A reader sent us a note recently about a traffic situation that I feel could use more community awareness and discussion. It has to do with stopping for people who are waiting to walk across the street. Oregon law (ORS 811.028) clearly states that if you see a person waiting to cross an intersection at a corner, and you’re able to do so in time, you must stop and let them cross. (UPDATE: To clarify, the law says you must only stop if the person extends their body/bike/cane/stroller into the intersection.)
But what if you’re on your bike and you’re afraid that people behind you in cars (or on bikes for that matter) might not stop and that they’d run into you? That’s a sensation I can relate to. It’s also one that reader Chris S. felt compelled to email us about. Here’s what he wrote:
“I wanted to discuss a situation where the cyclist is definitely in the wrong, but it is better to be wrong than getting rear ended by a car.
Traveling north on Naito coming into downtown just south of Market Street there is a crosswalk (map). About a year ago, I was approaching said crosswalk on my bicycle going the same speed as traffic (about 20-25mph) and a pedestrian wanted to cross. I braked to let them and heard the screeching of tires behind me as a car came within about a foot of rear ending me.
I then decided I would never do that again (even though the law requires me to stop) as I figure I am better off with a ticket than dead.
Well this morning I had the same thing happen except it was up on Barbur where it turns off to Naito and the Ross Island Bridge (map). The woman in the crosswalk yelled at me for not stopping (and I don’t blame her) but with cars immediately behind me (I was in the traffic lane as the bike lane ends at this point) there was no way I was going to risk being rear ended.
I just wish pedestrians understood that bikes don’t have brake lights and I wouldn’t trust a hand signal in this particular situation to properly communicate to a driver behind that I am stopping quickly and they need to as well.
I suppose one day I will get a ticket for this decision, but better a ticket than losing my life.
I can definitely relate to your quandary Chris. I always try to set a good example and stop for people waiting to cross the street in front of me, even knowing that my actions might be ignored and/or might make people behind me stop abruptly (I’ve also, unfortunately, had people on bikes fly by me on several occasions). When I’m in a bike lane it’s one thing; but the fear of making sure people in cars stop behind me while in a shared lane is even scarier. I try to be as demonstrative with my hand signals and other gestures prior to the stop, but I realize that might not always do the trick. So, sometimes I don’t stop when I probably, legally, should.
To me, this is yet another example of how people on bikes get a bad rap because they’re trying to get around in a transportation and legal system that wasn’t designed for the operation of a bicycle.
What do you think? Do you have any advice or insight for Chris?
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Interesting timing. Busch & Müller just came out with a dynamo rear light that functions like a car’s brake lights: it gets brighter when you hit the brakes. Pretty cool. Clever Cycles stocks their products.
How about a longer/wider light, that both gets brighter when breaking AND has right and left turn capacities?
How about a bike brake light that does that 3 to 5 blink strobe on brake application like some cars are doing?
This could be done with brake lever switches/sensors as others have done in the past; there is a current forum discussion about this on THIS site. Instructables-Brake light for bike
I suspect there may also be a cheap way to do brake light activation with accelerometers like exist in most smartphones. This way the tail Light is one sealed unit with no odd installation or wires to be run.
Also, existing LED technology is compatible with low duty cycle overdriving: you might run it 100% of the time @ 100% but you can get away with 200%-300% for only 10% of total run time. In other words: in every bright LED light hides a brighter strobe.
If you run the lights off a dynamo (more accurately, magneto) hub, you can see exactly what’s happening to wheel speed because the raw power out is AC. I made a little circuit that watched zero crossings, and connected a battery when the bike was too slow, for a standlight.
You do the same for a brake light, no accelerometer needed.
Optimally a brake light should activate on the IMMEDIATE application of the brakes.
Given the fractional safety margins of hundredths of a second and single digit feet I would not consider a brake light that waits for full stop or over activates on any speed reduction to be an effective brake light.
For myself I’d prefer the KISS solution of using the moped brake lever that is pre-wired; I have much experience with weather related electrical failures on bicycles and autos where home brew very kludges are concerned.
A ready made piece of junk has the advantage of being industrially manufactured while the hand made superior design suffers from lack of injection molding, and welding and other expensive fabrication methods.
For normal people that have neither the skill nor patience for this a single tail light that performs as a brake light right out of the box is the best bet.
I have a few thoughts on this:
Since cyclists are usually closer to the curb side, it is a bit harder to calculate when a cyclist and pedestrian will come into conflict when the pedestrian will cross.
Many pedestrians will not cross even if the cyclist is slowing or stopping for them. Similar to the drivers who insist that you go first when they have the right-of-way.
The law says a vehicle needs to stop when a pedestrian is in the lane or an adjacent lane. Never mind that this is a rarely followed rule by either cyclists or motorists, I have often wondered how this makes sense at all for cyclists at a “reasonable” speed. If i am turning right, or crossing a street in an adjacent lane, there’s really no chance that I’m going to hit a pedestrian. This is generally the viewpoint of pedestrians as well who seem to have no problem crossing against the light when the only through traffic are cyclists.
Finally, there is one place in town where I think we need to do better as cyclists. The bus stop on the Hawthorne bridge is a location where I regularly see cyclists fail to stop for passengers getting on and off the bus. I have seen people miss the bus because no one would stop long enough for them to cross the bike path. I see passengers leaving the bus with actual fear in their eyes thanks to the “yellow jacket sprint” mentality that dominates on the westbound approach to the bridge.
I think this reflects badly on all of us and I’m surprised I’ve never seen an injury there.
I agree with you that people on bikes should yield at that bus stop when they see a bus boarding/alighting passengers. It’s too tight.
But really, it’s a problem with the design, which creates a problem with behavior. I’ve heard it referred to as “manufactured conflict,” where the design ensures that users will be put into confusing, unsafe, unpredictable situations.
Whenever a bike lane is to the right of a right-turn-only lane, someone designed that bad situation, and it could have been avoided.
The Hawthorne bus stop really needs to have a 10 foot curb extension installed to provide room for passengers. The bus will need to wait in the curbside auto lane, but it’s a small price to pay for safety and comfort. I’m surprised TriMet hasn’t pursued this further, since it’s their customers that are going to get hurt one of these days from their poor design.
I feel the Hawthrone bus stop location works against Peds and Cyclists due to inherent design flaws.
Why should peds NEED to cross what is basically a traffic lane to get to the bus? And why should cyclists need to stop for people getting on the bus?
It’s like stopping a bus (such as a #6 on MLK) in the middle of the street and asking riders to play “human frogger” as the get on and off. Because that is how it was designed by the engineers, basically.
Sort of the inherent “2nd class citizen” thought that is given to much of our cycling/transit infrastructure, especially when they have to mix. Weird half-measures shoehorned into existing infrastructure that just sort of works OK.
I totally feel you about people being more considerate though. A little more of that with cyclists and drivers alike would go a LONG ways!
Back in the original streetcar days, streetcars let off passengers in the middle of the street, since there was no real danger in the pre-automobile era when the tracks were laid. I believe the laws were inconsistent from place to place, but motorists either menaced the pedestrians leaving the streetcar, or complained mightily about laws requiring them to wait, which was one of the motivations for tearing out streetcars and replacing them with buses, which could get out of the way of the all-important automobile.
Oh and let’s not forget how easy it is to emergency brake and signal at the same time. I feel this guy… ticket is definitely less expensive than being injured or worse.
This happens to me on Salmon. It’s taught me to look as far ahead as possible for pedestrians getting ready to cross and using hand signals as much as possible.
Still, sometimes someone will dart out and I have to make a quick decision. Fortunately, in most of the places that I would have gotten into trouble, there is enough of a shoulder and/or I ride slow enough so that I can jump the sidewalk and jam the brakes.
There are some cross streets where there is almost guaranteed to be pedestrians waiting (Park blocks during an evening theater performance or museum hours) where I just slow way down ahead of the intersection and force the cars to wait behind me.
All I got so far were a few raised middle fingers 🙁
If the car hits you then it was following too close and is the car’s fault. If you hit the pedestrian, then it’s your fault. If you’re too pussy to take a hit don’t ride your bike.
Dude. Sunny. Seriously? If I get rear-ended by a car I think determining fault is sort of secondary to whether or not I survive the hit. And “too pussy to take a hit”? I don’t understand. This isn’t football.
Football is an apt analogy since runny backs/receivers are taught how to protect their bodies hit after hit. Riding in traffic inherently means there’s a possibility of cars running into us and we can’t use that as an excuse to endanger the foot people. This doesn’t mean I know how to take a hit from a car, but I’m not gonna scare myself into endangering the foot peoples because I’ve scared myself into believing cars are gonna hurt me.
Traffic’s a football match and everyone’s out here with the same equipment and has the same objective: winning/not getting quashed. Ha.
Maybe you forgot some details, there, Sunny?
Everyone’s padded up but the bigger monsters hit like a Mack truck. Local monster Ndamukong Suh, for example.
And even with all that padding studies are showing negative long-term effects from the brain getting jarred around by those hits. It happens with high-school and college athletes just as it does with well-protected soldiers being jarred by IED explosions. My coworker was a boxer in his younger years, now he’s close to being a vegetable. That shouldn’t be a price I have to pay to be ‘man enough’ to take a traffic lane at 20+ MPH without a brake light.
Better suit up then. Or buy a better full head helmet because that’s an inherent risk you take on a bike…or motorcycle.
No amount of padding will protect me if I make the decision to stop abruptly and unannounced leaving a driver on my tail with inadequate stopping distance… that’s the point here.
jonathan, i think it would be a pretty easy rule to forbid the use of the word “pussy” as a pejorative on these boards.
Too pussy? really? How old are we. I thought we were past using female anatomy as a perjorative or weak or cowardly, but I guess not.
Fine, replace it with “scaredy cat.”
Scaredy Cat? Really?!?! I’m calling PETA. Madonna is going to be cross with you.
Besides I haven’t heard that clearcut finding of fault in the case of the car that rear-ended our friend who was towing his child in a trailer on SE 60th recently. My hunch is that that rule may not be applied so strictly when bikes are involved. I could easily imagine some BS extenuating circumstance that the cop invokes to let the driver off the hook. I hope very much that I’m wrong.
Rear enders are almost always the ramming car’s fault. Very few exceptions.
You’re totally missing the point, it’s not the finding of fault after the wreck, it’s the broken bones and road rash during the wreck that people are worried about. Getting hit by a motor vehicle is nothing like taking a hit while playing football or boxing, even. Getting hit by a motor vehicle carries a finite probability of death every time that ranges from 5% when the motor vehicle is going 20 MPH or less to even money at 30 MPH, to 85% at 40 MPH. That’s an 85% chance of DYING because you stopped for a person crossing the street and the guy behind you didn’t.
If you survive the wreck then you can worry about finding fault, but survival comes first. It isn’t like getting rear-ended while driving a car or pickup truck where you might get a neck train or even a whiplash.
if cycling is really as dangerous as your fear mongering is making it out to be then perhaps the wisest choice is to use an alternate mode. and a hint to those who keep on buzzing pedestrians because they are afraid of being rear ended: its easy to come to a gradual stop if you are riding SLOWLY.
i wonder if some of the motorists who have mowed down dozens of pedestrians in oregon this year were also afraid of being rear ended…
Because riding slowly, while taking the lane on Naito makes a ton of sense?
