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HB 1073 Drives Bicyclists (and Two-Wheeled Tourism) into the Ditch

A cranky minority of legislators hate bicyclists. We saw an outbreak of two-wheeler-whacking during last year’s successful effort to write into law the passing berth motorists must give bicyclists. Now some legislators who hate bicycles are proposing House Bill 1073, which amends an important bicycle safety statute in three ways that put cyclists at greater risk:

  1. The current law requires cyclists to ride as close as practicable to the righthand curb or edge of the road, with an exception for avoiding hazardous conditions. The current law says those conditions include but are not limited to fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, and surface hazards. HB 1073 removes the catch-all clause that allows other unlisted hazards to justify leaning left. Are branches hanging down over the roadway considered a surface hazard? How about a stiff north wind as I try to keep it steady heading eastbound?
  2. Worse, HB 1073 removes the allowance for bicyclists to ride away from the curb on substandard-width roads, those that are too narrow to accommodate both a bicycle and a car. Instead of letting cyclists remain visible and safe, HB 1073 forces cyclists to hug that the edge of the pavement on those narrow roads, inviting motorists to squeeze by them on roads where squeezing cannot safely take place.
  3. In the killer, HB 1073 literally orders bicyclists off the road:

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 [excerpt, House Bill 1073, posted 2016.01.21].

CAH bicycle shadow
I’d like to do this again sometime. So would lots of other tourists who spend more money in the Black Hills than I.

Want to kill bicycle tourism in the Black Hills? That line does it. Riding Spearfish Canyon becomes practically impossible, as the popular road between Savoy and Cheyenne Crossing in many places has no shoulder and often little to no room for cyclists to step off safely even if they wanted to. Even if I brave the bush or dive over the drop-off, I’ll be dismounting on a nice day in the Canyon every minute, making a nice smooth ride in a reasonable time frame impossible.

Hillary Angus of Momentum Mag (wow, South Dakota Legislature—can you ever get national press for doing something amazingly good?) recognizes that basic impracticality and the heightened risk HB 1073 poses for bicyclists:

…there are a lot of practical considerations that don’t really add up. If there is no shoulder, where is the person with the bike supposed to go? Sure in an urban setting they can stand on the sidewalk while letting streams of car pass them by, but what about on any one of the state’s 5,875 bridges? Or roads with guardrails such as this one [Iron Mountain Road! whoo-hoo!], which you’ll note has a shoulder of less than three feet in a no-passing zone. I can only assume bicyclists in this case are just supposed to toss the bike over the edge and sit on the fence while the car passes? [Hillary Angus, “South Dakota Bill Would Require Cyclists to Dismount for Passing Cars,” Momentum Mag, 2016.01.25]

Dakota Rural Action says HB 1073 undermines the sensible shared use of roads:

Sure, roadways are inherently the realm of automobiles. But nowadays the shared use of roads amongst a diversity of travel modes is a given and has been promoted by public policy at all levels. HB 1073 is a push against that important norm. It offers exclusive solutions favoring the motor vehicle where simple, inclusive solutions could solve the problem. Looking to initiatives like Complete Streets, which has shaped policy in a number of municipalities across the state, is a great place to start. Complete Streets is smart policy that fosters healthy growth plans through the incorporation all forms of transportation. Rather than simply pushing the bicyclist, pedestrian, or any other slower, human-powered traveler off the road, state legislators should look to creating roadways that incorporate diversity of travel [Tony Helland, “HB 1073—Get off the Road, Cyclists?” Dakota Rural Action Legislative blog, 2016.01.27].

Amish carriages go slower than most cyclists, but the Ohio Department of Transportation doesn’t tell the Amish to head for the ditch every time the English come roaring up behind them. Instead, Ohio DOT reminds car drivers of their responsibility to be extra cautious, to “slow down and give buggies and horse-drawn equipment plenty of room when passing” and “only pass when legal and safe.”

