Washington Bikes 2015 Olympia agenda: Fund safe streets, boost bike tourism industry

WSDOT Director Lynn Peterson speaks at the 2014 WA Bikes Gala and Auction

WSDOT Director Lynn Peterson speaks at the 2014 WA Bikes Gala and Auction

With a divided state legislature, passing a budget is not expected to be easy, and few bills are going to easily sail through into law. But Washington State has a lot of work to do and a lot of needs to meet.

And since more than 430 people are killed every year in traffic collisions in the state — and more than 2,000 people are seriously injured — there is a lot of work to do to make streets safer. This work cannot wait.

Governor Jay Inslee is set to release his transportation package December 16, which “will provide funding to complete important projects and places priorities on traffic relief, safety, jobs and clean air,” according to a Governor’s Office press release.

And Washington Bikes will be in Olympia to gather support for safe streets funding, including funding for Safe Routes to School and the state’s complete streets programs. This is according to the organization’s 2015 Legislative Agenda outlined in a recent blog post.

WA Bikes will also be seeking economic development efforts to boost bike tourism, which could help rural areas and struggling small towns across the state.

But aside from funding, there are some ways to improve road safety and improve bike access. WA Bikes also lists strengthening distracted driving laws as a priority. And they also hope to close a loophole in a recent traffic detection law change that allows motorcyclists — but for some reason not bicyclists — to proceed if they find themselves stopped at a traffic signal that cannot detect their motorcycles in order to trigger a green light.

This would not give permission to run red lights all over the place (it’s not the Idaho Stop law). But if you are stopped, wait a signal cycle and cannot trigger the light, the law should acknowledge that you really have no choice but to run the light when you get a safe chance to do so.

It is best for the responsible street agency to improve their signal detectors so that they do detect bikes. But in reality, there are always going to be some that do not work, and people need a way to proceed legally. In Seattle, you can report traffic signals that do not detect bikes by either calling 206-684-ROAD or using the city’s Find It Fix It app.

More details on the 2015 agenda from WA Bikes:

The 2015 Legislative Agenda

Washington Bikes Board of Directors and its Legislative & Statewide Issues Committee set a 2015 agenda to improve safety and health through smart investments and legislative improvements, highlight the benefits of efficient transportation investments, and grow the state’s economy via bicycle travel and tourism.

Investments that Get Washingtonians Where They Want to Go

Washington state continues to slip behind other states in making investments to grow biking and make safer streets. As the Governor and Legislature begin another round of discussions to pass a multi-year transportation-spending package, and as funding for school safety improvements are in doubt, it’s even more important that Washingtonians get the right investments for biking, walking, and making streets work for everyone.

In 2015 Washington Bikes will advocate to (1) Grow and stabilize state funding for the Safe Routes to School Grant Program; (2) ensure that biking, walking and complete streets projects are a component in any transportation revenue package; and (3) support the $97 million Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program Grant request.

Growing the Multimillion Dollar Bicycle Travel & Tourism Industry

Bicycle travel and tourism is big business. Annually Oregon receives $400 million in direct economic impact from bicycle travel and tourism. An improved understanding of bike travel and tourism in Washington state is needed to make smart choices for growth statewide, particularly in rural areas and in communities seeking to recover their economies after natural disasters, like SR 530.

Washington Bikes will be seeking state investments in a similar study to help quantify the industry and improve strategies to grow our state’s economy.

Updating State Law to Accommodate for Faulty Traffic Signal Detection

In 2014 state law was improved to allow for motorcycles to stop and proceed or make left-hand turns through traffic control signals that do not detect motorcycles or bicycles under certain very limited conditions with a specific protocol that is clear and understood by law enforcement.

Because this same issue affects bicycles and the 2014 law did not include bicycles, Washington Bikes will seek similar legislation would improve the 2014 law’s uniformity by including bicycles and providing a clear protocol for how to safely and legally make a left turn and a non-functioning signal.

Strengthen Washington State’s Distracted Driving Laws

Following Washington Bikes successful lobbying in 2010 to pass Washington’s distracted driving legislation, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission is expected to make agency request legislation improves upon the current law. Work is still being conducted to refine the legislative proposal to help address the crisis of one in every ten Washington state drivers driving distracted.

Washington Bikes will be supporting this agency request legislation to help protect bicycle riders on our streets and roads.

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14 Responses to Washington Bikes 2015 Olympia agenda: Fund safe streets, boost bike tourism industry

  1. Zach Shaner says:

    Good to hear that the stop light law might be updated. When I lived in the CD, most afternoons I would be stuck through 2 light cycles at 12th/Cherry. I eventually got so tired of waiting for a heavy car to come trip the light that I usually just pulled through the Shell station or did a 2-stage turn rather than running the light.

    • Josh says:

      Worth noting: if you ever aren’t detected at a signal, especially if that signal doesn’t have proper pavement markings for bicycle detection, report it to the appropriate city/county, and remind them of their obligations under RCW 47.36.025. While bicycles aren’t yet allowed to cross against a defective signal, there’s no question that the signal is defective if it doesn’t detect bicycles in the travel lane.

      (2) During routine maintenance or monitoring activities, but subject to the availability of funds:

      (a) All existing vehicle-activated traffic control signals that do not currently routinely and reliably detect motorcycles and bicycles must be adjusted to do so to the extent that the existing equipment is capable consistent with safe traffic control. Priority must be given to existing vehicle-activated traffic control signals for which complaints relating to motorcycle or bicycle detection have been received and existing vehicle-activated traffic control signals that are otherwise identified as a detection problem for motorcyclists or bicyclists, or both. Jurisdictions operating existing vehicle-activated traffic control signals shall establish and publicize a procedure for filing these complaints in writing or by e-mail, and maintain a record of these complaints and responses; and

      (b) Where motorcycle and bicycle detection is limited to certain areas other than immediately before the stop line or crosswalk in the center of a lane at an existing vehicle-activated traffic control signal, those detection areas must be clearly marked on the pavement at left turn lanes, through lanes, and limited right turn lanes. These detection areas must also be marked to allow a bicyclist to leave a bicycle lane to enter a detection area, if necessary, to cross an intersection. Pavement markings must be consistent with the standards described in the state of Washington’s “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways” obtainable from the department of transportation.

