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The media, the Police, and bike lanes

Posted by on October 13th, 2007 at 2:01 pm

Screenshot of Oregonian’s web headline.

I don’t have time to share as much as I’d like right now, but given the massive front page story by the Oregonian today, I have to share some thoughts.

First, I am disappointed at the Oregonian’s story, especially at a time when emotions are so raw.

Also, it is important, that we keep this tragedy in perspective. Overall, according to experts I spoke to this morning, the type of collision that took Sparling’s life is very rare.

That being said, Portland obviously has room to improve.

Back to the Oregonian.

The headline on their website reads, “Cyclists fight against bike lane change”. The print edition headline, while a bit less sensational, also tries to create an us vs. them situation that is very sad. Here is that headline:

“Death puts focus on bike lanes: Police say a new law would make for safer turns; cyclists say it’s infringing on their rights”

I would bet that most “cyclists” have no idea what the Police bike lane law proposal is/was all about. It was something discussed in one meeting, with less than 20 people in the room, nearly one year ago.

I was in that meeting back in November of 2006. The report I wrote afterward, “Police propose bike lane law change” is full of more information and many comments that will provide you some background on the idea.

At that time, the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee voted 11-0 against a proposal by Lt. Mark Kruger of the Traffic Division and recommended that he not take it further in the legislative process in Salem. Based partly on the tepid reaction to his idea, Kruger (and the Police Bureau’s legal team) decided to put the idea aside.

Until Tracey Sparling got right-hooked by a cement truck.

When I talked to Kruger just hours after the tragedy, he reminded me of his idea and that meeting. He said, “This is exactly a case in point of what I was talking about.”

Please realize I am not discussing the quality of Kruger’s idea (I’ll get into that later). I am just trying to give some context to the Oregonian’s story.

It is also too bad they left out mention of any other ideas on how to improve bikeways in the city. Bike boxes, better signage, blue bike lanes, physically separated bike lanes; all of these are on the table.

In the end, I feel the Oregonian story makes our city only more divided over an issue (sharing the road) that we have all been struggling with for far too long already

There’s a lot more to write about and discuss, but I have to run. KATU-TV is on their way. They want to talk about other bike safety improvement options. I hope the coverage turns out OK Here’s the story.

I am grateful for everyone that has left comments in the past few days. Your input creates value beyond anything I could write myself.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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rixtir
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rixtir

Kruger apprently wants us all to believe that cars in California don\’t dangerously cut cyclists off in the bike lane in order to make those right turns.

Yeah, right Kruger.

Here\’s another idea to add to the list of bike safety ideas: Wear a helmet. If you read the accounts of the eyewitneses, It was a low speed collision, she wasn\’t wearing a helmet, and she hit her head. It\’s patently obvious that if she had been wearing a helmet, she\’d be alive today, regardless of bad infrastructure design and whatever negligence the driver might be liable for.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

Kruger needs to go. I think it\’s only a matter of time. His abuses of free speech, his pro-car perspective on transportation options and racist background does not reflect the type of culture we have in Portland. He continually shows he is only serving what he deems (in his small little world) worth protecting.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

I\’d just like to add if they want to make it an us vs them we could start doing critical mass.

We as cyclists represent over 5% of transportation in Portland. The city (and God willing Sam gets elected) needs to start treating our mode with a bit of respect and forethought.

N.I.K.
Guest
N.I.K.

The main problem with Kruger\’s solution to the problem is that it doesn\’t at all account for the real problem, which is that road users in general are frequently incautious of their surroundings and often fail to make their intentions clear when turning etc. The idea that a minor change in regulation -and a potentially confusing one at that: how much worse can things get if there\’s a legal condition under which cars can DRIVE IN THE BIKE LANE?!?- will counter people making inattentive and unpredictable manuevers on the streets of Portland is nigh-on farcical.

a.O
Guest
a.O

Kruger needs to go. His comments demonstrate that he is hopelessly biased against cyclists and is thus incapable of addressing this situation as a public official. FIRE KRUGER!!

