Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 25th, 2009 at 1:35 pm
Willamette Pedestrian Coalition, speaks at the
event this morning.
– More images –
(Photos © J. Maus)
With the summer cycling season in full swing, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and a host of partners kicked of another year of their Eye to Eye safety campaign at a press conference near the Eastbank Esplanade this morning.
The BTA first launched the Eye to Eye effort last August after a string of road rage incidents involving bicycles back in July put Portland traffic relations in a very bad light.
At the event this morning, the BTA passed out free bike bells. Speakers at the press conference included BTA Executive Director Scott Bricker, the new Executive Director of the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition Steph Routh, TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen, and others.
In an interview after the official event, Hansen said they’ve put in “eye to eye training” into their operator curriculum. When asked what exactly that means, Hansen said they make it very clear to all new and existing bus operators that the policy when bikes are present is to not signal. “If there’s a bicycle around,” he explained, “operators are not supposed to signal prior to crossing over [a traffic lane] to service a stop. The idea is that you stop in the traffic lane, then when the bikes have cleared you service the stop.”
Hansen said that when bikes are present and bus operators turn on their signals, it can lead to confusion for everyone.
In addition to the training, Hansen says they’ll continue to run Eye to Eye billboard ads on the sides of their buses and MAX light rail trains.
Hansen also noted that the bikeway improvements through the Rose Quarter Transit Center have been very successful. He chalks that up to “predictability”: “The bikes know where the buses go, and the buses know where the bikes go.”
When asked about U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) attacks on TriMet’s use of federal stimulus dollars to fund new bike parking facilities, Hansen said it’s nothing more than political opportunism. “I’m proud that we used that money to create jobs and to promote sustainable transportation,” he said.
BTA leader Scott Bricker said that the campaign is being funded through the Brett Jarolimek Memorial Fund and that it will include several public outreach events in the coming months. Bricker is also trying to get the Eye to Eye message in front of motor vehicle drivers and hopes that a recent meeting with the Oregon chapter of the American Automobile Association will soon bear fruit. He wants them to feature bike safety ads and a letter from their director in their member magazine.
Learn more about the Eye to Eye campaign at SeeingEyetoEye.org.