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The Monday Roundup: Is bad driving inevitable? and more

Posted by on July 22nd, 2013 at 6:05 am

Scene of fatal crash on SW Barbur Blvd-6
Jail time may not make a difference.
(Photo © J.Maus/BikePortland)

Here’s the bike news and views that caught our eyes this week:

Does punishing bad drivers even work? “We cannot address fundamental human failings by changing the law or proposing more punishment for failure while the underlying task that we are asking drivers to perform remains so difficult. … The way to address the problem of putting human beings in charge of any dangerous activity is to limit how often they have the opportunity to make catastrophic errors.” That’s David Hembrow in a post highlighted (and disputed) by commenter Paul in the ‘couve on Friday.

What’s with people who drive BMWs? Slate’s Department of Complaints offers up four theories on “Why BMW Drivers Are Jerks to Cyclists.”

iPods while biking: A person riding a bike playing music or podcasts over headphones can hear more ambient noise than a person in a car with the radio off, according to RideOn magazine. (Not that that’s a high standard.)

Bike planning podcast: Brainy Bicycle Transportation Alliance advocates Rob Sadowsky and Carl Larson visit the Sprocket Podcast to talk about the BTA’s new bike-project priority list.

Portland active transportation, envisioned: I’ve never seen a better visual explanation of what exactly the City of Portland’s active transportation office does than the one in this new brochure.

Sun glare excuse strikes again: In Palo Alto, a man who drove his truck into a bike lane while under the influence of meth and with a suspended license and then struck and critically injured a 12-year-old boy wasn’t charged with any criminal wrongdoing. He told police the sun was in his eyes and he could not see the boy.

Going the wrong way in bike lanes: Ulises Tamayo, 20, died in Pasadena last week after hitting a teenager who was pedaling in the opposite direction, against traffic. Tamayo suffered massive head injuries when they collided.

Seattle’s guerrilla bikeway: A team of anonymous Seattlites wanted a protected bikeway, so in the dead of night, they installed one in 10 minutes for $350. The city removed it – then built a permanent version three months later.

Seattlites prioritize transportation: 68 percent of Seattle voters are “very concerned” about traffic and transportation, making it the top local issue in a new survey. I don’t know of a similarly comprehensive recent survey in Portland.


CitiBike product placement? If so, we’ll endorse it. Bruce Willis rolled right into the Letterman set last week.

Bikeshare sponsorship pays: Thanks in part to constant attention like the above, consumer opinion of CitiBank’s “cares for customers” and “trustworthiness” tendencies has jumped 14 percentage points in one month.

A good life: “Bicycle Man” Moses Mathis of Fayetteville, N.C., dies at 76 after fixing up and giving away bicycles to thousands of children.

Why cars are history: Former New York Times Detroit bureau chief Micheline Maynard is Kickstarting an ebook that’ll explain why Americans are using cars less.

Dead freeway lessons: The NYT looks at the demise, at least for now, of the Columbia River Crossing and concludes that “the entire Pacific Northwest is developing its own unique transportation profile.”

“Zombridge”? The governors of Washington and Oregon both swear the CRC is dead, but “CRC officials are still pursuing the state and federal permits needed” for the highway-rail megaproject, Willamette Week reports.

Bikes in art museums: The Portland Art Museum’s Cyclepedia exhibit leads the way in a story on this new trend.

DUI lockups in Washington: Gov. Inslee just signed a law that would require arrest and jail time for anyone charged with a second impaired driving offense.

Pre-concert ride goes bad: Most of us have gotten a flat at a bad time. But if you happen to be Dave Matthews, you’ll have an easier time hitching a ride.

Rapha wins big in the Tour de France: Rapha is a UK-based company, but their North American headquarters is right here in Portland. The company continued their exciting growth with a big win in the Tour de France thanks to their sponsorship of Chris Froome and Team Sky.

The suburban ponzi scheme: One of the most fascinating new voices in the urban planning world, Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns, gets the six-minute Streetfilms treatment in your video of the week:

If you come across a noteworthy bicycle story, send it in via email, Tweet @bikeportland, or whatever else and we’ll consider adding it to next Monday’s roundup.

