Anchorage Assembly to vote on new ‘equity’ laws for cyclists, pedestrians

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Because some members of the Anchorage Assembly believe traffic laws are disproportionately enforced against minorities, especially “Black and “Latine/x” and low income people, the Assembly is considering a new set of ordinances to allow for some types of jaywalking and new laws allowing bike riders, scooters, and others to ignore traffic signals, not wear helmets, or have lamp equipment when using roadways.

Assembly members Karen Bronga, Daniel Volland, and Anna Brawley introduced AO No. 2023-65(S) in May, and have had a public hearing and a separate work session on it, during which the Anchorage chief of police once again pointed out to the Assembly that they did not consult the police department on the ordinance prior to introducing it.

The Anchorage Assembly meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 8, at 5 pm in the meeting room at the Loussac Library ground floor. The entire agenda is at this link.

The ordinance says that between 2015 and 2019, the per capita fatality rate in the U.S. for Black pedestrians was more than double the rate for white pedestrians, and for Indigenous pedestrians was more than four times as high as for white pedestrians.

According to the group’s pamphlet, this is racist and “dangerous by design.”

The proposed law has something modeled after the “Idaho Stop,” which has been adopted in several states, a law that allows bicyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign, and a red light as a stop sign.

According to the new proposed rules of the road, the Assembly would create something called an “Anchorage Stop,” which allows more types of non-vehicles to roll through intersections if no oncoming traffic is coming. The roll-through law would extend to skaters, skateboarders, wheelchair users, skiers, and scooter riders.

During the May 23 the three Assembly members introduced the ordinance as a way to promote “safety, equity and access to infrastructure for bicyclists and vulnerable road users.”
 
“As proposed, the ordinance implements recommendations from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) to amend local laws that criminalize bicycle use. We aim to improve active transportation networks, so that all residents travelling without a car can arrive at their destination safely,” said Assemblyman Daniel Volland in a statement.
 
The ordinance proposes changes to Title 9 – Vehicles and Traffic in Anchorage Municipal Code (AMC) which impact the safety of vulnerable road users, including:

  • Establish new terminology: “Vulnerable Road User,” to include pedestrians, wheelchair users, bicyclists, scooters, etc.
  • Legalize behaviors to allow bicycle users to use roadways differently than cars and other vehicles.
  • Legalize the “Idaho Stop,” in which bicyclists are allowed to yield rather than stop at stop signs, and the “Dead-Red,” which allows bicycles to proceed through a red stop light if the light doesn’t change after two minutes.
  • Expand the restrictions on what modes of transportation are allowed in a bike lane so that any vulnerable road user other than people walking may use a bike lane, such as wheelchairs, e-scooters, skateboards.
  • Add definitions for “Protected Bicycle Lanes,” “Cycle Tracks,” and “Buffered Bicycle Lanes” so that future investments into safe active transportation infrastructure, increasingly common in other cities, have clear design parameters.
  • Add a design feature to new projects to include additional signage that reminds drivers of an existing rule for drivers to give vulnerable road users 3 feet of space.
  • Eliminate municipal fines for bike-related citations, including riding without a lamp, without a bell, without a helmet, and without a valid bicycle registration.​

​“Across the country, bike laws are disproportionately enforced against people of color and low-income people riding bikes, especially where bike-friendly infrastructure is lacking,” said Assemblywoman Brawley in a statement. “While protective equipment, like helmets and bells, can prevent serious injury, it is unnecessary and ineffective to maintain fines that financially penalize users.”

The ordinance may be read at this link.

60 COMMENTS

  1. IN their quest for equality, they are going to get more people killed or injured. I’d like to see how these stats were compiled, I think a lot is missing here. If we were to take out deaths that involved alcohol and controlled substances I’m sure we’d have a much different picture.

    • I suggest that the Assembly, in even considering such an ordinance, is displaying an extreme degree of racism in that they intend to kill a large number of minority users of alternative transportation. We need less people because of global climate whatever…?? Shades of Margaret Sanger’s eugenics…

  2. Just go ahead and outlaw laws, or pass an ordinance saying only straight white people with jobs must follow them.

    Is there anything these people don’t want to control?

    • Their own greed and sexual appetites?

      I kinda wonder if Berkowitz’s wife is behind the scenes on this one..

      Name some “infrastructure” that “vulnerable road users” don’t have access to, Assembly Persons. Please. Perhaps APD has some statistics they’d like to share with the public on this one?

