I did something awesome last Tuesday night!
A bill was introduced by a Wyoming House of Representatives member, House Bill 0206 (HB0206 for short), or “Bicycles on Roadways.” It quickly caught on among the Wyoming cycling groups and we were instantly alarmed.
Long story short, HB0206 was compromised of three parts:
- All cyclists must wear 200 square inches of high visibility green, orange, or pink while operating a bicycle on any roadway within the state of Wyoming
- Say what?
- All bicycles must be equipped with a rear flashing light
- Even in the day…
- All cyclists must carry a government issued ID at all times
- Dang, that sucks for the elementary-aged child…
I’m not sure I really have to go into detail on why this was just BAD NEWS for bicycling in Wyoming.
I wrote a decently long email to my house district representative, urging her to not support this piece of legislation. Later that day on Tuesday I just happened to stop by the Bicycle Station and Patrick (the owner) was in a flurry to get to the State Capitol Building to testify before the House Transportation Committee against this bill. So I ran home, grabbed my team’s jacket, and joined Patrick, George from Rock on Wheels, Shareen, Mike, Amber Travsky, and another cyclist named Patrick.
I was kinda amazed… I had no idea that the general people could go and speak at such things! It’s been a long time since 9th grade civics class, and my knowledge of the legislative process is lacking. Patrick briefed me on how to address the committee (“Mr. Chairman, members of the committee..”). After waiting about 3.5 hours HB0206 was called to be discussed by the committee.
I was nervous. Representative Northrup, the bill’s author and main sponsor presented the bill and I had to control my face as he tried to justify his actions. After he spoke the committee questioned him, and the Wyoming Highway Patrol didn’t have any comments, which meant the floor was open to public comments. Patrick went first with a well prepared speech in opposition (which included using Shareen and I as models of cycling kits, ha!), followed by Amber who shared what she wears, her experience getting hit by cars, and experiences on the Tour de Wyoming. Then I jumped up.
I could feel my heart beating in my jugular veins and wanted to puke. Downright one of the scariest things I have ever done! I started out by telling the committee how my Colorado teammates and friends are always asking why I don’t just move to Colorado and I talked about growing up in Wyoming and how I’ve established my life here and like it here. I segwayed that into why I disagreed with 200 square inches of neon being the solution to cyclist safety, bringing up distracted drivers and hostile drivers and how neon does not change those situations. I talked about my RoadID, which offers more than my driver’s license does in terms of emergency info (though I will say the ID requirement was not my major beef with this bill – it was the forced regulation of the cycling clothing I choose to wear). The committee asked me about my experiences riding and racing in other states since I had mentioned that, and if other states had laws like this. I talked about how Colorado has the 3 foot law, but otherwise I have NEVER been told what to wear while on a bicycle in any other state.
It was such a relief to sit down, but I’m happy I spoke! The rest soon followed. When the committee went to vote I crossed my fingers and counted off all the nays – and it was voted down unanimously! I could’ve screamed in joy!
High fives and hugs were shared. Several committee members came up and shook my hand and thanked me for speaking. Overall, it was an awesome experience. Like I said, I had no idea that the general people could play a role in whether a bill passes or dies. I’m so happy I went and spoke in opposition to something that would’ve had a stupidly stupid impact on a very big part of my life.
There’s two more cycling related bills in the legislative session right now: House Bill 85, or the “3 foot passing law” and a Senate file about studying the impact of bicycling (I can’t remember the exact number). HB85 has been passed by the House of Representatives and has been introduced to the Senate. I am hoping I will be able to go and speak in favor of both HB85 and the Senate file. I think this won’t be the last time I’m in the State Capitol building with a jacket on that says “Naked” right across my chest! 😀
I do believe South Dakota has introduced a bill similar to HB0206, trying to regulate cyclists’ clothing colors, so it’s just not Wyoming drinking the crazy Kool-aid. This has definitely opened my eyes to how people who aren’t cyclists are trying to regulate cyclists all across the country. I know some of their intentions may be good (as who doesn’t want people to be safe?), but on the other hand you cannot regulate and enforce common sense. I know the serious cyclists already do what they can to be seen, ID’d, and safe. The college kids, drunks coming from the bar, and random hooligans on bicycles already don’t follow the laws and wouldn’t follow any new laws. So who does bills like this really hurt? Yeah, us that are already playing safe 😦