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Rep. Greenlick says safety concerns prompted child biking bill

Posted by on January 12th, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Rep. Mitch Greenlick

Representative Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) says that his concern for the safety of children is behind House Bill 2228. The bill, which would make it illegal to carry a child of six years or younger on the back of a bike or in a trailer, has quickly caused an outcry among people throughout Oregon and the country.

Reached by telephone at his district office a few minutes ago, the 76-year old legislator prefaced his response to my questions by reminding me that he’s a professor of public health at the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) – the same institution that published a bike commuter injury study in November that Greenlick says prompted him to introduce the bill.

“Everybody should just stay calm, this is part of a deliberative process.”

“We’ve just done a study showing that 30 percent of riders biking to work at least three days a week have some sort of crash that leads to an injury… When that’s going on out there, what happens when you have a four year old on the back of a bike? From a precautionary principle, I felt it was important to discuss the issue and start a debate.” (Greenlick said he was particularly surprised to find that the study results were based on “serious riders” and not just novices. Please note: That study was widely misinterpreted due to how it defined injury. See a good analysis of it by Mia Birk.)

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Unsafe?

Greenlick has certainly started a debate. Many people have emailed and called his office with their concern that his bill isn’t necessary and that it would be a major step backwards in Oregon’s quest to be the most bike-friendly state in the U.S. Greenlick maintains that he is simply trying to start a discussion. To back up his hunch about safety, he says his office is already looking into studies that might support the idea of the bill. They haven’t found any yet.

When asked if it might be wiser to find such evidence and then introduce a bill, he said, “Because this is just how the process works.” Greenlick acknowledged that he’s heard a lot of feedback from Oregonians concerned about the bill. “Everybody should just stay calm,” he urged, “this is part of a deliberative process.”

“If it’s true that it’s unsafe, we have an obligation to protect people. If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?”

In backing up his safety concerns, Greenlick told the story about how when his kids were young — back in the 1950s — he would drive them around in the back of his car without seatbelts on. “I now look back and realize that’s not safe. If we find that carrying kids on the back of a bike isn’t safe, I would think that people would agree we need to do something about it.”

I mentioned to Greenlick that the OHSU study found that the main cause of reported injuries were environmental factors (like potholes and other road condition variables) and not motor vehicle collisions or rider error. He said he’d also support legislation that looks into those issues as well (he has not proposed any such measures, nor has anyone else).

Greenlick said he’s aware of the statistical evidence showing that as more people ride bikes, the crash rate goes down and the streets become safer. When I asked him if he’s concerned then, about the impact his bill could have on ridership he said, “I don’t think it will discourage people from biking.”

I explained to Greenlick that many people will choose to drive (if they even have that option) and not bike when faced with a potential ticket for carrying their young child on their bike. He didn’t address that concern directly, but he did say that if they do find out that the practice of carrying and/or pulling a child by bike is “unsafe” than he feels it’s the right thing to protect people from it.

“If it’s true that it’s unsafe, we have an obligation to protect people. If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?”

Rep. Greenlick has decided that the way to open a debate on an issue is to propose a new law. We have seen this repeatedly backfire in Oregon. In July of 2008, Senator Floyd Prozanski — out of a concern for safety after a friend of his was hit and killed while bicycling — planned a mandatory, all-ages helmet law. After hearing a lot negative feedback about that idea, he wisely pulled the idea out of consideration. In March 2009, Representative Wayne Krieger proposed a mandatory bicycle registration bill. After hundreds of upset emails and phone calls came into his office, the bill ended up dying in committee.

Judging from my conversation with Rep. Greenlick tonight, it’s clear he feels his concerns have enough merit to warrant a debate. Hopefully, we all learn something once this over and the result is safer bicycling for everyone.

In the meantime, please contact Rep. Greenlick and express your thoughts on this issue. His email is rep.mitchgreenlick[at]state[dot]or[dot]us and his district phone number is (503) 297-2416.

UPDATE: Rep. Ben Cannon has posted a comment I think everyone should read.

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Comments
  • kj January 12, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Wow, I am disappointed a professor from a prestigious university wouldn’t propose a study on biking with children before proposing a law against it…

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    • KJ January 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm

      After I biked home and thought about this some more I wanted to add some points as to why. It’s one thing to make a statement.
      I realize the Dr. probably sees this as being proactive, but it’s not. It’s reactive. It’s an emotional response to something that is as of right now only something he can call a perceived threat. This is what creates moral panics.
      The OHSU study, irc, was on commuting adults. That data sets collected did not include sets that would be useful in analyzing risks associated with carrying children.
      If I were to propose a study on child safety as passive riders under the age of 6, I’d want to see the following:
      a mixed pool of solo adult commuters/errands solo adult sports/recreation with type of bike recorded and w/wo trailers, family sets with age breakdowns, # of occupants on bike with recorded method of child transport both commute/errand and sports/rec. recording all the same data as the trauma study and exactly what the reported injuries were and to which age cohorts.
      But I would also want to have the following answered:
      How do people ride solo vs with child passengers, is there an appreciable difference in riding style and decision making?
      Do auto drivers behave appreciably differently around people biking solo or with children?

      Another major issue I see here is not just family biking, but how it will affect ridership in general. If we need to get more women on bikes, and women are the most risk adverse group and they are the bellwether group for getting bicycling numbers to take off… well what a way to shoot that in the foot. Like it or not women are still the primary care givers and need to get their children around. You want more women on bikes, you need biking to be family friendly. Period.

      And as many have already said, if you apply this ‘logic’ to children and cars, children should be banned from being in cars or near them until the age of like 25. We have just internalized that cost as collateral damage of how our society functions.
      The OHSU study kind of showed the same illogical public response. You are more likely to be injured or killed in a car, but biking is somehow unsafe. The disconnect is something some of us see, but many people don’t. I think that is also largely because bicycling is still seen, by most Americans, as optional, extra, elitist, recreational and impractical on top of being unsafe.

      Ok I know that’s a tl:dr and I need to actually write the man, but I feel better. and prefer to write him after reading others responses and seeing how this plays out over the next few days. We are all feeling a little reactionary, and I want to be logical.

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    • Joe Rowe January 12, 2011 at 9:10 pm

      This guy is crazy. If he really cared about safety he should have gone to the BTA and asked them how he might help improve laws that would help keep bikes safe.

      This guy is to bike safety what anti-choice nuts are to women’s rights. He says he’s pro safety, they say they are pro life.

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  • Paul Tay January 12, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Kids die every year, every day, while being shuttled around town in motor vehicles. Solution? Ban them from being transported in bike trailers. Problem S.O.L.V.E.D. Professor Greenlick, you, sir, are a certifiable G.E.N.I.U.S.

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  • Jimbo January 12, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    “If it’s true that it’s unsafe, we have an obligation to protect people. If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?”

    Based on that statement, shouldn’t we ban cars, alcohol, guns and corn syrup?

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    • kww January 12, 2011 at 7:00 pm

      Jimbo is 1000% on the mark. Someone ought to send this genius to Amsterdam or Copenhagen or Taipei, where there are sometimes 2 child and a mother on a bicycle. I bet if he did a study, he would find infant mortality rates are below those of children in cars.

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    • Sean G January 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm

      Exactly. How has this Representative not proposed this omnibus ban already, if he’s so concerned about anything that might possibly save one child’s life.

      Sad to see Portland representatives getting in some pre-emptive hippie punching as they get the session started.

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    • John Russell (jr98664) January 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm

      “If it’s true that it’s unsafe, we have an obligation to protect people. If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?”

      No, I wouldn’t.

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    • valkraider January 13, 2011 at 10:14 am

      Jimbo
      “If it’s true that it’s unsafe, we have an obligation to protect people. If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?”
      Based on that statement, shouldn’t we ban cars, alcohol, guns and corn syrup?

      CDC: 10 leading causes of injury death by age group

      Murder and assault are already illegal (and look how successful those laws are…)

      Apparently, we should also ban:
      1. Water
      2. Motor Vehicle Traffic
      3. Fire
      4. Heights (anything tall enough to fall from)
      5. Walking

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  • Allison January 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I still don’t understand what Representative Greenlick expects me to do with my child, if I can’t put him on my bike. Leave him at home? Never leave the house? Purchase a car? If this bill isn’t anti-family, then it’s anti-woman. It’s certainly anti-bike and pro-car.

    As a public health expert, you’d think he’d focus on what we *have* established as being unhealthy – air pollution and sedentary kids.

    You want to make kids safer? Ban cars!

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    • h January 12, 2011 at 6:52 pm

      Agreed!

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    • Steve B January 12, 2011 at 7:15 pm

      Well said, Allison!

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    • April January 12, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      This sums up my thoughts.

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    • Heather January 12, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      I feel the same way. This is the same man who introduced some recent midwife licensing legislation in the name of “safety.” Maybe he has a thing against women.

      Does anyone know where I might find data and the percentage of cyclists/ bike commuter women vs men?

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    • q`Tzal January 12, 2011 at 10:14 pm

      Yes.
      We are supposed to grow up and buy a car like a real American.

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  • h January 12, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Our economy is in trouble. Go and work to fix it. That is we ARE expecting our legislators to do now. Thank you.

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    • Joe Rowe January 12, 2011 at 9:13 pm

      In my email to Greenlick I noted he should focus on the budget. He’s wasting his time, our time, and spreading hatred of bikes.

      Please, send email to him and cc your PDX house rep. Kotek, Cannon, Frederick, etc.

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  • Alexis January 12, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    This is absurd. I’m glad I took the time to email him (as a former constituent; I moved a few monts ago) and tell him that cars are the problem, not the joyful experience of traveling under your own power and carrying your kids, cargo, whatever with you.

    The OHSU study doesn’t have any direct applicability to family cycling, since its population is either mostly or entirely distinct (I don’t know if they excluded adults carrying children, but there’s a mention that all subjects had to be over 18). Furthermore, the subtitle is “It is time to focus on the environment”, so the study authors (and their statistics, as you pointed out to him) support the conclusion that it’s the environment that needs improvement more than human behavior.

    A public health scientist should know better than to try to support a bill using a study whose population isn’t relevant and whose conclusion is opposite to the method of “safety” in the bill. It’s also frankly idiotic to even imagine it won’t deter people from cycling, when there are known family cyclists with young children out there. I’m disappointed in Rep. Greenlick for trying to smokescreen his poor reasoning on this issue.

    Let’s hope it dies a flaming death before it even gets to committee.

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  • Chris January 12, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    “Road crashes kill 260,000 children a year … and are the leading cause of death among 10-19 year olds.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/7776127.stm

    It’s obvious what he should really be working to ban.

    I know in my family, this would be a deal breaker for my wife and daughter. They would be in a car for sure. And being car-free was a major reason we moved to Oregon.

    Fail.

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  • Paul Tay January 12, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Uh…excuse me….the logic, not the Prof, is G.E.N.I.U.S. My bad.

