Share the roads

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With warming weather, more people will be walking, biking, and riding horses on our scenic roads. A we drive around, let’s do our part to keep our roads friendly and safe.

Remember to slow down when approaching non-motorized users, especially horses that may startle at quick movement or loud noises. Though fewer equestrians are on the road than a few years ago (several of my neighbors tell me they’ve stopped because of unsafe driving) be prepared to stop when near horses. Pass “wide, slow, and quiet” is not only neighborly, but a part of the highway code (Conn. Statute 14-293b).

Small differences in speed have a big impact on vulnerable road users. A widely-cited 2011 study of U.S. crashes by AAA finds a 25 percent chance of severe injury to a pedestrian when struck at 23 mph, a 50 percent chance at 31 mph, and 75 percent at 39 mph. Risks are likely higher today because of the shift to larger SUVs and trucks, so please check your speed.

Also remember to pass only when it is safe and give plenty of room. Most of us have had to hit the brakes when an oncoming car moves into our lane instead of waiting until it is clear to pass. We don’t want to be “that guy,” right?

Since 2008, state law requires that we give at least three feet to walkers, bikers, and animals (14-232). It’s both easy and legal to pass safely by moving fully into the left lane even in no-passing zones as long as we can see that the way is clear (14-234). There is no room to safely squeeze by in the same lane! Lanes on Granby roads are ten to eleven feet wide, narrower than the fourteen feet advised for shared lanes by the Federal Highway Administration.

Please understand that cyclists may lawfully ride in the center of the lane for their safety. Under state law, people only need to ride as close to the right “as is safe, as judged by such persons,” while noting exceptions including when the lane is too narrow for both a vehicle and a bicycle to share the lane (14-286b).

Defensive cycling often means riding near the center of the lane to avoid potholes, cracks, and loose debris near the shoulder, to be more easily seen on curves or from side streets and driveways, and to provide room to maneuver at higher speeds.

Under 14-286b, cycling two abreast is also legal (and creates a more compact group that is easier to pass). While doing so should “not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic,” sister-state court rulings find that a momentary delay before passing is not impeding (Salter v. North Dakota DOT) nor are cyclists traveling at normal cycling speeds (Trotwood, Ohio v. Selz).

Granby’s town motto is “The Pride of the Valley.” Let’s do our part by driving safely and with consideration for other road users.

Joel Danke