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Witkos Gains State's Attorney's Support for Amended Single File Riding Bill

Amended bill hones in on when cyclists riding two abreast should yield to motor vehicles

On the heels of a proposed single file bicycle riding bill that stirred up a public debate over safety on the roads, an amended bill has gained support from the Connecticut State's Attorney's office.

At the start of the legislative session this year, state Sen. Kevin Witkos (R-8th District) proposed a seemingly simple bill that quickly sparked a local debate over whether cyclists should have the legal right to ride two abreast on roadways.

The original Senate Bill 103 proposed an amendment to section 14-286b of the state general statutes "to require persons riding bicycles on a roadway to ride single file, rather than two abreast as currently allowed, in order to permit motorists to safely pass and yield three feet to the bicyclists as required by law."

When Simsbury Patch first published an article about the proposed bill it generated over 180 reader comments both in favor and in opposition to its contents.

Witkos said he has received many suggestions about how to approach the safety issue with two abreast riding since he proposed the bill.

In a later article, Witkos told Patch that the dialogue surrounding the bill was what he hoped for and planned to continue to pursue a reasonable solution that would promote a safer situation for both motorists and cyclists. Witkos also told Patch that he requested clarification from the State Attorney's office on the existing law which states that cyclists can ride two abreast as long as they do not 'impede' traffic.

"I was told that it depended on who the State's Attorney was that handled the case as to how the law would be interpreted," Witkos said in a recent e-mail. "Basically, not very clear. This was my concern."

In order to address the lack of clarity within the existing state law, Witkos requested support from the State Attorney's office for an amended senate bill.

The wording of the amended S.B. 103 is as follows, according to Witkos:

"Persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a roadway shall ride, skate, or glide single file when being overtaken by a vehicle."

The proposed amendment is modeled after a New York State statute that addresses the same issue.

"I was informed that they would definitely support the change and would in fact come and testify in support of the bill," Witkos said.

More on this topic:

Kevin January 26, 2013 at 12:00 AM
I really like how Senator Witkos handled this. The amendment appears to clarify an existing law that seemed to require riding single file in traffic. Assuming this bill makes it, the law will be stronger and clearer and, more importantly, us in the cycling community have been made aware of a serious issue in our relationship with the drivers of automobiles whom we must share the road with - neither cyclist or driver is more entitled to use the road. Well done Senator. Best of luck wrapping the bill up and then educating everyone on the issue!
Chris January 26, 2013 at 12:30 AM
14-286(b) "(b) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast, as provided in this subsection, shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane." So how is this bill different? Seems like cyclists are already required to ride with in a single lane when traffic conditions require it...
Tom Keegan January 26, 2013 at 12:50 AM
It's still not clear. Roads that have shoulders (like 189/187 on Windsor Bloomfield line): am I being overtaken when I'm on the shoulder? This will still be dependent on the attorney general. Still un-enforceable: can't hand out ticket based on a motorist's complaint -if they could, cyclists would be able to complain about 3 foot clearance violations
charles beristain January 26, 2013 at 02:14 PM
This latest iteration still does not solve any problems, and instead, creates at least one new problem. There are plenty of roads which are wide enough for two abreast cyclists to ride on the shoulder to the right of the white line where a motor vehicle can pass without crossing the middle stripe. With this bill, those cyclists would be in violation of the law. Another situation arises frequently ... 2 abreast cyclists and a motor vehicle approaches at a very fast speed (not unusual) and has open road. The motor vehicle will cross the center line and zoom by before we have a chance to get into single file. We would be in violation of this proposed law in that situation. The 2 abreast cycling law currently in force does an adequate job of balancing the needs of both the motor vehicle and the cyclists and should not be changed.
RQ January 28, 2013 at 02:19 AM
The language of this new law does nothing to add anything to the current law that already requires cyclists to ride single file if they are in a situation that would impede a reasonable flow of traffic. How much time would cyclists have to form a single file line when a car approaches from behind under this new law? Isn't there better things our state government can be working on than making laws that do nothing but make things more confusing? Witkos says this is about safety, but it seems to me that this law could give aggressive drivers license to harass and endanger cyclists who "get in their way".
charles beristain February 07, 2013 at 07:44 PM
SB103- public testimony on Feb 13th - riding two abreast. Public hearing next wednesday!!!! once again, need to rally the forces to protect cyclists right to share the road. http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=SB103&which_year=2013&SUBMIT1.x=0&SUBMIT1.y=0 charlie

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