The truck driver had a duty to pay attention to what was happening in the bike lane given that he was preparing to turning across it. He should have seen Tracey in his mirror before she entered his blind spot. He is at fault here. Drivers exercising ordinary care on the roads would solve this problem.

Donna
Guest
Donna

Doesn\’t anyone in a commanding role at the Portland Police Bureau understand that Kruger has burned so many bridges with cyclists in this city that he makes their jobs harder every single time he opens his mouth?

What on earth is *this* supposed to mean?

\”Bicyclists expect and are trained by activists groups that when you\’ve got the bike lane, you can do what you want to do\”

What activist groups? Are there super secret, underground meetings about bike lane usage that the rest of us are not aware of? This is a free country, and the man certainly has every right to wear tin foil on his head to keep the evil spirits out if he so chooses. That said, he crosses the line when he spouts paranoid conspiracy theories in a public role to a newspaper reporter who then proceeds to publish it as if it were gospel truth.

a.O
Guest
a.O

Donna, that\’s exactly right. These comments indicate a profound disconnect with the reality of life in Portland. He\’s playing on peoples\’ fears, which is an incredibly irresponsible thing for a public official to do.

Donna
Guest
Donna

Either that or it\’s a sad reflection on the state of mental health care in Multnomah County…

Klixi
Guest
Klixi

Kruger says: \”Spring forward to where we are today, where we\’ve added bike lanes to the mix, and some bicycles are traveling at high speed. It can lead to significant, deadly conflicts, as we saw Thursday.\”

Yes, some cyclists do travel at a high speed, however Tracey did not, so why feel the need to mention high speed then \”…as we saw Thursday\”. Tracey was not rushing through a red light or speeding. She barely moved at all. This Kruger is a real piece of work.

Peter W
Guest
Peter W

I agree – Lt. Kruger from the Portland Police traffic division has demonstrated his inability to represent all road users:

\”[Kruger] counters that Oregon\’s current law puts an impossible requirement on drivers making right turns to spot cyclists in blind spots..\”

Um, what about *mirrors*? If you vehicle has blind spots, you should be extra careful to pay attention to what is coming up behind you. If Kruger thinks drivers are not doing anything wrong by right hooking cyclists, how can he be trusted to enforce the law?

\”Bicyclists expect … that when you\’ve got the bike lane, you can do what you want to do\”.

What a strange expectation! We expect to be able to follow the laws in the bike lane? Thanks Kruger, I see the error of my ways…

\”We have a lot of these collisions that don\’t end in fatalities, but they are stubborn to the point that they won\’t give up ground for the sake of safety\”.

what he means is, he thinks we should just let motorists drive in the bike lanes because he doesn\’t expect drivers to start following the law any time soon.

Hello Kruger! Enforce the laws with motorists, or don\’t work for the Portland Police!

tim
Guest

Tell Chief Sizer what you think: chiefsizer@portlandpolice.org

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

Cars in bike lanes is a bad, bad idea. There are better solutions to the \”right hook\” problem than this, bike boxes for one.

Cyclists need more dedicated real estate, not less!

Greg
Guest
Greg

I have to say that I was also disappointed by the diagram on the front page. The diagram shows the difference between the California law and Oregon law.

The Oregonian clearly is showing bias towards the California law.

In the California example, they show where the car has already transitioned into the bike lane ahead of the cyclist. The assumption is that the bike will never be there during the transition.

In the Oregon depiction, they show the bike being there during the car\’s transition across the bike lane. The assumption is that there is always conflict at the intersection.

In both cases there is a transition across the bike lane and in both examples it\’s quite possible for the cyclist to be in the conflict point — or more likely not be in the conflict point.

I\’d rather have the transition happen as slower speeds like we have in Oregon, but could be convinced that California has it better. Regardless of the merit of either idea, the diagram demonstrates unfair bias.

