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Salem Watch: Bike trailer bill gains a sponsor, but lacks support from bike advocates

Posted by on February 23rd, 2011 at 1:28 pm

“I won’t be signing on to the bill… It’s not clear to me that there is an urgent need for legislation right now…”
— Jules Bailey, Oregon House Representative

The bicycle trailer bill we told you about last week is now officially known as SB 846 (text). The language hasn’t changed much and the intent is still to have ODOT create a set of standards that all bicycle trailers sold in Oregon (intended for human occupancy) must adhere to, or else the seller could face civil action.

State Senator Floyd Prozanski says he proposed the bill to “improve safety for our kids.” He has called it “a much better approach” than House Bill 2228, the ill-advised idea to ban kids six and under from being carried on bicycles or being pulled in trailers proposed by fellow legislator Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland).

Judging from opinions on the bill we’ve heard so far, Prozanski will have a big job ahead of him garnering widespread support for his bill. Bike advocates in his own home town oppose the bill and the largest bike advocacy group in the state, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), is lukewarm on the idea. Senator Jackie Dingfelder has joined the three existing lawmakers — Tobias Read (D-Beaverton), Val Hoyle (D-Eugene), and Greenlick — as a sponsor of the bill; but House Rep. Jules Bailey, known for his bike-centric perspective, says he won’t be a sponsor of the bill.

Reached in Salem today, Bailey said, “I won’t be signing on to the bill… It’s not clear to me that there is an urgent need for legislation right now, and we have a lot of priorities to focus on, like job creation and balancing the budget.”

Shane MacRhodes, manager of the City of Eugene’s Safe Routes to School program, member of the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and father of three, says he opposes the bill. He provided the following input when asked by the City of Eugene to weigh in on it:

“It is a “solution” without a problem. Where is this “danger” of bad trailers causing harm? Legislation like this would make it seem like trailers are dangerous, I have not seen or heard anything that supports that. It’s restrictive and wouldn’t benefit our community in any way and might actually hinder us…”

MacRhodes is also concerned that ODOT, an agency he says “doesn’t understand cycling”, would be in a position to regulate the construction of bicycle trailers.

Eugene business owner Paul Moore also opposes the bill. Moore, who owns the Arriving by Bike bike shop, sent a letter to non-profit advocacy group, the Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARs) and cc’d Sen. Prozanski. Moore said,

“While offered with good intentions it opens the door wide for future revisiting of the ban on carrying children. Set the bar for trailer safety by way of an Oregon Administrative Rule adopted by ODOT and we have opened a Pandora’s box which may yield unpleasant surprises later.

…again we ought to be asking: What studies or statistics show that this legislation is needed?

BTA Advocacy Manager Gerik Kransky says his organization is “neutral” on SB 846. In an emailed statement sent to us today, Kransky wrote,

“The BTA is aware of safety standards in Europe and in the US regarding passengers in bike trailers, and we support increasing safety on the roadway for all users. However, it is not clear that there is a safety concern behind this bill. How many bike trailer crashes resulted in injury in the last year, or the last five years? We are concerned this may be an example of a solution looking for a problem. We would like to see research showing the need for safety improvements to bike trailers and perhaps a separate effort to study this issue.”

We’ll keep you posted on any developments with this bill. See more 2011 legislative coverage here. In other legislative news, a hearing has been scheduled for SB 344, which would give local jurisdictions the authority to lower speed limits on certain streets.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

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jim
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jim

There is no time to talk about child safety right now, they have more important things to discuss- like banning plastic bags…

matt picio
Guest

Thanks for pointing that out, Jim – plastic bags still kill 25 children per year due to suffocation despite a massive ad campaign warning parents. How many kids died in a bike trailer? (and of those, how many died due to a trailer’s faulty design?)

peejay
Guest
peejay

Matt:

I love it when you get all logic-ey. It’s so unfair, though.

Chas
Guest
Chas

The killing of this bill also opens up the door for the low-end trailers that currently don’t bother with safety standards to cut even more corners. We’ll revisit this issue later when necessary.

Opus the Poet
Guest

I don’t see that this is an issue, the CPSC currently has jurisdiction over bike trailers and could adopt the ATSM standards at any time. The crash standards only protect against rollover wrecks and are basically worthless in wrecks involving motor vehicles.

