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Comment of the Week: A map should not be an important safety tool

Posted by on December 18th, 2015 at 2:19 pm

If you haven’t read Jonathan’s haunting, exclusive report that Martin Greenough seems to have been killed on his very first bike commute, two weeks after moving to Portland, it’s not one to miss.

Part of the story is that the city’s official bike map inaccurately suggests that Lombard is a fine place to bike. But as BikePortland reader El Biciclero pointed out in a must-read response, the problem here is not really with the map.

The problem is that the only way to bike around Portland without near-death experiences is to use a map.

“‘He had just bought his bike… Saturday night might have been the first time he commuted to that location and back,’ Monica said.

He very likely had no idea there was a dangerous gap in the bikeway on his way home.”

This is what rankles me. Martin didn’t study hard enough before attempting to get from A to B on a bike. As a bicyclist, I can’t trust maps, Google, GPS—anything—to point me to a “safe” route. And really, why aren’t all routes “safe”? Why can I expect to drive my car anywhere, traveling any route I want, but if I want to travel by bike, I must study carefully, make trial runs, review video, check maps and street views, cross-referencing multiple sources to see whether the bike lane drops or there is a left turn signal, or a way around that doesn’t involve left turns or two-way stops, find out what the de facto speed is on a street that is signed for 30 mph, hope the shoulder or bike lane is as wide as it looks online and there aren’t huge drainage pits in it and the stripes haven’t worn off since the last time the Google photo car drove by (I have started looking at the “image capture” dates on Google street view to get some notion of whether the picture is still accurate for places I haven’t been). If I don’t do all of the above I could DIE.

If I hop in my car and follow my nose, the worst I can expect is getting lost.

We should never, ever have to ask “why would anyone ride their bike on that route?”

We’ll leave it at that.

Yes, we pay for good comments. This regular feature is sponsored by readers who’ve become BikePortland subscribers to keep our site and our community strong. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to El Biciclero in thanks for this great addition. Watch your email!

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

  • spencer December 18, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    well said!

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  • 9watts December 18, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    All I can say is IT’S ABOUT TIME.

    El Biciclero’s comments here stand out for me because of their special combination of eloquence, insight, and razor sharp wit.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) December 18, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      Your consistent appreciation for his best stuff has definitely helped us recognize it.

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    • Pete December 18, 2015 at 7:13 pm

      My favorite BP comment of all time was something that (I’m pretty sure it was) El B said about drivers seeing bicyclists taking a left turn from the left lane, or in travel lanes in general. I so wish I could remember it enough to find it again using the search function, but it was something along the lines of “omigosh, omigosh, whadoido? whadoido?”. It had me rolling on the floor in stitches. I find his comments are often poignant and informative, and when the subject is as sad as I’ve been this week for the tragic loss of this wonderful man, I think back to that description of your average driver encountering a bicyclist in the roadway and it lightens things up a little.

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      • 9watts December 20, 2015 at 3:29 pm

        That would be a fun comment to find again. I think I remember it too.
        I tried but struck out.

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        • q`Tzal December 21, 2015 at 8:31 am

          I remember manually doing a search of all my comments on the search bar trying to find/remember the precise wording of some particularly pithy comment I made.

          Without exact wording in a search string however you are stuck weeding through all comments by “El Biciclero”. That search is MASSIVE even if we had some simple way to filter for his most popular comments.

          Such a filter could be useful for mining of this site’s years of wisdom … and snark.

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  • dbrunker December 18, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    This is exactly what I do all the time and exactly how I feel. The only difference is I would also add Strava Global Heatmap ( and Google Street View.

    A drivers almost never have to ask themselves which side streets and alternate routes they have to take to avoid being killed.

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    • Eric Leifsdad December 18, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      I really felt the “didn’t study hard enough” and it’s very sad. I cannot even count how many hours I’ve spent on maps, street view, even driving part of a route trying to figure out how to safely get from A to B with kids on a bike and how many times I’ve ended at “nope” because of a dicey high-speed connection with little to no bike infrastructure, sometimes even just for destinations a couple miles from home. It makes me sick.

