MTGOP Leader Scott Sales Wants to Ban Bicycling. Seriously.

Republican Legislator Plans to Introduce Extensive Anti-Cyclist Bill

Senate Leader Scott Sales has called cyclists “some of the rudest and most self-centered people he’s ever encountered”

Republican Senate President Scott Sales-Bozeman is gunning for cyclists’ rights on the roads. Earlier this week, Sales helped kill a bill mandating that vehicles going 35 miles per hour give cyclists three feet when passing, and five feet when going beyond that speed.
And he’s not stopping at stalling safety measures. Yesterday, Sales—who says cyclists are “some of the rudest and most self-centered people he’s ever encountered”— announced plans to introduce legislation next session that would remove riders’ rights to use many state roads and highways. During a Wednesday morning interview with Bicycling Magazine, Sales clarified his comments, saying that 15 to 20 percent of riders have “left a bad taste in my mouth,” but cyclists “shouldn’t be on the roads anyway.”

“If cyclists want safety, we’ll give them safety.” 

Sales’ potential bill would seek to ban riders from two-lane roads with less than a three-foot shoulder; require cyclists to use reflectors on both their bicycles and their bodies; and force them to pay a tax to use the road on a bicycle.

(For reference: Cyclists already not only pay road taxes, but pay as much as motor vehicle users. Learn about that false argument and more in this explainer debunking anti-cyclist claims.)

He also refuses to consider lowering the speed limit on certain dangerous roads, arguing that the Montana State Department of Transportation deemed those speeds safe for automobile traffic.

“If cyclists want safety, we’ll give them safety,” an audibly agitated Sales says. “Where I live, we have narrow county roads with hills and blind turns,” he says. “You’re driving at the posted speed limit of 45 or 55mph, come around a corner, and all of the sudden, there are bicyclists riding two or three abreast. … Both drivers and cyclists need to take responsibility for safety, but it’s more incumbent upon the cyclists because they have much more to lose.”

But this kind of language—which places safety responsibility on the most vulnerable road users, rather than those wielding two-ton vehicles—can be seen frequently in car-bike crash reports.

When asked if he was afraid that banning riders from many of the state’s roads would hurt the burgeoning bicycle tourism industry in the state, Sales said the impact of those tourists paled in comparison to mining and other resource-extraction industries in the state.

RELATED: The Bike Industry Joins the Battle Over Public Lands

“I’m not opposed to anyone making money,” Sales said. “I’m a free-market guy. But these are mostly part-time, summer jobs. The number of dollars coming in (from bike tourism) is miniscule.”

Yet the numbers argue otherwise. According to a 2014 University of Montana study, the average bike tourist spends around $75 a day and stays in the state eight days or more. Montana-based group Adventure Cycling argues that the sport has the potential to generate $377 million annually within the state, and more bike-friendly states like Washington see recreationalists spending $3.1 billion annually. (Resource extraction, in comparison, generates around $2.07 billion in revenue in the state of Montana, or about 4.7 percent of the state’s GDP, according to 2015 USEITI data.)

“Senator Sales needs to talk to the many business owners across the state, especially in rural areas, who rely on bike tourists to stay in business,” says Bike Walk Montana Chairwoman Saara Snow. “We hear from communities all the time who want more bike trails and improved roads, who want healthier lives for themselves and their families, who want to attract these tourists to their towns. But the words and actions we see up the political spectrum don’t reflect that.

“Mineral extraction is a boom-and-bust cycle,” she continued, “and bike tourism is not only sustainable, it’s also stable and benefits everyone in the state.”

Sales isn’t the first Montana representative to propose limiting regulations on cyclists this session: Rep. Barry Usher floated similar legislation recently that would have banned riders from any two-lane highway without a shoulder.

After significant backlash and communication from local cyclists and advocacy groups, that bill ultimately morphed into a proposal for the creation of a bicycle and pedestrian safety committee; unfortunately, it didn’t come up for a vote.

