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Effort to ban studded tires moves forward: Signature gathering to start soon

Posted by on January 27th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Jeff Bernards

Portlander Jeff Bernards, a well-known citizen activist who started the “Get Lit” free bike light program and who won a BTA Alice Award in 2006, has made major progress since we last checked in on his effort to ban studded tires in Oregon.

Bernards is chief petitioner on a forthcoming ballot measure and is the force behind the “Preserving Oregon Roads” campaign. Bernards told us this morning that he has filed with the Oregon Secretary of State and he expects to begin the initial signature-gathering process in the next few weeks. By mid-March, he and his team expect to begin the long road toward gathering the 80,000 signatures he’ll need to get a measure on the November 2012 ballot.

Bernards feels strongly that studded tires are simply not needed and that the extreme damage they cause to Oregon roads is an expense we can’t afford. “It’s pretty simple. We’re broke as a state and we can’t afford to spend millions repairing our vital infrastructure.”

“It’s pretty simple. We’re broke as a state and we can’t afford to spend millions repairing our vital infrastructure.”
— Jeff Bernards

The Oregon Department of Transportation estimates that studded tires cause about $75 million in road damage each year. Meanwhile, ODOT devotes about $11 million a year to fix that damage. In a budget where money for transportation (especially non-motorized) is extremely limited, it’s in all our best interests to spend it wisely.

Studded tires don’t only impact ODOT’s budget, they also have a major impact on the quality of our bikeways. How often have you crossed a big arterial street while riding your bike and felt the bumps and ruts they cause? How about those colored bike boxes and bike lane stripes being worn down prematurely?

Efforts to ban or tax studded tires have come up before in the state legislature, but so far every effort has failed. This session, another attempt is afoot. House Bill 2333 would prohibit use of studded tires in Oregon. Bernards is aware of that bill and says if it passes he’ll give up his petition effort; but he’s not holding his breath.

“History has shown that state legislators haven’t been able to pass a ban, or even a tax on studded tires. They’ve tried three or four times.”

To help with his petition efforts, Bernards has hired Portland-based signature-gathering consulting firm Democracy Resources. Bernards has also invested a significant amount of his own money into the effort.

Bernards says his effort is just as much about education the public about the issue as it is about the actual ban. “The truth that nobody really understands is that alternatives to studded tires actually perform just as well if not better in almost all conditions.”

“This is about protecting taxpayer dollars and a vital resource,” he says, “Our food comes down those roads, so it’s in our best interest to protect them.”

— To volunteer or learn more about the campaign visit PreservingOregonsRoads.org. Download a FAQ on the issue here (PDF). Browse our past coverage in the archives.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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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sabernar
Guest
sabernar

Yay! Go Jeff!

Peter O.
Guest
Peter O.

Ill sign this one in a heartbeat. Just need to when and where, Ill even bring friends.

Allan
Guest
Allan

If this makes it on the ballot, what are the odds of passing? I’m guessing the majority of oregonians love saving money and don’t have studs, but is this predicted to pass assuming 80k signatures?

Alan
Guest
Alan

What about studded bicycle tires?

And more seriously, I’m puzzled by the commitment some show to banning studded tires. The studies I’ve seen indicate that they make a modest contribution to road wear (when you consider the 100,000’s of vehicles that use them) while they contribute to the safety of vehicles that travel icy roads. A tax commensurate with their additional wear would be fine, but several items are higher priorities on my list of road destroyers.

How about a law requiring those who dig up the roads to re-surface relatively smoothly?

Sean G
Guest

This is great news, good luck with the signature gathering. The road to ballot passage I imagine is a long one, with well-funded interests on the NO side, and a public already prone to “defend” against “assaults” on people’s “rights.”

Dolan Halbrook
Guest

@Alan

Your argument would be much more valid if studless snow tires didn’t exist as viable alternatives.

I think this is more about banning the sale of new studded tires, not the use of them, though unfortunately that would just cause people to get them from out of state.

Zach
Guest
Zach

Les Schwab isn’t particularly active politically (at least not in public), but it’s a massive, wealthy company the probably sells half of the studded tires in this state.

