Biking and Walking at the 88th Texas Legislature
The Legislative session is heating up and we’re spending lots of time at the Capitol, talking to lawmakers and their staffs about the economic, health, and community benefits of biking and walking in Texas. Here’s some of what we’ve been working on so far:
Texas Safety Stop – SB 2506
You may know it as the Idaho Stop; it’s the law that allows people riding bikes to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs, proceeding on from both only when it is safe to do so. Since it was implemented in Idaho in 1982, serious injuries for bicyclists have decreased. Variations on the law are on the books in eight states. Such laws “allow cyclists to mitigate risk to their advantage, increase their visibility to drivers, and reduce exposure,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
This law allows people on bikes to continue through clear, stop-sign-controlled intersections without losing valuable momentum and without fear of getting a ticket. At a stoplight, this law would allow bicycles to be more visible to drivers, and give people on bikes the breathing space to start moving while not surrounded by car traffic.
Right now, the Texas Safety Stop bill is in the Senate Transportation Committee. Is your Senator on the committee? They may need to hear from you soon, so keep an eye out for Action Alerts. Find your district and who represents you here, and make sure we have your correct district here to be sure you get the alerts you need when it’s time.
Many thanks to Senator Carol Alvarado for sponsoring this bill.
Specialty License Plates – HB 4987
Charities across Texas, including BikeTexas, receive a portion of the sales price for certain specialty license plates. Our specialty plates are specifically designated for bicycle education. Due to the influence of My Plate, a business from out of state, these plates are no longer hosted on the Department of Motor Vehicles website and are instead given lower priority to My Plate’s own designs.
This bill will move Texas-centered plates back to Texas’ DMV site. This will allow Texans to far more easily find in-state charities that they can support by purchasing a specialty license plate. This bill is currently in the House Transportation Committee.
Many thanks to Representative Geanie W. Morrison for sponsoring this bill.
Legislative Intern Ride
BikeTexas was delighted to once again host the hard-working young people from the Texas Legislative Intern Program (TLIP) on our biennial TLIP bike ride. Today’s interns are tomorrow’s elected officials and senior staff members, so showcasing the benefits of bike-friendly laws and infrastructure to communities is an investment in Texas’ future active transportation laws and policies.
Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis approached BikeTexas to begin the biennial bike ride in 2005 when he was a Senator in the Texas Legislature. Hundreds of young people who are passionate about public service have benefited from TLIP, many eventually running for office and becoming elected officials themselves. We’re glad to get to meet them and enjoy a bike ride together at this stage in their careers!
We’re able to meet with legislators and ask for bike- and walk-friendly laws because of you! Many thanks to our members who make it possible to have an ongoing voice for people who bike and walk in Texas. When we talk to lawmakers, we make it clear we represent the thousands of Texans who want a more bikeable and walkable Texas for themselves, their families and neighbors, and Texans yet to come.
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