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Beaverton PD: Walk your bike advice meant only for kids

Posted by on May 8th, 2008 at 3:07 pm

The Beaverton Police Department’s Public Information Officer Sgt. Paul Wandell says a statement about bike safety printed in a city newsletter has been “blown out of proportion.”

The advice — that bicyclists should, “walk your bike across busy intersections and streets” — was printed as a bike safety tip and it has touched a nerve among many Beaverton residents after a story on BikePortland brought it to their attention.

Sgt. Wandell said he wants to try and tone down the response and he insists that the advice was only meant for young children.

The Beaverton PD Bicycle Team!
(Photo: City of Beaverton)

“We’re not recommending all bicyclists hop off their bikes at intersections…our viewpoint of bicyclists and the rules of the road are the same as any other jurisdiction. The statement in the newsletter only applies to kids…like, let’s say a dad is mowing the lawn while a six year-old is riding around the neighborhood. When he comes to an intersection we want him to get off.”

Sgt. Wandell says his staff didn’t have adequate time to proof the information before it was sent out and that a clarification is already in the works for the next newsletter. He acknowledged that the way it was written in the newsletter was confusing and that he’ll seek to make it more clear in the future.

Sgt. Wandell also added that he wasn’t sure where Mayor Rob Drake’s staff got the information for the newsletter.

I found it on the Beaverton PD website in the exact same way it appeared in the newsletter. It’s on a page titled, “Ride to Stay Alive” (which includes other advice like “Avoid riding at night”).

Take a look for yourself and see if you think it’s obvious that the advice about walking your bike at intersections is only meant for small children.


– The Beaverton PD and the NW Bicycle Safety Council will host a Bicycle Safety Fair on May 17th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the PAL club (12500 SW Allen Blvd.) For more information please contact Bruce Buffington at (503) 466-2501 or nwbsc [at] comcast [dot] net.

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Comments
  • a.O May 8, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    They need another page titled, \”Drive to not Kill People.\”

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  • girl on a bike May 8, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    If that list of suggestions IS aimed entirely at children, apparently BPD expects children who aren\’t old enough to ride their bikes across the street to teach other children the rules of the road.

    And obviously we should all avoid riding at night. My guess is because that\’s when the werewolves come out.

    Awesome.

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  • kg May 8, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    People let their six year olds ride around by themselves and the police think that is fine and dandy? We are talking kindergarden/first grade, are they serious? Before you send you kindergardener to the store to pick you up a pack of smokes make sure you tell them to walk their bike across any busy intersections. Classic.

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  • Meghan May 8, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    I should avoid riding after dark, huh? Well, I\’ll start asking my boss to make sure I only have to work between 10 AM and 3 PM (so I don\’t have to commute in the dark when it\’s wintertime.)

    This list has no basis in the laws of the road and where bicycles fit in. If it is intended only for children, it\’s poorly identified as such.

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  • Schrauf May 8, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    It is embarrassing that the list on the website is sponsored by a police department.

    It is clear that the recommendation to stop at every intersection (even if uncontrolled???) and to walk across busy intersections is definitely intended for adults as well as children, given the lead-in says \”…take the following precautions when you or your family members take a bike ride:\”

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  • Paul Souders May 8, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    It\’s hilarious how much noise a few poorly-worded sentences can generate.

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  • Bjorn May 8, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    I assume everything on the tips page is just for kids, like vacation advice for instance:

    http://beavertonpolice.org/community/tips/vacation_checklist.html

    The tips all link from the same place…
    http://beavertonpolice.org/community/tips/

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  • burning shame May 8, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    \”Everyone enjoys a fun bike ride.\”

    Wow, that advice seems almost comically out of touch. All that\’s missing is a link to that freaky \”bike riding monkeys\” safety film from the 60\’s…

    Wait… here it is:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQgAMkMmsfg

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  • Bike Commuter May 8, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    I think you guys are blowing this out of proportion. The statement said to avoid riding at night, but if you must, wear reflective tape and lights, NOT a blatant statement saying to not ride at night. Just a suggestion that if possible, ride during the day.

    These comments are very negative which do not help the situation whatsoever. It is obvious that those \”rules\” were written by someone that doesn\’t ride their bike very often and is confused as to who their audience is.

    What we need here is education, not angry emails and comments that only makes the rift bigger between bicyclists and drivers.

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  • BURR May 8, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    a lot of new bikes come with warning stickers these days that say things like:

    always wear a helmet
    obey all traffic laws
    do not ride at night

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  • Tbird May 8, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    I think the underlying attitude typified by statements like this only serve to illustrate that we should be requiring the most potentially deadly road users to yield to the most vulnerable. If it\’s not safe for the weakest link then it\’s not safe period. Beaverton is most certainly not alone in misunderstanding this most basic concept of bike friendliness.

