UPDATE January 28th, 2016: The House Transportation Committee voted 11-0 to defer HB1073 to the 41st day of the session, effectively killing the bill for 2016.
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Attention South Dakota bicyclists and drivers! In certain circumstances, a proposed bill in our state legislature is poised to force bicycles off the road and add confusion for drivers attempting to safely pass vulnerable road users. HB1073 would require bicyclists to stop and move their bicycle off the road in no-passing zones when a faster vehicle is overtaking the bicyclist.
Here is the proposed wording:
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.
Why it’s wrong
This is bill is unnecessary and dangerous to both bicyclist and driver.
The safe passing bill from last year already makes provisions for passing in no-passing zones. There is no need to add the burden of additional legislation. From Chris Parsley, President Falls Area Bicyclists:
The safe passing bill from the 2015 legislative session, 32-26-26.1. states that “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction may partially cross the highway centerline or the dividing line between two lanes of travel in the same direction if it can be performed safely.” This means that even in a striped no passing zone, it is legal for a faster vehicle to pass a bicyclist if it is safe to do so.
Even in a no passing zone, a vehicle moving at 50MPH can pass a bicyclist moving at 15-20MPH very quickly and be back in their lane. That is a part of the reason that extra line was added to the passing law. The function of a no passing zone is such that two vehicles who’s speed differs by 5mph will take a much greater distance to pass.
HB1073 will introduce unsafe conditions for both bicyclist and driver. Bicyclists will have to make unpredictable maneuvers to stop, dismount, and move their bicycle off road while being overtaken by faster vehicles. It is much safer for the bicyclist to continue to move forward and be predictable. The overtaking driver can then pass when safe as provided for in our current passing law.
Also this bill may require bicyclists to negotiate unsafe conditions found in the ditch when exiting the roadway, such as steep dropoffs, cliffs, water, rocks and other hazards.
Our laws should make roads safer for all users not serve as a mechanism to allow one class of road user unfettered access and convenience.
The bill also could affect tourism and could be a discouragement for people seeking healthy activity. This bill appears to target bicyclists as there are no provisions for other types of slow moving vehicles.
What can you do?
At this time, the best course is to attempt to kill this bill in the House Transportation committee. The committee will open discussion and potentially vote on the bill on Thursday, January 28th at 10:00am CST. Please contact members of the House Transportation Committee and, in your own words, explain why this bill is unnecessary and will create dangerous conditions for cyclists.
House Transportation Members:
Statewide Strategy Conference Calls
There are weekly conference calls being organized to fight this bill. Bring you ideas or just listen in to keep up with the current status. The next conference call is scheduled for Tuesday, January 26th at 12:15pm CST. Details are here on the event page.
Update January 23rd – Representative Fred Deutsch posted this information on the Falls Area Bicyclists Facebook page:
1. I worked with Rep. Mike Verchio to moderate his bill. The revised bill retain the sections that the original bill removed. Second, we reworked his new section to now require bicyclists to move off the road WHEN IT IS SAFE when being approached by a faster moving vehicle on a do-not-pass road. Under the rework, bicyclists do not need to stop. Further, under the rework there is no mention of the shoulder. What that means, regardless if there is a shoulder, if the cyclist deems it unsafe to exit the road, the cyclist does not have to exit the road.
2. Chris Parsley has a bill that is circulating that would remove the requirement that cyclists must ride as close to the right edge of the road as practicable and instead allows cyclists to take the lane. When an approaching vehicle comes from behind, the cyclists is required to move to the right side of the lane.
There is concern about cyclist safety on West River no-pass no-shoulder winding roads, particularly relating to trucks, logging, farm and other large vehicles. Chris’s bill is definitely the better of the two bills, but I don’t know if it has the support to pass. If you have other suggestions on what should be done to further moderate Rep. Verchio’s bill, please let me know. It should be available to the public to review in a few days.
The new legislation is referenced above is exciting but also adds the risk of unwanted amendments being added at the last minute. Representative Deutsch also states that this new legislation may not have support to pass and still encourages people to try to kill HB1073 in committee:
The bicycle community needs to make a strong outreach to legislators via email and committee testimony to kill the bill.