The Idaho State Legislature did not pass three of the four bicycling related Senate Bills that were presented at this year’s legislative session, while one requiring brakes on all bikes is still in motion.
The safety bills included a 3-foot passing rule and anti-harassment rule. Neither received a Senate vote.
“For lots of reasons of timing and politics those things will not happen this Legislative session but another attempt will be made to develop more allies in the next Idaho Legislature,” said Kurt Holzer, cycling enthusiast and attorney. “We will live to fight another day. That is the nature of legislating.”
Two of the Senate Bills 1348 (3-feet to pass) and 1350 (limited anti-harassment), were held on the Senate Floor. Senate Bill 1351, which established a funding mechanism for Safe Paths to Schools failed.
Senate Bill 1349 (requiring brakes on all bikes) passed in Senate, but is currently being held in the House.
“The two good, pro cycling statutes were voted to the amending order in the Idaho Senate after the initial hearing,” said Holzer. “That is the process that allows changes to the language to address Legislator’s concerns. Certain trucking interests like the Idaho Loggers Association and Idaho Truckers Association raised some opposition to the bills and it became clear that those bills would not pass out of the Senate.”
Senate Bill 1348 would have established a 3-feet to passing law for Idaho. Laws like it are enforced in 14 other states. It was designed to empower motorists to legally cross a double yellow to pass pedestrians and cyclists. Furthermore, it establishes that pedestrians or cyclists who are obstructing three or more vehicles must pull over.
“The main purpose of the 3-feet to pass legislation is to educate drivers about how far is a safe distance to pass a vulnerable road user,” Holzer said. “Many motorists believe just avoiding contact with a vulnerable road user is all that is required. Most motorists are often unaware of the danger of passing someone else too closely. It can result in startling the person leading to a crash from reflexive action or fear.”
“One concern raised with any 3-feet law is that it may require a motorist to go over the center-line to pass a vulnerable road user,” he added. “However, crossing the center-line to pass a cyclist, farm vehicle, pedestrian is commonly done now. In any event, to avoid any question on this point, the proposed 3-feet law includes a provision to clarify that motorists may cross a center-line to pass bicyclists or pedestrians in situations that are safe as is the case under Idaho Code 49-635(3) already.”
Senate Bill 1350 established that motorists or others who threaten or harass pedestrians or cyclist are guilty of a misdemeanor. It required the actions be done maliciously and with the specific intent to intimidate or harass.
“The key point is that together the bills represent a balanced package of legislation that will help define responsibilities and how users share the roads,” Holzer said. “Clear rules help everyone get along and make the roads more predictable.”