Reflective clothing mandate, other bike bills up for hearing in Oregon house – UPDATED

Posted by on March 25th, 2015 at 9:24 am

People on bikes-34

One bill would ban nighttime biking
without reflective clothing.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

UPDATE: Davis’ office says the reflective clothing idea will not move forward. See our update here.

Oregon’s biggest legislative session for bike-related issues in years will come to its first peak on Monday, but many biking advocates have a prior engagement.

Awkwardly, five separate bills that could make big differences for biking will get hearings in Salem on the same day that dozens of Oregon biking leaders and professionals are scheduled to gather in Portland for the annual Oregon Active Transportation Summit.

The bills to be tackled include HB 3255, which would ban nighttime bike use for people not wearing reflective clothing; SB 533 A, which would permit someone on a bike or motorcycle to proceed through an unresponsive red light after a full cycle; HB 2621, which would let Portland issue speeding tickets on its high-crash corridors using unmanned photo radar; HB 3035, which allows school-zone warning lights to flash all day, rather than just at the start and end, for schools whose campuses straddle 45 mph+ streets; and SJR 16, which would refer a bill to the voters in 2016 that would allow car-related taxes and fees to be spent on off-road transportation projects.

The first four bills will be considered by the state House’s Committee On Transportation and Economic Development at 3 p.m. Monday in Room HR E of the Oregon State Capitol. The fifth will be held by the Senate Committee on Business and Transportation in Room HR B at 1 p.m.

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The agendas were announced Monday morning. Today, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance plans to circulate an action alert to its members urging them to travel to Salem and/or contact legislators in opposition to HB 3255, the mandatory reflective clothing bill.

Kransky said he heard about the schedule after getting a “rare invitation” from ODOT official Mac Lynde to field the transportation committee’s questions about reflective clothing for 20 minutes.

“Mac assured me that he tried to persuade the committee that he and his staff and the people they want to testify will be at the AT [Active Transportation] Summit in Portland, to no avail,” said Kransky, who nonetheless accepted the invitation and will be skipping the summit that he spends much of his year planning. “I’m pretty sure the legislators doing this know it is bad timing.”

Until 2013, the Active Transportation Summit was actually held in Salem and combined with a legislative lobby day. Last year, the event moved to Portland.

UPDATE, 11:09 am: This committee has just added and “Informational Meeting regarding the Status Report on Bicycles” to the 3/30 hearing (that will pull even more advocates/staff away from Portland conference):
hearingbikeupdate

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Lance P.
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Lance P.

Please don’t forget about the changes to Passenger Rail funding from Portland to Eugene. It is about to be cut in a way that will end this service. Please call your rep today: http://www.aortarail.org/index.php/action_alerts/

Andyc of Linnton
Guest
Andyc of Linnton

Holy crap! Thanks for the heads up.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I’m torn on the Cascades service from Portland to Eugene. As someone that loves Cascades, and has used it between Eugene and Seattle several times (including taking my bike from Eugene to Portland), I wonder if the Eugene/Portland leg is really the best utilization of the equipment. Ridership numbers are appallingly low for that segment (and very strong for PDX – SEA), and the limited number of trains between PDX/EUG make it hard to find one that fits your schedule. Once the Point Defiance Bypass project is completed, it may make more sense to re-allocate the trainsets to PDX-SEA, which has far more demand.

Until we see track improvements between PDX and EUG that can bring the travel time down to 2 hours, it may make more sense to replace the trains with bus service.

WD
Guest
WD

I agree that we need better rail from PDX to EUG, but the Cascade in this section is just starting to take off. I’ve ridden it for years and it’s been nice to see more and more people riding it after the schedule expanded this year. Sure, it’s not as high-volume as PDX to SEA, but you can’t honestly compare the two due to the vast difference in size between the cities of Eugene and Seattle. It is, however, the safest way to get between Portland and Eugene.

Rick
Guest
Rick

Should pedestrians be required to wave bright objects at night?

Gary
Guest
Gary

Good question. I know the right way to “start a conversation” to find out is to introduce a bill in the legislature mandating it.

