home

The media, the Police, and bike lanes

Posted by on October 13th, 2007 at 2:01 pm

Screenshot of Oregonian’s web headline.

I don’t have time to share as much as I’d like right now, but given the massive front page story by the Oregonian today, I have to share some thoughts.

First, I am disappointed at the Oregonian’s story, especially at a time when emotions are so raw.

Also, it is important, that we keep this tragedy in perspective. Overall, according to experts I spoke to this morning, the type of collision that took Sparling’s life is very rare.

That being said, Portland obviously has room to improve.

Back to the Oregonian.

The headline on their website reads, “Cyclists fight against bike lane change”. The print edition headline, while a bit less sensational, also tries to create an us vs. them situation that is very sad. Here is that headline:

“Death puts focus on bike lanes: Police say a new law would make for safer turns; cyclists say it’s infringing on their rights”

I would bet that most “cyclists” have no idea what the Police bike lane law proposal is/was all about. It was something discussed in one meeting, with less than 20 people in the room, nearly one year ago.

I was in that meeting back in November of 2006. The report I wrote afterward, “Police propose bike lane law change” is full of more information and many comments that will provide you some background on the idea.

At that time, the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee voted 11-0 against a proposal by Lt. Mark Kruger of the Traffic Division and recommended that he not take it further in the legislative process in Salem. Based partly on the tepid reaction to his idea, Kruger (and the Police Bureau’s legal team) decided to put the idea aside.

Until Tracey Sparling got right-hooked by a cement truck.

When I talked to Kruger just hours after the tragedy, he reminded me of his idea and that meeting. He said, “This is exactly a case in point of what I was talking about.”

Please realize I am not discussing the quality of Kruger’s idea (I’ll get into that later). I am just trying to give some context to the Oregonian’s story.

It is also too bad they left out mention of any other ideas on how to improve bikeways in the city. Bike boxes, better signage, blue bike lanes, physically separated bike lanes; all of these are on the table.

In the end, I feel the Oregonian story makes our city only more divided over an issue (sharing the road) that we have all been struggling with for far too long already

There’s a lot more to write about and discuss, but I have to run. KATU-TV is on their way. They want to talk about other bike safety improvement options. I hope the coverage turns out OK Here’s the story.

I am grateful for everyone that has left comments in the past few days. Your input creates value beyond anything I could write myself.

Email This Post Email This Post


Gravatars make better comments... Get yours here.
Please notify the publisher about offensive comments.
Comments
  • rixtir October 13, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Kruger apprently wants us all to believe that cars in California don\’t dangerously cut cyclists off in the bike lane in order to make those right turns.

    Yeah, right Kruger.

    Here\’s another idea to add to the list of bike safety ideas: Wear a helmet. If you read the accounts of the eyewitneses, It was a low speed collision, she wasn\’t wearing a helmet, and she hit her head. It\’s patently obvious that if she had been wearing a helmet, she\’d be alive today, regardless of bad infrastructure design and whatever negligence the driver might be liable for.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • toddistic October 13, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Kruger needs to go. I think it\’s only a matter of time. His abuses of free speech, his pro-car perspective on transportation options and racist background does not reflect the type of culture we have in Portland. He continually shows he is only serving what he deems (in his small little world) worth protecting.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • toddistic October 13, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    I\’d just like to add if they want to make it an us vs them we could start doing critical mass.

    We as cyclists represent over 5% of transportation in Portland. The city (and God willing Sam gets elected) needs to start treating our mode with a bit of respect and forethought.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • N.I.K. October 13, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    The main problem with Kruger\’s solution to the problem is that it doesn\’t at all account for the real problem, which is that road users in general are frequently incautious of their surroundings and often fail to make their intentions clear when turning etc. The idea that a minor change in regulation -and a potentially confusing one at that: how much worse can things get if there\’s a legal condition under which cars can DRIVE IN THE BIKE LANE?!?- will counter people making inattentive and unpredictable manuevers on the streets of Portland is nigh-on farcical.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • a.O October 13, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    Kruger needs to go. His comments demonstrate that he is hopelessly biased against cyclists and is thus incapable of addressing this situation as a public official. FIRE KRUGER!!

    The truck driver had a duty to pay attention to what was happening in the bike lane given that he was preparing to turning across it. He should have seen Tracey in his mirror before she entered his blind spot. He is at fault here. Drivers exercising ordinary care on the roads would solve this problem.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Donna October 13, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    Doesn\’t anyone in a commanding role at the Portland Police Bureau understand that Kruger has burned so many bridges with cyclists in this city that he makes their jobs harder every single time he opens his mouth?

    What on earth is *this* supposed to mean?

    \”Bicyclists expect and are trained by activists groups that when you\’ve got the bike lane, you can do what you want to do\”

    What activist groups? Are there super secret, underground meetings about bike lane usage that the rest of us are not aware of? This is a free country, and the man certainly has every right to wear tin foil on his head to keep the evil spirits out if he so chooses. That said, he crosses the line when he spouts paranoid conspiracy theories in a public role to a newspaper reporter who then proceeds to publish it as if it were gospel truth.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • a.O October 13, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Donna, that\’s exactly right. These comments indicate a profound disconnect with the reality of life in Portland. He\’s playing on peoples\’ fears, which is an incredibly irresponsible thing for a public official to do.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Donna October 13, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Either that or it\’s a sad reflection on the state of mental health care in Multnomah County…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Klixi October 13, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    Kruger says: \”Spring forward to where we are today, where we\’ve added bike lanes to the mix, and some bicycles are traveling at high speed. It can lead to significant, deadly conflicts, as we saw Thursday.\”

    Yes, some cyclists do travel at a high speed, however Tracey did not, so why feel the need to mention high speed then \”…as we saw Thursday\”. Tracey was not rushing through a red light or speeding. She barely moved at all. This Kruger is a real piece of work.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Peter W October 13, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    I agree – Lt. Kruger from the Portland Police traffic division has demonstrated his inability to represent all road users:

    \”[Kruger] counters that Oregon\’s current law puts an impossible requirement on drivers making right turns to spot cyclists in blind spots..\”

    Um, what about *mirrors*? If you vehicle has blind spots, you should be extra careful to pay attention to what is coming up behind you. If Kruger thinks drivers are not doing anything wrong by right hooking cyclists, how can he be trusted to enforce the law?

    \”Bicyclists expect … that when you\’ve got the bike lane, you can do what you want to do\”.

    What a strange expectation! We expect to be able to follow the laws in the bike lane? Thanks Kruger, I see the error of my ways…

    \”We have a lot of these collisions that don\’t end in fatalities, but they are stubborn to the point that they won\’t give up ground for the sake of safety\”.

    what he means is, he thinks we should just let motorists drive in the bike lanes because he doesn\’t expect drivers to start following the law any time soon.

    Hello Kruger! Enforce the laws with motorists, or don\’t work for the Portland Police!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • tim October 13, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    Tell Chief Sizer what you think: chiefsizer@portlandpolice.org

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • nuovorecord October 13, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Cars in bike lanes is a bad, bad idea. There are better solutions to the \”right hook\” problem than this, bike boxes for one.

    Cyclists need more dedicated real estate, not less!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Greg October 13, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    I have to say that I was also disappointed by the diagram on the front page. The diagram shows the difference between the California law and Oregon law.

    The Oregonian clearly is showing bias towards the California law.

