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The Monday Roundup: Math, danger in safety, transit in Seattle, and more

Posted by on January 9th, 2017 at 10:32 am

What could possibly go wrong?!

Welcome to Monday.

We’ve got another great week in store. But before we get started let’s take a look at the most noteworthy stories we came across last week…

Cities liable for unsafe streets: In what advocates are calling a “landmark” decision, a state court has found that New York City is party liable for a fatal traffic crash because the street where it happened was dangerous by design.

Jar-gone: “Road diet”, “pedestrian”, “smart cities” — these are just a few bits of jargon that many transpo advocates and experts would like to toss into the wastebin.

Ask him anything: Outgoing US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx did a Reddit AMA where he called for a “fundamental redesign” of transportation funding and a whole lot more.

Speeding 101: FiveThirtyEight has a great primer on the history and science behind speed limits and why the way they are set is part of the problem.

Don’t mind the signal: For some crazy reason lawmakers in Ohio thought it would be a good idea to allow people using cars to go through red lights under certain circumstances. What could possibly go wrong?!

Crime rates and changing neighborhoods: It’s a miracle: An entire article about the causes of gentrification and there’s no mention of bike lanes.

Let’s do the numbers: Bookmark this one for upcoming debates in Oregon about transportation funding. A city planner points out how simple math proves the best investments are biking, walking and transit.

Gorge bike industry: Until we read this story we had no idea there was a (big) little company nestled in the Columbia River Gorge that has found a niche making bikes for police officers and security services.

Transit doing its job in Seattle: For cities to flourish they need to not just get tough on car control, they need to have high quality transit. The latest from Streetfilms profiles how Seattle is doing in that regard (hint: pretty darn good).

Systematic Safety: Noted traffic safety academic Peter Furth narrates this excellent new video on the principles of Vision Zero.

Where cars don’t work: Madrid is the latest city in Europe to make bold plans to rid a section of its central core of cars.

Both, not either/or: Our old friend Michael Andersen lays out the case that bike boulevards (aka neighborhood greenways) on sidestreets work much better when done in addition to not instead of protected bike lanes on main streets.

Protected intersection boom: Andersen also wrote about how the installation of protected intersections is skyrocketing across the U.S.

105 years old and riding strong: If you were completely off media this past week you might have missed this heart-warming story about a 105-year-old French man who pedaled 14 miles in an hour.

Greenway visions in Motor City: Great plans start with great visions like this one shared by the Detroit Greenways Coalition.

City planning and public health: There’s growing buzz among planners and researchers that public health concerns might help tip the scales away from auto-dominated places.

Danger in safety: This article about how safety precautions in football equipment actually make the sport more dangerous — a phenomenon known as the “Peltzman effect” — could be applied to automobiles.

Thanks to everyone who shared suggestions.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • colton January 9, 2017 at 10:41 am

    If Michael Andersen is old, then I’m ancient!

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  • Scot Key January 9, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Could we get a link for the “jar-gone” piece. It’s currently a duplicate of the previous link.

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  • Wells January 9, 2017 at 10:48 am

    If you guys don’t mind, I’ll post first, not make sense and thereafter remain in non-responsive heated/smarmy discussion elsewhere. Self-driving cars. Environmental, economic, social health to get better with them, (just suppose) 20% more VMT, a lot empty, if the technology were possible. It’s not possible. Levels 1 thru 5 suggest only 2 level wherein drivers eyes on the road and the drivers hands are on the wheel.
    So there you have it. Self-driving car jokes follow.
    Take me somewhere, Robocar”
    No, you leave trash in the back seat.
    Ejection sequence initiated, 10,9,8…
    Leave or major unpleasantness follows, 7,6,5,4…(^;

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  • Dan A January 9, 2017 at 10:50 am

    “A brand new law in Ohio allows for drivers to go through an intersection even if there is a red light, provided the light is malfunctioning.”

    That’s not the same as the Idaho Stop law.

    And can’t drivers already do this? When a set of lights are out at an intersection, people take turns going – they don’t sit there indefinitely.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 9, 2017 at 10:55 am

      It’s similar enough in concept IMO that the Idaho Stop comparison is valid.

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      • J_R January 9, 2017 at 11:30 am

        Not even close to similar.

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      • Champs January 9, 2017 at 11:54 am

        Our old friend Michael Andersen wrote about that sort of hyperbole right here on BikePortland:

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 9, 2017 at 12:33 pm

          OK I took out all references to Idaho Stop from the story. sorry for any confusion. Didn’t mean to mislead and wasn’t attached at all to the comparison.

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          • Dick Button January 9, 2017 at 12:46 pm

            You’re the purveyor of an independent news outlet. A little click-bait is forgivable.

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            • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 9, 2017 at 1:01 pm

              wasn’t done for click-bait. I respect you too much to be motivated by stuff like that. also a funny charge because i make very very very little money on ads that are tied to traffic. Driving traffic to the site isn’t our measure of success. Never has been never will be. That’s why we rely on the community to step up and support the work…. if we had to only rely on traditional advertising it would be much more difficult to resist the clicky-baity business model.

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              • Dan A January 9, 2017 at 1:05 pm

                IMO it’s worth the subscription.

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                • Hello, Kitty January 9, 2017 at 4:17 pm

                  Click here to find out why producers won’t cast Jennifer Anniston anymore!

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                • Dan A January 9, 2017 at 5:26 pm

                  Spoiler alert: It was the wrong Jennifer.

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    • wsbob January 9, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      It seems you’re reading that story correctly. Operative phrase is: “…provided the light is malfunctioning. …”.

      Another important excerpt from that story:

      “…But police say motorists shouldn’t feel as though they have a free pass.

      “Just because you’re waiting there for a few seconds, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be okay for you to run the red light,” said Lt. Joe Heffernan of the Toledo Police Department. …” nbc24

      Is Ohio really having such a serious problem keeping their traffic lights working, that they would go to the trouble of making the dubious choice of passing a law like this one?

      Seems like fixing the lights, or getting more reliable ones, would be smarter and safer. Maybe Ohio is getting too poor to keep its traffic signal lights working, prompting people there to decide to just to let people drive through red lights not changing as soon as people driving think they should.

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    • BradWagon January 9, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      Heck people already go through red lights when the intersection is clear and they are just getting tired of waiting… we don’t need laws that even vaguely could be seen as justifying this.

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      • David Hampsten January 9, 2017 at 4:46 pm

        Here in Greensboro, as in much of the USA, the lights are not set up to register bicycles, just cars. So when I stop at a signalized intersection and no cars are also waiting, I’ll never ever get a green. So the Ohio law makes perfect sense – the lights are treated as 4-way stop signs. If it is safe to so, I can legally cross through the intersection, even on a red light.

        On the long-term, cities can replace $250,000 multi-lane signals with $1,000 worth of stop signs. The lack of pedestrian signals and crosswalks is already endemic here, as it is in most of East & SW Portland. A few dozen fatal car crashes should make car drivers as wary as bicyclists and pedestrian already are.

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        • J_R January 9, 2017 at 5:17 pm

          David, I don’t believe for a minute that there are traffic signals in Portland that lack pedestrian signal heads. Please name one! I’d be surprised if you can name a signalized intersection in Portland without marked crosswalks either.