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    • SilkySlim December 21, 2015 at 12:07 pm

      The overall heatmap is so interesting. My biggest takeaway is that people ride bikes on every single road. Really underscores the need for better across the board solutions (education, lower speed limits, etc.) versus dedicated facilities.

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  • Mike Quiglery December 18, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Funny. I was in San Francisco last week. Thumbed through one of those travel magazines at the airport. In it was a display ad: “Portland. Oregon’s Most Bikeable City” said the banner over a photo of a happy family standing and holding their bikes in the Rose Garden with Mt. Hood in the background.

    Weird, huh?

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty December 18, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      I’m waiting for the ad with the smiling family on bikes posing by the Lombard underpass.

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    • BeavertonRider December 20, 2015 at 9:38 pm

      I’m not getting it. I’m from Detroit and have lived in Boston, Chicago, DC, Philadelphia, and Austin. Portland is leaps and bounds ahead of each of those cities and most other larger metro areas. Even with the accidents in Portland this year and last, it’s still a helluva better here for cyclists than most elsewhere in the US – gosh darned it, it is one of the best still.

      However, for the permanently aggrieved among us, “best” is always in a vacuum and can never be relative, I guess.

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      • El Biciclero December 21, 2015 at 3:18 pm

        Yet people still die here for doing nothing more naive than trusting a map to find a route that is safe. I guess if we were all street smart like you big city folks, and knew what’s good for us, we’d recognize that bicyclists will always be 2nd-class citizens everywhere in the U.S. Once we accept that “fact of life”, we’ll all realize that it is indeed our own foolish weakness and lack of independent diligence that gets us run over or killed by cars.

        By statewide measures in 2012, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, DC, Pennsylvania, and Texas all had fewer per capita bicycle deaths than Oregon. Depends on what you mean by “best”, I guess.

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  • dwk December 18, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Nice comments, except sometimes getting lost on a bike or exploring on a bike are the reasons to ride a bike……

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    • Eric Leifsdad December 18, 2015 at 6:39 pm

      That’s a great reason, but difficult to enjoy if you need a map to find which routes won’t kill you.

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    • B. Carfree December 18, 2015 at 7:40 pm

      I do a lot of that, but I tend towards areas where the Google car hasn’t ventured. If there’s too little interest for Google, it probably has light enough traffic for me to ride without concern.

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    • El Biciclero December 19, 2015 at 11:49 am

      Agreed, but part of my point was that this very thing—wandering aimlessly, exploring by bike—is sometimes impossible because rather than merely being blissfully “lost”, you could end up in real, serious danger, map or no map.

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  • wsbob December 18, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    An indication of the relative safety of a particular road or street along a particular route from ‘a to b’, is not information I’ve particularly expected of, or relied upon bike maps to provide me with. Mostly, I look to maps to identify secondary roads and streets that will provide a through route to my destination.

    If I don’t know from past experience, that a particular road’s suitability for safe biking is lacking, it takes very little time upon arriving at the road, to decide whether to set out for an alternative route. There usually are some. There are some alternatives to Lombard. There’s some alternatives to the other popular road situation bikeportland takes exception to: Barbur Blvd.

    Blaming the map for not pointing out that a given road (which in our area is most of them.) doesn’t have motor vehicle proof barricades a guy high on pot and losing control of his car can’t drive over, doesn’t seem to be a very well thought out complaint.

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    • B. Carfree December 18, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      The stoner didn’t lose control; he did what most motorists do. Namely, he apparently stayed in his lane without registering that there was someone in front of him. He was in brain-dead car driver mode, albeit maybe more brain-dead than most. There’s not much difference between him and many other motorists. Who reads and processes a sign that says “bikes on road”?

      I don’t want separated infrastructure except in very special circumstances. However, bike lanes that drop on high speed roads are deaths waiting to happen if we should happen to have even a modicum of people on bikes. Those bike maps should be useful to people for planning trips where they haven’t been before, but they are unfortunately mostly for the purpose of PR so that cities can pretend to have a lot more bikey infrastructure than they actually do.

