“Travel Oregon is deeply saddened by the recent bicycle tragedies on Oregon roads, and they have served to elevate our attention and concern.”
While Oregon’s highways are under the official jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation, they’ve also become a key asset in our state’s burgeoning bicycle-based tourism economy — and that means the Oregon Tourism Commission/Travel Oregon also has in interest in how they’re managed.
For years now, exploring Oregon’s rural roads by bike has been a cornerstone of Travel Oregon’s marketing strategy. They’ve invested in advertisements, created an online guide to the best routes, and they’ve partnered with the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department to help promote and develop a network of official State Scenic Bikeways program.
So when people starting being hit from behind while bicycling on Oregon highways back in August, it raised eyebrows and concerns among Travel Oregon staff. In the past two months there have been seven high-profile bicycle collisions and four deaths — all of them a result of unsafe driving.
to protect people on bikes?
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland
We’re happy to report that Travel Oregon has not shirked away from this issue. In the past few weeks they’ve addressed it head-on. Last month we heard from Travel Oregon’s Manager of Global Communications Linea Gagliano and she shared this statement:
Travel Oregon is deeply saddened by the recent bicycle tragedies on Oregon roads, and they have served to elevate our attention and concern. While we work to promote responsible bicycle tourism throughout the state, we are acutely aware that there is an element of risk involved whenever someone takes to the road.
To increase bicycle and car safety awareness, Travel Oregon is adding safety tips for each of the bicycle routes on RideOregonRide.com. Additionally, we will increase our work with other state agencies and partners to address the issue of bicycle and automobile safety throughout the state. In the coming weeks, key Travel Oregon staff members will meet with ODOT to discuss its statewide Bicycle & Pedestrian Master plan and long-range policy. On Oct. 31, Travel Oregon will host the Oregon Bicycle Tourism Partnership meeting in Bend, with bicycle and car safety as a prominent item on the agenda. We will use the time to help surface ideas to build a vision/plan that can address bicycle and car safety concerns in the state.
Since that statement was issued late last month, Travel Oregon has made good on their promises. As you might have noticed yesterday while browsing the new gravel riding section on RideOregonRide.com, every ride listed on that site now includes the following message:
In Oregon, a bicycle is legally considered a vehicle, and the same Oregon road laws apply. Please “be seen” and practice safe riding. Vehicle traffic, farm equipment and narrow shoulders exist on many Oregon roads, and you may find that construction projects, traffic or other events may cause road conditions or signage to differ from the map results, ride descriptions and directions. For travel options plus weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941. Routes listed on this website are for informational purposes and intended as a reference guide only.
We also heard from Travel Oregon staff who work directly on bicycle tourism development. With an upcoming meeting of the Oregon Bicycle Tourism Partnership (OBTP), Destination Development Specialist Nastassja Pace reacted to the news of rear-end collisions by shuffling the agenda. On October 31st, when members of the OBTP meet in Bend, there will be a robust discussion of bike safety laws and policies. I’ll be there to share my ideas on rural road advocacy and the potential for legal and/or policy changes at the state level, and lawyer Ray Thomas will share his expertise on existing Oregon traffic laws.
With safety and traffic law policies largely absent from the bicycle tourism discussion, we’re glad to see Travel Oregon face the issues. Stay tuned for more coverage, and if you have specific ideas about how Oregon statutes and ODOT policies could make rural road riding safer and more pleasant, please let us know.
This is all well and good, but what agency is telling drivers of these areas that there will be more bike traffic? Cyclists know how to be safe and visible, it’s drivers that need to learn how to drive safely around us.
And are they working with law enforcement in those areas to understand properly what the laws are around drivers behaving badly around bikers and harassment of bicycle riders? And then enforcing those laws?
Exactly! The dialogue with law enforcement is what’s missing here.
Agreed, Travel Oregon needs to work not only with local businesses in setting up these routes, but with local law enforcement as well.
“What agency is telling drivers of these areas that there will be more bike traffic?”
“And are they working with law enforcement in those areas…”
Shouldn’t these two quotes refer to the same group? Should not OSP be “The Agency” that is telling drivers how to behave on Oregon roads? And if OSP Troopers don’t know the laws they are enforcing, whose responsibility should it be to help them out?
They should most certainly NOT be the same group. This is a problem which should be addressed by 3 groups: OSP, ODOT, and Oregon DMV. (i.e. Enforcement, Engineering, and Education) Failing to involve (or mandate the involvement) of all 3 agencies is a failure to fully address the problem.
Well said. I was specifically referring to the “agency” that should be telling drivers how to behave while driving, but you are absolutely correct that to encourage—nay, require—safe driving will involve multiple agencies with authority (something Travel Oregon does not have) sending drivers a consistent message that safe driving is expected and anyone who cannot drive safely does not qualify for driving privileges.
