Good news: the Judiciary Committee recently voted unanimously to move HB 5403 out of its comittee, a step toward getting it voted on. HB 5403 would increase penalties for drivers that don't yield to pedestrians in crosswalks or don't use due care to avoid hitting a pedestrian or cyclist. The bill is now being reviewed by the Legislative Commissioner's Office. Next, we'll want the House to bring the bill up for a vote. Stay tuned for the possibility of more action alerts.
In addition to thanking the full Judiciary Committee for its for backing this bill, we say thank you to Stamford Rep. Terry Adams, the original proponent of the concepts behind this bill, and to cosponsors Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, 133rd Dist.; Sen. Beth Bye, 5th Dist.; Rep. Steven Stafstrom, 129th Dist.; and Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, 106th Dist.
Minnesota laws get it right. That's why it's been the least dangerous place for pedestrians. See http://www.autoinsurancecenter.com/the-worst-places-to-be-a-pedestrian.htm .
March 1, 2016
Re: SUPPORT for HB 5403, An Act Increasing Penalties For Failure To Yield To Pedestrians In Crosswalks And Failure To Exercise Due Care To Avoid Hitting A Pedestrian Or Cyclist
Dear Representative Tong, Senator Coleman, and Members of the Judiciary Committee:
Bike Walk Connecticut and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign write jointly to thank you for raising HB 5403, an important measure to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists to use the roads. We support the bill and urge the legislature to pass it in 2016 before there’s one more pedestrian or cyclist tragedy.
News Accounts Show Connecticut Not Hospitable to Pedestrians and Cyclists
Recent news accounts from across the state, along with the just-released 2016 Auto Insurance Center report on pedestrian fatalities and injuries, underscore the need for people all across Connecticut to know and follow the rules for safely sharing the road. This is not a new phenomenon: our 2014 research for the Vulnerable User law found that 10,793 pedestrians and cyclists were injured or killed on Connecticut roads from 2006 through 2012, according to state and federal statistics.
Connecticut Needs a Share the Road Campaign for Drivers, Pedestrians and Cyclists
Everybody should feel safe using Connecticut’s roads. Our roads are traveled by people of all ages and abilities who walk, run and cycle for transportation, fitness, recreation, and tourism. Those people must be welcome and expected on our roads.
Legal, Financial Consequences Would Change Behavior
Not only does Connecticut need to re-learn and recommit to the following the rules of the road, we need to step up enforcement of those rules. To the best of our knowledge, the Vulnerable User law enacted in 2014 has never been enforced. The 3-foot safe passing rule isn’t widely observed or easily enforced. And clearly, the rules for yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks go unheeded. The absence of legal or financial consequences to ignoring “share the road” rules simply reinforces the undesirable behavior that so often has truly tragic consequences.
Conn. Gen. Stat. §14-300(c) Should be Corrected Too
In addition to strengthening penalties as this bill provides, please consider correcting a little known 2007 amendment to Conn. Gen. Stat. §14-300(c). Public Act 07-167 amended subsection (c) by replacing “steps to the curb” with “steps off the curb or into the crosswalk” and specifying a fine of $90, effective July 1, 2007. Prioritizing drivers over non-motorized road users, as that amendment did, is simply poor, short-sighted public policy that has no place in a world of climate change, massive traffic congestion problems, and an obesity epidemic.
Minnesota and Other Model Laws
We wish to call your attention to a few pro-pedestrian, pro-cyclist laws in other states that could serve as worthy models for Connecticut:
With four out of five Connecticut workers driving to work alone by car, it’s no wonder that our roads are congested, costing us some $1.3 billion annually in lost time and wasted fuel, according to DOT. Nor should we overlook the fact that transportation is the single biggest source of Connecticut’s greenhouse gas pollution. According to DEEP, that’s mostly from passenger cars.
Accordingly, Connecticut must go beyond accommodating cyclist and pedestrian travel to actually promoting it, so that we can simultaneously relieve congestion, address climate change, improve public health, and attract and retain the millennials and knowledge workers that will give Connecticut's innovation economy a true competitive advantage.
