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Rep. Greenlick says safety concerns prompted child biking bill

Posted by on January 12th, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Rep. Mitch Greenlick

Representative Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) says that his concern for the safety of children is behind House Bill 2228. The bill, which would make it illegal to carry a child of six years or younger on the back of a bike or in a trailer, has quickly caused an outcry among people throughout Oregon and the country.

Reached by telephone at his district office a few minutes ago, the 76-year old legislator prefaced his response to my questions by reminding me that he’s a professor of public health at the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) – the same institution that published a bike commuter injury study in November that Greenlick says prompted him to introduce the bill.

“Everybody should just stay calm, this is part of a deliberative process.”

“We’ve just done a study showing that 30 percent of riders biking to work at least three days a week have some sort of crash that leads to an injury… When that’s going on out there, what happens when you have a four year old on the back of a bike? From a precautionary principle, I felt it was important to discuss the issue and start a debate.” (Greenlick said he was particularly surprised to find that the study results were based on “serious riders” and not just novices. Please note: That study was widely misinterpreted due to how it defined injury. See a good analysis of it by Mia Birk.)

Kidical Mass!-12.jpg

Unsafe?

Greenlick has certainly started a debate. Many people have emailed and called his office with their concern that his bill isn’t necessary and that it would be a major step backwards in Oregon’s quest to be the most bike-friendly state in the U.S. Greenlick maintains that he is simply trying to start a discussion. To back up his hunch about safety, he says his office is already looking into studies that might support the idea of the bill. They haven’t found any yet.

When asked if it might be wiser to find such evidence and then introduce a bill, he said, “Because this is just how the process works.” Greenlick acknowledged that he’s heard a lot of feedback from Oregonians concerned about the bill. “Everybody should just stay calm,” he urged, “this is part of a deliberative process.”

“If it’s true that it’s unsafe, we have an obligation to protect people. If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?”

In backing up his safety concerns, Greenlick told the story about how when his kids were young — back in the 1950s — he would drive them around in the back of his car without seatbelts on. “I now look back and realize that’s not safe. If we find that carrying kids on the back of a bike isn’t safe, I would think that people would agree we need to do something about it.”

I mentioned to Greenlick that the OHSU study found that the main cause of reported injuries were environmental factors (like potholes and other road condition variables) and not motor vehicle collisions or rider error. He said he’d also support legislation that looks into those issues as well (he has not proposed any such measures, nor has anyone else).

Greenlick said he’s aware of the statistical evidence showing that as more people ride bikes, the crash rate goes down and the streets become safer. When I asked him if he’s concerned then, about the impact his bill could have on ridership he said, “I don’t think it will discourage people from biking.”

I explained to Greenlick that many people will choose to drive (if they even have that option) and not bike when faced with a potential ticket for carrying their young child on their bike. He didn’t address that concern directly, but he did say that if they do find out that the practice of carrying and/or pulling a child by bike is “unsafe” than he feels it’s the right thing to protect people from it.

“If it’s true that it’s unsafe, we have an obligation to protect people. If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?”

Rep. Greenlick has decided that the way to open a debate on an issue is to propose a new law. We have seen this repeatedly backfire in Oregon. In July of 2008, Senator Floyd Prozanski — out of a concern for safety after a friend of his was hit and killed while bicycling — planned a mandatory, all-ages helmet law. After hearing a lot negative feedback about that idea, he wisely pulled the idea out of consideration. In March 2009, Representative Wayne Krieger proposed a mandatory bicycle registration bill. After hundreds of upset emails and phone calls came into his office, the bill ended up dying in committee.

Judging from my conversation with Rep. Greenlick tonight, it’s clear he feels his concerns have enough merit to warrant a debate. Hopefully, we all learn something once this over and the result is safer bicycling for everyone.

In the meantime, please contact Rep. Greenlick and express your thoughts on this issue. His email is rep.mitchgreenlick[at]state[dot]or[dot]us and his district phone number is (503) 297-2416.

UPDATE: Rep. Ben Cannon has posted a comment I think everyone should read.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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kj
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kj

Wow, I am disappointed a professor from a prestigious university wouldn’t propose a study on biking with children before proposing a law against it…

KJ
Guest
KJ

After I biked home and thought about this some more I wanted to add some points as to why. It’s one thing to make a statement.
I realize the Dr. probably sees this as being proactive, but it’s not. It’s reactive. It’s an emotional response to something that is as of right now only something he can call a perceived threat. This is what creates moral panics.
The OHSU study, irc, was on commuting adults. That data sets collected did not include sets that would be useful in analyzing risks associated with carrying children.
If I were to propose a study on child safety as passive riders under the age of 6, I’d want to see the following:
a mixed pool of solo adult commuters/errands solo adult sports/recreation with type of bike recorded and w/wo trailers, family sets with age breakdowns, # of occupants on bike with recorded method of child transport both commute/errand and sports/rec. recording all the same data as the trauma study and exactly what the reported injuries were and to which age cohorts.
But I would also want to have the following answered:
How do people ride solo vs with child passengers, is there an appreciable difference in riding style and decision making?
Do auto drivers behave appreciably differently around people biking solo or with children?

Another major issue I see here is not just family biking, but how it will affect ridership in general. If we need to get more women on bikes, and women are the most risk adverse group and they are the bellwether group for getting bicycling numbers to take off… well what a way to shoot that in the foot. Like it or not women are still the primary care givers and need to get their children around. You want more women on bikes, you need biking to be family friendly. Period.

And as many have already said, if you apply this ‘logic’ to children and cars, children should be banned from being in cars or near them until the age of like 25. We have just internalized that cost as collateral damage of how our society functions.
The OHSU study kind of showed the same illogical public response. You are more likely to be injured or killed in a car, but biking is somehow unsafe. The disconnect is something some of us see, but many people don’t. I think that is also largely because bicycling is still seen, by most Americans, as optional, extra, elitist, recreational and impractical on top of being unsafe.

