Delaware just passed an impressive set of laws to support safe cycling.
In the presence of the bill’s main sponsors State Representative Larry Mitchell and State Senator Dave Sokola, Governor John Carney signed the Bicycle Friendly Delaware Act into law on Thursday, October 5, in Newark.
- Bicycle traffic signals defined and enabled as an engineering tool for DelDOT (specifically enables the Delaware Avenue Separated Bikeway in Newark). Most serious bicycle crashes occur at intersections. There is no more important safety countermeasure that Delaware could adopt to reduce serious bicycle crashes than the widespread adoption of bicycle traffic signals.
- Requires motorists to change lanes (including when there is a double yellow line) when passing bicycles when travel lanes are too narrow for side-by-side sharing (making “Three Foot” passing a requirement only in the special case of wide lanes).
- “As close as practicable to the right-hand edge of the roadway” (the dreaded “AFRAP“) also disappears from state code (replaced by “far enough to the right as judged safe by the operator to facilitate the movement of such overtaking vehicles unless the bicycle operator determines that other conditions make it unsafe to do so“) and, again, only as a special case for wide lanes.
- Motorists forbidden to honk horns at cyclists when passing except for imminent danger.
- General clarification of “where to ride” laws, including specifically permitting two-abreast riding within the lane in a narrow lane.
- The “Delaware Yield“: permitting/requiring bicyclists to yield at stop signs (when the coast is clear), instead of requiring a complete stop at all stop signs with no exceptions. A legal exception for safe yielding at stop signs by cyclists is an achievement that has eluded every other state cycling advocacy organization that has tried since Idaho in 1982 (including Oregon in 2003, 2009 and 2011, Minnesota in 2008, Arizona and Utah in 2011, Oklahoma in 2016 and Colorado and Arkansas in 2017, and California in both 2017 and 2018).
One of the keys to the near-unanimous passage of this legislation was the involvement, suggestions and buy-in from the Delaware State Police.