Bike Gallery, an institution in Portland with six local stores, is running an interesting new ad in the Willamette Week. The ad is a ‘Plea to Portland Cyclists’ and it implores people on bikes to wear bright clothing, use lights, and obey traffic laws.
Here’s the ad:
I find the language in the third tip unfortunate. The use of “drivers” and “us” sets up the classic dichotomy between road users that doesn’t exist — and that there’s no need to perpetuate. I also cringe when I read “traffic laws apply to bikes too,” not because I disagree with it; but because it furthers the common perception that all of “us” (and there is no “us” in my opinion) feel the opposite is true.
This plea from Bike Gallery seems to be something of a trend.
I recently got a mailing from the “SmartTrips” program at PBOT’s Transportation Options division. It was a newsletter with a calendar of rides and walks in my neighborhood and other tips. The section that caught my eye was titled, “Share the Road – Be Nice”:
What struck me about it is how PBOT continues to divide up road users based solely on their chosen mode of travel. I think that’s a bad move. It isn’t necessary (a simple “Road users, please slow down, stay alert, and obey traffic laws” would suffice) and it furthers the divisiveness that leads to stereotyping, labeling, and the lack of understanding and compassion between road users we should all be working toward.
I also noticed how they singled out “bicyclists” as the ones that need to “commit to obeying” stop signs and traffic lights. This singling out (which Bike Gallery does too to a lesser extent) perpetuates the urban myth that people on bikes have a larger problem obeying the law than other types of road users.
Then there’s author, advocate, and president of Alta Planning + Design, Mia Birk. Birk writes a regular column in the Portland Tribune. Her most recent was titled, “Law-breaking cyclists: the answer.”
At the end of the article, Birk asked readers to take a pledge. She had two pledges, one for people who consider themselves drivers and the other for people who consider themselves bikers. Here’s the bike-oriented one:
I pledge to use bike lights at night, stop and stay stopped at each and every red light, yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, be predictable and wave and smile at any driver who shows me the slightest shred of courtesy.
I share these because I’m curious what others think about them. I also thought it was interesting that I came across all three within a few weeks of each other.
What do you think?
meh. much ado about nothing. cyclists run stopsigns and stoplights all the time. don’t be such a crybaby, JM. the whining tone of this site is just getting so hard to read…
seems like a pretty heartfelt and innocuous ad to me.
Where’s that thumbs down button when I need it?
No. I agree with Capt. Hardcore. Life has dichotomies. Us and them. That’s the way it is. Let’s not over-analyze every little sentence – especially when it’s from one of US!
this was directed at cyclists….there are other materials for ‘drivers’.
Agreed. Moreover, whenever non-cyclists find out about my cycling, invariably the comment comes out a-la-Mia-Birk, “So many of you cyclists are scofflaws.” I’m sick of having to explain that crap. One scofflaw cyclist in view of auto drivers sets our movement back ten times the miles we cover. Blatant scofflaws allow drivers to tar cyclists with a very broad brush and undermine advocacy efforts.
Call out and shame the scofflaws already. They are hurting everything for which we work.
I read a great suggested comeback to that line of questioning on a post at WashCycle- it went something like this:
“I saw a driver the other day driving like a (jerk). Please respond”
It gives the person you’re talking to a chance to think about how they’re generalizing and stereotyping, without being defensive and sounding like a 3 year old “He did it first”
The Gallery is obviously embedding ads for fluorescent vests, helmets, and lights into their “plea.” Pathetic.
The Bike Gallery ad is awful in so many ways. I always shop there, but now will turn to River City and smaller local shops. Besides all the reasons you list, and being poorly written, it uses scare tactics to get people in to their shop to purchase brighter, supposedly safer and definitely uglier clothing. Bright orange? There are plenty of ways to be visibile without looking like a traffic cone. There are visible color and reflective clothing options and lights that do the job, and yet do not keep future potential riders from ever considering bikes as transportation simply because other people they see on bikes look like aliens and appear to invest hundreds of dollars in special gear.
I shop BG all the time too and will continue to do so. The ad doesn’t connect to a sale event or even remotely suggest going to BG. Many’s a time BG has referred me to City Bikes, Sellwood Cycle and, yes, even River City. They have even done swaps with RCB to get me what I needed.
Have you ever ridden Cycle Oregon? Try it some time and then complain to me about BG.
I wish it connected to a sale, BG’s prices are the WORST! I’ve switched the river city after my last trip to BG cost me an arm and a leg
Here here! Boycott BG for their plea to share the roads.
They have no right to ask such a thing.
They have every right to ask for such a thing, and you have every right to ignore them, or state your own opinion. Bike Gallery, and Jay Graves, the owner, have done a lot to advance the cause of cycling, have done a lot for the community, and like all businesses, have a decent amount of money and opportunity for advertising. They raise several good points, even if you don’t agree with them. They state fairly clearly why they think it’s important to share the road, why do you think it isn’t?
It really all comes down to being considerate about others rather than being selfish – is that really so objectionable?
This is one of the stupidest posts I’ve ever read.
