Left-hook on N Williams leaves one man injured

Posted by on January 30th, 2015 at 9:00 am

Photo from the scene. The man in the red jersey (seated) is the one who was injured. The tow-truck driver is wearing suspenders bib overalls.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

Last night on N Williams Avenue, a man was injured when he was involved in a left-hook collision with another road user. The incident happened around 5:30 at the intersection with Tillamook. I happened to be riding by and was able to stop and talk to one of the riders who saw the collision.

According to the witness, who was nearly involved in the collision himself, the injured man was riding his bicycle northbound on Williams (a one-way street with a left-side bike lane). The witness was riding alongside the man and one other rider. The witness told me they were riding “at a high speed but with front and rear blinking lights.” As they came up to the Tillamook intersection he saw a large tow-truck (owned by Sergeants Towing, which is located just a few blocks away on Vancouver) stopped with its blinker on, waiting to turn left. He and the other riders continued through the intersection and the tow-truck turned left, striking the man who was riding at the front.

According to the witness, another man in an adjacent building saw the collision and said it was clearly the bike riders’ fault. Here’s a tweet from Kevin Veaudry Casaus, who was right behind the collision:

The man who came in contact with the tow-truck appeared to suffer just minor injuries (although adrenaline has a way of masking more severe injuries). He was talking with the tow truck driver and the police about what happened. At one point, the tow-truck driver said, “I’m sorry man, I’m glad you’re not seriously hurt.”

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The potential for left-hook collisions on Williams have been a major concern ever since a project completed last fall moved the bike lane to the left side.

This is the second collision we’ve heard about since the changes were implemented. Back in December a woman on a bike was involved in a collision with a driver as she attempted to cross over Williams (at New Seasons Market) and go right onto Fremont.

(For what it’s worth, I was nearly the victim of a left-hook myself a month or so ago. It happened further up Williams around Skidmore. A woman driving a large truck turned left right next to me and I had to yell and scream to let her know I was there. Luckily I was riding slowly and very alertly so I avoided a collision. She was very angry with me and said she never saw me.)

We’ve requested more information from the Portland Police Bureau but have yet to hear back.

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144 Comments
  • Avatar
    Alex January 30, 2015 at 9:05 am

    I almost got hit left-hooked twice on that street last night. Once when a driver wasn’t paying attention turning into the New Season’s parking lot and the second time when a car was merging across the bike lane into a left-hand turn lane.

    Worst re-design ever.

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    shuppatsu January 30, 2015 at 9:18 am

    The redesign has increased my stress levels on that portion of my commute, but I’m getting used to it, and my (very subjective) sense is that drivers are, too. Accidents happen; I’m glad this one didn’t appear to result in any substantial injury.

    I’m sure the change has made accidents more likely to happen. For me it’s an open question as to whether it will remain so after an acclimatization period.

    FWIW, I had a collision right on Williams right before the redesign, when a car pulled out in front of me and stopped. Accidents happen. That doesn’t mean we shrug our shoulders, but it means we have to wait until we have more data to conclude that the redesign is more dangerous than what we had before.

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      Alex January 30, 2015 at 9:27 am

      What, in your opinion, would be the appropriate acclimation period? How would this be determined?

      I have not felt more safe on this road and I really believe that left hand bike lanes do not make sense pretty much anywhere. In my opinion, it shouldn’t take too much time to acclimate to changes that solve or reduce the problems trying to be addressed.

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        shuppatsu January 30, 2015 at 10:25 am

        I’m not sure. I’d like to see accident rates before and after, and see if there’s evidence of them settling down.

        My point is that anecdotes and our own feelings of danger only get us so far. Accidents happened before, and accidents will happen after. Something new gets a lot of attention, so post-redesign accidents will get a lot more attention. This *may* mislead us into thinking there is a bigger problem than it is. I’m not sure. I need more data to have an opinion.

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          Bill Walters January 30, 2015 at 10:47 am

          Pleeeease stop saying “accidents.” Collisions resulting from inattentiveness and ignorance are predictable outcomes, not unforseeable accidents. (Remember: By definition, you _are_ visible. There is no such thing as an invisibility cloak.)

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            Shuppatsu January 30, 2015 at 2:13 pm

            I will continue to use the word most commonly used to describe what I’m referring to, seeing as it fits the standard definition to a tee. Of course accidents can result from negligence, and of course they can be foreseeable. If I cut my hand while slicing an onion with a buzz on, that’s both negligent and foreseeable, but it’s still an accident. Unless I meant to do it, or was cutting recklessly.

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              nuovorecord January 30, 2015 at 3:06 pm

              Something that’s a logical outcome of one’s actions or inaction isn’t really an accident. That’s why transportation professionals use the word “crash” instead.

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                shuppatsu January 30, 2015 at 10:35 pm

                And that’s why there are no accidental babies.

                Look, are we really having an argument over what is meant by the word “accident?” Here’s the first definition from Random House: “an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap: “automobile accidents.”

                So in this definition, the very type of event I’m referring to is Exhibit 1A.

                Look, I get the idea that the language we use frames the debate, but let’s not get carried away. The driver was careless in a way that drivers and cyclists frequently are, at least some of the time. There was absolutely no intention to hit the cyclist. There is no indication of recklessness. Just your common, average, everyday negligence that we see all the time, and sometimes commit ourselves.

                I don’t know why transportation professionals use the term “collision,” but a likely possibility is so that they don’t have to sort out merely negligent collisions from collisions caused by recklessness or malice. I grant that not all collisions are accidents; only the accidental ones.

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                Spiffy February 2, 2015 at 8:39 am

                people stopped using the term “accident” in the 80’s when MADD made it clear that crashing into people while drunk is not an accident, but rather the result of your intentional negligence…

                it’s not an accident when you forget to check for traffic in the next lane over before you turn… it’s negligence…

                don’t let commonly accepted archaic terminology prevent you from speaking properly of current events…

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                Bill Walters February 2, 2015 at 9:50 am

                Big of you to grant that not all collisions are accidents, Shupp. So, since you surely don’t have sufficient info to determine whether collisions are authentically accidental, intentional or the predictable result of negligence, why do you choose language that inherently draws a conclusion?

                In doing so, you buy into a long-practiced mass scapegoating that undermines everyone’s safety and you lag behind even our ponderous federal government — about 18 years behind, at the moment: http://web.archive.org/web/20040409081644/http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/nhtsa/announce/NhtsaNow/Archive/1997/v3.11/

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                shuppatsu February 4, 2015 at 3:12 pm

                Ooh, someone is *wrong* on the internet!

                (Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy these conversations.)

                Sorry, I’m not convinced. It just doesn’t jibe with my understanding of the word. If I were to adopt this usage, I could no longer say, “I accidentally left my keys in my other pants,” or “the pregnancy was accidental,” or use the word to describe any of a number of unintended but foreseeable consequences that could have been prevented with due care.

                As I stated above, words help define thought, and if you have an agenda you can choose your words accordingly. And we all have agendas. If there’s some connotation of blamelessness in the word that you find irksome, feel free to excise it from your vocabulary. The same goes for the government. But my agenda is my own. And my use the word as it is commonly applied, today, is not archaic. If it runs afoul of politically correct Newspeak conventions, so much the better.

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          Alex January 30, 2015 at 11:17 am

          My own feelings are based on the rate of me almost being hit before and after the redesign.

          That being said, I know your point and I would love to see the data even though it wouldn’t include all the near-misses and the general overall feeling of how safe one feels on the road.

          My suggestion of changing Vancouver/Williams to have one bike/ped only and the other a 2-way for cars still stands as a better solution than this mess.

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            Brad January 31, 2015 at 4:49 pm

            That change would be awesome!