    “At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized — at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do — it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.” ~~~Da Prez.

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  • Allison January 12, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    He’s generally a good guy – I’m really baffled by this.

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    • Joe Rowe January 12, 2011 at 9:21 pm

      Spare us the history. It’s not about the small good things people do, it’s about the big bad things they don’t do. Does Mitch Oppose the CRC, that is a huge $4-$10 billion spending to promote driving alone. How many babies could we save with 10 Billion for schools and human services?

      The guy is nuts. If he cared about safety for bikes he would have called the BTA and said “I want to work with you”.

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      • tonyt January 13, 2011 at 10:14 am

        “The guy is nuts. If he cared about safety for bikes he would have called the BTA and said “I want to work with you”.”

        Amen.

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  • Jay R. January 12, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Proposing a bill before the research is done is quite literally putting the cart before the horse, in this case.

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  • Patrick McMahon January 12, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Research that looked at the crash history of people riding with children may be more relevant.

    I know that when I ride with my kids I take far more precautions and choose different routes than when I’m riding by myself, because the consequences of a crash are far higher. My expectation is that the data would show that crashes are far less likely for people riding with children than for cyclists as a whole and that would change the basis for his proposed law.

    We should evaluate and discuss first before making preemptive changes that have a potential negative impact of this sort.

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  • Randy January 12, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Allison – Good point. Let’s focus on what works and what we need to fix. Most 6 yr olds can ride their own bike and Portland has polluted air – especially near downtown.

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  • mikeybikey January 12, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Well, I call BS because if he is flashing his public health credentials around like that, then he is well aware of the stats on child deaths related to car crashes.. yet where is the bill that “starts a debate” about the safety of children in cars, eh? Totally biased and duplicitous political bullying.

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  • browse January 12, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Has the Rep. done any research on how many lives would have been saved last year if this proposed bill was a law?

    People are also more likely to be killed by cars traveling over 5 mph. Is the Rep. also pursuing a bill to update speed limits?

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  • Harald January 12, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Good points everyone. But: Think of the children!!! Do you really want children to get hurt!?!

    More seriously: the “argument” made by Greenlick is beyond ridiculous. I also find it appalling that he is using the OHSU bike commuter study to support his reasoning. In addition to Jonathan’s argument about environmental factors, we also have to keep in mind that the study had an extremely broad definition of what counted as “injury.” Mia Birk has written a good summary about this issue http://www.miabirk.com/blog/?p=352

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  • 3-speeder January 12, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    “If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. ”

    If automobile driving were banned in Oregon during the remainder of 2011, I am quite certain that at least one child’s life would be saved.

    Rep. Greenlick, would you please introduce a bill to ban automobiles in Oregon?

    I would love to see debate opened on this issue.

    If you are not willing to introduce such a bill, please inform the public how you are not being a hypocrite.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 12, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    And I asked him why he doesn’t propose similar measures on cars. He said he’s voted for a lot of motor vehicle safety bills and has saved “1000s of lives” by doing so. I pointed out that no motor vehicle legislation ever has proposed prohibiting people from actually being transported in one. He replied that there’s a law saying kids can’t be in the front seat. Then he said something to the effect of, “Just because people are still being killed in cars… does that mean we shouldn’t be concerned that people are dying while bicycling?” I didn’t really understand his point, that’s why I didn’t put it in the article… but that’s the gist of his response.

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    • April January 12, 2011 at 7:49 pm

      I understand his point, to a certain extent: caring about one issue doesn’t preclude one from caring about something else. I don’t want kids to die in car accidents OR bike accidents, but the best way to ensure that, to me, seems to be banning cars.

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    • Mitch January 13, 2011 at 10:32 pm

      Anyone who hides behind credentials (reminding you of his professorship etc) and dismisses obvious inconsistencies in his position can’t be taken too seriously.

      Between its inherent absurdity and the ferocious opposition of the cycling community, I really don’t see this proposed bill getting any kind of legs.

      PS: On a petty note, I’m embarrassed to share the same first name with this guy.

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  • Shane January 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    So if he is a professor of public health he should be aware of the obesity epidemic. Getting kids active at a young age is a key to beating that problem and cycling is a great tool to get them excited about being active everyday.
    Also, I hope he’s introducing a bill to keep kids out of cars. Or maybe out of our cities altogether? Or reducing speed limits to non-life threatening speeds? Or a million other things to improve peoples “safety” without a ridiculous law like this?!

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  • ron January 12, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Not much more that I can add to the other great comments. Write your legislator.

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  • toby January 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    “We’ve just done a study showing that 30 percent of riders biking to work at least three days a week have some sort of crash that leads to an injury… When that’s going on out there, what happens when you have a four year old on the back of a bike? ”

    OK, so my question is, how many of those 30% had a four year old (OK, I’m in a generous mood, make it any child younger than 7) on back that was injured? How often do kids get injured while being pulled in a trailer?

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  • SD January 12, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Mitch’s action is surprising because it

    1) demonstrates a lack of understanding of effective public health policy and the research that creates it from someone with a public health background.
    2) shows naivite regarding initiating public discourse from an 3rd term elected official in a highly educated district.
    3) takes an anti bike stance amongst a constituency that is relatively probike.

    I know a lot of us are scratching our heads.

    This reflects poorly on the OHSU school of medicine public health department where he was chair and is embarassing to the people who elected him.

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    • todd January 12, 2011 at 9:21 pm

      Enough people who know him are scratching their heads at the obvious idiocy that I wonder whether he’s suffering from senile dementia (75) or something similar related to his cancer treatment.

      Nobody who drives the speed limit in the city has any moral standing in advising me how to transport my child safely.

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  • BURR January 12, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    So what exactly are the injury and fatality statistics for children under 6 in bike seats or trailers?

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  • Meghan H January 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    A horrible situation happened recently where a one-year-old child died while being pushed in a stroller on the sidewalk. By Rep. Greenlick’s logic, you would have to ban WALKING with a child down your street. He just didn’t think this through — I’m just surprised the person on his staff who probably had to write the legislative language didn’t ask him to reconsider this position.

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    • jim January 12, 2011 at 8:33 pm

      every once in a while I see joggers running down the street pushing a baby stroller. Perhaps they should stay on the sidewalks with the babies

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      • just saying January 13, 2011 at 7:43 am

        By law pedestrians are required to use the sidewalk if one is present.

        814.070 Improper position upon or improperly proceeding along highway; penalty. (1) A pedestrian commits the offense of pedestrian with improper position upon or improperly proceeding along a highway if the pedestrian does any of the following:

        (a) Takes a position upon or proceeds along and upon the roadway where there is an adjacent usable sidewalk or shoulder.

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    • Allan Folz January 12, 2011 at 9:44 pm

      I don’t know that you’d ban walking. By his logic, I think you’d ban elderly drivers, of which Greenlick is likely one.

      It is telling though isn’t it. He is all for a study to ban the theoretical risks in biking, yet the real and demonstrated risk of elderly drivers gets a pass.

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  • jim January 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I think it’s really more of a question of “How old does a child have to be before you take them on a bike?” http://www.bhsi.org/little1s.htm

    NY has laws about taking babies on bikes.

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  • bjorn January 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I’d really like to see the data in the form of a harm reduction analysis, i.e. yeah the people on the bike may be slightly less safe than if they were in a car, but since they aren’t going to hit and kill someone else the city as a whole is safer. Remember more than 1/2 of the time when a child is hit by a car going to or from school they are hit by a classmates parent.

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    • Alexis January 13, 2011 at 10:22 am

      I have an idea: let’s ban driving near schools!

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      • adam January 14, 2011 at 9:16 am

        thats is not an idea, it is THE idea.

        nice job, alexis.

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  • suburban January 12, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Effective on July 1, 1994, any youth under age 16 riding a bike or when a passenger on a bike in any public place (streets, roads, sidewalks, parks, etc.) must wear bicycle helmets labeled ANSI and/or Snell approved.

    Some enforcement of this law would be a better “dialogue starter”

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  • Peter January 12, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Is this guy representative of mindset of people in Northwest Portland and Northern Washington County? I can’t believe they voted for him! His bill would ruin one of the things I love about SE Portland.

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  • sarah gilbert January 12, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    I have a lot to say on this, and many of my points have already been made. I think any rational lawmaker would agree that you cannot apply the save-one-child standard to lawmaking, or we should ban balloons, magnets, batteries, bridges, roads, sidewalks, bathtubs, food and drink (choking!), plastic bags (suffocating!), sewing needles or any indoor heat (plenty of kids have died in house fires). kids are allergic to bee stings, peanuts and shellfish, they’re gone too. and guns, well, I think that’s pretty high on the list. no one could stay inside or leave the house, and flying, come ON. duh.

    anyway. on to other things. there are a few reasons other than those stated here to oppose this bill. the one most obvious is that it would be killing to a number of Oregon-based businesses; bike shops like Clever Cycles, Splendid Cycles, Bike Gallery and Joe Bikes make much of their income selling bikes that carry kids and parents. Oregon-based bike makers throughout the state are making innovative new baby-movers. there are obviously plenty more, but these would be the hardest hit.

    the second is that it’s terribly discriminatory to parents of young kids with pervasive developmental disorders. one reaction some parents might have were this crazy bill ever to be made law would be to get their kids on their own bikes earlier and earlier (can you imagine the unintended consequences of THAT? four- and five-year-olds crowding the bike lanes with their training wheels and their super-slow speeds. your child with Down’s Syndrome or balance disorders (or my own undiagnosed special-needs five-year-old who couldn’t balance on a bike until just last month) must be carried in a trailer through the age of six (and older). oh sorry: it’s illegal. keep your special needs kid at home until he’s old enough to enjoy the road.

    it’s already been mentioned that this has some major problems in its discrimination against families who can’t afford a car. it’s patently elitist and wrong-headed in a dozen ways. grrr.

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    • Duncan January 14, 2011 at 6:11 am

      well said.

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  • beth h January 12, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Is the BTA preparing a response to this? It seems like their legislative territory for sure.

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  • Donna January 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    “When asked if it might be wiser to find such evidence and then introduce a bill, he said, “Because this is just how the process works.”

    That is one of the biggest loads of garbage I have ever heard from a politician. Isn’t the State of Oregon still experiencing a budget crisis? There will be severe cuts to critical and useful state programs this year and this guy is flushing tax revenue down the toilet with his “deliberative process”. We have so many people out of work and in need in this state, and he believes this is an appropriate use of public funds??? If he thinks the state has money to burn for this kind of nonsense, he’s obviously been in elective office too long. Hopefully the voters in his district will come to that realization.

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  • Seth January 12, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    This just doesn’t make any sense. Hopefully the bill will never make it anywhere. Lets do what we can to see that it dies quickly.

    I have been a daily bike commuter for about 15 years. My son comes with me on the bike many of those days, and we get out and about on the bike as well. He started riding with me at about 1.5yrs old. He loves it. We would both be very sad if some senseless legislation were to change that.

