“Super Legal Bicycle Ride” happens tonight

Posted by on December 8th, 2005 at 11:13 am

This just in from local biker Elly Blue:

“The Super Legal Bicycle Ride will be a rolling demonstration of cyclists riding safely, courteously, and in compliance with all Oregon laws. We aim to show that current state laws hinder traffic flow when they require cyclists and motorists to behave identically. We will educate the public about the benefits of acknowledging differences in size, speed, and safety between cars and bicycles.”


“Because recent news media coverage has indicated a common public misperception that local cyclists tend to ride recklessly. The purpose of this action is twofold: First, to point out that many if not most cyclists exercise caution and understand and obey traffic laws. Second, we would like to demonstrate the benefits to traffic of changing stop sign legislation and enforcement to take into account the differences between cars and bicycles.”


“Thursday, December 8th at 5:15pm”


“Colonel Summers Park at SE 20th and Belmont, by the tennis courts. We will follow a route that includes the intersection of SE Clinton and 26th where a recent Portland Police traffic enforcement action handed out tickets to motorists and cyclists for rolling through stop signs.”


“Local cyclists from a wide variety of backgrounds who are invested in improving Portland’s bike-ability through public education and advocacy.”

Contact: Please contact Elly Blue by email at eleanor.blue@gmail.com before this event, or by cell phone at 503 810 9443 before or during this event.

Please support BikePortland.

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    Fritz December 8, 2005 at 1:47 pm

    Cool concept.

    I can’t find the article now, but somebody in the usenet group rec.bicycles.misc wrote recently that if every cyclist behaved vehicularly, the majority motorists would immediately call for bikes to be banned from the roads.

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    Dabby December 8, 2005 at 9:39 pm

    Hmmmmmmmmm. Super Legal?
    One hand washes the other.

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    Eric December 8, 2005 at 11:11 pm

    Yeah. This is what the bike haters want to see on the news. Bikers saying they don’t think stop signs and red lights should apply to them.

    Nice message this got out.

    I obey all posted signs and stop lights on my daily commute, and I don’t slow anyone down at all unless a driver pauses to collect themselves after realizing they almost ran me over.

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    C3PNo December 8, 2005 at 11:54 pm

    These roads were designed for cars.

    These laws were designed for cars.

    These marks on the road and the way the system is structured assures understanding to the least competent driver.

    Are we not taxpayers?

    To me, this is the fundamental issue underlying the chaotic relationship between two vehicles; one with optimal conditions and the other treated with a stepchildish disposition. What we need is

    A transportation census.

    Your method of travel is your vote for where your transportation tax dollar goes.

    Split up the roads. Bicycles relegated to sidewalks on non-hpv friendly thoroughfares. But bicyle routes that are truly car-free. Elevated, they could be linked in the ilk of highway systems for automobiles. With emphasis on sustaining momentum, using elevation as traffic control, and wind minimalization, it would cost a fraction of its fossil counterpart with none of the negative community externalities that have turned city centers into chasms of sound pollution.

    Who’s In?

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    Elly December 9, 2005 at 9:11 am

    C3PNo, that would turn cycling into something like motoring–alienating and distancing from daily life. Some cyclists do seem to think that getting to the destination fast is their number one goal. But the thing that really roped me into cycling is the community aspect–you can stop and chat with your neighbor, or ride along for awhile with another cyclist, or pause to throw a school group’s soccer ball back across the fence to them, as I did yesterday.

    Reducing, rather than increasing infrastructure is what I’d like to see. Get people to interact with each other to negotiate intersections and cross-modal encounters. Build up neighborhoods rather than bypassing them.

    The super legal ride didn’t actually draw any ire that I noticed from motorists. People for the most part even drove more politely than usual around us. I don’t think that most people’s primary wish is for modal separation, or for cyclists to get off the roads. People are just confused about how to drive around cyclists, which makes them nervous and sometimes angry. This should be addressed through more interaction, not less.

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    Jonathan Maus December 9, 2005 at 9:18 am

    Don’t miss Elly’s Super Legal Ride report.