Even if this idea gets off the ground, it will be powerfully smacked down.

michweek
Guest
michweek

The ban of studded tires is also a safety concern. Tires with studs have significatly LESS traction on simply wet roads as compared to studless tires. Users of studs dont install and remove their tires when they see snow, they are generally installed for the duration of the “stud season”. This leaves average drivers with studs more exposed to traction issues than those without.

Jesse
Guest
Jesse

Great, so now the 85 year old woman down the street will be keeping chains on her daily driver November through April…

suburban
Guest
suburban

I ride with my studded tires when it looks icy in the mornings, or occasionally in Forest Park.

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

Banning sales of studded tires in, say, the Portland metro area and the Willamette Valley seems more reasonable and less controversial that banning them statewide. It seems to me that the cost/benefit calculation is probably significantly different in Pendleton, say, compared to Portland.

Dolan Halbrook
Guest

One possibility is to use the money saved from not having to repair the roads more often to subsidize trade-ins of studded snow tires for studless snow tires, at least for a while (say, three years). This would go a long way towards mitigating the complaints for those who actually need studded tires and don’t want to replace their existing ones for cost reasons. It would defer any savings, but it would give the bill a much better chance of passing IMHO.

Samuel Stumbo
Guest

I can agree with Alex. I live in Bend and ride year round. I feel much safer riding with studs myself and I certainly feel better when motorists are not slipping all around me. Would this bill effect cyclists using studded tires?

Dolan Halbrook
Guest

I’m pretty sure Alex was joking about studded bike tires. You’d have to ride about a million years over the same patch of ground on a studded bike tires to actually cause some damage, so unless someone is feeling particularly dense I’m pretty sure it would only affect heavy vehicles.

FWIW, if drivers in Minnesota can cope without studded tires, then we probably can too.

esther c
Guest
esther c

Studless snow tires have amazing traction. I have driven to and from work on a solid sheet of ice. The most dangerous part of the drive was walking to and from the car.

I put them on at Thanksgiving and take them off mid March unless I think I’ll be up in the mountains or we’re expecting late snow.

http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tests/testDisplay.jsp?ttid=94

Interestingly enough, the ruts left in the ice by the studded tires made driving more dangerous.

jim
Guest
jim

what if we have studded tires by permit only, the cost of the permit would go back to repairing the roads.

John_in_NH
Guest

I may have missed it… but would this affect Bicycle and car studded tires uniformly? I personally don’t think either one is really needed… even in the worst conditions I have no real trouble on my bike, however is a ban going to be effective? How about the cost for enforcement…? (I doubt it would come close to 75+million, but idk…)

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I would strongly disagree with michweek’s argument that studded tires have significantly less traction on bare (whether wet or dry) pavement than non-studded. I’ve owned many sets of both studded and non-studded winter tires over the years, and I have found that the presence of studs makes absolutely no difference in their grip on wet pavement. That may have been true back in the 70s, but not in the past two decades, where the tires’ stud pockets are designed to allow the stud to be pushed back into the tire by the car’s weight, so that it just barely sticks out past the rubber (though still enough to grab the ice). I’ve heard this argument many times over the years, and I find it to be simply untrue.

That said, I haven’t owned studded tires in many years. The newer studless winter tires, while (ahem!) still not QUITE as good as studs, are fantastically better on the ice than ordinary “all season” tires, and I’ve found them to be more than good enough for my needs living in the Valley and hitting the snow occasionally.

Still, if I lived east of the Cascades and had to drive on ice daily, I might well still get studs. I sure wouldn’t want them banned. The better solution is a TAX on studded tires: $40/tire would more than cover the damage they cause, and would deter most people from getting them unless they truly need them.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Also, as a fellow native Minnesotan like Roma, I can assure you that winter conditions are FAR different there. Nearly all Midwestern and northeastern states banned them back in the 70s (shortly after they initially became popular), while ALL western states have continued to allow them.

In the northwest have (1) big mountains with long continuous grades, (2) heavy snowfall in temperatures close to freezing, which is MUCH more treacherous cold dry snow, (3) poorer snow clearing. Not only due to fewer plows, but with only 50″ of snow per year, it’s relatively rare for Minnesota to have big dumps of 1-2″ per hour, which is faster than plows can keep up with; on our mountain passes, those rates of snowfall are common, and (4) we have drivers here who are less experienced driving in the snow.

