Splendid Cycles

Bike Gallery uses ad to make ‘Plea to Portland Cyclists’

Posted by on September 22nd, 2011 at 5:08 pm

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?

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  • capthardcore September 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    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.

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    • John Mulvey September 22, 2011 at 6:03 pm

      Where’s that thumbs down button when I need it?

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      • Matt September 22, 2011 at 6:43 pm

        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!

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      • middle of the road guy September 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm

        this was directed at cyclists….there are other materials for ‘drivers’.

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    • Wayne Myer September 22, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      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.

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      • cycler September 23, 2011 at 6:23 am

        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”

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    • Plutarco Sr. September 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      The Gallery is obviously embedding ads for fluorescent vests, helmets, and lights into their “plea.” Pathetic.

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  • Schrauf September 22, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    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.

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    • Matt September 22, 2011 at 6:46 pm

      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.

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      • Chris W September 22, 2011 at 7:05 pm

        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

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    • Mike September 23, 2011 at 9:03 am

      Here here! Boycott BG for their plea to share the roads.
      They have no right to ask such a thing.

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      • matt picio September 26, 2011 at 9:00 am

        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?

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    • james September 26, 2011 at 8:05 am

      This is one of the stupidest posts I’ve ever read.

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  • Esther September 22, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    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.

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  • Jack September 22, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    1) Be considerate of others.

    Should be enough.

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    • sorebore September 22, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      Im with you Jack… see my comment about my morning, buried deep down the list….

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    • Judy Jensen September 25, 2011 at 8:38 am

      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.

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      • JRB September 27, 2011 at 8:08 am

        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.

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        • dr2chase September 27, 2011 at 8:16 am

          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.

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  • Joe Rowe September 22, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    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.

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  • KJ September 22, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    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.

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    • Christopher September 22, 2011 at 6:33 pm

      “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…

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      • KJ September 23, 2011 at 10:04 am

        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.

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    • naess September 22, 2011 at 6:35 pm

      ummm… perhaps try reading the ad again.

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  • Frank M September 22, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    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!

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    • captainkarma September 22, 2011 at 10:15 pm

      What does helmet use have to do with gas burner attitudes, just wonderin’.

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      • Frank September 23, 2011 at 9:16 am

        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.

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        • 9watts September 23, 2011 at 9:31 am

          “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.

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          • Frank September 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm

            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.

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        • El Biciclero September 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm

          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)
          – Existing
          – 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”
          – etc…

          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.

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          • 9watts September 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm

            Nice, El Biciclero!

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          • Wayne Myer September 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm

            Except, you know, hair color and torn jeans are not illegal. Blowing through red lights is illegal for any road user.

            Nice try, though.

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          • middle of the road guy September 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm

            You must be more persecuted than Jesus

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          • El Biciclero September 23, 2011 at 2:24 pm

            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.

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          • Frank September 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm

            “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.

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          • El Biciclero September 23, 2011 at 6:35 pm

            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:

            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!

            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.

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  • TN September 22, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    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.

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  • John Mulvey September 22, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    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.

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    • ron September 22, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      Best comment of the day!!!

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    • matt picio September 22, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      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)

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      • TN September 22, 2011 at 9:49 pm

        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!

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      • captainkarma September 22, 2011 at 10:19 pm

        Radar photo enforcement for both speed & red light runners. Seems like thats actually a money-maker for the city, no?

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        • A.K. September 22, 2011 at 10:57 pm

          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

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          • A.K. September 22, 2011 at 10:59 pm

            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…

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        • q`Tzal September 22, 2011 at 11:51 pm

          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.

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          • gumby September 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm

            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.

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      • Alan 1.0 September 22, 2011 at 10:23 pm

        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.

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      • wsbob September 23, 2011 at 1:10 am

        “…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.

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      • dr2chase September 24, 2011 at 8:02 pm

        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.)

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  • otis September 22, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    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.

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    • matt picio September 22, 2011 at 7:54 pm

      Or one could go to Clever Cycles or another bike shop and buy a generator hub and light, and never worry about batteries again.

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  • bagel September 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    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.”

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  • Rol September 22, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    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.

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    • Jay September 23, 2011 at 7:23 am

      my god, this post made my day!! LOL

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  • Clodhoppper September 22, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    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?

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  • Ryan M. September 22, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    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

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  • 9watts September 22, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    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.

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    • mudlips September 22, 2011 at 7:04 pm

      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.

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  • dwainedibbly September 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    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.

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    • Noelle September 23, 2011 at 11:54 am

      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.

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      • 9watts September 23, 2011 at 11:58 am

        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.

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  • Bob the Biker September 22, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    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.

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    • 9watts September 22, 2011 at 7:12 pm

      “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.

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      • sorebore September 22, 2011 at 10:14 pm

        Got your back 9watts, that is soooo wrong in soooo many ways.

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  • G Man September 22, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    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.

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    • sorebore September 22, 2011 at 10:20 pm

      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.

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    • captainkarma September 22, 2011 at 10:28 pm

      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).

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    • JadedEvan September 23, 2011 at 11:59 am

      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.

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  • Matt September 22, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    People need to relax.

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  • mikeybikey September 22, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    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.

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  • sabes September 22, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    This article is pure flame bait.

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    • middle of the road guy September 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm

      only to those who are chronically aggrieved over perceived slights.

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  • Chris September 22, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Awesome. Excellent ad.

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  • Ted Buehler September 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    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,

    Ted Buehler

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    • dan September 22, 2011 at 7:43 pm

      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.

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      • Hugh Johnson September 22, 2011 at 8:58 pm

        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.

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        • Ted Buehler September 22, 2011 at 11:43 pm

          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…

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      • Ted Buehler September 22, 2011 at 11:54 pm

        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…

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  • Bjorn September 22, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    still waiting for Ron Tonkin to take out a full page ad urging customers who own grey cars to repaint them yellow.

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    • middle of the road guy September 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      well, those cars have legally required reflectors and lights built into them already.

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  • Ted Buehler September 22, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Jonathan wrote
    “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.”

    But necessary.

    I walk, I bike, I drive. I appreciate the specific instruction for what specific behavior I need to cultivate with each mode.

