The 2013 state legislative season is starting to pick up steam, with lawmakers figuring out their alliances and picking committee heads. Meanwhile, advocacy groups of all kinds are putting out their agendas and building support for bills they hope will somehow squeak through during the hectic legislative session.
The Bicycle Alliance of Washington is again pushing for the Safe Neighborhood Speeds bill (which, though it had broad bipartisan support, barely failed to pass due to a senate meltdown), as well as increased funding for Safe Routes to School.
They are also looking to pass some kind of safe passing legislation, which would set rules for how people in motor vehicles should pass someone on a bike. States across the country have passed similar laws (often requiring at least three feet). But other issues, like whether a passing car can cross the double yellow line to pass someone on a bike (which is common, but technically illegal) need to be addressed, as well.
And did you know “health” is not one of the state’s transportation priorities? I’m serious. Well, the Bicycle Alliance is joining a coalition of other groups in supporting a bill that would add it.
We will obviously follow developments closely. Below are more details from the Bicycle Alliance’s Blake Trask:
With the start of the 2013 legislative session beginning in January, the Bicycle Alliance of Washington is gearing up to represent you in Olympia. Just prior to the November 6 election – the Alliance’s Legislative and Statewide Issues Committee met to provide direction and recommend legislation to the Alliance’s Board of Directors.
The Committee’s recommendations reflect an understanding of the uncertainty and change that can occur after elections and in advance of the legislative session.
Leaving last year’s Senate Transportation Committee hearing on SHB 1217 with former WSDOT Secretary Doug MacDonald
The election didn’t disappoint with big changes to transportation leadership in the state House and Senate. Notably Senator Mary Margaret Haugen (Camano Island) lost her reelection bid.
As of this writing, the Republican caucus along with two Democrats have announced a “Majority Coalition” that would install Republican and Democrat co-chairs to lead the Senate Transportation Committee, but negotiations on sharing power are likely to continue up to the beginning of the 105-day legislative session on January 14, 2013.
The Bicycle Alliance of Washington’s legislative agenda takes a proactive approach to addressing health and safety, growing bicycling in our schools, supporting economic development, and providing more awareness for those bicycling on Washington’s roads. Policy priorities include:
Local Government Control and Safe Neighborhood Streets. The Bicycle Alliance again will lead the Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill to make safer streets and neighborhoods by allowing cities and towns the authority to set speed limits to 20 miles per hour on non-arterial streets.
Making Washington’s Kids Safer. We will explore policy to grow Safe Routes to School and policies that support it. Currently staff and our lobbyist are working with legislators about specific solutions to improve our school transportation investments while growing biking and walking to schools.
Adding Health as a State Transportation System Policy Goal. The Bicycle Alliance will again support legislation that adds human health to the policy goals of our state transportation system —alongside existing goals such as economic vitality, mobility, and the environment.
Potential safe passing legislation. Looking toward the future, the Bicycle Alliance will be exploring legislation for this session or next that supports safe motor vehicle passing of bicycles on Washington streets.
Through the transportation budget, as well as any local transportation options or new revenue legislation, the Bicycle Alliance will be working with the Transportation for Washington Campaign to expand funding to give Washingtonians the freedom to get around, safer streets for our children, and more complete streets for our towns and cities.
We cannot succeed without your help. As critical votes come up, Bicycle Alliance staff will be reaching out to membership via emails and social media to ask for you to contact your state elected officials. Thanks in advance for your support and advocacy in 2013!