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View from a Williams Avenue resident: “A weary pedestrian”

Posted by on July 22nd, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Bikes on N. Williams Ave-2

(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

From a livable streets perspective, Williams Avenue has a lot of problems. Its outdated bicycle lane is so inadequate that the City of Portland prioritized it for an upgrade a few years ago. That upgrade won’t happen until next year, and thankfully, that’s not the only thing that will be be changed. The North Williams Traffic Operations and Safety Project will also come with many other design changes that should make it nicer to walk and bike on the street.

In the meantime, a longtime BikePortland reader who frequently walks on Williams says the way many people ride on the street has made him a “weary, weary pedestrian.” He wrote us via email to share his perspective and I’ve pasted it below:

I have lived off of Williams (N of Skidmore) for over 10 years and fully embrace anyone riding a bike on Williams or anywhere for that matter. I’m a huge bike fan and love nothing more than admiring a great vintage bike or beautiful lugwork on a frame.

Unfortunately my love of bikes is slowly diminishing due to more than a handful of cyclists who choose to ignore traffic signs and markers. I can be found walking my dog, or by myself, at all hours, and find myself more and more astounded by the behavior of folks who fly through stop signs, lights, around corners and most especially through very visible pedestrian crossing areas all over Williams.

I’d love to acknowledge this is nothing more than the musings of one cranky late 40s guy, but more and more folks in our neighborhood are starting to take notice and wondering how to take action about this reckless behavior. It’s not just 20 somethings riding fixies while wearing headphones who do this – it goes across the spectrum of riders. (Although I will exclude cargo bike people because they tend to be the most aware riders out there.)

Any thoughts, ideas, recommendations about this? I’m tired of cyclists nearly hitting me and or my dog on an all too frequent basis. Not an easy question, I know, and I am not expecting you to be the ambassador for all things bike related in Portland, but any input you have would be greatly appreciated.


I shared with T.B. that the new design changes coming to the street might help a little. When people ride (or drive for that matter) on streets like Williams (with relatively high speeds and lots of other vehicles), they become stressed and anxious. That stress can lead to illegal actions and lack of respect for others. I’d like to think that the design changes arrived at by PBOT and the project stakeholder committee will improve behavior; but I’m not convinced they will.

And of course it’s not all about design. There are larger cultural forces at work here having to do with how people treat each other in public spaces. I’ve noticed that many Americans ride bikes the same way they drive — with speed and selfishness defining the experience.

What do you think? Do you walk on/around Williams much? If you do, do you experience the same thing T.B. does and what (if anything) can be done to make things better?

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

  • David July 22, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Stories like this seem to come out a lot more often in the Spring/Summer. There are a lot more people out riding in general, which makes things a lot more crowded, especially on Williams. Pretty soon, things will calm down a little more and T.B. will likely start to feel safer again…until next Spring.

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  • dan July 22, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Those riders are jerks. Kind of like the people who can’t be bothered to look to the right for pedestrians when rolling into Ladd Circle. They seem to have this attitude of “Look, I’m riding my bike! I’m a special snowflake! I can do anything I want!” Wish they would grow up and realize they’re operating a vehicle.

    Curious — are things better in the winter months when the dilettantes have hung it up?

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    • Sho July 28, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Agreed, also those at 26th/Clinton and 21st/Clinton and well just about all stops signs down Clinton.

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  • Craig Harlow July 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Amusing for me to notice that “wary” and “weary” both work, in consideration of this story :^)

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  • Blake July 22, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Besides the awfulness to bike on Williams generally, I would agree that people just don’t stop for pedestrians and I am sometimes worried that when I do stop, someone with headphones on behind me is not going to see me and ram me over for stopping for a pedestrian.

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    • Psyfalcon July 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      How do headphones keep someone from seeing you?

      I hope no one is using braking sounds to tell when to slow down and stop.

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      • gutterbunnybikes July 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm

        Ride with steel rims on your bike and you’ll always have the break warning sound…

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        • q`Tzal July 22, 2013 at 7:35 pm

          I eventually decided that the near impossible to eliminate disk brake squeal/screech on my bike was a pedestrian warning feature.
          This is useful despite my annoying habit of always stopping when legally required.

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          • Champs July 23, 2013 at 10:16 am

            My discs never squeal. It’s the cantis that howl like a possessed dire wolf.

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            • q`Tzal July 23, 2013 at 9:03 pm

              If I modulate the brake pressure just so the sound takes on a “nails on chalkboard” quality. It really really gets attention fast.

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      • Oliver July 23, 2013 at 9:26 am

        Bohp…Bohp..Bohp..Bohp..Bohp..Bohp.. Uuurcchh! Raaaaaaaa…neeeeeeerr…..

        Are noises I commonly make when cycling.

        I admit I’m one of those nerds that says “Stopping!” if an unexpected hazard pulls out/up short in front of me.

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    • dr2chase July 22, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      On a cargo bike (especially a longtail), you worry less about this :-).

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  • Sigma July 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I asked this the other day but never got an answer: why do some cyclists think it’s ok to blow through stop lights (especially when doing so involves passing other cyclists who are stopped at the light)? I’d really appreciate a window into the mind of someone who does this.

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    • Case July 22, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      Good question. Happens to me every day, at nearly every stop sign I hit to and from work. Passing at quicker than 10mph both on my left and on my right, usually without even saying anything. Cyclist stereotypes are there for a reason, it seems.

