Splendid Cycles Big Sale

Report from the bike safety meeting and press conference

Posted by on October 26th, 2007 at 2:20 pm

bike safety meeting and press conference-12.jpg

A large crowd in City Hall.
Slideshow below
(Photos © Jonathan Maus)

Just four days after the second fatal bicycle crash in as many weeks, City Commissioner Sam Adams called together an “emergency meeting” to discuss the issues and brainstorm solutions to improve bike safety in our city. Following the meeting was a press conference that was jam-packed with concerned citizens and the local media.

Around the table of the closed-door session were close to thirty people from a variety of backgrounds. Below is a partial list of attendees:

bike safety meeting and press conference-1.jpg

Inside the meeting.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)
  • Chuch Sparks – Multnomah County District Attorney
  • Ann Gardner – Schnitzer Steel, Chair, Freight Advisory Committee
  • Bob Russell – President, Oregon Truckers Association
  • David Worboril – City Attorney
  • Rosie Sizer – Police Chief
  • Vince Jarmer – Captain, Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division
  • Mark Kruger – Lieutenant, Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division
  • Rob Burchfield – Head Traffic Engineer, PDOT
  • Paul Smith – Head Transportation Planner, PDOT
  • Troy Costales – Manager, Transportation Safety Division, ODOT
  • Scott Bricker – Executive Director, BTA
  • Tom McClellan – Manager, Program Services, Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Lidwien Rahman – Board Member, Willamette Pedestrian Coalition
  • Barb Grover – The Bike Gallery
  • Karl Rohde – Governmental Relations and Public Affairs, BTA
  • Susan Otcenas – BTA Board member
  • Robert Pickett – PPB Officer, SE Precinct
  • Ed Abrahamson – Multnomah County
  • Basil Christopher – Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, ODOT Region 1
  • Greg Raisman – Traffic Safety, PDOT

According to the agenda passed around, the stated purpose of the meeting was to “Develop a package of truck/bike improvements that will achieve immediate and sustained safety results.”

As we went around and introduced ourselves it became clear that this was a high-powered group. As you can see from the list above, there were high-level people from all the “Four E’s” of Encouragement, Enforcement (PPB), Engineering, and Education.

It’s no secret that when Adams — who oversees PDOT in his role as Transportation Commissioner — puts a high priority on an issue, he wants things to happen as fast as possible (or “as is prudent” he says). Today, it was clear that he is very concerned about bike safety and he is ready to do something about it.

After we all introduced ourselves, Adams presented an overview of how the Platinum Bicycle Master Plan and the Freight Master Plan were related. He said, “We are a bike city as well as a trade city.” With both of our recent fatalities coming at the hands of large trucks, Adams is re-invigorating the conversation about how we plan for future increases in both bike use and truck traffic.

Adams used this meeting to tap the collective wisdom of the assembled experts. His first order of business was to ask us what we thought the problem was. He called on people randomly for their input. The ideas touched on many of the issues the 800 or so comments on this site have brought up over the past week.

All the while, Adams’ staffer Jesse Beason scribbled everything on huge sheets of paper. All the ideas will be organized, typed up, and then delivered to everyone in advance of our next meeting three weeks from now. (That meeting will be open to the public so stay tuned for details.)

After defining the existing problems, Adams turned to PDOT’s bicycle coordinator Roger Geller. Geller gave a presentation on the statistical analysis of bike/freight/auto crashes.

Between 2002 and 2006 the Police Bureau completed 221 detailed crash investigations that involved bicycles. Of those, Geller said, the “right hook” was the most prominent type of crash with 9.5% (cyclists running stop signs was #2, accounting for 8%).

Adams asked Geller to discuss the pros and cons of “the two pre-dominant” ideas for intersection improvements: bike boxes and the police-proposed California-style bike lane law (where motorists can legally enter the bike lane before making a right turn). We also heard Lt. Mark Kruger’s perspective on both of these ideas.

PDOT put together a very detailed and comprehensive analysis on bike safety in Portland for this meeting. You can download it on CommissionerSam.com.

There was an interesting discussion about the enforcement issues with City Attorney David Worboril. He discussed the infamous “failure to yield law” and he answered questions and tried to clarify the citation policy that has been so frustrating and confusing for many.

Out of respect for the confidentiality of this meeting, I won’t go into more detail right now. However, you can be assured I will be covering this more next week.

At the end of the meeting, Adams passed around a sheet with a long list of ideas and potential solutions from an engineering, enforcement, and education standpoint. We went down the list, offered our feedback, and added new ideas as necessary.

