“Public Safety” is the theme of a special edition of the City of Beaverton’s Your City newsletter (Beaverton is about 7 miles southwest of Portland).
When BikePortland reader Alan Bennett read through it he was shocked to see that under the heading of, Riding Safe: Bicycle Tips, it was recommended that when biking, you should, “Stop at all intersections and be sure to walk your bike across busy intersections and streets.”
Bennett immediately sent off an email to the League of American Bicyclists, asking them to “reconsider” Beaverton’s Bicycle Friendly Community designation (they are currently a “Bronze” level city).
Bennett also CC’d the email to the Mayor of Beaverton, the BTA, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, and bike safety folks at PDOT and ODOT. Here’s what he wrote (emphasis mine):
“I noticed you give Beaverton a bicycle friendly community designation. You should reconsider. You gave them a mark for education, but take a look at their safe cycling advice. Stop at every buy intersection? Walk your bike through intersections? As a daily commuter from Portland to Beaverton this is quite disconcerting. This advice looks like it comes out of the fifties and shows no recognition of cycling as a legitimate means of transportation.
Misinformation such as this completely misrepresents safe cycling and leaves some motorists with yet another justification to demonizing cyclists for not following “safe cycling” practices. I’m not even sure about the legality of stopping at every busy intersection. I believe under the Oregon Vehicle Code bikes are vehicles and are required to obey the vehicle code.
I am disappointed and frustrated that we can still see advice like this put forward in 2008.”
Beaverton’s advice is reminiscent of a similar statement made by TriMet GM Fred Hansen a year ago when, in a letter to someone who broke their arm while crossing a set of MAX tracks said, “We recommend that…cyclists always walk their bicycles over appropriate crossings.”
No word yet of any reply to Bennett’s email.
Beaverton readers and riders, what do you think about this advice? Do you stop and walk across those hair-raising, high-speed, Beaverton superhighways?
[Note: A 15 year-old Beaverton High School student was killed back in February after a collision with a bus.]
UPDATE: 5/8, 3:10pm: Sgt. Paul Wandell of the Beaverton Police Department says this advice was only meant for small children…
4:09 – Here’s the follow-up story.
I recommend people walk their cars through busy intersections, or slow to 5 mph. But seriously, a big thanks to Alan Bennett for taking action on this ridiculous anti-bike recommendation. This is a stark reminder of just how out-of-touch most bureaucrats and politicians are with what it means to use a bicycle for transportation. Shameful.
I live in Beaverton and work in Portland and have found that they are both entirely different bike-wise. In Portland everyone is used to bicyclists, it\’s expected that you ride in the road, you are considered a \”vehicle.\” Yet in Beaverton… It is exactly like the fifties. -I frequently get rude demands to ride on the sidewalk.
Sadly, depending on the day/traffic/drivers I\’ll often walk my bike across the intersection in Beaverton. I think it\’s kind of shameful to our \”bike society\” but I\’d rather be safe than sorry.
The Beaverton newsletter tells a lot about this city, and it\’s obvious that we need some change.
The last time I walked across a busy intersection in Beaverton, I had to break into a jog to make it across the eight lanes (including turn lanes and bike lanes) to make it across the street before the light turned green for stopped traffic.
And I\’m a healthy, young-ish adult. I shudder to think about the senior citizens, children, or other slower pedestrians who find themselves needing to cross those same intersections safely.
City of Beaverton can bite my ass.
Maybe this was meant for people who are not riding in traffic? Like if you are riding on the sidewalk. A lot of people ride on the sidewalks in Beaverton, especially little kids and novice adults.
wow i guess when i am in beaverton two weeks from today for some training I will walk my bike across busy intersections, of course taking the lane.
Beaverton is a suburb, designed and built for a car culture and firmly entrenched in those values, ideals and consequences.
the \”8 to 80\” crowd should be just fine with this, since their model is cyclists as pedestrians, not vehicles.
