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PBOT adds warnings to bike lane on SW Madison

Posted by on January 7th, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Changes at SW Madison 3rd-6
The new warnings have
been painted in the bike lane.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Bureau of Transportation has completed installation of new signage and pavement markings on SW Madison where a woman was killed in May of last year.

In the bike lane on SW Madison between 3rd and 4th, PBOT has added white hash marks followed by the words, “SLOW LOOK FOR RIGHT TURNS.” In addition to those markings, new turn warning signs (directed at people driving cars) have been added (see photos below).

The changes were announced back in October after PBOT revealed that crash statistics showed an unexpectedly higher rate of right-hook collisions at four intersections where bike boxes had been installed. Given the rise in collisions, coupled with a detailed investigation from the District Attorney’s office about what led up to the fatal collision that claimed the life of Kathryn Rickson, PBOT determined that changes were necessary.

Changes at SW Madison 3rd-1
Leading up to SW 3rd Ave.
Changes at SW Madison 3rd-3
Two of these signs have been added.
Changes at SW Madison 3rd-8
Notice how dark and worn out the green paint
is leading up to the intersection.

Changes at SW Madison 3rd-10
Changes at SW Madison 3rd-11
PBOT is now doing zebra striping to warn about caution areas.

Key to PBOT’s decision to place the markings in the bike lane was the finding that many of the collisions occurred when the bike box and accompanying green lane were on downhill streets. PBOT said they felt the biking speeds in the collisions were unsafe for conditions and further findings showed that a significant number of the collisions occurred when the person riding the bike attempted to overtake the person attempting to turn right.

From the initial reactions I’ve heard, some people feel that the new markings put the onus of responsibility on people in the bike lane, when Oregon law actually does the opposite.

Reader Amanda D. wrote in to say that, “I suppose that the city is trying to alert bicyclists to the danger of that intersection, but I feel like these words make it seem like bicyclists do not have right of way by telling us to watch for right turns.”

It’s tricky to try and use street design to communicate proper behavior. While PBOT clearly wants people using the bike lane to use more caution, Oregon law says people in cars must make sure the bike lane is clear before making their turn.

Also of note is that the green lane on Madison appears to not have been re-painted along with the bike box and new green zebra stripes in the intersection (see photos above). I haven’t confirmed it yet, but my hunch is that PBOT wants to minimize the green in the bike lane leading up to the intersection in order to not promote the false sense of security that might have contributed to some of the recent collisions. That’s just a hunch and I’m hoping to confirm with PBOT soon.

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Comments
  • Tony January 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I’ll get used to it, but honestly, when I first saw this lettering last week it was distracting.

    And that’s a really bad place to be distracted.

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    • matt picio January 9, 2013 at 10:39 pm

      I agree. And the people most likely to be distracted are casual cyclists and infrequent users of that street – the very people the markings are intended to help.

      If markings can help, why aren’t there markings in the general traffic lane warning cars to yield to bikes in the bike lane, or to “watch for bikes”?

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  • Lenny Anderson January 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    I think a shared lane would be better. Why a bike lane when its downhill in a 12 mph zone. This is exactly what Sharrow markings are for.
    Bike lanes, as we know, can be killers.

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    • are January 7, 2013 at 9:22 pm

      glad to see this comment near the top of the queue, thanks, lenny

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    • Mike Fish January 7, 2013 at 9:34 pm

      Only time I’ve ever been hit is going downhill in a bike lane. Right hook.

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    • wsbob January 8, 2013 at 12:57 am

      The main lanes are shared with bikes. Anyone riding a bike, finding conditions existing in the bike lane that make the bike lane unsafe to ride a bike in, is justified by law to ride the main lanes of the road.

      The pavement wording the city has in this most recent instance, used to inform bike lane users about main lane vehicles possibly turning, is just that…information…and nothing more. That pavement wording does not revoke bike lane users through travel right of way by law, that the law obligates main lane road users to give bike lane traffic.

      Maybe people are expecting a more simple, intuitive traffic control solution than is possible in this complicated infrastructure situation.

      For people on bikes riding in the bike lane, to travel safely on streets amongst motor vehicles, I don’t think there’s any substitute for knowing how to space themselves relative to vehicles to the rear of them and forward of them, in the main lanes when both are approaching and crossing intersections.