I feel like this meeting was a solid first step. Important issues were brought to the table, and it was very encouraging to have representatives from so many different areas get an education about bike issues. All the people that are in a position to vastly improve bike safety were at this meeting. Now, the challenge will be to agree on solutions, and then implement them.
___

PDOT has just released the following list of potential solutions:

Potential infrastructure solutions

*Treating 14 of the city’s top difficult intersections, which will include N. Interstate at Greeley and SW 14th Avenue at Burnside, with a “bike box” to reduce bicycle crashes referred to as a left and right “hook”. Here are the 14 locations:

  • 1. North Interstate Avenue and North Greeley Avenue.
  • 2. Northeast Broadway and North Williams Avenue
  • 3. Northwest Lovejoy Street and Northwest Ninth Avenue
  • 4. Northwest Broadway and Northwest Hoyt Street
  • 5. Northwest Everett Street and Northwest 16th Avenue
  • 6. Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and Southeast Seventh Avenue
  • 7. Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and Southeast 11th Avenue
  • 8. Southwest 14th Avenue and W. Burnside Street
  • 9. Southwest Broadway and Southwest Taylor Street
  • 10. Southwest Broadway and Southwest Jefferson Street
  • 11. Southwest Broadway and Southwest Clay Street
  • 12. Southwest Madison and Southwest Third Avenue
  • 13. Southwest Sixth Avenue and SW Broadway
  • 14. Southwest Terwilliger Boulevard and Southwest Taylor’s Ferry Road

*Bike box at stop bar at intersection

  • 1) Skip-stripes, with or without color, through intersection with bike box
  • 2) Widen bike lane at intersection
  • 3) Bike warning sign activated by bike loop
  • 4) Right turn on red lights with bike boxes

Potential equipment solutions

  • Equipping trucks with mirrors to eliminate blind spots
  • Equipping trucks with side guards to prevent people from being pulled under the vehicle
  • Equipping bicycles with mirrors and noisemakers

Potential enforcement and crash investigation solutions

  • Police enforcement (including “right hook” police stings) and crash investigation policies
  • Jail time for drivers with suspended licenses

Potential education solutions

  • Department of Motor Vehicles supplemental urban driver’s guide and testing
  • Enhanced truck driver education for urban truck drivers
  • Enhancements to existing programs like Share the Road, See and Bee Seen (Light the bike, see the bike), and I Brake for People

I was happy to see a large turnout of at least 100 people (mostly all cyclists) at the press conference.

Below is an audio clip of Sam Adams’ opening statements at the press conference. Others that spoke included Roger Geller, lawyer Mark Ginsberg, trucking representative Bob Russell, Lt. Mark Kruger, and the BTA’s Scott Bricker.

Sam Adams opening statements:
[audio:pressConf1.mp3]

If you attended the press conference, what did you think? Please share your thoughts.

A slideshow from the meeting and the press conference is below.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

NOTE: Check out the comments and consider leaving one of your own over on CommissionerSam.com.

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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jt
Guest
jt

Is ther a list of representatives in the actual meeting? Was it comprehensive?

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

I was very happy to hear that right-hook stings are going to happen, and also (finally!) an explanation as to why no citations have been issued yet (per the DA).

Klixi
Guest
Klixi

Will the right hook stings be with police officers on bicycles? This is fantastic to hear, if it is the case!

What was the explanation of no citations in the Rinker and AAG driver situations?

Doug
Guest
Doug

One thing that Sam said really stuck out to me, that being that both investigations are ongoing and that driver culpability has not yet been ruled out. Also that it is standard practice for police not to issue citations at the scene of a fatal accident.

Being as this is the case, I find Lt. Kruger\’s statements to the press claiming that both drivers shared no fault to be outrageous. A massive opportunity for driver education has been squandered, and we should all find that unacceptable.

JayS.
Guest
JayS.

What was that explination?

b
Guest
b

i was pleased to hear what most people had to say.

though, after hearing kruger speak…i was convinced that he really is a souless robot.
however, sam said that he enjoyed his exchanged with kruger in the meeting that preceded.
so i\’ll just have to trust that maybe someday we\’ll see a positive change in kruger-related events.
i can\’t really picture it yet….but i\’m hoping.

Carl
Guest
Carl

First: I was very impressed with the turnout.

Overall, I thought the message was good, with a promise of evenhandedly increased Education, Enforcement, and Engineering for all roadway users.

The idea of loop detectors for bikes turning on some sort of \”watch for bikes\” light on Interstate, sounds like one of the few signage-type options that\’ll really work. Great idea.

I love the fact that Sam lists Motorists, Cyclists, Pedestrians, and SKATEBOARDERS as road users. Seriously–that\’s awesome.

Kruger and the fellow from the trucking industry stuck to safe statements and kept it short. The trucking guy got cornered by reporters but Kruger appeared to have used some sort of secret trap door in order to magically disappear.

Some fellow made an ass of himself by whingeing about the community being excluded from this closed-door meeting (by interrupting Mark Ginsberg, no less!). Sam rightly pointed out the many chances we\’ve had and will have to speak our minds about these issues.

