(Photo: Clackamas County)
On Friday I picked up an incoming call on the BikePortland hotline and heard a very sad story.
Mary LaLiberte, an “almost 70-year-old” by her own description, called to share her experience on the Springwater Corridor path outside her home in rural Boring, Oregon. On November 30th, Mary was walking on the path when someone riding a bike zoomed up from behind her.
As the man approached came up from behind her, all she heard was “Left!,” so she moved to the left, only to step right in his path. “And he was going so fast he wasn’t able to stop in time.”
“He was going so fast when he collided with me,” she recalled, “that I actually flew up into the air and hit the pavement.” The man who hit her was riding “one of those very skinny-wheeled bikes” and was in “full racing regalia,” Mary said. She told her friends that she, “Got nuked by Lance Armstrong’s brother.”
Thankfully, the man stopped and rendered aid to Mary. She said it was cold outside so she was wearing many padded layers of clothes — which probably saved her from more serious injuries. Even so, Mary suffered a fractured pelvis, serious bruising, spent five days in the hospital, and now faces over a year of physical therapy. “I’m in pain,” she said, “I’m not a good age to be getting banged up.” She also faces major financial burdens due to medical bills and lost wages she’ll never recover. (She hired a lawyer to look into the case, but the man doesn’t have any type of insurance they could seek compensation from.)
As I listened to Mary’s story, I kept waiting for the bomb to drop. I was sure the conversation would end up in me being lectured about the bad behavior of “bicyclists” who ride with no regard for laws or safety, how the path should be closed to bicycling, how “you bicyclists” need to be licensed, and so on. But to my surprise, Mary was different.
There was no venting, no anger. Despite this turmoil she’s gone through, she didn’t call to complain or rant against bike riders. She even said the man who hit her “was a nice person” and she was grateful that he stopped and helped her get medical attention after it happened. “I have him to thank for getting me off the trail. He was probably getting to the end of a long ride and didn’t take caution… And I paid the price.”
Mary just wants everyone to know what happened. She also wants to make sure the incident is counted in official statistics. “This is something more people need to be aware of. There’s not enough signs on the trail that warn pedestrians of this danger.
The section of path where Mary was hit has only been paved for just over a year. Prior to December 2013 it was still gravel and dirt and only used by locals on foot and horseback. But now that it’s paved, it’s a popular cycling destination and connection to other routes in Clackamas County.
Mary’s attitude is a breath of fresh air; but it doesn’t lessen the lesson we should all take from this. Her story is a cautionary tale. Riding on shared paths in the presence of people walking demands extreme care, courtesy, and caution. Not only did one rider’s choice lead to a serious injury (that could have ended much worse if Mary wasn’t in such good physical condition), but now Mary and her friends aren’t likely to ever feel safe on that path.
“I’ll never set foot on that trail again,” she said, “And I’m advising the same to all my friends.”
Is there any sort of fund set up for Mary?
I’d gladly throw in a few bucks.
I have a “GoFundMe” set up on a brand-new gmail account that I will hand over to Mary or a trusted escrow agent. Jonathan, would you consider being that escrow agent for this transaction? Basically, I just send you the account logins (1 gmail, 1 gofundme) and you hand them over to Mary. Then we post the link.
I’m not posting the GFM link yet; no one should be giving money to an unknown GFM account that’s presently aimed at me.
No fund set up yet. I will call Mary and ask how she feels about this. I didn’t bring it up in our original conversation because I didn’t want to assume anything about their financial situation and she didn’t focus too much on it herself.
I will update the story if a fund is set up. (and thanks for taking initiative Alan).
Thanks, Jonathan. Fully understood on those sensitivities. Standing by.
Dear Freds: people are more important than Strava.
There’s no mention of Strava in this story so you get the A+ for assumption.
Why do so many people here including the editors make judgements with only one side of the story?
I agree, this could be the cyclist-on-pedestrian version of the Single Witness Suicidal Swerve, only with the swerver as the witness verifying the swerve.
Riding on a path like Springwater is tricky because it gets used so often and by so many different modes. I’ve ridden many like Springwater around the country and they all have the same issues. But one thing is consistent, people on bikes go a lot faster that the other users on a path. I’m one of them so I’m not pointing fingers. I equate it to us riding on streets, we would appreciate it if cars would watch out for us and use caution when approaching us. On a path we are the bigger, faster moving object and we should approach others with the same caution we like to be shown when we are on streets.
In this case, it is absolutely the fault of the person riding a bike. As you would want people driving to slow down and watch for you on a bike, so should you slow down while riding and watch out for people walking.
Agreed regarding fault, but from a safe systems point of view, a well used path like this also deserves an upgrade to two separate spaces. One for the human powered vehicles and one for the humans walking.
I used to live in a city that has a long section of bike and pedestrian paths separated by 5-10 feet of grass. The problem was that I never saw any pedestrians actually use the pedestrian path, they were always on the bike path.
Or it just takes people using the shared resource to be more diligent.
Stop blaming the environment.
Ah. Just like on the road, then?
And what about the runners and skateboarders?
I agree that the cyclist messed up, but I do not want cars to slow down to pass me on my bike. Stay at the posted speed limit, please.
I couldn’t disagree with you more.
Seriously? Please explain. I personally enjoy it and often say out-loud “I love you” to cars that slow down and give me adequate space on the road (sometimes if they just don’t veer into the bike lane on a notorious winding stretch).
“…On a path we are the bigger, faster moving object and we should approach others with the same caution we like to be shown when we are on streets.” MR
When riding MUP’s, with what cautionary procedure do you on a bike, as the bigger, faster moving object than people on foot, approach and pass people walking?
Your basic suggestion of regard for people using paths at slower rates of speed, is good, but your not offering any specifics, leaves the actual manner in which you approach and pass slower path users, very much open to interpretation.
Lack of clearly specified manner for passing on paths, may be a big part of the reason this collision occurred.
I said “behind you” when approaching people. They almost always move to the right, rather than saying ‘on your left” because like this woman, they often just hear left and move that way. I also slow down to be sure they do move before proceeding.
Your remarks suggest you’ve got a sense of what’s going on, and how to safely and considerately pass someone on a MUP. Same can in some situations, apply to passing someone riding on the road.
People passing that do announce their intention beforehand, often don’t do so clearly enough or loudly enough, or far enough in advance for the person ahead to hear and cooperate. Or, they pass at far too swift a pace, and too close. It’s good of you to slow down and wait before passing, after you’ve announced your intention, to be certain just what the person ahead is going to do in response to your announcement.
When I’m out, it helps me in being considerate towards other trail users, to remember that they’re most likely out there to have a good time too. People go walking and biking because the want to relax, get a break from the stress and worry of their working responsibilities. It should be no surprise to anyone that they don’t want someone whizzing up to them in a way that could cause a collision, sending someone to the ER.
I’d also be willing to help if there is a fund available.
Multi-use paths and shared paths are awful, awful facilities.
MUPs are not the problem. Jacka$$ users are. MUPs are viable recreation and transportation systems, but this instance is like some on driving 80mph in a 30 zone.
mups are most definitely a problem for pedestrians as this piece illustrates. and it’s not some rare jacka$$ that is the problem because, in my experience, near collisions with pedestrians on mups are all too common on mups in the portland area.
i hope that some day we can stop pretending that walking the springwater bike super highway is a pleasant or safe experience for pedestrians. seattle and vancouver have built separated infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists that is both safer and a joy to use. if they can do it, so can we.
strikethrough “on mups”
In my experience MUPs are often occupied by groups walking several abreast, people talking on phones or wearing headphones listening to music, and leashed dogs. Even with a 15 MPH speed limit this makes for a tricky mix. When I commuted here in Silicon Valley I joked that I learned to say “On your left!” in six different languages (and yes, a bell doesn’t always help, especially riding into a headwind).
This rider could have said “Left!”, “On your left!”, “Passing on your left!”, “Coming up on your left!”… we only know what she said she heard, and we also have no evidence of how fast he was going, only a (popular) assumption that he was going “too fast” because he collided with someone who stepped into his path. (I’m not blaming the victim here, just saying that BikePortland does not constitute judge and jury).
These problems are precisely the reason we continually remind our city and county staff that “Class I” shared-use paths are not “bike paths” nor are they they an ultimate solution, and that a mix of Class II and appropriately designed and marked Class III segments are also important (let alone dedicated bikeways which are merely a Utopian fantasy here). The biggest problem we see is that once a MUP is built it’s assumed that all bike riders will choose this route because it’s “safest” – therefore they will have no reason to use adjacent streets.
I hope Santa brings her a full and quick recovery.
walking abreast or biking abreast….because I have seen both.
