The Oregon House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 998 today by a vote of 31 to 28. From here the bill will go to Governor Kate Brown’s desk for signing.
This is a huge victory for bike advocates who have worked for years to get this legislation through. Once it becomes law, every bicycle rider in Oregon will be able to legally treat every stop sign and flashing red signal as a yield sign. That is, you will no longer have to come to a complete stop at every frickin’ stop sign!
Here’s the official summary of the bill (PDF below):
Permits person operating bicycle to enter intersection controlled by specified traffic control devices without stopping. Permits person operating bicycle to turn without stopping at intersection with specified traffic control devices. Creates offense of improper entry into intersection where traffic is controlled by stop sign. Punishes by maximum fine of $250. Creates offense of improper entry into intersection where traffic is controlled by flashing red signal. Punishes by maximum fine of $250.
After passing with strong bipartisan support in the Senate and several committees, the debate prior to today’s vote was very nerve-wracking for supporters of the bill. One by one, several House reps stood up and gave reasons why they would not support the bill. Fortunately, none of them had good arguments. It was the same old, uninformed opinions and it was clear that everyone who spoke against it simply didn’t understand the bill. Either that, or they are just so blinded by their driving privilege they couldn’t fathom this type of change to traffic law.*Reps Gorsek, Findley and Noble voiced strong opposition to the bill.
The bill was carried on the floor by Rep. Barbara Smith Warner. She stood with great strength in support of the bill and
She introduced the bill by explaining how it was about “usability” and that, unlike driving a vehicle, bicycle riders constantly need to start and stop under their own power. Rep Smith Warner also explained that bicycle users have superior peripheral vision as they approach intersections. She addressed safety concerns by sharing a statement from the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police and Oregon State Sheriff’s Association: “While we have some concerns,” the statement read, “There are studies that indicate the law could actually improve safety… The bill places the entire burden for good decision-making on the bicyclists who must proceed through intersections safely… We believe it will be important for this new law to be carefully monitored to be determined if it’s resulting in positive outcomes in terms of safety for both bicyclists and motorists.
Rep. Chris Gorsek (D-Troutdale) was first to stand up and debate the bill. “In a place like Portland,” he said, “Where you have cars and buses and trucks and skateboards and roller-bladers, and now these zipping, whatever-they-are… scooters! I think when you consider how hazardous it is for motor vehicles to try and drive around places like Portland and their concern about reducing traffic accidents, that this is probably something that is problematic at best and I would urge a no vote.”
Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) did some heavy-lifting on the floor today, and his voice mattered because he’s chair of the House Rules Committee where the bill was heard. He explained to lawmakers that being able to retain momentum at an intersection is a major safety benefit — especially for riders like him who aren’t very fast and strong. “I’m coming up a very slight incline. I come to a full stop. I look both ways. No traffic. I try to get going and make it across the intersection. By the time I get to the other side there are cars bearing down and honking their horns because I’m not fast enough to make it across the damn street! This is true. And I’ve seen it with kids too.”
“I don’t think we are interjecting a law into an environment where we should assume that bicyclists are unaware or careless. I think we can count on them to use this new ability responsibility.”
— Rep. Ken Helm
Rep. Ken Helm (D-Washington County), a dedicated rider himself, had positive words about the bill. “Bicyclists take their role on the road very seriously,” he said, “I don’t think we are interjecting a law into an environment where we should assume that bicyclists are unaware or careless. I think we can count on them to use this new ability responsibility.”
Rep. Ronald Noble (R-McMinnville), a former police officer, didn’t support the bill. He also didn’t seem to understand it. “I could apply the same rationale when I ride a motorcycle,” he said. “I’m very aware of my surroundings and there are times when there is no traffic and it’d sure be nice to just ignore the traffic control device and make my way through. Similar to driving a patrol car in the middle of the night when the streets are bare and it would be nice to disregard the traffic signals.” What Rep. Noble gets wrong in his analysis is that a motorcycle has a motor and one of the main rationales for the bill is to allow human-powered bicycle users to retain their precious momentum. He also let slip that he think the bill would apply to “traffic signals”. That’s wrong. It would only apply to stop signs and flashing reds.
