Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

BTA bill moves one step forward in Salem

Posted by on January 26th, 2007 at 3:27 pm

On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee in Salem will hold a public hearing on Bill 299 (full text here).

The BTA calls this their “omnibus” bill because it actually contains several parts:

  • Requires a 3-foot minimum passing distance when overtaking a bicycle.
  • Clarifies that bicycles must slow to a “walking” speed (3mph) when entering a crosswalk in presence of a motor vehicle (but can speed up once in the crosswalk).*
  • Adds language to existing “unsafe operation of bicycle in a sidewalk” statute (ORS 814.410). The BTA wants to change the definition of speed from “ordinary walk” to “what is reasonable under existing conditions.”**
  • Allows motor vehicles to cross over the centerline to pass bicycles safely on narrow roads.
  • Allows cars to operate in a bike lane under specific circumstances, such as when “avoiding an obstacle” and/or when passing a car on the right when that car is signaling a left turn.

(*This means when someone a motor vehicle hits a kid in a driveway, the bicyclist doesn’t get ticketed for riding faster than walking speed, which is abnormally slow for a bicycle.)

According to BTA policy man Scott Bricker, the bill has gotten a hearing (a crucial step in the process) because it is a high-priority for Judiciary Committee chair Senator Ginny Burdick, a known pro-bike legislator (who’s also nominated for an Alice Award).

Scott says on Monday there will be a public testimony period, then the bill will be discussed by legislators. Even if this bill passes through this committee (which is very likely), it still must get past the House and the Senate. Scott adds that there’s still work to be done,

“This is just the first step, but it’s nice to be able to tick it off the list.”

If you can’t make it to Salem (Monday 1/29 at 1:30 in room 343), you can always watch the preceedings online.

There is some discussion about this on the BTA Blog and I noticed they’ve updated their website with their 2007 legislative efforts. Stay tuned for more Salem coverage as the session continues.

[*Update: **If this is confusing, refer to the full text of the bill (PDF). Also, please understand this bill is a work in progress and the BTA is continuing to amend the language.]

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.

  • Curt Dewees January 26, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    You wrote: (*This means when someone hits a kid in a driveway, he/she doesn’t get ticketed for riding faster than walking speed, which is abnormally slow for a bicycle.)

    I don’t think that’s a very strong example of why this new law is a good idea. If you’re riding your bike in the sidewalk and mowing down kids in the driveway, then you are riding too fast and deserve be ticketed, perhaps for reckless driving or reckless endangerment.

    If you want to ride fast, get out onto the roadway. If you want to ride on the sidewalk, please ride slowly enough that you can avoid pedestrians, especially small children.

    Bicyclists can legally ride on sidewalks in most areas, but we should remember that–on sidewalks–pedestrians have the right of way.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jonathan Maus January 26, 2007 at 3:48 pm


    Sorry I was not clear. Check it again and let me know if that makes more sense. It’s hard for me sometimes to decipher the way the bills are written into normal language.

    When Scott explains that part of the bill it makes a lot of sense to me.

    Maybe he or Evan can chime in if necessary.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dabby January 26, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    I do not understand why the” slowing to a walking speed when entering a crosswalk” is there.
    I just erased a whole post, and will replace it with one simple question.
    Why is the wording regarding entering crosswalks how it is?
    It does not appear to clarify, in regards to how a cyclist must enter and exit a crosswalk, where this said cyclist is coming from.
    If it said strictly that when coming from the sidewalk into a crosswalk, you have to slow to a walking speed, this makes sense.
    But it appears to be open ended enough to not include what the bike is required to do , when, rolling down the street, said cyclist enters a sidewalk.
    It reads, if I may be blunt, as a yield for any cyclist, anywhere near a crosswalk, regardless of right of way due to lights, or placement.
    Hopefully I have just missed something, and one of you will point it out to me, and all will be well.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Scott Bricker, BTA January 26, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    This would be a revision of current law that currently requires bicyclists to ride at a walking speed (3 mph) when approaching or in a crosswalk and when riding on a sidewalk when crossing a driveway/curb cut and autos are present.