BURR
Guest
BURR

The downtown bike lanes in portland are not safe. This is the second fatality in one of the downtown bike lanes in the last three years. These bike lanes are subject to the problems all bike lanes have, amplified ten times due to higher traffic volumes in the downtown core. Door zones, right hooks, incorrect destination positioning are all a problem. I know several cyclists who have been doored on SW Broadway and have witnessed the aftermath of several right hooks at SW Madison and 3rd. NW Everett at 16th is another huge hazard spot. The best policy for cycling in downtown Portland is to take the lane, often the center or left lane (most NS streets are three lane wide one-ways, most EW streets are two lane one-ways). The traffic is timed for 12 to 15 mph and it is easy to ride at the speed of traffic. The only possible advantage to cyclists the downtown bike lanes offer is the ability to filter forward when traffic is gridlocked; but you are legally allowed to pass on the right now, so bike lanes really aren\’t required for that, either. The only thing I agree with Kruger on is that motorists are never going to properly learn to look for cyclists on their right before making a right turn. OTOH, I think that all the anti-cyclist officers on the PPB traffic division really need to be reassigned to other duties.

Peter W
Guest
Peter W

I want to point out that the Hillsboro police, apparently unlike the Portland Police, seem to understand the responsibilities of drivers and understand that \”I didn\’t see him/her\” isn\’t a valid excuse any more.

The other day a motorcyclists died when he hit a car that pulled out in front of him.

\”Garcia told police she did not see the motorcycle. [Hillsboro Police Department Lt.] Rouches said the Washington County Crash Analysis Recreation Team is investigating possible charges of careless driving, which could lead to a 30-day suspension of Garcia\’s drivers license and defensive driving classes.\”
http://www.oregonlive.com/news/argus/index.ssf?/base/news/1192213345108470.xml&coll=6

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

Donna,

Amen! Could not have said that better myself.

BURR
Guest
BURR

The Oregonian really adds nothing to the debate by allowing Kruger to spread disinformation without checking the facts, or with their inflamatory headlines that do nothing but create further conflict.

The Oregonian is behaving irresponsibly in order to sell papers to help their bottom line; this is selfish on the part of the paper, serves no positive purpose in the community at large and is morally and ethically corrupt.

annefi
Guest

Burr states:
\”but you are legally allowed to pass on the right now, so bike lanes really aren\’t required for that, either.\”

When did this change? I thought cyclists could only legally pass on the right when there\’s a bike lane. Does Burr have this right?

jake
Guest
jake

I\’d like to make a couple of points:
1) this place is called downtown, where people are walking and crossing the streets everywhere. Cars are supposed to yield to all those people, including bike riders, in crowded places like this
2) when you are driving a car, you are supposed to be aware of what\’s in the blind spots whenever you make a lane change; otherwise you\’ll keep hitting other cars; why it is so difficult for Kruger to understand there could be something in your blind spots, and you can\’t hit anything just because it\’s in your blind spot

patrick
Guest
patrick

\”According to experts I spoke to this morning, the type of collision that took Sparling’s life is very rare.\”

I\’d like to see the \”data\” from these so called experts. I have lost count the number of times I have had to grab a fist full of brake, smack the side of cars or give a loud shout to let a car know they are about to potentially take me out. Not to mention last year I was actually hit by a car.

Any time the experts want to join me for a ride down NW Everett and 16th let me know.

Honestly, I\’ve stopped using the bike lane on Everett because I find I am more safe in the far left lane. I\’m beginning to side with the arguement that bike lanes promote a false sense of security.

patrick
Guest
patrick

BURR said,
\”NW Everett at 16th is another huge hazard spot. The best policy for cycling in downtown Portland is to take the lane, often the center or left lane (most NS streets are three lane wide one-ways, most EW streets are two lane one-ways\”

Yep

tim
Guest

Agreed, Burr. I wound up on the hood of some kid\’s pickup on 16th/Everett one morning. Since then, i take the lane.

Qwendolyn
Guest
Qwendolyn

\”
Burr states:
\”but you are legally allowed to pass on the right now, so bike lanes really aren\’t required for that, either.\”

When did this change? I thought cyclists could only legally pass on the right when there\’s a bike lane. Does Burr have this right?
\”
…In June of 2005.

