Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

A tragic lesson in sharing the path from Dallas, Texas

Posted by on October 5th, 2010 at 9:59 am

Sign on the Eastbank Esplanade
near the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland.
(File photos © J. Maus)

I came across a story this morning that I feel has important lessons for multi-use path users here in Portland and beyond. A woman has died after being hit by someone riding a bike on the Katy Trail outside of Dallas, Texas.

Here’s how the collision occurred, according to a local TV report:

According to police reports, 28-year-old Lauren Huddleston abruptly turned left just as a woman on a bike tried to pass her.

Witnesses told police Huddleston had been wearing headphones and likely didn’t hear the bicyclist.

PDOT, BTA bell giveaway on the Esplanade

Sign placed on the Esplanade
during a 2007 “Share the Path”
event organized by the BTA and PBOT.

Huddleston sustained head injuries in the collision and died in a hospital a week later.

Portland has several popular multi-use paths full of people jogging and riding bikes and the issue of sharing the path has come up before. Thankfully, we have yet to experience a fatal collision, but as anyone who has used the Eastbank Esplanade or the Springwater Corridor Trail can attest, the potential is certainly there.

The story from Dallas is particularly interesting because it brings up behaviors from both parties that are worth noting. First, wearing headphones while jogging or biking is not a good idea, yet it happens all the time (coincidentally, I was thinking about it for this week’s “Ask BikePortland” column). And second, when passing another path user, it is the responsibility of the person passing to expect the unexpected and to be traveling at a speed slow enough to react if necessary.

Detail from a brochure
created by PBOT in 2007.

This issue of sharing the path is one where the City of Portland has taken a proactive approach. They’ve been quiet about it lately, but back in 2007, the City’s Transportation Options Division held an event and even created a brochure to promote path courtesy.

One final thought on this issue that doesn’t always get the attention I feel it deserves. Yes, it’s important for path users to share, but the larger issue here is that there are simply not enough non-motorized corridors. Off-street paths like the Katy Trail, and the Springwater and Esplanade are great, but they are too few and far between as increasing amounts of people look to use them for both recreation and transportation. Besides a call for more courtesy, we simply need more trails to adequately serve the non-motorized population. And, as someone pointed out in the comments below, when we do build new non-motorized corridors, we need to push for wide facilities and separation like they have in Vancouver, BC (photos below from my trip there a few years ago).

Vancouver BC-City Ride-4.jpg

Vancouver BC-City Ride-3.jpg

Be courteous out there folks — even while on off-highway paths and trails. As this story from Dallas shows us, a bike can be just as deadly as a car.

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  • Bjorn October 5, 2010 at 10:14 am

    The article fails to mention the jogger’s lack of a helmet. Nearly 100% of deaths in bike vs ped accidents are caused by head injuries, far higher than the percentage of cyclist deaths…shouldn’t we place the blame firmly on the helmetless pedestrian? After all it was her choice to run without a helmet wasn’t it?

    Think about it the next time someone does the same with a cyclist hit by a car.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 5, 2010 at 10:21 am


      You can place the blame with whomever you see fit. I didn’t post this to try and figure out what was at fault. The bigger issue here for me is that too many people do not take path courtesy seriously — I see it all the time when I’m on the Esplanade and the Springwater. The problem I see is that these paths have conflicting, dual uses. Tourists and people doing fitness activities are in a different safety awareness space than people who are rushing home or to work. Again, I think the big picture is that there is an inadequate amount of non-motorized facilities and the supply has not kept up with the demand.

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  • cycler October 5, 2010 at 10:14 am

    I read the comments on the Dallas paper’s website, and there were at least two accounts of pedestrians who had been passed by that biker immediately before the accident, and both accounts said that the biker was audibly signaling, and going at a reasonable speed and in control.
    I ride on a MUP a lot, and this is my worst nightmare- people with headphones, zoned out and not hearing my bell or my calling out. In this case the pedestrian died, but it could almost as easily have been the biker who was injured by falling while trying to avoid the collision.

    On a rutted, narrow path, sometimes there’s just not enough space to pass with enough space to allow for every possible pedestrian action.
    When I was a racing runner, I learned pretty quickly to shoulder check before passing or moving out of line in a pack, and I think it’s a good habit for all runners or other pedestrians to learn when they use a crowded MUP.

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  • Jeff October 5, 2010 at 10:17 am

    I see cyclists and joggers practically brushing the shoulders of peds. All it takes is for one of these peds to take a half a step in a different direction and you get a pretty serious collision that wouldn’t be very pretty for either person.

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  • Rob October 5, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Sad story. It’s definitely something that could happen around here (I’m thinking of the Springwater trail), but I think a bigger risk is that one of these days there may be a fatality on the Hawthorne Bridge as someone gets shoved out into the roadway.

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  • Allan October 5, 2010 at 10:27 am

    My mom broke her arm in a very similar accident. she was walking along and just decided to turn off the path (not at a trail intersection) without noticing a biker passing her. The biker had a broken collarbone. I tend to place the fault on the pedestrian… however they are just being oblivious, not thinking of the path as a transportation corridor where bikes are trying to make time.

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  • Adam October 5, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I wish Portland would go down the path (literally, ha) that cities like Vancouver, BC have adopted, of constructing SEPARATE bike and ped lanes for their multi-use paths. Like this!


    Even the new sections of multi-use path that are being constructed right now here in Portland still dump bikes & peds together.

    Recipe for disaster as more and more people out there choose to bike and walk 🙁

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  • Stephanie
    Stephanie October 5, 2010 at 10:40 am

    I ride down the esplanade everyday to work. Last summer as I was on my way home on a new road bike a pedestrian suddenly turned left in front of me. I had a second to react so he did not end up falling over but my wheel made contact with his leg and my chain popped off. We were both a bit shaken up and some people who witnessed it said he should have been paying more attention. I think we are all guilty of lapses in awareness from day to day. This story is a good reminder that life is fragile. Speed should not have a higher value than human safety.

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  • peejay October 5, 2010 at 10:42 am

    This is a new twist to the “divide and conquer” strategy, except it’s ” combine and conquer”, or more accurately, “cram together and conquer”. Too many divergent needs and speeds on too small a space. MUPs are not a long term solution.

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  • Greg October 5, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Multi-Use paths are nice for recreational use. The problem is that they are also designed to function as commuter highways. As a recreational user, I don’t mind slowing down and toodling along behind tourists or groups of chatty Cathies until it’s safe to pass. However, as a commuter, I have a schedule and am moving from point A to point B as quickly as possible. As more people transition to using the bicycle as transportation, this conflict will grow.

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  • pdxthinker October 5, 2010 at 10:47 am

    What a tragedy, thank you Jonathon for posting this and giving our bike community thought for caution again. I agree that there are not enough non motorized routes in town–ideally pedestrians and bikes would have their own lanes as seen in European Boulevard sidewalks.

    I find Bjorn’s and Allan’s remarks bordering on the offensive. Joggers and pedestrians should wear helmets?? And “tend to place the fault on the pedestrian… however they are just being oblivious, not thinking of the path as a transportation corridor where bikes are trying to make time.” sounds like an what a car driver could say about bikes. Come on, the mode of transportation that is faster and physically more durable(metal versus flesh) must watch out for and yield to those less so. Isn’t this the continual argument against cars???

    The hierarchy absolutely is pedestrians > bikers > cars. And of course everyone should be defensive.

    Bottom line is NO ONE should die because they are hit by a bike.

    By the way, if this occured on a shared trail, and there are near misses on Springwater and the Esplanade all the time, how can any cyclist ever suggest that trails in Forest Park should be shared?

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  • Doug October 5, 2010 at 10:50 am

    I’m an early morning rider — from San Francisco to Marin County…I frequently encounter a similar problem: Cyclists with EXTREMELY bright lights on the bike path. So bright, in fact, that it’s nearly impossible to see the joggers right in front of you when the LiteBrites are passing you in the opposite direction. Drivers typically get the ‘high beam’ thing, why not cyclists?

