La. R.S. 32:76.1 - Colin Goodier Protection Act
The Colin Goodier Protection Act is contained in Section 76.1. It places several legal requirements on motorists who overtake and pass bicyclists while traveling in the same direction on a roadway. First, the motorist must exercise due care. The importance of this requirement (which was actually added by 2010 Act No. 618) lies in its use to an injured cyclist in collecting damages from a negligent motorist. Second, the motorist must leave a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet, maintaining its distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle. Further, the motorist may not pass a bicyclist in a no-passing zone unless it is safe to do so. These provisions go a long way to remedying the risks inherent in motorist/bicyclist interactions and they lie at the heart of the legislative efforts of the Goodier family and the cycling community.
In addition to these important requirements, Section 76.1 has 4 more provisions. It directs the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Office of Motor Vehicles, to include a summary of Section 76.1 in any instructional publication for drivers. The section directs the Department of Transportation and Development to place signs in areas frequently used by bicyclists in an effort to make motorists aware of the need to share the road with bicyclists. The section’s third direction is aimed at the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, who is directed to engage in a public awareness campaign to notify motorists and bicyclists of the section’s provisions. Finally, the section provides for a fine of up to $250 for violations.
La. R.S. 32:201 - Harassment of bicyclists prohibited; penalties
The tandem section of Section 76.1, passed in the same Act No. 147 in 2009, is Section 201. Section 201 is entitled “Harassment of bicyclists prohibited; penalties.” This section makes it unlawful to harass, taunt, or maliciously throw objects at or in the direction of any person riding a bicycle. It also provides a penalty for violations of no less than $200 or imprisonment for up to 30 days.
La. R.S. 32:197 - Riding on roadways and bicycle paths
In addition to these two sections, an additional protection was added by Act No. 618 of 2010 in the form of prohibitions against motor vehicles operating in designated bicycle lanes. The general rule is that no one may operate a motor vehicle in a bicycle lane, subject to three exceptions. A motor vehicle may enter the bicycle lane (1) to prepare for a turn within a distance of 200 feet from the intersection; (2) to enter or leave the roadway onto an alley, private road, or driveway; or (3) to enter or leave a parking space where parking is permitted. In any of these events, the motor vehicle must yield the right-of-way to all bicycles in the bicycle lane. Finally, the law allows a motor vehicle to operate in the bicycle lane in case of emergency, but must act prudently to prevent injury and must leave the lane when the emergency ends.
These sections are the Louisiana Legislature’s attempt to better protect bicyclists. It is important that both bicyclists and motorists become aware of these protections. Bicyclists need to know their rights vis-a-vis motorists on roadways, and they must be ready and willing to defend and enforce those rights when motorists violate them. Motorists need to be careful and respectful when approaching bicyclists on the roadway. After all, bicyclists have the right to ride on state roadways, and no motorist should escape liability for injuring or intimidating bicyclists behaving within their rights.