Legislation & Statewide Issues
Washington Bikes advocates for a bicycle-friendly state, works to increase funding for bicycle infrastructure and pass legislation to improve access and safety, coordinates with state agencies on implementation of laws and regulations, provides tools for local advocates to improve their communities, educates people of all ages to increase transportation safety, and seeks to make bicycling accessible to everyone.
Legislation. Washington Bikes works year-round for more funding, better policies, and new laws that grow bicycling and create safer and more complete streets statewide. Over the past 25 years Washington Bikes has led efforts for the passage of the majority of bike-friendly legislation enacted into law. We accomplish this by:
- Lobbying in Olympia. Washington Bikes has a statewide policy director and works with a contract lobbyist in Olympia to forward our legislative priorities. Staff and lobbyist serve as our eyes and ears, but members are our voice.
- Involving You. You can help advocate for safer streets and greater bicycling accessibility by signing up on our email list, providing input to Washington Bikes’s Legislative and Statewide Issues Committee, and becoming a member of Washington Bikes so we can truly say we work for you.
Statewide Issues.Washington Bikes works to reach out to our members and board members, to clubs and organizations, and to local governments, bicycle boards, and elected officials across the state. The Legislative and Statewide Issues Committee works year-round to identify, research, and prioritize key issues for cycling that need to be addressed at the state level. We connect you to the latest issues and topics, help build capacity for better bicycle infrastructure, and seek to hear from you about legislative needs.
2014 Legislative Agenda
After a busy 2013, which featured several victories as well as a long conversation over transportation revenue that fell short, the short 60-day 2014 legislative session is now over a week old. Through its 2014 legislative agenda, Washington Bikes continues to work for you in Olympia to:
Grow investments that get Washingtonians where they want to go. Washington Bikes continues to support transportation investments that focus on fixing Washington state’s decaying infrastructure, and by making smart investments in successful programs that provide safe routes to schools for our children. We’re also seeking investments in complete streets for Washington’s main streets and business districts, as well as investments in trails and bikeways that improve mobility and spur economic development.
Cultivate the Multimillion-Dollar Bicycle Travel & Tourism Industry. Bicycle travel and tourism is big business. Oregon receives $400 million annually from the industry. An improved understanding of bike travel and tourism in Washington state is needed to make smart choices for growth statewide, particularly in rural areas.
Reduce Student Transportation Costs. Pupil transportation costs Washingtonians approximately $450 million annually. A pilot bill or proviso would explore how to improve pupil transportation options and to save the state and school districts money by incorporating safe walking and biking solutions for students.
Improve Safety for Washingtonians.
- Washington Bikes supports: Strengthening our distracted driving laws to reduce unnecessary injuries and deaths. (In progress: SB 6227 just introduced by Senator Eide received a hearing on Tuesday, January 21 and was passed out of committee on February 4)
- Clarifying how cars should cross bike lanes at intersections, and consolidating groups of cyclists to pass through intersections to avoid congestion and confusion with larger groups of cyclists.
Pave the Way for Safe Passing on Washington’s Roads. Explore legislation to facilitate motor vehicles to safely pass people who are walking and biking, while maintaining an appropriate distance. Options include:
- Allowing vehicles to cross to the left side of a double parallel solid line if passing a person on a bicycle or on foot in the same direction.
- Enacting a minimum 3 foot passing distance, similar to 2013’s motorcycle safety legislation that now requires motorcycles to keep 3 feet of distance when overtaking those walking and biking (SSB 5263 sponsored by Senator Benton).
Promote Better Transportation Investments Through Better Data. Significant data gaps exist around the rates of bicycling statewide. Comprehensive non-motorized data collection could help improve decision-making and safety investments.
State Transportation Revenue Package
Through most of 2013 Washington Bikes worked with our local government, community, environment, public health, and transportation partners to grow Safe Routes to Schools funding for bike/pedestrian infrastructure improvements and to fund the Complete Streets Grant Program. On December 18, 2013 legislators and the Governor’s office announced the end of active negotiations for a statewide transportation revenue package. Washington Bikes remains committed to a package that connects Washingtonians, revitalizes Main Streets, and makes it safer for kids to bike and walk to school.
