home

Collisions up at some bike box locations: Changes coming to SW 3rd & Madison

Posted by on October 16th, 2012 at 8:42 am

more bike boxes springing up-1.jpg
Collisions are up at SW 3rd and Madison.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

New data released by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) yesterday shows that collisions have gone up significantly at four of 11 intersections where bike boxes were installed in 2008. While longer-term policy and infrastructure changes are in the works for next year, PBOT has announced interim measures aimed at improving safety at those four intersections — one of which is SW 3rd and Madison where Kathryn Rickson was killed back in May.

After Rickson’s death, PBOT was (once again) forced to address critics and rising concerns that they have not done enough to reduce the number of right-hook collisions throughout the city — an issue that has plagued PBOT for years. The announcement of new safety measures and the increase in right-hook collisions came in a letter from City Traffic Engineer Rob Burchfield to the Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Operations Director Mark Kehrli. The letter is a progress report related to the City’s ongoing FHWA experiment with bike boxes and colored bike lanes.

In the letter, Burchfield says that despite a significant increase in bicycle traffic at the intersections and a higher volume overall of reported bicycle collisions (due to a change in police practices in 2008), PBOT still believes that, “the crash data trend suggests that right-hook crashes are increasing.”

According to PBOT’s analysis, in the four years prior to the bike boxes being installed (2004-2007), there were a total of 16 bicycle-involved right-hook collisions at the 11 intersections. During the four years after (2008-2012) there were 32. Of those 32 collisions, 26 of them (81%) occurred at four of the 11 intersections. (By comparison, at the seven other locations, there were seven right-hooks prior to 2008 and six after.)

The locations responsible for the increase in collisions are:

  • SW Madison at 3rd
  • SE Hawthorne at 7th
  • SE Hawthorne at 11th
  • NW Everett at NW 16th

“The 85% speed* for cyclists observed overtaking right-turning vehicles was approximately 18 mph, which we find to be fast speed for the condition.”
— Rob Burchfield, City Traffic Engineer

Put another way, the annual average number of collisions at the four locations above went from 2.25 prior to the installation of green bike boxes and bike lanes, to 6.5 per year after installation. By comparison, the seven other locations saw a decrease in collisions from 1.75 per year to 1.5 per year.

This surprising increase in right-hooks led PBOT to take a closer look at what is happening at these four locations. From reading police reports they found that 88% (a “high proportion”) of the collisions occurred during a “stale” green signal. Or in other words, the collisions occurred when the light had been green for some time and not during the red phase or right as the light turns green. After observing the locations, PBOT also determined other similarities in the behavior of road users that they feel are directly contributing to the collisions:

  • All three locations have downhill grades on the treatment approach.
  • The 85% speed* for cyclists observed overtaking right-turning vehicles was approximately 18 mph, which we find to be fast speed for the condition.
  • A high percentage of cyclists were overtaking right-turning vehicles during the peak-hour observation periods.
  • A very high percentage of vehicles (98%) yield to cyclists over-taking on their right.

(*”85% speed” is a standard measurement for traffic engineers. In this case, it means that 85% of the riders are traveling at 18 mph or less, or that 15% of them are going over 18 mph (thanks for the explanation Art Fuldodger).)

PBOT has concluded that the speed of people riding is a “likely contributing factor that may explain the safety performance of these treatment locations.” Based on their analysis and observations, PBOT says they plan to modify the design of these four intersections. By next year, we can expect to see several new measures implemented including: a separate right turn lane; the prohibition of all vehicle right turns; a separate signal phase for through bicycle traffic (like on N Broadway at Williams); and special signage activated by people on bikes to warn drivers of potential conflicts.

While those longer-term will have to wait until 2013 (most of PBOT’s construction shuts down during the wet and cold season), they have announced interim plans (in graphic above) for the four hot-spot intersections that will include: new ‘Right Turn Yield to Bicycles’ signs; supplemental pavement markings in the bike lane prior to intersections that read, ‘SLOW, LOOK FOR RIGHT TURNS’; and they will modify the green pavement in the intersection into a “broken green pattern” in order to “more clearly communicate that this is a conflict area to people riding bicycles.”

——

This is an interesting development from PBOT. Their findings that high speed bicycling is to blame in these collisions could expose them to criticism and “blaming the victim”. Oregon law is clear that “failure to yield” to a bicycle rider is illegal; so it would seem that in right-hooks, the person driving the car has a lot of the responsibility to ensure they don’t hit someone on their right. How did PBOT make its determination that the speed of the person bicycling was a factor — even when that person was going under the posted speed limit? The DA’s finding on the Rickson case (which essentially implied that Ms. Rickson was partially responsible for the collision because she attempted to overtake a right-turning truck on the right), definitely played a role in forming PBOT’s perspective. So much so that they included the DA’s full decision as an attachment to their letter to the FHWA. PBOT also has motivation to find speedy cycling at least partially to blame. They have been under a lot of pressure to “fix” the right-hook problem and telling people on bikes to slow down and insinuating that it’s the bike riders’ fault — and not the design of the roadway — is certainly more convenient and politically palatable.

Stay tuned for more coverage and thoughts. For more background, read Burchfield’s letter to the FHWA and take a closer look at the changes planned for the four intersections in this PDF (8 MB).

Email This Post Email This Post


Gravatars make better comments... Get yours here.
Please notify the publisher about offensive comments.
Comments
  • matty October 16, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for covering this! Usually I prefer this site, but the Oregonian has some interesting comments. http://blog.oregonlive.com/commuting/2012/10/right-hook_crashes_increasing.html#incart_river_default

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Spiffy October 16, 2012 at 11:52 am

      “interesting”…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jake October 16, 2012 at 9:08 am

    How hilarious. From now on, when I merge on the highway I’ll be sure to just move over and if there’s a car there, too bad; they were moving too fast. If I want to make a right turn and I run into a pedestrian, too bad, they’re moving too fast. If I want to turn left against oncoming traffic and they collide with me, too bad, they were moving too fast. How the onus is on a cyclist to yield to a vehicle crossing THEIR lane of travel is beyond any reasonable, rational line of thought.

    Most bike-friendly city in America.

    Recommended Thumb up 20

    • Jake October 16, 2012 at 9:16 am

      Sorry, this was a really angst-y comment I realize in hindsight. Not sure what the deal was.

      At any rate, I wasn’t trying to say the study on collisions going up was invalid, more that I feel it’s very very silly to suggest that more vulnerable road users have any sort of obligation to yield, especially when if their lane was a car lane (and cyclists were cars), such behavior would never be allowed. I guess that was my point, that even though collisions might be going up, infrastructure, law, attitudes seem like worthy things to go after, not reasonable expectation that your lane-space will not be violated suddenly. Hope that makes it clearer.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

    • JL October 16, 2012 at 9:50 am

      It’s like driving North on the Marquam Brigde where I-5 and 405 meet. If the two left lanes are backed up on I-5 but the 405 traffic lanes to the right are cruising along does it mean that a driver can just pull out of his I-5 lane to the right into the 405 lane and if he gets hit its the driver that was going the speed limit on 405 and couldn’t stop in time to avoid the collision is at fault?
      Did that make any sense? Kind of a 3rd and Madison situation but with motor vehicle only lanes next to each other, not motorized optional and non motorized vehicle lanes next to each other.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Vance Longwell October 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      Uh yeah Jake, certainly don’t question the lunacy of singling bicycles out for the privilege of not having to follow Oregon’s no passing on the right-laws. If you simply must, how about bikes yield for cars in this situation? Logic, and rational, dictate that it is far easier for a bicycle rider to adapt to their immediate surroundings, than a car.

      This is a prime example of the slippery slope when we let a Church take over city planning.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • Greg October 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm

        Passing on the right makes perfect sense in many situations. Not that it means cyclists have carte blanche at all times. Personally, I generally prefer to take the lane, even though that is technically illegal when there is a bike lane.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

  • NF October 16, 2012 at 9:22 am

    The speed issue is really interesting.

    This situation implies that conventional bike facilities are not designed for “high” speed travel. Bicyclists can lawfully travel at speeds up to the speed limit … shouldn’t we design bikeways to let them do that?

    Recommended Thumb up 25

  • Paul in the 'couve October 16, 2012 at 9:25 am

    SO – on downhill stretches when the 85% speed for cyclists is 18 MPH – meaning that many / most cyclists are exceeding 20 MPH – the solution is just plain simple – Cyclist TAKE THE LANE and cars slow down.

    There really isn’t another option short of total separation and we just aren’t there yet.

    The ONLY safe way right turning cars and fast moving bikes can share space is if they actually share the lane.

    Recommended Thumb up 23

    • Paul in the 'couve October 16, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Also, it should be clear that is legal for cyclists to move and travel even in the further left lane (when available) and to overtake right turning cars on the Left.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

    • wsbob October 16, 2012 at 11:07 am

      “SO – on downhill stretches when the 85% speed for cyclists is 18 MPH – meaning that many / most cyclists are exceeding 20 MPH – the solution is just plain simple – Cyclist TAKE THE LANE and cars slow down. …” Paul in the ‘couve

      If the speed limit is 25 mph, 18 mph isn’t far from being a reasonable rate of speed to travel in the main lane rather than the bike lane, through an intersection by someone on a bike seeking to discourage people in motor vehicles from passing them at or as they approach the intersection. 20 mph would generally be better.

      That is, especially considering their being the vulnerable road users they are, if the person on the bike adequately signals their transition from bike lane to main lane as they approach the intersection.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • are October 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm

        what speed is reasonable has almost nothing to do with the posted limit, but has everything to do with conditions on the ground. it is rarely appropriate to go over twelve mph on any street downtown, regardless of mode.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Art Fuldodger October 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      Actually, if the 85th percentile speed for cyclists is 18 mph, that means that 85% of cyclists are travelling at 18 mph OR LESS. Stated another way, 15% of cyclists are going over 18 mph.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Vance Longwell October 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      Paul, it is illegal in Oregon for a bicyclist to be outside a bike-lane, when there is one.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

      • wsbob October 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm

        Vance Longwell
        Paul, it is illegal in Oregon for a bicyclist to be outside a bike-lane, when there is one.
        Recommended 0

        The Oregon law relating to use of bike lanes by people riding bikes allows a wide range of legal exceptions for riding outside of the bike lane. Here’s a link to a text of the law:

        http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.420

        Recommended Thumb up 5

        • Vance Longwell October 16, 2012 at 2:09 pm

          No it doesn’t bob. You choose to ignore the spirit of the law, and misconstrue the affirmative-defense provisions, there for people’s safety for Pete’s sake, in an attempt to rationalize breaking this law. Don’t take my word for it. Go ask a district court judge how they feel about people invoking these provisions in court, for things like the so-called door-zone, and other commonly deployed attempts to avoid compliance; and see how far it gets you.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

          • Paul in the 'couve October 16, 2012 at 2:29 pm

            The exception are written in the code and rather broadly. Some judges probably DON”T like them. But there they are, part of the law. Can you rely on “getting off” probably depends on the judge and the circumstances, but that doesn’t change the fact that the law allows exceptions and for those reasons, few officers bother ticketing that infraction because it is difficult to uphold the tickets.