I remember when there was NO Springwater pedestrian/bicycling corridor. If building it was up to recklessly aggressive idiot bikers, it wouldn’t have been built. There ought to be a LAW stating the rules regarding a safe speed for bicyclists passing pedestrians on these type of shared paths. The bicycler who caused the accident should’ve paid an expensive fine.
“I’d also be willing to help if there is a fund available.”
There will be – the cyclist’s settlement check.
It sounds like there’s no insurance for the rider from which to draw any money.
Which of course raises a red flag for all those favoring mandatory insurance for bicycle riders…
If he has a bank account, that’s from where money will be drawn.
Seriously. This is why you want to get an umbrella policy, people. He is going to be sued. This whole thing just sucks. A fractured pelvis can be a death sentence for someone at that age. Hopefully she makes a full recovery.
Hip replacement surgery can cost up to and over $125,000 these days. Just sayin’.
that seems excessive – maybe that is cash only. Mine were about 35k a piece……covered by insurance.
I agree that ours tend to be, but it’s possible to design shared space with width and signage that would make it much safer and better for everyone. We just don’t do it right.
I keep posting in my blog that sidewalks are not bicycle infrastructure, and the converse is equally true, bicycle infrastructure is not pedestrian infrastructure. The two modes are not compatible without serious compromise that disadvantages both modes, much like mixing bicycles with highway traffic. About the only difference between MUP and riding on the roads is that bicycles are extremely non-lethal, especially compared to motor vehicles. In NYC the ratio between pedestrian death from motor vehicles and bicycles is 250:1, I don’t have reliable statistics from other cities or countrywide but I’m pretty sure that is valid, or even more in favor of bicycles for the entire country.
While I agree it is a breath of fresh air she is not blaming “you cyclists”, it is about as disturbing when she says “I paid the price”. It almost sounds to me like she is blaming herself for this happening when she did nothing wrong.
Agreed and slightly amazed as how these stories has seemed to turn the word bicyclist into a negative name for those who bicycle yet there is no problem using motorist. Still consider myself a bicyclist as it describes the activity appropriately. A bicyclist is a bicyclist and the negative connotation seems to stem from the receiving parties preconcieved or biased view just as stating “you motorist” or “you bicyclist” is a generalization but obviously shouldn’t be assumed it literally means every single motorist or cyclist. Its unfortunate blame can be placed so quickly towards a pedestrian or motorist but is carefully tip-toed around in this story to not directly call the cyclist guilty. Unfortunately due incidents like this and others with people walking or biking then swerving left while they look over to see me approach (since there body follows there head) I have found it safer not announcing, in which gets some people butt hurt but hasnt caused any accidents so far. Hope the best to Mary’s recovery.
I have found whether trail running or riding on a path, that saying “coming up behind you” works much better than “on your left”. At least 50% of the people will move left as the woman did, when using the word ‘left’. I find that about 95% of the time with “coming up behind you” the person moves to the right.
I also agree with the Strava comment. The paths are for all users. Slow down and give people plenty of warning.
I agree. The first time I encountered a voice from behind say “Left!”, I interpreted that to be a command to go to the left. Having always just cycled transportationally, I had no knowledge of there being another world of racing types who have their own lingo and behaviour. I found out later that it was short for “I’m passing on your left”. It is a courtesy after all but if you’re not up on the abbreviation then you don’t know what to think.
I think that MUPs may be suitable in low volume areas but once the population rises, then it’s time to have a separate path for cycling than for walking. Ideally with some gap between them and obvious difference that would indicate, even without signs what each one is for. (And have signs too.)
When I do encounter someone slower than me centred (or zigzagging) in the middle of a path, I slow down, then ding my bell well before, and then ding it again if need be, then as a last resort say “I am passing on your left”, and then after passing I thank them nicely. It makes for better relations overall.
Also when I’m walking or cycling, I don’t centre myself in the path, I go to the side so that someone can pass me and none of this is even necessary in the first place.
I couldn’t agree more! Every time I hear someone advocating for the simple call of “on your left” I want to point out that a) not all pedestrians know what that means, nor should they need to; b) even if they know what it means, a surprising number of people are left-right confused, and may need a moment to think through what the alert means; and c) even if left and right are perfectly obvious to a pedestrian, the bicycle-rider shouting at us might not actually have given us enough time to shift over.
In my view as both a pedestrian and a bike-rider, the correct sequence, in descending order, should be: 1) Plan ahead and go around the pedestrian at a careful speed, without bothering them; 2) Bike bell; 3) Call out “behind you” AND slow down as appropriate; and a very distant 4) Risk startling and confusing someone on a MUP by calling out a direction at close quarters.
AND ANOTHER THING: not everyone who walks on MUPs (or anywhere else) has excellent hearing–or any hearing at all. Unimpaired hearing should not be a prerequisite for biking OR walking. Anywhere.
How about unimpaired vision? Should that be a pre-requisite?
For walking? Are you kidding?
Not kidding. Is the answer that obvious? Not to me.
Yes. there is an answer. people who are blind or have low vision absolutely have a right to use any public facility, including multi-use paths. That fact is also something that cyclists should be mindful of.
I doubt that the average cyclist who just clearly shouted “passing on your left, careful!” to a pedestrian ahead would be operating on the possibility that the pedestrian didn’t hear him at all because the pedestrian was deaf. Or that an oncoming pedestrian might suddenly cross in front of the bike because the pedestrian is blind.
Caesar, the OR legal requirement is that you must give an audible of some kind when passing. But there is also a legal requirement that you yield to pedestrians in shared spaces (sidewalk, MUP or otherwise). So, the assumption should be that the pedestrian might very well not hear you – because whether they do or not – you have to yield to them even if they don’t get out of the way.
John, I agree with you. My point, however, is that legal requirements and responsibilities don’t always ensure that the right thing gets done. I believe that many cyclists would never anticipate that the pedestrian about to be passed on a MUP is blind/deaf – it’s a rare enough occurrence in most people’s daily commute or pleasure ride. So they would (incorrectly) assume that they were heard/seen on the bike. It’s an imperfect world….
And more, I don’t think there’s any “right” to not have to slow down or even stop completely on a multi-use path. It’s situational awareness — if you’re gong fast enough (even if it’s only ten miles an hour) that you don’t have time to see and assess how someone responds to whatever you do or say to alert them to your presence, then you’re responsible for what happens next.
People even have the right to stop on a multi-use path, without telling anyone they’re doing it. It’s not a regulated thoroughfare, it’s a recreational amenity.
You can encounter people of any age, any ability, doing any number of things on a path and if you hit them with a bike it may not be your fault, they may not be doing the “right” thing or react in the correct way, but it very probably is your responsibility if you’re going faster than they are and coming up behind them.
“It’s not a regulated thoroughfare, it’s a recreational amenity.”
This is debatable on paths like the Springwater which are used (and promoted) as commuter routes though. Regarding Waterfront Park, yes what you wrote makes more sense.
Err, if you are actually serious, I would recommend starting your education by reading up on ADA:
II. Public Accommodations
* Public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers, may not discriminate on the basis of disability, effective January 26, 1992. Private clubs and religious organizations are exempt.
When did you get eyes in the back of your head?
Thanks for bringing up that point. I’m a hearing impaired (left only) cyclist, runner, walker and try my hardest to keep looking back, stay in my lane, etc. Mirrors don’t work so well for me. Being hearing impaired, I can tell you how often when I tell someone, they say “me too” or “yeah, my brother is too.” etc. So it’s very prevalent. And these are 40-somethings. Given that a tsunami of older adults is headed our way over the next few years, we would all do well to assume many many people cannot hear us coming up from behind, and take the extra precautions suggested in these posts.
“I want to point out that a) not all pedestrians know what that means, nor should they need to; b) even if they know what it means, a surprising number of people are left-right confused, and may need a moment to think through what the alert means; and c) even if left and right are perfectly obvious to a pedestrian, the bicycle-rider shouting at us might not actually have given us enough time to shift over.”
Yep. 15% of the population, by some estimates. As someone in that category, I would never shout ‘on your left’ at someone I was overtaking that I didn’t have the time to avoid if they misunderstood that announcement.
This is so true. Any raft guide who has ever called for a spin move — right back, left forward OR left back, right forward — knows it takes most folks more than a couple of seconds to remember which side of the raft they’re on.
Agreed. It’s why I prefer a bell over my voice most of the time too (not all bells are created equal however). I can ring the bell from much farther away and the sound will carry better – that gives the person a chance to turn and make a definitive choice as to how they’re going to make room and/or see that I’ve already established a line that will pass them safely without surprise.
I got a fever!
Definitely agree, but there’s also the assumption (built into the audible warning law) that the listener can actually hear.