What are the law enforcement staffing numbers out in ‘those areas’, Oregon’s roads outside of the Metro area, being spoken of?
The police out in rural Oregon and popular routes for riding elsewhere in the state, can be briefed again, with a review of laws pertaining to bad drivers and harassment of people riding. If they haven’t sufficient numbers to be on the road where people biking are, to see and catch the ‘bad drivers’, in the act, it’s not likely the police are going to be able to do much more to have the roads be safer out there, than they are currently.
If the number of people biking outside of the Metro area is increasing, and by news reports and other sources, it seems to be, I doubt this is something that’s gone unnoticed by rural residents that drive. I doubt also that residents that drive out there “…need to learn how to drive safely around us.”, as MR, above, sees the situation with riding conditions amongst motor vehicles.
Even the recent spate of car bike collisions does not mean that rural residents don’t know, and aren’t making efforts to drive carefully amongst people that are riding bikes. To their credit, by far and large, the incidence of collisions has been the exception.
That still leaves the problem of how to effectively counter the very small percentage of the overall number of people driving, that do so, badly.
Why are cycling organizations and touring promoters so chickenshit about profiling motorist behavior in the areas they’re recommending? I would have a whole lot more respect for, say, Adventure Cycling if they’d say things about a region like “Entitled rural drivers in immorally large pickup trucks with no regard for smaller vehicles on the road.”
Fuel the Urban/Rural divide much? It is hardly immoral for a rural Oregonian who may be a rancher or a farmer to own a full size pickup truck. That vehicle is a tool in the practice of their livelihood and they may not be wealthy enough to acquire a prius for trips to the store.
Safe, aware and courteous drivers can drive full size trucks and immorally bad drivers can drive small cars.
Larger vehicles are not only working tools, they are dominance devices. Way too many people use them that me to let the legit users off the hook.
Single speed bicycle riders disobey traffic laws, Buick drivers drive slowly, people in running shoes wear ear buds and don’t pay attention to where they are going, Motorcycle riders are suicidal, …….
This is fun, judging people by the most superficial aspects of their comportment.
I guess we can continue: Old people are haters, Asian people are smart, doctors are golfers, bicyclists are elitist, Women like cats….
I see so much to confirm my stereotypes that rational thought rolls off me like water from a duck.
Wealthy enough to own a Prius? Last time I checked, the sticker for a F250 ranged from $30k to over $60k:
A Prius stickers anywhere from $24k to $30k. These trucks are not cheap, but they are usually used as “business” tax write-off, even for the folks in Estacada that drive them to their office jobs in Portland and then play farmer on the weekends.
I agree with you that these large trucks are necessary for full-time farmers and ranchers, but for most of the people in the Portland Metro area, they are a lifestyle choice.
But we’re not talking about the Portland-Metro area. We’re talking about rural areas, where people aren’t close to Portland.
Maybe some of these folks can’t afford both a work truck and a driving car to go get groceries and what-not. You can’t condemn people for choosing to purchase a vehicle that can serve multiple purposes for them, including working on a farm or ranch as well as going to the store.
Describe the type of person or family whom you consider their possession and use of a pickup, full size or otherwise, to be a lifestyle choice. And the uses they put that type vehicle to. Maybe you’re thinking of some fashion conscious persons that strictly drive a pickup around for image.
Even in the city, there can be a huge range of good reasons for having a big pickup. Hauling, remodeling, moving, to name a few. They drive like cars too. Very comfortable. The relatively lower miles per gallon pickups get compared to compact and hybrid cars, aren’t a big issue for people that don’t put a lot of miles. Bought used, a really nice pickup can be had for a good deal.
I’m glad they’re doing the easy stuff – telling people to do what they can to be safe while riding. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will have a very large impact. What will have a big impact is the hard stuff – changing infrastructure and driving behavior. I’m interested to see if they can move the needle on that hard stuff.
When I read that they were meeting the problem head-on, I anticipated reading about high-level meetings with ODOT and OSP, maybe even the governor or some lawmakers, to discuss lowering speed limits, adding warning signs, increasing patrols, expanding shoulders, expanding driver education, etc. So, while I am happy about the increased warnings and information to cyclists on their website, it seems like a pretty tepid response.
My impression is that we’re just getting started on this. There are meetings happening and there will be more in the future. This is just a start and I think it’s pretty good one from an state agency that is not used to stepping into this type of advocacy role.
Sounds promising, fingers crossed.
Why is everyone using the term “head-on”…as in ” In the past few weeks they’ve addressed it head-on. BP, ” For the topic of road deaths and traffic safety education it seems a poor choice of verbiage.
