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Live from Salem at the Idaho Stop law hearing

Posted by on March 18th, 2009 at 2:06 pm

[Note: This story was reported live. For results of the hearing, scroll to the end.]

Rep. Jules Bailey minutes before he
introduced the Idaho Stop bill to his
colleagues on the House Transportation
Committee.
(Photos © J. Maus)

I’m sitting in Hearing Room D inside the Capitol at a hearing by the House Transportation Committee for the BTA’s Idaho Stop law.

In the room are the BTA’s chief lobbyist Karl Rohde, lawyers Ray Thomas and Bob Mionske, members of the BTA’s legislative committee Doug Parrow and Bjorn Warloe and even former BTA executive director Evan Manvel has stopped by (he now works on legislative policy for the Oregon League of Conservation Voters).

Representative Bailey (SE Portland) has just introduced the bill. Bailey is the bill’s chief supporter and he opened his testimony with a copy of the recent Oregon Business magazine that touts the state’s “Bicycle Industrial Complex.”

Story continues below

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“The only thing more annoying than getting caught behind a bicyclist on the road is getting caught behind a bicyclist who’s obeying every single law.”
— Rep. Nick Kahl, in support of the bill

“This is about the economy, people’s health, and about the environment.” Bailey is making the case that this bill will make bicycling easier, safer and more attractive because, for one, it would make using residential streets more appealing (versus riding on fast streets/arterials). “We’re not legalizing bad behavior,” said Bailey, we’re decriminalizing good behavior”.

A day in Salem-21

Rep. Nick Kahl

Rep. Nick Kahl (D-Portland) was first speak up from the Committee. He said he wasn’t supportive of this bill until this weekend. Kahl said he came around for two reasons. First, he had a conversation with his brother-in-law who told him: “The only thing more annoying than getting caught behind a bicyclist on the road is getting caught behind a bicyclist who’s obeying every single law.” (Room erupts in laughter). The other thing Kahl said won him over is that he just bought a new bike. While on a test ride near the Bike ‘N Hike on SE Grand in Portland he said, “I realized how many times I didn’t come to a full stop.” “I’m fully in support of this bill,” he said.

Rep. Jim Weidner (R-Yamhill) spoke up next and said, “I have some serious concerns about this bill.”

A day in Salem-19

Rep. Weidner has “serious concerns”.

“I teach my kids that they need to make sure no cars are coming when they approach an intersection,” he began, “and making it legal for them to blow through stop signs isn’t a good precedent for us to be setting.”

Weidner went on to say that when he comes up to a 4-way stop he doesn’t like to, but he stops because “it’s the law”. After making a comment that this bill would allow people to “blow through” stop signs, he also said he’s concerned about the precedent this sets for kids. “I’m a little nervious,” he said, “the last thing I want to do is vote on legislation that could result in a situation where a child could die. This is a very serious bill we’re dealing with here.”

“I think we’re creating a bad situation by having two sets of rules.”
— Rep. Weidner

Rep. Bailey countered Weidner’s concerns by clarifying that the bill won’t let anyone “blow through”. (Actually, the bill includes a provision that would make the citation fee 50% higher than it is now.)

Karl Rohde of the BTA then began his testimony by saying that his organization has taught over 50,000 kids throughout Oregon on how to bike safely. “We firmly believe this law is in the best interest of all road users. The BTA is deeply committed to the safety of bicyclists and we would never support a bill that would jeopardize that safety.”

“The bad behavior will continue to be against the law,” Rohde said, “and we will continue to work with law enforcement officials to make sure that dangerous riding behavior is not tolerated.”

Rohde then continued to make his case for the law proposal. He stressed that bikes have a much greater sense of their vehicle, “no blind spots” and he referenced studies that have shown that the sensory awareness of a biker is akin to that of a pedestrian.

A day in Salem-18

Rohde also introduced the conundrum of how many residential streets are full of stop signs nearly every block, yet those are precisely the streets that the city is encouraging people to ride on (instead of going on busy and big arterials). Having to make that decision is not a good position to put citizens into says Rohde.

Rep. Vicki Berger (R-Salem) shares her feelings that the law will just introduce more confusion into the system. “What about the bike lane here in Salem that has a stop sign in it? Will this apply to that?”, and, “I’m scared to death of the bike boxes”, she said. Berger thinks the bike boxes are confusing and says she’s concerned about “a whole new set of rules”.

Continuing in the vein, Rep. David Edwards (D-Hillsboro) also shared that he feels the bill “presents a level of uncertainty”. He then asked Rohde, “Would you also be in favor of allowing pedestrians to just come up to a street and go across without stopping?” Rohde replied that pedestrians are actually currently allowed to do that.

Karl Rohde (middle) with Bob
Mionske (L) and Ray Thomas (R) in
background.

Now Rep. Weidner chimes in. “It’s like we’re making two sets of rules,” he says, “I think we’re creating a bad situation by having two sets of rules.”

Rohde counters by pointing out that there are already several instances where there are two sets of rules — bikes can ride on the sidewalks and cars can’t and bikes can pass on the right at intersections and cars can’t.

“Can you define for me the difference between a bicyclist and an electric car?”
— Rep. Cliff Bentz, wondering why the bill doesn’t also include electric cars

Weidner then shares his concern over the bill’s “slow down” language. “How slow is slow enough?” he wonders. Rohde says that that definition can be worked on later. Rohde also adds the point that bikes present far less danger than cars. “Over 40,000 people die in cars each year, that’s why we regulate them more highly than bikes.”

Again, Weidner: “My concern isn’t small, rural towns, my concern is big cities like Salem and Portland.”

Then Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) spoke up. He said that since it seems the reason for this bill is to encourage more people to ride bicycles, than why doesn’t Oregon enact a similar law for electric cars (which the state also promotes the use of).

Bentz asked Rohde: “Can you define for me the difference between a bicyclist and an electric car?”

Rep. Bailey than chimed in that this bill isn’t solely about promoting bike use, but that it’s also about improving conditions (safety and convenience) on the road. Also, he added, “Electric cars are part of a transportation system that was created to handle cars. They are not fundamentally different than gas-powered cars. A bike, to me, is a fundamentally different kind of transportation.”

Next up to testify was lawyer Ray Thomas. Thomas is on the BTA’s legislative committee who is an ardent supporter of the Idaho stop law. He has put countless hours into bringing it to Oregon.

“We’re all here for the same reason,” he began, “Laws are important and they should guide our citizens in a safe way. When we see a law that is being universally disregarded, we don’t like it.” People are violating the existing stop law, Thomas said, because “they seem to think it’s o.k. to violate it.”

Thomas’ testimony was lengthy. He touched on legal arguments, safety data (the cause of collisions is not running stop signs, it’s because someone makes the wrong decision on when to proceed through an intersection).

Thomas also pointed out that this law would free up police officers to focus “only on the most dangerous behavior”. He also pointed out that the new bill would make tickets to bikers that blow through stop signs unsafely go up 50%.

As for the concern for teaching children, I think Thomas had an interesting point. He said that,

“The reason we apply different rules for kids and teach them to stop regardless of if they have the right-of-way or not is because they don’t have the biological maturity and awareness or the judgment to cross safely yet… so we wait until they are old enough before we let them make those choices on their own.”

