- Two of Washington Bikes’ high-priority safety bills have been introduced in the state Legislature, with hopes for passage this year.
Protecting people who bike and walk is simple, really.
Every driver who seriously injures someone walking or bicycling should lose their license until they can pass a driving test. And right turns on red should be restricted at intersections near schools and in locations with heavy pedestrian and bike use.
That’s the gist of Washington Bikes’ two highest-priority bills introduced in the legislative session that convened in Olympia on Jan. 9.
In addition to these bills, Washington Bikes is supporting a host of other legislation to:
- address the public health crisis of traffic violence;
- increase the climate resilience of our communities by making them more bikeable;
- expand affordable access to e-bikes;
- ensure adequate funding for safer bicycling statewide.
Washington Bikes encourages everyone who supports safer streets and a more bikeable state to participate in our WA Bikes Lobby Day on Feb. 6. Lobby Day takes place all day at activists’ convenience. Our policy team will share the resources and talking points to connect community members to their legislators.
WA Bikes made great strides towards a bikeable state in last year’s legislative session, including more than $1 billion for safer bike lanes, sidewalks, and trails. That progress would not have been possible without community voices alongside us in Olympia. “This session, we need your help making sure leaders hold true to those investments and pass policies to keep people on bikes safe,” says Community Organizer Tamar Shuhendler.
Sign up for Lobby Day on Feb. 6. We’ll provide you with tools to help set up meetings with legislators, and to effectively communicate your story to them.
“Attending Lobby Day is even more important this year because there are many new legislators following the November election,” Shuhendler says.
Top Priorities for Safer Bicycling
Washington state is experiencing a traffic safety crisis. Fatalities are at a 30-year high, and vulnerable road users are being injured and killed at rates unseen in decades. That’s why our legislative priorities for 2023 include a focus on policy changes to reduce traffic violence.
In the run up to this legislative session, we’ve worked with legislators to draft bills that achieve this goal. Below are the high-priority legislative efforts we are pushing during this session.
Crosswalks should be safe spaces for people biking, walking, and rolling. Unfortunately, crosswalks are among the most dangerous locations. More than 20 percent of people hit by motor vehicles while biking or walking are in crosswalks. This is due in large part to vehicles turning right at red lights.
SB5514 sponsored by Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, would restrict right turns on red at school, library, and community center intersections with the heaviest amount of bike and foot traffic. The bill would not ban all right turns on red, but would rather outlaw them at intersections in dense urban cores where people walking, biking, and rolling through crosswalks face the greatest danger from inattentive drivers.
Bad Driver Re-Testing
Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, is lead sponsor on a bill to require drivers who have hit and injured someone walking or bicycling to lose their license until they can be re-tested.The Legislature passed a bill that intended to do this as part of the Cooper Jones Act in 1998, but due to a problem with the process of sharing information between police and the Department of Licensing, many drivers are not being re-tested.
HB1319 would fix this technical problem and ensure the law is followed.
Educated Drivers are Better Drivers
Data show that a third of all serious crashes in Washington state involve drivers between the ages of 18 and 25. Data also show that young people who take driver’s education are safer behind the wheel. That’s why we support expanding driver education for all new drivers.
Under current law, people who wait until age 18 to get their driver’s license can skip driver ed classes. Sponsored by Sen. Shewmake, D-Bellingham, SB5430 would create a voucher program for young people within low-income households to access affordable driver’s education. “We support this bill because educated drivers are better drivers,” Shuhendler says.
Bikeable Communities are More Resilient to Climate Change
Bikeable and walkable communities are more climate resilient. That’s why Washington Bikes supports legislation (SB 5093 and SB 5203) to reform how cities and counties plan for housing and transportation.
“Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state,” Shuhendler says, “and this legislation would jumpstart the process of planning communities that are less car-dependent and where people can make more trips by walking, biking, and transit.”
Invest in Safe Places to Walk, Bike, and Roll for Transportation and Recreation
Last year’s Move Ahead Washington transportation package was a historic achievement in terms of funding for biking and walking infrastructure and programs. Now, we are working to ensure that the commitments made in Move Ahead Washington receive funding–and that legislators don’t try to siphon off the $1.3 billion in bike, walk, and roll funding for other purposes.
“WA Bikes Lobby Day on Feb. 6 will be an important opportunity to tell legislators that you support Move Ahead Washington and its investments in a more bike-friendly state” Shuhendler says.