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SB669 Maintenance Funding & Road Diet Bill Clears Transpo Committee, Now Up for House Vote

SB 669/the highway maintenance reimbursement for bike lanes bill was heard just after 8:30 in the House Transportation Committee this morning. Sen. Alexander of Norfolk did a good job of presenting it, and a number of witnesses including Nick Donohue (Deputy Secy of Transportation), Thelma Drake for the City of Norfolk, Trip Pollard of Partnership for Smarter Growth, a representative of the city of Portsmouth, and me, spoke in support . Del. Greg Habeeb of Salem gave some background regarding how the bill (and his opinion of it) had changed since it was first introduced and how he was now solidly in support of it. Surprisingly, Del. Scott Garrett of Lynchburg chimed in with similar sentiments, as did Del. Randy Minchew of Loudoun. [click to continue…]

Please Write to Your Delegate If You Haven’t Already!

Two bills of interest to cyclists are in final committee hearings this week.  They’ve both been passed by the Senate.

SB669, “maintenance funding for bike lanes,” a road diet bill, was heard by the House Transportation Committee at 8:30 AM Tuesday.  It was Reported Out of committee 18-1, and is now up for House vote.

SB117, the dooring bill, was heard by the House Courts of Justice Committee on Wednesday afternoon. It has also Reported Out, and is now up for a House vote.

If you haven’t written to your delegate, please do it now.  To make it easy, you can use WABA’s automated message.

“Thanks to everybody who has helped so far! We’re getting close. Let’s see if we can get it across the finish line.”  –Bud Vye

Dooring Bill Clears “Courts” Subcommittee, Full Committee Hearing This Wed.

SB117, the Dooring bill, was listed for hearing in the House Courts of Justice Criminal Law SubCommittee today, 1/2 hour after Adjournment of the House, and immediately after the Ethics SubComm heard the 3 bills on its docket. Since all bills being heard were Senate bills and the Senate session was running long, the SubComm assembled but waited about an hour before the Senators who were patroning the bills began to appear.

Our Patron, Sen. Petersen, appeared about 2:45 and began to present the bill when Del. Albo (the Chair of Courts of Justice, who was sitting as a member of the Criminal SubComm) realized that he had assigned the bill to the wrong SubComm, when he had intended to assign it to the Civil Laws SubComm.

Stopping Sen. Petersen in mid presentation, and collecting copies of the bill from all the Criminal SubComm members, he said “We’re going across the hall” and led our small entourage over to where the Civil SubComm was meeting. Excusing himself to Sen. Black of Leesburg, who was presenting a bill, Del. Albo went up to Chairman Habeeb, who was conducting the meeting, handed him the copies of the bill, told him “you are going to handle this one over here” and went back across the hall to the Criminal SubComm. The SubComm members all got a big kick out of this, but soon settled back to let Sen. Black continue with his bill. As soon as it was finished, and unhappily for him, laid on the table, Sen. Petersen started over again with the Dooring bill.

Never having seen anything quite like it in 15 years of doing this, I wasn’t quite sure what kind of reception we were going to get, but there were mostly familiar faces up there on the SubCom who seemed to be in a good mood. Sen. Petersen did a nice job of presenting, which was well received. I was first speaking in support, followed by Champe Burnley, and then Lisa Guthrie representing the Transit Assn.

Some discussion followed regarding how much of a fine the infraction should carry and some legal technicalities, before it was Moved to Report and Seconded by two of the Democrats (which caused me some brief concern that it might be treated as a partisan issue). It was not, however, as the three D’s (McClellan, Toscano, & Krizek) were joined by Chairman Habeeb and Loupassi, Minchew, and Miyares to carry by a 7-3 vote, with only Kilgore, Leftwich, & Campbell opposed. Now its on to the Full Courts of Justice Committee on Wednesday, a half hour after House Adjournment, where I’m cautiously optimistic we can get reported out to the House floor for final passage.

It would be helpful if the RABA folks could thank deljmcclellan@house.virginia.gov & delmloupassi@house.virginia.gov for their support, while the Northern VA folks do the same for delrminchew@house.virginia.gov and delpkrizek@house.virginia.gov the western folks for delghabeeb@house.virginia.gov and deldtoscano@house.virginia.gov and the Tidewater people for deljmiyares@house.virginia.gov

I know they will appreciate hearing that someone appreciates their support of the bill and hopes that they will continue to do so in the Full Committee on Wednesday and hopefully, on the floor shortly after.

Thanks to everybody who has helped so far! We’re getting close. Let’s see if we can get it across the finish line.

