What makes people stop at red lights? Other people, study finds

Friday, October 31st, 2014
Would you stop?
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

It might be peer pressure. It might be geometry. It’s almost certainly some of each.

But following up on a study that found that (as we reported last year) 94 percent of observed bike users in Oregon stopped for red lights, a Portland State University civil engineering student has also found that every additional person waiting next to you on a bike makes you 78 percent less likely to run the light on your own bike.


For less than $500,000, 3 Portland road diets are preventing 37 crashes every year

Friday, October 10th, 2014
road diet safety
(Data: Portland Bureau of Transportation. Chart: BikePortland.)

A new city study shows the big payoff the city has quietly seen from a few uses of one of the least-understood tricks in traffic engineering: the 4-3 road diet.


New ‘Bikeology’ curriculum guides spell out bike skills for grades 6-12

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
Click the image for a link to the documents.

When the basics of biking are essentially passed on as folk wisdom from one individual to another, is there any wonder so many of us fail to pick up the best practices?

Local programs like Safe Routes to School and Create a Commuter try to fill this gap for elementary schoolers and working-age riders, respectively. And now the federal government is offering a free three-part guide aiming to help middle school and high school “physical education teachers and recreation specialists” teach the basics of bike use, maintenance and safety.

The 355-page curriculum includes seven units: Getting Ready to Ride, Bicycle Handling Basics, Emergency Bicycle Handling Skills, Advanced Bicycle Handling Skills, Rules of the Road for Riding, Bicycle Maintenance and Riding for Fitness.


94% of bike riders wait at red lights, study finds

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
Wait up? Most people do.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

We’ve all met that person who can’t seem to talk about bikes without complaining about “the cyclists” who are “always running” red lights.

Next time you cross paths with them, you might want to mention a new study suggesting that speeding in a car on local streets is at least six times more common than running a red light on a bike.

Nearly 94 percent of people riding bikes in Portland, Beaverton, Corvallis and Eugene stopped for red lights, a forthcoming Portland State University-based study of 2,026 intersection crossing videos has found. Of those, almost all (89 percent of the total) followed the rules perfectly, while another 4 percent entered the intersection just before the light changed to green.

Only 6 percent of riders were observed heading directly through the red light.

Despite tragedy and focus, right-hooks still plague Portland

Thursday, July 5th, 2012
It happens.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

One of the biggest urban bicycling planning conundrums facing Portland (and other cities?) right now is how to decrease the prevalence of right-hook collisions.

The majority of our bikeways here in Portland are to the immediate right of right-turning motor vehicle traffic at intersections. That scenario brings with it some inherent safety issues and it has led to more tragedy than I care to remember. While experts have told me that overall, right-hooks do not tend to be as serious as other types of collisions; they happen quite frequently and as we all know, they can have fatal results.

The problem really crystallized for me recently, when at a meeting of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, a Bureau of Transportation staffer said, “We have not figured out a good solution to making bikes visible when cars are making a right turn.” (more…)

Metro report: Road carnage costs region more than congestion

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
Arterials kill.

Using ODOT traffic crash data and their own data on transportation infrastructure Metro’s State of Safety report has found that roadway collisions cost our region $958 million a year — that’s significantly more than congestion.

The report also lays bare one of the nagging issues for local transportation planners and a central theme of the Mayor Sam Adams administration: Portland’s large, multi-lane arterials are unsafe. In what report authors refer to as one of the “most conclusive relationships” in the study, they found that a disproportionate amount of the serious crashes in our region occur on arterial roads.

Streets like Tualatin Valley Highway, 82nd Ave, SE Powell, McLoughlin Blvd (in Clackamas County) have much higher rates of fatalities and serious injuries than neighborhood streets or even freeways. (more…)

Tragic irony: PBOT postpones crosswalk enforcement action due to fatal collision

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
Traffic Safety action on SE Foster-7
A memorial on SE Foster near
site of fatal collision back in November 2009.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has been doing “crosswalk enforcement actions” for several years. The events, which place a human decoy in a crosswalk with a phalanx of cops waiting to pull people over nearby, have helped raise awareness for crosswalk laws and traffic safety in general. In the past six years, the actions have netted nearly 1,000 citations.

One of the most dangerous streets in the city is SE Foster Road. It’s a high-speed arterial that has claimed many victims over the years, including a fatal hit-and-run just last week. Portland Mayor Sam Adams himself launched a safety campaign on SE Foster in 2010, calling it a de facto “freeway.”

Today I noticed that PBOT had a crosswalk enforcement action scheduled for tonight on SE Powell at 54th — a location less than a mile from SE Foster. In an email from PBOT traffic safety staff about the actions, I read this:

“The crosswalk enforcement action scheduled for Thursday, February 2nd… has been postponed until a later date to be respectful to the residents of Foster Powell and Mt. Scott Arleta that will be having a candlelight vigil for Jason Lee Grant on Thursday at 5:30 PM on SE Foster near SE 71st Avenue. Mr. Grant was crossing SE Foster near SE 71st on Saturday evening when he was struck and killed by a hit and run driver.”

These arterial streets are so frustrating and so sad. Despite efforts to hang banners over them, install blinking lights at crosswalks, do enforcements actions, and hold vigils to remember their victims — these streets continue to win in the end.

Surely there’s got to be more we can do to tame these streets? What we’re doing now is great; but sometimes it seems like it’s just not enough.

For more information about tonight’s candlelight vigil, contact Christian Smith via email at christianbsmith [at] me [dot] com.

‘Be Seen, Be Safe’ at Pioneer Square tonight

Friday, November 4th, 2011
Jim Parsons from Beaverton won the “Best Lit” winner at last year’s “Be Safe Be Seen” event.
(Photos © J. Maus)

TriMet is all set for their second annual Be Seen, Be Safe event tonight at Pioneer Courthouse Square. The event will feature a mix of reflective and hi-vis fashion shows, a contest to see who has the most well-lit bike, and a guided ride through the city to show it all off.

Final weeks to comment on ODOT’s Traffic Safety Action Plan

Monday, August 8th, 2011
Cover of Oregon’s Traffic Safety
Action Plan.

Did you know that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death in Oregon for people under 35 years of age? Or that every year, traffic crashes in Oregon result in an estimated $2.58 billion in total economic loss — that’s about $657 dollars per Oregon resident*.

The good news is that the number and rate of injuries and fatalities on Oregon roads have been on the downswing in recent years. However, as we’ve been reminded in the past week or so, there’s a lot more work to do.

So far this year, 181 people have lost their lives while traveling on Oregon roads. (more…)

Guest Editorial: Are we ready for ‘Vision Zero’?

Monday, February 21st, 2011

[Publisher’s note: This article was written by transportation activist Alexis Grant and it was originally published on the Active Right of Way blog.]

A (small) part of traffic-1
(Photos © J. Maus)

At the annual Transportation Safety Summit on Tuesday, February 6, 2011, at Marshall High School, Mayor Adams started off the summit by asking “Why is safety our highest priority?” It may be a bit heretical of me, but the first question that came to my mind was “Is it? Really?”

What does it mean for safety to be our highest priority on the roads? Vision Zero argues that optimal safety means no loss of life:

No loss of life is acceptable. The Vision Zero approach has proven highly successful. It is based on the simple fact that we are human and make mistakes. The road system needs to keep us moving. But it must also be designed to protect us at every turn.


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