Press Release - Bike Baton Rouge statement on Senate Bill No. 171

Baton Rouge, LA

On behalf of thousands of bicyclists in Baton Rouge, Bike Baton Rouge would like to voice our support for the proposed Senate Bill No. 171 to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee C on Tuesday, April 12th. The bill in question increases penalties for motorists who injure or kill other road users due to distracted or dangerous driving. It would provide much needed protection for bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and all other road users who are not traveling inside a motor vehicle.

In August of 2015, the Center for Disease Control released a report ranking Louisiana third in the nation for bicyclist deaths per capita. Fifteen percent of Louisiana traffic fatalities take the life of a pedestrian, bicyclist or other Vulnerable Road User. It is an unfortunate truth that bicycling or walking in Louisiana can be a dangerous activity.

The legal means to penalize those motorists who make it dangerous are few and far between. It is all too common for drivers who are involved in crashes that kill or maim pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists to escape prosecution entirely, such as the case of Baton Rouge resident Gordon Mese, who was riding a bicycle when he was hit by a driver who ran a stop sign in August 2015. Gordon suffered severe injuries and was forced to close his business while he recovered, while the driver who hit Gordon escaped with just a fine for running the stop sign.

Senate Bill No. 171 is modeled on similar bills which have already passed in nine other states. Each has proved to be successful at both decreasing injury and fatality rates amongst the most vulnerable of road users and increasing penalties on drivers who choose to break the law.

We are of the opinion that Senate Bill No. 171 is a common sense law that will do a great deal to help protect the pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists of Louisiana. We urge the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee C to pass Senate Bill No. 171.
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Mika Torkkola
225 571 2906

Bike Baton Rouge is a local non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization and has been dedicated to making bicycling trips in Baton Rouge safer and more enjoyable since 2006.