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Eye to Eye campaign launches in downtown Portland (updated with video)

Posted by on August 13th, 2008 at 11:49 am

Eye to Eye Campaign Launch-5.jpg

BTA leader Scott Bricker speaking at the
Eye to Eye campaign launch in downtown
Portland this morning.
(Commissioner Adams and PDOT Director
Sue Keil in background.)
Video below
(Photos © J. Maus)

With morning bike commuters streaming into downtown Portland, the BTA led a press conference this morning to launch their new Eye to Eye campaign.

A free bell giveaway was also part of the event

Speaking in front of the post office building at the corner of Broadway and Hoyt, Commissioner Sam Adams tried to put the “war” between cars and bikes that has dominated headlines for several weeks into perspective:

“We are used to being lauded for our achievements, but over the last few months there has been a string of high profile road rage events involving cyclists and motorists that have overshadowed our achievements…. as someone passionate in providing alternatives to people driving alone in their car, it is absolutely important that we stay on top this issue.”

“For heaven’s sakes if you’re a pedestrian you need to look around and see what’s going on; if you’re a motorist you need to look around… and the same thing is true if you’re a cyclist.”
— Sue Keil

Adams also reminded the crowd (which included nearly all the local media outlets) that alcohol played a major factor in the recent incidents; “I cannot urge enough to Portlanders,” he said, “that to drink and drive or to drink and cycle is not the thing to do in Portland.”

“To make Portland safer, we should all be responsible for following the rules of the road for making our city the place it can be.”

Adams concluded his statement with a reprise of a quote he made in the Oregonian on July 20th; “It is time that we all just frickin’ share the road, people.” That comment got a laugh and applause from the crowd.

Eye to Eye Campaign Launch-8.jpg

Director of PDOT Sue Keil.

Following Adams, PDOT Director Sue Keil explained that her department is operating in tough financial times. “We really have been short of funding,” and then added that, “as people drive less, the funding for transportation goes down, because we are primarily funded by gas tax.”

Keil then emphasized that because there isn’t the revenue to, “extend that bicycle network in the way we would like to do it,” she feels, “education is critical in keeping us safe and keeping things moving.”

Keil spoke of her hopes that the Eye to Eye campaign comes with a, “tuning up of awareness,” and said, “for heaven’s sakes if you’re a pedestrian you need to look around and see what’s going on; if you’re a motorist you need to look around and see if you have pedestrians and cyclists and the same thing is true if you’re a cyclist — so that eye contact is a very critical part of the equation.”

TriMet’s Carolyn Young said the Eye to Eye campaign is set to appear in graphic form on 20 of the 670 buses in their fleet.

Eye to Eye Campaign Launch-2.jpg

BTA staffer Carl Larson urges
commuters to stop for a free
bell at the event.

Lieutenant Bryan Parman of the Police Bureau said his department plans to re-ignite the free bike light program that first started in 2005 and then was scrapped a year later. In a conversation following the event, Parman said the Bureau received a grant to purchase 200 sets of lights. Parman said they’ll begin giving out the lights in Fall, when the days become shorter and he emphasized that this will likely be an ongoing, seasonal campaign to “reinforce the safety message.”

For more information, visit the just-launched Eye to Eye campaign page on the BTA’s website.

Video of the event is below:

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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    bArbaroo August 13, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Props to all the BTA staff and especially Stephanie Noll who put this campaign together. This was a great event and so many of the folks that stopped for bells understood the message, and appreciated the new bells.
    BTW- More bells coming your way next Thursday morning on the Hawthorne Bridge (7-9 am, or while supplies last).

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    beth h August 13, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I think it\’s great that PPB wants to bring back the light giveaway program. However, 200 sets of lights will go in a week or less. The PPB ought to see about getting the lights at cost and working with the state to make this a statewide program.

    Also, the fact that the majority of our transportation infrastructure is still funded by a gas tax points up both the enormous subsidies that American enjoy on gasoline (if we paid the true cost we wouldn\’t be able to add on a tax for anything). I don\’t see a solutuion to this until big oil and big auto get out of the lobbying business…

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    Jessica Roberts August 13, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    So, Sue Keil is blaming a reduction in driving for our inadequate bikeway network? Does that seem like a really strange and unhelpful conclusion (especially at a bike event)? It\’s like she\’s telling us that if we want to see more bicycle boulevards we should drive more.

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    Options Guy August 13, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Jessica, I think you\’re jumping to a conclusion that was not intended. My understanding of Sue Keil\’s message is that two things are true:
    – PDOT is losing funding due to the reduction of gas-tax revenue; and
    – Since funding is tight and it will take some doing to develop new bikeways, we all need to be careful and courteous on the roadways and pathways we have now – especially since bike and ped use is going up, up, up.

