BikePortland.org

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

[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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