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.