HOLD THE DATE
Proudly Presented by BikeWalk NC in Partnership with AARP and Cape Fear Cyclists
Join cycling experts and advocates from the Southeast region at the 6th Annual NC Bike Summit! The event will be held from November 3-4, 2017 in Wilmington, NC.
Keynote speakers will focus on Complete Streets and Livability as we work together to “Complete our Streets…for All!”
The 2017 NC Bike Summit promises to be packed full of information useful to bicycle advocates, transportation planners, business owners, elected officials, tactical urbanists, public health practitioners, and livability and sustainability professionals. The mission of the summit is to:
- Foster collaboration
- Educate and Inform
- Promote bicycling as a valid form of transportation and as an economic driver
Visit http://www.bikewalknc.org/nc-bicycle-summit/ to learn more.
Help Us Spread the Word!
Advocates for motoring sometimes call for elimination of bicyclists or pedestrians from roadways, or for increased regulatory burdens to be placed on bicyclists (ostensibly to equal the expense of motoring regulations). Their argument often begins with the motoring-centric assumption that roads are for cars, and that because motoring on roadways is regulated as a privilege, then any use of roadways is also a privilege, and not a true right. Historically and legally speaking, however, this claim is inaccurate. Recognition of an individual’s basic right to travel on shared roads dates back thousands of years.
Roads evolved from unimproved footpaths and trails over five thousand years ago. Some roads were constructed and maintained by private landowners, and others by governments. The earliest challenges to public travel over these routes came from landowners or other local inhabitants who might extort money from travelers or block travel by force or physical obstruction. Public use of roads was compelling for access to water, food, and trade, for transport of goods and materials, and for military purposes. Across the world, laws evolved to define the rights and responsibilities of travelers and landowners.
Some of the first written descriptions of travel rights are found in second century BC Roman property laws that established a hierarchy of easements that prioritized pedestrian access over wagon passage. The Romans were prolific road builders, creating a network of durable paved highways that spanned most of Europe including England. While of strategic military importance to the Roman government, these roads were public ways permitted to all. Any act to block or hinder travel upon public roads was prohibited by Roman law. Within the city of Rome, traffic congestion became such a nuisance that Julius Caesar banned wheeled traffic in the city during most of the daytime.
The tradition of public passage, however, survived even in the dark ages. In the twelfth century, the seminal English law text Tractatus of Glanvil written for Henry II declared the legal status of the king’s highway and the public right to travel upon it.
The concept of right of way originated in English law at this time with a dual meaning: First, the right of the king to establish public roads across private properties, and second, the public’s right of passage on such ways. The common-law right to travel on public ways followed the colonists to North America.
In the late 1800s controversy erupted over a new type of vehicle that was speeding along rural roads and urban streets, occasionally frightening horses and pedestrians: the bicycle. Considered a nuisance by some non-bicyclists, cities and states enacted numerous bans on bicycle travel (for instance, Kentucky banned bicycles from most major roads). Numerous court cases involving bicyclists’ road rights resulted in inconsistent outcomes. In cases involving collisions, English and American courts eventually concluded that the rules of the road for carriages should apply equally to bicyclists. These rules prohibited speeding or otherwise operating in a manner dangerous to others.
Eventually the higher courts in the states would reach conclusions protecting the right to travel by bicycle on public roads. In Swift vs City of Topeka (1890) the Kansas Supreme Court stated:
“Each citizen has the absolute right to choose for himself the mode of conveyance he desires, whether it be by wagon or carriage, by horse, motor or electric car, or by bicycle . . . . This right of the people to the use of the public streets of a city is so well established and so universally recognized in this country that it has become a part of the alphabet of fundamental rights of the citizen.”
