Eye On Boise

On 9-8 vote, House State Affairs introduces 3-foot-to-pass-bikes bill

Rep. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, pitches legislation to require motorists to allow 3 feet of distance when they pass a bicycle; the House State Affairs voted very narrowly - 9-8 - to introduce it. (Betsy Russell)
Rep. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, pitches legislation to require motorists to allow 3 feet of distance when they pass a bicycle; the House State Affairs voted very narrowly - 9-8 - to introduce it. (Betsy Russell)

The House State Affairs Committee has voted 9-8 to introduce legislation to require motorists to stay 3 feet away from bicyclists as they pass them on the road, and also requires bicyclists to ride single-file and stay as far to the right as possible safely, and to get off the road and let vehicles pass if they're slowing down three vehicles who can't pass them with the 3-foot distance. Rep. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, who proposed the bill, said, "More and more people are on rural roads as they walk, as they jog or ride bicycles. ... There is a real danger when automobiles come too close to non-motorized modes of transportation." The bill would cover pedestrians, joggers, wheelchairs and horses.

Several committee members raised objections. Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, said, "The bicyclists and the runners, they don't have much regard for the hazards either. ... They've gotta have some responsibility." Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, said, "I think having a set 3-foot distance is just not manageable. ... I've actually had bicyclists move in front of me to block me from getting around, and then I have to go 3 feet farther? And not all bicyclists are that way, but there are aggressive bicyclists out there."

Rep. Erik Simpson, R-Idaho Falls, said, "I think we do need to do a little bit more to protect cyclists, and I can speak from experience, riding out in the country many, many times I had cars go by me so close that I could literally feel their side mirror just right by my head as they went by me at 50 mph." Rep. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, said, "I think there's a shared responsibility for all those that are operating on the road, and ... this is an opportunity to get us started at least with a discussion."

Here's the close vote to introduce the bill, which clears the way for a full hearing: Voting in favor were Reps. Black, Andrus, Simpson, Guthrie, McGeachin, Elaine Smith, King, Higgins and Buckner-Webb. Voting against were Reps. Loertscher, Crane, Stevenson, Bilbao, Luker, Palmer, Sims and Batt.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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