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Bike law expert says PBOT’s crossbike markings create confusion

Posted by on October 12th, 2016 at 3:39 pm

A crossbike at Tillamook and NE 15th. (Photo: Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton)

A crossbike at Tillamook and NE 15th.
(Photo: Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton)

This post is part of our Get Legal series made possible by Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton.

When we first reported on crossbikes in August, concerns about them began almost immediately. While some people were happy to see the increased visibility for bicycling traffic at crossings via the big green stripes, others said the treatment creates confusion.

Now Ray Thomas, the Portland lawyer who literally wrote the book on Oregon bike law, is adding his voice to the chorus of concerns.

Before we get into his critique, let’s review what crossbikes are and what problem they aim to solve.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation began thinking about them five years ago after seeing how effective curb extensions were for people on foot. When a sidewalk extends out into the roadway and someone is waiting at the corner, cross-traffic tends to stop more regularly. So PBOT Bike Coordinator Roger Geller figured the same would hold true for bikeway crossings. “We we wanted to indicate that these intersections aren’t just pedestrian crossings, these are also bike crossings,” Geller told us in a 2011 interview. “The green bike bars indicate this is an extension of the bikeway through the intersection.” (Note: PBOT uses crossbikes on neighborhood greenway routes.)

Since early August PBOT has painted 21 intersections with crossbikes.

PBOT's new crossbikes

The crossbike at N Williams and Rosa Parks Way as seen from the cross-traffic view.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

But here’s the rub: Traditional crosswalks have a clear legal standing. Oregon law (ORS 811.028) says you must “stop and stay stopped” if someone is attempting to walk or roll across an intersection from the sidewalk or corner. However the same legal protection is not given to someone in the roadway so cross-traffic doesn’t have any legal obligation to stop when you pull up into a crossbike.

The crossbikes have also been painted in a way that’s inconsistent: Some of the green striping is connected to an existing white crosswalk, while in other intersections (and in official PBOT educational posters) there’s a separation between the crossbike striping and the crosswalk.

With that, let’s get to Thomas’ analysis:

“In my world as a bike lawyer I get involved when things go wrong, sometimes terribly wrong. And if a bicycle rider in a crossbike moves out from the stop sign to cross the through street [and is involved in a collision]… the hard legal question must be answered of who had the right-of-way.”
— Ray Thomas

In a nutshell, Thomas feels that crossbikes add further confusion to intersections. We say “further” because Thomas has already shared his concern for what he calls “ambiguous intersections” — places where a neighborhood greenway crosses a larger street and many people (on bikes and in cars) aren’t sure if bicycle riders have the right-of-way or not.

Here’s how Thomas explains his discomfort with the way the crossbikes have been implemented. “While one might argue that to the extent it is ambiguous whether or not a motorist must stop for a cyclist in a crossbike and the motorist stops when it is not legally necessary to do so, that is OK because it promotes safe passage of vulnerable roadway users. But Geller would certainly admit that the crossbike does not somehow expand the protection of the Oregon right-of-way in the crosswalk to the crossbike crossings.”

And here’s Thomas’ underlying legal analysis:

The Oregon Traffic Code clearly requires that a bicyclist must stop at a stop sign and wait to proceed until the way is clear by yielding to cross traffic on the through street (ORS 811.260(15)). However, if the bicyclist chooses to cross the street in the crosswalk then approaching traffic is required to yield to the bicyclist because in a crosswalk, bicyclists have the same rights as pedestrians (ORS 814.410(2)). (Please note that one still cannot leave a curb or other place of safety and move out in front of approaching traffic that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard per ORS 814.410(1)(a), I mention that in case anyone was tempted to do such a thing).

In my world as a bike lawyer I get involved when things go wrong, sometimes terribly wrong. And if a bicycle rider in a crossbike moves out from the stop sign to cross the through street because, for example, approaching traffic from one direction has stopped for them, but then another automobile coming in the other direction does not choose to stop and hits the rider, or a car behind the stopped car pulls around and then hits the cyclist, the hard legal question must be answered of who had the right-of-way. And the answer has serious legal consequences for who will have to pay for medical bills and damages. And who might get a ticket.

