Day 96 of the legislative session: An update on where things stand for people who bike

Safety improvements for Washington’s streets and roadways, connecting and protecting trails, and ensuring active transportation and recreation are supported through the state’s budgets.

Less than two weeks until Sine Die

It’s day 96 of the legislative session. Washington Bikes has been head down, working our priorities through the legislative process. Wednesday, April 12 was the cutoff for bills to make it out of their opposite chamber in order to continue on to the Governor’s desk for signature. And with that, the focus in Olympia has turned towards the budgeting process. The Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-controlled House have both released their initial versions of the Operating, Transportation and Capital budgets. The regular session will Sine Die (adjourn) on Sunday, April 23. Budget negotiations have yet to start, which means we are awaiting an announcement of the special session. The special session will be dedicated to passing the final budgets and addressing the McCleary mandate for K-12 education.

Legislation

Washington Bikes’ priority legislation — creating the Cooper Jones Bicyclist Safety Advisory Council — has almost made it through the legislative process. SB 5402 passed the full House last week and now awaits concurrence in the Senate before heading to the Governor’s desk. Huge thanks to our prime sponsors, Senator Liias (21st LD) and Representative Kloba (1st LD), for championing this legislation to help address improving street and road conditions by taking a dedicated look at crashes involving people on bikes.

Washington Bikes has been working with a coalition of organizations, construction professionals, medical professionals, law enforcement, and families who’ve lost loved ones to distracted driving collisions to update Washington’s outdated distracted driving laws. SB 5289 passed the full House this week — this bill too, needs concurrence in the Senate before heading to the Governor’s desk for signature. When the bill is enacted in 2019, holding a wireless device while driving will be a traffic infraction with penalties that will hopefully deter the current common usage of phones while driving. This distraction while driving correlates to disturbing trends in collisions and injury.

Budgets

Still a work in progress, but Washington Bikes is advocating for priorities that impact people who bike in all three budgets.

  • Transportation Budget — Safe Routes to School (SRTS) and bike/pedestrian grant funding levels are currently maintained in both the House and Senate versions of the budget.
  • Capital Budget — We are working to secure funds for maintenance, protection, and development of trails statewide. The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) contains the majority of these trail projects through the recreational trails program.
  • Operating Budget — We are working along with Washington Trails Association to secure funding for an economic impact study. The study will take a deep dive looking at how hiking, biking, and walking positively impact Washington’s economy. In addition, the study will quantify the health benefits of these activities.

Stay tuned as regular session concludes and for an update on how Washington Bikes’ 2017 legislative priorities faired. Stay touch by signing up for Washington Bikes’ alerts!

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