Rhode Island is at a pivotal moment in shaping our statewide mobility policies, and your participation can make a difference. This Thursday, May 25th, two State Senate Judiciary Committee hearings will address crucial bike and transit bills.
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings occur after “the rise” (when senators leave the floor for the day), so plan to be there at 4pm to join the Rhode Island Transit Riders rally (see below) and attend the committee hearings. It’s time to take action and advocate for safer and more accessible transportation options!
Senate Bill S326 defines e-bikes as bicycles with three classifications based on technology and potential speed, and regulates e-bikes on streets and paths. This bill uses similar language to bills in all 49 other states. RI is the only state in the union NOT to have such a law on the books. See more information below.
Senate Bill S407 focuses on enhancing bike safety. This omnibus bill addresses bike operation on state highways, interaction with motor vehicles, implementing a reckless driver accountability program and setting appropriate speed limits. See more information below.
- We support both S326 and S407.
- The bills will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee in Room 313.
- The committee hearing agenda is here.
- The email to submit written testimony is: SenateJudiciary@rilegislature.gov.
- Contact Tommie Harrell at Bike Newport for sample testimony (which you can edit to make your own).
Senate Bill S991 establishes RIDOT to oversee RIPTA. We believe the state needs to prioritize transit and provide adequate funding for a healthy accessible and convenient transit system.
- We oppose this bill.
- RI Transit Riders will hold a rally at 4pm in the State House Rotunda.
- The Senate Finance Committee will hear the bill in Room 211.
- The committee hearing agenda is here.
- The email to submit written testimony is: SenateFinance@rilegislature.gov.
- Contact Patricia Raub of RI Transit Riders for more info.
More Information on the Bills:
1. Senate Bill S326: E-bike Classification – Embracing Progress:
Since the passage in New Mexico and Alaska – after this People For Bikes report was produced – ALL 49 other states now have laws that regulate e-bikes as bicycles, allow passengers on e-bikes and bikes, do not restrict age for passengers, do not require licensing or registration for e-bikes, and allow e-bikes to use existing bike infrastructure. Rhode Island is now the sole outlier of all 50 states. By adopting the language used nationally, we can regulate e-bikes effectively and provide the freedom and convenience that e-bike riders deserve.
2. Senate Bill S407: Enhancing Bike Safety:
Safety is a paramount concern for cyclists in Rhode Island. Senate Bill 407 focuses on enhancing bike safety. This omnibus bill addresses bike operation on state highways, interaction with motor vehicles, implementing a reckless driver accountability program and setting appropriate speed limits. By passing this comprehensive bill, we can create a safer environment for cyclists and foster a culture of shared road responsibility.
3. Senate Bill S991: RIDOT management of RIPTA
For years, Rhode Island’s public transit has been woefully underfunded resulting in challenging routes, schedules, and amenities for riders. Senate Bill S991 attributes these failures to poor management, and proposes putting the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) in charge of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) . We believe the problem is our state’s failure to prioritize transit and provide sufficient funding for a robust, accessible, and convenient transit system. Let’s fund public transit before we attack the management.
The time to act is now. Rhode Island has the opportunity to catch up with the rest of the nation in establishing fair e-bike laws and improving bike safety. By supporting Senate Bill S326 and Senate Bill 407, we can make our roads safer for all users and create a more inclusive and accessible transportation system. Attend the hearings, submit your testimony, and inspire others to join the movement. Let’s pedal towards a brighter future for Rhode Island’s mobility!
Remember, your voice matters, and together we can shape the policies that will transform transportation in our state. Be a part of the change!