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Charlie Baker says no math while driving, sends road safety bill back to Legislature


Gov. Charlie Baker says a plan by the Legislature to regulate how closely you can drive around bicycles is too confusing.

“As currently written… the passing distance formula presents enforcement and messaging challenges that would undermine the goal of a clearly understood and enforceable standard,” Baker wrote of H.5103, or An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities.

The law included a provision which would have made it illegal for a motor vehicle to pass within a sliding, speed determined distance of a bicyclist or a pedestrian. Proponents say the plan will save lives.

Baker says motorists shouldn’t have to do math while they are driving, and the law should just say how far away from bikes and pedestrians drivers should be.

“I propose instead to establish a consistent three-foot distance requirement,” Baker wrote in sending the bill back to lawmakers. “Clarification is also needed to make sure motorists do not mistake this provision as requiring them to cross the center line to overtake other vehicles.”

Baker also took issue with the bill’s plan to establish a standard 25 mile-per-hour limit on state highways in thickly populated areas.

Baker said that plan was at odds with work being done at the federal level.

“Our federal partners are currently undertaking a comprehensive safety review of the (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices), which will conclude next year with updated requirements for all roadways open to public travel, regardless of jurisdiction,” Baker wrote. “It is prudent for the Commonwealth to implement speed limit and related changes after the federal process concludes to ensure consistency and compliance.”

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