In her final speech before the vote, Rep. Smith Warner answered every concern that was brought up and closed out the debate by saying, “On behalf of all the bicyclists in this state and in each of your districts, I would urge an aye vote.”
The vote was excruciatingly close. But none of that matters because it passed. It passed! After so many years of struggle and effort by legislators, volunteer activists, advocates, and community leaders, it passed. The law will go into effect January 1st, 2020.
Here’s how the votes went down:
I want to especially thank Senator Floyd Prozanski for so capably shepherding this bill through — not just this time around but for pioneering this legislation in 2003! And let’s not forget that we wouldn’t be here without the dedication of volunteer activist Bjorn Warloe. Bjorn single-handedly introduced the “Idaho Style” movement to Oregon in 2007 and spent countless hours lobbying legislators and rounding up advocates to push it forward. Despite frustrations, he never gave up. Even this past weekend he told me he was going through his list of advocates and leaders to make sure they emailed testimony to the House Rules Committee. Thank you Bjorn!
Thanks are also due to former House Rep Jules Bailey who fought for this bill and took a lot of heat in the tumultuous Battle of 2009. Thank you Jules!
With so much bad news out of Salem right now, it feels good to get a victory for bicycling.
UPDATE: Here’s a 14 minute video I spliced together of the floor speeches (might still be processing, but should be done soon):
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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I am pleased by this. Does this apply to the Stop signs on the Springwater?
hell to the yes. Every stop sign in oregon baby! (AFAIK… I’m not a lawyer).
The law refers to intersections controlled by stop signs (and flashing red lights). There are stop signs that aren’t used at intersections–parking lots, for example. Trail intersections might count as intersections covered by the law–at least that’s how I’m going to treat them. Also, the law doesn’t seem to explicitly allow yielding without stopping when leaving an alley or private driveway, where stopping prior to crossing the sidewalk is required (even if no stop sign is posted).
I saw the first stop sign of many went up on the new paved section of the Springwater Corridor trail today…Might as well take it down!
It will now be treated as a yield sign, which is still an important traffic control.
Most stop signs should be replaced by yield signs. They essentially mean the same thing: “yield the right of way.”
That’s how most people treat them anyway. Very seldom does anyone come to a complete stop before the stop line, then slowly creep for visibility, then go when clear, as is required by law. In practice, most roll past the stop line at 4 mph assuming no pedestrians, fully stop only if they have cross traffic or have to wait their turn, then go. Virtually everyone drives and bikes like this already, and it’s the standard in Europe for smaller intersections – they only put a “STOP” sign if visibility is terribly restricted by bushes or walls etc.
Please stop at the stop sign crossing Luther and Springwater. Drivers speed there and it’s a bit of a blind hill. Super sketchy to blow through there, as well as other stops on the springwater/I205
People shouldn’t be “blowing” through stop signs even with this bill. The whole point of the Idaho stop is to allow retaining momentum if it’s safe to do so. “Blowing” through a stop sign means the cyclist hasn’t taken the time to properly identify if the intersection is safe to travel through. None of this relieves cyclists of their obligations on the road.
OMG you are using “biased” language against automobiles!
Except its reasonable and applicable to the conversation at hand, amazing huh?
“Bias for me but not for thee!”
Very glad this passed – now let’s follow the rule and stop when there’s traffic or all such behavior will be blamed on this law.
Jonathan, I think the closeness of the vote matters. There are a lot of uninformed reps in the state house. To help keep this from coming up for review later, I suggest looking up your rep to see how he/she voted and if your rep voted “no”, let them know how you feel.
Also Jonathan, can you or have already linked to any good summary of studies on the relative safety of Idaho Stop? Wikipedia references studies that suggest the science is on our side. I’d still like the press, legislators, and people in general to understand the facts.
I mention the press because the Oregonian will get this wrong. The picture they tweeted with the story misrepresents the law. It shows a blurry cyclist going thru an intersection while cars wait… that’s not the way this law works but it reinforces the impression that cyclists are entitled jerks.
