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  #21  
Old 06-19-2010, 09:44 PM
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Spiffy Spiffy is offline
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Originally Posted by bramasole_iowa View Post
My mountain bike sat out in the weather on my balcony all year that I was gone (even after asking the roommate a few times to get a cheap tarp to cover it).
sounds like you just need a new chain, new cables, and a lot of lube and cleaning...

you can do the expensive labor intensive part of that while you're job-hunting...

who's got some do-it-yourself links handy?
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  #22  
Old 08-21-2010, 11:44 PM
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tugboat tugboat is offline
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Hello friends, this is important!

I just moved here from very unbikefriendly Virginia and joined this forum expressely because (and I'm almost embarassed to admit) I'm afraid to get out on the streets on my bike. I don't know the area well yet, I'm not sure where I should and should be riding, and what the protocol is for being a respected rider, etc. I'm just plain scared and I don't know anyone yet so even if I do go out I'll be riding alone.

Riding at night, do I need lights on both front and back? I have a back light so far but I'm not sure what the law states and if Portland is well lit enough at night that I wont need a front light.

Please give me some encouragement!

Last edited by K'Tesh; 08-22-2010 at 07:01 AM. Reason: fixed broken smilie
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  #23  
Old 08-22-2010, 07:00 AM
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K'Tesh K'Tesh is offline
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Originally Posted by tugboat View Post
Hello friends, this is important!

I just moved here from very unbikefriendly Virginia and joined this forum expressely because (and I'm almost embarassed to admit) I'm afraid to get out on the streets on my bike. I don't know the area well yet, I'm not sure where I should and should be riding, and what the protocol is for being a respected rider, etc. I'm just plain scared and I don't know anyone yet so even if I do go out I'll be riding alone.

Riding at night, do I need lights on both front and back? I have a back light so far but I'm not sure what the law states and if Portland is well lit enough at night that I wont need a front light.

Please give me some encouragement!
One thing that I could strongly recommend is that you find a way to get to the law office of Swanson Thomas and Coon. Attorney Ray Thomas has written a book titled "Pedal Power" which explains the bike related laws of Oregon for the layperson (or just check out the pdf here). It won't help you navigate, but it will help you understand what you can expect, and what is expected of you. The book usually costs $10 at bike shops but there I've received free copies. Likewise, if you can, go to the BTA's office and sign up for the "Bikes and the Law" clinics that they run every month or so (typically the 2nd Wed of the month 'round 6pm) where you can receive the same book, and hear the message straight from the horse's mouth.

The BTA also has maps, and a lot of friendly, helpful people that can get you started in PDX .

To answer your question. Lights front (white) , required by law. Lights back (red), only if you value your life, and your financial security.



Quote:
Oregon Bicycle Lighting Requirements

by Ray Thomas
Ray Thomas is a Portland bike lawyer.

It has been exciting over the last several years to see so many recreational riders transforming themselves into bicycle commuters. This transformation has been the result of hard work by planners and bicycle advocacy organizations like the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) to make the roads a more friendly place for bicycling commuters. Oregon's mild winters allow recreational riders to make the transition with little difficulty; for most commutes a little rain gear goes a long way toward transforming short aggravating car trips into healthful bicycle rides. There is a deep sense of satisfaction that accompanies a ride at dawn across a Willamette River bridge packed bumper to bumper with cars while on a bicycle in an uncrowded bicycle lane. However, adequate bicycle lighting is a necessary accessory for those dawn and dusk commuting rides.

Most recreational riders do not choose to ride at night. Putting together a lighting package is frequently left out of the transition to bicycle commuting because many city streets are well lit and most bicycles have reflector packages that include front and rear reflectors. While some reflector packages effectively catch and reflect light from approaching headlights, no reflector is activated unless it has light hitting directly upon its surface. Further, even a new bicycle with a reflector package is not in legal trim to ride at night. Oregon law requires that bicycles have a white light in front, and a red reflector or light to the rear during "limited visibility conditions."

