Oregonian ‘green’ reporter “too scared to saddle up”

“Here in the thick, nervous mainstream, some of us may even be convinced that biking to work would be healthier, cheaper and better for the environment than the typical car commute. We just don’t do it.”
–Shelby Wood in the Oregonian

It’s a problem some of you reading this might be facing right now.

You want to be “green”, reduce your carbon footprint, get in shape, avoid gridlock, and join the exciting, sociable, sustainable, two-wheeled, human-powered transportation revolution.

You know going by bike is a great way to get around the city. Heck, these days it seems like everyone’s doing it. Yet you still leave the bike at home.

The reason? Fear.

Shelby Wood, a reporter with the Oregonian who covers the green beat and writes the PDXGreen blog, can relate. She published an article today that lays out the top three reasons she doesn’t ride to work:

    1. Fear of being killed or maimed by a car or truck.
    2. Fear of being killed or maimed by something I do that causes me to slam into a car or truck.
    3. Fear of arriving at work, or back home after work, stressed out by spending 30 sweaty minutes trying not to get killed or maimed by a car or truck.

Wood (and the “thick, nervous mainstream” she says she represents), are a challenging subject to bike advocates and planners. She leads an earth-friendly lifestyle, she loves bikes, she’s fit, and she actually wants to ride more for transportation. Yet even she hesitates.

The “interested but concerned” riders that Wood symbolizes are in every PowerPoint and presentation on bike safety given by PDOT bike planners. Everyone who works on bike issues, it seems, are trying to figure out how to get more of them to ride.

Hottest Day of the Year Ride

Nothing but blue skies
— and no fear — ahead.

Some of their solutions so far include developing more safe, low-traffic “bike boulevard” streets, arming citizens with information and maps on biking, and pushing forward with innovative measures (like bike boxes and painted lanes) to increase visibility and awareness between bikes and cars.

But even these measures might not be enough to persuade the masses to go by bike.

Wood’s fears may seem misplaced to some, but perception reigns (and it’s also very hard to change).

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to alleviate the fears that accompany the prospect of riding a 30 pound bicycle mere inches from fast-moving, massive, multi-ton cars and trucks.

It will likely take a “thousand tiny cuts” approach to move beyond this fear syndrome. It won’t go away until we begin a massive re-purposing of our public right-of-way, or until we invest more in safer bike facilities, or until politicians take the bike advocacy reins and force real change.

On a smaller scale, there are lots of things existing riders can do to help change the culture of fear around biking. A great first step is to become a biking buddy to a friend who doesn’t yet ride. Encourage them, show them the ropes, and eventually they’ll go from “interested by concerned” to “enthused and confident.”

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Steve Hoyt-McBeth
16 years ago

RE: Jonathan\’s recommendation for cyclists to be a bike buddy:

Portland Office of Transportation\’s SmartTrips Downtown project has created a Bike Champions program where we\’ve recruited downtown bike commuters to encourage and assist their co-workers to give biking a try.

http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=47302&

I formerly worked at Southeast Uplift where we had a Bike Buddy pilot. The people we did partner up had a good experience, but it was very challenging to recruit would-be cyclists.

That is partially what we like about Bike Champions, as one already has some level of comfort with their co-workers.

a.O
a.O
16 years ago

This is the ONE AND ONLY ISSUE facing bicycling. All other issues are either connected to this one or would go away if more people rode.

If you want to see more people on bikes, your task is clear, yet difficult: Make it safer to bike.

Where\’s the threat coming from? People who drive. Yes, it\’s that simple. People who bike can and do cause themselves and others harm, but the level of risk and the level of harm from drivers dwarfs all others.

How do we make sure drivers behave more safely around bicyclists? Glad you asked:

1. Much tougher penalties for injuring or killing vulnerable road users.

2. Much better enforcement of existing laws that drivers routinely break to endanger the lives of bicyclists (e.g., speeding, passing too close, passing illegally, failing to yield to a rider in the bike lane).