ORS 811.415:

\”(c) Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions.\”

Spanky
Guest
Spanky

I talked to a lot of friends and neighbors about this today as I was out and about and raking leaves. the overall consensus (and some of them are bike commuters) is that the \”bike lobby\” isn\’t willing to even consider a change in the law that could save lives. A change in teh law that could be done with little expense, is realistic (separate bikeways are not likely at evenry intersection where right hooks can happen), and would make aa difference. the perception of cars abusing bikers is actually the reverse among car drivers. I have an older neighbor who told me a story (backed up by his three passeneres, all much younger than him) of a bicyclist striking his car and denting the door, and riding off after screaming at him. The guy in teh car did nothing wrong. the accident was the fault of the cyclist. This kind of experience, coupled with what is perceived as unreasoning opposition to proposals like the right turn proposal, makes bicyclists in this city out to be bike fascists.

And that perception, accurate or not(I think it is not accurate – there\’s good and bad in every group!) doesn;t do anyone any good in this instance.

I do think there is a huge danger in these right hook zones, when a large truck is at the intersection. they ahve a significantly limited ability to see a cyclist alongside. And the height of their mirrors (due to the heigt of the truck) makes it harder to see a bike approaching from the rear when the truck is stopped at the I/S.

I just hope folks can tone the hysterics down a bit, on both sides of the bike/car divide.

Russell
Guest
Russell

Mark Kruger needs to go. If anyone is a hazard to our safety at this point, it is him.

This whole situation is sickening.

Mick
Guest

Spanky:

I find that often when drivers think it wasn\’t their fault and a biker went off on them for no reason, they have, in fact, broken the law. The right hook is a perfect example of this. Or parking in the bike lane. Or passing me because they think I\’m going to slow. These things happen to me daily and I\’m quite certain that all the drivers think that they are in the right.

Ian Clemons
Guest
Ian Clemons

One point that was made in the article is how dangerous downtown streets have become due to all the construction going on (arguably, all of inner Portland is in a similar state as giant concrete \’n glass condos takeover more neighborhoods). We have lots of big trucks driven by workers who need to meet deadlines and get their load delivered before lunch or quitting time. How many of these guys do you think bike to work? Grew up in Portland? Have a positive view of urban cycling? I don\’t mean to demonize these guys, but I think they are a real hazzard.

Couple this with the fact that there are all kinds of traffic changes, flaggers, barricades, etc and you get an urban cycling terrain particularly hazzardous to bikers and a lot of delayed, pissed-off drivers who are just that much unwilling to share the road. Sheesh! Maybe I\’ll just park my bike downtown and walk until A) the construction is done or B) the Peak Oil Apocalypse keeps the cars off the road…

-Ian

Donna
Guest
Donna

For those of you who are wondering about whether the differences between the bike lane laws in California or Oregon would prevent right hooks, let me direct you to the Advocacy & Safety forum at http://www.bikeforums.net/. I am a moderator there and I can assure you that plenty of Californians start threads and make posts complaining about being right hooked. The main difference between motorists in California and motorists in Oregon is that the Californians feel it\’s ok to be right hooking cyclists. After all, *they\’re* entitled to be in the bike lane, are they not?

I would very much like to know whether or not this is something the entire Portland Police Bureau officially supports or if it\’s just a crack-brained idea of Mark Kruger\’s. If it is what the Police Bureau is in favor of, I would like an explanation from Chief Sizer and Mayor Potter, as I was not aware that the City of Portland was in favor of abolishing this part of the bike lane law. PDOT clearly designs bike lanes (even the good ones) with the assumption that cars don\’t enter them very often. Without this part of the law, a great many of our existing bike lanes ought to be heavily redesigned or removed altogether.

I\’m also beginning to wonder if the Portland Police Bureau isn\’t already enforcing the bike lane law in the manner in which they wish it was written, rather than they way it is currently laid out. At the vigil at the end of the ride, the police insisted that the remaining cyclists remove themselves from the traffic lane and confine themselves to the bike lane. The problem with that was the bike lane was being used in part as a parking space for a large truck and a large bus. I asked the officer about that, and he told me that there was nothing the police could do about motor vehicles parked in a bike lane. Apparently my appearance must give off the impression that I just fell off the turnip truck.

a.O
Guest
a.O

\”[W]hen you are driving a car, you are supposed to be aware of what\’s in the blind spots whenever you make a lane change; otherwise you\’ll keep hitting other cars; why it is so difficult for Kruger to understand there could be something in your blind spots, and you can\’t hit anything just because it\’s in your blind spot.\”

Exactly. This is the double-standard that has been thrown around ever since the truck driver killed Tracey.

