2009 legislative session

No Idaho Stops in Oregon: Bill fails to win necessary support

Avatar by on April 20th, 2009 at 2:12 pm

“…they [legislators] had heard from a number of constituents who were very concerned and opposed to giving cyclists what they viewed as special rights.”
–Doug Parrow, Chair of the BTA’s Legislative Committee

An effort to pass the “Idaho Stop Law” in Oregon has officially ceased all forward motion.

I confirmed this morning from Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) legislative committee chair Doug Parrow that they were not able to convince a key legislator to schedule a work session on HB 2690. As a consequence, the BTA will move onto other bills and shelve the Idaho Stop idea for now.[Read more…]

Oregon bike/ped committee urges state to ban cell phones while driving and bicycling

Avatar by on April 17th, 2009 at 9:50 am

“We as a society need to address and reinforce that driving and bicycling requires full concentration on the road, unfettered awareness of roadway conditions and instant attention to non-motorized roadway users.”
–Jerry Norquist, in a letter to ODOT

The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (OBPAC) has sent a formal letter to the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC, a Governor-appointed body that advises the Oregon Department of Transportation) urging them to step up their efforts to educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving and to support a ban on the use of cell phones while driving and bicycling.

In the letter, dated March 16 and signed by committee Chair Jerry Norquist, the OBPAC “urges” the ODOT to support the agenda of the National Safety Council, a group calling for governors and legislators in all 50 states to ban cell phone use while driving. The OBPAC also wants ODOT to add information about the dangers of distracted driving to the DMV manual for both commercial and non-commercial road users.[Read more…]

Time running out on BTA’s effort to pass Idaho Stop Law

Avatar by on April 16th, 2009 at 9:52 am

My day in Salem

Bricker on the steps
of the Capitol in 2007.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) is working feverishly to garner more support for the Idaho Stop Law (HB 2690) with legislators in Salem.

According to BTA Executive Director and lobbyist Scott Bricker, the Chair of the House Transportation Committee has given him a significant hurdle — line up 31 “yes” votes from House members (the number it would need to pass) or the bill will die in committee.

Committee Chair Terry Beyer (D-Springfield) holds the future of the bill in her hands because she is the only one who can schedule the all-important work session the bill needs in order to be voted on by the committee and then forwarded to the full House. The deadline for her to schedule that work session is tomorrow. [Read more…]

Bricker returns to lobbying role at Vehicular Homicide hearing

Avatar by on April 6th, 2009 at 10:07 am

Tim O’Donnell’s widow, Mary O’Donnell,
had these buttons made for the hearing.

Last Friday, just two days after he relieved former BTA lobbyist Karl Rohde from his duties, executive director Scott Bricker was down in Salem filling his former role as the organization’s chief lobbyist.

Bricker presented the BTA’s position on their proposed Vehicular Homicide Law (HB 3399) to the House Judiciary Committee. (Today, he’ll return to Salem to testify on behalf of a bill that would create a new pot of funding specifically for non-motorized transportation projects. More on that later.)[Read more…]

Why the City of Eugene opposes the Idaho Stop law

Avatar by on March 23rd, 2009 at 11:23 am

The letter from Eugene’s
bike program coordinator in
opposition to the Idaho Stop bill.
(Download PDF)

Last week, when the Idaho Stop Law bill — which would allow bikes to treat stop signs as yields (adopting a law similar to one already on the books in Idaho) — was in its first hearing down in Salem, one surprise that emerged was a letter of opposition sent from the City of Eugene to the House Transportation Committee.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance‘s government affairs director Karl Rohde said he was “surprised” about Eugene’s move. Rohde told me this morning that none of the people the BTA works with in Eugene had warned him that there might be opposition to the bill.

Rohde said Eugene’s opposition to the bill also came as a surprise to BTA board member and Eugene resident Paul Adkins (Adkins is also president of Eugene’s local bike advovacy group, the Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARs)).
[Read more…]

Idaho Stop rolls on: Committee work session scheduled, vote likely

Avatar by on March 20th, 2009 at 10:32 am

[Update, 10:50am: According to a comment from Karl Rohde of the BTA, the work session has been delayed for a few weeks.]

