Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 26th, 2015 at 1:32 pm
“Imposes license fee in amount sufficient to pay administrative costs, as determined by Department of Transportation. Creates offense of failure to register bicycle. Punishes by maximum fine of $250.”
— From summary of Senate Bill 177
(UPDATE, 9:05 am 1/27: Scroll down for a comment from the Salem, Oregon resident who requested this bill.)
Here we go again…
An Oregon legislator has introduced a bill that would mandate licenses for everyone over 18 years of age who rides a bicycle and would require them to pay a $10 fee to register their bikes. The bill would also prohibit the use of “state highway fund” dollars on “bicycle” projects and repeal ORS 366.154 (a.k.a. the “bike bill”).
Senate Bill 177 has been introduced by Senator Brian Boquist (R-12) “at the request of” a constituent. That “at the request of” part is important because it appears the bill is what’s known as a “constituent bill”. In other words, this isn’t a bill the senator himself is pushing for — he has merely accepted it and moved it along into a committee to appease a vocal constituent. In this case, the constituent is a man named Ted Campbell.
Sen. Boquist’s office referred us to Campbell and we’ve tried to reach him but have not heard back.
The senator himself replied by saying, “We generally introduce bills for constituents, then the citizen works the bill themselves regardless of the issue.”
While this bill might raise your blood pressure, keep in mind that, as Boquist alluded to, bills introduced “at the request of” seldom move forward beyond their initial committee assignment. One Salem insider told us that the moniker is an “informal but well-known kiss of death.” “It means Boquist won’t likely lift a finger to move the bill,” they added.
As someone who has seen similar policy ideas creep up in the past, I can say with much confidence that this bill no chance of moving forward. Even when the mandatory registration idea was championed by a legislator, like in 2009, the bill died in committee and was never taken seriously.
And who can forget Bob Huckaby, a northeast Portland business owner who once planned on leading a statewide ballot measure to make bicycling licenses and registration mandatory. That effort died too and we haven’t heard a peep from Huckaby for over two years now.
Unfortunately, all this reality doesn’t mean the local media isn’t likely to trumpet out SB 177 and try their best to fan the “cars vs. bikes” flames once again. But you know better. This bill might speak to people’s emotions, but it doesn’t do justice to the real problems with our state transportation policy that actually need attention.
For what it’s worth, here’s the summary of SB 177 as published on the State Legislature website:
Requires registration of certain bicycles. Imposes $10 registration fee. Creates bicycle license. Specifies procedure for obtaining license. Imposes license fee in amount sufficient to pay administrative costs, as determined by Department of Transportation. Creates offense of failure to register bicycle. Punishes by maximum fine of $250. Provides exemptions. Creates offense of failure to report change of ownership or change of address to department. Punishes by maximum fine of $250. Creates offense of failure to possess bicycle license. Punishes by maximum fine of $250. Provides exemptions. Prohibits use of State Highway Fund moneys for bicycle lanes, bicycle paths and bicycle trails. Establishes Bicycle Transportation Improvement Fund. Continuously appropriates moneys in fund to department for administration of bicycle registration and licensing programs and for bicycle related transportation improvement projects. Directs department to distribute moneys in fund to counties.
You can view the full text of the bill here.
UPDATE, 9:05 am on 1/27:
As I mentioned in the story, this bill was requested by a constituent of Sen. Boquist. His name is Ted Campbell and he’s a 71-year old retired mechanic who lives in Salem, Oregon. We talked to him on the phone last night to share his perspective. Below are some of his comments, edited for clarity:
“I see these bike lanes here in Salem and people don’t use them. They ride in the middle of the road. They run red lights… If a car did that they’d get a ticket.”
“I think my gas tax should be used to repair the road, not build bike lanes… I’ve heard people say, ‘I pay gas tax already,’ but they pay gas tax to drive on this road, not to ride bikes… And they ride into the traffic… And any time a bicyclist gets hurt they blame the motorist regardless of who’s at fault.”
“Down here at Salem city council somebody wanted a lane for longboards. They wanted their own lane to ride their longboard (skateboard). It’s just getting carried away! So I decided instead of sitting around and griping I’d do something about it.”
“We had a professor down here at Western Oregon University who said he wouldn’t ride until the county put a bike lane in on 99E. Than when it got put in he wouldn’t ride in it so he then he rode in the highway and got run over.” (This is a reference to a fatal collision in April 2012).
“I want people to got talk to their legislators about it (the bill). If nothing else, if it brings some attention to it that would satisfy me too. They need to get a ticket… They need to enforce the laws that are there.”
“The reason our roads are in such bad shape is the gas tax doesn’t go strictly to the roads. We need to fence it to just the roads.Fuel tax should be for maintaining the roads.”
“If it does nothing else other than get the police to enforce the laws that are there I’d be happier than heck.”