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Did firing of Karl Rohde hurt the Idaho Stop bill?

Posted by on April 22nd, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Rep. Jules Bailey
(Photo © J. Maus)

The Portland Mercury’s Matt Davis is reporting that House Representative Jules Bailey (D-SE Portland) places blame for the demise of the Idaho Stop law on the way the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) handled the departure of Karl Rohde.

In an update to a story published yesterday on the Mercury blog, Davis reports that Bailey, the bill’s main sponsor, said there was a “little bit of a disconnect” when Rohde was let go by the BTA and that it created “enough of a lag” that Bailey (and others) decided to “let it go and try again next season.”

Story continues below


Rohde was let go by the BTA right in the thick of battle for the Idaho Stop Law. (Rumors have swirled as to why Rohde was fired. He has told me that he’s disappointed to have lost his job. The BTA won’t comment on personnel matters.) The law failed to make it out of committee and theories are flying as to what caused its demise.

One of the theories is that the intense negative backlash directed toward legislators that supported the mandatory bike registration bill made them so upset that they took out their anger by opposing the Idaho Stop bill. (Both BTA Executive Director Scott Bricker and BTA Legislative Committee Chair Doug Parrow have perpetuated this theory in the local media.)

But Bailey disagrees. The Mercury reported that, “it has not been his experience that the bill failed because of citizen opposition to the bike registration bill.” Here’s more from the Mercury:

“I felt like we had some pretty good momentum on this…But there was a change in staffing at the BTA, and there was a little bit of a disconnect on this during that period, when resistance to the idea really solidified.”

“[Rohde] was really working it hard in a way that legislators don’t really have the time to do,” Bailey continues. “There was enough of a lag that we decided to let it go and try again next session.”

Shortly after Rohde was let go, I spoke with BTA legislative committee member Bjorn Warloe. Warloe said he was “surprised to hear he [Rohde] was fired.” When I asked Warloe about what (if any) impact Rohde’s departure would have on the Idaho Stop effort. Warloe said that he felt Rohde was “committed to the issues and was doing a competent job, so to fire him in the middle of the session was a mistake.”

“If it was just a difference of opinion about how Karl was doing his job,” Warloe said, “I wish they would have decided that next fall.”

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  • Earle April 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    BTA Executive Director Scott Rohde? It is Bricker, no?*

    Bricker is not good at leading BTA or getting things passed in Salem. Look how he blew up on this site (in the comment section) when the “raise your hand” to cross the street law/campaign failed.

    *Thanks Earle. It was a mistake. I’ve fixed it.

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  • DJ Hurricane April 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    There’s no doubt that BTA mishandled every single aspect of this lobbying effort, from failing to line up the necessary support (e.g., City of Eugene) and proper PR in advance, to being unable to counter the misrepresentations in the media, firing Rohde, and finally attempting to pass the blame to others.

    As for the Rohde mess, we, BTA’s members, are left with the impression that the BTA treats its employees pretty poorly. Doesn’t seem like a very good place to work, doesn’t seem like very nice people running the show over there. Who would want to be treated the way Rohde was apparently treated?

    And speaking of the people running the show, the buck has to stop with the guy in charge, right Scott?

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  • Anonymous April 22, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    With all due respect, I don’t think it was the loss of Karl Rhode OR the media reports that killed this bill. Nearly every single person I know that doesn’t ride a bike, and half I know that do ride a bike were against it for other reasonable reasons (Mainly the reliance put on the cyclists judgement, but that is a different discussion).

    Just my two cents.

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  • bahueh April 22, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    how about simply owning the fact that is was a crappy bill that a large number of Oregonian’s didn’t want?

    why start blaming it on certain people? I think the opposition had a much larger voice than those proposing the bill…

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  • bahueh April 22, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Bailey must be putting his energy into his next groundbreaking piece of legislation…the 16oz. beer pint law.


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  • Bjorn April 22, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    #4 actually every staff person I asked in Salem reported more emails and phone calls in support of Idaho Style than against. There really wasn’t a citizen level opposition. Even Lars Larson said on his show that he didn’t disagree entirely with the ideas behind the bill.


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  • Joey April 22, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    It just seems like the legislators have really thin skins. Their feelings were hurt, so they decided to take their ball and go home. They need to be swayed by some lobbyist to do the right thing? If the voters don’t treat them nice they won’t pass their bills? This how democracy is supposed to work?

