While cyclists in New York City are up in arms about the suggestion that they should register their bikes and carry number plates, on the other side of the US in Oregon, some equally questionable legislation has been floated.
Two proposed bills have sparked a reaction from the state’s cyclists on the basis that if enacted, they would ban the carrying of children younger than six years of age either in a trailer or on a bike seat and, separately, make the wearing of earphones while cycling an offence.
Oregon state Representative Mitch Greenlick, a professor of public health at the Oregon Health Sciences University is behind the trailer proposal. He claims: "We've just done a study showing that 30 percent of riders biking to work at least three days a week have some sort of crash that leads to an injury.
"When that's going on out there, what happens when you have a four-year-old on the back of a bike? From a precautionary principle, I felt it was important to discuss the issue and start a debate."
Jonathan Maus from bikeportland.org points out: “Rep. Greenlick has decided that the way to open a debate on an issue is to propose a new law. We have seen this repeatedly backfire in Oregon.
“In July of 2008, Senator Floyd Prozanski planned a mandatory, all-ages helmet law. After hearing a lot negative feedback about that idea, he wisely pulled the idea out of consideration.
“In March 2009, Representative Wayne Krieger proposed a mandatory bicycle registration bill. After hundreds of upset emails and phone calls came into his office, the bill ended up dying in committee.”
Maybe there’s a lesson there for Councillor Ulrich who proposes a similar scheme in New York.
Meanwhile on the headphones issue, the bill filed by Representative Michael Schaufler would create a new offence for "unsafe operation of a bicycle,” which would be committed if the person “operates a bicycle on a highway while wearing a listening device that is capable of receiving telephonic communication, radio broadcasts or recorded sounds."
The offence would come with a maximum fine of $90. Bikeportland.org spoke to Representative Schaufler, who said his reason for proposing the bill is simple: "I just saw some guy driving down the street on their bike with their headphones on and thought, 'He could get run over.' It's a safety issue. It's pretty cut and dry. It's a very simple, very basic concept."
Simple and basic. Yes, we can see how that might appeal to Mr Schaufler.