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Posts Tagged ‘Oregon Legislature’

Spring is here! Flowers are in bloom, birds are chirping, the sun is shining on many days in the Northwest, the days are longer and people feel more energetic.  Many want to get out to a happier place and enjoy the wind in their face.

Interestingly, it’s been reported that the Daylight Savings time change can be dangerous for some and researchers have shown there are increases in motor vehicle accidents.  Lack of sleep impairs driving ability, and driving drowsy can be just as dangerous as distracted driving.

Speaking of distracted driving

If you’ve been on a motorcycle for any length of time you’ve seen it all.  Talking on the cell phone, driving slow and looking down on the freeway, reading email at stop lights only to get honked at, eating and drinking, grooming, fiddling with instrument controls and GPS and talking with a passenger while using their hands for expressions. 

These are just a few of the common types of distracted driving habits that negligent drivers engage in across the northwest.

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 12.28.44 PMAccording to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine Americans are killed every day in automobile crashes that involve a driver who is distracted by some other activity while behind the wheel (Norton, 2015). As distracted driving crashes continue to claim lives, state agencies like the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) are working to develop countermeasures that will may convince drivers to drive more responsibly.

Despite all the efforts to implement safe driving campaigns which have included things like billboard slogans, graphic video clips, television (TV) and radio ads, publications and legislative initiatives; the crashes continue to increase. As reported by Kullgren (2015), fatal crashes in Oregon spiked from 217 to 288, or 33% from September 23, 2014 through September 23, 2015. During this same time period, total deaths increased from 238 to 312, or 31%; pedestrian deaths increased from 33 to 54, or 64%; and motorcycle deaths increased from 40 to 46, or 15%.

When drivers overstep the inattentive line as they willfully impose their own level of risk on others they become socially and legally responsible. Drivers who allow themselves to be distracted by their multi-tasking activities are increasing the risk factor for themselves and imposing that dangerous limit on motorcyclists, passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians. This increased risk to which others are subjected is similar to other driver behavior’s that are considered aggressive and illegal: going through red lights, failing to yield, exceeding safe speed limits, reckless weaving, drinking and driving, driving drowsy, road rage, etc.  In addition, distracted driving causes auto insurance to go up for everyone and state legislators feel the need to control more of our lives via instituted laws.  

And speaking of legislators, today starts Oregon’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month with a big kick-off event in the capitol.  If you want to read more about the Distracted Driving Epidemic in Oregon see this report which details the problem, identifies some solutions and highlights the sobering facts.

Be alert out there!

UPDATED: April 18, 2017 — Noah Budnick, Director of Public Policy & Gov. Affairs for Zendrive published a blog post with some excellent data on Distracted Driving.  Interestingly was the finding that Oregon was the LEAST distracted of the states, however, the city of Portland was in 10th place of cities that were most distracted.  You can read the blog post HERE or download the report.

References:

Kullgren, I. K. (2015, September 30). More Oregonians are dying in car crashes, new data show. The Oregonian. Retrieved from http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/09/more_oregonians_are_dying_in_c.html

Norton, A. (2015). Texting while driving: Does banning it make a difference? HealthDay. CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/texting-while-driving-does-banning-it-make-a-difference/

Photos courtesy of ODOT

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OR 212/214 - Highway

OR 212/214 – Sunrise Expressway

Its the first new highway (2.15-miles) in the Portland Metro Area in over 30 years.  Yes, you read that correct — 30 years!

The previous new state highway in the Portland area was the opening of the Glenn L. Jackson Bridge in 1982.

As many have noted, it seems the state won’t build a mile of road without a mile of bike path.  Many years ago we were told transit would reduce congestion, now we are told we need to build more light rail and we have to just get use to highway congestion. Most commuters have all but given up on ever seeing extra lanes on constantly congested Oregon 217.  The highway now carries the most traffic in Oregon, with more than 30,000 vehicles a day.  Yet, when surveyed most in Washington county are more concerned about parking at the Nike company store than relieving congested highways.  And then you have Oregon researchers claiming that when it comes to improving freeway traffic flow, sometimes a bigger road really isn’t a better one.

Road expansion in Oregon does not move quickly.  Similar to the winter rain there is a drip, drip, drip process which requires lots of analysis.  For example the Sunrise Expressway project had been under discussion since the mid-1980s.  They broke ground for the project in August 2013 and it took three years to complete opening on July 1st.

Gov. Kate Brown led a dedication on June 30th to big fanfare and media coverage.  She announced that the project will improve safety and ease congestion for people who walk, drive and bicycle in Clackamas.  Likely there was a lot of angst by needing to include the word “drive” to that announcement.  So, after three decades of planning and three years of construction, the Sunrise Expressway, opened. The four-lane, 2.15-mile highway extends the Milwaukie Expressway east to Southeast 122nd Avenue where it links with OR 212/224 – the Clackamas Highway.

