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League drums up support for bike safety bill

Published November 26, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC (BRAIN) — The League of American Bicyclists has issued a call to its members, asking them to rally congress to co-sponsor recently introduced legislation aimed at reducing cyclist and pedestrian fatalities. 

The bill, HR 3493/S1708, or the Bicycle Safety and Pedestrian Act, was introduced in both the House and Senate and referred to committees on transportation Nov. 14. 

According to Caron Whitaker, vice president of government relations for the League, the bill amends existing transportation law. It requires that the Department of Transportation set performance measures, including safety goals, to reduce fatalities of non-motorized transportation—or cyclists and pedestrians. 

Last year, Congress mandated that the DOT and Federal Highway Administration set safety performance measures for motorized transportation, she said. 

Whitaker said that while the general trend line in transportation shows that overall road fatalities are on a downward slide, deaths involving bikes and pedestrians are going up both as a percentage of total fatalities and in total numbers. In the email the League sent Friday, Whitaker cited figures from the National Highway Safety Administration. Biking and walking fatalities represent 16.3 percent of all traffic deaths, with a total of 5,469 people killed, the email said. 

NHTSA’s latest report showed that the number of cyclists killed while riding in traffic jumped 6.5 percent in 2012. NHTSA said 726 cyclists died in 2012 compared with 682 in 2011. 

“We just need to focus on these deaths because safety solutions currently available aren’t working for us,” Whitaker said. “They’re not working for motorcyclists, either.” 

The bill is sponsored by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas.) in the House. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced the companion bill in the Senate.  

"It’s essentially a seven-word bill saying the U.S. should have a goal of reducing bicycling and walking deaths on our roads,” Whitaker said. “It’s that simple.”



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