Right of way clarification advanced

A bill that would clarify right of way laws for bicyclists and pedestrians was advanced from general file April 4.

LB716, introduced by Omaha Sen. Rick Kolowski, would clarify that any bicyclist who is riding on a designated path that intersects with a street or highway would have the right of way within the crossing if he or she follows all traffic signals.

In the event that a motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian all are present at an intersection, the pedestrian would have right of way.

Kolowski said the bill would make roadways safer for everyone.

“It’s time to change our laws so we can better protect people who ride bicycles,” he said. “These common-sense legal clarifications strengthen the rights of cyclists, motorists and pedestrians.”

Omaha Sen. Robert Hilkemann supported the bill.

“Nebraska is currently ranked 48th in bicycle friendliness in terms of safety for riders,” he said. “[LB716] will improve that bike safety in the state.”

LB716 also would repeal a current statute commonly referred to as the “mandatory sidepath” provision. This states that whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street, a bicyclist must use the path and not the street.

Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln said he has concerns about repealing this provision.

“I don’t understand the rationale behind removing a requirement to use a sidepath when there’s one parallel to the highway,” Coash said. “If we have a poorly kept sidepath, we should repair it, not remove the restriction.”

Following the adoption of a technical amendment, senators advanced the bill to select file on a 26-5 vote.

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