EASTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Bicyclists in Easthampton will find major changes to where they can ride after the city council approved a new ordinance.

Bicycles will now be treated exactly like cars, anywhere in a lane.

Western Mass News spoke with a city councilor, who said the ordinance is their way of bringing Easthampton up to speed with bike laws in neighboring towns and the state as a whole.

It takes away an ordinance that required cyclists to stay to the far right of the street.

You could call it a push to be more green or more active, but some people say they’ve seen more cyclists on the road.

"A lot of people that I know have been hit by cars or been door’ed," said Sarah Osgood.

Bicyclists say they would like to see more respect on the road and brought their concerns to the city council.

In an 8-1 decision last week, the council changed the way you could ride a bike on city streets.

You can now use the full lane of roadway going in the same direction as the cars, instead of just staying to the right side of the street.

“They went through a fairly painstaking explanation of why it mattered," said City Councilor Margaret Conniff.

Easthampton Councilor at-large Margaret Conniff spoke via Facetime to explain why bicyclists need to use more than just the right side of the lane.

“You can own the lane, meaning you can drive in the middle of the lane, which makes it safer so that cars understand that if they are going to pass you but they don't have to squeeze by within the lane there in and potentially hit or clip bike riders, Conniff explained.

Bicyclists told Western Mass News the law makes them feel more secure.

“I definitely feel like being able to take up more space and feeling the agency to do that will make me more visible," Osgood added.

"If you don't have to be confined to that tiny piece of end of the road it will really what's a promote biker safety," said Kyle York.

For the drivers anxious about sharing more space with cyclists, the city council said those on two wheels will be held to the same standard as those on four.

"You have to obey every street sign. You have to be like a car and obey everything. It doesn't give you the freedom to just ride around the streets and do whatever you want," Conniff added.

Coniff added that the council plans to look into launching an educational campaign to inform both drivers and bicyclists on the safest way to share the road together.

Western Mass News also checked in with Easthampton police to see if this would have any affect on their patrols but we haven’t heard back.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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