Scott Ninneman
Guest
Scott Ninneman

Instead of an outright ban on studded tires why not have a fee similar to snow day parking permits used on Mt Hood for a short period of time (let’s say one or two weeks), giving the permit owner the right to drive with studded tires. Let’s face it, the amount of snow we have is pretty minimal here in Portland and lasts typically one day before melting off. I’ve lived here for 57 years and seen many winters with next to nothing for snow just like this winter so far. So, a two week window of use is pretty liberal given the circumstances. People can choose to get new permits if they so choose throughout the same season as the current law allows. But if they are caught driving without a valid permit there should be a very healthy fine. Since studded tires are the number one cause of premature road wear i.e. ruts, it only makes sense that the people who use them should be the ones who pay the most for the huge cost of road repairs every spring. What do you think?

velo
Guest
velo

sabernar
Most states ban studded tires. Even northern states. Minnesota, for example, bans them. There’s no reason why Oregon would need them when a state like Minnesota doesn’t.

Minnesota does ban studded tires, I currently live there, and people still manage to drive in the winter. Good non-studded snow tires certainly exist and work well. A studded tire ban is overdue. Toss on your chains when you really need them, drive with regular tires the rest of the time.

If Oregon is going to ban studded tires the state needs to consider that most states that ban studs spend significantly more on plowing and salting. This is worthwhile, but it needs to be taken into consideration.

I’d carve out an exception for studded tires on bicycles. A 150-200lbs bicycle-vehicle with studs isn’t exactly tearing up roads. As a 12 month a year bike commuter in Minnesota studs are critical. This wasn’t a huge issue when I lived in Portland, but there were days when it would have been nice to have studs. Given that a bike with studs does very will if any damage to a road it only makes sense for them to not be covered. Carving out an exception might seems unneeded, but I think it makes sense given the the major differences in the harm caused.

On balance though I’d love to see a ban on studs pass.

Steve Brown
Guest

A higher tax on the tires is needed as well as responsible use. If you keep them on a seperate set of wheels it is no big deal to put them on the 4-5 days a year it might snow.

Joe
Guest
Joe

YAY ! thank you. some roads just bad, water collectors, and hazard’s. my question is why are ppl still driving with them?

Joe
Guest
Joe

guys if ppl just slowed down and watched how they drive we all would be much better off. speed kills

mary
Guest
mary

Next weekend, we’ll enjoy the third annual ice-bike races at the Minneapolis City of Lakes Loppet (YouTube video of the 2009 races at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1c3K1iUkoc ). In 2009, most of the studded tires were home-made, but now there are huge racks of commercially-produced studded tires at local bike stores, and they’ve revolutionized winter cycling.

I ride on three wheels in the winter myself, having taken some spectacular falls on ice in the past. If I were younger, I’d join the crowds of Minneapolis winter cyclists riding on studded tires. There hasn’t been a day in the last two years — even with ice storms — when cyclists were absent from the streets.

So yes, ban studded tires on motor vehicles, but encourage them on bikes. Motorists with studded tires just drive faster, pressuring everyone to travel at unsafe speeds, while they tear up the roads. When we banned them in Minnesota, their proponents screamed that accident rates would climb. They didn’t. (We do have a history of dry, cold winters in Minnesota, but with winters often stretching from October to April, with occasional snow in September and May, we have plenty of time for all types of winter precipitation.)

john
Guest
john

Yeah ! Finally. It is just really bothersome to know the damage and millions of $$ going down the drain because of studded tires for the one or two days of snow or ice in pdx.

Now I would be for a possible compromise, where you can put them on one day prior to a snow event, but then would be required to take them off one day after. 10 minutes with the lug wrench !

But really, a front wheel drive car with all seasons is all one needs on snow. (with chains just in case). Thats all i have ever used on mt Hood.. I mean come one they gravel the road ! Now i, doing the speed limit, have been passed on mt hood by suvs going 75 to 80 mph on packed snow… Ok yes then you do probably need studs to stay on the road. Only Once, in 10 yrs here, did i need chains, but that was because i was driving a rwd pickup with no weight in the back (worst vehicle for snow by far ! ) cable chains took all of 4 minutes to put on. Highly reccomend the rubber donuts to keep the cables tight .

