Feb 14, 2023 - News

BikeTexas eyes "Idaho stop," e-bikes in state parks

Illustration of a pattern of bicycles.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

BikeTexas, the statewide lobby for cyclists, has a few priorities to improve safety and further legitimize e-bikes as legislators meet in Austin this year.

Why it matters: In 2022, Texas drivers killed 92 cyclists — one every four days.

Pedaling the news: Atop the list is passing the so-called Idaho stop (or Delaware yield), which would allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs.

  • It's the law in several red states, including Idaho, Oklahoma and Arkansas, giving cyclists more flexibility when navigating intersections.

What they're saying: "Momentum is so important on bicycles," said Robin Stallings, executive director of BikeTexas. "Starting and stopping is really a lot harder, especially going up hills."

State of play: Stallings is hoping to find a group of bipartisan legislators to champion the legislation, but no bill has been filed yet.

Yes, but: A bill allowing e-bikes in state parks has been filed.

  • It's a small but final battleground for BikeTexas to legitimize e-bikes, following the passage of legislation to allow e-bikes anywhere bicycles are allowed, like sidewalks, off-street paths and streets.

The intrigue: BikeTexas did not include safe passing legislation on its agenda this year after years of dead ends.

  • Rep. Ray Lopez, a Democrat from San Antonio, filed legislation that would require drivers to give cyclists and pedestrians 3 feet of space when passing — increasing to 6 feet for drivers of commercial vehicles.
  • "There's no telling in a number of years the number of lives that will be saved," Lopez told Axios. "The numbers are there. Clearly, we have a high fatality rate in this environment. That impact is directly measured by lives being saved."

Flashback: In 2009, a similar bill passed the Republican-controlled House and Senate but was vetoed by then-Gov. Rick Perry.

  • Every session since, legislators have filed iterations of the bill that have failed to make their way to the governor's desk.

The bottom line: "​​I don't see it passing," Stallings said of Lopez' bill. "It might get out of committee. We haven't had the governor's support for that, ever."

  • The governor's office did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

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