Sioux Falls cyclist Michael Christensen of The MinusCar Project is hosting weekly phone meetings to discuss this matter and organize some positive legislative action. Cyclists can take their first positive action to kill HB 1073 by attending tomorrow (Thursday, January 28) morning’s hearing of the House Transportation Committee, Room 413 in the Capitol at 10 a.m. HB 1073 is the only bill on the committee’s agenda. Five of House Transportation’s thirteen members, including chairman Mike Verchio, are sponsoring HB 1073. But this same committee passed last year’s safety-enhancing bike-passing bill unanimously (with Verchio and Werener absent), and eleven of the committee’s members voted for that bill on the House floor. Contact those members today and encourage them not to undo the good work they did for bicycle safety last year.


  1. Bill Dithmer 2016-01-27

    I dont find bike safety that important, move on. Isnt that what you said about medical cannabis?

    The Blindman

  2. Jenny 2016-01-27

    This bill is just ridiculous and foolish The SD legislature should invest in making the Hills more bicycle friendly not less. Not good for Black Hills tourism, not good.

  3. Jenny 2016-01-27

    There are definitely bicyclists that spend more money in the Hills than you, Cory. Especially those liberal transgender Minneapolis ones. SD must be trying to get them to go elsewhere with their money.

  4. mike from iowa 2016-01-27

    Any ordinance against jake brakes on bikes?

  5. J Srstka 2016-01-27

    These laws should probably apply to any none licensed vehicle, that is not capable of maintaining the posted speed limit.

  6. Mark Winegar 2016-01-27

    Tourists often pose an inconvenience to residents. Deal with it! If residents want to be able to move faster then we should build bike–friendly roadways with some of our tourism dollars.

  7. jerry 2016-01-27

    Bicycle tourism is a big deal in South Dakota, a real big deal. I am surprised that this stinker has even gotten a bill name as there are many places in the state that make a great deal of money from these folks. The bicyclists have every right to road safety as I do in my car. I yield to slower moving cars without question. ALEC must be whispering in their republican ears about energy savings and they want no part of it. Fresh air, screw that. Enjoyment, nope, we can’t have that, safety, if they believed in that they would pass the Medicaid Expansion. This boys and girls need to find a different place to work, like crossword puzzles or something that keeps them away from civilized society.

  8. Paul Seamans 2016-01-27

    Could this bill somehow be amended to get slow moving farm vehicles off the road and into the ditch.

  9. jerry 2016-01-27

    Mr. Seamans, you like to live on the edge with a suggestion like that, but it is true, why not? Good for the goose and all of that.

  10. Madman 2016-01-27

    Perhaps bicyclists will need to have a second rider facing rear to alert the driver to pull over and hang from those guardrails to let those cars pass. How about when my kids ride their bikes around the residential areas of town. Do they need to squeeze between the parked car and curb also. I hate for them to inconvenience someone who’s driving. Or maybe its those darn charities who do bike fundraisers that go by my house in the summer. It’s annoying to see folks supporting the American Cancer Association by doing an event…..and don’t get me started on the bicycling tourists.

    If these don’t seem ridiculous then you probably support this bill.

  11. mike from iowa 2016-01-27

    Don’t think your ditches be wide enough for some of the equipment purchased recently when crops were worth something.

  12. mike from iowa 2016-01-27

    What is with that photo? Did some disgusted biker toss a burning cig into the catttails and burn the place up?

  13. C Carter 2016-01-27

    Sounds like some of our three-quarter ton metal-ensconced lords of the road are merely trying to protect our highways from the two-wheeled tyranny of a few skinny bicyclists.

  14. jake 2016-01-27

    Next year will come a bill registering/licensing bicycles on public roads. (SD needs the $$$!!!)

  15. Ben Cerwinske 2016-01-27

    Even though bicyclists on the road sometimes make me nervous, I don’t see a need to further restrict their activity.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-27

    Bill, I’m not convinced by the science on medical cannabis. I am convinced by the science on what happens to bikes when cars drive them into the ditch.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-27

    (Mike, are you talking about the shadow in the ditch? Sun is low behind that photo, casting a shadow of the road across the ditch.)