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  • DJ Hurricane April 22, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    “fact that … a large number of Oregonian’s didn’t want?”

    You got poll numbers? Or you just don’t know what “fact” means?

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  • Phr3dly April 22, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Many folks I talked to thought it sounded like a bad idea. I thought so too.

    I prefer to remove ambiguity from road laws rather than add it. Stop means stop.

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  • Paul Tay April 22, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Oklahoma’s No Stop-on-Red HB1795 died in the Senate too. Ratz. It wuz a whole lotta fun while it lasted.

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  • buzz April 22, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Blaming others and pointing fingers now won’t do anybody a bit of good. But, I did find it odd that the BTA would let a guy go right in the middle of the lobbying for this legislation.

    Bottom line is this: The BTA and others has two years now how to figure out how to get this through next time if it wants it. They need to talk to cities and explain what it means. They need to talk to the media in advance and tell them what the Idaho Stop law is about instead of calling KATU after it had misreported on it. Heck, even having a guest opinion slot once in the larger papers in the state would be good as well.

    And, most importantly, have a game plan with the agency so the main person lobbying does not get let go due to “philosophical differences” (allegedly).

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  • old&slow April 22, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Stop the madness. The BTA is doing a terrible job right now with a lot of apologists on their side. If the bike shops stopped the BTA discounts they wouldn’t get any members.

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  • mark April 22, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    I don’t think that had anything to do with the “idaho stop” failing. it failed because it is a retarded idea. as many problems as we’ve had with the cars vs. bikes things, and then they try to pass a law that will certainly piss off everyone who already thinks bikes are toys and belong on the sidewalks. we need to be realistic and focus on things we can actually accomplish, not rolling through stop signs with impunity.

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  • Steve Brown April 22, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Stopping is inconvenient but does not impact the safety of a cyclist. Many non riders do not understand the law and many feel it grants special rights to riders. Passing this legislation will take a lot of time and money. Remember, Oregon has yet to pass a self serve gas law, so this may be a reach. It does not seem fair to judge the BTA based upon the failure of this legislation in this session.

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  • Pete April 22, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    mark (#13): “a retarded idea”?

    I disagree entirely. Nearly every cyclist I know and/or have seen treats stops in this manner to one degree or another. I don’t live in Portland (or Oregon anymore for that matter) but was having dinner outside there the other night watching cyclist after cyclist roll through stops when no cars were present, and stop and yield right of way when cars were. Not a single biker I saw came to a complete, dead stop when they didn’t need to, and I didn’t see a single unsafe incident or behavior. It’s easy to see why some people say “bikers never stop” though, and there are definitely people who use improper judgment, but the reality is the physics are different and this behavior will continue to be status quo, whether legal or not.

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  • Frank Selker April 22, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Cyclists were not successful in communicating with the media before they covered it, so they put out weak and misleading pieces that hurt it. I think the Oregonian is now getting it and treating it more seriously as an issue, but the damage had been done for this session.

    Lots of good laws fail before ultimately succeeding – and this is a particularly challenging time given the other problems they are (hopefully) pondering in Salem.

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  • Steve April 22, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Hm, OK! I’ll continue to ride cautiously through stop signs as I have been. If I do get a $200 ticket, that’ll be like 2 cents for every stop sign since I’ve been here. Sounds reasonable enough to me.

    Everywhere outside of Oregon, most cyclists run red lights, let alone stop signs. The drivers have it good here in that respect.

    I’d love to see an ordinance which limits the distance from an intersection where vehicles can park. To me, it’s a glaring safety issue for peds, bikers and cars because you can barely see oncoming traffic on many of Portland’s streets. Think about entering Hawthorne, Belmont, Alberta from a street without a traffic light. EXACTLY!

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  • wsbob April 23, 2009 at 1:15 am

    The Idaho Stop for Oregon law had no guts. Its supporters had almost nothing to bring to the public that would enable an open, thoughtful consideration of how the Idaho Stop in that state has performed and how it has been received by people there. Information of this kind would have been helpful in understanding how beneficial the law might have been for Oregon.

    On this weblog, I’ve read several times in comments by various people to related topics on this weblog, that efforts were made to keep the legislative effort ‘under the radar’. Maybe lack of this kind of information was why.

    Where supporters of the proposed law declined to provide the public with substance in terms of how the law might benefit both citizen and community of Oregon, the media was happy to fill the vacuum with a few fluffy stories on the subject that gave its regular corps of weblog reactionaries something to tie into with glee.