Congrats ODOT for getting as much use as possible out of the OR 212/214 transportation system we had up to that point. You’ve spent $130 million on 2.15 miles of highway of which $100 million came from the Jobs and Transportation Act passed in 2009 by the Oregon Legislature.  For a detailed review of the project please see HERE.

Next up are those “smart” highway signs (variable speed signs) which have been in place for well over a year now.  I’m curious how that is working?  Will we be hearing the sound of crickets…

Photo courtesy of ODOT.

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Firestone-Tire-SafetyIn Oregon, support for a ban on smoking in cars with kids is well on its way to the Governor.   Senate Bill 444 which passed the Oregon Senate last week would allow police to ticket drivers who were caught smoking in their car if anyone under 18 was present after they were pulled over for another offense.

It’s another example in a long list of arbitrary and capricious “nanny state” regulations, but it passed easily.

The action is no different than what the “Soda Jerk” – NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg – has attempted by imposing his will for the sheer sake of being a true believer in the lifesaving consequences of HIS health agenda.  It would be similar to – and I hate to even provide the idea – the Portland Mayor forcing top-shelf restaurants such as Andina and The Chart House to no longer serve bottles of wine as a way to fight alcoholism.

Independent of what I think about this second-hand cigarette smoking measure, I’m unapologetically against “nanny state” regulation and government highhanded scolding through regulation.  These so-called “substantive bills” seem to have no limit to the government imposing their will for the sheer sake of it.

But, I’m not blogging to rail about poor parenting skills, or scold people for excessive Cherry Coke consumption or promote a car smoking ban.  Rather, once the regulators keep kids safe from second hand smoke where do their idle hands focus next?  Likely on our bedrooms with unmanned vehicles spying monitoring from the back yard patio?!

According to this report (.pdf) only nine % of Oregonians think the government spends money wisely.  The fact that state legislators spent any time on a second-hand smoke issue – which isn’t on anyone’s top 10 list – just amplifies the point.

If a mental break is needed from addressing big issues like PERS reform, streamlining the tax code or fixing the corrections budget, take some time to ponder the number of Oregonians who are effected by road conditions.

As regulators race to Salem complaining about drivers on their cell phones “parked” in the left lane… slow down and look at the poor conditions of the pavement.  I invite you to check out the pavement on OR 217, where fewer than 100K+ vehicles travel daily.  It’s so severely rutted that sections are dangerous for motorcycle travel.  Automobiles changing lanes pepper cars with loose asphalt from the rutted right side to the rutted left lane and bounce around until they settle into the ruts.  It’s worse during the rain… which is 300 days of the year!  The last time major repaving occurred on OR 217 was back in 2006.  Prior to ‘06 it was repaved in 1994.

There are sections of OR 217 that should be classified as “structurally deficient” and signs should be erected in places similar to the “Motorcycles Use Extreme Caution” in Washington State.

The funding and road repair priorities in the state are a big issue.  The second-hand smoke while driving bill is nothing but a distraction and disguised to make voters believe regulators are doing something in the capital.

Hey Salem… we’re watching!

UPDATE: March 28, 2013 – The Oregon Legislature tried to pass a similar smoking bill (HB 2385) in the 2009 session.   And according to this report seven states currently ban smoking in automobiles with children under the age of 18 years old.  Interestingly, there are currently 17 states which ban smoking in vehicles while transporting foster children, including the state of Oregon.  The report provides a number of reasons to support smoke-free vehicles when children are present.

UPDATE: June 4, 2013 – The Oregon House yesterday passed Senate Bill 444 in 43-15 vote against the objections of some lawmakers who groused about it as a “nanny state” provision.  The bill will allow police to ticket smokers if the were pulled over for another offense.  The violation would cost $250 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.  The bill now heads to Gov. Kitzhaber, who has said he will sign it. 

Photo courtesy of Firestone.  Full Disclosure: As an aging blogger and survivor of smoking parents and lifelong non-smoker myself I’m sure the Smithsonian will be looking for a location to display my corpse.

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Senate Bill 805 - Bureaucracy In Action

I’m talking about the Oregon legislature!

But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself and should provide background on Senate Bill 805.

