So there's that phrase, "It's like riding a bike."
You're familiar? The whole point of it is that sitting on a bicycle seat and pedaling around is a fairly simple activity, one most people pick up (and essentially master) as a child, and never really lose.
There's at least one man in Minnesota who thinks maybe a lot of us never really learned in the first place.
In fact, at the moment, there is precisely one: Rep. Duane Quam, R-Byron, introduced a bill in the Minnesota House on Thursday that has no co-authors, and no Senate companion bill. This means this is a proposal that Duane Quam supports and, so far, not one of the other 200 legislators thinks is a good idea.
Let's find out why.
Quam's bill calls for the creation of an "urban bicycle lane use permit," essentially creating an official, state-run system of certifying and regulating the use of a bicycle -- the skinny little thing Mark Twain pedaled around on a century ago -- like how we treat cars, the one- or more-ton complex machines that leave upward of 30,000 Americans dead per year.
The bill would force riders to complete a "bicycle safety education program" through the Department of Public Safety, pay a $5 fee, and register his or her bicycle with the state. For Quam, a guy who always favors small government and less interference, the idea of subjecting tens of thousands of people (and bikes!) to oversight sounds like an excellent way to create lots of paperwork, a few bureaucratic jobs, and interminable lines of sweaty people at DPS offices.
The proposal goes on to specify minimum requirements for said cycling safety course:
(1) the legal requirements governing operation of a bicycle, including traffic regulations under chapter 169 that apply to the operation of bicycles;
(2) best practices for the safe operation of a bicycle on public roadways;
(3) recommended and required bicycle safety equipment;
(4) riding skills and collision-avoidance techniques; and
(5) any other information the commissioner deems necessary to ensure the safe operation of bicycles.
"Any other information" like, perhaps, the warning that a certain outstate legislator will be driving in and around the city of St. Paul for several months each year, and riders would be well advised to steer the hell clear of his vehicle -- should they be lucky enough to see it coming in time.
As for penalties, "urban" riders who are caught using city lanes without a permit will be deported to Amsterdam, Stockholm, or Copenhagen. Just kidding. That provision will be added in a subsequent amendment.
To be fair to Quam, he has lots of ideas, and they can't all be good ones. At this early stage in the session, when most members of the House have introduced fewer than 10 bills, Quam is by far the most prolific, chief author of 31 proposals and counting.
Huh. Maybe there ought to be some sort of "education program" before you get to write a bill.
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