If he\’d turned right across a car lane and killed someone in a mini or some other small car, no one would be saying that the car shouldn\’t have been in the truck\’s blind spot. They would be saying, correctly, that the truck driver has the responsibility of finding out what\’s in the blind spot *before* crossing the lane.

The circular logic of the victim-blamers is that because you are vulnerable, you don\’t really have the same rights as someone better protected. It reveals that most people still think of cyclists as second-class citizens. This kind of thinking is dangerously irrational at best, but when it is used to excuse the death of someone like Tracey, IT IS JUST PLAIN SICKENING.

wsbob
Guest

I think as investigators study this collision, they\’ll be able to determine more clearly whether the driver\’s vehicle really wasn\’t designed to permit visibility of a cyclist located to the right of his vehicle, whether it really had a blind spot not covered by a mirror. I didn\’t see a pic of the front of this truck, but big ones like this often have a very long hood to house a big motor. A cyclist positioned alongside this part of the vehicle could possibly be in a position where the driver might not be able to see them directly. Some other truck designs with engines located back from the front of the vehicle have a very cleverly designed sidewindow that drops all the way to the floorboards. That would have possibly been a saving grace here.

Even if direct vision to the immediate right front of a long hood vehicle isn\’t possible, there may be another possible solution; video monitors to exterior vid cameras. Big RV\’s have them to aid in backing up. Could\’ve worked here to allow the driver to see what he couldn\’t see in his blind spot.

Keeping in mind that Kruger is the officer that pepper-sprayed babies during a peaceful demonstration, (allegedly with a smile of glee on his face), I\’ll risk the wrath of some people here by noting that in the article, some of Kruger\’s comments do indicate a fair awareness of the complexities and hazards of the right-side bike lane at intersection problem.

\”Motorists have been conditioned for 100 years that no one is going to pass them on the right,\”. \”Spring forward to where we are today, where we\’ve added bike lanes to the mix…\” Kruger

That\’s true really. Even more important to note though, is that big intersections can be very complicated. There\’s so many things going on that even the most alert, well trained driver is likely to eventually fail to see something like a cyclist slide up past their point of visibility to a possible blind spot.

I mentioned on another thread that a merge of some sort might be an idea, but having thought about it some more, I\’m not sure that would work give the vast speed differential between bicycles and motorists. Car lane to bike lane: cars would always be dangerously cutting bikes off. Bike lane to car lane: bikes would have to be pulling in front of cars frequently going too fast.

Something has got to be done, like…now.

Mick
Guest

wsbob:

Kruger\’s argument about 100 years of conditioning might sound reasonable but it\’s not. It would only take 2 or 3 years of conditioning with the current set of laws (i.e. enforcing them which PoPo doesn\’t) for them to take effect with most of the population.

John
Guest
John

Sorry I don\’t get it. Who are you people (other than spanky, wsbob … )? Obviously most of you are some sort of \”bike lobby\” out of touch with real people, real cyclists? (think about it? are you?) For the most part, I just ride, I just ride my 20 miles or more a day, I don\’t have time for this crap, I just need to get to work. I then want to get home. Without getting killing or worried about some more freeking colored paint on the road, or some driver pissed off at cyclists. I would love it if cars would/could move over to the right if they are turning right! Makes life so much easier and less confusing and safer for everyone. Actually, I think this is my main safety issue when I am riding! This is NOT A SLIPPERY SLOPE! So what?, cars can now move into the bike lane to turn, BUT GUESS WHAT, that means i can move left into the traffic lane, (yeah i know it\’s already legal) BUT this makes it clear to all, that cyclists are allowed out of the bike lane (the psychology is fairplay is fairplay). The keep it simple principle always applies! ALWAYS. Think less paint, think bikelaneLESS intersections. When you start tinkering road control, bike boxes, or what ever the hell sort of paint, signage or regulations you idiots are dreaming up, You are putting peoples lives at risk! \”What, no !, I am making it safer\” you say. Nope you are adding another layer of rules, laws, etc, for befuddled minds to provide split second reaction to the controls of a death machine. And you give people a false sense of security that they will be OK and that they don\’t need, head on a swivel, Head on a swivel, eyes everywhere, miss nothing, hear anything, see everything.