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      • Carl January 8, 2013 at 9:48 am

        “Anyone riding a bike, finding conditions existing in the bike lane that make the bike lane unsafe to ride a bike in, is justified by law to ride the main lanes of the road.” I’m not aware of the defense you describe ever having worked. See “The Case of Wayne McCabe.” http://bikeportland.org/2006/11/07/one-cyclists-perspective-on-bike-day-in-court-2494

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        • wsbob January 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm

          Carl…from your notes, (if you’re the Carl Larson whose notes about the two cases were posted back in ’07 to the bikeportland article the link you posted leads to):

          Below, ‘He’ is the cyclist that was cited;

          “…He brought up a friend, Kristine Okins, who was killed on that block while riding in the bike lane. His argument was that the bike lane was inherently unsafe and that he took that as license to avoid it as provided in ORS. The judge disagreed, saying that the law provides for actual threats, not hypothetical or historical ones. …” carl larson/shift

          If the cyclist had named specific hazards or conditions he had observed on the section of the bike lane he was riding during the general period of time when the officer chanced to see him and cite him, that probably would have satisfied the criteria the judge seems to have needed. Naming hazards and conditions such as: glass, flint, opening car doors, and so on.

          Or, the cyclist could have entirely avoided the hazard clause, saying instead that he was in the middle lane of the road because he was transitioning to the left lane in order to make a left turn at an upcoming street, an action ORS 814.420 acknowledges people riding bikes have a right to make.

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          • are January 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm

            the hazards you list sound just as hypothetical and/or historical as “my friend was killed here.” suppose there were no glass or flint or opening car doors in that moment. and if the truth of the matter is that he takes the lane because it is safer, it would be inadvisable for him to testify under oath that he was preparing to make a left.

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    • Chris I January 8, 2013 at 6:06 am

      I disagree. I feel that I can safely pass cars on the right without getting right hooked, and I don’t want to forfeit my ability to bypass car congestion in this area. You can take the lane if you feel the bike lane is unsafe.

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      • are January 8, 2013 at 11:55 am

        sharrows would not forbid you to pass on the right, but the striped bike lane arguably does forbid you to merge into the travel lane

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    • BellaBici January 8, 2013 at 6:58 am

      PBOT should place a sign on all downtown downhill one-way streets: BICYCLISTS TAKE THE LANE!

      The traffic signal lights are even coordinated for a cyclists comfortable downhill speed. The bike lanes on these downhills just seem like traps.

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  • Ted Buehler January 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Nice, but this is inconsistent with the law, and inconsistent with the allocation of Rights-of-Way at all other intersections in the state.

    2 problems:
    1) The signage creates a “stalemate”, with right-turning cars still being required to yield to bicyclists, but an implied message to bicyclists that they should yield to right-turning vehicles.

    2) If bicycles begin to stop mid-block when drivers have their right-turn signals on, it will encourage car drivers to disregard the “right turn yield to bicycles” sign here, which may also make them disregard it elsewhere, with disastrous results…

    I’d rather see an illuminated “no right turn” sign that kicks in when a bicycle is detected, like at NE Couch and Grand.

    Two thumbs up to the green zebra stripes, rather than green solid stripes, though.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Brian Davis January 7, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Frankly, I had hoped to see a much greater safety improvement following a bicycle fatality in the shadow of City Hall, and I find this to be a completely uninspiring, underwhelming effort.

    The zebra striping is a good step in the right direction, but watching the Stark Street bike lane from my office window all day, it’s clear that most driver’s don’t yet understand its meaning (or the difference between the zebra striping and solid green) so it isn’t likely to yield maximal safety benefits in the immediate future. But the signage and text? What, exactly, is it supposed to accomplish? Telling bicyclists they’re vulnerable isn’t particularly helpful, especially at an intersection where a ghost bike makes the same point much more emphatically. And those crowded little signs don’t do much either.

    As other cities are beginning to realize that it is not paint, but physical protection, separate signal phases, and real, tangible infrastructure that are key to growing bicycling, Portland all too often continues to try to find the magical combination of signage and thermoplastic that can accomplish the same things. We can do better than this.

