Washington Bikes’ 2020 legislative agenda was laser focussed on enacting policies and protecting funding for people who walk and bike.
The 60-day session moved at a rapid pace and ended before the statewide response to COVID-19 kicked into full gear. We successfully passed a new policy to ensure safety for people on bikes (Safety Stop), and a new program to help people on bikes explore Washington (Scenic Bikeways). Funding impacts from the passage of I-976, which would significantly cut state transportation funding, loomed large throughout – but funding levels were preserved for this year. Read on for details.
#1: Investments Maintained for Safe Routes to Schools and Bike/Ped Grants
Washington Bikes is grateful to the House and Senate transportation leaders who devised a one-time solution to largely protect the multimodal funding account, through which Safe Routes To School and bike and pedestrian safety grants are funded. Lost revenue from I-976 has been backfilled for one year through project cost savings. Legislators have underscored that this is a one-time fix and that new transportation revenue will be needed in the 2021-2023 biennium in order to avoid significant cuts to state transportation funding. We will continue working with leaders to protect and enhance funding for people biking and walking.
#2: Washington has a New Law to Keep People on Bikes Safer – The Safety Stop
Washington Bikes led efforts to pass the Safety Stop this legislative session. The result: Washington will become the fifth state in the nation to allow people who bike to treat a stop sign as a “yield.” This change will increase safety at intersections by allowing a person bicycling to avoid waiting in the blind spot of a motor vehicle and to get out ahead of following motor vehicles, creating space and less likelihood for interaction between them. The law will be enacted in October.
#3: Washington now has a Scenic Bikeways program
Washington Bikes worked with Rep. Alex Ramel (40th LD, Bellingham) to pass legislation that will create a scenic bikeways program. The bill had almost unanimous support out of both chambers and will bring economic development, tourism, and outdoor recreation benefits to Washington.
#4: No movement of Health as a Goal in Transportation Investments
We are disappointed that legislation to include the concept of “health” in the state transportation system policy goals didn’t make it through this year. Rep. Marcus Riccelli (3rd LD, Spokane) prime sponsored the House version of the bill and it made it through the House chamber, but died in the Senate Transportation committee.
Thank you for your support of Washington Bikes’ work in Olympia and for those of you who joined Washington Bikes’ 2020 lobby day. We are proud of the progress made this year and are already looking towards the 2021 legislative session.