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UPDATED State rep wants traffic fines based on vehicle weight

Posted by on February 20th, 2009 at 11:56 am

State Rep. Jules Bailey

Newly elected Oregon State Representative from Southeast Portland, Jules Bailey, has introduced a bill into the legislature that would create a new vehicle weight class for non-motorized vehicles weighing under 50 pounds — such as bicycles (we think that weight might be too low with some of today’s new cargo bikes, but this is a matter that can likely change as the bill moves forward).

If the bill passes, it would create the new weight class and instruct state and local law enforcement agencies to index their traffic violation fines to match the weight class of the offending vehicle.

I spoke with Representative Bailey last week, and he explained his reasoning behind the bill. “It’s your basic physics equation,” he said. “Force equals mass times velocity, squared.”

Currently, traffic fines for bikes and big
trucks are the same.

“We currently regulate vehicles based on velocity,” Bailey explained, “but not mass. You can do a lot more damage the faster you’re going, and the fines reflect that. But heavier vehicles do much more damage than lighter ones. The fine in Oregon for rolling through a stop sign — no matter how slowly — is $242 for a bicycle or a heavy truck. This law would change that.”

Bailey said that if the Idaho stop law bill doesn’t pass, but this bill does, It would still be illegal to roll through a stop sign, but the fines would go up or down based on weight class. This would lead to lower fines for bicycles, and much higher fines for a large vehicle like an SUV or truck. “It’s based on real damage.”

Story continues below

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Representative Bailey’s chief of staff, Meredith Shield, told me the bill — which the office is informally calling the “Fines and Weights Bill” — has not yet come back from legislative counsel, where it is being drafted into final bill form.

Shield said they expect to receive the bill back by early next week, and that it should be up before the legislature in March or April, when there will be a hearing and a chance for public testimony.

At the last Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting, Karl Rohde, government affairs director for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance said the BTA was not yet actively involved with the bill. It was on a list of bills of which he said “if they look good [when they come out of the drafting process] we’ll probably support them.”

Stay tuned for more developments.


Updated Monday 2/23: I heard back from Bailey’s office over the weekend. The bill came back from legislative counsel in a form that they don’t feel like they can get behind 100% and they will likely table the matter until a future session. I’ve asked for more details and will post again when I have them.

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87 Comments
  • @natronics February 20, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Physics fail.

    Force = mass times _acceleration_. Kinetic energy = 1/2 * mass * velocity squared. But still an interesting point.

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  • the "other" steph February 20, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Go Rep. Jules Bailey!!

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  • felix February 20, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Bad idea.

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  • Schrauf February 20, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    A cyclist is much less likely to directly damage other people and property, but what about collateral damage?

    If a cyclist runs a stop sign and causes a lawfully and safely driven truck to collide with a car and kill the driver, should the cyclist receive a lower penalty because there was less potential for direct damage?

    Hopefully this is addressed in the bill.

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  • tresa February 20, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    This is great news. Thanks for reporting.

    And thanks, Jules!

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  • El Biciclero February 20, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    This is a great idea. One I’ve had, as I’m sure others have, for quite some time. I don’t think it’s force we’re worried about where damage is concerned, it’s transfer of momentum.

    BTW, on a side note, I heard an interesting discussion on NPR’s “Car Talk” a while back:

    Traditional Driver’s Ed lore states that if you are going 60 and you are involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle going 60, it’s like hitting the proverbial brick wall at 120. Turns out this is only partly true, and only if you hit a vehicle with significantly more momentum than your own. Otherwise, if two vehicles with equal momentum collide, they both go from 60 to 0 instantly. That’s the same as hitting a brick wall at…60.

    Now if one vehicle or the other has significantly more speed or mass than the other, the smaller vehicle might end up going from 60 to -20 (hit and pushed backwards), which would be like hitting the wall at 80 (or 40, for the larger vehicle).

    At any rate, if you are on a bike, you will probably be the loser in any vehicular altercation. Bigger vehicles need to be more responsible with their extra momentum. With great power…

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  • West Cougar February 20, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    While a laudable and just effort, my concern is that this bill takes the wind out of the Idaho-stop’s sails.

