WA Bikes outlines 2016 legislative agenda

wabikesnewlogo’twas the night before Christmas, and all through the web, every single creature was reading about Washington Bikes’ 2016 state legislative priorities.

Last year, transportation money was flying all around the state legislature. As usual, it ended with billions for new and wider highways (boo!). But it also included significant increases in Safe Routes to School funds and other trail and bike/walk access projects (not to mention the needed Sound Transit 3 authority, though heaven forbid the state actually fund regional transit).

Without a transportation package on the table this year, the WA Bikes strategy is a little different. Primarily, they are looking to protect funding already gained, protect trails (including the John Wayne Pioneer Trail), get the state to study the economics of bicycle tourism, and encourage stronger distracted driving laws (like, you know, making it illegal to look at Facebook while driving. That’s right, you can legally do that now because we live in a crazy world).

More details on the agenda from WA Bikes:

Investments that get Washingtonians where they want to go

Washington Bikes continues to support transportation investments that focus on smart investments in successful programs that provide safe and healthy routes to schools for our children, complete streets for Washington’s main streets and business districts, as well as investments in trails and bikeways that improve mobility and spur economic development in rural and urban areas alike.

  • Ask: (1) Retain historic funding levels made by 2015 Legislature for the Safe Routes to School Grant Program, Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Grant Program, Complete Streets Grant Program, as well as the bicycle and pedestrian project list.

Protecting Trails Statewide

Washington state has some of the longest and most iconic trails in the nation for biking, walking. Washington Bikes is committed to keeping trails open and accessible. Washington Bikes will monitor and explore the potential for additional investments that connect and improve trails for neighboring residents, visitors, and neighboring communities that benefit from the economic opportunities that trails bring via the $3.1 billion that bicycle riders spend in Washington state.

Growing the Multimillion Dollar Bicycle Travel & Tourism Industry

Bicycle travel and tourism is big business. According to a 2015 Economic Impact study from the Governor’s Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation, Washington state bicycle riders spend $3.1 billion annually. An improved understanding of bike travel and tourism in Washington state is needed to make smart choices for growth statewide, particularly in rural areas.

  • Ask: Funding for a study of the economic impact of bicycle travel and tourism by the Department of Commerce will help quantify the industry and improve strategies to grow our state’s economy.

Strengthen Washington State’s Distracted Driving Laws

Following Washington Bikes successful lobbying in 2010, this Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) agency request legislation improves upon the current law by broadening the definition so that any person (with much narrower exceptions) operating a motor vehicle while holding a personal wireless communications device is guilty of a traffic infraction. It closes loopholes such as being able to use one’s phone while stopped at an intersection or stoplight (currently legal), it also expands the definitions of handheld uses to ban texting and email use on smart phones. Additional violations receive twice the penalty, plus violations go on one’s driver record for insurance purposes. Finally, distracted driving would be included in Department of Licensing exams (currently they are not).

  • Ask: WTSC agency request legislation.
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5 Responses to WA Bikes outlines 2016 legislative agenda

  1. Gary says:

    Re: Bicycle Tourism

    For sure we should make Washington State easy to visit on your way from Alaska! to Mexico. Like the Pacific Crest Trail, there should be a Pacific Coast Bike Trail. A friend of mine rode from Seattle to San Fransisco, and I’ve met people in town coming from Vancouver BC on their way South, and most were hopelessly lost in the city, wanting to know how to get to Mt. Rainier Nat. park, out the coast, etc, etc. Should be easy, but it’s not.

  2. Josh says:

    Boring, wonky stuff, but I’d like to see …

    1. Cycletracks/Separated Bike Lanes should be legally recognized and defined. Are they preferential travel lanes, part of the roadway? Are they separate facilities? Are bicycles in a separated lane part of traffic in the roadway, or are they traffic on a separate, parallel facility?

    Right now, those questions don’t seem to have an answer, even though they have very serious implications for right-of-way at driveways and intersections, liability in crashes, what types of bicycles and other vehicles are allowed in them, and even which rules of the road apply.

    2. Bicycle traffic signals should be made legal in Washington, especially since Seattle is already using so many of them.

    The RCW defines traffic control signals by both color and shape. Red circles are defined. Red arrows are defined. Red Xes are defined. Red “hand” or “DON’T WALK” signals are defined.

    Red bicycles have no legal meaning. Yellow bicycles have no legal meaning. Green bicycles have no legal meaning. They’re simply not defined where the RCW or SMC define and authorize traffic control signals.

