Greenlick child biking bill reaction roundup

Tour of Tomorrow
Oregon House Rep. Ben Cannon
has weighed in, urging people to
keep reactions civil.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Oregon House Representative Mitch Greenlick’s idea to start a discussion about child bike safety by proposing a new law (HB 2228) that would make transporting kids six and younger by bike illegal has resulted in a massive response. The media and hundreds of people in our community have weighed in. I want to share some of that reaction…

The Executive Director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance Rob Sadowsky responded short and sweet via Twitter by saying, “We’ll fight it. It won’t pass.” BTA Advocacy Manager Gerik Kransky has posted an official response on their blog.

Oregon House Representative Ben Cannon (D-SE Portland) left a must-read comment on this site last night. Cannon rides regularly with his three year-old daughter and is a colleague of Rep. Greenlick. Here are excerpts from his comment:

“I take Mitch at his word that he introduced the bill in order to “start a conversation” about bicycle safety… The conversation here is good, and I suspect it’s exactly what Mitch intended… 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… Keep it civil.”

That’s very good perspective from Cannon. Read his entire comment here.

Many BikePortland readers have sent letters to Greenlick’s office expressing their concerns about the bill. Reader Scott Batchelar lives in Greenlick’s district (Northwest Portland) and had this to say:

“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… 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 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.”

Read Scott’s full email to Greenlick here.

Reader Jessica Roberts wrote Greenlick to say,

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

Read Jessica’s full email here.

The local media have also shown interest in this bill.

KATU’s story included an interview with an owner of local family biking shop Clever Cycles. Todd Fahrner told them, “We have an 8-year-old boy who’s traveled at least 10 times as far by bikes as all other methods combined… He’s never been injured. It’s what we do as a business as well.” The story was also covered by KPTV (Fox), the Portland Mercury blog, and in The Oregonian.

In past legislative sessions, people in our community have been blamed for sullying cycling’s reputation in Salem by being too harsh on lawmakers who propose unpopular legislation. I must say, I am very proud of how thoughtful the reactions have been this time around. I have deleted a few comments, but 99% of them have been respectful and civil. Thank you all for that.

This bill has no chance of passing, but I think the larger issue is how Greenlick came up with his concerns in the first place, and why he decided that a prohibition of child carrying on bicycles would be an appropriate solution.

Stay tuned for more coverage.

— See our “HB 2228” story tag for full coverage.

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