Rick
Guest
Rick

yes, in our culture and society

A.H.
Guest
A.H.

… said the authoritarian, whilst living in democratized civilization, without a hint of self-awareness.

Joe
Guest
Joe

when will the I didn’t see them message stop?

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

When self driving cars with years of perfect driving history out number human drivers.

oliver
Guest
oliver

” allows school-zone warning lights to flash all day, rather than just at the start and end, for schools whose campuses straddle 45 mph+ streets”

We went through this a decade or so back, having 20mph flashing signals at 3:00am on a Tuesday morning on a rural highway because there is a school nearby is the height of idiocy.

KristenT
Guest
KristenT

3:00AM isn’t during the daytime, so the lights wouldn’t be flashing.

My take on this bill is to make the lights flash all day when school is in session, to remind drivers that there’s a school right there and that they need to slow down.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Fashing lights on during school hours, in addition to an hour before school starts, and an hour after school is out, is a good idea.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The roads around schools should be designed for 20-25mph vehicle operating speeds. Speed bumps, traffic circles, etc. The fact that we have “school zones” to begin with is a huge problem. All roads should be safe for pedestrians all of the time.

Dan
Guest
Dan

If we’re going to have school zones, they need to be further reaching. A lot of the time the signs are only posted within 100 feet of the school. Many Oak Hills Elementary kids cross Bethany BLVD, a 35mph* road, and if bus service stops nearby (this is being proposed) there will be potentially 100s of kids making this crossing, with no school zone signs in sight.

*Let’s be honest — I drive 35 there and am constantly passed like I’m standing still.

Rick
Guest
Rick

and Bethany Blvd was recently widened to 4 lanes make it into a unrecognizable road

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

What do you mean? It’s perfectly recognizable as a 45-mph (actual speed limit: 35 mph) drag strip from Bronson to West Union. Duh!

I’ve resorted to using the nice, recently-completed MUP links between the Somerset/Charlais and Spyglass neighborhoods so I only cross Bethany now at Oak Hills…if the signal detects me…

Dan
Guest
Dan

You have to be in the left turn section if you want to be detected to go straight through.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

Oh if only the same concern was there to stop motorists from using cellphones. Sigh.

Jim Labbe
Guest
Jim Labbe

Thanks for this informative legislative update.

I suspect many will view a requirement that cyclists wear reflective clothing as a false-solution that shifts responsibility away from drivers in a way that really doesn’t make our streets safer for everyone. And I would probably agree. This proposal basically allows drivers to be even more clueless at the wheel by counting cyclists to be decorated like Christmas trees. And I have also heard the jury is out on reflective clothing.

But I do think that it is reasonable that cyclists be required to have functioning bike lights at night. It is the law were I lived briefly in the Netherlands and it seemed to work well for everyone.

I admit I am ignorant about the rules on bike lights here in Portland? Are bike lights required? Can a cyclist be ticketed for not having one? I have encountered some cyclists without bike lights at night who were an obvious hazard to themselves and others.

Jim

Evan Manvel
Guest
Evan Manvel

Front light and rear reflector are required, Jim. More from the brilliant folks at Swanson, Thomas, Coon and Newton:
http://www.stc-law.com/bikelighting.html

nothstine
Guest
nothstine

I appreciate STCN’s take, but they leave one thing hanging that I’ve wondered about: Strobing lights. Apart from the legal limbo they seem to occupy in Oregon, is there any hard evidence about night-time visibility, solid v strobe? As a driver, my experience is that strobe is easier to spot in traffic. But I also have this totally unsupported notion that strobe also makes it easier to judge distance to the bicycle. Anyone?

John Lascurettes
Guest

Bikes are already required to have a white light on the front (visible from 500 feet away if I recall correctly) and either a red light or a red reflector on the back. There is no reason to add reflective clothing in a new bill because the bike is already supposed to be visible. The only amendment to the original bill I think would make sense would be designating some sort of side-visible reflector (though many bike headlights are visible from the side as well). Personally, I always buy tires with reflective sidewalls because they are amazingly visible to cross traffic.