Ok I know that’s a tl:dr and I need to actually write the man, but I feel better. and prefer to write him after reading others responses and seeing how this plays out over the next few days. We are all feeling a little reactionary, and I want to be logical.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

This guy is crazy. If he really cared about safety he should have gone to the BTA and asked them how he might help improve laws that would help keep bikes safe.

This guy is to bike safety what anti-choice nuts are to women’s rights. He says he’s pro safety, they say they are pro life.

Paul Tay
Guest
Paul Tay

Kids die every year, every day, while being shuttled around town in motor vehicles. Solution? Ban them from being transported in bike trailers. Problem S.O.L.V.E.D. Professor Greenlick, you, sir, are a certifiable G.E.N.I.U.S.

Jimbo
Guest
Jimbo

“If it’s true that it’s unsafe, we have an obligation to protect people. If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?”

Based on that statement, shouldn’t we ban cars, alcohol, guns and corn syrup?

kww
Guest
kww

Jimbo is 1000% on the mark. Someone ought to send this genius to Amsterdam or Copenhagen or Taipei, where there are sometimes 2 child and a mother on a bicycle. I bet if he did a study, he would find infant mortality rates are below those of children in cars.

Sean G
Guest

Exactly. How has this Representative not proposed this omnibus ban already, if he’s so concerned about anything that might possibly save one child’s life.

Sad to see Portland representatives getting in some pre-emptive hippie punching as they get the session started.

John Russell (jr98664)
Guest

“If it’s true that it’s unsafe, we have an obligation to protect people. If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?”

No, I wouldn’t.

valkraider
Guest
valkraider

Jimbo
“If it’s true that it’s unsafe, we have an obligation to protect people. If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?”
Based on that statement, shouldn’t we ban cars, alcohol, guns and corn syrup?

CDC: 10 leading causes of injury death by age group

Murder and assault are already illegal (and look how successful those laws are…)

Apparently, we should also ban:
1. Water
2. Motor Vehicle Traffic
3. Fire
4. Heights (anything tall enough to fall from)
5. Walking

Allison
Guest
Allison

I still don’t understand what Representative Greenlick expects me to do with my child, if I can’t put him on my bike. Leave him at home? Never leave the house? Purchase a car? If this bill isn’t anti-family, then it’s anti-woman. It’s certainly anti-bike and pro-car.

As a public health expert, you’d think he’d focus on what we *have* established as being unhealthy – air pollution and sedentary kids.

You want to make kids safer? Ban cars!

h
Guest
h

Agreed!

Steve B
Guest

Well said, Allison!

April
Guest

This sums up my thoughts.

Heather
Guest
Heather

I feel the same way. This is the same man who introduced some recent midwife licensing legislation in the name of “safety.” Maybe he has a thing against women.

Does anyone know where I might find data and the percentage of cyclists/ bike commuter women vs men?

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Yes.
We are supposed to grow up and buy a car like a real American.

h
Guest
h

Our economy is in trouble. Go and work to fix it. That is we ARE expecting our legislators to do now. Thank you.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

In my email to Greenlick I noted he should focus on the budget. He’s wasting his time, our time, and spreading hatred of bikes.

Please, send email to him and cc your PDX house rep. Kotek, Cannon, Frederick, etc.

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

This is absurd. I’m glad I took the time to email him (as a former constituent; I moved a few monts ago) and tell him that cars are the problem, not the joyful experience of traveling under your own power and carrying your kids, cargo, whatever with you.

The OHSU study doesn’t have any direct applicability to family cycling, since its population is either mostly or entirely distinct (I don’t know if they excluded adults carrying children, but there’s a mention that all subjects had to be over 18). Furthermore, the subtitle is “It is time to focus on the environment”, so the study authors (and their statistics, as you pointed out to him) support the conclusion that it’s the environment that needs improvement more than human behavior.

A public health scientist should know better than to try to support a bill using a study whose population isn’t relevant and whose conclusion is opposite to the method of “safety” in the bill. It’s also frankly idiotic to even imagine it won’t deter people from cycling, when there are known family cyclists with young children out there. I’m disappointed in Rep. Greenlick for trying to smokescreen his poor reasoning on this issue.

Let’s hope it dies a flaming death before it even gets to committee.

Chris
Guest
Chris

“Road crashes kill 260,000 children a year … and are the leading cause of death among 10-19 year olds.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/7776127.stm

It’s obvious what he should really be working to ban.

I know in my family, this would be a deal breaker for my wife and daughter. They would be in a car for sure. And being car-free was a major reason we moved to Oregon.

Fail.

Paul Tay
Guest
Paul Tay

Uh…excuse me….the logic, not the Prof, is G.E.N.I.U.S. My bad.

“At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized — at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do — it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.” ~~~Da Prez.

Allison
Guest
Allison

He’s generally a good guy – I’m really baffled by this.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

Spare us the history. It’s not about the small good things people do, it’s about the big bad things they don’t do. Does Mitch Oppose the CRC, that is a huge $4-$10 billion spending to promote driving alone. How many babies could we save with 10 Billion for schools and human services?

The guy is nuts. If he cared about safety for bikes he would have called the BTA and said “I want to work with you”.

TonyT
Guest
tonyt

“The guy is nuts. If he cared about safety for bikes he would have called the BTA and said “I want to work with you”.”

Amen.

Jay R.
Guest
Jay R.

Proposing a bill before the research is done is quite literally putting the cart before the horse, in this case.

Patrick McMahon
Guest
Patrick McMahon

Research that looked at the crash history of people riding with children may be more relevant.

I know that when I ride with my kids I take far more precautions and choose different routes than when I’m riding by myself, because the consequences of a crash are far higher. My expectation is that the data would show that crashes are far less likely for people riding with children than for cyclists as a whole and that would change the basis for his proposed law.

