As the 2011 Texas legislative session approaches, BikeTexas has honored a legislator from each house with a BikeTexas Champion Award.
Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) is a longtime supporter of cycling in Texas. An avid cyclist, Senator Ellis has authored many cycling-related bills, including the Safe Passing Bill in the 2009 legislative session. The Safe Passing Bill, Senate Bill 488, required motorists to give more than three feet of clearance when passing any “vulnerable road user”, including cyclists. SB 488 passed the House and Senate on a bipartisan vote before being vetoed by Governor Rick Perry. Senator Ellis has also co-hosted six annual National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Bipartisan Bike Rides. By hosting many VIP bike rides, Senator Ellis has helped get scores of elected officials to get on their bikes.
State Representative Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving) sponsored the Share the Road Y’all special license plate in 2003 that helps fund cyclist and motorist safety education. She also sponsored the God Bless America and God Bless Texas special license plates legislation that help fund BikeTexas Safe Routes to School programs. She further distinguished herself as a champion for bicycling during the 2009 legislative session, when she co-authored the Safe Passing Bill and worked tirelessly for its passage. She is currently Chair of the Vulnerable Road User Subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee and is the current Chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures Transportation Committee.
After Governor Perry’s veto of the Safe Passing Bill, and especially after an incident in which her granddaughter was hit by a car while biking, Rep. Harper-Brown vowed to fight again for its passage, which she plans to do in the upcoming 2011 session.
“As Texas cyclists, we feel truly blessed to have these two legislators in the Capitol working for us,” said Robin Stallings, BikeTexas Executive Director. “We could never have gotten the Safe Passing Bill through the Texas House and Senate without the hard work and dedication of Representative Linda Harper-Brown, and Senator Rodney Ellis.”