            Recommended Thumb up 2

          • wsbob October 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm

            “…You choose to ignore the spirit of the law…” Vance Longwell

            The ‘spirit of the law’, which you consider to be, what exactly?

            The text of ORS 814.420 is largely an overview of general exceptions to a basic requirement that people traveling by bike use bike lanes, where a bike lane that meets the requirement for safe use, is present.

            Essentially, what the law says is that if….for whatever reason…a bike lane isn’t safe for to be ridden on by someone on a bike, exceptions in ORS 814.420 legally allow that person to ride the main travel lanes.

            People…read 814.420 carefully to understand your right to the road that the law quite clearly specifies. If you know and understand this law, it can be a defense against ignorant assumptions that people traveling by bike must at all times ride in bike lanes where bike lanes are present.

            Recommended Thumb up 7

            • spare_wheel October 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm

              i want to quote the exception on which wsbob rests his defence of this flawed and dangerous law:

              “3c: Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions.”

              Apparently avoiding some unspecified hazardous condition provides “experienced cyclists” carte blanche to perform intricate manoeuvres ex-bike lane. Somehow I doubt that Judge Zusman would agree.

              Recommended Thumb up 2

              • wsbob October 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm

                “…this flawed and dangerous law…” spare_wheel

                814.420 isn’t a dangerous law. In fact the law actually offers defense of the use of main lanes of the road by people traveling by bike.

                There is a flaw in 814.420, and that would be insufficient clarification of (2) in the law, the element of the law specifying that before bike lanes can be found safe for people to ride bikes on them, the jurisdiction having authority over the bike lane must submit them to public hearing. There’s insufficient clarity about what type of public hearing is to be part of the finding, and what role the public is to have in the finding through the hearing.

                “…Apparently avoiding some unspecified hazardous condition provides “experienced cyclists” carte blanche to perform intricate manoeuvres ex-bike lane. Somehow I doubt that Judge Zusman would agree.” spare_wheel

                Not exactly sure what to make of the first sentence of the above excerpt. Basically (3)(c) of the law, specifically “…or other hazardous conditions.”, seems to stand as a general exception to allow cyclists of any level of skill or ability, to legally leave the bike lane to avoid conditions they find hazardous for.

                He might have, but I don’t recall Judge Zusman (interested readers can do a search of bikeportland archives), in his decision about a motor vehicle/bike collision on Hawthorne Blvd in which question was raised about the existence of bike lanes in intersections, having much to say about people traveling by bike, opting to use exceptions in 814.420 to leave bike lanes to avoid hazardous conditions. Zusman’s decision was actively discussed here at bikeportland. I don’t recall anyone commenting that Zusman had a problem with bikes leaving the bike lane, according to the law, to avoid hazardous conditions.

                Recommended Thumb up 1

                • are October 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm

                  not wanting to further beat this entirely dead horse, but it will be counterintuitive to the non-bicycling traffic court judge to say you left the bike lane to avoid a hazard arising on your left.

                  Recommended Thumb up 2

            • are October 16, 2012 at 3:34 pm

              while it is true that if i were charged under 814.420 i would offer the defense that the lane itself, as designed, placed me in an unsafe position with relation to overtaking motorists, that is not at all what the statute says, and i would expect the defense to fail. it is certainly not the case that the five specific exceptions include “whatever reason.” though that would be a real creative way to write a statute.

              Recommended Thumb up 2

              • Paul in the 'couve October 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm

                Are,

                In these specific locations, with PDOT data saying they are the most dangerous for right hooks and the green pavement…. And even this article on bikeportland.org bringing attention to the danger I think you would stand a fairly good chance even with a less than sympathetic judge making the case that you have a valid reason to be out of the bike lane to avoid right hooks.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Paul in the 'couve October 16, 2012 at 2:20 pm

        Not Quite Vance… It is illegal to be outside of a provided Bike Lane UNLESS you have one of the several REASONS provided in the code – avoiding a hazard, preparing for a turn… etc. etc. and except for occasional harassment there is really no attempt to enforce that law. Avoiding a right hook while maintaining roughly the speed of traffic certainly fits with the spirit of the law as well as the wording. … in front of some ass-hole cop and a particular judge your mileage may vary – but I’ll take my chances with the cops and the courts over a right hook anyday.

        Still…. lets get rid of the mandatory side path provision.. There is ONE good thing to biking in Vancouver

        Recommended Thumb up 3

  • David October 16, 2012 at 9:27 am

    My favorite Oregon Live comment on this so far this morning:

    “Two things are consistant with the bike community. One they dont believe they are sugject to traffic laws same as motor vehicles. Two it is always the fault of the driver in a bike/ auto accident. Bike riders, much like obama, have always blamed others for things they create. Lacking commonsense generally in potland, and almost always in the bike community, one of the biggest causes of accidents not paint on the street.”

    Recommended Thumb up 10

    • Matt October 16, 2012 at 9:36 am

      Potland!!! Love it.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • mikeybikey October 16, 2012 at 9:30 am

    If it is the speed of bicycles that is the contributing factor and not the actual design of the intersection, then would we not also see an increase in crashes at the intersection of NW Hoyt and NW Broadway? Coming down the hill by the post office there bikes pick up a lot of speed. Seems to me that there are factors independent of the bike box and bike speed that are contributing to the crashes.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • 9watts October 16, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Fascinating. Although the speed of cyclists was mentioned, I notice that all the proposed fixes focus on cars(!)
    This was particularly interesting to me in light of Kathryn Rickson’s case:
    ‘Right Turn Yield to Bicycles’ signs
    Does the addition of this sign have any bearing on future finding of fault in cases like hers?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Vance Longwell October 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      9watts – Oregon was recently turned into one of these no-fault states, civilly speaking. My own political party shot me in the foot on that one.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • are October 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm

        oregon is a comparative fault state
        http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/31.600
        which means that contributory negligence is not a complete bar to recovery, but will instead operate to reduce the share of damages you can recover. the predecessor to the current statute has been on the books since 1971.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • spare_wheel October 16, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Apparently cyclists who bike fast are *asking* to be hit. And the placement of warnings in the bike lane is a good indicator of PBOT’s view of the transportation hierarchy.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • El Biciclero October 16, 2012 at 3:45 pm

      I don’t understand why bikes traveling below the speed limit are viewed as moving “too fast”. Why should cars driving 27 in a 20 zone be considered reasonable, but cyclists going 18 in a 20 zone be seen as “too fast”? It’s ridiculous.

      Recommended Thumb up 9

      • jim October 16, 2012 at 11:36 pm

        not ridiculous if they can’t stop

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • El Biciclero October 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm

          Not having brakes is a different violation.

          Oh, you didn’t mean “can’t stop”, you meant “can’t stop soon enough”. Soon enough for what? How often do drivers claim that something/someone “came out of nowhere” and they “couldn’t stop in time”? Were they driving too fast? Or just not paying enough attention? Or is there a different standard when drivers and cars are involved? There are frequent occasions where a driver or pedestrian will enter a cyclist’s path so suddenly that there actually isn’t time to stop. Nobody can stop instantly.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • A.K. October 17, 2012 at 11:19 am

        You can’t win. Either you’re going “too fast” in the bike lane or “too slow” the the auto lane. Which one is it!?!

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • El Biciclero October 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm

          Heh, that’s true. Look at comments from bike-dislikers in other online forums. Most complaints about cyclists on sidewalks have them traveling at 20-30mph down the sidewalk. Complaints about cyclists in the street generally describe them as going 5-10mph.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Reza October 16, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Repeal the law prohibiting drivers from merging into the bike lane prior to taking a right turn, as is allowed in almost every other state in America. Here’s the law in Minnesota, for example:

    “Whenever it is necessary for the driver of a motor vehicle to cross a bicycle lane adjacent to the driver’s 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, yielding the right-of-way to any vehicles approaching so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard”

    In the meantime, bicyclists should merge into traffic any time the bike lane runs to the right of a right-hand option lane (straight or right turns allowed) at an intersection. It’s a lot safer for all involved, especially when entering the intersection during a stale green phase.

    Recommended Thumb up 14

    • David October 16, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Do we have data on right hook collisions from states you mention, like Minnesota?

      Recommended Thumb up 2

    • wsbob October 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

      David, good point. Some people think California’s, and apparently Minnesota’s law allowing motor vehicles to merge into bike lanes in preparation for right turns, provides a measure of safety over that of Oregon’s law that keeps motor vehicles out of bike lanes in preparation for right turns.

      Fact is, both laws involve allow motor vehicles to cross over bike lanes with a consequential potential for right hooks, but it’s Oregon’s law that preserves bike lanes as a refuge for people that bike.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • are October 16, 2012 at 11:35 am

        it is not a “hook” if the motorist is merging across the bike lane

        Recommended Thumb up 4

      • JJJ October 16, 2012 at 11:51 am

        Its not just Minnesota and California….its every other state and the district.

        Merging is always safer. Thats why its the rule EVERYWHERE else. You dont exist the freeway from the middle lane, you merge right. You dont turn into driveways from the left lane, you merge right.

        Enough with the signs, paints, signals etc….just change the law.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

        • David October 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm

          I’m not disagreeing with any of these points, but the only way to know if what you’re saying is accurate we need to see bicycle/car collision data from intersections in states that use merging versus states like Oregon that don’t. Does anybody have this data? Or are we going to continue to make assumptions that we can’t back up?

          Recommended Thumb up 2

        • wsbob October 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm

          “Its not just Minnesota and California….its every other state and the district. …” JJJ

          Got a source for that? I did a little web search and didn’t find a source saying every other state and the DOC allows motor vehicles to travel in the bike lane in preparation for right turns as per California and apparently Minnesota allows.

          Explain if you care to, how you think a merge into the bike lane by people in motor vehicles preparing to make a right turn, is safer for people on bikes in the bike lane, than it is for them when people in motor vehicles are obliged to wait until arriving at the intersection to cross over the bike lane for the right turn they intend to make.

          Both involve the person in the motor vehicle crossing in front of people on bikes in the bike lane. When someone driving moves to the right, into a person on a bike in the bike lane, the person on the bike has been right hooked, regardless of whether the collision or close call occurs at the intersection or some distance back from the intersection.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

          • are October 16, 2012 at 2:37 pm

            because the motorist who is “obliged” to wait will sometimes not wait, while the motorist who is permitted to merge across will predictably merge across.

            Recommended Thumb up 2

            • El Biciclero October 16, 2012 at 3:51 pm

              …Or not so predictably. At least when drivers are intending to make a right turn, there is a detectable sound of slowing tires and other clues that let me know he is up to something, signal or no. If allowed to merge early, there is not necessarily any need to slow until after merging, and in the absence of a signal, I would have no clue whether a driver pulling up from behind on my right was going to suddenly “merge” me right into the curb.

