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Oregon House bills would prohibit wearing headphones, carrying kids under six while biking – Updated

Posted by on January 12th, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Bike to Blazers

House Bill 2228 would prohibit
towing kids under six in
a bike trailer.
(Photo © J. Maus)

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.

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  • Shane January 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Get that man out to a Kidical Mass ride QUICK!!

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    • lisa January 12, 2011 at 3:38 pm

      Yeah! Another well intentioned, but misguided effort to protect children. But protect them from what? From being injured by cars I assume. Then let’s restrict the threat, the cars, not the freedom of families to travel by bike.

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  • Andrew January 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    So, we’re not going to make it illegal to drive while wearing headphones or iPhone earbuds? When you’re already surrounded by glass and metal and protected inside you’re car, you’re already paying less attention than a person riding a bike while blasting punk rock.

    And to be clear, I see drivers wearing headphones/earbuds all the time. On freeways.

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    • Michweek January 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm

      It is illegal to drive and wear headphones. It’s now getting more attention and more tickets are being handed out due to the new cell phone laws.

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      • Andrew Plambeck January 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm

        I don’t think that’s the case. The iPhone hands-free calling apparatus IS a set of headphones, and that’s technically legal under the cell phone law, which remains unenforceable due to the ability of anyone, anywhere to claim “I was driving for work.”

        I’d be very interested to see any data showing greater enforcement of distracted driving, but I really can’t have much faith that it exists. I see too much of it every single day.

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        • Paul Johnson January 12, 2011 at 4:47 pm

          Actually, headsets are headphones, which means using one as a hands-free device to comply with the cellphone law still puts you in violation of the law. The only way around it is to go on speaker.

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    • lisa January 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm

      Yeah, this false eqivalency drives me kind of crazy. The person on bike wearing earbuds is only endangering him/herself.

      The person in car wearing earbuds is endangering everyone around him/her. So we should restrict the person causing the greater danger to society, the person in car.

      Same cognitive dissonance applies to red light / stop sign running. Bike endangers self, car endangers everyone around.

      And don’t EVEN get me started on dark clothed person walking vs. dark tinted windows.

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      • KC January 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm

        While I don’t think wearing earbuds should be illegal (since IMHO it’s not endangering anyone at a reasonable volume), a person using earbuds at a high volume is most certainly endangering more than him/herself. Think pedestrians, other bicyclists, not to mention the emotional impact on a driver of hitting a cyclist who you don’t have time or distance to brake for.

        Bicyclists who don’t think they can be a danger to others are particularly more dangerous by the fact of their thinking that way.

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        • maria July 13, 2011 at 9:38 am

          how does wearing headphones have any thing to do with hitting a pedestrian? My eyes are more important than my ears on my bike

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    • Paul Johnson January 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm

      It’s already illegal to do so while driving, which means that it’s already illegal to do so on a bicycle. Redundant bill is redundant in this case.

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    • Duncan January 13, 2011 at 6:23 am

      If I recall it is already illegal in cars…. someone correct me if I am wrong.

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  • Todd Boulanger January 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I would be interesting to learn what generated HB 2228? (Transit operators? 😉 Perhaps it is a typo – instead of 6 years old it may have been 6 months old. I could see the public health benefit of restricting bike riding by infants due to their underdeveloped neck muscles, developing brains, etc.

    And the same HB2602? It may be more effective to expand the existing cellphone law to include cyclists [but with a lower fine for cyclists] and to allow the use of a single headphone to listen to music, etc. If there is public support for this, I would also recommend adding pedestrians (joggers, etc.) too…as pedestrians with two headphones are a more typical path/ trail hazard than cyclists with headphones, in my experience on the I-5 Bridge, etc…it can be hard to pass a pedestrian with headphones since they are not very aware of traffic from the rear (even with my bell ringing, etc.).

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  • Ayleen January 12, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    When I’m wearing headphones, how do you know how loud the volume is? I can usually have a whispering conversation over the volume of my headphones. Hearing the cars around me is key to me being able to ride confidently, so I balance the two.

    I’ve been known to rock out in a car with the volume WAY higher, and I hear cars bumping all the time.

    So, why are my headphones more dangerous? I don’t get how I can hurt other people by wearing my headphones at a low volume.

    And if I’m not hurting other people, why do we need a law preventing my actions?

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    • rigormrtis January 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm


      the majority of people who talked on the phone while driving did not cause accidents or harm people. Do you favor going back to that?

      FWIW, I think it should be illegal to drive with headphones.

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      • rigormrtis January 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm

        I’d like to also add that looking at your ipod while biking and changing songs is very dangerous. I have seen many people nearly get tagged as they sail obliviously through a stop sign looking for the perfect Deathcab song.

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      • matt picio January 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm

        That’s exactly why the law should define and prosecute distracted driving, and not reference a particular technology. Thanks to modern soundproofing, motorists are effectively deaf – with or without headphones. In 5-10 years, we’ll be able to use “inductive headphones” to directly stimulate nerves in the ear canal without a visible earphone bud. This bill won’t address that, since it’s addressing a symptom and not the problem itself.

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        • lisa January 12, 2011 at 4:00 pm

          Good point, this is a dopey bill.