After Thomas, lawyer and author Bob Mionske testified. He basically concurred with what had already been said. After his testimony, Rep. Weidner wondered to him whether or not it would just make more sense to require bicycle operators to get a special license so the state can make sure they know all the rules of the road. Mionske did his best to avoid that discussion overtaking the hearing.

The first citizen who testified was Kris Warloe (coincidentally, the father of Bjorn Warloe, member of the BTA legislative committee and the guy who tried for Idaho stops last session). Mr. Warloe lost a leg in 1956 and is gave his support to the bill saying, “I’m going to continue to break the law, but I’m going to do so because it is far safer for me to do so. I encourage you to support this bill.”

“It’s time the laws of Oregon acknowledge the laws of physics.”
— Evan Manvel

Next up was former BTA executive director Evan Manvel. His argument in favor of the bill was that if biking is made easier and the state removes impediments to doing it (like stop signs), than more people will bike. As more people bike, the roads become safer. Therefore, the Idaho Stop Law would make Oregon a safer place to bike.

Manvel had a great one-liner to conclude his testimony: “It’s time the laws of Oregon acknowledge the laws of physics.”

After that, the good news on the bill seemed to run out.

Bob Russell from the Oregon Truckers Association — an organization that has been a productive partner with the BTA and who has supported many bike bills (including sharing costs for the Share the Road license plate) — said he has major concerns about this bill. Russell’s concerns were two-fold. He thinks it will confuse expectations of vehicle operators on the road if not everyone is obeying the same rules, and he says that the bill requires too much judgment on the part of the bicycle operator.

“The way this bill is written, it requires people to make significant judgment as to whether they can go through a stop sign or come to a stop. Some will make that judgment just fine, others will not. I worry a lot about children being required to make these kinds of complex judgments.”

Based on that, Russell said, “This bill is of significant concern to my industry in terms of safety.”

Since Russell introduced himself as the only one in the room who was opposed to the bill, Rep. Weidner shared that he received a letter from the City of Eugene saying they are also not supportive of this bill.

Next up was Matt Jaffe from the City of Portland’s Office of Government Relations. Jaffe stated that Portland is taking a neutral position on the bill. I spoke with Jaffe after the hearing and asked him what exactly is giving them pause. Saying the law would represent a major paradigm shift in how the city approaches traffic law, he added that their neutral position is a mix of balancing safety and enforcement concerns with a strong desire to promote cycling.

Back to the hearing. Brock Howell from the 30,000 member strong non-profit Environment Oregon put their support behind the bill saying it is a “key component to ensuring we create better communities for our future.”

Then came what I think the BTA will see as the biggest surprise of the day. A representative with the League of Oregon Cities (didn’t catch his name) expressed his opposition to the bill. The man — who introduced himself as a biker who “appreciates the frustration of coming to a stop,” but also as one who “recognizes that stop signs are placed for a reason” — said their chief interest is in “protecting the safety of the public”.

He also referenced Newton’s Law to point out the potential for dangerous situation if this bill passes. “Objects in motion tend to stay in motion,” he said, and then went on to describe a situation where someone on a bike might enter an intersection without stopping only to realize they made a bad choice, but then it would be too late to stop.

In her closing remarks on the hearing, Rep. Terry Beyer said she is most concerned with the confusing messages this bill sends to the public and how, if not handled properly, that messaging could become a PR nightmare. “The public is going to see this as, ‘there the bicyclists go again, asking for special treatment’,” said Beyer. She then added that “I understand the arguments in favor of it, but I also have to think about the messaging.”

Chair Beyer did not ask the committee for a vote today, nor did she schedule a work session. At this point, Karl Rohde from the BTA must work to get Beyer to schedule a work session and an eventual vote, or the bill will not go any further.

After today I feel like the fate of this bill is unknown, but it definitely took some lumps. Thinking back at the hearing, Karl Rohde from the BTA was very impressive. He had all the best answers and stay composed even in the line of fire. If you support this bill, you want him doing all the talking.

As for the bill’s chances. If there continues to be confusion and misconceptions about it in the media and in the public (the two are directly related), and if the result of that confusion is continued divisiveness between road user groups, and if legislators fail to hear a unified and/or clear message from constituents, then I think it’s in trouble.

That being said, it all comes down to votes. There are 10 members of the committee and the BTA only needs 6 of them to support the bill for it to move on. Right now the BTA has two “yes” votes in the bag (Bailey and Kahl) while only one committee member seems outright opposed to idea (Weidner). Bentz, Edwards, Berger and Boone have expressed concerns and have questions but they still seem on the fence.

Rep. Gilman (R-Medford), didn’t speak at all at the hearing and sources say he might not be supportive. That leaves Chair Beyer and Rep. Michael Schaufler (D-Happy Valley). Schaufler — a co-sponsor of the bike registration bill, but someone who Rohde says is a bike supporter — did not express concerns about the bill today (nor did he express support). Chair Beyer seems to have learned a lot today and now understands the idea more clearly. If Rohde can sit down with her and turn her into a proponent, it seems very likely he’ll be able to must the majority he needs.

But there’s still work to do for supporters of this bill… and you never know what kind of reaction the local media’s coverage will stir up. We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.

— Browse our Idaho Stop Law tag for more coverage of this issue.

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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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

95 Comments
  • Avatar
    Tall Mike March 18, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Jonathan, you are the man! You always keep us up to date on the important bicycle issues and try to do it from an unbiased point of view (maybe slightly biased to bicyclists, but in a good way). This web site is so important to the vitality of the bicycle community in Portland, the state, and the country.

    While I don’t think the bill will pass, after attending PDOT’s Bicycle brown bag last month when they brought in someone from Idaho who explained how it works there, and has worked for decades, I felt it is a very well put together idea. If only our State legislature would listen to the people who understand the bill and to the people who ride daily, it might have a chance of passing. So, how do we get them to listen objectively?

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    Scott Mizée March 18, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Love the live posts! Thanks for covering this!

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    patrickz March 18, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Jonathan, you’re one of those who are doing “something about (and FOR) those bicyclists” Thank you.
    P

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    Anonyous March 18, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Any major news outlets show up: The New York Times, USA TODAY, Los Angeles Times, CommuterJoe?

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    Matt Haughey March 18, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Ah, my crazy right wing local lawmaker… somehow he makes everything he opposes into something that will kill children.

    Yield signs for bikes? Kills kids!
    More water fountains at the park? Kills kids by drowning!
    Lower speed limits? Kills kids on the way to the ER!

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    BURR March 18, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    (Actually, the bill includes a provision that would make the citation fee 50% higher than it is now.)

    what’s up with this? cyclists already pay too much when they are fined the same as motorists, now a provision to double fines for cyclists?!?!?! Doesn’t make sense at all.

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    MikeOnBike March 18, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I live/work/commute in Boise, ID and the frustrating thing about all the opposition to the bill is that in practice it just works so well.

    I commute 13mi. round trip each day by bike and perform non-stop yields at stop signs and stop and go’s at red lights when appropriate. Traffic, including myself moves smoothly and efficiently. I have never been waved or yelled at by drivers for my behavior. Perhaps this is because it has been Idaho law since before cyclists became so prominent on the road.

    We have a few cyclists deaths but they are usually from being hit from behind while stopped at a light or being right hooked. In most of those cases the driver is impaired.

    It is unfortunate that the mainstream media has editorialized the issue rather than reported objectively.

