Montana Gives Motorists the Green Light to Buzz Cyclists

Awhile back I posted a link to an article on the Bike5 Facebook page about a new law in Iowa that requires motorists to completely relinquish the lane to cyclists.   I think it’s a good law, much better than the ubiquitous three foot law that no motorist anywhere seems to know about and no law enforcement officer seems willing to enforce.  That said, 3′ laws are better than nothing, especially if they bring awareness to motorists of our right to use the road, right up to and including the full lane.


Not much traffic…how hard is it to move over three feet?  Really… By Sebastian Bergmann  [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

So I was disappointed to read this morning that Montana is taking a different approach to cyclist safety.  They’re ignoring it. In fact, the president of the Montana Senate wants us to leave his state completely because there’s already too many of us and we’re “rude.”  Here’s the exact quote from Montana Public Radio:

“They’re some of the rudest people I’ve ever. I hate to say it, but I’m just going to be bold — they’re some of the most self-centered people navigating on highways, or on county roads I’ve ever seen. They won’t move over. You can honk at them; they think they own the highway.”

So Senator Sales actually talked into a microphone and said that he comes up on cyclists and honks in an effort to intimidate us. That’s different.   Most politicians have the good sense to play the old “it’s for our own good” card.  Rob Ford comes to mind. Never mind that we’ve heard it all before.

There are so many questions I’d like to ask Senator Sales.  How does he feel about Mack trucks?  What about farmers on tractors?   How about school buses?  What if there’s a bunch of rude kids on a school bus?   Does he advocate playing fast and loose with their safety, too, or is his contempt reserved only for cyclists?

Montana is one of the worst states in America when it comes to traffic mortality and highway safety.  Part of it is geography and part of it is climate, but more than a little of it is cultural.  One thing it isn’t is too many bicyclists.  They sure like to blame us, though.  A while back they advanced another bill that would have banned us from most of the two lane roads in the state.

If you’re wondering, my concern in this is that Senator Sales spoke in such a way that will encourage the lowest common denominator to play fast and loose with cyclist safety.  They’ll buzz us and they’ll probably end up killing some of us.  They know that their lawmakers are on their side.  That’s reckless and irresponsible and heaven forbid if it happens it’s on Scott Sales and his ignorant colleagues.

As for me, well,  Jan and I had already abandoned plans to visit Glacier Park this summer due to earlier shenanigans in the Montana statehouse.  This is just the icing on the cake. I don’t go where I’m not welcome.  Besides, there are plenty of places that genuinely care about our safety.  Those are the places I’m going to visit.

Speaking of which, I almost feel sorry for these pathetic little self-absorbed bullies.   The world they’re clinging to is fading away and I’m not sure they see it.  The reason there are so many of us is because bicycles are the future.  There’s going to be more of us tomorrow, too.   Lots of people have a problem with that but the future doesn’t much care.


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