    Rep Greenlick: I am sure you are well-intentioned, but this one is way off the mark.

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  • Ben Cannon January 12, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    As a father who rides with his three-year-old daughter on the back of his bike and a State Representative who has served four years in the Oregon House with Rep. Greenlick, I would suggest that everyone take a deep breath.

    I take Mitch at his word that he introduced the bill in order to “start a conversation” about bicycle safety. It might seem strange, but this is the way the process often works: a legislator gets an idea, drafts a bill, introduces it, gets feedback, and then decides whether to try to proceed, perhaps with amendments, or whether to let it die. Remember that a bill has to pass at least two committees, plus the House and the Senate, and be signed by the Governor, in order to become law. This proposal is a long way from that.

    Perhaps owing to his training as a researcher, Mitch, more than any other colleague of mine, is disposed to listen carefully to different points of view and evaluate all the evidence as he grapples with an issue. He has one of Oregon’s greatest minds, and among its attributes are the flexibility to take different perspectives and the wisdom to understand what’s really important.

    The conversation here is good, and I suspect it’s exactly what Mitch intended (just so you get the picture, he has other proposals that would merge OHSU and PSU and merge Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas Counties — standard fare for a legislator who isn’t afraid of big, bold ideas). I especially appreciate that most of the commenters here have been careful to characterize Mitch’s proposal and not Mitch himself. Paul Tay’s self-correction above is a great example.

    Still, the relative anonymity and click-and-publish nature of emails and blogs can lead to instant villification of someone merely for proposing an idea. As one of the sponsors of last session’s proposed beer tax increase (yeah, I’m *that* guy), I have some experience with this. While our original proposal was merely meant to be a discussion-starter, opponents so quickly sunk their teeth into the level of the tax we had proposed (which was admittedly too high) that it became impossible to talk about the tax at all. One of the lessons I learned was to be more careful about the precise form of the bills I introduce, knowing that they might be instantly parodied online. Maybe this is simply inevitable, but I’m not sure that it’s a better world when legislators are hesitant to propose an idea because it might expose them to vitriol through email or online.

    Fortunately, I haven’t seen much of that in this conversation.

    Introducing a bill is the best way that legislators have to get feedback on an idea. Keep it coming, keep it civil.

    -Ben Cannon

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    • Donna January 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm

      Well, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion but I find it abhorrent that elected officials waste public money in order to have “discussions”. I could never in good conscience vote to re-elect someone who engages in this sort of thing. If this is how our state legislature operates, it’s clearly time to vote out *all* the incumbents, sir.

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      • Bjorn January 12, 2011 at 11:47 pm

        I’ve spent some time in Salem the last couple of years lobbying for the BTA and have served on the legislative committee for almost 4 years now. Introducing a bill costs virtually nothing, I think something like 1 in 10 bills is passed. I don’t agree with this bill, but there are a lot of rules about how things happen, and it is in my opinion possible that this was introduced as a place holder for some sort of bike safety bill. Bills have to be submitted before the session, and can be amended all over the place so they barely resemble what was started with. Regardless, this isn’t crazy government waste, it is normal legislative process.

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        • Gerik January 13, 2011 at 12:15 pm

          Thanks Bjorn, looking forward to our meeting next week.

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      • Zach January 13, 2011 at 12:45 am

        Wow, I can’t tell whether or not this comment is tongue-in-cheek. If it is, Donna, I apologize for not getting the joke.

        If you’re serious, you need to sit down and think for a few minutes about how our political system works. We do not elect our representatives (on the state or federal level) to bring fully-formed laws to their respective legislative bodies for up-or-down votes without prior discussion. We elect them to represent us in the deliberative process that is required to create new laws and policies.

        Incidentally, do you have any idea how poorly state legislators are paid compared to the amount of work they do?

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      • Paul January 13, 2011 at 2:04 am

        This is precisely the public officials’ job – to have discussions. What exactly do you propose they do instead? Can you provide your own ideas for a job description of a public official? As much as I disagree with the idea of this bill, I find your comment puzzling.

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      • Andrew Plambeck January 13, 2011 at 10:17 am

        Good way to “start a discussion” by introducing legislation: the bill to direct ODOT to conduct a study of replacing the Marquam Bridge.

        Bad way to “start a discussion” by introducing legislation: saying you’re going to ban something without any facts, statistics or warrant.

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    • wsbob January 12, 2011 at 11:34 pm

      “… I take Mitch at his word that he introduced the bill in order to “start a conversation” about bicycle safety. It might seem strange, but this is the way the process often works: a legislator gets an idea, drafts a bill, introduces it, gets feedback, and then decides whether to try to proceed, perhaps with amendments, or whether to let it die. Remember that a bill has to pass at least two committees, plus the House and the Senate, and be signed by the Governor, in order to become law. This proposal is a long way from that. …Ben Cannon

      Ben…thanks for taking the time to talk a bit about the legislative process works. This is something the general public could benefit from being more familiar with.

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    • Allan Folz January 12, 2011 at 11:46 pm

      What about a bill that prohibits elderly people from getting behind the wheel? Would you work to co-sponsor such a bill with Rep Greenlick? Elderly drivers have killed children right here in Portland.

      http://www.kgw.com/news/Child-in-stroller-struck-in-N-Portland-hit-and-run-106904773.html

      I think unless Rep Greenlick propose such a bill he is at risk for accusation of rank hypocrisy.

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    • Shan D January 13, 2011 at 12:06 am

      Let just assume this was to “start a conversation” about bicycle safety. Why not have studies to back up this whole “riding with children under x age is not safe” Oh thats right there are no studies or FACTS!. If he was generally concerned with the safety of children why not purpose more bike routes to inner and outer city areas? Why not make those bike paths more accessible. Heck why dont we go ahead and make sure all roads have a barrier instead of a painted white line which is not even visible to most drives( due to fading or lack of) nor even wide enough to ride your bike in with a trailer. If this was seriously for the fact of “starting a conversation” it is not a good way to do this. Only those whom are and would be affected are going to have 2 cents and if we look over those percentages its not very high compared to those whom are not.

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    • q`Tzal January 13, 2011 at 7:27 am

      I take Mitch at his word that he introduced the bill in order to “start a conversation” about bicycle safety.

      This is not a mature and polite way to start a conversation in a professional setting.

      This is the equivalent of Dr Greggory House being in charge of formulating new laws.

      The level of forethought that went in to this seems equal to a sadistic child pulling the pin of a grenade and rolling it in to a room for LOLs.

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      • Nathan January 13, 2011 at 9:58 am

        Interesting, q’Tzal, I had the same analogy in mind. Tossing a grenade (we’ll say with the pin still in place) into a crowd is one way to open a dialogue about public safety. But it’s not a very good way. It seems to me that’s what Rep. Greenlick has done with this bill. Perhaps he doesn’t intend for it to pass, but it’s not entirely in his hands now.

        I believe we’re correct to take him seriously, and to help him recognize–and quickly–that he’s got hold of this problem by the wrong end.

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    • Alan January 13, 2011 at 10:00 am

      Ben Cannon: “I would suggest that everyone take a deep breath.”

      First off, thank you, Representative Cannon, for responding here. That’s a credit to both you and BikePortland. I trust Rep. Greenlick will at least look at these responses, too, as we know he is aware of them.

      Although I’ve sucked up more than half my allotted lifetime oxygen supply, I assure you I am not at all out of breath and am reasonably calm. I don’t live in Oregon nor have small children so the law wouldn’t affect me directly, but bad governing affects us all.

      In the present political, economic, sociological and environmental climate, exactly what is the point of starting yet another debate about some non-issue, and in particular proposing a thesis that has no basis in scientific evidence and runs counter to good health habits, urban livability and reduced demand on oil? Are there not enough issues presently available which need careful and well-considered resolution, even legislation? Have Oregon’s representatives not been asked by their constituents for solutions to pressing problems which are more real and more urgent than the HB2228 windmill?

      So, if may humbly and calmly offer some counter advice, I suggest that government representatives in all jurisdictions put on their listening ears.

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    • valkraider January 13, 2011 at 10:24 am

      Thank you for your comment, and your service.

      I believe that the conversation could have been started in a less negative way. Perhaps instead of

      “OMG it is SO dangerous for kids to be on bicycles that we need a law to prevent it”

      We could start the conversation with

      “We need a law to make it easier for people to safely take their kids on bicycles. Lets make it a law that bicycles with children under 6 must have an orange flag and vehicles must give a full lane of space to a bicycle with an orange flag.”

      Or something like that.

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    • Alexis January 13, 2011 at 10:38 am

      “While our original proposal was merely meant to be a discussion-starter, opponents so quickly sunk their teeth into the level of the tax we had proposed…that it became impossible to talk about the tax at all. One of the lessons I learned was to be more careful about the precise form of the bills I introduce, knowing that they might be instantly parodied online.”

      Your use of the word “parodied” here is unfortunate. Proposed bills will be seen and reacted to online. I don’t see any parodying going on. The ability for a quick online response is a recent change in the amount of dialogue in the political process, and I think it’s a fortunate one. If legislators want to start discussion and get feedback, you couldn’t ask for a faster way.

      And maybe the right way for legislators to react is, as you said, to be more careful about the form of the legislation they propose. Why propose a level of taxation that’s too high? Why propose a ban on carrying children by bike? Do some research and propose something that has a solid basis, and maybe the online dialogue will give support to your idea rather than opposition. The reaction to the headphone law has been far more mixed than the reaction to Rep. Greenlick’s proposal, because people recognize that being distracted from your surroundings may be a genuine risk. Many people still disagee with the concept or implementation of the law, of course, but I don’t see people feeling inflamed by it in the same way. If feedback makes for more thought before laws are proposed, then as a citizen I’m all for it.

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    • mrPalomar January 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      Sorry, but it’s absolutely “a better world when legislators are hesitant to propose an idea because it might expose them to vitriol through email or online”.

      We have way too many laws as it is, and I for one am extremely grateful that there are now public means for people to express their disgust at this fact.

      We have gone down a road in this country where every single act that can potentially be harmful to an individual is scrutinized and legislators consistently choose to legislate safety over freedom. Studies have shown that in situations where children are not given freedom to choose their own fates they become incapable of making those decisions when they are presented with them. Is this how we want to treat our citizens?

      I know, I know, think of the children. Somehow this reminds me of the cliched shots of politicians holding babies, and sickens me in the same way…

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    • adam January 15, 2011 at 8:28 am

      how would you recommend I communicate with Salem?

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  • tony January 12, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I am pretty shocked by this. I really assumed that this was a year/month typo. Every close call I have had with my trailer has been due to impatient or distracted drivers. Maybe they should revisit the idea of increasing penalties for motorists who injure or kill vulnerable road users.

    Would Trail-a-bikes fall under this law?

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    • Joe Rowe January 12, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      yes, HB 2228, fine for child under 7 on trail a bike, tag along bike.

