Water Bureau trucks in 2008 in response to
a fatal collision) mandatory.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland
With the death of Kathryn Rickson still fresh on the minds of many (the community will gather at the intersection tonight at 5:30 pm), there is already a strong chorus calling for safety measures to make it less likely this will ever happen again. Citizen activists and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance are calling on the City of Portland to take action.
It’s important to remember that these reactions are coming swiftly, not just because of what happened to Kathryn Rickson. Right-hook collisions are in the headlines here on BikePortland far too often it seems. And while most of the ones we report on do not result in fatalities, many of us remember ones that did. Tracey Sparling died from a right turning large truck. So did Brett Jarolimek. Those two fatal collisions happened less than two weeks apart back in October 2007 and their impact is still felt today.
One of Brett’s friends co-workers, Kris Schamp, wrote about that in an email to me today. Schamp shared his feelings and his concerns about the road design at SW 3rd and Madison:
“This tragedy brings back a lot of sad memories of Brett Jarolimek, as the situation was very similar, i.e. a downhill bike lane, where cyclists tend to ride at the same speed (or faster) than cars/trucks and where (even experienced) cyclist don’t get a fair chance to make an emergency stop if a vehicle ahead or next of them unexpectedly makes a right turn. I remember that shortly after Brett’s death, there was another serious injury right-turn crash at the exact same location and how this prompted PBOT the swift and right call to close that right turn on Greeley indefinitely.
It seems that both SW Madison and SW Stark – as major eastbound bike commute corridors – would tremendously benefit from the same treatment that the city has been willing to apply to the Transit Mall. If we are able to set new rules to prevent cars from crossing dedicated bus/train transit lanes in our downtown area, it shouldn’t be that hard to grant the same protection to cyclists on one or two downhill routes in the downtown area.”
Northeast Portland resident and longtime local activist Ethan Jewett, is one of many people who are thinking about trucks and freight policies in light of this (and other) right-hook collisions. Jewett feels that perhaps it’s time for the City of Portland to consider limiting access for large trucks downtown. The truck that collided with Kathryn Rickson had a large cab that was towing a 43-foot trailer. He put together this graphic which he plans to bring on a poster to tonight’s gathering (which, by the way, I hear there will be freight advocates and stakeholders in attendance):
The BTA is also calling for changes. They posted a list of immediate and long-term improvements and policy changes including:
- an illuminated yield sign like the one PBOT installed to prevent right-hooks on NE Couch and Grand;
- a “safety warning” in the bike lane;
- better lighting at the intersection;
- a bike-only signal similar to the one at NE Broadway and Williams;
- the creation of a working group to “analyze citywide safety concerns at similar intersections and propose proactive solutions”;
- a repeal of Oregon’s mandatory sidepath law (which states if a bike lane is present, it must be used (with exceptions));
- making side under-run guards mandatory on all commercial trucks operating in Oregon;
- and more robust education and training about vulnerable road users for commercial license holders.
There have been many calls for repealing the mandatory sidepath law (ORS 814.420) even before Rickson’s death. Now I’d be surprised if it wasn’t the BTA’s top priority in the 2013 legislative session.
Stay tuned for more developments.
I don’t care what Oregon law says, or how many green bike boxes PBOT installs, bike lanes DO NOT BELONG to the right of right turning motor vehicle traffic. Too many motorists are not looking for or expecting cyclists there, and these bike lanes entice cyclists into dangerous situations time and time again.
Take this to it’s obvious conclusion and you’ve effectively banned bike lanes in the City of Portland. Most bike lanes are adjacent to a motor vehicle lane where cars are driving straight and potentially making turns.
Clearly, bike lanes do not belong to the right of right-turn-only lanes, unless bicyclists and turning vehicles are separated through dedicated signals (as they are on NE Broadway.)
That’s right. I don’t want my kids riding in between moving lanes either. Dedicated signals, no turn on red for autos, and further separation between bikes and cars allows much more reaction time for either party. Right turns should be separate signals just like dedicated left turns are.
Unfortunately, we can’t design the world around your kids. Fortunately, you can keep your kids off the road until they’re old enough to negotiate it safely.
Actually, that is exactly what we should be doing. If you could turn your kids loose on the bike network and not have to worry about them, we have reached the minimum sufficient balance. And I mean that sincerely.
Want to congest downtown worse than it is? Eliminate right turns on red. It may make sense during the daytime, but how about at night when no one is around?
More like treat the bike lane like any other lane, so if the bike lane is the curb lane, then it’s the only lane allowed to turn right.
Just to clarify, is it your suggestion that Motor Vehicles should enter the bike lane to turn right? Or that only bikes can turn right?
That would make OR similar to CA, which I think is worth a look.
The last thing Oregon needs is to be more like California.
Do you say this as someone who has commuted by bike in California, or is it just a pointless sniping of California?
What happened to share the road? Coming from a racer, I can tell you Brett died because of his ego. All of these people have died from their ignorance and lack of attention to their personal voice.
Portland does not need a physical infrastructure to moderate. That allows people who haven’t thought for themselves to operate under the given set of rules. Which inevitably don’t work in every situation except the one they were designed for.
What have graphic designers, designers of all trades always hummed? LESS IS MORE.
We need education. We need to educate to think in the present moment. We need to share the road and keep options open for everyone. Because the legal freedom to act in a lane will aide in giving riders mental clarity to think for themselves in the moment when the driver in front of them failed to signal.
