The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Former NFL, UO star Joey Harrington hit while bicycling on SE Foster

Posted by on August 1st, 2011 at 9:41 am

SE Foster Road near 88th.

Last night, 33-year old former NFL and University of Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington was hit and injured while riding his bike on SE Foster Road.

Portland Police say Harrington was riding westbound near SE 88th when he was struck from behind by 26-year old Derek Johnston, who was driving a small SUV. Harrington suffered non life-threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital.

The police cited Johnston for following too close.

SE Foster about one mile east of this crash (at SE 108th). Even with bike lanes, the street is dominated by motor vehicles.

Foster has no bike lanes at this location and the street is notorious for traffic crashes. Back in November, Portland Mayor Sam Adams and representatives from ODOT launched a “High Crash Corridor” traffic safety campaign just one mile east of where this crash occurred. At the press conference for that event, Adams said, “This street functions in many ways like a freeway, but it’s not.”

Unfortunately, for many people, major arterials like this continue to be treated like freeways and they continue to pile up victims. It will take much more than banners and underfunded “safety” campaigns to change that.

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  • Joe C August 1, 2011 at 9:45 am

    +1 “It will take much more than banners and underfunded ‘safety’ campaigns to change that.”

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  • Mike Quigley August 1, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Why wasn’t he riding on the sidewalk?

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    • NF August 1, 2011 at 10:10 am

      The sidewalk at this location is 4 ft wide, with utility poles and overgrown bushes in your path. It’s difficult to walk along, and would be almost impossible to bike on.

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    • Tacoma August 1, 2011 at 10:52 am

      Or was your question rhetorical?

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    • Paul Johnson August 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm

      Something about vehicles not being allowed on sidewalks.

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      • tonyt
        tonyt August 1, 2011 at 6:05 pm

        Actually Paul, bikes are allowed on sidewalks in all but the core area of downtown Portland.

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        • Paul Johnson August 1, 2011 at 6:14 pm

          As has been pointed out, when doing so, you’re operating as a pedestrian and have to act as such, which renders the bicycle more or less useless.

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    • tonyt
      tonyt August 1, 2011 at 6:04 pm


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    • pdxgirl August 1, 2011 at 6:33 pm

      Last I checked, riding on the sidewalk wasn’t legal. I could be wrong, but that’s my understanding.

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      • Alan 1.0 August 1, 2011 at 10:30 pm

        Check again: 814.410. Riding on the sidewalk is legal in most of Oregon, with a few restrictions. Portland prohibits bikes on the sidewalk in the downtown area bounded by Hoyt, Naito, Jefferson and 13th.

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        • Paul Johnson August 2, 2011 at 6:58 am

          True, but the restrictions are such that it relegates you to pedestrian status and (unless you’re in extremely rural areas, in which color me surprised you actually found a sidewalk) pedestrian speeds (sure, only crosswalks and driveway crossings…but sidewalks are close to nothing but one or the other). So it’s a difference with no distinction. Sure, you could ride on the sidewalk, but to do so legally and safely pretty much negates bringing a bike along to begin with.

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          • wsbob August 2, 2011 at 10:50 am

            “…Sure, you could ride on the sidewalk, but to do so legally and safely pretty much negates bringing a bike along to begin with. …” Paul Johnson

            For you personally? It would seem so. For lots of other people using bikes for transportation, riding the sidewalk is strictly a short distance go-around, done to deal with particularly nasty road situations; bad, poorly signaled intersections and so on.

            As hectic as Foster Rd is, Harrington would probably have been safe enough riding there, if not for the angle and resulting glare of the sun at the time of the day, and the failure of the person driving the car to sufficiently take that into consideration. Harrington being an athlete, I’m going to assume he’s probably fairly strong on the bike…strong enough to contend for the most part, with keeping up with Foster traffic. Unless there is something particularly weird about Foster Rd at the location where he was hit, there likely wasn’t a strong reason for him to amble along on the sidewalk.

