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Legislative update: Dead red passes, rear light bill might not, and more

Posted by on May 14th, 2015 at 3:38 pm

New safety signal at Couch and Grand-8-11

You can roll through, but only if it’s
safe and it doesn’t detect you.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

As we get into the home stretch of the 2015 Oregon legislative session, I figured it’d be a good time to roundup all the action on the bills we’ve been tracking. This session wasn’t too groundbreaking when it comes to bicycle-specific bills; but there have been some interesting ideas and at least one bike bill of consequence is already headed to the Governor’s desk.

Here we go…

Passed

Senate Bill 533 – Allows bike and motorcycle riders to proceed through red signal under certain conditions
Ever come up to the red light that never changes? Now you will have the legal right to roll through it thanks to SB 533, which passed a vote in the House yesterday. This bill (here’s our post on it) was proposed by motorcycle advocates and initially did not apply to bicycle riders. It was only after some lobbying action by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance that “bicyclist” was added.

Here’s the salient text:

reddeadtext

The BTA says passage of this law is “great news for bikes” that will make riding more convenient and efficient.

Interestingly, the Oregon Department of Transportation opposed the bill, as did the Governor’s Transportation Safety Advisory Committee. They fear the law will lead to deadly consequences for inexperienced riders who may not make good judgments on when it’s safe to proceed. Instead of a law, they would like to see a complaint-driven where people could call ODOT and have signals fixed.

At a hearing for the bill, Amy Joyce from ODOT’s Transportation Safety Division testified against the bill, saying, “Allowing this sort of behavior takes away from some of the predictability for motorcyclists and bicyclists.” Joyce said not all signals are the same and some people might not know what a “full cycle” of the signal is. To the predictability point, a House committee member asked, “What would be less predictable of this law versus what people do now – which is to break the law and do it anyways?”

Alive and kicking

House Bill 2564 – Inclusionary zoning
This bill is being hailed as a game-changer by affordable housing advocate. We covered it last month because of its potential impact on preserving income diverse neighborhoods in Portland. The bill passed the House last month by a vote of 34-25 and it has a Senate committee work session scheduled for May 19th.

Senate Bill 463 — Would allow drivers to have darker tinted windows with a note from their doctor
This is a bill I just heard about. It would allow people with certain medical conditions (that require “lower light trasmittance”) to have darker tint on their car windows than is currently allowed by law. This raises a big red flag for me because I rely heavily on being able to see drivers in order to make safe decisions on the road. Dark windows are very dangerous to everyone outside the car. This bill easily passed the Senate and has a public hearing scheduled for May 18th.

House Bill 2621 – Would allow City of Portland to use unmanned photo radar on high crash corridors
This bill is a top priority for Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and the Portland Bureau of Transportation because it would give them a major new tool to fight speeding on our most dangerous streets. Much of what activists are lying in the street for right now has to do with people driving way too fast. Photo radar is proven to result in lower speeds, but PBOT currently lacks the legal authority to roll out a comprehensive photo radar program.

We reported this week that despite being stuck in committee, PBOT is optimistic they can get this bill onto the floors of both chambers for votes before it’s too late.

On life support

House Bill 3255 – Mandatory red rear lights for bicycles
The long, strange trip of HB 3255 might finally be over. This is the bill that started out as a mandate for all bicycle riders to wear reflective clothing. Its chief sponsor, House Rep. John Davis, thankfully pulled back that proposal and instead tried to mandate a red rear light (only a reflector is necessary now) for all bicycles ridden on Oregon “highways” (which in statute includes all public roads). Davis’ bill passed the House but it doesn’t look like it will get to the Senate floor.

The bill had a public hearing in a Senate committee yesterday. Rep Davis testified on its behalf; but veteran bike lawyer Ray Thomas was also there. As we reported last week, Thomas is adamantly opposed to the bill and his testimony (PDF) listed several reasons why lawmakers should give it pause.

In the end, using a rear light while riding is definitely the best, safest practice; but it seems there are too many devils in the details for it to be required by law. Time to pull the plug on this ill-fated “conversation” starter.

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Senate Bill 117 – Task Force on jurisdicational transfers
This bill is very relevant to the protests we’re seeing Portland right now. If passed, it would create a special legislative task force to grapple with the issues around transferring roads and highways from state to local control. It passed a Senate committee last month but its currently still stuck in the Senate Ways and Means committee – which is a place many bills go to die. (Note: The failure of this bill doesn’t mean Portland leaders still can’t broker a deal with ODOT to take over control of our local highways like Powell, Barbur, and so on.)

No chance

Senate Bill 861 – Allow courts to use location data (like GPS) as probable cause to search for stolen bicycles
This was a neat idea, but it either failed to grab lawmakers’ attention, or its sponsor, Senator Chris Edwards, just didn’t push hard enough on it.

House Bill 3094 – Increase highway speed limit to 75 mph
Try as they might, Oregon lawmakers just cannot make this happen. With its first work session not even scheduled yet, this bill is dead. I sort of love that Oregon is bucking the national trend on this one and holding the line at 65 mph.

House Bill 3233 – Would shorten amount of time a driver’s license would be revoked following three or more DUI convinctions.
I didn’t follow this one closely, but I can’t fathom the rationale for going easier on such dangerous drivers who clearly don’t learn their lesson. I also know that dedicated activist Kristi Finney — a mom who lost her son to a drunk driver — testified against it. With no work session scheduled in its originating committee, this bill is thankfully going nowhere.

House Bill 2522 and 3102 – Requiring a permit or an outright ban on studded tires
Both of these bills looked to crack down on the scourge of studded tires, which cause millions of dollars of damage to Oregon roads each year. The permit bill sought $70 to use the tires and the other bill wanted to prohibit them entirely. Unfortunately neither bill got much traction.

