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Thoughts on lawmakers who “just want to start a conversation”

Posted by on February 27th, 2015 at 4:21 pm

In light of Oregon House Representative John Davis’s bill that would mandate what type of clothes people would have to wear while riding a bicycle, I want to re-post some thoughts I published back in January 2011.

Back then, we were covering a very similar situation where Oregon legislator Mitch Greenlick wanted to “start a conversation” about bike safety by sponsoring a bill that would have made it illegal to carry a child of six years or younger on the back of a bike or in a trailer (yes, you read that right).

Here’s the post. It’s just as relevant today as it was back then…

Study first, then make new laws (if necessary)

Published January 2011

I Just want to quickly point out that there’s an alternative method for legislators to “start a conversation” on complex and/or potentially controversial issues other than proposing a new law that would prohibit a popular and safe activity.

The current legislative session has two such bills that I’m aware of…

The first, which we covered back in December, is from the House Transportation committee. Instead of proposing a bill about bike licensing/registration (which we know would be met with outcry), they’ve drafted a bill, HB 2331, that directs the Oregon Department of Transportation to do a study on the feasibility of the idea. If the idea is found to have merit, then legislation could follow.

Another bill that calls for a feasibility study is HB 2032. The bill, introduced by Portland House Rep. Jules Bailey, directs the DOT to conduct a study regarding the cost and feasibility of replacing Marquam Bridge (the I-5 freeway that crosses the Willamette River south of downtown Portland. And, as we shared back in 2006, it’s not as far-fetched as you might think).

Both of these bills are excellent first steps in learning more about an issue — and then determining whether or not to propose legislation. The problem with Rep. Mitch Greenlick’s approach (and others before him) is that he has gone about it backwards.

In a story about his bill that was just published by The Oregonian, local bike shop owner Todd Fahrner puts it this way, “He says he wants to start a discussion. It seems patently ridiculous to start a discussion by trying to criminalize something.”

Representative Ben Cannon, who got his share of push-back for proposing a beer tax last session, says he’s learned his lesson from that episode and is now, “… more careful about the precise form of the bills I introduce.”

I don’t think Rep. Davis is anti-bike and I don’t think he has anything against people who ride them. This is an issue of perspective. And Davis, like the vast majority of Oregonians, lacks a well-rounded perspective about cycling simply because they don’t do it on a regular basis. He does, however, drive a car every single day, and therefore his perspective around that activity is much more nuanced, evolved and sophisticated.

Unfortunately, despite Rep. Davis’s best intentions, his bill won’t go anywhere and it won’t start a productive conversation about safety. Because, unlike simply pushing a half-baked idea into the legislative meat-grinder, real and impactful conversations are not easy to have. They take hard work by people dedicated to the issue and who are will to do the basic due diligence and research to make sure the conversation leads somewhere positive.

Rep. Davis, if you have concerns about the safety of bicycle riders on Oregon roads, I would be happy to sit down and talk about it with you. Name the time and the place and I’ll be there. (In fact, that’s exactly what I did on KATU TV’s interview show back in 2012 when a local business owner wanted to start a ballot initiative to make bicycle licenses and registration mandatory. Many people where outraged as his idea, but he was reasonable about it and we had an excellent “conversation” that allowed both of us to make our points known.)

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

71 Comments
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    Adam H. February 27, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Hear hear!

    Rep. Davis uses the tried and true GOP mantras of “I have a friend who bikes”, “we’re all in this together”, and “I just want to start a conversation”. Fortunately for us, we are too smart to eat up this BS and can see right though his intentions to shift the burden of safety to the victim and protect the Almighty Motorist (can’t have them paying fines for texting and driving).

    Rep. Davis has shown that he has zero knowledge of issues that people face on a daily basis and has no intentions of consulting (and actually listening to) experts on this matter, if he himself lacks personal experience. This reflects the overall behavior of the GOP (see: climate change, health care, etc.). His refusal to have the conversation before proposing an asinine bill just shows his party’s typical lack of understanding of even basic issues and an unwillingness to learn.

    These are not the people who should be running our state nor our country.

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      wsbob February 28, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      “…Fortunately for us, we are too smart to eat up this BS…” Adam H.

      And do you seek to have your comment in response to Davis’s effort be referred to in the same terms you’ve used to describe his effort?

      Davis has presented in civil terms, a proposal for a law seeking to enhance the safety of vulnerable road users. Of course, I suppose he realizes it’s inevitable that certain people will not rise to the level of civility he has in presenting his idea and accompanying comments to the public. That’s something likely is generally recognized as being part of the chore of being a politician.

      Still here is an effort on the part of a legislator, to engage the public on a grass roots level, in constructive conversation about an important safety issue directly addressing vulnerable road users. It’s very unfortunate when people reading and commenting here on bikeportland, so blatantly waste that opportunity by offering responses having little to no constructive content.

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        Adam Herstein March 1, 2015 at 1:33 am

        His proposed bill has no constructive content. If he was really concerned for the safety of people riding bikes, he’d have talked to any expert in the field. I’m willing to bet that most would have suggested something along the lines of building infrastructure to support safe bike riding and not forcing everyone to wear shiny clothing. Drafting a bill is not “starting a conversation”, but rather forcing that conversation down all of our throats. If he wanted to start a conversation, he should have actually started a conversation.

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          wsbob March 2, 2015 at 12:59 am

          “His proposed bill has no constructive content. If he was really concerned for the safety of people riding bikes, he’d have talked to any expert in the field. …” Adam Herstein

          His bill calls for the wearing of, by vulnerable road users, retro-reflective material, when riding a bike between dusk and dawn. Despite what you think or understand, that is constructive content. Vulnerable road users wearing that gear, can be a constructive measure towards their safety in using the road.

          You seem to be very confident that Davis has not talked to any expert in the field. Impression you’re leaving, is that it’s just your sense that he’s talked to no such person, rather than by way of some news, or fact. Which field you’re thinking of, you don’t say.

          With his bill proposal, Davis has started a conversation. Apparently, it’s not the conversation you and some of bikeportlands’ other readers wanted to be confronted with, but I don’t there’s any question that people are talking about various things associated with ideas he’s brought up by way of the bill he presented.

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            Dan March 2, 2015 at 8:26 am

            Hmm, it sounds to me like you support Davis starting this conversation by introducing a bill.

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            Spiffy March 2, 2015 at 8:33 am

            enacting oppression is not conversation…

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        El Biciclero March 2, 2015 at 10:29 am

        Here’s a suggestion for a law that has been enacted in some jurisdictions, that would demonstrably serve to increase actual safety on our roadways: outlaw right turns on red lights.