Donna
Guest
Donna

John,

How is it that cyclists all over the country who live in states where cars can enter the bike lane to make a right turn keep on getting right hooked by those cars? How is it that it happens in those other places more often than Portland? That doesn\’t make sense to me – there are more cyclists here than in those other places. How does introducing a practice from places where it is far more dangerous to ride a bicycle make it safer for us here?

Todd B
Guest
Todd B

Hi John,

You hit on some valid points…sharing the road and moving to the left if a car is in your way while movign right…though these really only work well for experienced and road conditioned riders (\’A type\’ – like you and me)…but they do not work as well for those who want to start riding and are afraid of the existing state of the roads (which is like 30% to 60% of the drivers out there who want to try riding a bike – it is too late in the night to dig this BTA/ PDOT survey data up…someone will do it tomorrow) or for the children I ride to school and the store with. And the road conditions you like offer less cushion for making mistakes for those starting to ride.

Yes we could get by with a lot less paint and more sharing [and move towards \’naked streets\’] if our policy makers (and engineers) would allow design of lower speed streets with less complex intersections and movements, but until that happens…we have another set of tools…

I understand that some of the tools we are talking about may seem odd or confusing…bike boxes, lead bicycle intervals with bike signals, blue bike lanes, etc.

Please before you dismiss them outright, give them a try in a city that has implimented them consistantly. I have done this and find that I like it – it is ghreat as a bicyclist to be treated like a vehicle on arterials (and is safer too).

And remember that many of the bike facilities we have out on the street are only 40% of the picture…we have only really done the \’segments\’ (the long sections between intersections) and not the \’nodes\’ (intersections).

I am pretty sure you could find some local bike advocates who could take you on a riding tour to show you some of these options…when you have the time of course.

janel
Guest

I am just glad they had the story on the front page to inform people about the dangers of the right hook.

My question is, for the at least 15 or so other cyclist deaths in the past 3 years, have any of them ever been a front page story? (Maybe I am wrong, I don\’t usually read the Oregonian).

Why is this different? Because it is in Downtown rather than out on 82nd? Because it is was 19 year old woman rather than a homeless man? Because it was in a bike lane?

All deaths, crashes and near misses show inadequacy of bike infrastructure, and all need to be studied and we need the funding to improve them! What can we do??

Lee Hoffman
Guest
Lee Hoffman

Hey John, We have beat this horse to death.I am so sick and tired of people always looking for blame and fault,We have a key problem in Portland,as I see it. Cars are demigods and we as cyclist are only peasants. they have three bike lanes in Holland and only one car lane.drivers are too busy to drive ,they must eat ,talk on the phone ,text and yell at the kids. we as cyclist (some of us) ride without hands while Starbucking up the wrong way on the bike lane while jamming out to Three Doors Down on the Ipod in black clothes on a rainy night without a helmet.its not 50/50 its 100/100 we all need to watch what we do.Stop blaming and start living safe.Lee

Tankagnolo Bob
Guest
Tankagnolo Bob

ADVANTAGES OF CALY LAW…

I know when cycling, I prefer to have a car ahead of me in the bike lane to turn right, rather than be beside the car where I cannot see the blinkers, make eye contact with the driver, and be surprised by a right turn. This has happened many times to me while riding.

When I drive, I can focus totally on getting into the bike lane, moving faster than the bikes, I can see one ahead and behind, pass one, move in, slow for the one ahead. Once stopped, I have to watch for the light, the padestrians that might try to get accross at the last minute, so much going on in front. Combine that with a blind spot to the side. A fast moving cyclist, or one just in the blind spot is at such risk from even an aware driver.

