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Legislature considering a “Pedestrian Fatality and Injury Advisory Council” to improve safety

Feet First, which advocates for pedestrian safety, has alerted FNC to a bill now moving in the State Legislature:

Pedestrian Safety Bill Approved Nearly-Unanimously in State Senate

Olympia- The State Senate has voted to move forward a bill which would make it safer for people walking. The proposed law, which passed with a 48 to 1 vote on Monday, would create a Pedestrian Fatality and Injury Advisory Council to prevent deaths and serious injuries of people walking. The House Transportation Committee had already approved a similar bill on February 27, and is expected to vote on the Senate version of the bill later this week.

Legislative leaders from both political parties have been working with Feet First, Washington State Transportation Safety Commission, and the Association of Washington Cities to create bipartisan legislation addressing safer places for people to walk. The proposed law (SB 5957) would create a Pedestrian Fatality and Injury Advisory Council to examine deaths and serious injuries, identify patterns, and recommend measures to prevent future tragedies. This council would provide expert analysis, create transparency, and provide a much needed voice in state government for people who walk. The advisory council would include experts in law enforcement, transportation, public health, and pedestrian safety.

Many of our state’s roads are dangerous for people on foot. According to the Washington State Transportation Safety Commission (WTSC), in 2014 there were 67 fatalities and 283 serious injuries from vehicles hitting people walking in Washington. According to Transportation for America, between 2010 and 2012, there were 202 fatalities and 917 serious injuries to people who were hit by vehicles while walking in Washington.

Lisa Quinn, Executive Director of Feet First, testified before the Senate Transportation Committee: “These are life changing tragedies for the family, friends, and community. This statistic is horrendous, however what is even more scary is the fact that we do not even know the true extent of this crisis because our state does not have a system in place to accurately track and analyze data on pedestrian injuries and deaths. What we do know is that many of these tragedies could have been prevented, but without diving deeper to fully understand the problem or advocating for pedestrian safety, this crisis is likely to get worse.”

The pedestrian safety bill was approved by both the House and Senate Transportation Committees with bipartisan support on February 27. On March 4, both the House and Senate Rules Committees passed the bill onto the floor of each house for a second reading. On March 9, the Senate voted 48 to 1 to approve the bill. The House is now expected to vote on this bill by the end of the week.

Since 2001, Feet First has worked to ensure that all communities in Washington are walkable. Walking is a vital transportation mode that connects communities, reduces pollution, improves health and physical fitness, and allows people to explore their natural environment.

Find information on the bills and their progress here and here.  Representative Brady Walkinshaw whose district includes Fremont, and Representative Gael Tarleton whose district borders Fremont have both signed on as cosponsors of the bill in the House.  More about Feet First here.

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