        I don’t think I have ever seen anyone introduce such a bill “to start a conversation”. Do you know why it has never been introduced? Because it would inconvenience the majority to protect a perceived minority (pedestrians and bicyclists). What do think the reaction would be to such a bill proposal? Here’s my conversation starter:

        “ORS 811.260 (Appropriate responses to traffic control devices), paragraphs (7), (8), and (9) shall be amended as follows:

        (7)Steady circular red signal. A driver facing a steady circular red signal light alone shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk, then before entering the intersection. The driver shall remain stopped until a green light is shown except when the driver is permitted to make a turn under ORS 811.360 (When vehicle turn permitted at stop light).

        (8) Steady red arrow signal. A driver facing a steady red arrow signal, alone or in combination with other signal indications, may not enter the intersection to make the movement indicated by the red arrow signal. Unless entering the intersection to make some other movement which is permitted by another signal, a driver facing a steady red arrow signal shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk, then before entering the intersection. The vehicle shall remain stopped until a green light is shown except when the driver is permitted to make a turn under ORS 811.360 (When vehicle turn permitted at stop light).

        (9) Steady red bicycle signal. A bicyclist facing a steady red bicycle signal shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk, then before entering the intersection. The bicyclist shall remain stopped until a green bicycle signal is shown except when the bicyclist is permitted to make a turn under ORS 811.360 (When vehicle turn permitted at stop light).”

        Further, ORS 811.360 (When vehicle turn permitted at stop light) shall be repealed in its entirety.”

        Discuss.

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          El Biciclero March 3, 2015 at 12:43 pm

          Oh, I forgot. The effects of paragraph (9) would be mitigated by passing an Idaho-style stop law that would allow cyclists to stop and yield to cross traffic and pedestrians (which they can both see and hear) and proceed with caution through a red light.

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    Pete February 27, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    I want to see him mount a tandem with Carol Liu and ride up SW Barbur. That should give him a “nuanced” perspective…

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    Rob February 27, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    You are very diplomatic, Jonathan. I hope you get to have a serious conversation with him. From my position, it’s hard not to see this as a putative action against cyclists, aiming to make cycling less convenient and less common.

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      9watts February 28, 2015 at 8:17 am

      Thanks to bikeportland’s reporting on these lawmakers’ misguided proposals I get the impression that this is becoming something of a cottage industry: float nutty, vindictive, anti-bike screeds dressed up very sloppily as safety measures. When pressed, they all dissemble, say they just ‘wanted to start a conversation,’ and the bills go nowhere (for the time being) but the goal is nevertheless achieved: sow anti-bike ideas and get people thinking in these categories. The die is cast.

      Meanwhile the ‘left’ which is so careful to avoid saying anything forthright that might acknowledge the modal asymmetries when it comes to threats on our streets, the funding shortfalls, the entitlement thinking of many who drive habitually, does us no favors.
      Jonathan’s comment of April 18, 2014: And they feel if they do/say anything that smacks of being “anti-car” it will create anger/controversy/”modal wars” and so on.

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    Peter February 28, 2015 at 8:53 am

    In this thread and the previous one on the same subject there is a lot of ranting about anti-bike this and that but no solutions proposed. This is no more productive, maybe less so, than Rep. Davis’ bill. Flawed, maybe, but the problem is real. I cycle AND drive and like many others have experienced poor visibility from both sides of the windshield. I can tell you that on a dark and rainy night a weak bike light looks no different than the reflection of headlight off the rain drops on my windshield. Add some dark clothing to the mix and a cyclist becomes invisible. As participants of a transportation system both cyclists and motorists have shared responsibility for safety. It’s not sufficient to say “he/she should have seen me”. If we want to be treated as a credible segment of the transportation system we need to offer solutions that meet our needs. Many of us ARE responsible cyclists and proactively be as visible as possible – who wants to die, anyway? Others aren’t. When voluntary compliance to standards isn’t sufficient then laws are made. How do we as a community improve voluntary compliance on both sides and what laws would further encourage both cyclists and motorists to act more safely? Maybe requiring reflective clothing at night isn’t such a bad idea. Those of us who want to survive do it anyway. If it saves someone’s life isn’t it worth some consideration? If we think Rep. Davis is being disingenuous when he talks about having a discussion, let’s have that discussion ourselves.

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      9watts February 28, 2015 at 9:31 am

      Although I almost always agree with your comments here, in this instance I am going to disagree with you, Peter.
      “I can tell you that on a dark and rainy night a weak bike light looks no different than the reflection of headlight off the rain drops on my windshield. Add some dark clothing to the mix and a cyclist becomes invisible.”
      This is very true for someone in a car, but as I’ve suggested here before, this is entirely a function of (a) how cars are designed, and (b) how fast they are expected to be driven. These two factors are not the responsibility of someone on a bike. If everyone drove convertibles with the tops down (= easier to use your senses in traffic as a motorist that way), and drove at a speed many are now advocating for in cities the world over (= 20′s plenty) most of this problem would vanish. Other participants in traffic not behind a windshield struggling to see much of anything under the conditions you describe are much better able to pick out others, and if they did fail to notice them entirely and plow into them, they are dramatically less likely to kill them, due to lower speed and mass.

      It is not my responsibility as a member of traffic who eschews the car to make up for limitations that derive from how cars are designed and how they are driven.

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        Peter February 28, 2015 at 12:48 pm

        You can eschew cars personally but in a shared resource environment you can’t eschew your responsibility to contribute to mutual safety. I don’t think it is acceptable to just say “it’s your problem, do something about it that doesn’t impact me”. I can’t imagine that anyone would disagree that more visibility is good for all. Cars already have bright headlights – if they’re not seeing us it is in our best interest to do something about it. Where I live, 20 mph streets just aren’t likely. On the other hand, I enjoy riding down 185th or Murray just the same as motorists because we’ve got great bike lanes out here in the Beaverton area and cyclists don’t have to take alternate routes for safety. I enjoy the same privilege as motorists in this respect. It’s not a problem to put on reflective clothing, or even an LED vest in the winter months so I can enjoy this privilege safely. When motorists roll down their window and tell me how much they appreciate that I’m extra visible it makes me feel like I’m doing my part. Motorists (including me when I am one) do worry about hitting cyclists.

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          Rob February 28, 2015 at 12:54 pm

          Cyclists are contributing far more than their share to mutual safety by not driving a motor vehicle.

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          9watts February 28, 2015 at 1:13 pm

          “I enjoy the same privilege as motorists in this respect. ”

          Nope. There is no equivalence where you see one. Biking is not a privilege. But driving a motor vehicle is.

          “if they’re not seeing us it is in our best interest to do something about it.”

          But I already noted that the reason they are or may have trouble seeing me is that they are in a car that restricts their ability to see, under less than ideal circumstances, and they (typically) expect to speed. Taking the view that, well, this is just the reality, so the most expedient thing is for us, who are not in cars, to make up for those limitations is what I’m arguing against.

