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Report from the bike safety meeting and press conference

Posted by on October 26th, 2007 at 2:20 pm

bike safety meeting and press conference-12.jpg
A large crowd in City Hall.
Slideshow below
(Photos © Jonathan Maus)

Just four days after the second fatal bicycle crash in as many weeks, City Commissioner Sam Adams called together an “emergency meeting” to discuss the issues and brainstorm solutions to improve bike safety in our city. Following the meeting was a press conference that was jam-packed with concerned citizens and the local media.

Around the table of the closed-door session were close to thirty people from a variety of backgrounds. Below is a partial list of attendees:

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Inside the meeting.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)
  • Chuch Sparks – Multnomah County District Attorney
  • Ann Gardner – Schnitzer Steel, Chair, Freight Advisory Committee
  • Bob Russell – President, Oregon Truckers Association
  • David Worboril – City Attorney
  • Rosie Sizer – Police Chief
  • Vince Jarmer – Captain, Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division
  • Mark Kruger – Lieutenant, Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division
  • Rob Burchfield – Head Traffic Engineer, PDOT
  • Paul Smith – Head Transportation Planner, PDOT
  • Troy Costales – Manager, Transportation Safety Division, ODOT
  • Scott Bricker – Executive Director, BTA
  • Tom McClellan – Manager, Program Services, Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Lidwien Rahman – Board Member, Willamette Pedestrian Coalition
  • Barb Grover – The Bike Gallery
  • Karl Rohde – Governmental Relations and Public Affairs, BTA
  • Susan Otcenas – BTA Board member
  • Robert Pickett – PPB Officer, SE Precinct
  • Ed Abrahamson – Multnomah County
  • Basil Christopher – Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, ODOT Region 1
  • Greg Raisman – Traffic Safety, PDOT

According to the agenda passed around, the stated purpose of the meeting was to “Develop a package of truck/bike improvements that will achieve immediate and sustained safety results.”

As we went around and introduced ourselves it became clear that this was a high-powered group. As you can see from the list above, there were high-level people from all the “Four E’s” of Encouragement, Enforcement (PPB), Engineering, and Education.

It’s no secret that when Adams — who oversees PDOT in his role as Transportation Commissioner — puts a high priority on an issue, he wants things to happen as fast as possible (or “as is prudent” he says). Today, it was clear that he is very concerned about bike safety and he is ready to do something about it.

After we all introduced ourselves, Adams presented an overview of how the Platinum Bicycle Master Plan and the Freight Master Plan were related. He said, “We are a bike city as well as a trade city.” With both of our recent fatalities coming at the hands of large trucks, Adams is re-invigorating the conversation about how we plan for future increases in both bike use and truck traffic.

Adams used this meeting to tap the collective wisdom of the assembled experts. His first order of business was to ask us what we thought the problem was. He called on people randomly for their input. The ideas touched on many of the issues the 800 or so comments on this site have brought up over the past week.

All the while, Adams’ staffer Jesse Beason scribbled everything on huge sheets of paper. All the ideas will be organized, typed up, and then delivered to everyone in advance of our next meeting three weeks from now. (That meeting will be open to the public so stay tuned for details.)

After defining the existing problems, Adams turned to PDOT’s bicycle coordinator Roger Geller. Geller gave a presentation on the statistical analysis of bike/freight/auto crashes.

Between 2002 and 2006 the Police Bureau completed 221 detailed crash investigations that involved bicycles. Of those, Geller said, the “right hook” was the most prominent type of crash with 9.5% (cyclists running stop signs was #2, accounting for 8%).

Adams asked Geller to discuss the pros and cons of “the two pre-dominant” ideas for intersection improvements: bike boxes and the police-proposed California-style bike lane law (where motorists can legally enter the bike lane before making a right turn). We also heard Lt. Mark Kruger’s perspective on both of these ideas.

PDOT put together a very detailed and comprehensive analysis on bike safety in Portland for this meeting. You can download it on CommissionerSam.com.

There was an interesting discussion about the enforcement issues with City Attorney David Worboril. He discussed the infamous “failure to yield law” and he answered questions and tried to clarify the citation policy that has been so frustrating and confusing for many.

Out of respect for the confidentiality of this meeting, I won’t go into more detail right now. However, you can be assured I will be covering this more next week.

At the end of the meeting, Adams passed around a sheet with a long list of ideas and potential solutions from an engineering, enforcement, and education standpoint. We went down the list, offered our feedback, and added new ideas as necessary.

I feel like this meeting was a solid first step. Important issues were brought to the table, and it was very encouraging to have representatives from so many different areas get an education about bike issues. All the people that are in a position to vastly improve bike safety were at this meeting. Now, the challenge will be to agree on solutions, and then implement them.
___

PDOT has just released the following list of potential solutions:

Potential infrastructure solutions

*Treating 14 of the city’s top difficult intersections, which will include N. Interstate at Greeley and SW 14th Avenue at Burnside, with a “bike box” to reduce bicycle crashes referred to as a left and right “hook”. Here are the 14 locations:

  • 1. North Interstate Avenue and North Greeley Avenue.
  • 2. Northeast Broadway and North Williams Avenue
  • 3. Northwest Lovejoy Street and Northwest Ninth Avenue
  • 4. Northwest Broadway and Northwest Hoyt Street
  • 5. Northwest Everett Street and Northwest 16th Avenue
  • 6. Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and Southeast Seventh Avenue
  • 7. Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and Southeast 11th Avenue
  • 8. Southwest 14th Avenue and W. Burnside Street
  • 9. Southwest Broadway and Southwest Taylor Street
  • 10. Southwest Broadway and Southwest Jefferson Street
  • 11. Southwest Broadway and Southwest Clay Street
  • 12. Southwest Madison and Southwest Third Avenue
  • 13. Southwest Sixth Avenue and SW Broadway
  • 14. Southwest Terwilliger Boulevard and Southwest Taylor’s Ferry Road

*Bike box at stop bar at intersection

  • 1) Skip-stripes, with or without color, through intersection with bike box
  • 2) Widen bike lane at intersection
  • 3) Bike warning sign activated by bike loop
  • 4) Right turn on red lights with bike boxes

Potential equipment solutions

  • Equipping trucks with mirrors to eliminate blind spots
  • Equipping trucks with side guards to prevent people from being pulled under the vehicle
  • Equipping bicycles with mirrors and noisemakers

Potential enforcement and crash investigation solutions

  • Police enforcement (including “right hook” police stings) and crash investigation policies
  • Jail time for drivers with suspended licenses

Potential education solutions

  • Department of Motor Vehicles supplemental urban driver’s guide and testing
  • Enhanced truck driver education for urban truck drivers
  • Enhancements to existing programs like Share the Road, See and Bee Seen (Light the bike, see the bike), and I Brake for People

I was happy to see a large turnout of at least 100 people (mostly all cyclists) at the press conference.

Below is an audio clip of Sam Adams’ opening statements at the press conference. Others that spoke included Roger Geller, lawyer Mark Ginsberg, trucking representative Bob Russell, Lt. Mark Kruger, and the BTA’s Scott Bricker.

Sam Adams opening statements:

If you attended the press conference, what did you think? Please share your thoughts.

A slideshow from the meeting and the press conference is below.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

NOTE: Check out the comments and consider leaving one of your own over on CommissionerSam.com.

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Comments
  • jt October 26, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Is ther a list of representatives in the actual meeting? Was it comprehensive?

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  • Paul Cone October 26, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    I was very happy to hear that right-hook stings are going to happen, and also (finally!) an explanation as to why no citations have been issued yet (per the DA).

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  • Klixi October 26, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Will the right hook stings be with police officers on bicycles? This is fantastic to hear, if it is the case!

    What was the explanation of no citations in the Rinker and AAG driver situations?

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  • Doug October 26, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    One thing that Sam said really stuck out to me, that being that both investigations are ongoing and that driver culpability has not yet been ruled out. Also that it is standard practice for police not to issue citations at the scene of a fatal accident.

    Being as this is the case, I find Lt. Kruger\’s statements to the press claiming that both drivers shared no fault to be outrageous. A massive opportunity for driver education has been squandered, and we should all find that unacceptable.

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  • JayS. October 26, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    What was that explination?

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  • b October 26, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    i was pleased to hear what most people had to say.

    though, after hearing kruger speak…i was convinced that he really is a souless robot.
    however, sam said that he enjoyed his exchanged with kruger in the meeting that preceded.
    so i\’ll just have to trust that maybe someday we\’ll see a positive change in kruger-related events.
    i can\’t really picture it yet….but i\’m hoping.

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  • Carl October 26, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    First: I was very impressed with the turnout.

    Overall, I thought the message was good, with a promise of evenhandedly increased Education, Enforcement, and Engineering for all roadway users.

    The idea of loop detectors for bikes turning on some sort of \”watch for bikes\” light on Interstate, sounds like one of the few signage-type options that\’ll really work. Great idea.

    I love the fact that Sam lists Motorists, Cyclists, Pedestrians, and SKATEBOARDERS as road users. Seriously–that\’s awesome.

    Kruger and the fellow from the trucking industry stuck to safe statements and kept it short. The trucking guy got cornered by reporters but Kruger appeared to have used some sort of secret trap door in order to magically disappear.

    Some fellow made an ass of himself by whingeing about the community being excluded from this closed-door meeting (by interrupting Mark Ginsberg, no less!). Sam rightly pointed out the many chances we\’ve had and will have to speak our minds about these issues.

    Scott Bricker did a good job of putting the situation into perspective and reminding us that bicycling is safe and getting safer in Portland encouraging us all to ride in order to make it even safer.

    Overall, good things were said and, more importantly, I think good things will be done soon.

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  • Concerned October 26, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    The reference to getting the DMV involved is a positive step among some of the others. The talk of money for safety updates could very easily come from a dramatic increase in DL fee\’s and renewels with a substantial test every 5 or so years. A test that a 16-yr old doesn\’t take in Spanish just to make it a challenge.

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  • jp October 26, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    b #4, that was the first time I\’ve seen/heard Kruger and I agree that he seems like an empty vessel. I was hoping he would say something about drivers since that seems to be his \’thing\’ in all of this but instead he talked about the lights and being seen…well, there\’s two parts to that — yes be seen AND someone has to be looking for you.

