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Oregon lawmaker introduces bill to toll people who ride bikes across new I-5 bridge

Posted by on February 22nd, 2013 at 10:14 am

House Rep. Kevin Cameron thinks people who
ride bikes don’t pay for roads and he wants
a bike toll on a new I-5 bridge
over the Columbia River.
(Photo: Cameron for Oregon)

A new bill has been introduced in Salem that would toll people on bikes for using a new bridge over I-5 (if one ever gets built). Existence of the bill started as an uncomfirmed rumor on the Facebook page of a state legislator yesterday and it was confirmed this morning via an article in The Oregonian.

The bill, HB 3152, was put forward by House Rep. Kevin Cameron (R-Salem). Here’s the key text from the bill:

“If the Department of Transportation collects a toll from motor vehicle operators for the use of Interstate 5 bridges, the department shall also collect a toll from bicyclists who use the bridges.”

HB 3152 is co-sponsored by Rep. Tim Freeman (R-Roseburg), Rep. Vic Gilliam (R-Mollala/Silverton), Rep. Julie Parrish (R-Tualatin/West Linn), Rep. Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver), and Rep. Tobias Read, a Democrat from Beaverton and a Bicycle Transportation Alliance member who has worked on bike safety bills in the past.


According to The Oregonian, Cameron has introduced the bill, “to start a conversation.” Here’s a snip from The O:

“The point here is this is a very expensive project and from my opinion, people who use it should help pay for it,” Cameron said. “I want to make this a very practical look at how you could do this.”

Legislator bike ride at the Oregon Bike Summit-22
Rep. Cameron thinks having biking Democrat Tobias Read as
a co-sponsor will help raise awareness of the issue.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s worth noting that Rep. Cameron hinted at his opinion that people who bike are getting a free ride during a hearing for HB 2800 in Salem on Monday. Cameron, a member of the Joint Committee on the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project, voted in favor of HB 2800, a bill that would set the I-5/Columbia River highway expansion project into motion in Oregon. Before giving his vote, Cameron thanked all the citizens who testified on the bill. He even, unexpectedly, gave a shout out to a group from Portland that rode their bikes to the hearing.

But then Rep. Cameron added, “I want them to know they rode bikes on roads that were paid for by gas taxes from vehicles.”

Rep. Cameron’s bill follows a long line of ill-conceived bike measures introduced by lawmakers to “start a conversation” but that ultimately end up causing outrage among citizens and then get eventually pulled.

In 2008, Oregon State Senator Floyd Prozanski introduced an all-ages, mandatory helmet bill and then shelved the idea about one week later after it sparked massive criticism.

In 2009, House Rep. Wayne Kreiger introduced an absurd mandatory bicycle registration law that caused a lot of outcry and then died in committee ten days later.

In 2011, House Rep. Mitch Greenlick introduced a bill that would have banned children under six years of age from riding on a bicycle or in a bicycle trailer. The bill ruffled a lot of feathers, angered a lot of people, and then didn’t go anywhere.

Whether Rep. Cameron’s bill suffers a similar fate remains to be seen; but I shared in an editorial after the Greenlick debacle, I sure wish lawmakers would study these issues a bit before trying to legislate them.

Punitive bills with unfair impacts to people who ride bicycles, masked in “starting a conversation,” are the height of bias and discrimination. Where’s the bill that would limit car engine speeds to 20 mph just to “start a conversation” about road fatalities and traffic safety?


(Note: This bill has zero chance of going anywhere (both because its policy underpinnings are deeply flawed and none of the co-sponsors will spend any time on it), so I would not let it divert too much attention away from the extremely important CRC bill that is rushing toward passage as we speak. Read this article in The Willamette Week about how shady HB 2800 is and then contact your legislator to share your opinion about the project.)

We have contacted Rep. Cameron and are awaiting a call back.

UPDATE, 12:57 pm: I heard from Rep. Tobias Read who wanted to explain his sponsorship of the bill. I shared that conversation in a separate post.

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Comments
  • Alley February 22, 2013 at 10:19 am

    It’s easy to point out all the ridiculous statements in terms of vehicles paying for roads. Of course all our taxes pay for roads and heavier vehicles degrade roads much faster etc etc. I’m sure others will make this argument and much more eloquently.

    What I think is even funnier, though, is how big do you really think this revenue stream is going to be? Are a handful of cyclists paying a couple dollars a day really going to pay for your 12 billion dollar bridge?

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    • 9watts February 22, 2013 at 11:34 am

      “his opinion that people who bike are getting a free ride”

      Heck yeah, we’re getting a free ride! And so would you if you got out of your car and joined us! That is the great thing (one of many) about bikes,–they cost virtually nothing to operate, repair, or park, and they don’t cost the taxpayers* anything either!!!
      When will you understand this?