‘Maintenance Funding for Bike Lanes’ to Full House Transpo Committee; ‘Dooring’ to Courts of Justice Committee

SB669, the Maintenance Reimbursement for Bike Lanes bill, was heard in House Transportation SubComm3 this morning at 7:30. Chaired by Del. Greg Habeeb of Salem, and with Del. Garrett of Lynchburg sitting as a Committee member (and not as Chair, as he is on Sub Comm 1), I was surprised that there was no move to Table or Pass the bill by, but only a discussion regarding whether they should Refer the bill to the full Committee, or Report it. Since Del. Garrett had been (and I think, is still) opposed to the bill, it was decided to REFER it, a distinction I don’t think matters that much, since the bill will get a full hearing in front of the FULL Committee in either case, on Tuesday, 3/1 at 8:30. I am encouraged at this turn of events, since it is obvious that some behind the scenes contacts have been made that appear to have improved the climate considerably for this bill, as noted by the comments of some hitherto opposed or luke warm Delegates.

Then SB117, the Dooring bill, was heard before the Full House Transportation Committee (but only with 13, then 14 members of the 22 in attendance since the Education Committee was meeting across the hall and a number of the Trans Comm members and our patron Sen. Petersen were over there). Del. Habeeb (just a Committee member, and not the Chair on the Full Committee) who is an attorney and obviously looked to by the others on the Committee as their legal expert, expressed several concerns about the legal ramifications of this bill. At length, Sen. Petersen came in from the other meeting and he & Del. Habeeb discussed Habeeb’s concerns very cordially before the entire committee, leaving all parties in agreement (since there was no real desire expressed to kill the bill) that it should be referred to either the Civil or Criminal SubCommittee of the Courts of Justice Committee (Monday & Wed., 1/2 hour after adjournment) and then to the Full Courts of Justice Committee to get the legal concerns worked out prior to sending the bill to the Full House for final passage. We appeared to have several converts from their opposing positions expressed at earlier meetings, including Del. Minchew who stated that he had recently almost been doored while riding his motorcycle, so again I am cautiously optimistic as we go forward to the next step in the process.

‘Dooring’ Reports Out of Subcommittee; Maintenance Funding for Bike Lanes in Subcommittee Thurs.

SB117 the “Dooring” bill was first on the docket in House Transportation SubCommittee 1 and was heard shortly after 7 a.m. Sen. Chap Petersen did a very good job of presenting it, and I spoke in favor of it, followed by Champe Burnley, & Lisa Guthrie of the Transit Assn.

Del. Adams of Martinsville then moved to Table it, seconded by Del. Pillion of Abingdon. On the vote they were joined by Chairman Garrett of Lynchburg, but they were one vote short, as Dels. Plum of Reston, Ward of Newport News, Anderson of Manassas & LeMunyon of Chantilly voted Nay. That motion failing, Del. Plum moved to report, seconded by Ward. Being joined again by Anderson & LeMunyon , and opposed by the same 3, the bill was Reported 4-3.

It now goes on to the Full House Transportation Committee (where the same 7 Delegates will be joined by 15 others to make up the full Committee) on Thursday a.m. at a more civilized 8:30. In looking down the list of members, it would appear that we would have a good chance to get this bill onto the House floor for final passage if our team mates in the Virginia Beach area can make some calls to

Chairman Villanueva (delrvillanueva@house.virginia.gov),

and Delegates Scott Taylor (delstaylor@house.virginia.gov)

& Glenn Davis (delgbavis@house.virginia.gov)

asking them to support the bill

Certainly wouldn’t hurt for our folks in Northern VA to contact Hugo, Minchew, Dudenhefer, LaRock, & Filler-Corn

Richmond area Betsy CarrDelores McQuinn, & Lamont Bagby

and Roanoke area Greg Habeeb

all with a similar message. Its been a lot of work to get it to this point. Lets give it our best shot and not have any regrets if we miss it by a vote or two.

You can use WABA’s automated message to send to your delegate.

SB669 the Maintenance Reimbursement for Bike Lanes bill also will be heard on Thursday morning, and those making contacts should certainly mention it in their messages, although we got some bad news this morning from one of the Delegates that a number of Delegates in the House are generally opposed to the conversion of vehicular travel lanes to bike lanes and do not support this bill which would incentivize a jurisdiction to do so. Despite his pessimistic outlook toward the bill, lets ask support for it anyway and see if we can prove him wrong.

Dooring, Maintenance Funding for Bike Lanes in House Subcommittees Next Week

Both these bills have been passed by the Senate, and are now making their way through the House.

A very quiet week for Bicycling Advocacy, as we thought SB669 the Maintenance Reimbursement for Bike Lanes bill, would be heard in House Transportation SubCommittee 3, to which it is assigned, at their meeting this morning at 7 a.m. As it turned out, it is still the ONLY bill assigned to that SubComm and its Chair apparently didn’t see the need to bring the 7 other SubComm members in for one bill, so cancelled the meeting.

I found it unusual that a number of Senate bills that had crossed over went directly to the full House Transportation Committee, which met this morning at 8:30, without first going to a SubComm, but for some reason the Chair did not see fit to do this with SB669. With this unusual handling, we will watch to see if it shows up on the docket for the full Committee on Tuesday at 8:30, and if not, perhaps in SubComm3 next Thursday at 7 a.m.

