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New “buffered bike lane” coming to SW Stark, Oak

Posted by on May 26th, 2009 at 6:53 am

This drawing shows design of new buffered bike lanes. Notice how a lane of motor-vehicle traffic has been re-purposed and will now be used for bike traffic.

Today the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation will announce plans for their “buffered bike lane” project (which they are also calling an “enhanced bike lane”). The new bike lane design will be implemented on SW Oak and SW Stark streets from Burnside (at 13th and 10th respectively) to Naito Parkway.

“The City wants Portlanders to be comfortable coming to downtown on a bicycle – whatever their skill level – and I want Portland to be the most bike friendly and sustainable City in the nation.”
— Mayor Sam Adams

The design is similar to the new cycle track that’s coming to Broadway, with the major difference being its location relative to parked cars. Like with the cycle track, PBOT will re-purpose an existing motor vehicle lane in order to create a wide, bike-only lane. But unlike the cycle track — where parked cars are to the left of bike riders and act as a physical barrier to auto traffic — the parked cars in the buffered bike lane design will be in their more standard, curbside location. (For more on the cycle track, check out PBOT’s website.)

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Once complete, people on bicycles riding on Stark and Oak will enjoy 10 feet of biking space all to themselves. The plans call for a six-foot wide bike lane with an additional two-feet of “shy zone” on either side (hence the term “buffered”). Mayor Adams says the goal for the new design is “to make cycling more comfortable and provide an inviting pedestrian friendly retail environment.”

In a statement released with the plans, Mayor Adams said he has directed PBOT to implement this new bike lane design along with the cycle track as one of two “innovative infrastructure projects to help take cycling in Portland to the next level and encourage more people to make sustainable choices.”

Adams’ plan is to evaluate the projects side-by-side to see which of the two work better.

Also in a statement, Adams acknowledged that these streets currently work well for people who are comfortable riding in traffic, but they’ve decided to try these two projects because, “most Portlanders tell us that they would use a bicycle much more often than they currently do if they had these kinds of options.” He also added that:

“The City wants Portlanders to be comfortable coming to downtown on a bicycle – whatever their skill level – and I want Portland to be the most bike friendly and sustainable City in the nation.”

City Traffic Engineer Rob Burchfield said there are still a few design kinks to work out. SW Oak St. is currently two-way between Naito and 2nd (making the enhanced bike lane design impossible), so PBOT is looking into returning that section back to one-way operation.

I asked Burchfield about right-turn movements over the new bike lanes. He said at intersections with heavy right-turn activity — like on Stark at Broadway and 3rd — they will look to create (by removing parking) a right-turn lane for autos to separate right-turning motor vehicles from through bike traffic.

Like with the Broadway cycle track, PBOT chose Stark and Oak in part because they have relatively low traffic volumes and they found through modeling that the removal of one motor vehicle lane would not inhibit existing traffic flow.

Burchfield estimates the cost of each enhanced lane to be about $45,000 (similar in cost to the cycle track). PBOT hopes to have the new lanes installed in August of this year.

For more information, check out PBOT’s enhanced bike lane FAQ (also learn more on their website):

What is an enhanced bicycle lane?

An enhanced bicycle lane is designed so that it provides a more protected and comfortable space for cyclists than a conventional bike lane and does not have the same barriers to sight lines as a Cycle Track – where view of cyclists may be obstructed by parked cars.

Why are we constructing enhanced bicycle lanes (i.e., what’s wrong with these streets the way they are now)?

These streets currently work fine for people who are comfortable riding bicycles in mixed traffic. However, our designs are intended to make bicycling more comfortable for the majority of Portlanders who are not comfortable riding under such conditions. Our analysis indicates that most Portlanders would use a bicycle much more often than they currently do if they didn’t have to mix so much with automobiles. A buffered bicycle lane provides that opportunity.

Why not use a simple bicycle lane?

Because the enhanced bicycle lane, with the added shy zones, offers a more comfortable riding environment that we believe it is more consistent with our efforts to make bicycling a part of daily life in Portland.

How does an enhanced bike lane provide more protection for cyclists than a bike lane?

Enhanced bike lanes provide more protection for cyclists by providing ‘shy’ or buffered zones on either side of the cyclist.

What will drivers notice that is different about driving on a street with an enhanced bike lane?

There isn’t much of a change for drivers.  They will still need to watch carefully for cyclists when they are turning right at cross-streets or driveways.  They will also need to take care when parking on-street which is accomplished by crossing the enhanced bicycle lane.  Cyclists will always be clearly visible to drivers because, unlike a Cycle Track, the buffered bicycle lane does not have the barrier of parked cars between the bicycle lane and the travel lane.
The travel way for vehicles will also be narrower.  On SW Stark and SW Oak, the number of travel lanes will be reduced from two to one.

Will SW Stark and Oak Streets become congested if there is only one travel lane for vehicles?

Our traffic analysis indicates that these streets will operate with little additional delay for cars when reduced to one travel lane.  One of the reasons that these streets were selected for this demonstration project is because they have light traffic flows and extra street capacity available for other users.

How does parking work adjacent to an enhanced Bicycle Lane?

Drivers park parallel to the buffered bicycle lane in the same way that they do today except that they will need to yield to bicycles before crossing the enhanced bicycle lane to reach the parking lane.  The parking lane is adjacent to the curb.

Are buffered bicycle lanes expensive to implement?

The Enhanced Bicycle Lane proposed for this demonstration project eliminates a travel lane so no construction is needed.  As a consequence, they are low cost and relatively easy to implement.

Do Enhanced Bicycle Lanes provide any benefit for retail businesses on the street?

The reduction of one travel lane can provide a calmer environment for retail businesses without reducing area parking.  Additionally, this improvement will attract more cyclists to the street and more people will use the street in total.  This will likely be a benefit to businesses that attract passer-by shoppers.

