Bicycle laws wheeled out in state capitols

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While many of us this winter are planning our next cycling adventure, lawmakers in several Western states are considering bills that could change the way we ride. Among the proposals – changes in traffic laws for cyclists and added fees.

Idaho has one of the most contentious proposals. The state currently allows cyclists to ride through red lights “with caution.” State Senator Joyce Broadsword took a whack at that, submitting a bill would require bicyclists to stop at a red light and wait for it to turn green.

The good senator backed off after many bicyclists objected; her amended proposal allows bicyclists to pass through the intersection after stopping and yielding to crossing traffic. The Idaho Journal has been following the case.

The Idaho Statesman says it’s a good idea to let bicyclists slide through those intersections, if they’re clear. Others say red means stop. Period. Don't confuse the issue. You can compare the texts of the original bill S1058 and the replacement bill, S1131 at the Idaho legislative website by following this link and typing in searching for “bicycle”.

In Colorado, the Durango Herald reports a bill passed the House on Friday that would allow bicyclists to ride two abreast on some roads, ride through crosswalks, and signal right turns with their right arm. HB 1218 next goes to the Senate. Updates on the bills progress are available online at the Colorado legislative website. (Opposition to the bill is building. See updated blog.)

Utah legislators have let the air out of HB 49, which required motorists to give bicyclists a 3-foot gap. After it passed the House, the Salt Lake Tribune reported, Senator Curtis Bramble locked the bill up in committee. He said police can already cite motorists who pass bicyclists recklessly, and he would worry that cyclists who ride unsafely would abuse the law.

So far, the bill has gone through several amendments, which can be viewed at the Utah legislative website. The latest substitute HB 49 prohibits motor vehicles from operating “knowingly, intentionally or recklessly” within 3 feet of a moving bicycle unless the motorists “operates the motor vehicle within a reasonable and safe distance of the bicycle.” It also appropriates $20,000 be spent on bicycle safety for one year.

Consumers in California might pay an extra $7 when they purchase new bicycles if AB 1103 passes. The bill, submitted by Assemblywoman Betty Karnette, is designed to encourage recycling of bicycles. Recycling centers would $3 for used bikes that are turned in.

Karnette is handling the bill for Arcata Library Bikes, which collects, repairs, and loans out used bikes. Opponents tell the Fremont Argus that it’s just another tax. You can read the text of the bill here, or check its status at the California legislative website.

Meanwhile, in New Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson is trying to pull the plug on the Bicycle Racing Commission, says the Albuquerque Tribune. The group was set up by a previous governor to study pari-mutuel betting on bicycle racing. Proponents envisioned a network of Japanese-style keirin bicycle race tracks around the state. Opponents say bicycle racing is a sport, and federal law prohibits pari-mutuel betting on sports.

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