Senate Bill 177 – Mandatory bicycle licensing and registration
Remember this one? Just the latest attempt at this seemingly sensible yet utterly flawed idea. It didn’t go anywhere. And hopefully, this is the last time it comes up (at least in this form).

Those are all the bills we’ve been following this session. I’m not a Salem insider by any stretch, so please share your insights if you’ve got them. Two important dates to keep in mind: If a bill doesn’t get a work session by next Friday (5/22), it cannot move forward (under most circumstances); and if a bill doesn’t pass both chambers by June 5th, it is officially dead.

Read more of our 2015 legislative session coverage.

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

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Patrick Barber
Guest

the studded tire bills didn’t get much traction! you’re killin me over here!

John Lascurettes
Guest

I thought the same thing. Still, it’s a bummer neither bill made it any further. Les Schwab has deep lobbying pockets in Salem.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Which I still don’t get, they would make as much (or even more) from people converting to studless snow tires!?!!!?!?

John Lascurettes
Guest

Except people could legally leave the studless snow tires on all year. People are lazy and probably would just leave them on after winter was over. Les Schwab wants to see those people coming back twice a year to rotate between their warm-weather tires and their studded tires. They make money off the mounting and balancing service too.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Yeah, but studless tires wear like butter in warm conditions (and even in cold conditions, wear out far faster than all-seasons). Those foolish enough to leave them on all year will be giving Les Schwab more money than if they swap the tires twice a year.

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

Unfortunately preventative street maintenance is treated much like preventative health care, and not particularly encouraged in this country. After all, why should we take away people’s freedoms when it comes to anything that resembles a lifestyle choice.

I say, let them have the choice, and let them pay dearly for those that cost the rest of society a lot of money. There is really no reason we should be picking up the tab for what tires people want to roll down the street with, nor should our health insurance premiums reflect what they put in their mouths.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Studded tires are already illegal in Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin. Some of those states have considerably worse road conditions than we do.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Interestingly a bunch of states allow rubber studs. This one was interesting I thought:
“Texas
Studded tires are permitted, as long as the studs do not damage highway and are rubber.”

http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/laws/studded-tires/

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Having grown up (and now once again living in) MInnesota, I can assure you that Oregon was worse winter road conditions. Minnesota gets a lot of snowstorms, but the average total is only about 60″ a year (Oregon mountain passes get about 400″), temperatures are lower (yielding much stickier snow and ice), winter plowing is done with German-like precision and thoroughness, salt is heavily used, there are no extended 6% highway grades, and except for Duluth and a few river towns there are not many steep hills in urban areas.

For most people (including myself as a weekend skier in Portland) studless tires do the job just fine. But studded tires are definitely superior on bare ice, and eastern Oregon has a lot of that. I still say a stiff tax on studded tires (or maybe a permit requiring some paperwork) makes more sense than an outright ban, and would do far less to fuel the urban-rural political divide in Oregon.

davemess
Guest
davemess

“winter plowing is done with German-like precision and thoroughness, salt is heavily used”

This is the key.
We do not see anything like this in Oregon.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Stay home from work for a day or two. No need to mount studded tires for 3 months.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

“Stay home from work for a day or two. No need to mount studded tires for 3 months.”

Studless tires are a lot more common than studded at this point in places like Portland. In my observation the people still buying studs mostly fall into 3 categories, none of whom would find your stay-home advice applicable.
1. People who go to the mountains to play in the snow on weekends.
2. People who live east of the mountains.
3. People who live up in the West Hills, have steep driveways or neighborhood streets, and deal with ice a lot more than 2-3 days a year.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Metal studs may give you better grip from a standstill on bare ice, but they’re still only marginally effective and at very low speeds. (The reality is that when you get these conditions – common on gorge winter mornings – you should avoid driving on un-cindered roads, as traction from a standstill will be the least of your concerns, and you’re also best off in a modern car equipped with ESP and an even weight distribution, low COG, and AWD).

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

complaint-driven where people could call ODOT and have signals fixed

Yeah right. Ask Will Vanlue how that “complaint-driven” model is going…

kittens
Guest
kittens

Maybe they should set up a P.O. Box

Pete
Guest
Pete

They seem to assume that all bicycles can be detected with these sensors and it’s just a question of sending crew to adjust their sensitivity. (In other words, that all bikes are metal or have enough metal content to be detected). This depends on several factors, and particularly the older sensors would either need to be replaced with newer wiring or updated cameras. (Our city engineer tells me newer sensors/computers can be adjusted to pick up the metal in a bike cleat, but not older loops).

Duncan
Guest
Duncan

Where I live we have plenty of lights that don’t read my motorcycle… Much less a cleat!

Indy
Guest
Indy

“Instead of a law, they would like to see a complaint-driven where people could call ODOT and have signals fixed.”

This would be great. The Northbound left turn light on Barbur@Bertha intersection has been broken for only about a decade now. It almost always assumes that there’s a car there, so Southbound traffic sits there and waits, needlessly. Over ten years… I wonder how many people have just sat at that light heading Southbound needlessly.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

For real traction calculate total fuel burned from idling vehicles to show how much pollution was generated and wasted money of the important people (automobile drivers).

9watts
Guest
9watts

Great stuff. Thanks for summarizing it all.

“Allowing this sort of behavior takes away from some of the predictability for motorcyclists and bicyclists.” Predictability? Of what?

My favorite: go easier on repeat DUI offenders. Who are these clowns?!

