18 Mar PUBLIC OPPOSITION TO SB 183 VOICED DURING SENATE COMMITTEE HEARING INCLUDING CYCLING ADVOCACY GROUPS AND SURVIVORS OF THE DECEMBER 10 TRAGEDY
LAS VEGAS (March 18, 2021) –During the Senate Committee hearing on Wednesday, March 17, cycling advocacy organizations and Nevada residents came out in strong opposition to Senator Hardy’s SB 183. The bill proposal places restrictions on cyclists, including prohibiting persons from riding bicycles, electric bicycles, and electric scooters on a roadway where the speed limit is 65 miles per hour or more, except with a special permit. This means 4,400 miles of roadway in Nevada would be illegal for road cyclists.
Senator Hardy pointed to the December 10 tragedy that killed five Las Vegas cyclists as inspiration for the bill. Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones commented in opposition to the bill, pointing to how the bill is a solution that does not address the problem. Organizations like Southern Nevada Bicycle Coalition (SNVBC), Save Red Rock, Ghost Bikes Las Vegas, and Nevada Outdoor Business Coalition (NVOBC) join Commissioner Jones and other Nevada residents in opposition to SB 183.
“We appreciate Senator Hardy’s effort to protect cyclists in Nevada, especially after the December 10 tragedy,” said Rob Hutchinson, SNVBC president. “We believe in education over restrictions. SNVBC will work with the Senator and committee members to devise a plan to educate drivers on how to interact with cyclists on roadways and instituting better testing on the driver’s license exam and refresher courses.”
In the aftermath of the December 10 tragedy, SNVBC launched Change Lanes for Bikes! It’s the Law, an education campaign that’s been well received and championed by local companies and jurisdictions. Angela Ahmet, the wife of Aksoy Ahmet, one of the five cyclists killed in December, gave a heartfelt statement on how this bill punishes cyclists while not addressing the issue of impaired drivers.
“Rather than restricting cyclists, what Nevada needs to prevent another serious tragedy like the one on December 10 is increased enforcement of distracted and DUI motorists,” says Pat Treichel, founder of Ghost Bikes Las Vegas.
In 2020, the pandemic inspired a frenzy of bicycle purchases in Nevada and the United States. This increase in the cyclist population creates a massive opportunity for cycling tourism in Nevada.
“As we work to rebuild our state’s economy post-pandemic, Nevada’s outdoor recreation is more important than ever,” says Stephanie Forté, NVOBC president. “While the bill is wrapped with good intentions, SB 183 negatively impacts cycling tourism by making it illegal to ride designated bicycle touring routes like U.S. Route 50, a thoroughfare for cyclists. It also dramatically decreases cycling opportunities for Nevada residents, which impacts our quality of life.”
In Las Vegas, much is being done to add amenities to enhance the qualityof life and increase outdoor recreation tourism. Save Red Rock is working on the Red Rock Legacy Bike Trail to provide a safe,multi-use path away from traffic.
“Our cycling community is growing. In Red Rock, we are building additional cycling infrastructure like dedicated bike lanes and bicycle-specific trails that give recreational cyclists a safe and scenic route away from motor vehicle traffic,” says Heather Fisher, president of Save Red Rock. “Other alternatives include lowering speed limits that are determined to be too fast for drivers and cyclists.”
Fisher and Save Red Rock have successfully worked with lawmakers to lower the speed limit on SR 159 near Red Rock Canyon, which has helped create a safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians.
Nevada residents can visit www.snvbc.org to learn how to voice their opinion on SB 183 to lawmakers.