We should evaluate and discuss first before making preemptive changes that have a potential negative impact of this sort.

Randy
Guest
Randy

Allison – Good point. Let’s focus on what works and what we need to fix. Most 6 yr olds can ride their own bike and Portland has polluted air – especially near downtown.

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

Well, I call BS because if he is flashing his public health credentials around like that, then he is well aware of the stats on child deaths related to car crashes.. yet where is the bill that “starts a debate” about the safety of children in cars, eh? Totally biased and duplicitous political bullying.

browse
Guest
browse

Has the Rep. done any research on how many lives would have been saved last year if this proposed bill was a law?

People are also more likely to be killed by cars traveling over 5 mph. Is the Rep. also pursuing a bill to update speed limits?

Harald
Guest

Good points everyone. But: Think of the children!!! Do you really want children to get hurt!?!

More seriously: the “argument” made by Greenlick is beyond ridiculous. I also find it appalling that he is using the OHSU bike commuter study to support his reasoning. In addition to Jonathan’s argument about environmental factors, we also have to keep in mind that the study had an extremely broad definition of what counted as “injury.” Mia Birk has written a good summary about this issue http://www.miabirk.com/blog/?p=352

3-speeder
Guest
3-speeder

“If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. ”

If automobile driving were banned in Oregon during the remainder of 2011, I am quite certain that at least one child’s life would be saved.

Rep. Greenlick, would you please introduce a bill to ban automobiles in Oregon?

I would love to see debate opened on this issue.

If you are not willing to introduce such a bill, please inform the public how you are not being a hypocrite.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

And I asked him why he doesn’t propose similar measures on cars. He said he’s voted for a lot of motor vehicle safety bills and has saved “1000s of lives” by doing so. I pointed out that no motor vehicle legislation ever has proposed prohibiting people from actually being transported in one. He replied that there’s a law saying kids can’t be in the front seat. Then he said something to the effect of, “Just because people are still being killed in cars… does that mean we shouldn’t be concerned that people are dying while bicycling?” I didn’t really understand his point, that’s why I didn’t put it in the article… but that’s the gist of his response.

April
Guest

I understand his point, to a certain extent: caring about one issue doesn’t preclude one from caring about something else. I don’t want kids to die in car accidents OR bike accidents, but the best way to ensure that, to me, seems to be banning cars.

Mitch
Guest
Mitch

Anyone who hides behind credentials (reminding you of his professorship etc) and dismisses obvious inconsistencies in his position can’t be taken too seriously.

Between its inherent absurdity and the ferocious opposition of the cycling community, I really don’t see this proposed bill getting any kind of legs.

PS: On a petty note, I’m embarrassed to share the same first name with this guy.

Shane
Guest

So if he is a professor of public health he should be aware of the obesity epidemic. Getting kids active at a young age is a key to beating that problem and cycling is a great tool to get them excited about being active everyday.
Also, I hope he’s introducing a bill to keep kids out of cars. Or maybe out of our cities altogether? Or reducing speed limits to non-life threatening speeds? Or a million other things to improve peoples “safety” without a ridiculous law like this?!

ron
Guest
ron

Not much more that I can add to the other great comments. Write your legislator.

toby
Guest
toby

“We’ve just done a study showing that 30 percent of riders biking to work at least three days a week have some sort of crash that leads to an injury… When that’s going on out there, what happens when you have a four year old on the back of a bike? ”

OK, so my question is, how many of those 30% had a four year old (OK, I’m in a generous mood, make it any child younger than 7) on back that was injured? How often do kids get injured while being pulled in a trailer?

SD
Guest
SD

Mitch’s action is surprising because it

1) demonstrates a lack of understanding of effective public health policy and the research that creates it from someone with a public health background.
2) shows naivite regarding initiating public discourse from an 3rd term elected official in a highly educated district.
3) takes an anti bike stance amongst a constituency that is relatively probike.

I know a lot of us are scratching our heads.

This reflects poorly on the OHSU school of medicine public health department where he was chair and is embarassing to the people who elected him.

todd
Guest
todd

Enough people who know him are scratching their heads at the obvious idiocy that I wonder whether he’s suffering from senile dementia (75) or something similar related to his cancer treatment.

Nobody who drives the speed limit in the city has any moral standing in advising me how to transport my child safely.

BURR
Guest
BURR

So what exactly are the injury and fatality statistics for children under 6 in bike seats or trailers?

Meghan H
Guest
Meghan H

A horrible situation happened recently where a one-year-old child died while being pushed in a stroller on the sidewalk. By Rep. Greenlick’s logic, you would have to ban WALKING with a child down your street. He just didn’t think this through — I’m just surprised the person on his staff who probably had to write the legislative language didn’t ask him to reconsider this position.

jim
Guest
jim

every once in a while I see joggers running down the street pushing a baby stroller. Perhaps they should stay on the sidewalks with the babies

just saying
Guest
just saying

By law pedestrians are required to use the sidewalk if one is present.

814.070 Improper position upon or improperly proceeding along highway; penalty. (1) A pedestrian commits the offense of pedestrian with improper position upon or improperly proceeding along a highway if the pedestrian does any of the following:

(a) Takes a position upon or proceeds along and upon the roadway where there is an adjacent usable sidewalk or shoulder.

Allan Folz
Guest
Allan Folz

I don’t know that you’d ban walking. By his logic, I think you’d ban elderly drivers, of which Greenlick is likely one.

It is telling though isn’t it. He is all for a study to ban the theoretical risks in biking, yet the real and demonstrated risk of elderly drivers gets a pass.

jim
Guest
jim

I think it’s really more of a question of “How old does a child have to be before you take them on a bike?” http://www.bhsi.org/little1s.htm

NY has laws about taking babies on bikes.

