July 21, 2015
State Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey (D-Fairfield) is pleased to announce Public Act 15-41, an Act Concerning Bicycle Safety, took effect July 1. Rep. McCarthy Vahey joined fellow legislators and advocates to champion transportation and safety alternatives which received overwhelming bipartisan support in the legislature.
“As Connecticut looks to upgrade its transportation infrastructure, it is important that we consider all user groups, particularly our pedestrians and cyclists. The new law takes an important step forward in CT’s efforts to protect our commuters and encourage the use of alternative means of transportation. Active transportation such as bicycling and walking will reduce the use of greenhouse gases, promote health, reduce congestion and bring economic benefits to local businesses,” said Rep. McCarthy Vahey.
In addition to testifying and meeting with colleagues and transportation officials in Hartford and locally, Rep. McCarthy Vahey joined fellow bike and pedestrian advocates on a 40-mile bicycle trip from New Haven to Hartford in support of the legislation.
The bicycling infrastructure the new law allows for will help Connecticut develop a transportation network that will retain and attract millennials and businesses alike. Two way bicycle tracks and separated bike lanes are some of the infrastructure now possible in CT.
PA 15-41 requires a bicyclist to ride as far to the right as the bicyclist determines is safe, rather than as far to the right as “is practicable.” The change to plain language makes the law more understandable for users, motorists and law enforcement.
Motorists are now permitted to overtake and pass bicycles and other slow moving pedestrians or vehicles even in marked no passing zones if they can do so safely. PA 15-41 does not change the requirement that a motorist allow a three foot space when passing a bicycle.
Rep. McCarthy Vahey testified before the Fairfield Police Commission in support of two newly designated bike routes in town, as part of the law calls upon state and local officials to work in concert to help implement the new measures. The Department of Transportation (DOT), will include, where appropriate, standards from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Bikeway and Urban Street design guides when updating design standards for roads in the state. It also requires DOT to consider implementing the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officers (AASHTO) minimum standard lane width if it would allow the addition of a bicycle lane that conforms to AASHTO or NACTO standards.
"This new law goes a long way towards making conditions safer for cyclists and for everyone else on the road as well," said Fairfield Bike and Pedestrian Committee Chair Keith Gallinelli. “I was pleased to be able to work with Rep. McCarthy Vahey last session and to see that effort come to quick fruition. I look forward to working with her in the future.”
Cristin McCarthy Vahey represents Fairfield's 133rd Assembly District. She serves on the Appropriations, Education and Transportations Committees.