Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/01/1994 05:00 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  TAPE 94-7, SIDE A                                                            
  Number 000                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR FOSTER called the meeting to order at 5:10 p.m.  He                    
  introduced REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DAVIES as the sponsor of HB
  437 and thanked him for attending.                                           
                                                                               
  HB 437 - BICYCLES ON LIMITED ACCESS HIGHWAYS                                 
                                                                               
  Number 006                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES introduced HB 437 by stating:                          
                                                                               
  "Bicycles are an economical, environmentally sound and                       
  healthy form of transportation that should be encouraged by                  
  the state.  However, current regulations prohibit bicycles                   
  on many highways.  This type of policy has the effect of                     
  discouraging bicycle use as a basic form of transportation.                  
  HB 437 would prohibit regulations that restrict bicycle use                  
  on highways.  It would prohibit the harassment of                            
  bicyclists.  Additionally, this legislation would direct the                 
  department to consider the safe use of bicycles when                         
  planning, designing, and constructing highways.  Finally,                    
  the department would be required to encourage the safe use                   
  of bicycles as a basic means of transportation."                             
                                                                               
  Number 041                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked Representative Davies if there is                 
  a statutory standard for safe bicycle operation.                             
                                                                               
  Number 060                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES responded that, to his knowledge,                      
  there is currently no statutory standard safe bicycle                        
  operation, but there are regulations which provide that when                 
  you operate a bicycle on the highway, you must comply with                   
  all of the standards set for motor vehicle operators.  He                    
  added that a significant amount of bicycle safety operation                  
  would be useful in avoiding traffic fatalities, although he                  
  had not called for such programs in this bill.                               
                                                                               
  Number 096                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked Representative Davies how the                    
  prohibition against harassment contained in the bill would                   
  be enforced.                                                                 
                                                                               
  Number 103                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES responded that, as already contained                   
  in Title 28, harassment of a bicyclist would be                              
  characterized as a general misdemeanor, with a maximum                       
  possible penalty of $500.00 or 90 days.                                      
                                                                               
  Number 125                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES directed the attention of the                          
  committee to a suggested amendment he had prepared in the                    
  event that the committee felt it would improve the bill.                     
  The amendment would define harassment in a more specific                     
  way.                                                                         
                                                                               
  Number 145                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR FOSTER moved that the amendment be incorporated in the                 
  bill and asked if there was objection.                                       
                                                                               
  Number 153                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY stated that he did not understand the                   
  amendment and wondered why the definition of harassment                      
  should be limited to acts directed at bicyclists rather than                 
  just harassment in general, against anyone.                                  
                                                                               
  Number 160                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON commented to Representative Davies on                  
  the use of the word "intimidating" in the bill text, and                     
  asked what was meant by the word, since he sometimes felt                    
  intimidated just showing up at committee meetings.                           
                                                                               
  Number 167                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES responded that his intent was to                       
  address situations where bicyclists are lawfully biking down                 
  the road and motor vehicle operators come along and make                     
  threatening or abusive gestures in an attempt to suggest                     
  that the bicyclists don't belong on the roadway.  He added                   
  that the purpose of this bill is to encourage the safe use                   
  of bicycles on the road; the suggestion, by motor vehicle                    
  operators, that bicyclists don't belong on the road is one                   
  he finds offensive.                                                          
                                                                               
  Number 206                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked if there was precedent in other                  
  states for this proposed legislation.                                        
                                                                               
  Number 210                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES responded that he does not know if                     
  such legislation exists in other states.                                     
                                                                               
  Number 217                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER asked if this bill would result in a                   
  need for more or wider bike path areas along the side of                     
  highways, resulting in fewer funds available for more lane                   
  miles.  He expressed concern that the parameters in the bill                 
  be seen as mandates for wider shoulders.                                     
                                                                               
  Number 236                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES responded that his understanding was                   
  that when the DOT designs highways, they take bicycles into                  
  account, and they follow a guide which says unless bicycles                  
  are specifically prohibited, design should take into                         
  consideration that the highway will also be used by                          
  bicycles.  He added that his personal intent, in introducing                 
  the bill, is simply to provide a good shoulder, which are                    
  needed for other purposes anyway, so it shouldn't actually                   
  cost a great deal more, since the DOT is already doing this.                 
  He said that further considerations needed to be made at                     
  interchanges.                                                                
                                                                               