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  • Mike January 12, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I hope this guy isn’t towing a 5 year old behind his rascal while wearing headphones. If so, I will take away his Wallmart card

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  • Ben Cannon January 12, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Rep. Greenlick is the Chief Sponsor of a bill that would prohibit spending further money on the Columbia River Crossing unless a high bar for need and viability was met. Rep. Greenlick is not nuts.

    -Ben Cannon

    Joe Rowe
    Spare us the history. It’s not about the small good things people do, it’s about the big bad things they don’t do. Does Mitch Oppose the CRC, that is a huge $4-$10 billion spending to promote driving alone. How many babies could we save with 10 Billion for schools and human services?
    The guy is nuts. If he cared about safety for bikes he would have called the BTA and said “I want to work with you”.

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  • Keith January 12, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    The good doctor seems to have forgotten how the scientific process works whereby one formulates a theory and then through objective observation, proves or disproves that theory.

    As a cyclist and advocate of cycling I am aware of many statistics regarding injury and accidents as they relate to cyclists… but have yet to gather any stats on children being injured while they have been passengers on bicycles.

    If this was a problem… we’d know about it.

    If I want motorists to give me a wide berth all I have to do is hook up my child trailer which does not even carry children anymore… but it carries my dog and my groceries and let me tell you, they are pretty safe.

    I also double my youngest on my extracycle and have never felt that we were taking any undue risks.

    Maybe someone should do a safety study on pink bike helmets, pony tails, and spokee dokes… this combination seems to work as vehicle repellent where I live.

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  • Curt January 12, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I just sent an email to Rep. Greenlick questioning the logic of this House Bill. While a new law might save a life, there is a corresponding cost in freedom and joy for everyone. I encourage others to write him as well!

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  • Allan Folz January 12, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Dear Mr. Greenlick,

    I was surprised and dismayed to read (see http://bikeportland.org/2011/01/12/rep-greenlick-says-safety-concerns-prompted-child-biking-bill-45890) of your introduction of House Bill 2228 stemming from the over-hyped (see http://www.miabirk.com/blog/?p=352) OHSU report on the dangers of bicycle commuting.

    My dismay was from the categorical nature of an outright ban. Have you stopped to consider what a car-less family is expected to do should your proposal pass? What do you tell a family that has decided to spend more of their budget on housing to live close-in to the city center with the trade-off that they have chosen not to own a car?

    My surprise was from your flagrant and repeated logical fallacies in the interview. You started with an obvious appeal to authority vis a vis your position at OHSU. Then you offered obvious false dilemmas suggesting we must do something if just one child’s life be saved, and again with this bill is the only way to get the legislature take up the topic for any further study. I trust as an accomplished college professor you’re smart enough to see all that is wrong with those arguments. Perhaps it was bad reporting. I won’t bore either of us with trying to address them.

    However, there is one issue closer to home I will suggest. I thankfully haven’t heard of any small children getting seriously hurt or killed while riding on a bike with their parents. However, just a couple months ago a toddler in a stroller was killed in North Portland by an elderly driver that ran him over in a crosswalk.

    Mr. Greenlick, elderly drivers are killing children in our city. This is a real issue and something must be done. Please propose a law that individuals over 70 be required to undergo rigorous and regular, I would suggest annual, health screening before being allowed to operate a motor vehicle. It will assuredly save injury and lives.

    I, myself, will refrain from suggesting an outright ban. However, if in your expert opinion such would be required to get the legislature to investigate the issue with any amount of seriousness, I won’t complain. Indeed, I would salute your consistency.

    Regards,
    Allan Folz
    Portland, OR

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    • Kt January 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm

      Allan— this is masterful. I agree wholeheartedly.

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  • John I. January 12, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Jimbo
    “If it’s true that it’s unsafe, we have an obligation to protect people. If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?”
    Based on that statement, shouldn’t we ban cars, alcohol, guns and corn syrup?

    No kidding.

    How about educating the the public how to transport children safely with bikes instead of taking away personal freedoms.

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  • who is really dying? January 12, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    In the past several years no toddlers in bikes have been killed in accidents. However several homeless people have. I propose that we create a law to save lives that requires the ownership of land in order to be able to ride a bicycle. Perhaps an exception could be made for renters.

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  • John I. January 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    I think what worries me the most is the possibility that people NOT in the bike community may try to support this proposal.

    There have been a lot of great statements here. I for one will be calling and e mailing my two cents in first thing in the morning.

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    • Donna January 13, 2011 at 7:02 am

      Spot on and we can add this to the long page of reasons why using proposed legislation (about anything) as an outlet for “discussion” is so wrong.

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  • Ian Cooper January 12, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    This is nuts. I just don’t buy the idea that “it’s just intended to start a conversation”. Bad bills like this only get the chance to be passed if they are proposed. This is not a talking point – it’s a horrible idea that will save no lives. The most it will do is adversely affect low income families who don’t own a car. And this guy is supposedly a democrat? Shame!

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    • wsbob January 13, 2011 at 11:29 am

      “… I just don’t buy the idea that “it’s just intended to start a conversation”. …” Ian Cooper

      Why don’t you think this bill proposal is just for the purpose of starting a discussion? What do you think it’s purpose, or it’s various purposes for having been proposed, is?

      At this point, I don’t think this even is a bill. It’s a bill proposal. There’s a difference; my understanding of the Oregon legislative process is far from thorough, but I don’t think the proposal becomes a bill until after it’s been hashed out and worked on by the committee it goes to next…don’t know yet which committee that is…and is prepared for submission to the Oregon legislature for a vote. Then it goes to the Senate, and then…it goes to the Guv, where laws can sometimes still be vetoed.

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      • Ian Cooper January 13, 2011 at 11:54 am

        I think its purpose is clear – to remove bicycle trailers from the streets so that drivers can happily drive incompetently, secure in the knowledge that their poor driving will not kill any kids.

        And if a bill isn’t serious, isn’t it a waste of my taxpayer money to propose it?

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  • Pat Franz January 12, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    If the goal is to provoke a conversation about lives endangered by travelling, things will quickly come around to “auto drivers not bothering to pay attention”. If you can legislate a solution to that, you will have accomplished something.

    Considering the possibility of bicycle wipeouts with children on board is something all cycling parents should think about. I would have to agree I see some families riding around in ways I wouldn’t, but 99.9% of the time, it brings a smile to see parents and children riding together.

    If the concern is danger to small children due to unaware parents carrying their children in unsafe ways, seems like some research, followed by an educational campaign, would be a more reasonable approach.

    Poking the hornet’s nest to see what comes out is one path to enlightenment, but there are others.

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    • sarah gilbert January 12, 2011 at 10:43 pm

      I don’t agree that the conversation will quickly come around to that. Let’s remember where most of the representatives live: outside of Portland and Eugene. Let’s also assume that very few of them, and very few of the deep-pocketed influencers in the state, are currently parents of young children who bike as their primary means of transportation. (Clearly, Greenwick is not.) In my opinion, the conversation would quickly come around to something else to restrict bicycling with kids (maybe they’ll decide that xtracycles and trail-a-bikes aren’t safe, but trailers are, or that box bikes can only be piloted on streets on the weekends so that they don’t hold up fast fast fast drivers going to important jobs as lobbyists, or that children under age X can’t ride on front seats, etc. etc.). Any less restrictive version of this law is, in my opinion, a terrible reduction of my right to choose my method of transportation (and not to drive a car).

      If I can’t put any of my young children on the bike, that greatly restricts my ability to go anywhere. I’m a mom of three young boys whose school is 3.3 miles away (public school to which we were assigned by PPS due to special ed needs) with a husband 10,000 miles away in Kuwait. If I can’t bike my kids around — or my biking is in any way restricted — I would be forced to either get a car or homeschool or simply leave the kids at home while I go on errands. (many of which have me hauling things home I can’t physically carry in my arms.)

      any version of a restriction on parents carrying children on their bikes (or, horrors, kids biking) is elitist, discriminatory against the poor, and blind to the very real concerns most of us here on Bike Portland share about the destructive effects of excessive car use.

      no way this bill could possibly result in a restriction on driving. no way.

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      • Katie January 13, 2011 at 12:15 am

        This is my main concern as well: that if the point is to spark “dialogue” and we wind up with a “compromise,” that will still mean restricting personal freedoms, primarily those of women, with NO substantial data to justify those restrictions.

        I’d love to see a serious university study examining the dangers AND benefits of transporting kids by bike. In fact, I’d love to see several of them, with different methodologies, in different places. And THEN, I’d love to see an EDUCATIONAL CAMPAIGN based on the results, helping us all to ride more safely.

        But even if such a study said, say, that kids on bikes are just as much at risk as kids in cars (which is to say, pretty substantial risk), an outright ban would not be warranted. “Get in a car or stay home” is not an acceptable message for our communities, our environment, or our children.

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  • Brian E. January 12, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    If you want to save lives then get the scofflaws to follow the laws we already have. More enforcement, stiffer penalties, loss of driving privilege for scofflaw road users. And by road users I mean drivers, bikers and pedestrians.

    Leave it to an academic to create new rules when giving someone a swift kick in the butt would get better results.

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  • ecogrrl January 12, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    I disagree that this was just brought in to be a ‘discussion’. Do a study, don’t initiate a bill. This seems quite twisted to me. As a car-free cyclist, I’ve seen a variety of both driving and cycling styles, and flagrant disrespect for the road – on both sides (including a parent with a child in a trailer in the rain swerving all over Ainsworth the other day). Cops need to focus on enforcing cyclists who are going through red lights, riding erratically, and other actions that are similar to what drivers get pulled over for. Taking a parent’s right to have their kid attached to their bike? An action of ignorance from someone I’m guessing doesn’t bike commute. KATU had a good interview with Clever Cycles tonight – a positive for this situation.

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  • From Los Angeles January 12, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Maybe he wants kids riding their own bikes. It is completely unfair to say bikes shouldn’t carry more than one person yet a car, which has an awful safety track record, can carry between 2 and 8 or 9 people.

    Can hardly believe this man is a professor, guess he’s not very well rounded, doesn’t take much to realize placing the burdens on cyclists for ‘safety’ is the wrong choice. The COUNTRY WITH THE SAFEST STREETS IN THE WORLD, the Netherlands, would never suggest such a law. Why don’t we model what they do there to achieve greater levels of safety? They must be doing something right there, right?!

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  • Scott Batchelar January 13, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Dear Mr. Greenlick,

    My name is Scott Batchelar and I am one of your constituents, I currently live at the Sitka Apartments on NW 12th and Northrup in the Pearl District.

    As of June of 2010 I made bicycling my primary mode of transportation around the Portland Metropolitan Area and as I have been riding one thing I have noticed here in your district is the large numbers of your constituents with young children who are doing the same thing.

    In my apartment building I know of 5-10 families who regularly ride bikes with their children and if this bill were to pass it would affect these families in a way that would not be healthy or good.