              Recommended Thumb up 1

              • El Biciclero October 16, 2012 at 3:52 pm

                Oops, meant to say “…on my left”.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

              • El Biciclero October 17, 2012 at 9:59 am

                In fact this almost happened to me twice on my way to work today, in legitimate merging situations. One in which the bike lane was dashed to the left of a right-only: driver started across into the right-only, which I was headed into as well, but I was asserting the full right-only lane rather than hugging the curb. I saw him out of the corner of my eye and slowed; he heard my squeaky brakes and panic-swerved back to the left until he figured out where I was. Later, I was in the second-from-left-hand lane of a four-lane one-way, and the guy in the leftmost lane wanted to move over to where I was–to exactly where I was. He realized I was there and slowed to pull in behind me, but it was close. I only caught a glimpse of this one in my rear-view; it would have been quite a surprise to take a front bumper sideways to my rear wheel.

                It almost seems like changing to the “California rule” would serve to reduce the severity, but not necessarily the number of collisions resulting from drivers not seeing cyclists. Rather than T-boning cyclists mid-turn or having cyclists slam full-on into (or slide/get pulled under) turning vehicles, we’ll just have sideswipes and hope that there is a sidewalk adjacent rather than parked cars.

                Just as a general observation, the “California rule” would de facto not help in situations such as the Rickson tragedy where a large/long vehicle is turning. Those things can’t turn from the curb lane regardless of what kind of lane it might be.

                Recommended Thumb up 1

                • wsbob October 17, 2012 at 11:04 am

                  It seems you’re describing a complicated traffic situation that’s not uncommon. This type of traffic situation relies on road user awareness and accommodation for everyone to pass through such situations safely.

                  People on bikes and people that are driving, positioning their vehicles in relation to each other as they approach intersections, is another thing that’s key to getting everybody through such situations safely, and keeping traffic moving smoothly.

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

                • are October 17, 2012 at 11:22 am

                  i hate to agree with wsbob on anything, but what you are describing is a matter of awareness on the part of both/all participants. the fact that we have a law in oregon requiring a motorist to go all the way to the intersection before hanging a right across the bike lane, yielding to any bikes coming through, does not in practice prevent the occasional right hook.

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

                • El Biciclero October 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm

                  “the fact that we have a law in oregon requiring a motorist to go all the way to the intersection before hanging a right across the bike lane, yielding to any bikes coming through, does not in practice prevent the occasional right hook.”

                  Agreed. All I’m saying outside of my personal anecdotes here is that having a law that requires merging into the bike lane before making a right turn won’t prevent the occasional sideswipe. We just trade one kind of collision for another. I think it’s a toss-up with respect to which type of collision would be more readily avoidable by cyclist defensive measures. It could be argued that sideswipes are more often non-fatal.

                  Recommended Thumb up 1

                • JJJ October 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm

                  I agree that theres no stopping trucks and such because their turning radii are completely different. Many time they have to cross the yellow line left to turn right. Only solution is to ban trucks over x feet in cities.

                  And youll note that the way you describe the severity of collisions is exactly how proponents of roundabouts explain it. Will collisions decrease? not necessarily, but severe ones will.

                  Recommended Thumb up 1

          • JJJ October 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm

            As you can understand, Im not about to look up and post every states laws on right turns, but Ill get you started. Note that in most states, the law just says “right turns must be made as far right as possible” which means in the bike lane.

            Massachusetts has it written like this:
            “When turning to the right, an operator shall do so in the lane of traffic nearest to the right-hand side of the roadway and as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of roadway.”

            Bike lane is a lane of traffic, so car must be in it. Thats why the bike lanes all go from solid to striped as they get near an intersection.

            New York is the same. Look at their “mixing zones” for the separated lanes in Manhattan.

            Heres a post from DC explaining the law, and also why its better
            http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/6528/drivers-must-merge-into-bike-lanes-before-turning-right/

            Recommended Thumb up 1

            • wsbob October 16, 2012 at 11:32 pm

              “…Note that in most states, the law just says “right turns must be made as far right as possible” which means in the bike lane. …” JJJ

              May be true, but I wouldn’t assume it to be so for all states of the U.S., based on excerpts from Minnesota’s, California’s, or DOC’s law, anymore than I’d assume Oregon’s law applies to all U.S. states based on excerpts from Oregon’s law.

              I looked at the page you provided a link to, which discusses and provides excerpts from DOC’s law. The writer considers DOC’s law that allows motor vehicles to travel in the bike lane in preparation for right turns, to be safer for people that bike in the bike lane, than laws that prohibit motor vehicles from entering the bike lane for that purpose.

              The writer does not mention the potential for a right hook by way of transition from the main travel lane (writer calls this ‘general purpose’ lane) into the bike lane, but the following comment is that of the first person commenting to his article:

              “This is making the assumption that the drivers will both a) signal before merging and b) look over their shoulder before moving into the lane. If they don’t do those, then it really doesn’t matter where they turn from, because they will run over any cyclists in the lane regardless.

              by engrish_major on Jul 13, 2010 10:27 am ” http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/6528

              Bike lanes are traffic lanes, but they aren’t main travel, or general purpose lanes. They are, as the writer refers to them, ‘restricted lanes’. They’re restricted in part because the traffic their use is designated for, is bicycles ridden by vulnerable road users…people literally exposed and particularly vulnerable to collisions with motor vehicles. As such, for vulnerable road users traveling by bike, bike lanes can be relatively safer for travel than main travel lanes, which Oregon law recognizes by generally not allowing motor vehicles to travel in them.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

              • are October 17, 2012 at 12:02 am

                the uniform vehicle code requires the approach for a right turn to be made “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway”
                http://www.ohiobike.org/NCUTLO/uvc11pt2.htm
                some version of the uniform code was adopted in every state starting in the 1920s. the task of determining how many states have a variant rule like that in oregon is a bit onerous, but you are welcome to click state by state on this link
                http://www.bikeleague.org/action/bikelaws/state_laws.php
                though i would suggest that because oregon is practically unique in striping bike lanes all the way to the corner, you will not find many states with statutes accommodating this nonstandard practice

                Recommended Thumb up 2

                • El Biciclero October 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm

                  Oregon also has conflicting definitions of the term “Roadway”. On one hand, it is the improved area of the highway designed for vehicular travel, but on the other hand, a “bicycle lane” is “adjacent to” the roadway. This seems to imply that the far right edge of the “roadway” does and does not include the bike lane. Either that or bike lanes are a) not ” improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel” or b) bicycles are not “vehicles”, except that “A bicycle is a vehicle for purposes of the vehicle code”, but maybe not for the purposes of defining the “roadway”…

                  Recommended Thumb up 2

              • wsbob October 17, 2012 at 11:37 pm

                El Biciclero October 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm …There’s potential for confusion where a line painted to the right side of the road and the curb or ditch doesn’t necessarily indicate a bike lane, but instead, for example…just the road’s shoulder with a fog line.

                Clarification of situations like this is I think, an example of the reasons Oregon should consider having bike specific study materials, written and on the road testing of some of the people riding in challenging road and traffic situations.

                It seems to me that bike lanes are definitely part of the roadway. In Oregon, motor vehicles are to stay out of bike lanes. People disagree of course, but I think motor vehicles prohibited from traveling in bike lanes is a good thing, with this caveat: People riding the bike lane must know how to manage their position relative to traffic to their left in the main travel lanes, where they pass driveways and approach and cross intersections.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

            • David October 17, 2012 at 9:34 am

              The post you used as a citation for your evidence of it being better to merge into the bike lane doesn’t have a single piece of data attached to it. It’s just a blog post saying why this individual thinks it’s better, but it also fails to provide anything concrete.

              There are a lot of things that people think are intuitive about how roadways work, and things that “just make sense if you think about them.” But without any actual data it’s meaningless. Nobody here can actually say that merging into a bike lane is safer and back it up with stats.

              Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Reza October 16, 2012 at 11:01 am

      @wsbob:

      Except that Oregon’s law invites bicyclists into a false sense of security between their painted lines, while other states realize that it’s much safer for cyclists to ride defensively by merging into traffic. They even give cyclists more room to pass right-turning motorists on their left.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

      • encephalopath October 16, 2012 at 11:16 am

        So allow cars to drive into the bike lane whenever they want. Bike riders will feel less secure and therefore be more careful. Problem solved…

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • John Lascurettes October 16, 2012 at 11:48 am

          Not whenever they want. California’s law, for example, is explicit about it only being allowed for the right turn, that the driver must signal before merging into it, and that they must yield to cyclists before merging.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

          • El Biciclero October 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm

            Which, in practical application tends to mean, “whenever they want”.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

      • wsbob October 16, 2012 at 11:31 am

        “…Except that Oregon’s law invites bicyclists into a false sense of security…” Reza

        Reza…that’s a good point about bicyclists and use of the bike lane…actually, I’ll say ‘some’ bicyclists, because I tend to think that experienced road user cyclists familiar with safe transitions of intersections, and with Oregon’s bike lane use law, know not to fall into that particular false sense of security trap.

        People that are going to travel by bike need to have the knowledge of how to deal with tricky street situations. It would be great if all street situations, traffic flow, signage, directional travel, positioning and so forth, were intuitive, but in so many situations in Portland and out in the Beav where I live, it’s just not that way, and probably won’t be for some time to come.

        Maybe it exists somewhere, but indications that Cali-Minnesota type bike lane use laws allowing motor vehicle use of bike lanes to prepare for right turns, really offer a generally superior level of safety for people that bike, isn’t something I’ve casually come across.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • spare_wheel October 16, 2012 at 3:11 pm

          “because I tend to think that experienced road user cyclists familiar with safe transitions of intersections, and with Oregon’s bike lane use law”

          unfortunately the mandatory sidepath statute offers little protection to a cyclist who exits a bike lane. any exceptions are vague and poorly worded. moreover, the statutory exceptions have not prevented cyclists from being cited.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

          • wsbob October 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm

            “…unfortunately the mandatory sidepath statute offers little protection to a cyclist who exits a bike lane. …” spare_wheel

            Whatever it is you’re trying to say, is not clear. 814.420 generally describes situations where it’s legal for people on bikes to ride outside bike lanes.

            “…any exceptions are vague and poorly worded. moreover, the statutory exceptions have not prevented cyclists from being cited. …” spare_wheel

            Since the law’s inception, tell us how many people have been cited, or, cited and fined.

            If you really…really think the law doesn’t belong on the books, time’s wasting to get busy having it revised, or thrown out entirely, if you have a sufficiently persuasive argument for either of those actions. Oregon legislature meets again in January 2013.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • spare_wheel October 16, 2012 at 11:03 pm

              “generally describes situations where …”

              is the law specific or general (vague)?

              “Since the law’s inception, tell us how many people have been cited, or, cited and fined.”

              citations have been described on bike portland. i would also be interested in how many times the law has been used.

              “time’s wasting to get busy having it revised, or thrown out entirely”

              until the law is thrown out i will continue to practice civil disobedience.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

              • wsbob October 16, 2012 at 11:55 pm

                “…is the law specific or general (vague)? …” spare_wheel

                As I believe it’s reasonable to read the exceptions provided in 814.420, with the exception of (2), which is vague, those in (3) are general rather than specific.