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        Pete January 30, 2015 at 11:26 am

        Left-hand bike lanes are definitely more challenging for people to wrap their heads around, whether in car or on bike. We engaged Alta and redesigned a bike thoroughfare here in Santa Clara a few years ago. After many public hearings and BPAC sessions the left-hand design was agreed upon and implemented, but the difference from N Williams is there are stop signs (and bike boxes – thanks Portland). We’ve had varying opinions on it now that it’s built, but it did decrease collisions during a period of increased ridership (again – quite different road than N Williams). It definitely took a period of time of acceptance from both bikers and drivers to stop complaining about it (maybe 4 months if I were to remember correctly). At this point the only complaint we hear is about one left-turn signal that still doesn’t detect bikes (years later).

        Frankly I still find it strange to ride on, though I don’t ride on it much because I prefer the nearby (higher speed) expressway shoulder. I’m VERY used to cars passing me on the left, and I also time traffic gaps with a mirror before turning to double-check and then signalling to take lanes at intersections (here in CA x-way right turns are buffered yields; see my rants elsewhere on that effect on ped safety). I cannot see overtaking cars on my right side on the (left-lane) road because I just don’t have a mirror on both sides. It’s a weird, uneasy feeling when they do.

        Not being a N Williams rider (but knowing the road as an occasional driver on it, and not since the redesign yet), I would guess that left-turning drivers have a greater challenge (to time and cross oncoming traffic) than right-turning drivers. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that left-turning drivers ‘cheat’ the bike lane there too. It’s not an excuse, but I suspect this driver was entirely focused on oncoming cars. When you’re turning right you’re generally only concerned with checking for cyclists/pedestrians (or supposed to be anyway ;).

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          paikiala January 30, 2015 at 11:35 am

          It’s not a left side bike lane.

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            Pete January 30, 2015 at 12:33 pm

            ?

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            Alex January 30, 2015 at 1:44 pm

            It is for quite a bit of the way. It is a shared lane for about 3-4 blocks and a left side bike lane for 10ish blocks.

            Where the accident occurred was a left hand bike lane, but the shared lanes are a cluster, too.

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        Beth Hamon January 30, 2015 at 11:56 am

        I will feel acclimated when I can see a clear reduction in the number of times I am almost left-hooked (say, from nearly once a week down to perhaps once every several months). Right now N. Williams continues to be a cluster, especially after dark; and I’m not yet convinced our tax dollars were well-spent on this re-design.
        Remember that a road is of no use if road-users don’t feel safe there.
        Until things improve I’m taking Rodney after dark.

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      adam January 30, 2015 at 9:14 pm

      New design is horrible. It changes every single block, going from cycle track to wide bike lane to narrow bikelane to bike lane with auto parking to bike lane with no auto parking to bike lane against curb to bike lane in the muddle of the road.

      I think the operative word is “clusterf**k”.

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        was carless February 3, 2015 at 9:32 pm

        It would be nice to have a higher degree of consistency with Portland street lane configurations. Many streets and blocks were originally platted so that they do not even line up, and the lack of continuous striping through intersections makes it more difficult to drive within your own lane throughout the city.

        Irregular bike lane configurations and widths on a block-by-block basis also seems almost nonsensical and like PBOT and the city are just toying and experimenting with cyclists, not treating them like they are a piece of regular traffic.

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    invisiblebikes January 30, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Something needs to change, not just on Williams but all the bike lanes (right hook or left hook prone)
    I work on Williams and sometimes drive it to take a left and go down Vancouver so I can get on 5 south… its pretty hard as it is to take a left across that big (beautiful) bike lane and at night when there is lots of bike traffic it is almost impossible!

    In California all the bike lanes have a 100 ft break in the bike lane from solid white (lane separation) to dotted white… when a car is going to make a right turn it is supposed to merge over towards the curb into the bike lane [if its safe] within 100 ft of the intersection, essentially “taking the lane” to prevent crossing a traffic lane (the bike lane) which is very dangerous!

    Why is that not the case in Oregon? I’d like to see what the Right Hook data is in California (and other states with that traffic rule) compared to Oregon… I would bet there are less respectively in California compared to Oregon.

    As a driver I think it would be much safer to merge across the left bike lane at a matched speed of the bike traffic (when there is room, and safely/courteously) and then take a left. Essentially giving the bike traffic time to react and share the road appropriately.

    Note: I don’t need to hear anyone bashing me for making a point of sharing the road with motorists… I fully subscribe to a low car lifestyle, but sometimes I must drive for work.

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      Kyle January 30, 2015 at 9:49 am

      I agree that something needs to change. That something is that drivers need to be paying more attention while they’re behind the wheel. I’ve witnessed right-hooks on E Burnside between Grand and Sandy numerous times, and I usually see or experience at least one near miss every day riding home. Streets can be redesigned, but it won’t fix drivers’ widespread problems of inattention and ignorance (of laws).

      On the subject of California, I was right-hooked in the South Bay Area several years ago in a bike lane with exactly the type of dashed markings you’ve noted. The markings had little effect because the driver erroneously assumed (with prejudice) that bikes were required to get out of the way of drivers. The driver, whom was yelling and screaming at me while I called 911 while blood dripped from my arms and legs, was delusional enough to contest his ticket in court after a witness, police, and his insurance company found him 100% at fault. He lost.

      Drivers are the problem here.

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        lyle w. January 30, 2015 at 10:11 am

        My own anecdotal experience– when wading into the fetid waters of online forums such as O-live and Katu– is that people just flat-out do not know the legal way to proceed in bike lanes as car drivers, and in turn will not hesitate to harass you on the street, or victim-blame people who are hit, or do what the person who hit you did. The truth is a subjective measure for a lot of people.

        And even then, going down through the psychology of this whole debate, most people can get to the point where they realize they’re wrong on the facts, but still have that much deeper-brained belief that goes something like, ‘Okay, maybe you’re not supposed to cut someone off in a bike lane, but you’re on a bike, and you’re on my ROADS.’ That’s really what drives most of this, it’s just that people just can’t get in touch with what’s really driving their hatred, so they get caught up in flopping around in flimsy legal BS

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        Karl Dickman January 30, 2015 at 10:11 am

        I think it depends on what message a driver takes from the law. If the message they take is “be extra careful before turning across a bike lane,” then great. If the message they take is “bikes need to wait for me to merge into the bike lane so that I can turn,” not so great, as Kyle describes. I agree that comparative data on right hook risk would help.

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          jd February 1, 2015 at 2:39 am

          The law is clear that cars should treat a bike lane as a lane and not go through it if it is occupied. Cyclists should still be defensive because many drivers don’t know to look for bikes, but drivers should learn to look for bikes.

          I don’t want anyone to come away from this with a sense that the law is unclear. There is no way the cyclist was in the wrong here.

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            was carless February 3, 2015 at 9:37 pm

            Problem: you have to actually teach people what the law means. Since getting a license does not mean that you necessarily know the law… and past generations never even had bikes mentioned in the driver’s manual, there is a massive amount of ignorance out there.

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        invisiblebikes January 30, 2015 at 10:14 am

        I don’t disagree with you one bit that drivers are the problem, and on that note I think instead of auto industry, government and insurance agencies focusing on making cars safer, they (and the public in general) should focus on making Drivers Safer!

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          Kyle January 30, 2015 at 11:33 am

          You’re absolutely right. In fact, I feel as though the continuous push to add features to cars to be “safer” may actually make drivers worse because they rely more and more on gadgets to help them drive.

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          Pete January 30, 2015 at 11:44 am

          Yes, but until that happens we have to adapt. I ride quite differently now here in the south bay area than I did when I rode in Portland and the Beav years back. Personally I like the California merge rules/indications but I’m used to them. What I saw/see in Oregon is that drivers cheat the bike lanes anyway*, and what I see almost everywhere is that drivers more often than not misjudge a bicyclist’s speed – or just don’t care when cutting us off. Even with a full-court educational campaign you’re still unlikely to prevent 100% – heck, cops even ticketing for turn signal abuse would help.

          As I mentioned I ride differently but the problem is I’m fit/assertive enough to take lanes at intersections and find putting myself in front of cars is (counter-intuitively) safer than being next to them more often than not. But I know this style of riding doesn’t solve the problem for everyone. Definite tips are to use a mirror, and to point at the lane and ride nearer the line when going straight, even if not taking it. Really about all I can add as I’m of the same thought as you but drivers are always gonna see bikers as the problem and vice-versa – and honestly cheap gas won’t help put more people on bikes in general which is really what helps serves us best in the short term.

