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Advocates weigh in on bill banning bikers from from Montana 2-la - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Advocates weigh in on bill banning bikers from from Montana 2-lane roads

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(MTN News file photo) (MTN News file photo)
BOZEMAN -

"I ride my bike every day all year long and I do it because it makes me feel good," said Bike Walk Montana Board Member and Montana Cycling Advocate. Taylor Lonsdale. 

Traveling the state on two wheels could get a little more challenging, a new proposed bill would ban cyclists on two lane roads that do not have shoulders.

"Well it would affect cycling quite a bit because when people do go out for a ride, whether it's just a recreational ride, a training ride, or people that are touring across the country, it would inhibit their directions that they could go the shortest distance between two points," said Bangtail Bike and Ski owner, Chris Saboda. 

"It would really make travel across the state impossible if you look at a map it really becomes fairly impossible without doing that," said Saboda. 

The bill was commissioned by Montana Rep. Barry Usher (R-Billings) who serves an area including Roundup and parts of rural Billings.

"I think that Representative Usher's intent is wonderful, to improve the safety on the roads, and I think that we can work together to come up with things," said Lonsdale. 

The bill is popular among some residents but there is a common misconception that roads are mostly paid for by gas tax, nationally the fuel tax covers less than half of the costs depending on if the roads are state or federally funded.

"In most places in Montana, property taxes and fees are what pays for the construction and maintenance of the roadway, so anybody who's a property owner, regardless of if they own a motor vehicle or fill their tank with gas, they are helping to pay for the roads," said Saboda. 

Bike Walk Montana said cycling tourism brought millions of dollars to the state in 2014 and that all of the major cycling tours across the state include routes on two-lane roads, most of which do not have shoulders.

"I think it would be a great impact if roads were closed to cyclists, we all have the right to be on the road, the cyclists have the same laws to abide by as the car drivers do, and we all pay taxes and the roads belong to the people," said Lonsdale. 

While cycling advocates oppose the bill there are other things riders can do to decrease risk including not wearing headphones and using lights at night.

"Well, the best thing a cyclist can do is just really be aware of the surroundings and traffic coming in both directions. Riding single file is very important, in fact on a road that has no shoulder, single file is the law," said Lonsdale.

"If we wanted to be treated with respect by people driving automobiles then we need to respect the law and we need to respect those drivers," said Saboda.

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