Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 11th, 2011 at 12:42 pm
Mandatory sidepath laws — which state that bikes must use a sidepath/bikeway when one is available — are the bane of bicycling advocates. They're seen as a clear sign of disrespect and inequality on our roads. The fact that Oregon still has one was called out by the League of American Bicyclists in 2008 as one of the main reasons for our disappointed fourth place bike-friendly state ranking.
Now the League is faced with the mother of all mandatory sidepath laws — the one that currently exists in MAP-21, the new transportation reauthorization bill that has already passed out of the Senate. As we pointed out earlier this week, the bill includes this unsavory passage:
(d) BICYCLE SAFETY.—The Secretary of the appropriate Federal land management agency shall prohibit the use of bicycles on each federally owned road that has a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or greater and an adjacent paved path for use by bicycles within 100 yards of the road.
The League doesn't beat around the bush in their dislike for this provision:
"The problem with the provision is that the restriction applies regardless of the quality, safety, and utility of the path provided; it disregards the needs of cyclists to be on the roadway to access shops, services etc.; and ignores our fundamental right to the road...
This paternalistic (at best) approach is guilty of not only blaming the victim but simply doesn’t make sense unless every higher-speed roadway has a path alongside it."
To help with an effort to axe the sidepath stipulation from the bill, the League has launched a national petition to, "Tell the Senate that bikes have a right to the road."
While MAP-21 eliminates some funding assurances for biking projects and has raised eyebrows among advocacy groups, Streetsblog DC says there are some reasons for hope. For more on the bill, read this recap from the BTA.