“Bike Walk Montana did a stellar job of working with state legislature this session to produce and promote bills that would encourage bike utilization and bike safety both on and off road. For Rivers Edge Trail and many other organizations across Montana, Bike Walk is our connection to pertinent legislative activity.” ~Bruce Pollington
We Did IT!!
The 2017 Legislative Session was a very busy and successful session for bicycling and walking. Not only did we defeat four bills that would have negatively impacted people who walk and bicycle, but we helped to pass HB-225 and brought state and national attention to the needs and safety of people walking and bicycling.
Thank you everyone for reaching out to legislators and helping throughout this challenging session!
HB-225: Representative Ed Greef from Ravalli County sponsored a bill to establish funding for maintenance of shared-use paths and for bicycle/pedestrian education through a $5 opt-in fee on vehicle registrations.
This bill on the the Senate floor with a 30-20 vote on April 11th and is on its way to the Governor!
SB-363: A bill addressing aquatic invasive species was amended and passed on the Senate floor to to include a requirement that non-residents purchase a $25 “Nonresident invasive species bicycle decal.” (yep, you read that right). The bill was heard by the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday, April 5th and has been assigned to a sub-committee for amendments. It is likely that the bicycle language will be removed from the bil
HB-267 Safe Passing Bill: Representative Frank Garner from Kalispell is sponsored a bill requiring drivers to provide a minimum distance when passing a bicyclist: 3′ when driving 35mph or less and a minimum of 5′ when driving more than 35mph.
- The bill was passed by the House on January 30th and then transmitted to the Senate. Even though the bill was was passed by the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee, sadly it died on the Senate Floor on Monday, March 13th and there was just no way to get it through.
Other bills of interest:
LC2196 – Restricting bicyclists and pedestrians on certain rural highways, has was re-titled as ‘Require Transportation Planning to Consider all Highway Users‘ sponsored by Representative Barry Usher from Billings. The bill was tabled in the House Transportation Committee on February 24th.
HB 512 sponsored by Rep. McKamey from Great Falls to require bicycles to have a 5′ flag was tabled in committee and missed the transmittal deadline.
We need your Help! Make a donation to our Legislative work.
Your contribution of:
$10 purchases lunch for one legislator at our Lobby Day.
$25 provides informational handouts to each member of a committee hearing the bill.
$40 pays for one hour of working on a safe passing bill.
$75 pays for us to meet with a key legislator before the session.
$150 helps us prepare for and testify at a committee meeting at the Capitol.
$200 provides informational handouts to each member of the Senate.
$300 buys one full day of legislative work.
$400 provides informational handouts to each member of the House.
Priority legislation based on our member survey. Note that it often takes more than one session for a bill to pass. Therefore, once a bill is introduced, it is important to keep bringing that bill forward each session for it to build more support and eventually pass. For this reason, we will again be working on the funding bill and the safe passing bill and have determined that it would not be a wise strategy to introduce additional bills this session.
- Allowing bicyclists to ride two abreast
- Allow bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs.
- Improve clarification for when a driver is required to stop for pedestrians crossing the road.
- Establish a state-level bike/ped board
- Require motorists to provide a specified minimum distance when passing bicyclists.
- Establish a dedicated funding source for maintenance of shared-use paths and bike/ped education.
Recap of the 2015 session
During the 2015 legislative session, we worked on four bills in which one passed and three were stopped in the Senate Committee:
- House Bill 280, carried by Rep. Jeff Essmann, passed and made significant updates to outdated bicycle laws. It clarified that a bicyclist may ride in the travel lane and that a driver can cross the double-yellow line to pass a bicyclist (when safe to do so); it updated the reflector requirements to allow for more flexibility; and the bill added a definition for electric bikes and removed motorized bikes from the definition of a bicycle.
- House Bill 394, carried by Rep. Jerry Bennett, would have required drivers to provide a minimum of four feet when passing a bicyclist. This was the second attempt to pass a safe-passing bill. The bill made it through the House but was stopped in the Senate Committee.
- House Bill 604, carried by Rep. Ed Greef, would have established funding for trail maintenance and bicycle/pedestrian safety education. The bill made it through the House but was stopped in the Senate Committee.
- Senate Bill 278, carried by Sen. Christine Kaufmann, would have clarified when a pedestrian is in a crosswalk requiring the driver to stop to let them cross. The bill started in the Senate Committee and did not make it any further.
Clearly we have more work to do! In order to pass better laws to make the roads safer for you, your help in reaching out to Legislators in your district will be critical, especially as our bills are presented throughout the session. It is not too early to begin talking with your legislative candidates to emphasize the need for more funding and for making our roads safer for people who walk and bicycle.