3. Better education of drivers.

4. Better bike-specific infrastructure.

Mmann
16 years ago

We\’re reaching that tipping point now (at least in Portland) where cyclist have sufficient numbers to truly influence transportation policy at every level. Shelby\’s concerns are exactly why I lean more and more towards John Forester\’s thinking.
http://www.johnforester.com/
Cyclist need to be thought of, planned for, and act like vehicles with equal rights to the road.
In the meantime, what if all residential streets had a maximum ENFORCED speed limit of 20mph and high traffic through streets of 35mph? Would that make the fearful more likely to venture out?
And fellow cyclist please, please, stop blowing through stop signs. I\’ve been watching more closely the last couple weeks and a lot of you are being very naughty and giving the rest of us a bad rep.

Jeff
16 years ago

a.O. — The other facet, though, if we \”really want to see more people on bikes,\” is to stop making it so easy, cheap, and convenient to drive everywhere. I really think we can accomplish both of those goals (improving bike safety and making it less alluring to drive) with some of the same techniques, like keeping bike boulevards as through streets for bikes, but erecting physical obstacles (e.g., planters) every five blocks that keep cars from driving through.

JJ
JJ
16 years ago

Wood’s fears may seem misplaced to some, but perception reigns (and it’s also very hard to change).

It\’s NOT a perception, it\’s a reality. Biking in this city is undeniably a dangerous thing.

JJ

a.O
a.O
16 years ago

Jeff, I don\’t think it\’s a zero-sum game. That is, I think we can have safe streets without restricting access to the streets by motor vehicles.

That said, I fully support requiring motor vehicle operators to pay the vast costs of the negative externalities of that mode of transportation that have thus far been pushed off onto the rest of us.

And I think the end of cheap motor vehicle transport is an inevitability anyway. Peak oil will arrive soon if it hasn\’t already. Demand, particularly in Asia, will continue to increase without the supply to meet it. As a result, prices will rise exponentially.

But if people keep driving like they do, without the consequences that behavior deserves, even a few people in motor vehicles will still do a lot of harm.

Matt G.
Matt G.
16 years ago

While I hate to include myself with the snobby, elitist view that in which cyclists sometimes find themselves, you have to just \”get over it\”. The trip of a thousand miles begins with the first pedal. Here\’s my plan/suggestion: (for the supremely paranoid/afraid to die folks)

1) Pick a course beforehand.
2) Ride the course *on a weekend*. Get a feel for the path with less traffic.
3) Repeat the ride on a commute day. Compare traffic/lighting/etc. Give yourself as much time as you need to feel safe over getting to point B on a schedule.
4) Rinse and Repeat, gaining confidence and increasing your speed to something comfortable that keeps you safe.

For the truly paranoid, try *walking* the course first. or get a buddy to ride with (someone either as scared as you, or someone completely fearless).

If your path chosen turns out to be too hairy for you, find another path. Don\’t assume the most direct route is the safest or the fastest. The freeway is direct and fast, but not for you on a bike.

I don\’t know what makes people in cars think they are much safer than on their bikes. I feel safer on my bike because of maneuverability issues (slower speed being chief among them).

Brad
Brad
16 years ago

Amen, Mmann!

The last two times I have driven to work due to appointments requiring my car I almost killed two riders. The first time, fixie rider blew the stop sign at NW 14th and Johnson, crossed a 35MPH street as I was turning left at that intersection. Thankfully I had slowed for the turn and the anti-locks worked as advertised. Three days later at NW 16th and Johnson, hipster girl blows the stop sign going east as I am turning left on 16th. I slam my brakes to avoid carnage and little sweetie flips me the bird as thanks for not killing her.

As a cyclist, I find the behavior of many Portland riders stupid and shameful. I can only imagine how non-riders feel about our community and concerns when confronted with the same idiocy.

Allison
Allison
16 years ago

I think this issue explains a lot of the gender disparity in bike commuting. Women are more likely to worry about the safety issue and ride with a buddy.

Bike Boulevards seem so incredibly safe to me, I think that\’s gotta be where a lot of money goes. But only if they connect well and cross scary traffic better.

As for saying \”drivers are the threat\” – I don\’t think that\’s a productive way to think of it. This animosity between driver and cyclist I think adds to the danger. I\’d really like drivers to see me and think, \”Yay! One more person I don\’t have to compete for a parking spot with!\” rather than \”self-important cyclist clogging up my street!\” Drivers aren\’t the enemy. They\’re other people who live in our community.