A day in Salem-2

The BTA’s Karl Rohde, seen here
on the steps of the capitol
earlier this week.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The House Transportation Committee has scheduled a work session for the Idaho Stop law proposal (HB 2690).

The work session will take place this Wednesday (3/25) and the BTA’s government affairs director and lobbyist Karl Rohde says it’s very likely a vote will also take place.

I spoke with Rohde about the news this morning. Just yesterday, he expressed major concerns that biased and inaccurate media coverage of the bill was jeopardizing its chances.

Rohde said that scheduling a work session means that committee Chair Terry Beyer feels strongly enough about the bill that she’s willing to discuss it further. Work sessions are closed to public testimony but Rohde will be on hand to answer any questions that might arise from committee members. [Read more…]

Local media releases hounds on Idaho Stop law

Avatar by on March 18th, 2009 at 7:25 am

“And you’re scratching your head wondering when was the last time you saw one actually stop.”
— Harry Esteve, The Oregonian

It’s the BTA’s worst nightmare.

They’ve spent months preparing for the smooth passage of the Idaho Stop Law (the proposed bill, HB 2690, would allow bicycle operators to enter a stop-sign controlled intersection without stopping when safe, and once they’ve yielded to all other traffic). Members of their legislative committee have traveled to Idaho to speak with transportation planners and law enforcement officials about the law (which has been on the books there since the 1980s without incident). The BTA’s legislative team has also spent countless hours working the Salem offices of our state legislators answering their questions and clearing up their confusions about the proposed law.

Then, in one fell swoop, the largest media outlet in the entire state can pen a story that pans the idea — and it’s not even on the editorial page.[Read more…]

Headed to Salem for stimulus funding, Idaho stops, and more

Avatar by on March 17th, 2009 at 3:25 pm

My day in Salem

Through those doors, the
laws are made.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Tomorrow I’ll make my first trip down to Salem this session — and what a full day it’s shaping up to be.

My day will start with a meeting of the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC). The OTC is the five-person, governor-appointed cabinet that sets transportation policy for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). (I introduced you to them a few weeks ago).

At their meeting tomorrow, the OTC will dole out $102 million for transportation projects — their second installment of stimulus funds. Their first phase of stimulus funding decisions (made earlier this month) included only one bike project and did not include any transit funding.[Read more…]

Mandatory bike registration bill introduced in Salem (updated)

Avatar by on March 6th, 2009 at 10:45 am

Rep. Wayne Krieger
is one of the bill’s sponsors.

Four members of Oregon’s House of Representatives have put forward a new bill that would require all bicycles in Oregon to be registered.

House Bill 3008 would establish a “bicycle registration and licensing system.” The bill would also create new offenses for altering bicycle serial numbers or licenses and for failure to register your bicycle.

In addition, the bill states that, “bicycle ownership information” would be made available to law enforcement agencies and that registration, renewal and other fees would go into a Bicycle Transportation Improvement Fund that would then be used to fund “bicycle related transportation improvement projects”.[Read more…]

Weight-based traffic fine idea will have to wait

Avatar by on February 25th, 2009 at 1:32 pm

riding along with Officer Hoesly

She would have gotten a lower
traffic fine had Bailey’s bill
moved forward.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Last week we reported on State Representative Jules Bailey‘s proposed bill to create a new vehicle weight class that would include bicycles and to base traffic fine amounts on the weight class of offenders’ vehicles.

If passed, the law would have meant a dramatic decrease in the amount of fines for most traffic violations by people on bicycles. However, it now looks like that bill is going to have to wait until another legislative session.

In an email to me earlier this week, Bailey wrote that the draft of the bill that came out of the Legislative Counsel (LC, where all bill proposal are written up and become real bills), “simply allowed juries to make judgments about lowering fines for bicycles. This is not at all what I intended. It [the bill he got back from LC] has nothing about vehicle weight.”
[Read more…]