If the bicyclist is in the crosswalk (defined in ORS 801.220) then the driver is required to yield the right-of-way. But if the rider is not in the crosswalk then the bicyclist has violated the stop sign law in ORS 811.260(15) by failing to stay stopped for traffic on the through street.

In my view, crossbikes create the same legal problems that exist for the ambigous intersection at North Going and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd — when everything works fine, great; but when it doesn’t the bicycle rider is likely going to be left holding the traffic citation for disregarding the legal requirements of the stop sign.

In an ideal world, Thomas argues, the crossbike would simply be brought into the same legal definition of a crosswalk — especially since PBOT seems to have no qualms about striping them directly adjacent (with no gap) to existing crosswalks. If the crossbike markings simply expanded the width of the crosswalk then people using bicycles in the main roadway would have the same legal protection and right-of-way as someone trying to cross from the sidewalk. That sounds great; but there’s a hitch.

Back to Thomas:

PBOT educational poster. Notice how the green crossbike marking is separated from the white crosswalk marking.

PBOT educational poster. Notice how the green crossbike marking is separated from the white crosswalk marking.

There may be a legal “color problem” at work here because just as the crosswalk’s legal definition requires only “markings or other markings” it also stipulates that it must “conform in design to the standards established for crosswalks under in ORS 810.200.” That statute says the Oregon Transportation Commission, “shall adopt a manual and specifications of uniform standards for traffic control devices…” Since the State of Oregon’s adopted manual is essentially the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices and the MUTCD says crosswalks must be marked with white paint, then there may be a problem of definition.

Section 3B.18 of the MUTCD, “Crosswalk Markings” states: “When crosswalk lines are used, they shall consist of solid white lines that mark the crosswalk. They shall not be less than 6 inches or greater than 24 inches in width.”

Since Thomas is a bike safety advocate, he has also thought of a solution. Why not simply make the crossbike stripes white? “If the wider crosswalk expands to include the crossbike within it, doesn’t that just expand the coverage of the umbrella of right-of-way in a good direction?” he wonders. “If we wanted to make the crossbike into an arguable fully legal crosswalk without the legal ambiguity then we would just cover the green paint over with white and be done with it, or put some green at each end of the white paint just to denote the new design.”

In conclusion, Thomas wants to raise awareness that crossbikes — as currently implemented — are not legal crosswalks. “For now,” he says, confusion is likely to reign and, “the best course of action is to assume cars do not legally have to stop.”

We asked PBOT to respond to Thomas’ concerns. Spokesman John Brady said, “The anecdotal feedback we’ve been getting is that the crossbikes are welcomed by people on bicycles and they haven’t been causing confusion. We believe there is a growing awareness among Portlanders that green paint is associated with bicycling. That growing awareness is also something that works against confusion.” Brady was quick to add that they aren’t relying only on anecdotal evidence. Portland State University researchers are studying the new markings for before/after behaviors.

Depending on how those observations play out, we might see some tweaks to the crossbike design in the future.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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100 Comments
  • dan October 12, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Crossbikes are such a waste of paint, they should have refreshed the paint for some of the dedicated bike lanes downtown instead. Either you have the right of way, or you don’t. Crossbikes only muddy the issue for everyone.

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  • jeff October 12, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    what’s with the stupid sign in micro-print? how’s a driver or cyclist supposed to read that exactly?

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    • kittens October 13, 2016 at 3:42 am

      I think they misguidedly designed those info signs for bikers not cars to read.

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    • Pete October 16, 2016 at 11:33 am

      My thoughts exactly. If you have to type up a page with a diagram explaining it, it’s not self-explanatory to all. (And from what I can read, this is only written in English).

      Further, these types of educational materials should also be actively incorporated into driver’s manuals, and tested on exams, not stapled to signposts in small writing. To this day we still don’t have a normalized understanding of basic rules, and yet we keep changing them and adding to them, creating more confusion instead of clarity. (I’d still like to see a national road rule standard).

