senator

Guilty verdict in Kalamazoo’s deadly crash gratifies local cyclists

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (BRAIN) — Bike riders do things a bit differently now in this city of 75,000, where a driver plowed his truck into a group road ride nearly two years ago, killing five cyclists and injuring four others.

Take Action! Support Safe Streets Legislation

From livable streets:

Next Wednesday, February 7th is the deadline for legislative committees to act on bills, and An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities remains in front of the Joint Committee on Transportation.

Will you help us make Massachusetts streets safer for all? The Committee needs to hear from you!

LivableStreets and the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition have been working closely with Senator Brownsberger and Representatives Hecht and Rogers to develop a comprehensive traffic safety bill that will prevent crashes and protect vulnerable road users. Act now and help us enact these street safety measures into law!

It’s easy, just follow these three simple steps:

1. Find out if your legislators are co-sponsors of the bill.

2. Send an email to the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Transportation and your state legislators (see template email provided below). Emails should be sent to the committee chairs, copying your Representative and Senator, by Thursday, February 1st.

3. Make sure to copy info@visionzerocoalition.org on your email.

About the Bill
An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities (S1905/H2877) will ensure basic, but necessary traffic regulations to guarantee that everyone on our streets can expect to get from point A to point B safely. The bill’s provisions that the Vision Zero Coalition believes will make the biggest difference to the safety of people walking and biking are:

  • Lowering default speed limit on state highways and parkways in thickly settled areas from 30 mph to 25 mph
  • Allowing municipalities to install limited traffic safety cameras exclusively for speeding and red light & right turn violations
  • Equipping state contracted trucks with safety side-guards to reduce pedestrian & bicyclist fatalities
  • Prohibits usage of mobile devices, except those in hands-free mode, while operating a motor vehicle
  • Vulnerable road user language

What’s Next?
If the bill is reported favorably by this committee, it will be sent on to the House or Senate Ways and Means Committee. If it is reported unfavorable or “studied,” it would essentially be dead for the remainder of this legislative session.


EMAIL INSTRUCTIONS AND SAMPLE TEXT

To: Joseph.Boncore@masenate.gov, William.Straus@mahouse.gov

CC: Your State Senator and Representative (if you don’t know who they are, click here); info@visionzerocoalition.org

Recommended email subject: Support of An Act to reduce traffic fatalities S1905/H2877

Sample email text:

Dear Senator Boncore, Representative Straus, and members of the Joint Committee on Transportation,

I am writing to urge a favorable report for An Act to reduce traffic fatalities, (S1905 – Brownsberger, H2877 – Hecht and Rogers).

Serious injury and deaths from traffic crashes continue with troubling frequency on our streets. An Act to reduce traffic fatalities S1905/H2877 is a comprehensive piece of legislation which aims to create safer streets for all users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, and passengers of motor vehicles.

Tell your own story here. Why is this bill important to you?

Thanks again for your consideration, and I urge a favorable report for this bill.

full name
street address
city/town, state, zip
phone:
email:

Utah’s senators introduce bill that would make it easier to mountain bike in Wilderness Areas

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Utah’s Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch are supporting a bill that would allow local land managers to decide whether to allow and how to manage mountain biking in federally designated wilderness areas, something that some mountain bikers have been advocating.  The Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act, introduced by Lee, also would allow the use of chainsaws and wheelbarrows for trail maintenance and construction in wilderness areas.  “Our National Wilderness Preservation System was created so that the American people could enjoy the solitude and recreational opportunities of this continent’s priceless natural areas,” said Lee

Action Alert: Call Today To Support Vulnerable Road Users Bill

from Massbike.  This law is more important than ever, please do call today.

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Today, advocates from across the Commonwealth are going to be descending on the State House for the Bike/Walk Summit, MassBike’s central event for Bay State Bike Week and co-hosted by WalkBoston. But for those of you who live too far from Boston, or whose schedules don’t allow attending the event, we still want your voices heard. We are asking that you call your Representative and Senator today to ask them to support safer biking and walking in your community and across the state.

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TODAY, we need you to call in to ask your Representative and Senator to do two things:

  • Ask them to support three bills (click here for bill summaries):
    • Vulnerable Road Users Bill (H. 3079): This bill provides law enforcement with more flexible tools to encourage motorists to exercise caution when operating around vulnerable road users, including increased fines, traffic safety classes, and community service.
    • Senior Safety Zones (H. 1968): This bill gives municipalities the ability to create zones similar to school zones in areas they deem appropriate, with the intention of protecting a population which disproportionately relies on walking for transportation.
    • Speed Limits Bill (H. 1808): This bill would lower the default speed limit on roads classified as “Local”, from 30 mph to 25 mph. Major arterials, highways, and other main roads would be unaffected, and many states have already adopted similar laws.
  • Ask them to sign on to our shared vision for Massachusetts Walking and Bicycling Principles.

After you contact your legislator, let us know! Email advocacy@massbike.org to let us know how the conversation went. If you don’t know who your legislator is, you can find out here.



Federal Transportation Crisis Continues

Things are not looking good, from MassBike.