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    • Scott July 22, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      You should try it sometime. It’s very liberating. Everyone breaks laws. Only in Portland, people choose to discuss it endlessly.

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      • jeff July 22, 2013 at 4:55 pm

        brilliant logic. everyone does it so I do too!!

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      • gutterbunnybikes July 22, 2013 at 4:55 pm

        Pretty pathetic life you’ve got if you’re idea of excitement is blowing a red light or sign.

        But hey – as long as you’re sticking it to “the man” right?

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        • spare_wheel July 23, 2013 at 2:50 pm

          “Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.”
          D. Bader

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      • Sho July 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm

        Good logic, only in Portland are people retarded enough to believe this is an appropriate reason.

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    • Indy July 22, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      – Because they accept the risk/reward dichotomy.

      – Because they believe those lights are for cars.

      – Because they don’t think they can harm someone by running through a light.

      – Because they don’t care about roads/infrastructure designed for 2000+ lb vehicles.

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    • dr2chase July 22, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      Depends on what you mean by “blow”. 20mph, head down? Or 10mph, looking around and ready to brake? My main worry about cyclists running crosswalks is not that they’ll hit the pedestrians (I manage to not-hit pedestrians in the MUP every time I bike to work, it’s not rocket science), it is that they might draw the attention of drivers (see recent discussion of “target fixation” in a car-bike crash) and lead them, completely unable to dodge the pedestrian, right through the crosswalk at speed. And a good fraction of us are decked out in safety yellow or using daytime running lights, precisely because we want to capture the attention of drivers.

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    • davemess July 23, 2013 at 8:34 am

      I think some people on bikes themselves don’t really think they are real vehicles. They feel they are riding a kid’s toy and that traffic laws don’t apply to them. It’s okay to ride on the wrong side of the street. It’s okay to blow through a stop sign. Ect, ect, ect.

      There are many who bike with a completely different set of rules than they drive. And I while I agree that there are many laws that would ideally be amended for bikes, the truth is that we have the laws we have right now, and you’re required to follow them.

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      • 9watts July 23, 2013 at 8:37 am

        perhaps because biking is so much fun? They expose a playfulness in the rider?

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        • davemess July 24, 2013 at 12:51 pm

          Which is the exact thing that you and others on here are consistently railing against for automobiles. The whole idea of “driving is fun” and “driving makes you happy”. It’s a bit of a double standard to now say that those exact sentiments make it okay for cyclists to break rules.

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          • 9watts July 24, 2013 at 12:59 pm

            an attempt at an explanation, daverness, is not the same thing as saying it is o.k.

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      • Paul in the 'couve July 23, 2013 at 1:37 pm

        I think many people do ride bikes like they are still kids. They rode in the nieghborhood as kids and never followed rule so of the road. Then they start riding around town the same way. Many of these people are young – college to twenties – but many are not. There are many 30 and 40 somethings that have never ridden for transportation and ride like they did when they were 13, the last time they road a bike.

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        • davemess July 24, 2013 at 12:51 pm

          Totally agree Paul!

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  • JL July 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Did you mean to say that people in America tend to ride the way they drive?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 22, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      No I didn’t… But I get your point. I consider residents/citizens of this country “Americans” and that’s who I was writing about. It’s not meant as a description of nationality/ethnicity.

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  • Babygorilla July 22, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    I think part of it is that sometimes there is confusion about whether a pedestrian intends to cross. Now, most people see someone standing at a crosswalk should assume that they want to cross, but unfortunately that legally doesn’t trigger the obligation for the vehicle operator to yield.

    Given the on-street parking in this corridor, its actually safe for a pedestrian to get off the sidewalk and on the street, triggering their signal that they intend to cross and obligating vehicles to yield.

    Of course, that doesn’t solve the problem entirely. I came to a gradual stop complete with hand signal at the crosswalk right before HUB a few weeks ago because a pedestrian was doing just as I explained and beginning to cross. Someone on a bike behind me wasn’t paying attention and rear ended me (second time I’ve been rear ended by someone riding a bike this summer – previous was at a read light on NE Broadway). No damage to me or the bike thankfully and hopefully the person who ran into me and heeds my advice to “pay F-ing attention.”

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    • dan July 22, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      I wonder if the cops would come for a bike on bike rear ending.

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      • Paul Atkinson July 22, 2013 at 5:48 pm

        I was rear-ended this morning at Wheeler and Interstate by another cyclist (who apparently thought the stop sign there was optional). No damage, as he barely bumped me and immediately apologized, so…no, not in this case.

        It’s pretty bad this time of year and I do think we see better behavior in the winter.

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      • Spiffy July 22, 2013 at 10:38 pm

        only if there’s over $1500 in damage or somebody needs medical care…

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      • Brian July 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm

        I got hit by a car and couldn’t get the police to come, but neither bike nor I was broken, so I let it go.

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  • Dan July 22, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I’d like to complain about all of the pedestrians who step in front of me without looking, or see me coming and step in front of me anyway (and I don’t mean at a corner, I mean just ANYWHERE, just seeing me riding along and walk right out in front of me as if I’m not there). Pretty sure you wouldn’t mindlessly stroll out in front of a car like that. Who do I send this complaint to?

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    • CaptainKarma July 22, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      actually some do step right out in front of me w/o looking, trusting me to be able stop, if I happen to be looking and not texting (I don’t!).