I think it’s interesting that while there is a certain amount of enforcement (red light cameras at certain intersections) there doesn’t seem to be widespread education/finger-wagging directed towards drivers (or people driving cars, whatever you want to call them) about obeying traffic control devices, particularly running red light. Running red lights is far more dangerous both for the driver her/himself, and other road users, in a car than on a bike. Yesterday I saw two cars on 12th both running a red light, approaching each other, only one was turning left onto Belmont and they almost slammed into each other.
The Bike Gallery ad rubbed me the wrong way, at least partially because I think it’s more effective to advertise bright lights than bright clothing. Particularly generator lights, which are useful and extremely pragmatic. Bike Gallery should be pushing generator lighting the way Clever Cycles and citybikes do, and all the bike retailers that are not are foolish.
1) Be considerate of others.
Should be enough.
Im with you Jack… see my comment about my morning, buried deep down the list….
Pedestrians ignoring walk signals, cars running red lights or floating through stop signs, cyclists ignoring lights and stop signs (and riding too fast near pedestrians on walkways)…I’ve seen it all. I just wish everyone would follow laws that are there for our safety, and show courtesy to others in all settings.
I’m with Judy, every day I see people violating the law and, based on my observations, nobody has the moral high ground. Would everybody who has their knickers in a twist over this ad be so offended if Ron Tonkin took out an ad giving essentially the same advice to motorists? If you comply with law while riding, this ad shouldn’t offend you in the least because it’s not aimed at you.
The laws are overkill for bicycles. It’s like applying chainsaw safety rules to a butter knife.
I think also that cyclists DO have the moral high(-er) ground; we’re an order of magnitude safer for other people, measured by counting the pedestrians killed by cyclists and the pedestrians killed by autos. Don’t confuse the law with morality.
Did not Like ad. I’d suggest they stock better lights and have a sale on lights and jackets. Fun events with a free raffle. And lead the coalition of bike shops against the CRC freeway. Why preach at bikes and be so apathetic about the big $5 billion dollar picture. Jay Graves, Please join in here. Or any bike gallery staff.
Bike lights are expensive, why not suggest carrying extra BATTERIES instead. Then you don’t have to buy a second light. But I guess this IS an ad.
“At least carry extra batteries” is suggested, as if it’s somehow less preferable than spending $40 at Bike Gallery on another set of lights.
I feel that with regard to the importance and effectiveness of these safety tips, the order of this 3-step program should be reversed, but then, that would mean the most expensive step would be at the bottom instead of the top…
D’oh! So it does.. I think I was too incenced at the idea of making people think they need to buy two lights. Read right past it.
ummm… perhaps try reading the ad again.
As both a road cyclist and bicycle commuter (and driver), I welcome the call – within the bike community to its own members – to be courteous, law-abiding road users.
There a chinese proverb that goes something along the lines of ‘before complaining about neighbor’s roof, sweep own doorway.’ There’s not a lot a cyclist can do to ‘make’ a driver share the road better; but from my experiences cycling around the Metro area, there’s still plenty of room for us, as cyclists, to improve the way we present ourselves to drivers.
In the long run, the best way to positively influence those drivers who may dislike sharing the road with bicycles is probably for us as cyclists to be good partners on the road: wear helmets, use lights, obey the rules, be respectful. Sounds pretty reasonable!
What does helmet use have to do with gas burner attitudes, just wonderin’.
People driving cars definitely get annoyed when they see cyclists without helmets. I hear that all the time, especially when someone is relating a close call with a cyclist who did something dangerous and/or illegal. Nobody wants to be responsible for killing someone, no matter who is at fault.
Two things that hurt the image of cyclists: 1) no helmet and 2) headphones. Feel free to say that riding helmet-less while blasting an iPod is A-OK… the impact on driver attitude is a fact.
“Two things that hurt the image of cyclists”
I think what some of us are getting at is that while there are plenty of annoying things some or even perhaps many cyclists do (as perceived by people in cars and/or by others on bikes), the focus on this can be viewed as a distraction from the real problems on the streets, the real dangers, the fact that there are, for instance, plenty of annoying and downright dangerous habits observable everyday by those in cars. Paternalistic finger-wagging at two wheeled people implied to have low life expectancy–to some of us–seems to play into negative stereotypes that don’t advance the effort to have safer streets, or equality before the law for different modes, etc.
The ‘image of cyclists’ as you put it isn’t something to dismiss lightly, and I’m not trying to do that here. But we need to see it in context. To me reducing (dare I say eliminating) the deaths and maimings of people walking and bicycling is about an order of magnitude more important than the image of cyclists. While they may be somewhat related, the Bike Gallery is not focusing on the bigger picture but is instead offering a paternalistic (and seemingly trendy) ‘grow up cyclists’ message.
To those of us on bikes who do obey the laws, and who for the most part observe other cyclists doing the same this is grating, unfortunate, petty, and I might add, can be seen as doing as much harm to ‘the image of cyclists’ as good.
You make a good point, but I was replying to the question above: “what does helmet use have to do with gas-burner attitudes”. My answer: there is absolutely a correlation. I would also take it step further and say that the image problem does impact safety because its a barricade to infrastructure improvement. Some of the bike-lane backlash is a result of it. Not to mention carpet tacks showing up in bike lanes. Reducing the number of injuries and deaths among cyclists and improving the image of cycling are, to a certain extent, intertwined.
