Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Willamette Week weighs in on bike safety

Posted by on October 31st, 2007 at 1:21 pm

Detail of Willamette Week cover

Local media outlets continue to be interested in the topic of bike safety.

The latest to chime in is the Willamette Week. In this week’s issue, they devote their cover and nine pages to a story by Corey Pein titled, “Vicious Cycle: Turns out Portland’s not so bike-friendly. Here’s how it could be.”

After an opening salvo that includes PDOT bike coordinator Mia Birk likening the lack of funding for bike programs to affirmative action, “The cars already get the best of everything, sort of like rich white guys,” Pein then details “14 ways that Portland could really live the dream of bike equality.”

Here’s his list:

    1. Separated bike lanes
    2. Slow down
    3. Bike boulevards
    4. Better signals
    5. Go blue [as in use more paint in lanes]
    6. Truck fixes
    7. Bike boxes
    8. No right on red [where bike boxes are installed]
    9. Close some streets to cars
    10. New trails and routes
    11. Helmets for grownups
    12. Bust bad bikers
    13. Driver’s ed
    14. Riders’ licenses

The article ends by coming to a not-so-shocking conclusion:

“The best thing Portland could do to increase safety for the growing ranks of cyclists—not to mention everyone else on the roads—would be to have more cyclists around.”

Couldn’t have said that better myself.

Check out the entire article on WWeek.com (there are also some good comments coming in already).

[NOTE: Stay tuned for an in-depth article on Portland’s new bike infrastructure plans from PDOT bike coordinator Roger Geller.]

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. Thank you — Jonathan

  • BURR October 31, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    The Willamette Week is jumping on the bandwagon a little late and what they\’ve got to say, as usual, is mostly crap.

    Where they should have started was by explaining to motorists exactly how wrong Lt. Krugers oversimplifications of ORS 814.420 and 814.430 are. Because in reality it is the exceptions to these two rules that keep cyclists safe, not a statement of the general case.

    Then they should have questioned why at the very least the two truck drivers weren\’t cited for vehicular manslaughter.

    Finally, they are all over the paint and path \’solutions\’. Paint stripes do not keep cyclists safe, as has clearly been demonstrated twice this month in Portland. As someone mentioned in the comments on the WW site, where\’s the public education campaign???

    Most of their so-called improvements for cyclists are just more of the same – pandering to the terminally politically correct and motorists – their core readers.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Driveabus October 31, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    They are ideas and suggestions. Thats all. Some are better than others. Some won\’t make any real difference. We are responsible for our own safety and our own actions, whether we walk, ride or drive. Simple as that!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jeff October 31, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    I just returned from five weeks in Europe. I rode my bike almost every day, in the countryside and in big cities. No bike lanes, paint, boulevards, or (gasp) licenses. Never once did I feel unsafe or get cut off due to one simple fact – motorists over there are simply more aware and treat driving as serious business. How do we fix that here?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Nelson Muntz October 31, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    At least the local media is talking about the issues and taking the side of cyclist safety rather than painting us all as scofflaws and cranks as they have in the past.

    Poster #2 is right: Ultimately we are responsible for our own safety. No street markings, tough laws, or education will truly protect you from the inattentive, drunk, or careless driver. Tragedies will still happen.

    By the way, cars and trucks are not going away and to think so is a foolish dream. When gas gets more expensive, people will buy hybrids or use alternate fuels. They will buy electric plug in cars when gas prices get outrageous and in another decade we will see fuel cell and hydrogen powered motor vehicles on the roads. The cars will get cleaner but bad drivers will still be out there driving them. We will still need to share the road and that puts much of the onus for rider safety on the rider\’s shoulders. The only variable that you can truly control is yourself.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • b October 31, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    i\’ve recently realized that my experiences on the road tend to be safer when i\’m riding in groups of friends.
    therefore, i\’ve hired 20 people to ride with me at all times.

    it will be like those verizon commercials.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Stripes October 31, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Great article Corey.

    I\’m really happy to see that instead of dragging out the endless, somewhat counterproductive \”cars versus bike\” debate that has been dragging everybody down as of late, including the media, you chose instead to focus on something positive and productive in your article, namely highlighting some potential solutions and tools to help make out roadways safer for bicycles.

    I was particularly pleased to see you giving some attention in the article to the bike box at Clinton & 39th. The first page of the Willamette Week states the paper has a circulation of 90,000.