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      • jim July 23, 2013 at 1:54 am

        Reminds me of bikes that swerve into the traffic lane without even looking let alone signaling their intent. The driver is supposed to adjust for the bike that just appeared in his lane

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    • Spiffy July 22, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      they seem to think that walking towards the street establishes their right of way before they get there and thus you should already have been stopping for them by the time they get to the actual street…

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      • BIKELEPTIC July 23, 2013 at 1:14 am

        I ‘really appreciate’ it when people cut out from in between two parked cars into the middle of the street (since we seem to be airing grievances now) – woah! Where did they come from?! No way for me to see them, there’s a corner for a reason. Also those that decide that to cross 50′ from the corner or designated crosswalk (if it’s a mid-street crosswalk) so it’s like in the middle of nowhere. Thanks for predictability, people. It’s a (pun intended) “two-way street” people!

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      • jim July 23, 2013 at 1:56 am

        When their foot comes off the curb it is a signal that they intend to cross

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    • Dave Thomson July 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      You sound just like a motorist complaining about cyclists.

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  • Dan July 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    BTW, I am more than happy to stop and wait for you and at the numerous crosswalks on my commute. Really, I don’t mind in the least. Just please watch where you’re going.

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  • Carlos July 22, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I’m a weary cyclist when using Williams. There’s just too much bike, car and pedestrian traffic between Russell and Skidmore. Those upgrades can not come soon enough.

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    • JV July 25, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      You know there is a very simple solution to this, right? Just use NE Rodney to the east. It is a much more pleasant ride, has fewer stoplights, and is effectively the same route. Other than the jog over on Fremont, it is a straight shot. Be part of the solution…get off Williams.

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  • Esther July 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Not long ago PBOT did a traffic safety enforcement action with a PBOT employee/decoy crossing the street, and they ticketed drivers AND bikers who didn’t stop for her. “T.B.” and hir neighbors and concerned community members should call 823-SAFE and request another safety action. Pedestrians have the right of way!

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  • Indy July 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    “they become stressed and anxious. That stress can lead to illegal actions and lack of respect for others.”

    So like car drivers. Are you excusing bikers but not the same people you rant about regularly? tsk tsk…

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    • Kristen July 22, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      I don’t think that was the intent. I read it as, we people on bikes (at least, this person on a bike) sometimes make not-so-smart decisions when we’re in a chaotic road environment. We might make sudden maneuvers when there’s a motorist headed our way, or when we see a car door start to crack open in our path, due to a survival instinct. I’m not arguing that this it’s all copacetic, but we’re continually operating in an environment that’s not really built for us and that can be difficult to negotiate.

      Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking as I have caught myself doing slightly boneheaded things that I silently berate other cyclists for. I’m a bit off-topic though, being definitely not OK with cyclists who blatantly don’t stop for peds.

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      • jeff July 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm

        You make it more chaotic by making “not-so-smart” decisions. do you actually realize this? all of the sudden, everyone using the road, by it’s designed intentions, has to watch out for your “not-so-smart” decisions. It impacts others, regularly.

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        • Caleb July 22, 2013 at 11:12 pm

          Given the fact she called those things “boneheaded” to begin with, I assume she understands what you’ve conveyed.

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      • Help July 23, 2013 at 10:58 am

        “but we’re continually operating in an environment that’s not really built for us an that can be difficult to negotiate.”

        It’s ALWAYS an excuse for a cyclist. Can’t we just admit that there are crappy cyclists out there that make situations dangerous for both themselves and others. Is it that hard?

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 23, 2013 at 10:59 am

          Yes we can and we should. There are indeed people riding bikes who are simply not good at it. I’d say the same thing for driving — except that it’s worse for bicycling because our culture does not value and respect bicycle education/training like it does driving.

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        • Kristen July 23, 2013 at 3:29 pm

          Absolutely! I can’t tolerate comments that constantly absolve cyclists of responsibility.

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        • Caleb July 23, 2013 at 8:01 pm

          Help, where did she say she was excusing anybody?

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        • Bill Walters July 24, 2013 at 11:15 am

          Here’s what I’m willing to agree upon with you, Help: There are a whole lot of crappy, ignorant *road users* out there. Their road-use tendencies *remain* crappy and ignorant when they drive, when they ride and when they cross on foot.

          What changes, radically, is the amount of destructive force — the potential to maim and kill your loved ones and mine — they irresponsibly wield in each mode. Set priorities accordingly.

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    • Spiffy July 22, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      So like car drivers. Are you excusing bikers but not the same people you rant about regularly? tsk tsk…

      When people ride (or drive for that matter)

      he wasn’t excusing anybody…

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      • Caleb July 22, 2013 at 11:13 pm

        Thank you.

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      • Help July 23, 2013 at 11:02 am

        The poster certainly is. He blames the situation on Williams Street for why cyclists break the law.

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        • Caleb July 23, 2013 at 8:12 pm

          Who is “the poster” you refer to?

          And who blames the situation on Williams Street for why cyclists break the law? As far as I’ve been able to tell, people have only been citing the situation on Williams Street as a contributing factor.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 23, 2013 at 11:00 am

      So like car drivers. Are you excusing bikers but not the same people you rant about regularly? tsk tsk…

      Nope. I’m not excusing anyone. I’m merely pointing out a behavior. And that behavior is worse with people on bikes because the stress and anxiety is much greater than when we drive due to the lower quality facilities faced when bicycling.

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      • Aaronf July 23, 2013 at 1:42 pm

        Any consensus on this? I thought those cagers were supposed to be more stressed, because of the cages… I think both can be stressful if you don’t know your route, for all sorts of reasons.