I never thought about that. Thanks Todd. I’ll keep it mind for the future.
As if written by Monty Python.
And what about a complete network of rural cycle paths throughout the state?
Is anyone working on that?
Seems like blaming the victim to me.
I hear you Cheif, but keep in mind that Travel Oregon’s audience – on a website of bicycle routes — is bicycle riders. Would it make sense for them to target a safety message to drivers on that venue?
To quote the article, ” In the past two months there have been seven high-profile bicycle collisions and four deaths — all of them a result of unsafe driving.”
This issue isn’t brought on by the behavior of people on bikes. What would make sense would be to target drivers with their message in any way they can, instead of telling people who ride that they need to make up for the incompetence and apathy of motor vehicle operators if they don’t want to be run over.
No–but why couldn’t or wouldn’t Triple A, for instance? We’re AAA members and the organizations propaganda leans towards excessive motorist privilege, as if they don’t know what century they’re living in.
I am not going to say anything new but I’ll still give you my 2-cents- we need:
1. wider and smoother shoulders on busy roads,
2. better on-going maintenance of those shoulders (e.g., removal of trash, removal of blackberry overgrowth that shoves riders into car lanes),
3. a plan for development of multi-use trails that form a network connecting hubs across the state,
4. multi-media/multi-age education about safety on the roads – both car and bike
5. a media blitz about the economic benefit and positive impact of bike touring so that car-centric people (particularly those who harbor negative thoughts toward riders) revise their perspective and see people on bikes as something that benefits everyone.
All your readers, I am certain, have experienced intimidation tactics by intolerant drivers. Unfortunately, American riders have come to expect a certain amount of this as par for the course. However, if infrastructure and sentiment don’t improve, riders from other countries may not encourage others to make the same trip. The beauty of the NW is a strong pull to overlook these issues, but not enough for riders who are “interested but concerned”. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/158497
I have a brother who loves to ride his bike – has ridden multi-use paths for years, but is absolute in his refusal to consider street riding.
Re: your last point about your brother, I’ve heard the same sentiment from some of my colleagues (I currently work in Gresham). In fact, one of my colleagues from Minnesota used to ride, but was so uncomfortable with riding next to cars that he’s gotten rid of his bicycle and has pretty much given up riding altogether.
How about a follow-up on the citations or other actions taken (or not taken) against the motorists who killed cyclists on the roads this year?
That would be nice. I suspect Jonathan has some contacts, but I can tell you scouring google turns up zilch.
Good start and I’m glad they are saying/doing something. But whenever I read this kind of bike safety advice I find it about as useful as…”and don’t forget to cross your fingers.”
so more victim blaming? “sorry you got hit, here’s how you can try to stay out of the way of those deadly law-breaking drivers next time”…
not good enough…
I just checked their web site and I see no mention of looking out for bicycles on the road in any of their recommended driving trips…
when does travel oregon STOP promoting riding the coast????? its russian roulette out there
The coast is a great place to ride for anyone who can rationally assess risk.
You realize that it’s the “Automobile Association of America”, right?
Fundamental changes must occur to improve road safety for vulnerable users. Drivers know that smashing into a bike or pedestrian is unlikely to result in even a ticket, as long as they stay at the scene. It’s all over the news; we read about drivers who did not see the person who came out of nowhere, and wasn’t even wearing a helmet. The crash may not even generate a simple citation. If it does, the infraction may be “failure to maintain position in lane”, or some such nonsense. A $120 ticket; just a bump in the road.
I think that the great majority of motorists feel that they paid for the roads, and that everybody else is a guest, or maybe a parasite that’s in the way. Fossil fuel and automotive interests have had a century to engineer and finance this social construct, which allows the daily death toll to be just be a part of doing business.
If it can become widely understood that every mile driven is subsidized by our government, this could be a start to changing how people think. Most media, reliant on advertisement from car companies, are loathe to run stories on this simple truth. Better for them that the customer embraces an illusion of a beautiful road that requires no sharing, and that it was paid for with that last tank of gas. As a driver, I need to understand about the risk I expose other road users to, and the toxic fumes I emit. I should know how our government is forced to redirect money away from healthcare, schools, and infrastructure etc, and to pour it into to the road maintenance instead. When this becomes common knowledge (and I think it will someday), respect to vulnerable road users may be more easily achieved. But today, if you want to ride your bike on our public roads, it’s more like the wild west, where justice is a rare luxury.
I will join the chorus of folks here who are not yet convinced that the efforts listed here amount to meeting the challenge ‘head-on.’
Nothing will change unless “I didn’t see him” stops being a complete defense to killing or injuring a cyclist.