    In the California example, they show where the car has already transitioned into the bike lane ahead of the cyclist. The assumption is that the bike will never be there during the transition.

    In the Oregon depiction, they show the bike being there during the car\’s transition across the bike lane. The assumption is that there is always conflict at the intersection.

    In both cases there is a transition across the bike lane and in both examples it\’s quite possible for the cyclist to be in the conflict point — or more likely not be in the conflict point.

    I\’d rather have the transition happen as slower speeds like we have in Oregon, but could be convinced that California has it better. Regardless of the merit of either idea, the diagram demonstrates unfair bias.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 13, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    The downtown bike lanes in portland are not safe. This is the second fatality in one of the downtown bike lanes in the last three years. These bike lanes are subject to the problems all bike lanes have, amplified ten times due to higher traffic volumes in the downtown core. Door zones, right hooks, incorrect destination positioning are all a problem. I know several cyclists who have been doored on SW Broadway and have witnessed the aftermath of several right hooks at SW Madison and 3rd. NW Everett at 16th is another huge hazard spot. The best policy for cycling in downtown Portland is to take the lane, often the center or left lane (most NS streets are three lane wide one-ways, most EW streets are two lane one-ways). The traffic is timed for 12 to 15 mph and it is easy to ride at the speed of traffic. The only possible advantage to cyclists the downtown bike lanes offer is the ability to filter forward when traffic is gridlocked; but you are legally allowed to pass on the right now, so bike lanes really aren\’t required for that, either. The only thing I agree with Kruger on is that motorists are never going to properly learn to look for cyclists on their right before making a right turn. OTOH, I think that all the anti-cyclist officers on the PPB traffic division really need to be reassigned to other duties.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Peter W October 13, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    I want to point out that the Hillsboro police, apparently unlike the Portland Police, seem to understand the responsibilities of drivers and understand that \”I didn\’t see him/her\” isn\’t a valid excuse any more.

    The other day a motorcyclists died when he hit a car that pulled out in front of him.

    \”Garcia told police she did not see the motorcycle. [Hillsboro Police Department Lt.] Rouches said the Washington County Crash Analysis Recreation Team is investigating possible charges of careless driving, which could lead to a 30-day suspension of Garcia\’s drivers license and defensive driving classes.\”
    - http://www.oregonlive.com/news/argus/index.ssf?/base/news/1192213345108470.xml&coll=6

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • tonyt October 13, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Donna,

    Amen! Could not have said that better myself.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 13, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    The Oregonian really adds nothing to the debate by allowing Kruger to spread disinformation without checking the facts, or with their inflamatory headlines that do nothing but create further conflict.

    The Oregonian is behaving irresponsibly in order to sell papers to help their bottom line; this is selfish on the part of the paper, serves no positive purpose in the community at large and is morally and ethically corrupt.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • annefi October 13, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Burr states:
    \”but you are legally allowed to pass on the right now, so bike lanes really aren\’t required for that, either.\”

    When did this change? I thought cyclists could only legally pass on the right when there\’s a bike lane. Does Burr have this right?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jake October 13, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    I\’d like to make a couple of points:
    1) this place is called downtown, where people are walking and crossing the streets everywhere. Cars are supposed to yield to all those people, including bike riders, in crowded places like this
    2) when you are driving a car, you are supposed to be aware of what\’s in the blind spots whenever you make a lane change; otherwise you\’ll keep hitting other cars; why it is so difficult for Kruger to understand there could be something in your blind spots, and you can\’t hit anything just because it\’s in your blind spot

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • patrick October 13, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    \”According to experts I spoke to this morning, the type of collision that took Sparling’s life is very rare.\”

    I\’d like to see the \”data\” from these so called experts. I have lost count the number of times I have had to grab a fist full of brake, smack the side of cars or give a loud shout to let a car know they are about to potentially take me out. Not to mention last year I was actually hit by a car.

    Any time the experts want to join me for a ride down NW Everett and 16th let me know.

    Honestly, I\’ve stopped using the bike lane on Everett because I find I am more safe in the far left lane. I\’m beginning to side with the arguement that bike lanes promote a false sense of security.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • patrick October 13, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    BURR said,
    \”NW Everett at 16th is another huge hazard spot. The best policy for cycling in downtown Portland is to take the lane, often the center or left lane (most NS streets are three lane wide one-ways, most EW streets are two lane one-ways\”

    Yep

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • tim October 13, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    Agreed, Burr. I wound up on the hood of some kid\’s pickup on 16th/Everett one morning. Since then, i take the lane.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Qwendolyn October 13, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    \”
    Burr states:
    \”but you are legally allowed to pass on the right now, so bike lanes really aren\’t required for that, either.\”

    When did this change? I thought cyclists could only legally pass on the right when there\’s a bike lane. Does Burr have this right?
    \”
    …In June of 2005.

    ORS 811.415:

    \”(c) Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions.\”

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Spanky October 13, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    I talked to a lot of friends and neighbors about this today as I was out and about and raking leaves. the overall consensus (and some of them are bike commuters) is that the \”bike lobby\” isn\’t willing to even consider a change in the law that could save lives. A change in teh law that could be done with little expense, is realistic (separate bikeways are not likely at evenry intersection where right hooks can happen), and would make aa difference. the perception of cars abusing bikers is actually the reverse among car drivers. I have an older neighbor who told me a story (backed up by his three passeneres, all much younger than him) of a bicyclist striking his car and denting the door, and riding off after screaming at him. The guy in teh car did nothing wrong. the accident was the fault of the cyclist. This kind of experience, coupled with what is perceived as unreasoning opposition to proposals like the right turn proposal, makes bicyclists in this city out to be bike fascists.

    And that perception, accurate or not(I think it is not accurate – there\’s good and bad in every group!) doesn;t do anyone any good in this instance.

    I do think there is a huge danger in these right hook zones, when a large truck is at the intersection. they ahve a significantly limited ability to see a cyclist alongside. And the height of their mirrors (due to the heigt of the truck) makes it harder to see a bike approaching from the rear when the truck is stopped at the I/S.

    I just hope folks can tone the hysterics down a bit, on both sides of the bike/car divide.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Russell October 13, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    Mark Kruger needs to go. If anyone is a hazard to our safety at this point, it is him.

    This whole situation is sickening.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mick October 13, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Spanky:

    I find that often when drivers think it wasn\’t their fault and a biker went off on them for no reason, they have, in fact, broken the law. The right hook is a perfect example of this. Or parking in the bike lane. Or passing me because they think I\’m going to slow. These things happen to me daily and I\’m quite certain that all the drivers think that they are in the right.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ian Clemons October 13, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    One point that was made in the article is how dangerous downtown streets have become due to all the construction going on (arguably, all of inner Portland is in a similar state as giant concrete \’n glass condos takeover more neighborhoods). We have lots of big trucks driven by workers who need to meet deadlines and get their load delivered before lunch or quitting time. How many of these guys do you think bike to work? Grew up in Portland? Have a positive view of urban cycling? I don\’t mean to demonize these guys, but I think they are a real hazzard.