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

I’d really like to see the data in the form of a harm reduction analysis, i.e. yeah the people on the bike may be slightly less safe than if they were in a car, but since they aren’t going to hit and kill someone else the city as a whole is safer. Remember more than 1/2 of the time when a child is hit by a car going to or from school they are hit by a classmates parent.

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

I have an idea: let’s ban driving near schools!

adam
Guest
adam

thats is not an idea, it is THE idea.

nice job, alexis.

suburban
Guest
suburban

Effective on July 1, 1994, any youth under age 16 riding a bike or when a passenger on a bike in any public place (streets, roads, sidewalks, parks, etc.) must wear bicycle helmets labeled ANSI and/or Snell approved.

Some enforcement of this law would be a better “dialogue starter”

Peter
Guest
Peter

Is this guy representative of mindset of people in Northwest Portland and Northern Washington County? I can’t believe they voted for him! His bill would ruin one of the things I love about SE Portland.

sarah gilbert
Guest

I have a lot to say on this, and many of my points have already been made. I think any rational lawmaker would agree that you cannot apply the save-one-child standard to lawmaking, or we should ban balloons, magnets, batteries, bridges, roads, sidewalks, bathtubs, food and drink (choking!), plastic bags (suffocating!), sewing needles or any indoor heat (plenty of kids have died in house fires). kids are allergic to bee stings, peanuts and shellfish, they’re gone too. and guns, well, I think that’s pretty high on the list. no one could stay inside or leave the house, and flying, come ON. duh.

anyway. on to other things. there are a few reasons other than those stated here to oppose this bill. the one most obvious is that it would be killing to a number of Oregon-based businesses; bike shops like Clever Cycles, Splendid Cycles, Bike Gallery and Joe Bikes make much of their income selling bikes that carry kids and parents. Oregon-based bike makers throughout the state are making innovative new baby-movers. there are obviously plenty more, but these would be the hardest hit.

the second is that it’s terribly discriminatory to parents of young kids with pervasive developmental disorders. one reaction some parents might have were this crazy bill ever to be made law would be to get their kids on their own bikes earlier and earlier (can you imagine the unintended consequences of THAT? four- and five-year-olds crowding the bike lanes with their training wheels and their super-slow speeds. your child with Down’s Syndrome or balance disorders (or my own undiagnosed special-needs five-year-old who couldn’t balance on a bike until just last month) must be carried in a trailer through the age of six (and older). oh sorry: it’s illegal. keep your special needs kid at home until he’s old enough to enjoy the road.

it’s already been mentioned that this has some major problems in its discrimination against families who can’t afford a car. it’s patently elitist and wrong-headed in a dozen ways. grrr.

Duncan
Guest
Duncan

well said.

beth h
Guest

Is the BTA preparing a response to this? It seems like their legislative territory for sure.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

good question. I sent email to the BTA on this and it bounced back as on vacation. rob (at)) bta4bikes.org

Gerik
Guest
Donna
Guest
Donna

“When asked if it might be wiser to find such evidence and then introduce a bill, he said, “Because this is just how the process works.”

That is one of the biggest loads of garbage I have ever heard from a politician. Isn’t the State of Oregon still experiencing a budget crisis? There will be severe cuts to critical and useful state programs this year and this guy is flushing tax revenue down the toilet with his “deliberative process”. We have so many people out of work and in need in this state, and he believes this is an appropriate use of public funds??? If he thinks the state has money to burn for this kind of nonsense, he’s obviously been in elective office too long. Hopefully the voters in his district will come to that realization.

Seth
Guest
Seth

This just doesn’t make any sense. Hopefully the bill will never make it anywhere. Lets do what we can to see that it dies quickly.

I have been a daily bike commuter for about 15 years. My son comes with me on the bike many of those days, and we get out and about on the bike as well. He started riding with me at about 1.5yrs old. He loves it. We would both be very sad if some senseless legislation were to change that.

Rep Greenlick: I am sure you are well-intentioned, but this one is way off the mark.

Ben Cannon
Guest

As a father who rides with his three-year-old daughter on the back of his bike and a State Representative who has served four years in the Oregon House with Rep. Greenlick, I would suggest that everyone take a deep breath.

I take Mitch at his word that he introduced the bill in order to “start a conversation” about bicycle safety. It might seem strange, but this is the way the process often works: a legislator gets an idea, drafts a bill, introduces it, gets feedback, and then decides whether to try to proceed, perhaps with amendments, or whether to let it die. Remember that a bill has to pass at least two committees, plus the House and the Senate, and be signed by the Governor, in order to become law. This proposal is a long way from that.

Perhaps owing to his training as a researcher, Mitch, more than any other colleague of mine, is disposed to listen carefully to different points of view and evaluate all the evidence as he grapples with an issue. He has one of Oregon’s greatest minds, and among its attributes are the flexibility to take different perspectives and the wisdom to understand what’s really important.

The conversation here is good, and I suspect it’s exactly what Mitch intended (just so you get the picture, he has other proposals that would merge OHSU and PSU and merge Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas Counties — standard fare for a legislator who isn’t afraid of big, bold ideas). I especially appreciate that most of the commenters here have been careful to characterize Mitch’s proposal and not Mitch himself. Paul Tay’s self-correction above is a great example.

Still, the relative anonymity and click-and-publish nature of emails and blogs can lead to instant villification of someone merely for proposing an idea. As one of the sponsors of last session’s proposed beer tax increase (yeah, I’m *that* guy), I have some experience with this. While our original proposal was merely meant to be a discussion-starter, opponents so quickly sunk their teeth into the level of the tax we had proposed (which was admittedly too high) that it became impossible to talk about the tax at all. One of the lessons I learned was to be more careful about the precise form of the bills I introduce, knowing that they might be instantly parodied online. Maybe this is simply inevitable, but I’m not sure that it’s a better world when legislators are hesitant to propose an idea because it might expose them to vitriol through email or online.

Fortunately, I haven’t seen much of that in this conversation.

