State lawmakers will be asked to consider a truck side guard law to protect pedestrians and cyclists.
MassBike, the state’s leading bicycle advocacy organization, recently offered an update on proposed safety legislation for 2016. The Joint Committee on Transportation will hold a public hearing on the proposed legislation, including the truck side guard law, on Wednesday at the State House.
Truck Side Guard Bill H. 3019/S. 1810
Nearly half of all bicyclists and more than one-quarter of pedestrians killed in large truck crashes first impact the side of a truck, according to the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. When a truck has high clearance, a cyclist or pedestrian can fall in the space between the front and rear wheels.
The center says sideguards are an effective way to prevent that impact and reduce fatalities and injuries. The United Kingdom has seen results: After implementing its law, cyclist fatalities dropped 61 percent while pedestrian fatalities fell 20 percent. The European Union, Japan, China and Brazil also have truck side guard laws.
In 2014, the City of Boston became the first city in the United States to adopt a truck side guard ordinance, requiring side guards, convex mirrors, cross-over mirrors and blind-spot awareness decals on all city-contracted vehicles over 10,000 pounds. Tractor-trailers have different weight requirements.
The cities of Somerville, Cambridge and Newton were discussing truck ordinances when Boston adopted its measure (and Cambridge did later enter into a partnership to install truck side guards on city-owned vehicles).
But a statewide law would eliminate the need for action by individual cities.
Bike Lane Bill H. 3072/S. 1808
This bill would make parking a vehicle or standing in a bike lane, or other on-road bike facility, a ticketable offense. The fine would be $100.
Vulnerable Users Bill H. 3073/S. 1807
Proposed by MassBike, this bill would require motorists to provide any “vulnerable user” three feet of clearance, even if it means crossing over the center line. Vulnerable road users would include cyclists, pedestrians and others who travel alongside cars. State lawmakers have considered this legislation in the past. According to the League of American Bicyclists, nine other states have vulnerable road user laws and 17 have laws which in some way address vulnerable road users.
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