      *and if you think bike infrastructure is frivolous, remember that it is only built to keep the overwhelming presence of your preferred mode of transport for endangering us even more than it already does.

      Recommended Thumb up 8

      • Pete February 25, 2013 at 9:09 pm

        I feel like I’ve already paid for my free ride by leaving my subsidized car parked in my garage.

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  • Peter W February 22, 2013 at 10:24 am

    I dropped off anti-CRC postcards from supporters of Bike Walk Vote. Apparently Read didn’t get the message.

    They’ve created a terrible project that they can’t pay for, and now they want cyclists to help foot the bill? The CRC financing plan is as much of an insult as the project itself.

    Call or write your legislators and let them know: the CRC has created a monster that we don’t want and we won’t pay for.

    http://bit.ly/findmylawmaker

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  • mikeybikey February 22, 2013 at 10:32 am

    A quote from Ortega Y Gasset comes to mind: “The chief characteristic of our time is that the mediocre mind, aware of its own mediocrity, has the boldness to assert the rights of mediocrity and to impose them everywhere”

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  • maxd February 22, 2013 at 10:33 am

    If they think that bike tolls will be able to pay for this bridge, they are either completly delusional, and wildly over-optimistic about the number of cyclists who will ride this thing!

    Please call or email your legislators and urge them to not support the CRC until the significant financial questions have been answered! This project will cost Oregonians too much in terms of money, the environment, compromised neighborhoods, reduced river freight capacity, and health to simply save a few minutes of commute time for Vancouver residents, and to upgrade a bridge that is no way the weak link in our transportation system (many other bridges get worse earthquake ratings).
    http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/

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    • PorterStout February 22, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      This isn’t a serious attempt to help pay for the bridge. He’s pandering to his constituency, plain and simple.

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  • Steve B February 22, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Another flawed funding idea for the costly, risky I-5 Bridge Replacement Project*.

    *not actually a bridge project, it’s 5 miles of urban freeway widening

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • dan February 22, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Sure, fire up that toll. If we really want to be fair, everyone’s toll should be assessed by vehicle weight, right? That way the amount you pay is directly related to the benefit / service you use. So…call it $0.01 per pound of vehicle weight? I’d be happy to pay that for the 1 time a year I might bike across the bridge.

    Mr. Read has some strange bedfellows.

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    • LoveDoctor February 22, 2013 at 11:08 am

      I would completely welcome a bike toll, for just the reasons Dan mentioned. For all the crying about people who walk/bike not paying their way, a toll would be a good way to elucidate to the general public the true cost of the various modes of transportation. I would gladly pay the 1/100 of the cost of whatever auto toll there would be (since that’s about what the construction and maintenance costs vs. auto traffic would be) if it means that people would see what the true costs vs. revenue streams of auto subsidization would come to light.

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      • K'Tesh February 22, 2013 at 4:56 pm

        If they were ever to pass this thing, they better make sure that the bike facilities are exclusive to bicycles (and the occasional emergency vehicle), and peds are excluded, unless they pay too. It seems pretty f’d up that of each of my tax dollars that get spent on roads, I only get to split a single penny with peds. (joking here, peds are people too)

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    • Chris February 22, 2013 at 11:10 am

      I agree with dan, do it by weight. But I would add they should toll pedestrians as well, and of course, by weight.

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      • karl February 22, 2013 at 11:35 am

        You don’t want to discriminate. Be sure the minus the weight of the driver and passengers from the total weight of the load.

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  • J_R February 22, 2013 at 11:03 am

    If this bill were to pass, there are couple really easy solutions: 1) have the State of Washington collect the toll (they already have toll bridges and ODOT has none, so this might make sense anyway) or 2) have a bi-state commission or agency collect the tolls. Either way it wouldn’t be ODOT collecting them, so no worry.

    FYI, I ride my bike across the bridge most days.

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  • BURR February 22, 2013 at 11:10 am

    I used to pay a $0.05 toll to cross the Atlantic Beach Bridge on my bike in Nassau Co, N.Y., back in the day. Peds paid a nickel too. Motorists were paying $0.25 at the time. The toll is now $2.00 for motorists, free for peds and cyclists.

    http://www.vofab.org/bridge_history.htm

    However, New Yorkers are much more used to paying tolls than Oregonians.

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  • Jake February 22, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Rep. Read is a Republican masquerading in a bike helmet. One of the most conservative dems in the caucus, **unnecessarily mean comment deleted by moderator***. He should be berated for this. Both he and Jules Kopel Bailey should be embarrassed for their stance on the CRC mega highway; how either of these guys call themselves environmentalists is beyond me.