            People, including myself, are probably wondering what info and observation of the collision scene led the police officer to write the driver of the car up for “…following too close.”. Eventually, more information about that will probably be available. Refer to the O’s coverage of yesterday. It reports that the driver of the car stayed on scene and co-operated with police investigators. Quite a different response compared to that in the other recently reported collision in which the person driving a car killed a person, and proceeded to split the scene.

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        • Pete August 2, 2011 at 10:12 pm

          Several cities override this state law with local ordinances. Riding a bike on the sidewalk is generally not that safe for either cyclist or pedestrian.

          I hope Joey is OK and recovers fully and quickly. Getting hit sucks!

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    • esther c August 2, 2011 at 2:19 am

      Wouldn’t a better question be, why was the car following so close that he hit him?

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      • Kristen August 2, 2011 at 9:11 am

        +1, Esther C.

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  • Justin August 1, 2011 at 9:52 am

    That’s my neck of the woods. Foster Road, as designed, is a gem — wide enough for patios, sidewalks, streetcar, bike lanes and cars. As currently configured, however, it only really serves cars. Making it serve all users will slow auto traffic, boost pedestrians and help the great businesses who are struggling. I could live with one lane of auto traffic for the entire diagonal portion of Foster.

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    • NF August 1, 2011 at 10:12 am

      Yes! Foster has the potential to be one of the best streets in the city (the current 16ft sidewalks along much of inner Foster hints at this possibility.) Cully style cycle tracks, streetcar and more on-street parking are all fantastic ideas.

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    • Jon August 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      I ride from Foster and Barbara Welch to downtown every day. I would never ride down Foster. There are many quiter alternatives. (Springwater and more)

      Foster needs 4 lanes. Ride your bike in a safer place otherwise this will happen more.

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      • BURR August 2, 2011 at 5:18 pm

        It’s a public street and it should be safer for cycling.

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      • Justin August 3, 2011 at 11:09 am

        Actually, there aren’t good alternatives that go where Foster does (in part because Foster itself severs potential east-west routes). Foster isn’t a highway like Powell is. It’s a huge, moderate-traffic road that could accommodate everyone with some creative refiguring.

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        • Paul Johnson August 3, 2011 at 2:45 pm

          Looking at the map, it seems like Clinton-Woodword to I 205 or 52nd to Woodstock are good ways around Foster, using side streets off either route for local access.

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  • Nick V August 1, 2011 at 10:03 am

    It’s a shame that Foster is so messy and dangerous when cyclists come off the 205 bike path and head west. I usually switch over to Woodstock at the crosswalk around 87th or else I go a few blocks north and weave my way back west.

    Glad that Harrison is okay and Johnston owned up to his error but, yeah, Foster is pretty bad and a “safety campaign” (I thought the mayor didn’t have time to campaign.) won’t do any good.

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    • Chris August 1, 2011 at 12:28 pm

      Yes, riding on foster is crazy. I catch Woodstock at 87th as you do but even this is dangerous. Crossing where Foster turns into Woodstock is insane as people come around that corner at 40mph, and the intersection at Woodstock and 82nd is worse due to people not realizing there is a magically disappearing and reappearing bike lane there. Unfortunately there is really nothing better without adding a mile detour. I really hope foster is picked up as a corridor needing improvement.

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  • Jon August 1, 2011 at 10:10 am

    This part of Foster is what is called an “auto-infested traffic-sewer”

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 1, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Maybe SE Foster would be a great first test of ODOT’s new focus and commitment to active transportation. ODOT Director Garrett recently said he considers them a “mobility agency.” With Harrington’s public profile, and ODOT’s stated new direction, this could be a pivotal point for SE Foster and urban arterials in general.

    Can’t wait to hear a statement from Harrington. Hopefully he says something about the lack of adequate bike access on Foster.

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    • NF August 1, 2011 at 10:27 am

      Foster Rd is not and ODOT facility – a fact that gives me some hope for it’s future.

      That said, it connects I-205, 82nd, and Powell, all of which do belong to ODOT. Interactions at those intersections probably impact the design of foster itself. ODOT will need to cooperate with the city if it hopes to make Foster better.

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      • Jon August 1, 2011 at 10:44 am

        Doesnt ODOT have say over the roads around freeway on/off ramps for a certain distance? I understand this was the case with NW 14th in the Pearl and that ODOT would not allow a new signal at 14th/Johnson, slower speed limit or reduction in lanes.