    Hopefully, that\’s 90,000 more folks (many, many of whom are motorists)who now know what that box is for, and now hopefully know how they should be using it accordingly.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 31, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    The Willamette Week is clearly on the side of segregating cyclists and making them all wear special uniforms.

    I barely saw one suggestion in that article as to how motorists and cyclists can work together to coexist better and safer on our shared roads.

    The basic message in Portland for the last 20 years seems to be that motorists and cyclists can\’t coexist, and need to be physically separated at all times. There are a good number of people both inside and out of government that continue to work towards this goal.

    I think that\’s just plain wrong, and that both the goals and the message need to change.

    Motorist education is step one in this process.


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BikingViking October 31, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    14. Riders’ licenses?

    Seems to me that would just discourage potential cylists and result in fewer bikes on the road.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 31, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    suggesting riders licenses is definately pandering to the motorists and people like Terry Parker, if you know who he is.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe October 31, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    car people never learn.. sorry for the chime like this, but its really the people behind the cars that are the issue.

    my 2cents

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Tbird October 31, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    There are good and bad ideas here, just like anything else. I agree that the omly real solution to safety is separated bike lanes. I really do get why some folks feel it\’s the need to mix in with the motorists, personally I want to be a far away from the beasts as possible. Not cause I\’m scared but because the two modes don\’t play well together, plus it\’s just nicer to have your own place.

    I REALLY like the # 2 suggestion: SLOW DOWN, that goes for all of us ( motorists and cyclists). What\’s the deal with the \”sport\” of city biking anyway? Got Lance?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Moo October 31, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    Front cover, main storyline…WW sure blew a good chance to throw out some serious commentary on PDX and cyclists. How much more predictable and conservative is this rag gonna get??? Pretty weak story.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Cøyøte October 31, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Jonathon Maus, the WW quoted you under #11 which advocates mandatory helmets for adults. Is this really your opinion?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Brian E October 31, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    I would have thought that the #1 item on the list should be \”stricter enforcement of our existing traffic laws\”. Portland could start tomorrow if the Mayor decided it was a priority.

    They system is already in place and working. I\’d vote spending our limited tax money on more Police and support.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 31, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    \”Jonathon Maus, the WW quoted you under #11 which advocates mandatory helmets for adults. Is this really your opinion?\”

    I wondered when someone would point this out.

    My quote is absolutely not saying that I want a mandatory helmet law for adults. But I did say that I have some concerns over how many folks I\’ve been seeing around town not wearing helmets these days.

    This is a very multi-layered issue for me that is hard to convey in a soundbite or a comment like this but…

    It\’s not that I feel biking is so dangerous that you could crash and hit your head at any time…. but I do feel strongly that having one on just seems to make sense. I don\’t think I\’ve ever fallen (outside of a racing environment) and hit my head since I was a kid (I was in several collisions!)… but throwing one on seems like a small price to pay even for the very small chance that it might save me from a life-altering or life-ending injury.

    also, as a dad of two precious little girls, I err on the side of being a model for them… and I want them to wear helmets, so I wear mine.

    and sometimes, when the media asks me loaded questions like this, I have to admit that I think beyond my personal stance and consider how what I say might impact the larger community … like I said, this is a longer conversation than I have the ability to convey right here right now.


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir October 31, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    It\’s not that I feel biking is so dangerous that you could crash and hit your head at any time

    The thing with helmets is you don\’t need one until you need one.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 31, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    helmets for peds too then

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Cøyøte October 31, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Jonathon, the issue is multilayered for most thoughtful people. My son just turned 16, and suddenly I find the issue is very multi-layered.

    I have had misleading quotes in the press too. Thanks for not mealy-mouthing the answer.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • a.O October 31, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    used the same cost-benefit analysis as Jonathon: So little cost for so much benefit.