There’s no good answer here.
Since cars have brake lights and occupy more space in a driver’s visual field given the driver is looking forward, I don’t think fear of rear ending is as much a concern for drivers as it is for cyclists.
per 814.404, a pedestrian does not acquire right of way merely by stepping into the street, if an approaching vehicle is “so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.” thus, in theory, if both you and the pedestrian are thinking clearly, she correctly judged that you could safely stop before she stepped off the curb. if she was mistaken, you may need to take evasive action and ring your bell and so on, but you need not make an unsafe stop.
sorry, sunny, you put “pussy” out there, you have to own it
I agree with you! Are we still talking about cats?
Out of context, your comment could be a line from “The Mack”
I agree that far too many people avoid a minor collision and let the bad driver off scot-free… you’re just delaying the inevitable and the next time the person being hit might not be paying as much attention and come out much worse…
I’d rather take a hit that I see/hear coming than to pass it on to somebody that might not be able to take it… the driver will hopefully learn not to tailgate bikes and it won’t have to be my 4 year old in the trailer that gets smashed (which made that recent story especially close to my heart)…
I braced for impact but held my ground twice last Sunday due to driver negligence but luckily they realized what they were doing at the last second and I wasn’t hit…
obviously you don’t want to do that when you’re facing certain death, but if you’re just going to bounce off at a low speed then I’m taking the hit…
I can’t help but think you’ve never been hit. I got T-boned by a truck (he rolled through a stop sign). That was two and a half years ago, and I’m still recovering. So. . . this ain’t some freaking game.
Also, 75% of the time I *do* stop for a pedestrian… they just sit there *blink blink* and stare. I usually have to tell them to go ahead… once in a while they refuse and insist I go on ahead. Awkward.
This is the time to be forcefully friendly. I usually yell out “Go DUMBASS!” I get angry stares but the message is communicated for the next day’s commute — where we’ll inevitably meet again.
I wouldn’t call calling someone a dumbass as any type of “friendly.” How about a big smile, wave of the hand, and a “Go ahead!” instead?
And seriously, if your POV is that we should all be prepared to be hit by cars when we ride our bikes, don’t ever get involved in advocacy.
And women should not learn self-defense?
Who said they should not? I don’t believe anybody has. Further, I don’t believe anybody teaches women self defense while ignoring and/or accepting the offenses acted against women.
Defensive riding is a worthy pursuit, I think, but an ideal system is one in which defense isn’t required. Judging by your comments, it seems to me you are against seeking such an ideal out of spite toward those that you think don’t practice defensive riding, but I hope you won’t forget that even while riding defensively, we can find ourselves dead.
Portland is not original enough and wants to emulate everything Copenhagen or whatever famous European bike city is doing. It won’t work here because of fear culture and an ingrained American backlash against slow moving traffic. Maybe if special cycling specific breathable padding were available for collarbones or what not, like padded motorcycling jackets, more people would become cycling commuters. Bunch of lemmings talking here trying to increase ridership by “advocating” away car traffic or bike paths when the dangers of body meets asphalt or metal is not addressed.
“Portland is not original enough and wants to emulate everything Copenhagen or whatever famous European bike city is doing.”
Do you honestly think about an entire city’s intentions in such a simple manner? I don’t care about emulating anybody. I care about considering concepts and implementing when possible those that remove harmful potential for any people and property from the roadways.
“It won’t work here because of fear culture and an ingrained American backlash against slow moving traffic.”
Just as culture had to get ingrained, culture can and does change continuously. Unless you know every way in which culture is currently changing at every moment, predictions like yours hold little credence. I once didn’t like to drive below 80 miles per hour, but now I hate driving at all, am very open to driving slowly, that’s just a tiny portion of my culture, and I’m just one of hundreds of millions in America. How do you figure you know what will and won’t work based upon America’s culture? I think there might be some gaps in your data’s relevancy to determining factors.
“Maybe if special cycling specific breathable padding were available for collarbones or what not, like padded motorcycling jackets, more people would become cycling commuters.”
Maybe, but maybe this conversation is less about getting people on bicycles and more about preserving the life of those already cycling. That’s just my perception, though. Maybe I overlooked all the details that made you think it’s a “Bunch of lemmings talking here trying to increase ridership by “advocating” away car traffic or bike paths when the dangers of body meets asphalt or metal is not addressed”, but I think that makes little sense given that you’re the one telling people to prepare for crashes while they’re saying they want a system that removes certain potential for crashes.
I’d encourage you to question your characterization of others as lemmings – http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2004/04/27/1081903.htm
Erinne. Sunny is really the name under which the Bike Snob of PDX writes.
As for me … since I live in a small community with 2 universities I pull out my Holier Than Thou card when I see a pedestrian and I am safe on my bike. Always nice to see the cars have to stop for peds.
if they have not stepped into the street, technically you do not have to stop. but if they are standing there waiting for an opening, you can help create the opening. better than yelling an insult might be to cheerfully say “pedestrian has the right of way.” and as someone else has noted elsewhere on this thread, you can commiserate as motorists blow through.
are Law says, “presence of a pedestrian”. Wanna guess how liberally that can be interpreted? Get a ticket for unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk citation, sometime. Ask Ginsberg. Come sit in traffic court, it’s fun. Pretty much, if you can see a pedestrian, and there is infrastructure for them to access, you stop if you ain’t one.
Of course, it’s perfectly legal to simply stand at a street corner, hold up traffic, never cross, put your cell phone on your other ear, do a 180, and just walk away.
Which Oregon law says that? None of 811 and 814 seem to imply any such requirement, unless a cyclist is riding on the sidewalk.
As if “holding up traffic” is a terrible sin. It’s an inconvenience, nothing more.
To combat this as I’m rolling up to stop for a pedestrian I say, “After you.” I find it clarifies what is going on and is friendly and fun.
Even more fun to say it with a French accent.
I treat this situation the same either in a car or on a bike. If I have to make a dramatic effort to stop for a pedestrian I will roll through the cross walk. As someone else said, keeping your head up so you can anticipate pedestrian crossings is part of being out on the road but you can’t always see everything. I do not expect perfection out of myself or others.
“..Traveling north on Naito coming into downtown just south of Market Street there is a crosswalk (map). About a year ago, I was approaching said crosswalk on my bicycle going the same speed as traffic (about 20-25mph) and a pedestrian wanted to cross. I braked to let them and heard the screeching of tires behind me as a car came within about a foot of rear ending me. …? Chris S
A question I would have for Chris, is whether in the situation he describes above, he had time and distance from the person wanting to stop, to attempt to signal for a stop. Traveling 20-25, a person probably could use a full 100′ to try get the message across to people approaching from the rear, that a stop by the road user ahead was intended.
If the hand signal for a stop message wasn’t getting across…there was no indication traffic from behind was responding by reducing speed, it wouldn’t be safe to stop.
Hand signals are useless bob. They are not standardized and I would like to see the percentage of people who get the ones that are standardized wrong on the driver’s test. I am betting that is the most missed question section and has been since the 30’s when hand signals were prevalent.
If more of us used them they wouldn’t be so useless.
You like riding with one hand in traffic?
in a straight line, with the other hand braking? yeah, i do it a lot.
In an “emergency braking” situation, like the one this article is talking about, you’re not going to be able to brake safely AND signal with a hand. Just not going to happen.
And what happens if the road is remotely rough (which is common in many parts of Portland.
Why is this an “emergency braking” situation? A car is expected to be able to stop, so why wouldn’t a person on a bike be able to do the same?
I have read the argument (re: stopping at stop signs) that it takes a car much longer to stop than a bike traveling at a same rate.
I guess my point is that if this is considered an “emergency” for a bike, how would an automobile ever be able to stop in time?
I would think that for the same speed it would take a bicycle longer to stop than a car. The contact patches (tires + pads) on a bicycle are MUCH smaller than even the smallest car and it’s the forces of friction that stop both vehicles. Plus most cars today have anti-lock brakes, and it takes some experience/skill to stop a bicycle abruptly without skidding the rear tire.
It’s an “emergency” because rarely to you have more than a second or two’s notice that someone is trying to cross the street. Usually they are in the process of walking up to the curb. So they kind of just appear there. Yes occasionally someone is waiting for extended periods of time. But usually its a pretty quick thing to happen. Especially if you are in traffic and can’t see in front of the vehicle in front of you. Most times I stop in a car it’s usually a pretty hard brake, and I don’t have a lot of time to slowly slow down. On a bike I have a little more time if the person is standing there and/or the line of sight is good. But this doesn’t happen all that often either.
Having 1-3 seconds to stop I would consider an “emergency” brake.
if “emergency” braking is required, the pedestrian is probably in violation of 814.040, and you are not actually required to yield right of way.
Careful – I know this is a Portland bike blog and that is the law in Oregon, but it is not the law in all states. The MA code is utterly silent on obligations on pedestrians (I’ve looked pretty hard). The inference is that if you are driving too fast to stop for a pedestrian, then that speed was unsafe for conditions.
They are standardized. They are spelled out in the ORS and they are identical to the ones that are spelled out in the California Vehicle Code too.
But I agree, most cyclists to them in a very half-hearted manner. I do mine big, proud an obvious. There is no doubt which why I’m turning when I do it. That said, I think most drivers who don’t also ride, would not recognize a stopping signal.
Also not to mention that unless you reverse your typical brake setup, the stop signal robs you of 75% of your braking power (front brake) which, in a quick-braking situation, is not advisable–even if you have the skills to brake hard with only one hand on the bars.
As an aside regarding signals, I simplified my commuting life a few years ago by forgoing right turn signals unless they are for other cyclists. My experience was that if I was in a bike lane with solid traffic to my left (i.e., no good opportunity to merge with auto traffic) and I signaled a right turn, very often the driver just behind or beside me would take it as the all-clear to go ahead and turn “with” me at the same time. They would invariably cut the corner and come close to sideswiping me. It just always felt like evading a right hook rather than making a simple right turn. I now only signal if I am going to cross someone’s path.
And that is exactly why I reversed my brake setup decades ago.
I have heard that UK bikes normally have the front brake lever on the right. Which is also the method used world wide (I think) for motorcycles. Maybe we should start a trend in Portland to switch bake controls so they are more compatible with the use of hand signals.
“…That said, I think most drivers who don’t also ride, would not recognize a stopping signal. …” John Lascurettes
If you haven’t tried the hand signal for stopping…arm extended at a 45 degree angle to the ground…try it. Make sure your arm is far away enough from your body for it to be clearly evident you’re signaling.
Note whether and how people in motor vehicles behind you respond. It’s been my experience out in Beaverton, that they slow and keep their distance as I proceed to an intersection or whatever other reason there is to stop.
In hand signaling, I also display the signal boldly. I want other road users to see me, maybe wake them up if their mind is drifting off. Sticking an arm out for turns effectively increases the overall square inches of above the road airspace a cyclist occupies on the road. Makes you more visible than when centered over the bars.
Some people worry about taking a hand off the bars to signal for turns. It probably would be beneficial to have some discussion about that, because for most people, with some practice and helpful suggestions, taking a hand off the bars isn’t likely to pose a great risk of a crash, if good judgment is used.
