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Howie Hates Bikes, Wants to Ban Pedalers from Windy Roads

Gordon Howie says House Bill 1030, which would require passing motorists to give cyclists three to six feet of space, is a stupid idea. To boost his point, Howie misrepresents the text of the bill:

The South Dakota Department of Transportation wants to force drivers into the lane of oncoming traffic, to accommodate bicycle riders. The SD House transportation committee unanimously agrees [Gordon Howie, "Move Over Stupid," The Right Side, 2015.02.12].

Read the bill, Gordon:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction may partially cross the highway centerline or the dividing line between two lanes of travel in the same direction if it can be performed safely [House Bill 1030, as amended and approved by House Transportation, 2015.02.10].

HB 1030 says may, not shall. It allows drivers to cross the center line if said crossing "can be performed safely"—i.e., if there is no oncoming traffic. HB 1030 does not force anyone to play chicken.

Howie hollers thus to take the anti-liberty position that South Dakota should ban bicycles from some of its finest scenic roads for cycling:

Ask drivers on South Dakota’s Lower Spring Creek Road. They will tell you that sightseeing bicyclists already create an extreme hazard. They will also tell you this proposed law would make matters exponentially worse.

A BETTER SOLUTION would be to prohibit bicycle traffic on roads that do not meet specifications that allow safe travel for BOTH motor vehicles and bicycles [Howie, 2015.02.12].

Gordon, you're not allowing safe travel for bicyclists if you aren't allowing bicyclists to travel.

The solution is not to ban people from getting around under their own power and enjoying their freedom from car payments and petro-tyranny. The solution is to accommodate alternative transportation with sensible rules of the road like HB 1030 and infrastructure accommodations like bike paths and big shoulders.

Gordon Howie the conservative wants to limit your freedom to travel. I the liberal want to expand your liberty and let all travelers enjoy the safe mode of travel of their choice.

p.s.: Wisconsin estimated that the bicycle industry—manufacturing, retail, etc.—contributed $556 million and over 2,000 direct ongoing jobs to its economy. Bicycle tourism may contribute over $900 million to Wisconsin's economy, plus another $400 million in health benefits.


  1. larry kurtz 2015.02.12

    I confess to believing that since bicyclists don't pay fuel taxes public roadways should be closed to them. Sorry, Cory.

  2. Nick Nemec 2015.02.12

    If my car breaks down on the side of the road should I be prohibited from walking to get help since I didn't pay fuel taxes on my shoes?

  3. larry kurtz 2015.02.12

    Funny, Nick. Buy AAA roadside assistance, people.

  4. Bill Fleming 2015.02.12

    Well, there goes the whole Medicaid argument up on smoke, and all the other social programs. Thanks Kurtz. ;-)

    Don't pay taxes? You're SOL buddy. Sorry.

  5. larry kurtz 2015.02.12

    Fascinating point, Bill; but, anyone who can afford to pay $4000 for a bicycle should be paying for a county license to ride it on public roadways.

  6. crossgrain 2015.02.12

    I'm all for cycling - both for fitness and environmental impact, but it strikes me as a bit disingenuous to highlight the economic impact of bicycles in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is home to the world headquarters for Trek bicycles, with $600 million-plus in sales, and over 1000 employees in state. Any economic data on someplace like Nebraska?

    I guess not that it matters much. The benefits of bicycles are such that economic impact on a state-wide level are pretty far down the list.

  7. mike from iowa 2015.02.12

    Former Trek Bicycle exec and daughter of Trek founder Richard Burke-Mary Burke lost the Wisconsin Goobernortorial election to "koch bros" Walker partly because he told his voters her company was shifting jobs overseas and that was bad for Wisconsin's economy.

  8. mike from iowa 2015.02.12

    Here is a study of Omaha bike trails. Skip down to page 14 and beyond to see what impact they provide in various neighborhoods.No dollar amounts are mentioned but most residents believe the trails increase home values.

  9. Chris Francis 2015.02.12

    Quite the argument, essentially, if you don't produce income for the state during an activity, at any given time or place, then you must cease that activity or pay the tax.