Feel like sending Scott Sales a note? Here’s his contact info


20 Comments on "MTGOP Leader Scott Sales Wants to Ban Bicycling. Seriously."

  1. Let me see now, are we to include all of the wildlife that surprise us going around blind curves or down hills? We going to include all the farmers on tractors moving from one field to the next field to farm? Who is next to ban you dumb ass? We ought to ban idiots like you from ever running for a public office.

  2. God i hate to agree with Scott Sales, but a large percentage of Bicyclists are rude and self centered. Some of the funniest Pearls Before Swine cartoons deal with this.

    • A large percentage of drivers are self-centered, rude, arrogant, love driving fast, hate driving slow, and would bump bicyclists into the ditch if they thought they could get away with it. Sales, et al, don’t want to share the road, and have the temerity to take umbrage at bicyclists who flip off road hogs who crowd and endanger bicyclists. Sales is exhibiting a Type A attitude, and “A” doesn’t stand for alpha or affable.

    • Could it just be that some PEOPLE are rude and self-centered? Drivers, walkers, bicyclers, humans of all shapes and stripes…most are good eggs but a few not so much. Shame to see any of us apply such blanket stereotypes to each other.

  3. As much as I disagree with Republicans, this is one I have to agree with. Bicyclists present not only a danger tl themselves, but to the motoring public as well. In general bicycles are for recreation, just as I am not allowed to play baseball on a major highway, bicyclists should be banned from major highways and arterial streets.

    • Bicycles are a practical form of transportation, not for recreation only. Take a look at the city of Copenhagen. Everyone bikes. And the roads are not congested with tons of metal moving people around.

  4. It might help if someone came up with a giant map of the many off-road bicycle trails and the two lane roads that connect them. The Continental Divide Ride to the Sky is a great example. You have to use third grade materials to reach the new GOP where ignorance is not only bliss, it’s required for promotion.

  5. Hi, it would probably be a good idea to take this legislator out for a bike ride sometime. It doesn’t sound to me like he’s ever been on a bike on the Montana roads. Once he gets out on a bike and gets to see how enjoyable it is, I am guessing he would probably change his mind. And there is plenty of room on the road to share for bikes and cars. It’s not an either-or situation. That’s my suggestion. Invite the man out for a ride. And then see what he thinks afterwards. Thanks.

  6. Dead Drift, Abraham:

    Time yourself next time you find yourself “stuck behind a group of cyclists.” It’ll be a few seconds. Then, time yourself the next time you’re stuck at a stoplight. The wait at the stoplight will be many times longer.

    Why does the sight of cyclists cause you and so many others to fly into a rage, whereas stoplights and even stop signs do not?

    If being forced to move your hands two inches to the left, then two inches to the right, in order to pass a cyclist or group of cyclists, is an unconscionable imposition on your life, you need to ask yourself some hard questions.

    • Last summer I followed a group of 12 to 14 bikers for 5 miles on a narrow road in the NW part of the state, the posted speed limit was between 45 and 55, they averaged 15. By the time they let the let us pass there were over 20 vehicles behind me and 10 in front. When we went by I gave them an entire lane and several still flipped me off. And just for the record, I cover between 300 and 500 miles a year on my mountain bike, on approved trails and closed roads.

      • Old Line Democrat | March 23, 2017 9:11 PM at 9:11 PM |

        A good comment with a good example of behavior the should be changed. Likewise with 10-12 motorcycles going 60 on a narrow two lane road with lots of traffic. Everyone needs to examine their behavior. That includes car and truck drivers who can do the most damage.

  7. I see public service messages on the benefit of exercise. How it reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, increases energy levels and is a must for weight loss. Therefore, factor in the savings the state realizes in medical costs.

    If you are driving 50+ on a narrow road with hills and blind curves, you might want to look at adjusting the speed limit. Insurance companies do you agree?

