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Roadside memorial signs bill stalls in Salem

Posted by on February 19th, 2008 at 9:21 am

Safe Sound and Green press event-4.jpg

Senator Rick Metsger, shown here
in a file photo, has not supported
the bill.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The only bicycle-related bill in the abbreviated legislative session in Salem is on life support.

HB 3623, which would allow bereaved families to request (and pay for) the installation of a “roadside memorial sign that commemorates a bicyclist or pedestrian killed in an accident involving a motor vehicle”, flew through the House with no opposition. Now, according to Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) lobbyist Karl Rohde, the bill is stalled in the Senate Transportation Committee.

In a phone call after an “exhausting day” in Salem, Rohde said Committee Chair Rick Metsger is not pushing this bill through due to his concern with “the proliferation of signs on our highways.” On that note, Rohde pointed out that the bill includes a stipulation that signs will be removed after three years.

“I think he’s worried that if we pass this bill,” added Rohde,

“other groups would line up wanting signs too. But the reality is that for the last ten years a similar bill has existed for people killed in drunk driving-related accidents…and out of 250 deaths, only about 40 signs have been erected. From those numbers, this bill would probably only generate 10-15 signs a year statewide.”

Rohde also says Metsger’s lack of support on this bill might not bode well for his run for Secretary of State.

Rohde says the bill is “dead in the water” unless key Senators “get the word” from supporters. Rohde plans to issue an action alert later today urging the BTA’s 4,000-plus members to contact Senator Metsger and Senate President Peter Courtney.

Rohde is back in Salem today meeting with legislators to try and push the bill through. UPDATE: Rohde told me a few minutes ago that he was told by the Senate Majority Leader that if the bill does not get a committee hearing today, it is officially dead.

This is the second attempt by Representative Jerry Krummel (R-Wilsonville) to pass the bill which he dubbed “Eric’s Law” in honor of the late Eric Kautzky. In June of last year, Krummel blamed the bill’s failure on House Democrats.

It was expected to easily pass in part because family members foot the entire cost of the process.

If you’re wondering, this bill would not apply in the recent death of 15 year-old Austin Miller in Beaverton because the bill requires “proof of conviction” of the operator of the motor vehicle. (So far, no citation has been issued in that bus operator in that case.)

I have requested a comment from Senator Metsger and I expect to hear back from him later today (I’ll update the post when I do).

Read the full text of HB 3623.

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Dan Kaufman
Guest

I am opposed to this bill.

It does nothing tangible to improve bike safety.

More concerning, it bolsters the conventional wisdom that cycling is not safe.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Also, in the City Of Portland, it is against ordinance to allow posting of a memorial sign, a fact I learned when trying to get a sign erected in honor of the fabulous Kristine.

This denial came straight from the office of Sam Adams. (though I was informed by one of his staffers)

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

I agree with Dan Kaufman\’s comments.

a.O
Guest
a.O

I do as well. As a BTA member, I would hope we would focus on expending our political capital on legislation that actually increases safety on our roadways, something surveys reveal as the #1 barrier to more people getting on bikes.

Moo
Guest
Moo

I would agree to a stand-alone memorial set up in a prominent public area for all to see and experience. Driving by a roadside sign just doesn\’t do much for me.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Also,

While I think that memorializing deaths is called for, there are truly more important bicycle issues that should, and are not, being dealt with through legislation, which is a very expensive process.

Isn\’t it interesting that out of all the bike issues that were slated for the past legislative season, that this is the one still on the table?

I guess it goes to show the priorities of those who are making the decisions for us.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I wouldn\’t support this bill either. The following excerpt from the edited summary of the bill accessible through the link provided in the article above, is just weird:

\”(2) The Department of Transportation shall erect and maintain a
roadside memorial sign that commemorates a bicyclist or
pedestrian killed in an accident involving a motor vehicle if:
(a) The bicyclist or pedestrian dies as a result of an accident
involving a motor vehicle on a state highway and the driver of
the motor vehicle is convicted of an offense related to the
accident; and (….)\”

Now why would someone think that conviction of the driver would be a reasonable condition to allowing the commemoration of a tragic death of a person? A death is tragic whether the motor vehicle driver responsible for causing it is convicted or not.

I also think that maybe some clarification should somehow be made to allow for the temporary placement of spontaneous memorials such as the one installed cyclists of late. Maybe there already is one. I don\’t know. People shouldn\’t expect them to stand forever, but a certain, known period of time seems perfectly reasonable.

