In June, The Bicycle Friendly Delaware Act (BFDA) bill passed through the Delaware Legislature with near-unanimous support in both House and Senate, and last month Gov. John Carney signed the bill into law.
Near the intersection of Main Street and the Pomeroy Trail near the Newark Shopping Center, Carney signed Senate Bill 78 and House Bill 185, which relate to making Delaware a better and safer place to operate a bicycle. Joining him were State Sen. Dave Sokola, State Rep. Larry Mitchell, State Rep. Ed Osienski, Newark Mayor Polly Sierer, bicycle-safety advocates, and other members of the Delaware General Assembly.
Highlights of the bill include:
- Defines and enables bicycle traffic signals as engineering tools for DelDOT (specifically enabling the Delaware Avenue Separated Bikeway in Newark).
- Requires motorists to change lanes (including when there is a double yellow line) when passing bicycles when travel lanes are too narrow for side-by-side sharing (making “Three Foot” passing a requirement only in the special case of wide lanes).
- Eliminating from the state code “As close as practicable to the right-hand edge of the roadway” (the dreaded “AFRAP”; replaced by “far enough to the right as judged safe by the operator to facilitate the movement of such overtaking vehicles unless the bicycle operator determines that other conditions make it unsafe to do so”).
- Forbids motorists from honking horns at cyclists when passing.
- Clarifies “where to ride” laws, including specifically permitting two-abreast riding within the lane in a narrow lane.
- Establishes the “Delaware Yield,” permitting/requiring bicyclists to yield at stop signs (when the coast is clear), instead of requiring a complete stop at all stop signs with no exceptions. A legal exception for safe yielding at stop signs by cyclists is an achievement that has eluded every other state cycling advocacy organization that has tried since Idaho in 1982.