Introducing a bill is the best way that legislators have to get feedback on an idea. Keep it coming, keep it civil.

-Ben Cannon

Donna
Guest
Donna

Well, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion but I find it abhorrent that elected officials waste public money in order to have “discussions”. I could never in good conscience vote to re-elect someone who engages in this sort of thing. If this is how our state legislature operates, it’s clearly time to vote out *all* the incumbents, sir.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

I’ve spent some time in Salem the last couple of years lobbying for the BTA and have served on the legislative committee for almost 4 years now. Introducing a bill costs virtually nothing, I think something like 1 in 10 bills is passed. I don’t agree with this bill, but there are a lot of rules about how things happen, and it is in my opinion possible that this was introduced as a place holder for some sort of bike safety bill. Bills have to be submitted before the session, and can be amended all over the place so they barely resemble what was started with. Regardless, this isn’t crazy government waste, it is normal legislative process.

Gerik
Guest

Thanks Bjorn, looking forward to our meeting next week.

Zach
Guest
Zach

Wow, I can’t tell whether or not this comment is tongue-in-cheek. If it is, Donna, I apologize for not getting the joke.

If you’re serious, you need to sit down and think for a few minutes about how our political system works. We do not elect our representatives (on the state or federal level) to bring fully-formed laws to their respective legislative bodies for up-or-down votes without prior discussion. We elect them to represent us in the deliberative process that is required to create new laws and policies.

Incidentally, do you have any idea how poorly state legislators are paid compared to the amount of work they do?

Paul
Guest
Paul

This is precisely the public officials’ job – to have discussions. What exactly do you propose they do instead? Can you provide your own ideas for a job description of a public official? As much as I disagree with the idea of this bill, I find your comment puzzling.

Andrew Plambeck
Guest
Andrew Plambeck

Good way to “start a discussion” by introducing legislation: the bill to direct ODOT to conduct a study of replacing the Marquam Bridge.

Bad way to “start a discussion” by introducing legislation: saying you’re going to ban something without any facts, statistics or warrant.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“… I take Mitch at his word that he introduced the bill in order to “start a conversation” about bicycle safety. It might seem strange, but this is the way the process often works: a legislator gets an idea, drafts a bill, introduces it, gets feedback, and then decides whether to try to proceed, perhaps with amendments, or whether to let it die. Remember that a bill has to pass at least two committees, plus the House and the Senate, and be signed by the Governor, in order to become law. This proposal is a long way from that. …Ben Cannon

Ben…thanks for taking the time to talk a bit about the legislative process works. This is something the general public could benefit from being more familiar with.

Allan Folz
Guest
Allan Folz

What about a bill that prohibits elderly people from getting behind the wheel? Would you work to co-sponsor such a bill with Rep Greenlick? Elderly drivers have killed children right here in Portland.

http://www.kgw.com/news/Child-in-stroller-struck-in-N-Portland-hit-and-run-106904773.html

I think unless Rep Greenlick propose such a bill he is at risk for accusation of rank hypocrisy.

Shan D
Guest
Shan D

Let just assume this was to “start a conversation” about bicycle safety. Why not have studies to back up this whole “riding with children under x age is not safe” Oh thats right there are no studies or FACTS!. If he was generally concerned with the safety of children why not purpose more bike routes to inner and outer city areas? Why not make those bike paths more accessible. Heck why dont we go ahead and make sure all roads have a barrier instead of a painted white line which is not even visible to most drives( due to fading or lack of) nor even wide enough to ride your bike in with a trailer. If this was seriously for the fact of “starting a conversation” it is not a good way to do this. Only those whom are and would be affected are going to have 2 cents and if we look over those percentages its not very high compared to those whom are not.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

I take Mitch at his word that he introduced the bill in order to “start a conversation” about bicycle safety.

This is not a mature and polite way to start a conversation in a professional setting.

This is the equivalent of Dr Greggory House being in charge of formulating new laws.

The level of forethought that went in to this seems equal to a sadistic child pulling the pin of a grenade and rolling it in to a room for LOLs.

Nathan
Guest
Nathan

Interesting, q’Tzal, I had the same analogy in mind. Tossing a grenade (we’ll say with the pin still in place) into a crowd is one way to open a dialogue about public safety. But it’s not a very good way. It seems to me that’s what Rep. Greenlick has done with this bill. Perhaps he doesn’t intend for it to pass, but it’s not entirely in his hands now.

I believe we’re correct to take him seriously, and to help him recognize–and quickly–that he’s got hold of this problem by the wrong end.

Alan
Guest
Alan

Ben Cannon: “I would suggest that everyone take a deep breath.”

First off, thank you, Representative Cannon, for responding here. That’s a credit to both you and BikePortland. I trust Rep. Greenlick will at least look at these responses, too, as we know he is aware of them.

Although I’ve sucked up more than half my allotted lifetime oxygen supply, I assure you I am not at all out of breath and am reasonably calm. I don’t live in Oregon nor have small children so the law wouldn’t affect me directly, but bad governing affects us all.

In the present political, economic, sociological and environmental climate, exactly what is the point of starting yet another debate about some non-issue, and in particular proposing a thesis that has no basis in scientific evidence and runs counter to good health habits, urban livability and reduced demand on oil? Are there not enough issues presently available which need careful and well-considered resolution, even legislation? Have Oregon’s representatives not been asked by their constituents for solutions to pressing problems which are more real and more urgent than the HB2228 windmill?

So, if may humbly and calmly offer some counter advice, I suggest that government representatives in all jurisdictions put on their listening ears.

valkraider
Guest
valkraider

Thank you for your comment, and your service.

I believe that the conversation could have been started in a less negative way. Perhaps instead of

“OMG it is SO dangerous for kids to be on bicycles that we need a law to prevent it”

We could start the conversation with

“We need a law to make it easier for people to safely take their kids on bicycles. Lets make it a law that bicycles with children under 6 must have an orange flag and vehicles must give a full lane of space to a bicycle with an orange flag.”