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          • David Hampsten January 9, 2017 at 5:42 pm

            Signalized intersections without marked crosswalks and/or ped signals: E Burnside at 108th (no crosswalk across north side of 108th nor east side of Burnside); NE Glisan at I-205 (if every intersection and corner is a legal crossing, then at least 3 are neither marked nor signaled here, especially given the ped traffic here); 5 intersections around SE Stark/Washington at 205 and 99th (missing sidewalks, crosswalks, and signals – why would you have a bike lane along Stark, but no sidewalk???); SE Market at 96th (all are missing); Division at 119th (no signal & crosswalk on west side) – for starters.

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            • J_R January 9, 2017 at 6:05 pm

              David, I checked Google street view and found that every signalized intersection you identified has pedestrian signal heads or is marked crosswalk closed. The north crosswalk 108th lack the delineation of a marked crosswalk but has pedestrian signal heads. Main and 96th is a stop-controlled intersection with a flashing red supplementing the stop signs. There are no pedestrian signal heads, but since it’s not a full traffic signal they are hardly needed.

              I don’t disagree with the fact that pedestrian facilities could be better, but pedestrian signal heads are not missing where there is a legal crosswalk.

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          • David Hampsten January 9, 2017 at 5:51 pm

            Also SE Stark at 130th (west side); SE 112th at Holgate (west and south sides). Why Marine Drive has no signalized intersections is beyond me.

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        • BradWagon January 10, 2017 at 9:12 am

          Agree this law would make sense for cyclists… So much so in fact that it indeed already exists!

          SB533 was passed in June of 2015 and went into effect Jan 2016. ORS 811.360 now permits motorcyclists and bicyclists to proceed through a red light when the in ground sensor fails to trigger a light change after one full cycle (roughly 2-3 minutes).

          So seeing we have this law for when someone can’t trigger the signal and the rule of treating malfunctioning lights as 4 way stops this new proposal isn’t necessary in any way.

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          • GlowBoy January 10, 2017 at 10:38 am

            And even before SB533 was passed, case law fully supported cyclists’ right to do this. IIRC Ray Thomas had talked about this for years, and I certainly practiced it.

            Actually, I rarely have problems with intersections that have in-ground sensors. Much more often I have difficulty with optical detectors, of which there are many on Portland’s west side. Does SB533 really apply to in-ground detectors? I sure hope not.

            FWIW, here in Minnesota we are also allowed to “violate” red lights that are clearly failing to detect our presence.

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            • Dan A January 10, 2017 at 11:24 am

              The optical detectors I encounter in Washington County are very hit or miss. I’ve reported the one at 118th & Cornell for adjustment multiple times, but they’ve never been able to correct it well enough for it to work reliably. I wonder if the shadows from the walking bridge and the trees nearby are interfering with its ability to detect me (it seems to work better during different seasons). So now I just look at my watch, and if more than a minute has passed I know it hasn’t seen me, and I go when it’s safe.

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      • Middle of the Road guy January 10, 2017 at 8:38 am

        This is true. I see cyclists do it frequently.

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  • Adam H. January 9, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Another side effect of only building bike boulevards is now all the drivers expect bikes to be “out of the way” and off the major business corridors. Then the businesses get to cling to their on-street parking under the guise that no one bikes on the street.

    Imagine how much cycling would skyrocket if we had quality protected bike lanes on streets like Hawthorne, Burnside, Williams, etc. – places people actually want to go to rather than simply cycle through.

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    • soren January 9, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      and imagine how walking, cycling, and skating would skyrocket if some of our major commercial districts were low-car or car-free:


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      • Adam H. January 9, 2017 at 12:44 pm

        I’ve been calling for a car-free NW 13th since I first set foot on the street and saw how ridiculous it is that we allow people to drive and park on it. There’s no sidewalk and city code even calls for new developments to purposely be built without new sidewalks. So why do we allow people to drive and park on this crowded, popular destination while people on foot get to dodge impatient drivers? We already ban cars one day a month for First Thursday, it’s time we extend it to every day. This should be a no-brainer, as it’s blatantly obvious to me that the current setup just does not work.

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        • Chris I January 9, 2017 at 1:14 pm

          At an absolute minimum it should have barriers at the end of every block to eliminate through traffic. It can be a great street to walk on, but it only takes one driver to make it a nightmare.

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          • Adam H. January 9, 2017 at 1:20 pm

            My idea for the street is to install removable bollards at every block in both directions that prevent all motor traffic from entering the street. Deliveries and loading can happen off-hours when the businesses are closed to the public, at which time city officials can remove the bollards to allow this. Then replace them before everything opens for the day. This is how things are done in many European cities.

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        • Wells January 9, 2017 at 1:16 pm

          In 1997 I penned title The Walkable Portland of 2040 for enjoyment then.
          Electric rail since has accomplished a lot of good outcome, unexpected side benefits and advantages. The streetcar ran clockwork during the recent snow spells. Count on Streetcar patronage increasing both riding and proposing new routes. Ooops,

          Question: Why NOT a 4th/5th Aves Streetcar couplet?
          I’ll agree with the turn west on Yesler. Though Jackson is straighter.
          The couplet route is the Plan B should 1st Ave (should and will) prove wrong for pedestrians/bicyclists, transit vehicles and motorists too saying, “Over my cold dead hands you’ll pry them loose my steering wheel.

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          • GlowBoy January 10, 2017 at 10:39 am

            I thought I got an alert from TriMet on Sunday that the streetcar was knocked out by the ice storm?

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  • Eric January 9, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Another public official calling for drastic changes in their own policies as they’re leaving office. How convenient.

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    • David Hampsten January 9, 2017 at 5:23 pm

      I heard Anthony Fox last October in DC, at the USDOT headquarters. He’s a good speaker. He’s a former mayor of Charlotte NC, the largest city here and one of the more liberal cities in the state, somewhat bigger than Portland.

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  • stephanlindner January 9, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Looks like the Seattle streetfilm link it not correct, or?

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  • rick January 9, 2017 at 11:52 am

    What a horrible law in Ohio. Did Honda pay for it?

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    • John Lascurettes January 9, 2017 at 1:40 pm

      Isn’t it already pretty universal in the U.S. that when stoplights are out, they’re to be treated like stop signs? So that’s nothing new.

      The new part is the rule where you can stop and go through on the red if it’s “malfunctioning” — sounds similar to the law recently passed in Oregon for motorcycles and bikes. I don’t know the specific language of the OH law, but in OR you must wait through more than one (ambiguous to determine) light cycle before proceeding. And like the OR law, the burden is on the driver/rider to prove that it was necessary (meaning, you can easily still be pulled over for it).

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      • q'Tzal January 9, 2017 at 5:18 pm

        A “malfunctioning” red light is a tacit admission by the responsible Department of Transportation that the traffic signal triggering system does not work for everyone AND that it will cost so much to fix all of them that a law was chosen to “fix” the substandard safety equipment.

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        • Middle of the Road guy January 10, 2017 at 8:41 am

          Dude, sometimes machines break down. If your bike gets a flat tire, is that a tacit admission that the tire manufacturer somehow failed?