If you think you need studs, what you really need is a driving class !

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

“i have been passed on mt hood by suvs going 75 to 80 mph on packed snow…then you probably do need studs”

You’ve made an important point there. People who can afford the cost of those tires and the fuel for those vehicles combined with the cost of a family’s worth of lift tickets are not going to be inconvenienced by driving slowly just because of a little snow. The irony of that is the outcry that will surely ensue should we try to impose a tax on them particular to their habits.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Ten minutes with a lug wrench, John? You’re pretty amazing, man. Even with a hydraulic floor jack and a power drill, it takes me 35-40 minutes to switch all four. I believe even my record time is just over half an hour.

I don’t think you’re going to get anywhere requiring people to mount and remove the studs for a snow event. “One day before”? Are you serious? The weather forecasters can’t predict when it will snow here anyway?

Joe
Guest
Joe

some roads like speed bumps from the other direction
🙁 but we all know bikes dont cause damage 😉

Ron
Guest
Ron

Howdy–

The big ruts in most roads are from heavy vehicles, not studded snow tires. The damage is caused by the road surface being compressed, not dug up. It would be much uglier if it were the other way around.

Still, any unnecessary road damage should be discouraged. Personally, I would gladly have signed up for some of those fancy, winter-rated traction tires when I bought some studded tires last year, but the alternative wasn’t even presented. The sales staff at Les Schwab went straight for studded snows when I told them I needed tires to go into the mountains in winter.

I didn’t argue, because it’s been over a decade since I lived in the mountains. I’ve been in the desert for a while, so I hadn’t bought any snow tires, and I wasn’t aware of traction tires.

My point is that a little consumer education, especially at the point of purchase, could go a long way. The studies I’ve seen since (the last time this came up on Bike Portland, in fact) have pointed out my error. I think there are many of us who would opt for road-saving tires given an informed choice.

Personally, I haven’t put my studded tires on this year, because I haven’t gone up into the mountains. Like most of you (I assume), I don’t drive much anyway. So these tires could last me forever, without doing much road damage. To my way of thinking, it’s a greater crime to relegate them to the landfill, only to tap another rubber tree for a fresh set of traction tires.

I’d be more likely to support this if it could grandfather in my old tires.
Happy Trails,
Ron Georg
Corvallis

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Why don’t we be fair and offer education on why studded tires are not needed and why the tires are more harm than good?
Then, in support of that whole freedom thing, we allow people to go on using them IF they pay for projected maintenance costs that will be caused by that tire at the weight of the purchaser’s registered vehicle?

The same group of people that don’t like the government telling them what to do also don’t like having to pay increased taxes to pay for some other person’s private decision.

RyNO Dan
Guest
RyNO Dan

I noticed on the TV news that washington county was salting the roads during the last storm. I was hesitant to believe what I was hearing. magnesium chloride.

Joe
Guest
Joe

same here they are not from heavy vehicles its studded tire wear grooves. I feel it and see it.

Dolan Halbrook
Guest

My personal take is that both heavy trucks AND studded tires cause damage. In fact, the most damage is likely from heavy vehicles combined with studded tires or chains.

In either case, the WSDOT is pretty conclusive about studded tires causing rutting. See: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/biz/mats/pavement/PavementsStuddedTiresFinalv2.pdf

“CONCLUSIONS
Studded tire usage has caused at least $18.2 million damage to concrete pavements as determined by
detailed rutting measurements. Damage may be similar, or much greater, for hot mix asphalt pavements,
but determination of that damage will have to wait until software can be modified to perform the analysis.”

