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KOIN covers safe passing bill

Posted by on January 31st, 2007 at 5:04 pm

[Screenshot from KOIN story.
Go here to find video.]

BTA Director Evan Manvel reports that their Senate Bill 299 (PDF here) got some airtime on Portland’s CBS affiliate KOIN-TV yesterday.

I watched the video clip and they do a solid job covering the issue. I’d recommend watching it. They have some interesting on-the-street interviews, some words from Evan, and even some in-studio chit-chat.

There’s no real URL to the video (their website is woeful), so go to this page (which is just a search for the word “cyclists”) and click the video link to “Oregon Bike Riders Want More Room”.

I think it’s interesting to keep tabs on how the network news covers these issues, especially because they reach the largest audience of motorists.

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  • West Cougar January 31, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Sorry, I just don’t get it. What problem is this going to solve? What makes anyone think this is going to be enforced when the existing laws (failure to yield among others) are not?

    I think effort should be spent making the rules of the road reflect cyclist’s unique needs (Hello… rolling stop signs! Anyone?), rather than piling on more unenforceable statutes to protect us from the dumb and/or malicious.

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  • Hubster January 31, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    West C, i agree you have a point – there’s really no reason to think this will result in any increased enforcement, or a rapid change in driver’s passing behavior. I expect to have to hollar “more room, please!” (ok, sometimes there’s no please about it…) once a week for the rest of my cycling life.

    But I do think it will offer an opportunity to spell out for drivers exactly what is enough room, and codify it. I’ll happily take 3 feet. Right now, there’s really no message that can be offered to motorists about how much room to leave when passing a cyclist. The current Oregon driver’s manual says “give bicyclists plenty of room when passing”.

    How much is “plenty”? In the minds of people that don’t bicycle, possibly 6 inches. Being able to give a definitive distance like 3 feet, and actively promoting it (“the law requires that you leave a minimum of 3 feet when passing a bicyclist”) may help these people, over time. Or not.

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  • Slick February 1, 2007 at 7:04 am

    “Solid job covering the issue”?

    I thought it was sensationalist, biased, and aimed to scare people away from riding.

    It opens with the anchor snickering when he hears that cyclists want more room. It plays up the “conflict” between cyclists and motorists. It makes it sound like you can’t ride a bike without causing conflicts with cars. They put a quote in from a woman in a car who said she’s been hit on her bike three times in one day — yeah right — that’s not credible.

    With solid journalists like these… who needs enemies?

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 1, 2007 at 7:16 am

    There is no merit to the argument that this law is unenforceable. Whether it will be enforced is another matter. One problem it is likely to solve is providing a definite legal standard of care for motorists when cyclists bring civil assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and/or battery cases. That alone has tremendous legal value.

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  • Jonathan Maus February 1, 2007 at 7:20 am


    Given what I’ve seen on some other network TV shows, this wasn’t that bad.

    At least they gave the issue some thought and time, emphasized the fatalities and danger cars pose, and interviewed people with varying perspectives on the issue.

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  • Slick February 1, 2007 at 7:56 am


    Just because they weren’t the worst does not mean that they did a solid job. I did not hear maintstream and important points of view in the story.

    Where was the point of view that riding a bike is good and fun? Where was the point of view that people on bikes helps people in cars? Where was the point of view that people should give others space just because it’s the right thing to do?

    The only points I heard made were scary. The biker interviewed talked about how scared he gets when he rides. Even the BTA’s quote was about how a mere bump in the road can lead to a biker being killed. If I didn’t already ride, the story would push me at least one step further away from a bicycle.

    As I said, I thought it was sensationalist, biased, and aimed to scare people away from riding.

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  • Jonathan Maus February 1, 2007 at 8:01 am


    I understand your feelings about the story.

    It’s important to remember that the media has no obligation to include everything we’d like them to include in their stories.

    The simple fact is that danger, sex, crime, etc… is what it takes to get airtime.

    It wasn’t the perfect story, but I have seen worse. Maybe “solid” was too nice. I’ll have to watch it again.

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  • Bjorn February 1, 2007 at 9:30 am

    The corvallis newspaper (which due to media consolidation is barely a corvallis paper) flat out opposed it in their editorial yesterday. That probably means that the 7 or 8 other “local” papers owned by that company in oregon will be opposing it as well.


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  • Brad February 1, 2007 at 10:28 am

    For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone objects to this? It’s freakin’ three feet! By law, no bike lane means I can take the whole lane and tell drivers to suck it.

    If we don’t get this, I propose we hook up with MADD, various PTOs, and safety groups and lobby to turn every non-freeway road into a 20 MPH school zone…for the safety of children of course.

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  • West Cougar February 1, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    A_O, I thought from my context is was clear I was stating this law would not be enforced. I did not say it is unenforceable. I completely agree there is a significant difference.

    My point is: given the limited political capital the BTA and cyclists have, is that better spent on another uneforced law, one that is largely redundant with existing law (at least when it matters most), or is the limited political capital better spent making cycling better for cyclists (things like a rolling stop sign law)? I strongly believe the latter.

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