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  • Todd Hudson July 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    This article highlights the very real problem with small-ish subgroup of cyclists that break every rule of the road with indifference. They exist and they hurt the image of those of us who work hard to follow the rules.

    Since I’ve moved to Portland, I’ve had two close calls with motorists. I have one or two close calls *a month* with other cyclists.

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    • Caleb July 22, 2013 at 11:22 pm

      The cyclists who break all the rules with indifference do not hurt the image of any other cyclist, because each cyclists’ image is independent of every other cyclist’s image. What hurts the image of the cyclists who work hard to follow the rules is ignorance in the mind of each individual who conflates the various cyclists’ images he/she/it perceives.

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  • Anne Hawley July 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I’m about a 75 percenter: I stop for all red lights and slow way down for all stop signs so I can make a complete stop at need. Cyclists blow past me at red lights routinely–sometimes one on each side. Clowns to the left of me, clowns to the right… It looks bad for all cyclists, not to mention the safety issues.

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    • Todd Hudson July 22, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      I once came to a stop at the stop sign at N Williams and Jessup. The cyclist behind me nearly smashed into the back of my bike because he apparently he didn’t expect me to stop at the stop sign.

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      • pdxpaul July 24, 2013 at 11:56 am

        Did you signal a stop? Culture is contextual. Everyone knows that corner is protected and It is easy to see the infrequent vehicle approaching. It is also a very important bottleneck in a cat6 sprint off the line at K. If you’re ahead there, you have the advantage at Ainsworth.

        So, please signal a stop, if you’re stopping there.

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        • davemess July 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm

          A stop sign is a stop sign, signaling for one is ridiculous.

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    • Indy July 23, 2013 at 11:37 am

      Again, if people are intelligent enough, they do not blame an entire group of an activity for the action of one. I certainly don’t blame every driver when one cuts me off.

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      • El Biciclero July 23, 2013 at 2:07 pm

        You are perhaps assuming an inflated level of intelligence on the part of the average road user…

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      • Caleb July 23, 2013 at 8:21 pm

        I think the bar for “intelligent enough” is actually quite low – people just have to recognize their illogical conclusions. Judging by the “thumbs up” counts, though, I wonder that many have yet to do so.

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  • spare_wheel July 22, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    “with speed and selfishness defining the experience.”

    I’m fairly certain that its possible to cycle at high speeds and still be generous to your fellow vulnerable road users.

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    • Chelsea July 22, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      I think he means people that are in a hurry to the extent that they are being jerks. Instead of enjoying the ride, they are antsy and impatient. But yeah, totally possible to ride fast and still be considerate.

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  • Chris I July 22, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Carry a big walking stick. Don’t be afraid to walk into a crosswalk. You have the right of way.

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  • o/o July 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    whenever I walk I watch out for cars and bikes, whenever I pedal, I watch out for cars, cycles, bikes and peeps, whenever I drive, I watch out for cars, cycles, bikes, peeps and critters. Weary, weary and weary.

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  • daisy July 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I live just off of N. Williams and have a few theories: first, it can be quite difficult to see pedestrians on that corridor, especially if they are coming from the right and cars are parked close to the corner. So sometimes it’s poor design.

    Next, I think cars and cyclists in Portland often don’t stop if they think they can get away with it, like on higher speed corridors like N. Williams. Once, riding up N. Williams, I stopped for a pedestrian who was waiting to cross near Metropolis Cycles, not at the cross walk but at the other corner. I stopped and a bike or two stopped behind me. The cars didn’t stop. Then, when the cars didn’t stop, the bikes started going. I even tried scolding people (that didn’t go over that well, heh).

    I think the more bikes and cars are assholes, the more everyone acts that way.

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    • ED July 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      I’m not sure the only conclusion here is that assholishness is contagious. I also think that it’s harder for one person on a bike to shame the other road users, bikes and cars, into stopping for a pedestrian. If there are two lanes of (car) traffic and one bike lane, I’m not sure how many drivers would see a bike stopped in the bike lane and think, “whoa, pedestrian crossing, I better stop too,” as opposed to when they see a car stopped in the lane next to them. Of course, they should be scanning the crosswalk and looking for the pedestrians as a cue to stop, but stopped (motor) vehicles can often be a stronger visual cue to stop and I just don’t think bikes are as good of a visual cue.

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      • Robert Burchett July 22, 2013 at 9:39 pm

        and further on:

        . . .stopped (motor) vehicles can often be a stronger visual cue to stop and I just don’t think bikes are as good of a visual cue.

        Stopping in the bike lane often _does_ result in stopping all the lanes. In this case other bikers are just as likely (more likely?) to pass, as car drivers. Stopping is a conspicuous behavior and people will conform to it. If I feel like I have a person’s attention in the car behind me I stop on a non-arterial street.

        In the absence of other traffic it sometimes turns into a politeness battle so whether to stop or not is a question of context and body language. I often see people training their dogs. These people do not _want_ you to stop, they want you to clear the intersection so they can teach the dog when to cross. The social contract is not a single if-then statement.

        I would say that car drivers are more likely to conform to a bike-lane-stop-for-pedestrian than they are to respect a clear left-hand-turn signal from a cyclist.

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    • Paikikala July 23, 2013 at 8:21 am

      Every corner has a crosswalk. A crosswalk is a legally defined entity, not the markings on the roadway.

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    • El Biciclero July 23, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      Critical mASS.

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  • Reza July 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    I stop at every stop light.
    I slow down to <5 mph at every stop sign.
    I almost always yield right of way to pedestrians waiting to cross, if it's safe to do so.
    I wear headphones when I ride.

