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Package of proposed bike safety measures would honor longtime advocate

Bill Dooley was the hub around which all things bicycle and bicycle safety revolved, the late advocate’s friend and colleague Dorian Grilley told the House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee Tuesday.

Dooley’s name has been attached to a variety of measures aimed at improving bicycling safety, especially for children.

And it could continue.

Dubbed the “Bill Dooley Bicycle Safety Act,” HF677, as amended, would require schools to teach bicycle safety, alter a few active transportation policies, and appropriate $10 million annually for the Safe Routes to School program and $25 million annually for the state’s active transportation program. Additionally, it would clarify the Mississippi River Trail is a state bicycle route and create the Jim Oberstar Bikeway between St. Paul to the Canadian border, also designating it a state bicycle route.

House transportation panel hears bike safety bill 2/7/23

Sponsored by Rep. Steve Elkins (DFL-Bloomington), the bill was laid over for possible omnibus bill inclusion.

The school-related safety provisions would likely be the most important to Dooley, who loved little more than watching classes of bike riders on playgrounds, said Grilley, executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota.

Schools would have options to meet the requirement. A minimum would be adding a few minutes of bike safety to existing bus and pedestrian safety education; a maximum would be full implementation of the physical education ready Walk! Bike! Fun! curriculum that is part of the Department of Transportation's Safe Routes to School Program.

Education and community engagement are relatively inexpensive ways to maximize the return on investment in infrastructure, Grilley said.

The bill would also revive an Active Transportation Advisory Committee that expired in 2018.

MnDOT has informal advisory panels for Safe Routes to School and active transportation that would be combined in this revived committee, according to Erik Rudeen, the department’s director of government affairs.

Grilley said the bill would also amend bike riders’ rules to better match best practices by:

  • allowing riders to continue through a stop, after slowing, if the intersection is clear – sometimes called an Idaho stop;
  • no longer requiring riders to be as far right possible on a roadway, but as far right as they deem safe; and
  • riders could go straight through an intersection from the left side of a dedicated right-hand turn lane rather than needing to go into traffic.

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