I get annoyed when I see teenagers wearing long hair in unnatural colors. And torn clothing. It really hurts my perception of teenagers, causing me to become annoyed at the sight of anyone between the ages of 10 and 20. Sometimes, when I see teenagers on the MAX, I feel like going over and punching them just for being there, hogging up MAX space. Where do they “need” to be after all? I wish I could withhold my taxes from paying for schools for these jerks. Why can’t they just get jobs and learn from the school of hard knocks? And get haircuts for crying out loud!
If I said the above in seriousness, who would you claim had a “problem”?
Other things that hurt the image of cyclists in the eyes of drivers:
– Riding bikes with one speed or a “fixed” gear hub
– Riding outside of a bike lane or on streets with no bike lanes or “bike paths”
– Riding with their children in approved child carriers
– Not riding with “enough” lights
– Wearing Spandex ™ or brightly-colored, tight-fitting clothing that is not a construction-style “safety” vest (it makes the cyclist look like a “Lance Armstrong” wanna-be, which is extremely annoying to drivers)
– Crossing in a crosswalk
– Wearing “skinny jeans” while riding
– Using a bike lane to pass stopped traffic on the right
– Not yielding to them when they want to right-hook you without signaling
– Riding around without license plates on their bikes
– Not paying taxes (never said the things that annoy drivers have to be real)
– Riding slower than the speed limit
– Coming out of “nowhere”
There is no end to this list
How far above and beyond legal requirements do we want to encourage people to go to appease the driving crowd and their misconceptions/biases/prejudices? There are personal safety choices we all make for ourselves, but to call on all cyclists to behave in certain ways en masse just to fit some image of how we assume “drivers” think a cyclist should act–that’s a dangerous and confining principle to start living by.
Nice, El Biciclero!
Except, you know, hair color and torn jeans are not illegal. Blowing through red lights is illegal for any road user.
Nice try, though.
You must be more persecuted than Jesus
Wayne: The thing is, you know, wearing headphones and not wearing a helmet are also not illegal. This blog uses a system of indentation to indicate that one comment is a response to another. I probably should have said that I was replying to Frank and his suggestion that cyclists all wear helmets and remove headphones “because it annoys drivers”. Not wearing a helmet and wearing headphones are (I believe) not illegal. Nothing in my list is illegal, either; I was attempting to show how far a cyclist would have to go to really not “annoy drivers”. I was suggesting that our motivation to behave in any particular way should not be to make some other group happy. I agree everyone should follow the law and make the personal choices they feel are necessary for their own safety. We should NOT be expected to do certain things which are not required by law, such as wearing helmets or gaudy colors, or riding a particular kind of bike, or whatever–just to please some other demographic so they will approve of us.
Nice tr–no, I won’t say it.
“Frank and his suggestion that cyclists all wear helmets and remove headphones because it annoys drivers”
I did not make that suggestion… at all. I do not care if people choose to wear helmets, nor do I care if people wear headphones. The question was simple: “What does helmet use have to do with gas burner attitude” and so was my answer. The helmet headphone thing are very common complaints that I hear. Most of things things on your very long list are the kinds of complaints you read on OregonLive from people who seem to have eaten leaded paint chips in their breakfast cereal. I don’t care what you do: Don’t label me bro! I’ just telling the facts: drivers whine about helmets and headphones. Can you seriously say that isn’t true? The one other thing I hear a lot of complaining about is the coasting though stop sign thing. Hell I do that! I’m no saint. Just the facts here, sheesh.
This blog also has a system that seriously limits the number of threaded replies to comments…
OK, Frank–I will take back my accusation that you are suggesting anything; I was going by the quote in your original post:
I conflated this with your accurate observation that headphones also annoy drivers. Minus accusing you of suggesting it, my position still stands: we don’t want to get so caught up in being “ambassadors” that we feel obligated to kow-tow to drivers non-legal requirements of us–the Royal Us–not to suggest there is an “Us”.
MOTRG–If your persecution comment was for me, I didn’t say anything about suffering for any of these things (except a pretty regular right hook threat); I was just compiling a list of things I’ve heard or read complaints or disparaging comments about that pertain to how people ride bikes.
Orange clothes: No, absolutely not. “Dress for the destination”, as Mikael Colville Andersen would say.
Lights: Sure, but one battery light is enough if you watch it. Or, use a generator light with a battery light. That’s what I do.
Traffic laws: Maybe. But frankly, the bike paths here in suburban Seattle are more dangerous than the roadways because of all the individuals riding as if they were the only person on the path, completely oblivious to the other people around them.
I’m a big proponent of enforcement of the laws of the road, which is almost unheard of in this city. There’s not the slightest doubt in my mind that strict enforcement, across the board, would be a way bigger shock to motorists than it would be to bikers.
Best comment of the day!!!
One of the reasons why it’s unheard of is because it’s prohibitively expensive. Many more people support greater enforcement in theory, but when one starts talking about funding it through higher taxes / fees, no one is willing to step up and pay it – and in the current economy, who can blame them? Peer pressure is generally an effective tactic, but calling out cyclists on bad behavior generally isn’t socially acceptable in Portland. (nor anywhere else – calling out a cyclist in Yellowstone who almost hit a pedestrian got me physically assaulted by the other cyclist)
I heard “words’ behind me on the bike path this very afternoon, where one cyclist was lecturing another cyclist for bad behavior. As expected, that conversation wasn’t going so well for the lecturer!