Ding Ding Ding…..We have a winner
That should be considered an admission of guilt.
“I didn’t see him, ” is not “…a complete defense to killing or injuring a cyclist. …”. That statement does raise questions of why the person making it, would say such a thing, for which there may be a wide range of reasons. This is what the people investigating collisions have to look into. They have to try figure out the best they can, if in the circumstances surrounding a collision there were, or weren’t legitimate reasons a person involved in a collision, didn’t see the other person or persons, involved in the collision.
“legitimate reasons a person involved in a collision, didn’t see the other person”
I suspect we’ll both go to our graves disagreeing about this one, wsbob.
Since we’re talking about someone in a car claiming not to have seen someone on a bike, and this is by now a familiar pattern, what always seems to me like an easy way out of this dead end is for the driver to drive slower and pay better attention so that they *will* see the other person the next time.
The ‘I didn’t see him’ seems frequently (always?) to be deployed as a way of implicitly accusing the other of not being visible enough, when I think it should be a rebuke to the utterer himself: if you didn’t see that other person you were obviously not paying enough attention or giving yourself enough time/space to react in time to avoid hitting him. Either way the onus is on you to *see* the other person, no matter what.
To help bridge this urban / rural divide perhaps it may be best to gather other rural road users who are threatened by unsafe motorists…farmers and labourers who operate tractors and other large farm equipment on public roadways/ rights of way.
It can be an educational thought process to swap out the word “bicyclist” and use “tractor operator” / farmer.
Is the Grange still a collective voice of education and reason in the rural areas? Perhaps Cycle Oregon can help be the voice for the urban side?
I hope everyone noticed the photo Jonathan used, it’s the view while using a mirror. Having bike toured for 42 years, through 20 foreign countries,(without ever being hit) you have to take full responsibility for your transportation choice. Assume that ALL drivers are distracted, (texting, talking on the phone, under the influence, sun in there eyes, whatever it is). It’s your responsibility to have a mirror, wear bright clothes, lights, helmet, chose the “safest route.” If you can’t seem to do these few safety tips, my advice to you, stay off the road, it can be dangerous out there. Drivers education can help, but nothing helps like the knowledge and skills of the rider to be and stay safe.
“it’s the view while using a mirror.”
I don’t know, jeff, It looks to me like the view of an elf perched on the left brake lever of Jonathan’s road bike looking backwards.
so if I’m cycling these roads with my mirror and assuming ALL traffic is going to try to kill me, do I pull off the road and wait beyond the shoulder for them to pass me. That makes for a long, slow ride.
No, I think he is implying that you should be prepared to throw yourself into the ditch, off of the bridge, into the lake, etc if you see a car approaching too close to the shoulder…
Yes, and live to tell about it. I just cycled around Slovenia’s only National Park, and pulled over when I saw behind me a logging truck, looked ahead at the narrow & twisty road and waited. I also waved to the logging truck and he waved back. It was all good. Living to ride another day is better than saving a minute or two and getting hit, just saying.
I did all of those things. I biked on a road recommended by Adventure Cycling, I was in the bike lane, I had a helmet and mirror, I am very defensive on my bike and assume no one sees me etc., etc. I have biked for 30 years having moved from triathlons to off road cycling and then touring so have good bike handling skills. I was on a world tour and biked 35,000 km through 30 countries including some of the biggest cities in the world in Mumbai and Bangkok.
That said, I was biking in Oregon and a truck hit me from behind. So to suggest you can fully protect yourself is nonsense. The driver of course said he did not see me and was charged. I took every precaution and was still hit and am lucky to be alive but an earlier poster is right, as long as drivers have a defence of “I did not see the cyclist” and they get away with a slap on the wrist, nothing will change. We have to stop taking the blame and assigning it where it belongs and then have penalties that will act as a deterrent. Not seeing something when you drive a motor vehicle is not an excuse, it is something that should be punished.
thanks for sharing your misadventure here. What a screwy way to end your project. I’m so sorry. Your story reminds me of Marcellus Tijdink, from the Netherlands & Essya Nabbali and Martha McLean, also from Canada, were all riding here when they were hit from behind. All of you fortunately survived.
From the context I’m thinking you meant to write:
“The driver of course said he did not see me and was not charged.”
Thank you for your response. In my case, the driver admitted to the police that he did not see me but also admitted that he crossed the line and hit me while I was in the bike lane. A witness said the same thing and the driver of the truck that hit me was charged.
Thank *you* for posting, Fred. I saw about your terrible misfortune both on BikePortland and on CGOAB. I read in your post, below, that you’re still recovering and I wish you the best toward that goal.
