Splendid Cycles Big Sale

Oregon House Rep gives up on mandatory reflective clothing bill

Posted by on March 26th, 2015 at 12:16 pm

davis2

Rep. John Davis.

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.

Advertisement

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.

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

173
Leave a Reply

avatar
25 Comment threads
148 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
46 Comment authors
El BicicleroKyle Banerjeewsbob9watts~n Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
invisiblebikes
Guest
invisiblebikes

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!

A.H.
Guest
A.H.

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).

invisiblebikes
Guest
invisiblebikes

front and rear lights are already required by law in Oregon, its the fine that is punitive and excessive.

Beth
Guest
Beth

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.

TonyT
Guest
Tony T

You’re both wrong. A front light and rear reflector are required.

John Lascurettes
Guest

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.

TonyT
Guest
Tony T

Sorry, Beth, misread your post. A rear light does negate the need for a reflector.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

cars are required to have a rear reflector… it’s not that you won’t see it, it just won’t be self-illuminated…

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

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).

Editz
Guest
Editz

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.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

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.

Andy
Guest
Andy

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.

Gerald Fittipaldi
Guest
Gerald Fittipaldi

And don’t forget the pedal reflectors. I believe new bikes are required to come with them.

John Lascurettes
Guest

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.

Andy
Guest
Andy

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.

Toby
Guest
Toby

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.

Andy
Guest
Andy

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.

a*
Guest
a*

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.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

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?

invisiblebikes
Guest
invisiblebikes

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.

A.H.
Guest
A.H.

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.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“…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.

A.H.
Guest
A.H.

Why not both? Especially since the reflector is already required…

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

BS….see my post above.

600 feet is roughly 2 blocks.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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.

caesar
Guest
caesar

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!!

Dan
Guest
Dan

Agree, $250 is more than the value of probably 50% of the bikes out there. What’s a comparable fine for a car? $3000?

Dan
Guest
Dan

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.

BIKELEPTIC
Guest

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!)

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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.

Tait
Guest
Tait

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.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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.

naess
Guest
naess

unless it’s the lack of a light on the back of your bike that causes you to get run over…

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

…Or walking in dark clothing. What should the fine for that be?

invisiblebikes
Guest
invisiblebikes

front and rear head lights are already required by law in Oregon!

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“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.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

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.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

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.

Damon
Guest
Damon

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.

~n
Guest
~n

Damon makes an excellent point–the fine for driving while texting should be made much, much higher.

A.H.
Guest
A.H.

Suspended license and community service, IMO. And irrevocable cancellation of driving privileges for first-time DUI offenses — no sarcasm.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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…

Randall S.
Guest
Randall S.

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?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I
invisiblebikes
Guest
invisiblebikes

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.

Eric
Guest
Eric

You forgot stolen for meth

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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.

hat
Guest
hat

Aren’t front/back lights already mandated by law?

Mindful Cyclist
Guest
Mindful Cyclist

No, only a rear reflector is now. The front light is required, but nothing requiring illumination from the back.

hat
Guest
hat

Ah! Doubleplusgood.

Mindful Cyclist
Guest
Mindful Cyclist

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.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

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?

Andy
Guest
Andy

Well wasn’t that a great way to start a conversation. /sarcasm

Jeff TB
Guest
Jeff TB

Ha!

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

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 ).

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

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:

http://bikeportland.org/2015/03/25/big-day-bike-bills-salem-day-bikewalk-conference-portland-136090#comment-6304771

Andy
Guest
Andy

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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Correction: “…but I think it’s a mistake to sum up his efforts as you have. …”

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…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.

~n
Guest
~n

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

A.H.
Guest
A.H.

“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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…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.

~n
Guest
~n

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?

~n
Guest
~n

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.

Tait
Guest
Tait

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?

~n
Guest
~n

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…

Tait
Guest
Tait

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.]

~n
Guest
~n

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?

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

1) no

2) not sure, but should

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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.

ethan
Guest
ethan

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.

A.H.
Guest
A.H.

#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!

ethan
Guest
ethan

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.

Steve B
Guest
Steve B

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.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Germany has the same law, and all bikes must be sold with lights.

Andy
Guest
Andy

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.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

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.

Andy
Guest
Andy

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.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Or to be hit by a texting police officer.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

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.

eli bishop
Guest
eli bishop

excellent. now focus your attention on contacting your senators to maintain Amtrak service to Eugene: http://www.aortarail.org/index.php/action_alerts/

JNE
Guest
JNE

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.)

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

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…

Opus the Poet
Guest

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?

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

$1000….phffttt make it 100 and I’ll back ya.

ed
Guest
ed

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

ed
Guest
ed

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.

SD
Guest
SD

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.

lyle w.
Guest
lyle w.

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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

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.

Chris Anderson
Guest

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.

invisiblebikes
Guest
invisiblebikes

“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.

Pete
Guest
Pete

“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…

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Knock off the name calling and get serious. Responsibility for safe use of the road is already disproportionately placed on people that drive.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Responsibility for safe use of the road is already disproportionately placed on people that drive.”

Can you elaborate? Give examples?

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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.

9watts
Guest
9watts

my nomination for comment of the week!

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

Incredible. Absolutely priceless. And he’s not even being paid for it.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Wow, really?! Even from you I’m surprised.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

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.

~n
Guest
~n

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/

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…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.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“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.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“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…”

Check.

“…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
Guest
wsbob

“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.

By

Chris Anderson
Guest

Davis should take responsibility for endangering families by being voted out of office.

~n
Guest
~n

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.”

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

~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.

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

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.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Don’t you agree that responsibility for safe use of the road is already disproportionately placed on people that drive? If not, explain why. ”

wsbob,
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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…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.

9watts
Guest
9watts

El Biciclero:
“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.”

wsbob:
“…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*.

*http://bikeportland.org/2014/09/26/driver-hit-kerry-kunsman-issued-citation-careless-driving-111488#comment-5550895

~n
Guest
~n

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.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“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?
SPEED
35 (DAY)
25 (NIGHT)

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.

Chris Anderson
Guest

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.

Chris Anderson
Guest

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.

Opus the Poet
Guest

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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“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.

Robert Burchett
Guest
Robert Burchett

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!

~n
Guest
~n

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…

~n
Guest
~n

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…”

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

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.

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Walters, that’s a tangent you’re welcome to go off on.

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

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.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…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.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“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?
Good.
I don’t think that was actually a serious problem at all.
I think we can move on.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…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.

~n
Guest
~n

“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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

~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.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“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.
Done.

~n
Guest
~n

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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…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?

~n
Guest
~n

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? 😉

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…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.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…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.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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]

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

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.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

https://bikeportland.org/2006/07/28/judge-finds-fault-with-fixies-1727
https://bikeportland.org/2008/06/11/man-on-a-bike-is-tackled-then-tasered-by-portland-police-7846

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.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

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.