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  • Schrauf May 26, 2009 at 7:23 am

    I like this idea better than the cycletrack. No pedestrians will take it over, and it is easier to switch lanes prior to turning left.

    Personally, I still prefer to just take a lane of traffic and share it with other vehicles, especially downtown with its slow traffic, but to help get more people out on bikes for the first time, some infrastructure such as this is very valuable.

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  • John Peterson May 26, 2009 at 7:40 am

    This is a much better project than the other recent downtown proposals (cycle tracks). Not only does the route actually go somewhere, it actually seems like it might work in terms of traffic flow, turning, visibility, and keeping pedestrians and bikes separate.

    Hopefully this is represents a new direction for bike infrastructure and planning.

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  • Jonathan Maus May 26, 2009 at 6:58 am

    New blog post: New “buffered bike lane” coming to SW Stark, Oak http://bit.ly/Da2lJ

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  • Jonathan Maus May 26, 2009 at 6:58 am

    New blog post: New "buffered bike lane" coming to SW Stark, Oak http://bit.ly/Da2lJ

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  • joe May 26, 2009 at 8:00 am

    nice, let’s see it and let’s see more.

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  • Joseph Rose May 26, 2009 at 7:00 am

    RT@BikePortlandNew blog post: New “buffered bike lane” coming to SW Stark, Oak http://bit.ly/Da2lJ

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  • Craig Bachman May 26, 2009 at 7:01 am

    RT @BikePortland: New “buffered bike lane” coming to SW Stark, Oak http://bit.ly/Da2lJ CMNT: Sweet this was kind of a bottleneck.

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  • Dan Liu May 26, 2009 at 8:11 am

    This is super, and Stark and Oak are really good streets to do this on. I’ll be very interested to see how the northwest-bound buffered lane terminates at Oak & 11th: the 11th ave streetcar tracks are on the right side, exactly where most bikes would want to turn onto.

    Extra signaling for bikes at Stark & Naito might be needed too, because the current traffic alignment has cars turning both left and right simultaneously at the green light. And, now that I think of it, turning onto Oak from Naito isn’t yet the most intuitive thing given current signaling and signage.

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  • Zaphod May 26, 2009 at 8:53 am


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  • Spencer Boomhower May 26, 2009 at 8:54 am

    This looks great, and it’ll be interesting to compare and contrast it with the nearby cycletrack.

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  • mmann May 26, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Nice idea. I’m curious about the “shy zones.” Are these just going to be painted, or will there be some sort of physical bump/barrier/etc to discourage cars from drifting over?

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  • Chris May 26, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Looks great. I think this will take care of some concerns with turning that people have had about the cycle track. The buffer give me some room to pass if all is clear.

    I’d love to see more bike boulevard work on the east side. More NE to SE bike boulevards would be loved!!! Even the beginning commuter at my work feels comfortable and safe taking up a lane in downtown.

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  • Vance Longwell May 26, 2009 at 9:07 am

    These two streets represent a shrinking number of bike-able streets downtown. Since Portland’s push to make cycling more accessible in Portland includes changing existing infrastructure that works well for bikes into infrastructure that works well for the Nanny State, there should be no place to ride a bike in downtown Portland very soon.

    Stark, Oak, and Broadway are, and even were just fine the way they are. These two projects will only serve to further alienate motorists, and seasoned vehicular cyclists, while providing a higher-level of service to people who can’t seem to be bothered to get over their irrational fears. Kool, make it harder for people you wouldn’t have to spend a penny on to ride a bike, in order to make it easier for people you have to spend a mint on to get to ride theirs.


    This is a joke, and an outrage. Never thought I’d see the day my worst enemy on the roads would be people calling themselves cyclists.

    How pathetic are you that you need this crap to ride a BICYCLE down the road? Seriously, CHILDREN do this by the hundreds everyday. Why can’t grown adults manage where children do just fine?

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  • John Lascurettes May 26, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Very interesting. I work in the old Fed Reserve building between Oak/Stark and 10th/9th. I look forward to seeing first-hand how this plays out.

    I’m going to dig a little deeper to see how they’ll handle the terminus on Oak at 10th Ave. Like Dan Liu, I have some concerns.

    As it stands, I always make my right from the left lane (and one can only make a right from either lane) as I always want to get across the streetcar tracks into the lane without the tracks heading north on 10th. If the buffered lane is there all the way to 10th, then they’re essentially forcing bikes into either the streetcar lane (hazard) or the right-turn-only lane to Burnside (bad design).

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 26, 2009 at 9:19 am


    about the “shy zones”. for now they will be just painted.

    both of these projects are demonstrations, so PBOT wants them to be as least cost as possible. once designs are ironed out, they’ll likely bulk up the treatments with more permanent features… like bollards, bumps, medians, etc…

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  • John Lascurettes May 26, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Hmm. No point of contact listed on those pages at PBOT. Anyone know who to contact directly with questions or concerns?

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  • ScottG May 26, 2009 at 9:24 am

    I like this not only for the increased comfort level it will offer newer cyclists, but for the way in which these setups raise visibility of bicycling on these streets in general. I’m looking forward to riding on them this summer.

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  • Vance Longwell May 26, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Off topic but I’m seeing this route-bikes-past-right-turning-motorist thing begin to take root. The asinine policy of using painted bike-lanes to restrict bicycle access to the public right of way is outrageous. However the deadly policy of forcing cyclists and motorists into conflict, and calling it a safety improvement, is tantamount to murder.

    You won’t stop at anything to grow your profits…er…I…mean…mode share, will ya’ll?For no other reason than to justify your new Green Church, you’ll inconvenience thousands and thousands of motorists, imperil seasoned users, and top it all off by deploying traffic affectations that only make cycling in Portland more dangerous and inconvenient for every one.

