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After tragic week, pedestrian advocates call for “immediate response and change”

Posted by on November 6th, 2009 at 8:48 am

“The sheer number of serious collisions between pedestrians and cars this past week demonstrates that our traffic safety deficit is not found in one person’s error.”
— Steph Routh, Director of Willamette Pedestrian Coalition

On Sunday night, two young women were struck by a car while attempting to cross the street at SE 80th and Foster; one was killed and the other seriously injured. Several other traffic incidents in which people on foot were killed or sustained major injuries also occurred in the past week in Oregon.

Portland’s pedestrian advocacy group, the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition (WPC), says these incidents demonstrate an acute need for more investment in complete streets. They plan to hold an awareness action at the site of the fatality on Foster Road to bring attention to this issue. Here are more details on the event:

There will be a quiet safety awareness action along SE Foster Rd near 80th Ave. on Tuesday, 10 November 5:00-6:30pm. If you would like to participate, you are invited to bring a homemade sign that asks everyone to watch out for one another and to share the road safely. Please contact the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition with any questions or comments: steph at wpcwalks dot org.

In Oregon, every corner is a crosswalk.
(Photo © J. Maus)

In a statement released this morning (download PDF here), the WPC also expressed serious concern over the state of infrastructure, safety, and awareness of the needs of people walking through public space and called for “immediate response and change.”:

Funding is essential to improving our region’s pedestrian environment. Entire neighborhoods remain without sidewalks. Pedestrian connections to bus stops and business centers are incomplete or absent in many areas. Additional funding is necessary, and our elected officials need to prioritize transportation that is used by everyone, for everyone is a pedestrian at some point in their day. The recent transportation bill that passed the state legislature, for example, did not raise the minimum spending on bicycle and pedestrian facilities from 1% to 1.5%, which would have been a small but a positive step. Instead, we received earmarks for highway projects. This is recessive and needs to change.

The WPC statement also drew attention to the fact that the number one cause of pedestrian injury in Portland is failure to yield to people in crosswalks. Oregon law states that every corner is a crosswalk and that vehicles must “stop and stay stopped” when a person wants to cross whether the crossing is marked or not.

Pedestrian safety issues don’t usually gain as much attention as bike safety issues do in Portland, even though the number of people killed while walking far outpaces those killed while riding a bike. From 1996 to 2007 there were 130 people killed in traffic while walking versus 29 people killed while biking.

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  • Jonathan Maus November 6, 2009 at 8:49 am

    New blog post: After tragic week, pedestrian advocates call for “immediate response and change” http://bit.ly/4p5WVb

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  • Joseph Rose November 6, 2009 at 8:56 am

    RT @BikePortland: New blog post: After tragic week, pedestrian advocates call for “immediate response and change” http://bit.ly/4p5WVb

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  • Dave November 6, 2009 at 9:03 am

    I think one of the biggest shortfalls of Oregon and Portland specifically is publication and enforcement of laws.

    I don’t think most people have any clue that legally every corner is a crosswalk, and I bet that if someone just walked out into the road at an unmarked crosswalk and got hit, they would be held responsible.

    Similarly, it’s now illegal to drive while talking or texting on your mobile phone, but it seems like 1/3 of drivers I see everyday are still talking on their phones, and I haven’t seen the law publicized anywhere in public, nor have I seen anyone get pulled over for it.

    Speed limits are the same thing. It’s just perfectly normal for everyone to drive 10mph over the speed limit, and I also never see anyone get pulled over for speeding.

    In this particular case, I think there isn’t real clear blame on either the driver or the pedestrians, I think it was a bad situation made much worse by poor infrastructure, street planning, and maintenance – but in general, I see almost no publicizing or enforcement of any traffic laws.

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  • Ian Hopper November 6, 2009 at 9:04 am

    For all my oregon/PDX friends who haven't already seen this: http://tinyurl.com/ycftu6n

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  • Dave November 6, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Except of course police stopping cyclists for carefully coasting through stop signs on 21st and Clinton.

    How about the three cars at every light cycle that run a red going each way at 39th and Powell? I’ve *never* seen one of them stopped.

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  • nuovorecord November 6, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Dave, I think you’re right in that most people really don’t understand the legal definition of “crosswalk”, and more importantly what their responsibilities are regarding people trying to cross the street in crosswalks. We need more education and enforcement!

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  • EarthShare Oregon November 6, 2009 at 9:12 am

    I'll be at this event: RT @BikePortland After tragic week, pedestrian advocates call for “immediate response & change” http://bit.ly/4p5WVb

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  • E November 6, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Last night I was on the bus that goes by where that guy was run over by 2 cars. Every time he dropped someone off along that stretch, the driver would say, “Watch for traffic. They don’t care about you until AFTER they run you over.”


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  • OnTheRoad November 6, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Re: #1

    I don’t think the driving while cell-phoning law takes effect until Jan. 1, 2010.

    The State Legislature also did not take up a bill in the last session that would have allowed peds. to hand-signal their intent to cross a street without stepping off the curb. Currently, you have to step into traffic to telegraph that you are trying to cross.

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  • Dave November 6, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Used to live in Lithuania, and there if you just looked like you might be crossing at a crosswalk, traffic would come to a halt for you. No stepping into the road necessary.

    In China, you can just ride a bike into traffic and cars will stop or do anything they can to make way for you.

    In the Netherlands, the same thing – cars will stop and give you right of way, they will yield for you, and they generally will not do things like fly through crosswalks.

    Why? Because legally the more vulnerable road users are given strong legal protection, and it is enforced.

    Here it’s the exact opposite. What laws we have protecting pedestrians and cyclists often aren’t enforced, many (maybe even most) people don’t even know about them, and most often, benefit of doubt is given the motorist.

    Totally ass-backwards. And we pay the price for it in toll of lives.

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  • Matt Picio November 6, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Dave (#1) – is it illegal? I think that statute takes effect on January 1st.
    and (#2) – I think they’re getting pulled over for not stopping, not for speeding. 😉

    21st and Clinton is a high non-compliance area, and the police also pull over cars that fail to stop. Most of the problem at that intersection, however, is cyclists – the cars mostly fail to stop at 26th and Clinton. 21st has a lot of pedestrians, and cyclists frequently fail to yield to them. If you don’t want to be ticketed, you can always follow the law. BTW, 21st & Clinton isn’t just a stop sign, it’s signalized. The police will always ticket people who run red lights, regardless of conveyance.

    Jonathan, technically a corner is *two* crosswalks. A “T” intersection contains 3 crosswalks, and a “cross” or “X” intersection contains 4.

    And everyone should remember when walking – you’re only protected if you cross in a crosswalk – if you cross midblock and there are no zebra stripes, your insurance company can refuse to pay for your injuries if you’re struck, and the motorist may not be liable. I’m not saying always stick to the law, I’m just saying be aware of the risks when you chose *not* to obey.

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  • Matt Picio November 6, 2009 at 9:32 am

    I’ve heard that in Italy, if you make eye contact with the driver, then you’re responsible for staying out of their way, but if you don’t look, they’re responsible for avoiding you. I don’t know if the person telling me that was telling the truth, but it certainly could explain the driving habits in Rome.


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  • Dave November 6, 2009 at 9:34 am

    @Matt: My point was simply that cyclists (or cars, really) carefully coasting through a stop sign at a quiet intersection like 21st and Clinton should be the least of the police department’s worries. I very rarely see anyone just flying through those kinds of intersections. While police are ticketing people there, they are ignoring people doing much more blatant things on busier roads in much more dangerous situations.

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  • Jeff P November 6, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Just yesterday a bit before 8 a.m., I was inbound on SW 4th and was stopped at a crosswalk – as were the cars in the two adjacent outside lanes. A jeep went past me [actually clipping me with his mirror and folding it back] and the lady IN the marked crosswalk had to literally JUMP backwards to keep from being hit.

    The driver had no clue – be it why the traffic was stopped or the fact that a women was crossing the road in front of him in the visible crosswalk.

    People are in a routine – they are not paying attention on the roads.

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  • Dave November 6, 2009 at 9:38 am

    @Matt: It’s the same way in China, actually. If you make eye contact, it’s basically giving the driver the OK to go. Otherwise, if they hit you, it’s their problem. In China, at least, penalties are stiff enough that drivers will go to pretty great lengths to avoid hitting you.

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  • Kt November 6, 2009 at 9:49 am

    This is where the BTA needs to be working with the WPC. Complete streets are good for everyone.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) November 6, 2009 at 9:52 am

    No one is safe on our streets as long as our culture treats cars as the supreme beings and acts like they are a right and not a privilege.