      Recent anecdote: I was riding early yesterday morning in very light traffic and came up to red light on a 6-lane road. I stopped just to the left of the buffered bike lane, which uncorks right-turning cars, is allowed at all right turns here by CA vehicle code 21202 (but not up there in OR), and also prevents my being right-hooked just across the intersection at the busy strip mall. Alas, the light turns green, I accelerate across the intersection (moving back into the bike lane and unblocking straight traffic) – and I then get aggressively passed and cut off by a Sunnyvale police officer! I couldn’t believe it! As he got out of his car at the donut shop (no lie), I rode by and politely said “Excuse me officer, I just wanted to let you know that your right turn blinker light is burnt out, which I noticed when you turned right in front of me.” He replied, “You should have been in the bike lane back there!”, to which I simply rode away shaking my head in disgust, knowing that explaining the law to a police officer was a battle I could easily lose.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. October 12, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Seriously, who authorized those pavement markings in the first photo? The cross-bike stripes line up with the parking lane, not where someone would be cycling. Does PBOT expect people to zig-zag over so that they are riding in the cross-bikes?

    Note that I support these intersection paint treatments, but they need to be properly placed in the middle of the street where someone would actually be riding.

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    • The other Adam H October 12, 2016 at 3:59 pm

      Exactly what I came here to say. The placement is just remarkably stupid.

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    • Buzz October 12, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      something i agree w/ adam on

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  • jered October 12, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Crossbike = worst idea ever.

    Crosswalk, step off your bike and step into the crosswalk.

    OR be a vehicle and cross traffic when you can.

    Super clear, super easy.

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    • Dan A October 12, 2016 at 4:22 pm

      Except that you don’t need to step off your bike to enjoy the rights of a crosswalk. So maybe it’s not that clear….

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      • jered October 14, 2016 at 1:15 pm

        I fully understand the concept, but it is confusing as hell.

        I don’t like the idea of getting treated like a pedestrian in some instances marked in one color and like a vehicle when a color is missing. I’m cool with being a vehicle if I’m riding my bike. The time savings isn’t worth the hassle.

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  • Kittens October 12, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Agreed. Total fail. Hope this helps someone at Pbot feel like they made a difference because it certainly does nothing to help people on bikes cross safely.
    Furthermore it only serves to confuse drivers who are from out of area or simply unsure what they mean. Net result: more hostility and conflicts between bikes and cars

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  • Matt S. October 12, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    I hope everyone has common sense on a bike when riding through an intersection. What I worry about is how we’ve been trained over the years to ride and follow the green. If someone isn’t paying attention, they may just ride through the intersection, ignoring the stop sign (probably by accident), follow the green, and then PLOW, get nailed by a car. I hope this doesn’t happen.

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    • J_R October 12, 2016 at 7:14 pm

      Not only will the bicyclist get nailed by the car, he/she will deserve a citation for failure to obey a traffic control device (the STOP sign).

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  • Carrie October 12, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    My first hand experience consists of being yelled at by a car driver that “it’s illegal to ride your bike in a crosswalk” while ‘legally’ (?) in the green crossbike crossing SE 17th at the Powell St. flyover.

    The green hash marks do seem to help in the mixing zone when traveling north on SE 17th just north of McLoughlin. I’ve noticed way better car driver behavior there (still very impatient, but at least most people are waiting). But that’s not a cross bike…

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    • Bald One October 13, 2016 at 9:14 am

      I also have been yelled at several times by vehicle operators (mostly Tri-met folks) while crossing the street on the green zebra stripes at this particular spot just south of the 17th St flyover.

      At this spot, they have installed a flashing yellow light beacon, which further confuses the legal issue. Am I legally required to push the button and activate the flashing light before I cross?

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      • Spiffy October 13, 2016 at 9:41 am

        sounds like you were violating the bus driver’s right-of-way if you were in the crossbike close enough to be yelled at…

        and yes, having the buttons for the flashing beacon right next to the bike lane is super confusing because even with flashing lights on drivers have the right-of-way when you’re in the crossbike…

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        • Bald One October 13, 2016 at 10:23 am

          Yes, the high speeds of bus drivers racing home to the bus garage coming around that corner on the flyover after exiting the highway do tend to lend to their “surprise” to find someone in the crosswalk. I think they are mostly upset that the yellow flashy light was not activated.

