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Mia Birk asks Greenlick to withdraw bill, says he “misinterpreted” bike injury study

Posted by on January 13th, 2011 at 12:43 pm

“I appreciate that your intentions were good, but the facts do not support this bill. Please withdraw it.”
— Mia Birk, in a letter to Rep. Greenlick about HB 2228

Let the education continue

Below is a letter written to Rep. Mitch Greenlick from Mia Birk. Birk is the former bicycle coordinator at the City of Portland, CEO of Alta Planning and Design, and currently spends much of her time speaking around the country about bicycling to promote her new book, “Joyride.”

Dear Rep. Greenlick,

I believe you have misinterpreted the OHSU bike commute study.

First, there is nothing in that study that relates to the transportation of small children by bicycle. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence to support the notion that transporting a child by bike leads to injuries.

Second, the leading cause of death in children is car crashes. [CDC. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System [online]. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). Available from URL: www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars. [2008 May 5].

So we’d do far better to outlaw the transportation of children by automobile.

Third, the report in reality concludes that the risk of serious injury being incurred while bicycle commuting is very small. The terminology “traumatic event” actually means “minor injury.” The author explained in an interview with Sarah Mirk of the Portland Mercury:

    MERC: Your study shows that over 20 percent of cyclists experience a “traumatic or serious” injury. What qualified as traumatic?
    DR. MAYBERRY: You had to actually be injured. It could just be skinning your knee or spraining your ankle, but it couldn’t just be a near miss.

So we’re talking about bumps and scrapes, not major injuries.

Fourth, according to the authors: if we commute by bike to work approximately six miles a day, we’ll experience a minor mishap once every four years. That sounds perfectly reasonable and shouldn’t dissuade anyone from riding a bike for transportation. Shoot, I get injured every few months playing tennis. My son comes home from basketball practice with a scrape or bump pretty much daily. My daughter, who isn’t into sports, regularly manages to injure herself on the playground or in the house.

I wish the researchers had reported their results in comparison to other physical or accident-inducing activities, rather than in a vacuum. Quick research reveals common injury-inducing activities include cooking (slicing a finger or burning a hand), swimming, and participating in any and all sports.

I conducted a survey in my office of 21 regular bike commuters. The results:

  • 69% suffered a minor injury in the last year NOT related to bike commuting;
  • 19% had a minor injury related to bike commuting;
  • 15% suffered a major injury (requiring medical attention) in the last year NOT related to bike commuting
  • 5% had a major injury (requiring medical attention) related to bike commuting.

In other words, people living physically active lives suffer injuries, with bicycle commuting no worse an activity than anything else. And, as confirmed recently by a Dutch study, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

The use of the emotion-laden word ‘trauma’ and context-lacking statistics contribute to a culture of fear about bicycling as a dangerous activity. This fear then suppresses bike use, a real shame considering the extremely high level of individual and societal benefits and the fact that bicycling is actually getting safer. This we know from Portland’s extensive annual analysis of reported bike-motor crashes, which clearly show that the number of crashes is holding steady while the crash rate is declining precipitously. [See p. 9 of PBOT’s recent study].

In sum, the OHSU study helps confirm that the risk of injury is small and far outweighed by the individual and societal health and environmental benefits of bicycle commuting.

I appreciate that your intentions were good, but the facts do not support this bill. Please withdraw it.

Mia Birk
President, Alta Planning + Design

Read background on this story and on Greenlick’s bill here.

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69 Comments
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    nuovorecord January 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Out. Standing!!!

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    Jackattak January 13, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I agree with just about everything she said except this:

    “Second, the leading cause of death in children is car crashes. [CDC. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System [online]. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). Available from URL: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars. [2008 May 5].

    So we’d do far better to outlaw the transportation of children by automobile.”

    WHY?! Why did Mia say this and immediately turn it into a car vs. bike issue? That will not get “the community” anywhere and only perpetuates the same tired song n’ dance we’ve been dealing with for over a decade.