Dan Kaufman
Guest

Another solution in search of a problem. Meanwhile I’ll keep stumbling over ghost bikes, roadside grave markers and teddy bear shrines.

We have actual, verifiable, traffic safety issues, most have to do with massive metal vehicles crushing human beings. If you are not part of the solution to that then you are part of the problem.

Do you hear me Prozanski or should I have my family in Eugene fax you the message?

Mxjane
Guest
Mxjane

Didn’t Prozanski learn anything from the helmet fiasco? As a constituent, I’ll email today.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Set the bar for trailer safety by way of an Oregon Administrative Rule adopted by ODOT…” Paul Moore, Eugene business owner

What’s an Oregon Administrative Rule? Can it be used to require measures that would improve and make more consistent, the visibility of child carrying bike trailers to general road traffic? If so, what’s the process for doing that, including how long it would take to get rule content to that effect in place?

Depending on the answers to those questions, an Oregon Administrative Rule could be a better way than a new law, to go on this.

I’m willing to trust that he had the best interests of kids, cyclists, and road users in general in mind, but by sponsoring the rather preposterous earlier bill 2228, Greenlick may have missed the mark in striving for greater safety in child carrying by bike and in bike trailer. With better help from ‘the bike community’, he might have avoided that mishap, and come up with a better bill to sponsor that would have cut to the chase and made some real progress in providing a higher level of safety for the people that have to ride around in bike trailers.

Child carrying bike trailers are inherently dangerous…not from falling apart due to substandard design and construction standard, but from inadequate and inconsistent measures taken to make the trailers visible to general road traffic. Do people really want to make the occurrence of collisions be the condition for conceding that improvements in bike trailer visibility should be made? And that some kind of official measure is the best way to accomplish that improved visibility?

Jack
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Jack

Why don’t we just make a law that any trailer carrying people is required to have side and rear reflectors and a rear light if used at night? Reflectors and lights are cheap, easy and effective.

No trailer is going to provide protection against a multi-ton vehicle impact so we should be working to prevent collisions, not pretending we can reduce their effects.

Spiffy
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Spiffy

people already crash into other highly visible motor vehicles so I don’t think they’d be able to pass any visibility requirements that mattered…

I always have side and rear reflectors, and rear blinky lights… but I just recently put a flag on mine, just in case, and so I can fly the Jolly Roger…

Devin
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Devin

They can pull my trailer from my cold dead hands. I guess it is okay to talk on your cancer phone while smoking with your kids in a car, but not expose your kids to fresh air and exercise.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

Get back to work Salem. One of the reasons our economy is falling apart is the profit made in insurance and billing. We can get better care for everyone if we had a single payer system. It’s time for Oregon to save our state.

DK
Guest
DK

Cheers to House Rep Jules Bailey.

The other reps need to re-focus their energy in a big way!

wsbob
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wsbob

“…but House Rep. Jules Bailey, known for his bike-centric perspective, says he won’t be a sponsor of the bill.

Reached in Salem today, Bailey said, “I won’t be signing on to the bill… It’s not clear to me that there is an urgent need for legislation right now, and we have a lot of priorities to focus on, like job creation and balancing the budget.” …” bikeportland/maus

Whatever that has to do with helping biking and specifically, transporting kids by bike to be a safer means of transportation.

The three other people mentioned in the bikeportland story…Shane MacRhodes, Paul Moore, and BTA Advocacy Manager Gerik Kransky, fail to recognize merit in having a bike safety improvement related bill before the legislature. They express their feeling that the terms of SB 846’s bill proposal, do not address improvements that could be beneficial to kids being transported by bike trailer, yet they do not offer any suggestions or a counter proposal for a bill that would better accomplish greater safety by this means of transportation for kids.

Dan Kaufman
Guest

True, visibility is good but truly there is not a lot of structural solutions you can make directly to bicycles and pedestrians to change their vulnerability around motor-vehicles.

Let’s target the cause of the safety issue (cars, trucks, and road design) not the victims (cyclists, peds, AND motorists). Doesn’t that make more sense?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

The safety that bike trailers are capable of providing the kids obliged to ride in them, is what the bill addresses, not structural solutions to bikes and pedestrians.

