Proposed rule change up for discussion at May 10 town council work session
By Bob Berwyn
BRECKENRIDGE — Under some proposed changes to local traffic codes, cyclists in Breckenridge and Dillon won’t have to worry about being ticketed for running stop signs — as long as they exercise a high standard of due care when they approach intersections.
The changes would be modeled after a statewide standard recently adopted by Idaho, and would require riders of bicycles and electric-assisted bicycles to slow down to a reasonable speed when approaching stop signs, check for traffic and proceed through if safe. Cyclists would only be required to stop if another vehicle has the right of way.
The new rules would also be applicable to the operations of pedicabs in Breckenridge, according to a memo from chief Rick Holman.
“If we’re not going to enforce it, let’s change it,” Holman said, explaining that Dillon is making a similar change to its traffic code. “It doesn’t change that much. The onus is still on the bike rider,” he added.
The Idaho due care standard has been in place for about 10 years, according to League of American Bicyclists president Andy Clarke. There haven’t been any reports of problems or increased accidents from that state, the head of the cycling advocacy group said.
Other than that, there aren’t any other jurisdictions he’s aware of that have adopted similar legal standards, but several states are considering similar moves. A push to adopt a similar standard in Utah failed by just one vote recently, he added.
The organization hasn’t taken an official stance on such measures, simply because it’s a politically charged issue in some quarters.
The changes will be discussed at the May 10 Breckenridge Town Council work session. The discussion is scheduled for about 3:15 to 3:30 p.m.
Here’s the memo from Holman:
Under current Model Traffic Code regulations in the state and as adopted by the Town, a bicyclist is required to come to a complete stop at all stop signs and required to stop and wait at all red lights just like a motor vehicle. From a practical standpoint, we know this does not occur with the majority of bicycle riders. Recently, the State of Idaho adopted a “Due Care” standard for the operation of bicycles. Although no effort is underway to change our existing bike rules at the state level at this time, we do have the ability to change these rules at the local level. Discussions have occurred in the county between the police chiefs about adopting a standard similar to the State of Idaho. Dillon is currently moving forward with an ordinance change and I am bringing forward this proposed change for your consideration.
Staff is proposing an amendment to our existing Town Code that governs the operation of bicycles and pedicabs. Section 1412 of the Model Traffic Code states that a person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall have all the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle, except for stated exceptions. What I am proposing is an amendment that would allow for two exceptions to those rules. Under 12(a), a person riding a bike or electrical assisted bike is required to slow down when approaching a stop sign to a reasonable speed to check for other traffic and then proceed through when safe. The bicyclist is only required to stop if another vehicle has the right of way. Sub-section 12(b) requires a bicyclist to stop at a red light and then proceed through the red light when it is safe to do so. This section also allows a bicyclist to make a right turn on a red light without coming to a stop. We have also added this same language in the ordinance that makes these two new rules applicable to the operation of a pedicab.
The Town Attorney has checked with CDOT and the State Attorney General’s office to make sure these proposed changes are acceptable under the rules of the State’s Model Traffic Code and we were given approval to make these changes at our local level.
I will be available at the May 10th work session to discuss this proposal with the Council.
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