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          • q'Tzal January 11, 2017 at 3:06 pm

            … machines don’t sometimes break down: machines always break down. No piece of equipment operates malfunction free forever.

            Multiply this by hundreds of thousands of traffic lights, especially old inductive loop triggered signals, and any state DOT’s annual budget will scream for mercy under the myriad of demands upon it.

            Being strictly pragmatic about it: pavement requires manpower and materials but non-compliant traffic signals can be “solved” with a legislative magic wand. This would be a very cost effective way to defer the expense of replacing or upgrading untold thousands of decades old flaky and high maintenance traffic signals.

            As long as the long term costs of litigation are mitigated by education for the driving public on how such a law applies and training for police officers on how NOT to harass drivers legally operating under said law.


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            • Pete January 11, 2017 at 5:53 pm

              Interesting parallel in the cyber security world… there are myriad “basic” steps that users can take to protect themselves, like firewalls or routers that don’t expose vulnerable ports that only need to be used by the LAN and not the WAN. Recent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that took down Dyn and other service providers was enabled not just by “IoT” products like webcams that use insecure protocols, but by the unawareness of people using them. (And that may be because their manufacturers didn’t document general best practices… we call this a “secure deployment guide” for their use).

              Now there are lawsuits against “IoT” manufacturers:

              This is akin to the government suing GM/etc for building cars that have too much horsepower because drivers can’t control them when they speed. Will be interesting to see how this plays out…

              (Sorry, I digress).

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      • Pete January 9, 2017 at 5:44 pm

        Ah, I was wondering if that law passed, thanks. Seems to be here:

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  • Kyle Banerjee January 9, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    The Peltzman effect has already been studied in automobiles and they’ve found that airbags, traction control, and other safety devices do encourage unsafe driving practices. http://www.monash.edu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/218270/racv-abs-braking-system-effectiveness.pdf and http://wayback.archive.org/web/20071121093703/http://psyc.queensu.ca/target/chapter07.html would be two examples. The TLDR; version is that the safety measures do more good than harm, but they do introduce issues.

    I suspect that cyclists are not immune to this effect. Portland has the best cycling infrastructure and laws of any place I’ve lived. But from a safety point of view, riding practices here are also the worst I’ve witnessed. I often worry that living here too long will change the way I ride and get me into trouble if I ever move out of this bubble.

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    • wsbob January 9, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      Big difference between what football players do in their sport, and what people driving motor vehicles do in their day to day use of the road:

      Football players deliberately seek to bash into each other. This is part of their game. It’s why the safety protection their gear offers, is so important.

      People driving seek to avoid bashing and crashing their vehicles into each other. They still need their vehicles to be equipped with safety gear, but it doesn’t seem to be the case that they’re blase about crashing their vehicles into each other because motor vehicles are equipped with safety gear.

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    • soren January 9, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      “But from a safety point of view, riding practices here are also the worst I’ve witnessed.”

      i personally would only make such an all-encompassing stereotypical statement if i had some evidence…but that is just me.

      “I often worry that living here too long will change the way I ride…”

      i see that you are beginning to feel the irresistible draw of je ne sais quoi cycling culture. i predict that it’s only a matter of time before you join me in safely blowing ladd’s addition stop signs while dressed in black, wearing a cycling cap, listening to podcast, and sipping farm-direct java!

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      • Dan A January 9, 2017 at 1:10 pm

        Soren, your POV has certainly influenced my opinion. I don’t ride or walk like you (yet) but I have made some changes towards the assertiveness you describe. We currently live in a world where cars have the top priority everywhere (regardless of lip service to the contrary), and it’s interesting to think about the flip side of that and how it might be applied.

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      • Kyle Banerjee January 9, 2017 at 2:32 pm

        If you need evidence, ride elsewhere. There may be a few isolated pockets (Eugene and Corvallis may fall into this category), but some common practices here are nonexistent elsewhere.

        There are a number of practices that broadly could be described as riding as if the cars are not there — passing on the right of vehicles that are obviously about to turn would be an example. I’d never seen this before I moved to PDX. Riding like that in other parts will get you into a lot of trouble fast.

        The safest riding that I see is when conditions are worst. When it’s dark and icy as it was this morning and will be this evening, everyone seems to use their heads.

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        • Adam H. January 9, 2017 at 2:37 pm

          passing on the right of vehicles that are obviously about to turn would be an example

          Could that be because of the law regarding drivers turning across the bike lane being required to yield to cyclists? You know, the exact law we’ve been arguing about for the last week?

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          • Kyle Banerjee January 9, 2017 at 3:13 pm

            @Adam, you are a shining example of exactly what I’m talking about 🙂

            While I’m sure it is for the reason you suggest, routinely passing on the right is betting that everyone:

            1) Knows the law
            2) Follows the law
            3) Saw you assuming (1) and (2) apply

            the math will catch up with you even with 99.9% compliance.

            This is state law, but please don’t ride like that if you leave PDX. It is virtually suicidal in most places.

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            • Adam H. January 9, 2017 at 3:36 pm

              For the record, I don’t do this. I always pass on the opposite side that a driver is about to turn. So, please stop giving me riding advice. I know how to ride a bicycle. kthx 😉

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              • J_R January 9, 2017 at 3:39 pm

                Maybe you could set an example by not providing everyone with riding advice.

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                • Adam H. January 9, 2017 at 3:40 pm

                  Huh? I never give out unsolicited riding advice.

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              • GlowBoy January 10, 2017 at 10:42 am

                ” I always pass on the opposite side that a driver is about to turn.”

                I find this very difficult to believe. Unless you never ride at rush hour.

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                • Adam H. January 10, 2017 at 10:49 am

                  I ride almost exclusively at rush hour, though I don’t often find myself passing motor vehicles. I do usually pass on the right unless I know a driver is turning, which is rare since no one seems to use turn signals.

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                • Dan A January 10, 2017 at 11:26 am

                  Can’t….move…..pinky. Too….difficult.

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            • BradWagon January 9, 2017 at 3:43 pm

              Well when someone is sitting in the road with their signal going waiting for the bike lane to be clear please don’t stop and wave them thru or dart out into the auto lane… some of us are trying to ride predictably per the law.

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              • Pete January 9, 2017 at 5:51 pm

                I won’t stop and wave, but I’ll pass them on the left anyway. Hypothetical aside, I’m not going to risk them not having moved there from California… (and when it happens here, it’s usually because the driver is pausing to answer a text).

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        • soren January 9, 2017 at 4:11 pm

          “passing on the right of vehicles that are obviously about to turn would be an example.”

          this is a natural outcome of higher mode share in the context of slow-moving urban traffic. we do not live in city where everyone can take the lane and lane-control when they want to negotiate an intersection — and especially so when there is a bike lane. have you ever considered that the people you see carefully filtering through turning traffic are not clueless newbies and would likel choose ride in a more VC manner in a different context.

          even among the most skilled urban cyclists there has always been a split between people who prefer to filter on the right and those who tend to split on the left. and despite VC doctrine, i don’t think there is any evidence that one approach is better than the other.

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          • Kyle Banerjee January 9, 2017 at 4:46 pm

            Agreed. My example is not about passing on the right per se, but passing on the right when you don’t have specific reason to believe it is safe to do so (fleeting eye contact, subtle vehicle movement, etc. count for purposes of establishing this). If people are reasonably attentive, it’s plenty safe and the risk of getting hooked is next to nil.