    Ted Buehler

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    • John Mulvey September 22, 2011 at 8:48 pm

      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!

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      • Kristen September 23, 2011 at 10:28 am

        Ah, there’s the respectful dialog JMaus likes to see on his site.

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  • Ted Buehler September 22, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    &, 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.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Hart Noecker September 22, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    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.

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    • matt picio September 22, 2011 at 7:57 pm

      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)

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      • bradford September 23, 2011 at 9:38 am

        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”.

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        • Paul in the 'couve September 23, 2011 at 12:09 pm

          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

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        • matt picio September 28, 2011 at 11:07 am

          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.

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    • Dan September 23, 2011 at 3:03 am

      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.

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  • are September 22, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    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.

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  • timbo September 22, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    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.

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  • FauxPorteur September 22, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Wow, I’ve always wanted a bike shop to act like my over-protective and out-of-touch grandmother.

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  • Peder Horner September 22, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    But neither Rapha or Assos make anything in Orange. What are we to do???

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  • Joe September 22, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    biking is not a crime.. ride more.. obey something. 🙂
    TGIF.. I have a BG hat and it scares me to wear it now, lol.

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  • Joe Adamski September 22, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    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.

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  • GlowBoy September 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    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.

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  • bikefish September 22, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    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.

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  • sorebore September 22, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    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.

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  • Jc September 22, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    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.

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  • Mike September 22, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    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!!!!

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  • captainkarma September 22, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    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”.

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  • Lisa September 23, 2011 at 5:37 am

    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.

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    • Hugh Johnson September 23, 2011 at 11:40 pm

      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.

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  • Cheney119 September 23, 2011 at 6:03 am

    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.

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  • rider x September 23, 2011 at 6:09 am

    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.

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  • Paul September 23, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Thanks mom. Now on with life.

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  • Rainfish Umbrella September 23, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Rainfish Umbrella

    1) Be considerate of others.
    Should be enough.
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    Jack is right. Every thing you need to know in life you learned by the 3rd grade.
    Luke 6:31 ” And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise”.
    Recommended 0Comment awaiting moderation.

    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.

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  • Huck Bales September 23, 2011 at 7:30 am


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  • Huck Bales September 23, 2011 at 7:32 am

    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!

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  • Jerry_W September 23, 2011 at 8:04 am

    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.

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    • 9watts September 23, 2011 at 8:13 am

      …and you? What are you adding to the discussion? Thanks for taking the time.

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      • Mike September 23, 2011 at 9:27 am

        And your response?

        Time to blow through a stop sign. Need a fix.

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  • Jim F September 23, 2011 at 8:22 am

    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.

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  • tb September 23, 2011 at 8:23 am

    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.

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  • Spiffy September 23, 2011 at 8:24 am

    What do you think?

    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…

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  • Andy September 23, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I like it. If we want the full respect of all road users, we have to be part of the “all users” category.

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    • 9watts September 23, 2011 at 8:45 am

      Um, and what makes you think ‘we’ aren’t? The Bike Gallery’s paternalistic characterization of ‘us’ as traffic toddlers?

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      • Mike September 23, 2011 at 9:42 am

        I can tell you why I don’t think “we” are acting the part of “all users”, but I don’t think you are really asking.

        Why do you feel so insulted by this BG ad? IF it does not apply to you, then what’s the big deal? There are a lot of cyclists in PDX that could use a little paternalistic (or maternalistic) guidance.

        Also (not directed at you 9watts)- Why is it that drivers are lumped into a category because some speed and some don’t obey traffic laws, but if one were to try and do that with cyclists, then it’s not fair or accurate?

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        • are September 23, 2011 at 9:05 pm

          because it reinforces a negative stereotype, and it gives poor information on the far to right law, thereby telling the noncyclist reading the ad that what i am doing is wrong, and that my older brother over at the gallery has called me out on it, but i am ignoring him. very unhelpful.

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  • El Biciclero September 23, 2011 at 9:02 am

    1. Car ads may make it look like speeding and daredevil driving are the way to get ahead and impress others, but reckless driving doesn’t cut it on streets shared with other users. Speed and careless driving are factors in x out of every y traffic crashes. Remember: you’re driving a multi-ton missile; please slow down and use due caution. The life you save could be yours…or mine.

    2. There’s lots of scenery to enjoy on the road; let’s make sure everyone sticks around to enjoy it. Let’s face it: distracted and inattentive driving are big problems today. Drivers need to make sure to see the entire roadway picture, including bicyclists and pedestrians, at all times. Please put the cell phone down and look before you leap–and signal those turns and lane changes!

    3. We all drive around according to the laws we “remember” from “when I learned to drive…”, but the fact is, laws change and we all forget some things. Before you get mad at that cyclist for doing something “illegal”, are you sure it’s illegal? Lots of things cyclists do might cause momentary inconvenience for motorists, but there are legal reasons why cyclists are allowed and may choose to ride in a particular way. Pick up the latest copies of the Oregon Driver’s and Bicyclist’s manuals at your local DMV to find out what’s really going on out there!

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  • Frank September 23, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Nearly got mowed down this AM by a driver blinded by the sun. I was sporting black on gray with a black helmet that really brings out the black in my shoes. Dressing like a crossing guard or traffic cone would not have helped me one bit. I actually bought that stuff when I first started riding but decided that looking like a parolee doing community service doesn’t actually improve safety and when I arrive people expect me to install their cable or climb a telephone pole or something. Lights plus reflectors is all one needs.

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  • Dave September 23, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Ted Buehler
    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.http://bikeportland.org/2009/05/14/fatal-bikecar-crash-near-ne-prescott-and-57th-18634
    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,
    Ted Buehler

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    Well said–and to back it up, Jay should quit selling earth-toned clothing and be willing to have salespeople speak strongly to the point of pushiness about “real bicycle lighting” vs. “cycling flashlights.”

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    • GlowBoy September 23, 2011 at 10:58 am

      I have no problem with BG carrying earth toned clothing. Unlike running red lights, cutting close to pedestrians and riding at night without lighting, it’s perfectly legal to wear not-very-visible clothing.

