New Law Defines Space Needed to Maintain Traffic Safety for all Road Users
May 8, 2013 -- Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Council Members today unanimously approved an ordinance to protect Houston’s cyclists and other vulnerable road users by requiring cars and other motor vehicles to keep a separation of more than three feet while passing, and trucks or commercial vehicles to keep a separation of more than six feet. The ordinance is effective immediately.
Vulnerable road users are defined as a walkers or runners; the physically disabled, such as someone in a wheelchair; a stranded motorist or passengers; highway construction, utility or maintenance workers; tow truck operators; cyclists; moped, motor-driven cycle and scooter drivers; or horseback riders.
“As a city, we need to protect everyone and anyone who uses our roads,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “This ordinance will make our city even more attractive to those who want to enjoy traveling in forms other than by car.”
In addition to requiring safe passing and trailing distances from vulnerable road users, this ordinance prohibits any motor vehicle occupant from throwing or projecting any object or substance at or against them.
“BikeHouston is pleased to see this ordinance pass and proud of the Mayor’s continued efforts on helping Houston become a more bicycle-friendly city,” says Kathryn Baumeister, Chair of BikeHouston. “Houston is a city of cars, but also has a big population of people who rely on cycling for transportation and recreation. We feel it is important for cyclists and drivers of automobiles to respect one another on the road. This ordinance will help provide a measure of safety for the vulnerable road users.”
In addition to BikeHouston, several state and local leaders and groups advocated and/or voiced support for this ordinance, including: Senator Rodney Ellis, BikeTexas, AARP, Better Houston, Bikin’ Babes, Citizen Transportation Coalition, Houston Access to Urban Sustainability Project, Houston Tomorrow, Northwest Cycling Club and Richmond Rail.
Similar ordinances have already been enacted by Austin, Fort Worth and San Antonio.
The Safe Passing ordinance is another initiative, led and/or supported by Mayor Parker, to encourage more cycling in Houston. Others include the launch of Houston Bike Share last month, closing gaps in Houston’s bike trail system; the voter-approved Bayou Greenways initiative; and approval of HB200, which will allow Houston’s utility easements to be used for hike and bike trails.