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BTA: Eye to Eye campaign a success

Posted by on November 25th, 2008 at 9:46 am

Eye to Eye Campaign Launch-5.jpg

BTA director Scott Bricker at the Eye to
Eye campaign launch in August. Mayor-elect Adams
and PDOT director Sue Keil look on.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) is calling their three-month “Eye to Eye” campaign a success after a ride-along with the Portland Police Bureau in search of unlit bike riders turned up nearly empty.

One of the key goals of the campaign, which launched back in August, was to increase awareness for bike light usage. The BTA worked with the Police Bureau to re-instate a month-long, free bike light program (accompanied by warnings), that was followed up by citations given out to unlit riders.

Story continues below


On Sunday night, BTA advocate Michelle Poyourow hopped in a patrol car with Officer Robert Pickett, and the pair hit the streets to see how well Portlanders had gotten the message.

In a post on the BTA blog yesterday, Poyourow wrote that all signs point to the campaign being a success:

On three hours and three different locations we nabbed a whopping FOUR unlit bicyclists, all of them at our first stop on N Williams north of Knott.

After her ride-along, Poyourow reflected on the campaign:

I believe the Eye to Eye Bike Light Campaign did a good job of that this year – the threat of a few dozen tickets at the end lent urgency and seriousness to months worth of outreach and education on one of the BTA’s top safety concerns…

In our vision of Oregon bicycling, it should be very hard to find a bicyclist out without lights. And last Tuesday night, in Portland, it was. For the BTA, this was a successful end to a great campaign

Read the full story of Poyourow’s ride-along (including the guy who erected a “Police sting ahead” sign that was then confiscated by Pickett and is now in possession of the BTA) on the BTA Blog.

What has been your experience out on the streets? Have you, whether in a car or on a bike, noticed more people using bike lights at night?

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  • Public Relations Officer, Portland Bicyclists' Union November 25, 2008 at 10:03 am

    I love that the BTA person drove around *in a car* on a single night with a cop “to give some tickets to unlit bicyclists” (quote from BTA blog) to assess the effectiveness of the program. Hard to argue with either the dedicated bike advocacy or the program evaluation skills of Michelle Poyourow and BTA.

    Is this really what you pay dues for?

    I also love that Robert Pickett, a guy who’s supposed to know the law, thinks he can magically transform his *theft* of someone else’s property into a public service by stating, on a blog, that he merely took the sign “for safekeeping” and will return it if asked.

    Are we paying tax dollars for Portland Police officers to commit crimes? Oh, right… They must not teach these guys that Portland residents have property rights or First Amendment rights.

    This unholy alliance is clearly serving the public good. Now get a light or the BTA will make sure you get a ticket and the PPB will steal your stuff.

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  • Kt November 25, 2008 at 10:04 am

    In answer to your question:


    At least, not out here in what some of your commenters term “suburbian hell”.

    The same people who are lit up are still lit up. The same people who aren’t lit up still aren’t lit up.

    Maybe the BTA should focus on other places besides Portland? I mean, most of the time, it seems like the BTA is Portland-centric, and the rest of the metro area can go hang.

    Besides all that, my opinion is that you can’t call something a “success” after three months. “Mission accomplished”, anyone?

    Oh, and a few suggestions: instead of going out on a Sunday evening, try a weekday evening, or a Friday or Saturday evening. Expand your reach at least to the rest of the metro area. The need for Eye to Eye is elsewhere, too.

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  • Chad November 25, 2008 at 10:12 am

    In addition to what Kt said above, there should be a focus off the main bike routes. It seems like the majority of the people riding without lights are the riders who are “scared” of bike lanes on busier roads and prefer quieter residential side streets to get around.

    That being said, the fact that this program exists, and is being successful, is another reason why Portland is one of the greatest places in the world to ride bike.

    Kudos to the BTA and Portland!

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  • Elliot November 25, 2008 at 10:21 am

    I look forward to seeing this campaign being continued, every season! When I was doing more night riding this summer, I had a close call with an unlit bicyclist about once per week while riding along Lincoln, Clinton and 34th in SE. Usually in combination with the invisi-cyclist running a stop sign. Sheesh!