SB117 the Dooring bill, has been assigned to House Trans Sub1, which meets at my favorite time of 7 a.m. on Monday, so we expect to see it on the docket for that meeting, which has not been posted yet. Not thrilled with the uncertainty of all of this, but we keep watching the Legislative website and will be there when the time comes for both of these bills.

If your delegate is on any of these committees, please ask them to support these bills.

‘Dooring’ & ‘Maintenance Funding’ Bills Need Your Support Now

Two bike-related bills have been passed by the Senate, and now need your support in the House.

SB117, the dooring bill, would make it illegal for a driver to open a car door into the path of a cyclist. Currently there is no law governing this in Virginia. Lack of a ticketable infraction can make it harder for dooring victims to get compensation for their injuries. SB117 would change that.

SB669, maintenance funding for bike lanes, would preserve maintenance funding based on lane-miles when lanes are converted to bike lanes. Concern about loss of this funding can keep municipalities from moving forward with bike lane projects, such as road diets. SB669 should eliminate such concerns.

Please contact your delegate now, and ask them to support these bills. If you don’t know who your state delegate is, use the Who’s My Legislator page.

It’s especially important to write now if your delegate is on the House Transportation Committee, listed below. SB117 may be in Subcommittee 1 as soon as Monday, 2/23; and SB669 may be in Subcommittee 3 as soon as Thursday, 2/18.

Update:  SB117 Dooring has reported out of subcommittee, and may be in full committee on Thurs. 2/26.  SB669 will be in Subcommittee 3 on Thurs. 2/26 as well.

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Helmet Bill Killed in Committee; Cell Phone Restrictions Defeated; Maintenance Funding for Bike Lanes

House Transportation SubCommittee 3 met this morning at 7 a.m. and heard several bills, including HB1335, the House version of the “Maintenance Reimbursement for Vehicular Lanes that have been converted to Bike Lanes” bill whose identical Senate version SB669, patroned by Ken Alexander of Norfolk had sailed through both the Senate Transportation Committee and the Senate floor unanimously.

Although Del. Scott Taylor of Va Beach did a good job of presenting it, and a number of witnesses spoke in favor of the bill, with only two witnesses raising some indirect questions about it, Del. Garrett of Lynchburg moved that it be tabled and it went down to defeat on a voice vote, with Chairman Habeeb (Salem), and Dels. Minchew (Loudoun) and Austin (Covington) agreeing to kill the bill on a party line vote, with only Toscano (Charlottesville) and Filler-Corn (Springfield) voting nay.   [click to continue…]

Helmet Bill Clears Subcommittee; Vulnerable User Passed By; Maintenance Funding for Bike Lanes, & Cell Phone Restrictions

Several of the bills we are interested in were heard in House Transportation Subcommittee 1, which met yesterday morning at 7 a.m.

We thought Del. Yost of Blacksburg’s bill HB1360 which would require all cyclists under 18 years of age to wear helmets while riding would not be that well received so did not speak against it. We were surprised to see it get reported out by a 6-1 vote, so now have to take a more active position in opposition. Although we personally wear helmets when riding, and RABA has always “Strongly Recommended” that riders do so on its rides, we don’t feel that it should be required by law. It also poses some obvious enforcement problems for law enforcement, particularly with the “under 18 years of age” clause in it. We expect that it will be heard in the House Transportation Committee meeting at 8:30 on Thursday, and will speak in opposition to it at that time.

Sen. Rip Sullivan of Northern VA did a nice job of presenting HB1173, the House version of the Vulnerable Road User bill ( Penalizing the person who operates a motor vehicle in a careless or distracted manner and is the cause of serious physical injury to a vulnerable road user), but it met the same fate as Sen. Scott Surovell’s identical Senate bill had earlier, and did not survive. As had been the case in Senate Transportation, some members of the committee seemed to think that the punishment of a Class 1 Misdemeanor, and a one year suspension of license, for this offense, which is more severe than that for failing to “Move Over” for law enforcement at an accident, or workers at a road construction site, is too severe. We’ll take a close look at that prior to bringing it back again next session. [click to continue…]

Dooring Bill Passes Senate; Bike Lane Maintenance Funding Clears Senate Committee

SB117 Sen. Petersen’s Dooring bill passed the Senate floor yesterday by 24 – 16 as Republicans Chase (Chesterfield), Cosgrove (Chesapeake), DeSteph (Virginia Beach), Reeves (Fredericksburg), and Suetterlein (Roanoke) voted along with the Democrats.

This vote, though encouraging, compares with a 28 -12 vote in 2014, where it later failed by a 4 -3 margin in House Trans Sub 2, and a 27 -12 vote last year, where we also failed 4-3 in House Trans Sub 2, so we have some work to do before this bill crosses over to the House. It certainly would be in order at this point to thank your Senator (if they are a Democrat, or one of the Republicans noted above) if they supported the bill. [click to continue…]