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  • kg May 8, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    # 6 and 9 – I disagree,

    These are supposed to be professionals using public money both in salary and in distribution to provide sub-par information. Sure we could all just have a good chuckle over their incompetence but I\’m pretty sure that won\’t get the results we want. They should be held accountable and forced to do better next time.

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  • N.I.K. May 8, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    @ Bike Commuter:

    If the aim is education, people need to raise a bit of a ruckus when poorly-written sa are being distributed to the general public by the local police. Complain all you want about the more crass remarks made so far, but guess what: the BPD has responded on the issue in a wonderfully short space of time. This is just the sort of nudge that makes companies, institutions, government organizations, and other entities think twice before they circulate muddy garbage written by people with little knowledge of the topic at hand. If it gets them to be more careful and more thoughtful about any safety guidelines they\’re distributing to the public, there\’s a greater chance of better educational materials becoming available, and you can\’t knock that effect.

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  • Matthew Denton May 8, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    #9: yes you are right. But it is so much more fun the other way…

    That said: In the last week, it seems like there has been a big jump in the number of cyclists on the road, (both in Portland where I live, and Beaverton where I work,) probably a result of high gas prices and the nice weather. And they don\’t have lights at dusk, and they are riding the wrong way down the sidewalk, and etc… And I doubt they read this website, there is a good chance they don\’t know anything about bicycling other than what they learned as a kid. But education for those people is key: it will keep them alive, and it gives all of us a better name. And so when a newsletter goes out to all the city residents telling them how to ride safely, it should contain useful information, not on just a \”how to ride safety in the neighborhood street\” section for children, but a \”how to cross the two highways that cut through the middle of Beaverton without getting killed\” section for adults, because that is exactly the sort of information that needs to get into the hands of the new batch of cyclists…

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  • wsbob May 8, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Oh c\’mon…what is this? A Mad TV writer\’s session? Beaverton Police Department’s Public Information Officer Sgt. Paul Wandell spells out the truth for people to editor Maus and still they want to go off inventing crazy interpretations from some poor city hall secretary\’s goof-up. Maybe that person is writing for the BPD website too. So, they\’ll correct the situation already.

    Have your fun if you want, but as of many of the comments on this and the other related thread, the tide is turning and now, instead of Beaverton sounding dumb, it\’s the people taking those mis-statements for face value that are starting to sound like the dumb ones.

    In my comment on the other thread, I jokingly described Beaverton as a Podunk town. Really, it\’s not. Beaverton definitely faces some daunting logistical problems in terms of it\’s traffic infrastructure, but in its law enforcement public safety I don\’t think its PD is any more clueless than Portland\’s seems to be at times.

    In terms of government leadership, Beaverton definitely is a slower town than Portland is. I\’m sure Beaverton doesn\’t have near the budget Portland does. The kind of brilliant college grads that scramble to be aides in Portland city bureaus probably aren\’t so plentiful for Beaverton\’s bureaus, so it shouldn\’t be a surprise that the newsletter and websites comes out with a gaff from time to time.

    Really, Beaverton could use help from active problem solvers. Somehow, it will eventually have to deal with the congestion and constriction dealt it by the major thoroughfares bisecting the city\’s heart. Even if the unwittingly offending statement was made for kids, those thoroughfares can\’t help but raise a caution to cyclists to think twice and sometimes actually feel the need to get off the bike and take the crosswalk.

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  • BikeBillboards dot blogspot dot com May 8, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Nice catch, BPD! TPD would have simply ignored the problem.

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  • tonyt May 8, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    You\’re right there wsbob, but keep in mind that the other half of this \”misinterpretation\” equation is the attitude that Beaverton leaders have shown and show toward bicycling.

    It\’s kind of like the Bush administration putting out a release saying that they were going to \”dump oil in Alaska\’s wilderness.\”

    Everyone freaks out, and then they say that they meant that they are dumping the IDEA of getting oil from ANWAR.

    Yes, people are responsible for misreading the statement, but if the Bush administration didn\’t have such a horrible rep, people wouldn\’t be so inclined to jump to that conclusion.

    We still see with Beaverton that they\’ve got a long way to go.

    \”Everyone enjoys a fun bike ride!\”

    Yup! Gee willikers! Let\’s all put baseball cards on our bikes and ride on down to the drug store and get a soda! Yipee! Sure will be swell to get some exercise!

    Just be sure to not ride at night!

