The Transportation Options division within PDOT is taking a proactive approach to promote courtesy between users of crowded paths like the Eastbank Esplanade and the Hawthorne Bridge.
They’ve planned a series of events designed to,
“Raise awareness, encourage courtesy, and promote harmony on bicycle and pedestrian paths.”
The campaign kicks off this Thursday with a Bicycle Bell Giveaway, which will build on the success of a similar event back in May.
Here’s the schedule:
Bicycle Bell Giveaway
Thursday, July 19, 7 – 9 am
Bike Gallery staff will install free bike bells on the Hawthorne Bridge to encourage cyclists to use an audible warning before passing.
Bicycle Brown Bag (special field trip edition)
Thursday, July 19, noon – 1 pm
presented by PDOT, Transportation Options Division
Meet at the Portland Building, ride to Eastbank Esplanade to observe and discuss issues for cyclists and pedestrians sharing off-street paths; brainstorm ways to encourage courtesy & respect among all users. Review the new Share the Path brochure, produced by PDOT and Portland Parks.
Raising Awareness on the Esplanade
Saturday, July 21, 10 am – noon
(Presented by the BTA and Transportation Options, with support from River City Bicycles; additional support from Staccato Gelato)
- Staff and volunteers from the BTA and Transportation Options will distribute the the new Share the Path brochure.
- Bells will be installed on bikes for free, to encourage using audible warnings when passing.
- Burma-Shave style signs and walking billboards will highlight the need to be aware of other users and use “trail smarts”.
- Tokens for Staccato Gelato ice cream will be distributed to trail users showing courtesy (the Freezy Rider will be present on the Esplanade for instant gratification)
Wondering how you can be more courteous on the paths? Here are some tips from PDOT:
- use audible warnings
- respect others’ right-of-way
- stay to the right
- leave space for others to pass
This reminds me of a discussion we had in March or so about maybe having cyclists go for a group stroll on the Esplanade to see how it felt to be a pedestrian – I\’m glad to see that it may happen . . .
Re: \”using audible warnings,\” I\’ve found that when coming up behind pedestrians on multi-use paths when I ring a bell they often nearly jump out of their skins trying to get out of the way. This when I\’m just trying to let them know I\’m passing them (not telling them to get out of my way).
I feel bad about that, so I\’ve taken to instead shifting my gears up and down as I approach. People hear the click-click-click and know a bike\’s coming, but don\’t take it as a demand that they move.
I\’m sure there\’s flaws in this approach. Like if someone walks in front of me and I\’ve only made my clickity noise, I\’d be held liable because I hadn\’t met some technical definition of \”audible warning\”.
Maybe some education could be directed at the peds so that they know what a bell means. It doesn\’t mean dive for cover, it just means there\’s a bike approaching. Perhaps if signs suggested that bikers give audible warnings, it would give some clue to peds what that bell noise means.
I’ve recently heard that in some countries, like Germany, they only ring bells when there’s about to be a collision (not when there’s plenty of room to pass safely) and so peds will leap off a pathway for fear of being hit, so you might have been passing German tourists?
The bell I use is great because it allows me to modulate the intensity of the ring.
When coming up behind a walker, I\’ll just give it a soft, non-confrontational jingle…not the loud, incessant ring I\’ll use to get a motorist\’s attention.
Last week I saw a guy CRUISE by me in a busy Waterfront Park going at least 25MPH, hands in racing position (in the middle of the bike), nowhere near the brakes. I couldn\’t believe it.
Then, just as I was thinking how dangerous he was being, a cyclist heading the other direction got hit in the head by a pigeon (seriously, I saw it, it was bizarre), swerved wildly and they smashed into each other. Sure, I guess it was technically the other guy\’s \”fault\”, but there\’s just no excuse for racing through busy areas filled with pedestrians and novice cyclists.
Of course, there are large numbers of walkers and runners (not to mention other cyclists) using headphones, who are generally not too responsive to my bell… perhaps the city could hand out flare guns.
Or to be a little less flippant, I do find that the bike only / ped only strips westbound on the Hawthorne Bridge are fairly effective (not that I haven\’t seen plenty of people resolutely ignoring them, but at least they attempt to reinforce the distinction). How well they\’d scale up to larger stretches of shared-use path is hard to guess at.
That\’s it, I\’m installing an air horn on my bike! TAKE THAT PED! OUTTA MY WAY!
