Harvest Century September 22nd

Police quotes raise safety concerns

Posted by on October 29th, 2007 at 1:45 pm

Education about bicycle laws is a major factor in keeping our roads safe for everyone. Increasing awareness and understanding of these laws is just as important as any bike safety infrastructure or policy changes.

That’s why some cyclists are concerned that a quote attributed to a Portland Police Bureau employee and published by the Oregonian on Sunday, not only makes this education effort more difficult but it contributes to a more dangerous environment on our streets.

The statements came from Traffic Division Lieutenant Mark Kruger. Kruger was asked:

What are the responsibilities of a cyclist when the bike lane they’re in ends?

To which he was quoted as saying,

“Cyclists are required to ride as close as practical to the right shoulder unless they’re turning left, Kruger says. They can ride as close as practical to the left shoulder on a one-way street within a city.”

Portlander Guy Berliner, who has posted his concern in both comments on this site and in emails to the Shift email list (where many others have chimed in with concern), says Kruger’s statement endangers cyclists.

He plans to write a letter to Oregonian editors that says in part,

“This advice is erroneous and potentially life-threatening, because it was precisely this behavior which led to the deaths of the two cyclists in separate incidents recently…in each case, they were riding in the bike lane past a roadway exit or intersection, through a spot which cycling safety educators have dubbed the “suicide slot,” the stretch of the bike lane that lies in the path of right turning or exiting vehicles.

Cycling safety experts have long counseled cyclists to avoid riding through these hazard zones when their intended direction of travel is through an intersection, advising them to merge into a through-traffic lane.”

Others point out that besides encouraging risky behavior, Kruger’s quote and the Oregonian article also make no mention of key legal provisions that give bicyclists the right to leave a bike lane for a variety of reasons.

According to ORS 814.420 and 814.430, cyclists can legally leave the bike lane and/or operate on the road when no bike lane is present when (among other things),

  • Overtaking and passing another bicycle, a vehicle or a pedestrian that is in the bicycle lane.
  • Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions (which can include debris, car doors, and drainage grates).
  • Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right. (This describes the situation in both recent fatalities.)
  • Operating at a speed that does not impede other road users.

When faced with hazards like this one,
bicyclists have the right to take the lane.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

As someone who often rides a bicycle in Portland traffic, I hear all too often from motorists who think I have no right to be on the road at any time. That’s why it’s absolutely imperative, especially during times of heightened tension due to tragic events, that our city employees and our local media outlets do their part to help educate the public and decrease tensions on the road.

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

46 Comments
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    a.O October 29, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    \”As someone who often rides a bicycle in Portland traffic, I hear all too often from motorists who think I have no right to be on the road at any time.\”

    This is, in my opinion, the #1 cause of cyclist-motorist conflict. Drivers who are ignorant of the law become enraged by having to \”wait\” for a bike that is not at the far right of the lane, and then do something that endangers the cyclist\’s life in an attempt to intimiate the cyclist. This has to stop. Drivers need to be educated about 814.420 and 814.430.

    \”Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right. (This describes the situation in both recent fatalities.)\”

    I think your parenthetical conclusion is incorrect. The statutory text states that it\’s a lane where the motor vehicle \”must\” turn right. In both situations, the motor vehicle could have either turned right or proceeded straight. As I understand it, this provision only allows you to ride in the lane to the left of a right turn (only) lane.

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    a.O October 29, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    I meant to say, with regard to the first excerpt I quoted above, I also \”hear all too often\” from motorists in these situations because I ride my bike defensively, that is, in a way that protects my safety from all the common hazards that motorists present to cyclists, such as the deadly right-hook.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 29, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    \”I think your parenthetical conclusion is incorrect.\”

    Thanks a.O.,

    I didn\’t read that exception carefully enough. I have edited the post accordingly.

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    Antonio Gramsci October 29, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    If you are right, that we are only allowed to avoid the \”suicide slot\” when the hazard of a right hook collision is \”certain\” but not merely when that hazard is possible or probable, then we have identified a glaring and intolerable defect in the current Oregon law. In such a case, I would advise cyclists to pay any fines that courts try to levy on us for this until such time as we can have this law changed, and then demand a retroactive refund for all who have been fined under these conditions. Better yet, we should secure an agreement with the city of Portland, at least, not to issue tickets to cyclists who leave a bike lane for the purpose of avoiding this hazard, until the law can be changed.