    Generally, lawmakers think in terms of cost-benefit analysis when deciding whether a law would benefit society. They weigh the burden (b) of adopting the regulation against the probably that a loss will occur (p) multiplied by the size of the loss (l). When b > pl, the law would cost more than it would save, so it would not be a good policy. But when b < pl, the law would save more than it would cost. All types of costs and benefits are included in an analysis. Human benefits and losses are given an economic value to compare with financial gains and losses. For example, if you have a traumatic brain injury, you and your family lose perhaps a lifetime of income you would have earned and you and perhaps your insurer have to pay enormous sums for both acute medical care and long-term care. Now, traumatic brain injuries are both far more likely, and far more severe, when a bike rider is in a collision and is not wearing a helmet. That\'s a fact. You can look that up yourself. Also, it\'s an illusion that you have such control over your environment that \"it won\'t happen to me.\" It can. It does. And it affects lots of people other than you. It\'s a huge loss. Despite the fact that the probably is relatively low, the loss is so large, that the \"pl\" term of the equation is pretty big. What\'s the burden? You have to pay $20 bucks and stop pretending your hair is so nice that you don\'t have to wear a helmet. b << pl So, I concluded that a helmet law for adults is a good idea... But far less important than other reforms for dealing with the current safety problems that plague cyclists in PDX and everywhere else in the US.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Andy October 31, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    \”helmets for peds too then\”

    The sheer mechanics make this a ridiculous argument. Try falling from a walking position in a way that that would simulate how you fall from a bike. You\’d practically have to be trying to do a flip or a cartwheel.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 31, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    the argument, I believe is that cyclists need helmets to protect themselves from all the big bad cars. How would a pedestrian land if hit by a car? The one pedstrian I\’ve seen hit did both a flip and a cartwheel.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 31, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    btw – more peds than cyclists are hit each year, resulting in injuries and death

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir October 31, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    The difference between a pedestrian and a cyclist is that a pedestrian is generally on the sidewalk, and slower, and a cyclist is generally on the roadway with other vehicles, and is faster.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • JT October 31, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    your argument is weak..and it becomes apparent you\’ve probably never taken a high speed fall from a bike…your head ALWAYS hit the ground.
    I know, I\’ve taken several spills in Cat.3 road races..several broken trophies in my basement to prove the fact I\”m still here and have NO hospital bills…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • JT October 31, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    p.s….I\’m aware your retort will be that my accidents did not involve a car..nevertheless, broken skulls are broken skulls…

    quit fighting the message of self-protection and self-preservation…I\’m sure your family would not enjoy feeding your through a tube the rest of your life or cleaning the drool off your chest every few hours. THAT is the reality of choosing to ride on the road and not wearing a helmet. I work in a hospital…and telling me otherwise is pointless. TBI\’s are serious…no very few people actually comprehend that.

    as for the WW add…I see it as a positive step towards a dialogue..saying they \”missed the boat\” is assinine…the bike safety meeting happened…what…a week ago? its hardly untimely….
    its a vessel for delivering a message that needs to be put out there now and reaches a community who probably isn\’t watching the evening news every night..

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 31, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    saying that your head ALWAYS hits the ground is pretty weak too

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SkidMark October 31, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    Enough with the friggin bike licensing. Bicycle NEEDS to be accessible to ALL not just those who can afford a bike license.

    And the (stereo)typical bad biker is not a hipster. It\’s Joe Normal, on a $99 mountain bike, riding against traffic.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SkidMark October 31, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    I\’m tired of hearing about helmets too. They don\’t wear helmets in Copenhagen or Amsterdam. Why? because car drivers SEE cyclists, and you generally slam your head after being hit by a damn car.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Todd Boulanger October 31, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Actually Jonathan was in the article twice: the quote and the photo. It looks to be one of Maus\’ stickers on the top tube of the bike.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • peejay October 31, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    Although helmet use is just one small part of the article, I guess we have to spend the first fifty comments on it. So, here\’s my take: when we have a city full of drivers\’ as good as those in Copenhagen, I\’ll be the first one to take my helmet off. Until then, I wear it!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Randy October 31, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    Bravo Willamette Week for helping Portland gear-up to biking. A couple of additions: Cyclists need clean. Running Trimet buses on a measley 5% biodiesel does not help. As for funding I\’m all for a carbon tax.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir October 31, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    I\’m tired of hearing about helmets too. They don\’t wear helmets in Copenhagen or Amsterdam. Why?