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        • NF August 1, 2011 at 11:03 am

          I’m sure they do. There was a study to look at removing the Foster/Woodstock couplet in Lents Town Center, but the conclusion seemed to be that it’s role as a freeway interchange trumped it’s role as the center of a community.

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  • efudd August 1, 2011 at 10:26 am

    License all bicycles and the riders , req a safe rider test, req high viz clothing in traffic ( the reclined bikes are imposible to see in traffic) and add bike safety to auto drivers test to increase awarness , use the fees to improve problem areas , not for bike garages that get almost no users and cost too much

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    • Kristen August 2, 2011 at 9:32 am

      Fallacy– most bicycle riders already have driver’s licenses.

      Hey, I know what would be better– require ALL road users to take a course and a written and practical exam to get a license in order to use the roads, and require them to re-take at least the written portion of the test every 2 years to keep their license.

      People caught using the roads with a suspended license forfeit their vehicle, the police get to auction it off and keep the funds.

      On the other hand, require all motor vehicles operating on city roads to be restricted to, say, 25 mph. Require all vehicles to be high-viz, require all vehicle operators to wear helmets.

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  • Another Dan August 1, 2011 at 11:45 am

    “police cited Johnston for following too close”
    Well, yes, 0″ is too close, but is “following too close” the correct charge? What if he had hit a pedestrian? Certainly that would not be a case of following too close. Why not reckless driving, for instance.

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  • Cora Potter August 1, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    I want to chime in and let everyone know that thanks to a Metro MTIP grant and PDC, a new streetscape will be happening on this section of Foster and the adjoining section of the couplet on Woodstock (87th through 94th). It’s currently in the design stage and should break ground next year.

    But – this chunk of money ends at 87th. So – to make sure that all of Foster gets the love it needs, be sure to support the current funding request for Federal Flexible Funds.

    I also want to clarify on the couplet removal study. The decision to retain the couplet was not based on the freeway interchanges. The reason why the couplet is more advantageous is that you can have narrower street crossings with one way streets. If we had converted to two-way, the area between curb bulb outs would have been further apart to accommodate turn movements for freight.

    The LTCURAC, who was advising on the study and the streetscape project felt that shorter crossings and narrower streets provided more pedestrian friendliness and traffic calming.

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    • Jon August 1, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      we overaccommodate freight interests, they always expect to hurl a full sized big rig at full speed down every street and make turns at full speed. interesting how the mail service big rig trucks are handling the Pearl district’s narrow streets just fine as they zig zag through the neighborhood with lots of truck traffic. please dont give in to their unreasonable demands so easily.

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      • Cora Potter August 1, 2011 at 1:41 pm

        Actually – the freight folks are some of the most courteous drivers in the area around Foster. This also isn’t just about a single site like a post office – we’re working with a large variety of freight vehicles that are accessing the freeway, traveling to and from the Johnson Creek Industrial Area, bringing in food from farms further east – not all of these drivers are going to be well experienced in maneuvering around curb bulb-outs. And, the result wouldn’t really be any slowing of speeds, it would be having our curbs (ie investment) torn up by tires before their time.

        The speeding issues are mostly associated with commuter traffic going to and from points further west.

        So – I think we do have the best solution – a narrower coupleted system that provides the visual cues to commuter drivers that they need to slow down, and the types of freight turn movements that protect both the concrete and the people.

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        • Alex Reed August 1, 2011 at 10:23 pm

          Cora, do you know the email addresses of any City staff members working on this project? I would like to voice my support but looks like I missed the June 1st meeting 🙂
          Thanks for your advocacy for these improvements to an area that sorely needs it!

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          • Cora Potter August 2, 2011 at 9:04 am

            For the current Foster/Woodstock Streetscape project, the contact is Rich Newlands at PBoT (, or Sue Lewis at PDC (

            For the Flexible Funds candidate projects, Foster is requesting 1.25 million of an available 6.9 million. I don’t know who the “official” contact for the evaluation of the candidate projects is – but I would talk with April Bertelsen ( I know she was at the June 1 meeting and she’s generally a good contact for just about anything.

