We're taking one step closer to making our community one of the most bicycle-friendly in the nation, thanks to a proposal that would make changes to our Traffic Regulations ordinance.
These changes, or amendments, are designed to clarify rules of the road and heighten safety for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. Members of my city administration and representatives from our community partner groups -- Three Rivers Velo Sport, Fort Wayne Trails and Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council – were part of a committee that spent several months reviewing our traffic laws; researching best practices in other communities and helping to draft changes to the ordinance that are understandable, enforceable and safer for everyone.
By working together, we've made tremendous progress over last few years, with help from our Bike Fort Wayne Plan for improvement and support from our community partners. We have:
•expanded our trail system from 20 miles to 68 over the last six years
•installed bike lanes on Rudisill Boulevard and Wayne and Berry streets
•installed more than 250 bike racks and
•added "Share the Road" signs throughout the bike network
This work earned us accolades from the League of American Bicyclists – but we didn't stop there.
We are continuing to build on these efforts with these amendments to our Traffic Regulations. These changes were needed because the last updates to the City Code that regulates bicycle use were in made in 1985 – more than 25 years ago.
With more people walking and biking in Fort Wayne, it's time that we update our traffic laws to clarify the rules of the road and ensure the safety of all of our citizens.
Proposed amendments to the City's Traffic Regulations ordinance clearly outline the traffic laws that both motor vehicles and bicycles must follow. Examples include:
•Requiring every bicyclist to follow the same Rules of the Road that drivers of vehicles must follow and having motorists treat bicyclists the same way they treat other moving vehicles;
•Requiring drivers passing a bike to leave a Three-Foot Zone between the vehicle and the bike, when passing;
•Requiring vehicles to yield to a bicycle operating in a Bike Lane;
•Requiring motorists to Prevent Dooring – an incident where a cyclist crashes into an open car door – by yielding to bicycles and other moving traffic before opening their car door, and
•Requiring Bicyclists on sidewalks to yield to pedestrians and call out a warning when they are passing someone who is walking.
I also support a recommendation that calls for removing the option for bicyclists to license their bikes. Since the ordinance was last amended in 1985, City Police and Fire Departments have stopped licensing bicycles. In addition, national online bike registries are available and lost or stolen bicycles may also be identified by serial numbers.
By expanding our trail network, creating bike lanes and adding bike racks and now ensuring our traffic laws promote bicycle safety, we are making it simple and safe for residents to ride their bikes and stay fit for life.
The ordinance amendments are scheduled to be discussed by City Council in early September. For more information on the changes, go to www.cityoffortwayne.org