“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.”
–Oregon state Senator Rick Metsger
For the second time in a row, the roadside memorial sign bill (HB 3623) has failed reach passage by the Oregon legislature.
After it passed the House, the BTA worked hard in recent days to move it through the Senate Transportation Committee where it had stalled due to a lack of support by committee Chair Senator Rick Metsger (D – Mt. Hood).
In a comment left on BikePortland.org a few minutes ago, Senator Metsger explained why he did not move the bill forward (emphasis mine),
“I am not moving this bill, as heartfelt and well-intentioned as it is…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.”
wanted to protect the public
right of way from excessive
amounts of “private expressions.”
(Photo © J. Maus)
Metsger went on to explain that he supported the Share the Road license plate last session because, “it not only contained an important outreach message but also the mechanism to raise funds for real bike safety outreach.”
Metsger, who’s currently running for Secretary of State, says he believes the way to increase safety and awaress for bikes and pedestrians is “through environmental design,” and he urged the cycling community to help craft Oregon’s 2009 transportation package, calling it “the most important venue for making a real impact.”
On that note, the BTA’s Government Relations Director Karl Rohde is asking for your ideas in creating their 2009 legislative package.
(Read Metsger’s full comment here.)
Senator Metsger is telling us how have the greatest impact on making our roads safer. Are we listening?
\”…how [to] have…\”
To my mind, Senator Metsger – who I have a lot of respect for – refused to pander and stuck with what he saw as his larger responsibility as chair of the transport committee. Good for him. Like others, I think this bill would have done little to improve cycling and could have actually been a step backwards in that it promoted advertising the dangers of cycling.
Let\’s move on to something more substantial.
Smart move…and nice \”challenge\” to the cycling community by Metsger.
Without creating a flame war, I\’m surprised that the first three comments share the same sentiment (same person, perhaps)?
I\’m divided on the issue. I agree it raises the spectre of promoting the dangers of cycling, but I believe Metsger did us all a disservice by waiting until the very end to let it fail. If he had concerns, he could have raised them early on, and we would have had an opportunity to hear him out and perhaps pursuade him to act otherwise. Instead, the session is over, and there\’s no more feedback we can offer (not a very good way to engaga your constituents imo).
Was/Is there no one reading the blog that supported this idea? Maybe I am off-base.
I agree with Metsger\’s sentiment, but I wish it were applied more uniformly to the diverse amount of other non-essential signage on the right of way.
Sen. Metsger\’s point about proliferation of signage is a good one – the problem for the legislature in crafting any law that effects roadside signs is to tread the very fine line established by Article 1, section 8, of the Oregon Constitution, which bars any regulation of the content of expression. Unlike the federal First Amendment, and other States\’ constitutional guarantees of free expression, the Oregon constitution does not allow the state to distinguish between commercial and non-commercial speech, and it does not allow the type of zoning based on expressive content that is sometimes possible under other constitutions. All the legislature can do is control the \”time, place and manner\” of expression, and it must do so in way that does not appear to discriminate between types of expression based on content. Consequently, I believe that Sen. Metsger\’s concern that allowing one type of sign will open the door to others is well-taken.
I also believe that we can remember our lost ones better through our works than our words, and would rather see the energy expended on this sign issue directed to more lasting efforts to promote safe roads for everyone.
Matt G (#5)
I\’m not a.O. , but kinda flattered you thought I might be 🙂
I agree with Metsger. Imagine if every dead vulnerable Tom, Dick and Harry had a roadside memorial. It\’s just not practical. Sarcasm.
I would rather have a sign that says, \”Left Turn Must Yield to Peds and Cyclists\”, with a white light illuminating it at night, facing 60th at Halsey where I was completely ignored and almost run over Monday evening at 6:30 by a whole line of speedy left-turning motorists while crossing at the light, inside the crosswalk, with the white ped crossing sign on.
BTA pretty much wasted its time on this boner. Environmental design to increase bike and ped safety? Much better use of BTA time. Hey, how about using traffic calming devices to enforce 25 mph speed limits within 2,000 feet of schools, parks, and wherever kids gather?
If sex offenders are banned by statute 2,000 feet of schools, parks and daycares, why should we allow CRIMINAL speeders near the kiddos?
Perhaps because nearly everywhere worth living is within 1,000\’ (the actual statute distance, last I knew) of a school, park, or wherever kids gather. The statute is inane and discriminatory, and creates pockets of sex offenders who have to live near each other because there are so few locations that adhere to the statute.
I agree that the BTA may have served the community better by picking a different issue, but I wouldn\’t say their time was \”wasted\” – they managed to draw attention to the issue and spark dialog – never a \”waste\” of time.
BTW, bikebillboards – are YOU a BTA member? Have you visited their site and commented on what you think their priorities should be? If you want to influence them, join, tell them what\’s important to YOU, and help shape policy. We (cyclists) desperately need people to do concrete things towards promoting, enhancing and bettering cycling in Portland. Don\’t just gripe – act!
There are all sorts of groups that I disagree with. Do you recommend joining all of them to change them from within?
Seems like a silly line of reasoning to me.