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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Idaho Stop Sign Law Dead: No "Special Rights."

Posted by Matt Davis on Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 11:34 AM

The proposed Idaho Stop Sign law has died a death in Salem, having failed to win adequate support from legislators in the House of Representatives.

The proposed law, which would allow bicyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs, got a contentious hearing in the house transportation committee back in March and went back for some amendments [“Stop, Collaborate & Listen,” News, March 26].

But Doug Parrow, legislative committee chair for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, told Bikeportland.org yesterday that continued lack of support from lawmakers was related to concerns about giving cyclists “what they viewed as special rights,” and that the bill has effectively died.

We've got calls in to Parrow, BTA director Scott Bricker, and state rep Jules Bailey who was pushing the bill, to find out more.

Update, 11:56: Parrow adds that negative reactions by bicyclists to a proposed bicycle registration bill in March may have steeled some legislators against the stop sign idea. “In some cases bicyclists swore at lawmakers over that bill,” says Parrow. “And the reality of the situation is that some of those comments may have frustrated some of the people from whom we needed support on the stop sign bill.”

Ironically, Parrow thinks the swearing may have been wasted. "It's never appropriate," he says. "But in this case we were fairly confident that the bicycle registration bill was set to die, regardless."

See. If only you bicyclists would learn to rein in those potty mouths of yours, you might get something done in this state.

Update, 12:09:

"I do think that there were some legislators whose perceptions were negatively skewed towards bicyclists over that [bicycle registration] issue," says BTA executive director Scott Bricker. "Just through the media, word got out, and I know several legislators who had co-sponsored the bill got really negative reactions. They were anything from a typical 'don't support this' to much more of a personal attack on some of the legislators."

"When you start getting real personal—making nasty comments or using foul language, that really starts to irk the legislators," Bricker continues.

Bricker mentions a specific blog post on Bikeportland.org, an interview with Representative Wayne Krieger (R-Gold Beach) about the proposed Bike Registration bill. Krieger, a retired state police officer of 28 years service, was slammed in the comments to the post:

"Fun law. Retarded sponsor. Don't retired state patrol officers have anything better to do?" wrote one commenter. Krieger was invited by another commenter to "shut his hypocritical and lie-stricken mouth." "This Krieger man is dumber than a block of wood," wrote another commenter. "His goofy ideas about legislation should be met with ridicule rather than polite questioning." "OMG, what a douchebag," wrote another commenter. "Every single one of his talking points is utter squablewalish." "What a mouthful of bullshit it was for him to say bikes are a great form of transportation when he so clearly wants them off the road," wrote someone else. "I think Krieger's just smoked a little too much of that crack stuff and his brain's been addled," wrote a late responder.

"There's an aspect to this which is staying within the blog," says Bricker. "But there's another aspect that when legislators are getting attacked by many of these folks who aren't even in their district, it's an extra rub."

Krieger's wife and legislative assistant, Colleen Krieger, tells the Mercury she thinks the negative reaction to her husband's registration bill among the bicycling community may have actually garnered support for it. "I've actually heard people say 'I wasn't interested in this, but when I started hearing the nonsense and the threats,' they said maybe we need to look at these people," she says. "They put out a lot of misinformation about the bill."

We've got a call in to Bikeportland.org editor Jonathan Maus to get his take on this angle.

Update, 1:24:

"It's pretty amazing. I think anyone who says negative comments about the bicycle registration bill had an impact on the Idaho stop sign law, that's a mis-perception," says Maus. "That looks to me, kind of like scapegoating."

"Bikeportland is just a vessel for how people feel about things," Maus continues. "Things said about bicyclists by representative Krieger and his wife were equally negative, but they were just said in a politically acceptable way. To say that folks shouldn't then voice their opinions about them is just disingenuous."

"I take a lot of things into account when I'm looking at comments," Maus says.

Update, 5:21

House Representative Jules Bailey, (D-Portland), who brought the bill forward in the house, says it has not been his experience that the bill failed because of citizen opposition to the bike registration bill.

"I felt like we had some pretty good momentum on this," says Bailey. "But there was a change in staffing at the BTA, and there was a little bit of a disconnect on this during that period, when resistance to the idea really solidified."

Bailey seems to be referring to the departure of former BTA lobbyist Karl Rohde from the organization earlier in April.

"[Rohde] was really working it hard in a way that legislators don't really have the time to do," Bailey continues. "There was enough of a lag that we decided to let it go and try again next session."

"I think it just may take more time to get people comfortable with the idea," he says.

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