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  • beelnite August 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I do believe this is the first news event for a bike related “accident” in which whether the cyclist was wearing a helmet or not goes unmentioned.

    I waited for it… “Harrington was wearing a helmet.”

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    • jim August 1, 2011 at 7:27 pm

      He is the QB of course he is going to wear a helmet

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    • middle of the road guy August 2, 2011 at 8:40 am

      It’s the same thing if the driver was wearing a seatbelt. Not wearing one shows a level of carelessness. Legal or not.

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      • El Biciclero August 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm

        …Then pedestrians without helmets are careless as well. When that car smacks into you in the crosswalk and you take a nose-dive through the windshield, you’ll sure wish you had your helmet on, careless pedestrian!

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  • Mindful Cyclist August 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Wow! So I guess all I need to do is be a U of O star quarterback and spend a little time in the NFL if I want a motorist to get ticketed while I am riding my bicycle.

    I wish Joey a speedy recovery. And, wish one didn’t have to be a sports star in order for the motorist to get cited.

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  • Joe Adamski August 1, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    FWIW… Harold, about 5 blocks to the north parallels Foster and is much calmer, and feeds into Foster around 84th, avoiding much of this congestion, westbound. Not that its perfect.
    I commuted this stretch for months before figuring out Harold. A bit of extra time, but it was worth it. BikeThere maps and other sources are invaluable in figuring out the safest routes. But you need to do this before you take off, unless you tote a map with you. Not blaming the victim, but I see this as an opportunity to get this message out.
    And yes, Foster really needs some lovin!

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  • Patti Bucher August 1, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Our son Nick was killed back in 2007 and today would have been his 29th birthday. These bike accidents are a constant reminder of his passing. Please be careful when riding and driving to prevent families from have to go through this. Here is to a speedy recovery for Joey.

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    • 007 August 2, 2011 at 10:33 am

      I am so sorry about your son. I wish a speedy recovery to Joey, also. What can appear to be minor injuries often result in a lifetime of pain and musculoskeletal problems.

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  • Marc August 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Per Twitter: He suffered ‘Broken clavicle/ribs/punctured lung/scalp laceration’

    Sounds like he really was pretty lucky

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    • Nick V August 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm

      Wow. I wouldn’t call that lucky. said he had non-life-threatening injuries. I figured that just meant cuts, bruises, scrapes, etc. Get well soon, Joey.

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  • Marc August 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    He will also be spending a 2nd night in ICU

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  • wsbob August 1, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    The O’s coverage explains more about the collision. That time of day was 8:24pm, and sun is cited as a factor in the collision. The O article offers quite a detailed description of how Harrington’s body was impacted in the collision.

    Basically, it says he was flipped into the air and “…landed on the right side of his head and shoulder. …”. Nevertheless, still gets “…gashes sustained on the right side of his head …”, which are stapled together.

    O story says he was wearing a helmet, to which Harrington’s dad is said to have given credit to the use of that equipment for possibly having saved his son’s life.

    Harrington’s dad gave a press conference at OHSU.

    No report of how fast the person driving the car was traveling when his car struck Harrington. Bad as it was, it kind of sounds as though this collision could have been far worse, with far more serious injury.

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    • Alan 1.0 August 1, 2011 at 10:21 pm

      Sunset was at 8:40pm PDT yesterday so yes, the sun was just above the horizon. Its azimuth at the time of the collision was about 294°, just a few degrees south of Foster’s alignment. The driver, Derek Johnston, certainly could have been blinded by the sun, which would have been a good reason to slow down but which is not a good reason for running into any one.

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      • wsbob August 2, 2011 at 6:35 pm

        “…which is not a good reason for running into any one. …” Alan 1.0

        Not a good ‘excuse’. It’s true though, that in a sun glare situation, the sun can be blocked and then abruptly flash in the faces of people as they’re moving along. Trees, buildings, landforms, etc block the sun, but when a gap in those sun barriers occurs, the sun can suddenly pop through. Still not an adequate excuse for driving a car into someone.

