Oregon lawmakers try (again) to raise speed limits

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SW Portland bikeways-3

It might get faster down there.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

Despite a clear connection between speed and fatal and serious injury crashes, ten Oregon lawmakers are sponsoring a bill that would raise our state’s freeway speed limit to 75 miles per hour.

According to the text of House Bill 3094, it would increase the speed limit from 65 to 75 miles per hour on interstate highways (only for cars, large trucks and buses will stay at their current max of 55 mph). The bill also establishes a maximum speed limit of 65 miles per hour on state highways and limits the Department of Transportation’s authority to decrease freeway speed limits, except in work zones.

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Oregon House Rep gives up on mandatory reflective clothing bill

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Rep. John Davis.

Oregon House Representative John Davis has changed his mind about how best to improve the safety of bicycling.

Davis made headlines around the state last month when he introduced H.B. 3255, a bill that would require all Oregonians who ride a bicycle at night to wear refelctive clothing. Davis’ clothing mandate garnered considerable media attention and resulted in an “action alert” from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance who urged their members to help stop the bill.

A hearing for the bill was scheduled for March 30th in Salem.

Now he says he’s changing course and the bill will no longer include any language about reflective clothing.

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Reflective clothing mandate, other bike bills up for hearing in Oregon house – UPDATED

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One bill would ban nighttime biking
without reflective clothing.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

UPDATE: Davis’ office says the reflective clothing idea will not move forward. See our update here.

Oregon’s biggest legislative session for bike-related issues in years will come to its first peak on Monday, but many biking advocates have a prior engagement.

Awkwardly, five separate bills that could make big differences for biking will get hearings in Salem on the same day that dozens of Oregon biking leaders and professionals are scheduled to gather in Portland for the annual Oregon Active Transportation Summit.

The bills to be tackled include HB 3255, which would ban nighttime bike use for people not wearing reflective clothing; SB 533 A, which would permit someone on a bike or motorcycle to proceed through an unresponsive red light after a full cycle; HB 2621, which would let Portland issue speeding tickets on its high-crash corridors using unmanned photo radar; HB 3035, which allows school-zone warning lights to flash all day, rather than just at the start and end, for schools whose campuses straddle 45 mph+ streets; and SJR 16, which would refer a bill to the voters in 2016 that would allow car-related taxes and fees to be spent on off-road transportation projects.

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Bill moving through Salem could hasten transfer of state roads to city control

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jurisdictional transfer map

Portland-area streets described by ODOT as “highways to be transferred to local jurisdictions” are marked in pink. The blue line, Cornelius Pass Road, is a request from ODOT for a transfer in the other direction.
(Image: ODOT testimony on SB 117.)

Barbur Boulevard, Powell Boulevard, Tualatin Valley Highway, Lombard Street, 82nd Avenue and Macadam Avenue could all be lined up for gradual transfer from state to city control under a bill before Oregon’s legislature.

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Oregon bill would make stolen bike location info probable cause for search warrant

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Senator Chris Edwards.

Eugene area State Senator Chris Edwards wants to make it easier to go after after bike thieves. His Senate Bill 861 would require a judge to include “electronic location information” of a stolen bicycle to be considered probable cause when issuing a search warrant.

The bill would add the following language to existing Oregon Revised Statute 133.155:

(5)(a) A judge shall consider electronic location information, indicating that a bicycle reported as stolen is located in the place to be searched as described in the warrant affidavit, as probable cause that the place to be searched contains evidence concerning the commission of a criminal offense.

(b) As used in this subsection, “electronic location information” means location infor- mation obtained from an electronic location tracking device.

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Bill in legislature would legalize safe crossings against unresponsive red lights

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stuck on red

Many Portland bike users don’t realize how to use
detector loops like the one at NE Tillamook and
MLK Boulevard.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Though a bill as seemingly uncontroversial as state Senate Bill 533 isn’t the sort of thing we’d usually bother covering, some coverage today that originated in The Oregonian certainly has people talking.

As the O correctly explains in the seventh paragraph of the web version of its front-page story, SB 533 would make it legal to “proceed with caution” through a red light that is trying, but failing, to detect one’s bicycle or motorcycle. This would only be allowed after someone has waited through a full cycle.

Here’s how Oregonian reporter and columnist Joseph Rose and his editors chose to explain this bill:

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State’s anti-speeding photo radar bill flips ‘scofflaw’ narrative

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Just another day on SW Barbur Boulevard, one of 10 streets that could be fitted with radar cameras under a proposed state law.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

When it comes to the rules of the road, there are a few facts of life — or, as sociologists might call them, social norms.

When people are in cars, they tend to drive over the speed limit if they feel it’s safe to do so and they can get away with it.

When people are on bikes, they tend to roll through stop signs if they feel it’s safe to do so and they can get away with it.

When people are on foot, they tend to cross the street whenever they feel it’s safe to do so and they can get away with it.

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Bill in Salem would let safety cameras nab speeders on high-crash streets

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high crash corridors

The City of Portland’s 10 high-crash corridors: Barbur, Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Burnside, Sandy, Marine, 82nd, 122nd, Powell, Foster and Division.
(Image: City of Portland)

Portland’s 10 high-crash corridors would be dotted with radar cameras that automatically detect excessive speeding, under a proposed law due for its first public hearing on Monday.

House Bill 2621 would apply only to the City of Portland, and only on streets with crash rates more than 25 percent higher than other streets with the same speed limit.

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Oregon Senate bill would mandate bicycle licenses and registration – UPDATED

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“Imposes license fee in amount sufficient to pay administrative costs, as determined by Department of Transportation. Creates offense of failure to register bicycle. Punishes by maximum fine of $250.”
— From summary of Senate Bill 177

(UPDATE, 9:05 am 1/27: Scroll down for a comment from the Salem, Oregon resident who requested this bill.)

Here we go again…

An Oregon legislator has introduced a bill that would mandate licenses for everyone over 18 years of age who rides a bicycle and would require them to pay a $10 fee to register their bikes. The bill would also prohibit the use of “state highway fund” dollars on “bicycle” projects and repeal ORS 366.154 (a.k.a. the “bike bill”).

Senate Bill 177 has been introduced by Senator Brian Boquist (R-12) “at the request of” a constituent. That “at the request of” part is important because it appears the bill is what’s known as a “constituent bill”. In other words, this isn’t a bill the senator himself is pushing for — he has merely accepted it and moved it along into a committee to appease a vocal constituent. In this case, the constituent is a man named Ted Campbell.

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Democratic Senate victories set the stage for a 2015 transportation bill

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A day in Salem-6

In the balance.
(Photo:J.Maus/BikePortland)

This post has been updated after the release of results.

The key question in the Oregon legislature tonight wasn’t whether the most powerful woman in the state Senate would be reelected. Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) was — she wasn’t even opposed by a Republican.

The question was whether Johnson would still wake up tomorrow as the most powerful woman in the Senate.

It’s looking as though she won’t.

Johnson’s power has come from her brains (they’re sharp) and from the fact that she’s the body’s most conservative Democrat by a country mile. The Columbia County legislator has been the swing vote on many issues, transportation and otherwise, for years.

But with Democrats victorious in at least two of six potentially close Senate races, it looks as if they’ll have at least 17 votes to Republicans’ 13 — enough to proceed with or without Johnson’s approval. This could make the difference on transportation-related issues like a gas tax hike (which we’re told is likely to be a major focus of the 2015 legislature) and inclusionary zoning (which would let cities build income diversity requirements into their zoning code).

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