Oregon’s ‘Idaho Stop’ bill faces headwinds in Senate

Posted by on May 3rd, 2019 at 7:20 am

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

We knew it wouldn’t be easy.

Senate Bill 998 — affectionately known as the Idaho Stop bill because it would allow bicycle riders to treat stop signs (and flashing red signals) as yields — is floundering.

Even though it sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 9th, the bill has stalled out and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee. Asked for a status update on the bill, its chief sponsor, Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) said, “A preliminary assessment shows that I do not have the necessary votes with in the caucus to move it to the floor.”

It’s not surprising that a healthy number of Oregon’s 30 Senators don’t initially support the bill. We know how existing biases influence how people perceive cycling-related legislation and it’s often mis-framed as a law that would unleash chaos and anarchy from “those bicyclists”.

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The good news is the Sen. Prozanski hasn’t had the chance to present the bill to the entire caucus yet. When he presented the bill in Judiciary Committee (which he chairs), the discussion was very calm and reasonable and it passed 6-1. Prozanski says he’ll present the bill to the full Senate this week with the hope of finding enough support to get it to the floor.

The Senator has help from The Street Trust. While it wasn’t on their agenda (because it emerged so late), Executive Director Jillian Detweiler says her organization fully supports Idaho Stop.

Detweiler and Street Trust Advocacy Director Richa Poudyal did the rounds of House and Senate offices last week to lobby on behalf of House Bill 2682 (which would clarify the definition of bike lanes in intersections), but found the conversations often turned to SB 998. “As we worked our bill, we told people that while HB 2682 is not the Idaho stop, we support the Idaho stop,” Detweiler told us via email yesterday. She also said she met with Sen. Prozanski’s staff and offered to help.

Let’s hope that Oregon gets this right. Hopefully, the third time’s a charm.

As for HB 2682, it continues to progress. It already passed the House and is slated for a vote in the Senate on Monday (5/6).

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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38 Comments
  • Avatar
    CaptainKarma May 3, 2019 at 10:56 am

    It needs to come back annually if it doesn’t pass this time.

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    Eric Leifsdad May 3, 2019 at 10:58 am

    Here are some of the senators in the Portland Metro area. You should call the one who represents you, tell them that you’re a constituent and that you support the bill 998 (lookup and other contact info if you put your address in at the link.)

    Michael Dembrow 503-986-1723
    Lew Frederick 503-986-1722
    Elizabeth Steiner Hayward 503-986-1717
    Mark Hass 503-986-1714
    Rob Wagner 503-986-1719
    Shemia Fagan 503-986-1724
    Kathleen Taylor 503-986-1721

    https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/FindYourLegislator/leg-districts.html

    I would like to see more discussion in the news on which senators support this or don’t, and make them state their bias publicly. We have so much more to do, this bill should be no more controversial than the one about bike lanes crossing an intersection.

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    oliver May 3, 2019 at 11:18 am

    Meanwhile, I continue to be constantly passed by cars while pedaling 20 mph on clearly posted residential streets in Portland.

    And yesterday, while driving home from picking up the groceries, a young woman driver passed me on the left in the process of running the stop sign where I was stopped.

    IDK, it must be time for another bicycle stop sign enforcement in Ladds.

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      John Lascurettes May 3, 2019 at 11:43 am

      I get passed everyday in an active 20MPH school zone right about the time that pass a mile marker on my ride tracker which tells me I’m doing 19-22 MPH. Yesterday, I got passed by someone that was clearly doing 35-40MPH. This is southbound SW 12th Ave right in front of Benson High School. I wonder if I put together a supercut of these speeders I could get some police enforcement (maybe if I start with PPS or PBOT as an ally) a la Ladd’s stop sign stings.

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        B. Carfree May 3, 2019 at 2:20 pm

        You know motorists “must pass bicycle” and if you have the audacity to be riding at the speed limit you “force” them to speed in order to fulfill their quasi-religious need to pass any and all people on bikes.

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      B-Rad May 3, 2019 at 7:23 pm

      I got hunted down by women with a giant diamond ring and brand new Tesla (no plates) She nearly hit me going like 50 mph on 18th and Flanders then at the stop light i kicked her tire and then she got out her car with mace and tried to rip me off my bike as i was fleeing she got in her car and drove 1000 mph RIGHT AT ME! Lucky another driver saw me kick the tire and she was yelling at the Tesla lady YAH AND YOU DESERVED IT. That lady saved my life cuz eventually the blonde lady in the Tesla started chasing her or vice versa. MAN my nerves have been wrecked ever since….I bike to get to work everyday it is so scary out there….PORTLAND OREGON 2019…SIGH..

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        9watts May 4, 2019 at 6:31 am

        Those Teslas, man, they sure can accelerate.

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        9watts May 4, 2019 at 6:32 am

        I liked your transportation metaphors, Jonathan:

        Headwinds (bike, walk)
        Stalled out (car, truck)

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        Toby Keith May 5, 2019 at 8:48 am

        Nice piece of fiction.

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    Gregg May 3, 2019 at 11:25 am

    The Dems have a supermajority. If this doesn’t pass, it’s because they don’t want it to.