Here is a link to the Berkeley school of public health study by Jason Meggs that was entered into the record. It is the only scientific study around the impact of Idaho Style stop sign laws I am aware of and it finds no safety issue, in fact cyclist injuries actually declined slightly. http://denver.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2018/02/idaho-law-jasonmeggs-2010version-2.pdf
Link to PDF of masters thesis:
“While no significant difference in proportion of crashes exists at intersections verses midblock between the cities (Figure 7), there were differences in the severity of crashes overall (Figure 6). Champaign/Urbana held a 54 percent level of Type B crashes and a 24 percent level of Type C crashes. This compared to Boise’s more balanced 45 percent and 40 percent respectively. “
I just feel like I should probably point out that it looks like the emergency clause was removed so this won’t actually take effect until January 1st, meaning we may still have to endure another Ladd’s sting but it will be 2020 before we know it!
I took the time to look up the legislators representing me and if they voted no, I asked why they voted no.
If they voted yes, I thanked them for it and let them know I appreciated the representation.
Congratulations to all who advocated for this!
The full text of the bill is here: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2019R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/SB998/A-Engrossed
Jonathan, your blockquote is not the text. It is an editor’s brief summary.
This bill adds two new sections to the Oregon Revised Statutes and amends a few sections to specifically exclude bicycles.
Let’s hope the governor signs it!
Thanks Pixie for posting the text.
Thanks to everyone who made this happen! We learned a lot from Senator Prozanski’s deft maneuvering. We also learned that we need a change in leadership of the House/Senate/Joint Transportation Committee so that these legislative gymnastics are not as necessary.
No kidding – Ron Noble is an embarrassment. Has he ever been outside of a car? (including a patrol car). His testimony showed absolutely no knowledge of cycling whatsoever.
Cheers to everyone who helped get this through, and thanks so much to you, Jonathan, for your work on this! We know your advocacy made a difference!
Best bike news in a long while… walking just a centimeter above the ground today 😉
Will the Ladd stop sign stings remain feasible?
If those were really always about failure to yield to someone walking, maybe enforcement will have to take that approach: have someone walk up to the intersection, cite anyone who fails to yield.
I might have missed it in the article, but when does this take effect? Immediately upon the governor’s signature?
takes effect January 1 2020.
The cycling equivalent to right-turn-on-red-signal–purely at the discretion of the operator.
Yes on the discretion part…but the car is still required to stop. I still see many drivers blow through them.
I wish I were more confident in an inevitable Brown signature.
Oh, come on—Kate’s cool; I’m sure it will survive. Happy New Year!
Are Reps Gorsek, Findley and Noble actually all the same person wearing slightly different outfits attempting to artificially magnify opposition? Those side-by-side pictures are hilarious.
That really jumped out at me to, no idea why. They all kinda look like Glenn Beck.
It’s definitely no coincidence…
Nice job Karen Power representing Milwaukie!
First up, the stop signs at 39th and glisan.
Every member who voted against should be on street trusts list to vote out.
A battery powered sawzall would solve that problem.
Great news! But… I’m curious if anyone knows why Rep. Sanchez was a no–she no doubt reps a lot of readers of BP…?
A good lesson in taking responsibility as a citizen seriously! Rep. Sanchez is my rep and I foolishly assumed she would be a “yes” vote, so didn’t reach out in support of the bill. I learned my lesson (and just reached out to express my disappointment) but in the future I’ll pay a little more attention and actually ASK my representatives how they’re voting rather than just assuming they’ll vote the right way because they represent one of the most progressive districts in the country…
Rep. Sanchez is my rep too, I emailed her and the House Rules committee when the call on BP went out that more testimony was needed. I included the study Bjorn has posted on here and detailed why I felt it was important in improving cycling.
Her office emailed me back almost immediately after the vote to tell me that the bill passed with this text:
“Thank you for your email and for expressing support of SB 998. We have been hearing similar support from other cyclists and constituents and appreciate you taking the time to reach out to our office about this piece of legislation. The bill actually just passed on the House floor moments ago!”
Shocked to learn she voted against with this seemingly positive email and have responded to express my disappointment and ask her why. Will post here if she responds.
Uh, yeah. You don’t get to “Good News!” the passage of a bill you voted against. I know my rep will be getting questions at his next town hall.
