As a follow-up to ABATE’s Black Thursday event this year, we have an update about Washington State legislation of interest to motorcycle enthusiasts. This is a short session, so timing was important.
First, let’s consider the law making it legal for motorcycles to park at an angle to the curb. It passed as HB 1058-2019-20 unanimously in the House, but time ran out before it could be addressed in the Senate, where it was numbered SB 5656-2019-20. Angle parking is safer for motorcycle, and, since more than one bike can occupy a parking space, it saves room. According to ABATE, that space is much needed in cities like Bellevue, where more curbside space is badly needed. Sponsors of the bill included legislators Irwin, Blake, Van Werven, Bergquist, Walsh, MacEwen, Shea, Jinkins, Wylie, and Goodman Barkis in the House and Fortunato, Hasegawa, Takko, Brown, Becker, Padden, Wilson, L., Schoesler., Short, Holy, Warnick, Sheldon, Honeyford, Saldana, Hobbs, Palumbo, and Randall in the Senate.
Lane sharing, which would allow motorcycles to move ahead between stopped lines of traffic, was offered as SB 5254-2019-20, but did not more forward this year. Lane sharing would be safer for motorcyclists because it would reduce chances of rear-end collisions, lower rider fatigue, and help prevent overheating. It would help relieve congestion because cars could move up into the spaces vacated by the motorcycles. This bill was reintroduced and retained in its present status in the Rules Committee, which is a good thing.
A third ABATE goal is to allow riders to decide what safety gear they need. This is addressed in the House by HB 1125-2019-20 sponsored by Blake, Griffey, Walsh, and Young and in the Senate by SB 5007-2019-20 sponsored by Rolfes, Sheldon, Braun, Brown, Fortunato, Kuderer, Oban, Short, Takko, Wagoner, and Warnick. The bills mandate liability and health insurance (the same as for an automobile) for anyone who rides without a helmet. It also creates a five-year pilot program to track and study the statistics around head injuries.
As of this writing, none of these bills have passed both House and Senate. You can use the Washington State Legislature’s website to track the progress of bills and also to find contact information for legislators. If your local legislators don’t sponsor or vote for bills you approve of, do contact them. It would also be helpful to give a quick thank-you to legislators how sponsor bills you like, whether or not you’re in their district. You can also find information on the ABATE of Washington website under the Legislative tab.