Scott Bricker did a good job of putting the situation into perspective and reminding us that bicycling is safe and getting safer in Portland encouraging us all to ride in order to make it even safer.

Overall, good things were said and, more importantly, I think good things will be done soon.

Concerned
Guest
Concerned

The reference to getting the DMV involved is a positive step among some of the others. The talk of money for safety updates could very easily come from a dramatic increase in DL fee\’s and renewels with a substantial test every 5 or so years. A test that a 16-yr old doesn\’t take in Spanish just to make it a challenge.

jp
Guest
jp

b #4, that was the first time I\’ve seen/heard Kruger and I agree that he seems like an empty vessel. I was hoping he would say something about drivers since that seems to be his \’thing\’ in all of this but instead he talked about the lights and being seen…well, there\’s two parts to that — yes be seen AND someone has to be looking for you.

Overall, it was great attending today. I definately plan to be at the town hall meetings. We need to start representing, bikers!

Jasun Wurster
Guest
Jasun Wurster

With the group of cyclists at the closed door meeting (Jonathan, Mark Ginsberg, Rodger Geller and others) I am sure that more \’frank\’ concerns were aired. It appears that engineering was the big push to solve the issues from the press conference. I feel that the issue of education of current drivers and enforcement of the new engineering solutions was missing. It sounded like Sam was convinced that \’bike boxes\’ (which most drivers ignore) is the solution. I think he is misguided and could use lots more input from the cycling community.

I am elated that the meeting happened. My biggest rub is that at the press conference citizens were \’NOT\’ permitted to ask questions till after the media. This was utterly disgusting. For the mainstream media were permitted to ask their questions (which were lame and soft) while pushing out the citizens. At one point Sam seemed condescending in his response to a citizen that asked a question during \”the media\’s\” time. He also guided the citizens not to express dismay with the Traffic Divisions mode of operation.

I would have liked to see the media be forced to listen to the citizens questions first, so that they (the media) could report on what the concerns that the large gathering of citizens had. It seemed that the reporters were given preference over citizens.

Sam did say that there would be ample opportunity for us to express our concerns and the onus is on us to do that. Though it would be more accurate to have the media report on those meetings with the same interest as this nice shiny (yet lacking real information) press conference.

b
Guest
b

i agree with a lot of carl\’s points as well.

and i\’m really thankful for all the work that ginsberg, adams, bricker, geller, etc… do for this city.
(even when theres an occasional hoo-haw who thinks it would be a good idea to interrupt them and whine).

kudos to sam for politely reminding him that the community has had MANY opportunities to weigh in on these issues for months/years (and will have more in the future). maybe that guy will get motivated to starting making those meetings a priority.

Dan (teknotus)
Guest
Dan (teknotus)

There wasn\’t much that I hadn\’t heard before, but then I read a lot, and go to almost as many events as I have time. It was nice to see that all of the sides were talking, and they managed to condense the important things into such a short presentation. I agreed with Sam Adams with it being a closed door meeting. Considering that trucking played it so safe in the press conference I don\’t think that anything would have gotten done that involved the truckers if the whole mass that came for the press conference had been allowed in.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

\”One thing that Sam said really stuck out to me, that being that both investigations are ongoing and that driver culpability has not yet been ruled out. Also that it is standard practice for police not to issue citations at the scene of a fatal accident.\”

Yes, that\’s true. I could have made both these points more clear in my reporting.

The DA is looking at the case and still has the option to bring charges. However, all parties I\’ve heard from feel that the DA will not find any criminal wrongdoing in either case.

The DA takes some cue from the recommendations of the police investigators and from what I\’ve from quotes and conversations with Kruger is that in both cases the PPB did not recommend any charges be brought.

Also, I need to make some calls to find out if there is a specific law about not issuing citations for blatant violations when there\’s a fatality.

If that\’s the PPB\’s stated policy, it needs to be codified in the law.

ALSO…regardless of the police bureau\’s citation policy, they still need to do a better job of presenting the facts to the media after these incidents.

In the two fatals and one serious injury crash on Marine Drive, I think the PPB\’s statements carried by the media did not present the facts in a fair and objective way. And in the case of Marine Drive, some very key points were completely left out (more on that later.)

b
Guest
b

thank you for making calls about that law stuff jonathan. i\’m curious as well.

great information.

and it\’s very awesome to have you working so hard on all of this.

vespa
Guest
vespa

agreed on all the media stuff, but police policy need not be codified into law. that\’s just the way it works.

also, when you get in an accident in your car and call the police, unless there is a blatant infraction or crime, ie, DUI, drugs, driving w/o a license, most of the time, the police will not issue a citation. maybe that has to do with it being a no fault state. because the police were not there to witness the incident, they necessarily cannot comment on what happened. If a witness comes forward during the investigation, however, and the DA sees that enough evidence exists to cite and convict a party to the accident, then charges might follow. while it appears that the driver in this instance was at fault due to a \”right hook,\” no one witnessed the incident. no DUI. no drugs. no citation. remember, a driver can fight a citation, and without sufficient evidence, it will be dismissed. if no one is there to testify, what evidence do they have to go on? while I loathe Kruger\’s attitude, who is to say that if they cited the driver, the citation would stick?

this appears to be a terrible hole in our justice system, but one I am not sure how to fill other than by education and avoidance. Please tell me if I am wring, but I hope more can be done.

