Join me, if you will, in the way-back machine to look at how we’ve got the laws we now all take for granted.
Trained, informed, safety-conscious cyclists have known, at least for decades, that separated sidepaths have significant safety drawbacks, e.g.:
In a discussion of dedicated bicycle paths (sidepaths) versus bicycle lanes on roads versus no lanes, research has repeatedly shown that segregated cycling facilities are more likely to cause motorist-cyclist collisions, especially during turns at intersections. (velo-city.org)
We now take it for granted that a cyclist has a right to use a roadway regardless of the existence of any sort of parallel sidepath (over there, somewhere). It wasn’t always so. These are usually referred to as “mandatory sidepath” laws, and we had one in Arizona until 1989.
These and other mysteries can be unearthed by reading the legislative “floor notes” for significant bicycle legislation occurring before 1997 (after which time, it is supposedly all available online at azleg.gov, and nothing significant has been passed except for §28-735 in 2000, see below).
SB1218 from 1986
Please see azbikelaw.org/sb1218-2nd-regular-session-1986 for full information about this large / major piece if bicyclist legislation. This substantial bill gives us our modern §28-815A — our “stay to the right law”, along with its many and significant exceptions, along with the alternate hand signal, these were done expressly to conform to UVC.
HB2302 Repeal of Mandatory Sidepath Law, 1989
This highly discriminatory law was repealed due to the fine work and dedication of a group of bicyclist advocates. Here is the text of the mandatory path law that was REPEALED (chapter 269, HB2302 Bicycle Paths; roadways. 39th Legislature 1st Regular session) in 1989,
Wherever a usable path for bicycles has been provided and adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use the path and shall not use the roadway.
Legislative notes can be found at the same document mentioned above.
SB1076 42nd Legislature (xth session); 1996
The specific inclusion of “chapter 4” and other changes to ARS 28-812 since 1986 were all made by 42nd legislature in SB 1076; ch. 81, sec. 4, which rewrote entire chapters of the transportation code.
This was the year before docs are available online… This bill is referred to in the legislative floor notes packet (search, e.g. for 1076) in reference to fact sheets for SB1009 “title 28 rewrite”.
HB2625 3-foot passing law from 2000
I was recently asked to provide some legislative history on Arizona’s 3-foot passing bill, which became statute §28-735. Here is more background on both the AZ law and other states’ equivalent safe passing laws. The law was passed in large part due to the efforts of Jean Gorman, whose son Brad Gorman was killed while bicycling.
- Documents for Bill HB2625
- House Veterans and Military Affairs Feb 3, 2000 Minutes (note: this did not pass through the House Transportation Committee).
- Senate Transportation Committee March 9, 2000 minutes.
These minutes don’t explain why/how the problematic 28-735C came about. This clause exempts motorists from the enhanced fines if the cyclist is struck outside of a “present and passable” bicycle lane. It is my recollection that this was added as a “floor amendment”; and would have been after the committee process was complete.
House minutes pasted:
H.B. 2625 – bicycles; traffic laws – DO PASS AMENDED
Jessimy Blasberg, Majority Intern, explained H.B. 2625 in summary (Attachment 16) and the 7-line Norris Amendment dated 2/2/00 at 3:48 p.m. (Attachment 17).
Representative Debora Norris, sponsor of H.B. 2625, spoke in support of the bill. Ms. Norris explained that this bill is very important because there are so many accidents and collisions involving bicycles. She informed that Committee that two years ago, there were 2,200 collisions in the State of Arizona involving bicycles and because there are so many avid bicyclists in our State, the intent is to bring the statistics down to zero. She explained that a Wisconsin law that has a three-foot distance between vehicles and bicyclists inspired this bill.
Representative Norris informed the Committee that this legislation puts more “teeth” into existing law and makes it easier for law enforcement to prove negligence. She explained that the fine for a collision that results in a serious injury is $500 and if death results from a collision, the fine is $1,000.
Bill Lazenby, President, Coalition of Arizona Bicyclers, spoke in support of H.B. 2625. He stated that this bill represents an important step to ensure those bicyclers rights to safety and enjoyment of the road is protected. Mr. Lazenby explained that Arizona statutes grant the bicyclers the same rights and privileges of the road as motor vehicles. Some drivers do not understand this and do not share the road and efforts to share the road have resulted in many tragic accidents in Tucson.
