The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Summit attendees outline priorities, next steps

Posted by on April 5th, 2008 at 3:54 pm

Oregon Bike Summit afternoon sessions-25.jpg

Kristin Dahl with Travel Oregon
facilitated a session on recreation.
(Photos © J. Maus)

As I mentioned in my previous story, participants in today’s Oregon Bike Summit broke off into brainstorming sessions today that were focused around three topics: transportation, recreation, and industry.

Their mission? To determine the top five priorities for action in each of them. In lieu of retyping them all, below are the slides that a representative from each group presented during a discussion among the entire summit:

What do you think of these priorities?


Things are wrapping up here at the summit. If I can muster it, I’ll do a final wrap-up sometime tonight.

— Check out all the other coverage here.
— See all the photos here.

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

  • DJ Hurricane April 5, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Can anyone shed any light on Travel & Transportation Item #2 regarding \”the constitutional requirement that $$$ is spent in the right of way\”?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 6, 2008 at 7:31 am

    \”Can anyone shed any light on Travel & Transportation Item #2 regarding \”the constitutional requirement that $$$ is spent in the right of way\”?\”

    I believe that refers to the constitutional requirement for Gax Tax revenue to only be used in the highway right of way.

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  • DJ Hurricane April 6, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Boy, that seems like a tall order. But nothing wrong with dreaming big.

    And, I should have been clearer in the first post: How does that change help get funding for bike-specific transportation changes? Aren\’t those mostly in the right of way as well, or is it about funding education?

    Anyway, great reporting as always!

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  • Joe April 6, 2008 at 8:49 am

    So i might be wrong, but does all gas tax go just building more roads? more roads more cars?

    I have a dream one day riding from oregon
    all the way to norcal without seeing cars? 🙂

    peace all

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 6, 2008 at 9:06 am

    \”How does that change help get funding for bike-specific transportation changes?\”

    As I understood it, the problem is that the highway right of way, in many instances, is not a place that can be made safe and comfortable for all levels of cyclists (kids, seniors). Therefore, the thinking is to use funds in other rights of way and/or perhaps separated paths, etc…

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  • Mark April 6, 2008 at 9:53 am


    Could you post the text from the Recreation slide and the Travel & Transportation slide as they aren\’t quite clear enough to read on my pc.

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  • Scott Bricker, BTA April 6, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Thanks for all of your coverage, awesome like usual. This and other wrap-up information will be posted on the Oregon Bike Summit webpage in about a week, so hopefully you can post it here too.

    I am excited to work with the diverse community of cyclists to keep this work going forward and hopefully together we can finalize an ambitious and board agenda for bicycling in Oregon, and make real gains over the next year and at the 2009 Legislature.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 6, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    In the following I will explicitly direct my comments about these priorities to the SECOND of the two sets of issues: TRANSPORTATION, as distinguished from RECREATION, about which I have not taken as much time to think.

    I\’m glad that people are committed enough to bike issues to organize a summit like this. However:

    I\’m disappointed by the priorities identified here. The problem? We are faced with a clear, overriding crisis situation which calls for a sense of great urgency: the continuing bloodbath of American streets and roads, 42,000 deaths a year, the solution to which will NOT come from the misguided goal of creating illusionary \”separate facilities\” for just one mode of transportation.

    There are so many problems and pitfalls with this approach that it is hard to even know where to begin. But, for starters:

    Singling out one mode of transportation for \”separate\” facilities (mostly they are NOT really separate, mostly we are really just talking about lines of paint and signage) creates an invidious competition between bicyclists and other modes, which can only wind up harming the former.

    Also, to the extent that the facilities ARE separate, there comes a danger of isolating cyclists and reducing their visibility and thus legitimacy as a transportation mode in the mind of the general public.

    Even lines of paint demarcating exclusive areas of the roadway for cyclists also carry similar dangers. I cannot begin to count how many times I\’ve been harassed by belligerent motorists annoyed at my merging carefully to make a left turn into \”their\” lane, when I should be staying in \”my\” (bike) lane.