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  • Paul in the 'couve July 22, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Contrasting with the article by David Hembrow “Perfect driving will never happen” , this blog post by “The Urban Country Bike Blog” looks at why people and police are comfortable blaming the victim in when cyclist are hit by motorists. http://www.theurbancountry.com/2013/07/blaming-victim-gives-society-false-sense-of-security.html

    The particular case of victim blaming and the truth revelled by the wife’s lawyers and investigators are good examples of why we cyclists are so quick to question the “official line” in cases like the accident at 28th and Killingsworth last week.

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    • 9watts July 22, 2013 at 9:52 am

      Well, for starters, driving isn’t inevitable (long for this world), as one of your other links suggests.
      Human error is certainly not going to be eliminated, but as Judith Green’s Risk and Misfortune suggests,
      “In the late twentieth century there has been a dramatic transformation in how accidents are classified, discussed and managed. Ideally, accidents should no longer happen. In an era of every more sophisticated risk assessment, the accident apparently occupies a rather different conceptual space than it did in the first half of the century: as an event that is predictable, and ultimately preventable.” (p. 12-13)

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      • spare_wheel July 22, 2013 at 11:04 am

        That Hembrow essay epitomizes one of the things I dislike the most about copenhamsterdamistas. They do not seek to tame the bull. They seek to hide from him.

        #bikestockholmsyndrome

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        • Joseph E July 22, 2013 at 12:29 pm

          Dogs can by tamed, but most still need leash when out in public. Cats can be domesticated, to some extent. Bulls can be managed with fences, their horns can be cut, but they cannot be house-trained, and you don’t lead them down the street with a leash.
          What kind of animal is the automobile?

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          • Indy July 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm

            An extension of the driver’s right foot. So it’s a growth, or cancer, of sorts.

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          • wsbob July 22, 2013 at 4:14 pm

            “…What kind of animal is the automobile?” Joseph E

            Automobiles aren’t animals or any other type of living being…they’re vehicles used by people for travel. The ways in which automobiles are operated can reflect in some ways, the character, personality, and other traits and habits of people operating automobiles.

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        • dr2chase July 22, 2013 at 1:32 pm

          The “tame bulls” that I know of have had something important cut off.

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          • spare_wheel July 22, 2013 at 10:22 pm

            and that’s exactly the kind of bike advocacy i support.

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    • Paul in the 'couve July 22, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      I’ve thought about this for a few days. Currently in most of the USA we are far below some “optimal level” of accountability for motorists. I agree that penalties can be unrealistic and that relying on draconian sentencing mandates etc. has lots of perverse effects. However, it does not follow that American liability and enforcement is not too lenient on motorists.

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    • 9watts July 23, 2013 at 8:49 am

      a bit from Ivan Illich -

      “Cars create distance. Speedy vehicles of all kinds render space scarce. They drive wedges of highways into populated areas, and then extort tolls on the bridge over the remoteness between people that was manufactured for their sake. This monopoly over land turns space into car fodder. It destroys the environment for feet and bicycle. Even if planes and busses could run as nonpolluting, nondepleting public services, their inhuman velocities would degrade man’s innate mobility and force him to spend more time for the sake of travel.”
      Tools for Conviviality, p.52

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      • Paul in the 'couve July 23, 2013 at 9:43 am

        Thanks for that 9Watts. I’ve got some books added to my reading list. I’d heard the name Ivan Illich but I think I though it was a character from Dostoyevsky. I have a lot of though in common with Illich that has nothing to do with BP.org. I love this bit from Wikipedia even:

        The main notion of Ivan Illich is the concept of counterproductivity: when institutions of modern industrial society impede their purported aims. For example, Ivan Illich calculated that, in America in the 1970s, if you add the time spent to work to earn the money to buy a car, the time spent in the car (including traffic jam), the time spent in the health care industry because of a car crash, the time spent in the oil industry to fuel cars …etc., and you divide the number of kilometres traveled per year by that, you obtain the following calculation: 10000 km per year per person divided by 1600 hours per year per American equals 6 km per hour. So the real speed of a car would be about 3.7 miles per hour.