          *I once called out a guy on Murray for using the bike lane as a right turn lane and even passing someone sitting legally with her blinker on. I (politely) said that it wasn’t allowed here in Oregon unlike California where you moved from. He said, “How’d you know that’s where I’m from??”. I told him it was obvious from his driving and to have a nice day.

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        middle of the road guy January 30, 2015 at 10:25 am

        No, a driver was the cause in your individual case. Don’t project that on to everything because of your subjective experience.

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          Kyle January 30, 2015 at 11:32 am

          In any right-hook or left-hook case, unless a cyclist is proceeding at a dangerous rate of speed or riding without lights at night, I fail to see how the driver is not at fault. Oregon law (and California as well) states that drivers must yield to bikes in a bike lane before turning. Failure to see a bicycle is driver error/inattention. I own a car and drive as needed, and I’ve never come even remotely close to right-hooking a bicyclist. Why? Because I pay attention while I drive and I check my mirrors and blind spots before executing ANY turn.

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            Dan January 30, 2015 at 12:13 pm

            There is a point mid-turn when your mirror is no longer pointed at the bike lane. If a bike enters that zone after you have started the turn, you won’t see them.

            Visibility is also an issue after dark when the car behind you is positioned further to the right than you are. Their headlights will be pointed directly into your mirror, which makes it impossible to see the whole bike lane. I scout out far ahead of my turn, and look back over my shoulder when I reach the intersection as well, but the best I can do mid-turn is to go slowly and trust that a cyclist isn’t going to try & squeeze through in front of my right bumper at the last second.

            I know I have the right of way as a cyclist here, but I’d be crazy to come up and pass someone with their blinker on without getting eye contact first.

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              Spiffy February 2, 2015 at 8:52 am

              “makes it impossible to see the whole bike lane”

              stop your car right there and don’t move another inch into that bike lane until you can see it and you know that it’s clear… I don’t care if the entire road is stuck waiting behind you…

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                Dan February 2, 2015 at 5:43 pm

                You know that would be forever, right?

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              Robert Getch February 2, 2015 at 10:59 pm

              Blind spots in general are a failure to use your mirrors correctly and drive to the conditions. I’ve never encountered this issue.

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                Dan February 3, 2015 at 6:41 am

                You’ve never encountered a car sitting behind you and to the right, with their headlight pointed in your mirror? Maybe I’m doing it wrong.

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      Buzz January 30, 2015 at 10:27 am

      The California model seems much safer for everyone involved than the Oregon model.

      When I’m driving eastbound on SE Hawthorne below 12th, I always merge across the bike lane to turn right on, say, SE 10th.

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        El Biciclero February 1, 2015 at 2:19 pm

        “The California model seems much safer for everyone involved than the Oregon model.”

        It may be, but to change the rule would be to allow bicyclists out of the bike lane to go around right-turning drivers. Oregon law currently allows bicyclists to leave the bike lane in such a case, but we apparently either a) think we’re doing cyclists a favor by always allowing clear passage along the right, or b) have such a strong desire to make sure cyclists stay in the bike lane that we try to also make sure they have no excuse to leave it.

        The problem with changing the laws by, e.g., implementing the California rule for merging into bike lanes is that it would trigger a domino effect of sorts, resulting in other laws needing to change to remain “fair” and/or consistent. For example: if we allowed drivers to merge into the bike lane prior to making turns, current Oregon law would allow bicyclists to merge out of the bike lane to pass drivers waiting to make a right. However, if there were a backup of cars also waiting to go straight, would a bicyclist be considered to be “lane-splitting” if they filtered between these two backed-up lines of cars? Lane-splitting is illegal in Oregon, so unless that law were changed, bicyclists would tend to get stuck in traffic to the same degree drivers do at rush hours, and one of the big advantages of bicycling for transportation (avoiding congestion) would be gone. Current Oregon law forbids leaving the bike lane (although wsbob will tell you otherwise) when proceeding straight through an intersection where motor vehicles MAY (not MUST) turn right. Would that law be changed to allow cyclists to anticipate drivers merging into the bike lane and allow cyclists to merge out of the bike lane temporarily to avoid sideswipes?

        Another subtle effect these laws have is to set up a legal environment that either favors a “vehicular” or a “protected” style of riding. Here’s what I mean: by having a law like Oregon currently has, we are actually laying a foundation for a “protected” style of riding by training drivers that they have to watch out for bicyclists when making turns, and that they are not allowed to encroach onto bicycle infrastructure. This “training” transfers easily to a system of “protected” cycle tracks where cyclists emerge from hiding at intersections, but drivers know they have to yield at the point of making the turn. Merging into a bikeway is something drivers already know they can’t do, so adding a barrier of “protection” only physically reinforces what drivers already should be doing: staying out of the bikeway. The reason this is only a foundation, is because the law is not really taken seriously. The public, many law enforcement officers, and even judges don’t really feel bicyclists deserve protection, or don’t understand how the law was designed to work, and so drivers have little incentive to actually follow it. A much higher level of responsibility and accountability for drivers would need to be enacted (and enforced) before “protected” bikeways would be at all safe for bicyclists to use without having to yield to everyone at every intersection. Of course, we could use separate signal timing and bike-specific signals, but then right turns on red would have to be all but outlawed—another sacred entitlement drivers claim and would be loath to give up. The main reason I cannot support the creation of much “protected” infrastructure around here is that I know the legal support isn’t there for it; I would be on even higher alert using “protected” infrastructure than I am just riding in a bike lane or “The Lane”.

        To make a long comment even longer, going the other way, and implementing the California rule of merging into bike lanes, along with the other legal changes I mentioned above, would be tantamount to a declaration of support for the “vehicular” style of riding wherein we just treat bicyclists like every other vehicle operator. But this, too has problems because even though we say bicyclists have a legal right to use “car” lanes under some circumstances, reality is that it freaks people out and causes them to be aggressive and threatening toward any bicyclist that is merely riding within their rights. Law enforcement again sides with motorists, sympathizing with their plight of being “held up” by a crazy cyclist with a “death wish”, and orders legally-operating cyclists off the road, or issues citations to them.

        So, California appears to favor the “vehicular” style of riding, while Oregon favors “protected”, but both states’ laws are ambiguous enough, or are missing enough supporting laws (or just enforcement support) as to be nearly worthless as a means of increasing the practicality and safety of using a bicycle for one’s transportation needs.

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          Alan 1.0 February 1, 2015 at 2:58 pm

          I don’t think lane splitting by bicycles is specifically prohibited by ORS (814.240 specifies motorcycles and mopeds), although 814.430 (FRAP) might make the point moot. Regardless, CA using one way, OR another and WA using both, is confusing.

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            El Biciclero February 2, 2015 at 11:13 am

            I guess it depends on how you interpret 814.400:

            “Application of vehicle laws to bicycles

            (1) Every person riding a bicycle upon a public way is subject to the provisions applicable to and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle concerning operating on highways, vehicle equipment and abandoned vehicles, except:

            (a) Those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.

            (b) When otherwise specifically provided under the vehicle code”

            The only specific exception for passing (that I’ve found) is in 811.415 where passing on the right is permitted if the vehicle is a bicycle that can safely make the passage.

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              Alan 1.0 February 2, 2015 at 12:11 pm

              So, 814.400.1.b’s “otherwise specifically provided” recognizes the specific provision of 814.240 which says “mopeds and motorcycles,” but not bicycles or vehicles. I don’t know if there have been court decisions which set precedent on that, and as I say it may be moot due to FRAP laws for bikes, but the way those laws together read to me says that bikes aren’t prohibited from lane splitting. None of which really affects your overall point about the lack of precision regarding bike laws in many states. Jonathan also commented about that broader point the other day in another thread.