    Couple this with the fact that there are all kinds of traffic changes, flaggers, barricades, etc and you get an urban cycling terrain particularly hazzardous to bikers and a lot of delayed, pissed-off drivers who are just that much unwilling to share the road. Sheesh! Maybe I\’ll just park my bike downtown and walk until A) the construction is done or B) the Peak Oil Apocalypse keeps the cars off the road…

    -Ian

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Donna October 13, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    For those of you who are wondering about whether the differences between the bike lane laws in California or Oregon would prevent right hooks, let me direct you to the Advocacy & Safety forum at http://www.bikeforums.net/. I am a moderator there and I can assure you that plenty of Californians start threads and make posts complaining about being right hooked. The main difference between motorists in California and motorists in Oregon is that the Californians feel it\’s ok to be right hooking cyclists. After all, *they\’re* entitled to be in the bike lane, are they not?

    I would very much like to know whether or not this is something the entire Portland Police Bureau officially supports or if it\’s just a crack-brained idea of Mark Kruger\’s. If it is what the Police Bureau is in favor of, I would like an explanation from Chief Sizer and Mayor Potter, as I was not aware that the City of Portland was in favor of abolishing this part of the bike lane law. PDOT clearly designs bike lanes (even the good ones) with the assumption that cars don\’t enter them very often. Without this part of the law, a great many of our existing bike lanes ought to be heavily redesigned or removed altogether.

    I\’m also beginning to wonder if the Portland Police Bureau isn\’t already enforcing the bike lane law in the manner in which they wish it was written, rather than they way it is currently laid out. At the vigil at the end of the ride, the police insisted that the remaining cyclists remove themselves from the traffic lane and confine themselves to the bike lane. The problem with that was the bike lane was being used in part as a parking space for a large truck and a large bus. I asked the officer about that, and he told me that there was nothing the police could do about motor vehicles parked in a bike lane. Apparently my appearance must give off the impression that I just fell off the turnip truck.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • a.O October 13, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    \”[W]hen you are driving a car, you are supposed to be aware of what\’s in the blind spots whenever you make a lane change; otherwise you\’ll keep hitting other cars; why it is so difficult for Kruger to understand there could be something in your blind spots, and you can\’t hit anything just because it\’s in your blind spot.\”

    Exactly. This is the double-standard that has been thrown around ever since the truck driver killed Tracey.

    If he\’d turned right across a car lane and killed someone in a mini or some other small car, no one would be saying that the car shouldn\’t have been in the truck\’s blind spot. They would be saying, correctly, that the truck driver has the responsibility of finding out what\’s in the blind spot *before* crossing the lane.

    The circular logic of the victim-blamers is that because you are vulnerable, you don\’t really have the same rights as someone better protected. It reveals that most people still think of cyclists as second-class citizens. This kind of thinking is dangerously irrational at best, but when it is used to excuse the death of someone like Tracey, IT IS JUST PLAIN SICKENING.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob October 13, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    I think as investigators study this collision, they\’ll be able to determine more clearly whether the driver\’s vehicle really wasn\’t designed to permit visibility of a cyclist located to the right of his vehicle, whether it really had a blind spot not covered by a mirror. I didn\’t see a pic of the front of this truck, but big ones like this often have a very long hood to house a big motor. A cyclist positioned alongside this part of the vehicle could possibly be in a position where the driver might not be able to see them directly. Some other truck designs with engines located back from the front of the vehicle have a very cleverly designed sidewindow that drops all the way to the floorboards. That would have possibly been a saving grace here.

    Even if direct vision to the immediate right front of a long hood vehicle isn\’t possible, there may be another possible solution; video monitors to exterior vid cameras. Big RV\’s have them to aid in backing up. Could\’ve worked here to allow the driver to see what he couldn\’t see in his blind spot.

    Keeping in mind that Kruger is the officer that pepper-sprayed babies during a peaceful demonstration, (allegedly with a smile of glee on his face), I\’ll risk the wrath of some people here by noting that in the article, some of Kruger\’s comments do indicate a fair awareness of the complexities and hazards of the right-side bike lane at intersection problem.

    \”Motorists have been conditioned for 100 years that no one is going to pass them on the right,\”. \”Spring forward to where we are today, where we\’ve added bike lanes to the mix…\” Kruger

    That\’s true really. Even more important to note though, is that big intersections can be very complicated. There\’s so many things going on that even the most alert, well trained driver is likely to eventually fail to see something like a cyclist slide up past their point of visibility to a possible blind spot.

    I mentioned on another thread that a merge of some sort might be an idea, but having thought about it some more, I\’m not sure that would work give the vast speed differential between bicycles and motorists. Car lane to bike lane: cars would always be dangerously cutting bikes off. Bike lane to car lane: bikes would have to be pulling in front of cars frequently going too fast.

    Something has got to be done, like…now.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mick October 13, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    wsbob:

    Kruger\’s argument about 100 years of conditioning might sound reasonable but it\’s not. It would only take 2 or 3 years of conditioning with the current set of laws (i.e. enforcing them which PoPo doesn\’t) for them to take effect with most of the population.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John October 13, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    Sorry I don\’t get it. Who are you people (other than spanky, wsbob … )? Obviously most of you are some sort of \”bike lobby\” out of touch with real people, real cyclists? (think about it? are you?) For the most part, I just ride, I just ride my 20 miles or more a day, I don\’t have time for this crap, I just need to get to work. I then want to get home. Without getting killing or worried about some more freeking colored paint on the road, or some driver pissed off at cyclists. I would love it if cars would/could move over to the right if they are turning right! Makes life so much easier and less confusing and safer for everyone. Actually, I think this is my main safety issue when I am riding! This is NOT A SLIPPERY SLOPE! So what?, cars can now move into the bike lane to turn, BUT GUESS WHAT, that means i can move left into the traffic lane, (yeah i know it\’s already legal) BUT this makes it clear to all, that cyclists are allowed out of the bike lane (the psychology is fairplay is fairplay). The keep it simple principle always applies! ALWAYS. Think less paint, think bikelaneLESS intersections. When you start tinkering road control, bike boxes, or what ever the hell sort of paint, signage or regulations you idiots are dreaming up, You are putting peoples lives at risk! \”What, no !, I am making it safer\” you say. Nope you are adding another layer of rules, laws, etc, for befuddled minds to provide split second reaction to the controls of a death machine. And you give people a false sense of security that they will be OK and that they don\’t need, head on a swivel, Head on a swivel, eyes everywhere, miss nothing, hear anything, see everything.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Donna October 14, 2007 at 12:02 am

    John,

    How is it that cyclists all over the country who live in states where cars can enter the bike lane to make a right turn keep on getting right hooked by those cars? How is it that it happens in those other places more often than Portland? That doesn\’t make sense to me – there are more cyclists here than in those other places. How does introducing a practice from places where it is far more dangerous to ride a bicycle make it safer for us here?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Todd B October 14, 2007 at 12:16 am

    Hi John,

    You hit on some valid points…sharing the road and moving to the left if a car is in your way while movign right…though these really only work well for experienced and road conditioned riders (\’A type\’ – like you and me)…but they do not work as well for those who want to start riding and are afraid of the existing state of the roads (which is like 30% to 60% of the drivers out there who want to try riding a bike – it is too late in the night to dig this BTA/ PDOT survey data up…someone will do it tomorrow) or for the children I ride to school and the store with. And the road conditions you like offer less cushion for making mistakes for those starting to ride.

    Yes we could get by with a lot less paint and more sharing [and move towards \'naked streets\'] if our policy makers (and engineers) would allow design of lower speed streets with less complex intersections and movements, but until that happens…we have another set of tools…

    I understand that some of the tools we are talking about may seem odd or confusing…bike boxes, lead bicycle intervals with bike signals, blue bike lanes, etc.