                I’d say the reason exceptions provided in (3) are general rather than specific is because of the broad range of situations people writing and approving the law sought to include in the law’s coverage. It can be constructive to visualize some of the situations the elements of (3) provide for. Altogether, they’d possibly make a very long list.

                So, you may tend to find yourself in situations where you may be thinking you’re breaking the law when you’re leaving the bike lane, when actually, if you came to understand the law and the exceptions to traveling in the bike lane the law provides, you might realize you’re not actually breaking it.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

                • spare_wheel October 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm

                  whether i am violating the law is open to interpretation.

                  given that ppb (and other le agencies) have stated that enforcement of this law is no longer a priority one has to wonder why its still on the books. imo, this law promotes a false sense of security that often contributes to cyclist-motorist conflict. imo, any “convenience” this law affords motorists is far outweighed by the safety issues it creates.

                  Recommended Thumb up 1

                • wsbob October 17, 2012 at 6:58 pm

                  “…imo, this law promotes a false sense of security that often contributes to cyclist-motorist conflict. imo, any “convenience” this law affords motorists is far outweighed by the safety issues it creates.” spare_wheel

                  Completely unsubstantiated conclusion. You don’t describe the ‘false sense of security’ you’re thinking of…what type, or on whose part. I’d say very few people are even aware of this law, though they should be aware of it, and understand it. Not knowing of the law, it’s not likely it’s causing any conflict on the road, whatsoever.

                  If road users were more familiar with the law, it would probably be more beneficial to all. 814.420 actually stands as a benefit to people riding bikes in generally specifying situations in which they have legal right to use main lanes of the road. The law in some situations, may offer a certain convenience to people that drive, but nothing major.

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

                • are October 17, 2012 at 9:24 pm

                  of course i cannot speak for spare wheel, and i might state similar conclusions in different terms, but (a) the striping of a bike lane into which motorists are forbidden to stray purports to afford cyclists a refuge, but in reality provides only the illusion of a refuge, and (b) the striping of a bike lane from which cyclists are permitted to stray only under limited circumstances in fact segregates cyclists from the main flow of traffic, purely for the convenience of motorists, with no actual benefit (and some detriment) to cyclists.

                  it is certainly true that rather few people using either mode are familiar with the details of the statutes, but i think it is generally understood by both camps that the stripe means the cyclist “belongs over there,” and this is in fact roughly the law.

                  Recommended Thumb up 3

                • Alan 1.0 October 17, 2012 at 9:55 pm

                  814.420 actually stands as a benefit to people riding bikes in generally specifying situations in which they have legal right to use main lanes of the road.

                  My reading of ORS 814 is that it is not…

                  814.420 (Failure to use bicycle lane or path)

                  …but instead is actually…

                  814.400 (Application of vehicle laws to bicycles)

                  which provides people riding bikes the legal right to use main lanes of the road. Section 420 negates that right in some circumstances.

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

                • wsbob October 17, 2012 at 11:16 pm

                  “…814.420 actually stands as a benefit to people riding bikes in generally specifying situations in which they have legal right to use main lanes of the road. …” wsbob

                  My reading of ORS 814 is that it is not…

                  814.420 (Failure to use bicycle lane or path)

                  …but instead is actually…

                  814.400 (Application of vehicle laws to bicycles)

                  which provides people riding bikes the legal right to use main lanes of the road. Section 420 negates that right in some circumstances.” Alan 1.0

                  Respectfully, 814.420 does not ‘negate’ or ‘take away’. As you described here:

                  http://bikeportland.org/2012/10/16/collisions-up-at-some-bike-box-locations-changes-coming-to-sw-3rd-madison-78859#comment-3303201

                  Oregon’s bike specific laws are in a certain order, 814.400 being the first of them and framing with conditions, right to use of the road for people riding bikes. Conditions are attached to use of the road with motor vehicles too, to account for their various differences from each other and from bikes.

                  814.420, a little further down the list of 814 laws, goes into more specifics about the conditions laid out in 814.400.

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

                • Alan 1.0 October 18, 2012 at 9:15 am

                  Respectfully, 814.420 does not ‘negate’ or ‘take away’.

                  Of course it does; it would not be presented in .400 (1b) as an “exception” if it did not.

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

                • El Biciclero October 19, 2012 at 9:26 am

                  Not to prolong this discussion, but I’m going to prolong this discussion. Here is a real-life for-instance from your neck of the woods, wsbob:

                  Ride down Watson Ave. from Farmington to 5th in the left lane. Do it (as I have) to avoid buses, do it to avoid driver’s-side doors from parked cars, and do it because eventually you’re going to turn left on 5th. Legal? Legal all the way back to Farmington? Let’s say you get stopped at 2nd St. by a cop who just happened to be turning left from 1st St. Which exception are you going to cite for him as to why you were out of the bike lane? a) avoiding hazards (if so, what hazards will you name), or b) preparing to make a left turn?

                  If there were no bike lane on Watson, riding in the leftmost portion of the left lane on a one-way would be perfectly legal (see 814.430(d)) no exceptions, no special circumstances needed–I could ride in the left lane strictly because I want to. ORS 814.420 makes it illegal, taking away the right of cyclists to use that technique to avoid the problems I mentioned in my scenario.

                  Recommended Thumb up 3

    • El Biciclero October 16, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      “In the meantime, bicyclists should merge into traffic any time the bike lane runs to the right of a right-hand option lane”

      Hey, get the leg. to repeal 814.420 and we’re all good.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Randall S. October 16, 2012 at 10:04 am

    If only there were several countries who had already fixed this problem by using dedicated bicycle traffic lights.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Craig K October 16, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Paul in the ‘couve
    SO – on downhill stretches when the 85% speed for cyclists is 18 MPH – meaning that many / most cyclists are exceeding 20 MPH – the solution is just plain simple – Cyclist TAKE THE LANE and cars slow down.
    There really isn’t another option short of total separation and we just aren’t there yet.
    The ONLY safe way right turning cars and fast moving bikes can share space is if they actually share the lane.
    Recommended 1

    Perhaps these are places where sharrows would serve better then bike lanes and maybe create right turn lanes to move that traffic out of the thru traffic lanes.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • ScottB October 16, 2012 at 10:07 am

    You mangled 85th percentile. 85th percentile with auto speed is the same as 85th percentile with test scores. 85% of the road users are going the 85th percentile speed or less. 15% are going faster than the 85th percentile speeds.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 16, 2012 at 10:10 am

      Thanks ScottB, I’ve edited that passage to better explain it using your input.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob October 16, 2012 at 10:48 am

      This story’s explanation of ‘…the 85th percentile speed…”, is still not as clear as it probably should be for all readers. I’m presuming the 85th percentile speed means 85% of the posted speed limit for a given street, which for downtown, I believe for downtown streets like Madison, past 3rd, is 25 mph.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • are October 16, 2012 at 11:37 am

        no, it is the speed at or below which 85 pct. of motorists, or in this case cyclists, are moving, regardless of the posted limit.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

  • GlowBoy October 16, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Of course speed is a “likely contributing factor” in these collisions! That’s why these intersections were targeted first for green paint and later for bike boxes in the first place!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • are October 16, 2012 at 11:38 am

      the bike boxes were not designed to have any effect during the “late” green phase. they are designed to queue cyclists to the front during the red phase.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Phil October 16, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Bicycles going too fast at 18mph? Unless the posted speed limit is 15mph, this is a baseless arguement.

    As far as cyclist’s overtaking cars on the right with blinking turn signals. Common sense applies here more than any slap on the wrist laws. If you trust a stranger driving a car that’s capable of killing you, go right ahead – wink wink, you’ve got the “right of way”. Personally I’ll stick to common sense and avoid getting run over.

    Recommended Thumb up 15

  • Dave October 16, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I suppose the determination that speed of bicycles was a contributor to the increase in collisions could be based partly on the assumption that people driving don’t *expect* people on bicycles to be able to travel that fast (in my experience, I’ve had people driving cut me off many times, seemingly because they really just thought I wasn’t going to get there in time for it to be a problem).

    The other interesting thing to note is that bike boxes are primarily intended to reduce right-hook collisions during a red phase, and just as the light turns green – I wouldn’t expect them to be effective at preventing right-hook collisions in other circumstances really much/any more than a standard bike lane. Seems to me a separate bicycle signal would make a big difference.

    I’ve nearly been right-hooked at that intersection of NW Everett a couple of times, which is yet another reason I never use that bike lane (along with the fact that it just ends a couple blocks later, dumping you into traffic potentially going 30mph, in the middle of an intersection). People get into freeway mindset while still driving on city streets, because they’re heading that direction, and they just get careless. The same thing happens on NE Irving and 16th with the entrance to I-84, there’s just less traffic there.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Reza October 16, 2012 at 11:11 am

      The bike lanes on Everett and Glisan are pretty useless. Especially on Everett, you’re going downhill and can easily keep up with traffic in that stretch. No need to use the bike lane at all. Once PBOT finally signalizes every intersection on that couplet, traffic will go no faster than bike speeds.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Dave October 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm

        Yeah, I’d have no hesitation taking Everett all the time if it weren’t for the road surface being a disaster. Between having to weave in and out of potholes, and the volume of auto traffic, I only take it occasionally, and usually just take it to get over the freeway, then cut over to Flanders or Davis (depending on where I’m going), where I can at least slow down a bit and feel like I can easily handle the bumpy roads (and the roads are in better shape, as well).

        It really sucks that Everett and Glisan are the only roads in NW until Johnson that cross I-405, and they, of course, are the heavy traffic ones. Yet another instance where there is just no good, comfortable option for bikes except to go way out of the way.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Steve Scarich October 16, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I live in Bend, where we do not have the bike boxes. Last week, I had to drive to Portland, and happened on to a bike box. Even though I have read about them extensively on this blog, and recognized it for what it was, I had no idea how to interact with this box. Since I am from ‘out of town’, driving on strange roads, going to places that I have never been to before, the bike box was just a distracting green patch in my view. BTW, I am a dedicated bike commuter and very conscious of my fellow cyclists on the rare occasion that I am driving.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Indy October 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

      Makes sense to me. From my objective viewpoint, when I see green paint on the road, my first thought as a driver would be: You can go here.

      “Oh but there is a bike symbol, that must mean I should share with bikes.”

      “But why am I only seeing this bike box at some intersections, and not others? Why is this one alternating? Why is this one going diagonally? What do I do now entering Beaverton Hillsdale Highway, should I wait for bikes or do I have right of way?”

      All potential points of confusion for people unfamiliar with our roads.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

    • are October 16, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      pretty sure they have words, in english, on the pavement indicating the advance stop line.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • GlowBoy October 16, 2012 at 10:29 am

    “Repeal the law prohibiting drivers from merging into the bike lane prior to taking a right turn, as is allowed in almost every other state in America. ”

    Oh, I hope we don’t do that. This law is one of the things I LOVE about Oregon. What I call the “California rule” (driving in the bike lane before turning right) works fine when traffic is flowing, but is a disaster once things get congested (such as downtown during the evening commute).