    Because conditions are different there.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • peejay October 31, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    Hey, that\’s NOT my apostrophe! Blame the iPhone!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SkidMark October 31, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    What\’s the difference, rixter? That people have a much harder time getting their license, take their driving more seriously, and actually pay attention to the road?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir October 31, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    Lots of differences. Driver education is one. Also different streets– city centers in Europe were built with narrow streets before the automobile created a need for wide streets. This favors bicycle transport, and disfavors the automobile. Cyclists have their own infrastructure there. Flat terrain and short commutes mean more people ride, and with more people riding, cycling is safer. Cyclists tend to ride slower there, and tend to ride faster here. Etc.

    There are a lot of reasons that Dutch cyclists have a greater margin of safety than American cyclists, and pointing out that they don\’t wear helmets, without also discussing the different cycling conditions, makes the helmet use comparison meaningless.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Cøyøte October 31, 2007 at 6:57 pm


    Your supposition is disappointing. Substitute tobacco into your argument and you will see why cigarettes were outlawed in 1964.

    Insha\’Allah you will reach your know-it-all years. (45 for men, 50ish for women.) Then if you want to remain relevant, you will really have to examine what comes out of your mouth.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Zach October 31, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    I don\’t think they wear helmets in Bejing or Bangkok either…

    How many deaths/injuries would be prevented if drivers all had to wear helmets? What about slip \’n falls in the shower?

    I have no idea whether helmets are more useful for drivers, or bathers, or pedestrians than they are for cyclists – but it would be nice to find out…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Randy October 31, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Quickest way to get people on bikes. Congestion taxation like what is done in London.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir October 31, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    I don\’t think they wear helmets in Bejing or Bangkok either…

    In some Asian countries, they don\’t wear steel-toed safety boots when working with heavy machinery, either, preferring to wear flip flops.

    Come to think of it, they don\’t have any issues with lead paint, either.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 31, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    and many US companies profit from the lack of safety and environmental regulations in the third world. oops, now we\’re really off topic. let\’s stick to why there is a mania for mandatory helmet use in the US, but not in comparable countries in Europe, shall we? I think it\’s about a desire to transfer responsibility, in this case, mostly among motorists.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir October 31, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    You\’re still ignoring the very different cycling conditions in some European cities and the United States.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 31, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    I\’ve been to Europe and ridden, not Amsterdam, but Paris, Barcelona and some smaller cities in France and Spain. It didn\’t seem so different to me.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir October 31, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Besides which, according to at least one bicycle law attorney, if a cyclist is involved in a collision with a motorist, there is no negligence on the cyclist\’s part for not wearing a helmet. And that would seem to negate your theory that American helmet use results from a conspiracy among motorists to escape liability.

    And in fact, the elephant in the room is that it\’s always been the trauma doctors and nurses who have pushed hardest for helmet use.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir October 31, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    I\’ve been to Europe and ridden, not Amsterdam, but Paris, Barcelona and some smaller cities in France and Spain. It didn\’t seem so different to me.

    You can\’t possibly maintain, with a straight face, that Dutch cycle tracks, complete with their own signal light, \”don\’t seem so different to me.\”

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 31, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    In Paris and Barcelona I went on some bike tours in the city, no helmets, no waivers, no competency test, no lights for the night ride, just reflective vests, groups of 20 out in traffic through the streets of Paris, Versailles, and Barcelona.

    Sure there was dense traffic and occassionally we got honked at, but there were no homicidal maniacs in motor vehicles who couldn\’t negotiate Right-of-Way around bikes.

    In the US, motorist attitude, ineptitude and indifference is the number one challenge to making the streets safer for bicyclists.

    No amount of helmet laws, bike boxes, or anything else proposed is going to make one whit of difference if we don\’t retrain our motorists. If the DMV and Driver\’s Ed starts with young motorists now, it might start to make a significant difference in 10 or 20 years.

    PDOT or the BTA could step up with something like the SF coexist campaign, but I haven\’t heard that proposal from anyone yet.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 31, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    how do you do italics?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR October 31, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    One year I brought folding bikes to Barcelona. I was all geared up with a helmet, I used it once and left it in my luggage the rest of the time.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir October 31, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Burr, 46:

    I\’ll PM you on BF with the code (I don\’t think it will work if I do it here).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matthew October 31, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    I wear a helmet. I don\’t have a problem with other people not wearing helmets. I mean, as long as they are organ donors, I\’d actually encourage the people that I don\’t know to not wear helmets. And please don\’t take meth or drink tell you get to .383 BAC, or anything like that either, it does nasty things to your liver.