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  • El Biciclero February 20, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    To address Schrauf’s concern about bikes causing accidents that the cyclist isn’t directly “impacted” by–there ought to be some kind of “flagrant violation” language where the fine is upped by a significant amount. If caught doing a careful roll-through, but not stopping, the lower fine would apply; if caught completely blowing a stop at speed, flagrant fines would be levied. Of course the standard of “flagrancy” would be debatable…

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  • El Biciclero February 20, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    West Cougar–

    If the fines aren’t worth citing for, enforcement may decline. If a law isn’t being enforced, what’s the harm in changing it to match actual circumstances? My point is that it could go the other way as well–this bill could be a “gateway law” that might make the Idaho Stop law seem more sensible.

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  • Bent Bloke February 20, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    I think the issue Shrauf raised is addressed by multiple violations. Careless or reckless driving in addition to failure to stop. No need to change the amount of the fine for the failure to stop if an accident occurs.

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  • Rixtir February 20, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    What’s the point of this? To enable violations?

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  • TS February 20, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    El Biciclero, that starts to sound an awful lot like just calling a stop sign a yield. Would the idea be that a small fine would be insignificant enough that people don’t care, but still significant enough to show fault if there were an accident?

    I was going to comment on the mis-physics quoted by Rep Bailey, but I see someone beat me to it. If he just would’ve said “force is proportional to mass,” he’d have made his point and not looked a little foolish in the process.

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  • RyNO Dan February 20, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I would go with “momentum”.

    Momentum = mass x velocity

    I think that’s what he meant, but just mixed it up with the E=mc^2 thing.
    Happy cycling

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  • BURR February 20, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    This is a great idea, thank you Jules!

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  • Ed Manning February 20, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    I know I have blown through a stop sign and got myself a $256 ticket on my bicycle. A triple trailer semi doing the same thing would get the same fine. I think weight limits should be very fair for minor infractions.

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  • SkidMark February 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Why not just have a seperate fine structure for bicycles using the same reasoning? That’s how it is in other more reasonable states.

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  • Hart February 20, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    What’s the point of this? To enable violations?

    No, the point is to create a penalty that fits the crime.

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  • Rixtir February 20, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    OK, Hart, so you’re saying that penalties coupled with enforcement have no effect on compliance?

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  • Dave February 20, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    @Rixtir: no, I think he’s saying that someone who is capable of more damage should have more responsibility put on them.

    This seems like a really interesting idea, but the 50lb limit should be upped for sure. My Electra Amsterdam with a few groceries in the panniers is close to 50lbs 🙂

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  • Mike February 20, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    What about tickets on a sliding scale based on income?

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  • Burk February 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    I think this is a great idea. When I’m in the bike lane waiting to go over the Broadway bridge and I have two 80,000 pound trucks on either side of me, mere feet from my shoulders, I sometimes wonder… How on earth can we both be considered the same vehicle in the eyes of the law?

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  • nathan February 20, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    YES DO WANT

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  • El Biciclero February 20, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    “What’s the point of this? To enable violations?”

    It doesn’t say anywhere that anyone’s fines would be going down (even though I assumed that in my earlier comment #9). It might be just that fines for larger vehicles would go up…

    A sliding scale of fines based on potential for damage makes sense to me. It is not to excuse anybody from breaking the law. It seems the same principle is at work with firearms laws: small arms are legal (with proper licensing in some cases), but grenades and automatic weapons are illegal, and (I’m imagining, don’t ask me to cite statutes) the punishment for brandishing the latter is greater than that for pointing the former. It seems the reasoning behind this is that bigger weapons have more potential for damage–accidental or otherwise–than smaller ones.

    Possessing small amounts of illegal drugs is punishable at one level, possessing large amounts is punishable at a higher level.

    Espionage, one level; Treason, higher level.

    I’m not attempting to equate traffic infractions with drug and arms violations, but it does seem like there is precedent for basing punishments on potential amount of damage done.