    Repeal this law, and cars that are stuck in traffic or waiting for pedestrians to cross can block the bike lane. One of the things I love about bicycling is that I can avoid much of the congestion that plagues cars. That’s one of the main reasons I can get across Beaverton almost as fast as a car at rush hour. Allow right-turning cars to clog up the bike lane, forcing me to wait in the motor vehicle queue, and you’ve just wiped out that benefit.

    Here’s an idea: rather than a blanket change in the law, let’s tailor the solution to the actual conditions at the intersections in question. I do think your California solution would work at NW 16th/Everett, and maybe even at the two Hawthorne intersections. These have all been part of my daily commute at one time or another, have all been huge right-hook dangers in part because drivers fail to recognize bicycles speed, and are relatively uncongested both for through traffic and for right-turning vehicles. So when a car edges into the bike lane in preparation for a right turn, it wouldn’t be difficult to ease off to its left and go around without getting STUCK in traffic.

    That is emphatically NOT true of 3rd/Madison, at least when I come through it around 5:30-6:00 in the evening. That sucker is JAMMED. Every night. Both going forward, where cars are backed up from the bridge, but also going right, where right turning vehicles often sit for most of a cycle waiting for pedestrians to cross. Allow cars to drive in the bike lane here, and you’ve just forced bikes to become part of the gridlock.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

    • encephalopath October 16, 2012 at 11:18 am

      Also, the California model doesn’t elimitate conflict over territory in the bike lane. It just moves the conflict somwhere else. In fact it moves the an undetermined place. At least with the Oregon law, we know where the where the potential conflict spot is.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 16, 2012 at 11:20 am

        you have just stated nearly the exact reason I’ve heard PBOT planners/engineers give for why we don’t use the CA model.

        Recommended Thumb up 5

      • wsbob October 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm

        That’s exactly right. The California model diminishes the relative safety and ease of road use that bike lanes can offer people that bike. People traveling by bike, knowledgeable about Oregon’s bike lane law, and with procedures for maximizing their safety on the road amongst motor vehicles, can use bike lanes to their advantage for the refuge away form motor vehicles bike lanes offer them.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • are October 16, 2012 at 11:43 am

      it is only a “disaster during rush” if the cyclist feels trapped in the bike lane. but if people are merging around one another, bikes passing stopped cars on the left rather than the right, the whole thing flows.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • GlowBoy October 16, 2012 at 11:56 am

        I have tried to say this over and over in discussions about 3rd and madison, and some people still aren’t getting it: you CAN’T pass on the left, because that’s jammed too! What will end up happening is cyclists jumping up on the sidewalk to get around the mess.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • are October 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm

          gotta be pretty jammed if a bike can’t get through. usually motorists are unwilling to put their vehicles closer than about two feet to one another. but if you experience is to the contrary, i am not here to argue. one of the virtues of the bike is its adaptability. things get completely gridlocked, hey, look, i am a pedestrian.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • GlowBoy October 16, 2012 at 5:10 pm

            Well, the way this intersection works at that time of day is that MOST of the cars at that intersection are going straight, crawling along for their chance to get on the Hawthorne. Only a handful — but usually at least ONE car per cycle — does turn right, usually having to wait for a pedestrian to cross.

            As a cyclist I could go around this backup if a larger share of the traffic were turning right, but since most are going straight the normal through lane is still blocked. You’re right that “hey I’m a pedestrian” can get around this but it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk downtown, and there are usually enough pedestrians that things would get messy indeed if the huge number of us cyclists coming down Madison at 5-6pm were started hopping up on the sidewalk to get around the backup at 3rd.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • are October 16, 2012 at 6:24 pm

              when i said hey i am a pedestrian i had dismounted

              Recommended Thumb up 0

        • spare_wheel October 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm

          i often enter the bike box at 3rd by filtering in from the left. YMMV.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Reza October 16, 2012 at 11:55 am

      Well that’s where you and I differ. I abhor using bike lanes in Downtown because you create a situation that I feel is dangerous: passing motorists on the right, where they may not be expecting you. I have almost been right-hooked on several occasions to know that the safest and most predictable place for me to ride is in the middle of the lane, like another vehicle, where I am most visible. So I get to my destination a few minutes later during periods of gridlock. So what? At least I know I will be seen. Also, I didn’t know that riding a bicycle automatically gave you a free pass to avoid congestion?

      Outside of Downtown is a different story, however, and it usually depends on the situation.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • wsbob October 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm

        “…I abhor using bike lanes in Downtown because you create a situation that I feel is dangerous: passing motorists on the right, where they may not be expecting you. …” Reza

        A person on a bike, passing a motor vehicle on the right, is not generally a problem in situations where the motor vehicle doesn’t have an opportunity to turn right, such as an intersection or a driveway. The person on the bike being certain of a motor vehicle’s location, relative to their own as they approach intersections and driveways…and managing that in one way or another…is key to safe travel in bike lanes.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • spare_wheel October 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm

          “and managing that in one way or another…is key…”

          i have found that many motorists are inattentive, unpredictable, and dangerous. consequently i have found a safer way to manage motorists: i assertively and illegally take the lane.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

        • Ian October 17, 2012 at 11:45 am

          There are a lot of entrances to garages, not to mention intersections, in downtown, though. At any rate of speed faster than walking, you’re encountering a lot of potential turns for the motorist.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Indy October 16, 2012 at 10:42 am

    There will never be a complete reduction in “accidents” until car culture isn’t changed (fast is better, safety isn’t a priority,) and/or bikes are physically separated from car access. Never. One or the other must be changed.

    Painting green stripes or screwing around with lights actually can exacerbate the issue because automobile drivers are not expecting these strange markings/signs/etc on roads, not to mention out-of-area drivers. It also suffers from the “wolf! Wolf” (False alarm) syndrome where drivers don’t see bikers at intersections for many hundreds of miles, so they stop looking for them at common ones. This is a human wired condition, there’s no real way to fix it easily.

    I mean, I STILL see cars driving in the bus/train lanes on 5th/6th, and it’s been bus/train only for many years still and is clearly marked.

    Physically separate your biking infrastructure, or retrain drivers to take safety as a priority (not realistic in our culture,) or this will continue. The bike paint is really a waste of time if your goal is zero accidents.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • ED October 16, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Having cars turning right across the bike lane is just bad design. There are several intersections where I do not turn right when I am driving because of the high volume of bikes at certain times of day, like 7th and Hawthorne and 11th and Hawthorne. Would we ask drivers to turn right across a lane of auto traffic? I don’t think so. The right turn across the bike lane only works if the bike lane is sparsely populated, or the bikes are moving at a significantly slower speed than the cars. On popular bike routes, we’ve got enough bike traffic that this isn’t the case. I think the comment in the report about bicyclist speed at these intersections isn’t so much victim-blaming as a recognition of the relative differences between bike and auto traffic in these situations. With both types of traffic moving at similar speeds, I think it would make sense to mix modes through the intersection so long as the merge point is well designed.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Tab October 19, 2012 at 3:14 am

      We need more drivers like you Ed! I’ve always found the idea that motorists can and should just turn right without stopping to be a bit silly. As an infrequent driver, I know that I always want to stop before making a right turn, because it doesn’t always seem like I can evaluate everything: is there someone on the crosswalk to my right just now embarking? (I can’t say HOW many people have tried to turn right into me while walking–yes, the signal to your right says to walk when your light is green…duh) Is there a cyclist to my right? There’s just too much to take in while turning at speed and other modes are sharing the road.

      The human brain is a beautiful thing, but our heads and cars have blind spots—it’s asking a lot to go that fast and see everything in our right blind spot, ahead of us to the crosswalk, and the place where we’re actually turning the car. But the way things are now, a driver who slows down before turning right on green is liable to get rear-ended. I would choose any solution that subtracts that part where people fear getting rear-ended more than they fear killing a cyclist or pedestrian! Maybe that could be achieved with merging. Maybe that could be achieved by requiring a stop?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Andrew Seger October 16, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Since no one’s linked to the obligatory video about dutch protected junctions I’ll do it:http://youtu.be/FlApbxLz6pA

    Islands and phase separation is where this is heading anyways, hopefully we can just skip ahead to the part where we have this everywhere, including new place. Given that it would take money and political courage I’m not holding my breath.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Vance Longwell October 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! I was wondering how long until the obligatory, “In Europe they…”.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Rol October 16, 2012 at 11:02 am
    • are October 16, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      pretty soon we are going to have to make a godwin’s law about the posting of this video

      Recommended Thumb up 2

      • Randall S. October 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm

        Let’s do it right after we stop letting people get killed because we’re too lazy/cheap/ignorant to design intersections in a way that’s consistently proven to be safer.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

    • David October 16, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      We get it, that video’s cute and tidy but it doesn’t automatically apply to ever single discussion we have about intersections here. There are two problems I see right off the bat–first, it assumes that all streets already have two-way bike lanes and second, that video doesn’t have any car parking on the street. So it’s not as simple as doing a couple quick tweaks to our roads.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Andrew Seger October 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm

        But it definitely applies to this intersection. And just about all the other green bike boxes where right hooks are a problem. The other half is signal timing and phase separation, something else the dutch are really good at.

        Not that it’s the answer to all our problems, or that some treatment from the Netherlands is always the best, but it seems pretty clear to me this is the logical conclusion we’re going to end up with at busy intersections if we insist on putting bike lanes to the right of right turn lanes. We really ought to push for either this or nothing at all. For my money taking the lane at a place like NE Couch/Grand is much better than that sign that lights up.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

      • My Magic Hat October 16, 2012 at 1:38 pm

        And when are we actually able to make use of on-street parking in Portland?

        Try parking on Hawthorne or Alberta during any time of day that you actually want to go there. Every Parking Space is in use. Somebody’s parked, but it ain’t gonna be you.

        When we can ride directly to the front of our destination, we don’t have to drive. We don’t have to park on the street.

        The other option is to simply reduce the speed limit on any street that has on-street parking. It takes extraordinary negligence to kill someone in a 15 m.p.h. zone. It’s also hard to get right hooked at all if you’re simply following the car in front of you at a reasonable distance and speed.

        Recommended Thumb up 3

      • Randall S. October 17, 2012 at 5:14 pm

        What’s more important: parking your car, or human lives? Seems like a simple choice to me.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • kww October 16, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Eliminate right turns at these intersections, let them make three left turns if they wish to go north.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Spiffy October 16, 2012 at 11:45 am

    20 mph max (enforced) speed limit for motor vehicles on city streets…

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • are October 16, 2012 at 11:49 am

    several comments here about legalities, how fast a cyclist should be permitted to travel, apparently without regard to conditions, who has the technical right of way, who is required to yield to whom. in real life, it is probably better to pay attention to the unfolding situation and adapt your tactics accordingly. PBoT would be “exposed to criticism of blaming the victim” only if the critics discount any responsibility on the part of the vulnerable user.

    what i find interesting here is that the data do not support the idea that the green box increases safety (cf. dill and monsere), and in fact the data show the weakness in the design seems to be in the “late” green phase, which is what critics of the green box have been saying all along.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Joe October 16, 2012 at 11:52 am

    7th street downtown one example.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe October 16, 2012 at 11:54 am

    BTW I take the lane if a auto is right hooking and sometimes the car behind speeds up. so one must always understand the type of area they ride and what might crop up during ride time.

