Harvest Century September 22nd

Oregon Senator in “rebellion mode” over fixed-gear ruling

Posted by on August 14th, 2006 at 12:15 pm

[Jason Atkinson,
Oregon State Senator.]

Republican Oregon State Senator Jason Atkinson read about Ayla Holland’s court case on CyclingNews.com and was furious. Atkinson—who was elected to the Oregon State Senate at the ripe age of 30—is an avid cyclist and traveled through Oregon on a fixed-gear bike during his campaign for Governor in ’05. Atkinson splits his time between Portland and his district in southern Oregon.

He told me he plans to introduce new legislation in January 2007 to fix what he calls this, “ridiculous problem.” Right now, his office is researching the law and comparing legal definitions of “brake” and “stop” in other states. He has also been in touch with Holland’s lawyer Mark Ginsberg.

In a phone conversation this morning he said,

“My job as senator is to see a problem and fix it. Unfortunately the legislature is on break for five months or I could get to this right away. Until then, I’ve bought the T-shirt and I am open to suggestions on how to solve the problem.

Atkinson is also interested in this case because he has several friends, including the groomsman at his wedding, who are current or former Portland messengers.

It sounds like his initial focus will be to try and rid the word “brake” from the ORS completely, thus doing away with having to define just what a brake is.

Atkinson also wonders if there’s a possible connection to be made between this issue and another problematic law regarding bicycles; how the courts define a legal stop.

It has been clarified in the past on this site that cyclists do not have to put their foot down to make a legal stop, but that we must “cease forward motion” of our wheels. Atkinson is worried that fixed-gear riders doing a trackstand could still be ticketed since they tend to roll back-and-forth in doing so.

I look forward to keeping in touch with Atkinson not only on this issue, but on others down the road. After all, a republican senator (he was even endorsed by the usually anti-bike Lars Larson) who is very sensitive to bicycle issues can be a strong ally.

Atkinson said he would like to partner with this site to garner insight and feedback from the community so stay tuned for an opportunity to provide more specific feedback on this issue.

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

32 Comments
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    Dabby August 14, 2006 at 12:21 pm

    Once again I call for a full declassification of bicycles as motorized vehilces….

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    brock August 14, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    And now, a state senator is getting involved? This is the pro-bike issue he chooses? This is clearly the biggest problem facing Oregon… What a waste of time. Leave it to a Republican.

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    Patrick August 14, 2006 at 12:39 pm

    War, hunger, child abuse, domestic violence…..

    Pollution, taxes….. How about looking at those problems….

    Fixed gears?????

    Come on Senator… seriously……..

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    Jonathan Maus August 14, 2006 at 12:42 pm

    brock,

    Of course this is not the biggest problem facing Oregon. No one said it was.

    But I do think that working toward equal respect under the law for all modes of transport is an important issue and I am happy to see the interest from an elected official.

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    Brett August 14, 2006 at 12:47 pm

    Let it go. Stop trying to sell copy through controversy. Transcend your ego and publish more positive articles.

    Express yourself completely and then let go of the results. Everyone has expressed themselves completely… now let go.

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    brock August 14, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    Johnathan, I respectfully disagree. Perhaps Sen Atkinson can detail some of the other pro-bike initiatives he’s put work into? This is a niche issue that pales in comparison to larger issues facing cyclists, never mind the Oregonians he represents. If he was proposing tougher penalties for drivers who kill cyclists due to inattention, I’d be right behind him.

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    Brett August 14, 2006 at 12:52 pm

    And if the Hon Sen is concerned about a track stand not ceasing forward motion…

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    sh August 14, 2006 at 1:34 pm

    I can’t decide what’s funnier, that he’s in “Rebellion Mode” over this niche/quasi-vanity issue (when the recent death of yet another cyclist is again going unpunished) or that his particular brand of rebellion is BUYING THE T-SHIRT (wha-ha-ha!)

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    West Cougar August 14, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    Yeah, I admire his spunk, but there is nothing wrong with the ORS, biased judges aside. I fully expect this to be over-turned on appeal. If it gets appealed. Until then it is an annoyance for an extremely small sub-set of cyclists (messengers and their hangers-on) and a provocation to a larger sub-set of political conservatives (those that abhore activist judges legislating from the bench).

    If the Honorable Senator Atkinson could channel his passion to allowing cyclists to treat stop signs as yields, and stop lights and de-facto 2-way stop signs, as is done in our neighboring state of Idaho, now that would be something we all could benefit from!

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    Wyatt August 14, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    After reading the myriad of posts regarding this court case I have noticed a lot of nastiness directed toward folks who ride fixed gears. “Hipsters”, “messenger wannabes”, and “wastoids” are just a few of the insults being lobbed. Why, within the cycling community, are people attacking each other like this?

