(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)
Have you ever noticed how the “WALK” sign over in a crosswalk sometimes turns green while your signal remains red? This phenomenon has confused a few readers who aren’t sure if they can start riding when the walk sign turns green or if they must wait for the main signal.
Here’s our first question from Dave M.:
“Hi Jonathan. They have recently switched the signal at SE Division and SE 52nd (part of the new 50s bikeway). It now is a divided signal between North and South traffic, but on both sides the “Walk” pedestrian signal goes for longer than the actual green light (going North it triggers first and then the green, and going South the green is shorter than the “walk”). Are bike allowed to cross on the “walk” signal?
Some clarification from PBOT about what they are expecting cyclists to do would be great. I’m just not sure if I should go only on the green or on either “Walk” or green.”
And Fritz F. had a similar question:
“I have noticed that the light at N Williams & NE Killingsworth triggers the cross walk signs several seconds before the traffic light turns green for traffic on Williams. Several times, especially during the summer, I have seen riders go through the intersection in the bike lane while the cross walks are triggered, but not the traffic light. Normally I wait for the light to turn green before proceeding, but I’ve recently had people yell at me for not going. Legally who is in the right and why doesn’t the city place a cycle green light to avoid confusion at this light?”
To get some clarification, we got in touch with Peter Koonce, PBOT’s manager of signals, lighting and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).
Koonce said the intersections above have been given a treatment known as a Leading Pedestrian Interval — or LPI in wonky parlance. LPIs are installed to give people who are using the crosswalk a head start by giving them time to establish their right-of-way over people making right turns. Koonce says in the case of NE Killingsworth and Williams, the city did the LPI because, “We had historically poor compliance by motor vehicle operators — right turns on red were becoming failure to yield to pedestrians.”
According to the NACTO Design Guide, “LPIs have been shown to reduce pedestrian-vehicle collisions as much as 60% at treated intersections.”
But the question remains: Are people on bikes (who are not using the crosswalk) allowed to go early as well? The answer is no. An LPI is only for people using the crosswalk. As tempting as it is, if you are biking in the standard traffic lanes, you must wait for the signal to turn green.
Even though it’s technically illegal, I’ve observed many people on bikes think they can go on the green walk signal. Koonce noticed similar behavior on a recent study trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts where they’ve implemented LPIs at every intersection (it’s a major college town and there is a high volume of foot traffic). “People on bikes would use them… They’d just jump into the intersection.”
In Cambridge, Koonce said walkers get only a three-second head start. But in Portland, he tends to provide five to 10 seconds depending on how busy the intersection is and how wide the street is. The added green time for the walking movement means there’s less time for the other signal phases. That can make LPIs a difficult choice in very congested areas where Koonce says, “every second counts.”
Koonce uses LPIs selectively and reviews each request (which come from traffic engineers) individually. While not every request is approved, Koonce said he tends to err on the side of safety. “There still isn’t a lot of research to suggest they are proven countermeasures to conflicts, but I tend to think they do improve safety. I just worry that people disregard the signal when it’s congested.”
Koonce estimates there are about 30-40 intersections in the city with LPIs. (There’s a new one at N Williams and Alberta and also one at SE 39th and Clinton.)
Next time you come across this situation, try and resist the urge to jump the signal even though the crosswalk sign has turned green. And if someone behind you gets impatient with you, just turn around and tell them, “Chill out man, it’s an LPI. I read about it on BikePortland!”
— Answer more of your burning bike questions in the Ask BikePortland archives.
UPDATE: Commenter Chris Monsere (who also happens to be a noted researcher at PSU) shared that Washington D.C. passed a law in 2013 allowing bicycle riders to cross with the LPI.
If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at email@example.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.
I get that there’s what LEGAL. But when I’m driving a car I’m frustrated when bikes don’t jump the green on that walk signal. It clears the intersection faster for everyone.
Seriously? PJ, you could make that argument about every light when there’s no traffic coming, especially those with a green box. The point is that it’s illegal. I don’t think it’s good policy to expect that bikes should do something illegal for their benefit OR yours.
Who cares if it’s legal, it’s the safest time to be in the intersection as a cyclist. There’s no chance of collision, therefore I go then. By doing this I am safer and when the light does turn green for cars they don’t have to deal with an annoying slow moving cyclist. Win-win.
Some questions are better left unanswered. I’m still going on the walk signal.
I assume that you zealously signal turns continuously for 100 feet when riding a bicycle.
As you say:
“The point is that it’s illegal. I don’t think it’s good policy to expect that bikes should do something illegal for their benefit…”
You could also read the next section of the law.
I also rationalize law breaking when it’s to my benefit…nice to know that I’m not alone.
When has THAT ever gone wrong in society before…….
I’ll ask the next jaywalking pedestrian I see that “question”.
I wonder how the people responding to this would feel if a car driver felt the same justification. Hey, there’s no one coming in either direction so I’m just going to drive through the red light. ‘Cos otherwise it’s going to take longer to clear the intersection once the light does change, and I’m not going to let a little light tell ME what to do. If cyclists want to be treated the same as other vehicles, which is the camp I fall into, then I believe we should act like other vehicles. If you want to break the rules, you naughty little bad boy, I’m not going to try to stop you, but at the same time don’t get frustrated at me because I don’t do the same.
I judge drivers differently than riders, because drivers are capable of so much more injury than cyclists.
There’s all kinds of laws out there, and many of them are broken routinely by both drivers and cyclists. Enforcement, norms, and most of all common sense dictate which laws are obeyed and which laws are flaunted. The idea that the set of rules to follow should be exactly the same for cars and bikes makes no sense to me.