Gee, I was taught (as a child cyclist in 1960 in California) that the signal for stop was the left hand extended straight down. Arm straight out, bent 90 degree at the elbow, and the forearm pointing down. (That puts your palm facing rearward). Maybe the 45 degree thing is a recent adaptation. I think that’s in a lot of old bike manuals as well.
814.440 makes cross reference to 811.395, which says “hand and arm extended downward from the left side of the vehicle.” the ODoT bike manual illustrates turn signals, but not a stop signal. most other sources indicate upper arm straight out, elbow bent straight down at ninety degrees, palm facing back.
Maybe a red blinky light strapped to the underside of the wrist would make the motion more obvious.
You mean similar to this?
“…Gee, I was taught (as a child cyclist in 1960 in California) that the signal for stop was the left hand extended straight down. Arm straight out, bent 90 degree at the elbow, and the forearm pointing down. …” Doug K
Maybe holding your arm that way works for you. It doesn’t work for me; it’s awkward…very hard for me to do that 90 degree down thing at the elbow. Up is o.k., but not down. My anatomy isn’t messed up, so I figure other people would also have a difficult time making a signal for a stop in that manner. When the upper arm is held parallel to the ground, once the forearm and hand moves to point to the ground, the elbow doesn’t want to go far enough back to allow the forearm to be perpendicular to the ground.
Sitting in some cars where the driver’s back is reasonably straight, it might work out o.k., but on a bike, I don’t think so.
Be a bit of a rebel…I guess that’s what I’ve been doing, because I use the 45 degree angle thing, and it works great. Also doesn’t make me feel like I need to see a chiropractor afterwords. Check out the ‘stop’ illustrated on this motorcycle signal page:
I can vouch for the slanted-down-plus-palm-out stop signal. That’s the one I use on my bicycle (instead of the origami-arm method recommended in the driver’s manual) and it usually seems to work well. I tend to do it with a lot of “English”, repeated several times rapidly.
The other method that also works, for planned stops, is both feet off pedals and spread wide, as if I were planning an extremely stable stop. This seems to work well with the pedestrians IN the crosswalk. Not so good in combination with the other signal, since you’re down to a one-hand-one-butt attachment to the bicycle.
Another way to look at it–and a judge might agree–is that maybe a bike stopping unexpectedly in front of an auto always constitutes “an immediate hazard,” thereby releasing the rider of the bike from having to stop.
If not, then I don’t know. I may be straddling the line here between academic and practical, but…
Sometimes in traffic (car, bike, or other) I must stop suddenly, because the unexpected arises: another road user in front of me stops suddenly; a car/dog/kid darts out from the side; etc., etc. This is a normal part of using the roadway. and it’s why the law mandates safe following distances.
If I believe that I cannot stop both suddenly and safely when on a bike–in other words, if I don’t think I’m likely to survive normal roadway conditions when sharing the lane–then should I be sharing the lane with autos in the first place?
If I fail to stop for the person waiting to cross, am I setting the dangerous precedent for those behind me (in autos) to follow, and thereby increasing the danger of the situation?
I’ve been hit in traffic by cars several times, both when walking and when riding, and in no case was it ever because I was at fault or was doing something particularly risky–I was just there crossing or using the road, and the operator of the offending auto–in every case–failed to pay adequate attention. I’ve been lucky not to be seriously hurt.
My point is, there’s risk in using the road. I don’t feel comfortable with that as a reason to dismiss the rules of the road. However, I’d love it if the rules exempted me from stopping under these conditions–maybe we’ll never know until it’s tested in court.
I’m with Sunny in all but word choice. Are you going to stop working because you might get fired?
I am also with sunny on this. If you are so frakking scared of being hit from behind then you should get the ef out of the lane. Endangering a ped for your convenience is the cyclist equivalent of “I did not see you”. If you cannot ride safely in a lane then ride on the bloody sidewalk.
Except that the cyclist is not really endangering the ped much at all. It’s pretty easy to miss a pedestrian, and even if you don’t, the bicycle weighs less than 1/10 what the car does, and is probably traveling more slowly anyhow. So please stop the pearl-clutching about how dangerous the bike is. The bike is a little dangerous, not a lot dangerous. Yes, the cyclist should stop, but if he doesn’t, it’s nowhere near the danger presented by a car that doesn’t stop.
I am a true believer in transportation heirarchies: Ped > Bike >> Cage.
Threatening peds because you are scared of metal cages is a sure fire indicator that you should be riding on the damn sidewalk (and slowly). Riding a bike gives you no special privileges. Pedestrians matter just as much (perhaps even more) than you do. Jeebus Effing Christ. I can’t even believe that this is a debate.
Really? Riding on the sidewalk? The *most* dangerous way to ride for the cyclist and other travelers? I call BS
fine. take the cycle track or bike lane. or better yet, if you are so paralyzed by fear that you are willing to endanger peds ride the bus.
taking the lane is not a right. if you are willing to endanger vulnerable road users because of some irrational fear then please, please do not ride in the lane.
[blockquote]taking the lane is not a right.[/blockquote]
interesting thought… has anybody ever had their riding privileges revoked? judges can order all kinds of weird restrictions on your life… has this ever been done?
I’m with Greg on this, but also taking the lane (unless explicitly exempted) is as much a ‘right’ as driving a car (i.e. it’s a privilege) – the law doesn’t say you can only do it “if you’re not a pussy.” At issue here is that cars are equipped with brake lights because, in essence, the insurance lobby pushed for it as one of several innovations shown to increase occupant safety (and also reduce payouts). Bicycles, on the other hand, do not yet require brake lights – and the OP here arises mainly from situations where following drivers have little or no indication that you’re stopping for a pedestrian (other than seeing the pedestrian themselves, which is not always guaranteed).
When I was young seat belts weren’t mandatory, air bags didn’t exist, cars had only two brake lights, and bicycles weren’t required to have lights at all. Until, in the course of evolution, I’m comfortable with being able to stop abruptly in traffic with minimal fear of being hit, I’ll exercise agility and vocal courtesy. In other words, if I can’t comfortably stop I’m going to warn the pedestrian in as courteous and obvious an audible and visual manner possible that I’m not going to stop.
But I won’t ride on the sidewalk.
if you injure someone while breaking a law that privilege can be taken away from you. but i was not coming at this question from a legal perspective. imo, it is your ethical responsibility to look out for more vulnerable road users. if you are unwilling to do this, the, i would urge you to change the way you bike, pick an alternate route, or use an alternate transportation mode.
“Paralyzed by fear” and simply looking out for your own well being as much as you would like to for the well being of a pedestrian are two different things. Please consider that some who are choosing to not stop might just be thinking in a way we call “practically”.
The idea of “rights” is an outdated concept in my opinion. I’d rather see our choices be based on physical possibility, which includes people acting outside the parameters of “rights” as we so frequently do.
That said, why do we have more expectation for drivers and cyclists to be ever vigilant and accommodating than we do for pedestrians to do anything?
The reason we expect the most from drivers, some from cyclists, and very little from pedestrians, is that responsibility should scale with the danger introduced. A head-on collision of two pedestrians is very low-energy; pedestrians aren’t very dangerous. Add a bicycle, and you add danger. The pedestrian is also dangerous to the bicycle, but the root cause of the danger is the speed of the bicycle; without that energy, no danger.
And a car is far and away the most dangerous of the three; statistically, about 15 times more likely to kill a pedestrian than a bicycle. So drivers should make the greatest accommodation and bear the most responsibility.
The first traffic principle I teach as a coach, instructor and legal expert is “First come, First served.” If you are in the lane, you are entitled to the spot you’re in. No one has the right to take it from you. You may yield it, if you choose, but as long as you’re there, it is yours.
I don’t usually agree with you spare_wheel, but I give you a ton of credit for consistency and not being a hypocrite about this situation.
How does one determine a person is more or less important than another?
That is straight up malarky. I triple dog dare you and will sneak all the beer you want in to the hospital if you let 220 pound me hit you at my cruising spin of about 22 mph. You in?
Compared to a 3000lb car moving at 30, I’d take a collision with you every time. Wouldn’t be fun, but far less likely to kill me than a car.
Are you people completely ignorant of physics? And are you completely ignorant of the the documented mortality rates for bike vs car collisions with pedestrians? Cars are far more dangerous than bicycles. YES, we should defer to pedestrians, YES, we should obey the law, but a bicycle running a crosswalk is not in the same league as a car running a crosswalk.
nice try but the question was not which you would prefer but whether you would volunteer. i guess we now know that you would not.
Perhaps the question is whether you would volunteer, but the question was asked in reference to a comment originally made about the difference between cyclists hitting things and automobiles hitting things, so his try was quite relevant, I think.
Well straight up duh. Are you going to enlighten us on why you prefer Captain Crunch to poop for breakfast? I think you may not be a Dr, but only play one on blog. Either that you you have a doctorate in stating the obvious. Obvi.
Well straight up duh. Are you going to enlighten us on why you would prefer Captain Crunch to poop for breakfast? I think you may not be a Dr, but only play one on blog. Either that you you have a doctorate in stating the obvious. Obvi.
Really? I think this story may say otherwise:L
I regularly drive through both of these crosswalks in the months when I don’t commute by bike. Both are awkward in placement. The one on Barbur sits at a right hand curve and folks in the right lane are bustin’ down to get to the Ross Island Bridge, exceeding the speed limit. The other crosswalk is where pedestrians are trying to get to PSU, etc. Visibility at both sucks and most people don’t anticipate having to stop at all. When riding, if I feel safe to stop, I will. But frankly, even whenever I stop in a car I fear getting rear-ended regardless, at either crossing.
At the Barbur crosswalk I’ve seen cars rear end cars when they stop for the crosswalk. Moving way too fast and simply not expecting to have to stop. Market street is a little easier to see someone and stop safely, but it still isn’t good.
If we advocate for breaking pedestrian stop rules, then motorcyclists, who are also vulnerable to cars, should not stop either.
Two words: Brake. lights.
A few more words: Capable of always going the speed of motor vehicle traffic.
You’re comparing apples to oranges.
Actually it’s more like apples to bananas than oranges. There is some generic resemblance between bicycles and their descendants motorcycles, but aside from two wheels in an inline arrangement making for similar balance and braking physics there is just not much comparison.
I think the law says you have to stop only when someone actually steps out into the crosswalk, not when they’re on the sidewalk. Unless it has changed recently. So if you stop before they step out, that’s a courtesy. If you don’t want to, no guilt-trip. But slowing down before they step out might help avoid an emergency stop and a rear-ending.
Or it might CAUSE a rear-ending. You know what, either stay to the right and stop, or blow through and yell “SORRY!”
Correct. They must step off the curb (with their limbs, crutches, or wheelchair). Advocates tried to change this recently but failed.
From the same ORS that Jonathan links to:
Also worthy of special note: if there’s a bike lane, this problem goes away entirely.
Unless you are rear-ended by other bikes, which is entirely possible.
When I’m on NE 21rst I never see any cars or cyclists stopping for pedestrians (and there are a lot). I always do my best (but am not perfect) to stop and wave them through. It’s pretty easy, doesn’t take much time, and I almost always get a smile or laugh and a ‘Thank you’.
When I’m a pedestrian I won’t step towards the curb if I see a bike coming.
I’m sorry that the mindset of these cyclists frightens you. Hopefully they’ll see the error of their ways.