Mr. Lazenby explained that this bill defines an initial standard by which police throughout the state can determine whether a driver has acted negligently. Also, it has a mandate that a person obtaining a driver’s license be educated about bicycle laws. He urged the Committee to pass this bill.
Richard Netz, Treasurer, Arizona Bike Club, spoke in support of H.B. 2625. Mr. Netz stated that based on their last board meeting, he urged the Committee to pass this legislation. He echoed Mr. Lazenby’s comments and added that this bill will help drivers to understand the law.
Jean Gorman, representing herself, spoke in support of H.B. 2625. Ms. Gorman informed the Committee that her son, Brad Gorman, was killed on September 30, 1999 while bicycling on Catalina Highway in Tucson. Ms. Gorman distributed copies of fliers regarding her efforts to complete the bikeway on the highway (Attachment 18). Ms. Gorman explained that this bill is so important and she urged the Committee to pass this legislation.
Penny Taylor, representing herself, spoke in support of H.B. 2625. Ms. Taylor explained that she is an avid cyclist and some days she bikes to work. She informed the Committee that she has struggled with motorists on the road. Cars get so close and there have been many times that she has felt threatened. She pointed out that cycling is great for the clean air campaign, it is good for health and it is beneficial for our state tourism because many cyclists come to Arizona because of our wonderful weather. She echoed Representative Preble’s comments that education is the key and that drivers need to be reminded to share the road.
Representative Preble asked for clarification regarding licensed vehicles. Additionally, she inquired about education with respect to drivers license applicants. Representative Norris addressed that issue and explained that at least one question regarding bicycling laws should be on the test.
Name of person recognized by the Chair who appeared in support of H.B. 2625 but did not speak:
Eric Edwards, Legislative Liaison, Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police
Representative Norris moved that H.B. 2625 do pass.
Representative Norris moved that the 7-line Norris Amendment dated
2/2/00 at 3:48 p.m. (Attachment 17) be adopted. The motion carried.
Representative Norris moved that H.B. 2625 as amended do pass.
The motion carried by a roll call vote of 6-0-0-0 (Attachment 19).
Here are the Senate minutes pasted:
H.B. 2625 – bicycles; traffic laws – DO PASS
Representative Norris, bill sponsor, explained the bill is an attempt to make safer traffic laws for bicyclists. Currently, the law requires passing a bicyclist with due care, and H.B. 2625 allows that due care by a tangible limit of three feet. In addition, it includes a fine if there are serious injuries of $500, or a $1,000 fine if death occurs as a result of a collision.
Senator Freestone stated he agrees with the direction, but has never yet seen a fine stop a death. He said there are torts and liabilities, which is a big threat of having to pay out millions of dollars of insurance and other assets to cover it. Increasing a fine only increases the coffers of a city or town. He said enforcement tools work, such as running a red light where there are cameras. However, a fine itself as just a punishment hoping that people will not do it again does not work. He said a fine may place a hardship on someone, but it has never stopped a death.
Representative Norris explained the intention is not to make money, because they do not wish to ever have to use those fines. However, it is an attempt to bring about some consistency. A $250 fine is imposed for parking in a handicapped parking space or by driving in a high occupancy vehicle lane. At this point, if someone kills a bicyclist, a $66 ticket is issued. She indicated she took language from a bill that was heard last year that if someone ran a red light and killed someone as a result, then it is a $1,000 fine. She said it does not make sense the way it is written currently, so she changed the language to conform to the other statute. She noted Mrs. Gorman from Tucson was present to explain further.
Senator Freestone commented her point may be well taken, however, he believes instead of a fine that people really need to think about what they are doing. When someone parks in a handicapped space, they chose to park there and deprive the rightful occupant from using that space. He explained he does not believe fines are the answer in saving a life. He would prefer to see any money go into a victim’s fund, rather than a government pool.
Senator Richardson stated she respectfully disagrees, because if there is no consequence or fine there would be more violations. Although she believes it is not the entire answer to the problem, fines are one tool to get in touch with the problem.
Senator Freestone replied that is true after the fact. He pointed out when a death occurs there are other laws that rule, such as manslaughter.
Senator Ciriillo stated his problem is how to enforce it, and who will be standing by with a yardstick. He commented unless there is a witness, an argument will take place as to the exact yardage.
Representative Norris responded certainly three feet is a tangible amount, because currently the statute indicates “due care,” which is even more difficult to prove. This legislation would provide an extra tool and more power to enforce.
