“Rick Perry’s curious veto pen”

June 24th, 2009

The editorial staff of the Dallas Morning News has weighed in with its opinion concerning a few of the 37 Bills Texas Governor Rick Perry chose to veto last week. Among them was SB488 or the so-called “Safe Passing” Bill.

Of the four pieces of legislation the DMN chose to critique, they gave the least print space to SB488.

Likewise, we question his veto of the bicyclist protection bill. Perry said this legislation would have duplicated existing state law.

In both instances, the bills would have added teeth to existing legislation.

The choice of words selected by the editorial staff if interesting – “bicycle protection bill.” Of course, that is precisely what it was, but the proponents went to great length to always refer to it as the “vulnerable road user bill.” As discussed elsewhere, this proposed legislation was intentionally broadened to include a whole host of, primarily, pedestrian classes. Pedestrians are not design road users and, as the governor correctly noted, “a pedestrian is required to yield the right of way to a motor vehicle, unless he or she is at an intersection or crosswalk.”

Including pedestrians was a very big flaw in the wording of the legislation. Attempting to suggest parity between legitimate, recognized vehicles (e.g. cyclists, motorcyclists, operators of farm implements and equestrians) with pedestrians is disingenuous. Legitimate, recognized road users have codified guidelines by which they are required to operate. Under §541.001 of the Transportation Code, a pedestrian is defined as a “person”, while bicycles, motorcycles and farm implements are all defined as “vehicles” under §541.201. The attempt to create an amalgam of these two classes to achieve a specific agenda creates the potential for a loss of status by one or both groups.

In the case of SB488 the legislation would not have “added teeth to existing legislation.” It would reduced our legitimacy and potentially led to more discrimination and disrespect.

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