There are days, coming hopefully soon, that we can successfully implement sweeping multi-modal policies, such as Complete Streets and Vision Zero, at the State level.
But this is not yet one of those days.
Today (or thereabouts) House Bill 192, “Five Feet for Passing Cyclists,” goes to the Senate floor for final passage before signature by the Governor. Sponsored by Representative Angelica Rubio, leader on multi-modal issues who rode a bike to this year’s Session from her home in Las Cruces, and Senator Majority Floor Leader Peter Wirth, the meat of the bill is blissfully short:
Compared to other, more remarkable bills already passed by the 2018 NM Legislature, HB 192 doesn’t have quite the sweeping scope of Sen. Stewart’s K-12 education measures or the just-signed Background Checks Bill. No, HB 192 just codifies common sense such as “driver of a motor vehicle shall proceed with caution when approaching or passing a person on a bicycle…” and “that in no event shall a distance of five feet be considered a safe distance” between ~two-ton driver/vehicle and ~200 pound cyclist/bicycle.
If made law, statute 66-7-376 would make violators potentially liable for a $25.00 fine.
I know…I know…small steps.
And with the teeniest of steps in mind, Better Burque urges everybody to today impress upon their Senator the need to pass HB 192 and the need to duly celebrate its passage and Governor signature. Is this a monumental piece of legislation, such as would be a direly needed statewide Complete Streets dictate to NMDOT that it must fundamentally change how it designs and implements its roadways, very much including state roads in urban areas (e.g., NM-45/Coors Boulevard)?
No. HB 192 is not.
It is a tiny step, HB 192. But it is a step in the right direction. Given the context on the road to more robust multi-modal legislation, Rep. Rubio and Sen. Wirth are hugely thanked for their work in moving this legislation forward. Kudos as well to all who will (note optimism) make sure this bill finds its way to the Governor’s desk.
Here’s some Leonard Cohen to watch (with German subtitles and similarly seated background singers in a rather disturbing lip sync) while waiting for HB 192 to make it to the Senate Floor today (or thereabouts).