    Overall, it was great attending today. I definately plan to be at the town hall meetings. We need to start representing, bikers!

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  • Jasun Wurster October 26, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    With the group of cyclists at the closed door meeting (Jonathan, Mark Ginsberg, Rodger Geller and others) I am sure that more \’frank\’ concerns were aired. It appears that engineering was the big push to solve the issues from the press conference. I feel that the issue of education of current drivers and enforcement of the new engineering solutions was missing. It sounded like Sam was convinced that \’bike boxes\’ (which most drivers ignore) is the solution. I think he is misguided and could use lots more input from the cycling community.

    I am elated that the meeting happened. My biggest rub is that at the press conference citizens were \’NOT\’ permitted to ask questions till after the media. This was utterly disgusting. For the mainstream media were permitted to ask their questions (which were lame and soft) while pushing out the citizens. At one point Sam seemed condescending in his response to a citizen that asked a question during \”the media\’s\” time. He also guided the citizens not to express dismay with the Traffic Divisions mode of operation.

    I would have liked to see the media be forced to listen to the citizens questions first, so that they (the media) could report on what the concerns that the large gathering of citizens had. It seemed that the reporters were given preference over citizens.

    Sam did say that there would be ample opportunity for us to express our concerns and the onus is on us to do that. Though it would be more accurate to have the media report on those meetings with the same interest as this nice shiny (yet lacking real information) press conference.

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  • b October 26, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    i agree with a lot of carl\’s points as well.

    and i\’m really thankful for all the work that ginsberg, adams, bricker, geller, etc… do for this city.
    (even when theres an occasional hoo-haw who thinks it would be a good idea to interrupt them and whine).

    kudos to sam for politely reminding him that the community has had MANY opportunities to weigh in on these issues for months/years (and will have more in the future). maybe that guy will get motivated to starting making those meetings a priority.

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  • Dan (teknotus) October 26, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    There wasn\’t much that I hadn\’t heard before, but then I read a lot, and go to almost as many events as I have time. It was nice to see that all of the sides were talking, and they managed to condense the important things into such a short presentation. I agreed with Sam Adams with it being a closed door meeting. Considering that trucking played it so safe in the press conference I don\’t think that anything would have gotten done that involved the truckers if the whole mass that came for the press conference had been allowed in.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 26, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    \”One thing that Sam said really stuck out to me, that being that both investigations are ongoing and that driver culpability has not yet been ruled out. Also that it is standard practice for police not to issue citations at the scene of a fatal accident.\”

    Yes, that\’s true. I could have made both these points more clear in my reporting.

    The DA is looking at the case and still has the option to bring charges. However, all parties I\’ve heard from feel that the DA will not find any criminal wrongdoing in either case.

    The DA takes some cue from the recommendations of the police investigators and from what I\’ve from quotes and conversations with Kruger is that in both cases the PPB did not recommend any charges be brought.

    Also, I need to make some calls to find out if there is a specific law about not issuing citations for blatant violations when there\’s a fatality.

    If that\’s the PPB\’s stated policy, it needs to be codified in the law.

    ALSO…regardless of the police bureau\’s citation policy, they still need to do a better job of presenting the facts to the media after these incidents.

    In the two fatals and one serious injury crash on Marine Drive, I think the PPB\’s statements carried by the media did not present the facts in a fair and objective way. And in the case of Marine Drive, some very key points were completely left out (more on that later.)

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  • b October 26, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    thank you for making calls about that law stuff jonathan. i\’m curious as well.

    great information.

    and it\’s very awesome to have you working so hard on all of this.

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  • vespa October 26, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    agreed on all the media stuff, but police policy need not be codified into law. that\’s just the way it works.

    also, when you get in an accident in your car and call the police, unless there is a blatant infraction or crime, ie, DUI, drugs, driving w/o a license, most of the time, the police will not issue a citation. maybe that has to do with it being a no fault state. because the police were not there to witness the incident, they necessarily cannot comment on what happened. If a witness comes forward during the investigation, however, and the DA sees that enough evidence exists to cite and convict a party to the accident, then charges might follow. while it appears that the driver in this instance was at fault due to a \”right hook,\” no one witnessed the incident. no DUI. no drugs. no citation. remember, a driver can fight a citation, and without sufficient evidence, it will be dismissed. if no one is there to testify, what evidence do they have to go on? while I loathe Kruger\’s attitude, who is to say that if they cited the driver, the citation would stick?

    this appears to be a terrible hole in our justice system, but one I am not sure how to fill other than by education and avoidance. Please tell me if I am wring, but I hope more can be done.

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  • N.I.K. October 26, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    maybe that guy will get motivated to starting making those meetings a priority.

    If it\’s who I\’m thinking it might have been, it\’s not necessary – he already makes a lot of those meetings priority and still makes it a point to regularly claim that some conspiratorial \”keep it from the public\” maneuvers are being pulled by Sam & Co.

    You know, if. ;)

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  • Doug October 26, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    I\’m still fuzzy on some of the concepts here. Maybe I\’m the only one, so someone please help me out.

    Is there a clear distinction between \’criminal wrongdoing\’ and simple traffic infractions, i.e. failure to yield? Is the DA still empowered to issue basic infractions, or can they only deal in more serious crimes such as vehicular manslaughter, assault, etc.?

    I overheard a reporter saying before the press conference started that the reason no tickets were issued, the reason in fact that it\’s standard practice for PPB, is that a lesser infraction issued at the scene could supersede more serious charges brought later by the DA. If so, then Kruger\’s decision not to issue the tickets at the scene would be correct, only his statements implying no wrongdoing would be wrong. This would mean that, even if no \’criminal wrongdoing\’ is found, tickets could still be issued, right?

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  • Paul Cone October 26, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    While I agree it was a bit frustrating to not see the hard questions from the bike community answered, remember that this was not a meeting for the bike community — this was really a meeting for the mainstream press and the rest of the world (hence the title \”press conference\”), and I think it was targeted well. Let\’s hope the TV and radio people do their job and get the word out without too much twisting.

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  • Aaron Weiss October 26, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    Doug said: This would mean that, even if no \’criminal wrongdoing\’ is found, tickets could still be issued, right?

    From my conversations with Sgt. Schmautz, that\’s correct. If the DA doesn\’t bring criminal charges, the case goes back to the investigating officer, who could issue traffic citations.

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  • Flyingdog5000 October 26, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    Jonathan and Doug,

    To answer your questions, the reason that they choose not to issue citations in major traffic crashes is a strategic one. If they issue a cite and the individual goes to court and pleads guilty before the DA can charge him, that will preclude (in most cases) any further action against the driver under the 5th Amendment double jeopardy clause. By not citing him immediately, the police give the DA leisure to investigate fully and then make a charging decision.

    Regarding Doug\’s question; yes there is a difference. The vast majority of things you get tickets for while driving are infraction; that is, you cannot be arrested or jailed for them. Only a monetary fine is permitted. A person with convictions for most driving offenses can legally say they have no criminal record, because traffic offenses are considered essentially civil in nature and not criminal.
    Issues such as DUII, Reckless Driving, Hit&Run and many others are considered crimes and can be punishable by jail time as well as a fine. As far as the DA goes, they only handle criminal matters, so if they determine that the facts only support a infraction citation, they will typically turn that over to the police to process and issue the cite.

    Flyingdog5000

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  • BURR October 26, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    I found the statements made from the podium to be mostly warm and fuzzy platitudes and vague promises, no big surprise there.

    The proposed engineering changes seem to me to mostly consist of band aid fixes to the existing badly engineered right-hook death-trap bike lanes; none of them are actually going to go away, they are just going to be \’enhanced\’ with bike boxes, blue paint a maybe some signage. I did not hear, for example, that right on red would be banned at these high hazard intersections or that sharrows would be used to to replace any of these right-hook death-trap bike lanes.

    Very little was said / offered in the way of new education programs for motorists, other than Sam saying he has approached DMV with his concerns.

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  • el timito October 26, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    I was excited, personally, by the amount of support Sam was putting behind bike boxes. I would refrain from making judgement about bike boxes\’ likely success based on the examples at 39th & Clinton. Personally, as an informed cyclist I find they work for me, because I know I should be pushy and own that space when I\’m at that intersection.
    Once more drivers and more cyclists see more boxes and learn what they\’re there for, success will follow.

    Sam talked about having DMV add a special \”in Portland\” section to the state driver\’s manual, to inform all ODL holders that they need to be ready for a bigger mix of bikes and peds in the city, and be ready for specialized infrastructure – like bike boxes, \”bike in lane\” lights, etc.
    Sam also mentioned pushing DMV to require \”refresher\” testing (my term, not his) for license renewals, so drivers have to become acquainted with new laws (Vulnerable Users, anyone?). And including Portland-oriented questions (i.e., how to drive near bikes) on tests for Portland-based license seekers. Just bringing ODOT (and thus DMV) to the table was a major step in the right direction.

    I know that Sam and PDOT are all for more education – See & Be Seen was Sam\’s idea; I Brake for People, Safe Routes to School ed programs, the Share the Road traffic education/diversion course, and many other programs were fostered under Sam\’s watch as Transportation Commissioner. If you didn\’t hear everything you wanted in today\’s press conference, well, can you wait a couple of weeks?

    Really, the takeaway I get from this event is that Sam IS serious about safety, that he\’s willing to move decisively and make some significant efforts in the right direction (how quickly would Vera have jumped on this?), and he\’s speaking to an entire community – not just us bike geeks. Give him some thanks for doing the right thing, and save the criticisms for if he starts moving in the wrong direction.

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  • Kirsty October 26, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    Sam mentioned a number of times throughout the press conference the oppotunity for public comment on how we address this situation.

    He has set up a webpage on his blog especially to address this issue. You can read the document put together this week on how Portland can improve bicycle safety, and then leave your comments for review.

    After the two week comment period, Sam indicated there would be another stakeholder meeting with the same folks who were at the table today.

    So what are you waiting for? Go to Sam\’s webpage, and start typing!

    http://www.commissionersam.com/node/2951

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  • Paul Cone October 26, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    A PDF which includes the graphics shown at the press conference has just been posted:

    Improving Bicycle Safety in Portland 102607

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  • Tim H October 26, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Overall I thought the attention and effort being made by the commissioner and others was a positive response and set an agenda to create new standards for safely sharing the roads.