    And to add a little soapbox pitch of my own, please use your bell *and* your brake. When I\’m walking I like to know there\’s a bike approaching, but I\’m also more comfortable if the bike speed is closer to my pedestrian speed. (Just as, when on my bike, I\’m more comfortable when a car goes slower while passing.)

    O.k., soap\’s over.

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    Jessica Roberts August 13, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    O.G., I hope you\’re right. The juxtaposition of the quotes seems to imply that connection.

    Also, I had the impression you were talking to me directly about my bell/brake use, and I got defensive for a moment. I\’m a good bell user! Really!

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    Drinking and biking, why not August 13, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    If Sam is serious about saying people shouldn\’t drink and bike he ought to start working on providing other options. With the buses barely running after dark, and generally stopping completely before last call biking is the safe alternative to driving and should be encouraged not discouraged by our leaders. Not targeting people making good decisions and staying out of their cars after drinking is the one thing about Washington that is more platinum than Oregon.

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    peejay August 13, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    \”CRC\” Sam needs to repair his image in front of the people who voted for him. Yawn.

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    Aaron August 13, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    How about drinking at a pub that\’s within WALKING distance from your house.
    Given the number of joints in Portland, there should be one pretty close to everyone.
    Drinking and biking is better than drinking and driving, but still not legal and still more dangerous than walking.

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    BURR August 13, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    and did you hear that Sam is dropping his proposal to fund all those nifty bike boulevards? I didn\’t see that covered in BikePortland. I guess we\’re gonna have to keep sharing all those public streets with motorists after all, I hope that curb extension isn\’t in your way!

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    BURR August 13, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    ps – drinking and biking isn\’t one tenth as bad as drinking and driving….

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) August 13, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    \”and did you hear that Sam is dropping his proposal to fund all those nifty bike boulevards?\”

    I heard that.

    \”I didn\’t see that covered in BikePortland.\”

    because i never covered it. thanks for the reminder.. i plan to update folks on the bike funding picture soon.

    as for \”sharing all those public streets with motorists\”.. just remember to, \”share the fricking road\” and \”for heaven\’s sakes, you need to look around.\”

    some great tips wouldn\’t you say?

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    a.O August 13, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Re #11:

    It\’s always this, isn\’t it? Platitudes, press conferences, and more money spent to \”remind\” people of the obvious. What a joke.

    Never anything done to enforce the basic speed rule or the laws that protect bicyclists. Never anything to create real consequences for criminal conduct on the roads or to discourage poor transportation choices.

    No leadership to make the tough choices required for change. CRC Sam needs to come up with something better than this if he doesn\’t want to end up like Potter.

    And why can\’t people understand this simple fact: People driving cars – drunk or sober – kill people. People riding bikes – drunk or sober – do not. Take your enforcement and put it where it saves lives. Otherwise, it\’s pretty obvious that you\’re just trying to harass me.

    Thanks for lending me the soapbox, OG.

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    steve August 13, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Perfectly said a.O

    Though it was not tooo long ago that you were saying things like Go Sam Go.

    CRC Sam has been perfectly obvious about his intentions from day one. Wish ya\’ll had listened when I was pointing this out months and years ago.

    You know, when we still had clout with him.

    The time to hold a politicians feet to the fire is BEFORE we vote for them. Not after. Now he will only listen to those with cash and/or the ability to keep him in office.

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    a.O August 13, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    Well Steve, I take your point now and I did then. But I wouldn\’t have believed Sho no matter what he promised me, so I still think Sam was the better choice. Perhaps more importantly, I think now is and always will be the time to hold politicians\’ feet to the fire. And this may be a particularly good time to do so with CRC Sam.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) August 13, 2008 at 10:06 pm


    i sense your frustration and I share some of it.

    i have been to many many press events like this over years and yes, it is \”always this\”.

    what Sue Keil and Sam Adams said today, and the way they said it, was surprising to me. I was disappointed.

    i remain frustrated that the City has not been more proactive about these issues and when Adams said this morning that he wants to \”stay on top of this issue\” i thought how strange it was that it has been three weeks since all the road rage stuff hit the news and this is the very first public statement he has made.

    that is not what i call \”staying on top of\” the issue.

    unfortunately, this is not just about everyone needing to \”share the fricking road\” and it\’s not responsible to simply tell people to just \”look around\”.

    lack of funding is not an excuse.

    this is an issue about priorities.

    re-allocating roadway space away from private cars and making more space for people on feet and on bikes is not expensive… but it is difficult politically.

