Today, city councilman Dalton Gregory published a Safe Passing article in the Denton Record Chronicle.
The Safe Passage Ordinance establishes a clear standard for a safe passing distance of 3 feet (or 6 feet for commercial vehicles) that applies only when road conditions allow. Texas already requires motorist to pass at a safe distance. This ordinance simply defines that distance.
The ordinance is written to protect “vulnerable road users” meaning a pedestrian, runner, physically disabled person, child, skater, construction and maintenance worker, tow truck operator, stranded motorist, equestrian, and person operating a bicycle, motorcycle or unprotected farm equipment.
In addition to general explanation of such an ordinance, he covers Safe Routes to Schools and crash reduction statistics.
A 2001 study shows that 25 percent of all trips in U.S. metropolitan areas were a mile or shorter.Forty percent were shorter than two miles.Two thirds of children who live within a mile of school travel there by car.
Texas reimburses school bus routes only for students living more than two miles from their school. Limited funds are available to pay for buses that keep children living closer than two miles off of dangerous routes.
A comprehensive plan for pedestrians and bikes can reduce the number of dangerous routes and position us to apply for federal funding for Safe Routes to Schools to help pay for new bike lanes and sidewalks.
In a study spanning 23 years looking at 15 streets with bike lanes and 15 similar control sites without bike lanes, results showed a 25 percent reduction in total crashes per mile and a 19 percent reduction in crash rates. Designated bike lanes on roads calm traffic and make roads safer for all users.
Fewer auto trips result in less road congestion, reduced auto emissions and cause less wear and tear on roadways.Biking and walking are the most affordable way to get from place to place.“Active transportation” alternatives result in more active lifestyles and healthier people.
Finally, Dalton brings in the historic Denton context and ties it to the push towards a master bike plan:
Dating back to at least 1995, Denton resident surveys and city planning documents have called for policies and facilities that accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians.
Maybe the Safe Passage Ordinance can help continue the dialogue and be part of a comprehensive plan that includes a master plan for bike lanes and trails, safe routes to schools, safety education, and better facilities for bikes and pedestrians.