“Frank’s Law” is the law!

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Jun

“Frank’s Law” is the law!

On its last day the General Assembly approved “safe passing” bills H7243A (sponsor: Gemma) and S2706A (Connors) which the Governor has allowed to become law without his signature.

Al Gemma took the leadership to get something passed and so it was basically his version of 3 similar bills that essentially calls for motorists to pass on the left with “a distace that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall over into the driver’s lane of traffic.” This applies only if the driver is going over 15mph The fine for a violation is the standard $85.

Some in the RIBike leadership felt this language gave a better visual clue than the more usual “3 foot passing” criterion in the original Connors bill and was in a similar bill (H7933 sponsored by Rep. McNamara.

Rep. Gemma’s original bill called for applying this only to motorists travelling over 35mph. We had testified to remove that speed restriction entirely, but on the last day it was changed to 15mph without opportunity for public comment as the Assembly was amending and passing many many bills then in a mad rush to adjourn. Rep Gemma also amended his orignal bill to call it “Frank’s Law.”

Evidently Senator Connors went along with this, and he agreed to drop the possibity of penalties of 10 days of community service and/or 10 day license suspension for violations.

TheRIBike Coalition felt this law,though somewhat disappointing, was better than nothing, noting the penalty of $85 remains woefully inadequate if the bicyclist is actually injured or killed. However, it can be useful in driver education, and perhaps if deliberate harassment is actually observed.

We had asked for a “vulnerable road user” bill to enhance penalties when a biker or other vulnerable road user (such as pedestrians, police, highway workers, wheelchair users, first responders) are actually struck by a motorist not taking due care. But apparently that was too different from the passing guidelines in the bills filed, and no such amendments were formally offerred. But now that the safe passing distance issue is settled, RIBike hopes to find a sponsor in the next session for such a vulnerable road user bill, and work to find allies with the others users affected.

8 thoughts on - “Frank’s Law” is the law!

  • Jun 24, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Thanks to Barry as well! He spent many hours tracking and interacting with the various sponsors of this bill. Our notion of the vulnerable user bill has now been discussed during two legislative sessions now, hopefully, everyone in judiciary has at least heard our hope for something more aggressive. We still feel something stronger needs to be put on the books, but are happy to have our foot in the door with this 3-foot bill.

  • Labann
    Jun 24, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    The crime is that Frank Cabral had to die first, as well as, Amanda Lynn Benge, and Victor Rodrigues Porter.

    While this is a step in the right direction, the state's systematic elimination of road shoulders on such critical stretches as Rt. 5 by the malls, Buttonwoods section of West Shore Road, and various other segments where bicyclists including myself have been hit by motorists is equally to blame for these fatalities.

  • Jun 24, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks for all of the hard work. It sounds like it's not a perfect law, but a perfect law is impossible. It will help to have this law on our side in cases where a commercial vehicle or a transit vehicle passes too close. Before the law, if you call RIPTA, all you can say is "it was extremely dangerous for that bus to pass me so close." Now you can say, "it was illegal for that bus to pass me so close."

  • Barry
    Jun 29, 2010 at 9:30 am

    For more information on how Frank Cabral was killed on his bike, and how AG P. Lynch failed to prosecute the motorist, please note there was an article about that case, and the new law, in the Monday, June 28 issue of the Providence Journal

  • Jul 1, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    There is no amount of legislation that will compensate for or prevent poor judgement. It might make one feel that at least something was done but in reality, it will make little difference. Does we really need a law that says it's alright to go over the center line to avoid hitting a person on a bicycle?

  • Andy
    Aug 20, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    An informational campaign needs to be used to educate the public about cyclists rights and roadways. An approach similar to the " buckle up" and "don't drink and drive" billboards and commercials.

    • Aug 20, 2010 at 5:13 pm

      We've already begun talks with RIDOT about doing just this. The hope is to have a campaign kick off around May of next year.

  • Jul 13, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    While this is a step in the right direction, the state's systematic elimination of road shoulders on such critical stretches as Rt. 5 by the malls, Buttonwoods section of West Shore Road, and various other segments where bicyclists including myself have been hit by motorists is equally to blame for these fatalities.