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      • Tim February 4, 2011 at 12:32 pm

        Isn’t wearing a blue tooth headphone for hands free cell use the same as wearing headphones?

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        • Paul Johnson February 5, 2011 at 9:39 am

          Yes, they block your hearing. Not that you should be making *any* phone call while driving.

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  • Matt Haughey January 12, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I wonder if the first bill is really about carrying people younger than 6 on your actual bike (which would rule out longtails, kid seats) which would make trailers still ok? I’m just reading the text “unlawful passengers ON A BICYCLE” literally there though.

    I’m not surprised on the headphones law, it’s illegal in California, where I used to ride (for both cars and bikes), and I was actually surprised it was technically legal (though often frowned upon) in Oregon. I never wear headphones in city riding, only on long lonely training rides on low-traffic roads where I’m likely to only see 1 car per hour.

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    • Paul Souders January 12, 2011 at 2:39 pm

      Sadly, the text of HB 2228 is crystal-clear:

      “Prohibits person from carrying child under six years of age on bicycle or in bicycle trailer”

      When I first read this, I thought there must be some misunderstanding; the bill is so idiotic on the face of it. What six-year old kid isn’t riding his/her OWN bike?

      I wanted to extend Greenlick the benefit of the doubt, but wow… just, wow…

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  • Shetha January 12, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    hmmm – I’m tempted to let my 4 yr old bike on his own, then. He probably knows more rules of the road than some drivers.

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  • spare_wheel January 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    “Riding with headphones blaring is definitely not a great idea”

    The fact that this kind of law is targeted solely at cycling is sad. And if this is so “cut and dried” should we also ban people who have hearing impairments from riding? Moreover, riding with an earbud in one ear is clearly not a significant safety concern.

    I just sent Mitch Greenlick an email to express my dismay at this one-sided and unecessary law.

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  • Lance P January 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Both of these sound crazy. Anybody ever heard of bluetooth?

    Also, with all of the bikes and stores dedicated to family transportation, (clever cycles, joe bike, …) this seems to be the opposite direction to move. I am blown away that this has been introduced by Mitch Greenlick. He does know that the people that this is effecting are the same people that voted for him. He should be ashamed. And yes, get him to a Kidical Mass ride QUICK!

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  • Chris Smith January 12, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I tend to listen to spoken word podcasts (yes, I’m a policy nerd) while riding and walking. Since stereo doesn’t matter I only put a bud in one ear, and don’t feel like I have any trouble hearing what’s going on around me.

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    • John Watson January 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm

      I do the same, with both ears in, and I have no trouble whatsoever hearing the traffic around me. These are NOT in-ear noise-cancelling earphones…I hear everything around me just fine.

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  • KR January 12, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I would urge people to call Representative Greenlick Capitol Phone: 503-986-1433 and urge him to amend House Bill 2228. I called and the person who takes calls on this issue is out sick today, but for reference tomorrow, his name is Justin.

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  • Joe Rowe January 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Call his office. 503-986-1433. I asked for a statement and Hariet attempted to argue with me that the law is not yet in committee and they won’t issue a statement. I said that I don’t care if the law is yet in committee. At that point she hung up on me. Now that’s our democratic leadership for you.

    She had attempted to argue that I was not in his district. As if that matters.

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  • spare_wheel January 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    ooops the correct representative and email is:

    Michael Schaufler

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  • rider January 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    No problem, I’ll just bunny hop it.

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  • Sean G January 12, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    I really don’t understand either of these laws. If you can’t haul children under six in those trailers, why even have one of those things? Isn’t that what they are for, carting around children? What happens to those car-free families with children? They just can’t take their bikes anywhere?

    And if they’re going to ban headphones for people on bikes, are they going to ban stereos inside cars? I keep my headphones at a very moderate level (like others, I can hear conversation over the recording) and very often I can hear the music from passing cars over the sound of my headphones. I’m pretty sure no matter how loud my mp3 player is set, I can hear more ambient/outside noises than a majority of drives. My car isn’t anything fancy, but it does a good job of soundproofing… if someone walked up to my rolled-up window and spoke in a conversational tone (even if I had my stereo off) there’s very little chance I’d be able to make out anything they said.

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  • mikeybikey January 12, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    I think the headphone ban is short-sighted and maybe even a little bit disingenuous to talk about in the context of safety when you consider that it would do absolutely zero to make the roads safer for those of us who already don’t do this. Also, cars have radios and other designed-in sound barriers. (sirens are so loud for a reason eh?). If we’re going to say “yes! bicycle safety is an issue for the legislature to look at”, then we need to start with the things that are universal, like engineering requirements, vulnerable road user laws, education, and strict liability. This kind of stuff is really just legislative bullying.

    The same and more applies to the child ban. Does nothing to make those who don’t do it safer. Infringes on the rights of the people that do it. Legislative bullying.

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  • Joe Rowe January 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    OMG. Please call Mitch’s Office. I just called them and said I’d like a statement on the kids on parent’s bike ban. They said the would not talk to me and that I had to call Lew Frederic, my North Portland Rep.

    503-986-1433. Oregon House Rep Mitch Greenlick, has proposed a law that kids 6 and under can’t be on bikes, cargo bikes and trailers with parent driving.