Riding or driving downtown is like being in a bizare video game. For me there are few I see as enemies, just too much going on. I try to maintian the \”Share the road\” attitude if I am riding, driving, or walking.

I will take the Caly law, both as an avid cyclist and one who drives.

Tom Hastings
Guest
Tom Hastings

As an older guy who bikes about seven miles into downtown each day, I have to agree with those who say we need to reject the laws that entitle cars more and by extension bikes less. I was right-hooked totally out of the blue two years ago by someone who passed me and, within 100 feet, turned suddenly. Evidently, he felt that coming up a hill meant that I was slowing so much he could assume I was out of his calculus. I, in turn, assumed a driver would check his right mirror or look over his shoulder before just vamping across MY lane. Nope. The upshot was he was very solicitous, apologetic, took down all my information and sent me a new rearview mirror (the only damage to my bike, luckily). If he would have been under the impression that he hadn\’t broken any law, what would his attitude have been? I think the jump-into-the-bike-lane law is a very bad idea. BTW, I have acted as liaison to the police from the peace movement and Kruger is a rogue. He ought to be a meter man, not in any sensitive position.

I know this is fantasy, but I hope for the day when actual bike arterials can be created on streets that are currently side streets with many stops. I am not smart enough to know how, but I sure like the notion. Otherwise we are stuck competing directly with murderous cars who are–I agree–the \”first-class\” citizens on the road.

get me outta here!
Guest
get me outta here!

here in california it\’s true: the bike lane essentially ends a little ways before the intersection. this creates a number of problems that oregonians would have to deal with if you adopted this practice.

1. it divides cyclists into two basic groups at the intersection. those of use how move left into the lane that goes across the intersection, and those that choose to move up to the curb and wait like pedestrians. this creates a situation where right-turning cars have bikes on either side of them. as you can imagine this tends to make the drivers a bit fussy.

2. regardless of what your plans are, as a cyclist approaches the intersection cars tend to either hit the gas so save that extra 3 or 4 seconds and get do a right hook in front of you at high speed (often, in my experience) with tires squealing. if they don\’t do that ..then they tend to angrily and impatiently stalk the cyclist for the final few yards before the intersection then flip the bird as they turn.

obviously this level of danger and anger does not occur at every intersection but these things to happen to me on a daily basis as i commute to work.

given that your community has other options on the table (as jonathan mentioned), i would encourage you all to set aside such a flawed suggestion.

good luck to you as i plan on joining you all very soon.

Donna
Guest
Donna

If there is a lower rate of cyclists being right hooked in California and similar states, then I think a change to the law has some merit. If it can also be shown that motor vehicles stay out of the bike lanes in California and similar states with the same frequency that they do in Oregon, then I could get behind such a change in the law. I find it worthy of note that the cyclists in the US who are critical and wary of bike lanes as a whole tend to be people who live in places where motor vehicles can do what they wish in a bike lane.

BURR
Guest
BURR

Just a reminder that the construction site the cement truck was going to is a huge project and there probably will continue to be large numbers of cement trucks making this turn to access the construction project for months to come.

And when the building is done, it will have a multi-level parking garage capable of holding hundreds of cars, resulting in that much more downtown traffic.

Be safe out there y\’all!

Greg Raisman
Guest
Greg Raisman

First, my deepest condolences to Tracey\’s family, friends, and everyone touched by the horrific tragedy. As someone who has been personally touched by this type of sudden loss, each one of these tragedies brings a sense of deep sadness — but also hope that something good comes from the loss.

Right hooks are not rare at all. They are amongst the most common crash types. Almost all right hooks happen at driveways and intersections.

The difference with this crash that makes it uncommon is that it was from a stopped position.

Almost all right hook situations happen while the bicyclist and motorist are both moving. The most common is the overtaking motorist turns right into or directly in front of the moving cyclist.

PDOT just analyzed 5 years worth of police crash investigations for the update of the Bicycle Master Plan. Fatal crash investigations do typically reach conclusions about the speed of the vehicles involved in crashes. At a minimum injury-involved investigations say whether the vehicles are stopped or moving during the crash.