    Every one has a right to safety. This includes seasoned riders who have been out there for years, you know? Clogging the streets with anything that will roll and calling it a bike, arbitrarily tampering with a vetted system, and then vilifying anybody in contention with unanimous support is hardly a, “Cycling movement”.

    More like the popular kids just got to town and now they’re gonna show us all how it’s done. No matter who it kills, inconveniences, alienates, or injures.

    Traveling forward by a right-turning car is rude, dangerous, counter-productive, and in every way vastly inferior to simply passing left. Regardless of what little lines the opportunists, and profiteers want to paint everywhere.

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  • Neighbor May 26, 2009 at 9:35 am

    “Once complete, people on bicycles riding on Stark and Oak will enjoy 10 feet of biking space” and local delivery drivers will enjoy taking advantage of the wider short-term parking zone.

    Sorry to rain on the parade- I think it’s great that these improvements are on the horizon, but I’m really concerned about the number of dissimilar, unproven approaches being implemented all over the city. How many unique lane and facility types do we plan to have? Green lanes, cycletracks, buffered, blue, boxes- the list keeps growing.

    I think bike riders will get it- at slower speeds and being accustomed to identifying and using bicycle facilities, I think we’ll have a wonderful time with these zany lane-type changes from block-to-block (bike and skate parks thrive on variety of trick structures, why not our streets?). My real concern is drivers- especially visitors to the city who may not even have vanilla bike lanes in their home town, let alone 31 flavors of bicycle facility.

    So keep it coming- more on-street facilities for the win- but seriously… a little consistency please?

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  • Jessica Roberts May 26, 2009 at 9:47 am

    I am really happy to see PDOT forging ahead on several demonstration projects in downtown. Downtown remains uncomfortable for beginning and slow bicyclists, so treatments like this are likely to make a big difference. And testing out two different designs will provide opportunities for evaluation and refinement for future projects. Exciting!

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  • Vance Longwell May 26, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Roberts #16 –

    “Downtown remains uncomfortable for beginning and slow bicyclists…”

    This is an unsupported assertion. I know because I make many of my own. What is the legal definition of, “uncomfortable”, anyway? Regardless, you can’t produce any evidence of this. It’s too abstract a notion to prove. Since when are we as citizens subject to the, “Whim”, then as that’s no more or less accurate, of a minority of our citizenry?

    Is this the Portland that you all want to live in? We have traditionally maintained a fairly zero tolerance policy for incompetent public-right-of-way users for how long now? All modes.

    Since when is making people comfortable a higher priority than feeding, or housing others? If we’re going to be playing, I mean experimenting with, taxpayer money why not experiment with some full bellies, or some medicine, or somebody who has a clue what they are doing on the staff at PBOT?

    You are decimating cyclists’ access to the public-right-of-way. You are increasing motorist, and cyclist trip-times simultaneously, and exponentially for what?

    “…so treatments like this are likely to make a big difference.”

    “Likely”. You guys don’t even know? “Likely”, and, “uncomfortable”, then are defined where in the ORS? Are these additions tested in anyway? No? It’s an experiment? With people’s lives at stake? Right. The Nanny State strikes again!!

    Are you sure you aren’t excited about buffering your job security a little more than you are making anybody any safer?

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  • Dave May 26, 2009 at 10:07 am

    I guess there always has to be at least one ranter.

    I think this is great and will be interesting to see how it works out in comparison to the more separated cycle track. In this case, it will be interesting to see how it works with automobile traffic having to cross the bike lane, though I guess that situation already exists all over the city. As long as they manage intersections well, it should work pretty well, I think.

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  • wsbob May 26, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Experimentation with an idea like this would be significant over on say…N.W. Everette and Glisan between I-405(remember discussion of the riding environment of that section of those streets from last year connected with the re-use Sauvie Island Bridge on Flanders proposal?). Those streets are heavily traveled by people in cars and bikes. People on bikes there really do need a safety and a comfort margin from motor vehicle traffic.

    On Oak and Stark, the value of this effort is questionable. I feel that keeping the bike lane to the left of parked cars makes it a better design than the planned SW Broadway cycle track. The intention seems good, but the experiment would likely produce a greater benefit on a busy street.

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  • peejay May 26, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Once again, I stopped reading after “nanny state.” But I did skim ahead and saw “tantamount to murder.” Going for the gold, huh, Vance?

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  • redhippie May 26, 2009 at 10:30 am

    I am excited for the city to experiment with this concept. Creating biking arterials is an important step in creating a city with diverse transportation options.

    That said, I am wondering how the City plans on addressing the following issues:
    1. Parking enforcement for vehicles blocking bike lanes.
    2. Repainting bike lanes lines in the spring after a winter of studded tires have decimated them.
    3. Traffic enforcement for drivers that veer into to the bike lane to get around other stopped vehicles
    4. Educating slow bike riders to stay on the right and pass on the left.

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  • Julie White May 26, 2009 at 9:33 am

    RT @BikePortland: New blog post: New "buffered bike lane" coming to SW Stark, Oak http://bit.ly/Da2lJ

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  • Spencer Boomhower May 26, 2009 at 10:35 am

    A couple things about the FAQ:

    “How does parking work adjacent to an enhanced Bicycle Lane?”

    “Drivers park parallel to the buffered bicycle lane in the same way that they do today except that they will need to yield to bicycles before crossing the enhanced bicycle lane to reach the parking lane…”

    That, “except they will need to yield to bicycles,” would seem to imply that currently drivers are _not_ required to yield to bicycles in regular bike lanes when parking. That doesn’t sound right… Or am I reading it wrong?


    “The reduction of one travel lane can provide a calmer environment for retail businesses without reducing area parking. Additionally, this improvement will attract more cyclists to the street and more people will use the street in total. This will likely be a benefit to businesses that attract passer-by shoppers.”