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Probably the same clowns who call people who ride bikes “scofflaws”.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I assume predictability that cyclists and motorcycles will stay stopped at a red light, and not be crossing the street when someone with a green light comes through the intersection.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Sure, but, again, this completely misses the possibility that people on fewer than four wheels have sense, and will not act in that (dangerous, unpredictable) fashion.
Assuming you are correct, why does ODOT here assume that people on two wheels would behave in that fashion, and then, consequently, object to changes that would be undertaken without a second thought if the party in question were waiting pointlessly on four wheels?

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

“Senate Bill 463 — Would allow drivers to have darker tinted windows with a note from their doctor”

I would be more in favor of this if they took off the requirement of getting a look at a driver’s face to file a Citizen Initiated Complaint and instead held people accountable for their vehicles…

don’t want the ticket? then you better get your friend (that you loaned your car to) to fess up to what they did or you’re getting the ticket…

instead, why not buy sunglasses? you can’t remove dark tint in order to see better in low-light conditions (at night, in the rain, etc)…

the only reason I see for this law is to allow people to be less detectable and therefore less responsible…

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

and what business do you have driving if your eyes are sensitive to light??

Some of these bills are insane. Even if they never make it off the ground. Someone took the time to formally draft a law that would make it easier for repeat drunk drivers to drive drunk sooner? Bill Kennemer should be sent adrift for that one.

John Lascurettes
Guest

My gosh. And what of sunglasses? Ever heard of those? Tinting is already too dark on most SUVs (which are allowed darker tinting than “passenger vehicles”) because of their quasi work-vehicle grandfathering.

Eavan
Guest
Eavan

Maybe they were thinking of people with lupus. (Not a joke; my next-door neighbor has it and she hides from the sun most of the time. Sometimes it really is lupus.)

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

HB 3414 may also be of interest… it’s another bill designed to more easily allow speeding on freeways…

officially titled “Requires certain persons to not drive in far left lane unless passing.” I’d call it “Allows speeders more room to continue illegally dangerous behavior.” but I don’t get to write the titles…

why do we continue to enable illegal behavior on our roads?

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

No, that just catches us up with the rest of the sane world. Drive right, pass left is also safer by reducing passing on the right and other unpredictability.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

it’s not called “passing on the right” when you’re “driving in your lane”…

how often have you been stuck behind somebody in the fast lane going under the speed limit? I think it’s maybe happened to me a couple times in my life… it’s never happened to me since I started driving under the speed limit all the time…

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Often enough. If I drive anywhere, its on highways. Its really an update to what we already have. I think this is a better law because its simpler. If you’re not passing, or moving in gridlock, move right. The existing law requires someone to decide what the normal speed of traffic is.

“811.315¹
Failure of slow driver to drive on right
• exceptions
• penalty
(1) A person commits the offense of failure of a slow driver to drive on the right if the person is operating a vehicle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing and the person fails to drive:
(a) In the right-hand lane available for traffic; or
(b) As close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.”

Though, I think the worst offenders are the ones who merge on, move left and just drive in the left lane to be as far away from merging traffic as possible. We’re not good at merging in this state.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Beats me–am in shock over the notion that anyone would want to lighten penalties for repeat drunk drivers. We shouldn’t be easier on them–we should be issuing hunting tags for them!

DC
Guest
DC

Forgive me if this was covered in past articles, but regarding the red light law: what is the intended course of action for waiting at a red light and determining a “full cycle”? If the light went through a “full cycle” then the rider would have gotten a green light! At a standard two-road intersection without turn lanes, the whole point is the light is NOT going through full cycles.

What am I missing?

Paul
Guest
Paul

I’m equally confused. I didn’t see any reference to this applying only where the turn arrows are not responding. If you have a major street crossed by a “sensor” street, a complete cycle might never occur.

9watts
Guest
9watts

The way this works can be seen by watching, for instance, the cross-traffic pedestrian countdown cycle. After counting down to what would normally result in a solid orange for the pedestrian and a green for you instead starts over with a white walking person symbol for the pedestrian and still no green for you. Happens at 33rd & Powell, for instance.

DC
Guest
DC

Thanks, that makes sense for those intersections. But if not most, then certainly a large portion of signaled intersections in Oregon don’t have pedestrian signals. (And then there’s the argument that as a road user you shouldn’t be obligated to keep track of pedestrian signals….)

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

If you mean ‘don’t have pedestrian signal heads’, maybe. Do you have any data to back up such a claim?
The vehicle signal is the alternative signal for non-motorized traffic, so a signal for pedestrians does, in fact, exist everywhere.
A full signal cycle phase is the cycle that starts with one direction green and ends with that same direction starting again. A turn signal for the main street that stops one direction of opposing traffic, then starts it again without giving time to the side street is an example of a full cycle where the cross street time is zero.
Modern signals don’t follow the old rules, and could provide access to the intersection in a random nature. I’ve seen this with auto traffic at complex intersections, particularly when two such are close together.
How a cyclist or motorcyclist would know a complete cycle has occurred, or a police officer, is difficult to understand.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Assuming there’s a pedestrian signal, an alternative would be to dismount and cross in the crosswalk on foot.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

That’s a great question. There are two notorious [non-]sensors on my commute (one to and one from the office), and I have a conundrum at these lights every time I’m the first one there. I “know” it doesn’t detect me, so I am tempted to go at my earliest opportunity, but then what if it works this time?—so I wait. Sometimes, just as I’ve decided I’m going to “proceed with caution through the intersection”, that’s when a car will pull up behind me and I then have to continue waiting for the normal request cycle. At one of these lights, there is a cycle I can watch: oncoming traffic gets a left turn/straight ahead green, then cross traffic gets the green back, then oncoming traffic gets another left turn/straight ahead signal…that’s when I decide to seize the next gap (and usually when a car pulls up behind me). At the other signal, it’s a tee, so there is no cycle except the one that would allow me to go; here, I tend to go as soon as it’s clear, unless another car arrives to trip the sensor.

