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The BTA responds to Portland Tribune article

Posted by on August 4th, 2005 at 3:29 pm

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) has written an op-ed in response to last Friday’s Portland Tribune headline story on bike safety. The headline that ran on the front page was, “Walk, ride at your peril”.

The BTA thinks this alarmist headline “irresponsible journalism” because both walking and riding remain relatively very safe activities. They go on to outline several positive ways our community can react to the recent spate of bike/car incidents that have left 5 cyclists dead since the start of June. Here they are:

  • First, as drivers and cyclists, we have to act responsibly when we’re on the road.
  • Second, law enforcement officials need to respond effectively and send a clear message that our roads must be safe for all.
  • Third, our elected officials must dedicate the required resources to identify the most dangerous roads and bridges and fix them, as well as improving safety during every upgrade.
  • Fourth, community partners such as the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, schools, and Department of Motor Vehicles, must work to educate drivers and bicyclists about safely sharing the road.
  • Fifth, the media should continue to draw attention to the crashes, in a thoughtful and responsible way.

All very good points to keep in mind during this “sad summer.” Much credit due to the BTA for such a well-written piece.

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Comments
  • Bryan August 4, 2005 at 5:00 pm

    Good piece by the BTA – except for the phrase, “irresponsible journalism.” Though there are many things that need improvement at the Trib (like the quality of the paper after its most recent firings), and while there are those of us who agree the Trib could had gone with another headline, in my mind focusing on this one little part takes away from the substance of the article – namely, that the Trib did exactly what the BTA is asking for the local media to do: it informed the public of how cyclists and pedestrians are being harmed in the community so that we can respond.

    Also, the headline does point to a growing feeling among walkers and cyclists alike that it is today more dangerous to walk or ride in Portland. Was the Trib really so wrong to reflect our fears?

    There is irresponsible journalism out there (turn on any of the cable networks or visit PDX Media Insider at pdxmediawatch.blogspot.com for news on our community’s delincing news standards), but let’s keep our eye on the ball and realize that there are bigger fights in the media reform battle than the Trib’s headline, especially when the story did help to elevate the immportant but oft-overlooked matter of pedestrian and cyclist safety to the attention of our motored breatheren.

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  • Evan Manvel August 5, 2005 at 10:31 am

    I’d ask a social psychologist as to whether it was wrong to reflect our fears. A lot of our work has to do with overcoming ingrained perceptions about safety or lack thereof, when it comes to letting kids ride or walk to school, or getting on bikes ourselves.

    So fueling that fire, without the numbers to back it up, seems irresponsible and undermines years of work on our part.

    I agree, the article itself was fine, and the Trib usually does decent reporting — but 90% of the battle is the headline.

    Indeed, there have been study after study published that show that people think crime has gone up, when in fact it has gone down. This has consequences when it comes to voting, allocating public funds correctly, etc. and the media have to take some responsibility.

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