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  • joel February 20, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    im gonna poo-poo the weight-based structure. just come out and say BIKES.

    cause basically, at the 50 lb level, this would mean id have different ticket pricing if i was riding the cargo bike (60 lbs) as compared to any of my other bikes. never mind what it would mean, even if the 50 lb mark got raised, what with the capability to carry several hundred lbs on the cargo bike. im bound to go over whatever line they set the price break at, depending on what my load is. will they be taking the weight of the rider into account? 🙂 argh. lame.

    this proposed approach sucks. i appreciate that theyre thinking about this, but really… JUST MAKE A SEPARATE FINE STRUCTURE FOR BIKES.

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  • Rixtir February 20, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Dave, one could achieve the same result by upping the fines for heavier vehicles, rather than lowering the fines for lighter vehicles.

    The effect of lowering penalties, or reducing enforcement, is to enable people to more easily ignore the laws not being enforced.

    And this proposal doesn’t just extend to rolling stops. It extends to all traffic laws. What effect does it have on the vulnerable user law, for example, when the penalty for severely injuring or killing somebody is reduced from $12,500 to $178, for no reason other than the careless vehicle operator was operating a bike? Will it be of comfort to the injured (or dead) cyclist’s loved ones that the careless vehicle operator received a minimal fine because the vehicle was a bike instead of a car?

    What is the effect of lack of compliance with right of way rules when the bike mode share is 6%? 10%? 25%? 50%? Is personal indifference to the law, coupled with official indifference to compliance, really conducive to safer roads as bicycle mode share increases?

    As is typical of laws based on myopic selfish interest, none of the implications have been given a moment’s thought. We’ve all seen how that kind of myopia worked out for society when the banking and securities industries successfully pursued their own versions of selfish-interest legislation.

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  • hanmade February 20, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    I like the idea, but as Joel #20 and others stated, just make it a seperate class for the type of vehicle. keep it simple. A bike would be, lets say, class 1, a car class 2, a truck, class 3, with penalties applied accordingly.

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  • ScottG February 20, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    If the weight class differentiated between a passenger car and an SUV, this could also have the effect of providing an incentive for people to driver smaller vehicles. Not sure if that’s the plan but the idea seems interesting to me.

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  • Hart February 20, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Dave, one could achieve the same result by upping the fines for heavier vehicles, rather than lowering the fines for lighter vehicles.

    You may want to re-read the article and pay closer attention, because the proposed bill would do both.

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  • carless in pdx February 20, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Would that mean we could make 4-wheeled cycles with electric drives and flout the existing traffic laws? Cause that would be cool!

    like this

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  • Hart February 20, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    OK, Hart, so you’re saying that penalties coupled with enforcement have no effect on compliance?

    I am not saying that at all. You know exactly what I said. The penalty should fit the crime. A quarter of a thousand dollar fine for rolling past a stop sign on a bike is absurd. Perhaps you’d like to see cyclists thrown in jail for such crimes against the state. Would that satisfy your lust for overwhelming punishment to create “compliance”?

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  • Rixtir February 20, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Hart, #24– Yes, I did miss that.

    #26– No, what I’d like to see is safer roads. Encouraging people to ignore the laws doesn’t result in safer roads.

    What are the effects of:

    1– Laws without penalties?

    2– Laws without enforcement?

    3– No laws?

    4– Laws with penalties and enforcement?

    And which of these is likely to lead to safer roads, and which of these is likely to lead to less safe roads?

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  • Joe Rowe February 20, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Yet another good idea.

    Updating laws to promote safer streets and commuting by alternates is always a good idea when done with time and sense.

    Did you all hear that repeat DUI offenders can no longer drink alcoholic beverages. They will get an emblem on their Idaho license that makes it impossible, or very hard to buy alcoholic beverages.

    I’d like to know what states tend to have the best laws for ending bad driving and promoting ecological transit?

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  • Rixtir February 20, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    And returning to #26, if reducing penalties and/or enforcement results in less compliance, then my original point still stands– this law will enable violations, other proffered rationales notwithstanding.

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  • Joe Rowe February 20, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Here is the link

    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/02/idaho_bill_would_bar_repeat_dr.html

    Under the measure, individuals banned from buying booze would have notations on their driver’s licenses or state-issued identification cards.

    PS: The BTA should become a PAC so that they have some real teeth in the things that matter the most to bike progress. The SF Bike Coalition did this.

