Here’s why I think we should change stop sign laws for bicycle users

Posted on April 22nd, 2019 at 10:32 am.

KATU’s Steve Dunn and I in an interview that aired over the weekend. Watch video below.

Bicycles and cars are vastly different types of vehicles and our laws should do more to reflect that.

That’s just one of many reasons I strongly support Senate Bill 998 currently working its way through the Oregon Legislature. The bill would allow bicycle users to treat stop signs and flashing red signals as yield signs (also known as “Idaho Stop” for a similar law on the books in Idaho for over 30 years). In other words, you’d only have to come to a complete when it was necessary due to oncoming traffic or some other safety-related condition. The law does not allow dangerous behavior and specifically requires bicycle users to slow to a “safe speed.”

As per usual, this reasonable concept causes many people to freak out. I went on local TV to try and calm some nerves and explain why I support the bill.[Read more…]

Bill that clarifies existence of bike lanes through intersections passes committee

Posted on April 16th, 2019 at 11:20 am.

The paint ends, the lanes don’t.

Despite confusion from some lawmakers that led to an unexpectedly lengthy discussion prior to the vote, House Bill 2682 passed the Joint Committee on Transportation yesterday by a tally of 7-3.

I’ve described this bill as a no-brainer; but because it involves bicycling, you just never know what some Oregon legislators will get hung up on. I was amazed at how much consternation and discussion this simple housekeeping bill received in committee yesterday.

“The attempt of this bill is to clarify longstanding practice and expectation.”
— Lindsay Baker, ODOT government relations

Let’s be clear: Since bike lanes have existed in Oregon, it has been understood — both by road users and the legal system — that they exist inside intersections even though they are not painted. Same for every other lane. Road authorities do not paint lane lines in intersections because with all the turning movements it would be a maintenance nightmare, dangerously confusing, and useless.

Out of hundreds, if not thousands, of court cases over the years, for some reason two Oregon traffic court judges — one in 2009, one in 2018 — took it upon themselves to decide that a bicycle user did not have the legal right-of-way in a collision because the lane wasn’t painted. Out of concern that these two outlier cases might start a trend, advocates proposed HB 2682. The text of the bill is short and simple. [Read more…]

Senate committee passes ‘Idaho Stop’ bill allowing bicycle riders to yield at stop signs

Posted on April 10th, 2019 at 11:07 am.

Some intersections in Oregon already allow bicycle riders to “slow-and-go”.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

10 years after it was last debated in the Oregon Legislature, a concept known as “Idaho Stop” has once again found its way into a bill. And it passed its first committee vote yesterday, just hours before a key legislative deadline.

Senate Bill 998 wasn’t on anyone’s radar before last week. Up until then it was just a vague placeholder bill without any detailed language and with no amendments. That changed when Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) drafted an amendment and brought it to the Senate Judiciary Committee during a public hearing for the bill on Monday.

The bill would allow a bicycle user to treat intersections with stop signs or red flashing signals as yields. In other words, as a bicycle user, you’d be able to roll through these intersections without stopping — but only when/if it was safe to do so.
[Read more…]

At hearing on speed limit bills, lawmaker bristles at mention of ‘traffic violence’

Posted on March 19th, 2019 at 11:32 am.

The Street Trust Advocacy Director Richa Poudyal (L) and Oregon House Rep. Caddy McKeown.

Earlier this month a pair of bills that would give cities across Oregon more authority to set speed limits on local streets got their first hearing in front of lawmakers at the state capitol in Salem.

There was no vote taken on either Senate Bill 558 or House Bill 2702 at the Joint Transportation Commitee on March 6th; but the conversation between advocates, lobbyists, agency staff, and lawmakers was notable. Especially an exchange about “traffic violence”. [Read more…]

Friday Opinion: The bills I wish we were working on this session

Posted on March 15th, 2019 at 9:52 am.

Bicycle riders should be included in Oregon’s “Move Over Law.”
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

There are plenty of important bills down in Salem this session, but as you might have noticed in the list of bills we’re tracking — and despite a supermajority for Democrats — bicycling doesn’t seem like much a priority. (Not that bicycling is a partisan issue, but in general Democrats tend to be more receptive to it than Republicans.)

When arguably the biggest bike bill in the mix is one that merely clarifies an existing law that bike lanes don’t disappear in intersections, you know it’s another down year for cycling in Salem.

I can think of several reasons why the issue has lost urgency with lawmakers; but instead of lamenting the state of cycling in our politics, I want to share a few legal ideas I wish we were working on.
[Read more…]

Oregon Congressman Blumenauer seeks to re-instate bike commuter tax break

Posted on March 5th, 2019 at 1:26 pm.

Which one should we incentivize?
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Hoping to incentivize cycling in America, Oregon Congressman (and former Portland City Commissioner) Earl Blumenauer has introduced the Bicycle Commuter Act of 2019.[Read more…]

Scooter company reps scolded by Oregon legislators over helmet law proposal

Posted on February 20th, 2019 at 1:43 pm.

Matthew Kopko with Bird Rides (L), and Jonathan Hopkins from Lime.

Senators Lew Frederick (L) and Cliff Bentz.

What was expected to be just another ho-hum hearing on one of thousands of bills working their way through Oregon’s 2019 legislative session, turned out to be anything but.
[Read more…]

Here are the bills we’re tracking this legislative session

Posted on February 20th, 2019 at 7:51 am.

Capitol building in Salem.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

(NOTE: We are updating this list throughout the session. Please refresh to see latest version.)

We’re about one month into Oregon’s 80th legislative session. And while no blockbuster bike-related bills have emerged yet, there are still a number of things we’re keeping our eyes on.

Here’s our list and a few notes about all the bills we’re tracking this session…

Senate Bills

SB 7 – Lower BAC Level – Overview
Senate President Peter Courtney wants to lower the legal level of alcohol a person can have in their blood while operating a vehicle. Currently at .08 percent, this bill would make it .05 percent. I interviewed Senator Courtney about this bill back in December. Status: Referred to Judiciary Committee.
[Read more…]

Friday Profile: Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba leads with cycling and climate change

Posted on February 8th, 2019 at 8:54 am.

Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba headed to a meeting.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Surprisingly, the loudest political voice for bicycling in our region doesn’t come from Portland City Hall. It comes from a city hall six miles south of Portland in Milwaukie, in the office of Mayor Mark Gamba.
[Read more…]

Families for Safe Streets lobbying for TriMet crash oversight, driver education bills

Posted on February 6th, 2019 at 11:12 am.

David Sale’s daughter was killed by a TriMet bus operator in 2010. Now he’s pushing for independent oversight of the agency.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A group of road safety activists led by family members of traffic crash victims and backed by The Street Trust has thrown their weight behind two bills this legislative session.

According to Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets, Senate Bill 746 would, “Encourage greater mutual expectations between all road users by combining the official state manuals for driving and bicycling and require drivers to retake a written test every eight years when they renew their licenses.” Senate Bill 747 would, “Close a gap in Oregon law that allows TriMet to lead investigations of crashes involving its own vehicles… a process that creates a conflict of interest and undermines efforts to improve system safety.”
[Read more…]