Oregon should license and register bicycles. It's a move that makes total sense any way you look at it. And if state legislators Rep. Wayne Krieger (R-Gold Beach), Rep. Sal Esquivel (R-Medford), Rep. Bill Garrard (R-Klamath Falls), and Rep. Michael Schaufler (D-Happy Valley) get their way, a new bicycle registration law will be on the books this year. The Skanner supports the plan and here's why.
The bill proposes a bicycle registration fee of just $54 every two years. That's affordable for almost everyone, and it only applies to adults. But with so many bikes now on the roads, the fees will help fund badly needed bicycle projects. Improving bikeways will ease congestion, reduce friction between cyclists and drivers, and encourage cycling by making it easier and more efficient. Who can argue with that?
Besides, with state tax revenues down and rising food stamp and unemployment rolls, Oregon legislators are searching for ways to fill a projected 2009-11 budget deficit of $2.5 billion. Without a dedicated fund for bicycle projects, these essential projects will not happen. We know that just about everyone is feeling some financial pain at that moment. But that simply means that all of us must be part of the solution.
As we have said before, all road users should participate in road upkeep. It is only fair.
Registration also will make tracking of bikes and solving bike crimes easier. Stolen bikes will be easier to recover when bicycle serial numbers are on file.
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski decided not to include a bicycle sales tax in his budget, although both the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Metro supported the idea. Bicycle projects are high on the list of projects that will help solve Oregon's road and energy challenges. So new revenues must be found. Licensing and registration will solve several problems at once.
While we are on the subject of bicycles, The Skanner must register our opposition to a proposed bill that would allow cyclists to essentially ignore stop signs. Excuse me? Does stop mean stop or not? Last summer, 28-year-old Karl Hugo was killed at the corner of Southeast Lincoln Street and 50th Ave., after running a red light. That was a tragedy that will be repeated many times, if this idea is not squashed.
Portland is an urban area with transportation and congestion issues. We understand that cyclists can feel frustrated by having to slow down and start up over and over again. But stop signs are there for a reason – to prevent collisions. You can't travel faster than safety allows. We need more road safety not less. Let this proposal land in the garbage where it belongs.
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