Portland activist Jeff Bernards
—who made WW's 2006 "Best of Portland: People"
for his Get Lit
campaign to make biking safer—is back. This time he's rallying to ban studded tires in Oregon
for the 2012 ballot, and he's donated $10,000 of his own money
to prove the cause is worthy.
Studded tires cause around $40 million in damage to Oregon highways each year, according to the state Department of Transportation, which pours $11 million into repairs annually. The studs can dig small holes into the concrete and create ruts, especially west of the Cascades where snowfall melts quickly.
Bernards has had enough, saying "85 percent of Oregonians don't even use studded tires. The other 15 percent put them on for the handful of icy days of the year and then keep them on for six months."
With the state Legislature facing a $3.5 billion shortfall, Bernards thinks the millions spent on repairing damage from studded tires could go to better use.
Bernards has hired Democracy Resources to help manage the campaign, which will need 80,000-plus signatures to make the 2012 ballot. Bernards predicts a fight from local tire companies, especially after the Northwest Tire Dealers Association defeated
three Washington petitions to ban studded tires in 2004.
"It's hillbilly technology," says Bernards. "People say they can drive faster on snow with studded tires...well, they can just slow down."