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New Rules Governing Bike Use Take Effect in Connecticut

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Changes to cycling laws were signed by Governor Malloy in June.

This month brings a few changes to bicycling laws in Connecticut, which will impact both cyclists and drivers. 

It's warm outside. That means more people on bikes -- and because of a new law, potentially more and more cyclists riding in traffic a little further away from the curb.

Kelly Kennedy is executive director at Bike Walk Connecticut. She said state law used to say cyclists had to ride as far to the right as "practicable."

"And the way the law's changed now is that cyclists should ride as far to the right as they judge safe," Kennedy said. "The reason for that is when you're all the way over to the far right of the road, a lot of times you're just there in the margins. It's not easy for drivers to notice you," she continued. "And there's often a lot of debris and drainage grates off to the far right of the road, so that makes it unsafe for cyclists."

Kennedy's group lobbied for changes to the law, which passed through the legislature and were signed by Governor Malloy in June.

And what about drivers? Kennedy said the new bike law addresses them, too. Under the old rules, it was unclear whether it was acceptable for a driver to cross over the double yellow line when passing a cyclist. Kennedy said the new law, "also clarifies that drivers may cross over the double-yellow line to go around the cyclist as long as it's safe to do so." 

One thing that hasn't changed, Kennedy said, is this: when you are passing a bike in your car, always give the cyclist at least three feet of space.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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