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Eugene shifts position, no longer opposes Idaho Stop bill

Posted by Elly Blue (Columnist) on April 3rd, 2009 at 8:55 am

One surprise at the Idaho Stop bill hearing two weeks ago was outright opposition from an unexpected quarter -- the city of Eugene.

BikePortland obtained a copy of a letter in opposition from Lee Shoemaker, Eugene's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, outlining his concerns with the bill's effect on road safety, particularly for young people on bicycles.

We just received word that the City of Eugene has decided to change this position. Instead of opposing the bill, the city will now take a neutral stance.

According to a blog post by Eugene advocacy organization GEARs (Greater Eugene Area Riders) he city's Inter-Governmental Relations Panel (IGR) received numerous calls from citizens who support the bill. Yesterday, in a move supported by Mayor Kitty Piercy (who called it a "good move"), the panel decided to change the city's official position on the bill to neutral.

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We'll see what this means for the Idaho Stop bill as it moves through the legislative process. Opposition from a major city like Eugene which has a fairly large bicycling population was seen as a blow to the bill's chances. The city's new position on the bill may not help push it forward, but it will not be as likely to actively hold it back.


See here for background information on the Idaho Stop bill, and here for full coverage of the bill as it works its way through the 2009 legislative session.

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Comments
  • a.O April 3, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Too late?

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  • frank April 3, 2009 at 9:41 am

    The law should state that bicyclists are exempt from all traffic laws.

    The difference in most American cities would be unnoticeable.

    Portland, believe it or not, probably has the highest % of law abiding bicyclists I had ever seen and I've been to almost every major American city.

    I can only imagine that it is because that bicyclists take themselves more seriously there and think of themselves as operators of vehicles for the most part. For example, Portland is also the only city I have been in where a high % of commuters have ortlieb panniers! : )

    That is why I am disappointed that you would spend time, money and effort trying to keep from having to stop at stop signs rather than getting rid of the sidepath law.

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  • a.O April 3, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Two words for you, frank: Speed limit.

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  • Aaron April 3, 2009 at 9:55 am

    I second A.O's point. Has the damage been done already? I think that since it's still early in the process that this isn't true. It's very good news and I think this makes a strong statement for the Bill's passage. What do those in the know think?

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  • bahueh April 3, 2009 at 10:30 am

    a.o...two words for you: weak legs.

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  • a.O April 3, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Dude, I've already told you that I'll take you in a race anytime or anywhere.

    I'm tired of hypocrites complaining about bicyclists not obeying traffic laws when NEARLY EVERY DRIVER ON THE ROAD VIOLATES THE SPEED LIMIT LAWS. You want to talk about compliance, fine. It's a two-way street.

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  • wsbob April 3, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Based on the Gears article cited above, it doesn't appear that Mayor Piercy considers the proposed legislation making the Idaho Stop for bikes law in Oregon to be a 'good idea'. Rather:

    "In reference to the IGRs change in position Mayor Kitty Piercy said she thought it was “a good move.” Gears, April 2nd

    According to that article, she seems to be approving of the IGRs change in position.

    Amongst all motor vehicle operators, those that are responsible and law abiding(and I'd readily say the majority are)fear collisions, close calls with, and having to watch especially closely for bike operators that aren't responsible and law abiding....that ignorantly, carelessly, and arrogantly disregard traffic regulations with the excuse that their vehicle is lighter than a motor vehicle and capable of inflicting less damage to others body and property.

    Bikes are much smaller, therefore more difficult to keep track of on the road than are motor vehicles. Throwing the requirement that bike operators stop at stop signs to the full discretion of individual bike operators stands to increase that difficulty. Oregon road users do not need laws that make driving conditions more difficult than they are already.

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  • wsbob April 3, 2009 at 11:26 am

    I should say that it doesn't 'necessarily' appear that Mayor Piercy considers the proposed legislation making the Idaho Stop for bikes law in Oregon to be a 'good idea'. If she does consider it a good idea, I'd like to hear her reasons for that position.

