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An emphasis on the safety of bicyclists wherever they ride is one of the hallmarks of a bicycle friendly community. In Indy, the safety of bicyclists has been a very visible issue in 2015-2016, as we have seen several injuries and deaths of cyclists resulting from crashes with motor vehicles. Education efforts directed towards bicyclists and motorists is just one way to help reduce injuries and fatalities. However, safety efforts must be multifaceted and also incorporate meaningful, and enforceable, legal protections. One component of this are laws directed towards protecting Vulnerable Users.

Vulnerable Road User Laws are designed to provide protections for vulnerable users that may be legally using our roadways such as bicyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and equestrians, and in some cases, even construction workers. The laws provide for enhanced penalties should a motorist be involved in a crash with a member of these user groups causing injury to death. Often these penalties do not amount to fully fledged criminal penalties, but more often include increased fines, driver license restrictions, community service. Some of the ordinances also contain provisions regarding the harassment of vulnerable users.

What does a Vulnerable Road User Law Look Like?
VRUL's can take several forms and can be enacted at the state level by the passing of a law for inclusion in the Indiana Code, or locally, through a city ordinance. Ideally, IndyCog would like to see a state level VRUL law enacted. Indiana's state wide advocacy organization Bicycle Indiana has been at the forefront of these state level efforts, and IndyCog fully supports their work on this front. Keep an eye on this page for additional links to information regarding Bicycle Indiana's bike safety initiatives at the Indiana State House.

If a state wide law is not possible, a local ordinance, passed by the Indianapolis City-County Council is the next best option. Indianapolis already has some ordinances in place that would be included in a VRUL, including the 3 foot passing law, but more can be done and IndyCog encourages that more comprehensive statutory provisions be implemented. Below are a few examples of VRUL from around the country.

Washington State Vulnerable User Law

Houston Vulnerable User Ordinance (via Bike Houston)

Additionally, the League of American Bicyclists provides model VRUL's for review on their website, along with additional information.

How Can You Help?
Contact your city council member legislator and encourage them to propose and/or support Vulnerable Road User ordinances and legislation. Contact information for Indianapolis City-County Councilmembers and your state representative and senator can be researched here.
Additionally, sign the Petition below so our elected officials understand that this is an important issue which impacts the safety of multiple user groups, not just bicyclists.