Inherent hazards posed to vulnerable road users traveling the road amongst motor vehicles is and has been a recognized issue to which ongoing efforts are made to counter those hazards. Remedies for those hazards in the form of road and infrastructure redesign and new construction can take millions…billions of dollars and decades to achieve.

Meanwhile, here’s a bill, to which the effort behind it seems to be saying ‘Let’s take steps to insure that bike trailers…an increasingly used form of child transport…are consistently providing the best, most reasonable protection to the kids having to ride in them’. This is an effort, that…with some help from Oregon citizens in general and bike advocates, could possibly achieve some improvement to child safety in a relatively short period of time and for not a ton of money.

Dan Kaufman
Guest

What do you propose for bike seats and baskets? Air bags? Bubble wrap?

This is bad approach.

wtfBob, are you aware of any of this type of legislation in the Netherlands? I, frankly, doubt you will find any but I can tell you that bicycle/ped safety is much higher there even though the kids often travel helmetless and unstrapped in baskets (oh, the horror!) .

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

I have to agree that it’s a solution without a problem… and even if there was a problem it’s the wrong solution, because it’s the solution they currently use for motor vehicles…

they aren’t trying to prevent crashes, they’re trying to make it safer to crash, which gives everybody the false sense of safety we’ve seen in the automobile industry…

we should not be making people feel safe about crashing…

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…they aren’t trying to prevent crashes, they’re trying to make it safer to crash, which gives everybody the false sense of safety we’ve seen in the automobile industry…

we should not be making people feel safe about crashing…:” Spiffy

Who is ‘they’? Can you honestly suggest it’s reasonably possible to entirely eliminate collisions amongst road user vehicles? If it’s accepted that despite serious efforts to eliminate collisions entirely, a certain number of accidents are nonetheless inevitable, is it unwise to build vehicles that provide protection to those riding in them?

With the increase in ‘whiz-bang-gizmo’ technology…such as air bags and side impact panels that modern motor vehicles are equipped with, do people really feel safe about crashing? I very much doubt that. Generally, collisions are something almost all people want to avoid. Impact and visibility technology offered in motor vehicles, offers people a greater margin of possibility that they might survive or avoid injury in the event they’re so unfortunate as to be involved in a collision.

Shouldn’t kids riding in bike trailers also benefit from efforts to make their mode of transport safer from other vehicles on the road, to avoid, or in the event of a collision? If the Prozanski/Greenlick bill isn’t exactly on that mark, it’s at least in a position that invites discussion and suggestions that could help to improve the safety of bike trailers to kids riding in them.

Atbman
Guest
Atbman

wsbob
Shouldn’t kids riding in bike trailers also benefit from efforts to make their mode of transport safer from other vehicles on the road, to avoid, or in the event of a collision? If the Prozanski/Greenlick bill isn’t exactly on that mark, it’s at least in a position that invites discussion and suggestions that could help to improve the safety of bike trailers to kids riding in them.

You seem to be making the same assumption as the politician, i.e. that cycle trailers not built to a specific standard are inherently unsafe. How, exactly?
Have any children been killed or injured because a trailer has become unhitched? Have any children been injured for any other reason which would have been prevented by, as yet unspecified, legislation?

Have any children been killed or injured by being hit by another vehicle? If so, what kind of construction standards would prevent such injuries/deaths?

Given the US citizens’ propensity for suing manufacturers for any presumed fault, it seems unlikely that anyone would deliberately/carelessly produce a trailer which fell below a reasonable standard of construction. Leigslation would therefore be unnecessary, expensive, unevidenced and pointless

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“You seem to be making the same assumption as the politician, i.e. that cycle trailers not built to a specific standard are inherently unsafe. How, exactly? …” Atbman

I’m making no such assumptions, and I don’t think the politicians are either. What I do think they believe, is that bike trailers used to transport kids, could…with some specific guidelines and standards, be made to be a consistently safer means to transport a kid by bike.

The following is part of what I wrote in my first comment to this thread:

“…Child carrying bike trailers are inherently dangerous…not from falling apart due to substandard design and construction standard, but from inadequate and inconsistent measures taken to make the trailers visible to general road traffic. …” wsbob February 23, 2011 at 6:32 pm

jim
Guest
jim

How about a law that if you blow a stop sign with a child trailer you get your ticket doubled. Kind of like the speeding in the school zone tickets are doubled.