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    BURR October 29, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    It\’s important to make the distinction that 814.420 applies when bike lanes are present and 814.430 applies when bike lanes are absent.

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    Inky October 29, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    AMEN!!! Especially to the last paragraph.
    Thanks Jonathan

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    a.O October 29, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    It\’s tricky. I read it the same way the first time, probably at least in part because that\’s the way the law *should* be. That is, \”must\” should be replaced with \”may\” in order to improve safety for cyclists.

    Although that provision, as written now, would not apply to Tracey Sparling\’s situation, I would argue that anyone approaching Burnside on SW 14th Ave heading north would not be required to use the bike lane if proceeding straight because the right hook from the lane to the left that allows users to turn right or proceed straight is a known road hazard, and that fits another exception for bike lane usage. At least that\’s what I will argue if I\’m ever cited for not using the bike lane there, which is something I will never, ever do again.

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    a.O October 29, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    By the way (and sorry to be posting so much here), but we should make up a flyer explaining these two provisions and leave them on winshields throughout the city and post them everywhere people who drive are likely to see them.

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    Disco D October 29, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    I can\’t even count the number of times I have been yelled at to \”get back onto the sidewalk\”.

    It is definitely true that people have no idea what cyclists should/should not be doing.

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    Jeff October 29, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    In fact, I believe there is significantly MORE discretion available to cyclists than has been let on thus far. Apply a liberal interpretation to the following:

    \”(c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side. Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.\”

    The interpretation of safe operation is left almost entirely to the cyclist in this clause, with limited exception. Phrases like \”When reasonably necessary\” and \”other conditions\” are at the sole discretion of the cyclist at the time of operation. Don\’t let the cops tell you otherwise. If you were standing in front of a judge and said \”I felt it was reasonably necessary given conditions\”, and cite recent incidents, what come back could they have?

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    tonyt October 29, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Frankly, and I mean this in all seriousness, it would be nice if Kruger shut up for a while. Really. He is not helping.

    Read the #4 comment from the following story.

    http://bikeportland.org/2007/10/26/report-from-the-bike-safety-meting-and-press-conference/#more-5691

    I quote it below.

    \”Doug
    October 26th, 2007 14:35 #4
    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.\”

    I think Doug is right on. This is a HUGE issue.

    There is a real price to be paid for Kruger\’s extensive and erroneous statements, and it will be paid by cyclists who now have to deal with motorists who get their education from Kruger\’s comments.

    Mayor Potter and/or Sam Adams? How about a meeting with Lt. Kruger. Perhaps he can be persuaded to back out of the spotlight for a while. It would be greatly appreciated.

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    Just a suggestion October 29, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    I agree with all the safety info stated above and, as a driver, I understand that the cyclist has the right to take the lane when the bike lane ends. Can I add that this right should be followed with the phrase \”when safe to do so.\” For example: If you are in a car driving in the right lane of traffic which is now ending and must merge into the left lane (such as a freeway onramp), you must do so only if it is safe; you can\’t just veer into the left lane because your lane is now ended. You must signal and wait for the safe opportunity (or until a driver in the left lane allows you) to merge. I think if that concept applied here, it would help keep many, many riders safe.

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    rixtir October 29, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    The interpretation of safe operation is left almost entirely to the cyclist in this clause, with limited exception. Phrases like \”When reasonably necessary\” and \”other conditions\” are at the sole discretion of the cyclist at the time of operation. Don\’t let the cops tell you otherwise. If you were standing in front of a judge and said \”I felt it was reasonably necessary given conditions\”, and cite recent incidents, what come back could they have?

    You\’re half right.

    You make a subjective determination about safe operation, but the legality of your subjective determination is subject to an objective \”reasonable person\” standard.

    What comeback would a judge have? If a judge or jury would find that a \”reasonable person\” wouldn\’t have made the same subjective determination you did, your subjective determination wasn\’t reasonable.

