BTA Legislative Update

Three weeks into the 2013 Oregon Legislature and already there are several bicycle and transportation related bills on our radar. Here is a quick update on the bills BTA is working on and watching as of today. This list changes daily and may not contain every bill we are tracking.

BTA Priority Agenda:

SB 247 – Connect Oregon Plus. This bill would allocate much needed transportation funding to bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects and transit operations received its first public hearing on February 19th in the Senate Business and Transportation Committee. The bill was not scheduled for a work session and is now awaiting further hearings or a work session. Click here to read BTA’s testimony on that bill. If you would like to advocate in support of this bill, please tell members of the committee that you support SB 247, would like them to hold a hearing and work session on the bill, and vote yes.

HB 2310 – Connect Oregon. We are currently working to expand Oregon’s traditional Connect Oregon program to include bicycle and pedestrian projects. This is a similar effort to Connect Oregon Plus, but with a streamlined approach. Essentially we are drafting and proposing amendments that would expand the list of eligible non roadway projects that are awarded funding from this program to include multiuse trails. HB 2310 will receive its first public hearing in the House Transportation and Economic Development Committee today, February 22nd. If you would like advocate on this bill, please ask members of the committee to support amendments to HB 2310 to make bicycle and pedestrian projects eligible for funding.

Safe Neighborhood Streets – (still awaiting a final bill number) The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is working on a bill to reduce the default speed limit on all neighborhood streets from 25 to 20mph. The campaign is focused on the connection between speed and safety. Research shows that high automobile speeds are a leading cause of crashes, injuries, and fatalities on our roads. This bill will help improve safety conditions for all users of the road, children getting to school, pedestrians crossing the street, and people riding bikes in every neighborhood. There is a legislative precedent, set in 2011, when the City of Portland successfully passed a bill to allow cities to lower their neighborhoods speed limits to 20mph on Neighborhood Greenways. Our goal is to expand this concept to apply to all streets classified as low traffic, low speed, neighborhood streets.

Safety on High Crash Corridors – (still awaiting a final bill number) The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is working on a bill to allow installation of permanent photo radar cameras. The idea is similar to existing red-light cameras, current Oregon law allows photo radar enforcement vans to set up as long as a uniformed police officer is present and for only four hours at a time. This bill will seek to expand existing Oregon law to make unmanned photo radar cameras legal. The idea is to use these cameras to improve traffic safety in high speed, high traffic, and high crash areas.

Watching:

HB 2500 – Safe Kids. This bill would allow school districts across the state to apply their State Pupil Transportation funds to active transportation projects. The BTA has a long history of helping kids get to and from school safely while encouraging all forms of active transportation. We are pleased to see this conversation happening in the 2013 Legislature.

SB 9 – Cell Phones. This bill increases fines for driving while distracted and directs Oregon to place signs on the highway notifying drivers that violating the law is subject to a maximum fine of $1,000. The BTA is focused on safety for all users of the roadway and this seems like a common sense approach.

SB 332 – Task Force. This bill creates a new task force to report to the 2015 Legislature on ways to increase bicycle safety. The BTA is obviously very interested in this issue however we need more information before we take an official position.

HB 2732 – This bill takes on several issues relating to bicycles, multiuse trails, safe passing distances, and safe riding. It appears to be a mixed bag of changes and the BTA is interested to learn more about the overall intent of this effort before we take an official position.

HB 3152 – Toll Bikes. The Hawthorne Bridge has demonstrated that if there is a quality bicycle network leading up to and over a bridge, we can greatly expand the capacity of the bridge without needing to build a new one. This bill is an effort to charge a fee on people who ride bikes over a new Columbia River Crossing. Obviously we are concerned about this shortsighted approach to paying for transportation infrastructure.

HB 2800 – CRC. The BTA does not support HB 2800 and we are not working on the bill. Our legislative agenda is based on our strategic plan and is focused on safety for all users of the roadway by; reducing neighborhood street speeds, improving traffic safety cameras, and dedicating funding for bicycle projects. Our current policy statement on the CRC can be found at http://btaoregon.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/CRC-position-12-20102.pdf.

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