    This is not to say that such facilities have absolutely no usefulness, but only to point out that they are not any kind of panacea at all, and that they even have distinct drawbacks that should be examined carefully before enjoying any further endorsement or expansion.

    However, even more compelling and troubling than these observations is the reality of those 42,000 deaths a year to which I referred. Read the driver\’s handbook. Any traffic safety experts will tell you: Those deaths are largely NOT the result of engineering failures. They overwhelmingly result from human errors, incompetence, and negligence.

    If this crisis situation is being caused by a combination of errors, incompetence, and negligence on the part of vehicle operators, then it follows logically that the solution is not likely to ever be found in facilities changes, but will instead require a combination of EDUCATION and ENFORCEMENT.

    So, where are education and enforcement among the priorities identified here? At the top, as they should be? Further down the list? At the bottom? Or, worst of all, absent altogether?

    The answer is depressing. Aside from one fleeting mention of *cyclist* education programs near the very bottom, they are absent altogether.

    I\’m struggling to understand the reasons for this surreal disconnect between these priorities and the brutal reality that confronts us.

    I can only conclude that the overwhelming majority of Americans, even those who identify as strong proponents of \”transportation alternatives,\” are so inured and desensitized to the daily carnage that surrounds them, that they simply don\’t see it, don\’t have any will find the best and most direct means to put a stop to it, and perhaps don\’t really even have the imagination and conviction to believe that it can be done.

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  • Jim Lee April 6, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Does Kristin really \”Gesture hypnotically?\”

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  • Tankagnolo Bob April 6, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    There was MUCH talk about education of cyclists and drivers. We even discussed having more cycling rules on drivers tests and even a test for cyclists to be licenced.

    There was much talk of school and community safety programs.

    And stricter inforcement for motorists AND cylists who do not follow the law.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 6, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    What happened, then, to the lists above? Was there a typographical error made??

    I think the answer is that, while you may be right that there was talk, those subjects were simply not deemed important enough, did not receive enough of people\’s attention and interest, to make the cut among the \”top five\” priorities. My point still stands.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 6, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Also, Bob, there is another problem I detect in what you\’ve said about the discussion you say occurred. You emphasized that both enforcement efforts directed towards both motorists and cyclists were discussed.

    now, I have nothing against sensible enforcement efforts directed towards dangerous cycling. The trouble, however, is in the implications of your emphasis. It seems to imply a zeal for \”evenhandedness,\” as if to say \”Look, we just want equal treatment, we have no grudge against motorists.\”

    The trouble with that position is, while the sentiment may be noble, the overwhelming majority of the 42,000 deaths I referred to are being caused by MOTORIZED machinery. Therefore, enforcement efforts directed towards MOTORIZED machinery operators are paramount. And, while it might superficially seem as if such facts hardly need stating, evidently and unfortunately, they do, and they cannot be stated enough.

    I repeat: what has happened is that, in the midst of the daily carnage on our streets and highways, we have become hardened, desensitized, even calloused, to the point that it is necessary to repeat the obvious, to repeat it over and over again, to make a really big stink about it, until people are roused from their deadly lethargy to take action directly to confront this crisis.

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  • Robert Ping April 6, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Too bad you couldn\’t make it to the Summit, Antonio! We could have used your passion, and you could have learned about what actually happened, and therefore not be so quick to pass judgement on the images you see above. The five goals you see in each category are simply the most popular of many that each breakout group identified, and they were scribbled down for reference at the end of the brainstorming session. There was not the time or space to write out all the details of each goal on the paper pads. Now the hard work of fleshing out these goals and figuring out how to accomplish them will begin – will you join and/or support the advocates who will now start doing this? I hope so. And I would bet that within those very broad goals that a strong education component was included in most of them. If I had a dollar for every time the word education was uttered, followed by \”yes\” and head nods during the Summit…

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  • Matt Picio April 6, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Antonio (#8) – Wow. I\’m not sure exactly how you derived all that from that slide.