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    Jim F. August 14, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    Personally, I’m happy any time an elected representative takes a pro bike stance on any issue. I’m not going to nit-pick whether he adopted my personal pet cause or not. I’m just happy someone somewhere is helping cyclists.

    Plus, would you rather a Republican politician spend his time on environmental issues?

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    Jeff S August 14, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    well said, Jim. There are certainly more important things to work on, but if you’re a fixie rider that’s been fleeced, or could be fleeced, of a couple hundred bucks on the whim of a cop, I would think this would be fairly important to you..?

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    Tankagnolo Bob August 14, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    I think it would be good to define what is a “stop”, how much distance is required at a given speed and how much skill is required if no mechanical brake is involved.

    Most of all though, I wish we could all buy a cheap front brake and get on to big issues of war and “promoting the general welfare”, as the constitution reads, for our citizens. Let’s get some health care and education going first, then we can worry about brakes.

    Tankagnolo Bob

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    SKiDmark August 14, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    I am still missing it. What exactly is vain about not putting a front brake on a track bike?

    Maybe you are just jealous that you can’t ride a fixed without a brake safely.

    I do feel my reality crumble a little when a Republican is on my side.

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    Amy August 14, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    It’s really a shame that, rather than being pleased to have a senator working on behalf of bike riders, there are so many comments about him “wasting his time.”

    Biking IS an environmental issue. One more bike = one less car.

    Biking IS health care. More bikers = more healthy people.

    Although this specific issue (fixed gear brakes) may not address big-world problems, if we can get a senator’s power behind biking on an issue that interests him, when other, perhaps more significant issues come up, it’s one more person to fight for biker’s rights.

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    Chakra Lu August 14, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    first, yea for someone recognizing bikes on the high end…f’n A…
    they are listening, reading, caring…and there is gryping going on? this could lead to other great issues…there are other issues being looked into, but this doesn’t only concern just a bike, this includes so much more…and as a cycling community, there should be more support and less whyning over someone’s preference of riding…we all bike, so we should have the support of another biker…yes, there are bigger issues at hand that they are already working on…don’t get me wrong, my partner died on a bike right next to me – but that is going to take a lot of time and energy for them to actually start punishing drunk drivers the way they should…this sad realization i had to accept for the time being…but to just quickly define what a stop or brake is, that is a “hopefully” quick “fix”…it has never caused problems in the past, and shouldn’t be an issue now…i know a lot of you will most likely disagree and some how get off my desecrating my view…but screw your ego…we are all cyclists – start uniting and stop segregating against this…for the love of bikes…

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    Nick August 14, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    Could we get him to Portland for a town hall meeting. I think it would be interesting to hear his views and give feedback.

    I’m sure we could arrange something with him and our local state congressmen/women.

    ~n

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    brock August 14, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    Please don’t take my comments to be divisive. I recognize that any step to make positive changes for bicycles is a good one. Let’s just say that I think this particular issue should be way low on the list of things to try to change – bike related or otherwise. I don’t think making this point means that I’m not supportive of other riders (I used to ride a fixed gear bike back in the day), simply that there are much much much bigger issues that affect the entire cycling community. Johnathan’s good coverage on this site makes this clear.

    Has Sen. Atkinson promoted any other pro-bike legislation? If so, I stand corrected. If not, than I stand by my exagerated ‘waste of time’ comment. And I’d like to be shown wrong here. All cyclists can benefit.

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  • […] BikePortland is reporting that State Sen. Jason Atkinson has pledged action in response to a Portland judge ruling that fixed-gear bicycles were illegal under state law. (This ruling was discussed on a number of blogs, including BoingBoing.) Atkinson was a contender for this year’s Republican gubernatorial nomination. […]

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    Corky August 14, 2006 at 7:09 pm

    Even old folks walkers have brakes. Wheelchairs have brakes, strollers have brakes.

    Bicycles need brakes, both for the safety of the cyclist and for other people. “Freedom” doesn’t include the right to jepardize others.

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    SKiDmark August 14, 2006 at 9:29 pm

    Technology marches on. Just because some new-fangled device is developed does not mean we need it. To extend your train of thought we should throw our 1890’s technology fixed gears in the trash.

    The elderly who need a walker have lost the mobility and reflexes they once had so the brake on the wheeled walker is a necessity.

    Wheelchairs have parking brakes, the speed of the wheelchair while rolling is still controlled by the hands, the same hands that propel it. Sort of like how your legs propel and stop your fixed gear bike. Hmmm.

    Strollers used to have parking brakes. Some modern strollers have lever brakes to control the speed, but they are intended to be used for jogging so the higher rate of speed causes the necessity for a brake. There is also the matter of a helpless baby to consider. And all the weight. I would guess a jogging stroller with a baby, baby bottles, diapers, etc. would weigh about a 75 pounds whereas a track bike weighs 20 lbs. More weight to stop and control on a machine that you are only holding onto with your hands.

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    Bill August 14, 2006 at 10:20 pm

    Don Stathos was a Republican.

