Dozens of bicyclists road their bikes to the Sabalu Market early Saturday morning to witness the signing of a bill into Public Law 18-24 that now requires motorists to maintain at least three feet of space when passing bicyclists or until there is enough room to pass safely.
Gov. Eloy Inos signed the bill and said he was happy to do so after witnessing a group of bicyclists at this year’s Fourth of July parade wearing shirts that stated, “Give us three feet”—of roadway, that is.
“This is ideal because we have so many bicyclists now and we really need that road safety to protect not just the bicyclists but also the drivers,” said Kanae Quinn, herself a bicyclist and “Hell of the Marianas” race director. “We should all be working together on the road to be safe and promote biking. This law is a great step forward [to protecting bicyclists]”
The bill, authored by House floor leader Ralph Demapan (Cov-Saipan), mandates that no vehicles may be operated to the left side of the center line of the roadway when passing another vehicle or bicycle in the same direction unless the left side is clearly visible and is free of incoming traffic for a sufficient distance.
Motorists will now have to allow a distance of not less than 3 feet when passing a bicyclist heading in the same direction.
Many bicyclists that were at the proclamation singing wore the neon yellow shirts that kindled the creation of the bill.
One cyclist said that he came close to getting into an accident while biking and, on one occasion, a car brushed against him.
“This law will prevent many accidents from happening,” he said. “The roads are now safer. We just need to do our part to follow the law.”
Demapan shared that he would like the Marianas Visitors Authority to make tourists aware of the new law so that they can exercise appropriate safety measures when driving around the island.
As of last month at least 23 states have passed similar laws that protect bicyclists and require motorists to exercise caution on the road.