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  • michael downes October 5, 2010 at 10:52 am

    The simple fact is that however much we champion our city and its vaunted bicycle network it is merely a band aid ineptly applied (check the Morrison Bridge bike path fiasco) and it looks like amateur hour compared to many cities around the world . This is not to knock PBOT who do a great job by American standards, it’s just that American standards are very low. The system is evidently bulging at the seams through overuse and an accident similar to that which happened in Dallas will happen here…..guaranteed.

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  • middle of the road guy October 5, 2010 at 10:54 am


    the rules governing travel on a roadway are different than those on a multi-use path. And a walker is NEVER considered a vehicle. Walking/jogging speeds seldom create the kind of momentum needed for a fatal head injury. Getting hit by a moving object does…..as does crashing while in a moving vehicle.

    So the pedestrian is at fault for her head injury, but it a cyclist gets hit by a car (helmet or not) it’s the car’s fault. At what point does the cyclist ever have any responsibility/liability?

    I’m not saying the ped is guiltless – they should have looked ove their shoulder. but the cyclist should have been aware to the more vulnerable person and takent he reposonsibility to avoid such an accident. After all, that’s exactly the same argument people on this board use when referring to autos.

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  • Jim Hunt October 5, 2010 at 10:54 am

    It appears from the article, that the trail only has signs directed to the bicyclist.

    Unfortunately, until there are signs directing the pedestrian to look back before crossing the problem will continue.

    As a cyclist, we do not have the swift lateral motion needed to avoid a pedestrian that serves in front of us.

    While bicycle etiquette is a factor in some situations, pedestrians on a multi-use trail – need to look back and check for cyclists, joggers, roller-skaters etc before crossing the trail.

    This helpful sign should be a fairly easy to design and install.

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  • Spiffy October 5, 2010 at 10:55 am

    And second, when passing another path user, it is the responsibility of the person passing to expect the unexpected and to be traveling at a speed slow enough to react if necessary.

    I have to disagree here… it’s your responsibility to avoid everything you can in front of you… but a slow enough speed to react to somebody stepping in front of you is stopped… that’s why it’s not your fault when people jump in front of you without allowing you time to react, there is no time…

    every pedestrian on a multi-use trail should know that there are other people on the trail that may go faster than them in some form… if they don’t then they’re the typical inconsiderate type and they will be mowed down by faster walkers, joggers, and bicycles when they’re sidestepping without looking…

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  • Oliver October 5, 2010 at 11:00 am


    I was kind of surprised about a year ago when I noticed my tendency to look over my shoulder (which has become second nature) and even hand-signal direction changes while walking.

    As if that would ever catch on.

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  • OnTheRoad October 5, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Greg, (#10)

    Good points re: commuting vs. recreating.

    But then there are the in-training cyclists using the MUP who are often going way faster than a commuter. They are dangerous not only to walkers but to other bicyclers.

    The training cyclists need to be on surface streets where their speeds are closer to auto traffic than they are to users of the MUP.

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  • SilkySlim October 5, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Jim – all those photos/brochures are from here in Portland!

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  • jeff, the first October 5, 2010 at 11:04 am

    i avoid mups for precisely this reason, especially in nice weather. if i must, i barely go faster than a pedestrian.

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  • resopmok October 5, 2010 at 11:06 am

    The reason this issue isn’t discussed more is because really it’s a non-issue – these types of accidents are just not very common. So long as bikes and pedestrians are going to be mixed together, though, they will be unavoidable. Some people are oblivious, some people know exactly what they are doing and are rude, and do whatever they want whether it endangers others or not. We can’t really do anything to change those people’s behaviors, so we must each one of us be prepared to change our own behaviors instead. As with sharing the road, where cars retain the responsibility of safety for their damage potential, bikes must take responsibility on MUPs to be as, if not more, vigilant than pedestrians in our respective quests for safety. Even in the cases of less mass (light rider on a light bike vs big, tall, lumbering pedestrian), the momentum of the moving bicycle will transmit considerable force into another object on collision and could cause serious harm. Try to keep that in mind when you are passing – slow down, give warning and pass with as wide a berth as you can. If it isn’t safe to pass, e.g., when there is oncoming traffic, don’t try to squeeze through just because you fit. Wait for traffic to clear, announce your pass, and then do so cautiously. If all this slows you down too much, find a route on surface streets where you can cut it up with some cars and have it be your own safety at risk due to your impatience.

    /rant off

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  • Nick V October 5, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Adam #7 is spot on about Vancouver’s separate non-motorized paths. That city is amazing. Personally, I jog with an iPod around 50% of the time and my cycling has taught me to keep the volume low and keep my eyes open.

    I think that for some reason more and more Portlanders have a sense of entitlement that tells them it’s okay for their dogs, leashed or unleashed, to haphazardly dart all over a path and they themselves can block the entire width just to have a conversation with one other fellow walker, jogger, loiter, or whatever.

    I think both parties in Dallas share the blame. There are OTHERS in our world (the nerve of them!) and some people forget that.

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  • Rick in Sac October 5, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I’m completely with pdxthinker: inasmuch as I’m quick to anger when I’m buzzed by a car, I’m equally upset when I see a bike buzz a pedestrian; it’s completely unsafe to pass someone on foot too closely at regular speed, because you can’t assume they’ll do the right thing–you know, just like we get angry when cars do the same thing to us! How can we demand that cars respect us by giving us proper space–and occasionally cut us some slack for our mistakes–if we don’t do the same for pedestrians?

    I know the infrastructure isn’t close to being perfect, but in the meantime, can we stop treating human beings like slalom poles in a ski race?

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  • Erik October 5, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Is there a speed limit on the Sellwater corridor? If I’m training at 25-30 mph am I just being potentially inconsiderate/dangerous or is it actually illegal?

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  • BURR October 5, 2010 at 11:17 am

    1. I don’t even bother trying to communicate anymore with the joggers and cyclists I pass who are wearing earphones, it’s pointless.

    2. The Esplanade and Springwater trails were underdesigned right from the start, they need to be wider to accomodate all the users.

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  • DerosaBill October 5, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I struck a ped about 6 years ago on the Esplanade between the Hawthorne Bridge and OMSI. I was going about 10 mph and had plenty of room to the guy’s left. I called out an “on your left”, but just as I came upon him he finished his jogging circuit and made a quick buttonhook right into me. Both of us were hurt and pretty shaken up. My helmet was egg-shelled and he ended up with a pretty good knot on his head. He hadn’t heard my warning because of his ear-buds. I was lucky to learn a lesson early in my bicycle commuting career. Always consider the surprise move. Can you stop/avoid in time?

    I changed my riding habits since that day, knowing I want to keep doing it for many years. I cringe every time I see someone fly by me in front of OMSI with kids running around and tourists wandering oblivious. Slow down and be careful for you and them.

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  • Tacoma October 5, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I took your comment with a certain amount of intended sarcasm and trust that your tongue is planted firmly in your cheek. I hope this is the case. Jonathan’s reply was spot on that there is a larger issue here and I believe you understand that and are just trying to make a totally different point through irony.

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  • DNF October 5, 2010 at 11:38 am

    OK, this allows me to bring up my one of my pet peeves. If you are on a bike, and you want to signal with a bell or an “on your left” – you need to give plenty of time for the pedestrian to react. Almost all the time, bicyclists will ring/call out when they’re about ten feet or less which, unless the bike is going unusually slowly, is not nearly enough time for the pedestrian to do anything at all (except maybe get startled). Don’t believe me? Just try walking across the Hawthorne bridge during rush hour and see how quickly you can react.

    1.5 seconds is the typical number that’s used in these situations, so if you’re traveling at a moderate 10mph (14.7 ft/sec) you need to sound out no later than 22 feet away, but if someone is engaged in something else like talking to someone, you need to add even more time/distance.

    Me, when I’m passing pedestrians, I actually don’t call out while riding quickly. I either give a very wide berth (at least five feet, better yet ten) or slow the heck down so I’m not going much faster than the pedestrian and let them know in a normal voice (not a yell, which is likely to startle and make them more likely to do something unexpected) that I’ll be passing and give them plenty of time to react.

