Oregon House Representative John Davis has changed his mind about how best to improve the safety of bicycling.
Davis made headlines around the state last month when he introduced H.B. 3255, a bill that would require all Oregonians who ride a bicycle at night to wear refelctive clothing. Davis’ clothing mandate garnered considerable media attention and resulted in an “action alert” from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance who urged their members to help stop the bill.
A hearing for the bill was scheduled for March 30th in Salem.
Now he says he’s changing course and the bill will no longer include any language about reflective clothing.
Here’s a message from Davis’ legislative director that a commenter shared a earlier today (emphases mine):
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.
When we spoke to Rep. Davis on the phone last month he said he had support for the mandatory clothing idea from “a number of cyclists and a number of my constituents.” He saw the idea as nothing more than a fair balance of responsibility of road users — whether they are on a bike or in a car. “We all use the road and we all need to be using it safely together,” he said.
Expanding the lighting requirement on bikes is a great idea. Current Oregon law only requires a front light and a rear reflector that can be seen from 600 feet away. Mandating a rear light would improve visibility and it’s already the best practice for anyone who takes cycling seriously.
We’ve reached out to Davis’ office to see the amendments for ourselves and ask why they dropped the reflective clothing idea. We’ll update this story when we hear back.
UPDATE: Here’s the amended bill (PDF) with the new language about the rear light requirement.
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It still leaves the question will the Bill be punitive making cyclist pay fines of up to $250 for not having a rear light?
If so that is still counterproductive to making cycling safe and is just another way to oppress bicycling… even more!
The idea of visible illumination, particularly at night, is a lot easier to swallow than mandatory clothing. It’s no more punitive than the fine for driving with a taillight out, which is dangerous for the same reasons (nobody can see you, and you’re gonna get hit… eventually).
front and rear lights are already required by law in Oregon, its the fine that is punitive and excessive.
Actually, EITHER a rear reflector OR a rear light is required. This idea came up for discussion on Bikeportland a few years back and lots of people cited the hardship on the very poor as a reason not to make rear lights mandatory. I suspect we’ll hear that argument again.
You’re both wrong. A front light and rear reflector are required.
A front light, visible from 500 ft., is required.
Either a rear red light or a rear rear red reflector, visible from 600 ft., is required.
Beth was correcting the assertion that a rear light is required. It isn’t per se as long as there’s a red reflector.
Sorry, Beth, misread your post. A rear light does negate the need for a reflector.
cars are required to have a rear reflector… it’s not that you won’t see it, it just won’t be self-illuminated…
Even if a red light isn’t required, it’s still a very good idea. IMO, bike shops shouldn’t even be allowed to sell bikes without lights. I’d propose that the law also mandate that bike shops include and install front and rear lights with every bike sale (include it in the price of the new bike).
But has anyone established which lights will be adequately visible at 600 feet? I wouldn’t mind seeing a refund of fines if a proof of purchase can be presented to the police/courts as well.
600 feet isn’t very bright.
In Portland there are 20 blocks per mile (5280 feet).
Making each block 264 feet.
As long as your light can be seen from a little more than 2 blocks away, your covered.
In my experience, it’s not people riding a new bike at night without lights. It’s people riding a beat up BSO. So increasing the cost of all bikes isn’t fruitful here. Bikes are already produced with wheel reflectors and front/rear reflectors, which shops aren’t supposed to remove.
And don’t forget the pedal reflectors. I believe new bikes are required to come with them.
Doubtful. My newest store-bought bike (2011) definitely did not. Even if it did, it was one of the first parts I swapped out on the bike.
CPSC says, “bicycles must have a colorless front reflector, recessed colorless or amber reflectors on the back and front sides of the pedals, and a red reflector on the rear. They must also have a reflector mounted on the spokes of each wheel, or reflective front and rear wheel rims or tire sidewalls.”
Most bikes I’ve seen in the $800 or more price range do not come with pedals. At a certain price point, it’s assumed that most people will have their specific choice of pedal (be it clipless, toeclips, or flats), so we can save $20 on not buying junk flat pedals to immediately take off and never use.
Most bikes selling for more than about $500 won’t have their spoke reflectors installed, either. They are very uncommon on anything but kids bikes (though at least there are some reflective sidewall tires etc. taking up the slack). Pedal reflectors are all well and good on platform pedals, but don’t translate to clipless (where most shoes have tiny or totally absent reflective details). I put reflective tape on my crankarms, which isn’t perfect, but better than nothing.
I worked at a shop for a year. All boxes came with reflectors for front and rear, but we did have to install them ourselves (which, yes, we did do, even knowing full well that many would be removed). Wheels came with reflectors, but they were clearly designed to be easily removed by the user. Pedal reflectors don’t come on clipless pedals, simply because clipless pedals don’t come on installed bikes, so it’s outside of CPSC rules.
Making it mandatory for bike shops to give away product that they paid for? I dont think you would last long in the bike industry.
How is a law requiring rear illumination on a moving vehicle at night counterproductive to safety? European countries require rear lights. Do you choose to not use one?
The fine is counter productive to growing bicycle participation, by fining people $250 (an excessive amount that surpasses most moving violations!) will deter new ridership and make sustainable growth in bicycle advocacy stagnate.
However, roads become objectively safer for all users when all vehicles are illuminated at night. There are certainly substantial obstacles a newly road-using cyclist must face, but having to purchase a $5 clip-on blinker so they can travel without being virtually invisible to other road users ain’t one of them.
“…purchase a $5 clip-on blinker…”
That kind of light is likely not visible for 600 ft. You’d be better off with a reflector.
Why not both? Especially since the reflector is already required…
Certainly both. I would not want this law to somehow encourage folks to remove their reflectors and replace them with lights. Batteries go dead all the time.
BS….see my post above.
600 feet is roughly 2 blocks.
Well, If I stop under a street light and somebody really squints, my rear light is visible for 600 ft when it’s turned off. Regardless of whether a cheap light is “visible” for 600 feet, a 2×2 reflector in the beam of car headlights is visible for a much greater distance than some cheap lights. It is also interesting that the requirements of visibility for a light are exactly the same as for the formerly (but no longer) required reflector. The only thing missing are the “lawful low beams” of a motor vehicle. Are we just looking out for those drivers who forget to turn on their lights? Are we making life easier for joggers who are going to overtake bicyclists without seeing them?
I can appreciate how requiring a rear light makes it seem like we’re doing something to keep the poor bicyclists safe, but the actual legal requirements outlined in this amended law are no different from the current requirements. All this amendment specifies is that more expensive equipment must be used to meet the already-existing visibility requirements. If current visibility to the rear is inadequate, how does it need to change? Who currently a) can’t see a reflector, and b) poses a danger or is put in danger because they can’t see a reflector?
Now if the new requirement were that the rear lighting equipment on a bicycle were to be visible at a distance of 600 ft. directly to the rear, and also be visible at a distance of 400 ft at all angles less than 35 degrees from the plane formed by the rim of the rear wheel, then perhaps only a light would do.
Assuming your hypothesis is true (which we don’t know… it’s just speculation on your part): a few less riders overall, but also a few less deaths? That’s a fair trade-off.
Lights for everyone!!
Agree, $250 is more than the value of probably 50% of the bikes out there. What’s a comparable fine for a car? $3000?
FWIW, I wouldn’t do any ‘real’ riding at night without a rear light, but I do like to putt around on my cruiser after dark in my neighborhood and look at the stars. I’m mostly just cutting through the cul-de-sacs to ride around on the paths nearby, but I’d consider it pretty ridiculous to get a $250 fine for something as ‘dangerous’ as jogging.
But you can get even a crappy dynamo w/ prebuilt wheel for less than $250. I’d rather do that as a low-income rider than pay a fine. (And $20 – $60 for a pretty DECENT rechargable is definitely better!)
Yeah, I don’t think requiring rear lights is that out of line, but a max fine of $250 (presumptive fine $110, and if you take the time to go to court in person, probably knocked down to $90) seems way out of proportion for a bicycle violation. I guess the reasoning is you could buy a pretty nice rear light for $20, so might as well pay that much now instead of $110 later.
Really, I can’t think of a traffic violation committed on a bicycle that warrants a fine over $50, and for equipment violations? Sheesh, a $10 fine seems more than enough.
Is it really appropriate to think about fines in proportion to the vehicle cost? I think a better metric to compare is the income of the violator.
For someone well-to-do, the inconvenience of having to go mail in payment is worse than the $10, and that’s probably not enough sting to change behavior. On the other hand, $250 stings enough to make such a person go out of their way to fix the problem. That’s true whether they drive a bike or a car. (And to someone barely scraping by, $10 is a lot and $250 may be financially debilitating, whether they drive a car or bike.)
With cars, there’s an additional factor of dramatically higher insurance costs following violations and accidents. Bicycles don’t have that particular deterrent, so maybe it makes sense for the fines to be higher?
I’ve heard that other countries (Denmark, iirc?) set traffic fines as a percentage of income rather than fixed costs. That might be a better approach.
Another generally accepted determiner of fine amount is the severity of the violation. We should consider as well the potential (and likely) consequences of violations when determining fine amounts. Most traffic violations are potentially much more damaging or lethal when committed while driving a motor vehicle than while riding a bike.
unless it’s the lack of a light on the back of your bike that causes you to get run over…
…Or walking in dark clothing. What should the fine for that be?
front and rear head lights are already required by law in Oregon!
Rear lights are not currently required by law. Go read the law posted below. I agree that the penalty should be much lower, but rear lights are not required right now.
“It still leaves the question will the Bill be punitive making cyclist pay fines of up to $250 for not having a rear light? …” invisiblebikes
Davis’s bill is still just a bill, not a law yet, and people will still need to think things through before it becomes law, if it does.
The expense of keeping an additional effectively working light on bike definitely is a consideration to be made. Lots of people don’t need the additional expense, but their safety is important, and the requirement of an additional light may be one of the easiest and most affordable ways of accomplishing that.
If they have the light, people aren’t going to be cited. Most likely, they wouldn’t be cited even if they didn’t have the light, given how stretched law enforcement resources are. Though some may rightly say that, the absence of the light would be another precedent tool police could use to stop people.
Basic, modest quality blinkies can be very low cost. On one hand, everyone riding having to have one is more stuff that eventually becomes junk that has to be responsibly disposed of. On the other hand, vulnerable road users need all the help they can get, and in many situations, a light on the back is definitely an upgrade in that respect, over a reflector.
Davis’ bill is an amendment to an existing law that already has a max fine of $250 for lighting equipment violations. This bill just adds one more thing that constitutes a violation. Amendment of the fine amount is unlikely if this bill goes through; the fine amount is not being considered for change.
I think the assumption that a light is always better than a reflector is faulty. There are some very cheap lights out there that are not visible for 600 ft. to the rear of a bicycle. Lights with low batteries are not always visible for 600 ft. A properly mounted red reflector, such as come stock on all bikes sold in bike stores, will always be visible for 600 ft. “when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle”. If this amendment passes, I would certainly hope that law enforcement officers would exercise discretion in handing out citations.
