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.
The 2015 Legislative Agenda
Washington Bikes Board of Directors and its Legislative and Statewide Issues Committee set a 2015 agenda to improve safety and health through smart investments and legislative improvements, highlight the benefits of efficient transportation investments, and grow the state’s economy via bicycle travel and tourism.
2015 Priority: Investments that Get Washingtonians Where They Want to Go
Washington state continues to slip behind other states in making investments to grow biking and make safer streets. As the Governor and Legislature begin another round of discussions to pass a multi-year transportation-spending package, and as funding for school safety improvements are in doubt, it’s even more important that Washingtonians get the right investments for biking, walking, and making streets work for everyone.
In 2015 Washington Bikes will advocate to (1) Grow and stabilize state funding for the Safe Routes to School Grant Program; (2) ensure that biking, walking and complete streets projects are a component in any transportation revenue package; and (3) support the $97 million Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program Grant request.
2015 Priority: Growing the Multimillion Dollar Bicycle Travel & Tourism Industry
Bicycle travel and tourism is big business. Annually Oregon receives $400 million in direct economic impact from bicycle travel and tourism. An improved understanding of bike travel and tourism in Washington state is needed to make smart choices for growth statewide, particularly in rural areas and in communities seeking to recover their economies after natural disasters, like SR 530.
In 2015 Washington Bikes will be seeking state investments in a similar study to help quantify the industry and improve strategies to grow our state’s economy.
2015 Priority: Updating State Law to Accommodate for Faulty Traffic Signal Detection
In 2014 state law was improved to allow for motorcycles to stop and proceed or make left-hand turns through traffic control signals that do not detect motorcycles or bicycles under certain very limited conditions with a specific protocol that is clear and understood by law enforcement.
Because this same issue affects bicycles and the 2014 law did not include bicycles, in 2015 Washington Bikes will seek similar legislation would improve the 2014 law’s uniformity by including bicycles and providing a clear protocol for how to safely and legally make a left turn and a non-functioning signal.
2015 Priority: Strengthen Washington State’s Distracted Driving Laws
Following Washington Bikes successful lobbying in 2010 to pass Washington’s distracted driving legislation, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission is expected to make agency request legislation improves upon the current law. Work is still being conducted to refine the legislative proposal to help address the crisis of one in every ten Washington state drivers driving distracted.
In 2015 Washington Bikes will be supporting this agency request legislation to help protect bicycle riders on our streets and roads.
2014 Legislative Session Agenda & Recap
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 was most notable for what was absent – a multibillion-dollar transportation revenue package. Despite the package’s absence, its presence was felt almost everywhere via the lack of major policy initiatives affecting transportation.
Through its 2014 legislative agenda, Washington Bikes worked to protect investments, grow bicycle travel and tourism, create smart and healthy options for student transportation, and improve safety through less distracted driving, better data, and safer passing on our roads.
Washington Bikes also provided a recap of the short 2014 60-day legislative session.
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.