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

maybe that guy will get motivated to starting making those meetings a priority.

If it\’s who I\’m thinking it might have been, it\’s not necessary – he already makes a lot of those meetings priority and still makes it a point to regularly claim that some conspiratorial \”keep it from the public\” maneuvers are being pulled by Sam & Co.

You know, if. 😉

Doug
Guest
Doug

I\’m still fuzzy on some of the concepts here. Maybe I\’m the only one, so someone please help me out.

Is there a clear distinction between \’criminal wrongdoing\’ and simple traffic infractions, i.e. failure to yield? Is the DA still empowered to issue basic infractions, or can they only deal in more serious crimes such as vehicular manslaughter, assault, etc.?

I overheard a reporter saying before the press conference started that the reason no tickets were issued, the reason in fact that it\’s standard practice for PPB, is that a lesser infraction issued at the scene could supersede more serious charges brought later by the DA. If so, then Kruger\’s decision not to issue the tickets at the scene would be correct, only his statements implying no wrongdoing would be wrong. This would mean that, even if no \’criminal wrongdoing\’ is found, tickets could still be issued, right?

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

While I agree it was a bit frustrating to not see the hard questions from the bike community answered, remember that this was not a meeting for the bike community — this was really a meeting for the mainstream press and the rest of the world (hence the title \”press conference\”), and I think it was targeted well. Let\’s hope the TV and radio people do their job and get the word out without too much twisting.

Aaron Weiss
Guest

Doug said: This would mean that, even if no \’criminal wrongdoing\’ is found, tickets could still be issued, right?

From my conversations with Sgt. Schmautz, that\’s correct. If the DA doesn\’t bring criminal charges, the case goes back to the investigating officer, who could issue traffic citations.

Flyingdog5000
Guest
Flyingdog5000

Jonathan and Doug,

To answer your questions, the reason that they choose not to issue citations in major traffic crashes is a strategic one. If they issue a cite and the individual goes to court and pleads guilty before the DA can charge him, that will preclude (in most cases) any further action against the driver under the 5th Amendment double jeopardy clause. By not citing him immediately, the police give the DA leisure to investigate fully and then make a charging decision.

Regarding Doug\’s question; yes there is a difference. The vast majority of things you get tickets for while driving are infraction; that is, you cannot be arrested or jailed for them. Only a monetary fine is permitted. A person with convictions for most driving offenses can legally say they have no criminal record, because traffic offenses are considered essentially civil in nature and not criminal.
Issues such as DUII, Reckless Driving, Hit&Run and many others are considered crimes and can be punishable by jail time as well as a fine. As far as the DA goes, they only handle criminal matters, so if they determine that the facts only support a infraction citation, they will typically turn that over to the police to process and issue the cite.

Flyingdog5000

BURR
Guest
BURR

I found the statements made from the podium to be mostly warm and fuzzy platitudes and vague promises, no big surprise there.

The proposed engineering changes seem to me to mostly consist of band aid fixes to the existing badly engineered right-hook death-trap bike lanes; none of them are actually going to go away, they are just going to be \’enhanced\’ with bike boxes, blue paint a maybe some signage. I did not hear, for example, that right on red would be banned at these high hazard intersections or that sharrows would be used to to replace any of these right-hook death-trap bike lanes.

Very little was said / offered in the way of new education programs for motorists, other than Sam saying he has approached DMV with his concerns.

el timito
Guest
el timito

I was excited, personally, by the amount of support Sam was putting behind bike boxes. I would refrain from making judgement about bike boxes\’ likely success based on the examples at 39th & Clinton. Personally, as an informed cyclist I find they work for me, because I know I should be pushy and own that space when I\’m at that intersection.
Once more drivers and more cyclists see more boxes and learn what they\’re there for, success will follow.

Sam talked about having DMV add a special \”in Portland\” section to the state driver\’s manual, to inform all ODL holders that they need to be ready for a bigger mix of bikes and peds in the city, and be ready for specialized infrastructure – like bike boxes, \”bike in lane\” lights, etc.
Sam also mentioned pushing DMV to require \”refresher\” testing (my term, not his) for license renewals, so drivers have to become acquainted with new laws (Vulnerable Users, anyone?). And including Portland-oriented questions (i.e., how to drive near bikes) on tests for Portland-based license seekers. Just bringing ODOT (and thus DMV) to the table was a major step in the right direction.