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    • Rob X January 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      @ Brian Davis: “As other cities are beginning to realize that it is not paint, but physical protection, separate signal phases, and real, tangible infrastructure that are key to growing bicycling…”

      Physical separation? You can’t physically separate bikes and cars at an intersection, or even a driveway. The paths are going to cross unless you do freeway style grade separation. The crazy cycletracks just put the bikes where they’re even more of a surprise to the car drivers. They increase crash rates. Look at the Copenhagen before-after study.

      Sure, you can do separate light phases, if you don’t mind slowing everybody down by 30%. Fat chance.

      I don’t want a parallel universe. I don’t want a ghetto. I don’t want to wait at a clear intersection until my little bike traffic light turns green. I want a right to the road.

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      • spare_wheel January 9, 2013 at 8:13 am

        @Rob X,
        I often cite the studies by Jensen et al but I think its possible to build cycle tracks that minimize conflicts via signaling and/or infrastructure:

        http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2011/04/state-of-art-bikeway-design-or-is-it.html
        (Wagenbuur post on Hembrow’s blog)

        “The biggest problems with these [US] guidelines lie in the intersection designs. For instance, NACTO states “typical international best practice is a two-stage turn”. We couldn’t disagree more! The shown queuing boxes are a terrible solution. They not only slow cyclists down but put them in a very dangerous position in the middle of the junction where cyclists have to wait while motorised traffic passes on all sides. This is something that you will never see implemented in the Netherlands!”

        Hembrow on bike boxes:
        “This is also some way away from “state of the art bikeway design”. I suspect it was an idea from the 1980s…Bike boxes are a way of getting cyclists ahead of cars, but not a very effective one. I used them a bit in Britain, where they created conflict, especially in feeder lanes to the bike boxes, which were not a very good place to be should the light turn green and other vehicles start turning across your path, but also when you reach the bike box and find there’s an SUV where your bike ought to be.”

        I think the problem in PDX is that advocacy types are quite happy to build infrastructure that is dangerous, even deadly. I guess some believe that “build it and they will come” outweighs a bit of trauma and death.

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  • spare_wheel January 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    “PBOT said they felt the biking speeds in the collisions were unsafe for conditions”

    there is no way that pbot has accurate information about bike speeds during these collisions. (asking “they came out of nowhere” drivers does not count.) moreover, in the case sw madison signal timing makes it impossible to go faster that ~15 mph.

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    • El Biciclero January 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      Don’t forget,

      “…and further findings showed that a significant number of the collisions occurred when the person riding the bike attempted to overtake the person attempting to turn right.”

      If I’m riding parallel to someone who decides to slow down for whatever reason, I’m not “attempting to overtake” them, they are the one taking conscious action. If the person I’m riding parallel to is a driver who is slowing down to make a right turn, part of their conscious action is to follow the law and yield–not expect me to yield to them.

      I’m not saying this very well, but the “attempting to overtake” language makes it sound like cyclists are standing on the pedals and accelerating to overtake a right turning driver who otherwise would have been able to turn safely.

      I think what they meant was “a significant number of the collisions occurred when the person turning right attempted to execute the turn too soon after overtaking the person riding the bike.”

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      • matt picio January 9, 2013 at 10:45 pm

        Additionally, it’s impossible to “attempt to overtake them” when ORS 811.420 requires the cyclist to remain in the lane – in effect these are parallel and separate roadways. Establishing a notion of “overtaking” effectively says that a bicycle may never exceed the speed of an automobile in the adjacent lane.

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  • NW Biker January 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Add to this: does anyone actually see, much less even read, street signs? That’s a rhetorical question, because the answer is clearly NO. But at least they’re trying, and that’s something.

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    • Spiffy January 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      one more sign to look at is one more distraction for drivers…

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  • cyclerslife January 7, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    At some point, I think we have to acknowledge that allowing turns across a through (bike) lane is a failed design. Given that most bike traffic on Madison is going straight through to the Hawthorne Bridge, what about moving the bike lane to the center? This would also eliminate the sketchy mixing zone after 2nd. Dominate car/bike conflicts would shift from right hooks to lane merges. I think it might be an improvement in that it at least matches usual expectations (i.e. no turns across through lanes).

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    • spare_wheel January 7, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      since rickson’s death i now either take the lane or split the lanes and enter the bike box from the right. ef being a bike ambassador at this intersection.