In the U.S., 78.5 billion eggs were produced for eating in 2010. The breakdown is that 2.5 billion were exported, 6.3 billion went to food service use, 24.8 billion were processed into liquid, dried, and frozen products and 44.9 billion went to retail.  There are 187 companies who “lay” claim to about 95% of egg-laying hens in the U.S. Thirteen of these manage flocks of more than 5 million and sell specialty eggs under other names. Cal-Maine Foods, the country’s largest egg producer, owns the brands Eggland’s Best, Farmhouse, and 4-Grain.  Oregon (2.5M) doesn’t even make the top 10 producer list (as measured by number of egg laying hens) and the top 5 egg production states are Iowa (54M), Ohio (27M), Pennsylvania (23M), Indiana (23M) and California (19M).  In fact, at retail, more and more businesses and consumers are demanding organic eggs from hens that are either cage-free (hens able to run about inside huge chicken houses but not outdoors) or free-roaming (hens have access to the outdoors for at least 51% of their lives (~18 months, but there are no regulations on the quality or size of the open-air space)).

It turns out the tastiest, healthiest, most humanely produced eggs come from your local farmer’s free-roaming small flock.  Eggs contain varying amounts of 39 vitamins and minerals—many of which don’t even make it onto the nutrition facts label. Some eggs are healthier than others and it’s really all about what the hens are fed, which ranges from corn and soybean meal to a chicken’s more natural diet: a blend of grains and whatever the hen finds by foraging the pasture.  Again, egg nutrition value is determined by the feed, not breed.

Oregon’s Senate Bill 805 (SB 805) provides hens with a few more inches of space for laying eggs, but may well cost the farmers (which will be passed on to consumers) who will need to purchase/prep for the incremental space mandate.  It’s hard to imagine given the current budget issues facing the state how this matter rises to the level of debating a bill that is largely being determined by consumer purchases of the best tasting eggs.  But, I’d like to congratulate the Oregon legislature for displaying so much intellectual honesty, storming the farmland and solving an issue that isn’t even a problem. It’s another “teachable moment” for those who went to Salem for a life-long political career to do nothing.

I’d bet a Grande Coffee at Starbucks that the next bill after SB 805 will be mandating the quality and size of the open-air space.  Maybe they’ll even look to mandate ambient noise levels so the hens can breathe without excessive sound…hopefully no flocks are near a highway where a group of motorcycles may travel as OSP will be ask to single out motorcycles and set up an EPA-compliant exhaust check point!

The point of this post is not directly related to the Oregon egg industry, but about the unending government proposals, rules, and regulations that affect or creep into the motorcycle lifestyle.  Today there is more bureaucracy about eggs/hens and the amount of breathing space.  Tomorrow it’s about how and what we ride and drive. From taking away off road land areas, to the Federal Register re-defining what is a motorcycle, to performance modifications, and denial of insurance benefits — everywhere you look there is a current or proposed law that will negatively impact all of us. Every day as a result of the current economic collapse I get reports about home foreclosures and short sales, but Oregon lawmakers would rather waste tax payer money debating topics on chickens vs. being “compassionate” to the residents of the state.  Is a chicken’s well being more important?

All this ranting and talk of eggs in the morning made me hungry.  Who’s up for breakfast?!

Photo courtesy of the egg industry.  Fun fact: Did you know that 300,000 eggs go to Peg’s Glorified Ham N Eggs on South Sierra Street in Reno, NV., every year, where they are transformed into heaping breakfast platters piled with hash browns and homemade salsa.

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Out Of Busines

Harley-Davidson has undergone a grueling restructuring over the last year to better compete amid less demand.

The economy and housing bubble depleted consumers’ wealth and left a lot of folks unwilling to spend on Harley’s high-end bikes.  I anticipate that Harley will remain at least three quarters away from achieving positive retail sales trends in the U.S., especially given the companies lapse of a successful promotion in the first quarter.

I’m genuinely concerned.   More so about the decay of prosperity in the local motorcycle shops, parts suppliers, and dealers.  Be it routine service or customization, the local shops most often operate on their ability to make sure YOU are happy. They know if you leave satisfied, you will tell your friends about your experience with the shop.  Word of mouth is an integral part of a shops reputation in the local area and carries a lot of weight in generating new business.  “Giving” local shops rebuild, repair, or service work on your bike, while appreciated, is not going to keep a shop in business.   The industry at large will need sales to rebound or the local motorcycle businesses will lay-off their skilled workers or worse – close down operations.

Unless you own or work in a local shop, you have no idea of what it takes to stay in business.  Facility overhead, staff salaries, phones, heat/electricity and advertising are things everybody thinks of.  But what about insurance, hazmat costs, licensing fees and money paid to local city and state governments for all the TAXES they require?

And speaking of taxes, I’m very skeptical of government spending our way to prosperity.  Increasing the tax liability on small business owners does nothing to encourage businesses to take care of their employees.  In fact, in Oregon there is a special ballot measure on personal and corporate tax increases.  In my opinion this one-size-fits-all legislation may well force motorcycle shops to shut down.  You’ve heard of Measures 66 and 67 and read more about net profits and corporate structures to last a life time so I’ll avoid explaining the details.  Instead, let me ask a simple question.  Did you get a raise last year?  I know I didn’t.  And if you’re lucky enough to still have a job, I’m willing to bet that you didn’t either.  Most likely you took a pay cut.  Or had your hours reduced.  Or were required to pay a larger share of your health insurance coverage.

