Our 2024 legislative goals
The 2024 state legislative session begins in January. To prepare, we are building coalitions among organizations and grassroots advocates, meeting with legislators and seeking bill sponsors. Once the legislative session starts, we’ll invite you to a lobby day at the State Capitol to talk to legislators about these issues and why they matter to you and your community.
Here are three changes we’d like to see to Colorado’s laws to make riding a bicycle safer and more convenient across the state.
Hands-free: No handheld cell phone use while driving
The problem: In 2020, 10,166 crashes involved a Colorado distracted driver, resulting in 1,476 injuries and 68 deaths (and 72 deaths in 2021). In the Colorado Department of Transportation’s 2021 mail survey, drivers reported cell phone use was their top distraction during the week before the survey.
What we’re advocating: Current Colorado law prohibits all drivers from texting while driving (primary offense) and prohibits drivers under age 18 from using a cell phone (primary offense). With a thoughtful conversation about equitable enforcement, we would like to see Colorado ban handheld cell phone use while driving. We also support a robust public education campaign. Hands-free laws reduce visual distractions for drivers and are common sense: 34 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit using handheld phones while driving. Studies have shown that these laws reduce distracted driving, crashes and fatalities.
Vulnerable Road User Protection Enterprise Fund
The problem: The higher the speed of a driver and the larger and heavier their vehicle, the more dangerous a crash is for people biking and walking. In the U.S., between 2010 and 2021, the number of pedestrian deaths resulting from such collisions increased by 77% while the number of all other traffic-related deaths increased by 25%. In Colorado, between 2002 and 2022, the number of bicyclist and pedestrian deaths increased by 63% while the number of deaths of people inside vehicles declined by 18%. Reducing crashes and fatalities requires making roads more accessible for everyone, no matter their way of traveling.
What we’re advocating: State Senator Lisa Cutter is sponsoring a bill to protect vulnerable road users with dedicated funding to build bike lanes, crossings, speed cameras and more data-driven projects. The bill would create a weight-based annual registration fee on personal cars, SUVs and trucks in our state’s 12 most populous counties (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Mesa, Pueblo and Weld). Colorado’s enterprise fund would generate about $18 million per year to fund safety improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians in those counties.
Driver’s education requirements for minors
The problem: Traffic deaths among drivers ages 15 to 20 have increased from 24 deaths in 2019 to 35 in 2022. Teens are also a high-risk category of drivers who disproportionately contribute to traffic crashes. Education is one crucial part of a solution to reduce crashes. Currently, people between ages 16 and 21 are not required to take a driver’s education course before receiving an instructional permit or license.
What we’re advocating: Colorado minors must complete a class before receiving a driver’s permit or license. At least 10% of driver education and testing materials would include content specific to the safety of bicyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. We will also support financial help for qualifying families to pay for required driver’s education.
If you’d like to support our work to ensure that Colorado laws prioritize safety and access for people riding bikes and other vulnerable road users, please join us as a sustaining member or donate. You can also schedule a Colorado Gives Day donation. We are grateful to our supporters for making our work possible.