    I look forward to coming to Portland to visit friends and family and not getting a ticket for my ‘Idaho Style’.

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    Kimberlee March 18, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    I grew up riding my bike in Boise and I lived to tell about it – you just slow down, look both ways and cross the street. It wasn’t that difficult a message to understand as a child. Who knew Idahoans could be so enlightened?

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    Jonathan L March 18, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    For everyone reading live updates before you head home, seems the moto police may be out targeting bikes downtown, west side near the Burnside Bridge at the moment….. 3:30pm

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    Marion March 18, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Love you MikeOnBike!!

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    a.O March 18, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Mike (#6), you have no idea of the hysteria this bill has caused among certain people in Oregon, some of whom actually claim to ride a bike occasionally. To hear them tell it, there is no such place as this mythical “Idaho” and such a concept could never actually work in the real world.

    When you explain to them that Idaho is in fact a neighboring state and they’ve done this for years without problems, they make up stories about how the different width of the streets here means it would never work* or just generally stare at you like a dog that’s just been shown a card trick.

    That level of stupidity ought to be more painful.

    [*No kidding. Someone actually attempted to make that argument.]

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    Mark C March 18, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Too bad we can’t all just use a little common sense. I guess that’s too much to ask for. Also, it’s no surprise at all to see someone with an (R) after their name make a completely idiotic statement demonstrating no understanding of the issue whatsoever.

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    Paul March 18, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    “scared to death of bike boxes”
    Really? Scared to death? What about rabid kittens?

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    NB March 18, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    What is this “uncertainty” that Reps. Berger and Edwards refer to? This law would basically make stop signs into yield signs for bikes. Do they find yield signs confusing?

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    Burk March 18, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Great work Jonathan! Way to rock the new media – maybe the Oregonian could hire you as a consultant 🙂

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    Alex H March 18, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Some very scary stuff going on in the discussions….

    http://www.katu.com/news/local/41417182.html

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    Jebus March 18, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Don’t joke Paul… my wife’s old roommate in college was deathly afraid of kittens… the way they prance across the floor looking for attention was the most frightening thing for her!

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    MikeOnBike March 18, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Thanks Marion! Are you Marion Rice? If so, love your articles. My kids are young adults but I have grandkids on the way to introduce to cycling.

    a.O, when I first heard about the bill I thought this is cool, bike progressive Oregon will legalize a very natural way to ride. When I saw the ‘hysteria’ as you so well put it I thought ‘what is the problem’. I was very surprised at the knee-jerk reactions. I mean what is the Oregon Truckers Association worried about. The trucks aren’t going to lose their right of way. Fear of the unknown, OMG. From the look of things via Jonathan’s twitter coverage it doesn’t look good. The city of Eugene opposes this?

    This would all be such a non-issue if more people rode and understood the mechanics of being one with traffic.

    For a little history on how the Idaho Way came into being:
    http://www.bicyclelaw.com/blog/index.cfm/2009/3/7/Origins-of-Idahos-Stop-as-Yield-Law

    Good luck to Oregon cyclists!

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    Dave March 18, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    I think the absolute best quote so far is:

    Bentz asked Rohde: “Can you define for me the difference between a bicyclist and an electric car?”

    Aren’t they the same thing? 🙂

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    MikeOnBike March 18, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Alex H., I think that KATU article has been update since it was first posted. As bad as it currently is it was less clear and more alarmist when first released.

    As far as the comments, I only scanned them but I don’t think I saw a single positive one.

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    Antload March 18, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Wow, my concerns about BTA’s seemingly incomplete approach are unfounded. Good arguments for getting non-cyclists on board -way beyond the BTA Idaho Stop Law FAQ. Bravo!

    Thanks Jonathan, for the riviting up-to-the-minute blow-by-blow!

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    MikeOnBike March 18, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Dave, only if you have a mouth full of AA’s and sparks flying out your a__!

    Really, really, clueless. Perhaps the law should be written to specify ‘human powered vehicles’ so the Rep. Bentz won’t be confused. Wait he’s from Ontario, that is local for me. Maybe I need to go have a talk with him and explain the difference between the physics of electricity and the physics of mitochondrial energy production.

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    Jeff March 18, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Paul (#10)… Please continue to joke about kittens…

    What else do we have at this point?

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    Burk March 18, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Checked out the link from Alex H …

    GAAAAAAA!

    Here is the gist of the posts:

    “So in a bicyclists world, they don’t want to follow basic traffic rules, they want the motorists to “Share” the road and give THEM right of way at intersections, AND they don’t want to pay any sort of fees such as registristation and/or insurance. Wow……must be nice to feel like you’re 12 again and have ZERO accountability.”

    I get a real “grow up and get a car” vibe from those opposing this bill. How did the idea that cyclists don’t own cars/drive ever come to be so pervasive? It also seems that nobody actually understands the bill. People seem to be taking it to mean that cyclists have the right of way at any intersection and can “blow” through intersections at speed.

    Unfortunately, reading many of the responses, I think we will be reduced to hand puppets to try and explain how the bill will actually work.

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    bikieboy March 18, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Matt (#4) – LOL! hilarious… my condolences on being stuck with an idiot rep., though.

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    Kt March 18, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    I gave up commeting on the news sites except as a way to vent my sarcasm.

    Not to offend anyone, but this site’s comments are similar in nature to those sites’ comments: both sets of comments are “preaching to the choir” and only serve to pat themselves on the back and make themselves feel good.

    However, I find the level of intelligence much higher on this site, and so choose to spend my time and energy here. I learn something new every day, which is refreshing. I hardly ever have to bring out the sarcasm here. 🙂

    Also, this site’s comments have also generated change, and got people out there doing something, so I guess this site’s comments are really not the same as the news sites’. Except that there’s a lot of “preaching to the choir”, since we all share a habit.

    Oh, and by the way: so-called “common sense” is a misnomer: it isn’t common at all!

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    Todd Boulanger March 18, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Any chance of getting an Idaho transportation or law official or state representative to give testimony on their experience with this law.

    [Any BTA members from Idaho?]

    There are still living bicyclists and drivers in Idaho, no?

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    murphstahoe March 18, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    @Kt – great minds…

    http://holierthanyou.blogspot.com/2009/03/cyclists-and-road-taxes.html

    “Why is it that “common sense” seems to be “nonsense” so frequently these days.”

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    a.O March 18, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    There are still living bicyclists and drivers in Idaho, no?

    No, sadly this place known as “Idaho” is not real. Some insist it was just a legend, and others think it is a conspiracy created by bicyclists who want to eliminate all rights for drivers*

    Regardless, no records related to drivers or bicyclists in Idaho can be found and so it is impossible to verify whether the carnage and chaos predicted by the wise Republican sages from places where nobody rides a bike anyway will come true if we dare to take the libertine step of approving this bill. Thus, it’s best to not take the risk.

    [*Yes, I have been accused of this.]

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    matchu March 18, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    This is excellent coverage of the issue.

    I’m glad the lawmakers are stressing how this legislation would encourage cyclists to fully utilize lower-traffic routes. As it is now, I cycle on Hawthorne, Sandy, MLK Jr. Blvd, and other busy routes. Why? There are fewer stops and with amble lanes, I never have to feel guilty about upholding traffic which can easily utilize adjacent lanes to safely pass cyclists. I will continue this behavior as it is the most expedient and relatively safe given the wide visibility that is possible on such roads. Should this law pass, it would not make side streets as fast as the streamlined, busy routes, but it would make them much more appealing as a cyclist.

