Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Today in South Dakota Bicycle Legislation

The Transportation Committee met today and discussed HB 1131 the “increase road funding” bill. I feared the possibility of an amendment that would make a tax specific for bicycles or riders. My fears were not realized today. The committee amended the bill a few times and then talked about referring the bill to the State Affairs Committee. Upon further consideration they instead deferred discussion to Thursday 2/12. After two hours of HB 1131 Duvall had had enough and her motion to adjourn was readily seconded by Hickey and quickly agreed to by the others over their shoulders no the way out the door.

What about HB 1030 the “3’ passing bill?” It is on Thursday’s 2/5 agenda.
But wait! That’s not all! Remember when Rep Deutsch was being asked to kindly remove his helmet prop from atop his head? Rep Rasmussen indicated she had a bill that is complimentary to his yellow helmet? It has perhaps arrived!

South Dakota now has its very own “reflective & fluorescent clothing” bill. Meet HB 1214. It has not yet been assigned to a committee.
“Any person operating a bicycle on a highway shall wear garments made of fluorescent or reflective material. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.”

I do not like this bill. This bill should not pass. Please don’t let this bill pass. Wardrobe choices should not be legislated.
Here are some arguments against…

In 2010 Sen Jerstad’s 3’ passing bill was amended with a similar requirement. The South Dakota Bicycle Coalition (such as it was) promptly dropped its support of the bill.
The effectiveness of reflective or bright clothing is doubtful. As a bicycle educator I recommend bright clothing as a reasonable option. In practice I wear what I have on. Sometimes my clothes reflect black. Cyclists have visibility problems because they are not willing to ride where drivers are looking. It is also increasingly difficult to ride where drivers are looking. I can’t fit myself between a driver’s face and their cell phone.

Bicycling is the cheapest and most efficient form of transportation in the world. Bicycling is the way many poor people move around. It is not appropriate to legislate what a person should wear to work.
And then there’s SDCL 32-17-25 – with thanks to Jessica for leading me through this...

“Bicycle lamps--Visibility and color--Violation as petty offense.  Every bicycle shall be equipped with a lighted lamp on the front thereof visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of at least three hundred feet in front of such bicycle and shall also be equipped with a reflex mirror or lamp on the rear exhibiting a yellow or red light visible under like conditions from a distance of at least two hundred feet to the rear of such bicycle. A violation of this section is a petty offense.”
See that riders are already required to have a lamp on the front and a reflector or lamp on the back. I fail to grasp the improvement of having the reflective or colorful item on the person rather than the machine.

Also note failure to have lights carries the penalty of “petty offense.” It is provable that lack of lighting is a strong contributor to bicycle/car crashing. The penalty for riding without reflective or fluorescent garments will be a Class 2 misdemeanor which is akin to speeding. The disparity of these two punishments is irreconcilable.
Someday soon this bill will land in a committee. Stay awake.

1 comment:

Caleb said...

My roommate just asked what the level of criminal charge is for driving without headlights. According to 32-17-1, that would be only a petty offense. HB 1214 is clearly out of line with current laws at least in its penalty.