    i sensed today that Sue Keil thinks the shift in mode split toward transit and bikes is a \”problem\” that PDOT has to \”deal\” with.

    in my thinking, this new transportation reality is far from a \”problem\”… it is an opportunity that PDOT should embrace as our first real chance in a century to shift the culture of traffic in our city away from private cars and toward a healthier, cheaper, more efficient way of moving around.

    this is not a time to lament the dwindling gas tax revenue.. this is a time to be bold, to lead the way in transportation policy and to realize that less driving is a great thing for our city!

    where is that bold leadership? who will not be afraid of political risk in the name of promoting more bike use and less car use?

    if we wait for the funding and political climate to be just right, our opportunity to remake Portland into a world class biking city will be gone.

    this is getting long.. i need to figure all this out.. but just wanted to share some thoughts I\’ve been thinking about.

    what do you think?

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    Graham August 13, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    Is there any talk of finding a way to fund bike infrastructure such that its success – i.e. getting people out of their cars – doesn\’t spell the demise of its funding through loss of gas tax revenue? This system seems designed to fail.

    Kind of a sad contrast to the cities profiled in John Pucher\’s presentation that turned up again recently:

    In which he discusses European cities whose leaders are cyclists who know cycling is good for their cities, who know what cycling requires in order to flourish, and then meet those requirements to a degree that would seem fantastical here.

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    Eileen August 13, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    So, besides the endearing smile, what made anyone think Sam Adams was going to be trustworthy? He had \”broken campaign promise\” written across his forehead starting with the backstabbing he did to Tom Potter a while back. I remember reading those stories (that were written to make Tom Potter look bad) and thinking that I didn\’t care how ineffective he was as a mayor, they were playing the game of dirty politics. Then he was elected in a landslide. It just shows you how far a cute smile can take someone.

    By the way, I get the exact same vibe about Barack Obama which troubles me because I have no idea who to back for President. I think I\”m going to just write in Jonathan Maus. Who\’s with me? Kidding! I wouldn\’t do that to you Jonathan. You can just start with city commissioner for now.=)

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    Kristie August 13, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    I humbly and gently ask that everyone refocus on the important work of the BTA\’s Eye to Eye Campaign.

    We are talking about social change. This takes time and money. Lots and lots of both.

    We need to educate everyone about how to share our roads, bike lanes, multi-use paths, and sidewalks. We need everyone to be considerate of others. We need everyone to engage our elected officials and policy makers at the national, state, and local levels in our quest to make our dreams a reality.

    What would happen if every driver (of a car, truck, or bus), every person on a bike, and every person on foot waved and smiled at each other?

    Wishing for Utopia, maybe?

    But what if . . . . ?

    What if cooperative interaction on our roadways, multi-use paths, and sidewalks became the norm?

    What if everyone were required to make these adjustments because of Peak Oil or some other reason? What are we going to do to help people adjust to new realities?

    Just asking . . . .

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    Kris S August 14, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Interesting how the comments on this thread have shifted away from the Eye-to-Eye campaign and its message, and have become more about leadership, policy priorities, and how a campaign like this one is going to affect all that. I think these are very appropriate questions at this point in time (i.e. Portland goes platinum, new leadership in City Hall, dwindling gas/tax revenues for transportation, etc).

    While Kristie is probably right that social change takes \”time and money\”, I am more with Gil Penalosa that in the first place these changes take leadership, vision (seeing opportunities, not problems), and some bold action at the part of the folks who are in charge and who can make things happen. I can\’t help feeling the same as Jonathan and others here, that it would be great to see a little more of that type of bold, visionary leadership in Portland and in the larger Metro area.

    Somehow, that loops back to Penalosa\’s question at the end of his keynote back in June: does Portland want to continue playing – and leading – in the Little League or do we really want to become a world-class city for cycling and livability?

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    matt picio August 14, 2008 at 8:30 am

    a.O (#12) \”People riding bikes – drunk or sober – do not\” (kill people)

    Right, except when they do.

    It\’s true that cars are vastly more dangerous than bikes, but it\’s disingenuos to say that bikes don\’t kill people – they do, when handled carelessly by inexperienced or inattentive operators at speed. An elderly pedestrian in Corvallis was struck and killed by a cyclist. A drunk cyclist in Portland in the last year killed himself running into a stationary object. Another drunk cyclist struck and killed a second cyclist in Portland, also in the last year. Sure, three incidents is small potatoes compared to the hundred or more killed each year in Portland by motor vehicles, but we have the capability of increasing our modeshare fivefold, and at that modeshare bike-caused injuries and fatalities are likely to go up. With gas prices and other factors driving (excuse the pun) more people out onto bikes, there\’s a lot more inxeperienced and inattentive people out there.