1. Cyclists are not treated the same as motorvehicles under current law (and they should not be).
2. Cyclists are far less of a risk to other human beings than a person in a multi-ton self-propelled metal box.
3. A person on a bike is far more vulnerable than a person in a multi-ton self-propelled metal box.
We need laws that treat people who cycle equitably and do not jam a very different traffic mode into the square ped of motoring.
“Hey, there’s no one coming in either direction so I’m just going to drive through the red light. ‘Cos otherwise it’s going to take longer to clear the intersection once the light does change, and I’m not going to let a little light tell ME what to do.”
Drivers do this all the time. This is why they invented right (and sometimes left) turns on red—this exact same rationale. Clearing the intersection faster. Drivers are allowed to disregard the red light as long as they are turning. Oh—and as long as they stop first. Oh, yeah—and as long as they make sure it’s clear and yield. Sound familiar? Drivers routinely don’t meet these requirements when making a right on red; I watch it every day. So we can take that one of two ways: either we observe that “people” can’t follow the procedures for proceeding against a light and we disallow any such concessions, or we could say “what’s good for the goose might not be terrible for the gander”. If drivers of multi-ton vehicles can be allowed to operate contrary to signals, and this behavior has been proven to injure people, yet we continue to allow it purely for the sake of driver convenience, why would we not allow similar behavior for bicyclists who would be highly unlikely to kill or injure anyone if following proper procedures, for the sake of bicyclist convenience? Why shouldn’t the law be convenient for everybody?
Cyclists (like me) jump the signal for safety reasons. I’m less likely to get killed if I get out there before the cars. No driver can make that argument. I seriously don’t see why it would bother you unless you’re just looking for a reason to be annoyed with cyclists. If you’re pissed that we get to do stuff drivers can’t do, why don’t you join the club? Membership isn’t exclusive.
There’s no need for any kind of “expectation”. What would be your reaction when driving if the driver in front of you unexpectedly, without signaling, moved off into a turn lane, opening up the road in front of you? Outrage? He didn’t signal, so he unexpectedly did something illegal, but it only made your life better, what cause for indignation is there?
interesting logic there.
OH NO I HAVE TO WAIT AN EXTRA FEW SECOND IN MY MOTORBOX
This particular intersection has ZERO possible conflict to roll straight on the bike-only part when the walk signal happens so it is hard to resist the urge because there is no safety impact. What would be a dream situation is if a bike signal were added for the straight route. A luxury to be sure but it reminds me of when a standard lane has a left turn signal happening and the people making a right turn really don’t need to stop at all (assuming no pedestrians) and would benefit from a right arrow signal to match/mirror.
I assume you’re talking about Williams? The other intersection mentioned (52nd and Division) definitely could have consequences from cars turning into you.
If the walk signal pictured above or others like it on my commute e.g 39th/Lincoln or SW Capitol/Sunset had a Copenhagen style bike signal that went green at the exact same time as the walk signal, this would be 100% legal. Yet absolutely nothing about the intersection or its timing would be different.
This is one of those weird cases where following the law works to everyone’s disadvantage.
But by all means let’s don’t disobey the little lights.
Yet another case where Idaho’s stop sign and stop light laws clearly make far more sense. In Idaho it is perfectly legal once you have come to a complete stop to continue on through a red light if there is no conflicting traffic, which would be allowed for a cyclist going straight in the case where pedestrians are taking advantage of the NPI. Idaho’s treatment of cyclists as something in between a motor vehicle and a pedestrian just makes sense.
Repeal 814.20/30 and ratify an Idaho stop law!
“Yet another case where Idaho’s stop sign and stop light laws clearly make far more sense. …” Bjorn
Some people biking would like Oregon to have the Idaho Stop, but the spud state’s doesn’t make good sense, which is likely one strong reason no other state in the union has followed Idaho’s example. The Idaho Stop opens allows more complicated traffic movement, and opens up increased potential for danger, collisions and consequences.
From a safe traffic movement perspective, the LPI (lead pedestrian interval) crosswalk signaling doesn’t make good sense for use by people riding in the main lanes of the road, or on the bike lane at the far right of the road, because those parts of the road aren’t the crosswalk.
I kind of doubt that people driving walking, don’t mind people biking, moving over into the crosswalk at intersections, likely without stopping or signaling in order to avoid having to wait for the red light to turn green. When confronted with this kind of behavior by people riding, other people using the road may not honk the horn, call out nastily, shake fists and so on, but that’s no certainty that they don’t mind it happening.
People using the road generally have to put up with this kind of garbage, because there’s not a lot else at the time that they can do. I think most people on the road are just trying to relax, so they concentrate on the road, and can get home safely and uneventfully. Road users, deciding to use their own rules of the road, contrary to common sense and the law, aren’t helping.
Often the law works contrary to common sense.
This wouldn’t be a source of confusion if bicycle infrastructure was given the same level of care as motor vehicle infrastructure. At the Williams/Killingsworth intersection, each motor vehicle lane has a signal. Each crosswalk has a signal. The bike lane does not have a signal. So waiting bicyclists end up making a choice to go on either the pedestrian signal or the motor vehicle signal.
This is good information (thanks!) but I’m not sure I’ll stop using the walk signal to cross E Burnside at 20th (on my regular commute route). Drivers seem to love to pass too closely on 20th, and I appreciate the extra few seconds to get out ahead of them, make sure I’m visible, and either take the lane or (depending on the presence/absence of parked cars) find a safe line to the right of the car lane. Is there a good/safety argument for waiting that I’m missing?
Also, would moving into the crosswalk and riding at “walking speed” (which I believe is legal anywhere it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk, i.e. anywhere that’s not downtown) make this legal, technically speaking? (Not that I think it would be a good/safe idea.)
Yes, it’s completely legal to move over and use the crosswalk as long as you enter the crosswalk at a walking speed.
FWIW, I use crosswalks liberally when biking around. I prefer to use laws to my advantage as much as possible.