Radar photo enforcement for both speed & red light runners. Seems like thats actually a money-maker for the city, no?
Indeed, I keep my mouth shut now after being cussed out by another “biker” (they were certainly no cyclist) for running a red light in front of a bunch of stopped cars on Milwalkie where it crosses Powell.
No one likes being corrected by a peer, or worse yet someone they see as inferior (I was all lycra
Ugh, hit enter too early by mistake.
As I was saying, I was decked out in my Lycra kit and was called some choice names by the person I was correcting. It’s why expecting cyclists to correct other cyclists, and having that actually work is a silly idea at best…
Need to automate law enforcement actions as much as possible or cops will be facilitating bank robberies whilst rescuing kittens, figuratively of course.
There are police jobs that require a human touch and there are observational and reporting tasks that can easily be computerized or farmed out to a bunch of retired volunteers that would rather help their community than watch reality TV in the nursing home day room.
The technology exists to enforce nearly all traffic laws automatically with navigation system type devices. People would just have to get used to having Big Brother riding along.
I’m not sure it’s the expense because some PDs use traffic tickets as a profit center. They tend to nail out-of-town drivers, though, which doesn’t incur local antagonism. If there were a groundswell of popular support for it, I guess Portland cops could make quite a bundle by ticketing both bikes and cars with a strict enforcement policy.
“…Many more people support greater enforcement in theory, but when one starts talking about funding it through higher taxes / fees, no one is willing to step up and pay it – and in the current economy, who can blame them? …” picio
You’re right matt. Nobody wants to pay for the enforcement they call for upon being annoyed and distressed by other road users actions.
I don’t see any big deal with BG’s ad. Maus seems to want to make a mission out of getting other people to not use words like ‘cyclist’ and ‘motorists’, even though conforming to such an expectation can restrict writing and hamper creativity. Plug the words maus would prefer being used, into BG’s ad copy, for an example. Maus hasn’t yet seemed to make a big deal out of people using the word ‘pedestrian’. Why might that be?
Day-glo orange and green are fine…occasionally. A sea of people on bikes (ka-ching!)…like say, all the people on the Williams Ave or Hawthorne Bridge commute wearing only those colors? Not sure about that.
Bright, high performance, energy efficient lights are the greatest. They’re getting more convenient to use, and more affordable. 60-70 bucks at the local bike shop. Heck with short life alkaline battery lights. Lithium-ion batteries last 2-3 years. Plug the light into the computer USB port while you’re at work. Easy.
In the electronics/lights category over at bikeforums, the recommendation to carry a backup light is fairly common. Other problems besides low batteries can occur. A backup light though, seems to mainly be a serious commuter item.
And when there are cost constraints, you direct enforcement in ways that is most effective in reducing bad outcomes. Drivers kill 3000 pedestrians in a typical year, cyclists kill about one. One of those two numbers is somewhat larger than the other.
When I was in my care-about-the-law phase (about 4 decades), I twice gave chase (on a cargo bike, in my 40s, and I weigh 220lbs) to catch two red light runners to tell them “you’re making us all look bad”. Got a grunt in reply, both times (which beats a punch, but would you punch the big guy on a cargo bike who just caught your ass?). Sometime afterwards, I noticed the pedestrian mortality stats above, and I also noticed that I could hear cross traffic without even looking for it (makes me wonder why drivers are allowed to roll up your windows — it makes you effectively deaf, that is not safe, is it? I think we need a public safety campaign), and pretty much had a “screw this” reaction to the whole “bicyclists must obey traffic laws” schtick. Those laws are designed for people operating dangerous machinery in public with artificially reduced sight and hearing.
Helmet campaigns, more stupid (social) rules in ignorance of actual results. Head injuries are a big factor in auto (occupant) crash deaths, and a lot of people drive cars. A successful campaign to get drivers to wear helmets would save far more lives than the complete elimination of all cyclist fatalities. So, how about it?
More recently, on the MUP, I saw some rule-following jerk chewing out a woman on a bike, talking on her cell phone; she had successfully navigated her bike around a couple of moms with strollers so she was clearly paying attention and in control of her bike, the jerk was just pissed off because she wasn’t following his rules for riding (more likely, she was not listening for his “on your left” when he attempted to unsafely pass her as she was passing the stroller-moms — but that’s his unsafe maneuver, not hers. That’s the kind of shit that I get from impatient drivers when I pass a right-turning car on the left.)
It’s a law of observation: Bike lights seldom “die.” Rather, their batteries are gradually drained.
By paying attention to brightness and being willing to charge your batteries at home of pull over at Plaid Pantry, one can easily maintain luminance and legal compliance without purchasing redundant lights.
Seems to me Bike Gallery’s heart is in the right place but this ad falls short on sensitivity and logic.
Or one could go to Clever Cycles or another bike shop and buy a generator hub and light, and never worry about batteries again.
I take issue with the perpetuation of this “us versus them” stigma. Especially considering that Bike Gallery’s mission (according to their website) is “putting more Portlanders on bikes.”
Imagine any of the 60% of Portland residents who identify themselves as non-cyclists who are “interested but concerned” reading this ad. This doesn’t do much to encourage them. If I were a non-cyclist, I’d be content to stay out of the saddle and avoid the “hate.”
