Stupid Cycling Laws 2.

By | February 12, 2016

Stupid Cycling Laws 2. 

It is the beginning of the year.  This means that the state legislatures are in session.  It is the time when budgets are set and new laws are proposed, debated and enacted.  Unfortunately, sometimes these laws adversely affect cyclists.  So last year I wrote a little piece titled Stupid Cycling Laws.  It turned out to be a very popular piece which garnered a lot of attention.  Barb Chamberlain the Executive Director of WABikes a Washington State bicycling advocacy non-profit found and responded to the post.  Unfortunately, this year nothing has changed.  Idiot lawmakers are still proposing stupid laws which if enacted will adversely affect cyclists.  So once again it is time to point out some of the stupidity and remind you to take action and stop these bills from becoming laws.  Some of the most overtly idiotic proposed laws come from Missouri and South Dakota.

Missouri.

The inept lawmakers in the state of Missouri have a history of trying to enact ridiculous legislation to hamper

Missouri's Jay Houghton.  The face of stupid bike laws!

Missouri’s Jay Houghton. The face of stupid bike laws!

cyclists right to use PUBLIC roads.  Last year Rep. Craig Redmon proposed legislation requiring cyclists to carry insurance.  An insurance requirement is unenforceable, useless and designed to make cycling less accessible.  This year’s stupid Missouri legislation comes from

Jay’s legislative assistant is Jessica Kent.  She is the person you will speak to if you call Jay’s office.  This year Jay proposed House Bill 2046.  The text of the bill is as follows:

307.189. Every bicycle, as defined in section 307.180, operating upon a lettered 2 county road shall be equipped with a flag clearly visible from the rear and suspended not 3 less than fifteen feet above the roadway when the bicycle is standing upright. The flag 4 shall be fluorescent orange in color. 

A fifteen-foot flag?  That has to be the single most stupid thing I have ever heard of.  I have an idea where Jay can stick his 15’-0” flag.  According to this article in the Springfield News Leader, even Houghton admits that this law is ridiculous.  Isn’t it a waste of legislative time and tax payer money to propose intentionally ridiculous legislation?  Luckily, Houghton’s stupid legislation is not currently on the house calendar.  However, Representative Houghton is no stranger to stupid bike hater legislation.  In the past he proposed a law banning cyclists from state highways.  This is one moron to keep an eye on. This nitwit clearly has a hatred of cyclists.

South Dakota 

If you thought Missouri was working on some stupid cycling laws wait until you read about South Dakota.  House Bill 1073 is not only stupid; it is downright dangerous.  The text of the bill is as follows:

32-20B-5. Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. However, a person operating a bicycle may move from the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway to overtake and pass another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction, to prepare for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or roadway, or to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, or surface hazards, or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

If a person is operating a bicycle within a no passing zone on a roadway that has no shoulder or a shoulder of less than three feet in width, the person shall stop the bicycle, move the bicycle off the roadway, and allow a faster vehicle to pass.

A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

 

south-dakota

The South Dakota Capitol. Dummies work here!

Wait what?  A misdemeanor?   Seriously?  Who is the idiot who came up with this?   Oh wait, there are lots of idiots in the South Dakota house and senate.  This bill has a lot of sponsors.  They include:

 

Representative Mike Verichio District 30

  • Home: 605 574 2466
  • Capitol: 605 773 3851

Representative Blaine ‘Chip’ Campbell District 35

  • Home 605-393-1645
  • Capitol 605-773-3851
  • Business 605-484-4848

 

Representative Dennis Feickert, District 01

  • Home 605-225-5844
  • Capitol 605-773-3851
  • Business 605-216-3451

 

Representative Patrick Kirschman, District 15

  • Home 605-366-4798
  • Capitol 605-773-3851

 

Representative J. Sam Marty, District 28B

  • Home 605-866-4477
  • Capitol 605-773-3851

 

Representative Steven McCleerey, District 1

  • Home 605-698-7478
  • Capitol 605-773-3851
  • Business 605-698-3749

 

Representative Lee Qualm, District 21

  • Home 605-337-3682
  • Capitol 605-773-3851
  • Business 605-337-3682

 

Representative Nancy Rasmussen, District 17

  • Home 605-238-5321
  • Capitol 605-773-3851

 

Representative Dean Schrempp, District 28A

  • Home 605-964-6541
  • Capitol 605-773-3851
  • Business 605-365-7367

 

Representative Dick Werner, District 22

  • Home 605-353-0957
  • Capitol 605-773-3851
  • Business 605-350-1371

 

Representative Larry Zikmund

  • Home 605-373-0975
  • Capitol 605-773-3851

But wait!  There’s more!  This inane bill also has South Dakota State Senate Sponsorship.  The sponsors include the following nit wits:

Senator Bruce Rampelberg, District 30

  • Home 605-343-9703
  • Capitol 605-773-3821

Senator Jeff Monroe, District 24

  • Home 605-224-0264
  • Capitol 605-773-3821
  • Business 605-224-0264

Senator Betty Olson, District 28

  • Home 605-855-2824
  • Capitol 605-773-3821
  • Business 605-855-2824

 

