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


(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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