Wrapping up the 2018 legislative session
Wednesday, May 9 marked the last day of Colorado’s 2018 legislative session. With that in mind, we wanted to provide a summary of the issues that we worked on this spring, all of which had direct and indirect implications for bicyclists around the state.
Much of what we worked on this session involved making roads safer for all road users, including, but not limited to, bicyclists. We experienced both wins and losses this legislative session, with one especially big win for bicyclists, and other victories for all road users. For those efforts that failed, we hope to work similar legislation in the future with support from our members.
Bills we championed
WIN: Senate Bill 144 - The safety stop bill
Governor Hickenlooper signed SB 144 into law on Wednesday, May 2. This law, our biggest victory of the 2018 legislative session, is a huge win for Colorado bicyclists.
What the law does: Senate Bill 144 provides common language for municipalities and counties to adopt should they choose to allow bicyclists to use the “Colorado safety stop.” The safety stop allows bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield and red lights as stop signs if the coast is clear.
Various versions of the safety stop are already in place in several communities across Colorado, but each uses different language. Having consistent language for all municipalities and counties to adopt will help motorists and bicyclists alike understand the law more easily and avoid confusion while traveling throughout the state.
Safety stop implementation can reduce conflicts on the roads and improve the flow of traffic. While we continue to work toward more inclusive infrastructure for all people bicycling and walking, this is a step to help traffic move safely and efficiently within our current system.
Now it is up to local communities to adopt the Colorado Safety Stop.
Bill Sponsors: Senator Andy Kerr, Representative Chris Hansen, Representative Yeulin Willett. Click here to send them a note of thanks for their support!
WIN: Senate Bill 001 and House Bill 1340 - Transportation funding initiatives
One of the biggest issues legislators debated this session was how to allocate funding from a $495 million budget windfall. Both Senate Bill 001 and House Bill 1340, the latter of which would only go into effect should SB 001 not be signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper, proposed allocations for that funding.
To support the full needs of people around the state—and anticipate Colorado’s continued growth—transportation funding cannot only go toward expanding capacity for cars and building more highways or adding lanes. That’s why we worked hard to make sure that funding was used in a way that would benefit all Coloradans, not just those who drive.
The latest version of Senate Bill 001 allocates approximately 70% of the $495 million to roads, 15% to multimodal transportation and 15% to communities with populations smaller than 50,000 on July 1, 2018, as well as an additional $150 million divided in the same way on July 1, 2019. Additional money will also be allocated in the years to come, but that funding depends on the results of ballot measures in the 2018 and 2019 elections.
In addition to our testimony, we encouraged our members and supporters to reach out to their legislators to let them know that funding for more than just roads is important to them. Through our Action Alert campaign on the issue, we reached every single state senator and all but two state representatives. Our supporters sent nearly 1,600 messages on the issue. That individual outreach to local legislators was a crucial part of making the final version of SB 001 a reality.
SB 001 Sponsors: Senator Randy Baumgardner, Senator John Cooke, Representative Perry Buck, Representative Faith Winter
HB 1340 Sponsors: Senator Kent Lambert, Representative Millie Hamner
LOSS: Senate Bill 140 - Protecting vulnerable road users
Senate Bill 140 would have made careless driving that seriously harms or kills a vulnerable road user—including bicyclists, pedestrians, maintenance workers, and those providing emergency services—a class 1 misdemeanor. It also would have required the driver at fault to attend driver improvement school and perform community service. Violators of the law would have been subject to license suspension on a case by case basis.
This bill would have protected people who ride bikes and walk in Colorado. Increased penalties for careless driving can help to deter unsafe behavior behind the wheel and make our roads safer for everyone.
The bill died in the Senate Judiciary committee. We testified on its behalf, and if it or a similar bill is reintroduced in the 2019 legislative session, we look forward to supporting it.
Bill Sponsor: Senator Michael Merrifield
LOSS: Senate Bill 049 - Distracted driving
Senate Bill 049 would have increased fines for distracted driving caused by the usage of cell phones and other electronics. Distracted driving is a critical issue in Colorado, and we testified on behalf of this legislation because we believe it would improve the safety of our roads for all road users.
Data from the Colorado Department of Transportation indicates that 620 people died on Colorado roads in 2017 alone, the highest figure in more than a decade. Moreover, between 2012 and 2016, approximately 57,300 distracted-driving crashes occurred with an average of 40 distracted-distracted driving crashes occurring daily in 2016. Forty per day. SB 049 would have prohibited the use of cell phones and other mobile electronic devices while driving and increased fines for drivers found using their cell phones while behind the wheel.
The bill died in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee. We testified on its behalf, and hope to support similar legislation next year.
Bill Sponsors: Senator Lois Court, Representative Jovan Melton
WIN: House Bill 1072 - Automated enforcement repeal
House Bill 1072 would have repealed automated enforcement legislation that makes our roads safer. Bicycle Colorado and the Vision Zero Coalition testified in opposition to the bill in the House Transportation and Energy committee, where it died. This is a win for our most vulnerable road users, including bicyclists and pedestrians.
When properly initiated, automated photo radar systems and red light cameras are effective traffic-calming measures. Studies show that the severity of a crash is directly correlated to speed, and this is even more true for vulnerable road users such as bicyclists and pedestrians—the faster an automobile is traveling, the more severe the crash. This can be deadly for those who bike and walk.
We believe automated enforcement efforts are an important initiative in slowing traffic and increasing safety for all road users. Though it can’t prevent all crashes from occurring, it can reduce their severity and protect vulnerable road users. That’s why testified against the bill, and we were relieved to see it die in committee.
Bill Sponsors: Senator Tim Neville, Representative Stephen Humphrey
LOSS: House Bill 1272 - Network-level distracted driving technology
House Bill 1272 would have made Colorado’s roads safer by allowing consumers to opt-in to technology that would have discouraged them from using their cell phones while driving and reduced distractions on the road. The bill would have required mobile phone providers to provide this technology to their consumers, but would not have required users to adopt it unless they wanted to.
As a driver, it can be easy to forget just how much power you wield. All too often, that power leads to serious injury or even death because of even the briefest glance at a cell phone, and it’s typically someone outside of the car that bears the true burden of that crash. HB 1272 would have allowed consumers to take those distractions away and, in doing so, would have made our roads safer for people inside and outside of cars.
The bill died in the Senate State, Military and Veterans Affairs committee. We testified in its favor, and hope to support similar legislation in the years to come.
Bill Sponsors: Senator Lois Court, Representative Mike Foote, Representative Jovan Melton
WIN: Senate Bill 066 - Reallocating lottery funds for trails
Since 1992, Colorado has invested more than $3 billion in projects across Colorado made possible by lottery funds, but it might surprise you to hear that the Colorado Lottery was initially approved as a temporary program by voters in 1980.