Or something like that.

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

“While our original proposal was merely meant to be a discussion-starter, opponents so quickly sunk their teeth into the level of the tax we had proposed…that it became impossible to talk about the tax at all. One of the lessons I learned was to be more careful about the precise form of the bills I introduce, knowing that they might be instantly parodied online.”

Your use of the word “parodied” here is unfortunate. Proposed bills will be seen and reacted to online. I don’t see any parodying going on. The ability for a quick online response is a recent change in the amount of dialogue in the political process, and I think it’s a fortunate one. If legislators want to start discussion and get feedback, you couldn’t ask for a faster way.

And maybe the right way for legislators to react is, as you said, to be more careful about the form of the legislation they propose. Why propose a level of taxation that’s too high? Why propose a ban on carrying children by bike? Do some research and propose something that has a solid basis, and maybe the online dialogue will give support to your idea rather than opposition. The reaction to the headphone law has been far more mixed than the reaction to Rep. Greenlick’s proposal, because people recognize that being distracted from your surroundings may be a genuine risk. Many people still disagee with the concept or implementation of the law, of course, but I don’t see people feeling inflamed by it in the same way. If feedback makes for more thought before laws are proposed, then as a citizen I’m all for it.

mrPalomar
Guest
mrPalomar

Sorry, but it’s absolutely “a better world when legislators are hesitant to propose an idea because it might expose them to vitriol through email or online”.

We have way too many laws as it is, and I for one am extremely grateful that there are now public means for people to express their disgust at this fact.

We have gone down a road in this country where every single act that can potentially be harmful to an individual is scrutinized and legislators consistently choose to legislate safety over freedom. Studies have shown that in situations where children are not given freedom to choose their own fates they become incapable of making those decisions when they are presented with them. Is this how we want to treat our citizens?

I know, I know, think of the children. Somehow this reminds me of the cliched shots of politicians holding babies, and sickens me in the same way…

adam
Guest
adam

how would you recommend I communicate with Salem?

tony
Guest
tony

I am pretty shocked by this. I really assumed that this was a year/month typo. Every close call I have had with my trailer has been due to impatient or distracted drivers. Maybe they should revisit the idea of increasing penalties for motorists who injure or kill vulnerable road users.

Would Trail-a-bikes fall under this law?

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

yes, HB 2228, fine for child under 7 on trail a bike, tag along bike.

Mike
Guest
Mike

I hope this guy isn’t towing a 5 year old behind his rascal while wearing headphones. If so, I will take away his Wallmart card

Ben Cannon
Guest

Rep. Greenlick is the Chief Sponsor of a bill that would prohibit spending further money on the Columbia River Crossing unless a high bar for need and viability was met. Rep. Greenlick is not nuts.

-Ben Cannon

Joe Rowe
Spare us the history. It’s not about the small good things people do, it’s about the big bad things they don’t do. Does Mitch Oppose the CRC, that is a huge $4-$10 billion spending to promote driving alone. How many babies could we save with 10 Billion for schools and human services?
The guy is nuts. If he cared about safety for bikes he would have called the BTA and said “I want to work with you”.

Keith
Guest

The good doctor seems to have forgotten how the scientific process works whereby one formulates a theory and then through objective observation, proves or disproves that theory.

As a cyclist and advocate of cycling I am aware of many statistics regarding injury and accidents as they relate to cyclists… but have yet to gather any stats on children being injured while they have been passengers on bicycles.

If this was a problem… we’d know about it.

If I want motorists to give me a wide berth all I have to do is hook up my child trailer which does not even carry children anymore… but it carries my dog and my groceries and let me tell you, they are pretty safe.

I also double my youngest on my extracycle and have never felt that we were taking any undue risks.

Maybe someone should do a safety study on pink bike helmets, pony tails, and spokee dokes… this combination seems to work as vehicle repellent where I live.

Curt
Guest
Curt

I just sent an email to Rep. Greenlick questioning the logic of this House Bill. While a new law might save a life, there is a corresponding cost in freedom and joy for everyone. I encourage others to write him as well!

Allan Folz
Guest
Allan Folz

Dear Mr. Greenlick,

I was surprised and dismayed to read (see http://bikeportland.org/2011/01/12/rep-greenlick-says-safety-concerns-prompted-child-biking-bill-45890) of your introduction of House Bill 2228 stemming from the over-hyped (see http://www.miabirk.com/blog/?p=352) OHSU report on the dangers of bicycle commuting.

My dismay was from the categorical nature of an outright ban. Have you stopped to consider what a car-less family is expected to do should your proposal pass? What do you tell a family that has decided to spend more of their budget on housing to live close-in to the city center with the trade-off that they have chosen not to own a car?

My surprise was from your flagrant and repeated logical fallacies in the interview. You started with an obvious appeal to authority vis a vis your position at OHSU. Then you offered obvious false dilemmas suggesting we must do something if just one child’s life be saved, and again with this bill is the only way to get the legislature take up the topic for any further study. I trust as an accomplished college professor you’re smart enough to see all that is wrong with those arguments. Perhaps it was bad reporting. I won’t bore either of us with trying to address them.

However, there is one issue closer to home I will suggest. I thankfully haven’t heard of any small children getting seriously hurt or killed while riding on a bike with their parents. However, just a couple months ago a toddler in a stroller was killed in North Portland by an elderly driver that ran him over in a crosswalk.

Mr. Greenlick, elderly drivers are killing children in our city. This is a real issue and something must be done. Please propose a law that individuals over 70 be required to undergo rigorous and regular, I would suggest annual, health screening before being allowed to operate a motor vehicle. It will assuredly save injury and lives.

I, myself, will refrain from suggesting an outright ban. However, if in your expert opinion such would be required to get the legislature to investigate the issue with any amount of seriousness, I won’t complain. Indeed, I would salute your consistency.