    Be Safe and ride yo bike :)

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Rob October 16, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I ride two of these intersections daily and I believe the comments about bicyclist speed makes a lot of sense. I don’t read it as blaming the cyclist, but a big factor in the accidents in both these intersections is the speed of cyclist. The reason I think this makes sense is it is very common in both these intersections for the cyclists to be moving faster than the cars. This a set up for an accident either because the driver isn’t really moving so assumes no one else is or misjudges how much time they have if they see the bicycle.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Terry D October 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    It does not seem to mention what percentage of the automobiles had their right turn signal on.

    I have noticed that new cars in particular have right turn signals that do not seem to work regularly…..so I tend to error on the side of caution at these four intersections…..but, the point still remains.

    For me, the green bike boxes and other painting upgrades have made these intersections significantly safer, but know and expect erratic behaviors from automobiles here and respond accordingly….Particularity at by the on-ramp to 405….NASTY intersection.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Andy K October 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    How much do you trust bike crash data and how has the disproportionate increase in bicycling in the past 5 years been factored in?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Zaphod October 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    The right hook is a preventable and fairly predictable “accident”

    It’s a design flaw to turn from the middle lane, which this effectively is. Savvy cyclists who do not take the lane often are forced to make split-second decisions on whether the driver will properly yield. It’s very stressful and with a lot of risk.

    A shared right lane makes the most sense but how to empower cyclists to take it, including those less inclined to while also educating motorists to slow down, choose a different lane and give plenty of space.

    This problem requires a small amount of infrastructure and an education campaign that results in a shift in culture. Not easy

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • BURR October 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Any traffic engineer who designs a facility where through bike traffic is placed to the right of right-turning traffic should lose his or her license.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Branden October 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm

      EXACTLY, Burr- As someone who’s been right hooked before, i never use the green box on the right, even as a cyclist, I’m pretty annoyed when others take the lane when it’s not necessary. Leaving yourself open to right hooks is just nominating yourself for the Darwin Awards.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Morgen October 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    What I think is really interesting about this article is that I read it and didn’t read ANYTHING similar to what the comments here posted. To me, a driver if ever there were one, all I noted was that the crashes occured at areas where the bicyclists were moving at a higher rate of speed.

    In fact, my knee jerk reaction was that the bicyclists were going faster than the drivers normally expect (because it’s a downhill slope so they get to higher speed then drivers are used to) so the drivers turn without leaving enough room to clear the bicyclist.

    I didn’t see any blame in placed in the article at all?

    For what it’s worth, I too would rather be able to slide over into the bike lane for a turn. It feels safer to me. No one will be guessing what I’m doing and the bicyclist would have clear information on what I’m doing next. I understand that would mean that in stalled traffic that bicyclists would either have to move to the sidewalk, walk, or slow down but I don’t feel like that’s a large price to pay if in fact the studies suggest that it’s safer.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Dave October 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      “In fact, my knee jerk reaction was that the bicyclists were going faster than the drivers normally expect (because it’s a downhill slope so they get to higher speed then drivers are used to) so the drivers turn without leaving enough room to clear the bicyclist.”

      This was not my first reaction, but it was about what I assumed they meant as well, after thinking about it – which is why I think having separate light phases for cars and bikes would help – no right turns by cars while the bike light is green, no through bike traffic while right turns are allowed for cars.

      Or eliminate the bike lane.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Gumby October 16, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    It doesn’t seem to me that PBOT is saying that cyclists are going too fast. They are just looking for differences in behavior that explain the high crash rate at these intersections. If you look at the remedies that they are proposing, none of them are aimed at slowing down cyclists.

    When I’m passing cars on the right, I know I’m putting myself in a vulnerable position and I’m on high alert for cars that don’t see me.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Jeff October 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Vance Longwell
    Paul, it is illegal in Oregon for a bicyclist to be outside a bike-lane, when there is one.
    Recommended 0

    That’s categorically not true: http://bikeportland.org/resources/bicyclelaws#814420

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • spare_wheel October 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      i think vance is correct. the exceptions to the mandatory sidepath rule are vague and provide little protection. who decides what is safe? who decides how soon you can exit to turn left?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • jd October 17, 2012 at 7:22 am

        I like that the exceptions are vague. I’d hate to have it laid out that we can take the lane to avoid car doors and right hooks, but they forget debris, bad pavement, or any other completely legitimate reason to take the lane.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Schrauf October 17, 2012 at 11:46 am

        The cyclist decides what is safe. Within a reasonable standard, of course.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

    • are October 16, 2012 at 2:55 pm

      and to underscore my message of a few weeks ago welcoming vance back to these boards, let me just say that i agree 814.420 does not allow you to leave the sidepath unless you come within a handful of rather narrow exceptions. (3)(e) does not apply here, because the motorist is not required to turn right. and there is no exception for “overtaking motorist would otherwise pass too close” or for “overtaking motorist might turn right across my path.” plus one vance.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

      • are October 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm

        that being said, i would rather defend the ticket than get under someone’s wheels.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

      • Over and Doubt October 16, 2012 at 3:59 pm

        Maybe sufficient wiggle room within 3 (c), “hazardous conditions”?

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Paul in the 'couve October 16, 2012 at 4:33 pm

          given that we have PDOT evidence at these intersections I”d say we have a decent case for a known hazard – especially with this article disseminating the info.

          but in general around town probably a difficult case depending on the judge. Fortunately you aren”t that likely to get cited unless you are profiled as someone the cop wants to harass.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob October 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      Vance Longwell
      Hey Jeff. Yeah 814.420 starts, “Failure to use a bikelane…”. It’s in English, and ‘er thing. Since you don’t seem to understand what, “categoric”, means, I’m not surprised to learn you are having difficulty with the concept.
      Recommended 0

      The full title of 814.420 is:

      814.420 Failure to use bicycle lane or path

      • exceptions
      • penalty

      That’s the way 814.420 starts out, and in so doing, indicates right up front that the following text of the law categorically allows people riding bike to legally leave the bike lane for a very wide range of circumstances. 814.420 actually defends the right people that bike have, to ride the main lanes of the roadway.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • are October 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm

        a mandatory sidepath law is a strange way to defend someone’s right to not use the sidepath. why not just, y’know, not have the requirement in the first place. then you don’t need to argue over how broad or narrow the exceptions are.

        Recommended Thumb up 5

        • spare_wheel October 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm

          THIS.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Alan 1.0 October 16, 2012 at 8:36 pm

        814.420 actually defends the right people that bike have, to ride the main lanes of the roadway.

        By my reading of ORS, it’s actually this section which “defends [that] right:”

        814.400 Application of vehicle laws to bicycles. (1) Every person riding a bicycle upon a public way is subject to the provisions applicable to and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle concerning operating on highways…except:

        (b) When otherwise specifically provided under the vehicle code.

        And then 814.420 is one of those exceptions where bikes don’t have the same right to use the lanes as cars.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • wsbob October 17, 2012 at 10:05 am

          “…And then 814.420 is one of those exceptions where bikes don’t have the same right to use the lanes as cars.” Alan 1.0

          If you care to, explain what you’re thinking when writing, ‘same right’. Bikes aren’t the same type vehicle as motor vehicles, so while there differences in use allowed, people riding bikes do have legal use of main lanes of the roadway.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • are October 17, 2012 at 10:12 am

            then why does 814.420 apply even when a car is not present

            Recommended Thumb up 2

          • El Biciclero October 17, 2012 at 10:51 am

            wsbob: it may be under-enforced (like most roadway laws), and there may a list of exceptions of varying degrees of ambiguity, but the spirit of 814.420 is essentially, “hey, if we’re going to spend good money creating bike lanes or paths, you cyclists are darn sure going to use them! Further, if we are going to magnanimously give you a safe place to stay out of the way, you’re darn sure going to stay out of the way!” Then there are some concessions that acknowledge that bike lanes aren’t always safe and some exceptions given that allow cyclists to not use the bike lane–but only if everyone agrees that the exception applies.

            There have been examples given of citations issued to cyclists who are operating under one of the exceptions, and there has been at least one judgement handed down that repudiates the very definition of “lane”. There have been cases dismissed with parenthetical statements by the judge indicating that he doesn’t want to “dismantle the whole institution of bike lanes”, meaning, IMO, “the set of rules that keeps cyclists out of the way”. You’ve seen these links before.

            In the particular situation under discussion here, 814.420 clearly does not have an exception allowing cyclists to leave the bike lane. By the very nature of “exceptions” this law does not grant cyclists the same legal rights to non-bike lanes that auto drivers have, i.e., to use them whenever they want; cyclists can only use “auto” lanes when one of the exceptions is valid. I think that’s what Alan is getting at.

            Recommended Thumb up 4

            • wsbob October 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm

              “…By the very nature of “exceptions” this law does not grant cyclists the same legal rights to non-bike lanes that auto drivers have, i.e., to use them whenever they want; cyclists can only use “auto” lanes when one of the exceptions is valid. I think that’s what Alan is getting at.” El Biciclero

              People driving motor vehicles in main travel lanes aren’t doing just because they ‘want’ to; they have no legal choice but to operate their vehicles in main travel lanes. People traveling by bike, depending on conditions, have the option of riding their bikes in either bike lanes, or main travel lanes.

              “…In the particular situation under discussion here, 814.420 clearly does not have an exception allowing cyclists to leave the bike lane. …” El Biciclero

              Explain what you mean. The exceptions in 814.420 seem broad enough in coverage to allow people traveling by bike to leave the bike lane for about every conceivable, practical reason. Here’s a link to a short comment by Schrauf, responding to a different post, but also regarding 814.420 : http://bikeportland.org/2012/10/16/collisions-up-at-some-bike-box-locations-changes-coming-to-sw-3rd-madison-78859#comment-3302049

              “The cyclist decides what is safe. Within a reasonable standard, of course.” Schrauf

              That comment sums up fairly well, the discretion 814.420 recognizes people traveling by bike have with regard to whether bike lanes are safe for them to use, and consequently, whether or not they should leave the bike lane to travel in the main travel lane.

              Your folksy rendering of what you think the spirit of 814.420 is, is kind of cute to read, but it’s not a convincing as an explanation as to why, whoever were the legislators that created and approved of the law, did so. Actually, I’m assuming the law was a legislative action, but maybe it came to be law by some other means, such as initiative petition. It’s a mystery nobody has yet posted the answer to here on bikeportland.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

              • El Biciclero October 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm

                “..’814.420 clearly does not have an exception allowing cyclists to leave the bike lane. …’ El Biciclero

                Explain what you mean.”

                What I mean is that the law has a specific exception to allow cyclists to leave the bike lane if it is striped to the right of a right-turn-only lane. There is no such exception for lanes that may turn right, but could also go straight. That’s what I mean.