But back to fine amounts, Oregon needs to come up with a separate category of traffic violations that pertain specifically to bicycles. The category of “Class D traffic infraction” carries the same fines for motor vehicles as for bicycles. IMO, the safety factor, i.e., the amount of danger presented to others by a bicycle vs. the amount of danger posed by motor vehicles, warrants a fine structure for bike violations that is half or less that for motor vehicles—especially for equipment violations.
I’m sure if the bill became an amendment requiring a rear light on bikes, that people would still be able to display reflectors on
the rear of their bikes. In fact, not certain about this, but I think some better quality tail lights have reflectors incorporated into their design.
The important thing, is that the visibility of people on bikes to other road users, would be improved with the requirement of a tail light, instead of just a reflector. Not doing anything due to quibbling over the relative amounts of the citation would be a mistake. That could turn out to be one of those byzantine pursuits resulting in nothing getting done.
Just have a working tail light on the bike and you won’t get a fine. I’m not up on modest priced tail lights at the moment, but I’ll guess $15 for a decent 1 watt. I paid $28 for a better quality 2 watt, several years ago. Still working.
I’m not proposing quibbling; you seemed to have a question about whether the $250 fine amount would be “thought through” before this amendment moves ahead. I was attempting to point out that the fine amount is not up for discussion as long as this bill amends the existing law—unless there is something lower than “Class D” or the legislature wanted to change violation of the existing lighting requirements law into a “specific fine” violation.
Independently of any discussion of this proposed amendment, Oregon still needs to think about whether fines for traffic violations while riding bikes warrant the same fines as the same violations committed by drivers of cars.
Not only is this bill have consequences to the poor, but also minorities. Go look up the statistics on areas with mandatory helmet laws and who gets cited for it the most.
Do I think it’s smart to be illuminated, sure to a point I’m a big fan of dynohubs (though mine are all at least 40 years old). But many of these “safety” laws despite their best intentions (maybe) end up being used by the police to harass minorities.
Oh come on now. You want all of the rights of a road user without any of the responsibilities. If the fine is too small, there is no incentive to follow the law. People riding at night without lights is something that we can all agree is dangerous and a huge point of contention that only makes people dislike cyclists more than they already do.
Damon makes an excellent point–the fine for driving while texting should be made much, much higher.
Suspended license and community service, IMO. And irrevocable cancellation of driving privileges for first-time DUI offenses — no sarcasm.
Hey, the presumptive fine for txtng n drvng is already a whopping $50 more than for riding without your taillight. Although maybe a bright, flashing taillight would make it easier for texting drivers to notice you…
I you can’t be bothered to see bikes with rear reflectors, why do you think you’d bother paying attention to the ones with lights?
So your telling me that a cyclist should be fined $250 which is more than most moving violations, double what someone texting while driving would pay…
Your telling me that is a law You would approve of? I would not ever approve of penalizing a person for riding a bike, ever!
lets runs some scenarios here; you started riding an hour before dusk and did not turn on your light… you get pulled over and badabing your $250 poor?!
You turn your lights on as you start your ride and a half hour later the batteries die (unbeknown to you) you get pulled over for no tail light… badabing enjoy that $250 fine!
You take off for a ride with your brand new fully charged USB tail light and while your riding it falls off (because you didn’t clip it on correctly) you don’t notice till… yup you guessed it BADABING $250 later.
You forgot stolen for meth
Nobody is saying “without any responsibilities”, and we don’t have the same rights to begin with. That is a fallacy. Not that rear lights are a bad idea, but what people really want is for using a bicycle to be as expensive and inconvenient as keeping and using a car. Misery loves company.
Aren’t front/back lights already mandated by law?
No, only a rear reflector is now. The front light is required, but nothing requiring illumination from the back.
THANK YOU! I get the idea behind it and at the same time, the idea we it was going to be mandatory was very much the wrong way to go.
Common sense wins again! Glad to see Mr. Davis has changed his mind. Wasn’t quite the conversation he had hoped to start, after all?
Well wasn’t that a great way to start a conversation. /sarcasm
Here’s the amended bill with the altered language about the rear light requirement http://bikeportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/HB3255_2_2015_Regular_Session.pdf
It’s a safe bet that the committee was flooded with emails after the BTA email went out yesterday. Emails that asked the mandatory clothing language to be removed. Rear lights are good. It’s great to see that they’re listening ( or at least appear to be ).
I posted a comment to the earlier to story of this week about legislature news, and I’m reposting it here:
“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.” wsbob at:
And here’s the reply I gave you on that other post wsbob:
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.
Jonathan…not a big deal, but although somewhat the same, what you’ve posted here, is not the same reply that you posted to my comment in response to the other story: http://bikeportland.org/2015/03/25/big-day-bike-bills-salem-day-bikewalk-conference-portland-136090#comment-6304641
I accept as your opinion, what you’re writing about Davis and the bill he proposed. Personally, from what I’ve read about Davis in bikeportland stories, his efforts with the bill appear to be far more positive than has been attributed to him. The bill he introduced, transformed, may actually move on through the process to become a law achieving through upgraded safety gear, a higher level of safety on the road for people riding bikes.
I was kind of surprised that Rep Davis would even consent to an interview with bikeportland. He did, and he seemed in print to be quite amiable. Friendly. Then bikeportland turns around and does what? Instead of offering a straight objective response with alternative suggestions to what his initial bill text would have specified, this weblog goes to negative extremes in characterizing his efforts.
That’s kind of a hostile response that doesn’t help to make friends where they’re needed. On the Portland scene, different issue, that kind of response may have a lot to with why bikeportland doesn’t get quite the response it seems it would like to have from some of the city’s commissioners.
I agree. Rep. Davis seems like a great guy.. And please keep in mind that I feel my treatment of him in the stories has been fair and respectful. I have taken a different tone in the comments purposefully because I see the comments as a much more opinionated forum than a post/news story.
All that being said, I am sort of tired of trying to make sure that everyone is a friend of bicycling. We aren’t moving fast enough for biking in this city/region/state using the kum-bay-yah-lets-all-be-friends method. Maybe it’s time to start being real and calling stuff out that needs to be called out.
I got no personal beef with Rep. Davis. He’s an elected official and his ideas are supposed to be critiqued by the public… all the more reason for him to do due diligence before coming out with his ideas.
I agree with you on this one. When proposed bills are intent on shifting the responsibility for car-centric infrastructure design to anyone who dares to ride a bicycle instead of drive (reflective clothing? helmet laws? even “vehicular bicycling” feels slightly offensive to me in our current transportational context)), I know I will never please everyone who sees me ride, and I no longer care if I do.
The fact is that, until our elected officials have the political will to have honest, meaningful discussion about putting an end to private car/petroleum subsidies and increasing funding for human-scale infrastructure, I will continue to be perceived by some as an enemy of the automobile-based economy because I am An Adult Riding A Bicycle.
I can live with their disdain.
“until our elected officials have the political will to have honest, meaningful discussion about putting an end to private car/petroleum subsidies and increasing funding for human-scale infrastructure, I will continue to be perceived by some as an enemy of the automobile-based economy because I am An Adult Riding A Bicycle.
I can live with their disdain.”
I agree that Davis, especially in his picture, seems like a really friendly guy, and I wish him well. However, legislators should keep in mind that their votes sometimes reveal where their minds and hearts are, making us, the voters, love them back with another term, or… not. Voting against proportionate punishment of texting & driving, and thereby, voting against prevention of distracted driving, just doesn’t appear to all constituents like a “human-friendly” or “community-friendly” vote, no matter what vehicle they (or their teenager) uses. I give Davis full benefit of the doubt that that’s not the impression or tone he intended to create with that one vote of his or the subsequent bill he authored. I suspect that that’s in part why he’s withdrawing the bill as it was. Legislators change their minds all the time after hearing from additional voters. Or maybe he planned to withdraw it all along, who knows. My hope is that through all this conversation, he has seen that preventing people from driving heavy, fast–even explosive–machines while distracted, via a deterrent strong and weighty enough (huge fine/loss of driving privileges) would be more loving/friendly/protective of ALL constituents as humans, whether they walk, walk with a guide dog, jog, bike, use a wheelchair, drive a car, etc. That protection extends to and includes the very people having the hardest time resisting that phone while driving along traffic-jammed Walker Road or Sandy Blvd. It protects them from their own hard-to-break habit. Like those gambling public service messages suggest, it may be on all of us to help people stay off the phone while driving, by encouraging laws that deter it, and refusing to text/talk on the phone with someone known to be driving.
I’m really thankful this “Davis conversation” occurred; I believe it’s culminating in lots more ideas for better distracted driving laws reaching the email inboxes and ears of lawmakers.
And perhaps, it went down just like he said it did.
I see plenty of bicycling road cones around town, and the bicycle culture being what it is – has no shortage of people willing to tell you how you’re doing it wrong (and I turn my head to look in the mirror).
Maybe just a friendly reminder when there’s an opponent whose campaign I can donate to?
Jonathan…what you did, is you turned on Davis. Distorting his intentions with the bill he presented to the legislature. Saying in the headline of a bikeportland story that he wanted to “punish” people that bike without wearing hi-vis clothing? That was way over the top. And saying in the headline of this story that he “gives up” the mandatory reflective clothing requirement? Not good either. It’s a bill. Not a law. A bill to become a law, which as bills generally do in the procedure towards becoming laws, undergo changes. Sometimes many changes, or major changes as apparently is the case with this one.
Everybody doesn’t have to be a friend of biking for there to be sufficient support to make improvements in infrastructure that will be better for biking and other modes of travel as well. It’s important though when somebody, especially someone in a position to exert some effort towards constructive change, makes some gestures towards doing so…that people wanting constructive change do not attack and turn on them.
I hope Davis responds personally to bikeportland’s request for info on how the reflective clothing requirement came to be dropped from the bill, but after the bad treatment he’s gotten from bikeportland, it won’t be a surprise to me if he chooses not to.
thanks again for your comments wsbob.
for what it’s worth Rep Davis called me this evening to chat about the bill and remind me about the hearing on Monday. I plan to be in Salem on Monday and will make amends with him in person! I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear that. ;-). Cheers.
Maus…I’m very glad to hear Rep Davis returned your call, and yes, I will be interested in how the conversation about the bill goes. It should go well.
Re-working the bill to propose a tail light be required equipment for bikes, is a good change, and probably much more easily written than a proposal requiring the display of reflective material on the clothes or person of people riding bikes.
Still, putting together a viable bill requiring a tail light on bikes may be quite a challenge.
wsbob, in my newspaper internship days I learned a main purpose of a headline is to get the article read. Weathered & savvy politicians know this too. Maybe what you’re noticing is simply effective headline writing?
