Nov. 7 — To the Editor:
Hats off to the City of Portsmouth for addressing the issues of bicyclist's use of our roadways. In addition to the bike lane on Middle Road, the city also has a master plan for bicycle and pedestrian traffic, available on the city's website. The popularity of bicycles is only going to increase. General Motors has announced that they will be selling e-bikes (electrically assisted bicycles) starting next year. They have unveiled two models aimed at commuters, and obviously they see a significant demand for bikes.
I would like to point out that bicycles are legal road vehicles in New Hampshire, and have the same rights and responsibilities as other road vehicles. With few exceptions bicycles must follow the same laws that apply to motor vehicles. It is illegal to operate a bicycle on a sidewalk in NH, and bicycles are already on equal footing with motorists in the use of roadways (legally, anyway). As a reminder, NH law requires that motor vehicles must give at least 3 feet of clearance when overtaking a bicycle.
On the topic of inspecting and licensing bicycles, a 25 lb. bicycle traveling at bicycle speeds does not pose the same public safety threat that a 4,000 lb. (or more) motor vehicle does traveling at motor vehicle speeds. Can you imagine the chaos if every municipality has their own licensing and inspection requirements for road vehicles? I think our law enforcement officers have higher priorities than the imagined threat from unsafe bicycles.
I would hope that every community starts planning for the increase in bicycle use of our roadways, as it is surely coming. In this age of climate change we need to look at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and increasing the use of bicycles instead of cars is a good start.