Well, campers, it’s that time of year again. LIke salmon returning to the rivers, legislators are returning to Olympia, with lots of new members for us to educate on motorcycle issues. It’s a good thing Black Thursday is coming up on the 17th.
What is Black Thursday?
Black Thursday is the day that has been set aside for riders from all over the state to come to Olympia to meet with their legislators and discuss the issues that matter to motorcyclists. ABATE of Washington has reserved the Columbia Room, first floor of the Legislative building, as a central meeting point. They will be there with talking point packets for each legislator, so drop on by there before you head to your appointments (that I know you are setting up, hint).
Right now there are several issues that are on the agenda.
Commute Trip Reduction:
Senator Rolfes has once again committed to championing our cause in getting motorcycles included in the Commute Trip Reduction Act by making preferential parking for motorcycles as one of the recommendations in the act, just as is done with car pools. The measure would also add language to the RCW to further strengthen our right to the HOV lanes.
Parking incentives will make motorcycle commuting more practical to users and infrastructure planners.
- Motorcycles exhibit a much smaller footprint in a commuting lane, and are more agile in operation, with the potential benefit of easing congestion by facilitating better traffic flow. In urban “stop and go” driving situations the space utilized by one full sized car can be filled with 2-3 motorcycles.
- Dedicated parking areas for motorcycles will add to the overall security of the motorcycles by grouping them together. (Safety in numbers)
- Has the possibility to free up real estate currently being expended on single bike per parking space. With properly arranged and laid out parking areas, up to three motorcycles can be stored in the space normally allotted to a single vehicle.
By moving motorcycles from the main stream of high density rolling slowdowns to the more freely moving HOV lanes, the motorcycle operator has less exposure to encroachment and/or collision.
- By being in a steadily flowing stream as opposed to a “stop and go” stream rear exposure to inattentive drivers is seriously lessened.
- By being to the far side of the multi lane roadway the possibility of encroachment from suddenly merging traffic is minimized. There becomes only one side to defend while proceeding through traffic, with the other side becoming an escape route.
The proposed language removes some of the vagueness from when motorcycles are allowed HOV lanes access.
Malfunctioning Traffic Signals:
- Although part of the traveling public, motorcyclists have been hindered in their movements by the failure of detection loops and optical sensors to recognize their presence at many traffic signals. The Washington State Legislature has been asked to address and remedy within the law when the signals fail to respond to motorcycles.
- Traffic intersections are second to left turn right-of-way violations in terms of vulnerability for motorcyclists. When lights do not sense a motorcycle, exposure to the possibility of a rear-end collision increases, especially in low traffic scenarios where a motorist is more likely to miss seeing a stranded motorcyclist. This presents a hazard to not only the motorcyclist but also to the surrounding traffic, as well as a potential liability to the municipality in charge of the signaling system.
- Currently there is no safe and legitimate method for getting clear of a signal that will not sense a motorcycle. If in the left turn lane, there is no provision for a vehicle to merge back into the flow of traffic and go straight. Even if it was legal, this maneuver is quite hazardous, with a rider unexpectedly merging from a dead stop into an unsuspecting traffic flow. For the rider in the though lane, the option of making a right on red, followed by a u-turn, is much more hazardous than simply waiting until traffic is clear and, exercising due caution, proceeding through the intersection as if the red light was a stop sign.
There are now 12 states that have enacted a law that provides immediate remedy to motorcyclist when they encounter a traffic signal that does not recognize the presence of a motorcycle. There is no data to show that crashes have increased as a result. To date, no state has tried to rescind it. It is a sound and reasonable solution to an existing problem.
If you don’t know yet who your representatives are, drop and give me 20, take 15 laps of the outfield, then hit this link. (Poke the button)
Ride safely and legislate well,
Government Relations and Junior Blogger