Sen. Webb’s bicycle bill clears Senate committee

Senator Robin Webb, D-Grayson, testifies on her bicycle safety legislation (Senate Bill 56) today before the Senate Transportation Committee.

FRANKFORT – A bill that would make roadways safer for bicyclists and vehicular traffic, sponsored by Senator Robin Webb, D-Grayson, today cleared the Senate Transportation Committee.

“Bicycle use is on the rise for transportation, recreation, and health and fitness therefore accommodation in sharing the road safely is becoming more of a transportation priority,” said Webb. “From a tourism and economic development standpoint — and as part of the Trail Town initiative — the rise in the number of cyclists demands that we address safety on the roadways.”

Senate Bill 56 would require vehicular drivers to allow a distance of three feet when passing a cyclist on the left. It also allows vehicular drivers to cross the double yellow line when passing to ensure the three feet. It would require operators of bicycles to travel on the right side of the highway and not have to travel on the shoulder of the highway.

Webb filed similar legislation during the 2016 Legislative Session. Senate Bill 80 cleared the Senate, but did not get a vote in the House of Representatives. The legislation had the support of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Kentucky Bicycle and Bikeway Commission. In August, the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation held a meeting to hear testimony from Senator Webb, tourism officials, cyclists and others.

Webb explained that this legislation is a matter of safety for both cyclists and vehicular drivers.

“Basically, this is a clarification of what people should already be doing,” Webb said when she testified before the transportation committee. “It is what we learned from our driver’s manual.”

This measure simply codifies safe roadway behavior that drivers of vehicles and bicycles should already be practicing, she added, calling it “good public policy.”

“Bicycles are a growing mode of transportation both in urban areas and rural areas,” explained Webb. “The Department of Transportation is doing a good job with some governments about accommodating cyclists in a safe manner, but we have still had a few tragedies related to cyclists and sharing the road.”

Cycling is not just an urban issue any more. Rural areas also have a lot of bicycle traffic. She said her home is between two Kentucky Trail Towns, Olive Hill and Morehead.

“In my neck of the woods, bicycle clubs are a growing source of tourism,” Webb explained, noting that those riding for recreation, for wellness or as a means of transportation all deserve protection.

Joining Webb at the Senate Transportation Committee meeting were Dr. Dixie Moore, bicycle advocate; Zachary Cassidy, son of Dr. David Cassidy who died as a result of a cycle-vehicle accident, and Troy Hearn, the bicycle pedestrian coordinator for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC).

SB 56 now moves to the Senate floor for further consideration.

Webb represents the 18th senatorial district that includes Boyd, Carter and Greenup counties.