    Want to be abused on the phone, call his office.

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  • Elliot January 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Let’s pass a law that requires all cars sold in the state to have no stereo system and no windshield/windows. People who already have cars with a windshield/windows must drive with all windows rolled down, and can’t use their stereo. They need to be able to hear what’s going on around them in order to operate their vehicle safely.

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    • Paul January 12, 2011 at 2:08 pm


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    • Opus the Poet January 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      Makes as much sense as banning headphones on cyclists.

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  • David Haines January 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Why would Rep Greenlick want to reduce family mobility in Oregon? Let’s find out:

    Maybe he’s of the mistaken view that his constituents don’t use bicycles for transportation, or that they all have (or even want to have) an automobile.

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    • Alistair January 12, 2011 at 2:38 pm

      I just dropped him a pretty friendly but completely stunned email. Bizarre, it’s like something slipped through the space time continuum. Effectively its a 5 year punitive ban on young family biking. Wow.

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    • q`Tzal January 12, 2011 at 9:48 pm

      I dropped him a rather polite email suggesting he set up an interview with JM to justify his bill to the cycling public.

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  • rodney January 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    As a family cyclist, I would be most concerned with HB 2228. Here in FL, the statutes already prohibit the wearing of head/earphones while operating a bike. I presume a Bluetooth device would be lumped under the same.

    It’s a shame to see how we want equality as road operators, but also want laws that are lenient or lax towards cyclists as compared to other mode operators. ( I saw something some where….Same road, Same Rules…)

    Many laws could be done away with if common sense weren’t extinct. The laws on the books are there to protect us from ourselves, what a shame.

    I’ve seen boneheads on bikes here in FL texting, talking on cell phones, using head/earphones, and operating without hands on the handlebars. All No-No’s according to our present day statutes. Just another law that will rarely, if ever, get enforced.

    I’d focus my energies on defeating HB 2228, if I were in Oregon. My kids have SOOO much FUN riding in their trailer and/or trail-a bike going to the parks and fishing. Don’t let the fun get ruined for them! My best to you in this matter.

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  • eli bishop January 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    boo! might as well fine everyone for wearing earphones in public, like joggers or pedestrians crossing the street. they might get hurt!

    have there even been any cases in oregon where a bicyclist was injured and wearing earphones? does there really need to be a legislative remedy here?

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  • Andrew Plambeck January 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Rep. Schaufler’s Salem office number:


    That’s where he and his staff will be today.

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  • Nathan January 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Has the Oregon legislature declared war on me personally? Is the next bill going to outlaw eating donuts while named Nathan?

    With any luck, the headphones bill is too silly and targeted to get out of committee. But if the legislature makes it illegal to transport my children by bicycle, I’ll be looking for work in one of the 49 states where it’s still legal to do so.

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  • Paul January 12, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Under six years? This is the most community-unfriendly proposal I’ve ever heard. This will never pass.

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  • Dutch January 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Im generally not for rules limiting cyclists, but I would like to point out that on the one hand, if we are asking for different treatment on the road, like idaho stops and what not, due to the fact that we have increased situational awareness over a car, that we cannot argue out of the other side of our mouth that its ok for us to wear headphones.

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  • eli bishop January 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    maybe Mitch Greenlick needs to read “When can you put your baby on your bike?”

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  • Ron January 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm


    I rarely use earbuds while riding, but just because I enjoy using all of my senses while I ride, not because I think it’s dangerous. The few times I have used them, I find I can still hear things as loud as a car, though more pleasant sounds like birds are lost. As others have noted, it certainly isn’t as much of a sound impediment as rolling up the windows of a car.

    I also fail to see the danger. Things approaching from outside my field of vision–from behind–have the responsibility of avoiding me. I don’t think I’ve ever taken evasive action because I heard a car coming, and I certainly wouldn’t veer into a traffic lane just because I didn’t hear a car. On the road, or on multi-use paths, you should always ride as though someone’s about to pass you–look before you swerve, earbuds or not.

    When actual danger exists, it would be hard to exclude the really important sounds, like screeching tires, horns or sirens. This is such a non-issue, it really strikes me as another instance of drivers voicing nit-picky resentment over having to share the road with stop-sign-running, dark-clothes-wearing, no-gas-tax-paying, Ipod-loving, spandex-wearing, etc., deadbeats.
    Happy Trails,
    Ron Georg

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  • zed January 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I wear a single right side ear bud with the left ear to the road & my environment. Perhaps something akin to Airdrives headphones so you can still hear ambient noise around you? At any rate, I should be able to choose because there are a lot of variables with headphones.

    (& i see this giving more fuel for cyclist harassment by Portland Police.)

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  • wsbob January 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Greenlick’s HB 2228 isn’t even close yet to becoming law. Take a look at Joe Rowe learned when he called Greenlick’s office:

    “…I asked for a statement and Hariet attempted to argue with me that the law is not yet in committee and they won’t issue a statement. …” Joe Rowe January 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    In his story, maus provided a link to the text of what exists of the bill at this point. Take a look at the following introduction to the text of the bill:

    “… SUMMARY

    The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the measure and is not a part of the body thereof subject to
    consideration by the Legislative Assembly. It is an editor’s brief statement of the essential features of the measure as introduced. …” House Bill 2228 Sponsored by Representative GREENLICK (Presession filed.)
    76th OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY–2011 Regular Session

    Call Greelick’s office and calmly, clearly, let them know your ideas about transporting young children on bikes and in bike towed trailers, but give these people a chance to consider different aspects of the proposal for what could be an actual, viable law, before jumping to conclusions that it’s a done deal.