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              soren February 2, 2015 at 2:51 pm

              I think it’s generally accepted that vehicles can pass other vehicles on the left, if it’s safe to do so. Thus, current statutes allow cyclists to pass motorvehicles on either the left or right, if it’s safe to do so. In many states the only statute that would explicitly ban lane-splitting by cyclists are relatively vague statutes that discuss proper use of lane markings. In my experience, bike lane-splitting is not seen as an offense by law enforcement in OR and is, thus, in the same ambiguous category as lane-splitting in CA.

              Since bikes can travel far faster than motorists during traffic jams, it may be a statutory violation for motorists to try to prevent cyclists from passing (as they often do in my experience): 811.425 Failure of slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle.

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            soren February 2, 2015 at 2:35 pm

            814.30 allows cyclists to ride in any legal lane if they are traveling at the normal speed of traffic. This is precisely the scenario when most cyclists lane-split.

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              El Biciclero February 2, 2015 at 11:51 pm

              If you mean 814.430, then not really, as 814.420 specifies bicyclists MUST ride in a bike lane, if one is present. Moving at the speed of other traffic is not one of the exceptions listed in 814.420.

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                soren February 3, 2015 at 10:15 am

                I thought we were discussing lane-splitting in general. I agree that the mandatory sidepath statute makes riding in the larger lane on Williams illegal (except for brief passing maneuvers or right turns).

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      was carless February 3, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      Well, for one, our blocks are only 200 feet long, so 100 feet worth of merging means that a full 50% of all bike lanes in the city would disappear overnight.

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    Suburban January 30, 2015 at 9:21 am

    The tow-truck driver is shown wearing bib-overalls, not suspenders.

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    oliver January 30, 2015 at 9:28 am

    “I’m sorry man, I’m glad you’re not seriously hurt.”

    It’s nice to see civility prevailing in an instance where tempers could be very short and very hot. If Sergeants is only a few blocks from here I imagine their drivers have a long history of interacting with cyclists and vice-versa.

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    jeffb January 30, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Question on terminology – a “left hook” to me means an oncoming vehicle turns left in front of the cyclist. This is more of a “right hook from the left”. I draw the distinction because they are very different scenarios, the true left hook being potentially a lot more dangerous.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 30, 2015 at 9:36 am

      Great question jeffb,

      I actually thought about that before publishing… I realize left-hook has its own meaning.. .But I figured it was the clearest and most understandable way to describe what happened here. For lack of a better term… if a right-hook happens on the left side, it’s a left-hook. I don’t think “right hook from the left” works at all. open to other terms.

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        Adam January 30, 2015 at 11:27 pm

        I’m voting right here and now for the term S-hook; S being the appropriate enantiomer. Plus in this context S stands for sinister, which not only can mean left, but is also pretty bad a$$.

        Take your pick:
        “I locked ’em up the other day to avoid an S-hook on Williams, pft… Washington plate”
        Or
        “Watch out up ahead, real potential for a sinister hook if your heads not on a swivel spying dashboard garmins”

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      El Biciclero January 30, 2015 at 9:57 am

      That’s a “left cross”, to maintain the punching analogy. A “hook” of any kind indicates the victim is caught on the inside of a turn made by a vehicle traveling in the same direction. A “cross” is when an oncoming (from the opposite travel direction) vehicle turns into or immediately in front of the victim. I’ve also seen “right cross” used to describe a sudden pull-out from a side street or driveway into the victim’s right side.

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      Opus the Poet January 31, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      The UK term for this wreck would be a left hook. They drive on the wrong side of the street and this is their normal orientation.

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    dan January 30, 2015 at 9:38 am

    It’s always taking a risk when you pass a vehicle that is traveling slowly enough to make a turn. Assuming malice on the part of motor vehicle operators is the safe way to go.

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      paikiala January 30, 2015 at 11:34 am

      I’m missing how this is a left hook. The left lane is a shared lane. Sharing means equal right of use. A vehicle operator ahead of a cyclist has the right of way in a shared lane. Unless the vehicle operator is in the right lane and turning from the wrong lane, the cyclist made the error. It is not a left side bike lane next to a left side through lane.
      This seems more like illegal passing.

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        Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 30, 2015 at 11:36 am

        let’s not get too bogged down in the semantics paikiala.

        And FWIW the left lane here is not shared. It is a bike-only lane. The truck operator turned across another lane of traffic which was occupied by another vehicle operator.

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        Pete January 30, 2015 at 12:43 pm

        Ah, now I see what you were saying above! (I don’t know the design well enough to judge but what you assert makes total sense to me).

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        Alex January 30, 2015 at 1:04 pm

        Not where this accident occurred. It is a bike only lane and not shared.

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      Ted January 30, 2015 at 11:49 am

      By malice do you mean you think car drivers are trying to turn into cyclists at hit them?

      I agree that when passing a car that’s coming up to an intersection a cyclist should be cautious. I keep my eye on, first the brake lights, then the front wheel of the car as an indication of a drivers intention.

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        dan January 30, 2015 at 12:36 pm

        To be clear, I’m not saying that the tow truck driver did this deliberately. I’m just saying that in general, it’s probably safest to assume that every motorist will run you down if you put yourself in a place where they can do so. Call it Murphy’s Law of Cycling: “If a driver can threaten your life, either deliberately, or through inattention, they will.”

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          Ted January 30, 2015 at 2:23 pm

          Wow. In don’t think I could ever get on a bike if I had that perspective. I guess my experience as a cyclist these past 25 years has been very different. The incidents with angry drivers is minute compared to those who are civil. And while I am aware that it does occur, I have never had some one TRY and hit me.

          Maybe you are trying to suggest that everyone should ride defensively because you can’t be sure that a drive sees you. If it is, I think that would be very good advice but that is not really coming across.

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            dan January 30, 2015 at 2:36 pm

            Yep, that’s my distilled wisdom from 30+ years of cycling around the Portland area + touring in SE Asia, Europe, the US and Canada. Though to be honest, now that I’m a married man, I’m pretty choosy about touring destinations in the US — too many pickups and RVs out there. SE Asia is way safer 🙂

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      Dan January 30, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      And in this case, the rider attempted to pass a truck that was stopped with it’s BLINKER ON. I get it, we have the right of way here, but that’s just a bad idea.

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        Dan January 31, 2015 at 10:48 am

        Nevermind, I misread how the collision occurred.

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      Spiffy February 2, 2015 at 8:59 am

      “Assuming malice on the part of motor vehicle operators is the safe way to go.”

      I refuse to live my life in fear…

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    Adron @ Transit Sleuth January 30, 2015 at 9:45 am

    One of the other massive issues with Oregon is our – cyclists have right of way in lane, cars can’t enter lane to signify turning, and related rules. Not that I don’t agree with these laws/rules but they’re the complete opposite of California (where a lot of people come from) and Washington (where a bunch of people come from). Then, if we also look at the rest of the country they also tend to be the complete opposite (i.e. car has to merge into bike lane and treat the bike lane as if it is an operational lane just like an auto lane)… but in Oregon, cars aren’t allowed in the bike lane to signify a turn and are supposed to yield right of way. Only a few Oregonians even know this, because seriously – our drivers tests and licensing process is a pathetic joke (as it is throughout the country).

    Until these things changed EVERYWHERE in Oregon is going to perpetuate an ongoing hooking problem – the simple fact is, no matter how visible the cyclists (or pedestrian) the motorists generally do not, cannot, and will not perceive outside existence of humanity. Our perceptions, ALL OF OUR PERCEPTIONS, are really poor in auto usage – combined with confusing laws that combines for a dangerous situation.

    Also… as long as we continue to demand cyclists be in road and act like cars, and we continue to have ignorant drivers that hate cyclists, we’re going to have low cycling percentages. This is an exact case in point that shows exactly why we can’t get the 8-80 range out there. They read of a story, even as minor as this one, and they don’t touch any bike infrastructure that is in a road. This is seriously frustrating – we simply need separation of some sort. It’s a mind and physics thing. 🙁

    Grumble grumpy grumble.