    Our bill breaks apart sidewalk and crosswalk riding. We leave alone crosswalk riding (perhaps to be dealt with at a later time) and seek to amend sidewalk riding to a “reasonable speed” when riding past driveways.

    The current law actually allows cyclists to ride at any speed in other situations as long as they yield the right-of-way to walkers and give an audible call when passing. This bill would not change that… we believe that bicyclists must be courteous to walkers in order to share the space safely.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dabby January 26, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    On a further note,
    I agree that all right of way should be given to pedestrians whilst in the crosswalk, even when they are jaywalkin’. It may be idiotic to cross against the signal, but it is a crosswalk, so leave em be.
    But yielding to cars in a crosswalk scenario?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Coyote January 27, 2007 at 8:27 am

    I really dislike laws that specify an etiquette by saying “reasonable”. Who decides what is reasonable? In theory it is a judge or even a jury. In practice it is a cop. Aren’t many of us continually questioning the police’s judgment when it comes to bicycle operation?

    By and large, I will ride my bike however the state tells me too. Please don’t make me try and get into a cop’s head about what is reasonable.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dabby January 27, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    Your explanation aside, the wording still does not differentiate between whether the bike is on the sidewalk or not during the scenarios. if it flat out said, any bike coming off of a sidewalk inot a crosswalk, this would be covered.
    It says nothing of the sort, from the bill I read…
    This was my major point. It is an open ended pandora’s box….

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • lianagan January 28, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    The problem with this bill is the bundling of the car portion with the bicycle provisions. I think this is a bad idea. Drivers are already cutting cyclists off by moving into bike lanes preparing to turn right or go around left turning vehicles. This will just give them the right to continue to put cyclists lives in danger. I very rarely see a driver actually look first to see if there is a cyclist in the bike lane, and their tendency is to perform these actions very quickly. I also often see people driving in the bike lane well before the intersection where they are turning.

    If there is a bike lane that extends through an intersection, then it is there for a reason, and that reason is to serve cyclists, not cars. The most important provision of this bill is the three foot rule. Let’s keep that separate. I am very surprised not to see this being addressed. The entire bill needs to be re-written.

    I don’t think that cyclists should pander to the impatience of drivers. I am also an occasional driver and I have no problem with staying out of the bike lane if I need to make a right turn. When I’m cycling and have to take the lane, I don’t expect the cars behind me to run me over or squeeze me out of the road because they want to turn sooner ( although some try that), so what’s a few extra seconds to wait behind someone turning? I’m for leaving the current bike lane laws intact and seeing them actually enforced.

    Call your legislators now!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Macaroni January 29, 2007 at 2:36 am

    I agree 100% that it is a BIG mistake to allow drivers to swing out into the bike lane to pass a car. What was BTA thinking? Aren’t our lives endangered enough? Whose wild idea was this? Does this lunatic actually bike commute?

    I also think bikes should be walked in a crosswalk. I really don’t see the usefulness of this bill.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Brian January 29, 2007 at 9:32 am

    I live on a busy street popular for bikers. As a regular bicyclist myself, I’m very careful when I back out of my driveway to avoid cyclists who might be riding on the sidewalk (this portion of the street doesn’t have a bike lane). With trees and shrubs on an adjacent property, I have a limited view of the sidewalk. I always look two or three times both ways and SLOWLY back out. With these precautions, I’ve still had a few close calls with bikers who ride too fast on the sidewalk. With this new law, would I be at fault if a cyclist hits me if they’re riding at a speed (say, 15 mph) where they can’t stop in time?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Curt Dewees February 1, 2007 at 11:49 am

    OK, I think I get it now.

    This part of the bill says, basically, that if a motorist hits a bicyclist in a driveway, it’s not the bicyclist’s fault, even if the bicyclist was traveling faster than 3 mph. That makes sense. The motorist should yield to the bicyclist.

    The way your example was originally worded, it seemed to say [to me, anyway] that if a *bicyclist* hit a child/pedestrian in a driveway, it wouldn’t be the bicyclist’s fault. That didn’t make sense to me at all.

    Thanks for the clarification.

    Recommended Thumb up 0