In the case of the self-propelled automobile, however, the Kansas Supreme Court spoke too soon. In the 1890s, automobile travel was primarily a novelty for the wealthy, but motor traffic volumes and speeds grew quickly on public roads over the next thirty years. With popularization of motoring came a staggering epidemic of crash fatalities and injuries for pedestrians and vehicle operators. In response, cities across the country enacted new regulations on motoring ranging from licensing requirements to outright bans. Automobile organizations challenged the regulations in court based on right-to-travel grounds, and won many of the early cases. But as motoring’s death toll continued to increase each year, and government regulators made a stronger case that improper motoring violated the travel rights of others, the courts relented. By 1920, no court found the right to travel to be sufficient grounds to strike down a driver license requirement for motor vehicle use. For instance, in the federal case Hendrick v. Maryland 235 US 610 (1915):
“The movement of motor vehicles over the highways is attended by constant and serious dangers to the public, and is also abnormally destructive to the ways themselves . . . In the absence of national legislation covering the subject a State may rightfully prescribe uniform regulations necessary for public safety and order in respect to the operation upon its highways of all motor vehicles — those moving in interstate commerce as well as others. And to this end it may require the registration of such vehicles and the licensing of their drivers . . . This is but an exercise of the police power uniformly recognized as belonging to the States and essential to the preservation of the health, safety and comfort of their citizens.”
Drivers who were charged with driving a motor vehicle without a license would continue to attempt a defense based on the right to travel, but to no avail. For instance, in State v. Davis (Missouri 1988):
“The state of Missouri, by making the licensing requirements in question, is not prohibiting Davis from expressing or practicing his religious beliefs or from traveling throughout this land. If he wishes, he may walk, ride a bicycle or horse…. He cannot, however, operate a motor vehicle on the public highways without … a valid operator’s license.”
The State v. Davis decision calls out the importance of walking and bicycling in supporting the right to travel. If driving a motor vehicle is an issued and revocable privilege, then it stands to reason that some other modes must remain in order to preserve the right to travel. Otherwise, only the privileged could continue to travel independently on the essential trips that people have been making for thousands of years.
Bicycle registration programs are often proposed and sometimes implemented to combat bicycle theft and to raise revenue. Most government-operated bicycle registration programs in the US fail due to high implementation costs, low participation and revenue, complications for bicyclists traveling between jurisdictions, and increased friction between police and low-income populations. Today, Hawaii is the only US state with a mandatory bicycle registration requirement, which succeeds primarily because it is implemented as an excise tax on new bikes at the point of sale, and also because out-of-state bicyclists cannot ride across the state’s border.
As a note, property taxes have historically been the revenue method for paying for roadways. The high costs of the construction and maintenance of roads due to motoring, compared to traditional human and animal powered means, led to the institution of a fuel tax. Although the first gas tax was instituted around 1932, dedication to highways and the Highway Trust Fund wasn’t in place until 1956. According to a 2015 report done by the US PIRG, the fuel tax today covers less than half the costs of maintaining and expanding roadways. The resulting shortfall is made up from other sources of tax revenue at the state and local levels, and is generated by drivers and non-drivers alike. Most communities elect to promote the public benefits of bicycling and walking rather than deter these activities by applying a usage tax.
Many US residents do not drive motor vehicles due to limitations of age, health, or economics, or simply by choice. Worldwide, motorists are a clear minority; people outnumber motor vehicles 7 to 1. In much of the world, the bicycle is the most popular vehicle choice for travel, essential for the mobility of people with modest incomes or in areas with a scarcity of space that can be dedicated for motoring (or even for parking). Promotion of motoring at the expense of bicycling and walking would repurpose our roads from public rights of way open to all users into specialized facilities reserved for the privileged.
The only roads legally prohibited to bicyclists and pedestrians in North Carolina are fully controlled access highways, aka freeways. Prohibition from such highways is acceptable only because the full control of access prohibits driveway access between the highways and the adjacent land; the adjacent properties are accessible by other roads that are not fully controlled access and therefore open to bicyclists. The prohibition from fully controlled access highways does not prevent pedestrians and bicyclists from reaching their destinations, but may sometimes require longer routes.