    When people hoping to have a controversial law proposal made into law will not, when presented with what they have prepared in support of the proposal, trust the public to come to a fair, balanced conclusion about the merits of such a proposal, they shouldn’t be surprised if the public isn’t thrilled with what they have in mind.

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  • Steven J April 23, 2009 at 2:49 am

    perhaps going back to making cars shut off their engines at an intersection would garner more support.

    Early motor vehicles at one time had to do this to prevent spooking horses.

    Don’t blame the BTA for lawmakers lack of vision.

    we all deserve some blame for putting em in office.

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  • ride safe y'all April 23, 2009 at 7:20 am

    I was considering becoming a member in the future but the whole event leaves a bad taste. I have been let go very ungraciously after doing a good job (and oregon being an “at will” labor law state, no explanation is needed for whim-firings) and this just reminds me of that experience. any organization that I would want to lobby on my behalf for policy making would best serve me through transparency and accountability.

    also, I thought the idaho stop law was also a bad idea. there are too many inconsiderate bicyclists in this town, and despite the presence of more sensible and courteous cyclists like me and a couple others I know,there are too many others who are total jerks on the road.

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  • Anonymous April 23, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Steve #16

    ‘I’d love to see an ordinance which limits the distance from an intersection where vehicles can park. To me, it’s a glaring safety issue for peds, bikers and cars because you can barely see oncoming traffic on many of Portland’s streets”

    Exactly the reason why this law wasn’t workable. The majority of the intersections in Portland will require a stop to see past the parked vehicles.

    The law could not apply to every stop sign controlled intersection because it was not safe to do so. You then get into the issue of marking those intersections that are exempt from the stop as yield law.

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  • Matt Davis April 23, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Thanks for the link Jon. It’s odd. The BTA is blaming Bikeportland commenters for killing the bill. Bailey is blaming the BTA. There does seem to be some scapegoating going on!

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  • Corey April 23, 2009 at 9:05 am

    I know getting this passed statewide is the ultimate goal but why not start by lobbying Portland and Eugene city government to institute Idaho stops in their respective cities. Maybe start by confining it to designated bike paths and bike boulevards. This would at least encourage cycling in those areas and prevent stupid revenue generating stings under the guise of public safety. Maybe if we started with bike boulevards there actually would be support for “special rights” since these are supposed to be our roads, perhaps this would garner neighborhood support since it might steer more cars off these streets.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 23, 2009 at 9:11 am

    corey, the problem trying to get Idaho Stops on a local level is that it could create confusion when people ride through different cities.

    As for why this bill failed. In my opinion, the two largest factors were;
    1) biased and incorrect media reports at the outset.
    2) the BTA perhaps spent too much time on creating their materials and doing research, and not enough time on the communication side of things. From the opposition by the City of Eugene, to the misunderstanding of the bill by legislators and the media… if there had been more outreach to key people it would have had a better chance.

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  • DJ Hurricane April 23, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Actually, the problem is that local governments (cities and counties) are prohibited by state law from implementing the Idaho Stop rule.

    What local governments can do under state law is place differenct signs at intersections that apply to different types of vehicles. For example, the bike boulevard in my neighborhood includes an intersection with signage that says, “Right turn only — except bikes.”

    Portland could do the same thing with the traffic control signs. They could place a sign that says “Motor Vehicles Stop” and another that says “Bikes Yield.”

    The best part of doing this would be that, after it worked just fine for a year at a couple of intersections, we would have even more evidence to prove that the people who think this causes some kind of road chaos are full of sh!t.

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  • Corey April 23, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Jonathan, I agree that it would be confusing for some, though perhaps by starting off on designated bike paths and boulevards it would relieve some of that confusion as well as some opposition. At the very least this would help us get over the “Oregon is not Idaho” excuse and by piloting it in Portland which seems to have some city officials that are friendly to cycling it would also get us past the argument that it can only work in small towns. If this is dead at the state level for the next 2-3 years surely there’s no harm in trying to get it done in the city before then and compile some kind of evidence that it actually does work in Oregon the next time this can be brought to the state.

    It just seems to me that the all or nothing approach is eternally doomed to failure and that maybe a few baby steps are in order.