Metal Cowboy
Guest

I echo sentiments that the BTA should be going after issues that actually improve cycling safety and infrastructure. Not to take anything away from memorials but let\’s work to reduce the number of memorials we have by lobbying for more funds, projects and education connected to cycling.

Karl Rohde
Guest
Karl Rohde

This bill was submitted by Rep. Krummel. It is virtually the same as the one he submitted last year that did not pass. Due to the nature of the “special session” there was not a realistic opportunity to forward more comprehensive legislation this year. The legislature is only meeting for the month of February and there were a number of restrictions placed on what bills could be introduced.

For the 2009 regular session, we are developing a list of potential bills that includes the issues that have been brought up here. The 2009 session offers many more opportunities for significant legislation to be introduced. We welcome input on what kind of issues we should be pushing.

We understand the argument that these signs might perpetuate the incorrect feeling that bicycling is unsafe. However, it is more likely to constantly remind people of their obligation to share the road safely. Further, it personalizes the issue and reminds folks that cyclists killed on Oregon roads are real people with names and loved ones. That was the whole point of the “And We Bike” campaign out in Washington County last year.

Dave
Guest
Dave

More likely based on what? Has someone actually studied the question and been able to say definitely that memorial signs do more to encourage safe driving than they do to discourage cycling?

Surely there\’s a way to achieve our goals without raising that concern in the first place.

Antonio Gramsci
Guest
Antonio Gramsci

Hmm. I guess the authors of this bill believe in making a distinction between the \”deserving dead\” and the \”undeserving.\” So, if the cops don\’t issue a citation to a motorist for killing you on the roads, that means you \”had it coming\”??

Almost reminds me of the \”eugenic theory of traffic safety\”:
http://tinyurl.com/39s3q8

John Russell
Guest

If we outlawed drunk driving, why can\’t we just outlaw stupid driving as well?

Metal Cowboy
Guest

Karl,

No disrespect to you and the BTA for your hard work down in salem. It just seems to me, and grantedd I am not down there in Salem during this special session to see the playfield up close, but it seems to me that getting behind a bill being championed by a conservative republican as his one bill during this session because he wants to appear to be bike friendly while he does a favor for a constituent in his district who died in a bike accident… what is this going to do in terms of substantial improvement for the safety of the state\’s cycling community – I am not convinced that road signs memorializing cyclists addresses that. I\’ll give you that it keeps cycling deaths in the thoughts of drivers and that may make them more careful, but I think ghost bikes and memorials at the locations of the actual accidents ( which by the fact that a cyclist was killed there, lend weight to it perhaps being a dangerous location, intersection etc.) does the same thing, while allowing the community to be involved more in the memorial and gives everyone something to ponder every time they pass – I\’d like to see the stats on adopt a highway trash signs increasing trash pick up, and drunk driving crosses reducing accidents in a certain place –
Truth be told I\’m not against signage as memorials, I just don\’t see it as a pressing issue given the short session and the efforts that could have been made to get bike frieendly pols to champion something more substantial.

Is the BTA getting behind Krummel\’s bill in part because we hope that he will be look upon future bills that we care about more favorably? My experience is that you can\’t trust a political to come around to issues that you believe in AFTER he/she has gotten what they want from your lobby… meaning I wouldn\’t count on a conservative rep pol who doesn\’t not have a voting record for champion bike relatedd causes to step up in the future.

My two cents:

also, you asked for ideeas of what sort of bills we should seek in future sessions. Increasing the bike bill funding from 1971 to say double what it supplies in transportation dollars to bike and pedd projects today
And here\’s something that the washington bike alliance has gotten behind in their current session – this is the sort of thing that I would be happier to see the bta lobbying for in Oregon –
A bill (HB 2564) that beefs up safety content of the drivers\’ education curriculum by adding information about bicyclists to the drivers\’ manual has cleared the state House.

