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« Should bicycles have number plates? | Main | Peter Post: 1933 - 2011 »
Wednesday
Jan192011

Babies on Bike Ban

The State of Oregon has a new bill on the books,sponsored by State House Representative Mitch Greenlick.

The bill if passes it will make it illegal to carry children under six years old in a seat attached to a bicycle, or in a trailer towed behind a bicycle, under the penalty of a $90 fine.

Greenlick justifies the bill by stating “If just one child’s life is saved by this bill it will be worthwhile.”

I am left to wonder, where is the evidence to back up this idea the large numbers of toddlers are being killed or injured while being transported by bicycle.

There is evidence to show that the biggest cause of infant death is due to car crashes, is there a proposed bill to make it illegal for babies to ride in cars? The second biggest cause of death is drowning, so let’s ban swimming pools from households with young children.

This is just another example of a politician who probably doesn’t ride a bike, catering to a car-centic society by selling the idea that riding a bicycle on the public roads is inherently dangerous.

I’ll tell you what is dangerous, the precedent this bill sets if it passes in Oregon.

There are families out there who have only one car, or no car. How is a mother supposed to transport her children if no car is available?

The mother pictured above could be quite simply escorting her son to school and naturally has to take the baby along.

The trio is highly visible and there is no reason why they should be in any danger except for this strange notion we have that people be allowed to drive cars without paying attention to other road users. 

I see mothers with a child in tow on my local bike path, some have to ride city streets to get to the path; the mothers are getting exercise and I’m sure the kids love it too. It would be a damn shame if this was outlawed.

The chart above is from The Center for Disease Control’s 2007 statistics on causes of death to children under six years old.

 

More on this on Tree Hugger and on Bike Portland.org

                         

Reader Comments (22)

As a cyclist who also likes to get out cycling with my Family, this is very interesting news. Thanks for sharing it. I agree with your comments on this one and it will be interesting to see what happens in Oregon and other parts of the Country.


Darryl

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLoving the Biike

That chart says it all, Dave.

Nothing like data to shut down an argument.

Good work.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRider

More nanny state politically correct bs.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

A most likely knee jerk reaction from an out of touch politician.

It seems new bike legislation such as banning headphones while on bike is trying to be passed when it already exists. Asking bicyclists to get licenses now is like saying we are not part of the motor vehicle code when we are. Of course there are some variations but the general rules apply. I guess we have a whole bunch of Christine O'Donnell's in office already. She fumbled over the First Amendment and these other politicians are fumbling over laws that already exist.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteralex

that bill pretty much wont make it through the committee but we keep eye on that anyway.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterh

Howdy all,

I live & bike in Oregon (with my kids in tow, natch) so I've followed this pretty closely. Greenlick will amend the bill, and it was apparently never a serious contender for actually being passed. It is a common tactic to offer bold, unpassable concepts in the form of a legislative bill, for the purpose of gauging public opinion or shifting debate (who knew?) His claim is that he wanted to start a conversation on the safety of kids on bikes, likely on a misinterpretation of a recent study in Oregon that found 20% of bike commuters suffered a "traumatic injury" in the past year. (The misinterpretation is that "traumatic injury," in the language of the study, was ANY injury, e.g. scraped knee.)

http://bikeportland.org/2011/01/13/breaking-greenlick-bill-to-be-amended-changed-to-study-only-45977

The good news is that the public outcry -- including from many non-biking families -- has been overwhelmingly against the bill. Greenlick's "save even one child" howler was a bridge too far, even for many bike-hostile folks. Because if that's our standard we'd have to basically outlaw childhood.

