SB 5402 and HB 1795 introduced in both the House and Senate target reversing the trend in fatalities and serious injuries of people on bikes throughout Washington’s transportation system.
Fatalities and serious injuries for people who bike make up 7.2% of all traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Washington state, yet only 0.9% of commute trips are made by those biking. In short, it’s riskier to bicycle than to drive a car, but why?
To answer this question, Washington Bikes has partnered with Sen. Liias and Rep. Kloba in efforts to better understand the causes of serious injuries and deaths in Washington state and find strategies improve safety for those biking on Washington’s streets and roads.
At its heart, SB 5402/HB 1795: establishes the Cooper Jones Bicyclist Safety Advisory Council to convene a panel of interdisciplinary professionals from law enforcement, multimodal transportation planners, public health representatives, municipalities, victim’s families, bicycle advocates and transportation researchers. The panel will meet quarterly to analyze bicyclist-involved collision data. This will be an opportunity to take a systemic look and gain a statewide understanding of what is taking place, where are the biggest weaknesses, and what solutions will curb the current, alarming trends. The council will submit an annual report to the legislature that includes recommendations for safety improvements.
Washington Bikes’ expects the recommendations of this panel to help inform and guide future policy and funding decisions made in Olympia and at the local level, leading to a reduction in deaths and serious injuries on Washington’s streets and roadways.
The legislation honors the heritage of The Cooper Jones Act of 1998 which set the foundation for bicycle safety legislation in Washington state. Named for 13-year-old Cooper Jones of Spokane, Wash., the Jones family worked relentlessly after the tragic loss of their son to strengthen safety laws for people who bike. Now, 20 years later, Washington still has a lot of work ahead to make streets and roads safe for people who bike. The Cooper Jones Bicyclist Safety Advisory Committee aims to honor the work of the Jones’ family while making much-needed transportation system safety improvements for those that bike.
SB 5402 was heard in the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 7. HB 1795 is scheduled for a hearing on Monday, Feb. 13 in the House Transportation Committee.