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Things have gone from bad to worse. On the House side, there has been an all-out assault not only on bike funding, but also transit, environmental review, and basically anything other than highways and bridges. The House Bill (H.R. 7) is one of the most extreme examples of slash and burn politics, described as “uniquely terrible,” (NY Times) “disastrous,” (Rep. Nadler) and “The worst transportation bill I’ve ever seen.” (Sec. LaHood) Because the Petri Amendment failed, the consensus among a wide variety of groups is that the best hope for biking and walking is to kill the House Bill entirely and start over. Transportation for America, a national transportation advocacy group, notes,

“More than 75 national organizations signed the letter of opposition to H.R. 7 – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AARP, the American Public Transportation Association, the National Rural Assembly, American Society of Civil Engineers, LOCUS (real estate developers), National Association of Counties- and a huge list of other individuals and state & local groups, including the governors of Oregon and Washington, several state DOTs, state and local Chambers of Commerce, and hundreds of state and local organizations nationwide.”

You may be seeing Action Alerts from national organizations asking you to contact your Representatives to ask them to vote against the bill. Here in Massachusetts, MassBike and our T4MA partners are contacting all our Representatives, who we expect will all strongly oppose the bill.

 

With an incredibly diverse array of groups (including the Tea Party!) aligned in opposition to the House Bill, MassBike and our partners are concentrating on what’s happening in the Senate. You may remember our post several weeks ago about MAP-21, the senate’s version of the transportation bill. Amendments are still possible in the Senate Bill, including one expected to be filed by Senator Cardin. There may be new amendments by tomorrow or Monday, and we want to have everything on the table before you spend time getting in touch with Senators Brown and Kerry.

 

We are working hard with our organizational partners to make sure that the votes are there to kill the House Bill and to improve the Senate Bill. (In fact, Executive Director David Watson is at a Rails to Trails Conservancy meeting in Philadelphia right now to coordinate the national campaign.) Because the Massachusetts delegation has consistently supported biking in this process so far, and we are contacting them on your behalf, we aren’t asking you to engage your Representative now. And the situation in the Senate is still very fluid, so we want to be sure that the time is right before we call on you to contact our Senators.

 

We are expecting to issue an Action Alert by Monday as things become more clear in the Senate, so stay tuned! When we do send out the Alert, we will need you to take action immediately.

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Federal Funding Preserved for Bikes

WASHINGTON, DC (BRAIN)—A proposal to re-allocate money from the federal Transportation Enhancements program to fund bridge repairs was defeated in the Senate with a vote of 60-38 yesterday.

Federal Funding For Bicycles Under Attack (Again!)

Its so depressing that our elected leaders are so entirely clueless when it comes to priorities.

from MassBike:

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Just one month ago, the bicycling community stood together and defeated Senator Coburn’s (R-OK) effort to strip funding for Transportation Enhancements (a major source of funding for biking and walking projects) from the six-month extension that was passed at the last minute to prevent the shutdown of all federally-funded transportation programs.

Now, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is taking the lead in trying to destroy Transportation Enhancements. On November 1, the Senate will finalize the transportation appropriations bill, which sets funding levels for FY2012. Sen. Paul has offered an amendment to redirect all funding for Transportation Enhancements to bridge repair.

We must turn back any amendment to strip Transportation Enhancements. Here is how you can help:

1. Call and/or email Senator Kerry and Senator Brown to ask them to vote against the Paul amendment (SA-821) to eliminate Transportation Enhancements.

Senator John Kerry: (202) 224-2742, Email (select “Transportation” as Topic)
Senator Scott Brown: (202) 224-4543, Email (select “Transportation” as Topic)

Key Talking Points:

Attacks on Transportation Enhancements are a political stunt, not a solution to our transportation problems
Shifting every dollar of Transportation Enhancements to bridge repair would be ineffective – it would still take 80 years to repair all the bridges
And doing so would eliminate popular and effective programs right now that are saving thousands of bicyclist and pedestrian lives, combating obesity, protecting our environment, and creating economic opportunities
States returned $530 million in unspent bridge repair funds back to Washington last year – that money should be used before cutting other programs
Funding for biking and walking should be part of the overall debate of long-term transportation funding starting November 9

Don’t have time to write your own email? Click here to send a pre-written email message to both Senators.
2. Email action@massbike.org and let us know you contacted them!

Every single call or email matters, so please act today! Read below for even more detail.

We agree on the need to keep our bridges safe, but the lives of pedestrians and cyclists are important too. Thirteen people died when the Minneapolis bridge collapsed in 2007. Since then, close to 20,000 pedestrians and 2,800 cyclists have died on our nation’s highways, largely as a result of poor highway design and a lack of safe non-motorized infrastructure – exactly what the Enhancements program was created to fix.

If Sen. Paul’s amendment is successful, it would eliminate approximately $700 million in federal funding for FY2012 that is used to construct sidewalks, bike lanes, bike paths, trails and other infrastructure that makes it safe for bicyclists and pedestrians to get around. Even if every penny of these funds is diverted to bridge repairs, Senator Paul’s plan will still take 80 years to fix the backlog of bridge repairs we have today.

Even though TE represents less than 2% of federal transportation funding, it has built about $100 million in projects in Massachusetts since 1992, and the Safe Routes to School program has provided millions more to help thousands of MA children bike or walk to school. These programs help alleviate traffic congestion, improve safety, get people active, and and create more jobs per dollar than highway-only projects. We cannot allow Transportation Enhancements to fall victim to partisan political grandstanding. If we cannot save Transportation Enhancements, then Safe Routes to School, the Recreational Trails Program, and other vital sources of funding for biking and walking will not be far behind.

Last year, states sent back to Washington $530 million of unspent bridge funds in rescissions. The states are leaving bridge repair funds on the table, unspent, year after year. They should at least spend these funds first.

If the Paul amendment succeeds, it will make it much more challenging to sustain funding for Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails in the long-term transportation bill that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee starts debating on November 9.