Houston considers safe-passing ordinance

Ordinance designed to protect 'vulnerable road users'

HOUSTON - The Houston city council is considering a safe-passing ordinance to protect bicyclist and pedestrians using the road.

The ordinance would require drivers to keep a minimum of three feet between their vehicle and those vulnerable road users. Motorists also:

  • Cannot overtake and turn in front of a vulnerable road user unless it's safe.
  • Cannot maneuver their vehicle to intimidate or harass someone.
  • May not throw any object or substance at or against the vulnerable road user.

"Sometimes, it's terrifying," said Michael Cavanaugh, a bike courier who rides through downtown Houston. "It's different every day. Towards the end of the day, you don't want to get into people's way trying to get home."

Cavanaugh said he has been hit seven times.

"I got hospitalized once with a ruptured spleen," he said. "It sounds like a good idea. It's whether or not authorities enforce it."

If passed, drivers who violate the ordinance would face a $500 fine. The ordinance exists in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. A similar law was passed statewide in 2009 but was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry.

The city council will consider the issue during a meeting Wednesday.

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