    Please before you dismiss them outright, give them a try in a city that has implimented them consistantly. I have done this and find that I like it – it is ghreat as a bicyclist to be treated like a vehicle on arterials (and is safer too).

    And remember that many of the bike facilities we have out on the street are only 40% of the picture…we have only really done the \’segments\’ (the long sections between intersections) and not the \’nodes\’ (intersections).

    I am pretty sure you could find some local bike advocates who could take you on a riding tour to show you some of these options…when you have the time of course.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • janel October 14, 2007 at 1:06 am

    I am just glad they had the story on the front page to inform people about the dangers of the right hook.

    My question is, for the at least 15 or so other cyclist deaths in the past 3 years, have any of them ever been a front page story? (Maybe I am wrong, I don\’t usually read the Oregonian).

    Why is this different? Because it is in Downtown rather than out on 82nd? Because it is was 19 year old woman rather than a homeless man? Because it was in a bike lane?

    All deaths, crashes and near misses show inadequacy of bike infrastructure, and all need to be studied and we need the funding to improve them! What can we do??

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Lee Hoffman October 14, 2007 at 6:05 am

    Hey John, We have beat this horse to death.I am so sick and tired of people always looking for blame and fault,We have a key problem in Portland,as I see it. Cars are demigods and we as cyclist are only peasants. they have three bike lanes in Holland and only one car lane.drivers are too busy to drive ,they must eat ,talk on the phone ,text and yell at the kids. we as cyclist (some of us) ride without hands while Starbucking up the wrong way on the bike lane while jamming out to Three Doors Down on the Ipod in black clothes on a rainy night without a helmet.its not 50/50 its 100/100 we all need to watch what we do.Stop blaming and start living safe.Lee

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Tankagnolo Bob October 14, 2007 at 7:49 am

    ADVANTAGES OF CALY LAW…

    I know when cycling, I prefer to have a car ahead of me in the bike lane to turn right, rather than be beside the car where I cannot see the blinkers, make eye contact with the driver, and be surprised by a right turn. This has happened many times to me while riding.

    When I drive, I can focus totally on getting into the bike lane, moving faster than the bikes, I can see one ahead and behind, pass one, move in, slow for the one ahead. Once stopped, I have to watch for the light, the padestrians that might try to get accross at the last minute, so much going on in front. Combine that with a blind spot to the side. A fast moving cyclist, or one just in the blind spot is at such risk from even an aware driver.

    Riding or driving downtown is like being in a bizare video game. For me there are few I see as enemies, just too much going on. I try to maintian the \”Share the road\” attitude if I am riding, driving, or walking.

    I will take the Caly law, both as an avid cyclist and one who drives.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Tom Hastings October 14, 2007 at 8:09 am

    As an older guy who bikes about seven miles into downtown each day, I have to agree with those who say we need to reject the laws that entitle cars more and by extension bikes less. I was right-hooked totally out of the blue two years ago by someone who passed me and, within 100 feet, turned suddenly. Evidently, he felt that coming up a hill meant that I was slowing so much he could assume I was out of his calculus. I, in turn, assumed a driver would check his right mirror or look over his shoulder before just vamping across MY lane. Nope. The upshot was he was very solicitous, apologetic, took down all my information and sent me a new rearview mirror (the only damage to my bike, luckily). If he would have been under the impression that he hadn\’t broken any law, what would his attitude have been? I think the jump-into-the-bike-lane law is a very bad idea. BTW, I have acted as liaison to the police from the peace movement and Kruger is a rogue. He ought to be a meter man, not in any sensitive position.

    I know this is fantasy, but I hope for the day when actual bike arterials can be created on streets that are currently side streets with many stops. I am not smart enough to know how, but I sure like the notion. Otherwise we are stuck competing directly with murderous cars who are–I agree–the \”first-class\” citizens on the road.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • get me outta here! October 14, 2007 at 10:05 am

    here in california it\’s true: the bike lane essentially ends a little ways before the intersection. this creates a number of problems that oregonians would have to deal with if you adopted this practice.

    1. it divides cyclists into two basic groups at the intersection. those of use how move left into the lane that goes across the intersection, and those that choose to move up to the curb and wait like pedestrians. this creates a situation where right-turning cars have bikes on either side of them. as you can imagine this tends to make the drivers a bit fussy.

    2. regardless of what your plans are, as a cyclist approaches the intersection cars tend to either hit the gas so save that extra 3 or 4 seconds and get do a right hook in front of you at high speed (often, in my experience) with tires squealing. if they don\’t do that ..then they tend to angrily and impatiently stalk the cyclist for the final few yards before the intersection then flip the bird as they turn.

    obviously this level of danger and anger does not occur at every intersection but these things to happen to me on a daily basis as i commute to work.

    given that your community has other options on the table (as jonathan mentioned), i would encourage you all to set aside such a flawed suggestion.

    good luck to you as i plan on joining you all very soon.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Donna October 14, 2007 at 10:40 am

    If there is a lower rate of cyclists being right hooked in California and similar states, then I think a change to the law has some merit. If it can also be shown that motor vehicles stay out of the bike lanes in California and similar states with the same frequency that they do in Oregon, then I could get behind such a change in the law. I find it worthy of note that the cyclists in the US who are critical and wary of bike lanes as a whole tend to be people who live in places where motor vehicles can do what they wish in a bike lane.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 14, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Just a reminder that the construction site the cement truck was going to is a huge project and there probably will continue to be large numbers of cement trucks making this turn to access the construction project for months to come.

    And when the building is done, it will have a multi-level parking garage capable of holding hundreds of cars, resulting in that much more downtown traffic.

    Be safe out there y\’all!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Greg Raisman October 14, 2007 at 11:20 am

    First, my deepest condolences to Tracey\’s family, friends, and everyone touched by the horrific tragedy. As someone who has been personally touched by this type of sudden loss, each one of these tragedies brings a sense of deep sadness — but also hope that something good comes from the loss.

    Right hooks are not rare at all. They are amongst the most common crash types. Almost all right hooks happen at driveways and intersections.

    The difference with this crash that makes it uncommon is that it was from a stopped position.

    Almost all right hook situations happen while the bicyclist and motorist are both moving. The most common is the overtaking motorist turns right into or directly in front of the moving cyclist.

    PDOT just analyzed 5 years worth of police crash investigations for the update of the Bicycle Master Plan. Fatal crash investigations do typically reach conclusions about the speed of the vehicles involved in crashes. At a minimum injury-involved investigations say whether the vehicles are stopped or moving during the crash.

    In five years of crash investigation reports, I do not remember any where the crash began with both vehicles stopped at a red light. I don\’t have a perfect memory and am out of town until Wednesday. But, I\’ll take a second look at the reports when I\’m back in the office to see if there are more that I\’m not remembering.

    The sad news is that our community can not avoid all crashes. There will continue to be risk involved with being alive. The good news is that important conversations like this one help us to continue on the journey towards minimizing the number of people who are hurt or die in crashes.

    Please ride safely and alertly out there. Thanks for making our city a better place by riding your bicycle.

