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Bicycle Colorado

Two wins, one loss: 2019 legislative session recap

By Abe Proffitt, Bicycle Colorado Policy Intern

Friday, May 3 marked the last day of Colorado’s 2019 legislative session. With that in mind, we wanted to provide a summary of three issues we worked on this spring, all of which had direct and indirect implications for bicyclists around the state.

Everything we worked on this session involved making our roads safer for vulnerable users—including bicyclists, pedestrians, and maintenance and emergency service providers—by addressing careless and distracted driving habits.

We were the driving force behind SB 19-175, and ensured lawmakers heard from those who had been affected by careless driving, including those pictured above. 

According to a 2018 report from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), careless and distracted driving habits accounted for more than 15,000 crashes resulting in a serious bodily injury or death of a vulnerable user. At Bicycle Colorado, we fought to discourage this type of driving in the 2019 legislative session.

We championed Senate Bill (SB) 19-175, which will discourage careless driving on our roadways and awaits Governor Polis’ signature at the time of publication. Bicycle Colorado was the group behind SB 19-175’s introduction. We worked with bill sponsors Mike Foote in the Senate and Dylan Roberts in the House of Representatives to draft and introduce the bill and organized testimony from people who have had their lives impacted by careless driving.

We also supported SB 19-012, which would have reduced distracted driving caused by the use of cell phones and other mobile electronic devices. The bill died in the Senate Judiciary Committee in early April. We hope to join 18 other states (and the District of Columbia) in enacting handsfree legislation, which is why we will work on similar legislation again when it is introduced next session.

Along with addressing careless and distracted driving, we worked to keep automated enforcement technology in Colorado. House Bill 19-1099 sought to eliminate the use of red-light cameras and other automated enforcement technologies across Colorado, but this technology plays an important role in slowing traffic and increasing safety for all road users. A review of 28 U.S. and international cities found that areas with speed cameras, all crashes decreased between 8-49%. Although automated enforcement can’t prevent all crashes from occurring, at Bicycle Colorado, we believe it can reduce the severity of these crashes and protect vulnerable road users.

Bills we championed in the 2019 legislative session

Wins

SB 19-175 (Serious Injury Vulnerable Road User Penalties) passed in both chambers.

HB 19-1099 (Reduction of Automated Traffic Enforcement) died in committee.

Losses

SB 19-012 (Reducing Distracted Driving) died in committee. 

Traffic and safety issues that impact people who bike and walk, as well as all other vulnerable users are at the forefront of conversations in Denver and statewide. Too many lives are lost or forever changed on our roadways.

At Bicycle Colorado, we strive every day to encourage our state legislators and other officials to support bills that keep all road users safe. While our distracted driving bill wasn’t put through this term, we are proud of the work we put into SB 19-012, as well as the successes we had on SB 19-175 and HB 19-1099. We will continue to work similar legislation in the future with the support of our members.

Want to support our legislative work? Become a member today.

Membership is a simple and easy way to ensure that we can continue to work for you and all other people who bike in Colorado. 

Bicycle Colorado

About the Author: Bicycle Colorado

Bicycle Colorado is a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in Denver. We use advocacy, education and passion to make Colorado one of the most bicycle-friendly states in the nation. We encourage and promote bicycling, increase safety, improve conditions and provide a voice for people who ride bicycles in Colorado. With the support of our members and numerous partnerships across the public and private sector, we’ve made significant strides in improving bicycling since 1992.

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