John Lascurettes
Guest

And yes, a rider could be ticketed for riding without a front light or a back light/reflector after dusk.

Found the ORS on this: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/815.280 (see section 2c)

Fred
Guest
Fred

According to the City of Portland:

“Required lighting equipment includes: 1) a white light visible from at least 500 feet and 2) a red rear reflector or light visible from at least 600 feet. Lighting equipment must be used during limited visibility conditions.”

Adam
Guest
Adam

Jim,

In Oregon bicycles are required to have a front white light and only a red rear reflector. I would be in favor of requiring red rear lights instead of just a reflector. However I would only support it if on your first offense a police officer would provide you with a light (with batteries) with punishments only starting at your second offense.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“I suspect many will view a requirement that cyclists wear reflective clothing as a false-solution that shifts responsibility away from drivers in a way that really doesn’t make our streets safer for everyone. …” Jim Labbe

It’s likely that many more people will view a requirement that cyclists wear reflective clothing, to be an aid, to people that drive, in visually detecting vulnerable road users. Not that I think the bill has a lot chance to move forward to become a law. it doesn’t allow sufficient individual discretion in determining when the value of using hi-vis for a given situation, is valid.

It’s a big mistake to generally categorize people that drive as “…clueless…”, because most are at least, not any more so than any other road user. Do people that bike generally consider people that bike to be ‘clueless’? I doubt it, yet it’s many people that bike, vulnerable road users, that often seem to give little consideration to the degree to which they’re visible in certain situations, to other road users that drive.

Oregon’s law specifying visibility gear for people that bike, consisting of simply a headlight and a rear reflector, is barely sufficient for many situations in which a person riding a bike on the road may travel. This is where a greater emphasis should be made on the responsibility of road users that ride bikes, to be more acutely aware of their visibility to road users. I don’t to what extent discussion of this bill proposal can do that, but I hope some.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Reflective clothing is a Band-Aid. The real problem is that people cannot see past the blue glow of their phone’s screen. IMHO.

RM
Guest
RM

I certainly hope that anyone who considers themselves an “Oregon biking leader and professional” would go to Salem rather than the conference.

spencer
Guest
spencer

how about we require people to NOT SMASH INTO THINGS with their cars???

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

Seemed like a matake to move the conference from Salem and keep it during the legislative session. Hopefully this move by anti bike reps will cause it to return to Salem next year.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I’m really curious how the reflective clothing bill fits in with the current requirement for lights/reflectors.
Wouldn’t it just make more sense to expand the light/reflector law, say to add side reflectors?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Wouldn’t it just make more sense to expand the light/reflector law, say to add side reflectors?” davemess

Okay. What do you have for suggestions for side reflectors that can offer a fair increase in visibility, that people would wear or put on their bikes, and that wouldn’t involve an expense that they would refuse to bear.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Wheel spoke reflectors, wheel spoke lights, and sidewall reflectors are amazing at providing visibility from the side. I’ve seen people at night while driving, and they are easily twice as visible and identifiable as a bicycle then trying to make out an orange or yellow fluorescent jacket, which can be above a cats headlight beams.

I have all the on my bike, incidentally.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

For people with disk brakes or coaster brakes, it seems to me that retro-reflective material placed on rim sidewalls may be a very good idea. Jim Parson’s has had photos of his bike with its wheel set up this way, shown on bikeportland. Doing that would involve some expense and skill, but I’d guess the public would support it in the cost of a new bike. If I rode a bike with disc brakes or coaster brakes, I’d probably put the reflective material on the wheel’s sidewalls.

It’s just a subjective thing I suppose, more than a practical issue that would justify not using them, but for my own use, I don’t personally like any of the spoke type reflectors. I wouldn’t want the law to tell me I had to leave them on the bike’s wheels either. I’m thinking over the reasons I have for not liking them.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Many bikes are sold with reflectors on their wheels. It could just added into the law that people have to leave them on.

For those without, after market ones would be a few bucks at most.

davemess
Guest
davemess

And again, this only really applies if you’re riding at night.