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    • Joe Rowe January 12, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      It’s insane to suggest a ban of babies on baby seats, trailers, and cargo bikes.. The fact that Greenlick has done this proves he’s not fit for office. He’s putting the bike community on the defensive by trying to frame the dialog. He’s a bully.

      Is the bike community going to live on it’s knees as it has for so long?

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      • wsbob January 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm

        “… It’s insane to suggest a ban of babies on baby seats, trailers, and cargo bikes.. …” Joe Rowe

        Which of course, Greenlick has not done, because as I noted in my comment above, what Greenlick has done at this point in the process of moving towards some form of the present bill proposal text that could possibly become a law striving to achieve a higher degree of safety for young children traveling by bike, is merely introduce a subject for discussion by a legislative committee.

        By the way, Maus…or Rowe, since you did call Greenlick’s office, perhaps you know what committee might that be? Noting that information in a comment to this thread would be helpful to readers.

        Once the current stage of the bill proposal text..(which all bikeportland readers can check out for themselves, by simply clicking on the link your faithful blogger Maus has provided in his story above)…is brought up for discussion in committee, they will take a look at it and figure out what about the idea is good…bad…what might need to be added, removed, changed, etc., etc., etc., to make it work as a viable proposal for law. Or…whether it should be tossed out entirely, which does happen.

        If it were to be voted on in it’s current form, I doubt this bill would have a ghost of a chance of meeting House, Senate, and the Governor’s approval.

        Personally, I do hope something can be done to make transporting kids by bike and bike trailer more safe. It can’t help thinking that the relatively low profile bike trailers (compared to the height of the upright parent riding the bike.) are somehow not conspicuously visible to traffic, especially traffic approaching from behind.

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        • Nathan January 12, 2011 at 4:59 pm

          wsbob, while I appreciate your level-headed comments, I have to disagree with your response to Joe Rowe above. Proposing a ban on transporting children by bicycle is precisely what Rep. Greenlick has done. It’s unlikely the bill will pass in it’s present form and it’s even possible that Greenlick himself wouldn’t vote for it, and only wants to open a discussion. But the fact remains that he has submitted a bill to prohibit the use of bicycles to transport children under 6. I think that’s reckless.

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          • wsbob January 13, 2011 at 1:07 am

            “… But the fact remains that he has submitted a bill to prohibit the use of bicycles to transport children under 6. I think that’s reckless. …” Nathan

            Nathan, avoiding traps in the subtleties of language is sometimes difficult, but I’ll cut to the task, and stand by saying that Rep. Greenlick’s intention with the current bill proposal is not to ban people from transporting kids by bike or bike trailer. If…as it currently reads…the proposal were to become law, it would effectively ban that kind of transportation. I doubt very much though, that this is his intention.

            By now, I’ve read Greenlick’s comments by way of his interview with Maus, so I’m more certain this is true. I’m a little uneasy though, that Rep Greenlick would sponsor a bill proposal that seems to have been written in such an ‘off the cuff’ way. I’m being a little facetious here, but it’s as though he got a phone call from one of his most impassioned constituents…

            ‘Mr. Greelick, I voted for you!…Can’t you do something to get those god blessed people and their babies in bike trailers off the road? I’m so scared I’ll be the unlucky one to not see them one day, and run into them with tragic consequences!! ‘.

            …and impulsively decided to himself…’Other people have been mentioning this very same subject to me…we’ve just got to try bring this up for discussion in the next legislative session.’

            I don’t think it’s reckless to have a discussion on bike and bike trailer safety for kids starting out with this proposal, but I think Rep Greenlick could have made better use of the public’s and Oregon’s meager legislative session time (Oregon’s legislature only meets every other year), by starting out the discussion by sponsoring a more realistic, practical bill proposal.

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    • Alistair January 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      Your advice is good – and I dropped them an email. I was sent spinning not by fear it would become law – it tremendously unlikely – but by the fact that there are NW Portland state representatives that could want such a thing to be law.

      Cheers, Alistair

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    • Nathan January 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      wsbob, that summary disclaimer refers only to the brief summary of the bill. The summary reads, “Prohibits person from carrying child under six years of age on bicycle or in bicycle trailer. Punishes by maximum fine of $90.” The text of the bill itself was indeed submitted by the bill’s sponsor Greenlick.

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  • Paul Manson January 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Greenlick was head of a public health research shop. This maybe similar concerns to mandatory helmets and 100% risk aversion.

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  • John Lascurettes January 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I can hear ambient noise and traffic around me better with my earphones in than anyone inside a car with the windows up OR down can hear even if their radio is off.

    I suppose I can turn the volume up high enough to drown out all the surrounding sound (which I never do), but then so do people in cars all the time.

    Both of these bills are ridiculous legislation. I need to get some letters fired off as soon as I get home tonight.