In the 2014 legislative session, the Senate Majority Caucus Coalition has been expected to release a new proposal, but Senate Transportation Committee Co-Chair Curtis King has now indicated that a package is likely not an option until late 2014 at the earliest.
2013 Legislative Regular Session Recap
After the regular legislative session and three special sessions, Washington Bikes acheived significant policy and funding wins:
- Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill. On May 16 Governor Jay Inslee signed Representative Cindy Ryu’s HB 1045, the Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill, into law. Governor Inslee’s bill action represents the end of a three-year legislative odyssey for Washington Bikes, our legislative champions, and the countless organizations and cities that supported common-sense legislation to give cities and towns an easier pathway to make safe streets. Washington Bikes is now working with our partners on early implementation for this law, which became effective on July 28, 2013.
- Federal Safe Routes to School Investments Protected. Thanks to the hard work of Senator Andy Billig on the transportation budget, Safe Routes to School Grant Program investments were restored to their pre-MAP-21 federal funding levels, bringing the 2013-15 investments to $18.45 million – the highest rate of investment for Safe Routes to School in Washington state history. This investment is expected to fund 42 school safety projects statewide.
- SB 5263, Concerning motorcycles overtaking and passing pedestrians and bicyclists. While originally not included in this legislation, an amendment facilitated by Washington Bikes and Cascade Bicycle Club and introduced by Senator Christine Rolfes added a 3-foot passing distance requirement for motorcycles overtake bicycles and pedestrians in the travel lane. This legislation provides everyone who supports sharing the road an important and incremental start to develop a uniform safe passing law that incorporates a 3-foot passing requirement.
- Trail investments statewide. Approximately $10 million for great trail projects were included as community priorities and investments in the Capital Budget for 2013-15.
How did the 2013 session help Washington bike?
Thanks to your help and the hard work of many legislators from around the state, 2013 brought Washington:
- The ability for cities and towns to set safer neighborhood street speeds to 20 miles per hour without facing the obstacles of conducing time-consuming and costly studies
- $4.5 million in federal funding protected for Safe Routes to Schools. Including the additional $25.95 million secured, the next two years of investments for state biking and walking safety grant programs totals $30.45 million
- Approximately $10 million for trail extensions and improvements across Washington state
- The beginnings of a law to clarify safe passing distances when overtaking bicycles
More in-depth coverage can be found on our blog.
Growing Bicycle Infrastructure Statewide
We are monitoring proposals for new revenue to fund transportation projects and will advocate for inclusion of bicycle projects on any list of items to be funded with this source, should anything be enacted. Write your legislator now about growing investments for biking.
In support of that effort we are compiling the statewide list of bicycle projects and invite nominations. A project can be a specific missing link or a design approach that would improve networks wherever it is applied. This list will become a resource on our site and we will monitor and report progress toward the goal of a truly statewide system of connected bike access.
We continue to advocate for the funding of trail projects, such as the Spokane River Centennial Trail Extension, Ferry County Rail Trail, Spruce Railroad Trail/Tunnel Restoration, and many other trails. The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition tracks trail projects such as these that may receive funding through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) budget. Their site provides specifics on individual project requests and a form to contact your legislators in support of those projects.
Speaking Up: How to Contact Your Legislators
For information and examples on contacting legislators about bills, see this Washington Bikes blog post. It includes information on how to use the legislative district finder to identify your legislators and an example of the kind of message you can send in support of a bill.
Don’t stop after the legislative session ends! Just a few of the actions you can take to keep support for bicycling visible year round so it’s top of mind when they come back to Olympia:
- Send your legislator a thank-you note at the end of session for his/her votes in support of bike projects.
- Invite your legislators on a bike ride to showcase infrastructure needs (and bring along a reporter or write a blog post for us with some photos).
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper in support of a local project or bike master plan update. (Ask your friends to comment online to add their voice to yours. Ignore any trolls who may disagree with you–feeding them by responding just encourages them and they represent only a small minority.)
- Attend public meetings–your local Bicycle Advisory Board if you have one, city council, county commissioners, board of your metropolitan planning organization or regional transportation planning organization, school board, Planning Commission–and ask them to adopt policies that support expansion of access to bicycling.
- Share information about these meetings and bike events with your friends on your social media accounts; creating a Facebook event can be very effective for turning people out at project open-house events that are often lightly attended.