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 2 Hearing HB 5403 on Pedestrian & Cyclist Safety, in Stamford - Attend, Testify, or Send Testimony
Attention Bike Walk CT members!
This being a budget year and a short legislative session, we expected the legislature’s focus to be on the budget and transportation lockbox. So we’re thrilled that the Judiciary Committee has raised 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. The bill would increase the fine from a maximum of $90 to a maximum of $500.
The Judiciary Committee is holding a public hearing on HB 5403 and others on March 2 at 1 pm in Stamford at the Gen Re Auditorium of the UConn Stamford Campus. (1 University Place, Stamford, CT 06901).
A massive showing of Bike Walk CT members would be quite impactful. If you’ve been hit or can otherwise testify to the need for safer behavior on the roads, please consider attending the hearing and testifying about your experience. We’ll send details shortly about message points to consider for your written testimony, which you may send by email if you can’t attend the hearing in person.
Yes, the increased dollar amount still pales in comparison to the injury that drivers so often cause when they hit pedestrians and cyclists. Nor does HB 5403 address the little known but problematic 2007 amendment to Conn. Gen. Stat. §14-300(c) that changed the requirement for drivers to yield to pedestrians in or at a crosswalk to requiring them to yield only when pedestrians have already stepped off the curb or are in a crosswalk. The new rule doesn't seem to be getting much enforcement, but neither did the old rule.
Nevertheless, HB 5403 and the March 2 hearing present a huge opportunity for Bike Walk CT members to let the legislature know just how much work remains to be done to make Connecticut a better, safer place for all the people who want to bike and walk. Safety concerns are the number one reason that keeps people (and their kids) from walking and biking as much as they’d like.
And remember - respect on the roads goes both ways. See our Give Respect, Get Respect brochure on the rules for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers to share the road. Please follow them every time.
Bike Walk Connecticut's mission is to change the culture of transportation through advocacy and education to make bicycling and walking safe, feasible, and attractive for a healthier, cleaner Connecticut.
We have a bill! LCO, the Legislative Commissioners Office, has released language for Transportation Committee Bill SB 502, An Act Concerning Bicycle Safety, also being referred to as "The Bike Bill."
As Far to the Right as Practicable (AFRAP) Provisions
Section 3 of SB 502 contains much of the language that Bike Walk CT proposed to amend the statute on "riding as far to the right as practicable." Section 3:
Safe Passing, NACTO Guidelines
SB 502 is also intended to clarify rules on when motorists may safely pass slower moving cyclists, and to encourage DOT to endorse NACTO design guidelines for bikeways and complete streets.
... And speaking of NACTO
Bike Walk CT is sponsoring the NACTO Bikeway Design Guide Workshop for engineering and planning professionals on Thursday, April 23. Urge your town to send their staff for this fantastic training opportunity! (Details here.) NACTO is the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
You win some, you lose some.
Many thanks to all of you who participated in the democratic process this spring to try to get the Vulnerable User bill (SB 191) passed. Despite passing unanimously in the Senate, the House again failed to bring the bill to vote.
Bike Walk Connecticut testified on a number of cycling and pedestrian-related bills during this year's legislative session. Wins in our column include the defeat of two bills that would have required single file riding for cyclists (SB 103 and HB 5246).
We supported the Comprehensive Energy Strategy Bill (HB 6360) for its inclusion of a transportation section that addressed bikeable, walkable communities and transit-oriented development.
We also supported distracted driving enforcement bills, one of which passed (HB 6033). That bill, enacted as Public Act No. 13-271, increases the fines for violating the ban on driving while operating a cell phone, texting, or engaging in any activity that interferes with a vehicle's safe operation. Fines are now $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense, and $500 for third and subsequent offenses.
Additionally, Public Act 13-271 makes those violations part of the driver's motor vehicle record and be available to insurers. The new law also requires the DMV commissioner to assess at least one point on the record of a driver who violates the law banning drivers from using a cell phone, texting, or engaging in any activity that interferes with a vehicle's safe operation.
Finally, the new law creates a task force to: evaluate the effectiveness of existing distracted driving laws; examine their enforcement; and make recommendations, including legislation, to prevent distracted driving in the state. The task force must report to the Transportation Committee by January 1, 2014 and terminates when it submits its report.
Great news! The Senate passed the SB 191, the Vulnerable User bill at 10:19 pm on May 30 by a unanimous vote. Now we need the House to bring the bill up for a vote too, and pass it.
Please contact House Leadership and your State Representative to get the bill passed this year. There are just 5 days left to get the Vulnerable User Bill, SB 191, passed in the 2013 legislative session, which ends June 5.
So is the fourth time the charm? It could be, if all of you on our distribution list take just a few minutes to let your legislators know you want this bill passed, finally, this year.
SB 191 Encourages Safety. Safer Conditions Encourage More Cycling and Walking. By raising awareness of the rights of cyclists and pedestrians to share the road and creating penalties for reckless driving that kills or injures vulnerable users, SB 191 will create safer conditions for everyone. Safer conditions encourage more people to get around by bike or on foot-and that's good public policy.
Adopting SB 191 will make Connecticut a more Bike-Friendly State, and that's good for the economy, the environment, and our health.
Getting a Vulnerable User bill passed is Bike Walk Connecticut's top legislative priority. It's also the first order of business on Connecticut's Bicycle Friendly Report Card, issued by the League of American Bicyclists. Connecticut is becoming more bike friendly, moving up in rank from 20th place in 2012 to 18th place in 2013. We can do better though, and we should.
