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HB 2228

Kidical Mass recap: Politics, hot cocoa and kids on bikes

Sunday, January 16th, 2011
Kidical Massers in Sellwood.
(Photos: Paul Manson/Flickr)

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Rep. Jules Bailey works to amend Greenlick bill – Updated

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

State Representative Jules Bailey has just told us that he has been in touch with Rep. Mitch Greenlick about HB 2228, the controversial bill that would create a new Oregon law making it illegal to transport a child six years or younger on a bicycle or in a bike trailer.

Bailey says that the two lawmakers have agreed that the bill will be amended if and when it comes up in committee (it has not been assigned to one yet). Here’s more from Bailey:

“I have spoken with Rep Greenlick and convinced him that we should amend the bill to remove the violation portion and instead ask for a study on child safety in bicycles and the best way to improve that safety. I plan to make that amendment at the first opportunity if the bill is heard and worked. He agreed to support the amendment as a friendly amendment.”

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Official statement on HB 2228 from Rep. Greenlick

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Below is the official statement on HB 2228 that Rep. Mitch Greenlick is sending out to people who’ve contacted him about the bill. The statement was preceeded by a form email from Greenlick’s Legislative Assistant Justin Freeman:

Thank you for writing to express your concerns about HB 2228. Our goal in introducing this legislation was to start a conversation about the safety of children when riding as passengers on bicycles and we welcome and encourage any input from the community that furthers that conversation. Attached is a statement from Rep. Greenlick that will hopefully address some of your concerns.

And here’s the statement by Rep. Greenlick on HB 2228

I have spent my life as a health researcher. During the 1990s I was professor and chair of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the School of Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. I have been a member of the Oregon House of Representatives since 2003 and currently co-chair the House Health Care Committee. As a health researcher and as a legislator I have pushed hard to improve the health and safety of our citizens, including promoting measures (such as safe-routes to schools) that increase the opportunity for safe bicycling in Oregon. I introduced HB 2228 because I am not convinced that we are doing all we can to protect the health and safety of young children who join their parents bicycling on the streets and roads of Oregon.

Researchers at OHSU recently completed a study of serious riders, those who bike to work on a regular basis. The study found that, on average, about 30% of those riders suffer a traumatic injury each year and that about 8% of those riders suffer an injury serious enough to require medical attention. I was not able to resist asking myself what would have happened to a young child strapped into a seat on the bike when the rider suffered that serious traumatic injury. The study clearly leads us to work to reduce the environmental hazards that make those injuries more likely. But when I began looking for data on the safety of young children on bikes, it is clear that data are simply not available.

My children were born in the late 1950s. Back then we would put the three kids in the back of a station wagon and let them bounce freely around the car while we traveled the country. It never occurred to us that we were putting them in danger. The cars did not even have safety belts in those days. We have learned that this is not a safe way to transport kids. We now require safety belts, safe car-seats for infants, and we exclude small kids from the front seats of cars with air-bags. Consequently, we have dramatically reduced auto crash fatality-rates for children over the decades. By the same token I do not believe there is a parent in Oregon who would want to risk the safety of their young children if they really believed it was risky to put them on a bicycle.

I introduced HB 2228 to begin what I hope will be a rational discussion to assure we were doing everything possible to improve the safety of bicycle transportation in Oregon. This bill is not an anti-cycling bill. In fact, it is a pro-cycling bill that will focus on creating a safe cycling experience for Oregon’s children. There is so much we don’t know about this topic. I hope this process will reduce the heat in the debate and increase the light.

I urge the bicycling community to be patient and to engage the process calmly and productively if the bill gets a hearing in a house committee, as I hope it will. Let’s try to keep the discourse civil and trust we all want to do what is best for the children of Oregon.

Read our full coverage of this bill here.

Mia Birk asks Greenlick to withdraw bill, says he “misinterpreted” bike injury study

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

“I appreciate that your intentions were good, but the facts do not support this bill. Please withdraw it.”
— Mia Birk, in a letter to Rep. Greenlick about HB 2228

Let the education continue

Below is a letter written to Rep. Mitch Greenlick from Mia Birk. Birk is the former bicycle coordinator at the City of Portland, CEO of Alta Planning and Design, and currently spends much of her time speaking around the country about bicycling to promote her new book, “Joyride.”

Dear Rep. Greenlick,

I believe you have misinterpreted the OHSU bike commute study. (more…)

Study first, then make new laws (if necessary)

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

I Just want to quickly point out that there’s an alternative method for legislators to “start a conversation” on complex and/or potentially controversial issues (other than proposing a new law that would prohibit a popular and safe activity).

The current legislative session has two such bills that I’m aware of…

The first, which we covered back in December, is from the House Transportation committee. Instead of proposing a bill about bike licensing/registration (which we know would be met with outcry), they’ve drafted a bill, HB 2331, that directs the Oregon Department of Transportation to do a study on the feasibility of the idea. If the idea is found to have merit, then legislation could follow.

Another bill that calls for a feasibility study is HB 2032. The bill, introduced by Portland House Rep. Jules Bailey, directs the DOT to conduct a study regarding the cost and feasibility of replacing Marquam Bridge (the I-5 freeway that crosses the Willamette River south of downtown Portland. And, as we shared back in 2006, it’s not as far-fetched as you might think).

Both of these bills are excellent first steps in learning more about an issue — and then determining whether or not to propose legislation. The problem with Rep. Mitch Greenlick’s approach (and others before him) is that he has gone about it backwards.

In a story about his bill that was just published by The Oregonian, local bike shop owner Todd Fahrner puts it this way, “He says he wants to start a discussion. It seems patently ridiculous to start a discussion by trying to criminalize something.”

Representative Ben Cannon, who got his share of push-back for proposing a beer tax last session, says he’s learned his lesson from that episode and is now, “… more careful about the precise form of the bills I introduce.”

Greenlick child biking bill reaction roundup

Thursday, January 13th, 2011
Tour of Tomorrow
Oregon House Rep. Ben Cannon
has weighed in, urging people to
keep reactions civil.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Oregon House Representative Mitch Greenlick’s idea to start a discussion about child bike safety by proposing a new law (HB 2228) that would make transporting kids six and younger by bike illegal has resulted in a massive response. The media and hundreds of people in our community have weighed in. I want to share some of that reaction…

The Executive Director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance Rob Sadowsky responded short and sweet via Twitter by saying, “We’ll fight it. It won’t pass.” BTA Advocacy Manager Gerik Kransky has posted an official response on their blog.
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Rep. Greenlick says safety concerns prompted child biking bill

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
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. (more…)

Oregon House bills would prohibit wearing headphones, carrying kids under six while biking – Updated

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
Bike to Blazers
House Bill 2228 would prohibit
towing kids under six in
a bike trailer.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The 2011 session of the Oregon State Legislature officially kicked off in Salem yesterday. While it’s too early for any significant action to have taken place, there are already some interesting bills that have emerged. Today, I’ll share two that have come to my attention..

House Bill 2228 — which I first heard about from the BTA advocacy manager Gerik Kransky — would prohibit anyone from carrying a child under six years of age on their bicycle or in a bicycle trailer. The infraction would come with a maximum fine of $90. The legislation was introduced by Mitch Greenlick, a Portland Democratic who represents District 33 (Northwest Portland/Forest Park).
(more…)

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