Perhaps he is just being thoughtful and wants to allow them to maintain their momentum and their safety? I do the same.
That’s also how I interpreted it, as I do the same, too. I also do the same for automobiles, because it’s the desire to do it for people that pushes me to do it for cyclists.
Once upon a time I drove a ratty old Ford Taurus wagon, with the center high brakelight. It got to the stage where we knew we had a replacement lined up (family purchase). I decided that I *would* *not* *care* what was behind me; if I saw a pedestrian with a foot in the crosswalk, I would stop if at all possible. I was rear-ended twice. From this, I conclude that no hand signal is sufficient, that no “great new bike light” short of a death ray is sufficient. These drivers didn’t see the rear end of a full-sized station wagon.
So what do I do when there is a pedestrian in the crosswalk? I pull out of traffic and stop. I *expect* that the traffic will not stop, and I am right more than half the time. I use this to accumulate smugness points — as long as more cars run crosswalks than I run lights and stops, I figure I am ahead.
All this talk about taking hits and toughening up is BS. Getting hit by a car hurts.
If you were rear ended twice, why did you drive the car the second time? If there was no damage, you weren’t hit very hard. Furthermore, a car’s braking power is much greater with less distance than a bicycle at similar speeds. It has to do with suspension and weight transfer distribution between four disc brakes and four wide rubber tires.
“It has to do with suspension and weight transfer distribution between four disc brakes and four wide rubber tires.”
“All this talk about taking hits and toughening up is BS. Getting hit by a car hurts.”
With all due respect this statement is “razor blades in apples” fear mongering. I am certain that no one reading this blog can truthfully state that they have been hit from behind because they braked for a ped.
And you are ignoring mass. Got any data?
Contact patch. Weight/area of tire contact patch against the ground. For simplification let’s say both car and bike have ability to lock all wheels and skid to a stop. 200lbs bike versus 2000lbs car(10x the weight). The tiny contact area of a 2 120psi bicycle tires against the road is no match for the contact area of 4 wide car tires(which would be well over 10x the area of the bike tire. Add ABS and it’s no contest. It’s well discussed on the internet.
I don’t know whether a car or a bike can stop faster. I had actually been under the impression that a bike with decent-width tires (not 23s) could stop faster than a car. But if the (unlinked) interwebs say a modern car can stop faster, I won’t argue that point.
But I will argue that it doesn’t matter. The distance traveled during reaction time is more important than stopping distance. Even if a car can stop in 2/3 the distance of a bike, if the driver is following 1 second behind the bike and has the idealized, classical reaction time of 1 second, they’re going to hit the bike.
Yeah, so locking the wheels actually *reduces* friction. Look up “static vs sliding friction”. Thanks for playing though.
That’s only one factor. You haven’t considered the mass distribution differences of riders and cars. The center of gravity for a rider is high and emergency braking tends to skid the rear wheel when the rider lunges all his weight to the front and maybe tumble over the handlebars. A car’s center of gravity is comparatively low but will never endo the car even if a large percentage of its weight goes to the front, possibly skidding the rear wheels against the road due to loss of weight, therefore loss of friction against the road.
These theoreticals are moot as we’ve played braking games at PIR in both race bikes and race cars. The best brakes on race bicycles nearly all stop in similar distances whereas the bigger the brakes on the racing cars meant shorter braking distances — which were always shorter than the bikes. The more expensive brakes on the more expensive racing cars contributed to shorter distances due to bigger brake calipers and brake discs. There’s very little room for brake improvement on bicycles.
Lord, you are full of it. It’s EASY to improve the braking performance of a bicycle, since the theoretical limit is established what it takes to flip the rider. All you need is to put the center of mass on a less steep line behind the front wheel’s contact patch; you can accomplish that by using some recumbents, or a ballasted longtail, or a tandem, or a frontloading cargo bike. Contact patch, that’s variable too — I run 60mm Big Apples, and I’ve lusted after some of the fat tires at the LBS down the street (yes, I can fit them, at least some of them). If I want more contact patch, I can easily double it by running the tires at 30psi; 20 is possible (that’s when I start to notice that the tires are low).
ABS, got that covered too. There have been mechanical ABS systems since forever (see Bicycling Science, it was discussed in the 2nd edition). I have personally done it myself, in a relay race known as “Beer Bike”, where riders need to decelerate, by some means or another, from 30mph to zero in a very short distance (options are flipping, braking, or running into the 3 football players at the end. The guy in the middle is wearing a cup.) My preferred method was off the back of the saddle and pulsing the brakes whenever the rear wheel lifted. It worked, though the brakes smelled of burning rubber by the time I stopped.
And the fastest stops come when the wheels are not skidding; that’s the whole point of ABS, it tries to keep the wheels from locking, and failing that (on ice/snow) it at least gives you small intervals where you might be able to steer.
I would not worship too much at the altar of contact patch; the force per unit area also matters, and you trade one off against the other. You have to also be aware of differences in compound — racing bike tires will be tuned for low rolling friction because power is much more limited; racing car tires are likely to be tuned for grip. You’ll notice this the first time you mess with snow tires, because they *smell funny* — like car tires! They’ve got a cold-weather grip rubber.
I ride a longtail, usually somewhat ballasted to the rear (Big Apples, Salsa Gordo, Rohloff, extra-thick snapdeck, spare tire, some cords for cargo, I’d call that “ballast”), with good-sized disk brakes, and the limit on braking is probably the strength of my wrists. I’ve never managed to lift the rear wheel off the ground.
And do please can the macho accident act. I’ve crashed 4 times in one day and kept going, only stopping after the second hit on the same hip after being run into by a car. A car put me in the hospital for a week, with a brief stay in the NICU. Ever spent time in the NICU? Ever fractured your skull through the eye socket? No? What a pussy.
4 times in one day? Hope you were high for that one.
There was damage. And it was a full-sized station wagon, with lots of steel and don’t-care in the back. I could drive away. The cars that rear-ended me did not; one was leaking radiator fluid.
I am astonished at how you people talk about collisions, and how you are so certain it would all end up okay for the bike and the cyclist.
presumed liability would change how a majority of vehicular traffic behaves in this country. “safe operation” would take on a new meaning
This. THIS. Heck yes.
I’ve stopped towards the right side of the road to let somebody cross the street… the cars kept going by as if nothing happened… I started moving further and further into the lane to try to get them to pay attention… the continued to fly by and honked… after a couple minutes all the traffic was gone and the pedestrians and I all shared a sarcastic laugh and we shrugged it off…
This also happens to me a few times. SE 82nd comes to mind . . .
I really appreciate the crosswalk situation in Portland (having come from Chicago where people in cars rarely stop…but Chicago also has many more stop lights and stop signs, so it’s a bit different). As a pedestrian, I wait a couple yards from the curb if I see a lot of cars coming fast or a bike coming and wait for a bit of an opening. I never step out into the street unless I see the car(s) actually slowing down; I also try to make eye-contact, thanking them with a wave.
Once, while crossing Powell where there wasn’t a crosswalk, I was doing it Chicago style and planned on waiting in the middle turn-lane section for a group of cars to go by, but two lanes of cars stopped for me. I was amazed and stunned, and I waved profusely.
I have an orange flag at the end of an old collapsible radio antenna that fits in my pocket for crossing busy streets. There’s no mistaking that I’m intending to cross.
Sounds to me like a product design concept worthy of a Kickstarter campaign 🙂
They have similar available in Salt Lake for crossing streets downtown, they look like small crossing guard flags.
Amazing, when you think about it, the lengths to which we go to accommodate, naturalize, enshrine unobservant drivers.
Imagine if the official solution at Ladd’s Circle was to issue pedestrians orange flags as a way to deal with the bikey folks failing to yield. Ha.
As a pedestrian, I try not to put cyclists in this position by waiting before crossing in a situation like the one described. However, I am really tired of cyclists riding at high speed with no cars behind them and cussing at you if you try to cross in a crosswalk because they don’t think they should have to slow.
I’ve often noticed then when riding, if I slow to a stop to let pedestrians pass, cars behind me will just keep on going. But when I started using my left hand to signal that I was stopping, drivers become far more likely to take notice of why I’m signaling, and then recognize it is also their duty to stop. Works about 90% of the time.
they’re probably confused about whether you’re going to make a left and they just don’t want to run you over…
Possibly, but such speculation doesn’t help the conversation’s potential for objectivity.
Honestly, this situation rarely comes up for me. Maybe because most places I ride where there are heavily used crosswalks, I’m in a bike lane anyway.
But in the rare event when there were a pedestrian about to cross and there were a motor vehicle bearing down on my in my lane, you’d better bet I’d keep going. As has been pointed out, I’m a lot less of a danger to a pedestrian than a car is to me.
I suspect the tough-talkers on this thread have never actually been rear ended. Well, I *have* been rear ended. Twice. In a car. And each time it effed me up for months, preventing me from riding a bike for a considerable amount of time.
I should add that in one of those instances it was because I had stopped for a pedestrian, and the next driver — far behind me, and who was apparently reading or something — plowed into me at 30+mph. So while I am far better at stopping for pedestrians than most people, I’m NOT going to do it if it isn’t safe to do so (unless, of course, the pedestrian is already crossing and would genuinely be in imminent danger by my failing to stop).
The other factor not really being discussed much here is that in almost all situations like this, the pedestrian isn’t going to cross ANYWAY unless he/she is sure I’m going to stop. So while I’ve created an inconvenience for the pedestrian, I haven’t put him/her in any immediate danger.
you were rear ended in a *CAR*, not while riding a bike. if you are so incredibly scared of being hit from behind, then you should ride more slowly, avoid taking the lane, or use some other mode.
and I have to point out that not one single commenter has stated that they have been hit from behind braking for PEDs. this fear is irrational. if you lack the confidence to ride responsibly and safely in the lane then IMO you should stay out of the lane.
I agree that the comcern regarding rear-ending is a fear and not likely a very high risk so discussing it at such lengths like this is only gives people who are nervous riding their bikes one more thing to be nervous about. To your point though, I would also say bikes not stopping at cross walks “endangers vurnerable road users “is over stating things. While there are stories about bikes whizzing through cross walks I would put that down more as inconsiderate behavior with the actual risk of harm being pretty low.
i can assure you that if i were to hit a pedestrian at my average cycling speed there would almost certainly be very serious injuries. if people are blowing through ped-occupied crosswalks at full speed its just a matter of time before tragedy strikes. and if you think that there rancor in the cycling debate now…
I”m not “incredibly scared,” just honest. As I clearly stated, the situation of coming up on a crosswalk while there’s a car right on my tail is quite rare. I can’t even recall a single specific event of it happening. I think you may be right that somehow being on a bike carries less risk of being rear-ended than being in a car (although following too close is the #1 cause of car-car crashes, nearly equaling the next two causes – excessive speed and failure to yield – combined).
It’s even more rare that the pedestrian would step off the curb while there’s a cyclist coming down the road with a car barreling down on his ass. In this actual event, most pedestrians will see it coming (which is exactly what happened when I got rear-ended, BTW). The danger to pedestrians in this situation is being greatly overhyped by a couple of people who may be envisioning a different hypothetical scenario than the rest of us.
And now, because of my honesty in saying what I’d do in this mostly-theoretical situation, you’re telling me I don’t have a right to the road? Your ideology fails to recognize the broad and sensible middle ground between “strong and fearless” and “riding slowly on the sidewalk”.
