What do you think we are talking about here? An adult helmet law? Nah, they tried that a few years ago. It didn’t go anywhere.
Here’s another hint. This guy, spotted at 13th and Alder, just at the edge of campus, also would be afoul of the law:
What’s that, you say? A law against brakeless fixies? Nope, that’s not it either.
Here’s another scofflaw:
Track-standing in the crosswalk? Sorry, that’s not it either.
Yes, I think you’re onto it now. House Bill 2602 is about music. There shall be NO music — not while you are riding your bike anyway. More specifically, it would outlaw the wearing of “listening devices” while riding a bicycle on the streets.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Schaufler, a Democrat from Happy Valley. But as it turns out, we may not have to wrestle with the question of whether this should be illegal.
Last week, this bill had found its way onto the agenda of the House Judiciary Committee. It was scheduled to have a hearing this Thursday, meaning it was moving ahead. But as of this morning it was no longer listed in the committee’s schedule of hearings
A staff member at the House Judiciary Committee said today that, “It was pulled, and has not been rescheduled at this time.”
And David Harrell, the person who replied to the e-mail I sent to Rep. Schaufler today, said simply: “I do not believe there is any momentum for this bill to move forward.”
So there you have it. Maybe the bill won’t be an issue. But the topic is still worth discussing.
When BikePortland did the story regarding this bill, it provoked a whole raft of comments that address every thought I had about this bill and then some. I won’t rehash all of that here. But if you are interested, go have a read. I started out being mildly in favor of such a law, and after reading all of the comments, I think I ended up mildly against it.
The Portland alternative newspaper Willamette Week had a story quoting Rep. Schaufler on his motivations for introducing this bill, which include the idea that while riding a bike “you should have all your wits about you.”
I have to say, I have never been a fan of riding in traffic while employing a “listening device.” I don’t like the sensation. I like to hear what’s going on around me — for safety reasons, but also because it’s just part of the way I like to experience a bike ride.
I like to hear that guy shouting at me, “Get out of the way, idiot!” I like to hear the teenagers erupt in cheers as they hurl a paper soda cup full of ice at me as they drive past late at night. (Really happened. The cup exploded as it hit the pavement directly in front of my front wheel and I ran over it. I’m glad it didn’t hit me in the face.)
So the philosophical question I wrestle with is this: Because I don’t like to do it, should it be illegal? Because I think it is not the safest way to ride, should it be illegal? If I am annoyed that another cyclist wearing headphones doesn’t seem to hear me as I pass him, should it be illegal? If the cyclist is listening to techno, should it be illegal?