This is coming from a Portland Native of 27 years. I feel oppressed. I have been car free for most of the last fifteen years. and I have never felt more insecure and in danger than the last four when all of this obscure “infrastructure” was installed. I am incredibly frustrated with how all of this has panned out and am pretty much ready to go live in a cave, or Los Angeles where drivers and motorcyclists and bike riders really do think for themselves and yeah it looks crazy at first but there is a method and a compassionate flow.
I am that guy taking the lane on hwy 43 at 5:45 am. I am that guy continuing through red lights when the coast is clear, splitting lanes to literally save my life. I’m the guy who thinks all of you are insane for following these rules that the City of Portland has laid down.
Also, click my name to go through the link, I invite everyone to join me on Saturday mornings or whatever to clean the bike lanes. This morning I got seven pounds of broken glass of WIlliams and Vancouver. Come out!
Well, if the alternative is crossovers, I disagree. Crossovers require a much longer period of watchfulness for careless drivers, and those drivers tend to be moving a lot faster during the time they’ll be likely to hit you.
I totally agree with all of these recommended measures. But let’s also work to educate cyclists to stay away from the sides of trucks if at all possible, even if it means breaking the sidepath law, until a more common sense law can be created. Taking the lane would have saved both Kathryn’s and Brett’s lives.
Can someone please explain the sidepath law to those of us who haven’t heard of it? I ride downtown all the time and wonder if I’ve been breaking a law without knowing it.
The mandatory side path law basically states if there is a bike lane/facility adjacent to the road, you need to use it unless it would be a danger to you to do so (such as broken glass, hole, broken down car in the way, etc.)
I commonly ignore it when I feel I’m safer outside of the bike lane, and have absolutely zero motivation to stop doing so.
ORS 814.420 in Oregon, but many other states also have a mandatory sidepath law.
It sets a dangerous precedent, lending credence to the idea that there are specific places where bikes “should” go, and undermines our right to free access to the public roads.
First of all, read and think through the full text of ORS 814.420, available at numerous websites, though Matt Picio has provided a link to one such site in his comment.
A number of bikeportland readers, myself included…have kind of been discussing the provisions of ORS 814.420 within comments to a different bikeportland story. Click on this link and, starting with a comment by a captain haddock, read on down as you choose, for a range of ideas and opinions about the intent of the law and what it effectively seeks to do:
Here’s one of the laws’ provisions which effectively covers about any conceivable good reason someone traveling on a bike lane would have to leave a bike lane or path:
“…(3)(c) Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions. …” ORS 814.420
In particular, the phrase ‘hazardous conditions’ effectively gives carte blanche to leave the bike lane, and travel in the main lane for the purpose of avoiding any type of hazardous conditions.
Having specified in law, a range of conditions a road user traveling by bike is legally permitted to leave the bike lane and travel in the main lanes does of course place a responsibility upon people that ride, to have good reasons that meet the provisions in the law for traveling in the main travel lanes.
Personal responsibility can’t hurt. Remember to stay out of the NO ZONE, and folks in commercial vehicles do care about highway safety, but we can’t see you if you can’t see both our eyes in the mirror looking at you! Help us keep you safe,many of us ride, too!
This is a part of the conversation that can not be stated enough. As someone who bikes and drives a large truck for a living I know first hand the dangers. Nothing scares me more than driving my truck around cyclists. Often cyclists do not consider large trucks can’t stop as fast, can’t see as well and need more space to turn than cars. If you are biking try to avoid being next to a large truck, be it a semi or a boxtruck. Drivers and cyclists are responsible for the safety, it takes both!
Taking the lane can be a task for some, along with most ppl that don’t understand the rules of the rode in OR. ” right to the full lane ” when Necessary.
I’d love it if someone could point me to a discussion or more info on this sidepath law and it’s exceptions. I’ve been googling and am finding general info and comparisons with other cities, but nothing that’s telling me as a cyclist what my rights and responsibilities are. I’m specifically hoping to find analysis and data on how to stay safe, something more than anecdotal evidence.
just google ORS 814.420 and ORS 814.430. ORS 420 is the mandatory bike lane/sidepath law and the exceptions are given in 814.420(2) and (3); ORS 814.430 is the ‘Bicyclists as Far Right as Practicable Law’ and the exceptions are given in 814.430(2)
I ride whatever is safe, if its on bricks I do so. give me a ticket. want to live.
I am increasingly frustrated with reading about the seemingly endless trips our City transportation staffers keep taking to places like Holland, Denmark, Australia etc, in the name of learning all about their bicycle infrastructure.
I think these sorts of cultural exchange trips are vital. Except for one crucial flaw. Our City staffers come back, bang on and on and on what they’ve learned from their visit at some transportation wonk seminar, then… promptly implement absolutely ***NONE*** of it.
Where are the miles of separated bike facilities? Where is the 17mph speed limit on our residential city streets? Where are the diverters every 10 blocks on all our bikeways? The speed bumps on every bike boulevard?
It makes my blood boil.
We need to cut the cr*p, and start implementing some of the traffic calming measures we have spent the last ten years endlessly learning about.
Where’s the money going to come from and how exactly is it supposed to fit in the existing infrastructure?
you think cycling accidents and death don’t happen in Europe?
You have to start somewhere. If you think Europe just organically grew these facilities in a vaccuum without having to go through the exact same growing pains we are, you’re sorely mistaken.
Let’s start the traffic calming solutions when PPB starts enforcing traffic laws for all users, including cyclists.
The city *is* implementing some of them. Infrastructure takes time. These trips have all been in the last 5 years, and separated infrastructure projects take years to complete. The has to be engineering done, right-of-way acquired. The city attorney’s office has to sign off on anything that increases liability for the city. Some of the projects impact water, sewer, electrical. They affect traffic patterns, signaling – and a change in one location affects other locations in a cascading effect. PBOT can’t magically make all that happen in 6 weeks – or even 6 months.
