Cyclists have a right to the road only because our state lawmakers have said we have a right to the road. Groups like the Ohio Bicycle Federation (OBF) bust their butts ensuring (and sometimes attempting to expand) this right while most of us roadies just take all of this for granted. We shouldn't.
In 2006, the OBF successfully advocated for changes in Ohio's bicycling laws.
The organization has now just recently submitted HB 390 to the Ohio House. A link to the proposed changes in the law (additions are underlined, deletions are crossed out) can be found here.
Although HB 390 proposes several changes to the current law, the most significant ones (in my opinion) are this one:
When the operator of a vehicle...overtakes a bicycle
or other slow vehicle, the operator shall pass at a distance of
not less than three feet between the vehicle...and the bicycle or other slow vehicle.
Three feet. Is that too much to ask for?
...and this one:
(A) The driver of a vehicle...who approaches an intersection where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals shall do all of the following, if the signal facing the driver either exhibits no colored lights or colored lighted arrows or exhibits a combination of such lights or arrows that fails to clearly indicate the assignment of right-of-way or if the signals are otherwise inoperative, including due to failure of a vehicle detector to detect the vehicle:
(1) Stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, stop
before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the
intersection, or, if none, stop before entering the intersection;
(2) Yield the right-of-way to all vehicles, streetcars, or
trackless trolleys in the intersection or approaching on an
intersecting road, if the vehicles, streetcars, or trackless
trolleys will constitute an immediate hazard during the time the
driver is moving across or within the intersection or junction of
(3) Exercise ordinary care while proceeding through the
Yes, the second one has to do with not being ticketed for going through an intersection when the traffic light's vehicle detector does not detect your carbon race machine.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP THIS BILL PASS
Go to this link to the Ohio House of Representatives. Enter your address (including full zip code) to find your representative. Call and e-mail your representative (and write a letter if you're feeling really motivated) to remind him/her that you are a cyclist who votes and that you support HB 390. When you call, you will probably talk to some office assistant. That is fine. They are paid to answer phones and take messages for their boss. Be kind to him/her and politely ask him/her to relay your message to House Member _____ .
Occasionally check the OBF website to track the progress of this bill. Once it makes its way to the Senate (which it will, especially after all of you contact your House Representatives to support the bill), find the contact info for your Ohio Senator and contact him/her in support of the bill. When it is sent to the Governor to sign, contact the Governor.
This whole democracy thing works great when you, as an informed voter, actively use it to your advantage.
This process of contacting your Representative takes a few minutes from beginning to end (call and e-mail!!), and is the most important thing relating to bicycling that you can do today. (Yes, it is more important than downloading and obsessively analyzing your power data from your most recent ride!!)