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-27

    C Carter’s thoughts line up with this excellent reminder from Bicycling (yes, the national magazine—we’re going big-time with this story) that HB 1073 violates the fundamental rule of the trail: bigger and faster yield to smaller and slower… and everybody yields to horses:

    Right-of-way laws usually prioritize more vulnerable travelers, but a recently introduced bill in South Dakota drastically bucks that trend. Per House Bill 1073, if a car approaches a cyclist within a no-passing zone, without a road shoulder at least three feet wide, “the [cyclist] shall stop the bicycle, move the bicycle off the roadway, and allow a faster vehicle to pass.” That’s right: If a car is trying to pass you, you will be obligated to stop, dismount, and walk your bike [Molly Hurford, “Is This the Craziest Proposed Bike Law Yet?Bicycling, 2016.01.27].

    Hurford lists all sorts of complications that arise from the bill text:

    The bill brings up a whole host of questions: If another cyclist overtakes you, do you need to come to a complete stop? Does a slow-moving tractor need to stop to let a speedy cyclist pass? If you’re in a group ride… Wait, can you even be in a group ride in this scenario? What if a horse passes you, and you want to pass back? (And then, what if you startle the horse?) [Hurford, 2016.01.27].

    The craziest law, says Hurford. I hear MinusCar is organizing lots of people-power proponents (yes, two meanings) to contact House Transportation to explain the bill’s craziness and send it into the ditch at tomorrow mornings hearing.

  19. Roger Elgersma 2016-01-27

    So should tractors head for the ditch when a car comes up behind them. A tractor is wider and more in the way than a bicycle.
    A hundred years ago the speed limit in Sioux Falls was about ten miles an hour so the horses would not scare. Pedestrians have always had the right of way. Letting the poorer slower people have a chance has always been status quo. Now they would rather run the poorer slower people off the road. This coincides with the opinion of no national health care when the Bible says the good Samaritan was the good one, rather than help the poor have a chance they now want the poor off of the road.

  20. mike from iowa 2016-01-27

    Thanks,Master. I stand corrected. It looks like a burn from iowa.

  21. Les 2016-01-27

    Poor people’s cars don’t cost as much as the $500-3000 bikes those avid riders ride. This has more to do with influential folks twisting the tail of their legislators.

    The same as a Black Hills community where they marked no parking along a street because an influential neighbor didn’t like to drive past parallel parked cars, Roger. The feeble excuse was, children could run out from in between them.

    All BS from a nanny state government that will hopefully soon be voted out of office.

  22. Paul Seamans 2016-01-27

    I think that present federal law sets aside 10% to 15% of federal gas tax money for projects other than building roads. One of the uses is bike trails. Anyone who has driven between Miller and St. Lawrence, a distant of about three miles, will notice the nice paved bike/walking path in the ditch. I am assuming that your federal fuel tax helped pay for this. The restoration of the Chicago Northwestern depot in Ft. Pierre was partially funded by a $500,000 grant from the USDOT using fuel tax moneys.

    Maybe our legislature should be pursuing solutions such as bike paths rather than forcing bicycles/pedestrians into the ditch. These paths wouldn’t even need to be paved. In Nebraska the old rail line that parallels Hwy. 20 (through Valentine) has been turned into a graveled biking/hiking/horse riding trail with restrooms at intervals.

  23. Les 2016-01-27

    Mickelson Trail, Paul?

  24. jerry 2016-01-27

    There is a plan for a bike trail between Rapid City and Kadoka on the old state owned Milwaukee Roadbed. The state has the numbers to show the feasibility of that venture, so why are they going in the opposite direction.

  25. Paul Seamans 2016-01-27

    Yes Les, Michelson Trail only across the entire state of Nebraska, east to west.

    Jerry, wouldn’t that be a beautiful trail, Kadoka to Rapid City. Let’s start it in Vivian instead of Kadoka.

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-27

    A bike trail spanning the state? Now there’s an idea for a hoghouse of HB 1073! Paul, we’ll swing that trail by your place and keep going all the way to Minnesota!