According to the Complete Streets policy adopted by the North Carolina Board of Transportation in July 2009, “[t]he North Carolina Department of Transportation, in its role as steward over the transportation infrastructure, is committed to providing an efficient multi-modal transportation network in North Carolina such that the access, mobility, and safety needs of motorists, transit users, bicyclists, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities are safely accommodated.” The NCDOT Roadway Design Manual says “It is the responsibility of the Section Engineers and Project Engineers to be assured that all plans, specifications, and estimates (PS&E’s) for federal-aid projects conform to the design criteria in the “A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets” (2011).” That document, also known as the AASHTO Green Book, states: “The bicycle should also be considered a design vehicle where bicycle use is allowed.” It should be clear that bicyclists are intended users of all roadways in North Carolina except fully controlled access highways (freeways), and that it is our government’s job to facilitate this travel, not deter it.
In addition to the important provision that allows vehicles to cross the solid center line to pass slower moving vehicles (a big win for the BWNC and the NC bicycling community), House Bill 959: DOT Proposed Legislative Changes modifies other bicycle safety laws. These new laws will become effective today, October 1st, 2016:
- Allowing vehicles to pass slower-moving bicycles and mopeds in a no-passing zone when all safety requirements are met (and with a very good four foot distance specified- read more here)
- Legalizing the commonly-used right-hand turn signal for right turns (read here)
- Extending motorcyclists’ legal protection as vulnerable road users to bicyclists (read here)
- Updating requirements for a rear light or reflective gear on bicyclists at night (we recommend a rear light – read here for BWNC specific recommendations and here for new rear light requirement)
- Revising the definitions of autocycles and mopeds, and including a new definition for electric assisted bicycles (read here)
Viewers can read the full version of the bill here. BWNC supports the bike safety modifications in the bill and believes that implementation will add to the safety of bicyclists and motorists on public roadways. Thank you all for your comments last December 2015 on NCDOT’s report on the House Bill 232 Bike Safety Law Study report. We believe that the legislature included only the non-controversial parts of NCDOT’s recommendations because all of you spoke up and helped BWNC communicate our position and concerns. NCDOT received about 1,000 comments and the legislature received 1,000s of comments on the HB44 anti-Road Diet Bill last session, so together, we heard reference to a “bicycle movement.”
BWNC was disappointed that the final version removed the provision directing NCDOT to develop a safety education program for motorists and bicyclists. The removal likely happened because the timelines were too tight and there was no new funding. However NCDOT has committed to working with BWNC to develop a comprehensive motorist and bicyclist education program. The education program could help both motorists and bicyclists understand the rules of the road, thereby reducing conflicts.
BWNC is also thankful for NCDOT’s assistance in adding a definition of electric assisted bicycles to the bill so that e-bikes would not be classified under motorcycle laws. BWNC worked closely with NCDOT’s Division of Motor Vehicles and with House and Senate Transportation Leaders – Representatives Torbett, Iler and Shepard and with Senators Rabon and McKissick. Without the electric assisted bicycle definition and exemption from motorcycle laws, “e-bikes” would have been categorized as motorcycles and subject to all those rules and requirements. We believe that without this definition and exemption, “e-bikes” would not be able to be used on our roads, as they could not meet all the specifications of motorcycles. People for Bikes provided expertise from a national perspective and helped answer many questions about this still evolving technology.
Ann Groninger of Bike Law North Carolina provides her insights into the value of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage for bicyclists.
PLEASE DO THIS RIGHT NOW – 100% MUST HAVE INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR BICYCLISTS
Guest Post by Ann Groninger
For at least the past ten years, in group talks, blogs and social media posts, I have been talking about uninsured and underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage for North Carolina bicyclists. Recently Bike Law published this very well laid out article written by Bike Law’s Maine attorney, again urging all bicyclists to increase UM and UIM coverage: http://www.bikelaw.com/2016/06/20/beyond-cell-and-spare-tube-you-need-to-bike-with-auto-insurance/
Yet we don’t seem to be reaching everyone. At least a few times a month we see cases where the driver who caused the crash does not have enough insurance to cover our client’s damages and our client does not have enough underinsured coverage to make up the difference. If the injuries are serious, the financial consequences can be tragic.