Regards,
Allan Folz
Portland, OR

Kt
Guest
Kt

Allan— this is masterful. I agree wholeheartedly.

John I.
Guest
John I.

Jimbo
“If it’s true that it’s unsafe, we have an obligation to protect people. If I thought a law would save one child’s life, I would step in and do it. Wouldn’t you?”
Based on that statement, shouldn’t we ban cars, alcohol, guns and corn syrup?

No kidding.

How about educating the the public how to transport children safely with bikes instead of taking away personal freedoms.

who is really dying?
Guest
who is really dying?

In the past several years no toddlers in bikes have been killed in accidents. However several homeless people have. I propose that we create a law to save lives that requires the ownership of land in order to be able to ride a bicycle. Perhaps an exception could be made for renters.

John I.
Guest
John I.

I think what worries me the most is the possibility that people NOT in the bike community may try to support this proposal.

There have been a lot of great statements here. I for one will be calling and e mailing my two cents in first thing in the morning.

Donna
Guest
Donna

Spot on and we can add this to the long page of reasons why using proposed legislation (about anything) as an outlet for “discussion” is so wrong.

Ian Cooper
Guest
Ian Cooper

This is nuts. I just don’t buy the idea that “it’s just intended to start a conversation”. Bad bills like this only get the chance to be passed if they are proposed. This is not a talking point – it’s a horrible idea that will save no lives. The most it will do is adversely affect low income families who don’t own a car. And this guy is supposedly a democrat? Shame!

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“… I just don’t buy the idea that “it’s just intended to start a conversation”. …” Ian Cooper

Why don’t you think this bill proposal is just for the purpose of starting a discussion? What do you think it’s purpose, or it’s various purposes for having been proposed, is?

At this point, I don’t think this even is a bill. It’s a bill proposal. There’s a difference; my understanding of the Oregon legislative process is far from thorough, but I don’t think the proposal becomes a bill until after it’s been hashed out and worked on by the committee it goes to next…don’t know yet which committee that is…and is prepared for submission to the Oregon legislature for a vote. Then it goes to the Senate, and then…it goes to the Guv, where laws can sometimes still be vetoed.

Ian Cooper
Guest
Ian Cooper

I think its purpose is clear – to remove bicycle trailers from the streets so that drivers can happily drive incompetently, secure in the knowledge that their poor driving will not kill any kids.

And if a bill isn’t serious, isn’t it a waste of my taxpayer money to propose it?

Pat Franz
Guest

If the goal is to provoke a conversation about lives endangered by travelling, things will quickly come around to “auto drivers not bothering to pay attention”. If you can legislate a solution to that, you will have accomplished something.

Considering the possibility of bicycle wipeouts with children on board is something all cycling parents should think about. I would have to agree I see some families riding around in ways I wouldn’t, but 99.9% of the time, it brings a smile to see parents and children riding together.

If the concern is danger to small children due to unaware parents carrying their children in unsafe ways, seems like some research, followed by an educational campaign, would be a more reasonable approach.

Poking the hornet’s nest to see what comes out is one path to enlightenment, but there are others.

sarah gilbert
Guest

I don’t agree that the conversation will quickly come around to that. Let’s remember where most of the representatives live: outside of Portland and Eugene. Let’s also assume that very few of them, and very few of the deep-pocketed influencers in the state, are currently parents of young children who bike as their primary means of transportation. (Clearly, Greenwick is not.) In my opinion, the conversation would quickly come around to something else to restrict bicycling with kids (maybe they’ll decide that xtracycles and trail-a-bikes aren’t safe, but trailers are, or that box bikes can only be piloted on streets on the weekends so that they don’t hold up fast fast fast drivers going to important jobs as lobbyists, or that children under age X can’t ride on front seats, etc. etc.). Any less restrictive version of this law is, in my opinion, a terrible reduction of my right to choose my method of transportation (and not to drive a car).

If I can’t put any of my young children on the bike, that greatly restricts my ability to go anywhere. I’m a mom of three young boys whose school is 3.3 miles away (public school to which we were assigned by PPS due to special ed needs) with a husband 10,000 miles away in Kuwait. If I can’t bike my kids around — or my biking is in any way restricted — I would be forced to either get a car or homeschool or simply leave the kids at home while I go on errands. (many of which have me hauling things home I can’t physically carry in my arms.)

any version of a restriction on parents carrying children on their bikes (or, horrors, kids biking) is elitist, discriminatory against the poor, and blind to the very real concerns most of us here on Bike Portland share about the destructive effects of excessive car use.

no way this bill could possibly result in a restriction on driving. no way.

Katie
Guest

This is my main concern as well: that if the point is to spark “dialogue” and we wind up with a “compromise,” that will still mean restricting personal freedoms, primarily those of women, with NO substantial data to justify those restrictions.

I’d love to see a serious university study examining the dangers AND benefits of transporting kids by bike. In fact, I’d love to see several of them, with different methodologies, in different places. And THEN, I’d love to see an EDUCATIONAL CAMPAIGN based on the results, helping us all to ride more safely.

But even if such a study said, say, that kids on bikes are just as much at risk as kids in cars (which is to say, pretty substantial risk), an outright ban would not be warranted. “Get in a car or stay home” is not an acceptable message for our communities, our environment, or our children.

Brian E.
Guest
Brian E.

If you want to save lives then get the scofflaws to follow the laws we already have. More enforcement, stiffer penalties, loss of driving privilege for scofflaw road users. And by road users I mean drivers, bikers and pedestrians.