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      • wsbob December 19, 2015 at 12:18 pm

        “The stoner didn’t lose control; he did what most motorists do. Namely, he apparently stayed in his lane without registering that there was someone in front of him. He was in brain-dead car driver mode, albeit maybe more brain-dead than most. There’s not much difference between him and many other motorists. …” b carfree

        Possible reason the collision occurred, was in part due to his having been DUI marijuana, the person driving failed to register that there was a vehicle ahead of him…a bike with one tail light and maybe a reflector…rather than a motor vehicle with two tail lights likely much larger than a bike tail light, spaced 6′ apart, and a license plate light (though other scenarios and factors may have figured in to what caused the collision.).

        In the situation presented by the Lombard underpass bike lane to main lane transition, most people driving, not intoxicated, would likely have noticed well in advance of the underpass point of the road, that someone on a bike with a tail light, was ahead of them, and would have adjusted their vehicle’s position on the road, and, or speed, accordingly.

        …carfree…you may mean well, somehow, with your sarcastic trumped up remarks, negatively and inaccurately referring to how people on the road drive…but failing to pass up an opportunity to slam people that drive, isn’t helping anyone. It’s not providing any ideas for realistically remedying road and collision situations like this one. It’s not helping to ally the necessary philosophical and monetary support needed from many people that drive, in order to conceive, design and build better infrastructure for truly practical biking and walking.

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        • Pete December 19, 2015 at 2:53 pm

          I think you’re still discounting realistic registration and reaction times for the average driver doing a typical speed on this dark road. If my wife had been hit by that truck last week, I guarantee the average driver would be saying “What was she doing riding in the middle of the road?”. The cop who responded to Jeff Donnelly’s collision was quoted as saying “We don’t know why the bicyclist was in the middle of the lane,” even though the only way to stay in the bicycle lane is to cross the two lanes of traffic, ergo placing yourself in the middle of the lane at some instance in time.

          I didn’t read B.’s comment as particularly slamming to us drivers, but rather illustrating the relative concentration it takes to be watching for someone on the road – especially where you don’t expect them to be – even for people who do tend to pay attention.

          It also brings to mind the topic of selective attention, which I know has been brought up many times here through the years. Bicyclists tend to notice other cyclists while driving, you notice restaurants when you’re hungry (or stoned), etc.

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          • wsbob December 21, 2015 at 11:17 am

            Pete…the dude that hit Martin Greenough…was stinking high on pot…marijuana…you have noted this by now, haven’t you? SE…someone commenting to bikeportland, just reminded a reader again this morning about the observations of the police upon apprehending the person driving the motor vehicle:


            The reaction and “registration” times of the person driving that was apparently the primary cause of this collision, had gone to hell in a handbasket, because he didn’t have the strength of character to not be on the stuff while driving. Hundreds of thousands of road users, not high on one or another drug…and even some that are slightly intoxicated (though definitely not advisable.)…manage to have enough reaction and registration reflexes to do reasonably well on our country’s often less than perfect road infrastructure, avoiding collisions.

            As for B. Carfree, the person whose comment I responded to, I realize from personal info he’s included in past comments he’s posted over years, that he’s spoke out in favor of improving biking conditions in his community…Salem area or Eugene, I’m not sure which. Speaking out in favor of improved road use conditions for vulnerable road users, is good.

            Nevertheless, he seems also to be one of those types of people that can’t resist an opportunity to generally try to categorize people that drive as being bad road users. That’s not good, it’s bad…and it’s wrong, and not helpful towards building the solidarity among road users of all travel mode types, necessary to make substantial improvements and money investments accordingly, to create community planning and road infrastructure necessary to enable biking and walking to realistically be a practical means of travel in the U.S.

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            • Pete December 22, 2015 at 7:33 pm

              I certainly don’t discount the impairment, but I tend to agree with B. in that a driver doing a ‘normal’ speed on that road in the dark may not even recognize a bicycle reflector or a poor quality taillight as being a bicyclist – or even directly in their trajectory at any distance. (I note here Nathan’s great advice on to use multiple lights/modes and space them).

              (Also, I didn’t consider B.’s comments in the aggregate, just stated that it didn’t come off the same way to me… and not that your assertion or opinion is wrong).

