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Bjorn Warloe wants to change when we stop (or don't)

Posted by on February 12th, 2007 at 12:24 pm

[Bjorn Warloe]

Portland resident Bjorn Warloe wants Oregon to take a cue from Idaho when it comes to how bicycles treat stop signs and traffic lights.

Since I met him last December, he has garnered interest and support from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and some lawmakers in Salem.

I asked him a few questions about his effort:

Your group is called “Idaho Style”. Where does that name come from?
Idaho Style is a slogan that we hoped would be catchy while exemplifying what our group is trying to accomplish. It captures that the laws have been successfully implemented for years in Idaho. Also Oregon, and by extension Portland has been a state that really likes to lead on Bike and Pedestrian issues, the slogan is meant to push a button a little. If Idaho can handle this, can’t Oregon?

Why have you taken up this effort? Isn’t this something the BTA should be taking on?
We are working with the BTA, along with other bike groups. Every organization has to select their top priorities but it was an idea that didn’t make their list this year. Idaho Style is a group of people who wanted to make passing this legislation their top goal for the session.

“It was convenient for lawmakers to just classify bicycles as a vehicle, but clearly there are big differences between a semi truck and a bike.”
–Bjorn Warloe

How has the support/response been from the community and from legislators?
Once people understand what we are really trying to accomplish the response has been mostly positive. The negative responses I have heard are usually from people who envision it being legal to ride your bike through a stop sign at 25 mph, or to run a stop light during busy traffic. This isn’t what we are advocating at all, and once people understand that the idea of the law is to allow cyclists to carefully yield at a stop sign, or proceed through a deserted stoplight at night after coming to a complete stop they usually get behind the idea.

Why should bicyclists be given special legal consideration in this situation?
I think it is a mistake for bicycles and cars to be subject to all the same laws in all the same ways. It was convenient for lawmakers to just classify bicycles as a vehicle, but clearly there are big differences between a semi truck and a bike. In some ways this has already been recognized, no bicycle operators license/fee, lanes for bikes only, non motorized bike/pedestrian paths, these law changes represent an extension of that.

The BTA is working toward vulnerable user legislation (info, PDF) that recognizes that ped/bikes are less protected in the road, we are working on legislation that recognizes that ped/bikes are less dangerous, and less likely to cause injury to others.

Can you summarize the law in Idaho?
In Idaho the law allows a bicyclist to slow down before a stop sign and then make the decision to continue through if there is no traffic, or to stop if another bicyclist or vehicle has the right of way. The stop sign law has been in place for over 20 years and has been shown to work very well.

A few years ago they also passed a law allowing for bicyclists who are stopped at a red light to go ahead and go through if there are no cars coming. Mark McNeese, Idaho’s State Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator has told us that while the stop light law hasn’t really been around long enough to be sure of its effect its implementation went relatively smoothly.

What are some of the key hurdles you see in making this concept a reality in Oregon?
The biggest hurdle will be educating all roadway users of the change. My biggest concern is not that the change will produce more accidents because I honestly don’t think it will. No one wants to get hit by a car and so I think you will see people on bikes being just as careful before crossing the street.

I do think that the law has the potential to create road rage situations between cyclists and other users who think that cyclists are breaking the law. ODOT actually does a pretty good job educating people about law changes and I think they will come through on this too.

A recent example I could point to was when the rules around pedestrians in crosswalks changed, it was well covered through a variety of mainstream media outlets and few problems seemed to occur as a result of the changes.
===

Thanks Bjorn, for taking time answer my questions. Please keep us updated on any developments.

[For more discussion on this topic, see the comments to last week’s post, BTA would support “roll and go concept”.]

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

97 Comments
  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Bjorn Warloe says:
    “It was convenient for lawmakers to just classify bicycles as a vehicle, but clearly there are big differences between a semi truck and a bike.”

    Bjorn clearly does not understand the law, or how it was developed, which at a minimum makes his argument suspect.

    His lack of understanding of the law is further borne out in his comment that “we are working on legislation that recognizes that ped/bikes are less dangerous, and less likely to cause injury to others.” I suppose if one lacks even the rudiments of an understanding of traffic and tort law, that comment makes sense– which points out the dangers of the uneducated and misinformed assuming that they are capable of writing legislation.

    Bjorn, if you want to propose legislation, why don’t you PLEASE learn something about the law first, beginning with a history of HOW bikes came to be regarded as vehicles, and proceeding through the rudiments of traffic and tort law.

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  • R. Dobbs February 12, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    “if you want to propose legislation, why don’t you PLEASE learn something about the law first, beginning with a history of HOW bikes came to be regarded as vehicles,”

    Um, rixtir, feel like sharing your insights with the rest of the class here?

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  • Ms. Lu February 12, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    rixtir – it matters to a certain extent about how bikes became regarded as vehicles…but that has gone too far now…vehicles has become a tug of war term between cars and bikes…being a cyclist, you should understand this…i don’t care where your background is, nor do i care where it is going – and neither does any car/vehicle out there…the point is bike advocacy and getting the laws to mesh with reality on bikes and reality on cars…bjorn is DOING something about the horror in the bike laws, and lack of respect/awareness from cars (thinking they are operating out of the law)…so, either respect what a FELLOW cyclist is doing; or keep flapping your jaws on your own technicalities…support each other in making a change…not tear down a peer because of some technical flaw YOU see…i think you have better things to do than to keep that sass…perhaps you could email him or propose it in such a way that it doesn’t come across as such sass…besides, it is difficult at times to gather how one is responding through some 1 and 0’s of the computer industry…
    thank you bjorn for your efforts in making change…

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  • Jonathan Maus February 12, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    better yet, Rixtir, how about getting in touch with Bjorn and offering your help and/or advice?

    this is a grassroots effort that will only happen if people like you step forward and help out.

    or, if you think it’s a bad idea, that’s fine too.

    just saying that we have more to gain by joining forces than by tearing each other down.

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  • gabrielamadeus February 12, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Nice interview bjorn!

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  • ip February 12, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Bjorn,

    Outstanding work, please don t let anyone stop you in your efforts.

    I ve recently got a ticket for a yellow at an intersection… When I tell others cyclists, drivers or pedestrians, they are ALL very surprised by it. We must be aware and safe while on the road, but you are right that the law has to become more flexible for cyclists and pedestrians.

    Thank you Bjorn!

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    R. Dobbs, Post #2:

    Bicycles were classified as vehicles before automobiles ever appeared on the road. The purpose was two-fold– to define the rights of cyclists, because many in society felt that cyclists had NO right to be on the road, and to define the duties of cyclists to other users of the road.

    Bicycles were first classified as vehicles by the New York legislature, and cyclists were declared to have ALL of the rights and all of the duties that were applicable to other users of the road– at that time, horses and horse-drawn carriages. The legislature specifically forbade local governments from enacting any legislation restricting the rights of cyclists.

    Shortly afterwards, New York City developed a traffic ordinance that gave pedestrians– the most vulnerable users of the road– the right of way. The rights and duties of both cyclists and horsemen were defined in the ordinance as well. That hierarchy– of giving more protection to the most vulnerable users of the road, from pedestrian to cyclist to motorist– survives in the law today.

    Contemporary to the New York statute, a corresponding body of law was developed in the courts, with one court after another declaring that bicycles were vehicles, and that cyclists had all of the rights and all of the duties that were applicable to other “drivers” of vehicles. This body of law still exists, but has been supplanted in most states by legislation making the same declaration of rights and duties.

    After these developments in the statutory and common law had occurred, the automobile came along, and the courts and legislatures applied the legal principles that had been developed for cyclists to automobiles.

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Jonathan:

    Apart from any questions about a basic understanding of the law, I have serious reservations about the proposed law[s].

    First, I have yet to see any coherent argument from proponents of the Idaho law as to why the proposed law will be obeyed any more than the current law is obeyed. There is a wide range of cycling practice in this and other cycling cities, from complete adherence to the law, to complete disregard of the law. For those who currently run stop signs and red lights without yielding– a sizable enough number that I see the practice every single day– the proposed law changes nothing. They will still disregard the law. that being the case, why should the law be changed?

    Second, tort law– the law we turn to when another person carelessly or intentionally injures us– isn’t based on “relative danger.” It matters little to me, for example, if I’m run over by a Prius hybrid, or a Hummer. The only question is whether the driver owes me compensation for my injuries. Now, if the “driver” is a cyclist who runs a stop sign and knocks me down, I may or may not have a better chance of survival than if a Hummer driver does the same thing, but that’s irrelevant as far as holding the person who injured me liable for the injuries I suffered.

    OK, that’s tort law– it addresses what happens AFTER somebody has violated their duty not to harm me. Traffic fines address the penalty due if somebody violates a law that is intended to prevent that injury to me in the first place. the purpose of the fine isn’t to compensate me, or to weigh the potential damage to me– it’s to discourage behavior that has the potential to injure me. It’s preventative in nature, whereas tort law is remedial in nature. The effect of reducing the penalty based on a “lesser potential” of harm will be to encourage the violation of these preventative laws– exactly the opposite of what would be just to the potential victims of those who disregard the rights of others.

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  • Donald February 12, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Aren’t rolling stops for bikes legal in Eugene already? Seems like I heard that in the late 80’s when I was in school there…

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  • DJ February 12, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    The problem with the “law” argument is that it is just that. Its law. It does not take into account common sence. Law isn’t made that way. The simple fact remains that if I get hit by a Hummer, I’m dead. If I get hit by a bike I get a bruise. True, those who break the law now will continue to do so, but how is it fair that the 160 pounds of me on my bike has to answer for the same crime as 4 ton Hummer? The law says I do. Common sence says I don’t.

