Federal Bike Ban Petition

Yesterday I reported that the current version of the Senate’s federal transportation authorization bill, S. 1813 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, includes a law that will ban bicycles from using roads on federal lands if there is a parallel side path anywhere near the road. The law would force cyclists off certain roads and onto trails and paths, even if the paths were not paved.

The feelings behind this little legislative gem of a bike ban are that if the “taxpayers” pay to build a path, bicyclists damn well better use it and get out of the way of motorists on the road.  This is akin to demanding that motorists use interstate highways rather than parallel roads.

As pointed out yesterday in the comments section, this is a big a deal in other areas of the country (such as the southwest) where federal roads sometimes provide the only access across large areas of the states.  The staff at the League of American Bicyclists are watching this legislation carefully and are raising this issue with Congress. Right now, they want to show the Senate how important the right to the road is to cyclists – and voters. As part of the League’s “I Bike. I Vote.” campaign.  So please sign our petition opposing the mandatory sidepath provision.

Sign the petition.

You can stay up to date on effort to remove this mandatory sidepath clause and other critical issues in the proposed legislation by subscribing to this blog with the easy to use Feedburner above to the right.  Simply type in your email address and you will automatically get one email per day with a short intro to the blog posts published in the last 24 hours.  This is much easier for folks who check their emails on a regular basis but don’t use an RSS based blog reader.

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

9 thoughts on “Federal Bike Ban Petition

  1. How ridiculous! So with the outstanding rate of obesity in our country you want to ban cycling!?! Not to mention the rise in diabetes! Just what exactly will your carbon footprint be?

  2. Sounds like a good law to me. I almost hit a bike riding illegally on an interstate. Make bikes pay a per hour use fee democrat to cars per hour gas taxes

    • @Drives a car

      Depending on where your were, bikes are allowed on many interstates, but that really has nothing to do with this law. It has nothing to do with interstate highways, federal law already allows states to ban or allow bicycles on freeways. Some states ban them, some allow them. This law has more to do with federal roads in federal forests and other federal lands. As to the user fee, since highways are funded by income and property taxes, people riding bicycles already pay for the roads they ride on. Further, the vast majority of people who ride bicycles drive cars and pay wheel taxes, vehicle registration fees and gas taxes. The motor vehicle fees pay 100% of the cost of highways and roads, then it would be logical to ask bicycles to fund 100% of bicycle lanes and trails and shoes 100% of sidewalks and paths. Until that happens, people riding bicycles are being taxed enough already.

      Finally, on this comment forum, we have a culture of using our names for comments. Please consider doing so as well in the future.


  3. Does the proposed requirement that bicycles be ridden only on adjacent side paths apply when side paths are not plowed, as during winter months in most northern states? (I doubt that many states will want yet another federally mandated expense, this time to budget for snow removal on side paths, on the same time table as snow is removed on highways, even if only for those paths adjacent to federal highways.)

    • Warren, I’m not sure the bill considered people who bike in the winter, but federal law also requires facilities built with federal transportation funds be accessible (plowed) in the winter. That said, the law is rarely enforced.

  4. In Wyoming half of our state is federally-owned. Maybe the bill’s sponsor should talk to the head of WYDOT –– who is an avid bicyclist––about the bill. I rode my bicycle from coast to coast, demonstrating that oxygen-dependent people can still be physically active and mobile, but I could not have done it without riding on federal highways.

    • Mark, when I initially wrote about the Senate bill, I was a bit dismissive about the ban as it has little impact in Wisconsin. Someone quickly wrote to me that out west, this is a really big deal. That is why the League of American Bicyclists have the petition up. I hope you will sign it and encourage your friends to do so as well.

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