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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Time to Reflect: Bike-Passing Bill Gets Complicated

Michael Christensen of the Minus Car Project alerts us that SB 70 is bouncing toward an unpleasant amendment today. The bill would require motorists move over at least three feet to pass cyclists. (never mind that that's impossible on Madison's new tight five-laner.)

Minus Car reports that primary sponsor Senator Sandy Jerstad plans to introduce an amendment today requiring cyclists to wear reflective clothing. If I'm reading the language right, it won't be enough to have reflectors on the bicycle; you'll hae to wear shiny stuff as well.

Now I already have enough fancy bike clothes and reflecto-straps and winky-blinky lights to make me look like flying saucer cruising Lake Herman at night (at 18 miles an hour... not quite advanced alien technology). This amendment wouldn't keep me off my two wheels.

What worries me is that this amendment would criminalize casual bicycle use for 99% of the potential pedaling population. I want to promote bicycle use in South Dakota. I want people to be able to just hop on their bikes and ride the few blocks down to the park or the grocery store to run everyday errands. A sure way to stifle growth in bicycle use is to say to those casual riders that, before they hop on the pedals, they have to put on special clothes.

The way to promote bicycle riding in South Dakota is not to make life harder for cyclists. The way to promote bicycle riding is to enforce the existing pecking order—pedestrians get right-of-way first, then non-motorized vehicles, then motorized vehicles, everywhere. We also need to train drivers to watch the heck out.

Cyclists are on a 30-pound machine. Motorists are piloting a couple thousand pounds with 130 times the momentum. The more damage you can do, the more responsibility you have. Watch for bikes. Move over. And for pete's sake, don't make it any more expensive for folks to get out of their cars and travel under their own power.

Update 2010.02.18 15:15 CST: Mike McDowell and the State Senate roll with me on this one. SB 70 and amendments go down a floor vote.

1 comment:

  1. It's been a long, hard, bizarre path for SB70. This amended version has thrown us all for a loop. I am sure that it was thrown in as an appeasement to a few, but it is far too vague: when do you have to wear reflective clothing, what constitutes reflective clothing, just on the highways or everywhere? I'm all about being safe on the road, but this seems a little ridiculous.


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