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  • mmann April 23, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Tit-for-tat is part of politics and anyone who doesn’t believe that isn’t watching. Of course the nasty phone calls and emails regarding bike licensing soured some legislators towards giving cyclist or the BTA any traction on the Idaho Stop bill. Maybe it wasn’t a big decisive factor, but It certainly didn’t help the cause, that’s for sure. Lesson learned, I hope. If you can’t disagree respectfully, best not to say anything at all, especially when slinging immature insults affects your fellow cyclists.

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  • steve April 23, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Bricker should be replaced ASAP.

    Who is in charge Scotty? Are you only capable of taking responsibility for other peoples successes, never your own failures? What a great trait to have in a leader!

    For anyone interested in what a joke the BTA is, I recommend doing some volunteer time with them. It will be enlightening to say the least. The BTA is little more than a pathetic joke. It represents local business owners while pandering just enough to the sheeple to keep them around and bleating. The BTA now solely exists to keep itself in existence.

    These people are hurting and taking advantage of cyclists. Please stop apologizing for them!

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  • Pscyclepath April 23, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I’d probably be a little more supportive of the Idaho Stop concept if I saw more cyclists complying or at least trying to comply with the traffic laws as they currently exist, rather than effectively trying to legitimize illegal behavior.

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  • Michael M. April 23, 2009 at 11:39 am

    As the saying goes, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” In this case, it seems no one can be quite certain why this particular sausage went bad, though everyone has their favorite theories and favorite targets of blame. (From what I’ve seen, steve #28 would blame the BTA for the recession, the depression, the Iraq war, WWII, 9/11, and the sinking of the Titanic if he could.)

    In any case, as a BTA member, I am disappointed not by the failure of the bill, but by the handling of the Rohde situation. You just don’t fire someone in that kind of key, high-profile position at a critical time with a “no comment.” You either issue a statement explaining your actions and why it had to be done now, or you wait for less critical time when you can get away with platitudes like “pursuing other opportunities.” This, IMO, is what makes the BTA look bad, not the bill’s failure, which most people acknowledged was an uphill battle anyway. I’m not interested in scuttlebutt or gossip, I just think an organization dedicated to lobbying owes its members an explanation for suddenly and summarily firing its principle lobbyist at the most important time of the legislative cycle.

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  • revphil April 23, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Corey you might be onto something. Lets start even smaller… a Idaho-Style Pedalpalooza ride?


    This law would have made it safer for bikers who currently check behind themselves for cops,

    and safer for bikers with short legs and high top tubes,

    and safer for novice riders with clipless pedals,

    and safer for tall bikes!

    It would relieve the burden police have of ticketing bikers rolling though at a pedestrian speed. Of course they would still be able to ticket anyone they feel is being unsafe.

    It would allow bike traffic to move more smoothly and efficiently.

    le sigh…

    Laws can give those without brains a feeling of safety, personal responsibility keeps us safe.

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  • bahueh April 23, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    soDJH (#8), you’re still cryin’ about this huh?
    most the online media polls were overwhelmingly against the bill…if you know of other polling compilations, feel free to share your “facts”….

    just because you want it, doesn’t make it so..

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  • She April 23, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    So to those in suppport, here is my concern –

    1. Cars will no longer stop, but rather yield at the the stop signs.

    I regularly see lots of cars that never stop NOW at stop signs, they scare me.

    2. Car drivers will get mad at cyclist who yield legally (if and when the bill were to become law) but because they do not understand the law they get mad thinking we are breaking the law.

    Yesterday on my commute home, I had a car driver apparently angry at me for getting in front of the cars at a red traffic light. I moved up next to the stopped cars to the front and pulled in front of the front vehicle to be seen. The light was red the entire time. All my moves were completely legal, they may not have been super nice, but my feeling is my safety is not worth giving up to be “nice” to car drivers. I almost caught the driver at another light to talk it through…

    Any thoughts on how Idaho Stop Bill might effect car driver stop behavior?

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  • Spencer Boomhower April 23, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    “rather than effectively trying to legitimize illegal behavior”

    We frequently hear: the law’s the law, just follow the law. The problem is that not all legal things are necessarily *good* things, nor do they necessarily make sense, and not all illegal things are necessarily bad, nor do they lack in common sense.

    I saw the Idaho Stop law as simply an attempt to legitimize common sense.

    “le sigh…”


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  • John Thomas April 23, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    No, common sense and people using their brains stopped the Idaho Stop Bill.

    If that idea was any dumber, I would have sworn it was devised by Dubya

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  • Anonymous April 23, 2009 at 1:39 pm


    Is it legal to pass on the right without a bike lane?