Senator Cirillo stated there are many laws in place as deterrents. He said he is not sure that those individuals who are careless will actually be deterred, but perhaps some will.
Jean M. Gorman, Parent from Tucson, representing herself, indicated support for H.B. 2625. She said it is difficult to testify, but feels it is very important as well. She said her son was struck and killed from behind on a road that had three lanes, one of which was a center turn lane. She said the driver had plenty of room. The bicycle path had ended, but the driver did not pay attention. She believes to have this law on the books with the measurement and fine cannot help her son, but it may help other family members. She said she would also like to hopefully change people’s attitudes, which may be through their pocketbook. She said another situation occurred recently when a driver hit and killed a jogger, where there were no bicycle paths or paved shoulders. She said she was upset to hear people say that individual had no right to be on that road. Mrs. Gorman said it is a very important bill to hopefully save some lives.
Senator Bee announced names of individuals present in support of H.B. 2625: Mark Barnes, representing himself. Lorraine Brown, Administrative Services Officer, MVD, indicated no position, but was available to speak if necessary.
Penny Allee Taylor, Government Affairs Representative, representing herself and Southwest Gas Corporation, indicated support for H.B. 2625. She said she is a member of the Arizona Bicycle Club, Arizona Coalition of Bicyclists, and races for Dominic’s Racing Team in Arizona. She is also on the Phoenix Environmental Quality Commission and a member of the Maricopa County Trip Reduction Task Force. She said perhaps many people do not know that bicyclists represent approximately the same percentage of those who are riding in buses. She said they are not as noticeable, because they ride in safe neighborhoods, and not on major arterials. This bill sends a message to the public that bicyclists would appreciate a little extra room. It would be great to have a bike lane on every road, but it is not practical at this point. However, she stated many municipalities are providing funds to increase bicycle paths throughout the State. She noted that many low-income people cannot afford cars, and use bicycles for transportation. Bike riding is a wonderful family activity, but they would like it to be safe. Athletes or racers need to be safer. Cyclist events bring in people from all over, therefore, it helps tourism in the State. The Olympic training teams participate and train in Tucson and Flagstaff. She said she takes her trip reduction credit one day of the week by riding her bike, which is a tool given to the people by the State to clean the air. By riding her bike, she reduces traffic congestion. Southwest Gas has meter readers who ride their bikes to read meters. They are in the line of duty doing their job, and safety is an important issue for them. She asked for support for this bill to be courteous to bicyclists by giving them a “little extra space” to ride their bikes.
Senator Hamilton moved H.B. 2625 be returned with a DO PASS recommendation.
Senator Cirillo explained his vote. He said thought has to be given to other issues, because there are certain high traffic roads where bicycles should be prohibited. Having a three foot area will not be sufficient, especially if there are larger vehicles or trucks on those roads. He supports 100 percent the building of more bicycle lanes, because that is where they should be. He said he will vote aye.
Senator Freestone expressed his deepest sympathies for Mrs. Gorman, and he will vote aye.
Senator Richardson explained her vote. She said an important issue is enforcement. Any law has the same problem in being enforced, such as in jaywalking. However, she believes this bill is very important and will vote aye.
Senator Hamilton explained his vote. He said his understanding is that the bill provides for a $500 civil penalty for collision resulting in bodily injury, and $1,000 resulting in death. He said it is also his understanding that it is $250 fine, if someone runs a red light and injures or kills another. He does not see a huge difference in the intent of the law, and he believes it is reasonable to bring this law into compliance with similar laws. For now he will vote aye, but would like to talk to the sponsor to possibly amend the bill to bring it into the same category as other traffic violations involving the same types of incidents. He said $66 currently is inappropriate.
The motion CARRIED by a roll call vote of 6-0-1 (Attachment #8).
HB2503 (unsuccessful) From 2003
The bill was HB2503 in the 46th Legislature/1st regular session. This was supposed to be a “fix-up” to the 3 foot passing law, and should serve as a cautionary tale:
- Documents for bill.
- House Transportation Committee minutes for Feb 24, 2003.
- Senate Nat Resouces and Trans committee for April 1, 2003.
