With enormous disappointment, we have to report that HB140, the parking separated bike lane legislation that we have been working on since 2018, was dealt a big blow in the waning days of the spring 2022 session of the Pennsylvania legislature.
As last reported, we had hoped that HB140 would come up for a vote in May. Many supporters took action through emails and phone calls to ask for a committee vote. Finally, HB140 was “sunshined” on Friday, June 24 for a vote to occur in the Senate Transportation Committee on Monday, June 27th. The vote got bumped to June 28 because Monday’s session day was abruptly canceled due to a budget dispute.
On Tuesday June 28, we attended the 10am hearing in person and as it began, the room was informed by Senator Wayne Langerholc, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, that the bill was being “passed over.” At the end of the hearing, Senator Langerholc (R-Cambria) would only cite “member concerns” as to why the bill was passed over, with no other explanation. Senate Democrats on the Committee were unaware that he was going to pass over the bill.
The only possible explanation for this was that during the April 4 hearing held on the bill, two concerns were raised about how businesses in front of a bike lane would load and unload trucks and how electric vehicle charging stations would be located. You can watch the hearing video and see the Q&A at around 37 minutes.
No communication from the Senate staff followed until the morning of Thursday, June 30, when an amendment to HB140 was released twenty minutes before the bill was scheduled again for a vote at 10am.
The amendment did address the issues raised by Senators Mario Scavello and Camera Bartolotta by giving “deference” to business and charging stations prior to the design or construction of a parking separate bike lane.
But, surprisingly, the 4 page amendment went on to address two other issues: 1. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh’s 2021-22 laws that reclassify certain traffic violations as secondary offenses that don’t require a traffic stops (Philadelphia Council Member Isaiah Thomas’ Driving Equality legislation and Pittsburgh Councilman Reverend Ricky Burgess bill #2021-2174), and 2. prosecuting crimes that occur on SEPTA.
The amendment to HB140 requires that if Philadelphia or Pittsburgh or any municipality wants to put in a parking protected bike lane, PennDOT must certify that the municipality is compliant with Title 75 (the State’s vehicle code) provisions. If it has an ordinance that is not in compliance with Title 75, it will not be permitted to construct a parking separated bike lane or plaza. This is directed at any municipal laws that make traffic violations ineligible for traffic stops.
The amendment also requires the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor in Philadelphia to investigate and prosecute violations occurring on SEPTA.
What do these two issues have to do with parking separate bike lanes and plazas? Nothing. The HB140 amendment politicizes a technical state parking rule with a fundamental political disagreement about municipal control and the prosecutorial approach of Philadelphia’s District Attorney.
We are keenly disappointed that this has occurred and will continue to work on finding a resolution in time before the session ends in November 2022.