This morning Substitute Senate Bill (SSB) 5438, aka the Dead Red Bill, was pulled in the House Rules Committee and by the afternoon the House of Representatives passed it on the floor by a bipartisan vote of 78-19. Next this legislation that provides bicycle riders a safe and reasonable procedure to proceed through broken traffic signals that fail to detect bicycles moves to the Governor’s desk.
Barely over a year ago at the signing ceremony for SB 5141 Governor Inslee wondered aloud as to why bicycle riders were not included in legislation allowing motorcycle riders to address traffic signals that are broken. Now SSB 5438, which now provides riders of bicycles and electric-assist bicycles the same provisions to address faulty traffic infrastructure, will head to his desk to be signed into law.
SSB 5438 builds on legislation passed in 2014 allowing for motorcycles to stop and proceed or make left-hand turns through traffic control signals that do not detect motorcycles under certain very limited conditions with a specific protocol that is clear and understood by law enforcement.
In the Senate Transportation Committee, the bill was amended to make some improvements, including accounting for carbon fiber bikes that are even more challenging for many traffic signals to detect than standard metal frames. It also provides the same provision for moped users to address broken red lights.
Washington Bikes thanks Senator Curtis King (R-Yakima) for his sponsorship of SSB 5438 and continuing support of legislation that improves predictability and gives bicycle riders a clear protocol for dealing with faulty transportation infrastructure that doesn’t detect their bikes.
SB 5438 builds upon legislation passed in 2009 and led by Washington Bikes, with the help of the Washington Road Riders, that requires all jurisdictions to make traffic signals detect bicycles and motorcycles (subject to the availability of funds), if they are undergoing maintenance (also, with priority to complaints made), and if they are installed after July 26, 2009.
“Ultimately,” says Washington Bikes Executive Director, Barb Chamberlain, “we at Washington Bikes hope there comes a time when all traffic signals detect bicycles and motorcycles and this new law becomes moot. Until then, bicycle riders and motorcyclists should have a safe and clear protocol for how to address broken red lights.”
And always, if you get stuck at a red light, call, email, or Tweet it in to the city, county, or state transportation department in charge so they can fix it according to state law.
Take Action Today for Greater Investments in Biking
With only weeks remaining in the 2015 legislative session, Washington Bikes and its supporters are turning their attention to the transportation revenue package.
Right now in the House of Representatives budget negotiations are in full swing to spend billions of additional dollars on transportation.
Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that little to no new money will go to walking and biking connections and programs to help children walk and bike to school with the safety they deserve.
It doesn’t have to be this way.