    Sounds like a great spot for a bike corral 🙂

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  • E May 26, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Folks, this is a test. Just like the cycle track. If it works it will be implemented in all those places it will do the most good; for now, it’s in an area busy enough to be useful but not so busy as to create a bunch of problems. Let’s give it a chance and see how it works.
    Myself, I’m curious to try it out and see how it compares to the cycle track. I actually use these two streets regularly – and I make left turns – so I look forward to testing the design.

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  • Vance Longwell May 26, 2009 at 10:49 am

    peejay #20

    Nope, just reached a breaking point with people using made-up, AND irrational fears to justify impeding motorists. Cycling has nothing to do with politics, and I’m tired of BikePortland (Nothing personal J&E), and many of it’s readers trying to tie the bike movement to the Nanny State, and Green Church agenda.

    I’m just trying to get from point a to point b on my bicycle. I do this because I’m too poor to afford a car. I do this because I’m tired of the diseases I keep getting on the bus system. For that matter, now that I’ve alienated this wholesome, welcoming, non-judgmental crew here at BikePortland, jobs have become scarce for me. So add to that I can’t afford the bus either. Now riding my bike get’s a little slower, and a little more dangerous every day, thanks to the people charged with getting traffic moving, and keeping me safe.

    Mr. Maus, and Ms. Blue are doing a great job here, and I really admire this blog, I really do. This IS the headquarters/groundzero for a very certain type of cyclist though, hence my presence. Doesn’t do any good to preach to the choir, right?

    So ya, going for the gold indeed. Way upset by the arbitrary nature of the way this stuff is being presented. Very upset about dangerously incompetent users, of any mode really, proliferating on the public right-of-way. Very upset with people who drive more than ride, dictating to me, and marginalizing me when they can’t win an argument, how I’m going to operate my bicycle.

    People so frightened, so incompetent, so ridiculously short-sighted that they actually wear a Styrofoam cup on their head to FEEL safe are not the people I want making my safety decisions for me.

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  • benschon May 26, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Portland is actually converting an existing traffic lane to be bicycle-only. Think about that. I never thought I would see the day. Rejoice!

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  • Dave May 26, 2009 at 11:29 am

    @Vance: I understand that this kind of thing threatens certain cyclists’ ability to ride as fast as they like (which they can do in car traffic lanes). However, I think it would be more useful for you to fight the requirement to ride in a bike lane where one exists, than to fight new infrastructure aimed at getting more people on bikes. Again, these are tests, and if they prove successful, then they will be fleshed out to be implemented in other places, just like SE Clinton was the test for the bike box idea, which was then modified a bit for implementation in other areas.

    I know you seem to think anyone should feel perfectly safe riding in the lane with automobiles, but that is simply not the case. I agree with you that it’s partly due to an imposed sense of fear, but also, not everyone has the physical stamina or skill to keep up in automotive traffic, and it is intimidating having a loud machine bearing down on you. Bike boulevards help that, and to some extent, downtown traffic is slow enough for people to feel comfortable in it, but I really do believe that infrastructure like this is going to be beneficial towards the end of getting more people on bicycles for more trips.

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  • Schrauf May 26, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I enjoy Vance and the alternative views he sometimes brings to the table. I don’t believe his fear of cyclists eventually being relegated to crowded inconvenient bike routes and banned from general traffic areas will play out, but it is definitely a potential risk to be conscious of.

    In the meantime, there are more benefits than there are costs to encouraging more people to try bike transportation. And to think otherwise primarily because of the inconvience it may cause (slower bike travel in some areas) is selfish.

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  • Matt Picio May 26, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Vance (#9) – I would think that your worst enemy would be the state legislature who forced you to use that infrastructure. Face it, if ORS 814.420 did not exist, you wouldn’t be required to use the bike lanes, and you could continue to use every road the way you have in the past.

    We’ll leave out the whole issue of keeping cycling for the “elite” – i.e. “seasoned vehicular cyclists”, et. al.

    and in (#17) – “Since when are we … subject to … a minority of our citizenry?” Since the days of women’s suffrage and the civil rights movement. Be glad that we are, else the motoring majority could use that argument to restrict bikes from the roads entirely.

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  • peejay May 26, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Gosh, I changed my mind. I now believe correctly that only the fittest and most fearless of all cyclists should venture out onto the streets, where they will mix it up with cars and will require no “nanny state” protections. These seven or eight bikers will remind us of our freedoms. And we who did not make the cut will stand there on the sidewalk, waving and applauding. Or something like that.

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  • Hart May 26, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Great job, Mayor. This is why we support you.

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  • Jim Lee May 26, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    How about a “Buffyed” bike lane. No vampires allowed!

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  • […] In Bicycle Commuting, Bicycle advocacy, Daily Roundup, Rider Down on May 26, 2009 at 12:10 pm BikePortland.org: Portland to add “buffered” bike lanes aimed at increasing cyclist elbow room in […]

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  • Mike May 26, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    The vampire minority will take to the streets to protest the state’s sponsoring of our arch-rival!

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  • Andres May 26, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Awesome!! I can hardly believe this is actually happening! Many times I’ve wondered about this concept, especially after narrowly avoiding a collision with a right-turning car that didn’t use a blinker.
    This approach would work in 2 way traffic also; with the two inner lanes closest to the yellow line dedicated to bike traffic, and the mid & right hand lanes to motorists. (Multnomah blvd, for example)

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  • Paulo May 26, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Cheers peejay! Getting around by bike isn’t about racing – to me it’s about getting to work comfortably, getting 3 bags of groceries home without spilling anything…

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  • Vance Longwell May 26, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    As usual some great suggestions. I hadn’t considered the ‘pursue the legislature’ angle and feel that is a valid argument. I concede many of my points then. However, it’s been my experience that the things I physically contact are way more within my control than the abstract, arcane scrawling in some book in Salem. It is my defense then that arguing for no bike lanes, over arguing for the finer points of regulation, serves to function as both. You can’t lock me in a bike lane, if there simply isn’t one there. You are asking me to sacrifice for the newbs, what’s the difference between that and me calling for their sacrifice?

