Sunday, January 24, 2010

Vermont Safe Passing Bill

The introduction of the Safe Passing Bill is a very encouraging step and I hope that everyone will take the time to consider supporting it and take action in any of the ways that Nancy describes below.

For me personally, the passage of this bill would make me feel better about the safety of my nephew when he's riding, and the safety of my friend's kids, too. Nothing will change over night, of course, but over time it can and surely will.


GMBC President

Bill as Introduced

-------------------------------------- Original Message
Subject: [GMBC] Bike/Ped "Safe Passing" Bill is on the table- please support
From: "Viola Chu"
Date: Fri, January 22, 2010 11:47 pm

Below is a detailed email from Nancy at the Bike /Ped Coalition. The VBPC has introduced a Safe Passing Bill and needs as much community support as possible to convince the Transportation Committee to take up the bill. The Safe Passing Bill, if made into law, would require motorists to pass all "vulnerable users," bicyclists, walkers, animals, persons in wheelchairs, etc, with a margin of safety. For a variety of reasons, the VBPC is introducing a Safe Passing Bill, rather than a 3-foot Rule. This bill has the potential to be the law that we all want- one that would require drivers to pass bicyclists safely. PLEASE take the time to read Nancy's email and contact your legislators. All the information that you need is in the email.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Nancy Schulz
Date: Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 11:18 PM
Subject: Please Help Now to Advance Bike/Ped "Safe Passing" Bill

It's a great pleasure to let you know that our bike/ped safety bill (H.540) has been introduced and assigned to the House Transportation Committee. The bill has a number of provisions that offer protections to "vulnerable roadways users" including bicyclists and pedestrians. (The full text of the bill is at the base of this message.) In total, the bill has 17 sponsors, representing the full range of the political spectrum at the Vermont State House. It's been a lengthy process to get to this point and we're now in need of your help to advance this bill into law. The next step in the
process is convincing the chair and the members of the House Transportation Committee that the bill deserves to be discussed. (Hundreds of bills are introduced each year and then die for lack of committee action.) Here are some specifics regarding how you can be most helpful:

1. Please take a couple of minutes to read the bill.

2. Please send an email message to the House Transportation Committee c/o legislative assistant Fran Cerulli ( and request that your comments be sent to all 11 members of that committee. State that you support H.540 and that you would like it to become law. Thank Reps. Burke, Aswad, Courcelle, and Lanpher (all members of the HTC), in particular, for sponsoring the bill. Explain in your own words why this bill is important to you. Keep the message brief and respectful. If you own a business and can state that your business will benefit and that more dollars will flow into Vermont if it becomes more friendly to bicyclists and pedestrians, then your words will get extra attention.

3. Please forward this email message to other supporters of bike/ped issues.

4. Please let your own House representative(s) know that you support this bill. Although your personal rep(s) may not sit on this particular committee, you can urge them to speak to their colleagues on the House Transportation Committee. If you don't know who you reps are, you can find out by making a quick phone call to the Sergeant-at-Arms office (800) 322-5616 or you can go to

5. Please consider writing a brief letter to the editor of your local paper(s) and explain to the readership why this bill is important.

6. If you know someone who is involved in the local Chamber of Commerce and will speak on behalf of this bill, please let me know the name and contact info for this individual. We need to line up folks from the business community who are willing to speak to the committee chair or testify before the committee.

7. If you have access to a State House card room date, please consider sharing it or offering it to the Coalition. We have no card room date this year and can use as much State House exhibit time as possible.

Here are some sample talking points that you can include in your email messages/letters:

Many other states have passed the provisions that this bill contains. Vermont is being surpassed by other states that are working harder to be "bicycle-friendly." Bicycle tourists take their dollars and ride where they are most welcome.

Motorists often come too close to bicyclists and pedestrians while passing.
Motorists often pass at excessive speed. This bill prohibits these behaviors and offers a platform from which to educate motorists about what is appropriate.

Members of the public don't understand that there are a variety of circumstances when a bicyclist needs to move to the left. This bill explains why such movement is necessary and makes it clear that such movement is legal.

Bicyclists and pedestrians are often subject to harassment through having objects thrown at them. This bill prohibits that, making Vermont's roadways safer for "vulnerable roadway users."

This bill requires bicyclists to have reflectors on pedals or to wear reflective ankle straps at night, increasing the bicyclists' visibility and safety.