                Leaving the bike lane–when there is nothing blocking it, no hazards present, no preparation for making a left turn, no empirical “hazardous condition” (only a potential hazard if a vehicle suddenly decides to turn right), and it is not striped to the right of a right-turn-only lane–is not allowed by the statute, and is not covered by any of the exceptions. I could say I was avoiding a “hazard”, but the officer citing me would ask, “what hazard?” Then I would have to answer, “well, all those cars that could have turned right.”
                “Did any of them turn right?”
                “No.”
                “Were any of them signaling to turn right?”
                “No.”
                “Don’t they have to yield to you if they are turning right, anyway?”
                “Well, yes.”
                “Then what’s the hazard?”
                “Well, it could have been a hazard!”
                “Just sign right here; your court date is 30 days from now, unless you want to pay the fine in full before then. Have a nice day.”

                If my fun and folksy rendering of the spirit of 814.420 isn’t accurate, then what POSSIBLE rationale are you imagining for having a law that compels cyclists to use extant “amenities”, with penalties for not doing so? And if the exceptions are truly as broad as you like to believe, then why even have the law? Why not just let cyclists ride where they want? I think it’s because we are afraid they will “get in the way” of drivers, and we want some legal backing to claims that cyclists should ride “over there”, out of the way, regardless of how inconvenient or unsafe it is for those cyclists.

                As for “same rights to the road”, we’re splitting hairs here. Let’s say there are three lanes going the same direction on some given street: two “car” lanes, and one bike lane. Drivers have their pick of two lanes, which they may use at any time, for any reason, whim, or crotchet that springs to mind or heart. Cyclists may use one lane, unless there is a specific exception that applies to allow them to exit that one lane. Even on a street with no bike lanes, cyclists may use only the rightmost portion of the right lane, except under some very specific conditions. That hardly constitutes the “same rights” to lane use as auto drivers have. Further, most of the time, drivers have no desire to use the bike lane–it’s too uncomfortably close to the gutter, to parked cars, to the sidewalk, and it’s usually full of debris and storm drain wells that nobody wants to travel over–telling drivers to stay out of the bike lane is mostly like saying, “see that gum stuck to the sidewalk? Don’t you dare chew it!” The bike lane is not a desirable area of the road except at some right turn locations where the road widens out and drivers get the itch to sneak down the bike lane to make their precious right turns on red.

                Recommended Thumb up 1

            • Alan 1.0 October 17, 2012 at 9:57 pm

              El B, yes, that’s about right; my point was not at all complicated or obscure. ORS 814 is neatly laid out in a hierarchical outline format (like most laws). 814.400 grants bikes the same rights (and responsibilities) as cars on the road including the right to travel in a main lane, subject to some exceptions. Subsequently, as one of those exceptions, 814.420 takes away that right when there is a bike lane present, and subsequent to that it provides a limited, as opposed to unlimited, set of exceptional circumstances when that right can be restored (items 3(a)-(e)). One can argue whether those exceptional circumstances are large or small but they provably do not include all circumstances, so that means there are cases where bikes are not granted the same right to use the road that cars are granted.

              X > (X-n)

              where:
              X — rights of cars
              n — exceptions to those rights (numeric value is positive, not negative or zero)
              (X-n) — rights of bikes

              Recommended Thumb up 0

              • wsbob October 17, 2012 at 10:54 pm

                “…One can argue whether those exceptional circumstances are large or small but they provably do not include all circumstances, so that means there are cases where bikes are not granted the same right to use the road that cars are granted. …” Alan 1.0

                Motor vehicles aren’t granted the same right to use the road that bikes are granted. Different types of motor vehicles aren’t given right to the road equally; conditions and exceptions are made taking into account their various differences. Except related to freeway use, bikes actually are given a greater right to use the road, than motor vehicles are given. I don’t believe that according exactly the same right to use of the road with every type of road legal vehicle is, the objective of road use laws. The objective is, I believe…taking into consideration the range of different types of vehicles people need to use on the road, to work to achieve a practicable level of conditions for safe, efficient travel for all road users.

                The simple fact is, there are far more people driving motor vehicles than people riding bikes that the road must serve. Given that motor vehicles generally travel faster than bikes, and slower traffic generally must yield to faster traffic, bike lanes are provided to allow people a relatively safer place than main road lanes for people that ride bikes to transition into and continue traveling, allowing motor vehicle traffic to continue flowing at posted speeds when conditions allow.

                “…Subsequently, as one of those exceptions, 814.420 takes away that right when there is a bike lane present, and subsequent to that it provides a limited, as opposed to unlimited, set of exceptional circumstances when that right can be restored (items 3(a)-(e)). …” Alan 1.0

                814.420 does not ‘take away’ bike road users’ right to use the road. 814.400 lays out with accompanying conditions, the basic premise to use of the road people riding bikes have. 814.420 exceptions (2) and (3) (a through e), cover a very wide range of situations where people riding bikes may legally leave the bike lane to ride the main lanes of the road.

                In particular, (3)(c) and its “…or other hazardous conditions.”, is wide open in terms of discretion it allows people on bikes to decide to legally leave the bike lane and travel in the main travel lane. Whether a road user is driving a motor vehicle or riding a bike, it’s they that must most immediately decide whether a given road situation is safe for them to travel, and act accordingly.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

                • Alan 1.0 October 18, 2012 at 12:37 am

                  bikes actually are given a greater right to use the road, than motor vehicles are given.

                  814.400 Every person riding a bicycle upon a public way is subject to the provisions applicable to and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle concerning operating on highways

                  Given that motor vehicles generally travel faster than bikes, and slower traffic generally must yield to faster traffic

                  Can you cite that “might makes right” law for me? I am not aware of it. Generally, in my driving and biking education and experience, overtaking vehicles bear the burden of avoiding slower vehicles.

                  814.420 does not ‘take away’ bike road users’ right to use the road.

                  Yes, it does: 814.420 (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. Verbal gymnastics do not alter the fact that 814.420 takes away rights granted in 814.400.

                  814.420 exceptions (2) and (3) (a through e), cover a very wide range of situations where people riding bikes may legally leave the bike lane to ride the main lanes of the road.

                  Well, as I said upthread, “one can argue whether those exceptional circumstances are large or small but they provably do not include all circumstances.” (And section 2, “suitable for safe use/public hearing,” is a rather different discussion than 3a-e.) Anyone who reads these threads is presumably aware that you, wsbob, have made a point of always characterizing those exceptional circumstances in the widest, largest terms possible. Other people beg to differ and characterize them as not so comprehensive. So, rather than bandy back and forth with large, small, wide or narrow, I’ll give two concrete examples off the top of my head where those exceptions fail to provide for safe riding behavior, and I know that bike riders familiar with Oregon bike lanes can think of many other examples:

                  1. SW 3rd and Madison, Portland, OR – Bike lane to the right of where cars MAY (not MUST) turn right sets up a right-hook situation.

                  2. N Vancouver Ave, Portland, OR – Bike lane in the door zone (and it’s a fast, downhill run).

                  In particular, (3)(c) and its “…or other hazardous conditions.”, is wide open in terms of discretion it allows people on bikes to decide to legally leave the bike lane and travel in the main travel lane.

                  I am not a lawyer, nor are you, wsbob, to the best of my knowledge, and even a lawyer experienced in this area of law is unlikely to know the judge’s opinion on a specific case when it comes down to claiming that (3)(c) exception under specific circumstances. I am, though, quite certain that the judge’s verdict will hinge on considerably more factors than whether the cyclist felt it was in their best interest to do so, and will quite likely reflect the judge’s own knowledge, or lack thereof, of safe bicycling practices. Laws which provide that level of indeterminacy are not laws which I like on the books.

                  For what it’s worth, I feel that debate on this topic (Mandatory Sidepath Law) has been pretty well covered. I happen to find that ‘are’, El Biciclero, spare_wheel and some others have made convincing arguments in many dimensions which outweigh ‘wsbob’s stated position, though I certainly respect his right to voice his opinion. I don’t think that saying the same thing over and over makes it more true, and I don’t think any of the parties in this discussion are likely to be swayed by the other’s arguments, at this point. I’ll try and sit on my hands for as much of the same old arguments as possible, but I’m afraid you might be able to troll me with new assertions the likes of “814.420 defends the right to ride main lanes,” which is just plain wrong. :-)

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe October 16, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    seems lotta cell phone drivers and speeding if you ask me. what happened to hands free in Oregon? today counted 4 ppl taking while driving

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • chucklehead October 16, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      And i saw 3 cyclists doing the same.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • BURR October 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm

      I see cops talking on their cell phones while driving all the time, which is probably why, when they have the discretion not to ticket motorists for this infraction, they don’t; because they self-identify as cell phone using motorists…

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • K'Tesh October 16, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    KXL is doing a piece on the bike boxes today. I was interviewed by Mike Turner for it while I was at school.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Sean S. October 16, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I think a separate signal (like on Broadway) could help this situation. The problem lies with several factors. These are busy areas by both four and two wheeled types and dangerous interaction is bound to happen. A bicycle profile from head on (the view seen in a side view mirror) is smaller than from the side and is less visible. Add lighting conditions (ambient and vehicle mounted), speed, weather, and the short time most people take to look before turning and you add to the danger. Spouting laws and right of way will not fix this and just adds to the bull headed nature of some that think they can defeat simple physics.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Jacob October 16, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    “Turns right for look slow”! That clears things up. Do engineers not realize that most people on bike are going 12mph, not 50?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jim Lee October 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    A couple of weeks ago I was riding up SW Broadway, far right, and encountered a CTran bus stopped in the right lane. No turn signal. No angle to the front wheels. Not clear if the operator was stalled or preparing to turn right. Local buses do not run on Broadway. I was perplexed.

    So I moved on slowly, as far from the vehicle as I could, and carefully crossed the intersection. Then I glanced back–CTran WAS turning right. Yikes!

    Several blocks farther I was in the green lane with two cars ahead of me signaling “RIGHT TURN.” So I stopped. Then a dingbat young woman, barely in control of her bike, wove to the right of the intelligent young who had stopped behind me, to the left around me, through the pedestrian stripes, to nearly be picked off by the black Honda Element that had initiated its turn.

    The intelligent young woman and I discussed the situation. She was of the opinion that the green lane marking had given her stupid sister inherent right of way, regardless of competence or good sense. I disagreed. Further, I opined that any cyclist who trusts her safety to green thermoplastic is petitioning for injury or demise.

    We all were riding up hill, so speed was not an issue. Green thermoplastic, awareness, competence, good judgement were the issues.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • GlowBoy October 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Oh, here we go again with the mantra that passing on the right is some “unnatural” and dangerous condition. I just don’t buy this purist argument that we’re somehow violating some sort of natural law.

    The reality is that CARS pass each other — and other vehicles — on the right all the time, and it’s not a disaster. People often pass on the right on freeways. Anytime you have someone turning left you’ll have cars passing on the right. On Morrison and Yamhill streets downtown the MAX trains have an exclusive lane, yet cars pass trains on the right, and then — egads! — turn left ACROSS another lane going the same direction without entering it (!!) yet somehow it all works out.