(just kidding, but for cars, that may be more appropriate? lol)
There is a similar meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, 7/18) at Mt. Tabor, more specifically for Mt. Tabor bike/ped issues, at A shelter, right across from the parking lot and playground. Snacks at 5:30 pm and meeting with panel discussion at 6:00pm. Will include parks people, police, pdot, etc. Hopefully any good ideas could be used at other multi-use places as well. Here\’s the link for an earlier article about it:
Everyone encouraged to attend!
I use my bell – a nice, friendly, non-confrontational \”ding ding\” – and rarely have I seen a pedestrian startle at the sound. Often the pedestrians thank me for letting them know I was coming. I also understand that just because I ring my bell, the pedestrian has no obligation to move out of my way – they have the right of way, and if I can\’t pass safely, I just have to wait my turn. All I really want is for them to know I am coming so they can (1) move out of my way if they want to or (2) at least hold their line and not dart in front of me if I am passing.
When I am walking and a biker gives me an audible warning, I thank him or her – positive reinforcement is a good thing. When a biker buzzes me WITHOUT warning, I yell \”On your right.\” I am sure it doesn\’t cause the biker to rethink his or her approach, because if they were the sort to care they would have given me notice in the first place, but it gives me a chance to vent . . .
When a biker buzzes me WITHOUT warning, I yell \”On your right.\”
I like it!
I\’m installing an air horn on my bike!… for cars, that may be more appropriate?
A bell makes a lot of sense for letting a pedestrian know you\’re there, and an air horn makes a lot of sense for letting a car know you\’re there (especially if you\’re about to get crunched by an inattentive driver.).
I saw a guy teaching his kid how to ride a bike-on the WRONG side of the bridge.
\”I feel bad about that, so I\’ve taken to instead shifting my gears up and down as I approach.\”
That\’s an awful lot of wear and tear on your shifters, and would only work if you have index shifting that clicks, and then only if it has a pretty loud click – I think I\’ll stick with my happy bell.
Just as we suggest to motorists to slow down and not be in such a hurry to get around us, we have an obligation to extend to pedestrians the same courtesy.
However, as the Hawthorne Bridge becomes an increasingly vital route for bicycle commuters, and not just a recreational thoroughfare, we might think of how to accommodate higher speed and higher density bike traffic as well as peds. I hate that the car-heads try to pit one group of car-free people against another, so let\’s screw up their plans and unite with the peds!
I\’m in 100% agreement with you peejay.
When I used to just give one ring right before I passed I\’d occationally get someone who would literally jump off the path, or right up to the fence because the bell scared them.
I\’ve started giving people a ring early, say a good 10 seconds before I pass them. Alot of joggers give me a thumbs up and I know they know what is going on so I pass like normal. If I don\’t get any response I give one more as I close in and pass. I think the two rings help give them information regarding how fast I am coming in and the first one is faint enough in the distance that it doesn\’t scare them. Using this technique I have yet to have someone get spooked by the bell.
Ha, ha, ha!!!! I like how the sign tells cyclists how to behave. On more than one occasion it has been the pedestrian being unsafe, cutting in front of me, refusing to move over, etc. Use smaller letters and indicate that all users need to watch out for one another!!!
I\’ve had the exact same experience with my bell as Cecil as he describes in #8. When I first got the bell I was a little hesitant and worried about how people would respond, but the responses have been almost entirely positive. This is how it has worked in Japan for decades. Pedestrians just keep walking normally, but aware of my presence. I think it is great!
Speaking of bells in Japan, a company has started selling one (in many different colored straps) that’s more like a “bear bell” that back-packers use to make a jingling noise as they hike to scare off wild animals before they get too close. It straps to your handlebars and simply dangles and jingles as you ride along. Brilliant and works well from the times I’ve used it on our ped-rich paths around here. Can’t locate any of them online… darn. Guess they’re not available here yet. I’ll have to take some good pics of mine and post them.
Thinking back the bell I used to have, it was one of those mountain bike bells that had a striker you\’d flick against the bell. Lighter than the old-fashioned bells, I guess, but hard to get a friendly little \”ding-ding\” out of it. Instead it went \”DING!\” That might explain the diving pedestrians.
There is also a cultural aspect to the interpretation of a bell ring. I have a friend who just got back from biking all over Holland and he observed that over there the rule is – between bikers anyway – that a bell ring is less a simple warning and more a quite specific statement: \”get out of the way please, I\’d like to pass.\” I can see how some pedestrians would take even a quiet, friendly ring to mean the same thing.
Where\’s the sign that says \”Pedestrians convicted of proceding three abreast with little apparent situational awareness shall be made to walk the plank on the floating pathway\”
Because when those go up, I\’m taking a spanner and adding it to my dormroom wall collection. Toot sweet.