    RCW 46.61.055
    Traffic control signal legend.
    Whenever traffic is controlled by traffic control signals exhibiting different colored lights, or colored lighted arrows, successively one at a time or in combination, only the colors green, red and yellow shall be used, except for special pedestrian signals carrying a word or legend, and said lights shall indicate and apply to drivers of vehicles and pedestrians as follows:
    (1) Green indication
    (a) Vehicle operators facing a circular green signal may proceed straight through or turn right or left unless a sign at such place prohibits either such turn. Vehicle operators turning right or left shall stop to allow other vehicles lawfully within the intersection control area to complete their movements. Vehicle operators turning right or left shall also stop for pedestrians who are lawfully within the intersection control area as required by RCW 46.61.235(1).
    (b) Vehicle operators facing a green arrow signal, shown alone or in combination with another indication, may enter the intersection control area only to make the movement indicated by such arrow, or such other movement as is permitted by other indications shown at the same time. Vehicle operators shall stop to allow other vehicles lawfully within the intersection control area to complete their movements. Vehicle operators shall also stop for pedestrians who are lawfully within the intersection control area as required by RCW 46.61.235(1).
    (c) Unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian control signal, as provided in RCW 46.61.060 as now or hereafter amended, pedestrians facing any green signal, except when the sole green signal is a turn arrow, may proceed across the roadway within any marked or unmarked crosswalk.
    (2) Steady yellow indication
    (a) Vehicle operators facing a steady circular yellow or yellow arrow signal are thereby warned that the related green movement is being terminated or that a red indication will be exhibited immediately thereafter when vehicular traffic shall not enter the intersection. Vehicle operators shall stop for pedestrians who are lawfully within the intersection control area as required by RCW 46.61.235(1).
    (b) Pedestrians facing a steady circular yellow or yellow arrow signal, unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian control signal as provided in RCW 46.61.060 shall not enter the roadway.
    (3) Steady red indication
    (a) Vehicle operators facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection control area and shall remain standing until an indication to proceed is shown. However, the vehicle operators facing a steady circular red signal may, after stopping proceed to make a right turn from a one-way or two-way street into a two-way street or into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the right turn; or a left turn from a one-way or two-way street into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the left turn; unless a sign posted by competent authority prohibits such movement. Vehicle operators planning to make such turns shall remain stopped to allow other vehicles lawfully within or approaching the intersection control area to complete their movements. Vehicle operators planning to make such turns shall also remain stopped for pedestrians who are lawfully within the intersection control area as required by RCW 46.61.235(1).
    (b) Unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian control signal as provided in RCW 46.61.060 as now or hereafter amended, pedestrians facing a steady circular red signal alone shall not enter the roadway.
    (c) Vehicle operators facing a steady red arrow indication may not enter the intersection control area to make the movement indicated by such arrow, and unless entering the intersection control area to make such other movement as is permitted by other indications shown at the same time, shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering a crosswalk on the near side of the intersection control area, or if none, then before entering the intersection control area and shall remain standing until an indication to make the movement indicated by such arrow is shown. However, the vehicle operators facing a steady red arrow indication may, after stopping proceed to make a right turn from a one-way or two-way street into a two-way street or into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the right turn; or a left turn from a one-way street or two-way street into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the left turn; unless a sign posted by competent authority prohibits such movement. Vehicle operators planning to make such turns shall remain stopped to allow other vehicles lawfully within or approaching the intersection control area to complete their movements. Vehicle operators planning to make such turns shall also remain stopped for pedestrians who are lawfully within the intersection control area as required by RCW 46.61.235(1).
    (d) Unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian signal, pedestrians facing a steady red arrow signal indication shall not enter the roadway.
    (4) If an official traffic control signal is erected and maintained at a place other than an intersection, the provisions of this section shall be applicable except as to those provisions which by their nature can have no application. Any stop required shall be made at a sign or marking on the pavement indicating where the stop shall be made, but in the absence of any such sign or marking the stop shall be made at the signal.

    • Josh says:

      Oh, and…

      3. Shared lane markings should be legally defined to waive the far-to-the-right requirements of RCW 46.61.770.

      Cyclists always have the right to control a lane that’s too narrow for safe passing within the lane, but there’s sometimes room for disagreement about that lane width. But when a city has placed sharrows on a street, the police should never feel free to order cyclists to ride further to the right than indicated by the sharrows.

      I’ve had that happen with SPD, and I know other riders have, too — an officer driving along in a car somehow feels the authority to override SDOT’s engineering judgement about where bicycles are safe on a particular street. (Bad enough with a properly-centered sharrow, let alone SDOT’s legacy door-zone sharrows…)

      Finally,

      4. The Legislature should pre-empt the field of bicycle equipment regulations, so that they are uniform state-wide, and no local jurisdiction may impose equipment requirements in addition to or in conflict with the RCW.

      • Gary says:

        #4 is a hot potato, due to the local rules about helmets. Although in theory I agree with you that it’s easier to keep the state rules sane than watch for some small town to impose some crazy rule that is different than the rest of the state.

        issues would be: Lights, #, intensity, flashing front lights, sidewalk riding, crosswalk riding, being able to ride on the road at all, etc etc.

        If we could get sane rules for all of it, I’d be in favor of #4, but in general the laws of a local jurisdiction can vary from state and federal as long as they don’t “conflict” in some legal way. I’m not a lawyer or I’d give you a clear definition, but in general it’s allowed.

      • Josh says:

        I’ll take state-wide uniformity in small bites if that’s how it has to be. Many cities have slightly different rules of the road, and it’s possible to change your riding behavior from one city to the next as necessary.

        That’s why I suggest starting with just bicycle equipment regulations. The same equipment should be legal across the state.

        Imagine Seattle requiring drivers to stop, get out, and adjust their headlights or change their tires before crossing the city line.

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