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  • Jeremy February 12, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    At the root of the argument for rolling stops is the premise that rolling stops work well in Idaho and should therefore make their way to Oregon. In my opinion, this premise is fatally flawed as cycling in Idaho (on any street in any city in Idaho) is far different than cycling in Portland, Oregon, where rolling stop legislation would have the most significant ramifications.

    As an Idaho resident for 20 years (Portland resident for 9 years) I have cycled in several Idaho cities, including the three with the greatest populations (Boise, Pocatello and Idaho Falls). As a method of transportation and recreation, cycling on city streets in these cities is minimal at best. What little cycling there is, it is most prevalent on city greenbelts. I speculate that the minuscule number of street-level cyclists in these Idaho cities has a lot to do with the effectiveness of the law. Again, this is my speculation as I do not have ridership statistics to back up this opinion. I base my opinion on years of experience living in Idaho and riding on Idaho streets.

    In my opinion, it is reckless to push towards rolling stop legislation based on what amounts to conjecture –conjecture no more or less valuable than that which I present in this comment.

    Please don’t get me wrong, rolling stops ‘seem’ reasonable to many in Portland, and would no doubt lead to quicker commutes for many (ask the thousands of riders who roll every day). Regardless, in a streetscape still dominated by the automobile, I see little room for a gray law that is ill-supported by hard facts regarding its proposed benefits.

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  • Jeremy February 12, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    BTW, as a follow-up to my first comment, what I presented is my opinion, and I believe that opinions are open for change. I appreciate the discussion on this thread and look forward to reviewing more opinions and facts to help shape my own perspective.

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  • ip February 12, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    sorry… kinda off topic here but… If you get ticketed for rolling through a stop sign, does it affect your car insurance? I cannot find the answer anywhere on the forums.

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  • Clay Fouts February 12, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    I have yet to see any coherent argument from proponents of the Idaho law as to why the proposed law will be obeyed any more than the current law is obeyed.

    The proposal simply revises the law to be in accord with what is currently standard practice.

    The effect of reducing the penalty based on a “lesser potential” of harm will be to encourage the violation of these preventative laws

    Are you saying that cyclists who currently practice slow-n-go stops at stop signs (i.e. nearly all cyclists) only slow down because they’re afraid of the liability concerns? My impression is that cyclists do it out of the self-preserving concern about running into another moving object, a concern that the law cannot banish. The twenty year history of this law in Idaho suggests that the latter is more accurate.

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    DJ,

    The traffic law doesn’t say you pay the same for my injury as the driver of a Hummer does. If you think that’s what I said, please disabuse yourself of that notion.

    If you hit me while you’re on your bike, and Hummer driver hits my companion, you will both be liable for the amount of injury you respectively caused.

    On the other hand, society has seen fit to prevent the violation of my rights in the first place, and to force those with no regard for my rights to obey the law that is designed to prevent injury to me in the first place.

    The means that society uses to force those with no regard for my rights to nevertheless obey the law that is designed to prevent injury to me is the traffic fine. Although one may have no regard for my rights, one may nevertheless make the rational choice to avoid behavior that extracts a penalty. Lowering the penalty for violating these preventative laws only encourages the unjust behavior.

    That IS common sense, and that common sense understanding is precisely why those who wish to disregard the law and my rights prefer a lower penalty– because it makes violating my rights less burdensome for those who don’t care about my rights.

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  • rainperimeter February 12, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    thanks rixtir for post #7. r. dobbs, myself and anyone else who wasn’t up to date on our NY state legislation regarding bicycles on the roadways from 100+ years ago really ought to just hang it up. i love you bicycles, but i’m not good enough for you.

    you hear that bjorn, bone up on the legal history of the bicycle, you’re clearly out of your element. how do you possibly think you might make cycling in portland better in 2007 if you don’t know what cycling in nyc was like in 1907? anyways, rixtir’s not convinced it’s a good idea. seriously though, thanks for trying.

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  • West Cougar February 12, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Hey Rixtir,

    Methinks you protest too much. Regardless, since you present yourself such the expert, I have to ask, how many stop signs and traffic lights existed prior to the invention of the motor vehicle?

    I think if historical precedence is so important, than it matters that these traffic control measures came into being only after motorized traffic became ubiquitous. Further, special rules for different “vehicles” is not without precedence. Such already exist for semi trucks and automobile speed limits on highways.

    Finally, to answer your question about why bother to change the law. It is because otherwise safe and conscientious cyclists are being caught in drag-nets that serve no purpose in making the roadways safer. De-criminalizing otherwise safe behaviour should be the rule for any liberal, democratic society.

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  • Jeremy February 12, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    Interesting comment (#17), West Cougar. You make a very curious point regarding ‘otherwise safe behavior’. I’m curious how rolling stops are proposed to be interpreted by law enforcement officials. Of course, my curiosity applies to the existing law (requiring full stops) as well. What is a ‘full stop’ and what is a ‘rolling stop’.

    Personally, I can come to a complete stop (that is, my tires stop moving, if but for a second) without un-clipping from my pedals; but does the law require my foot come down and touch the road in order for my stop to be considered a ‘full stop’? I don’t know.

    As for a rolling stop, do varying degrees of rolling stops qualify as ‘legal’ or ‘reckless’? That is, if someone does not hesitate at a stop sign (to check whether it is safe to proceed), are they in violation of the rolling stop law?

    I am curious as to how a proposed rolling stop law would/could create a new set of issues related to enforcement interpretation. Of course, as I also stated previously, this issue probably exists today; do I have to put my foot down?

    Good points for discussion.

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    Clay, Post 14:

    That is not a coherent argument. Here’s why: The Idaho law makes it illegal to run red lights. Current practice is to run red lights. Since the Idaho law doesn’t bring the law into accord with current practice, there’s still no argument that’s been made about why the law should be changed.

    “Are you saying that cyclists who currently practice slow-n-go stops at stop signs (i.e. nearly all cyclists) only slow down because they’re afraid of the liability concerns?”

    No, I think those who do slow-n-go’s obviously are thinking of protecting themselves, as you stated, and perhaps, they’re even respecting my right not to be injured.

    There’s still no argument to be made that this proposed change will bring the law into accord with current practice.

    And there’s still no argument to be made that reducing the penalties for those who would disregard my rights leads to a more just outcome.

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  • Anonn February 12, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Which legislator is going to be sponsoring this bill? Past sponsor Prozanski was rumored to not be interested anymore.

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  • Jonathan Maus February 12, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Republican Senator Jason Atkinson has shown interest and will meet with Bjorn this Wednesday.

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Rainperimeter;

    If the premise of your legal theory i n regards to bicycles is based on a completely backwards understanding of the law, do you think that makes your legal theory in regards to bicycles sound or unsound?

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  • Clay Fouts February 12, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Current practice is to run red lights.

    Our personal observations apparently differ, but that’s a separate issue. I made my above statement on the premise that a state shouldn’t have laws which do not actually serve to protect its citizens. If you want to ignore the twenty successful years of its application in Idaho, I suppose one could find some room to argue that modifying the existing Oregon law would unduly expose its citizens to harm. What I’ve heard to that effect has not looked particularly convincing.

    There’s still no argument to be made that this proposed change will bring the law into accord with current practice.

    You sound really invested in believing this.

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  • Jeremy February 12, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Hello Clay. I realize your comment (#23) was primarily directed at rixtir, however, I contend that we choose to more closely examine the “…twenty successful years of its application in Idaho” as opposed to ignore it. Please see my post (#11) for reference.

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  • samizdat February 12, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Call me dense, but how is a rolling stop safer than coming to a complete stop?

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  • John February 12, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    I honestly don’t believe allowing rolling stops is safe behavior. The only benefit to cyclists is a few seconds of time, but the potential hazards are much greater. How do you legally clarify a save rolling speed before running a stop sign? Isn’t this basically just tempting bikers to just blow through stop signs. I firmly believe that if this type of law is passed we will see more bike accidents.

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Clay;

    I understand that some cyclists do roll-n-go stops already.

    I have also seen, from personal observation downtown, any day of the week, cyclists who run red lights. I have also personally observed cyclists running red lights while oncoming vehicles had the right of way. I have personally seen these oncoming vehicles screech to a halt to avoid hitting the red light runners. I have personally been buzzed twice by stop sign and red light running cyclists, while I was legally in the crosswalk and had the right of way. When I pointed to the red light on the second buzzing, and said “red light,” I was told to “f off.”

    So tell me, Clay, how changing the law brings it into accord with current practice?

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  • Clay Fouts February 12, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Jeremy, I saw your comment, and I think it merits consideration because, as you point out, there may be extenuating circumstances that differentiate these two cases. It’d be interesting to know from what city you draw your experience and if there are other areas to which that law applies that would be more apropos. Still, twenty years is a long time. Even if Idaho has far fewer cyclists it’s significant that no complex issues have cropped up in that length of time.

    And at any rate, I still don’t see how amending a law to fall more closely in line with pervasive common practice will bring greater harm anyone. My point is, this law would do very little to change the way people actually behave. I commute fifteen miles a day and see lots of cyclists. I have never seen one stop at a stop sign unless there was need to yield right of way. Seriously, never. These same cyclists are not suddenly going to blindly throw themselves into intersections. They’re going to behave the same way they have been forever, except they now can’t get cited with a ridiculous fine for doing it.