Once I crested a hill (with a strong tailwind) on the Hood River Twin Tunnels trail to find the path fully saturated with a busload of Japanese tourists. All I could do was brake hard and be patient; I don’t think they understood “Comin’ by you on your left”, the phrase I tend to use. There are also signs on that trail – or used to be (in English only) – requesting that pedestrians walk on the left so that they face oncoming (bike/trike/skateboard/rollerblade) traffic for their own safety.
I’ve actually given up on calling out when passing most of the time. It is usually fairly startling to people, but I give a wide berth, ride defensively, and am almost always safely by them before they even notice me. I’ve just had too many close calls (while being much more cautious than the rider in this story) when I try to call out to someone walking (or even riding), and getting by them this way works most efficiently for both of us. On the flip side, when I’m running or walking on the paths/trails, I try to be extra vigilante about what’s going on around me (constantly looking behind me)(though I don’t expect everyone to do this).
Slowing down and giving wide berth is key though. Just be cautious.
Strava is not mentioned in this story.
no, but I think the allusion is that people need not be racing to beat a personal best. That’s what strava is for, right?
Right. But again…who mentioned racing? It seems people are assuming this cyclist was racing.
One thing I have learned from riding on MUPs over the years is that yelling “on your left” confuses a lot of pedestrians – they think they need to move left for some reason. It is usually safer to either ring a bell or just pass silently. If “on your left” is necessary (pedestrians taking up the entire trail, for example), the rider should slow way down and be prepared for unpredictable movements by the pedestrians.
“On your left” always freaks me out. I’m like her: all I hear is “left!” I usually don’t react outwardly at all, because it freezes my thought process and it doesn’t get unfrozen in the .75 seconds it takes before the guy zooms past me.
How about slowing down and hitting the bell in enough time for them to look back and react properly? And if they don’t react, slow way down and pass them carefully.
If you’re riding a bike on a shared path, you should never be riding fast enough that you wouldn’t have enough time to react if someone crossed your path. Although I usually try to avoid riding in Waterfront Park, when I do I ride slowly and ding my bell if there are people walking 3-4 abreast blocking the entire path.
I have trouble with “on your left!” also when I am a pedestrian or runner on a mup; I know what it means but I freeze in the moment. I generally stay to the right anyway, so I have been training myself to just stay still and avoid any sudden lateral movements when I hear bells or shouts from behind me.
In some ways I prefer when bicyclists just go ahead and pass when there is plenty of room, without any nerve-wracking bells or shouting. I know the intention to inform is good, though.
“In some ways I prefer when bicyclists just go ahead and pass when there is plenty of room, without any nerve-wracking bells or shouting. I know the intention to inform is good, though.”
I also dislike being “ding dinged” or shouted at when I walk.
This lesson can be broadened to all roadways. Sure we share MUP’s with other modes, but there are also diverse riders in bike lanes. Let’s apply the lessons learned from this story to busy bike routes, like, say, oh-I-don’t-know, Williams. We’re all going somewhere and some of us are faster and more comfortable than others. But let’s remind ourselves that slowing down for 30 seconds or less isn’t the end of the world.
The idea that this type of conflict is caused by a small minority of a-hole “freds” is pure denial. In my experience, it’s commonplace.
If you’re going to hammer @40 kph, DON’T BE A BIKE PATH ****deleted inappropriate word****, RIDE ON THE ROAD, DAMNIT!
Where did you get the 40kph?
Some riders seem to be lost in their own video game version of reality, blazing down the MUP while giving other users about the same regard as they would to a traffic cone.
The incident described sounds like reckless bicycling to me. He may have no insurance, but would not the victim have legal recourse for compensation?
When riding on a path I like to slow down and say hi or good morning and wait for a response (usually a smile) before passing. Bell ringing and “left” just feels a little rude. When I go out to hammer, I stay on the road.
I would like to encourage others to be more friendly while riding.
The Boring end of the Trail is somewhat wider than the Gresham section, but that’s no reason to treat it like a freeway. Walkers are generally few and far between, so it’s not going to delay a bicyclist significantly to approach and pass at a much reduced speed. If you have to sacrifice some speed and down-shifting, so be it.
This bicyclist was 100% at fault, and there should be some legal means to hold him responsible for any financial losses to the victim, not to mention her injuries.
“She hired a lawyer to look into the case, but the man doesn’t have any type of insurance they could seek compensation from.”
I’m no attorney, but even if you don’t carry any liability insurance ( renters or homeowners insurance policies typically include liability insurance ), you’re still legally accountable for people you injure aren’t you? I would assume that he’s responsible for her medical bills.
Yeah, but the old blood from a turnip thing probably applies. Yes, the cyclist should be held culpable, and even liable for costs, but if he ain’t got nothin’, he ain’t got nothin’ to lose.
He could sell his bike. On CraigsList. Probably it’s a nice carbon one with lots of pricey components.
someone with no insurance?
Since when is presence or absence of insurance coverage a prerequisite for selling one’s bike to pay a debt?
Do you have any idea how much hiring a lawyer can cost? Probably upwards of 10-100 times as much as this hypothetical carbon fiber bicycle.
Never said that sale of the bike would cover the whole cost of the injury or lawyers, etc. But it would be a nice gesture on his part. Would certainly pay for a few meals and utility bills, I’d bet. Jeez….
You’re assuming he has “a nice carbon bike”. I’m saying the fact that he has no insurance might indicate he’s not incredibly wealthy, and he might have not been riding a “nice carbon bike”.
All road riders are not rich.
So we are both making assumptions about incomplete information. Cool!
And if he’s got one of those “skinny tire bikes” and “full racing regalia” – it sounds like he’s got the income to take some responsibility (not necessarily, but probably).
So many assumptions on this site. “skinny tire bikes” can he had for less than $600, and to any non-cyclist lycra is going to be “full racing regalia” – you can get cheap kit from Performance for less than $100.
Thus the “not necessarily” statement.
in 2012 I got hit by a kid illegally driving a porche who was pretending to be a doctor. I still have issues because of that. Went to court, won. He went to jail. I have a lein with all the banks. I’m probably never going to see any of that money. You can’t squeeze water from a rock.
If you want to fred you should push a skateboard of run, Then your top speed is still safe for other trail users. I really hope this woman recovers well and gets back on the trail.
“I’ll never set foot on that trail again,” she said, “And I’m advising the same to all my friends.”
That, I believe is the “bomb” Jonathan was waiting for.
It’s sad that this accident happened, but it sounds like both people were at fault here. Sure, the cyclist could have been going slower, and could have used a better method of alerting the pedestrian of his presence. But a pedestrian has a responsibility to keep right while walking down a multi-use path. I’ve walked and run on the Springwater in various segments and I strictly keep to the right and assume a bicycle will be whizzing by me at any moment.
It’s not an accident, it was completely preventable. Remember on a MUP the pedestrian is the vulnerable user, give them the same consideration that you want drivers to give you while on the road.
“a pedestrian has a responsibility to keep right while walking down a multi-use path”
No they don’t. It’s a multi-use path; all modes get equal share.
Multi Use path guidelines are that people should stay to the right except to pass and be predictible, they also call for people to give an audible warning before passing. If she suddenly jumped left into his path and he gave an audible warning that he was passing her on the left then she is at least partly if not completly at fault. I expect cars not to hit me when I am riding in a bike lane, but if I suddenly swerve out of the bike lane into the path of a car as they are passing it is hard to imagine the driver being seen as responsible for the collision.
equal share yes. But it is a very unwritten rule that all users should stay on the right side.
In this case though, I think the cyclist is completely to blame (should have given a wider berth, and likely not said anything at all).
No. The person overtaking ultimately has full responsibility to make sure that the other trail user is aware of their presence and that the pass is executed safely. That’s reasonable trail etiquette. From Mary’s story and Jonathan’s reporting, it appears that cyclist failed in these two aspects. Therefore, he should bear the fault for this incident.
I”d be careful using the word “trail”. I think what you said is a little more prevalent and important on a single track-style, dirt trail, than a wide multi-use paved path or road.
It’s equally important however one interprets the meaning of that word.
I don’t know of any official protocol that mandates pedestrians on the right, bike riders on the left, except where marked in places like the Hawthorne Bridge. The assumption that “slower moving traffic” will “keep right” comes from highway use. I’m not sure it has any relevance to, say, wanderers in Waterfront Park who’d like to look at the river even though they’re technically heading south.
Do you know of a statute or rule that covers MUPs?
I fail to see the logic in keeping right as a pedestrian on a MUP.
Not sure about ORS but most public trails (and public use areas for that matter) have posted rules and regulations for the sole purpose of easing liability, and I’m guessing this trail has them posted too. As I mentioned previously, I’ve seen some signs recommending that pedestrians stay to the left so that they see oncoming traffic (like you’re advised to when walking on streets). When I bike on the trail in this photo I find it easier when pedestrians are on the left because they see me and we don’t have to play this audible game (it’s few and far between but there are frequent ‘corporate walkers’ who do). When I walk on this trail I stay to the left, even though the sign clearly says “keep right” for pedestrians, because frankly I don’t like being surprised by passing cyclists at any speed.
http://www.rhorii.com/STACT/IMG_3792.JPG (Yes, that’s the new Levi’s Stadium that forces the trail to be closed during events now so the 49’ers can sell beer in Great America’s parking lot, but I digress).