“Constructive change,” in my opinion, would not be to force people who bike to change (either by changing their vehicles or how they ride them) unless it’s to give us more protected spaces to ride in and make it easier and safer for attracting newcomers to bike riding. Because en mass and in general, we on bikes obey road laws as required (even though they’re written for vehicles the size and weight of cars), and we ride to be seen by anyone who’s driving their car correctly. I’ve used rear lights AND a reflector (there’s a huge one on my bike bag) since I started riding ten years ago, as have most people I know who ride, so how exactly does the state benefit from adding this rear bike light law?
Unfortunately, I suspect a law like this (which originates from a bill, as you stated, in this case, a bill Davis wrote) most benefits car drivers who want to escape liability for bad driving, and who don’t want to be bothered to put their phone away or wear proper glasses/contact lenses. In an accident, a rear bike light could easily be knocked off into the bushes or down a grate, and then it’s the cyclist’s word they had one and had it on. (If they can still speak.) That’s really not change, or if it is, it’s DEstructive change. I’d rather not have legislation that makes it easier for drivers of cars to escape liability for a bike-car crash they may have caused.
Actual constructive change, imo, requires looking at excess car driving (the nation clocked in at the most miles driven ever last year) and expecting much better driving from those doing it. It would certainly involve our representatives getting input from actual, experienced bike commuters (whether they consider us their “friends” or not–it’s just smart policy writing to gather data from those who live that data daily).
I’d add that anytime, Mr. Davis could go ahead and give a statement to voters, clarifying and offering more details about that vote against increasing texting fines while driving, and explain the reasoning behind it. He could also tell us more about his motives behind this bill we’re all discussing. That way people wouldn’t have to keep analyzing his intent like is done to a poor Sylvia Plath poem in literature class.
“…Because en mass and in general, we on bikes obey road laws as required (even though they’re written for vehicles the size and weight of cars), and we ride to be seen by anyone who’s driving their car correctly. …” ~n
~n…if you’re riding in traffic as you describe, I think that’s great. While it’s true there are a good percentage of people riding that without laws to oblige them to, do use a range of means to enhance their visibility to other road users driving or biking.
The serious counterpoint to this, is that there seems to be a huge number of people riding, that are not making any efforts to assure their visibility on at least a reasonable level, to other road users. At best, often in various road situations, many of these people riding are sometimes very difficult to see for a person paying attention while driving, let alone a less than fully attentive person driving. It’s people neglecting such a lack of due care that prompts the presentation of bills with the objective that the bill Davis presented, has.
Sometimes I think reading all that tiny text on phones makes people’s eyes buggier than ever. Maybe it’s time for the state to require annual eye exams in exchange for driving privileges? It’s a pretty big deal not to be able to see when driving a car…
“Then bikeportland turns around and does what? Instead of offering a straight objective response with alternative suggestions to what his initial bill text would have specified, this weblog goes to negative extremes in characterizing his efforts.”
Well one reason I suspect for this discrepancy is that some of us don’t see what Davis proposed as constructive, as anything but punitive and ill-conceived. As such, his proposal doesn’t deserve an objective response with alternative suggestions because that would just dignify his vengefulness. What he’s put forward is a solution in search of a problem.
“…Well one reason I suspect for this discrepancy is that some of us don’t see what Davis proposed as constructive, as anything but punitive and ill-conceived. As such, his proposal doesn’t deserve an objective response with alternative suggestions because that would just dignify his vengefulness. What he’s put forward is a solution in search of a problem.” watts
And that’s fine if some of you see see what Davis proposed as being not constructive, punitive and ill-conceived. Your view on the matter, doesn’t mean that what he’s proposed, isn’t constructive. Your view doesn’t mean that what he’s proposed is punitive. Proposing that people riding bikes use gear on their person that will aid other road users in more readily seeing them, is not punitive.
I’ve not read how the idea for the bill Davis presented, was conceived. In reading the title and text of the original bill, logically, it was presented to aid other road users, particularly those driving motor vehicles, in more readily becoming aware of the presence of people riding bikes within the vicinity of their vehicles.
The idea of using hi-vis and reflective materials to help road users more readily see vulnerable road users, is not a new idea. Vulnerable road users traveling the road on foot and bike, have been doing this for years. The material has for years, been used on motor vehicles and stationary objects as well. Davis’ original bill simply proposed to more consistently extend the effective use of the material on the part of people that bike.
Would that proposal as written in the original bill, have posed some complications? Yes it, as any new bill may, likely would have needed work accordingly, to possibly work them out. An objective look at what those complications would be, and the offering of alternative suggestions to what the bill prescribed, could have helped further an understanding of issues related to having people riding bikes on the road, be more consistently and readily visible to other road users.
The bill Davis presented, has been re-worked to delete the reflective material on person objective and with a move instead to make tail lights required standard equipment for bikes, is still active, still having as its objective, improvements to the visibility of people riding bikes.
“The idea of using hi-vis and reflective materials to help road users more readily see vulnerable road users, is not a new idea. Vulnerable road users traveling the road on foot and bike, have been doing this for years. The material has for years, been used on motor vehicles and stationary objects as well.”
And yet, distracted drivers smashing into cyclists hasn’t gone down. It’s great that you want to give the rep kudos for “starting a conversation” but vulnerable users didn’t put themselves in that category. Drivers are the ones needing to change their behavior, not the people getting creamed by them.
“…And yet, distracted drivers smashing into cyclists hasn’t gone down. It’s great that you want to give the rep kudos for “starting a conversation” but vulnerable users didn’t put themselves in that category. Drivers are the ones needing to change their behavior, not the people getting creamed by them. ” Any
Relatively few people that drive, ‘smash’ into people biking. There are many, many people driving on the road, and the far majority of them avoid collisions with people biking, despite the fact that people biking are obliged to use only the very minimum to enhance the visibility of their bikes to other road users.
People biking, that knowingly use roads where the use of motor vehicles occurs, do place themselves, as you put it, in the ‘category’ of vulnerable road users.
If you believe people driving need change their behavior…ok: put together some kind of a bill, or an idea for a bill to accomplish that. Present it to an elected representative for advice in preparing it for submittal for legislative consideration, as well as asking asking the opinion of people that bike about it, as Rep Davis did.
wsbob, quick question: I noticed when you said, “People biking, that knowingly use roads…do place THEMselves” that you said “them” rather than “OURselves.” Am I reading into it too much, or do you not consider yourself an active commuter or vulnerable road user?
I ask because nearly all of us ARE, at some point, “vulnerably” commuting; i.e. we all have to cross the street at SOME point, if we live or work or recreate downtown, and if not us, someone we love does. For me, observing people breaking the law (ORS 811.507) is a DAILY occurrence, often many times daily. And I cannot walk in a crosswalk (at my turn!) without watching like a hawk, or I WILL get hit. Huge, HUGE bummer that “pedestrian right of way” is treated like an irritating relic by so many drivers.
I admit I see HB 3255 as a bit of a diversion from solving that illegal driving problem. Perhaps you don’t, wsbob, and maybe that’s what some saw as “contrarian” ? Nothing wrong with presenting an alternative perspective! After all, that’s what cyclists are doing (by example) for people who thought they couldn’t live without a car. I’m not trying to speak for anyone but me, but I, and maybe others who are deeply frustrated with distracted drivers, am/are wondering why you don’t seem as troubled by that problem as we are, especially if most cyclists already do ride with the proper visibility gear? Maybe in reality you ARE very troubled by it, but still believe HB 3255 going into law would somehow save a good deal more cyclists’ lives? Just trying to understand…
Anyway, it’d be an absolute pleasure & interesting learning experience to write a bill in the vein you mention, since we perhaps cannot trust some of the people the state allows to drive to understand the importance of 100% focus while driving. We could start the opinion collecting right here! I’ve got some ideas, maybe I’ll present them here later…
“People biking, that knowingly use roads where the use of motor vehicles occurs, do place themselves, as you put it, in the ‘category’ of vulnerable road users.”
Different question: Why, if I decide to walk or ride my bike somewhere, am I placing myself in danger? Why are not those who choose to drive placing me in danger?
This is the faulty idea that needs correction. We tend to view driving as the common-sense, not-a-choice activity, while walking, using transit, or riding a bike are alternative “choices” that certain [weird] people make. This is the starting point for unconscious driving. Continuing down that path is what leads to victim-blaming and absolution of drivers in all but the most egregious cases of homicidal driving. It’s what makes us think that VRUs bear a disproportionate amount of responsibility for avoiding getting themselves run over.
~n at: http://bikeportland.org/2015/03/26/oregon-house-rep-gives-mandatory-reflective-clothing-bill-136181#comment-6316142
~n …there’s a limit to how many different thoughts and perspectives any person can present in a single comment. I try to have what I write here be direct and concise, but even then, it’s difficult to not have comments be lengthy. Lengthy being something some bikeportland readers object to.
I walk city streets, bike them, and drive them, seeing and experiencing instances of people driving badly, and people biking badly.
Skimmed over your comment, missed it yesterday. To answer your question: of course I’m very concerned with the bad driving characterizing many people’s use of the road, and I’ve no qualms about saying so. Definitely worth considering various means of bringing that bad driving into check, in specific terms, as in actual changes in law or law enforcement to do that, and in terms of dollars and cents, rather than idle chatter.
But that’s people driving, and there’s realistic limits to how much can be accomplished through testing, law, and penalties to bring the bad driving into check. Plus, there’s already a bunch of stuff of that type in effect, working some to do this.
On the other hand, for people biking, there’s very little comparable, to make efforts towards correcting bad biking, and of course to make biking safer by means the person biking is required to be responsible for, such as visibility gear for the person and their bike.
Do you yell “FIRE!!!” instead of saying “Hi” when you meet someone? There are good ways to start a conversation, but you seem to think that going way overboard to gain attention is somehow better. It’s not.
Correction: “…but I think it’s a mistake to sum up his efforts as you have. …”
Even if you give Davis the benefit of the doubt, it’s difficult to assume that he has his head on straight when you learn that “he voted against a bill (Senate Bill 9) that increased fines for texting and driving in 2013.”
Telling vulnerable road users to wear reflective clothing while not increasing the punishment distracted drivers is confusing at best. I suppose I just shouldn’t go out at night at all then because there might be drunk drivers on the road? Best to just stay out of their way?
It just doesn’t add up, and no one is going to buy the ‘start a conversation’ excuse. Punitive laws are not conversation starters. If he truly wanted to make a difference why would he spend his time discouraging reckless and distracted driving.
“…when you learn that “he voted against a bill (Senate Bill 9) that increased fines for texting and driving in 2013.” …” Scott H
Scott, did you ever learn why Davis voted against that bill? I think it may have been you that brought up the point in a bikeportland discussion some time back, about his vote on this bill. That he voted against that bill, (I’m taking your word for it that he did vote against it.), does not necessarily mean that he is opposed to increased fines for texting and driving. There may have been other reasons for his vote.
Here’s a link to SB 9’s history, with how our representatives all voted under section 7-7 (H). Click to expand the section to see all: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2013R1/Measures/Overview/SB9
Here’s the Staff Measure Summary that our representatives likely would have read before deciding how to vote: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2013R1/Downloads/MeasureAnalysisDocument/17730
“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.”
