BURLEY • A bill to improve bicycle safety in Idaho has failed to reach a committee vote, and will die in the waning days of this year’s legislative section.

H.586 was introduced by Rep. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, but stalled after its introduction and has been dormant for about two weeks. It would have required drivers to give bicyclists extra space while passing them on the state’s roads, but after Lacey’s fellow legislators sent it back for revision, its progress halted.

“Rather than take a chance on bad legislation, I’m just going to let it die there,” Lacey said Monday, adding that some legislators wanted to amend the bill in ways that would have “ruined the bicycling experience for cyclists.”

Similar bills have been introduced four times, only to fail. This is the second try by Lacey, a cyclist himself.

His proposal would have banned motorists from passing bicyclists – or runners, horseback riders or people in wheelchairs – when there’s oncoming traffic unless they can safely do so while maintaining at least a three-foot separation between the vehicle’s outermost right side and the person being passed.

To prevent worries of traffic jams, the bill would have required bicyclists to turn off the roadway when three or more vehicles line up behind them. It would also order them to ride single file and as close to the right side of the road as possible.

Minidoka County Sheriff Kevin Halverson said a similar bike safety ordinance failed to find favor in his county last year.

Now that the state bill died, Minidoka County officials will take a look at another draft of the local bike safety ordinance.

Halverson said the law won’t necessarily change motorists’ habits now, but will pay off five or 10 years down the road by changing the mindset of young drivers.

“The main thing is bringing public awareness and educating drivers,” Halverson said.

He said most close calls come from inattentive driving rather than from motorists’ deliberate actions.

But, Halverson said, cyclists are sometimes their own worst enemies and have to take responsibility for their actions.

“It needs to be a two-way street,” he said.

Alice Schenk, cyclist and proponent of improving bike safety in Idaho, said the new law would have at least created more awareness.

Schenk lost one of her friends, Lona Hymas-Smith, when the Burley artist was struck from behind while riding March 9 on U.S. Idaho 30, west of Burley.

“Maybe people would say there is a new law on the books and become more aware that cyclists have rights and are out on the road,” Schenk said.

Schenk, who has encountered her own close calls with vehicles while riding her bicycle, said bike riders really need a 10-foot safety zone from vehicles.

“When a vehicle buzzes us, they don’t understand how truly fragile we are out there,” Schenk said. “We have the right to be on the road, too, and we don’t want to be killed out there. Just give us a little margin of safety out there.”

(6) comments

KES
KES

I'm not surprised. You'd think that after Lona Smith's death, that State Legislators would recognize the need for increased safety - guess not.I've been spinning pedals for well over 50 years, consistently - still do, and I'm obviously still alive. After a several frightening near-misses over the years, I've changed my gutter-riding habits and now take-the-lane -- Yes, against Idaho Statute recommendations, I ride near the center on MY lane. This assures that drivers see me and force them to either slow down, or pass using the oncoming lane - not unlike farm tractors. Yes, I eventually move to the fog line when it's safe to do, to allow safe vehicle passing. Perhaps if Lona would've taken the lane too, then Mr. Burt wouldn't have been so inclined to squeeze between her and the oncoming vehicle - obviously, at a speed which killed.

mommybear
mommybear

I always am sad when someone dies. People need to be careful, however some roads in this county are not adequate and safe for bicycles. So what could legislatures do to make roads safer other than spending a lot more money on Road projects? No new law is going to change drivers or bicyclists. There will always be some drivers who are unsafe and there will always be some on bikes who are unsafe! Both need to be safer! Those on Bikes should use better judgement and not ride on roads that are two narrow, and drivers need to slow down when passing and look out. Bikers need to pay attention and Drivers need to pay attention! Mistakes happen on the road, and usually it is the biker who suffers the most when it happens. I suppose that is a risk Bikers take when they drive on roads that are not safe. As sad as it is and horrible as it is to say, the fact remains, human error kills and no law will stop that!!

KES
KES

[quote]mommybear said: "No new law is going to change drivers or bicyclists."[/quote]

We disagree; Any prudent legislation geared towards improved safety for cyclists & pedestrians may, or may not be initially effective, yes. However, when incidents like Lona Smith are repeated, it provides criminal and civil leverage for the victim after the fact.

[quote]mommybear said: "Those on Bikes should use better judgement and not ride on roads that are two narrow,..."[/quote]

You are obviously not a cyclist.

When a 2-lane roadway is substandard width, the cyclist should take-the-lane and avoid the edge. This is done for two decisive reasons;

1. You are seen and recognized much sooner, and become an obstacle to approaching motorists, which then, are forced to slow down and wait for a safe opportunity to pass. The scenario is no different than a motorist approaching a farm tractor.

2. Not unlike a motorist, taking-the-lane gives the cyclist more real-estate on his/her immediate right in the even they need to take evasive action. Riding on the roadway edge (a.k.a. 'gutter galloping), especially when a curb is present, is verifiably dangerous and effectively eliminates the safety option.

Bob T
Bob T

[quote]KES said: ".... After a several frightening near-misses over the years, I've changed my gutter-riding habits and now take-the-lane -- Yes, against Idaho Statute recommendations, I ride near the center on MY lane. This assures that drivers see me and force them to either slow down, or pass using the oncoming lane - not unlike farm tractors.... "[/quote]

KES Idaho Statute 49-717 allows you to ride exactly like you describe. It states that cyclists should ride as close to the right at practicable but it gives several exceptions, one of which is substandard width lanes. A substandard width lane is defined as one that is too narrow for a motor vehicle and bicycle to travel safely side by side within the lane. Engineering studies have determined that the minimum width for a shared lane is 14 feet.

KES
KES

[quote]Bob T said: "KES Idaho Statute 49-717 allows you to ride exactly like you describe. It states that cyclists should ride as close to the right at practicable but it gives several exceptions, one of which is substandard width lanes. A substandard width lane is defined as one that is too narrow for a motor vehicle and bicycle to travel safely side by side within the lane. Engineering studies have determined that the minimum width for a shared lane is 14 feet."[/quote]

Yes. Interestingly enough, I measured the travel lane width on Hwy 30, approx. 4.5 mi west of Burley, (between the center white line and the fog line) at 12' 3". I'll let the reader establish their own conclusions.

Bob T
Bob T

[quote]KES said: "Yes. Interestingly enough, I measured the travel lane width on Hwy 30, approx. 4.5 mi west of Burley, (between the center white line and the fog line) at 12' 3". I'll let the reader establish their own conclusions. "[/quote]

"Lane widths of 13 feet (4.0 m) or less require most motor vehicles to be driven at least part way into the next lane to pass a bicyclist with an adequate and comfortable clearance (usually 3 ft [0.9 m] or more depending on the speed of the passing vehicle). Lane widths of 14 feet (4.3 m) or greater enable motorists to pass bicycles without encroaching into the adjacent lane."

http://www.plancheyenne.org/Bike%20Plan/Planning%20Documents/Draft%20AASHTO%20Guide%20for%20Planning,%20Design%20and%20Operation%20of%20Bicycle%20Facilities.pdf

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