            This is very different than barreling through on the right with the assumption that the driver will stop in accordance with state law. Likewise, it is also possible to ride in a manner that appears VC on the surface but is in fact dangerous because it is based on assumptions on what others will do rather than what is happening in the moment.

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            • Adam H. January 9, 2017 at 4:52 pm

              You’re assuming that VC is safe. Every time I “take the lane”, it results in angry drivers passing illegally into the oncoming lane, or “punishment passing” me. Defensive riding or not, the problem is bad drivers, not bad cyclists.

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              • Hello, Kitty January 9, 2017 at 5:08 pm

                Do you ever ride with a camera? I’d love to watch one of your trips. I feel that we inhabit parallel cities.

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                • Adam H. January 10, 2017 at 9:03 am

                  The time I had to ride on Division from 50th into downtown on my heavy Dutch bike due to the recent ice storm was fun. Lots of aggressive passing.

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              • Kyle Banerjee January 9, 2017 at 5:08 pm

                I don’t assume anything is safe, but there are practices which I’ve found generally work.

                There are a lot of bad drivers, but I find it impossible to believe you’re not doing something even if you’re not aware of what it is. Every time I’m in areas where I know you ride, I keep an eye out for you because you seem to have significantly more problems with drivers than most people.

                I do see cyclists experience things like you report, but it doesn’t happen to me on the same roads at the same time. My guess is that there are reasons that extend beyond bad driving and bad driver attitudes.

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                • Adam H. January 9, 2017 at 5:19 pm

                  As I have stated before, it is likely because I ride slower than most. I get passed by most cyclists. It’s usually worse in the afternoon when I’m riding uphill and almost always on a greenway. Though I do get idiots who pass me downtown by driving on the MAX tracks.

                  Although, for whatever reason, drivers seem to treat me better when I’m on the ultra slow 50 lb. Dutch bike vs my not-as-slow Surly or the Brompton. Guessing the slowness + uprightness of the bike makes me look like a newbie cyclist, and thus drivers are more cautious. Similar to the effect of riding a bike share bike.

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                • 9watts January 9, 2017 at 11:27 pm

                  You’re actually a ninja?

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                • Hello, Kitty January 10, 2017 at 10:22 am

                  I’m also going to guess that your definition of a dangerous pass differs, or that, since you ride slowly (which is fine), cars need to accelerate more to pass you, and therefore sound like they’re “gunning” their engine.

                  To me, on a street like Clinton, a dangerous pass is one where the car comes within about 3ft of my handlbar ends (this is different than the legal definition, but not by much). This happens occasionally, but it’s rare. Most drivers try to give me even more than the required space, and I try to make it easy for them to do so by moving over where it is safe to do.

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                • Adam H. January 10, 2017 at 10:32 am

                  So you’re saying my definition of personal safety is wrong?

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                • Hello, Kitty January 10, 2017 at 10:35 am

                  Who said wrong? Different. That’s the best reason I can come up with why your reports are so out-of-sync with my own experiences.

                  If you are using different units, your measurements will differ.

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                • soren January 13, 2017 at 12:49 pm

                  there are practices which I’ve found generally work.”

                  and others may have found different practices that work well for them.

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            • soren January 9, 2017 at 5:19 pm

              “This is very different than barreling through on the right. ”

              I this this is where we will have to agree to disagree. I rarely see a single cyclist barreling through but often see a stream of people cycling barreling through. I hope you agree that the latter is far safer than the former.

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              • Kyle Banerjee January 10, 2017 at 6:38 am

                In general, yes. I suspect that is mostly because groups are more visible, this keeps a better flow, and motorists seem more inclined to yield to groups.

                But I still think it is dangerous and won’t do it myself. Problems are less common, but they tend to be worse when they do occur and the cyclists get into each other.

                I personally avoid riding near other cyclists unless I have specific reason to believe they know how to ride in groups (most riders don’t), but that is another issue.

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          • Pete January 9, 2017 at 6:16 pm

            “…i don’t think there is any evidence that one approach is better than the other.”

            Evidence is in the eye of the beholder. When I started assuming right-turning drivers won’t see me, I stopped getting right-hooked.

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            • soren January 9, 2017 at 7:03 pm

              “Evidence is in the eye of the beholder”

              that’s called an anecdote, my empirically-challenged friend.

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        • wsbob January 9, 2017 at 7:22 pm

          “…There are a number of practices that broadly could be described as riding as if the cars are not there — passing on the right of vehicles that are obviously about to turn would be an example. …” banerjee

          The question I would ask of people biking as you describe, is whether they actually do know a motor vehicle is to their left, and whether they know the operator of that vehicle really has made it obvious that the vehicle will be turning.

          This is very nearly the same scenario that is posed, whether people driving merge into the bike lane in preparation for a turn, or whether they wait until the intersection to cross over the bike lane into their turn. In both instances, the person driving, crosses into, or it could be said ‘transitions’, from a main lane into the bike lane.

          Use of signals is of critical importance by people driving and preparing to make turns, in order to convey to people biking that a turn is being prepared for.

          Many people riding in the bike lane, and approaching intersections, do not seem to understand well how to handle uncertainty posed by people driving in the main lane to their left.

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        • B. Carfree January 9, 2017 at 8:17 pm

          While I have found a locale or two that are worse to ride in than PDX, Eugene and Corvallis (like Pittsburgh, PA, ugh, truly horrid), they are far from the top of my list of pleasant places to ride. I’d hardly call any of them bubbles of safety. I don’t know what the numbers are for PDX, but in Eugene pedestrians and cyclists account for half the roadway deaths annually, three times the national and state rates, and have for over a decade, which is saying something when there are so few of us.

          I’m genuinely mystified by your attitude of how great it is to ride here. Maybe I just got spoiled by my decades in the Bay Area and Davis, but even Sacramento has better motorist behavior than PDX. If you want to ride in a place where the motorists are truly friendly, try rural Pennsylvania or, believe it or not, Lubbock, TX.

          My personal explanation for the “interesting” cycling habits that I see are that people ride like they drive. Our motorists generally don’t know the law and/or don’t follow it. They behave like all that matters is getting to their destination as quickly as possible. Not surprisingly, many of our human powered folks are equally oblivious, likely because they are the same folks.

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      • BradWagon January 9, 2017 at 3:11 pm

        By “worst” I can only assume he means behavior that no longer conveys an acceptance of being a second class road user.

        I wear mostly black, only use lights in poor visibility, don’t wear a helmet in the summer and regularly break laws that would be dangerous for a car but pose no real danger (except to me at times) on a bike… But I imagine his criticism would be more with riding mentality than personal style or even riding habits.

        When a left hand turn lane is backed up and I ride in the thru lane or filter (gasp!) to bypass a line of cars before turning I do hope people see how efficient cycling is and even could be if it was given priority OVER cars (even if they don’t agree with this). It’s high time we start showing how and why cycling is often a better form of transportation in urban area. I’m perfectly fine with cycling making auto transport less convenient and when it’s safe to do so I don’t shy away from situations when I will.