    A few days ago i came to cross Killingsworth Street at Michigan and noticed an elderly man was trying to cross too. Cars did not stop for him so I pulled my bike right out in front of an oncoming car, pointing out to the person inside that not only was an old man trying to cross the road but that it’s Oregon law that they stop for him.

    the person in the car was all surprised as if they had no idea what was going on. so sad that our streets are ruled by things that can kill anyone of us quite easily.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) November 6, 2009 at 9:57 am

    as for the BTA working with the WPC…

    I think transportation advocacy in this town would be much stronger if we did not have a bike-specific group. that’s what i love about Transportation Alternatives in NYC… they do it all… transit, walking, biking, etc…

    The mission is to tame the streets and make them more comfortable and viable for people, not just cars.

    Perhaps the BTA should consider changing their name and removing “bicycle” from it so they can be a unified voice for all people-powered movement?

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  • SkidMark November 6, 2009 at 10:07 am

    I do find it interesting that when a pedestrian gets killed there is a public call to arms, and when a cyclist gets hit by two drunk drivers and gets killed, that’s just par for the course.

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  • Nick V November 6, 2009 at 10:10 am

    @ Jonathan #13,

    On Killingsworth? Seriously, that took guts on your part.

    One note about crosswalks – I’ve seen both peds and cyclists standing right at the cusp and gabbing on their cell phones with no intention of crossing the street. That tends to throw people off. I’ve been thinking about the two young ladies that were hit and it is a VERY unfortunate event, but I have to think that some of the responsibility falls on their shoulders to be aware of their surroundings and how visible or invisible they might have been.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) November 6, 2009 at 10:11 am


    i think you’ve got that a bit wrong. first, usually in this town when someone has been killed as a pedestrian there is not much of a response. as for the death of Kipp Crawford on Willamette… he wasn’t actually a “cyclist” because police say he was not struck while riding a bicycle… so that one’s a bit confusing and strange.

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  • MeghanH November 6, 2009 at 10:14 am

    As someone who lives a few blocks from this Foster crossing, I will definitely be there Tuesday night.

    It’s time someone pushed back against the automobile dominance that’s been allowed to take over Foster Rd.

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  • Matt Picio November 6, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Dave (#9) – Acknowledged. My point is that coasting through a flashing red light at an intersection like 21st and Clinton is not “careful”.

    I don’t know of many stings at 21st and Clinton. Ladd’s has had about a half dozen in the last 3 years. I agree that the police should have other priorities, but if a cyclist runs a red light and a cop is present, that cyclist is getting pulled over. Stop sign infractions might be ignored, but red light infractions almost never are.

    And honestly, if the cyclist is blowing the light (or stop sign) carefully, they’ll see the police officer and stop before entering the intersection. If they are unable to do so, then it’s not “carefully”. Most of us have an inflated view of our skills and our perception. Neither are as good as we think they are.

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  • chad November 6, 2009 at 10:17 am

    worst not stopping for crosswalk abuse I’ve seen in Portland: NE Marine drive right east of NE 33rd.

    Not only does it have zebra stripes it has big flashing lights and STILL no-one stops.

    What is going on here? Crosswalks for crying out loud…we all learned in elementary school what there for.

    Why have so many motorists forgotten?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) November 6, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Nick V,

    I think it’s interesting that whenever tragic crashes happen we all go back and forth about fault. was it the person in the car or the person on the bike or the person walking?

    yes, often both parties can share some of the fault (in several bike crashes in recent years the person on the bike is found to be intoxicated, a fact that isn’t always widely known).

    However, it’s also very important to think about the fault of our road policies and design. ODOT simply does not put people first when they design/manage streets.

    PBOT wants/tries to put people first but they are severely constrained in doing so by everything from politics to budget to adherence to ridiculous federal guidelines to being overpowered by ODOT themselves.

    it’s a vast and complex issue. it’s a public health epidemic.. but unfortunately it hasn’t been treated like one… and unfortunately I feel it will never be grappled with by people in powerful positions until we all demand our public spaces are no longer ruled by fear of motor vehicles.

    don’t forget.. even in utopian Copenhagen, they were ripping out cycle tracks for cars in the 1970s and the people finally said “Hell no! we want to ride our bikes!” and they kept saying that until their politicians listened and started making changes.

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  • John Lascurettes November 6, 2009 at 10:20 am

    The crosswalk at every corner, marked or not, is the same in law California. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t the same in many if not most states.

    Just this week, I stopped for a family on Knott that was trying to cross the street. The one car that was coming opposite me had already stopped too. I have a very conspicuous hand signal for stop and yet one car whizzed by me from behind. The family entered the street and the second car behind me barely stopped in time.

    Then. A bicyclist says “on your right” and passes me while I’m waiting for the family to clear. For fucking serious?


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  • Vance Longwell November 6, 2009 at 10:28 am

    “No one is safe on our streets as long as our culture treats cars as the supreme beings and acts like they are a right and not a privilege.”

    Maybe overstated just a tad, eh? No? 350 million traffic deaths before quitting time today? It’s pretty rough out there but I’m fairly sure I can prove you wrong by tomorrow morning.

    Do you know that deliberately impeding a car like that is a felony traffic crime? Do you know I can likely make a kidnapping beef stick if your a douche about it? Did that old guy ask you for help, or were you just sticking your nose in his business to mess with said car?

    Ask yourself again where all the bike-hate comes from J. What do you think a first timer in here, a motorist thinking bike type, first-timer? They gonna join up after reading stuff like that? You jumped my a** before about new riders. Can we add hypocrite to self-righteous now?

    Added together these represent a single digit number of injuries amongst how many safe trips those days? Ten thousand? A hundred thousand? A million. You pick. Know what a ratio is? Know how to factor odds? You do the math then and tell me again how, “Nobody is safe until…”.

    Get your agenda off my mode! 25 years I’ve been doing this and I’m gonna die under the wheels of a car directed at the Jonathan Maus’s of the world; and all I ever did was just say, “Stop, enough.”. People are trying to kill me out there Maus. Are you happy?

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  • Dave November 6, 2009 at 10:34 am

    @Vance: I’m pretty sure Jonathan is not the reason drivers drive recklessly. Maybe you should think a little about how helpful making statements like that is. Not only is it damaging to conversation, but it’s diverting the issue.

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  • rixtir November 6, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Dave is right, drivers don’t have a clue that every intersection has crosswalks, whether marked or not.

    And drivers that don’t have a clue about their duties as drivers should not be in possession of a driver’s license.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) November 6, 2009 at 10:38 am

    thanks for that Vance,

    what you’re not seeing are the thousands of people who stay home and drive their cars because they are afraid of the streets.

    and what is your kidnapping comment about? that makes no sense to me, sorry.

    and this site isn’t about having people “join up” to anything.

    fact is, cars have way too much control of our public spaces. they scare and intimidate thousands of people on a daily basis. what is wrong with wanting streets that are more sane and calm for everyone?

    also, you make classic claim that just because I feel cars are too dominant that that means there should be no cars at all.

    the fact is, if we had stronger policies about complete streets and policies that reflected the True Cost of driving, less people would drive. With less people driving, those who still drive would have a much nice experience as well.

    Vance, it’s very clear that you bring a lot of personal issues into your comments.. please keep in mind that this is a space meant for topical discussion, not settling personal issues. Thanks.

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  • martina November 6, 2009 at 10:41 am

    How about having Crosswalk parties all over the city on Tuesday?
    I am going to be at Belmont in front of Zupan’s — a marked crossway that people that people always speed thru…

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  • toddistic November 6, 2009 at 10:44 am


    Real good point, just be quiet and don’t push for change – don’t want to make anyone angry. Don’t try and change the status quo. Stay in line, mind your own business. Screw social responsibility. What a selfish self serving attitude. Oh wait, you’ve been doing it for 25 years – you have way more street cred than anyone else.

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  • SkidMark November 6, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Jonathan, you know what I’m getting at. Every time a cyclist gets killed, the public’s reaction is that they caused it or they shouldn’t be in the road in the first place. We’ve seen it time and time again. Never is the majority public opinion that motorists’ need to pay more attention to their driving, they need to actually SEE cyclists, and that penalties should be tougher for killing cyclists.

    It is a tragedy that a woman was killed and another injured by a car while crossing the street, but I find this interesting:

    “The vehicle was traveling westbound on Foster and witnesses stated that it appeared neither pedestrian saw the vehicle approaching.”

    My mother taught me to look both ways before I cross the street. The law is that motorists have to stop but as a matter of self-preservation I assume that someone driving toward me doesn’t see me. It’s obvious that depending on laws to protect us doesn’t always work. I don’t this makes the motorist any less at fault. I just wish similar laws that pertain to bikes were as rigidly enforced and as accepted by the public.

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  • Cycle Blogs November 6, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Bike Portland: After tragic week, pedestrian advocates call for “immediate response and cha.. http://bit.ly/2MMDhU

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  • SkidMark November 6, 2009 at 10:56 am

    As an example, on the news report about this pedestrian death, the last thing the newscaster spoke about was the potential charges the driver was facing, and on the first news report about the cyclist’s death, before the DUII’s were announced, the last thing the newscaster said was that it was very dark out (an excuse for “not seeing”) while showing footage of the bike on it’s side with it’s taillight blinking.