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    • Spiffy October 13, 2016 at 9:38 am

      “My first hand experience consists of being yelled at by a car driver that “it’s illegal to ride your bike in a crosswalk” while ‘legally’ (?) in the green crossbike crossing SE 17th at the Powell St. flyover.”

      if you’re in the crossbike while a driver is yelling at you then you’re probably violating that driver’s right-of-way…

      cyclists have no right-of-way in the crossbike…

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      • Carrie October 13, 2016 at 10:23 am

        Or we’ve been approached by a driver going 50 mph in a 30 mph area — I would have been out of the ROW in plenty of time if the driver hadn’t been speeding.

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  • mike October 12, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Why do bikes need a crosswalk? Are cars supposed to stop for cyclists as they would for pedestrians?

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    • soren October 12, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      Yes.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty October 12, 2016 at 6:14 pm

        If the answer is “yes”, the design needs to change. On the other hand, if the answer is “no”, the design needs to change.

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      • Buzz October 12, 2016 at 7:50 pm

        the correct answer is no

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        • Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 12, 2016 at 8:21 pm

          The correct answer to “Are cars supposed to stop for cyclists as they would for pedestrians?” is Yes. I hope you aren’t in Oregon or can back up your claim.

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          • Doug Klotz October 12, 2016 at 8:56 pm

            Yes they are, but only if the cyclist is in a crosswalk. If you’re parallel to the crosswalk, but not IN it, i.e. in the crossbike, then, not, the driver does not have to stop for you.

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            • Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 12, 2016 at 9:05 pm

              True- I guess it’s about the ambiguity of the question.

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              • BikeSlobPDX October 13, 2016 at 9:07 am

                Maybe we could get lawyer to explain it to us…

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            • bradwagon October 13, 2016 at 12:14 pm

              I would interpret the white caps at the far end of the crossbikes to communicate that the green sections of striping are extensions of the white crosswalks and therefore should treat any user using it as having right of way. Similar to how bike boxes are green with a white outline, just because it’s now green paint doesn’t all of the sudden means it’s not a bike only lane. If a cyclist can ride a crosswalk legally with ROW then these extensions are simply adding a bike section to the crosswalk to help separate bike and pedestrian traffic. If curb space leading up to an intersection is required to be kept clear of parked cars then I have no problem with aligning them closer to the crosswalk or bike lane if one exists.

              For these reasons I would imagine most would lean towards these crossing having legal ROW standing. Of course this means a cyclist must obey a stop sign and take care when establishing crossing ROW in the same way a pedestrian would wait until able to safety establish ROW.

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          • Spiffy October 13, 2016 at 8:57 am

            “Are cars supposed to stop for cyclists as they would for pedestrians?”

            to me says:

            Are cars supposed to stop for cyclists in the crossbike as they would for pedestrians in a crosswalk?

            that answer is no…

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            • Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 13, 2016 at 11:06 am

              “supposed to stop for cyclists as they would for pedestrians” reads “supposed to stop for cyclists where a pedestrian would be”.

              Again, it’s just an ambiguity issue.

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          • GlowBOy October 13, 2016 at 9:01 am

            “The correct answer to “Are cars supposed to stop for cyclists as they would for pedestrians?” is Yes”

            NO! Unfortunately. In Oregon, if a cyclist enters a crosswalk at above a walking pace they forfeit their right of way to all other users. You may cross, but if a car hits you it is 100% your fault in the eyes of the law.

            In practice it doesn’t matter unless you get hit. Then there are two problems:
            1. You have zero chance of getting the driver’s insurance company to pay for your gigantic hospital bills.
            2. Even if you entered the crosswalk at a walking pace, the driver (or at least the driver’s insurance company and lawyers) will argue that you were riding faster than that, and a jury will believe them 100% of the time.

            So the effect is that cars don’t have to stop for you if you’re riding a bike. My defense for this is I always, always dismount and walk my bike across a crosswalk if there are cars coming, so there can be absolutely no ambiguity.

            (I do this here in Minnesota too, even though we don’t have Oregon’s weird law. By doing this I establish 100% that I’m operating as a pedestrian in the crosswalk and not as a vehicle operator, eliminating any confusion or ambiguity).