    There are far more children traveling in cars than there are on bikes. I don’t feel as though as I should have to be the one to point this out to someone as educated as Mia. Shame on her.

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      q`Tzal January 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      Perhaps because it points to REAL statistics showing ACTUAL deaths and injuries of children versus IMAGINED deaths and injuries of children.

      And the fact of the matter here is that he is proposing a law that serves ONLY to facilitate the recklessness of auto drivers. Certainly we could prevent thousands of deaths by banning ALL cyclists and pedestrians from ALL roads.
      To even suggest the idea though foments the erroneous concept that roads belong to the large and fast ONLY.

      So she was only defending against prime “car vs. bike” fallacy.

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        Jackattak January 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm

        I just feel as though she could have pointed to any number of other statistics (that we actually have data on…unlike the deaths of children on bicycles which I think we can all agree is silly since it pretty much never happens). Opening Pandora’s Box and introducing the “us vs. them” mentality into the discussion will only perpetuate it with people who feel that way all ready.

        We have to get rid of that mindset if we want any progress and for a leader of “the community” to not be able to see that is deplorable to me. I can understand some of the more hardcore here on BP feeling that way but Mia’s supposed to be a leader.

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          #1 January 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm

          Pointing out the #1 cause seems reasonable, not like an us v. them at all. It’s just a fact. If #1 had been sport fishing, then she would have mentioned that instead of cars.

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          q`Tzal January 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm

          Opening Pandora’s Box and introducing the “us vs. them” mentality into the discussion will only perpetuate it with people who feel that way all ready.

          To which I counter again that he “opened pandora’s box” on the cars vs bikes issue this time. To allow his words to go publicly unchallenged lends legitimacy to his opinion.

          Mia Birk’s reply has to frame the implied hazard that he suggests his amendment would protect children from against the very real hazards that children face every day in automobiles. This is an apples to apples comparison.

          While the proportion of vehicle miles/child is very different between autos and bicycles any other comparison would be an apples to orangutans comparison.

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            matt picio January 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm

            I agree with q’Tzal – the “us vs. them” was implied with the bill itself. Additionally, Ms. Burk’s language was specifically “we’d do better if”, that is to say “well, if you’re going to argue on that basis, there are far more dangerous things” – I think her choice of arguments was spot on.

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            Jackattak January 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm

            I’m trying to get my head around how Rep. Greenlick opened the debate for “cars vs. bikes” based on this bill. Can you please be more specific? Because I am not seeing it and if there, that would change my mind, honestly.

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            valkraider January 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm

            How else could the bill be framed? What “safety risk” is there to be addressed in the bill if not that of automobiles driving over bicycles with kids? Is the bill written describing the risk of squirrel attack on kids on bicycle? If there is no auto vs. bike risk in the bill, then what is the safety issue that the bill is looking to address?

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            resopmok January 14, 2011 at 12:49 am

            Technically speaking riding a bike can be a danger in and of itself because it requires one’s balance to remain upright, introducing an always present risk of falling over. This fall could result in a number of different injuries, and is what bicycle helmets are actually designed to protect your skull from (which falls the farthest distance). Death is not very likely, I think (but I don’t have any scientific evidence to back it up, just common sense), but it could happen in a number freak ways I suppose. Falling onto a sharp protrusion, snapping your neck by falling just the right way, falling off an overpass or bridge, etc. This doesn’t account for trailers though, which are stable on their own, assuming the child does not try climbing out of it while in motion. Anyway, Greenlick doesn’t care, because if it saves the life of one child..

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          adam January 20, 2011 at 7:27 am

          how do you not get censured? I can barely type two words without being banned…yet you can speak all this nonsense and no one minds?

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    • tonyt
      tonyt January 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      Jackattack there are a couple reasons I believe Mia is bringing up cars and I don’t think any of them are about being anti-car.

      First, bringing up cars and their danger to children addresses what is allegedly the guy’s primary motivation, preventing injury/death of children. If indeed he is motivated by safety concerns, banning children from riding in cars would be his best bet. It’s the leading cause of death of children.

