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The Monday Roundup: Urban alleys, collision readiness & more

Posted by on July 18th, 2016 at 9:53 am

alley

An alley in Edinburgh: just another name for a human-scale street.
(Photo: Byronv2)

— This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by Hassalo on Eighth, Portland’s new neighborhood now leasing in the Lloyd District.

Here are the bike-related links from around the world that caught our eyes this week:

Urban alleys: They’re narrow. They’re non-uniform. They’re underrated public spaces.

Collision text: If you’re ever in a traffic crash, having this text in your notes app might be a good way to avoid forgetting to gather important details as your body escapes shock.

Efficient chain: The “ultra-low-friction” one used by the American team on the Tour de France can allegedly cut 2 to 5 watts off a bicycle’s operating cost.

Second fatality: A 49-year-old Vancouver man who killed a man with his car on a local highway Wednesday told officers he “could not believe” that he had done this for the second time in 25 months.

Low-stress prosperity: “Pedaling through Copenhagen, I saw that safety is just the baseline benefit of world-class cycling infrastructure,” writes Boston council president Michelle Wu after returning from a study tour there.

Bed-Stuy bike sharing: Citi Bike usage has risen fast in the heavily black and Latino Brooklyn neighborhood, possibly due to targeted outreach efforts.

Bike sharing as transit: A co-branded system (you can unlock bikes with your transit card) seems to be part of its rapid early success in Helsinki.

Bike toll: A new bridge in Maryland charges each bike the same $8 toll as a car. It doesn’t have bike lanes.

Wilderness biking: Utah Sen. Mike Lee has introduced a bill to give “local federal officials” authority to make decisions about nonmotorized access to wilderness areas.

Airbnb for camping: A local “land sharing” startup helps people rent parts of their private land to bikepackers and other people passing through.

Vehicular cycling: The well-intentioned philosophy of putting bikes in the same lanes as cars “had 40 years to prove itself, and it’s now time to move on,” writes Tom Babin in a commentary about downtown Los Angeles’s first protected bike lane.

Blocking freeways: They’ve become “scenes of protest” but they’re also “part of the oppression,” writes Emily Badger in the Washington Post.

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Pokémon Go: “This app will probably get more kids riding bikes than all the articles we’ve written on the health benefits of commuting to school combined,” writes Bicycling Magazine.

Density game: Playing Pokémon in the suburbs sorta sucks.

Longer walks: A Connecticut school district is expanding elementary school walk distances from 1 mile to 1.5 to save money on buses.

Presumed liability: A biking advocate in Scotland’s parliament wants his country’s justice system to presume people driving cars are liable for collisions unless they can prove otherwise.

Collision blame: After a new collision involving Tesla’s autopilot was reported, founder Elon Musk wrote that his team “don’t mind taking the heat for customer safety. It is the right thing to do.”

Harder driving test: Washington state’s is going from 25 questions to 40 and adding questions about distracted driving and marijuana.

Road-rage shooting: An Olympia man allegedly opened fire on a man who allegedly broke the man’s window with his skateboard after a right-of-way dispute.

2.8 percent: That’s how many respondents to a AAA survey admitted to intentionally hitting another car with theirs. Including other actions such as honking in anger, 78 percent of people copped to at least one “aggressive driving behavior” in the last year.

Unpaving: Montpelier, Vermont, cut its road maintenance budget by almost 10 percent in 2009 by becoming one of a growing number of cities that are converting selected streets to gravel.

Neighborhood associations: Seattle’s mayor wants to scrap their channel of power in the city’s government, calling them “narrow” and “niche” organizations, and create a new “community involvement commission” that’ll aim for more diversity.

“Best” Broadway: Willamette Week’s Best of Portland issue recalled the “magical week in May” when Better Block PDX converted one passing lane on Broadway to a protected bike lane as the “Pop-Up Future” of the area.

Carbon price: Canada will be charging a penalty for activities that contribute to global warming by year’s end, its environment minister says.

Gorge winds: The one-mile stretch just east of Hood River where the wind pedals for you is the best part of the new Historical Columbia River Highway State Trail, writes Al Thomas.

If you come across a noteworthy bicycle story, send it in via email, Tweet @bikeportland, or whatever else and we’ll consider adding it to next Monday’s roundup.

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

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Dan A
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Dan A

“Longer walks” won’t work, unless the school district takes an aggressive approach to make it harder for parents to drive. At our school, even with 40-50% walk/bike rate, I hear from parents who are nearly a mile from school who won’t let their kids walk because they feel it’s too far. Put the line at 1.5 miles and you’ll just have more people driving to school. Way to pass the buck.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

I don’t see this as passing the buck, I see it as the school district doing what it can in a positive way. It’s got to start somewhere. If the bus is picking kids up who are right next door, there’s going to be no one walking, and thus no parent will let their child walk or ride a bike to school. Often, just a few influential families on foot or bike can provide enough incentive to get others to follow them.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

This doesn’t have anything to do with kids who are right next door, who are already without bus service. This is for kids between 1 mile and 1.5 miles away, who are much more unlikely to be walking.

