An Update, and What You Can Do.
What’s happening now.
The 2009 Safe Passing Act, Senate Bill SB 488 will be heard by the Texas State Senate Committee on Transportation & Homeland Security on Wednesday morning, March 11, 2009 in Hearing Room E1.016 in the Capitol Extension.
The bill includes the “3-feet clearance” provision for cars passing cyclists. It has also been expanded to address right and left hooks and harassment for a range of “vulnerable road users” including pedestrians, persons in wheelchairs, utility workers, motorcyclists and others on the road or roadside not in a protective steel vehicle shell. Click here for the current text of the bill.
What you can do to help.
Below are the Senators on the Transportation Committee, with their party affiliation and general district areas.
Supporting SB 488
John Carona, (chair and bill co-author) R-Dallas, Dist. 16
Kirk Watson, (vice-chair) D-Austin, Dist. 14
Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, Dist. 10
Rodney Ellis, (bill co-author) D-Houston, Dist. 13
Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, Dist. 29
Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, Dist. 25
Uncertain on Support for SB 488
Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, Dist. 3
Joan Huffman, R-Houston, Dist. 17
Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, Dist. 8
- If you are represented by a State Senator who serves on the Transportation Committee, please call or email your Senator by Tuesday to ask for their “Yes” vote. If they already support SB 488, thank them. If they are uncertain on SB 488, urge them to vote “Yes”. Communication should be direct and frank but should always be respectful. If you are not a constituent of any of these Senators, please do not contact their offices because it creates additional unnecessary staff work. They naturally place much higher value on contact from constituents.
- If you live in the Austin area or can easily travel to Austin, come to the hearing at 8:00 a.m. (More details are below.) Please wear business attire including coat and tie for men. Even if you do not have a Senator on the committee who represents you, your presence is very important. RSVP to Mark Stine at email@example.com or 512-476-7433 is appreciated. We also appreciate cc’s or forwards to Mark of email communication sent to and received by you from your Senator.
- If your State Senator is not on the Transportation Committee, please do not contact them yet. Your communication will be much more effective once the Safe Passing Bill has its language finalized, passes the Transportation Committee and goes to the full Senate. BikeTexas will keep you updated.
- There is no need to contact the Texas House Representatives yet. We hope to see movement for the companion 2009 Safe Passing House Bill HB 827 soon. The process will be the same, with a House Transportation Committee hearing first, and then introduction to the full House. Again, BikeTexas will notify you during this process.
Information for attending the hearing.
The committee session will start on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at 8:00 a.m. You can expect to spend most of the morning there. The Chair often switches agenda items so we never know exactly when our bill will come up for action.
BikeTexas has promised the Committee Chair to limit our testimony to four witnesses addressing four different aspects of the bill. In this way, we present this case effectively but succinctly so that limited Committee time is used wisely.
Click here for maps of the Capitol area, including the public parking garage (parking rates are reasonable), and the Capitol Extension.
Please contact Mark Stine (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 512-476-7433 if you have questions. Call Mark at cell 512-921-0581 the day of the hearing if needed.
We’ve been working and waiting long for this.
All of us know how important this bill is for the overall safety of cyclists in Texas. We are optimistic that we will have success but we all must still work every step of the way in this laborious process. Our sincere thanks to all of you who have stepped up to support BikeTexas in this effort.
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