      BUT, and here’s the second reason, NOBODY would ever suggest this law, despite its apparent logic, because it is political suicide. People need to get their kids around and view the car as THE way to do that. The car is the default state in our culture. Yet somehow, Greenlick has no problem proposing to ban parents from transporting their kids by bike. There’s an double standard here. He obviously views the car as the normal and acceptable form of transportation and bikes as some sort of luxury or optional mode that can be rendered illegal with little political risk.

      He’s wrong.

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        Jackattak January 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm

        I’ll be completely upfront and honest: I’m pretty freaking anti-car. Knowing that, I try to keep my language on a level when I’m speaking with people who might drive from time to time (or always). I don’t care if Mia is anti-car. I just think that the only way we’re going to get anywhere is by keeping the anti-car and “us vs. them” rhetoric out of our dealings with the masses.

        P.S. – This shouldn’t be seen as or read as doing one thing and saying another, by the way. As much as I’m anti-car, I don’t do anything to act on that. I understand that’s futile and that we’re going to have work together. It’s just that cars could all vanish one day and I’d be perfectly fine with that. 🙂

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      are January 13, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      if the leading cause of death among children by a huge factor was papercuts and mia birk had pointed this out saying we would be better off making it illegal to allow children to handle paper, would you say she was framing this as a bikes versus paper issue?

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        Jackattak January 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm

        Of course I wouldn’t. Paper doesn’t pose any threat to vulnerable road users and doesn’t complain about people on bikes in the streets.

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    Mele January 13, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Well said!

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    Wayne January 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Succintly and intelligently composed. Thank you Mia. I would also add that in the past several months this forum has matured into a platform for (mostly) informed and civil discussions of topics important to more than just the cycling communty. Thank you Jonathan, keep it coming.

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    Alan January 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    I find no shame in Mia’s letter, I’m very pleased to see it, but Jackattack does point out that there is an opportunity to better frame the discussion, even if we bicyclists were put on the defensive by HB2228. That’s a prime example of why Greenlicker’s excuse of “promoting discussion” is so poorly considered.

    Other ways to frame it that are not ‘car v. bike’:

    Education on safe child transport.
    Pros and cons.
    Bicycles in a total transportation picture (and environment, health, national security, etc).
    Calming effect of bikes on streets.
    Placing responsibility with the aggressors.

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    Paul Tay January 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Instead of vetting proposals in public and catching heat, isn’t there an Oregon State Bicycle Advisory Committee to figure it out, before all of us wiseguys chime in for the slamdunk?

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      matt picio January 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      If the Oregon state legislature started consulting the state Bicycle Advisory Committee before introducing legislation, that would be an awesome and unprecedented event – and a great use of existing resources.

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        resopmok January 14, 2011 at 12:52 am

        I mean, god forbid one should use the resources available to make educated, insightful and helpful legislation.

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    craig January 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Are there any statistics at all about collisions involving kids in bike trailers/carriers? I have never once read a news story about an incident of this type.

    A Google search of news stories in the past year yields nothing.

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      Michweek January 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm

      Here’s a personal experience and observation. My dad rode too close to a curb and ended up dumbing my Brother and I on our sides. It sucked cause I was about 5 years at the time and my brother fell on top of me. But that’s all, no car, just everyone falling off the curb. We were okay. We didn’t make the news sadly, it would have been humorous though.

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      craig January 14, 2011 at 9:19 am

      Google News Search yields nothing in the past 12 months

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      Ian Cooper January 14, 2011 at 9:43 am

      The only one I can find is this, from 2 1/2 years ago:

      http://www.startribune.com/local/27320749.html

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    Tomas Quinones January 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I heart this woman.

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    Andrew Plambeck January 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Great letter. For the good of the order, Reps. Val Hoyle and Jules Bailey have both made known their opposition to this bill.

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      mabsf January 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm

      Well, I think that ‘Thank you’ notes to Reps Hoyle and Bailey are in order!

