Mark Sanford, Governor of my adopted home state of South Carolina, signed a new bill into law yesterday, clarifying that cyclists have as much right to the state's roads as motorists do.
Motorists will be required to keep a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the cyclist. As I see it, there is no three-foot passing law that other states have enacted, but I guess at least if a motorist hits a cyclist he can’t argue that he was at a safe distance.
There are provisions for fines of up to $1,000 if a cyclist is seriously injured.
It is now a misdemeanor to harass, yell at, honk at, or throw and object in the direction of a cyclist. Punishable by a $250 fine, or 30 days prison, or both.
Cyclists are required to use a bike lane where provided, but may move into the road to avoid a hazard. Cyclists are not required to use a separate multi-use bike path, and can opt to ride on the road.
A cyclist can ride on the shoulder of the road, or the road, but is not required to ride on the shoulder.
Cyclists are not allowed to ride more than two abreast on public roads, which means they can ride in twos if circumstances allow. (This has been the law in SC all along and remains the same.)
A cyclist is no longer required to have a bell on their bike. (Someone should get a no-bell prize for that one :) I guess if it is a misdemeanor to honk at a cyclist, it is only fair that cyclist should not be allowed to ring their bell in anger.
Cyclists should signal a left turn by extending their left arm straight out, and in the case of a right turn, may signal with the right arm straight out. In other words, point in the direction they intend to go.
I am pleased, as this is what I have been doing all along. It seems to make more sense than signaling a right turn with your left arm at a 90 degree angle pointing upwards.
This bill has been kicking around since 2004. Sadly, it was the deaths of two cyclists that spurred it on. The new bicycle safety legislation was signed into law yesterday, Tuesday, June 10th, 2008, the day after Rachel Giblin’s birthday and the day before Tom Hoskins’ birthday. Rachel would have been 17. Tom would have been 50. Both died in vehicle-bike crashes.
South Carolina is unfortunately seventh in the nation when it comes to cycling fatalities, a horrible record. It saddened me when my local paper, the Post & Courier, printed this story on Monday and many hateful comments from readers were posted.
It only goes to show when people can no longer discriminate on the grounds of race, religion, or sexual orientation, they can improvise and still find someone to hate.
I am not a Lance Armstrong wannabe, I was racing bikes before Lance Armsrtong’s parents were born. I just want to ride my bike and come home safely, as we all do. I have a wife and also two daughters who love me, and would miss me.
I don’t expect attitudes to change overnight, however, this is a huge step forward. Every time another state passes laws like these, it makes it a little easier for the remaining states to follow suit.