I agree there are some morons out there. Nonetheless, I don’t have anything bright orange, sorry. Other vehicles are not bright orange, utility poles are not bright orange, and most things found on the road as a matter of course are not bright orange, but people seem able to avoid them okay.
“A plea to Portland’s utility poles: Creosoted Doug fir may be all the rage on the utility-pole fashion runway, but for poles in the know, it’s all about the bright orange, babay!”
(Gahhh, like I give a crap what’s on the runway? CONDESCENDING. Why don’t I just go powder my cute little pussycat nose too.)
Also, that “new Newtonian law of nature” is usually known as good old “Murphy’s Law,” for those who’ve been out of diapers a while. Mentioning Newton only distracts me by reminding me of the actual Newton’s laws, which state that if a 4,000-lb car hits me, I’m some variation of dead meat.
This ad has one purpose only, which is to paint the Bike Gallery as having tried to “solve the cyclist problem.” A lot of people mistake them as “ambassadors” (which they’re not) for the “biking community” (which doesn’t exist) and it helps their position if they can say they’re making outreach efforts like this.
my god, this post made my day!! LOL
It’s great to know that bike shops like Bike Gallery are looking out for out best interest. This is simple, common sense advice and I appreciate the shop for reminding us and perhaps preventing a simple (or tragic) mishap. Bright or visible clothing will get me seen on the street. As a commuter I need every advantage on the front lines of our city streets. Yes, I need a good backup plan if my light fails after dark. And yes, car drivers are going to judge me by the way I ride whether I want them to or not. Those who feel that Bike Gallery is just out to sell us something should note that the shop is offering this advice in support of the BTA Bike Commute Challenge. Why wah wah over a business that is trying to show they care?
There’s no way i’m wearing any orange clothing, even if it’s a cool band shirt. Terrible color for clothes. Ride safe, and carry extra batteries if you’re really that worried – you don’t need 2 sets of lights… DUH
The ‘riding to the right’ admonition indicates to me that the filling the word quota was more important to the Bike Gallery than keeping this high level.
I think you’re on to something, Jonathan.
none of these examples you’ve stumbled upon speak to enforcement, better infrastructure, more equitable laws. They all instead focus rather asymmetrically on making nice, being considerate (with all the little unfortunate stereotypes and divisions you note).
Georg Lakoff would, I think, note the paternalistic tone of these messages too. People riding bikes are treated implicitly like children. No one would dream of telling people in cars what to wear, where to ride, to top off the tank, act like a boy scout etc.
Yes, the paternalistic tone bothered me too. This has to be the worst BG ad ever -message, execution, layout : all bad. I don’t understand what they think they’ll accomplish with it. I could imagine getting the same message out in a more humorous way – a fun pic of someone dressed in orange with a traffic cone on their head maybe – and having a more positive response. But the “We know better than you” tone really turned me off.
I think this ad is aimed at the “interested but concerned” group. BG is just trying to defuse some of the recent tensions and get everyone to sing Kumbaya so that perhaps more people will ride and they can expand their market. “Cars won’t hurt you if you’re polite, brightly dressed, and lawful”, etc. That’s a message that “concerned” group can probably relate to because right now they’re seeing things from the motorist’s perspective.
Frankly, I’m not hugely bothered by any of it. I think perhaps it could be done a little better and with more sensitivity, but I’m not going to avoid their shops just because of it.
And +1 to generator lights.
Meh. Would YOU be encouraged to do something that requires bright orange safety gear and obsequious politeness to your betters? Doesn’t sound fun OR practical.
it would also be worth checking in with the rest of the (non-US) world to see how they handle this ‘situation’; to see how paternalistically (or not) their authorities approach this.
Take a deep breath all. Nothing scary in their ad. You certainly don’t have to wear orange and you don’t have to buy lights or clothes from Bike Gallery; it is just common sense. The third bullet on the ad is common sense as well and why everyone has a fit when someone or some group mentions it has always astonished me. Don’t give them (and by them I mean drivers including myself and anyone else who drives and is a bike rider, most of us correct?) a reason to get mad because we (the riders) break the law. Sure it is a ad but a good reminder and I still wonder why we don’t obey the laws; why does riding a bike give us a get-out-of jail card? Maybe Capthardcore can answer that, the answer escapes me.
“I still wonder why we don’t obey the laws; why does riding a bike give us a get-out-of jail card? ”
Speak for yourself, dude.
Got your back 9watts, that is soooo wrong in soooo many ways.
I trust Mia.
Cycling has come a long way, but I’m sensing a growing backlash. When I talk to my friends at work, most of whom know I’m a bike commuter, sooner or later the topic of “idiot cyclists” comes up. Yeah, cars are stupid too, but claiming that we can be stupid because they’re stupid sounds a lot like the Balkans where your grandfather killed my uncle, so I can kill your son. That kind of attitude leads to chaos.
I can’t control what cars do, but I can control what I do. A little good manners goes a long way, snarly behavior and bad attitude only makes enemies. Bikes need friends out there, not more enemies.
We can laugh at Bike Gallery for their suggestions, but I run into ninjas all the time in the dark winter commute, and sooner or later they’ll take me, or themselves, down. Bike safety in the dark winter is a topic that needs discussing, not nit picking. You don’t like orange, try radioactive lime green.