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      Wes January 30, 2015 at 10:37 am

      You mention that Washington has the same law as California. Can you provide a link to the WA law you’re thinking of? I’ve searched high and low and California specifically says cars should merge into a bike lane to turn while WA law is much more vague and does not say you can legally merge into a bike lane to turn across it.

      If you have a link from WA state that gives more specifics about what drivers are legally allowed to do in regards to driving in and turning through a bike lane, I’d love to see it so I can add it to my research. 🙂

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        Alan 1.0 January 30, 2015 at 12:44 pm

        I live in WA and I’m not sure! Vancouver uses both merged and continuous bike lanes depending on circumstances. Usually the merged bike lane peels away from the curb to be between the straight- and right-turn car lanes.

        RCW 46.61.290 says, “Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.” I don’t know of a law that overrides that for bike lanes; it there is one, I would like to hear of it, too.

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          Wes January 30, 2015 at 1:52 pm

          Yep confusing indeed which is why I asked if anyone else has any idea. 🙂

          WA defines a “roadway” as “that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk or shoulder even though such sidewalk or shoulder is used by persons riding bicycles.”

          Since the roadway is clearly marked with white lines, it gets even more confusing when the official WA drivers handbook on page 3-9 say you shouldn’t drive to the right of the white line:

          “White lane markings – Solid white lines are used to mark both edges of two-way roads and the right edge of one-way roads. You should not drive to the right of the edge line. ”

          http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/docs/driverguide-en.pdf

          Merging into a bike lane to turn further up the road meets the definition of “driving to the right of the edge line” in my opinion.

          Again, I’m very interested if anyone has a better worded RCW from WA state that indicates that drivers can and should merge and drive in a bike lane before a turn. So far I cannot find such a thing and most wording I’m finding indicates that you are not allowed to drive in a bike lane, period.

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      Pete January 30, 2015 at 11:49 am

      I personally think it helps having cars merge into the lane, but it doesn’t fully prevent the hook. I’ve also said before that in my (Utopian) world we’d do away with state-by-state DMVs and unify the laws nationwide and integrate/improve both driver and biker education everywhere…

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    Nick Skaggs January 30, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Hi everyone!

    My question comes from a legal perspective.

    When I am riding in a traditional ‘right side of the street’ bike lane, I always take the vehicle lane as I near intersections, so that I can avoid the dreaded “Right Hook.”

    From a legal perspective, if I was riding in a traditional ‘right side of the street’ bike lane and I saw a vehicle in front of me preparing to turn right, is it the obligation of the right-turning vehicle to yield to me, or is it my obligation to yield and let them turn? It would seem like the right-turning vehicle should yield to me.

    Similarly, it would seem like the left-turning tow truck in this scenario should have yielded.

    Unfortunately, when bicycles are sharing one outmost side of a street, “right hook” style user conflicts are inevitable- regardless of the bike lane’s placement on the right- or left-hand side of the road.

    In the meantime, if anyone feels unsafe on Williams, I’d suggest taking the lane wherever there are too many vehicles making left turns. It would seem “reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions.” (OR 814.430)

    Then again, I don’t ever ride up on Williams. Good luck to everyone north of Burnside, and please be safe out there.

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      Karl Dickman January 30, 2015 at 10:33 am

      I have posted the texts of laws in the past, but a layman should be hesitant to give legal advice.

      I recommend shooting your question to Ray Thomas. I wrote him a while back to ask if it’s legal to leave notes on cars parked illegally in the bike lane. (Spoiler: no it is not legal.) His colleague Charley Gee concluded his reply with “Ray and I are always happy to help on bike and pedestrian law questions so thanks for asking.”

      Ray Thomas: rthomas AT stc-law.com
      Charley Gee: cgee AT stc-law.com

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      Anne Hawley January 30, 2015 at 10:39 am

      I’m sure someone will weigh in on the exact ORS legalities, but speaking as a driver who came to biking late, I always think of the right side bike lane as a regular lane of traffic. The car driver turning right is doing so across a lane of through traffic, and should yield.

      Mind you, I don’t assume that’s what will happen: I’m keenly aware of all right hook potential intersections and I’m always ready to yield, but I think my expectation colors my riding and how drivers see me.

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        Buzz January 30, 2015 at 5:03 pm

        I’m sorry, but it’s totally disingenuous and illogical to put a through traffic lane to the right of a lane a motorist can, might or is required to make a right turn from (or left turn in the case of N. Williams).

        A traffic engineer would never design a road this way for motor vehicles, so why do they think it is acceptable to do so for cyclists? All they are doing is putting the cyclists in harms way.

        Case in point: SW Broadway at Clay, where there is a dedicated right-turn-only lane for motorists that requires the motorists to turn across the Broadway bike lane at the beginning of the PSU ‘cycle track’.

        These designs are simply asking for trouble, up to and including serious injury or death for cyclists caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, large liability exposures for the city and criminal prosecution or civil actions against the engineers who create such designs.

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          El Biciclero January 31, 2015 at 2:59 pm

          This is the great conflict in Oregon. We want to make sure cyclists know they must stay out of the way and ride as far right as “practicable” (which most non-riders read as “possible”), or in a bike lane when one is present. Now the exact situation you are talking about has a specific exception written into the law (ORS 814.420), which says that a bicyclist may move out of the bike lane at an intersection where the bike lane is striped to the right of a lane from which motor vehicles MUST turn right. However, the green striping and the bike box painted here (at least according to the last Google street view imagery), as well as the obligation cyclists have to enter the hidden “cycle track” just across the intersection strongly suggest to cyclists that they shouldn’t take advantage of that exception to be truly safe, but rather rely for protection on green paint and the driver’s obligation to yield, i.e., “the law”.

          I believe that lawmakers don’t want to change the right-of-way laws for drivers, or allow the “California rule” of drivers merging into bike lanes to make right turns, because it would mean that they would then be compelled to relax the rules on when cyclists must stay in a bike lane. If they did that, why, we’d have cyclists riding down the middle of the “car” lanes every time the bike lane became unsafe or blocked by cars! Heaven forbid! It would “dismantle the whole institution of bike lanes!

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      Pete January 30, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Where’s Ray when you need him??

      FYI here’s the wording from California – note the specific wording in exception (4) here, seems to make it more cut-and-dry to take the lane at intersections (and popular strip malls IMHO); also note bike lanes are not specifically mentioned (not that we don’t have the FTR mentality anyway):

      V C Section 21202 Operation on Roadway

      (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
      (1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

      (2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

      (3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

      (4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

      (b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway of a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.

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      soren February 2, 2015 at 7:45 pm

      “right hook” style user conflicts are inevitable”

      i don’t think this is true:

      1. bike-specific signals.
      2. ban right turns across major bike routes.
      3. barriers or channels that inhibit conflict and enforce visibility.

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    Adam H. January 30, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Can we just admit Williams is a failure, rip it out, and install a real protected bike lane with protected intersections?

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      soren January 30, 2015 at 11:06 am

      “Protection” of the bike lane by a barrier could increase the likelihood of left-crosses by making cyclists harder to see. The obvious solution to this incredibly dangerous design is not installtion of barriers but rather the removal of unsignaled left-turn mixing areas. It’s completely unacceptable that the most heavily-used bike route in Portland is designed so that large vehicles with blind spots are *encouraged* to merge across streams of fast-moving cyclists. Hopefully PBOT and the city recognizes this enormous mistake before someone is seriously injured or killed.

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        soren January 30, 2015 at 11:09 am

        *left-hook

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        Adam H. January 30, 2015 at 11:16 am

        Or install something like this.

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          Daniel F February 1, 2015 at 1:18 pm

          If we were to go the route of separated bike lanes, this would be the way to do it, at least at busy intersections. I wonder if these intersections would necessitate ‘no turn on red’ for autos?

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          Spiffy February 2, 2015 at 11:40 am

          at every driveway?

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      Ted January 30, 2015 at 11:51 am

      Sure. Are you paying for it?

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        Adam H. January 30, 2015 at 12:45 pm

        Yes, I am willing to pay more taxes to fund safe bicycle infrastructure.

