SALEM, OR (BRAIN)—An Oregon bill seeking to make it unlawful for a person to carry a child under 6 years old on a bike or in a bike trailer most likely will not advance out of committee as it is currently drafted, say people close to the matter.
Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland), a health researcher and former professor at the Oregon Health and Science University’s school of medicine, introduced the measure (HB 2228), saying he wasn’t “convinced that we are doing all we can to protect the health and safety of young children who join their parents bicycling on the streets and roads of Oregon.”
In a statement that followed, Greenlick cited a study completed at OHSU that showed that about 30 percent of riders who bike to work on a regular basis suffer a traumatic injury every year. In the same letter, he said the bill was not “anti-cycling,” but that he hoped to start a “rational discussion” about bike safety and children.
But the bill caused quite a stir throughout the Oregon bike community last week. A post on the popular BikePortland.org website about the bill drew more than 100 comments, and subsequent updates kept readers glued to the site.
“The nature of what this rep was proposing was over the top so you sort of expect a similar reaction from the community,” said BikePortland.org editor Jonathan Maus. “It was so preposterous, that it upset people on a personal level.”
The Oregonian, the state’s newspaper of record, reported that Rep. Greenlick received 100 emails the morning the bill became public, many from angry constituents. News stories on its site about the bill generated more than 300 comments, the paper reported.
Burley Designs, a 30-year-old company in Eugene, Oregon that sells and manufactures child trailers for bikes, ensures all of its trailers meet ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) safety standards on frame strength, durability and safety harnesses, said product and marketing manager Garrett Barnum, adding that no accident data specific to bike trailers or children on bike carriers exists.
“Since he proposed it, we’ve talked to a lot of media and state reps and legislators. They all responded and said the bill will not pass,” without amendments, Barnum said, adding that Burley was never approached by Rep. Greenlick on the matter of trailer safety. “But if that’s a result of this discussion, a study around child safety and trailers and bikes, that’s great. We are excited about the discussion around safety because that’s the strength of our products over lower-cost trailers sold at big-box stores.”