Increasing penalties when a cyclist is injured is probably not going to be any more deterring than, you know, being responsible for hurting someone. I think more important is to have penalties when unsafe behavior (of both bicyclists and motorists) is engaged in and no one gets hurt – engaging in unsafe behavior without negative consequences lets people believe it\’s not unsafe behavior. I don\’t know that we can do that without putting more cops on the streets, but it\’s probably something someone with more education than me should consider.

Zaphod
16 years ago

I echo Mmann\’s comment about stop signs. While I witness a number of cyclists blowing them at speed, it\’s more how the autos react to me. Frequently, drivers will slow and stop when they have the unambiguous right of way. They appear to drive as if they fully expect me to blow the stop sign. This kills my rhythm and generally adds complexity to what should be simple. I absolutely do not blame motorists for these actions. They have clearly been conditioned and are simply trying to be safe on the road.

In a dream world, I\’d love to see the bike boulevards include car diversions and the like so that only super local traffic will exist on those roads. A perfect execution of this is Milvia Street in Berkeley, CA.

While not a bike boulevard, 16th has such a diversion at Tillamook in NE. It\’s a nice way to roll when the kids are along, even without them, I\’ll opt for this.

BikeBillboards dot blogspot dot com

This is simply a symptom of the failure of the driver ed curriculum for not including bike ed.

Allison
Allison
16 years ago

Stop signs:

Yeah, but I hate coming to a complete stop, having to put my feet on the ground, and then having to start up again, especially when I just lost a ton of momentum.

They\’re not appropriate traffic control devices, but I kind of wish we could have demand lights instead of stop signs at all the bike boulevard crossings. If there\’s no car coming, keep the light green and let me keep going!

Diogo
Diogo
16 years ago

Isn\’t fear, after all, the roots of ALL the problems??

Seriously, it\’s because of fear that people make war, and subject to government control; its for fear that people sacrifice their entire lifes in jobs they hate; and its for fear that we demand police in every corner and rules and regulations for every action.

So, it\’s good to create more infrastructure to make people feel safe and what not – but you know what, that won\’t do the job. Fear has its ways of justifying itself in the most unlikely situations.

Not only that, but it seems that the more safety you create, more fearful people become – why do you think cars are getting bigger and bigger: it makes people feel safer.

Therefore, I think we should be careful to not cater to people\’s fear too much, but instead campaing for people to face their fears and grow some spine. Otherwise you create a vicious cycle and any accident that happen will send people into panic (which already happens).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLzo9pOXa-s

Allison
Allison
16 years ago

Bikebillboards:

Do you remember drivers ed?

I don\’t.

\”Check your blind spot before changing lanes.\” \”The Two Second Rule\” – that\’s about it.

Drivers ed isn\’t (in my humble opinion) enough to teach people how to drive in other car traffic, let alone the more complex multi-speed traffic that is bikes, buses, cars, stop lights, doggies running out into the street, and ice cream trucks.

If it were politically tenable, I\’d say you need to pass a written test every 8 years – not just pay your $60 and get your picture taken.

scoot
scoot
16 years ago

I don\’t think the threat is coming entirely from people who drive. A lot of Cyclists in this lovely town make biking really scary. I\’ve been on a bike for 20 or so adult years and the vast majority of my really disturbing close calls have been caused by other people on bikes. And the majority of those were caused by people in all the right gear.

Not everyone rides for speed, whether commuting, doing errands, etc. Too many people ride through Portland with the attitude that there is no place and no time when slowing down might be a good idea.

Peruse the forums here – anyone who gets in the way of speed, whether crossing a bridge or riding a lane or MUP, is often described with a withering list of the style or price of loser bike or lame clothing or lack of gloves or whatever.

All of which is to say, there\’s a very visible lot of cyclists around who don\’t actually want more bikes on the road. If one of them blows by a newbie who\’s crossing the Hawthorne for the first time or clips the handlebars of someone getting their bike legs on the Esplanade, fear may keep them off the bike without any car fear ever coming into play.

Derwyn
Derwyn
16 years ago

Of my whole commute the area I fear the most is an official bike boulevard (Ladd\’s addition). Despite the round abouts, low speed limits (could be lower) and numerous cyclist I have had more close calls here than anywhere else.

