Studded tire ban fails to make ballot; effort turns to legislature

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Jeff Bernards will not quit.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A major grassroots effort aimed at getting a statewide ban on studded tires is down but not out.

Jeff Bernards, the man behind the Preserving Oregon Roads campaign, posted a thank-you message on his website yesterday announcing the news: “… we were unable to raise the necessary funds needed to hire paid signature gathers. As a result we won’t make the ballot this November.”

Bernards believes the millions of dollars in road damage studded tires cause in Oregon each year should be put to other uses. He and his volunteers created a large groundswell of momentum for the cause; but in the end it came down to cold, hard cash. As we shared back in February, he needed to find a sponsor willing to part with about $200,000 to bring the campaign over the finish line. That sponsor never materialized.

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Effort to ban studded tires moves forward: Signature gathering to start soon

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Jeff Bernards

Portlander Jeff Bernards, a well-known citizen activist who started the “Get Lit” free bike light program and who won a BTA Alice Award in 2006, has made major progress since we last checked in on his effort to ban studded tires in Oregon.

Bernards is chief petitioner on a forthcoming ballot measure and is the force behind the “Preserving Oregon Roads” campaign. Bernards told us this morning that he has filed with the Oregon Secretary of State and he expects to begin the initial signature-gathering process in the next few weeks. By mid-March, he and his team expect to begin the long road toward gathering the 80,000 signatures he’ll need to get a measure on the November 2012 ballot.

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Citizen activist moves forward on push to ban studded tires

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Jeff Bernards is getting tough
on studded tires.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Remember Jeff Bernards? He’s the citizen activist I wrote about in early March who wants to push the state legislature to finally do something to curtail the use of studded tires. Since that story published, Bernards has been busy.

After many years of writing letters to the editor and testifying about the issue at City Council, Bernards is finally going to do something about it. Why? Studded tires do about $50-60 million in damage to Oregon roads each year (and ODOT spends about $11 million on repairs because of them — money that could be spent on other things).

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What do studded tires have to do with bike funding?

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Road damage-1

Studded tires cause $50-60 million
in road damage across the state
each year — like these ruts on
N. Rosa Parks Way in Portland.
(Photo © J. Maus)

With a lack of funding for transportation projects such a major issue in this town, it’s not surprising that some activists are taking a serious look at studded tires. Why? According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, studded tires cause an estimated $50-60 million a year in road damage and ODOT spends $11 million a year fixing it.

Citizen activist Jeff Bernards has been trying to raise awareness of this issue for five years and says, despite contacting Governor Kulongoski’s office and PBOT and ODOT officials, he’s gotten “nowhere.” Now, Bernards wants to pursue a ballot initiative to ban studded tires. He explained his interest in this issue in a recent email:

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BTA, Police Bureau launch latest incarnation of bike light education program

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
riding along with Officer Hoesly

A Portland police officer gives
out a free set of bike lights
back in August 2006.
(Photos J. Maus)

As part of their ongoing Eye to Eye campaign, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and the Traffic Division of the Portland Police Bureau have partnered up on an effort to increase awareness of using bike lights and being more visible while riding. Their efforts build on a history of bike light advocacy here in Portland that started over three years ago.

According to a press release issued this morning, the BTA will kick off the project tomorrow with an event at the “Seven Corners” intersection (SE Division, SE Ladd, and SE 20th). They’ll be serving “mocktails” (non-alcoholic beverages) and giving cyclists information about lights and visibility.

That event will be followed by a series of “targeted bike light education and enforcement actions” by the Police Bureau. The actions are slated to begin next week and the plan is for police officers to educate non-lit cyclists about light laws, pass out safety information, and install free lights (thanks to an ODOT grant) when necessary.

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