Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tour de Frankfort, Stage 1 results

When in Frankfort with friends last week to lobby for House Bill 88, I realized that our legislative advocacy effort had much in common with a stage race. Many months of preparation took place before we made our first appointment to visit a legislator, just as a racer puts in months of training before entering a race. The effort to pass this bill will unfold over several weeks; each day's results contribute to the overall cause, but a single day's success or failure usually does not dictate the outcome. If we do not win this year, "there is always next year" as in racing. Those of you who follow bicycle racing might think of this post in the same light as blogs kept by racers between stages of stage races. I'll keep it short in order to get back to work on the campaign.

HB 88 defines a new criminal violation, "vehicular assault of a bicyclist or pedestrian," as a vehicle operator hitting a bicyclist or pedestrian while driving recklessly. It authorizes law enforcement officers to issue a citation or make an arrest for this violation on the basis of probable cause (in other words, good reason to believe that the violation has been committed). Current law prohibits officers from issuing citations or making arrests for non-felony traffic infractions unless they witness the infraction, except in cases of DUI. For this reason, police rarely file charges when bicyclists are hit, regardless of the severity of injury suffered by the cyclist. HB 88 would change that.

We visited several members of the House Judiciary Committee, which must report favorably on HB 88 in order for it to progress to the full House of Representatives. Three legislators decided to cosponsor the bill, and three others said they would consider supporting it, perhaps with some modification. It was clear to us that face-to-face conversations with the legislators helped us make the case for the bill and build support for it. We learned quite a bit by listening to them, too. I would say that we had a very good day for Stage 1.

Stage 2 takes place on Friday, when we return to Frankfort to meet Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. John Tilley (D-Hopkinsville) in hopes of winning swift committee action on the bill. The legislative session lasts only three more weeks, with the committee meeting probably three more times. We have a small window of time in which to get the committee to act on HB 88. For now, our full effort must go toward winning the support of Rep. Tilley and Judiciary Committee members. If that goes well, we will return to Frankfort to lobby the entire membership of the House. If our work with the Judiciary Committee does not bear fruit, our race is over... for this year.


jimmy said...

thanks for all your footwork barry. very interested to see how this one turns out... how's Brent Yonts voting?

Freedom Bikes said...

I think things like this are important but I'm not sure its THAT important.

I doubt that a motorist or two being convicted is going to make the other idiot drivers be more careful.

I would rather see a *real* DUI law put on the books with mandatory jail time and a permanent loss of license for the first offense. That would save more bicyclists and motorist than this law.

I have to laugh because here in Missouri we just passed this "tough" new law in response to several construction workers being killed. We are so proud of this "tough" law that we have huge signs up all along every highway.

It says,



I am stunned that you can kill someone and that is your punishment. Imagine if you could shoot someone and it only cost you 10k and you lose your gun rights for a year. Outrageous. How about you kill a construction worker....or anyone else for that matter with your car and you spend 40 years in jail??

Driving should be something that nobody is comfortable doing.....ever.

Ricky Irvine said...

I signed the sheet today at the Bike Summit. Anything else I can do to help?

jimmy said...

Not that I ever did, but there is just no way I can even begin to take your comments seriously. Implying that holding individuals accountable for their actions will not help is absolutely absurd. As I've mentioned before, it has already been proven that in European cities that held motorists accountable when colliding with pedestrians and bicyclists incidents dropped dramatically.

Add to that your off the wall DUI ideas and you're obviously out in left field... hell, you're not even in the park. Of the three bicycle fatalities in Louisville last year, zero involved alcohol.

Any of this being any sort of laughing matter is sickening. Do Louisville a favor and keep your ideas and comments in Missouri.