    That said, there is tremendous leeway in the statutory language for cyclists to avoid hazardous conditions.

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    BURR October 29, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    \”…there is tremendous leeway in the statutory language for cyclists to avoid hazardous conditions.\”

    Among other things, THIS is what Kruger or whoever should be telling motorists, not the BS he was quoted as saying in the big O.

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    Bjorn October 29, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    #13, exactly what a cyclist may deem unsafe a cop is just as likely to deem as safe enough that you should have been in the bike lane. Once they write you that ticket the fixed gear cases have shown us that it is a crap shoot with the outcome being entirely dependant on which administrative judge you happen to end up with. Tickets have been issued to folks for leaving the bike lane on Broadway even though someone has been killed while riding in that bike lane. I\’ve been doored there twice so I just don\’t ride on Broadway anymore and if I did I wouldn\’t consider the bike lane safe, but it really isn\’t what you think, it is what the cop thinks, and my understanding is that Kruger is unfortunately setting a lot of that policy right now…

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    BURR October 29, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    which is why Kruger has got to go…

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    rixtir October 29, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    Bjorn, I really have to disagree that it\’s what the cop thinks. I understand that may be what you\’ve perceived, but if you have the law on your side, you are generally going to win. Yes, it is to some extent a crap shoot as to the temperament of the judge you draw, but generally speaking, assuming that you were operating within the law in the first place, it\’s up to you, and not the cop or the judge, to win or lose your case.

    You can\’t compare the fixed gear cases to this statute, because the language is different. In this statute, you have an enormous amount of discretion to avoid hazards. Yes, your discretion is tempered by the requirement that it must be \”reasonable,\” but if you can make the case that a hazard existed, and that a \”reasonable person\” would have left the bike lane, as you did, to avoid a hazard, before returning to the bike lane, you will in all likelihood win your case.

    Now, if you want to claim that it is always hazardous to ride in the bike lane, and that is why you were not riding in the bike lane, you\’re likely going to lose your case, and you\’re wise to avoid Broadway.

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    Antonio Gramsci October 29, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    I use Broadway all the time, because it is one of the simplest routes to get across Burnside into the southwest part of downtown. I always have to turn right to get to the river, and the bike lane is on the other side of the street as I recall. I position myself closest to my intended direction of travel, which is straight, and then left, hence, I take the left lane on Broadway.

    If the bike lane law says I can\’t do that and must stay in the bike lane and merge across the entire breadth of Broadway at the last possible moment, then the bike lane law has essentially made Broadway (and by extension many other streets) unusable for a large percentage of cyclists — a most distressing and counterintuitive result for a category of infrastructure whose whole purpose was supposed to be to make riding more appealing and feasible, not less.

    We either need to get rid of bike lanes, get rid of this law, get rid of Kruger, or some combination of all of the above. Since so many people are enamored of the lanes, my vote would be for the latter two.

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    Antonio Gramsci October 29, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Oops, I meant to say \”I always have to turn left to get to the river\”

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    rixtir October 29, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    If the bike lane law says I can\’t do that and must stay in the bike lane and merge across the entire breadth of Broadway at the last possible moment

    You can leave the lane to prepare to execute a left turn.

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    BURR October 29, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    \”You can leave the lane to prepare to execute a left turn.\”

    Not that long ago a bunch of cyclists had to defend themselves in court after they got tickets for doing exactly this at the west end of the Hawthorne bridge during a police \’sting\’.

    I shouldn\’t have to be this way, the cops appear to need reeducation as bad as or worse than the average motorist; they are bound together in their stubborn ignorance of these portions of the law.

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    DR October 29, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    \”You can leave the lane to prepare to execute a left turn.\”

    We\’re straying a bit here…but can anyone say how far in advance one can leave a bike lane to prepare for a left turn? When on Broadway and heading toward the Hawthorne Bridge, I usually leave the bike lane 1-2 blocks before Madison and begin merging left, signaling my intentions and moving over 1 lane at a time. Beginning the merge early makes for a safe and smooth transition, but is it technically illegal?

