New bike laws in effect as of July 1
Important changes to Connecticut’s laws for cyclists took effect on July 1.
The Bicycle Safety bill, Senate Bill 502 and now Public Act 15-41, was passed in May with broad bipartisan support. Gov. Dannel Malloy signed the bill into law on June 1.
The new law eliminates the confusing, and often unsafe, rule requiring cyclists to ride as far to the right as practicable.
Instead, the law now requires cyclists to ride as close to the right side of the road as is safe, as judged by the cyclist. Bike Walk Connecticut specifically advocated for that language, which is modeled on a best practice from Colorado as identified by the League of American Bicyclists.
As of July 1, cyclists don’t have to ride as close to the right side of the road when:
- Overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
- Preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
- Reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or lanes that are too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to travel safely side by side within such lanes;
- Approaching an intersection where right turns are permitted and there is a dedicated right turn lane, in which case a bicyclist may ride on the left-hand side of such dedicated lane, even if the bicyclist does not intend to turn right;
- Riding on a roadway designated for one-way traffic, when the bicyclist may ride as near to the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as judged safe by the bicyclist; or when
- Riding on parts of roadways separated for the exclusive use of bicycles, including, but not limited to, contra-flow bicycle lanes, left-handed cycle tracks or bicycle lanes on one-way streets and two-way cycle tracks or bicycle lanes.
The new law also allows two-way bicycle lanes, buffered bike lanes, and cycle tracks to be designed in Connecticut and allows drivers to cross the double yellow line to pass slower-moving cyclists and other road users when it’s safe to do so.