“… and then have penalties that will act as a deterrent. …” Fred Bouwman
Suggest an example of a penalty that you believe would be a practical deterrent, and to whom it would effectively be a deterrent.
Someone recently mentioned revoking that guy Toller’s license for 100 years. A subsequent commenter pointed out that that would be overkill since Toller is already 86. But I think it is exactly right – as a deterrent. Saying what you (person in car who just carelessly killed another human being) did is so inexcusable that your right to drive has been revoked forever communicates this quite easily I think.
And that was just an example. One could come up with a whole lot more. El Biciclero has added to the example of license revocation the plausibility of also taking away the car, which is very logical, and again can act very well as a deterrent. Instead of, well, if you kill someone with your car you might get a ticket for less than running a red light we need to establish a set of consequences that communicates zero tolerance.
“…Saying what you (person in car who just carelessly killed another human being) did is so inexcusable that your right to drive has been revoked forever communicates this quite easily I think. …” 9watts
Could be interesting to shop around an idea like you’re suggesting to see how much support from the public it could get. As in lobbying politicians, individually, or in Salem. Or, put together a initiative petition. If the idea has any practical potential for implementation, at all, those could be some ways to find out.
If questions of whether a person driving and involved in a collision, out of which a death was a consequence, include determining whether or not the person driving was in fact, careless, that could make citing difficult, even impossible.
I think a majority of people, I’ll say, in the Portland Metro area, but even more likely across the entire state, would say that he vast majority of people driving, do so quite safely. The people not driving safely, and being involved in collisions, out of which a death was a consequence, are likely a small minority, maybe a very small minority. (people good with stats may be able to come up with some numbers.).
So the question arises, can the suggestion you’ve offered, really work to deter this small percent of bad drivers from driving badly, and if so, what has to be put together to have it work.
Anything can, in principle, be done.
What we could use to advance anything like this is a change in attitude about what kind of serious business driving is. (Many have made this point here in comments already.) Right now driving isn’t taken very seriously: Getting your driver’s license is cheap and easily accomplished. Exceeding the speed limit (some) is commonplace, even expected, and is condoned by law enforcement. Killing someone with a vehicle is rarely cause for the kind of punishment meted out for, say possession of drugs. Etc. ODOT’s response to death by careless driver is to ‘urge’ drivers to be watchful…
The sum of all of this is that there’s really little in the way of social sanctions, or legal sanctions that might supply some legitimacy to the former. And no coherent program at the regional or state level to crack down on any of this. Like Vision Zero.
I believe many people driving, take the responsibilities associated with driving, very seriously. They’re very good, safe drivers that literally, save the lives of other road users, including vulnerable road users, through their care in use of the road with a motor vehicle. While there certainly are plenty of instances, observable on the road in which some of the people driving are taking excessive liberties with road use laws, those instances are most likely the minority.
That leaves the question of what means state agencies can take, that the public will support, that can screen out or catch the bad drivers. Within the budget the public gives state agencies. ODOT and OSP staff could most likely come up with a bunch of possible ideas to put a crimp on the bad driving, but without the public’s support and budget for those ideas, they likely couldn’t get far towards implementing them.
Tell people, ‘the roads need to be made safer to use’, and they’ll agree, think that’s a great idea. Follow up saying accomplishing this may mean they’re not going to be able to get a license, or will lose the one they have, or won’t be able to afford to cost of getting a license. Observe what their reaction is, to this possibility becoming a reality.
wsbob, you keep noting ‘ that the public will support.’ I wonder. The anti-smoking sentiment that has swept our country is an interesting example. I suspect that the smoking public, which used to be a considerable share of the public, may not have been consulted, their opinion not valued, when it came to the campaigns to cast aspersions on and limit the right of smokers to do their smoky thing.
Really what we are suggesting here is not that different. We will not anymore tolerate people who endanger others with their smoky cars. They are not welcome; they will be dealt with. I realize that a lot more people *drive* than ever smoked, and so identifying with that group even as they may be much more perspicacious, presents a problem, unless we were able somehow to clarify the difference between regular drivers and the careless ones.
I’m not sure anything really acts as a deterrent. Capital punishment has proven not to be a deterrent against murder, an extreme example.
However, the current status is that if a driver says “I didn’t see him” and then walks free is sending a bad message. You have to make the punishment in line with other similar acts. For example, hitting someone with a bike would be dangerous driving and with that comes a jail term and not a small fine. It will send a message that a bike is a vehicle and has every right on the road and hitting them will carry a punishment. It may not act as a deterrent but would certainly make people aware. You also have to start with young drivers, particularly when it comes to driver training and driver tests. There has to be more awareness of cyclists on the road at an early age.