    The statistical reality that safe bike trips outnumber unsafe ones on orders of magnitude makes any so-called, “fear”, of operating your bike in traffic an irrational one, period. Hell, a rational fear is enough to warrant banning any operator from the public right of way let alone a cyclist, IMO. Just exactly what is the goal here anyway?

    This isn’t about fear and safety anyway, and I really resent the distortion. It’s around 99.9% safe out there on about any mode, by about any reckoning. This is all about something else since fear and safety aren’t even rational, let alone an argument. That’s why I do my best to twist, and distort in my language. This is what my opposition is doing, why shouldn’t I? If I may do a bit of mind reading this about a whole bunch of incredibly abstract, and equally personal feelings about society in general, and not anything as practical as where and how we’re gonna ride bikes.

    Have your little Greenfest! Go right ahead, we’ve got forums for that. Cycling and transportation policy are not the place for morality, and enforcing the social contract though. Especially by playing upon people’s fear to fund these outrageously short sighted, and superfluous additions to our roadways.

    Add to that there is also a lot of money at stake, and I can’t see how advocating for regulation, over prohibition, is going to service me, or any one like me. Don’t forget the number of people who will benefit financially from increasing cycling as a mode. They’re still a minority on a large scale, but that number is still huge, and they are making huge amounts of money too.

    F.U.D driven by profit makes me look sideways at Conservatives, why should it be any different coming out of the mouths of those who self-identify as Liberal? That’s exactly what’s going on. Beads and trinkets, for the constituency. Treaties that will be forgotten the second public sentiment shifts a micro-degree. Don’t forget I’ve lived to see this exact set of circumstances play out, not once, but twice before here in 3 decades.

    Keep your beads and trinkets, I’m just trying to hang on to my hunting ground. If your fear is real, it makes you dangerous, and incompetent. Just exactly the type I’m in favor of keeping on the bus.

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  • Brad May 26, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Vance, in his own way, brings up a valid point. Drivers would go absolutely batcrap crazy if the city decided to turn a lane of I-5 into a 40 MPH “Calm” lane for seniors and new drivers frightened by others driving 60 MPH or faster. Especially if the reason was to “increase mobility for honored citizens” or some such rationale.

    How many sharrows could be painted for what this will cost? What about signs stating that “Share the Road-It’s the Law!” Cyclists already have many rights on public thoroughfares that they (and drivers) are not even aware of. Perhaps new riders wouldn’t be so intimidated if they were aware that they could stray more than six inches from the fog line? Perhaps car drivers would act differently if they knew bikes are traffic just like them?

    As a VC, I couldn’t care less if Portland becomes Amsterdam II or Copenhagen USA unless it restricts my ability to travel via bike. Right now, I enjoy the right to ride anything that isn’t an urban freeway. I, like Vance, fear that enough of these faux-Euro solutions will restrict me to certain cycle tracks and speeds of no more than 10 MPH – for safety and niceness!

    Why must we always cater to the lowest common denominator and absolve them of any knowledge or personal responsibility? Hell, isn’t that how we got so many unqualified drivers?

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  • Dave May 26, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    @Brad: The difference here is that a bicycle is a human powered vehicle, and as such, it can only go as fast as the person riding it can make it go. Introducing a 40mph lane on the highway doesn’t make sense, because all anyone has to do to go 60 is apply a little more pressure with their foot. It’s not the same riding a bike. A person who isn’t in top physical shape is not going to be able to ride 25mph, much less for any kind of distance.

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  • Dave May 26, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    @Vance: as for myself, I have nothing to gain by having more people cycling except fewer cars on the streets, a quieter city, less air pollution, a more easily walkable city, and public spaces that feel like they are dominated more by people than by automobiles.

    I have no desire to force you into doing anything, which is why I suggest fighting to over-rule the Oregon law requiring you to ride in a bike lane if it exists. If you want to ride in the car traffic lanes, I fully support you. However, I also want to support the majority of people who don’t feel comfortable riding in the car traffic lanes, which you seem to be adamantly opposed to.

    Getting more people cycling is not about some stupid trendy “let’s all be green” fad that has no practical benefits, it’s about actually improving the living quality of the city. Having a greater proportion of human traffic, as opposed to automobile traffic really does change the feeling of a city drastically, and I think it’s worth trying some options to make that happen.

    What is there to gain from *not* increasing cycling mode share? Your convenience, and the convenience of cyclists who are able to and used to navigating automobile traffic.

    Though, the only reason you see that as a benefit of not increasing the bicycle mode-share is because of that Oregon law that requires you to ride in a bike lane if one exists. Once again, are you sure you’re fighting the right battle?

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  • Vance Longwell May 26, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Dave #38 you did a great job here of outlining the semantic differences between bikes and cars, without making any sort of real assertion. Brad #37 and I are talking about fear of operating any vehicle in traffic. Are you asserting that a person driving 40 m.p.h. down an expressway filled with 60 m.p.h. traffic is perfectly okie-dokie? I don’t think you are. That is kinda what you are arguing though. The point is that cyclists here seem to expect to be singled out of other modes, and given benefits, in this case the assuaging of irrational fear, that other modes traditionally are not afforded.

    I swear if somebody pipes up with that, “Motorist planning mentality”, hogwash I’m gonna explode.

    Feeling safe, and being safe are two very different things. One is a zero sum fantasy. The other is an infinitely complex organism which can only be mitigated to a varying degree, and never outright controlled. As such, how can we expect to solve our transportation issues by addressing people’s feelings of safety, at the expense of actually making things safer?