    • Avenger; History shows that as the population increases the more laws are adopted in order to keep the same civilized and not living individual freedoms only.
      Individual rights have diminished steadily over time.
      The U.S. civil war proved law and order though not always popular, wins through in the end at least most of the time.
      Thats why U.S. has a two party system, one cannot live without the other.
      I tend conservative.

  3. It’s those racist roads Mayor Pete is always talking about!

    What is it about the liberal brain that immediately concludes that disparate outcomes along racial lines is explainable only by racism in society? Everyone knows why AI/ANs have the highest rates of pedestrian deaths. It’s not due to traffic laws. Changing that won’t change the high rates in that population.

    • Apparently the racism is because white people are obeying the current traffic laws and therefore aren’t getting hit by cars. Liberal logic and the Anchorage assembly has concluded that if you eliminate those laws, More white people will be hit by cars and die thus ensuring equity

  4. I’m all for new bikes blowing through stop signs and ignoring red lights.

    I draw the line at warning signs because they are a waste of money. Spend the money on hoses and spatulas to assist with clean up in intersections.

  5. I find it always smart (sarc) to pass things like bike laws in summer, when roads are clear of ice and visibility is great nearly 24/7. This ordinance will make no sense in November. It’s insane. People are going to get hurt. Why are Native pedestrians dying on the streets? That’s racist? They’re not dying because they are safely jaywalking, I’ll tell you that much. In my experience, it’s because they are impaired and wandering around on the road. Not racist, just an observation.

  6. Everyone of us needs to, at the very least, write to fight this. The assembly doesn’t seem to listen, but at least they can know that the vast majority of people are against this insane ordinance. More people will get killed….Not stopping at red lights and stop signs? SMH at this madness. We dont need more complicated road laws. Simple straightforward, and consistent is what helps people know what the law is and feel somewhat safe that most are following the laws.

  7. I ride a bike here in the city. I stop at all red lights but not at every stop sign on secondary roads. No amount of bike lane is going to make them any safer here in Anchorage-I choose not to use them because I value my life. But this is a definite run up to The 15 Minute City that progressives want to enact as a means to control all people not just those of color.

  8. This is not what Anchorage wants. The libs have a few contemporary “regulars” who come in and say what they want to have recorded. WE CAN’T ASK QUESTIONS, or contact them by phone. They have removed debate from our freedom of political speech during assemblies. You should see Klaus Schwab’s, their leeder’s, real estate. Built to last forever but the peons in Anchorage will have nothing and be happy. These guys want to get in good with the globalists. They have already abandoned the US Constitution.

  9. Agree! If a bicyclist can ride through a “Dead Red” light after waiting two minutes and no green light, cars and trucks should be able to do the same thing.

    On a related topic, why must a driver stop at traffic lights after driving from one to the next and moving at or below the posted speed limit? There should be better traffic light synchronization to save on vehicle maintenance costs and gasoline consumption. I asked Zaletel about this, she said she’d get back with me. But then her primary job and the unending needs of the homeless population turned out to be much more important.

    • All future residential programs for the homeless aka bums should be in Meg’s neighborhood. She can better advocate from her porch.

  10. I am almost afraid to drive inAnchorage now, I can hardly imagine the accidents that will happen when drivers are driving the speed limits, maintaining their lane and some bike just jumps out, the driver locks up their brakes and cars behind plow in to them. Causing a multi car accident while the bike rides off. These assembly members are completely nuts. What used to be a beautiful city is now a dumpster fire . Portland, Seattle move over here comes anchorage.

      • Yeah well we try not to hit other people or objects when we drive, so sometimes we need to apply brake forcefully. “Try not to slam on the brakes”…. Brilliance.

  11. This is an example of ignorant idiots issuing edicts as if by saying it should happen, it will. What will happen is people are going to be injured or killed if they decide to disregard the several thousand pound vehicles they share the road with by following this idiocy. The reality is that people make mistakes on the road, they don’t see the guy on the 30 mph electric bike on the bike trail in time, and people that are not in vehicles have an unrealistic idea that the vehicle can magically stop on a dime when the bike, skateboard, roller blade runner et al makes an unexpected move into traffic. And the constant hue and cry about everything is suddenly racist is absolute crap.

  12. Haven’t really given a damn about bicycle laws up to this point. Not gonna start now.

    Pretty basic rules I apply to myself.
    Look both ways before entering a roadway. Don’t get in front of moving automobiles. Be courteous around other folks on the pathways. Maintain situational awareness.
    Go fast and loose otherwise.
    Pretty simple.