  27. leslie 2016-01-27

    Transportation planning by 80 some non-transportation planners. Hey this 80mph thingee is easy! Get those bikes outta my way. And whatever liz may says too today.

  28. Caleb Evenson 2016-01-27

    “Poor people’s cars don’t cost as much as the $500-3000 bikes those avid riders ride.”

    I spent right around $2,000 on my touring bicycle almost three years ago. I have used it nearly every day in that time, and even used it to cross many states. Since that initial investment, I have spent $99 to replace a bent saddle (Amtrak…) and about $50 in chains, but otherwise have invested nothing more into the bike. Obviously I didn’t have to buy gasoline or diesel to use it, nor have I had to insure it in order to legally ride it on public roads. The machine has shown little sign of wear, so I anticipate I will get many more years’ use for such small expense.

    Using relatively expensive bikes is often still cheaper than the cheapest automobile use.

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-01-28

    Les, I agree that this bill is another example of bad priorities among our legislators and another justification for voting for new management this year. (What district are you in, Les? Can we get you to run?)

    Caleb makes an interesting observation about bike-o-nomics. Invest in a good bike, integrate it into your daily routine, and you will enjoy ongoing savings… not to mention a smile on your face. Whatever the price of the bike, bicycling is a mode of transportation that our Legislature should encourage at every turn.

  30. Lynn 2016-01-28


    $3,000 to $5,000 is like the borderline of finding a decent used car or minivan and I stress car not a SUV or pickup that has AWD or 4WD. Cars or minivans at that bottom end of the price range can still be found that are reliable and have a decent service life left. Go below that amount and a buyers risk will go up substantially.

    Used bicycles are by far the best buys since they can depreciate quite a bit. If someone was legally unable to drive for various reasons such as a DUI or had a desire to be extremely frugal or very limited resources many towns have volunteers that fix up old bikes and donate them to those in need. Those bikes can be of poor quality such as those found at Walmart which still can serve basic transportation needs to a professional bicycle shop quality which would be substantially better quality, more reliable and safer.

    Used quality bikes from professional bicycle shops can range from $50.00, $150, $500 and up depending on the bike and what that rider/buyer is looking for in their needs and enjoyment.

    Health care costs and sick days are lower for cyclist. Quality of life and productivity are up with those who bike often and especially to work besides saving quite a bit of money.

    This legislation is just not practical or well thought out. Courtesy goes both ways for the driver and the cyclist in rare examples such as a very narrow road in the hills.

  31. Lynn 2016-01-28


    $5,000 would be about the lowest these days for a decent older probably higher mileage car or minivan. Lower than that and the risk goes up for the buyer. Regardless I’d stress getting whichever vehicle most interested in checked out by a trusted automotive technician which should be factored into the cost of a vehicle purchase.

  32. larry kurtz 2016-01-28


  33. larry kurtz 2016-01-28

    because les has no idea how much anything costs.

  34. barry freed 2016-01-28

    I slow and drive carefully around walkers, bikers, dogs, cats, and cows because I have a responsibility to not run into anything with my car, regardless of right-of-ways or whatever.

    Cory, you don’t believe the science behind marijuana research because that is your choice. It has nothing to do with reason. Most liberal indeed.

    Once again, that second grader we saw on CNN in Colorado, who would now be dead, has learned to walk, speak, go to school, and hug her parents with the help of Cannabis. You and your ilk would have her dead from her seizures or opiates to protect her and us from the “evil weed”. Grow up.

  35. BIll DIthmer 2016-01-28

    barry freed, yup.

    The Blindman

  36. BIll DIthmer 2016-01-28

    Forty years ago there was a place in Speardog that rented out a bicycle built for two. They had two of em and they rented for half. You had to put your name on a list.

    But then that was Spearfish at a much slower time. Change, and time, haven’t been kind to a once fun town.

    The Blindman

  37. Les 2016-01-28

    Poor people are too busy working three jobs to bike. I know you can find poor people on a junker for a 100 bucks. The riders in the Hills mostly ride $500 and up.

