The bipartisan Bicycle Friendly Delaware Act signed into law last October establishes more rights for bicyclists in Delaware and includes some new rules for everyone. For instance, honking at cyclists is now banned, except for in cases of imminent danger, and cars must change lanes when passing bicyclists.
Most bike crashes occur at intersections. Two aspects of the Act address this issue directly. Bicycle traffic signals will now be adopted throughout the state by DelDOT. Another groundbreaking change is allowing bicyclists to yield at stop signs when the intersection is clear, instead of requiring a full stop at every stop sign, without exceptions. Idaho is currently the only other state that allows bikes to safely yield at an intersection, which enables them to maintain their momentum. Eight other states have attempted to pass similar legislation and failed.
The Act also better defines where bicyclists should be on the road, further improving their safety in traffic. Previously, Delaware law stated that bikes must ride “as close as practicable to the right-hand edge of the roadway.” This ambiguous language did not allow for any safety variables, such as condition of the road. The new Act is more specific and says riders should be “far enough to the right as judged safe by the operator to facilitate the movement of such overtaking vehicles unless the bicycle operator determines that other conditions make it unsafe to do so.” Other clarifications allow bicyclists to ride two abreast within the lane in narrow lanes.
Delaware was able to pass the new legislation because it had the full support and involvement of the Delaware State Police, whose Traffic Unit contributed suggestions. The statewide advocacy group Bike Delaware was also a key collaborator in developing the language that eventually became law. Together the two groups tried to create laws that actually reflect how people act on the road. The police wanted rules that they could help enforce, and knew from experience what does not work. The executive director of Bike Delaware said that without police support it would have been impossible to move a safety bill forward.
The legislation’s co-sponsors were also co-sponsors of both Walkable Bikeable Delaware and the Healthy and Transit-Friendly Development Act.
Now that Delaware has declared itself “bike friendly” with the new Act passed, it will be crucial to raise public awareness of the new rules. Delaware State Police have received training on the new laws, and Bike Delaware launched a statewide campaign to promote the Act. The Bicycle Friendly Delaware Act can only succeed if drivers, cyclists, and police all understand the new laws designed to keep bicyclists out of harm’s way.
We all must share the road with bikes, but not every driver follows the rules of the road. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence, call a Wilmington personal injury lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. We will evaluate your case for free and advocate on your behalf to achieve the best outcome possible for you. Call us today at 302-656-5445 or contact us online. From our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown we proudly serve clients in Dover and across Delaware.