Leave it to an academic to create new rules when giving someone a swift kick in the butt would get better results.

ecogrrl
Guest
ecogrrl

I disagree that this was just brought in to be a ‘discussion’. Do a study, don’t initiate a bill. This seems quite twisted to me. As a car-free cyclist, I’ve seen a variety of both driving and cycling styles, and flagrant disrespect for the road – on both sides (including a parent with a child in a trailer in the rain swerving all over Ainsworth the other day). Cops need to focus on enforcing cyclists who are going through red lights, riding erratically, and other actions that are similar to what drivers get pulled over for. Taking a parent’s right to have their kid attached to their bike? An action of ignorance from someone I’m guessing doesn’t bike commute. KATU had a good interview with Clever Cycles tonight – a positive for this situation.

From Los Angeles
Guest
From Los Angeles

Maybe he wants kids riding their own bikes. It is completely unfair to say bikes shouldn’t carry more than one person yet a car, which has an awful safety track record, can carry between 2 and 8 or 9 people.

Can hardly believe this man is a professor, guess he’s not very well rounded, doesn’t take much to realize placing the burdens on cyclists for ‘safety’ is the wrong choice. The COUNTRY WITH THE SAFEST STREETS IN THE WORLD, the Netherlands, would never suggest such a law. Why don’t we model what they do there to achieve greater levels of safety? They must be doing something right there, right?!

Scott Batchelar
Guest
Scott Batchelar

Dear Mr. Greenlick,

My name is Scott Batchelar and I am one of your constituents, I currently live at the Sitka Apartments on NW 12th and Northrup in the Pearl District.

As of June of 2010 I made bicycling my primary mode of transportation around the Portland Metropolitan Area and as I have been riding one thing I have noticed here in your district is the large numbers of your constituents with young children who are doing the same thing.

In my apartment building I know of 5-10 families who regularly ride bikes with their children and if this bill were to pass it would affect these families in a way that would not be healthy or good.

I was surprised and dismayed today to read an article by my friend Jonathan Maus the editor of
Bike Portland.
(see http://bikeportland.org/2011/01/12/rep-greenlick-says-safety-concerns-prompted-child-biking-bill-45890) of your introduction of House Bill 2228 stemming from the over-hyped (see http://www.miabirk.com/blog/?p=352) OHSU report on the dangers of bicycle commuting.

My dismay was from the categorical nature of an outright ban. Have you stopped to consider what a car-less family is expected to do should your proposal pass? What do you tell a family that has decided to spend more of their budget on housing to live close-in to the city center with the trade-off that they have chosen not to own a car?

As I mentioned I personally know numerous families in your district that use bikes as a main form of transportation, what will you tell them if this proposal becomes law?

My surprise was from your flagrant and repeated logical fallacies in the interview. You started with an obvious appeal to authority vis a vis your position at OHSU. Then you offered obvious false dilemmas suggesting we must do something if just one child’s life be saved, and again with this bill is the only way to get the legislature to take up the topic for any further study. I trust as an accomplished college professor you’re smart enough to see all that is wrong with those arguments. Perhaps it was bad reporting. I won’t bore either of us with trying to address them.

Thankfully I haven’t heard of any small children getting seriously hurt or killed while riding on a bike with their parents and have participated in a wonderful program called kidical mass which gives parents and their children opportunities to do a very healthy activity together this bill you are proposing will completely end that and that is something I can not support.

As one of your constituents this is a bill I can not and will not support, I understand your reasons for proposing this and I applaud your wanting to open debate on this issue but I wonder if this is the right way to go about this.

Sincerely Yours,
Scott Batchelar

This is a copy of the letter I just sent to my representative Mitch Greenlick, I did copy some of the points from other commenters on this string and for that I apologize and thank the individuals I borrowed from.

Allan Folz
Guest
Allan Folz

You’re welcome!

Have you gotten an answer yet? I have, to which I’ve already responded: http://bikeportland.org/2011/01/13/greenlick-child-biking-bill-reaction-roundup-45910#comment-1703942

Regards,
-Allan

adam
Guest
adam

great letter. I would love to see the response.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Representative Greenlick’s comments to maus generally leave me feeling certain that he’s not really out to ban people from carrying kids on their bikes or in bike trailers, but rather:

“…to discuss the issue and start a debate.”

Later in his above story, maus states that: “…Greenlick maintains that he is simply trying to start a discussion. …”

For now, this as Greenlick’s stated intention with introduction of the bill is o.k., but I have to wonder why, by way of the text used for bill proposal, he chose such a blunt approach to raising the issue of safety associated with transporting kids by bike, and also…whether before forwarding the bill text, he might not have considered text with a substance that was a little more practical and down to earth.

For example: regarding bike trailers specifically, I would really have appreciated Greenlick proposing legislative discussion towards a possible law, that sought to improve the safety by way of construction and lighting, that bike trailers could provide their passengers with. Most bike trailers I’ve seen are incredibly flimsy affairs made of nylon fabric and aluminum tubing that likely are not capable of protecting their passengers against as little as a 3-5mph impact from a motor vehicle. Even motor vehicles…the vehicle, not the occupants…have better protection via the fancy foam composite bumpers.

Rep. Greenlick could do just a little better job of keeping the substance in text of the bills he sponsors, a little lower down under the stratosphere where everyone…including himself…can breathe a little easier and think constructively. That would be closer to the idea of actually working together with his public.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

If I need to get somewhere, I’ll use Barbur or Canyon Road, I like riding on 26 from the zoo. I’ll take tricky connections using Powell and those dotted red lines on the Portland Bike Map.

I wont touch half the places I ride if there is someone less experienced with me, nevermind a child following or on my bike.

Using a study of bike commuters to guage the risk to children does not sit well with me.

Nathan
Guest
Nathan

Psyfalcon, good point. This is just one more way Rep. Greenlick’s thinking, as reported here, falls very far short. The fact that he’s trained as an epidemiologist (and presumably training others, as a professor) makes it so more more baffling.

pat
Guest
pat
Guest
pat

As an alum of the OHSU public health program, I agree more with this reasoning: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/magazine/12FOB-Ethicist-t.html That is, bicycling with children is an acceptable risk.