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  • Mike April 3, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    wsbob: way to blow a lot of hot air w/out even addresing aO's point that going above the posted speed limit (sometimes only by 1 or 2 mph) in a motor vehicle is such a commonly accepted norm that people like you still consider yourselves "law abiding" drivers even when breaking that law.

    Remember, every time that speedometer gets to 31 in a 30 or 61 in a 60 you're breaking the law.

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  • Jeff April 3, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    For once I agree with A.O.

    Drivers are terrible at compliance in this town, as bad as bikes at times. I have nearly taken it on the chin from cars so many times in the past 6 months from you know what? Cars blowing stop signs IN the inner neighborhoods and nearly creaming me from the side. And that's just the start. Hell, when I'm behind the wheel, I play fast and loose too. No one's perfect and we all take some chances.

    Ultimately, this bill is about decriminalizing a questionably needed and oft ignored law. Cleanup really.

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  • Elly Blue April 3, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Bob, thanks for pointing out that mistake. Ugh, that's a big one. I've fixed her quote in the article and apologize for the misrepresentation...

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  • El Biciclero April 3, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Mike, I don't think wsbob was necessarily responding to anything but the original article.

    I don't care as much about this proposed law as I do about other issues, but there are interesting things that come out when this debate comes up:

    1. As a.O mentions, people are hypocrites. Drivers breaking the law does not make it right for cyclists to break the law, but law-breaking drivers have no right to complain about law-breaking cyclists. Practice what you preach or quit preachin'.

    2. Emotion rules when it comes to laws like this, where it appears to offer an advantage to group B over group A--even if group A already has all the advantages they could possibly hope for. I find it interesting how much stock is put into the "confusion" argument. Cyclists and motorists alike must all be dumb as rocks if there would be any confusion over right-of-way at stop signs. I will mention again the law we already have that allows anyone to disregard a stop light, as long as they are turning right and "think it is safe". Somehow, in this case (Right-Turn-On-Red), everyone is able to figure out who has the right-of-way (most of the time) and everybody thinks that law "makes perfect sense". Drivers must be smart enough to figure out when to stop, when to stay stopped, and when to "blow through" those red lights--and other drivers don't seem to be confused by what a right-turner-on-red is up to. Now mention the possibility of allowing cyclists to essentially make the same decision at stop signs, and--even though it has been done successfully for 27 years in the state next door--holy crap! Those dum-dums will never be able to figure it out! Confusion will reign! Carnage will ensue! We'll be scraping bloody aluminum (or steel, or carbon fiber) off the front of every SUV from here to Malheur County! The "confusion" argument is a straw man used to hide the emotional reason ("it's not fair!", or, "cyclists are self-righteous, arrogant bastards who think they deserve special treatment!") people don't want this law enacted.

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  • twistyaction April 3, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    @ wsbob, comment #7:

    In response to your somewhat carefully worded, yet obviously biased last two paragraphs, I'd like to offer the view from the other side. My replacement words in your statement are in bold.
    Amongst all motor vehicle bicycleoperators, those that are responsible and law abiding(and I'd readily say the majority are)fear collisions, close calls with, and having to watch especially closely for bikemotor vehicle operators that aren't responsible and law abiding....that ignorantly, carelessly, and arrogantly disregard traffic regulations with the excuse that their vehicle is lighter than a motor vehicle and capable of inflicting less damage to others body and propertyThere is never a valid excuse, but it seems a plain fact that no road user, motorized or not, always stays at or under the speed limit, within their lane, comes to a COMPLETE stop every time, or uses all signals and
    checks all around before changing directions.