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    wsbob March 18, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    There’s no need for a law that would legally allow people riding bikes to roll through stop signs at their discretion. A law like this proposal suggests might make them feel more comfortable rolling through in case they aren’t alert enough to spot a cop on patrol for roll throughs under the present ‘stop means stop’ law.

    Another good reason for ‘stop means stop’ that people at committee didn’t mention, is how livability is potentially affected when people aren’t required to stop at stop signs. I’d have to see some proof before being ready to accept that neighborhood residents would be comfortable with the idea of people on bikes being able to zip through their neighborhoods without so much as even having to stop at the stop signs.

    I’m really kind of surprised legislators would even waste their time on an idea like this. It’s a little more reasonable than Rep. Krieger’s idea, but not much.

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    Krampus March 18, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Seriously, if you want to state the case for this, get some Idaho reps over to Salem so they can report first hand how the law has been working for them. That way you get the info straight from the horse’s mouth.

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    joe March 18, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    wsbob – here in the NE alameda ridge area, the vast majority of intersections are uncontrolled. in addition to the absense of dangerous cyclists zipping through the neighborhood running over pets and children, the cars are also well behaved.

    not sure if this was the case from day one, but since people have gotten used to it, everyone procedes safely. just like in Idaho(from what I understand).

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    old&slow March 18, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    If you want to get a feel for some of our less enlightened citizens reactions to this bill go to the oregonians website and read some the the comments to this bill! They mostly read that “you cyclists just stay out of the gorge and stop running the lights in my neighborhood”. Wow, Kentucky can’t be much different that Corbett!

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    bahueh March 18, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    lots of complaining here today about something that will not come to pass….the energy is probably better spent on building up the leg muscles as it would seem most folks here don’t have much if the only argument they can muster for favor of such a proposal is “momentum”….

    there is no evidence that streets are safer or more livable if two sets of standards are enacted for two types of road users…sorry, sayin it repeatedly doesn’t make it truth…

    the only thing the public is seeing is a special interest group asking for special rights….who can’t seem to comprehend basic traffic laws, so they attempt to change them…

    Junior Bailey should stick to his 16oz. beer law…I find that much more pertinent to public interest by enlarge.

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    frank March 18, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Way to go. Testifying that bikes are fundamentally different than auto’s sounds like the testimony of people trying to ban bicycles from arterials, divided highways etc.

    Be careful what you wish for.

    I stopped at probably 10 stop signs today. I was *so* difficult. OMG the humanity.

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    e March 18, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I already stop Idaho style and so do most of the cyclists I see everyday on my commute. This means the only thing that will change if this passes (crossing my fingers that it does) is we will no longer be criminals. Yay!
    Oh, and, apparently Bentz is a total moron. Wow.

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    old&slow March 18, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    I agree with frank. Do be careful what you wish for. I sort of like being like everyone else on the road. I ride like a car, take the lane when I need to and stop at lights and signs. I find cars treat you much better when you do this (they give me the right of way most of the time) and it just makes it easier. The law change does make sense for cyclists but the general public ( and that is most people) feel this is special treatment. Since I have to ride with the general public, I want them to not resent me!

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    frank March 18, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    e,

    By your way of thinking we should legalize speeding for motorists. Actually due to the 85th percentile rule we already set speed limits based upon how fast motorists will wish to drive and not based upon any real safety data.

    I have read of several crashes on this website where a stop sign running bicyclist has met mr. car in an unfriendly way. Isnt there a family raising money for their brain dead/injured family member?

    My opinion is that if you legalize rolling through stop signs the only thing that is going to change is that bicyclists will only go through them even faster than they do now since most road users have a tendency to do things just slightly above whatever the legal limit is.

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    Daniel March 18, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    perhaps the committee needs to go for a bike ride around salem.

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    gabriel amadeus March 18, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Go Karl!

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    Scott Mizée March 18, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    ditto mr. amadeus. Go Karl!

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    Zaphod March 18, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    MikeOnBike + 1, Thank you!

    Nobody stops at stop signs on quiet streets when there’s no opposing traffic. Go hang out in one if you don’t believe me.

    Since this topic has been brought up, I’ve incorporated the Idaho model for my biking unless I spot a police cruiser or am at a known sting area such as Ladds and Flint. I am not blowing stop signs, I’ve just decided that I’ll take the legal risk to facilitate a faster and safer commute.

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    Joe Rowe March 18, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Great play by play reporting.

    The classic quote came from the simple minded lawmaker who forgot that Oregon has different laws for cars and pedestrians. Why? They are different. No panic in the streets.

    He seems to think a pedestrian must stop walking to zero MPH. pause, then cross the street.

    The dude must have never been a pedestrian other than walking to his car.

    That is the whole point of this. Pedestrians and bikes know the laws of physics, that they lose in the game of them v. cars.

    Bikes must yield to any nearby car. That is what this law states. A bike can easily go 1 mph and still yield.

    If no cars are nearby no need to stop to Zero MPH.

    The only confusion on this is from the malpractice of the news media who can’t bother to do some basic research.

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    Withheld March 18, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    FYI the City of Portland is neutral because this is such a difficult issue for non-bicyclists to understand. Among those who actually ride this proposal is common sense, as has been stated here numerous times in numerous ways.

    Among non-cyclists, however, it’s easy to interpret as “special treatment” for “outlaw” bicyclists… yadda yadda. The committee’s commentary speaks for itself.

    Said another way, the City actually supports this proposed change but cannot support it openly for fairly obvious political reasons. Kudos to the BTA for trying to marry the laws of the state with the laws of physics. Mr. Manvel’s comment may sound snarky… unless you actually ride. There is value in experience.

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    SkidMark March 18, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    This is the only thing I am going to say about Idaho stop thing. If you are looking both ways before you roll a stop sign, then you can see the cop waiting to ticket you. To me it’s “situation normal” either way. See a car and it has the right of way: Stop. See a cop and it’s against the law: Stop. Same way either way.

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    SkidMark March 18, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    The only difference is with the law you won’t have to look over your shoulder first.

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    wsbob March 19, 2009 at 12:06 am

    Joe #39, well apparently a lot of the rest of Oregon is somewhat different than you say it is over in the NE alameda ridge area, because a need for intersections regulated by stop signs obeyed by all road users seems to be recognized in those parts of the state.

    I’m curious whether the sponsors of this proposal might be thinking about related legislation that might, for example, exempt people riding bikes on public roads from being obliged to indicate intent(hand signals)to turn or stop at intersection. Wouldn’t this be another traffic law that bike riders should be able to comply with or not according to their own discretion?

    Some of the same arguments that proponents of the ‘Idaho Stop’ law have used to support passage of this proposal for Oregon could probably apply to bike riders obligation to signal turns too. Maybe the reason they haven’t is that for whatever reason, people that have received citations for this kind of violation aren’t objecting to them as they have in instances such as the Ladd’s enforcement detail and the shake-down that went on out in the small town of North Plains.

    People riding bikes probably do have better or easier visibility than people in some cars do. This greater visibility would probably apply to people with convertibles too, when the top is down. Should a law be crafted to allow them to decide to stop at stop signs according to their discretion?

