Here’s a quick look back at some of the top bicycling-related stories in the state of Kansas, during 2011:
3-Foot Passing: It’s The Law in Kansas — On April 1st, the Kansas House and Senate approved a bill that requires motorists to pass bicyclists at a distance of not less than three feet. The bill also contained a provision that allows vehicle drivers to pass a bicycle in a no-passing zone if it is safe to do so. In addition, the bill contained a so-called “dead red” provision, which allows bicyclists (and motorcyclists) to bypass a malfunctioning traffic control signal (i.e. a red last that won’t detect their presence) after stopping and waiting for “a reasonable period of time”. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed the legislation, and it went into effect July 1st.
The De Soto Bike Ban is History — In September, the De Soto city council voted to repeal the prohibition against non-motorized vehicles on 83rd Street east of the city, ending a painful and embarrassing episode in Kansas bicycling history. A month later, the council listened to testimonials from citizen who wanted the bike ban reinstated, citing safety concerns. Fortunately, sanity prevailed, and the council voted to keep 83rd Street open to bicycles.
At least three Kansas cyclists lost their lives while bicycling this year:
- In June, 8-year-old Makiya Ritthaler was killed by a truck in Halstead.
- In July, Larry Godfrey of Arkansas City suffered from a possible heat stroke and died while bicycling on a rural road in Cowley County.
- In September, Patti Gilliam from New Strawn was struck by lightning while riding her bicycle across John Redmond Reservoir Dam, and died a few days later from her injuries.
Remembering Kansas Bicycling Advocates:
- In February, Ken Cobb, president of the Johnson County Bicycle Club and a passionate and tireless advocate for cycling, passed away in his sleep.
- In April, longtime bicycling advocate Cecile Kellenbarger passed away in Wichita. Cecile was active in the leadership of a number of organizations, including KanBikeWalk, the Oz Bicycle Club, Sunflower Recreational Trails, and Prairie Travelers.
Justice (or lack thereof):
- A Cyclist’s Killer is Convicted in Topeka — Marc Schultz, a Topeka lawyer, who struck and killed Tim Roberts with his car in Topeka in September 2010, pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence, and of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death. He was sentenced to more than five years in prison.
- Driver Convicted of Reckless Aggravated Battery in Lawrence — Scott Young, who assaulted a group of bicyclists in a road rage incident near Lawrence in July 2010, hitting one of them, was convicted of reckless aggravated battery by a jury in Douglas County. He was sentenced to 14 night in jail (free for work during the days) and 18 months on probation.
- Randy Ledbetter, of Perry, was convicted in September of driving under the influence when his SUV struck a bicycle ridden by 40-year-old Michael Anthony Ebron on Highway 24 near Topeka, in 2009. Ledbetter was sentenced to 32 days (7 days in custody and 25 days under house arrest).
Kansas Slips to #23 in Bike Friendly States Ranking — Kansas dropped from #13 to #23 in the annual state rankings from the League of American Bicyclists.
Have I missed any big stories? Please post in the comments!