But from my perspective, whatever Greenlick's intentions, he has poisoned the well on the topic of kids and bikes. Before last week it was basically noncontroversial in Oregon that parents could safely tow their kids in trailers, tagalongs, kid seats etc. Now we're seeing op-eds, letters to the editor, etc. accusing such parents of nothing short of child abuse.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Souders

The added visibility trailers and child seats afford cycling parents is a big contributor to improved safety, as is the knowledge that you are carrying your child on your bike. In my experience of towing and biking my three daughters around through early childhood, there is significantly less danger to anybody than simply cycling on an unencumbered bike.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCrunchySteve

You know how Tokyo has one-third the traffic fatalities of North American cities? It's a good question since: mothers carry two children on substandard bikes, they ride all over the roads and sidewalks while on their cell, there are many narrow streets with blind corners and heavy mixed traffic, and there are few bicycle lanes. Simple: draconian consequences if you hurt anyone.
http://hanlonsrzr.blogspot.com/2010/11/put-that-between-your-legs.html

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMr.S.

More and more silly laws. Good thing we don't have a child obesity problem. Is the role of government really to prevent a fun family and child activity?

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike Mike

My four sons all remember quite well all those wonderful rides on the back of my bike that began while they were still in diapers. They're all strong bike advocates now and I suppose that is exactly what the nanny state fears.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack

"...except for this strange notion we have that people be allowed to drive cars without paying attention to other road users."

Your key point. Thanks for the post, Dave.

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGene in Tacoma

I don't get it. These "law makers" don't have the balls to crack down on hand guns, but they get all worked up over Moms riding bikes with thier children???

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJimmy D

What if you are an "empty nester" and still have your cargo bike. To stay fit off the bike, you take up deer hunting. Would having a gun rack on the back like you see in the back windows of pickup trucks irritate drivers? How about a 'scabbard" like you see in the old John Wayne Movies?

would Waffle Bikes be illegal?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-aKtmAfeRg

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Graves

Its all about the state getting their cut of the burgeoning bicycle pie. First they will threaten to take away our various bicycle "privileges," then they will relent and give them back, for a fee...bike registration and licensing, child-carry permits, state operated bicycle inspection stations etc, none of which will be free. In fact, we will have to pay whatever they tell us to pay.

And of course, mandatory insurance which will involve helmet requirements, elbow and knee pads, goggles, extra heavy chamois...

Which will then lead to state generated income from citations, court costs, incarcerations, counseling, repeat offender programs and on and on...

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterG. Orwell

The good news is that, in general, Oregon is a very cycling friendly state (infrastructure, laws, awareness, etc) so this crap won't get passed by the legislature.

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatt E.

Andew at Taiwan-in-Cycles writes about a similar ill-informed descion in Taiwan. Maybe says something about the way public "services" are run everywhere: http://bit.ly/gT2c5O

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSabinna

Jimmy D - Handguns really? Mine have managed to not get loose and hurt anyone. Criminals are the problem, not the guns themselves. That's like blaming cars for problems when it is the drivers' inattention or impatience that is the real problem.

January 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSCPaul

Hi Dave, Great Post. I hope this law doesn't pass. I agree with SCPaul about Jimmy comparing this to gun laws. Jimmy, guns don't kill people, people do ! Even if we ban guns the criminals will still get them. Now, back to the story. Dave, in Ca. we have a helmet law for bicycle riders under age 16. I see many young kids (4 to 10 year olds) riding without helmets and parents with kid seats and the child has no helmet ! I also see plenty of under 16 folks without a helmet or carrying it on the handlebars. Unfortunately without better enforcement and education this will continue. A friend of mine recently started riding her bike to work and she is making an effort to get lights etc... but until I mentioned a helmet she would not have considered it. I realize it's a choice for adults, but all it takes is one knock on the head to change your life forever. She did tell me the helmet is on her list and we discussed less traveled routes for her commute.I hope as time passes more education and awareness is used to remind people to be safe riders and make their kids safe as well.

January 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

There's no way that's going to pass. I'd be shocked if it did...

January 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan O

This is America. Without a car you are nobody. Get out of my way.

January 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPete

Apologies for the vulgarity, but GREENLICKMYARSE

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohann Rissik

Not owning a car for a number of years, I am not sure how my wife and I would have gotten our two kids to school without riding them on the same bike (they were 4 and 7). Our seats were reasonably safe, we rode with awareness, cars avoided us. this is a dumb law.

February 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTim J

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