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  • Hart February 20, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    The law isn’t changing, the penalty is. Nobody rides around with a dollar amount floating inside their head. Nobody’s gonna go, “Hey, I can totally afford to run that stop sign now whereas a month ago I couldn’t, I should TOTALLY RUN THAT STOP SIGN!”

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  • Rixtir February 20, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    If it was true that nobody cares what the dollar amount is, then nobody would care about reducing the penalties.

    Rephrasing my earlier statement, one could just as well up the fines for heavier vehicles, while leaving the present structure in place for lighter vehicles.

    And personally, I’d leave the vulnerable users law alone. But why try to see the big picture when there’s selfish-interest to satisfy?

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  • Dave February 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    @Rixtir: while you may have a point that’s well worth thinking about, belittling others isn’t going to help you out.

    And I agree, I don’t think about specifically *how much* I’m going to be fined for a traffic offense, simply that I’m going to be fined at all, and have that on my record is enough. I know that’s not the case for everyone, but a death sentence isn’t enough to keep some people from murder, so you know…

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  • Rixtir February 20, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    promoting ecological transit

    I would argue that roads on which penalties and/or enforcement for right-of-way violations (and attendant crashes) are minimal to non-existent become increasingly dangerous as the mode share of ecological transit increases.

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  • Matthew Denton February 20, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    I don’t know, if I suddenly knew that running a red light would cost me $20 on my bicycle if I got caught, I’d probably do it more often. This morning, for instance, I was trying to catch the MAX on my way to work, and I could have done it by running the red light at Goose Hollow, but I didn’t, and knew that by not doing it, I’d have to wait 20 minutes for the next one. (And it was 5am, so I was trying to avoid the garbage trucks that run red lights downtown at that hour, there was no safety question.) I can always look at the cost of running that light, multiplied by the chance of getting caught, and compare that to how much earlier I get to work, and how much money I’d make there. At $270 or whatever, (I don’t know the ticket price for red light running,) even if there is only a 5% chance of getting caught, I shouldn’t run it. But at $20, unless I saw the cop standing on the corner, I’d run it…

    And yes, higher ticket prices for Semi vs SUVs vs small cars seems like the responsible thing to do. People driving bigger vehicles should have to be more responsible than ones driving smaller ones.

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  • Dave February 20, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    I think another thing to note, is at least as far as I can tell, there wasn’t anything in the law about making fines for cyclists negligible, was there? Just about making them less than for motor vehicles? I agree, you still want the fine to hurt a little.

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  • Rixtir February 20, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Dave, you’re right, some people will commit murder no matter the penalty.

    But let’s take something with less of a moral stigma than murder (although this analysis would apply to murder as well):

    Would bank robberies tend to rise or fall if the penalty were, say, a $1.95 fine? What if the penalty were, say, 10 years in prison? Rise or fall?

    In the case of traffic violations, let’s assume that there is no actual enforcement of the traffic laws, across the board (i.e., not targeted at any particular type of vehicle, but applied equally to all road users). Would compliance with the traffic laws rise if enforcement rose? Or would it remain flat? What about if enforcement rose, but subsequently, penalties were decreased to, say, $5 for a violation, regardless of the violation? Would compliance with the laws rise or fall? And which would be more likely to result in safer roads– rising compliance, or falling compliance?

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  • BicycleMike February 20, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Hey I’m no fan of cars but this kinda sounds Stalin-like or over-legislating so to speak. Christ, write a ticket and get on with it. The state I live in is attempting to do the same thing, over legislate. Ask yourself if this was not a law that you agreed with would you not feel as though your lawmakers were being busy bodies?

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  • Mike February 20, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    It’s all a question of balance: making the punishment fit the crime. That’s why a sliding scale based on income makes the most sense.

    If a ticket $240 ticket is 50% one’s net monthly income after taxes, one would be less likely to commit an infraction which would result in said ticket. If the ticket is 1% one’s net monthly income after taxes, one would be less worried about committing an infraction that would result in said ticket.

    Thus, the laws are more restrictive to people with lower incomes, and less restrictive to people with higher incomes. Why does no one seem to care about this?

