UPDATE: We have learned from the BTA that the entire text of the bill is just a placeholder that Sen. Burdick plans to swap out for different language. According to the BTA, Burdick plans to address the issue of rolling through an intersection when the light does not have a bike sensor and/or fails to turn when a bicycle is present. We’ll share more as soon as possible and we regret the false alarm.
“Permits person operating bicycle to enter intersection with specified traffic control device without stopping, provided that person… slows to safe speed and yields right of way to traffic or pedestrians.”
— text from SB 604
The “Idaho Stop” law just rolled back into Oregon… Our friends at We Bike Eugene have tipped us off to an interesting development in the 2011 Oregon Legislative Session. Senator Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) is sponsoring Senate Bill 604, which would permit a person operating a bicycle to enter an intersection under certain circumstances without stopping, “provided that… bicycle slows to safe speed and yields right of way to traffic or pedestrians.”
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) tried to pass a similar bill in 2009, but the effort was marked by several fumbles (including initial opposition from Eugene and the firing of the bill’s chief architect, BTA lobbyist Karl Rohde) and some harsh treatment in the media that ultimately led to its demise.
SB 604 would allow bicycles to roll through intersections controlled by either stop signs or flashing red signals (note: not red lights). In addition, the bill would create two new traffic violations if a bicycle operator rolled through an intersection without adhering to the provisions stated below (both new violations would come with a $360 fine). See the salient bits of the bill text below (the bill language is the same for flashing red signals) :
“A person operating a bicycle who is approaching an intersection where traffic is controlled by a stop sign may, without violating ORS 811.265, do any of the following without stopping if the person slows the bicycle to a safe speed:
(a) Proceed through the intersection.
(b) Make a right or left turn into a two-way street.
(c) Make a right or left turn into a one-way street in the direction of traffic upon the one-way street.
(2) A person commits the offense of improper entry into an intersection where traffic is controlled by a stop sign if the person does any of the following while proceeding as described in subsection (1) of this section:
(a) Fails to yield the right of way to traffic lawfully within the intersection or approaching so close as to constitute an immediate hazard;
(b) Disobeys the directions of a police officer;
(c) Fails to exercise care to avoid an accident; or
(d) Fails to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in an intersection or crosswalk under ORS 811.028.”
of the committee this bill will go through.
SB 604 will likely go through the Senate Business and Transportation and Economic Development Committee. Sen. Burdick is on that committee and Senator Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point) is the Vice-Chair. Burdick is a former BTA Alice Award Winner and Atkinson (Vice-Chair of the committee) is a former bike racer and supporter of many bike bills in the past.
It’s not yet clear what motivated Sen. Burdick to sponsor this bill. Is she just responding to a constituent’s request to float the idea? Is she simply trying to “start a dialogue”? Or, maybe Burdick is looking to win some points after she single-handedly killed the fixed-gear brake bill back in 2007.
Read the full text of SB 604 here and stay tuned for more coverage.
— Brush up on our past coverage by browsing our “Idaho Stop Law” story tag. I’ve also pasted the excellent animated explanation of the bill done by Spencer Boomhower.
UPDATE: Here’s a message BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky just sent to a local email list:
“As you may have heard by now, Sen. Burdick has introduced the Idaho Stop Bill as SB604. Before folks get too excited, we are trying to figure out with our lobbyist if this bill is being introduced as a serious bill or if there are other agendas behind the bill. Typically a bill like this gathers supporters before being introduced if it has an intent to pass. We are kindly asking folks to not take action at this point such as calling legislators until we find out more. We need to do a full reading of bill and analyze it. It has some steep fines in it for example. Our legislative committee will need to address this as well. We’ll do our best to keep all informed along the way. Thanks.”