    I was surprised and dismayed today to read an article by my friend Jonathan Maus the editor of
    Bike Portland.
    (see http://bikeportland.org/2011/01/12/rep-greenlick-says-safety-concerns-prompted-child-biking-bill-45890) of your introduction of House Bill 2228 stemming from the over-hyped (see http://www.miabirk.com/blog/?p=352) OHSU report on the dangers of bicycle commuting.

    My dismay was from the categorical nature of an outright ban. Have you stopped to consider what a car-less family is expected to do should your proposal pass? What do you tell a family that has decided to spend more of their budget on housing to live close-in to the city center with the trade-off that they have chosen not to own a car?

    As I mentioned I personally know numerous families in your district that use bikes as a main form of transportation, what will you tell them if this proposal becomes law?

    My surprise was from your flagrant and repeated logical fallacies in the interview. You started with an obvious appeal to authority vis a vis your position at OHSU. Then you offered obvious false dilemmas suggesting we must do something if just one child’s life be saved, and again with this bill is the only way to get the legislature to take up the topic for any further study. I trust as an accomplished college professor you’re smart enough to see all that is wrong with those arguments. Perhaps it was bad reporting. I won’t bore either of us with trying to address them.

    Thankfully I haven’t heard of any small children getting seriously hurt or killed while riding on a bike with their parents and have participated in a wonderful program called kidical mass which gives parents and their children opportunities to do a very healthy activity together this bill you are proposing will completely end that and that is something I can not support.

    As one of your constituents this is a bill I can not and will not support, I understand your reasons for proposing this and I applaud your wanting to open debate on this issue but I wonder if this is the right way to go about this.

    Sincerely Yours,
Scott Batchelar

    This is a copy of the letter I just sent to my representative Mitch Greenlick, I did copy some of the points from other commenters on this string and for that I apologize and thank the individuals I borrowed from.

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  • wsbob January 13, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Representative Greenlick’s comments to maus generally leave me feeling certain that he’s not really out to ban people from carrying kids on their bikes or in bike trailers, but rather:

    “…to discuss the issue and start a debate.”

    Later in his above story, maus states that: “…Greenlick maintains that he is simply trying to start a discussion. …”

    For now, this as Greenlick’s stated intention with introduction of the bill is o.k., but I have to wonder why, by way of the text used for bill proposal, he chose such a blunt approach to raising the issue of safety associated with transporting kids by bike, and also…whether before forwarding the bill text, he might not have considered text with a substance that was a little more practical and down to earth.

    For example: regarding bike trailers specifically, I would really have appreciated Greenlick proposing legislative discussion towards a possible law, that sought to improve the safety by way of construction and lighting, that bike trailers could provide their passengers with. Most bike trailers I’ve seen are incredibly flimsy affairs made of nylon fabric and aluminum tubing that likely are not capable of protecting their passengers against as little as a 3-5mph impact from a motor vehicle. Even motor vehicles…the vehicle, not the occupants…have better protection via the fancy foam composite bumpers.

    Rep. Greenlick could do just a little better job of keeping the substance in text of the bills he sponsors, a little lower down under the stratosphere where everyone…including himself…can breathe a little easier and think constructively. That would be closer to the idea of actually working together with his public.

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  • Psyfalcon January 13, 2011 at 12:29 am

    If I need to get somewhere, I’ll use Barbur or Canyon Road, I like riding on 26 from the zoo. I’ll take tricky connections using Powell and those dotted red lines on the Portland Bike Map.

    I wont touch half the places I ride if there is someone less experienced with me, nevermind a child following or on my bike.

    Using a study of bike commuters to guage the risk to children does not sit well with me.

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    • Nathan January 13, 2011 at 10:10 am

      Psyfalcon, good point. This is just one more way Rep. Greenlick’s thinking, as reported here, falls very far short. The fact that he’s trained as an epidemiologist (and presumably training others, as a professor) makes it so more more baffling.

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  • pat January 13, 2011 at 12:35 am
  • Zaphod January 13, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Of all the political things I have heard, a bill such as this will get my full advocacy mojo on. I’ll fight this thing with all that I have. It’s about freedom.

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  • roger noehren January 13, 2011 at 1:05 am

    I rode on my dad’s bike until I was four, when I got my own bike and rode around Frankfurt, Germany and then Palo Alto, CA (on quieter neighborhood streets). He taught me the rules of the road and how to ride safely. I never learned how to drive.
    I carried my daughter in a bike seat and a trailer around Portland in the early 80′s until she was old enough to ride her own bike (five). She now rides her bike around Brooklyn, NY (she was a good driver as a teenager, but hasn’t owned a car for over 10 years).

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  • resopmok January 13, 2011 at 1:38 am

    Why are new laws always the answer for making things safer? As living, breathing, thinking human beings I think it’s okay to put some responsibility in people’s own laps, namely their and their family’s health and well being. Lots of children die in this country from things like hunger and neglect, but Greenlick wants to focus on children in bike trailers and have a discussion with public money about its related risk assessment? It may sound callous but yes, don’t waste your time and my tax money on something that might save the life of one child when you could be spending it all on something that would save the lives of multiple, perhaps even many children. We need well thought out ideas brought to a discussion table in order to get real, grown-up work done. Next on the docket for Oregon legislators: a law requiring padded floors in all delivery rooms just in case the doctor does drop you on your head..

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  • Roland January 13, 2011 at 1:54 am

    So much for everyone calming down and taking a deep breath!

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  • Roland January 13, 2011 at 2:09 am

    BTW I do think it’s a wacky idea. Of all the dangers to cyclists, I don’t believe “too many kids on bikes” is one of them. I’m not worried about getting run over by a bakfiets full of toddlers. I’m worried about getting hit by a CAR. A BIG CAR. The kind of car the woman with the toddlers would be forced to drive, if this bill were passed. Forcing more people to drive cars makes the roads more dangerous; hence such a bill would be counterproductive to its own stated goal. It probably won’t make it out of committee, now let’s move on shall we, the Bike Snob is watching our histrionics!

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  • Ian Cooper January 13, 2011 at 5:09 am

    I’ll bet one thing is for sure – Rep. Greenlick is probably finding out that issuing this particular bill as a way to ‘start a conversation’ is going to give him a lot to think about. I suspect every mail slot he has – email, snail mail etc., is being stuffed to bursting.

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  • DP January 13, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Before I moved out of state, I constantly rode all over Portland and Beaverton with my son in a trailer, and never once even came close to having a problem with a car. My son was able to go exploring with me as we found many areas that if I had been driving I would have driven past.

    To even think that this should be a law is absurd.

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  • Duncan January 13, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Sir,
    I am writing to express my concern about your bill. It would seriously effect the lives of all Oregonians, particularly the less wealthy, it is not based on relevant research and would lead to unintended consequences.

    Many years ago, when my son was young, my wife and I had little money. We could not leave the child with a sitter while we ran errands or exercised- he came with us. If we had been unable to afford a car (a close thing form me in those days), and instead been bike dependent (as many people are in Portland), what would we have done? Stayed home? Been forced to shop at places we could walk to with a toddler?

    The study you site does not address the specifics of people biking with children- when I have biked with children (either in tow or on their own bikes) I have made a point of route choosing based on that factor- and I suspect I am not alone. I rarely see kids on trailers on busy streets, but regularly on bikeways. Give parents some credit for thinking ahead.

    Lastly this study reminds me of a story in the book “A History of Rape” in which the author tells of a serial rapist at large in Tel Aviv. The counsel suggests a curfew for women “for their protection”. At the meeting a woman stands up and says “it is not a woman who is breaking the law. Perhaps MEN should have a curfew”. The number one cause of bike crashes are the driving habits of Americans. If you want to protect children I suggest that you focus your efforts on removing problem drivers from the streets.

    Thank you for your time,
    Duncan N…3

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    • q`Tzal January 13, 2011 at 7:19 am

      Duncan
      Sir,
      Lastly this study reminds me of a story in the book “A History of Rape” in which the author tells of a serial rapist at large in Tel Aviv. The counsel suggests a curfew for women “for their protection”. At the meeting a woman stands up and says “it is not a woman who is breaking the law. Perhaps MEN should have a curfew”. The number one cause of bike crashes are the driving habits of Americans. If you want to protect children I suggest that you focus your efforts on removing problem drivers from the streets.

      +5 for getting to the heart of the issue.

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    • Duncan January 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      and my reply to Rep Greenlik’s respoonse:
      Justin,
      Thank you for taking the time to get back to me. My concern is that the number one threat to bicyclists is the low standards to which we hold ODL holders in this state- the DMV books and tests do not focus enough on the responsibilities of Drivers regarding vunerable road users, and many drivers are completrely unaware that bicycles have a right to the roadway, much less safe passage. Also our overly lax DUI laws and DWS laws mean that people who get caught DUI/DWS have little fear of jail time. Also the states involuntary mansleughter laws make it impossible to hold people accountable who kill bicyclists and pedestrians while driving in an unsafe manner.

      Any one of these would save the lives of adults and children, on bikes and in cars- there are many existing laws in other states that can be used as a template in all of these matters. You can tell your boss that when he gets serious about saving lives he will prtect people from getting hit by getting rid of the people who hit them. He can also address car drivers who cut through bike lanes while he is at it, and people who speed in neighborhoods.

      I have biked in Portland for 15 years, had two accidents. One was caused by a driver speeding, another by a driver turning while not signaling and talking on a cell phone. I have never suffered trauma on a bike without some car causing me to act quicly to avoid getting killed.

      But that would place a burden on the majority (car drivers) to do the right thing, not the minority (bicyclists) who have every right to be on the road. It would penalize hardest the working poor. When I was a young parent the only reason I could afford to drive is that my employer paid my insurance. I know many young parents now in the same istuatiion. He should try and protect them and not penalizer them for the poor choices of others.

      I am not one of Rep. Greenlik’s constuents, but I have already written my representative, and if he does not drop this bill I swear I will donate money to any candidate who opposes him for the Democratic Primary. That is how strongly I feel about this.

      Thank you for your time.

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  • w January 13, 2011 at 6:44 am

    How to kill this bill? Simple. This would kill JOBS. All those workers building trailers and what not would loose those jobs.

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  • Donna January 13, 2011 at 7:08 am

    ecogrrl
    I disagree that this was just brought in to be a ‘discussion’. Do a study, don’t initiate a bill. This seems quite twisted to me.

    I’m quite sure that he means what he says and he’s probably right that legislation-as-discussion-tool is what they do down in Salem. For me, this open up a larger question: Is this how we (as their employers) want our elected officials (essentially our employees) to be doing their job? If we think this is ok, we’ll continue to get more of the same.

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  • Donna January 13, 2011 at 7:10 am

    I deeply regret having participated in that OHSU study.

