Ohio legislation aims to boost bike friendliness

It’s springtime, and that means bicyclists and pedestrians in Ohio are out enjoying the warm weather. To ensure that a healthy pastime or a two-wheeled commute to or from work doesn’t lead to an accident, cyclists and drivers must keep an eye out for each other and follow the rules of the road.

A bill being considered by Ohio legislators would make two important changes in the state’s traffic laws, specifically as they relate to bicycles. House Bill 154 would establish a statewide requirement that all cars and trucks keep at least three feet away when passing a bicycle. The bill would also change the law to allow all vehicles, bicycles included, to pass through an intersection if the traffic light is malfunctioning and doesn’t detect the stopped bike or motor vehicle.

Bicycle safety advocates say the changes would improve Ohio’s bicycle-friendliness ranking among other states. For two years in a row, Ohio has ranked 16th, according to the results of the Bicycle Friendly State questionnaire. The Buckeye state’s ranking is particularly remarkable, given that Ohio ranked 32nd in bicycle friendliness in 2013.

States were ranked based on these criteria:

  • Infrastructure and funding
  • Legislation and enforcement
  • Policies and programs
  • Evaluation and planning
  • Education and encouragement

The manager of the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program said that a coalition is being put together to develop an educational campaign statewide to raise bicycle safety awareness among all road users, including police officers.

One key aspect of bicycle safety in cities is the creation of protected bike lanes. Cincinnati already has these, and Columbus and Cleveland are planning to create lanes for bicycles.

A recent article in the Cincinnati Business Courier has more on these efforts.

For more on what to do after a bicycle accident in Ohio, please see Chester Law Group’s bike accident overview.