“…For example, hitting someone with a bike would be dangerous driving and with that comes a jail term and not a small fine. …” Fred Bouwman
Can and should, issuing a citation for the example you’ve suggested, be simple, without no allowance made for whether the person riding claims they saw a person they struck with their bike? I
f you’ve heard of the incident in Central Park New York some months back, the last I heard was that the person that rode their bike into and killed someone on foot as they were crossing the street, has not been cited.
In an earlier incident with some similarities in San Francisco several years back, the person riding was cited and eventually convicted, but the process of determining whether the person was guilty or innocent, was very difficult and long.
Thanks for sharing your tragic story. I’m glad to read you had taken every safety precaution available, route, mirror, helmet. That probably helped you survive the thousand of kilometers you had already ridden. Also congratulations on biking through, what I consider some of the most challenging countries, like SE Asia. Even in Holland where they have separate bike lanes, there were 184 deaths last year. There are no guarantees when you choose cycling as your primary transportation. The only 100% guarantee to not get hit or have an accident, is to stay home and for most of us, that choice isn’t on the list. I hope you heal back up soon and are able to continue your journey.
How about targeting the people driving cars who are killing people riding bikes, instead of victim-blaming? We all know how to ride safely, it’s the car drivers that don’t understand how to drive safely. Why is Travel Oregon not lobbying for dedicated bike infrastructure?
Because there will never be separated cycle tracks or whatever you’d call “dedicated bicycle infrastructure” built on hundreds of miles of rural roads. There isn’t the money and in many places there isn’t the room, not without cutting away more mountainside. Look, for instance, at Highway 1 along the coast, a popular and beautiful cycling route. For much of it, there is physically no place to put a separated cycle path.
For rural areas, the best we can get will be a wide smooth shoulder aka bike lane, clear painted lines, maybe raised pavement markers or rumble strips to alert drivers who are driving over the shoulder line, and signs warning drivers to look for bikes.
It’s not Portland out there.
Dream big! When 101 was built, there “wasn’t the room” for it, yet we made it happen. Sure, it’s not politically feasible to make a big investment in cycle tracks there right now, but does that mean we should shout down anyone who tries to build towards that?
This isn’t intended to be a stereotypical anti-California comment, just a note: it’s only the 101 up here in Oregon, there’s no highway 1.
Suppose that somehow, there is $200 million (or whatever it would cost) available to widen a hundred miles of Highway 101 (right, not Hwy 1) by 10 feet and add a separate cycletrack. Why would we ever choose to spend that money for that purpose? For the same money, a dense network of bike lanes, separated cycletracks, bike/ped bridges, etc could be built throughout the Portland metro area (2.5MM popuation), that would serve, rough guess, 50,000X more rider-miles/yr than a Highway 101 cycletrack through a few tiny beach communities (maybe 10K population). Choosing to build a barely used Highway 101 cycletrack instead of a heavily used Portland metro bike network would be one of the most anti-bicycling decisions I can imagine.
I do agree that the case is stronger for a network of bike infrastructure in the Portland Metro area. But there is a potential case for a highway 101 cycle path – if it creates a world-beating tourist destination (really, where else has a cycle path next to scenery like the Oregon Coast?) and attracts tens of thousands more cycle tourists from around the country and the world every year, that could reinvigorate the coastal economy enough to repay that $200 million investment easily. Whether that level of cycle tourism is reasonable to expect, I don’t know. But a study could be commissioned to study that question.
“…if it creates a world-beating tourist destination […] and attracts tens of thousands more cycle tourists from around the country and the world every year”
Yeah, but see this is where some of us part company. John’s outline of a bicycle network in Portland, we can assume, would chiefly though perhaps not exclusively be used for bicycling-as-transportation. In the pursuit of a compelling narrative this purpose, this classification, is important. Attracting people from afar to enjoy our scenery is something we can justify with our current economic models, but should, in my view, be classified as a very different type of infrastructure, with a different rationale, funding source, etc.
I realize that people live along Hwy 101, and that they also bicycle/might bike in greater numbers if a better infrastructure and increased respect for their mode of travel were to be brought about there, but, again, that is a very different thing than justifying spending taxpayer money to woo tourists.
We could of course do both – spend gobs of money to make bicycling easier, safer, more enjoyable in cities and for people getting around, and spend gobs of money to attract tourists who hope to leave our state without more gray hair or road rash or worse. But right now our opinion makers don’t seem to have the guts to do either, which is the chief reason I am so keen on keeping these matters separate.
Yes, I think spending a lot of money for bike infrastructure on rural roads to promote local bike commuting is not justified.
