A bill allowing cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs (HB2211) and a bill banning texting while driving (HB2512) advanced past the Transportation Committee for the first time in four and six years respectively. Both votes were 6-2 in favor of the bills.
The bills’ co-sponsors caution that there are still challenges to getting the bills in front of the legislators for a vote.
Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson, has been trying to get the yield law passed for the last four years. He said now that the bills have passed the Transportation Committee they go on to the Rules Committee.
He said usually this isn’t an issue, but in this case the chairman of the Rules Committee, Rep. Jerry Weiers, R-Glendale, was one of the two no votes during the transportation committee hearing.
Patterson said the Rules Committee is designed to ensure the language is constitutional and then forward the bill on to the house.
“Unfortunately sometimes politics get played in the Rules Committee and the chairman has broad powers to just sit on a bill and not do anything with it if he chooses,” Patterson said.
Patterson said he would work with Weiers to assuage him of any concerns about the yield bill.
The texting ban is in a similar position. While it passed the Transportation Committee, its fate is in the hands of Weiers and the Rules Committee.
Both Patterson and Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, who has been pushing for a texting ban for six years, suggested the public email Weiers letting him know they support the bills and want them moved out of the Rules Committee.
He said one cyclist told the members about his commute through Phoenix that takes him past 50 stop signs. He told them about how inefficient it is to stop 50 times during a commute.
Patterson said passing the yield law would benefit the state.
“It would make Arizona an even more bike friendly state,” Patterson said. “Certainly I would hope it would improve chances of Tucson and Pima County achieving platinum status and then some cities in other parts of the state trying to achive higher ratings as a bike friendly community.”
Farley said there is still a lot of work to do to get them made into law, but he is happy they were moved forward in the progress because both bills will make road users safer.