              A few nights ago a pedestrian was hit on Senter Road in San Jose. The driver immediately stopped to help her and to wave other traffic around her, but he was unable to prevent a second driver from subsequently running over her (she died). It was late and traffic was described as light, and the road is streetlighted where they were.

              Really, we’re talking about a speed differential of maybe even 40 MPH. You could probably combine stopping distances from some car safety web site with some taillight visible distance measurements somewhere, but I’ll stick with my anecdotal experiences of being surprised by coming up on things in the dark at what I thought were reasonable (and definitely legal) speeds. These include: an elk on I-84 in Cascade Locks (??), a snowplow during blustery Chinooks (on I-84 white-knuckled in 2nd gear), a jackknifing trailer (guess where), and a deer on I-20 somewhere west of Blodgett. (I avoided hitting all of them but poor little Bambi).

              Anyway, the bottom line is that I think any bike lane that physically forces you abruptly into a lane of car traffic is completely unacceptable (and this coming from a guy with “VC” tendencies). And no, signs don’t count because for all intents and purposes they’re invisible.

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              • 9watts December 22, 2015 at 8:18 pm

                “The driver [who ran over her] immediately stopped to help her and to wave other traffic around her, but he was unable to prevent a second driver from subsequently running over her (she died).”

                Hard to think of anything more awful. What is wrong with people!?

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              • Pete December 23, 2015 at 11:56 am

                “Hard to think of anything more awful.”

                I forgot to mention that the second driver left the scene and police are still looking for a silver 4-door Saturn.

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    • Pete December 18, 2015 at 9:25 pm

      I would agree if we were certain this was a driver who misdirected his vehicle as a result of being stoned, but I’ve been in enough roadway situations while driving to think that you or I may have just as easily come upon this fellow in an unexpected position and maybe not stopped in time.

      I can point you to a popular bike route in Palo Alto, CA where you descend a hill to the right of 50 MPH traffic and are quickly presented with the choice of merging onto an interstate highway or crossing over those two lanes of speeding traffic to remain in the marked bike lane. I had forewarned a Portland cycling friend and instructed him exactly how to traverse those lanes with me, but he got stuck at the bottom of the hill and was boggled that such a thing would be allowed – and he’s no timid or inexperienced cyclist (much like the one who was killed riding here last month).

      Same thing with Lombard. If you’re riding along in the dark and are unexpectedly forced into the traffic lane – especially if you ride at a decent clip – then you’ve got a legitimate beef. When you’re on ‘foreign turf’ such a thing can completely take you by surprise (like the last time I rode in San Diego and almost wound up on I-5 in order to dodge being run down).

      Last week my wife was cycling on Foothill Expressway near Los Altos – probably the most cycled route in this area. While going downhill under a bridge under construction, the cones had been placed directly on the lane line so she had to take the (one) lane. While going uphill on the other side, she heard a truck bearing down on her hard, and then saw it in her mirror. She rode through the cones and off the roadway to avoid being hit, escaping with just minor scrapes to her shifter and elbow. The cones were improperly placed, which I verified with the county project manager, and she could have lost her life as a result. 50 versus ~9 – now tell me if you think he could have stopped in time…

      Infrastructure does indeed communicate expectations, and along with those expectations comes some responsibility for proper communications.

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    • GlowBoy December 21, 2015 at 12:01 pm

      Bob, El Biciclero isn’t blaming the map.

      He’s blaming the fact that a map is necessary.

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      • El Biciclero December 21, 2015 at 12:33 pm

        Thank you.

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  • Mike G
    Mike G December 19, 2015 at 11:14 am

    A calculated sense of velocity, surfaces, space, and simultaneous movement are critical to biking, driving, walking, jogging and truck driving. This applies to everything on the road.

    Protect the right of way of everyone else, and maintain a good exit strategy.

    “…or you could die.”

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  • Joe December 19, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Lotta roads seem to have same disconnect.:( anyone downtown Thursday see the gridlock? Crazy backed up every street ppl driving like mad ppl

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    • Pete December 19, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      ‘Tis the season. Heck, you ought to see Californians trying to drive in the rain down here!