Wow, now that’s a serious case of someone talking out of both sides of their mouth. I’ve also sent Tawna Sanchez a disappointed email. I hope I hear back.
“I saw the first stop sign of many went up on the new paved section of the Springwater Corridor trail today…Might as well take it down!”
am i misreading this? does the law suggest that bikes now have some immutable ROW?
Well those signs are now the equivalent of a yield sign… which is how you would handle any uncontrolled intersection so… doesn’t really add anything having them there.
No, but this is the misunderstanding that a few authority-types are afraid of. The law does NOT change ANY rules of ROW, it merely allows bicyclists to follow the existing and unchanged rules of ROW without always having to come to a complete stop to do it.
Bicyclists, please don’t misunderstand this new law and start preempting the right-of-way of other road users! You can still be cited for “improper entry” into an intersection, and I would fully expect some “educational” enforcement actions to be set up to “help” bicyclists understand how the law works.
Woooo hoooo!!!! So glad to see this finally passing through the legislature! A big thank you and congratulations to Bjorn, Jules, Spencer, Jonathan, the legislators and all the rest that worked so hard to make this happen!
Come January 1, 2020 Idaho=Oregon YES!
Woooo hoooo!!!! So glad to see this finally passing through the legislature! A big thank you and congratulations to Bjorn, Jules, Spencer, Jonathan, the legislators and all the rest that worked so hard to make this happen!
Come January 1, 2020 Idaho STOP = Oregon STOP
So, I’m going to need to educate my Rep, despite reaching out multiple times.
Was the fine for failure to observe a stop sign INCREASED to $250? I had heard that the new fine was more than the old, but ORS 811.265 establishes failure to observe as a class B violation, and ORS 153.018/019/021 set min/presumptive/max fines for class B as $135/265/1000. Am I reading this correctly and the only increase was to the minimum fine amount, but actually decreased the max possible fine?
I look at what constitutes “improper entry”, and the conditions there are that the bicyclist essentially failed to yield (implying there was other traffic or pedestrians there to be yielded to), or failed to exercise care to “avoid an accident”. That last bit could still be subject to “discretion”, depending on whether an officer believes that a bicyclist was going too fast to avoid an accident if other traffic had been present, but was not, and further asserts that it is the bicyclist’s responsibility to avoid potential crashes, even if there is nothing there to crash into.
This is unbelievably awesome. All the way home today I did absolutely nothing different from any other day…as I will in January. I’ll enjoy my last few months of feeling like James Dean, and then continue doing nothing different.
But seriously, this passage does show that at least a squeaker of a majority of those in charge has begun to see that people using bikes to get around is a net positive for any community or city, and maybe—just maybe—we should do everything we can to encourage it and make it easier and more convenient.
I know there are stop sign purists out there, so for you this is huge, but honestly I don’t feel like this will drastically alter cycling behavior across Oregon. Rather it will just decriminalize the act of riding a bike in the most efficient manner possible. A huge thank you to all those who pushed to make this happen on everyone’s behalf! Cheers!!
I’m relieved to see little complaint about this falling short of The Full Idaho Stop™. 90% of the benefit for 10% of the trouble is not a deal to pass up.
I view Oregon’s existing “Dead Red” law as enough to compensate for the lack of a signal-as-STOP provision in this new law. I might legally have to wait longer, but I won’t be stuck forever at signals that don’t detect my bike.
The weird thing about the dead red law is that you don’t always know when a cycle has passed.
Yeah, sometimes signals don’t even have a “cycle”, except when the sensor is activated [*cough-SunsetTransitCenter-*cough*].
I just guesstimate it takes about 30 seconds, sometimes less…
And I’m sure they all thought you were breaking the law.
As long as the signal uses vehicle detection, it fails to detect the bicycle, and you wait one full cycle, you can proceed through the red. The trickiest part is triggering the full cycle, which usually requires another vehicle to arrive at the intersection to trigger a change in the lights. I feel like the law should also allow proceeding through the red after waiting a certain amount of time in case there’s not much traffic to trigger a change. The few times I’ve gone through a red, I’ve been at a left turn signal which stayed red after through traffic got a green.