    I was disappointed by the hollow claim by the trucking industry\’s representitive that \”safety is our number one priority\”. If \”safety is our number one priority\” then the \’Blind Spot\’ defense; that you are faultless for running over and killing a person because you couldn\’t see him/her while piloting your multi ton vehicle, is unacceptable.

    I have a suggestion. Put a co-pilot in every truck driving through downtown Portland. I\’ve worked on a garbage truck. We had one guy driving and the other navigating and spotting. No blind spots.

    Give me a reason why this wouldn\’t work to make these large trucks safer. Is it too expensive? Then stand up and say \”Safety is our number two priority just after controlling costs\”. At least that would be be honest. If they can come up with a better solution, have at it. But DO SOMETHING. don\’t say \”safety is our number one priority\”, it\’s a disingenuous platitude that damages your own personal and your industry\’s credibility.

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  • BURR October 26, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    The pdf has a lot more detail, it\’s worth checking the link and reading it before commenting.

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  • Stephen October 26, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    Also, relating to the engineering fixes, Sam explained in some detail the funding mechanism that will be used to pay for the bike boxes and/or other measures that are selected to increase bike safety. Finding money in the short term is often not a specialty of large bureaucracies so knowing that there is a plan for this increases my confidence that todays words will result in actions in the near future. He mentioned $4000. x 14 intersections that they have targeted.

    I was disappointed, though, that questions from citizens were somewhat marginalized. After the media were finished asking their questions they turned the cameras off and started packing up.

    Overall, I agree that the message was good.

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  • K-Man October 26, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    Just read this on KGW:
    —snip—
    Not all bicyclists like bike boxes. Vance Longwell, who writes a blog on biking in Portland, thinks the boxes will make biking more dangerous in Portland.

    “This is going to enrage motorists,” said Longwell.

    Longwell told kgw.com the bike boxes will give drivers the wrong idea about bikers.

    “Oh I’m a poor little bike,” said Longwell, describing what drivers will think about bikers, “I’m a victim, I need a blue lane on the sidewalk just to feel safe.”
    —end—

    Who\’s this Longwell fella anyways?

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  • Matt October 26, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    I just went to Sam\’s website, and so far, it\’s pretty much all motorists leaving comments about how much they dislike bicyclists.

    Come on BikePortanders!!

    Sam is asking for your feedback on this important issue, so let him know what you think!

    You need to speak up and be heard if you want things to move forward and happen to improve safety out there on the roads for us all after the two recent tragedies.

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  • Slick October 26, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    #28 he\’s a selfish person who is out of touch with reality. he only cares about making roads how he wants them even if it works for noone but him — an agressive, athletic, former messenger (meant in a good way) who\’s been riding for more than 20 years. i\’m glad decision makers try to make the roads safer for the more average person.

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  • BURR October 26, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    ah, but you\’re deluding yourself if you really think the Interstate bike lanes are safe, with or without the blue paint and minor improvements that are proposed. I rode out to Brett\’s memorial today after the press conference and it reminded me why I don\’t use this route. narrow lanes, fast traffic, including busses and semitrucks, double wide drainage grates in the bike lane, bike lane narrows to several usable inches under a number of overpasses, etc. It\’s really just an attractive nuisance, and luring novices to such a hazardous facility is just asking for trouble; Brett was a pro and he bit it, the blue bike lanes are just a band aid.

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  • Caoimhin October 26, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    I agree with Burr (31) about the false sense of safety that the Interstate bike lanes give. I ride that route twice daily, year-round. I\’ve been right-hooked twice southbound at Russell (across from Widmer\’s). There are numerous danger spots along Interstate, too many to enumerate here. When those bike lanes first went in, I wrote to Roger Geller and told him they earned a D- on their design. The response was only excuses and rationales.

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  • PoPo October 26, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Flyingdog 5000 (#20) is right on the money. Nice explanation.

    On a side note, Critical Mass just finished. Very respectful, somber, ride, with conscientious, safe riding.

    I am proud of our biking community.

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  • erin g. October 26, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    I feel that this site should be reserved for positive, forward-moving comments and dialogue, but I must say this in response to #28 (in case I am thinking of the same guy): despite being someone who celebrates free speech and the value of diversity of opinion, my heart sank today when one tall, loud fellow in the room abruptly interrupted Commissioner Adams mid-remark, rather than diplomatically awaiting the appropriate moment. I am observant when it comes to communications tactics, always studying those that prompt productive dialogue and problem-solving and, conversely, those that hinder it. The guy to whom I refer unfortunately fell into the latter category, so hopefully the majority of productive communicators outweighed his impact on press conference attendees. First, he accused Sam Adams of failing to hold public meetings, when the fact is that, had the individual been better attuned, he’d have known that Sam continues to hold numerous open town hall meetings throughout our community in an effort to address the issues that we are concerned about (one of which I plan to attend at Sellwood Middle School next week…see you all there!). After the press conference disbanded, I quietly lingered in hopes of encouraging reporters to cover the news in a way that prompts constructive thought and discourse rather than fueling the detrimental cars vs. bikes/them vs. us mentality. Up close, I listened in alarm as the man who interrupted Sam leapt in front of rolling cameras, pulling for reporters’ attention, vigorously positioning views that I did not feel reflected the majority of our strong, thoughtful, and strategic bike community. The language was aggressive, and the approach was discourteous, closed-minded, and counterproductive from what I observed. At one point this man lashed out the BTA Executive Director, news cameras rolling, rather than respectfully engaging in dialogue offered. He cut off the speaker, noting that he “didn’t care” about what was being conveyed (at that point the BTA director was talking about his personal concern for the safety of his family while on bikes…I cringed at witnessing this behavior).

    Whereas the individual had every right to do speak out in his own way, I worried that his actions might prompt the mainstream news media to apply an impatient, uninformed, extremist, and most inaccurate face to our greater community, when- in reality- despite our vast spectrum of diversity, we are largely unified by a shared belief in taking a positive, firm, and forward-moving approach to solving problems that impact us
    (thank you, Jonathan, for always encouraging these values as we comment. The solidarity that it fosters is something remarkable that we all can be proud of).

    We work hard to seek solutions to the dangers that we face on a daily basis, and the media plays a key role in supporting or hindering our work towards increased awareness and community support. We must keep this in mind as we engage (or opt not to engage) with the media. Just as television news stations sometimes hone in on the one act of vandalism that might occur at a 99.9% peaceful antiwar protest, today I worried that one most negative voice and approach might tarnish the positive facets of what happened today at City Hall. Fortunately, it appears as though the important issues are being covered tonight more so than angry, discordant oppositionist/extremist perspectives (then again, I have no t.v., so I have not seen many reels, just those running online). What do you all think of post-press conference media coverage, beyond the given of Jonathan’s excellent work?

    Keep up the movement, everyone. I am proud to live in Portland at a time like this, despite how sad a week it has been. Jonathan, you deserve infinite thanks and support. Let us know how we can best help you (donations? Fundraising for your next trip to D.C.?) And Commissioner Adams, I much look forward to calling you “Mayor!” Thank you for all that you do, from addressing the immediate safety needs of our bike community to hosting fantastic First Thursday art receptions at City Hall…you are a gift to our city!

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  • Freaked out Motorist October 26, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    I am concerned with bike boxes. After Tracey Sparling\’s Crash, I thought they sounded like a great idea. But if I understand them right from the PDF and the stuff from the oregonian a while ago, they don\’t seem to help with when the cars are in motion. Would they have helped with Brett\’s Crash? (please understand also I am using the word \”crash\” for lack of a better term)

    As a motorist, my problem is visibility. I know to look for a cyclist if I have passed it, and I know to check my mirrors and look over my shoulder. Where I have a problem with Visibility is if a cyclist turned onto the street on I\’m and I didn\’t have a chance to pass them and know they are there – this is fine when I look over my shoulder and can see them, but I\’m worried that if there is a bend in the road I won\’t be able to see far enough back. In addition, seeing at night is a problem, especially if there is a car with bright lights or is an suv or a truck (I\’m in a smallish 4-door car). Obviously I err on the side of caution, but eventually I have to turn the corner. In scenarios like I\’ve described above, No matter how much I\’ve looked, visibility is still flawed. Do I guess then? If we can\’t guarantee 100% the ability for our streets to be visible, is that fair to cyclists or cars?

    While I am glad the meeting like the one today happened, I have to wonder if our city leaders have actually gotten in a car, driven around on a majority of the streets and really identified and evaluated the true issues.

    As I was driving home tonight, there was a large truck behind (Not commercial, more like F150 type) with extremely bright lights (Not a rare thing). I did a quick check over my shoulder to see the effect that it had on my visibility, and it was glaring – I highly doubt I would have been able to identify a cyclist under that condition.

    I really really want everyone to be safe – and I want us to all to work together to make that happen.

    Do you guys, as cyclists, feel that my concerns, as a motorist, are valid?

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  • Patrick October 26, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    With all due respect, I appreciate the sense of urgency to do something to make these intersections more safe. I do not find the Blue Bike Boxes to be the solution.

    Today I anticipated 3 cars on Everett who would make the turn without noticing me. One guy was on his cell phone completely oblivious.

    I ride the Interstate route everyday to work.

    I think the only sensible solution here will be for me to change my commute route and find a safer route.

    I\’m not sure what the solution is, obviously I\’m still to close to the issue.

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  • Alicia October 26, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    And yet no comprehensive outreach & education plan in the neighborhoods involving all the bike-oriented orgs/disorgs was suggested?…seems pretty obvious.

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  • erin g. October 26, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    Hey everyone….please see Kirsty\’s great comment, #23. I just posted a comment on Sam Adams\’ blog…and you should, too! Let\’s work hard to outweigh any incident of anti-cyclist commentary that is occurring there. We can do it!

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  • Alicia October 26, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    i\’ll retract my last comment. hopefully an outreach plan that is more diverse and involving more media will increase public knowledge of the city\’s education plan and the options offered for cyclists and drivers to learn how to live together.

