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March 19, 2005

Utah: Motorist-Cyclist Comfort Zone Bill proceeds

In Salt Lake City, this January, a story is told, and a bill is fought for:

Every day on Capitol Hill, advocates hold press conferences on this or that issue, but It's not every day they're riding two-wheelers and wearing helmets. Among those here are two men, Richard and Ken Johnson, who never dreamed they'd be here, under these circumstances.

Last fall on a clear, crisp day, a bicyclist was riding up Big Cottonwood Canyon near Solitude ski resort in the outside lane when she was struck from behind by an SUV. The rider: a 25-year-old University of Utah molecular biology graduate student named Josie Johnson, Richard's daughter.

Richard Johnson/Josie Johnson's Father: "SHE WAS HIT DIRECTLY BEHIND. SHE WAS VERY MUCH AT THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, THE CAR WAS MAYBE EVEN OFF THE ROAD WHEN IT HIT HER. AN EXTRAORDINARY SITUATION BECAUSE THE ROAD WHERE SHE WAS HIT WAS THE SAFEST PLACE IN THE WHOLE CANYON, SO IT'S A REAL SAD THING."

A new bill would require motorists to keep three feet away from bicyclists when passing, unless the road is too narrow. On average, each year on Utah's roads 7 bicyclists are killed and 940 are injured, many struck from behind. Those who support the bill, certainly many of the people who ride bikes in Utah, hope it will send a message, one which honors the memory of Josie Johnson.

KSL TV NEWS: Story and Video

The bill progressed forward quickly.

House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee members unanimously approved a bill that would require motorists to follow state guidelines and keep three feet away from bicyclists when passing them on the road.

Rep. Roz McGee, D-Salt Lake City was the sponsor, and she said she did so in order to educate the driving public about the guideline.

The Bill passed the Utah House of Representatives in early February.

Then it passed the Senate.

And soon came this news:

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. signs legislation that requires motorists to stay at least three feet or a safe, reasonable distance away from bicyclists.

HB49 also provides for $20,000 of state money to develope a public safety campaign to spread the word about safe bicycling.

Now that is good news indeed.

March 19, 2005 in Pedaling Advocacy | Permalink

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