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        • BradWagon January 9, 2017 at 3:13 pm


          Portland Cyclists may have an entitled view of their place on the road, this isn’t a bad thing for urban transportation.

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          • Kyle Banerjee January 9, 2017 at 3:49 pm

            You are correct in your interpretation that my comments have more to do with riding mentality than specific habits.

            Being safe neither requires acceptance of a second class status nor does it require being slow. Rather, it is identifying and working with the specific opportunities and threats each situation presents.

            Likewise, being assertive has nothing to do with being entitled. Being assertive is about communicating expectations to others while working to achieve the best outcome. Being entitled is about assuming you’ll get the outcome you want regardless of circumstances or the needs of others. Entitled people get disappointed a lot.

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            • Pete January 9, 2017 at 6:04 pm

              Nicely written!

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            • soren January 9, 2017 at 7:24 pm

              i’ve never understood how i am supposed to “communicate” with inattentive and/or negligent drivers while cycling or walking.

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              • Middle of the Road guy January 10, 2017 at 8:47 am

                I feel the same way about people who cycle with ear buds in, talking on the phone, running stop signs or are otherwise distracted.

                It’s comforting to know that we share the same sentiments about inattentive road users.

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                • soren January 10, 2017 at 10:52 am

                  ear buds have no effect on my ability to pay attention.

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                • Dan A January 10, 2017 at 11:28 am

                  I don’t feel equally miffed when I see a distracted person on a bike or on foot versus someone operating a multi-ton machine capable of traveling 100+mph.

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              • Kyle Banerjee January 10, 2017 at 9:37 am

                Easy — the transaction goes something like this:

                YOU: [Attempt to use body positioning, eye contact, hand signals, etc. to inform others of your intent or what you’d like them to do]

                DRIVER: [no response whatsoever]

                That’s their way of telling you they’re extremely dangerous and that you need to be ready for anything as you proceed. Depending on circumstances, it may be appropriate to continue to reach them.

                Every response or lack thereof informs your next move. Wash, rinse, and repeat. It’s not rocket science.

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                • Kate January 10, 2017 at 10:00 am

                  Definitely agree with this. I’ve never thought about this as assertive, but more as riding “predictably”. Whenever I’ve brought new friends to daily commuting – this is what I’ve tried to convey. As a cyclists there is a lot you can do to communicate with a driver your intentions. If merging left, sitting up more upright and beginning to look over your left shoulder well in advance of the merge. I find cars will notice you doing this and typically start to back off to give you space. If they don’t — then you know what kind of driver you are dealing with and I slow down and wait till they pass. I often point when merging to the lane I’m merging in. To avoid being hooked I watch the driver to see whether they are slowing to let me go by, if they are looking in their review. Often when I see drivers start to edge out from a cross street into a lane where I’m riding, I inch further toward the travel lane (still in my bike lane) so that I am more visible to them and the travel lane they are gazing at. I’ll try to maintain eye contact and you can usually ascertain whether they are seeing you or looking straight through you. If the latter, I can usually judge by whether there is a gap in the traffic in the lane next to me. If so and I’m worried they might pull out, I’m hovering on my brakes and prepared for a hard brake or last minute turn if they pull in front.

                  I think of this less as aggressive, but more as predictable and defensive riding. I agree that it’s not always ideal because on occasion I’ve had to make those hard brakes and last second turns to avoid hooks. But in general in all the miles I’ve ridden, I’ve never had an angry confrontation with a driver and I’ve never been hit, clipped or doored (knock on all the wood).

                  And apologies for this long missive, maybe it’s helpful to someone. Or not. 😉

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                • soren January 10, 2017 at 10:58 am

                  with all due respect, none of what you describe impacts the problem of the inattentive and/or negligent driver. one of my sharpest criticisms of LAB/VC bike education is the way it sells the belief system that particular magical behaviors* will somehow cause people sealed in a metal box to pay @#$%ing attention.

                  *often not based on evidence.

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                • Kyle Banerjee January 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm

                  Nothing causes people to pay attention.

                  But you can make yourself easier to notice, and you can ride in ways that make it easier for you to tell if they are paying attention.

                  The first step in dealing with negligent/inattentive drivers is identifying which ones they are. Knowing who is attentive and working with you is also incredibly useful for understanding your range of motion in the moment.

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              • Adam H. January 10, 2017 at 9:57 am

                A middle finger works quite well. 😉

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                • Kyle Banerjee January 10, 2017 at 10:27 am

                  This raises an interesting issue. A lot of people here are bird flippers. How many bird flippers also thank motorists? And if you do, what’s the ratio of birds to thanks?

                  Motorists do a lot of friendly communication with each other. They also do a lot of friendly communication with cyclists who engage with — I get friendly gestures on virtually every single ride. These most commonly come from people who are yielding to my needs, and it happened multiple times on my way in this morning.

                  If you want to be treated like traffic, act like it. Good drivers play well, and my consistent experience is that most drivers are nice.

                  In the rare situations where I encounter hostility, I pull out the friendly 5 fingered wave. It disarms a surprising percentage of people and it plays extremely well with witnesses who then are extra considerate with you.

                  People who do things to you want to provoke you. If you give them exactly what they want, you’re training them to continue what they’re doing. If you mess with their plan and make it boring, they go away.

                  If you must believe in justice, just remember these people regularly encounter others just like themselves, and the punishment they dole out on each other is far worse than anything you can deliver.

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                • Hello, Kitty January 10, 2017 at 10:30 am

                  My thank-to-bird ratio is about 20-1. As in other areas of my life, saying thank you costs so little and the potential gains are large.

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                • Dan A January 10, 2017 at 11:31 am

                  I flash a peace sign for ‘thank you’, and a bird for ‘please don’t do that again’, and I’d say my ratio is pretty similar. When people make a close pass by my elbow at 60mph, I hope that they are looking back so that I can make them aware of my displeasure with their driving style.

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                • El Biciclero January 12, 2017 at 9:15 am

                  Regarding thanking motorists vs. bird-flipping:

                  I’m generally not a bird-flipper, but I also don’t normally thank motorists for following their legal obligations. After all, I don’t see motorists “thanking” me for such things as riding in a bike lane, as I’m legally obligated to do when one exists, or staying stopped at a red light. From motorists, I get a lot more aggressive behavior and yelling than I do “thanks”.

                  I also don’t like to “thank” motorists for botching up the flow of traffic by attempting to yield to me when it is not required or necessary. This often takes the form of oncoming drivers stopping to allow me to make a left turn across their lane (usually when there is a giant gap 2 cars behind them) or stopping to let me cross as a pedestrian when I’m obviously not anywhere near the sidewalk, and drivers in the opposite-direction lane are not stopping.

                  In fact, now that I think about it, the gesture I use most frequently toward motorists (other than turn signals) is the “move-along” wave.

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                • Dan A January 12, 2017 at 11:12 am

                  When it’s not my turn to go, I put my head down and give a ‘move on’ wave. If I’m looking at the driver, it turns into a wave-off.

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                • Adam H. January 12, 2017 at 11:16 am

                  When I driver stops for me, I take full advantage. I don’t even care if they didn’t have a stop sign and I did.

