South Dakota Bill Would Require Cyclists to Dismount for Passing Cars

The bill is a very, very thinly-veiled attempt to get people on bikes off the state’s roads.

Written by:

Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/fvfavo/8499575825/in/photolist-dX5xLM-9GqQai-aZwTJz-qgcWPc-8hiQVS-zjjdR7-2hnj2y-pMQPq6-7BMHYq-4U5vWF-uRTXP-4BqYZa-f3oK9x-eLEWGK-9TgJwp-5KzcDJ-8qygjo-7vnJ8e-9jshvu-6ZUsgM-e1Aenx-5GxA3s-8qoq9m-6yULpG-bmCjr4-edE2vP-993kyw-pD33Qd-dXhg5A-dXhqdW-dX8w4Z-dXfHF3-pc7Sf3-6jaFQd-qgVunx-4Bv6k5-4Bv6h5-aHo7Uk-eTYsUM-7dXWMC-cfcGBE-7ugyCY-9oAS57-9oxNzg-9oARLW-9oxP2i-9oATbG-9oxPYK-oWF3Wo-e96D5U" target="_blank">Mario Micklisch</a>

Not be outdone by lawmakers in Missouri who recently introduced a bill requiring cyclists to ride with a 15-foot fluorescent flag attached to their bicycle, a group of legislators in South Dakota are taking anti-bicycle-crusading-disguised-as-safety-regulations to the next level. The legislators just announced House Bill 1073, an act formally titled, I kid you not, “An Act to require persons operating bicycles under certain conditions to stop and allow faster vehicles to pass.”

The certain conditions, in this case, are when a person is riding a bicycle in a no-passing zone on a roadway that has no shoulder, or a shoulder of less than three feet. In this case, the person on the bike would have to stop the bike, move off of the roadway, and allow faster vehicles to pass. Given that “faster vehicles” are going to be every single vehicle with four wheels and an engine versus two wheels and a set of pedals, this is going to result in a whole lot of pulling over and stopping for the people trying to ride bikes.

Momentum Mag's 40 Cool New Products

Get your FREE copy of our brand new guide: Momentum Mag's 40 Cool Cycling Products to Look at in 2016

Innovative, stylish, radical and just plain 'done right', these new city cycling products will catch your eye and inspire you to get on a bike. Download the guide and you'll find a collection of 40 new products that are guaranteed to improve your ride.

Please select your country and provide a valid email address
We hate spam as much as you do. You have our promise not to sell or share your email address, ever! Please read our Privacy Policy.
Thank you for your submission.

Honestly, I’m not even sure where to begin with this one. This is probably the most blatant attempt one could make at getting cyclists off of the roads short of straight-up making bicycles illegal. I mean, it literally states that bicyclists have to get off the roads. It’s pretty impressive when you think about it. But beyond that, there are a lot of practical considerations that don’t really add up. If there is no shoulder, where is the person with the bike supposed to go? Sure in an urban setting they can stand on the sidewalk while letting streams of car pass them by, but what about on any one of the state’s 5,875 bridges? Or roads with guardrails such as this one, which you’ll note has a shoulder of less than three feet in a no-passing zone. I can only assume bicyclists in this case are just supposed to toss the bike over the edge and sit on the fence while the car passes?

Along with a this fairly ludicrous principal goal, House Bill 1073 includes a series of amendments to the roadway operation section of the state’s current bicycle regulations. At present, the state has a “far right as practicable” law which requires bicyclists to always ride as close to the curb or right side of the road as possible when they’re traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic. For most people on bicycles, this is all of the time. Already, this is an unsafe law because it puts people on bikes in the door zone, or makes the vulnerable to drivers who believe they can pass the bicyclist without switching lanes. The law does have an exception though, the “substandard lane width” exception, which states that a person on a bicycle can travel further out into the lane when the roadway is not sufficiently wide to allow a vehicle and bicycle to travel side-by-side within it.

The new bill would amend the law so the “substandard lane width” exception no longer existed. It would also remove the text “conditions including, but not limited to” which precedes the other exceptions, thereby limiting the exceptions to “fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, or surface hazards.” Basically, if there’s no truck, human, or bison in the way, you have to be over at the side. If you’re not over at the side enough, you have to just get off the road.

The sponsors behind this latest bill are a full 11% of the South Dakota House of Representatives and nine percent of the state Senate. The prime sponsor is 71-year-old Mike Verchio, a Republican member of the South Dakota House of Representatives who chairs the state House Transportation Committee. Verchio’s track record involves consistently voting against measures to improve road safety, such as restriction on mobile device use while driving, and voting in favor measures to decrease safety, such as higher speed limits.