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  • Inky October 27, 2007 at 9:53 am

    While Bike Boxes would be helpful, and I do support them, it’s time for Portland to think on a much grander scale. Amongst the comments from another article someone asked why biking in Amsterdam and Copenhagen is so much safer. It’s for many reasons, but one of the main ones is an investment in bicycle infrastructure.

    In Amsterdam there are 2 features in particular that I was impressed with. In the inner city, bike lanes are separated from car traffic with curbs, a distinct separate lane that no car can venture into without hopping the curb. These are bike lanes only, no pedestrians (they have their own sidewalk). There are several comments about how unsafe people feel while riding on Interstate Ave. Maybe a curbed bike lane would help.

    The second safety feature is that traffic signals have a separate light for bicycles. Actually, the traffic lights have lights for buses, bikes, pedestrians, and cars, and the lights give priority in this order also, i.e. , buses go first, bikes and pedestrians second, and cars last. I think this would go a long way to sorting out the right hook problem.

    Portland over the last few years has reach a “critical mass” if you will, where bicycles have to be taken seriously as a common mode of transportation, so I believe it’s time to start making some investments other than just paint. Admittedly, this is some pretty serious money we’re talking here, but if we hope and intend for the current trend of increased cycling to continue then we are going to have to make these investments eventually, and it’s time to start talking about it now.

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  • Tbird October 27, 2007 at 10:24 am

    I didn\’t get attend the conference, but after reading reports of what was discussed I am surprised there isn\’t a plan to provide aggressive signage directed at motorists regarding bikes. Maybe there is…Can anyone tell me?

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  • Dabby October 27, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    I notice that in the above list of attendee\’s (which I understand to not be complete), one of the missing names on it is Tri Met. While I am sure they are being included, it is high profile names like their\’s that should be held accountable, and listed as possible, or probable, violators

    Tri Met is one of the biggest abusers of bike lane and crosswalk laws in our fine city.

    Tri Met buses continually pull \”right hooks\”, they wait until the light is going yellow to red before pulling from the stopped position into the intersection, and at many intersections, turn so early as to scrape the inside curb with their inside wheels.

    This is highly evident especially at the east end of the Steel Bridge, where during turning they use the whole intersection, blocking the bike lanes on both sides of the street, and cutting early both sidewalks. If you are waiting for the light to turn, in the bike lane or crosswalk, even heading south, it is a dangerous place to be.

    If the trucking and freight industries are going to be held to higher standards from now on, then Tri Met, the largest violator, should be used as the poster child of this movement.

    Those little yellow triangles on the back of the bus (that legally give the bus the right of way in most any situation) are not going to get me killed, and If I have anything to do with it, will never do the same to anyone else.

    Let\’s reign in the great white horse that Tri Met and others roll around our town on, and put out to pasture the thought that cyclists are second class citizens.

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  • VR October 27, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    I think bike boxes are a good start.

    My basic belief is that if we have enough different bicycle facilities around people will get used to paying attention to bikes.

    Some bike lanes. Some bike boulevards. Some bike boxes. Some bike signals. Some bike paths and crossings. Some bike parking oasis\’. Some bike corrals. Some bike tracks.

    All of those things when sprinkled throughout the city – while possibly not 100% effective on their own, when added together make a strong bicycle presence and drivers tend to adjust.

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  • Dabby October 27, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Also, people,
    If a driver cannot see or is already ignoring the crosswalk and the bike lane right next to him, what the hell good is a bike box, or more useless sharrows going to do? People don\’t even know what the hell they mean anyway.

    What is needed is proper enforcement by the police, proper signage at the levels that most drivers are looking, and continued education (beyond the driving test booklet) as to the dangers of right hand turns.

    In reality, most drivers have no clue it is even legal for a bike to pass on the right hand side of a car.

    This is purely evident by the reactions some of them will give up when this happens.

    The real answer is to scare people, through heavy handed enforcement (stings) and education, into driving properly and safely.

    But sadly, if news coverage of these deaths does not do that for us, I doubt anything our lackluster police force does will fair better.

    By the way, why is Kruger still employed by the PPD?

    He should have been fired a long time ago.

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  • Qwendolyn October 27, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Nice to have you back, Dabby.

    It had been a while since you posted anything here.

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  • antonio gramsci October 27, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    I guess I shouldn\’t be surprised, but I continue to be appalled that so few of my fellow cyclists have taken note of the fact that the \”righthook\” is a common category of collisions that we as cyclists can largely eliminate simply by changing our riding habits and consistently adopting a position in the roadway closest to our intended direction of travel.

    It is both tragic and appalling that so few people comprehend this.

    Accordingly, I think the highest priority has to be disseminating wider knowledge of safe riding practices, and eliminating any other barriers to such practices (eg, police enforcement of improperly striped bikelanes that corral riders into the \”suicide slot\” right between motorists and their right turns).

    It\’s really tragic that no push for these things seems to be emerging: where is the funding for cyclist education in the schools, for instance?

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  • Dabby October 27, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Thanks……

    Is good to be back.

    I had banned myself from commenting.

    As you can tell I am still quite opinionated. Probably too much so.

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  • a.O October 27, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    \”The real answer is to scare people, through heavy handed enforcement…\”

    Worst idea ever.

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  • bicycledave October 27, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    I think a bike box could have saved Tracey Sparling\’s life, but I don\’t think it would have helped Brett Jarolimek. Sam\’s suggestion of a warning light signaled by a sensor in the bike lane would help in the situation where a bike is approaching a green light (as Brett was).

    I support bike boxes and I think they will work if done right. Right now most people don\’t know what they are, but when they are all over the city that will change.

    When the new boxes are in I hope there will be a campaign to educate the public about them. Maybe a press release that cars stopping in the bike box will be warned at first then ticketed.

    The bike box can also give cyclists a clue as to which drivers we should be wary of. If a car is stopped in the bike box it may be prudent to stay back or knock on their window and educate them depending on your personal style.

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  • john October 27, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    Whoa, people ! Every single cyclist i have talked to in the last week or so, I mean EVERY single ONE, Would like to adopt the California style of bike lane. As well as everyone in my family.

    Why is it that a few bicycle activists feel like they speak for all?

    Good Grief people, what are you doing? What kind of messy crap, crazy paint schemes, illogical rules are you creating on the roads. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Please I feel like I am literally begging for my life and other cyclist\’s lives.

    The right Hook is totally eliminated when we allow bicycles to go left around right turning vehicles. This is what I try to do anyway (i refuse to put my life into the hands of someone who may not see me. The drivers behind me, they can see me, the driver in front, maybe, maybe not, he might be watching that pedestrian in front of him…).

    Quit forcing me to go on the inside of a right turning vehicle and putting my life into someone hands where I am not in their direct field of vision. For the Love of God, please keep it simple.

    Please let the professional traffic engineers work on this. Not the portland \”bike lobby\” pressuring policians who pressure the professional traffic people. Currently we have to co-exist with drivers and cars.

    This really is a simple issue. It really is all about the right turning vehicles interacting with the bike lane. Who ever came up with idea to make drivers, in a lane they can be furthest right in, who want to get off of a road, have to be responsible for traffic streaming by them on the right? For Traffic not in their field of vision! ??

    Whoever\’s idea this was, and this is harsh, but true, Brett\’s blood is on your hands. Period.

    And quit talking bad about the Police. They see a lot more crap, deal with it day in and day out, and much broader view then you do. They have a hard Job, and when bad stuff happens guess who you will be calling.

    Explain to me, why the California bike lane law is not a good idea.

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 27, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    John:
    Yes, I continue to be utterly mystified by the incapacity of cycling advocates to clearly enunciate these points: The paramount need for funding for cycling education in the schools. The need to change any painted lines that encourage cyclists to position themselves in the infamous \”suicide slot.\” The need to educate police, motorists, and cyclists that the same basic, straightforward principles of safe road use apply to them all: Position yourself in the roadway closest to your intended direction of travel. Signal when there is any ambiguity. Change lanes carefully and deliberately. Etc. All things that apply to all classes of vehicles, and the heeding of which would eliminate entire categories of accidents.

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  • rixtir October 27, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    Explain to me, why the California bike lane law is not a good idea.

    Here are some reasons:

    1) It makes it more likely that a driver will merge into the bike lane in complete disregard of the cyclist\’s right of way.

    2) It gives right-turning drivers the right to block right of way in the bike lane– a lane we are required to ride in.

    3) It makes it more likely that cyclists will be hit as they ride out of the bike lane to avoid the cars blocking the bike lane.

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 27, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    rixtir:
    I completely disagree that the probabilities of the kinds of collisions you are describing are remotely close to the probability of a righthook resulting from a cyclist wedging him or herself between a car and a legal right turn.

    Motorists are fully accustomed to exercising care when changing lanes. If the \”bike lane\” is truly identifiable as a normal lane, then there is no reason to believe that they will have any more difficulty with safely changing lanes there than elsewhere.

    However, motorists are NOT accustomed or equipped to simultaneously monitor two separate flows of fast traffic from two different directions at once, and the majority of the laws and traffic control devices are specifically designed to prevent such scenarios from being created. The positioning of a bike lane to the right of right turning motorists at intersections is a notable and completely unjustifiable exception to this general rule.

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  • John R October 27, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    More reasons while the California merge is a bad idea:

    There is no way to know where the merge is supposed to occur – 20 feet, 50 feet, or 100 feet from the intersection. Cyclists already having lots of distractions to look out for, like road debris, car doors opening, etc. Now we\’d have yet another thing to watch out for.

    Will the motorist really be able to watch behind for cyclists, merge to the right, and simultaneously make sure they are paying attention to the car ahead? I doubt it.

    Consider what happens if the motorist successfully and safely merges ahead of us say a couple car lengths from the intersection, but the light turns red. The cyclist wants to go straight and is now stuck behind the motorist waiting to turn. This won\’t be a problem if there is a parking lane to the right, but if there\’s only a 5-foot bike lane, the cyclist is stuck behind the car.

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  • rixtir October 27, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    I haven\’t even a shred of a doubt that motorists will cut cyclists off in the bike lane, just as they now right hook cyclists in the bike lane. Once they\’ve passed the cyclist, they will pull into the bike lane, no matter how close the cyclist, and it will be the cyclist who pays.