Portland has buffered bike lanes, cycle tracks, and other improvements going in. NE Going has traffic diversion at MLK and 15th. There are new signalized intersections.
Infrastructure is only part of the problem. Truck improvements would help. Better training for drivers, and training for cyclists. People paying more attention to their surroundings. Better enforcement, and some means for people to report the bad driving behavior of others.
There are a lot of areas of improvement that are faster and cheaper to implement than infrastructure is.
the BTA’s proposed changes do nothing to persuade motor vehicle drivers to obey the law…
the problem isn’t so much that these kinds of collisions happen so much as it about people caring that other people are getting killed recklessly…
make people care and then we’ll see results… right now there’s not enough incentive for motor vehicle drivers to be careful… if you kill somebody for ANY reason you should be held accountable for their death… and until that happens nobody is going to care is more people die…
First they came for the pedestrians,
and I didn’t speak out because I drove a motor vehicle.
Then they came for the bicyclists,
and I didn’t speak out because I drove a motor vehicle.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
you went strait for the Nazi reference? might be a stretch
i doubt very much that BTA will make repeal of the mandatory sidepath law a top priority in the 2013 or any other session
also, why is banning semis downtown not on their list
Because it is a stupid idea.
The trucks that do go downtown are going to local stops in the area. And don’t forget, buses are essentially passenger-carrying trucks (and all the licensing requirements apply, heck, you need an additional endorsement on top of a CDL to drive a bus). Trust me: Truck drivers hate, and I mean hate driving in urban centers. They’re not going to go through more than they have to downtown because it’s just too much to worry about, especially when you’re driving something with a blind spot large enough to lose more than a city block of the lanes to the right of the vehicle. This is a big reason why TriMet has two bus lanes on fifth and sixth avenues and very few (if any) routes deviate from the mall, save for direct lines to the nearest bridge or freeway ramp. The transit union (ie, the drivers) hate routes that run into downtown, and especially right turns at corners with a lot of traffic, for this reason.
European cities developed before trucks and don’t have the room for them. It’s simply not an option, period, they won’t physically fit, and the city is set up to accomodate life around that limitation. Portland isn’t any of that. If you want to see small business in city center die overnight, ban trucks downtown. If you want to screw over your own mail service, ban trucks downtown (that’s where the state’s main mailhub is).
That said, it’s a lot safer, economical (drivers aren’t cheap, it’s one of the few industries where labor has the bargaining position and industry knows it) and a lot more fuel and space efficient to have a few larger vehicles than scores more smaller delivery vehicles crowding the street.
Drivers will keep avoiding downtown because it’s a pain in the ass. But everyone still needs to be aware of the NO ZONE regardless of where the truck or how many yellowjacket-striped guardrails it has.
It is a pain in the ass to drive those rigs downtown, and that’s exactly why they shouldn’t be allowed. They disrupt traffic flow and create hazards for everyone. Trucking is already heavily subsidized in the U.S. so I really don’t feel bad if the companies need to revise their fleets over time with shorter, non-articulating trucks. Taking Amsterdam as an example: they ban trucks over 9 meters, or roughly 30ft long. I think we could compromise and ban trucks over 40ft in total length. With compact cabs, this still provides them with 35ft of space for cargo. This compares to the standard of around 50ft. So you are looking at a 30% reduction in cargo space.
First we ban trucks…then smaller trucks, then oh yes, cars. We get your point and it’s not going to happen. Look at the Performing Arts Center. They require 3 or 4 of these trucks to get their shows loaded in and out. Want to move the main post office downtown? They require large trucks to get stuff in and out. The only solution that is actually practical is for EVERYONE to start becoming aware of their surroundings and reacting accordingly.
Tell us all, if you were riding down a street with a truck along side and you see that it’s right turn signal is on. What do you do? Do you continue your line assuming the truck knows you’re there? Do you try to speed up to beat him to the intersection? Or do you slow down and get behind him and allow him to make his turn and you keep breathing for another day?
Yes, Mike, we’re all experienced riders here. We know what to do in these situations.
A point a made earlier is that you shouldn’t have to be an experienced rider to not get crushed by delivery trucks in our city. We are striving for a safe environment for all. Are you going to say the same thing when a 10-year old gets killed in this manner?
I want my wife, and my future children to be able to ride safely in my city. Is that too much to ask for?
Mike – you’re presuming that the driver used the signal in the first place, and that the signals are all functioning properly and not burnt out. Most of the time, those are reasonable presumptions – but not always. Not every driver does a proper inspection of their truck before driving it, and sometimes a light can burn out while on the road with the driver unaware of it.
Also, it’s perfectly reasonable to ban vehicles longer than 40′ on downtown streets unless they are articulated – we don’t need to extend that to small trucks and cars, I think really there’s only a few of us on here who are seriously advocating to remove all motorized traffic.
Oh, and we already have a downtown post office, but it’s on the edge of downtown, and the semis which service it have quick access to designated freight routes. There’s a huge difference between restricting semis near Union Station and restricting them on the approach to the Hawthorne Bridge.
This isn’t exactly true.
“In 1996, the City of Amsterdam together with organisations of operators and shopowners signed a declaration of intent in which heavy trucks are excluded from the city centre, except on the network of main roads (a so called ‘filtersystem’). At the same time, transport firms will attempt to combine trans-port as much as possible, during a period of two years. Only operators who necessarely have to make use of heavy trucks on the non-main roads (fresh food etc.) can get special permits to do so for a two year period.”