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  • Clay Fouts February 12, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    how changing the law brings it into accord with current practice?

    I don’t understand why you think this is a relevant line of inquiry. Your cherry-picked anecdotes don’t really mean much more than my saying that I very rarely see cyclists exhibit the reckless behavior you describe.

    You ignore my previous statement that I premise my opinion on the understanding that laws should not exist if they do not serve to protect citizens. Do you disagree with this premise? So the real question is, how is the current law protecting citizens? How is it harming them? If anything, your anecdotes show that the current law does nothing to protect and only serves to allow a benign behavior to be penalized. Those same crazy, death-defying cyclists are still going to jump in front of oncoming garbage trucks with or without amending the existing law… and it’s still going to be illegal. Those same cyclists who slow-n-go are going to continue to do so… and will no longer suffer harassing fines for it.

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  • Burr February 12, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Apparentky all four Portland cyclists who actually come to a full stop at every stop sign they encounter are posting here on this thread.

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    “I don’t understand why you think this is a relevant line of inquiry.”

    Because it’s the argument you offered in support of changing the law.

    “Your cherry-picked anecdotes don’t really mean much more than my saying that I very rarely see cyclists exhibit the reckless behavior you describe.”

    True. We’re both describing different universes. The difference is, I’ve acknowledged that what you describe– safe slow-n-go stops– are practiced by some cyclists. Pretending that what I see every day of the week doesn’t ALSO exist doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. Ignoring the legitimate concerns of other members of the cycling community isn’t going to build support for a change in the law within the cycling community, let alone in the larger society.

    Your premise– I disagree with it. My disagreement with your premise (although probably not directed at your premise, I don’t remember now) is articulated in my previous posts about why we have traffic laws and penalties for violations of those laws.

    I agree– those same crazy cyclists who disregard my rights will continue to do so. therefore, changing the law benefits you, but doesn’t bring the law into accord with their behavior.

    But it makes the road environment less safe, because it reduces the opportunity for law enforcement to catch them in the act. Let’s say the scofflaw (one who has no regard for the rights of others, as distinguished from you) runs stop signs and stop lights 100% of the time. However, let’s assume that the actual percentage of dangerous runs is smaller– say 10% of the lights an stops they run disregard someone else’s right. as the law is currently written, law enforcement has more opportunity to discourage that reckless behavior– on 100% of their runs, as opposed to 10% of their runs.

    Now let’s assume the law changes. Now, the only opportunity law enforcement has to discourage that anti-social behavior has been reduced to some percentage of the opportunity law enforcement currently has, and law enforcement has to actually catch them either running a red light, or failing to yield. The opportunity cost for this anti-social behavior has just been drastically reduced, and I argue that makes the roads less safe.

    All so you can save a moment of time on your commute, something we scorn motorists for.

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Bjorn

    The fact that you don’t have consensus among cyclists– or even care if you have consensus among cyclists– isn’t going to bode well for you when you try to convince the legislature that this is what cyclists want.

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  • Idaho Style February 12, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    The goal of the legislation in regards to stoplights is to allow people to go through the light after coming to a complete stop not to run it. Think North Portland late at night. Many of the lights which are busy during rush hour have no cross traffic at all at night, but the light can take several minutes to change. Many cyclists especially women find it frightening to have to sit at a light where they could be mugged or otherwise assaulted. I am aware of no one who proposes that bicyclists should be allowed to “run” red lights.

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  • Jeremy February 12, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    Burr, I laughed out loud at your comment (#30). Very funny –and totally true as it applies to me. A welcome bit of levity in a complex conversation.

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Oops; I thought that was Bjorn…

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  • Jeremy February 12, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    I worry that the perception of some cyclists that rolling stops represent a ‘benign behavior’ is askew. True, if no other human is at the stop (whether in a car, on a bike, or a ped on foot), then perhaps the rolling stop is benign. But if any other person –regardless of their mode of transportation– is present, then that ‘benign behavior’ takes on greater meaning. That meaning may be personal safety (for all present at the stop); it may also assume a deeper meaning as it relates to someone else’s interpretation of cyclists’ behavior.

    This is one item in Bjorn’s interview I have not addressed but it very important: ‘The biggest hurdle will be educating all roadway users of the change.’

    This issue is just as obtuse as personal safety, and I believe equally important. How will a new rolling stop law be communicated to the masses? This law will have implications to more than cyclists –it will apply to the previously-mentioned cyclists, motorists and peds.

    Perception is very important. Many of us do in fact scorn one another for not following the rules. True, this is a controlling behavior that is by no means productive, but it exists nevertheless. I believe that if rolling stops are to be considered, they must not be considered without a very large component of the program dedicated to education and public communication. This is essential for all parties that share the roads (and sidewalks). If such a program cannot be effectively considered and funded, then the proposed law could produce unintended results.

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  • Clay Fouts February 12, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Rixtir… laws do have, I believe, some limited utility in giving police premise for enforcement. However, it’s obviously a point of debate where we want to draw that line. Few people would argue for the repeal of DUI laws, premised on the same notion. At the same time, the logical end of this type of structure leads me to prefer erring on the side of caution when tempted to apply it too broadly, lest we end up in more “War on Drugs”-type statism.

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  • Carl February 12, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    I am a responsible, safety-conscious cyclist who racks up $1,936 of potential traffic violations each morning for the 8 stop signs I roll through every morning on my 15 minute commute to work.

    I am not alone.

    How much could your commute cost you if it was surveilled by Officer Balzer?

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Clay,

    As I read Bjorn’s proposal[s], he wants to (A) reduce the percentage of opportunities that law enforcement has to coerce REALLY dangerous cyclists (i.e., not you) into respecting the rights of others, and (B) on those rare occasions when they are caught, he wants to make sure the penalties are very, very light. argue that this only encourages irresponsible behavior, and wonder why Bjorn’s agenda is to encourage irresponsible behavior.

    So let me play devil’s advocate here for a moment.

    Remember, I’m just playing devil’s advocate.

    Suppose we could devise a traffic law the both decriminalized what you call “safe” behavior, and was really tough on unsafe behavior. For example, stop sign as yield is legal for cyclists, and stop and go on red is legal for cyclists. That decriminalizes the “safe” behavior.

    Then, we go after the unsafe behavior with really draconian measures– say, a mandatory one year in jail on conviction for running a red light, whether you’re a driver or a cyclist. A mandatory one year in jail on conviction for failure to yield, whether you’re a driver or a cyclist.

    OK, that’s pretty draconian, but it would tend to discourage unsafe behavior, while decriminalizing safe behavior, wouldn’t it?

    But then, I don’t think making a safer road environment is what the agenda is all about. Which is why somebody will point out that a bicycle has less potential for harm than a Hummer, and therefore, should be penalized lightly, if at all…

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    Now, before somebody takes that as a literal expression of what I think the traffic laws should e, let me say that I don’t think cyclists who run red lights should be punished that harshly.

    I do think, however, that traffic behavior that disregards my rights should be discouraged before I’m harmed, not after.

    And I do think that attempts to excuse harmful behavior are more about self-interest than they are about cycling advocacy.

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  • LuckyLab February 12, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    I notice no one has discussed the apparently not so obvious physical reason for bicyclists treating stop signs as yields. See http://www.arch.ksu.edu/seamon/Fajans.htm for the difference in effort required to stop and start at all those stops signs.

    On a purely semantic note, I hate the terms roll-and-go, rolling stop, etc. It should be in law and in practice, treating stop signs as yield signs. I see no reason to prevent reponsible folks from prudently rolling through stop signs when NO ONE else is at the intersection. That seems clear enough to me, Officeer.

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  • Garlynn February 12, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Rixtir, Post #39:

    I would accept your proposal, in principle, as long as it was accompanied with very clear explanations of what was what. If we all established and agreed collectively on what a level playing field looked like, I think this could be a good win-win proposition.

    And, it could also be a very good political proposition. I think more legislators would sign on if there was a slight (but noticeable) toughening of penalties for running lights or failing to yield ROW at stop signs, in exchange for the new liberties for bicycles under safe, controllable circumstances.

    What do I mean?

    Say a bike and a car both arrive at a 4-way stop at the same time.

    Under the new law, it must be ABUNDANTLY CLEAR to both vehicles who has the right of way.

    Does the bicycle get it, if it continues moving without stopping, under the theory that the car has to stop anyways, so for it to stop for one second longer to allow the bike to pass is a lesser hardship than for the bike to stop and put foot down, wait for car to decide direction, accelerate and clear intersection, then find pedal and resume motion again? If this is the case, is there a way to right it into the law somehow?

    If not, does the vehicle on the right get it automatically, after both vehicles have come to a complete stop?

    Is there some other scenario that would prevail and avoid conflict, anger or resentment on the part of either vehicle operator?

    Obviously, the pedestrian trumps both vehicles if the pedestrian is anywhere near the crosswalk zone — a fact that would also need to be made clear again in any educational campaign.

    All in all, a good and healthy debate worthy of this extremely fine proposal, which I had previously advocated for here:

    http://undergroundscience.blogspot.com/2006/12/lets-expand-idahos-bicycle-code.html

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  • Garlynn February 12, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    BTW, does Bjorn’s Idaho Style group have a website yet?