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      • B. Carfree December 20, 2015 at 4:53 pm

        And you should see Oregonians trying to drive in the rain up here. I know when the rain starts because the ambulance pulls out of the nearby fire station and starts the siren en route to a car crash on the nearby expressway.

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  • Jo December 19, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    This terrible incident has disturbed me greatly. I follow the PDX bike community on social media and I have visited Portland a lot, but I just can’t ever biked there again. I hear too much about cyclists injured, killed or harassed while biking around town . I did visit once with my bike (on the bus), and was so terrified downtown that I ended up pushing it on the sidewalk instead of riding it. I had a pocket size bike map with me, but what was on the map did not match street traffic. I want to return, I really do. Maybe someday, or not. I feel so sad for this man and his family. It could happen to any of us. He is “Every Biker.”

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    • wsbob December 21, 2015 at 10:50 am

      Jo…where Martin Greenough was riding, is far from Downtown Portland or riding conditions typical of Downtown or its close in neighborhoods. Exactly why you found the prospect of riding in Downtown on your visit, to be terrifying, I’m not sure from your comment. Many people ride downtown and in close in neighborhoods, and manage alright. Next time you come out, introduce yourself to some of them…maybe they’ll be willing to give you some tips for safe riding, and show you around.

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    • soren December 21, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      These unnecessary deaths get more attention here because Portland’s bike advocacy and bike culture is robust, not because they happen more here than elsewhere.

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  • eddie December 19, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    I don’t know how many people will agree with this, but there is no way of telling if the marijuana was even a factor here. It’s easy to blame the weed but the fact is, drivers are easily distracted by anything, at any time. He might have been glancing at his phone or the stereo or even the rearview mirror. Maybe he was daydreaming.

    The fact is, he killed the guy because he was in a car. An inherently dangerous contraption. A 2000 lb hunk of steel traveling at a speed which can easily kill someone in a split second.

    And folks will counter this however they please, but the fact is and will always be, CARS ARE THE PROBLEM.

    I don’t care how great a driver you are, or how sober you are, or how “safe” you are, you are risking all of our lives by driving, and there will be another death soon enough, we all know this.

    And it will be the fault of whoever chose to drive that day, because they made the decision to pollute the environment and endanger human life, period.

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  • Tom December 20, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Does Portland have a bike ambassador/guide program to help newbies find the best routes. I know they have one for road side assistance, but is there one to help guide people on the best way to get to their work, sneak up behind the local business district, and get the local grocery store. This could usually all be done in one ride together with a local volunteer guide. It could be requested that the newbie then pay it forward by participating in any one of a list of volunteer opportunities. One method of outreach for the program might be bike store point of sale for new bikes. Maybe combine with point of sale bike registration program. When the bike store hands over your new bike, they would say here is your free online registration stickers…its all set up already….and here is the contact info for your local guide.

    I only wonder if such a program might have helped that poor fellow.

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  • Mark December 20, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Odot has a get out of jail free card. The cannabis. Now they can forever blame their cyclist killing underpass on a plant that predates the bad design by quite a few years.

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    • wsbob December 21, 2015 at 10:36 am

      “…cyclist killing underpass…” mark

      That’s imaginative. The ol’ underpass just ‘reaches out and grabs people on bikes, and kills them.’? Though this section of Lombard has some less than desirable infrastructure for riding, hundreds of thousands of people driving and people riding, have passed along it without injury or fatality inflicted upon each other. So, a guy bombed on pot, and with a kid riding alongside him in the car, decides he’s in ok shape to drive his car: But because the pot has him not able to make out the road ahead and what’s on it, clearly…bam-m-m!. …he drives right into some guy on a bike.

      When you set out on the road, if you hope to live another day, have the pot out of your system if you’re going to use the road driving a vehicle, be it motor vehicle or bike. Blaming even less than desirable road infrastructure, for the failings of people unwilling or unable to be responsible in their use of intoxicating substances, is not make the situation better.