      I don’t understand why someone would choose to wear earth-toned or black clothing in poor visibility conditions, though, and I would also hope their salespeople encourage buyers to get the bright stuff.

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  • Chris September 23, 2011 at 10:15 am

    I agree with your points but see poor behavior on a regular basis out of cyclists. Just yesterday while riding up SW Broadway and passing over the 405 bridge a cyclist in front of me screamed very loudly at a driver of a car that had his tires sitting (he was stopped) about 6″ over the white bike lane line. Said rider then proceeded to run through the red light heading up towards Terwillger. It is a two way street folks, if you expect perfection out of other road users then you better ride the talk.

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  • Patrick McMahon September 23, 2011 at 10:20 am

    I was more fond of the Eye to Eye Pledge that BTA and WPC had. It focused less on the letter of the law and more on respect for and yielding to fellow road users. I’m sorry to see the SeeingEyeToEye.org site has been taken down and the pledge doesn’t seem to be on BTA or WBC’s sites.

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  • Kristen September 23, 2011 at 10:41 am

    So BG is trying to encourage newbies for the Bike Commute Challenge. Big deal. I’m going to wear what I always wear, thanks for the reminder about checking my batteries, and thank you for the reminder about being a courteous road user.

    So PBOT is trying to remind people about whatever it is they wanted to remind them about. And, o horrors! they “labeled” people! Sigh. Again, big deal. I suppose they could have used “when you are riding/walking/driving” instead or “people of internal combustion engine” “people of two-wheeled human-poweredness” or some such, but I imagine they had a word count limit they needed to keep it under to have it be included at all.

    I can’t see how either of these things is anything other than a non-issue– and people are way to sensitive about the strangest things sometimes.

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  • Mia Birk September 23, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Feel free to read my entire Tribune column, which is specifically about red light running. http://www.portlandtribune.com/sustainable/story_2nd.php?story_id=131571717757947500

    Note that my previous Tribune column was about evolving our thinking about stop signs to reflect the reality that people on bikes do not need to come to a complete stop to be safe. Took a ton of flack for it.

    Many of you have heard me speak or read what I’ve written about this over many years and in various ways. It’s not a simple issue, as it’s tied up with our infrastructure, habits, and ingrained opinions about behavior. All of us, no matter how we get around, take liberties with the law as interpreted strictly. It’s the truly obvious and egregious behaviors that harm our reputation collectively. That is why I focus the pledge on red light running and using lights at night, as well as reinforcing the positive behavior and courtesy shown by many. There is a companion pledge for us when we drive, which is focused on slowing down, stopping for people on foot, acting patiently and courteously around people on bikes, and not talking/texting. Note that I use the terminology “people in cars” and “people on bikes,” and frame it as a collective mission, since we all drive/walk/bike/take transit and we can all behave better, no matter how we get around.

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    • tacoma September 23, 2011 at 10:38 pm

      There may be some that understand this background information already but thank you for taking the time to explain for the rest of us and to put your opinions in context. Much appreciated.

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  • John Landolfe September 23, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I agree with the statements people are making about a lack of infrastructure, but the concept of personal responsibility needs addressing.

    These communications, while well intentioned, further the perception that people on bikes break traffic laws more than the rest of road users. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Drunk driving is an epidemic committed by exponentially more people and causing exponentially more harm than bikes ever could. Messages that try to shine a light on the shortcomings of all road users, without mentioning this, are giving a blindside to the number one issue that each individual can do something about.

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  • Jazz September 23, 2011 at 11:40 am

    ” 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”. ”

    Seconded, Captkarma. JM, I always appreciate your efforts to analyze all products of Portland’s bike culture with more depth and thought than any other news source. I also tend to agree with you. Not everybody will, but your giving your articles some forethought and personal touch makes for more interesting reading.

    To everyone else: calling attention to potentially problematic features of any effort is not to destroy that effort but to think critically and start a discussion. thinking is good and does not have to be hostile. I do not think that JM was coming from a hostile place with this, just raising questions. that doesn’t mean anyone’s uptight or needs to relax.

    It’s why I read BikePortland; not for what happened, but to examine questions within bike culture that are not purely black and white. Thanks to everyone as always for contributing to a lively and informative discussion.

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    • 9watts September 23, 2011 at 11:45 am

      very nicely put, Jazz.

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  • ac September 23, 2011 at 11:55 am

    G Man
    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.

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    i’m quoting gman because it deserves rereading

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  • Jacob September 23, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I agree with most of these suggestions (really that’s all they are). Living in Santa Cruz CA, the proportion of unlit cyclists compared to PDX is insane, I’d say almost 50-60% of cyclists I see at night here don’t have lights, or reflectors.
    I’m a cyclist most of the time here, but I’m also a pedestrian. I’ve almost been tagged several times by a ninja cyclist riding on the sidewalk in heavy fog (we’re on the coast, heavy fog is almost a nightly occurrence) while I was walking.
    Also, while riding I’ve had several near misses with wrong way ninja cyclists.
    Oh how I miss riding in PDX, while there are many “scofflaw” cyclists there, it seems to me there are MANY more here, proportionally.

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    • 9watts September 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      “almost 50-60% of cyclists I see at night here don’t have lights, or reflectors…”
      …and there’s no carnage (or none I’ve heard of) Amazing.

      Lights and reflective strips on bike and clothing is all good, don’t get me wrong. I just have to point out that what with the scary near misses folks keep reporting on there seems to be a notable absence of injuries or deaths associated with all this deplorable behavior.

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  • shirtsoff September 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    While riding on NE Going this morning to work, I saw so many cross traffic car operators roll through the stop signs. Only two out of ten cars came to a complete stop and that was because they saw that I was in the intersection with the right-of-way. Based on my observations, car operators are a lawless bunch with no respect for the rules of the road unless it has a financial incentive. Please, share the road.

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  • roger noehren September 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Yesterday I waited (at a stop sign) to turn onto Clinton Street for an approaching car being driven into the setting sun by a young woman applying her mascara using the rearview mirror. She wasn’t totally inattentive however, because she caught a glimpse of me imitating her out the corner of her eye and placed one hand on the steering wheel as she cruised by.