    Did you have to pull to the front of traffic to be seen or could you just as easily waited in line?

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  • christopher lee April 23, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    i recieved a ticket for a rolling stop a few years ago and stood on the sidewalk awaiting my ticket watching drivers do the same thing through the intersection i had just been ticketed at.
    i just wish drivers would own up to their own shit because who’s gonna kill who when a bike collides with a car?

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  • Spencer Boomhower April 23, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    OK, this is odd… The web site in my username was changed from my video link to some kind of slot car site, the formatting was changed to remove the blockquotes tags, and… I didn’t write the “P.S. great post” note.

    If it’s a hack, it’s a weird one.

    John Thomas: all I can say, again, is: it’s working great in Idaho, and it’s pretty much current, common, safe practice. But you won’t have to worry about it for another two years at least!

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  • Elly Blue April 23, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Spencer — yikes, you’re right. The spammers get sneakier all the time. I thought I saw a duplicate post (what happens when you hit “submit” twice) and deleted the wrong one apparently.

    Fixed now.

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  • Spencer Boomhower April 23, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    OK, thanks Elly!

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  • MikeOnBike April 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Spencer, thank you for your lucid portrayal of the Idaho Stop Law. I’ve been living and riding in Idaho for the entire existence of the law. As you and others have said, it just works.

    Are our drivers and riders more sophisticated than Oregon’s? I hope not. Perhaps just more practical. Instead of hiding behind a blanket ‘the law is the law’ comment our citizens and more specifically our police and law makers looked objectively at the situation and legislated a safe, practical solution. ‘Blowing’ through stop signs and red lights is still illegal in Idaho.

    It is unfortunate that there has been such a kneejerk, OMG reaction to our stop law. I think that the BTA should have started with a presentation like yours. Perhaps early education would have resulted in a different outcome.

    Thanks, again…

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  • KruckyBoy April 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    i just wish drivers would own up to their own shit because who’s gonna kill who when a bike collides with a car?

    If you are that concerned about driver behavior and your safety I would think you would be coming to an absolute foot down stop at every stop sign. I don’t get the ‘cars are dangerous so I’m going to ride less predictably to be safe’ thing.

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  • SkidMark April 23, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    “perhaps going back to making cars shut off their engines at an intersection would garner more support.

    Early motor vehicles at one time had to do this to prevent spooking horses.”

    I am not buying this. During this time period cars didn’t not have electric starters, and I have a hard time believing you would have to get out of your car and hand-crank it at every stop sign.

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  • Spencer Boomhower April 23, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    “I am not buying this. During this time period cars didn’t not have electric starters, and I have a hard time believing you would have to get out of your car and hand-crank it at every stop sign.”

    That tidbit about the cars-stopping-their-engines was one I wish I could have found more info on. Karl mentioned it on The Bike Show, and when I asked him for more details, he said it was something he’d seen on a Discovery Channel show about the early days of automobiles. But he couldn’t find a reference to it anywhere else either.

    Actually, if I remember correctly, his account also included the detail that a driver had to not only stop the engine at stop signs, but then also get out of the vehicle and walk all the way around it. Which sounds outlandish, but *would* allow for them to crank the engine as you say. Still, because it sounds so outlandish, I generally skip that part in my retelling of the story. Now, though, that’s seeming like it might be a crucial detail.

    This would of course have been the extreme early days of motoring, when these road invaders were still viewed with fear and distrust.

    I’d love to find more info on this. The point illustrated – laws change over time with changing situations – is valid, but it doesn’t help if people don’t believe the example given.

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  • Michael M. April 24, 2009 at 6:27 am

    SkidMark & Spencer (#43 & #44):

    Chapter One of Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand gives a brief overview of early anti-auto sentiments and controls:

    “Incensed local lawmakers responded with monuments to legislative creativity. The laws of at least one town required automobile drivers to stop, get out, and fire off Roman candles every time horse-drawn vehicles came into view. Massachusetts tried and, fortunately, failed to mandate that cars be equipped with bells that would ring with each revolution of the wheels. In some towns, police were authorized to disable passing cars with ropes, chains, wires, and even bullets, so long as they took reasonable care to avoid gunning down the drivers.”

    Her notes cite Floyd Clymer, Those Wonderful Old Automobiles (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1953, p.30).