My point? I totally understand peoples fear. Green paint, speed bumps, stop signs, do little to curb a driver who is irritated. At some point we are going to have to give some roads to cyclist…that is not allow cars. Example: Lincoln, make it one way and give the other lane to cyclists.

Diogo
Diogo
16 years ago

To Mmann, Brad and Zaphod:

I blow stop signs and red lights! I do it proudly and have no FEAR about it. And I have no FEAR about what others think of me or whatever bad name I\’m giving to you. Who cares?

Are cars stoping for you when they don\’t have to??? Good – it means that blowing stop signs works!! Let\’s exempt bikes from all stop signs (make it mean \”yield\” for bikes) and you biking an even more efficient mode of transportation when compared to cars.

Allison
Allison
16 years ago

Scoot:

What you say isn\’t terribly unreasonable – when I\’m crossing the Hawthorne in the late morning, I usually have pedestrians to contend with on one side and speed demon bikers on the other.

On the other hand, the speed demons tend to be passing on the left – meaning they\’re in way more danger than I am. I almost ran someone out into the traffic on the Hawthorne Bridge because I didn\’t know they were coming (they didn\’t bother to say \’on your left\’), the jogger in front of me veered to her left to pass the walker in front of her.

A cyclists hits me and I\’m just hurt enough to be super angry. A car hits me and I go to the hospital. Close calls with a car are much, much scarier. And much more deterring.

That said, if I think a particular area is going to be crawling with the speed demons, I\’ll take another route. But there are few enough of them I can do that – it\’s hard to find routes that are zero car.

Allison
Allison
16 years ago

\”I don\’t know what makes people in cars think they are much safer than on their bikes. I feel safer on my bike because of maneuverability issues (slower speed being chief among them).\”

I think it has something to do with being encased in steel.

bahueh
bahueh
16 years ago

Scott-
YOu\’ve got a good point. I would venture to say the majority of commuters in this town are terrible bike handlers and have little notion, respect, or understanding of how to safely negotiate city streets.

I saw some a-hole today on a bike go left around a car that was…you guessed it, turning left, into a parking garage mid-block. He had to travel into oncoming traffic to do so. I shake my head at the stupidity sometimes…

Allison, putting your foot down is an urban myth at a stop sign…brush up on your laws. All you have to show is ceased forward motion. Work on your track stand and quit blowing through red lights, you make the rest of us look bad.

patrick
16 years ago

Maybe the day will come when people like Wood, and the nervous mainstream she represents, will be more scared of death or dismemberment while driving a car.

After all, one is a lot more likely to be killed or maimed by a car or truck while IN a car or truck, than while on a bicycle.

If only we could figure out how we were all brainwashed to believe that driving was a sane, safe activity… maybe we could re-brainwash ourselves to believe the truth.

Bicycling IS safe.

Driving a car IS dangerous.

I agree, though, that bicycling would be a heck of a lot more pleasant, and quiet, without all of those automobiles roaring by.

patrick

cyclist
cyclist
16 years ago

Derwyn:

What sorts of close calls have you had in Ladd\’s Addition. I used to ride that route every day and can\’t think of a point along the way where I felt unsafe (and there are definitely places in the city where I feel unsafe on a bike). What are drivers doing that scares you? I\’m not in any way trying to criticize you, I\’m hoping there may be ways you can ride that will make you feel more secure.

Robert Dobbs
Robert Dobbs
16 years ago

Allison:

There is a big difference between feet flat on ground, a rolling WALKING SPEED stop, and totally blowing a stop sign like fixie riders do.

I really hope they don\’t revise the law to let them slide w/o brakes. It only encourages this kinda of irresponsible riding.

I\’m all for an Idaho roll-stop law, though.

Robert Dobbs
Robert Dobbs
16 years ago

Diogo:

Please refer to Webster\’s and look up \”yield\”.

girl on a bike
girl on a bike
16 years ago

I posted to the comments section after Shelby\’s article and offered to ride to work with her if she is truly interested in giving it a try. It sounds like we live in the same general part of town, and while I don\’t work downtown, it would probably only add a couple of miles to my commute to do this a few times. I really hope she considers it. I organize group bike rides a few times every year for my co-workers — I supply the meeting spot, the breakfast yummies, and act as the tour guide/safety teacher, and for a few days each year, there are eight bikes at the bike rack instead of one or two, and usually about seven fewer cars in the lot. It\’s super fun and very satisfying. I can\’t recall there being any time the entire group didn\’t have a great time.