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  • Dave February 20, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    @Mike: Yeah, the idea of fines as a percentage of your income is interesting… it might be a little tricky to implement properly though. But I bet that it does play into more wealthy people being less compliant with certain laws. Interesting thing to think about.

    @Rixtir: yeah, I think if you eliminate enforcement, after a while compliance will drop for sure. If you increase enforcement, but lower the fine, compliance will increase, but not as much as if you raise the fine (there is an inconvenience factor too, besides just the monetary value). But, that being said, you can make a fine hurt a bit for anyone, but a little less for those who have less potential to cause harm.

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  • joe February 20, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    great idea. the more our laws represent the reality of life, the better we will all be in the long run.

    also, the physics fail is hilarious. most politicians, esp those who major in enviro studies and intl relations from small liberal arts schools should stay away from stating equations. “Force is proportional to mass times velocity, squared” would suffice. Jules, I will stay away from writing bills if you don’t try to design anything that relies on math, mkay?

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  • Todd Boulanger February 20, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    This is an interesting idea (I like the logic behind it), though I would consider adding a consideration for pedestrian safety (that the moving violation not be reduced if it involved a bicyclist/ skater hitting a pedestrian).

    I would work on the Idaho law first. It may be easier given the established track record (and amount of education needed).

    Bicyclists might have to provide a trade off – like bike licensing or adult helmet wearing – in order to get it adopted by the larger community (For discussion purposes only).

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  • bahueh February 20, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    why don’t our politicians actually try to draft legislature that will punish careless drivers for injuring/killing cyclists in this state, instead of wasting their stupid freshmen time on stuff like this…?

    I simply don’t get it.

    Stop signs and red lights are not hard to stop at. Whether or not cyclists run them should not be diminished down to whether or not you can “afford” to run one…if riders are actually thinking about how much money they can lose on a traffic infraction, they’re not thinking about the car that has a very real chance of killing/injuring them when they do…

    CAn I please have a state rep. with a pair of balls please so drivers can now be held accountable for killing me/my friends when we’re out riding/training legally?

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  • SkidMark February 20, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Why should we have to provide a trade-off for not having to pay fines that are 3-4 times higher than bicycle fines for traffic violations in other states?

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  • Matthew Denton February 20, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Mike, most of Europe already has income based traffic tickets. It works very well.

    The fact that we don’t in this country says something more about the fact that we hate poor people and like the rich.

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  • El Biciclero February 20, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    RE fines commensurate w/income:

    Cadillac Escalade requires much more income than most bikes. Also, folks with high incomes might just as easily be “leveraged” to the hilt, while someone with a lower income who lives within their means might have more disposable funds.

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  • Paul February 20, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    In my opinion, any human-powered vehicle that weighs less than half the weight of the rider/operator should not even be considered a vehicle. My 2 cents

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  • Mike February 20, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Thanks for the tip Matthew Denton! Fascinating reading on Finland: http://www.stayfreemagazine.org/public/wsj_finland.html

    Their system seems far from perfect, but I think that’s the direction in which we should be moving.

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  • Rixtir February 20, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Paul, that’s something motorists can enthusiastically get behind.

    You know why, don’t you?

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  • Oh Word? February 20, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    I think RIxter is absolutely right.. Breaking the law is breaking the law. The point of a ticket is to deter a crime. Either you break the law or you don’t; it can’t be “illegaler” for a car to run a stop sign!

    If a motorist hits a cyclist that ran a red light, the driver will probably feel terrible regardless of who’s at fault, unless force has an impact on people’s emotions.

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  • Spencer Boomhower February 20, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    You get higher traffic fines based on how much higher over the speed limit you’re traveling, so why not also fine according to how much weight you’re throwing around? Makes sense – both come down to how much damage you can do.

    Really, the main motivation for cyclists to observe the rules of the road will probably always come down to self-preservation. Like someone said on the KBOO Bike Show on the Idaho stop law, you gotta know who’s the bug and who’s the windshield.

    However, I agree with the point made somewhere in these comments calling for a special effort to keep fines high for cyclists who endanger pedestrians. If there’s one thing I’d hope for cyclists as a community to start doing, it’s make a better effort to watch out for the peds. To some degree they are to cyclists as cyclists are to cars.