    How about motorcycles and scooters? Their vehicles seem to allow visibility that’s easily as good as the kind riders of bikes benefit from. Should they also be allowed to roll through stop signs at their discretion as long as they don’t exceed the speed, for example, that a bike would travel when rolling through a stop sign?

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    jerry h March 19, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Just keep in mind that they start out with something extreme to negotiate a more reasonable settlement in the end.

    I’m sure something that I’ll still be very unhappy with..

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    Joe March 19, 2009 at 6:56 am

    In regards to kids, I teach mine correct ways, but letting them know that cars have limits, stopping distance and just plain safeness doesnt happen most of the time. ohh when i lived in N.calie police
    would want to see a foot clip out and touch the ground, They would wait at stops and just ticket people or yell at them. huge packs to riders. got nuts!
    ? growing pains back then ? yep

    we have road bullys in many cities! first name Ton

    Thanks have a great day,
    Joe

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    Harth Huffman March 19, 2009 at 7:05 am

    As far as the media coverage goes, it seems we can count on the Oregonian to get their own sensationalist views out there when they are “reporting” the story. The article yesterday had this as the second line: “And you’re scratching your head wondering when was the last time you saw one actually stop.”
    Way to be neutral, Oregonian!

    Harth
    Wabi Woolens

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    Harth Huffman March 19, 2009 at 7:07 am

    Oops, there it is right on the front of the next story! I figured it was already mentioned but I didn’t see it in the above comments. Sorry for the repetition, people.

    Harth

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    joe March 19, 2009 at 7:53 am

    wsbob, you asked “to see some proof before being ready to accept that neighborhood residents would be comfortable with the idea of people on bikes being able to zip through their neighborhoods without so much as even having to stop at the stop signs.”

    so I gave you some. go ride it and see for yourself.

    in my mind, this bill is an attempt to merge common sense and written law. I support efforts like this.

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    Objectivity March 19, 2009 at 8:39 am

    I do most of my commuting in my car, but I ride my in and around the city a great deal for exercise and, quite frankly, I think that the “Idaho Stop” is a bad idea. I believe that it’s popularity stems from two things: 1) Oddly enough the very people who are out for health and exercise are too lazy to obey the stop laws. 2) It will be easier on the city to make it legal than to enforce infractions.

    As it is, I rarely see cyclists stop at signs even when there are cars on the cross street that have stopped and should have the right of way. Currently, if a driver enters the intersection and there is a collision with a cyclist, the cyclist will pretty clearly be at fault. Under an Idaho Stop law, fault will be unclear.

    I have no doubt, by the way, that this has worked wonderfully in Idaho. We don’t live in Idaho, we live in Oregon and while it would probably work great in many areas of this state, I don’t see it working well in higher-density traffic areas, like the greater Portland Metro area.

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    Bjorn March 19, 2009 at 9:08 am

    #48 Actually most intersections in oregon are not 4 way stops. NE portland may be less controlled than other places, but there are hundreds of uncontrolled intersections in corvallis where I used to live and most residential neighborhoods with slow low traffic streets, the kind we would all prefer to be riding on, utilize uncontrolled intersections. Many of the stop signs you see are put there only to discourage through travel by automobiles and are not needed to enable the safe negotiation of the intersection.

    Bjorn

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    El Biciclero March 19, 2009 at 9:16 am

    #48: “I’m curious whether the sponsors of this proposal might be thinking about related legislation that might, for example, exempt people riding bikes on public roads from being obliged to indicate intent(hand signals)to turn or stop at intersection. Wouldn’t this be another traffic law that bike riders should be able to comply with or not according to their own discretion?”

    From ORS 814.440:
    “(2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is operating a bicycle and does not give the appropriate signal continuously for a stop or turn because circumstances require that both hands be used to safely control or operate the bicycle.”

    The signaling statute leaves it up to the vehicle operator to determine what is safe to do and allows them to do it.

    The Idaho stop law would not really affect me personally, because my practice of safely navigating intersections will not change. However, with the statewide long-term test case we have right next door, it seems the only reasons not to pass this law are political/emotional.

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    Scott Mizée March 19, 2009 at 9:20 am

    I agree with Joe #53

    I strongly support bills that are an attempt to merge common sense and written law.

    That is exactly what this bill is.

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    bahueh March 19, 2009 at 9:20 am

    bjorn, by that logic, wouldn’t it make more sense to pass legislation that removed superfluous stop signs in such neighborhoods, rather than a statewide law allowing any schmuck on a bike to think he/she can “run stop signs” (becuase you KNOW that is how it will be interpreted by many, many riders)

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    Kt March 19, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Cars already enjoy not having to come to complete stop at stop signs.

    It’s called a California Stop.

    But when bikes do it– oh no! The world ends! Chaos! Cats and dogs, living together!

    a.O, I like your comments on this thread. 🙂

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    Mike March 19, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Regardless of the outcome, those who prefer canstill come to a stop at stop signs.
    We can always change the law back after a few injuries/deaths occur, and if they don’t, then it is successful. I am not excited about the possibilty of more cyclists getting injured or dead, but it will happen either way.
    I guess what I am saying is let’s allow a little bit of Darwinism to occur.
    Helmet laws for motorcycle riders kind of comes to mind.

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    Evan Manvel March 19, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Karl and Ray did an amazing job. They collected an incredible amount of data and testimonials, and hopefully their work will pay off.

    For those who were skeptical or on the fence about this issue, I recommend you listen to the archive of the hearing. Karl and Ray are the first 45 minutes or so.

    Go to the Legislature’s web site audio archives, click on 2009 archives, archives of committee hearings, House transportation, 3/18.

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    Objectivity March 19, 2009 at 9:54 am

    There are quite a few postings about this being a “merging” of common sense with written law. I strongly suspect that this only appears to be “common sense” to bicycle commuters.

    Oh, and Kt…the so-called “California Stop” isn’t legal in Oregon.

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    a.O March 19, 2009 at 10:27 am

    IDAHO DISCOVERED!!

    This just in from the AP News Service: Scientists have discovered a place in western North America they are calling “Idaho.” Apparently, people have been living there for centuries and driving cars and riding bikes for at least a hundred years.

    It is indeed surprising that it was never heretofore discovered, given that it is contiguous with the rest of the continent.

    Most surprising of all, however, is the incredibly high roadway death rate caused by something the locals refer to as the “Idaho stop law.”

    Observers report piles upon piles of dead bicyclists, killed when they were unable to decide whether to blow through stop signs or yield right of way to motor vehicles.

    Scientists report that, at this rate, no bicyclists will be left in Idaho soon. Rednecks everywhere are rejoicing. “I hate bicyclists breaking the law and endangering everyone while I’m speeding down the road in my 2-ton truck,” was a commonly-heard refrain.

    Also reported are traumatized motorists, aghast at bicyclists repeatedly running into their cars and trucks. Even though the motorists are not injured at all by these collisions, protected as they are by their steel cages, they say they occasionally feel remorse at others dying due to their own mistakes.

    Idahoans want the world to know of the tragic mistake the Idaho stop law has caused in their newly-discovered land. They urge Oregonians not to repeat their awful mistake.

    “Won’t you please think of the children?!” on particularly moronic Republican was quoted as saying.