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    Ryan Good January 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Excellent letter. Thank you so much, Mia, for so eloquently articulating what many of us were thinking but were not able to put into words quite so artfully.

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    q`Tzal January 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Mia Birk showing how she can be much more effective as a hired gun than a civil servant!

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    Daniel Evans January 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    I think Mia did a wonderful job of illustrating why the bill should be withdrawn. And it is a fact that auto accidents kill kids. My wife is a teacher and has experienced the heartbreaking tragedy of a child on her way to school being killed in a car vs. car collision not 300 feet from the entrance.

    Mia learned early on in her experience as an advocate for bicycling that often controversial press is an ally to a progressive cause. It gathers attention to it, and too often it is apathy that is really our undoing.

    We should use this as a “teachable moment.” We can stress the huge benefits of active transportation, especially for children, and the need to provide infrastructure and education that keeps them safe and healthy.

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    Joe January 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Thanks to all.. Great News !

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    Loose Spokespeon January 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    If many people think biking is unsafe because of the lack of separate cycletracks and therefore do not bike, does it matter to biking numbers if biking actually is safe?

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    pdxmike January 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks Mia.

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    John I. January 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Hey everyone, Please don’t forget the other House Bill. While The one concerning children is ridiculous, I would hope it doesn’t distract attention away from 2602.

    I ride with phones, but never loud enough to endanger my life. I don’t need a law to practice common sense. I wouldn’t strap a blindfold on while commuting. Don’t need a law to tell me not to do that ether.

    While riding I am constantly aware of everything from the feel of the road to passing cars. More so than any motorist because the next passing driver could be the one that kills me. I know this and live by it.

    I could stand outside a car yelling at a motorist and not be heard over their car stereo.

    This Bill would be a painful dbl standard.

    “House Bill 2602, 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.”

    P.S. Mia Birk, your letter was perfect. Thank you.

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    q`Tzal January 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Jackattak
    I’m trying to get my head around how Rep. Greenlick opened the debate for “cars vs. bikes” based on this bill. Can you please be more specific? Because I am not seeing it and if there, that would change my mind, honestly.

    By specifically framing his amendment as a way to protect young children he is pulling on the most emotional and primal of fears. A quick google shows 1,170,000 results for “danger to children” and a mere 158,000 for “danger to women”.

    He then paints a scene in to the frame of fear where defenseless children are being run over by …. ? This is not explained.

    As said by

    valkraider
    How else could the bill be framed? What “safety risk” is there to be addressed in the bill if not that of automobiles driving over bicycles with kids?

    Seriously go out and watch cyclists as a bystander and record all mishaps that occur to cyclists due to outside forces. They can be summed up in three catagories: autos, pedestrians and surface conditions.

    Surface conditions of the sort needed to cause a bike trailer to catastrophically fail can be avoided easily. Surface conditions are also static and immobile.

    Pedestrians are more at risk of injury from a cyclist than the other way around.

    This leaves only autos. The only benefit for auto drivers is that there would be fewer slow cyclists on the road. For some drivers though this is a major concern – right up there with shelter and food. There is no expected benefit for cyclists or their <6 passengers because there is no history of his concern being rooted in reality.

    So I see this as an excuse to get slow cyclists off the road.
    Maybe he is trying to do the political equivalent of "suicide by cop" that I'll call "suicide by electorate", perhaps he doesn't just want to quit/retire. Maybe he wants to be forced out of office.

    And I love an honest and open debate. Especially when I’m wrong because it means I’ve learned something that day.

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      Jackattak January 13, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      Agreed on the open and honest debate. Hope nobody here thinks I’m coming across as a troll. I do have good intentions, here. 😉

      That all being said, I think you’re all reaching a bit. Yes, we can all see that the implications of the bill are clearly “bike vs. auto” since autos are our greatest threat while we’re on the road.

      People in cars who don’t ride bikes on the roads don’t see it that way and more than likely won’t get the connection and will point more readily toward Mia drawing the first blood. At least that’s what I fear.