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  • JR February 20, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    I’d take this bill over none. The Idaho-style law still makes the most sense though..

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  • Donna February 20, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    I first met Rep. Kopel-Bailey when he was running for office and going door-to-door in my neighborhood. At the time he admitted he didn’t know much about bike issues but was willing and eager to learn.

    I guess he’s been doing some research. (or hired a knowledgeable staffer) It may not be perfect, nor even what most of us would consider first priority, but he’s come quite a ways from the guy I invited into my living room. I am cautiously impressed.

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  • jim February 20, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    A bicycle with a rider on it ways more than 50 lbs. I seldom see a bicycle accident with no rider. That however is nothing to quivel over.
    I believe a bicycle with no headlight is just as guilty as a car with no headlight. A car may be more lethal, a cyclist with no light may get run over and killed, a big threat to the driver of the auto involved. The rules are for everyones safety and need to be enforced equally to all. Your not less guilty because you believe you are safer, because your not. If you want equal rights on the road than you have to accept equal responsibility for obeying the laws to keep us all safe

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  • jim February 20, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    In India there are over 3 million accidents a year. Negligent road-user behaviour is the main factor in 65 per cent of the accidents. If you start making the laws lax it will only increase the amount of accidents. If it wasn’t for the seatbelt law there would be a much higher mortality rate. Not everybody thinks they need seatbelts but the law is for their own good. Laws need to be adhered to

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  • Pete February 20, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    I don’t think fines should be based on either income or physics. They should be based on safety. A cyclist can kill a pedestrian by ‘blowing’ a signal just as easily as a driver can kill a cyclist doing the same with a car. The fines should be commensurate with risk and high enough to discourage anyone from violation, regardless of transport mode.

    It’s not hard to stop on a bicycle, and the Idaho law makes sense to me. This bill doesn’t, nor does the equation F = MV^2. Last I knew force was mass times acceleration, which is change in velocity over time. I’ve always thought basic Newtonian physics should be part of a driver’s exam, by the way. People tailgating at 70 just don’t get it.

    I applaud your intention, Rep. Bailey, but please start with getting drivers off of cell phones and paying attention to driving.

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  • Blah Blah Blah February 20, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    I may be wrong…But, doesn’t running a stop sign on a bicycle NOT go on your driving record? This seems to be in the cyclists favor. If I run a stop sign in my car the infracton goes on my driving record and eventually causes my insurance rate goes up.

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  • kww February 21, 2009 at 1:04 am

    I have of heard of bicycles getting $400 tickets. This law is rational and will remove the revenue incentive from enforcement. They should never be coupled.

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  • Anonymous February 21, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Is a second tier of laws going to help the current situation?

    It’s obvious that law enforcement doesn’t have a grip on the current set of rules.

    How about focusing on educating the officers on the current laws and getting better all around enforcement?

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  • Coyote February 21, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Rather than weight, I would much prefer a different fine schedule for self-propelled vehicles versus motorized vehicles. The slippery slope for any reform creating a separate category of road users is that it would be much easier prohibit certain classes of vehicles from certain roads. That would be going backward.

    The idea of scaling fines based income is likely a good one, but any reform that raises fines is likely to run afoul of the AAA and the trucking lobby. These are powerful lobbies and a freshman congressman is likely to get schooled.

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  • jim February 21, 2009 at 10:52 am

    What if they put you on a work crew or comunity service for a fine. That way it would punish the rich the same as the poor.

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  • dgc February 21, 2009 at 11:08 am

    If I opt to ride on the streets as a vehicle, I must accept the rules. Many here constantly harp on the SUV as the demons of the road. I was nearly wiped by a Toyota Corolla on Thursday afternoon at the corner of NE Knott and NE 7th. Traveling southbound, I had stopped (foot down, full stop) at the four-way, waiting for a Toyota 4Runner and FedEx delivery truck to go as they were there first. They went, then I went, but, the Corolla behind the FedEx truck decided NOT to take their turn to stop and I nearly became a hood ornament.

