Lots of exciting progress, but more work remains
Washington Bikes has been hustling to move our legislative agenda through the fast-paced, 60-day legislative session in Olympia. Our 2018 agenda focuses on issues including:
- understanding the economic development and health benefit opportunities of Washington trail communities,
- funding for building out and maintaining Washington trail networks,
- updating laws to accommodate new technologies that break down barriers to riding bikes, and
- working to improve safety on Washington’s streets for vulnerable roadway users.
Read on for an update on our progress with nine days to go!
Measuring the economic impact & health cost savings of biking and hiking in Washington. Washington Bikes and Washington Trails Association working with legislative champions, Senator Van De Wege (Sequim) and Representatives Barkis (Olympia) and Chapman (Port Angeles) advocated for $125,000 to conduct the study of the economic and health benefits of hiking and biking for Washington state (Operating budget). Both the Senate and House versions of the Operating budgets include the $125,000 funding for the Recreation and Conservation Office to carry out the study.
Legislation to update Washington’s e-bike laws to national standards. SB 6434 (Sen. Rolfes) concerning electric-assist bicycles had a successful hearing in House Transportation committee (opposite chamber of where the bill originated). The bill was then voted out of committee, sent to House Rules committee, and last night the bill was pulled from House Rules to the House floor calendar. The legislation has until Friday, March 2 to be voted on by the full House.
Legislation to strengthen Washington’s vulnerable user laws. HB 2900 (Rep. Kilduff) concerning violations of traffic laws that place vulnerable roadway users at increased risk of injury and death. Unfortunately, HB 2900 died in House Rules with the House of Origin cutoff deadline. This bill was introduced late in session and came through House Transportation committee with direction to continue working on the policy. The need for more effective vulnerable user laws is significant because the education and awareness about the existing law is lacking. Luckily the bill sponsor and stakeholders will continue to work on refining this legislation with hopes of strengthening the vulnerable user laws in a future legislative session.
Next Steps before Sine Die
The legislature is currently in the process of passing the 2018 supplemental Operating, Capital and Transportation budgets. Afterwards, focus will turn to floor activity and passing the remaining legislation for the 2018 legislative session.