Hopefully posting this information on others’ sites will help spread the word. PLEASE TAKE THESE STEPS BEFORE YOU RIDE AGAIN:
- Find your auto insurance declarations page. It should be attached to the front of your policy. If you can’t find it, call your agent to send you a copy;
- Look for UM/UIM coverage. If it says 50/100, that means you have $50,000 to cover you in the event of an injury, $100,000 if more than one covered person is injured in the same crash. However, in North Carolina, you must subtract the at-fault driver’s coverage. So if the driver has the minimum limits of $30,000 and you have $50,000, that gives you an additional $20,000
- Ask yourself, “if I am in a crash and suffer a serious injury (think brain injury, spinal cord injury, anything requiring multiple days of hospitalization and weeks or months out of work) will the amount of MY coverage be enough to cover my damages?” If you think, “well I have health insurance to cover medicals and the driver’s insurance will cover pain and suffering,” think again! Your health insurance may be able to take that $30,000 right out of your pocket.
- Call your insurance agent and tell him/her that you want to increase your UM/UIM coverage to $1,000,000. It will likely cost you an additional $20.00 per month. You do not need to increase your collision coverage (unless you yourself have minimum limits) in order to purchase more UM/UIM. If your insurance agent tells you it can’t be done, switch your insurance company. Most of them will sell you that coverage.
- Read the Maine Bike Law article to find out what other coverage you may need.
- Spread the word to all of your cyclist friends and pester them until they do it!
Attorney Lauri Boxer-Macomber from Maine writes:
While health and disability insurance are important, they are often not enough to comprehensively and fully address all of a person’s or a family’s post-crash losses—which often include lost wages, lost opportunities, permanent impairment, emotional distress, years of pain and suffering, a loss of consortium and other damages. This is why bicyclists may want to think more carefully about their insurance coverage, including their automobile insurance coverage.
As in Maine, what a North Carolina bicyclist may be entitled to in the way of UM/UIM Coverage can often be very complicated and requires interpretation of a combination of your insurance contract, the UM/UIM statute and case law. Further, there are requirements that must be satisfied before you can reach your coverage. Therefore, working with an attorney who not only understands bicycle and personal injury law, but insurance law, is key.
The final word from all of us with Bike Law: “Don’t wait until disaster strikes to do your insurance tune up. Just as you wouldn’t ride with worn-out brakes or thin tires, don’t ride without sufficient UM/UIM. Make sure you and your families have the necessary coverage in the event that anything happens to you. Then, after you take care of all of this paperwork, go back to riding safely and joyfully on the road with the energetic passion of a five-year-old on a big wheel and the wisdom of your collective years, knowledge and experiences.”
Ann Groninger is an attorney based in Charlotte who specializes in bicycling cases. She is also an avid cyclist and cycling advocate.
Make sure you are registered for the 5th Annual NC Bike Summit being held in Asheville on SEPTEMBER 16-17, 2016!!
We are excited to be hosting the Summit in collaboration with Asheville on Bikes. Couple things:
- The program is now available on our summit website here.
- Still spots in the Traffic Safety Skills Class for Cyclists (pre-requisite for LCI) on Thursday.
- Please Register Now here and get your lodging!
- Thank You BCBS of North Carolina for sponsoring our keynote Mike Lydon of StreetPlans (internationally recognized author on Tactical Urbanism, Open Streets).
- Want some fun? Friday night we’ll have a networking reception at New Belgium’s brand new east coast brewery.
So, join cycling experts and advocates, health practitioners, planners, engineers, and more from NC and the southeast as we pedal toward economic development!
Visit here to learn more.