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  • Spiffy January 7, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    PBOT said they felt the biking speeds in the collisions were unsafe for conditions

    can we get clarification on how the bicycle speeds made it unsafe?

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  • Scott January 7, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    This is my commute route. I have asked this question more than once. When a car is making a right turn in front of me, how far ahead of me does my right of way extend? For example, when I’m driving and I want to make to change lanes (the closest equivalent of this situation given that I would never make a turn across another lane), how far does the car in the other lane have to be?
    On Madison, you can easily have a vehicle making a right turn starting from a stop and a bike traveling down the bike lane at 20 mph. That bike can travel a 300 foot block in 10 seconds.
    Is it reasonable to expect a motorist to be able to confirm that there right side is clear going back an entire city block? If so, how far back is it reasonable?
    I certainly do not have an expectation that I have an infinite right of way ahead of me.

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    • El Biciclero January 7, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      Consider this question: If you are riding along the street, approaching an intersection with a driveway, and there is a driver waiting to exit from a driveway, how far does your right-of-way extend?

      Generally, if my actions are going to interfere with someone who has the right-of-way, e.g., make them slow drastically, stop, swerve, etc., I have to wait until the traffic I would affect has cleared. The tricky part for drivers is that it can be hard to tell how fast a bike is going when you are viewing it head-on, as would be the case when looking in a side or rear-view car mirror. My advice to drivers would be “if in doubt, wait it out”.

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  • J_R January 7, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    How about new markings in the auto lanes: “SLOW LOOK FOR AND YIELD TO THRU BIKES AS REQUIRED BY LAW.” Oh, never mind. Sarcasim.

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  • JJJ January 7, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Why are they using a writing style designed for 65mph highways? The upside down, large spacing between words style is so motorists can read at high speeds. Look at the MUTCD, no where does it say that such a style is needed on bike lanes. The words should be placed the correct way, (ie, first word on top), with no spacing between words.

    Its almost as bad as LANE BIKE

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    • Mike Cobb January 8, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      Soooo true. It’s as if the designers don’t ride a bike.

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  • i ride my bike January 7, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    This street between the transit mall and 1st ave should be bus and bike only, and they should be separate from each other. Theres too much bus and bike traffic for cars to mix in and would eliminate the right hook issue. Plus there are no driveways/garage entries or retailers on this stretch to complicate it. They need not spend much money to do this.

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  • Champs January 7, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    And here’s another case where “user preference” and practical solutions can’t coexist.

    Let’s be realistic about traffic speed in Portland’s city center—it moves at bike speed. Marking the rightmost lane on every street as mixed wouldn’t slow anybody down or do anything but make the streets safer, because it makes right hooks impossible.

    It’s unconventional, but even here in Portland, people don’t PREFER that, so I guess we just can’t consider it.

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  • matthew vilhauer January 7, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    we all know painted lines, bike boxes and signage do not keep riders from being run over.

    this was reinforced last week when someone nearly ran my gf over turning right across the green box/bike lane we were in while heading south on broadway in dntwn pdx.

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  • dwainedibbly January 7, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    The Dibbly Three-Step Plan for Increasing Safety Downtown

    1. Remove the bike lanes on all downhill streets in the downtown area or anywhere else where the speeds are low and the intersections frequent.

    2. Install sharrows.

    3. Put up “bikes may use full lane” signs in case anyone doesn’t understand sharrows. Downtown attracts enough people from out of town that there are certain to be some folks who don’t know what a sharrow is and in heavy, slow traffic a driver doesn’t much chance to see the surface of the road anyway. Also, because there is so much going on there, downtown can be a little intimidating to drive in for people who are unfamiliar with the area, so give drivers the benefit of sharrows AND signs.

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    • dwainedibbly January 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm

      I should add that removing the bike lanes takes away the influence of out terrible sidepath law. Better to repeal that legislation, but in the meantime, remove the bike lanes where they’re leading people to put themselves in harm.

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      • dwainedibbly January 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm

        dang. “out” should be “our”

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    • doug b January 7, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      I really like this idea. Along with it though I think there should be more bike infrastructure one uphills.

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  • chasing backon January 7, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    hard to read under all those dead leaves in the bike lane

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  • mark kenseth January 7, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    When it’s rainy and dark it’s hard to see any painted pavement. While riding east on Hawthorne having crossed the river and heading down the hill to the first stop light where cars have an off ramp I was almost hit. Drivers seem to not see anything in the rain and dark and think they can travel at the usual rate of speed. I hope adding more signs, reflectors, painted pavement helps, but when will it be enough?