    I’d love to provide a link to it from my blog page on the same topic… and encourage folks to support them in some way!

    cheers,
    ~Garlynn

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  • Elly February 12, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    Hey Rixtir,
    Actually, your draconian situation is right on the button. Last time this slow-n-go legislation was attempted in Oregon, it was coupled with a hefty fine *increase* for cyclists who sped through stop signs rather than yielding. An attempt to make it go down smoother, I guess — anyway, it didn’t pass.

    Bjorn, have you considered putting forward a second, perhaps more palatable companion bill, to lower the fine for bike violations? I’d be pretty happy if we asked for slow-n-go and received at least a fee reduction so that cyclists rolling through stop signs below a certain speed were charged for a pedestrian violation. I can run up to 10mph — why should I pay a 90 dollar fine for jaywalking and 242 dollars for crossing the same street, probably even more cautiously, at that speed or less on a bike?

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  • Bjorn February 12, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    I struggle to know where to begin in response to some of these comments. First I want to make it really clear that while the interview was with me, and I pulled people together there have been many folks working on this, and we have spent a lot of time thinking about the issues.

    I think it is unfortunate that one person decided to post many comments some of which are very unrelated to what we are trying to do. No one is suggesting that bicyclists should be able to ride in a dangerous manner by doing things like almost running over pedestrians in a crosswalk, blowing through a red light at full speed, or even a stop sign at full speed for that manner. Repeatedly bringing up stories about things that cyclists have done that would be a violation of both the old law and the proposed bill is not constructive dialogue and I hope that it stops because I think the main opposition to this idea comes from people who fail to understand the proposal.

    The discussion here has focused on the stop sign part of the idea, I actually think the stop light part is more important, especially in light of the recent attacks on cyclists. Having to sit through a light at an empty intersection late at night is a safety issue and deters people from biking when they know they will have to ride home alone through an area that they don’t feel safe in. Going through that light after stopping also has little impact on any other road user since the point is that there are no other road users around and that is why it is allowable for the bicyclist to proceed. I am amazed at how often when I bring up the stoplight law the person I am talking to stops me and tells me a story about not feeling safe while waiting at a light, it is a real issue in terms of increasing ridership.

    On the stop sign side of things the change would not be needed if we didn’t have so many stop signs in our city. Most of these stop signs get stuck up with very little research into the need for a stop sign, and in the worst cases we end up with a 4 way stop. On most of our low traffic streets stop signs make absolutely no sense from a bicyclists or a car drivers point of view. In the absense of a mass removal of our stop signs I think that allowing bicyclists to slow down and then proceed only if it is safe makes the most sense.

    Police can enforce yield signs for cars so there is no reason to believe they won’t be capable of enforcing bicycists to yield. Sure they won’t catch every crazy rider, but they don’t catch all the crazy drivers either. I think they will be able to use the new law to deter dangerous behavior just as well as the can use the current law.

    I have not put much thought into changing the fee structure because I truly believe that both of these actions are safe and should be 100% legal.

    If people have other ideas about how to improve the quality of bicycling in Portland I think that is fantastic and I urge you to go for it. It has been a lot of fun working on this and a great opportunity to meet other people in the Portland bike community who want to make a positive difference.

    Bjorn

    also I’d like to thank Jonathan for providing a place for us all to talk about this and other bike related stuff.

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  • coyote February 12, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Rixtir, Post #39:

    “I would accept your proposal, in principle, as long as it was accompanied with very clear explanations of what was wha…”

    …whaa…whaa…whaa…whaa whaa….Sorry the whaambulance was driving by, what were you saying? No matter, go talk to a traffic cop, (it is pretty easy to do, just don’t be a D’head & take and interest in what they have to say) and you may find that most of time drivers/riders don’t get tickets for breaking the law; they get tickets for breaking the law & being jerks. The traffic cop’s mission is to correct unsafe behavior. Approached from this angle, this definition change is mostly moot.

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    Well, Bjorn, you certainly don’t have to listen to any dissenting viewpoints from within the cycling community, but that only guarantees that you’ll have opposition from within the cycling community.

    And how do you think that will play out in the larger society?

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  • tonyt February 12, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    Thanks Bjorn,

    It is frustrating when people argue about something that isn’t even being proposed.

    “Oh yeah, I saw a cyclist throw a wrapper on the ground! Cyclists shouldn’t complain about having trash thrown on them when they litter themselves!”

    People need to relax and talk about what is really being proposed. If you don’t understand something, ask darn question.

    There are many more uncontrolled intersections in this city than there are controlled intersections. For the most part, we’re all able to negotiate those without an issue.

    All that Bjorn is proposing is that under certain circumstances, a traffic light managed intersection should “revert” to a self-managed intersection when one is riding a bike.

    It’s not that radical folks.

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    tonyt, I understand what’s being proposed.

    Read his cryptic comments about “we are working on legislation that recognizes that ped/bikes are less dangerous, and less likely to cause injury to others.”

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  • BLDZR February 12, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    not that rixtir has ever viewed my comments about this very subject with anything but disdain, but I support Bjorn’s attempts at making the law sensible for people who are willing to take responsibility for themselves. make sure the coast is clear, and when it is, move safely through. how hard is that to comprehend? the problem is that there are myriad people, especially in portland, who would rather the law provide for them, and not worry about their responsibilities as individuals. (and no, I’m not a republican. Nor am I a democrat, a greenie, or of any other political affiliation. I’m just not some knee-jerk liberal that thinks the state can solve all my problems.)

    The point is, Idaho Style’s campaign makes sense: if the law is there to protect people, and not just to control them, then people should be able to move about freely and responsibly when there isn’t imminent danger. the fear of a cop with his lights turned off shouldn’t be the same as the fear of an oncoming driver.

    Perhaps it lessens my point because I’m not right out there with all of you sharing this experience, but living in New York the last year has cemented my belief that traffic laws don’t really protect anybody. all they do is generate revenue for the police department. sorry rixtir, but the man is not on your side.

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  • Aaron February 12, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    I would like to get contact info for Bjorn so that I may help support this campaign. I also appreciate Couger’s post. The first stop signal installed in New York was in 1912, 60 years after the bicycle.
    Rixtir – I recommned since you posit yourself to be more educated than the masses, that you remind us all of the physics equation I = M(V)squared.
    “It matters little to me, for example, if I’m run over by a Prius hybrid, or a Hummer.”

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  • tonyt February 12, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    Aaron,

    Nice paraphrasing of Ghandi! Props.

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    A) A Prius runs me down and breaks my leg;

    Am I entitled to less compensation for my injuries than if it had been a Hummer?

    B) A bicycle runs me down and breaks my leg;

    Am I entitled to less compensation for my injuries than if it had been a Prius?

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  • trike February 12, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    no no and no again yall dont get it think out side of portland. damnit the more of these special little laws you set up the more dangerious it is to ride in any other city.

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  • Qwendolyn February 12, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Congrats to Rixtir on getting through your first term of law school and thanks for sharing your wisdom with us.

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    Congrats to Qwendolyn for a textbook ad hominem argument.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 12, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    I’d just like to reiterate what Bjorn was saying in #45. Here’s what I think are the salient points:

    “No one is suggesting that bicyclists should be able to ride in a dangerous manner by doing things like almost running over pedestrians in a crosswalk, blowing through a red light at full speed, or even a stop sign at full speed for that manner. …Police can enforce yield signs for cars so there is no reason to believe they won’t be capable of enforcing bicycists to yield.”

    If you’re still not convinced, just ask yourself, “Is Boise being plagued by pedestrians being run-down and people being killed from a rash of cyclists ignoring traffic signals?”

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    A-O;

    First salient point, “failure to yield” is usually a citation issued *after* an accident, isn’t it? My point being that the risk of getting caught for dangerous behavior is so dramatically lowered when the only available charge is “failure to yield” that it is rarely, if ever, enforced except after the fact. That being the case, responsible cyclists will continue to ride responsibly under the proposed legislation, and irresponsible cyclists will see a dramatically lowered risk of penalty for their anti-social behavior. That doesn’t sound like cycling advocacy to me.

    Second, Jeremy addressed your point in post 11:

    “As an Idaho resident for 20 years (Portland resident for 9 years) I have cycled in several Idaho cities, including the three with the greatest populations (Boise, Pocatello and Idaho Falls). As a method of transportation and recreation, cycling on city streets in these cities is minimal at best. What little cycling there is, it is most prevalent on city greenbelts. I speculate that the minuscule number of street-level cyclists in these Idaho cities has a lot to do with the effectiveness of the law. Again, this is my speculation as I do not have ridership statistics to back up this opinion. I base my opinion on years of experience living in Idaho and riding on Idaho streets.”

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  • Elliot February 12, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    Burr: I am one of those four cyclists that comes to a full stop at every stop sign and I’m posting here… oh, and I’m in favor of this law change. 🙂

    It won’t drastically alter my style of riding on my commute, but letting me turn down the vehicular professionalism on my weekend rides will be much appreciated.

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  • Mike February 12, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    Just an observation…. Rixtir you REALLY seem argumentative. are you an attorney? are you playing devil’s advocate? do you see change within society as progress within a well though-out idea or some kind of disrespect for an existing statute?
    you are obviously very well educated, have good knowledge of history/legal statute and show excellent sentence structure. However, knowledge of history, a good vocab and impeccable English does not make for a socially conscious person.
    If youre in love with written law, I understand your argument, but dont have an extreme respect for your point. If you are a car driver I understand your argument even more and respect it even less. If youre a cyclist that feels existing laws protect all and youd like to see everyone live by them, I respect you more than the previous descriptions but still dont totally identify with you.
    thats the beauty of it all, we dont have to agree, but Id describe this site as a progressive site by cyclists for cyclists. Its awesome how all points of view are encouraged here to try and come up with well-rounded points of view. I dont completely reject your points of view, Rixtir, I just dont understand where your coming from, and I do have to say that I have my biases…. So, cyclists are always going to be my concern vs. cars and Im not going to rely on some 100yr old NY law when everything in the world has changed since then.