Really, though, unless an officer is staking out the intersection, who’s to say how long you waited? How are you to know what the normal cycle time would be? Most signals have individual cycle times; one might be a 30-second cycle, the next might be 15 seconds or a full minute.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I got stopped for taking a left on a red light at an intersection in San Jose once (https://goo.gl/maps/dTcBW to be specific). Fortunately the officer was very reasonable and willing to listen to my explanation. I told him I’d witnessed the lights cycle without detecting me, and I was then confronted with the decision to cross the two speeding lanes behind me (technically against the walk signal) to signal the pedestrian crossing, or cross the large gap in the two oncoming lanes I could readily see, which I deemed to be safest. I asked him if either of those options would be legal, and he said no. I said that I was just following a route suggested by Google Maps for bikes, but that I also didn’t see the standardized symbol painted in the lane that tells a bicyclist where they can stand to signal the light, and that carbon fiber doesn’t always signal those anyway. He said that he felt I was being honest so he let me go.

Frankly the crosswalk at this light puts pedestrians directly into drivers who tend to take this right turn fast and aggressively, so to this day I run that light (after stopping) and hope that if I get pulled over it’s not by the same cop. 😉

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

How brave of you… that section of Prospect is a death trap for cyclists! 😉

But I guess that would describe most of Santa Clara County anyway. I was right-hooked on Hamilton in Campbell several years ago by a guy who yelled “You dented my car!” as he got out – only after I snapped a photo of him to prevent hit-and-run. The cops sure were cool about it though… three cop cars showed up and the driver was ticketed and held 100% at fault.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I’ve definitely learned where to ride and where not to ride around here! One thing I like about Strava is learning new routes from people who ride them more often than I do. I’ve actually found drivers to be courteous and aware of cyclists around here for the most part, ironically. But not during rush hours…

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

“I’ve actually found drivers to be courteous and aware of cyclists around here for the most part, ironically.”

They don’t have the Oregonian spewing out bike hate. 😉

Pete
Guest
Pete

Yeah, I’d have to say that I haven’t been targeted and harassed for riding a bike, like I had been in Beaverton and parts west of there. Honked at for taking the lane, sure, but nothing thrown at me… so far.

KristenT
Guest
KristenT

Occasionally, the stop light at the corner of Durham and Hall/85th will fail to register traffic on Hall (car or bike, I’ve had it both ways). The lights on Durham will be green, then red, then immediately back to green for Durham without a green for Hall.

I’ve reported it to ODOT using their fancy app, but as we know, they don’t look at the reports from the app so it’s kind of pointless. It made me feel better, though– I’ve found the best way to report things to ODOT is through their Twitter feed, or K’tesh’s contact. ODOT’s “complaint-driven” process doesn’t really work now, ODOT will need to step up their game if that’s their solution to lights that don’t register traffic.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Usually applies to getting turn arrows. Like there was a straight green, but you didn’t get the turn arrow. So in that case the light would go through a full cycle.

kittens
Guest
kittens

Some of this legislation perfectly illustrate the profound disconnect between reality and law. And how many end up passing but with no realistic enforcement mechanism?

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

“Instead of a law, they would like to see a complaint-driven where people could call ODOT and have signals fixed.”

Hi, ODOT? I just spent five hours at a stoplight before it changed to green, can you fix this? So you’ll do a study in 2019? Great!

Paul
Guest
Paul

Re: SB 533. By using the phrase “roll through” in both the photo caption and the text implies an “Idaho stop”, which is completely different from what this bill addresses.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

I agree that roll through isn’t the best way to describe what is allowed, but the idaho stoplight law is actually far more permissive than this and when I worked to try and pass the idaho style stop sign legislation we were also trying to get the stop light part passed too.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“They fear the law will lead to deadly consequences for inexperienced riders who may not make good judgments on when it’s safe to proceed.”

Good Lord! We should get on banning right turns on red and start converting all two-way stops immediately then! The lives of inexperienced riders (and drivers!) depend on it!

9watts
Guest
9watts

This is why getting ODOT staff to speak on the record is so priceless. Anything that comes out of their mouths gives the game away. Paternalism was just the outer layer of this onion.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

…And it’s the same “rationale” used against the Idaho-style STOP law: “Just imagine the carnage! Everyone knows if you give those scofflaw cyclists an inch, they’ll take a mile! And the poor, law-abiding motorists will be forced to pay the price!”

Evan Manvel
Guest
Evan Manvel

To be fair, we only have 40 years of data on the Idaho stop law. Might be too early to tell.

Pete
Guest
Pete

We don’t need no stinking data… just ask Rep. Davis…

John Lascurettes
Guest

Or Amanda Fritz.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…To be fair, we only have 40 years of data on the Idaho stop law. …” manvel

Forty seconds of thought about the advisability of bikes not having to stop at stop signs, may be about all the amount of time most reasonable people need, to know the spud state stop law, isn’t a good idea, or one they want to live with in their own state. Backing this up for 40 years, is the fact that no other state of the union has taken up Idaho’s idea for their own.

Pete
Guest
Pete

So you call framing a law around the way most people ride now (without being hit or causing roadway carnage) unreasonable?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“So you call framing a law around the way most people ride now (without being hit or causing roadway carnage) unreasonable?” Pete

Your idea of “…the way most people ride now…”, meaning what? Try being at least a little articulate. If you’re asking whether I believe most people do not consider people riding bikes, rolling stop signs and barely stopping for stop lights, to be a good idea: I already spoke to that suggestion.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Hmm, I think most people riding bikes DO think it’s a good idea to approach stop signs slowly and roll through them without stopping when the intersection is clear.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“Your idea of ‘…the way most people ride now…’, meaning what? Try being at least a little articulate. If you’re asking whether I believe most people do not consider people riding bikes, rolling stop signs and barely stopping for stop lights, to be a good idea: I already spoke to that suggestion.”