Studies show, and recommendations are often made (i.e. http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/program-tools/when-walking-road-do-you-walk-against-or-traffic), that it’s safer to walk to the left on streets without sidewalks. I’ve yet to see evidence that this logic shouldn’t apply to shared-use paths. Anne, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head in terms of the auto-centric school of thought on traffic flow. (You’ve got me curious – when I’m back in England I’ll have to keep an eye out for the way pedestrians behave on MUPs there… if I can find one).
“…a statute or rule that covers MUPs?” Anne Hawley
That would be statutes addressing use of sidewalks by people biking. In simple terms, if on an MUP, people walking are near to someone riding, the person or persons riding are obliged to reduce their speed to one allowing them to safely pass the people walking in a manner that doesn’t cause them to fear injury or worse.
An MUP’s fundamental guideline for use is defined by the fact that MUP’s are infrastructure that people use for walking. MUP’s really aren’t bike lanes that people riding bikes are free to ride as fast as they can pedal. Where someone on foot is using the MUP, it is a de facto sidewalk.
A normal walking speed is about three and a half mph. Most people that can ride a bike, can easily pedal to ten mph, which is almost three times walking speed. In close quarters, such as the Springwater’s width may oblige, depending on such things as whether there’s oncoming traffic on this two way MUP, ten mph will most likely be too fast to be passing someone on foot.
And of course, many people riding can pedal two to three times faster than ten mph, speeds that are much too fast to be passing someone on foot in close quarters on MUP’s or sidewalks.
No, you are only required to slow to a walking speed in the presence of motor vehicles, there is no such requirement when on any part of the Springwater Corridor except at street crossings. http://www.stc-law.com/bikemulti.html
“…No, you are only required to slow to a walking speed in the presence of motor vehicles, …” bjorn
Bjorn…relative to questions about legitimate speed allowed on MUP’s by people riding bikes in the presence of people walking on this type infrastructure, what you suggest, is irrational and illogical.
MUP’s aren’t roads. Rules that regulate use of sidewalks and MUP’s, are different from those regulating use of roads, for a number of reasons.
One fundamental reason, is that use of motor vehicles, except perhaps law enforcement and emergency vehicles, are not allowed use of sidewalks and MUP’s. Another fundamental reason, is that sidewalks and MUP’s, due to the modest width they tend to be designed with, relative to that of roads, are infrastructure that can’t support safe use of vehicles such as bicycles, at speeds such vehicles are capable of, in the presence of people on foot.
Third and most fundamentally important thing that distinguishes sidewalks and MUP’s from roads, is that this is infrastructure fundamentally designed for people to walk upon. People are allowed to ride bikes there as well, though though by nature of relevant safety of the widths to which this infrastructure is designed, people riding must conform their use of it in deference to the safety of people walking, when in the immediate presence of people walking upon sidewalks and MUP’s.
I disagree in part with the perspective on use of MUP’s bike lawyer Ray Thomas offers in his article for which you’ve provided a link to, but that’s all I have time to say on that for now. Thanks for providing the link.
“sidewalks and MUP’s from roads, is that this is infrastructure fundamentally designed for people to walk upon.”
Where did you get this idea?
You need to stop coupling sidewalks and MUPs together. They are very different and shouldn’t (and often don’t) have the same rules.
“…Third and most fundamentally important thing that distinguishes sidewalks and MUP’s from roads, is that this is infrastructure fundamentally designed for people to walk upon. …” wsbob
“…You need to stop coupling sidewalks and MUPs together. They are very different and shouldn’t (and often don’t) have the same rules.” davemess
Dave…you reason it out for yourself and come to whatever conclusion seems right to yourself. I’ve already detailed, in the comment you’ve responded to, why it seems to me that sidewalks, MUP’s, the manner in which they’re intended to be used, and the laws that support that use, are closely related.
Collisions like this one on the Springwater, happen in part because some people give no heed to the fact that the MUP they’re riding on is not a bike lane, expressly designed to be used almost exclusively for use with bikes. MUP’s basically, are sidewalks, not highways, roads, streets, cycle tracks or bike lanes.
Waterfront park and the Springwater in Boring are very different MUPs though. There is not quite as much to wander around looking at in Boring.
Blaming the victim.
This is news to me, can you (or anyone else) verify that peds are obligated to keep to the right on a trail? I have understood that the onus is on the bike to yield to the ped. These are not streets, and I hope people are not expected to “keep to the right”- that seems like a very uptight way to take a walk! I love riding fast, and I love the springwater, but that trail is for everyone, and creating rules like people must stay to the right while walking only facilitates fast cycling.
This is interesting. Kyle wrote that the pedestrian is obliged to stay on the right when walking on a MUP, but nowhere in the original piece does it say where she was on the path. It seems he just assumed that she wasn’t on the right (making her thus responsible for the “accident”), and while others disputed that she is at fault, no one has disputed his assertion that she wasn’t on the right. Based on the article, I think we have to say we don’t know where (right/left / center) she was on the path.
In the article is says that she moved left when he yelled “left”. That is what he is describing (that she should have just stayed to the right). Still the cyclists fault for saying the confusing “left” and not giving enough width to his pass.
“creating rules like people must stay to the right while walking only facilitates fast cycling.”
No it doesn’t. It creates some kind of structure that allows the busy path to be more safely used by all. Even in pedestrian only places (such as large sidewalks) there is still an unwritten rule that people will go a certain way (in the US it’s usually on the right), which increases efficiency.
Well used public facilities should have structure and guidelines. It’s really not to much to ask people to walk (or bike or skateboard or cross country ski/skate) in a specific direction on a specific side of the path.
I disagree, davemess. You claim this is an unwritten rule, implying it is an accepted convention, but I don’t buy it. Just because you think it is a good idea and would lead to more efficiency of travel does not make it a rule or desirable. IMO, expecting to behave according to traffic rules when out for a walk in a park (Esplanade, Springwater in Boring, wherever) really reduces the pleasurable and recreational aspects of being outside. Some things I like to do while walking: examining plants, looking for rocks, taking photographs, playing tag with my kid, etc. I also like to go out on long-ish, rec. rides where I try to go fast and have some fun/get exercise. However, that kind of riding on a path WHEN OTHER PEOPLE ARE PRESENT has a good chance of ruining their time in the park: it is selfish and wrong. I do not accept that park rules need to be established to facilitate fast riding.
The problem is the Springwater is not just a “park”. It’s on many levels almost a bike highway or a road. It’s not just a nature trail.
I agree that there is a need/desire for the Springwater to be a bike highway/high-speed, efficient commuting route. I also see the city being duplicitous by promoting it as a park and a bike route. Ultimately, I think we have an under-designed facility. In lieu of rebuilding to accommodate high-speed/efficient cycling, I maintain that the priority for the MUP is recreation and that cyclists must recognize that and proceed with a lot more caution.
“there is still an unwritten rule that people will go a certain way (in the US it’s usually on the right), which increases efficiency.”
Yes, but does it increase safety? Why would we tell people to walk on the left on streets without sidewalks, and then tell them to stay to the right on sidewalks (because they’re used to driving on the right)?
As I mentioned above, most public spaces have rules and regulations posted for liability purposes. Anyone use this trail regularly enough to look for these signs (and maybe post a picture)?
Yes bells and bike horns are more effective approach communication tools than verbal directions…but few* regional higher speed cyclists seem to install them (*though more are starting to do so).
This can also be compounded by winter wear/ hearing impairment (headphones etc.) and pedestrians difficulty in practicing walking counter flow to bike traffic. Thus the use of speed reduction when approaching a pedestrian that does not react to your approach signals (horn, bell, etc.).
Additionally, the minimum design of these regional SUP / MUP should be revisited as to how the different modal flow is communicated through good design and adding width at pinch points / decision points/ seating areas. This is especially important given the increase in bike traffic and these facilities regional transportation function.
In the Netherlands, bike paths in areas with pedestrians are usually at a lower grade than adjacent walking paths (as well as different paving). Everyone is familiar with the simple convention: stay on the safe elevated sidewalk, stay off the low and dangerous roadway. This is how ‘Multi’ Use Paths should be designed. Leverage what’s already in our brains – elevate the pedestrian side of the path and/or lower the bicycle side.
You are correct about the “urban” facilities … but in rural (and many suburban) areas of the Netherlands the facilities are generally shared as a single level surface unless it is a green park with a trail network for walking.