“FWIW, I use crosswalks liberally when biking around. I prefer to use laws to my advantage as much as possible.”
Do you believe that those who complain about “scofflaw” cyclists view using the crosswalk to jump a light differently from jumping the light a few feet to the left?
If I’m operating my bicycle legally and with courtesy of people around me, I don’t think anyone really cares.
And yes, I do think there’s a huge difference between blatantly breaking an obvious law versus taking advantage of a bicycle’s unique advantages both in terms of its operational capabilities and its often favorable legal framework.
I often see/hear drivers complain about cyclists using crosswalks . I also don’t think concern about illegal behavior by a subset of cyclists is the origin of anti-bike feeling. IMO, it’s a convenient scapegoat/false concern.
So you see/hear it a lot, but you don’t think it’s a factor that also affects their opinion?
But using a crosswalk while riding a bike isn’t illegal. If people are going to point to legal behavior and complain about it, I don’t think much is going to change their minds about “scofflaw” cyclists. To some drivers the only law-abiding cyclist is the one who stays out of their way, and doesn’t do anything they wouldn’t do on a bike, legal or not. I’m certainly not going to attempt to follow all the made up “laws” that some drivers imagine I ought to follow to make them happy.
Also, any driver that complains about illegal behavior on the road is an instant hypocrite.
Also, would moving into the crosswalk and riding at “walking speed” (which I believe is legal anywhere it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk, i.e. anywhere that’s not downtown) make this legal, technically speaking? (Not that I think it would be a good/safe idea.)
Yes, it’s completely legal to move over and use the crosswalk as long as you enter the crosswalk at a walking speed.
FWIW, I use crosswalks liberally when biking around. I prefer to use laws to my advantage as much as possible.” maus/bikeportland
Jonathan, at intersections, the procedure you use on your bike, to move over from main lane or bike lane to the crosswalk and across the intersection, could be an interesting video for bikeportland. Maybe it could serve as kind of a tutorial. Someone most likely would be willing to follow behind and film you going through the procedure.
Keep up all the good, hard work!
you don’t need to ride into the crosswalk at a walking pace because there is no motor vehicle conflict because they have a red light…
“…Also, would moving into the crosswalk and riding at “walking speed” (which I believe is legal anywhere it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk, …” stacia
Depending upon the procedure they chose to do it, someone riding, that moved into the crosswalk from the street, likely could in doing so, be legal, or at least able to do it without being inconsiderate to other people using the road.
Think about what form such a procedure might should take. Some signaling should likely precede the move from bike lane or main lane, into the crosswalk. Maybe not ‘exactly 100’ from the transition or turn as some of bikeportland’s wiseguys may disingenuously insist, but within reason, sufficiently so that other people near to where the move is set to occur, will get the message about what the person riding is planning to do.
also wondering this
As much as I hate the Idaho Stop, this might be even worse. No cross traffic, no conflicts. Notice that PBOT doesn’t even bother with a rationale.
Why didn’t the ongoing safety project there add a bike signal for clarity, and separately, what happened to all the signs PBOT put up on the sidewalk? There might be one left standing.
Why do you hate the Idaho Stop?
If we are “people on foot”, “people on bikes”, and “people in cars” then I don’t see anything wrong with a single set of rules for all. If a universal, mode-agnostic set of rules that applies to everyone isn’t perfect, it is one we can all understand.
Those jay walkers make all of us law-abiding pedestrians look bad.
Your irony misses the point.
Idaho Stop’s limit on who may legally exercise the judgment to defy a traffic signal is arbitrary. It does not matter how you got there. If one may go, all may go—otherwise, none at all.
So, should pedestrians have to come to a complete stop before making a right on red? If a pedestrian is blocking other pedestrians, are they obligated to find an area suitable for safe turnout and use it to let other peds pass? What are the fines for exceeding the speed limit as a pedestrian? What is the appropriate hand signal for a pedestrian making a right turn? Should a pedestrian stop before the crosswalk line when approaching a STOP sign or red light? Where is it illegal for a pedestrian to park? May pedestrians pass on the right? What are the legal lighting requirements for pedestrians at night?
These are all kind of ridiculous examples of rules that we tend to think are necessary for drivers of automobiles, but not so applicable to pedestrians. Bicycles are somewhere in the middle, but if we exempt one group from some of the rules, why not another? Yes the Idaho stop law permits some vehicle operators to “defy” the letter of the law, but never the spirit of yielding right-of-way to the appropriate party in any situation. There are visibility differences, acceleration differences, mass differences, signal detection differences, all kinds of differences between bikes and motor vehicles at intersections that make tailoring laws to suit a particular mode not unreasonable.
If practiced correctly, the Idaho stop law would not even reduce predictability, as any driver with legitimate right-of-way could very well continue to expect an approaching bicyclist to yield, even if all the bicyclist did was slow down to time their arrival at the intersection after the motorist had already proceeded. Treating red lights as stop signs is a little bit trickier, but I do this on occasion when a signal absolutely won’t detect my presence—despite using all the tricks I know. If signal detectors follow “rules” that exclude me from detection (“tricks” should not be necessary), then I’m going to follow “rules” that let me ignore that signal. Wouldn’t it be nice if when I had to do this, it wasn’t against the law?
There’s a new one of these at 52nd and Division that gave me pause recently. The three traffic lanes are, left to right: Left turn lane, bike lane (going straight), right turn lane for all vehicles except buses. Typically there’s no conflict and I have no problem waiting for the green. Last time I was at this light there was a bus to my right that would also be going straight on green. After a few seconds of consideration, I opted to go on the walk signal so that I could be well ahead of the bus on green. Can anyone disagree this was the safest choice?
The city should add a bike signal, or at least a “Bikes may proceed on walk signal” sign at this location, as well as at Williams and Killingsworth.