    I do support busting bad bicyclist. Everyone has stories about how some bicyclist with no lights in the middle of the night, blew through a signal and scared some motorist that had a green light. And people like that give us all a bad name. I\’m not sure that bicyclist ed or licenses would fix that, the problem is that you\’d have to spend a lot of time trying to determine if people actually did have licenses/passed the class, instead of actually answer the question of: Are they riding safely. (It is kind of like requiring a specific type of braking device on a bike, instead of answering the question of, are they in control of the bicycle.)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob October 31, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    One of the main, most valuable things the bicycle helmet does is pretty basic: it slows down the speed at which your brain slams against the inside of your scull when your head comes to a sudden stop. The really sudden stop is what can give you a concussion and worse. But don\’t take my word for it, read about it at helmets.org.

    Those dutch bikes look slow to me..10-12 mph?. And that upright position… . If I rode one of those, maybe I wouldn\’t wear a helmet either.

    WW\’s concluding suggestion is the key to a dramatic improvement in cycling as transportation conditions:

    “The best thing Portland could do to increase safety for the growing ranks of cyclists—not to mention everyone else on the roads—would be to have more cyclists around.”

    More cyclists around could be the final nail in the coffin for the idea that motor vehicle operators are king.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • zilfondel October 31, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    Funny thing while biking home ~2pm today on Ankeny and around 20th…

    I saw two – yep, that\’s TWO – UPS trucks double-parked only 4 blocks apart! And there was PLENTY of on-street parking!

    Folks, its going to look like NYC soon around here with trucks breaking the law.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Steven J. November 1, 2007 at 4:34 am

    #51\’s accurate.
    I\’ve lived downtown over 15 years, it\’s staggering the increase in truck traffic.
    Portland is keen on growing in the freight industry.
    Don\’t believe me? take a ride out Rivergate loop. Phase III nearing completion.
    I\’m more interested in the separation between Bicycles & bubble people.
    Much like a freeway system, I believe a bike/Ped infrastructure would dramatically improve our mobility within the city.
    Not to mention safety.
    Imagine a bike path along every Trimet train route, free max through mountain stops, (with your bike as ticket)
    North / South Grids of bike boulevards every 10 blocks or so.

    Imagine a separation guardrail along hwy26 from Troutdale to Hillsboro with covered rest stops.
    From Janzen beach to Wilsonville

    I had the pleasure of riding Ventura Hwy last summer. The barricade separating
    PCH motors from bikes was absolutely breathtaking. for once I could actually enjoy the ride/view without worry of traffic.

    Imagine more bike cops to keep it real along all those.

    You whine about 11 & 14 on that list
    and miss the other 12. Grats for making car traffic\’s point.
    We want to prove our ability to be responsible, yet give up nothing to their
    rights to share.
    You want to ride in Denmark? move.
    you want to ride in Portland?
    Stand United.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe November 1, 2007 at 8:26 am

    helmets are really not the problem, you
    get hit by a 1-2ton auto, it won\’t help

    I was on this list from Texas that said the helmet law does not fix the problem.

    Getting people in the box with 4wheels to think solves the problem.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SkidMark November 1, 2007 at 8:30 am

    Helmets are great I wear one most of the time BY CHOICE. Choosing to not wear one because I am only riding a block to Thriftway should not criminalize me. Let\’s work on enforcing existing laws before we make more. If we can educate people to ride their bike on the right side of the road and obey traffic laws we can teach them to want to wear a helmet. No law is needed, just some common sense.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe November 1, 2007 at 8:47 am

    SkidMark well put.. I used to ride with
    this guy that would yell at people to get a hemet.. kinda funny..

    dont always think people in cars see you.
    all my years on a bike ive seen alot, no kiddin..

    ride safe all,

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Kristen November 1, 2007 at 9:22 am

    Joe, that\’s an interesting idea: getting people to THINK.

    Actually, and it\’s not just limited to trying to get people in motor vehicles to think; it could be applied to all road users.

    I like to think that articles like this open the door to discussion and education between everyone; if people have it on their mental radars that bikes are part of traffic on the road, and we should be paying attention to the act of riding/driving, maybe then we actually WILL pay attention to the act of riding/driving.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe November 1, 2007 at 9:30 am

    example: while in Portland one day, when i drove my van into downtown.. new to the area and driving in this City, I was lost and not really focusing to well.
    all of a sudden a single speed guy was
    coming up on my right side, wrong direction, but instead of getting all worked up I thought wow, I really need to slow down and open my eyes in this great City.. bikes/peds/cars and misc stuff..