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  • Qwendolyn February 12, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    I was out of line post 55. I apologize.

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  • rixtir February 12, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    No problem Qwendolyn. My apology for biting back.

    Mike, I’ll have to respond another day, time for me to go. I’ll leave you with one thought though: My mother always encouraged me to be an attorney because….

    She said I like to argue. 😉

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 12, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    “[Tort law […] addresses what happens AFTER somebody has violated their duty not to harm me. Traffic fines address the penalty due if somebody violates a law that is intended to prevent that injury to me in the first place. the purpose of the fine isn’t to compensate me, or to weigh the potential damage to me– it’s to discourage behavior that has the potential to injure me.” #8

    “[R]esponsible cyclists will continue to ride responsibly under the proposed legislation, and irresponsible cyclists will see a dramatically lowered risk of penalty for their anti-social behavior.” #58

    You have conflated _a_ purpose of criminal law (discouraging “bad” behavior) and the purpose of tort _damages_ (compensation) with a primary purpose and, more importantly for purposes, _effect_ of both — punishing bad behavior. Because tort law is still in place, the “irresponsible cyclist” will still stand to suffer substantial penalties — even absent a criminal charge — from his/her bad behavior and thus the disincentivizing effect of the law will remain in place. As you I’m sure realize, the “yield” standard of conduct can be imported from the criminal statute to define the relevant standard of conduct, making a failure to yield instantly translatable into monetary damages via the negligence per se doctrine. Tort law aside, you have not provided any evidence that the “failure to yield” violation would provide for a substantially lower monetary penalty than violations applicable under the current law. Is this the case?

    Re Jeremy’s post, I question the relevance of the rate of cycling to your point re the effect of punishment of bad behavior from this change. If the bad behavior is no longer sufficiently disincentivized, then it should appear in salient incidents regardless of the rate of cycling.

    Also, I believe you have spent considerable time chastizing others for uninformed opinions, only to cite someone who states, “I speculate that…” and “I do not have ridership statistics to back up this opinion.” I’m sure you realize the irony of this. Also, it appears to me that the most likely reading of Jeremy’s post is that he has not lived in Boise or anywhere in Idaho for 9 years!

    To balance out the weight of his opinion, let me offer mine: My experience in Boise was different. When I went through there last summer, I found that there was greater than a “minuscule number of street-level cyclists.”

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  • Dabby February 12, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    Rixter,
    In reality, the real reason for yielding at stop signs comes down to it being safer to proceed through a intersection with momentum, instead of fully stopping, then slow rolling through it, probably weaving, and not ready to avoid trouble.
    Momentum is your friend, and allows you to get out of hairy situations.

    Bikes should not be classified as motor vehicles, and should have a completely different set of rules and ordinances.
    It is just too bad this was not handled years ago, for it will take us backwards aways in all the work done, but, once again, allow us to move properly forward, with momentum.

    I have so much more to say about some of the ludicrous comments above, such as comparing today in Portland to NY in 1907.
    I have this peach here, and I am going to make a apple pie with it.
    Anyway, if I say anything negative, rainperimeter will just complain to me about crapping on everything again.
    Not that I really care…
    I have much more info to give on these topics, let me know if you wanna hear it.

    Oh, if I were you, I would listen to BLDZER, strangely, he knows what he is talking about, when it comes to most things, as much as I hate to admit it….

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  • Scott Mizee February 13, 2007 at 4:47 am

    So… will I now be ‘more bikey’ when I whear my ‘IDAHO’ sweatshirt? 😛

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  • Jeremy February 13, 2007 at 8:43 am

    Attornatus_Oregonensis, to your post #63, you correctly deduced that my last daily-riding (commuting) experience in Idaho was in fact nine years ago. My more recent observations have been solely gleaned from visits to friends and family (in Pocatello, Boise and Idaho Falls). I appreciate your point, which is the fact that a great deal may have changed since I was last a daily cyclist in Idaho.

    My experience cycling in Boise is more recent but not as a daily commuter. Regardless, cyclists in the Boise city core (center) appeared to me to represent a small number, but again, as to your point, as a total percentage of people, Boise’s percentage may be equal to Portland.

    Additionally, I believe you are correct in clarifying/correcting the core of my assumption regarding bad behavior appearing in “…salient incidents regardless of the rate of cycling.”

    Good points and well presented.

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  • Matt P. February 13, 2007 at 9:44 am

    In response to Bjorn’s post #45″:

    I think you may be missing the point – rixtir and others know you aren’t advocating these things, but changing the law removes some of the disincentives against that type of behavior, and the argument is that with the disincentives removed, those types of behaviors will increase – i.e. changing the law will encourage cyclists to engage in risky behavior and the streets will be less safe for cyclists and pedestrians.

    As for women at stoplights late at night – that’s a very narrow view of things. In that situation, it would be perfectly legal for the woman to turn right on red, pedal a block over and make a left turn onto the next residential street – she’s safe, and only 1 block over from where she intended to be. The scenario you described means that even if it is a major road, traffic is light or non-existant. The idea that you *MUST* go straight, and that you have to be able to go through the signal rather than utilizing alternatives, is dangerous – it’s the same reason why drivers, after realizing they’re about to miss a turn they want, will cut off other drivers and cyclists to cut across 4 lanes of traffic at speed. Be aware of your surroundings, and know what your alternatives are when you’re in a situation you don’t want to be in / didn’t expect.

    AO, post 57:

    It’s dangerous to compare Idaho to Oregon, for the reasons given above – the environments are very different. The people are different. Portland has a lot of immigrants from places like New York, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. None of those cities are particularly bike-friendly, and have generated A: Hostile motorists, and B: Survivialist cyclists. Dump those into the local mix, and some will blend into the local bike and motorist culture, others will not. Our population is more heterogeneous and larger than Idaho’s, so the situation may be comparable, or it might not. Certainly, we can’t just apply the exact same solution they’ve used and expect it to work identically.

    I’m not saying we *shouldn’t* have this law, I’m just saying that it’s unlikely to work the same, and adjustments of some kind are likely to have to be made.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 13, 2007 at 10:09 am

    “[C]hanging the law will encourage cyclists to engage in risky behavior and the streets will be less safe for cyclists and pedestrians.”

    If this argument is to be believed, it must be supported by at least a scintilla of evidence from a jurisdiction where it has actually in effect. But NO ONE HAS PRESENTED ANY.

    Independent of actual evidence, its logic only holds if one subscribes to the mistaken view of how the legal incentives are operating, as I explain in #57.

    And hypotheticals must hold a distinctly lower weight where we have real-world examples — or a conspicuous lack of them — to guide our policy-making.

    “[T]the situation [in Idaho] may be comparable, or it might not.”

    Well, I guess that covers all the possibilities. But I totally disagree that “the environments are very different” if one is comparing Boise to Portland. We have the same basic traffic laws, the same kinds of streets, the same cars and trucks, the same bikes, and apparently Boise has ENOUGH cyclists that there was a perceived need for the law.

    It makes no sense to say that the law will encourage “bad” behavior because of the incentives it creates for people in the abstract and then say that it does not create those incentives in people in Boise but would in Portland. Even assuming that the local cultures are different, you have not explained how those differences would cause cyclists — who don’t already — to suddenly begin running red lights and stop signs, i.e., not yielding.

    Thus, I cannot see any support for your conclusion that it is “likely” that some “adjustments” will “have to be made” to fit the law to Portland.

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  • David February 13, 2007 at 11:47 am

    I did my first Portland bicycle commute after my car was stolen Monday night. I live near McMenamin’s Kennedy School and my job is in the Hollywood district. I have two options: I can go down NE 33rd and try to wedge myself between an endless and very dangerous stream of traffic and parked cars, or go down the neighborhood roads and encounter a stop sign every other block. Cars don’t use the neighborhood roads because of the stop signs and I don’t want to use the thoroughfares because of the cars. So I’m left with the stop signs and mostly empty intersections.

    Once a cyclist stops it is very difficult and time consuming to start again, especially on a hill. From a stop, a pedestrian can typically move through a narrow neighborhood intersection much more quickly than a cyclist, and if the pedestrian is slow, they are afforded the right of way. On a bicycle at a two way stop, after waiting for traffic to clear, by the time I reach the other side of the intersection I could have a speeding car bearing down on me. A speeding car can plow me over and legally I would be at fault! Slowing down to observe the intersection while maintaining enough momentum to quickly get through the intersection is the safest way for a cyclists to approach most neighborhood intersections. Cars, bicycles, and pedestrians are all very different forms of transportation and the law should respect those very obvious differences.

    The law is clearly written for the safety and convenience of cars and pedestrians, as most voters and lawmakers fall into those two categories on a daily basis. Cyclists are an overlooked and under protected minority class.

    rixtir, you have added a lot of insight to this conversation and done a great job of advocating your position, but do you recognize the problem and are you interested in a solution? Do you understand the plight of the bicycle commuter? Relaxing the law isn’t going to cause anyone to behave recklessly on a bicycle. If reckless cyclists don’t care about their own personal well being, why would fines change their behavior? We could use the “law as a deterrent” argument to justify any overly harsh and otherwise ridiculous law.