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  • Dave July 22, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Cases like Tom Sampson’s could make a person think that bicyclists need to develop a Hells’ Angel=ish streak, where a motorist who runs one of us over knows that odds are, the dead bicyclist’s buddies will burn your house down while your kids are sleeping in it.

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  • wsbob July 22, 2013 at 9:25 am

    “Does punishing bad drivers even work?” andersen/bikeportland

    The answer to that question is complicated. Some responses of course, to bad driving can be made, but the effectiveness of those responses are limited if the means relied upon is locking people up or attempting to keep them from driving by taking away their vehicle or access to them.

    Encouraging greater use of infrastructure embracing Sustainable Safety techniques is Hembrow’s objective in offering his thoughts as to why ideas about ever expecting people to be perfect drivers, are unrealistic, unreachable ideas.

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  • Hillsons July 22, 2013 at 10:59 am

    When the law no longer reflects the public opinion and allows meth users to run down or children without consequence, doesn’t anyone think it’s bloody time to change the law.

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  • Matheas Michaels July 22, 2013 at 11:17 am

    God it’s so true about the BMW drivers!

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  • Granpa July 22, 2013 at 11:19 am

    “Does punishing bad drivers even work?

    Well it might be worth a try. Thus far bad drivers get to drive as poorly as they want.

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    • El Biciclero July 22, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      Exactly. Let’s try it and find out if it works…

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      • Craig Harlow July 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm

        In some states, don’t parents go to prison when their children find the parents’ loaded and unlocked firearms and accidentally kill themselves with them? Criminal negligence, I think, is a thing.

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      • wsbob July 23, 2013 at 9:52 pm

        “Exactly. Let’s try it and find out if it works…” El Biciclero

        Try what? Punishing bad drivers as a means of having them somehow become good drivers? Easy to say, much harder to do effectively, with a positive outcome. People presently do get cited and fined. Is that punishment? There are results, but are the results what people are seeking?

        Let’s hear yours and Grandpa’s realistic ideas for punishing bad drivers as a means of somehow having them become good drivers. If your remarks actually are somehow serious and well thought out. Borrowing your characterization of some of the people that drive, maybe you’ve got thoughts that your ideas could also somehow make bad bike riders become good bike riders?

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        • 9watts July 23, 2013 at 10:02 pm

          wsbob,

          when we as a society don’t like people doing certain things we know good and well how to mete out the most severe punishments. Have you heard of three strikes laws? 30 years in the slammer for shoplifting… Have you noticed that we have more prisoners per capita than any country in the world? No they are not in there for killing people with cars.

          I’m not an advocate of any of that, but it is a little hard to listen to you intone that “People presently do get cited and fined.” What a joke the typical punishments for terrible driving in this country are. If we were serious about discouraging the kind of carelessness, distraction, speeding, you name it, we could come up with some penalties that communicated that sentiment lickety split. But we don’t, and until we do, let’s not pretend that our paltry ”People presently do get cited and fined.” communicates anything but that we basically are fine with the way things are.

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          • wsbob July 24, 2013 at 9:00 am

            “…If we were serious about discouraging the kind of carelessness, distraction, speeding, you name it, we could come up with some penalties that communicated that sentiment lickety split. But we don’t, …” 9watts

            You come up with something. Something realistic and practical. You seem to think penalties are an effective way of improving people’s operation of their vehicles, so assign yourself a project of conceiving penalties you think will effectively discourage bad driving and bad riding.

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          • 9watts July 24, 2013 at 9:10 am

            Easy.

            * driving infraction that results in loss of life:
            revoke license, impound car
            * caught driving without license subsequently:
            name/address goes on listing like the one of sexual predators
            * driving infraction that results in serious maiming:
            revoke license 6 months + 1,000 hours community service

            That took 3 minutes to think up. I’m sure others could do better. The point, wsbob, is that we can pretty easily come up with socially appalling consequences and administer them. That isn’t the trouble. The trouble, as we’ve had ample opportunity to learn here, is that elected officials appear to have no spine or interest in tackling this, and so it may be up to us.