At the same time you and I were taking cuts the Oregon Legislature voted to increase the tax burden on higher incomes and businesses by $750 million dollars, it also authorized $248 million in pay raises for state employees.  Yep, that’s right.  State workers got raises during the worst economy we’ve been through since the Great Depression.

Still don’t care?  Then how about this.  The legislature approved a budget that increased state spending by 9%.  If I was operating a motorcycle shop I can assure you that if my business increased 9% over the past two years I’d be most happy.  The legislature increase is about $4.7 billion more than the previous two years.  Time for another question.  Do you think state services have improved as spending has increased?  Are the schools better? Is our infrastructure better?  At a time when Oregon has lost over 120,000 private-sector jobs in the past 18 months the state has added 10,000.  It would seem that in Oregon, government has become the ONLY growth industry!

I’m not sure about where you live, but in Oregon during the winter many think about what customization you can do to your bike in the off-season.  Before long you’ll be sitting at your MacBook, surfing the web looking to make some modification dreams come true.  You’ll likely have questions and find yourself on the phone calling the local motorcycle shop trying to get all those questions answered.  Before long you’ll have spent most of an hour discussing scenarios, getting advice and prices from the local shop expert.

What if they don’t answer your call because the parts expert is no longer employed?  What if they’ve gone out of business?

We’re told by the “spinsters” in Salem that the state is making “budget cuts.” Huh?  In fact it means simply they can’t have as much of an increase as legislators would like.  A 9% increase is NOT a cut!  It’s my opinion that the private sector creates wealth.  Government does not.  I hope you’ll join me in voting NO on Measures 66 and 67 to send a clear message to the Oregon legislators that a CUT means CUT.   

Increasing taxes on motorcycle shop owners means more will go out of business.

Source: Statistics from The Oregonian

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

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It was the slogan of American Honda’s safety awareness campaign back in 1998.

The “Stupid Hurts” (.pdf) campaign was intended to create a lasting impression on parents and youngsters as the company was under a lot of pressure with respect to marketing and promotion of ATVs.  It was a multi-million dollar program to deliver straightforward, no-nonsense messages encouraging rider training about helmet use, operator-only use, drug and alcohol-free operation, appropriate age/vehicle size, and youth supervision.

But, beginning Jan. 1, 2010  “stupid is as stupid does”…the Oregon legislature has passed a number of new laws to protect YOU as well as increase the fines because in case you haven’t heard the state has a “revenue challenge.”  Many would debate that it’s a SPENDING problem, but what do we know?  For example, the fine for riding a motorcycle without a motorcycle endorsement jumps from $360 to $720. However, the law also requires the court to suspend the fine if the rider completes training and receives an endorsement within 120 days of sentencing.  Of course if you’re under 21 years of age you are required to complete a TEAM Oregon Basic Rider Training (BRT) course which historically has had long lead times.

But, wait there’s more:

  1. Oregon’s “Move Over” law in 2010 now means that you’ll have to move over for tow trucks and other roadside assistance vehicles. Under current law, drivers have to pull over from police cars, fire engines and ambulances rendering assistance on a highway having two or more lanes of traffic going in the same direction. The change also clarifies that if a motorist can’t pull over because there is a vehicle in the other lane, the driver must slow his or her vehicle to at least 5 miles an hour under the posted speed.
  2. There was also an amendment to House Bill 2040 to add roadside assistance vehicles and tow vehicles to the list of vehicles that require motorist to “maintain a safe distance.”  Failure to maintain a safe distance (ORS 811.147) is a class B traffic violation.
  3. For drunk drivers who are convicted with a blood alcohol level of .15 percent or higher — they will now pay a minimum fine of $2,000. Previously, the fine structure called for a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first offense, $1,500 for a second conviction and $2,000 for a third or subsequent conviction, without regard for level of drunkenness.
  4. And what about protecting the children?  Any under 16 years of age will have to wear a safety belt or harness when operating a Class I or Class II all-terrain vehicle used for off-road use or a Class II ATV legal for street use. The safety belt or safety harness must be used when the vehicles are used both on public roads and premises open to the public. The law holds the parent, legal guardian or person responsible for the child responsible for compliance.
  5. Operators and passengers of Class II ATVs who are younger than 18 must wear motorcycle helmets. There is an exception for vehicles that have a roof or roll bar and that are registered through the Department of Transportation.

Clearly these new rules will create a lasting impression and stop stupid!

Photo courtesy of Honda.

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