Join us on the Super Legal Ride

Tonight is the Super Legal Ride created by super-advocate Elly Blue. The first one got some media attention (Portland Mercury and KGW-TV) and its goal and execution has come into question on the Shift email list.

The debate revolves around whether or not it’s a good idea for cyclists to advocate for a new law that allows us to treat stop signs as yields. This is an important debate because it gets right at the heart of how society and the law think about bikes. We’re already considered a vehicle…but are bikes different enough from cars that we deserve a different set of laws? I think so.

But the ride isn’t all about the stop sign issue. It’s really a whole new take on making motorists more aware of bikes, and it’s completely opposite from the idea behind Critical Mass. In a nutshell the Super Legal Ride is a bunch of cyclists (the more the better!) riding single-file around a few intersections, obeying every traffic law to the letter. For more thoughts on the ride, here’s what Elly herself says about it:

  • It’s genuinely part of traffic (as opposed to blocking traffic)
  • It calms traffic slightly while allowing the natural “traffic dance” to continue as usual
  • It makes it look like there are a lot of (happy) cyclists on the road, vs. a more traditional ride that seems anomalous and maybe even threatening
  • More people in cars see it as they pass through the intersection (vs. the ten drivers stuck behind a parade, getting increasingly pissed off), allowing us to get our message (if any) to more people, and in a more positive, friendly way
  • Motorists follow our example and drive more legally themselves (this was maybe the coolest part)
  • No one gets ticketed, tackled, or arrested
  • No one rides aggro
  • No motorist who sees this ride can say that those damn cyclists never obey the law
  • It’s fun! Imagine riding around the city and exchanging friendly waves and bells with other cyclists at every corner.

I’ll be there tonight and I hope to see you there too. Meet at SE Stark and 28th at 5:30. For more info email eleanor.blue [at] gmail. com

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Jeff
Jeff
16 years ago

I am all for this! However I don’t like the idea of trying to “bend” the rules for bikes.

Keep Cycling!

Jeff

Jim F
Jim F
16 years ago

Thanks! Give the automobile drivers of Portland one more reason to try and run me over!

This is one of those things that only cyclists think is a good idea. It just makes everyone else hate us more. I don’t think it proves anything, other than the fact that large groups of cyclists can be rude. But to each his or her own . . . .

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
16 years ago

I think this ride is as much about experimentation as anytyhing. We’re just trying to see what happens, exploring new ways to make statements to motorists. It’s not like this ride is the result of focus groups and formal meetings or anything.

I’m all for creative new rides so I think we should give this one a chance and see what happens.

Joel
Joel
16 years ago

Is there any evidence out there that treating stop signs as yields is actually a good idea for safety? Anybody have a link to articles/research out there?

I’ve read the arguments that say it makes the bike commute easier and reduces our time in the intersection (which I agree with), but the last thing I want is a subclause in the law that makes it look like we’re getting preferential treatment. I *would* like to see track stands recognized as stops, however. Perhaps a middle ground here is to be able to designate some stops as “yield for bikes” with a little sign below it, allowing others to remain as full stops for safety reasons.

Dabby
Dabby
16 years ago

So, I believe that track stands have already been approved in portland as a stop, as duly reported here by Jonathan.
I am here tonight(again…) to point out a few of my ideas as to why a yield is a good idea to be allowed.
First of all, one of the ways to stay alive on a bike is momentum.
We stay safer by rolling faster, because it makes us roll straighter the quicker we go.
By stopping at every light or stop sign, then trying to build momentum through the intersection, it causes some, if not most , to berolling through the intersection in a manner that is not as safe. You are unsteady at times, sometimes weaving, you have no momentum to pull your way out of a incident.
You are a sitting duck, or one going 4 miles an hour.
When momentum is applied through the intersection, depending on the type of bike you ride, it will:
Allow you to roll up at a reasonable speed, or in a skid if that is your way. A slight pressure on the brakes gives you the ability to stop on a dime, but also to let loose and start pedaling hard.
It is called a California stop, and is already done by 3/4’s of the drivers on the road at stops signs near you.
Sure they bitch about us doing it, but many drivers ride the brake slowly up to the stop never really stop, and moves along, unless there is alot of traffic of course.
But with a lot of traffic, most cyclists would treat a stop sign with a full stop, which is reccomended.
This is not preferential treatment, as the law is already being broken, and is right to be applied to bicyclists.
There are many more reasons why this should be allowed, but I would be rambling……
I must say, I disagree with using the making the bike commute easier argument.
If you want a easy commute, drive.
If you wanna do a little work, get some exercise and fresh air, and feel good about yourself, ride your bike to work.
Bringing it round the Turkey and into your home, Dabby “Bubble Boy” Rodriguz

What this does, as compared to stopping entirely

Dabby
Dabby
16 years ago

I will be hosting a Mostly Harmless bike ride tommorrow, from 8-5, downtown Portland.
Laws may be bent, but they will straighten out…

twotiretinker
twotiretinker
16 years ago

Cyclists already do yields at stop signs, or if the situation warrants, a full stop. Its flexible already, Its acceptable either way. As long as you are fair about it (ie don’t blow through when obviously someone else has the right of way). The point is seperation of traffic at the intersection, no accidents! Obviously if there are cars at the intersections and especially police, you do more of a nearly stop. Now if no other vehicles, then more of a yield or slight slow down. If absolutely no one else around, no one will see you, well then does it matter? just blow through it.

I’d rather not draw attention to the whole thing and ruin the flexibility that already exists. Just let it be. Why complicate or even waste time discussing ? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Elly
Elly
16 years ago

My favorite reason for revisiting stop sign legislation is that when you are hit by a careless motorist as you roll through that stop sign, the way things stand now said motorist’s insurance company can deny your claim, because you were breaking the law. A more reasonable law for bikes would mean more fair insurance coverage.

I take it this is one of the big benefits of the recent (January 1st) laws valiantly passed by the BTA–passing on the right is now legal, which probably doesn’t mean that it will happen more often, but hopefully means that fewer cyclists will be screwed by the insurance industry if they get hit. It also means fewer ways for the police to crack down on Critical Mass. And fewer out-of-proportion tickets for cyclists (remember, fines are identical for cyclists and motorists, regardless of the relative risks posed).

jami
16 years ago

this ride is a great idea. critical mass is at its best when it keeps people excited about biking, but this ride could actually point out how silly it is to treat bikes exactly the same as cars.

i’m for stop-as-yield for bikes because it’s harder to get a bike going again than just tapping the gas pedal with your big toe. also, in an accident, the only people we’re likely to hurt are ourselves.

but if we don’t yield to a car when we should, even at a “yield” sign, the insurance company wouldn’t have to pay. it still surprises me to see all the (guy) riders who don’t realize exactly how much responsibility they take if they bike out in front of a mack truck with half a glance to see what’s coming and no time to stop anyway.

Dabby
Dabby
16 years ago

Why are you people referring to this yeild issue , as to getting paid by a insurance company?
Why aren’t you referring to it in a sense of effecting the ride?
Are you planning to get hit or something?
Who care what the insurance company thinks about yeilds?
If they won’t pay you, get a lawyer.
Please focus on the issues at hand, not on your wallet…..
We would all love to get a fat check from a insurance co.
But, isnt it nicer to just ride your bike, without thinking of being hit?

Ema
Ema
16 years ago

We need to ride in a predictable way when we are sharing the road. That means stopping at stop signs and lights and signaling when we turn. If we want to be taken seriously we need to ride with pride not arrogance.