    Get back to welding and milking cows people, the state expects you to contribute to the great society, and your kids, get them to work too, but in a big truck, don't you dare pull out that tandem bike with that wagon.

  10. crossgrain 2015.02.12

    mike - thanks for the links. I admit that I'm pretty surprised by the Iowa number ($365 million) in economic impact! That number and that study would have been more that sufficient for Cory's postscript, methinks.

    Now I wish I were a little more hardcore about my cycling habits and could muster the courage and fortitude to hop on my Trek Navigator for more than 4-5 months a year... but my Silverado (Earth Destroyer Edition) does have heated leather seats after all... ;-)

  11. MC 2015.02.12

    In all fairness, their are some roads that are just not designed to accommodate bicyclists. maybe the State can propose a statewide bicycle/canoe trail system complete with camp site and access to 'modern' conveniences.

  12. Richard Schriever 2015.02.12

    Having lived and worked on Lower Spring Creek Road (the Brown Ranch), I can attest - there is so little traffic there as to make the possibility of a car, tractor, or truck being forced to play chicken with an oncoming vehicle is EXTREMELY UNLIKELY.

  13. Richard Schriever 2015.02.12

    So Larry, you are in favor of prohibiting farm implements from traveling on state roads as well? (They don't pay fuel taxes).

  14. MC 2015.02.12

    I'm okay with biking lanes. I know Colorado has a network of trails and campsites that can be biked, hiked or on horse back. Can we do the same here?

  15. larry kurtz 2015.02.12

    Farm equipment using public roadways should be paying fees to counties and townships.

  16. Anne Beal 2015.02.12

    I have frequently witnessed cyclists in the road running parallel to a bike path. Excuses are that the bike path has twigs, tree roots, baby strollers, joggers, etc.
    There's no point in building more bike paths.
    It would be nice if the cyclists would hug the white line, though, giving motorists more room to pass them.

  17. mike from iowa 2015.02.12

    Hug the white line-Save my life
    I'm going down for the last time
    Woman with the sweet lovin'
    Better than a white line

    Read more: Head East - Never Been Any Reason Lyrics | MetroLyrics

    That white line? I believe it is about cocaine.

  18. MC 2015.02.12

    Well Anne; let's go crazy /sarcasm/

    Let's build a separate bike path, stroller path, jogging path, horse path, ostrich path, crawling path and walking path, and oh, a Segway path, and one for motorized scooters
    /end sarcasm/

    did I forget anything? In some areas there is limited room to build more lanes. We are just going to have share.

  19. Douglas Wiken 2015.02.12

    Rapid City should build an overhead bike, small electric scooters and vehicles, and pedestrian path looping around the city and ultimately to Mt. Rushmore. That would do RC a lot more good and get it world-wide favorable publicity than adding on a needless $180-$420 million arena addition which will suck money out of the city.

  20. Sam 2 2015.02.12

    Howie is right on this one. Bikers need to be responsible for knowing their position on the road. Many of our roads are designed for Two way traffic not three way. They refuse tomusemthe bike trails when they are next to a high traffic area for what ever reason. Bikers need to learn their placement it is not on a busy street

  21. larry kurtz 2015.02.12

    Good idea, Doug. Santa Fe has a thriving electric scooter community.

    People who ride road bikes tend to be entitled jerks while mountain bikers are more laid back and courteous.

  22. Roger Elgersma 2015.02.12

    Over a hundred years ago the speed limit for cars in Sioux Falls was ten miles an hour since it would scare the horses if they went faster. There was also a who cares about those rich arrogant people anyways attitude. The snobbery twards rich or poor is not good. But then the rich did not rule. Freeways are not for bikes and that is good. Even though their shoulders would be very navigable. I had not thought of the six feet for fast cars but the turbulence is nasty. So that was a great idea. I prefer to ride on the shoulder if it is a good one since it is not my goal to slow everyone up. But I do need a safe ride as does anyone else.

  23. Jaka 2015.02.12

    Kurtz, you're all wet. They do have a right to a PUBLIC thoroughfare like pedestrians and others. Granted, given human nature, there are 'bad' bikers with an attitude that they are 'more impo-tent' than whoever is behind them but that can be quite a risk with an 'attitude' behind the wheel in the 4 wheeled (or more) vehicle coming behind them!