    There will always be more dark riders out there in need of lights, or a kick in the behind to get themselves to a local cycle shop. I hope though, that tickets issued are for a reasonable amount ($242 is a bit steep, yeah?), or that they come with a diversionary program, so you can get the fine reduced if you demonstrate that you bought a set of lights.

    On a side note: do we need an educational campaign about how white lights go in front, and red in the back? I’ve seen a lot of people lately with rear-facing white lights, or red blinkies strapped to their chests. This is super dangerous, because it gives people the impression that they’re riding the opposite direction that they’re actually moving!

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  • Allan November 25, 2008 at 10:25 am

    I would like to throw a statistics book at the author. The only way to measure a change in light usage would be with counts, similar to the helmet counts that PDOT (i believe) does. If you disturb the sample (by ticketing or giving warnings) you affect the population that would be riding by without lights. I saw you giving out tickets on my commute home, and I have to say, I was somewhat unimpressed. With cop-car lights flashing, any rider would avoid the area if they were paying attention.

    Additionally, I would like to mention that I have noticed plenty of bikers without lights riding around, including at the location you were ticketing (Morris and Williams I believe). I think people realize they should have lights, but they don’t think they’ll get caught (and probably, they will not get caught with a relatively small number of ‘stings’). I like the idea, but I think mainly, more stories about people dying or getting hit because they don’t have lights would be much more effective than stings.

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  • Duncan November 25, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Getting caught is one thing, getting dead is another.

    Please if you know a ninja biker let them know how dangerous it is!

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  • Michelle (BTA) November 25, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Oh I didn’t mean it to be the “report card” for the campaign. I still see plenty of unlit folks out myself – but it was really striking how few we saw when we were out specifically to stop them.

    The campaign had many different messages and components. This was just one. I consider it a success because I’ve heard people, in a social context, talking about bike lights, and specifically front lights, as necessary. When I push them, turns out their friend got either a free light and a warning, or a citation, from a police officer.

    I’ve called the Beaverton Police, by the way, to suggest we partner with them next summer.

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  • Michelle (BTA) November 25, 2008 at 10:40 am

    PS – Pickett was totally serious about giving that sign back to it’s owner, by the way. He was not joking. I was the one who found it funny!

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  • John Lascurettes November 25, 2008 at 10:47 am

    I have not seen a lower number of unlit bicyclists on my bike commute home. One night of stinging is not much of a sample. Try a weekday at commute hour!

    Regarding the officer taking the sign: Reading the BTA blog post is *seems* as tough he actually set it up again at the next sting location as an early fair warning. Kudos to him for that. This is the same function that required-by-law “DUI Checkpoint ahead” signs serve in California where DUI stings are legal. Also the same as the “Photo Radar Ahead” or “Photo Radar Enforced” signs server here in Oregon.

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  • Barney November 25, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Someone please give “Public Relations Officer, Portland Bicyclists’ Union” guy a hug.

    Oh, and please get a light. I usualy bike commute but do have to drive 3 or 4 times a month for work. Passed a woman last night on SE 39th wearing a black hoodie with no lights. I was so scared for her…

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  • bahueh November 25, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I saw three riders last nigth with no lights right at Ladd’s Addition…

    Kudos BTA…pat yourself on the back for a job not done…

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  • bahueh November 25, 2008 at 11:55 am

    reminds me of GWB standing atop the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln…

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  • RyNO Dan November 25, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Wait, the BTA was riding around with cops trying to give tickets to cyclists ?
    Weird, weird world.

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  • John November 25, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    For the first time since daylight saving time took effect I rode my bike to work which is from Tigard to Hillsboro and back mostly along Baseline (Had to try out my new lights ), So the ride home was totally in the dark.
    And to answer your question, I would say that 50% of the other cyclists I saw did not have lights. I’ll also add that they (the ones without lights) were not riding like experienced commuters either as they frequently switched from sidewalks to road, rode erractically, and rode against traffic.

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  • maxadders November 25, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    The BTA wants to tax your new bike, then give you a ticket. Way to go, advocates!

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  • Duncan November 25, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    last night it was the black-clad punk rock biker with no lights while texting on his cell. Way to show the man whose boss dude!