Metal Cowboy
Guest

Sorry – my other post was full of spelling issues – what I get for typing and tending to small children at the same time…

Karl,

No disrespect to you and the BTA for your hard work down in salem. It just seems to me, and granted, I am not down there in Salem during this special session to see the playing field up close, but it seems to me that getting behind a bill being championed by a conservative republican as his one bill during this session because he wants to appear to be bike friendly while he does a favor for a constituent/family in his district who died in a bike accident… what is this going to do in terms of substantial improvement regarrding safety of the state\’s cycling community – I am not convinced that road signs memorializing cyclists addresses that. I\’ll give you that it keeps cycling deaths in the thoughts of drivers, and that it may make them more careful, but I think ghost bikes and memorials at the locations of the actual accidents ( which, given the fact that a cyclist was killed there, lends weight to it perhaps being a dangerous location, intersection etc.) does the same thing, And does it while allowing the community to be involved more in the memorial and gives everyone something to ponder every time they pass – I\’d like to see the stats on adopt a highway trash signs increasing trash pick up, and drunk driving crosses reducing accidents in a certain place –
Truth be told, I\’m not against signage as memorials, I just don\’t see it as a pressing issue given the short session and the efforts that could have been made to get bike friendly pols to champion something more substantial.

Is the BTA getting behind Krummel\’s bill in part because we hope that he will be look upon future bills that we care about more favorably? My experience is that you can\’t trust a pol to come around to issues that you believe in AFTER he/she has gotten what they want from your lobby… meaning I wouldn\’t count on a conservative repub pol who doesn\’t have a voting record for championing bike related causes, I wouldn\’t count on him to step up in the future.

My two cents:

Also, you asked for ideas of what sort of bills we should seek in future sessions. Increasing the bike bill funding from 1971 to say double what it supplies in transportation dollars to bike and ped projects today – that would be something to get behind…
And here\’s something that the Washington bike alliance has gotten behind in their current session – this is the sort of thing that I would be happier to see the bta lobbying for in Oregon –
A bill (HB 2564) that beefs up safety content of the drivers\’ education curriculum by adding information about bicyclists to the drivers\’ manual has cleared the state House.

Scott
Guest

I feel your pain about the spelling issues and posting twice (or three times in your case) ;0) I wish Jonathan would bring back the \”preview\” feature and add a spell check. please jonathan?

Scott
Guest

oh… and by the way, Metal Cowboy, I agree with you.

Metal Cowboy
Guest

Crikey! I only show my brief 😉 diatribe posting twice. Did it actually post three times? The shame…

But I want to clarify one thing, I wasn\’t singling out republicans as antibike and dems as all pedaling their way over to the rotunda down there in salem. If my memory serves me it was a fairly conservative republican from southern Oregon – here it is – State Representative Don Stathos, a Republican from Jacksonville introduced the visionary Bicycle Bill back in 1971, which mandated one-percent of all state highway monies be spent on bicycle and pedestrian paths – Don couldn\’t understand why society had designed our world such that it created out of shape people through the course of their daily activities – sounds like our current situation. My point being that the bike lobby can find champions for our issues on both sides of the aisle, if they look hard and make sure they are playing from a position of strength – in this case though I fear that Krummel is playing the bike lobby like a good utility shortstop.

Also, did I read the bill correctly? Does it really award memorials only to those dead peds and cyclists when the driver has been convicted of a traffic offense? If true, that\’s a flawed bill.

If the BTA couldn\’t find a solid bill to get a politican down there to put up during this short term, my vote would have been to hold a press conference saying that the pols down in Salem don\’t care wnough about vulnerable users to champion any causes this session. That might get some of them moving on something in 2009.

Patti
Guest

We all know that most of the recent accidents leave us believing the motorist was at fault, but there was no tickets issued and therefore those particular fallen cyclists do not \”qualify\” for a sign? That really is odd. Back to the drawing board.

Karl Rohde
Guest
Karl Rohde

I’ll be the first to admit that the Memorial Sign bill wasn’t perfect, but I have rarely seen a bill that is. There are always compromises made to try to get enough support to pass. The conviction requirement was one of those compromises.

This VERY short session of the legislature really didn’t allow for the kind of comprehensive bicycle bills we might want to be dealt with. Of the few bills that were introduced, many of them have been sidelined because of their complexity or their fiscal impact.

Rep. Krummel has been a strong supporter of bicycle related bills. Last year he not only voted in favor of the Vulnerable Users Bill but also was one of a handful of representatives to speak in favor of the bill on the floor of the House. Bicycle bills seem to be bipartisan. There are as many Democrats against them as there are Republicans for them.

