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A report from my day in Salem

Posted by on January 17th, 2007 at 1:28 pm

My day in Salem

[BTA’s Scott Bricker
inside the Capitol.]

It’s been a busy morning.

After negotiating Portland’s icy streets, BTA Policy Director Scott Bricker and I made our way down to Salem. For Scott, it was just another day at work, but for me it was an opportunity to learn more about how a bike lobbyist works the system to turn ideas for new bike laws into reality.

It’s only noon, and I’ve been on the floor of the Oregon Senate and have sat in on three productive meetings. The main priority of these meetings is for Scott to explain and get feedback on the BTA’s three bills they’re hoping to pass this session.

Our first meeting was with Republican Senator Jason Atkinson. Sen. Atkinson is a major bike nut who has been very supportive of bike-related bills in the past (especially the fixed-gear controversy). After giving Scott some helpful insight into the BTA bills, Atkinson gave us an update on the fixed-gear bicycle issue and shared some very exciting news about velodromes.

My day in Salem

[Senator Jason Atkinson offers feedback on
one of the BTA’s bills.]

On the fixed-gear bicycle law, he expects to have the official draft of the bill any day now and he promised to forward it to me once it’s ready. Stay tuned.

And the big news is that Atkinson already has a bill in progress to build a new velodrome in Southern Oregon. Far from just talk, Atkinson is working with the State Parks Department to use Measure 66 Lottery money and local matching funds to make it happen. He hadn’t heard about Portland’s own velodrome visions, but was very excited when I told him about it.

The great news for Portland is that he would like to meet with the group behind our local effort to possibly add funding for a Portland velodrome into the bill. He asked me to set up a meeting with Steve Brown and he hopes that the Portland effort will add some traction to his bill. Atkinson — who grew up in Ashland — believes southern Oregon is full of track potential and says he’ll dedicate the Velodrome Bill to, “a future Olympic athlete from Oregon.”

I was amazed at how much work Atkinson had already put into this and how far along in the process it has already come. It just goes to show what a passionate legislator can do for a project.

My day in Salem

[Bricker explains a bill
to Rep. Buckley.]

After Atkinson took me onto the floor of the Senate (and insisted on taking this cheesy photo), we were off to the House side of the Capitol building to see State Rep. Peter Buckley. Buckley, a Democrat from Ashland, told us he rode in the recent Ride the Rogue event and his eyes lit up when he talked about the exciting Rogue River Greenway trail project.

Buckley sits on both the transportation and education committees so Scott brought up the BTA’s work on Safe Routes to School. They also discussed the BTA’s pedestrian bill and Buckley was very supportive. He said he would sponsor the bill because pedestrian safety is a big issue on the bustling main streets in his hometown of Ashland.

My day in Salem

Our next meeting wasn’t with a legislator, but with another lobbyist. Wayne Shumacher represents two motorcycle groups; Bike PAC and ABATE of Oregon. As roadway users with many similar issues as bicyclists, Scott hopes to seek input and potentially partner with Schumacher on the BTA’s Vulnerable Roadway User bill.

Schumacher offered Scott many names of legislators he has worked with that might also be friendly to bicycle issues (very important information to have) and I’m sure he and Scott will continue to work together in the future.

I’m learning a lot (who’s who, legislative jargon, navigating the maze of hallways) and Scott has been awesome in teaching me how everything works. So far I haven’t made a fool of myself or embarrassed him (much) so I hope the second half of the day goes just as well.

===
For more photos, see my Salem Photo Gallery.

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. Thank you — Jonathan

7 Comments
  • brettoo January 17, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    Jonathan: thanks so much for bringing us this inside view. Decisions made there can affect us riders as much as, say, a snowstorm, and for a lot longer! Did Sen. Atkinson, or any other legislator, have anything to say about the possibility of Oregon adopting an Idaho-style law allowing bikes to treat stop signs as yield signs?

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  • TR January 17, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    WOW! amazing report Jonathan. I am impressed with the breadth of issues affecting cyclists that are being covered in the legislature. I don’t know how you can keep it all straight.

    You looked quite at home on the floor there, Senator Maus. That has a nice ring to it, don’t you think.

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  • Options Guy January 17, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    To hear more from Scott Bricker about legislation and bikes, come to the PDOT Bicycle Brown Bag session on Thursday, Feb. 15th, noon – 1 at the Portland Building (see http://www.gettingaroundportland.org for more details).
    And come on down tomorrow – Thurs, Jan. 18th – for the series kick-off. We’ll be screening “Portland: Celebrating America’s Most Liveable City,” previously featured on this blog (http://bikeportland.org/2006/10/06/film-fest-will-showcase-portland-transportation/). Bring your lunch and come chat with bike wonks!

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  • adam January 17, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    in your opinion, community, folks, if all three of the legislative agenda gets passed, are you going to feel any safer? feels like we should just go for a dept of bikeland security or something.

    cars need a rule to pass us safely? do we need a new crime to categorize getting hit by a car? an optional hand signal?

    I know that politics are a patient game, but, I just don’t see the payoff here, I guess. someone maybe could enlighten me?

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  • Jonathan Maus January 17, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Brettoo,

    The “Idaho style” stop sign issue did come up briefly with Senator Atkinson. He didn’t recall it right away (he has been traveling in Kurdistan and just returned) but he did remember hearing about it (hey, that’s a start).

    Seems like this concept would take a lot of work to make into law and it definitely won’t be part of this session…that means if we want it to happen, it would have to wait until 2009.

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  • nerf January 17, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    i wonder, if the bike brake law gets changed, do i still have to pay those tickets?

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  • bArbaroo January 18, 2007 at 9:01 am

    Great story. There are so many things going on in the state…reminds me that we now have a state bike Concierge. I’d be interested in knowing more about that person and what they are working on too.

    Thanks too to the BTA and Scott – proud to be a member and to support your efforts.

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