Baker indicators new regulation defending ‘weak’ highway customers



Pedestrians, bicyclists and others now have higher protections below Massachusetts regulation.

A bicycle owner navigates building gear on Commonwealth Avenue. Craig F. Walker/Boston Globe, file

Shortly earlier than his final day in workplace, Governor Charlie Baker signed a brand new regulation geared toward making the roads safer for non-motorized customers.

The invoice, often called No. 5103was signed by Baker on Monday, in line with the state web site. On the coronary heart of the invoice is to outline what makes a ‘weak’ highway person and set out sure protections for them after they journey alongside drivers.

One in all these protections is that drivers at the moment are required to go away a minimum of 4 toes between their autos and weak customers, together with pedestrians, after they cross.

The definition of weak customers contains pedestrians, together with utility repairmen and emergency employees. Folks working bicycles, skateboards, wheelchairs and motorized scooters, amongst different gadgets, are additionally thought-about weak customers. This contains driving horses, driving horse-drawn carriages and driving agricultural equipment comparable to tractors.

Till now, Massachusetts regulation has solely addressed bicyclists on this context, wrote Sen. William Brownsberger. web site. He is without doubt one of the co-authors of the invoice. The present regulation additionally doesn’t embrace a particular minimal passing distance.

The four-foot crossing requirement was not within the authentic model of the invoice. When it hit Baker’s desk in September, the invoice included a sliding mechanism. This dictated that drivers should cross weak highway customers a minimum of three toes when touring at 30 miles per hour or much less, with one further foot for each 10 miles per hour the automobile passes above 30 miles per hour.

Baker as an alternative proposed a three-foot setback requirement, and lawmakers subsequently settled on a four-foot setback requirement. Braunsberger referred to as the change an “enchancment” on its web site.

The invoice additionally requires cyclists to make use of purple tail lights at evening.

Whereas these necessities probably will not be routinely enforced by police, Braunsberger stated the brand new legal guidelines will nonetheless produce optimistic outcomes.

“We agreed that the broader regulatory features of this invoice – protected passing distance and purple lights – are hardly ever, if ever, enforced by the police. However protected crossing will change into a part of normal driver training, and purple lights shall be extra persistently bought by bike retailers. Some optimistic change will consequence,” he wrote in response to a touch upon his web site in September.

This laws requires giant vehicles bought or leased by the state to make use of gadgets designed to guard weak customers. This contains gadgets that make it simpler for drivers to see different individuals on the highway, comparable to backup cameras and supplemental mirrors. It additionally contains facet guards positioned between the entrance and rear wheels to forestall individuals from being run over by giant autos. They might forestall a few of the “most tragic accidents,” Braunsberger writes.

One other notable facet of the invoice is that it creates a framework for municipalities to ask the state to alter velocity limits on state-controlled roads inside their borders.

Braunsberger stated on his web site that the invoice represents the fruits of greater than a decade of labor. Nonetheless, he stated, extra efforts are wanted to enhance visitors security, comparable to enforcement automated velocity restrict enforcement.


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