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  • Ryno Dan September 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm
  • bobcycle September 23, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    IMO The feeling seems to be if cyclists obeyed all the laws auto drivers would love “us”. I don’t believe it. Some auto drivers will complain no matter what. Others will tolerate “us” no matter what. Does Ron Tompkin take out adds asking auto drivers to please drive at 55 mph on state hiways that are posted as such? Does AAA write endless articles about scoflaw auto drivers? Is anyone saying all drivers are driving drunk? or that drunk drivers are giving the rest of the drivers a bad name? My point is we should end the discussion of cyclists bad habits and move on. If bad cyclists are giving the rest of “us” a bad name its because people are making false and erroneous conclusions and vast generalizations. Sorry but that’s not my fault and there is little I can do to change erroneous thinking.

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    • El Biciclero September 23, 2011 at 11:51 pm

      Right frickin’ on.

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      • JRB September 27, 2011 at 8:55 am

        I must be a masochist, because I keep reading even though half of what I read is whining “cars do it, why are you picking on me, wah wah wah” It’s the reasoning of a six year old. Guess what, it’s not all about you. The deep affront that people take at the slightest inconvenience to them, whether they are in a car, on a bike, or on foot, and their resulting behavior is the issue. Let’s thank the building self-esteem school of parenting. Yes, you are special, but so is everbody else.

        There is nothing wrong with BG encouraging a moment of self reflection on what you can do to reduce conflict on the roads. As I said earlier, if you are already doing it, I can’t understand why that pisses you off.

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        • dr2chase September 27, 2011 at 9:21 am

          I think you are easily distracted from what matters. I don’t know where to find statistics on inconvenience and annoyance, but I can find statistics on mortality causes. Cars kill about 3000 pedestrians per year. Bicycles (in the the year cited) killed 1. Even accounting for a tiny ride share and noise in the data, bicycling gives you a 10-30x improvement of safety to others. How is this not more important than all this driver-whining about cyclists breaking the law?

          Do notice, I said nothing about “they break the law too”. What concerns me is that driving cars kills 3000 times more “other people” (in this case, pedestrians, so we can compare like with like) than bicycling. Increasing the national bike trip share from 1% to 2% should, all else equal, double the number of pedestrians killed by cyclists (adding 1) and reduce the number of pedestrians killed by autos by about 1% (subtracting 30) (simplistic analysis, totally ignoring selection effects, etc.).

          And quite a few moments of self-reflection lead me to think that the main purpose of traffic laws applied to cyclists is the pleasure of telling other people How To Behave, because it clearly cannot save very many lives. It’s not a very good nanny-state use of the law, either, since far more years of life are lost to not-cycling than are lost to cycling crashes.

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          • JRB September 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm

            The 3000 to 1 statistic means nothing to me without knowing how many vehicle trips are made by car versus by bicycle and other data. If the ratio of car versus bike trips are 5,000 to 1, I could make an argument that cyclists are more dangerous, obviously not because of the nature of the instrument because there is no question that a car is more potentially lethal than a bicycle, but because of how they are operated in aggregate. I’m not saying that your underlying premise is wrong, just that the commonly cited 3,000 to 1 statstic, without a lot more data, is not supporting evidence.

            Everyday, whether I am on foot, on a bike or in a motor vehicle I see people on foot, on bikes or in motor vehicles do stupid, oblivious or obnoxious things that put people at risk. Nobody has the high moral ground here so I find it ridiculous that people who bicycle would get so offended because a business whose customers are bicyclists would take out an ad encouraging bicyclists to try and be better neighbors and citizens.

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          • dr2chase September 27, 2011 at 4:08 pm

            @jrb – the US bicycle trip share is somewhere between .5 and 1%, yielding a relative hazard ratio of 15x-30x. English data gives a ratio of (IIRC) 10x-15x. Simple physics suggests that these are reasonable, just considering usual speeds, weights, likely exchange of momentum, and greater ability of bicycles to avoid accidents in the first place. It’s an inconvenient statistic for people who don’t want to contemplate the possibility that “cars kill”, but it appears to reflect reality.

            I think cyclists absolutely have the moral high ground here. Their impacts on other people are lower in almost every way — less dangerous, less noisy, less dusty, less polluting, less GHGs, don’t wear out roads requiring taxes for their repair, don’t consume scarce oil and get us involved in stupid wars, don’t force people off streets in their own neighborhoods, etc. I don’t see any “but on the other hand” here at all.

            Cars are convenient. People like their convenience. That’s not especially less moral, but it sure isn’t more moral.

            Remember, the laws have little to do with morality (Jim Crow and poll tax much?) nor does social convention. Conforming to the herd is a morally neutral act; it depends on what the herd does. Killing fewer people, that sounds more moral to me. Do you disagree? Is killing people a morally neutral act for you?

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  • rc September 23, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    As someone who lives on a designated bike boulevard two houses away from a stop sign, I can say that probably 75% or more of cyclists do not stop at the stop sign and a good percentage of those barely slow down. This week I watched an entire family of cyclists with two young kids (7-10ish) blow right through the stop sign. I hear horns and screeching brakes far too often. I fear it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt or worse. There are plenty of cars that roll (california stop) through too, but the percent is much less (25% or less i’d guess) and most of them slow way down first. The problem is accountability. I have no problem calling in a reckless driver’s license plate and have on several occasions. I have no way of identifying a cyclist that does something reckless. If I or my kids see someone get killed 50 feet from my house, it will be cold comfort knowing that it was there own damn fault.

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  • Tankagnolo Bob September 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    We may not see it as “us vs them”, but many drivers are upset with how we ride. In terms of traffic laws, my observations would say we bicyclists are MUCH worse with traffic laws. If we want drivers respect, and for them to mind the laws, we have to set the best case example. Otherwise drivers may choose the side walk on the wrong side of the street too. Would that be fun? In Road Warrier III maybe. If we do not act “grown up”, we will be treated like kids with our bicycle toys. Ride legal, I agree with River City Bicycles.

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  • Drew September 23, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    I agree with Jonathan that the “us” and “them” approach to educating road users is wrong. Most of us drive; many bike and we are all pedestrians. When I drive my actions do not reflect upon motorists in general. When I bike, the same should be true, but it is not.