    Thinking outside the box really opens ones mind to everything.. 🙂 not so much right and wrong all the time.


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bruce November 1, 2007 at 9:52 am

    These comments are fascinating in a couple of ways: Portland cyclists seems so eager to snipe at each other and meddle. Many seem unwilling to own up to the fact that they are often guilty of stupid, unpredictable and illegal vehicular activity. The stupid helmet debate has been beaten to death. Anyone who doesn\’t wear one is probably closer to ignoring the fossil record than I\’m comfortable with but…If your head takes a big time hit please ensure that you\’re not on the dole. I\’m also not certain why there is always such an uproar about licensing cyclists. If owning a bike required certification for a nominal fee and the revenues collected were designated only for projects which increased cycling safety and enjoyment what would be the harm? If operational safety,awareness and education along with mechanical safety were the focus of bicycle \”licenses\” what would be the harm? Is the only argument against registration that we\’re different from everyone else and we\’ve got to fly free and unencumbered? I am in favor of increased driver education regarding awareness of cyclists along with generally slower speed limits. I don\’t think we get there without driver\’s licenses. Why cars and motorcycles but not bicycles? Please enlighten me.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Spanky November 1, 2007 at 10:03 am

    Bruce: You are clearly a communist. You need to get your mind right. Such heresy. Prepare to be pilloried. Get with the groupthink for crying out loud! If bicycles/riders must be licensed, the sky WILL come crashing down. How can you possibly ignore this FACT! Bikes account for 5% blah blah blah. All we want is our fair share. And car drivers are evil evil evil.

    Didn\’t you get the memo??

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Stripes November 1, 2007 at 10:08 am

    I agree that if we are going to get anything done here in Portland as cyclists to improve our safety, we need to stop all the bickering.

    From a motorists\’s perspective, it makes the cycling community look very petty and ineffective.

    If all the energy that was directed by folks in these negative, unhelpful comments was instead directed towards actual postive change (ie volunteering, writing letters to the Oregonian, writing letters to congress, attending safety transportation meetings…) then….

    …good grief! As a community here in Portland, us cyclists could generate more postive energy than the electric company!

    (And subsequently, get stuff done!)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • n8m November 1, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Although I disagree with some of the points on Peins list, I love the last line in the article: \”History shows that if we build it, they will bike.\” The time has simply come to reallocate funds and build bicycle infrastructure. It benefits drivers, it benefits the environment. Why is it taking so long for city government to build us truly multimodal roads?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Donna November 1, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Bruce, if a \”nominal fee\” was charged for licensing bikes or bicyclists, it wouldn\’t even pay for the bureaucratic paperwork, much less cycling projects. That\’s one of the reasons we don\’t have better drivers\’ education and more frequent/intensive testing to get a motor vehicle license. Bureaucratic paperwork is *expensive*. I know this very well, as I do bureaucratic paperpushing and bean counting for my livelihood.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matt November 1, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    Even though I rarely wear one, I can almost get behind a helmet law, for the same liability reasons I lean toward seatbelt laws.

    The licensing is a bit ridiculous though. We license drivers because cars are lethal–the same just isn\’t true of bikes.

    As for the separate lanes–I do enjoy Portland\’s array of multiuse paths, but I don\’t really see them as a solution to any of these problems. You still have interact with traffic at some point. Look at the incidents over the last month or so–an elevated or specially segregated bike path wouldn\’t have made a difference, because it still has to pass riders through intersections, and that\’s where people are getting hit. Hell, my most dangerous rides are the ones on a multiuser path, for that very reason. The Marine Dr. path is nice, except you have to cross Marine Dr., without a light, 4 or 5 times to stay on it. Same thing w/ most of the other multiuse paths in Portland.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR November 1, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    @ #60 (and others)

    Consider that there are three main philosophies when it comes to cycling:

    1. Vehicular cyclists believe that all existing roads are available for cyclists to use and by acting like drivers of vehicles cyclists can integrate into the motor vehicle traffic. They believe that mandatory sidepath laws are discriminatory and infringe on their right to use the public roads and support their position with statistics that show cycling on sidepaths and in bike lanes is actually more dangerous than using the roads vehicularly.