PNP
Subscriber

They might save money on buses, but they will have increased car traffic. The last two neighborhoods I’ve lived in (including the current one), both very walkable neighborhoods, have twice daily traffic jams because parents don’t/won’t let their little darlings walk to school. In my previous neighborhood, the school was a block and a half away, and the woman across the street drove her kids to and from school every day. It makes no sense.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Exactly; it’s not about the distance, it’s about the perceived danger of letting children walk on the streets (by both cars and predators).

Adam
Subscriber

“You can’t walk to school because there’s too many cars! We’d better drive our car instead.”

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Close the streets to cars for 1 block in all directions before and after school except for residents and handicap/special access. (Granted, that wouldn’t stop the mother who drives the escalade across the street.)

As for predators, I think the two pictures here say it all: http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2015/06/bsnyc-friday-fun-quiz.html “…by teaching your kids that drivers are out to get them, you’re automatically protecting them from abductors as well, because if someone’s going to abduct your kid I guarantee they’re going to use a motor vehicle to do it. That’s why you’ve heard of a “rape van” but you’ve never heard of a “rape bakfiets”.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Two years ago we had a sit-down with our elementary school principal and Kevin Sutherland, the Beaverton School District Director of Public Safety and Law Enforcement Agency. Our school only allows students to enter through the one main front door, even though the vast majority of our walkers come from the opposite side of the school, so we were there to ask about them providing access through the back door, which is almost directly opposite the main door. That door is only locked for 15 minutes a day: during the morning arrival.

Their position was that it’s impossible for them to manage TWO entrances instead of one (though the one entrance is hardly monitored at all). Apparently they believe it’s safer to have kids walk another 1/4 mile around the building and past the 100 cars in the parking lot and parking lot drive thru.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

It’s frustrating to deal with car-addicted fools like that. They have such a narrow view of the world.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Really, they should have the dropped-off kids walk around to the pedestrian entrance. That makes a lot more sense.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I would have proposed that, but my wife wouldn’t let me come off like a complete loon. The principal gets to park 30 feet from the front door and we’d be asking HER to walk around!

Adam
Subscriber

Also the way PPS draws their school boundaries don’t take walking into account. For example, the Creston boundary requires kids to cross Powell Boulevard, even though Atkinson would be a safer and more pleasant walk through the park.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

BSD has been talking about changing boundaries, and I suspect one of the changes they have been proposing is so that kids won’t have to cross Bethany, which will then allow the county to raise the speed limit there.

Racer X
Guest
Racer X

Plus the push for buses as transport comes from the school administrators…and other staff (bus drivers, coaches, etc.)…since there is an established earmark for this and often not a pool of transportation money for more flexible use to support ALL transportation modes. Most if not all schools have a maximum radius where no students will be bused…and typically there are no school funds used to facilitate these trips once the students leave the school frontage. Its the ‘military [school-bus] industrial complex’.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

When our bus service was cut for 300+ students last year, I was surprised at how fast they came up with money to restripe the parking lot to make car dropoff flow smoother, per the principal’s request. Yet there was no money to improve the walking path to school, which is underwater during the rainy months. Our kids’ bikes come home looking like they just completed a cyclocross race.

Dave
Guest
Dave

I would think that posting police to ambush cell phone-driving parents would be a great way for a town to raise some money, have ’em stake out the grade schools at 9AM. The number of parents being willing to chaeuffer their kids is absurd–my younger sister and I walked to grade school in Hollywood, CA in the 1960’s and 70’s. If there’s anything better for a growing human spirit than cycling it’s walking and we are depriving children terribly this way.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Per a Danish study in 2012 of 20,000 kids, those who walked or biked to school “performed measurably better on tasks demanding concentration, such as solving puzzles, and that the effects lasted for up to four hours after they got to school”. http://www.citylab.com/commute/2013/02/kids-who-walk-or-bike-school-concentrate-better-study-shows/4585/

Considering the strong effect this could have on education, one solution might be to mandate that kids walk or bike a half a mile before entering the classroom. If their parents drive them, they need to show up early so they can walk or bike around the school track.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

A mile is already further than most kids are going to transport themselves to school, realistically. Expanding the cutoff to 1.5 miles is just stupid.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Right, it’s purely driven by money, nothing else. Kids further than 1 mile who want to walk can already do so — they don’t HAVE to get on the bus.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Maybe the schools could require a certain amount of extra-curricular phys-ed credit for elementary schoolers, and walking/biking to/from school a certain number of times could satisfy that requirement.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

We’re trying to make friends with our new principal now, and get her on board with encouraging kids to walk & bike. It sounds like she wants to get on board, but is afraid of making enemies right off the bat, because expecting kids to walk/bike to school is so ‘controversial’.