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  • a.O May 8, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    I think tonyt\’s right: Cluelessness is funny…until it starts to make transportation policy.

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  • steve May 8, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Wsbob,

    I find myself in agreement with your last few posts. I am delighted.

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  • J.M. May 8, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    When I was young (born in \’74) we were taught to walk our bike across intersections when crossing in a crosswalk, or from corner to corner. (Act as a pedestrian when in pedestrian areas, e.g. sidewalks/crosswalks, was always my interpretation).

    Just out of curiosity. Does anyone posting comments on this actually live in the city of Beaverton?

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  • PoPo May 8, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    And I find myself in agreement with steve\’s last post (#19).
    It was an editorial gaff, not a policy statement. We\’re all human, including public servants. Every sentence in that website cannot possibly be perfect.

    The Beaverton Police actually has a well established, supported and funded bicycle patrol unit that does a lot of good work:

    http://beavertonpolice.org/divisions/patrol/bikepatrol.html

    As bicycle patrol coordinator at Southeast Precinct, I\’m pretty envious of their program.

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  • wsbob May 8, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Tony and a.O., I think both of your points are well taken. The newsletter bike tips were a \’send-up\’, but inadvertently. Just when some people might think nobody but nobody would ever fail to recognize that the tips were intended for children, someone out there inevitably takes them literally.

    I\’d be very surprised if this little brouhaha isn\’t a serious wakeup call to Beaverton City Hall. It can afford to pay enough, or whatever, to ensure that its newsletters and websites are written intelligently enough to avoid obvious misinforming blunders like this one.

    The newsletter has been a little weak as long as I\’ve been aware of it, and that\’s 2-3 years at least. I\’m sure the writer\’s intentions are good, but maybe they just need a little more help or oversight. For example, Mayor Drake should maybe pay a little more attention to the newsletter that his comments and picture appear in each month. After all, he\’s up for re-election, and that guy Doyle wants his seat.

    Beaverton has some nice things, trust me. It\’s just dumb for city council to let something like this create a lame impression of the city to those looking to learn about it.

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  • Peter W May 9, 2008 at 12:13 am

    A couple thoughts:

    1) With most roads being 5 lane giants, I don\’t know how any kid could walk their bike across in one cycle.

    2) I think these \”tips\” from Beaverton — with their slip-up of not listing them as specifically for kids — betray the fact that most of the people within the City government don\’t believe in bicycling as a serious form of transportation: biking is really only something they expect kids to be doing.

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  • Kris May 9, 2008 at 6:50 am

    #20: \”Just out of curiosity. Does anyone posting comments on this actually live in the city of Beaverton?\”

    I do and I think that most comments here are on the mark. I find the cycling tips on the BVT PD web site pretty embarrassing, even more so for a city that touts to be a bicycle-friendly community. Sgt. Wandell\’s explanation that it was meant as advice for kids sounds pretty shallow, since the same stuff is up on their web site, which is clearly geared towards adult readers.

    I also echo Peter comments that here at the west side (incl. the rest of Washington County) there is still a clear lack of recognition of bicycles as an equal mode of transportation, let alone it being a mode we should promote. Consequently, efforts to improve bicycle safety along the many busy arterials and rural roads have been lackluster at best.

    From what I can tell, most traffic planning here has revolved around increasing (car) traffic flow and very little has been done about traffic calming (there are a couple exceptions in residential and downtown areas).

    That said, there are plenty of neighborhoods here that are fun and safe to ride through. The problem is really going from one neighborhood to another, you have no choice but to take or cross some busy arterial streets, which can be intimidating and unsafe for people who are not experienced riders.

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  • Moo May 9, 2008 at 8:33 am

    There are definately more riders out now than say 2-3 months ago, and I suspect many are doing it more for economical reasons then anything else. And they are the ones who need to heed that kind of advice ( along with the kids ), at least until they can brush the cobwebs off and blend into the flow. These newcomers really stick out in a crowd, like the Hawthorne bridge and Lovejoy runs, and can be quite dangerous to those that are more seasoned and into the groove of the commute with others riding around.

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  • Lynne F May 9, 2008 at 8:33 am

    it may be that part of the issue is that Beaverton only gets covered in BikePortland when it screws up. No balanced coverage, like in Portland.

    There are some active participants in the forums who are also active in cycling advocacy in Beaverton and Washington County.

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  • KT May 9, 2008 at 9:19 am

    I read through the Beaverton PD\’s site as linked above, and from the tone of the writing, it\’s aimed at kids.

    It even starts out with kid-related statistics.