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    • John Lascurettes January 12, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      Oh yeah, and my kid was on a tagalong as of 2.5 years of age and riding on his own at 3 without training wheels.

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  • tyea January 12, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Rep. Schaulfler,
    I’m 49 and have been commuting on a bicycle with headphones (ear canal style, ear buds) for about 10 years. I feel it is not a statistically proven safety hazard, and object to this legislation. Please read the below itemized list comments I have taken time to express.

    Traffic noise isolation is wonderful for an urban commuting cyclist. Without noise isolating headphones it is liking driving with the windows down–noisy. Car horns and emergency vehicle sirens can clearly be heard even with noise isolating headphones/earphones transmitting loud volume sound–much like a vehicle driver with windows up and stereo/radio on loud.

    Cycling safety is primarily achieved by obeying traffic laws, and being visually alert. If a cyclist is depending upon the sound of an engine and tire road noise behind them for impending danger they are an accident waiting to happen. There is wind noise in the ears and large speed differentials that make the argument of depending on hearing for safety quite weak.

    Hands free phone calls while driving are legal, and they should be for cycling too. If a cyclists feels a phone conversation is severely distracting them, it is much easier for them to pull over and complete their conversation, compared to an automobile driver. A distracted cyclist is much less likely to harm someone, compared to a distracted motorist. Cyclist’s in general are much more attuned to their vulnerability than motorists are, because cyclists are out in the elements, and are constantly reminded by motor vehicles that cyclists are the little people of the road. I can speak from experience that the vulnerability description is also the same for motorcyclists.
    Like many people who listen to the radio in the car, I like to listen to podcasts and the radio while commuting on my bicycle. It is my chance to catch the news and learn things from an audio format. This proposed bill would take that opportunity away from me, and I resent that; especially, since the statistical safety information is not even close to conclusive that House Bill 2602 would make a statistically significant difference in safety.

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    • Allan January 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      “If a cyclists feels a phone conversation is severely distracting them, it is much easier for them to pull over and complete their conversation, compared to an automobile driver.”

      The driver can easily pull over into the bike lane as I we have all seen many times

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  • Ely January 12, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    joggers with headphones are way more annoying than bicyclists with headphones.

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  • Trout January 12, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Let’s focus on slowing traffic and creating safer streets to protect kid instead of locking them up in an cars until their 6.

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  • Joe Rowe January 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Call or don’t call. But I feel anyone who proposes a ban of kids under 7 on a baby seat, trailer or cargo bike is not fit for office. He’s trying to provoke the bike community. He’s wasting time in Salem when schools and human services are being cut.

    503-986-1433 Rep Greenlick, the bike baby ban lawmaker. Not green, not lik minded.

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  • BURR January 12, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Both of these bills are part of the anti-cyclist ‘backlash’ and should be soundly ridiculed and rejected.

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  • Mike B. January 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    What about expecting mothers that ride a bike? This is just silly in my opinion, total waist of time. The headphones is a different story, but one that should probably not be touched as well. I used to ride with earbuds all the time, and don’t anymore by choice. To say it’s not distracting to ride with them is totally wrong, but to make it unlawful might be a bit excessive.

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    • Joe Rowe January 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm

      Rep Greenlick reminds me of lawmakers who restrict abortion with 24 waiting periods. Forced homework etc. They say they are not anti-woman, just like GreenLick me wills say he’s not “anti-bike”.

      This HR2228 needs to be in the Onion. I can put my 7 year old daughter in a trailer, but not my 6 year old daughter. It sounds like that Onion story where women had to paint the baby room before they could get an abortion.

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  • APS January 12, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Glad my youngest just turned 6; since kids don’t really fit into trailers much past age 6, would this kill the market for trailers in OR?

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  • John Lascurettes January 12, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    So let’s look at some facts here:

    – No one is going to propose making it illegal to have a radio in one’s car

    – It’s legal in OR to have a speaker system in one’s helmet for the purposes of phone calls and radio listening.

    – in both cases, both car/truck operators and motorcycle operators are at a greater aural impairment than a rider on bicycle with earbuds on

    – in both cases, both car/truck operator and motorcycle operators can do much greater damage to others and property than a person operating a bicycle.

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  • Velowocky January 12, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I would like to point out that evidence indicates the problem is primarily distraction while driving or riding. ( and not simply whether or not one can ‘hear everything fine’.
    Hearing is definitely impaired when you a) put something in your ear canal and b) send sounds directly into your ear. I can’t understand making that decision- at any volume.
    Safety studies show that (remote) conversations are dangerous because of where our attention goes not just because there is more noise to deal with. I don’t know how many times I’ve passed a cyclist and said ‘hello’ only to find they didn’t hear me because they had ear buds in.

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  • Chris Smith January 12, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I’m in Mitch’s district and consider him a friend/political ally. I’ve had a brief e-mail interchange with him and believe he’s genuinely motivated by safety concerns. He referenced numbers that sounded a lot like the OHSU study that was recently released. I don’t think there is any anti-cyclist issue here.

    Best approach is probably to work on educating him, that’s what I’m doing.

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    • Lance P January 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      No offense intended Chris, I voted for you, but you were also friends with Jesse Cornett whom was anything but bike friendly. This house measure is wrong and he knows it.