    He was at a loss to explain why there aren’t piles of dead bicyclists already in Oregon if, as he asserts, none obey the current stop law. “Critical thinking was never my strong suit,” he said. “If it aint about God, guns, or gays, I’m not much help.”

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  • Stephen Upchurch
    Stephen Upchurch March 19, 2009 at 10:27 am
  • […] Idaho Stop law hearing in Portland Bike Portland […]

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    wsbob March 19, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Joe #53, my personal feelings about people on bikes rolling through stop signs isn’t the standard for everyone else. If I lived in a neighborhood regulated with stop signs and said to someone that asked how I felt about people on bikes rolling through them, ‘No problem for me…I’m fine with it’, that wouldn’t necessarily represent the feelings of everyone else in the neighborhood.

    I’d say remarkably little is known about the Idaho Stop law; for example: how it came to be, the substance of the discussion pro and con that accompanied it’s approval in Idaho legislature, and how it’s regarded by a representative cross-section of that state’s residents. The only thing we tend to hear about that state’s bike roll-through law, are a statistic suggesting that injuries or death haven’t occurred due to this law. We also hear a number of comments from people that have spent time in Idaho and have ridden bikes there, supportive of the the Idaho Stop law.

    That’s about it in terms of available information that would support whether such a law would be a good idea for Oregon. If Oregon residents really feel that information is enough for them to encourage their legislators to approve the Idaho Stop….I should say, Idaho ‘bike’ Stop for Oregon proposal, then they should go ahead and do that.

    I don’t think most Oregon residents would encourage their legislators in that regard. In this modern society, we do still need roads to get us from ‘A to B’, but I believe to the extent it’s possible, people want those that are making that trip to do it in a way that’s safe and preserves a maximum of civility and calm to this place where so many live. This bill proposal does not address a need that needs to be met.

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    frank March 19, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Withheld,

    Just so you are aware. I do not own a car and ride about 5,000 miles per year.

    I stop at every stop sign and I am not in favor of the idaho stop.

    Not that I expect this to change your opinion but you should know that not “everyone who opposes this does not ride a bike.”

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    Arem March 19, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    a.O you are hilarious.
    Hello to Mike as a former Boise resident. The Idaho Stop Law was enacted the year I was born. I’ve never known any other way to ride until I moved to Portland. My own judgment was enough to tell me if it would foolish to move forward or to wait when coming to an intersection while paying attention to the signs telling me what type of intersection I’m approaching. Plus school and parents drilled it into me to look both ways when approaching and wear my helmet. Never had an issue and it made sense that way. Conservation of Energy.

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    a.O March 19, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Wait, Idaho is real?! HFS!

    Well, I’ve never heard of such a place and just because the only evidence I have heard about the Idaho stop law from people who actually live and work in Idaho is overwhelmingly positive, doesn’t mean that someone somewhere isn’t holding back some secret information conclusively demonstrating that this law kills innocent people and destroys families.

    Until I see evidence to confirm that, I’m just going to assume it must be true – after all, I thought it up.

    So, I’m against it.

    Idaho Stop, the crystal meth of traffic laws.

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    jim March 19, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Probably in Idaho people have the common sense to look before they blow the stopsign, I don’t see the evidence that Portland bike riders would do that. I think they would ride out in front of a car and then cry foul. Not all portland riders – just a chunk of them

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    El Biciclero March 19, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    “…demonstrating that this law kills innocent people and destroys families.”

    And kittens.

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    Side streets are safer streets March 19, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Personally I think this would tend to make cyclists more safe. Accidents that do happen on small residential streets tend to be at a lower speed than those on big arterial roads, so if not having to come to a complete stop at every sign moves people over from busy high speed streets onto slower less busy side streets then even if the accident rate stays the same the injury rate will go down.

    Just look at how much more deadly a crash with a car is when the car is going more than 20 mph.

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    Coyote March 19, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Jonathon, I’d like to know more about this letter from the City of Eugene. Who signed it?

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    jim March 19, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    “Just look at how much more deadly a crash with a car is when the car is going more than 20 mph”

    Most children killed by cars are killed in their own driveways, at a speed much lower than 20 mph

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    jim March 19, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    My thoughts- Go by the basic rule. If it’s a small quite street with no traffic I don’t see a violation, Downtown a bike swerves into traffic and causes a colision it’s a problem

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    John Reinhold March 19, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    According to opponents:

    1. Bicycles already never stop at stop signs – breaking the law.

    2. This proposed law would cause many fatalities because it is unsafe and would promote unsafe behavior and confusion.

    If 2 is true then why don’t we see lots of fatalities because of 1?

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    jim March 19, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    I see a lot of motorcycles rolling through stop signs too

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    Objectivity March 20, 2009 at 2:18 am

    It’s true that cyclists around Portland rarely bother to observe stop signs, and frequently choose to run red lights as the law currently stands. I suspect that this has caused more trouble than is general knowledge, mainly because I know people who have hit cyclists while driving (as well as cyclists who’ve been hit) and somehow managed to avoid the 10:00 news.

    As it is, cyclists are at least dimly aware of the fact that, each time they roll through a light or a sign, they are in fact breaking the law. Once you make it legal for a cyclist to roll through a stop (barring any “right of way” issues) you have delivered a false sense of entitlement, which is likely to result in even more blatantly risky behavior.

    At the heart of the matter, however, is the basic point of law in general. We have laws for the simple and narrow reason of keeping members of society safe. The laws that determine when a commuter in a vehicle must stop are there to minimize the potential harm to all commuters. This “modification” does absolutely nothing to enhance the safety of any segment of the community. Quite the reverse, it encourages risky behavior. It can only serve as a convenience to a vocal minority, and provides no real benefit to the greater community.

    IF this actually were a sensible course of action, motorcyclists would have been extended this right many years ago. Simply stated, motorcyclists enjoy all the benefits of cars (power, acceleration, stopping distance) as well as the (somewhat dubious) benefits of the bicyclists (unencumbered view, slightly higher viewpoint) and none of the shortcomings of either.

    Yet, you don’t hear people clamoring for “Common Sense” to meet the written law in the case of the motorcyclist. Why? Because they don’t have to pedal back up to cruising speed after stopping at a stop sign.

    By the way, I refer to the so-called advantages of the cyclist “dubious” because they are not only marginal, but easily offset by the conditions unique to cycling. Yes, my rear view, side views and windshield pillars block a marginal percentage of my field of view. On the other hand, while driving my car, I have never had to deal with stinging sweat rolling into my eyes, nor has road grit ever become caked onto my protective eyewear.

    I understand why you feel so strongly. Believe me, if I could ride my bike around town without ever having to stop I’d be in heaven. At the very least, put an honest face on it. Say something like “Look, cut us a break, it’s tough out here and we’d like to keep up the momentum.” Or “Cycling is good for the environment and good for people, this change will help convince more people to try it and stick with it!”

    Just don’t try to claim that it “makes sense” and expect everyone to belive that you’re not just being lazy, or trying to shave time off your commute. It’s insulting.

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    a.O March 20, 2009 at 8:08 am

    As insulting as someone using the monicker “Objectivity” to deliver a blatantly subjective opinion?

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    Tiffany March 20, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Thank you for reporting so thoroughly on this issue!!!