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            • Spiffy October 13, 2016 at 9:45 am

              you assume more than the question asks…

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            • wsbob October 13, 2016 at 10:16 am

              “…In Oregon, if a cyclist enters a crosswalk at above a walking pace…” glowboy

              Entering crosswalks at above a walking pace, is something people riding bikes should not do. Doing so defeats the safety function for vulnerable road users that the crosswalk law provides for…

              …which is that this law obliges people biking and using the crosswalk to slow down to a rate of speed that allows road traffic to better see vulnerable road users approaching and entering the crosswalk; so that road traffic can have a better opportunity to slow as needed to yield to people using the crosswalk.

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            • Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 13, 2016 at 11:08 am

              I never said “above a walking pace”.

              “Supposed” is pretty clearly “should they stop” or “are they obligated to stop”, not “is it illegal” or “is it safe”.

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          • soren October 13, 2016 at 9:25 am

            IMO, the correct answer is always yes regardless of what Oregon’s vague laws say or mean.

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            • B. Carfree October 13, 2016 at 1:09 pm

              You’re exposing the chasm between what’s legally correct and what’s morally correct. When cars are involved, that chasm gets even wider by what aspects of the law will actually be applied.

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  • Todd Boulanger October 12, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    Ray – thanks for chiming-in on the topic and especially how such may effect future traffic cases.

    Much of what you said parallel’s my brief comments from the original post on the crossbike facility. I am cut and pasting it for those who might have missed that article.

    Boulanger (August 2016), “The use of an enhanced marked crossing for cyclists works well in the Netherlands…they are generally called “elephant tracks” and often only marked in white at the edge of the crossing (remove the green bars in the portland example). Some are placed over red lanes but not always.

    As this design is refined for phase 2…I would recommend: making the white border of the bikers as a square block (aka elephant foot print) AND make a 0.5 ft to 1.0 ft break in the now merged white crosswalk / crossbike stripe to add more contrast and make it more visually conspicuous.*

    Note*: unless these lanes are purposely “merged” in order to include the crossbike crossing in the institutionalized protections of crosswalks in state law..vs just combining them due to limited intersection space.”

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  • jonny October 12, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    I’m not sure how the effectiveness of concrete curb extensions that allow pedestrians to be in a more visible location when waiting translates to green paint when a bike is in the intersection… But if visibility of bike crossings on greenways is the goal, then how about putting the sharrows where they can be visible to the cross traffic instead of 10-20 away from the intersection?

    Here’s my rant on the benefits of moving sharrows to where they are visible to cross traffic:

    ## Wayfinding
    Clarifies the route for the rider, reducing the time one spends looking for the route. While often a sharrow will be in an intersection to show a turn, it is not always the case. On roads that do not follow the grid, the direction of the route may have seemed obvious when they painted the sharrows but it may not be visible at night, and less so if it is also raining.

    ## Safety
    Cross traffic would be aware of the intersecting greenway, suggesting that they watch for bicycles crossing in that location.

    ## Discovery
    Allows riders to easily find a greenway when they know one is ‘near’, or when they know what street one is on but the street signs are hard to find or read. Riders could also discover routes they might not have known about.

    ## Awareness
    Drivers would know if a road is a greenway before turning on the street. This could prompt some cars to choose a different route.

    ## Evangelism
    Making greenways more visible to vehicular cross traffic makes those that aren’t currently riding more aware of the places they can easily ride.

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  • J_R October 12, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Ray Thomas’ thoughtful analysis and well written piece mirrors the concerns I raised in the first article about this ill-conceived “solution” rolled out by PBOT without consulting the experts. Now we have a PBOT “spokesman” telling us about the anecdotal evidence and the appreciative comments of some users.

    Creating confusion will get somebody killed. PBOT is setting bicyclists up to depend on the motorists’ willingness to adopt unpredictable courtesy rather than following their legal responsibilities.

    PBOT ought to just own up to the error of doing this experiment without adequate forethought.

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    • wsbob October 12, 2016 at 11:57 pm

      Thomas’s reasoning about the application of the crossbike concept on Portland streets, presented in this bikeportland story, seems sound. Some people’s thoughts expressed here in the comment section, about how this infrastructure may work, or not, are interesting.

      I guess Geller and PBOT are at least due some credit for trying something new, but before investing time and money in painting 21 intersections with this crossbike infrastructure, maybe they should have done a smaller number, as an experiment to see how they work out. Though maybe they did this, and thought what they saw of it in use, demonstrated it was a good idea.

