Yesterday, March 31, Bike Walk NC board members Steve Goodridge, Ed Harrison, and Executive Director Lisa Riegel along with Bike Law attorney Ann Groninger were at the legislature to give testimony on House Bill 232 entitled, “An Act to direct the Department of Transportation to study the bicycle safety laws in this State and make recommendations as to how the laws may be revised to better ensure the safety of bicyclists and motorists on the roadways.”
In short, HB232 was amended to address some of our concerns, passed the Transportation Committee and was heard a few hours later by the full House in session and after questions, it passed unanimously and is being sent to the Senate for consideration. For more details on the legislative interaction, read Bike Law’s blog.
Steve spoke on the bill with prepared comments during the debate in the House Transportation Committee meeting to convince legislators that bicyclists and particularly BikeWalk NC would be a beneficial addition to the study committee. His comments were not to debate the issues of the study. The bill was amended to address some of our concerns –
- Clarified who appoints working group – 8 by DOT, then the working group elects chair and selects remaining 3 for total of 12.
- Added language specifying representation of different operator and geographical perspectives; by operator we assume this refers to our request for recreational vs commuter cyclists and urban vs rural, etc. So this could loosely be interpreted to have operators (cyclists) on the working group.
Sadly, we could not get them to amend to include a cyclist specifically such as an LCI and/or cycling advocate. However the discussion during the bill introduction and debate was very positive and discussion indicated desire to appoint cyclists.
The group spoke again with Representative Jeter afterwards. He said he appreciated Steve’s comments on the bill and told them he plans to send DOT a letter requesting that the working group include a representative from us (cycling safety experts/advocates)
The Legislature plans to take next week off so they are rushing to hear bills. HB 232 was NOT on the calendar for House session but was heard that very afternoon. Representative Queen spoke about the importance of cycling (tourism) in his mountain community. In general people seemed very supportive of cycling and the need to make it safer. The bill passed second and third reading unanimously and will now be sent to the Senate. The Senate will introduce the bill soon and likely assign it to their Transportation Committee.
We look forward to working with NCDOT on identifying committee members. We will likely have more important bills to work on once this study is complete. We need to build relationships and build better understanding about the benefits of cycling and walking to communities (especially economically).