*Scroll down for update with comments from Rep. Davis.*
A member of the Oregon House has introduced a bill that would require all bicycle riders in Oregon to wear reflective clothing. Representative John Davis (R-District 26) introduced House Bill 3255 this morning.
According to the text of the bill, Davis wants anyone caught riding a bicycle, “on a highway or on premises open to the public” without wearing reflective clothing to be punished by a maximum fine of $250. The bill also dictates that the clothing is, “including but not limited to a reflective coat or reflective vest.” The new law would only apply to people riding bicycles at night (between sunset and sunrise).
The new offense, “Failure of a bicycle operator to wear reflective clothing,” would be a Class D traffic violation.
Similar bills have been introduced in California, Wyoming and South Dakota. In California, Senate Bill 192 mandates helmets for all ages and reflective clothing, but carries a maximum fine of just $25.
Rep. Davis, who serves as Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development, is serving his second term as a House Rep after being re-elected in November 2014. He was endorsed by The Oregonian in part because they felt he was a, “skilled legislator with the combination of knowledge and common sense necessary to help forge solutions to difficult problems.”
Davis’s district stretches from south of Wilsonville all the way north to parts of Aloha.
We’ve reached out to Rep. Davis’ Salem office and have yet to hear back.
– H/t to BTA lobbyist Gerik Kransky for alerting us to this bill.
NOTE: This story was first published with “hi-viz clothing” in the headline. It has been changed to “reflective clothing.” We apologize for any confusion.
UPDATE, 3:04 pm: I had a phone call with Rep. Davis. Here’s what he shared about the bill:
- He works in downtown Portland and some of his co-workers ride bikes and have family members that are “avid cyclists.” Davis said many of them, “especially those who ride at dusk, are supportive of this.”
- Davis referenced a story we published in May 2013 about a study that found people are less visible at night than they think.
- Davis told me he thought his bill, “Would be an interesting starting point of a conversation,” and added, “I’m interested what cyclists think about this.”
- When I asked why he chose to focus his safety concerns on a bike-specific measure that doesn’t take into account driving behaviors, he said, “I think it’s a back-and-forth… We all use the road and we all need to be using it safely together.”
- Davis said he feels that a “significant amount of responsibility belongs with drivers” because of the larger capacity they have to do harm to other road users. “But what is the healthy balance to ensure maximum safety?” he wondered.
- When I told him I’m aware that many bicycle riders detest this concept and are already against the bill, he maintained that he’s had a “number of cyclists and a number of my constituents who support this idea.”
- Davis also said he hopes to plan a public hearing in Salem sometime in March where people will have the opportunity to “Come to the legislature and talk about the benefits of cycling.”
- When I asked Rep. Davis why, if he’s so concerned about safety, he voted against a bill (Senate Bill 9) that increased fines for texting and driving in 2013, he provided a non-answer. “We’re talking about this bill, so that’s what I’d like to talk about.”