Many of our members have been sharing their personal experiences with you about their adventures, and misadventures, as a pedestrian or cyclist trying to navigate Connecticut’s roads. We urge you to read their remarks and take them to heart.
Thank you for considering our views. We look forward to helping to see that HB 5403 passes this session.
Kelly Kennedy, Executive Director, Bike Walk Connecticut
Joseph Cutrufo, Connecticut Policy Director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Calling all bike ped enthusiasts! Please let the Judiciary Committee and your legislators know you support HB 5403, An Act Increasing Penalties For Failure To Yield To Pedestrians In Crosswalks And Failure To Exercise Due Care To Avoid Hitting A Pedestrian Or Cyclist.
Please Submit Your Testimony in Support of HB 5403
Please thank the Judiciary Committee for raising HB 5403 and let them know you would like it to be passed this year. If you've been hit or frequently encounter unsafe drivers when you're out following the rules of the road, please share your experience to make clear how much work CT has to do to be a better place to bike and walk. Include your name and town of residence at the end. Please be aware that all submitted testimony is public record and will be linked on the Connecticut General Assembly website. Please copy your own legislators (find them here) and email@example.com. Send your testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org. Here's a sample message to personalize.
Can You Attend the March 2 Hearing?
A public hearing on HB 5403 will take place on Wednesday, March 2 at 1 pm in at the Gen Re Auditorium at UConn's Stamford campus. We encourage as many bike ped supporters as possible to attend the hearing. A strong showing would make a forceful statement. Please consider testifying too (you usually get 3 minutes max to talk). Map.
HB 5403 would increase fines from $90 to a maximum of $500 for drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians. Drivers who don’t use care to avoid colliding with a bicyclist or pedestrian can also be fined up to $500. The bill was proposed by the Judiciary Committee.
Tonight in Stamford -- Gov. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Wyman to Hold First in New Series of Town Hall Forums
Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman today announced that they will hold a town hall forum in Stamford on the evening of Thursday, February 11, 2016, to discuss his budget principles, his proposals for adapting state government to a changing economy, and other issues concerning the future of the state.
The forum will be held from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the UConn Stamford Campus in the Gen Re Auditorium (1 University Place, Stamford). Residents who would like an opportunity to ask the Governor a question should arrive about 30 minutes prior to the start of the event to submit their name on a sign-up sheet. The forum is open to the public.
If you're in the area, please consider going to voice your support for making active transportation a prominent part of our transportation and climate plans.
The Stamford event will be the first stop in a series of town hall forums that the Governor and Lt. Governor will be holding throughout the 2016 legislative session. The event will be similar to those they have held in previous years, where they answered hundreds of questions on a range of state issues at numerous forums.
Dates and locations for additional town hall forums in the series will be announced during the coming weeks.
We are very excited and grateful to the Governor for putting $7 million for the CT DEEP Recreational Trails Program on the bond commission's Jan 29 agenda. (See our Jan. 15 letter to the Governor, below.)
The funding isn't a done deal yet, since it's always possible that the meeting could be cancelled and the bonding wouldn't go forward. But it's very gratifying to see our state government taking significant measures to make Connecticut a better place to bike and walk. Our advocacy is making a difference.
Here's what the Jan. 29 agenda includes at page 79:
ITEM NO. 65 CONNECTICUT BIKEWAY, PEDESTRIAN WALKWAY, RECREATIONAL TRAIL AND GREENWAY GRANT PROGRAM
REASON FOR REQUEST: These funds are requested to finance grants-in-aid for planning, design, land acquisition, construction, construction administration, equipment, trail amenities, trail facilities, parking lots, toilet buildings, signs, benches and publications for bikeways, pedestrian walkways, greenways and multiuse trails, and for development and maintenance of recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both motorized and non-motorized uses. The release of these funds will be controlled through the allotment process pending project selections.
Grants-in-aid to Eligible Recipients $4,915,000
DEEP State Park Trail Projects 1,785,000
DEEP Administrative Costs 300,000
Total, This Request $7,000,000
Bike Walk Connecticut’s mission is to “change the culture of transportation, through education and advocacy, to make bicycling and walking safe, feasible and attractive.” We know that’s why our members invest in us.