The full text of the bill is available here, along with contact information for each of its sponsors, should you wish to politely express your opinion.


Hilary Angus is the Online Editor at Momentum Mag. @HilaryAngus

Momentum Mag's 40 Cool New Products

Get your FREE copy of our brand new guide: Momentum Mag's 40 Cool Cycling Products to Look at in 2016

Innovative, stylish, radical and just plain 'done right', these new city cycling products will catch your eye and inspire you to get on a bike. Download the guide and you'll find a collection of 40 new products that are guaranteed to improve your ride.

Please select your country and provide a valid email address
We hate spam as much as you do. You have our promise not to sell or share your email address, ever! Please read our Privacy Policy.
Thank you for your submission.

18 Comments

  • Didn’t even make it out of committee. I agree this was a bad proposed law. But now, it is time to put this one to rest. There is an active bicycle advocacy group in South Dakota that opposed this law, and helped it to die in committee.

  • mgh

    Glad to hear it died in committee but the next time something like this comes up it seems like time for an equal rights appeal. Why do drivers have a right to the road that riders don’t?

    • Amoeba

      Assuming the comment that this proposed ‘law’ “Didn’t even make it out of committee”, well-done to whoever stopped this idiocy. The question is: Who voted for these cyclist-hating imbeciles & bigots? Why are people voting for them?
      Are these people receiving funds from fossil-fuel sources?

      Many people drive when they could easily walk. I am aware that the US is laid-out differently from Europe and frequently seems to make walking and cycling difficult, while facilitating driving, but this is not advisable for numerous reasons – health and pollution etc.

      • Brian M

        Autosexuals are amazing, aren’t they? I’ve never understood the sense of aggrieved INJURY when someone in two tons of plastic and steel is slowed for even a moment. by anyone or anything. It’s like a threat to their manhood (in the case of males) or somehow Un American.

  • KBJ

    Some states have rules like this aimed at farm vehicles and Amish buggies, things like that. Generally, it’s you pull over the first opportunity you get (like at a driveway or something) and it’s really just for if you have a long line of traffic backed up behind you. If it’s like that, I’m not sure it’s unreasonable. I’m not sure they’re trying to get bikes off the roads in general. Maybe just off the roads that are not as safe for them to be on. I mean, a no-passing-zone road with narrow lanes and no shoulder doesn’t sound like the best place to bike in the first place. I mean, yeah, you’re allowed to. But should you?

    • Dio Yuji

      A road not being safe is not the cyclist’s fault. The answer is not to disallow or discourage cyclists, it’s to make the road safer. The solution to this is to have roads with shoulders, which all roads should have anyway, regardless of the existence of cyclists.

    • Brent Butterworth

      Sure, but as the article suggests (and provides a specific example of), in many such cases there is no safe place for the cyclist to pull over. Effectively, the law would have given South Dakota police an excuse to harass and/or ticket cyclists.

    • Nick

      KBJ,

      So maybe you’re from out East, where the road density is a lot higher. Out West, there is often only one road to go from point A to point B. So there is often NO other option than for cyclists to ride on such a road. Hell, cycling’s even allowed on the interstate in most of Arizona, as it should be.

    • Jerry

      I agree completely with you. I am a cyclist and in 99% of the times, there are alternate roads to use that will minimize impact on drivers of cars. So I try to use those roads as I am also a car driver and many times I will encounter a cyclist who is holding up traffic and won’t have the sense or courtesy to move off the road for a short time to let the cars pass. Faster speeds for cars??!!! Here in Michigan that is being considered for several sections of the expressways which I feel is not safety minded. Cars have become safer but the last time I was examined by reflexes have remained the same so response time is the same. Going faster just means less response time, etc. not a smart move if one is safety minded.

  • Chad

    The bill got killed…as well it should be.

  • PBJoe

    Careful with the rhetoric at the end. “Voting to reduce safety with higher speed limits.” there is no real strong data here as cars get safer despite higher speeds on roads.

    As for the rest of it, they’re idiots. But if you think they’re idiots wait until you meet the people who elect them!

  • niRad

    This is ludicrous!! Really makes me want to go ride my tallbike all over South Dakota

Momentum Mag Shop

A curated shop with a distinctive mix of gear & clothing worthy of the city rider

Shop Now