Just to clarify, what I meant by my previous comment is that even if you\’re walking across an intersection, busy or otherwise, that doesn\’t make you safer. The real safety issue is the pervasive car culture that exists there, which is why I avoid Beaverton as much as possible.
I live just on the outskirts of Beaverton, and ride on through the northern reaches (Cedar Hills) every day, crossing busy streets (Walker, Jenkins, occasionally Barnes/Cedar Hills, TURNING LEFT). I would never consider walking my bike across. I think they\’ve been watching that \”You are the automobile driver of tomorrow\” bike safety film from the 50\’s a few too many times.
Wasn\’t it the Beaverton mayor who not long ago \”praised\” cycling as a great form of recreation or something like that. It was a sort of \”damning with praise\” kind of comment that relegated cycling to the kind of thing you might do on a Sunday at the park when the weather\’s nice.
Nothing about it simply being a legitimate form of transportation and a great way to explore the world.
Yup, walk through all intersections. Cause you know, it\’s not like you\’re supposed to be there or anything.
This kind of \”recommendation\” annoys me to no end. I recommend that drivers stop, get out, and walk around their vehicles twice before proceeding through any residential intersection. You never know whose child or pet could be in imminent danger!
I further recommend that drivers of motor vehicles:
1) Follow the basic rule (reasonable speed)
2) Keep in mind that turn signals are useless if you a) don\’t use them, or b) only flip them on after you have started to turn/merge. I can see what you *are* doing, the really valuable information is what you are *going* to do five seconds from now.
3) Drive while driving – don\’t eat chalupas/shave/apply makeup/talk on cell/fight with spouse/fight with kid/have a dance party/have a karaoke contest/… etc.
4) Use turn signals in advance of turning
5) Look in the direction you are moving – don\’t look left while you are going right (on red or any other time!)
6) Use turn signals before you turn
7) In parking lots, keep it under 25mph for crying out loud! Also, back slowly. It is the responsibility of the reversing driver to watch for others. Going backwards does not confer any kind of right-of-way!
8) Use turn signals
What constitutes a \”busy\” intersection anyway? I commute up and down Murray Blvd (45 mph speed limit) between Cornell and Millikan every day I ride to work. That means that along my way to/from, I can approach \”busy\” intersections (Hwy 26, Butner, Walker, Nike Entrance, Jenkins) at 20-25mph or more. Am I supposed to stop at every green light, haul my bike onto the sidewalk and wait for the light to turn red, then green again so I can walk across?
I also ride on Watson/Hall between Millikan and 5th, crossing Canyon/TV hwy and Farmington/Beav-Hillsdale hwy. Am I supposed to walk the entire way between Millikan and Farmington? That area is pretty \”busy\”.
Needless to say, I will not be following this \”recommendation\”, but as was mentioned in the original story, I fear the potential ammunition this gives drivers who interpret this \”recommendation\” to mean that if they run over me in a \”busy\” intersection, it is my own fault for not walking across.
Not to be completely negative, I must say that in the year I have been commuting along my Beaverton route, I have had very few problems with drivers, and those truly close calls I have had have either been due to my own foolishness, or plain old ignorance on the part of drivers. I haven\’t had any drivers harass or otherwise intentionally try to make my life more difficult while riding. You heard correctly–drivers in the \”burbs\” are actually pretty accommodating.
Just goes to show that we still have a lot of work and a lot of educating to do. The person who wrote that tip should be taken out on a bike ride in Beaverton to see what life is really like.
Riding in Beaverton isn\’t *quite* as bad as many folks on this blog make it out to be, but it\’s definitely a busy car-centric suburb (of San Jose?). I too am frequently told to ride on the sidewalk, and am forced to in several places where bike lanes end without warning (go ahead and cringe you VCers; despite being fit I\’m not taking those chances here). I think the advice to walk your bike at intersections is ironic; as Heather mentions walking here is dangerous enough! I\’ve learned quickly that it\’s worth riding several miles out of the way to avoid certain streets and intersections, but I\’m sure it\’s like that elsewhere.
