After opening the day with a seven-hour agenda chock full of updates from state agencies, local governments and backers of hydrogen-powered vehicle expansion, the Transportation Legislation Review Committee gave final drafting approval to a pair of bills and a resolution.
Lawmakers on the 18-member panel who were present gave unanimous approval to one of the bills, which harmonizes state law with federal law on milk’s status as a non-divisible load when being hauled, and the resolution, which asks Congress to grant the state permission to study harmonizing weight limits on state and interstate highways.
The second bill also easily won approval by a 12-4 margin, but featured bipartisan opposition as well as support.
The bill proposed by Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, would implement what is currently an opt-in provision contained in Senate Bill 18-144 uniformly across the state. Under that bill, which borrows from laws put in place in Idaho and Oklahoma, bicyclists are allowed to treat stop signs like yield signs and red lights like stop signs as long as they abide by right-of-way rules.
According to Gray, the measure was a common-sense solution to prevent a bicyclist confusion stemming from a patchwork of local regulations.
“It's hard to ask a cyclist to pull out a map and know when they're allowed to do something and when they're not when they could cross three cities in four counties while they're riding around,” he said. “I just think it makes sense as a logistical matter to move forward where people can have some confidence.”
Jack Todd of Bicycle Colorado added his voice in support of Gray’s proposal.
“This is a great cost-neutral way to keep bicyclists and other vulnerable road users ... safe on a roadway,” he said during the committee’s public comment portion of its agenda.
But following Todd’s testimony, Meghan MacKillop of the Colorado Municipal League countered that the bill draft represented a usurpation of local control and said her organization opposed it.
“All cities in the state are not made the same,” she said. “They do not all need or want this kind of regulation on their controlled intersections.”
Sen. Don Coram was one of the four committee members to vote against the proposal. After MacKillop’s testimony, the Montrose Republican cited statistics he found on the internet, which he jokingly said meant the data was “absolute fact,” showing 45% percent of bike accidents happen in intersections.
“Doesn't that indicate that it's maybe a pretty dangerous place to be acting like this?” he asked MacKillop, who circled back to her original point on local control.
Another vote against the bill came from Sen. Kerry Donovan, who quizzed Todd on whether different classes of electric bikes would all be covered by the bill. Todd confirmed they would.
“Oh boy. Look forward to the further conversation on that topic,” Donovan said, though she didn’t participate in discussions on the bill draft other than to vote against it.
The two bill drafts and the resolution draft go on to the General Assembly’s Legislative Council for review.
The discussion on bill drafts capped off a day in which the committee spent a bulk its time hearing updates from around the state, including presentations from the the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Public Safety, hydrogen-powered vehicle boosters and representatives from local governments.
The panel is set to hit the road and will reconvene remotely on Oct. 12 and 13 to tour I-25 between Castle Rock and Colorado Springs as well as Eisenhower Tunnel.