Bicycle Safety Improvements Proposed by Federal Government

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By Charles Pekow — Riding your bike on the road or across the railroad tracks may get safer.

First, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) plans to revise the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways, the nationwide standards for street signs and markings.

FHWA is proposing final standards for pedestrian-actuated rectangular rapid-flashing beacons at uncontrolled marked crosswalks and green-colored pavement for bicycle lanes. Currently, interim regulations govern them.

The agency says revisions will boost bicycle safety “with traffic control devices to improve safety and operation for bicyclists, including intersection bicycle boxes, two-stage turn boxes, bicycle traffic signal faces, and a new design for the U.S. Bicycle Route sign.

Among many other proposals, the revision would add language on expectations of bicyclist behavior and encourage use of EXCEPT BICYCLES signs where traffic restrictions don't apply to them.

A public comment period, originally scheduled to expire March 15, has been extended to May 15. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-12-14/html/2020-26789.htm.

Meanwhile, the Federal Railroad Administration ordered states to develop or improve (if they already have one) their train track crossing safety plans and to consider bicyclists in their “action plans” to improve safety. The order complies with a mandate in the Fixing American's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

The new rule, which took effect in January, requires states to consider bicycles “highway users” when compiling accident/incident data. It also requires states to consider at-grade bikepaths in their safety plans.

Details: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-12-14/html/2020-26064.htm

 

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Charles Pekow is an award-winning Washington correspondent who has written about bicycling for years in publications such as the Washington Post, Bicycle Times, Dirt Rag, SPOKES, etc. as well as Cycling West/Cycling Utah. He also writes frequently on environmental issues and beer, among other topics. Weather permitting, you'll find him most weekends and some summer evenings astride a bicycle in a park. He is also a charter member of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

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