52nd and Division has car traffic moving all 4 directions though. So if you go north on 52nd on the walk signal, you could easily be turned into by a car turning east off of 52nd (and they do have the right of way as they have a green light).
i would disagree that jumping the light to avoid the bus is the safest choice. Only bikes and buses can go straight there, so there is really not an imminent hurry for the bus to no wait for a cyclist. (I’ve had this happen a couple of times and the bus just waits for me to go).
I don’t think they do have a green light, though. I will pay better attention next time, but I’m fairly certain the southbound lane still has a red when the northbound walk sign turns on.
in the case of NE Killingsworth and Williams “We had historically poor compliance by motor vehicle operators.
well that and the rest of everywhere.
While it is illegal, I think there is more to why people on bikes run LPI’s than them just being in a rush. Consider:
– Bikes going straight want to get out into the intersection for the same reason that pedestrians do – to avoid a right hook. Unless there is an open bike box or you are taking the lane, right hooks are a danger.
– Bike lanes end at intersections, sometimes permanently. The extra times gives you a chance to merge safely or to get across the intersection to where the lane continues.
– Bikes want to get out of the way of cars to avoid getting buzzed or other confrontations. That extra 3-10 seconds is time during which you can be across the intersection and out of the way. I think this is a reason folks also run lights and stop signs.
All that said, I cannot see any safety justification for bikes using an LPI to turn right. Moreover, in this case bikes pose the same type of risk to pedestrian that cars do.
What if in this situation bikes were allowed to enter the intersection with pedestrians *as long as they are not turning*? That seems like a win-win, although implementing such a scheme might be complicated and expensive. Still, if bikes are doing it right now, shouldn’t we consider it as an option, at least for future LPI’s?
Totally agree with this. There’s an LPI on SW Park crossing SW Vista where much of the car traffic turns left– I feel much safer going with the ped signal and getting out of everyone’s way before they start trying to turn into me.
But every time I do it, I worry that people are going to grumble about entitled cyclists. So depending on how sensitive I feel to other people’s perceptions vs. how prudent it seems to exit the intersection quickly, I wait for the green or not–which is, admittedly, a rather haphazard (though definitely considered) approach to following the laws.
Note the subtlety of the article stating:
What it doesn’t say is that if you’re operating as a pedestrian while on a bike (and the inherent rules around that), you could go through on the LPI.
There in an LPI light at NE Knott where it crosses Killingsworth. On my westbound trip to work I will wait for the LPI and for the full green light before I go because I’m in the traffic lane. But coming home, I’m on the sidewalk with my wheel in the crosswalk – I go when the LPI goes, before the green light (and there is no green light from the sidewalk looking east anyway). Perfectly legal.
Here’s where it gets gray … once I’ve established myself in the crosswalk, but I want to go faster than “a normal walking speed”, I exit the crosswalk and continue through in the intersection and pick up NE Knott east of Killingsworth in the traffic lane, not the sidewalk. I’m assuming that’s perfectly legal as there is no guidance in the ORS saying that a bike in a crosswalk must maintain traversal of the intersection in the crosswalk. I’m assuming as soon as the bike leaves the crosswalk, the operator has gone from pedestrian to vehicle operator. Yes?
You don’t have to ride a walking speed in the crosswalk, only on the approach and entry. A bicycle operator can also leave the crosswalk or any other place of safety and enter the roadway so long as it does not constitute an immediate hazard.
scene: williams and killingsworth on a dark and stormy night.
1. cyclist track stands at light with entitled grimace
2. starts pedaling and kisses edge of crosswalk for a fraction of second
3. swerves back into main lane and sprints to cat 6 glory!
Knott and Killingsworth are parallel
Gah! I meant to say MLK. Derpy me.
If I’m riding a bike I’m on a vehicle; I will obey the vehicular signal. Simple. I’m riding; I ain’t walking.
While it’s true that you “ain’t walking”, the same protections apply to you on a bicycle if you are using a pedestrian facility as if you were on foot. Enjoy.
“the same protections apply to you on a bicycle if you are using a pedestrian facility as if you were on foot”
Not quite true. If you enter a crosswalk at above a walking pace (let’s say you were riding into the intersection at speed and WALK was already illuminated) you do forfeit your right of way, and if a turning vehicle crossed your path you would be found at fault.
Not a fan of places where bikes are routed through crosswalks.
Thinking of the new SW waterfront route.
Many of the street signs on what was SE/NE 39th Avenue have come down, now that the dual-signing period has expired. Soon people won’t know what street you’re talking about.
lots of streets in this town used to have different names.
A number of downtown intersections along Morrison and Yamhill Streets also have Leading Pedestrian+Train Intervals. When a MAX train is leaving the platform the green is delayed, with the vehicle signal remaining red while the train gets to go and the WALK signal lights. This interval is pretty long, seemingly more than half of the normal (already brief) green phase, often giving you only a few seconds to clear once the green does light.
On my bike I usually proceed with the WALK under these circumstances, even though the light is red, especially uphill on Morrison. Here is why:
– Not only is the shortened green phase reallyshort, but because it is also delayed and the signal at the next intersection is NOT delayed, you really have to stomp on the pedals to make the next light and not get delayed an additional cycle.
– The few cars on Morrison get impatient with being behind a bike that might not make the next light because of the green delay, particularly because it illegal and difficult for them to pass. I’d rather stay out ahead of them.
– If I do wait for the green, some cars race around anyway in an attempt to catch the next light, often delaying ME at the next intersection (about half end up turning within a block or two) while they prepare to turn, often waiting for pedestrians in the adjacent crosswalk.
As suggested above, I will often cut over into the crosswalk to pull this maneuver. Unlike at 39th, it is illegal downtown because you can’t ride on the sidewalk there, but I do it anyway because a lot of drivers don’t know that and it still makes my reason for doing it more clear. And if I got a ticket it would be for sidewalk riding, not running a red.
