Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New bike laws mulled in Oregon

Our next-door neighbors in Oregon - particularly Portland - are famous for accommodating and encouraging cyclists. (Although there is no reason Portland should have more cyclists than Boise. They have the same sprawl issues, and the geography and climate in Boise are more bike-friendly in Boise than in Portland, in this writer's opinion.)

The newly-convened 2011 Oregon Legislature is mulling over two bicycle bills that have been introduced.

One "would prohibit anyone from carrying a child under six years of age on their bicycle or in a bicycle trailer."

That one makes no sense. In essence, it would eliminate cycling as a transportation option for anybody who cares for a young child. I don't think I've ever seen a child over six years old riding in a bike trailer.

I s'pose proponents of the bill would argue that it would reduce the number of injuries or fatalities suffered by kids under six, while cycling. If that's the objective, shouldn't they also force kiddies out of cars?? Thousands of kids are maimed and killed in car accidents!

I hope that bill never sees the light of day.

The other would prohibit operating a bike "while wearing a listening device that is capable of receiving telephonic communication, radio broadcasts or recorded sounds."

Obviously people perceive cyclists with earbuds to be a safety menace to themselves and others.

IMO, this is an instance where cyclists shoot themselves in the foot. There is a sizeable percentage of cyclists who are NOT very responsible and law-abiding. And a sizeable percentage of that group is also wearing earbuds.

The Libertarian in me is against that law. I see it as an ever-expanding nanny government. Music-listening cyclists are mostly risking their own lives and safety (although one could argue that they put other roadways users in risky situations as well). As the government regulates more and more behavior, it leads the clueless to conclude that if it's not against the law, it must be safe. (Case in point - people who text while driving, and who won't stop unless it's made illegal. And many still won't stop; they'll just be sneakier about it.)

It seems like we're approaching the day when common sense will only be spoken of in nostalgic terms... something that existed back in Grandpa and Grandma's day.


colin said...

If I can't listen to my headphones while riding then cars shouldn't be able to have speakers. Also, for that matter deaf people shouldn't be allowed to bike or drive either.

colin said...

…that said I can hear cars even with my earbuds in and music playing. Not as well of course but about as well as when I drive a car with music playing.

Bikeboy said...

colin, your points are valid, and I support your right to decide for yourself.

However, your comparison between bike/earbuds and car/speakers only goes so far. The occupants of a car are surrounded by tons of steel and in most cases, airbags, belts and harnesses, etc. By comparison, you are kinda hangin' out there, VERY vulnerable, on a bike. The stakes are high; just remember that when deciding. (Personally I only listen to tunes when traffic is light and I have plenty of sight distance... AND a rearview mirror which I'm never without.)

I wish everybody drove as though they'd be injured, should they be in an accident. Some folks buy the biggest tank they can, anticipating the accident(s) they'll be in.

Scott said...

I used to ride with either a bluetooth headphone or one earbud in my right ear. I found it worked well. I could listen to whatever I was listening to and still hear ambient traffic noises. When I got a phone call, I found that I had to stop to talk or I got too much wind noise on the mic. I think Darwin has a habit of sorting out the two-headphone folks.

As for riding with a kid in the trailer... Guilty as charged. I often ride my 6- and 4-year olds to the softball field a mile from home in our BOB. It's over weight and totally not designed for kids, but it's safer and faster than walking and faster and more convenient than driving. Plus I'm teaching them a valuable life lesson: It doesn't take 5000lbs of steel, glass, and rubber to carry 250lbs of people down the street.

Clancy said...

Kid trailers are totally safe. I have tested the rollover capabilities of one with my kids in it. Word to the wise, don't swerve back and forth with a trailer attached.

Bob T said...

I've heard reports that most motorists are actually more careful around kids in trailers versus single adult cyclists. If true, any law like this might actually be counterproductive if the goal is safety.