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  • anon February 22, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Most people who ride also drive, so this whole “cyclists vs drivers” mentality is completely inaccurate and unnecessary.

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  • Spencer Boomhower February 22, 2013 at 11:41 am

    So bad it might be good. I think there’s a lot of passive support for the CRC, support that takes the form of: well, it is a big huge freeway expansion, but at least it would come with better bike facilities and light rail across the river. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth it, and this kind of legislation might just help others come around to my way of thinking. In doing so it might help erode that passive support.

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  • Kristen February 22, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Unless those cyclists rode I-5 the entire way, and/or stuck to state highways and roads, Rep Cameroon is wildly incorrect in stating that “they rode bikes on roads that were paid for by gas taxes from vehicles.”

    Certainly, gas taxes paid for by drivers paid for a portion of the roads they rode on to get to Salem, but by and large local roads are paid for out of the general fund– which contains money from a variety of sources, including property and income tax.

    He would have been factual by stating that the roads were paid for IN PART by gas taxes. Be precise, politicians; your words have impact.

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  • Kristen February 22, 2013 at 11:45 am

    In regards to a toll on the I-5 bridge:

    I will certainly pay to ride my bike across the bridge. It’s only fair that people actually using the bridge pay for it, no matter the mode of travel.

    This is the same argument used in regards to the Sellwood Bridge, but the Clackamas Co voters didn’t go for it.

    Of course, this is all theoretical. Tolls are not a good source of revenue for the large quantity of dollars needed to fund this debacle. Besides, how would you collect? Set up a toll booth at the border? Talk about bad congestion!

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    • 9watts February 22, 2013 at 11:48 am

      I am going to introduce a bill (to start a conversation) about tolling pedestrians who walk across this unbuilt bridge/freeway expansion boondoggle. And if you’re pushing a stroller you have to pay for your kid, too. Let’s see how cost effective all this punitive nonsense is when it is penciled out.
      Yikes.

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      • BurleyR15 February 25, 2013 at 12:38 pm

        Couldn’t agree more… If you live/work in Vancouver and want to go for a walk, that’s being tolled twice for an afternoon jaunt. Silly, really silly.

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    • Alan 1.0 February 24, 2013 at 10:03 am
  • dmc February 22, 2013 at 11:55 am
  • Babygorilla February 22, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    “In 2011, House Rep. Mitch Greenlick introduced a bill that would have banned children under six years of age from riding on a bicycle or in a bicycle trailer.”

    It is already illegal for children (or anyone) to ride as passengers in bike trailers in Oregon. ORS 811.195. Don’t think the police cite for this, but they could and it could be used by a defense lawyer is any child is ever hurt while a passenger to reduce or eliminate any sort of civil recovery for the injured child.

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    • Joseph E February 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      I don’t see anything about kids and bike trailers in the law you cited. Care to provide proof?

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      • Joseph E February 22, 2013 at 12:13 pm

        Oh, now I found this: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.195
        It looks like that only applies to motor vehicles hauling trailers.

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        • Babygorilla February 22, 2013 at 1:08 pm

          Highway is defined in the vehicle code to pretty much include all streets in Oregon, not just interstates or freeways. ORS 801.305. Trailer is also defined to include “every vehicle without motive power designed to be drawn by another vehicle.” ORS 801.560. Vehicle is defined to be any device in, upon or on any person or property may be drawn upon a public highway. ORS 801.590.

          The prohibition against passenger’s in trailers in ORS 811.195 is not limited to “motor vehicles” and the vehicle code provides that vehicle laws are applicable to bicycles (ORS 814.400) unless by their very nature they cannot be applied. Nothing in the very nature of a bicycle towing a trailer compels that that prohibition against it cannot be applied to bicycles.

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          • Babygorilla February 22, 2013 at 1:11 pm

            Edit in last sentence: Nothing in the very nature of a bicycle towing a trailer compels that that prohibition against passengers in the trailer cannot be applied to bicycles.

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        • wsbob February 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm

          The law doesn’t say ‘motor vehicles’…but instead just ‘vehicles’. Oregon law recognizes bikes to be vehicles: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.400.

          Not that this means anyone in Oregon is going to be cited for hauling a kid around in a bike trailer. Had Greenlick reined in his conversation starter-bike trailer bill proposal a little bit, he might have been able to do something to have bike trailers safety for kids riding in them, become better.

          As it was, his proposal came off flaky, making Greenlick look flaky. By his bill proposing people crossing by bike, the big boondoggle bridge that seems on track to be built, Kevin Cameron seems to be a little smarter than Greenlick. Many people seem to be drawn to and believe the idea that people using roads for travel by bike, are not ‘paying their way’, and so should be obliged by some means to do so.