As for bells, I\’m about as ready to add one to my Raleigh Comp GS as a fixie rider is to add a front caliper to their IRO Mark V. Ain\’t gonna happen.
As I approach folks from behind, I try to judge their demeanor. If they look like they are on a fixed vector, no warning needed. If they seem unsure, I start whistling, usually a few bars of 99 Neuf Ballons. Same treatment for folks with leashed canines. Dogs Hate Surprises.
The whistling thing works wonders on the blind corners of the I-5 \”ped\” crossing we have here in the neighborhood, too.
\”Was he just whistling Nena?\”
Yes. Yes he was.
I just ran into a kid today on the Eastbank Esplanade. It is the area north of the Hawthorne Bridge where you can either go down then up the ramp or go around near the fountain. I chose to go down the ramp because it looked more fun.
I sort of noticed a family walking down the steps to the right, a kid was running towards the river and I didn\’t see him until I reached the bottom of the ramp. I went for my bell but clicked my gear instead (doh!) by that time I was already in contact and tried to yell something, I ended up just skimming by him. I was in a rush so I didn\’t go back, I felt bad, and it is this kind of thing where peds get resentful of cyclists.. but nobody was really at fault, and I don\’t know if this type of thing could be prevented.. except for maybe a sign saying look to your right before crossing.. and slow sign for bikes. So be careful going down that ramp.. it is difficult to see people coming down the steps.
Whoops… meant to say the path on the west side.
OK, Janel, if memory serves, there are a few \”Bikes Yield To Peds\” signs down there. (or maybe they\’re just up on the bridge, but still…)
You\’re now a hit and run cyclist.
How does that feel?
Be careful going up the other ramp, too – it merges with cyclists and joggers who took the \”high road\” around the fountain. I usually take the high route when coming off the Hawthorne, and I\’ve nearly been clipped by fast-moving bikes coming back up the ramp. (and occasionally by joggers who whip around the banister rail)
Steel is real, even cooler if you rock it while on your Iphone.
Janel, if you came into contact with that child you should have stopped. I don\’t care how much of a rush you were in. As Donald in #22 pointed out, if you contacted the child, you committed a hit and run.
Even if you just barely missed him, you were still a poor representative of the bicycling community. The next time one of your fellow bicyclists meets adult relatives of that child, those relatives may be motorists, not pedestrians. Do you want them to treat bicyclists in the same rushed manner you treated that child?
In response to Jonathan\’s original article, the fact that the city has to put up a sign that says \”Bicyclists…reduce speed…\” on the esplanade and other paths tells me that these paths are a waste of tax resources.
The city\’s money, and more regional government\’s money, which is spent on separate paths would be better spent filling in gaps in the existing bike lane network. E.g. the bridges on Barbur Blvd south of Capitol, or the Beaverton-Hillsdale/Scholls/Oleson intersection. Or, they could spend the money on cutting back brush such as blackberry vines on Capitol near Barbur, or on Terwilliger.
Graham, I find it helps to ring the bell about 100 feet, then 50 feet, and maybe at 10 feet. Just a couple dings. The more distant ringing permits the ped to assimilate what is going on without fearing for their life.
Leaving the Hawthorne Bridge westbound, the narrow ramp that leads down to the old McCall restaurant is a very dangerous route. It is downhill, too narrow, nearly blind, and shared with peds who can get in the way with little notice, and no where to leap to safety. This is one place where a bike speed limit of 5 or 10 mph would be a good idea.
Hells-bells. Hit your bell once at about 75 feet and that should do it. No response? hit the bell until you get movement. Then it\’s survival of the fastest. I had to split between two joggers who were running abreast with 3 feet in between them. I just shouted \”comin\’ through\” and they both replied \”o.k.\”…it was awesome.
Bells are great. I find people universally jump out of their skin when I yell on your left, but it is only those who are in their own world who are surprised by the bell.
I\’m also finding my bell is pretty valuable safety tool during my evening commute home along NE Weidler. Whenever I approach a car as we near an intersection I use my bell to alert them a biker is in the bike lane. I\’ve counted at least 5 times that this has prevented a car from turning right and cutting me off.
DK wrote: \”No response? hit the bell until you get movement.\”
Pedestrians on a multi-use path are not required to move out of our way when we ring our bells, say \”On your left,\” run through our gears, or otherwise announce our presence in the form we have chosen. It is nice when they do, and even nicer when they stay to the right while walking as a matter of course, but if they choose not to move over, we just have to wait our turn until we can pass safely.