    To say that cyclists are some of the rudest and most self-centered people you have ever encountered is at least predidicial.That is exactly what we need in government, more prejudice. That comment alone shows me how narrow minded one can be. I’m a cyclist, I’m not rude.

    Instead, be positive, come up with a solution that benefits both sides. Clearly your issue is not safety, it’s more of a way to a self serving end to your frustration with slowing down for a cyclist. Have you ever been slowed down by a tractor or a large truck? Probably should include getting rid of them too. After all, they probably are the second rudest people right?

    Are you telling the good people of Texas that you are an impatient hot head? Hot headed decisions are usually not well thought out, don’t usually work, and are in the interest of only one side. Relax, take a deep breath and you will be fine…

    P. S. I am from Oklahoma City. My wife and I brought about $20k to the Dallas metro last year though bicycle purchases, race fees, hotels, food and gas. Your cycling routes and opportunities for cyclists and triathletes are the reason we will retire in Texas in two years. Let me know if I need to change our plans…

    Very respectfully,
    Mark McKenzie
    Choctaw, OK

  8. I’m a Conservative. I forswore the Republican Party (not their Platform or its declaration of Faith and Pro-Life values) because of moronic, glad-handing dopes like this buck-toothed dope.

  9. Well, I will put my two cents worth in. I have to agree with Dead Drift and Abraham, as I too disagree with the GOP on most things but not this one. I live in Missoula and have lost count of the incidences of a bike rider, sans helmet, flying through a stop sign from a side street onto a more heavily trafficked street right in front of me. If bike riders are so safety conscious, then they should know that a “two-ton vehicle” takes some time to stop even when traveling slightly under the posted speed limit and should not ignore stop signs. The other issue I have is that the local bike lanes are growing wider and traffic lanes narrower which can make navigating the streets even worse and less safe when faced with two to three cyclists riding abreast (I assume so they can chit chat)in the bike lane and a large delivery truck or double-wheeled pick-up coming from the opposite direction. Then there are the cyclists who just love to come up between the right side of your car and the curb. I always use my turn signals (admittedly some drivers do not)but these cyclists should not crowd up to the corner, especially since they can not know whether a driver is going to go straight or turn and they can not tell if they are in a drivers blind spot on the side of the car or not. And last but not least, I do support legislation to require cyclists to wear reflective gear and have adequate lighting/reflective gear on their bikes because it does not seem that cyclists themselves care about their own safety or lives. There are the rare exceptions, and I do mean rare, but the majority of cyclists riding at night here in town, are dressed in black or other dark clothing, with no lights or reflective devices on the bike or their person and no helmets. And if one is hit by a big, bad person “wielding a two-ton vehicle” because they could not be seen on a dark, shadowy, tree-lined street when they shoot out of a side-street disobeying traffic laws, then who do you think is going to get blamed? I think bikes are great, they are a great way to exercise, etc. But if a person wants to ride on the streets with motor vehicles, then they should be responsible for their own safety and if they won’t then perhaps it should be legislated.

  10. Funny how many people seem to forget that the first paved roads in this country were for bicycles… NOT cars! Such a sense of entitlement! While we’re making generalizations, I’ll just go ahead and assume all of you making those anti-bike comments are all white as wonder bread? Go figure!

  11. So this must have been the guy that tried to run me off the road last week.

  12. You can’t text somebody twice for the same thing. I already pay a tax for the road. You can’t text me again because I’m on a bicycle. It’s kind of like double jeopardy, you can’t be tried for the same thing twice.

  13. Sounds like this guy has a personal problem with cyclist. Someone needs to grab him by the collar and tell him to keep his personal problems to himself.

  14. If cyclist have no right to the road then I guess I’ll stop paying that portion of my taxes I know when the IRS questions it I’ll be sure to give them a good earful.

  15. Oh and to Abraham who posted on March 20th, liberalism is a mental disorder

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