Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 27th, 2007 at 6:44 pm
“I would welcome community input to determine whether or not it is feasible and safe to allow bicyclists to roll through a right turn…on all stop signs…”
–mayoral candidate Gerhard Watzig
This morning I wrote about Portland’s latest candidate for mayor, Gerhard Watzig. My story relied on information gleaned from Watzig’s campaign website and a comment he left on Commissioner Sam Adams’ blog several months ago.
The story inspired many of you to contact Mr. Watzig to air your dissatisfaction about his views on bikes.
A few minutes ago, I received an email (and a photo, both are below) from him with a subject of “A humble response to your readers”. In that email, he admits that he “may be misinformed on bicycle issues” and he tried to clarify several of his controversial opinions.
(Photo courtesy Mr. Watzig)
From considering a stops-as-yields law for cyclists, to criticisms of the Police Bureau’s enforcement practices, read more from Watzig in his email below (emphasis mine):
Wow! From the feedback on your blog and the emails I have been receiving, it appears I may be misinformed on bicycle issues. My platform states that I will be open and willing to listen to ALL citizens and their concerns.
I want you and your fellow readers to know I am truly not anti-bicycle, and legitimately concerned with bicycle safety.
Let’s start with my idea of not allowing bicycles on certain thoroughfares. My concern as a NE Portland resident is with the new Sandy Blvd street improvement from Hollywood to the Burnside interchange. This new construction did not, for whatever reason, accommodate bicyclists on an important thoroughfare, which conveniently cuts diagonally across Portland.
The new design has several choke points that I feel are extremely dangerous because the street is so narrow in these areas. This hardly allows a car and bus to pass, let alone a car, bus and bicyclist to pass. I realize this is highway 30, a state highway, and most of the funding came from state highway funds. I ask you where was the input from the City of Portland and Sam Adams, the transportation commissioner when the street was re-designed? Now it is even more dangerous to bicyclists.
This was one of the streets that I thought would be safer for bicyclists to use an alternative route, and I would like to know what you and your advocates would propose to solve that problem?
Secondly, there will never be enough dollars in the city budget to fund all the projects for all the interest groups. I felt that a contribution through licensing bicyclists could be dedicated to solving some of these transportation problems and also give more ownership to the bicycle community for their infrastructure.
I personally own a bicycle, admittedly for only recreational usage on nice days to pedal through the quiet streets in my neighborhood to a local coffee shop. I also am a motorcyclist and ride extremely defensively. I know whether you’re riding a bicycle or a motorcycle, there is no defense against a 4000+ pound vehicle.
I also realize that for every reckless bicyclist, there are hundreds of reckless oblivious motorists. I would suggest there needs to be a great deal more education and traffic enforcement.
In the mornings on our way back from the flower market, we drive across the Broadway Bridge. There is a stop sign on NE Flint and Broadway that bicyclists frequently blow, and I see police traffic enforcement ticketing these bicyclists. To me, that particular intersection is not a safety issue. I think a yield sign (for bicyclists) in place of a stop sign at that intersection would be more conducive to bicyclists, as Flint is an alternative route to the other street I had concerns with bicycle safety: MLK Blvd.
The enforcement just to write citations to get your point across is not productive towards garnering bicycle safety. In fact it is ludicrous. I would welcome community input to determine whether or not it is feasible and safe to allow bicyclists to roll through a right turn, from bicycle lane to bicycle lane on all stop signs, provided they yield to pedestrians.
I realize I may have come out strong on Sam Adams’ blog about the size of the bicycle community. I welcome that constituency growing and becoming very large.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, and for also posting information about me on your blog. I hope that your readership will not see me in the light of an old curmudgeon. You really have a wonderful site, and I look forward to reading it frequently to discover more concerns of the bicycle community.
I applaud Mr. Watzig for attempting to clarify his positions and for his humility and willingness to engage the community this way. He seems open to learning more and that’s often half the battle.