In Salem, a bill on bicyclists and stop signs appears to be not quite as dead as it looked. After being stalled in the Senate since April, SB 998 managed to get a hearing in Senate Rules last week, and the committee voted 4-1 to recommend its passage on the floor.
Whether and when the floor vote takes place is unknown. As of Sunday night the legislative website showed no scheduled action. And even if the Senate passes the bill, the legislation still faces the gauntlet of procedure in the House, which has been running behind the schedule of bills awaiting a vote.
As you may remember, SB 998 would authorize bicyclists to treat stop signs and flashing red lights as yield signs. In other words, if traffic permits, they could roll through without having to stop. But they would still have to yield the right of way to vehicles and pedestrians.
Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, the chief sponsor of the amended bill, told the Rules Committee why it’s a good idea. If cyclists stop, the time it takes to regain momentum can lead to more close calls. By the time a cyclist gets going again after seeing that the road is clear, one or more vehicles could be bearing down on the intersection.
What the bill allows is generally known as the Idaho stop, because Idaho has allowed it since the 1980s. But Idaho also allows cyclists to roll through red lights when the intersection is clear. Prozanski said he didn’t want Oregon to go that far, and his bill does not.
Arkansas has just passed a law like Idaho’s. Prozanski said his bill is modeled after a law in effect in Delaware.
The only no vote on the Rules Committee came from Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas. He didn’t explain why he opposed the bill. (hh)
Postscript: On Tuesday, June 18, the Senate approved the bill, 21-8, and sent it to the House.