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      adam January 16, 2011 at 11:28 am

      then debate me, I will teach you everything.

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        q`Tzal January 17, 2011 at 1:18 pm

        Sorry, I’ve already had a debate with a self professed know-it-all so if the math follows I already know everything;)

        Really I prefer this Douglas Adams quote on the population of the universe and how it pertains to implied intelligence: (warning – faulty mathematical reasoning follows)
        “It is known that there is an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.”

        It follows that with an infinite amount of information in the universe and a finite storage capacity (~3lb of squishy gray stuff) that the effective “everything” that any human can know is as close to zero as it really doesn’t matter.

        Conclusion: nobody knows anything.

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    Lance P January 13, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks you! Interested in Representing NW Portland. You would have many many votes 🙂

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    h January 13, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    It is kinda sad that Rep Greenlick is a professor and tried to propose a law based on that report… He would flunk a student for that… oh well…

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    Sean G January 13, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Outstanding letter, thank you Mia!

    As much as I respect his education and scientific bacground, the foundation of Rep. Greenlick’s credentials, it appears he is completely off the mark in both areas on this. His subsequent responses (including in an email to me from his staff) have done nothing to show any basis for this bill other than those expressed through this site… that is to say, nothing that stands up to common sense and reason.

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    Jim Lee January 13, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    John I:

    How do you know the level of your phones is “never loud enough to endanger my life?” There is no way to prove a negative.

    Your criterion is a pure solipsism, and you may be endangering me as I overtake on my stealth fixie.

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      John I. January 13, 2011 at 5:04 pm

      Sure, just don’t turn them up past 11. 😉
      Are you the guy in spandex that keeps passing me at night?

      Seriously, If you can’t reasonably hear your whats going on around you, you should consider turning them down.

      You know this because your not stupid. Just like you know not to ride into a wall. We don’t need a no riding into walls law to tell you that riding into walls is the wrong thing to do..

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    ME 2 January 13, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    3 cheers for Mia Birk. In addition to his heavy handed approach, the thing bothers me about Rep. Greenlick is the blase attitude he takes towards this own bill. Given the litany of legislative issues facing this state, is it really necessary to introduce a bill that would divert resources from the legislative docket for the sake of “starting a discussion?”

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    Jonathan January 13, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Riding by or behind bike trailers or (even worse) baby-car seats on handlebars always makes me wonder why a parent would take that kind of risk for their kid. And I only commute on Hawthorne, where there’s plenty of room. I don’t know that it qualifies as inherently dangerous, and I don’t care about the comparison to cars, but to act like it’s not a somewhat risky activity is to put on blinders. There’s a huge difference (IMHO) between a bike commuter taking those risks, and a bike commuter opening up a little kid to the risks.

    Or to put it another way, yesterday I saw what I assume was a bike messenger, going South on Fifth, with a Bridge City box (presumably of documents) on his handlebars; if there had been a baby?!?

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      Ian Cooper January 17, 2011 at 11:44 am

      There is literally no more ‘risk’ in putting a kid in a bike trailer than there is strapping him into a car seat. Why must people always behave as if we’re engaging in a deadly activity tantamount to putting a kid on the front lines of the ‘War on Terror’ when the facts show that there are many activities that people expose their children to that are far more dangerous. For example, crossing the street.

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    eli bishop January 13, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Thank you, Mia!

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    Allan Folz January 13, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Here’s the response I received from my letter (http://bikeportland.org/2011/01/12/rep-greenlick-says-safety-concerns-prompted-child-biking-bill-45890#comment-1703185) to Rep. Greenlick’s office. My answer is below. If he wants to converse about bicycle safety, let us discuss elderly drivers!

    On Thu, 13 Jan 2011 12:15:33 -0800, “Rep Greenlick” wrote:
    > Mr. Folz,
    >
    > Thank you for writing to express your concerns about HB 2228. Our
    > goal in introducing this legislation was to start a conversation about
    > the safety of children when riding as passengers on bicycles and we
    > welcome and encourage any input from the community that furthers that
    > conversation. Attached is a statement from Rep. Greenlick that will
    > hopefully address some of your concerns.
    >
    >
    > Regards,
    >
    > Justin Freeman, Legislative Assistant
    > State Representative Mitch Greenlick

    Mr. Freeman,

    With all due respect, Representative Greenlick picked a rather insulting way to start a conversation.