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  • Mike November 25, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    I agree with Bahueh! When is the BTA going to get off their lazy butts, track down every cyclist in Portland and make sure that they all have lights with them at all times and that they are all correctly mounted?
    I mean c’mon, I gave you guys $35! Isn’t that enough to outfit everyone? And I am sure Bahueh has given at least that much and is trying to help get those lights mounted.

    PRO/PBU (#1)- You should show Michelle how it’s done. I have no doubt that your volunteer hours for cycling advocacy is second to none. And just out of curiosity, are you suggesting that she rides her bike while the officer patrols in his car? Doesn’t seem as though she would be getting the same view as Officer Pickett.

    Based on the opinions expressed here (BikePortland comments), the BTA seems to be an incredibly inept, confused about priorities and now polluted by time in Salem.

    Thank god most of these nay-sayers have no idea what the hell they are talking about.
    **Mike, I’m sure you can understand that I don’t appreciate your characterization of “these nay-sayers”. Please don’t insult other commenters. Thanks.**

    Keep up the good work BTA, and I will continue to donate, volunteer and fund raise.

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  • bahueh November 25, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    oh MIke, your wit is overwhelming and almost has honed as Velo Vanguard’s…I’m sure your whopping $35 has been put to good use. How much $$ I’ve given to the BTA remains well, my business.. (hint, its more than yours)

    point is…claiming a “victory” with some random drive by is ridiculous…

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  • Public Relations Officer, PBU November 25, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    “I have no doubt that your volunteer hours for cycling advocacy is second to none.”

    About 450 bike advocacy volunteer hours last year, Mike. Admittedly, none of them were spent giving cyclists citations, so perhaps not the right priority for you. And, since you’re making this personal, how many volunteer hours do you have?

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  • Mike November 25, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    We can only hope that Darwinism catches up before b-c.p.r.b. has time to reproduce and teach his spawn those awesome riding skills.
    **Mike, I do not appreciate any reference to someone being hurt or killed, no matter what the intent of your comment is. Please refrain from this in the future. Thanks.

    The BTA doesn’t want to give you tickets, much like your parents don’t want to punish you. But when you are immature or bad, sometimes you need a spanking.

    So I say way to go. Maybe they will keep the **edited: insults are not tolerated** in #16 from running into me, or vise-versa.

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  • Whyat November 25, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    I am thrilled the BTA is involved with the local police department. It gives the BTA more credibility by showing they are not just bike apologists, though the acutual sampling methods used here are virtually worthless.

    Transportation issues are complicated, and vehicle operators that operate in a dangerous fashion should be ticketed. I’d like to hear one of the naysayers’ alternative plan for increasing bike lights at night? Maybe we could sit around a camp fire and sing Kum by yah and hope it causes more riders to use lights?

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  • Mike November 25, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    I have given more than $35, I chose that amount due to it’s significance. I do not care how much $ you have given, nor how much time you have donated. What I care about is you trivializing the efforts of someone who has dedicated their life to trying to make the streets safer for ALL cyclists.

    At no point does Michelle claim victory or mission accomplished. She states that the campaign was successful. If 6 people now have lights on their bikes, where before they did not, is that not considered a success?

    What does it take?

    And why is the BTA working with PBB a “unholy alliance”? I understand that PBB has a lot of issues, but will these be addressed and corrected with a “us vs. them” mentality? Do you not see how it might benefit cyclists in the eyes of PBB, if our main advocacy group is working with PBB in order to ensure safety and order to all roadway users?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) November 25, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    hi folks,

    A healthy discussion about bike lights and about the BTA is great… but I won’t tolerate any insults or jabs at other commenters.

    Please keep things clean, intelligent and focused on making your points, and not on the personalities of other commenters.

    thank you.

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  • bahueh November 25, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Mike. I would suggest the BTA does not measures its “successes” using measures of false outcome…that is my point.

    If they would collective state they gave out X amount of lights and heard from X amount of people that they would both use and appreciate those lights, then that would be a “success”….but driving around looking at cyclists who probably had no contact with the BTA whatsoever in terms of lighting themselves for winter/night riding….come on….

    do I need to remind that correlation does not equal causation?

    I have not referred to any “unholy alliance”….I’m glad they’re working within the realities and confines of the PPB…and I hope hte PPB continues its ticketing of unlite cyclists as they put everyone around them in danger…you and myself included.