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

I work with a guy in Switzerland that say the kids can’t arrive at school in cars. Everyone walks or rides.

School Choice shot us in the foot (in more than one way). We gave parents a reason that they “have” to drive their kids to school.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Wow, The guy who killed two pedestrians in less than 3 years is the perfect example of why we should take the drivers licenses away from motorized killers forever after the first incident. He should never have been allowed back on the roads to kill again.

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

The second guy was jogging on Interstate 5 in the middle of the night. Not a place a pedestrian is expected to be.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

chances are the jogger was well to the side from the fog line. the driver was in all likelyhood using the fog line as a traffic lane line because it was solid.

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord
James Sherbondy
Guest
James Sherbondy

According to the story in the O, the jogger was in the 2nd from right Northbound lane.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Outrunning headlights is a national past time here. I’ve lost track of the number of times people have complained about deer “jumping out in front of their cars”, like they have some kind of suicide wish. They don’t really get it when I explain the physics of the collision: the deer is moving at a few mph, your car is going 70mph at night on a narrow road…

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Deer do sometimes panic and react to headlights by jumping into the road. I’ve had this problem a couple of times when I was outrunning the headlights on my bicycle. I really need to learn to slow down when I’m riding through wooded areas.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Oh deer! We should make them all wear hi-viz clothing.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Believe me, I’ve tried. The deer claim it violates union rules, but I’m a bit skeptical. I think it’s more a vanity thing.

colton
Guest
colton

This deer thing is getting tiresome. I’ve hit a deer in broad daylight. Her feet never even touched the pavement as she jumped off a hillside from a behind a rock. If I had been there just a second beforehand, the deer would have landed on my hood. I would have needed to be going about 20 mph on a state highway to avoid the collision.

I’ve had friends who’ve had deer literally run into the sides of their cars.

I’ve had other friends who have hit deer with their bikes (in broad daylight) and had my own close calls.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Okay, forget the deer. Michael Bret Lewis was mowed down on TV Highway while standing still in the middle of the road.

http://bikeportland.org/2011/02/12/man-killed-while-bicycling-on-tv-hwy-in-beaverton-47839

He didn’t jump in front of the driver — he was there the whole time.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The circumstances of that first crash would be critical to deciding if the driver’s license should have been suspended or revoked after that event. It is entirely possible that in the first incident, the driver was not at fault.

I do not believe in punishing people (even drivers) without some judicial process that determines fault and assigns blame.

If the driver was at fault in either incident, he should never drive again.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

It’s hard to know for sure if he was at fault in the first crash.

“The driver stayed at the scene and no criminality is suspected”

Basically, unless you are drunk, street racing, or flee the scene, you will never see jail time in this country for killing a pedestrian, even if you failed to yield and had reasonable time to stop.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

That may be true, but, from the facts presented, we have no way of knowing if your comment is relevant in this case.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Just like we have no way of knowing if there is any prejudice involved when a cop shoots a black driver.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Well, actually, you don’t. Facts are important.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Right, it’s probably all coincidence. One coincidental shooting after another. I’m sure there’s nothing to it.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

It’s hard to tell without looking at the facts, isn’t it?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

From Jonathan’s story on Michael Bret Lewis:

“I am very puzzled by the police statement. The language seems to be very geared toward absolving the motor vehicle operator for any responsibility in the crash whatsoever. There are a lot of unanswered questions here.”

WE seem to be concerned with learning the facts, but in crash after crash, I don’t see a lot to convince me that the police are interested in learning the facts. It’s more like, “It was probably just a harmless accident….let’s see what evidence we can scrape together to explain why the driver failed to see a human in the roadway.”

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I am very concerned with imposing punishments on people without due process. If you enjoy your freedoms, you would be too.

That concern supercedes almost all others.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Where is the due process for the victim when the police are unable to determine whether or not a cyclist ‘could have been seen’? Or when a pair of cyclists are run down on a long straight road by a driver who claims that sun glare prevented him from seeing them? Or when a driver claims that he thought a red light was actually green as he mows down 4 people directly in front of him in a crosswalk. The ‘investigations’ and ‘gathering of facts’ that lead to ‘justice’ in many of these cases are a farce.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

For better or worse, those questions are not well answered by our system of justice. Due process must ALWAYS trump expediency; that’s a foundational element of our democracy.

Adam
Subscriber

I love that the Black Lives Matter protesters take over urban highways. In the US, urban highways were nearly universally built in low-income black neighborhoods and ended up severing or destroying these tight-knit communities. Urban highways are a very tangible and visible symbol of racism and it’s hugely symbolic for a group fighting racism to take the highways.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

Coincidentally, I believe the end of this freeway-induced neighborhood disruption started in Boston, when the proposed freeway was going to affect a white neighborhood. Just a coincidence, I’m sure (not).