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.12

    Jaka, you make me think of an analogy to Noem and the GOP pursuing food stamp fraud while embracing corporate farm subsidies: the harm done by arrogant, rule-breaking cyclists will never compare to the harm done by arrogant outsize-SUV drivers.

    Make room, Sam 2. Every road should be built to accommodate walkers, cyclists, and other alternative transportation. If there's not room, the basic rules of the trail should apply: unless you're a horse, the bigger and faster yield to the smaller and slower. Cars yield to bikes, bikes yield to walkers.

  25. larry kurtz 2015.02.12

    People who can afford Campagnolo should pay to use the freaking road.

  26. mike from iowa 2015.02.12

    iowa has signs that say bicycles can use the entire lane and still I see drivers who get impatient with them. Wait until you see the thundering horde of Ragbrai riders descending on your roads like biblical plagues of locusts. I believe the ride is limited to 10000 riders and support vehicles but it takes about forever for that many to clear even short strips of county blacktops.

  27. mike from iowa 2015.02.12

    Are there any abandoned railroad rights of way s that can be turned into hiking/biking paths? iowa communities do that alot in nw iowa.

  28. larry kurtz 2015.02.12

    stagebarn to deadwood, mike. rapid city to presho for masochists.

  29. larry kurtz 2015.02.12

    paving between existing rails would be revolutionary.

  30. bearcreekbat 2015.02.12

    mfi - South Dakota did just that - turned abandoned railroad rights of ways into hiking/biking paths - creating the Mickelson trail. Landowners argued that the abandoned right of ways reverted to the adjacent landowners rather than the state, but the SD Supreme Court disagreed.

    The SCOTUS, however, recently issued a contrary ruling. holding that abandoned railroad right of ways reverted to the property owners not the state.

    Thus, the idea of using these abandoned right of ways for a public purpose seems to be untenable. Indeed, even SD's continued ownership and/or development of the Mickelson Trail could be threatened by the ruling.

  31. larry kurtz 2015.02.12

    lol: coding while cooking.

  32. grudznick 2015.02.12

    I am with Mr. kurtz on this. He makes some sense. Those of you who think he is naught but evil in a gunny sack are wrong here. He and Mr. Hickey are exactly the same, except for the profanity.

  33. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.12

    BCB, that ruling sounds like a train wreck. But what: we can use eminent domain to let a private foreign company build its exclusive, for-profit oil pipeline, but we can't use eminent domain to reclaim railroad right of way for a public trail?

    I wonder, BCB: was the contract that Wyoming landowner signed unique, or would most right-of-way agreements include similar provisions that would prevent the government from reclaiming those rights of way for trails?

  34. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.12

    Winter Cycling—boo yah! Rode to work today across southern Aberdeen and the NSU campus. Rode down the middle of the right lane, wore my hunter-orange stocking cap.

  35. grudznick 2015.02.12

    Mr. H do you have studded tires? I like your idea of a hat and think maybe this law should say all hunters and bikers must wear a hat. Where do you work in Aberdeen that they let you ride a bike there? Please don't tell me you are a lunch lady.

  36. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.02.12

    Bicycle amenities do attract more bikers and more money. House buyers are interested in bike lanes, walking lanes, etc. Businesses often use bike amenities as benefits to help entice top flight recruits.

    Grudz, winter biking is popular in MN. They use fat tire bikes. The bicycles have extra wide forks so tires about 6" in circumference will fit. Those tires are knobby and can be studded. The riders wear clothing similar to ski clothes. There is a warm, insulated cloth sleeve that fits across the handle bars to keep the riders hands warm. Big bucks in bicycling.

    Larry, most of the bikes in the metro here are $500 or less models. The lanes serve tons more of us peons than the big bucks people.

    BTW, I do have some biking bona fides. In 1997 I rode from Minneapolis to Chicago with several thousand others to raise money for AIDS. My longest one day ride was 97 miles. I'm very proud of that. I didn't think I could pedal nearly 100 miles in one day.

    I thought I'd die. The next day I hoped I'd die.

