The legislature is in session. This is when advocates turn their full attention to monitoring legislative developments, talking to legislators, learning what’s going on below the radar, and educating them to get support for our causes and proposals. It means attending committee hearings, submitting written testimony, testifying in person on relevant bills, and issuing alerts to legislators and the bike ped community when appropriate.
This is how we influence decision makers to change the culture of transportation so CT becomes a better place to bike and walk.
The more real advocacy work we do, the more seriously we’re taken at the state government level as a reputable thought leader that really does influence decision makers.. That means we can have more impact, get more media exposure and build more clout among the public. It’s a virtuous cycle of research, communication, education, advocacy and impact.
What does my advocacy work entail at the task level? For those who haven’t been involved in government affairs, politics or public policy, “advocacy” can be a vague concept. There are no shortcuts. Here’s a play-by-play on some of what I do to be an effective nonprofit active transportation advocate:
So here’s a little mission moment. A CT Mirror article led me to their tool on tracking bills by subject, a shortcoming of CGA’s otherwise strong legislative tracking tool. CT Mirror used the Sunlight Foundation’s tool to compile CT legislative proposals by topic. How handy for this time-pressed nonprofit advocate.
I see 28 Transportation bills, including funding bills I need to watch: SB 11, SB 12. HB 5046 and HB 5049. SB is a Senate Bill; HB is House bill. It’s based on the bill’s origin.
Zing. I also spot HB 5185, An act increasing the fines for failing to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. Didn't know about that one. HB 5185 relates to undoing that bad 2007 amendment that changed the requirement for drivers to yield to pedestrians “in or at” a crosswalk, to only when they’re “in” a crosswalk. It endangers pedestrians and is out of sync with other states. The new rule isn’t being enforced. Neither is the old one. That’s the culture we’re trying to change.
Who proposed HB 5185? REP. ADAMS, 146th Dist did. I don’t know him but need to connect. I look him up on the CGA website. It’s Rep. Terry Adams, from Stamford. Good! I’ll call and email him, and connect our member and Bike Ped Advisory Board rep from Stamford , our Merritt Parkway group, and People Friendly Stamford. This is how coalition building works.
I skim Adams’ headlines and read his bio. Viola. He works for Pitney Bowes, who’s been active in Bike to Work Day (sponsor/member potential). Adams emphasizes his “determination to keep the streets safe (keeping open communication between the residents and the Stamford Police Department, work with the city & state for pedestrian friendly thoroughfares.)” We like that.
Next, I’ll also mention Adams’ bill to some attorney friends who work for the legislature and our other bike ped legislators (Bye, Lemar, McCarthy Vahey and Bumgarder). I’ll add Adams to the list of legislators I consider to be bike ped champions. Slowly but surely, we’re building a true active transportation caucus that will help make CT a better place to bike and walk.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a small taste of what our advocacy mission work is all about.
Bike Walk CT