Adam
Subscriber

Portland too. The one urban highway we managed to build (not counting I-84 since it was mostly built in an existing gulch) went right through the black neighborhoods of Albina and along the Williams corridor. (And that’s not even including the further destruction from the build out of Memorial Coliseum). It wasn’t until the Mount Hood Freeway was proposed through the white Richmond neighborhood that the government backed down on their plans.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

And don’t forget I-205… right through the future home of Chinatown. No white people out there, either.

lop
Guest
lop

South Portland full of Irish, Italians, and Jews wasn’t white? What counts as white?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

People living in Richmond?

Dave
Guest
Dave

The excuse used was a dangerous old word–“blight.” Blight is in the eye of the developer or speculator.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

A good example of a freeway built in the 1960’s to divide black beighborhoods from white ones: I-5 thru Portland’s north side. Also, it’s not just protesters who block freeways. What’s the first thing the military revels did in Isranbul? Blocked the freeway leading to the bridge over the Bosphorous in both directions with tanks, then rebel aircraft strafed civilians trying to cross that bridge on foot. Some 60 unarmed civilians were killed that way.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

The Highway Take-Over brings a powerfull new dimension to all kinds of protests over Racial Justice, Social Justice, Climate Change, Environmental Degradation, Oil Transport and Peace. The urban highway is a symbol of business as usual in all these areas, as well as a critical chokepoint in keeping the systems going that prevent change. I think this is a harbinger of the future, much to the chagrin of those who have hooked their lives to the automobile.

Paul Wilkins
Guest
Paul Wilkins

As I have recently become a mostly-auto commuter, I’ve become acutely aware of the economic impact when highways are not smoothly flowing. This type of action kicks us in the pocketbook, where time is money. As an old-school direct action activist, I enthusiastically support this tactic and would love to see it spread.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Re: L.A. article – I think it’s time for everyone to realize that moving people in crowded urban areas has become a zero sum game. In order to accommodate more people (via mass transit, bike, walking), someone is going to loose ground. Yeah, I’m looking at you, drivers! Whether the re-prioritizing happens or not is another matter, but we need to face the fact that we can’t fit everyone unless the cars give it up.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

While this may be true in some cases, it’s not true in all. Who, for example, lost out on closing the “Naito Gap”? By all accounts, drivers haven’t been delayed by the new bike lanes.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

There have been additional backups in the southbound direction, but they are minimal.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

I don’t mind paying bridge tolls, though they should be somewhat related to damage (notice there is an escalating toll based on axle number, so that’s pretty normal if imperfect). However, if I’m going to pay much more per pound of vehicle, I expect to at least have full access to the bridge. The Maryland bridge that charges people on bikes $8 also restricts their use to 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, a mere one-fourth of the day.

I guess this sort of backwards thinking should be expected of a Southern state, but I had hoped for more from the northernmost Southern state.

Spiffy
Subscriber

it’s not even based on per axle, it’s based on the number of tires on one side of your vehicle… per axle was back when all cars had a single axle through both wheels… today many cars have 4 axles, one at each wheel… yet we’re not paying the price for a 4-axle vehicle any more than a tricycle will have to pay a 3-axle price…

technology has outpaced us again… we should defer to weight…

I had to pay the same amount crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on a Vespa scooter that a 6,000 lb SUV has to pay…

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Man, and I thought $2 for the Canby ferry was a ripoff…

Serious question: in the case of this bridge in Maryland, how are these tolls collected? If you rode around a gate at a toll booth, would they chase you down? It sounds like a good case for large-scale civil disobedience…

Champs
Guest
Champs

Between the fact that it’s 30 miles outside the Baltimore metro fringes and the conditions on Street View, I wouldn’t expect many takers on that bridge—neither for the hour, nor the $8 saved with an off-camber bypass of the toll plaza. Ahem.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

I’m not impressed with the faux obituary of vehicular cycling. To begin with, right out of the box the author makes a false claim. Even in states with “far right as practicable” (FRAP) on the books, most of the road miles involve explicit exceptions. The most common exception is that the travel lane is too narrow for a motorist to safely pass a cyclist within the lane, which creates an explicit exception to FRAP and is generally thought to be anything narrower than fourteen feet.

Moving on, t1974 is stil the record year for cycling sales (probably fair to assume record sales correlated with record ridership). That just happens to be in the early years of Forrester’s vehicular cycling proposals. Not coincidentally, Davis, CA had bike modal shares from the mid-’70s to the late-’80s that crush anything achieved in segregation-oriented cities. Interestingly, Davis saw a massive decline in bike use once it began building extensive segregated infrastructure. I believe a big part of this is that one cannot effectively ride a bike without being at least somewhat proficient at riding vehicularly, since there is not going to be a completely segregated grid in our lifetimes. Thus, insisting that cycling without segregation is too dangerous is a sure way to maintain low ridership.

