Vulnerable Road Users Laws

There are a number of efforts to develop model laws aimed at re-structuring liability to reflect the greater hazards faced by persons who use assistive devices, walk, bicycle, or otherwise travel on the transportation network outside of standard motorized vehicles.

The League of American Bicyclists Legal Affairs Committee has announced three new model laws that states and communities can use to craft legislation that supports the safety of bicyclists.

  • An improved and updated Model Vulnerable Road User Law – this model law provides a punishment for motor vehicle drivers who seriously or injure people using roadways who are not protected by a motor vehicle.
  • A new Model Safe Passing Law – this model law provides language directing motor vehicles to move over a lane where possible or pass bicyclists at no closer than 3 feet. It also enables motor vehicles to cross double-yellow lines in order to safely pass bicyclists.
  • A new Model Where to Ride Law – this model law provides language empowering a bicyclist to make safe choices regarding lane position and increases public understanding about where bicyclists should ride on the road.

At least nine states have adopted Vulnerable Road User Protection Laws, including Nevada, Tennessee, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, New York and Hawaii. Vermont and Connecticut are in process and many other states are talking about them including California and our neighbor, Wisconsin.

The purpose of this collection of materials is to provide useful information on the Vulnerable User legal concept and its potential for improvement in safety for non-motorized roadway users such as bicyclists and pedestrians. We hope these materials will encourage and assist bicycle and pedestrian activists to call on their state’s lawmakers to pass similar laws to enhance roadway safety and increase the use of our roads by human powered travelers.