    What would be his reaction if in response to the elderly driver that killed a toddler in North Portland a couple months ago (see http://northportland.katu.com/content/toddler-struck-car-dies-his-injuries) someone proposed all people over the age of 70 be banned from driving?

    However, in the interest of conversation let me be clear the risks to children are from _motor vehicle operators_. Any serious safety proposal needs to address the actions of motor vehicle operators first and foremost. As I suggested in my original email, one such proposal would be regular and rigorous health, cognition, and reflex testing of elderly drivers. As Rep. Greenlick himself could qualify an elderly driver, depending on the definitions, I look forward to hearing his feelings on the issue.

    Sincerely,
    Allan Folz
    Portland, OR

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    mabsf January 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    PS: Thanks Mia for the great letter!

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    Paul Tay January 13, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Meee thinks da Prof’s learning a harsh lesson in politics. The State Capitol is not a classroom for exploration of ideas, submitted to start “discussions.”

    But, don’t let us wiseguys stomp on new ideas. Just pitch them to a small group of geniuses first, and in private, before scaring us all to death, with more proposals limiting the freedom of the bike.

    PDX bikies are kinda like gun owners in Arizona and Oklahoma…..Only over our cold dead hands.

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    nuovorecord January 13, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    FYI…bills cannot be “withdrawn.” But, they can die a cold, lonely death. 🙂

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    Joe Rowe January 13, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Thanks Mia. You forgot to ask everyone to write in too.

    I do not believe Greenlick’s “good intentions” game. Firing hostile and shallow help from the hip is lazy or insane. It’s not starting a dialog. He’s a provocateur.

    Martin Luther King Day is 4 days away. MLK said: “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. ”

    Bike hate from bike haters is less oppressive than when it comes from people who claim they want to help.

    The discrimination that cyclists face is only a tiny fraction of what’s been experienced by African Americans. We have something to learn from how that oppression has gone from visible racism to less visible systematic racism.

    People fighting for rights of any kind need to be active as individuals more than ever before in history.

    Apathy of the individual is why we’re a country who has tortured, cut education, cut human support services and put war, oil and highways above all ethics. Silence is rewarded in America.

    Please, email, write or call your Salem House Rep ASAP.
    http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/

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    Opus the Poet January 13, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    It’s a known fact that the number one killer of humans aged 6-35 is motor vehicle wreck. from birth through 5 motor vehicles are the number 2 killer, the article I read was about motor vehicle deaths and did not say what the #1 for 0-5 was. But seriously, death from disease doesn’t even crack the top 5 until after 40 when all those years of hard living starts catching up with the people that didn’t take moderate care of themselves when they were young.

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    Evan January 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    My email from yesterday to Representative Greenlick:

    Representative Greenlick-

    I’m a little concerned about your proposed bill. Can you please enlighten me regarding the need to make this law?

    If a child under the age of six can ride his or her own bicycle, what reason is there to prohibit that same child from riding in a child seat, on the back seat of a tandem, or in a trailer? Would children likewise be prohibited from riding in a pedicab?

    Some parents will exercise good judgment, some will not. I am not familiar with any evidence to show that putting a child on a bicycle or in a trailer behind a bicycle is so dangerous, relative to all the other activities that a child might participate in, that it must be prohibited by law. This seems like a Big Brother solution in search of a problem.

    Thank you in advance for your response.

    It would appear that Representative Greenlick thinks that the best way to “to improve the safety of bicycle transportation in Oregon” (quote from the very same response letter that I received from my inquiry) is to prohibit children from riding them.

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    dwainedibbly January 13, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Thank you, Mia!