    I’m just wondering if there are any of you out there that were expecting any other outcome from the Oregon legislative body on this issue? Bike/car commuting has been a very tense and delicate issue here for a long time now. When Idaho passed this law, I’m sure there were no bike vs. car issues swirling around… The reality is drivers are still largely nervous and scared about sharing the road with the ever increasing amount of bikes on our Portland streets. Every one wants a safe and courteous roadway… While I admit to not stopping fully at many stop signs while riding, and as an avid and dedicated cyclist and bike commuter, I don’t think Portland is ready, at this time, for a law that allows bikes to roll through (and lets define this) stop signs. Please, can’t we focus our valuable time and energy on something more worth while? Truthfully, I have never, in my vast pool of environnmentally conscious friends and acquaintances, heard anyone say that they’d bike more if they didn’t have to stop at the stop signs… I do, however, often hear a lot of concern about being hit by vehicles when they have to ride on roads with no bike lanes, poor lighting, etc. Lets put this energy and lobby budget into more bike lanes and such… And just keep stopping at the stop signs.

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    El Biciclero March 20, 2009 at 11:52 am

    #78 “We have laws for the simple and narrow reason of keeping members of society safe.”

    Ahh, if only the world were that simple. The other, nefarious purpose(s) of laws are to subjugate the less powerful, and make money for Government or other powerful individuals. Here is an example that should make even non-cyclists mad:
    The Impact of Yellow Light Phase Timing on the Red Light Camera Program in San Diego, California

    This is just a random hit off the internets, so it might not be the best example, but here is an excerpt:

    “The preliminary results of the study indicate that the red light camera program in San Diego is operated primarily for revenue generation purposes, rather than for public safety.”

    Also: “Believe me, if I could ride my bike around town without ever having to stop I’d be in heaven.”

    Depending on your theology, this is probably true. No one is saying that cyclists would “never” have to stop.

    As for convenience, I agree part of the motivation for this law is for convenience, but that is not without precedent either. Let’s look at right turn on red: The light is red, but if I’m turning right, I can disobey that traffic signal and roll right on through–oops! I mean, STOP, and then proceed with caution. Is the right-on-red allowance meant strictly to ensure the safety of road users? I wish I had a nickel for every time somebody pulled out in front of me from a cross street while their light was red. If everyone is so concerned about safety, let’s abolish this insane practice of right on red! European countries have been doing it for years! It has been proven that disallowing right on red reduces accidents–what more do we need?

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    MikeOnBike March 20, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I see Rep. Bentz. is mistaken about the number of Idaho riders.

    From Janie Har, The Oregonian:
    “To that, Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, whose district borders Idaho, said: I think the reason they have that law is because they have only two bicyclists in the entire state.”

    There are actually three of us. The two of us he refers to mated and had a cyclist love child. The little tot is very good at judging whether it is safe to yield or needs to stop at stop sign. Didn’t even need to teach him, just common sense.

    I’m very tempted to email him with a polite explanation of the Idaho Stop law and sign it ‘From one of the two Idaho bicyclists’.

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    jim March 21, 2009 at 1:44 am

    don’t forget that 2 of those 3 bikes have gun racks while the 3rd launches potato’s for target practice

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    Carter March 23, 2009 at 9:10 am

    I know fixies and hippies are anti-facebook, but I made a group for this on facebook and encourage people to join. Especially bikeportland.org contacts aside from this blog it is another way to show biker unity! Search some or all of these words:
    Pro Idaho Stop Law – Oregon

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    Objectivity March 23, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Blatantly Subjective?
    Well, I suppose that part of being a simple human reduces us all to a certain, unavoidable level of subjectivity. I post under “Objectivity” because I spend a fair amount of time both on my bike and in my car, giving me a fairly balanced perspective. Of course, nobody believes that a perspective is balanced, unless it aligns with their own.

    I actually have a firm grip on the fact that, when cycling I am subject to the same laws of the road as cars (with very few exceptions).

    I can even admit that, a key factor in any conversation I have on these matters, is the fact that when I am cycling I very rarely have any reason to become upset with a driver. Conversely, when I am driving I frequently find myself upset with a cyclist or group of cyclists when they choose to ignore the laws for their own benefit. So, perhaps I am a bit tilted against the interests of other cyclists.

    This doesn’t change the fact that the only argument you seem to be able to present is to accuse me of being “blatantly subjective”. Can you explain how this change will help traffic patterns for the better? Describe for me how this will benefit the majority of the population in some way?

    I can already tell you that it is not uncommon for me to get stuck behind a cyclist struggling to maintain 10 under the speed limit on a narrow road with no bike lane. After I finally manage to safely pass in the oncoming lane I come to a stop light, which I dutifully obey. However, before the light turns green my cyclist friend reappears, rides up to the front of the line, passes on through the red light, and proceeds to assume the position of traffic obstacle once again. Wonderful, let’s make that legal.

    Right on Red? Well, it’s not exactly apples and oranges…more like oranges and tangerines, but you make a good point…for my argument. Right on red is the idea of cars from a single lane of a cross street merging “safely” into a single lane of traffic by executing a right turn after coming to a complete stop. The “Idaho Stop” doesn’t limit the number of participating lanes on either street, and provides the opportunity for cyclists to ride across 2,3,4 possibly up to 6 or 7 lanes of traffic (depending on the intersection) after rolling up to the red light and deciding for themselves if it safe to go.

    Where do you help to prove my point? Well, you’ve pointed out that it’s human nature to press your luck with respect to the Right on Red. (fyi, it’s technically illegal to make an unsafe right on red, and it can get you a ticket). How many cyclists are going to misjudge the speed of the cross-traffic vs. their own ability to accelerate and/or “press their luck”? It’s not acceptable to simply claim that “oh, the cars will be able to stop in time” whether they can or not isn’t really the point. The point is that when a car (or a bike) has a green light their path should be clear through the intersection.

    El Biciclero, you are right…many laws are on the books to generate revenue, which pretty much means that the city will (or should) choose to enforce the currently law more regularly and collect big money in fines!

    Honestly though people, I don’t really care if cyclists are determined to not have to put in the time to stop at a sign, or the work to get back up to speed afterward. Personally, I think it adds to my workout but most cyclists seem to find it an annoyance…so be it. I’m all for “decriminalization” in that we can drop enforcement…zero out the fines for infractions of this type committed on bikes.

    I really just don’t want there to be any sense of entitlement in the head’s of cyclists when they face cars at an intersection. As it stands today, if I witness a collision between a car and a bike at a four-way stop, all I have to do is point and say to the cop “that guy didn’t stop” and fault is going to be placed on “that guy”. Change the law and repeat that scenario, and occifer Bob is going to have to find out a lot more about what exactly happened before fault can be determined…and that’s just plain bad for business.

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    a.O March 23, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    You’re clearly frustrated by frequently getting “stuck behind a cyclist” while driving your motor vehicle.

    This is going to happen to you whether the bicyclist disobeys a traffic control device or not. And this is true even when there is a line of cars waiting at a light before the cyclist arrives, since it is legal for a bicyclist to pass motor vehicles on the right when safe to do so.

    But you have erroneously connected this experience with the Idaho stop law.

    Simply put, you need to get over this. It is a fact of life of sharing the road with bicyclists. Why do many people who drive fail to grasp this?

    By the way, virtually all of us who ride around town also drive. Your perspective is not unique or more balanced than anyone else’s simply because you also drive.