    As a new and very conscientious cyclist, I would feel safer if I could treat stop signs as yields I want to be safe, I want you to be safe, and the best way to accomplish that is to change the law.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 13, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Well put, David.

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  • Ian S. February 13, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    I agree, well said, David.

    rixtir would have us believe that this change in the law is NOT bicycle advocacy, because it has the hypothetical potential to impair one’s ability to receive financial compensation after a crash. Actually, it IS bicycle advocacy. Especially from a dollars and cents perspective. Note Carl’s excellent comment:

    “I am a responsible, safety-conscious cyclist who racks up $1,936 of potential traffic violations each morning for the 8 stop signs I roll through every morning on my 15 minute commute to work.”

    Is it not bicycle advocacy to protect cyclists from these ludicrous potential fines? I, for one, am far more encouraged to ride my bike by the thought of knowing I am safe from these kinds of ridiculous fines than I ever would be by the idea that I am hypothetically more likely to POSSILBLY recoup some money in the event of collision.

    Thanks to BLDZR and Dabby also for the insightful comments. Much agreed.

    I will be contacting my state legislators shortly to let them know that I strongly support this change to our laws. Thanks, Bjorn, for all your hard work.

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  • John Boyd February 13, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Rixter, you must be a plant to get us fired up about supporting this effort and I’m thusly manipulated!

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  • Jonathan Maus February 13, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    I’d like to publish a pro-con debate about this proposed law change.

    I think David’s comment (#69) is the best “pro” I’ve heard. That comment will suffice for the “pro” argument.

    Would someone be interested in writing a “con” statement?

    Rixtir perhaps? Or someone else.

    Contact me if you’re interested.

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  • Garlynn February 13, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Matt, post #67:
    “As for women at stoplights late at night – that’s a very narrow view of things. In that situation, it would be perfectly legal for the woman to turn right on red, pedal a block over and make a left turn onto the next residential street – she’s safe, and only 1 block over from where she intended to be.”

    According to my understanding of the law, that woman could do something even simpler: Make a right turn, make a U-turn, make another right turn on the green light, continue going. The “U-turn” need only occur past the crosswalk zone.

    However, this does not change the fact that it would still be simpler to change the law to allow bicyclists to stop, look both directions, then proceed if traffic is absent.

    Also, as David points out, the stop sign effect cannot be forgotten. It would be safer for everybody to clarify, in the law, that bicycles can coast through stops signs by treating them as yield signs (though, as I pointed out in another post, I think there should be some specific mention for 4-way stops as to what happens in this situation. Most yield signs are not opposite stop signs, so I’m not sure there is precedent. Some clarifying language might be helpful).

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  • DJ February 13, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    I just read through all of these. It took awhile. All but a few were totally off topic, but as for the ones that weren’t there were fewer voices against the law change. It may be falacious, but doesn’t that mean its a good idea to allow bikes to yield? That said, my final comment is BIKES ARE NOT CARS!

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  • Anonymous February 13, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    There are two separate lines of reasoning being argued in the responses to this article. For now, I would like to limit my response to one of those lines of reasoning, because I think it’s the most dangerous to cycling. That line of reasoning addresses the argument being made regarding bicycles and the law. I’ll start with the original comment from Bjorn, even though I’ve already responded to it, just so we have some context as to WHY we’re having this discussion in the first place.

    1) Bjorn states: “It was convenient for lawmakers to just classify bicycles as a vehicle, but clearly there are big differences between a semi truck and a bike.”

    As I’ve explained already, this view of the law is backwards. Bicycles were classified as vehicles before cars ever appeared on the scene. The reason for the classification was two-fold: Some argued that bicycles had no right to the road—or the sidewalk, for that matter. In their view, the road was reserved for vehicles, and the sidewalk was reserved for pedestrians. By classifying bicycles as vehicles, the law gave cyclists equal right to the road. The second reason for the classification was because some bicyclists had no respect for the other users of the road—pedestrians were being run down with regularity, vehicles were being cut off with regularity, and nobody was sure whether or not the existing traffic law applied to bicycles, because nobody knew whether bicycles were vehicles or not. By classifying bicycles as vehicles, the duties of cyclists to other users of the road were also established. If the law classifying bicycles as vehicles had not been established, prohibitions on the bicycle could easily have been written into the law. The seminal law on the rights and duties of bicyclists was developed around 1887, first in the New York legislature, and then, beginning in 1888, in the courts.

    For comparison, the automobile was invented by Karl Benz in 1885, but didn’t make its first appearance on U.S. roads until about 1895, and didn’t really begin to appear on the scene until about 1905. When the automobile began appearing on the roads, the traffic principles that had been applied and developed for bicycles was adopted and applied to automobiles.

    Any argument that the law “was written for cars” is both wrong, and dangerous. Bicycles were here first, and the law was written for them. We make the false argument that the law wasn’t written for bicycles at the peril of anti-cyclists adopting that false argument in order to restrict our rights to the road.

    2) Rainperimeter states: “how do you possibly think you might make cycling in portland better in 2007 if you don’t know what cycling in nyc was like in 1907?”

    And

    Mike states: “ So, cyclists are always going to be my concern vs. cars and Im not going to rely on some 100yr old NY law when everything in the world has changed since then.”

    And

    Dabby states: “Bikes should not be classified as motor vehicles, and should have a completely different set of rules and ordinances. It is just too bad this was not handled years ago, for it will take us backwards aways in all the work done, but, once again, allow us to move properly forward, with momentum. I have so much more to say about some of the ludicrous comments above, such as comparing today in Portland to NY in 1907.”

    First, bicycles are not, and have never been classified as “motor vehicles.” Bicycles are classified as “vehicles.” There’s a difference. Bicycles are subject to traffic law, because they are a part of traffic, as are pedestrians, driven animals, and motor vehicles. Bicycles are not subject to “motor vehicle” law.

    Second, the First Amendment was written in Philadelphia in 1789; are any of you prepared to argue that the First Amendment is irrelevant to your right to free speech or your right to freedom of assembly in Portland in 2007, because it was written in Philadelphia in 1789? Would you seriously make that argument in Court if you were arrested for voicing your opinion, or for assembly, in the Portland of 2007?

    The early statutes and bicycle cases established your right to the road today, and the fact that you’ve had a legal right to the road since 1887—not 1907—strengthens, rather than weakens, your argument that you have a legal right to the road today—one which predates whatever rights have been accorded to automobiles.

    Here’s one example of how myopic your argument is: In 1885, a cyclist riding down the road in Indiana frightened a team of horses; the driver was injured, and sued. The court held (in 1889) that a bicycle is a vehicle, and that “to declare their use upon the highway a nuisance would prohibit their use in the manner in which they are intended.” In 1894, The Minnesota Supreme Court held that a bicycle is a vehicle, and that “a person riding a bicycle upon the public highway has the same rights in so doing as persons using other vehicles thereon.” Now fast forward to 2005: A truck driver in Kentucky makes an unsafe pass, colliding with a bicyclist and knocking her off her bike. The driver argues that it’s not his duty to be careful when passing her, it’s her duty to let him pass; the jury agrees. In reaching this verdict, the jurors discussed whether a reasonable bicyclist would have pulled off of the side of the road to allow a large vehicle to pass. The Kentucky Supreme Court held “Clearly that is not the law.” And why is it “not the law”? Because the courts held that it’s not the law, beginning in the 1880’s.

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  • rixtir February 13, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    There are two separate lines of reasoning being argued in the responses to this article. For now, I would like to limit my response to one of those lines of reasoning, because I think it’s the most dangerous to cycling. That line of reasoning addresses the argument being made regarding bicycles and the law. I’ll start with the original comment from Bjorn, even though I’ve already responded to it, just so we have some context as to WHY we’re having this discussion in the first place.

    1) Bjorn states: “It was convenient for lawmakers to just classify bicycles as a vehicle, but clearly there are big differences between a semi truck and a bike.”

    As I’ve explained already, this view of the law is backwards. Bicycles were classified as vehicles before cars ever appeared on the scene. The reason for the classification was two-fold: Some argued that bicycles had no right to the road—or the sidewalk, for that matter. In their view, the road was reserved for vehicles, and the sidewalk was reserved for pedestrians. By classifying bicycles as vehicles, the law gave cyclists equal right to the road. The second reason for the classification was because some bicyclists had no respect for the other users of the road—pedestrians were being run down with regularity, vehicles were being cut off with regularity, and nobody was sure whether or not the existing traffic law applied to bicycles, because nobody knew whether bicycles were vehicles or not. By classifying bicycles as vehicles, the duties of cyclists to other users of the road were also established. If the law classifying bicycles as vehicles had not been established, prohibitions on the bicycle could easily have been written into the law. The seminal law on the rights and duties of bicyclists was developed around 1887, first in the New York legislature, and then, beginning in 1888, in the courts.

    For comparison, the automobile was invented by Karl Benz in 1885, but didn’t make its first appearance on U.S. roads until about 1895, and didn’t really begin to appear on the scene until about 1905. When the automobile began appearing on the roads, the traffic principles that had been applied and developed for bicycles was adopted and applied to automobiles.

    Any argument that the law “was written for cars” is both wrong, and dangerous. Bicycles were here first, and the law was written for them. We make the false argument that the law wasn’t written for bicycles at the peril of anti-cyclists adopting that false argument in order to restrict our rights to the road.

