Passage of SBB 533 and What It Means for Local ‘Bikers’

Drivers, cyclists, motorcyclists and people who walk, take note. Senate Bill 533 was signed into law by Oregon Governor Kate Brown on May 21, 2015 with an effective date of January 1, 2016. The new law permits bicyclists and motorcyclists to proceed through a stop light under certain conditions. Statutes ORS 811.260, 811.265 and 811.360 were amended. Roadway users in and around Eugene may have seen what looked like traffic law violations since January . . . that were not.

SBB 533 is not a “stop and roll” law like in Idaho. This change does not mean bicyclists and motorcyclists in Oregon can ignore red lights, or treat them like stop signs. The law requires that a cyclist or motorcyclist stop at a red light, initially. Motorcyclists and cyclists must stop and wait through the full light cycle, before proceeding past a signal that fails to turn green. The intention of the law is to account for the case when magnetic traffic sensors in the road surface or other signal triggering systems are not working.

Motorcyclists originally approached Senator Chris Edwards of Eugene to propose legislative relief for this kind of problem; Portland’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) played a role in writing the bill. Laws allowing motorcyclists and/or bicyclists to proceed at stop lights under certain conditions are on the books in other states, including Washington and Idaho. Some other states’ laws allow for the rider to treat a red signal like a stop sign, and proceed through if the motorcyclist or bicyclist believes it’s safe. Oregon’s law only applies when a motorcycle or bicycle rider does not see their red signal turn to green, depsite other lights at the intersection changing. The new bill does hold motorcyclists and bicyclists who are proceeding through a red light liable if there’s a collision with another road user who’s legally proceeding through a green light.

Bike Detection2The rider must wait through the full light cycle after stopping, which means the rider has to be able to see lights for all directions. And the law does not address completely malfunctioning traffic signals.

The scenario is, you are waiting at a light, you can tell the oncoming traffic gets their green, the oncoming left turners get their green, the straight-through drivers heading the same way as you, to your right, as you wait over the sensor loops in the left turn lane, get their green, and the cross traffic each get their greens, and still you are waiting. Some intersection signals are actually designed so a traffic light that depends on sensors never turns green if no one is over that signal sensor. But what if that sensor doesn’t understand you are over it!?

Bike Detection

Some detectors tell you where the “sweet spot” is

The goal is to make sure motorcycle and bicycle riders don’t get stuck at intersections because their vehicles aren’t being sensed by the systems that tells red lights when to turn green. Rob Sadowsky, the BTA’s executive director, said “Our preferred best solution is for lights to get fixed,” but “replaced” might also be important to think about. A lot of the sensors are older electrically charged magnetic wire inductive loops in the pavement. Look for circle, square or diamond outlines cut in the pavement and filled with tar near intersections. Position your bike over the loop so as much metal as possible is as close to the loop as you can get it. If you have waited for your red signal to change through one full cycle of all the other lights, and it’s clear the trigger hasn’t sensed you, it is now legal for you to proceed through the intersection — with caution!

Bicyclists aren’t free riders | Opinion | The Register-Guard | Eugene, Oregon

Heck yea R-G!  A great article that says what we already know. The comments offer some great insight into the opposition as well.  Things like “bikes cause more pollution because cars have to slow down and wait for them.”  Wowzers…

Bicyclists aren’t free riders | Opinion | The Register-Guard | Eugene, Oregon.

from BikePortland.org » Appeals denied, groups now want injunction to stop Timberline MTB Park

Without opportunities for non-motorized recreation, many people will never gain an appreciation for nature that turns them into exactly the kind of environmental advocates, donors and voters that groups like the Sierra Club and Mazamas depend on.

BikePortland has a great article that y’all should read.  Bottom line, mountain bikers need a place to ride and we’ll take care of those places.  Local Eugene group Disciples of Dirt do tons of environmental trail work, and yet we are denied places to ride like the Ribbon Trail by hiker groups like The Obsidians and Friends of Hendricks Park who don’t understand the environmental benefits of mt. biking and their advocacy groups.

As a backpacker, environmentalist, and biologist (sort of), I understand why groups like Friends of Mt. Hood, Bark, Mazamas, Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, and Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club might initially be wary of a mt. bike area on Mt. Hood.  But, as a mt. unicycler and occasional mt. biker, I know those fears are exaggerated, unfounded, and uneducated.  It’s time that outdoors and environmental groups stop hating on mt. bikers . Mt. bikers like Disciples of Dirt are stewards of the environment, not crazy ruffians trampling a pristine wilderness.

Furthermore, if we don’t have a condoned place to ride, renegade riders will make their own trails and those rarely are environmentally safe.  I don’t condone this, but it happens.  Having sanctioned places to ride keeps new riders riding on trails that are maintained by groups like Disciples of Dirt, rather than making their own trails wherever they want and leaving them to erosion.

Anyway, it’s rare that internet comments are useful, but you should read the following quoted comments from the BikePortland article.  They succinctly explain why YOU should support mountain bike trails, which are currently very rare.