I think instead of biting Jeff\’s ass the City of Beaverton should appoint a liaison to the cycling community, maybe via the WTA, to launch awareness initiatives and/or at least review comments like this one against laws and recommended safety practice.
BTW, I ride and race with several of the City\’s engineers and staff, so please don\’t generalize the entire population out here as being entirely anti-cyclist.
Bob (#13) – ditto, and not just taken out on a bike ride, but encouraged to use the very tactics he or she advocated, so that person can see how useless they actually are.
One wonders if any of these people ever get out into the real world, or if everything exists only in theory for them.
I live in Beaverton and bike to work in Hillsboro. I actually do stop and use the crosswalk at the intersection where Austin Miller was killed (and did so before that tragedy) because of the absurd configuration that forces me onto the MUP before that intersection. If the light is red as I approach and traffic is backed up beyond the right turn cut-out, I\’ll drop down onto the street and use ride across with traffic, but if the light is green as I approach I stop and wait for the crosswalk signal.
Same thing at Murray and TV Hwy northbound, and again because the street configuration forces me onto the sidewalk although there I\’m less comfortable with the crosswalk because the railroad crossing apparatus blocks me from view of drivers on Murray. If the cars have left me room, I\’ll stay on the street there.
So, there are those two cases where I\’ll use the crosswalk, but only because the terrible street layout makes it unsafe not to — certainly not because I think it is an otherwise good practice.
This \”advice\” is asinine.
in 2005-2006 I used to work in the Tanisborne (sp?) area and commuted 15 miles each way from PDX. Once I acclimatized to traffic speeds it was a fine commute and I never heard any rude comments, even though I\’m a \”take the lane\” kind of cyclist. I got occasional honking and \”menacing\” engine revving though.
The big crossings (185th, Murray, SR 8 & 10) are hairy but I don\’t think it\’s possible to walk across them, as Heather (#3) points out. Even with a \”walk\” signal the lights are dangerously brief and you have to rush across 6 or 8 lanes.
More than once I witnessed tall vehicles (SUVs or pickups) nearly mow down small pedestrians (kids, wheelchair-bound adults) because they weren\’t directly in the driver\’s line of sight. The assumption on those intersections is that all the things you need to see are in the vehicle lanes … unless you\’re 8 feet tall and painted orange you can\’t assume someone sees you in a crosswalk or sidewalk.
Is this maybe just good advice sent to the wrong audience? It\’s not at all reasonable/sensible for adult cyclists to walk their bikes across intersections. But when I bike with a large group of kids (for me, that means more than one kid!), we bike on side streets. When approaching a busy street, my rule is that we get off, wait for a safe crossing or for traffic to stop for us, and then walk across. It works great to keep squirrelly kids from shooting out into the busy street.
So . . . is maybe that the scenario that Beaverton is suggesting? And they just communicated it _extremely_ poorly?
Very good point Jan. I wouldn\’t be surprised if this advice comes on the coat tails of the Austin Miller investigation report (which claims he rode into the intersection against the signal without stopping or looking). As Andy points out, it\’s quite reasonable to dismount and walk using pedestrian signals at certain intersections and with certain traffic conditions. Maybe the asininity comes from suggesting this is the appropriate approach in all circumstances – and leading drivers to believe this is the legally expected behavior of cyclists.
Here\’s the actual language below:
OBEY ROAD RULES
Ride your bike on the right side of the road with traffic. Obey all traffic
signs, signals and pavement markings. Stop at all intersections and be sure to walk your bike across busy intersections and streets. Teach children to obey the rules of the road and restrict cycling to sidewalks,
paths or driveways until they show you how well they ride and follow the rules.
It sounds like we should organize a protest: A critical mass, where we follow their advice and wait for the green light and then get off and walk across the intersection and then get back on.
I used to work in Beaverton and live in SE Portland, and I rode my bike from work to the max, took the max downtown, and then rode my bike home.