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                • BradWagon January 13, 2017 at 12:01 pm

                  “When I driver stops for me, I take full advantage. I don’t even care if they didn’t have a stop sign and I did.”

                  I knew there had to be someone out there reinforcing dangerous yielding habits I always see from drivers…

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                • Adam H. January 13, 2017 at 12:03 pm

                  Drivers stopping their car is not unsafe. What is unsafe is trying to cross a busy street with no traffic control devices. Drivers should always yield to people cycling and walking, so in my eyes, I’m re-enforcing good habits.

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                • Hello, Kitty January 13, 2017 at 12:42 pm

                  Driver A stops; you start to cross; Driver B thinks Driver A is making a turn, goes around, and kapow! Unsafe!

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              • Pete January 10, 2017 at 1:42 pm

                (Anecdotally), I recently slapped (and almost had to jump on) on the hood of a Mercedes that nearly ran me down instead of stopping before the crosswalk while turning right on red (and looking left). Fortunately he understood Morse Code.

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            • wsbob January 9, 2017 at 7:35 pm

              “…Being safe neither requires acceptance of a second class status nor does it require being slow. …” banerjee

              People biking, aren’t second class road users, and virtually none of the road users I encounter out here in Beaverton, on Beav-hilldale Hwy, Hall Blvd, Millikan Way, or any other road, major or minor in Beaverton, drives in a way that people biking, are anything but road users essentially equal to themselves. Is Portland so different?

              It’s entirely possible for people to ride in accordance with the rules of the road laid out in the law, and with consideration for other road users, and get where they’re going, safely. No need to disregard other people’s efforts to see vulnerable road users by wearing black clothes and skimp on visibility gear. Tossing out the chip on their shoulder some people riding seem to have, will lighten their load too…good chance they’ll be happier and faster.

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            • BradWagon January 10, 2017 at 9:20 am

              Why would someone be assertive if they didn’t feel entitled to a certain standard of equality in terms of road use?

              Entitlement: (noun) having a right to something.

              Even if we use the more commonly thought definition of “deserving special treatment”… do you not believe that cyclists inherently deserve treatment that is unique given their vulnerability and physical differences compared to larger vehicles?

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              • Kyle Banerjee January 10, 2017 at 9:53 am

                It needs to be different. But just because you have a right doesn’t mean you should be asserting it all the time.

                I often take the lane even when a bike lane is provided. When no lane is provided, I ride left. However, I always try to help people get where they’re going never block cars without a compelling reason.

                If I’m on a shoulderless two lane road with lots of oncoming traffic, the difference between assertive and entitled becomes important. You can be very assertive about preventing genuinely unsafe passes, try to help them through, and motorists will rarely punish for it. Or you can take the full lane as you are entitled and let them worry how they’ll get by and you’ll get nonstop abuse. Curiously, the logic of ORS 811.425 is never applied to cyclists.

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                • wsbob January 10, 2017 at 11:07 am

                  “…Curiously, the logic of ORS 811.425 is never applied to cyclists.” banerjee

                  Maybe you should explain your thinking in more specific detail. Here’s a link to the text of 811.425, ‘Failure of slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle’: https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.425

                  People biking, are obliged to yield to faster traffic, by law, and I’ll say, by common courtesy in use of the road, as well…within reason. People biking that have faster traffic following behind, aren’t required to pull over if the situation at hand is hazardous for them to do so. They’re obliged to pull over at the nearest, reasonable opportunity…so that could be a wider area of the road, such as a shoulder, or maybe a driveway, or onto bike lanes on streets that have them.

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                • Kyle Banerjee January 10, 2017 at 2:08 pm

                  I agree with everything you say and the general sentiment that people need to be courteous and attempt to be reasonable about things.

                  In practice, too many cycling advocates seem to interpret their right to take the lane to mean they can (and should) occupy the lane for however long they like. This does not help anyone and decreases safety.

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                • El Biciclero January 11, 2017 at 6:33 pm

                  “If I’m on a shoulderless two lane road with lots of oncoming traffic, the difference between assertive and entitled becomes important. You can be very assertive about preventing genuinely unsafe passes, try to help them through, and motorists will rarely punish for it. Or you can take the full lane as you are entitled and let them worry how they’ll get by and you’ll get nonstop abuse. Curiously, the logic of ORS 811.425 is never applied to cyclists.”

                  I’ve always considered the operative phrase in 811.425 to be “…sufficient for safe turnout…”. If you are on a shoulderless, two-lane road with lots of oncoming traffic, how do you “help [motorists] through”? My criteria for taking a lane include factors such as the ability of a motorist to pass safely within the lane, amount of time I anticipate taking the lane, my speed (at, above, or below the speed limit), my upcoming movements, e.g., left turn, etc. but if it is not safe to pass within the lane, it is unsafe to pass within the lane. Under narrow-lane conditions when there is no place “sufficient for safe turnout”, I’m not going to “help” anyone “through”. Can you clarify what you mean?

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                • BradWagon January 13, 2017 at 11:56 am

                  More often then not my attempts to give drivers room to pass are met with still to close of passes or dangerous situations when I need to merge back into the lane. Thus I end up taking the right half of the lane (when there is no bike lane) pretty much all the time. Trying to help other cars save 20-30 seconds is not worth my eventually getting hit some day. (Read: “Compelling Reason”)

                  May want to brush up on that ORS you reference. I have never found myself in a situation where I have a safe place to pull off while the vehicle behind does not have a clear lane to overtake (if they even wait that long).

                  This ORS states that the slower moving vehicle would need to be in violation of Basic Speed Rule (ORS 811.100). Interestingly enough 811.100 and 811.105 both contain no language that details when driving below a specific speed would be in violation of the basic speed rule, only mentions “excess” and “greater”. Based on this I don’t see how a slow moving vehicle would ever be in violation of the basic speed rule… which would negate 811.425 all together. Also, a driver passing a cyclist over a solid yellow line only constitutes as a dangerous pass when injury or death is a result of the pass (811.065 Section 2), thus you cannot justify 811.425 violation purely on the existence of a solid yellow lane in the case of passing a cyclists. Considering a cyclist as a hazard to the vehicle under (811.420 Section 3, B) would also allow for passing in no passing zone.

                  I’m sure there is something somewhere about violating basic speed law by driving too slow but I can’t fin it.

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                • Adam H. January 13, 2017 at 12:01 pm

                  Yep. It’s the constant weaving in and out of motor traffic that presents a hazard, not to mention having to enter the door zone to do so. I find it’s much safer to simply ride down the middle of the lane (“blocking” traffic) and let the drivers decide when it’s safe for them to pass me. Though many seem to be really bad at determining that and almost get into head-on collisions, but at that point, it’s no longer my problem.

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                • Hello, Kitty January 13, 2017 at 12:41 pm

                  The lack of head-on collisions suggests it may be less of a problem than you think.

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              • wsbob January 14, 2017 at 1:15 pm

                “…I have never found myself in a situation where I have a safe place to pull off while the vehicle behind does not have a clear lane to overtake (if they even wait that long). …” bradwagon at January 13, 2017 at 11:56 am

                On Skyline Rd between Hwy 26th and West Burnside, just north of the Sylvan overpass, there’s a typical road situation contrary to those you describe yourself as never having been in.