Do I think A=B? No! But sometimes, when I want it to… yes.
“…Do I think A=B? No! But sometimes, when I want it to… yes.” A.H.
Funny! I’ve heard that line or something similar, somewhere, but?
I just meant to say that I think Davis may have decided to take this tack because, if for example he’d decided to just present a bill to amend the law requiring only a rear reflector, to have it require a tail light, maybe reaction to the bill would have been something like, ‘boring… .”, and would have gotten it tossed outright.
Davis got people’s attention focused on visibility of people riding bikes. The word came out that many of them don’t want the law telling them what they should wear while biking, but also, that they do consider their visibility to other road users to be an important issue. The transformed, or reworked bill, requiring a tail light, would be a positive response to that consideration.
Interesting turn of events!
I have a question for Bikeportland–I arrived at the site just now while researching the answer to these two questions (while I was considering the bill mandating reflective clothing):
1. Can passengers in cars be given a fine if they are in the car with a driver who is pulled over for texting & driving? (In the manner that passengers can be given a DUI along with the driver who is drunk?)
2. Can drivers legally hold and look down at maps on their GPS device (or other non cell phone item) while they drive? And again, is there any state mandated passenger responsibility?
I look forward to seeing if Jonathan or Michael know more about this, but in the meantime I’ve continued researching the above questions this afternoon; so far the only distracted driving law I can find is ORS 811.507. Is that right, does anyone know? For example, I don’t find any law or precedent for fining passengers or parents of drivers who are caught using a cell phone (like can be done with DUI).
I believe a bill putting additional responsibility on passengers in cars would be a good one for a legislator to write, especially now that yesterday’s news reports about that AAA study surfaced. Frankly, I can’t see a difference between eyes-down for crucial seconds on a handheld GPS device while the car’s in motion, and eyes-down on a cell phone, except that maybe Facebook or Twitter can be more emotion-rousing than maps. It’s astounding that putting on make-up or shaving while driving a car is just fine and perfectly legal, too. Maybe it’s just that as a longtime cyclist, I accept that I’ll just be doing one activity during my commute: commuting. If people are too bored to drive without checking Twitter, join those of us commuting by bike! It’s never boring, that’s for sure.
I didn’t know (before now) that passengers held any liability for what a driver does. I’m definitely going to find out more about that (I’d welcome citations if you have them).
I disagree that passengers should be liable for happening to be in the same vehicle as a driver who does something wrong. I may be a passenger because I am/want/need to be intoxicated, distracted, asleep, etc. I’m not a co-pilot (co-driver?), nor am I a deputized officer responsible for ensuring the legal behavior of those around me. Conscripting passengers into the role of law enforcement is going to result in less ride-sharing, which is the opposite of what our policy goals should be.
In the DUI situation, I am more understanding, because the passenger is presumably aware before the trip begins. Distraction is a safety issue, but so is a missing light, a poorly-maintained vehicle, or hundreds of other things. While there may be a moral obligation to intervene, I dislike making it a legal one for the same reason I dislike mandated medical responder laws in some states. It compels me to do something I otherwise might not, with no compensation or regard for its impact on my life.
Imagine how outlandish it would be to apply the same logic to commercial transactions. Must I perform a background check and verify the license of every taxi driver whose car I summon? Should I be liable if the hurried driver of my bus right hooks a cyclist? Or (heaven forbid..) if the bus driver is intoxicated?
Great points, Tait. True, I was picturing a situation in which a passenger can clearly see danger in the way the driver is handling the car and does nothing to stop it.
Interestingly, some of the other situations you brought up can be argued against using the same logic used to argue against requiring a cyclist to wear reflective clothing. Namely, it’s on the driver of the car (or bus, as you mentioned) to watch the road and see others using it, not on the bike riders out there or innocent passengers. In the AAA study, however, inexperienced drivers at least tend to have more accidents the more people are in the car. So maybe passenger liability is at least worth discussing.
I truly don’t know the answers for sure about passenger liability beyond that DUI situation; I’m really just asking the questions to find out for myself in case I’m in that situation…
Adolescent drivers are a special case, I’d say. Research seems to increasingly show that adolescent risk behavior is normative when alone, but the limbic system gets ahead of the frontal cortex when in the company of peers. Which is why there are additional license restrictions on young drivers. I’m guessing that may be behind the “more accidents with more passengers” that you mentioned.
I did some looking online, but haven’t found any support for charging a passenger with a DUII. A critical element seems to be proving the defendant was actually in control of the vehicle, and unless there is doubt who was driving or unusual circumstances (e.g. grabbing the wheel), the person in control won’t be the passenger.
Passengers can get charged with other crimes, and it sounds like California arrests and charges drunk passengers with public intoxication (instead of calling them a cab, I guess?) as a way to get them off the street when the driver is arrested and their ride gets towed. And then drops the charges in the morning after they’ve slept it off in a jail cell. What a lovely system; good job, California. [That is sarcasm.]
In regards to DUI, I’d found links like these, which seem to be saying, “It’s possible to get charged, but it depends”: http://thelawdictionary.org/article/what-happens-to-a-passenger-in-a-dui-arrest/ and http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/07/19/consequences-of-a-passenger-riding-with-someone-stopped-for-a-dui/.
These links do bring up the point that a drunk driver with child passengers is committing child endangerment and will likely get charged with that as well as a DUI. Parents driving while using cell phones are also endangering passengers, and committing child endangerment if they have kids in the car (not to mention setting a terrible example).
If a passenger is afraid to tell the driver to focus on the road because they’re a child speaking to an adult, what then, I wonder?
2) not sure, but should
I thought the only times one vehicle occupant could be held responsible for the actions of another were in cases such as seatbelt use, where if I understand correctly, the driver can be cited along with a non-seatbelt-wearing passenger, but not the converse.
This is what I wrote to the representative:
“1. When is the last time you rode a bike?
2. What were you wearing at the time?
3. What time of day / night were you riding?
4. Were you wearing a helmet?
5. Did the clothes you wore give you any safety benefit? (Perceived or otherwise)
6. If you would have been struck by a motorized vehicle from behind with a speed differential of 30+ mph while riding your bike, would you be alive, regardless of your clothing choices?
7. If a member of your family was killed while they were on their bike, what relevant information would you hope the news stations report?
8. Would you be opposed to a news station stating the facts of the collision in a manner that appeared to place blame on the person riding their bike? (Example: “A relative of a representative was killed today while riding their bike. They did not wear reflective clothing and were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. The driver of the vehicle is cooperating and is not expected to face charges.”)
You wanted to “have a conversation,” so please answer my questions.
If you do not answer my questions, I will assume that your desire for a conversation was purely political talk and that you don’t actually care about safety of vulnerable road users.”
Although I would still like a response to each of my questions, I think it’s great that he is revising the bill. I don’t necessarily agree with mandatory rear lights, but I ride with a rear light and a reflector anyway.
#6 is fantastic. “F=m*a, tell me more about how dangerous bikes are compared to cars” trips up anyone that steeped in car culture. Well-written!
Thanks! 🙂 I wrote it at 2 or 3 in the morning, so I wasn’t entirely sure if it made sense. I’d like to think my message is the straw that broke the camel’s back, but I’m sure he received a lot of messages from concerned citizens.
The inspiration for the numbered list and specific questions regarding their choices / their family came to me from a post a bit ago: http://bikeportland.org/2015/01/15/single-question-can-sell-anyone-vision-zero-130983
It helps to make things relevant for the reader.
Since we often pivot to the Dutch on best practices for biking, I looked into it and learned anyone riding a bike at night in the Netherlands is required to have both front and rear lights, and to my joy, blinking lights are not allowed.
Germany has the same law, and all bikes must be sold with lights.
Re: fine amounts – See John Oliver’s latest video about “Municipal Violations”. People that are breaking minor laws, getting fined way beyond what they are able to pay, and then costing taxpayers far more than the original fine is a truly awful system. That only becomes worse when corrupt police systems target disfranchised people proportionally (you may have heard about Ferguson).
Especially regarding bicycles, where breaking laws generally puts the cyclist at risk, versus car drivers breaking laws that generally puts everyone and everything around them at significant risk.
As much as I want all cyclists to have lights, I don’t want one second of police time wasted on the ones that don’t have a light, when there are far more people causing far more damage by driving cars awfully.
I’d actually prefer any police to go “so, you know you’re really hard to see? here is where you can get a light*.”
*Decent blinkies (3w front, 1w rear), not junk, should be handed out like candy.
Instead of fees, they could just charge you $20 for a decent light on the spot. I’ve heard of this with child seats, where a cop had stopped a mother that wasn’t securing the child, and knowing that giving her a fee that cost more than a seat would only result in her not being able to buy a seat, he escorted her to the store to just buy a gosh darn seat already. Problem solved, with no additional hardship expenses necessary.
If you’re on a bike, you’re more likely to be threatened with arrest for a minor equipment violation than you are to be offered helpful hints.
Or to be hit by a texting police officer.
Until there are some sort of (preferably national) standards for bike lighting, I will remain opposed to any change in ORS 815.280; the rear reflector standard is fine as it is, as long as cyclists comply with the law as written, and I’m really tired of the ‘anything goes’ approach to bike lighting, from retina-searing headlights to epilepsy-inducing rear flashing lights.
excellent. now focus your attention on contacting your senators to maintain Amtrak service to Eugene: http://www.aortarail.org/index.php/action_alerts/
I propose a law that drivers who cause right hook crashes must have their right foot removed AND . . . badabing . . . pay a $250 fine. That should start a conversation.
(This suggestion not brought to you by the Eighth Amendment.)
pedestrians are also vulnerable road users and I doubt that anybody is thinking of requiring everybody walking around at night to carry a light when there’s no sidewalk under their feet…
vehicle users are required to see and avoid pedestrians using the road at night even if they pedestrian is wearing all black clothing…
I think it’s great to have all the lights you can but cars still drive into me even though my bike is literally lit up like a christmas tree…
this seems like another law that tells drivers that they only have to pay attention to things that are intentionally grabbing their attention rather than making them pay attention to everything…
a rear light is not protection… drivers have all the protection and while they do they will continue to not pay attention…
I want to start a conversation about political corruption and “campaign contributions” (bribes) in the millions of dollars, should I start with making taking a bribe in excess of $1000 a death-penalty offense?
$1000….phffttt make it 100 and I’ll back ya.
In terms of debating justification for $250 fine for no tail lamp, let’s recall the current fine for rolling through a stop sign (selectively enforced in occasional notorious “sting” operations) is around $200, right? In my world riding at night with no rear visibility is far more dangerous than not coming to a complete, foot down stop at most intersecstins much kess places like Ladd Circle where a complete stop for bicycle is totally uneccessary
OK redo! In terms of debating justification for $250 fine for no tail lamp, let’s recall the current fine for rolling through a stop sign (selectively enforced in occasional notorious “sting” operations) is around $200, right? In my world riding at night with no rear visibility is far more dangerous than not coming to a complete, foot down stop at most intersections much less places like Ladd Circle where a complete stop for bicycle is totally unnecessary. The idea of fines is to put pressure for observation of rules and this makes sense. But if anything the amounts for these should be reversed.