    However, as in most things associated with the internet, one cannot tell tone from writing… and everyone reads through their own perceptions and preconceived notions.

    And Lynne: as has been pointed out in the past by others, this site is bikePORTLAND, not bikeMETRO AREA or bike TRI COUNTY AREA. Of course anything outside of Portland city limits isn\’t covered unless it\’s a screw-up or a crash.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 9, 2008 at 9:27 am

    \”Beaverton only gets covered in BikePortland when it screws up. \”

    \”Of course anything outside of Portland city limits isn\’t covered unless it\’s a screw-up or a crash.

    I admit i have not offered as balanced of coverage of Beaverton as I would like.

    I\’ve been trying to connect with a very active Beaverton activist (K\’tesh in the forums) to cover the great work he\’s doing — but I just haven\’t done it yet.

    That being said — it\’s sort of like the criticisms I\’ve gotten for my usually negative coverage of TriMet.

    I cover news. Happy, smiling press releases aren\’t news. If Beaverton (or TriMet) were doing interesting, innovative, exciting, positive things for bikes more often i would definitely be covering them.

    If anyone has good story ideas that fit the above description (and no, a bike safety fair or a helmet giveaway is not something I will cover), than please pass it on.

    I won\’t pretend to be able to cover Beaverton with the same depth of Portland, but I am always open to good story ideas for places that are close to Portland metro and are interesting to a large number of readers.

    thanks for reading and thanks for the feedback.

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  • tonyt May 9, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Kris #24,

    I do not live in Beaverton. But I\’ve ridden through Beaverton, and driven too, and lived in suburbs like it. All of which can be quite enlightening as far as the quality of planning evident in car-centric developments like Beaverton.

    Your observations are spot on.

    But I\’d like to make a comment about one of the words that we use a lot here, but that we don\’t often do such a good job of defending.

    \”Planning\”

    When you listen to the anti-planning (hello Sho Dozono!) crowd go at it, they often will speak disparagingly of \”planning\” as something that we \”latte drinking \’insert stereotype here\’ socialists like to impose on people.\” They love to call it \”regulation.\”

    As if they are advocating some live-and-let-live ethos.

    The fact is that their \”less regulation\” talk just turns the reins of control over to other interests. And often those other interests are not private citizens.

    Their non-planning is planning. We see what happens when it\’s given control. It\’s awfully similar wherever you look, whether it be Beaverton, Oregon, Aurora, Colorado, or Mason, Ohio.

    It comes out looking the same because the same forces shape it and plan it to suit their profit needs. Big box stores, with their high truck traffic \”just in time inventorying\” which removes large sums of money from the community. Franchise restaurants, again stripping money out of the community), lots and lots of gas stations (money leaves the country), and high-traffic roads devastating communities and farms.

    They\’re planning this. Why do you think they fight our attempts at getting involved? Because we interfere with their plans.

    So the next time your father-in-law gives you that \”you\’re trying to tell people how to live\” talking-point, don\’t surrender this fact. \”They are trying to tell US how to live. Only this time, we are demanding a say too.\”

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  • Qwendolyn May 9, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Maybe try covering pdx east of 82nd before heading out to the beav.

    just sayin\’

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  • Lynne F May 9, 2008 at 9:53 am

    I know this is Bike PORTLAND. I also know there is only one of Jonathan :-)

    There is stuff that happens out here (the Portland Velo meeting w/Washington County after Tim\’s death comes to mind) that doesn\’t get covered. That doesn\’t mean it isn\’t happening.

    Just an observation, as folks jump all over the non-Portland coverage of bad things, possibly not realizing that there are positive things in the works as well.

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  • Vance May 9, 2008 at 10:45 am

    The general public relies too heavily upon unofficial documentation of this sort, in my opinion. Take for example the contingent who, despite the language to the contrary, hold the belief that the study guide (Driver Manual) from the DMV is the end-all, be-all, final word on ORS regarding use of the public right-of-way. Nothing could be further from the truth, and in many cases this manual contradicts ORS; and visa-versa.

    At face value this seems fairly innocent. But I\’m inclined, as are many commenting here today, to believe this is an example of city officials being something more than simply negligent. It really does smack of disdain, and the tiresome world-view that bicycles are a child\’s toy. On one hand if this was an accident, it\’s a pretty serious one. It has the appearance of policy, and could easily be construed as such. On the other, this could be the product of precise intent and is only being defended as an accident AFTER the fact; a clear defensive posture that I feel is very telling. That is to say that I\’d like to believe every word of that was written, approved and re-approved, before it ever hit the net; and that whomever is responsible for it is now going to lie their way out of trouble they didn\’t predict. Further proof that TonyT is absolutely right in asserting that this is clear evidence of a car-centric society blaming a cyclist for riding under a bus all by themselves, and of their own volition.