Everyone could use to work on etiquette on Multi-Use Paths to prevent future crashes. This one technically leaves the cyclist at fault– he was going too fast for conditions and hit the walker. Bicyclists and runners need to be prepared for walkers to be sauntering down the center of the path (or on their side) who must be passed very slowly. Saying on your left is a good idea, but I find ringing a bell confusing. It is amazing how many people move left when you say “coming up on your left”
Really, everyone needs to work on etiquette. Pass more slowly (and give warning and response time before passing) slower path users. Keep to one side of the path and hold a line if you are getting passed.
not always the fixed gear riders fault. Heal fast Mary, I ride lotta MUP’s and sometimes ppl with dogs off leash and just ppl not paying attention can be sketchy… so just have to go a safe speed, but it can happen even at 5mph :/
This story feels like a punch to my gut as a car-free older woman who bikes and walks everywhere. I’m appalled at what happened to this woman! I feel like I should apologize to her personally as a bike rider, and at the same time, I feel more scared than before as a pedestrian.
I realize that my reaction isn’t entirely rational, but I’m gonna say it anyway: after a lifetime of not feeling safe in the streets just because we were fair game for being young (and later young-ish) women, must we now fear bone-breaking collisions from own-the-road cyclists?
I was so relieved to get my gray hair and be freed from the former danger. I’m really, really angry today to be reminded of the latter. The damn danger of being a woman in public just never stops.
I don’t think being a woman had anything to do with this crash.
I think it (statistically speaking) had a great deal to do with the pelvic fracture, however. Post-menopausal women’s bones break more easily. Our danger from falls and accidents is greater than almost anyone else’s.
no reason to be scared just everyone needs to share and understand when you ride up on someone they can be spooked. has anyone rolled up on someone with ear plugs in? sounds like speed was a huge factor in this case.. * STRAVA HERO? *
Yet just last week the majority of BP.org commentators seemed to be arguing that biking with earbuds and listening to music was no big deal, safety-wise….
No one here is arguing that pedestrians shouldn’t be allowed to wear headphones. We are reminding each other that assuming that people can hear you shouldn’t be a cyclist’s primary safety plan.
Or in this case, only safety plan.
No mention of Strava in this story.
Strava is a metaphor for going too fast.
So just say “going too fast”, which is of course incredibly subjective in a place with no actual governance of speed.
too fast is not being able to avoid slamming into someone and breaking their hip!
And if he was three feet further to the left his speed would be completely irrelevant.
THIS JUST IN!!!: Public Rights of Way are NOT your private crit route.
THIS JUST IN…q’Tzal assumes the cyclist was racing!!!
Yeah, I made an assumption.
I made that assumption based on DIRECT VICTIM TESTIMONY.
There is no evidence that he was “racing” anyone other than himself.
If this occurred with a car running over anything else the ticket “TOO FAST FOR CONDITIONS” would undoubtedly be issued to the driver but heck this isn’t a motor vehicle situation so I guess there is a 0.000% chance of harm EVER coming from a bicycle rider going too fast to safely share a MUP.
Was this particular individual who hit Mary “racing”? Maybe, maybe not.
This is a shared use path, a MUP. Y`all can kvetch all ya want about how this NEEDS to be a separated use path BUT IT IS NOT NOW.
The simple evidence of this story is:
One user was unable to safely share a public right of way with another DIRECTLY due to their unsafe behavior (too fast for conditions).
People DO race their bikes here and everywhere whether they are racing against another person or trying to beat their own personal best time.
We as bicycle riders have the same responsibility to ensure the safety of other legal road/path users as we so vehemently insist that motor vehicle operators do.
To pretend otherwise is hypocritical and disgustingly self serving.
1. moving swiftly.
Not to speak of a strictly legal definition which very likely differs by every state if not every city.
If I was riding 8 MPH I might lift her into the air if I collided with her. It’s a subjective statement and not a fact. And if the cyclist wasn’t speeding, whatever that means, then the “One user…unable to safely share a public right of way with another” would have been the woman. The cyclist gave an audible signal. If I as a pedestrian dart into traffic and get hit by a motorist that’s my fault, not the motorist. I’m just saying that so many of the comments here are based on assumption or the woman’s perceptions. I’m sorry she was hit. I’m glad the cyclist didn’t crash and get hurt. It’s an unfortunate situation all around but the rush to judgement is really just too much
It is obvious “we as a community” need to have a serious discussion about what are the legal responsibilities of non-automotive users of shared use paths where high speed human powered vehicles intermingle with walkers, runners, joggers, dogs and even occasionally horses.
It seems as if some people commenting here have taken the attitude that if they are going fast enough everyone else needs to just get the F#$& outta their way.
This is EXACTLY the “might makes right” attitude that automobile drivers use to justify “accidentally” killing pedestrians and cyclists.
This is exactly the reasoning that I as a big truck driver AM NOT allowed to use to justify running over your impatient @$$ when you pull a “swoop-and-squat” (sudden lane merge in front of me followed by a hard brake) when I’m hauling 40 tons of truck at speed. I am simply left to anticipate and plan ahead for the ineptitude and impatience of automobile drivers with no legal recourse to slap a knot in their heads.
We as high speed users on a mixed use path bear the responsibility, morally and/or legally, as the most hazardous users to yield to other users NO MATTER HOW MUCH it inconveniences us.
End of story.
It doesn’t really matter how fast you are going, how you are traveling, what you are doing or where you are doing it.
In general, in society, if you are doing something that can harm or kill another person it is legally incumbent upon the do’er of the dangerous deed not to do it in such a way that it does injure or kill someone.
In the singular instance of this article Mary made the “mistake” of having poor hearing in public; she committed the crime of being old.
The bike rider made 2 mistakes:
() ASSUMING that his COMMAND would be interpreted as an unmistakable ORDER not to move left and followed explicitly
() that any walker is not legally within their right to change directions without asking his permission.
I park my car outside the supermarket. Fifteen minutes later I re-enter the car, start the ignition and, after checking all three mirrors and looking over both shoulders to make sure there are no people or cars or bikes behind me, I slowly reverse the car out of the parking stall, as per usual. A few seconds later I hear a scream and shouting. People rush over to my car and pull a toddler out from under my right rear tire. Nobody noticed the kid wander over from the family car three stalls down from mine, chasing his run-away ball. He’s badly hurt.
So, was I at fault? In what way was I operating my vehicle in a manner not suitable for the conditions around me? Should I have walked around the car once (like the airline pilots, visually inspecting their B757 jet before departure) before entering the car and engaging the transmission? Note – I was not parked in a pre-school parking lot, or a playground parking lot, where kids would be expected to congregate; this was outside a supermarket. Was this just a horrible, unfortunate accident?
BTW, this scenario is not something that happens just once or twice a year in this country; it happens more often than you think. But still, not that common either.
Yes, you’re at fault. It’s your car, you brought it there, you’re driving it. Children aren’t held responsible for their behavior, and parents cannot keep their eyes on kids 100% of the time.
Other people are anticipating this possibility and taking steps to make it less likely, which undercuts the “but how could I be expected …” rebuttal.
Commercial vehicles often take measures to avoid just this accident; in some instances trucks have people helping with rear visibility for backing up, and many new cars are equipped with obstacle sensors or backup cameras. Even when helpers are not used, often service truck drivers have a procedure where they deposit cones at the front and rear of their truck — part of the routine before moving the truck is to collect the cones, meaning that they must visit the rear of the vehicle and look around (not perfect, but mitigating). I’ve tried to teach my kids to learn to count the number of kids “around” before backing up, and to check that they can spot all the kids before putting the car into motion. Again not perfect, but obviously mitigating, obviously demonstrating awareness that this could happen.
And another alternative is to not drive a car to the grocery store, assuming you are not physically disabled.
no one disputes the cyclist struck a pedestrian he was overtaking from behind. clearly he left too little room for error. should have given wider berth and overtaken at a speed that allowed for correction. you do not need to “rush to judgment” to reach these results.
I think you bring up some valid points, and this quote made me think of a good analogy:
“We as bicycle riders have the same responsibility to ensure the safety of other legal road/path users as we so vehemently insist that motor vehicle operators do”
In many states the requirement for cars to pass bikes is a distance (often 3 feet), not a specific speed.
In this instance it is obvious that the distance was the major error. Sure the cyclist could have been going slower, but if he was 2-3 feet further to the left, his speed would be irrelevant. I’m not arguing he didn’t use poor judgement.
I do agree that there is at least some level of responsibility for their own safety for all who share a multi-use path. Pedestrians do have to recognize that cyclists also use the path (as do horse-riders and cyclists) though. Again they cyclist was clearly at fault here, but but pedestrians should be at least vaguely aware of their surroundings, and if they randomly change directions (without any indication) that is a a problem for all users. I understand that the women in this instance was scared by the rider (all the more reason in my book to not yell at a pedestrian when passing), but there needs to be some consistency and unspoken rules in place to have MUPs operate safely and optimally for all users.