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  • Ted January 7, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    As a victim of a right hook at this same intersection, I agree that something more is required here. Because of traffic backing up from the Hawthorne bridge and pedestrians crossing 3rd, it’s nearly impossible for bikes not to overtake cars intending to turn right.

    I fail see why prohibiting right turns at this intersection would be such a problem. Aren’t cars likewise prohibited from turning across the MAX & bus lanes in the transit mall?

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    • Chris I January 8, 2013 at 6:16 am

      This is probably the best solution. If drivers want to go south, they can do so at 5th and 1st, where the right-hook hazard does not exist.

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    • Andrew K January 8, 2013 at 7:19 am

      This.

      There is no reason why cars should be permitted to make a right hand turn at this intersection. Even taking safety out of the mix, car traffic heading toward the Hawthorne Bridge would flow much quicker without cars being permitted to turn right here. Add safety into the formula and you have a serious no brainer and a win/win for EVERYONE.

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  • GlowBoy January 7, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Saw this on my way home tonight. Fortunately I didn’t find myself in any extra danger with the distraction of this strange lettering.

    Personally I like having a bike lane here, because as as Ted just mentioned the car lanes are often backed up. I do slow down a bit on this block, since it’s known to be so dangerous, and I consider myself perfectly capable of identifying and avoiding the right-hook hazards here. There are far worse right-hooky intersections around town than this one.

    But some non-MUTCD-compliant wording in the CAR LANES — warning drivers to be careful turning right — would be nice. PBOT’s blame-the-victim mentality here is disgusting.

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  • Joseph E January 7, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Ignorning the bull. As usual.
    http://www.copenhagenize.com/2009/10/sacred-bull-in-societys-china-shop.html
    The bikes aren’t causing the problem. They are going at most 15 or 20 mph – slower than most cars, even downtown, except at rush hour. The problem is the cars turning across the bike lane.
    How about prohibiting right turns, or at least reinforcing the law that right-turning drivers need to yield to pedestrians and bikes?

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  • Andrew K January 8, 2013 at 7:15 am

    I have a very easy solution here. Get rid of the ability for cars to make right hand turns at this intersection. Period.

    This would improve traffic for everyone heading toward the Hawthorne Bridge (which is the majority of the traffic by far anyway) and would be safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. If someone wants to travel south on 3rd they can head up to the next block and hang three left hand turns (as is the case with a lot of intersections downtown already).

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  • Andyc of Linnton January 8, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Yeah, I feel like this will not really solve anything ,as many have commented. The whole thing is designed poorly.
    We desperately need either no-car streets downtown or more separated dedicated bicycle facilities, but the city seems so loathe to do this. The right-hand bike lanes are ridiculous on streets like these, and taking the lane is much safer. Also, yes, when driving the car, I cannot see green paint on a dark road in the rain. It disappears for the most part.
    Perhaps the paint in the lane could read, “Best Of Luck”, or would it be “Luck Of Best”?

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  • John Landolfe January 8, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Traveling under the speed limit through a green light in a lane with right-of-way is not sufficiently “safe” biking behavior? Huh.

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  • Granpa January 8, 2013 at 9:07 am

    “… some people feel that the new markings put the onus of responsibility on people in the bike lane, when Oregon law actually does the opposite.”

    It has always and shall ever be the responsibility of cyclists to monitor their safety. Laws do not keep cyclists safe, stripes and signs do not keep cyclists safe. Paying attention, Knowing hazards, paying attention, having the skills to ride safely and keeping an attitude to not put oneself in harms way keeps cyclists safe.

    Granted, the model in Oregon and the US for shared roads is fraught with hazards. Of course that model must and shall change with the persistent influence of activist cyclists, but ultimately the safety of cyclists is largely in their control. It is easy to blame PBOT, ODOT and the autocentric society as well as drivers who many in this forum consider “the enemy”. That is the zietgiest of this forum.

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    • spare_wheel January 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      if motorists were subject to right hook risk i am willing to bet that you would be a wee bit more sympathetic.

