A Texas legislator who sponsored a “safe passing” bill for cyclists, which passed overwhelmingly in both chambers of the Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry, has a new incentive to push for the law in the next legislative session in 2011.
The granddaughter of Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, and a friend were struck by an SUV as she, three friends and her father were cycling near Kaufman on Tuesday evening, Harper-Brown told the San Antonio Express-News for a story posted on its Web site today.
The granddaughter, Bethany Harper, 16, suffered cuts and bruises and the friend a shoulder separation when the SUV driver turned into them, the legislator said. Their bikes were trashed. The driver said she didn’t see the cyclists, Harper-Brown said.
The “safe passing” bill, Senate Bill 488, emerged this spring from the 81st biennial session of the Legislature. The House passed it unanimously, 142-0, and it cleared the Senate by a vote of 26-5. But Perry vetoed the bill June 19. (See June 8, June 20 and July 13 posts to this blog, “Share the road, y’all,” Parts I through III.)
SB 488 would have made it a misdemeanor for motorists to drive too near to cyclists and other “vulnerable” road users. The key provision said that a driver must vacate the lane that the vulnerable road user is in if the highway has at least two lanes in the same direction; or pass the vulnerable road user at a safe distance, defined as three feet for a car or light truck and six feet for commercial vehicles.
An offender would have faced fines from $500 to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail, depending on the severity of the violation.
“Now I can put a face to it,” Harper-Brown said about efforts to help raise awareness about the dangers facing cyclists and other vulnerable road users. “It really does touch home now.”
Check out the comments at the bottom of the Express-News story to show what she’s up against.