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            davemess March 1, 2015 at 8:29 am

            “Biking is not a privilege.”

            Why the double standard?

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              9watts March 1, 2015 at 8:34 am

              “Biking is not a privilege.”

              Why the double standard?

              This goes back to the difference between licensing and certification. Driving in our society is something that the government (DMV) allows or disallows. There are many reasons for that. We don’t, customarily, allow or disallow other styles of movement like walking or biking or skateboarding, because these do not pose the dangers or require the skills we expect from people piloting motor vehicles.

              LICENSING
              A license is a permission to do something that otherwise is forbidden. In most cases, a license is required or mandatory for engaging in that activity. For instance, a drivers license is considered mandatory to drive a car on the public roads. An exception is that a house may be built by someone who is not a licensed contractor.
              A license is given by the government, and is a government privilege. It therefore presumes that the activity in question is a privilege, not a right. The privilege may be bestowed by the federal, state or local government.
              A license involves the police power of the state. That is, if one violates the licensing law, either by acting without a license, or failing to uphold the rules governing the license privilege, one is subject to prosecution under the civil or criminal laws of the governing body.
              The purpose of licensing, whether admitted or not, is to restrict entry and control a profession or activity.
              CERTIFICATION
              Certification is a statement or declaration that one has completed a course of study, passed an examination, or otherwise met specified criteria for certification.
              Certification is not a permission to act, but rather a statement of completion or qualification.
              Certification is a private matter, issued by a private organization. It does not involve the police power of the state, and is not a state privilege.
              Certification is based on the premise that there is a right to work. Certification only provides the consumer with more information about a practitioner. It also gives practitioners a way to increase their competency through a course of study and exams, and to advertise or inform others of their completion of this course of study.
              The purpose of certification is mainly to set standards, educate practitioners and inform the public. It may, however, be used to control entry if combined with state laws. See the section below on ‘combinations’.
              from here: http://www.anma.org/licvscert.html

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                was carless March 1, 2015 at 9:22 am

                While I agree with you on your assessment of the differences between the responsibilities between driving a car and riding a bike, it’s only half the story. In Europe, there is significant regulation aimed at the bicycle industry to provide safety lights that is often ignored here.

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                9watts March 1, 2015 at 9:25 am

                “In Europe, there is significant regulation aimed at the bicycle industry to provide safety lights that is often ignored here.”

                Yes. It is part of a package, a comprehensive (rather than onesided, punitive) approach to safety and culpability.

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          9watts February 28, 2015 at 1:15 pm

          “Motorists (including me when I am one) do worry about hitting cyclists.”

          And they/you should. I don’t worry about hitting motorists because I’m on a bike. Does that asymmetry tell you anything?

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            Peter February 28, 2015 at 6:13 pm

            It tells me you’re avoiding reality. Not driving a car is your choice, but proposing that nobody drive cars doesn’t really add to the conversation. In our modern world you are able to not drive a motor vehicle because others do it for you. Your groceries get to the store in a motor vehicle, the FexEx and UPS trucks deliver daily – you get the point I’m sure. It is your convenience not to personally operate a motor vehicle but very few people in this country do not in some way contribute to motor vehicle traffic and benefit from it. It is disingenuous to try to dissociate yourself from the problem that way. In my view it is not acceptable to say “since I don’t drive a motor vehicle nobody else should either and since they do, the burden of my safety is all on them”.

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              9watts February 28, 2015 at 7:14 pm

              “proposing that nobody drive cars”
              I said nothing about how others should get around.

              “It is disingenuous to try to dissociate yourself from the problem that way.”
              How so? I’ll ask again, what is the source of the problem? How did bicycling at night become a problem, and for whom? If we remove the cars out of which it is sometimes hard to see, is there still a problem?

              Let us imagine that someone with funds and crazy ideas like Elon Musk designs, builds, and markets a motorized pogo stick. It is wildly popular, but very hard to control. The operators crash into objects and people with alarming frequency. One day a lawmaker proposes that everyone who wants to use the street (now) must wear armor to protect him or herself (from these new contraptions).

              I take Peter Norton’s long view. Notwithstanding the fact that we have normalized its presence, the automobile is the intruder, the menace, the source of 95%(?) of the dangers we all experience on our roads. More rules, laws, & means by which to layer additional responsibilities onto those of us not in cars I reject, on principle.

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                davemess March 1, 2015 at 8:31 am

                “If we remove the cars out of which it is sometimes hard to see, is there still a problem?”

                Absolutely, even everyone was on bikes they would still need to be well lit and visible, otherwise you’d just have bikes crashing into each other, or pedestrians.

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                9watts March 1, 2015 at 8:43 am

                “Absolutely, even everyone was on bikes they would still need to be well lit and visible, otherwise you’d just have bikes crashing into each other, or pedestrians.”

                Let’s not pretend that bikes crashing into each other is equivalent to cars running over people biking. Both are problems, to be sure, but the difference matter greatly. First off the ability to see others from the seat of a bike is vastly better under all lighting circumstances, secondly the sizes and speeds of the vehicles (bikes, bodies) is so much smaller that last minute evasive maneuvers are both more possible and likely to be more successful in circumstances you are envisioning. Finally, the lower speed and mass mean that in the event of a collision the injuries would almost invariably be much less.
                I’d take unreflectorized human powered mobility (without interference from cars) over what Davis is proposing any night of the year.

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            wsbob March 1, 2015 at 12:29 am

            “…I don’t worry about hitting motorists because I’m on a bike. …” watts

            People that bike, should be thinking about what they can personally do to avoid being in a collision with someone that drives. And helping to avoid collisions with motor vehicles is one of the primary objectives of encouraging the use of visibility gear, including retro-reflective material, by vulnerable road users.

            I think this objective is one of the big reasons Davis came up with his bill proposal.

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              9watts March 1, 2015 at 8:16 am

              “People that bike, should be thinking about what they can personally do to avoid being in a collision with someone that drives.”
              You like to assert this here on bikeportland, wsbob, but how about explaining why you think they share in this responsibility when some of us have been arguing that (a) the not seeing more often than not is actually not looking, and (b) that the difficulties seeing when the person in the car is looking arise from the designs of cars and the speeds at which they are expected to be driven—neither of which are my responsibility, assuming I’m biking in the vicinity?

              “And helping to avoid collisions with motor vehicles is one of the primary objectives of encouraging the use of visibility gear, including retro-reflective material, by vulnerable road users.”

              I disagree. It is customary and predictable to *state* that this is the reason for these bills, these proposals, but several of us have made the case here that this assertion does not pass the laugh test.

