Witkos Gains State’s Attorney’s Support for Amended Single File Riding Bill [Canton Patch]

January 28, 2013

Article as it appeared on the Canton Patch website on January 25, 2013

Amended bill hones in on when cyclists riding two abreast should yield to motor vehicles

By Jeff Brush

On the heels of a proposed single file bicycle riding bill that stirred up a public debate over safety on the roads, an amended bill has gained support from the Connecticut State’s Attorney’s office.

At the start of the legislative session this year, state Sen. Kevin Witkos (R-8th District) proposed a seemingly simple bill that quickly sparked a local debate over whether cyclists should have the legal right to ride two abreast on roadways.

The original Senate Bill 103 proposed an amendment to section 14-286b of the state general statutes “to require persons riding bicycles on a roadway to ride single file, rather than two abreast as currently allowed, in order to permit motorists to safely pass and yield three feet to the bicyclists as required by law.”

When Simsbury Patch first published an article about the proposed bill it generated over 180 reader comments both in favor and in opposition to its contents.

Witkos said he has received many suggestions about how to approach the safety issue with two abreast riding since he proposed the bill.

In a later article, Witkos told Patch that the dialogue surrounding the bill was what he hoped for and planned to continue to pursue a reasonable solution that would promote a safer situation for both motorists and cyclists. Witkos also told Patch that he requested clarification from the State Attorney’s office on the existing law which states that cyclists can ride two abreast as long as they do not ‘impede’ traffic.

“I was told that it depended on who the State’s Attorney was that handled the case as to how the law would be interpreted,” Witkos said in a recent e-mail. “Basically, not very clear. This was my concern.”

In order to address the lack of clarity within the existing state law, Witkos requested support from the State Attorney’s office for an amended senate bill.

The wording of the amended S.B. 103 is as follows, according to Witkos:

“Persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a roadway shall ride, skate, or glide single file when being overtaken by a vehicle.”

The proposed amendment is modeled after a New York State statute that addresses the same issue.

“I was informed that they would definitely support the change and would in fact come and testify in support of the bill,” Witkos said.