    I’m talking about public perception Jonathan…

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  • fredlf November 6, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Ironically, I’ve had so many close-calls trying to cross NE MLK at intersections that I cross mid-block for safety. The close-calls always come from people turning right or left who don’t see me (or think to look). When I cross mid-block (illegally) I only have two directions of traffic to worry about.

    Cars so dominate MLK that I purposefully (regretfully) avoid neighborhood businesses that involve crossing it. It’s like having a raging river bisect my neighborhood.

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  • Dan November 6, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Cagerland Nightmares

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  • Vance Longwell November 6, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Change what, for what reason? If the world scares you, ride the effing bus. It’s what they’re there for. I simply do not accept this as a rational fear not because I personally don’t perceive traffic as dangerous; but because I witness, with my own two eyeballs, everysingledayoftheyar, 5, 6, 7, year old CHILDREN enter into to this activity without fear, and with complete and total success.

    If a child can safely do it, want to tell me again what the safety issue is?

    And if you just wanna pull a bunch of cars off the road, then I’m with you. But you tell lies, so I wait for the truth. See, I’m for getting stupid, helpless, fearful, entitled, ninnies off the road. I don’t want them in cars, or on bikes, either one. You would saddle them up, compel them to get in over their head, mess with me, mess with cars, all to accomplish what we both purpose; and could just as easily be pointed at mass-transit, and not this mode.

    The type of people you are talking about bringing onto the streets are what I’m railing against, not their mode. We’ve spent a century trying to get helpless people out of the way of progress. According to you all, we’ve got world class transit. Let. Them. Take. The. Bus. And leave me, and my commute alone.

    I am poor beyond belief. My quickest path to ascending the economic ladder is completely dependent upon paradigms you wish to dismantle. That puts me behind, yet again, because of ideology not born of my hometown, but from somewhere else. That is my only personal issue with you Maus. You move here, and go to advocating arbitrary change, arguably just to have a frickin’ job. You don’t pay, I do. Just like poor people always pay.

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  • Matt Picio November 6, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Sorry, Vance (#23) – impeding traffic is NOT a felony – it is a class D traffic infraction: see ORS 811.130. BTW, the kidnapping charge only applies if you physically restrain someone, unless I’ve wildly misunderstood it.

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  • Madeye November 6, 2009 at 11:09 am

    I agree that the car culture is hurting us all. Our communities would be healthier, happier and safer if more people were out walking and biking instead of driving.

    A most interesting point in Jeff Mapes’ Pedaling Revolution is that The Netherlands actually had on the books that driving a motor vehicle was considered wielding a deadly weapon. Even though it’s been taken off the statutes, the culture is still one that considers a 2-ton hunk of metal a weapon, which in our culture, is, sadly, even more the case.

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  • jacque November 6, 2009 at 11:15 am

    A few years ago some of us were staging “protests” against fast driving (I won’t say speeding anymore… because sometimes driving the limit is too fast).
    We had MANY pedestrians thanking us. That was on Hawthorne, and I don’t know if the ped crossings and lights were installed yet.
    These days I’m always impressed driving down Hawthorne- people drive under the limit and most stop for peds at intersections. Even though it’s a busy thru-street, it is obvious you are traveling IN a neighborhood- with all it’s street life in full view.
    I think the congestion, the crowded sidewalks, the marked crosswalks and the slower speed limit have made Hawthorne much more pleasant.

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  • G.A.R. November 6, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Folks who think that every corner is crosswalk have not studied the law. ORS 801.220 says, “Whenever marked crosswalks have been indicated, such crosswalks and no other shall be deemed lawful across such roadway at that intersection.” This means that while “every intersection has a crosswalk” (from the ODOT ped guide)there are still lots of CORNERS that don’t and–what is really bad–they lack “no ped xing” signage. For example, at the corner of SE 34th and Salmon, a pedestrian on the NW corner does not have the benefit of a crosswalk when crossing either street. This is indefensible, given that there is a K-8 school on the NE corner and many children cross at this corner every day. If there were a pair of “no ped xing” signs at this crossing it would generate a lot of reaction! This law is absurdly complex. We need to change it!

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) November 6, 2009 at 11:24 am


    you’re not reading that correctly.

    i think that snip of language is saying that if the intersection has a marked crosswalk, you must use it.

    it is correct to say that in Oregon “every corner is a crosswalk”.. and if you doubt that, i’ll remind you that PBOT recently put out an education video with that exact title.

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  • peejay November 6, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Yes, Vance, 40,000 deaths a year is OK because so many many more car trips result in nobody getting killed. Now that I understand that, I’ll shut up about it.

    I don’t know what to say to you anymore, Vance. I know you’re not here to make friends, but seriously, what do you gain by commenting here?

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  • Vance Longwell November 6, 2009 at 11:29 am

    M. Picio #34 – Yeah, that’s state. But there is Federal stuff here too. I’ll post a link in a sec. Look I have been charged with what I’m talking about here, and was hoping to omit that.

    Kidnapping can be twisted, and turned a thousand ways. You would know this if you’d been arrested as many times as I have. ‘Free egress’, is the standard. Judges hate that though, and it’s usually pressure to plea deal. I doubt many stretchy type Kidnapping charges see a jury.

    I blocked a truck once to let a little girl cross the highway in Mac, years ago now, while on a motorcycle. A city cop saw me do it. I was charged with two federal crimes. Kidnapping and dispossession of lawful right-of-way. I spent a year on probation for that; and had my license suspended for 7 years. I forget that’s a state highway. May be relevant, IDK.

    See, and this is my point. Popular area bloggers on a nice bike in nice clothes would get a pat on the back for what Maus did. Me, I get jail. Which brings me back to:

    When you are combative with this thing, or overly demanding, or whatever false perception it is that sets the motorheads off, do you think they aim their hostility at pretty young hipster girls on beach-cruisers? Do you think they direct that ire at handsome young bloggers with the Area uniform? No, if they’re gonna blow, they blow on some gnarly looking old-dude like me. The cops, they don’t go after people who can just call BP, get their mug in a post, and sail out of their J-walking ticket. They hit a guy like me that they know full well can’t do sh** about it.

    You show me and my ilk zero sensitivity in this, yet bitch at me ’cause I’m on a bent. I just don’t get you people.

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  • Vance Longwell November 6, 2009 at 11:42 am

    pee-jay – It’s not an either/or proposition. To me those are odds that I can accept, but I can also see clearly why some people would be intimidated. For them I say, ride the bus, get a ride, walk, Segue, I don’t know, and don’t care. I’m more interested in taking care of my own responsibility than I am policing others and theirs. Which I’ve done. I’m a competent, skilled highway user on all modes.

    You seem to feel as though stripping me of my freedom, and my rights, in order to obtain yours, is something I’m just gonna stand for. Which speaks to my motivation for commenting here. Which I do, what, once a month now, maybe?

    If a person wouldn’t cross the street and pi** on me to put out the fire, then how in the heck do you think I’d want to call that person, ‘friend’. You guys say you want more riders out there, but have zero compunction about forcing me off of one. Why would I want that kind of a friend?

    Again. My position is free to the tax-payer, and is servicing tens of thousands of safe trips an hour. Your position leaves us spending a mint, adding piles of complexity to things that have been simplified, and simplified, over the years; and for what? A ripple on a bar-graph?

    If your desires are so moderate why do you not go to more effort to reflect that in the dialogue?

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  • Celeste November 6, 2009 at 11:45 am

    So… are the kids flagging their school crosswalks after/before school committing a Class D infraction because they are purposefully holding up traffic?

    In Utah on busy roads, at the crosswalks, they have buckets with orange flags in them that you can take with you, cross the road and deposit them on the other side.

    I think it would be awesome to have something like that here, but I have have a feeling that there would be a lot of asshats just stealing them to be jerks.

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  • jacque November 6, 2009 at 11:51 am

    I wholeheartedly agree that the push to take back our streets should be coming from the whole community- not just those of us riding bikes.

    I’m so sick of people complaining about turning arguments into “us vs them”. It is not us vs them… it is us vs us!

    There are very few people out there that ride bikes exclusively. Reducing auto traffic, and minimizing it’s detrimental effects is a goal that the city has taken on for all of us, and for a number of reasons… health, peak oil problems lurking in our near future, and global climate change being three big ones.

    Getting more people to ride bikes is one of the ways to accomplish that goal. But it is not the goal itself.

    How many times do we have to hear it? As auto use becomes more expensive and more inconvienient people will choose alternatives.

    I’d put time into any group focused on:
    `city wide reduction in speed limits
    `strict enforcement of speed limits
    `Strict enforcement of reckless driving
    `narrowing of some streets
    `reducing the number of lanes in some streets
    `Reducing number of on street parking spots
    `charging more for parking
    `or anything else that specifically works toward the goal of reducing and slowing down auto traffic.