Dolan Halbrook
Guest

Here is more detail from the study I linked to above:

“Studded tires damage hot mix asphalt and concrete pavements, wearing away the pavement and
eventually forming ruts on the pavement surface. This type of rut damage is called “raveling.” Raveling
on concrete pavements only comes from studded tire wear; raveling on hot mix asphalt comes primarily
from studded tire wear with a lesser portion coming from general tire wear.”

fredlf
Guest

Just curious, what’s the comparison of the cost of damage from studded tires compared to expenditures for bikeway improvements?

mike
Guest
mike

When the roads between me and work that range between 12 and 20% grade (not rare in the West Hills) are properly cleared of a week of freeze/thaw ice to allow me to get to work and avoid lost production I will then give up my studded tires. Chains help too, but once out of the hills, must be removed as the valley’s have usually melted.

Althouth studless work nearly as well, the one condition where they are inferior is on ice, on a hill. Hence, we have lots of studs in PDX.

What’s the cost of lost production for the whole metro over 4-5 days per year?

JR
Guest
JR

In Portland, the whole Metro area seems to shut down with even the threat of snow/ice. Having studded tires hasn’t really helped much because the roads are commonly blocked by drivers inexperienced with the occasional snowfall we get. Yet, the remaining 99% of the studded tire “season” we get studded tires tearing up the road. Seems like all road deterioration and virtually no benefit. Maybe drivers need to learn how to put on chains for those 10 days out of the year..

I have never signed initiatives before because I typically find them asinine. However, this one actually makes sense. I’m signing this.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

michweek
The ban of studded tires is also a safety concern. Tires with studs have significatly LESS traction on simply wet roads as compared to studless tires. Users of studs dont install and remove their tires when they see snow, they are generally installed for the duration of the “stud season”. This leaves average drivers with studs more exposed to traction issues than those without.

I have a pair of just all season radials, with my studs on in the rain I have more traction.

sorry

Brian
Guest
Brian

The article says “The truth that nobody really understands is that alternatives to studded tires actually perform just as well if not better in almost all conditions.” But when I follow the link to read the studies I see “The studded set of Altimax Arctic tires were clearly superior to any of the unstudded tires with noticeably better acceleration, braking and cornering traction.” My van is mainly used to haul the local high school ski team to the mountains on weekends. (I stick to my bike for commuting during the week.) I’m not yet convinced I should give up my studded tires.

Peter O.
Guest
Peter O.

On the flip side they do make hybrids easier to hear…

JM
Guest
JM

They have been banned in Canada for years, which says something. They actually get snow up there, often. The damage they cause is insane. I can’t believe how bad I84 looks in just a couple of months, the new pave job they did past Multnomah falls is already wearing out, how sad. If you drive south to Cali, you will notice right away how nice the roads are there compared to Oregon. I would attribute it to studded tires not being allowed there. Besides, let’s be honest, only lazy wussies use studs.

TM
Guest
TM

I agree that the Bridgestone Blizzaks are superior to studded tires. I have seen Subaru wagons climb steep snowy slopes (40 degrees, 8-10 inches) and not get stuck. I have seen a demonstration with studded tires vs Blizzaks on a skating rink, identical cars, non professional drivers. The Blizzaks were clearly superior.

The single biggest thing that drivers here in Oregon need to learn is that bald tires and snow are a very bad combination. The perceived advantage of studded tires is because of the deep tread compared to the more worn summer tires. Having driven in New England for over 25 years where snow is a way of life, a good all season tire with good tread depth is more than sufficient for 95% of driving conditions. The only time I have ever driven with tire cables was here in Oregon for a week because so many people drove with bald tires that the streets became ice rather than snow.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Blizzaks climb 40 degree slopes? Yowsa. I need some of those. I rarely even try to ski down a slope that steep.

JF
Guest
JF

I am sorry that you want to turn this into a Californian vs. Oregonian debate. Complaining about who you think are Californians causing winter driving problems in Oregon is not the answer. Thinking that it is only Californians who don’t know how to drive is ridiculous.

Don’t get me wrong, many of your comments are valid, but blaming CA as the cause of Oregons’s problems does not solve anything or provide any valuable insight.

For the topic at hand, there are plenty of people who put studded tires on their cars just because they can. They do not go to the mountain, they do not drive in snow regularly, but they do have studs on their car for the rare one or two days of snow we receive in PDX. In the mean-time, the roads are getting chewed up by people who do not utilize the tires as the tires were meant to be used.