“…pedestrians should be at least vaguely aware of their surroundings, and if they randomly change directions (without any indication) that is a a problem for all users. …” davemess
By her account of the collision, LaLiberte was aware of her surroundings, and that someone was approaching her from behind. The approaching rider called out to her. She heard him calling out, and attempted to accommodate his passing according to what she believed his words requested of her.
The collision likely occurred because the approaching rider did not do so in a manner that allowed him to adequately determine she had understood what he said to her.
Because of vagueness, with regards to what constitutes appropriate procedure for people riding and passing people on foot, when using MUP’s, I think the quality of experience this type of infrastructure is able to offer users, may be in danger of being diminished and dominated by excessive bike use.
Their width alone, is a fairly clear indication that MUP’s aren’t roads, and that bikes shouldn’t be ridden upon them as if the MUP’s were roads. Roads and streets tend to have main lane widths of at least ten foot, and often twelve foot wide, in each direction. Someone can measure the Springwater’s width and see how it compares.
Bikes and cars have a large variance in their width though. A bike doesn’t require a 10 foot lane.
If we were to build “roads” for bikes, they would likely look like MUPs.
Roads already are built for use with bikes. They’re the same roads and streets built for use with motor vehicles as well. People using the road with bikes, in many road and street situations, also have for their essentially exclusive use, bike lanes generally located to the side of the road and street.
Their relative distance from lanes of roads, and that their fundamental purpose is to provide infrastructure upon which people together can walk and bike, safely distanced from motor vehicles in use, distinguishes MUP’s from main lanes of the road and bike lanes.
Determining the width a given MUP should be, should consider what needs they need to serve. For a MUP, intended to provide area for people walking and people riding bikes, with one lane in each direction, it should maybe have a width of a width of ten feet for both lanes considered. Total MUP width of twenty feet, the same width as some roads. Still, that width wouldn’t make the MUP be a road in a conventional sense, because cars, trucks, motorcycles aren’t allowed use of MUP’s.
Even with such an MUP width, clearly understood guidelines about MUP use relative to mode of travel chosen, would have to be in effect, in addition to common sense.
I’m curious how may people interested in walking on an MUP, are favorable to the idea of people riding bikes passing them at speeds much faster than a normal walk, even with ten foot wide or wider lanes. The amount of bike traffic traveling at high speed relative to walking speed, would probably factor in to how many people would feel about this.
“I’m curious how may people interested in walking on an MUP, are favorable to the idea of people riding bikes passing them at speeds much faster than a normal walk, even with ten foot wide or wider lanes. ”
Interesting to me that you should here pause and dignify the pedestrians’ point of view vis-a-vis the faster mode (bicycling), when you scrupulously avoid this stance when the topic is bicycling vis-a-vis car (speeds).
This is precisely what El Biciclero was getting at here:
The single most important aspect to passing safely is having sufficient distance between people when passing. I have no qualms with cyclists riding quickly if they allow enough room for unexpected events. They don’t need to ring bells, shout out instructions or even necessarily slow down if there is enough room for them to react to unexpected movements.
Same goes when passing other cyclists, if you’re passing you take full responsibility and allow enough room for moving out of the way if the cyclist being passed has to move left. …ringing a bell or shouting on your left doesn’t mean you can then box people in.
Exactly. I’m not going to slow to 5mph every time I’m about to pass a pedestrian on a multi-use path. Especially on the Springwater at this particular location where the road-based alternative is dangerous for a cyclist. As a pedestrian on a multi-use path, and even on a sidewalk in the inner-city, I try to keep aware of my surroundings and to keep to one side so faster path/sidewalk users can pass me safely. That said, it’s conceivable that someone could get spooked and react by moving to the left, as is the case with this incident. It’s an unfortunate accident.
I don’t think bicyclists need to slow to 5mph for every pedestrian, but we certainly need to make sure that we’re passing safely and treating complex situations with the care they deserve.
That might mean there are times you need to slow to 5mph or even stop.
I’ve had riders coming at me head on, and they ditched it into the side of the road, fanno creek can be a huge effort but if you know the area and user type can avoid most of it. * someone did throw buncha staples in cook park and they don’t like riders too much in that area. 🙁 * share the path * is best 🙂
In a few overseas areas I’ve been, it seems like the passer (car, scooter, bike, motorized ox cart) was absolved as long as they blasted the horn long and loud. Not sure if it was codified into law, or actually helped. But I definitely agree a mup is not a raceway if anyone else is around.
It is amazing how everyone here has figured exactly what happened based on a second hand account of a cyclist hitting a pedestrian. The internet is great for allowing people to come to sweeping conclusions based on no verified facts. I would really like to hear the other side of the story before assigning all the blame. It sounds like a more vulnerable user was injured by a cyclist but without any outside witnesses or hearing the other side of the story it is hard to draw any conclusions beyond ride with care and caution around pedestrians.
You’re right. How do we know that the old lady wasn’t hiding in the bushes, and jumped out suddenly, in an attempt to scare Fred into crashing? But she didn’t anticipate how fast and confident he would actually be, and her prank backfired…
Lamest comment so far. At least TRY to be funny.
I can understand the point you’re trying to make, but you picked the wrong story to try and make your point. Mary was on foot, the cyclist was going too fast to avoid a collision. It’s about as cut and dry as it gets.
Yet if I wander out into the street without looking and get hit by a car it was because I was “jaywalking”.. hmm..
You’re conflating entering a roadway perpendicularly (where you’re not supposed to be) with operating on a pathway where you’re allowed to be – and I add: the latter is where your visibility is well established to the approaching vehicle (bike operator) as opposed to the exact opposite when it comes to jaywalking.
That’s a sentiment that most people on this forum disagree with. We are trying to change the narrative. Jaywalking should not be a crime, or a justification to hit someone, just as cyclists should give other trail users sufficient space when passing, and use caution. You can’t ask for more respect from car drivers and then give none to pedestrians when you are the one creating the dangerous situation on the MUP.
well, you should take some accountability for your own safety instead of assuming others will. That is why you look both ways before crossing the street……or DO you want to get hit by a car?
Is that the same reason why pedestrians should stay to the right on a MUP? To take some accountability for their own safety? Or are bicyclists supposed to take responsibility for pedestrians’ safety?
Like…wearing bright clothing or reflectors at night???
If you are a strong and fast rider, able and desiring to hammer at 25-35 mph, the place to go strong and fast is on the roads, with other things going 25-50 mph.
The MUP is a place for walking, running, and more sedate cycling. I mean, you can certainly ride fast on the MUP, but when passing people you must slow to a safe pace. Which means, slow enough that you can avoid a swerving pedestrian.
If you are not bold enough to ride on the road, then you are not as strong or fast as you think. Real racers train on the road.
Pretty much this. slow the hell down on a shared MUT. cyclist was an idiot with poor decision making skills. this has little to do with our infrastructure – even the best infrastructure doesn’t negate complete stupidity by those using it.
I think you missed an ‘a’ in your haste to cast judgement.
we all know thats a segment Jon.. strava worlds dude….
This story? No Strava.
again….Strava is for beating times. You get the point, don’t you?
Yeah I get the point. I love Strava. But stick to the facts: There is no mention of Strava or of the cyclist racing in this story.
Strava is not just for beating times. It’s a social network – lots of people use it to encourage their friends to keep running/riding (that’s why there’s a ‘Kudos’ feature). I’ve made a ton of friends on it and as a result learned a LOT of new routes. Not everyone on Strava is tearing through red lights and running down the elderly trying to beat their PRs and get K/QOMs. I also recommend https://www.plus3network.com.
We get the point, we just disagree with your generalization.
Don’t treat other bicycle riders and pedestrians in the same way that dangerous automobile drivers treat us.
Or more simplified:
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you have.”
I previously used “on your left”, but some heard “move left” and that made things worse. Now I’m using “bike on you left” and that seems to work out better.
Have had situations where a slow group on my side needs to be passed , BUT there are approaching groups/riders in the oncoming lane. Usually I gently hit the brakes and get slow until a safe opening happens. Too many times some Lance Wannabe will pass me, and the blocking group ..squeezing through the smallest hole imaginable.
Those idiot actions make us all look bad …IMHO
I would discourage anything with the word “left” in it. “Bike passing” or “bike behind” works great.
Verbal misunderstandings and hearing deterioration with age or headphones is why I gave up entirely on verbal warnings and went straight to the Hollywood Stereotype Bicycle Bell™.