    Copenhagen has separate bike facilities, and they don\’t have the deaths that the US Has – so I don\’t think that the presence of separate facilities is the issue. Either ours are somehow designed inadequately for where they\’re placed, or more likely, it\’s a result of poor motorist and cyclist education. Two other major contributing factors are the motorists who aren\’t used to operating their vehicles around cyclists, and cyclists who ride unpredictably and unsafely.

    Note – \”riding predictably\” does not necessarily mean VC (Vehicular Cycling)

    And frankly, I disagree – driver education and enforcement are NOT cycling priorities, and the Oregon BIKE Summit is not the place for that discussion. The lack of road users to follow the law is a much greater issue that needs to be addressed on a much more basic level. Education is key, but there is also so much more that needs to be done. The licensing process is too simple, and has no adequate system to ensure that drivers are keeping up with changes in the law, and that their reaction time and driving skills are still up-to-par.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 6, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Please let me elaborate a bit: We know that the most oft cited reason people give for not riding is fear. Furthermore, that fear is not irrational. It is grounded in painful facts. I argue that those facts can and must be changed, and that the result will be to remove the biggest impediment to increasing ridership. If this is correct, then how could this not be the appropriate place for such a discussion? Not only is it appropriate, but it ought to be at the head of the priority list.

    Now, maybe I\’m wrong. We should examine that possibility: Perhaps people are citing fear as the major impediment to riding bikes more often, but they are not being honest, or omitting other factors that are actually more relevant.

    Or, perhaps I\’m wrong in thinking that education and enforcement can change this equation. Maybe people will continue to be afraid even if education and enforcement efforts greatly decrease the fatality rates on our roads. Or maybe education and enforcement efforts will prove inadequate, because the real problems are elsewhere. I\’m open to that discussion, but I\’ve seen no substantive arguments yet to dissuade me.

    Furthermore, while we could cite numerous reasons why our roads are filled with incompetent and dangerous drivers, including lax licensing standards, I think that it\’s politically imprudent, not to mention redundant and unnecessary, to try and press such points.

    There are many dangerous activities performed by incompetent people that probably result in unnecessary fatalities in our society that we don\’t necessarily license people to engage in at all. Provided, however, that we have vigorous enforcement of laws and operating procedures, we can limit the harm done by such incompetence.

    Politically, enforcement makes a lot more sense than licensing, because the upfront costs to those it eventually targets are much less painful. If you tell someone, \”You must pass this rigorous and costly battery of tests before you can engage in this activity,\” you will face immediate and often implacable political resistance.

    If, on the other hand, you tell them, \”Go ahead and engage in this activity, but if you screw up, prepare to face severe consequences,\” then that is a much easier pill to swallow. Tough law enforcement is much more achievable politically — and probably more effective anyway. Because there is nothing to prevent incompetent drivers from driving unlicensed. If, however, incompetent drivers face huge fines and jail time, then they can be stopped from driving motor vehicles altogether. One cannot drive a motor vehicle if one is behind bars, or too busy paying off a huge court judgment to make car payments.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 6, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Matt: \”Separate bike facilities\” are not \”an issue\” in the sense of being themselves the principal cause of any category of road injuries or fatalities, that I\’m aware of, and I\’m not railing against them per se. What I\’m railing about is the overwhelming priority that they seem to receive in all bike related policy discussions.

    What I AM saying is that \”separate facilities\” are of much more limited value than people believe. They ARE of some value, in the sense that they undoubtedly encourage ridership, which is a good thing in itself. What they DON\’T do, though, for the most part, is make people safer on the roads, unfortunately. In at least SOME instances they have made people less safe, though this is only a secondary problem at most.

    The real problem is that we are not focusing adequate attention on the bull in the chinashop: those 42,000 deaths I spoke of. And the solution to that problem is tougher enforcement along with education, which will wind up benefitting all road users immensely.

    However, while everyone has an interest in solving that problem, cyclists have a special interest, due to the fear factor created by this crisis and the resulting impediments to ridership.

