As supporters of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia know, a bill was recently introduced in Harrisburg to amend the motor vehicle code to allow for “car-parked” protected bike lanes and protected pedestrian plazas in Pennsylvania. And Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Sarah Clark Stuart was in Harrisburg on Tuesday, advocating for this bill to advance in the House and be introduced in the State Senate.
According to the motor vehicle code, motor vehicles need to be parked within 12 inches of a curb. This small detail in the code, combined with PennDOT’s ownership of a large number of road miles throughout the state, is stymying the installation of car parked-protected bike lanes.
Because this is a state level issue, state legislators have to fix it. And that’s what we’ve been working with them on. We recently worked with State Rep. Dave Maloney, a Republican of Berks County, to introduce House Bill 792, which fixes this detail of the Pennsylvania motor vehicle code. His bill is supported by several Philadelphia-area representatives, including Mary Jo Daley (D-148), Ed Neilson (D-174) and Jared Solomon (D-202) — along with representatives from others from other parts of the Commonwealth: Brett Miller (R-41), Mark Longietti (D-7) and Carol Hill-Evans (D-95) who are all initial co-sponsors.
That’s good. But additionally, the companion Senate bill needs to be introduced and passed as well. Both the Senate and the House must pass the same bill in order to bring this legislation to the governor’s desk. State Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Phila) told an audience at a Vision Zero Alliance Legislative Breakfast that he planned on re-introducing a bill he worked on last legislative session that would be the Senate version of this legislation.
On Tuesday, Sarah met with several other senators to ask for their support as co-sponsors of the senate legislation that Senator Farnese is working on. The legislation will need widespread support from both parties in the state Senate to move the bill forward. Sarah also met with four House members and members of PennDOT to discuss this, and other, issues.
Last legislative session, a House bill passed – unanimously – but the senate version did not come up for a vote. We need to make sure the House and Senate bills both get passed this year.
Toward that end, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia and the Vision Zero Alliance are hosting a Lobby Day in Harrisburg on April 30 to advocate for this, and three other pieces of important legislation, including a ‘Vulnerable User’ protections bill, which would put higher fines and penalties on motorists who kill pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vulnerable road users around the state.
Our past Harrisburg Lobby Days have had high returns. In 2017, we worked with Channabel Morris to pass an extension of the red light camera bill in Pennsylvania, and, last year, the Vision Zero Alliance and Latanya Byrd made several trips to Harrisburg and successfully advocates for automated speed enforcement for Roosevelt Boulevard.
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