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‘It bears witness to his life’: Trenton’s Law passes Oregon Legislature, honoring Bend teen killed in e-bike tragedy

(Update: Adding video and comments from advocates and Burger family.)

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) - Trenton’s Law (HB 4103), legislation that updates definitions of electric-assisted bicycles in the Oregon Vehicle Code, passed the Oregon Senate 28-2 Monday, carried by Bend state Senator Tim Knopp, and now goes to Gov. Tina Kotek's desk for her signature.

Trenton’s Law is named after Trenton Burger, who was struck and killed by a vehicle last summer in Bend while riding a Class 2 e-bike in northeast Bend. It passed the House earlier on a 59-0 vote.

“When our community lost Trenton, our community immediately converged to decipher how to prevent any further incidents,” Levy said. “We discovered that the statute around e-bikes hadn't been updated since 1997. Cleaning up the law is the first step in building programs around safety and addressing youth ridership.” 

Levy worked with Bend Chief of Police Mike Krantz while developing HB 4103. In testimony to the Joint Committee on Transportation, Krantz said: “Our community has witnessed a remarkable surge in the use of e-bikes. This increased popularity has brought forth numerous questions and a degree of confusion, particularly around law enforcement, regarding the rules governing their use. Unfortunately, some of those inquiries only arose after a traumatic and tragic incident within our community.” 

Levy affirmed her commitment to making our roads safer: “This bill is just the first of many steps. Trenton’s Law is more than HB 4103, it’s a commitment to work on this for as long as it takes to make our infrastructure stronger for families, to support educational programs in our community, and to ensure everyone is safe on the road no matter their form of transportation.” 

The Oregon Department of Transportation will be updating all educational materials to be reflective of the changes in HB 4103. 

Trenton's father, David Burger, said Tuesday that the effort is "basically taking lemons and trying to make lemonade out of it. This will never bring our son back. We will always have that loss."

Burger and his wife have been working closely with Representative Levy on the bill.

"It's not just a speed limit. You know, you don't know what that means, right? It's just a speed limit. But when you hear a law being named after someone, it means more," he said.

The bill defines e-bike classes into three categories.

"A Class 1 bike, that's something that is enhanced by human performance. So they top out at 20 (mph)," Levy said. "They only kick in when you're pedaling. Now, where things really change is that Class 2, Class 3 -- those bikes, they can propel forward with a throttle mechanism that does not require pedaling."

Defining these classes of e-bikes, updating a nearly 30-year-old definition, will help Trenton's family and legislators pursue further rules in the next legislative session.

Supporters of the changes believe Trenton's Law is just the beginning. The Street Trust and others are now pushing for the passage of House Bill 4067, allowing an e-bike task force to review options and create more laws to improve safety. 

Sarah Iannarone, executive director for the Street Trust, said, "At the end of the day, from the Street Trust perspective, that's about making sure that there's the safest infrastructure possible. So that no matter what age you are, whether you're 8, 18 or 88, you have a safe path where you can ride your bicycle from point A to point B without the threat of being hit by someone in a car."

Friends and family celebrated Monday evening, honoring Trenton's legacy through passage of the new law.

"A group of Trenton's friends called and asked if they could come over, and they had heard about the bill passing from a parent or the news," Burger said. "And they came over and they chatted and talked to us, and they made cheese quesadillas, which was Trenton's favorite to make for all his friends."

Levy said, "They can never bring Trenton back. But what it does is it bears witness to his life, the importance of his life."

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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Isabella Warren

Isabella Warren is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Isabellahere.


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