    I agree that right hooks are a serious problem, but not all right hook situations are caused by passing on the right, and eliminating passing on the right is often NOT the proper solution.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Sean G October 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I walk by the NW 16th and Everett intersection daily on my way to/from work. It’s a mess. The people turning right have to deal with pedestrians crossing the three-lane 16th st. They also may be turning right onto 16th, or right onto the freeway onramp (second lane in). Since there are usually a couple of bikes involved in the green light as well, those “stale green” issues come up quite often. Typically, it looks like only four or five cars make it through on a green light during busier times of day. I’ve seen times where there are slow pedestrians/extra bikes where only two cars get through. Any busy time of day, there’s a line of cars in the right lane on Everett because of this intersection.

    Everett isn’t on my bicycling routine, so I don’t have to worry about it personally, but if I did I would dread it every time. Same thing with a car… it looks like a disaster for whoever uses it. It’s even awkward for pedestrians!

    So in this case (and I imagine in others) the blame isn’t on the drivers or the bicyclists, or the pedestrians… all of them use the light to the best of their ability. It’s just an effed-up intersection.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • are October 16, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    GlowBoy
    not all right hook situations are caused by passing on the right

    having a hard time conjuring the alternative scenarios you apparently have in mind.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Paul in the 'couve October 16, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      Anyplace where there isn’t an intersection mainly.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • GlowBoy October 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      O rly? Then I’ll fill you in. Most of the right-hook problems I have had are NOT from me passing on the right.

      They are from cars that have JUST PASSED ME ON THE RIGHT suddenly turning in front of me. These happen regardless of whether or not there is a bike lane.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

      • are October 17, 2012 at 11:15 am

        i hear you. these would in fact not happen if you had asserted the travel lane. okay, yes, a car might still pass you, but (a) you will have been placed on high alert, and (b) only the subset of motorists whom one might call sociopaths would go over the center line to pass you and then turn right across your path.

        so i admit i had not accounted for that situation, but that is because i was thinking of riding far to the right as essentially identical with passing on the right. the more general rule i would state is, a right hook situation is inevitably caused by pretending the cyclist is supposed to be operating in some narrow channel, striped or not, to the right of the travel lane.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • GlowBoy October 17, 2012 at 11:50 am

          I’m not going to take the lane ALL THE TIME, especially out here in Beaverton where the roads are posted 35-45mph. Cars are faster than bikes most of the time; that’s a fact of life.

          You take the lane ONLY when there isn’t room for cars to pass safely. Taking the lane all the time is what most people call a “dick move.”

          Recommended Thumb up 1

          • are October 17, 2012 at 1:35 pm

            we keep changing apples to oranges and back. are you saying you have been overtaken at 35 to 45 mph and immediately right hooked?

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • GlowBoy October 18, 2012 at 10:06 am

              Yes, absolutely. Right hooks don’t just happen on low speed roads like downtown. I have been overtaken on 35 to 45mph roads — sometimes by cars going that speed — and then right hooked.

              I don’t see where switching between apples and oranges, except that I brought up suburbia as an illustration of where right hooks are still a big problem even when bikes aren’t passing on the right. You said we shouldn’t be “pretending the cyclist is supposed to be operating in some narrow channel, striped or not, to the right of the travel lane,” and I say it’s a perfectly legitimate thing for slower traffic to keep to the right — this is one of the fundamental principles of vehicular movement — IF there’s plenty of room for cars to pass.

              Sometimes this is on arterials with bike lanes, sometimes it’s on busy highways with shoulders, and sometimes it’s on roads with a travel lane 15-20′ wide where there’s plenty of room for a bike and a car to share the lane. In all of these situations there’s no reason cars can’t pass you safely, so there’s no justification for “taking the lane” and blocking everyone else. Right hooks are still a threat in all of these situations, when a motorist passes you and thinks they have enough time to make the turn in front of you, but their subconscious is registering you as a slow-moving pedestrian and not accounting for how long it takes for them to slow down and make the turn, and how quickly a cyclist catches up with them.

              Recommended Thumb up 3

  • GlowBoy October 16, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    O rly? Then I’ll fill you in. Most of the right-hook problems I have had are NOT from me passing on the right.

    They are from cars that have JUST PASSED ME ON THE LEFT suddenly turning in front of me. These happen regardless of whether or not there is a bike lane.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • jd October 17, 2012 at 7:14 am

    I got right-hooked at an intersection with no right turns (at the bottom of the hill coming down from OHSU). I suspect shutting down right turns at these other intersections would help. But some drivers won’t see the no-turn sign or will intentionally ignore it, which will be problematic for otherwise-defensive cyclists who might let their guards down and pass on the right at those intersections. Right turn lanes might make everyone likelier to avoid a crash.

    I’m glad they’re planning to make changes to decrease these dangerous collisions.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Bob Shanteau October 17, 2012 at 9:46 am

    The FHWA chose to approve Portland’s Request to Experiment (RTE) with bike boxes in 2008. Earlier that year I sent a letter to FHWA opposing Portland’s RTE saying that bike boxes do not address exactly the kind of right hook crashes that Portland is experiencing: http://rmshant.googlepages.com/Letterrequestingrejectionofbikeboxex.pdf

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Dan V October 17, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Riding the Hawthorne Bridge as often as I do, I’ve noticed that there is a steady stream of cyclists heading through the two intersections, making a right turn in a car next to impossible as there are few gaps. In my opinion, the best (and possible only) way to mitigate the problem is to prohibit right turns across the bike lane from the bridgehead to after SE 12th. Allowing cars to turn across a high-flow bike route (I love the fact that it is such a high flow!) would be akin to have the middle lane on I-5 south be the off ramp to 84 east bound. Dr Venkman said it best “crossing the streams is bad”. I know this would be unpopular, but which is more important, safety or convenience? Unfortunately, I think we know the answer of the general public…

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • trikeguy October 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      I think the answer is to get rid of the bike lane there – I had 2 near right hooks in the early days of my morning commute there and no problems at all in the year+ since I realized I needed to stay in the vehicle lane and simply go through that intersection with the stream of cars. It also saves me from having someone try to lanechange over me between 2nd and 1st where they need to get into the right turn lane.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • matt picio October 17, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Here’s a thought – why not convert the Hawthorne sidewalks to ped-only, the outside bridge lanes to car-only, and the center bridge lanes to bike-only, and then re-stripe the bike lanes to the bridge on the west side in the roadway center all the way up to the park blocks? (Yeah, I know, the uphill part would be a problem) We need some creative solutions on this one, and some serious outside-the-box thinking.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • are October 17, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      i am not wild about trying to ride that steel deck in the rain

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • 007 October 17, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    1. Yield to the bike lane.
    2. No right turn allowed, except for bicycles
    3. A separate light for bicyclists at these problem intersections

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Peter Buck October 18, 2012 at 6:40 am

    I wonder if green bike lanes make some cyclists feel safer and thus bolder with regard to overtaking autos. Personally I believe trusting that an auto driver will do the right thing has potentially dire consequences to my health and well-being and thus I never under any circumstances overtake while in an intersection. I always strive to be ahead of or behind autos. It may not be fair but at least I can argue the point afterwards because I’m still alive.

    While I am an advocate of bike lanes, especially in the suburbs where I live and commute due to the high auto speeds we have (45 MPH on 185th in Beaverton, for example), I think Madison from 4th to 1st perhaps should not have a bike lane. If bikes and cars had to proceed in line down Madison there would be no right hook conflict. Since it is short, downhill, and interrupted by lights at 3rd, 2nd, and 1st, auto and bike speed is similar so there would be no speed conflict. At 1st, the bike lane makes sense again as a lead-in to the Hawthorne Bridge and the right-turn lane crosses to the right of the bike lane. Signage could be used to inform both cyclists and drivers to share the lanes in this area. This seems to work fine on Main going the other way even though Main is uphill. Drivers seem to accept bikes here and when I used to commute through downtown I never had problems using Main to get from the Hawthorne Bridge to Broadway.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • spare_wheel October 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Christopher Kidd of Alta Planning chimes in on twitter:

    ” #VroomVroom’ers come out of the woodwork to crow over increased crashes on Portland street experimenting w/ bike boxes http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2012/10/16/city-finds-bike-boxes-may-actually-increase-crashes …”

    I’m curious why Mr. Kidd feels that those who have concerns about right hooks at bike boxes are “VroomVroom’ers[sic]“”? Is VroomVroom a new technical term in Alta Planning’s lexicon? Maybe Mia Birk was talking about VroomVroom’ers[sic] when she ranted about people who bike on Hawthorne.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      hey spare_wheel,

      he used the same term with me on Twitter. Not very productive IMO to disparage other folks’ views, even if you don’t agree with them.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • spare_wheel October 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm

        Twitter is a public venue and the response of someone who works at Alta is on topic. I am not disparaging Kidd’s views — I am disparaging his use of a pejorative. The term “vroom vroom” was first used by Mikael Colville-Andersen in an infamous diatribe that *mocked* those percieved to be VC. I really loathe this term. Seeing someone from Alta use it publicly to dismiss criticism was kind of shocking.

        http://www.copenhagenize.com/2010/07/vehicular-cyclists-secret-sect.html

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • are October 18, 2012 at 7:55 pm

          pretty sure jonathan was saying kidd was disparaging vehicular cyclists, not that you were disparaging kidd. as a self-identified vehicular cyclist, i would suggest that nothing i have said here could properly be characterized as “crowing.”

          also, i have not been hiding in any “woodwork,” but have been vocal about these issues from day one, and openly critical of the report put forward by dill and monsere last year (though not at all disparaging of their work, incidentally), citing in particular the fact that they were not measuring interactions occurring in the “late” green signal phase.

          i would be pleased to meet christopher kidd face to face if he has anything civil to say.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • spare_wheel October 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm

            Yeah…on second look I misinterpreted Jonathan’s comment.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ted Buehler October 19, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Part of the issue is that Bike Boxes were not designed to prevent right hooks when both bike and vehicle are in motion.

    They were designed to
    1) allow bicyclists to queue up at the light, ahead of the cars, and be able to go before cars when the light turns
    2) (maybe) prevent right-hooks or right-sweeps then a moving vehicle turns right and crushes a stationary bicyclist.

    To design colored bike infrastructure that will prevent right hooks when both vehicles are in motion, they need to leave out the box, and make a continuous green bike lane approaching, crossing, and exiting the intersection. That will make it clear to turning cars and trucks exactly where the bicycle space it.

    The current “box” design doesn’t alert turning vehicles as to the right-of-way that bicycles will be occupying during the green cycle.

    & simple advanced stop bars and “no right turn” signs can be used to prevent the “right-sweep” problem, without putting a green bike box in.

    My $0.02
    Ted Buehler

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Ted Buehler October 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm

      One of my pet peeves is that Portland has never encouraged bicyclists to fill up the box with bikes when waiting at red lights. That’s what the boxes were designed for. It gives bikes a head-start, it keeps bikes further from the exhaust pipes of idling cars.

      This wouldn’t compromise the Portland’s stated reason for installing the boxes of preventing right hooks.

      It also facilitates a higher number of bicyclists in the existing infrastructure, and allows safe opportunities for fast bicyclists to overtake slow bicyclists when everyone departs from the same starting line.

      Ted Buehler

      Recommended Thumb up 1

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

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


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