Violations of Oregon's bicycle lighting law are probably the most frequently observed traffic offense committed by bicycle riders. During the winter months, it is impossible for most bicycle commuters to avoid riding during darkness at the beginning and end of their commute. While bicyclists may feel that they are visible with their yellow rain gear and reflectorized bicycles, a bicyclist involved in a collision with a car usually discovers (the hard way) the importance of Oregon's lighting law. When the driver tells the investigating police officer about the invisibility of the cyclist, the cyclist receives a traffic citation for what would otherwise be considered an accident that was primarily the fault of the motorist.

Psychology recognizes a common human behavior known as "case building" engaged in by people when they have committed a questionable act. While "case building," starts for most people at the moment of impact and blossoms forth upon first contact between co-participants in an accident, many straightforward accidents that are clearly the motorist's fault become contested liability fights because the bicyclist failed to have a head light. Since many accidents occur when a motor vehicle pulls out in front of a bicyclist, it is often the finding of a post-accident reconstruction that the ambient light was insufficient to activate the front reflector on the bicycle. Since the motorist was not facing directly toward the bicyclist, the car headlights did nothing to make the front reflector visible and the motorist has some justification in claiming that the unlighted bicycle rider was at fault for failing to have a proper light. It is sometimes possible to show that ambient light, the headlights of other cars, and the bicyclist's bright clothing combined to make the bicycle rider clearly visible if the motorist had been paying attention; however, a bicyclist involved in an accident at night without a headlight always has a big problem with liability.

The law is very clear in its requirements:

At the times described in the following, a bicycle or its rider must be equipped with lighting equipment that meets the described requirements:

A. The lighting equipment must be used during limited visibility conditions.
B. The lighting equipment must show a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle.
C. The lighting equipment must have a red reflector or lighting device or material of such size or characteristics and so mounted as to be visible from all distances up to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle.

Violation of this provision is a Class D traffic infraction carrying a $75.00 fine.

Note that helmet mounted lights (which many people prefer because they are directional) are fully compliant with the law. Further, a light is only necessary on the front. A red reflector is sufficient for the back of the bike. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) mandates that all bicycles sold in the United States contain a reflector set. However, it is ironic that the higher end bicycles have fewer or no reflectors, and one of the first things that many riders do is remove the reflectors when they purchase a new bike. Spoke and pedal reflectors are particularly prone to making clicking noises when the bicycle is underway, and most reflectors are incompatible with bicycle racks.

Some riders report that police officers have told them that front strobes do not comply with the law. There are no Oregon appellate decisions interpreting Oregon's lighting law. It is my belief that these battery saving lights are in legal compliance with the law although probably not as good as a steady white light to the front for illuminating pot holes and other hazards in the dark. Certainly a rear strobe is okay, but the best practice is to have both a rear light and a rear reflector.

It is also good practice to use bicycle lights during twilight or foggy conditions, any time you would be tempted to turn on your headlights if you were driving a car. Carrying a small flashlight in your pack or bike bag is a good backup in case your bike light battery goes dead or the light bulb burns out. Most bike light bulbs are pretty tough, but the combination of high pressure tires, no suspension, and rough roads frequently combine to break the little filaments in the bulb so that the replacement frequency for bike lamps are higher than on a motorized vehicle. Carrying a flashlight gives you a good backup, keeps you in compliance with the law, and will be a welcome companion if you ever flat out on the way home and need to complete a roadside repair in the dark.

Generator sets are somewhat problematic because when the bicycle stops the lights go out. While a generator set is preferable from an ecological standpoint (no dependence on chemical batteries that must be discarded) it is probably better to buy a modern halogen light set with rechargeable batteries. My favorite lighting systems use large rechargeable batteries that fit in the water bottle cage because they provide a long charge and can be readily removed for daytime only riding. Most experienced night riders use a small strobe light to the rear and then a larger halogen unit for the front. If you do use a rear light, make sure you mount it so that your bike bag or pack does not obstruct its view from the rear.

Complying with Oregon's lighting law adds a little hassle to your daily commute, but, provides additional safety and confidence for night riding. Many riders are lulled into a false sense of security because new bikes have reflector systems. While few riders receive tickets for violation of Oregon's lighting law, if you are ever in an accident, violations of the lighting law will almost certainly be used against you. Bicycle lights are inexpensive to purchase and easy to mount so add this important equipment to your night time ride.
As for riding with you, I'd like to be able to help you out there, but I'm on the Westside. I'd have to make some serious plans to be in Portland. Esp during weekends, and weekday nights due to my schedual of advisory committee meetings, Church, street performing, and job seeking.