    But back to the original topic. Kruger needs to be publicly censured for his misleading comments. If Mayor Potter and Chief Sizer allow his comments to stand without making a public statement to the contrary, then they are implicitly endorsing those comments. I’ve already written to Sam Adams and Mayor Potter on this subject. Have you? If the answer is no, then the next question is why not?

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    a.O October 29, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    \”I’ve already written to Sam Adams and Mayor Potter on this subject. Have you? If the answer is no, then the next question is why not?\”

    We\’re preparing a petition on this very topic that we want the entire Portland cycling community to sign.

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    Tasha October 29, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    BURR and others:

    I do this left turn things on Broadway and 3rd Ave as well quite often, usually AFTER getting off the Broadway Bridge heading West. I get into the left hand lane as soon as it\’s safe to do so, which means I am sometimes in the left lane for 4-6 blocks before actually turning left. I also do this when heading South on NW 19th Ave and wanting to turn left onto Everett. I usually get out of the bicycle lane before Glisan and go the 2-3 blocks before turning left because it is safer to do so. If I got ticketed for doing this, I\’d be pretty annoyed. I do what is safest for me at the time.

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    rixtir October 29, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    Burr, 21, I know that happened, and it shouldn\’t have happened. But they did win their case. no?

    DR, 22:

    can anyone say how far in advance one can leave a bike lane to prepare for a left turn? When on Broadway and heading toward the Hawthorne Bridge, I usually leave the bike lane 1-2 blocks before Madison and begin merging left, signaling my intentions and moving over 1 lane at a time. Beginning the merge early makes for a safe and smooth transition, but is it technically illegal?

    If a \”reasonable person\” would think it\’s necessary to begin that transition 1-2 blocks before the turn, then it would be considered legal. Proper lane use is a very fluid and dynamic concept, and will always be dependent upon the conditions actually existing at that time and place. The closer you are to operating the way the hypothetical average, reasonable person would under those exact same conditions, the more legally defensible your preparation to turn will be.

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    9watts October 29, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    I am concerned with the degree to which bike lanes may suggest to the public at large, but particularly to some cranky car drivers, that this is *the only* place we cyclists belong on Portland\’s roads. Akin to \’infants belong in strollers,\’ \’children should use the sidewalk,\’ and \’all grownups belong in cars.\’ Besides being patronizing, occasionally dangerous or even deadly, it seems to be based on a misunderstanding of the purpose (and limits) of bike lanes.

    As part of the emerging chorus calling for re-education of especially motorized and/or impatient contributors to Portland traffic, I\’d suggest contextualizing bike lanes, helping all of us understand their purpose and the limits to their use. Perhaps someone contributing to this discussion can speak to this?

    I think of virtually all of Portland\’s surface streets as open to cyclists (if they choose to use them). As someone who is not easily intimidated by motorized traffic I find myself regularly using major roads around town and don\’t appreciate those in cars sharing their resentment of my presence among them. To the extent that bike lanes further this notion I think we should be wary of the separate but unequal frame they perpetuate of this issue.

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    Scott October 29, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    I hate to defend Kruger, but aren\’t we taking his words out of context? He was asked the question:

    \”What are the responsibilities of a cyclist when the bike lane they’re in ends?\”

    I interpret this as meaning the cyclist is no longer riding in a bike lane (it has ended). This isn\’t relevant to either cyclist fatality because they were both in bike lanes.

    Guy Berliner\’s response is reference to cyclists using bike lanes.
    “This advice is erroneous and potentially life-threatening, because it was precisely this behavior which led to the deaths of the two cyclists in separate incidents recently\”
    This isn\’t what Kruger said.

    Kruger\’s answer would have been better if would have used the words as close the curb as is safe, instead of practical, though.

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    rixtir October 29, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    The correct word is \”practicable.\” the problem is, almost nobody knows what that means. In fact, it wouldn\’t surprise me if Kruger said \”practicable\” and the reporter heard \”practical.\”

    Of course, it wouldn\’t surprise me either if Kruger said \”practical.\”

    In court, cops will sometimes say the law requires you to ride as close as \”practical,\” or as close as \”possible\” to the right. That definition must always be challenged in court, because it\’s wrong.