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      BikeSlobPDX May 3, 2019 at 11:58 am

      If this is a Democrat vs. Republican thing, then how did it get passed in Idaho?

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        John Lascurettes May 3, 2019 at 12:13 pm

        Agreed; unfortunately this is a car head vs. transportation wonk thing. And the Republicans do not have a monopoly on car heads by a long shot.

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        Bjorn May 3, 2019 at 3:51 pm

        Two things helped in Idaho, first in 1982 when Idaho first passed this change we were a lot closer to the Iran oil crisis and cycling was not seen as a partisan issue the way that it is now thanks to the Koch brothers and climate change denialism. The second and possibly more important thing was that the change was tucked into a larger bill and so people didn’t really focus that much about it. There was some discussion but it wasn’t news before it passed and so it snuck through and now we have decades of data showing that it is a good idea. Even with all that data though it continues to be a hard sell here in Oregon, hopefully as more and more states pass similar laws the tide will eventually turn here too.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty May 3, 2019 at 4:44 pm

      Democrats are not one monolithic block.

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        9watts May 4, 2019 at 6:36 am

        And they certainly don’t have a majority when it comes to principle, critical thinking, standing up for the right thing. But we (Oregon) do lead in corporate cash contributed to legislators. I wonder if that plays any role? 😉

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      soren May 4, 2019 at 3:17 pm

      The Oregon democratic party passed a mandatory sidepath law (one of only 7 states in the nation with this blatantly anti-cycling law) and recently passed a bike sales tax (the only state with a “sin tax” that targets cycling).

      I don’t understand why many assume that the democratic party is particularly supportive of cycling for transportation.

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        Fred May 6, 2019 at 6:50 am

        I’m not aware of the sidepath law. Is it this?
        https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.420
        Is it basically saying that if a cycling path or lane is provided, a cyclist must use it? – for example, a cyclist *must* use the Tryon Creek path instead of SW Terwilliger Blvd, which I much prefer? Thanks.

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          El Biciclero May 13, 2019 at 12:04 pm

          There’s a little bit of ambiguity in this law, which could work for or against a bicyclist, depending on law enforcement’s degree of concern, and which direction their “discretion” leans.

          In the case of Tryon creek, it would seem to come down to how “near” (as in, “adjacent to or near the roadway”) is defined. If the path was deemed to be “near” the roadway you were using, then it would come down to whether that path was “suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed” (after a public hearing, of course), which would in turn come down to one’s definitions of both “safe” and “reasonable”.

          My definition of “safe” (paved, at least 6′ wide, closed to pedestrians) and “reasonable” (speeds up to the posted or statutory speed limit of the adjacent or nearby roadway), will almost certainly differ from those of law enforcement.

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    mark smith May 3, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    It’s pretty amazing, the dems are firmly in power and are yielded to the almighty car. Just like the republicans.

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    Todd Boulanger May 3, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    The biggest “problem” that the Idaho Stop has now in Oregon … is not the “safety” argument but that its called “Idaho”! Oregonians have been bred and successfully indoctrinated that they are special people from a special place…so if this is to pass thru Salem it needs a new name for the 2020 session. Like the “Timo Turn” or “Blue Bypass” or “Oregon Option”…

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      Bjorn May 3, 2019 at 3:55 pm

      Having lobbied on this issue for many years I don’t believe the branding is the issue. While we have heard that something working one place doesn’t mean it will work here in oregon from some folks I think they can be convinced by seeing that it is also working in several other states going forward. Many worried legislators don’t want to be seen as leading on something they worry could be a safety issue, but I think that once it is clear that Oregon isn’t leading the way but following a pack of other states it will finally pass.

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      rainbike May 3, 2019 at 4:23 pm

      Maybe call it the “California Roll”. Would that make it more familiar? Cause, well, you know…

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    bendite May 3, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    Since 90% of the drivers do an Idaho stop in their cars this should be no prob.

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      mark May 4, 2019 at 8:25 am

      98%

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      paikiala May 6, 2019 at 1:12 pm

      Actual measurements are 80%.

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    SD May 4, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    I wish I had the time and video equipment to make an instructional video that showed the difference in perspective between approaching a stop sign on a bike and a car.

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      ! May 4, 2019 at 7:10 pm

      That would make for a fantastic Youtube video

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      Dan A May 6, 2019 at 11:44 am

      It wouldn’t convince MOTRG.

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    mark smith May 4, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    SD
    I wish I had the time and video equipment to make an instructional video that showed the difference in perspective between approaching a stop sign on a bike and a car.Recommended 1

    Wish I had the time to video how well cars demonstrate the idaho stop at every stop sign.

    Every.

    single.

    Stop sign.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

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    X May 13, 2019 at 7:33 am

    Thanks for the videos to demonstrate what we’ve all seen. No predictable safe behavior.

    Some things scored as “stops” actually didn’t occur until the vehicle was well into the marked crosswalk. That’s at least a warning if we’re going strictly by the book. Some “rolls” reached their slowest point well behind the crosswalk, giving an alert driver time to at least look both ways. Those people probably feel they stopped.

    Almost all the drivers transgressed the crosswalk somehow but who walks in Baverton?

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