    Is your mind completely blown?!

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    • spare_wheel July 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      One of the many reasons I almost always take the full lane is that I enjoy forcing motorists to stop for peds. Call me a jerk, but at least I am a consistent jerk:

      Peds >> Cyclists > Public Transport > Freight >> Private motor-vehicles

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      • Paul in the 'couve July 22, 2013 at 9:04 pm

        I can be particularly conscientious at times about making a COMPLETE foot down STOP even when there is not traffic at the intersection.

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        • Bill Walters July 23, 2013 at 9:46 am

          It’s quite possible to make a complete (and lengthy!) legal stop in Oregon without putting a foot down; it just takes practice. There is no legal requirement to put a foot down in order to define a complete stop; see — especially (9), which applies specifically to people on bikes.

          Let’s not give certain officers of the law any further license to misinterpret it.

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          • Paul in the 'couve July 23, 2013 at 11:25 am

            Bill, I often stop fully without putting a foot down. I have also been yelled at after crossing the busy 4 way stop near my home for “not stopping” when I did. At the same intersection I nearly always take the lane at least a block before the intersection because it is very common for cars exceeding the speed limit (25 mph) to race past me and pass unsafely partly because it is very likely that a car will turn into the oncoming lane any second.

            I frequently get passed unsafely, get tail gated, agressive engine reving etc. approaching this intersection. Then I occasionally get yelled at for not stopping even though I did stop. Further, watching cars here, even at busy times about 1/2 don’t fully stop. And my kids occasionally need to cross at this intersection. And I see pedestrians get buzzed regularly here.

            So at this 4 way stop in particular and occasionally somewhere else I will sometimes make a very careful and obviously fully legal stop putting my foot down for a solid second to demonstrate absolutely that I did indeed stop. Ans sometimes I do this when the only car at the intersection is the one that caught up to me 1/2 block from the intersection while I was riding 25 mph and then made a point of coming up 4 feet from my back wheel.

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        • Help July 23, 2013 at 11:06 am

          Wow . . good to know it’s about sticking it to motorists.

          Just as I’ve always suspected–It’s all about the bike. The hypocrisy is just mind-numbing.

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          • Paul in the 'couve July 23, 2013 at 11:30 am

            BTW when driving I very conscientiously come to a complete stop before the line and look carefully. That is exactly how EVERY car (and bicycle) is supposed to stop at every stop sign.

            Every statement you have made on this site is hypocrisy if you don’t drive that carefully and follow the law to the letter.

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          • Bill Walters July 23, 2013 at 11:31 am

            Read more closely and you’ll see it’s more about doing a little bit to look out for the well-being of *people*, car-driving and otherwise, while they’re outside their cars. But you’ve managed to shed some light on your own priorities, Help, and it’s instructive.

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        • Paul in the 'couve July 23, 2013 at 11:17 am

          So Help, you hate us when we break the law (whether anyone is there or not) and you hate us when we carefully follow the letter of the law diligently. Sounds like hypocrisy to me.

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  • Paul July 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Look, I agree that pedestrians have the right-of-way and I obey that rule, usually, but I have to vent toward the peds that wait on a street corner a block away while I’m pedaling my 45 lb bike UPHILL at almost zero velocity, and the person just stares at me for literally years upon my approach waiting for me to stop. Then, as I finally approach wondering if they’re ever going to cross, I’m waving them to cross, with perhaps a “go ahead” verbal (I’m still at least a full intersection away at this point), and they’re still standing there looking like they just got whacked in the head with a 2×4 waiting for me to come to a complete stop. Finally, 30 seconds later they begin their journey across Clinton.

    This probably doesn’t relate to T.B.’s situation, but still. People have weird space issues. Just cross the street! You’re 24 inches wide. A bike is a fraction of the width of a car and can go around your measly girth provided you’re not stepping directly in front of them and the bike is moving at a reasonably slow speed.

    Now that my rant is over, people on bikes: show some respect and let the people cross 🙂

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    • BIKELEPTIC July 23, 2013 at 1:22 am

      I get this with drivers as well as pedestrians. Especially when I have the stop sign and the driver has the right of way. All of a sudden the driver will stop and start waving me through. And I’ll be like, “No.” In the time it took you to stop, you could have been gone already, but now I have to safety check for oncoming traffic so *I* don’t get hit by your ‘being nice’ then I have to start getting up my momentum to get across the road – the whole process probably takes almost 2 minutes. I would rather drivers (cyclists and peds) just follow the rules of the road instead of being nice. I’d rather be safe and predictable than nice.

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  • Chris Sanderson July 22, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Likewise, I am weary from all the loud, glass-packed mufflers that rumble down SE Cesar Chavez and Belmont. Sometimes I am awakened at 1:30 am by “conscientious” drivers, who feel a need to burn rubber when the light turns green. Ah! Cheerful noise that REM sleep enjoys!

    I am weary of all the drivers who roll through this same intersection peering down at their cell phone in their laps. Occasionally, I ride by (and over) debris from a collision at this busy intersection… I hope the drivers were okay. Moreover, I hope someone didn’t miss that important text message.

    I am weary of garbage discarded from cars passing by. Cigarette butts are such a lovely decor in the gutter.

    I am weary of the pollution that I breathe in everyday. I am weary of the brake dust particulates that fan out from the wheels and into the beds of plants that I have in the front yard. I am weary of the rainbow-streaked colored water that flows into the drains, and eventually into our rivers. I’d imagine that those scintillating swirls stem from leaky brake and power steering lines, damaged coolant hoses, and a blown motor seals.