Here is a simple cut/paste of the Senate committee notes, I added some commentary in italics — there are several raging anti-bicyclist sentiments expressed by several of the lawmakers:
HB 2503 – bicycles; motor vehicle drivers – DO PASS AMENDED
Tracey Landers, Natural Resources and Transportation Committee Assistant Research Analyst, explained HB 2503 prescribes a civil penalty of $250 for a motor vehicle violating the minimum three feet safe passing distance around bicycles and allows drivers to enter a two way left turn lane to provide the minimum three foot safe passing distance to bicycles.
Ms. Landers explained the 2-line Binder amendment prohibits a bicycle from traveling at a slow speed that impedes or blocks the normal movement of traffic. (this amendment, which didn’t make it into the passed bill, would have been DISASTROUS for cyclists — it would effectively negate our right to the road. 28-704A now reads: “A person shall not drive a MOTOR vehicle at such a slow speed…”, the amendment would have added the words: “or bicycle” after vehicle)
Senator Binder announced the individuals who registered their position on the bill in addition to Bill Lazenby, representing himself in support of the bill and Ellen Metz representing herself in support of the bill
Alberto Gutier, representing himself, testified in support of the bill and noted this is a problem of mutual respect for both bicyclists and motorists. He commented that bicyclists need to respect all the traffic laws and in return, motorists need to respect the rights of bicyclists, especially when riding in the bicycle lane.
Penny Allee Taylor, Specialist/Government Affairs, Southwest Gas, testified that Southwest Gas has six meter readers that ride bicycles. She stated that this legislation is necessary for the promotion of safety and to help decrease emissions. She asked the Committee to support the bill.
Senator Jarrett moved HB 2503 be returned with a DO PASS recommendation.
Senator Jarrett moved the two-line Binder amendment dated 3/31/03 3:51 p.m. be ADOPTED (Attachment F). The motion CARRIED by a voice vote.
Senator Jarrett moved HB 2503 be returned with an AS AMENDED, DO PASS recommendation. The motion CARRIED by a roll call vote of 4-0-3 (Attachment 13).
The House Trans committee minutes Feb 24, 2033 excerpted :
H.B. 2503, bicycles; motor vehicle drivers – DO PASS
Kevin Haynie, Majority Intern, advised that H.B. 2503 makes changes to statute pertaining to the operation of bicycles (Attachment 31) as follows:
· Provides that a person may drive a motor vehicle at a reduced speed if necessary for safe operation when bicycles are present.
· Adds bicyclist to the prohibitions that the driver of a motor vehicle cannot overtake and pass another vehicle on the right unless the pavement is unobstructed.
· Establishes civil penalties for drivers who violate the current statutory minimums of a three-foot distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle: $250 if the violation does not result in death or serious physical injury. $500 if a collision results causing serious physical injury to a bicyclist. $1,000 if a collision results in the death to a bicyclist.
· Allows drivers of motor vehicles to enter a two-way left-turn lane in order to maintain the minimum three-foot distance required by law.
Mr. Thompson advised that this issue relates to bicycle safety.
Vice-Chairman Jayne announced that he had a Request to Speak form from the following person who is in favor of House Bill 2503:
Steve Kemp, City of Peoria
Rich Rumer, President, Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists, expressed support of H.B. 2503. He said this is clean-up legislation. There are instances where bicyclists in a bike lane need to make a left-hand turn, just like any other slow-moving vehicle. He said this bill is very important to all cyclists.
Mr. Nelson (that would be John B Nelson, still sitting on the house trans committee, lo these many years later) said his concern is how and when this legislation will be enforced. He said most streets are designed with 11 or 12-foot travel lanes and if there is a three-foot clearance, the average vehicle cannot move any faster than the bicyclist unless it moves into another lane. If this happens during peak driving hours, there is a real problem with this legislation. He asked who comes first, the bicyclist or the vehicle. (i think we all know where Mr. Nelson comes down on this question!)
Chairman Pierce resumed the Chair.
John Halikowski, Majority Research Analyst, advised that there are two issues in this legislation: riding as close to the curb as possible, and prescribing penalties if the bicyclist gets hit by a vehicle.
In response to Mr. Nelson, Mr. Halikowski related that bicycles and cars are subject to the same rules of the road.
Mr. Nelson asked whether this attempts to set parameters that give bicyclists more credence than cars. He thinks this puts the driver of a car at greater peril than the bicyclist. Mr. Halikowski advised that the three-foot rule currently exists in law. This only changes the penalty.