I know that Sam and PDOT are all for more education – See & Be Seen was Sam\’s idea; I Brake for People, Safe Routes to School ed programs, the Share the Road traffic education/diversion course, and many other programs were fostered under Sam\’s watch as Transportation Commissioner. If you didn\’t hear everything you wanted in today\’s press conference, well, can you wait a couple of weeks?

Really, the takeaway I get from this event is that Sam IS serious about safety, that he\’s willing to move decisively and make some significant efforts in the right direction (how quickly would Vera have jumped on this?), and he\’s speaking to an entire community – not just us bike geeks. Give him some thanks for doing the right thing, and save the criticisms for if he starts moving in the wrong direction.

Kirsty
Guest
Kirsty

Sam mentioned a number of times throughout the press conference the oppotunity for public comment on how we address this situation.

He has set up a webpage on his blog especially to address this issue. You can read the document put together this week on how Portland can improve bicycle safety, and then leave your comments for review.

After the two week comment period, Sam indicated there would be another stakeholder meeting with the same folks who were at the table today.

So what are you waiting for? Go to Sam\’s webpage, and start typing!

http://www.commissionersam.com/node/2951

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

A PDF which includes the graphics shown at the press conference has just been posted:

Improving Bicycle Safety in Portland 102607

Tim H
Guest
Tim H

Overall I thought the attention and effort being made by the commissioner and others was a positive response and set an agenda to create new standards for safely sharing the roads.

I was disappointed by the hollow claim by the trucking industry\’s representitive that \”safety is our number one priority\”. If \”safety is our number one priority\” then the \’Blind Spot\’ defense; that you are faultless for running over and killing a person because you couldn\’t see him/her while piloting your multi ton vehicle, is unacceptable.

I have a suggestion. Put a co-pilot in every truck driving through downtown Portland. I\’ve worked on a garbage truck. We had one guy driving and the other navigating and spotting. No blind spots.

Give me a reason why this wouldn\’t work to make these large trucks safer. Is it too expensive? Then stand up and say \”Safety is our number two priority just after controlling costs\”. At least that would be be honest. If they can come up with a better solution, have at it. But DO SOMETHING. don\’t say \”safety is our number one priority\”, it\’s a disingenuous platitude that damages your own personal and your industry\’s credibility.

BURR
Guest
BURR

The pdf has a lot more detail, it\’s worth checking the link and reading it before commenting.

stephenup
Guest
Stephen

Also, relating to the engineering fixes, Sam explained in some detail the funding mechanism that will be used to pay for the bike boxes and/or other measures that are selected to increase bike safety. Finding money in the short term is often not a specialty of large bureaucracies so knowing that there is a plan for this increases my confidence that todays words will result in actions in the near future. He mentioned $4000. x 14 intersections that they have targeted.

I was disappointed, though, that questions from citizens were somewhat marginalized. After the media were finished asking their questions they turned the cameras off and started packing up.

Overall, I agree that the message was good.

K-Man
Guest

Just read this on KGW:
—snip—
Not all bicyclists like bike boxes. Vance Longwell, who writes a blog on biking in Portland, thinks the boxes will make biking more dangerous in Portland.

“This is going to enrage motorists,” said Longwell.

Longwell told kgw.com the bike boxes will give drivers the wrong idea about bikers.

“Oh I’m a poor little bike,” said Longwell, describing what drivers will think about bikers, “I’m a victim, I need a blue lane on the sidewalk just to feel safe.”
—end—

Who\’s this Longwell fella anyways?

Matt
Guest
Matt

I just went to Sam\’s website, and so far, it\’s pretty much all motorists leaving comments about how much they dislike bicyclists.

Come on BikePortanders!!

Sam is asking for your feedback on this important issue, so let him know what you think!

You need to speak up and be heard if you want things to move forward and happen to improve safety out there on the roads for us all after the two recent tragedies.

Slick
Guest
Slick

#28 he\’s a selfish person who is out of touch with reality. he only cares about making roads how he wants them even if it works for noone but him — an agressive, athletic, former messenger (meant in a good way) who\’s been riding for more than 20 years. i\’m glad decision makers try to make the roads safer for the more average person.

BURR
Guest
BURR

ah, but you\’re deluding yourself if you really think the Interstate bike lanes are safe, with or without the blue paint and minor improvements that are proposed. I rode out to Brett\’s memorial today after the press conference and it reminded me why I don\’t use this route. narrow lanes, fast traffic, including busses and semitrucks, double wide drainage grates in the bike lane, bike lane narrows to several usable inches under a number of overpasses, etc. It\’s really just an attractive nuisance, and luring novices to such a hazardous facility is just asking for trouble; Brett was a pro and he bit it, the blue bike lanes are just a band aid.

