Tag Archives: Law

Denton council unanimously approves Safe Passing ordinance

safe passing bill

Denton is the eighth Texas city to approve the Vulnerable Road User ordinance, aka Safe Passing, by a unanimous city council vote. Council member Dalton Gregory first brought up the idea in February of 2010, and after discussion this afternoon, the ordinance sailed through council at the evening meeting. The ordinance says cars must give 3 feet minimum passing distance, and commercial vehicles must give 6 feet passing distance. The law also criminalizes harassment of cyclists and right-hook accidents, and it explains that cyclists may ride two abreast as long as they don’t impede reasonable flow of traffic.

Gregory explained that the ordinance was one of many steps the city needs to take to encourage active transportation (biking and walking). He also said he’d like to see some educational signs representing the ordinance to replace the standard “Share the Road” signs seen around town.

During afternoon discussion of the ordinance, district 3 council member Jim Engelbrecht said the city should study cyclist ridership and accident statistics.

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Council to discuss Safe Passing ordinance

safe passing bill

At tomorrow’s afternoon council work session, council members will discuss the terms of a Vulnerable Road User ordinance, aka Safe Passing. If you’re wondering about the name change, it’s because the Vulnerable Road User protects includes pedestrians, runners, physically disabled persons, children, skaters, construction and maintenance workers, stranded motorists, equestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and unprotected farm equipment operators.

Dalton Gregory proposed the ordinance in February 2010 to help encourage safer passing by motorists in the same spirit as the bipartisan bill that Rick Perry vetoed. Several Texas cities have since passed their own similar ordinance.

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Cycling Parents Killed in San Antonio

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(Photo: Tom Reel/San Antonio Express News)

Summary from Erik Ryberg of TusconBikeLawyer:

Folks, that is a photograph of seven year old Kylie Bruehler. She is at a funeral service to bury her parents, both of whom were killed last week when a driver veered onto the shoulder and drove his pickup truck into them.

They were riding together on a tandem.

The local news reports that “investigators say there are no charges on the driver. They believe this was an accident and that somehow the driver lost control of his truck.”

Texas’s governor recently vetoed a law that would mandate a safe passing distance for cyclists, saying it was unnecessary.

This is one of the saddest, most senseless cyclist killings I’ve ever heard of.  If it’s manslaughter when the driver is drunk, then isn’t it manslaughter when the driver is distracted or texting or adjusting the radio?  MYSA News has run a few followup stories, like this one and this one, detailing Texas cyclists’ outrage at the lack of state legal protections.  Remember Denton resident, Nick Magruder, who was hit and run earlier this year, narrowly escaping with his life?  It didn’t make the newspaper headlines or blotter, and it also didn’t make the Traffic Safety Commission agenda.  Like most pressure for positive change, unfortunately it often takes tragedy with fatality to bring attention to where it’s needed the most.

BikePortland just ran a story on this and readers from all over America are commenting.

Rest in peace, Gregory and Alexandra Bruehler.


Photo courtesy of Michelle Mondo and Eva Ruth Moravec of MYSA News.

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Crosswalk Sting

Ever get frustrated that motorists don’t yield when you’re using (and not riding) a crosswalk in Denton?

Check out this crosswalk sting, and contact the Denton PD if you’d like to see something like this here:

Found on EcoVelo

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Gov Rick Perry Vetoes Safe Passing Bill


In a move that shocked cyclists statewide, Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed the Safe Passing bill, which added legal protection for cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, construction workers, etc, by requiring a minimum passing distance by other larger vehicles.

Via KVUE in Austin:

The measure, SB 488, would have required drivers to give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing them on most highways. Other ‘vulnerable road users’ included in the bill were pedestrians, construction workers, tow truck operators, stranded motorists, motorcyclists and moped riders.

In his veto statement, Perry said many restrictions on motorists already exist in state law.

“While I am in favor of measures that make our roads safer for everyone, this bill contradicts much of the current statute and places the liability and responsibility on the operator of a motor vehicle when encountering one of these vulnerable road users,” Perry said in a statement.

“In addition, an operator of a motor vehicle is already subject to penalties when he or she is at fault for causing a collision or operating recklessly, whether it is against a ‘vulnerable user’ or not.”

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arrested for no front light

From the scandalous and useful “Denton Police” Twitter feed, we (JW) found this recent jail booking.

04/22/2009 23:23:36 | 48 years old | BICYCLE/NO WHITE LIGHT ON BICYCLE

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Fresh Victory of Senate Bill 488 – Safe Passing

This is super exciting!!  I’ve been keeping an eye on this bill over the last few months as its support increased.  This bill designates safe passing distances that cyclists and pedestrians are due, and violation of this bill (aka, hitting somebody with a car) can now justify disciplinary action. Huge props to BikeDFW who organized 40 cyclists onto a bus to go down to Austin and support this bill.  This is a landmark Texas achievement in legislation and cycling lobbying.

Straight from the horse’s mouth, Bike Texas (aka Texas Bicycle Coalition) says:

The 2009 Safe Passing Bill, Senate Bill 488 was passed today by the Texas State Senate by a vote of 28-2.

Over the last two weeks, BikeTexas has been working with Senators Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Dan Patrick (R-Houston) and their staff to craft language that would address Senator Patrick’s concerns while still preserving the safety benefits of the bill. This afternoon, Senator Ellis reintroduced the bill and Senator Patrick then offered a floor amendment to substitute the compromise language. Senator Ellis accepted the amendment, and the bill passed with 28 voting yes and 2 voting no.

Click here to see the tentative amended version of the bill (the official version is not yet posted on the Legislature’s website). We have not been able to find out which senators voted no, but when that information is available it will be posted here.

Final coauthors in the Senate were Senators Ellis, John Carona (R-Dallas), Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) and Kirk Watson (D-Austin). As we informed the Cyclists in Suits participants yesterday, Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) did not sign on as a coauthor of SB 488. Due to an unfortunate miscommunication with her staff, we mistook her coauthoring of a different bike-friendly bill (SB 2041, requiring bike questions on the driver’s license exam) for coauthoring the Safe Passing bill. We apologize for any confusion this caused.

Link to original Bike Texas safe passing page.