We can do better.
My Grandmother of Shawnee Indian blood from the tribe of Black Bob, would say to my Irish Grandfather, ” What’s this we stuff White Man? ” that is not a cliched joke . for reeeelz.
I wear stylish blue & black only, but it’s retro-reflective and stands out like a schoolbus (just before that driver texting that awfully GD’d important message creams me).
I think it’s important to examine the context of an “idiot cyclist” versus an “idiot motorist”. A cyclist running a red light or stop sign may hit a pedestrian or a car, but chances are that collision won’t be life threatening (as compared to car). The danger that cyclists pose by riding dangerously are FAR less threatening in all regards than a motorist doing the same thing. I don’t believe people who condemn cyclists are considering the same dangers when a car is involved.
People need to relax.
nothing new here. ignoring the bull. after all, if your lights or bright clothes are for one reason or another obscured, say by a blind spot or windshield pillar, then the law isn’t gonna be on your side.
This article is pure flame bait.
only to those who are chronically aggrieved over perceived slights.
Awesome. Excellent ad.
Yes to any and all ads to this effect.
Even if bicyclists didn’t have to worry about disrespect from car drivers, it’s smart to have headlights, bright clothing, helmet, and stop at stop signs.
A high percentage of bicyclists in Portland run stop signs fast, disrespectfully, and frequently.
While it may not be necessary to stop at all stop signs and wear bright orange and have 2 headlights, sometimes you need to oversell to get the message across. If you ask for this, you might get folks wearing one bright garment, slowing for stop signs, and having one headlight.
Failing to yield at stop signs can kill you.
Given that there’s more bicyclists all the time, and, if anything, an increase in the speed at which the average bicyclist runs stop signs, running stop signs will certainly kill more Portlanders in the next couple years unless there’s an effort somewhere, by some group, to curb it. We can all start this movement by slowing down a lot more than the average bicyclist, and lighting ourselves more than the average. Peer pressure works.
Plus it will help keep you alive. Your friends and dependents may thank you for it.
Thanks Bike Gallery,
I admit that other cyclists running stop signs is irritating, but the way I see it, it’s their choice / their responsibility. They’re old enough to know better…if they persist, it’s really up to them.
Having said that, if I get t-boned by a ninja cyclist running a stop sign in the dark this winter, I will be less than pleased.
Actually this is big fear of mine on N.E. Going in the morning. I don’t how many times I’ve almost had collisions with other cyclists who run the stop signs, and have poor or no lighting.
Me too. Riding in Inner N/Inner NE at night I often give a quiet jingle with my bell when approaching intersections where cross traffic has to stop. I see way to many bicyclists busting through stop signs in these areas at night.
I almost T-boned a bicycle when riding N on Vancouver at Farragut a couple years ago. Scared the crap out of me — I’d have been in the hospital for sure if I’d have T-boned him at 20 mph. I had a light, but it was midnight and there were parked cars on the street. He just sauntered out of his driveway without looking, because the night was very quiet and he could hear that there were no cars anywhere in the neighborhood.
Since then I always ride near the yellow line when riding on deserted streets at midnight…
Me too. Riding in Inner N/Inner NE at night I often give a quiet jingle with my bell when approaching intersections where cross traffic has to stop. I see way to many bicyclists busting through stop signs in these areas at night.
I almost T-boned a bicycle when riding N on Vancouver at Farragut a couple years ago. Scared the crap out of me — I’d have been in the hospital for sure if I’d have T-boned him at 20 mph. I had a light, but it was midnight and there were parked cars on the street blocking he and I from seeing each other. He just sauntered out of his driveway without looking, presumably because the night was very quiet and he figured he could hear any approaching traffic.
Since then I always ride near the yellow line when riding on deserted streets at midnight…
still waiting for Ron Tonkin to take out a full page ad urging customers who own grey cars to repaint them yellow.
well, those cars have legally required reflectors and lights built into them already.
“What struck me about it is how PBOT continues to divide up road users based solely on their chosen mode of travel. I think that’s a bad move.”
I walk, I bike, I drive. I appreciate the specific instruction for what specific behavior I need to cultivate with each mode.
The Specific Instructions For What Specific Aspirational Behaviors Ted Needs To Cultivate, By Mode:
Walk – You’re an upstanding member of your community and have several pairs of sensible shoes. But you’ll need to work on your patience… One of those cars will yield eventually! Hang in there!
Bike – You’re hip, healthy and active, but your clothes are way too dark. Lighten up!! Remember, you’re representing everybody who’s ever ridden a bike! (Is that a u-lock in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?)
Drive – You may not be 100% paying attention at all times, but hey, you’re just driving –nobody expects too much! The roadways are yours for the taking, because you’re the only one who pays for them. The freedom, rolling down the highway, lookin’ for adventure… Now would be a perfect time to send a text!
Ah, there’s the respectful dialog JMaus likes to see on his site.
&, if any of ya’all are riding without lights tonight, I’ll add my personal suggestion —
Get a light.
I’m delighted that I see dozens of bicyclists wherever I go, riding beautiful bikes and looking happy and fit.
But the 25% of ya’all I see at night who are riding without lights (and that’s a huge number of people) really owe it to yourself to get lit.