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  • Paul Manson October 5, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Two comments – the first is on design. The Sullivan’s Gulch Trail Committee has been thinking about this. Our ideal is a facility that separates cyclists from walkers, wheelers and others. The reason being we see the trail as a transportation facility first and foremost. Higher speeds for cycling will make for a more effective long commute. The challenge is getting the funding to pay for the extra space needed to do this.

    The second comment is more personal. I jog, with earbuds, on the waterfront loop regularly. I think a little extra common sense is needed for all. I personally check my blind spot when running both before passing and just periodically to be aware of cyclists. Its easy to do and keeps me from being startled by the silent pass. I try to stick to the far right too – some walkers and runners seem to meander in the middle, no need to do that for no reason.

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  • cyclist October 5, 2010 at 11:41 am

    resopmok #21: I couldn’t agree more, especially with the first sentiment. Bike Portland seems to be a clearinghouse for every bike-related accident that occurs in the city (and apparently even those that occur outside of the city). While I know he’s just trying to raise issues, he’s inadvertently making cycling seem much more dangerous than it really is.

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  • Bjorn October 5, 2010 at 11:41 am

    @27 yeah the point was that no one in the media would blame a jogger for not having a helmet on even though basically 100% of the time that pedestrians die when hit by bikes it is due to a head injury. When cyclists are killed by cars the odds of being saved by a helmet are much lower, yet news outlets insist upon the no helmet comment even in cases where it is clear that the fatal injury was not head related.

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  • ME 2 October 5, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Sadly these accidents can’t be avoided in rare instances, especially with ever popular MUPs. My brother went through a painful recovery and several thousand dollars of dental work after he collided while jogging with a pedestrian who suddenly veered into his path.

    He is in Van, BC and one of the things they’ve done there in Stanley Park is segregate lanes for bikes and peds. Are there any other MUPs out there that do this?

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  • dan October 5, 2010 at 11:47 am

    The same rules should apply as when skiing: the downhill (in this case “ahead of you”) trail user has the right of way, it is your responsibility to avoid them.

    I give pedestrians a wide berth both out of courtesy and for safety. I’ve walked across the Hawthorne enough to know that it’s no fun to get buzzed even at relatively slow speeds (15 mph or so).

    On a side note, what kind of injuries does a cyclist typically experience when hitting a pedestrian? I’d imagine that you could get hurt just as badly as whoever you run into — is that not the case?

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  • Eric In Seattle October 5, 2010 at 11:52 am

    @Erik (#24)–not sure about the legal issue, but man, why on earth would you go 25-30 mph on a shared path? It’s like the folks who drive 45mph on a residential street. Most of the time no one gets hurt, but it seems like a recipe for disaster. Surely there are other places for you to train.

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  • spare_wheel October 5, 2010 at 11:53 am

    We desperately need signs warning pedestrians to look for bicycles on the hawthorne bridge. Tourists and out of towners often act in dangerous and unpredictable manner on this path. I believe the cycling speed limit should be lowered from 15 mph to 10 mph on the Hawthorne bridge. This article has inspired me to make a permanent switch to the Morrison.

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  • BURR October 5, 2010 at 11:58 am

    the best and least stressful way to walk on these MUPs is on the left, facing the oncoming bike traffic, rather than on the right.

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  • davemess October 5, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    thinker, I think the analogy to cars is kind of useless, as I’m am confident most people would blame the cyclist, if a car was passing us and we (without looking) just turned right in front of the car. In this situation it is the cyclists fault, much like in the article’s situation it is the pedestrian’s fault (esp. since it seems pretty clear the cyclist was vocally signally when passing peds.)

    And trail sharing can work in Northern FP, where there is a whooping 1-5 pedestrians/hr. on the wildwood. That is not exactly the same density of users as on the Eastbank Esplanade.

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  • Steve B. October 5, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    This is a very sad story. There’s no question that Portland’s pathways could use more striping, signage, and enforcement to keep people well-behaved.

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  • h October 5, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    dont forget about hh and deaf out there. they are usually not be able to hear your yelling, braying, yowling, howling, ringing, honking whatever, so always be prepared! to slow down and pass safely. We never mean to be rude. 🙂 People with kids and dogs, watch out for them also…

    Where people are there, slow down please.

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  • Joe Rowe October 5, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Very sad. A death is rare, far more common is minor injury. People who wear earbuds on a public way are just pain self centered.

    Their entertainment is paramount to the safety of others. They don’t get it.

    A cyclist recently squeezed between a car and my bike on the Williams bike lane. He was rushing to the stoplight where we sat together for 20 seconds. I asked him a question, and he took off his buds and said “what?” I asked if he cares about putting my safety at risk. 2 blocks later he nearly got run down by an Ambulance he could not hear.

    Had he died, the folks at his memorial would have said he was such a “nice guy” and sued somebody else.

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  • Van October 5, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I’ve had plenty of near misses on the Springwater especially now that it is starting to get darker. I’d say that 90% of joggers have something in their ears and can’t hear my signals when I pass them so I have to ride defensively and expect the unexpected.

    Another factor is that many joggers on the Springwater trail near oaks bottom have no reflective clothing or even lights on them in the darker months and I’ve suddenly come up upon them multiple times. Brighter lights on my bike help.

    There is no way really to get around this other than to ride carefully especially when children or dogs are using the path.

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  • Ben October 5, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Add Leif Ericson to that list of shared paths with numerous potential sources of problems…. too fast cyclists, blind corners, dogs off leash, long leashes, head phones, unpredictable children, people spread across the trail etc…

    As wide as that trail is, I had to leave the trail on my bike as a group of oncoming runners were taking the whole width of the trail and were clearly taking the whole bike yeild to peds things a little too serious. There were 10 of them (college cross country team?) and seemed to be looking for a little confrontation.

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  • cyclist October 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Van #41: I learned a couple years ago that REAL lights (not just “be seen” lights) are necessary on the Springwater. Not only do the joggers and peds wear dark clothing, but you’ll get at least a couple of cyclists with no lights at all. I had a near-miss with a cyclist that I couldn’t see until it was almost too late. After that I bought a light that was bright enough for me to see way out in front of me and have felt much safer for it; the piece of mind was well worth the money I paid.

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  • wsbob October 5, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Not so long ago, a woman was killed when a cyclist collided with her on a recreational trail up in Washington.

    Elderly Renton woman hit by bike rider on Cedar River Trail identified/By DEAN RADFORD/Renton Reporter Editor/Apr 19 2010

    There was a lot of discussion about this collision at bikeforums (haven’t so far been able to locate the thread). More stories were written about this collision than the one I posted the link for. Here’s a link to one that tells who this person was (note the sidebar listing other Renton Reporter related stories):

    Velda Mapelli was vibrant and a downhill skier/Renton Reporter/May 13 2010

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  • Ethan October 5, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    When bicycles are looked at as recreational devices, the conflict issues around these paths are a clearcut case of courtesy.

    However, the truth is that bikes are actually a real mode of transportation, and while it may be convenient to make a path and call it “multi-use”, the reality is that this is combining a sidewalk with what is essentially a bike freeway. Real bikeways (of whatever form) for actual transportation should not have such a fundamental conflict built-in.

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  • soggy October 5, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I like to make little jingles and beats with my bell as I ride through the congested waterfront path from downtown to the steel bridge. Actually sometimes I do it wherever I am just because I’m kinda fidgety.

    However, I have run into a bit of a limit with my creative ability/thumb maneuverability on the lever but unless I’m riding with my wife, I don’t think anyone else notices my lack of repertoire. Sometimes she messes with me about it but she’s not the one bustin’ out some dope cuts on her bike bell. And some afternoons I have a breakthrough and all the sudden create a new beat or a funky addition to my current beats.

    I’m looking forward to winter time when my paths are very nearly empty or at least the people out there (both seasoned joggers and bikers) seem to be more understanding of the ways of the path.

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  • steve October 5, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Around 60 people per year are killed by lightning strikes.

    I can not even find a statistic for pedestrian fatalities by bicycle.

    This type of thing is so freakishly rare, that I am astounded we are even discussing it.