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  • wow April 24, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Jonathan #24 and others:

    I’m sorry, but suggesting that the law failed because of negative media reports is so very naive of you, and wishful thinking. The law, as proposed, is incredibly dangerous to all street users, and carries a very high liability potential. The bottom line is: it is a bad law, and while our legislators get very little right – they were on the ball to stop this cold.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 24, 2009 at 8:24 am

    “onathan #24 and others:

    I’m sorry, but suggesting that the law failed because of negative media reports is so very naive of you, and wishful thinking.”

    hi wow,
    I didn’t say “negative” media coverage… i said biased and incorrect.. there’s a big difference between the two.

    When the state’s largest and most influential newspaper publishes a biased, anti-bike and idaho stop article on the front page of their Metro section it has a big impact on public perception (including legislators).

    Also, it’s important to understand that I don’t believe it was the media coverage alone that killed this bill’s chances… there were many factors involved.


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  • Spencer Boomhower April 24, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    “The law, as proposed, is incredibly dangerous to all street users, and carries a very high liability potential.”

    Personally, I think the media coverage had something do do with it, but a larger issue was a visceral, gut-reaction response many people had to the idea, before they even picked up a paper. This led to predictions of all the bad things that would happen if the law was passed.

    And it wasn’t just non-riders, I heard bike-riding friends raise the red flag of doom as well. These are riders who themselves do safe rolling stops, but were concerned *other* riders, the “bad” ones, would abuse the priviledge, thus making them (the safe riders) look bad, and generally make drivers even angrier at all bike riders.

    All this crystal-ball gazing was going on even though there was absolutely no need for guesswork (and I’m amazed at how many times I’ve felt the need to type this over and over in the last couple of weeks, but OK just this one more time), because it’s been tried and tested in Idaho for the last 27 years. The law in Idaho, so far as I know, has not put anyone in danger, nor has it led to an increase in litigation. There’s even some suggestion that it’s made things better.

    I think, going forward, it’s really worth delving into what’s behind the gut reaction I describe, and how it is that it can blot out the simple facts like the ones I just repeated. Examining that reaction in detail could help us learn what we can do to sooth it, and make it not quite so bile-ridden. Doing so could make the road smoother for all future bike-sensible legislation.

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  • wsbob April 24, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    The impression left from the paltry material that supporters of the Idaho Stop for Oregon law proposal put together and moved ‘under the radar’ to legislators, was that a law based on this proposal would do nothing particularly good at all for road users except those riding bikes.

    And for people riding bikes, the law’s creation appeared to have been devised so that they could get an exception not allowed other road users, from perhaps the most basic of all traffic regulatory concepts: ‘Stop Means Stop’. And also consequently, an exception from getting cited when they roll or blow stop signs.

    My personal theory is that these things made this law proposal a very hard sell. I’d bet that next time around, supporters of Idaho Stop for people on bikes in Oregon are going to be a lot more successful if they can present the proposal accompanied with information that promotes benefits of the law to all road users.

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  • Bjorn April 24, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Not to quibble wsbob, but have you bothered to read any of the material that we put together. I kind of doubt it as you call it “paltry” when in fact it was a pretty thick stack of documents, studies, data, and testimonials.

    I also take exception to the under the radar comments that you make. Karl and I both were on syndicated talk radio, press releases were made to local media outlets, many of which decided to ignore the information and put out erroneous reports, but you can’t necessarily control the media and we did our best to steer the media to accurate reporting. I spoke extensively with Jonathan as well and he certainly gave Idaho Style a high profile on this site. There was an attempt to mitigate high profile negative reporting, it was not always successful, but the strategy wasn’t for no one to talk about it, it was for people not to talk about it in an erroneous and negative way.


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  • wsbob April 24, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Bjorn,I got my information on the proposal much the way an ordinary member of the public would get theirs; I read most of the material presented here on this weblog, and some of the articles in the Oregonian(actually, reading bikeportland is probably something the general public doesn’t commonly do like they watch channels 2, 6, or 8.). None of it made a very strong argument that the law proposal had something to offer all road users.

    This Berkley study mentioned the other day…first time I’d heard of it…seems like I recall reading that it isn’t actually quite finished yet either…some preliminary conclusions suggesting positive benefits of the Idaho Stop have been released…that’s all so far, and too late to help the proposal.