BikeBillboards dot blogspot dot com

Allison, driver ed was totally lost on me too. But, at least the State TRIED.

Also, you wrote:
\”They\’re not appropriate traffic control devices, but I kind of wish we could have demand lights instead of stop signs at all the bike boulevard crossings. If there\’s no car coming, keep the light green and let me keep going!\”

Before automobiles, B.A., there were no traffic laws as we know them today.

Beyond VC, vehicular cycling, there\’s a train of neo-thought that goes something like this: Obey traffic control devices only if there\’s motor vehicles in the vicinity to cause a really bad bike/car meetup. Otherwise, just look before blowing the light.

J-On-Bike
J-On-Bike
16 years ago

Scoot – good observation.

We talk about Portland being like Amsterdam (a place I\’ve never been)…so I\’d be curious to see if the style of bicycle commuting is as *aggressive* in European cities as it is here. Some how I doubt it.

In as much as the local bicycle community may want to subvert the auto-paradigm of transit…the idea of speed seems to be pretty darn American regardless of the choice of conveyance.

Diogo
Diogo
16 years ago

Robert Dobbs,

I know you are being condescending but I actually did look up in the dictionary following up your suggestion (I often times do use words wrongfully).

In any case, what I meant to say is that bikes should not be required to come to a full stop at a stop sign OR a red light – unless he has to do it, according to the laws of physics, in order to avoid a collision.

(But I suspect you suspect you understood me in the first time).

Diogo
Diogo
16 years ago

J-On-Bike:
\”the idea of speed seems to be pretty darn American regardless of the choice of conveyance\”

You\’re wrong about that. In many European countries they have freeways with no speed limits. And, in Brazil people speed like MF.

I don\’t think that speed is such an Americna thing – but this culture of fear, hell yeah, that\’s toatally American.

steve
steve
16 years ago

I think the writer of the article in question is not being honest with herself, or her readers.

This quote betrays her- \”Fear of arriving at work, or back home after work, stressed out by spending 30 sweaty minutes trying not to get killed or maimed by a car or truck.\”

Notice the \’sweaty\’ part. Icky, sweaty, ewwww. Not to mention covered in road grit and rain! EWWW!

And, you have to like pedal them and everything. It\’s so much harder than climbing in the car with my latte, stereo, heater, air-conditioner, cell phone, and mirrors to check my hair and make-up.

This is the problem we face folks, not \’safety\’ It is safer to bike than drive. It is also HARDER. I never hear this discussed amongst advocates. It is always the fear factor. No recognition of the intrinsic laziness and \’got to have it now\’ mentality of most Americans. No one is ever going to admit to being selfish and lazy folks. They will always blame it on fear. And no matter what is done, they will never feel safe unless they choose to.

I guess there is more money available in grants to attack safety, than narcism and laziness.

Metal Cowboy
16 years ago

If Shelby Wood foolows up this article by taking an actual biccycle ride and seeing how much fun and safe it can be, and writing about it in a future column, then she has done the community a service. If she does nothing else… then I fear this article could reenforce the misconception that bicycling is a high risk activity (it is not), which can only be undertaken by certain portions of the population (cycling is something that anyone can take up and do safely.)

The article brings attention to a misconception and a viewpoint that people hold – that many think bicycling to work, school, errands is like going into battle. If she comes back with findings from some field research, then I will call it thorough journalism. If nott then it\’s simply planting more seeds of unfounded fear.

On another journalistic note, the article about street clothes fashion and wearing something otherr than spandex to ride a bike – last week\’s O, reached a number of mainstream folks – I have had people come up to me and say that the article has them riding more b/c they realize now that they don\’t have to suit up in other clothing to pedal a bike.

KT
KT
16 years ago

I guess I shouldn\’t point out to the article writer that by commuting to work by bike two days a week, I save a gallon of gas.

Sweaty? Big deal. And I really think the level of danger/fear you feel really depends on where you ride. I don\’t feel danger or fear when riding down here in Tigard, but I think I would riding in Portland.