I can see why people in Oregon think poorly of modern vehicular cycling, which involves an acceptance of bike lanes. I believe this animosity comes from the extremely poor job that transportation departments in Oregon have done in building bike lanes. They are generally too narrow, poor pavement, too crowned and in the door zones. If this was all there was on offer, I’d probably advocate for segregation too. As it is, I mostly choose roads without bike lanes because they are safer

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Which is why cycling modal share is so much higher in cities that have no bike lanes, right?

Pete
Guest
Pete

I was surprised at cyclist Tom Babin’s seemingly black-and-white take on the end of vehicular cycling. Even the title proclaims that the practice pits bike against cars, as the reality is that vc is best practiced by putting bikes with cars. I suppose you can argue that VC as a mindset/religion may be different than vc as a practice, but I rarely find routes that don’t force me to use some aspect of mixing with traffic – especially in California where even with marked bike lanes you merge at every intersection!

On narrow roadways, and at speeds of 25 MPH or lower, or on descents where I’m often outpacing cars especially around corners, or where I can’t take a box left, or in a place where cars turn right while I go straight… none of these demand that separated facilities not be a solution to the safety or mode share adoption challenges. I guess I just consider myself a vehicular cyclist and not a Vehicular Cyclist.

The irony is that the cyclist in Babin’s picture isn’t even practicing the type of riding that Babin is referencing!

Adam
Subscriber

Except that vehicular cycling does not work when you can only hit a top speed of 15 mph (and around 5 mph uphill)

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

You mean like in downtown, where those stupid traffic lights keep slowing me down?

Adam
Subscriber

The difference there is the cars are also slowed down (though that doesn’t stop them from trying to pass me at every intersection). Try VC’ing uphill on Division on a 40 pound city bike and report back on how that goes.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

How do they pass you at the intersection if you are in the center of your lane? I don’t think this has ever happened to me, despite riding through downtown daily for over a decade.

As I said in my post, different situations call for different solutions. But on Division, there is no alternative to VCing… the roadway isn’t wide enough for people to pass unless the oncoming lane is clear.

Adam
Subscriber

They zoom around me mid-block so they can be first in line at the next light. Another reason we don’t need three-lane one-way streets downtown.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

That’s interesting… I tend to zoom around them. On balance, maybe it evens out 🙂

Adam
Subscriber

Not so easy riding uphill on SW Broadway. I take the rightmost car lane there because the bike lane is a joke, and the roadway is so empty most of the time that drivers just have free reign of any lane they choose. Drivers often cut me off at intersections so they don’t have to be #2 in line behind another driver in the middle lane. Every single avenue downtown (excluding the bus mall and park blocks) needs to be put on a road diet.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I usually take the left lane to, you know, prepare for my upcoming left turn. I will NOT ride to the right of a right-turning vehicle, even though I have the ROW.

Spiffy
Subscriber

“How do they pass you at the intersection if you are in the center of your lane?”

dangerously… well, that’s how they pass me… driving into the parking lane while accelerating quickly… into oncoming traffic… in the bus mall restricted lanes… cutting off the driver in the lane next to them… you show a driver 25 feet of empty space and they’ll force their way in there with no regard to anyone’s safety…

anything is better than being stuck behind a bike while still going the same speed as the car in front of that bike…

Adam
Subscriber

I can’t even count how many times someone has driven on the MAX tracks to pass me – some even when a train was a block behind!

soren
Subscriber

VC is an ideology that promotes the idea that people should ride in a vehicular manner. It is not synonymous with riding in the lane — something that people did for generations long before Forester wrote his car-centric cycling treatise. When I ride in the lane I often do the opposite of what VC cycling education (League of American Bicyclists, Cycling Savvy) prescribes.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

And, like most ideologies, it’s ridiculous when applied universally without respect to context. As are those who denounce it universally (as opposed to its universality).

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

You know, they make lighter bikes that are much faster and more efficient. 🙂

BB
Guest
BB

Faster doesn’t always equate to higher efficiency..

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Well, I only have so much power to apply. If I apply that power to my cruiser bike, I don’t go as far as when I apply it to my road bike. How are you measuring efficiency?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Personally, I find the whole VC debate borderline ridiculous. Of course there are times/places where separated facilities are safest; there are other times where mixing with auto traffic is safer. This is such a context-sensitive question that any blanket statement is ludicrous.

So I take this “debate” as seriously as I take schisms over who has the purer set of beliefs in other arenas. Which is to say, not much.

Just don’t ride on the frickin’ sidewalk!!!!

