There has been an exciting increase in the number of bicyclists in Indiana, and bicycling has taken off as a recreational activity in the state. However, the state as a whole doesn’t provide bicyclists the kind of environment that they need to ride safely and enjoyably.
The League of American Bicyclists recently released a report in which it rated all 50 states, based on the bicycle-friendly environment that they provide. Unfortunately, Indiana was placed at number 37 on the list. The report was based on the state’s scores in five separate categories including legislation and enforcement, policies and programs, infrastructure, education, evaluation and planning. The highest a state could score was five, and the lowest was one. Indiana scored at a low two on all these measures, excluding education and encouragement in which it scored a three.
The report has several recommendations for Indiana transportation safety authorities to help promote a more bicycle-friendly environment in Indiana. One of the recommendations is to create a 3-foot bicycle passing law. This law and other versions of it are already in existence in several states across the country. It requires motorists to maintain a minimum of a 3-foot distance when they pass a bicycle. The report suggests a law like this for Indiana. There are currently several bills being considered by lawmakers that could actually make this law a reality.
Apart from the safe passing law, the report also recommends that Indiana transportation authorities adopt a policy that requires bicycle accommodations to be added to bridge and tunnel projects, and a law that would prohibit motorists from opening the car door unless it is safe to do so. When a motorist opens the car door without bothering to check whether bicyclists are approaching, the bicyclist is at a serious risk of injury when he slams into the car door.
Several states have a law like this, and Indiana is one of just 10 states that still do not have a law that would help prevent these very serious injuries to bicyclists. The report also suggests more state funding for bicycle projects and programs, especially those involving access to bicycle networks.
As Indiana’s bicycling population continues to grow, we would encourage the state’s lawmakers to take seriously these suggestions. The safety of our riders depends on it.
The Indiana bicycle accident lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP represent persons who have suffered injuries in bicycle accidents across Indiana.