Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

BTA goes for safety in Salem

Posted by on December 19th, 2006 at 8:38 am

BTA Policy Director Scott Bricker has announced their 2007 legislative agenda and the “overarching concern” is safety. They will move three bills and hope to partner with legislators to make them into law.

Here are the three bills (with my comments following each one):

Share the Road - North Plains

#1) Vulnerable Roadway Users Legislation
In order to protect the rights of cyclists and other non-automotive users, the BTA is seeking to create a new crime – injuring or killing “vulnerable roadway users.” Convicted drivers would receive up to a year in jail, fines, and license suspensions. In advance, violators would be able to choose a diversion program that includes required license suspensions, community service, traffic safety education, and restitution.

I like how they’ve worded this one. I think the more we start talking about the gross inequity in vulnerability between cars and bikes/peds the better. I think this idea can also lead to further discussions of why it makes sense to consider different laws for bicycles in some situations.

#2) Revisions to Existing Law to Improve Cycling Safety and Viability as Transportation
This concept would be to create a minimum safe passing distance of 3’, referred to as the “three foot” rule and adopted by other states and Grants Pass, Oregon. Motorists would also be allowed to cross the double yellow to pass a cyclist. A final provision would clarify bicycling on the sidewalk.

Since this looks like an omnibus bill, I think some folks will be disappointed to not see anything about changing the fixed-gear law or the idea of allowing cyclists to treat stop signs as yields. That being said, I’m aware that separate efforts on both of those issues that are currently being worked on by other groups (more info on those efforts later).

#3) Pedestrian Hand Signal
This concept would increase walkers’ rights by creating an optional hand signal to help a person clarify their intention to cross the street. Walkers already have the right of way in the crosswalk, but this concept would allow walkers to extended their palm out to trigger the right of way.

I think it’s great to help improve pedestrian safety, but I’m surprised to see this one because it doesn’t seem to have any bicycle component.

For BTA legislative policy questions, contact Scott Bricker at scott [at] bta4bikes [dot] org.

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  • Brad December 19, 2006 at 10:53 am

    These are all quite reasonable, cost the taxpayers nearly nothing to implement, and should enjoy bipartisan support. All good first steps by BTA to improve conditions for cyclists.

    A reminder to the never satisfied contingent, taking baby steps and creating a bike friendly atmosphere in the legislature will get us bigger wins down the road. Don’t confuse the debate or encourage resistance by screaming about strawman issues or adopting an “all or nothing” attitude. Real change that works is evolutionary.

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  • Matt Picio December 19, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    If I had to guess, I’d wager that the BTA is trying to set a legal precedent with #3. If pedestrian hand signals grant the pedestrian “right-of-way” (important for liability issues), then that can later be extended to cyclists.

    If #1 passes, that effectively creates a new class of road users, and could be used to justify de-vehicularizing bicycles. Coupled with #3, that might be enough to warrant some serious bike/ped-only laws.

    Note: IANAL, so this is as always, pure speculation on my part. I’d be interested in hearing what Ray Thomas or Mark Ginsburg think about the proposed laws and their possible impact on the legal landscape.

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  • Dabby December 19, 2006 at 4:38 pm

    I have so much to say about this legislative agenda, but most of it is not very nice, so I will hold off a little.
    As Jonathan pointed out, there are things missing, like the Fixed gear “FIX”, and yield legislation.
    I do not understand why the BTA would lobby for legislation dealing with pedestrian hand signals, when we have bike problems THEY COULD FIX!
    This is heavily misdirected, and abuse of the major cycling lobbying group we have.
    This warrants a full rewrite, and perhaps taking a new look at what the Goals of the BTA really are?
    I am very confused…..

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  • Dabby December 19, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    And, while the legislation to cause fines or jail time maybe nice, we still will be left with the main problem.
    The police will not ticket, or even show up to a Bicycle-Car wreck unless there is a injury or death.
    Even if it is a injury, they generally won’t show up.
    We pay the police.
    If it is a car-car wreck, they show up every time.
    We deserve and must be afforded the same luxury.
    The luxury to protect ourselves, and our kind.
    And the luxury to have the party that has wronged the other, be held accountable.
    How many injuries, or deaths is it going to take before you people start to get it?
    People must be held accountable for their actions.
    Drivers know they won’t be. They can pretty much do what they want, as long as they don’t kill you…
    We allow them this.
    The police we “PAY” allow this.

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  • Donna December 19, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    So with this “Vulnerable Roadway Users Legislation”, it doesn’t change the fact that if a car hits another car and the collision kills the driver or a passenger of the vehicle not at fault, the driver at fault just gets a $242 traffic ticket unless they were drunk or acting with intent?

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  • Aaron December 19, 2006 at 11:57 pm

    All of these laws could be summed up in one word. “Duh.” (not phrased negatively)
    These are laws which are so simple anvious that I’m amazed that it has taken us so long for the State government to consider the legislation. Even less bike-friendly cities in America have minimum passing distance laws.
    That said I commend the BTA for looking out for all of us on this.

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  • Cecil December 20, 2006 at 9:09 am

    Regarding items that readers may believe are missing from the BTA proposals. There is nothing to prevent you from seeking to add to or amend any proposed legislation during the legislature’s consideration of the bill – it’s all part of the legislative process.

