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Cyclists Ride Safely In Weston, Easton If They Follow State Laws

WESTON, Conn. – There are a bevy of laws that pertain to bicycling in Connecticut, but the question in Easton, Weston and Redding is whether bicyclists, motorists and even police departments are aware of them.

“Some know but a lot don’t,” said Ray Rauth, the chairperson of the Weston Bicycle Pedestrian Committee . “Many bicyclists and motorists are not aware of the laws. If a bicyclist disobeys a law it’s serious and if a motorist disobeys a law it’s less serious for the motorist than the bicyclist.”

That’s because accidents can occur with injuries to cyclists, including an incident on July 7 in Redding in which a motorist struck a driver on Route 53 who was hospitalized with a non-life-threatening injury. The driver violated state law 14-232, which mandates “safe passing distance not less than three feet when the driver of a vehicle overtakes and passes a bicyclist.”

The main laws that pertain to bicyclists also pertain to motorists because bicycles are considered vehicles, so “bicyclists traveling on roadways have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists,” according to 14-286b. This means bicycles cannot go through red lights, turn right on prohibited intersections or travel at fast speeds on slow moving roads.

Among the laws that pertain specifically to bicyclists are that “persons shall not ride more than two abreast, according to 14-28b and carrying large packages is restricted because one hand must remain on the handlebars,” 14-28c.

Also, at night, bicyclists must utilize a front light and rear reflector, according to 14-288, and any bicyclist under 16 must wear a helmet, 14-286d.

“Most of the laws are based on common sense, but most people don’t use common sense when they’re riding bicycles,” said John Troxell, chief of the Weston police. “We have pulled bicyclists over for cutting in traffic and running lights.”

Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs said, “We have ticketed bikes in the past when large races come to town and there are too many bikes abreast so they’re obstructing traffic.”

A new law that may have a great impact on bicycling in Connecticut is the Complete Streets Law, which was passed in 2009 and took effect late in 2010. The law mandates that at least 1 percent of transportation funding goes to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

Kelly Kennedy, executive director of Bike Walk Connecticut , believes the new law will bring Connecticut towns up to date with larger cities that are bike friendly. “Other towns are striping lanes for bikes or painting sharrows (shared lane street markings) and we want to move Connecticut in that direction,” she said.

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