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      • Rob X January 8, 2013 at 4:29 pm

        “if motorists were subject to right hook risk i am willing to bet that you would be a wee bit more sympathetic.”

        Motorists aren’t subject to right hooks because a straight ahead motoring lane would never be placed to the right of a right turn only lane. But that’s what these bike lanes do. It is idiotic.

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  • peejay January 8, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Man, is this backwards!

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    • peejay January 8, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Meant as a reply to Granpa

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    • matt picio January 9, 2013 at 10:52 pm

      He’s absolutely right. Your safety is YOUR responsibility. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t press for improvements, but ultimately the best defense of a cyclist is being observant, expecting that anything could happen, and being prepared to react accordingly. Anticipate threats. Paint doesn’t protect – nor does half of the so-called “separated” facilities in use out there. Sure, Copenhagen and Amsterdam are doing it right, and I hope we eventually get there. Preferably sooner rather than later. Until we do, the best protector of cyclists on the roads is the individual cyclist. Take responsibility for your own safety. (this includes taking responsibility by pressuring PBOT, ODOT, the county, and whoever else you need to in order to effect change!)

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  • jim January 8, 2013 at 10:15 am

    If you don’t have bikes passing on the right as cars are turning you won’t have right hooks. Bikes don’t want to have to wait in line with cars though. Safety should be more important than their impatience.

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    • peejay January 8, 2013 at 10:56 am

      If you don’t have cars turning as bikes are legally traveling in a straight line, then you won’t have right hooks. Cars don’t want to wait for the right of way to be clear though. Safety should be more important than their impatience.

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      • matt picio January 9, 2013 at 10:54 pm

        You won’t have as MANY. You’ll still have them. Prevent right turns, and you’ll still have the occasional car making an illegal right turn – and when it happens, you’ll still get injuries/deaths, because when the turn is illegal, cyclists will stop paying attention.

        Maybe it *would* be better to kill the bike lane in these blocks and put in sharrows.

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      • wsbob January 10, 2013 at 10:36 am

        If more people biking, understood how to handle traffic situations like this one on the bike lane at Madison approaching 3rd, they could better help avoid being right hooked. Attempting to account for right hook occurrences by saying simply they’re due to impatience isn’t likely to help reduce their occurrence.

        It’s important to address the lack of knowledge some people that bike apparently have, of travel procedures amongst motor vehicles in this kind of urban traffic situation. Supplying them with this knowledge and making sure they have it, will enable cyclists to help protect their own safety.

        Amongst the virtues of biking that are periodically emphasized, is the assumed, superior position compared to people driving, people that bike have to hear, see, and anticipate traffic conflicts between themselves and motor vehicles. While that may be true, without the knowledge and skills required to safely ride in town amongst motor vehicles, those mentioned virtues of biking can’t afford to people biking, the benefits they are capable of providing.

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    • Chris I January 8, 2013 at 11:55 am

      Same logic applies to pedestrians? Right? Should we all just stop and stand where we are when the cars aren’t moving?

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  • BURR January 8, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Another band-aid on a terrible original design. What we need here is for the fundamental design flaws to be rectified, and not another band-aid.

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  • Granpa January 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Bikes may have right-of-way, but cars have right of weight. I would much rather hang back behind a car as we approach an intersection than win a lawsuit while sitting in a wheelchair. Car drivers are distracted, ignorant and poorly trained. Commercial truck drivers, including the one that killed the woman in May, are trained and certified but they are still human and make mistakes and their vehicles have significant blind spots. So long as cyclists share roadways with motor vehicles it will be the case that bicyclists who put themselves in harms way will be hurt. Cyclists who anticipate hazards tend to avoid them. It is an unfortunate situation that we don’t have the perfect bikeway system, but it is what we have it is up to each cyclist to be responsible for their own safety.

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  • DerosaBill January 8, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I heard channel 6 did a few interviews of cyclists on Madison on TV last night. I couldn’t find it. Anyone have a link?

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  • Granpa January 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    spare_wheel
    if motorists were subject to right hook risk i am willing to bet that you would be a wee bit more sympathetic.
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    I do have a car and I do drive when I don’t ride, but understand I am a cyclist of many many years. If being shaken by the horror and tragedy of the fatal collision in May can be considered sympathy then I am sympathetic. We are still left with hundreds of intersections throughout the city where right hooks can occur. The undertaking of revising all hazards to cyclists is impossible especially if they (we) are not doing everything we as individuals can do to keep ourselves safe. Yes that intersection is dangerous, yes the signs and road paint are no fix, but if riders don’t already know these hazards, and they are PAYING ATTENTION to the message they convey, then the nightmare in May can be a learning experience.

