Cyclist Safety Bill Rolls through the House

Mike Seals - March 11, 2021 11:41 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill aimed at improving road safety for motorists and bicyclists rolled out of the House today with a vote of 76-13.

House Bill 1770 by Rep. Mike Dobrinski, R-Okeene, is geared toward making Oklahoma’s streets and highways safer for all. It is a request from the Indian Nations Council of Governments and various bicyclist enthusiast groups.

“This bill will improve safety for our bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians who are sharing our roadways, and clarify responsibilities for each,” Dobrinski said.

He also pointed to the upcoming anniversary of Historic Route 66 as motivation to pass the legislation this year.

“These changes will make Oklahoma a prime destination for events and celebrations such as this, and will attract greater participation by groups such as bicycling organizations and enthusiasts,” Dobrinski said.

HB 1770:

  • Allows people on bicycles to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs;
  • Updates hand signals so that a person on a buke can lawfully use a right hand to signal;
  • Bars a motorized vehicle operator from honking at a person on a bicycle, or an equine or animal-drawn vehicle when there is no imminent danger.

Dobrinski allowed title to be struck on the bill as he continues to work with the Department of Public Safety and cycling groups on language regarding reckless driving.

He said he’s heard many horror stories from cyclists about traumatic experiences. This bill is an attempt to provide some protection for bicyclists against motorists that may have harmless intentions but whose actions resulted in accidents or, sadly, even deaths.

When questioned about balancing the liability and responsibility of motorists versus bicyclists, Dobrinski said the language in this bill does nothing to change the liability or the responsibility of the bicyclist while riding on roadways, but it does allow for bicyclists to move through traffic in a better manner.

“They cannot enter into a traffic pattern when there is a hazard, but the language will allow a bicyclist to move through intersections or to get started from intersections – like on a red light – that does not acknowledge them. This will better protect the bicyclist and be less of an impediment to motorists.”

Dobrinski said Delaware implemented these changes in 2017 and shows a decrease in the number of vehicle/bicycle crashes since that time.

The spokesman for the measure in the state Senate is Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore.

 

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