    Thanks.
    Greg Raisman
    Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership
    Portland Office of Transportation

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 14, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Kris Okins was killed in 2005 by a truck in the SW Broadway bike lane at Washington Street. While it was not a right hook crash, both the truck and the cyclist were proceeding from a stop at a red light.

    http://www.draplin.com/forkris/
    http://www.ahalenia.com/memorial/kokins.html

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 14, 2007 at 11:36 am

    BTW, for anyone interested, Kris Okin\’s ghost bike was removed by the city a while back and needs to be replaced.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Kathleen October 14, 2007 at 11:53 am

    I am wondering if it would make Kruger happy if every single bike commuter in Portland would drive a car to work. It would be interesting to see how traffic flows if bicyclists chose one day where we would all drive cars (one person per car) instead of cycling.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Greg Raisman October 14, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Burr:

    You are absolutely right. I actually was just drafting something to follow-up on my first post about that very subject when I saw that you posted.

    The odd thing about Kristine Okins\’ crash is that the investigation could not figure out how it happened. There were no turning movements and no witnesses that could provide enough information to reach a conclusion. It remains a mystery.

    The facts that are not mysterious are exactly what you said. The only difference I can see between the two crashes is that in Kristine\’s crash the truck did not leave its travel lane. In Tracey\’s, the truck made a right turn across the bike lane.

    As many are aware, the update of the Bicycle Master Plan is looking very closely at all options for safer travel for cyclists downtown. To all: Please continue your involvement!

    Jonathan, I think this would be an excellent subject to write about if you get the chance. How to make downtown inviting and safe for the full spectrum of cyclists?

    Again, I will look at the crash investigations when I return to the office. I still expect to see that crashes that initiate from a stop at a red light are quite rare.

    Thanks.
    Greg Raisman
    Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership
    Portland Office of Transportation
    (503) 823-1052

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 14, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    #46 \”I still expect to see that crashes that initiate from a stop at a red light are quite rare.\”

    this is splitting hairs, there are almost certainly more right hook collisions that occur on green lights, but it\’s really irrelevant since the inferior bike lane design is largely to blame in either case.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Greg Raisman October 14, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    I disagree, Burr. I\’d agree if cyclists didn\’t pass motorists on the right at intersections without lanes. The fact is that this practice is so common that the bicycle community successfully fought to have it allowed in law during the 2005 legislature.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Craig D. October 14, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    A word to the wise, drivers and cyclists (especially cyclists since drivers don\’t see us): MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THE DRIVER! What do our rights mean when we\’re dead because they \”didn\’t see us\”? I learned this from my years as a motorcyclist. Expect that you are invisible and you will take fewer risks. When you look at a driver and they don\’t look at you they don\’t see you. Lock eyes with them and no one gets hurt. I wish Tracey had pulled ahead of the driver and looked back into his eyes:(

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Eliza Dennison October 14, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    Hello?!–When will we learn from the Europeans?! It is safer for cyclists and pedestrians in the chaos of Naples or Paris than in ANY city in the US. Why? Because the stronger vehicle is almost always in the wrong in the more civilized parts of the world, and because even little old ladies are certain you see the whites of their eyes as they cut in front of you on foot.
    Our culture is so \”me\” oriented that it is doomed for failure. How hard is it to take an extra second to look (or think) before you act? It almost makes you wish the oil would run out sooner rather than later–if it weren\’t for the greenhouse issue.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • PoPo October 14, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    Excellent job on this story. Thank you for your work.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • motorist October 14, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    I almost right hooked a bike one day. I was turning right paying attention to all the stuff going on in front of me, and didn\’t see the bike whizzing by me on my right. He got through ok much to my frustration. I sure wish he would have stayed in the bike lane that was on my left side.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Nelson Muntz October 15, 2007 at 7:56 am

    Here is why Kruger\’s bike lane scheme will not work:

    I routinely commute south on SW Murray Road in Beaverton past the main gate of Nike\’s headquarters. At the intersection of Murray and Baseline Road, drivers routinely use the bike lane for right turns. During rush hour, the bike lane is impassable thanks to a half dozen or more cars queued up to make the turn. This forces a cyclist to bunny hop onto the sidewalk (not exactly a legal place to ride) or dismount and walk the bike up the sidewalk.

    Mind you, this is a wide suburban boulevard. I can only imagine that Kruger\’s idea would actually create more urban gridlock as both cars and bikes would be immobilized at most intersections. The California law may work down there because the roads are designed and built much differently (wider, multiple lanes in both directions, longer spacing between signals, much less on-street parking, etc.) Such a law would make Portland a traffic clusterfark worse than it is now.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Nikos T October 15, 2007 at 8:25 am

    When drivers realize that the bike lane is (surprize!) a lane, things will improve. They(we) have to give the lane some respect. Drivers always(?) look before changing lanes on a highway, why not treat the bike lane as what it is and check before crossing it? It comes down to drivers not being used to the bike infrastructure.

    Another example, a pet peeve of mine: construction crews close a driving lane ahead and place the \”right lane closed\” sign on the bike lane, blocking it completely. Same thing, no respect for the bike lane.

    We gain respect when drivers are educated and aware and when we make ourselves visible in the bike lanes.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Cøyøte October 15, 2007 at 8:32 am

    A car moving into the bicycle lane prior to turning across that lane makes sense to me. Above all and bicycle lane is a traffic lane. The way it is now, cars are turning across an open lane of traffic. No wonder right hook accidents and near misses are so prevalent.

    I have been nearly hooked so many times that refuse to expose myself to the hazard, and I do not pass cars that are in motion at intersections unless we have made eye contact and have negotiated right-of-way. Drivers that do it correctly get receive a wave and smile, drivers who fail to perform their duties receive a stern frown.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bjorn October 15, 2007 at 8:42 am

    #28 I agree with what you said about the bike lanes near the crystal ballroom being used as parking spaces. It has been great to hear support from the employees there, and I think one proactive thing they could do would be to try to work with the ballroom to find a better place to park tour buses. Big shows often seem to mean 1 or 2 large vehicles will be blocking the bike lane out front.

    It is illegal for anyone not meeting some pretty tightly defined reasons to park in the bike lane, you didn\’t happen to get the officers name who told you that he couldn\’t do anything about it did you?

    Bjorn

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John Boyd October 15, 2007 at 8:53 am

    Solutions that shift rights from cyclists to motorists ignore reality; ratio of cyclists to motorists is rising and vulnerable road users are being killed in increasing number.

    The kind of thinking that writes these facts off as a cost of business is on the way out.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Greg Raisman October 15, 2007 at 9:08 am

    John Boyd: I agree that policy and practice needs continue making progress towards more bike-friendliness. The good news is that you\’re partially wrong in your comment.

    This part of your comment doesn\’t jibe with what we\’re experiencing here in Portland.

    \”…and vulnerable road users are being killed in increasing number.\”

    For the past 30 years, we have ranged from 0-5 bicycle fatalities. This year is bad with 4 to date. We average about 2. In 2006, where there was a big increase in ridership, there were 0 bicycle fatalities.

    We are definitely experiencing a reduction in crash rate for cyclists as the number of cyclists grows.

    Check out this presentation for more background.

    ftp://ftp.trans.ci.portland.or.us/raisman/Indianapolis/State%20of%20Safety%202007.ppt

    There is obviously still a lot of work to to be done.

    Thanks.
    Greg Raisman
    Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership
    Portland Office of Transportation
    (503) 823-1052

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • pushkin October 15, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Many posters here have commented on the apologetic remarks of Lt. Kruger (\”Motorists have been conditioned for 100 years that no one is going to pass them on the right.\”), and for a good many reasons.

