Houston City Council approves safe-passing ordinance

Ordinance designed to protect 'vulnerable road users'

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HOUSTON - The Houston City Council on Wednesday approved a safe-passing ordinance aimed at protecting bicyclists and other vulnerable road users.

The ordinance requires 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.

Vulnerable road users are defined as a walkers or runners; the physically disabled, such as someone in a wheelchair; a stranded motorist or passengers; highway construction, utility or maintenance workers; tow truck operators; cyclists; moped, motor-driven cycle and scooter drivers; or horseback riders.

Mayor Annise Parker said more than 600 tickets have been issued to bicyclists who don't follow traffic laws.

"As a city, we need to protect everyone and anyone who uses our roads," said Parker. "This ordinance will make our city even more attractive to those who want to enjoy traveling in forms other than by car."

"BikeHouston is pleased to see this ordinance pass and proud of the Mayor's continued efforts on helping Houston become a more bicycle-friendly city," says Kathryn Baumeister, Chair of BikeHouston. "Houston is a city of cars, but also has a big population of people who rely on cycling for transportation and recreation. We feel it is important for cyclists and drivers of automobiles to respect one another on the road. This ordinance will help provide a measure of safety for the vulnerable road users."

Drivers who violate the ordinance will face a $500 fine. A similar law was passed statewide in 2009 but was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry.

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