    2) Rainperimeter states: “how do you possibly think you might make cycling in portland better in 2007 if you don’t know what cycling in nyc was like in 1907?”

    And

    Mike states: “ So, cyclists are always going to be my concern vs. cars and Im not going to rely on some 100yr old NY law when everything in the world has changed since then.”

    And

    Dabby states: “Bikes should not be classified as motor vehicles, and should have a completely different set of rules and ordinances. It is just too bad this was not handled years ago, for it will take us backwards aways in all the work done, but, once again, allow us to move properly forward, with momentum. I have so much more to say about some of the ludicrous comments above, such as comparing today in Portland to NY in 1907.”

    First, bicycles are not, and have never been classified as “motor vehicles.” Bicycles are classified as “vehicles.” There’s a difference. Bicycles are subject to traffic law, because they are a part of traffic, as are pedestrians, driven animals, and motor vehicles. Bicycles are not subject to “motor vehicle” law.

    Second, the First Amendment was written in Philadelphia in 1789; are any of you prepared to argue that the First Amendment is irrelevant to your right to free speech or your right to freedom of assembly in Portland in 2007, because it was written in Philadelphia in 1789? Would you seriously make that argument in Court if you were arrested for voicing your opinion, or for assembly, in the Portland of 2007?

    The early statutes and bicycle cases established your right to the road today, and the fact that you’ve had a legal right to the road since 1887—not 1907—strengthens, rather than weakens, your argument that you have a legal right to the road today—one which predates whatever rights have been accorded to automobiles.

    Here’s one example of how myopic your argument is: In 1885, a cyclist riding down the road in Indiana frightened a team of horses; the driver was injured, and sued. The court held (in 1889) that a bicycle is a vehicle, and that “to declare their use upon the highway a nuisance would prohibit their use in the manner in which they are intended.” In 1894, The Minnesota Supreme Court held that a bicycle is a vehicle, and that “a person riding a bicycle upon the public highway has the same rights in so doing as persons using other vehicles thereon.” Now fast forward to 2005: A truck driver in Kentucky makes an unsafe pass, colliding with a bicyclist and knocking her off her bike. The driver argues that it’s not his duty to be careful when passing her, it’s her duty to let him pass; the jury agrees. In reaching this verdict, the jurors discussed whether a reasonable bicyclist would have pulled off of the side of the road to allow a large vehicle to pass. The Kentucky Supreme Court held “Clearly that is not the law.” And why is it “not the law”? Because the courts held that it’s not the law, beginning in the 1880’s.

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  • Jonathan Maus February 13, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    OK, rixtir has volunteered to pen the “con” and I’ll just paraphrase David’s comment (#69) for the “pro”. David, if you’d like to add something and offer your last name, please get in touch.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 13, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    “Any argument that the law “was written for cars” is both wrong, and dangerous. … We make the false argument that the law wasn’t written for bicycles at the peril of anti-cyclists adopting that false argument in order to restrict our rights to the road.”

    It seems blindingly obvious that no one is arguing that the law was written for cars before they were invented, i.e., that the law of vehicles was originally written for cars. I think it’s clear that people are arguing that MODERN VEHICLE LAW HAS BEEN DRASTICALLY REVISED TO FAVOR THE AUTOMOBILE and, because of the preeminence of the automobile throughout the latter 20th century, the law of vehicles developed in a way that does not account for the unique position of cyclists and in fact discourages cycling.

    And this is the point that you seem to have repeatedly missed: This change in the law creates a distinct incentive to cycling by (a) allowing folks like David to more easily, efficiently, and SAFELY get from point A to B, and (b) not exposing cyclists, given their unique situation, to hefty fines for moving safely through a transportation system that was designed for automobiles.

    Remember, the goal is a public policy that promotes cycling. Perhaps you disagree that the benefit of this change does not outweigh your perceived detriment, but you haven’t even considered any balancing of the two. I think that’s something you should do.

    Also, I believe that the risk you perceive is not real. Your own KY 2005 JNOV example is Exhibit A in support of my view.

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  • rixtir February 13, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    A-O, when people talk about how difficult it is to cycle because they have to– gasp!– obey the law, and that therefore they need incentives, I wonder just how I was able to cycle commute for all those years, in a city that wasn’t nearly as bike-friendly as this.

    I really think that’s overstating the case, to be honest. Yes, the proposed law makes it *easier* to cycle, given that every block in some sections of this short-block city has a stop sign. But people need the law changed as an “incentive” to ride? The law change makes cycling “safer”? Please. I’ve been riding a long time, obeying the law, with no observable disincentives and lack of safety for doing so.

    Second, the basic traffic principles haven’t changed since before bicycles appeared on the road. The appearance of the automobile hasn’t changed that. Which laws have been “drastically revised to favor the automobile”? Is there a specific law you have in mind?

    Third, KY 2005 JNOV came out the way it did because of a century’s worth of jurisprudence that counters what a jury biased against cycling believes to be the law. If those seminal right to the road cases didn’t exist, jury bias against cyclists could just as easily have been upheld as it was overturned.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 13, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    “[P]eople need the law changed as an ‘incentive’ to ride?”

    No. The law change provides an incentive; an incremental one, but an incentive nevertheless.

    “The law change makes cycling ‘safer’?”

    Nope; didn’t say that. I said the law allows more efficient travel that is still safe.

    “Which laws have been ‘drastically revised to favor the automobile’? Is there a specific law you have in mind?”

    I’m so glad you asked. The $250 fine for failure to come to a complete stop at a stop sign is the best example I can think of. It sets a hefty fine — one that is doubtless much higher on an annualized dollar basis than traffic fines levied at the beginning of the 20th century — because policy makers believe that larger fines are needed to create a more effective deterrent when most people are operating vehicles that are so dangerous, i.e., automobiles.

    Sorry about leading you down the garden path on that one, but you kept ignoring it. Also, I could have better made my point there had I said that “transportation infrastructure” was drastically revised, rather than “laws” because both revisions have created a hostile environment for cyclists, but the infrastructure changes are more salient and more dramatic in their marginalization of cycling. An example of the two working together might be bike lanes.

    “If those seminal right to the road cases didn’t exist, jury bias against cyclists could just as easily have been upheld as it was overturned.”

    I don’t get your point. Since they DO exist, the verdict cannot be upheld. Therefore, there is no risk that cyclists will lose in court due to the bias of motorists who choose to ignore the law.

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  • JayS, February 13, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    As I see it, momentum keeps you moving in a straight line. Being predicatable to other road users is paramount for saftey. Moving in a straight line is predicatble. Therfore Maintaining momentum is safe (as long as one continues to be aware of and maintane safe distance from other road users and pedestrians).

    When I have my two kids on my bike I absolutly yield for stop signs, at arterials I stop. If I don’t have to stop (put my foot down) I feel much more controlled. With 80lbs of kid on my bike when I do stop I inevitably have some wobbel starting back up. This means my actions are less predictable to the cars that arrived while I was waiting for traffic to pass or being cautious in a busy area. If no cars are present in my path or crossing my path and I don’t have to come to a complete stop I feel safer, especially when another vehicle is approaching from behind.

    I didn’t notice anyone comment on the fact that some stop lights dont have triggers that bikes can activate. I regularly encounter an intersection that will not change for a bike, most cars don’t travel forward on that path they turn right. The right turn cars start the signal changing but when they leave the trigger the signal reverts to it’s apparent default setting of green for the arterial and continues as red for the lesser traveled street. If this isn’t indicative of the priority placed on auto commuting I don’t know what is. So my light doesn’t change. I continue to wait and pray that a car arrives that is traveling forward and not turning. Should I have to get off the street push the walk signal get back on the street to cross on the green? That is what I do when alone. When my daughter is stoking she acts as trunk monkey jumping off hitting the signal and jumping back on by the time the light changes. Personaly I find both options very unsafe and frusterating. Some might say I should wait on the roadway. I have done this and stayed in the same spot for many minutes and many cars turning right in front of me. If the legislation regaurding stop lights passes I could travel in a much safer manner and the city would not need to spend money making every trigger bike activated or adding more cross walk buttons street side (not on the signal like most are).

    JayS.

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  • Dave Thomson February 13, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    I strongly believe that cyclists should be treated the same under law as motorized vehicle. This is the only real way to ensure that we don’t end up getting laws written restricting our use of the road. As such I will continue to urge my representatives to reject any legislation that creates special rights or restrictions for cyclists.

    I am also against creating a special “at risk” group for cyclists. That is just giving ammunition to those that think we shouldn’t be on the road to start with.

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  • Elly February 13, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Hey lawyer types on here,
    *IS* there any legal danger of the scenario in comment #83? That is, that passing a law that treats bicyclists as different from cars could be used as leverage to restrict bicyclists’ rights to the road? Any precedent you know of?

    We do already have separate statutes governing bicycles (lighting requirements, signalling, helmets required for riders under 16, and a few others). Have any of these laws had a deleterious effect, just by nature of being specifically for bikes? Would this proposed legislation be different?

    Thanks!

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  • West Cougar February 13, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Elly, you answer your own question.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 13, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    Elly, the answer to all of your questions is a resounding, “No.” In fact, this is not a legal issue at all. It is a political issue.

    The opinion that cyclists being treated “the same under law as motorized vehicle[s] …. is the only real way to ensure that we don’t end up getting laws written restricting our use of the road” is nonsensical and misinformed, IMHO. As you point out, we already have separate statutes governing bicycles. There are numerous instances of this. One obvious examples is that, under certain conditions bicycles are required to move to the right to let cars pass, but cars are not required to do so.