                Many people biking, use this section of Skyline Rd. NE bound from Sylvan, it’s a vigorous, slow climb. There’s very little bike lane here. Shoulders of the road aren’t good.

                Along the curviest, steepest section of the road, about a mile in length I’d guess, up to the Fairview Blvd intersection, there are however, several residential driveways, and I think, a gravel parking strip or two onto which slow climbers can pull onto if there happens to have been a line of motor vehicles that’s been held up behind them for some time.

                It’s personal discretion to decide how long to hold faster traffic behind in such a situation. People driving that have been patiently following at slower speed than the road safely allows, behind someone riding for a minute or so, and see them pass a wide spot or driveway to the side of the road, isn’t a good thing. If they’ve been following awhile, pull over, let them pass, take a breather.

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                • BradWagon January 16, 2017 at 10:41 am

                  I’ve ridden this section a few times (although prefer to avoid the uphill sections on close-in skyline). For me it’s always a coin toss because pulling into that driveway means I have to pull out of it and if the driveway is on part of a curve cars are going to be coming upon me pretty quickly. If I stay in the lane there will more likely already be a car behind me that will help slow other approaching cars.

                  Regarding this specific area I do not consider pulling off the edge of broken pavement into gravel as a safe place for me to pull off. Of the other paved potentials:

                  – 4-6 are driveways on a curve (to short in width and near a curve for me to feel safe)

                  – 2 are wide sections of shoulder on a curve. I would probably only ride this shoulder if there has been more than one car behind me for a long period of time (which has never happened to me in this area as they all pass on the relatively straight sections in this area). I also don’t consider riding on a wide shoulder of the road to be the same as pulling off and waiting for others to pass nor do I like riding on short sections of shoulder like this. I would rather stay predictably in the lane.

                  – 2 other roads exit skyline which could be pulled off into but I prefer not to use other roads that people may be turning in or out of as a place to stop.

                  I’ve rarely had a car go above and beyond the law for my convenience, I think they can spare an extra minute if needed on roads like this. Also, I am typically riding roads like these in a road ride / training mentality so I am moving through the area with purpose and prefer not to be starting and stopping my effort just so some cars can get by a little quicker. The times I’ve ridden this half mile section have been between 3 and 4 minutes. If a car is stuck behind me for even half of this I don’t feel 1-2 minutes is a unreasonable amount of time to wait for a cyclist in a dangerous area.

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                • wsbob January 16, 2017 at 6:41 pm

                  bradwagon…it’s at your discretion to decide how you handle those types of road situations. I’m just describing what I have done.

                  I prefer not to keep traffic waiting behind, any longer than necessary. As far as I know, their time is just as valuable to them as mine is to me. It’s not just the time element, but their aggravation level as well.

                  Mostly, I haven’t had to actually pull over on that section of Skyline, but I’ve often waved them on if I could see the road ahead for some distance. Just to let people know I realize they’re there behind, if nothing else. Other people riding slower, might have to actually pull over, which I feel is very important for them to be thinking about.

                  Depending upon the person riding, and the persons behind, it can be better to pull over and keep the stress level down. The persons riding should signal to pull off, slow down in advance of a good spot, wave the people in back past if possible, and then carefully move over and let the traffic pass.

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                • BradWagon January 17, 2017 at 11:10 am

                  Agree. Thankfully have yet to encounter anyone dangerously aggressive or large amounts of traffic waiting for me in these areas.

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        • soren January 9, 2017 at 3:40 pm

          “filter (gasp!) to bypass a line of cars”

          if safety-oblivious portlanders dared to bike like this in new york city, chicago, or san francisco their ticket would be immediately punched. no one ever filters past potentially-turning vehicles in those cities.


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          • Hello, Kitty January 9, 2017 at 4:23 pm

            An they apparently don’t stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk.

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            • soren January 9, 2017 at 4:50 pm

              yeah … this is a genuine problem here as well.

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          • BradWagon January 10, 2017 at 9:29 am

            Yeah I just don’t get the criticism of Portland cycling when you see videos like this from other major cities. London especially always amazes me.

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            • Kyle Banerjee January 10, 2017 at 10:30 am

              Portland is not the only place like this — you’ll see stuff like that in SF, Seattle, and a few other places.

              It’s still edge case stuff confined to a few areas you could count on your fingers.

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              • soren January 10, 2017 at 11:24 am

                “a few other places”

                in other words, large cities with a significant fraction of our total population.

                i’m not at all convinced that LAB/VC style cycling is safer than the “flow with/through traffic” style that many urban utilitarian riders use. have you ever read robert hurst’s “The Art of Cycling: Staying Safe on Urban Streets”? i think it might, at least, explain the rationale behind some of the urban cycling behaviors you view as dangerous.

                google excerpt:


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                • Pete January 10, 2017 at 1:57 pm

                  I hope you didn’t classify the riding in that Manhattan video you posted as “LAB style / VC.” Not even close.

                  Filtering is frequently done here in California, but not to the extreme in that video. It’s widely accepted that motorcycles filter on the inside of the left-most lane or outside of the right-most lane when proceeding straight (but not on turns), whereas cyclists filter just left of right-turning cars or just right of left-turning cars. I got a talking-to by a police officer in Tigard for doing that latter one once (he actually told me to take a left, I should have crossed using the sidewalk and then proceeded straight in the bike lane on that light cycle, otherwise I’d risk getting hit by “straddling the line”).

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                • soren January 10, 2017 at 3:26 pm

                  i only picked that video from a random search to illustrate filtering on the right in nyc. and i can mimic the most perfectionist LCI flawlessly. 🙂

                  the filtering was kind of tame from my perspective. my useless human trick is being able to ride like a twerp, safely.

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          • Andy K January 17, 2017 at 4:49 pm

            First person cycling videos from NYC are always fascinating to me. It’s like a different world. I can see why you’d ride like this….I read that the average motor vehicle speed in Manhattan is 8mph.

            (Its only a matter of time before I get a ticket for riding like this in portland.)

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    • wsbob January 9, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      “…Portland has the best cycling infrastructure and laws of any place I’ve lived. But from a safety point of view, riding practices here are also the worst I’ve witnessed. …” banerjee

      I’m not riding or driving in Portland much these days, so I wouldn’t say about safe cycling practices of people riding there. About the safety practices of people riding in Beaverton, I would say there’s plenty room for improvement in signaling for lane changes and turns, and for just simply signaling for turns.

      It’s very common to see people out here biking, serious commuters and casual riders, very barely display a hand signal before turning or transitioning to another lane. Not for a long enough duration, either seconds of distance, and not conspicuously enough, as in, arm barely lifted from the person’s side.

      Good signaling by all road users, is one of the best, expedient ways to meet other road users need to have a good sense of knowing when and where people will be turning off the road or changing lanes. Good signaling can go a long way towards negating the need for expensive, complicated and often impractical infrastructure such as physically or distance separated bike lanes.

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      • GlowBoy January 10, 2017 at 10:52 am

        ““…Portland has the best cycling infrastructure and laws of any place I’ve lived. But from a safety point of view, riding practices here are also the worst I’ve witnessed. …” ”

        Well, maybe Central Portland has great infrastructure. Beyond the core, not so great. Both East Portland and the West Hills have crap infrastructure for bikes.