    I agree, cars kill far more people than bikes, and the lion\’s share of resources should be devoted to where it has the most impact and saves the most lives. But please frame the debate in terms of \”cars kill far more\” and not \”bikes don\’t kill\” – because bikes *do* kill, and the rarity of a bike-caused death doesn\’t make it any less tragic for anyone involved.

    Ok, someone else can take this soapbox back from me…


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    Eileen August 14, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Kristie and Kris, I think both of you are right. I do see the value of the eye-to-eye campaign and think it is a wonderful idea. But I also understand that it is a small piece of something bigger that needs to happen and it is frustrating to think that those in charge of making decisions might stop here and say, well, if everyone would just pay attention, everything would be hunky dory.

    It seems like we are stuck with Sam for a few years and I do think that he has good intentions. How do we hold his feet to the fire? How do we help him be the mayor we need him to be?

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    matt picio August 14, 2008 at 9:00 am

    First of all, cool logo – I like it, it\’s catchy. With the pedestrian symbol in the center, it puts the focus where it *should* be – on people.

    Sharing the road is all about putting communal responsibility on an equal weight with individual liberty, putting safety at the same level as convenience. Safety isn\’t just the injury and fatality rates – it\’s also about perceptions. When people don\’t feel comfortable riding on or crossing a particular street, that street feels unsafe – even if there have been no collisions. \”Near-misses\” are intimidating to those who are on the more vulnerable end of the scale.

    I think that cyclists in Portland are all over the individuality, freedom, and choice provided by the bike, and they\’re quick to claim their place on the road and demand transportation equality. We take the lane, we ride confidently, we act as a symbol for others symply by being present out on the road. Many cyclists, however, don\’t want to accommodate the other side of the equation – we run stop signs and red lights. We ride the wrong way on bike lanes, we ride on sidewalks. We take the right-of-way at 4-way stops when the car on the right is supposed to go next. We intimidate pedestrians and other cyclists by passing too fast, too close, without warning. Some of these actions are perfectly legal, some aren\’t. Many of us would argue that a number of the laws that we break are meant for cars, and that following them is actually *more* dangerous to the cyclist than breaking them. I\’m not going to argue either point, nor tell anyone how to ride -I\’m merely observing that these actions, whether legal or not, whether safe or not – occcur out on the streets every day, and that in many cases our arguments as to why we do them are flimsy and reflect a greater emphasis on personal convenience than communal responsibility.

    The most glaring example is the \”momentum\” argument. \”I can\’t slow down or stop because I spent time and effort getting up to speed and I don\’t want to lose my HARD-EARNED momentum\”. There\’s a sense of entitlement there – the concept that you\’ve earned the right to go fast simply because you did it under your own power. Never mind the fact that the walker on the Hawthorne bridge deck just had the bejesus scared out of them because you passed them at 15mph less than 3 feet away, with no bell, no \”on your left\” or anything. Sure, it might be safer, since if you give audible warning they might walk into your path – but is that communally responsible? At what point are you infringing on *their* mobility, *their* rights? How is that scenario different than a Prius passing you silently 3\’ away and scaring / intimidating you? Is it because you \”earned\” that momentum?

    My point isn\’t to stop doing these things, it\’s for *you* to examine your reasons and motivations for making the choices that *you* do – examine them and decide whether they\’re motivated solely for personal convenience, solely for the benefit of others, or somewhere in-between. Maybe make some different choices based on that realization – or not, the actual decisions are up to you.

    In my mind, that\’s exactly what Sharing the Road is all about – giving appropriate consideration to others (even those in much larger vehicles) and not looking out solely for myself and my interests – my convenience. Our culture of convenience gave us the world we\’re in today. I think that alone makes our attitudes regarding convenience worth examining.

    Those of you who\’ve read this post to its end, thanks for listening.

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    a.O August 14, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Jonathan (#15) – You got it right, in a nutshell, when you said \”this is an issue about priorities.\” That\’s exactly what it is.

    I\’ll say, respectuflly, that Sue Keil is a bureaucrat. Her job, as she sees it, is simply to maximize funding and budget for her department. She will do whatever the Gov tells her. Unfortunately, you only have to look at several other pressing issues to see that Ted, as good and well-meaning a guy as he is, isn\’t going to offer this State bold leadership.

    And Sam, well, the jury\’s still out. It\’s early. But it\’s definitely been a stumble out of the gate.

