Update: Safe Neighborhoods Moves for Vote in Senate

Mar 1, 2012 by

Update: Safe Neighborhoods Moves for Vote in Senate

March 5, 2012

Update: Last Friday, SHB 1217 – a bill that would have made neighborhood streets safer for pedestrians, bikers and residents by making it easier for towns to reduce speeds on non-arterial streets – ran out of time for a vote on the Senate floor.

COPC was honored to have supported this bill, as its commitment to reducing childhood obesity is strongly connected to enhancing built environments that promote physical activity.

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington put out a well stated press release on Friday evening (see full text below) which stated, “Today, the Washington State Senate did not vote on the Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill (SHB1217) prior to the 5 p.m. cutoff for considering bills from the opposite chamber. After being listed on the Order of Consideration on Wednesday, it was held and passed over. The Senate’s failure to take action on it today means it is no longer under consideration for the 2011-2012 biennium…This legislation is especially germane to more vulnerable populations, including children. As Washington State PTA wrote in its letter of support, “we believe that SHB 1217 will give local communities a way to make neighborhoods safer places for children to bike, walk and play. “ Similarly, AARP-Washington wrote, “Older pedestrians because of their increased fragility particularly benefit from low-speed environments.”

Publicola also provided a short article summing up the bill’s end.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 2, 2012
Contact: Blake Trask
Statewide Policy Director
Bicycle Alliance of Washington
206.310.4762
blake@bicyclealliance.org

Time Runs Out for Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill in Washington State Senate
Bill would have paved path for safer neighborhood streets by removing red tape and hurdles to reducing speeds on non-arterial streets.

Olympia, WA – March 2, 2012 – Today, the Washington State Senate did not vote on the Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill (SHB1217) prior to the 5 p.m. cutoff for considering bills from the opposite chamber. After being listed on the Order of Consideration on Wednesday, it was held and passed over. The Senate’s failure to take action on it today means it is no longer under consideration for the 2011-2012 biennium.

SHB 1217 would have made safer streets and neighborhoods by allowing cities and towns the authority to set speed limits to 20 miles per hour on non-arterial streets. It did not mandate any change, it simply would have provided cities and towns the authority to do so.

The Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill garnered support from over 35 statewide organizations, boards, cities, and towns.  In its January 30, 2012 vote, it received unanimous support from the State House of Representatives; and during its 2012 Senate Transportation Committee hearing, which featured Seattle City Council President Sally Clark, Spokane Councilmember Jon Snyder, and former WSDOT Secretary Doug MacDonald, it received no opposition by organizations in testimony or otherwise.

“Based on the strong bipartisan and statewide support we’ve seen, it’s puzzling why the Senate didn’t take action on this bill,” says Bicycle Alliance of Washington statewide policy director Blake Trask.

The statewide support for this bill included the Washington State PTA, AARP-Washington, AAA-Washington, Washington Fire Chiefs, the cities of Spokane, Bellingham, Seattle and, Kirkland, as well as the Town of Winthrop.

“Communities are asking lawmakers to give them more cost-saving tools and local options instead of mandates,” says, prime sponsor, Representative Cindy Ryu (D-32). “Given the tight budget times we face, this bill would have helped local governments across the state. It aimed to remove an expensive state mandate that deters communities from lowering speed limits on non-arterial roads even when they recognize that lower speeds would make people safer or promote local businesses and jobs. I look forward to working on promoting these issues in the future.”

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington worked closely with the Representative to develop and support the bill.

“We are disappointed by the outcome, which will retain the state’s unnecessary hurdles for cities and towns to create safer non-arterial streets. But given the large coalition built to support this legislation, we are optimistic that Washingtonians will continue to demand safer streets,” says Bicycle Alliance of Washington Executive Director Barbara Culp.

This legislation is especially germane to more vulnerable populations, including children. As Washington State PTA wrote in its letter of support, “we believe that SHB 1217 will give local communities a way to make neighborhoods safer places for children to bike, walk and play. “ Similarly, AARP-Washington wrote, “Older pedestrians because of their increased fragility particularly benefit from low-speed environments.”

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March 1, 2012

This February, the Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill (SHB 1217) – which gives cities and towns the ability to make our streets safer by lowering speed limits on non-arterial streets – had a successful hearing in front of the Senate Transportation Committee and passed out in executive session. In the next couple of days, we expect for the bill to come up for a floor vote on the Senate floor.

This bill not only increases safety for our children, families and individuals who want walkable streets in order to be physically active and to travel to neighborhood areas, but it also reduces red tape and the cost of studies normally required by the state.

We ask that you encourage your Senators NOW to vote in favor of safe neighborhood streets.

See our letter to Senate Transportation in support of SHB 1217.

A list of WA State Senators and their contact information can be found here.

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