    Just one more way to privilege the automobile.

    And here\’s one more reason to fight the California rule– after the motorist has cut the cyclist off in the bike lane, and the cyclist has slammed into the rear of the car, the PPB will issue a ticket to the cyclist, for failure to yield. Or speeding. Or both.

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 27, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    Oh, and regarding your point 3), that cyclists will get hit if they ever leave a bike lane, well, it boils down to education, doesn\’t it? Like everything else here, both cyclists and motorists need to be trained in how to share the roads safely. That includes how to make safe lane changes.

    Furthermore, it is completely circular reasoning to object to a rule requiring cyclists to merge into through traffic on the grounds that the rules currently imply (but not outright mandate) that they should be hugging the road shoulder at all times. If the rules are clarified to make it plain as day that cyclists need to merge into through traffic when they are passing through intersections, just like any other vehicle, then the rules will not be corraling them into a dangerous suicide slot, and they will NOT be required to ride in the bike lane where it passes through such a slot.

    The bike lane rules already make it clear that we are not required to use a bike lane that is not usable, ie, is blocked by other vehicles, whether they be bikes, or motor vehicles, or tractors, or even plain hazards (tree limbs, holes, glass, road kill, etc). So the problem you are referring to is already nonexistent, given a complete understanding of the rules as they are currently constituted.

    The real problem, once again, comes down to proper education.

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  • rixtir October 27, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    The real problem, once again, comes down to proper education.

    Everybody always says \”education.\”

    Well, guess what? There IS no education, for motorists or cyclists, nor will there be education, because nobody in this state wants to fund anything.

    Education as a fall-back position is meaningless because it doesn\’t exist, and won\’t exist.

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  • rixtir October 27, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    then the rules will not be corraling them into a dangerous suicide slot

    there\’s nothing in the rules that require cyclists to position themselves in the suicide slot when they\’re stopped at a light.

    In fact, I would argue that the rules do not prevent us from leaving the bike lane and merging, as you prefer, in order to proceed straight through an intersection.

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 27, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    John R #:

    \”Will the motorist really be able to watch behind for cyclists, merge to the right, and simultaneously make sure they are paying attention to the car ahead? I doubt it.\”

    Well how, in that case, are they managing to do it right now? Once again, motorists routinely change lanes, in fact it is the very most common maneuver on the entire road, and it happens every few seconds, but constitutes a remarkably small proportion of all accidents relative to its frequency.

    So evidently you are wrong, and motorists are in fact capable of performing safe lane changes, the vast majority of the time. And changing lanes from a through traffic to a far right (or bike) lane is, if anything, much safer than the usual lane change, because in the case of lane changes in the middle of a multilaned highway or freeway, there is always a small possibility of two vehicles trying to change lanes into a common lane sandwiched between them at once, and not seeing each other, whereas such a danger is completely nonexistent with a far right lane.

    \”Consider what happens if the motorist successfully and safely merges ahead of us say a couple car lengths from the intersection, but the light turns red. The cyclist wants to go straight and is now stuck behind the motorist waiting to turn. This won\’t be a problem if there is a parking lane to the right, but if there\’s only a 5-foot bike lane, the cyclist is stuck behind the car.\”

    That is only a problem if cyclists continue to believe that they must hug the road shoulder at all times and in all conditions, as opposed to learning to negotiate the road like other vehicles already do. If cyclists learn to change lanes safely the way most motorists already know how to do, then they will be able to use exactly the same principles to change lanes safely into a through traffic lane when the far right lane is full of right turning traffic.

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  • rixtir October 27, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Antonio, you seem to be operating under the assumption that once the law is changed to allow motorists to use the bike lane, they will suddenly be able to see all those cyclists that they are currently unable to see, and they will therefore make safe lane changes, even though they currently routinely making unsafe right AND left turns. Why, they\’ll even begin to respect cyclists, apparently, and will not deliberately violate our right of way or otherwise intentionally endanger us.

    I don\’t share your assumptions.

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 27, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    Education is hardly a lost cause. As far as I know, most schools are still offering \”drivers education.\” The challenge, then, is to simply insist that the scope of those \”driver\’s education\” classes be broadened to \”mobility education.\” This is already routine in some places, Northern Europe so I\’ve heard. And there are already at least a handful of American transportation experts who have started pushing for the same thing.

    In fact, such a change is vital planning for a future of increasing petroleum scarcity, when more and more people will be turning to other modes of transportation than just the single passenger auto.

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  • rixtir October 27, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    I agree with you about the *need* for education.

    I just observe that it doesn\’t exist, and that we live in a state that is perpetually unable to fund needed programs due to the anti-tax fervor of the citizenry and its elected representatives.

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 27, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    Rixtir:
    Maybe it\’s just my dumb luck, but I\’ve largely not had the problems you are describing. When I\’m riding in a lane, I\’ve not had the experience of people errantly changing lanes and running into me. I\’ve not had the experience (except once, when it was a deliberate incident of road rage for which the motorist was prosecuted) of being rearended. I\’m sure such things can happen, but they are a very small proportion of all the collisions that actually occur.

    I don\’t agree that bikes are \”invisible.\” Upright bikes, at least, are much higher profile than the majority of sedans (though not SUVs, may they rot in hell). If anything, they are MORE visible, if properly ridden, and equipped with good night lighting, than most classes of typical passenger vehicles.

    The \”invisibility\” factor is largely a creation of unskillful riders putting themselves into bad positions on the roadway, such as the \”suicide slot,\” where they are a setup for collisions. Why on earth would we all not want to eliminate such a hazard, since it is entirely within our power to do so?

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  • Lynne October 27, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    The schools DO NOT offer drivers education. It might be held in the school building, but is before or after school hours, and it is not free.

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 27, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    Well, they did when I was coming up in California. Don\’t blame me if this country is rapidly turning into a bloody banana republic.

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  • rixtir October 27, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    Antonion, Post 63:

    When you say that cars are capable of safely making lane changes, you are discussing cars changing lanes and not colliding with *other cars.*

    I have no doubt drivers are more or less capable of doing that. I also have no doubt that they are far, far more likely to collide with a bicycle than with another car, when changing lanes.

    Now, perhaps you believe that bicycles are or should be visible. While it\’s true that they are not *literally* invisible, it\’s also true that there are a number of problems relating to motorists\’ ability to perceive and recognize a bicycle.

    One of those problems is that an automobile has 7 times the visual mass of a cyclist. That means that an automobile is going to be much easier to see. Another problem compounding visibility issues is when cyclists ride in dark clothing, and/or without lights.

    One other problem, which is the relevant problem in Brett\’s collision, and which has happened to me as well, is related to \”object permanence\”– the recognition that an object continues to exist once you can no longer see it. Many motorists behave as if they have no understanding of object permanence. Once they pass you, they no longer behave as if you exist on the road. that means, for example, that the last time i was right hooked, the driver was behind me, pulled even with me just before her turn, and then pulled slightl ahead of me– her bumper a foot or two ahead of my wheel– and made her turn, right into me. When it happened to Brett, the garbage truck pulled ahead of him, and then turned into his path. I would hazard a guess it\’s happened to everybody here.

    While I agree that riders can do more to increase their visibility– from choice of clothing, to lights, to road position, it\’s also undeniably true that drivers often behave as if they do not see us, even when we are as visible as possible. When I was right hooked last time, it was broad daylight, I was wearing a fluorescent orange jacket, I had a blinkie going in the back, I was ahead of the driver, and she STILL right hooked me. Giving her permission to use the bicycle lanes is not going to transform her into a skilled and conscientious driver.

    On the subject of \”education,\” drivers AND cyclists could both benefit from education, and no such program exists. Don\’t get me wrong, I would like to see education in place, but we can\’t just allow drivers to occupy the bike lanes, and for safety rely on saying \”the answer is education,\” when no education program exists.

    Finally, I have my doubts about the fundamental fairness of a system of traffic rules that state that bicyclists must use a special lane, and are generally not allowed outside of that lane, but that drivers may use that lane when preparing to make a turn. It privileges the automobile just that much more, because they\’re allowed to use the entire roadway, including the bicycle lane, and it relegates the bicycle to just that much more second-class status.

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  • rixtir October 27, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    Antonio, I think one way to approach road safety is to rethink everything. For example:

    1) Eliminate the bike lanes. Replace them with sharrows. Make the right lane on every roadway a sharrow, complete with markings and road signs. Cars that wish to share the lane with bicycles may do so, but they are on notice that they are sharing the lane with bicycles. They can turn in the sharrow; likewise, bicycles can proceed straight through intersections in the sharrow.

    2) Allow bicycles to leave the sharrows for the same reasons that cyclists are currently allowed to leave the right-hand edge of the roadway.

    3) Do not restrict bicycles to the sharrows. Allow cyclists to use any lane of the roadway, as long as they are able to ride at the same speed as other traffic on the road.

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  • rixtir October 27, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Of course, that still creates the opportunity for motorists to make unsafe lane changes…

    But cycletracks don\’t. :)

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  • Dabby October 27, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    We have the ability to go left around a right turning car.
    It is called leaving the bike lane legally, by considering the car in front of you to be a hazard, since it is turning right near you. Simply change lanes one to the left.

    This is one thing.

    But the idea of having cars pull into the bike lane for up to 200 feet before the intersection is ludicrous at best. That is what the Californians are allowed to do (not exact wording mind you). This is what Kruger has been pushing for.

    Do you know how much of one of our city blocks is taken up by 200 feet?

    Changing the ordinance to allow cars and trucks to use the bike lane to either turn from, or wait in line to turn from, renders bike lanes useless to the actual user.

    One of the main reasons I do not use the bikelane on Broadway downtown is just that.
    People get away with pulling into it, and right hooking across it, all day long.

    Where do I ride?

    In the middle of the center lane. I consider the whole SW Broadway bike lane to be a hazard, so I do not legally have to ride in it.

    Either get these old and silly California laws back south where they belong, (and by the way where i come from, in case you think i hate Cali) or just start ripping up the bikelane stripes tomorrow, because the two do not go together.

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 27, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    One example that I repeatedly come back to because I contend with it every single day is the eastbound exit off Hawthorne Bridge onto McLoughlin, one of the most popular bike routes in the city. I always merge into through traffic to pass that exit, but at least once I got harassed by a cop for it, who thought I should be in the bike lane playing chicken with the exiting cars.