    The car and oil industry has a lot of power to shape the public perception of motorized transportation in their favor, and they have been very successful at it.

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  • Mindful Cyclist September 23, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    I have often thought that maybe a reverse critical mass would work best. Let’s all drive our cars everywhere for a week–to the grocery store to get a half gallon of milk, to work, to the movies. No execptions! If it is over a half mile, we drive our cars, period. If you don’t have one, rent one. No trimet either!

    We can watch the average motorist wait to cross each bridge an extra half hour to get downtown to find no parking spaces.

    Maybe if motorists see how the thousands of cyclists that cross all the bridges each day benefits them, they will quit complaining.

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  • esther c September 24, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Where this sign is offensive is the statement that if you behave badly you’re giving drivers a “reason to hate us.”

    No, you might be giving drivers a reason to hate you. But prejudice against a group of persons is never right. Why would one cyclist’s behavior be a reason to hate another?

    Why does Bike Gallery think drivers are justified in hating all cyclists because of the behavior of another cyclist that is in no way responsible for that other cyclists behavior?

    This is the type of thinking we need to move away from, not accept as reasonable.

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  • Joe September 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Meh.. All road users break the law at one point or another. but they forgot to add “and please don’t bike on the MAX tracks”. Sadly I see this about once a week on NE Holladay.

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  • james September 24, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I think BG is running 20% off lights for September. That’s probably why they ran the ad. This site is becoming an embarrassment.

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  • Ted Buehler September 25, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Here’s another reason why I like the advertisement —

    Many bicyclists need occasional nudges to remind them to keep their equipment in good running order.

    At this time of year, its important to have all your winter equipment ready, so when the wind and rain hit (like they’ll do in an hour or two, I imagine) you are still ready to roll by bicycle.

    If you’ve lost your light, didn’t buy good rain gear, and are otherwise unprepared, you’ll be switching to your car or bus. If you have the equipment, you’ll keep riding.

    So, in the interests of keeping more cars off the road each winter, I support any and all encouragement to get every bicyclist in town fully outfitted well in advance of the moment of need.

    Thanks Bike Gallery,
    Ted Buehler

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  • ME September 26, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Ride your bike, act like a growup, be safe and respectful. Stop blogging for the sake of reading your own words.

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  • Jillianne September 27, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Thank you all for your comments and your passion. We apologize for the controversy it seems we’ve created. We didn’t intend to create an “us versus them” mentality and we just want everyone to be safe. The more we (cyclists and drivers) can work together, the more we will accomplish. It looks like we have our work cut out for us!

    Jillianne Bandstra,
    Bike Gallery

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    • wsbob September 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      “…We didn’t intend to create an “us versus them” mentality and we just want everyone to be safe. …” Jillianne/bikegallery

      Hey, don’t sweat it. It should have been obvious to everyone seeing it, that BG’s PSA was an effort to urge people to take seriously, basic issues associated with biking for travel purposes; following the rules of the road for the benefit of all road users safety and peace of mind, and making oneself more visible to road users.

      Clearly, the attempt made with the PSA, was to present the suggestions offered, in a humorous way…’the ‘new black’ is orange’…, and by urging people that ride bikes for travel purposes, that aren’t doing so, to adopt riding in traffic practices that will not bring people that drive motor vehicles to ‘hate us’.

      The good intentions of that effort was apparently lost on a number of people that read and comment to bikeportland articles, and were instead blown by them, into a preposterous, fantasy about the PSA being some kind of conspiracy to demean and shame people that ride bikes into buying a bunch of obnoxiously colored clothes and bright bike lights, or to perpetuate an eternal conflict between road users of different travel modes.

      Worst of all perhaps, is the prohibition against simple words such as ‘cyclist’ and ‘motorist’, that the editor-publisher of this weblog would seem to like taken against the general use of those words, particularly as used by the Bike Gallery in its community spirited PSA. This isn’t ‘major religion’, but simply getting down the road in a practical manner, either in motor vehicles or bikes, that were doing. It shouldn’t warrant condemnation to write or speak words like ‘cyclist’ and ‘motorist’, to convey a friendly message to people in general, about the need to use and travel the roads in a safe manner.

      Thanks for your time, as well as that of others at Bike Gallery, spent reading and thinking about the ideas expressed in the bikeportland story, and in comments posted in response to the issues raised in it. And of course, for creating the PSA, and the encouragement expressed there, for people that ride bikes to do so with care and consideration for themselves as well as other people on the road, regardless of the vehicle they’re using to travel with.

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      • 9watts September 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm

        “The good intentions of that effort…and were instead blown by them, into a preposterous, fantasy about the PSA being some kind of conspiracy to demean and shame people that ride bikes”
        Hey Bob,
        I’m sorry that you feel able to both channel the Bike Gallery’s good intentions while distorting bikeportland commenters (171 and counting).

        Since you don’t appear to have registered this comment (which I thought was one of the most cogent of the lot–and there have been lots of really good ones), let me quote esther c:

        “Where this sign is offensive is the statement that if you behave badly you’re giving drivers a “reason to hate us.”
        No, you might be giving drivers a reason to hate you. But prejudice against a group of persons is never right. Why would one cyclist’s behavior be a reason to hate another?
        Why does Bike Gallery think drivers are justified in hating all cyclists because of the behavior of another cyclist that is in no way responsible for that other cyclists behavior?
        This is the type of thinking we need to move away from, not accept as reasonable.”

        Plenty of admittedly unconscious stereotyping in the ad that does not serve the ostensible public service purpose at all.

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  • Evan September 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    The level of damage you can potentially inflict should be directly related to the responsibility you carry to watch out for the safety of others.
    Freight trucks and the like take up the most road space, accelerate the slowest, and require the longest distance to stop. Two axle trucks, less potential for damage. Most cars, less again. Motorcycles and scooters, even less. Bicycles, way less. Running, not much. Walking…almost zero.
    But anybody on this ladder can be a dumb ass, no matter how they travel. Some moron walking across the street texting might cause a big truck to crash into the car that screeched to a stop for the walker.
    Pay attention! There are no “accidents,” only cause and effect. Eyes forward, and take responsibility for your actions. I know it’s a lot to ask…

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  • Hart Noecker September 28, 2011 at 2:14 am
    • are September 28, 2011 at 9:56 am

      the bike gallery ad does not mention helmets

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  • Chris September 28, 2011 at 9:09 am

    There are a lot of reasons to wear a helmet, but I won’t waste my time in listing them as it appears you are anti-helmet already. Which is of course, your choice.