              Why, when laws we already have on the books governing driver behavior that unquestionably endangers other road users, not to mention themselves (speeding, driving without proper attention) regularly go unenforced should we be interested in fooling around with laws like this, that, I think you will concede, redirect our attention toward a different class of road user, a class who cause no harm, endanger no one?

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                wsbob March 2, 2015 at 12:44 am

                watts, you’re grasping at straws. Conditions on streets and roads are many, where shadows and backgrounds can result in vulnerable road users being very difficult to see. Whether or not other road users are looking and paying attention to the road. Helping to overcome that difficulty is the the objective of encouraging the use of hi-vis gear.

                It shouldn’t really be accepted as sufficient that vulnerable road users can in various conditions, be seen with great difficulty. Vulnerable road users should have the knowledge to be able to have their self be readily visible, at the very least, to good drivers that are actively watching and paying attention to the road.

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          wsbob February 28, 2015 at 1:47 pm

          “…On the other hand, I enjoy riding down 185th or Murray just the same as motorists because we’ve got great bike lanes out here in the Beaverton area and cyclists don’t have to take alternate routes for safety. …” Peter

          Peter, with some amusement, I’ve got to say, that your enjoying riding down Murray or 185th because those roads have great bike lanes, is something I can’t share with you, because I don’t like riding those roads much at all. Great bike lanes or not. Too noisy. Too much pollution and traffic tension. Nevertheless, I’m going to take this opportunity to make a pitch for project improvements scheduled for Murray, Farmington and Hocken, which I mentioned earlier in the week in comments to this bikeportland story:

          http://bikeportland.org/2015/02/25/washington-county-will-install-bike-fix-stations-five-locations-134931

          I went to the meeting, and added some notes to that comment section.

          Really, all of this is off the topic of this particular bikeportland story. This story asks about the advisability of legislators starting a discussion about issues, by way of introducing a bill for a law, possibly without the content of the bill particularly having enough, or much in its content, that would allow the bill much of a chance of actually becoming law.

          Honestly, I don’t actually know enough about political actions, workings, strategies, and so on, to understand whether this approach to legislative and broader discussion is a good idea. It seems to me that legislator’s time is valuable, and shouldn’t be taken trivially with half baked ideas. Many people’s time is valuable. Some of them don’t want to waste their time either, going after some wild hare idea.

          Davis’s interest in vulnerable road user safety is important. Perhaps his idea to encourage use by vulnerable road users riding bikes, of retro-reflective material, has some valid points. Could he have taken a more constructive approach to accomplish that objective, than by proposing a slim bill primarily for the purpose of encouraging discussion of vulnerable road users taking their share of responsibility for their own safety on the road? I think so.

          But then, Davis doesn’t appear to be the most experienced person in Oregon. At the least, the more experienced, wiser people than he, ought to be able to be relied upon to give him some constructive, civil feedback on his thoughts expressed and about the bill he’s proposed.

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            Peter February 28, 2015 at 6:45 pm

            My point, perhaps not very well expressed, was that not all roads can, or even should, be constrained to a very slow speed, and therefore saying, as 9watts did in a previous post, that “20’s plenty”, isn’t realistic. In addition, while I fully agree that the streets I used as examples aren’t my favorites either, plenty of cyclists use them for their efficiency in getting somewhere, finding value in them, and therefore practical actions and controls by both motorists and cyclists that provide mutual value in safety enhancement do make sense. And I concede to perhaps veering off topic.

            A brief look at cycling laws in Denmark and Germany reveals that besides mandatory front and rear lights, cyclists are required to have reflectors on their bikes. Perhaps this is something to consider – mandate reflectors and leave it to the cyclist to decide if these are part of the bike or part of his/her attire.

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              wsbob March 1, 2015 at 12:47 am

              “…And I concede to perhaps veering off topic. …” Peter

              That’s ok, you’re not the only one. It seems kind of difficult to stay on topic on this one.

              In a comment to the earlier story, bicicelero, I think it was, faulted Rep. Davis for presenting a bill as a means to start a conversation, rather than for example, initiating a series of town halls to do that. I think what reasons he had for not taking this route would be something many bikeportland readers could benefit from knowing more about.

              I really don’t know, but I kind of have the feeling that Davis’s bill really was intended for a kind of an ‘in legislature’ thing, not passed around to the broader public. Idea being, that other legislators would browse over it and say ‘You can’t do this, got to change that, show it to these other guys, etc, etc’, before the bill ever got even close to being voted on for a law. But then, some members of the public look at the agenda, see the bill, and decide to try make a sensational story out of it. As if the bill in the form posted to bikeportland, was certain to become law, next week.

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        caesar February 28, 2015 at 1:18 pm

        If everyone drove convertibles with the tops down (= easier to use your senses in traffic as a motorist that way), and drove at a speed many are now advocating for in cities the world over (= 20′s plenty) most of this problem would vanish. It is not my responsibility as a member of traffic who eschews the car to make up for limitations that derive from how cars are designed and how they are driven.

        There appears to be a majority of commenters on this blog (and you are the latest example) that advocates rejecting attempts at increasing safety on the part of the cyclists because the cyclists are not the ones killing people – so why should cyclists be burdened with reflective clothing /lights /bells /better reflexes, etc, when that should be the responsibility of the driver? This point of view, while certainly idealistic, is unrealistic.

        So your solution to the (very real) wet windshield visibility problem that Peter described above is to mandate convertible top cars and slow them down to 20 MPH? Based on what data, exactly, will Mrs. Jones’ driving with her car’s top down at 20 mph on a rainy night increases her chances of seeing a cyclist wearing black clothing with no lights merging into her lane on a city street? Maybe you meant the windshield itself should be removed? At least that way there’d be no more confusing light diffraction from all the water droplets. But of course, poor Mrs Jones would now be squinting to keep the rain out of her eyes. But then she could wear special rain goggles coated with Rain-X, right? Or something. But cars need to be re-designed.

        While I reject attempts at legally mandating reflective clothing (which is why I believe that Davis’ bill is just plain wrong), the concept of wearing reflective clothing and using lights is a sound one. Until we achieve perfection in roadway design or cars out banned (yeah, don’t hold your breath) anyone who refuses to take basic cycling precautions because his/her safety “is the car’s responsibility, not mine” is cutting off his nose to spite his face.

        PS: This morning I rode for almost three hours in the downtown area and on the various city riverfront esplanades and even took the Springwater trail for about four miles past Sellwood and then retraced my route back to the City. On three separate occasions I missed being hit by speeding cyclists weaving in and out of clusters of pedestrians and other bikers. One passed me on the right as I was preparing to pass three joggers (on the left) and startled them so badly that they tripped amongst themselves. No warning bells or calls were made. Yet… I had no close calls from cars on my route on city streets. Anecdotal, yes, but no less discouraging to me.