  37. grudznick 2015.02.12

    That is all above my head, Ms. Geelsdottir. I am sure you can stoutly pedal one of those beasts up the gradual slopes around your fine town. I hope you and I can agree that bicycles are a good thing. No matter what manner of hat or thick pants the bikers wear.

  38. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.02.12

    Agreed my friend.

  39. mike from iowa 2015.02.13

    Like your biking story,Deb. I have to bite my tongue at times,this being one of them,but it was a kewl story nevertheless.

    Oh the agony of decency betrays mike from iowa once again on a family thread.

  40. Chris Francis 2015.02.13

    People who ride Campagnolo not only have great taste, but should be given both lanes of the road and be saluted as we pass all the gawkers, as the awe of our precision gearing is truly a thing of beauty to behold. In fact, fireworks often erupt as we sprint towards every town sign this state has to offer, and beautiful podium girls welcome us as we approach our driveways, offering us small cans of Coca cola, and of course a kiss on our cheek as we thank the God Merckx.

  41. larry kurtz 2015.02.13

    Sheridan Lake Road, Nemo Road, Neck Yoke, Skyline Drive, Rimrock, north Deadwood Avenue: all horrible places for car/bicycle interactions. For someone who has lost a loved one to a car/bicycle collision it's hard to condone bikes on some highways.

  42. Lynn 2015.02.13

    Hey! I ride Campy on a few of my bikes. A few of my bike are worth more than my car but that is common among cyclists that share the passion. Believe me I'm not one of those cyclists riding the latest tricked out carbon fiber bike that costs a lot of money. Not even close! It's better to buy used and you don't need much to fit your needs. I'd rather be supportive with seeing more people biking than being a snob.

    I try to ride as safely as I can meaning stopping at stop signs, obeying the laws and being courteous to people driving cars when riding on the road trying not to obstruct the traffic while I can ride safely. There is no way I'd ride on 41st or Minnesota in Sioux Falls for example.

    Regarding bike trails it depends on the trail. If it is primarily a walking trail that is heavily used in one of our towns many times a cyclist will have the intent on riding and maintaining higher speeds that would be too fast to ride on the trails safely and coming up on people would scare them too. We don't need that so riding on the road would be better.

    Cyclists pay taxes too with minimal wear to roads.

  43. bearcreekbat 2015.02.13

    Cory, I don't think it was a matter of eminent domain nor contract rights. Rather, I think it was a matter of statutory interpretation deciding who, under the language of the statute granting the right of way, would get the land once the right of way ended.

  44. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.02.13

    Haha! Great comment Chris!

    I agree with Larry that there are some roads that are dangerous for bicyclists. Those roads need to be improved.

    I don't mind bikers who run the occasional stop sign when no one is coming. I hate when they run stoplights. Grrr.

  45. grudznick 2015.02.13

    What about 3 wheeled bicycles and those uni cycles would they pay half as much under this new libbie wheel tax?

  46. Douglas Wiken 2015.02.13

    Too many years ago, I tried to get legislators to make it possible for SD to use the power of eminent domain to keep control of the railroad tracks to be abandoned. They refused to touch that with a 10 foot pole. After one of the rail roads was ripped to shreds, Wisconsin or one of the other states near hear pushed through legislation or a court deal to allow eminent domain to maintain RR right of way. One thing that is seldom mentioned about the Mikkleson trail is the contribution made by prisoners earning a magnificent 25 cents per hour.

  47. Les 2015.02.13

    I would think an educated fella like yourself might understand the costs to society by those prisoners, make that 25 cents an hour about $10.75 too high in most cases, Wiken.

  48. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.14

    If I were a prisoner, I'd have jumped at the chance to get outside and spend weeks in the Black Hills working on a trail. Give me room and board and some sturdy work boots, and I might come work in the Black Hills for free. ;-)

  49. Douglas Wiken 2015.02.14

    Whatever, the contribution of the prisoners should have also been mentioned.

  50. leslie 2015.02.15

    les, "costs to society" may be a fiction in large part told to us all growing up, when the larger evil is likely the imprisoning system.

  51. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.15

    Douglas, I'm happy you mentioned it. We should remember the contribution made by those whom we incarcerate and exploit for cheap labor.

Comments are closed.