The Vulnerable User bill is good public policy. Let's make this the year we pass it.
Thank you for speaking up for a bikeable, walkable Connecticut! Together, we can make good things happen.
Bike Walk Connecticut issued the following alert to members of the House of Representatives on May 31, after the Senate passed SB 191 the previous night.
Please Raise and Pass SB 191, the Vulnerable User Bill-- This Year!
With just 6 days left in the 2013 legislative session, Bike Walk Connecticut urges you to raise and pass SB 191, the Vulnerable User bill. Now that the Senate has passed the bill, it's up to you! The cycling and pedestrian community is highly committed to seeing this bill passed this year.
SB 191 Encourages Safety. Safer Conditions Encourage More Cycling and Walking. By raising awareness of the rights of cyclists and pedestrians to share the road and creating penalties for reckless driving that kills or injures vulnerable users, SB 191 will create safer conditions for everyone. Safer conditions encourage more people to get around by bike or on foot -- and that's good public policy.
Adopting SB 191 Will Make Connecticut a More Bike-Friendly State. It's also the first order of business on Connecticut's Bicycle Friendly Report Card, issued by the League of American Bicyclists. Connecticut is becoming more bike friendly, moving up in rank from 20th place in 2012 to 18th place in 2013. We can do better though, and we should.
Being More Bike-Friendly is Good for Economic Development, the Environment, and Public Health. Being more bike-friendly is good for our environment, good for our health, and good for our pocketbooks. It's also good for the state's economy. Cycling is good for tourism. It's also a key ingredient in transportation-oriented development, vibrant communities and thriving, resilient commercial districts, and in attracting and retaining younger workers and the creative class who insist on realistic transportation options beyond the car.
The Fourth Time's the Charm. This is at least the fourth year the Vulnerable User bill has come before the legislature. Every year the bill has enjoyed broad bipartisan, bicameral support. The Vulnerable User bill is good public policy. Let's make this the year we pass it.
Thank you for working together for a more bikeable, walkable Connecticut.
Kelly Kennedy, Executive Director
Bike Walk Connecticut
Please email or call your legislators to support SB 191, the Vulnerable User bill!
See customizable message below
The Vulnerable User bill has been a top priority on our legislative agenda. This bill has come before the legislature several times in recent years, but for various reasons has never made it over the finish line. This year could be different--but only if we all speak up!
Since our last newsletter, SB 191, the 2013 version of the Vulnerable User Bill, has made it out of committee and was put on the Senate Calendar. Then on April 18 it was referred by the Senate to the Committee on Insurance and Real Estate.
Read the Bill Read the Plain Language Summary
This bill is not as strong as we would like it to be, but progress is made in increments. We need to speak up now to keep this bill moving and approved during the 2013 legislative session. Scroll down for a sample message and FAQs.
Please email or call your legislators to support the Vulnerable User bill!
See customizable message below
Customizable Message in Support of Vulnerable User Bill
Dear [Your State Senator and Representative--FIND YOUR LEGISLATOR]
As a constituent, cyclist and a proponent of bikeable, walkable communities, I am writing in support of Senate Bill 191, “An Act Concerning the Penalty for Causing Harm to a Vulnerable User of a Public Way.” I urge you to support SB 191 too.
SB 191 is an important step toward raising awareness of vulnerable road users and holding reckless drivers accountable for crashes that involve the serious injury or death of a vulnerable road user. SB 191 would:
I hope you will support this important bill this year.
[please copy email@example.com]
"We understand the conditions that lead to pedestrian deaths, and we have proven tools to prevent these tragedies. It's time to put these tools to use. We must redesign Connecticut's roads and enhance traffic enforcement to make our roads safe for everyone."
So writes Amy Schwartz, a primary care physician at VA Connecticut Healthcare System and a member of Elm City Cycling in a recent op-ed in the CT Post.
Schwartz calls for Governor Malloy to direct the Connecticut Department of Transportation to redesign the outdated Connecticut Highway Design Manual, the standard reference book used by the state's road designers and engineers, to include information about designing streets that are safe for all users.
"Speed and red light cameras can enforce traffic laws by recording vehicles that exceed the speed limit or fail to stop at red lights," continues Schwartz, who adds that "Connecticut should also pass a vulnerable-users bill to increase penalties for careless drivers who injure or kill pedestrians, cyclists or highway workers."
> Read the full CT Post op-ed from Amy Schwartz, a primary care physician at VA Connecticut Healthcare System and a member of Elm City Cycling.
Credit: Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition
Connecticut's 2013 legislative session opened on January 9. It's early in the session, but Bike Walk Connecticut is aware of one bill in particular that has a lot of people talking.
Proposed Senate Bill 103 would amend Conn. Gen. Stat. §14-286b to require cyclists to ride single file to allow motorists to safely pass and give cyclists the 3-foot buffer that current law requires.
Bike Walk Connecticut appreciates the safety sentiment behind the proposed bill. However, subsection (b) of Conn. Gen. Stat. §14-286b already provides that “Persons riding two abreast … shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic …”
Accordingly, rather than amend current law, Bike Walk Connecticut would prefer that Connecticut re-commit to and enforce a vigorous Share the Road campaign to promote the legal, safe and courteous use of the roads by all users.
Send us your bike walk related news and time permitting, we'll do our best to post it.