Riding my bike in Beaverton vs. riding in Portland, there *is* a real difference. I was honked at several times for taking my legal place in left-hand turn lanes, for instance. My coworkers were aghast at the idea of not owning a car! In an office of two hundred people there were only two cyclists–me, and someone who made the 12-mile trip from Lake O twice a week for exercise.
Now I work in an office of probably fifty people downtown, in the same industry, and there\’s four people who ride their bikes to work every day and several more who ride about half the time.
I bike to work from near 185th & Baseline to Hillsboro. Drivers are generally courteous and careful when dealing with bikers. As will all forms of human contact there are the occasional jerks or uneducated folks, thats life.
Stopping at every corner is not a safe option at all, considering many corners I pass have no crosswalks or sidewalks and you disrupt the flow of traffic by stopping.
I have used the sidewalk to make a left on Evergreen from 231st but recently switched my route because I felt unsafe doing so – like Paul (#17) I have seen pedestrians nearly mowed down at busy intersections.
Too bad that Mr Bennett didnt recommend safe driving tips, there is a lot of reckless driving out here that goes unchecked, I think that is a much bigger public safety issue.
Beaverton\’s \”official\” safe cycling advice is actually quite telling regarding the differences in attitudes towards bikes in Portland and the outlying cities/suburbs.
I live in Lake Oswego and I rarely see folks out riding their bikes for transportation, errands, etc.
It\’s hard to believe that just a few miles outside Portland city limits it\’s like a different world! (One populated by yuppies in big SUVs, Benzos and BMWs. Scary!)
Where in the OBEY ROAD RULES does it say that a bike should stop at all intersections?
So you are riding along, you have a green light, and you inexplicably stop and then start to walk? Yeah, and then get plowed from behind by someone who never expected you to just stop for no reason.
If you don\’t get hit from behind, then you\’re walking across and the light changes and you\’re screwed because the yellow light is timed for wheeled traffic, not peds.
That is about the stupidest, most dangerous advice from someone who so obviously does NOT ride a bike that I\’ve ever heard.
I\’ve got one thing to say for the \”leadership\” out in Beaverton who are so busy rearranging the SUVs on the deck of the Drivetanic.
$5/gallon. It can\’t come soon enough.
Seems like we really need cyclists out in Beavo, Lake No, etc, to take the bull by the horns in educating some of these suburban politicians.
And I\’ve said it before, we need a ride-along program for local politicians, judges, and police. They obviously need a little perspective on what it\’s like to ride a bike for transportation.
wow… good discussion. We need an entire biking system that makes it safe to cycle… Trails, roads, everything all together. …not just in Southeast Portland… but the rest of the Metro area too. One of the by products of Connecting Green should address this. http://tinyurl.com/63v23r
I agree with Pete\’s comment (#14) … I\’ve been doing the bike/MAX/bike commute from the Beav to downtown about 2-3 times a week for almost two years.
Most of what I get are self-righteous prigs who get incensed that I don\’t go from 1 mph to a complete stop AND unclip at a stop sign (I\’ve had that happen maybe three times). But nothing threatening.
I think Alan Bennett was right to lean on mayor Drake to run a better article. That said, I wouldn\’t get too worked up about this and do as Matthew (#22) suggests and do a critical mass and walk our bikes in Beaverton.
I get the \”YOUR CITY\” newsletter, and in a good month, I\’ll do a very half-assed flip-through. In fact, I missed the Bicycle Tips in this issue. And that means the number of people a) reading the article and b) actually having make difference in their lives is going to be minimal.
Much more helpful would be if Drake et al actually had a clue about cyclists in their own city. And that means nonstop lobbying and dialog.
In the meantime, I\’ll keep riding across intersections.
According to John Schubert on \”Think Out Loud\” you should illegally merge into the right lane of the crossing traffic and wait until the light changes. Better than getting off and walking, but still not VC.
Here\’s that quote from the Mayor.