    Another point that I haven’t heard made, yet, is that when riding with a child on the bike or in a trailer, I suspect that most people are even more careful than they are without the child. If the amended bill passes, that would be an interesting thing to include in the study.

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    Ian Cooper January 14, 2011 at 6:52 am

    He won’t withdraw the bill because in the end, it seems to me, this bill is not about child safety. It’s about Rep. Greenlick’s fear of hurting kids during an accident. As such, the actual incidence of accidents is irrelevant. For the bill to be relevant in Rep. Greenlick’s eyes, the only requirement is that an accident ‘can’ happen.

    In my opinion, this bill is all about a 75 year-old’s fear that his age may be impairing his driving ability. The bill allows him to keep driving without fear of injuring or killing a child due to age-related impairment.

    If Rep. Greenlick rode a bike, it might assure me that he might have had some actual safety concerns about trailers, and that the bill was merely a mistake based on a misreading of recent bike safety studies. However, a glance at his Wikipedia entry shows that this guy probably couldn’t even get onto a bike, let alone ride it.

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      wsbob January 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm

      “… In my opinion, this bill is all about a 75 year-old’s fear that his age may be impairing his driving ability. …” Ian Cooper

      There are plenty drivers on the road 75 years of age….and older…that are far, far better, and safer driver than those that are in their teens, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, etc., etc. . Can advanced aged be a factor in declining driving ability? Yes. Is that the key reason Greenlick sponsored bill proposal 2228? I would say that’s preposterous.

      “… However, a glance at his Wikipedia entry shows that this guy probably couldn’t even get onto a bike, let alone ride it. …” Ian Cooper

      What it it about the Wiki entry do you imagine, shows that Greenlick “… couldn’t even get onto a bike, let alone ride it.”? If it’s relatively current, the head and shoulders picture Maus ran in his other story about Greenlick and the bill proposal, suggests Greenlick is a healthy person that may very well ride a bike. Do you know for a fact, that he does or doesn’t ride a bike?

      Inferences like this one that you, and certain other commenters to bikeportland have made toward Rep. Greenlick, because of his sponsoring of HB proposal 2228, are simply mean, uninformed and uncalled for.

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    Kt January 14, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Great letter, Mia. You should send this as a letter to the editor of the Oregonian.

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    Bob January 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Ride on, Mia!!!

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    Steve B January 14, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Outstanding work, Mia! Thanks for helping us all understand this issue better.

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    Ian Cooper January 14, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    wsbob
    Inferences like this one that you, and certain other commenters to bikeportland have made toward Rep. Greenlick, because of his sponsoring of HB proposal 2228, are simply mean, uninformed and uncalled for.

    Kinda like his bill then. I’d call it even, except for the fact that my comments only exist on a blog, while his bill is still under consideration.

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      wsbob January 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm

      The low inferences in your comment; suggesting Greenlick’s age was the reason he sponsored the bill, and your other unspecified allusion to Greenlick’s wikipedia page entry do not even begin to rise to whatever integrity Greenlick’s sponsorship of bill 2228 has behind it. But you’re not alone; plenty other commenters in their criticism of of Rep. Greenlick and HB 2228, have been similarly, if not worse, in terms of being simply mean, uninformed and uncalled for.

      That’s not the way to sustain constructive dialogue on controversial subjects. It’s fine to tell people in no uncertain terms that they’re off the mark, or that what their intentions are, have not been made clear in statements to the public, if that is the situation at hand.

      Whatever is eventually the fate of HB 2228 that Rep. Greenlick has sponsored, his effort has definitely brought to the forefront of people’s attention, the important subject of children’s safety when being transported by bike and bike trailer.

      In a civil manner, he’s responded to requests from members of the public to clarify his sponsorship of the bill. He’s also shown a willingness to alter the content and focus of the bill, and an interest in hearing constructive, practical suggestions and advice from the public about how to improve safety for kids being transported by bike and bike trailer.

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    Ian Cooper January 14, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    wsbob
    He’s also shown a willingness to alter the content and focus of the bill, and an interest in hearing constructive, practical suggestions and advice from the public about how to improve safety for kids being transported by bike and bike trailer.