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  • JRB September 28, 2011 at 11:00 am

    @jrb – Is killing people a morally neutral act for you?

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    Nothing like an ad hominem attack to foster thoughtful and productive discussion. When I was referring to moral high ground, I was not talking about mode choice, I was talking about how we act when we are out and about in our communities. To me an asshat is an an asshat is an asshat regardless of mode. The pedestrian who jaywalks and then saunters across the street holding up traffic, the three bozos who shoaled me on my ride into work this morning, forcing me to pass them a second time, and the driver who tailgates are all morally equivalent to me. I don’t accept your premise that people’s selfish and obnoxious behavior is less deplorable because they are on a bike instead of in a car.

    Laws have everything to do with trying to promote fairness and prevent conflict in a crowded world where we all have to put up with each other. Referring to legalized segregation, which was overturned as morally repugnant 60 years ago, does nothing to bolster your argument that people should be free to pick and choose which laws they will follow. Humans are imperfect as are their societies and legal systems. Civil disobedience still has, and will likely always have, its place. I don’t, however, see some cyclists predilection to embrace the laws that protect them while simultaneously ignoring those that inconvenience them as equivalent to Rosa Parks refusal to give up her seat on a bus.

    Back to the original topic of the article, I don’t understand why some cyclists have to get all defensive and respond with vitriol to an ad that suggests we try to be better citizens. It’s something we should all try to be doing in every aspect of our lives.

    Thanks for the additional data that puts the 3,000 to 1 statistic in better context.

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    • dr2chase September 28, 2011 at 11:53 am

      I think you have confused etiquette and politeness with morality. My cousin was killed in a motorcycle accident, caused by two polite drivers, one of whom politely waved the other (after an inadequate mirror glance) into my cousin’s path, and the other, not wanting to impolitely delay the waver, zoomed quickly across, instead of pausing to confirm with his own eyes. Instant death, helmet and all, but at least nobody was rude.

      Since then, I have become a very impolite driver. I delay drivers when I drive the speed limit in residential neighborhoods. I delay drivers when I fully stop at stop signs, or stop at a crosswalk if I cannot see the whole crosswalk to verify that there are no pedestrians in it. I delay people when I drive slowly past a stopped city bus, or when I see children alongside the road who might stray into it.

      For drivers, delay = impolite. Delay by someone with a bad attitude, is apparently regarded as “immoral”; witness your pedestrian who jaywalks example. So, given my obviously atrocious attitude, and the delay that I intentionally create (when I could be whizzing through crosswalks and rolling through stops), I’m an immoral guy? Even though I do it to attempt to reduce the chances that I will harm someone else?

      As to the ad hominem question, you were free to say “no, that is not true”. I notice, despite the offense you apparently took, that you did not say “no”, nor did you present any evidence that would support a conclusion of “no”. And in particular, you even declare that all asshats are equivalent, even though we know that the ones not in cars are far less deadly to others. So what do you think I should conclude about your views on morality?

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      • JRB September 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm

        I did not, nor will I, answer your question regarding my personal morality, because it baselessly presumes that my morality is in question or requires defending. As far as what that leads you to conclude, I care not.

        Back to the substance of the discussion, perhaps “moral” was a poor word choice stemming from my rejection of the proposition that a person on a bike is better than a person in a car simply because of their choice of mode. As other posters to this blog frequently point out, most of us walk, ride and drive. I doubt their moral character is constantly shifting depending on what mode they happen to be using at a particular time.

        I am not conflating etiquette with morality. I am not talking about etiquette at all. I am talking about fulfilling our obligations under the social contract. That in order to avail oursevles of the benefits of living in a community, like roads, we agree to limitations on our freedom. We can’t have a functioning society if people think that their right to swing their fist includes the right to hit another person in the nose.

        So when people out and about on foot, on bikes, or in cars flout the law, I think that undermines the social contract. When people observe the law, such as you do when you observe the speed limit, or come to a full stop at a stop sign, I think that strengthens the contract and I could care less if it pisses somebody who is in a hurry off. They’re the person who needs an attitude adjustment, not you.

        Forgive me if I am putting words in your mouth, but it seems to me that you think that because I think there is nothing wrong with calling out scofflaw cyclists that means I am giving motorists and others a free pass. That’s not true, I am highly critical of motorists who flout the law and am always quick to point out that they’re are plenty of scofflaw motorists when people suggest that motorists as a class are more law abiding than cyclists. I don’t know the statistics, but my experience has been that there is no quantitative difference.

        If this article had been about Amanda Fritz suggesting that there should be no more investment in bicycle infrastructure until cyclists clean up their act, I would have been in lock step with everyone else on what a ridiculous statement that is. I am also acutely aware of the higher duty of care that motorists have over other mode users because of the risk of harm they pose.

        But none of this means that cyclists who blow stop signs are above reproach and I am not offended by the folks at Bike Gallery, because they are people who are closely tied with cycling, encouraging cyclists to be better citizens.

        Feel free to have the last word, I think I’ve exhausted the possibilities for discussion from my end.

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        • dr2chase September 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

          I do agree that moral is not the right word to use here, but I’m not sure that “better” is an improvement. I will inevitably return to the body count in any comparison (and why shouldn’t I, and why isn’t that a good thing to reduce?) “Safety” and “risk” are other dangerous words to use, unless you want to talk about cycling in a very positive way (all-cause mortality, 28% lower for bicycle commuters. That’s pretty damn safe).

