New Bike Friendly Laws – Can it happen?

This morning I met with State Representative Ethan Orr to discuss bicycle friendly legislation that might be introduced next session. Bob Morken Jr. also joined us.

Last year two bills were introduced into the state legislature that related to cycling, but both did not make it past committee. In addition to discussing what bills he would support we also talked about what strategy he would use to actually get them passed. On that front, Otto von Bismarck said it best “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”

The great news is that we had no shortage of ideas. Many were discussed, but did not make the list as they are not in the state legislators control. Others would be great if Bikes were the dominant mode of transportation, but at this time are not practical and would never be passed. The following list are the ideas we think might stand a chance of becoming law.

1- One idea definitely seemed to garnish the most attention from people I polled before the meeting. It was the Idaho Stop. This would allow cyclist to yield at stop signs. There is considerable research to show most bicycle accidents happen in intersections. Allowing bikes to coast though will actually reduce those numbers.

2- The fines that cars face for breaking the existing laws are not very tough at this time. If you look at DUI tickets they progressively get more expensive for repeat offenders. The same should be in place for the 3 foot law and other bike related laws.

3- Allow video/media evidence to be used in ticketing unsafe and illegal driving.

4- Drivers education and looking at the existing questions on the license to include more about bicycle related laws and the rights of cyclist on the road. Additional literature sent out with yearly vehicle registrations alerting drivers of all new laws pertaining to driving.

5- A law that will legally allow cars to cross a double yellow line in order to give the cyclist 3 feet.
Based on many questions that Ethan asked it became clear that I am not an expert on what the existing laws are. There is definitely a need to be educated before we go any farther. Also, we talked about national organizations like Bikes Belong and the League of American Bicyclist. Perhaps they have a template available and/or knowledge of other bills that have worked across the country.

One additional point that we went over that consumes my mind is how do we engage the cyclists, YOU, to pick up the phones, e-mail, and tell their elected officials when they have an issue. Are you willing to take action when we ask for it? Are you willing to step up now? The answer must be YES if we really want to see a change.

A special thanks to Rep. Orr for meeting with Bob and I to discuss this. I have known Ethan for nearly 20 years, I do not agree with him on many policy issues, but have a great respect for his willingness to listen to all of the stake holders. It was very clear in this discussion today that this is not about Republican, Democrat, Independent or Green but about a shared concern for the safety of the people of Arizona.

*** I had one additional idea on the list, but it was not included in the discussion, but I expect it will be at the next meeting. That is the Vulnerable User Law. This law would have mandatory sentencing for distracted drivers who inflict a serious injury or death of a vulnerable road user.

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