New bicycle safety laws pass Boise City Council 6-0

New bicycle safety laws pass Boise City Council 6-0
BOISE - A nearly five hour Boise City Council meeting Tuesday evening ended with several new laws in place to protect cyclists and pedestrians. The changes contain three sections penalizing both reckless drivers and cyclists and nearly everyone at the city council meeting attended in support.

Drivers will now be expected to yield to cyclists at intersections, leave at least three feet of distance between bikes and cannot cut bicycles off when turning. Cyclists are now legally required to give a warning before passing someone on the sidewalk, dismount in crowded pedestrian areas and cannot ride recklessly swerving on and off of sidewalks.

"Motorists and bicycles have to share the road," said Michael Zuzel, member of a special city task force on cycling safety. "They have to share the responsibility for making the roads safe. That's why some of these ordinances would penalize motorists for their behavior and some would penalize cyclists for their behavior."

A third part to the change applies to drivers and pedestrians. It states that harassment and intimidation of cyclists is prohibited as well as throwing objects at bikes and attempting to disrupt their path.

Any violation of the new ordinances will be misdemeanor offenses and carry a maximum penalty of six months jail and a $1000 fine.

The City of Boise Cycling Safety Task Force recommended the new ordinances in a final report issued in October. The task force was formed after the several bike versus car collisions during last summer killed three cyclists.

"I wasn't afraid to ride before that happened," said John Warnell, a bicycle safety advocate. "But three of those deaths in a row made it crystal clear to a lot of people what a dangerous place just being on the road is on a bicycle."

Warnell started Save a Live...Look! Only days after one of his good friends and cycling partners, Kevin Pavlis, was killed by a car on Hill road, in June last year. Warnell told 2News he hopes these new ordinances will raise more awareness and help save lives. His website is http://looksavealife.com/.

The new laws must be signed and publicly posted and could go into effect as early as Jan. 25.