    Let’s not make this complicated. Running a light or stop sign carries a penalty, because of the possible consequences – accident; injury; death. I’ve seen bikes run through that same four-way stop on NE Knott and NE 7th, causing great confusion for ALL vehicles and near accidents as vehicles attempt to miss the offender. In the aftermath, I could feel the hate from other vehicles (operators of cars and trucks) as they looked at me, wondering what stupid thing I might do next. This hate by association is not fair – but I understand it.

    When one starts messing with laws already on the books, trying to make them more “bicycle friendly,” one runs the risk of spawning more laws to compensate for the holes left by the new law. For instance, let’s say the above bike rider who ran the four-way stop above caused a multiple-vehicle accident. Who pays for the damaged vehicles and possible injuries? The cyclist simply rides away (in this case, he didn’t even look back to see why tires were squealing). Those left behind turn in their respective information to their insurance companies, take their own time to deliver their damaged vehicles for repair, pay their deductibles, and face higher insurance premiums because they had to tap into their no-fault policy provision, as none of the vehicle operators involved in the accident were at fault.

    So we cyclists now are more hated, and other vehicle operators demand cyclists are duly licensed with big obtrusive license plates so law breakers can easily be traced. Further, other vehicle operators demand cyclists carry insurance, equal to the amounts required by the state for other vehicle operators, so if the cyclist causes an accident, the injured parties may find compensation.

    This is unnecessary legislation that will only lead to more legislation, further muddying the relationship between bicycles and other vehicles.

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  • Eileen February 21, 2009 at 11:09 am

    this is so simple and logical it’s almost scary. All of you naysayers are way overthinking. You can’t possibly calculate the potential collateral damage for every traffic violation. Do smaller vehicles, on the whole, cause less damage? Decidedly so.

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  • Jordan February 21, 2009 at 11:42 am

    I’m with Cougar on this one. I think Rep. Bailey should have waited to issue this bill after a decision is made with “Idaho Stop.” If “Idaho Stop” fails then pull this one out.

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  • Matthew February 21, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Hey, that was my idea…

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  • patrick February 21, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    “Force equals mass times velocity, squared.”

    As some one said, Force=mass*acceleration. Probably what he meant was that kinetic energy = 1/2 mass * velocity^2 . The point being that the energy is related linearly to mass (and exponentially to speed).

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  • postmoves February 21, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Hatts off to #66 DGC!

    Wow, the first I’ve thought of holding errant cyclists to the same standards as drivers! (sarcasm intended)
    And two or three media blitz enforcement actions in Ladds and on Broadway last year do not constitute a real effort.
    Great!
    Does this mean there will be an allocation of revenue toward enforcement?
    No. Because revenue will slip off it’s already paltry sum for enforcement of all laws; particularly for violations by cycle.
    Come on. Really? Do we need more focus on perceived inequaties such as this?
    How far to push before we cause distraction from purpose?
    Blowing reds is not a matter of what harm I do just to myself, but what harm I can do to others (ask the diver @ 50th & Lincoln last year, in my hood).
    Too far. In my view.
    We have bigger fish to fry than even foot down @ signs.
    Have you looked at the state of affairs through anything but these selfish eyes?
    Wasted calories, as I stated to Jules as one of his constituents.
    Focus on the real issues facing us all.

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  • SkidMark February 22, 2009 at 12:41 am

    Let the punishment fit the crime: bike fines in other states are <$50.

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  • bikieboy February 22, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Eileen (#67)- spot on. If traffic fines are intended to reflect the degree of public safety risk (greater risk = higher fine) then Rep. Bailey’s proposal makes perfect sense.

    SkidMark (#72)- more info. please – many other States, which States?

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  • jim February 22, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Dailey News 2002- “Mayor Bloomberg approved a series of fines for bike riders who whoosh along sidewalks – from $100 for first-time offenders to more than $1,000 for serious violators.”
    I walked out of a building downtown pdx last week and 2 of those segway scooters for parking enforcement were blasting down the sidewalk at full speed. I had to take a step backwards rather abruptly to avoid them I think they were on the offensive side. They were definatly not going at a walking speed like they say for bikes on sidewalks. Another time I was working in a store window and heard some noise- I looked outside and a guys table, umbrella stand papers and all blew over and the segway cops gathered around in a circle just balancing there watching this poor guy try and pick up all his stuff, I could rant more on them but am getting off topic

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  • Zaphod February 22, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    This rule makes little sense to me. It’s an arbitrary way to measure. While it clearly benefits me, I’m not on-board. The idea of vehicle categories does make sense and I think there are already laws on the books in this regard.

