Changes Heighten Safety for Cyclists and Motorists

 Fort Wayne, Ind. – In yet another move to make Fort Wayne more “bicycle friendly,” Mayor Tom Henry today announced proposed changes to the City Code that would improve safety for bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians.

 “Our traffic regulations concerning bicycles were outdated and unclear,” Mayor Henry said. “These proposed changes will clarify the rules of the road so that Fort Wayne is safer for not only bicyclists, but also drivers and pedestrians.”

 A committee that included representatives from the bike community, Fort Wayne Police Department, City Transportation Engineering, the Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council, City Planning, the Greenway Consortium, City Council and the City Legal Department spent several months reviewing existing traffic laws and researching best practices in other communities.

 Proposed amendments to the City’s Traffic Regulations ordinance clearly outline the traffic laws that both motor vehicles and bicycles must follow. Examples include:

Rules of the road: Every bicyclist riding on a street must adhere to all the same traffic laws that drivers of vehicles must follow. Motorists must treat bicyclists the same way they treat other moving vehicles on the road.  This means:

The driver of a vehicle coming out of an alley must yield the right of way to all crossing traffic, including bicyclists and pedestrians;

Drivers can only turn right in front of a bicyclist riding on the right side of the road if the vehicle has passed the bicycle and is safely clear of it;

When turning left, motorists must yield to a bicyclist approaching from the opposite direction just as they would yield to another vehicle.

Three-foot zone: A driver passing a bike must leave at least three feet between the vehicle and the bike, until safely past the bicycle. Many bike-friendly communities have established “three foot zones,” in order to prevent series accidents.

Bike lanes: Vehicles must yield to a bicycle operating in a bike lane; vehicles may only enter a bike lane to turn right if there are no bikes in the lane. Cars and trucks may not drive in a bike lane unless entering a legal parking space; vehicles cannot block a bike lane.

Prevent “dooring:” A common term for a cyclist crashing into an open car door is called “dooring;” the amendments state that motorists should yield to moving traffic – including bicycles – before opening their door to exit or enter their vehicle.  Drivers should not leave a vehicle door open longer than needed to get out of the vehicle.

Bicycles on sidewalks: Whenever a bicyclist is riding on a sidewalk, they must yield to all pedestrians and must clearly state that they are passing someone who is walking. For example, a cyclist might call out “Passing on the left.”

In addition to these proposed amendments, Mayor Henry recommends removing the option for bicyclists to license their bikes. The current City Code relating to bicycles was last amended in 1985 and since that time, the City Police and Fire Departments have stopped licensing bicycles. National online bike registries are available now and stolen or lost bicycles may also be identified by serial numbers.

 Mayor Henry, City staff and community advocates continue to implement a comprehensive program to promote bicycle use. To achieve that goal, the City commissioned the Bike Fort Wayne Plan; dramatically expanded the City's trail system from 20 miles to 68 miles over the last six years; created bike lanes on Rudisill Boulevard and Wayne and Berry streets; installed more than 250 bike parking racks throughout the area; and added "Share the Road" signs to the bike network to enhance public safety. The City of Fort Wayne was recently honored by the League of American Bicyclists for its accomplishments in making the community more bicycle-friendly.

 "These ordinance amendments are just one more step in our plans to make Fort Wayne one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the nation,” Mayor Henry said. “By tripling the size of our trail network in just six years, creating bike lanes, adding bike racks and now ensuring our traffic laws promote bicycle safety, we are making it simple and safe for residents to ride their bikes and stay fit for life.”

 The ordinance amendments will be introduced to City Council tonight and discussed on Sept. 4; the amendments could be approved in mid-September.