Caoimhin
Guest
Caoimhin

I agree with Burr (31) about the false sense of safety that the Interstate bike lanes give. I ride that route twice daily, year-round. I\’ve been right-hooked twice southbound at Russell (across from Widmer\’s). There are numerous danger spots along Interstate, too many to enumerate here. When those bike lanes first went in, I wrote to Roger Geller and told him they earned a D- on their design. The response was only excuses and rationales.

PoPo
Guest
PoPo

Flyingdog 5000 (#20) is right on the money. Nice explanation.

On a side note, Critical Mass just finished. Very respectful, somber, ride, with conscientious, safe riding.

I am proud of our biking community.

erin g.
Guest
erin g.

I feel that this site should be reserved for positive, forward-moving comments and dialogue, but I must say this in response to #28 (in case I am thinking of the same guy): despite being someone who celebrates free speech and the value of diversity of opinion, my heart sank today when one tall, loud fellow in the room abruptly interrupted Commissioner Adams mid-remark, rather than diplomatically awaiting the appropriate moment. I am observant when it comes to communications tactics, always studying those that prompt productive dialogue and problem-solving and, conversely, those that hinder it. The guy to whom I refer unfortunately fell into the latter category, so hopefully the majority of productive communicators outweighed his impact on press conference attendees. First, he accused Sam Adams of failing to hold public meetings, when the fact is that, had the individual been better attuned, he’d have known that Sam continues to hold numerous open town hall meetings throughout our community in an effort to address the issues that we are concerned about (one of which I plan to attend at Sellwood Middle School next week…see you all there!). After the press conference disbanded, I quietly lingered in hopes of encouraging reporters to cover the news in a way that prompts constructive thought and discourse rather than fueling the detrimental cars vs. bikes/them vs. us mentality. Up close, I listened in alarm as the man who interrupted Sam leapt in front of rolling cameras, pulling for reporters’ attention, vigorously positioning views that I did not feel reflected the majority of our strong, thoughtful, and strategic bike community. The language was aggressive, and the approach was discourteous, closed-minded, and counterproductive from what I observed. At one point this man lashed out the BTA Executive Director, news cameras rolling, rather than respectfully engaging in dialogue offered. He cut off the speaker, noting that he “didn’t care” about what was being conveyed (at that point the BTA director was talking about his personal concern for the safety of his family while on bikes…I cringed at witnessing this behavior).

Whereas the individual had every right to do speak out in his own way, I worried that his actions might prompt the mainstream news media to apply an impatient, uninformed, extremist, and most inaccurate face to our greater community, when- in reality- despite our vast spectrum of diversity, we are largely unified by a shared belief in taking a positive, firm, and forward-moving approach to solving problems that impact us
(thank you, Jonathan, for always encouraging these values as we comment. The solidarity that it fosters is something remarkable that we all can be proud of).

We work hard to seek solutions to the dangers that we face on a daily basis, and the media plays a key role in supporting or hindering our work towards increased awareness and community support. We must keep this in mind as we engage (or opt not to engage) with the media. Just as television news stations sometimes hone in on the one act of vandalism that might occur at a 99.9% peaceful antiwar protest, today I worried that one most negative voice and approach might tarnish the positive facets of what happened today at City Hall. Fortunately, it appears as though the important issues are being covered tonight more so than angry, discordant oppositionist/extremist perspectives (then again, I have no t.v., so I have not seen many reels, just those running online). What do you all think of post-press conference media coverage, beyond the given of Jonathan’s excellent work?

Keep up the movement, everyone. I am proud to live in Portland at a time like this, despite how sad a week it has been. Jonathan, you deserve infinite thanks and support. Let us know how we can best help you (donations? Fundraising for your next trip to D.C.?) And Commissioner Adams, I much look forward to calling you “Mayor!” Thank you for all that you do, from addressing the immediate safety needs of our bike community to hosting fantastic First Thursday art receptions at City Hall…you are a gift to our city!

Freaked out Motorist
Guest
Freaked out Motorist

I am concerned with bike boxes. After Tracey Sparling\’s Crash, I thought they sounded like a great idea. But if I understand them right from the PDF and the stuff from the oregonian a while ago, they don\’t seem to help with when the cars are in motion. Would they have helped with Brett\’s Crash? (please understand also I am using the word \”crash\” for lack of a better term)

As a motorist, my problem is visibility. I know to look for a cyclist if I have passed it, and I know to check my mirrors and look over my shoulder. Where I have a problem with Visibility is if a cyclist turned onto the street on I\’m and I didn\’t have a chance to pass them and know they are there – this is fine when I look over my shoulder and can see them, but I\’m worried that if there is a bend in the road I won\’t be able to see far enough back. In addition, seeing at night is a problem, especially if there is a car with bright lights or is an suv or a truck (I\’m in a smallish 4-door car). Obviously I err on the side of caution, but eventually I have to turn the corner. In scenarios like I\’ve described above, No matter how much I\’ve looked, visibility is still flawed. Do I guess then? If we can\’t guarantee 100% the ability for our streets to be visible, is that fair to cyclists or cars?

