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Effort to ban studded tires picks up momentum, major endorsements

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 28th, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Bernards in his usual stance:
"Wanna sign?"
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

With all the talk about why our roads are full of ruts and potholes, I thought it'd be a good time to check in on an effort to ban studded tires in Oregon.

Since he embarked on his signature-gathering effort back in October, chief petitioner with Preserving Oregon Roads, Jeff Bernards, is well on his way to getting his initiative on the ballot. Bernards says they've got over 7,000 of the 87,213 signatures they need. That might not sound like a lot, but it's a good start, especially since Bernards is still using only volunteers.

He estimates about 150 people have requested signature-gathering kits so far. That's an encouraging sign, but Bernards knows that in order to meet the July 6th deadline, he needs to hire a professional firm that manages a team of paid signature gatherers. "We need to raise about $200,000, and we're working on that right now," Bernards told me via phone this morning.

Road damage-1

Bernards is contacting a short-list of deep-pocketed individuals who might have interest in sponsoring the initiative.

With a $200,000 cash infusion, Bernards (and the consulting firm he's working with) feels extremely confident they'll succeed in getting the initiative on the ballot. Once that happens, Bernards feels it will pass easily. "84% of Oregonians don't use studded tires, so even if there's a little sympathy vote, we'd still get well over the 51% we need."

With doomsday transportation budget scenarios in the headlines at both the local and state levels Bernards feels like now is the perfect time for this issue. ODOT's own internal estimates show that studded tires cause an estimated $50-60 million in road damage each year. (Read our post from March 2010 for more on why this initiative matters to people who bike.)

"Studded tires are cutting road life in half. That's real money we can save!," Bernards says, "People are knocking me down to sign for this."

The number one response Bernards gets when he asks folks to sign? "Most people say, 'This is a no-brainer.'"

Support for banning studding tires has gone way beyond citizens in the street. An impressive list of regional and statewide elected officials have donated to and endorsed the measure. The list includes: Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder, real estate developer John Carroll, State Reps Lew Frederick and Carolyn Tomei, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, trucking magnate Al Jubitz, Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury and many others.

To learn more about this effort, check out the newly redesigned PreservingOregonsRoads.org or view the text of the initiative on the Oregon Secretary of State's website.

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Comments
  • BURR February 28, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Go Jeff!

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  • Ethan February 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    I supported this campaign and I urge everyone to consider making some kind of contribution, no matter how much. You can bet there will be well-funded opposition to this no-brainer idea.

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  • kittens February 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    All day, every day during winter one hears them grinding away at our roads and last I checked, we had barely a trace of snow in Portland this year, or most. The same sort of climatic paranoia which gave us SUVs.

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  • davemess February 28, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Is there a way to be able to sign the petition online? I think it would be so much easier to get the necessary signatures then. Or does the state require in person signatures. I wanted to sign, but couldn't find a place to do it on the website.

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  • Mike February 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Go to the website and print out a signature sheet. You can have your registered voter friends and family sign then mail it into the campaign. I did this and got many signatures that may not have gotten hit up.... This is a must for our roads - no brain'er. When States like Minnesota, Illinois, Maryland have the same ban in place, you have to wonder what has taken so long here.

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  • Zach February 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    A total ban is a bad idea. People who live in colder areas of the state rely on studded tires to get around in the winter. First responders and medical workers rely on them to get to work on the icy days when their services are most needed. Some people just need to be able to get up their steep driveways.

    It's disturbing that the varying needs of Oregonians were not even mentioned in this article, and that alternatives to a complete ban were not suggested. This attitude is one thing makes many Oregonians despise urban liberals. (Incidentally, I am an urban liberal).

    We need to work together with each other to find creative solutions that benefit everybody. Maybe it would be better to require stud users to pay for permits, or only allow less destructive types of studs. Maybe we can allow them for people who have registered their vehicles in certain zip codes. This measure actually prohibits the government from even issuing permits!

    I hate rutted roads as much as anyone, but as it stands, I would strongly discourage anybody I know from voting for this measure.

    Oh, and based on the measure text, it appears that studded bicycle tires would also be prohibited.

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    • Arem February 28, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Except that studded tires only work in very specific conditions and not that great either. Studless snow tires are far superior over a broader range of winter conditions.

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    • Jeffrey Bernards February 28, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      Zach, Studs make the roads unsafe for everyone, year round with the ruts that collect water and cause cars to hydroplane. A Les Schwab tire dealer chaired the Transportation Committee when a $12 point of sale fee was proposed, it was blocked. That's equal to $1 per tire per year, that didn't even cover the paper work to run the fee program. Emergency vehicles can use studs. But, I called the Redmond police dept. last week, they don't use studded tires because the stud-less tires work better and are cheaper to use than studded tires, not even counting the road damage. It's also a mystery that 2/3 of eastern Oregon drivers DON'T use studded tires and seem to get around just fine. It's time to use technology tires and scrap the road destroying studded tires.