Perception? Yup.

Jason
Jason
16 years ago

After I read Ms. Wood’s article this morning I spent my commute fuming over it and how she once again portrayed cyclists as scofflaws running stop signs, thus making the idea of joining the ranks of bike commuters even more unappealing to non-riders.

She should consider that the rider she was following in her example may have felt threatened by her following (perhaps too closely) and felt it would have been dangerous for her to pass. Therefore, he ran the stop sign for fear she wasn’t going to stop and in an attempt to keep some distance.

To that latter point, in NW Portland, it is the exception, not the rule that one will stop at a given stop sign. This goes for all vehicles including cars, trucks, bicycles, skateboards and scooters. I wonder if drivers who complain of cyclists running stop signs is a reflection of their own shortcomings and an attempt to justify their behavior.

Anyway, Ms. Wood didn’t help anything and made herself look both weak and self-righteous all at once.

Paul
Paul
16 years ago

J-On-Bike:

Your assumption is fairly correct. Bike traffic in Amsterdam, Germany and the Nordic countries runs at a fairly harmonized, mellow pace compared to here. It was nice. Everyone seems to be in a race in this country. Even bike commuters. Weird.

steve
steve
16 years ago

The writer is not looking for reasons to ride. Or for ways to get around her supposed fears. Or discussing things that might assuage those fears.

She is simply attempting to justify her decision to be lazy and drive. Nothing more, nothing less.

Mmann
16 years ago

I\’m going to hold back from second guessing and reading between the lines on Shelby\’s \”real\” issues and give her the benefit of the doubt that she\’s scared. But I\’m with Metal Cowboy on her journalistic street-cred. Saddle up and investigate your \”fears.\” Take advantage of the offer for company if you need to. Then write about it.
Dan Rather said \”News is what someone somewhere doesn\’t want you to know. Everything else is an advertisement.\” At this point Shelby Wood has advertised her own fear. She has the opportunity to turn it into a news story. I hope she does.

a.O
a.O
16 years ago

steve, I think you are reading far too much into the motives of the author.

Regardless, even assuming *her* primary reason for not riding is laziness, the data clearly demonstrate that the *majority* of Portlanders site safety as the primary reason why they don\’t ride.

Perhaps someone can provide a link to that fact (I was a little surprised it wasn\’t linked in the story since it was referenced).

So, yes, it really *is* about safety.

And to those of you complaining about the stop sign runners: Yes, it\’s BS, but it\’s not the safety risk the people who don\’t ride are worried about. It\’s the one that kills ~43,000 people in the US each year.

Tbird
Tbird
16 years ago

The only true solution is the creation of a separated bikeway network which places right of way for cyclists above all other mechanized transport. We must build and design to accommodate the weakest links in the chain.

Paul Souders
16 years ago

Paul @ 34:

They ride at a harmonized mellow pace in Amsterdam because they live less than a mile away from work. On roads where bikes have dedicated trafficways for bikes, with bike-specific traffic signals, and bike-specific traffic laws. Roads where the cars are driving at nearly the same speeds as the bikes.

If I rode my bike at a leisurely 7mph it would take me an hour to get to work. That\’s an hour of riding my bike in the debris and gravel of the breakdown lane while cars tear by me at 45mph.

Also, riding your bike fast is fun.

toddistic
toddistic
16 years ago

yes, all fixie riders blow stop signs, grow up and get a clue and stop generalizing the fixies. we all know mountain bikers travel down the street the wrong direction, see how stupid that sounds?

rixtir
rixtir
16 years ago

Two days after the Ride of Silence, and people don\’t understand why the writer (and others) might be afraid to ride in traffic with cars?

Jason
Jason
16 years ago

rixtir

I hear you. I just wonder if the reason people claim fear is that they know how they, as individuals, drive and reckon everyone else does the same.

Maybe that\’s why people are afraid.