    However, what I found even more troubling was the Oregonian\’s near-editorialized and apologetic paragraph preceding it:

    \”Lt. Mark Kruger of the Portland Police Bureau\’s traffic division counters that Oregon\’s current law puts an impossible requirement on drivers making right turns to spot cyclists in blind spots or unexpected positions.\”

    Both the Oregonian and Lt. Kruger seem to be suggesting that our laws are not well-thought out and are at odds with how Oregonians see fit to govern themselves. Lt. Kruger says that things would be better if we acted like Californians, he even goes so far infer, and the Oregonian editorializes, that the law is impossible to comply with.

    I take strong issue with this for the following reasons. First, Lt. Kruger should not second guess the Oregon legislature. If he, the chief law enforcement officer of our city, cannot enforce the laws of Oregon and doubts the reasoned conclusions of our elected officials who passed and enacted those laws then he should not occupy the position he is in. It is the job of the police to enforce the laws as they are written, and not to interpret those laws, provide critiques of them or to exonerate violators of those laws by deeming them unenforceable.

    If the law says we need trigger locks on guns to protect children and a child dies from playing with an unlocked gun, is the appropriate response of a law enforcement officer to be: \”It is impossible to expect people to obey this law, therefore it is really the fault of the child who shot himself?\”

    Second, the California comparison is absolutely beside the point. What on earth does another state or country\’s laws have to do with Oregon? As stated above, our officials have passed laws that reflect us and our way of doing things, and for good reason. We are not California. The Oregonian is again editorializing under the guise of fair, fact based reporting. Their angle smells of blaming the victim, i.e. if we looked at the world through another state\’s laws Lacey\’s death wouldn\’t have happened. The prominent graphics on the front page detailing the two laws only enforce this point. How insulting.

    Last, driving is a privilege with attendant responsbilities that if not followed can lead to the worst of consequences. If it means that the rules of the road are too complex for the majority and that only the most intelligent and responsible who pass a very difficult licensing process can be granted a license, then so be it. Driving is not a right.

    Thank you Jonathan for keeping the Oregonian honest and for calling them on their bias and slip-shod reporting.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • a.O October 15, 2007 at 9:38 am

    And thank you, pushkin, for eloquently explaining the problem with the Oregonian\’s piece and with Kruger\’s statements.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matt Picio October 15, 2007 at 10:33 am

    Thanks, pushkin – any chance you can post that to the editorial comments of the Oregonian story? That\’s as well-worded a summary as any I\’ve ever seen.

    And let\’s not forget, as observed earlier – this particular incident had nothing to do with a cyclist passing on the right at \”high speed\” – Kruger\’s remarks were blatantly inappropriate for this specific incident.

    Additionally, the California law would not have prevented this collision in the first place – trucks MUST turn wide (i.e. from the car traffic lane, not the bike lane) in order to negotiate the turn without clipping the pole on the corner and without turning into oncoming traffic on Burnside.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matt Picio October 15, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Options for this situation would be:

    1. Redesign the bike lane so traffic does not cross it at the intersection – have the lanes cross 1/2 block back
    2. Remove the bike lane and let cyclists take the lane
    3. Prohibit truck traffic from turning right onto Burnside at that intersection (probably not a valid option)
    4. Change state law to require all commercial trucks to carry a passenger who can verify the right-side blind spot is clear by looking out the window. (not only does this provide direct line-of-sight, it reduces the cognitive load on the driver)

    Note that #4 would have legal liability reprecussions.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • DK October 15, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Front mounted convex mirrors for all trucks or mounted on telephone poles at hazardous intersections.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Anonymous October 15, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    #48 Being able to filter forward in gridlock is one of the advantages of being on a bicycle. Legally being allowed to pass on the right actually eliminates the need for bike lanes downtown, and the false sense of safety those bike lanes provide. Without the bike lane, filtering forward or passing on the right is clearly done at your own risk, a bike lane implies a margin of safety that simply doesn\’t exist, in fact IMO just the opposite is true, the downtown bike lanes create more hazards than they eliminate.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 15, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    #48 Being able to filter forward in gridlock is one of the advantages of being on a bicycle. Legally being allowed to pass on the right actually eliminates the need for bike lanes downtown, and the false sense of safety those bike lanes provide. Without the bike lane, filtering forward or passing on the right is clearly done at your own risk; whereas a bike lane implies a margin of safety that simply doesn\’t exist, in fact IMO just the opposite is true, the downtown bike lanes create more hazards (both dooring and right hook) than they eliminate.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dolan October 15, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Not sure if this has been brought up before (it probably has, but this thread is really really long now) — in Holland, at many of the intersections, when the light changes, cyclists go first (for maybe ten seconds), *then* cars can go. This largely avoids the issue as any pent up demand in the bike lane clears before any car turns right. Add in sensors in the bike lane and you\’re done.

    Gotta agree about the helmet comment — crazy how many people I see riding without one. I wish nobody needed to, but it\’s really a simple decision in this country.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Peter W October 15, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    I sent a comment to the Mayor similar to my comment in #10. Here is Tom\’s response:

    Thank you for emailing about Lt. Kruger\’s comments. I feel that Lt. Kruger was plainly expressing his assessment of the risks out there for bicyclists and motorists. As a Lieutenant in the Traffic Bureau, he is in a position to observe those risks and I think his perspective is well worth considering.

    Sincerely,

    Tom Potter
    Mayor

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • a.O October 15, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Lame answer from a lame duck mayor.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Resident October 15, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    City of Portland seems to think that cameras make for the best traffic enforcement and change agaentsa for driving behavior. I\’m sure they could spend a WHOLE BUNCHA MONEY on some \”Right Hook\” camera\’s at the hot spots…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Qwendolyn October 15, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    \”
    This part of your comment doesn\’t jibe with what we\’re experiencing here in Portland.

    \’…and vulnerable road users are being killed in increasing number.\’

    …We are definitely experiencing a reduction in crash rate for cyclists as the number of cyclists grows.\”

    –Both of these statements are true. One is a rate, the other is a number.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Graham October 15, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    From the KATU article:

    \”Bike boxes are clearly defined spaces for cyclists that exist in front of stopped vehicles at traffic signals rather than on the side of vehicles. An example can be seen here or by visiting the corner of 39th and Clinton in southeast Portland.

    Located throughout Europe, the idea is to have cyclists congregate in front of drivers and to eliminate any blind spots.

    Lt. Mark Kruger of the Portland Police Bureau\’s traffic division disagrees, saying big boxes may not be the most feasible idea because they take up so much space and would require a massive amount of work.\”

    \”So much space\”? Aren\’t bike boxes something like half a car length? Or a car length at most?

    \”Massive amount of work\”? Painting some stripes?

    Neither excuse has kept the Europeans from placing them \”throughout Europe.\”

    This guy really drags down my respect for the police.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Graham October 15, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    #29

    \”Exactly. This is the double-standard that has been thrown around ever since the truck driver killed Tracey.

    If he\’d turned right across a car lane and killed someone in a mini or some other small car, no one would be saying that the car shouldn\’t have been in the truck\’s blind spot. They would be saying, correctly, that the truck driver has the responsibility of finding out what\’s in the blind spot *before* crossing the lane.

    The circular logic of the victim-blamers is that because you are vulnerable, you don\’t really have the same rights as someone better protected. It reveals that most people still think of cyclists as second-class citizens. This kind of thinking is dangerously irrational at best, but when it is used to excuse the death of someone like Tracey, IT IS JUST PLAIN SICKENING.\”

    Well said, and worth repeating.