    To this date, I have yet to grow weary from one single bicyclist at this intersection. Maybe T.B. would like to switch places for a month.

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    • 9watts July 22, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      Nice comment, Chris.

      I think that clear communication of intent on the part of the pedestrian is sometimes lacking. As a pedestrian I routinely astonish those I’m walking with by boldly stepping into the street with cars speeding toward us a block away. As a cyclist I find myself often unsure about the potential-pedestrian on the corner who may or may not be about to cross. I have too often slowed down, only to be waved at to keep going by said potential pedestrian. If this deferential dance is going to work, we all have to be able to read each others’ cues, and act in ways that communicate our intentions clearly.

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      • Chris Sanderson July 22, 2013 at 11:23 pm

        I have always learned that pedestrians are priority #1 on the streets. I stop at crossings when they are crossing. I usually stop well before stop lights so that their pathway is clear for crossing. I often wave them through, sometimes insisting that they cross in front of me. Likewise, when I am a pedestrian, I exercise my role as the priority #1, and I will make bold moves at the crosswalks, instead of sheepishly crossing. I will not stand down to cyclist riding the sidewalks. That is the rubric I have learned.

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      • Help July 23, 2013 at 11:08 am

        And yet we expect drivers to have that ability to read intent perfectly on the part of other road users.

        Listen to yourselves. These are the same issues drivers have towards cyclists.

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        • Bill Walters July 23, 2013 at 12:33 pm

          Yep, Help: “All” means all. Please read more objectively/less selectively.

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        • Caleb July 23, 2013 at 8:29 pm

          Help, how about you st

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          • Caleb July 23, 2013 at 8:33 pm

            Faulty laptop keyboard…

            Anyway, I was trying to suggest you “listen” to those you address, because it seems to me you persistently misinterpret their writings.

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  • Skid July 22, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Clear intersection = safe to go IMO. I don’t want to hit pedestrians so I look for them, I even assume they are going to step off the curb without even looking.

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    • Paikikala July 23, 2013 at 8:22 am

      Safe does not equal Legal.

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      • SilkySlim July 23, 2013 at 8:44 am

        You’re right: Safe > Legal.

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  • Robert Burchett July 22, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    As an occasional cargo bike rider, thanks, I guess. I also find Williams tiresome to the extent that I take it 20% if the time, maybe less.

    I have noticed that the light timing on that street rewards brisk riding. Not a racing pace, but steady pressure. People know this. They also know that if they stop for a pedestrian it’s all up, they’ll hit a red.

    There are many perverse incentives involved with traffic signals. Wait times at controlled pedestrian crossings are often quite long. Often people push the button, wait a while, the traffic clears, they jaywalk, the light changes, cars stop while nobody crosses the street.

    Neither of these observations is meant to justify rude or dangerous behavior.

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  • y8 July 22, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Did you mean to say that people in America tend to ride the way they drive?

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  • Anna July 22, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    I have noticed this lately too in my part of town. It’s becoming so common to have a bike whip past me when I’m in a crosswalk. (Of course, there are tons of bikers who do follow traffic rules – thank you so much.) Part of it is that there are so many bikes overall, there are now more of these rogue bikers too. I don’t think they even notice – it makes me want to yell at them just to get their attention.

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  • esther c July 22, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Occasionally when I ride I blow past people at crosswalks waiting to cross and am then embarrassed by my mistake. I think what it is I’m so keyed in to looking for drivers that are trying to kill me I forget to look out for the people I might maim.

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    • davemess July 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      You can do both. And if you can’t do both, riding might not be a great option for you.

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  • confident but concerned July 22, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    I’ve noticed that on both Williams and Vancouver it takes an extra mental calculation to determine if people intend to cross the street or are just waiting for the bus. On Vancouver it’s no big deal because there’s more room to maneuver and less going on overall. But on Williams it’s just one more factor adding to the general mayhem.

    I’m normally conscientious about stopping for pedestrians. But on Williams, — especially along the restaurant/condo row — I’m so focused on not getting doored and not bumping into other bikes that I sometimes fail to notice pedestrians at crosswalks until it’s a beat too late to stop.

    Hopefully the redesign will reduce some of the cognitive overload and (at the very least) give us more room to react.

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    • jim July 23, 2013 at 2:06 am

      I was driving on williams just today and stopped for a guy walking half way out in the street. He turned and walked back up to the bus stop. The bus isn’t coming any faster if you are staring it down. I wish I had a dollar for every time I stopped or slowed for one of them.

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    • Velokitten July 23, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      It would be great if it was feasable to have flashing lights at the striped crosswalks. It is so much easier to see those on your approach than a ped. behind a parked car, or wonder if they are waiting for the bus.

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  • jim July 23, 2013 at 2:02 am

    Waiting at my daughters school I often see cyclists finding the open hole when the crosswalk is full of kids crossing, they stop when they see a bike coming at them. It isn’t right though that they have to stop in the middle of the street for a Lance wanna be that has a $2,000 bike and racing graphics on his clothes. If you confront them about it they tell you to f” off.

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    • davemess July 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      It’s 2013, can we give the whole “Lance wannabe” thing a rest?

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      • jim July 24, 2013 at 10:50 pm

        I will, if they will

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        • davemess July 25, 2013 at 12:21 pm

          Who is they? People who like to ride a bike for exercise? People who like to competitively race bikes? People who just don’t look like you do on a bike? There are plenty of jerks on bike with all kinds of clothing and gear.