    Granted that the probability of a right hook is lower there than an ordinary intersection because drivers don\’t need to be on the lookout for crosstraffic at such a \”free right turn,\” and that the constant flow of bike traffic is a fairly good reminder to most motorists to exercise care there. Nevertheless, I don\’t feel safe putting my life in their hands, and feel much more comfortable merging into the normal flow of through traffic than trying to dart across the exit while no vehicles are using it.

    If that exit were properly engineered, in my opinion, the striping would put the exit lane starting somewhere back closer to the bus stop, there would be a solid line where the current exit striping is, and the bike lane would continue STRAIGHT just like riders should be doing: positioning themselves in that part of the roadway CLOSEST TO THEIR DIRECTION OF TRAVEL. Motorists would need to be merging into the far right exit lane much earlier (just like what the California law, for example, would very properly require in such a case). It\’s a huge disservice to cyclists to paint bike lanes that put them way the hell off their intended direction of travel and playing chicken with other vehicles!!

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 27, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    \”In the middle of the center lane. I consider the whole SW Broadway bike lane to be a hazard, so I do not legally have to ride in it.\”

    Yes, very properly. The law explicitly permits you to do so. That is the proper procedure to adopt.

    Furthermore, you can easily keep up with traffic most of the time on the hotel stretch of Broadway, where the traffic is moving real slow and people are constantly stopping to pick up and drop off passengers. Bike lanes do indeed become meaningless decorative fixtures in such places. Cars are legally entitled to cross them in those places anyway, and there is hardly any way those hotels or the entire street there could function if they were not.

    Honestly, the only places where I feel bike lanes truly serve a purpose is in places, mostly in the suburbs, with multilaned, high speed thoroughfares akin to Powell Blvd, where cyclists otherwise feel vulnerable to being completely run off the roads without some dedicated space of their own.

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  • rixtir October 27, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Yes, very properly. The law explicitly permits you to do so. That is the proper procedure to adopt.

    No it doesn\’t.

    You have to make a subjective determination about what\’s safe, but the legality of your subjective determination is judged by an objective \”reasonable person\” standard.

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 28, 2007 at 12:12 am

    If something is in your way, the law does explicitly permit you to exit the bike lane to avoid it, that includes other bikes, vehicles, etc. Whether something constitutes a \”hazard\” is subjective, yes. But whether something is \”in your way\” which half the time it is along that stretch of Broadway, is not.

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  • JJBB October 28, 2007 at 7:02 am

    The discussions presented herein are great. It fosters understanding creativity etc., but for the most part it is preaching to the choir. Comments are being posted to http://www.commissionersam.com/node/2951# by folks who are clearly not in the choir. The comments are frightening and infuriating but at the sametime lend some insight into the perception of a subset of drivers.

    It would be very helpful to have folks who participate in this forum to throw some energy at Commissioner Adam’s blog, especially our “Certified Smart People” (e.g. attorneys).

    Cheers

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  • a.O October 28, 2007 at 8:27 am

    \”Cyclists are required to ride as close as practical to the right shoulder unless they\’re turning left, Kruger says. They can ride as close as practical to the left shoulder on a one-way street within a city.\”

    That excerpt is from this morning\’s O:
    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1193466354179340.xml&coll=7&thispage=1

    Wrong. It\’s a terrible misstatement of the law applicable to cyclists. This is perhaps the biggest source of motorist-cyclist conflict.

    The reason this misstatement is so bad is that it tells motorists cyclists are not supposed to be in the motor vehicle lane in a wide variety of circumstances when cyclists *can* be in the lane, something that is a great source of conflict (perhaps the greatest) between cyclists and motorists, mostly due to motorists\’ ignorance of the law.

    It\’s the ensuing impatient and aggressive acts by motorists that endanger cyclists lives and keep people from cycling.

    I have little doubt, based on his other public statements, that Kruger really doesn\’t understand the law. What more can you say when a law enforcement officer doesn\’t understand the law. It\’s simple incompetence.

    Apparently, the O either doesn\’t understand the law also, or doesn\’t see fit to correct Kruger or expose his dangerous incompetence.

    Now, *here\’s* the law:

    A cyclist is not required to use the bike lane \”if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of:

    (a) Overtaking and passing another bicycle, a vehicle or a pedestrian that is in the bicycle lane or path and passage cannot safely be made in the lane or path.

    (b) Preparing to execute a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

    (c) Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions.

    (d) Preparing to execute a right turn where a right turn is authorized.

    (e) Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right. ORS 814.420(3).

    When there\’s no bike lane, you can take the lane when:

    When going \”the normal speed of traffic [that is] using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions.\” ORS 814.430(1).

    When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle that is proceeding in the same direction.

    When preparing to execute a left turn.

    When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side. Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.

    When operating within a city as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of a roadway that is designated to allow traffic to move in only one direction along the roadway. A bicycle that is operated under this paragraph is subject to the same requirements and exceptions when operating along the left curb or edge as are applicable when a bicycle is operating along the right curb or edge of the roadway.

    When operating a bicycle alongside not more than one other bicycle as long as the bicycles are both being operated within a single lane and in a manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic. ORS 814.430(2).

    Kruger is making this city a worse place to bike by spreading misinformation about the law that applies to bikes.

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  • Sarah October 28, 2007 at 8:28 am

    There is so much focus here on the drivers, and not on some pledge from we cyclists to take action to improve our own reputation in the community.

    I cycle to work every day and see countless examples of unsafe and lawless behavior.

    What are WE going to do about THAT?

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 28, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Actually, Kruger is stating the general case (ignoring the special case of \”bike lanes\”) correctly, except I believe the precise word is \”practicable\” as opposed to \”practical.\” And my understanding is that the rule applies generally to \”slower moving traffic\” and not exclusively bikes.

    The more general rule would actually be much more favorable to bikes, since it applies to slower moving traffic, which in many instances would permit bikes to use any traffic lane, when traffic is moving slow enough for bikes to keep up with the general flow of traffic, and often the slowest moving vehicles on busy downtown streets are not bikes, but cars looking for a place to turn, or park.

    This is a very strong argument against bike lanes, by the way, if they result in denying us use of the roadway that the general case would permit us. For this among other reasons (the presumption among some motorists that the absence of a bike lane is grounds for harassing any cyclist lawfully using the roadway being another), I would favor any steps, such as the California law, in the direction of clarifying the status of bike lanes as purely cosmetic features, not specialized and exclusive parts of the roadway dedicated only to bikes, and where bikes must confine themselves.

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  • a.O October 28, 2007 at 10:40 am

    I think Kruger is stating the general case incorrectly, or rather that he and many others incorrectly perceive keeping to the far right of the lane as what cyclists normally need to or are required do. There are many situations when this doesn\’t apply, and such situations arise numerous times during the course of any given ride through Portland. The fact that Kruger does not properly understand this, that the Oregonian does not discuss it, and that most motorists believe cyclists are required to stay to the right is a safety problem.

    He\’s ignoring the text of ORS 814.430 and specifically the implication from ORS 814.430(1) that the cyclist is not required to keep to the right when going \”the normal speed of traffic\” at the time. There are also other situations described in .430, obviously described in full above.

    I\’m not sure why some people are apparently unable to understand that cyclists frequently need to be able to occupy the entire lane in order to remain safe and are legally allowed to do so.

    This is a major deficit in driver education that needs to be addressed.

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  • a.O October 28, 2007 at 10:49 am

    The law regarding cyclists use of the remainder of the roadway when a bike lane is present, 814.420, is more restrictive than the law regarding cyclists use of the roadway when there is no bike lane. 814.430. It thus limits the rights of cyclists.

    The door zone and right hook design flaws of the bike lane combine to make Oregon\’s bike lane system a pretty poor deal for cyclists.

    We need statutory reforms that (a) allow cyclists to take the lane on any city street with a speed limit of 30 or less and (b) require motorists to observe a greater distance, say 6\’, from cyclists *at all times.*

    Or, the same goal could be accomplished within the civil law system within the constraints of the present statute.

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  • randy October 28, 2007 at 10:59 am

    Reading through all the comments on Sam Adams\’ blog, it\’s very obvious that most motorists don\’t know squat about what the actual rules of the road for bicycles are. Beyond the obvious complaints about cyclists running red lights and stop signs, they are totally clueless about such things about when cyclists can leave a bike lane and where cyclists are allowed to be on the road in the absence of a bike lane. I largely fault the Portland Police for perpetuating these motorist\’s misperceptions with disinformation.

    This points to a tremendous need to reeducate the general motoring population, which is one of the areas in which PDOT has failed miserably. Bringing the DMV in is a step in the right direction, but I don\’t think DMV is going to be in a huge rush to change the way they do business, I remember a \’Share the Road\’ poster DMV produced a few years back, there was a motorcycle in the poster but no pedal cycle, and Portland has a whole lot more pedal cyclists than motorcyclists.

    PDOT has a tremendous opportunity right now to to fund and produce PSAs, spread the message via Radio, TV, billboards and other media, but some of us have been encouraging them to do this for years, with very little success, so I\’m not all that hopeful.

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  • randy October 28, 2007 at 11:03 am

    @ john #50

    Believe me, John, PDOT is full of misguided planners and engineers that are performing their best gyrations to try and rationalize and justify keeping the bike lanes to the right of right turning traffic. These ideas do not come from outside PDOT, they come from within.

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  • rixtir October 28, 2007 at 11:34 am

    a.O posted:

    \”Cyclists are required to ride as close as practical to the right shoulder unless they\’re turning left, Kruger says. They can ride as close as practical to the left shoulder on a one-way street within a city.\”

    That excerpt is from this morning\’s O:
    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1193466354179340.xml&coll=7&thispage=1

    Wrong. It\’s a terrible misstatement of the law applicable to cyclists. This is perhaps the biggest source of motorist-cyclist conflict.

    Kruger doesn\’t know what he\’s talking about, plain and simple. It\’s one thing when the average biking or driving citizen doesn\’t understand the law, it\’s another thing entirely when a *Traffic Division Lieutenant* doesn\’t understand the law he\’s supposed to be enforcing.