    None of these things have anything to do with “making room for bikes”.
    But biking would be much improved- as would walking or a game of neighborhood kickball.

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  • GLV November 6, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Vance, you’ve been charged with kidnapping? that’s good to know.

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  • 3-speeder November 6, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Jonathan – I though your “I think transportation advocacy in this town would be much stronger if we did not have a bike-specific group” comment was interesting. I’m not sure if I agree, but I’m also not sure I disagree. If you expanded this idea into an article, I’d be interested in the thoughts of yourself and the commenters.

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  • Brad November 6, 2009 at 12:04 pm


    Why the disparity between pedestrians and cyclists? Perception is reality.

    Do peds stage things like “Critical Mass” or “World Naked Walkfun Stroll”? Do housewives walking three and four abreast on a neighborhood street rotuinely flip the shaft when a car driver asks them to move over? Does the elderly woman waiting to cross look like an angry enviro-warrior or self-important hipster? Do power walkers suddenly just barge into intersections to preserve their momentum? Is there a WalkPortland type blog where walkers gather to bitch and moan about cagers, death machines, polluting bastards, taxing and banning cars, lack of walker only infrastructure and whatnot?

    But cyclists (a small minority for sure)do all of those things and seem to demand attention for it. Right or wrong, we have asked for attention and we have to accept whatever attention we get. While not advocating that we get quiet and compliant, we do have to think about the image we portray.

    Right now, ask most people to describe Portland cyclists and you will likely get:

    Angry rebel
    Zoobomber scofflaw
    Lycra wearing attention ho’
    Lance Wannabe
    Foul mouthed teenager w/ dity bike on MAX
    Scruffy looking weirdo on freak bike
    Smug jerks at coffee shop
    D’bags that don’t pay taxes but want free stuff for their hobby

    All stereotypes. Some truth but stereoypes nonetheless. That is the perception problem we will face for some time to come.

    I’ll also venture that just about everyone who drives also walks. Even if that is from the car to the door across the grocery store parking lot, they have an innate sense of what being a pedestrian is and are more likely to identify with them. Bike rider? Completely alien concept. Couple that with the aforementioned stereotypes and you can begin to see why cyclists are neither understood or particularly tolerated well.

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  • rixtir November 6, 2009 at 12:07 pm


    All the law is saying is that there are “marked” crosswalks and “unmarked” crosswalks.

    Wherever one street with a sidewalk intersects with another (i.e., at corners and intersections), there will always be an extension of the sidewalk (i.e.. a crosswalk) to the other side of the street or intersection.

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  • TTse
    TTse November 6, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Three things.

    One – Enforcement should be aimed at UNMARKED crosswalks. Doing enforcements at marked crosswalks only reinforces the notion that those are the only places where one needs to yield. Get people to yield at unmarked crosswalks and compliance at marked ones will go up.

    Two – It would help greatly if the police would start acting as examples of the required behaviour and yield to peds at unmarked intersections as well. I have noticed NO greater compliance with police officers than I have with the general public.

    Three – I have this idea for a protest/action that would almost certainly get me arrested, but would illustrate the skewed paradigm as it relates to drivers not yielding to peds.

    Imagine that I have a baseball bat held to my side and try to cross at an unmarked intersection. Drivers would of course most often not yield. But if I held up the bat as if I were going to strike the next car that did not yield to me, cars would stop and I would be able to cross. And then of course someone would call the cops because some “crazy person” was threatening cars and I would get arrested.

    But here’s the thing. How is it that a person with baseball bat fending off cars at legal crosswalk would be seen as threatening and anti-social, yet a driver can willingly not yield (and I’ve had enough encounters to know that there is a disturbingly common willful disregard for the law) and it’s viewed as simply par for the course? It’s just the way it is?

    When you get down to it, drivers are threatening pedestrians to stay out of their way. They are wielding a 3,000 lb. “baseball bat” as a weapon of intimidation and no one says a damn thing.

    If there was a gang that roamed the streets acting threatening, and killing the occassional person, so that people reasonably stayed at home, would the police tolerate it because not enough people were gettting hurt? No. But with cars it’s much the same thing. There isn’t a massacre (relatively) of pedestrians because most of them are conditioned to wait until there are no cars. It becomes the dog that didn’t bark. More peds don’t get hit not because the system is working, but because they’ve been forced/trained to accomodate a broken system.

    The use of cars as weapons of intimidation has become so commonplace that few people see it as such. People who would never bump into anyone at a grocery store without saying, “excuse me” will get behind the wheel of a car and not yield ON PURPOSE. I know. I have had the conversations. It is because the law “is stupid” or “the pedestrian should wait” or some other excuse.

    Whatever the justification, it’s still intimidation. Let’s call it what it is.

    Yes the design of our infrastructure is part of the problem, but a lot of it is simply learned behavior that must be challenged and changed. We should start with a major push for enforcements at unmarked crosswalks now.

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  • rixtir November 6, 2009 at 12:10 pm


    Your interpretation of the legality of helping someone across the crosswalk is just plain wrong. It is not a felony to assist somebody across the crosswalk, nor is using your right of way a “kidnapping.”

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  • Matt Picio November 6, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Vance (#40) – No arguments from me. My arguments are based on logic and fact, nothing personal. I’m not apprised on federal law regarding this, and if you have facts that contradict mine, I’m happy to accept them.

    In general, I agree with you that anything which marginalizes bicycles and removes them from the roadway is counterproductive, and a bad thing.

    Jonathan, G.A.R. – I believe Jonathan’s interpretation is correct. Look at 801.450 for the definition of “roadway”. 801.220 applies in situations where the marked crosswalk is not in the “traditional” location. For example – 801.220 says in effect that the crosswalk ends at the edge of the sidewalk furthest from the intersection (the private property line). If a marked crosswalk were placed just beyond that line, then the marked crosswalk would be the only legal one.

    Any attorneys willing to weigh in on that interpretation?

    Vance (#41) – sorry, it’s a nitpick, and this isn’t aimed at you personally, it just drives me nuts.

    segue is when one changes the subject gracefully, usually with a “bridge” topic that relates to both the current topic and the desired one.

    Segway is the motorized product where the operator stands vertically and controls the device by shifting his or her weight.

    Using “segue” instead of “Segway” is like saying “cleanex” or “zerox”. I know it’s bad form to point out spelling and grammar issues online, but there it is.

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  • 3-speeder November 6, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Vance – Every so often, you make a consise insightful comment. And I appreciate these.

    But all too frequently, I see long-winded diatribes punctuated with negativity. I give these about 2 seconds of perusal and then move to the next comment without reading what you wrote.

    My point here is that you have some valuable insight to share, but often your style is highly ineffective in conveying it.

    You and all others who comment here should take a point of view (IMHO) that your goal is to present your opinion to the readers – they will decide on their own whether they agree or not. It is not constructive to try to change any the opinion of any individual commenter(including Jonathan). Blog comments do not make a good medium for holding debates, so please stop trying to make it one.

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  • Vance Longwell November 6, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    3-speeder # 49 – Would it help any to know that most of my digressions are penned through a fog of unshed tears; and with a broken heart? Why, why, why, must you people tie these beautiful little machines to a political ideology? The second that ideology is under attack, so is my bike. Think for Pete’s sake.

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  • Vance Longwell November 6, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Oh, and sorry about the Segue thing Matt. I did not know that so good catch. Really, though, I don’t think that’s going to even touch the ‘pathetic’ meter.

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  • David E Hollingsworth November 6, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Jonathan (@38) & rixtir (@45), please read the text of ORS 801.220 itself, included below. Corners are not mentioned at all, and the “prolongations” described only matter when “no marked crossway exists”. You each appear to believe that this means “exists at that corner” rather than “exists at that intersection”, but my reading matches what it sounds like G.A.R. is saying: if an intersection had marked crosswalks only along the eastern and southern edges, then there is no legal crossing from the northwest corner at that intersection. Have the courts interpreted otherwise? (Note: I’m not saying this is the way it ought to be, I’m trying to understand what the law actually is.)

    The title of a PBOT video has no force of law, of course.