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    NeRf August 15, 2006 at 12:52 am

    I’m sick and tired of everyone whining about this topic THAT ISN”T AFFECTED BY IT. Fine you don’t ride a fixed gear, we get it, you don’t like it, we get it. QUIT SAYING THE SAME DAMN THING OVER AND OVER. “oh i’m worried about my safety”, bullshit, your just looking to bitch about something. At this point the topic has been beaten, dug up, and beaten again. Again if its not affecting you LEAVE IT ALONE.

    ALSO so far i am not aware of one non-messenger that has been ticketed for no brakes. i’ve also heard stories of messengers from the past 10 years being hasseled, even one ticketed 3 times in one day AND ARRESTED FOR NO BRAKE.
    what this whole thing is, is another police bully move towards us. Dabby can back me up on this. Its great that its being looked at so thoroughly by lawmakers(s?) right now.
    But since its not affected many people… leave it the hell alone.
    Thank you, goodnight

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    chris August 15, 2006 at 1:20 am

    i’m with jim, amy, chakra lu, and nerf. the guy is wanting to do something that he feels is a positive for the cycling community. alright!

    i was given a ticket for this last year and would like to not be given one again (nerf, i’m not a messenger by the way).

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    Scout August 15, 2006 at 3:44 am

    Once again I’d like to reiterate that this isn’t about “hipster vanity” or even a simple issue of safety. If it were, anyone here could see the video of Ayla Holland stopping her bike and put that notion to rest. She was asked to stop her bike, she did so, and she was ticketed anyway. That’s a far cry from the image some people are portraying of a half-crazed, hell bent messenger, so busy with her fixing her bitchin’ hair and looking cool that she mows down pedestrians left and right. Oh, and old people, too.

    The problem with the law, as I see it, is a badly-worded statute which is being narrowly interpreted. The judge’s confusion with a fixed gear bike clearly clouded his judgement, and he made a mistake which allows ALL cyclists to be targeted. The legal term, which I have brought up before, is called a slippery slope, and it’s a precarious position to be in.

    If you don’t care about fixed gears and you don’t care about all the hullaballoo, that’s perfectly fine. But why shoot down people when they’re trying to make progress on an issue which will ultimately benefit everyone? Or should we all simply lie down, let this one go, and see what happens next?

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    BLDZR August 15, 2006 at 6:13 am

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The difference between commuters and messengers (for the most part) is like the difference between liberals and radicals – one believes that the law is there to protect them, the other knows it is not.

    If this discussion is a waste of time, then why are you wasting your time discussing it? Shouldn’t you be lobbying for the government to get more involved in our personal lives in another way?

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    Brian August 15, 2006 at 8:14 am

    Mr Atkinson,

    Nice publicity stunt.

    Why don’t you work on some real issues facing bike/pedestrian community? Just looked at the Atkinson for Gov web page, I could find nothing about promoting road safety.

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    zach August 15, 2006 at 10:58 am

    does anyone here realize what the oregon republican party accomplished before it was taken over by christian conservatives?

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    Matt P. August 15, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    SKiDmark said:
    “I do feel my reality crumble a little when a Republican is on my side.”

    S’ok, SKiD – it’s not a Republican on your side, it’s a cyclist. The fact that he’s also a Republican is incidental, like being left-handed, or liking plaid.

    😀

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    NeRf August 15, 2006 at 6:05 pm

    This shit just hurts my brain…your right Bldzr, i got a ticket on friday plan on fighting it all the way. And chris you’re now the second not courier popped that i’ve heard of, or maybe the same one.

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  • never trust a junkie « foldable walter September 21, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    […] For Jim there ultimately was a resolution, and though I want to believe there will be one for America, I have my doubts. When I see stretch Hummer limos and people unwilling to even concieve of life without a car, it just makes me worried, despite how many more people I see riding bikes, taking the bus, developing alternative transportation technology, and at least trying to be carlite. On the positive side, there’s even a Republican (you know, those guys that always get blamed for all the wrong doings in the world) defending the plight of fixed gears in Oregon when he could have easily spent his time subsidising oil or something. […]

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  • fixing a Friday « foldable walter October 1, 2006 at 1:56 pm

    […] As far as I’m concerned, the fixed gear works very well as a rear brake or even the primary brake. I’ve ridden “brakeless” (in actuality, I’ve backpedalled to brake) for quite some time, even gone down some very steep descents with no issues. However, there are definately some concerns to be had about whether or not it’s legal to ride on the street without a brake, though we’ve got some people in high places fighting to defend us. For this reason and because, after riding my gearie for a while, I realized I really like riding on the hoods on my drop bars, I put a front brake on my bike just recently. You might disagree and want to ride brakeless. Fine, but because of these concerns, all of our fixed gears will come equipped with at least one brake. Don’t want it? That’s what craigslist is for, silly! […]

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