    The law *does not* say you must ride as close to the right as \”practical.\” It says you must ride as close to the right as \”practicable,\” meaning as close to the right (or left on a one-way street) as is reasonably capable of being accomplished. \”Practicable\” implicitly gives us the right to avoid hazards (although it also requires that our detyermination be \”reasonable\”), and as a.O. pointed out, the law also explicitly lists some, but not all, situations in which we are permitted to ride farther away from the right hand side of the road.

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  • rixtir October 28, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Sr. Gramsci, Post 73:

    If something is in your way, the law does explicitly permit you to exit the bike lane to avoid it, that includes other bikes, vehicles, etc. Whether something constitutes a \”hazard\” is subjective, yes. But whether something is \”in your way\” which half the time it is along that stretch of Broadway, is not.

    You misunderstand me. Of course you\’re permitted to avoid hazards. We\’re in complete agreement on that. And only you, as the cyclist on the road at that time and place, can make a subjective determination that a hazardous condition requires that you leave the bike lane.

    However, the legality of your subjective determination is subject to an objective \”reasonable person\” standard. If a \”reasonable person,\” as determined by a judge or jury, would have made the same subjective determination, the move is legal. If not, the move is not legal.

    Now let\’s put that back in context. Dabby said that he considers the whole SW Broadway bike lane to be a hazard, so he does not have to legally ride in it; therefore, he takes the center lane. You agreed with his analysis.

    Your analyses are not correct. Dabby is permyitted under the law to make a subjective determination about the hazards in the bike lane; however, *if* dabby were cited, his determination would be subject to a \”reasonable person\” standard. Is it safe to ride in the bike lane in the hotel zone? A reasonable person would probably agree that it is not safe, at least when cars are picking up and dropping off passengers. Does the fact that there was once a car in the bike lane/hotel zone give Dabby the right to ride in the center lane all the time, even blocks away from the hotel zone? A reasonable person would almost certainly disagree with Dabby, and say that once you\’ve avoided a hazard, you have a legal duty to return to the bike lane.

    Having said all that, I don\’t think the Broadway bike lane really adds anything in the way of safety for cyclists, situated as it is in the door zone (that is a safety hazard that I believe legally justifies riding further to the left) and hotel zone. Considering the fact that bikes *are* able to ride at the same speed as other traffic, I would agree with you that the Broadway bike lane is not needed.

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  • rixtir October 28, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Sr. Gramsci, Post 77, a.O., Post 78:

    I said it once, but it\’s worth repeating, and expanding upon. \”Practicable\” means \”reasonably capable of being accomplished.\”

    This means that \”as close as practicable to the right hand side of the roadway\” is a fluid concept. At times, because conditions permit it, you will be riding relatively close to the curb. At other times, you will move further left, as road conditions require (this should not be confused withj weaving in and out; a straight, predicatble line is always safer than weaving in and away from the curb).

    What are some examples of conditions that would legally justify a position further left? Glass in the roadway. Slimy leaves in the roadway. Gravel in the roadway. Potholes. Vehicles parked at the curb. The door zone. A lane that is too narrow to safely share (as determined by the \”reasonable person\” standard).

    Unless the law allows you to take any lane, when there is no bike lane you will always be required to ride as close as practicable to the right, but that will always be a fluid concept, highly dependent upon the road conditions at that time and place.

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  • Donna October 28, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    \”But the idea of having cars pull into the bike lane for up to 200 feet before the intersection is ludicrous at best. That is what the Californians are allowed to do (not exact wording mind you). This is what Kruger has been pushing for.

    Do you know how much of one of our city blocks is taken up by 200 feet?\”

    Thank you, Dabby, for pointing out what should be blatantly obvious. I was wondering if I was the only cyclist in Portland who could do basic arithmetic. I am heartened to know there is at least one other.

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  • Donna October 28, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    addendum: It is my understanding that Californians are *required* to enter the bike lane 200 feet before making a turn.

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  • BURR October 28, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    re, #82

    Kruger\’s oversimplificaton and misinterpretation of the law borders on criminal negligence. Of course, the Oregonian probably bears some culpability as well.

    If it is too difficult to express for Kruger, the Oregonian, PDOT or even Sam Adams office to adequately and accurately explain the nuances in the law, such as that cyclists are allowed to take the lane if they are moving at the speed of traffic, hazards are present (incl. most obviously the door zone, debris or drainage grates), or the lane is too narrow to safely share, the system really is badly broken.

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  • BURR October 28, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    The more I think about it, the more pissed off I am about Kruger\’s misstatement of the law in today\’s Oregonian. There\’s way too many motorists in Portland who are willing to take the law into their own hands when it comes to bicyclists.

    I\’m appalled and horrified that the police are allowed to give out disinformation regarding the law in the daily paper.

    Kruger needs to go!

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  • BURR October 28, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    The whole point of that article was supposedly to educate the public about the rules of the road and Kruger totally blew it. Not to mention the other quote from officer Villanti about cyclists being perpared to forfeit the right of way:

    The basics, says Portland traffic Officer Michael Villanti, include obeying traffic laws, using the proper lights and wearing reflective or bright clothing so motorists can see cyclists better. Plus, he says: \”Even when you have the right of way, be prepared to forfeit it.\”

    These cops are not helping anyone, they are setting bicycle advocacy and acceptance back two decades.

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  • rixtir October 28, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Sarah, Post 76:

    There is so much focus here on the drivers, and not on some pledge from we cyclists to take action to improve our own reputation in the community.

    I cycle to work every day and see countless examples of unsafe and lawless behavior.

    What are WE going to do about THAT?

    I don\’t know.

    I ride with the philosophy that law-abiding, courteous, and cooperative riding is cycling advocacy.

    But I\’m only one person, and I see many, many more cyclists in this town \”pedaling\” the opposite message to those we share the road with.

    So I don\’t know. What ARE we going to do?

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  • Dabby October 28, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    If the person in charge of the Police dept., and even worse, transportation dept. of the police, cannot even come close to interpreting and or understanding the laws we pay them to enforce, they should immediately be removed from duty, or at the least put under review with instruction to shape up or ship out. Especially when said people are speaking out in an informative, public relations role.

    Due to the trickle down theory, we cannot expect anything more from the officers under such people. And while some of them are great police people, we all know of at least a handful who are no better at, and also claim not to care whether, if you ask them, they are interpreting these ordinances correctly. ( I am pointing fingers, mainly at Rosie Sizer, Mark Kruger, and at the Barnum and Balzer Circus).

    Some walls can get old and weak, and this can turn into whole foundations crumbling before our eyes.

    Isn\’t it time to shore things up, and move forward with a solid place to put these new building blocks?

    I am tired of hearing about the same ole\’ crumbling cornerstones making mistakes we all have to pay for, either financially, or moraly, and, as in most recent case, with our lives.

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  • BURR October 28, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    What is wrong with Kruger\’s oversimplification?]

    No explanation of when a cyclist is allowed to leave a bike lane or take the lane when a bike lane is not present. Safe interaction between cyclists and motorists on the road depends on motorists being able to properly understand these nuances of the law, and the quote from Kruger is more harmful than helpful, given the already existing level of misinformation among motorists. Dumbing the message down for motorists is not the right approach.

    814.420 Failure to use bicycle lane or path; exceptions; penalty. (1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, a person commits the offense of failure to use a bicycle lane or path if the person operates a bicycle on any portion of a roadway that is not a bicycle lane or bicycle path when a bicycle lane or bicycle path is adjacent to or near the roadway.
    (2) A person is not required to comply with this section unless the state or local authority with jurisdiction over the roadway finds, after public hearing, that the bicycle lane or bicycle path is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.
    (3) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of:
    (a) Overtaking and passing another bicycle, a vehicle or a pedestrian that is in the bicycle lane or path and passage cannot safely be made in the lane or path.
    (b) Preparing to execute a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
    (c) Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions.
    (d) Preparing to execute a right turn where a right turn is authorized.
    (e) Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right.
    (4) The offense described in this section, failure to use a bicycle lane or path, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §700; 1985 c.16 §338; 2005 c.316 §3]

    814.430 Improper use of lanes; exceptions; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person does not ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.
    (2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:
    (a) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle that is proceeding in the same direction.
    (b) When preparing to execute a left turn.
    (c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side. Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.
    (d) When operating within a city as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of a roadway that is designated to allow traffic to move in only one direction along the roadway. A bicycle that is operated under this paragraph is subject to the same requirements and exceptions when operating along the left curb or edge as are applicable when a bicycle is operating along the right curb or edge of the roadway.
    (e) When operating a bicycle alongside not more than one other bicycle as long as the bicycles are both being operated within a single lane and in a manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.
    (f) When operating on a bicycle lane or bicycle path.
    (3) The offense described in this section, improper use of lanes by a bicycle, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §701; 1985 c.16 §339]
    http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/814.html

    The exceptions to these two sections of the ORS are the real key to cyclist safety, and Kruger total abrogates his responsibility in this regard. Kruger needs to go and the City of Portland needs to send a different message to motorists.

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  • Donna October 28, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Misinterpretation? I think he understands the law just fine. He doesn\’t like the law, and so he\’s decided to become a legislative and judicial activist despite the fact he works as a public servant in the executive branch. He\’s also willing to spin and twist the truth to serve his own agenda. Given his past history in the PPB, none of this surprises me.

    What does shock and dismay me is how he\’s obviously been given the ok to run his mouth whenever and however he pleases. It goes to show you what the new Traffic Commander, the Police Chief, and the Mayor think about cyclist/motorist interactions in this city.

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 28, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Well, I don\’t know the entire context of the Kruger quote, but The Oregonian presented it as being alternating advice, first directed to motorists, then to cyclists, and the quote from Kruger cited here was the one directed \”to cyclists.\” Which actually makes it all a lot worse, in a way, because Kruger and the newspaper article go on further, practically going out of their way to counsel cyclists to deliberately locate themselves in the suicide slot while motorists are turning right, which is homicidally erroneous misinformation to be handing out.

    Yes, I have to agree with others here who have insisted that it is time for Mr. Kruger\’s resignation (or cashiering) from the PPB. Or at least demotion to some other rank, and removal from the Traffic Division.