Continue reading “from BikePortland.org » Appeals denied, groups now want injunction to stop Timberline MTB Park”

Idaho Stop Making A Comeback?

Another UPDATE:
BikePortland has updated his post on the subject and it appears the BTA has found out that the bills text is just a placeholder that Sen. Burdick plans to swap out for different language. The future bill may have something more to do with intersections that don’t sense bikes and/or fail to turn green when a bicycle is present. We’ll see what actually pans out…

UPDATE: BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky has posted the following regarding the bill:
“As you may have heard by now, Sen. Burdick has introduced the Idaho Stop Bill as SB604. Before folks get too excited, we are trying to figure out with our lobbyist if this bill is being introduced as a serious bill or if there are other agendas behind the bill. Typically a bill like this gathers supporters before being introduced if it has an intent to pass. We are kindly asking folks to not take action at this point such as calling legislators until we find out more. We need to do a full reading of bill and analyze it. It has some steep fines in it for example. Our legislative committee will need to address this as well. We’ll do our best to keep all informed along the way. Thanks.”

Yesterday afternoon Eugene’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) received an email from Lee Shoemaker, the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, asking for feedback on a bill he had just received.  SB 604 (posted below) permits a “person operating bicycle to enter intersection with specified traffic control device without stopping, provided that person operating bicycle slows to safe speed and yields right of way to traffic or pedestrians.” We know the bill has come from Senator Burdick but we have more research to do.

The surprise return of the “Idaho Stop Bill” comes on the heels of last years bill that died an ugly death after the City of Eugene originally voiced opposition to it but quickly turned around to a neutral position after a call to action and some great advocacy effort from GEARs.

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How Letting Price Armstrong Fix Your Bike Can Save The World

What’s a title without a little hyperbole? Boring, I say!

I interned in the legislature and in Peter DeFazio’s Eugene District Office, not to mention being President of the UO Transportation and Livability group LiveMove and the Vice President of GEARs.  I have a lot of experience as an advocate, and I am hoping that the Eugene-Springfield community of bicyclists will help me put those skills to work.  – Price Armstrong

But this hyperbole is sort of accurate – if your definition of “saving the world” includes sending a well-trained  advocate to The National Bike Summit in Washington DC to represent the advocacy wing of GEARs – He’s a modern-day superhero on a mission to help save Safe Routes to School and Transportation Enhancement Funding, and to help strengthen GEARs relationships with other advocacy organizations and help take Eugene to the next level (platinum) for biking.

Who am I taking about?  GEARs Advocacy Committee Chair Price Armstrong, of course! Unfortunately, attending this conference is expensive; while Price was awarded free airfare to the conference, he still needs to raise $375 to pay for registration and other expenses.  Luckily Price is also an experienced mechanic, and is raising money by offering bike tune-ups for a suggested donation of $40.  Since we’re half-way through the winter, and I can hear most of the bikes out on the trails before I see them, I’d think many of you might want to take Price up on his offer.  Don’t put this off, Price has less than 5 weeks to raise the money, and many of your beloved rides need help long before that (this is also really cheap!).

Price has written an article for the GEARs blog explaining the GEARs Advocacy committee, which you can read here.  Please take the jump to read in Price’s own words how you can, and why you should,  send him to The National Bike Summit.

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Responses to Oregon House Bill Which Would Prohibit Biking with a Child Under Six

One of my favorite pictures from EugeneBicyclist.com - this 20-month-old seems perfectly safe to me.

I hesitate to post another story so soon after Shane posted such an important story about upcoming construction, but this story has blown up all over the interpipes tonight – and it should.   Mitch Greenlick, a Portland Democrat who represents District 33 (Northwest Portland/Forest Park), has decided that it’s in the public’s best interest to ban people from bicycling with children under 6 on their bikes or in a bike trailer.  This story first broke on BikePortland.org, and then was followed by a BikePortland.org interview with Greenlick in which  it became clear that Greenlick  has no actual evidence that this bill is needed.  Quoted from BP:  “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.'”

Predictably, the interwebs are alive with response.  I feel that BikePortland has covered the gist of the story well, so for our story I’ll report on the response.  EugeneBicyclist.com, who rides regularly with a 2 and 4-year-old wrote on his blog: “Is carrying a kid around on a bike any more unsafe than embarking on a journey up I-5 in the car with junior strapped in the back seat? Why don’t we just make it illegal to drive any kids younger than 6 in the car, too? Why don’t we just make it illegal for them to leave the house while we are at it?”

WBE Contributor, Kidical Mass Founder, and Eugene Safe Routes to School Coordinator Shane MacRhodes had a lot to say about it on the EugeneSRTS blog.  He’s already written a response to Greenlick which you can read after the jump.

After the jump is also the full response (and pictures!) sent to Greenlick by Hugh Prichard, one of the presenters in the recent Transportation Remix.