\”I value exercise and conditioning, recognize that more people than ever do bike and have actively supported Beaverton’s efforts (the last 14 years as Mayor) in advancing biking in this community.\”
Yup, biking is all about exercise and conditioning.
I\’m sure a lot of people see nothing at all wrong about the above quote. But I, and many others, see this tie to recreation as evidence of a mindset that marginalizes bikes as a luxury/indulgence.
It\’s harder to argue for access to public space (as if you should have to) when the people you\’re arguing with think you don\’t really need to be out there in the first place. \”Go to a gym or ride laps around the park,\” you could hear them say.
There was a letter to the editor a while back where someone referred to cyclists as being \”out on a lark\” or something like that. That is a big part of what we\’re up against.
Now, I certainly don\’t think that there is a thing wrong with just riding around for the heck of it. But we have to understand the importance of how we allow this issue to be framed. It is a heck of a lot easier for Lars Larson and his ilk to argue against bike funding if we allow them to set the terms of the discussion and talk about bikes as if they were mere recreation items.
Bikes are real transportation that have great potential to help us deal with the ever-increasing gas prices.
40% of car trips in the US are 2 miles and under. Those are a lot of trips that could be replaced with bikes. Even if only half of those trips were done by bike, we would reduce our car trips by 20%.
Bikes are fun, but that is not all they are. Instead of seeing them as something that you do AFTER to drive home from work, we need to hammer home the notion that they are real tools that offer serious benefits to our society.
We drove our way into this mess. We are not going to drive our way out of it.
a.o..you won\’t like the other issues associated with 5$/gallon…
\”stagflation\” associated with such a jump will kill this economy and take a LOT of jobs with it.
Beaverton will become the victim of its own decisions soon enough…just add another few hundred thousand people and those streets will be gridlock between 4pm and 7pm. People will wake up when they have to…
I also think there are a LOT of one-sided and tunnel visioned answers here…there are a LOT of cyclists in Beaverton…anyone believing otherwise should hang out on West Union any given Saturday morning..
\”I also think there are a LOT of one-sided and tunnel visioned answers here…there are a LOT of cyclists in Beaverton…anyone believing otherwise should hang out on West Union any given Saturday morning.\”
Proving my point that part of the problem is that so many people see cycling as recreation to be done on the weekend. Too bad that more of those people aren\’t riding M-F. Of course recognizing that some of those people are riding to work on Saturday.
It\’s funny that Beaverton would get so much flak for some silly bike tips offered in the little newsletter. I think that particular tip about walking bikes across busy intersections may be due more to low-end writing and editing rather than official city policy.
All things considered, I suppose it\’s hard to resist taking shots at a Podunk town\’s faux pas. After all this commotion, it\’s probably impossible that Beaverton\’s city council would fail to notice the attention it has drawn to itself. Maybe in the next newsletter there\’ll be some kind of correction and an acknowledgment of the rising importance of bikes as commuter transportation accompanied by more carefully thought out advice about how to negotiate Beaverton\’s intersection\’s.
\”a.o..you won\’t like the other issues associated with 5$/gallon…\”
It\’s not a matter of liking … it\’s coming whether you like it or not. Oil is not a renewable resource and demand is increasing exponentially while supply is not and cannot. Better to get it over with now and build a new economy.
Myabe should go out there at quitting time,spread out, stop at every interection, walk like you have broken leg. make sure the light turns green when you about half way across.
Its time people wake up and realize that not everyone can afford a car, or may not want to drive a car, and that the LOC\’s (lines of communication, transportation throughfares) belong to everyone.
the question I ask is \”Ok well then, if you are going to make cycling time consuming, difficult or dangerous, are you then going buy me a car? Are you going to pay the gas? Are you going be OK with getting cancer from the extra tire dust and exhaust? You don\’t mind all the extra noise? You don\’t mind the increased demand on gas, so that services that have to drive have to charge you more? You don\’t mind if I accidently crash into you or accidently kill someone you know? etc…
LOL Please don\’t consider this rag published by the City of Beaverton as an ex cathedra statement by the authorities at City Hall.
