The 2011 session of the Oregon State Legislature officially kicked off in Salem yesterday. While it’s too early for any significant action to have taken place, there are already some interesting bills that have emerged. Today, I’ll share two that have come to my attention..
House Bill 2228 — which I first heard about from the BTA advocacy manager Gerik Kransky — would prohibit anyone from carrying a child under six years of age on their bicycle or in a bicycle trailer. The infraction would come with a maximum fine of $90. The legislation was introduced by Mitch Greenlick, a Portland Democratic who represents District 33 (Northwest Portland/Forest Park).
Greenlick’s bill would amend ORS 814.460, which pertains to carrying, “unlawful passengers on a bicycle.” HB 2228 would add the “child under six years of age” provision to that existing law (a law which, as we’ve reported on in the past, is somewhat controversial to begin with).
It’s not yet clear what has motivated Greenlick’s bill. We have attempted to call and email his Salem office but have yet to hear back.
“I just saw some guy driving down the street on their bike with their headphones on and thought, ‘He could get run over.’ It’s a safety issue. It’s pretty cut and dry. It’s a very simple, very basic concept.”
— Rep. Michael Schaufler
Another bill that caught my eye is House Bill 2602, filed by Representative Michael Schaufler (D-Happy Valley). This bill would create a new offense for “unsafe operation of a bicycle, “if the person operates a bicycle on a highway while wearing a listening device that is capable of receiving telephonic communication, radio broadcasts or recorded sounds.” The offense would come with a maximum fine of $90.
I spoke with Schaufler about the bill this morning. He said it’s a just a straightforward attempt to improve safety. “I just saw some guy driving down the street on their bike with their headphones on and thought, ‘He could get run over.’ It’s a safety issue. It’s pretty cut and dry. It’s a very simple, very basic concept.”
Riding with headphones blaring is definitely not a great idea (I’ve said so as far back as 2005), but it will be interesting if the legislature feels like it’s a big enough problem to create a law for.
As the session progresses, we’ll try to keep you informed about all the important, bicycling and transportation related legislation that comes up and opportunities for you to weigh in on important issues. Check out our 2011 Legislative Session story tag for all our coverage.
UPDATE: According to a commenter below, Rep. Greenlick might have been motivated to introduce this legislation in part due to a recent study on bicycling injuries conducted by OHSU and published late last year. Unfortunately, that study has been widely misunderstood due to its use of the term “traumatic injury” — which the study found was suffered by 20 percent of riders over the course of a year. In that study, trauma — which for many people evokes a serious injury — was used to represent any injury of even the slightest severity. We still haven’t heard back from Greenlick’s office. We’ll update the post when we do. UPDATE: I have heard from Greenlick and have posted a follow-up story.