Monday, October 12, 2009

Help pass a Vulnerable User law in Washington!

Cascade Bicycle Club Traffic Justice Summit – Wednesday, October 14 2009, Seattle City Hall

In 2007, the Oregon State Legislature passed the “Vulnerable User” law. In a nutshell, what this law does is to strengthen the penalties against motor vehicle operators found to be at fault in accidents involving “vulnerable users” (pedestrians and cyclists). As we all know, in accidents involving these parties, physics dictates that the motor vehicle will win, and the penalty is high to the loser. Legal codes in Oregon were, as they currently are in many other states, similarly slanted to the favor of the motor vehicle operator. The Vulnerable User law changed that in Oregon by assessing criminal penalties to the at-fault driver when an accident results in severe injury or the death of a vulnerable roadway user (pedestrian or cyclist).

Last legislative session, Cascade Bicycle Club, the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and others tried to bring similar change, legal parity and justice to Washington with Senate Bill 5838. The bill never made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In legislative lingo, it “died in committee.” Fortunately, since our legislature is a biennial legislature, any bill that dies in the first year of the legislature, isn’t really dead. When the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate convene the 2010 legislative session, the bill will be revived.

Now is the time to begin planning and working to get Senate Bill 5838 passed and into law.

What you can do:
· Attend the Traffic Justice Summit on Wednesday, October 14 at Seattle City Hall. If you are unable to attend, I’m told that the summit will be aired on the Seattle Channel and available online.
· Know your legislative delegation
· Know who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee
· Call and write your legislative delegation as well as members of the Judiciary committees and encourage them to support this bill. The Legislative hotline can be reached at: 1-800-562-6000.