Spend some time looking at the middle aged, white, doughy, men and (2) women who sponsored this nonsense and it is clear that none of them have ridden a bike since childhood.  Even more telling is that most of these lawmakers are farmers and ranchers.  I grew up in a rural area, I know from experience that farmers and ranchers frequently move their farming implements from place to place on public roads.  These machines are often huge heavy incredibly slow and in the case of manure spreaders smell like shit.  Where is the outrage when they block traffic?  Shouldn’t they be required to drive their $1million dollar combines into the nearest ditch when they hold up traffic?  This proposed legislation is not only arbitrary and arbitrary; it puts cyclists at increased risk.

If I am riding in a no passing zone without a shoulder and a vehicle approaches, where exactly am I supposed to go?  Am I supposed to jump in the roadside ditch?  Should I hop over the guardrail?  Do you suppose the motorists will wait patiently while I stop my bike, unclip and carry my bike to the nonexistent shoulder so that his royal highness, the motorist may pass?  Hell no!  I don’t like to have cars behind me when I cycle.  I will get out of the way and let them pass, when it is safe to do so.  This legislation makes it illegal for me to take the lane when it may be the safest option.   The other way this stupid law places cyclists at risk, is it justifies some driver’s boorish bullying behavior.

There is not a day that I ride my bike, whether it is commuting or on a recreational ride that I am not aware that I am in the minority.  Our network of streets and roads are PUBLIC property, but some small minded motorists believe that since they own a car, they own the road.  As such they are inclined to punish anyone who has the nerve to occupy ‘their’ road.  While riding, people have honked, flipped me off, close passed (punish passed), thrown things at me, swore at me and even gotten out of their car to fight me.  Instead of educating people that we all share the public road, this piece of legislation enforces the us versus them mentality.  Instead of protecting vulnerable road users, this proposed law puts a target on their back.  People will get hurt thanks if this legislation becomes law.  It also means that my bike and I will not be traveling to South Dakota.

South Dakota is not a cycling mecca by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly has some bucket list attractions.  Riding the Badlands and Black Hills would be awesome!  In addition, the Ride Across South Dakota (RASDAK) is a small ride, but looks like a lot of fun.  In one week’s worth of riding you gain 16,697  feet and travel 524 miles.  If House Bill 1073 becomes law, I will scratch South Dakota off my bucket list.  I will not ride anywhere where the law makes me a target.

Iowa

dotzler

Senator Bill Dotzler. Thank you for proposing some good cycling legislation for a change!

Thanks to my participation in RAGBRAI the last three years, Iowa has become an adopted home.  I have had a great time on each of my visits.  It remains to be seen if I will be returning this year to ride my 4th RAGBRAI.  It all depends if I can get some friends to ride with me.  Anyway happily, Iowa has shown that not all proposed legislation affecting cyclists is bad.   SF2076 is a proposed law which would improve cyclist safety.  Senate File 2076 requires drivers to change lanes when passing cyclists.  It also states that paved shoulders and bike lanes are travel lanes.  The bill would prohibit drivers from passing unreasonably close to these areas.  Senator Bill Dotzler a Democrat from District 31 in Iowa proposed SF2076.

Senator Bill Dotzler, District 31

I prefer change lanes to pass laws to the typical 3’-0” passing rule.  It is a more uniform standard which is easy to understand, teach and enforce.  It is also more uniform than the 3’-0” law requiring the same procedure to pass a motorist, motorcycle or cyclist.  Read more about the proposed legislation here.  Currently the Senate File has been returned to committee, but feedback from the public can bring the proposal back to life.

What now?

So if you live in Missouri or South Dakota what can you do to stop this stupid legislation?  If you live in Iowa what can you do to encourage the change lanes to pass law?  I can tell you from personal experience that your voice can be heard at the local and state level of politics.  I have lobbied my state representatives in my state.  Your representatives are surprisingly accessible and open to feedback.  Thanks to the google, they are also very easy to find.  At the very minimum, I would make a phone call or send an e-mail explaining who you are, where you are from and why you support of oppose the proposed legislation in question.  You can take it a step further and make an appointment to speak to your representative in person.  If a piece of legislation is not sponsored by your state representative, I would call the sponsor of the bill and my representative to explain your position and why they should support/oppose the bill in question.  It may also be a good idea to get involved with local cycling advocates who can unite people to more effectively lobby your representatives.  Your local cycling advocacy group will likely have a list of local legislation to support or oppose.

You likely don’t live in South Dakota, Missouri or Iowa; but your state may be working on its own cycling related legislation.  You may say that getting involved in politics sounds like a lot of effort, but it is a lot easier than dealing with the effects of stupid laws or not having a law that will protect my safety.  This sort of lobbying can have a real impact.  Thanks to the actions of people like me and our local cycling advocacy groups work over the course of a couple years, my state enacted a vulnerable user law and a three foot passing law.  Awesome!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.