After gaining support, a proposed single file bicycle riding bill that sparked a strong debate among Patch readers about safety on the roads will be the center of discussion at a public hearing next week.
When Sen. Kevin Witkos (R-8th District) first proposed Senate Bill 103, its aim was to make the roads safer for both cyclists and motorists by amending an existing state law that allows two bicyclists to ride side by side on a roadway to require them to ride single file.
In the weeks following the bill's proposal, Patch readers on both sides of the debate engaged in a mostly constructive dialogue with over 200 comments posted about the issue of safety on the roads. Witkos said he also received many comments from his constituents via email regarding his bill that helped him revise the bill to reflect a compromise that he hopes both sides will agree on.
"I want to thank the public for your outreach and aiding me in the proposed substitute language," Witkos said in an email to Simsbury Patch.
The original Senate Bill 103 reads as follows:
An act requiring bicyclists to ride single file on a public road.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
That section 14-286b of the general statutes be amended to require persons riding bicycles on a roadway to ride single file, rather than two abreast as currently allowed, in order to permit motorists to safely pass and yield three feet to the bicyclists as required by law.
The amended bill reads as follows:
CGS Sec. 14-286b. (b) Persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a roadway shall ride, skate, or glide single file when being overtaken by a vehicle. Persons riding two abreast, as provided in this subsection, shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane. The operator of a vehicle must provide a safe distance of not less than three feet when overtaking and passing a person riding a bicycle.
Witkos' main goal in proposing the bill was to clarify the existing state law which states that cyclists can ride two abreast as long as they do not 'impede' traffic and he requested an interpretation from the State's Attorney's office about how 'impede' should be interpretated. The office responded by saying the interpretation of 'impede' would depend on the State's Attorney handling the case.
"My hope is that the substitute language that I provided to the chairs of the transportation committee will allow everyone who uses the public roads to do so in a safe manner without ambiguity of the law in what 'impeding traffic' means," Witkos said.
"The substitute language still provides for cyclists, skateboarder, in line skaters to operate two abreast on a public highway dropping to single file when being overtaken by a vehicle which must still yield a three foot safe passage," Witkos said.
The public hearing for SB 103 will be held on Wednesday Feb. 13, at 10:30 a.m. in Room 2C of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.