    If you wanna get a newb on a bike, point out to them that it’s statistically safer than even walking is in Portland Oregon, to ride one’s bike to and fro. If you wanna spend a bunch of money, talk a bunch of politics, speculate about how to control people’s lives, don makeup and pose for the cameras, and when opposed appeal to the protection of the lowest common denominator, well I’m gonna call you on it and be suspicious of an agenda.

    Agenda+Cycling=Bad for Vance about 9 times out of 10.

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  • are May 26, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    as a vehicular cyclist, I have a certain sympathy with the direction Vance is coming from, but agree with Matt P. that the front line has to be getting rid of 814.420. if I am not required to use these infrastructure treatments, I am still okay. even if you happen to find yourself in one of these tracks, you are not required to place yourself inside a right hook. it’s called avoiding a hazard, and is permitted under 814.420. I have yet to be tagged by the men in blue for going around the left side of a car turning right.

    it seems the agenda here is to get so many more people out on bikes, and to create such difficulties at the corners for motorists, that the motorists simply back off, and maybe some of them get on bikes.

    education would be a “better” plan, but unless you want to license cyclists (and I emphatically do not), you cannot force it on people.

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  • Dave May 26, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    @Vance: on the contrary, no matter how many statistics you throw at someone, they will not get on a bike unless they *feel* safe. Just like 80% of Portlanders will continue wearing helmets no matter how much evidence there is to show that they don’t really improve your actual safety all that much.

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  • Vance Longwell May 26, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Dave #42 Um ya that was mostly for effect. I’m sort of looking down and kicking the dirt with my toe too.

    I’m with you on helmets. The thing with ’em for me is that they’re good for scrapes and bruises, but not going to even mitigate a medium sized concussion or more. To make them resist those sorts of forces would require them to be much, much heavier. I wonder if newbs have any experience with heavy head-gear?

    Plus IMO you’re trading off range of motion and visibility. This too, if you want to talk me down for being macho, or cavalier, what exactly are you up to on a public road that makes you feel that head gear is obligatory? Hmmm? I mean, I’m usually putting a helmet on to go fast, right? Right? Right?

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  • Mike M May 26, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    @Jonathan #11,
    The shy zone will likely always be paint, as the cars parking along the sidewalk will need to get in and out without driving to the end of the block in the bike lane.
    This is a cool idea, but I commute down Oak whenever I ride and it is already fairly vacant. It seems like there are better places for this kind of path, but if it is truly an experiment to implemented in other locations I suppose it could make sense. In this location it is kinda silly.

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  • are May 26, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    re 44. it is possible we will be seeing most of these treatments installed where the effects on motorized traffic and curbside parking are minimal, and where the primary expense is paint. this would certainly be the politically expedient approach, pleasing the casual cyclist and not offending the motorist or the nearby business owner.

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  • wsbob May 26, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    “Just like 80% of Portlanders will continue wearing helmets no matter how much evidence there is to show that they don’t really improve your actual safety all that much.” Dave #42

    In your mind Dave, how much would ‘all that much’ be? What good is the evidence you allude to if it doesn’t provide people with a very clear idea of how much protection they can expect from a bike helmet?

    In testing, vertically dropping headform mounted helmets 6′ onto anvils and other hard objects…I guess I’d rather not subject my skull and brain to that kind of impact.

    But then, I don’t really know what minimum intensity of impact will give a person a a mild concussion. What do you think the chances are that a persons bare head could hit an anvil at a speed of 11mph…(that’s the speed helmets.org says helmets tested on their test rig achieve upon traveling from a distance of 6′ above the anvil)and escape with only scrapes and bruises?

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  • Hart May 26, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Just like 80% of Portlanders will continue wearing helmets no matter how much evidence there is to show that they don’t really improve your actual safety all that much.

    What? Don’t you remember how cyclists were dying every year by the tens of thousands until helmets came along?

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  • John Lascurettes May 26, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    “Just like 80% of Portlanders will continue wearing helmets no matter how much evidence there is to show that they don’t really improve your actual safety all that much.” Dave #42

    Okay, whatevs. I will continue to wear mine, the second one. The first one was put to a real live test as a driver ran a red, right-turning from a side street and my bike jammed into his bumper sending me ass over head to the street, landing on the back of my head first.

    I ended up with a very mild concussion and some neck strain that three chiropractic appointments fixed, but without that helmet, my skull would have been cracked for sure (the “egg crate” was completely crushed.

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  • Vance Longwell May 26, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    John Lascurettes #48 – but the helmet you were wearing didn’t prevent your crash right? Given that you crashed anyway, what happened after you lost control was a dice-roll, and even mentioning it is pure speculation. Fact is, you got lucky helmet or no.

    I could just easily argue the helmet impeded you in such a way as to cause this crash, as you can that it magically saved your life.

    I’ve been in far more, and much more severe accidents than you say you’ve been in, and feel the exact opposite about the role helmets played in my crashes.

    Your personal safety is much better served by avoiding being on the right hand side of right turning motorists, as stated, than it would be by the average bike helmet. Law, right-of-way, or no.

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  • Alexis May 26, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Just a point of clarification to #28 there… woman’s suffrage doesn’t make you subject to the whims of a minority, seeing as how women are half of the population of the globe (actually a little more). And civil rights doesn’t make anyone ‘subject to’ minorities… the general idea there was to keep the majority/The Man/The System from making the minorities fight over their scraps, basically. If you’re going to be dramatic, can we at least be accurate?

    Bike lanes are… a complicated issue. I realize that they’re pretty much there to keep me out of the cars’ way. And while this is good sometimes (in Beaverton, where cars fly by at 40 mph) it doesn’t really seem that necessary downtown. Although I admit, bike lanes downtown are pretty convenient at rush hour when the cars are all backed up and I get to fly by~!