“not one single commenter has stated that they have been hit from behind braking for PEDs.” So what part of “I had stopped for a pedestrian” in my earlier post was not clear to you?
“you’re telling me I don’t have a right to the road?”
“then you should ride more slowly, avoid taking the lane, or use some other mode.”
“So what part of “I had stopped for a pedestrian” in my earlier post was not clear to you?”
The fact that you were rear-ended while driving was clear and is, IMO, not relevant to the current topic.
I have well over 100K in cycling mileage and can’t recall a time where I was even close to being rear-ended by a car. I have about the same number of miles on the two cars I have owned and have been rear ended many times.
“straw man: ‘then you should ride more slowly, avoid taking the lane, or use some other mode.'”
That’s not a strawman. Your telling me where and how to ride is tantamount to telling me I don’t have a right to the road. People like you who condemn everyone else who violates THEIR personal little moral code are the biggest annoyance of living in Portland (and, honestly, there aren’t many).
I’m going to keep riding at the speed that makes sense to me, in the lane that makes sense to me, and not on the stupid sidewalk (except in a few circumstances where that makes sense).
“The fact that you were rear-ended while driving was clear and is, IMO, not relevant to the current topic.”
Then why didn’t you say so? When said that no one had talked about being rear ended while stopping for a pedestrian, you did NOT say “while cycling”. Your misunderstanding of my point was so great that it was not much of a stretch to think that you missed whole sentences of my original post. I guess you assumed I’m using the ESP-enabled version of the interweb; sorry, I’m still on the other side of that digital divide.
I think we can agree on one point: the risk of being rear ended while cycling does seem to be far less than while driving. I’m not entirely sure WHY that is; I think a detailed discussion of THAT would be enlightening, and far more so than bashing each other for how we MIGHT behave in a theoretical situation that I think you and I both admit is quite rare.
Note that there is difference between the risk of being rear-ended, and the risk of being harmed when you are rear-ended. I agree that it seems like a higher risk of being rearended in a car, I think because cars much more often tailgate cars than bicycles. However, (having been rearended in several cars), in a car you are quite protected from harm. The risk of being harmed by a rear-end collision is probably higher on the bicycle even though the risk of the accident itself is lower.
“Your telling me where and how to ride is tantamount to telling me I don’t have a right to the road.”
Nonsense. A little more caution is not an exclusion from the road.
“When said that no one had talked about being rear ended while stopping for a pedestrian, you did NOT say “while cycling”
I felt that it was understood that this is a post about a cyclist fearing a collision from behind.
I agree that the risks of being hit from behind are lower for a cyclist than a motorist. I think that motorists tend to give cyclists in the lane a wider berth than they give other motorists.
You could cycle 239,847,238,974,239,749 miles without having a car almost rear-end you, and it wouldn’t negate the fact that cars can come close to rear-ending anybody who has ridden only .23 miles. Similarly, some people drive their whole lives without getting rear-ended. I don’t think anybody is arguing for cyclists not stopping when there’s no indication they might get rear-ended, so perhaps your focus on such situations is irrelevant, and your lack of attention to possibilities outside of what you’ve personally experienced a bit ignorant.
If you believe a car is unable to stop in time to avoid you stopping for a pedestrian, don’t you think you might consider not stopping for the pedestrian? I think the only situation in which I wouldn’t, is if I believed it inevitable that I would harm the pedestrian, but in such a case I think a car driving too closely behind me would hurt the pedestrian more, so in such a situation we might want to put some onus on the pedestrian to be responsible for his/her safety, too.
Just as one can’t always trust blinkers, a pedestrian might not want to trust any protections put in place by laws. Yes, I’d hate for any situation to come to that, and I’d prefer we do whatever we can to avoid it, but accidents happen sometimes, whether on the part of the auto driver, cyclist, or pedestrian, and we simply have to adapt to the situation if we prefer to not get harmed or harm anybody else.
Best comment yet – thanks for grounding us in reality GlowBoy.
I was pulled over near salmon fountain for shooting a gap since cars run reds on naito and peds jump out.. knew what need to be done to be safe.
ticket 260 bucks unfriendly police man, but lowered to 130 with court and a chat.
how about we all just agree to pay the ____k attention to whats going on and just merge as they all do in Rome. I’ve never felt safer on the streets than in Rome. Peds, Bikes, and Cars just agree not to hit each other as they lose their priviledge to drive
“Well this morning I had the same thing happen except it was up on Barbur where it turns off to Naito and the Ross Island Bridge (map). The woman in the crosswalk yelled at me for not stopping (and I don’t blame her) but with cars immediately behind me (I was in the traffic lane as the bike lane ends at this point) there was no way I was going to risk being rear ended”
I know this intersection well and it is a dreadful crosswalk for everyone. Pedestrians are expected to step off the curb in front of traffic often moving faster tha 45mph.
Once (while driving) I witnessed a rear-end here where the first car stopped for the crosswalk and the car behind didn’t.
The bike lane continuing NB on Barbur past the split is expected to enter onto the sidewalk where I guess you’re supposed to walk your bike across the Naito/RI split (see the map link above for a photo). I tried this exactly ONE TIME. Car in the right hand lane stopped but the one in the left hand lane didn’t. Scary.
So for the last decade I take the lane through here — in front of cars moving 30-45mph or faster. Drivers will sometimes get their grills mere feet away from my wheel. Whee!
gotta take the lane regardless sometimes, cars just need to know sharing is good
I love to read the great lengths that cyclists will go to in order to excuse themselves from obeying the law.
I’ve been hit from behind by a bicycle while brek
yeah, that ol “I’ll do what it takes to not get killed is such a cliche.”
The law says a pedestrian is crossing “when any part or extension of the pedestrian, including but not limited to any part of the pedestrians body, wheelchair, cane, crutch or bicycle, moves onto the roadway in a crosswalk with the intent to proceed.”
This is how I signal my intent to cross to cars when I am walking. Step off the curb.
And that behavior is also what I expect from pedestrians when crossing.
Standing 2 feet back from the curb giving me an exasperated look is not asserting that you intend to cross. Neither is standing there with a stroller, head down, texting. Neither is standing behind a parked car with only the top corner of your head and one eye sticking out.
I can’t know your intent unless you signal it. How to signal it seems pretty well defined in the law.
and every car that passes I take another step into the road until I’m in their way… it’s half-and-half on whether the cars will then stop or will honk at me and swerve… usually better compliance the closer to the city core you are…
I have a 15mm/bottle opener on a lanyard on my keychain. I stick my arm out with the tool-a-whirling. Somehow, they don’t see me, but they do see that tool, and it’s not even blaze orange or reflective. Another time I stuck a gallon jug of milk out into the road at windshield level.
And once, walking two kids on Halloween, I was carrying a REALLY BRIGHT LED flashlight, and I would just aim it right at the driver’s face. That worked, too.
What’s best is that someone is going to reply to tell me that my behavior is “anti-social”.
It is antisocial to assert your right to use the public ROW.
It is much more socially acceptable to let the car run you over because our society sees it as no fault other than your own.
That is what I thought. And yet I had the experience just the other day of waiting on the curb to cross and a cop stopped to let me cross. So at least some cops think you should stop if the pedestrian is not actually in the street.
what you experienced is called courtesy, not legal compliance
the closest I have come as a pedestrian in NZ was when I had my 4 mth old son in a stroller. 3 cars stopped, started to step out and then a, shall we say, sports cyclist went right up the inside of the parked cars at 20 odd mph and missed the stroller by inches. I’m a cyclist and damn I was angry!
I always do a shoulder check before stopping at either a ped crossing or a yellow light- I haven’t had a bad scare at a pedXing, but I was almost hit by someone gunning to make a yellow light- They swerved around me (missing me by inches) and blew through the red light at probably 30MPH.
Another fear is that one car will stop and another will try to swerve around it, hitting me, and/or the pedestrian.
I’m pretty anal about stopping for peds, because I am one when I’m not on my bike, but there are the infrequent occasions where I just can’t stop safely, and I always try to say “sorry” as I pass.
If we ticketed drivers for this offense, we could pave the city in gold. I counted violations of this one day during a run (most of which took place on the esplanade) and counted 117 violations in 55 minutes.
93 comments and nobody’s pointed out that you’ve got the wrong crosswalk shown in that streetview map? I’m assuming he meant this unsignalized crosswalk: http://goo.gl/maps/iJFdd
Stopping for a green light would definitely be a recipe for being rear-ended.
It’s my understanding that you are not required to stop if the pedestrians are at a controlled crosswalk such as Naito and Market. Am I mistaken?
I’ve been in the same situation at Barbur and Naito a few times as there are frequently pedestrians there. If you’re in the right lane it’s pretty easy to get back into the bike lane and stop before the cross walk. I used to shift over one more lane to the center when traffic allows but don’t anymore for this reason.
This problem is complex.
Pedestrians often wait for a large gap in traffic and will not walk out when they have a small gap which requires traffic to stop. This is true because it’s dangerous for them to do so because the law is either misunderstood or ignored by *some* but not all motorists and cyclists.
There are other cases where bus stops and other possibilities as to where the pedestrian might go. So working out their intent and desire approaches impossible.
And combine this with motorists who, on average, blow through this situation more often than not.
This shouldn’t be complex but it is. Sure you can say, “Just stop” but really? I mean I could go on a bender where I stop every time and some cars stop, some don’t. Maybe my actions will lead them to start walking only to have them hit/killed by the driver in the next lane or the one beyond that.
I don’t want a candlelight vigil for me nor do I want to be the cause of someone else’s hardship. So yeah, right-o, call me a pussy…whatev… but safety trumps law every time.
I’ll donate my hard earned money to support an education campaign because culture change is needed.
All of this said, I do stop when more often than not. But there are times where ambiguity makes rolling the best call.
And we also have the editor of this blog misquoting the law in his opening paragraph. Perhaps Jonathan could fix that?
Whoops. Reply fail.
It is polite and quite legal to stop even BEFORE a pedestrian enters the street especially if it looks like they are waiting to enter. It is just that you aren’t technically violating the law if go through the cross walk before the pedestrian puts his fout out off the curb. It sucks in Portland and Vancouver that very few drivers stop or even slow for someone waiting to cross. Many times every day I have to step out into the street and then stare down drivers to make sure they actually do stop. Quite rarely do I have a driver see me and my kids waiting on the sidewalk and stop to let us cross before I step out.
While I have no numbers, I think the amount of drivers who have stopped to let me cross the road as I’ve approached crosswalks, whether on my bike or on foot, is much higher than the number of drivers who have not. Please don’t feel down, as the people out there are rather diverse.
One reason I enjoy commuting by bike is the connection I feel with my surroundings…the environment, my fellow cyclists, pedestrians, etc. I’m old and slow but I think if you’re traveling too fast to stop for someone…well, you’re traveling too fast.
“but I think if you’re traveling too fast to stop for someone…well, you’re traveling too fast.”
bingo. if you are endangering vulnerable road users because you are going too fast to stop safely…well…there is a simple solution: slow down when nearing crosswalks.
