Let’s all oppose anti-cycling bill HF 499

Rep. Quam just introduced bill HF 499 at the state legislature to require anyone who wants to use a bike lane to first take a course, pass a test, and then pay a fee to register. It would also make it illegal for anyone under the age of 15 to use a bike lane. This is the same representative who wants to legalize LGBTQ discrimination in Minnesota. He’s clearly a stand-up guy.

This is a garbage bill clearly aimed to appease angry Star Tribune commenters who shout about cyclists needing to be licensed. Sure, it doesn’t sound like a terrible idea for people to have more engagement and education, but it is a bad idea to force people to complete unnecessary and time consuming tasks before they’re allowed to legally ride a bike. Why don’t we use the money that would be spent on enforcing this to increase Safe Routes to School funding in our schools, or incorporate bicycle training into drivers’ ed courses?

The next step for this bill is to go to the Transportation and Regional Governance Policy. Please write to the members of this committee and ask them to oppose the bill. You can find their contact information here. If one of them represents you, make sure to note that in your email.

Here’s what I wrote in my emails. Feel free to modify and use it yourself:

Dear Representative X,

I’m writing to strongly oppose bill HF 499. Making people complete a course, test, and pay a registration fee to use urban bicycle lanes would serve little purpose except to discourage people from riding bikes. As a public health professional, I know the benefits that come from bicycling, whether that is biking commuting or casually biking around the lakes as recreation.

One of the best things about riding a bike is that it’s equally accessible for all people. Young and old, fit and not-so-fit, enthusiastic rider and casual pedaler. Making people jump through hoops to ride bikes will mean that less people do it. As we’ve seen through numerous studies, the more people out on the street riding bikes, the safer it is. Restrictive cycling laws only serve to discourage people from biking which makes biking less safe due to fewer cyclists on the roads.

Biking is good for individuals and good for our communities. Getting around by bike reduces air pollution while improving individual health and helping folks save on transportation costs.

I implore you not to support bill HF 499 since it will create unnecessary barriers to riding a bike, something that should be accessible for all. Will you plan to oppose this bill?