Adam
Subscriber

I will absolutely ride on the sidewalk if I don’t feel safe in the roadway.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

And we pedestrians thank you.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

The don’t-ride-on-sidewalks argument might work in the protected little bubble of central Portland, where car speeds are low and bike infrastructure is everywhere, but if you ride in the stroad-laced suburbs very much you will often find yourself riding on sidewalks (or, here in MN, on MUPs that have pedestrian-style crossings of the stroads) a lot. If you want to live to see your next birthday, anyway.

Adam
Subscriber

Yep. I ride on the sidewalks around Nike as well as on SE Foster. I rarely ran into people walking, so it wasn’t an issue.

Spiffy
Subscriber

hello to a fellow SE Foster sidewalk rider…

although I do try and go in the street if traffic isn’t too bad… but usually only for a few blocks…

always doing the last 3 blocks to Bar Carlo on the tandem on the sidewalk though…

looking forward to those bike lanes!

Adam
Subscriber

The sidewalks on Foster are depressingly desolate, especially the stretch from 50th to 60th. Though, I was excited to see so many people out on Foster during last week’s art/bar crawl! Hopefully a vision of great things to come to the neighborhood! Those bike lanes and road diet will definitely be an improvement, though it’s disapointing that something better than painted lanes wasn’t part of the plan. Maybe PBOT will rethink this once more people start using them.

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

I suspect that this surprises not a single person here.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I’ve never been a fan of ‘sidewalk riding’, but only because I had a narrow view of what it entails, based on the many times I’ve seen people riding against where drivers tend to look and in seeming disregard for the safety of themselves or others. It was at a PTA conference I visited in a neighboring town that I had a change of opinion. I was invited to hear the Mayor and Police Chief of Sunnyvale talk about their lessons learned after a ‘ride along’ with a bicycling high-schooler, and several parents say their children still bike to school but after several actual car collisions (that they never reported at the time of incident) they mostly ride on sidewalks now. The BPAC for that city fought hard to get their sidewalk riding ban repealed, and it was then that I realized I too break this ordinance occasionally in my own city for very practical purposes. I’ve recently proposed that our city do away with this ordinance as well, as we’re in the suburbs that HK describes and with the common pedestrian density it serves no real purpose. I still emphasize that sidewalk riding should be done very cautiously and in the direction of traffic wherever possible, but I know I’m preaching to the choir on that one.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Unless you are crossing the top of the Steel bridge, just the first of many examples I could cite.

Spiffy
Subscriber

if I have to ride the top section of the Steel Bridge then I prefer taking the lane rather than having to deal with pedestrian dodging…

although sometimes the traffic makes it a less appealing option if I’m actually trying to get somewhere on a schedule…

I prefer taking the lane on the Hawthorne Bridge as well, but the metal grate makes it harder to pedal so I usually don’t…

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Eh, I just slow to walking speed when I pass pedestrians. I rarely encounter more than a few when I’m heading westbound.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

How do you pass if you are traveling at the same speed? 🙂

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

When I pass them in the opposite direction, I’m moving at walking speed. When I pass them in the same direction, I’m moving at fast walking speed.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I figure the faster I go, the less time the pedestrian is stressed by my presence. I try to be super considerate when I ride on the sidewalk.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Well then you should definitely avoid riding on the sidewalk.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Of course there are times/places where separated facilities are safest; there are other times where mixing with auto traffic is safer. This is such a context-sensitive question…” h kitty

True…context has much to do with what part of the road is best for traveling by bike. All together as a group, the considerations involved in advising which area of the road is best, and legal, for a given rider, is probably too complex in to put in a few simple sentences.

People biking need to make themselves aware, or somehow be helped to be made aware of the extent of their legal right to use the road, and of the advisable choice of how to use the road according to what type of rider they are, and what their travel needs are.

Without knowledge of some specific, typical situations in which the right to use the road with a bike applies, and an understanding of how to handle those situations…people can be hugely disadvantaged in their ability to travel the road with a bike.

Ideas of road travel by bike being entirely separated on all roads, from roads being used for motor vehicle travel, seem to me to be entirely impractical. I would very much like to see some increase in the provision of bike specific road infrastructure, but not to an extreme exclusion of availability, legally or in a practical sense, of the use of the road with a bike.

The ‘VC’ thing has been taken way overboard. Some people have seemingly tried to make the concept into some weird compulsory defacto road use religion, the result having been that plenty of people have been resolutely turned off to the concept. Keep it simple…if you’re riding a bike, and you need to use the lane ‘way over there’…just move out of the bike lane and into the lane you need. Make the transition procedure properly through means by which other road users can be reasonably presented with what you’re going to do.

Occasionally, there are hitches, but in my own use, I’ve found using any part of the road the law allows people biking to use, generally works out with other people using the road.

Pete
Guest
Pete

wsbob, this is accurate, succinct, and ties together so much of what I was trying to say. Thanks so much!

“The ‘VC’ thing… people have been resolutely turned off to the concept.”