          I think the problem with declaring that this is about the social contract is that it is subject to interpretation, and it’s clear that it is widely not followed — if we take the letter of the law as the contract. The contract that I perceive is sort a subset of the traffic laws, with everything generally redefined to the purpose of quickly-quickly-quickly — so, stop not too far past the stop line, don’t go through a stop sign faster than 10mph, stop for pedestrians in crosswalk if it’s not too inconvenient, no crossing the double yellow unless the guy you’re passing is “really slow”, no more than one (or maybe two) cars may run a light after it turns red, slow down for a right turn on red, not more than 5mph over the speed limit unless you are in a hurry. This is surely not the law, but this is the contract that I perceive, even to the point of you will make the people behind you grumpy (they will tailgate, honk, perhaps weave) if you violate the terms of this amended social contract.

          And as a sometime cyclist, it seems to me that I get to amend the social contract, too :-). And I know that this looks like a glorified version of “they do it too-oo!!!!” but do you disagree with my description of driver behavior (well, Boston driver behavior)?

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  • El Biciclero September 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I think I understand what you are saying about about morality here; threatening anyone, whether it is with a stick or a cannon, is immoral. The question is whether there are degrees of immorality.

    “Laws have everything to do with trying to promote fairness and prevent conflict…”

    Regarding the law: whether or not references are made to segregation laws from 60 years ago, the fact is that those laws were at one time considered acceptable, and they were The Law. I don’t know whether you think the laws we have now are free from immorality or unfairness, but I don’t think so. Anyone with power to create laws will tilt them to their own advantage, or to the advantage of those who can do them favors, whenever possible. Laws are not about “fairness”, they are about who has the power and what they think the rules should be.

    “…cyclists predilection to embrace the laws that protect them while simultaneously ignoring those that inconvenience them…”

    In my view, there are very few, if any bike-specific laws that “protect” cyclists. The most protection cyclists find in the law is in the exceptions to certain laws, most notably the so-called “mandatory sidepath” and “far-to-the-right” laws. Those laws are in place strictly for the convenience of motorists. The only protection cyclists find there is in the escape clauses that allow them to leave the far-right (invisible) side of the road to avoid hazards or make turns.

    There may be right-of-way laws that “protect” cyclists in the event of a collision, but those laws are typically ignored in favor of the motorist in most cases. Even if they are not ignored, the penalty for breaking them–even if it results in severe injury or death to a cyclist–is minimal. There is no penalty for killing pedestrians or cyclists, only for “failure to yield”. Motorists have no incentive to follow the laws that “protect” cyclists and peds.

    Back to the original topic: I think some folks here get defensive for a couple reasons:
    – Wording of the “plea” refers to “Cyclists”, not “Safe Cycling”. When we see PSAs for safe driving, they aren’t worded in such a way as to imply that all drivers are doing it wrong. They don’t say, “Drivers: we know you all like to drive drunk, but knock it off!”. They also don’t generally imply that, as a group, drivers are hated because of something they all do. Somehow, it is understood that drivers are individuals, but “cyclists” are all the same: scofflaw idiots.
    – The tone seems to scold cyclists for not doing something they are not required by law to do. Sure it might make “common sense” to dress in visible colors (never mind that the suggested color–orange–is just as invisible at night as black), but the suggestion that cyclists are “bad” because they wear the wrong color??
    – The third “plea” suggests that drivers have the power to (and will) kick us off the road like parents taking away the car keys unless we behave to their liking, which includes going above and beyond legal requirements to avoid making drivers “hate us”. Us? Us who? You mean me? Why would a driver hate me? Oh, because a different person who happens to ride a bike did something legal, but annoying? Because I did something legal that a driver didn’t understand?

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    • JRB September 29, 2011 at 9:16 am

      A couple of responses, The common motor vehicle moving violations that dr2chase refers to are just what I am talking about when I say that I wholly reject the proposition that motorists as a class are more law abiding than cyclists. Your point is also well taken that certain types of violations are seen as acceptable, speeding perhaps being the most common. The types of violations cyclists commit, running red lights well after the light has changed, running and stop signs while barely slowing down if at all, splitting lanes etc. do not have the same degree of social acceptance and hence send certain people into a tizzy, even if they think nothing of cars speeding, entering an intersection on a yellow etc. While each case is different, in general, people in cars pose a threat of harm orders of magnitude greater than people on bikes. Simple physics tell us that. That, and the far greater number of cars on the road makes cars almost always responsible for the carnarge on our roads. For me, however, that fact does not excuse cyclists from being responsible road users and I see a lot irresponsibility out there.

      Perhaps my point would be better made by saying that if Ron Tonkin, or a politician like Amanda Fritz, had decided to take it upon themselves to take out such an ad, I’d be as outraged as anyone else because I would see it as hypocritical. They have no credibility with me unless they are also willing call out scofflaw motorists. Bike Gallery does have credibility with me simply because they are part of the same, for lack of a better term, community.

      To biciclero’s points: Protect is the wrong word. What I meant is that I have little patience for those cyclists who fervently assert their rights, but feel free to violate those laws which they consider inconvenient. Yes, these folks are a minority, and I do think those things are getting better overall, but every day I ride I nearly always observe some incident of a cyclist selfishly flouting the law. Case in point, as I was riding in this morning a person in a wheelchair was waiting to cross at a zebra striped crosswalk. A group of cyclists ahead of me sailed through. I stopped and so did the cars and the person began crossing. When the person in the wheelchair was halfway across several cyclists behind me blew by on the right. I see crap like this all the time. Sometimes I think it would be better if I just rode the bus all the time and left the roads to the asshats. People do stupid, selfish and obnoxious things on bikes and in other aspects of their lives and I have no problem with people pointing that out if they can do so without hyprocrisy.

      Could bike gallery have worded their message better, I agree with biciclero that they could and should have, but some folks got bent by the fact that BG had the audacity to make any statement about cyclists improving their behavior.

      The fairness of our laws and legal system is a topic that would take a long time to debate. Suffice to say that among the things our legal system intends to do is promote fairness and prevent conflict. Being a system designed and operated by imperfect people it certainly falls short of achieving those goals on many occasion, hence my comment above regarding that there will probably always be a need for civil disobedience and other forms of advocating for change and reform.

      Beautiful day in Portland today, I hope everybody enjoys their rides.