Rubberside Down!
K'Tesh
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Last edited by K'Tesh; 08-23-2010 at 07:33 AM.
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  #24  
Old 08-22-2010, 09:29 PM
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wsbob wsbob is offline
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I suppose how scary Portland for riding a bike is, depends on a number of things; what part of town you live in, what streets and infrastructure are there that are necessary to navigate, each individual rider's level of experience and bike handling ability...etc., etc. .
Downtown Portland and it's close in neighborhoods have plenty of bike lanes; these areas aren't that tough or intimidating to get around. To start, at least, it might help to stay off the main thoroughfares such as Burnside and MLK Blvd. Also, get and study a bike route specific map. Not trying to pitch any particular bike shop, but Bike Gallery is one that's likely to have some available (the Beaverton store has them): 'Portland by Bicycle', or the 'Bike There' maps.
As K'Tesh said, definitely get yourself set up with both front and back lights if you think there's a chance you'll be caught out after dusk and into the night. Even if it weren't the law to have one, and even in places where Portland streets are fairly well lit, you'd want a front light for visibility. There's road users in out part of the country as nutty as some of them probably are in Virginia, where you say you came from. That extra bit of illumination helps them see bikes.
Deciding what type light to get for the money you have to spend, can be a bit of a challenge in itself (try not be tempted by the cheapest, tiniest, dimmest lights out there)...at least it is for me.
Locate yourself someplace in town where you can observe, and/or talk to a lot of people that are riding. Not sure any more are scheduled for the season, but those Sunday Parkways would be an excellent op. There's bike clubs in town too, hosting rides that newcomers can join in on.
Your question about what the protocol is for being a respected rider, made me laugh. I suppose it depends upon who you ask. I believe that amongst the majority of road users, you'll be a respected rider if you use hand signals consistently to indicate changes in your direction of travel, and for stopping, ....and....stopping at the stop signs...slowing to a walking pace, looking at least side to side before proceeding.

After awhile when you've had a chance to see Portland riders traveling around, and if you read bikeportland's front page articles, you'll come to realize that certain people take considerable exception to complying with traffic regulations.

So, to sum the situation up...following the regulations will find you a respected rider among some road users...others will be totally miffed that you would stoop to following the regulations. You'll figure it out soon enough, and be able to decide which way you want to go for your own manner of riding.

But hey...you might do better with a gal's perspective. With a little luck, forum member lynnef might have a few ideas for you. She seems to have put in enough miles on the road to know what a cyclist might do to set up their bike in terms of basic equipment, and how to be a noble, respected cyclist. Check out her blog:

Lynne's Mostly-Cycling Blog

Last edited by wsbob; 08-23-2010 at 10:51 AM.
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  #25  
Old 08-23-2010, 07:03 AM
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Spiffy Spiffy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tugboat View Post
I just moved here from very unbikefriendly Virginia and joined this forum expressely because (and I'm almost embarassed to admit) I'm afraid to get out on the streets on my bike. I don't know the area well yet, I'm not sure where I should and should be riding, and what the protocol is for being a respected rider, etc. I'm just plain scared and I don't know anyone yet so even if I do go out I'll be riding alone.

Riding at night, do I need lights on both front and back? I have a back light so far but I'm not sure what the law states and if Portland is well lit enough at night that I wont need a front light.

Please give me some encouragement!
it's pretty easy to get used to riding in Portland...

I guess the first thing we need to know is where you're located...

if you're on the east side, or especially southeast, then I'm sure you could take some quick rides with us (wife, kid, and I) in the evenings and on weekends... we're very casual bikers... we're near SE Holgate Blvd and the I-205 bike path...

yes, you NEED a front light to obey the law... and you WANT a rear light to be seen... the more lights the better... I love riding late at night, it's so peaceful... lights are also a good idea when it's overcast, or any other time there's no direct sunlight...

if you want to be a respected cyclist all you really need to do is follow the law... use your hand signals when turning and changing lanes, and stop (or very close to it) at stop signs... don't ride fast on the sidewalk... don't weave in and out of parked cars...

once you get out on the road it's easier to learn those things...

just do it...
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