      If the crossbike concept were somehow to help the greenways bring about more people deciding to ride rather than drive, that would be an indication of success.

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      • J_R October 13, 2016 at 1:25 pm

        PBOT should not have simply tried it, which is what they did. Prior to installation PBOT should have checked with knowledgeable legal staff to identify issues with regard to right of way and the Vehicle Code; they should have considered getting legislative approval to clarify the laws; they should have approached the FHWA about a demonstration project; they should have planned an evaluation prior to putting this experiment into place.

        If this ill-conceived experiment, which clearly causes confusion, encourages more people to use greenways as bicyclists rather than drive, but results in injury or death of anyone who incorrectly assumes he/she has the right of way when using a crossbke, would you still consider it to be a success?

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  • dsaxena October 12, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Every single on of these I cross is mostly useless in that cars rarely stop. Each of these should have a HAWK signal in my opinion.

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    • John Lascurettes October 12, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      They’re not required to stop. Read the article again carefully. Now, if you were operating legally *as a pedestrian* on your bike in the crosswalk (and not the crossbike), then yes, they’d have to stop.

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    • Spiffy October 13, 2016 at 9:04 am

      only “mostly” useless? they seem completely useless to me specifically because cars are not required to stop…

      no point in drawing attention to cyclists when you don’t need to do anything… more distractions for drivers…

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  • Buzz October 12, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Look at the first picture above, the bikeXing is in the parking lane, that’s the wrong place to put it, it sends the wrong message to motorists and it’s not where the cyclists are or should be riding.

    Plus, you’ve got a stop sign on Tillamook there, I’d rather wait until it’s clear than have some random motorist stop and wave me through. Once I put my foot down I’m not going first, I just point at the stop sign and wait. But I will treat it as an Idaho stop if there is limited cross traffic.

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  • Buzz October 12, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    no

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  • Graham Ross October 12, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    The thing about crosswalks being in a certain style is a place where reality and theory are pretty far apart. MUTCD is crap. Downtown in the bus mall all the crosswalks are made of red brick, not white paint. They have the force of law, I assume. Where NW Flanders crosses third (by the Chinese garden) we have another distinctive pavement in lieu of white paint. On SE 55th at Hawthorne and again at Belmont we have a raised crosswalk of red tiles. As far as I know these have legal standing (stop and stay stopped). So, as much as I distrust crossbikes and don’t see any value in them whatsoever, at the same time I don’t see why they are not part of the crosswalk. Why indeed do we think they don’t compel the crossing traffic to stop and stay stopped? It’s just another creative style of crossWALK, isn’t it?

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    • Doug Klotz October 12, 2016 at 9:00 pm

      It’s not in the usual legal position for a crosswalk. A crosswalk, if unmarked, is the extension of the sidewalk on either side of the street. The crossbikes don’t line up with the sidewalk, they line up with the parking lane. This gets murkier when there are curb extensions at the ends of the crosswalk that extend into the parallel street. But usually, the side of the crosswalk is not out beyond the curb. If it were, you’d be leading pedestrians to the street, rather than the curb.

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    • Mike Sanders October 13, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      In Holland, they use red-brick colored pavement for all bike lanes and for all bike crossing points at stoplights. The latter are bordered by white squares on each side, known as elephant feet. They are usually placed next to crosswalks but are separate from them. Go see the You Tube videos of BicycleDutch (formerly NL Cycling) for some great examples of this. In addition, the bike signals give first priority to bikes to cross, then peds. That system works well. Green paint as a solid path boarded by elephant feet next to the crosswalk would look better and be easier to spot. Getting the Legislature to clear up the ambiguity from a legal standpoint might be on the list for Salem next year.

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      • Todd Boulanger October 13, 2016 at 4:22 pm

        Thanks Mike – that the same point I have been trying to voice. 😉

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      • El Biciclero October 14, 2016 at 12:50 pm

        “In addition, the bike signals give first priority to bikes to cross, then peds.”

        This is our problem. If there were signals of any kind, there would be no need for special markings.

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  • Tom October 12, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    “The anecdotal feedback we’ve been getting is that the crossbikes are welcomed by people on bicycles”…

    Oh really. Are these imaginary people on bikes?, because all the real people on bikes don’t seem to like them so much.