  13. Cyclists have been blowing through stop signs and red lights for generations. If they were to hit while doing so, it would have been their fault and if they died, it would be their family’s problem.
    With this proposed law, the liability gets shifted to the motorist. When rolling through a stop sign is legal and a car hits them, there would then be a target to sue.

  14. What kind of mandatory insurance requirements will these privileged class designates be encumbered by in the name of equity?

  15. Finally, they’re doing something that must be at the very top of every list of “most important issues” affecting Anchorage. This assembly is stuck on stupid.

  16. OMG! This city is falling apart and this is what the Assembly thinks is important? What about insurance companies? They really don’t care what this ridiculous assembly says. Absolutely lost their minds.

    • I’d be interested to hear what the insurance companies have to say about this travesty, especially when the bike riders ignore the bike trails built for these “special people” on my tax dollars and use the road which is 10-20 feet away. If the dog turds on the trails are too much, they should get their butts off their preferred mode of transportation and clean them up, responsibly, of course.

      Enough is enough! Traffic signals for drivers and not for others who clutter the roads we responsible tax paying drivers pay for, including the bike trails? Sickening! – blah! Just have a collision with an arrogant, self-important, irresponsible biker and “he/she/it” owns your assets and everything you work for. Color me furious!

  17. Anchorage is looking more and more like Portland!!! Pedestrians and cyclists already pretty much own the damn road! They NEVER EVER follow traffic laws!!! They block and slow down main roads while using the entire lane and they also run school bus reds while students are try to cross the roads! This BS has gotten ridiculous!

  18. The only reason a bicyclist and pedestrian get hit is he wasn’t watching where he was going nor what was around them, while they were unlucky the driver wasn’t watching. If you are a motorist you should be alert all time behind the wheel and take the humble position slow down for that crazy cyclist or pedestrian thinking they have right-of-way, since the driver is more armored by being inside the vehicle and the crazy cyclist and pedestrian are not as protected. Just as the Fred Meyer Abbott scuffle these days lots of people demand to be served and be considered right. cyclists and pedestrians are no different. Sometimes the sweeter action taken is let a fool continue believing he’s right than to assert your right-of-way.

  19. Further I listened into the first hearing when members of public talked in favor of the roll through stop sign. I never abided by the crossing signals or stop sign if the street was empty as a pedestrian and cyclist. Because I am not going to look like someone lost standing around at the corner for the 1 -2 minute wait time so I can cross on a walk signal when there no cars turning or the road empty (not as busy). The testifiers at that last hearing were speaking on making common sense allowable. I guess there are community members who take the crossing signals literally, Don’t cross unless it says walk evenwhile there no or little traffic. Heheheheh

  20. I have no problem with most of what’s in this proposal, at least in principle. Jaywalking in particular is a victimless crime that shouldn’t be a crime at all, with the important caveat that anyone who jaywalks does so at his own peril. There is a difference between decriminalizing jaywalking and giving pedestrians the right-of-way to cross anywhere they want; vehicles must still have priority on roadways other than at intersections or marked crosswalks.

    • If the law was to prohibit lawsuits against the driver if you were jaywalking, riding through a stop sign, or otherwise ignoring common traffic laws, I am all for it.
      When someone walks out in front of my car without looking, I should not be held responsible for their injuries.

  21. As usual, in an attempt to solve a problem, the Anchorage Assembly will actually made the situation worse. I would suggest that if they really want to go through with this hair-brained idea, then in the name of equity I would propose that if the rule breaking is allowed, it should ONLY be allowed for Asians, Whites, and Hispanics. Not natives or blacks. Since the non-black and non-native rule breakers will be subjecting themselves to extremely hazardous situations, the numbers of Asians, Whites, and Hispanics injured, maimed and killed should rise precipitously and should hopefully come into balance with that of Blacks and Natives. Equity is important. Not safety.

  22. Because there are so many accidents involving bicycles and pedestrians, let’s fix the problem by telling bicyclists and pedestrians that it’s OK for them to ignore the traffic rules. Yeah, that’ll work…

  23. Wouldn’t it be more equitable to just ban automobiles from the roads in Anchorage? That would be the only safe solution since all they do is run down minority homeless people who need to suddenly cross a busy road without regard to traffic. And those electric motorcycles doing 40mph or better shouldn’t be burdened by traffic laws and be able to choose the fastest way, be it the road or sidewalks because they are not burning fossil fuels. Cars are definitely the real problem. And white people drive them. The new proposal will make it easier for people doing stupid things to collect insurance claims when they jump in front of a moving vehicle, or blast through a red light. They were not doing anything illegal so it becomes the motorist’s liability. Think your insurance is high now?