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    • adam January 15, 2011 at 8:30 am

      they wanted me to be in that study – I am like, so you want to track all my bike riding? well, the people who ride with me know how I ride. Are the results of the study public? would love to see a linky

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  • RobynHeud January 13, 2011 at 7:22 am

    If we’re going to ban children from riding bikes because it could “save one life”, then we need to ban all motor vehicles as well, because, as any real set of statistics will tell you, children are far more likely to die in a car crash. That’s the issue with bills that are designed to protect the few (or in this case, as it seems, none): They tend to strip the liberties and freedoms of the many, all without providing a measureable impact. Stoplights, great; seatbelts, even better; banning children under 6 from riding bikes, even when wearing helmets: a waste of time.

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  • Alivia C. January 13, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Clearly this proposed bill has already caused an enormous debate about the bill as well as the political process. I love my time on my bike (xtracycle with kid bike seat and bike trailer) with my children. I crave more time sharing this with them. I look forward to hearing more about the safety for them (since obviously I want to maximize this), but I hope we can move towards communities more like Amsterdam that support more community bicycling and safer streets for bicycles with and without our children.

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  • Jack January 13, 2011 at 8:01 am

    “If it’s true that it’s unsafe, we have an obligation to protect people. If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?”

    -Rep. Greenlick

    So…how about make cars illegal? Or airplanes? Or sports? Or guns? Corners on toys? Anything with a string long enough to wrap around a neck?

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  • wally January 13, 2011 at 8:04 am

    If he wanted to gather more information, couldn’t he have introduced a bill to fund a study on the dangers (if any) of transporting children by bicycle? He clearly has made certain assumptions and, in doing so, has put the cart before the bike.

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  • matt picio January 13, 2011 at 8:47 am

    “If we find that carrying kids on the back of a bike isn’t safe”. Hmm. That’s a good point. Since we already know that carrying kids under 6 in a car, even with primary and secondary restraint systems, shouldn’t we also introduce a bill preventing the transport of any child under 6 in an automobile?

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  • Robert January 13, 2011 at 9:00 am

    If this is the way a pro-active legislative conversation is started in Salem then this is a pretty good indication that the system is broken. Few of us in our personal lives would ever use such assbackwards logic. All the posters including other Reps trying to defend this nonsense as business as usual in Salem shouldn’t be surprised that very little if any positive legislation around making Portland a first class cycling city ever gets accomplished . We just skirt around the edges of pretend legislation and probably wouldn’t even have that if not for the good folks at the BTA and a few others lobbying their guts out. Lets get real about the fact that this is a car dominant culture and any attempts to dislodge that reality get seriously crushed by so many vested interests. This curmudgeon of a legislator has no clue about much regarding bicycles, safety or creating a progressively greener, multi-modal transportation city and chose a seriously wrong approach to solving any real problems. This is a whole lot of legislative masturbation at best. Starting the conversation with the premise that disenfranchising young families will get us to the right solution is nuts. “Shame on you Rep. Mitch Greenlick”. So I will not remain calm and I will call BS on this nonsense immediately and so should everyone else until our voices are clearly heard in Salem! Figure out who your people are and write them immediately. I get that the Rep job sucks and that it pays really poorly and the hours are crappy but so do low wage jobs that only afford a bike and a trailer for your kid even if you wanted a car sometimes on the nasty days. So lets upgrade the poorest of us all to a truly safe bicycle infrastructure instead of taking away rights.

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  • Brad January 13, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Has anyone stopped to ponder that the dialogue Rep. Greenlick seeks to start could also very well lead to an omnibus bike safety bill? A package that might also lead to mandatory safe passing distances, stronger vulnerable roadway user protections, bike awareness training for drivers, etc? A beautiful pearl starts as an annoying grain of sand.

    Proposed legislation seldom ever gets through in a pure form. Additions, subtractions, compromises, etc. are part of the legislative process. It would not surprise me if the freedom to haul your child in a trailer is left alone but, legislators from both sides of the aisle agree that auto drivers must adhere to new safety measures to minimize the chances of both adults and children on bikes getting killed.

    Rather than crucify Rep. Greenlick, why not educate him in a positive way and ask him to be a voice on other bike safety needs? The lack of big picture thinking and civics knowledge here astounds me.

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    • Ian Cooper January 13, 2011 at 11:01 am

      That’s what worries me. An omnibus bike safety package with this as its beginning might include similarly daffy laws. An omnibus bike safety law should start off on the right foot. It should not begin with a ludicrously short-sighted and actually inherently deadly idea.

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  • k. January 13, 2011 at 9:04 am

    The “saving one child’s life” explanation is touching and all but it’s a lousy rational for proposing laws. It’s statistically insignificant. And don’t come back at me with a ‘but what if it was YOUR child’ argument. That doesn’t change a thing. It’s still irrelevant.

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  • Max in Eugene January 13, 2011 at 9:08 am

    2228 is a frivolous bill, plain and simple. Rep. Greenlick is clearly unaware of that newfangled World Wide Web. You don’t need to waste congressional time (however “free” it supposedly is) to start a statewide conversation.

    The “trauma” described in the OHSU study, which Rep. Greenlick’s proposal is based, is defined techinically — i.e. if I hit a pothole and fall over, skinning my elbow, that’s trauma. Nevermind that the pothole has been there for months; it’s a bike-related trauma! For most people, it would be just an annoyance, but for a proactive (read: intrusive nanny-state-ist) legislator it’s cause for a new law! But wait, rather than making a law that mandates prioritized pothole repair in common bike traffic areas let’s make it illegal to bike with children there! Yeah, that will make it safer! Right out of Mark Twain, I tell ya.

    The ironic bit here is that rather than making people safer, parents with children (at least here in Eugene) will bike anyway, and the state legislature’s credibility level will sink a little more, as everyone will be just that much more cynical when it comes to annoying Oregon state laws.

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  • Another Doug January 13, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Folks really ought to read and re-read Ben Cannon’s post and then ask themselves if they really think that calling a member of the legislature crazy or nuts really helps the cause. The bill undoubtedly won’t pass as information about the relative dangers of children riding on bikes and in cars is developed and shared with legislators. However, the attitudes and name calling will endure as legislators consider other bills that also are important to bicycling.

    Many of the comments here put Sarah Palin and Fox “news” to shame. So much for thoughtful political dialog.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 13, 2011 at 9:16 am

      Another Doug wrote:

      Many of the comments here put Sarah Palin and Fox “news” to shame. So much for thoughtful political dialog.

      I think you might have just skimmed the first few comments. I’m actually quite proud of many of the thoughtful reactions posted here. And I also think people have every right to call this idea “nuts” and “crazy” because it is. Political action comes with consequences and I’m amazed that such a veteran lawmaker has made the calculation that the best first move to act on a legislative concern is to propose a bill that is completely inappropriate right out of the box. Saying these comments “put Fox news to shame” is absolutely inaccurate in my opinion.

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      • wsbob January 13, 2011 at 11:53 am

        “… And I also think people have every right to call this idea “nuts” and “crazy” because it is. …” maus

        If the bill proposal Greenlick has sponsored, which next will go to legislative committee for discussion, and preparation for vote by the legislature, the senate, and the guv; that’s if it even makes it out of committee.) were to become law, that would be “… nuts …”.

        Bringing it to a committee to open a discussion is not nuts. Well…not really, though I think Greenlick could have, and would have been smarter to have introduced a transportation of child by bike or bike trailer bill proposal that would served for more constructive discussion.

        I’ll be surprised if this bill proposal even makes it out of committee. Anyone reading here happen to remember another controversial bike related bill proposal that went to committee but didn’t make the cut? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think one of them may have been the one that would have waived fixies from having a brake, such as a caliper brake.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm

          wsbob,

          It’s an official bill. Ask yourself… What if there was no BTA, no BikePortland, no active constituency of people that care about bicycling issues? What if the bill came up in committee and a few other legislators agreed with Greenlick’s mistaken perception of the relative dangers on our roads and decided to move the bill forward?

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          • wsbob January 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm

            maus…as I understand Oregon Legislative process (about which I’m sure there’s more I could yet learn.) if enough legislators on the committee the bill proposal goes to next, agreed with the proposals current text, it would make it to the house floor. At that point, it would have to stand the scrutiny of all the Oregon House Representatives, and a vote of their approval, before going on to the Senate, and finally to the Governor, before it would become law.

            This is a fairly lengthy process that’s not going to happen overnight, and as I’ve ventured in other comments to both threads on this subject here on bikeportland, I doubt that the proposal Greenlick has sponsored will ever become law, if it ever even makes it out of committee. During that time, of course the BTA, readers and staff of bikeportland, regular citizens, and bike advocates would hear about a bill proposal like this, and take steps to let their legislative reps know how they feel about it.

            Is the bill proposal “… an official bill …”? Did someone with knowledge or authority about such things tell you at what point specifically in the legislative process, a bill proposal becomes and official bill? I’m being honest in telling you that I’m not absolutely sure a bill proposal not yet having made it out of whatever study committee it has to pass through before going to House vote, is not an ‘official bill’, but it stands to reason it would not be.

            As I understand it, that’s because it’s in this committee the bill will be going to, that the proposal can be altered, changed, improved, modified, etc., etc., to finally become an ‘official bill’, rather than an ‘official bill proposal’. I could be certainly be wrong on this point, and would welcome clarification by anyone with reliable knowledge about the steps of the legislative process.

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  • Nat West January 13, 2011 at 9:16 am

    If we admit that the way to “start a discussion” is to propose a bill that Mitch has no serious intention of bringing to a vote, why couldn’t he have proposed one to make biking safer for all riders? Or one to make walking safer for pedestrians?

    Mitch really should be severely admonished for the foolish direction he took on this bill.

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  • drew January 13, 2011 at 9:22 am

    why save one life when you can save thousands of lives by changing the minimum driving age to 18, and having a maximum driving age as 75 (as some European countries, like Germany (I think).

    It’s the ends of the age spectrum that are putting most people in pine boxes..

    May I suggest legislating a PRIVILEGE (driving), instead of a RIGHT. We have a right to walk and peddle bikes on the public right of way.

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  • Bill January 13, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Id say the biggest risk towards children being towed by bicycles are inattentive drivers. why dont we focus on the cause of the problem instead of compromising the rights of individuals to shuttle their families.

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  • El Biciclero January 13, 2011 at 9:41 am

    I searched for two minutes on the Google and came across this page from the Centers for Disease Control. Of particular interest was the link to this report that outlines some of the major causes of child injuries and deaths.

    If this report by the CDC is to be believed, then there are several much more dangerous activities that we urgently need to ban before more children are killed. Among these things are:
    – Carrying children in motor vehicles
    – Allowing children to cross the street
    – Driving motor vehicles in general
    – Swimming pools
    – Soft pillows and plastic bags
    – Matches
    – Poisonous household chemicals

    Banning these activities and items would literally and with absolute certainty save the lives of hundreds of children–isn’t that better than passing a law that might save “just one child”?

