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Bicycling bill dodges concerns, advances to final reading
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Bicycling bill dodges concerns, advances to final reading

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Bicycling advocates were worried when a couple of amendments were put forth for a bill they believe will make Nebraska more bike friendly. 

One of the amendments, offered by Lincoln Sen. Colby Coash, to bring back the mandatory sidepath provision that the bill would eliminate, was eventually withdrawn. lt would have restored the requirement for a bicyclist to use a bike trail when available near the roadway. 

Coash said it was surprising to him that bike riders were required to use a trail if available, because he sees bicyclists violating the law all the time. Cyclists say trails often have safety issues. 

The answer isn't to repeal the requirement to use trails when adjacent to a road, Coash said. 

"I believe the answer is fix the trails. Make the trails right so that they are safe," he said. 

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The other amendment that concerned the bicyclists, introduced by Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins, would have required youth under 16 to dismount and walk their bikes when crossing a roadway. It was defeated on a 10-27 vote. 

Omaha Sen. Rick Kolowski, who sponsored the bill (LB716), said that amendment would have been unenforceable.

Nebraska Bicycling Alliance Executive Director Julie Harris said in a time when childhood obesity is skyrocketing, the last thing to do is make it harder for kids to bike to school or around their neighborhoods. 

Senators did agree to another of Bloomfield's amendments that clarified that a bicyclist riding on a sidewalk or across a roadway or a shoulder in a crosswalk shall have the same right of way as a pedestrian, but must yield the right of way to pedestrians. 

The bill advanced to final reading. 

Despite a motion filed by Speaker Galen Hadley to suspend rules and vote on final passage of the bill without further amendments, motions or debate when it comes up next week, Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion filed an amendment for final reading to strike a section of the bill. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSLegislature.

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