Or if a cop is around I’ll dismount and walk through the crosswalk, still usually getting across the intersection faster than if I’d waited for the green.
I make a point of Idaho stopping/yielding every time (it’s safe to do so and) there is a portland police officer nearby. I’ve done this many, many dozens of times and have yet to see a portland police officer show the tiniest sign of interest. In my experience, the portland police enforce safe but illegal traffic maneuvers only when the political muckety mucks who cater to bike-hating cranks force them to do so (e.g. Ladd’s addition stop sign enforcement).
Kudos to the portland police for focusing on genuine safety issues and not imaginary ones.
Traffic signals are complex and the rules that govern how we use them are too.
On light rail streets, please be mindful of the unique situation. A train approaching from behind you is difficult to see. When traffic engineers use a circular green indication it is because you are permitted to make a left (or right) turn. In the case of Morrison or Yamhill or many other train intersections, If you are turning left when it is circular red and Walk, you will be in direct conflict with the train. That comes with a high risk of a crash with the train or equally bad… causing the train to stop suddenly, endangering the passengers. Transportation engineers only create this situation because it is the only way to maintain safe operations for all vehicles given how we can communicate with today’s displays. Having users know that it is okay to go straight only on a Walk and a red indication is not practical. Inconsistent traffic signal operations has some challenges. The DC law that Chris Monsere suggests changes some of the conditions engineers could use. Simply stated, it is imperfect. Transportation engineering is at times more complex than it seems.
As for putting up a bike signal at Killingsworth, or other locations…. it is a good idea that costs money. It is also still not technically allowed in the Manual written by the Federal Highway Administration (That is being worked on p with the state DOT dominated process that is used to change the rules engineers are asked to apply on federal and often state DOT reviewed projects). Adding signals is low cost in some cases and not in others. In the case of N Killingsworth, the safety elements of the project were a higher priority than adding a bike signal to reduce a short delay. The through movement on your bike is not particularly risky albeit a technically illegal movement. Building the infrastructure we want takes money. Consistency isn’t something you just get to declare, it takes time and resources.
As for a sign telling people to use the ped signal, I don’t know what that does to change the law.
Steve a Duin from the O had a nice related post on this awhile back that centered on the pedestrian experience: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/steve_duin/index.ssf/2014/03/steve_duin_jaywalking_with_sty.html
I am not sure if this helps, but perhaps it offers you some sense of the challenges faced in engineering. Sorry for the long winded response.
Thanks for your insight Peter. For the record there is already a sign at the Killingsworth and Williams intersection that says do not enter except bikes. It seems perfectly appropriate to add a sign that says “bikes use ped signal”. Also the traffic lights at that intersection have signs next to them that say right turn only or left turn only so technically the biker is defying those signs by not turning. Here is the google streetview for reference: http://goo.gl/maps/oCCvN
The current problem is that traffic engineering professionals are trapped in tiny little boxes. While some actual reasoning will reveal that in the top example, there are zero conflicts for a bike going straight during the LPI, and in fact its more dangerous not to…the BOOK says not to.
So the solution is to change the signal to allow biked to go during LPI.
To those stating they should add a bike signal head to do so…
Problem: Theyre insanely expensive for very little benefit.
Solution: A $20 “Bikes use ped signal” sign
Like this one
Because the SIGN says it’s ok, the traffic engineer is happy!
This situation comes up at SE 39th and Lincoln, and most cyclists cross when the crosswalk flips. I don’t see a single good reason to wait, and agree with the other posters who indicated from a throughput and safety perspective, it makes much more sense for bikes to cross with pedestrians.
Also at 20th and Burnside. ~80% of the cyclists I see at this intersection go on the walk signal (probably has to do with the demo that rides 20th). With such low compliance, I’m not sue what people who wait think they are accomplishing.
In order to cheaply get neighborhood greenways across busy streets, the City of Portland is increasingly relying on pedestrian treatments. Look at the 20s bikeway plan: rapid flash beacons, “crossbikes,” and signs showing bikes and peds side-by-side. They all encourage drivers to treat people on bikes like pedestrians.
As long as THAT’s going on, who really cares if it’s technically illegal to start pedaling when the walk signal kicks on? It’s a gray area the city is already exploiting. If the city wants to distinguish between vehicles and pedestrians, they need to be a lot more consistent with these treatments and expectations elsewhere.
This article never mentions what the danger is of crossing through the intersection at williams/killingsworth with the LPI. I do it because all the auto traffic is stopped and the bike lane doesn’t cross the pedestrian traffic on the crosswalk. It doesn’t seem dangerous at all.
It seems adding a bike signal to this intersection would allow bikes to do this legally and would not slow down any of the other modes. This idea also wasn’t mentioned in the article. Perhaps Koonce should require the traffic engineers to add bike signals to the intersections where the is no extra risk to bikes before approving new LPIs.
Can cars going South on Williams turn left in front of you (though I’m guessing they would still have a red when the “walk” signal comes up)?
Sorry I haven’t been through that intersection in a few years.
Cars can’t go left there. Right turn only.
There are two car lanes: Left turn only and right turn only. The bike lane which is in between the car lanes continues straight. Here is the google streetview: http://goo.gl/maps/oCCvN
we were talking about cars that are coming from the North (not the South).
People who blow red lights are bad enough but cyclists who make turns without signaling continuously for 100 feet are the absolute worst!
This kind of flagrant law-breaking makes them hate us and is the reason cycling has stagnated in portland! When people in a cars frown at me (very frightening) it’s the fault of all you law-breaking entitled scofflaws who do not signal your turns according to the *LAW*.
“A person is not in violation of the offense … because circumstances require that both hands be used to safely control or operate the bicycle.”
