New Ohio law sets distance between motorists and bicyclists

By Frank Lewis

Connex bicyclists enjoy the bike trail provided by Access Scioto County.

There may be no more vulnerable feeling than riding a bicycle in a confused traffic pattern. A new Ohio law, known as House Bill 154 may be the break cyclists have needed. If not, it at least gives teeth to laws that already protect them.

HB 154 amends sections 4511.132 and section 4511.27 of the Ohio Revised Code to provide that when a motor vehicle passes a bicycle the safe passing distance to the left is three feet or greater, and to alter the protocol for proceeding into an intersection that has malfunctioning traffic lights.

In southern Ohio one of the people most involved in bicycling is Wendi Waugh, administrative director of SOMC Cancer Services and Community Health & Wellness.

“HB 154 recognizes cyclists are on the road and introduces provisions to protect the safety of those cyclists. The law is evidence of the continued growth of cycling in the U.S.,” Waugh told the Daily Times. “It is clear that states recognize the value of cycling from both economic and health advantages and are taking measures to assure the growth of cycling will continue. Portsmouth Connex will continue to help our local community learn more about laws like HB 154. Safe riding habits for cyclists and safe driving habits for motorists cannot be overemphasized.”

For a number of years, officials with Portsmouth Connex have been exploring the idea of establishing dedicated activity routes (bicycle, running, and walking) in Scioto County. Connex has already installed bike racks throughout the city of Portsmouth to encourage people to ride their bikes. Recently, and they have formed a partnership with Scioto County to establish the first designated bike route in Scioto County.

Waugh said the route is from the bridge on Mackletree Road Bridge in Shawnee State Forest to the Otway Covered Bridge which is about 40 miles round trip.

“Cycling is here to stay,” Waugh said

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.