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            • wsbob July 24, 2013 at 6:02 pm

              “…The trouble, as we’ve had ample opportunity to learn here, is that elected officials appear to have no spine or interest in tackling this, and so it may be up to us.” 9watts

              You could write up a bill proposal to put in place the punishment/penalties you have in mind, and shop it around to the Oregon reps or the senators. If it has a chance at all of being considered, they’d probably take a look, at least.

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        • El Biciclero July 24, 2013 at 11:44 am

          “Try what? Punishing bad drivers as a means of having them somehow become good drivers?”

          Deary me. I was highlighting the observation of many that drivers seem to get off with light “punishments” even though they have killed people. “I didn’t see him!” (wasn’t looking). “The sun was in my eyes! The SUN!” (driving too fast for conditions). “He came out of nowhere!” (blaming victims). Sure, there are some situations where collisions are not necessarily the result of bad driving, but The System is pretty tilted toward the motoring public because “they are us”, whereas “cyclists are weirdos”.

          I wouldn’t necessarily want to increase punishments to turn bad drivers into good ones, I would rather have the goal of turning bad drivers into pedestrians. I.e., no more driving, at least for a while. If you can’t handle losing your license and still feel you MUST drive? Then lose your actual car. Oops! Were you borrowing uncle Louie’s car while you were suspended? Too bad for uncle Louie–you just lost him his car (assuming he knew you were suspended). I’ve stated this before: take the cars away from bad drivers just like we would take the firearms away from felons.

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    • wsbob July 23, 2013 at 9:51 am

      Post any suggestions or ideas…realistic ones…you may have for meting out punishment you think would be effective in having people become better drivers. Maybe you have some ideas about who, or what type of person the bad drivers are. Unless you’re suggesting all drivers are bad drivers, knowing this could help to more effectively focus on the people whose driving isn’t so good.

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      • Paul in the 'couve July 23, 2013 at 10:09 am

        Start with way more red light cams and photo speed enforcement. Right now very basic enforcement of traffic laws is minimal at best. The only choices for that are either automatic ticketing with cameras or raising fines enough to cover the costs of manpower for a massive increase in enforcement. I think automatic cameras are the way to go, but still we need some more effort from Police Departments to take safe driving seriously. I’d also be in favor of including distracted driving or cell phone use enforcement automatically at least as a secondary offense. If get a red light ticket and you are on your cell phone or looking down at your lap, double the fine for distracted driving.

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  • jonno July 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    this is not related to anything here but I have been unable to find an answer anywhere else. A bus is stopped in the bike lane so you, on a bicycle, proceed to pass it on the left. The bus starts moving before you have finished overtaking it. Does the bus have to yield?

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    • JJJ July 22, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      If the bus has its blinkers on, indicating tis going to pull out, you should yield.

      If youre already passing then the bus should yield.

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    • Jeff July 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm

      One way to look at your question is “what is the consequence of the bus not yielding?”

      I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice, but if the bus was signalling in any fashion to re-enter and you had sufficient time to see and react to said signal prior to passing, you should have yielded. Any confusion, refer to my earlier point.

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  • jonno July 22, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    The person who asked me was already passing when the blinkers went on. I told her that I will pass if I am sure I can make it. If there is any doubt I will yield. You will always lose an argument with a bus.

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    • Chad July 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      Considering the Yield blinker is on the back of the bus, your friend should amend her statement to “I had already decided to pass when the blinker went on.” If she was passing, she wouldn’t be able to see the back of the bus. /pedant

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  • Chris Anderson July 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Too bad all the folks in the Active Transportation brochure are dressed to convince the world that biking is a high-risk activity. The research suggests its actually a healthy way to get around, and that if we’d stop scaring people about it the net change would be a public health benefit.

    Looking forward to the day when helmets are no longer required in “politically correct” biking materials.