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          9watts February 28, 2015 at 7:21 pm

          “why should cyclists be burdened with reflective clothing /lights /bells /better reflexes, etc, when that should be the responsibility of the driver? This point of view, while certainly idealistic, is unrealistic.”

          It only appears unrealistic because most of us still suffer from what Alan Durning calls Car-head:
          Unintentionally and even unknowingly, we see the world as if through a windshield. We evaluate our surroundings as if from the driver’s seat (obstacles to speed? places to park?). We consider “automobile” almost a synonym for “transportation.” And we consider such thinking utterly normal. This Car-head mindset, this set of auto-oriented assumptions and perspectives, is so deeply enmeshed with our life experience that we are little aware of it. It’s so universal that we certainly shouldn’t be blamed for holding it. But it’s there and it’s powerful and it has consequences in our actions and, more important, in our communities’ decisions.
          http://daily.sightline.org/2007/04/19/car-head/

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          El Biciclero March 2, 2015 at 12:01 pm

          “…increases her chances of seeing a cyclist wearing black clothing with no lights merging into her lane on a city street?”

          Existing law would solve this problem by requiring the black-clothing-wearing cyclist to have lights/reflectors on his/her bike. A suggestion for putting drivers in greater touch with their environment seems aimed at showing the difference between choosing to travel around in a sound-proof metal crate with obstructed vision and expecting everyone else to make it easy for you vs. realizing that if you choose to travel around in a metal crate, you had better make it as easy for yourself (to see and hear) as possible by slowing down and paying more attention. Why is expecting cyclists to purchase and wear special apparel seen as a reasonable solution to a problem, but expecting drivers to lift their right foot 1/4″ and turn their heads a little bit viewed as an outrageous imposition?

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      wsbob February 28, 2015 at 10:20 am

      That’s right: As you say, “…a lot of ranting about anti-bike this and that but no solutions proposed. ….”.

      At least not many, but there’s Dave Mess’s comment posted just below, that looks to be making an effort. Lots of the usual reactionary remarks from some of the people commenting to thes two bikeportland’s stories about Rep. John Davis’s proposal. Little in the way of well thought out responses to his proposal or to what the various objectives behind it may be.

      Cut the guy a little slack. He actually bothered to put his idea in bill form, took the risk of presenting it to the legislature, and was willing to talk about his idea and thoughts in an interview, directly with bikeportland’s staff. He managed to do all of that without being rude, obnoxious or disrespectful to people that may disagree with his point of view.

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        A.H. February 28, 2015 at 1:59 pm

        I’ll cut him some slack when he tables this poorly-thought-out bill and introduces a new one that irrevocably pulls licenses for one-time DUI/DUII offenses. Any data source will tell you that that will make roadways astronomically safer than requiring little vests (which drivers can, have, and will continue to “not see”).

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          wsbob March 1, 2015 at 12:20 am

          You use your comment to make a sarcastic, animosity laden statement, that as a suggestion for a law is so impractical, it’s of very little value at all. Offering a serious, realistic proposal that with some changes, could stand at least some chance of eventually becoming law, would be a better direction.

          As a citizen, you could write up your idea into bill form and start it through the legislative process. Perhaps you think it would stand a better chance of becoming law, or starting a constructive conversation than Davis’s bill has.

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          wsbob March 1, 2015 at 12:22 am

          You use your comment to make a sarcastic, animosity laden statement, that as a suggestion for a law, I think few people, especially legislators, aren’t going to be able to take seriously. Offering a serious, realistic proposal that with some changes, could stand at least some chance of eventually becoming law, would be a better direction.

          As a citizen, you could write up your idea into bill form and start it through the legislative process. Perhaps you think it would stand a better chance of becoming law, or starting a constructive conversation than Davis’s bill has.

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            A.H. March 2, 2015 at 4:44 pm

            You seem really hell-bent on painting everyone who doesn’t agree with you as sarcastic, rude, and disingenuous. My comment was not in any way sarcastic or an exaggeration of my (very well-founded and genuine) animosity toward a system which actively refuses to punish the potentially lethal negligence of drivers. That’s a good faith argument, and you can disagree with it all you want, but it’s still a good faith argument. You can’t change that with any amount of telling me (or others) what they “should” be doing, or what we’re “using” our comments for. Deal.

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            A.H. March 2, 2015 at 4:49 pm

            Also: would you mind precisely qualifying what’s so ridiculous about revoking the license from a driver who abuses a substance, illegally operates a vehicle while under the influence, and gets caught? Why, specifically, do you think that this is unreasonable? Why should the state continue to allow a driver on the road with multiple such offenses?

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      SD March 1, 2015 at 11:52 am

      I drive sometimes also. And, to be completely honest, if I am paying attention and driving at the speed limit and looking for pedestrians and cyclists, I always see them, if they are following the traffic laws we already have. The only time I have been surprised is when some one is carelessly breaking an already existing traffic law, riding the wrong way down a one way street etc.
      The sentiment behind supporters of this “conversation” is to reduce the liability for innattentive drivers at the expense of social liberties of cyclists.
      The argument for safety in this instance is an extension of the argument that cyclists should not be on the road in the first place because cars are too dangerous and the danger of cars cannot be reduced enough to allow safe cycling.

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        9watts March 1, 2015 at 12:43 pm

        10x upvote!

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        wsbob March 2, 2015 at 12:31 am

        “…The only time I have been surprised is when some one is carelessly breaking an already existing traffic law, riding the wrong way down a one way street etc. …” SD

        Which, depending on the situation, can be often, and in the case of vulnerable road users traveling by bike, that are breaking the law, opens themselves up to serious injury or death from collision.

        I doubt you, or any road user, always sees vulnerable road users, whether or not they’re breaking road use laws. People just aren’t built like machines to have the kind of consistent performance that would allow them to always see vulnerable road users in poor conditions common on streets and roads. Helping to overcome this difficulty, is where the considerable range of visibility gear for vulnerable road users, can be very useful.

        I believe that from information available in Davis’s bill, and in his comments to bikeportland, you are being very imaginative to conclude his intentions with the bill are anything more that what he’s said they are. My thoughts about what this could include, are, to start a conversation about vulnerable road users accepting their responsibility for their safe use of the road; to have people consider the possible benefits of people biking more consistently using retro-reflective material when riding.

        The actual bill proposal, considering all it would have to do to actually become a law, was likely intended to be nothing more than a conversation starter.

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          SD March 2, 2015 at 11:50 am

          “I doubt you, or any road user, always sees vulnerable road users, whether or not they’re breaking road use laws.”

          You can doubt my personal experience if you like, but you would be wrong.

