Council Set to Pass Safe Passing Ordinance

The video above was posted to the Dallas Morning News city hall blog, and shows the head cam and audio of a bicyclist riding and describing how to ride in the new shared bicycle lanes in downtown.

Furthermore, Dallas is set to pass its first ever safe passing ordinance at tomorrow’s city council meeting.  It means that motor vehicles must “vacate the lane occupied by a vulnerable road user when passing, and reenter the lane occupied by the vulnerable road user only after passing at a safe distance”

Here’s the addendum’s full text:

The proposed ordinance would require the operator of a motor vehicle to: (1) vacate the lane occupied by a vulnerable road user when passing, and reenter the lane occupied by the vulnerable road user only after passing at a safe distance; (2) not turn right in front of a vulnerable road user unless safely clear of the vulnerable road user; and (3) not throw items at a vulnerable road user. A vulnerable road user includes operators of bicycles, hand cycles, unicycles, and other human-powered wheeled vehicles on a street or highway. A motor vehicle operator violating the ordinance may be subject to a fine not to exceed $500. The motor vehicle operator is provided a defense if the vulnerable road user was not complying with laws governing the operation of bicycles on streets and highways. A defense is also provided if the motor vehicle operator cannot change lanes because of a physical barrier or obstruction or because the change of lanes would be unlawful, and then passes the vulnerable road user at a safe
speed and distance.

Simply put, this provides the defense if ever someone is hit in the city of Dallas by a motor vehicle that doesn’t fully vacate a lane when passing a bicycle or other human-powered wheeled vehicle.  Of course, if you’re hit, a $500 fine  isn’t much when you’re in the hospital paying thousands of dollars recovering or even worse.

Now that we’ll have this ordinance, it’s up to us bicyclists to be informed and educated on how to ride appropriately with motor vehicles using the new infrastructure and on streets without infrastructure.

We recommend the following organization’s on-street bicycle workshops:

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  1. This is the first reasonable attempt at safe passing rule making that I have ever seen. Fully changing lanes is the safest way for cars to pass cyclists, and if followed will boost the confidence of cyclists and coax them away from the gutter, just like the sharrows and striped lanes through intersections will. I would like to see language stating that a car in the next lane of same direction travel is not considered ‘obstruction’ to moving over, but rather that a car should slow, wait and pass with care in the next available lane. This is a great start. Waaay better than the 3-foot rule!

    Now all we need is a commitment from the DPD to enforce this rule and others that govern cycling like not running stop lights and stop signs, wrong way riding etc.

  2. I agree, “change lanes to pass” is way better than “three feet”! I’m surprised though that they didn’t include an exception for lanes 14 feet and greater.

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