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    • Pete February 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      I lived up a steep road in Hood River Valley for nearly a decade and started out with studded tires but had much better performance with Blizzak non-studded winter tires on both front- and all-wheel-drive cars, and they saved my cars from getting pelted with the metal studs which fell out frequently. The rubber compound of the tire makes a bigger difference than little metal or rubber studs, but it is more expense on good winter tires (I was skeptical at first). Well worth the price for personal safety and convenience, let alone state budget.

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    • mike February 28, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      I am a medical worker who lives in the hills. I get along just fine with studless snow tires, thank you very much (and no awd, either). Studs are for people who don't know any better or are too lazy to do an internet search on the pros/cons of studded vs studless snow tires.

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    • steve scarich February 29, 2012 at 8:30 am

      Gotta disagree with you. I live in Bend, and lots of people put on their studs Nov. 1. This year, that meant that they needed their studs maybe 3 or 4 days until the most recent snowfall. I use studless snow tires and they are much more effective than studded. Last Saturday, 4-wheel drives were sliding off the road to Bachelor and I boogied on by them. No reason to continue to use studded tires, when much more effective alternatives are available. I recommend a two-year phase in period, just so the economic impact is not too bad (studless tires for my car were $800).

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      • Jeff Bernards February 29, 2012 at 9:16 am

        Phase In? You can pull out the studs and still use the tires. I had ODOT (off the record) tell me studs were causing 1/2 Billion dollars in road damage a year. We can't afford to wait another 2 years, that's another billion in unfunded road damage. It would be cheaper to buy winter tires for everyone who needs them. But that's the cost to live where you do. If you live in extreme weather, buy an AWD, get stud-less tires and slow down-it's winter, you'll be just fine. Our food comes down that road, it's in OUR interest to protect it.

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        • steve scarich February 29, 2012 at 10:37 am

          If someone pulls studs out of a m/s tire, they have a regular road tire, not effective on ice and snow. I am only advocating a phase-in because it might overcome some of the objections people have to banning studs. Over here in Bend, conversatons over banning stud can result in someone pulling their sidearm (I'm kidding, a little)

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          • A.K. February 29, 2012 at 11:32 am

            Another idea, beyond a phase in period, would be to offer a one-time tax credit the year that studded tires are banned, for folks who trade in their old tires and purchase a set of studless tires, to help offset the cost. It may be one way to overcome the problem of convincing people to do something that will cost them $500-$1,000.

            If they really do as much damage as the State of Oregon says they do, we would still be coming out ahead at the end of the day by ending the wear/tear and associated repair costs. Anyone pulled over with studded tires after the ban could be issued a fine of several hundred dollars.

            This could be a huge marketing boon for Les Schwab and other tire retailers as they move people over to new tires.

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    • Shawn February 29, 2012 at 11:02 am

      Consumer reports has done tests comparing regular winter tires to studded tires. The non-studded tires are superior in every way.

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  • Chris I February 28, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    The newest studless snow tires are just as good on ice as the studded sets people are driving around on now. Try them, you might be surprised. They also offer much more traction on wet and dry surfaces.

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  • Mike Quigley February 28, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I know a bicycle rider who was blinded in one eye by a stud thrown off a car tire while crossing the Morrison St. bridge. Wear eye protection when you ride!

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Chris I February 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      I've always been worried about catching a bug, but had never thought of that. Holy crap!

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Burk February 28, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      What? That can happen? Holy crap indeed!

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  • mh February 28, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    I got a couple of petition signatures from people who used to live in Alaska. They know snow. They use and like other kinds of traction tires. Woulda convinced me, had I needed any more convincing.

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  • Tommy B. February 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I've been behind on this one, but I made my donation today and started getting signatures on the petitions I have. I hope everyone else does the same.

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  • dwainedibbly February 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Mrs Dibbly & I have seen Jeff at the PSU and Shemanski Park Farmers' Markets for months now. The guy is working his rear off for a cause that will help us all. If you haven't signed the petition, please do. If you can afford to donate to the cause, please do that, too!

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  • Andrew K February 28, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    If I could sign this petition twice I would.

    Pretty much the only thing I like about studded tires is the fact that I can hear a car coming from about a mile away. At the same time I cringe because I know it's the sound of asphalt being ripped apart because someone is nervous there may be snow.

    Getting this measure passed is simply an education issue. Stud-less snow tires work just as well if not better.

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  • Jill February 29, 2012 at 7:43 am

    I support this - we use studless snow tires for our weekend trips to the mountain and they work great, without the road damage. No reason to stick with road ripping studs!

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  • q`Tzal February 29, 2012 at 8:01 am

    People listen to money and get most outraged at wasted tax money.

    That is how this issue will get passed and how all arguments to the general public need to be framed.

    Somewhere there exists a comprehensive official DOT study on the deleterious effects of studded tires on our tax payed roads.

