The 2014 session was most notable for what was absent – a multibillion-dollar transportation revenue package. Despite the package’s absence, its presence was felt almost everywhere via the lack of major policy initiatives affecting transportation.
The supplemental transportation budget represented a bare-bones budget with relatively minor adjustments. It passed the House and Senate and retained approximately $30.45 million for the state’s Safe Routes to School and Bicycle and Pedestrian state grant programs. Unfortunately, due to ongoing federal funding uncertainty (2014 represents the end of the federal transportation reauthorization, MAP-21) and state losses, only $8 million is programmed for the 2015-17 biennium for both grant programs. We will need to fix this in the 2015 legislative session.
One successful bill – related to our 2009 success around signal detection – gave motorcycles the option to take a left-hand turn at a signalized intersection after confirming that the signal detector failed to detect the motorcycle. Because of some technical issues, amending the bill to include bicyclists was not possible. Washington Bikes’ legislative and statewide issues committee will examine this issue during the interim.
Legislation to strengthen penalties and close loopholes for distracted driving (Washington Bikes championed the 2010 Text.Talk.Ticket law that now needs additional updating) failed in 2014. Again, Washington Bikes will look at how to address this growing safety concern next year.
Looking ahead to the 2015 legislative session, Washington Bikes will seek to address the looming transportation shortfalls in the transportation budget, continuing roadway safety concerns, and growing Safe Routes to Schools momentum to increase safety and save schools money statewide.