I almost always require both hands to safely operate my bicycle while braking for a turn… thus I rarely use my hand signals unless there is very little traffic around…
So I assume you signal every turn on low-traffic streets at least 100 feet in advance…
Why are you such an *** about this?
*Because it upsets me to see “people on bikes” call out (and occasionally rage at) “people on bikes” for not following law A while they themselves routinely violating law B.
*Because I believe that purging scofflaws (who makes us look bad while biking safely) from our roads would have virtually no impact on attitudes towards cycling.
“…*Because I believe that purging scofflaws (who makes us look bad while biking safely) from our roads would have virtually no impact on attitudes towards cycling.”
I find it makes a huge, positive impression on other road users in sight of me, when I ride by the rules of the road. Signaling for stops and turns, waiting for the stop lights, stopping for the stop signs, makes a world of difference. Having the information that a signal displays, other road users can have confidence in knowing what the person signaling is going to do. Otherwise, it’s uncertainty, and kind of a guessing game.
Since bikes don’t have turn signal lights that motor vehicles do, I sometimes even signal for when I’m proceeding straight ahead through an intersection, just so there’s no doubt on the part of other road users, about my direction of travel.
The people riding, that make up their own road use rules to serve themselves, do harm to efforts to expand biking infrastructure. Bike lanes, other bike infrastructure and projects, are far more expendable than are roads. Low confidence in the reliability of people biking, on the part of people driving, doesn’t strengthen support for bike use on the road, bike lanes, bike infrastructure in general.
Fortunately, just from my casual observation, it’s looking as though there are more people riding that are getting better at signaling, and other road use procedures and techniques that help their ride be safer, and show consideration for other road users.
“The people riding, that make up their own road use rules to serve themselves, do harm to efforts to expand biking infrastructure.”
You have no evidence to back this up. IMO, most of those who are opposed to increased spending on cycling infrastructure use these trivial issues as a scapegoat. If every cyclist in PDX slavishly obeyed traffic signals (something no pedestrians or drivers do) most of these critics would find something else to complain about.
Well golly, if you’ve got no evidence in black and white in front of you, you’re just not going to believe it, it seems. That’s fine. You’ve got ‘your opinion’ to strengthen your apparent intention to continue operating contrarily as a road user from a cynical, negative perspective.
Fortunately, it seems there are many road users, people walking, biking and driving, that don’t hold or subscribe to this kind of perspective you seem to be trying to perpetuate, and are more committed to working together to come up ideas for having the roads work better for everyone.
It makes sense for bicycles to use the LPI, it is just tricky as commenters have pointed out since bicycles are treated as vehicles in the code. Interestingly, Washington DC passed a ordinance allowing people on bicycles to use the LPI last year
This is one of my favorite things that has been done in DC. It’s minor, but it definitely helps, as it turns a lot of technically illegal but logical behavior and makes it legal.
OMG its called common sense. GO!
I GO when it is safe. It hurts no one’s feelings.
I get out of their way, they get out of mine.
We are all happy.
Maybe Mr. Koonce isn’t.
It’s a trick question! The walk signals doesn’t turn green, they turn white!! (What do I win?)
That particular intersection on Killingsworth has two lights that are designated left turn only or right turn only. In other parts of Portland (such as around the PSU area), signs are placed to tell bike riders to use the pedestrian signal presumably because there isn’t a designated light for them to follow. I thought the crosswalk on Killingsworth, where both lights are designated to only turning lanes, the default would be to follow the crosswalk signal. Is it okay to use crosswalk lights ONLY if a sign says to do so?
When driving a car I like it when the lights allow peds to go first – the ped comes clearly into view before I get to go. I also like the peds first signals when I’m walking because it’s much safer – to have left-turning vehicles crossing the path of pedestrians is very dangerous (I’d call it negligence on the part of traffic engineers.) – I’ve almost been hit many times – frequently because the left turner is trying to beat oncoming traffic and just doesn’t have time to see me (the ped).
When I’m riding on sidewalks I hit the ped crossing buttons and go on walk signal – it works.
Don’t need to waste money on bike signal lights or signs – just change the law to allow bikes to go on “walk” – doesn’t cost much to do that.
I think the safest situation is one in which everyone knows what the rules are and thus knows what to expect of others. Surprises are not safe situations in traffic. The clearest thing for me is to follow the same rules as the rest of vehicular traffic when in the roadway and to follow the same rules as a pedestrian when in the crosswalks.
This is why the crossing at MLK and Going is so confusing to people. There’s a sign with a ped and a bike. The bikes in the roadway have a stop sign and should wait for traffic to clear. Cars are supposed to stop for peds in the crosswalk, but not bikes in the road regardless what the signs may seem to suggest.
Half the bikes stop, half think cars should stop and keep going. Half the cars stop, the other lanes keep going. Nobody knows what to do and the signs and solid striping on the road just confuse people.
I personally think we need a tunnel.
It makes a ton of sense for people on bikes to use the LPI. Technical compliance would require riding in the crosswalk, and going walking speed “when approaching or entering” the crosswalk as Charley notes. ORS 814.410.
“…Technical compliance would require riding in the crosswalk, …” Scott Kocher
Technical compliance with 814.410 is based on use of the crosswalk, by people riding bikes, as part of their use of the sidewalk for riding. Bike traffic, at intersections, weaving back and forth from street, to crosswalk, and back to the street, isn’t generally good or safe road use technique.
This back and forth weaving presents additional movement other road users are obliged to watch out for. It’s not good either, for people on foot using the crosswalk. People on foot shouldn’t have to shoulder additional danger of crossing the street, from people on bikes diverting from the street, into the crosswalks at intersections, than back out again to save themselves time.
one of many examples of technical legality that is *lesss safe* than harmless technical illegality. oregon’s bike-specific traffic statutes are a laughable mess.
