The 2021 Texas legislative session will be like no other. While the Capitol will be open, most members’ offices will be closed to visitors. As a result of COVID-19 precautions and out of concern for legislators, their staffs, and BikeTexas volunteers and staff, all of our legislative meetings this session will be virtual.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do, but in order to maximize our time, resources, and the opportunities available, we’re focusing on a limited number of bills this session:
- We’re putting the final touches on a resolution to provide ongoing funding opportunities for communities to build signature trail networks or their part of the 8000-mile Texas Bicycle Tourism Trail Network. Inspired by the Route Vert in Quebec, Canada, Texas Bicycle Tourism Trails is a generational vision to connect most Texas cities and towns. BikeTexas has been working toward seeing this vision realized since we led the effort to pass the Texas Bicycle Tourism Trails bill in 2005. We’ll send Action Alerts on this when it’s time for you to contact your legislators.
- We are working with partners around the state to introduce the Bicycles in Crosswalks bill. Currently, if a bicyclist is hit by a motorist in a crosswalk, it isn’t possible to clearly establish liability—the bicyclist may get a ticket even when not at fault. We want clarity in the law, which will benefit both bicyclists and drivers.
- Safe Passing, HB 554, has been filed by Rep. Ray Lopez. Although 27 Texas cities have a local 3-foot passing ordinance (6 feet for large commercial vehicles), we have yet to get the same clarity at the state level. Over 40 states have Safe Passing laws on the books, but Texas lags behind.
A word of caution from our Executive Director, Robin Stallings, about the Safe Passing bill:
BikeTexas staff, board, and members, including many of you, have poured heart, soul, time, and money over the last 20 years into passing this bill. We have had bipartisan bill authors and support every session. Together, we’ve moved the bill through committee multiple times, and in 2009, Safe Passing got all the way through the legislature, only to be vetoed by the former governor. And in every other session, the bill has been stopped by an invisible hand.
In close cooperation with Representative Lopez’s staff, BikeTexas will work quietly to identify who is stopping the bill. If it seems that Safe Passing has a chance of moving through the legislature and getting Governor Abbott’s signature, we will alert you and apply our maximum efforts again to pass the bill.
Ultimately, Safe Passing will be law in Texas, but we are prepared to recognize that it may not be this session. In the meantime, as we work to determine who is stopping the bill, we do not wish to spend your time by asking you to contact your legislators for a bill that may not seen any movement. We intend to be respectful of your time and energy, and only ask for your participation on good bills that can be passed or bad bills that must be stopped.
Passionate, committed advocates or groups may organize and work to bring attention to this bill this session, but BikeTexas will not take public action until the obstructions are resolved. If you do hear from us to take action on Safe Passing, or any other bill, it will be because we believe there is a realistic path to success.
BikeTexas thanks Representative Lopez and his staff for their dedication and support of this critical Safe Passing bill. It is positioned to move if circumstances change over the course of the session.