    Cory and his ilk? Hillary and her ilk? Trump and his ilk? Les and his ilk? Doesn’t sound too bad after a few ilks or a few swigs of “worry no more”.

    Folks in biz can’t run any public position, Cory.

  38. Les 2016-01-28

    Dog n Suds, Bill.

  39. BIll DIthmer 2016-01-28

    We’d walk or ride down from Kamp Kool for a corn dog and a root beer. Always went the same way, under the hill that Joseph built then east across the bridge.

    Good times man.

    The Blindman

  40. BIll DIthmer 2016-01-28

    Just c.f. or you Les

    The Blindman

  41. jerry 2016-01-28

    That proposed trail from Kadoka to Rapid City is multi use as well. So you could use it for horse use as well as bicycle use. Non motorized would be the only requirements so that would keep dirt bikes and the like off the trail. A former state congressman, Garnos from Presho, sponsored that as I recall. I am not so sure that Vivian could be added as there is still rail there. Are they going to be able to go to Murdo with the wheat trains Mr. Seamans?

  42. mike from iowa 2016-01-28

    Who gets the responsibility of picking up after the bikes?yhey are quite messy,aren’t they?

  43. jerry 2016-01-28

    I am trying to wrap my head around why the state of South Dakota would want to kick tourism money to the curb. Take a look at the bike industry here in the state. It is pretty big and you can see from the bikes on the backs of cars and on top of them that this is good business. Why not embrace it rather than try to kill it? If we have so much money that we don’t care about things like this, give it to the teachers.

  44. Paul Seamans 2016-01-28

    Jerry, at present the rail is being rehabilitated to Presho. The wheat growers are presently building a huge grain/fertilizer facility with a unit train track on 160 acres at Kennebec. There is an effort to extend the rail to Murdo but I can’t see that happening. Much of the land west of Murdo is better suited to raising livestock. Plus the track would cross Hwy 83 west of Vivian, this would cause a problem. The rail line between Vivian and Draper crosses Medicine Creek thirteen times. This is a scenic section that would be better suited to a bike path than for hauling grain. Plus the old Milwaukee Line pretty much parallels old Hwy. 16 from Chamberlain to Kadoka then veers off through the Badlands. I would like to see from Presho to Rapid City turned into a bike/hiking trail

  45. jerry 2016-01-28

    That is a pretty area for sure. The biggest obstacles would be the ranchers themselves. There were several against the the proposed trail between Kadoka and Rapid City. I think they felt like they owned that property now that the rail line has not been used for some time. What would really be cool is if they could make it even more usable and have freight and passenger service across the state by rail with a multi-use trail beside it for bicycles as well as walking and horse trails as well. Whenever I travel from Vivian to Pierre, I really do not notice the traffic as being heavy enough to cause problems at that rail crossing there, what do you see? I know the ol’ Coffee Cup (good rolls) is pretty busy though, but it also gets stops from the interstate going east and west.

  46. Paul Seamans 2016-01-28

    Jerry, since Hwy 83 has gone to four lane the traffic is probably four to five times what it used to be. A few years back you could drive the 30+ miles from the CoffeeCup to Pierre in the summer and meet maybe a dozen vehicles. Landowners along the route would be a sticking point. The railroads used to maintain the fences and in many cases these fences are gone now.

  47. jerry 2016-01-28

    I went north on 83 about a month ago. Good road, but I do not remember the traffic as being heavy. In the summer time, I go on that road a few times as well, but never on the weekends. I would think that would be very busy for recreation travelers. Landowners are always the sticking point as they would have to be assured that the fence would be maintained and that there would be ways of maintaining it as well as holding them harmless in the event of fire or other mishap. Rest areas and Safety would also need to be addressed in the event of a wreck or rattlesnake bite. It can be done, but it would take negotiating and money. It could be a huge shot in the arm for those areas though from the tourists. Tourist moolah equals tax moolah. Put a couple of pennies onto the sales for that particular area and you would see some improvements.

