Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/30/2004 01:45 PM House TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 327-ROLLERBLADES,ROLLER SKATES, ROLLER SKIS                                                                                
CHAIR HOLM announced that the only  order of business would be CS                                                               
FOR SENATE  BILL NO.  327(STA), "An  Act relating  to pedestrians                                                               
using rollerblades, roller skates, and rollerskis."                                                                             
Number 0071                                                                                                                     
SENATOR RALPH  SEEKINS, Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor  of SB
327,  paraphrased from  the following  written sponsor  statement                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     For  many  years  roller-skiers' legal  use  of  public                                                                    
     roadways was,  more or less,  taken for granted.   This                                                                    
     assumption   was   successfully   challenged   in   the                                                                    
     Fairbanks area  last fall.   Senate  Bill 327  seeks to                                                                    
     remedy this situation by  specifically allowing the use                                                                    
     of particular wheeled devices  on those public roadways                                                                    
     also  available to  bicyclists.   It also  recommends a                                                                    
     set of safety standards for the use of these devices.                                                                      
     Alaska  is  home to  some  of  the best  international,                                                                    
     national, collegiate,  and junior  cross-country skiers                                                                    
     on  the planet.   In  fact, seven  of the  ten Alaskans                                                                    
     competing  in the  2002 Winter  Olympics  in Salt  Lake                                                                    
     City were  cross-country skiers.  Imagine  that.  Seven                                                                    
     Olympic cross-country  skiers from  such a  small state                                                                    
     as  ours!   This  speaks  volumes  not only  about  our                                                                    
     skiers'   work   ethic    but   also   their   training                                                                    
     The  natural preference  of many  of these  world-class                                                                    
     athletes would,  no doubt, have Alaska  covered in snow                                                                    
     year-round.   Since this is not  a reasonable near-term                                                                    
     possibility, the  use of wheeled  skis to  imitate snow                                                                    
     skiing has  grown to become an  effective training tool                                                                    
     for use during non-winter  months.  What's more, Alaska                                                                    
     is becoming  well known nationally  and internationally                                                                    
     as a favored summer-time training site.                                                                                    
     For these  reasons, it  is the  intent of  the proposed                                                                    
     legislation to  accommodate this  seasonal use  of some                                                                    
     of our  roadways.   In fact,  other northern  locales -                                                                    
     such  as Norway,  Sweden and  Canada -  have, for  many                                                                    
     years,  supported the  efforts  of their  cross-country                                                                    
     athletes  with similar  provisions.   Furthermore,  the                                                                    
     proposed   legislation  borrows   heavily  from   Cross                                                                    
     Country Canada's  policy respecting the use  of roller-                                                                    
     skis on public roads.                                                                                                      
     Senate  Bill 327  seeks to  accommodate this  important                                                                    
     training  activity  by  utilizing safe  and  reasonable                                                                    
     methods  for sharing  roadway  surfaces with  motorized                                                                    
     vehicles.   It  has garnered  a groundswell  of support                                                                    
     throughout  the  cross-country community  ranging  from                                                                    
     Alaska's Interior  region to Southcentral to  the Kenai                                                                    
     The  2006  Winter Olympic  games  are  just around  the                                                                    
     corner.   Would  it be  too  much to  expect seven  (or                                                                    
     more) of our  cross-country skiers to make  the trip to                                                                    
     Torin,  Italy?   Of  course  not!   In  fact, a  little                                                                    
     courtesy  and  common  sense   combined  with  a  small                                                                    
     statutory revision can help make it happen.                                                                                
Number 0374                                                                                                                     
CHAIR HOLM asked  if the sponsor intended  for the roller[skiing]                                                               
to occur only in the summer.                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SEEKINS  replied  yes.    He pointed  out  that  SB  327                                                               
authorizes the  Department of Public  Safety (DPS)  to promulgate                                                               
regulations  to  help eliminate  conflicts  where  possible.   In                                                               
response to Representative Masek,  Senator Seekins explained that                                                               
rollerskis have  the same binding  as a cross-country ski  with a                                                               
wheel in the front  and the back [of the ski].   The same motions                                                               
can  be  used for  roller  skiing  as cross-country  skiing,  and                                                               
therefore  the same  muscles are  being trained  year round.   He                                                               
reviewed some  of the regulations  specified in SB 327,  which he                                                               
characterized as common sense.                                                                                                  
Number 0531                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER noted that  rollerskis would be allowed on                                                               
bike paths.   She  asked if  rollerskis would  be allowed  on the                                                               
side of the road.                                                                                                               
SENATOR  SEEKINS explained  that  rollerskis only  work on  hard-                                                               
packed surfaces.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER  informed the committee that  there aren't                                                               
any  bike  paths in  Bethel,  and  therefore  she was  trying  to                                                               
envision someone going down a very narrow, bumpy paved road.                                                                    
SENATOR SEEKINS  said that  he believes  the rollerskis  could be                                                               
used successfully on such a surface.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  KAPSNER opined  that it  seems like  a hazard  if                                                               
there aren't bike paths for roller skiers to use.                                                                               
SENATOR SEEKINS  acknowledged that bike paths  can eliminate some                                                               
of the  hazards, but  he said  that roller  skiers pose  the same                                                               
hazard as bicyclists.                                                                                                           
Number 0620                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE OGG turned to the  last clause of the legislation,                                                               
which read:   "stay to the far right and  restrict movements when                                                               
being  passed   by  a   motor  vehicle."     He   questioned  the                                                               
enforceability of  that, and questioned  whether it may be  a bit                                                               
SENATOR SEEKINS agreed  that it may be a bit  ambiguous, which is                                                               
why  he   is  thinking  of   including  language   regarding  the                                                               
department promulgating  regulations.   He reiterated  his desire                                                               
for folks to use common sense.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  STEPOVICH  noted  that the  language  in  driving                                                               
manuals is "show caution."                                                                                                      
Number 0753                                                                                                                     
ALLEN  STOREY, Lieutenant,  Central  Office,  Division of  Alaska                                                               
State Troopers, Department of Public  Safety (DPS), said that the                                                               
department  stands ready  to work  with the  sponsor should  this                                                               
legislation  become law.    He related  support  for the  state's                                                               
athletes.   Lieutenant  Storey expressed  concern with  regard to                                                               
the  age and  the experience  level  of some  of the  individuals                                                               
involved in these activities, and  the space necessary to perform                                                               
these activities.   He said he  wants to ensure that  the traffic                                                               
is  safe  and  that  drivers don't  overreact  when  encountering                                                               
pedestrians  using rollerblades,  roller skates,  and rollerskis.                                                               
If there is a group  interested in these activities, he expressed                                                               
interest  in  hearing from  them  regarding  how to  address  the                                                               
aforementioned issues.                                                                                                          
Number 0915                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK  moved  to  report  CSSB  327(STA)  out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal notes.  There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                     

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