    Therefore, anything which unduly distracts attention from this overriding issue is a problem, ipso facto. The distraction represented by \”bike infrastructure\” is the biggest problem with the emphasis on it.

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  • wsbob April 6, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    \”One cannot drive a motor vehicle if one is behind bars, or too busy paying off a huge court judgment to make car payments.\” Antonio G

    Yes, if they can be put behind bars and if they have money money to pay off a huge court judgement. Many people are very poor, and cars can be very cheap. It\’s easy to be driving for $400-$500, even without a license. Cars in the U.S. are almost as commonplace and accessible as shoes. Some would say, \’as indispensable\’.

    There\’s precious little money for enforcement. There isn\’t enough jail space for murderers, rapists and thieves, let alone incompetent drivers. Where is the money and space to do those things going to come from? People don\’t seem to like taxes.

    The greatest opportunity for improvements in conditions for travel on bikes is likely to come along with a massive cultural change in the public perception of how bikes fit into the modern transportation system. That change is happening now, everyday, little by little. All the things I could read on those slides in the pics above will help bring this cultural change on.

    I don\’t have to ride/commute everyday, thank god. I can ride for fun, and choose the best routes, away from busy streets. But still, where I do have to ride with cars, I\’m very impressed with how the majority of drivers acknowledge me as a person on a bike.

    Expensive gas, traffic congestion, the poor economy, is bringing more and more people everyday to think about ways of getting around besides sitting in their cars. It\’s hard seeing through the glare of their windows, often tinted, but as I wait at an intersection, using my \’fred\’ biking style and riding gear; arm straight out hand signals way in advance of the intersection, bright yellow fuzzy work gloves and obnoxious florescent pink jacket, I can see that many of them are looking at me for eye contact, waiting for a signal for them to proceed, or that I am. They\’re slowing up short of me with a comfortable margin when I\’m ahead. We\’re all having a great time.

    I\’ve ridden regularly in the thick of traffic before. I think that today, compared to, say for example, ten years ago, is much better in terms of driver receptivity to people on bikes. That receptivity is most likely going to improve even more, as inevitable conditions that are unfriendly to motor vehicles escalate.

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  • Matt Picio April 6, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Antonio, I absolutely agree about education – this (the bike summit) just isn\’t the right forum for that. The bike summit is about increasing bike use in the state – it has a narrow focus deliberately. The car deaths issue is a much larger one that must be addressed, but in its own forum, and not piggybacking on the bike summit.

    If you want to keep framing it in the context of the summit, then first scrap the 42,000 figure. We (Oregon) can\’t control the other states. If you\’re attacking it on a state level, then it\’s 450 deaths per year (in 2004 at least).

    BTW, enforcement won\’t do a bloody thing. We don\’t have the resources necessary for enforcement to have an impact. The problem is cultural – it stems from the American sense of entitlement, the \”tit for tat\” mentality, and general laziness/inattentiveness/carelessness. People in general aren\’t going to come to complete stops. They don\’t signal, they exceed the posted limit, they drive at the edge of the envelope of their vehicle\’s capabilities, and they defer maintenance to the point of failure. We will continue to have these problems unless and until we either establish a police state (a real one, not the almost-one we\’re working on currently – thank you , US Government), or we use advertising, education and peer pressure to convince people to start taking their responsibilities as seriously as they say they take their rights.

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  • Matt Picio April 6, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    \”Tough law enforcement is much more achievable politically — and probably more effective anyway.\”

    You\’ve just justified cyclist police stings in Ladd\’s Addition.

    I see no evidence that enforcement is effective at current levels of policing, either for motorists or cyclists.

    Enforcement doesn\’t generally work well against endemic behavior. We need to make changes at a cultural level, primarily through education.