In five years of crash investigation reports, I do not remember any where the crash began with both vehicles stopped at a red light. I don\’t have a perfect memory and am out of town until Wednesday. But, I\’ll take a second look at the reports when I\’m back in the office to see if there are more that I\’m not remembering.

The sad news is that our community can not avoid all crashes. There will continue to be risk involved with being alive. The good news is that important conversations like this one help us to continue on the journey towards minimizing the number of people who are hurt or die in crashes.

Please ride safely and alertly out there. Thanks for making our city a better place by riding your bicycle.

Thanks.
Greg Raisman
Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership
Portland Office of Transportation

BURR
Guest
BURR

Kris Okins was killed in 2005 by a truck in the SW Broadway bike lane at Washington Street. While it was not a right hook crash, both the truck and the cyclist were proceeding from a stop at a red light.

http://www.draplin.com/forkris/
http://www.ahalenia.com/memorial/kokins.html

BURR
Guest
BURR

BTW, for anyone interested, Kris Okin\’s ghost bike was removed by the city a while back and needs to be replaced.

Kathleen
Guest
Kathleen

I am wondering if it would make Kruger happy if every single bike commuter in Portland would drive a car to work. It would be interesting to see how traffic flows if bicyclists chose one day where we would all drive cars (one person per car) instead of cycling.

Greg Raisman
Guest
Greg Raisman

Burr:

You are absolutely right. I actually was just drafting something to follow-up on my first post about that very subject when I saw that you posted.

The odd thing about Kristine Okins\’ crash is that the investigation could not figure out how it happened. There were no turning movements and no witnesses that could provide enough information to reach a conclusion. It remains a mystery.

The facts that are not mysterious are exactly what you said. The only difference I can see between the two crashes is that in Kristine\’s crash the truck did not leave its travel lane. In Tracey\’s, the truck made a right turn across the bike lane.

As many are aware, the update of the Bicycle Master Plan is looking very closely at all options for safer travel for cyclists downtown. To all: Please continue your involvement!

Jonathan, I think this would be an excellent subject to write about if you get the chance. How to make downtown inviting and safe for the full spectrum of cyclists?

Again, I will look at the crash investigations when I return to the office. I still expect to see that crashes that initiate from a stop at a red light are quite rare.

Thanks.
Greg Raisman
Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership
Portland Office of Transportation
(503) 823-1052

BURR
Guest
BURR

#46 \”I still expect to see that crashes that initiate from a stop at a red light are quite rare.\”

this is splitting hairs, there are almost certainly more right hook collisions that occur on green lights, but it\’s really irrelevant since the inferior bike lane design is largely to blame in either case.

Greg Raisman
Guest
Greg Raisman

I disagree, Burr. I\’d agree if cyclists didn\’t pass motorists on the right at intersections without lanes. The fact is that this practice is so common that the bicycle community successfully fought to have it allowed in law during the 2005 legislature.

Craig D.
Guest
Craig D.

A word to the wise, drivers and cyclists (especially cyclists since drivers don\’t see us): MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THE DRIVER! What do our rights mean when we\’re dead because they \”didn\’t see us\”? I learned this from my years as a motorcyclist. Expect that you are invisible and you will take fewer risks. When you look at a driver and they don\’t look at you they don\’t see you. Lock eyes with them and no one gets hurt. I wish Tracey had pulled ahead of the driver and looked back into his eyes:(

Eliza Dennison
Guest
Eliza Dennison

Hello?!–When will we learn from the Europeans?! It is safer for cyclists and pedestrians in the chaos of Naples or Paris than in ANY city in the US. Why? Because the stronger vehicle is almost always in the wrong in the more civilized parts of the world, and because even little old ladies are certain you see the whites of their eyes as they cut in front of you on foot.
Our culture is so \”me\” oriented that it is doomed for failure. How hard is it to take an extra second to look (or think) before you act? It almost makes you wish the oil would run out sooner rather than later–if it weren\’t for the greenhouse issue.