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Eye On Boise

Mon., March 12, 2012, 3:24 p.m.

Bill requiring 3 feet to pass bikes on roads heads to full House for amendment

The House Transportation Committee has voted 8-4 to send HB 586, the three-feet to pass bicycles bill, to the full House for amendments. Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, made the motion; he said he wanted to expand the bill to also change another state law that permits bicyclists to ride two abreast in certain circumstances.

Rep. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, said the bill would "ensure the safety of non-motorized transportation using the roadways." It requires motorists to stay 3 feet away from bicyclists or other non-motorized road users 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. In addition to bicyclists, the bill would cover pedestrians, joggers, wheelchairs and horses.

Kurt Holzer, a Boise attorney and avid cyclist, was among several people testifying in favor of the bill. He told the committee, "It is a very balanced approach to the issues that are presented here." The bill, he said, "fixes a problem that is out there on Idaho's roads today," by defining "due care" and requiring all road users to exercise it. "It keeps cyclists from being in the way, and it says there's a reason why it's OK to cross that double line."

Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, said there's already a law requiring motorists to exercise due care when passing a pedestrian or a human-powered vehicle, and he said the 3-foot distance is "just common sense." Bedke said rather than "there oughta be a law," he defaults to "there oughta not be a law."

Jerry Deckard, lobbyist for Associated Logging Contractors, spoke against the bill, saying Idaho's roads are "for commerce." He said, "There's simply no room for this multiple use of highways" on some Idaho roads, he said.
Rep. Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, who said he's a cyclist, said, "This is a good guide. ... The 3 feet is what's new. People don't seem to know how much room to give a bicyclist." Violations would be infractions.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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