    The actual meaning is much closer to what Scott suggested– as close as is safe.

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    Kevin Wagoner October 29, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks for this post. I was completely puzzled on Sunday when I read this. I\’m still a bit confused. I know my friend John has the local legal guide so I\’m going to study up on that.

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    rixtir October 29, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    You can get it online too:

    http://www.stc-law.com/pdf/Pedal_Power_Jun19.pdf

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    BURR October 29, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Here\’s some share the road PSA\’s from San Luis Obispo

    http://www.slobikelane.org/sharetheroad.htm

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    Antonio Gramsci October 29, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    You can try to parse Kruger\’s words in ways that are less damning, but I\’m talking about the only reasonable conclusion that a person would draw from reading them, in that article, in their totality, in the context of two recent deaths of riders close to the road shoulder in the \”suicide slot,\” in each of their cases in a bike lane. In the article, published in this context, he is quoted as saying that you have the right of way in a bike lane even when a motorist is turning through it. He is quoted as saying you have an obligation when not in a bike lane to be \”as close as practical\” to the right. What he has NOT said is anything that would be helpful to cyclists trying to avoid the tragic fate of those recently killed, which prompted the article in the first place.

    In fact, everything he has said leads people to believe that there was nothing those riders could have done to protect themselves, since they were in the bike lane and \”had the right of way,\” and need to either be in the bike lane, or be \”as close to the right as practical,\” which pretty much excludes any possibility of them being able to do anything to protect themselves. (Ok, it does suggest in the article that you should \”watch out\” and be prepared to \”give up the right of way,\” fine if you have real good reaction time and detect the danger soon enough, but totally inadequate when we know there is another solution that is much superior: avoiding the danger scenario altogether.)

    For a public safety officer whose whole mission is to protect all road users, to give such counsel to cyclists in this context is dereliction of duty, pure and simple.

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    andy October 29, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    Here\’s another couple of disturbing statements Lt. Kruger made in the Oregonian on Oct. 13th (after Tracey\’s memorial ride):

    The first quote was preceded by one of Kruger\’s statements which was paraphrased by the journalist (and I\’ll grant that he could have been misconstrued): \”Lt. Mark Kruger of the Portland Police Bureau\’s traffic division counters that Oregon\’s current law puts an impossible requirement on drivers making right turns to spot cyclists in blind spots or unexpected positions.\” (emphasis mine)

    Which was immediately followed by a direct quote:

    \”Motorists have been conditioned for 100 years that no one is going to pass them on the right,\” Kruger said. \”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.\”

    A couple of things: first, motorists pass on the right all the time. Drive any multi-lane road in the city and you\’ll see this for yourself. It\’s really only a problem in Kruger\’s eyes if it\’s a cyclist doing the passing – regardless of what the law says (ORS 811.415 (2)(c)). Apparently, Kruger believes that it really is too much trouble for the motorist to actually turn their head and look for anything smaller than a Mini Cooper when executing a lane change or a turn. Second, and more disturbing, Kruger made that statement about Tracey Sparling\’s death and it was patently untrue. Tracey was stopped at the light. She was not moving at high speed. Why would Kruger willfully misrepresent the facts of the case?

    And then there\’s this quote:

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

    Frankly, you could say exactly the same thing about motorists in a standard traffic lane. Are motorists being trained by activist groups, too? But seriously, it does not sound to me like Kruger will take any cyclist seriously, no matter what the law says, no matter the behavior of the cyclist. You could be the most conscientious, defensive, law-abiding cyclist on the road, and he\’ll still give a free pass to the motorist who runs you down just because he: 1.) doesn\’t believe cyclists should be on the road in the first place; and 2.) will assume you are just another arrogant, \”activist-trained\”, careless cyclist who deliberately put yourself in harms way.

    We definitely need better educated drivers. We could amend the ORS so that there are stricter penalties for motorists who are at fault in a collision and who kill or injure. But the bottom line is: the laws are pointless if they are not enforced. Education is flawed if statements by the PPD are erroneous or false. If the PPD does not issue clear and truthful statements on a cyclist\’s right to the road, and will not enforce the laws to begin with, where does that leave us?