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  • Psyfalcon October 5, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Dan, 33.

    I disagree with treating it like a ski slope. While skiing, “swerving” is the main way to control your speed. Therefore, it is expected. I have seen traversing spelled out as an exception too on some occasions – sudden moves to cross a trail rather than in the process of a normal ski turn.

    Even then, most people give a quick uphill look during their turns because right of way or not, getting hit hurts.

    The issue is really a matter of awareness. That means looking before you move suddenly across a trail or mup. As much as cyclists should slow down, and proceed carefully (the “its my commute, and I need to be somewhere” sounds too much like car drivers) it does not always happen. You can not always trust other people to keep your safety in mind, either as a cyclist or as a pedestrian.

    Pedestrians should pay attention, and bikes should try and expect sudden movement. If its dark, bring enough lighting to see unlit people.

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  • Jim Lee October 5, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Here is a strange one:

    Yesterday afternoon I was cruising south on the 205 MUP at 10 mph enroute to an appointment at Kaiser. About 500 feet ahead four teenagers, walking towards me, were hassling a couple of grade school kids. “This could be trouble,” I thought. I sped up to 15 mph, to get past as quickly as possible.

    The yellow KHS track fixie now is set up for cross, with 26 inch wheels, knobbies, 60 inch gear: wicked acceleration, extremely agile; closest thing to a fighter jet available to the public.

    It was trouble. 50 feet to the quartet a young woman jumped into the right lane, feet spread, arms wide, facing me and daring me. At 20 feet per second I had not much time to think. Last year I had witnessed a purse-snatching by a young woman not far away, and TriMet has been reporting notable crime at the Clackamas Transit Center. “Mess with me, girl, and I’ll mess with you!”

    So I rode straight for her, leaving enough track to dodge right. She chickened out, jumping to my left.
    As we passed I gave her a Jim Brown/Walter Payton/ Emmitt Smith stiff arm to her left shoulder to spin her out of the way. It worked: she did not hit the bars nor catch the pedal. I proceeded unabated to my dermatology appointment, unconcerned with the rocks being shied at my rapidly receding self.

    There are weird folk on this planet indeed! But our mothers and our football coaches told us the same thing: it is better to give than to receive! A moral: do not impede track-trained geezers riding yellow fixies set up for cyclocross!

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  • Steve October 5, 2010 at 1:24 pm


    The Mayor of Renton was also hit by a bike while visiting the scene of the accident.

    Now that section of the Cedar River Trail has a 10 mph speed limit for bikes and a mile-long dismount section.

    The main road the parallels the trail is a busy multi-lane state highway.

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  • beth h October 5, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    @ Ethan –Bicycles are not yet considered legitimate modes of transportation in every state. Until they are — and this would require it to become a federal case, I think — we will continue to see inconsistencies in funding for and construction of sufficient amenities for non-motorist use. I also think it can indirectly discourage personal responsibility — “hey, my bike’s not a legal vehicle so I don’t have to worry…”

    Just my $.02 —

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  • wsbob October 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Steve #49 …I’d forgotten what you described about the mayor being hit, and the implementation of the 10mph speed limit and the mile-long dismount section. Steve…thanks for posting that info.

    There’s a certain risk wearing headphones even while walking or running. While it’s certainly true that people on foot, traveling on multi-use paths should be aware of their surroundings and look before turning abruptly, that they may not consistently do so each time as they should, is…with rare exception, not any excuse for people on bikes to be passing closely by them at high speed.

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  • Opus the Poet October 5, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    OK I have ridden that trail (Katy in Dallas) and it is listed as a transportation corridor under the regional bike plan. So what you got is transportation overlaid on a recreational area. Using local terms I guess the best parallel would be a bumpercar track in the middle of a long stretch of LBJ (the ring route over the NE side of the Metroplex). Even at mild commuter speeds this is still insane. There is just not enough space, especially car-free space, for bikes in Dallas County, and what little car-free space we have is considered “recreational” by parks while it’s also our transportation space.

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  • shirtsoff October 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    The potential for pedestrian and cyclist crashes is why I avoid the Eastbank Esplanade while cycling and instead take MLK Jr. Blvd for north-south commutes.

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  • Perry Hunter October 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Jim Lee @48 – you took pride in the way you handled this?

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  • dan October 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    #48 Jim Lee, you saw some teenagers hassling elementary-school-age children and thought the best response was to speed up to make sure they couldn’t hassle you too? What about slowing down and threatening to call the cops?

    And straight-arming someone who was getting out of your way…hilarious, and I admire your bike handling, but totally over the top and excessively confrontational. You could have accomplished the same thing by slowing way down and asking the grade school kids if they wanted you to call the cops.

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  • Kevin October 5, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    After reading this a while back:


    I tend to think I’d take an approach similar to Jim Lee’s over getting punched in the face for a thug’s entertainment.

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  • A.K. October 5, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    The key thing here is to be predictable, and this type of thing probably wouldn’t happen.

    As a jogger or walker on an MUP, don’t turn on a dime, suddenly change directions without looking, etc.

    As a cyclist on the street, ride in a predictable straight line and don’t weave in and out of the traffic lane, into empty parking spots, etc.

    There are many things out of your control that can harm you, but you can reduce the risk significantly by having good situational awareness.

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  • beelnite October 5, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Dear Fellow Cyclists,

    If you want to ride faster than a jogger (8-10 mph).


    Yeah I know it’s your right and it’s legal and all – but comon – in the summer – there’s just too many people.

    This is one of those social things again.

    Just stay off the Esplanade if you want to go fast. The pedestrians totally – like 99 percent of them – HATE US.

    I know cuz I run/walk on the Esplanadae and I HATE US TOO.

    Fair warning:

    I’ll be in your way tonight, and tomorrow night and it’s going to be annoying because I am going to be going about the speed of a jogger – and I’m not goin to block the Esplanade, you’ll have room to pass when the crowd thins out, but I AM going to ride side by side with my commute buddy and we’re going to chat and ignore your huff-puff and your stupid bell.

    And we’re gonna slow WAYYYY down across the Steel Bridge too. Gee. Sorry to inconvenience you. Ringing your bell repeatedly is not going to help.

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  • El Biciclero October 5, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    I always slow down on MUPs and try to be safe and courteous. I also avoid MUPs like the plague. The tricky part about this whole issue is that it is tough to balance the rights and responsibilities among all modes in a way that appears fair. On one hand, we have MUPs, on which cyclists are cautioned in very explicit language, “reduce speed/watch for pedestrians”. On the other hand, we have streets where drivers are warned with a picture of, or maybe the word “bikes” followed by “on roadway”. This latter bit of “instruction” to motorists is no instruction at all. “Bikes in roadway? So what?” I’ve never actually ridden a “Neighborhood Greenway”; are there signs along those routes that say, “Motorists: This is a Neighborhood Greenway/Reduce Speed/Watch for Cyclists”?

    Also, as Bjorn mentioned above (as I took it), cyclists are blamed for their own injuries when they are hit by cars. How many times have we all heard, “…wasn’t wearing a helmet”, “what were they doing on that busy street?”, “what were they doing riding at that time of night?”, etc. All these phrases blame the cyclist implicitly. Yet cyclists are also blamed for pedestrian injuries on the rare occasion a bike/ped collision occurs.

    Cyclists are told that we should get off of busy streets and onto “The Bike Path”, yet pedestrian MUP users are not told that they should get off of busy bike paths and get on the sidewalk.

    It is true that whining about squirrely pedestrians slowing us down and causing problems on the MUP sounds a lot like motorists whining similarly about cyclists on the street. The difference is that when motorists whine, people listen–they draw lines on the street and tell cyclists, “you stay behind this line, out of the way!” and actually make it illegal to ride outside the lines. When cyclists whine, they are told to “reduce speed and watch for pedestrians”.

    It starts to seem like to many non-riders, cyclists should be to blame for any negative interaction, whether it is with a car or a ped. To me, it doesn’t do a lot to encourage cycling when we relegate cyclists to the most dangerous and inconvenient travel areas available, either far to the right (a low-visibility, hazard-strewn place) on the street, or on a potentially crowded MUP, which is more like a glorified sidewalk than any kind of “Bike Path”.

