A Kentucky House Bill was submitted January 13 that could make it illegal to transport children on bike on Kentucky state maintained roads. Representative David Osborne, representing a small portion of Jefferson County and part of Oldham County filed the bill but when confronted says he plans not to pursue the proposal.
From HB 255:
AN ACT relating to bicycles.Create a new section of KRS Chapter 189 to prohibit the operation of a bicycle on a state-maintained highway while transporting a person under the age of 18 years in an attached trailer or other apparatus.
Louisville’s vigilant bicycle groups brought the bill to our attention and all wholeheartedly condemned the bill as misguided. Kirk Kandle at Pedalaround explains the point very well:
It shouldn’t be the business of lawmakers to further shield motorists from their responsibility in the use of their vehicles’ deadly, crushing force. Rather, it should be the lawmaker’s duty to protect the most vulnerable citizens from the danger imposed by motor vehicle operators. Otherwise, we live in a world that goes on the assumption that bicyclists and pedestrians shouldn’t have put themselves in harm’s way to begin with.
The sheer number of roads in the Louisville area this bill would prohibit from family biking is extensive. There are over 3,500 miles of state maintained roads in the Louisville District 5 area including most major roads you can think of. Main, Market, Baxter, Bardstown, Frankfort Avenue. 3rd, 22nd, Cherokee Parkway. Broadway, Lexington, Westport Road. Dixie Highway, Preston, Shelby, Covered Bridge Road. Enough to isolate some families on one single block even when amenities like parks are only a couple blocks away.
I wondered if Louisville might be somehow exempt from the proposed law since the city took over maintenance of state roads last year, but Chris Poynter with the Mayor Abramson’s office said the city only handles traffic lights and snow removal.
Poynter was also surprised by the bill and noted that “streets are for everyone… that’s why Louisville enacted its complete streets policy.” He says that just because many streets are mostly filled with motorists doesn’t mean streets are only for vehicles. Many bike routes in Louisville follow state-maintained roads.
It seems that Mr. Osborne had encountered a cyclist, who was making a u-turn on the back side of a blind curve, and barely had enough room to avoid a collision with the cyclist. There was a child in a trailer attached to the bike.
The two of them, Mr Osborne and our mystery cyclist, exchanged a few words at the scene. Apparently the cyclist expressed that it was legal for her to be on the state road (although the wisdom of making a u-turn that close to a blind curve is debatable).
Osborne agrees the bill is poorly written and has no plans to pursue it. I’ll post more information if it becomes available. If you would like to contact Rep. Osborne’s office to voice your opinion against such misguided bills banning cycling of any kind from roads, you can call 502.564.8100 ext. 679 or e.mail David.Osborne@lrc.ky.gov or get in touch with your own representative.