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October 4, 2023

JOINT RELEASE: Legislation to Improve Public Transit, Create Safer Streets Advances from Interim Committee

DENVER, CO - Yesterday, five bills to improve infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians, improve child passenger safety, crack down on predatory towing carriers, create a statewide transit pass and provide free transit for Colorado youth, and strengthen railroad safety standards advanced from the Transportation Legislation Review Committee.

“Tragically, we’ve seen a disproportionate increase in cyclist and pedestrian casualties due to unprotected bike routes, inaccessible or non-existent sidewalks, and other weaknesses in Colorado’s transportation infrastructure,” said Rep. William Lindstedt, D-Broomfield, sponsor of Bill 1. “Coloradans should be able to commute and recreate safely, regardless of their mode of transportation. This bill will help make our roads safer for every type of travel, while also improving our air quality and reducing climate impacts and traffic.”

“Colorado’s roads are far too dangerous, especially for folks who are using them without a car or kids riding as passengers,” said Vice Chair Faith Winter, D-Broomfield, sponsor of Bills 1 and 4. “Our first bill will provide meaningful resources to improve our infrastructure and make it safer for folks to get where they need to go. The other bill that I’ll be sponsoring next session will help Coloradans access resources like appropriate car seats that will help kids survive crashes and make sure more families stay safe on the road.”

“Many cyclists and pedestrians have felt the impacts of deteriorating safety on our streets due to the lack of safety measures that protect them from dangerous car traffic,” said Rep. Mandy Lindsay, D-Aurora, sponsor of Bill 1. “With this new bill, we will use data-driven safety strategies to reduce traffic collisions and save more Colorado lives.”

“Deaths of vulnerable road users have increased dramatically. Pedestrians, cyclists and people using mobility devices are at risk. Our bill will support safety projects proven to reduce traffic deaths, and when our roads are safer, we believe people will feel more comfortable using alternative modes of transportation,” said Senator Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County, sponsor of Bills 1, 5 and 7. “Our rail safety bill will ensure that our communities, forests, watersheds and rail workers are protected from hazardous materials being transported through our state by rail. Additionally, we’ve explored new ways to prevent predatory towing practices and ensure companies aren’t taking advantage of Coloradans or skirting the law. We’ve worked hard to develop bills that will deliver safer streets and railways and fairer systems for Coloradans, and I'm excited to help shepard them through the process."

Bill 1 would deliver road safety improvements that are proven to reduce dangerous traffic collisions, like controlled crossings and separated bike lanes. Between 2010 and 2021, pedestrian deaths from collisions with motorized vehicles increased 77 percent while all other traffic-related deaths increased by 25 percent. The likelihood that a collision with a motor vehicle will result in serious injury to a pedestrian is 50 percent if the vehicle is traveling 31 miles per hour and 99 percent if the vehicle is traveling at 46 miles per hour. The fatality risk to a cyclist or pedestrian increases between 40 and 50 percent with each thousand pound increase in weight of the motor vehicle.

“During my time in elected office, Colorado has taken leaps and bounds forward when it comes to smart, successful transportation policy,” said Senator Kevin Priola, D-Henderson, sponsor of Bills 4, 7 and 9. “Ahead of my final legislative session in the General Assembly, I’m proud to sponsor a suite of bills that will improve upon our past work while continuing to innovate. The bills from the Transportation Legislation Review Committee I’m sponsoring will help families access resources to keep kids safe while driving, streamline a statewide transit system to increase usage and save people money, and improve consumer protections to crack down on predatory towing companies and level the playing field for Coloradans.”

“It is estimated that up to 84% of Colorado children are improperly restrained while riding in a vehicle, which has led to devastating fatal car accidents,” said Chair Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, sponsor of Bill 4. “Kids that live in rural parts of the state and children of color are more at-risk, because families may not have access to life-saving child restraints. Our goal with this new bill is to spread awareness and make it easier for every family across the state to protect their children in their vehicles.”

Bill 4, also sponsored by Minority Leader Rose Pugliese, would create the Child Passenger Safety Education and Distribution Grant Program to increase awareness of child passenger safety laws, connect families with child restraint products like car seats, and fund the certification of child passenger safety technicians. The bill would also update car seat and child restraint requirements to reflect the latest available science and better protect children under the age of 13. 

“Predatory towing companies have been picking the pockets of hardworking Coloradans for too long,” said Rep. Andrew Boesenecker, D-Fort Collins, sponsor of Bill 7. “It is much too common for people to have to jump through hoops and pay hundreds of dollars to get their car back after it was towed despite the protections we’ve passed in recent years. Our new bill would disincentivize bad actors from exploiting car owners and reinforce best practices in the towing industry to better protect Colorado consumers.”

“Everyday Coloradans can’t afford to cover the costs of towing companies mistakenly taking away their car,” said Rep. Tisha Mauro, D-Pueblo, sponsor of Bill 7. “Most Coloradans rely on car travel to get to their job, drop their kids off at school, and other necessary errands. I’m proud to carry this bill so we can greatly reduce unnecessary towing incidents that take money from hardworking Coloradans.”

Bill 7 would crack down on predatory towing by granting more enforcement and permitting authority over towing carriers to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The bill further protects consumers by restricting towers from patrolling parking areas on behalf of a property owner, and ensuring all financial information is reported to the PUC and the General Assembly to increase transparency of towing operations.

“Coloradans deserve ways to get around that are easy, cheap, and efficient,” said Rep. Ruby Dickson, D-Centennial, sponsor of Bill 9. “High-quality transit can ease traffic congestion, improve air quality, and save travel time. Our new bill will reduce the cost of transit passes, including making fares free for people under 20. It also explores a single statewide transit pass to save Coloradans money, time, and headaches!"

“The EveryWhere Pass will give Coloradans the convenience and access to go all over our beautiful state year round while doing their part to reduce air pollution and lower greenhouse gas emissions,” said Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Longmont, sponsor of Bill 9. “Colorado youth can ride for free to help lower the cost for working families, and the tax credit will help Colorado businesses offer their employees reliable and discounted transportation. The EveryWhere Pass has something for everyone.”

“Public transit is a great way for youth to get to school, work, and extracurricular activities without needing a driver's license and a car,” said Rep. Stephanie Vigil, D-Colorado Springs, sponsor of Bill 9. “Our new bill would cut transportation costs for families traveling together, and give teens in Colorado a boost in opportunity, by making transit zero fare for youth."

Bill 9 would support the use of transit in multiple complementary ways. First, it would create a tax credit for purchasing a transit pass; something that exists now for employers but not individuals. It would also create the Statewide Transit Pass Exploratory Committee to come up with a plan to implement a statewide transit pass by January 1, 2028. 

The bill would also create a program to provide free year-round transit services to kids across the state who are 19 years old or younger. The bill also would extend the successful Ozone Season Transit Grant Program.

The committee also passed Bill 5, which would strengthen railroad safety standards and create the Front Range Passenger Rail District Maintenance and Safety Fund to improve railroad safety for passenger travel.

The five bills will now go to the Legislative Council for approval before being introduced next session. Once introduced in the 2024 session, interim bills will follow the legislative process in the same manner as all other bills.

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