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    • El Biciclero January 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      There is only one problem with this. I agree that cyclists must look out for themselves from a defensive, self-preservation perspective, but the catch-22 is that informing cyclists of the dangers in this way (by words on the pavement) also makes these messages visible to drivers, who will get the idea that cyclists have some legal obligation to yield to right-turning cars. Never mind that there are signs telling right-turning motorists to yield to bikes, and that legal responsibility for any right-hook collision is the fault of the turning driver (much as rear-end collisions are generally the fault of the rear-ending driver). I have concerns that a) drivers will get the wrong idea of who has legal responsibility to look out for whom, and b) may be less careful about making right turns due to this misconception.

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  • Robert Burchett January 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Bike lanes:

    –cost money to install
    –create new hazards for cyclists
    –as interpreted, reduce road access for cyclists otherwise riding safely
    –impose new duties on motor vehicles with frail logic (rarely enforced)
    –reduce the probability of the rarest type of bike-car collision
    –in some cases, reduce the number of lanes available
    –segregate bikes into an area with more debris and standing water

    I could go on, but those are the main ones. Has anyone seen a cost-benefit analysis of bike lanes, or any bike lane?

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  • trikeguy January 9, 2013 at 10:15 am

    I commute on this daily and I found the safest way through down to 2nd is to ignore the bikelane and take the vehicle lane like any other car. I haven’t had a single issue in at least 300 passages through there since I did that.

    This also gets rid of much of the danger of people lane changing over me between 2nd and 1st since they start from in front of or behind me.

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  • GlowBoy January 9, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Still not buying the anti-bike-lane spew from the strong-and-fearless 1%ers. I think they do far more good than harm, and without them I would not ride anywhere near as much as I do now.

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    • Chris I January 9, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      They must only ride downtown and in the inner-east side. No one would be insane enough to take the lane on the roads I use to commute to work (high speed arterials in outer-east Portland).

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      • are January 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm

        this particular bike lane does demonstrable harm. this particular bike lane is downtown. this particular bike lane is situated in a place where essentially no one is going more than about fifteen mph.

        it is true i spend very little time very far east. i do sometimes take sandy in from the forties or fifties. yes, it is downhill, but the motorists are trying to go forty-five or thereabouts, and yes, i do take the lane. the alternative is to dodge in and out of a debris-filled parking lane.

        other times i take less traveled side streets.

        i would hope that my stated objections to [most] bike lanes are sufficiently rational that they need not be characterized as “spew.”

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    • robert January 10, 2013 at 11:38 am

      In my case it’s not “anti-bike lane,” it’s anti bike lanes the way they are designed in Portland, which is different than practically anywhere else. There is some nuance here between John Forester and those who think that any bike facility is safe.

      Come join the middle, it’s a common sense place to be.

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  • robert January 10, 2013 at 11:36 am

    It is mind blowing to me that the City of Portland continues to build bicycle lanes in this fashion. There are some serious problems that have contributed to deaths and injuries. Yet despite this, the City seems to be totally committed to finding a solution that prevents them from completely rethinking the way they create their bicycle lanes. Perhaps that would mean admitting that their previous designs really WERE dangerous despite plenty of noise from outside of Portland telling them just that.

    Worse, it seems that when people try to raise a voice to caution about the problem with bike lanes continuing to the right at intersections they are called an old fashioned vehicular cycling advocate….which is not true in my case. I’m all for cycle tracks, bike lanes, trails and all the rest, but when I’m in Portland I do not ride in these bike lanes because they scare the hell out of me at the intersections.

    How anyone could have dreamed that the bike boxes would help anything on a green phase is beyond me….of course they wouldn’t and of course they didn’t.

    There should *never* be a bicycle lane to the right of a possible right turn lane. There either needs to be a shared lane (sharrow, etc) or a completely seperate facility with lights timed so that a bicyclist can never continue straight at the same time that a motorist can possibly turn right.

    The law does place the burden on the driver, but that’s a much more difficult task than most people realize.

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