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  • Julian January 12, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Just got an email from Greenlick’s office regarding the no kids under 6 ban.

    Puzzled by their cryptic response:

    Kidding. Platinum status revoked!

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  • Joe Rowe January 12, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I just got a call Lew Frederick, my North Portland Salem Rep. He asked me to CC him on my email to Mitch (the bike baby ban lawmaker)

    I suggest everyone email Mitch and CC their local rep.

    It adds weight if your lawmaker can confront Greenlick say they got 20 emails supporting the safety of kids under 7 in baby seats, trailers and cargo bikes.

    Find your Oregon Rep here

    Greenlick is taking shots at cyclists, and bikes need to stand up to bullies.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm


      I strongly disagree that Greenlick should be characterized as a “bully” or as being “anti-cyclist.” It’s clear that for some reason he feels this is a neccessary measure. Unfortunately he’s absolutely headed in the wrong direction. The best thing to do is respectively share your opinion with him. Thanks.

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      • mabsf January 12, 2011 at 4:13 pm

        I do feel a little bullied though – specially if it is based on lack or disinformation on Matt Greenlick’s side. I feel that he potentially impacts the way I choose to raise my son while not calling parents who expose their children to the danger of car traffic.
        And why would he propose this bill if he has not thoroughly researched it (I mean that only partly as a rethorical question!).

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      • Andrew Plambeck January 13, 2011 at 10:03 am

        I disagree with that, too. Schaufler, however is both!

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  • J.R. (Business Manager) January 12, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    I soundly reject thee.

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  • beth h January 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    There is NO such thing as 100% risk aversion.
    But banning kids on bikes and in trailers is far easier than making the streets safer for them. This is a clear example of taking the easy way out of governing if I ever saw one.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks for that comment Chris Smith. Here’s the update I just posted:

    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 it’s 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.

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  • Chad January 12, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    HB2228 just shows that frivolous, poorly-thought-out legislation knows no party boundaries. If Rep. Greenlick is trying to pick a fight, bicyclist parents are probably a bad group to pick one with.

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  • Jessica Roberts January 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Here’s what I just wrote him, in case anyone wants to use any of it:
    Dear Representative Greenlick,

    I was shocked and upset today to hear that you plan to introduce HB 2228, that would prohibit using bicycles to carry children under the age of six. My husband and I have a 1.5 year old son, and we don’t own a car. We get around as a family by bus, walking, and by bicycle. When we bicycle, we put our son in a Dutch cargo bicycle designed for transporting children, and he always wears a helmet. We take quiet side streets wherever possible, we wear visible clothing, and we pay attention and follow traffic laws. We believe that choosing the bicycle instead of the car is good for our health, improves air quality, and makes the streets safer for everyone. Your bill would force us to purchase and drive a car – something we cannot afford to do, and something we don’t believe is the best choice for our community.

    I wonder why you are not choosing to prohibit transporting children under the age of six in cars? Cars are the number one killer of children in the US (and in fact for all Americans age 1 to 35). And what do you expect families with young children to do who cannot afford a car and who live where transit and walking are not an option?

    This bill is not in the best interest of children, families, or Oregon. Please don’t introduce HB 2228.

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  • kgb January 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    The OHSU report doesn’t even have the words child or children in it. It is mostly about men in their 30s.

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    • CaptainKarma January 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm

      Anybody who participates in the traffic milieu with degraded sensory input is still operating under the 18 year old male laws of invulnerability. “It’s not going to happen to *me* and it’s *their* fault if it does” That’s our American rugged individualism and personal freedom at all costs speaking. Just because its not your fault doesn’t mean you won’t suffer brain damage, paralysis, disfgurement from an accident you could have avoided had you been paying a few percent more attention rather than chatting on the phone about BS or listening to whatever on the Ipod…..Shouldn’t have to make it a law just so people use their common sense, but then how many would wear seat belts if it weren’t a law.

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  • mabsf January 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I tried to keep Jonathan’s article from yesterday in mind and stayed really friendly…

    Dear Mr Greenlick,
    I am very interested in your thoughts behind your House Bill proposal 2228

    As a biking mom, a bicycle advocate and a purveyor of family transport bikes I am baffled by your proposal and I hope it is due to a lack of information. If you are interested or have any questions about family cycling, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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  • Dolan Halbrook January 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    As much as HB 2228 should be stillborn, I sadly forsee plenty of support from the bubble-wrap crowd. Clearly the only answer is airbags in the sidewalks.

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  • amber stromsness January 12, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    If there are concerns about under 6 child safety, why not pass something requiring 5 pt harnesses, flags or flashing turn signals on trailers…something that increases safety. I’m sure the biking community could be gathered and consulted before rash decisions are made by someone who (I presume) doesn’t regularly bike or have young children.

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  • pfarthing6 January 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    …and maybe there should be a law against crossing the street without looking both ways? Or how about a law against walking with your shoes untied? Or what about a law against long hair, it might get in your eyes and then you could crash?

    I got a great one. How about a law against MAKING MORE LAWS that basically assume people are too stupid to make good decisions ahout what is safe for themselves and their kids.

    Don’t support the Nanny State, no matter how reasonable it sounds.