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      • dr2chase September 29, 2011 at 10:41 am

        (I’m not gunning for the last word, this is getting somewhat more constructive…)

        Would you consider other words, or a careful description of what you mean, when you say “responsible”? There’s a lot of cyclist behavior that is “unwise” — blowing through lights w/o looking, likely not safe for the cyclist, not incredibly dangerous for the rest; and a lot that is “impolite” — buzzing pedestrians on the MUP, causing motorists to brake suddenly when you blow through that light; and some that probably IS truly irresponsible, which for me starts to drag in dangerous words like “moral” and “duty” (to others). I am guessing that the word that would have worked better in our previous argument (avoiding the argument) might be “duty”

        And how does intent/ignorance influence your views on this? Very few drivers intend to harm people, but overconfidence (hubris, you might say) causes them to drive beyond various safety limits. The cyclist who intentionally runs a red, how does that compare to a sorry-mate-I-didn’t-see-you unintentional right hook?

        (A not-too-over-simplified description of my view is that I just count dead bodies, call it actions and consequences, and don’t worry about intent — if doing X causes 30 deaths and doing Y causes only 1, and X and Y are otherwise equivalent, then Y is preferable to X because death is very bad.)

        On crosswalks, when blowing a crosswalk with a pedestrian in it, even if you ride “safely” behind the ped’s travel, I think the cyclist can be the cause of a spot-the-gorilla problem for the pedestrian. Many cyclists do a lot to be visible, you might say, “eye-catching”, and the caught eye is not looking for the drab gorilla in the crosswalk while the driver rolls along behind/passing the non-stopping cyclist.

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        • JRB September 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm

          I think I am going to stick with “responsbilities.” We have human rights, which we get just by being human, right to life, right to freedom of express, right to freedom from discrimination etc. We also have other rights established by the common or statutory law of where we happen to live, so Oregon imbues cyclists with certain rights to use the roads etc. Of course there are limits to this rights, one famous example being Justice Frankfurter’s statement that your right to free speech doesn’t include yelling fire in a crowded theater. Oregon law limits your right to operate a motor vehicle to when you are sober. These are limits that are intended to protect our physical safety while we are all out and about in the communal places in our society.

          The way I see it is that when we are exercising our rights/freedoms we also have a responsibility to observe the limits that have been placed on those freedoms to protect the health and well-being of our fellow humans and promote the common good. What irks a lot of people whether they be cycling, driving or engaged in other activities is their belief that the limit isn’t necessary in their case. “I have the reflexes of a NASCAR driver, so I can drive 70 in a 55 and won’t be a danger to anyone.” That may be true for that individual, but the law isn’t intended to protect us under the best case, the good drivers, but to protect us from the worst case. It think it would cost society far more than its worth to devise a system which would allow the really good drivers to go 70, but limit the really bad drivers to 55 in the same space. Therefore the really good drivers are expected to be responsible and observe the speed limit placed there to protect us all from the bad drivers.

          The problem I have with scofflaws is that they undermine respect for the legal system. When a cyclist waiting at a red light has four other cyclists from behind them blow the same light, it encourages disrepect for the law, even if the four scofflaws were more than capable of negotiating that intersection safely. Maybe the next guy who decides not to wait after observing their behavior isn’t.

          If you read my earlier post, you’ll remember that this morning I saw several cyclists failing to stop at a crosswalk when a person in a wheelchair was crossing. I hope that they were more than just lucky and actually saw the wheelchair and were able to realize that with their speed and the speed of the wheel chair they could transit the crosswalk without risking a collision, but not everybody is as good at making such determinations, assuming they see the hazard in the first place. I could have easily gotten through that intersection without risking myself or the person in the wheelchair but I thought it was the responsible thing to do. Which is not to say that I think the law is perfect. I’m a big fan of the Idaho stop and I think you could create exceptions for cyclists that wouldn’t compromise public safety.

          I’m not sure where you are getting at with the question of intent. The only difference between causing harm negligently versus intentionally is that in the former you will likely only face a civil lawsuit whereas in the latter you may very well be facing criminal charges as well. The degree of harm to the victim isn’t any different, just the potential consequences for the perpetrator.

          Again, feel free to have the last word, I’m beginning to fear that we may be trying the patience of our fellow posters.

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          • dr2chase September 30, 2011 at 5:35 am

            “Respect for the legal system” is not a winning argument.

            First, what makes this a special duty of cyclists? Note the continual infractions of most vehicles on the road (which happen to be cars).

            Second, does the law deserve respect? Do they serve a useful purpose that justifies their cost? Blue laws are widely ignored, usually eventually repealed. We’ve got drug laws that make me want to tear my hair out; I obey them because I don’t need a criminal record, but I surely do not “respect them”. The Idaho stop rules, and the non-carnage that resulted, indicates that perhaps the stop-sign/light (but not crosswalk) laws broken by cyclists don’t serve a useful purpose.

            Third, do the laws benefit cyclists? Not as much as they could, and not enough given our infrastructure. If all the laws were universally obeyed, it would be a safety/comfort win for cyclists and pedestrians. The consequences of a car-infraction at the wrong place and time means that cyclists (and pedestrians) have to be ever-vigilant around intersections in particular. The other half of the problem is that there’s a fair number of “safety rules” (not laws) that cyclists generally need to learn — from my POV, it is far more important not to ride into a slotted grate, than it is to not roll through a stop sign. De facto, the non-law gets much more “respect” than the actual law.

            This is why I don’t think “respect for the law” is a winning argument to cyclists. Nobody else respects the law, cyclists do little harm when they break the law, and the law (in practice, as opposed to theory) does little to protect them.

            My assumption is that most of the problems cyclists have with drivers on the road are more about social norms, and not about any noble abstraction like “respect for the law”. (It’s damn sure not about actual mortality reduction.) And the #1 norm is, we’re not driving a car. Everything else is secondary to that. Pedestrians, that’s an entirely different matter, we could do much better — but even so, we’re far more annoying than dangerous.

            I would also add, as a scientist/engineer, that my “respect” is not large for anyone who makes claims about “safety” without first acquainting themselves with mortality statistics (this is not directed at you, it is a general gripe). People who care about safety should find ways to use a bike in place of a car, whenever it is reasonably practical, and should lobby for the infrastructure and education to make it more practical. Scrupulous observance of the law is secondary.

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