(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
A major grassroots effort aimed at getting a statewide ban on studded tires is down but not out.
Jeff Bernards, the man behind the Preserving Oregon Roads campaign, posted a thank-you message on his website yesterday announcing the news: “… we were unable to raise the necessary funds needed to hire paid signature gathers. As a result we won’t make the ballot this November.”
Bernards believes the millions of dollars in road damage studded tires cause in Oregon each year should be put to other uses. He and his volunteers created a large groundswell of momentum for the cause; but in the end it came down to cold, hard cash. As we shared back in February, he needed to find a sponsor willing to part with about $200,000 to bring the campaign over the finish line. That sponsor never materialized.
Despite an all-volunteer force, Preserving Oregon Roads got over 10,000 people to sign the ban initiative forms. Given that impression showing of support, a company that manages signature campaigns all but guaranteed Bernards he would likely get the required 87,213 signatures if he could afford to hire them.
While the petition drive is over, there is still action in store for this issue. Bernards has laid a foundation of support and awareness and he’ll look to move the issue forward in Salem during the upcoming 2013 legislative session. Saying, “This is the beginning, not the end,” Bernards claims to have the support of 15 state legislators as well as many other local government officials.
“We have begun to build a coalition of Oregonians that want to preserve our valuable infrastructure,” says his statement, “and we won’t stop until we get studded tires off our roads.”
Bernards says that coalition and the facts on his side is enough to outplay the tire industry lobbyists who have tried to thwart this and similar ban attempts in the past (Bernards claims that Oregon-based company Les Schwab Tire Centers held up his effort in the Oregon Supreme Court, costing him eight crucial months of signature gathering time).
“It took five attempts to get women the right to vote in Oregon,” he said on the phone earlier today, “We’re not done with this yet.”