Ms. Burton Cahill asked the penalty for hitting a pedestrian. She wants to ensure that the penalties are not different for hitting a bicyclist as opposed to hitting a pedestrian. Mr. Halikowski answered that the penalty depends on what the motorist is cited for.
Mr. Lopes brought up the situation in Tucson and said this bill appears to exempt bicyclists from riding two abreast in the right-hand lane of a four-lane roadway. He advised that the Tucson Police Department has a concern about this provision and asked whether their concern is addressed in this legislation. Mr. Rumer explained that one particular person in Tucson insisted on riding side by side with another cyclist and was prosecuted for impeding traffic on purpose. He said he thinks that is a different issue than what this bill attempts to do.
Ms. Burton Cahill again expressed concern that this seems to be elevating the bicyclist over someone on foot. She asked Mr. Rumer if he would be amenable to making this a level playing field by valuing pedestrians and bicyclists equally. Mr. Rumer said he would not object to such an amendment. He said he does not think a driver or a pedestrian should be treated differently; however, pedestrians normally do not have a two-ton vehicle zooming by six inches from their left ear as cyclists do.
Ms. McClure advised that in the area where she lives, there are bicyclists riding side by side, and motorists are stuck behind them driving 20 miles (the horror!) per hour when the speed limit is 45. She said she has a problem when one bill is drafted to include all situations, and this seems to be one-sided.
Reed Kempton, representing himself, Mesa, testified in support of H.B. 2503. He advised that he has been a bicycle commuter here in the Valley for over 30 years. He said he thinks this is a good bill. It makes the road safer for everyone because it clarifies the issues. He related that it has always been law that motorists had to provide a safe distance between their vehicles and bicyclists when passing them. Two years ago, it was clarified that the distance had to be three feet, but there is no penalty for not complying. He pointed out that cyclists can already take the entire lane of a street if that lane is too narrow for a car and a bicycle to share. He asked for support of this bill.
Bill Lazenby, Vice President, Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists, spoke in support of H.B. 2503. He stated that this bill clarifies existing law. The intent is not to make cyclists more valuable than pedestrians.
Chairman Pierce announced that he had Request to Speak forms from the following people who are in favor of House Bill 2503:
Gene Holmerud, representing himself, Phoenix
Randi Alcott, Rapid Transit Authority and Valley Metro
Ed Beighe, representing himself, Phoenix
Jim Walen, Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists
Gene Holmerud, representing himself, Phoenix, expressed support of H.B. 2503. He said when he puts his arm out to signify that he is making a left turn, he wants extra assurance that drivers recognize his intent and that his arm will still be there. He said he finds that the closer he is to the curb, the less respect he gets from drivers. He advised that he does support the same protections for pedestrians.
Penny Allee Taylor, Southwest Gas, spoke in support of H.B. 2503. She said Southwest Gas’ interest in this legislation is because of its six meter readers who read meters using their bicycles. This legislation helps clarify the rules between the drivers of cars and the drivers of bicycles. A few years ago legislation on trip reduction was passed for companies with over 50 employees. Employees are given credits for choosing alternative transportation modes to reduce pollution, congestion, etc. She said she rides her bicycle to work one day a week to support her company’s efforts to reduce pollution. She said she would appreciate Members’ support.
Mr. Thompson moved that H.B. 2503 do pass. The motion carried with a roll call vote of 9-0-1-2 (Attachment 32).
HB2796 47th, 2r (2006) motorized electric; gas powered bicycles
This bill is quite a mess. The biggest problem is it defines that motorized bicycles as a bicycle with a certain sized motor “…that is operated at speeds of less than twenty miles per hour”. Note this is highly irregular; mopeds are not defined this way, and no other state (that i’ve seen; e.g. check CA, OH, FL) defines it this way — they all say the motor must be capable of propelling the device no faster than some speed, typically 20mph. This probably wouldn’t be a problem, however some jurisdictions (Tucson) have take the creative interpretation that this means a motorized bicycle operated at 20mph or faster is ipso facto a moped; an un-registered, un-insured (I dispute that mopeds require vehicle insurance by the way), and the rider is un-licensed if the rider has no license(moped drivers require a license). This is a veritable shitstorm of infractions, and indeed crimes (if, say, the rider has a suspended driver’s license). see moped-and-motorized-bicycles-in-arizona
Various From 51st Legislature, 2nd Regular Session (spring 2014)