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  • El Biciclero January 12, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    I couldn’t care less about ear buds in comparison to the potential gross abuse of law that would be HB 2228.

    I have to believe that Todd Boulanger is correct that 6 years is a typo, and what was really meant was 6 months of age. Otherwise, this bill will:

    – Create undue hardship for car-free families with children in the target age group.
    – Kill the “family biking” industry and economy
    – Effectively make child bike seats illegal in Oregon
    – Create a secondary safety question of whether a 3- to 5-year-old child is safer riding their own bike or riding in Mom or Dad’s child seat or trailer, leading to possible bans on child cycling altogether
    – Give anti-cycling curmudgeons yet more ammunition to justify vilifying cyclists because it will send the message that “cycling is dangerous”
    – Contribute to parental obesity by forcing parents to drive everywhere they needed to transport their child
    – Potentially create obese children, who would be deprived of any tangible example of active bicycle transportation and grow up believing that motor transport is the only safe way to get around, when in fact it is one of the most dangerous
    – Any number of other negative and demoralizing effects.

    Is this potential bill based on any supportable facts? Have statistics shown that children are being maimed and killed from riding on parents’ bikes? Or, is this a reactionary attempt to keep children “safe” in light of the increasing lawlessness and carelessness of motorists? If the former, then aren’t there several other, more dangerous things we should outlaw (e.g., household chemicals, swimming pools, plastic bags, electrical outlets, stairs, etc.)? If the latter, then what we need to do is Enforce Existing Traffic Laws. Put the burden of safety on those who create the danger.

    I’m not going to worry too much about it, but if the current wording (6 years!!) of this bill is correct, and it becomes law, I fear I will be paying my potential $14,000.00-$23,000.00 annual child-carrying fee (90 per day, 3-5 days per week, assuming I get cited every day).

    Just imagining this as an actual law makes me too angry for civil words.

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    • John Lascurettes January 12, 2011 at 7:16 pm

      6 years old is not a typo. See Jonathan’s follow article and interview with the representative.

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  • Whyat January 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Headphones have a much better chance of drowning out background sounds like sirens and car horns. They tend to block out more of these sounds than a car stereo system does. That why most states have laws banning drivers from driving with headphones, but no laws banning car stereos. Not saying it’s right or wrong- that’s just how the current logic goes.

    Personally I have seen a ton of headphone wearing bikers in PDX that are clearly in another world. Would a ban fix that? Probably not. Losers are losers, and if you’re too inconsiderate to turn down your music to reasonable levels, or just pay attention in general, I can’t imagine a law is going to fix that.

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  • Sean G January 12, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I imagine if these laws are passed, we should expect bans on the deaf riding bikes, and children under six being allowed to use public sidewalks or crosswalks with their parents.

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  • Jim Lee January 12, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I disagree with my friends Ayleen and Chris.

    Driving and riding both are sufficiently difficult to mandate minimal distraction. The human sensorium has a finite input capacity, and all of that is none too much to dedicate to the crucial tasks of cycling and motoring all the time.

    Cycling is much the more difficult of the two, but even a simple radio in a car is counterproductive, whether it is NPR or Rush Limbaugh. There is a whole REAL world out there people, and we all are better off for giving it our undivided attention.

    Multitasking sucks: ask my good friend Jack Mozart!

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    • tyea January 13, 2011 at 5:54 pm

      Try riding a bicycle over the 205 bridge or underneath the Morrison Bridge on the East Esplanade. It is so noisy you have to shout to someone two feet away from you for them to hear you. That is sensory input I do not want. There are plenty of sensual visual distractions around the city. Sensory overload can happen multiple ways and vehicle operators need to be skilled or trained to filter out what is needed to operate their vehicle safely. The argument that all the senses need to be at 100% to operate a vehicle safely is going to result in some very boring commutes and jobs. Why don’t we wait till there is a statistically significant problem related to the headphone issue before jumping to conclusions about what should be legislated for safety reasons.

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  • Julian January 12, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Hah. My 8yo humor comment is published, but wearing-pediatrician-hat comment is moderated. I’ll try again:

    As a pediatrician and father of 2 kids under 6 that get carried on pretty much every kind of bikey conveyance, I am familiar with the literature on carrying young kids by bike.

    It’s hardly the sort of data to base legislation upon – almost entirely without “denominator” information (not enough to know how many injuries – you need to know over how many trips). Mostly ER data: descriptive series of patterns of injuries in child seats, trailers, etc. Not sturdy stuff, as far as public health epidemiology goes.

    As for using the recent OHSU data, I hope that’s not true. My kids aren’t commuters in their 30s.

    So if Greenlick has reliable research to share with us, I’m all ears.

    But since bus travel is 10 times safer than driving, can we expect a follow-up bill requiring young families to take transit?

    This is either a typo (under 6 months? slightly more rational but I’d still fight it), or a completely dunderheaded “injury-free-childhood zealot” move. If it’s a typo, I’d have expected a correction from his office by now.

    Oh well, I’m bringing my kids down to Portland this week anyway, on bikes/Amtrak. While it’s still legal.

