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Bike Passing Bill Gets Flat Tire

Charles Michael Ray

A bill that requires bicyclists to stop and get off the road when being passed by a motorist in certain areas failed to clear its first hurdle in the state legislature.

The bill follows legislation from last year that mandates motorists give bicycles at least three feet of distance when passing on slower roads, and six feet on faster highways.   

 This year’s House Bill 1073 requires cyclists to stop and get off the bike if they are being overtaken in a no-passing zone with a narrow shoulder. 

This is not an anti-bicycle thing.

Republican Representative Mike Verchio from Hill City is the prime sponsor of House Bill 1073  He says it comes from the concerns of truck drivers who worry about hitting bicyclists on the tight winding roads in the Black Hills.

“This is not an anti-bicycle thing in anyway these guys are all thinking about the safety of the bicyclists,” says Verchio who was the only person to speak in favor of the bill before the House Transportation Committee.  

This is not positive for us. So, I would just urge you to make this go away.

Ten people spoke against, including Republican State Representative Fred Deutsch.  He refutes claims that the measure increases safety.  Deutsch describes himself as an avid cyclist.  

“I just want to reflect with you about the image this presents to South Dakota, just the fact that we’re having this discussion.   Last night, a saw on the internet, Bicycle Magazine, a national magazine, called this one of the worst bills ever.  And, I understand there are headlines all over the world that we’re discussing this here in South Dakota.  This is not positive for us.  So, I would just urge you to make this go away,” says Deutch.  

The committee made the bill go away by a vote of 11 to zero.   But some members say a better solution needs to be found in no-passing zones where a bicycle cannot safely ride on the shoulder. They say the issue could be addressed with new legislation in the future.