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  • WhatWorksIsKnown April 6, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Hi Matt and Antonio – thanks for this thoughtful exchange. I suggest you both take a look at

    \”Promoting Safe Walking and Cycling to Improve Public Health: Lessons from The Netherlands and Germany\”

    They mention six successful strategies used in Europe:

    1) better facilities for walking and cycling
    2) urban design sensitive to the needs of non-motorists
    3) traffic calming of residential neighborhoods
    4) restrictions on motor vehicle use in cities
    5) rigorous traffic education of
    both motorists and non-motorists
    6) and strict enforcement of traffic regulations protecting pedestrians and bicyclists

    So, in a way, you\’re both right 🙂

    Of course, there are good facilities and bad facilities, good education and bad education and good enforcement and bad enforcement. But we don\’t have to figure all this out ourselves. Plenty of countries have gone down this road before.

    Well worth looking at what they\’ve found out….

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  • Joe April 7, 2008 at 5:58 am

    I think the \” fear factor \” will always be there for most even me, all the years riding, still feel it. Thanks to all for
    really making a diffrence when they can.

    Look back at my home town that i use to ride on as a kid with my BMX bike, just
    lost 2 cyclists. man its insain! and it
    was a cop that hit them.


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  • Antonio Gramsci April 7, 2008 at 11:13 am

    If enforcement were really a lost cause for purposes of forcing or accelerating changes in cultural attitudes, then MADD could never have achieved the phenomenal shift in attitudes around drunk driving that they played an instrumental role in bringing about over the past 25 years.

    I remember vividly growing up in the 70s, when drunk driving was \”no big deal.\” I remember my parents driving after a few drinks and thinking nothing of it. Those days are long gone now.

    Also, enforcement is at least partly self-financing, because judges have the discretion to apply higher penalties to those more able to pay. And believe it or not, there are plenty of careless drivers in BMWs…

    Furthermore, even for poor people, the prospect of facing an endless future of wage garnishments is sobering.

    Enforcement has barely been tried, and where it has been done with great vigor and gusto over the course of many years, such as in the case of drunk driving, it has yielded remarkably positive results.

    Above all, the point of enforcement is not to actually take dangerous drivers off the roads. The point is create a powerful deterrent that at least the majority of rational people will be affected by. Naturally, there will always be a very small minority of truly reckless sociopaths who can only be dealt with by direct physical restraints. But the majority of careless driving is done by normal, rational people who ARE reachable through reason.

    Nothing I\’ve heard yet here is a convincing argument against the program I\’m advocating.

    As for Oregon being an \”exception\” to the rule in the US and those 42,000 deaths somehow not being applicable, I\’m very sceptical. My anecdotal experience is that, when I deviate by even a couple miles from my usual haunts in inner Portland, cultural attitudes, awareness of cyclists, and driving behavior does not seem noticeably better than what I\’ve seen elsewhere.

    I think the truth is that, aside from a handful of very small geographical enclaves in Oregon and elsewhere, the exceptions to the rule of road carnage in the US are illusory. I don\’t know about you, but I don\’t want to live cowering in an tiny enclave of questionably \”bike friendly\” territory. If we take the attitude that we are just going to hunker down here in our little enclave — which can never really be \”safe from the outside,\” because bad drivers can drive anywhere — things will only deteriorate.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 7, 2008 at 11:18 am

    \”Tough law enforcement is much more achievable politically — and probably more effective anyway.\”

    You\’ve just justified cyclist police stings in Ladd\’s Addition.

    I see no evidence that enforcement is effective at current levels of policing, either for motorists or cyclists.

    Matt, this is pretty silly, to compare a police sting in Ladd\’s Addition that generates 99% warnings to people rolling through stop signs, vs the kind of enforcement that I\’m talking about, against motorists who severely injure and kill and currently walk away with a $1000 or $10,000 dollar fines, as opposed to, say, $50k-$100k in fines, license suspensions in perpetuity, and/or possibly one or more years in jail, as I would propose happen (such as in cases like Tim O\’Donnell\’s killing in Washington County).

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  • Matt Picio April 7, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    It\’s not silly at all – enforcement either works or it doesn\’t. If it doesn\’t work in the one case, why do you expect it to in the other?