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  • a.O October 28, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    \”Misinterpretation? I think he understands the law just fine. He doesn\’t like the law, and so he\’s decided to become a legislative and judicial activist despite the fact he works as a public servant in the executive branch. He\’s also willing to spin and twist the truth to serve his own agenda. Given his past history in the PPB, none of this surprises me.\”

    I agree completely, but I can prove a misinterpretation easily and it relates directly to his job, so that\’s what I want to focus on.

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  • BURR October 28, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    So how about some letters to the editor of the Oregonian and to the Mayor regarding Kruger\’s misstatements? Jonathan, how about some followup on your end?

    As the saying goes the exceptions prove the rule, and just like the english language, it\’s the exceptions to and the nuances of ORS 814.420 and 814.430 that keep cyclists safe; Kruger\’s oversimplification is not the message motorists should be hearing.

    ORS 814.430(2)(c): Cyclists Allowed Full Lane!

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  • Donna October 28, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    I know, a.O., but your job isn\’t mine. I\’m just a cranky citizen… I never though one mouth could be so physically dangerous to so many people.

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  • annefi October 29, 2007 at 1:53 am

    Is a.O. one of the people included in the past and future bike safety meetings? I hope so.

    And Jonathon, I am very concerned about learning how Robert Verrinder (the injured Marine Drive cyclist) is faring in his recovery process and what key facts the media reports have omitted from their reports. The family and friends must be really steamed if the reports that momentary inattention by Robert led to the collision are inaccurate. It sounds like that is completely out of character for him. Please give us an update soon.

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 29, 2007 at 7:46 am

    It\’s not a message he was directing at \”motorists\”, it was cyclists he was telling to ride through the suicide slot. And it\’s their behavior we really need to be worried about, because it is THAT but for which two people would still be alive today.

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  • a.O October 29, 2007 at 8:24 am

    This is what happens, far more often than not, when you\’re negligent on a bike:

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2007/10/hillsboro_bicyclist_dies_from.html

    You die but no one in a 2,000 steel cage is even injured.

    Importantly, note that the Hillsboro Police have already stated that the cyclist was at fault.

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  • Me 2 October 29, 2007 at 9:40 am

    I cannot understand why some people are so worked up about Vallenti\’s comments. He made some simple straightforward points, especially the one about forfeiting the right of way.

    It frustrates the heck out of me, but forfeiting the right of way is a simple fact of life out there; regardless of what mode of transit you are using (car, feet, bike).

    I do it all the time and in all modes of transportation to avoid an accident and personal injury to myself and others.

    I\’ve done it regularly riding my bike to avoid running into a car making a right turn. I\’ve done it in my car to a cyclist who passed me through an intersection on the right on a major road (NE 33rd). I do it in my car all the time to people trying to merge into my lane.

    I value being in the right, but not to the point I get in an accident that could result in a damaged car or worse an injured person.

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  • CN October 29, 2007 at 9:48 am

    I copied my post from the Weekend Fun Section, lest it get lost in all the, uh, fun.

    On Washington state freeways, they double traffic fines in construction zones. Why not pass a law for Portland that doubles or triples fines for moving violations wherever bike lanes or sharrows are laid down on the asphalt? \”Didn\’t see the lines? Triple the fines!\” It even rhymes.

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  • BURR October 29, 2007 at 10:09 am

    The problem with Vallenti and Kruger\’s statements in the Sunday paper is that they are only giving a partial explanation of the law, one that implicitly favors motorists; the most frustrating is that Kruger failed completely to explain any of the exceptions to ORS 814.420 and 814.430 – important exceptions that cyclists rely on every day for their safety, and that motorists also need to know and understand.

    Be careful out their folks, Kruger and Vallenti have just given motorists carte blanche to push cyclists off the road.

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  • Todd Boulanger October 29, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Another issue missing in the press review of Sam\’s press conference (and perhaps at the conference itself) is how important managing motor vehicle speeds on urban streets with multiple modes sharing limited public space.

    Survival for both pedestrians (and pets as pedestrians too) and bicyclists starts dropping fast as traffic speeds pass 25 mph (along with reaction time) – this is commonly known in traffic engineering and planning. (The Sunday Oregonian reported an interesting comparison on how likely bicyclist is to have a minor injury vs. a driver in a crash: 85% vs. 1%).

    Perhaps along these 20 problem corridors identified the speed differential between bicyclists and motorists should be capped at 10 mph – definitely at least at the intersections.

    And our political leadership (and community) should support the police ticketing vehicle operators speeding over the speed limit vs. the more common practice of \’permitting\’ up to a 10 mph creep over the posted speed limit before enforcement. (This could also be applied to residential streets without sidewalks…limiting vehicle speeds to 10 mph…until sidewalks are built.)

    Look to Sweden, under their \”New Approach\” to traffic engineering and enforcement they cap the travel speed to limit the expected traffic conflict and injury based on the land use / function of the road and typical vulnerable road user profile expected.

    http://www.ictct.org/workshops/98-Budapest/1.pdf

    For many of our streets…this will delay drivers (and some bicyclists) getting to their destinations, but if they are local traffic then they are likely close to their destination and should only add a minute or so to their trip.

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  • BURR October 29, 2007 at 10:16 am

    This is the future in Kruger\’s world:

    \”A road-rage incident involving a bicyclist and motorist rattled the Fremont neighborhood with yelling, a near hit and the rider striking a sport utility vehicle\’s window, Seattle police said.

    It ended with officers arriving at North 35th Street and Stone Way North to intervene, according to a police report.

    It started around 1 p.m. Friday as a Seattle man in his late 30s was pedaling a bicycle northbound across the Fremont Bridge, when he heard honks and cries from a man driving a maroon 2006 Nissan Murano.

    \”You are giving bicyclists a bad name,\” the driver reportedly yelled.

    Once on North 35th Street, the bicyclist went eastbound, trying to reach Stone Way North. But the SUV driver slowed down \”several times\” and tried to hit the bicyclist and run him off the road, the report says.\”

    Full story:

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/337174_roadrage29.html

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  • a.O October 29, 2007 at 10:28 am

    I used to live in and ride around Fremont a lot. I\’m not at all surprised by that story.

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 29, 2007 at 11:42 am

    I would like to encourage people concerned about the deadly erroneous
    advice of Kruger to write in to The Oregonian in an effort to save
    lives. I will write them something like this (although this exceeds their 150 word count limit):

    Dear Editor:
    In your article of Sunday, Oct. 28, \”Cyclists, drivers find safety
    net in rules,\” you have a series of quotes in the guise of advice to
    cyclists from PPB Traffic Division Chief Mark Kruger, addressing safety
    in the wake of a recent series of fatal collisions in the city involving
    cyclists and large trucks. These include the following quotes: \”Bikes
    have exclusive right of way when they\’re in a bike lane — even when a
    car is turning right, Kruger says,\” and \”Cyclists are required to ride
    as close as practical to the right shoulder unless they\’re turning left,
    Kruger says. They can ride as close as practical to the left shoulder on
    a one-way street within a city.\”

    The overall impression that these quotes leave cyclists is that they
    should essentially hug the road shoulder at all times. This advice is
    erroneous and potentially life-threatening, because it was precisely
    this behavior which led to the deaths of the two cyclists in separate
    incidents recently, Brett Jarolimek and Tracy Sparling. In each case,
    they were riding in the bike lane past a roadway exit or intersection,
    through a spot which cycling safety educators have dubbed the \”suicide
    slot,\” the stretch of the bike lane that lies in the path of right
    turning or exiting vehicles. Cycling safety experts have long counselled
    cyclists to avoid riding through these hazard zones when their intended
    direction of travel is through an intersection, advising them to merge
    into a through-traffic lane. Moreover, the law explicitly recognizes the
    need for cyclists to exit the bike lane to avoid hazardous situations.

    Kruger, by failing to note unambiguously the hazard this scenario poses,
    and not only failing to counsel cyclists to avoid it, but actually
    recommending that they continue in this unsafe riding practice that
    resulted in the recent deaths of two people, is derelict in his most
    elementary duty of protecting the lives of all roadway users.

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  • Dave Thomson October 29, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    So here is what California law actually says about motor vehicles turning across bicycle lanes:

    Turning Across Bicycle Lane

    21717. Whenever it is necessary for the driver of a motor vehicle to cross a bicycle lane that is adjacent to his lane of travel to make a turn, the driver shall drive the motor vehicle into the bicycle lane prior to making the turn and shall make the turn pursuant to Section 22100.

    Added Ch. 751, Stats. 1976. Effective January 1, 1977.

    http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21717.htm

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  • Antonio Gramsci October 29, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    I\’m surprised, honestly, that the two states have such radically differing regulations. In my opinion, the California rule is in keeping with generally accepted principles of safe riding and driving, whereas the Oregon rule sets up a situation of conflict and potential collisions completely unnecessarily. This is rather shocking to me, honestly. You mean to say: Motorists in Oregon are expected to drive straight across a bike lane into their right turn, WITHOUT first merging into the intervening (bike) lane??

    In every other case of a right or left turn, road users of all kinds are expected to first MERGE into the lane closest to their turn, and for good reason!

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  • Virgil October 29, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    In Beaverton, on Hall, there are turnouts for autos to make right turns onto Denny and onto Hart, that cross over bike lanes, the bike lanes then wind up to the left of the right turning autos.
    This seems pretty clear and simple to me as a driver and pedaler. Anyone else?

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  • BURR October 29, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    Inner city streets in Portland often don\’t have the required ROW width for dedicated turn lanes.

    It\’s a completely different story in the central Beaverton area and the outer east side of Portland.

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  • Ethan October 30, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    For what it\’s worth, when I was \”right hooked\” by a Honda Civic, I had the half second it took to activate a very loud compressed air horn that I have put on both my bikes ($20-30). as soon as the horn went off, I saw the car dive as the driver applied brakes. I still ended up on the ground looking up at her grill, but she was stopped, and I was ok. I have been giving these horns as presents to bike-commuting friends ever since . . . they are cheap, weigh next to nothing, and they may have saved my life. It is not a panacea, but I think it is a valuable tool for city riding, and man are car drivers amazed when you have a louder horn than they do, perfect for shaming bad auto behavior too.

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