The government is a slow moving machine, and that’s never more obvious than when you advocate for, and wait for, particular legislation. On Tuesday, Senate Bill 565 was scheduled to come up for a final vote in the Pennsylvania State Senate. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, State Sen. Larry Farnese, and our partners for safe transportation all over Pennsylvania have been working for the past two years to pass legislation which would make it easier to install protected bike lanes on state roads in the Commonwealth.
Throughout the year, we’ve worked to make sure SB 565 be brought up for a vote in the Transportation Committee, be voted upon, get a vote in the Appropriations Committee, and, today, be scheduled for a floor vote in the Senate.
Unfortunately, after a series of recesses in the Senate, Senate Bill 565 was “held over” and can be considered again on October 6th. We won’t know until that point whether the bill will be brought back up for a vote.
I know this is hard to swallow, as we have never gotten the bill this close to passing this legislation before.
In the meantime, we are continuing to speak with our contacts in Harrisburg, and are working for you to make this legislation happen. Having protected bike lanes in the state vehicle code can be a game-changer for Philadelphia and all cities and municipalities across the state. Our friends in Centre County, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Erie, and everywhere in between have been working with us to get this bill passed.
Part of the issue here was an amendment that was set to be introduced by State Sen. John Sabatina, of Philadelphia, which would have created more strict rules for getting bike lanes installed on Philadelphia streets than the rest of the state. Given traffic deaths are on the rise in Philly (a 37 percent increase in 2020 over 2019), we believe the city should be able to install traffic control devises where needed.
Philadelphia, as our supporters know, already has some of the most strict rules regarding bike lane installation in the entire country. This amendment would have made that process even more difficult, and would have made our streets more dangerous.
For those of you — 1,300 of you! — who sent an email to your senator between 8pm Monday and 4pm Tuesday, thank you so much.
Your dedication to this issue, after years of work, is incredible. It’s because of our supporters, and folks to support safe streets in the state of Pennsylvania that we’ve gotten this far on this legislation. No matter how much work it takes, we’re going to keep fighting.
This legislation is not dead. We will do everything we can to make sure it comes up for a vote in October and will continue keeping our supporters up to date on where it all stands.