    Judgment, implication, and conspiracy aside, the information and language in that document are not accurate. Anyway you slice it, this language should be immediately revised. In all the hubbub, has anyone found out when some of the language of this is going to change?

    \”Meant for kids…\”, my hiney! Some bureaucrat just got busted being a jerk and now that they\’ve been called on it, let the excuses commence!

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  • Bob_M May 9, 2008 at 11:10 am

    It strikes me that if Beaverton considered bikes to be transportation then this would never have been mentioned.

    If Beaverton considers bikes to be toys then that is perfectly in keeping with their walk the bike recommendation and it fits in with the CYA addendum that the memo is directed at kids.

    I don\’t think they thought about what they said, but the did say what they think.

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  • Brad May 9, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Does any of this really matter? Despite the lack of official sanction, social acceptence, and my horribly uncool Washington County address, I still plan to saddle up and ride.

    This is supposed to be a simple endeavor with great benefits and joy. Why must nearly evryone here turn cycling into some wonkish exercise in hand wringing?

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  • Hillsons May 9, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    I\’d like to think this is all to make biking easier to do, Brad.

    Also, Lake Oswego really isn\’t that bad. There are bike lanes, trails, and many of these drivers seem to notice bikes. When in Beaverton on Sunday however, there were no such luxuries.

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  • Brad May 9, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Agreed. Let\’s work to make it more convenient and safe.

    I\’m not convinced that the proper way to get action and win hearts and minds is the usual BikePortland rallying cry of \”Mayor_____is an idiot!\” or \”Lake Beavergreshgard SUCKS!!!\”. I thought pollution, congestion, and sprawl were REGIONAL issues that required urban and suburban solutions?

    I also feel that being a responsible road user entails good knowledge of the law, properly functioning equipment, the ability to operate that equipment in all conditions, good judgement, and respect for ALL road users. We as cyclists need to heed signals, operate within the law, and ride within our abilities just as we expect drivers to. Too often, I see cyclists blaming others 100% for tragedy when a little common sense or skill on the rider\’s part could have created a far different outcome. Yes, some irresponsible drivers cause great tragedy but most car/bike accidents are the result of mistakes and assumptions made by both parties.

    Cycling carries risk no matter how good the infrastructure is or how friendly the local pols are. Why do we seem to think that millions spent on infrastructure or bikey legislation somehow trumps common sense and skill? There are many ways to get seriously effed up while riding a bike. That vast majority of those are RIDER ERROR and not \”evil\” cars, bad planning, or indifferent elected officials. Ride defensively and within your limits lest you become the latest proof of Darwin\’s theories.

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  • Bry May 10, 2008 at 4:45 am

    Wow. Who would have thought an error, and subsequent correction by Beav. P.D., would cause such a stink with some.

    I\’m currently overseas, but I used to live in Beaverton, was on Beaverton\’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and I commuted everyday by bike into Portland and back. There are absolutely areas where Beaverton needs to improve itself concerning bicycle accessibility and safety (Beav.-Hillsdale Hwy comes to mind, as I rode it daily).

    But while on Beaverton\’s BAC (which advises the Mayor\’s Office on how to make the city more bike-friendly), I found both the BPD as well as the Mayor\’s Office sympathetic to the needs and interests of its biking community. I also found a city with dedicated people in its government trying to do their best for their bikers and drivers with a limited amount of transportation funds and severe needs when it comes to maintaining infrastructure. Lastly, I saw that the City of Beaverton had done a lot of good for bikes, like laying miles of new bike lanes, and was committed to doing much more in the future.

    Yes, there\’s a lot more to be done in Beaverton, but its leaders have a difficult (though not impossible) task ahead of them – helping to transform a city built around cars into one where its safe and convenient to bike. But to suggest that the police and the city of Beaverton are somehow \”anti-bike\” is just wrong.

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  • jami May 10, 2008 at 10:41 am

    a.O nailed it in one. drive to not kill people.

    i respect the intentions of the b.p.d. in putting out safety tips. it\’s also nice that they corrected it on that web site link. \”avoid riding at night\” is still problematic, and that list is certainly not just meant for children, given that one tip is \”teach children to blah blah blah.\”

    i\’ve ridden my bike after dark for 10 years now, and i\’ve only been hit once, in bright sunny daylight, when a driver seriously broke the law. my advice to cyclists at intersections would be to pay attention to every car, assuming that they WILL break the law. it\’s served me pretty well.

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