    While I understand that this proposed bill is just “a discussion starter”, it is interesting to me that this particular issue is used to start a discussion on child safety, when there are clearly much more dangerous things threatening our children. This “discussion” will serve to derail conversations about other potential laws that might actually make cyclists safer, such as a vehicular homicide statute. If I were not giving Mr. Greenlick the benefit of the doubt, I would almost think that this is a diversionary tactic to sap energy from cycling advocates that would be better spent on more pressing issues.

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    • adam January 15, 2011 at 8:30 am

      well said. nice documentation, also.

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  • andy January 13, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Don’t know if this made it into the comments yet, but this 2008 Oregon DHS study (http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/ipe/docs/report2008v2_2.pdf) says that Motor Vehicle Traffic is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 0 and 14.

    Rep. Greenlick, if you are committed to making childhood safer, I suggest you amend your law to read that no child be permitted in or near a motor vehicle until they are voting age.

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  • craig January 13, 2011 at 9:53 am

    My email this morning to Rep. Greenlick:

    Rep. Greenlick,

    I don’t know where to begin, I am so outraged by your bill and your comments to the press about it.

    Carrying a child in a car, with an approved child seat and restraints, is unsafe. How unsafe, in measured terms? Do you know? Is it statistically safer to transport a child by car than by bicycle? Do you know? It is reckless and disingenuous of you to introduce a bill to address an alleged problem without providing the public with any objective justification for it.

    Have you consulted with experts to evaluate the potential impact of such a bill, should it become law? Devastating. As a professor of public health, you have to understand the crushing effect on peoples’ health of inactive lifestyles, and bicycles as transportation–for families, for everyone–is the one and only viable public policy which has even a glimmer of hope of turning the tide on inactivity-caused health problems, which you must know are the TOP health problems we face.

    I don’t believe you when you say you’re just trying to start a discussion. It’s irresponsible to use the legislative process to start a public discussion, but I don’t believe that irresponsibility is what’s at play here; you come off in the press on this issue as uninformed, dispassionate, and aimless, but I don’t believe these are contributing factors here. I believe you have something else in mind, though what it is I shudder to think–I only hope I’m wrong about it, and that you’re being merely obtuse and misguided.

    Please consult the statistics provided by the NHTSA, and make intelligent remarks in the press about the relative safety of transporting children by bikes vs. cars.

    Please instigate and inspire intelligent discussion, rather than stoking an emotional public fire. Show your intelligence, not just your sentimentality.

    Sincerely
    Craig Harlow – husband and father of five who transports them all by bicycles

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  • Michael, Portland Afoot January 13, 2011 at 10:00 am

    “(he has not proposed any such measures, nor has anyone else)”

    Devastating.

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  • Val January 13, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Alright, then, if saving the lives of children is what you want, here’s how it is done: http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2011/01/stop-child-murder.html Outlawing every little thing that you think might be “unsafe” is just silly. Step up or go home.

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  • deborah January 13, 2011 at 10:04 am

    kj
    Wow, I am disappointed a professor from a prestigious university wouldn’t propose a study on biking with children before proposing a law against it…

    Whole-heartedly agree kj!

    Who on earth proposes a law to start a conversation?

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  • Davis Woods-Morse January 13, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Is this how the legislative process works in Oregon? That haphazardly? No consulting with members of the appropriate caucus, sounding out your likely supporters? If Greenlick put the bill in the hopper without the hope of it advancing but just to garner press for himself and to distract us from doing positive things to advance bike ridership, the shame is quadrupled. In all likelihood, he hopes for five minutes of the bully pulpit to discourage the timid from riding with their children. Toward that end, he has already succeeded.

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  • Curt January 13, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Couldn’t help noticing this story from New Jersey: “N.J. lawmaker withdraws proposal to require license plates for bicycles” TRENTON — Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Essex) has withdrawn her proposal for a bill that would have required bicycles to be registered.

    “My intention was never to impose a burden or additional costs,” Tucker said in a statement. “My goal was to at least begin a discussion of how best to protect elderly pedestrians. No idea is perfect, but protecting elderly pedestrians deserves attention.”

    (http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/01/nj_lawmaker_withdraws_proposed.html)

    Is this how all politicians “begin a discussion”?

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  • tonyt January 13, 2011 at 10:12 am

    “If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?”

    No.

    Why? Because it is not Rep. Greenlick’s job to raise my child and not my job to raise anyone else’s. He is not in a position to understand what sort of experience I have with bikes. He is not in a position to know where I live. He is not in a position to assess a whole host of things that factor into the decisions that my wife and I make.

    Sure perhaps this could save one child that is not in a trailer, but then it could also kill another child that is hit by a car that has to be driven. It could kill a pedestrian who would otherwise be saved by the calming affect that the presence of more bikes has on traffic.

    Given that Greenlick is a professor of public health at OHSU, surely he knows that inactivity and unhealthy eating habits represent a MUCH larger threat to children. Perhaps he should outlaw letting kids from sitting inside and watching TV, or perhaps from drinking pop, or from living in neighborhoods without parks for them to run around in.

    I’m not going to “calm down” and entertain Greenlick’s deliberative process. It is on its face offensive and disrespectful to me and others as parents. He has picked a fight with the wrong constituency.

    This whole approach focuses on those who are doing the right thing and ignores the speeding 3,000 pound bull in the china shop.

    If he wants to save children, how about freeing up Portland to make its own speed limit decisions. How about demanding zero-tolerance speed enforcement. As it is, cops won’t give speeding tickets to cars in 25 mph neighborhoods until they’re going at least 10 mph over the limit. I’ve gotten this directly from independent sources in the traffic division and PBOT.

    This is wrongheaded and threatens to undo so much progress we’ve made in the last 10 or so years. I can’t even believe that this is happening in Portland. Shame.

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    • adam January 15, 2011 at 8:31 am

      I really do think you would make a great mayor.

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  • Neil January 13, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Where’s the bill that would more harshly punish the operator of a 2 ton vehicle that injures people on bikes and people walking? Put the responsibility on those that would cause the harm. This is just putting the blame on the potential victims.

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  • Rep. Val Hoyle January 13, 2011 at 10:24 am

    As a longtime cyclist and one who transported both of my children by bike trailer or trailer cycle until they could comfortably ride their own bikes, I do not support this bill. I worked in the bicycle industry for 25 years, 8 years of which I spent selling Burley trailers. I spoke with Rep. Greenlick about his bill and offered to get him info on bicycle trailer safety.

    I have the great honor of serving on the health care committee with Rep. Greenlick and Rep. Cannon, they are both intelligent, thoughtful and have the best interests of Oregonians at heart. My prediction is that this bill will die in committee. However, it will give us an opportunity to discuss the benefits of family cycling with a broader audience and potentially build new alliances within the legislature and throughout our state which would be a good outcome.

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    • robert January 13, 2011 at 2:33 pm

      Boy what a pathetic way to get a conversation started that you have to go about it in such a roundabout way as proposing outrageously egregious legislation to end up at some other point of discussion? Have you all thought about just being straightforward and succinct right out of the gate? The shortest distance between two points is still a straight line except evidently in the Oregon legislature where common sense direction to address issues is a willy nilly chaotic free for all. I find it unbelieveable that anyone would defend this kind of perverse logic or not be embarrassed to admit that this is how the system works or in this case doesn’t work? This is absolutely insanse! What a bunch of nonsense that Rep. Greenlick is doing anything but chucking a brick into a window to see if it breaks.

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    • eli bishop January 13, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      Thank you for speaking up & educating Rep. Greenlick, Rep. Hoyle!

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  • Brad January 13, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Hmmm..the last legislative session proved the BTA to be politically impotent. They couldn’t even get a common sense vehicular homicide bill out of committee and went all in on “Idaho Stop” only to get slapped down.

    Why would any legislator reach out to BTA in an unsolicited way? The BTA needs legislative allies more than elected officials need to seek BTA’s counsel.

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    • Gerik January 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      Brad,

      Here is a quick history lesson for you on the BTA’s successful advocacy to put tens of millions of dollars on the table to fund active transportation during the 2009 Legislative session.

      http://www.bta4bikes.org/btablog/2011/01/12/tell-your-story-help-support-bicycle-projects-for-odot-flexible-funding-program/

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      • Brad January 13, 2011 at 2:56 pm

        This is some big victory that I should applaud? A driver can still kill a cyclist on Oregon’s roads for just a $242 fine and no worry of any jail time but since a handful of bike riders will have an easier time getting to and from Swan Island then BTA can hang the “Mission Accomplished!” banner?

        Sorry, I don’t share your pride. Get some legal protections for cyclists and pedestrians along with heavy penalties for negligent drivers that cause harm to those two constituencies and I’ll be impressed. More infrastructure tailored to a small number of riders/potential converts? Sounds more like a jobs stimulus plan for PBOT and Alta than a real game changer for riders and walkers.

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  • Matthew Denton January 13, 2011 at 11:09 am

    I still want to see the “mandatory helmets for minors in cars” law. I know in my personal case, it would have kept me out of the hospital when I was 6. On the other hand, I’ve never ‘needed’ a bicycle helmet, even though I wear one anyways.

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  • Spiffy January 13, 2011 at 11:12 am

    “I don’t think it will discourage people from biking.”

    how could this NOT discourage people with small children from biking?

    “Everybody should just stay calm,”

    yes, I’m sure our government would love that… luckily for us we have amendments that protect us from a government oppressing our freedoms…

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  • Oh Word? January 13, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Mr. Maus,

    I’ve never taken the time to tell you how much I appreciate you and the work that you do.

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  • Nathan January 13, 2011 at 11:23 am

    My letter to the representative is below. Thanks to the good examples and intelligent comments above for helping me rein in my fingers. The letter I initially wanted to write didn’t read this way:

    Dear Representative Greenlick,

    I’m writing from Southern Oregon in response to your introduction of HB 2228. I’m copying my representative, Peter Buckley. I am a daily bicycle commuter and a father who transports my young daughter by bike trailer.

    I appreciate your work on behalf of public health, and am glad your current legislative interests include the safety of children transported by bicycle. However, I believe HB 2228 approaches the problem from the wrong end.

    I understand from your comments to Jonathan Maus, as reported on BikePortland.org, that your bill is intended to open a discussion, and probably not to pass in its present form. But I believe you have started the wrong discussion, which could result in a number of setbacks to bicycle transportation and enjoyment in Oregon. I urge you to consider any of the following instead:

    * Study the various methods for transporting children by bicycle to establish which are safest, and mount a public education campaign with the results.
    * Introduce legislation that raises the bar for earning a driver’s license.
    * Introduce legislation requiring periodic driver’s license review after a certain age.
    * Work with the BTA to increase legal protection for vulnerable roadway users.
    * Advocate for the expansion of infrastructure for active transportation.

    Please consider distancing yourself from this discussion of restricting the victims of injury, and work instead to limit the causes of that injury.