    Thus far, no one seem to be making the connection between the actual legal and policy changes needed to improve transportation, from lowering VMT to lowering deaths and injuries. No one. There is a next step here, and it\’s time to take it.

    Everyone seems to think that you just play the \”rah-rah\” game, talk about how wonderful Portland and bicycling is, make a few infrastructure improvements – unless there are \”more important\” things to do with the money – and then sit back and TAKE CREDIT for it all.

    I too am frustrated. And I\’m not going to wait to react to the next death or road rage incident.

    I\’ve got some thoughts about what we can do, and perhaps we should find a dedicated time and place to focus on this discussion.

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    a.O August 14, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Matt (#20) – Obviously we agree here, so there isn\’t much to add.

    I will say, though, that you\’re more likely to die in your bathtub than you are from being hit by someone on a bicycle. The numbers of deaths caused by people driving cars and people riding bikes are so disparate that they do not belong in the same conversation. One is a serious public safety issue and one is not.

    And here\’s my real point: When you mention them together, as though they were comparable or the same kind of thing, you falsely create the impression and belief that they are both an issue worth talking about, as though bicyclists share some of the responsibility for the immense amount of deaths on the roadway. It is unfair and misleading to suggest that.

    And one other thing, a pet peeve really: Bikes and cars and bathtubs are inanimate objects and cannot kill anyone. As long as we\’re being picky about language… 😉

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    BURR August 14, 2008 at 11:20 am

    I think it\’s time for PDOT to get off their asses already and paint sharrows on some East side arterial streets, starting with East 28th, SE Hawthorne Blvd., East Stark, East 11th, East 12th and (add your favorite bike unfriendly street here). Half of these streets are already bike routes in the City\’s Bike Master Plan, yet pretty much nothing has been done to improve access and safety for cyclists for the last 20 years…


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    BURR August 14, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    The eastbound bike lane on SE Hawthorne from SE Grand to SE Ladd needs to be made wider too, there\’s way more bike traffic there now than that skinny door zone bike lane was designed for; there\’s room for at least a 10-foot bike wide bike lane there, plus a full-width green bike box at the signal at SE Hawthorne and Grand. Hello, PDOT?

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    matt picio August 14, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    a.O (#24) – I don\’t have time to look up statistics right now, so I\’ll concede the bathtub point. My point is that when you say \”bikes don\’t kill people\”, and there are documented cases where they DO, then those who wish to derail the so-called \”bike agenda\” have the ammunition they need to stymie real change by miring the debate in statistics, semantics, and fallacious arguments.

    And frankly, bike-bike/bike-ped crashes *are* an issue worth talking about, because if all goes well, we\’ll see a fourfold increase in cyclists in the next 10 years, and cyclist-cyclist and cyclist-pedestrian crashes, injuries and fatalities will likely go up – perhaps not as a percentage but almost surely as absolute numbers. Why wait until the problem is established to address it?

    And bicyclists *do* share some of the responsibility – just not the lion\’s share. The difference between saying \”bikes don\’t kill people\” and \”bikes have rarely ever killed anyone\” is as important a distinction as that between \”accidents\” and \”crashes/collisions\”.

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    a.O August 14, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    As I say Matt, we are agreed on the facts. And your point about the anti-bike fringe is well-taken. Hopefully, you see my point as well – though that\’s not clear from your response. Why wait until something becomes a problem to address it? Priorities. We\’ve got plenty of actual problems now – like people driving cars killing thousands of people every year – and only so many resources. And again, a bike has never and will not ever kill anyone. Neither will a car.

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    Zaphod August 14, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    a) Happy about the \”Eye to Eye\” campaign
    b) Anxious to see Sam deliver real tangible improvements to infrastructure whether it involves some political risk or not.

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    a.O August 14, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Hey All-

    In case you\’re interested, the NHTSA has just released fatality data for 2007. They\’re happy because fatalities are down 3.9% from 2006 to ONLY 41,059 people.

    In Oregon 455 people were killed by people driving motor vehicles in 2007. Does anybody know how many soldiers from Oregon were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007? You know, the two wars we\’re fighting right now. Was it more or fewer than 455?

    Matt, when you have time to look up stats, perhaps you can tell us how many people were killed in Oregon in 2007 by people riding bikes. I am seriously not aware of any, but perhaps there is one. Or two.

    The NHTSA report is here:

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    PoPo August 14, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    What Matt says.

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    a.O August 14, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    Of course. Because as long as you keep the focus on the minor annoyance of scofflaw cyclists you avoid talking about the 800 pound gorilla in the room – The PPB\’s lack of enforcement of the most basic traffic laws against motor vehicle drivers.

