Remember House Bill 192 “Five Feet for Cyclists” from the 2019 New Mexico Legislative Session? The bill that passed, but was ultimately vetoed by Governor Lujan Grisham due to an “unfriendly amendment” from late Senator Jim White adding the provision that “to the extent practicable, a person shall not operate a bicycle within a vehicle lane if a separate posted or painted bicycle lane or pathway is provided within or adjacent to the roadway”?
Maybe you’ve forgotten. The brain often does try to help us by obliterating memory of foul events.
I recall last year asking sponsors of the 2019 legislation if they planned to rekindle the bill in 2020, and was told that as a 30-day session any measure had to be on the Governor’s Call. Which, of course, does raise the question/idea: Okay, uh, let’s put it on there. But that was last year. A look this morning at pre-filed bills doesn’t indicate that such a bill is on for 2021, at least not yet.
City of Albuquerque already has ordinance language including a five-foot provision:
§ 8-3-3-10 DUTY OF MOTORIST TO BICYCLIST.
(A) In approaching or passing a person on a bicycle, every person operating a motor vehicle shall
proceed with caution and shall pass such bicyclist at a reasonable speed and keep a safe distance
from him; provided however, in no event shall a distance of less than five feet be considered a
safe distance within the meaning of this division.
However, the five feet rule isn’t statewide, yet, and then there’s the matter of enforcement/penalties, the lack of which lead to many ABQ 311 reports like this one:
Bus number 731, at 9:15 am on the morning of 5/5/19, traveling east, was driving in the far right lane while approaching the intersection of Indian School and University. I was on a bicycle, traveling the same direction in the bicycle lane. The bus gave me approximately one foot of space while passing me. While I understand that bus drivers are under a great deal of pressure to maintain their travel schedules, this lack of regard that an approximately 20+ ton motorized city owned and operated vehicle had for a 120-pound human riding a 16-pound bicycle is astonishing. The repercussions of such a vehicle hitting a cyclist would be quite devastating for all involved. I urge the city to train (or re-train) its drivers regarding the expected behavior when passing a cyclist. Thank you.
The 311/See Click Fix report detailed above resulted, apparently, in an ABQ Ride personnel interview with the driver involved, but without both language and teeth (and zero unfriendly amendments), cyclists will continue to be buzzed by drivers, including City bus drivers, with impunity.
We have 60 days to help change that statewide, starting at Noon.