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  • Dave May 26, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    I didn’t intend to start the great helmet debate, let’s stay on track with the article…

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  • Hart May 26, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    but without that helmet, my skull would have been cracked for sure (the “egg crate” was completely crushed.

    This is anecdotal. A cracked helmet is not proof it protected your head. On the contrary, helmets inhibit your head’s natural tendency turn turn upon impact, that natural way it’s supposed to to protect your brain from internal damage.

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  • old&slow May 26, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I was not going to log on here anymore but Hart is such an idiot I couldn’t help myself. I guess the following statistics are just “anecdotal”. Google is pretty hard to use isn’t it Hart?

    There are 73 to 85 million bicycle riders in the US.
    700 bicyclists died on US roads in 2007. Over 90 percent died in crashes with motor vehicles.
    The “typical” bicyclist killed on our roads is a sober male over 16 not wearing a helmet riding on a major road between intersections in an urban area on a summer evening when hit by a car.
    About 540,000 bicyclists visit emergency rooms with injuries every year. Of those, about 67,000 have head injuries, and 27,000 have injuries serious enough to be hospitalized.
    Bicycle crashes and injuries are under-reported, since the majority are not serious enough for emergency room visits. 43,000 cyclists were reported injured in traffic crashes in 2007.
    1 in 8 of the cyclists with reported injuries had a brain injury.
    Two-thirds of the deaths here are from traumatic brain injury.
    A very high percentage of cyclists’ brain injuries can be prevented by a helmet, estimated at anywhere from 45 to 88 per cent.
    Direct costs of cyclists’ injuries due to not using helmets are estimated at $81 million each year, rising with health care costs.
    Indirect costs of cyclists’ injuries due to not using helmets are estimated at $2.3 billion each year.
    Helmet use in the US varies greatly in different areas and different sectors of our society. White collar commuters probably reach 80 per cent, while inner city kids and rural kids would be 10 per cent or less. Overall, our best wild guess is probably no more than 25 per cent.

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  • John Lascurettes May 26, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Hart, my blow wasn’t glancing. I landed square on my head after a flip up and then a straight down trajectory – pretty much the 6 ft. drop done in the labs. The helmet did exactly what it was designed to do, absorb the impact in a low speed (13 mph or lower) accident.

    Vance, I wasn’t to the right of the car. I had a green, I had the center of the lane. The driver came from the cross road on my right without stopping at a red and turned right across my path and into the lane I was in.

    But Dave’s right, I digress. This wasn’t supposed to be helmet debate; that said, I will never ride downtown without it.

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  • SkidMark May 26, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Personally I like to get a break from being tailgated and then passed by cars. I actually like bike lanes, except when they are next to parked cars, and I love bike paths like the Springwater Corridor. Having a couple of bike only routes across downtown would be awesome. You guys who like to dice it up with cars all the time don’t have to use it.

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  • wsbob May 26, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    A couple things that strike me about both bike lane designs; the cycle track and the buffered cycle lane, both of which the city has announced plans to construct working experimental versions of: traffic volume and on street parking.

    In editor Maus’s story above and in the PBOT’s enhanced bike lane FAQ that he’s posted in this story, phrases such as ‘traffic analysis’ and ‘modeling’ are used to help explain something of the type of consideration that has gone into determining how the removal of a main traffic lane might effect traffic flow.

    I would think road users might want to know a little more specifically what the models and analysis show regarding how this change might affect their travel on those streets in peak use hours. On the less busy streets, Oak and Stark, this might not be much of a delay, but I really wonder whether this will be true of the Broadway cycle track. It seems like officials should have provide a few more details about this. Are cycle lane design modeling and analysis studies for both of these streets available to the public?

    The other thing is the on street parking. Both designs retain parking on both sides of the street. On-street parking has some compelling reasons for its existence…money for the city, convenience for road users, aid to business. Parked cars take up valuable travel space. If in their analysis and modeling studies, city planners and officials have considered designs that removed parking on at least one side of the street in favor of retaining a main travel lane, I’d think the public would want to know something about that. Whether city officials just aren’t saying, or whether details of what they’ve said haven’t been reported…I’m wondering what the situation is.

    I didn’t mean to derail the bike lane discussion by picking up on Daves comment about bike helmets. I think it’s important though to be careful about letting such comments pass without offering a bit of information to put such comments into perspective.

    And Hart #52…”On the contrary, helmets inhibit your head’s natural tendency turn turn upon impact, that natural way it’s supposed to to protect your brain from internal damage.” It’s the neck, not the brain, that wearing of certain helmet shapes might sustain injury. In a crash, Lance’s fancy Buck Rogers time trial helmet might do that. ‘Round’ is the most advisable helmet shape.

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  • Pj May 27, 2009 at 6:28 am

    Well, er, actually skidmark we do have to use it. Portland bike laws state that if there is a bike lane you have to use it, not the road. That’s My big question, if we don’t like the new stuff can we still ride in the road?

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  • Dave May 27, 2009 at 8:03 am

    It’s actually an Oregon State law (just to be clear).

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  • Dave May 27, 2009 at 8:04 am

    My guess is that there are enough exceptions in that law though, that nobody’s going to get too bent out of shape if you decide to still ride in the automotive traffic lane.

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  • Julian May 27, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    OK – to the vehicular cyclists. By which I mean those who’re militant about “the one true way of cycling”, not folks like myself that ride VC when I’m not carrying my 2 year old on my bike, and when it suits me.

    I do sympathize with your fear that you will eventually be relegated to a bike lane ghetto, even though I think it unlikely. And I would absolutely support eliminating any requirements that bikes stay in bike facilities if available.

    But if “education” in “effective cycling” is all that we need, please show me the Forester cycling ShangriLa where education alone has resulted in bike share the likes of which Amsterdam, Copenhagen, even Portland enjoy. Maybe I’m missing it. But the cities where bikes enjoy ride-share above a piddly 1-2% of hardcore folks like yourself all seem to have substantial investment in smart bike infrastructure.

