Ohio cyclists push for law ensuring clearance from cars

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If cyclists want more clearance from the cars on the roadway the Ohio Legislature needs to act quickly.

House Bill 154 would require drivers statewide to leave at least 3 feet of space between their bumper and a bike.

Tuesday it passed unanimously out of the Senate Transportation Committee. If the full Senate does not pass it before the end of the session and the governor doesn’t sign it into law, bicyclists like Chuck Smith could find themselves back to square one.

"The full senate must pass our bill by December 31," said Smith. "If they and the governor do not act by the end of the year we would have to start all over again next year."

Smith is a cyclist and the chairperson of The Ohio Bicycle Federation. He said the state's cycling community is growing and needs better protection.

Lawmakers in the Ohio Senate Transportation, Commerce and Labor Committee listened to Smith and also heard emotional testimony from the deputy chief of staff for the Columbus mayor. She described a frightening day she was biking and a driver struck her. She said it lead to surgery, painful recovery and times of limited mobility.

The committee gave the bill unanimous support.

More than two dozen states and some cities in Ohio, including Columbus, already have a clearance mandate on the books. Outside of city limits, it is a different story.

"It is really important to be unified across the state. That eliminates a lot of confusion," said Smith. His organization encouraged people in Ohio to log onto the Ohio Bicycle Federation website and send emails of support to Ohio senators.