“The way most people [who ride bikes] ride”, and “what ‘most people’ (most of whom don’t ride) believe is a good idea” are logically unrelated notions. Pete is obviously referring to a common behavior (regardless of what “most people” think of it) of bicyclists treating STOP signs as yields and—to a lesser extent, I think—red lights as STOP signs. The point is that no one (or very few people, if any) has been harmed by people riding this way, even though it is currently illegal. Therefore, what harm would there be in legalizing current behavior? How would allowing people to continue to ride the way they currently ride increase the danger of riding? Do you imagine that people who think it’s a bad idea will suddenly change their minds?

Making traffic laws on the basis of “what people already do (or wish they could do)” is not all that rare. We have right turns allowed on red lights already, we set speed limits at the so-called “85th percentile”, meaning the speed limit is set to the speed at (or below) which 85% of drivers already drive, we allow driving on the shoulder to pass on the right if a vehicle ahead is signaling a left turn, we had a bill on the table to raise the Oregon freeway speed limit to 75, because that’s just how people drive anyway (that bill failed, however—I think), and another bill that passed to allow motorcyclists and bicyclists to legally proceed through a red light when sensors aren’t working, because “that’s what anybody would do”, we only legalized passing on the right for bicyclists in 2006, a relatively recent change allowing something “most people” may have believed was “a bad idea”, but the carnage has yet to ensue 8 years later.

Traffic laws were not brought down off of Mt. Sinai by Moses; they are people’s notions of what they think makes sense. They are much like the rules to a sport; the inventor of the game makes them up, and then sometimes they get changed based on advances in athletic training, more high-tech equipment, the way participants tend to play, etc. It is interesting that your disagreement with an Idaho-style STOP law for bicyclists is based not on the results of having the law in Idaho, but on what you believe to be the tacit disapproval of other state governments evidenced by their failure to pass similar laws.

Pete
Guest
Pete

All depends on how you define “rolling” a stop sign. Studies show that bicyclists tend to stop before stop signs so they can maintain some semblance of momentum through them. OTOH, motorists tend to stop over stop lines due to mass and momentum, and the sight lines caused by the general geometries of automobiles (i.e. sitting behind a long nose with an engine under the hood). You can look up the studies yourself, but this is also the majority of the behavior that I’ve observed while driving and riding – for the legally compliant road users, that is.

Do bicyclists “blow” stops dangerously? Sure, some do, but that’s not the consideration here. The Idaho stop law is based on the premise that a bicyclist can stop fairly quickly when necessary (at a stop, where they’re theoretically already stopping), and that maintaining a small amount of momentum through the line may even be safer than coming to a complete stop simply because it takes a lot longer for a bicyclist to start moving than it does a driver in a car – and that’s assuming the bicyclist is experienced enough to have downshifted before the stop (or not on a high-geared fixie).

Pete
Guest
Pete

Unlike cars, momentum = balance for bicyclists, and maintaining (a safe minimal) of both through a stop line makes sense for all involved; a sensible driver would see this as a benefit as they’d therefore have to wait a split-second less. Again, this doesn’t change any of the ROW laws in the circumstances where other vehicles are present and waiting, and I think a majority of the non-cycling public that opposes this does not understand that.

younggods
Guest
younggods

Next after “Dead red” should be the “Idaho stop”.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Hear hear. Frankly I’m a little surprised that “dead red” passed, but I suspect it wouldn’t have if there weren’t motorcyclists involved.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

10 million+ bicycles sold per year while there are about a half million motorcycles sold per year. How are the motorcycle groups so good that they’ve repealed helmet laws and we’re still floundering around?

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

They buy gas.

9watts
Guest
9watts

This!
We have still not come to grips with the fact that in our society to be considered an adult member of society, a real person with a job, you are assumed to have or drive a motor vehicle, and vice versa. This bikey thing is just a fad, a diversion, a pleasant way to get exercise; it has nothing to do with [ODOT voice] the movement of freight or how people get where they need to go.

Fortunately (for them) the Europeans have this bias to a much smaller degree because there bicycling is and has for generations been understood as a cheap way to get around, not just a recreational thing.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Even if you don’t buy gas, you are buying gas. Isn’t that neat!

Sure, you are paying for somebody ELSE’s gas, so they can have the privilege of rolling coal and yelling at you to get off ‘their’ road, but it feels good to contribute, right?

LESTER
Guest
LESTER

The all-ages bicycle helmet law in Dallas, TX just got repealed. It would be nice if Vancouver, WA would repeal theirs. Even better would be a unified state-wide repeal of bicycle helmet laws in Washington State.

The police in downtown Vancouver, WA typically only use the law as an ersatz Stop and Identify statute for cyclists, skateboarders, rollerskaters, etc who don’t wear helmets. This really hits the homeless population, who are most often targeted.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

republican motorcyclists to be exact…

Champs
Guest
Champs

Surely ODOT can’t be serious. Only a self-driving car would sit at a dead red indefinitely, and I bet that even those are programmed to only wait so long.

Mike
Guest
Mike

If you want fewer cars in Salem and Portland then there should have been support for the WES extension. Does anyone know if the legislators from the two cities publicly supported it?

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

The per passenger price of WES is awfully high to be proposing an extension… I like the idea of it but unfortunately it like LIFT is siphoning too much money away from basic fixed route bus services.