  Number 263                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER asked Representative Davies why a                      
  separate lane would be more dangerous than being on the                      
  highway.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 267                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES responded that, generally speaking,                    
  when separate bicycle paths are constructed, they often                      
  cross a series of driveways, and there is a tendency not to                  
  observe the traffic on the bicycle path when it is separated                 
  from the edge of the road.  He added that in Fairbanks, for                  
  example, bike paths are not maintained in the winter, so                     
  don't work very well.                                                        
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY commented that the bike paths being                     
  built in the Interior are being built as separate paths.                     
                                                                               
  Number 304                                                                   
                                                                               
  SIMON RAKOWER, via teleconference, wished to express support                 
  of HB 437, adding that until one has been harassed while                     
  riding a bike, one cannot understand the impact.  He                         
  concluded by saying that he concurred with everything                        
  Representative Davies had said, and that 15 other states                     
  allow bicycles on interstates.                                               
                                                                               
                                                                               
  CHAIR FOSTER thanked Mr. Rakower and asked if the Department                 
  of Public Safety (DPS) had any comments to make.                             
                                                                               
  Number 328                                                                   
                                                                               
  LORN CAMPBELL identified himself as being with the Highway                   
  Safety Planning Agency (HSPA), DPS.  He stated that the                      
  concern with the bill is that a lot of highways in the state                 
  are not set up for the scenario mandated in the bill, and                    
  that safety is a great concern.  He added that HB 437 would,                 
  in effect, nullify many of the HSPA's efforts at maintaining                 
  highway safety.  He concluded that HB 437 asks for                           
  accidents, although HSPA would be supportive of the separate                 
  bike path concept.                                                           
                                                                               
  Number 360                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON remarked that safety is an important                   
  consideration, and noted some Juneau area bike paths which                   
  are separate from the road.  He asked Representative Davies                  
  if bicyclists should be licensed, if the highways are to be                  
  opened up to them.                                                           
                                                                               
  Number 368                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES responded that licensing would be a                    
  fine thing to do, and called the committee's attention to                    
  line 7 of the bill, which provides that the commissioner                     
  would regulate the manner of operation of bicycles.  He said                 
  he is of the opinion that the DPS has the authority to set                   
  regulations.                                                                 
                                                                               
  Number 383                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. CAMPBELL made the point that under the federal ISTEA                     
  (Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act), states                   
  are asked to look at specific bicycle areas in conjunction                   
  with the regular highways, but with some of Alaska's narrow,                 
  curvaceous roadways, it could be fairly costly.                              
                                                                               
  Number 391                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said that breakdown lanes are already                  
  being constructed in Alaska.                                                 
                                                                               
  Number 401                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. CAMPBELL concurred with Representative Davies' comment                   
  about breakdown lanes, but added that there are a lot of                     
  highways that are not up to breakdown lane standards.  He                    
  cautioned that the commissioner should be able to regulate.                  
                                                                               
  Number 404                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES stated that he would not be opposed to                 
  an amendment which would allow the commissioner to regulate                  
  in those cases where there was an alternate route available,                 
  or where there is an unusual safety hazard.                                  
                                                                               
  Number 416                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON moved that the committee adopt                         
  Representative Davies' proposed amendment.                                   
                                                                               
  Number 422                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR FOSTER asked if there were any objections by the                       
  committee.  There were none, and the amendment was declared                  
  adopted.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 427                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON motioned that the committee move HB
  437, as amended, with individual recommendations.                            
                                                                               
  Number 439                                                                   
                                                                               
  ROGER ALLINGTON identified himself as the Division Director                  
  for Statewide Planning for the DOT.  He stated that the DOT                  
  has some concerns about the mixture of slow-speed bicycles                   
  and high speed traffic, and proposed that the words "where                   
  feasible and appropriate" be added to the text of the bill                   
  rather than require bicycle accommodations in all                            
  situations.  This, he concluded, would also be consistent                    
  with ISTEA.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 480                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR FOSTER added that the motion made earlier also                         
  included the words "where appropriate and feasible" to be                    
  added, if there were no objections by the committee.  There                  
  were none.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 493                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR FOSTER declared HB 437 to be moved out of House                        
  Transportation, and thanked Representative Davies.                           

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