I giggle every time I see someone dressed up as a road cone. Stop being so afraid of riding a bike, Portland. It’s really not that dangerous.
Seconded. It’s nowhere near as dangerous as people make it out to be, ESPECIALLY in Portland. One thing I’ve learned while bike touring is that Portland has far more infrastructure, better drivers, and easier riding conditions than most places in the US, excepting some cities like Missoula or Fort Collins. (and presumably the Twin Cities)
Missoula is a very bicycle friendly town but by no means is it a bicycle safe town. Dig a little deeper and you will see that the fatal bicycle-vehicle interaction is all to common to read in the morning paper. Usually the fatality is on the bicyclists side and the motorists feigns trumped up remorse(most of the time getting away scott free to continue being a good little capitalist). Like my old friend ec once told me,” they’re all trying to kill you”.
I was just discussing that with my brother last night and MISSING MISSOULA – probably the best place to live and cycle in North America – just doesn’t get the headlines because it isn’t over 100,000 people
Not a surprise – I didn’t expect to say so many sidewalk-wrong-way-riding cyclists, but Missoula has a *lot* of them, and a lot of cyclists who disregard all of the laws designed to manage traffic. It isn’t bike-unfriendly for lack of infrastructure, though – it’s more due to the way people interact on the roads and the choices they make on how to operate their vehicles.
Hmm, you say that as though no one here ever gets hit by a car…which sadly is far from true.
The infrastructure here is fine, if you call 4 feet of shoulder infrastructure. Drivers’ reluctance to take the extra 3 seconds to look for cyclists is the issue, and dressing up like a road cone can help with that.
Anyway, glad to provide some light entertainment for my black-clad cycling brethren.
presumably, jonathan, you are not asking pedestrians to slow down.
the fact is that there are three distinct modes in play here, and the fact is that most motorists are not also cyclists and many cyclists are not also motorists and neither thinks much about the needs of pedestrians. so the us versus them thing is a valid meme, and papering it over with circumlocutions accomplishes not much.
that being said, i find the ad unhelpful, largely because it is placed where many nonmotorists will see it and take away the message that a cyclist who does not wear orange or hide at the edge of the road is an outlaw even among bike shop owners. as others have noted, the paternalistic tone does also somewhat offend.
the third item is actually a fairly close paraphrase of the statute, 814.430, but it gives an entirely wrong impression to anyone not sufficiently schooled in vehicular cycling principles (there, i said it), because it is anyone’s guess what “safely” means. unless the right travel lane is at least fourteen feet wide, it means asserting enough of the lane that a motorist is required to put a wheel over the center line in order to pass, which means the motorist has to think twice.
i generally shop the community cycling center or citybikes, and i do my own repairs at the bikefarm, so i have not much need for the gallery. but i would be very pleased to see any shop buy a competing ad that explains the principle i just sketched in the preceding paragraph. that would actually be a helpful message, not only to the motoring public but to cyclists as well. instead we get the usual baiting.
I like the ad. ESPECIALLY number three. We need to do a better job of selling ourselves. Currently our on the road PR skills are horrible.
Wow, I’ve always wanted a bike shop to act like my over-protective and out-of-touch grandmother.
But neither Rapha or Assos make anything in Orange. What are we to do???
biking is not a crime.. ride more.. obey something. 🙂
TGIF.. I have a BG hat and it scares me to wear it now, lol.
If you ran a lifestyle business that experiences the number of bad outcomes as road cycling has as its history; and you wanted to contribute your part to making it better, do you deserve brickbats or acknowledgement?
One of the things that distinguish Portland from other places I have been is that the bike shop owners are cyclists as well as business people, as opposed to business people who sell bikes. BikeGallery, as well as every other bike related business wants to see their customers enjoy cycling as well as be safe. These aren’t mutually exclusive messages.
Changing the level of discussion from heated rhetoric to well considered discussion takes time and willingness to make the transition. I view BGs ad campaign as a tentative first step. And a brave one.
I agree with G Man – the backlash is getting stronger. The resentment seems to be growing, and getting more vocal. And in Seattle, too, perhaps even more strongly. Not that it’s all cyclists’ fault — it’s mostly unjustified — but it’s out there, and brat cyclists are definitely contributing to the problem.
We’ve already had lots of discussion last week about how peer pressure is utterly useless to combat rogue cyclist behavior, and so seems law enforcement except for the easy target of picking off people who rolling through stop signs.
So I’m all for the ad. I’m not seeing any better ideas at the moment. Condescending? Sure! About effing time someone talked down to the hooligans!
Fashion: I can’t believe all the orange haters. It’s one of my favorite colors (heck, one of my bikes is orange). It you really do hate orange, then don’t get all defensive, just wear bright yellow which is just about as good. Highway workers, who might be on to something, wear BOTH — and we’re just about as vulnerable.
I don’t really give a s*** if I’m fashionable or ugly on the road, and I’ve never understood people who do (nor have I ever understood all the people who are terribly concerned about the image their car projects) … fashion follows function IMO. It’s not like I don’t change out of the orange, yellow and reflective stuff when I get to the office anyway. But then I was given the nickname “GlowBoy”, so I might have pretty strong opinions on the matter.
