2016 Utah Legislative Wrap Up – Several Bike Wins and A Few Losses

Utah Legislature Passes Bike Bills and Funds Trails

EBikes to be Allowed on Trails; Protections in Place for Victims of Bike Theft; Trail Funding Increases

The 2016 Utah Legislative Session had wins and losses for bikes. Photo by Dave Iltis
The 2016 Utah Legislative Session had wins and losses for bikes. Photo by Dave Iltis

March 10, 2016 – The Utah Legislature passed a few bills and made a few appropriations that will help cycling in Utah. They also missed passing a few key bills and appropriations. Wins for bikes include ebike riders, victims of bike theft, trails, and in particular the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and the Jordan River Parkway Trail. Defeats include bike education for kids and trails,

Pawnshop Amendments

A key bill that passed today was the ‘Pawnshop Amendments' bill (Senate Bill 157 – sponsored by Sen. Thatcher and Rep. Snow). The bill makes it easier for victims of bicycle (and other types) theft to recover their bikes from pawn shops. A key provision of the bill is that if the cyclist can prove the bike is their's (and has filed a police report), they will no longer need to pay the pawn shop to get their bike back.

If a theft victim reports the bike as stolen, and it is discovered in a pawnshop, the ‘original victim’ would get their bike back at no cost to them, “The notice shall identify the original victim, advise the pawn or secondhand
219     business that the original victim has identified the article, and direct the pawn or secondhand
220     business to release the article to the original victim at no cost to the original victim, or if the
221     article was seized, the notice shall advise that the article will be returned to the original victim
222     within 15 days, except as provided under Subsection (8)(d).

 

See the complete analysis of the bill here: http://www.cyclingutah.com/advocacy/utah-bike-theft-victims-may-get-some-relief-with-senate-bill-157/

House Bill 52 – Office of Outdoor Recreation Amendments (Grant Program)

House Bill 52, Office of Outdoor Recreation Amendments, will provide $1 million in one time funding for outdoor recreation infrastructure projects. These projects can include trails and trail amenities. Rep. Patrice Arent and Sen. Ralph Okerlund sponsored the bill, which passed overwhelmingly and is on its way to Governor Herbert for his signature. The bill will create a grant program based on a pilot project that started in 2015. Municipalities and non-profits can apply for funds. Sadly, the original bill would have provided $5 million in funding, but this was cut to $1 million in a substitute bill by Sen. Okerlund. Of this, $300,000 is allocated by this statute to the “Kanab Trail at the Jackson Flat Reservoir”. Powerful Sen. Mike Noel is also the Executive Director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District which oversees the Jackson Flat Reservoir where the trail will be located. At press time, we were unable to find any more information on the trail, although we are aware that Kane County is working on a new trails system.

See the complete analysis here: http://www.cyclingutah.com/advocacy/mountain-advocacy/utah-legislature-considers-house-bill-52-will-include-funding-for-trails/

Electric Assisted Bicycle Amendments

Senate Bill 121 governs electric assisted bicycles. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler and Rep. Johnny Anderson. Considerable dialogue with the ebike industry and bike advocates took place and led to several substitute bills. The bill finally passed the senate and house (74-1) and is on its way to the governor for his signature. The key provision of the bill is that a driver's license is no longer required to operate an electric bike. This will allow those who either never received a license, or who have lost their license to ride an ebike on the streets. Secondly, the bill explicitly allows ebikes on trails in Utah. How will this affect riding? This is an issue that has not been studied well, so time will tell. It does allow for a local municipality to regulate their use. This will allow Park City, which has a trial program in place, to regulate where ebikes can be ridden.

(2) An individual may operate an electric assisted bicycle on a path or trail designated
390     for the use of a bicycle.
391          (3) A local authority or state agency may adopt an ordinance or rule to regulate or
392     restrict the use of an electric assisted bicycle, or a specific classification of an electric assisted
393     bicycle, on a sidewalk, path, or trail within the jurisdiction of the local authority or state
394     agency.

School Building Coordination

Senate Bill 86 requires that new school land purchases consider transportation issues. While bicycling is not mentioned, this is an opportunity for bike advocates to encourage cycling to school before schools are constructed.

Appropriations

Jordan River Parkway

The Jordan River Parkway took a huge step towards completion in the 2016 session. The Legislature appropriated $1,230,000 to build the last bridge in Salt Lake City between North Temple and 200 South. The total cost of this section of the Jordan River Parkway will be $6.64 million. With the funding from the legislature, it appears as though only $50,000 is left to raise. There are three gaps left in the trail: 200 S to North Temple, 14400 South to 15000 South, and 15900 South to 16500 South. The latter two are funded already with the 14400 gap due to be completed in 2017 and the 15900 gap to be completed this spring. The 200 South ‘Jordan River Last Bridge' project is slated for completion in late 2017.

A summary of the appropriation is below:

Jordan River Last Bridge Project
One Time Funding Ongoing
$1,230,000               $0
Request for Appropriation – Submitted by Rep. Rich Cunningham
“The project cost is $6.664 million and we have all of it funded except $1.28 million which we asking the state to fund this year. ” (Rep. Cunningham, R.)The IGG Appropriations Subcommittee heard this RFA during the 2016 General Session and voted to fund $23,000 internally and to prioritize $1,257,000 one-time on its General Fund list.Approved funding is as follows:$4,500,000, Salt Lake County Bond
$154,000, Jordan River Commission Jordan River Assistnace Fund
$50,000 Jordan River Commission & Salt Lake County Community Connections Grant
$660,000 Salt Lake City Capital Improvement Program Funding
PROJECT TOTAL: $6,644,000
APPROVED FUNDING TOTAL: $5,364,000
FUNDING SHORTFALL: $1,280,000
Bonneville Shoreline Trail
The Bonneville Shoreline Trail in Davis County will receive $150,000 to complete the NEPA process (National Environmental Policy Act assessment) and for construction and matching grants. The trail will be 310 miles in length when complete and stretch from Santaquin, Utah to Idaho. The appropriation is below:

Bonneville Shoreline Trail
One time Funding  Ongoing
$150,000                  $0
Request for Appropriation – Submitted by Rep. Rebecca P. Edwards
“Planning and construction of 55 miles of Bonneville Shoreline Trail in Davis County. The BST in Davis County is a vitally important part of a regional trail system.The $200K will first be used for finalizing NEPA and/or environmental planning, as required by the Forest Service. This is estimated to range from $50,000-$150,000. The remaining funds will be used by the County for construction and may be offered to local entities as matching assistance funding. ” (Rep. Edwards, R.)

Cycling Utah's action alert is here.

Bike Utah Clean Air For Kids
Sadly, this funding request did not make the cut.  It appeared as though the funding didn't get properly scheduled for hearing in the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommitte as the presentation by Sen. Weiler and Phil Sarnoff, Executive Director of Bike Utah, didn't happen until after the list of appropriations to be considered was finalized – hence there was no chance for the committee to hear the reasons for the program. Bike Utah had secured $175,000 in funding for the program from various private entities. At time of publishing, we do not know Bike Utah's plans for this program in 2016.
Cycling Utah's action alert is here.
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