Joe
Guest
Joe

I didn’t see them aka distracted driving!

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

How about a mandatory “hit a bicyclist, go to jail” law?

Opus the Poet
Guest

Or “Hit a cyclist/pedestrian, lose your car”. I think that one will work better. And any driver using the “I didn’t see him” excuse permanently lose their license for being blind or for driving without required corrective lenses. I want to make “I didn’t see him” an admission of guilt rather than an excuse.

drew
Guest
drew

Although I like wearing reflective material much of the time, mandatory reflective clothing for night riding will discourage bicycling. If there is a $250 fine for being out of uniform, someone who shouldn’t be driving a car will probably just fire up the old Buick for that half mile beer run.

Reflectivising everything in the public right of way is pointless when a motorist faces little consequence to pay much attention to what is in front of them anyways. “I didn’t see him” or “he came out of nowhere” is still perfectly acceptable explanation for a crash.

mh
Guest
mh

I’ve got solid front and rear lights, because Germany forbids strobes and my headlight is German. I also run flashing lights front and rear, because those say “bicycle!” to most American drivers. I find it almost unbelievable that a reflector is all that is required on the rear. A taillight is much better insurance, because you’re probably going to see the driver coming at you head-on even if they’re blind drunk and haven’t switched their lights on, but I want to give them a really good chance to see me from behind, because it will take me longer to notice them. Sometimes I’m even attentive enough to switch on my spoke light.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“I find it almost unbelievable that a reflector is all that is required on the rear.”

The reflected light of “lawful low beams” of a car in a decent reflector is often much, much brighter than some of the pathetic rear lights many people use. And the batteries never die.

Lynne
Guest
Lynne

the only time I was struck by a car (left hook), I was wearing a hi-viz vest. “I didn’t see you”. So much for that. I am really in favor of enforcing existing laws before we add new ones, and retesting for license renewals. The reflectivity that WORKS is ankle/pedal/crankarm reflectivity, because the up and down motion attracts attention. It is a cycling specific reflection pattern. Reflective tape on crankarms doesn’t get forgotten, because it is always on the bike.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“the only time I was struck by a car (left hook), I was wearing a hi-viz vest. “I didn’t see you”. So much for that. …” Lynne

Really, you don’t think the hi-viz helped many people driving, see you better than when you weren’t wearing it? A hundred percent effectiveness is a high bar to achieve with any device or product.

Retesting at license renewal time is worth continuing to think about. As is what it would involve in terms of time, money, and public will to do that.

Reflectivity on the moving parts of people that ride bikes, and their bikes such as wheels, pedals, and cranks, is a good idea, but I wonder if on a grand scale, it could be too much of a good thing.

Shoe manufacturers could be required to design, say two square inches of retro-reflective material onto the sides of biking shoes they produce. Could be any base color, so it shouldn’t compromise the shoe design too much.

Lynne
Guest
Lynne

1)Oh, I still wear that vest. The point is IT ISN’T MAGIC CLOTHING. I personally wear more reflective/hi-viz gear than most people on bicycles.
2)Most/many cyclists don’t wear cycling-specific shoes
3)Adding reflective material to clothing items is an expensive proposition (bona fides: I knew someone who was in charge of this at Columbia, plus I contracted at Nike for awhile), which is why there isn’t more of it.
4)The problem isn’t cyclists, it is the operators of vehicles who aren’t paying attention and exercising due care as operators of a potentially dangerous piece of heavy machinery.
5)We can only help them out so far.
6)Laws mandating this or that will be enforced unevenly – more so on the folks who can’t afford the stuff. We have enough of those.
7) I don’t want to give a careless automobile operator another chance to get off the hook.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I don’t think many people consider any gear used for visibility while riding a bike to be magic, enabling 100 percent visibility of people biking, on the part of people driving. Hi-vis is simply another tool in the visibility gear toolbox that can help give people biking a little better edge on being seen by people driving, and other people biking.