Tait
Guest
Tait

WES suffers from the same negative-feedback spiral as rural bus routes. Running the route/line frequently and all day and at least some time into the evenings requires a lot of money, but there aren’t enough riders to justify that. And riders see that they can’t reach their destinations in a timely fashion, or the trip can’t be made at the time they need, so they don’t ride. And fewer riders means less money, which means less frequent and shorter service, which means fewer riders and less money…

Even the people I know who want to ride WES, can’t. The morning times either don’t work for them, or they can’t be guaranteed to get off work within the narrow range of times to catch WES back the other way.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Salem to Portland commuting is not something we should be supporting with public money. WES currently costs above $10 per boarding, and an extension would probably increase this cost. We need to stop providing incentives for mega-commutes.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Idaho studied the impact when they moved to allowing people to treat red lights like stop signs when there was no cross traffic, they found no increase in injuries or deaths. It turns out that people are pretty good at judging when they are sitting at a red light for no reason. Their red light law was actually proposed by their state police and sheparded through by a republican. I really don’t understand why it is the least bit controversial, plenty of data to show there is no actual safety reason to oppose it.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…I really don’t understand why it is the least bit controversial, …” Bjorn

Plenty of people on the road with the responsibility of safely operating motor vehicles where people riding bikes also are on the road, understand and aren’t enthusiastic about vulnerable road users not being obliged to wait until cross traffic is stopped by red lights, before the vulnerable road user is allowed to proceed through their green light.

Onto people that drive, the so called Idaho Stop adds additional responsibility for avoiding potential close calls and collisions posed by vulnerable road users failing to use sufficient, safe judgment in proceeding through red lights, rather than waiting for a green light to proceed.

In theory, the so called ‘Dead Red’ bill that Oregon may soon have as law, assuming the governor signs it on, may offer somewhat of a safety consideration over the Idaho Stop…in that it obliges people riding motorcycles and bikes to wait at least one cycle of a traffic light, to determine whether it senses their presence or not, before being allowed to proceed through a red.

The obliged stopping period of a signal cycle, means motorcycles and bikes will be legally required to stop at red lights before proceeding, for at least the amount of time it takes a given intersections’ signal light to normally change from red to green. In simple terms: longer period of time at full stop to look carefully for approaching traffic, than ‘red light roll through’ laws would require.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“Onto people that drive, the so called Idaho Stop adds additional responsibility for avoiding potential close calls and collisions posed by vulnerable road users failing to use sufficient, safe judgment in proceeding through red lights…”

No it doesn’t. The Idaho STOP law, just like Oregon’s new pending “Dead Red” law, does not give anyone proceeding against a signal any kind of new right-of-way. If I attempt to “proceed with caution through an intersection” on a red, and get hit by a legally-operating motorist, it’s still my fault, just as it would be with any version of the Idaho STOP law likely to ever be contemplated in Oregon.

“In theory, the so called ‘Dead Red’ bill that Oregon may soon have as law, assuming the governor signs it on, may offer somewhat of a safety consideration over the Idaho Stop…in that it obliges people riding motorcycles and bikes to wait at least one cycle of a traffic light, to determine whether it senses their presence or not, before being allowed to proceed through a red.”

How is having an obligation to stop “for at least one full cycle” any different than having an obligation to stop and “proceed only when safe to do so”?

“The obliged stopping period of a signal cycle, means motorcycles and bikes will be legally required to stop at red lights before proceeding…”

…just as they would for any kind of Idaho-style STOP law…

“…for at least the amount of time it takes a given intersections’ signal light to normally change from red to green. In simple terms: longer period of time at full stop to look carefully for approaching traffic, than ‘red light roll through’ laws would require.”

What difference does the amount of time required to remain stopped make? If someone is required to stop, and only proceed when safe, who is to say when that opportunity for “safe” transit of the intersection will present itself? Will there only be a break in traffic after 3 minutes of waiting? What if a break in cross traffic happens 5 seconds after stopping? Is that gap in traffic less “safe” than a gap that opens up 2 minutes later? It sounds like you are adopting the same paternalistic attitude that “most people” and the government tend to take toward bicyclists in general: that, unlike Responsible Motorists, those on bicycles should be treated like children, regardless of their age, because “everyone knows” they lack judgment and can’t be trusted.

soren
Guest
soren

“the so called Idaho Stop adds additional responsibility for avoiding potential close calls and collisions posed by vulnerable road users failing to use sufficient, safe judgment in proceeding through red lights, rather than waiting for a green light to proceed.”

And the experience of Idaho and multiple cities in Colorado suggests that this is not a problem.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

It really does not seem at all, that anything close to a majority of Oregon voters, are as road users, interested in bearing the additional responsibility of danger to vulnerable road users that Idaho’s bikes only roll through stop law presents to them, regardless of Idaho’s experience with their law.

Did you get that? There is little to no serious interest in bringing Idaho’s law to Oregon. If adoption of this law were to be put on a statewide election ballot, rather than attempting to pass it legislatively, would a majority of Oregon voters give it a thumbs up? There’s the true test of how favorable, or not, Idaho’s law is, amongst Oregonians a a whole.

Pete
Guest
Pete

That may be true, but it was just as true of plastic bag bans when put to vote… or mandatory seatbelt laws back before the feds withheld funding to pressure states into adopting them. Frankly I doubt a majority of Oregon voters would be able to pass a test on current traffic laws, and Oregon’s legislators aren’t demonstrating an impressive track record regarding bike-related legislation either.

Ever notice how many movie stars and wrestling champions get elected into public office? Frankly I prefer decisions based on research and supporting data, not popularity.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…mandatory seatbelt laws…” Pete

Required use of seat belts is a safety measure; not a convenience measure, which is what Idaho’s bikes get to roll stop signs is. People often feel obliged to accept laws that provide enhanced levels of safety, even though such laws may not enjoy wide popularity among the public.