    I think what puts bikers in the second-class category is the notion – especially prevalent in the U.S. – that might makes right. That, coupled with the sense of entitlement drivers have, pushes anyone not encased in two thousand pounds of metal into the category of an annoyance at best, or, at worst, a target. To be fair, the cards are so stacked in favor of driving in the States – after all, there\’s plenty of places you almost need a car to survive – that you can see how drivers feel like driving is a right, and that cars have more rights than bikes. But they\’re wrong, and they need to be told that.

    Kruger\’s one of the guys who should be doing the telling, but… he ain\’t.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Garlynn -- undergroundscience.blogspot.com October 15, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    You know, in Europe they\’ve known about this problem for some time now, and have actually legislated a solution for it:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/insideout/content/articles/2007/10/02/london_cycle_deaths_12_3_feature.shtml

    All new trucks are now mandated to carry special \”blind spot\” mirrors that allow them to see pedestrians and bicyclists who might otherwise be in the blind spot adjacent to the vehicle. These mirrors used to be common on trucks, but were eliminated in recent years for unknown reasons. Now, 2007-year trucks and newer must have the mirrors.

    The problem is worldwide, folks, not just in Oregon and California. Let\’s cast the net a little wider to search for solutions.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Hanmade October 15, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    So for now, the right lane at an intersection should be treated as HIGHLY DANGEROUS. A suggestion: Hang a sign up by the traffic light that the motorist is watching that says: RIGHT TURN, WATCH FOR BIKES. Hopefully, this will remind them TO LOOK FIRST before they turn.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 15, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    \”Hang a sign up by the traffic light that the motorist is watching that says: RIGHT TURN, WATCH FOR BIKES.\”

    I agree Hanmade. It\’s too bad we don\’t respect bike travel lanes enough to sign them like we do motor vehicle lanes. Here\’s the sign I wish was hung on Burnside at SW 14th…
    \"yield

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Kristen October 15, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    News flash, people: Cars already line up in the bike lane to turn right.

    Try riding around Tigard some time, every intersection without a dedicated right-turn lane will have a similar line of cars trying to turn right by getting over into the bike lane and bypassing all the cars waiting in the car lane for the light to change.

    Hey, maybe the \”bike lobby\” can bargain with the police: you get the Cali law, we get the Idaho law.

    Sigh. This whole conversation is turning into a waste of time.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 15, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    #66 Right turn on red would also need to be eliminated. That\’s not a real stretch, though, RTOR is the ultimate \’motorist first\’ law and is extremely hazardous to pedestrians, and, to a lesser extent, cyclists.

    NY State allows RTOR but they are banned in Manhattan and possibly the rest of NYC as well.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 15, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    RE: right turn on red.

    through all this discussion (BTA was on the Lars Larson show this AM), it amazes me how EVERYTHING suggested to help this safety issue first must go through a filter of convenience of what works for motor vehicle travel.

    our highest priority should be given to encouraging the safe and efficient movement of 1) the most vulnerable roadway users (bikes and peds) and 2) the type of user our city would like to see more of (bicycles, not cars).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • naess October 15, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    #77 it may have changed by now, but in \’95 there were no legal RTOR lights in germany, with the exception of a few around berlin. didn\’t seem to hurt traffic flow there at all.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Donna October 15, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    Please excuse me if I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but I would very much like to see the proof that there is a reduction in the number of cyclist right hooks in California (or any other state where motor vehicles can enter the bike lane to make a right turn)as compared to Oregon.

    What statistics are you supporters of allowing motor vehicles in the bike lane to make a right turn drawing from as the basis of your opinion?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 15, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    that\’s a question for Lt. Kruger, don\’t you think?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Todd Boulanger October 16, 2007 at 12:25 am

    To follow up on #71 and from the KATU article:

    \”Bike boxes are clearly defined spaces for cyclists that exist in front of stopped vehicles at traffic signals rather than on the side of vehicles.

    Lt. Mark Kruger of the Portland Police Bureau\’s traffic division disagrees, saying big boxes may not be the most feasible idea because they take up so much space and would require a massive amount of work.\”

    I guess Lt Kruger is now a traffic engineer or urban planner…perhaps when he has a fire arm question he call call me. (Has he bicycled in a bike box yet – I wonder?)

    BIKE BOXES 101
    …yes there are trade offs to installing bike boxes (as with any traffic control device or facility):
    - more space: image that a bike box is a second crosswalk of sorts for bikes set 12\’ back of pedestrian crosswalks connected to a bike lane(many jursidictions and police departments are pulling stop bars back from crosswalks to improve motorist compliance with crosswalks/ traffic signals, etc. – at distances up to 30 feet to reduce double threat situations for multilane crossings)
    - traffic signals: yes loop detectors have to be placed in new locations further back from the crosswalk/ stop bar
    - road capacity: yes there may be less queuing space per block for cars (0.5 per lane per block)

    But in the end is not road user safety paramount with the traffic division (and the City)?

    Many of the above negatives are positives when they are included in street reconstruction/ maintenance activities…loops have to be repaired/ replaced over time as they wear out (or are cut by utility crews); more bicycles in the street mean more traffic capacity per block, less RTOR is best for pedestrians too…so things tend to even out if planned well Lt. Kruger.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Antonio Gramsci October 16, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    For once Kruger the Nazi memorabilia fan is actually on to something: Get rid of bike lanes as anything but a cosmetic concept (that\’s all they ever were anyway). Let all vehicles, motorized and nonmotorized, position themselves in advance in the appropriate part of the roadway for their intended direction of travel, at all times. It\’s very simple and enforceable. All it requires is education.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul Tay October 16, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Yep. The problem is the bike lane itself. Lose it and nobody gets confused.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Lisa October 16, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    The problem of a potentially right-turning lane to the left of a through-going lane has already been solved, in a way that could also work for bike lanes, given the civic will: treat the lanes as if they were separate streets entering the intersection. Each lane has its own traffic signal. While the bike lane has a green light, the vehicle lane has a straight-ahead green arrow and a right-turn red arrow (no right turn). While the vehicle lane has a straight-ahead green arrow and a right-turn green arrow, the bike lane has a red light (stay put). While cross traffic has any green light, both lanes have a red light. No right turns on red, at these intersections.

    A similar solution could work at stop signs: treat the lanes as if they were separate streets entering a 4-way stop; whoever gets there first has the right of way.

    These rules would eliminate the possibility of someone rolling into a blind spot and having the right of way over someone who can’t see them, yet would preserve bike lanes up to and through intersections.

    It would slow both cars and bikes a little through busy intersections. It would also require both drivers and riders to stop at red lights and stop signs. As a driver and a rider, that would be OK with me.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob October 16, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    Re; Lisa\’s comment: that might work with the lights. Probably does work with stop signs. There is still a problem at intersections that don\’t have lights or signs, because a motorist might want to turn right while a bike wants to proceed straight ahead.