    The problem is, there’s no evidence that riding in a bike trailer is unsafe, and while he has expressed willingness to change the focus of his bill, he has yet to do so.

    And I wouldn’t call his response ‘civil’ when his whole attitude has been to suggest that cycling is inherently unsafe. Doing so effectively calls me, and every other parent who pulls their kid around on a bike trailer, a bad parent.

    Not only that, but his bill actually endangers children’s lives, as it forces them out of trailers and onto separate bikes. So not only is he calling me a bad parent, but he’s trying to get my kid killed. I’m sorry that you don’t like the way I’ve responded, but when someone is trying to endanger my child’s life, I’m not going to be nice.

    If he wants to be civil, and to really make an effort to do the right thing, he needs to withdraw this stupid and dangerous bill.

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    Fred Ollinger January 15, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Why either or?

    If we are going to buy into this debate on safety, and many people seem to be doing so, and we allow ourselves to think rationally and logically, this will only lead us to one place: that we only allow parents to WALK with their children in a government approved stroller so the poor child doesn’t fall at all.

    Also, there should be helmet for children learning to walk and especially on stairs.

    Finally, swimming pools in the home should be banned as they are an extreme risk to children.

    I’m not agreeing to any of this (or not); I’m just following the logic as it is presented by both sides.

    I prefer to live my life to the fullest and not to think of buzz kills like safety or risk at all. Leave that to the statisticians and insurance companies. 🙂

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    eileen January 16, 2011 at 2:24 am

    Relax kiddos, there is no real threat here. Do you know how many bills get sponsored every year? Just because one dumbass who was lucky enough to be elected in one small corner of the state has a lame idea, doesn’t mean it’s even close to becoming a law.

    http://www.leg.state.or.us/kids/process.htm

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      Ian Cooper January 16, 2011 at 4:36 am

      Well, his lame idea is a lot closer to becoming law than any lame idea I have. And I’m not presenting my lame idea to a bunch of folks who might be convinced it’s a good one. After all, how many congresspeople use a bicycle? If they don’t cycle, chances are, they think cycling is about as safe as skydiving. Would you send a 6 year-old child skydiving? If there were a bunch of people putting 5 year-olds in parachutes and dropping them out of aircraft, wouldn’t you be happy if someone proposed a law to stop them?

      And if we weren’t making a stink out of this, who would stop it from being passed? We’ve seen pretty clearly what the average Joe thinks about putting a kid in a bike trailer. He’s against it, because, once again, cycling = skydiving.

      Trust me – we’re the only people who know that this is a stupid law. Everyone else thinks it’s perfectly sane and best for our kids.

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    9watts January 16, 2011 at 9:33 am

    As some have pointed out here, they pay even more attention to traffic/act more cautiously when they are riding with their kid in a trailer or on the bike. So perhaps we should get Jules Bailey to counter-propose a law that *requires* everyone to ride with a kid in tow. Borrowing one of the tenets of the naked bike ride, having all folks on bicycles ride with a kid would arguably increase the safety for all. It would highlight the vulnerability of bicyclists in general. Automobilists might think twice about making a right hook, passing too close, etc. if we all always were riding with a kid.

    A few years ago some clever legislator tried to “ban the sale of live mammals, birds, fowl, reptiles and amphibians in San Francisco.” The idea was to crack down on the practices in the Chinese American community (seen by animal rights folk as inhumane) of butchering your own animals. Some wag proposed that rather than outlawing the practice we should require everyone to butcher their own animals, rather than hiding the practice in slaughter houses.
    http://tinyurl.com/live-animal-sale

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    Ian Cooper January 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    resopmok
    Technically speaking riding a bike can be a danger in and of itself because it requires one’s balance to remain upright, introducing an always present risk of falling over…

    Going by that logic, walking is ‘dangerous’ and I suppose a representative could be defended on those grounds if he penned a bill that prevented young children from riding in strollers.

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