Governing (July 15th, 2015)

Chattanooga, Tenn., Tests Technology That Could Make Roads Safer for Cyclists

Most states have laws to protect bikers from cars, but they’re hard to enforce. One city is testing a new device that makes it easier.

“Last month, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed a bill into law requiring drivers to pass bicyclists at a distance of at least three feet. That makes Alabama the 35th state with a “safe passing” law that specifically mentions bicyclists. As police in Alabama look to implement the new law, they may want to learn from a pilot project underway in Chattanooga, Tenn., where cops use radar and cameras to hold drivers accountable for violations.

Safe passing laws have seen dramatic growth in popularity over the past 20 years. In 1973, Wisconsin became the first state with such a law aimed at protecting bikers. All states have a safe passing law of some kind, but until the early 2000s, only three followed Wisconsin’s example of prescribing a specific distance for passing a bicyclist. Now, more than half do.



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