Alice Awards in June, vehicular homicide, and other updates from BTA Board Chair

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Oregon Bike Summit Day 1-24

BTA legislative committee
chair Doug Parrow.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The BTA’s Board Chair Mary Roberts sent out a letter via email today with updates on “major initiatives” they’re working on.

Here are a few bits from the letter that caught my eye:

Preparing for the 2011 Legislative Session
The legislature will be making critical decisions about transportation and bicycling in 2011. The BTA will present a legislative package, including a vehicular homicide law, to make Oregon safer and more convenient for bicyclists.

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Oregon House, Senate Committees will hold hearing on Vehicular Homicide

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Next week at the Capitol Building in Salem, the Senate and House Interim Judiciary Committees will hold a joint hearing. Part of the informational meeting will include “invited testimony” on the concept of Vehicular Homicide.

Invited to be at the hearing are Bicycle Transportation Alliance board member Doug Parrow will be there, as will Portland lawyer Ray Thomas. Thomas tells us he plans to bring several of his former clients who have lost loved ones in traffic crashes to testify.

The Oregon Legislature meets for full sessions only every other year, with the off years (of which 2010 is one) only for emergency or high-priority actions. While the meeting is meant as an informational session, Thomas says he’s hopeful that something more substantial will come out of it.

The City of Portland and BTA have worked for years to pass a strong vehicular homicide law but Oregon has yet to pass one. As far back as 2006, traffic safety staffers at PBOT have considered potential options for such a law. In the 2007 legislative session, in the wake of a crash that killed Tim O’Donnell while he rode on a rural road in Washington County, the BTA introduced a vehicular homicide bill.

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Vehicular Homicide bill dies in committee

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Vehicular homicide law press conference-2.jpg

Mary O’Donnell, shown here
at a press conference for
the bill last June, lost her husband
due to a careless driver.
(Photos © J. Maus)

At a work session of the House Judiciary Committee in Salem today, the BTA’s Vehicular Homicide Bill (HB 3399) was withdrawn from the agenda, thereby terminating its chances to become law this session.

According to BTA Legislative Committee Chair Doug Parrow, the bill was pulled because it has a fiscal impact (not good when the the state is facing a $4 billion budget gap) and there were “complications with the legal approach”.

House Judiciary Committee Chair, Rep. Jeff Barker (D-Aloha), made the decision, but not without first acknowledging the work of the BTA and Mary O’Donnell.

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Down to the wire for vehicular homicide, funding bills

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A day in Salem-18

Inside the House Transportation Committee.
(Photos © J. Maus)

As the clock ticks in Salem on the 2009 legislative session, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and other bike advocates are making last ditch efforts to make Oregon’s laws more friendly to bikes.

Today in Salem, work sessions (different from public hearings in that no testimony is heard) will be held for a bill that could increase funding for bike projects and a bill that would get tougher on people whose dangerous and/or illegal behavior results in the death of another person.

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BTA: Vehicular homicide bill is “alive and kicking”

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Scott Bricker speaking at the
Oregon Bike Summit today.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Speaking at the opening session of the Oregon Bike Summit today, Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) Executive Director Scott Bricker gave a rundown of their existing priority bills in the 2009 legislative session.

With the door officially closed on Idaho Stops (interesting report about it on the Mercury blog today) and with news today that their Driver’s Education bill (HB 3252) will not move forward this session, the BTA is pouring all remaining efforts into their vehicular homicide bill, HB 3399.

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Bricker returns to lobbying role at Vehicular Homicide hearing

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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.)

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Oregon ranks fourth in new Bike Friendly State rankings

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ORegon Bicycle Summit

A dream deferred.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Oregon placed fourth in a new ranking of Bike Friendly States that was released tonight by the League of American Bicyclists.

Washington took top honors, followed by Wisconsin and then Arizona. At the bottom of the list were Alabama and Georgia, with West Virginia coming in last.

Yesterday, I sat down with the League’s executive director Andy Clarke and Bike Friendly State program manager Jeff Peel to learn more about the rankings.

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Widow pushes vehicular homicide law: “It’s what he would have wanted”

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Vehicular homicide law press conference-2.jpg

Mary O’Donnell at this morning’s
press conference.
(Photos © J. Maus)

At a press conference this morning held at a law firm in downtown Portland, Mary O’Donnell — whose husband Tim was killed while riding his bike — told reporters and news cameras that her push for a vehicular homicide law is “definitely what he would have wanted.”

Facing a packed room full of reporters and television cameras, O’Donnell seemed pensive as she marked the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death. “He said that if he did ever get hit, at least he would die doing something he loved.”

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BTA will pursue vehicular homicide law in 2009

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“Tim and I would have been married 50 years this April but I celebrated this anniversary
by myself because a dangerous driver ran him down on his bike.”
— Mary O’Donnell

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) announced yesterday that they will pursue a vehicular homicide law in the 2009 session of the Oregon State Legislature.

They plan to make a public announcement at a press conference on Monday (June 9) in the law offices of the attorneys representing the family of the late Tim O’Donnell — a 66 year-old Aloha resident who was killed while riding his bike on a rural road in Washington County last year.

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Vehicular homicide bill introduction more strategy than substance

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I was surprised last week when Senator Floyd Prozanski introduced a vehicular homicide bill (SB 1058) with just a week left in the session. Knowing how long it takes to push a bill through the system, it was obvious the bill had no chance of passing.

So what was the point? I wondered the same thing. Luckily, this site is read by some very smart people. One of them is regular commenter (and lawyer) Cecil. She had this to say about Prozanski’s strategy:

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Vehicular homicide bill introduced in Salem

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The bill was introduced at
a rally in Salem yesterday.
(Photo: Rep. Jerry Krummel)

At a rally in Salem yesterday to bring attention to bike safety bills, Representative Tobias Read and Senator Floyd Prozanski introduced Senate Bill 1058.

The bill would create the crime of vehicular homicide and make it punishable by a maximum of five years improsinment and/or a fine of up to $125,000.

According to the new bill, the crime would be a Class C Felony and it stipulates that,

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PDOT, advocates work towards tougher laws

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I Share the Road Rally

[Commissioner Adams (L) and
PDOT’s Mark Lear (R) at a
Share the Road event
last January]

Traffic safety specialists at PDOT are working with Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams, the Portland City Council, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, and the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition to beef up their legal toolkit with new laws that will make it easier to sanction motorists who are involved in fatal traffic crashes.

PDOT Traffic Investigations Manager Mark Lear said they are “currently reviewing potential options” to introduce bills similar to Washington state’s vehicular homicide laws in their legislative package for the upcoming session.

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