    Anyway, I’m rambling now, but I think my point is understood.

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  • John Cunningham October 5, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    I dislike this idea before even typing it: what about speed bumps on MUPs to slow things down? Would this be a case of the cure causing more problems than the illness?

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  • Augustus October 5, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    @ Perry-what would you have done different? Stop and risk getting mugged/attacked?

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  • Bob_M October 5, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Perry @ 53 abd Jim Lee @ 48

    I too had a similar incident on the Springwater several years ago. On my way out to Powell Butte for a couple of dirt laps I passed 4 young teens, and each had a 40 OZ.

    On my way back they were squared off, facing me and blocking the trail. My bike is no “jet fighter” but I am a full weight clydesdale, and I got to a full gallop.

    No contact was made, but I was called an a$$hole as I passed rapidly by.

    It is a shame about the woman in Texas. She would be alive is she had not had her MP3 playing.

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  • Dan October 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Joe @40.

    Same thoughts came to mind. Every day on my commute I see cyclists making the same mistake, plugged in to their headphones and not paying attention to their surroundings. Add in the lack of many cyclists to follow the rules of the road and it’s only a matter of time till someone get’s hurt or dies.

    I hope this tragedy opens the eyes of many who appear oblivious to risks they take.

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  • middle of the road guy October 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    @48, 53

    Jim Lee (btw, I had a grad school friend named Jim Lee)…

    I have done the same thing before, both jogging and cycling. If they are stupid enough to take the risk, they deserve the consequence. And as I am a 235 pound muscular guy, they REALLY had it coming.

    Moving out of their way only encourages that kind of behavior. Bruising them makes them think twice.

    Anyone who would go play in the middle of the freeway will get no sympathy from anyone.

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  • Duncan October 5, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    air zounds…. know it, use it, love it.

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  • A.K. October 5, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I hate to sound too much like a motorist, but cyclists don’t really have anywhere to go that’s safe and built just for them, and the 20-odd miles of the Springwater are the closet thing we have to a nice cycle path. But we are forced to share it with every walker, jogger, 3-up baby stroller, and dog who wants to walk down there.

    So how about this: walkers and joggers have literally thousands of miles of facilities build just for them around Portland. Kids have playgrounds, and dogs even have their own dog parks. In fact, just this week we were basically told to stay out of Washington park and to stop asking for more access.

    How about they stay off of the one area that is perfect for cyclists, and has even been billed as a bicycling transportation corridor?

    Go play somewhere else. That’s what everyone is always telling us, so screw it.

    I’m more than willing to share (and do), but at some point we have to stop being shoe-horned into areas and then blamed when something happens that is clearly out of our control.

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  • rider October 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    I don’t understand why our MUPs don’t have markings similar to parts of the Hawthorne bridge path. Dotted line down the middle for bi-directional paths with the directions for bicyclists and pedestrians opposing each other, though on one-ways for bikes and two ways for pedestrians like the Hawthorne it would be more difficult to get pedestrians to face oncoming bike traffic. Still greater markings make people go, “oh yeah, I should be aware of my surroundings.”

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  • Dan October 5, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    @ Bob_M #62- Actually Bob, she’d be alive if she hadn’t been hit by a bicyclist.

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  • Peter Smith October 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    First, wearing headphones while jogging or biking is not a good idea

    i disagree — at least in part.

    first, for biking, wearing headphones was often the only time that kept me oblivious to the terror that drivers inflicted on me intentionally, via horns, etc., and protected me from the incredible cacophony that could happen around/behind me even inadvertently (stress from worry/noise is real harm) — like the loud hum of a truck’s motor creeping up my backside, or the blare of a motorcycle (which often spooked me a _lot_ more than cars/trucks) — in short, wearing headphones while biking made me not only much more comfortable out there, but also made me safer b/c I couldn’t easily be scared into veering off the road, dropping my bike, etc. I’d argue it doesn’t endanger us, or others, either — not in any significant way (say, one-ten-thousandth of a percentage point of added risk) — and it could actually prove to be safer than going without headphones.

    And second, a lot of things in this world are ‘not smart’ — so, what does this actually mean? Are we really going to suggest that walkers/joggers/bikers not wear headphones? Maybe only on MUPs (Multi-use Paths)? Is wearing headphones while walking/jogging/riding dumber than listening to the radio/cd/whatever while driving? If we want to make the case that drivers should not be allowed to have music/sound in their cars and should have to keep their windows rolled down at all times — and I think we should — then I’m all ears — otherwise, we have to allow non-drivers the same creature comforts as drivers. To a certain extent, advising folks to not wear headphones is like advising them to wear helmets — just things that make physical activity less enjoyable, so they die early from heart disease instead.

    Third, bikes are relatively silent. This particular biker was apparently signaling/calling, but maybe you just have to yell over the person’s headphones when passing? Or maybe she saw the headphones and didn’t bother yelling? If the person has headphones on, and it’s the cyclist’s responsibility to call out/signal (to the level where the walker/jogger could hear the call over both ambient sounds and headphones), then it’s still the cyclist’s responsibility to be heard, right? If the person in front doesn’t give an “I heard you” wave/flick/thumbs up with their right arm, then they didn’t hear you, and don’t know you’re coming, so you gotta slow way down.

    i’d love to see the Sausalito/Mill Valley/Tiburon bike path lit up at night.

    when passing another path user, it is the responsibility of the person passing to expect the unexpected and to be traveling at a speed slow enough to react if necessary.

    I’m with this — in an imperfect world, this is just the way it has to be, imo. We can’t build separate superhighways for bikers and walkers/joggers through all our greenlands. It should be a legal requirement to ‘expect the unexpected’ and ‘not injure/kill anyone’ — no matter your form of transport.

    Also, I’m not a big fan of MUPs, especially when there’s no separation of modes – but I’m dubious of even MUPs with painted separation lines. Wonder if we have accident/death data? We can and possibly should tolerate bikers on MUPs, but only if we greatly restrict them — just like we should greatly restrict cars on our streets. And it’s not just the safety factor — it’s the perceived safety factor. You can’t relax while walking on many MUPs when there are bikers around, even if the bikers are cruising relatively slowly. I’d argue it’s not all that different from walking in a bike lane next to passing auto traffic — you don’t feel safe/comfortable. And don’t walkers/strollers deserve to feel safe/comfortable?

    As at least one other person has mentioned, I started to do an over-the-shoulder glance and then a gradual, sweeping left turn whether I’m walking, jogging, or biking — but I had to learn to do that by bumping into people a couple of times. And every time I’m new back to a MUP after a while away, I seem to have to re-learn it, and it should not be the death penalty if I make a mistake.

    I say:

    * A 3-foot and 5 MPH passing law for all MUPs, with serious, jail-time-bearing charges if you injure/maim/kill someone, and

    * Add some simple warning signs for all modes, bikers to give 3-feet and slow down to 5 MPH (it has to be super-slow to be enforceable) when passing, and walkers/joggers to do the shoulder-peek and gradual/sweeping turn-arounds, and

    * Separation lines where feasible.

    I didn’t know some trails were marked/mandated ‘yield to pedestrians’ — that’s good stuff, imo.

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  • jim October 5, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    If a car is supposed to give a bike 3 ft. then shouldn’t a bike give a pedestrian 3 ft. also? When I stop my car at a crosswalk for a walker crossing bikes NEVER stop, the pedestrians usually have to yield to the bikes

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  • wsbob October 5, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    The mandate to provide roadways where motor vehicles dominate doesn’t yet exist for bicycle travel. When and if that ever happens, bicycle traffic may have its own multi-lane traffic lanes with pedestrians cordoned off to the side with painted white lines.

    Bike commuters have the choice of moderating the speed they travel to that of the people on foot that use MUP’s, or they can travel the streets as they’re legally entitled to.

    Helmet use or lack of it by people that ride bikes gets press, while helmet use or lack of it by people on foot does not, because the factor of balance required for riding a bike is inherently more critical and subject to upset than the same for a person walking along on foot.

