Our policy team returned to Washington D.C. for the annual National Bike Summit hosted by The League of American Bicyclists. This year featured in-person workshops, mobile discussion groups and opportunities to ride and network with like-minded advocates. This three day summit concludes with the most important opportunity which involves taking part in lobby day to meet with our Members of Congress. This year we made the case for safer streets and more accessible transportation through biking and walking advocacy in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Whether you attended the National Bike Summit in-person or you joined us virtually for the programming and/or lobby day, we’d like to send a thank you to all who participated and advocated for a better, safer, more accessible future for bicycling in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Constituents throughout the region met with their Members of Congress to advocate for HR 1685, The E-BIKE Act; HR 1668, Sarah Debbink Langenkamp Active Transportation Safety Act; and asked that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) include vulnerable road users when completing the truck side guard research required in section 23011 of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Here’s more information on what we covered:
HR 1685, The E-BIKE Act
What it is: The Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act creates a tax rebate for people buying electric bikes similar to the tax incentive for buying an electric car. Because electric bikes include a motor, it makes it easier for riders to take longer trips more often, and to carry more cargo. An electric bicycle, or e-bike, is a standard bicycle equipped with an electric motor, a battery, and a bicycle drivetrain. Depending on the design, e-bikes may be operated through pedaling or with the engagement of a throttle. That means electric bike trips are often used to replace car trips, helping to reduce emissions and congestion while expanding affordable transportation options. A recent pilot program in Denver exemplifies the benefits of offering rebates on e-bikes. In 2022, individuals redeemed 4,734 e-bike rebates. After surveying e-bike voucher users, the city found that 71% of survey respondents were using their gas-powered car less often and the e-bikes were replacing over 100,000 vehicle miles on average every week.
Why it matters:
- Replacing a small amount of car trips with bikes and e-bikes could have a significant impact on congestion. A 2008 Texas Transportation Institute study showed a 3% drop in vehicle miles traveled resulted in a 30% drop in congestion. Across the country, almost 50% of trips are three miles or shorter.
- A 2018 study by Portland State University showed that 46% percent of e-bike commute trips replaced automobile commute trips and 30% of car trips for errands.
- Making e-bikes affordable for delivery workers, which involves short trips with regular parking and/or standing, could make a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. A recent study published in Transport Research found that if 15% of urban trips were made by e-bikes, it would reduce GHG emissions by 12%.
- Switching to e-bikes does not compromise the health benefits of bicycling. People riding e-bikes get roughly the same amount of physical activity as other cyclists because they often bike for longer amounts of time.
HR 1668, Sarah Debbink Langenkamp Active Transportation Safety Act
What it is: Sarah Debbink Langenkamp was a U.S. diplomat and mother of two boys who had been evacuated from Ukraine in the summer of 2022 only to be killed weeks later while riding her bike home on a road in Bethesda, Maryland. Her death, following her evacuation from a war zone, occurring so near the nation’s capital, has highlighted the worsening trend of traffic violence in the United States and sparked calls for change. This bill is named after Sarah in the hope that remembrance of her life, service, and tragic death will prevent further unnecessary fatalities on our streets.
This bill highlights the need to fill gaps in biking and walking networks and makes it easier for states and local governments to use Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) dollars as a “local match” to build safe bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure. through HSIP and the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).
The Transportation Alternatives Program was created in 2012 to give local governments access to a small percentage of federal transportation funds for local priorities. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) included a new policy meant to give state DOTs the opportunity to use safety funds as local matches for TAP projects that address local safety concerns. However, the IIJA language requires the state to identify every specific project that would be eligible. The Sarah Dennick Langenkamp Act would clarify language to make it easier for the state to take advantage of this flexibility by allowing the state to match local government identified projects while also ensuring the funds are used only on safety-oriented projects.
Why it matters: Bicyclists and pedestrians account for 12% of transportation trips but 20% of fatalities. In 2021, overall traffic fatalities decreased slightly, while bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities increased by 10% and 2%, respectively.
Tell NHTSA: Truck Side Guards Can Dramatically Reduce Bicyclists Fatalities
The issue: Though large trucks represent only 4% of the vehicles on the road, crashes involving large trucks and bicyclists result in 11% of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities. The Volpe Transportation Systems Center, a U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) research center that has conducted significant research on large truck and vulnerable road user crashes found that side-impact crashes cause nearly one-half of these fatalities. (www.volpe.dot.gov/LPDs) The large, exposed gap between the front and rear wheels along the side of the truck, combined with high-ground clearance, can create a vacuum and sweep the vulnerable person walking or biking under the truck. These tragic fatalities are avoidable and can be dramatically reduced with a very simple installation on trucks: Lateral Protective Devices (LPDs) or Side Guards. The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act requires that US DOT study side guards, but it is essential that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) include detailed research with vulnerable road users (VRU).
The solution: Lateral Protective Devices (LPDs) are barriers retrofitted to the sides of the truck to physically close the dangerous gap between the front and rear tires and the road, protecting vulnerable road users. When the NHTSA research includes vulnerable road users, attention will be given to the length, width and weight of the LPDs to ensure maximum safety.
What’s next? Those who joined us for lobby day are in the process of following up with the legislative staffers who set aside the time to discuss the issues in the districts that make up the Greater Philadelphia area. A big thanks to The League of American Bicyclists for hosting the event and giving us the space to discuss these issues. Interested in participating in next year’s lobby day? Contact the Bicycle Coalition’s Regional Organizer at email@example.com for more information.