          Seriously, I would expect that kind of commentary from an Olive story, but not on a bike-oriented site.

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  • jim July 23, 2013 at 2:03 am

    That was my rant.
    This is a question.
    If you have to stop fast and use both brakes/ hands, how are you going to signal so you don’t create a pile up?

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    • 9watts July 23, 2013 at 8:14 am

      Perhaps the above scenario suggests you are going ‘too fast for conditions’?

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    • jim July 23, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      Not if someone steps out in front of you unexpectedly.

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  • kittens July 23, 2013 at 4:24 am

    I guess i dont see what the big deal is. Williams/Vancouver are the best North/South in the city, they are fast and they are smooth. They have timed lights. They have a ton of bike traffic which makes people in cars notice and anticipate. Some pedestrians are so timid they will not cross unless the whole world comes to a stop before them. Cross the street! It is not that difficult people.

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    • maxadders July 23, 2013 at 9:46 am

      Nailed it. Of all the messed up, dangerous streets to cross in this town, people complain about a relatively benign one like Williams. Yeah, I have my own gripes about commuting by bike on Williams, but for crying out loud there’s plenty of good places for peds to cross. The only time I’ve seen it get dicey is when people park across the street from their destination– usually HUB, 5th Quadrant or the newly developed block just south– and dart through mid-block rather than using one of several crosswalks. Would these folks be so bold downtown? I doubt it; they’d probably cross at the corner.

      As I see it, these complaints are just growing pains. The neighborhood’s not a bulldozed wasteland like it was 10 years ago when the dude moved in.

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      • davemess July 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm

        I have this feeling every time a Williams story pops up on here. Come on down to Foster, come on over to 82nd, come check out 39th. Williams is eons above all three of these in pedestrian and bike facilities. I’m not saying Williams can’t be better. But a little perspective would be nice.

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    • Indy July 23, 2013 at 11:44 am

      Springwater next to Willamette is the best North/South in the City.

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      • El Biciclero July 24, 2013 at 3:12 pm

        I-5 is the best N-S in the city, but bikes aren’t allowed there…

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        • Paul in the 'couve July 24, 2013 at 3:54 pm

          I Thumbed up for whit with some truth but actually I disagree. I’ve been thinking about this since a comment I made to Help about why driving sucks – too many cars being driven. I think it goes further than that though. I think I-5 SUCKS as a place. I don’t like driving on I-5 much even when there isn’t traffic. Yes, it gets me there fast and it isn’t aggravating, but there isn’t anything enjoyable or pleasant about BEING on I-5. Further most high auto traffic roads just suck in general. McLoughlin Blvd sucks. 82nd street sucks. Mill Plain east of 97th street sucks. The T-V highway sucks. I wouln’t find those places enjoyable or pleasant places to to even if car traffic was temporarily diverted and I could ride there safely. They are useful transportation corridors but they still suck.

          The best north south in Portland by that measure is 47th. IMO>

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  • maxadders July 23, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Can I get some cheese with that whine?

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  • Dan July 23, 2013 at 10:35 am

    First, I completely agree that cyclists need to do a better job of watching out for pedestrians, stopping at crosswalks, and generally stopping for lights/stop signs. It is unnerving to be ‘nearly hit’ by another moving vehicle, whether it’s a semi truck or a skateboard.

    However, I think we need to remember to keep those incidents in the proper PERSPECTIVE.

    1) Just because you feel you were nearly hit doesn’t mean that you were nearly hit. In a city with lots of different types of traffic going all over the place I’m sure we all get this sensation frequently. And the number of ACTUAL hits compared to the feeling of being nearly hit is very low, which means you probably weren’t that close to being hit in the first place. Yes, it’s an uncomfortable feeling, but it’s not as dangerous as you think it is.

    2) I use a crosswalk on Multnomah in the Lloyd district all the time. The number of times I’ve felt in danger of being hit by a bike is WAY less than the times I’ve felt in danger of being hit by a car. And in that corridor, even in a close call a bike can avoid you more easily.

    3) The consequences of being hit by a car are WAY worse than the those of being hit by a bike, and I believe the likelihood is higher too. As a cyclist, I face dangerous scenarios multiple times on every commute. I’ve rerouted my commute a number of times to limit the bad areas, but there are sections where I EXPECT drivers to roll through the stop signs on the side streets, because it happens all the time, and it’s only with lots of practice that I’ve learned where those places are. Yesterday I was the first to a 4-way stop in the Pearl and a police car rolled through the stop sign on my left and right in front of me. Nice.

    4) When was the last time there was a hit-and-run by bike in Portland? Out of control cyclist careens off the road onto the sidewalk and maims somebody, then rides away? Tell me you’re worried about that happening to you.

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    • Aaronf July 23, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      My wife was hit by a cyclist near PSU, on the sidewalk, still has a scar on her shoulder. He yelled at her and rode off.

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      • Chris I July 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm

        These collisions are definitely under-reported, but that is due to the lack of severity of the injuries. When I car nails a pedestrian, it usually involves a trip to a hospital.

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      • Dan July 23, 2013 at 2:36 pm

        Okay, good, the exception that proves the rule.

        That absolutely sucks, and shouldn’t have happened.