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  • Anne Hawley January 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I suppose I *could* manage without audiobooks on my daily commute (which, by the way, I listen to only with one ear, same as Chris Smith–hi Chris), but the minute Google Maps on the Android platform supports voice navigation on the Bike Layer, I’m sorry–I will be using it, and using it via an earphone.

    What the heck, man? I need GPS because I’m extremely directionally challenged. Does this guy want me *looking* at my phone every few blocks?

    Lame, lame, lame.

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  • Tim January 12, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    It’s just as easy to comment here as it is to email Mitch Greenlick and your own state rep.


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  • Evan January 12, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    So does this mean people would not be able to put a kid in a pedicab, and they’d have to ride their own bike alongside instead?

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  • Meilin January 12, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    What about the children? WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN??


    I thought for sure this was some bike-hater from outside the valley. That this guy is from Portland? Boggles the mind.

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    • Tim January 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm

      Don’t forget, DEMOCRAT

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  • John I. January 12, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Is it illegal for a deaf person to ride a bike?

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  • h January 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Since he is in medical profession, that is not surprising. Years ago i broke my legs while legally walking the intersection. I had walk sign on my side. Anyway, nurses said it would be safer if I drive or ride in a car. I did not take advice from them because I would get fat for not doing anything. Obesity is the big medical problem in children right now because of lack of execrise and poor diet. I think it is great for kids to get exposed with bicycling and other physical activities. There are always a bit of dangers everywhere anyway. Let’s focus on improving our economy and livability instead…

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    • h January 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm

      i meant I got hit by a car and broke my leg while…

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 12, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Thanks for the comments everyone. I had a phone conversation with Rep. Greenlick and I’ve just posted a follow-up story with more from his perspective.

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  • Joe January 12, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    slow cars down, better law..

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  • q`Tzal January 12, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    wsbob, Proposing a ban on transporting children by bicycle is precisely what Rep. Greenlick has done.

    This is precisely the verbal framing issue we fought with the WebTrends “Should cyclists pay road taxes?” debacle.

    As an elected official there is some assumption of professionality.
    With the assumption of professionality we should be able to further assume that their bills forwarded for public record and consideration will actually be composed with some sort of rational thought, not rhetorical fear mongering.

    Any assumption of anything not known in this case is poor judgment.
    Any assumption of the rationality of Rep. Greenlick is also poor judgment.

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    • wsbob January 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      “…This is precisely the verbal framing issue we fought with the WebTrends “Should cyclists pay road taxes?” debacle. …” q`Tzal

      “… verbal framing issue …”. I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that phrase relative to the bill proposal Greenlick sponsored. Are you comparing substance between WebTrend’s question and the bill proposal? Reasoning for the two issues being approached? Need for what each proposal seeks to accomplish?

      This particular thread may be falling below new threads fairly quickly, but I’ll try to check back, if you want to think about and answer any of those questions.

      WebTrends question never even made it into a bill proposal to be sponsored by anyone from the Oregon Legislature.

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      • Alan January 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm

        See _Don’t Think of an Elephant_ by George Lakoff. (If you’re going to buy it, use BikePortland’s link.)

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  • MW January 13, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Dear Sir,

    Political discussions are a necessary part of our civil institutions, however I respectfully request you exhibit more idealism when you propose transportation legislation. HB 2228 threatens the safety of my future children, because, rather than addressing the very real risks they will face, it wastes precious public time. You have fostered a discussion, so now we discuss banning victimhood [cyclists killed by motorists] rather than enforcing DUI laws; or raising gas taxes, or promoting farmers markets, building more sustainable communities (-obesity, obesity, obesity.)

    We do not have time to waste on your regressive un-idealism. The abolition of slavery was successful because it was fundamentally just. The car-centered world you accept one day too will fade into history. I am disappointed that you are on the wrong side of history.


    Matthew W. , NE Portland

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  • John Landolfe January 13, 2011 at 9:17 am

    I unequivocally oppose this headphone law. I’m writing Mitch and advise others do the same. Management of our roadways should come out of concrete evidence, not Mr. Greenlick’s gut reaction when he sees a person on a bike wearing headphones. Loud noises, such as air brakes and horns can be dangerously disorienting to a bicyclist and ambient urban noise has been proven to cause permanent hearing damage. The very good point other users have cited is that there is no law requiring other road users be able to hear anything outside their own vehicle. One can carry on a conversation, listen to loud music or talk radio, or make a hands-free call.

    How about a law that transportation laws and management must be justified by science?

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  • hbmcg January 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Thank goodness, bikes are dangerous. Hopefully we can work towards helmets in cars. I hear lots of people get hurt in car accidents……

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  • Barbara January 13, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    I wonder when we will start having a law that forbids transporting children under 6 in cars? Because the number one reason children die, is in car accidents while they are sitting IN the car!! If a law like that sounds ridiculous the Greenlick’s law suggestion should be even more so.

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  • Barry April 22, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    For once, I’m taking a conservative view towards a political issue.
    Get your law out of my life.
    I’m not an idiot about bike safety, and I want my children to have the opportunity to share the passion and joy that comes with riding a bicycle, even if it means they’re on a trailer.
    Keep your laws in the realm of sensibility and maybe I’ll obey them.
    For now we’ll just have to draw a mustache on my 5 year old.

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