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  • Duncan October 5, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    To be a bit less flippant. I did not buy my air zounds to use on MUPS- I bought after I was hit by two cars in a week who “didnt see me” (sound familiar), however I have found that it is useful with the ipod jogging or five-abreast lunch walking crowd. I try a on your left, and if that doesnt work I use the horn. It always works. Sometimes people are angry- but I would rather have them angry then hurt.

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  • El Biciclero October 5, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Any path network billed as a “transportation corridor” should be marked accordingly. I’ve seen many MUPs (in other parts of the world) divided by a line with peds on one side and bikes on the other. Of course, striping takes money, and the most likely outcome of complaining is that current transportation corridors get that designation downgraded to “recreational trail”–no stripe needed, welcome to the dismount zone.

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  • Perry Hunter October 5, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    @Augustus #62 – turn around, use cell phone to call cops, shadow the group bullying the kid at a distance until the cops arrive?

    In other words, act like a competent adult?

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  • Red Five October 5, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    I think I mentioned before my 81 year old grandmother was hit and killed by a guy on a fixie and his response was “she should have been paying attention”. She was on a sidewalk!

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  • Psyfalcon October 5, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Striping the Springwater would be hard due to the width. If you cut it in half, I really don’t want to be passing bikes, head on. 10mph, each way would make for a nasty collision. 20 vs 20… well, that would be a hospital trip for sure.

    I think the best course of action would be for pedestrians to walk on the left, with cyclists to the right. Bikes then pass, carefully, to the center, mindful of each other.

    Might as well give a Nobel to whoever can make pedestrians walk on the left and not more than 2 (or so) wide.

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  • jim October 5, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    I think it is perfectly fine for joggers to wear head phones. That is my opinion. I also believe deaf people should be able to use the paths. That is my opinion also. I guess it dosen’t agree with Bikeportland because it will be censured off the post, and only posts that are what are agreeable to bikeportland can stay. This isn’t trolling, it is presenting an apposing veiwpoint. Go ahead and delete it if you only want a one sided blog.

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  • Chris October 5, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    I’m looking forward to winter too. The esplanade is my commute corridor. The crowds clear off then.

    I probably ride too close too fast, but that is how it goes. It’s too far to Sellwood to ride behind every jogger and stroller. Sorry.

    Maybe I’ll crash someday but people crash cars everyday. I could be safer by going slower but I don’t feel I take unwarranted risks. I used to live in Chicago and every winter a few pedestrians would be killed by ice falling from buildings. What are you going to do, not walk down the street?

    I find beelnite’s comment the strangest. The Esplanade is too crowded so the solution is take as much room as possible? What’s the point of angering people behind you? That’s totally passive aggressive. Me, I don’t get angry at anyone on the path but I’m comfortable passing in close quarters. Other people will get irritated. It does nothing helpful in any event.

    Oh and get a good light. I’ve encountered possum, raccoons, and geese on the path. You can’t rely on them to get out of the way. If you hit them you have only yourself to blame.

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  • inveigle October 6, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Re(Erik #24): If you are riding 20+ mph on a MUP and you crash with another trail user, keep in mind that a judge/jury (average folks) may consider your speed to have been reckless.

    Imagine if the cyclist involved in the fatal crash hadn’t had other trail users to vouch for his safe signalling just prior to the crash. That cyclist could have been charged with manslaughter.


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  • Chris Loudermilk October 6, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Maybe it’s time to provide Single Use Facilities? Peds and joggers on one facility and cyclists on a parallel facility…Oh, what a perfect world!

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  • matt picio October 6, 2010 at 9:16 am

    jim (#75Z) – I agree completely. I think it’s important, though, for cyclists and pedestrians who wear headphones to “check their six” before making sudden changes in direction. While I agree it is the responsibility of the overtaking party to pass safely, there is a point at which the responsibility falls to the party being overtaken – no cyclist can accomodate a pedestrian or cyclist who suddenly veers into their path without warning in the last, oh, 6 or so feet before the cyclist passes. Just as pedestrians can’t walk out into the street 20 feet in front of a car and still retain their “immunity”, neither can they suddenly cut across a cyclist’s path directly in front without the possibility of getting hit.

    We all have a responsibility towards each other out there in the public space, and as long as we all take reasonable precautions, the odds of an incident like this are thankfully very low.

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  • middle of the road guy October 6, 2010 at 9:19 am


    And that would be paid for how?

    At least with lanes on roads you have the argument that cyclists who pay taxes and also drive are using a facility at little or no additional cost. Leveraging capital investment is what gets projects funded.

    Asking for separate facilities destroys that argument. How then do those single use paths get paid for? Bike registration fees? Higher taxes? Take away transit funding? Take away road funding? All of those are political suicide for anyone who suggests them.

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  • Loren October 6, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Have to say, a bell is by far the best thing to have while riding on multi-use paths.

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  • Mike Fish October 6, 2010 at 9:47 am

    A very sad story. The ped/cyclist interactions on the Eastbank esplanade (and those ramps with the HUGE bumps – broke a wheel there once) make me avoid the riding around the esplanade whenever possible, which is most of the time. I haven’t ridden there for a year.

    I do run a lot though, and often on the corridor. Since I cycle I know to check my shoulder when making a move, like passing other runners. I find it very annoying when other runners use ear buds because it’s very difficult to communicate with them and a big part of safety lies in communication. I was trying to pass a runner in Forest Park and after saying “on your left” 3 times in a normal voice, right behind him I literally had to shout to get his attention. Very annoying.

    Also, when Jonathan was covering the expo in Vegas I was wondering why he gave the coverage to the helmets that played music – it seems like cyclists don’t need the distraction when trying to stay safe.

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  • rrandom rider October 6, 2010 at 9:50 am

    jim (#75)- strawman much? Drop the persecution complex, state your opinion and engage in the conversation. It’s good for all of us to hear a variety of viewpoints, especially if they are rationally and clearly presented.

    My opinion is that many people here are advocating for absolutes, e.g. no one should wear headphones, the passer is always at fault in a collision, etc. I think there is a lot more gray area where the details of the situation can lead to different conclusions.

    There are times that headphones are fine- low traffic, high visibility areas. There are times that they are not- high traffic, dense concentration of drivers/bikers/peds in low visibility areas. And there are times where it is not completely clear-cut and people need to use common sense on whether to use them or at what volume.

    Similarly, people need to decide on what speed is appropriate depending on the conditions/traffic at the time.

    And when a collision occurs, it can be the fault of any party. It is unrealistic to expect bikes to always pass peds at 5 mph or for walkers to always stay in a single file line at the far right of the MUP.

    Common sense and respect for others will go a long way to alleviating a lot of stress, collisions and ill will amongst people using all modes of transportation.

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  • Joe October 6, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Helps to say on your left or on your right, even ppl with head phones Ive come up on can hear me. but slowing down is the best bet for all.

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  • trail abuser October 6, 2010 at 10:06 am

    You know those wide sung glasses that had mirrors on the sides of the lenses for “spying” on people behind as a kid? They sell them at Fox’s Spy Outlet(at least I bought them there when I was a kid), but can easily be found online. Good for bikes too!

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  • Bonnie October 6, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Has anyone who rides the Eastbank Esplanade had conflicts with peds on the ramps to/from the Hawthorne bridge? This is a common occurrence for me. I will be exiting the bridge path (or entering it), SLOWLY, staying to my right, and there will be a ped coming at me head on. Didn’t we, primarily, learn to walk/stay to the right? I’ve asked many peds to stay to their right. They often respond angrily. I’ve even considered asking the city to install signs at the bottoms/tops of the ramps saying ‘please stay to your right’ or some such thing. Also, would it really be such a bad thing to redirect ped traffic to be opposing bike traffic on the Hawthorne? Is it such a big deal for peds to be asked to cross to the opposite side to help ensure they are walking against bike traffic? Isn’t it the same logic behind why bike traffic is one-way on each side of the Hawthorne? I actually make sure I walk opposing bike traffic when I’m a ped crossing the Hawthorne. I hate getting buzzed and it happens multiple times every single day to me, whether I’m a cyclist or ped.