    BikesMotor vehicles are much smallerlarger, heavier, and harder to see all around, therefore more difficult to keep trackresponsible control of on the road than are motor vehiclesbicycles. Throwing the requirementAllowing that bike operators stopyield at stop signs to the full discretion of individual bike operators (while still following the same rules of precedence that allow road users to change lanes and decide who goes first at a multi-way stop intersection) stands to increase that difficulty.(How yielding is more difficult when it applies to a bicycle than to a motor vehicle is not at all apparent to me. Remember that this proposed law is not about any vehicle's ability to stop quickly, rather it is about letting a group of road users apply the same judgment and inherent responsibility already granted to anyone who approaches a yield sign.) Oregon road users do not need laws that make driving conditions more difficult than they are already. (Wadda ya know, I agree with you completely on this sentence! The good news is that the proposed law would make "driving" (and by this I know you mean "operating a vehicle, be it bicycle or motor vehicle" actually easier! You could be assured that when approaching a stop sign while following a cyclist at an otherwise empty intersection, you wouldn't have to wait behind them while they come to a complete stop and then use their 1/2 hp motor to slowly clear the intersection for you to proceed.

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  • twistyaction April 3, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Wish I'd know that the strike feature of HTML in the comments doesn't work. Makes my response harder to read/understand. Ah, what I'd give for a preview feature, especially when discussing subtleties of a heated issue.

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  • Andrew Holtz April 3, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    If it's okay to squeeze a word in between the internecine rants... I'd like to suggest that supporters of the Idaho Stop bill send a note of thanks to those in Eugene (possibly with a another nudge asking for support, rather than just neutrality.)

    When someone is willing to publicly reconsider and change a position in response to feedback from citizens, they should be thanked, in hopes they'll be willing to do it again.

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  • twistyaction April 3, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    *sorry to re-post this, but with the half-working HTML it was unintelligible*

    @ wsbob, comment #7:

    In response to your somewhat carefully worded, yet obviously biased last two paragraphs, I'd like to offer the view from the other side. My replacement words in your statement are in bold.
    Amongst all bicycle operators, those that are responsible and law abiding(and I'd readily say the majority are)fear collisions, close calls with, and having to watch especially closely for motor vehicle operators that aren't responsible and law abiding....that ignorantly, carelessly, and arrogantly disregard traffic regulations with the excuse that There is never a VALID excuse, but it seems a plain fact that no road user, motorized or not, ALWAYS stays at or under the speed limit, within their lane, comes to a COMPLETE stop every time, or uses all signals and
    checks all around before changing directions.

    Motor vehicles are much larger, heavier, and harder to see out of, therefore more difficult to keep responsible control of on the road than are bicycles. Allowing that bike operators yield at stop signs to the full discretion of individual bike operators (while still following the same rules of precedence that allow road users to change lanes and decide who goes first at a multi-way stop intersection) stands to increase that difficulty.(How yielding is more difficult when it applies to a bicycle than to a motor vehicle is not at all apparent to me. Remember that this proposed law is not about any vehicle's ability to stop quickly, rather it is about letting a group of road users apply the same judgment and inherent responsibility already granted to ANYONE who approaches a yield sign.) Oregon road users do not need laws that make driving conditions more difficult than they are already. (Wadda ya know, I agree with you completely on this sentence! The good news is that the proposed law would make "driving" (and by this I KNOW you mean "operating a vehicle, be it bicycle or motor vehicle" actually easier! You could be assured that when approaching a stop sign while following a cyclist at an otherwise empty intersection, you wouldn't have to wait behind them while they come to a complete stop and then use their 1/2 hp motor to slowly clear the intersection for you to proceed.

    @ El Biciclero, #13
    To be completely accurate and fair, the Right-Turn-On-Red law says that it is necessary to come to a complete stop before turning right. Many don't do this and a huge number of others are not even aware of the privilege the law provides in the first place. Ignorance of the laws amongst road users makes it hard for everyone to get along.