Even roads with crosswalks have speed limits. If a cyclist is adhering to that speed limit, he/she isn’t going “too fast” just because some people prefer to go slower. While the law protects a pedestrian that has stepped into the roadway, the law doesn’t protect a pedestrian that has done so without regard for road users’ speeds and positions relative to the pedestrian (or at least that’s a conclusion I reached from ORS 814.040). Since we have no knowledge of those specifics in the conversation’s instigating cases, nor did anybody specify them in their hypothetical situations, I don’t think we can objectively say anybody is going “too fast” for the situations under scrutiny.
Further, if you meant “too fast” as an ethical commentary, this conversation started not because somebody thought he was going too fast to stop for a person, but because he didn’t trust that the automobile behind him would stop safely behind him. I don’t think anybody is advocating for cyclists to ignore pedestrians and crosswalks or the potential their speed creates for harming pedestrians. Regardless of all the disagreement, it seems to me nobody on this site wants pedestrians to be harmed.
i think there is something about “too fast for conditions” in a statute somewhere. a pedestrian in a cross walk is probably one of those conditions…
That could be. I won’t deny it, because I haven’t learned anything to counter that, but I also won’t assume it’s the case, or that it’s even probable, because I have yet to see anything that states so. Since peter haas didn’t cite any such statute, speed limit was the only relevant acceptable-speed determinant I was aware of, so I’ll continue with my original opinion until any law comes to my attention that contradicts it. If you find the statute or whatever it may be, please share.
here you go:
I don’t know how to find exactly what you were talking about. Can you direct me?
If there is a pedestrian in a crosswalk in front of you, then anything greater than zero is “too fast for conditions”–if that’s the condition. If the condition is “pedestrians are on the sidewalk and may decide to cross at any moment”, then it is incumbent on the pedestrian not to leave a place of safety and put themselves in front of a moving vehicle when the vehicle–motorized or not–is so close as to be an immediate hazard. Now if children are observed playing in the immediate area, it might be advisable to slow down as they are notoriously lacking in judgment.
Other than the above, unless it is icy, or there are slow or stopped vehicles in your path, or visibility is reduced, or the road surface is poor, etc., the only “conditions” are your own conditioning as a cyclist–and the speed limit.
I try to obey the laws as much as possible, ie stopping when indicated, (sign or light), keep the low speed idaho stops to quiet streets with no traffic and often wave cars through when at intersections.
That said, my personal safety will ALWAYS trump other actions. Not to say I’m planning on running crosswalks, but I will if I feel my safety is threatened, I will protect myself. I see no other option.
i have absolutely no problem with trying to avoid injury or death in an *emergency* manoeuvre.
nevertheless, this post is not about an emergency situation. its about feeling entitled to hit (and possibly injure or kill) a pedestrian due to an irrational fear of being hit from behind.
let me remind everyone of the original post:
“I was approaching said crosswalk on my bicycle going…about 20-25mph…and a pedestrian wanted to cross.”
if you find yourself approaching ped-filled crosswalks at 25 mph then the problem is not your fear of being hit from beind, its the way you are cycling.
I’ve felt threatened by the Lance-wanna-be’s even as a cyclist myself. High speed passes, cutting in front of me just inches from my front tire. I’m sure these jerks do hate stopping for peds. They seem to have contempt even for other cyclists.
spare_wheel, I think you have made more presumptions than you can logically make just from what the man wrote about the situation. The quote you posted doesn’t have any indication of its writer “feeling entitled to hit (and possibly injure or kill) a pedestrian due to an irrational fear of being hit from behind”.
In the original post you quoted, his saying that “a pedestrian wanted to cross” tells us nothing of where the pedestrian was standing or how the pedestrian was moving, and thus we have no way of knowing if the writer thought he might hit and possibly injure or kill the pedestrian were he to not stop, so we have no indication that he felt entitled to hit. Further, the writer said he DID brake in that situation to let the pedestrian pass, which appears to disprove his feeling entitled to hit, injure, or kill the pedestrian. He went on to say a car screeched to a halt behind him and came about a foot from him, in which case I’d say fear of being rear-ended would only be “irrational” in the sense that he didn’t get rear ended, so had his brain the ability to project with certainty where the car would end up, it would come to the rational conclusion that he would not get rear-ended, but how many of us want to trust our brain’s conclusions when they involve such close calls, especially when they can’t possibly be aware of what the driver’s feet are doing? Besides, that’s not the case where he feared being rear-ended, anyway, since he braked for the pedestrian.
It’s the second situation in which he didn’t stop. In writing about that situation, he again gave us no indication of where the pedestrian was standing or how she was moving, and thus no indication that the pedestrian was hit, injured, or killed, or that he thought the pedestrian would get hit, injured, or killed, so we have no indication he felt entitled to hit anybody. Further, the writer tells us nothing of the following traffic’s nature other than that it was “immediately” behind him, so we can’t know if his consideration for rear-ending was irrational or not, much like we have no evidence of how irrational or rational any fear held by commentors in this thread are.
Further, the writer goes on to say that he wishes pedestrians would understand why he and possibly other cyclists don’t trust that their lives won’t be harmed if they attempt to stop for them, but nowhere does he indicate intent to neglect any pedestrian’s safety.
Finally, who said anything about a “ped-filled” crosswalk other than yourself, and now me?
If you’re going to get down on people for being “irrational”, please take some time to question your own rationality.
Let me quote jonathan’s quote:
“The woman in the crosswalk yelled at me for not stopping”
A pedestrian in a crosswalk yelled at a cyclist for endangering her!
And yet you are trying make excuses for a cyclist who described the situation in manner that indicates that the vulnerable road user felt at risk. I would love to hear a description of the incident from the pedestrian’s point of view. I am willing to bet we would hear a different story. There is a particular form of irrationality that comes to mind based on your writing, Caleb. Cognitive dissonance.
I think I can, indeed, assume that the crosswalk contained a pedestrian and that said pedestrian felt threatened by the cyclist. Moreover, if the woman in the crosswalk were a child I am willing to bet few would be defending the cyclist. If you are unwilling to brake for vulnerable road users then you simply have no business riding in the lane at 25 mph. Is anyone really arguing that its more dangerous to be in the lane riding at 15 mph than at 25 mph? Really???
The stated RATIONALIZATION for nearly hitting and injuring a pedestrian is the fear of being hit from behind by a motor vehicle. Considering that not one CYCLIST can provide an example of being hit from behind while stopping for a pedestrian, I stand by my description of this fear as irrational (e.g. being of low probability and/or not based on evidence). I have screeched to a halt hundreds of times in traffic and have never been hit from behind. Moreover, when I am in the lane travelling at 25 mph I make every effort to slow down when I approach pedestrian zones.
Once again lets pretend that instead of a woman in the crosswalk, it was a young child. Is it OK to run down a young child at 25 mph because you are afraid of being hit from behind?
And lets remember the options:
1) Slow down to 15 mph when in the vicinity of ped crossing zones.
2) Ride a touch more slowly in traffic at all times. 25 mph is quite fast is it not? If you cannot accept the inherent risks of riding at 25 mph then do not ride 25 mph.
3) Take routes that are separated from traffic (bike lanes, cycle tracks, mups, sidewalks).
4). Walk(!), take a bus, drive a cage.
I want to clarify that when I say I have screeched to halt I am being literal. I have screechy disc brakes on both commuters.
Ah, I apologize for my original misinterpretation of the quote. When I read “The woman in the crosswalk”, I overlooked the word “in”. In my mind, the scenario involved a woman at some undisclosed position in the crosswalk’s vicinity. Maybe now you’ll understand that I had no intention whatsoever to “make excuses” for anybody, and why I think characterizing my efforts as such was inconsiderate on your part. That’s okay, though. Mistakes happen. We learn and move on, I hope.
I don’t agree that the original quote indicates the pedestrian felt at risk, because feeling at risk isn’t a prerequisite for yelling, and the quote didn’t involve her stating she felt at risk. Further, there is a difference between feeling at risk, and being at risk – an idea you seem plenty familiar with. To our knowledge gleaned from this page, she’s still alive and without injury from that incident, so we can acknowledge that if she felt at risk, she might have felt that way due to “irrational” thoughts of her own, much like you state other people have of being rear ended. I would also like to hear the woman’s story of the incident, but until then, I won’t assume she felt at risk or not, or that she was at risk or not, and am unwilling to bet anything about her story.
If the woman in the crosswalk were a child, people might be thinking differently, but I prefer to base my behavior around the well being of everybody, so my thinking would not change at all – I would still be willing to brake for all road users if I think I’m on a path to harming them even if I think they are more responsible for their threat than I am. I imagine many others here also don’t think age is a criteria for whether they allow themselves to harm somebody else.
I don’t remember if people have argued that taking a lane at 15 mph is more dangerous than doing so at 25 mph, but I’m of the opinion that it depends on the current circumstances of the lane one takes and the traffic in it. Regardless, if somebody has no business riding in the lane at 25 mph because they are unwilling to brake for pedestrians, at what speed do they have business to? 15 seems it could be threatening, too, so I don’t at this point understand why you brought up the argument between the two speeds.
“Considering that not one CYCLIST can provide an example of being hit from behind while stopping for a pedestrian, I stand by my description of this fear as irrational (e.g. being of low probability and/or not based on evidence).”
By this segment, I’m led to believe that you base rationality on past events. If this is indeed how you determine what’s probable or not, where you get your evidence, and subsequently how you determine what’s rational or not, I disagree with your definition of “rational”. How many times cyclists have been hit from behind while stopping for a pedestrian is not a determining factor in whether any given cyclist will get hit from behind while stopping for a pedestrian…unless the following driver, based upon his/her knowledge of that number, chooses to hit the cyclist or not. The only determining factors I’m aware we can be aware of are current physical conditions, thus I think basing rationale on anything else is all that we can truly call “irrational”, even though sometimes those “irrational” thoughts ring true. So when you say not one cyclist can provide an example of being hit from behind while stopping for a pedestrian, I say “so what?”
“The stated RATIONALIZATION for nearly hitting and injuring a pedestrian is the fear of being hit from behind by a motor vehicle.”
Fear of being hit from behind by a motor vehicle is the stated rationalization, yes, but you are the one who stated it’s the rationalization “for nearly hitting and injuring a pedestrian”. That you can perceive a possibility of nearly hitting and injuring a pedestrian does not mean anybody who chooses to not stop would choose to nearly hit and injure a pedestrian.
Even if somebody “nearly” hits and injures a pedestrian, they don’t actually hit and injure a pedestrian. If his fear turned out to be representative of what would happen next, and he decided to stop for the pedestrian, the automobile would hit him, and if the pedestrian were actually in his path, the automobile would hit the pedestrian, too. That doesn’t sound as nice as what he actually did, in which case the pedestrian didn’t get in the path of the car and left the scene allegedly unharmed. So, if there is actually a threat from the following motorist, observing the unstopping cyclist could be what prompts the pedestrian to stop and prevent himself/herself from harm.
Or maybe the pedestrian would disregard the cyclist’s lack of stopping, but such behavior wouldn’t be conducive to a pedestrian lasting long, so I imagine that’s why the law doesn’t protect it.
If his fear was representative of something that was not going to happen, and thus there was no actual threat from the following car, then yes, his fear would have been irrational, but I wasn’t there to witness the conditions, and it wasn’t my life and health possibly depending on that “if”, so I don’t personally have any reason to assume his fear was rational or irrational. Judging by the first incident in which he stopped to let the pedestrian pass, I acknowledge the possibility he wishes to preserve the life of pedestrians as much as you do, and thus think you may have misplaced frustration toward him and possibly others.