    Maybe that’s because without encouraging children and newbie adults to take up riding with both real *and* subjective safety improvements, biking in US cities will remain stuck with the current narrow stream of recreational, diehard, poor, and DUI riders. You fear marginalization, but guess what, biking is already marginal in this country. Places where it isn’t have embraced bike infrastructure AND education together.

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  • SkidMark May 27, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Well, er, actually Pj you don’t. You can go one block over and play in traffic.

    I think some of you folks would never be satisfied. The city tries to create bike infrastructure and all you do is bitch that it’s not the right infrastructure. It’s safer than a bike lane right up against parked car doors.

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  • Oliver May 28, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    I use these two streets prolly 4 days out of 5 during the week to get to and from work.

    And try as I might to get out and sample other neat biking infrastructure that’s going in around the city (like new bike parking) during the course of the work-week, commuting makes up 90% of my trips (even if it’s only 30% of mileage)

    Yes I’m concerned about how the turn @ Stark & Front is going to work out but…whatever, that’s what engineers are for. It’s going to be nice that traffic will be only 1 lane up by the businesses around 10th & 11th too.

    I for one am excited. (though not excited enough to quit wearing my lid 😉

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  • Vance Longwell May 31, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    SkidMark #61 – This is a ridiculous position. Roads elsewhere are not part of the argument, and point of fact, if there is a bike-lane present so is the mandate that you use it. NIce mini-strawman though. Nice way to support the demand that the majority submit to the needs of the few.

    “Not the right infrastructure”, can kill people man. People have every right to complain. Furthermore, people who share my position, consider all cycling-specific infrastructure to be a safety-risk, and don’t support any of it, in any form. I, and those who share my position, have every right to complain.

    As far as I’m concerned there is the blood of three innocent cyclists on the hands of first, this blog, second the BTA, and third the city of Portland for even listening to the self-important demands that this deadly crap be strewn all over the city; and in nothing more than an attempt to justify one’s existence as an activist.

    Wise up. Plus, if you’re going to be a smart-allec at least get your facts straight.

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  • Vance Longwell May 31, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    wsboob #56 – My name is Vance, and it’s even printed in front of you. A lot. I’m inclined to believe that you don’t have the first clue what you are talking about. It’s really kool how you’ve re-articulated the article we all just read. Way to add absolutely zero to the conversation. Well, except for disrespecting me, and proving once again there’s no talking sense to helmet nazis.

    You know. I drove a tow-truck for a while with the red-lights. I’ve seen all manner of carnage on public roads in Oregon. Including that caused by intoxicated operators. I participated, as a driver, in a study done by Oregon State Police. The study was a statistic gathering one in which alcohol as a factor was being observed.

    In addition to the officers’ reports, tow drivers charged with cleaning the scene were made officers of the court, and given the task of obtaining study data at the scene of traffic fatalities. Tow truck drivers man. Federal study. If I found an empty alcohol container within a certain distance of an accident, I was to collect it, and log the collection.

    Whether the beer can was a hundred years old, or whether it was in the hands of the driver, or even just the paper label from an old liquor bottle with a little glass still glued to it, ANY alcohol container found at the scene meant the accident went into the statistics as alcohol related. I’ve seen, with my own two eyes blood tox come back completely negative for anything, yet cause-of-accident still gets entered into the Oregon State Police Database as alcohol related accidents.

    People do this kind of garbage when they FEEL something that is counter to reality. People FEEL a great threat from intoxicated motorists, while calculator level statistical analysis will prove otherwise. People seem to FEEL that helmets make them safe. As such they do things like conduct studies with incredibly polluted control subjects and trot out often erroneous statistics in support of their belief.

    Helmets are an important tool. For preventing cuts and bruises. Make ’em heavy enough to actually protect you, and I’ll counter that they’re even more unsafe than what they replaced because of interfering with range of motion, and vision. Wear one, knock yourself out. Advocating others do so, with nothing more than questionable statistics, is just wrong. Further supporting a mandate is just outright insane.

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  • wsbob May 31, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Vance, believe and do whatever you feel is right, in the first case, regarding my thoughts about information made available to explain effects of the buffered cycle lane/cycle tracks, and in the second case, the debatable benefits to wearing a bike helmet.

    Nobody’s forcing you wear a bike helmet, are they? You and poor steve…maybe you’ve both got persecution complexes. I just hope people that are debating with themselves about the benefit they might gain from wearing a bike helmet will take a look at those, as you describe them “…nothing more than questionable statistics…” before they accept your admonition not to wear one.

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  • John Lascurettes August 20, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    So when is this happening? PBOT or some such recently repainted the multi-lane center line on SW Oak (at least between Broadway and 10th). Doesn’t seem like they’re in a hurry to make it happen.

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  • […] ciudad para remover el “miedo real y percibido en los autos” creando vías segregadas como las recientemente instaladas en algunas de sus calles (Nota del traductor: Vías directas, cómodas, seguras, por la calle y no por la vereda. Sólo para […]

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  • Peter Smith November 16, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    good example from Portland of how to take one lane from cars and give it to bikes. from back in May. http://bit.ly/45fJkK

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  • PSW December 6, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I’ve just spent some time running around the net figuring out what these lanes are all about. I ended up driving in one yesterday, and having some irate driver of a car gesture wildly at me. Sorry about that! But these “Bike Only” lanes don’t actually SAY anything about bikes only, or no cars, or anything at all really. The markings are half-assed at best, and wearing away quickly, and there’s really no information on the pavement or on signs. What’s worse, my partner and I heard no announcements of any kind about these lanes. Can you actually drive in them, or are they for bicycles only? Going by the lack of signs and lack of info painted on the pavement, I’d assume it’s ok to drive there.

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