There’s not likely to be near, if any such sense of obligation, with regards to law proposals in which the main provision is convenience. As is the case with Idaho’s stop, and which may explain in part why no state in the union other than Idaho has adopted such a law for itself.

The Oregon bill seeking to have people that bike be legally required to equip their bikes with tail lights rather than simply a reflector to the rear, is a safety measure. It stood a far better chance than Idaho’s stop ever would, of being passed in this current session of the Oregon legislature. Nevertheless, a number of people expressing their feelings to bikeportland about the idea of tail lights being required for bikes, roundly thumbed down that safety measure.

So it’s not likely that a bill proposing to shift additional burden for the safety of vulnerable road users onto people that drive, will be popular in Oregon amongst the public as voters, or amongst Oregon legislators, sufficient to have that idea become law in Oregon…regardless of Idaho’s experience with their law.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Speed limits have been raised based on convenience and the way people have come to drive for years. Light timing standards have changed for many states based on observed “85th percentile” speeds rather than actual speed limits. Lots of laws have changed through the years based on changes in social norms – heck, gays might even get a chance to legally marry in our lifetime. Not all laws are designed for the safety of the people.

One thread that’s common with mandatory seatbelt laws, airbags, third brake lights, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, speed limit changes, etc. is that they ALL were legislated based on extensive studies of their IMPACT and EFFECTIVENESS. (You can bet that auto insurance lobbyists duked it out with auto manufacturers’ representatives and our legislators were caught in the middle).

I don’t care how many times you tell me that a rear taillight is an effective safety measure – and how many times I’ll agree with you – but you continue to completely ignore my point. There isn’t a SHRED of evidence presented by this legislator that mandating the use of taillights will actually increase safety for bicyclists on Oregon roadways, or even be readily visible to a driver at two football fields’ distance away.

soren
Guest
soren

We inched a little closer to the safe and rational approach to cycling and traffic signals — the Idaho stop.

soren
Guest
soren

“they would like to see a complaint-driven where people could call ODOT and have signals fixed”

i often commute on a bike that never triggers loop detectors.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Rep. Bill Kennemer of Oregon City must really like drunk driving…

steve
Guest
steve

Regarding Senate Bill 463 that would allow even darker tinted windows for some people, regardless of what these special cases may be for, it seems to me the current law already allows tinted windows that are too dark or the laws aren’t being enforced. Everyday I see darkly tinted windows everywhere with drivers I can’t communicate with at intersections or wherever. And there is no way a policeman could see if they are on their cell phone, etc. Crazy!

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Davis’ bill passed the House but it doesn’t look like it will get to the Senate floor. …” bikeportland

Davis’s bill, amending an existing law to require bikes be equipped with tail lights, passed the house with a strong margin, 44-14. Why the bill may not make it to the Senate floor, I’m not sure, but it will be unfortunate if it doesn’t.

Given the strong support for the bill from the house, Oregon’s senators should definitely consider and vote as to whether or not it’s a good thing for Oregon to have the law require people using the road with bikes at night, equip their bikes with tail lights for improvement in visibility over that provided by reflectors.

Paul Johnson
Guest

Hopefully this keeps the PPB from stopping me for having dark tint windows, which having those seems to substantially reduce the odds of getting pulled over for having dark skin when I visit Portland (a problem I regularly have in the Metro Region). Still no cure for not having a front plate since my tribe does not issue them.

Tait
Guest
Tait

Aside from the obvious “what if the light doesn’t cycle at all” problem with 533, I don’t think it will really make any difference to me. On my commute path, I already know every light that won’t respond. I don’t even bother waiting for them; I go as soon as it’s clear to do so. (I’d wait if I saw an officer sitting there, but that never happens.)

Tait
Guest
Tait

Why is it a good idea to ban studded tires entirely? That’s going to increase risk and increase road damage by forcing the use of wires and chains instead. I certainly understand that there’s little need for studs in Portland, but Portland is not the rest of the state, and they’re vital in places like Burns or Pendleton. (Oh well, at least it’s effectively dead.)

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

Studded tires make pretty quick mincemeat out of asphalt (of which the majority of our roads and highways are composed), and while it’s true that chains damage pavement more, they are more easily removable and only likely to be on a vehicle when there is actually snow and ice on the ground. Many people who use studs put them on for the whole winter and continue to drive around whether they are needed or not. Anecdotally, I hear studs on cars once or twice a day during the winter here in Portland, and while that doesn’t represent a large percentage of all motor vehicles in the city it still seems a lot more than is necessary. It also seems a disproportionate number of taxis use them as well, for no apparent reason.

Also, it really depends on the conditions to determine what sort of tire works best. In fresh snow, studs are little to no help, and chains are still a necessity. Even on hard pack snow, studs aren’t much of a help, and you’re better served by a quality snow tire. Studs are most useful when road conditions are slick with sleet, freezing rain, or refreeze. Portland is ill suited to deal with such conditions in the first place, and in the second, it’s probably best for the majority of the public to stay off the roads because even with studs and four wheel drive, they are still extremely dangerous.

Lastly, studded tires pose more dangers on wet roads, the condition that we find most often during the winter. Especially at highway speeds, they provide less overall traction to the pavement, and the metal studs represent a surface area that is lubricated by water where it contacts the road.

9watts
Guest
9watts

From comments here I’ve learned that there are a variety of cleverly designed tire profiles now that accomplish essentially the same thing as we once thought we needed studs for. They go by different names. A search of the archives here should reveal these discussions. Studless might be a good first search term.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Also, softer versions of materials for use in colder winter conditions.