“Moreover, when I am in the lane travelling at 25 mph I make every effort to slow down when I approach pedestrian zones.”
I think that’s wonderful. Maybe the man in the story slows down when approaching pedestrian zones, too, but something happened in this case that prevented him from doing that, such as forgetting about that particular crosswalk, getting distracted by traffic, etc.
“Once again lets pretend that instead of a woman in the crosswalk, it was a young child. Is it OK to run down a young child at 25 mph because you are afraid of being hit from behind?”
Who said anything about running down anybody? As far as I can tell, nobody in this discussion wants to run down a child, let alone anybody else, and I have no reason to believe anybody in this discussion thinks running down a pedestrian would prevent them from getting rear ended, so I don’t think running down anybody is the scenario others have been discussing.
“2) Ride a touch more slowly in traffic at all times. 25 mph is quite fast is it not? If you cannot accept the inherent risks of riding at 25 mph then do not ride 25 mph.”
Who said they cannot accept the inherent risks of riding at 25 mph?
“There is a particular form of irrationality that comes to mind based on your writing, Caleb. Cognitive dissonance.”
In my youth I thought responsibility required me to consider all perspectives on everything I could, so I’ve contradicted myself many times in the past. However, when I’ve noticed I had conflicting beliefs, a different belief resulted, so I don’t think “cognitive dissonance” is an accurate description of my thinking, but I acknowledge the possibility, so can you provide specific examples that make you think it is?
The first time you come to a poorly designed intersection maybe it sneaks up on you, but if you pass it every day–sit up before the spot and get your hands on the levers. I am not the biggest fan of bike lanes but if you use one it’s a good place to practice civility.
I don’t expect anybody to take a hit from a car for the sake of courtesy. But even a little body language should shut down an aggro biker. No matter how bad you feel about the cycling public, mostly they will try to avoid collision just from self interest. Those who shoot the gap can eat fender, sooner or later.
Situations vary and you have to trust your gut. I’ve stopped for lots of people who had no legal right (to my knowledge) to cross at the place and time, but got out there anyway. The baby stroller at a ‘don’t walk’ signal is always good.
Hand signals are good but don’t bet your life on it. My left turn signal, arm straight out, works about half the time. The other times it apparently signals ‘please pass me at speed in the other lane.’ Gotta love that. If there’s a noisy person behind you hold your line and look for a place to slip out.
The best advice for the safe and courteous cyclist–leave 3 minutes early.
It is usually a safe bet that when you are driving a car and do stop for a ped at a cross walk, that the bike coming up behind you will not stop. It is usually the ped that has to stop for the bike blasting through. I see this all the time next to Lincoln High school in the mornings when there are big groups of kids crossing and the bike has good momentum going downhill and is willing to cut his way through a bunch of people with out even slowing down. He has little chance of being rear ended as he is to the far right. I myself have been rear ended a couple of times stopping at crosswalks in my car, so I understand the concern if you are out in the traffic lane, you might get injured if you do stop. If you do stop I would only suggest that you get to the right as far as you can.
I understand the people on this forum represent the more responsible riders and I don’t want to point fingers at any of you. If you aren’t concerned about safety you wouldn’t be on this forum at all.
Ride safe, I don’t want to hear about you on the 6 o’clock news.
I think the stopping distances for each depend upon way more variables than just contact patches and brakes, especially given the vast differences in weight between the two and subsequently the even greater difference in their momentum. I wouldn’t at first thought be willing to make any assumption about which could stop before the other.
I’ve been in cars with brakes that felt like they could snap your neck. The same braking force on a bike would send one shooting over the handlebars.
Not if you know how to redistribute weight. It doesn’t work so well on an upright city bike with a wide seat (but can still be done and you ride slower on those) but one can use the front break very heavily and get greater braking power out of the rear tire by hanging the butt off the back of the seat. It is very possible to stop from 30mph very quickly and from speeds 20 and below a cyclist can stop very short.
Another aspect of this (not necessarily related to cross walks) is that once speed get down around 10mph a bicyclist can also TURN very sharply – much much more sharply than any car and even any motorcycle. So for cyclist avoiding pedestrians on streets with a few feet of space it isn’t just stopping distance but ability to avoid an obstacle.
Notice I said “braking force” — which would be the equivalent of a stick in the spokes. Weight distribution, body english, bunny hopping, yada yada…that’s basic bmxing.
What do you think “braking force” means exactly?
I was replying to you comment that one would go over the handlebars And that is wrong assuming you distribute weight.
Some cars nowadays have brakes the size of large pizzas and calipers to match with big wide tires that generate high g’s of stopping powers. If a bicycle could reproduce the same braking equivalent(which it can’t unless its tires were widened) the rider would flip over the handlebars unless belted to the bike.
I’ve done some more thinking and estimated calculations. I agree pretty much any modern car with proper maintenance can achieve a higher maximum deceleration than a bicycle (negative Gs). At the SAME speed cars can stop faster than bikes – not considering any difference in reaction times.
The general engineering principle used in DOT calculations is that bikes can decelerate at .5G or .6G or about 16ft/s^2 (4.9m/s^2). This estimate is based on For cars the standard is .85G and certainly even basic sedans with ABS and sport tires can come close to 1G of deceleration. For bicycles the .6G is not limited by tire contact or grip, but the geometry of the physics. The force acting on the tire contact patch creates a virtual lever arm (moment of inertia arm) with the mass of the rider. For cars the limiting factor is the grip of the front tires.
While I have experienced that weight shifting can keep me from going over the handlebars, basic estimates of the moment of inertial and how much it can be changed by weight shift and lowering center of gravity on a standard road bike convince me that it is unlikely a cyclist on a standard road bike can match the deceleration of even an average car. I may try to do better calculations, but I’m guessing a cyclist couldn’t get above 0.75G.
On the other hand, at speeds below 20mph the stopping distance of a cyclist is pretty short anyway. Cars can stop shorter but at 20mph and slower I think reaction times are going to be more critical that relative stopping distances. And bicycles are stir far more able to maneuver and avoid obstacles.
Okay, but that doesn’t seem to tell us whether a bike or car has a shorter stopping distance, since the two at the same speed don’t need the same amount of braking force to have the same stopping distance, am I wrong? Please explain. It’s been a while since I’ve learned about physics. Regardless, how many automobiles on the streets have brakes that feel like they could snap your neck, and thus how relevant is such a comment to the larger discussion?
Using “Gs” is using acceleration – not force. F=ma but by using G we are going straight to “a” and ignoring force. The maximum Force that can applied without flipping the bike is not limited by the grip of the tire or the brakes (in dry conditions with decent brakes). The braking force is applied at the bottom of the front wheel, the tire contact, but the kinetic energy of the rider that the force is absorbing can be described mathematically as a point mass equalling the mass of the rider + bike + load at the center of gravity which is somewhere just above the seat (on a standard road bike without a significant cargo). This creates a moment arm which just means that the force is not acting on the same axis as the center of the object (cyclist and bike in this case). The length of the moment arm for a cyclist is the perpendicular distance from the road to the center of gravity. The applied Force time the length of the moment arm gives Torque. F(d)=Tau. When the torque exceeds the weighting of the rear wheel the bike is going to flip. There is a fair bit of algebra, but in the end you can cancel out the mass, get rid of Force and look at Acceleration (deceleration in this case). Thus engineers have calculated the maximum deceleration of a standard bicycle.
Now, I originally thought that shifting weight would mean we could do much better, and we can improve, but my rough calculations so far indicate otherwise. Scooting the butt back, lowering the head and shoulders and stretching out on the bike can lower the center of gravity (reducing the moment arm) and maybe shift the center of gravity back a bit (lengthening the distance the torque operates over) but it isn’t enough. Lowering the center of gravity from 45 inches (just above the seat) to say 38 inches (just below the seat) will get you from 0.6g to 0.7g max deceleration. That is a 15% improvement, but still nowhere near the .85g for any decent modern sedan. About the only cars that can’t out-brake a bicycle are lifted jeep YJs with high centers of gravity and short wheel bases.
Really you can model a similar problem with a push broom or a shovel. Take a push broom and push against some obstruction on the floor. Push right at the end of the broom and apply the force Parallel to the floor instead of pushing down the handle. How much force can you apply before the broom handle starts to rotate upwards? That is really the same problem we have with bikes just in reverse. You could improve the model a bit by hanging a full gallon milk jug from the end of the broom handle to simulate the mass of the rider and the torque require to lift it.
It might help if I pointed out where the “g” or “G” come from (most scientist and engineers would use “g”). Ultimately we are talking about units of acceleration like feet per second per second or Ft/s^2 which aren’t units most people have an intuitive grasp for. Acceleration due to gravity of 32ft/s^2 or 9.8m/s^2 give the acceleration of a falling body and also the acceleration in the F=ma that is the Force we feel at the bottom of our feet standing on the floor – 1g. But it is an acceleration not a force. A “g force” is the mass times g ( F=mg) which means the actual force in a g force DOES depend on the mass, but the acceleration or deceleration is the same.
Using “g” provides a handy reference for an acceleration unit that people can relate too. Whatever acceleration you have divided by g (a/g) gives the relative acceleration in G’s. From the perspective of a passenger in a car feeling your entire weight hanging from the seat built intuitively relates to a 1g deceleration and feeling the seat back pushing you forward with the same force as lying on your back on the floor is a 1g acceleration. This doesn’t feel as intuitive for a bike rider since we are not passive and it is our force acting on the bicycle. A car ways 20 times more than a passenger, but a rider weighs 10 times as much as a bicycle.
I wouldn’t stand by my assumption; not here to argue Newtonian physics (sure we could all plug in the numbers). I would argue, though, that for the sake of this topic the fact that there’s disagreement among several commenters is a good illustration of the point of the article: in the hypothetical situation where a car is behind you traveling presumably the same speed and a pedestrian is in front of you, the thought of being rear-ending will definitely impact your decision on whether to stop abruptly or just keep going while trying to avoid the pedestrian, crosswalk laws be damned.
what the hypothetical as presented and the disagreement among the commenters illustrates is that there is a widespread misunderstanding of what the crosswalk law requires.
if the pedestrian leaps out in front of you and there is no reasonable opportunity to stop, the law does not require you to stop. if the pedestrian steps into the road and there is reasonable opportunity, you should stop. if you feel threatened by the car behind you, throw a signal and prepare to ditch, but it really should not be necessary.
an emerging social norm, but not yet the law, might suggest that if you see a pedestrian hesitating at the curb and there is a reasonable opportunity, you should stop and offer words of encouragement that s/he be more assertive in future.
Well put are!
An added factor to the widespread misunderstanding is that the laws sometimes change and there’s no systematic guarantee that people are educated on current laws (and that includes people visiting from states with different laws). A few years back Oregon put a law into effect where you must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks until they are safely off of the street. Newspapers carried stories of the ‘new’ laws to educate the public. The next year they modified that law to allow motorists to proceed past crossing pedestrians with a 6′ clearance (maybe that’s the current version?).