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    BURR October 29, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    Kruger has now completely contradicted himself. I would interpret these early quotes cited in #33 as anti-bike lane, whereas the quotes from Sunday\’s paper are pro-bike lane to the extreme. It\’s kind of schizophrenic and I can\’t help but wonder if there\’s more going on here than meets the eye.

    By activist-trained I assume he\’s conjuring up the ghost of Portland Critical Masses past, which Kruger and the Traffic Division systematically crushed between 2002 and 2005, until there was nothing left. Unless he means the BTA????

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    marc October 29, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    can anyone tell us where the hell kruger i getting his interpretation of the laws pertaining to the topic at hand? really it seems so scatter-shot and so not what seems to be the dominant message out of city hall. frankly within the past week i\’ve heard and read enough from his piehole to believe he\’s in way over his head or he truly views cyclists as 2nd class road users.

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    Antonio Gramsci October 29, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    Despite the seeming inconsistency with Kruger (one minute, he is delivering a harsh critique of bike lanes, even indicting them on safety grounds in terms not entirely unlike some cycling safety educators, in the next seemingly implying that cyclists must be in them come hell or high water) there is in fact a way to consistently understand all his words and actions so far:

    Whatever the subject, if it concerns cyclists, he can be relied on to take a position that discomfits the largest number of them.

    That interpretation is so far the one that actually consistently explains everything we\’ve seen so far.

    It fits with the absence of any citations for the motorists in the Jarolimek and Sparling cases. It fits with his remarks in The Oregonian. It fits with his advocacy of the California law allowing motorists to merge into bike lanes prior to turns. It fits with his snide remarks about \”activist groups\” supposedly \”coaching\” cyclists \”against their own good.\” Etc etc. Especially the latter remarks tell me that we are not dealing with someone who has a rational viewpoint, but rather, an irrational animus against a certain category of road users.

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    christine October 30, 2007 at 9:21 am

    a while back A.O. suggested making up some educational flyers and leaving them on car windshields around time. i am all for this. i think that we have to stop depending on kruger or anyone else in a position of authority to be able to decipher right from wrong, and go to direct action measures.

    i really think that MOST drivers just don\’t know the laws. many people have moved here from other places around the country that do not have such a strong bike presence, so they don\’t have a ton of experience sharing the road. plus, there is next to nothing in driver manuals about sharing the road with bikes. so-education is up to us. it won\’t help with the drivers here and there that are actually psychotic and drive in a way to purposefully intimidate cyclists, but nothing really will short of therapy and possibly medication.

    is there interest in this? another friend and i were talking about doing it a couple of weeks ago, and if there are more people into it then we could really make an impact. its not about hating cars for destroying the environment and community, its about objectively saying, \”what can we do to make the roads safer for cyclists?\”

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    tonyt October 30, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Antonio #32,

    About Kruger, you said \”everything he has said leads people to believe that there was nothing those riders could have done to protect themselves.\”

    Actually, I read his quotes to mean quite the opposite. To me he seems to be saying, and infering by ommission, that there was nothing that the DRIVERS could have done to prevent the collisions and THAT is what I think is so dangerous about this situation.

    In Tracey\’s case, the driver could have waited a few seconds to insure that anyone in his blind spot moved out of it, and then proceeded with utmost caution. I don\’t think this is asking too much of a truck full of concrete in the middle of a busy downtown.

    In Brett\’s case, the driver knew Brett was on the road (he passed him after all) and yet he obviously did NOT consider that Brett, coasting down a long hill, might actually still be right near him.

    You could argue that Kruger shouldn\’t comment specifically about an ongoing investigation, but in that case, why was it that the cyclists\’ behaviors (again pure conjecture) were open to scrutiny?

    It\’s all or nothing in my book. Either comment on what both might have done differently, in an effort to educate both cyclists and motorists, or shut the hell up.

    I suggest that the next Mayor commit to the idea that members of the PPB traffic division participate, as a matter of policy, in all forms of transportation (walk, mass-transit, bike, car). I can\’t help but think that if a percentage of the PPB biked to work (without \”POLICE\” emblazoned on their backs) their attitudes would adjust quite quickly.

