The prevalence of bicycle-sharing program apps encouraging commuters to abandon their cars and reduce carbon emissions is increasing throughout the country. However, cyclist injuries remain a concern in Southern California, which reports the second-highest accident rate in the nation.
This grim reality leads legislators to propose new safety bills that await consideration in Congress.
What issues do the bills address?
Currently, cyclists and motorists in California must come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights. However, this practice makes cyclists vulnerable to collisions with motor vehicles that do not sufficiently reduce speed. California legislators are resubmitting a bill that allows cyclists to yield at these signals but continue riding if conditions are clear, hoping it will become a law similar to those in other states that measurably reduce accidents.
Also, California’s Environmental Quality Act ensures that road projects potentially impacting the environment require approval from government officials to ensure they do not increase carbon emissions. However, legislators await support for a bill proposing exemptions to build roads encouraging bicycle use and safety if they do not increase automobile traffic.
Finally, proposals include creating bicycle-only roads connecting various destinations allowing cyclists to avoid motorists and pedestrians and neighborhoods with access to vital services within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. However, funding for these projects remains unclear.
How can cyclists drive responsibly?
Although cyclists hope Congress will pass various bills into law, they must take responsibility for their safety by understanding their risks and riding defensively. For example, wearing protective gear, maintaining a safe distance from curbs and parked cars, and passing motor vehicles on the outer side of highways can minimize accidents.
California cyclists have a right to expect laws that protect their safety in a state that hopes to reduce its carbon footprint.