The Vermont Legislature approved several changes to the motor vehicle laws dealing with vulnerable highway users and bicyclists which became effective on July 1.
Motor vehicle operators are now required to “exercise due care” when passing vulnerable highway users on Vermont’s highways. The new law also increases the passing distance for a motor vehicle around a vulnerable highway users to four feet. Motor vehicle operators are prohibited from passing another motor vehicle if passing the vehicle could interfere with the use of the highway by a vulnerable highway user. Another provision requires drivers entering a highway from a private road to yield the right of way to vulnerable users who may be approaching that intersection. The new law now says that vehicles turning left must be made at a “safe distance” from a vulnerable highway user.
The Legislature also said that a bicyclist does not have to give hand signals when turning or when significantly slowing down over a distance of 100 feet when the bicyclist cannot give the signals safely. The legislature amended the existing standard that bicyclists must generally ride as near to the right side of a roadway as is “practicable” to specify that bicyclists must ride as near to the right of the improved area of the highway right-of-way as is “safe.” The maximum penalty for violating the requirement that bicyclists ride no more than two abreast and not impede normal and reasonable traffic flow from $25 to $100.