    ORS 810.220: “Crosswalk” means any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere that is distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface of the roadway that conform in design to the standards established for crosswalks under ORS 810.200. Whenever marked crosswalks have been indicated, such crosswalks and no other shall be deemed lawful across such roadway at that intersection. Where no marked crosswalk exists, a crosswalk is that portion of the roadway described in the following:
    (1) Where sidewalks, shoulders or a combination thereof exists, a crosswalk is the portion of a roadway at an intersection, not more than 20 feet in width as measured from the prolongation of the lateral line of the roadway toward the prolongation of the adjacent property line, that is included within:
    (a) The connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks, shoulders or a combination thereof on opposite sides of the street or highway measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traveled roadway; or
    (b) The prolongation of the lateral lines of a sidewalk, shoulder or both, to the sidewalk or shoulder on the opposite side of the street, if the prolongation would meet such sidewalk or shoulder.
    (2) If there is neither sidewalk nor shoulder, a crosswalk is the portion of the roadway at an intersection, measuring not less than six feet in width, that would be included within the prolongation of the lateral lines of the sidewalk, shoulder or both on the opposite side of the street or highway if there were a sidewalk. [1983 c.338 §36]

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  • Mark C November 6, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    As someone who walks, runs, and bikes on a regular basis, I can tell you for a fact that I deal with idiot motorists daily. They are all isolated in their warm, steel cocoons where they they can sip their coffee and yak on the phone. The only way to survive is to constantly expect the unexpected (and stupid).

    Speaking of crosswalks, I live on NE 33rd Avenue, and I have to cross that street (at an intersection) to walk or ride my daughter to school. Because traffic is usually so heavy, we step out into the street once traffic on our side is clear in order to clearly indicate to the motorists coming the other way that we are crossing the street. Invariably, several cars will keep right on going before someone finally stops to let us continue across. It gets really old.

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  • chad November 6, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    this morning I overheard a conversataion between two co-workers about bikes (one co-worker’s SUV had just been hit by a bike (bicyclists fault) last night).

    Although there were no outright inflamitory anit-bike comments from these two big tired SUV driving people, a phrase I heard over and over again, refering to bikes in Portland (and I think this applies to any non-motorist road/crosswalk/sidewalk user in Portland) was “It’s getting out of control”

    I have to say, and I say this as a person who’s family uses bikes or our feet for 90% of trips, that I can see where they’re coming from. It it getting of of control…there are way too many non-car road users using roads that were only designed for use by cars.

    This is of course, on the whole, a good thing that has made the roads safer for every Portlander that leaves their house.

    But we are at a serious crossroads here that I think everybody needs to consider: There is, as a fact, too many non-car users of the antiquated car-based roads of Portland and there is a serious animosity that is growing with the 80% of roadway users that only use cars and only see things from a car-centric point of view. They do not see these problems as the City of Portland having a difficult time keeping up with a rapidly changing mode share, they see this as too many bikes, too many pedestrians, and too many anything that is not a car on the road.

    I know you cannot try to make friends with everybody, but somebody needs to reach out to the car-centric and, without blame or guilt for their chosen transportation, let them know what’s going on.

    They honestly don’t understand, and sometimes I honestly can’t blame them because they have been left in the dark by lack of knowledge and education that should be being provided by our local and state governments.

    There is safety in numbers, but there is also a growing fear because of our numbers.

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  • Carl November 6, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    I don’t know how many times I’ve come back to this little Mercury blog post by Matt Davis:
    At first, it seems ugly and callous, but what he’s saying is that pedestrian fatalities do not resonate with the media or the general public the way bike fatalities do…and that’s a shame.

    Unless the WPC gains media traction with this press release, these pedestrian deaths will be no different.

    Last year, in the city of Portland, no bicyclists were killed but 5 pedestrians died (a “good” year, relatively speaking), but you wouldn’t know it from the tone of the media. Bicyclist deaths, like Austin Miller’s tragic story in Beaverton, got much more play in the Portland news.

    The fact that Jonathan is now covering pedestrian deaths is evidence that perhaps the media wind is beginning to shift and notice these tragedies. Keep up the good work, Steph and WPC. I think you may be getting people’s attention.

    As for asking whether the BTA should be more like TA and focus on bike AND ped issues, that’s an interesting question that should perhaps be applied to bikeportland’s scope as well. The BTA and WPC have shared origins, but the current size and budget of both organizations today certainly illustrates Matt Davis’ point in that blog post: pedestrians don’t get nearly the attention that bicyclists do.

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  • jacque November 6, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    “but somebody needs to reach out to the car-centric and, without blame or guilt for their chosen transportation”

    I’d like to know why we shouldn’t focus guilt and blame on the mostly frivolous and selfish choice to spew burnt fossil fuels into the air we breath and live in… just to get there faster and more conveniently.

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  • rixtir November 6, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    David, #54;

    My reading of that statute is as follows:

    In the situation where you have an intersection of two roads, there would normally be two crosswalks across each road, for a total of four crosswalks. Each of these four crosswalks is an extension of the sidewalk across the intersection, from one side to the other. Regardless of whether the crosswalk is marked or unmarked, there is a crosswalk along each side of a street, across the intersection.

    Where there are two marked crosswalks across a street, both crosswalks are legal crossings. Where there are two unmarked crosswalks across a street, both crosswalks are legal crossings.

    However, where there is a combination of marked and unmarked crosswalks crossing the street at in intersection (i.e., when one side of the intersecting street has a marked crosswalk, and the other side of the intersecting street has an unmarked crosswalk), the marked crosswalk is the only legal crossing.

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  • chad November 6, 2009 at 12:59 pm


    I would like to agree with you but throwing guilt and blame at a person who is driving a 3000+lbs possible weapon puts me, you, and my family at risk.

    I’d love to confront everybody who wastes resources and tell them how wrong they are but nothing, repeat NOTHING is more important to me than making sure my wife and kids make it safely back and forth to school everyday and that I make it back and forth to work everyday in one piece so they have a dad.

    Picking a fight with someone who will win every confrontation with me on the roadway is not just reckless, it goes against self-preservation.

    I love to say I’d happily die for a cause I beleive in (i.e. bicycling), but I’d rather ensure my kids have a dad.

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  • Brad November 6, 2009 at 1:03 pm


    Have you ever heard the old saying, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”?

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  • rixtir November 6, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    It’s been my experience that friends who *think* I’m guilt-tripping them (i.e., even though I’m not guilt-tripping them, they think I am) do not necessarily respond compliantly to what they perceive as guilt-tripping.

    With that in mind, I don’t think total strangers are going to be any more receptive to real guilt-tripping.

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  • Jackattak November 6, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    I live Downtown on PSU Campus and walking is my primary mode of transportation. Biking is second. I sold my truck last year and never looked back.

    I regularly walk through the Park Blocks on my walk to the MAX each M-F morning ~6:45AM. The suburbanite traffic coming into our fair city from BeaverTron on HWY 26 hit Market Street and come BARRELING into Downtown (which is a 20mph zone EVERYWHERE) at ~35mph every morning. By the time I hit Market and Park, where there is a perfectly well-painted crosswalk (not that it should matter) these people are all over the road and never stop for me unless I endanger myself by walking into the crosswalk. I have written Mayor Adams and the PPB several times requesting a sting but have never gotten any reply.

    I have resorted to vigilantism and while I am not proud of that fact, I am happy with the results it has produced. I won’t go into further detail, but let it rest that I’ve left my mark on quite a few of these suburbanite jerk-offs.

    They have zero regard for human life while rolling through my peaceful, beautiful Park Blocks and Downtown area in 4,000-lbs.+ of rolling steel fury.

    People we are SKIN AND BONE. Start acting like it. If you don’t have time in your ridiculously retarded commuter schedule to wait 7-10 secs. for a human being to cross the street, you need to get your head examined.

    You are a guest in our fair city and you should be conducting yourself as such.

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  • rixtir November 6, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Jackattack, I used to be habitually late. No matter what, I was always late, no matter where I went, and commuting was always stressful because I was always late.

    It took a while, but I finally learned the value of leaving earlier.

    People (notice I didn’t say “drivers”) who can’t afford a delay of a few seconds really need to learn that same lesson.

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  • jacque November 6, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Oh yes you can! (If yer going after the fruit flies..:)

    I might have chosen the wrong time/context to say that…

    But it has been increasingly bugging me that we seem to be going out of our way lately to not appear to be anti-car, to not make it us vs them.

    I don’t think fighting ever solves problems.
    Attacking people, and shaming them are two different things.
    I’m not trying to catch anyone, we have a collective problem. I am shamed when I choose to drive. It makes me drive a lot less.
    I can be sympathetic to the resistance to leaving the car at home.
    I can still know that driving is often frivolous and selfish in the big picture.
    Even though I sometimes use a car, I hate car-culture.

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  • Dave November 6, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    I intentionally plan my commute in the morning so that I can ride however purposefully I want (or don’t want), and if everything goes smoothly, I have time to stop, get a coffee, B.S. with the barista for 5 minutes, and then casually head to my office.

    That way, if all doesn’t go well, I’m still on-time, just without coffee 🙂

    In this scenario, it really doesn’t matter to me if I have to wait a minute or two in traffic (other than exhaust fumes), if all the stoplights don’t turn green right as I’m approaching, or if there are pedestrians crossing.

    99.9% of the time I get to work feeling relaxed, rather than stressed.

