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Council approves safe passing ordinance

From the press release:

Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Council Members today unanimously approved an ordinance to protect Houston’s cyclists and other vulnerable road users by requiring cars and other motor vehicles to keep a separation of more than three feet while passing, and trucks or commercial vehicles to keep a separation of more than six feet. The ordinance is effective immediately.

Vulnerable road users are defined as a walkers or runners; the physically disabled, such as someone in a wheelchair; a stranded motorist or passengers; highway construction, utility or maintenance workers; tow truck operators; cyclists; moped, motor-driven cycle and scooter drivers; or horseback riders.

“As a city, we need to protect everyone and anyone who uses our roads,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “This ordinance will make our city even more attractive to those who want to enjoy traveling in forms other than by car.”

In addition to requiring safe passing and trailing distances from vulnerable road users, this ordinance prohibits any motor vehicle occupant from throwing or projecting any object or substance at or against them.

“BikeHouston is pleased to see this ordinance pass and proud of the Mayor’s continued efforts on helping Houston become a more bicycle-friendly city,” says Kathryn Baumeister, Chair of BikeHouston. “Houston is a city of cars, but also has a big population of people who rely on cycling for transportation and recreation. We feel it is important for cyclists and drivers of automobiles to respect one another on the road. This ordinance will help provide a measure of safety for the vulnerable road users.”

In addition to BikeHouston, several state and local leaders and groups advocated and/or voiced support for this ordinance, including: Senator Rodney Ellis, BikeTexas, AARP, Better Houston, Bikin’ Babes, Citizen Transportation Coalition, Houston Access to Urban Sustainability Project, Houston Tomorrow, Northwest Cycling Club and Richmond Rail.

Similar ordinances have already been enacted by Austin, Fort Worth and San Antonio.

See here and here for the background. A similar ordinance was also passed by the Texas Legislature in 2009, but Rick Perry vetoed it, thus leaving it up to municipalities to take their own action. Via Houston Tomorrow, another version of this bill, HB 2225, has passed out of committee in the House and is on the calendar for today, which is the last day for House bills to be passed to the Senate. I’m not sure why Perry would be less likely to veto this bill than the prior one, but you never know. Regardless, kudos to the Mayor and Council for getting this done. Texas Leftist has more.

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