Hi Soren! 🙂

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Pete…thankyou! I hope there are some things in what I’m writing, that help people get a better sense of what they need to do to maximize the opportunity that’s there, for them to travel the road with a bike.

I really wish biking in traffic training was more widely known about and accepted than it seems to be. On Saturdays, I’ve been regularly going on a little group ride, part of which is along a major thoroughfare. We pass by a big parking lot, often see being conducted, classes for motorcycle and scooter skills and ability training for riding in traffic. Lots of people know about these classes and the material and skill development they cover, because for anyone wanting to be licensed to ride such vehicles in Oregon, taking those classes, is mandatory.

For riding a bike in Oregon? Nothing. Acquiring the skills and ability to ride a bike in Oregon, is left to ‘catch as can.’. This lackadaisical approach to equipping people for riding bikes in traffic, I think leaves many people very unprepared and anxious to ride a bike outside of anywhere on the road, except the bike lane.

People thinking to wait for the day, to ride a bike on the road, when there finally are so called ‘protected bike lanes’ everywhere, or there are far fewer motor vehicles on the road than there are now, could be in for a very long wait. Better, I think, for everyone that wants to ride, to take getting the skills they need for riding a bike at least occasionally, outside of bike lanes and in traffic, a first priority, like good brakes and air in the tires.

Pete
Guest
Pete

“I really wish biking in traffic training was more widely known about and accepted than it seems to be.”

When I lived in the Portland area, the closest I could find was Ray Thomas’ free classes on bike-related law – which of course I highly recommend to everyone.

Ironically the LAB class that some claim are “VC” starts with “ABC Quick Check”, which teaches about the brakes and tire pressure that you also mention. It bothers me that some perceive that LAB espouses removing bike lanes (a fundamental of ‘VC’), because I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels so many fewer ‘close calls’ and so much more comfortable riding roadways since taking those classes. The amount of time I spend actually taking the lane may be a little higher than an average cyclist, but it’s far, far less than many commenters seem to think that I believe is necessary. It’s a subtlety (that you elaborated so nicely), but ‘VC’ is a form of extremism, whereas ‘vc’ may keep you alive.

The only thing those classes teach that’s even remotely ‘VC’ is that you are allowed to take the lane, and it shows you situations where that’s safer. Example: at California intersections where I’m coming to a red light and have the opportunity to (signal and merge left and) ‘take the lane’ instead of corking the bike lane, I do. It works tremendously well, as even on a slow, heavy bicycle I can quickly realign with the bike lane, allow straight-driving motorists to safely pass me, and uncork right-turning drivers, all while preventing a driver from “right-hooking” me, which I’ve virtually eliminated since taking both LAB and Cycling Savvy courses. (Yes, I understand Oregon law doesn’t let drivers use bike lanes for right turns, but that’s not the case in most of the country).

HK also gets it – there are so many tools available, and so many dynamics to consider when cycling, that forming a ‘static’ opinion of where and how one should ride, or what infrastructure should exclusively consist of, will only limit one’s safety and enjoyment while biking.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Few Oregon drivers know they can’t use the bike lane, so it works the same here.

I regularly travel northbound through this large 4-way stop (https://goo.gl/maps/tFi4xqBbTdS2), and believe it’s much less confusing for everyone if I take the lane rather than the bike lane. In theory, it should result in fewer columns of vehicles waiting for their turn to go (this guy has the right idea: https://goo.gl/maps/c8wQauRD48G2), but right-turning drivers frequently go into the bike lane/parking space next to me to make a right turn, which just makes it more confusing again. Oh well.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I believe drivers can use the bike lane to make a turn. The language used to support the claim it is illegal is indirect and unclear, whereas the language starting drivers may use the lane closest to the curb is crystal clear.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Oregon Driver Manual disagrees: “You may turn across a bicycle lane, but do not move into a bicycle lane in preparation for a turn.”

http://www.odot.state.or.us/forms/dmv/37.pdf

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Hmm… The actual law days different:

A person commits the offense of making an improperly executed right turn if the person is operating a vehicle, is intending to turn the vehicle to the right and does not proceed as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.355

Sounds like I can, and should, drive right up next to the curb.

Pete
Guest
Pete

That guy’s riding about where I’d be positioned there, but again that’s where dynamics comes in – depends if I see the driver behind me signaling a right turn, traffic density sometimes drives my comfort level, etc.

HK describes what I learned in Ray’s class, that it technically isn’t illegal for drivers to drive in the bike lane, but it’s such a grey area. And my experience in riding in Oregon is that drivers are about 50/50 these days on whether to pull to the curb or not, and I personally think it’s just because so many Californians have moved up here (and like I said, the law in Oregon isn’t the norm across the country).

Confusing indeed!

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I don’t even think it’s much of a gray area… The law seems pretty clear.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Sounds like a good place for Ray Thomas to weigh in.