Also, waiting a full cycle is not required when making a legal turn on red! After stopping, a right turn into a two-way street, and a right or left turn into a one-way street is permitted (unless prohibited by a sign). Left turn on red INTO a one-way street FROM a two-way street is legal as well, though I very rarely see anyone do this maneuver. (ORS 811.360)
Has running a stop sign or red traffic signal ever been a criminal offense in Oregon?
No, I think what people mean is “de-infractionalize”, “de-traffic-offensify”, or “disenviolationize”. Maybe just “legitimize”. It seems a lot of folks fail to distinguish between civil and criminal offenses.
Real upside of all of this is, perhaps now people will realize how stupid stop signs are. perhaps just maybe they will either get rid of some or stop making the ridiculous pile of new ones that they are making all the time.
As depressing as it is, I am not confident that governor Brown will sign it.
LOL that only took ten or fifteen years to get done.
A lot of these reps can’t or won’t ride bicycles.
Well well well. Nice work all and Bjorn it feels pretty good after all this time to see that hard work pay off eh? I remember bringing the Idaho law and epidemiological longitudinal injury reduction study to Senator Floyd Prozanski and working so hard to get written testimony to legislators. As I recall we even had law enforcement and state bike program folks from Idaho provide written testimony. I guess the timing was just not right then. BUT NOW! WOW! When I saw that it had been brought back into life I was surprised. THEN it was even used to confuse the hearings as a zombie scare image in the Bike Lane Intersection bill hearings. Successful passage is a real victory for Senator Prozanski. We should write him letters of thanks for his work to establish this bill as law AND for establishing the Oregon Bicycle Pass “Fall Over Distance” standard (the best passing law in the country) inspired by the memory of Jane Higdon and enacted into law in ORS 811.065. Bravo.
It feels really really great Ray. I reached out to Senator Prozanski in January and kind of got the ball rolling again with him and talked to the BTA/Street Trust to make sure they weren’t going to be opposed. Jonathan asked me why it worked this time and I think it is just a combination of all the work that we all did over the years to build up good arguments for passage and to tear down red herrings like the safety concerns, combined with honestly I think we just wore out many of our opponents who weren’t really invested in blocking it as much as they enjoyed using it as a way to spin up controversy. Doesn’t really matter why this year was the year though, IT WORKED, and I couldn’t be happier.
I’ve got to echo many thanks to all those who took up the call to action on this, and BIKEPORTLAND.ORG blog for it’s longtime advocacy!
It’s a terrific positive move made necessary by too many STOP signs that should say YIELD. Save the STOP signs for when it is truly necessary to stop.
On January 1st regular Portland side streets in the grid will become fully as attractive as greenways. Why?
–no speed bumps
–no cut-through traffic attracted by a long run without stops
–no illusion of safety, every intersection is an equivalent decision point
–less aggressive cross traffic accelerating from a long stop at the parallel high-traffic street
I often ride NE Skidmore St. by choice over NE Going St. Other things being equal, it has better pavement.
Well… That’s fine until u roll through while a car assumes u are going to stop and then u have a very close call and the vehicle driver thinking bad thoughts
Well, this law change would still require bicyclists to yield to anyone with right-of-way. The scenario you are describing could only present in a few ways: both approaching the intersection at the same time, in which the law requires both to stop, or at least follow the rules of ROW, a bicyclist at a two-way stop failing to yield to a driver on the through street, in which case the law says the bicyclist would have to yield, a driver who was already stopped at a 4-way STOP as the bicyclist approached, in which case the bicyclist would be required to yield, or a driver blowing a STOP sign, in which case the law says the driver should have stopped.
This law does not create any different rules of ROW or introduce any ambiguity around who needs to stop or yield. In fact, it removes a bit of ambiguity around what “stop” means for a bicyclist: foot down? Wobbly track stand? Tenth-of-a-second “cessation of forward motion”? Well, now they’re all legal, so there is no question about whether a stop was a “real” stop, only whether the right person yielded. This should be easy.