You can write Greenlick yourself (rep.mitchgreenlick@state.or.us) and your local representatives and tell them how you feel.  Please remember to keep the letters civil.  The hateful response of cyclists two years ago to the mandatory bike registration bill is partially credited for the failure of the Idaho Stop Law that same year.

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“Bicycling Mayor” Ruth Bascom to be Honored Wednesday

Ruth Bascom 1926-2010

I didn’t live in Eugene when Ruth Bascom was the first female mayor of Eugene (1993-1997), nor did I live here when she was a city councilor for eight years before she became mayor.  I wasn’t around when she inspired and was the driving force behind the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path System (named in 2003).   I wasn’t around when she helped pioneer cycling in Eugene in the 70’s and planned much of our current infrastructure.  But I do live here now, and there is rarely a day that I don’t benefit from the great work she did while she was here.  I never met her, never saw her, but I know her name because she improved my life.

Bascom passed away last Thursday from injuries sustained in an August 11th car crash near Bend.  She was 84.  The Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARs) is planning a memorial ride on Wednesday, Sept. 1st at EWEB Plaza.

From GEARs:

Wednesday’s ride is free and open to all.  The ride will start at the EWEB Plaza, 500 East 4th Avenue, and follow the riverbank path for about 10 miles.  It will be a flat, easy, slow-paced ride suitable for riders of all ages and abilities.  Bicycle helmets are required by law for all riders under 16 years of age, and are highly recommended for everyone.

The ride is sponsored by GEARs (Greater Eugene Area Riders).  For more information, contact Sue at 541-345-2110 or sue@eugenegears.org

Take the jump to learn more about Ruth Bascom.

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Updated: How Free Car Parking Could Lead to the Loss of 165* Bike Parking Spots

The affected downtown area

On August 11th, the Eugene City Council voted to make car parking downtown free, affective October 1st. The area runs from Willamette St to the east, Lincoln St to the west, Seventh Ave to the north and 11th Ave to the south.  Whether or not this was a good idea is a debate for somewhere else.  Will the possible revitalization of downtown offset the loss of $220,000 a year in parking revenue?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that when things like this went down in other cities (Chicago, Oakland, Sacremento, New York,  Toronto, etc) it sometimes led to a huge decrease in available bike parking.

Why? The removal of parking meters.  According to Jeff Petry, Eugene Parking Services Manager, the City Council has directed that left it up to city staff to decide whether the heads be removed off 288 parking meters downtown. This would make the meters inadequate for bike parking since bike locks could simply be lifted off the pole.  It would be a grave mistake to remove 288* 165 bike parking spots from an already inadequate downtown bike parking scene.

* Update: It was just brought to my attention by Petry that many of the meters are double heads on a single pole, so the actual loss in bike parking would be less than the 288. It’s actually 165 meter poles with 288 meter heads attached to them.

Eugene wouldn’t be the first city to make this mistake.  Take the jump to read about some cities that have made this mistake in the past, and how other cities have avoided it.  This issue is real and it is now, and we have only a few weeks to change the momentum of this project.

Continue reading “Updated: How Free Car Parking Could Lead to the Loss of 165* Bike Parking Spots”

City of Eugene requesting volunteers for 2010 annual bike/ped counts

We are looking for people to do weekday and Saturday counts on a sunny day in May.  Weekday AM counts are from 7 – 9 AM and PM counts from 4 – 6 PM.   Saturday counts are from 12 – 2 PM.

The City of Eugene does a bicycle and pedestrian count every year.  According to Lee Shoemaker, Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Eugene, the counts are used to measure city progress, provide input into regional transportation models, report to the public, and as evidence for the usefulness of walking and biking investments.

This is the third annual bicycle and pedestrian count, and will be a little different than the previous two years.  The city is requesting volunteers to count cyclists and pedestrians on the River and Fern Ridge paths as well as on busy streets like 12th, 15th, and Alder.  The more volunteers they have, the more locations they can count. If you wish to volunteer, you’ll want to contact them as soon as possible.

The results of the previous counts were not readily available, but will be after this year’s counting.  WeBikeEugene will publish the data as soon as we get our grease-stained hands on it.

Read on to learn more about the count and how to volunteer.

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MTB Eugene and Disciples of Dirt get the attention of the Eugene City Council

Mountain biker Daisy LaPoma holds a sign that says "I Yield to Hikers."

Members of the newly formed mountain bike advocacy group, MTB Eugene, and the Disciples of Dirt (DoD) mountain bike social and trail maintenance club attended the Eugene City Council meeting on Monday, April 26th to protest the recent closing of the Ribbon Trail to cyclists. Over 50 people met in front of the city council chambers before the meeting to plan and make pro-mountain bike trail-use signs.  The goal of the gathering was to show the city council that mountain bikers are a large constituency, and to explain to them that mountain bikers and hikers can live together in harmony on Eugene’s trails.  Even though the signs were not allowed inside the chambers, the sheer number of attendees and convincing testimony from several MTB Eugene and DoD members definitely got the attention of the city council.

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