Mike Quiglery
Guest
Mike Quiglery

The also make mincemeat out of eyeballs. A guy I know had his eye put out while riding on the Morrison St. bridge when a stud flew off a tire. Also, how often do you see people driving with studs well into spring, even summer!

Tait
Guest
Tait

Wow… that’s pretty scary.

Dan
Guest
Dan

I took a photo of a beer distributor van earlier this year with studded tires on 3 months after we had that 1 day of iffy weather.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Studless snow tires work great in Burns and Pendleton.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

How about limiting the use to low population centers, or vehicles registered in such? Places where population does not result in roads usually clear of snow, or where roads may not be plowed as often?

Dan
Guest
Dan

And Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota.

Anna
Guest
Anna

snow tires ! better performance, safer on wet roads, and , don’t chew up the roads. Also sold by Les Swabe

Tait
Guest
Tait

As resopmok mentioned, snow tires are not going to do a lick of good in the icy conditions that dominate springtime on the east side of the Cascades. I haven’t tried studless, but if they’re as good as people seem to be saying, then that’s great.

davemess
Guest
davemess

So you haven’t tried them, and don’t know anything about the research, but know they won’t work?

Tait
Guest
Tait

(I drifted away from this thread; sorry.) Sounds like there’s some terminology confusion. I know about (and use) snow tires. I have not tried new “studless” designs that are intended to replace studded tires.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I used to use studded tires when I lived in the gorge full-time (and spent lots of time on the mountain), but years ago studless tires weren’t really that good, and they were a LOT more expensive. I found metal-studded tires to be loud, and not very grippy in anything but the iciest of conditions – they weren’t that good in the normal, wet snowfall we mostly got. The studs would shoot out of the tires and into my wheel wells, dmaging my car, so I tried a set of Michelin Alpin studless tires next. They were a LOT better in terms of handling and traction in the snow. Currently I run Bridgestone Blizzaks in the snow, and they are absolutely fantastic.

I think people create a mental image of mountain climbers, ice picks, and crampons in their minds when they try to visualize the effectiveness of metal-studded tires. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois have banned them without problems, though, and they get a lot of icy conditions.

(Another tip people may not think of: if you can run smaller rims on your car, go to a higher profile setup for winter wheels. Wide tires with low profiles are typically preferred for performance and handling on dry pavement, but handling in deeper snow is much better with a narrower tire with a high profile, i.e. taller sidewalls).

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

And you can can use them after the studded tire removal date. Anyone that goes up to the mountains a lot knows that snow storms can happen as late as June some years. Some of the worst wrecks I have seen happened in May, after people had removed their studded tires.

I honestly think that the studded tire advocates haven’t tried modern studless tires. I will never go back to studded tires.

Pete
Guest
Pete

BTW, I think resopmok absolutely nailed it. As an aside, I have a brand new set of Bridgestone Blizzaks for sale if anyone needs, mounted on 15″ winter wheels (will have to measure the multiple hole patterns; came from 2004 VW Jetta). I can be reached at bike at windluvr dotcom. They were my Mom’s but she never got to use them.

Heather G
Guest
Heather G

Also track HB 2464, which reauthorizes ConnectOregon funding, a major way that bike/ped gets funded via ODOT at the regional level.

m
Guest
m

Other than the fact that you don’t like it and at least one person testified against it, why do you label HB 3255 as on “Life Support? This bill passed the House 44-14. Was there commentary by any Senators to give you an indication it will die in committee or not pass the Senate? Yet you say HB 2621 is “stuck in committee” but label it “Alive and Kicking”. Seems inconsistent.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Was there commentary by any Senators to give you an indication it will die in committee or not pass the Senate? …” m

I’d like to know about that myself. Passage of this bill into law wouldn’t be a big deal for people having to equip their bikes with a rear light: they already equip them with a headlight. And the addition of a tail light requirement would considerably improve the visibility to other road users, of people riding bikes on the road. This would be an easy win for everyone.

m
Guest
m

This topic was heavily debated on the original thread. Another key point is it only applies if you are actually riding between dusk and dawn (i.e., it is not applicable for the majority of riding).

Tom
Guest
Tom

Senate Bill 463 — Would allow drivers to have darker tinted windows with a note from their doctor.

Whats wrong with sunscreen, sunglasses, or SPF protective clothing if you are that sensitive? Normally UV is the issue, and UV can be screened without tint.

The police unions are usually really against tinted windows, and hopefully with fight this. The last you want while approach a car window is not being able to see the person. Super dangerous. Statistically I think the data is already out there guaranteeing more police deaths if overly tinted windows are allowed. Every criminal will be able to get a bogus doctor to approve them for the tinting.

Tait
Guest
Tait

(As a criminal…) Don’t even need to bother with the doctor. Just get them painted opaque black. I’ve never heard of the existing tinting laws being enforced, and I don’t think most officers carry the reflectometer necessary to prove the offense anyway. In another state where I lived before, only three out of 200-some officers in the jurisdiction had one.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

Darker tinted windows! So the drivers can’t be seen texting and talking on their cell phones. I have been using the Idaho traffic light/stop sign rules for about 4 decades on my bike. It is the only reasonable way of clearing the intersection in a timely manner for bikes to allow cars to do what ever they are thinking of doing. By the way I am also a motor driver (mercedes) . Reflectors versus reflectors. I am not sure but taillights LED type are cheaper than most reflectors. Usually available at thrift store or? for less than 2 batteries for them. I don’t even reply to texts when I am driving. I also do not wear headphones or text when riding the bike.
I have been noticing a lot of pickups for contractors with signage with the very dark windows all the way around. 2 of them blasted through red lights barely missing me in the car on Friday. I couldn’t tell if there was even a driver on board.