    Thank you,
    Nathan Broom
    Jacksonville, OR

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  • Rafa January 13, 2011 at 11:56 am

    This is NOT how to start a conversation. OPPOSED.

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  • Jason S. January 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Thank you, Ben for taking the time to comment here. And you are right: Rep Greenlick is generally the cat’s pajamas. State legislators have what is practically a thank-less job. so we should appreciate great ones like Mitch and Ben.

    Proposing bills is how conversations are started there. It is just how it works when you have 90 legislators from all over the state, and millions of people with interests in the legislature. Anyone have a better idea?

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    • craig January 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm

      Yes: do some basic homework on the issue and provide intelligent background BEFORE introducing a bill.

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  • brady January 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Sent to Greenlick:

    Representative Greenlick,

    My wife and I voted for you in the last election, and I must say that I am disappointed in learning of your intent to propose a bill prohibiting children from under 6 from riding in a bike seat or trailer. My wife is due with our first child in 5 days, and we are in the process of relocating to a flatter neighborhood precisely so we CAN enjoy bike and stroller excursions with our daughter, in addition to lessening our dependence on our car. The bill you propose would have a negative impact on our family, and many others. In our new location, we will live 1.5 miles from the grocery, bank, etc. This is inconvenient for a walk, but perfectly convenient for a stroll on the bike—and, for people who like biking as we do, inexcusably short for a trip in the car. As someone who has biked 6,000 – 8,000 miles per year in the past, I can say without question that the routes I will choose, the speeds I will travel, and even the type of bike I will ride, will be quite different when traveling with my daughter, than when traveling alone or with a group of adults.

    You state: “If it’s true that it’s unsafe, we have an obligation to protect people. If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?” First of all, there is nothing intrinsically unsafe about riding a bike. Driving a 2-plus ton vehicle willfully, wantonly and distractedly—that is unsafe. Walking around without a helmet is not considered unsafe, but it isn’t “safe” to be hit in the head with a baseball bat. Each year, people die from being hit in the head with bats and other blunt objects. Would you introduce a bill to require all citizens to wear football helmets outdoors? It would be better to focus your efforts on the people who carry bats.

    If you’re truly interested in saving lives, perhaps you will consider the following; I have conveniently arranged them in increasing order of expected efficacy:

    a) Putting real teeth in the “vulnerable roadway users” law—how about a fine of $15,000 (or 6 month’s pay, whichever is greater) and a 1-year license suspension for hitting a cyclist or pedestrian with a motor vehicle. Everyone knows that cyclists don’t simply fall over, nor pedestrians fall to the ground. Of course, this must be coupled with teeth in the punishment for hit-and-runs—a good start would be forfeiture of the vehicle, 1 year in prison, and revocation of driving privileges for life.

    b) Limiting motor vehicle operation to those citizens between 25 and 70 years of age: it is well known that people outside this demographic experience a considerably higher rate of motor vehicle accidents than those within this demographic. Judiciously narrowing this band—for example, to those between 44 and 45 years of age—would further optimize results. While you’re at it, you might as well prohibit red cars, as those are positively correlated with accidents. Let’s not worry about correlation vs. causation and the fact that people currently driving red cars will have to choose some other color, taking their driving habits with them—we can get voters behind this without confusing them with the facts.

    c) Lowering the motor vehicle speed limit to 5 (five) miles per hour within city limits: this would save MANY lives; it is exceedingly rare for a vehicle-related fatality to occur at speeds below 5 miles per hour.

    d) Prohibiting motor vehicle operation within city limits: while I cannot say with certainty that this would remove ALL risk of vehicle-related death, it would come pretty close. You’d still have those who are determined to crush themselves and their young children while working in their garage under the car they can’t drive, so you should probably introduce a bill to outlaw that, too.

    The solution you propose, and the logic by which you have justified it, are only slightly more credible than the solutions and justifications outlined above. The fact that your solution may be more achievable than these makes it no more worthy an idea. Chasing symptoms won’t help anyone. We need to embrace and encourage alternative forms of transportation, not discourage people from their use. We need to demand and enforce responsible use and sharing of our roads—by all users, not just those most vulnerable.

    Thank you for your time and consideration,

    Brady Brady
    Portland

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    • adam January 15, 2011 at 8:32 am

      thank you for your time and consideration, brady. ;)

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  • Waltz January 13, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Gonna have to make it illegal for kids under 6 to ride in cars too.

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  • Tanya January 13, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Ooops that last comment left Rep. Greenlich’s reply email signature in there. Justin Freeman had nothing to do with my comment.

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  • Dabby January 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    The idea of putting this forward in this manner to start a discussion is perposterous…
    Scanned the comments, saw one point:
    “Introducing a bill costs virtually nothing” ( a snippet)

    This could not be farther from the truth.

    I could go on and on about it, but the reality is that the legislative process is expensive and involved, often at no result.
    May seem free to present a piece of paper, but everything from the tree that paper is made from to the messenger that moved it cross town cost money. Shit, even down to the security at the building. Are they working for free?
    Frivollous bills to expand conversation are a waste of precious resources……

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  • J-R January 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    If this only “generates discussion” I guess it would be OK. Unfortunately it will be used by the general media and confirmed bike-hatred to “prove” cycling is unsafe based on the “evidence” that a representative, doctor, and public health expert thinks so strongly about the issue that he introduced legislation. What a setback for active transportation, physical fitness and main-streaming of bicycling as a wholesome, desirable family activity. I’ll send my letters tonight.

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  • Bjorn January 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    If there is still any question about what the real problem is here is the answer:

    http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2011/01/13/no-charge-for-driver-who-accidentally-killed-toddler

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  • Jean January 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I have to admit, this has me so angry I’ve had to step back before responding.

    As for making a law to “protect just one child.” Just this week, a child died meeting her congresswoman. I know of no children who died this week in a bicycle trailer.

    I’m sorry that our legislatures think we shouldn’t get angry when they introduce bills we don’t like. I’ve never had my representatives email me “OK, now is the appropriate time to tell me what you think about this issue.” Until they do, I will have to continue voicing my opinion when I hear about it. I’m sorry if this does not fit in their timeline.

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  • beelnite January 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    So basically – ban ALL human passengers in bike trailers – cuz I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a child OVER 6 years old who could fit in my bike trailer. Look, we’re not large people, but both my kids outgrew the dang trailer by 4 years. Now I got one who thankfully is OK riding his bike ON THE STREET by himself alongside me… but my 7 year old isn’t as skilled – she needs to be attached to me for her safety!

    This law would essentially take away any option I have to get my little ones to school by bicycle.

    I think that pretty much sums up the “discussion”.

    This law is stupid and essentially BANS bike trailers. What more needs to be said?

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  • Ron January 14, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I also want to take issues with the “conversation starter” meme. Mr. Greenlick’s background and qualifications gives this goofy bill proposal a patina of legitimacy. It skews the debate towards the assumption that cycling is inherently unsafe and can be viewed by those representatives and senators outside the major metro areas as a good way to be responsible politicians… “think of the children!” It reminds me of the healthcare bill debate where the public option was offered up as compromise without getting anything in return. Wrongheaded and bad policy. Also, to Rep. Canon’s contention that proposing legislation is practically free (paraphrase) I must also object. This sort of proposal sucks the life out of other more important conversations and there must be opportunity costs associated with staffers having to deal with the bill itself and the public reaction to it. Honestly, when I first read Jonathan’s write up it sounded Onionesque to me.

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  • David January 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Handguns kill far more children each year than bicycles do. We should “start the conversation” there.

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    • Psyfalcon January 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      But drowning is still before that. Ban pools and bathtubs.

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  • tcroz January 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I think that two strong points haven’t been addressed that may or may not be obvious to the professor. One, like anything there are stupid people that do stupid things but a majority of parents that I know put helmets on their children while riding and have started wearing one themselves because of it. And second while a child is in a trailer, if harnessed in they have a safety cage around them. Are these things going to prevent a child from getting hit or hurt? No, it is not a guarantee but far safer than having them out on their own bicycle without ever experiencing what it is like to be in traffic.

    Also I would like to add children learn by example, and by taking our young daughter in both a front mounted carrier and the trailer she is already learning the “rules of the road” by stopping at stop signs, hand signals and in my opinion how to be safe as possible.

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  • Seth Alford January 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Duncan
    and my reply to Rep Greenlik’s respoonse:
    Justin,
    I am not one of Rep. Greenlik’s constuents, but I have already written my representative, and if he does not drop this bill I swear I will donate money to any candidate who opposes him for the Democratic Primary. That is how strongly I feel about this.
    Thank you for your time.

    Anyone know if Act Blue or another organization can set up a prospective-nominee-but-not-Greenlick campaign fund, so we could start donating now?

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  • Jean January 15, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    When does he come up for reelection? This needs to be remembered.

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  • bramasoleiowa January 15, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    I wonder if Dr. Greenlick will propose legislation to provide tax credits to offset the cost of state-forced car ownership so we can transport children under 6.

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  • Elise January 15, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Note that we (as a society) did make riding in a car safer for kids (with seatbelts, carseats, etc), we did not outright BAN carrying kids in cars.

    Why not focus on how to make carrying kids on bikes as safe as we can make it?

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  • Hot Rod January 15, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    I’d strongly recommend that Mr. Greenlick use all of his energy in finding ways for the state to SAVE money. His proposed study is just more goobermint waste.
    Mitch, wake up, smell the coffee. Goobermint at all levels is bankrupt. Do you know what that word means, Mitch? It means you people need to wake up before the entire world financial system collapses – how do you think the little kids will fare if THAT happens, Mitch?

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  • adam January 16, 2011 at 11:36 am

    can anyone tell me how the BTA helps me be safe in PDX? I can’t seem to understand that.

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  • rusl February 3, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    While the character of this legislator may be reputable that does not excuse the shrill and hurtful “safety” named witch-hunt this action (introducing a bill) introduces. He gives credibility to irrational fear by introducing this bill. It will be on record as a nearly legitimate idea in law – even though he is the first to admit there is no evidence to support it!

    As well, it speaks volumes that he thinks this kind of proposal would not decrease cycling. How does he expect children under 6 to be transported if it is illegal to use a bicycle? His proposal implies a safety in the alternatives such as car driving which is SHOWN TO BE BACKWARDS FROM THE FACTS BY REAL EVIDENCE. People who put their kids in cars are putting there kids at risk more than those cycling.

    If he introduced a bill questioning making it illegal to drive kids under 6 would that be fair? Certainly more so than this action to criminalize family cycling – BECAUSE OF THE EVIDENCE!

    The reputation of this individual and the system which considers this specific instance reasonable is tarnished. What he is doing is advocating less safe behavior in the name of Safety.

    “Safety” is a dangerous religion often used to legitimise things that hurt us all in the long term for a nearsighted short term gain. Like bundling your little ones in an armoured SUV or protecting yourself with a gun the logic is anti-social and breaks down when one steps back from the immediate fear based responses.

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