    Also, perhaps you would not get “stuck behind a cyclist” so much if *you* stopped breaking traffic laws. You know the one I’m talking about: The speed limit.

    Thanks to modern enforcement practices, drivers needlessly endangering other roadway users by violating the speed limit is “not uncommon.” In fact, it’s ubiquitous. I’m sure the common experience of going faster than you are legally allowed contributes to many drivers’ frustration at having to slow down for other vehicles.

    I think most drivers’ ignorance of how the law determines what their maximum speed should be is partly responsible for this sense of entitlement they have. For example, do you know what the basic speed rule is?

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    El Biciclero March 23, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    My point about RTOR was that somehow, people think drivers are able to determine when it is appropriate to obey a traffic signal (ROTR) but cyclists aren’t. Regarding getting a ticket for improper RTOR: somehow, police must be able to determine whether a driver has made an unsafe RTOR–and not based strictly on whether the driver stopped first. I can stop at a light and then make a perfectly unsafe and illegal right turn on a red–how can the cops tell? The same way they would be able to tell whether a cyclist made an “improper entry” into an intersection.

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    Objectivity March 23, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    An unsafe RTOR is actually pretty simple to identify. If you pull out in front of a vehicle which is then forced to brake due to your maneuver, it was unsafe. Obviously, the same would apply to cyclists taking advantage of the “Idaho Stop” but a fender bender between two cars is much less sticky than between a car and a bike.

    a.O, I’m not entirely certain about the “passing on the right” legality that you bring up. My impression has always been that it is only legal when the cyclist can take advantage of a bike lane. Otherwise it would be “lane-sharing” which is generally considered unsafe and illegal. Again, I haven’t looked into that one.

    As far as my own violation of the law, I’m actually quite a stickler for the speed limit…fact of the matter is that there are very few cyclists on the road who can even maintain 25mph on a measurable upgrade, forget about 30 or 35 on a flat.

    I like that you mention “Sharing” the road with cyclists. There are many drivers, I’m certain, who would rather not share the road with cyclists at all. I’m perfectly happy to share the road with cyclists, what I find frustrating is the fact that so many cyclists want to be treated with privilege, as opposed to following the rules that apply to everyone else using the road.

    Okay, I took the time and looked up the law as it concerns passing on the right. It’s interesting, because it’s loosely worded. I suspect that that it is intended to allow the use of an “imaginary” bike lane on roads that are wide enough for a bike lane, but don’t yet have one painted in. In my scenario, there isn’t room for a cyclist to “safely” ride safely alongside traffic, which is how I end up “stuck” behind him/her.

    Really, put some thought into what must have been the intent when it was written that a cyclist can pass on the right so long as it is “safe” for the cyclist to do so. You’ve got a line of stopped cars, so is it safe to ride to the front as long as the car doors aren’t randomly opening and closing? Is it okay as long as there aren’t Indiana Jones style Circular Saw blades slicing through the air alongside the car? No, it’s “Safe” if the cyclist can continue riding alongside the lane of automotive traffic without incident. Otherwise, the cyclist should stay in the lane, in the line of cars. Which is what I do when I find myself on a street that is too narrow to safely ride alongside traffic.

    Again, I really would love for someone to explain where the benefits to the general public might be found in this. The benefits to cyclists are clear, the potential hazards are apparent (at least to myself). Where is the justification for identifying a tiny minority of the population, and changing the law strictly to accomodate that minority in a completely and utterly superficial way? I mean, if we were talking about saving lives, that’s one thing…Is the benefit to cyclists so significant that they need and deserve to be elevated above other vehicle operators on the road?

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    a.O March 23, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    “[W]hat I find frustrating is the fact that so many cyclists want to be treated with privilege, as opposed to following the rules that apply to everyone else using the road.”

    In that way they are no different than so many drivers.

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    Objectivity March 23, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Of course they aren’t. People, in general, never really make it past the “selfish child” phase of life. Everything is about “me me me” and how others impacted really doesn’t factor in. As adults, the temper tantrums are managed better, but the motivations haven’t really changed.

    Rest assured that when drivers (or pedestrians) start looking to change the law in order to unreasonably benefit themselves, I’ll argue against that as well.

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    a.O March 23, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    One man’s unreasonable benefit is another man’s sine qua non. That’s why objectivity’s such a silly monicker. No offense.

    And you’ve clearly already reached your conclusion. If you really want to be objective about your statement that this law “encourages risky behavior,” you would at least speak to the evidence accumulated over 30 years in Idaho to the contrary.

    Or you can just do like the rest of ’em and continue to pretend Idaho doesn’t exist…

    Did you ever figure out what the basic speed rule is?

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    Objectivity March 23, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    I actually addressed the “fact” that it’s been working in Idaho for 30 years in an earlier post. In short, I’d be willing to wager that are more meetings between cars and bikes at intersections in Portland in a day than there are in all of Idaho in the same day. We have more cars, more bikes, more people, more roads etc…Which is why I say that it would probably work great in many Oregon communities, but I don’t feel that it’s appropriate for the Portland Metro area.

    Basic Speed Rule? It seems to me that it has something to do with limiting your speed based on the current conditions and your surroundings. Essentially, I drive (on the freeway and around town) under the assumption that my brakes are going to fail the next time I try to use them. So, you’re not going to guilt me on being an aggressive driver.

    By the same token however, there are provisions in the law against operating a vehicle on the roadway that cannot match the speed of the traffic flow.

    I’ll re-iterate again, from my observations this wouldn’t actually change the behavior of most cyclists, and I would gladly support the elimination of fines for cyclists. I think that making it legal serves only to muddy the waters when it comes to assigning fault in the event of collisions. Basically, I really don’t care if bikes (or cars, for that matter) roll through stops…I just want everyone to be clearly accountable for making the decision to do so.

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    a.O March 23, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    There is nothing in the law that would change accountability. The right of way rules remain the same. The ability to enforce them remains the same. The negligence standard continues to apply. You have no basis in law or in fact to support your concerns. You just keep stating them slightly differently in an attempt to distract from this glaring problem, bob. I’m done.

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    Objectivity March 23, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Once again, rather than actually arguing in support of changing the law, you make weak attempts at attacking my arguments.

    I completely understand that, technically speaking, the right of way rules still apply as they do now. However, the statement of a witness can no longer be taken at simple face value. Under the Idaho stop law it would be entirely possible for a car and a bike to both approach an intersection, the car stop, the bike not stop, the two vehicles to collide and either party to be “legally” at fault, depending on the timing of the approach.

    In any case, stop trying to tell my why I’m wrong, tell me why this change to the law makes sense. Again, how will this benefit the public at large? What will be the slight improvement to the general population, or the enormous and life-changing benefit to the cyclists that it will affect?

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    Bjorn March 24, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Idaho and Oregon have cities that are very similar in both size and density. If Boise were a city in Oregon it would be the second largest in the state.

    This law tends not to apply in the most dense parts of cities because they have traffic lights rather than stop signs, and where they do have stop signs they tend to be on high traffic cross streets where throughout most of the day bicyclists would not have the right of way and therefore would not be executing an Idaho Stop. Idaho also has many cyclists and bicycle clubs, and is adding more all the time.

    The idea that Idaho is vastly different that Oregon is simply not accurate.

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