Oregon Lawmaker Wants to Outlaw Cycling With Young Children

We’d all like to see more legislators take up the cause of cycling safety. Too often however, when the subject of cycling comes up, it’s not the result of calls for common sense reforms that could make cyclists feel safer, such as anti-harassment ordinances and three-foot passing requirements. Instead, many lawmakers seem intent on introducing silly restrictions like the bike registration bill that recently surfaced in New Jersey, or this example from Oregon…

Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) has introduced a bill in the Oregon statehouse that would make it illegal to carry a child six or younger on a bike or bike trailer. The lawmaker says he is motivated by an Oregon Health Sciences University study which found that a significant percentage of bike commuters experienced some type of traumatic injury during the course of a year.

Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland interviewed Greenlick about his proposal, which he says was prompted by his desire “to discuss the issue and start a debate.” Maus writes:

An Oregon lawmaker has zeroed in on this threat: parents cycling with young children. Photo: ##http://bikeportland.org/2011/01/12/rep-greenlick-says-safety-concerns-prompted-child-biking-bill-45890?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BikePortland+(BikePortland.org)## Bike Portland##

Rep. Greenlick has decided that the way to open a debate on an issue is to propose a new law. We have seen this repeatedly backfire in Oregon. In July of 2008, Senator Floyd Prozanski — out of a concern for safety after a friend of his was hit and killed while bicycling — planned a mandatory, all-ages helmet law. After hearing a lot negative feedback about that idea, he wisely pulled the idea out of consideration. In March 2009, Representative Wayne Krieger proposed a mandatory bicycle registration bill. After hundreds of upset emails and phone calls came into his office, the bill ended up dying in committee.

Greenlick has certainly started a debate. Many people have emailed and called his office with their concern that his bill isn’t necessary and that it would be a major step backwards in Oregon’s quest to be the most bike-friendly state in the U.S. Greenlick maintains that he is simply trying to start a discussion. To back up his hunch about safety, he says his office is already looking into studies that might support the idea of the bill. They haven’t found any yet.

When asked if it might be wiser to find such evidence and then introduce a bill, he said, “Because this is just how the process works.” Greenlick acknowledged that he’s heard a lot of feedback from Oregonians concerned about the bill. “Everybody should just stay calm,” he urged, “this is part of a deliberative process.”

It might also be worthwhile for Greenlick’s staff to look into safety issues with the likely alternative to cycling — driving — and allow parents to make their own assessment when it comes to their children’s safety.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition carries a collection of essays by children on the factors that prevent them from walking and biking. And Bike San Diego shares a video of a Parkinson’s Disease patient who bikes — an activity that’s been shown to delay the effects of the disease.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

One Man’s Push to Require Bike Licenses in Oregon

|
Strange news out of Oregon: Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland is reporting on one local businessman’s effort to require additional licensing for cyclists — something that could have a real dampening effect on “America’s Bike Capital.” Maus recently spoke with the the lead proponent of licensing requirement: Buoyed by support from across the state, Portlander […]

Is 2010 the Year for Federal Bike Aid? The Answer: A Big ‘Maybe’

|
This week’s National Bike Summit culminated in an ambitious new campaign to recruit a million bike advocates and the unveiling of a new Google Maps bike feature. But in a Wednesday session dedicated to the outlook for federal bike investments, cycling advocates hesitated to declare that they could secure new commitments from Washington. Rep. Earl […]

Is It Time to Outlaw Car Radios?

|
Another day, another questionable proposal to enhance cyclist “safety.” Last week brought news that a New York City councilman has proposed legislation requiring licensure for cyclists. Then there was the proposal to ban cycling with child passengers in Oregon and another licensure call in New Jersey — both thankfully dismissed. Now a new bill has […]