    Granted, my commute doesn’t involve 45 minutes on a gridlocked freeway to build up my frustration, to be released once I get to the city streets and can move again. I don’t really know what to do about that. It’s a tough problem to get rid of when we’ve made ourselves dependent on that infrastructure.

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  • AaronF November 6, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Jackattack, I am curious as to what results your vigilantism has produced.

    Has “leaving your mark” caused vehicles to start yeilding? I doubt it.

    Please stop.

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  • joe adamski November 6, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    The Foster incident was caused in part by the pedestrians crossing ( in a marked crosswalk) in front of a stopped TriMet bus. The car that struck them was in the left lane, overtaking the stopped bus. The fact that caution was indicated by that situation, and caution apparently did not happen is the cause of one death and one serious injury.
    Whether it is a school bus,( which statute requires one to stop in all lanes for a stopped school bus) a transit bus, or a delivery van, a higher level of care must be exercised when overtaking a vehicle that blocks clear view of the roadway completely across. Whether adding another law to the books,or improved driver awareness is the solution,I can’t say. It does seem apparent that MY need to get to where I want to go trumps the rights of others who use the same road. This sense of entitlement is behind so many conflicts on the road, whether a crash happens,or not. Good luck trying to force that change,attitude wise.

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  • Jackattak November 6, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    @ AaronF,

    The result my unfortunate vigilantism has produced is the keeping of my sanity and the (probably incorrect) notion to myself that the idiot violators know precisely why they’ve been marked (they know when it’s happened and often times look me directly in the eyes) and will hopefully (although improbably) will think twice before violating upon a city they are a guest in again.

    I have noticed a slight decline in violators, yes.

    Why should I stop?

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  • peejay November 6, 2009 at 2:15 pm


    You don’t know f—all about me, and I’m sick of you telling me about all the “freedoms” I want to take away from you.

    I was going to write out a detailed analysis of your strange hodgepodge of libertarian philosophy, and why it doesn’t make sense, but instead, I’ll just say that anyone who believes it’s “kidnapping” to prevent a motorist from striking and perhaps killing a pedestrian in a crosswalk loses the right to have his words taken seriously.

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  • Donna November 6, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    “It would help greatly if the police would start acting as examples of the required behaviour and yield to peds at unmarked intersections as well. I have noticed NO greater compliance with police officers than I have with the general public.”

    That would be great. If a police car stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, I’m pretty sure the approaching motorists would notice that and behave accordingly.

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  • Jackattak November 6, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    @ TTse #48:

    You are my hero. I may just start carrying around a baseball bat (not wielding it, just carrying one, perhaps lying it against my shoulder as if I’m “on deck”) on my morning pedestrian commutes.

    Certainly there are no laws against carrying around a baseball bat? Certainly these drivers who worship their cars so badly would think twice to piss off a pedestrian waiting for (or in) a crosswalk holding a baseball bat?

    I love it.

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  • Esther November 6, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Props to Steph & WPC for the immediate actions they are doing lately. (Plus the ongoing bigger picture advocacy they do.)

    In many cities there are bike & ped alliances – like Walk Oakland Bike Oakland. I think there is ALWAYS a place for bike-specific and ped-specific advocacy, but maybe instead of trying to change the preexisting maybe it’s time for a new advocacy movement altogether? Jonathan…when are you gonna start HumanPoweredPortland.org? 😉

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  • rixtir November 6, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    There are probably no laws against carrying around a baseball bat, but there are laws against brandishing a weapon. Try not to cross that line if you value your freedom.

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  • peejay November 6, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Here’s one way to put it:

    I have a right to the road. You have a right to the road. Everyone has a right to the road. However, we (if licensed) have earned a (revokable) privilege to operate a large, heavy machine on that road. There is no right to drive, and there is certainly no right to drive in a way that intimidates others into ceding their right to the road. I don’t care how used to this condition we are; it does not change the law.

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  • Jackattak November 6, 2009 at 3:14 pm


    That’s all very true. The saddest part of your post is that I, a non-driver (by choice), often times find myself leagues more knowledgeable than most of the drivers on the road that I interact with!

    Education is great if the student is capable.

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  • Phil Hanson November 6, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Abdicating responsibility for one’s own safety is never a good idea. If you don’t value your personal safety, why should anyone else?

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  • peejay November 6, 2009 at 4:08 pm


    because IT’S THE LAW.

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  • Phil Hanson November 6, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    peejay (#78),

    You can read what I have to say about the law–and the people who believe that laws will protect them–on my blog.

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  • Susan November 6, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I’m a cyclist and frequent pedestrian as well as a driver. I’m sure many of us fit this category. I agree that many of our problems stem from putting the almighty automobile on a pedestal. However, we have a pedestrian culture of entitlement as well. Every day, I see people stroll or saunter into the street, crossing at an angle rather than straight across, with complete disregard for traffic. I’m all for pedestrian rights, but responsibility accompanies those rights. Expedite your crossing to the extent possible!

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  • Jackattak November 6, 2009 at 4:44 pm


    Whereas I can feel you on the idiots who cross streets at angles (or not even in a crosswalk/intersection in the first place), regardless of whether or not I’m “sauntering”, speedwalking, or running should make absolutely zero difference to someone in an automobile. The person in the automobile has to do but one thing: STOP. You have no choice in the matter how quickly the pedestrian gets across the street.

    That’s the driver’s problem, not the pedestrian’s. The driver is all ready in the most efficient means of personal local travel we have on Earth today. It is their burden to wait for the pedestrians, who have the right of way in the crosswalk and intersections (in Oregon) at all times unless there is a signal prohibiting the pedestrians to cross (which is jaywalking).

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  • Matt Picio November 6, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    peejay (#70) – You need to read Vance’s original posts again. He didn’t say he believed that blocking a motorist was kidnapping, he said that some people can interpret it that way under federal statutes, and stated that he was the subject of such an interpretation when he blocked a car with his motorcycle.

    David (#54), Rixter (#59) – the statute hinges on the definition of “roadway” (ORS 801.450), which does not mean the street. ‘The street’ is “highway”, and there can be more than one “roadway” on the highway. See post #50 for my interpretation of what that means, or an attorney for a legal interpretation.

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  • rixtir November 6, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Here’s the thing. The woman who was killed, and her friend who was injured, were crossing the street IN THE CROSSWALK. They weren’t jaywalking, or crossing at an angle, or doing anything else that might shift some of the negligence onto them. They were following the law. The driver was not. So why are we having a discussion about law-breaking pedestrians? It reminds me of the same tired comments about “scofflaw cyclists” every time a law-breaking motorist runs down a law-abiding cyclist.

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  • rixtir November 6, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Matt, #82:

    Not quite right.

    “Highway” includes both the “roadway” and the “sidewalk.”

    “Roadway” is the legal term for what we might call a “street” or a “road.”

    The crosswalk is a marked or unmarked extension of the sidewalk across the roadway– aka “the street.”

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  • Doug Klotz November 6, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    I also believe that the city is eliminating legal crosswalks when they mark a crosswalk on only one side of an intersection. An example is the striped crosswalk on the west side of SE 41st and Division. In my reading of the Vehicle Code, this makes crossing on the east side illegal, despite the installation of wheelchair ramps. I argued this with City Traffic Engineer Rob Burchfield, but his interpretation (and therefore the city’s) is that the Vehicle Code does not mean that. Hence, the city continues to install crosswalk striping on only one side of an intersection. I don’t know how to construct a test case for this, though. Would you cross the east side while a cop was present and see if you get a ticket?

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  • Pat Franz November 6, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    It’s simple enough, but not much openly acknowledged: the larger the vehicle you choose to travel in, the bigger the danger you are to others, and the greater your responsibility must be.

    Sure, everybody knows this at some level, but it’s easily forgotten when moving yourself around in something large becomes an everyday thing.

    And it’s compounded by the isolating effects of travelling along in your own little world. It’s especially difficult to realize this when you’re in that little world.

    I would also assert that the more vehicle you travel with, the greater the public space you use, too, further increasing your obligations to your fellow travellers.

    Crosswalks and traffic laws and insurance and gas taxes and general civility are the rather feeble societal counterbalances we’ve created to deal with these things. It’s pretty clear they just plain don’t connect with very many people. The connection between the physical reality, the required actions, and the consequences don’t make sense.

    I don’t pretend to know the solution, but I think it’s got to be along the lines of direct, proportionate, and timely consequences. The Europeans with their laws about vehicle drivers being assumed to be at fault are a step in the right direction, but I don’t think that’s quite it.

    Just thinking out loud here, how about something like 1 day of immediate vehicle confiscation per 100lbs of vehicle + occupants, or basing half the fault calculation on the relative masses involved? Or 30 days of immediate cell phone confiscation if you were on the phone before the collision? Simple. Direct. Memorable. Mostly fair.

    We’re not on horses and buggys. We don’t know all our neighbors. Everyone’s too busy. We need to cut through the distractions and get to the core of traffic safety: the more dangerous vehicle you choose, the bigger the consequences.