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  • SE December 21, 2015 at 8:45 am

    I don’t know how many people will agree with this, but there is no way of telling if the marijuana was even a factor here. It’s easy to blame the weed but the fact is, drivers are easily distracted by anything, at any time. He might have been glancing at his phone or the stereo or even the rearview mirror. .Recommended 6

    hmmm …. your guess seems to be at odds with what the Police observed

    “Kenneth Britt Smith, a motorist accused of striking and killing a bicyclist in Northeast Portland Saturday night, smelled of burnt marijuana, appeared slow and lethargic and had bloodshot watery eyes and droopy eyelids, according to court reports.”

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  • Mike Reams December 21, 2015 at 8:50 am

    This is a great comment. One thing I’ve thought about for a couple of years now is that if I need to get from point A to point B, I can simply get in my car and take the easiest, shortest, most direct route and not even have to think about it.

    If I’m on my bike, I have to sit an plan out which route to take. This route is simpler and more direct but, also more dangerous. This route is pretty good but, there is a lot of backtracking. This route is probably shorter but, I’m not familiar with it and I’m not sure I’ll be able to follow all the twists and turns.

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  • paikiala December 21, 2015 at 10:05 am

    I agree that a compelling tag line can be created from the statement from el B that could help non-bikers have an AH HA! moment.
    I also think the frustration needs some context.

    While it is true that bike riders were the first to lobby for better roads in the US, that level of use has been far surpassed by the auto users. The neglect of bike infrastructure over the last 100 years has essentially reset bike infrastructure back to zero in most cities. The current resurgence in bike use that is going on 20 years is akin to when cars first began to appear and become popular. And when cars first began to use roads in numbers, their drivers also needed maps to find their way around and plan trips of a scale similar to cyclist crossing a city.

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    • El Biciclero December 21, 2015 at 10:59 am

      I hear what you’re saying, and my beef is not necessarily with maps, per se, but with the high level of a priori information needed by a bicyclist to get from A to B efficiently and safely, whether that comes from maps, word-of-mouth, car-scouting, dry runs at non-peak hours, whatever. Comparing to Ye Olden Dayes can add perspective, but it would seem that the adventuresome drivers of yore would be consulting maps to see whether roads even existed, rather than whether bears were going to jump out and eat you if you drove in some particular place.

      The fix we are in today makes me think more of a person who has racked up a ton of credit card debt and is barely making the minimum payments because they don’t want to free up cash to pay it down by giving up cable TV, opera tickets, unlimited data plans, Starbucks every day, or…reducing the number of cars and the amount of driving they pay for. Transpo agencies have been complicit in pandering to the all-too-real customer demand for better motorized access to everything (for which demand I place a huge amount of blame on automakers, from yore to the present), to the exclusion of all else. Now, it appears to most people that to create safe “alternative” transportation infrastructure, it would be a giant take-back from the poor folks who are barely able to creep to work and back in their cars because of all the other folks who are attempting to barely creep to work and back in their cars, and freight—won’t somebody think of the freight!? Now I know, as wsbob likes to remind us, that “most people” still drive cars, and roads just have to built with the majority in mind, and the lion’s share of dollars have to be spent on majority interests, and so on, but when people like Martin Greenough get killed because of inconsistent infrastructure with surprise pitfalls all over the place, are we just going to shrug and say, “shucks, that’s too bad”? Or are we going to give up some figurative double mocha caramel macchiatos?

      Basically, we’ve just let things get so far out of hand, from infrastructure, to “customer” expectations, to lack of laws and enforcement, to creeping driving privilege entitlement, to the very design of urban/suburban neighborhoods, that it has become a monumental task to now climb out from under the mountain of transportation system “debt” we are under. Meanwhile, the penalty for late payments is covered by people like Martin Greenough.

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      • Eric Leifsdad December 22, 2015 at 7:04 pm

        If we actually spent according to the mode share we want: (25%, or maybe just even the 7% share we already have), the bike infrastructure would be done in under a year.

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        • El Biciclero December 22, 2015 at 10:43 pm

          Wouldn’t that be nice?