The number of people misrepresenting the meaning of the law in the comments should be equally as concerning as perceived misunderstanding of it by legislators. Right of way should not be ambiguous and this introduces interpretation into the equation. There are enough unnecessary “go, no you go” situations out there already caused by either ambiguity or by people who simply think they need to “fix” the situation by ignoring pre-existing right of way. Unsigned intersections are one of my main pet peeves. Anyway, if this law is giving some people the impression, as it seems to be, that all bets are off (see comments above about newly installed stop signs now being irrelevant) then that is a problem and perhaps even validates some legislator’s concerns. There is always some difference between the theory of something and the actual implementation of it. To be strait-forward about it: some jackasses out there are going to use this to justify acting stupid and get killed but hey, they’ll have preserved their momentum when it happens so yay.
Jonathan, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Governor have to sign the bill before it becomes law?
yes she does. i could have been more careful but sources say her signing of the bill is a foregone conclusion so I’m taking the risk that it’s a done deal. would be very surprised if it doesn’t get signed.
Do we need to be writing the governor asking her to sign the bill or is this lag time between passage and signature normal?
What’s taking so long for the signature from the governor ?
I believe that in a few days if the bill is not signed or vetoed by Brown it automatically becomes law.
It’s fascinating that the bill has not been signed (as far as I can tell all other passed bills have been signed.)
I’ve been a bit curious about this too. Have asked Prozanski’s office about the signing. They say no reason for concern. I can see why it wouldn’t be a priority for Brown.
Is this now a law going into effect on Jan. 1, 2020?
According to the Legislature’s web site, the Governor has 30 days to consider it, and it can become law without the Governor’s signature. The bill measure history shows the last legislative action was on June 29th. It’s now 32 days past June 29th.
“The enrolled bill is then sent to the Governor who has five days to take action. If the Legislative Assembly is adjourned, the Governor has 30 days to consider it. If the Governor chooses to sign the bill, it will become law on January 1 of the year after the passage of the act or on the prescribed effective date. In 1999, the Legislative Assembly adopted ORS 171.022, which reads, “Except as otherwise provided in the Act, an Act of the Legislative Assembly takes effect on January 1 of the year after passage of the Act.” The Governor may allow a bill to become law without his/her signature, or the Governor may decide to veto the bill. The Governor’s veto may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses.”
Based on this Oregonian article they seem to be under the impression that they have till August 9th to veto any unsigned bills.
I believe the 30 days does not include weekends, hence August 9th.
I finally found the official language in the Oregon Constitution, Article V, Section 15b(3).
As Bjorn noted, Saturdays and Sundays not counted.
Great to see that common sense can win out! Eventually!
Ladd Circle comes to mind… Big win
I visit my son in Australia annually and cycle avidly. Australia has no stop signs! When I approach an intersection I’m confronted with a “Give Way” sign. Ah, and then there are the roundabouts. Lovely!
Question here as a driver of a car. Does this new law now mean that if I come to a complete stop at a stop sign and a bicyclist is approaching a stop sign but has not yet reached said stop sin, that I have to remain stopped so the bicyclist can ride through intersection without stopping?
No. Nothing changes to the operations of the intersection when another vehicle user is present. If you are at the intersection in your car, the bicycle rider would have to come to a complete stop and everything is like normal.
NO. Drive your car as you legally would. It is the cyclist’s responsibility to yield right-of-way if required. To be honest, it used to annoy me when cars would do just what you are describing. I know they think they are being courteous (yes, thank you), BUT it encourages cyclists it push the limits of the law. If you both approach at the same time, and as the driver you decide to relinquish right-of-way and wave the cyclist through, “thanks!”, but there is no obligation for you do treat the cyclist as other than another motorist. These laws fall entirely on the shoulders of the cyclists to maintain their own safety on the road.
I just moved to Bend from Boise and WOW, did your folks in Salem screw this up, or what?
Idaho Code 49-720, in just a few hundred words, lays it all out explicitly. All this noise just so cyclists can proceed through a stop sign? Ridiculous.
Idaho made it soooo simple, if you are on a bicycle, e-bike or other human-powered vehicle;
Stop Sign = Yield Sign
Stop Light= Stop Sign
It is entirely up to the cyclist to be safe and yield to traffic.
Seriously, how difficult is that?