Tom
Guest
Tom

40 years of infrastructure supression by the VC
and most cities still have sub 1% bike mode share. That’s a pretty black and white record.

Pete
Guest
Pete

“…infrastructure supression[sic] by the VC”

I highly doubt that even the most religious of VCers have had little to any influence over the car-centric and growth-at-all-costs mentalities that have come to define our “infrastructure” as mostly narrow, unprotected, non-contiguous, door-zone bike lanes, let alone the “get off the road (cuz it was made fer cars)!” treatment of road users in the gaps thereof.

In the years I’ve spent involved with advocating for roadway improvements related to bicycling (as a hobby), I’ve yet to encounter a single subscriber to the VC philosophy. NOBODY on a bicycle goes to their city/county/state and argues that ‘sharrows are good enough’ – unless there are no other physically/financially/politically viable alternatives. You will only see true VCers in one of two places: 1) on the Internet, and 2) in the middle of a traffic lane. But in the latter case you can’t be sure if they’re advocating VC or just taking the lane…

I’d assert that what has primarily suppressed alternative transportation is generations of brainwashing that owning and driving a car is the epitome of success and efficiency, and being outside of one is dangerous and, quite frankly, crazy.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

I suspect that the reason people think “VCers are keeping us from having protected lanes” may be that they keep hearing from DOT folks “many cyclists don’t want that” as I recently heard from an ODOT staffer. This same staffer said they wouldn’t “trade safety of one mode for another” (in context of people blocking signalized intersections with their cars vs people on bikes taking the lane in 55mph traffic across the barbur viaducts.) They hear what they want to hear and recite it back to you after filtering through a freeway builder’s bias.

An “engineer” who equates broken limbs with fender benders maybe only listens to “cyclists” who pretend to be cars or perhaps only understands “cyclists” as some sort of slow, narrow car.

Then you have PBOT, where they seem to think of a person on a bike as a wheeled jogger capable of no more than 8mph and engaged in optional recreation, so no big deal to ask them to slow down and share a sidewalk or otherwise stay out of the way and/or wait patiently for those with serious business to attend (evidenced by serious spending (or borrowing) on very expensive vehicles.)

I would love to have priority, protected bikeways — especially when riding with my kids on my bike or otherwise. But, I very much resent slow segregated paths which are just sidewalks rather than seriously engineered bikeways. If we want to actually displace auto trips with bike trips, we need to treat people on bikes like they have somewhere to go and design for safe travel at 20 or even 30mph while taking into account the safety or slower riders as well as biking kids and pedestrians.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Yes, this reinforces my point: there is “VC”, the ideology, and then there is what I’m calling “vc”, which is basically using the original Forester “Effective Cycling” principles (which are built into our nation’s various laws) to position yourself safely, depending on the dynamics of the situation you’re encountering on the roadway while cycling (and those dynamics include your own fitness, comfort level, and bicycle choice). If people want to draw their own conclusion and ascribe the VC ideology to ODOT, PBOT, or LAB staffers, they’re as welcome to do that as espousing nationalism (shut the borders for our safety!) or any other ideological trend. On the other hand, if people wish to learn techniques that may enhance their cycling experience on roads with cars and poor cycling infrastructure, the mechanics of those teachings will do that, the philosophy of their founders aside. My most important point that many commenters here seem to deny or refute while a few seem to get, is that the existence of courses teaching ‘vehicular cycling’ techniques is entirely unrelated to the fact that we don’t, as a nation, seem to be willing to prioritize spending on separated cycling facilities.

Josh G
Guest
Josh G
Adam
Subscriber

Another example of the complete lack of foresight and planning from our state transportation agency. Yet, they are perfectly content to spend $130M on a brand new two mile highway.

soren
Subscriber

Montpelier, Vermont, cut its road maintenance budget by almost 10 percent in 2009 by becoming one of a growing number of cities that are converting selected streets to gravel.

We should definitely do this in PDX! There is no need for most low traffic roads to be paved (or fully paved). I love riding the unpaved block near my house.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’d support this in my neighborhood.

Adam
Subscriber

Lots of gravel roads near me in South Tabor too.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Well, Portland already has a many-years head start in “converting” streets to gravel… 😉

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

The affect of the Pokemon Go app release has been a dramatic increase in young humans (10 to 25) on the streets in the communities I have been travelling through over the last week: Port Townsend, Beaverton and Vancouver WA.

We live way downtown and normally we would not see groups of youth standing around and talking during the mornings and early afternoons…only the panhandlers…so it has been a stark change as these groups congregate in public plazas that what were more typically isolated, vacant or filled with panhandlers/ gang ‘families’.

It is great to see more “+” eyes on the streets than “-” ones…and I hope this has some staying power as these ‘hunters’ get to know their urban communities better…while staying safe and aware.