So in the next year or two, how exactly will we “move the needle” so that biking and walking in Connecticut is safe, feasible and attractive?
Collaborating with DOT and others on the following advocacy priorities will help us move the needle in ways that will make a real difference for active transportation and truly make Connecticut a better place to bike and walk. These advocacy priorities are based largely on recommendations from the League of American Bicyclists in Connecticut’s Bike Friendly Report Card, where Connecticut ranked 22nd in 2015.
Connecticut's US Senator Chris Murphy wants to "bring a human face to the debate over transportation funding and fight for investments that are smart and driven by you."
Please send the message that creating safe, connected networks for biking and walking is an extremely cost-efficient way to give people real options for getting around without relying on a car for every errand, every outing, and every commute.
To join this conversation, visit www.murphy.senate.gov/fedup and share your perspective.
Here's Senator Murphy's message:
As I travel across Connecticut, I’ve heard countless stories from people about how our transportation system has failed them. A barber commuting from Waterbury to Bridgeport has to choose between serving customers from the after-work rush and making it home for dinner because there is a four-hour wait between trains. A working mom in Norwalk can almost never make her son’s baseball games because of traffic on I-95. A Milford businessman routinely has to budget two hours to travel fewer than twenty-five miles.
People are fed up. Connecticut has some of the worst traffic and the oldest infrastructure in the nation. Traffic, congestion, and delays are more than abstract concepts that affect commerce or productivity. Traffic means stress. Congestion means being late for work. Delays mean missing dinner with your kids night after night.
That’s why I'm reaching out to you. I want to hear your story. How long is your commute? What would a shorter, more reliable commute mean to you and your family? Why you are fed up?
To join this conversation, I encourage you to visit www.murphy.senate.gov/fedup and share your perspective.
I will take your stories to Washington to bring a human face to the debate over transportation funding and fight for investments that are smart and driven by you. Because it’s about time we fix this.
All my best,
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy
Washington: 136 Hart Senate Office Bldg. , Washington, DC 20510 (202) 224-4041
Hartford: One Constitution Plaza, 7th Fl., Hartford, Connecticut 06103 (860) 549-8463
The state Bond Commission meets on Sept. 29 to approve bonding to finance a number of projects, including $8.3 Million for "Urban bikeway, pedestrian connectivity, trails and alternative mobility programs." This is what our advocacy does: it gets bike ped projects on the front burner.
Assuming it gets approved, the $8.3 million bond request will break out this way:
Bike Walk CT's advocacy work will continue to focus on those things, including how the bike ped safety planning grants will be awarded.
Read more here and on CT News Junkie.
Speak up to make sure active transportation and complete streets are fully integrated into the I-84 project!
This letter to the editor appears in the Hartford Courant at http://cour.at/1EkCa9x
Because so much of Metro Hartford -- where 81 percent of commuters drive alone -- is so car-oriented, getting to a bus rapid transit station any other way can be a challenge [Aug. 23, Connecticut, "Parking Near CTfastrak Stations Becoming Scarce"].
We've made driving a habit, even when we're not going that far. About half of the trips made in U.S. metro areas are under three miles -- a distance easily covered by bicycle. A quarter of trips are under one mile -- easy enough for most to cover on foot. But because so many streets in so many communities don't safely accommodate these "alternative" modes, 72 percent of trips under three miles are made by car.
If CTfastrak ridership is going to continue to grow, then the Department of Transportation, regional planners and towns must coordinate to make it easier to walk or bike to transit stations. One way to do this is to build housing and commercial space near the busway. Another is making stronger pedestrian and bicycle connections between the stations and the neighborhoods they already serve.
Make room for a few more cars at busway stations, and we'll see the same headline soon after. Make it safer and more convenient to walk or bike to CTfastrak, and soon the headlines will read "Bicycle Parking Near CTfastrak Stations Becoming Scarce."
Joseph Cutrufo, New York; and Kelly Kennedy, West Hartford
The writers are the Connecticut coordinator for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and the executive director of Bike Walk Connecticut, respectively.
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