It would seem that they are allowed into the city. And they werent “banned” the shops and city worked together to come up with a new system voluntarily. And finally they didn’t do it for safety, they did it for:
– a more efficient supply of the city centre;
– decrease of nuisance and environmental impact caused by
loading/unloading traffic in the city centre;
– make the city centre a more pleasant place;
– more efficiently supply of clients.
It would also be interesting to note that many secondary roads were never designed for motor vehicle traffic in the first place.
what i am hearing is an argument why the dutch could not have large rigs in the urban center even if they wanted them. possibly nested in there somewhere is an argument why they have nowhere to landfill all those paper cups anyway. what i am not hearing is why we should want large rigs in our urban center. here we have a case study showing the grid cannot really handle them here, either. hell, why not run triples downtown.
[i disagree that a bus is exactly the same, as it is not articulated, plus as you note they have to some extent created segregated spaces for them.]
yes, you ban them overnight you are going to interrupt someone’s business model alright. but it turns out that model was built on externalizing death to passersby. so starbucks has to pay more for paper cups to bring them in by smaller loads. maybe they will switch to something other than paper. maybe they will pay b-line or pedalpower to bring them in from a warehouse outside the center.
let’s think more than a year or two into the future here.
Putting the European city comment on the sign is unnecessary and makes the whole message easily dismissable. Portland isn’t in Europe and doesn’t nescessarily resembles the cities that people like to think it does. it’s a good sign otherwise.
I don’t see the semis being banned any time soon so we need to learn how to ride with them. Give the large vehicles plenty of space.
This truck was most likely delivering paper cups and napkins to downtown Starbucks and Seattle’s Best (the operator has those contracts), which is patently stupid. Big semis should only be allowed downtown if they are carrying loads that require a truck of that size (heavy equipment, HVAC units etc).
That truck is servicing a lot more than just that location. There’s a lot of Starbucks and SBC locations in central Portland. Heck, in the area bounded by Morrison, Main, 4th and Broadway, there’s at least six Starbucks locations, with half of them at Fourth and Morrison. If you don’t think Starbucks isn’t going through a lot of consumables in a day, I got a real deal for you on that big, black double-drawbridge downtown.
Ethan is correct. No need to drive behemoths like that in urban areas. And on the few occasions when they’re needed it needs to be during restricted hours.
Not only is it dangerous, its wasteful of fossil fuels. The trucking company would rather pay for the gas to drive unnecessarily than pay for the manpower to offload the cargo into manageable sized loads.
We need to get these semis off our highways too for a large part. Our freight should be moved by train, using trucks for the last bit of the trip only that cannot be serviced by rail. But the American consumer is in such a hurry for our cheap Chinese crap that we’ve ended up with this super efficient but deadly transportation model.
Wasteful of fossil fuels? It’s been proven that larger trucks that can carry more cargo use less fossil fuels than a bunch of smaller ones. Look at locomotives. They are some of the most efficient modes of transportation of goods around the world.
And the subsidies for highway trucks have created an environment where more goods are transported by the less-efficient highway truck mode. Why aren’t you decrying this? Trains are incredibly efficient, so why are we subsidizing trucks? Intermodal trains should carry these loads to the city limits, where they can be loaded onto highway trucks for transport to rural areas or to distribution centers near the urban core. This is how they do it in countries that price their fossil fuels properly.
Its far more environmentally friendly to use a large diesel truck than to use many smaller diesel trucks.
On the highway? Yes. In dense urban environments? Maybe. You can’t say that unless you show us some data. These trucks carry higher loads, but they also consume more fuel, spend more time trying to park, etc. The efficiency gains from larger trucks are primarily through aerodynamics. This does not apply in urban areas.
Fedex seems to be profitable with the trucks they use. Care to explain that for us? The savings for the trucking companies is not through fuel, it is through labor. They don’t have to pay as many drivers if they use larger trucks.
There are no stats on it, it depends on truck, engine, cargo weight etc. But I must admit…you are the FIRST person I’ve ever heard suggest an 18-wheeler to be more “aerodynamic” than anything else on the road. Thats just plain silly talk.
Wow. No, it’s basic physics. A large truck is a more efficient way to carry loads at higher speeds COMPARED TO smaller trucks. Trucks have nearly identical frontal area, thus the drag is very similar, but they can carry more.
How high are the speeds in the downtown core for a truck that requires all of the lanes and 1 or two of the oncoming lane to negotiate the turns?
Also its lazy to tell someone else to look up stats for their argument when you won’t look them up for your own.
Look at their business model. FedEx and UPS use smaller trucks because they’re delivering maybe 1 to a dozen boxes to each customer. That same model would not be profitable if the customer was receiving 75 cartons. Those types of deliveries are usually palletized and are more easier shipped by semi or single axle box trucks.
What if this accident wasn’t involving a semi? Would the same group of people in the bicycling community be advocating the banning of single-axle delivery trucks downtown? The accident at SW Burnside and 14th was involving a cement truck. Slightly larger than the larger delivery trucks.
No, they would probably be making arguments that these trucks should be mandated to include pedestrian guards:
You don’t seem to understand the hazard that articulated trailers introduce. Watch one of these trucks make a turn and compare it to a 40ft Trimet bus.
I think you’re ignoring that these vehicles are driven by professionals, and TriMet has previously run 65 foot articulated buses, and intends to do so again in the future.
Trimet does not have any plans to run articulated buses again, unless they create a BRT line on Powell or 99W. Incidents like this will likely influence their decision.
Looking at this accident last week, was the bicyclist hit by the wheels of the trailer? or the wheels of the tractor? It appears to me that it was the wheels of the tractor that did the damage and side guards would have had no effect here. It would have been the equivalent of a straight truck making the corner.
Actually neither, the cyclist was hit by the front bumper first and then went under the truck. I used to drive a box van with a standard cab that was virtually Identical to a semi from the box forward and you could lose a Mini in the right-front blind spot. There are 2 issues here: cyclists and others getting run over by the rear wheels of long trucks and trailers, and drivers losing cyclists (and pedestrians) in the right-front blind spot. They are both easily solved with mandatory rear wheel guards (which also reduce fuel costs) and requiring COE (flat front) trucks inside built-up urban areas because they have a smaller blind spot than the average SUV.
Does anyone have a photo of these said guards in use in the. US?
It’s only more environmentally friendly for long-haul moves. A semi in the urban environment, with starts and stops in traffic is far less efficient – more emissions, more energy to move the large load back up to speed, etc. Also, a semi puts hundreds of times more stress on the road (road wear) than a panel truck does. Cargo delivery is supposed to use a hub and spoke method. We didn’t move away from that because it was less efficient, we moved away from it because it was more EXPENSIVE – due to the cost in labor. So now we have a system where a 53′ truck does start & stop driving downtown because the company employs a single driver instead of the 5 drivers it needed before to do the job. The truck company gets a higher profit, but there are fewer people employed, and a giant truck crushing the streets slowly beneath it rather than 1 big truck on the highway and 4 appropriately-sized trucks in the city.
Cheaper and more efficient isn’t necessarily the better option – especially for the 90% of us who don’t own the trucking company and are unknowingly subsidizing the hidden costs.
Excellent points. Limiting these larger trucks would mean (at least) slightly safer streets, slower road damage, and more jobs at the cost of profits to a few? I’d vote for that.
Banning trucks downtown isn’t going to slow down the road damage. A toll cordon or making most streets downtown HOV- and delivery-only might, though
Actually, it will. Check out NE 28th sometime, where all the Fred Meyer trucks drive. It’s absolutely getting destroyed. SE 28th is fine.
even if they got 200 miles per cubic inch of feces they’d still be dangerous in the hands of a careless driver…
Until you’ve driven one, I just cant go along with you being qualified to say he was careless. The vehicles themselves have blind spots all around them. One or two looks into the mirror might show clear, you start to make the turn and before you know it a much faster, smaller and more maneuverable object (a bike) blasts by thinking they can beat the turn. “Screw em, they have breaks” mentality kills people daily.
I think you just stated the driver was irresponsible simply by choosing to drive the vehicle.
lol, thats an awesome way to put it.
The new Downtown Target store is using smaller urban-scaled tractor trailers for delivery.
Correct. And thats probably more due to the fact of their loading dock design and that the streets around the Galleria are one lane with parking on both sides.
Right. All we need to do is change the availability of large truck parking, and the market will correct itself, making the roads downtown safer for everyone. Your cup of Coffee at Starbucks might cost you a few cents more, though.
You can kiss downtown retail goodbye, at that rate. Pioneer Place is the biggest user of large trucks downtown. Heck, it’d take a lot more trucks to restock the coffee and restrooms in downtown office towers than it already does. I’m not saying B-Line type cargo services can’t do it, I’m saying if you think downtown’s congested and hard to negotiate now, go ahead and replace those larger vehicles that get the job done in one trip with a mob of smaller vehicles. If you want to make traffic like lower manhattan, that’s the way to do it.
Trucks like the ones in use in Europe have about 30% less capacity than the 53′ rigs. I don’t think the impact will be as big as you are imagining.
Almost nothing in Europe was built the way America has built things, you keep comparing apples to oranges. European cities many of which where never designed with cars in mind naturally lend themselves to pedestrian and cycle traffic. America was built on the automobile, the whole design of the city was built with the idea that goods and services would be delivered by large lumbering vehicles.
I think most car drivers are asshats, i fully give you that, but I must say the “dare you to hit me” mentality of many cyclists definitely contributes to the hazard on the roads. The point is most cyclists who are the type to pay attention to these sites are of this nature. The militant, no room for vehicles, utopian mindset. They don’t want to “share” the road, they want to take it away for their personal use, never caring about what the consequences of these actions might have.
It truly is a wonder why so few of the militant cyclists are always going to college for worthless liberal arts degrees and not city planning, where they could actually learn how and _why_ you cant flip a switch and make a city cycle friendly.
Main & Madison between 1st & Broadway should be for the exclusive use of bus and bikes only. And these two modes should be separated on these streets to reduce conflicts between them. Afterall this is perhaps the busiest stretch of bike traffic in the state traveling between the Hawthorne Bridge and the core of Downtown (likewise its a huge trunk line for buses using the Hawthorne Bridge and accessing the Transit Mall).
I totally disagree with the idea of having cars mix with bikes in a right turn lane, CA-style. Half the point of the bike lane is to get bikes past congested downtown traffic. I absolutely despise shared right-turn lanes, because bikes are forced to wait for the backup of right-turning vehicles to clear, often a significant wait with lots of pedestrians crossing — whom the bikes shouldn’t have to wait for because they’re not turning.
I also disagree that it’s always a travesty to have a bike lane to the right of right-turning traffic — when there isn’t a right turn lane. That’s the norm along a lot of bike lanes, and in most locations we just have to deal with the right-hook risk (especially since dedicated turn lanes don’t remove that risk anyway; they just move it back from the intersection).
A dedicated RT lane probably would improve things, just like we have a block away on SW Jefferson approaching 4th. We would have to remove parking on Madison between 4th and 3rd, but maybe we should consider that.
In the meantime, a lighted sign should help somewhat.
You just made my day. Here’s a quote from your post,
“I absolutely despise shared right-turn lanes, because bikes are forced to wait for the backup of right-turning vehicles to clear, often a significant wait with lots of pedestrians crossing — whom the bikes shouldn’t have to wait for because they’re not turning.”
So, now you know exactly how those of us when in our cars feel when we’ve got to wait for all the cyclists who are continuing straight so that we can make our right hand turn. And on top of that, unable to make a right hand turn on red when there is absolutely NO traffic, bicycle or auto, around.
“So, now you know exactly how those of us when in our cars feel when we’ve got to wait for all the cyclists who are continuing straight so that we can make our right hand turn.” Not equivalent, but nice try. Like you have to wait very long for that. Except maybe at 11th/Hawthorne, occasionally.
“…And on top of that, unable to make a right hand turn on red when there is absolutely NO traffic, bicycle or auto, around. …” MIke
In a situation where a bike lane exists to the right main travel lane, I suppose is what you’re referring to. If there is an Oregon law that expressly says vehicles may not turn right on red across a bike lane, I didn’t find it.
While it may not say so specifically with regards to bike lanes, Oregon law probably allows right turns on red lights, even where bike lanes exist to the right of the right main travel lane.
All that’s basically required for main lane road users to turn right on red lights across bike lanes, is to take precautions to be certain traffic that could pose the possibility of a collision is not present in the path of the intended turn.
Check out ORS 811.360 ‘When vehicle turn permitted at stop light’ http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.360
Read the entire text of the law to get the full range of responsibility, but (2)(b) and (2)(d) particularly relate:
‘…(b) Fails to exercise care to avoid an accident. ….
(d) Fails to yield the right of way to traffic lawfully within the intersection or approaching so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. …’ ORS 811.360
So basically, the road user in the right main lane, with turn signal on, stops at the red light, looks over to be certain the lane is clear, and if it is, proceeds to make the turn. This is a situation where it’s cool when savvy, experienced cyclists, seeing activated turn signals on cars close to the head of the line, sometimes stay back a car length to let some of the motor vehicles more easily make right turns on red.
the green box is supposed to always be accompanied by no right turn on red signage
are…if any exist and you can find them, please post official rules or ordinances that say a motor vehicle road user may not turn right on a red light on streets where green bike boxes exist, if…referring to the claim Mike has made, there is no traffic whatsoever…and let’s say more specifically…no bikes in the bike box.
Actually, I’d forgotten about the green boxes when I put that last comment together. It makes sense that motor vehicle road users shouldn’t be able to make right turns on red lights when bikes are present in the box, but not when the bike box is clear.
If, according to ORS 811.360 ‘When vehicle turn permitted at stop light’, road users check to see that the bike lane, of which the green box is part of, is clear, they should be able to turn right on red.
There is no ORS governing RTOR at a bike box. But what are is saying is that if you pull up to a bike box, you are likely to see a sign that says: “NO TURN ON RED”. If there is such a sign, then drivers may not turn right on red, regardless of the bike box population.
“…signage. ” “…accompanied by a sign…” .
In a rush this morning…missed are’s mention of the signage. Thanks for the explanation about green boxes being accompanied by ‘no turn on red’ signs. It’s been reported that fairly soon, Beaverton will have one installed at Broadway and Canyon Rd. I’ inclined to think it wouldn’t be such a good idea if no turn on red signs accompanied a green bike box at this intersection.
I find it interesting that Right Turns On Red are pretty much a North American phenomenon. They are banned in NYC unless specifically signed as allowed (similar to U-Turns in OR). They are generally prohibited in most other countries. Right turns on red threaten pedestrian and cyclist safety, but are allowed anyway in an effort to hasten car traffic along.
Totally tangential, but I further find it interesting that one law that allows drivers to run red lights under certain conditions–which are rarely followed (they stop first–ha!, check for traffic, then make a right turn)–is seen as “common sense”, yet any law that would allow cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs or stop signs as yields is decried as “insane” or granting “special rights” to entitled cyclists and would lead to total mayhem on the streets.
There’s nothing wrong with right turn on red when people on foot and people on bikes aren’t present, which on many roads and streets is the situation during a lot of hours of the day. Right on red keeps people from having to sit at red lights for long signal cycles waiting for the light to change, just to make a simple right turn.
On the other hand, during commute hours and later, antsy people behind the wheel occasionally don’t want to yield the right of way to me on foot to cross the street after I’ve waited…sometimes it seems forever…for the ‘walk’ signal to show. I’ve come to be fairly assertive about communicating the message to them that they’ve got to stop…hand and arm out. Most stop, though some like to roll a number of feet into the feet into the turn before doing so. Trick is to not step off the curb until they definitely stop to wait for the pedestrians to cross.
On U-turns: that’s kind of funny, because as it happens, one of the very big, busy intersections I cross on foot in Beaverton….Broadway and Canyon, same as above…daily actually has, mounted on the overhead signal suspension wires, a sign permitting U-turns, accompanied by a ‘cars only’ sign. I think it’s only for the left turn arrow signal, but I’ll have to check. Always seems a surprise and kind of dangerous when the occasional car takes advantage of the opportunity provided, but I don’t recall anyone actually making the maneuver without care.
Well, OK, now we’re in a side conversation, but I notice that when I am leaving the Fred Meyer parking lot at 115th and Canyon, waiting to turn right and head east on Canyon, I’ll want to make a right turn on red. Usually, when cars to my right are turning left on their left turn signal, it means I can safely make my right turn on red because traffic from my left is literally blocked (can you picture it?). Imagine my surprise, though, when I go to make my right turn and one of the apparent left turners keeps on coming around on a collision course with me because they are not making a left turn, but a U-turn. It seems that to some degree, U-Turns are also incompatible with RTOR in situations like this. Again, two rather unconventional moves that create direct conflict in somewhat unpredictable fashion are considered OK for drivers to figure out and perform, but changes to the law to allow cyclists the same kind of leeway (which many already grant themselves illegally) in a different, yet similar context, are considered undesirable by many citing “safety” reasons.
“Well, OK, now we’re in a side conversation, …” El Biciclero
bikeportland has forums more suited for longer, and side discussions, but not many people seem to want to use them, unlike bikeforums, which sees huge activity.
Since I rarely walk up that far, I had to walk up to 115th and Canyon to see for myself that U-turns for Canyon Rd traffic are permitted there; sure enough. Not sure, but I think that signage may be a county jurisdiction decision. As you might have gathered from the earlier comment, I don’t think allowing U-turns on this busy thoroughfare is such a great idea, even though they’re designed to work with the left turn green arrow. Your description of the conflict with right turn on red from cross streets reinforces that feeling.
I could go on at length, why I don’t think justification for U-turns is great here, but I won’t. I’ve never used the U-turn option when driving (or biking) this road, and rarely anywhere else, just because I think it’s too dangerous. Leaves the person doing it too exposed from too many different angles it takes too much concentration and looking around to keep track of.
Is the goal to keep bikes moving? or prevent deaths? I’d hope that the cycling community would maybe give up a little bit of convenience in order to save lives.
Can it be both? Because it sounds like both.
when cars are lined up waiting for pedestrians to clear before turning right, you could be passing on the left. bike lane not required.
Have you ridden through SW 3rd/Madison at 5pm? There ain’t gonna be no passing a right-turner on the left, unless you enjoy waiting even longer.
“Half the point of the bike lane is to get bikes past congested downtown traffic. I absolutely despise shared right-turn lanes, because bikes are forced to wait for the backup of right-turning vehicles to clear, often a significant wait with lots of pedestrians crossing — whom the bikes shouldn’t have to wait for because they’re not turning.”
So… why not merge into the traffic lane to the left of you and continue straight through the intersection around the right-turning traffic? Wouldn’t that be something you’d do anyway, right now, if there’s a right-turning vehicle who is half-way through their turn, blocking the bike lane while waiting for pedestrian traffic to clear?
People on bikes are never “forced to wait for the backup of right-turning vehicles to clear” unless they feel like being forced to wait. The option of merging into the regular traffic lane and getting around the backup is always open, some people just don’t want to take that option– either through self-righteous “that’s MY bike lane and I’m staying in it” feeling or some other feeling maybe of vulnerability and inability to take the lane to get around the congestion.
Are sharrows not an option on the downtown streets, with traffic speeds as low as they generally are?
“People on bikes are never ‘forced to wait for the backup of right-turning vehicles to clear’ unless…” traffic in the through lane is backed up for blocks.
The decision by most motorists is that in a traffic jam, it is better to block the bike lane while waiting to make a right turn than to block the through lane–even if it is already at a stand-still. Further, if a driver can use the bike lane to squeeze past 3 or 4 backed-up cars, they will.
I had an epiphany this morning on my ride in: by my admittedly unscientific observation, it seems when given a choice between speed and safety, most people will choose speed, regardless of mode.
I also realized a short time ago that often what appears to be driver impatience is only fear of driver impatience. One driver will squeal tires through a minimal gap in traffic to, say, make a left turn–not because they, themselves are impatient, but because they fear drivers waiting behind them might become impatient…
I believe both of the above factors contribute to a lot of bike-lane driving; they are a compelling impetus to get out of the way of (or past) other drivers at all costs, even if it means illegally blocking the bike lane.
It’s illegal to merge into a restricted lane to turn unless the turn lane is on the other side of it, there’s signs and/or lane markings indicating the crossover, or the restricted lane signs indicate that you may use them to turn (such as the LEFT LANE ◊ – 🚊 AND LEFT TURNS ONLY signs on Washington Street in Hillsboro).
What is strange is that Oregon doesn’t seem to consider bicycle lanes as worthy of the same common sense design as other restricted lanes (ie, not having turn lanes cross them).
So do we ban all right turns?
Does anyone have a photo of these said guards in use in the US?
Yeah, the top of this thread on the city truck. It’s the yellowjacket-striped thing running the length of the trailer.
And as I look at that it appears to be meant to grab the attention of cyclists instead of preventing them from going under the tires. Look ahead and the rear wheels of the tractor part of the truck are not protected.
My other concern is you might require them on trucks registered in the State of Oregon, but how many of the trucks on our roads and highways are actually registered here in the state? You’d have to go to the USDOT to get nation wide regulations passed and given the state of the economy right now, good luck with mandating that companies and corporations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on technology that hasn’t’ been proven saves lives.
So I realize this is probably a completely crazy idea, but why don’t we create a legal duty not to drive your vehicle across a lane of traffic when you are fully aware that you can’t see oncoming traffic and could kill someone?
Jonathan, would you please do a ride along with a semi driver to see what it is like! If you have I apoligize, if you haven’t, it may give you perspective
I rode from the Oregon Historical Society to the Hawthorne bridge this afternoon, and I took the whole damned any-vehicle lane. I’m nervous, I’m cautious, and I therefore will get out there in the middle rather than cower along the curb. Make them to into the left lane to get around, and wait if they want to go anywhere else.
How about making safer bike laws and enforcing them? People caught disobeying would be sent to mandatory bicycle training classes. The more cyclists we have in Portland the accidents will happen. There seems to be little if any enforcement of laws to people on bikes. Every Time I am downtown I see cyclists splitting lanes, going the wrong way, running traffic signals without even slowing down or looking, not using lights at night, swerving through traffic at close distances, riding in places where they aren’t supposed to be, passing on the right of turning cars when there is no bike lane there. I have had many close calls with cyclists that were not my fault. The mayor does not want the police to bother cyclists with citations because they are just a bunch of fun loving people.
I realize that in this particular situation it was the cities fault not the cyclists for putting her in a dangerous spot to be. I think the cities efforts in the bike boxes were more politically planned and implemented than reality planning by real safety engineers. Anyways it is clearly evident that they do not work. They should go back to the drawing board and come up with something foolproof, even if it takes a few minutes off of the bike commute. (that will make cyclists angry). Trucks, school buses, trimet, garbage trucks… are part of downtown that cyclists need to be aware of and ride safely around them.
“Every Time I am downtown I see cyclists splitting lanes, going the wrong way, etc etc” And thanks to availability bias you seem to think that’s what most cyclists are doing. Perhaps if you made a conscious effort to watch what ALL the cyclists are doing, instead of just noticing the illegal acts (which are by their nature more noticeable), you would observe a very large number of cyclists obeying the law. And you might also observe at least as many motorists as cyclists disobeying the law.
“I have had many close calls with cyclists that were not my fault.” I’ve had way more close calls that were not my fault with motorists than with cyclists. Both when I was driving and when I was cycling.
I don’t disagree that there are quite a few scofflaw cyclists, but I think that’s laying it on a bit thick. Personally, I’d like to see a lot more enforcement of the traffic laws when it comes to motorists. I would even support enforcement of the laws WRT cyclists if it were something that actually matters for safety — like the behaviors you mentioned, actually. Unfortunately PPB’s only concept of enforcement towards bicyclists is to sit at a 4-way stop and hand out tickets for rolling through a stop sign at 5mph when no one else is around.
“The more cyclists we have in Portland the accidents will happen.” Actually, that’s been rather famously proven false over the years. Despite a quadrupling of bicycle volume since the 90s, the number of crashes has remained constant.
“I realize that in this particular situation it was the cities fault not the cyclists for putting her in a dangerous spot to be.” We don’t know whose fault it was yet.
Never said or implied that “all” cyclists are disobeying the laws. Those that do are causing accidents that are putting cars, trucks, trains in an unfavorable position that they are evil killers… I am just saying its not so. Yeah there are boneheads driving that shouldn’t be, However many of these accidents are not those people. I still place part of the blame on the city for creating a false sense of safety in an unsafe spot. Perhaps those boxes should be a less freindly color that makes the cyclist think “Caution” instead of how safe I am in this little box of paint with imaginary walls around it.
I do see a lot more responsible cyclists in recent years with the new cyclists. There does seem to be a slight decline in scoflaws out there. Some of them though are in their 20’s acting like they are 10.
I would bet my paycheck though that when I stop at a crosswalk for somebody crossing that the bike coming up behind me is not going to stop also.
I can’t wait to get your paycheck, then.
I see more car drivers disobeying laws on a daily basis than bicyclists, simply because there are more car drivers than bicyclists and society has given a pass on certain types of law-breaking.
To whit: speeding (5-10mph over the posted speed limit), not coming to a complete stop at stop sign, not coming to a complete stop at a red light prior to turning right, not stopping before the crosswalk at marked intersections at stop signs and signals, not using turn signals, not stopping for pedestrians at all crosswalks marked or not, etc etc etc.
People behind me when I’m driving must hate my guts, and it must blow their minds when they see me obey laws while riding my bike.
Thank you Kristen for obeying traffic laws, you are setting a good example. 🙂
I rarely drive these days but when I do I often drive a few miles *below* the speed limit. Its amazing how much anger has been directed at me by other motorists when I do this. (Far worse than taking the lane on Chavez.)
Driving *below* the speed limit, unless hazardous conditions exist, is just as illegal as speeding. Try following the posted signage.
Oh, please. Not a few miles below the limit. It’s supposed to be a maximum, not a minimum.
You CAN be cited for traveling too slow.
Yes, you CAN. That’s if you are being a hazard yourself by traveling too slowly, which is not the situation when going a few miles under the speed limit. It’s still a maximum, not a minimum. You CAN be cited for traveling the posted limit if conditions mean that the limit is not safe (like in bad weather).
excellent point. the same goes for the usual objection to asserting the full travel lane. trailing motorists will get impatient and crowd me. but only a sociopath will actually run you down, and if you seem him coming you have left yourself plenty of room to bail out to the right. i do recommend a mirror, but i recommend against clinging to the sidepath.
Those sociopaths driving close to bikes is what really freaks me out when I ride. I just cannot get used to it at all.
On a trip to Salem and back today I was noticing how many trucks Dohave the guards installed on them now. I would venture a guess that maybe 1/2 do. I noticed these guards before but never really noticed how many there are. It is probably a big discount on their insurance if they have those in place.
Don’t mistake these bike guards for those white panels you see below trailers. Those are to help with wind drag and actually are flexible and fo up when they hit and obstruction.
You can also turn on red arrow if there’s nothing saying no turn on red, and turn left from a two-way to a one-way street on red in OR, WA, BC, ID and MT. For the love of all that is just in this universe, if nobody’s coming the other way, and nobody’s coming from your right, hang that left onto the freeway already so we’re not all just idling when we have to drive somewhere instead of ride.
All this rage about Right turns on Red…I guess I missed where the truck was turning right on a red light. If this is the case, perhaps it could be clarified in the article. Otherwise this is a lot of rage about a rule that is pretty much off topic in this case.