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  • Paul in the 'couve July 22, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I’m a little surprised this article was missed: “Who Parked in My SPOT!!!??” from sightline. http://daily.sightline.org/2013/07/18/who-parked-in-my-spot/. Although it isn’t directly cycling related, it’s interesting. There was a shooting incident over a parking space in Seattle again last week too.

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  • Gasper Johnson July 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    great links. ive been waiting on some more definitive studies on earbuds. i see lots of drivers with those in which makes me think i might get their attention if i end up stuck to their windshield.

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  • El Biciclero July 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I have also noticed that I experience the least accommodating behavior from drivers of 1. BMW 2. Mercedes Benz, 3. School buses, 4. White delivery vehicles, whether vans or box trucks.

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  • Paul in the 'couve July 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    A 67 year old bicyclist was hit on I-5 two miles south of Woodland. Gerardus C. Vandersalm was riding north and the State Patrol is report says he “veered into the right lane and was struck by a northbound 1999 Dodge Ram pickup driven by Jeffrey G. Hicks, 37, of Vancouver. Hicks was pulling a boat and trailer.” http://www.columbian.com/news/2013/jul/21/bicyclist-hurt-i-5-crash/

    I hope Gerardus is recovering and that his injuries are not severe.

    I know this is a bit far from Portland. Two things I don’t like about this (besides that someone is hurt) are the lack of options in the area for cyclists and no indication that there is a witness other than the driver that it was the cyclists fault. There is no decent north / south route for a cyclist in this area. The best option involves going 1.5 miles east into la Center then climbing significant hills while riding on a narrow winding road to get to Woodland. I’ve often considered the freeway there myself. Save 2 miles or more of distance, and hills and the shoulder is at least wide. The I-5 would be viable if it weren’t for the two bridges with narrow shoulders.

    Once more the cyclist gets the full blame. No mention of witnesses. I presume we are just taking the drivers word for it, that he didn’t drift over the lane stripe and take out a cyclist on the side of the road.

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    • wsbob July 23, 2013 at 9:42 am

      Gerardus C. Vandersalm, the gentleman riding the bike, also was cited for ‘improper use of a lane’. There’s a follow-up Columbian story about this collision in addition to the one you provided the link for. It said yesterday, Vandersalm was still in the hospital but in fair condition. Maybe at some point, we’ll hear his story of how the collision occurred.

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      • wsbob July 23, 2013 at 10:56 am

        Correction: the story reported with the following sentence, that Vandesalm was cited:

        “Van der Salm was cited for unsafe lane travel by the Washington State Patrol.”

        I’m wondering what Washington State statute he was cited under, because near as I can tell, there isn’t one with the title, ‘unsafe lane change’. Here’s a link to the Washington State Legislature webpage for ‘Rules of the Road’ statutes: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.61&full=true

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    • wsbob July 23, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      By the way, the latest on the story of the cyclist that last year, ran into and killed a pedestrian in SF was just in this morning (thanks to maus and his twitter posts, I just noticed it.): http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/Cyclist-pleads-guilty-in-Castro-crosswalk-death-4680814.php

      Chris Brucherre has pled guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter. He gets off with no time behind bars…instead, 1000 hrs of community service. I’m wondering if the terms of his sentence also include some type of education that will try to have him become in the future, someone that rides more safely with regards to other people in need of using the road.

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  • Paul in the 'couve July 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    And sun glare yet again http://www.columbian.com/news/2013/jul/22/suv-driven-by-camas-woman-strikes-pedestrian-kills/

    Couldn’t see, couldn’t see the signal, …. don’t slow down, just keep driving until you hit something…..

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  • Ryan July 23, 2013 at 7:35 am

    BikePortland, or some other blog, should have a section where cyclists with video/photo evidence of dangerous drivers can post their evidence for the world to see…faces…the car….license plate #s….etc.

    I wonder if BikePortland would be build such a thing here? It’d be easy to throw up a simple WordPress/blogspot blog if they don’t want to do that…Anyone here think it is a good idea?

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