    According to ODOT, excessive speed is the #1 cause of serious crashes in Oregon, yet everyone knows the police are totally ineffective at enforcing the speed limits. They do it only occasionally and randomly in stings, otherwise create their own law with this bizarre practice of allowing a \”buffer\” above the maximum legal speed, and never bother to stop people for violating the basic speed rule.

    Despite the fact that they *know* better enforcement of this rule would save lives and make vulnerable road users feel far more safe on the roadway, they are either unable or unwilling to stop the major cause of the safety risk and instead intentionally focus on other matters.

    For example, they have a couple of guys who take out their personal vendettas on the fixie/messenger guys, they direct the motorcycle cops to bust bike commuters on random mornings, and they totally ignore things like the right-hook problem, people parking in bike lanes, and deadly motorist speeds on residential streets.

    When you look at the pattern of enforcement as a whole, you\’re left to conclude that either they are failing miserably at keeping the roads safe for everyone, or they are actually working toward some other goal.

    But if you keep the focus on this local soap opera about how some people who ride bikes are jerks – what a surprise – you can avoid having people thinking about how they\’re paying for a service that they don\’t actually receive: Safe roads.

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    peejay August 15, 2008 at 4:36 am

    What a.O. says.

    Matt, I gotta go with the numbers here. Talking about bike-on-bike and bike-on-ped fatalities is like saying the biggest problem with our declining forests is trees falling on loggers.

    And PoPo, I never did hear you apologize on behalf of all of the PPB, or denounce the officer involved, for the disgusting act that was done to Rev Phil. So you\’ve lost your right to speak to me on any enforcement issue.

    Last Friday, I was riding on Klicitat with a friend, and stopping at all the stop signs while my buddy followed behind without stopping. Fine, whatever. When the cop that had been tailing us then stopped us, he wanted to throw the book at me – he thought I didn\’t stop because I didn\’t put my foot down – because I tried to defend my actions. My friend who said nothing was going to get off scot-free.

    So, enforcement is never about safety. It\’s about power. If you cede to the will of the badass in the Charger, if you bow before him, you will do fine. If you stand up for yourself, forget it.

    Oh, and as for worrying about our reputation in the eyes of motorists, I\’m done with that game, too. This morning, I came to a complete stop at a four-way, waited for the car facing me to turn left (he came to a stop after me, but I extended the courtesy), and then when he didn\’t move, I went on my way. For that, I got a \”You gotta stop at the stop sign!\” from the driver. They can\’t even tell when a bicyclist does indeed stop, right in front of them. There is nothing to be done about such people.

    Can you tell I\’m in a bitter mood?

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    peejay August 15, 2008 at 4:54 am

    Jonathan, I like what you said in #15. It was clearly heartfelt, and I get the sense that you feel taken advantage of, after providing Sam a big forum here to boost his candidacy. Perhaps in the interest of fairness, you could try to get a follow-up interview with Mr Adams, as part of that \”feet to the fire\” business. Until then, and perhaps always, I\’ll keep calling him CRC Sam.

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    brettoo August 15, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Amen, Jonathan, and bravo. I\’d like to see you develop the tentative thoughts you\’re outlining here into a separate post/editorial, around the topic of How to Hold Politicians Accountable. Sam has been backtracking on several issues lately, no doubt for what he considers valid political and budget/economy reasons. So we need to figure out how to make him and other prioritize pro-bike policies, which are really pro-safety and pro-livability policies that make the city better for everyone, not just those of us who choose to get around on bikes.

    It seems to me that to do that, we must get real specific in terms of exactly what policies we want the politicians to endorse, and then present them as a consensus package and ask each commissioner: \”do you support the 2008 Safer Streets (or whatever we call it) package?\”

    The city and BTA and others already have various wish lists for sharrows and bike blvds, and those are great, but it might help to identify, say, 8 big, specific projects that we want funded and begun THIS YEAR, and then have a scorecard with each commissioner\’s name on it and how he/she (assuming Fritz wins) voted on funding it. Then do the same next year (9 in \’09), and the next (10 in 2010), and the next.

    Personally, as I\’ve said here before, I think the only real long term policy that will significantly boost bike participation is separated facilities for bikes, whether it\’s on the cheap (as in our current bike blvd strategy, presumably more achievable given the current underfunding of bike projects and political antagonism among a few loud anti bikers), or doing it right, with complete physical separation, as Denmark and Holland have done. Their documented effectiveness and safety speaks for itself. I\’d judge the city\’s efforts each year by how much progress they\’re making on creating separated, safe bike travel corridors.