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        davemess March 2, 2015 at 12:55 pm

        There is also the fact you (most likely or you wouldn’t be posting here) are a cyclist. So you’re probably much more attuned to be on the lookout for cyclists when driving.

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      El Biciclero March 2, 2015 at 10:09 am

      “…a weak bike light looks no different than the reflection of headlight off the rain drops on my windshield. Add some dark clothing to the mix and a cyclist becomes invisible.”

      How “weak” is the light? Does it perhaps not comply with current law? How does adding dark clothing to a weak light make the cyclist invisible? Does it cover up the light?

      I would agree 100% that cyclists who don’t comply with current law can be “hard to see”, though not impossible to see. I can usually make them out as silhouettes against streetlights or other vehicle lights—even when it’s rainy and they are wearing dark clothing. The problem of weak lights isn’t one that can be solved with new laws, but rather enforcement of existing laws.

      My guess is that Rep. Davis sees a “problem”, and rather than think about the true root causes of the problem, would rather float quick-fix ideas that only affect a few weirdos than really think about the true nature of the problem and attempt to solve it with appropriately focused attention and actions.

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    davemess February 28, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Interestingly I think you can change a few words on here and see truth in the opposite way:
    “like the vast majority of BIKE PORTLAND POSTERS, lacks a well-rounded perspective about DRIVING simply because they don’t do it on a regular basis. THEY do, however, RIDE A BIKE every single day, and therefore their perspective around that activity is much more nuanced, evolved and sophisticated.”

    Maybe “vast majority” doesn’t fit, but as you point out it’s all about perspective.

    I’m not defending this guy’s stance, but I think too often people jump on ANYTHING they find even the slightest slight or jab at cycling.
    His reasoning is decent: It would be helpful and safer to have people better lit/reflective at night. Maybe the way to get there is a little incorrect (as is introducing a law to “have a conversation”), but it’s not such an outlandish goal as to pillory the man as a neanderthal.

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      A.H. February 28, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      But most cyclists do drive regularly, as well — your argument doesn’t hold up. And if you’re going to argue that safety is actually your concern, then you’re going to get a lot more of it by legislating against drivers who speed, drive while intoxicated, drive while distracted, etc. than by legislating against all cyclists, full stop. Even a casual glance at traffic accident and death data can tell you that the danger on our roadways comes from cars and drivers, not bikes and cyclists.

      Making up a new class D misdemeanor for cyclists might make the community a little safer, but enforcing penalties against negligent and irresponsible drivers instead of the slap-on-the-wrist schlock we have now will make it a LOT safer. If safety is your concern, cars and driver behavior are what you MUST consider first.

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        davemess March 1, 2015 at 8:37 am

        Most “cyclists”, yes also drive a car at least from time to time. Most “bikeportland readers”, I’m not so sure.

        I’m all for the safety things you list. Except those are already illegal. So it really is more of an enforcement issue. This isn’t an either or: we can do both things. That’s also why I’m not that worked up about a new bike law that also will likely not really be enforced very much.

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          A.H. March 1, 2015 at 4:22 pm

          I don’t see a reason why making and not enforcing new laws is preferable in any way to enforcing existing laws. The risk for a road user of any vehicle type almost entirely comes from the drivers of other cars — that is to say, if someone is killed on an American roadway, the chances of at least one motor vehicle being involved is a near certainty.

          Let’s tighten down on drunk drivers (how many chances to they get, again? 3? And why is that?), put some teeth behind penalties for distracted driving, make dooring/unsafely obstructing a bike lane an ACTUAL crime already, demand that our police hold drivers accountable if they injure someone, and legislate more accurate standards for contributory negligence in at-fault and “no-fault” collisions first. Each of those efforts would do so much more to keep our roads safe for everyone than requiring a minority of users to purchase certain clothing.

          Remember: a vest won’t help you if the driver of the car behind you is looking down at their phone, too drunk to drive safely, too old to see at night, overspeeding their headlight illumination, driving without their lights on in the first place, fiddling with their radio, turning too quickly to illuminate their new path… etc.

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        wsbob March 2, 2015 at 12:13 am

        “But most cyclists do drive regularly, as well …” A.H.

        Many people that bike, don’t drive regularly, or at all, and may not have ever driven, or studied for, taken and passed a driver’s test for a license. And, the poor way some of the people that bike, handle their use the road, may be due in part to not having any standardized instruction and training for safe use of the road on a bike, amongst motor vehicle traffic. This is a problem other road users, whatever their mode of transportation, have been having to deal with for a long time.

        Bike in traffic instruction and training should be broadly accessible and readily accessible to anyone that intends to ride a bike in traffic amongst motor vehicles. Thorough explanation of the function, benefit of hi-vis gear, and judgment of conditions which call for the use of various visibility gear to enhance the visibility of vulnerable road users to other road users, could be an integral part of such instruction and training.

        Availability of this type instruction and training could negate the need for creating a law requiring the use of retro-reflective material, or amending an existing law to require use of this material by people when they’re biking.

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          A.H. March 8, 2015 at 1:35 pm

          “Many people that bike, don’t drive regularly, or at all, and may not have ever driven, or studied for, taken and passed a driver’s test for a license.”

          And just how often to drivers in Oregon have to re-certify their competency? And where are you getting your data from? Every single person I know who regularly bikes also has a driver’s license. The only data I can find says that this is pretty common.

          “And, the poor way some of the people that bike, handle their use the road, may be due in part to not having any standardized instruction and training for safe use of the road on a bike, amongst motor vehicle traffic.”

          Sure, but the poor way that some people handle cars, DESPITE standardized instruction and training, cause nearly all roadway fatalities. DUI, DUII, distracted driving, driving while tired, etc. are by tremendous margins more of a public safety hazard than your perception of cyclist education. Now THAT is “a problem other road users, whatever their mode of transportation, have been having to deal with for a long time.”

          And yeah, we could just develop a curriculum and require that cyclists take a course in it. But if requiring a thorough education for safe and proper road use is so important to you, I ask: why not require that of drivers, first?

          Most road users are drivers, most collisions involve a car, most injuries/fatalities on a road involve at least one car and driver, cars travel faster, are heavier, and harder to maneuver than bikes, and their instrumentation is more complicated… all good reasons to focus on driver education, pass laws that require drivers to be more aware on the road, and enforce them by revoking privileges for dangerous drivers.

          It seems like your only reasons for wanting cyclist re-education and mandatory reflective gear are based on anecdotal accusations, broad generalizations, and ignoring the undisputable fact that cars and their drivers are more of a danger than bikes and their cyclists.

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      9watts February 28, 2015 at 7:36 pm

      “It would be helpful and safer to have people better lit/reflective at night.”

