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Carmel proposing cycling regulations

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Carmel drivers will have to give a wider berth to cyclists if a proposed new ordinance is passed.

The city council is considering a three-foot passing rule as part of a new ordinance that proponents say could make traveling on two wheels much safer in the city, particularly on the Monon Greenway. Indianapolis already has a similar three-foot passing rule, as do many other cities and states across the nation.

Among the other requirements: cyclists cannot ride more than two abreast on the Monon or any other trail, cyclists cannot pass vehicles stopped at an intersection unless they are in a designated bicycle lane, and motorists cannot turn in front of a cyclist if it may cause a collision or impede the rider’s forward progress.

Pet owners on the greenways aren’t exempted from the new regulations either: also included is a provision banning retractable leashes or leashes longer than six feet in length.

The first infraction would bring a $100 fine, plus court costs. Additional violations would be $250, plus costs.

A copy of the proposed ordinance can be found at http://www.carmel.in.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=3454, starting on page 84.

Attempts to reach Nancy Tibbett, executive director of the advocacy group Bicycle Indiana, were unsuccessful.

Last week, Sheriff Mark Bowen said his department would begin ticketing cyclists disobeying existing traffic laws. Motorists and cyclists on the northwest side of the county have been at odds for some time.

Councilor Ron Carter, the ordinance’s sponsor and an avid cyclist himself, says an education period would be needed before any changes go into effect.

Local cyclist Oran Sands seemed generally pleased with the new regulations, although he would suggest a few tweaks.

“I will say that it needs to be couched as trail behaviors, not just cycling behaviors, because there’s a need for regulation or at least reminders on everyone’s behavior on the trail,” Sands said. “Pedestrians are often clueless or tuned out and have no situational awareness. Cyclists are often trying too hard to get somewhere when the mix of traffic on the trail dictates to do otherwise. … Many of the proposed regulations are actually re-statements of existing laws and rules. A bit of language changed (here and there), and it’s not a bad set of rules.”

The Council’s parks committee will meet Tuesday night in the Caucus Room at City Hall to discuss the ordinance further.


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