While I am glad the meeting like the one today happened, I have to wonder if our city leaders have actually gotten in a car, driven around on a majority of the streets and really identified and evaluated the true issues.

As I was driving home tonight, there was a large truck behind (Not commercial, more like F150 type) with extremely bright lights (Not a rare thing). I did a quick check over my shoulder to see the effect that it had on my visibility, and it was glaring – I highly doubt I would have been able to identify a cyclist under that condition.

I really really want everyone to be safe – and I want us to all to work together to make that happen.

Do you guys, as cyclists, feel that my concerns, as a motorist, are valid?

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

With all due respect, I appreciate the sense of urgency to do something to make these intersections more safe. I do not find the Blue Bike Boxes to be the solution.

Today I anticipated 3 cars on Everett who would make the turn without noticing me. One guy was on his cell phone completely oblivious.

I ride the Interstate route everyday to work.

I think the only sensible solution here will be for me to change my commute route and find a safer route.

I\’m not sure what the solution is, obviously I\’m still to close to the issue.

Alicia
Guest

And yet no comprehensive outreach & education plan in the neighborhoods involving all the bike-oriented orgs/disorgs was suggested?…seems pretty obvious.

erin g.
Guest
erin g.

Hey everyone….please see Kirsty\’s great comment, #23. I just posted a comment on Sam Adams\’ blog…and you should, too! Let\’s work hard to outweigh any incident of anti-cyclist commentary that is occurring there. We can do it!

Alicia
Guest

i\’ll retract my last comment. hopefully an outreach plan that is more diverse and involving more media will increase public knowledge of the city\’s education plan and the options offered for cyclists and drivers to learn how to live together.

Inky
Guest
Inky

While Bike Boxes would be helpful, and I do support them, it’s time for Portland to think on a much grander scale. Amongst the comments from another article someone asked why biking in Amsterdam and Copenhagen is so much safer. It’s for many reasons, but one of the main ones is an investment in bicycle infrastructure.

In Amsterdam there are 2 features in particular that I was impressed with. In the inner city, bike lanes are separated from car traffic with curbs, a distinct separate lane that no car can venture into without hopping the curb. These are bike lanes only, no pedestrians (they have their own sidewalk). There are several comments about how unsafe people feel while riding on Interstate Ave. Maybe a curbed bike lane would help.

The second safety feature is that traffic signals have a separate light for bicycles. Actually, the traffic lights have lights for buses, bikes, pedestrians, and cars, and the lights give priority in this order also, i.e. , buses go first, bikes and pedestrians second, and cars last. I think this would go a long way to sorting out the right hook problem.

Portland over the last few years has reach a “critical mass” if you will, where bicycles have to be taken seriously as a common mode of transportation, so I believe it’s time to start making some investments other than just paint. Admittedly, this is some pretty serious money we’re talking here, but if we hope and intend for the current trend of increased cycling to continue then we are going to have to make these investments eventually, and it’s time to start talking about it now.

Tbird
Guest
Tbird

I didn\’t get attend the conference, but after reading reports of what was discussed I am surprised there isn\’t a plan to provide aggressive signage directed at motorists regarding bikes. Maybe there is…Can anyone tell me?

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

I notice that in the above list of attendee\’s (which I understand to not be complete), one of the missing names on it is Tri Met. While I am sure they are being included, it is high profile names like their\’s that should be held accountable, and listed as possible, or probable, violators

Tri Met is one of the biggest abusers of bike lane and crosswalk laws in our fine city.

Tri Met buses continually pull \”right hooks\”, they wait until the light is going yellow to red before pulling from the stopped position into the intersection, and at many intersections, turn so early as to scrape the inside curb with their inside wheels.

This is highly evident especially at the east end of the Steel Bridge, where during turning they use the whole intersection, blocking the bike lanes on both sides of the street, and cutting early both sidewalks. If you are waiting for the light to turn, in the bike lane or crosswalk, even heading south, it is a dangerous place to be.

If the trucking and freight industries are going to be held to higher standards from now on, then Tri Met, the largest violator, should be used as the poster child of this movement.

Those little yellow triangles on the back of the bus (that legally give the bus the right of way in most any situation) are not going to get me killed, and If I have anything to do with it, will never do the same to anyone else.