    Of course a big truck blazing down a residential street barely fitting between the parked cars is different than a sports car doing the same. All of this comes down to control and the perception of “reckless driving”

    What I think we need is a program where police officers spend some time on bikes and as pedestrians in areas where they will be subjected to the kinds of gray area infractions and general feel of what we experience. It’s with this ability to empathize will we see enforcement where it is deserved.

    With enough mileage I dare suggest that police might relate and understand why it’s sensible to adopt the Idaho stop law.

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  • tonyt
    tonyt February 22, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Zaphod, (#75)

    I agree with your third paragraph there. I’ve long advocated a policy where police officers have to commute to work, or around the city in a variety of ways. Without, mind you, a big “POLICE” emblazoned across their back.

    But I do agree with the weight/fine law. I think it just highlights how heavy some of the vehicles out there and recognizes the physics of the equation.

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  • Vance February 23, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Blah, blah, blah, #61, say I just wanted to mention that traffic infractions, and crimes committed on a bicycle do, in fact, appear on your driving record. Oh, and insurance premium price is calculated on FICO credit score now, not your driving record. Apparently issuing policies based upon competence, and adherence to road rules is both misogynist, and racist.

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  • Whyat February 23, 2009 at 10:23 am

    dgc #66- you’re making way too much sense, and you’re looking out for someone besides yourself! C’mon man- bikes first before everything and everyone else!

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  • Mike February 23, 2009 at 11:11 am

    #66 and #78 and a bunch of other posts:

    No one is saying that bicycles that break the law shouldn’t be punished. We’re saying that the punishment should fit the crime. To take an extreme example: would you punish someone for running a red light by chopping off her/his feet? No.

    Why not? The person would be breaking the law, after all. Why not throw them in prison for several years? It’s because the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

    Now that we’ve cleared that up, maybe you can join in the conversation about what’s an appropriate penalty.

    I think it’s fair to say that you think paying the same fines as cars/trucks are appropriate penalties. I disagree, but at least we’d be on the same page! Right now you’re arguing with a made up people because none of the posters I’ve been reading think that cyclists should be above the law.

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  • Evan Manvel February 23, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Just a note: it’s legislative counsel, not legislative council.

    Wonk out.

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  • Elly Blue February 23, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks Evan, I fixed it, that makes the process make a lot more sense to me. 🙂

    You can always let us know about typos via email, by the way.

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  • Elly Blue February 23, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Folks, I heard from Bailey’s office over the weekend — it looks like the bill didn’t come out the way they wanted it and they are probably going to table it until next year. I’m trying to find out the details and will keep you posted.

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  • steve February 24, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Not really a typo. Completely wrong word.

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  • Whyat February 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Mike/#70/Topic Police-

    I’m sorry Mike- I didn’t know that I wasn’t allowed to comment on other people’s posts without your permission. Thanks for the clarification!

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  • R February 24, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Dumb idea, especially with bicycles. Run a stop sign and get hit and you are still likely dead. Driver has to deal with trauma imposed by the careless rider as much as if they hit a car and killed someone. Dead is dead. If we are going to get real technical you need to weigh the cyclist or the pedestrian and his shoes. Higher fines for larger people?

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  • El Biciclero February 25, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Just a side note on math talk. The word “exponentially” is way overused. Exponentially describes a relationship such as y = a^x. A relation like the much-debated physics equation here, e = .5mv^2 is in the same class of equations as y = x^2 –a quadratic equation. The two parts (e and v are best described as being related “quadratically”, or by saying “energy is proportional to the square of velocity.”

    To say “exponentially” implies a much more rapid increase of energy at higher velocity than really exists.

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  • Mike February 25, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Re: Whyat

    I was attempting to clarify the discussion and make it more productive, albeit somewhat sass-ily.

    This thread (and the legislation) seems to have run its course anyway.

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