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          soren January 30, 2015 at 1:05 pm

          Me too…and I also have a car that I pay fees and taxes on but only drive a few hundred miles a year.

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          Ted January 30, 2015 at 2:12 pm

          Well, I am not sure your little contribution will get er done.

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        El Biciclero January 30, 2015 at 3:19 pm

        Why do we need it?

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          soren February 2, 2015 at 7:47 pm

          exactly. motorists threaten us and then complain when we ask them to mitigate this threat.

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    Joe L January 30, 2015 at 10:54 am

    I also agree that something has to change. Instead of waiting for drivers to become more attentive or the street to be redesigned, I decided I would change. I don’t ride or drive on Williams anymore. It’s crazy.

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    K'Tesh January 30, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Tunnels. Dig them, put the car traffic lanes inside ’em. Compare that to the cost to that of lives forever changed or ruined by the monkey behind the steering wheel.

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      Adam H. January 30, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      No tunnels, pelase. Just look at the debacle that’s going on in Seattle with the tunnel boring machine being stuck underground.

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        Spiffy February 2, 2015 at 11:47 am

        no more bike facilities, please, just look at the debacle of N Williams…

        yeah, sounds silly from the bike side too…

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    Johnny January 30, 2015 at 11:25 am

    I’ve had a number of issues with left hooks on the new N. Williams. Earlier this week I saw a pickup use one of the left turn only / shared bikeway left hand lanes as a quick passing lane to speed around the car in front and back over to the right.

    I can already see how this post has opened the door for comments about other people’s experience with close calls on N. Williams. The new bikeway is simply dangerous.

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      Alex January 30, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Yep – I have been seeing that a lot on there, too. Saw that yesterday a couple of blocks before almost getting left-hooked twice.

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    David Lewis January 30, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Not seeing is the same thing as not looking.

    These incidents are the result of motor vehicle operators who do not perform basic checks when making turns or passing. A street redesign will not coax a motor vehicle operator into obeying traffic laws, especially given the likelihood that they don’t know or understand them anyway.

    A tow truck operator should have a clear understanding of traffic laws, because operating commercial vehicles requires special certification. He had no excuse.

    All that being said, ditch the blinking lights. They are worthless.

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      Dan January 30, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      Funny, I knew a tow truck driver who would spend the entire day at the bar with his pager on. He’d leave once in a while to give a tow, and then go right back to the bar.

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    Joe January 30, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    I’ve been riding Williams for long time, when they revamped the road seems habits have changed and its crazy trying to merge right or being stuck pinned far left :/

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    stephen salter January 30, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    i ride williams almost everyday and witness almost everytime: almost left hooks (i expect the driver not to look or see me, and 9 times out of ten they do neither), cars nosing out into the bike lane from the west anywhere from 5 -10 times between broadway and killingsworth during busy times, cars swerving into the bike lane to go around turning, stopping, parking cars in the straight lane, cars getting stuck in the turn lane and then end up being pushed into the bike lane as it crosses over to the right, etc. today i rode past a truck parked in the middle of the bike lane.

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    Joe January 30, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    driving speed is the major factor seems some will not slow down..

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    Monica January 30, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    I really like the wider bike lane, but sharing the turn lane with cars and worrying about cars who are frustrated by the delay zipping into the bike lane is kind of stressful. Last week after dark, I had to squeeze as close as I could to the chain link fence next to the construction project just north of Prescott because a driver was driving the wrong way, south, IN the bike lane. Just crossed my fingers she wasn’t crazy and trying to mow down bikers. Probably an anomaly but at the same time, possibly likely to recur especially after dark with drivers who are inattentive or unfamiliar? In any case, it scared me enough that I’m back to using alternate routes most of the time.

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      jered bogli January 30, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      I’ve seen people turn the wrong way down Williams TWICE since this change. In 15 years living up that way I’d NEVER seen this happen before.

      in the new bike lane which side do I pass on? Anywhere else I should be the right, but as the faster person it seems like I should take the line closest to traffic and keep the slower riders more buffered… confusing.

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    TJ January 30, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Before the shift left I had plenty of near right hooks. I still insist transportation and parking took a backseat in consideration to infill on Williams.

    While the new Williams may be more vibrant for business and living during the evenings and weekends, during rush hour it is a headache and a disaster in waiting.

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    Dave January 30, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Beth Hamon
    I will feel acclimated when I can see a clear reduction in the number of times I am almost left-hooked (say, from nearly once a week down to perhaps once every several months). Right now N. Williams continues to be a cluster, especially after dark; and I’m not yet convinced our tax dollars were well-spent on this re-design.
    Remember that a road is of no use if road-users don’t feel safe there.
    Until things improve I’m taking Rodney after dark.
    Recommended 1

    Difference in traffic engineering is dangerous–for years, the exit from I-84 to Multnomah Falls was a ramp that took off from the left side of the road instead of the right; a source of many wrecks and near-misses. When will engineers figure out that we’re not the UK?

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      Chris I January 30, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      When will drivers start paying attention and traveling at a safe speed for conditions?

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    Matt January 30, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    Everyone has to slow down on Williams Ave. Drivers can’t be driving 30 mph, and bike riders shouldn’t be riding 22 mph. I believe they should install speed bumps, lower the speed to 20, and encourage bike riders to slow down. With all the new appts. coming in, the density is going to dramatically increase and I suspect there’s going to be a lot more foot traffic crisscrossing where shopping is more popular.

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      El Biciclero January 30, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      “…lower the speed to 20, and encourage bike riders to slow down.”

      Encourage bike riders to slow down to 20? Or are you suggesting that if the motor speed limit is 20, cyclists should automatically expect to go 10? 12?

      If a speed limit (not a minimum speed) doesn’t work for all modes, then it’s the wrong limit for everyone. We should not create the expectation that even though drivers can fly along at 30, cyclists must keep it to under 15, “to be safe”. Even if drivers are held to a limit of 20, why should we impose an even slower speed expectation for cyclists? If your speed limit suggestion is 20, why shouldn’t cyclists go 20?

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      Chris I January 31, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      Every intersection should have raised crosswalks, that essentially act as speed bumps.

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        Spiffy February 2, 2015 at 12:06 pm

        yes, this, now!

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    Huey Lewis January 30, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    I haven’t read through all the comments but I believe there was another left hook accident yesterday. My girlfriend like half witnessed (looked away just as it happened, then looked back to see the cyclist on the ground sorta thing). She didn’t mention it involving a tow truck, so….

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    Ted Buehler January 30, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    Jonathan wrote:

    “This is the second collision we’ve heard about since the changes were implemented.”

    I have two friends who have been left-hooked.

    One was hit at the New Seasons entrance, banged up and bruised. In December. Driver cooperated, no police report filed.

    The other was hit at Skidmore. Hit and run. No injuries, filed a report with the police.

    If you do a database search with the Portland Police Bureau you may find more crashes.

    If bad crashes keep happening between experienced bicyclists and experienced drivers, there will eventually be fatalities. Kinda like Interstate and Greeley back in the 2000s.

    Ted Buehler

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    Ted Buehler January 30, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Shame on the Sergeants driver.

    That’s a turn they make many times a day to get back to their garage, 2 blocks west on Tillamook.

    No excuse for left-hooking a bicyclist on a route you drive everyday, and you’ve been trained to be a professional driver.

    & I used to live one block east of this location, and the Sergeants drivers were hands down the fastest, least cautious drivers on Tillamook St. This was 2009 – 2010, it appears nothing has changed.

    FWIW,
    Ted Buehler

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      Huey Lewis January 30, 2015 at 7:06 pm

      All tow truck drivers. Arguably the worst, most aggressive, least caring drivers around.

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        Robert Burchett January 30, 2015 at 8:34 pm

        Armored truck drivers? I’ve had more issues with Water Bureau trucks than tow truck drivers, for that matter. Mileage. . .

        And, reverting to the topic, I (still) avoid Williams during rush hour. One general thought–not only is the design unique in Portland, it is inconsistent from block to block. It seems that almost every intersection is different from the one before.