    You can also choose to be dangerous beyond that, but by choosing a potentially dangerous tool, you also have to accept the responsibilty.

    I would say the gut reactions of angry pedestrians and cyclists is based on exactly this. And I would say this is a very fair reaction.

    “Vulnerable traffic” is a start, but we’ve got a long way to go, and a lot of hell to raise, before we get to something approaching fair out there.

    I don’t think this is an “us vs them” thing. It’s not picking on anyone. It’s simply acknowledging a very simple thing that’s been swept under the rug. Another “incovenient truth” as it were.

    And time we did something about it.

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  • rixtir November 6, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Doug, the legal problem isn’t getting a ticket for crossing in the unmarked crosswalk. The legal problem is getting hit by a car while crossing in the unmarked crosswalk, and having at least some of the negligence shifted to the pedestrian for “jaywalking.”

    Offhand, I’m not sure that the city doesn’t have authority under the vehicle code to mark only one crossing. If anything, it would seem to me to be a matter of administrative law, and that challenges to the practice would have to be made under the appropriate administrative statutory framework.

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  • SkidMark November 6, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Brad, being that I enjoy some aspects of car culture, I could bring up many subcultures of stereotypical motorists that people like to hate on: Import Racers, Hot Rodders, Lowriders, 4×4/SUV drivers, urban moms driving white Subaru wagons…They often have some of the behavioral issues that some of the different bike culture stereotypes have, namely a sort of lax view of traffic laws. Pedestrians get their share of hate too, if they are homeless they can’t sit down on a sidewalk without getting a ticket, and I think my #1 hazard downtown is jaywalkers in business attire. That’s right arseholes come in all shapes and sizes and get around on foot, on bicycles, and in cars and trucks.

    The specifics you point out about the different subcultures of cycling could only come from the close observation of someone in the know, to the average human they are likely one in the same. I’m not sure why you have such a big stick up your arse about youthful exuberance, or growing up without growing old, but there is definitely a stick.

    Whining about CM is ridiculous at this point, it doesn’t even happen here anymore. And it’s the WORLD Naked Bike Ride, which is hardly unique to Portland. Maybe you are talking about the Cyclist’s perception everywhere, and in that case you are also talking about intolerence everywhere.

    The thing is that there probably isn’t a person alive who doesn’t have a friend, a relative, or a co-worker who isn’t a cyclist. Even if you are not a cyclist you are probably one person away from being directly effected by some jerk hitting a cyclist and killing them, and then spouting some shite about “not seeing” them, and getting off scot-free.

    So from my point of view I still don’t get why cyclists’ get the shite end of the stick.

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  • Stan November 6, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Update. Another person was hit by a car at the same spot on SE Foster.

    PDOT is so frekin clueless, and so in love with cars.


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  • suburban November 7, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Meiying and Jin Lui, Tara E. Stanlick, you are not forgotten.

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  • Elly Blue November 7, 2009 at 8:39 am

    There will be an action Tuesday night to protest traffic deaths, educate, demand funding + infra for ppl not cars http://bit.ly/4p5WVb

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  • Steve B. November 7, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Walking and biking in Portland is better than almost anywhere in the U.S. The city and the *culture* is doing some good things. We need to embrace what works, toss what doesn’t, and really get these complete streets projects funded.

    If I were to pick two things that could be handled more quickly than infrastructure, it would be education and enforcement. The latter could be a tremendous tool in sending the message that Portland has zero tolerance for this sort of dangerous behavior.

    I’d love to see cyclists cited just as motorists for being aggressive, particularly on our MUPs. Along with our stories about cars vs. pedestrians, we need to have an honest discussion about bikes vs. pedestrians. Can anyone even take a peaceful walk along the water anymore without worrying about a bike commuter who doesn’t want to slow down? If we’re heading to 30% mode share, we need to nip this in the butt now.

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  • peejay November 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm


    I followed your link, and guess who I found in the comments section there? Guess who thinks “rights” are being taken away by asking cars to slow down so that people can live in their neighborhoods without high risk of death?

    Oh, and if anyone suggests that the crosswalk should be removed and pedestrians just walk up to 82nd and cross there (like people did at the oregonlive site:

    1) can’t be done according to state law;

    2) go move to the suburbs, where this is the default solution for pedestrian/car conflict avoidance. That is, it’s inherent in the road planning strategy of new subdivisions, shopping centers, “business parks”, and arterial connectors. Nothing is within walking distance, so the problem is solved by discouraging anybody from walking. This is the default design mode for 90% of the country. Why do we need more of that here?

    Yes, it’s two blocks, but that means two blocks up and two back, and that’s for one crossing. Pretty soon it adds up to another person saying: “screw it. I’ll just drive.” Which is what people do in the suburbs.

    These roads are the peoples’ roads! They are not the machines’ roads! You are given conditional privilege to operate your machines on the roads, but that privilege shall never trump the right of all people to access those roads.

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  • SkidMark November 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Out here in SUBURBAN Beaverton and RURAL Aloha, all new construction must have sidewalks and in many cases bike lanes. Also a few of the condo developments that have went up recently have retail space on the lower level. There are two supermarkets within a mile of me, 3 cafes and a hardware store. There is a Trader Joe’s and New Seasons within 3 miles of my house.

    You don’t live in the suburbs peejay and obviously you don’t go there, so stop pretending to know what it’s like out here. It’s no more car-oriented out here than your beloved Portland.

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  • peejay November 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm


    No offense to your neighborhood. I was speaking of the suburbs in general, or, more specifically, newer developer-driven areas, not older suburbs.

    And I do work in the suburbs, and I know of what I speak. My commute takes me past several housing developments set well away from the road on Barnes Road. Yes, there are sidewalks. Yes, there are even bike lanes. No, there is no mixed use. And check out the speeds on Barnes Road. It’s a four lane arterial with average speeds in excess of 50mph, regardless of the posted speed.

    I also travel every day through the intersection of Cornell and Murray, which has just had a yearlong expansion job done to it, requiring the removal of some older buildings so that lanes could be added in all directions. I’m sure the walk signals work at the intersection, but it’s got to be the opposite of what one would call a “complete street.” It’s one of the most unfriendly places to be if you’re not in a car.

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  • rixtir November 7, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    peejay wrote: Guess who thinks “rights” are being taken away by asking cars to slow down so that people can live in their neighborhoods without high risk of death?

    I especially liked the bit where he painted drivers as the victims of vulnerable users. What was it he called drivers? Human speed bumps?

    And here I thought it was the pedestrians who were run down by scofflaw drivers who were the “human speed bumps.”

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  • rixtir November 7, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Oh, my mistake, he’s calling pedestrians human speed bumps. And claiming that the “Church of Green” is using pedestrians as tools to slow cars down.

    You know, instead of just providing pedestrians and cyclists with some infrastructure to help them get where they’re going without getting killed by some idiot who can barely pilot his car without hitting something.

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  • Bret November 7, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    How about looking both ways before crossing and never, ever assume a car is going to stop for you. There have countless times that pedestrians have stepped out in front of me without looking assuming I can see them. I can’t stand that every corner is a crosswalk. Just walk the extra distance to be on the safe side. I guess it is the typical Portlander feeling of entitlement. Just because you are a pedestrian or cyclist doesn’t make you better than someone driving a car. Physics dictates that a car will always win.

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  • rixtir November 7, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Spoken by somebody who has never had a driver look you in the eye and accelerate towards you.

    Or never been in a crosswalk, and had a speeding driver swerve around the driver who stops for you.

    How about learning something about the problems law-abiding pedestrians face before offering your uninformed opinion?

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  • lothar November 7, 2009 at 8:48 pm


    Or drivers should never assume that a ped isn’t going to cross when they have the ped has the right away. It’s called defensive driving. Increasing lacking in this town and getting worse. They didn’t have to “walk any extra distance because the clearly marked crosswalk was right were they were crossing. There have been countless times that I stood at a crosswalk and no one stopped. Must be the typical Portland drivers feeling of entitlement.

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  • Pat Franz November 7, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Sorry, Bret. Change perspective on any one of your statements and see how it feels.

    Entitlement? You really think pedestrians have entitlement? Time to take a look in your rear view mirror. Tilt it so you can see the driver.

    Then think for a change.

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  • wsbob November 7, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    The Fred Meyer north of the 80th-82nd and Foster location is most likely a regular destination for many residents of the huge residential neighborhood south of Foster.

    I like to imagine what kind of increase in business from customers traveling by foot and by bike, Fred Meyer might generate if it actively encouraged these customers to shop at its store. They could do this by encouraging and sponsoring the development of a clearly identifiable, easy and safe to travel bike route from this neighborhood to its store by way of the mid-block crosswalk.