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  • jim August 1, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    There was a story a week or 2 ago about how the city is spending a much bigger proportion of its money on the inner eastside and the outer east side is not getting their moneys worth. I would be real upset if I paid taxes and didn’t get my share. The good news is we will get a new mayor in a year and 1/2, things can only get better.

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    • peejay August 2, 2011 at 8:49 am

      Things can also get a lot worse.

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      • BURR August 2, 2011 at 5:25 pm

        like in Toronto, where the new mayor is removing bike infrastructure that works

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    • Jon August 2, 2011 at 9:59 am

      transport money moves around. only a few years ago outer SE would have had a bigger proportion with the I-205 Green Line construction. no one disagrees that money should be spent all over but this imbalance was due to one large project: eastside streetcar construction.

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      • Cora Potter August 2, 2011 at 10:18 am

        That’s not a particularly good example, considering that about $150 million was spent on the south (I-205) alignment of the green line – and the balance of the green line project money, about $500 million, was spent in downtown Portland.

        The truth is, revenues have been collected in East Portland for the last 3 decades, and relatively little of that money makes it back in the form of infrastructure investments.

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  • Chris August 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I worked my first day at Foster and 60th today. I biked down to A-Boy Hardware, and I thought, “Riding down Foster sucks!” What an awful road. If the city wants to improve the road, and the neighborhood, it should start with calming traffic by making it a two lane road, putting trees down the center, and throwing in a couple of wide bike lanes. This corridor has some potential. Feel better Joey Harrington!

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    • Alex August 1, 2011 at 10:22 pm

      Great ideas! I live in the area and usually only need to cross Foster and not ride on it. Foster has more potential than most streets in town.

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  • lyle August 1, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    That is a really terrible area of Foster, and the city should be ashamed of themselves if they think it’s a viable bike corridor. You can be building up tons of speed coming down from 122nd… in the bike lane, tons of visibility and buffer. But then before you know it, you’re thrown into this crazy narrow speed trap, with absolutely no space for bikes, completely crappy surface paving (at least as of two months ago), and just generally a set up for something like this to happen. I was about where he was and was thinking to myself the entire time that I could easily envision getting hit from behind or sideswiped. I couldn’t make it past 90th before I bailed north.

    Never again.

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  • marshmallow August 1, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Another reason to wear polarized sunglasses to block glare –they’re a lifesaver on a bike and in a car.

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  • jim werner August 2, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    License all bicycles and the riders , req a safe rider test, req high viz clothing in traffic ( the reclined bikes are imposible to see in traffic) and add bike safety to auto drivers test to increase awarness , use the fees to improve problem areas , not for bike garages that get almost no users and cost too much

    i’m all for a safe rider test. i’m amazed that no one has been hurt where the springwater crosses powell loop/pleasant view. there are stop signs on the springwater on both sides but cyclists seem to think that since a crosswalk is painted there they don’t have to stop. if it were not for really gracious motorists there, half the cyclists in portland would have already been wiped out. i am a cyclist and a laydowner, bentrider, and have very little problem with motorists. i know the rules and i abide by them. by looking ahead, to the side and using my rearview mirror i’m a motorist’s best friend. i try to allow motorists to get by me in areas of no bike lanes and for the most part they appreciate it. mirrors make a difference. i am no namby pamby rider cruising at less than 10 miles per our i get out and ride between 15 and 20 miles per hour. i also get on my fellow riders for their transgressions. in addition i keep motorists aware of my position on the road and take no guff from them either. i take my piece of the road and motorists learn quick that they are not going to force me off the road. this may sound as an attack on motorists; far from it. motorists usually don’t mind cyclists on the road as long as they, by their body language, maintain a straight line down the road. now if we can just convince motorists to look to their left before entering the flow of traffic or making a left hand turn life will be good for all of us. i’d even appreciate motorists making left hand turns at intersections look for cyclists passing through the intersection.

    as for cyclists using sidewalks, unless you are under 9 years of age or on 82nd ave ride on the street; i’m also a walker.

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  • mh August 3, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Anyone planning on recruiting Harrington as a spokesperson for cycling infrastructure improvements?

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