Instead of LPIs, I would prefer that Portland followed NYC’s model and outright banned right-turn-on-red for motor vehicles.
Any pedestrian crossing a busy intersection is well aware that pedestrian right-of-way is meaningless when exercising that right means stepping into the path of a speeding two-ton tank. Doubly so for “unmarked” intersections.
LPIs have nothing to do with right turns on red
“LPIs have nothing to do with right turns on red”
Except everything. When are pedestrians hit by drivers turning right on red? When the pedestrians are crossing and the driver’s light is red. Allowing right on red entices drivers into creeping up, staring left, then turning right without looking—right into an active crosswalk that has the “go” signal. Unless RTOR is banned at intersections with an LPI, the LPI does little to no good in defending pedestrians against turning drivers.
A driver may even notice that there are pedestrians waiting at the opposite corner (waiting to cross toward the driver), but not expect them to start crossing until the driver’s light is green. This gives the driver the sense that they have a “free” period of time to make a right on red while the crosswalk is empty—only with an LPI, the crosswalk will not be empty when the driver guns it to shoot into a gap in cross traffic.
I hope any intersection that has an LPI also has NO RIGHT TURN ON RED signage as well.
First rule of road use for people on foot, also referred to as pedestrians, is to not step out onto the road, crosswalk or otherwise, in front of oncoming vehicle traffic, until they’re certain vehicle traffic is stopping for them.
If people on foot do so, as is their responsibility, they can avoid collisions with someone driving, and not sufficiently watching for people walking. Prohibition of right turns on red offers no certainty that every person driving, or riding, will wait until the green light before turning.
People that as road users, ignore the law if they consider doing so to be to their personal benefit, is the situation vulnerable road users in particular, have to come to grips with if they want to avoid injury or worse.
“Koonce says in the case of NE Killingsworth and Williams, the city did the LPI because, “We had historically poor compliance by motor vehicle operators — right turns on red were becoming failure to yield to pedestrians.””
Why is this confusing? It reads walk and we are not pedestrians on bicycles. We are to obey all traffic laws as a car would. I often float into the crosswalk in that situation. But a red light is a red. Duhh!
My commuter bicycle does not look like a car, does not operate like a car, and does not protect me from collisions like a car. I ignore car-centric laws that have no impact on the safety or right of way of other road users when doing so increases my own personal safety.
I’ll probably still cross on the walk sign—mostly because of the way that intersection’s configured: There’s no conflict between pedestrians and bicycles, even if they cross at the same time. And because cars can never continue straight on Williams across Killingsworth.
But I won’t be the person who sighs or wheedles whoever doesn’t go on the walk sign (probably just 40 percent of people), now that there’s been an official ruling.
If we had real separated cycle tracks, then both the bike and pedestrian lights would be timed to go before the cars. We still have a long way to go…
“…as is their responsibility…” ?? According to whom? You’re making up your own rules.
The only time it is a pedestrian’s responsibility not to step out in front of moving traffic is when such traffic is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. Otherwise, the rule, i.e., law, is that a pedestrian must step into the street or they have no right-of-way, even at a crosswalk. Are you really also suggesting that pedestrians be responsible for predicting whether a driver stopped at a red light will commence driving into them while attempting to make a right on red at an intersection with an LPI?
Well, as much as you’d like it to be the “rule” that pedestrians be “certain” that motor traffic will (in the future) stop and remain stopped for them before they step into the road, you’ve hit the nail on the head here in noting that “certainty” is not possible.
So if one is a vulnerable road user, this is just a fact of life—motorists (and others) will nonchalantly jeopardize your life, nothing you can do about it but be hyper-defensive. You, as the VRU, must “come to grips” with the fact that motorists will break the law.
Ah, but if I am a motorist, do I not need to “come to grips” with the fact that I am charging around in a 2-ton missile, and that vulnerable road users might make mistakes, or—heaven forbid—break the law in my presence?
I sense a confusion between self-preservation and legal requirement. Yes, self-preservation is generally considered to be a good thing, but when you talk about “responsibility”, to whom are vulnerable road users being “responsible” when they follow your rules to go above and beyond legal responsibility, giving up their rights and right-of-way at every turn to cede ultimate dominance of public ways to motorists? Some would say that this notion of “responsibility” is inverted.
“…“…as is their responsibility…” ?? …” bic
Legally, as in ‘Due Care’, and personally, as in self preservation.
“…pedestrians be responsible for predicting whether a driver stopped at a red light will commence driving into them while attempting to make a right on red at an intersection with an LPI? …” bic
One hundred percent certainty likely can’t be relied on, though degree of certainty can be much improved if people preparing to cross the street at a crosswalk with the light, look to oncoming traffic and wait for it to stop fully, before proceeding out in front of it, on the crosswalk.
People on foot at the curb, seeking to cross the street at the crosswalk, don’t have to physically set foot on the street to indicate intention to cross the street. Simply extend an outstretched arm, umbrella, etc, as in hailing a cab.
This discussion though, is more concerned with some people on bikes primarily using the main lane and bike lanes for travel, and hoping to discover it’s legal to use the crosswalk to jump the road’s main lane and bike lane traffic light. If people were to do so with proper procedure, use of the crosswalk this way, could be legal for people riding, and possibly not represent an increase in danger to other road users, including their self. Done so, it wouldn’t necessarily be an imposition upon other road users. How the maneuver is actually taking form on the street, now, would be something to look at.
“One hundred percent certainty likely can’t be relied on, though degree of certainty can be much improved if people preparing to cross the street at a crosswalk with the light, look to oncoming traffic and wait for it to stop fully, before proceeding out in front of it, on the crosswalk.”