Let\’s reign in the great white horse that Tri Met and others roll around our town on, and put out to pasture the thought that cyclists are second class citizens.

VR
Guest
VR

I think bike boxes are a good start.

My basic belief is that if we have enough different bicycle facilities around people will get used to paying attention to bikes.

Some bike lanes. Some bike boulevards. Some bike boxes. Some bike signals. Some bike paths and crossings. Some bike parking oasis\’. Some bike corrals. Some bike tracks.

All of those things when sprinkled throughout the city – while possibly not 100% effective on their own, when added together make a strong bicycle presence and drivers tend to adjust.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Also, people,
If a driver cannot see or is already ignoring the crosswalk and the bike lane right next to him, what the hell good is a bike box, or more useless sharrows going to do? People don\’t even know what the hell they mean anyway.

What is needed is proper enforcement by the police, proper signage at the levels that most drivers are looking, and continued education (beyond the driving test booklet) as to the dangers of right hand turns.

In reality, most drivers have no clue it is even legal for a bike to pass on the right hand side of a car.

This is purely evident by the reactions some of them will give up when this happens.

The real answer is to scare people, through heavy handed enforcement (stings) and education, into driving properly and safely.

But sadly, if news coverage of these deaths does not do that for us, I doubt anything our lackluster police force does will fair better.

By the way, why is Kruger still employed by the PPD?

He should have been fired a long time ago.

Qwendolyn
Guest
Qwendolyn

Nice to have you back, Dabby.

It had been a while since you posted anything here.

antonio gramsci
Guest
antonio gramsci

I guess I shouldn\’t be surprised, but I continue to be appalled that so few of my fellow cyclists have taken note of the fact that the \”righthook\” is a common category of collisions that we as cyclists can largely eliminate simply by changing our riding habits and consistently adopting a position in the roadway closest to our intended direction of travel.

It is both tragic and appalling that so few people comprehend this.

Accordingly, I think the highest priority has to be disseminating wider knowledge of safe riding practices, and eliminating any other barriers to such practices (eg, police enforcement of improperly striped bikelanes that corral riders into the \”suicide slot\” right between motorists and their right turns).

It\’s really tragic that no push for these things seems to be emerging: where is the funding for cyclist education in the schools, for instance?

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Thanks……

Is good to be back.

I had banned myself from commenting.

As you can tell I am still quite opinionated. Probably too much so.

a.O
Guest
a.O

\”The real answer is to scare people, through heavy handed enforcement…\”

Worst idea ever.

bicycledave
Guest

I think a bike box could have saved Tracey Sparling\’s life, but I don\’t think it would have helped Brett Jarolimek. Sam\’s suggestion of a warning light signaled by a sensor in the bike lane would help in the situation where a bike is approaching a green light (as Brett was).

I support bike boxes and I think they will work if done right. Right now most people don\’t know what they are, but when they are all over the city that will change.

When the new boxes are in I hope there will be a campaign to educate the public about them. Maybe a press release that cars stopping in the bike box will be warned at first then ticketed.

The bike box can also give cyclists a clue as to which drivers we should be wary of. If a car is stopped in the bike box it may be prudent to stay back or knock on their window and educate them depending on your personal style.

john
Guest
john

Whoa, people ! Every single cyclist i have talked to in the last week or so, I mean EVERY single ONE, Would like to adopt the California style of bike lane. As well as everyone in my family.

Why is it that a few bicycle activists feel like they speak for all?

Good Grief people, what are you doing? What kind of messy crap, crazy paint schemes, illogical rules are you creating on the roads. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Please I feel like I am literally begging for my life and other cyclist\’s lives.

The right Hook is totally eliminated when we allow bicycles to go left around right turning vehicles. This is what I try to do anyway (i refuse to put my life into the hands of someone who may not see me. The drivers behind me, they can see me, the driver in front, maybe, maybe not, he might be watching that pedestrian in front of him…).

Quit forcing me to go on the inside of a right turning vehicle and putting my life into someone hands where I am not in their direct field of vision. For the Love of God, please keep it simple.

Please let the professional traffic engineers work on this. Not the portland \”bike lobby\” pressuring policians who pressure the professional traffic people. Currently we have to co-exist with drivers and cars.

This really is a simple issue. It really is all about the right turning vehicles interacting with the bike lane. Who ever came up with idea to make drivers, in a lane they can be furthest right in, who want to get off of a road, have to be responsible for traffic streaming by them on the right? For Traffic not in their field of vision! ??

Whoever\’s idea this was, and this is harsh, but true, Brett\’s blood is on your hands. Period.

And quit talking bad about the Police. They see a lot more crap, deal with it day in and day out, and much broader view then you do. They have a hard Job, and when bad stuff happens guess who you will be calling.

Explain to me, why the California bike lane law is not a good idea.