The best outcome of this law would be to have more cyclists use lights at night. It is unclear that this will happen. Case in point is the number of people on a bike blog who do not know what the existing law is.
One of the unavoidable negative impacts of this law is the ridiculous financial penalty that will be imposed on people. It is not equitable.
If you can afford a 250 dollar fine, chances are you have bike lights already.
There are much better ways to influence behavior and make roads safer than regressive penalties.
John Davis is merely trying to save face after proposing legislation that revealed his incompetence as a legislator.
I will believe that he cares about cyclists safety once he invests a reasonable amount of time in understanding the dangers that do exist for cyclists and/ or works with people who spend their lives working on pedestrian and cyclists safety.
His current approach of legislating behavior is thoughtless and irresponsible.
Well, guys, at least he’s committed to starting a conversation… even if this idea didn’t work out in the way that he had hoped. I very much look forward to all his other innovative, unique ideas that he surely has in his mind for how to keep cyclists safe.
I wait shuffling my toes within my loafers and drinking coffee, clicking refresh on my browser, for the next story covering Rep. Davis’s new ideas that are surely coming soon.
Nothing like a little sarcastic whimsy to start the day. Thanks for your ‘participation’ in the conversation, and the ‘…innovative, unique ideas…’ you’ve offered as suggestions for the continuing development of the bill Rep. John Davis presented towards improvements to the safety of people riding bikes. Now having had some fun, maybe you could split time between fiddling with your loafers, and giving some thought to coming up with a few ideas related to tail lights, that could help the bill Davis is working on, be better.
The bill Davis presented, now that its objective has been changed from seeking to require the display of reflective material on clothes or person of people riding bikes, to seeking an amendment of an existing law, that would require a tail light rather than just a reflector, is still a long ways from becoming a law, if in fact it does eventually become law.
That’s an opportunity for readers of bikeportland, and everyone else, to seriously make efforts to envision various ways the bill for an amendment, in being re-worked, could be written to arrive at a result that’s effective and fair to all it would effect.
What would the minimum cost be for people to equip their bikes with a reliable tail light of sufficient illumination? Should the requirement be for a blinking tail light? A steady tail light? Or either? In a situation where there are many bikes being ridden within a close area, should the light be in blinking mode, or steady mode?
The above are just a small number of considerations that come to mind. I expect there will be more that people will need to think over.
The way to make this “conversation” productive is by reminding other politicians of it when Davis is voted out of office. Offering suggestions / begging for scraps only encourages more bad faith bills.
“Now having had some fun, maybe you could split time between fiddling with your loafers, and giving some thought to coming up with a few ideas related to tail lights, that could help the bill Davis is working on, be better.”
-wsbob (Aka the Contrarian)
That’s easy, what would make the bill (much) better? Add, that for every dollar a cyclist has to spend on “making him or herself safe from motorists” then a motorist spends 5 times that amount on making themselves a safer driver!
If I spend $50 on a tail light then a registered car owner must spend $250 on driving lessons, being taught the rules and laws of the road or must donate that money specifically to better infrastructure to “make the roads a safe environment for all users”
If Rep Davis wants to “Start a conversation” about bicycle safety then maybe he should talk to people who ride bicycles on the roads. Or do his research and most likely see the glaring data that all points to the real culprit… the automobile and the horribly designed infrastructure around it. Or the even more glaring data that points directly at the motorists driving them that get away with killing people, damaging buildings and private property, the environment and the roads themselves!
All he would have to do is tune into the local news every night for a week and see the overwhelming evidence that the problem is Cars and their drivers!
His bill is just another one sided attempt to place more responsibility and blame on the victims, pure and simple.
“All he would have to do is tune into the local news every night for a week and see the overwhelming evidence that the problem is Cars and their drivers!”
In between all of the car commercials, that is…
Knock off the name calling and get serious. Responsibility for safe use of the road is already disproportionately placed on people that drive.
“Responsibility for safe use of the road is already disproportionately placed on people that drive.”
Can you elaborate? Give examples?
The idea of a proportion is mathematical; it is an equivalence between two ratios. We see it in things such as percentages: 15 out of 20 (one ratio) is proportional to the ratio 75 out of 100. Or 15/20 = 75/100 = 75%. We see it in things such as recipes: 2 eggs to 1 cup of flour = 3 eggs to ??? cups of flour. Proportions can be solved by using the fact that for any proportion, the cross products of the ratios are equal. In the first example, 15 x 100 = 75 x 20, so you know the two ratios are “proportional”. We can figure out the answer in the second example by noting that 3 x 1 = 2 x f, and conclude that 3/2 = f. So then, our expanded recipe should use 1.5 cups of flour, because 2:1 = 3:1.5; we solved the proportion.
So now, if we want to apply some notion of what is proportional to road user responsibility, we just have to decide what we are being responsible for. Let’s call that thing which we are responsible for on the road “destruction”. Then all we have to do is figure out who causes the most destruction, and we can figure out who should have the most responsibility. If we measure destruction caused by a particular mode as a percentage of all roadway destruction, it will be easy to figure out the corresponding percentage of responsibility. As far as roadway destruction goes, the weather is slightly more destructive than bicycles, so we can pretty safely put 100% of roadway damage on cars. As far as other property or personal destruction (injury/death), bicycles can scratch a car or run into each other or pedestrians, so there is some destruction caused by bicycles. Let’s be extremely conservative, and say that 1% of bodily harm or property damage caused by vehicles or roadway use in general is caused by bicycles (and we’ll ignore the likely fact that this would be even less if legal and space constraints weren’t disproportionately applied to bicyclists because of making allowances for cars), then we would have a destruction ratio for cars/bicycles of 99/1. OK. So now, how much responsibility do we think bicyclists should take for creating (or avoiding) mayhem on the streets? 50%? 25%? Let’s be really generous and say that bicyclists should only take 10% of the responsibility. Would you say that was “disproportionate”? Would it be no fair to make drivers take 90% of the responsibility? Let’s forget about percentages, and just use a “responsibility factor” to do the math—
99:1 = r:10, so 99 x 10 = r = 990. So if we are keeping things “proportional”, it looks like drivers have a responsibility factor not of 90, but 990! Yikes!
What you are viewing as “disproportionate” is a result of the legal favoritism and systematic removal of responsibility from drivers so that we now have an artificial responsibility to stay out of the way of drivers, rather than for drivers to drive safely. Our measure of safety is predicated on the notion that people who could be hurt will know what’s good for them and take their responsibility to avoid getting run over seriously. The real measure of safe driving is not what you do when the expectation is that everyone else will get out of your way and wear glowing costumes while scurrying out of your path, but what you do when driving down a street that is crowded with people walking or riding bikes. When cars were first introduced, nobody thought it was “disproportionate” to put every last bit of responsibility for safety on drivers. Only after the auto industry lobbied hard and cars became “affordable” for a majority of citizens did we invent “jaywalking” and start putting safety responsibilities on children to stay out of the street, rather than drivers to watch out for children.
Even at night time, visibility requirements are only in place because drivers have an unsafe expectation to be able to drive too fast to be able to see where they are going. Truly “safe” night time driving would be at about 15 mph, depending on how well-lit the street was. So yes, it is in a bicyclist’s or pedestrian’s best interest to “be visible”, but do they have a “responsibility” to “be seen”? Only because we have taken the responsibility for safety away from drivers and artificially placed it on others. We’ve decided to normalize extremely destructive behavior, and therefore absolve participants in that extremely destructive behavior of a large measure of the responsibility they rightly bear.
my nomination for comment of the week!
Incredible. Absolutely priceless. And he’s not even being paid for it.
Wow, really?! Even from you I’m surprised.
Surely you and the couple others (bic excluded.) responding to the comment I posted, must have something more substantial and constructive on the point to offer. Why are you surprised? Don’t you agree that responsibility for safe use of the road is already disproportionately placed on people that drive? If not, explain why.
It’s kind of obvious that people riding bikes on the road, aren’t required to be insured to ride a bike on the road. They’re not required to study and test for any level of proficiency to ride a bike on the road. Required visibility gear for use of their bikes on the road, is a bare minimum of a front headlight and a rear reflector.
People driving, have to be insured to drive. They have to study and pass a written test, and take a driving test. No remotely similar requirements for people riding bikes in traffic amongst motor vehicles.
People that want to ride a motorcycle on the road, have to take the drivers test, and an additional motorcycle endorsement test, after they’ve paid a couple hundred bucks to take a state required motorcycle in traffic class. And of course, they’re required to be ensured to ride a motorcycle on the road.
Commercial truck drivers have the drivers test to take, and instruction to get a CDL, and be insured to drive.
Comparatively, people that want to ride a bike on the road amongst motor vehicles, get out of all of the above, scot free. Technically, anyone that can balance a bicycle and pedal, has a headlight and a rear reflector, is good to go. Though it’s true that people riding bikes are supposed to comply with the same rules of the road regulating people’s use of the road with motor vehicles.
And while increasing numbers of people that bike are going the extra mile to self educate and sufficiently equip their bike and person to ride on the road amongst motor vehicles, many aren’t, and their conduct and lack of visibility on the road shows it. Aside from the prospect of death or injury in a collision with a motor vehicle, which a considerable number of people riding do not seem to be fazed by, there’s little means in place to get these people to shoulder their share of responsibility for safe use of the road when they ride a bike. It may not be a great step forward, but the requirement of a tail light on bikes could possibly be a step forward, and one at least worth some serious consideration.
That’s actually such great PR for newcomers to biking! It’s really pretty great, isn’t it?! Bike commuting is heart & soul, across the board American! Like its cousin, walking, there’s not a huge amount you can learn before just getting out there and trying it! Just go slow at first, and build leg strength. Let your sense of awareness and of being in the moment redevelop. It’s hard at times, but worth it. There’s the freedom, ease, health benefits and cost-effectiveness of it… I love those parts of it! Of course bicyclists mostly have drivers licenses too, so they’ve been tested on and know the rules of the road. Riding a bike is actually quite safe, too–except for encountering those road users who take up more space than their share without looking where they’re going (despite taking their driving test, I guess).
Sometimes the biggest naysayers of something are really would-be joiners, but for a fear hurdle. That’s understandable. Fortunately for anyone who wants to give bike commuting on city/county streets a try for the first time, but is nervous to do so without a coach, the BTA (and other organizations, too I’m sure), offer classes. Bike riding lessons are only a call or an email away! https://btaoregon.org/get-involved/host-a-bike-commute-workshop-at-your-workplace/
“…Of course bicyclists mostly have drivers licenses too, so they’ve been tested on and know the rules of the road. …” ~n
I would say that a good number of people riding bikes amongst motor vehicle traffic, have driver’s licenses and have done the study, testing, and have had some one on one guidance to prepare for the test. Though most likely, only a very small percentage of them has had ‘bike in traffic’ riding instruction.
