Explains laws for bicycles, boats

Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley Jr., chairman of the county’s Traffic Safety Board, has issued a reminder of the rules of the road for drivers and bicyclists.

A law passed in 2010 requires motorists to pass “at a safe distance” when overtaking a bicyclist on the same side of the road. It is commonly referred to as Merrill’s Law because it passed following the death of Merrill Cassell, a cyclist who was struck and killed by a passing bus.

When riding along a road, bicyclists must use a dedicated bike lane if provided or ride near the right-hand curb or edge of the road or upon a usable shoulder. Under the law, bikes must not impede the flow of traffic except when turning left and cannot ride two abreast except on a shoulder or in a bike lane or path if there is enough room. They must ride single file when passing a vehicle, another bicyclist or a pedestrian.

Bicyclists must come to a full stop when entering a roadway. Those age 13 and younger must wear helmets.

Langley also issued reminders about watercraft. Each motorized boat needs to have at least one life jacket that is U.S. Coast Guard-approved and the right size for each person on board. Children under 12 are required to wear them on boats smaller than 65 feet.

Each boat also must have a Type 4, USCG-approved throwable device, a sounding device (horn or whistle), an anchor with line, a mounted fire extinguisher, at least three day/night flares and a navigation and stern light. Consuming alcohol while operating a boat is against the law.

For a free boat safety inspection, call Sgt. Michael Szabo at 845-225-4300.

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