      (3)(a) If at least a substantial portion of detection equipment at an existing vehicle-activated traffic control signal on an arterial or bicycle route is scheduled to be replaced or upgraded, the replaced or upgraded detection equipment must routinely and reliably detect motorcycles and bicycles. For purposes of this subsection (3)(a), “substantial portion” means that the proposed replacement or upgrade will cost more than twenty percent of the cost of full replacement or upgraded detection equipment that would routinely and reliably detect motorcycles and bicycles.

      (b) If at least a substantial portion of detection equipment at an existing vehicle-activated traffic control signal on a public road or highway that is not an arterial or bicycle route is scheduled to be replaced or upgraded, the replaced or upgraded detection equipment must routinely and reliably detect motorcycles and bicycles. For purposes of this subsection (3)(b), “substantial portion” means that the proposed replacement or upgrade will cost more than fifty percent of the cost of full replacement or upgraded detection equipment that would routinely and reliably detect motorcycles and bicycles.

      (4) All vehicle-activated traffic control signals that are design complete and put in operation after July 26, 2009, must be designed and operated, when in use, to routinely and reliably detect motorcycles and bicycles, including the detection of bicycles in bicycle lanes that cross an intersection.

      • Blake Trask says:

        What I didn’t include in the Washington Bikes blog post is that RCW 47.36.025 on traffic signal detection for bicycles and motorcycles was changed in 2009, thanks to work by Washington Bikes in amending SB 5482. The bill amendment required jurisdictions to account for bicycles and motorcycles in traffic signal detection. Still, there are many cases where detection remains faulty. Washington Bikes’ proposed legislation will address this gap in the system and will give a clear protocol and uniformity for both bicycle users and those on motorcycles for how to proceed through faulty traffic signals.

  2. biliruben says:

    FYI –

    I was originally confused about this new symbol on the asphalt at intersections…

    <img src=http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/images/bs_loop.jpg

    …and in case there are people who are half as dense as me, I thought I'd let people know that this is the new loop detection spot.

    • R says:

      Older markings on detector loops are just a simple “T” marking about 3″ tall. I see lots of riders who don’t know how to identify and use either marking.

      At least Seattle promptly fixed the malfunctioning detectors on Interurban North that I reported in Oct. I wish I could say the same about the steel plate in the road at 90th and Fremont.

    • Josh says:

      Seattle has been agonizingly slow to adopt the standard loop detector marking since it was added to MUTCD more than a decade ago.

      They’re still using the obscure T marking in many, many places, and when the T gets worn down, they repaint another T instead of upgrading to the standard marking.

      FYI, there’s also an approved sign that goes with that standard pavement marking, look towards the bottom right of
      http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009/part9/fig9b_02_longdesc.htm

      I don’t believe I’ve seen a single “wait on [bike-on-a-line]” sign in Seattle, not sure how people are supposed to guess what the marking means. (Likewise, none of the standard “Bicycle May Use Full Lane” signs intended for use with shared lane markings, despite the many lane-miles of sharrows throughout the city.)

  3. biliruben says:

    <img src=http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/images/bs_loop.jpg

  4. Lars says:

    Do we want individuals without a drivers license to determine when it is safe to cross an intersection against a red light though? Maybe that’s the reason for omission.

    • jay says:

      LOL! (not really, but still, you tried), you were trying to be funny right? or is a Poe’s law situation?
      At this moment the latest post on SBB is: http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2014/12/10/puyallup-pastor-struck-by-dui-woman-while-biking-to-help-the-homeless-has-died/
      In the “related” section of that post is: http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2013/08/08/man-charged-with-hitting-jimmy-johns-delivery-person-and-fleeing-the-scene/
      And in that post it was written (emphasis added):
      “he admitted to the officer that he had hit the victim while turning and then fled the scene. He told the officer that he panicked after the collision because he did not have a driver’s license or insurance.”

      The language: “the operator of a street legal motorcycle” seems too specific for the omission of bicycles to just been an oversight. On the other hand, I wonder if that “street legal” excludes motorcycles that have had their mufflers removed?

      Previous question not withstanding, one thought I had was that maybe this law might have been in response to complaints from constituents about motorcyclists gunning their engines for interminable periods while stuck at red lights in the middle of the night. Since bicycles are quiet, there would be no reason to include them in that scenario.

    • William C says:

      I’m interested – how are you going to keep unlicensed people from walking across the road at an unmarked, unsignalized crosswalk?

      Once you’ve solved that problem, then maybe we can apply the same solution to bikes.

      • Lars says:

        Police officers I talked to felt it was not a good idea to go thru a red light if your bike cannot be detected electronically, especially if kids on bikes are allowed to do this. People who have had drivers ed, the motorcyclists, are usually better at judging the dangers in the intersection. Kids can take the sidewalk and push the walk button to activate the stop light instead of going thru the red light.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        If there even is a crosswalk.

      • Josh says:

        Not every street has a sidewalk, or even a paved shoulder, and not every signal has push buttons.

        And what do we do for a cyclist stopped in a left-turn-only lane, waiting endlessly for a signal? Tell them to walk across the through lanes to get to the button? Walking across traffic in cleats is safer than waiting for a clear spot and riding through the intersection?

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