Taking Hwy 101 for example, the distances on the coast are larger and the terrain hillier than what most consider a realistic bike commute. Cannon Beach to Manzanita is 14 miles, Lincoln City to Newport is 24 miles, each is practically the other’s nearest town, and Hwy 101 is almost constant rollers as it climbs up into the cliffs and down into the towns. Here in Portland most people’s limit for a bike commute is about 6-7 miles even in on the flat east side.
Would a multi hundred million dollar investment would be justified for the resulting bike tourism dollars? Maybe someone can make a case for that. I would guesstimate each $100MM investment would need to generate something like 1MM/yr additional bike tourists if you want a 20 year payback to the taxpayer.
Yes, there’s that, but also consider that John Liu’s $200 million, 100 mile route is a hypothetical, a perfectly valid and thought provoking one, but still just one of many possibilities.
A different hypothetical, but one I’d guess more closely matches reality, would be lots of smaller projects gradually improving bike access. That would fit both the Hwy 101 route as well as better urban biking conditions (more than simply “routes”). For examples, this year’s shoulder seam snafu should have already provoked ODOT to include better specs for resurfacing contracts. Or any new or rebuilt bridges must include bike/ped space, or the Armco barrier around the narrow part of Tillamook Head could be replaced with cable barrier to buy another very critical foot of shoulder space, or HAWK-type flashers could be installed along hazardous roadways such as parts of Hwy 131 similar to the warnings lights for tunnels, or many other one-step-at-a-time improvements including not only infrastructure but education, legislation and enforcement.
That’s how I interpret Adam’s upthread comment about what Travel Oregon should be lobbying for, as well as Garlynn’s downthread comment which includes Metro (and, I assume, ODOT, DNR, parks, and other agencies): not one single, maybe one-time-only mega-project, but a real, actual and time-finite commitment to incrementally bring the status of facilities for peds/bikes along all roads up to a safe and popularly serviceable level, in perpetuity.
This makes sense to me. As rural roads get repaved, restriped, or other work done, they should be upgraded – striping, pavement markings, signage, raised markers, move barriers, etc. Those upgrades might seem small, but they make a difference. Two extra feet is a lot.
As for driver education, perhaps Travel Oregon could try advertisements in local media – the local paper, local radio stations, maybe billboards – reminding drivers to watch out for bicyclists. These are small media markets and it shouldn’t be too expensive to run tests.
Rumble strips are exactly what we don’t need.
Victim Blaming? give me a break. If your waiting until the roads are made wider or there are separate bike paths, you probably won’t go bike touring in your lifetime. We can’t even get the roads paved in Portland, where there are thousands of drivers. The chances of having wider shoulders and separate bike paths in rural Oregon? is only a dream at this point. So yes, if your currently planning on bike touring be prepared for anything out there. While touring I’m not sure the driver coming up behind me has had bicycle safety instruction, so at this point, assume not.
“…car drivers…don’t understand how to drive safely.”
I find this fascinating. What could possibly be so hard to understand? I’m starting to think that it isn’t that drivers don’t understand, so much as drivers don’t care to drive safely. “Cyclists force me to pass on blind curves/with oncoming traffic/on narrow bridges/etc.” If it just became culturally acceptable to wait to pass until it was safe, we’d be miles ahead, so to speak. But slowing down—the obvious choice when it comes to any other vehicle moving slower than you are—doesn’t seem to even enter the minds of drivers when the slower vehicle is a bicycle. As I’ve noted before, even slowing down to a speed that is still slightly over the speed limit is something many drivers Will Not Do if there is a bicycle in front of them.
No one holds them to account.
Therefore they drive however they feel like; do whatever seems natural. Unfortunately for the rest of us what feels natural is sometimes egregious, dangerous, pathological.
Not saying anything new here, but the reaction thus far does seem to fall into the “blame the victim” category.
And Cycle Oregon is promoting a very limited set of routes. For the cost of a portion of our next billion-dollar statewide transportation bill, we could easily construct a starter set of off-road multi-user trails, as a down payment on an eventual statewide system of such trails, connecting all major destinations in the state with one another. For inspiration, see Germany. This is the solution; and we’ve already started in this direction, with the Springwater Corridor, the Salmonberry Trail, and the car-free portions of the Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway. We just need to double (ok, 10x) down on these initial investments.
Metro, with their Infinity Loop, could at least be leading the state in looking at how to connect Portland to the hinterlands that are (or could be) accessible by bicycle from the city within 1 to 2 days riding time.
Cycle Oregon should not be promoting bicycle tourism unless the routes are safe. Continuing to promote these routes that are putting people at risk is negligent. There should be an ongoing body count associated with each route on the CO website.
