The Montana Senate blocked a bill today that would have required vehicles going 35 miles per hour to give cyclists three feet when passing and five feet when going faster. House Bill 267 failed on a 24-26 vote. A motion by Majority Leader Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville to kill the bill indefinitely passed on a 29-21 vote.
President of the Senate Scott Sales, R-Bozeman, opposed the bill and said he does not want any more cyclists in the state and thinks there are too many of them as it is.
“They’re some of the rudest people I’ve ever. I hate to say it, but I’m just going to be bold — they’re some of the most self-centered people navigating on highways, or on county roads I’ve ever seen. They won’t move over. You can honk at them; they think they own the highway,” Sales said.
He agreed with Sen. Dee Brown, R-Hungry Horse, who said the bill would not be enforceable. She said highways sometimes aren’t wide enough to provide cyclists with three feet of space.
“If we look at the roadways, just the width of most of our roadways in Montana, it’s critical that your 10-foot-wide pickups be able to use the whole lane,” Brown said.
Sen. Jen Gross, D-Billings, carried the bill in the Senate for House member Frank Garner, R-Kalispell.
“I’ll just say that we can’t kick bicyclists off the roads any more than we can ban pedestrians,” Gross said.
Freddy Monares is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.