Well, I got hit that way, but we’re not talking about “oncoming” traffic in the case of an LPI, we’re talking about parallel traffic; pedestrians and motor vehicles all pointed the same way, pedestrians with a “WALK” signal, motorists with a red light. Said motorists can very well be stopped, then while looking to the left, deem it safe to make a right on red without looking to the right first. How is a pedestrian supposed to know what that driver’s intentions were? Go up and tap politely on the window, “Please, sir, may I cross here, or are you about to turn on the red?”
“Simply extend an outstretched arm, umbrella, etc, as in hailing a cab.”
I don’t think that’s in the law.
“…a pedestrian is crossing the roadway in a crosswalk when any part or extension of the pedestrian, including but not limited to any part of the pedestrians body, wheelchair, cane, crutch or bicycle, moves onto the roadway in a crosswalk with the intent to proceed.”
“…onto the roadway” is the key phrase. Otherwise, how does anyone know you aren’t hailing a cab? Or signaling a bus driver? Or waving to your friend on the other side of the street?
“…Otherwise, how does anyone know you aren’t hailing a cab? Or signaling a bus driver? Or waving to your friend on the other side of the street? …” bic
Procedure I use, is to stand at the curb (or edge of the road as it may be.), with my arm and hand extended straight across to the other side of the street. I guess I’m clarifying here, because this is now that I think of it, a bit different than the arm extended, forearm up at an angle signal that’s more like people use to hail cabs, the bus and so on.
While doing so, I’m looking through the windshield of the car driven by the person in the lane nearest me, watching to see if they return my gaze, and or respond by coming to a complete stop behind the crosswalk line.
I don’t begin crossing until their car is completely stopped, and I can see by the action of their head or eyes in my direction, that they aren’t going to start moving once I step in front of the vehicle. If I can see they’re looking left, I don’t step in front of the motor vehicle. This still isn’t one hundred percent certainty that someone won’t start moving while I’m in front of the vehicle, but it’s way better than stepping out in front of it before it’s stopped, etc.
Honestly bic, you’re quibbling about exact implication of ‘onto the roadway’ language of the law here, is a bit ridiculous. Big point of the law (and I haven’t presently got it open and in front of me, so this is from memory.), is to describe how someone on foot, wanting to cross the street, can safely indicate to road traffic, need and intention to cross.
The law isn’t trying to have people on foot do something, like step out in front of oncoming traffic they’re not quite certain will stop. Standing on the curb, extending arm and hand, umbrella, etc, pointing to the other side of the street, should satisfy the law just fine.
When I ride, I try my absolute best to be a good bicycle PR person – I’m almost a little crazy about it and it’s gotten me literally rear ended by other cyclists before (when I stop at a 4 way stop sign for a car that got there first to go and they bump into me from behind.)
I’m that earnest and possibly annoying cyclist you see signaling and stopping for everything. When other cyclists or drivers yell at me I smile and wave at them. I’m trying hard out there! Because we all need some better PR!
HOWEVER, in the past year, I’ve made a few specific exceptions for both my personal safety and also in the interest of letting the people behind me make a light.
There’s a bike light at NE 22nd and Glisan/Sandy for bike traffic heading south. When I’m heading north and someone across from me gets the bike light, I go too. Why? Because I’ve been riding this commute for years now and contention for the lane going straight onto 22nd is HAIRY and potentially maiming. I’ve had cars try to squeeze by me on the left side and nearly kill me and a cyclist in the opposite direction lane. This is a rule I used to NEVER break but now after a lot of bad experiences, I always break the law here. Better for me to break the law and get out of there with my limbs intact than to get into a no-win “race” with a car.
On my way home, I have two turns: one is right turn only and one is left turn only. I haul ass through those intersections and therefore cannot safely signal. But since I have to take the lane, I figure the cars behind me know where I’m going (the lane goes in only one direction) and they would rather I haul to let them make the light than to slow down to signal and make them miss the light.
“…There’s a bike light at NE 22nd and Glisan/Sandy for bike traffic heading south. When I’m heading north and someone across from me gets the bike light, I go too. Why? Because I’ve been riding this commute for years now and contention for the lane going straight onto 22nd is HAIRY and potentially maiming. I’ve had cars try to squeeze by me on the left side and nearly kill me and a cyclist in the opposite direction lane. …” Kathy
You mention the street has a bike light, so are you in the bike lane at this intersection? Could you reduce the danger by taking position in the main lane as you approach the intersection, proceeding through the intersection with that lane’s green light appears?
I’m not sure I’m understanding from your comment, why you’ve got to ‘haul it’ through a couple intersections on your home route. What’s the hurry? Go slower, signal. You’ve heard horns honk before. No big deal.
Good on you for holding to good bike in traffic procedure with signaling, stopping at stop signs, stop lights and so on. Especially with traffic present, this is important. Repelling efforts by other road users to intimidate: also important. Do what you know is correct. Don’t engage them unless absolutely necessary. If you’re stopping, clear, advance display of the ‘Stop’ hand signal, can be very effective.
study the intersection, bob. this is not a situation where you are going straight across at a right angle to the cross street and finding a wide, uncluttered right of way on the other side. she says she has to contend for space in the travel lane on the other side, and she is not kidding. if there is an advanced light for southbound bikes, there should be an advanced light for northbound. hardly anyone on a bike is going to be turning left from 22nd onto sandy, so there would be little conflict.
“If you’re stopping, clear, advance display of the ‘Stop’ hand signal, can be very effective.”
Kathy said: “….When I’m heading north and someone across from me gets the bike light, I go too. Why? Because I’ve been riding this commute for years now and contention for the lane going straight onto 22nd is HAIRY and potentially maiming…”
I would consider just riding onto the sidewalk at such a narrow street. Maybe slow down, go to the next intersection where you can get back on the street in a safe manner. Just a thought……OR is there a better place to cross Sandy? Look on Gobble Earth for a birds eye view.
When I encounter LPIs on my bike I get off my bike, walk across the intersection, and get back on my bike when finished crossing