when it does not impede cars from passing; and adds legal protections for bicyclists who choose to ride to the right of other traffic. Click here for the full text of the new law. We will post guidance on exactly what the new law means on the MassBike website (www.massbike.org) as soon as possible.
This great day would not have happened without the help and support of our friends in the Legislature, many of whom threw their support behind efforts to get the bill signed. Representative William Brownsberger, who assumed a leading role in moving the bill forward immediately upon taking office two years ago, kept the pressure on in the final months, weeks, days, and, yes, even hours, leading up to the signing. Representative Kay Khan, the House sponsor of the bill, who was instrumental in garnering the support of dozens of like-minded colleagues in the House and Senate – including Representative Robert DeLeo, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and Representative Frank Smizik, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture – to urge the Governor to sign the bill.
The Bicyclist Safety Bill was originally introduced in 2001 by now-retired Representative Anne Paulsen, who worked closely with MassBike to draft a bill designed to modernize Massachusetts’ bicycle laws and improve bicyclist safety. Paulsen championed the bill until her retirement in December 2006, when the bill passed the House and Senate only to be vetoed by the outgoing Romney administration. (Anne then joined MassBike’s Board of Directors where she has continued her efforts on our behalf.) Following Representative Paulsen’s retirement, Senator Pamela Resor (who herself just retired) took up leadership on the bill, filing the version that was ultimately signed into law by the Governor.
Now that the bill is law, our work really begins. We will start getting the word our to bicyclists, motorists, and the police, so that we can begin to see the improvements that the new law makes possible. And this is not the end of the road for bicycle legislation: the law and the needs of bicyclists continue to evolve, and MassBike will continue working to ensure those needs are met.