I’d also suggest that many people riding amongst motor vehicle traffic, have no such preparation for doing so. That’s a big problem.
People really seeking improvements in conditions for biking, including dramatic improvements in bike infrastructure locally, such as cycle tracks, are likely going to have to take some initiative to generate wide public support for that kind of thing. Little things like considering having people that ride, put some reflective patches on their clothes or otherwise on their person, and add a tail light to the minimal required visibility equipment for bikes, could go some ways towards generating some of that needed support.
Or, for those people that seriously believe that more intensive, more frequent driver retesting could be a viable route to pursue, or that believe stiffer penalties for poor driving, and stronger enforcement measures are the more appropriate remedy to protection of vulnerable road users…sit down and work on a serious bill for a law seeking to accomplish those things. Include some estimate of how much the proposed measures would represent in terms of cost and time to the state and the individual. That should give some idea of whether any such bills have viability.
“I’d also suggest that many people riding amongst motor vehicle traffic, have no such preparation for doing so. That’s a big problem.”
How is that a big problem? Please elaborate.
“Or, for those people that seriously believe that more intensive, more frequent driver retesting could be a viable route to pursue, or that believe stiffer penalties for poor driving, and stronger enforcement measures are the more appropriate remedy to protection of vulnerable road users…”
“…sit down and work on a serious bill for a law seeking to accomplish those things.”
You do place a very tall burden on your interlocutors. I’m never quite sure why. You never trouble yourself to ‘work on a serious bill for a law’ – why should we go to those lengths? Why can’t we have a more symmetrical conversation in which all sides muster their best arguments right here, without reflexively sending us on these wild goose chases before you consider us eligible as conversation partners?
“Include some estimate of how much the proposed measures would represent in terms of cost and time to the state and the individual. That should give some idea of whether any such bills have viability.”
So the fact that a higher threshold for acquiring and keeping a driver’s license will surely cost (some) time and money, in your view, is a pretty sure reason why this won’t fly…. But what about the costs (if we must tally everything in terms of costs) to society of patching up the injured, of tying up law enforcement and the courts with the repercussions of the poorly trained who pilot automobiles into others right now? Or do you naturalize those costs because, well, we already are used to bearing them?
“wsbob–did you mean to say you are privy to official comments in response to HB 3255? Because it seems those would be sent directly to Representative Davis’ email address… Or were you just referring to the comments here? I doubt people here are under the impression that this is the place to officially respond to the bill. That said, I’ve read some pretty great outlines here for alternative bill proposals. This thread has clearly got all our minds going strong.” ~n
~n …thanks for reading. I’m not exactly sure to what I’ve written that you’re referring to, but here’s the deal on the invitation to respond to the bill Davis presented. In the earlier bikeportland story, Davis interviewed with bikeportland’s staff, Maus, I believe, and said in that interview that he was interested in the thoughts from people that bike, on the specs of the bill.
Doesn’t have to be an ‘official’ response to Davis’s office. People can and have responded to the bill he presented, in the comment sections of bikeportland stories. I didn’t notice any responses that offered serious, substantial suggestions for improvements or changes to the specs of the bill’s original specs. Maybe you have.
I also didn’t notice any great, or serious outlines for alternative bill proposals. None. Not a one. If you’d actually seen any such thing, you probably should have posted the link in your comment.
It seems most of what’s been presented in the bikeportland comment sections of stories on the bill Davis has presented, has been purely to express contempt for the bill Davis presented, and towards him. Essentially, the intent of people posting those type comments, seems to be to rebuff any effort made to have people that bike, shoulder their fair share of responsibility for their own safety in using the road.
By the way…Jonathan: wondering if you did get to Salem on Monday, and had an opportunity to talk more with Davis. Wondering how that went. At least some questions occurred to me about the bill he presented. One of which is from where the idea for it came in the first place, and if not from him alone, from whom.
Davis should take responsibility for endangering families by being voted out of office.
wsbob, in response to your most recent comment, I’d suggest it’s likely fairly common through history for insightful responses to a bill to cause the bill to dissolve, and a new one imagined and outlined in its stead. Improvements to the original “specs” of a bill don’t necessarily need to ride in the same vehicle, do they? That is, a bill’s author may need to let go and start over. Maybe after edits it’d be determined that total dissolution is in order due to a bill’s redundancy (i.e. when a sufficient law representing the edited-down bill is already in place).
I see a flaw in HB 3255’s premise that, to me, makes the bill unrecoverable. I’m guessing here, but maybe that flaw is why you’re not seeing what I am seeing in terms of alternative proposals. If a bill is a solution to something, those setting out to improve the bill need to know some key information: Whose problem is the bill solving, and what is that problem? Because a solution for one demographic may widen the problem another demographic is experiencing. In that case, the “problem” needs redefining, and/or a much broader solution will need to be developed.
With HB 3255, especially with Davis’ vote on SB9 in mind, I still lack clarity about what “the problem” is that Davis was setting out to solve in his bill, and more so, whose problem he was setting out to solve. I’d also be curious as to the “why” or “why now” but I could make do with the “what” and “who for.”
~n at: http://bikeportland.org/2015/03/26/oregon-house-rep-gives-mandatory-reflective-clothing-bill-136181#comment-6321597
Sure, any idea for a law, initially written up in bill form on its way to possibly becoming a law, is likely to experience alterations. This is where people commenting in bikeportland comment sections to stories about that bill, could potentially contribute to its improvement. What things brought Davis to revise the original text of the bill he presented, are things yet to be reported here on bikeportland. This weblog’s owner-editor has said he went to Salem on Monday to talk with Davis, and more. So maybe readers will eventually learn how the change came about.
I think that Davis proposing that bikes be equipped with a tail light instead of or in addition to a reflector, is definitely not a redundant action taken to an existing statute. Tail lights are a definite improvement to visibility over reflectors.
Could there be complications to requiring that people riding bikes equip their bikes with a tail light instead of just a reflector? Very possibly, which is why people with the opportunity to do so, should consider what some of those complications may be, and make an honest effort to see whether they could be worked out for an ultimately positive improvement to the existing statute requiring just a tail light on the back of the bike.
Insufficient visibility of people that are vulnerable road users, is a problem common to everybody. I don’t think there’s any mystery or secret about that. Maus is the interview guy. He should ask Davis how the idea for the bill came about. Davis being a legislator, it’s not difficult to understand that visibility of people biking may have been one of the things people he represent, were asking him to try do something about.
El Bic and n already did a pretty great job of explaining why. Now please refute them. (It’s your time to shine, Bob.)
But I guess I’ll add that along with actual destruction as El Bic attempts to define, there is also the ever-looming *potential* for destruction.
Even in the most favorable everyday circumstance (Hawthorne Bridge?), you’ll likely see nine people driving cars for every person on a bike. Meanwhile, as defined by F=MA, each of those nine-point-something people is *choosing* to wield something like 20 to 40 times the destructive force of the person on the bike (depending on rates of acceleration), not in some desperate bid to escape a zombie apocalypse but just to get across town.
I’ll welcome help from others to further work those numbers, but they will reflect that the truly outrageous disproportion is in the moment-to-moment potential for people driving cars, not riding bikes, to maim or kill your loved ones and mine — including while those loved ones are in cars themselves.
That vastly asymmetrical threat should at least help rational folks grasp the asymmetrical need for licensing, insurance and other regulation. But people want their scapegoats and/or their Stockholm syndrome, and apparently even want to incessantly extol such maladies as if they were virtues, even for free. Life’s rich pageant, I suppose. (But Jonathan, I’d bet many would agree that it’s something rather apart from inspirational or informative.)
Also: If the BTA member survey from a few years ago is any indication, there is better than an 8 in 10 chance that the person on the bike in the previous paragraphs is already a licensed driver anyway. Meanwhile, people *do not* have to be licensed and insured to drive. Plenty who have lost both continue to slide behind the wheel regardless.
Excellent expansion. I like to use E=(.5)mv2 (units=Joules) to describe the kinetic energy being wielded by any given object/vehicle in motion. I think I’ve done this before in another thread (note: I am not a physics expert; I rely on my 20-year-old basic knowledge, so somebody check my math…), but using the kinetic energy equation (further note: Wikipedia tells me this formula is only valid for velocities that are significantly less than the speed of light…) we can do some quick calculations:
Let’s say a typical car with driver weighs about 4500 lbs; about 2000kg.
Let’s say a typical bike with rider and panniers full of work junk weighs about 220 lbs, or 100 kg.
Now let’s turn them loose on the street to both travel at about 15 mph, or let’s say 25 kph, or about 7 m/s.
This gives us E = (.5)(2000kg)(49m2/s2) = 49000J for a car.
it gives us E = (.5)(100kg)(49m2/s2) = 2450J for a bike + rider with lots of junk.
So at the same speed, a car has 49000/2450 = 20 times the kinetic energy of a bike.
I don’t know about you, but the last time I saw a car being driven at 15 on a clear road was…never, so let’s say the car is moving at 30 mph (48 kph = 13.3 m/s) and we get (.5)(2000)(176.89) = 176890J. This is roughly the equivalent energy of detonating 42g of TNT. (at freeway speeds of 70mph, it would be the “TNT equivalent” of 231g).
So a car traveling at 30mph has 176890/2450 = 72.2 times the kinetic energy of a bike traveling at 15 mph. Doubling the speed increases the kinetic energy by a factor of 3.6. So those who think a little speeding is harmless…sure, as long as you don’t hit anything—it’s all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out.
“Don’t you agree that responsibility for safe use of the road is already disproportionately placed on people that drive? If not, explain why. ”
you have this curious habit of giving the impression that you did not read the responses people here on bikeportland crafted for you. El Biciclero (not to mention the others) did a serious job of not only disagreeing with you but offering some ideas and language supporting his position. We’re still waiting for you to address his criticisms, respond not with bluster but substance.
“…El Biciclero (not to mention the others) did a serious job of not only disagreeing with you but offering some ideas and language supporting his position. …” watts
bic did nothing, but, as usual, attempt to deflect efforts to have people riding bikes, accept their share of responsibility for their own safety in using the road. I browsed over them for anything of value there, but his words in that comment, are words with no substance.
Davis did something. He proposed a bill for a law seeking to improve for road users, the visibility of people riding bikes. Davis was open to suggestions for changes to the specs of the bill, but typically, most bikeportland readers commenting in response, put their foot down, declining any serious alternative suggestions to the specs of the bill, effectively doing nothing.
“Even at night time, visibility requirements are only in place because drivers have an unsafe expectation to be able to drive too fast to be able to see where they are going. Truly ‘safe’ night time driving would be at about 15 mph, depending on how well-lit the street was.”
“…his words in that comment, are words with no substance.”
