Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thoughts from the hearing today as well as a spirited debate with one of its skeptics

Well today was a long day waiting for the House Transportation Committee to discuss the Safe Passing Bill. I got to the Capitol at 7:30AM and waited around while the Committee discussed other bills, adjourned to go to the Floor, and then lunch. Finally at around 12:30, they discussed Safe Passing. Rep Harper-Brown briefly discussed its merits commenting that it essentially codifies standards already in our Driver's Handbook but that it provides penalties for violations of those standards. Then four witnesses testified to include two witnesses testifying on behalf of Tow Operators who are also protected by the proposed bill, a cyclist, and the Executive Director of Bike Texas, Robin Stallings. The cyclist shared his experiences as well as his grief about a friend who was struck and killed while riding his bicycle. Finally, Robin Stallings from BikeTexas presented more information regarding the high number of fatalities each year broken down by vulnerable road user (pedestrians, cyclists, farm workers, highway workers, tow operators) and fielded several questions from the members. I wish I would have written down all the stats so that I could post them here. The numbers were staggering. I'll try to get the information and post it. I was caught up in the moment and observing each of the Committee members reactions and questions.

Apparently, this bill is sparking some spirited comments from skeptics. Check out the comments and my spirited responses here. I'm happy to answer what questions I can and if I don't know the answers, I'll put you in touch with someone who hopefully does! All comments appreciated.