Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 1st, 2019 at 9:14 am
House Bill 2682 passed the Oregon House of Representatives by a vote of 48 to 12 last week. The bill seeks to amend Oregon’s statutory definition of bike lane to clarify that, “A bicycle lane exists in an intersection if the bicycle lane is marked on opposite sides of the intersection in the same direction of travel.”
Despite what’s simply a basic, legal clarification, some lawmakers think it makes cycling less safe and they want to send a message of concern to Oregon Senators as they take up the bill this month.
Bicycle lanes have always maintained legal standing even when unpainted inside intersections; but because two Oregon judges ruled otherwise, advocates felt it necessary to make this fact crystal clear.
As we shared when the bill passed the Joint Committee on Transportation on April 15th, some lawmakers think this is a bad idea.
Out of the 12 no votes* in the 60-member House of Representatives, 11 came from Republicans. Two of them felt the need to publish official explanations with their votes.
Rep. David Brock Smith said:
“I voted NO on HB 2682 for the following reasons and more… It does not make it safer for a bicyclist, gives them a false sense of security and could cause increased litigation. The bill needs to me amended and I hope my no vote assists in having those amendments occur in the Senate.”
Rep. Denyc Boles said:
“I believe this legislation makes bicyclists less safe. This bill needs more work in the Senate and my “No” vote is to help give pause and support for additional amendments in the Senate. Safety is important. We need to make sure the legislation gets this right.”
It’s unclear what type of amendments these lawmakers would like to see (neither responded to requests for comment in time for publication). It’s also unclear why they feel this legislation would make conditions for bicycle riders less safe. The bill doesn’t give bicycle riders any more rights or privileges than they have today. All the bill does is adds a line to the definition of a bicycle lane in Oregon law. The intention is to make the legal right-of-way of bicycle users more ironclad when right-hook and unsafe lane change cases are presented in court.
The Street Trust Executive Director Jillian Detweiler says she and Advocacy Director Richa Poudyal lobbied House and Senate offices on this bill last week. “Urban legislators get it,” she wrote in a comment posted below. “My meeting with Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scapoose) was the most animated. She is convinced cyclists are out of control in the urban areas. I don’t think we will have her vote, but I think I made a little progress.”
For more on why this law makes sense, read this article from legal expert Rick Bernardi.
The bill has had its first reading in the Senate and now awaits further action. Stay tuned.
*No votes were filed by Rep.s Barreto, Boles, Bonham, Boshart Davis, Findley, Lewis, Post, Reschke, Smith (David Brock), Smith (Greg), Wallan, and Witt. See full results here.
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