There have been a number of bicycle/car accidents and tragedies this year in the triangle and there are many close calls riders experience each and every week while riding. To encourage safe cycling and to promote positive interactions between bicyclists and drivers, local riders, bike clubs and various organizations will be hosting the Capital Area Ride for Safety (CARS) on September 25th, 2016. This ride will be on Sunday morning roundtrip from Wakefield High School, with a stop in downtown Raleigh at Halifax Mall for refreshments and speakers.
The CARS ride will carry the message across the triangle encouraging bicycling, demonstrate obedience to the law, show proper car/bicycling etiquette, support local tourism, and generate constructive dialogue. The idea is to educate, raise awareness and encourage positive interaction between drivers and bicyclist.
There is a $10 registration fee, and donations are accepted. For the 28.5 mile route, the pace will be strictly 14-15 mph with assistance from the Raleigh Police Department. Riders are welcome to ride to the halfway point, Halifax Mall @ 300 N. Salisbury St, Government Complex and have a ride waiting to return them to Wakefield High School. This is a bicycle ride to publicize awareness about bicycle safety. Key safety messages are:
When passing a bicyclist:
- Slow down
- Look and wait for other traffic
- Change lanes to pass (There is rarely enough room to pass within the same lane)
- Operate in an orderly and predictable manner
- Keep within a single marked lane
- In a narrow lane, ride two abreast (to encourage motorists to use the adjacent lane for passing if your lane is narrow)
For Ride Details – visit event website here
Thanks to Tony Santalucia (Gyros Cycling Club President and Velo4Yellow President); Joe Whitehouse, and Andrew Chan for their leadership as well as the Capital Area Ride for Safety (CARS) Committee in making this event happen.
As you consider the Wake County transit referendum that is on the ballot this November, we would like to point out the connection between walking, biking and public transportation.
People of all ages are expressing interest in getting around without a car. Many urban areas are recognizing that to be prepared for the future, they need to build a modern public transportation system that relieves traffic congestion, grows their economy, and provides new and better transportation options for everyone. With greater investments in transit, improvement in bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure will also need to be made as “first and last mile” solutions.
We need to be able to walk and/or bicycle safely to access transit and likewise, transit expands the destinations that bicyclists and pedestrian can access without a car. BWNC supports greater transportation choice, enhanced investment in infrastructure and a lessening of auto dependence.
For more information visit the Wake County Transit plan,
For answers to frequently asked questions, visit FAQs,
One of our most active board members, Don Kostelec, is moving to Boise, Idaho, to work for Alta Planning & Design. A big loss for BWNC and North Carolina. For the past four or so years, we have valued and benefited from his technical expertise, creative ideas and extensive network of contacts. He is amazing at identify issues and provide examples to illustrate change needed – he sees things that most of us overlook. We will miss his voice advocating for the underserved, under-represented populations in our state. We will also miss his sharp wit that always brightened our day when he shared with us. The state of North Carolina and BikeWalk NC in particular will be losing an important and knowledgeable advocate for walkable, bicyclist-friendly development. Idaho is winning big with his move! We will miss you Don!
On SEPTEMBER 16-17, 2016 we are excited to be hosting the 5th Annual NC Bike Summit in collaboration with Asheville on Bikes. The planning committee has been hard at work and has developed an amazing two days (up to four with the Traffic Skills class and Cyclovia Open Streets event). Our main message is please register now and please get your lodging now. It is a wonderful time to be in the mountains so rooms are filling up fast. We’ve put alternative lodgings on our summit website and can work to arrange home stays. We want you all there when state leaders kick off the summit Friday at 1pm talking about policy, safety and funding now and in the coming legislative session. On Saturday we are pleased to announce Mike Lydon of StreetPlans (internationally renown author on Tactical Urbanism, Open Streets). Want some fun? Friday night we’ll have a networking reception at New Belgium’s brand new eastcoast brewery. So, join cycling experts and advocates, health practitioners, planners, engineers, and more from NC and the southeast as we pedal toward economic development!
Visit here to learn more.