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    Ross Williams October 30, 2007 at 11:06 am

    I suspect if this were anyone other than Kruger this would be a non-issue.

    To which he was quoted as saying,

    “Cyclists are required to ride as close as practical to the right shoulder unless they’re turning left, Kruger says. They can ride as close as practical to the left shoulder on a one-way street within a city.”

    The article does not \”quote\” Kruger. So people are complaining about what the way he \”said\” something, when what is quoted is the Oregonian reporter\’s paraphrase of what he heard.

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    007 October 30, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    Kruger? Freddie Kruger. That name sounds familiar.

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    Antonio Gramsci October 30, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Ross:
    Wrong.

    I was one of the first people to give Kruger credit for proposing that Oregon\’s laws be made consistent with California\’s regarding bike lanes. It\’s not advocates of cycling safety who have an irrational animus against Kruger, but just the other way around.

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    Good happens... October 30, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    I ride Interstate every morning on my commute, right past where Brett was killed. I am all too familiar with that area, and I have taken the lane on many occasions when I have felt it was safer to do so.

    This morning, at the light at the top of the hill (by the hospital), I was stopped at the red, when a full truck/trailer pulled up next to me. I looked over at it to judge its distance and position (and I always look at the front wheels, which gives an obvious indication of initial direction), when I caught the drivers eyes. He smiled and nodded at me, and honestly I felt I could see him saying \”I see you, I got your back\”.

    We proceeded down the hill (he faster than me, I took the lane but kept his right mirror in sight), and were stopped at the light at Greely where I pulled up along side, slightly in front where he could see me. We left the light going down Interstate and I pedaled to stay ahead of him, which I realized was easy because he never went over 15mph, staying at least 50 feet behind me — clearly he was intending to turn into the freight yard and wanted to make sure I knew he was letting me go first.

    I waved my thanks and felt some sense of peace in an otherwise stressful area of my commute.

    Doubtful he\’ll read this, but I thank him none-the-less.

    Ron

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    Antonio Gramsci October 30, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Ross:
    Another thing: based on his stance on California\’s bike lane law, I thought he was being relatively sensible, so I initially gave him the benefit of the doubt when someone took his quote OUT OF CONTEXT in The Oregonian article. I read it as a straightforward statement of the law regarding roadway positioning IN GENERAL. And as such it is perfectly correct. It is only and precisely IN THE CONTEXT in which he says it that it is a totally inadequate and dangerously misleading statement.

    You need to read the entire article and study up more on the complete context here, before accusing those of us who have been closely following this issue of blind bias against Kruger.

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    QC October 30, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Ron, #42:

    Great story, thanks for sharing it. Every day we all see acts of kindness, or at least simple instances of people unceremoniously obeying the laws. I try to give the good people out there a wave and a smile whenever possible. It might not completely counteract the middle fingers that so many other bike riders use on a regular basis, but it\’s a start.

    I\’d suggest reposting your story over at Sam Adam\’s site: (http://www.commissionersam.com/node/2951#comment)
    There\’s some pretty serious slander and vitriol being tossed about over there, and an anecdote showing that different road users can actually get along might be of some use in calming inflamed tempers.

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    Ross Williams October 30, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Antonio –

    To quote you

    \”You can try to parse Kruger\’s words in ways that are less damning, but I\’m talking about the only reasonable conclusion that a person would draw from reading them, in that article,\”

    Yet – you don\’t thave his words

    It\’s not advocates of cycling safety who have an irrational animus against Kruger, but just the other way around.

    I don\’t think the two are mutually exclusive.

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    ChipSeal November 19, 2007 at 3:32 am

    I have been giving the Portland bike lanes a lot of thought lately. While I think that all bike lanes increase the hazards that a cyclist faces over a more vehicular style of riding, Portland has ordinances in place that turn these hazards into traps.

    Either remove the bike lanes, or change the laws! I doubt removing bike lanes is politically possible. Removing the mandatory bike lane usage ordinance would be a huge step forward.

    But if neither of those are possible, how about prohibiting right turns when bike lanes are present?

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