We don't know why, but some folks just don't like bicycles and the people who ride them. Maybe it's resentment directed against the cyclists' perceived "elitism" for choosing two-wheeled self-propulsion over a Dodge Ram 3500 Quad Cab 4x4 with the 345-hp Hemi V8. Or maybe it's the silly Spandex shorts.
Anyhow, there's a lot of hostility out there toward cyclists. And we're inclined to think HB 3008 is one expression of it.
HB 3008 is a piece of proposed legislation that would create a bicycle registration and licensing system in Oregon. Among other things, it would impose a registration fee of $54 per bike every two years. (The basic registration fee for a motor vehicle in Oregon is only a dollar more - $55 every two years.)
Fifty-four dollars per bicycle is a pretty hefty sum. For a family that owned four bikes, it would mean an outlay of $216 every two years. In addition, the bill would set up a database of information about bikes and their owners that would be available to law enforcement.
This weird bit of legislation is primarily the work of Wayne Krieger, an ex-state policeman who's now a state representative from the coastal town of Gold Beach. The blog BikePortland (bikeportland.org) has some interesting background on Krieger, who doesn't care much for cyclists and apparently doesn't think they belong on the public roadways.
Back in 2007 he was one of only two votes in committee against the Vulnerable Roadway Users Bill, which increased penalties for drivers who seriously injured or killed cyclists. (The bill ultimately passed.) According to BikePortland, Krieger thought the legislation "unfairly singled out" drivers of motor vehicles and should have cracked down harder on irresponsible cyclists. (Gotta protect the hammers from the eggs, after all.)
In addition to Krieger, the sponsors of HB 3008 are Reps. Sal Esquivel (R-Medford), Bill Garrard (R-Klamath Falls) and Michael Schaufler (D-Happy Valley). None of these gentlemen comes from a big cycling town, and we suspect that in addition to general resentment of bikes and bikers, antagonism toward those durn latte-sipping liberal enviro-wackos in Portland may be part of their motivation.
Whatever the motivation may be, HB 3008 is a god-awful piece of legislation. Charging the same amount to register a bicycle as to register a car or truck is insane on the face of it; motor vehicles cost the state far more in terms of wear and tear on the highways, pollution, law enforcement and accidental deaths and injuries than bicycles ever could, even if there were a thousand times as many of them as there now are. And at a time when people are pulling in their belts and trying to save money on transportation - by riding bikes, among other things - slapping what amounts to a punitive fee on them for doing it is totally irresponsible.
Krieger and his colleagues more or less concede that their bill doesn't have a prayer; it appears they offered it simply to get the idea on the table. Here's THE BOOT to kick it off the table - permanently.