No one likes the feeling of a car whizzing past them while they are riding their bike. Feeling like you have to dodge traffic while cycling is a scary set back to an otherwise enjoyable activity.
But on October 1st, passing cyclists safely will become easier for drivers. The state law will legally allow motor vehicles to pass bicycles or mopeds in a no-passing zone. But the driver must stay at least four feet away from the cyclist while passing and they cannot pass if the cyclist is making a left turn, according to The Charlotte Observer.
The law also increases the punishment for aggressive drivers if they cause a cyclist to change lanes, leave the road, or crash. The guilty party will have to pay higher fines and they may lose their license for several months.
On December 1st, another law will take effect and require cyclists to have a back light on their bike if they ride at night. If they do not have a back light, the cyclist must wear a reflective vest or any type of clothing visible from 300 feet away.
Nineteen cyclists, on average, die every year in North Carolina and more than 600 are injured.
Steven Goodridge, a board member of BikeWalk NC, states, “The safe way to pass a bicyclist [in a no-passing zone] is to slow down, wait until no traffic is coming for a sufficient clear distance ahead, and move into the next lane to pass. Most motorists do exactly that… oftentimes the center line is solid, but because the bicyclist is traveling so slowly, it’s still sufficiently safe to pass if the clear sight distance is good.”
This new law will make passing cyclists easier for drivers and hopefully, reduce bicyclist casualties.
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