Matthew Denton
Matthew Denton
16 years ago

Someone (okay, a troll,) once said that a lot of cyclists in this town act like we have PTSD. And while they were trolling, they were also sort of right: When I first started bicycle commuting the rush wasn\’t fresh air, or exercise, or anything like that, it was simply adrenaline from risking my life. Now that I\’m older and either wiser or more jaded that has gone down, but I do understand the problem…

The worst bicycle accident I\’ve ever seen didn\’t directly involve a car, it involved two bicycles. (I blame cars anyways, but only because there are big and you couldn\’t see over/through them.) I crossed over the Broadway bridge into downtown during the morning rush hour, and I was second in line, (of at least 3 cyclists.) There was plenty of car traffic on Broadway. As I was crossing Davis the light at Burnside had just turned green and so the line of bicycles is speeding up, and the line of cars has backed up across Couch, but isn\’t blocking the intersection at Couch, (unlike normal.) In particular, the car in the right most lane just before the intersection has his backup lights on. And I thought that was weird, so I slowed down, and just as I would have entered the intersection if I hadn\’t slowed down, a guy in a wheelchair finishes crossing Broadway… I didn\’t see this guy until he was actually was in the bicycle lane, but I stopped in time to avoid hitting him. (And: no offense to him, he had the right of way.) The person in front of me (who didn\’t slow down) made it around that guy. At the same time, someone is riding west on Couch, and (I assume) sees that the intersection isn\’t blocked, (and that the wheelchair user, who wasn\’t very fast would have it blocked for a while,) and can\’t see the bicycles in the bike lane over the cars, and so they crossed Broadway. And so the person in front of me plows into the Couch rider at 20 mph. The person in front of me probably broke their collarbone and ended up in an ambulance. The Couch rider didn\’t get in an ambulance, although only walked 30 feet and eventually got a ride from the police, (I don\’t know to the hospital or not.)

Peter W
16 years ago

Possible solution: Transit.

I would suggest a gradual approach to dealing with the problem that people are afraid of all the cars.

One tactic would be to drastically increase the number of transit riders (and *decreasing* the number of motorists). As people get out of their cars and onto busses, many roads can be redesigned and re-engineered to be car-free. As roads start to be more like car-free streets, it will be easy to get people to switch from transit to bikes.

steve
steve
16 years ago

AO said-

\”…the data clearly demonstrate that the *majority* of Portlanders site safety as the primary reason why they don\’t ride.\”

I know they site that AO. In fact that was the main thrust of my argument. I do not believe people when they site safety as a reason to not ride. I think they are full of it, and are rationalizing away their obviously selfish choices.

Find me some people who readily admit to their faults. All I ever see are people busy explaining why their negative traits are really okay, or simply not their fault. Or that they are nonexistent.

It is not, and has never been about safety. The waistlines of our fellow citizens clearly show that. Being an American is a disease. Pretending that the symptoms are the disease will get us nowhere. As evidenced by everything that is happening and exponentially increasing all around us.

I guess I just need to find a single issue to dedicate myself to, so I can be blind to everything else. Perhaps some identity politics is the cure!

J-On-Bike
J-On-Bike
16 years ago

They ride at a harmonized mellow pace in Amsterdam because they live less than a mile away from work.

I\’d like to call *B*LLSH*T* on the one-mile claim. But I don\’t have any citations to back up my refutation. Not that posters to this cite are prone to hyperbole or anything.

Pete
Pete
16 years ago

Matthew, I guess this begs the question: who was at fault? When a car hits a bicycle our community seems polarized against the driver and we perceive the public is polarized against the cyclist. So who\’s at fault in this scenario?

David Anderson
David Anderson
16 years ago

I can remember about a year ago taking my first bike ride at 9:30PM in the city. I was quite nervous because I had never done a night ride before. Now, I rather enjoy riding at night since there tend to be fewer cars on the road at that time.
I have also ridden downtown during \’rush hour\’ and find the experience \’not frightening\’ as I thought it might be. If a 56 year old guy can do it – you can do it. It\’s really not that bad!!

Pete
Pete
16 years ago

I\’d love to ask Shelby what the basis of her fear is. Is it media coverage of bike accidents? The feeling of being exposed without the \’metal curtain\’ around? Things like Ride of Silence and Ghost Bikes? A personal encounter with a cyclist while driving?

rixtir
rixtir
16 years ago

\”Find me some people who readily admit to their faults. All I ever see are people busy explaining why their negative traits are really okay, or simply not their fault. Or that they are nonexistent.\”

Post 17 being a prime example.