Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 5th, 2009 at 11:05 am
The BTA’s proposal for an Idaho-style stop sign law will get its first public hearing and committee vote later this month.
BTA lobbyist Karl Rohde told me this morning that the bill, HB 2690, is scheduled to go in front of the House Transportation Committee at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18th.
Rohde said committee chair Terry Beyer (D-Springfield) has committed to a vote on the issue (a vote is not guaranteed at public hearings) unless major questions and/or requests for significant amendments are raised during testimony.
Now, the work begins for Rohde to prepare for this important committee vote. “We will be working in the next two weeks to prepare a series of people to testify in favor of the bill,” he said via telephone earlier today, “as well as begin outreach to members and interested parties in the districts represented by these committee members.”
Rohde also said he’ll try and line up some key people to testify including lawyers Ray Thomas and Bob Mionske.
Rohde said he thinks the chances are good that the bill will pass through the committee. One ace up his sleeve is rookie Rep. Jules Bailey (D-Portland). Bailey is on the Transportation Committee and will be a strong supporter of the bill. Rohde said Bailey is also working behind the scenes to convince his colleagues of the merits of going Idaho-style. According to Rohde, “Bailey will argue vociferously for it…he feels very strongly about it.”
“We’re not de-criminalizing bad behavior, we’re de-criminalizing good behavior. Bad behavior will still be illegal.”
— BTA lobbyist Karl Rohde in response to a question on a local radio show
So far, Rohde has not heard of any major opposition to the bill. One reason might be because everyone is so focused on dealing with Oregon’s economic crisis and budget woes. Fortunately for Rohde, HB 2690 does not have a fiscal impact. At least, not any more…
Initially, the BTA included a stipulation in the bill that would have allowed cities to designate certain intersections where the new law would not apply (for instance where there was dangerous and high-speed cross traffic). In those cases, a new sign would have to be installed under the existing stop sign to designate that bikes must come to a complete stop every time. This component of the bill had some people concerned about how much those signs would cost.
However, I just learned a few minutes ago that that stipulation is no longer in the bill. The reason? That sign does not currently exist in the all-important roadway design standards bible, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (the MUTCD). Because it is not in the MUTCD, the Legislative Counsel (the body in the legislature that writes bill language) could not include language in the bill that would have required the sign — so the entire section is now gone (Rohde said he’ll update their FAQ to reflect this).
In addition to working the halls in Salem, Rohde has also been making the rounds in the media. Earlier this week he was on a local radio talk show. The host wondered whether allowing bikes to treat stop signs as yields would encourage unsafe behavior. Rohde’s zinger comeback? “We’re not de-criminalizing bad behavior, we’re de-criminalizing good behavior. Bad behavior will still be illegal.”