While the single strike mechanism of the smaller brass bells is mote elegant and perhaps louder the multiple strike ringing of The Bike Bell is SO stereotypical sounding that most people don’t need to look or even THINK: they just KNOW that a bicycle is approaching.
Sure, I keep the air horn in reserve for the evolutionarily obtuse but try to only use it when there exists an actual hazard.
The real strategy is to actually ring the bell BEFORE you think you need to as a sort of pre-warning and again a few seconds before you pass closest. This allows a person’s subconscious to track where you are by sound alone. This optimally is done with at least 3 different ringings of your bell.
Waiting to the last second before blurting out a verbal warning, a bell ring or worst an air horn blast is a thoughless move that can only be interpreted as intentionally hostile or spectacularly ignorant.
Don’t be that *** BLEEP ***.
I went to one of Ray Thomas’s legal clinics where he told me he yells “Passing” to warn pedestrians. That makes so much more sense to me and it’s generally what I say.
In cyclocross (in women’s races, anyway), I hear “Hold your line,” which is far more helpful as a warning. Staying put is easy.
I’m in agreement with almost everyone above re: fault (bike yields to boots, always) and my sympathies are entirely with Mary.
But I find it interesting that the default conversation about public interactions like collisions is Let’s Talk About Personal Responsibility (which side should I walk on? How should I signal when overtaking? How fast is too fast on a MUP? etc.) and not Let’s Upgrade Our Shabby Public Infrastructure (why is Springwater so narrow? Could it be use-separated? What about separated cycleways on US-26? etc.)
“…and not Let’s Upgrade Our Shabby Public Infrastructure ”
We’ve become inured to ODOT’s and PBOT’s reflexive response: ‘You want some upgrade to your bike facility? Sorry, we’ve got no money…’
The ODOT / PBOT “reflexive response” actually has considerable validity. Since 1993, the construction cost index has risen 70 percent; Oregon’s gas tax has risen 25 percent; and the federal gas tax has risen 0%. Adjusted for inflation, ODOT and PBOT have only a little more than half of what they had 21 years ago. Add in all the recent “unfunded initiatives” such as replacing signs with larger lettering, protecting salmon by replacing culverts with fish-friendly bridges, installing more pedestrian curb ramps, etc. and there’s lots more competition for the available money.
Strictly speaking, you are correct – ODOT has less money today than they once did, but viewed from the perspective of someone interested in their willingness to dispense what funds they have equitably across the various modes, I think bikes lose – always. ODOT has no trouble indulging their beg, borrow, and steal proclivities when it comes to cars-only projects no one asked for (Eddyvilly Hwy, CRC, etc.); but when it comes to bike projects, including bike infrastructure along with upgrades in the works, or just plain performing those upgrades (Hwy 101 shoulders anyone?) to their own playbook’s standards, they can’t seem to remember, or get it right.
I disagree with your contention that many ODOT projects such as CRC & Pioneer-Eddyville are purely auto projects.
The CRC project would have replaced a totally deficient sidewalk that could sort of be used by bikes with a new modern facility. (I used the existing bridge multiple times every week for years on my bike.) In addition, it would have provided an extension of the MAX to Vancouver. Both would have made non-auto use really viable options for the Vancouver-Portland corridor.
The Eddyville project will replace the narrow or non-existent shoulder with one that can actually be used by cyclists.
I don’t view projects that make it easier and safer for motorists to be evil as long as the benefits for bicyclists and pedestrians are at least as beneficial. For both the CRC and Pioneer-Eddyville, I think those qualify. Just my opinion.
“Both would have made non-auto use really viable options for the Vancouver-Portland corridor.”
I would suggest that
(a) these were early (and easily/plausibly revoked) promises, and
(b) even if those promises had been delivered on, the overarching effect of the CRC would have been to more completely (fully?) cement auto-dom as our chief transportational priority, bankrupting us (any alternatives we may have hoped to build) for generations to come.
What method would you propose to ‘equitably’ distribute transportation funds? Mode split? Crash involvement? Risk?
FYI, 2003-2012: 63% of fatalities were auto users, 31% were pedestrians and 6% were cyclists. 93% of the injury crashes were auto users.
“What method would you propose to ‘equitably’ distribute transportation funds? Mode split? Crash involvement? Risk?”
Thanks for asking. The method I have proposed here before is to, going forward, allot zero funds to any transportation project that serves only fossil-fuelled modes. I would propose allotting the balance to human-powered modes.
And before anyone jumps on me, this approach is not because I’m a meanie, or want to take peoples’ cars away, but a pragmatic interpretation of where things are headed in the realm of climate and energy; what kinds of investments are going to turn out to be prudent and useful, and which will become stranded assets that will be of no use to anyone. We can
(a) wait for things to get much worse, and then try to scramble and find the means to redesign our infrastructure, or
(b) start the phaseout of the automobile now, and proceed in a somewhat orderly fashion, or
(c) pretend none of this concerns us, tell ourselves that we won’t be surprised by any discontinuities, that the future will be an extrapolation of the past.
To my chagrin, we seem to pretty consistently fall into the third camp, even here on bikeportland.
Automobiles will be with us for at least another 50-100 years, regardless of how they are fueled. I don’t see your proposal as pragmatic.
“Automobiles will be with us for at least another 50-100 years…”
So what in your view is going to tip the scales in 50-100 years? Or is that far enough out that we can comfortably not worry about it?
“Automobiles will be with us for at least another 50-100 years…”
I’m concerned that you don’t seem to be open to other possibilities, given that you work for PBOT.
Would you, paikiala, agree that we should at least allow for the possibility that things will turn out very differently between now and 2065? Who is the person at PBOT to have this conversation with?
Blaming the environment is the easy way to not take accountability.
I think everyone has already mentioned everything I was going to about this story. Just wanted to give three cheers to Mary. She is obviously from a more gentle generation than my own. Yes! this is not about blame, its just important we all ride like its our mom out there on the MUP.
During the months of more daylight I use a MUP as part of my commute. As mentioned by others, I real responsible to be respectful of the more vulnerable road users. I too have found, saying “coming up behind you” most folks move over to the right. I try to follow with “didn’t want to sneak up on you” or “good morning”. Generally I get the gift of a wave or a smile. Sharing isn’t so bad, eh?
Exactly. We moved to Johns Landing a few weeks ago, so I’ve been riding the Johns Landing portion of the Willamette Greenway Trail. Since reading this story and comments, I’ve found that if I say, ‘coming up behind you’ and then ‘Thank you’ as I pass, everything is better. If you have a chance, commenting on the weather, height of the river, or how pretty the other trail user’s dog is, makes it an even better experience for all.
Like several others have observed, I’ve often encountered pedestrians who look over their left shoulder and move left when I call out “passing on your left.” That sometimes leads me to think that it’s better to pass silently with as much room to spare as I possibly can.
Calling out “passing on your left” takes about 2 seconds. If you are traveling at a fairly modest speed of 12 mph, you will travel over 30 feet during that interval. If you plan to have completed your announcement 1 second before passing the pedestrian, you will need to begin your announcement 50 feet behind him/her. That’s enough distance you must shout to be heard.
I’m interested in others’ observations.
Bell. It’s a more audible frequency than a male voice like mine, and I find people instinctively move to the right when they hear it. I ring once or twice from far back, then again as I get closer. If I don’t see any acknowledgement of my bell-ringing, then I slow way down because I have no idea what the person is going to do.
Pre-cise-ly. Perfect. Exactly my M.O. and what I meant before, in a higher up comment, when I said assume the pedestrian hasn’t heard you … and now add “unless it’s obvious they did” (such as turning around, making a deliberate lane position, or something similar).
And then I like to thank them for moving.
I warn in advance with a bell. If I don’t see an obvious acknowledgement, such as turning around or moving aside, I slow way down and steer wide.
While we can all agree this episode is a bummer and raises awareness, up-right commuters are no more perfect as a whole by way of their mode and attire than spandex’d Freds. Further, the women who was hit estimates are only as good as her insistence the skinny tire riding nice man in full racing regalia was Lance Armstrong’s brother.
The rider, going we-don’t-know how fast or slow, yelled “left” to caution the woman to his skinny tires being to her left. Based on often-enough experiences, not everyone speaks in the same language and connoting along at even 10 mph on an outer-skirts MUP could easily result in confusion.
The moral of the story is not “don’t ride bikes with skinny tires”, but to ride with control and obvious grammar, assuming your “left” could scare the bejesus out of a kind 70-year-old lady. “Hold your line” could be misconstrued to the effect of the woman passing over her valuables.
Back in August I was riding the orange fixie on that path and perceived one adult, two children, three dogs off-leash, so I slowed way down, only to hear high speed bicycle noises overtaking.
I pulled far right and stopped completely.
One single, one tandem, two more singles, pace-lining in lovely green spandex kit.
Last single hit a pup-dog. Much yelping.