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  • toowacky October 6, 2010 at 11:10 am

    @pdxthinker #11: “if this occured on a shared trail, and there are near misses on Springwater and the Esplanade all the time, how can any cyclist ever suggest that trails in Forest Park should be shared”

    The Medical Society of Metropolitan Portland already beat you to that argument. See:

    However, “trail sharing”, in its successful forms, also can include alternate day usage. Segregation of trail users based on this model avoids user conflict as you suggest, although you and the aforementioned editorial conveniently ignore this option of “trail sharing”.

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  • trail abuser October 6, 2010 at 11:21 am

    The Eastbank Esplanade and Springwater Corridor were federally funded as transportation corridors and the city has done a crappy job of reminding users. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_corridor

    The sharrows were federally funded too and remind drivers that bikes have rights to roadways. Why can’t they put up signs that designate Eastbank and Springwater as “transport corridors” as their intended federal funds dictate?

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  • El Biciclero October 6, 2010 at 11:23 am

    “10mph, each way would make for a nasty collision. 20 vs 20…”

    Sorry for the digression, but this is a common myth perpetrated by driver’s Ed teachers. If two bikes of approximately equal mass, each going 10mph, collide head-on, each one still goes from 10mph to 0mph. This is the same as hitting a wall at…10mph. The only time it is different is when a really small thing crashes head-on into a really big thing so that the small thing transitions from forward motion to backward motion instantly.

    Now back to the MUP debate…

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  • jim October 6, 2010 at 11:40 am

    When it becomes such a problem with people walking all over the path/ ramps then it might be time to walk your bike?

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  • Over and Doubt October 6, 2010 at 11:50 am

    El B, are you sure? Seems like bike v. bike would have double the kinetic energy of bike v. wall. Could be nasty what with levers, bar ends, and other things that can pierce or stab.

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  • jim October 6, 2010 at 11:58 am

    El Biciclero- #90
    I remember several years ago in Eugene there were 2 bikes riding at night, no headlights, the days before helmets, hit head on, killed them both

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  • trail abuser October 6, 2010 at 11:59 am


    There you go. Now if only I can find mine. There’s a thread on bikeforums about them.

    Over and Doubt:
    Cars and walls are hard objects even at lower speeds. To compare two relatively soft flesh and bone cyclists colliding at speed to that of a wall would require both cyclists to squarely butt skulls, which is improbable. Glancing body contact is more likely, with the inevitable strike to the hard asphalt more damaging.

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  • Marcy Houle October 6, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Kudos to you, Jonathan, for your insightful comment regarding today’s tragedy. “When we do build new non-motorized corridors, we need to push for wide facilities and separation like they have in Vancouver, BC” (your photos provided.) Separation is the only means to minimize conflicts between multiple users. Your statement is one of my primary reasons why I continue to feel that shared-use single track on narrow Forest Park trails poses too many hazards to all users.

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  • El Biciclero October 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm


    It’s all about deceleration. 10 to 0 is 10 to 0, regardless of whether you hit another moving bike or a wall. You are correct to observe that the consequences of flesh vs. levers and gears might be greater than those of flesh vs. brick, but the basic energy involved is the same.

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  • Kt October 6, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Over and Doubt, Mythbusters did a show on just this.

    They proved that two things of similar mass traveling at the same speed will show damage consistent with traveling that same speed and hitting a immovable object– but not show damage consistent with double the given speed.

    IIRC, they used weights and clay, at first, and moved up to crashing cars head-on (remotely, of course).

    If was very interesting.

    One thing they didn’t do was choose two objects of dissimilar size and composition, and test the effect of crashing them together head-on. That would have been interesting, and I think they missed a key element in not doing it.

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  • nosilla October 6, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    While I’ve not read all of the comments yet (only half or so) what really strikes me is that no one has mentioned the following recommended pedestrian behavior in a shared space environment: It does not seem to be practiced here, but I was always taught that pedestrians walk AGAINST traffic instead of with–thus allowing them to see who is coming towards them (except on blind curves). Does anyone know why Portland does not encourage/teach this?

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  • spare_wheel October 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    “A 3-foot and 5 MPH passing law for all MUPs, with serious…charges if you injure/maim/kill someone”

    I strongly agree. The average speed on common use paths is often dangerously high.

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  • Duncan October 6, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    spare wheel-

    Then we give the feds back the money as they will be walking paths not transportation corridors.

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  • mello yello (fmr. trail abuser) October 6, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    The answer is obvious: paint sharrows down the middle. Portland is already getting federal funding to paint them on roads.

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  • Wake Gregg
    Wake Gregg October 6, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Jonathan, on the need for more non-motorized roadways, I have been mulling over the idea lobbying for closing 5% of residential streets to cars for the 7% of us who use bicycles (or eBikes) for primary transportation. Maybe calling the movement 5-4-7. It would significantly boost the 7% (to 20%?)

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  • BB October 6, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Of course no article put this in perspective. While one death by a cyclist there were 95 other deaths by a motorist in the US.

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  • Doug Klotz October 7, 2010 at 12:14 am

    @ #86

    There has never been, to my knowledge any instructions to pedestrians to “walk/stay to the right”, except perhaps when walking on “country roads” (those without sidewalks) where the instruction has been “stay to the left”. There are no “lanes” on a sidewalk or other pedestrian facility. People on sidewalks veer left and right, avoiding crashes with other pedestrians walking the opposite direction. Pedestrians walking/running faster than the flow have a responsibility to avoid the slower pedestrians, and on foot it’s easy to avoid crashes.

    My understanding is that bikes are supposed to yield to pedestrians on MUPs. There is no requirement that I know of for pedestrians to do anything different than they would on a sidewalk. On the Eastbank, people do seem to do the left/right thing to an extent, but there’s not requirement and no instructions to do it. Plus you have to factor in children, who will run any and all directions. Parents will look to control them on a sidewalk, but on an MUP they figure (legally but perhaps unwarrantedly) that their kids have the right-of-way, and cyclists will avoid them.

    The answer is separated facilities, or at least the lines (and some physical, detectable marking for the sight-impaired)between the two types of users.

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  • Jim O'Horo October 7, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Excellent article Jonathan. FYI, I think there are some “separated” MUP’s in Seattle also. I seem to recall seeing separate “heels” @ “wheels” paths while cycling there some years ago.

    Though we tend to focus on fatalities when discussing injuries, that narrow view may distort the total picture. Both Kaplan in ’76 and Moritz in ’96 found that the rate of “serious” crashes for cyclists on MUP’s (expressed as crashes/mile travelled) was about 2.5x the rate for the same group when travelling on a city street with NO bike lane. “Serious” was defined as requiring medical attention or exceeding $50 property damage. While we are properly concerned with the often extreme damage caused by motor vehicle collisions, the total loss caused by less-than-fatal crashes is far from insignificant.

    I believe that one of the reasons for the higher risk associated with MUP’s is that for the users there are NO rules, so everyone does whatever they please whenever the mood strikes them, a totally unpredictable environment. When we were designing the Padden Parkway MUP, I tried to get the path striped with a dashed yellow centerline, hoping that treating it as a miniature roadway would instill some sense of order among the users. Unfortunately, that request was ignored.

    Another big cause of problems is the relative speed of the users. A typical pedestrian travels at 2-3 mph. A cyclist using the same MUP is typically travelling at 10-15 mph, about 5x as fast. Peds can react, turn or move more suddenly than the much faster cyclists. We tend to expect others to behave as we do, so the cyclist is often unprepared for a sudden pedestrian movement and seldom able to react in timely fashion.

    Now compare the same 12.5 mph cyclist to a 25 mph auto on a city street. Since there is a set of rules for both users to follow, each presumably knows what to expect from the other. In addition, the speed of the auto is only 2x that of the cyclist, so their relative reactions, maneuverability, etc. are much closer. The result: a much lower collision rate on-street.

    Note that NONE of the above talks about fault, responsibility, who was (or wasn’t) wearing a helmet, global warming or any other issues that I regard as irrelevant to this discussion.