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    Jessica Roberts December 9, 2005 at 9:31 am

    Hear, hear, Elly! You’ve put it so well…I’d like to see everyone walk, bike, use transit, and (if necessary) drive, so we don’t have artificial separations and turf wars between “cyclists” and “drivers.” It’s how we get around, not who we are…though biking sure is a fun way to get around, and the community aspect is one of the best parts of cycling. I just want my neighbors who use cars to look for me and be good partners in our traffic dance…and, of course, to give biking a try.

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    C3PNo December 9, 2005 at 1:07 pm


    Forgive me if the sarcasm does not come through so well, but I think there can be work done on both levels. If you ask drivers why they don’t bicycle, two elements recur: not fast and not safe. Developing a seperate infrastructure to complement the existing one would give cycling a chance to compete on an efficiency level not possible in the existing environment. Cheaper to construct and more efficient than light rail, it would out-perform highways within central areas in terms of overall efficiency. Imagine…

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    Jonathan Maus December 9, 2005 at 1:16 pm

    There was an interesting discussion about separate infrastructure on the Shift email list not too long ago. It started with this message.

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    Randy December 9, 2005 at 2:50 pm

    I didn’t think this ride was a good idea from the start but I restrained myself from criticizing the idea. Having seen the channel 8 TV news report on this ride last night, my initial concerns appear to be justified. The media covered this ride and its percieved message as just another instance in which bicyclists don’t want to (or simply don’t) follow the ‘rules of the road’, reinforced by an interview with the PPD spokesperson. So as far as getting some sort of message out to the motoring public regarding bicyclists’ rights and motorists’ responsibilities when driving in the vicinity of bicyclists, as filtered through the media lens, in my opinion this ride was not a great success.

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    Jessica Roberts December 9, 2005 at 3:22 pm

    I’m sorry, but I missed the news coverage. I don’t understand how they interpreted a ride that specifically followed laws as proof that bicyclists don’t want to follow the rules of the road. Could you explain? Thanks.

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    Randy December 9, 2005 at 3:50 pm

    To the best of my recollection, the only cyclist interview presented in the news story focused on changing the laws so bicyclists don’t have to stop at stop signs, accompanied by the usual pro-car spin from the news reporter and the police. They also showed a clip of a near miss between a motorist and a cyclist in the intersection during the ride. If I were a motorist viewing this story, I wouldn’t have much sympathy for the cyclists, based on what I saw, and how it was presented.

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    Elly December 9, 2005 at 5:02 pm

    Randy, I haven’t seen the news coverage yet, but I was the cyclist interviewed, and I have to say I’m nervous along similar lines to your concerns. Some people will never be happy with cyclists being on the road, and I’m sure that this press coverage will confirm their opinions. But I am hoping that people who don’t think much about cyclists, or don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other, might have seen the coverage and come away thinking in a new, subtler, and more sympathetic way about what it’s like to bike in Portland.

    But I don’t know how well I or the news people did at getting such a message across. It’s very possible we did more harm than good in that department.

    The ride was definitely a success in terms of finding a new way of riding as a group, and in terms of our immediate interactions with motorists at the scene. Also, people are starting to talk about how it’s high time for another ballot measure to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yields.

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    Randy December 9, 2005 at 10:20 pm

    I’m all for changing the law regarding stop signs for bikes, the law was not written with bicyclists in mind, and I personally only obey it to the extent necessary for my own safety.

    I also know that you can’t control the media and that to some extent any press is good press and even bad press means the message is getting out.

    On the other hand, I see this whole issue as one of misplaced police priorities and the ongoing cat-and-mouse game between bicyclists and the city over the zero tolerance policy eatablished by Vera Katz for activities such as Critical Mass.

    I think we need a two pronged strategy aimed at both the city and the media, to get them to think outside the box a little more.

    The city is not going to solve their traffic congestion problems by building more roads, that’s just impossible, especially in the central city, and bikes are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

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    Jonathan Maus December 10, 2005 at 1:17 am

    Dat has video of the KGW newscast. Check it out:

    it’s a 11 meg file.

    it’s a 4.3 meg file.

    it’s a 1.4 meg file.

    You will need an MPEG- 4 player like Quicktime 6 or higher.

    You rule Dat!

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