    • The Bay area Marxists on the assembly would love to ban private ownership of vehicles. They just know they can’t get away with it yet.

  24. I think it is safe to say at this point that this Assembly has no common sense and are totally lacking any critical thinking skills.

  25. The amount of mental gymnastics going on with the Los Anchorage assembly is Olympic level athleticism.

  26. Honestly, bike riders (including me) behave this way at intersections already. I switch between car and pedestrian mode based on what gets me through the quickest. My point is, no need to couch this in “equity” terms, just make the laws reflect reality.

    Also, bike lanes suck on A and C street, so the concept of ticketing me for riding on a sidewalk when my alternative is to be in an unbuffered multi lane roadway with 45mph traffic is laughable. Not gonna do it.

    Don’t get me started on the idiocy of bell and helmet laws. Lights at nighttime are a self-correcting problem that the laws of nature, not man, take care of.

    • Understand your point. But to make it legal puts the legal responsibility for accidents caused by your lack of following basic common sense infringes on the rest of us. Do what you think works best for you, but don’t burden me with your hospital bills when you don’t have a lucky day. Non of the laws are enforced anyway, so it is only a matter of liability. Nobody tries to run people over. At the scene of the accident, if there nothing to ticket, the liability is settled by the insurance company and the driver will have to pay increased premiums for many years.

      • Having unenforced laws on the books is wrong as a matter of first principles.

        Your liability argument is essentially backwards. If you hit a cyclist in the unbuffered bike lane on A street you’re as liable as you would be if you hit them on the sidewalk. You’re less likely to hit them on the sidewalk than in that bike lane though.

  27. Does any other than myself see the obviously racist diatribe within this proposal?

    These racist assembly members are fully asserting that those of black and native ancestry are not capable of avoiding vehicles within a public roadway as they do not know where to cross said road, based solely upon their pigment, or ancestry, or the basic ability to operate their bicycle next to traffic, within their own bike path, and not to tangle with vehicles two tons or more their size simply because of their pigment or ancestry.

    S’funny….Everyone I know, no matter what the pigment or ancestry, knows better than to cross the road against traffic as a pedestrian or bicyclist as they shall always lose, as the vehicle that kills them cares not about their pigment or ancestry.

  28. So municipalities (e.g. Anchorage), towns, boroughs can ignore or make their regulations less stringent than the State of Alaska? I don’t think that is how it works, especially for State Highways/roads/streets.

    13 AAC 02.385. Applicability of Regulations To Bicycles. a) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway has all the rights and is subpart to all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle as set out in this chapter, in addition to special regulations in secs. 385-420 of this chapter, except as to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature have no application.

    b) No person may violate the provisions of secs. 385-420 of this chapter. The parent or guardian of a child may not authorize or knowingly permit a child to violate a provision of this chapter.

    c) when signs are erected indicating that no right, left, or U-turn is permitted, no person operating a bicycle may disobey the direction of this sign unless first pulling to the extreme right or shoulder of the road, dismounting and making the turn as a pedestrian.
    SEE MORE AT ‘https://dot.alaska.gov/stwdplng/hwysafety/assets/BikeandSafetyManual/Alaska_Laws.pdf

    • Our Governor has already decided that the Anchorage Assembly is a banana republic because of the charter. Did you forget the Covid mandates already? Evidently, if you live in the confines of the Municipality, State and federal laws, including the US Constitution, do not apply. The assembly makes the rules and they cannot be challenged. Or won’t be. The same. Our mayor and governor fear these people, maybe we all should.

  29. Dodging jaywalkers weaving in and out of traffic on major arterials, including 5th and Ingra, is already stressful, especially in the dark winter. How is loosening safety standards going to smooth the pedestrian deaths per 100K by race and ethnicity variances? Likewise, how is loosening safety standards going to lessen the cyclist deaths? Anchorage needs segregated walking and biking paths, not loosened safety standards.

  30. Less minorities would get killed at intersections if they were not drunk or high and panhandling at intersections.

  31. I am all for this ruling as it is a way to clean up those that want to be involved in this behavior. Darwins theory at its finest. Remember the vehicle is not going to loose in a bicycle pedestrian accident. I taught my kids to respect the streets and vehicles because the kids will loose.

  32. Equity must mean the judicial system holds drivers who are driving safely and legally to be held accountable for the poor and self-destructive decisions made by everyone they share the road with. Couldn’t be a way to milk auto insurance companies could it? Another great reason to avoid Anchorage like the plague.

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