It sounds to me like this is a case of an overzealous underling not checking his copy with people who actually know what is going on before publishing it.
We have a number of solid friends at Beaverton City Hall who are squarely on the side of cyclists, vehicular cycling, and cycling safety. I\’m sure that someone will make the poor fool who wrote this copy ride his bike for a couple of weeks as penance 🙂
I commute to Beaverton from Portland everyday. Although my route follows farely low traffic streets, I do stop and use the cross walk (riding of course) at several intersections. I\’ve had a few jerks act like they are going to hit me, but that has only been on turns that cross the bike path. I have noticed a difference since the February incident in drivers and buses yielding to me before turning right across my lane.
I\’m thinking the \”we\” in comment #36 was meant to be this:
I am another Beaverton cyclist who rides between Beaverton and Hillsboro for work and I have to laugh and/or cringe when I saw that somebody had listed Beaverton as a \”bike friendly\” city.
This is just my personal opinion but I get almost no pleasure at having to bike in Beaverton so the cycling advice they gave does not surprise me.
I\’m shocked that the mayor hasn\’t already created a bounty program for all the motorists to encourage them to run down cyclists.
Yes, yes I know some will disagree with me and talk about how great a cycling city Beaverton is but I just don\’t agree.
I must ride through the Bizarro Beaverton each day on my commute because I\’ve had relatively few problems navigating that \’burb. In fact, anytime I\’ve nearly been right hooked, doored, cursed at, or had some tool run the stop sign / light it\’s been in \”Platinum Portland\”.
Sorry but the self-absorbed cell phone yakking Lexus SUV driver in The Pearl or NW offers more danger that most suburban drivers. Honestly, I\’ve nearly been hit by scofflaw fixie hipster more than any motor vehicle.
“It\’s funny that Beaverton would get so much flak for some silly bike tips offered in the little newsletter. I think that particular tip about walking bikes across busy intersections may be due more to low-end writing and editing rather than official city policy.”
I think ‘wsbob’ makes pretty good point here. Even though this line was printed in the official newsletter, in my personal opinion, it would be too radical to accept this statement as the official City Hall’s views on cycling in the city. I commute between Beaverton and Portland about two/three times a week – did not experience any major issues so far.
\”Even though this line was printed in the official newsletter..it would be too radical to accept this statement as the official City Hall’s views on cycling in the city.\”
Actually it\’s printed the exact same way on the Beaverton PD website.
I\’ve heard from BPD spokesperson and they will be clarifying the information in the next newsletter as well as (I hope) changing how it appears on their website.
Here\’s my full follow-up story with their response.
I commute 2.5 miles from the edge of NW Portland into Beaverton. In that short distance I cross 9 controlled intersections. There is no way I\’d get off my bike and walk across the street 9 times in 2.5 miles.
Besides, I don\’t think it\’s much safer. Half the year I bike to work and half the year I walk. Same route. As a pedestrian with a green walk light I still have to check before stepping into the street otherwise I\’d be run over. I would have been killed or seriously injured at least 20 times in the last year if I hadn\’t been paying attention to drivers that were not paying attention. 90% of the time they\’re on the phone.
The real problem is you guys still don\’t have bike driver ed in high school.
I\’m glad Bennett submitted the reconsideration of the bronze to LAB. It is a joke award next to the biggest platinum city. I live in Beaverton and use my bike to get everywhere. Beaverton is a bronze city because it has a lot of bike lanes on streets where cars are going 45 mph. Unless you are a dedicated and daring rider, you don\’t feel safe. The worst part is the infrastructure of Beaverton just doesn\’t support biking. Too many stupid winding roads and not enough connections. I hope LAB revokes Beaverton\’s rating because it is not deserved. It gives officials an excuse to sit on their laurels when they should be getting on their saddles and seeing what its really like out there.