    In the meantime, and back on the original topic, without absolving bad drivers etc of blame, I do think we need to keep working on our own behavior, like riding more courteously in crowded, share-the-road situations. Personally, I\’m trying to leave 5 minutes earlier, slow down and wave and smile more — eye 2 eye –when I\’m riding in the city and encounter peds and cars. It can\’t hurt to ease tensions, no matter who has the right of way. Just making that kind of brief eye to eye connection somehow humanizes us all and makes it harder for us to demonize each other.

    If we\’re all going to be sharing these public spaces, as they do in Europe, we should try to do everything we can to help defuse the tensions and get more people on our side, both on bikes and in the public sphere (media, city commission, police, etc.) It\’s not just about bikes — it\’s about making a safe, livable city for everyone who bikes, walks, and drives. Most of us will be doing a bit of all 3 as gas prices increase. I realize that it\’s not just about smiling and slowing down more — that hard policy choices need to be pushed and made — but I hope eventually we\’ll get beyond the false, antagonistic \” us vs. them\” caricature we see too often in the media and talk radio and the blogs, and maybe this Eye to Eye campaign can help do that.

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    matt picio August 15, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    a.O. (#28) – point taken on \”bike / car\” vs. \”cyclist / motorist / vehicle operator\”. Respectfully, though – I don\’t think you see my point. It *is* a problem now, and if it\’s not addressed NOW, it\’s going to get worse. Since we\’re going to be fighting for funding, we need to address the issue now so our opponents don\’t use it to shape the agenda. I\’ll understand if you disagree with my priorities, but I still need to voice them. Thanks for keeping the discourse rational – I appreciate that.

    a.O (#30) – and I think you\’ll agree with me that it\’s a load of crap. Their page one says \”traffic deaths\” and page two says \”motor vehicle deaths\” and they get the same numbers, which means something likely isn\’t kosher. While it\’s possible that all of the 2007 fatalities were caused by motor vehicles, it\’s EXTREMELY unlikely.

    Also, it\’s bull puckey that Secretary Peters is saying there\’s still a problem with motorcycles. Based on what data? The numbers released don\’t say how many of those crashes were due to the motorcyclist and how many due to the motorist. Maybe motorcycles are more dangerous because car/truck drivers don\’t SEE them, in which case the DoT education campaign is aimed at the wrong road users.

    Oregon soldier deaths: 106 since the start of hostilities. I can\’t find the number for 2007, but on average we lose 20 per year. That means motor vehicle-related fatalities are 20x worse than military deaths due to the War on Terror.

    We lost 1 or 2 last year due to bikes. Before we go \’round again on terminology, let me re-frame the debate, and I think we both agree on the main point: the problem is people who are operating vehicles who are unaware, distracted, inebriated, careless or reckless while operating said vehicle. These people are killing other people, regardless of the vehicle used, and our laws are inadequate in terms of discouraging the behavior, providing recompense for the victims, and preventing repeat offenses. The laws need to be changed, and the law, education and enforcement needs to reflect the severity and distribution of the problem (which is mostly due to vehicle weight, and secondarily due to speed). Do you substantially agree with that statement?

    peejay (#33) – it\’s not just about fatalities, it\’s about injuries and intimidation (\”close calls\”). I\’m saying that we have to exhort everyone to share the road and follow the law, in part because many of us are multiple mode – drivers one day, cyclists another, pedestrians a third. As someone who was in a bike-bike crash in the last 18 months, I have to say – yes, it is an issue. Individual freedom needs to be balanced with communal responsibility or we may as well have no laws and let everyone figure it out for themselves. I agree with the rest of your post – selective enforcement, the \”the badge is always right\” syndrome and the tendency of many officers to punish those who stand up for themselves are serious problems that need to be addressed.

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    matt picio August 15, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Additional note regarding the federal 2007 numbers: All we have right now is the summary, and if last year is a guide, we won\’t see the full report until February. The feds don\’t track bicycles in many of their statistics, so getting hard numbers on a lot of this is difficult.

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    BURR August 15, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    did you open the link a.O. posted? \’pedalcycle\’ stats are in the summary.

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    a.O August 16, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Right, Matt. If I may take some liberty here, I think perhaps you have been more focused on the negative social consequences of bad behavior by cyclists. And I have been more focused on macro-level policy changes that need to occur in law and law enforcement in order to maximize the reduction in deaths and injuries. As you might expect, the difference in emphasis appears to partially reflect our respective roles in our community. Given the current conditions here in PDX, it seems to me that they are both important and complementary. And anyway it\’s good to know there is so much thoughtfulness here.