“Cycle Oregon should not be promoting bicycle tourism unless the routes are safe.”
younggods, did you forget that several of these deaths were on sections of road with wide shoulders and good visibility?
Your demand sounds reasonable at first reading but is based on a misunderstanding that this is only about infrastructure. Cycle Oregon cannot certify any section of road because they are not in charge of drivers, can’t make them pay attention, can’t enforce the laws we have, or strengthen the ones we need. They could—as many have suggested—work toward many of these, and so far it seems they’ve hardly begun, but in the meantime let’s not pretend this is all about the roads.
Besides, what would you consider safe? How do you measure it?
Basically a route would be considered safe if there have been less than a determined threshold of incidents in a certain amount of time. Incidents here are death, injury, or harassment from distracted or malicious drivers, with a combination of less than safe conditions due to road condition, lack of acceptable shoulder, excessive speed limit, etc. Cycle OR should take input from experienced users of these routes to specifically state areas where you would be at high risk.
I agree this is mostly a driver problem, but I don’t see that being fixed anytime soon. In the meantime, it’s irresponsible to promote dangerous routes.
Life is not safe, so stay home in bed with your head under the covers. I will be out enjoying the terrific routes Travel Oregon has produced.
I’d rather see all involved agencies lobby for greater police power in stopping motorists, much more expensive tickets, and the power to impound vehicles permanently and sieze and destroy cell phones on the spot. The US Constitution does not contain the word “automobile” in it anywhere.
Part of the rural/urban difference that is most stark here in Oregon is the Expectation of bicycles.
Even in Portland we have people driving that hate our mere presence BUT they know we will be on the roads legally whether th like it or not.
It seems kinda ridiculous that we’d have to get this kindergarten basic training on rural folk but perhaps it needs to be explained in plain simple BIG F##KN ELECTRIC BLINKING BILLBOARDS that:hat
() bicycles are legal on public roads, not just the curb or dirt
() people from all over the WORLD come to Oregon and spend money because they love riding bicycles through our beautiful state
() the road that is the only reasonable route to drive from point A to point B: the same goes for the person riding the bicycle.
There needs to be a continual PR effort to remind rural drivers that bicycle riders aren’t an “evil liberal Portland hipster Agenda 21 conspiracy” but a cheap self reliant method of transportation that cost the taxpayers NOTHING after an initial investment AND is bringing in millions of tourist dollars to small communities preferentially.
The MUTCD signage warning of bicycles needs to be deployed fully on rural bicycle touring routes; I’d even go overboard adding additional signs but only standard easily recognizable signs that appear to be Official®.
These rural communities need to understand that they group that stands to lose the most from bicycle tourism stopping is THEMSELVES.
“These rural communities need to understand that they group that stands to lose the most from bicycle tourism stopping is THEMSELVES.”
Not everyone is enamored of the changes tourism brings to a community. If we measure everything in dollars and stop there, sure. But quality of life is very inadequately captured by changes in receipts. There is plenty of research that suggests the mixed blessings tourism (can) bring.
And I agree with you at least in principle; the problem is how this works out in reality.
If you’ve lived in a deep rural area (and I’ve done so all over the nation) you’ll hear much poetry on the superior quality of life in the country. Even city dwellers agree on this.
The problem comes when there is a choice between country lifestyle and “citi-fied money” and greed wins nearly every time. This is because we in America live in a “special” mutation of Capitalism that insists that EVERYTHING actually DOES have a price; to deny this is to live in a fantasy world.
We, as a society, allow success and happiness to be defined by GDP, stock prices, interest rates and short term profits as we ever increasingly adhere to a set of values mote resemble The Feringi Rules of Acquisition than traditional American morals.
The deeper problem is that ultimately neither absolute Capitalism nor absolute Collectiveism has proven to work anywhere other than on paper unless the goal is to foment blo0dy revo1ution. A path between must be forged that will change constantly as ship through iceberg infested water. Even holding position is fraught with danger as the drifting ice of societal change will find you eventually. Life is change.
My name is Fred Bouwman and on August 12th, I was bicycling near Bend and struck from behind by a truck going 100 km/h. I was on a bicycle trip around the world to raise funds for an orphanage in the Philippines. I was admitted to a hospital in Bend with a concussion, 2 collapsed lungs, a broken shoulder, 2 broken bones in my back and 14 broken ribs.
Fortunately, despite all of that I am one of the lucky ones because I am alive to talk about it. I am back in Canada and 2 months later still a long way from recovering.
It is nice to see some action is being taken to change things and I can only hope that things improve so others don’t have to go through it. My heart goes out to the family of the ones who were not so lucky.
I also want to thank the people of Bend who went out of their way to show hospitality and kindness to me and some family members who came down from Canada while I was in the hospital.