    Likely too there exists a comprehensive National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study on the overall ineffectiveness of studded tires versus modern winter tires.

    Prove to me with FACT not ranting invective that studded tires are needed and I'll agree.
    Screaming and whining "But, but , I NEED THEM!" is not enough.

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  • henrik February 29, 2012 at 9:26 am

    I thought Maine was the only state to allow studded tires... sheesh. Come on people, get some studless-tires already. Quit F'n up our freeways & roads!

    Studless tires work great! I lived in the cold land of Cleveland & Michigan for a few years... (google 'lake effect' for what I had to deal with) and studless tires work wonders in both snow and ice!

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  • Barbara February 29, 2012 at 11:41 am

    You would think saving 60 Million a year in damage without having to pay a dime (as the State) should be a no-brainer for fiscally conservatives and school supporters alike! The Oregon legislature scraped together little savings here and there this budget season and this is basically free money!
    By the way, studded tires are not just ineffective in snow they are also downright dangerous in rain. And what to all these Portlanders with studded tires mostly drive in?

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  • BURR February 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    We shouldn't need a citizen's initiative for this, the legislature should grow some cojones and just do it.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • q`Tzal February 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Barbara
    By the way, studded tires are not just ineffective in snow they are also downright dangerous in rain.

    While brainstorming ways to show the costs and hazards of studded tires I came upon this notion:
    Shouldn't accident statistics rise during the months when studded tires are legal in Oregon?
    Common sense tells us that studded tires provide some benefit for a certain market share or they wouldn't sell. The perceived need gets drivers who will never see the benefit to use them for a whole season, especially here in the valley.
    Even the ODOT winter driving tips page admits:

    Studded tire facts
    Research shows that studded tires are more effective than all-weather tires on icy roads, but are less effective in most other conditions because they may reduce traction between the road and the tire.

    There reasonably should be accident data characteristics should skew towards lower speed "loss of control of vehicle" incidents. As the studs lower traction lower speeds are required to lose control of the auto. This is where we should dig for supporting info.

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  • Anthony February 29, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    What about the people who live up in Zig Zag and beyond?

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    • Jeffrey Bernards February 29, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      Anthony, I have a testimonial on our website from someone who lives in Welches and works at Timberline 5 days a week, and arrives at work before the snowplows, he doesn't use studded tires. Remember studded tires are ice tires not snow tires and under perform on snow. Ice in Oregon is 1% of driving conditions, doesn't justify driving for 5 months with studded tires. By the way, who's going to pay to fix the roads now that have been ruined by studded tires? The state is broke, where do you suggest where we can save hundreds of millions of dollars & improve our roads at the same time?

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  • GlowBoy March 1, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    My post was deleted, and I don't think it was any more provocative than some of the pro-ban comments in this thread. Maybe it provoked some nasty responses I don't know about in the day and a half since I posed it, but I don't see the justification for its deletion.

    Like Zach, I'm an urban liberal who doesn't use studded tires, but I think it is unnecessarily divisive and I disagree that an outright ban is the solution to the problem.

    I also disagree with some of the statements being made about these tires' performance. I've had several sets each of studded and excellent studless winter tires, and switched to studless over a decade ago. While studless are FAR, far better than all season tires on both snow and ice, I still think good modern studded tires are still considerably superior yet on glare ice, and they most certainly do not have the grip problems on pavement that the early studded tires did.

    My vote is to not ban studded tires, but to impose a severe tax ($100 or more per tire) to discourage their use by most. And please make sure bicycle tires are exempted from the ban! When studded bike tires are outlawed, I will reluctantly become an outlaw.

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    • revphil March 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      You will still be able to buy them when you travel to another state or online, right?

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  • steelhead March 10, 2012 at 11:59 am

    While I agree with some kind of updated studded tire regulations, I don't think an outright ban is the best alternative. I have studless tires on my Subaru, and it is awesome. However, I also pull a 5000lb trailer behind my pickup over mountain passes on a regular basis. Through experience and much nerve wracking trial and error, I have found that the best overall solution for this kind of driving is an aggressive truck tire with studs. This offers the best all-around braking and traction performance when pulling heavy loads. I am not sure if the extra weight of a heavy vehicle compresses the snow more, but studs do make a big difference with this type of driving.

    Keep in mind that whatever the solution, this is about you and your family's safety as much as the driver of the vehicle with/without studs. I would support some kind of law with exceptions for vehicle weight, use as a tow vehicle, county of registration, etc., as I would not be comfortable with a studless mandate in many situations. This is not a one-size-fits-all problem, and should not be addressed by a one-size-fits-all solution.

    There are only 7 states in the country with outright studded tire bans. This includes states like Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas - as well as some less mountainous Midwestern states.

    I think Oregonians can work together to come to agreement on a solution that addresses the diverse geography, climate and needs of people across the state.

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