That is the best you can do, wsbob? That is too bad, because you generally seem like a smart fellow. But when your sparring partners pull out the stops here you tend to resort to huffing and puffing*.
wsbob–did you mean to say you are privy to official comments in response to HB 3255? Because it seems those would be sent directly to Representative Davis’ email address… Or were you just referring to the comments here? I doubt people here are under the impression that this is the place to officially respond to the bill. That said, I’ve read some pretty great outlines here for alternative bill proposals. This thread has clearly got all our minds going strong.
“bic did nothing, but, as usual, attempt to deflect efforts to have people riding bikes, accept their share of responsibility for their own safety in using the road. I browsed over them for anything of value there, but his words in that comment, are words with no substance.”
Nice, wsbob. Rather than “deflecting”, I’m attempting to get us all to think about what “share of responsibility” people who venture out under natural power should own, and why. I also attempted to add some substance to your apparently blase use of the word “disproportionate”. Now I welcome you to come up with a better proxy for responsibility than “destruction” (or “potential destruction”, as put forth by Bill Walters), but if you actually think about the mass, velocity, and destructive capacity of motor vehicles, there’s quite a lot of “substance” there. Substance that drivers apparently want to put out of their minds because the burden of knowing you are subjecting those around you to that much danger is too much for most people to fully internalize. You apparently agree with this, as you are seeking to externalize some of that responsibility onto bicyclists (and transitively onto pedestrians, although they’re not part of this discussion). Here’s a little more substance for you: why not have dual speed limits anywhere the limit is 30 or above? Why not make speed limits 10mph or 25% (whichever is greater) lower at night on surface streets?
The number one reason for needing enhanced visibility is because closing speeds between motor vehicles and bicycles are expected to be outrageously high—even higher when we factor in the de facto “10-over” rule for being cited for speeding. Why not allow photo speed enforcement as is up for legislative discussion? There’s something that would actually enhance safety. This is not the wild west, I can’t just shoot someone for cheatin’ at the poker table, why should I be allowed to run someone over because, durn it, I was goin’ fast and their rear-end warn’t blinkin’ enough?
Make no mistake: in my own interest of self-preservation, I love me some lights. But in the unlikely event that my rear light burns out (batteries die) and only my giant 4″x2″ oval, SAE-approved, industrial trailer rear marker reflector remains (along with the reflective patches on my pannier bags and reflective stripes on my helmet, and my reflective vest), and—God forbid—I get hit, maybe from the rear, more likely from the side, while following all other rules of the road to a tee, should I then be assigned some degree of legal fault for the collision because I didn’t have a working tail light? Depending on how much fault I am assigned, my potential to collect insurance damages will be reduced or eliminated—and it will be based on a technicality designed to reduce the amount of responsibility drivers have to maintain a safe speed and a proper lookout, and exercise due care.
How about in the future, if you think someone’s words are lacking substance, you provide some of your own? You love to poke holes and point out how nobody has anything to contribute, and make demands for “suggestions” that will be constructive, but when asked yourself, you like to deflect, rather than support your position with well-reasoned rationale.
You and I have entirely different reads on the situation. It’s patently obvious that the motivation behind this bill is to express frustration with “those weirdo bikers”. What makes me have zero tolerance for politicians like Davis, is not the text of the bill, but the subtext: “If one of (us normal folks) kills / maims / threatens (one of those weirdos), we won’t blame you. They were asking for it (no matter how visible they were.)”
This tone has NO place in civilized conversation. It’s closer to yelling “fire” in a crowded theater than intelligent conversation. Rep. Davis should be ashamed of himself.
I’ve got a fat check waiting for whoever runs against him.
IMHO the average person who might hear a 5 second snip about Davis’s “proposal” on OPB will be more likely to endanger me and my family because of it. There’s a saying on the internet, don’t engage the t.r.o.l.l.s.
I’ll save my stronger comments for private conversation.
I still haven’t seen anything about doing something that would make all this folderol redundant: raising the fine for violations of and strictly enforcing the basic speed law. You remember that one, it requires drivers only drive as fast as they can stop in the distance they can see clearly, day or night. If drivers would just do that then there would be no need to dress up in clown costumes or bedeck our bike like Christmas trees.
“I still haven’t seen anything about doing something that would make all this folderol redundant: raising the fine for violations of and strictly enforcing the basic speed law. …” opus
Opus…what do you imagine it could take to accomplish what you suggest, in terms of support from the public to implement the idea? First, people have to be willing to subject themselves to the possibility of higher fines. More police resources and court time would likely be required to enforce and process the citations. How much money and time do you think it would take to do that?
Compare that burden to having people riding bikes, throw on their person, something with reflective material on it, or spending maybe up to thirty bucks for a decent tail light. Which do you think the public is more likely to go for? I’d say reflective material and tail lights, but maybe you wouldn’t.
With regard to m.v. operator (‘driver’) licensing, training and responsibility, it cost me $40.00 to renew my license for eight years! Total testing requirement: a distance vision check. I’m sure that won’t change in eight years!
My share of operating the DMV office is paid I guess. And no doubt my driver training from 1976 is still pretty current so that’s all good. Certainly the contents of the manual looked pretty familiar. Physics? Bosh!
Eight years? A drop in the bucket! 😉
Plus, “vision screening,” as the DMV site calls it, is only done for those over 50. Myopic drivers under 50 can renew no holds barred. I’m sure everyone under 50 has vision insurance and goes to the eye doctor regularly…
In reply to http://bikeportland.org/2015/03/26/oregon-house-rep-gives-mandatory-reflective-clothing-bill-136181#comment-6321853:
We could dig deeper, sure, but I think the point’s been made plenty well. That point being that HB3255 far too poorly defined–no, it ignored–the problem as many people who ride a bicycle or walk see it. For one graphic illustration, just watch this a few times more: http://www.kptv.com/story/28718982/driver-who-hit-pedestrian-in-salem-crosswalk-phones-are-such-a-distraction-when-driving
P.S. Anyone else have that little Schoolhouse Rock ditty from 1975 stuck in their head? “I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill…”
It’s not necessary to dig deep at all to see the objective that HB3255 seeks to accomplish, which is to enable people riding bikes to consistently be more readily visible to other road users, particularly those road users driving motor vehicles.
I don’t believe Davis ever claimed that the bill he presented its original form, seeking use of reflective material by people biking, or its reworked form requiring the use of a tail light in addition to or instead of a reflector, was intended to be a ‘cure all’, for collisions in which some people driving fail to see people biking, or other vulnerable road users, regardless of how visible or equipped to be seen a given person biking is to a responsible person driving.
The bill Davis presented, is a positive effort to increase the safety of people biking. It may not go on to become law, but it is worthy of serious consideration and efforts to see if it can be written with specs that would make it a viable law.
The outright rejection some people commenting to bikeportland stories take, of any legislative effort to introduce measures obliging people that bike to shoulder their fair share of their of their own safety in use of the road, is not a positive effort. In fact, I think such efforts go counter to the possibility of generating broad support from the general public for improvements to bike infrastructure.
Bob, you still haven’t refuted the basic physics employed upthread to define what really is a “fair share” based on the destruction inflicted by — and capacity for destruction inherent in — the transportation modes that people *choose*.
Come on, now! We’ve waited long enough. Further delay can most readily be construed as cowardice or contempt. It’s time for you to either refute or concede.
Walters, that’s a tangent you’re welcome to go off on.
Got nothin’, eh Bob? Very well: Let this latest deflection serve as your concession. Whenever you resume beating your discredited “fair share” horse (and lord knows you will), you should expect a link to this thread to quickly follow.
“It’s not necessary to dig deep at all to see the objective that HB3255 seeks to accomplish, which is to enable people riding bikes to consistently be more readily visible to other road users, particularly those road users driving motor vehicles.”
Except that the problem we have, by and large, isn’t the visibility of people biking, but the looking by people driving.
You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.
wsbob, show me a statistic that distinguishes these two phenomena*, and then we can revisit this hunch of yours.
*crashes where the circumstances caused the person on a bike to be ‘inadequately visible’, and the person driving was actively looking vs.
crashes where the person on the bike was well visible but the person in the car wasn’t paying attention.
I know, just from paying attention, that the latter category is quite common. I can’t say and am not holding my breath that we’ll find much to put into the first category, mostly because we have no reliable way of determining after the fact that the person piloting the motor vehicle was actually paying attention, looking for objects other than other motor vehicles.
“…Except that the problem we have, by and large, isn’t the visibility of people biking, …” watts
When good drivers, paying attention to the road when they drive, observe and remark that many people biking are not readily visible, that’s indication of a serious problem. It sounds to me as though Davis, frequently hearing this kind of thing from people, decided to try do something about it. He wrote up a bill addressing the problem, and presented it to the legislature.
I’ve already said to some of you here, that if you believe you have a better idea for a bill, by all means, put the idea in bill form and shop it around.
The bill Davis put together, now advising that people riding bikes display a tail light on the back of their bikes rather than just a reflector, may have at least a ghost of a chance of being made law. Put your idea for stepped up enforcement of the basic rule, increased fines, etc into bill form. Ask yourself what chance it will have of being supported by the public to the point of eventually becoming law.
“When good drivers, paying attention to the road when they drive, observe and remark that many people biking are not readily visible, that’s indication of a serious problem.”
You realize perhaps that this is funny.
All those good drivers, how do they now that all those many people biking re not readily visible? Did they see them?
I don’t think that was actually a serious problem at all.
I think we can move on.
“I’ve already said to some of you here, that if you believe you have a better idea for a bill, by all means, put the idea in bill form and shop it around.’
Yes, you did. And we, some of us, responded that we don’t see a problem here that needs a bill to fix it.* So there’s not much point in repeating that we should draft our own bill.
*except perhaps the distracted driving bill Davis apparently voted against.
“…Yes, you did. And we, some of us, responded that we don’t see a problem here that needs a bill to fix it.* So there’s not much point in repeating that we should draft our own bill. …” watts
Hasn’t somebody commenting to this thread advised that the way to make roads safer for people biking, is to raise fines for distracted driving? To introduce regular retesting for driver’s license renewal? To have stepped up enforcement of existing road use laws directed upon people that drive? And so on. If you actually want to do something to improve safety of the road for people biking, giving some thought to ideas for a bill for a law to accomplish that, could be something to think about.
Davis actually has done something. He’s at least made an effort.
“The bill Davis presented, is a positive effort to increase the safety of people biking.”
I don’t reach that conclusion. It still bothers me too much that Davis did not vote “Yes” to raise fines for distracted driving.
Driving a car in public = being in public. People standing at crosswalks are watching inside people’s cars as they drive by. As people become aware roads are shared in that way, maybe some are becoming scared to drive, scared they’ll hit someone. Grasping at bills like HB3255 is a last ditch effort to deny that, for example, our speed limits are set too high. 45mph is much too fast to drive, watch for other road users, and be able to stop in time (especially if using one’s phone). Denial may be the first stage of mourning, but it’s not a good foundation upon which to base legislation.