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  • SE December 21, 2015 at 10:06 am

    I consult maps before riding to a new place not for safety, but for efficiency. IF i make a bad turn in the car, it’s fairly fast to correct it.
    On the bike it can be longer/more complicated.

    My 2 main bikes are Randonneurs (kind of “Safari” in French) but I try not too get too far off the best path.

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  • SE December 21, 2015 at 10:22 am

    The fact is, he killed the guy because he was in a car. An inherently dangerous contraption. A 2000 lb hunk of steel traveling at a speed which can easily kill someone in a split second.Recommended 6

    I’m not picking on you eddie, but you are way off on the weight.

    2000 Ford Crown Victoria/Curb weight

    3,917 to 3,927 lbs

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    • GlowBoy December 21, 2015 at 12:04 pm

      The average passenger car is now back up around two tons. It was around that weight for quite a few years, then dropped well down into the 3000s during the 80s and 90s, but last I heard it was back up around 4000 again.

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  • GlowBoy December 21, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    El Biciclero could not be more right. Like many others here, if I’m planning on riding to a part of town I haven’t been to before (or not recently) I spend a bunch of time poring over multiple maps – since no one map has fully accurate* information – to figure out the best route. It’s really sad that I should have to do this, and I can’t even imagine the number of hours I have spent. It’s a much larger fraction of the number of hours I’ve spent riding than I’d like, that’s for sure.

    And even then, sometimes the information is wrong or I haven’t followed it correctly, and I find myself in a dangerous spot, surrounded by angry traffic. Haven’t we all been in this “oh shit!” situation, and either turned back or put the hammer down and cranked through a dangerous stretch while we prayed under our breath?

    The reason we need to check maps beforehand is not just that so many routes are dangerous for us and if we choose wrongly we could end up dead, but that we can’t rely on on-the-ground information to find a safe way. Way too many routes, and especially junctions between routes, are unmarked or poorly marked. Even if you try to follow most of Portland’s official bikeways end to end by relying solely on signs and pavement markings, you are likely to lose the route at some point. You have GOT to use a map.

    Yes, yes I know there are a few S&F types that are comfortable on nearly any road and don’t feel the need to preplan their routes. Goody for you; don’t shame the rest of us for exercising more caution about playing amongst the careening blocks of steel.

    * Ahh, soo many maps! In Portland I mostly use the city bike map (loaded into my Bike Maps smartphone app) when I’m in the city limits, but revert to the Bike There! map in the suburbs. Same problem here in Minneapolis: I use the pretty-good city maps within the city limits, but the available maps for suburbia (and St. Paul) are woefully outdated, especially with the enormous gains we’re making every year in infrastructure. A 3 year old map is about as informative as a newspaper from last spring.

    I still use Google Maps a lot because of its routing capabilities, but its actual bike-route information is spotty and I often have to override its decisions based on knowledge in my brain or from other maps. Sometimes it will send me down a dashed-line route that turns out to be a stroad even an S&Fer would question (meanwhile, other dashed-line routes are beautiful and should be solid green). It has the opposite problem too, often failing to route me on awesome bike lanes and trails that have been there for a year or two (or longer). I would guess Google is missing at least a third of the bike routes we have here.

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  • davemess December 21, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Good comment. I think one thing that is getting lost though, regarding the recent death, is the disappearing bike lane.

    For most roads it’s pretty easy to get a feel for whether the road is safe.
    For me, if I’m in an area I don’t know, I go through a quick checklist.
    1. Is this a busy road or an arterial?
    2. Does it have any bike facilities?
    3. Do I see other cyclists on it.

    I think most cyclists can go a block or two on 82nd, 39th, or Foster and know that they probably want to find another route.

    I agree that it is frustrating that cycling routes aren’t more ubiquitous.

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  • mark December 21, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    The thing about this underpass is that there is no choice. At the very least, for the most part, a cyclist can leave the road and jump on the sidewalk if things get dicey. On this underpass…ODOT didn’t feel it needed to give a cyclist a choice. And to double down, they threw in guardrails on either side.

    Something as simple as a choice…wasn’t considered.

    It’s insane that we have to consult maps like intrepid explorers with the nina, pinta and the santa maria.

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