Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) 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.