Bill Would Legalize Hitchhiking in State   Leave a comment

logonew

By Trevor Brown
Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE [19 December 2012] — Tim Shey has hitchhiked across Wyoming dozens of times.

The former Jackson resident says it’s a useful way to meet new people, share his Christian faith with fellow travelers and easily find employment.

“If you’re single and unemployed, all you have to do is throw on a backpack, hit the road, and you are bound to find work eventually,” he said. “And it’s a great way to see the country.”

But by doing so, Shey and many travelers like himself have broken the law, since hitchhiking is illegal in Wyoming.

A state lawmaker is now trying to change that by introducing legislation to legalize hitchhiking in the state.

Sen. Leland Christensen, R-Alta, is sponsoring Senate File 29, which will be considered during the upcoming legislative session that begins Jan. 8.

Christensen, who spent 20 years as a deputy with the Teton County Sheriff’s Office, said the current law is doing little good.

“In our community, here in the western part of the state, and really around the entire state, people hitchhike because they need to do it, because it’s a convenience or for economic means,” he said. “It seems like one of those laws that had some good intentions, but all it does is single out some folks n usually those new to the community n who some might not like the look of or feel of.”

He said many people are surprised to find out that Wyoming prohibits hitchhiking.

Christensen added that during his experience as a deputy, the law was rarely enforced. If it was enforced, he said it was not enforced consistently.

Sgt. Stephen Townsend, a spokesman for the Wyoming Highway Patrol, said the state has issued 21 citations for hitchhiking so far this year.

He added the Wyoming Highway Patrol has no comment, as of now, on the proposed law change.

Shey, who hitchhiked from Jackson to California a couple months ago, has written two self-published books about his hitchhiking travels.

He said Wyoming is one of only a handful of states that ban the practice.

In the more than 30 years he has been hitchhiking, he said he has only been cited once. And that one time was in Wyoming.

“I think making hitchhiking illegal in a place like Santa Monica (Calif.) makes sense because of all the traffic,” Shey said. “But Wyoming is such a sparsely populated state that there isn’t that problem.”

He added that hitchhiking is much safer than most people realize.

Christensen agreed that many people have misconceptions about hitchhiking from horror movies or urban legends.

He said hitchhiking is relatively safe for the driver and the hitchhiker.

“There seems to be a lot of people across the country who have faith in it,” he said. “Anytime you are mixing pedestrians with traffic, there will be some risk, but that goes the same today for riding a bicycle or walking.

“So there is an element of caution for both the person doing the soliciting and the person picking them up, and that’s where common sense plays into it.”

Christensen added that the state law would still prohibit people from panhandling or soliciting employment or business from vehicles on a highway.

Shey said repealing the hitchhiking ban could make the state more appealing to travelers.

He said the state is already attractive to hitchhikers who want to visit Teton Pass, Yellowstone or are just passing through on journeys east or west.

“I wouldn’t think of them as tramps,” he said. “These are tourists who will want to spend money in the state.”

Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Hitchhiking’s Time Has Come Again
Why is Hitchhiking Illegal in Wyoming?
Hitchhiking bill passes
Tim Shey Hitchhiking in Western Wyoming
easthackney

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: