The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

After Rickson decision, BTA renews push for safety changes

Posted by on September 26th, 2012 at 4:56 pm

BTA: “It’s time to act.”

With the DA’s decision today to not pursue criminal charges against the man operating the truck in the collision that claimed the life of Kathryn Rickson, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance says, “It’s time to act.”

In a blog post this afternoon, the BTA is renewing a push for a list of specific changes they called for immediately following the tragedy last May. “The investigation is complete,” they write, “It is time to implement some changes.”

The list of safety measures they are demanding is below:

  • Bike activated sign indicating the legal right of way for people who ride bikes, similar to the treatment at NE Couch and Grand.
  • Safety warning in the bike lane to alert people to be aware of the blind spots of turning vehicles.
  • Ensure the roadway is properly lit and street lights are free of obstruction.
  • Give exclusive signal control to people who ride bikes, similar to NE Broadway.
  • Assemble a short-term working group to analyze citywide safety concerns at similar intersections and propose proactive solutions.
  • Revisit commercial driver safety education in the context of vulnerable road users. Are current eduction standards sufficient? What improvements are warranted?
  • Repeal Oregon’s mandatory side path law.
  • Require all commercial trucks operating in Oregon to install mandatory side guards.

And they’ve added another request: “Require all commercial trucks operating in Oregon to install tripod-mount hood mirrors.”

In their report detailing the Rickson investigation, the DA said the collision was a “tragic event” and an “accident” and that the driver of the truck, “did what he was supposed to do in his situation.”

In response, the BTA says, “Whether or not criminal wrongdoing was involved, the BTA is firm in our belief that crashes like the one that killed Kathryn Rickson are preventable.”

Read the full BTA blog post here.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • matt picio September 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Can we get a new DA? Can that also be on the list?

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    • matt picio September 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      Ok, perhaps not a new DA, but it’s frustrating to say the least that there’s no evidence as to the cyclist’s behavior before the immediate moments before the collision. Hopefully, there will be some traction this time for getting better mirrors and some side guards on trucks.

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  • John Lascurettes September 26, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    “Repeal Oregon’s mandatory side path law.” Um, YAY!

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    • wsbob September 27, 2012 at 10:26 am

      “Repeal Oregon’s mandatory side path law.” BTA

      Not gonna happen. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Oregon’s ‘Failure to use a bike lane’ law, except people’s lack of knowledge of the wide range of exceptions the law clearly acknowledges and specifies in its text as being the right of people bikes to ride outside of bike lanes in the main lanes of travel.

      Conversation about situations in which people on bikes do need to ride in bike lanes where they exist, could be helpful, but Oregon’s ‘Failure to use a bike lane’ law, which certain people repeatedly, incorrectly refer to as a mandatory side path law, does not unreasonably confine people on bikes to bike lanes.

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      • El Biciclero September 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm

        But bob, ORS 814.420 does NOT provide an exception for cyclists to leave the bike lane at an intersection unless the bike lane is to the right of another lane from which drivers MUST turn right. If drivers merely MAY turn right, as in this case, 814.420 says “stay in the bike lane”.

        At the very least, the word “must” in this part of the statute needs to be changed to “may”. Here’s the relevant exception:

        “(e) Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right.”

        In certain situations, this law puts cyclists at the mercy of right-turning drivers (who are bound to yield, but only if they paying attention. Distracted drivers don’t need to yield, apparently), or else drops them to second-class “must yield” status in deference to the sheer mass of automobiles piloted by unaware incompetents.

        This law is designed to say, “Stay out of the way cyclists! Don’t worry, drivers will watch out for you!” Problem is that drivers don’t watch out for cyclists a lot of the time.

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        • wsbob September 28, 2012 at 12:34 am

          El…the meaning of the law, with that word does apply to the traffic situation at 3rd and Madison. When driving motor vehicles, people wishing to turn right must turn from the main lane of traffic that is to the left of the bike lane…not the bike lane. For people in the bike lane, that option for people driving motor vehicles, invokes (3)(e) for people on bikes traveling in the bike lane. In this situation, 814.420 does not say to people traveling by bike…repeat: Does Not Say… “stay in the bike lane”.

          The right of people traveling by bikes in the bike lane, that are continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right, is acknowledged by the text of 814.420 (3)(e).

          Maybe you’re considering whether (3)(e) applies only to situations where main lane traffic would be obliged to turn right by a ‘right turn only’ sign. For another opinion, ask a DA or lawyer that understands the law, but my read on the provision is what I described above.

          Additionally, (3)(c), of the law, the provision that acknowledges, using the work ‘hazard’, the right of people traveling in the bike lane to leave the bike lane for hazards, would also apply in this situation.

          As we’ve learned in past discussions about 814.420, police very rarely cite people traveling by bike for violation of this law. I wonder how many people even know of the law’s existence, and what it’s restrictions and provisions are. My sense, is that very few people do. A great defense for people that bike, would be to familiarize themselves with the law and understand their right to the road that it acknowledges. If Oregon ever were to have a bike in traffic knowledge, written and road test program, familiarization with the provisions of 814.420, it might be a good idea to cover this law in such a program.

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          • wsbob September 28, 2012 at 12:44 am

            Oh-h-h, schucks…got to make a little correction:

            The right…of people traveling by bikes in the bike lane, that are continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right…to leave the bike lane and take the main travel lane, is acknowledged by the text of 814.420 (3)(e).

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          • El Biciclero September 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm

            I think you are misinterpreting the sense of “from which a motor vehicle must turn right”. You are saying that it means “IF a driver wishes to turn right, they MUST do it from this lane”. I believe it means “IF the driver is in this lane, they MUST turn right”. You can ask a lawyer if you want, but I would bet real money that the wording implies a “Right Turn Only” lane. The purpose of this statute is not to instruct drivers how to make a right turn, that is handled in 811.355.

            So the statute doesn’t explicitly say “stay in the bike lane”, but it does list conditions under which you MAY leave a bike lane, and “[when]continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle might turn right” isn’t among them.

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            • wsbob September 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm

              The statute’s text doesn’t use the word ‘might’, that you apparently prefer over the word ‘must’, but I do believe the statute provides for exactly, but not solely, the type of traffic situation existing at Madison and 3rd, which is one where main lane traffic has the option of traveling straight through the intersection, or turning right across the bike lane, in which case, main lane traffic, if they’re intention is to turn right, ‘must’ turn from the main lane, and not the bike lane.

              It’s the responsibility of bike road users traveling in the bike lane to determine whether it’s safe for them to pass at an intersection, a road user in the main lane that may possibly turn right.

              Also, the statute never orders bike road users; instead, it offers provisions with parameters for when they are and aren’t in violation of the statute, as in:

              “…(3) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of: …”

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              • are September 28, 2012 at 2:38 pm

                jeez, bob, the statute means what it says

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              • El Biciclero September 28, 2012 at 3:25 pm

                I prefer “might” or “may” over “must” because it completely changes the meaning of the phrase. I don’t know how to parse this so it makes sense to you, but exception (3)(e) does not say what you think it says. Being in a lane “from which [drivers] MUST turn right” only means one thing: IF you are in the lane, THEN you must turn right. It is not the same as saying “IF you are turning right, THEN you must be in this lane”. It can’t mean both things. You are equating a statement and its converse, which is not correct. The only statement that is logically equivalent to the one in the exception is its contrapositive: “IF you are NOT turning right, THEN you must NOT be in this lane”.

                If I say “an elevator in which riders MUST go up”, does that mean:
                a) Don’t get in the elevator unless you are going up
                b) You aren’t allowed to take the stairs up
                c) You could take the elevator down if you wanted to
                d) You MUST take the stairs or a different elevator to go down

                [your interpretation of exception (3)(e) would say the answer is a combination of b) and c); the correct answers are a) and d)]

                If I say “a vehicle which MUST stop at all railroad crossings” does that mean:
                a) Such a vehicle must keep moving until it encounters a railroad crossing
                b) Such a vehicle may cross railroad tracks without stopping
                c) Any time such a vehicle encounters railroad tracks it MUST stop (but it could stop at other times as well)
                d) Other vehicles must also stop at all railroad crossings

                [your interpretation of exception (3)(e) would say the answer is a combination of a) and b); the correct answer is c)]

                Regardless of my nerdiness here, there is enough misunderstanding of this law that it deserves to be repealed. If, as you repeatedly suggest, the exceptions are so broad as to make the law unenforceable, then again, why do we have it? Under what circumstances would you imagine 814.420 could be legitimately enforced? If I were ever cited for violation of 814.420, I could come up with some form of one exception or the other to justify my non-use of a bicycle lane or path; the only question is whether the judge would buy it. It is too ambiguous to be enforced in any definitive way–your definition of “hazard” might be substantially different from mine. The only purpose this law serves is to allow a grumpy cop to hassle cyclists, or to give drivers an excuse to menace them. It also serves to cow less experienced or confident cyclists into staying in the most dangerous place on the roadway.

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              • wsbob September 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm

                El…you’ve given your interpretation of 814.420’s text. I don’t agree with your interpretation, but so what. That doesn’t prevent you and the BTA, and whoever, from going ahead and spending all the time and energy you want trying to repeal the law because you think it imposes some sort of injustice on people that ride bikes. Go ahead…just try and make a persuasive case to people outside of bikeportland readers, that 814.420 poses a problem for people that ride bikes in Oregon. Report back here. I’ll be interested to read what response you get.

                People in Oregon are rarely, almost not ever cited for 814.420. That might have more to do with the vagueness of (2) of the law than (3) of the law. Vagueness of (2) of the law should be clarified. Once done, see if officers do start to cite for the law. If they do, and it appears a pattern occurs in which people are being cited unfairly, use that as support to repeal the law, if it’s still felt that the law is not serving road users well. BTA could be doing something bike supportive that would be much more constructive than coming out against this law and trying to have it repealed.

                Because of this topic coming up on bikeportland, I asked a couple cops out here in the Beav if they’d ever had occasion to cite a person on a bike for 814.420, or heard of any other officer that had. Answer: Never. Again: Never. I might ask a few other cops as I get the opportunity, but I’m fairly certain of the answer.

                I think it’s a fair bet that most people don’t even know about 814.420, so I’m doubtful about your assumption that cops or people driving are using it to harass cyclists. If they did know the law, they’d likely also know the wide range exceptions to riding in the bike lane the law acknowledges. Less experienced cyclists should be informed their rights to the road the law acknowledges. If there are confident cyclists assuming the law requires them to ride in the most dangerous part of the road, they should review the law to discover the law allows them to leave the bike path if debris or other hazardous conditions exist within it.

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      • are September 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm

        in this specific case, the mandatory sidepath law in fact required rickson to stay in the bike lane, unless you read “avoiding a hazard” to include a hazard approaching from the left. what it did not require her to do was attempt the pass. someone on a bike might have gotten killed doing exactly the same thing if there were no bike lane, but the presence of the bike lane and the mandatory sidepath law contributed, however nominally, to this death.

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  • Rob September 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    In all honesty, I think there are other areas in the city’s bicycle infrastructure that need attention first. I ride this intersection often and it doesn’t scare me half as much as other areas (e.g. riding up city-side of Cornell, riding north along Naito to the Hawhtorne Bridge, etc.)

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  • 180mm_dan September 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    I read the DA’s Memo, and I don’t see how any of BTA’s suggestions, except the mirrors would have aided the trucker or saved cyclist’s life. Good grief, I’m sure glad I don’t give money to BTA anymore! All the signs and safety aids in the world won’t save everyone’s life. Use the brain the helmet protects.

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    • are September 26, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      repealing the far to right and mandatory sidepath laws, coupled with an education campaign explaining why these laws mandated an unsafe practice, could in fact save lives in situations like this. you cannot keep everyone from passing on the right, but you should not have laws in place that in effect require it, forcing anyone who wants to be safe to risk having to explain themselves to a traffic judge.

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  • Mike bodd September 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    So the report says the truck started its turn 83 to 110 feet before she entered the intersection. Was she going 45 mph? I get ” almost right hooked” aboit 1 time every two weeks on avg and can usually stop even when the car / truck is directly next to me. I still cant understand how this happened.

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    • wsbob September 27, 2012 at 12:09 am

      “…I get ” almost right hooked” aboit 1 time every two weeks on avg and can usually stop even when the car / truck is directly next to me. …” Mike bodd

      Don’t let the motor vehicle be directly next to you when you approach and enter an intersection; either be slightly ahead of the motor vehicle, or if need be, fall back just behind it so you’re out of its right hook striking range.

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  • gr8fulday September 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    The BTA is entirely correct that this accident was preventable. If you read the entire memo posted by the DA, ( Ms. Rickson was well behind the truck when it began it’s turn. He had a turn signal on and was not driving at a reckless speed. It was an accident. The driver was absolutely as cautious as he could have been. We don’t need a new DA. We don’t need to ban trucks. etc. etc.
    When riding in traffic on a weekly basis, I don’t assume I can be seen. I don’t assume that some law is going to keep me alive. Share the road goes both ways. Help drivers out. If I see them signaling, I slow down and let them turn. I might have the right of way in the bike lane, but I would rather be alive than dead.

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    • are September 26, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      i do not disagree with your analysis, but i would suggest that the urban core might be too crowded and the grid too tight for trucks of this size. quality could break their loads up at a warehouse farther out from the core and send in smaller trucks to their individual drops.

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    • Chris I September 27, 2012 at 7:28 am

      And I would rather have safer vehicles and infrastructure so novices aren’t dying on our streets every year. Remember, you were new to biking at one time. No articulating trailers and mandatory side skirts in the downtown core.

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    • Spiffy September 27, 2012 at 7:37 am

      It was an accident.

      we’re not potty-training a toddler… this was a preventable collision that killed somebody…

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    • spare_wheel September 27, 2012 at 8:08 am

      an “accident” partly caused by fatally flawed infrastructure and a law that FORCES cyclists to use it.

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      • Kristen September 27, 2012 at 9:42 am

        You know, spare_wheel, you CAN leave the bike lane to avoid a hazard. You aren’t forced to stay in the bike lane 100% of the time. A turning vehicle constitutes a hazard to me, therefore I will be leaving the bike lane to merge into the traffic lane and let the vehicle turn.

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        • spare_wheel September 27, 2012 at 11:27 am

          I *personally* have no use for bike lanes and break the mandatory sidepath law at my convenience.

          Nevertheless, I often see cyclists use bike lanes in situations where doing so is clearly unsafe. Some cyclists mistakenly assume that bike lanes are safer than taking the lane. Some are also reluctant to exit the bike lane because this manoeuvre is of ambiguously legality. The mandatory sidepath law as well as the requirement to ride as far to the right as practicably possible are terrible statues that harm cyclists for the convenience of motorists.

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        • wsbob September 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm

          Oregon’s ‘814.420 Failure to use bicycle lane or path’ law is quite good. On its own, the law’s title may not be able to convey the intent of the entire body of that particular law, but the title merely serves to preface conditions followed in the body of the law, and covers a wide range of road situations in which people traveling by bike are fully entitled to ride in the main roadway.

          Check out (3)(e) of the law: “…(3)A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of: …(e)Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right. …”

          Oregon’s ‘814.420 Failure to use bicycle lane or path’ law fully recognizes the need and right for people on bikes to take the main roadway in a situation where continuing in the bike lane through an intersection past a motor vehicle preparing to make a right turn, poses a problem.

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          • are September 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm

            operative language “must” does not apply in this instance.

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  • Zach September 26, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    A mirror or side guard requirement might actually be unconstitutional – it definitely would be in a bar exam question ;)…

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    • nuovorecord September 26, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      How so? There are plenty of existing laws regulating what equipment vehicles must have. Lights, horn, mirrors, etc.

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    • Ron September 27, 2012 at 8:47 am

      Wha???? Kidding, right?

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    • are September 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      zach makes an interesting point. under the commerce clause of the federal constitution, courts have repeatedly struck down state laws that impose more stringent requirements. so the obvious reflex here would be to say, okay then, let’s ask congress to act. but i think we all know that whole thing is broken. probably a better approach would be to ask manufacturers of trucks to make these standard equipment, and/or to ask owners of fleets (good p.r. opportunity here for quality, who just killed this woman) to voluntarily put them on aftermarket.

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  • wsbob September 27, 2012 at 12:20 am

    The BTA comes up with eight points for its safety measures, and not a single one of them advises improvements to the knowledge and skill provided to people riding bikes that would prepare them to deal with traffic.

    One of the BTA’s points does touch on road use education…for commercial truck drivers…who already receive extensive instruction and testing in order to get their licenses. Doesn’t hurt to review commercial driver safety education in the context of vulnerable road users, but how about at least a little attention paid to the road user mode group that has no obligation whatsoever to acquire safety education to keep themselves safe on roads where many motor vehicles are present.

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    • Chris I September 27, 2012 at 7:32 am

      Over 30,000 people, primarily motorists, died on our nation’s roads last year. Do they have obligation to educate themselves for their own safety? Does a 20 minute written test taken once in your life complete that requirement in your mind?

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      • wsbob September 27, 2012 at 9:51 am

        The number of people driving, compared to that of those biking, is huge. People seeking a license to drive a motor vehicle already have an obligation to educate themselves at least somewhat with respect to driving a car in traffic, their ability to do so confirmed by the on the road driver’s test.

        An obligation on the part of people that bike to educate themselves at least somewhat with respect to riding a bike in traffic? Nada. Nothing. Zilch. That absence of any required study and testing whatsoever for people intending to use a bicycle for travel on the road amongst heavy, fast moving motor vehicles, is a contributing factor to tragic collisions between people riding bikes and people driving cars.

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        • Chris I September 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm

          If you are proposing free government education classes, similar to the programs they have in Europe, then I completely agree. A licensing system is either going to be prohibitively expensive for the user, or it won’t be able to cover administrative costs.

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    • Spiffy September 27, 2012 at 7:44 am

      I think that as somebody on a bicycle it’s my duty to look out for all other living things in my path that may get harmed by me running into them and therefore do everything in my power to avoid colliding with them… if I’m suddenly in a mode-share situation with an acre of pedestrians (waterfront for example) then I slow WAY down to what seems like a snail’s pace walking speed to ensure that nobody is hurt… I have no expectation that any of those other more vulnerable users have any training on how to avoid me…

      I hope that some day we can expect the same thing from people driving vehicles that are extremely larger than ours…

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  • sw resident September 27, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Many here will not like this: We need mandatory bicycle rider training and licensing.
    Think of it this way – BTA and others want to increase the amount of riders, but by virtue of being new they know little about defensive riding in an urban environment. There is not even a guarantee that they know the rules of the road. I know what some of you will say: “But drivers violate the law all the time and they have licenses!” But by virtue of them being licensed we know that they had to at least pass the written part of the test to show that they know even the most elementary, but inadequate amount, of traffic rules.

    A goal of more cyclists on the road cannot be built on the two pillars of increased infrastructure and penalties for drivers. Increased education of drivers is always brought up but no one dares touch the third rail of suggesting that cyclists be educated formally as well. It is irresponsible of the BTA and other fans of increased bike ride share to not call for cyclist education. I want to see a big rise in bike mode share but I want educated cyclists and not ones who are a danger to themselves and others.

    Look at that BTA list. None of those recommendations even come close to addressing cyclist education and responsibility. It doesn’t even come close to teaching and/or stating the simple mantra that all moto riders and messengers know – assume all road users never see you and that most road users don’t now how to drive above an elementary level. Most drivers of cars and bikes know how to operate their bikes and cars but don’t know how to be a good road user. See the difference?

    When I got my moto license the training we underwent had very little to do with moto operation and a lot to do with reading traffic and riding defensively. Learning escape routes, identifying road hazards, reading driver body language, etc. It is even suggested that you state the road conditions out loud in a monologue as you ride in order to keep your game tight and awareness at 10. For e.g.: “t-junction to right 50 meters sight limited so cover horn and move closer to center line, three cars back one approaching quickly, two cars ahead one in front slowing and may turn left, pedestrians one mom two children and dog unpredictable left side of road looking like getting ready to cross so slow down, 100 meters ahead road surface different color be aware of potential oil or water and slow and increase following distance…” and on and on.
    Cycling in traffic and even on shared paths or on dedicated paths with other cyclists needs to be taken more seriously – there are dangers when using any of these.
    Flame away.

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    • Oliver September 27, 2012 at 8:38 am

      I agree with you about the training. The best part is that we already have mature and operational infrastructure perfectly suited to provide it, our public school system. I look forward to your continued support of our safe routes to schools and similar initiatives.

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    • wsbob September 27, 2012 at 10:08 am

      sw resident…exactly right. Many people that bike, particularly in high traffic areas within the city, seem to be very much in need of bike in traffic specific knowledge…not driving skills applied to travel by bike in traffic, but, again: bike in traffic specific knowledge .

      In comments to recent bikeportland stories about possibly licensing people that bike, and registering bikes, many people commenting either got hung up on the assumption that a license for people that bike would somehow be allowed to be used to restrict their use of the road. Related to the most recent initiative, as no specifics on that detail for such a law in Oregon have yet been established, this fear is unfounded.

      Any apprehension that licensing, or ‘certification’…as another person regularly commenting on bikeportland has suggested…could possibly deprive people on bikes from their right to ride the road could be eliminated by provisions specified in the wording of proposals for bike rider certification laws, and whatever law of that type might possibly be approved.

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    • andy September 27, 2012 at 11:01 am

      Flame? No, education, in four points:

      1.) Part of the reason no bicycle training is listed in the BTA’s list is that the BTA already runs “safe routes to schools” programs which teach children the laws of the road and proper cycling etiquette. They also run adult bicycle education programs. The programs do not have a lot of stable funding, so they pull together as much funding as they can from many sources to make it happen. It would be far better if there was a dedicated funding source to start road safety training for all Oregon children when they are in grade school, continuing through drivers education in high school, and including adult transplants from out of state. How about a tax hike to pay for it?

      2.) There is currently no requirement in Oregon for drivers to undergo mandatory training prior to taking their driving test. Kudos to you for taking a road safety class; I did as well when I was in high school in Minnesota (as required by law). If road safety training is to be mandatory for cyclists, it also must be mandatory for motorists.

      3.) The Oregon Dept of Transportation estimates that about 30% of the deaths on Oregon roads every year are due to excessive speed. First question: What percentage of cyclists exceed the speed limit on a daily basis? Second question: What percentage of motorists exceed the speed limit on a daily basis?

      4.) Motor vehicles account for roughly 95% of the vehicles on the road in Oregon. According to ODOT (, there were 49,053 motor vehicle crashes in Oregon last year, almost half of which resulted in injury. Less than 2% (962) of those crashes involved a bicycle – and only about half of those crashes were the fault of the cyclist. Not even 1%! So why were there so many other crashes? Let’s consult ODOT’s “most common driver errors:”

      Failure to avoid stopped or parked vehicle ahead
      Failure to yield right-of-way
      Failure to maintain lane
      Ran off road
      Driving too fast for conditions
      Following too close
      Left turn in front of on-coming traffic
      Improper change of traffic lanes
      Disregarded traffic signal

      My goodness, mandatory driver- and vehicle-licensing hasn’t done much to improve compliance with the law or safety on the roads, has it?

      So let’s review. By far, the majority of the crashes on the roads are caused by driver error; almost half of which result in injury or death. And yet, your solution to public safety on the roads is to make up new regulations for cyclists. It’s kind of like going to the dentist and insisting on a tooth whitening when you’ve got four abscessed molars in need of root canals. Sure, it might look nice, but you haven’t done anything to fix the problem – and you’re still in for a world of pain.

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      • spare_wheel September 27, 2012 at 11:34 am

        In 2011 there were 32,885 reasons to require mandatory safety training for all motorists. Motor vehicles are a far greater threat to public health than bicycles. The fact that we do not have mandatory safety training and periodic road tests for all drivers makes a complete mockery of calls to license cyclists.

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        • spare_wheel September 27, 2012 at 11:35 am

          “In 2011 there were”

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    • dr2chase September 30, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      This makes little sense.

      First, most (89% according to study cited in some earlier article) cyclists in your area are also licensed car owners. If they don’t know the rules of the road, then that means that the driver licensing process is inadequate, because they’ve been through it.

      Second, your perversion of “responsibility”, though common, is annoying. Responsibility is duty to or obligations to others. Look at the mortality results for pedestrians killed by drivers, versus those killed by cyclists — cars are about 15x more deadly. Who is more “responsible”? What we have here is a problem where drivers do not want to be responsible for the danger posed by the speed and bulk of their vehicles, and instead expect everyone else to get-out-of-their-way. Every mile-per-hour speed reduction from 30 to 20 mph saves lives in crashes, yet look at the resistance from drivers to the establishment of safe speed limits, and their widespread flouting of whatever speed limits are in place.

      Third, that law you’ve got in OR, and the apparently weird construction of some intersections — the people who put those things into places have a *professional responsibility* to get those things right. That bike lane law intimidates inexperienced cyclists (assuming that they know it) and creates confusion for drivers (assuming that they know it) because most of them cannot perceive common hazards to cyclists from their cars. Effectively, it gives them a non-promise of cyclist behavior. It does not serve any useful purpose, it should be gone.

      Fourth, driver law-breaking is fantastically common (it certainly is in the Boston area), and it matters. Every cyclist sees it all the time. You will never, ever convince cyclists that they need education “like drivers” or that they need to obey the law when they see this. Remember, they’re fifteen times safer than cars for pedestrians — why is it the cyclists who need the education, when they are passing the test with flying colors? This is not a winning strategy for any advocacy organization — bike organizations look like clueless patsies, and auto organizations look like hypocrites.

      Fifth, I am guessing that you have no idea what “rules” old, safe, cyclists used to become old safe cyclists. The main rule is undiplomatically stated as “drivers are deaf, blind, and stupid”. Assume that they’ll break traffic laws. Don’t argue with them about the law even though they are wrong (they are, always — the ones that stop to argue are always wrong). Drivers also prioritize speed over safety; assume that they are all very impatient.

      More sophisticated rules discuss the specific cognitive limits of drivers; they do not see well in dim light, but do not know it. They will underestimate your speed, and either turn left into your path, or pass you and then turn right into your path. They will not see you at all because their brain is not looking for you (“spot the gorilla”). Vehicular cycling is largely about trying to fit your behavior to the cognitive limits of drivers and anticipating their mistakes, but it also assumes that drivers will not drive while blind, drunk, or texting.

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  • takeaspin22 September 27, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Why aren’t we building Dutch-style intersections? They have had this stuff figured out for decades.

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    • David September 27, 2012 at 8:32 am

      I’d also like to know why. Portland has experimented with all types of lanes. This doesn’t seem like it would be too hard to test out.

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    • NW Biker September 27, 2012 at 9:50 am

      Nice video. I particularly like how they point out that their design takes up no more room than what we have as a standard intersection, but makes it safer for all users. Too bad that the powers-that-be won’t see this, or probably wouldn’t use it if they did see it.

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      • ScottB September 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm

        How would a truck make the turn if you take away the space between the island and existing curb?

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    • Nate September 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      I would argue that even this intersection might not have saved Rickson’s life. Although it no completely clear from the evidence (as read in the DA’s memo), it seems that Rickson overtook the truck as it began its turn, irregardless of the turn signal. This means that Rickson would have been moving at a good speed, and entered the danger zone – would be protected with a curb and painted in the Dutch version – as the truck was making the turn. Even with the curb and paint, if a cyclist is passing slowed vehicles on the right, she likely would have continued into the danger zone as the truck turned, after the truck was too far along to see her coming.

      And that is the problem with the “side paths”, mandatory or not. They tend to lull riders, especially inexperienced ones, into a false sense of safety. All it takes is not noticing a turn signal. If all bike routes, particularly downtown or on busy streets (i.e. NE Broadway) were painted to take the right-most thru traffic lane (R lane on SW Madison @ 3rd; third-from-right lane on west-bound NE Broadway @ Williams), right hooks get a lot scarcer.

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      • spare_wheel September 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm

        In copenhagen there was a large increase in accidents at intersections following the construction of cycletracks. In fact, overall rates of accidents went up by 18% in one study.

        Jensen, Søren Underlien and Rosenkilde, Claus, and Jensen, Niels. Road safety and perceived risk of cycle facilities in Copenhagen. 9 pages, 2007

        Jensen, Søren Underlien. Bicycle Tracks and Lanes: A Before-After Study. Presented at the TRB Annual Meeting, January 2008.

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      • takeaspin22 September 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm

        Good points, however I believe in the Dutch intersection example cyclists have separate signals. Right-turning cars and bikes going straight never have green lights at the same time. Either the truck driver or Rickson would have had a red.

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      • ScottB September 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm

        There’s more video out about how the intesection works. They also have separate phasing for the turning, split phase I think, so the peds and bikes don’t cross at the same time as the cars, but it takes more space.

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  • Granpa September 27, 2012 at 8:21 am

    From the report it sounds like Rickson was unaware of the driving pattern of large trucks and rode down the hill as the truck, with its turn signal on made its turn. IF she didn’t know how they negotiate turns, or was not paying attention she put herself in harms way. Training for, and awareness by the cyclist could have prevented this tragic outcome. Just as Spiffy moderates his behavior in crowds and wsbob keeps himself out of the right-hook zone the cyclist has the responsibility to avoid collisions.

    More laws and better infrastructure can prevent traffic deaths and injuries but it will always be the cyclists responsibility to attend to their own safety.

    The death was a horrible tragedy and we all need to be on our “A” game to prevent its recurrence.

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  • Dan September 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

    I read this book before I started biking to work. I’m convinced it has saved my life numerous times:

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  • KillMoto September 27, 2012 at 8:53 am

    @sw resident: “We need mandatory bicycle rider training and licensing…”

    Or we don’t. Training would help, licensing would be a useless bureaucratic distraction.

    Look at how best-in-class cycling nations do it. They have comprehensive, hands-on bicycle training as part of school curriculum not once, but several times, I think twice in grade school and once each in middle and high school.

    Kids ride bikes. They need proper education, NOT “license and registration”. Note that some of these kids are future drivers… One of the biggest problems with USA drivers is they don’t know the correct relationship between a cyclist and the roadway.

    Up with education!
    Down with bureaucracy!

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  • Dan September 27, 2012 at 9:07 am

    sw resident
    It is even suggested that you state the road conditions out loud in a monologue as you ride in order to keep your game tight and awareness at 10. For e.g.: “t-junction to right 50 meters sight limited so cover horn and move closer to center line, three cars back one approaching quickly, two cars ahead one in front slowing and may turn left, pedestrians one mom two children and dog unpredictable left side of road looking like getting ready to cross so slow down, 100 meters ahead road surface different color be aware of potential oil or water and slow and increase following distance…” and on and on.

    Interesting. I do this same sort of monologuing internally and it has worked pretty well so far. Definitely keeps me from just ‘spacing out’ when I ride, which is really easy to do when you’ve ridden the same route a bunch of times.

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  • Jim Lee September 27, 2012 at 9:20 am

    If I were Mayor BTA would be persona non grata at City Hall and Robert Hurst would be teaching “The Art of Urban Cycling” to one and all.

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    • are September 27, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      what causes you to say BTA opposes teaching hurst?

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  • Techchef September 27, 2012 at 9:34 am

    First, it is sad that this woman lost her life and I feel for her family. I also feel for the driver who will have to live with this. Especially since it wasn’t his fault.

    Oregon law states that cyclists are to obey the traffic laws the same as cars.

    ORS 811.411(c) which says with respect to passing on the right:

    (c) Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions.

    I would suggest that the presence of a truck signaling a right turn is an existing condition indicating that passing may not be safe.

    Witnesses stated the truck had started the turn and had his signal on.
    The cyclists mistake of not paying attention is the cause here.

    It is time we have a licensing systems for cyclists. This would help insure proper education for them and the fees can go to maintaining bike lanes and such.
    Also Cars need to be allowed to pull into the bike lane when making a right hand turn. This is the only way to ensure that the cyclist does see the vehicle.

    Arthritis prevents me from riding a bike anymore, but I see more and more cyclists running stops and breaking all kinds of traffic laws.

    In the last month alone I have almost hit two cyclists running 4 way stop signs after I had come to a complete stop and was already entering the intersection. Once at night and the cyclists did not have any lights. Another law broken there.

    It is time for cyclists to take responsibility for themselves and get educated to the rules of the road and safety and the way is licensing and tests.

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    • Bruce September 27, 2012 at 10:10 am

      If bikers alone are to pay fees to maintain the bike lanes, then drivers alone should have to pay for the million dollar expansions of I-5, for repaving all of the city streets, for the Columbia river crossing project…

      And sure, you see bikers breaking the laws, but you see drivers breaking the laws, running stop signs, and not yielding to bikes, too. Don’t try to place the blame on bikers. Read the article posted on BikePortland a few days ago about why you hate bikers.

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      • Techchef September 27, 2012 at 10:36 am

        Motorists have already paid for bike paths and such with taxes and fees. I believe also there should be a bike path on the new bridge. Plus you have to have a license to operate any other vehicle in this state, take a test on the laws and safety and pay a fee. It is time cyclists take some personal responsibility.

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        • spare_wheel September 27, 2012 at 11:46 am

          Most cyclists pay a vehicle registration fee. You should be thanking cyclists for helping to pay for roads that they do not use as much as you do.

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        • Chris I September 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm

          Everyone pays for local roads and bike paths, as funds for these come from a combination of property, income, and gas taxes. So yes, even the car-free hippie that lives next door is paying for the roads. Now, consider that bikes wear out the roads at about 1% the rate of your average vehicle. Why should cyclists have to pay for any more than the 5% of the road spending that we get now?

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    • El Biciclero September 27, 2012 at 1:51 pm

      “Oregon law states that cyclists are to obey the traffic laws the same as cars.”

      –Except when they make up additional rules that apply only to bikes, such as ORS 814.420. There are also laws for auto drivers that pertain to operating around cyclists, such as ORS 811.050 and 811.065

      “ORS 811.411(c) which says with respect to passing on the right:

      (c) Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions.”

      –You should look one exception higher in your quoted statute, to exception (b): “Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaken vehicle is proceeding along a roadway in the left lane of two or more clearly marked lanes allocated exclusively to vehicular traffic moving in the same direction as the overtaking driver.”

      I would suggest that a painted bike lane is at least the second (or in this specific case, the third) of “two or more clearly marked lanes”. When traveling in one’s own clearly marked lane, overtaking a slower-moving vehicle in the next lane over is not considered “passing” in the sense you are implying. Exception (c) applies to situations in which there is no “clearly marked” bike lane. The applicable law in this case is ORS 811.050, “Failure to yield to rider on bicycle lane”.

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  • Gravity Fed September 27, 2012 at 9:53 am

    The BTA just wiped out in a shamefully public face-plant. Their hasty reaction and cycling centric response weakens their credibility.

    No wonder we have such polarity in Portland. With responses like this one can’t help but think that in the eyes of the BTA and others the cyclist is supreme and all else is sacrilege.

    As a proud cyclist and strong supporter of the culture here in Portland I find the BTA’s attitude embarrassingly short sighted and narrow in scope.

    None of my money will ever go to BTA until they take on a more mature and inclusive approach to solving these issues.

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    • Bruce September 27, 2012 at 10:04 am

      They’re not overreacting. Someone lost their life due to our poor infrastructure. If it was your daughter that was killed by the truck, would you not want to try to put simple rules in place to prevent future tragedies?

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      • Help September 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm

        Someone lost their life because they rode their bike in an unsafe manner.

        Not every accident is the result of driver error or poor infrastructure. A cyclist speeding downtown without being aware of a huge vehicle near her was the cause of this accident.

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        • Alan 1.0 September 27, 2012 at 9:42 pm

          Speeding? Where do you get that info?

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  • JNE September 27, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Cyclist education . . . here’s a funny idea, what if insurance companies require this, or provide discounts to riders, for health and life insurance? Regular cycling + plus safety training should make much more healthy insured individuals. I’m already riding, and I’m ready for that training, and a discount!

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    • dr2chase October 1, 2012 at 5:03 am

      Cyclists should get a discount already, training or not. Bicycle commuters have a significantly lower (28%) mortality rate than non-bicycle commuters. Yet another way that we subsidize auto use.

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  • spare_wheel September 27, 2012 at 11:17 am

    “does not unreasonably confine people on bikes to bike lanes.”

    especially from the point of view of motorists…

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    • wsbob September 27, 2012 at 11:39 am

      It’s underhanded on your part, spare_wheel, to hijack an excerpt from my comment, without attribution, to make a superficial, shallow-minded response to discussion of a serious subject. Here’s the complete sentence from which you drew the excerpt.

      “…Conversation about situations in which people on bikes do need to ride in bike lanes where they exist, could be helpful, but Oregon’s ‘Failure to use a bike lane’ law, which certain people repeatedly, incorrectly refer to as a mandatory side path law, does not unreasonably confine people on bikes to bike lanes.” wsbob

      And a link for the comment from which it was drawn:

      This is also probably a good time to again provide a link to a site offering the text of 814.420 ‘Failure to use bicycle lane or path’, so people that don’t already know, can read for themselves, the wide range of exceptions the law clearly acknowledges and specifies in its text as being the right of people on bikes to ride outside of bike lanes in the main lanes of travel :

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      • Chris I September 27, 2012 at 12:21 pm

        I have a hard time believing that you actually ride a bicycle in Portland, based on your comments here.

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        • CaptainKarma September 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm


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          • KristenT September 30, 2012 at 10:41 am

            WSBob takes it upon himself to know the laws as they pertain to bicycling. He’s obviously educated himself, thought hard about what he’s learned, and is now discussing, more or less civilly, the nuances of the laws.

            I’m not sure I’m seeing why you think he’s has never been on a bike in downtown Portland. Please explain.

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            • dr2chase October 1, 2012 at 5:12 am

              It’s a legalistic and impractical interpretation of the law. Most people don’t understand it in detail, so it is effectively a different law. To the extent that it intimidates inexperienced cyclists to stay in bike lanes when they “should not”, it is a dangerous law. It is also a useless law, because it provides no particular guide to motorists about cyclist behavior — at any moment a law-informed cyclist may perceive a hazard in the bike lane and swerve out of it. To many drivers this is mystifying behavior because they either cannot see or do not understand bicycle hazards (hazards are not even the same for all cyclists; fat tires ride over slots, studded tires ride over ice, thicker tires may elect to chance a glittery patch of glass).

              So what is the point of this law, except to make life better for drivers (and only drivers) in some legal fairyland where everyone knows all the laws and sees and understands all the same hazards? (Restricting the options of cyclists “for the own good” is not a benefit.)

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            • are October 1, 2012 at 10:05 am

              several of bob’s interpretations of statutory language are rather strained

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      • spare_wheel September 27, 2012 at 2:08 pm

        the bike portland commenting script is very underhanded…and i am apparently part of the conspiracy.

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  • Terry D September 27, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Bicycle licenses would not solve this situation, just as the BTA’s reaction to it probably would not have prevented this. A bike light would be nice though since it is the approach to the Hawthorne.

    Not to say that their suggestions are bad and should not be studied, but this intersection is just not that awful. There are MANY more dangerous ones. I for one would not try to pass on the right if there was a truck there unless I was absolutely sure the driver saw me and was not moving. She was probably just not paying attention….these thing do happen, even in a city that tries really hard to make things safer.

    What we need is not to micro-manage every intersection in DT, but to create high-end routes, that are at least a full lane wide, through the city core that are safe for cyclists instead of trying to retro-fit each couplet. Trucks should also have designated routes which are separate from the designated bike routes. In intersections where these routes mix, sign them and make sure there are warnings…..

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    • Andyc September 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      Yeah, exactly. I remember years ago I was at Broadway and Larrabee when the bike lane was on the right, and wasn’t paying close attention to the semi on my left. He started turning right on to Larrabee all the way across the bike lane, and luckily I was going slow enough that I hopped onto the sidewalk and got out of the way. I wasn’t paying attention for a brief second and it could have resulted in a very messy matter had I not had time to jump to the sidewalk. It’s a grave problem when you assume for a second that you’re okay because you’re in the bike lane.
      I wholly agree that it’s way past time for us to put in dedicated whole lane routes for each user through the city core.

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  • GlowBoy September 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Techchef, you are wrong in quoting ORS 811.411(c) with respect to passing on the right.

    This statute addresses situations when you’re overtaking and passing someone in your OWN lane (that’s what “overtaking” is), and the reference to bicycles in part (c) was added a few years ago, after a successful lobbying effort by BTA, to specifically address situations where there is NOT a bike lane.

    Moving past another vehicle on the right while in a bike lane was already legal, and is not an “overtaking and passing” maneuver. It’s just separate vehicles operating in separate lanes. 811.411(c) has no relevance here.

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  • ScottB September 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    What about a vehicle activated warning sign. One that alerts motorists of approaching cyclists in the adjacent lane, just like at Broadway/Williams?

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  • are September 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    which certain people repeatedly, incorrectly refer to as a mandatory side path law

    what would be the correct description of a law that requires a cyclist to use a sidepath?

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  • Dave September 28, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I doubt anyone will ever get a ticket for taking the lane in a downtown-type, slow-moving traffic situation. Taking the lane prevents a lot of right hooks–riders have to be propagandized/educated to do it.

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    • Chris I September 28, 2012 at 8:40 pm

      It also prevents anyone from bypassing gridlocked vehicle traffic. Might as well drive your car if you are going to be stuck behind them anyway, right?

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      • are September 28, 2012 at 9:39 pm

        there are often gaps you can slip through. also, one of the advantages of the bicycle is you can dismount and become an instant pedestrian.

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        • John Lascurettes September 30, 2012 at 10:01 am

          Did exactly this on SW Broadway recently. Three lanes (four counting the bike lane) were being merged down for one on the far left. Me and several other cyclists just hopped off our bikes and walked up the open sidewalk for two blocks past the gridlocked traffic and then got back in the bike lane where it was open. WIN!

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