The 2016 state legislative session represented a time to assess and solidify gains following the 2015 legislative session. Last year state leaders made historic investments in bicycling, health, and safety, made advances in promoting outdoor recreation, and passed our priority legislation that addresses broken red lights for bicycle riders.
A status report on the 2016 priorities based on our legislative agenda:
- Investments that get Washingtonians where they want to go: Retain historic funding levels made by 2015 Legislature for the Safe Routes to School Grant Program, Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Grant Program, Complete Streets Grant Program, as well as the bicycle and pedestrian project list.
- End of session outcome: Through the supplemental budget, progress continues on implementing the historic investment
- Protecting Trails Statewide: Washington Bikes will monitor and explore the potential for additional investments that connect and improve trails for neighboring residents, visitors, and neighboring communities that benefit from the economic opportunities that trails bring via the $3.1 billion that bicycle riders spend in Washington state.
- End of session outcome: Through lobbying by supporters of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, a budget proviso of $100,000 (not new money) was included to direct Washington State Parks to control invasive species along the trail.
- Growing the Multimillion Dollar Bicycle Travel & Tourism Industry: Funding for a study of the economic impact of bicycle travel and tourism by the Department of Commerce will help quantify the industry and improve strategies to grow our state’s economy.
- End of session outcome: Conversations about the need for growing bicycle travel and tourism continued and will be a priority in future years.
- Strengthen Washington State’s Distracted Driving Laws: The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) agency request legislation would improve upon the current law by broadening the definition so that any person (with much narrower exceptions) operating a motor vehicle while holding a personal wireless communications device is guilty of a traffic infraction.
- End of session outcome: Again, this legislation fell short.
Looking toward 2017 with many budget challenges looming (particularly around education), many are expecting a challenging legislative session. Over the summer Washington Bikes will be working with partners and stakeholders statewide to craft its upcoming legislative agenda. Stay in touch to know what’s happening.