Bicyclists Pack Hearing Room to Compel Lawmakers to Make Roadways Safer
BOSTON, Mass. -(January 7, 2016) - Emotional testimony filled the State House hearing room as the Joint Committee on Transportation yesterday heard legislators, advocates, law enforcement officers, doctors, lawyers and those who have been impacted by injury or loss of a loved one testify in favor of critical bills to protect cyclists and pedestrians. The standing-room only crowd spoke in favor of several bills, with a focus on four that consist of the vulnerable users bill, bike lane protection bill, truck-side guard bill, and a bike path crosswalk bill.
Rep. William Straus, co-chair of the committee, opened the event by announcing that after the completion of testimony from lawmakers and government officials, the testimony for bicycle and pedestrian bills would be moved up in the hearing schedule due to the number people there to speak.
MassBike’s team was onsite to speak on behalf of the two bills they filed for vulnerable users and bike lane protection. “We can potentially prevent these incidents from happening rather than dealing with the after-effects of tragedy,” said Barbara Jacobson, programs director for MassBike.
“Maybe the people listening could hear what happened and hopefully choose to make those changes that would save someone else's life,” said a tearful Brianna Arnold, a political science major at Stonehill College, who lost her uncle just last week when he was killed riding his bicycle in Worcester.
This hearing was a big step towards making these bills state law in Massachusetts but the process will continue during the spring before receiving a full vote of the House and Senate.
“For bike advocates this was the most important chance to speak. We had a broad range of support and emotional testimony. And our bills had zero opposition,” said Richard Fries, executive director of MassBike. “We will need this type of political momentum as these bills move to the Ways and Means Committee and then to the full votes of both houses.”
MassBike will follow the Transportation Committee to provide updates as to whether they report favorably on each bill.
“We expect a favorable report at the phase,” said Fries. “But when we go to the full vote is when we will need our membership to engage with each of their lawmakers. This could be historic for bicycling in the Bay State.”
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