Thing is – the actual cyclists who die are not the supposed rogues. People riding sensibly, following the rules in bike lanes or along major bike routes die when cars crash into them. That’s what we’ve seen in Seattle-King County. Meanwhile, dozens of pedestrians and hundreds of car drivers and passengers die every year in car crashes. It’s the cars, folks. Tame the cars.
I am with you Jack. I was wearing my completely black outfit today, ( like i have since seeing the Ramones in ’75, yeah im that old!) when, OMG!! a motorist blew through the intersection ( way, way in excess of the posted speed limit.)I WAS HALFWAY INTO while crossing with the right of way. The eighty some odd year old man that witnessed this, ( also a motorist) looked at me and gave me a knowing WTF shrug. Life goes on..I ride in black, live in black.see only black, own 36 bicycles ,9 of which are black…. bike gallerys ad is obsurd IMO. peace.
What I’d really like to see is an ad reminding cyclists to stop for pedestrians who are crossing with blinking lights/striped pavement. We have two such lit crossings by my house and cyclists never stop for me (pushing a stroller) despite it being the law at such an intersection. Often I have to wait for the cyclist who is clearly not going to stop even though cars have. It’s apparently not something most cyclists feel applies to them. These two areas are on E Burnside/24th and NE 28th and Everett. I see this happen to other pedestrians too. A whole slew of cars will sit there waiting for us to cross while cyclists blow through. NE 28th is the worst. There have been several near misses for pedestrians.
Jonathan, You know you love to put a wedge between cyclists and motorists. You do it all the time here. You can’t continue to stoke the fire and plead your innocence at the same time. And if someone calls you out on your BS stop playing the victim!!!!
Whatever the opinions of responders here, I applaud JM for being willing to examine the attitudes and behaviors of advertisers and famous names “in the bicycling community” whatever that is. Refreshing in the current limp wimp state of most”journalism”.
Bike Gallery sells jackets and jerseys in black and gray. Bike Gallery sells whatever people in their market will buy.
Right now it’s trying to sell stuff to newish commuters in the bike-commute challenge. This is the market who will buy orange, or expensive extra lights so they feel better about their “life expectancy.” This is the market who is likely to stop and put both their feet down at all stop signs. This might even be the market that rides so far to the right they’re on the sidewalk.
Make no mistake about it. This ad and all business ads are about one thing in the end and one thing only: the bottom line. Archer Daniels Midland feeds the world. Bike Gallery helps us stay alive. PR that tugs emotional strings is effective.
Uhhh I like bright lights so I can see where the hell I am going in the dark. Sorry if that is dorky to you.
Why do bike shops feel compled to promulgate such messages? Auto shops do not.
I do not have to accept responsibility for all cyclists behavior, any more than i have to accept responsibility all drivers behavior.
I think I agree with the editorial, and screw driver backlash. When oil is $200 a barrel we’ll all be on bikes.
Meh. Not likely. It’s all relative… I remember a time when people complained about cable costing $40 a month, and I am not that old.
Perhaps this is ad is simply a message to all the “car drivers” who think that “cyclists” break laws all the time that “we” are trying to police ourselves? If so, I’d say that’s a fine idea. Perception is reality. Half of the above comments appear to be from an episode of Portlandia………..so smug. Wow. Please do your best to explore life beyond the cycling bubble that you live in here.
Thanks mom. Now on with life.
I only wish in my life I have done these words justice. I do best the things I practice most (not all of which are good).
I think Jonathan clearly identified that BG, while a good source in the Portland market offered good common sense: Be seen, Be prepared, and Do unto others… intertwined with skillful marketing.
Also noting that the propaganda put out by the PBOT futher polarizes each mode of transportation with the nanny effect. The current road use laws are sufficient without the bureau’s critlque of proper edicate.
I cant wait to get my first ticket for not waiving and smiling at an automoble driver who “shows me the slightest shred of courtesy”. Much less “j”walking and poor eye contact implemented with photo enforcement.
I guess my point is if it’s “common sense” it would seem that BG and PBOT need to publicly post reminders to themselves.
Another way PBOT could have written it, “When you are driving your car…” and When you are riding your bike…” This gives the reader the idea that they can do both things. Lot’s of US do!
Agggh, these comments are so predictable and tiring. Doesn’t matter the topic, same people saying the same things, taking the same positions and oppositions.
…and you? What are you adding to the discussion? Thanks for taking the time.
And your response?
Time to blow through a stop sign. Need a fix.
Wow. Chill folks. It’s just an ad.
Would be nice if everyone (cars and bikes) obeyed traffic laws, though. Makes for dangerous roads without them.
I’d like to see the sneaker company ad asking joggers and walkers to kindly not walk/run 4 across on the esplanade. That would be nice.
A minority of Portland cyclists are of the Lake Wobegon, Ayn Rand spouting, your rules don’t apply to me school. I applaud those who actually pay attention and make it easier for all of us.
about the Bike Gallery ad: I side with Lisa on this one… they’re targeting new riders, for revenue… those that have been pedaling on the pavement for years know that it’s just advertising, those that are new know that those things are a good idea… we all know what we all know… (:
about the SmartTrips mailing: yes, the people in all those modes CAN do all those things… it’s true… but the Bicycles section should have included “can use the entire traffic lane to ride in”…
about Mia: I think it’s great that she doesn’t think bicycles need to stop at stop signs… I took her pledge…