Friday, March 5, 2010

Committee Accepts Biker Sanctions, will Tweak Driver Sanctions

Posted By on Fri, Mar 5, 2010 at 2:52 PM

On Thursday, the Senate Transportation Committee easily passed two measures aimed at limiting cyclist behavior, but will tweak the two bills that seek to establish controls on motorists in their interactions with bikes on the road.

A group of cycling enthusiasts, runners, and local law enforcement along with Idaho gold medalist and all-around beloved heroine Kristin Armstrong, who commanded nigh audible oohs and aahs, presented a package of bike safety measures to the Senate Transportation Committee.

The bills come from Senator Elliot Werk of Boise, an avid cyclist, and are co-sponsored by Sen. Diane Bilyeu and Rep. James Ruchti . They all relate to what Werk calls "vulnerable road users," and seek to clear up the hazy world of road sharing.

"These are road safety bills. The idea, as a package, they represent amendments to code to make our roads safer. The physics on the road are very very dramatic when it comes to runners or cyclists and vehicles," said Werk.

The two bills that attempt to "balance" the package by adding some restrictions onto cyclists, were given a "do pass" recommendation and sent to the full Senate. 1349, the so called "fixie bill" requires brakes on all bikes, and prohibits cyclist from "darting out" off of sidewalks. 1351 provides a fund into which traffic violation income from the other bills can be used to fund Idaho Transportation Department's Safe Routes to School program.

The other two bills directly address interactions between cars and bikes, but both were sent to the amending order where anyone can attempt to tune them up. 1348 allows them the oft-quoted "3 feet to pass" safety net (a yard stick was brandished in committee to demonstrate that distance), along with the stipulation that riders need to pull off the road if they're holding up three or more cars. 1350 tacks on a $75 fee to those who would harass cyclists.

The committee got hung up on the passing and harassment language, specifically the clause stating that motorists who "sound a horn, shout or otherwise direct sound" toward vulnerable road users would incur such a civil penalty. Testimony against 1348 from a lobbyist for the log truck drivers did not help.

Both 1348 and 1350 were sent to the 14th order by Sen. Joyce Broadsword, who took a motherly possessive interest of log truck drivers, calling them, "my drivers." Werk remains positive that a few small tweaks will get the bills through the Senate.

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