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    Donna August 16, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    I think perhaps you have been more focused on the negative social consequences of bad behavior by cyclists. And I have been more focused on macro-level policy changes that need to occur in law and law enforcement in order to maximize the reduction in deaths and injuries.

    And I see that you will never be successful with the latter, a.O., unless the former is also being addressed. It\’s not right or fair, but it\’s human nature for a larger group of people to use the behavior of a smaller group of people (who are already disliked) as an excuse to continue whatever unfair practices are affecting said group. We have been this way since before we discovered agriculture, and it hasn\’t changed one iota since. To make matters worse, we also have mass media whose collective tendency is to whip up and perpetuate a sense of hysterical resentment amongst the larger group of people any time a member of the smaller group behaves badly.

    I also want to see macro-level policy changes, but I would hate to see all that work amount to nothing because people can\’t get past the people on two wheels who can\’t be bothered to think of anyone besides themselves. It\’s terribly unfair, but it\’s also reality.

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    peejay August 16, 2008 at 3:49 pm


    Well, then, if that\’s true, it\’s over. We can never overcome this so-called image problem, because no matter what you or I (or anyone on this site, or, for that matter, anyone who thinks about how their behavior might affect others) do, there will always be assholes. There will be assholes on cars, and assholes on bikes.

    I am sick of being responsible for assholes, and I refuse to believe that I have to fix their shitty behavior before I can ask that changes be made to the transportation infrastructure that make it safer to ride my bike.

    The huge number of assholes in cars did nothing to slow the paving of America in the past century. No movement started up that threatened to stop all highway construction until drivers stopped speeding or blowing through stop signs. A movement did start up to stop drunk drivers, but it sure didn\’t try to punish all motorists for the behavior of the drunks.

    This pathetic navel-gazing, this constant self-criticism, that\’s what\’s getting in the way of us gaining more political power to make the macro changes. Reading all of these hand-wringers reminds me of he Democrats and their inability to stop any of the Bush crimes, even after they gained the majority.

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    Donna August 16, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    If you can figure out a way to buck the millennia-old trend of human social dynamics as they apply to larger and smaller groups of people, I do hope you will write a paper about it, peejay. I\’m certain that other groups of people in a similar societal situation would like to know the trick. I know I would be very happy to be proved wrong in this.

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    a.O August 16, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Donna, I agree with peejay. I don\’t mean any offense here, but I think it\’s just silly to claim that traffic law enforcement policies cannot or will not change to protect vulnerable roadway users simply because some Portland cyclists do not obey all the traffic laws and a few local reactionary types are upset about that.

    And I really think peejay hit the nail right on the head when he said:

    This pathetic navel-gazing, this constant self-criticism, that\’s what\’s getting in the way of us gaining more political power to make the macro changes.

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    peejay August 17, 2008 at 8:31 am


    If you can figure out a way to buck the millennia-old trend of human social dynamics…

    That\’s just what I want to avoid doing. I believe it\’s just as impossible to force 100% compliance among one class of roadway users as it is to get 100% of the other class of roadway users to stop resenting the first group.

    Let\’s forget about the chicken and the egg, and just demand the changes we deserve.

    (a.O.: When are we getting that beer?)

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    a.O August 17, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Who wants some bikey beers at the LL? Everyone welcome! Would be good to meet some new folks. Really bummed I missed the marmot outfit. Email me at cmheaps on the gmail and I\’ll try to set something up.

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    a.O August 17, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Check out this graphic on death rates. It\’s quirky but well-done and based on CDC data. It\’s data only for men, so the numbers are somewhat different (lower) than the numbers for everyone.

    How many people do we think people riding bikes kill each year in the US? 5?

    Here are some other causes:

    Men killed by:
    spider bites – 5
    firework accidents – 5
    lightning – 40
    bee, hornet or wasp stings – 43
    heat stroke – 207
    alcohol poisoning – 270
    the flu – 469
    falling down stairs – 1,062

    And the list goes on. Then of course you can compare that to men killed by people driving automobiles:

    other men in automobiles – 17,463
    other men not in automobiles – 3,920

    So, if the number of men killed by people riding bicycles each year in the US *is* 5, or about 5, people on bicycles are:

    about as dangerous as spiders and playing with fireworks;

    ~8 times less dangerous than lightning or bees;

    ~50 times less dangerous than drinking alcohol; and

    ~200 times less dangerous than stairs.

    Does that give you some perspective on how dangerous people on bikes are?

    Here\’s the link:

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    jb August 17, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    I remember once in Eugene 2 cyclists were traveling opposit ways at night hit head on and they both died

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    jimbo August 17, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    what about critical mass? is it just the first 2 riders that need to make eye contact???

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