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Gov. Deal Vetoes the Flagpole Crosswalk Act

Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have required drivers to stop at crosswalks when beacons are flashing—not because he wants you to get run over, necessarily, but because he’s worried about the implications for cyclist safety.

State Rep. Spencer Frye’s Flagpole Crosswalk Act” was not called up for a vote during the legislative session that ended in April. However, Frye grafted it onto another transportation bill that would have allowed motorcycle and bike riders to proceed through a red light if they believed their vehicles were too light to trigger a signal change.

Currently, the law only requires vehicles to stop at crosswalks when a pedestrian steps in or near the lane the vehicle is traveling. Frye’s language would have required them to stop when beacons are flashing at signalized crosswalks like those on Prince Avenue at The Grit and Thomas Street at the Classic Center, as well as making it illegal to activate the beacons without an intention to cross.

Here’s Deal’s veto statement:

Senate Bill 76 would allow motorcycle and bicycle operators to enter an intersection without providing a definitive regard to the traffic signal in instances where the lightweight nature of their vehicle will not activate a traffic-control device. While I am sympathetic to the concerns and causes of motorcyclists and bicyclists, this legislation does not provide an adequate solution and presents a confusing exception to motorists. Furthermore, Senate Bill 76 would eliminate the current 15-inch height restriction placed on motorcycle handlebars. Motorcycles equipped with handlebars more than 15 inches in height pose a safety hazard due to the increased difficulty in steering and decreased control. In 2014, crashes involving motorcycles and bicycles accounted for 13 percent of the fatalities on Georgia roads, and I do not see how this legislation will enhance roadway safety. Therefore, in the interest of providing the necessary roadway safety Georgians deserve, I hereby VETO Senate Bill 76.

Frye’s standalone bill will remain alive for next year’s session.