    PS: John Cunningham @ 69: A few years ago, before the Discovery Trail in Vancouver was widened and improved I heard that the VPD was out there with a radar gun giving warnings to cyclists for going too fast for conditions on that narrow trail. The trail was also full of bumps from tree roots causing cyclists to go slower than they were physically capable of. Since then the trail has been widened to 12’ and repaved, removing the bumps, so now the cyclists race through there at even higher speeds. Maybe they should have left the roots in place.

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  • cyclist October 7, 2010 at 11:35 am

    first, for biking, wearing headphones was often the only time that kept me oblivious to the terror that drivers inflicted on me intentionally, via horns, etc., and protected me from the incredible cacophony that could happen around/behind me even inadvertently (stress from worry/noise is real harm)

    Drowning out all of those traffic noises is what’s going to get you killed. The terror and worry you feel is misplaced and frankly ridiculous, people who drive cars aren’t trying to scare you, they’re trying to get wherever they’re going (same as you).

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  • Opus the Poet October 7, 2010 at 11:39 am

    OK I was going to respond to a comment I got through the e-mail subscription to this thread about cyclists riding without a light on, but that seems to have been removed before I could respond. Good work BikePortland!

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  • Duncan October 7, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    joggers sharing MUPS? Sounds great they can start anytime.

    And whats with people jogging in the middle of the street anyway? I took a right turn near my house the other day and nearly creamed some dude in a black warmup suit running towards me in the street. He had earbuds too come to think of it?

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  • Peter Smith October 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    The terror and worry you feel is misplaced and frankly ridiculous

    I keep telling that to the hundreds of millions of Americans who don’t bike and will not even consider biking, but they just don’t seem to get it. Hmmmm…

    But this is good to know, because it has policy implications. All we have to do is convince people, myself included, that the terror and worry we experience/feel is misplaced and ridiculous, and then the cycling mode share will skyrocket.

    So, how should we do that? Let’s get it started…

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  • Mike Fish October 7, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Re: 84

    Yes you go from 10mph to 0 mph but the force of the impact is still double.

    I go running on the esplanade and corridor all the time and I get annoyed when passing walkers 3-4 abreast but I also get equally annoyed when I’m running far to the right side of the path and bikers zing me because they’re riding side-by-side and don’t want to fall in single-file. Unless you’re going really slowly on a bike there is often way too much traffic to ride double, and if you pass someone you should really consider going single-file.

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  • Peter Smith October 7, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    …because the factor of balance required for riding a bike is inherently more critical and subject to upset than the same for a person walking along on foot.

    Probably true, but reminds me of the Parkinson’s guy who couldn’t walk very well but could still ride a bike.

    The victim’s father seems like a real good dude — showing a level of moral and spiritual maturity that we rarely see.

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  • bramasoleiowa October 7, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I stopped joining my running group for Saturday morning runs on the Esplanade/Waterfront because of congestion that I felt would lead to accidents like this one.
    Anyone who is serious about commuting by bike should know how crowded the Esplanade can get. I’ll join the call that the path needs to be widened.

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  • Duncan October 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I remember somewhere in Seattle there was a path that was separated with peds on the outside bikes on the inside…. there was this problem with inline skaters- cc ski trainers and some weird trikes that people stood on. . . . always issues.

    Still it was better than what we have.

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  • Pete October 9, 2010 at 3:11 am

    This is so tragic to hear and my heart goes out to the girl’s family! Mistakes in judgement do happen.

    #102, #86: The twin tunnels trail in Hood River, IIRC, instructs pedestrians to walk to the left to see oncoming cyclists; presumably the paradigm applied to roadways (driver’s manuals in some states say walk against traffic and cycle with traffic). The problem with signage like this is that it’s rarely read, and depending on the ethnic or tourist mix in the area maybe not understood.

    Separated facilities are a Utopian idea. I recently visited Valencia, Spain, and rode through their park with separated cycle and pedestrian paths (clearly marked with easily understood symbols). Even with all that space and instruction there were still clueless parents strolling down the cycle path with their small children, at times seemingly aggravated by cyclists ‘whizzing’ so closely to them.

    I liken this to what I see in Silicon Valley’s bike lanes, clearly and liberally marked with arrows and “bikes wrong way” signs yet riders speed along in the wrong direction and act surprised when you’re coming straight at them at 25 MPH. No amount of infrastructure can accommodate Darwinism (not saying that applies to this Dallas story).

    And yeah, Duncan, having an air zounds, a bell, strong lungs, and (presumably) good judgment give me a nice selection of tools to escalate as necessary.

    I do think experience riding a bike on streets and MUPs makes one adapt safer instincts/practices when walking and driving, and I try to share this by inviting people to borrow bikes and offering to ‘mentor’ people who tell me they would ride a bike but are scared of cars (or they think they’re out of shape – like you have to be in shape before you get on a bike!).

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  • AnneO October 9, 2010 at 7:46 am

    This may have been said already, but it’s worth repeating: safety efforts, signage, and the like need to educate all parties, including pedestrians, what they need to do to help share the path safely. Current signage on the Portland waterfront focuses on cyclists, but there need to be tips for everyone including pedestrians, whether they are local joggers or out of town tourists. You just can’t make sudden turns or other moves without checking for traffic, or let your toddler or pet run free. The very function of a multi-use path is shared movement, where all parties should be equal, and aware of each other.

    And as an aside, while I personally don’t think it’s a good idea to wear headphones while biking (I prefer to hear all traffic noise around me clearly), it’s ridiculous to think that walkers or joggers “should not wear headphones.” Of course they can wear headphones, but they have to act with caution accordingly.

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  • pdxthinker October 9, 2010 at 10:39 am

    To Too Wacky (87)- I agree with the Medical Society of Metropolitan Portland and am glad that they published their statement.

    as to alternate day trail sharing–I don’t think this would work. First of all, at present there are thousands of runners, hikers and dog walkers who make daily use of Forest Park as part of their routine. As they are close to 95% of the users (park service surveys) I don’t think they would agree to giving this up–especially as cyclists can get a great workout on Lief and the firelanes open to bikes; or can choose to hike/run themselves.

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  • El Biciclero October 11, 2010 at 9:28 am

    “Yes you go from 10mph to 0 mph but the force of the impact is still double.”

    Sorry to beat this dead horse, but this doesn’t make sense. The one thing all my physics teachers drilled into us was, “If you remember nothing else from my class, remember that F=ma

    As long as the acceleration, a, is, e.g., -8.5 meters/sec^2 (roughly the deceleration of going from 10mph to 0 in .5 seconds), and your mass, e.g., 90 kg, doesn’t suddenly jump up at the moment of impact, then the force is the same, whether you hit an oncoming moving body of the same mass and velocity, or a bridge abutment. It does seem counterintuitive, and the “double impact” notion is a great scary “fact” for Driver Education instructors to use, but it is false. Ask the Bike Science Guy and see what he says…

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  • wsbob October 11, 2010 at 11:05 am

    “… However, “trail sharing”, in its successful forms, also can include alternate day usage. …” toowacky #87

    Trail sharing ‘can’, but shouldn’t require alternate day usage, when all that’s really required for safety, is for faster trail users to reduce their speed to that of slower trail users. This is something that people choosing to ride bikes should be able to do. Until such time as people on foot travel the same high speeds as people on bikes do, reducing bike speed to that of people on foot is an essential part of sharing on MUP’s.

    El Biciclero #113 re; impact velocity of opposing forces: I don’t buy the Mythbusters/Bike Science Guy rationalizations either. Movie ‘Courage Under Fire’ was on the tube yesterday. Lou Diamond Phillips’ character decides to buy it by driving his mustang into an oncoming freight train. More than deceleration is involved here. There’s reversal of force too, because the train doesn’t stop when the car hits it.

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  • Duncan October 11, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    It can also be accomplished by slower trail users staying to the right, being aware of their surroundings etc.

    I dont have time to go 5MPH everywhere. I use the sprinwater and esplenade to go places not ambulate.

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