The two items suggested by “Metal Cowboy” are both on our list of possible legislation for the 2009 session. I have just posted an opportunity for you to provide us your input on the BTA blog. I encourage folks to send their suggestions to me at the BTA.

Sen. Rick Metsger
Guest

I appreciate the thoughtful discussion. I am not moving this bill, as heartfelt and well-intentioned as it is, for many of the reasons that have been articulated here. As Chairman of The Senate Transportation Committee it is my responsibility to protect the public right of way for its intended purpose as much as possible. That includes minimizing its use for private expressions regardless of the content. The cascading effect of others with equally well intentioned objectives to use the right of way for their expressions is something that we must be mindful of. All citizens needed to be afforded the same rights for public speech that are given others.

Last year I did move through my committee and into law Sen. Prozanski\’s bill to allow a share the road license plate. It was the only license plate bill I would move because it not only contained an important outreach message but also the mechanism to raise funds for real bike safety outreach.

I believe increasing safety and awareness for cyclists and pedestrians and increasing safety through environmental design is where we need to focus our efforts. Thats why I have been an ardent supporter of Commissioner Adams Safe and Green Streets proposal.
I believe the assistance of the cyclcing community in helping craft our state transportation package for 2009 is the most important venue for making a real impact. I am enthusiastic about working with advocates to put real dollars into real improvements to enhance and encourage safety and encourage increased usage.

2GOAT
Guest
2GOAT

Metal Cowboy,
Did I understand your comment about Washington Bill HB 2564 correctly?
Washington has passed a bill to increase driver\’s ed curriculum to include bicyling safety…Is this an improvement over the current info in the Oregon Driver Manual?? If yes, I would really like to know more to see if we can do something to improve Auto and Bicycle driver/rider\’s education.

Metal Cowboy
Guest

2GOAT – here\’s the scoop on that wash bill – pasted below – made it through the house, now needs senate approval – folks who live in wash should make their support known! Oregonians should try, and it sounds like Karl and BTA is working on something like this for 2009 session – this is the sort of thing I think will have a meaningful impact on cycling safety.
____________

Good news on a key bill backed by the Bicycle Alliance

A bill (HB 2564) that beefs up safety content of the drivers\’ education curriculum by adding information
about bicyclists to the drivers\’ manual has cleared the state House. The bill was voted out of the House
on Tuesday afternoon. To make it into law, the Senate must now likewise give its approval.

The Senate will begin looking at this bill immediately. The Senate companion bill is SB 6420.
Sometime this week please contact your senator to urge his or her support for this
important piece of legislation to help ensure a generation of better trained drivers more informed
about how to share our roads safely with bicyclists. They need to hear from many people across
the state in order to understand how important this is!

Key points to make when calling or writing your senator:
* This bill had overwhelming support in the House (73-22, 3 excused)
* There is no cost (no fiscal note) to the state to add bicyclists to the drivers\’ manual
* It\’s in line with material already prepared by the Department of Licensing, which supports the legislation
* Recognizes changing conditions on our roadways (more bicyclists)
* Will increase safety for bicyclists by better training a new generation of drivers
Without delay, contact your senator and urge support for this important piece of safety legislation.

The Bicycle Alliance is also promoting a budget item to fund a pilot project in three school districts.
Watch for information on the progress of that.

Gordon Black
Executive Director
Bicycle Alliance of Washington
PO Box 2904
Seattle WA. 98111
(206) 224-9252 Ex. 300
http://www.bicyclealliance.org

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Patti,

This bill would probably not even make a difference in signage for the recent accidents anyway, regardless of citations, because the City of Portland \”does not allow, nor endorse memorial signage within the city limits\”.

I doubt it would have overridden that local ordinance.

I have been told by city hall that signs, ghost bikes and such are tolerated and not touched or removed until there is an actual complaint from a local business or resident.

If there is a complaint, any memorial will be removed by city workers.

By the way, this does leave open a loophole towards putting up tasteful signage, a loophole which I have personally been planning to exploit.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I wanted to read the original bill in order to gain additional insight on what it provides for, and the process involved in carrying it out. It\’s a three page document, so here\’s a link:

Wash St Drivers Ed curriculum bill

(I\’m still a little green posting links, so I hope this works.)

2GOAT
Guest
2GOAT

Thank You for the info Metal Cowboy! wsbob your link worked!
I believe this is an area of legislature the Oregon BTA should get involved with and will post to Karl Rohde