Lawmakers in Pierre are considering legislation that increases protection for cyclists on roads and highways.
Bill Nevin is the legal counsel for the South Dakota Department of Transportation.
He testified in favor of Senate Bill 30. The legislation increases the buffer zone between cyclists and motor vehicles. The bill requires a driver to stay a minimum of three feet away when overtaking a bicycle on the roadway.
Current law has no distance requirement.
Nevin says over one thousand cyclists have been injured in South Dakota in traffic accidents over the last decade. Seven of them died.
“Because of the risk of serious injury to a flash and blood bicycle rider form even the slightest nudge from a two ton or larger passing vehicle a specific bicycle passing rule makes a lot of sense,” says Nevin.
The bill also restricts cyclists from passing a right turning vehicle on the right. Nevin says this is one common cause of accidents. Other proponents testified in favor of the measure, including the South Dakota Highway Patrol and a number of cyclists.
But opponents testified that a specific distance requirement between cars and bicycles is not needed. Some raised concerns that this legislation weakens the current law.
Lawmakers on the House Transportation Committee delayed further action on the bill until next week so differences between those in favor and against can be hammered out.