There is an interesting bell that says \”excuse me\” in Japanese. I\’ve always wondered how it would work out.
Cecil, you\’re right about peds rights come first, but only complete selfish jerks would not let a bike by, given that there is room for them to move over safely. These are the people who can\’t wait to get home and yell at their plants.
I have bells on my bikes, and it took me quite a few loud \”DING!\”s before I learned how to modulate and control the volume of my bell tones. With practice, I\’ve learned how to ring the bell more softly and quietly.
You can also put your finger on the bell immediately after ringing it; that will stop the reverberation and shorten the \”DING\” sound considerably. Try it!
Am I the only one bothered by the fact that cyclists are second class citizens everywhere in Portland? I can see pedestrian rights of way on sidewalks but on bike paths? There ought to be somewhere that is reserved for cyclists.
I got a new job recently in which the commute requires me to ride on the river path for most of the way, and in particular, the Willamette greenway in SW Portland. I think cyclists have just as much tendency to develop \”road rage\” as auto drivers on these trails (and elsewhere). I see way too many cyclists in full gear treating the waterfront path like a speedway. I hope the new campaign raises long-term awareness.
I try to present a different image of cyclists on these trails by giving warning to pedestrians that I\’m coming up, then slowly pass, and thank them for moving as I pass. For pedestrians approaching in the opposite direction, I also slow down, provide eye contact, and say \”hello\”. I realize not every shares my happy-go-lucky demeanor, but courtesy can still be provided without the cordial greetings by slowing down and providing warnings in whatever way works best for that individual.
These are the people who can\’t wait to get home and yell at their plants.
Am I the only one bothered by the fact that cyclists are second class citizens everywhere in Portland? I can see pedestrian rights of way on sidewalks but on bike paths?
Well, they\’re not bike paths, they\’re MUPs. If you choose to use a MUP, get ready to accept the fact that you\’re no longer dealing with regulated traffic, but a whole class of users who are subject to almost zero protocol for usage and who can just about do whatever they want with little in the way of legal consequence. Sure there\’s the physical safety incentive, but for some reason, few seem to want to take that into account when its the other fellow\’s going to be held liable.
There ought to be somewhere that is reserved for cyclists.
Bike lanes? Velodromes?
Happy Bell Ringing Thursday!
Just wanted to say thank you to the Bike Gallery for being out there every 3rd Thursday with tune-ups and treats. It was great that you invited Transportation Options to be part of your event today. And the bells are awesome.
Thank you Margaret for the beautiful signs on the Hawthorne Bridge.
I heart my bike too!
PDXCommuter #25: I agree with you completely that Janel should have stopped when she hit the child. If a car did the same thing to her as she did, she\’d be furious. However, what she did is not hit and run.
I know because twenty years ago riding home from the store, I was hit by two cyclists going the wrong way on a one-way street. They also blew a red light. I had the right of way and a green light; they t-boned me and I went over the handlebars of my bike. A witness followed them home when they picked themselves up and took off. When the cops arrived, they wouldn\’t go to the house and even talk to the teenagers. The cops told me that it wasn\’t hit and run, it was just \”an accident.\” I asked if this fit the definition of an assault. The officers asked if I knew them. I said I didn\’t, so their response was that it wasn\’t an assault. They said that I could sue the other cyclists in small claims court for the cost of a new wheel and my medical costs. That was my only recourse. This still strikes me as completely wrong.
Since that time (this happened in the mid-80\’s), I have asked a few other police officers that I have met if the officers who responded were correct. They have all said that they were, because there is no bicycle hit and run statute. Perhaps there should be one.
Michael, post 40:
Every officer you\’ve ever talked to has been dead wrong on the law. Bicycles have been vehicles in Oregon since 1983 (at least), and therefore, are subject to the traffic laws, including hit & run. If your accident occurred after 1983, it was a hit & run.
I would also challenge these \”experts\” as to which part of the assault statute requires the assaulted person to know his assaulter as an element of the crime.
Finally, you\’re not limited to small claims court.
In the future, you really shouldn\’t be taking legal advice from anybody, including police officers, or me, or anybody else who isn\’t a licensed member of the Oregon bar.
And as far as Janel goes, yes, she\’s subject to the vehicle laws, so yes, it was hit & run, probably a felony.
And her statement:
but nobody was really at fault
is dead wrong, as dead wrong as those cops who\’ve been dispensing legal advice.
She\’s at fault.