        Last time I took N. Williams was at 3 PM. With half the volume of car traffic and almost no bikes, it was great!

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        lyle w. January 31, 2015 at 8:09 am

        I’d say cab drivers have an argument for that title… but yeah. There’s a particular kind of personality that gravitates towards both of those jobs, and they’re not running to the DMV to get ‘Share the Road’ license plates…

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          Brad January 31, 2015 at 4:50 pm

          Agreed. I always watch cabs VERY carefully when I’m on foot or bike. They’re reckless.

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            lyle w. February 1, 2015 at 12:25 pm

            Me too.

            Right up there with minivans without hub caps and stripped paint, and all white box work vans/trucks.

            My ‘terrible driver’ radar is on high alert when i see any of those.

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    Nick Fox January 30, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    I have been thinking it’s calming down a little bit–and then this accident. Ugh.

    I’m really concerned about what will happen when the left turn lane onto Cook opens. Does that seem suspiciously small and short to anyone else? Once we add that as a freeway access point, I think the lane is going to get really scary (even scarier?).

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    Dwaine Dibbly January 30, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    It’s probably a lot more complicated than this, but are we ready to call the Williams project a failed experiment?

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    katie January 30, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I also saw someone get hit last night at 4pm by the park… car turning left. seemed to be a last minute decision

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    AG January 30, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    After riding Williams daily for years I’ve pretty much given up and found alternate routes that also have dangers, just not quite so intense. My rides home are much less stressful.

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    adam January 30, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Totally confused. How could it possibly be the bicyclists’ fault? They were riding ON Williams, which has the right of way. It is a bigger street and has no light or stop sign at Tillamook. Tillamook has the stop sign.

    So… The driver pulled out from the stop sign without looking into the bicyclists, who legally had the right of way.

    How is it the cyclists’ fault? TOTALLY CONFUSED.

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      El Biciclero January 31, 2015 at 9:43 am

      The situation sounds like one in which the tow truck driver was also on Williams, overtook the cyclists, and then turned left onto Tillamook—across the left-side bike lane where the cyclists were riding.

      Still, if the cyclists were in a bike lane, drivers are required to yield when turning across the bike lane. The witness who declared that it was “clearly the bike rider’s fault” is misinformed, along with tens of thousands of other people.

      This highlights one of the biggest misconceptions/disagreements/legal contradictions we have regarding bicycle right-of-way. Many people compare to motorcycle training and like to point out that motorcyclists are taught that drivers won’t see them and so it is up to the motorcyclist to “be responsible” and avoid careless drivers. “Why,” they wonder, “don’t we tell bicyclists the same thing?” Well, we could do that—and many people, including bicyclists themselves, do—but the biggest difference between operating a motorcycle and operating a bicycle, is that motorcyclists have more viable maneuvering room, and perhaps a better means of maneuvering due to their greater power, ability to easily match the speed of other motor vehicles, and their unambiguous legal right to use any lane they want at any time. Bicyclists, while they might have some of the maneuverability, don’t have nearly the space to maneuver when constrained to a bike lane with no ability to “gun it” and move quickly into a small gap in the adjacent lane when it is full of motor vehicles moving at twice their speed. Now, as a concession to forcing bicyclists to “stay out of the way”, Oregon law confers some special “protections” onto bicyclists that motorcyclists don’t have—one of which is that drivers crossing a bike lane must yield to bicyclists who are already in the lane.

      So if we tell bicyclists, “for your own safety, you’d better yield to drivers because they don’t see you”, we are giving advice—practical though it may be—that is the exact opposite of what the law says. That contradiction doesn’t exist for motorcycle riders.

      To me, there are about two ways to resolve this conflict in the law:

      Remove special protections for bicyclists and bike lanes, and let drivers do whatever they want, with a warning to cyclists that they are solely responsible for their own safety. Just like we do for motorcyclists, subject bicyclists to the same laws as everyone else. However, along with that, we would have to remove the restriction that bicyclists must ride as far right as practicable or (in Oregon, anyway) in a bike lane or path if one is on or adjacent to the roadway. In the words of at least one Oregon judge, though, that would “dismantle the whole bike lane system”.

      The only alternative to the above would be to enact some kind of strict liability law so that any driver who hit any bicyclist would know, without a doubt, that nobody—from law enforcement, to juries, to judges, to the general public—was going to wink and look the other way to let them off the hook. Drivers would have to know beyond a doubt that the burden of proof would be on them to show there was no way they could have avoided the crash, otherwise they are deemed 100% at fault, with penalties commensurate with the results of the crash (e.g., more serious depending on level of injury or on whether anyone died).

      The compromised and conflicted system we have now is an attempt to keep cyclists out of the way of motorists at all costs. We legally constrain bicyclists to the most dangerous part of the roadway, then out of one side of our mouth we tell them the law will protect them, but it doesn’t, so out of the other side of our mouth, we tell them “you’re responsible for your own safety”.

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        The Odd Duck February 1, 2015 at 2:32 am

        Twenty years and 200,000 Miles on a motorcycle here is one of the rules to live by: Never assume you have the right of way even if you do.

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        are February 5, 2015 at 1:37 pm

        comment of the week. if jon doesn’t give you five i will.

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    Paul January 31, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Before Portland and Oregon get too invested in left curb bike lanes, it should be remembered that it is legal in Oregon to turn left on red from a one-way street onto both one-way and two-way streets. If I’d seen a vehicle stopped in front of me with its left turn signal on I would have pulled in behind it in the traffic lane.

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      Mark January 31, 2015 at 1:33 pm

      Careful Paul, you’ve got it wrong. It’s legal to make a left turn on red onto a one-way street only. You may turn left from a one or two-way street.

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      Spiffy February 2, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      but in this case there was no vehicle in front of the bicycle because it had its own lane… the to-truck crossed over the adjacent lane without making sure it was clear…

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    The Odd Duck February 1, 2015 at 2:28 am

    I do the same thing I do with my trike as I did with my motorcycle “when in doubt turn out (motorcycles throttle ) its cheaper to let someone have the right of way. One of the rules to remember is: Every one and every thing is out there to kill you. Other that that have a nice ride.

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    Charles Ross February 2, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Bicyclists need to do a better job of lighting themselves up and wearing bright, reflective clothing. This accident happened at 5:30. Sunset was @ 5:15. It is absolutely the worst time of the day to drive, to bike, or to be a pedestrian. Headlights, bright flashing rear lights, a reflective vest, a helmet, all of this could add up to a cost of less than 100 bucks and could save your life.
    Bicyclists need to be predictable. It’s unfair to motorists that the name of the game seems to be ‘anything goes’: going in between cars, running lights and stop signs, changing lanes abruptly.
    Looking to the future, more cyclists, probably just as many cars, a code of conduct is essential, on the part of motorists and cyclists alike. My opinion.

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      Jeff TB February 2, 2015 at 11:40 am

      Thanks for sharing your opinion Charles. Could you please explain how it relates to this story? From my reading, the cyclists had lights on their bikes, had bright clothing and were riding in a predictable manner. They did not run a stop/light, were not changing lanes abruptly. I agree that there should be a code of conduct. But, also recognize that that code will sometimes be violated….like we see everyday by motor vehicle operators (and cyclists). Shouldn’t that code include yielding the right-of-way? Didn’t the cyclist in this situation have the right-of-way? Thanks.