    @ Andrew Holtz, #15

    When someone is trying to have an informed and accurate discussion with an ill-informed opponent, being characterized as a rant doesn't further the cause you purport to advocate. In any case, it's sad that an elected official needs to be thanked for representing the wishes of her constituents. That's her job. However, I am thankful she's coming around.
    /rant

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  • revphil April 3, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    "I never break the law, everyone around me breaks the law."

    sounds a lot like

    "I always do the dishes, no one else does the dishes."

    Lets all demand and deliver a higher degree of personal responsibility in 2009.

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  • El Biciclero April 3, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    "To be completely accurate and fair, the Right-Turn-On-Red law says that it is necessary to come to a complete stop before turning right."

    And the "Idaho Stop" law says that it is necessary to yield before proceeding through a stop sign. These are precautions commensurate with the level of control offered by the respective traffic control device. In any situation other than turning right, proceeding through a red light--even after stopping--is illegal. I used the term "blow through" to show how silly the incendiary rhetoric used by more vehement opponents to the Idaho Stop law sounds--it does not describe what anyone is actually allowed to do in any circumstance. My point was that in certain situations, we allow drivers (and cyclists) to do something that is normally illegal--proceed against a red light. Why would it be so incredibly idiotic and insane to allow cyclists that same level of discretion in a similar situation?

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  • encephalopath April 3, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    You are also permitted to make a Left turn on red onto a one way road in Oregon, something even fewer people know.

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  • Coyote April 3, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Mr. Shoemaker is not well suited to his position. He is neither an advocate for people on foot or people on bicycles, apparently he just cranked this opinion out without consulting a soul. Unfortunately, he is likely a major component to sinking this reform.

    Kitty is the real problem, she cannot lead, follow, or get out of the way. Eugene pisses away millions of dollars on studying things and consensus building, but little ever gets done.

    Living in the land of the lotus eaters.

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  • wsbob April 3, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Discretion has much to do with how the 'stop means stop' law is applied in actual practice. That is, discretion on the part of road users and the cops that enforce traffic regulations.

    Where stop signs are concerned, all road users are obliged to operate by the same rule. Change that rule for one group of road users and not the others, allowing their personal discretion to be the determining factor as to whether they roll or not roll stands to make the situation more difficult for other road users around them. That's my opinion, of course.

    'Will the person on the bike yield?...or won't they?' This will be the new question Oregon road users will be faced with if the legislature passes this law. Of course, if Idaho residents have been able to get along with the provisions of the law, Oregon residents should be able to in their state also, right? But why should they have to? The reasons pleading with them to do so, to my mind, just haven't been very compelling.

    During the last several weeks this topic has been discussed, I would have liked to have heard from some Idaho residents that are primarily motor vehicle drivers about how they've got along with bike rider's use of their state's law. With the exception of a single second hand account (a son or daughter relaying their parent's thought) published in a comment on a thread on this weblog, we haven't heard from any of them. We've heard from a few Idaho residents, staunch bike riders, that support their state's law, but not from the former.

    twistyaction, thanks for the feedback. Had a some difficulty following the back and forth narrative you chose, but did my best to do so. I have trouble keeping my comments brief, but I wanted to clarify one point:

    "...bike operators that aren't responsible and law abiding....that ignorantly, carelessly, and arrogantly disregard traffic regulations..." wsbob

    I didn't write it in that particular comment, but I absolutely recognize that amongst motor vehicle operators, those characteristics also accurately describe some of them.

    p.s. elly blue....thanks for taking care of that detail, and for all the other stuff you and the chief do.

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  • Noelle April 4, 2009 at 8:43 am

    people on bicycles have the same view as pedestrians, therefore, in this case, they should have the same rights.
    we are allowed to legally make judgment calls every day; right on red, yellow lights, yield signs.
    sometimes the decisions we make are wrong, sometimes we die, but sometimes we evolve

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  • Bjorn April 4, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    I think that the city of Eugene might have been convinced at least in part by the seldom reported fact that this law has worked very well in Idaho for 27 years...

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  • Scott Mizée April 7, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Just came across this blog post this blog post today over at The Oregon Economics Blog.

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