No surprise to me that you wear more hi-vis gear than many people riding do. I remember you from bikeportland’s forums. I see plenty of people out in Beaverton, using hi-vis gear when riding. On the other hand, there’s way too many people riding that, seem not to pay any attention at all to whether clothes they’re wearing, or what’s otherwise on their body rather than the bike, is able to enhance their visibility to people driving. This can pose big problems in many road and traffic situations.

Apparel and sportswear manufacturers already incorporate hi-vis into many of the products they produce. It represents an expense to do so, sure, but there’s obviously a market for such gear, even in the absence of laws requiring its use. Improvements in the designs, and increases in the range of options, stands a good chance of increasing the market, I think.

I don’t buy the blanket conclusion some people like to draw, that ‘people that drive, aren’t paying attention.’. No offense to you personally, because like I said earlier, I sort of know you from the forums, and readily acknowledge that you have a lot of experience riding on the road amongst motor vehicles. Important to me, is recognizing that a high percentage of people driving, are paying attention and exercising due care, and still find themselves in road and traffic situations where someone on a bike may be very difficult to see; because the someone riding is not sufficiently equipped from a visibility standpoint, to enable people driving to readily see them.

And ‘readily’, is an important factor here. When I’m riding, I don’t want a delay in the time it takes people driving to pick me out amidst a visually complex or challenging road situation. I want them to see me ‘readily’. The soonest opportunity possible. Like ‘no’. Use of hi-vis can help with this.

I have thoughts on the viability of the hi-vis clothing objective of the bill Davis presented in it it original form. More on that some other time.

Dave
Guest
Dave

I live in Washington, so don’t have a dog directly in this fight but I’d like to ask two things about the reflective clothing bill: 1. Will there be an understandable, unambiguous definition of reflective clothing which defines articles of clothing that actually exist, that a person can actually go to a store or online and purchase and
2. If a cyclist who has jumped through all the hoops to light up and dress reflectively as the law will require is hit by a motor vehicle, will the MV operator then be automatically guilty with no possibility of appeal and thereby have their drivers’ license permanently suspended and car immediately forfeited?
Just wanting to, as they say, start a conversation…………………..

maddy
Guest
maddy

Good point about defining reflectivity. I have a black cycling jacket with an off-white reflective collar that shines brightly in car headlights. Would that qualify as reflective clothing under this bill?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I haven’t looked closely at the bill’s language so I could say that I thought with certainty that it would consider the type of jacket you have to be ‘reflective’, and meet the requirements specified, but stands to reason that regardless of the base color, it would be.

Lighter or brighter colors may help aid visibility in most situations better than black, but it’s retro-reflective material that really can help enhance visibility of people using it, to other people driving with their vehicle’s headlights on. It’s not a perfect aid, of course, but it can help a lot.

SW
Guest
SW

drew
“I didn’t see him” or “he came out of nowhere” is still perfectly acceptable explanation for a crash.
Recommended 2

What an RAF pilot can teach us about being safe on the road

http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/raf-pilot-teach-cyclists/

Dave Cary
Guest
Dave Cary

No mention is made about the two almost identical bills submitted by Brian Boquist of Dallas (to the tune of over $600 each paid for by us taxpayers) requiring bicycle licenses for a bike and its rider plus forbidding any use of vehicle license fees and gas taxes for bike infrastructure. Are they not yet up for discussion or possibly don’t have the chance of a Ted Cruz for President?

Dave
Guest
Dave

maddy
Good point about defining reflectivity. I have a black cycling jacket with an off-white reflective collar that shines brightly in car headlights. Would that qualify as reflective clothing under this bill?
Recommended 0

Yeah–a lot of garments that don’t look reflective in daylight are equipped to do the job when headlights beam on them in the dark.

Randall S.
Guest
Randall S.

I, for one, look forward to the reflective clothing mandate. Too long have we let pedestrians walk around the streets without reflective clothing, lights, or helmets.

Dan
Guest
Dan

and without having to signal!

onegearsnear
Guest
onegearsnear

I sent out the BTAs emails to all the Reps listed and got the response below from Rep Davis’ office that stated the bill will not be moving forward with the reflective clothing requirement and just require a rear light instead.