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        Charles Ross February 2, 2015 at 5:15 pm

        Jeff, My comment doesn’t NEED to “relate to the story” but I can tell you for a fact that unless the tow truck driver deliberately turned into the cyclist, that driver did not see him.
        Neither one of us knows exactly how this bicyclist looked in the tow trucks rear view/side mirror. Neither one of us knows HOW brightly the lights were on his bike. I’ve been out there many times in my car and on my bike and have seen other riders with lights that were, well, technically lights, but not real discernible to drivers forward or behind.
        Re: the red color shirt he was wearing. Red is a terrible color to wear in low light conditions. It looks black to observers. Bright yellow/orange with reflectors laced in. Much, much more visible.
        Being visible in heavy, nighttime traffic is simply not a ‘do just enough’ situation. It’s time for overkill: bright clothing, double lights on the back, one on the bike and one on your person (cause it moves) and a bright light forward on the handlebars, blinking if you do not need it for your own line of sight. I was on tour a few years ago and got a nice complement from another cyclist: He saw me a good mile down the road and he thought it was a police car with all the lights. That made me happy ’cause what does any driver do when he thinks there’s a police car ahead? HE SLOWS DOWN!
        I often bike here in Portland, and have to say, having lived in several large cities, drivers here are pretty good about respecting the cyclist’s space. Cyclists here, on the other hand, do a poor job in obeying traffic laws, communicating their intentions, and, as mentioned above, making themselves visible.
        If you are seriously hurt or killed while on your bicycle, it really doesn’t much matter who is right and who is wrong. There’s no amount of money that’s going to make you whole.

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          El Biciclero February 4, 2015 at 11:32 am

          “…bright clothing, double lights on the back, one on the bike and one on your person (cause it moves) and a bright light forward on the handlebars, blinking if you do not need it for your own line of sight.”

          That all sounds pretty expensive. What about those who ride a bike because they can’t afford anything else—and can barely afford the bike, let alone all the “necessary” gear?

          Also, bright clothing doesn’t help much when checking in a rear-view mirror, as your headlights aren’t aimed at it. Most hook-style collisions happen because mirror-checking is inadequate to see a cyclist beside or coming up from behind you as you slow to make a turn. It does take concentrated looking, not just “seeing” on the part of drivers to avoid these collisions while still complying with the law. The best way to avoid such collisions is to scan ahead for bicyclists that you are about to overtake, monitor any you have just overtaken (because they’ll likely catch up to you quickly once you slow down to turn), and look for places from which an unseen cyclist could emerge. When things become difficult is when you have to stop and wait to make a turn, either because traffic is backed up, there are pedestrians crossing, or you want to make a turn on red. But in those situations, you’re already stopped or nearly stopped, so a turn of the head to check your 4:00 – 5:00 (or 7:00 – 8:00 in this situation), in addition to checking your rear-view and side-view mirrors (which also should be aimed properly), shouldn’t be hard to do.

          If drivers are actively looking for bicyclists, and they understand (and acknowledge) that they have to yield, there is very little difficulty involved in yielding to riders in a bike lane before making a turn.

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      Dan February 2, 2015 at 11:46 am

      The last right hook fatality reported here happened at 11:45am. What do you suppose the cyclist did incorrectly there?

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    jim February 4, 2015 at 2:31 am

    I routinely see confused drivers driving up the bike lanes.

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    Charles Ross February 4, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    “That all sounds pretty expensive. What about those who ride a bike because they can’t afford anything else—and can barely afford the bike, let alone all the “necessary” gear?”

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      Charles Ross February 4, 2015 at 9:47 pm

      You gotta be kidding me. The only things extra I’ve suggested is perhaps a second light on the back and maybe a yellow shirt. Or are you suggesting that forcing cyclist to have any lighting system is some kind of imposition? What are we talking about, 20 bucks?
      You know, bonehead drivers are ALWAYS going to be there. Good drivers who occasionally make bonehead moves are ALWAYS going to be there. You can talk all you want about their failures and what they should and could do and it’s not going to do a bit of good. What you CAN do is protect yourself and in the particular circumstances surrounding this story it is making sure you are as visible as possible.
      I’ve been out there the last couple of evenings around dusk and I didn’t see anything that changes my opinion that bicycle riders here in Portland do a poor job of obeying laws and making themselves visible. Most cyclists have a light. One light. it is usually on the rear and often dim. Sometimes they are wearing a single ‘walkers’ light that, I have to say, barely gives off a glow.
      ‘that all sounds pretty expensive”. That’s rich! what’s your head worth?

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        El Biciclero February 5, 2015 at 10:06 am

        Your original suggestions of double rear lights and a bright front headlight, along with bright clothing, which you had described earlier in your comment as “bright yellow/orange with reflectors laced in” sounded like a little more than just “20 bucks”. Your revised suggestions of “a second light and a yellow shirt sound a little cheaper, but also make some assumptions. Since a rear reflector meets the legal requirement, a lot of folks aren’t starting out with one rear light, so having two rear lights means buying two rear lights, not just “a second one”—and keeping them supplied with batteries. Those dim lights you complain about Portland cyclists having on the rear of their bikes is what you get for “20 bucks”. The only light a night time bike rider must have is a front white light visible for 500 feet; that’s where I’d focus on spending my money if I had a very limited supply.

        “A yellow shirt” does just about nothing for winter night riding, since most people would have a jacket or coat on over it—maybe a cheap safety vest would be better if it fit over a jacket.

        Doesn’t matter what anything is “worth” if you don’t have the money to pay for it. Twenty bucks might be half a day’s pay for some folks (or infinity times a day’s pay if you’re unemployed). Not everybody can afford to impersonate a police car while on a bike tour.

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          Charles Ross February 5, 2015 at 5:04 pm

          El Biciciero, My assumption is that if you are riding at night you already fulfill the minimum, by law, requirement of one headlight and one rear light/reflector. Certainly you agree that anyone riding at night should at the very least, have these two lights. Or? And I have to say, going around at night with just a “legal” reflector, that is, reflected light that can be seen on low beams at 600 feet (two football fields) is a joke. If you are riding at night in congested, car busy Portland without good lights, front and rear, you must have a death wish.
          The 2nd light and clothing is what I’m referring to with the ’20 buck cost’ comment.
          Re: the poverty argument. If you can’t fulfill the minimum requirements of the law when riding at night, you shouldn’t ride. It’s like excusing someone from having car insurance using the poverty excuse. “hey, I can afford the car, insurance? no way.”
          As far as extra lights, I was just on Amazon and there are a variety of choices for lights under 20 bucks. Some offers < $20 are for front/rear combos. It's simply not that expensive.
          Do you drive? Drive/walk around downtown sometime at dusk and really look at what cyclists are doing for visibility. I walked the other night @ 5:30 from N.W. 23/Burnside down to the Main Post office area and made it a point to look for lighting. I saw @ 15 cyclists on the way. 2 of them had adequate rear lighting and I'm only telling you what I saw from the rear, as they were past me before I could see any front light.
          Sorry, but I guess we're just going to have to 'agree to disagree' on this one.
          If a driver can't see you and you are run over and badly injured/killed, the issue of 'who's right and who's wrong' is going to be of very little significance to you.

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            El Biciclero February 6, 2015 at 9:47 am

            Look, I hear what you are saying about visibility, but safe or not, any bicyclist that has a front light and rear reflector is riding legally, just like a driver who maintains the bare minimum of liability insurance. Is it enough? Maybe not, but what we are asking/telling cyclists to do is to spend more money to go above and beyond the law because, well, drivers can’t even live up to the bare minimum of keeping a proper lookout.

            Now, myself, I like a nice 600-lumen headlight to see my way over the hill after dark, and a couple of pulsing rear lights, along with a giant SAE-compliant red oval reflector and a forward-facing go-pro camera to capture what actually happens in case of an adverse event. BUT, if I had to choose between buying new batteries for my two rear lights or buying , e.g., new brake pads, I’m going to buy the brake pads that will keep me safer day or night.

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              Charles Ross February 6, 2015 at 4:51 pm

              I guess the bottom line for me, and nobody else, is that making myself as visible as possible is something I can do. For the bicyclist in this article, no law, no admonishment, no outrage is going to change that he was hit by this motorist or lessen the possibility of this happening in the future. What’s that old saying applied to this situation?: Some drivers are boneheads all of the time, some drivers are boneheads some of the time, and some are just fools (something like that).
              The only thing I can do as a bicyclist is to make sure that I”m not foolish when I’m riding. That’s it.

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        soren February 5, 2015 at 12:51 pm

        as our neighbor to the west has shown, most law breaking by cyclists has nothing to do with safety.

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          soren February 5, 2015 at 12:51 pm

          east

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