Advocacy Alert: Utah Legislator Proposes Mandatory Bike Sidepath and Bike Lane Law

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (February 9, 2023) — Like a long dead zombie, it’s back. Utah Representative Mike Kohler has proposed House Bill 395 to require cyclists to use a sidepath or bike lane if available. Utah’s old mandatory sidepath law was repealed in 2001 after Bob Bayn led advocacy efforts that began in the winter of 2000.

Under Utah HB395, 2023, cyclists could be required to use a bike lane, even if it’s substandard, filled with debris, or if it’s safer to use the travel lane. Photo by Dave Iltis

Under the proposal, cyclists could no longer take the travel lane and would be forced to ride in a poorly maintained bike path or bike lane. They could no longer avoid obstacles or debris if it was in the bike lane as they would be required to use it. This could cause faster paced cyclists to ride on pathways that aren’t designed for higher speeds. It would prevent cyclists from avoiding door zones, which some bike lanes have. During winter, if a path was not maintained, cyclists would be forced to use the pathway despite this. And, it removes the choice or option of cyclists to determine how to best navigate the roadways. That choice for a cyclist best determine how and where to ride safely is preserved in this portion of code 41-6a-1105: “A person operating a bicycle or a moped on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as near as practicable to the right-hand edge of the roadway except when:…”

The bill is currently has been sent to the House Transporation Committee.

The key part of the bill text reads as follows:

41-6a-1105. Operation of bicycle or moped on and use of roadway — Duties, prohibitions.
(1) An individual operating a bicycle or moped on a roadway shall operate the bicycle or moped within the path or part of the roadway set aside for the exclusive use of a bicycle or moped exists on the roadway.

This is a change from the current code which reads:

(4) If a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, a bicycle rider may be directed by a traffic-control device to use the path and not the roadway.

Legally, there is a clear distinction between ‘may’ and ‘shall’ and the proposed code change would force cyclists into unsafe situations and would also undermine cyclists right to use the roadway as a lawful vehicle. The bill is a big step backwards.

What you can do:

  1. Email Rep. Kohler and respectfully ask him to pull the bill. [email protected]
  2. Email members of the House Transportation Committee and ask them to vote against HB395. When it does come up for a vote in committee, you can speak against the bill. Track the bill’s progress here. The bill has not yet been given a hearing date.
  3. Email your House representative (find them here) and ask them to ask Rep. Kohler to pull the bill and to vote against it if it does come up.
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