      But how does this focus on the potential victim’s clothing influence our proclivity to doing anything about the very real epidemic of distracted driving? Or speeding? It wrests control of the debate by skipping right over the elephant in the room.

      We’ve read here countless stories of people wearing reflective, neon, even illuminated clothing who were hit by someone in a car who was not looking, not paying attention. This is a problem right now! The end-of-pipe, wouldn’t it be nice if those people not in cars were easier to see approach is transparently blame shifting, bad faith, a sneaky attempt to implicate those whose right to be on the streets or in the road predates autodom.

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        caesar February 28, 2015 at 8:04 pm

        “But how does this focus on the potential victim’s clothing influence our proclivity to doing anything about the very real epidemic of distracted driving? Or speeding?”

        Probably it influences it in no way at all. The assertion that encouraging higher visibility among cyclists will somehow (via some heretofore unexplained psychosocial phenomenon) also increase (or prevent reduction of) rates of distracted driving is without foundation, your reference to Alan Durning notwithstanding.

        Much more likely is that increasing visibility among riders AND attacking the problem of distracted driving / speeding can both be achieved and will both lead to the desired outcome: less dead and injured cyclists. It’s not an either / or proposition, despite your attempt to paint it that way.

        Loudly decrying attempts at enhancing biker visibility will, however, have an unintended consequence: it will further reduce any empathy we (cyclists) might enjoy among the non-cylist population. Bikers who refuse to wear lights or reflectors because “hey, that’s not my responsibility, it’s the car’s responsibility!” will be branded as petulant and self-entitled. And a petulant and self entitled minority is usually not the type of demographic that tax-payers and policy-makers generally want to support with their money and efforts.

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          9watts February 28, 2015 at 8:15 pm

          “Bikers who refuse to wear lights or reflectors”
          No one’s said this. The subject here isn’t wearing or not wearing X; it is proposals to *require* the wearing of X by (only) people on bikes, and punishing those who do not comply with a hefty fine.

          “Much more likely is that increasing visibility among riders AND attacking the problem of distracted driving / speeding can both be achieved”

          And how would that work? We already have a problem of distracted and speeding drivers, and laws governing both behaviors that are not enforced. You’re telling me with a straight face that the three-ring circus that these conversation starter bills represent are going to motivate law enforcement to ticket people for speeding and driving distracted? Really?

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          invisiblebikes March 2, 2015 at 1:11 pm

          I completely agree with 9watts, No one on this thread or the other post on the same topic has even gotten close to saying they refuse to wear or use lights or reflective gear.

          And I’m going to add my own two cents, a Bill like this is Victim Blaming pure and simple!

          Peter, Wsbob, Caesar consider this, if this bill were to pass (which it doesn’t have a snowballs chance in heck) and all cyclists are required to wear reflective clothing, what comes next? what precedent does it set?
          Will the government continue this “victim blaming” path… yes! soon after, they will introduce a bill that all pedestrians will be required to wear reflective clothing, as the logic of this bill concludes that it is the victim’s responsibility to protect themselves from distracted, unsafe and above all else drivers who refuse to take responsibility for their actions!
          Then another bill will “Start a conversation” that children should not be allowed to walk to and from school at all because the reflective clothing bill isn’t changing the fact that children (pedestrian or not) are still being killed by (irresponsible) drivers!

          I say again… Victim Blaming! its the fail safe for drivers and law makers alike!

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    galavantista February 28, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I sincerely wonder what folks’ response would be to legislating/requiring front and rear lights on bicycles, as they do in places like Germany? I’m 100% appalled that people ride bicycles at night without lights — and while I’m not fond of being told what to wear, my bike hasn’t complained about what I put on her, yet.

    Maybe people who ride bicycles could get proactive and productive, and propose something like this ourselves (to a legislator)?

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      9watts March 2, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      Requiring that bicycles be equipped as transportation when they are sold in stores, as the law does in Germany, is great. It represents in my reading a taking seriously of bicycles-as-transport that is all to the good: Lights, racks, fenders, integrated locks. etc. What you are proposing and what Germany has done is an upstream intervention. Davis’ sorry excuse for a conversation starter is a slapdash, punitive, end-of-pipe notion that couldn’t be further from what you are envisioning.

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    caesar March 1, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Please re-read my previous posts above. I am opposed to this bill or to any that would mandate reflective/high-vis clothing on bikers and fine those who do not comply.

    But I am also opposed to those who malign cyclist reflective / lighting because it somehow sends the message to the world that cyclists are to blame, not cars. As a cycling community we do ourselves no favors by promoting this mindset. Instead, we should embrace any and all things that will reduce the carnage. Including better enforcement of existing traffic laws (speeding, texting). Including making ourselves more conspicuous. Like i said before, it’s not either-or.

    PS: on my morning ride today, again I was buzzed without warning by two separate cyclists on the Eastbank Esplanade who must have been doing close to 20 mph despite peds all around.

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    Pete March 1, 2015 at 10:42 am

    John Davis,

    On August 24, 2014, Ellen Dittebrandt donned her reflective jacket, turned on her bicycle taillight, and pedaled west from the Mosier Twin Tunnels Trail onto I-84 (her only possible path) to get to Viento. It was shortly after sunrise when she left, and with the sun behind him, a 55-year-old Portland man drove his pickup truck off the highway and killed her.

    I propose that you introduce a bill making it illegal to operate a motor vehicle in Oregon while asleep. This man cooperated with police during the investigation of this “accident” and was not charged with any crime, but if your bill had been in place this man would either have broken the law or we would still be blessed with the presence of this beautiful artist. Otherwise, Ellen would have been killed regardless of whether she was dressed in black, white, pink, or using reflective technology (which she was). This is the conversation you need to have with your constituents and bike-riding friends.

