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