  48. John Wrede 2016-01-28

    Cory: The trail suggestion across the state has merit. Please take a look at what Nebraska is doing with “The Cowboy Trail: Valentine was once the trailhead for cowboys bringing their cattle in from the Sandhills. They sold the cattle at market, and a rail line moved their cattle to cities back east. Today, the railroad is gone but the rail bed is the Cowboy Trail, used for hiking and biking. When the crushed limestone trail is completed, it will be the nation’s longest continuous recreational trail, stretching 321 miles from Norfolk to Chadron.

    This is a rails to trails project no different than the Mickelson Trail and others in the state. We have miles and miles of abandoned rail line some of which has been relicted back to the state and just sits there. There is a stretch outside Rapid City from Farmingdale to the Cheyenne River that has had nothing done to it since Janklow. If we honestly want to make life safe and enjoyable for cross country bicyclists, a trail on abandon rail lines and on private land easements similar to the eastern SD snowmobile trails complex is a viable idea. It makes a lot more sense than trying to legislate unlicensed, non motorized vehicles. I’ve been on several parts of the Cowboy Trail when working for NPS in Valentine and O’Neil and it is a large asset to Nebraska that can only grow. If it needs to be maintained, a small toll like that of the Mickelson trail may do the trick. One thing for sure; it would get rid of foolish debates about giving bicyclists a birth of 6 feet by a passing vehicle or requiring bicyclists to walk into the ditch with their bike when a passing vehicle approaches from behind. If a bicyclist wants to travel across SD, and see some honest Americana in the process, what better way to do it than on an slightly improved, abandoned rail bed??????????????? If you want to get around in a town……….. ride the bike path like we do in Rapid City. Don’t have one? build one………….

  49. Lynn 2016-01-28


    There may be a good old car out there for $100, $150 or $300 but finding one that does not end up being a money pit for those that can least afford it and is safe is like finding a needle in a haystack.

    Your right in that riding a bike for many of those working poor is simply not possible depending on the local terrain, climate and if they do have 3 jobs plus all spaced apart in distance.

    There are people that I have seen on a regular basis in different South Dakota towns and cities that ride for the reasons I mentioned above and have very limited financial resources. They are not the bike enthusiasts all decked out in the latest weather related technical wear, expensive bikes and most often don’t even wear a helmet. They wear street clothes or work clothes riding in all weather conditions nearly year round and then see walking in winter which can be a couple of miles.

    Back to the proposed legislation it is an overreaction. Cyclists more than likely will plan their routes to avoid busy streets or roads with little options to place more distance between themselves other cars going in the same direction. It’s stressful and increases the risk of getting hit by a car. Courtesy by both driver and rider go a long way. Why make drivers mad at you backing up traffic behind you with little opportunity for them to pass? One does not know what state of mind some of those drivers are in and a car vs a bicycle contest will not go too well for the cyclist. Pull over and let them pass if need by in a unique circumstance or plan a safer less stressful route.

    Can’t imagine anyone having a desire to ride their bikes on Minnesota or 41st Street in Sioux Falls or streets with the most traffic in any of our cities. It’s just asking for trouble. No need for a law on this.

  50. Caleb Evenson 2016-01-28

    I’ve been told bicyclists potentially leaving messes was one of the biggest arguments farmers had for opposing a rail trail that would have gone from Brookings to Watertown, which I find akin to tragic. A large portion of people willing to pedal a bicycle from one town to another are conscientious toward nature in general. Such conscientiousness is often what prompts people to ride a bicycle in the first place.

    Of course, some bicyclists are just inconsiderate and careless, so might leave a mess, but such a situation would likely be the minority, and would hardly be in contrast to all the littering people do from their automobiles. Opposing a trail on the basis of potential messes is irresponsible given what negative impacts bicycle riding can offset.

    Les, how do you define “poor”, and how do you know how much time has anyone who is that?

  51. Les 2016-01-28

    It appears, poor and short on time ain’t you, Caleb.

    It’s late, have another shot of “worry no more”. You think too much.

  52. Caleb Evenson 2016-01-29

    Rude is how your response appears to me, Les.

Comments are closed.