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    SD March 1, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    It is naive to think that the motivation behind this version of “starting a conversation” has anything to do with protecting cyclists. This is very clearly an unethical politically motivated maneuver. It is a classic example of legislating against a minority (in this case a mode share minority) to appeal to the political base.
    The demographic that Davis is addressing is people who drive everywhere they travel, have no intention of cycling as a means of transportation and view cyclists primarily as a liability. Unfortunately, there is a long list of things that would be legislated against cyclists because they are still viewed as unnecessary occupiers of a space that belongs to cars and trucks. From this point of view, by being on the road, cyclists risk their own lives and create a liability for drivers. Likewise, the way to limit risk is to legislate and restrict the behavior of cyclists; limit where and when cyclists can ride, how they ride, what they ride, what they wear, what they listen too while they ride, etc. This perspective does not take into account the benefits of cycling for individuals or the community or for that matter civil liberties or principles of sound legislation.
    The majority of the district that votes for Davis will look at this bill favorably. Davis probably expects that this law will not go anywhere and that it will be offensive to a large number of people that live in Portland. If he is intelligent, he will also know that it is bad legislation. But, in the end he expects the bill to increase his popularity in a district where there are very few people that bike as a core part of daily living.
    It feels like a waste of time to point out all of the obvious problems with this bill because it has not been crafted with earnest intentions, but apparently some people think this actually has to do with safe cycling. The ways in which this bill will create obstacles to cycling are numerous. First, everyone who rides at night will have to purchase or obtain reflective wear of some standard to wear at night. If you bike year round, you will likely have to have multiple peices of reflective gear for different weather and possibly multiple peices for one ride. Anyone who cycles for any distance knows that you often have to shed or put on layers as you ride and the weather is often unpredictable. You will have to have a way of carrying this extra clothing with you if you are not wearing it for the whole ride and when you arrive at your destination. For example, if you are going to the opera, a timbers game, a nice dinner, a costume party or a costume ride you will have to carry along reflective clothing in addition to the event specific clothing you are wearing and potentially a bag to carry it or your other clothes. You will always need to know if you are going to be cycling at night when you leave your house in the day or you must keep the reflective gear with you at all times. For example, you may go to a freind’s house with plans to come back home, but there may be a change in plans and you may decide to go somewhere else from there and not be back at your house until after dark. The only way this law would be reasonable is if it were never enforced.
    However, if a cyclist does not have reflective gear the police have the discretion to detain and fine them. More importantly, if a car hits a cyclist without reflective gear, the cyclist will be breaking traffic laws, and this will be weighed against them in determining fault. There is no evidence that reflective gear prevents cars from hitting cyclists when the cyclist already is riding with lights or bike reflectors, usually on a street with lights, but once the law is passed it will presuppose that there is sufficient reason to believe that reflective gear is protective.
    Legislators should be more thoughtful and have a clear understanding of the implications of the laws that they propose. Unfortunately, the tactic of appealing to the ignorance and bias of the voters that they represent to increase their own popularity is far to common. Political leaders often have to consider what is popular vs. what is good legislation. Sometimes laws are both those things, but in this case, Davis is legislating against the liberties of a minority for political gain. When he states that this law is about the safety of cyclists, he either has no insight into his own motives or he is lying.

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      9watts March 1, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      This is one of the things I love most about bikeportland. It brings out the most articulate, thoughtful folks. Thanks, SD.

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        davemess March 2, 2015 at 12:59 pm

        Apparently without paragraphing! 🙂

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      wsbob March 1, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      “…This is very clearly an …” SD

      There’s nothing whatsoever in Davis’s bill, or his comments to bikeportland, that suggests it’s clearly what you purport those items to be. Your remarks are in large part, excessive, worn out rhetoric.

      I will give you some credit for offering some suggestions, some of which are valid, about problems with Davis’s bill as currently written, were it to become law in its present form, which is unlikely.

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        SD March 2, 2015 at 11:45 am

        Unfortunately, my comments are neither excessive nor worn out. And, you have provided no evidence to show that they are. Introducing legislation for political gain rather than the public good is common. There is nothing in the bill or his public statements that states that he is acting selfishly, but I would not expect Davis to include references to his self-serving motives in his legislation or his public statements.

        The idea about “starting” a conversation is absurd…

        The conversation about bicycle safety and reflective gear at night has been ongoing and many people and organizations have contributed constructively to the conversation and provided resources to increase cyclists night visibility. We talk about it on bikeportland. I imagine the wsbob has made a lot of important contributions to this conversation. I talk about it with my family, friends and coworkers. Bike lights are distributed to cyclists and there are public service campaigns to encourage night time visibility.

        The conversation that Davis has started is about criminalizing the behavior of cyclists, a group that neither he or the majority of his constituents belong to. And, by introducing this legislation, he is stating that he believes that cyclists are currently acting in a way that should be illegal. The constructive aspect of this conversation has already been well established. If you want to see the nonproductive side of the bike visibility conversation, from Davis’s supporters, visit Davis’s facebook page.

        However, you are correct that I am speculating that Davis introduced this legislation in a manner that calculated his political gain at the expense of the liberties of cyclists and the legitimate dialogue about bike safety. He could just be an incompetent legislator.

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          Pete March 2, 2015 at 4:35 pm

          “…by introducing this legislation, he is stating that he believes that cyclists are currently acting in a way that should be illegal.”

          I never thought of it that way, but I couldn’t agree more.

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      CaptainKarma March 2, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Nailed it.

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    El Biciclero March 2, 2015 at 10:10 am

    I’d like to see a list of all the bills for the current session that have been introduced just to “start a conversation”. Is there any way to find that out?

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    Brendan March 2, 2015 at 11:54 am

    It seems like all you would have to do to get a good idea of Rep. Davis’ intentions is see what other bills he’s introduced. I’m guessing there aren’t many related to reducing the speed of cars etc. Which would do much more keep cyclists safe. I don’t believe this is an attempt to limit cycling so much as it is an attempt to comfort drivers and send a message to his electorate that he is looking out for drivers interests. I think the fear of harming cyclists causes motorists a lot of guilt and strife.

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    Gary March 2, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    wsbob
    “…This is very clearly an …” SD
    There’s nothing whatsoever in Davis’s bill, or his comments to bikeportland, that suggests it’s clearly what you purport those items to be. Your remarks are in large part, excessive, worn out rhetoric.
    I will give you some credit for offering some suggestions, some of which are valid, about problems with Davis’s bill as currently written, were it to become law in its present form, which is unlikely.
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    There’s nothing in the bill that suggests it is “just to start a conversation,” either. Yet you fully believe that to be the case. I wonder why one inference is more valid than another (post hoc statements by the sponsor notwithstanding).

    More important, I wonder why you think the responses here are invalid as a “conversation” that the author supposedly wanted. Yes, many people are flat out against the proposal–why is that an invalid part of the conversation? You seem to assume there’s some sort of burden on those opposed to offer an alternative. Why is a simple “no” on this bill not a sufficient contribution to the conversation (even though the vast majority of posters have offered much more than that in way of reasoning, and in some cases different approaches)?

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      KristenT March 6, 2015 at 10:36 am

      “There’s nothing in the bill that suggests it is “just to start a conversation,” either.”

      You are correct that there’s nothing in the bill, however, the author of the bill has plainly stated that he was using this bill as a conversation starter. Your point is somewhat negated.

      It would be nice to see the author of the bill join in the conversation we are having on his bill, as his stated purpose was to start this conversation. Unless he’s posting anonymously, I haven’t seen any input from him here. It seems to me that if someone states they want to start a conversation and meets with a well-known blogger to do so, they would then follow up by joining the conversation they started.

      As it is, this bill appears to be an attempt to raise the legislator’s profile with his constituents, and not an attempt to solve a perceived problem.

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