    I read the ‘under the radar’ reference to the law proposal made by someone that seemed to be a supporter of the proposal, on a thread on this weblog. The likelihood of negative response to a proposal like this one should have been a given. I don’t see that supporters of the proposal adequately prepared to counter that negative response. Had they done so, the proposal still might not necessarily have passed, but it could have left the idea looking much better to the general public than it does today.

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  • Michael M. April 25, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Spenser #48 … Isn’t it fairly obvious what’s behind the gut reaction you describe? It’s the widespread perception that cyclists as a group are arrogant scofflaws. Our problem is that there are now enough cyclists around that people pay attention, but not so many that we are seen as a legitimate force. I suspect that when this law was enacted in Idaho, if you said “bicyclist” to the average person, that person would’ve thought of kids and the occasional weekend warrior or health nut. I doubt even Boise had many bike messengers 27 years ago, let alone anyplace else in the state. The situation is completely different now. Cyclists are commuters, shoppers, messengers, business people, athletes, and so on. We’re everywhere, so we’re noticed, but we’re dwarfed by the number of motorists and pedestrians out there. So when we blow through stop signs, swerve around pedestrians instead of yielding, ride the wrong way down the street, ride around without lights in the dark, and generally act like arrogant clods, that’s what people remember. And, unfortunately, we do all of those things. Pedestrians behave badly too, motorists behave badly too, but there are so many of them that it’s easier for people to understand that those are a few bad apples. We are not numerous enough to overcome the bad examples set by the jerks who ride bikes.

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  • Spencer Boomhower April 27, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Michael M.

    I basically agree with what you’re saying:

    “It’s the widespread perception that cyclists as a group are arrogant scofflaws.”

    But as to the why of it, I’m thinking it has to a lot to do with the fact that whenever we employ a particular mode of transportation, we become part of the “us” of that mode, and everyone else is the “them.” And we tend to perceive the bad actions of “them” more vividly. I know that I do this, whether I walk, bike, or drive: it’s the people using other modes that really raise my ire when they do something wrong.

    There was a good Joseph Rose article that explored the phenomena:

    I think the big problem to be tackled is de-us-and-them-ing the roads. After all, we’re all just trying to get somewhere, preferably without being disrespected, terrified, hurt, or killed. But this us-and-them thing needs to be picked apart and understood before it can be exorcized.

    I think one big issue is that we tend to feel like our vehicles are extensions of ourselves. If your vehicle is 3000 pounds and incredibly powerful, that does something to how you act on the road. If you’re surrounded by similarly-sized vehicles, you reach an equilibrium with them, and you can more or less relax. But throw an unpredictable little 200-pound thingy into the mix, and that startling disparity in size and power sparks all sorts of emotions, primarily: fear, anxiety, and anger. (And anger can result from fear and anxiety.)

    Those emotions are present when people imagine passing something like the Idaho Stop. Rationally, we can concluded that Idaho’s history with the law suggests it wouldn’t add to anyone’s fear, anxiety, or anger, but try telling that to a deep-seated emotion.

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  • wsbob April 27, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    “Rationally, we can concluded that Idaho’s history with the law suggests it wouldn’t add to anyone’s fear, anxiety, or anger…” Spencer Boomhower

    More specifically: “…wouldn’t add to anyone’s fear, anxiety, or anger…”Spencer Boomhower

    Except for the voices of a handful of Idaho officials and bike advocates, Idahoans seem to be virtually silent as to their reception to the their law. If you’re saying this is all your own personal rational thought process requires for verification that the law wouldn’t add to anyone’s fear, anxiety, or anger, then fine.

    I get the feeling that many Oregonians would like a little bit more than that for them to form a rational conclusion that the law wouldn’t adversely effect their experience on the road if it were in place in Oregon. If there is a good reason that supporters of a such a law in Oregon shouldn’t provide them more, let us hear it.

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  • Spencer Boomhower April 27, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    wsbob, I think the, “it seems to have worked in Idaho” argument was one of the easiest and strongest to bust out in favor of the law, but along the lines of what you’re saying, I didn’t see it backed up as much as it could have been. I could see how that would result in people questioning that particular talking point.

    With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight it seems like the BTA could have benefited from trumpeting that point a little more, and also backing it up with studies and testimonials.

    Somewhere along the line I remember hearing about how some Idaho law enforcement people were going to make the trip to Salem to speak about their law’s effectiveness. But then I never got around to finding the details of this story online so I could just refer to it whenever the “it worked in Idaho” subject came up. Eh, next time. 🙂

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