The BTA strongly supports bicycling as a family mobility option. Like Representative Greenlick, we believe lawmakers and Oregonians must protect the safety of our children. We must focus on improving safety of the whole street environment through strategies such as speed reduction and better bicycle infrastructure, and looking at safety standards to ensure families have access to the proper equipment to carry their children in a bike seat or trailer. The long term health and community benefits of encouraging active transportation among families and young children greatly outweigh the safety risks.
Regarding HB 2228, the apparent effort to ban children under the age of six from riding bikes and riding in bike trailers, here is the BTA’s plan for ensuring that the concept never becomes law.
First, let’s give Representative Greenlick the benefit of the doubt. On quick count of the legislative website providing bill history, he has introduced or co-sponsored 42 bills, including HB 2251, a bill that would prohibit ODOT from spending another dollar towards planning or construction of the proposed Columbia River Crossing. Rep. Greenlick may or may not invest time and energy in passing all of these bills that carry his name, and until we hear a definitive answer from his office regarding his intentions, the BTA will wait to formulate an advocacy position.
Second, the BTA has a process for tracking and evaluating every bill that affects our interests. Our staff and volunteers work together to understand and respond accordingly as things like this come up. We consider both the policy impacts and the political realities driving a particular bill. After careful but quick consideration we move forward with a strategy to communicate with key legislators and constituents. In our response, we calculate the impact of our advocacy on our relationships with legislators (affecting their support for our proactive priorities) and the value our voice can add to the debate around a particular measure.
Third, let’s learn from this exercise. Thousands of bills are introduced in each of Oregon’s legislative sessions. Some are great, some are terrible, and most don’t ever make it out of committee. People who ride bikes and are concerned about safety on the roadway and want to increase funding for safe and accessible bike facilities are right to pay close attention. We can be a strong voice in crafting public policy; the key is to focus and be effective.
Finally, we need you to stay vigilant. We can’t do this work without you. Time and time again in the coming months we will send out advocacy alerts and invitations to write letters and attend key hearings, rallies, and meetings with legislators. Please heed the call. Your participation is key to advancing our shared agenda.
On that note, save the dates for March 29 and 30 and plan to attend the upcoming Oregon Active Transportation Summit in Salem. We look forward to two days of learning about policy goals, funding efforts, and lobbying legislators. Hope to see you there.