        But how does that compare to a recent hit-and-run reported here, Mike Cooley being run down from behind at 60mph in a 30mph zone by a driver who took off afterwards? This was a 15-year bike commuting veteran who surely knew his way around traffic. Recently came out of his coma, without the use of his legs, and getting out of ICU after 4 1/2 weeks. Police are not actively searching for the driver.

        It’s really not fair to compare the two.

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  • Aaronf July 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I didn’t compare the two. Apparently you are, which I agree is unfair. I tried to help answer your “When was the last time?” question.

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  • BURR July 23, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    This whole thread seems like BikePortland fanning the flames of anti-bike hysteria.

    I thought that was the Oregonian’s and Lars Larsen’s job.


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    • davemess July 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      Well it does have “Williams” in the title!

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  • Dan July 23, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    The email that started it all sets up a comparison between B.T.’s perspective (which is valid) and all of the carnage posts (which are a much more serious problem). It’s like, “hey look, guys, I know people are getting mowed down left and right by cars and little is being done about it, but could you please watch where you pilot your bikes because it makes me uncomfortable”.

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  • pdxpaul July 24, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    I run to work up and down that corridor and have more run ins with bikes than cars. Yes, if I assert my right of way, I expect you to stop.

    When I ride, I expect the same and follow the rules, for the most part.

    In general, Williams is a fustercluck.

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  • El Biciclero July 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    “Waiting at my daughters school I often see cyclists finding the open hole when the crosswalk is full of kids crossing, they stop when they see a bike coming at them. It isn’t right though that they have to stop in the middle of the street for a Lance wanna be that has a $2,000 bike and racing graphics on his clothes. If you confront them about it they tell you to f” off.”

    At one of the crossings I have to make on my way home from work, I often see drivers cruising right across the crosswalk on a red light, looking for the open hole in side traffic to make a right on red. I dodge out of the way when I see them coming at me. It isn’t right though that I have to nearly run into a lamp post because of some Jeff Gordon wanna be that has a $60,000 car and I-don’t-know-what on their clothes because their windows are tinted black. If I confront them about it, they rev their engines at me.

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  • Ted Buehler July 25, 2013 at 1:00 am

    “and most especially through very visible pedestrian crossing areas all over Williams.”

    Getting bikes to stop for peds is a city-wide issue.

    Its most pronounced on routes like N Williams, which have high volumes of bikes, cars, and crossing pedestrians.

    To get this problem solved, we need to solve it on a city-wide level, but it can also be done by solving it in a few prominent locations to get the message through.

    I’d suggest, for the original poster and anyone else,
    * When crossing Williams in front of bikes, yell “Yield to Pedestrians” and wave your arms a bit. I just tried it an hour ago in front of 4 bikes at Williams and Beech. It worked. Not the most dignified, but it’s a start.
    * Call 823-SAFE or email and ask them to do more crosswalk enforcements on Williams.
    * Email or snail mail Commissioner Novick and Director Treat and ask them to deal with the problem. Tell them your personal anecdotes.
    * Show up at the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting and tell them your concerns during Public Comment.
    * Show up at City Council meetings and tell them your concerns during the Public Comment period. Have a specific “ask” you want that is reasonable, feasible, and affordable. Like “hand out fliers to bicyclists explaining the diagrams on pages 13 and 14 of the Oregon Bicyclist Manual
    * Join the BTA, talk to Susan, Gerik and Carl (the advocacy folks) and ask them to work with you on the issue.
    * When you’re riding a bike on Williams and see a pedestrian making the legal and lawful intent to exercise the right of way, hand signal stopping, yell “pedestrian” to the bike behind you, and stop at the white line with your bike sideways to encourage other bikes behind you to also stop.

    Some of these things are boring. Some will make you feel like a fruitcake. Some might make you feel like you’re being a pest. Some will take some work and coordination. But, these sorts of things are what it takes to get something done in civil society in the 2010s. This is a pretty easy problem to fix, all things considered, its just a matter of making folks aware of existing laws and encouraging them to comply with them.

    Its a solvable problem, and an easy one at that.

    But, if nobody takes action, the problem won’t get solved.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Ted Buehler July 25, 2013 at 1:17 am

      I just got this in my email — you can send Hales and Novick a thank you note for doing this. They’re taking the initiative, let them know you appreciate it, and they’ll keep it up.


      Traffic safety mission details

      Why: 23 fatal crashes this year (17 same time last year)
      When: Thursday July 25, 2013. 12:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
      Who: Portland Police Traffic Division, East Precinct and Central Precinct; the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office; and, the Oregon State Police
      What: Mission will focus on all traffic violators, including distracted and speeding drivers, pedestrian violations and unsafe bicycle operation.
      The first phase of the mission, from noon to 3:30 p.m., will focus on SE Division Street, from SE 82nd to 162nd Avenues.
      The second phase of the mission, from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., will be on SW Barbur Boulevard, from SW Hamilton Street to Capitol Highway.

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      • Ted Buehler July 25, 2013 at 12:04 pm

        I remember this event from when you and Lisa first posted it, & I’ve done it on my own a number of times.

        I do a slight variation, where I just cross at every street, without regard for whether I’m impeding a car or not.

        Most recently, I walked Sandy area from 72nd to 82nd, not actually walking Sandy but crossing it at every cross street. I got a few mildly uncooperative drivers, like one that told me “that’s what crosswalks are for” when I was crossing at an unmarked crosswalk.

        I figure its the role of us fit, brave folks to tame the streets for others. As others have done before me and turned inner Portland from a car-centric place to a truly pedestrian friendly place (with a few exceptions).

        Ted Buehler

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