        I have far better bike infrastructure around my current home in south Minneapolis, 6 miles from downtown, than I would 6 miles in any direction from Portland’s downtown. And better laws too (Vehicular Homicide statute, no mandatory sidepath law, clearer sidewalk-riding statute for starters).

        As for cyclist behavior, I’ve stopped caring about (or even much noticing) what other cyclists do. If I do notice anything, it’s that cyclist behavior gets “worse” (as most drivers would see it) in inverse proportion to how well the infrastructure is serving them. The worse the infrastructure, the more cyclists are inconvenienced by car-dominated roadways and signalization, the more they will break the law just to get where they’re going.

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  • Ray Atkinson January 9, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    As this Dutch (written in English) Fact Sheet explains, Vision Zero and Sustainable Safety (Peter Furth calls it Systematic Safety) are not the same so I wouldn’t write that Peter is narrating the “principles of Vision Zero”. Instead, I would write that Peter Furth is narrating the “principles of Sustainable Safety (aka Systematic Safety) for an American audience”. https://www.swov.nl/sites/default/files/publicaties/gearchiveerde-factsheet/uk/fs_sustainable_safety_principles_archived.pdf

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  • John Lascurettes January 9, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Danger in safety: This article about how safety precautions in football equipment actually make the sport more dangerous — a phenomenon known as the “Peltzman effect” — could be applied to automobiles.

    I’ve been saying this for years. Driving cars is an inherently dangerous activity. Yet auto makers do everything they can to make them safer for the occupants (proper), camouflage that danger (bad), and do comparitively little for the safety of people outside the vehicle (very bad). That SUVs have become nearly as comfortable as a living room entertainment center on 70mph wheels does not help people driving heed the responsibility they hold when behind the wheel.

    I say replace the driver’s airbag with a spike on the steering wheel and you’ll see a huge change in behavior of people behind the wheel.

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    • Dan A January 9, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      Make dark tinted front windows illegal while we’re at it. How those are justified I have no idea.

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      • Kyle Banerjee January 9, 2017 at 3:57 pm

        They are illegal in many states. I don’t know if cops in other states hassle people who drive in from OR.

        What I wouldn’t mind is seeing it illegal to modify the suspension in ways that adversely affected handling or raised them so they don’t meet with bumpers on other vehicles. It’s always amazed me that lawyers haven’t gone after the shops that lift trucks when they roll over another vehicle and kill someone.

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        • Dan A January 9, 2017 at 4:00 pm

          And radar detectors, which are sold as safety devices. Gimme a break. A real safety device would be a system that knew the speed limit for a given road and alerted the driver when they are exceeding it.

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          • Kyle Banerjee January 9, 2017 at 4:47 pm

            Happily, some of the traffic apps do exactly that.

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          • Pete January 9, 2017 at 5:59 pm

            In Canada they used to use radar detector detectors. I won a bet in college with a fellow engineering student who didn’t believe a passive device could be sensed, but they detected the leakage of the cheap sunburst oscillator crystals used as IF reference.

            I’ve also had rental cars that warned me when I exceeded the speed limit.

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            • John Lascurettes January 10, 2017 at 8:04 am

              My dad worked for Raytheon for 35 years. Yeah, it’s amazing the counter-counter-counter-conter-devices that are created.

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          • Stephen Keller January 9, 2017 at 10:00 pm

            Forget alerts. Just slow down the offending vehicle.

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      • GlowBoy January 10, 2017 at 10:57 am

        Uh, dark tinted windows (<35% VLT) are illegal in Oregon.

        The law is just unenforced.

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        • SE Rider January 10, 2017 at 12:25 pm

          That’s not true, it’s just not enforced that often (like most laws in Portland currently). My wife got a ticket last year for our windows being too tinted (used car that we bought that way). We had to go to a window place and have them test it. It was actually legal and we were able to get that charge thrown out. Window tinting has to be a secondary offense and can’t be the primary reason you are pulled over.

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        • Dan A January 10, 2017 at 12:44 pm

          The level of tinting allowed is way too much, IMO. If I can’t see the features on your face through the side windows, it’s too dark.

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    • B. Carfree January 9, 2017 at 8:27 pm

      For years I have half-jokingly advocated for the steering wheel spike. This is the second time this week I have read of yet another dark-hearted soul who also thinks this is a good idea. This may become a trend.

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  • David Hampsten January 9, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    City planning and public health vs Protected Bike Lanes: As an unemployed economic refugee who lived in no-longer-affordable Portland for 18 years and now living in cheap sprawling Greensboro NC, I can’t help but notice that well-planned areas and protected bike lane infrastructure are highly correlated with increasingly un-affordable communities – rich ghettos, in other words. If you want affordability, you’ll end up in a suburban hell of poor sidewalk coverage, few bike lanes, lots of mold, but cheap rents and lots of excuses to get fat – where the other 80% live.

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  • B. Carfree January 9, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    I love the first couple of factoids in the Metro article advocating planning arithmetic, though I wish he had given some citations. I’m not surprised that each dollar a motorist spends is matched by $9.20 from society at large.

    The fact that each kilometer of cycling benefits society by $0.18 is likely mostly due to reduced health care expenditures (both for the people on bikes (exercise) and the people around them (less polluted air)). Just seat of the pants, but the societal financial benefit of all the miles I have ridden appears to be about two to four times my personal costs. Maybe we should be providing free bikes and repairs to anyone who wants to ride.

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  • B. Carfree January 9, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    Michael’s piece on Vancouver, BC shows a graph of the commuting modal shares in 2013-5 of cars, bikes, public transit and walking. It is interesting that while cycling increased from 7-10%, driving was almost unchanged and walking also increased. One might even say that the increase in cycling came at the expense of public transportation, since that was the only mode that saw a significant decrease. Walking up 4%, cycling up 3%, transit down 6%.

    When Davis, CA increased its bus system in the 1990’s there was a simultaneous decrease in cycling and increase in bus ridership. Of course there were a lot of other things going on (loss of traffic law enforcement, more intercity commuters, denser commercial spaces creating denser traffic), so I always assumed simple correlation.

    I’m beginning to think that transit and cycling are in a very direct competition for the fraction of the population that is willing to live without dependence on cars. If so, this makes the change of the BTA from a bicycle advocacy group to an “all of the above” group really bad news for cycling.

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    • 9watts January 9, 2017 at 11:36 pm

      A very interesting observation.

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    • Pete January 11, 2017 at 5:56 pm

      My company has a big office in downtown Van with lots of commuters (traffic and parking are horrible there). Everyone I know who bikes there uses the train to get most of the way. Not sure if “bike commuter” is defined as someone who uses solely a bike for their commute, or as a part of their commute?

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  • Dick Button January 10, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Dan A
    I don’t feel equally miffed when I see a distracted person on a bike or on foot versus someone operating a multi-ton machine capable of traveling 100+mph.
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    That is the important distinction Dan. With the exception of the elderly and the very young, bikes are not a danger to their environment in the same way, so the standard of behavior of their operators must be considered in different lights.

    I slow right the hell down when I see some little goober has slipped out of his mothers hand hold. I speed up when it’s time to cross an empty intersection that is showing me a red light.

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