There was also that bill introduced some time back requiring pedestrians to wave at motorists before crossing (or something like that)…
“if the pedestrian leaps out in front of you and there is no reasonable opportunity to stop, the law does not require you to stop.”
i think its clear that this post is not about kamikaze pedestrians.
I don’t see in the section of Oregon law cited by Maus that drivers have any obligation to stop for pedestrians waiting to cross. Indeed, a driver stopping for pedestrians whom he thinks are waiting to cross might be guilty of obstructing traffic.
ORS 801.220, making every street corner in the state a legal crosswalk where vehicles must stop for pedestrians.
ORS 811.028, the “stop and stay stopped” rule, requiring drivers to give pedestrians one lane of clearance as they cross the street.
Portland city code 16.70.210, requiring pedestrians to cross the street at crosswalks if one exists within 150 feet.
ORS 814.040, requiring pedestrians to yield to vehicles while crossing the street, and forbidding pedestrians to cross the street if a vehicle cannot stop in time.
According to Oregon law, ORS 811.028, drivers must stop and remain stopped until pedestrians crossing the street clear the driver’s lane plus the lane before and the lane after the driver’s lane. If the driver is at an intersection with a traffic control devise, the driver must stop and remain stopped until pedestrians crossing the street clear the driver’s lane plus 6’ on either side of the driver’s lane. If the person is blind and using a white cane or seeing eye dog, the driver must wait for the pedestrian to cross curb to curb regardless of the length of the crossing.
Could you imagine the outrage from this site if this article was written about how a driver of a car didn’t stop for pedestrians because they were scared that the car behind them was going to hit them?
Sure. But cars and bikes are different — a car weighs at least 10 times more, usually travels faster, sweeps through a wider chunk of the road, and is 15 times more deadly.
In such a situation the cyclist ought to stop; I do, and don’t quite understand why the author cannot figure out how to pull over to the curb and stop there. But I also know that if I did run the crosswalk, I would present far less danger to the pedestrian that was in it.
If you’re going to talk about risk, you’ve got to talk about numbers. Risk is always relative, and nothing is perfectly safe.
Ah, the old “cars weigh more than bikes, so we don’t have to obey laws like they do” argument. Sorry, but that’s a big fat fail. The application of a law doesn’t depend on the weight of the vehicle. Nice try, but you should take a class on logic and arguing.
Ah, the old “I will misread what somewhat wrote, that way I can have something to contradict” argument.
The cyclist ought to stop. I said that. You can read it. It is the law. I never disagreed with that. However, our “respect” (ha) for the law, just because it is the law, is clearly finite; a simply glance at everyone’s behavior will prove that point.
It is also a fact, measured both with physics and mortality statistics, that a cyclist running a crosswalk is a smaller risk for pedestrians than a car running a crosswalk. If you think that is not true, you are a fool, and your opinions on risk are extremely suspect.
being hit by a 200+ lb cyclist traveling at 25 mph will almost certainly cause injury (possibly even serious injury or worse). i really hope you are not a real doctor, dr2chase.
I am a PhD doctor, not a “real” doctor. My remarks about risk are all RELATIVE. I do not doubt that being hit by a cyclist would (very likely) hurt and probably injure. Relative to being hit by a car the risks are far lower. That is all I have ever claimed — that if we are going to have an attack of the vapors at the thought that a cyclist would run a crosswalk, then we should have a fifteen times larger attack of the vapors at the thought (as if it did not happen every day) that a car would run a crosswalk. When I say “I would rather be hit by a bike than a car” I am not saying “I would enjoy being hit by a bike”. I am saying that a bike would hurt me a lot less.
One thing that is very much being missed is that the law is designed for cars; a crosswalk is only installed if the lack is unsafe (that is the rule in Massachusetts, at least). We don’t put crosswalks on residential streets with no through traffic, because the risk is too low to justify it. If the traffic were only bicycles, not cars, many places where crosswalks are located now would not have crosswalks because they would not be dangerous enough to justify it. Because we benefit from the observance and enforcement of traffic laws, it is in our interest to observe them and encourage other people (especially car drivers) to observe them, but the fact that the law applies to us equally does not mean that the risk is also equal.
In addition, here is a thought problem. A lane is 12 feet wide. You are asserting that a bicycle and a pedestrian sharing that space present a mortal danger to the pedestrian. I direct your attention to the Minuteman Trail, a popular multi-use path in the Boston suburbs (Cambridge to Bedford). It is at most 12 feet wide, total, for travel in both directions, by bikes, joggers, pedestrians, rollerbladers, etc. There is a blind woman who walks up the path at night while talking on the cell phone. I’ve drafted rollerbladers (some woman in Arlington is a kickass rollerblader, that’s all I know), roller bladers have drafted me. Kids are out there with training wheels. Typical speeds on the home (downhill) commute are in the 15-20mph range.
If this is so awesomely dangerous, where’s all the dead bodies? How is this possible?
If you’re going to talk intelligently about risk, you’ve got to recognize shades of gray, otherwise everything is black because nothing is absolutely safe. Misreading what other people write and pretending that cars and bikes are equally dangerous is not productive.
“Misreading what other people write and pretending that cars and bikes are equally dangerous is not productive.”
Not once in this thread did I pretend that cars and bikes are equally dangerous. I believe that it is simply unnecessary to put pedestrians at risk by travelling at 25 mph in ped zone. And its interesting how you fixate on reduced risk of injury instead of addressing the complete absence of any evidence for a collision caused by braking for peds.
Even if you didn’t pretend cars and bikes are equally dangerous, you did bring up the fact that a cyclist moving at 25 mph can injure somebody. When you make a statement like that, it’s easy for one to think you believed he didn’t acknowledge that fact when making his comment, so maybe that’s why he considered it a misread on your part.
“I believe that it is simply unnecessary to put pedestrians at risk by travelling at 25 mph in ped zone.”
Automobiles drive 25 mph or more at ped zones, too. They (not at all times, of course) avoid harming anybody by slowing down when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk. Bicyclists can ride at 25 mph and do the same thing.
I don’t think anybody is saying they should never have to slow down or stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, and I think everyone is capable of doing that even at 25 mph if they’re paying attention in an environment that allows sufficient awareness. I think it’s the times they’ve failed in that awareness (whether due to their fault or not), that bring people to question whether cyclists should stop, no matter what speed they’ve been traveling at, IF (extra emphasis here on that if, because it seems to me to be what you’ve been missing in this discussion) they believe following drivers are indeed being negligent or unable in the faculties required to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, and thus pose a risk to the cyclists (and subsequently the pedestrians, whether the cyclists are thinking about the pedestrians or not).
Yeah, I understand what you state here, so I apologize that I meant the question as rhetoric. I appreciate the effort you exert to explain things, though.
Given that energy consumption is as prevalent an issue as it is, and that automobiles starting and stopping require much more energy (and often energy we derived from environmentally and socially destructive practices) than does the same motion on bicycles or feet, I would prefer a system that keeps automobiles smoothly moving in small groups, and thus one where we as pedestrians and cyclists can gladly wait for them to pass, or even more a system that keeps all modes moving smoothly thanks to separated infrastructure. I recognize such an ideal may be lofty and never come to fruition, but more than that one I prefer automobiles just don’t be used, nobody kills each other, nobody uses past statistics to make predictions, nobody insults each other, and everybody treats each other nicely, so I’m used to lofty ideals.
You sir are an n = 1. Do I really need to bring up the incident of the fellow whose LOADED child trailer was “rear-ended” last week? And that was ALREADY stopped at a Light, where the car should know to stop. To say that it is completely irrational that a rear-ending could happen in the open street at a crosswalk, when we all know that not every car stops for pedestrians is ridiculous. It could happen (in the exact same way that this guy’s kid was almost killed).
I fail to see any difference between being rearended stopping at a light and for a pedestrian, other than it is more dangerous to be stopping for a pedestrian, as there is no red traffic light, and your bike doesn’t have brake lights.
It’s easier to see moving bikes, especially when a car has been following said bike. The trailer with the kid was already stopped. Presumably, a driver would be tracking the bike ahead of it whereas the kid’s trailer could have blended in with the colors of the background or a dark and wet road. The first scenario assumes the full attention of the driver while the latter assumes none at all until it’s too late — based on visual cues.
Whether or not moving bikes are easier to see depends on how they are moving in relation to the drivers’ eye and where the drivers attention already is. Visual cues in some cases are not visual cues in others.
Regardless, the woman was cited with careless driving, which as far as I can tell is what people are questioning stops at pedestrian crosswalks for.
Questioning some stops that is…not all.
i wonder if it would be possible to have a discussion on these boards about the question that has been put to us in the blog post, i.e.,
under what circumstances, if any, might it be okay to not stop for a pedestrian who either is or is not exercising good judgment in making her attempt to cross,
without getting into a bunch of name calling
I was going to bite, but it looked like it would end up way too long, and then I would get moderated. Extremely short summary:
It’s not okay because it’s technically against the law and it is also disrespectful and impolite, but if it happens, it is not that big a deal because the risk is relatively low.
Bikes are somewhat less able to stop, but they are much more able to see, so “I didn’t see him” is an even lamer excuse for us.
In all cases, bikes should make a habit of slowing as much as possible even if they cannot stop, because it results in a dramatic reduction of risk, and it is most effective if this is a habit.
I don’t understand why people worried about being rear-ended aren’t pulling over to the side. I wonder if people are being a little too “effective” in their cycling style.
(wordy justifications for all these things, omitted).
I’m now pretty multi-modal. I have a big truck, a motorcycle, and my feet. Swore off bikes, well, primarily because of you people. Ahem. Suffice it to say though that I feel fairly able to speak to issues from that perspective, as well.
The situation described in the letter is one I am in, constantly. That is, feeling compelled to stop for a pedestrian, yet also feeling like it will get me pasted. Doesn’t matter what mode I’m in/on. The problem is the way the law has been changed to inconvenience automobile drivers. Dropping paint everywhere, and calling every intersection a cross-walk, is simply asinine. Roads are for cars, and motorcycles.
To change that will take decades. Baby wants it now, though, and now baby sits around trying to figure out why baby ain’t got no milk.
Answer: Dropping cross-walks everywhere, then empowering ordinary people with the ability to control hundreds of strangers, in one whump, is a capitally bad idea.
Are you saying you decided to abstain from bicycling because you can’t agree with people on Bike Portland? If that’s the case, how do you manage to use any type of transportation?
And driving a car makes one a superior being.
On the flip side of things, when it is safe to do so, I make a big point of stopping for pedestrians – and even a bit of show of how cars disregard this responsibility.
Happened this morning while approaching the Hawthorne bridge, at about SE 8th or so. Pedestrian standing very clearly waiting to cross, I stop on my bike, 100 cars drive by, none considering stopping. I’d love to say this is a rare anecdote, but it is the norm.
Even if it’s not rare, it’s not necessarily universal. Since you’re a human being who can only be in one place at a time, how do you ascertain what’s “the norm”? As I mentioned above, I believe people in Portland have stopped for me at crosswalks more often than they have not. Of course, whether they stopped depended on who was driving and what thoughts were going through their mind at the time, which varied in every instance, so I can’t say that on a city-wide basis drivers stopping happens more often than not, and can’t know what “the norm” is. Generally speaking, I’ve noticed in myself that deciding one way or the other has played a large role in my optimism/pessimism, so that’s why I contest such claims.
Please drop that “necessarily”.