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Proposed Legislation Would Require Cyclists in Connecticut to Ride Single File

The proposal is currently pending before the legislature's Transportation Committee.

A Senate Republican has proposed a bill that would limit bicyclists from riding side by side on Connecticut roadways.

Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, has proposed Senate Bill 103, in an effort to make roads safer for both cyclists and motorists. The measure would amend an existing  law that allows two bicyclists to ride abreast on a roadway. Witkos' change would require them to ride single file.

In the weeks following the bill's filing, Patch readers on both sides of the debate engaged in a mostly constructive dialogue with over 200 comments posted about the issue of safety on the roads.

Witkos said he also received many comments from his constituents via email regarding his bill. As a result, he revised the original proposal to make the legislation more specific.

"I want to thank the public for your outreach and aiding me in the proposed substitute language," Witkos said in an email to Simsbury Patch.

The original Senate Bill 103 reads as follows:

An act requiring bicyclists to ride single file on a public road.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

That section 14-286b of the general statutes be amended 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.

The amended bill reads as follows:

CGS Sec. 14-286b. (b) 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. 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. The operator of a vehicle must provide a safe distance of not less than three feet when overtaking and passing a person riding a bicycle.

Witkos' has said his main goal in proposing the bill was to clarify the existing state law which states that cyclists can ride two abreast as long as they do not 'impede' traffic and he requested an interpretation from the state's attorney's office about how 'impede' should be interpretated. The office responded by saying the interpretation of 'impede' would depend on the state's attorney handling the case.

"My hope is that the substitute language that I provided to the chairs of the transportation committee will allow everyone who uses the public roads to do so in a safe manner without ambiguity of the law in what 'impeding traffic' means," Witkos said.

"The substitute language still provides for cyclists, skateboarder, in line skaters to operate two abreast on a public highway dropping to single file when being overtaken by a vehicle which must still yield a three foot safe passage," Witkos said.

The transportation committee held a public hearing on the bill this week and now can either revise it additionally or send it along to the legislature for a vote.

Owen Carbrey February 15, 2013 at 12:14 PM
Bill, Please read the following: Helmets can prevent head injuries, the primary cause of death and disabling injuries resulting from cycling accidents. They also increase rider visibility. Today there are lots of colors and styles to choose from. In Connecticut, State law requires anyone under the age of sixteen to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. It's not JUST the law, it's a good idea for EVERYONE to wear a helmet on every ride -- no matter how short. Your helmet should fit correctly and meet safety standards set by the Snell Memorial Foundation or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Enough said about knowing the law!
Richard Poulton February 15, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Not saying the helmet law isn't good and can possible prevent head injuries to a child, but have you any data as to it (the law) being enforced? Have you looked around the inner cities where youths ride around traffic, in total disregard for traffic law never mind not wearing a helmet? They could care less. Any suggestions on that? And don't give me the answer that the PO's should be doing their job by stopping them, as if they had the time.
Bill Fasula February 15, 2013 at 01:02 PM
Very cute Owen, the cyclists in question are not children.
Tim M February 15, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Get a grip bill. Cyclists in new haven and hamden think they own the road riding four and five abreast with no consideration for others safety or time
Richard Poulton February 16, 2013 at 01:14 PM
I'm Sorry Bill, but you should read up on CT laws in such matters. A little FYI, Public Act 97-46 called for a change in CGS 14-286d which requires all those under the age of 16 to wear head protection while riding a bike, not a motor cycle mind you, a bike.

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