    A first step in that effort might be to have the crosswalk made a signaled crosswalk soon. If it helps to speed that effort along, offer FM naming rights to the crosswalk. We let Pepsi and United Airlines put their name on the Rose Festival for kicking down money…it sure couldn’t be much worse to let Freds have their name on a safe, signaled crosswalk. If Freds wanted to make a gesture of deeply sincere community mindedness, it could name the crosswalk in honor of the people that have been injured and lost lives there.

    82nd & Foster is already a very busy, congested intersection. Though car flow rates are important, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to make that intersection even more congested by compelling a lot more foot and bike traffic to travel up there to cross Foster with a light.

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  • SkidMark November 8, 2009 at 12:06 am

    I don’t know what to tell you peejay. I don’t own a car and I get around Hillsboro, Beaverton, and Aloha just fine. I’ve made the reverse commute to Portland for work, and I truly feel safer cycling out here. I have way more close calls and negative interactions with motorists in Portland than I do out here, which is why I hardly ever go into Portland anymore. My only complaint is that there could be more bike racks. At least I have legal singletrack nearby.

    To get this back on topic when I lived in SE I noticed that stretch of Foster is very dangerous, and so is 82nd. People seem to drive very aggressively on those streets. It’s worse than MLK.

    I really don’t think making cars go slower is the answer. People pay less attention the slower they drive because there is less risk. What’s more dangerous an inattentive driver, or an attentive driver traveling at a higher rate of speed? What will make people start being more careful is stiffer penalties for hitting cylists and pedestrians, especially suspending or even revoking driving priveleges. If someone knew they wouldn’t be able to drive a car ever again if they hit one of us they’d start seeing cyclists.

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  • Bret November 8, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Excuse me, I am a pedestrian as well as a driver. Do any of you drive? I guess I am a bad person for owning and utilizing a car. Have any of you self righteous folks ever been outside of portland? Drivers here are much more considerate than, say, New Yorkers. Get over yourselves.

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  • Doug Klotz November 8, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Rixter: Agreed. By crossing in the unmarked crosswalk when there’s a crosswalk on the other side of the intersection, a walker (in my reading of the code) doesn’t have the Right of Way, so could be at fault if hit.

    I also agree that the city can mark a single crosswalk if they want to. What I don’t like is the city then claims that both are still legal crosswalks. I haven’t figured out how to disabuse them of that notion. (And how perhaps to lead them to marking both walks at such intersections)

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  • peejay November 8, 2009 at 11:46 am


    just because the average PDX driver is better than those of other cities does not mean it’s ok; people are still getting killed after all.

    Most of the people on this site also drive, myself included. And from my own experience, I became a better driver since I started biking regularly. Yet I still catch myself paying less attention than I should while driving. Being in a car does something to people. And it’s not good. The act of driving itself is too passive, too abstracted from one’s environment. If it takes the force of law plus better road design to keep drivers more alert, so be it.

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  • Doug Klotz November 8, 2009 at 11:50 am

    The latest crash makes Tuesday’s WPC event all the more important. Hopefully it will generate publicity and the political will to do something at 80th (and increase the number of enforcement actions throughout the city)

    I hope that the least that will come from these tragedies is that if a signal is deemed the best solution by PBOT, that it will be put at the 80th crosswalk and that ODOT agrees with it, (or if not, over ODOT’s objections). Such a signal obviously would be tied to the light at 82nd. The light at SE 14th and Powell is a similar distance from the light at Milwaukie. Unfortunately, the 14th signal makes walkers wait there as long as they would wait at Milwaukie (up to 2 minutes). Hopefully a signal at 80th could respond more quickly.

    Better for pedestrians is that if drivers actually stopped when a walker stepped out, which is less delay than waiting for any type of signal, but we haven’t seen the enforcement to make that happen.

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  • lothar November 8, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Bret, I drive. In fact I drive quite a bit. But it wasn’t until I spent considerable time on the other side of the dash board that I realized how my driving actions and “habits’ affect and interact with the other right of ways. Portland drivers are considerate, but don’t be fooled that Portland’s population increase is being driven by some home grown baby boom. People moving here bring there driving style and habits with them. Did you bring yours from New York Bret and still refuse to change? I brought mine from the mid west where pedestrian is 3rd class. I had a lot relearn. Are you teachable Bret?

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  • jacque November 8, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    “Better for pedestrians is that if drivers actually stopped when a walker stepped out, which is less delay than waiting for any type of signal…”

    Drivers can’t stop for you if they can’t see you… The posted speed limit usually allows a speed that’s too fast to be able to see peds and to stop in time.

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  • rixtir November 8, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Bret, walking from your front door to your car doesn’t make you a “pedestrian.”

    If you did actually walk to get around, you’d know that it doesn’t take a “pedestrian’s sense of entitlement” to have your life endangered regularly by one of the far-too numerous drivers out there who are too distracted, too aggressive, or too ignorant of the law to justify their possession of a driver’s license. It is they, and not the law-abiding pedestrians and cyclists they endanger, who have the oversized “sense of entitlement. The fact that you can sling your baseless accusations at the victims of these drivers indicates that it is you who need to get over yourself.

    You can start by going for a walk.

    Or a ride.

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  • rixtir November 8, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    As an aside, I experienced–again– the driving “skills” of Portlanders last night while walking to the store. As I was in the crosswalk, half=way across the street on a green light (i.e., I had the right of way), an oncoming driver attempted to turn right, across my right of way. He kept inching forward, then stopping, inching forward, then stopping. He was clearly utterly confused about who had the right of way. I paused and ceded right of way to him so i wouldn’t have to endanger my life any further at the hands of this person whom the state has deemed competent to operate a motor vehicle..

    Right behind him, two drivers were deeply engaged in a road rage incident with each other. Both drivers turned right, through the crosswalk I had just been using.

    I continued on my way.

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  • SkidMark November 8, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Bret, the main reason I am so critical of motorists is because of my experiences driving and riding a motorcycle.

    Not only do I drive but I like old cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Being an auto/motorcycle enthusiast to any degree is frowned upon by many of the cyclists living here and has always been my pet peeve about the Portland bike scene. This attitude does not get people out of cars and onto bikes, it is counter-productive.

    Personally I would take aggressive New York drivers over Oregon and Washington drivers any day of the week. At least they are actually paying attention to the road, trying not to get in a collision that is their fault, rather than lumbering along like they are the only person on the road, not paying attention at all.

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  • 007 November 8, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    The failure of drivers and bicyclists to yield to pedestrians crossing the street needs to be addressed. Every intersection is a crosswalk whether it is marked as one or not. You’d think Portlanders would be more aware of peds but they are as unconscious as everyone else.
    I can not wait until talking on a handheld phone while driving is banned and I hope something is done about people texting while driving — the telltale top of the head showing above the steering wheel — face aimed towards one’s lap, texting.
    I was almost hit last week as a texter, who I thought was slowing to a stop, actually coasted through the stop sign, finally looked up, saw me and slammed on his/her brakes, with a child in the backseat.
    So sorry about these girls. What a shame.

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  • 007 November 9, 2009 at 12:14 am

    NE 33rd is a very good example of the disrespect drivers show pedestrians. I regularly see a large group of school children waiting to cross 33rd at Alameda, just north of Fremont. They could stand there forever and the cars will never stop for them. Only after all the cars have gone by and made their green light, can they cross. It is a disgrace and shows how little children really matter in this society.

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  • EarthShare Oregon November 9, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Join me tomorrow 5-6:30 pm (Tue 11/10) @ SE 80th & Foster. We need to make streets safe for people: http://bit.ly/37Aigu

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  • El Biciclero November 9, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    “I can’t stand that every corner is a crosswalk.”

    I can’t stand that drivers are allowed to run red lights if they are making a right turn. So what? The law is what it is.

    “Just walk the extra distance to be on the safe side.”

    The extra distance to where? The next corner with unmarked crosswalks? How far out of the way should a pedestrian be expected to go to cater to drivers’ need for speed?

    “I guess it is the typical Portlander feeling of entitlement. Just because you are a pedestrian or cyclist doesn’t make you better than someone driving a car. Physics dictates that a car will always win.”

    Talk about something I can’t stand! No, walking doesn’t make anyone “better than” someone driving, it makes them more vulnerable. Stating that “physics dictates that a car will always win…” reveals your own attitude of entitlement to the roadway as a driver. “Stay out of this sandbox if you know what’s good for you–or the bullies will beat you up.”

    We (yes, I drive frequently) have to recognize that the privilege of operating a huge piece of destructive machinery comes with a responsibility to do so in such a way as to not needlessly endanger others. Being in a hurry does not constitute a need to endanger anyone.

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  • Reed Alumni Office November 10, 2009 at 10:44 am

    RT @ellyblue: an action tonight to protest recent traffic deaths, educate, demand funding + infra for ppl not cars http://bit.ly/4p5WVb

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  • Bike Temple November 10, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Pedestrian safety action this evening, 5-6:30 at 80th and Foster. http://bit.ly/2bILnL

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