Each year, Washington lawmakers add to, remove, and alter the laws that affect all of us here in Washington. This year, there were two big changes made to Washington laws that will make our communities safer for all people on the roads; but especially to cyclists and pedestrians
The last day the legislature met this year was April 28, 2019, and they went down to the wire—ending quite literally at the stroke of midnight. The following law changes are worth noting here:
SB 5723 / HB 1966 – This new law significantly increases safety on roadways for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other roadway users. The law was designed to address the “number of collisions that have resulted in a high number of serious injuries and deaths of vulnerable roadway users” as a result of “certain types of traffic infractions.” It addressed the risk to vulnerable roadway users by: (1) introducing an additional fine as a penalty for drivers who commit these violations against a vulnerable roadway user; (2) modifying when a vulnerable roadway user may be passed by a motor vehicle; and (3) clarifying when and how pedestrians and bicyclists may use the roadway. It passed the House and the Senate and was sent to the Governor for signature on April 24—it is anticipated that it will be signed into law shortly.
SB 5710 / HB 1723 – Established an Active Transportation Safety Advisory Council for the state of Washington. The new law requires the council to review and analyze data and programs related to fatalities and serious injuries involving pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-motorists. This new law was passed by both the House and the Senate and was recently signed by the Governor.
Even with these new laws, our roads can still be dangerous places for cyclists and pedestrians. It is no doubt why the lawmakers chose to define these persons as “vulnerable roadway users” when discussing the above legislation. For that purpose, whether you commute using your shoes, or your pedals, or your gas pedal, please be careful and look out for others on the roadway.