In 2008, the state of Connecticut issued a law requiring all motorists to provide at least three feet of separation space when passing another motorist or cyclist. However, few drivers seem to know that this behavior is required, much less that violating it is considered an infraction of state law. Therefore, to increase awareness, a New England cycling club has created safety signs, which will be installed along several roads in Newtown, CT.
When the warm weather returns, Newtown plans to start installing the safety signs, which depict a bicyclist and an automobile moving side-by-side along a road, indicating three feet of space between them. The signs were requested by the Sound Cyclists Bicycle Club, one of the largest cycling groups in New England. To promote the safety of their members and other cyclists, as well as educate local motorists, the club will provide the signs to the town for free.
Newtown plans to use the signs along roads that are most often used by cyclists. While the exact roads have yet to be decided, potential roads include Poverty Hollow Road, Hattertown Road, Toddy Hill Road, Currituck Road, Hanover Road, Botsford Hill Road, High Bridge Road, Huntingtown Road, Brushy Hill Road, Castle Hill Road and Plumtrees Road.
The signs were recently approved by the town’s Police Commission as part of their role as the local traffic authority. However, officers have stated that the signs should be considered informational, and are not compliant with state traffic signage regulations. Despite this, the town’s Police Chief has endorsed posting the signs on local roads, even if they are unable to do so on state roads without state approval.
“Public safety is one of the biggest and most important uses for signage–especially on our roadways,” says Mike Butler, President, Landmark Sign Company. “With more and more bicyclists sharing the road with automobiles in more and more places, with increased distractions for everyone in and out of their automobiles, adding signs that are constantly reminding everyone to safely “share the road” is a good idea. It keeps everyone more aware of each other.”
Currently, Newtown has not set an official date to install the signs, likely because their harsh New England climate makes it difficult to determine when this will be possible. However, Fred Hurley, the Town Director of Public Works, says he expects the town to start posting the signs as soon as the weather permits. Already, the Police Commission has unanimously endorsed a plan to have the town Highway Department conduct the installation process.