Published Somedays

More on the proposed single file law

(updated: May 15, 2010)

Below I present several charts comparing NC to other states. These are all taken from the recent publication, Bicycling and Walking in the United States 2010 Benchmarking Report.

First, I present a graphic that shows how many states allow riding two abreast. The majority of states allows it. NC is one of them. Only five do not have specific legislation. If this proposal passes, NC would be the first state to have specific legislation making it illegal.

NC does not have a 3-ft passing law either. FL added a 3-ft law in the last few years, but remains ranked low in terms of bicycle safety despite significantly more bike lanes compared with NC. In fact, it is ranked 46 out of 50, where NC is ranked 47 out of 50. See the next chart below. It has been suggested by the NCATA that they may try to negotiate for a 3-ft law in exchange for riding two-abreast. Based on FL, this may not be the right trade.

Or put another way:

NC remains a dangerous state in which to ride a bike. In fact, on a three year average there were 13.7 bicycle fatalities per 10K bicyclists.

From the report: "Bicycling and walking make up nearly 10% of all trips, and over 13% of traffic fatalities, and yet receive less than 2% of federal transportation dollars."

NC ranks 33rd in per capita funding to bike/ped, spending just 1.2% of federal transportation dollars to bike/ped. However, NC spends 47% of Transportation Enhancement funding to bike/ped.

There are tons more findings from the report. I urge to you read it. Clearly, NC can and should do a lot more to promote cycling and walking and improve overall safety. However, making it illegal to ride two abreast is a step in the wrong direction.

I've also received some county bicyclist accident statistics from DOT. I've put a link to it below, and also up on my bicycle incident database page.

Various County Pedalcyclist Crashes (2007-2009)


Filed Under: General Entries > North Carolina > Wilmington


1. Michael said...

Glaring stat....the southeastern states claiming the lowest rankings in bicycle safety! You would think that between the climate, terrain, tourism, etc., these states would make a better attempt to promote safe bicycling conditions for their residents and visitors. Crazy thought!

May 19, 2010 @ 8:33 PM

2. Dave said...

Thanks for your comittment to cycling advocacy. This is a great website and although the statistics are disturbing, they really motivate me (and hopefully others) to be active in the effort to improve the safety of our roads for cycling. I have 3 daughters and do not want to be killed on the roads because someone couldn't wait 10seconds to pass me or because they have to answer that text message or phone call. With enough effort, maybe the cycling community can get through to the non-cyclists. It's like having never really know what it's like until you do it. This effort is something I can really get behind!!! Thanks for all of your efforts. What is the saying.."an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".

Happy Riding,

May 20, 2010 @ 7:39 AM

3. Bryan said...

The disparity you point out between percentage of non-motorized trips versus tax expenditure could be taken as an indicator that more money should be spent on the non-motorized side of things... but it can also be viewed as an indicator that cars soak up a disproportionate amount of our municipal budgets.

May 24, 2010 @ 8:24 AM

4. SBA said...

Check out this great letter sent to NC Sen Brunstetter and Rep Brown. I did not even think of the shift of responsibility from the passing vehicle to the vehicle being passed. That's a huge ramification.

sent to Brunstetter and Brown,

Thank you so much for your service to our nation and our state. I am currently in Baghdad, Iraq serving the US Army as a contractor in intelligence gathering. I am also a resident of Kernersville, a driver and cyclist.

I would like to express to you my thoughts regarding HB1686 and how it will affect the people who cycle in our communities if it were to pass and become law.

As I read the Referendum it seems obvious to me that the sponsor wishes to improve traffic movement where automobile and cyclist interact. Unfortunately the way HB1686 reads it would lead to several unsafe and/or unworkable conditions, not add to safety as the title implies.

1. It allows for the responsibility of safe vehicular passing on roadways to no longer be the responsibility of the passing vehicle. This is in contradiction to current requirements placed on the driver of the vehicle which passes, and a contradiction to common sense.

2. It places an unrealistic requirement on the cyclist (the vehicle being passed) to be allowed to ride a certain way until traffic changes far behind them, which the cyclist is then expected to notice and evaluate the automobiles variable speed and lane position as well as likely opportunity to pass. All this would need to occur while the cyclist is also observing the obstacles and potential dangers ahead and to the side of them.

3. The HB1686 takes no consideration for children or under aged bicyclists while on state roads, actually REDUCING safety to those most unprotected.

4. The Referendum changes the status (intended or not) of bicycles on state roadways as to not allow safe usage of the lane of traffic. It places an undue legal/safety burden on the vehicle being passed, expecting that a passed vehicle contributes to the safety of the pass for which it is completely not in control of, but would be held responsible for.

5. The title of HB1686, "AN ACT TO ENSURE THE SAFE OPERATION OF BICYCLES..." is a falsehood because it does nothing to ensure the safe operation of bicycles on a state roadway. In fact the opposite is true and the title should be changed to "AN ACT TO REDUCE RESPONSIBILITY OF AND ENSURE CONVENIENCE TO MOTORISTS"

This Referendum does nothing to add to the safety of our roads, our children and fellow vehicle/motorists who share them. It does not represent a forward thinking North Carolina which wishes to do it's part to reduce dependence on foreign oil producers and reduce emissions which threaten to further pollute our fine state. It does remove responsibility from those who should be shouldering it. Our children and cyclists need as much protection on the road and off as can be given to them. A few seconds of time is a small price to pay for a life and safe roadways.

Thank you sir for your attentive ear regarding HB1686. Thanks again for being my representative and please consider these thoughts as you cast your vote on the Referendum. Please vote against HB1686.

May 25, 2010 @ 5:51 PM


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