Response:
Thank you for taking the time to contact Representative Davis and for sharing your views regarding HB3255 relating to bicycles. Rep. Davis appreciates hearing about issues that matter to you and you can be confident that he reads each email personally.

HB3255 bill will not be moving forward in its original form, and will have nothing to do with reflective clothing. The bill will be amended to fully delete its original language, and only require a red light to be visible from the rear of the bicycle at night. This is an amendment to the existing law for bicycle equipment requirements, ORS 815.280 (http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/815.280). Current law already requires a rear reflector at night.

Attached are the amendments that will be considered at Monday’s hearing. Again, the original bill and its requirements will not be moving forward and will not be considered.

Again, thank you for reaching out to our office.

Michelle
———————-
Michelle Felton
Legislative Director
Office of State Representative John Davis
House District 26
(Wilsonville, Sherwood, King City, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Aloha, Tigard, Bull Mountain)

900 Court Street NE, H-483
Salem, OR 97301
Office: 503-986-1426
Email: rep.johndavis@state.or.us
Web: http://www.leg.state.or.us/davis/

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Hey…thanks for posting the content of the letter you received! I’d say the bill’s transformation is a step forward to more consistent visibility of vulnerable road users.

Rep John Davis did alright, it seems, in taking a kind of provocative approach to starting a conversation about visibility of people riding bikes, to other road users.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

wsbob.

Rep. Davis put forward a preposterous idea that showed very little understanding of the road safety issue and in so doing he wasted time and resources of bike safety advocates and the community at large and hurt his own credibility around the issue. This move by him is a way to acknowledge his mistake and try to salvage something out of it.

That being said, I think requiring a rear light is a great idea!.. In fact it’s the type of idea Davis could/should have first proposed if he would have, perhaps, asked experts and advocates for their advice BEFORE proposing a disrespectul and punitive bill that wasted many people’s time.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Maus, I appreciate your thoughts on Davis and the bill that he’s put forward, but I think it’s sum up his efforts as you have. Davis said, form the get-go, quoted in an interview with you and posted to one of your earlier bikportland stories, that he presented the bill as he did, ‘to start a conversation’ about visibility of people that ride bikes, and that’s exactly what he’s accomplished.

Do I think the approach to starting a conversation that he took, of proposing a very controversial idea by way of a bill to the the legislature, should become standard procedure for introducing ideas for new laws, or improvements to existing laws?

No, I don’t think so, but for some safety issues, sometimes rather radical means of bringing emphasis on them can be a good idea, which in this case, it may turn out to have been. That’s if the bill does go on to become an amendment to existing law that currently requires the rear of bikes to be equipped with only a reflector for visibility.

If Rep Davis had presented a bill that simply set out to amend the current law specifying only a reflector on the rear of the bike, rather than a light, would the bill have received the level of essential attention and discussion that the bill he presented, did? I kind of doubt it. People likely would have, and still may, either basically ignored the bill, or have come up with a bunch of excuses not to add additional requirements for riding bikes.

I’ve never met Davis, but from his brief remarks in the interview you had with him, he sounded like a considerate guy that does have a sense of what people using a range of modes of travel on the road, have to deal with. To keep on trying to demean constructive efforts being made by this legislator, is not a good idea. People that bike could use some more friends in the legislature.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

wsbob,

First, Davis has decided to give up on his bill.

Second, I hear what you are saying and I take this type of thing very seriously… But at some point we have to acknowledge that the emperor has no clothes. Mandatory clothing for bike riders is a disrespectful idea that doesn’t deserve serious consideration and the time we spend discussing it only takes away from very urgent safety issues we need to address.

Putting out a bike bill with no basis in common sense, expert opinion, science, or research is something legislators need to stop doing. It shows a lack of understanding and respect for an important issue. I am tired of fighting this type of thing and figured I’d see if a bit more pointed public critique might be a good way to deal with it.

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

Maybe it’s really *Baghdad* Bob. Would explain a lot.

http://www.welovetheiraqiinformationminister.com/