This story of potential restricted access to rural roads has a happy ending.
A hat tip to Momentum magazine for news from the great state of South Dakota. A bill proposed in the South Dakota legislature would have required cyclists to routinely stop and get off the road in deference to any faster vehicle:
If a person is operating a bicycle within a no passing zone on a roadway that has no shoulder or a shoulder of less than three feet in width, the person shall stop the bicycle, move the bicycle off the roadway, and allow a faster vehicle to pass.
As is clear from the following pictures, many of the roads I traversed on a bike trip through South Dakota would be affected by this bill. Although traffic was seldom heavy, shoulders were narrow or non-existent and no-passing zones were frequent. If this bill had been law, I would have been required to get off the bike and hit the ditch any time a single vehicle came up behind me in a no-passing zone. Maddeningly pointless, and for someone on a loaded touring bike, a real momentum-killer.
So I sent the following letter to each of the bill’s co-sponsors. For each co-sponsor in a district I had travelled through or spent a night, I added a sentence about my journey through that district.
A letter to the co-sponsors of House Bill 1073
In June of 2014 I enjoyed the most wonderful vacation of my life, bicycling through North and South Dakota. Entering your state at Lemmon, I biked several hundred miles on back-country gravel roads, state highways, and Interstate 90, before ending the trip by riding the length of the Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills.
Throughout the trip I met a warm welcome from ranchers, farmers, other tourists in campgrounds, and people in the hospitality industry. I was equally impressed by the services offered specifically to self-propelled travelers in the Black Hills. I was so enthused about the experience that I developed a travelogue of stories and pictures, and presented it to four different groups after I’d returned home.
Had Bill 1073, at least in its current form, been law in the summer of 2014. I would not have considered taking the trip. I would have concluded that a touring cyclist would be regarded as a nuisance in South Dakota, rather than welcomed. I am so glad the bill was not law then, and I hope the proposed legislation is dropped so that other touring cyclists will know that they too will be welcomed, and that they too can enjoy every mile of riding through your beautiful state, as I did.
Bart Hawkins Kreps
former resident of Minnesota
current resident of Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Postscript: I received an email from one of the bill’s co-sponsors letting me know the bill has been defeated in committee. Let’s hope this bill never returns to the legislative docket. While my email arrived too late to have any possible impact on the legislative committee hearing, I do find it worthwhile to remind legislators that’s it’s in everyone’s best interests to encourage cycling rather than trying to keep us off the roads.