~n…and another point: people walking and biking, believing for example that higher citation amounts, enforcement, etc, hold a superior, more effective potential for increasing the safety of vulnerable road users than does requiring by law, the use by vulnerable road users, of reflective material, tail lights, etc….should explore the viability of their ideas to accomplish that, and maybe put their thoughts together in a reasonable facsimile of a bill for a law, as Davis did.
They then should consider shopping their idea around to see what other people think its chances of success as a law may be.
I bike, in traffic, have for many years. I’ve thought plenty about the the idea of increased fines, enforcement, etc, but don’t expect it will make it to being a new law anytime soon, because when I look at what it would take to get it done, the obstacles are huge. Insurmountable for the foreseeable future.
Little advances such as efforts to have vulnerable road users personally make themselves more readily visible, are far more obtainable. The broader public will support those advances, possibly enough for an idea based on them, to become law. It’s going to be a very tough go to get higher fines, re-testing, stepped up enforcement, supported by the public. If you think the bill Davis presented was hit with rejection, just wait until a group of people that bike, go to legislators with their proposal for a bill to impose fines, retesting, increased enforcement, etc, onto people that drive. Watch what happens.
“It’s going to be a very tough go to get higher fines, re-testing, stepped up enforcement, supported by the public.”
“Compare that burden to having people riding bikes, throw on their person, something with reflective material on it, or spending maybe up to thirty bucks for a decent tail light.”
I get that you take what you see as the pragmatic view, believe the alternative-as-you-see-it as just so much easier to both imagine and pass as law. But this seems like an unwarranted simplification. If people walking just stayed home, that would also really cut down on the probability of being run over as a pedestrian. But this is not a reasonable tactic, since people walking like people biking-without-reflective-garb, have nothing to answer for; they have every right to be on the sidewalk or in the street at any time of day or night, with or without special clothing.
Just because it is easier to imagine someone on the receiving end of the poorly-piloted-automobile doing something to, as it were, get out of the way doesn’t obscure the fact that the problem emanates from the person behind the wheel. No amount of words from you suggesting otherwise will persuade me that we need to look any further than what Opus suggested: enforce the basic speed/attention rule.
I’m with 9watts, the Poet, and others here. I will never underestimate cyclists, or anyone else, for that matter, to accomplish the right thing when it comes to road safety. I believe car drivers out there will support higher fines against distracted driving because if they’ve thought about it, they too don’t want a distracted person running into them with their car.
In fact, the only group I can think of that’d try to pose real obstacles to higher fines on poor driving might be car dealerships or non-reputable auto repair shops… Just guessing though; hard to imagine anyone not being in support of ending driving distraction. Car insurance providers would certainly be in favor of bettering the driving out there… Maybe, just maybe, the right thing can and will happen despite any obstacles.
“…I believe car drivers out there will support higher fines against distracted driving because if they’ve thought about it, they too don’t want a distracted person running into them with their car. …” ~n
Is ‘higher fines against distracted driving’, going to be the title of the bill you’re going to work on putting together? What are the specs, or elements of the bill going to be? How do you expect that the bill you’re going to put together, will help, at the least, good drivers concentrating on the road, readily see people riding bikes that often may not be readily visible in varying conditions characterizing many streets and roads?
I’ve driven a car… maybe that’s why I have a hard time believing the good car drivers out there are unable to see bicyclists and pedestrians (unless they have vision problems they’re unaware of).
However: they may be finding it truly challenging to both see other road users and stop in time for them to cross the street, etc, because speed limits are set too high to do so.
Car drivers are not helpless: They should demand speed limits be slowed so they can do their job as drivers. Many roads need the speed limit lowered from 45 to 35 so people in cars can watch better for other road users & have enough time to stop for them. I wonder how many good, watchful drivers out there find 45mph too fast for safety?
Also, “good” drivers would not check phones at intersections, because a pedestrian could show up and be crossing in a place the driver intends to turn. I think drivers have this idea it’s “okay” to not pay attention to the events of the intersection when stopped. But a lot is happening that needs to be noticed. Any cell phone use should be completely disallowed while driving, if we want people in cars to see the other people out and about.
Not sure what I’ll title my bill yet, ws, but I’ll dedicate it to you, okay? 😉
People riding, that are not readily visible, is an issue that can be ralatively easily corrected somewhat with the help of the bill Davis is working on.
“…Not sure what I’ll title my bill yet, ws, but I’ll dedicate it to you, okay? ;)” ~n
~n…I’d have to see the what you come up with in the way of a bill before I’d want you honor me with a dedication ;)!
I was writing on the phone earlier. You wrote:
“I’ve driven a car… maybe that’s why I have a hard time believing the good car drivers out there are unable to see bicyclists and pedestrians …” ~n
There’s an important difference between people driving being able to see vulnerable road users, and being able to see them ‘readily’. That’s what the upgrade in visibility from a reflector to a tail light, could help accomplish. Because of its additional cost and responsibility for maintaining a charge for the tail light to operate, it can be fairly said that such a requirement would represent an additional burden from what exists now, upon people that bike.
It’s possible that people could be more likely to get a citation for not having a tail light in operating condition than they would for not having a reflector. Reflectors are a no maintenance kind of equipment, as long as people do have them on their bikes. Current bike equipment requirements already include the responsibility of maintaing a headlight. A tail light represents a modest expansion of the equipment requirement.
“Little advances such as efforts to have vulnerable road users personally make themselves more readily visible, are far more obtainable.”
Well the question is whether or not putting additional legal obligations on a segment of the population that can do very little harm except to themselves is really an “advance”.
I could see this as an “advance” for those that want to drive fast without looking (which is nearly everyone who exclusively drives, whether they admit it or not); now they can finally say, “See? I told you—those darn bikers are invisible with their measly little front lights and reflectors. Now they’ll have to catch my eye, instead of me having to cast a glance anywhere other than my phone and the car in front of me.”
I could see it as an advance for insurance companies who don’t want to pay claims, since now anyone run over at night will have to prove the rear light that was destroyed in the collision was actually working at the time they got hit.
I could see it as an “advance” for police looking to harass anyone on a bike at night without a working tail light.
And yes, it’s always more likely that the majority will be in favor of laws that don’t affect them—or put more of a burden on someone else to make life easier for themselves—rather than pass a law that will make life harder for themselves to better protect a minority of “weirdos”.
Anyone concerned for their own safety, and with the means to afford it, can pile on the lights and reflectors to their heart’s content already; I don’t think the government’s concern here is for cyclists that might get run over (I’d still like to see the number of collisions that have happened due to ostensible insufficient visibility at night), but rather for the hassles the poor driver will have if they can be blamed for running someone over.
“…Well the question is whether or not putting additional legal obligations on a segment of the population that can do very little harm except to themselves is really an “advance”. …” bic
People using the road as vulnerable road users and getting injured or killed, due in part or entirely to their not being readily visible, is something most people would consider to be ‘a big deal’. Very traumatic with often catastrophic consequences.
If something so minor as requiring people that bike have reflective material on their clothes of person, or a tail light instead of or in addition to a reflector on their bike, that’s definitely an advance in the safety of their use of the road, for everyone.
I guess you’re right. Ticketing cyclists without a tail light, regardless of other visibility measures they may have taken, ranks right up there with the many other “advances” in safety history. Thank goodness we’ve finally allowed common sense to prevail and can accept the world as it is. How foolish we’ve been all this time! We now know that safety demands: keeping kids indoors because playing outside is too dangerous. It requires us to fine walkers $96 for crossing the street if they are so daft as to do it other than at a prescribed location and time. Safety tells us we must find any technicality we can to blame pedestrians and cyclists for getting themselves run over, whether it is proximity to a stripe on the road, or a technical classification of “walking pace”. Why, anyone who knows anything about safety knows that the only truly safe way to travel is in the largest vehicle the bank is willing to loan you money for, surrounded by air bags and two tons of steel—anything else is plain irresponsible! Other advances we’ve managed to make, thanks to the enlightenment mankind has enjoyed throughout the industrial age: We’ve finally learned to accept an annual roadway death toll in the tens of thousands; if people aren’t going to stay out of the way or have enough air bags, well, they should know what can happen. We’ve seen the wisdom in giving over massive amounts of public space to store giant vehicles—or at least come to realize the vast benefit of legally prescribing the allocation of a large amount of private space for car parking. We now realize that neighborhood integrity is far less important than urban freeways—the wider the better, since we now understand that more lanes will reduce congestion. Whatever did we do before the invention of “infotainment” systems to help drivers better navigate the wide-open streets?
[50s Educational Film Narrator Voice]
Yes, all these advances in safety and modern infrastructure have finally begun to help the non-motorized realize that safety is up to them. At the same time, the modern-day motorist has been given the confidence he needs to get where he’s going as fast as his technological marvel of a car can get him there—all without having to worry about those poor folks who [chuckles] just can’t seem to get around by any other means than human power—oops! Watch out, Mr. Bicyclist!
…He should be wearing his helmet and reflective vest!
[/50s Educational Film Narrator Voice]
What evidence is there that limited enforcement resources would be used for such harassment, especially since they can’t seem to do much bigger stuff?
None of my bikes have CPSC mandated reflectors — in fact, none of my bikes have anything reflective on them and I ride as much at night as anyone as well as in storms, fog, and other low visibility conditions.
No one has ever suggested something I was riding wasn’t legally compliant — the only conversations I’ve had with cops about my setup were outright compliments about my visibility.
Being visible is super important, and the real function of these laws is to get people who would not otherwise think about this stuff to be safer.
These are the sensational cases that I can find at the moment. Personnel have turned over at PPB since these cases were tried, but if police were willing to go to this much trouble for these cases, then I’m sure there are others that are similar, just less dramatic. There is also a comment from PPB’s Mark Kruger in this article to the effect that “many” of the bicycle citations given out in early 2006 were for light violations. Since then, I think various “light programs” have been used to give out free lights in lieu of citations. But then there’s this warning from the former BTA in 2008 that police will start issuing bike light citations when they run out of free lights.
But more than enforcement “abuse”, I would be concerned about what might happen in the aftermath of a crash, where it might need to be proved that a rear light was a) present, b) turned on, and c) bright enough to meet legal requirements. Some of these things would be difficult to prove after the fact. Light missing? Did it get knocked into the bushes, or was it not there to begin with? Light not lit? Did the batteries get knocked out or switch get bonked during a collision, or was it not on to begin with? Light present and lit after a crash? Well, was it turned on before the crash, or did the impact bonk the switch and turn it on? There is no argument other than witness testimony or video evidence that can prove a light was visible prior to an impact. The same thing could happen with a front light, but adding a rear light requirement just ups the level of perfection a bicyclist must meet to avoid being blamed—at least partly—for a crash.
And another point: any additional requirements that might be included in future versions of equipment laws for bikes will become the new “bare minimum”. What will we do when cyclists who only have a front light and a rear light are “doing the bare minimum” required for night time safety? Because obviously, the “bare minimum” isn’t enough.