Editorial Section Archives

Sheriff’s office blames deceased victim in early morning collision near Stayton

Posted on October 13th, 2016 at 10:15 am.

The scene on Shaff Road SE near Stayton this morning.(Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

The scene on Shaff Road SE near Stayton this morning.
(Photo: Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

A person was killed this morning while bicycling on a rural road just east of Stayton, a small town about sixty miles south of Portland.

We don’t always cover fatal bicycle collisions so far away from the Portland metro area; but the statement about this one just released by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office deserves a closer look. The language used in the statement shows how far Oregon law enforcement agencies have to go to create a culture around traffic deaths that is in line with Vision Zero principles.

According to the Marion County Sheriff’s office, the collision occurred when someone driving a motor vehicle hit a bicycle rider from behind. Read their official statement (released just two and-a-half hours after the collision) and think about how the language paints the relative culpability of each party:


Hey Portland, it’s not just “bicyclists” who want safer streets

Posted on October 5th, 2016 at 11:44 am.

The kids who showed up for a safe streets vigil in the Arbor Lodge neighborhood last week are not “bicyclists”.
(Photo: Katy Asher)

Everybody wants safer streets — but you wouldn’t know that by reading local headlines or watching local news. That’s because the media often frames street safety issues as being something that only “the bicyclists” want.

That framing leads to more clicks and comments, but it’s not true. And it creates a road block to Portland’s progress.


Traffic civility in Portland’s new era of congestion

Posted on August 24th, 2016 at 10:18 am.

Portland bike traffic-1.jpg
It’s not just Portland’s freeways that are crowded these days.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Please welcome back Sarah Gilbert. She’s written for us in the past about a cargo biking adventure and the psychology of anger.

Crystal was egged one day coming back from a bike tour, her guests trailing behind her on their bicycles. We don’t know why; just, bam, splat. The assailants only got her.

We’re both tour guides for the same company and I heard the story when I got back to the shop that afternoon. It’s busy work, with the tourist industry on the same upswing as everywhere-to-Portland immigration.


Opinion: If we’re serious about cycling, let’s get serious about cycling infrastructure

Posted on February 24th, 2016 at 1:44 pm.

The traffic diverter on the Rodney Neighborhood Greenway was installed 17 months ago. Now it’s an eyesore and a dumping ground. What does this say about the City of Portland’s priorities?
(Photo sent in by a reader)

Every time we turn around we hear another city staffer or elected official tell us how serious they are about cycling. They say it’s key to our health outcomes, it’s the only way we’ll reach our climate change goals, it buoys our national reputation, and so on and so forth.

But if we’re really serious about cycling, why don’t we take our cycling infrastructure seriously?

There are too many examples in Portland where the design and implementation of our cycling infrastructure has not been completed with the care and seriousness it deserves.

Here are a few of those examples:


Opinion: Welcome to blame the victim season

Posted on November 20th, 2015 at 11:26 am.

“The bicyclist was wearing dark clothing and had no rear lighting on the bicycle.”
— Oregon State Police statement

For the past week I’ve been standing by, reading headline after headline about “distracted pedestrians.” And then I get this in my inbox (emphases mine):

The Oregon State Police is continuing it’s investigation into Thursday evening’s fatal crash involving a bicyclist.

At approximately 9:05PM a Lane County Deputy in a patrol vehicle was traveling northbound on SR99W near MP118 (just south of Beltline Highway in Eugene) when he struck a female bicyclist in the northbound slow lane. The female was pronounced deceased on scene.

The highway was blocked for approximately 1 hour. The highway was then partially open, reduced to one lane in each direction. The scene was cleared at 1:00AM.

Preliminary information indicates the bicyclist was traveling northbound in the travel lane at the time of the incident. The bicyclist was wearing dark clothing and had no rear lighting on the bicycle. It was full darkness with very little ambient lighting when the crash occurred.


Talk of a disastrous earthquake got you down? Just keep on biking

Posted on July 22nd, 2015 at 3:57 pm.

People who bike together, stick together.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Bikes won’t save you after the Big One, but the community built up around them just might.

There’s been a lot of unease in Portland since the publication of a fascinating yet gut-wrenching article in The New Yorker that laid out the impending Cascadia earthquake in excruciating detail.

After I read the piece, I was sort of numb for a while. Then my mind wondered (as if often does) and I started to ask the default question I ask myself around any seemingly intractable issue or policy, “How can bikes fix this?”


Opinion: Just 5 hours of Sunday Parkways is not enough

Posted on June 22nd, 2015 at 12:09 pm.

Sunday Parkways North Portland

Willamette Blvd as it should be.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Another Sunday Parkways is in the books, and it was simply sublime. The weather, the people, the parks — it was Portland summer and community spirit at its finest.

As I rode the nine-mile loop with my family (going slower than usual to ride alongside my wife Juli who decided to jog the loop), I kept wondering why it only happens in my neighborhood for five hours a year.

Just five precious hours out of 8,766 hours every year.



Enough is enough: Another death must spur real action

Posted on June 15th, 2015 at 11:17 am.

Aftermath of man who lost control and drove his car up onto the sidewalk.
(Photo: Portland Police Bureau)

Enough is enough.

A man lost control of his Subaru Forester SUV while driving eastbound on the Burnside Bridge Sunday afternoon. He swerved across the lanes and hit two people who were walking on the sidewalk.


What next? My suggestions for actions City Hall should take on bike safety

Posted on June 9th, 2015 at 2:57 pm.

Your move guys.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s been one week since an “urgent” street safety meeting was called by Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick. City PR staff insisted the meeting was “multimodal” but it happened only because a scary spate of collisions involving people on bicycles was dominating the news cycle and social media. That meeting didn’t bear much fruit and was referred to later by the Mayor’s office as nothing more than a “listening session.”

Not surprisingly, the urgency around bike safety that existed two weeks ago among the local media and the greater Portland community is gone. The only people still focused on this issue (at least publicly) are the dedicated activists that played such a large role in putting the issue on the Mayor’s radar in the first place.


My opinion: Protests, politics, and progress?

Posted on June 2nd, 2015 at 2:22 pm.

May was a tumultuous month for Portlanders who care about safe streets. There have been tragic losses, protests, calls for reform and the early signs of progress. For me (and I’m sure others) it was a bit of a déjà vu.

My mind keeps going back to that sad October of 2007 when we suffered the loss of two people — and very nearly a third — in less than three weeks. The sequence of events was very similar. The collisions were followed by despair and anger and then action. We flooded the streets and grassroots activists sprung up to push the dialogue. Then, only after public pressure built a strong political foundation, electeds and other power-brokers stepped-up and engaged.

For the current Portland city council, that time for engagement is long overdue. Ever since running his mayoral campaign as the anti-Sam Adams, Charlie Hales has seemed to actively avoid the “b” word (bikes) out of fear that its mere mention would rile stakeholder groups and the media. And Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick has followed suit.