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  • Mike November 25, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    You are right: your website, your rules.

    I apologize and will not insult any other commenters.

    However, I see that public safety officers, politicians and BTA employees are open game? (I am not speaking solely of this thread, but rather, many of the threads).

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) November 25, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    “I apologize and will not insult any other commenters.

    However, I see that public safety officers, politicians and BTA employees are open game?”

    thanks mike,

    no one is “open game”. i do not have the time to moderate everything with a fine tooth comb and I tend to prioritize commenter-to-commenter insults.

    I want everyone to feel welcome and positive about their commenting experience here.

    i think people in stories should have a thicker skin… that being said, I don’t appreciate insults or negativity directed at anyone and I will try to edit out such insults to the best of my ability.

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  • Joel November 25, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Hi bike pals. Use your lights spread the word about using your lights if you see some one with out lights point them to a bike shop. KEEP RIDING. I also do not see the problem with the BTA and the PPB working together (in fact its needed for p-town to share the road), if you do please evaluate your ideology.

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  • Michelle November 25, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Oh, by the way, the BTA does plan to run the same kind of bike light campaign again next summer…and the next…and so on, until there really aren’t many bicyclists out without lights at night.

    So if any of your friends are out without lights next summer, you now have an excuse to nag them – tell them they can get a ticket for it. That makes you look nice and caring, not naggy. And you’ll be telling the truth.

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  • matt picio November 25, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Good job, BTA. In my opinion, if the BTA managed to give out only a couple dozen lights, it’s worth the effort. Is a three month campaign worth more than one person’s life? We’ve seen cyclists with no lights killed in this town, and I’m sure we will again. It’s easy to criticize when you can’t see tangible results, and sometimes, tangible results only follow failure, not success.

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  • dgc November 25, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    My 20+ year old Suntour freewheel broke down last night while crossing NE Killingsworth at 9th. Called the wife to come to the rescue in our big purple van. While standing at the corner for about an hour, I witnessed many bike riders (a good thing). About 1/3 did not have lights (a bad thing). About 1/3 of the lit cyclists rode with what I consider inadequate/improper lighting – red blinkies facing front; lights with nearly dead batteries; hard to see blinkies; etc.

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  • Matthew Denton November 26, 2008 at 12:25 am

    On my average half hour ride home at night, I typically see at least one CAR without lights on… I can’t believe they only saw 4 bikes in 3 hours.

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  • Gabriel November 26, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Johnathon (editor), I just wanted to thank you for helping run one of the most effective, well-kept websites I’ve EVER seen. I’m always amazed at your prompt, intelligent responses. I understand this can be a near thankless job sometimes, as any blog (portland especially, I’ve noticed) can quickly run rampant with ignorant, insulting rants. I applaud your efforts to keep that to a minimum, while respecting and encouraging us to share our often opposing views. Thanks again!!

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  • jim November 28, 2008 at 1:15 am

    There have ben several times for me driving at night where I was pulling out onto a street and nearly did not see bikes coming with no lights. They seam oblivious to the fact that they nearly got ran over, quite brazen in their actions actually.
    I also have noticed that a lot of the very dim headlights are still not very noticeable in certain situations. I would recomend a good bright light (halogen?)if you really want to be safe.

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  • Bill Stites November 28, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Good job Michelle, and thanks to Officer Pickett for his consistent support of safety issues.

    While I had the impression that the Eye-to-Eye campaign was primarily about road user communication [make eye contact], the emphasis here on visibility is most welcome.

    I would like to add that HI VIS VESTS are a great safety enhancement out there in the dark and rain. Basically, it’s about being AUTOMATICALLY SEEN – take advantage of the driver’s physiology where one’s eye is involuntarily attracted to bright spots in the field of vision.
    You are also not dependent on batteries, and create a large area of brightness.

    To be clear, this suggestion is about adding to visual effectiveness, not replacing lights.

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  • John Beaston November 30, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Good discussion. I ran across this blog entry that describes a bit about how the Dutch approach bike lighting.

    [text here]


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  • John Beaston November 30, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Sorry about screwing up the link. Here’s a better version:

    Busted in Holland

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