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  • Michael December 20, 2006 at 1:43 pm

    Re number 3: Don’t trivialize walkers! We bipedals have a much longer and richer history than you bicyclers. 🙂

    (I am actually both, but have found the conversion to mostly foot from mostly bike to be an easier and more satisfying process than was car to bike.)

    I can hardly wait to get my super-size glow-in-the-dark reflectorized STOP glove to flash at every legal pedestrial crossing!

    Oh yeah!

    It will come equipped with an fully automatic middle finger enhancement device to use when the full monty does not bring all motor AND bicycle traffic to a righteous and complete halt.

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  • Dabby December 20, 2006 at 1:54 pm

    My point is that the Bicycle Transportation group should not be lobbying for walkers.
    I was not trivializing anyone, just pointing out how off the mark this agenda is, if you would bother to reread my comment you would understand this.
    By the way, in regards to your post,
    The idiocy involved in your middle finger, signaling glove comments does more to trivialize walkers than I ever could. Way to go……….
    Stay to the right and the hell out of my way!

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  • Cecil December 20, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    For all y’all who so hate it when pedestrians get in your way while you are rding your bike on the sidewalk or multi-use path (such as the Esplanade), you really should consider the fact that those pedestrians are not, as far as a I can tell from my perusal of Oregon state and municipal law, subject to ANY requirement to stay to the right (or any other side, for that matter) of the sidewalk or path, however convenient we cyclists might find it when they do. As an occasional pedestrian who out of sheer politeness (and fear of getting run over) does her best to stay to the right anyway, nothing pisses me off more than those cyclists who treat the Esplanade and other multi-use paths as their own private time trial course and then get mad at pedestrians who slow them down. Pedestrians have the right of way, whichever part of the path they are on. Slow down, use your bell, be polite, and most pedestrians will do their best to stay “the hell out of your way.” Act like a jerk, and don’t be surprised to get the big glowing middle finger.

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  • Dabby December 20, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    Just to clarify, since you are responding in regards certainly to my post, I know that peds, according to Oregon law, are not required to move over.
    I also know that, due to reality, pedestrians need to move over to the right, for safety reasons.
    Walking is slow, and in no manner is it ok to impede the forward momentum and flow of a path because you are lollygagging four wide. Or even two wide for that manner.
    I see you are one of those folks that can’t handle it when people bicycle more efficently and faster than you. This is fine. You will just be putting yourself in the position to be passed. You should expect this, and also move over more to the right.
    This is what is called “Staying the hell out of the way”. Just like staying to the left on a bike, if you are faster, is considered “Staying the hell out of the way”.
    It is the right thing to do. Move over, or get on a sidewalk ( if walking), something other than clogging the route.
    I am tired of people continously quoting statuates, hiding behind outdated legislation.
    Let’s start cycling in the real world here. Lawmakers in Salem are not here riding.
    We are.

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  • adam December 20, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    how is it that the lawyers are telling us that there are no laws to help us be safe.

    I don’t want to run over anyone, just get their safe.

    if you work for the bta, then, start helping these laws get fixed. if not, then, I defer to dabby’s various points.

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  • adam December 20, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    also, as an engineer, safety is not a painted line. come on.

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  • adam December 20, 2006 at 3:37 pm

    warning, drunk driving is dangerous.

    I know some btaers are working hard – lets here the results!

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  • K December 20, 2006 at 4:28 pm


    Were you the cyclist who screamed at my 8 year old niece when she dared to cross the esplanade outside of Omsi last summer?

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  • Cecil December 20, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    Oh, for heaven’s sake, Dabby, let’s not get into a pissing match about who is a faster and more efficient rider, esp. given that we do not know each other, have never ridden with each other, and have no idea how fast or efficient a rider each other may be. That said, I have no problem with being passed by anyone, whether that person is on a bike, in a car or on foot – I do have a problem, however, with being passed in a manner that is stupid, ill-mannered, and dangerous, which has been the point of my posts on this subject. As for your attitude about walking, pedestrians, and their rights as opposed to yours, I simply hope that you are in the minority on that.

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  • rick December 20, 2006 at 7:18 pm

    Come on…if you are going slower than other traffic, you stay to the right. Cecil, no one said that pedestrians are required to stay right, but in that same context why don’t all of us just take the left lane on busy streets where the car traffic is moving faster? Because it’s obnoxious and unnecessary.

    And a multi-use path is just that. Just because pedestrians have the right of way over bicycles does not mean that they have the right to obstruct traffic on the MULTI USE PATH.

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  • Dabby December 20, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    If I had my young niece Lilly ( Lilly just turned 4) on the Esplanade, my hand would be fully planted in hers at any moment she was near the path, as there are cyclists, creepy people lurking around, and a very big, dangerous RIVER right there.
    I would also be doing the right thing and looking left, right, then left again before moving onto, or allowing a child to move onto, or even going sideways across, a multi use path.
    The last thing in the world I would be doing is yelling at a child.
    I sense a lot of hate here.

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  • Evan Manvel, BTA December 21, 2006 at 11:54 am

    For those curious as to why we’re pushing our pedestrian hand signal bill, I wrote a longer piece about it on our blog.

    And yes, we’ll be working on the fixed-gear and stop sign bills, but other folks are taking the lead on those (yay for sharing the load!)

    Thanks for the feedback!

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  • adam December 22, 2006 at 10:00 am

    keep up the great work.

    just because I want more, better, safer, more, always, does not mean that I do not appreciate what you are doing and what you have done.

    now, more, better, safer…

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