Next to last single brushed by my left, almost stopped, fell right with her front wheel overlapping the rear wheel of the–expensive–tandem, which also went down.
No major injuries. Even the pup was ok.
But the green pace-liners took out three of their own.
Well, look at this. David Hembrow posted about a month ago on the problems with shared use paths.
“She also wants to make sure the incident is counted in official statistics.” — smart woman. I wish more people would report all road incidents, so that we could have better informed policymakers and smarter spending on infrastructure.
To be reported one much file a “police report”.
It will still not likely be counted. The DMV is where crashes are counted. And the M means that a bike-ped crash is unlikely to even show up.
This makes me wish we had more physical separation of our bike/ped paths.
Vancouver BC is a great example of this. In Stanley Park, there is a wide path for cyclists, and a wide path for walkers and runners etc. And they are separated by a median of dirt and bushes and trees. It eliminates most of the conflicts, and everybody feels safer.
One of the principals of good traffic is to separate the speeds. Walking is normally at a lower speed than cycling. Cycling is normally at a lower speed than driving. We shouldn’t really mix them under normal conditions.
(There are of course exceptions.)
The right call out here is on your left. I have also heard just left and right.
“Expect the Unexpected”
“Share and Enjoy!”
No need to make a sound
Don’t be an ass
Ride on the grass
the law requires that you make a sound…
I’m surprised that a story like this hasn’t happened sooner, or more frequently. I love the Springwater, but every time I ride it there are freds blazing down the path pulling very inconsiderate and dangerous stunts.
I’d be interested in hearing what solutions exist for reducing maximum cyclist speed. At the very least, some signage reminding them to be considerate?
Well, to be fair, this “fred” was considerate in that he warned of his passing on the left. In a situation like a peloton I suppose that’s sufficient but in a situation like this it’s not.
Much like anything else, when an individual does something you can blame them but when it becomes common in an area then it’s time to look at the environment.
I don’t understand why there is this natural presumption that the cyclist is at fault or that we need to provide better auditory cues to pedestrians when passing them.
If instead of a path and cyclist you where talking about a road and a car I don’t think there would be any question that the driver would be held blameless. Imagine a car passing a jogger on Fairmont and honking at the jogger, the jogger instead of holding their line steps out and proceeds to be hit by the car. Is there really an argument that the car is at fault in that situation?
This also demonstrates that it is worse than pointless to call out or ring your bell before passing people, pedestrians or other cyclist. The vast majority of the time when I cal out to or ring my bell before passing a pedestrian, they react by stepping directly in to my path. Practically speaking it works much better to silently pass a pedestrian. They may be surprised or startled, but that is behind you. When passing people I make an assessment of whether the person is holding a line. Whether there are little kids involved or dogs, etc… and I come by them silently. Ultimately it seems safer for all. And for all those who want to draw an analogy between a pedestrian and a cyclist and a cyclist and a car, what obligation do cars owe to cyclist to warn them before passing and to pass so widely that even if the cyclist swerves widely out of their path their will be no collision?
I do agree that the ultimate solution is to not combine pedestrians and cyclist or cyclist and cars, but however lovely it would be we are not going to see a parallel Springwater trail built in our lifetime.
Everyone can be more careful and considerate.
Well, I’m not sure about the rules for MUPs, unless they are assumed to be the same as for sidewalks. On a sidewalk in Oregon, a bicyclist is legally required to give an audible signal prior to overtaking a pedestrian, and is required to yield to all pedestrians.
And according to this story she heard an audible signal.
Exactly. It sounded like Daniel Knighten was wondering why we presume auditory signals are necessary. I was just pointing out that the law appears to require it. I agree, however, that many “audible warnings” create more problems than they solve. In this case, Ms. LaLiberte either heard a partial warning or misunderstood a terse warning and interpreted it as “move left”. As much as some people hate bells, this is why I use one instead of trying to use words that get lost in the wind or misunderstood. Although [don’t tell anyone] if there is plenty of room and I’m going slow enough, sometimes I just pass without any more warning than my own huffing and puffing.
Additionally, verbal auditory signals [in English] may have less effect as our SUPs MUPs attract multiethnic groups of pedestrians. Horns and bells would be more universal.
Mary was not on a road and should not be required to concentrating on her safety- that is responsibility of the cyclist (hence the universal assigning of blame). Comparing an MUP to a road is a false equivalency; the road is intended for transportation, the MUP is intended for recreation
Yet there are places where Oregon law would require transportational bicyclists to use a MUP to transport themselves. So what does the State of Oregon really want us to think about MUPs? Recreation or Transportation?
I believe there was a bit of a controversy a few years ago over a municipality (Gresham??) wanting to close a section of the Springwater after dark, claiming it was a (recreational) park. I think the final ruling was that it had to stay open because it was an important transportation link.
To say that the Springwater is not intended for transportation (at least at some level) is also false though.
Good points, el biciclero and davemess. The springwater is an important piece of the bicycle transportation network. It is also an important recreational facility. IMO, when people not on bikes on the MUP are present, the recreational aspect of the facility has priority because they are the more vulnerable users and the cyclist is required to slow, give warning, and take every precaution to not frighten or harm. Inconvenient? hell yes! The facility is simply underbuilt.
I think Multi-Use, in many cases, is also Multi-Purpose. MUPs are a gray area that, like the “bicycle problem”, many policy-makers just don’t want to take the time and care to think about. Bigger fish with more money need frying.
I would also argue that everyone has some level (if not at least minimal) of responsibility for their own safety in shared facilities. I agree that the cyclist was likely at majority fault in this situation (with the incomplete, little info we have to go on), but it is definitely beneficial for ALL users on the path to be away of other users (both ahead and behind). The occasional glance over your shoulder takes only a second and is quite helpful.
“Mary was not on a road and should not be required to concentrating on her safety”
she is required to take due care for her safety…
she could have just as easily abruptly turned into the path of a runner coming up behind her…
what if it was a runner and a walker?
you need to exercise due care out in public… if you make a sudden move you are likely to run into somebody…
in this case the cyclist gave the required audible warning…
who hears a strange voice behind them and obeys it without even thinking about it? unless it’s an armed robber threatening your life, you don’t…
do we need to slow down to only 1 mph when passing people in a shared use area? possibly… but that would clog the Hawthorne bridge during commute…
I know that if I made a sudden change of movement in a public space without any kind of warning that I would be completely at fault for not using due care to ensure that my path was clear…
Greetings from South Louisiana. I enjoy reading the posts here on Bike Portland’s website from time to time, and this article caught my attention. In terms of Bicycle Friendliness, Baton Rouge is a world away from Portland. We have probably less than 10 miles of actual paved, multi-use, trails in the entire city, so the concept of having separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians is “strange”. It’s hard enough to get support and funding for basic sidewalks. Still, I can’t recall a single serious collision between a cyclist and a walker/jogger (I’m sure they probably happen, though). We have our share of “Freds” riding around, but I think most of us cyclists tend to ride very defensively. We have to. Just as I’m constantly on the lookout for erratic drivers, so too am I cautious when approaching walkers or slower riders from behind. As we hope drivers will “Share the Road”, we also have to be willing to share the path. If municipalities are forced to start choosing between pedestrians and cyclists on limited trail space, we know who will end up back on the road.
Really charmed by all the hate for spandex and Strava and roadies. Isn’t it fun to reduce people to stereotypes and lavish them with hatred and scorn? What a joy it is to wallow in one’s own self-righteousness while dehumanizing and mocking a group of people who don’t cycle the right way, your way.
This guy made a stupid mistake and was possibly riding thoughtlessly and/or carelessly, there’s little question of that. But can we maybe leave the judgement of folks on the basis of their transportation and recreational choices in the comments section of an O-Live article, where it belongs?
I ride the Springwater almost every day. I can attest that the lycra crowd IN GENERAL show less consideration for trail users than any other group.
Quit the generalizations. You see what you want to see. Sorry if you are slow.
The plural of anecdote is not data. But thanks for proving my point.
Par for the course around here.
The comments from this article have been very helpful. I now can tell what type of person someone is based entirely by what they look like and what they ride.
Lycra – bad person
Skinny tires (I’m guessing 25c and smaller) – bad person
Lycra and Skinny tires – if they are not guilty of something now they soon will be. Probably should be arrested now to save time in the long run.
Anyone riding faster than I do or I think is safe – bad
Maybe we should have anyone that fits any of those descriptions wear a yellow star on their shirt so that we know they are bad and dangerous.
Before anyone gets too bent out of shape please look up the meaning of satire or read some Jonathan Swift before taking my comments too seriously.
Hmm, 25c? Sounds to me like you’re one of those self-serving cyclocross riders looking for a pass with your 27s or even 32s. Nice try. We know there’s lycra under all that mud.