    The recent political trend has been in the direction for increased rights for cyclists, not less. That will only continue if people like you, Elly, keep doing what you’re doing! Although there is an organized lobby at the state and national levels that occasionally (when it doesn’t creat a perception of “meanness”) oppose innovative changes in the law by cycling advocates, such as this change, there is no lobby that advocates for restricting cyclists’ rights.

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  • rixtir February 13, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    Elly, I would agree that legislation that differentiates between bicycles and automobiles doesn’t in and of itself act as leverage to remove us from the road. The law already differentiates between bicycles and motor vehicles in numerous ways.

    On the other hand, I think that “pro-bicycle” arguments based on the misinformed notion that bicycles are not vehicles COULD be used by anti-cyclists to remove us from the road.

    A-O, you have completely distorted and misquoted my position on what the law re vehicles is. At no point have I said, as you have misquoted me, “cyclists being treated ‘the same under law as motorized vehicle[s] …. is the only real way to ensure that we don’t end up getting laws written restricting our use of the road’”

    Once more, for those who weren’t paying attention, bicycles are vehicles. Automobiles are motor vehicles. Bicycles have a right to the road BECAUSE they are vehicles. Any argument that bicycles are NOT vehicles undermines our right to the road.

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  • rixtir February 13, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    Ah, my mistake A-O, I see you were responding to another poster that I missed.

    I wish we could edit these posts…

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  • LuckyLab February 13, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    Elly #84 – There is as much likelihood of a law restricting bicycle access coming out of left field since bicycles already have separate statutes regarding their use.

    It seems there are really two camps among the cycling community:
    1) Bikes are vehicles, just like cars, and should behave just like cars (not realistic or practical for the vast majority of cyclists).
    2) Bikes are different and deserve special treatment, sometimes (which times seems debatable).

    I am having a bit of a hard time with rixtir’s argument in part because most of the great points made are not applicable in the current state of traffic practices. Cyclists are the new horse and buggy. It’s the cars and big trucks doing the harm to us, despite our lengthy and lawful history of being roadway users.

    Since we are speaking historically, signs of all kinds, including, and for this discussion especially, stop signs were not as prevalent for various reasons including speed and volume of traffic, traffic patterns, community members’ complaints, etc. (Feels like a song sometimes… signs, signs, everywhere the signs…) in the very recent past. Nearly all signage changes are the direct result of trying to prevent dangerous behaviors amongst auto drivers with the unintended consequence of affecting bicycle traffic flow. The largest impacts are in engineered auto traffic patterns designed to limit the flow or *auto* traffic.

    These measures simply correct what I see as a deliberate oversight by traffic engineers of other lawful roadway users ability to use the roadway.

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  • SafeRider February 13, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    p = mv–otherwise known as vector linear momentum; equal to the mass of an object multiplied by its velocity, and has the same direction as the velocity vector.

    momentum has been one of the most convincing arguments for allowing cyclists to yield at stops signs, in my opinion. if a cyclist is alert, navigating an intersection is orders of magnitude (in my estimation) safer than crossing from a complete stop.

    the cyclist’s attention should be focused on getting through the intersection in the safest possible manner, not on overcoming his/her own inertia, looking down at the pedal clips/cages, etc.

    as for being hit by a car: if they are both moving at the same speed, i would much rather be hit by a prius. better yet, a responsible, cooperative prius driver at that. i was recently hit by a person driving a mercedes benz. ironically, it was he who rolled through a stop sign and did not see me coming (even with my flashing LED headlight). luckily, my reflexes were active enough and the pannier was so stuffed full of shock absorbing gear, there was no major damage. also, the man was very responsible and cooperative. i hope that we can all come to the understanding that many bicyclists are choosing to ride for many good reasons. even though i could afford to drive an auto, i choose to ride my bike everyday almost 20 miles. it should be easier for those of us who sacrifice certain luxuries in order to try to help make a positive difference. that’s what many of us are trying to do.

    i think this movement toward allowing cyclists to yield at stop signs is gaining momentum. the law of conservation of momentum states that linear momentum is unchanged if no unbalanced forces act on the particle. therefore we need only maintain our current state of action. if our mass decreases, we will increase our velocity. if our velocity decreases, we will increase our mass.

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  • Garlynn February 14, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Well, I believe that I may have answered my own question. A quick Google search reveals that I have not, however, re-invented the wheel.

    The solution for the four-way stop situation, indeed, for any stop sign, is to mount a smaller sign below the stop sign. This sign would be a yield sign with a bicycle on it, as demonstrated here:

    http://www.velorution.biz/images/Velorution%20-%20Yield%20sign%20held%20by%20girls%20small.jpg

    …and elaborated on here:

    http://undergroundscience.blogspot.com/2006/12/lets-expand-idahos-bicycle-code.html

    Thoughts?

    cheers,
    ~Garlynn

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  • Dabby February 14, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    I was pulled over last night, at the intersection of NE Sandy, and Ne Fremont, up near 72nd avenue, at around 11:30.
    I had just waited, a good little amount of time, then rolled through that huge intersection, (it is like a six way one).
    I had seen a police car behind me a few blocks, so I acted like I didn’t even know he was there.
    A few blocks later, he pulled me over.
    After starting to explain to him in a panic that I could have sat at that light for quite a while, and it would never change on me, he stopped me.
    He said he knew about bikes and some lights, and he didn’t consider that a problem.
    He agreed with me that I did the right thing by proceeding through it, especially since now in town, and especially up in that neighborhood, it is not even safe to be out on the street, especially alone on a bike, that late.
    He then asked me about my bike lights.
    I explained that once again they had been stolen, and I was waiting to be able to afford new ones.
    He then stated that he really stopped me because seeing a bike on that street, with no lights, raises a red flag, and he wanted to make sure I was not a un-desireable.
    He even checked out my fixed gear, and spoke briefly of the no brakes issues (I use no redundant hand brake) going on, but he obviously did not agree with the view of some (or two) policemen.
    After running my license, and a quick moment of freakout ( another John Campbell, but with hazel eyes not blue, and blonde hair not red, had a huge warrant out for him) he sent me on my way home, which was mere blocks.
    Even though I do not like being questioned, it was a very pleasant experience (besides the almost arrested part).
    I learned a number of things from it.
    1. Even some police agree with yielding, then going through stop signs, and even more, major red light intersections.
    2. The majority of police seem to agree that a fixed gear bike has a brake.
    3. They also understand the criminal mindset, and are not surprised at all that someone would steal something as petty as a little bike light.
    4. If you are straight forward, and honest, even with admitting to 3 or 4 violations, you can still ride right along home, without a citation.

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  • Garlynn February 15, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Dabby-

    Thanks for that post, it’s always heartening to hear of a good/positive interaction with Portland’s Finest, especially with relation to bicycles. I’m also very glad to hear that you weren’t ticketed for safely proceeding through a red light intersection. And, it’s also good to hear that the cops really do want you to be using bicycle lights, but aren’t out there to make life hard for you!

    cheers,
    ~Garlynn

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  • Dabby February 15, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    I think many of you are missing the point that, with a separation between cars and motor vehicles, we will be able to have laws written that “do” protect us.
    Instead of being scared of change, and how laws will be written to be used against us, we need to go into it with the proper mind set, which is to have laws written to protect us.
    If you crawl into a hole to hide, all someone has to do is through dirt in on top of you, and it’s over.
    If you dig a whole, plant a nice pole with a sign at eye level, proclaiming what you have to say, more will be forced to read it and pay attention, and the dirt will have to be piled a lot higher to cover it up.
    Fear of change is our enemy.
    Confidence breeds security, and safety.

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  • trike February 16, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Ok folks this is my take: if you make Stop signs a yield for bikes here in Portland and then i ride to Toronto and i am not at my best and pull a little to far out in the lane then i get to be Pizza. This may sound really simple but fact is when we need to react we do it from our bodies not our brains; and while our brain is trying to figure out if the intersection is safe to roll on through the body is already on its way because you taught it not to stop.

    (this is a really good method of retroactive abortion; it’s like war only we do it to our selves)

    the other problem here is the driver; if a driver sees us roll through a stop (as so many already do) then it becomes easy for them to feel like they can do the same. or that we are getting better treatment (it is nice to be on this forum and not on forums with lots of drivers). we are already seen as the problem by the driver we need a way to make peace for a while or at least agree to not kill each other.

    the legalistic arguments are fine in a court room and in front of a judge but the car and driver that has just crushed your chest with his Subaru could care less; all that is in his or her mind is if the insurance is gonna pay out. as has been stated so many times at the accident the driver is all about how you are doing? but as soon as the driver gets home they go and hire some over paid low life to rep them to the judge and we get to pay with our lives.

    (sorry law guys this ain’t a court martial this is how well you talk to the judge or if you let him win in gulf its not about justice or real law)

    As i posted before Tonnage rules and bikes just don’t have the tonnage to make mistakes like running a light or stop sign with out really good reasons.

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  • rajman May 13, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    There is a big difference between the ‘average’ rolling stop by either bike or car through a stop sign, and ignoring the stop altogether.

    The emphasis on a full stop is clearer when it is a four way stop (vs. a two way stop with a through intersection).

    It seems to me that the insistence on a full stop at a four way stop (as opposed to a slow down to

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  • Scott Mizée January 15, 2009 at 10:04 am

    I’m glad to see this is on the docket again, Bjorn. Keep up the good work!

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