No kids under 6? Oh, please!

Having evolved from a (sorta) competitive cyclist into one of those odd and bewildering people who transports small kids around town by bike (trailer, Xtracycle, WeeRide), I have to say my hackles are in an uncomfortable bunch just now, if that is possible.

Why? Well, a bill has been introduced in the 2011 Oregon Legislature that would make it illegal to have a child younger than 6 on your bike or in a bike trailer. I was alerted to this bill — House Bill 2228 — by the amazing cycling resource BikePortland (which does actual journalism as opposed to whatever it is we do here).

Anyway, the new portion of said law is in bold, below (somebody please tell me I am reading this wrong):

SECTION 1. ORS 814.460 is amended to read:
(1) A person commits the offense of unlawful passengers on a bicycle if the person operates a bicycle and carries …
(b) A child under six years of age on the bicycle or in a
bicycle trailer.

The fine for carrying a younger-than-6 kid on a bike would be up to $90. The guy who introduced this bill is state Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland. Here is his e-mail (rep.mitchgreenlick@state.or.us) if you care to make any feelings known about this bill.

[UPDATE:: Before you write him, if you are so inclined, you might read more about his reasons. BikePortland got in touch with him and talked to him about the bill. Go here.]

Frankly, a few years ago this might not have landed on my radar at all. But now that I have a 4-year-old and an almost-2-year-old who get pedaled around all the time, I am rather taken aback. I feel almost offended.

Is carrying a kid around on a bike any more unsafe than embarking on a journey up I-5 in the car with junior strapped in the back seat? Why don’t we just make it illegal to drive any kids younger than 6 in the car, too? Why don’t we just make it illegal for them to leave the house while we are at it?

Here’s to hoping this bill goes nowhere.

UPDATE:: Another dad unhappy about this here — including a copy of correspondence he has already sent to Rep. Greenlick.

FURTHER UPDATE:: This letter by Mia Birk to Rep. Greenlick, as reported on BikePortland, pretty much says it all. I’m not going to try to keep up with all the developments in this story, which moved pretty quickly today. It has apparently ended in Greenlick agreeing to amend his bill so that it simply launches a study into the safety of having kids on bikes — but doesn’t actually outlaw it. If you are interested in the twists, turns and details of all of this, I refer you to the more than competent work of BikePortland.

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10 thoughts on “No kids under 6? Oh, please!

  1. Can’t hurt, Robin.

    Go here for more info on writing a lawmaker.

    The more I have thought about this, though, the more I have doubts that this bill will go anywhere. I mean, assuming a lot of Democrats are going to be supporting the people who are pushing alternative transportation — people who are not going to like this bill — and assuming a typical conservative Republican might view this as a “nanny state” kind of proposal, how many people are going to be left to support it?

    But what do I know about politics?

  2. Holy crap! How would I take Theo to daycare? Bob, I hope you are right- that this doesn’t have much chance. I’ll call my rep though, just to put in my 2 cents. Thanks for calling attention to this!

  3. Funny that there’s only 4 comments. Guess Greenlick is a Portland-district rep. The BikePortland post linked in this article is all ablaze with indignation…yep, I put in a couple cents’ worth there too. Also wrote to my local rep (Holvey) about it, for good measure.

  4. Yeah, maybe the best way to make yourself heard on this might be to write — in a calm and level-headed way, of course — your own lawmaker, rather than Rep. Greenlick. Or at least in addition to Greenlick.

    There would be a human tendency, I think, if you are Greenlick and you are hit with this wave of “indignation” to not withdraw the idea but, rather, dig in your heels.

    But if there is not a chance for support to build around the bill from other lawmakers, it probably doesn’t matter that much what Greenlick thinks.

  5. So the problem with aggressive, head-up-their-rear, cell-phone-barking motorists is to outlaw cycling.

    Hell, why stop with banning small kids from trailers (I personally disapprove of the on-the-bike child seats due to balance issues)? Just ban bikes.

    Seriously (?) though, the only way cycling safety will improve is if we pass a law allowing cyclists hit by cars the privilege of dragging offending drivers from their cars and pistol-whipping them in the street.

    Oregon gets stupider all the time.

  6. I hope that the folks in Greenlick’s district see this for what it is- the action of an incredibly out-of-touch representative. Doesn’t he have anything BETTER to do? I thought we were living in a state that is reeling from the effects of recession, a budget crisis, and school-funding crisis. It makes one want to run for office when this is the kind of bill that a representative is spending time and taxpayer $ on. Geez.

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