    Sometimes motorists are stuck in traffic while bikes are cruising past in the bike lane. Then as a motorist creeps to an unsigned/lit intersection, they often suddenly change their mind about direction, and opt for turning from the thoroughfare they\’re on to beat the traffic hold-up. You know how it goes… . There\’s a real learning curve to think about turning the signal on, looking in the rear/sideview mirror for any approaching bikes,(because they\’re way harder to see in the mirror than a car), and determining accurately when to safely turn.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Antonio Gramsci October 17, 2007 at 11:34 am

    I don\’t like the idea of depending on a whole new battery of complex signals, particularly ones that create invidious disparities between different kinds of vehicles, motorized and nonmotorized, and to top it off, the need to create a whole new set of laws and regulations and training to prepare cyclists and motorists for them. Why would we want to embark on such a project when there is really no proof that the existing, simple, commonsense approach of vehicular cycling is unworkable? The latter requires no new infrastructure or laws, only better training to use the existing infrastructure correctly.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Lisa October 17, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Antonio, if you\’re responding to my post… I\’m in fact suggesting treating car lanes and bike lanes identically, applying existing signal conventions and laws, which people are already familiar with, to bike lanes. This would eliminate, not create, disparities. I have no particular opinion for or against vehicular cycling, although personally I do generally appreciate and feel much safer in a designated lane to the side of faster traffic. (I also feel that I am less of an unpredictable obstacle to drivers in such a lane.) What I think is nuts is creating this lane and then making no accommodation for it in intersection traffic control. This is an institutionalized invitation to disaster.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob October 17, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    I meant to say also, but forgot in my comment #86, that it would be really helpful to get a traffic light engineer/technician\’s word on what\’s involved in adding a light for the bike lane to intersections. Sounds as though it would mean another light change cycle, adding to wait times that are already long at some intersections.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Lisa October 17, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Well, theoretically at least, if the bike lane green light were triggered only by the actual presence of a bike, the wait time would be no longer than it would be now if the right-turning driver(s) actually saw the bike and yielded. In fact, it could be shorter if, when the car got there first, it could get the green light first. I agree though that a professional opinion (not mine) would be valuable.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob October 17, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    It\’s still an idea worth checking out. Great input Lisa. I think there really needs to be some reminder at intersections to bikes and motor vehicles, that both may be present. Those red-green turn arrows work great in my opinion, because they\’re right up in a road users field of vision where I\’d say people\’s concentration is mostly directed while they\’re waiting for the light to change…. when they\’re not talking on the cell, eating, reading, tuning the radio, etc. etc. .

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SKiDmark October 17, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Tracey Sparling was hit by a cement mixer, I don\’t think a helmet would have saved her. Kris Okins was wearing a helmet (and riding a track bike WITH a front brake) and she still died when she was hit by a big truck, also in a bike lane. The thing that would have save both their lives is if the drivers of the trucks that hit them were paying better attention to what they were doing, and not running over cyclists.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob October 17, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    SKIDmark, maybe you\’re ahead of me on this; I have yet to read of exactly what injuries Tracey Sparling received that led to her death, though their have been conflicting conclusions drawn in news reports and comments made.

    Some seem to have concluded that Tracey was run over, the weight of the truck crushing her body. A few comments seem to conclude that her injuries were confined to head injuries sustained as her head struck the asphalt.

    It it\’s the latter, why would a helmet not have possibly been the saving grace to this tragic incident.

    In terms of safety for everyone on the road, there may not be such a thing as too much attention on the part of motor vehicle drivers to what\’s going on around them, but relying too heavily on their ability to adequately do that is asking for trouble. Everybody makes mistakes at one point or another.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Antonio Gramsci October 18, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    I think one of the most weighty arguments AGAINST bike lanes, which is completely validated by my personal experience, is that drivers CAN, ALREADY DO, AND WILL use their absence as a pretext to harass cyclists who lawfully use roads where no bike lanes are painted.

    What is needed is not separate facilities, but education. If you are going to take the trouble to educate motorists well enough to know that bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities on the road as motor vehicles, then why the need for bike lanes? And why send them mixed messages by creating separate, specialized facilities?

    Having said this, I\’m not fanatical about the matter: I think bike lanes have their place — but mainly as a psychological aid for novice cyclists, to make them feel more comfortable venturing out on busy roads for the first time. However, unless they are planned very carefully, they can become the greatest hazard to novice cyclists, as well as a major liability for experienced cyclists.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Shana October 18, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    \”Having said this, I\’m not fanatical about the matter: I think bike lanes have their place — but mainly as a psychological aid for novice cyclists, to make them feel more comfortable venturing out on busy roads for the first time.\”

    Thanks for mentioning this Antonio. I didn\’t learn to ride a bike until I was 20 (w/ 4 years of driving experience) and the existing bike lanes were the #1 reason I chose to brave the streets.

    Even if it was irrational for me to feel safer in the bike lane….I was there, and am still there now. One more bicycle on the road thanks to bike lanes.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Vehicular Cyclist January 14, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Kruger is sort of correct about motorists and their turning habits. But this piece of traffic law is not simply tradition, it is based heavily on human capacity and ability to judge conflicts (as are most traffic laws). In no other realm of traffic law do traffic engineers require vehicles to combine a merge and turn into one maneuver, then swerve across another lane of traffic to make a turn. Imagine instituting this concept for exiting onto an interstate off-ramp. Maybe require semi-trucks to make this type of turn, while passenger cars occupy the right-hand lane and see how safely it can be done (the semi/car size ration is probably about equal to the car/bike size ratio).

    Both speed and destination positioning are based heavily on human capacity: the fact that multiple conflicts are difficult to address in a limited time window, the fact that humans only have eyes on the front of their heads, and thus have to turn their head to observe a wide conflict area, and the fact that the right side of a motor vehicle is the biggest blind spot are only a few reasons why merging and turning are made into separate maneuvers and overtaking on the right is risky, especially for a less conspicuous cyclist.

    If bicycles always traveled slower than cars and never overtook them, bike lanes would indicate the appropriate location to ride. This doesn\’t happen in the real world, and overtaking slower traffic on the right is hence extremely dangerous.

    I also highly doubt changing the law in the books will make any noticeable change in motorist behavior, unless PPD starts heavily enforcing this law. It\’s mostly immaterial as long as the bike lane stripe is there. Go ride in California and you\’ll see much of the same behavior, motorists aren\’t used to merging halfway into a lane and straddling the lane line.

    Picture removing the bike lane stripe on any given road (retain the same roadway space). Motorists are then likely to merge closer to the curb for right turns, cyclists merge left and overtake safely on the left, clear of the turn. It\’s faster and safer, you just have to get comfortable with looking back and merging into thru traffic. This is informally called a wide curb lane.

    And cyclists \”rights\”? I\’m definitely not one of those \”cyclists\” that feels my rights are being infringed to use bike lanes. I want my rights back to use the road as I need to (like cyclist originally had, oh, 40 years ago), not some 3 foot wide section of broken pavement full of debris or in the door zone of parked cars. The road used to be the bike facility, no we\’re legally compelled to use a fraction of that space, and at great cost to safety. I can hardly see this as infringement on our rights, more like begging for crumbs.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Acegear May 12, 2008 at 8:03 am

    So am I missing something or hasn\’t OR law already addressed this with ORS 811.440? In part is says, \”2) A person may operate a motor vehicle upon a bicycle lane when:(a) Making a turn;\”.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • El Biciclero May 12, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Acegear– I believe the statute you refer to is interpreted to mean that autos may cross the bike lane while actually turning, not use the bike lane to approach a turn, as is done in CA.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

- Daily bike news since 2005 -
BikePortland.org is a production of
PedalTown Media Inc.
321 SW 4th Ave, Ste. 401
Portland, OR 97204

Powered by WordPress. Theme by Clemens Orth.
Subscribe to RSS feed


Original images and content owned by Pedaltown Media, Inc. - Not to be used without permission.