          Really though, this conversation starter effort by House Rep Kevin Cameron is a waste of time that’s ultimately going to make him look kind of flaky, just as Greenlick’s dingbat bill proposal did him. There’s so many problems associated with the CRC, it’s just silly for state legislators to be spending time thinking about nicking a relatively small amount of money from people willing to ride bikes, a means of transportation that would actually expand the bridges’ ability move people across it.

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  • Seth Woolley February 22, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    I was one of the people who rode down to Salem to testify, along with Hart, above. Read his article (most of you know the facts already, but it’s good to be refreshed). Cameron thinks he is in the right to poison this generation and the next generations with fuel exhaust and carbon dioxide, and that activity should be subsidized by cyclists. If I were to cross the bridge by bike though, I would have no problem paying a toll on that road. They need to toll more roads. If it were in proportion to cost and damage, I can see throwing a quarter down. Just make sure you charge car drivers who actually use the thing for the expense of the rest of the bridge though — and throw in the cost to clean up the carbon, soot, and other pollutants they are putting into the air. If he charged people based on economic externalities to internalize them into the market, Cameron can finally call himself a sensible fiscal conservative.

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  • Hart Noecker February 22, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    UPDATED: I’m a Cyclist, Now Where’s My Damn Tax Break?: http://www.mismanagingperception.com/wheres-my-damn-tax-break/

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Tom February 22, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    So those guys think that co-sponsoring an idiot bill builds their credibility ? starts a dialogue ? … too much time on their hands, they all belong in the unemployment line.

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  • dwainedibbly February 22, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    The only way this is useful (or makes sense) is if the toll is weight-based. I’ll pay a quarter, no problem. The people driving, paying $5, might decide that being on a bike makes sense.

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  • K'Tesh February 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Why does it seem that so many people who are “leading” us, have their heads firmly planted where the sun doesn’t shine?

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  • Rol February 22, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    NO BRIDGE FOR YOU

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  • J_R February 22, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Vehicle and driver’s license fees are the third largest source of funds for ODOT’s programs.

    The ODOT budget gets more money from Vehicle and Driver License fees than it gets from the Weight Mile taxes collected from trucks!

    Everyone who has a drivers license or a vehicle license is paying into the ODOT program.

    See the page 4 of the ODOT budget that can be found at:

    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/COMM/docs/budgetbooklet_11-13.pdf

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  • Randy February 22, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    We know Trimet buses create much of the road decay that occurs in metro Portland. Is Trimet paying for road repairs?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • BURR February 22, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      studded tires > Trimet busses

      just sayin’…

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  • Dan Kaufman February 22, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Well if they are going to charge a toll they better sure as hell make it a complete path. As it stands right now they have cut a significant portion on the MUP to a mere fraction of the cost of this cluster freeway. http://bikeportland.org/2012/09/21/to-cut-costs-crc-project-looks-to-postpone-bikingwalking-path-77741

    And PS Honorable Senator Cameron you stop subsidizing cars with property and income taxes and then we can talk about tolling bikes.

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  • BURR February 22, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    That’s totally a photoshopped picture of Rep. Cameron.

    :-o

    It’s his own promo pic, yeah?

    I wouldn’t trust the guy for an Oregon minute….

    :-)

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Tom February 23, 2013 at 6:44 am

    anybody notice that House Rep. Kevin Cameron (R-Salem) kinda looks and sounds like …. Newt G. ?? Did I wake up in Georgia ?

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  • Paula February 23, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Interesting … way back the I-5 bridge was a toll bridge (reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Bridge). Just think of the traffic slow downs as people stop to pay the toll – yep, we use to have to stop, put in the toll amount, then continue on our journey. Sounds like fun for the 130,000 some travelers. So, yeah, toll everyone using the bridge.

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    • Alan 1.0 February 24, 2013 at 10:00 am

      electronic toll collection

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Pete February 25, 2013 at 9:30 pm

        Damn, I just paid a fortune to shave grams off my carbon masterpiece, now I gotta carry a transponder?? ;-)

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Austin February 24, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Always the “conservative” rulers who feel the need to implement more taxation and government interference with regards to an activity which inherently encourages self reliance and independence. Funny, that.

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  • jim March 1, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    If they are going to toll the bridge, they should toll all of the users. I would rather not see a toll on anyone personally. This is the same as the washington state ferries. Everybody that rides the ferries pays, cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, walkers. The ferries don’t run for free, I suppose the cost of this monstrosity will be the same. Everybody pays.

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