Sen. Sandlin has introduced SB 72 concerning bicycle safety. Specifically, it would require that, “when a vehicle passes a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction as the vehicle, the driver of the vehicle must maintain a safe distance of at least three (3) feet between the vehicle and the bicycle during the entire time that the vehicle is passing the bicycle.”
Makes sense to me. I might alter the bit about “during the entire time the vehicle is passing” to reflect that it’s also a bad idea for the motor vehicle to be closer than 3 feet when the motor vehicle is tailing the bike with no intent to pass. To the extent we haven’t been, we probably also need to keep non-motor vehicles when we design our travel infrastructure.
Because this is a short one, I’ll digress by sharing an article I read awhile back about how the invention of jaywalking was associated with a “massive shaming campaign” by the auto industry.
In his 2007 paper, “Street Rivals: Jaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street,” Peter D. Norton describes how ridicule was recognized early on as the best socializing force to control pedestrian behavior—behavior that would have to change with the times.
. . .
As Norton explains, “before the city street could be physically reconstructed to accommodate motor vehicles, it had first to be socially reconstructed as a modern thoroughfare.” And that social reconstruction meant redefining who belonged on the street, by poking fun at those who were seen as unwanted. This ridicule would show up in newspaper editorials, in verbal confrontations between motorists and pedestrians on the street, in American classrooms, and through public shaming by police officers and other authority figures.
The term “jaywalking” apparently comes from the term “jay” being used to refer to a rural idiot or rube. If they were walking in the middle of the street instead of crossing at intersections in order to accommodate the new motor vehicles, that must mean they are hicks from the sticks who are too simple to know how to properly walk in the city.
Viewed through a long historical lens, this attempt to reclaim a place for non-motorized vehicles on our streets is something of a pendulum swinging back somewhat to the days before motor vehicles.