We've got updates on our work at the State House. It's been a busy season on Beacon Hill!
With ever-growing traffic clogging our never-expanding roads and the climate crisis becoming more real every day, we are at a defining moment in transportation funding and policy at the State House. We need you to join our efforts to make a difference!
This coming Tuesday morning, February 25th we are rallying at the State House for FixOurTransportationCrisis: Call to Action.
Join MassBike, along with Transportation for Massachusetts and advocates from around the state to support urgent transportation legislation. Starting at 10a, we will have a short speaking program, then invite participants to meet with legislators and staff. Click to RSVP!
We need bold legislative action now to make transportation all across Massachusetts accessible, affordable, reliable, and safe.
E-Bikes Bill Extended Until Early March
As the current legislative session hits the sprint to the line, the Joint Committee on Transportation is taking up a lot of challenging legislation, including the Transportation Bond Bill, Licensing Undocumented Immigrants, RMV reform and more. So it's no surprise a bill that would clarify electric bicycles is a bit low on the priorities list... However, due to our steadfast advocacy and your outreach to legislators and the committee chairs, the bill is alive and still being discussed -- and our deadline has been extended until March 4th to decide whether electric bicycles will be considered their own devices, separate from "motorized bicycles" like mopeds.
We know it's a tricky issue to determine where low-speed electric bicycles should be allowed? But in order to figure that out, we first need to define what these bikes are, which takes re-writing state law to separate electric bikes from mopeds.
There's still time to contact the offices of the Chairmen and ask them to favorably report H.3014 and S.2071. Please take a minute to let them know this is important to you.
Information on the bills can be found on our website: www.massbike.org/ebikes
CPA Funding for Rail Trails is Moving Along
Thank you for your letters and phone calls that came in from across the state in support of H.1790 and S.83, An Act authorizing municipalities to expend certain funds for the acquisition of land to be used for rail trails.
The bill has made it out of the Municipalities and Regional Government and is currently awaiting a second reading before moving ahead.
This bill will allow municipalities to expend monies from their Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds for the purpose of acquiring land held for railroad purposes to be used by the city or town for recreational purposes as a rail trail. It's an esoteric issue, and some communities are facing roadblocks since the nuances of CPA funding can be a grey area for leased land (most railroad rights-of-way are long-term leases, not sold outright). You can read more about the bill here.
This is important right now in Southampton to connect the Manhan Rail Trail and the Columbia Greenway, and in Sudbury to extend the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. And, going forward, this will help cities and towns get the funding necessary to build out our trail network across the state.
We're keeping an eye to make sure this bill stays active, and you can help by sending a note to your local representatives thanking them for their work, and asking them to help move along H.1790 and S.83.
Still Waiting... 3-ft Passing Distance and Truck Side Guards
Even though our bill unanimously passed the Senate last session, we're still working to get An Act to reduce traffic fatalities onto the floor of the House for a vote. Focusing on preventing crashes, this bill will define "safe passing" distance of 3+ feet for vehicles traveling 30 mph or more, require trucks that are owned or leased by the State to have side guards to prevent people from getting rolled under the wheels, standardize police reporting for crashes involving people on bikes and on foot, and more.
We are hopeful AATRTF will move before the end of this session, but your voice will help! Please take a minute to call the sponsoring legislators, Rep. Moran and Rep. Straus, to thank them for their focus on this crucially important issue, and ask them to please keep this bill moving!
Representative Michael Moran: (617) 722-2014
Representative Bill Straus: (617) 722-2400
For more information about this bill, check out our Vision Zero Coalition partner website, here.
Hand-Free Law Goes Into Effect Starting Feb 23
A major legislative win this session will be enacted this week, when Hands-Free Cell Phone Use While Driving goes into effect on Sunday. Massachusetts law now prohibits operators of motor vehicles from using any electronic device, including mobile telephones, unless the device is used in hands-free mode.
This is a big deal! We see every day how distracted driving is one of the most flagrant dangers out on the roads, and this is a necessary step toward changing behavior. Our work now is to spread the message to all drivers (and passengers) to put down the phone and focus on the roads!
Thanks goes to the tireless work of the Vision Zero Coalition, Safe Roads Alliance, our legislative partners, and the Governor and his team for getting this bill into law!
For more information about the law, please see this site for details and handouts you can print out to help spread the word.
Join MassBike at the National Bike Summit! March 15-17
There are many facets to the gem of bicycle advocacy, but do you particularly dig this policy and legislative work? Well, come with us to the center of the storm! We'd love for you to join MassBike in Washington D.C. for the National Bike Summit, a packed three days of workshops and lobbying with our friends at League of American Bicyclists and advocates from all 50 states.
Come learn best practices from advocacy organizations and riding clubs from around the country, network with advocates facing similar issues, and spend Lobby Day wearing out the soles of your shoes beating the halls of Congress speaking truth to power about the challenges and benefits for bicycle riding in Massachusetts.
The Summit takes place March 15-17. For full info follow the link here: https://www.bikeleague.org/summit
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