Senate approves law mandating bikes’ brakes

The Idaho Senate approved some rules of the road that could penalize bicyclists’ unsafe behavior, but rejected an enhanced fine to cyclists and motorists. One proposal from Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise would make it illegal for bicyclists riding on sidewalks to speed into crosswalks. “You shouldn’t be riding 15 miles per hour and then bolt into a crosswalk,” he said. “That user needs to slow down and not cause an imminent hazard.”

That legislation would also require that all bikes riding on Idaho roads have working brakes. Werk said it would clamp down on “fixies,” which he called “a new craze” of bicycles with fixed gears and no brakes.

That legislation passed on a 20-14 vote. After the initial vote, several Republican senators, Steve Bair of Blackfoot, Russ Fulcher of Meridian, Brent Hill of Rexburg, and Bert Brackett of Rogerson, switched their votes from yes to no, to get to the 20-14 vote.

The Senate voted down another bike proposal from Werk that would create a $75 enhanced fine for traffic incidents involving bicyclists. That fine would be paid by the cyclist or driver found at fault. “We are trying to tell cyclists that if you endanger your life by breaking the law… that you should pay an enhanced fine and remember that for the rest of your life,” Werk said.

The enhanced fine failed on a 7-27 vote, with a range of reasons for opposition. Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, said he opposed the measure on affordability grounds. He said cyclists with $4,000 bicycles could afford a $75 fine, but that the fine would hit children with a morning paper route hard. Sen. Denton Darrington, R-Declo, said he opposed increasing fines that could apply to drivers. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, and Hill said there were technical problems with how the legislation was written.

Werk has two other proposals related to bicycles that are currently on the amending order. The legislation requiring brakes and penalizing darting into crosswalks now heads to the House. Read IdahoReporter.com’s coverage of Werk’s bicycle legislation here and here. The text of brake legislation is available here and the text of the $75 fine legislation is available here.

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