    2. Separated facilities cyclists believe that motor vehicles and bicycles don\’t mix and will never mix, and that there should be a completely separated system of roads or paths for cyclists, a la Amsterdam. The great dilemma in a city like Portland is that the inner city where the most cycling activity is occurring is fully built out and there really is no vacant land upon which to build such a system.

    3. The third group is a little less defined but generally believes in a hybird system in which both vehicular cycling and sidepaths have appropriate roles to play. This group is also more likely to assert that there are significant differences between bicycles and motor vehicles and it is foolish to dogmatically apply all laws that apply to motor vehicle operators to cyclists; as such they would tend to support changes in the law such as adoptation of the Idaho stop sign law for cyclists.

    One thing that seems obvious to me is that the overlaying of the interstate system on our local street grid has created a bunch of new hazard points for cyclists on local streets: the locations of Tracy and Brett\’s crashes both included entrance or exit ramps to the interstate system, and several of the other high hazard intersections such as NE Broadway and Williams and NW Everett and 16th also are associated with entrances and exits to the interstate system.

    Lastly, most cyclists just want to ride and probably don\’t give much thought to these alternative philosophies of cycling and infrastructure for cyclists. I personally still feel very strongly that you can only go so far with infrastructure, and that a paradigm shift needs to occur, wherein the most vulnerable road users are consciously protected by the motor vehicle operators and the \’might makes right\’ philosophy of road user hierarchy is relegated to the dust bin where it rightly belongs.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) November 1, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    \”Consider that there are three main philosophies when it comes to cycling\”

    speaking of philosophies, check out the article I just published written by PDOT bike coordinator Roger Geller .

    It\’s a revealing looking into the mind of PDOT and a preview of the future of bike infrastructure in our city…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) November 1, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    \”Consider that there are three main philosophies when it comes to cycling:\”

    Great comment BURR. thanks. I would definitely fall into your third group.

    \”the overlaying of the interstate system on our local street grid has created a bunch of new hazard points for cyclists on local streets\”

    I agree. that\’s one of the reasons why the CRC project scare me… they have plans to serious \”upgrade\” (meaning expand) several freeway on and off-ramps.

    \”I personally still feel very strongly that you can only go so far with infrastructure, and that a paradigm shift needs to occur,\”

    That\’s another point we agree on. We\’re hitting a ceiling where advocacy, activism, legislation, infrastructure, and enforcement can only go so far. We need a cultural shift to occur before any major U.S. city really can get beyond 5-7% mode share.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • a.O November 1, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    TBIs from bike riding are largely preventable. There\’s a significant reduction in TBIs as a result of wearing a helmet. Did you look that up yet? What\’s the hold up?

    People made the same kinds of objections to seatbelt laws, and child safety top laws, and all-terrain vehicle laws, and on and on and on. And they were wrong every time. We\’ve saved LITERALLY MILLIONS OF LIVES. It is the most economically rational solution. But also, it\’s a moral issue.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Kris November 2, 2007 at 7:46 am


    Very good analysis, though I like to point out that the separated facilities approach in the Netherlands and other European cities is mostly limited to (busy) arterials. Even in Amsterdam, a lot of the regular streets don\’t have bike lanes and cyclists mix it up with motorists. In a well-designed bike system, you will always end up with a mix, where vehicular cycling will be needed on some streets and separation (in various degrees) is the preferred mode on other streets. It\’s not a black or white choice and cyclists will need to train themselves to adapt their riding styles accordingly.

    What sets the Netherlands really apart (even from other European countries) is that they have consistently chosen for the separated bike lane approach on suburban arteries and even on rural, intercity roads. That\’s what makes bike touring in Holland so attractive and safe.

    Your point about the interstate overlay is a very good one and not limited to the inner city. A lot of the hazardous intersections at the Westside are at or around the overpasses across Highways 26 and 217. Besides the large traffic volumes (including a lot of heavy trucks), motorists\’ attitudes around these intersections often shifts (or still is) into a \”highway mode\”, that is all about efficiently going with the flow of car traffic. Cyclists and pedestrians don\’t mix very well with this model, hence the reason that you see so many cyclist/pedestrian bridges in bike-friendly cities.

    Recommended Thumb up 0