    Drunk driver enforcement works because in addition to the enforcement, you had/have a massive education campaign, peer pressure, and other factors.

    I agree that 42,000 deaths is a tragedy and a travesty. I agree that it needs to be stopped. It needs more than enforcement, though, and the enforcement dollars will be wasted if the other program pieces aren\’t put into play first, or at least simultaneously.

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  • Matt Picio April 7, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    \”As for Oregon being an \”exception\” to the rule in the US and those 42,000 deaths somehow not being applicable, I\’m very sceptical.\”

    I didn\’t say Oregon is an exception – in fact, we\’re more dangerous per capita than the national average. I said if you\’re going to discuss numbers in the context of a STATE conference, then use the state numbers. National numbers are appropriate for national conferences, or when talking about federal funding. We could have 0 traffic fatalities in Oregon and cars would still kill 41,500 people a year, but at that point it wouldn\’t be a state issue – at least not in Oregon.

    Your approach will be more effective if you scale your numbers, approach and issues in context with the venues and audiences you\’re addressing.

    I agree completely that it\’s a problem that should be solved, and one of the most serious issues we face, locally, regionally and nationally. It\’s just not a simple problem, and it can\’t be fixed without a massive effort on multiple fronts. Have you started working with the \”We Are All Traffic\” people? They\’re working in part on those very same issues, and they may have resources you can use to build support and get the word out.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 7, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    You are right that the problem is multifaceted and requires multiple attacks on different fronts. All I\’m saying is that the \”front\” I\’m ranting about right now has largely not been opened yet, and that it is a crucial one: Tougher penalties for dangerous motorists. I say we open this front and start pouring energy into it in proportion to what it deserves.

    Also, for the record, I\’m withdrawing the word \”enforcement\” everywhere above where I used. Please search and replace all occurrences of enforcement in my posts and replace with \”tougher penalties.\” \”Tougher penalties\” are REVENUE POSITIVE, and can actually be implemented without deploying any additional enforcement resources.

    Case in point: Jennifer Knight, the killer of Tim O\’Donnell, was fully at the disposition of Washington County sheriffs, who let her walk away with no criminal charges. It would have cost the state nothing to have sought a $50,000 judgment and 5 years in prison against her — had the legal code for doing so been available to them.

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  • wsbob April 7, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    I believe that the role of public awareness groups such as MADD are key to generating essential public support for enforcement. Enforcement costs lots of money. So does prosecution and incarceration. That money has to come from somewhere for more enforcement, penalties, or whatever. I\’d be very surprised if the money recovered from offenders through penalties leveled, covered the costs involved in processing the offenders.

    A bill presented on its own to citizens for increased law enforcement doesn\’t mean a lot to the average citizen except money out of their pocket. On the other hand, when a grass-roots group like MADD makes the point to citizens that money spent on increased enforcement may save their very own family members from being killed by a bad driver, spending that money can take on a much more credible meaning.

    The result can be a significant cultural change in society. I think that\’s what has helped address the problem of drivers that drink. I think the same kind of public awareness raising will be necessary to address the problem presented by some motor vehicle drivers disregard for vulnerable road users. These things take time and a concentrated effort by many people working together.

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  • Matt Picio April 8, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Antonio – agreed on tougher penalties. We need a vehicular homicide law here, and I\’m sure that the BTA and Ray Thomas will be working to remedy that during the 2009 legislative session.

    The \”We Are All Traffic\” people are working on this – coordinating resources might be a good idea. Ditto for continuing to raise interest however you can before the legislature meets again. We\’ll need to get a lot of people down to Salem once the session starts to keep this in the mind of the legislators.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 8, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    I agree, those developments are encouraging. Hopefully they can coalesce into a broad coalition of affected individuals and groups, including seniors, children\’s advocacy, pedestrians, motorists, and even environmental groups that understand that people won\’t choose more ecological personal transportation if they are too scared to get out of their cars.

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