It is good news that the Wisconsin Senate just passed an amended version of our proposed Vulnerable User Law (AB388) on a voice vote, but I’m not sabering any champagne bottles yet. Regular readers will remember the bill was amended in the Assembly to remove all penalty enhancers in order to get it through the legislature this session. I still includes language strengthening the requirement that driver’s education classes include instruction about vulnerable users, but the penalties for severely injuring or killing someone will not be enhanced. If we had not agreed to remove those enhancements, the original bill, would have never been moved for a vote.
Even though we had broad bipartisan support for this republican-sponsored bill, because a few key caucus members had reservations about it, the bill would have died this session. We consulted with the bill sponsors, Sen. Luther Olsen R-Ripon and Rep. Garey Bies R-Sister Bay, and with our lobbyists, and they all agreed we should accept this small victory, but work next session to win over those who had objections and introduce new legislation to get the penalty enhancements on the books.
I want to take this opportunity to thank our bill sponsors, their staff for all the work they put in to get this far. I would also like to thank those of you who called or emailed in support of the legislation over the last year or two. You made a difference, I promise. Finally, I want to give special thanks to those who testified about their innocent friends and family members who were killed. I know it was extremely painful to relive those terrible crashes that took loved ones from you, but without your testimonies, we would not have made even this small progress.
I will promise all of you that the staff at the Bike Fed will not give up. It remains unacceptable that someone can kill an innocent road users through simple negligence and get away with a minor traffic ticket. These are not accidents, they are crashes that can be prevented if people pay full attention when behind the wheel and sharing the road with vulnerable road users.
In order to right the scales of justice, we will need not only the continued support of the survivors, we will also need more members so together we can speak with a louder voice.
So I ask every reader who is not a member, please take the time to join the Bike Fed now. We need you in our corner. If you are already a member, I thank you for your support, but ask you to please forward this blog post to a friend or two and ask them to join us. Together, we can get stronger and make Wisconsin an even better and safer place to live, work and ride a bike.
Direct anyone who you think might join us to our Strength in Numbers Campaign. For every person you encourage to join with us, we will enter you in a raffle with the chance to win a Trek bike. Prizes are nice, but the real reason to get others to join the Bike Fed is we need their help to move bicycling forward in Wisconsin.