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    • soren October 13, 2016 at 9:38 am

      I love crossbikes and applaud PBOT for installing experimental facilities with the aim of getting them in the MUTCD. I am even more enthusiastic about the stated goal of lobbying the state for legal recognition of crossbikes.

      Every “interested but concerned” cyclist I know likes crossbikes.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty October 13, 2016 at 2:05 pm

        You are one of the first here to voice support for them.

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      • J_R October 14, 2016 at 7:31 am

        I have a really hard time believing that “interested but concerned” cyclists understand that a crossbike is simply a suggestion to motorists that bikes may be present. I’ll bet that every one of those less confident bicyclists incorrectly thinks that crossbikes legally establishes a right of way for cyclists.

        And you don’t get things into the MUTCD by just giving them a try and providing anecdotal evidence.

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        • soren October 14, 2016 at 8:52 am

          and this is exactly why pbot is collaborating with psu to study crossbikes. similar studies were instrumental in adoption of other changes to the mutcd.

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          • J_R October 14, 2016 at 11:08 am

            Was PSU on board to do a study of “before” conditions at these sites to serve as a control for the “after” conditions? It certainly sounds like PBOT decided to “study” them only after installation. I don’t believe there was any collaboration, just an after-the-fact recognition that they needed some help.

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  • rick October 12, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    Basically, lower speed limits are needed.

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  • q October 12, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    PBOT’s reply is scary. Brady doesn’t address Thomas’ concerns at all.

    Of course some cyclists will like crossbikes, because some think they give them the right of way. Among cyclists who know they don’t do that, such as many cyclist/commenters here, there seems to be not just weak support, but some strong opposition.

    Worst are Brady’s comments about awareness of green paint being associated with cycling and thus working against confusion. That statement proves there IS confusion. Because yes, green paint does mean something. But in crossbikes, it means NOTHING legally. That’s Thomas’ main point. Crossbikes not only confuse people in regard to the crossbikes, they undermine the whole important concept that green paint has a legal meaning.

    Brady’s comments sound like a grade schooler’s review of stripes on a playground, not a professional response to a legal situation with life-and-death consequences. I agree with a previous commenter that PBOT’s cluelessness is going to get someone killed.

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    • B. Carfree October 13, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      I’m also concerned about what the “study” conducted by PSU will consist of. It’s not like there are scores of deaths and a well-documented history of all the injuries and close calls at these intersections, so they’ll have to use some sort of stand-in, likely people’s perception of safety. That stand-in may or may not be valid, but it will certainly involve the bias of the study designers.

      Also, this thing will get back to two things. Does it cause motorists to voluntarily give up their right of way and facilitate people crossing on bikes. Additionally, when people on bikes begin to assume a non-existent right of way for themselves, how will that affect safety?

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  • Dan A October 12, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    Community: We want a legal crosswalk here.

    PBOT: No, you want meaningless green paint over here.

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  • Buzz October 12, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    The more of these they put out there, the harder they will be to get rid of. And how will they remove them if they decide to? No doubt with that god-awful grinder that creates pavement conditions that no cyclist wants to ride on.

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    • Spiffy October 13, 2016 at 9:09 am

      luckily they’re not in a place where a cyclist would normally be riding so you’re unlikely to ride over the remaining pavement grooves…

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  • Kevin October 12, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    They are a source of confusion, and since drivers don’t have to stop, they create a false sense of security.

    They are going to get somebody killed.

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  • JeffS October 12, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    This feels like little more than an opportunity for some PBOT staffer to author a paper on their tests, perhaps get invited to a couple of speaking engagements.

    They apparently have an experiment fund that allows the bureau to keep their employees busy without committing to anything meaningful, widespread or expensive. I don’t necessarily have a problem with testing, but this one in particular strikes me as dangerous.

    Crossbikes are clearly in conflict for their stated reason for not installing more crosswalks. Oh well. I’ll just count myself lucky that I have yet to encounter one of these.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. October 12, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    Funny how unsanctioned crosswalks create a false sense of security for people walking, yet PBOT-approved crossbikes that have no legal standing somehow don’t.

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  • q October 12, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    PBOT’s Brady said, “The anecdotal feedback we’ve been getting is that the crossbikes are welcomed by people on bicycles and they haven’t been causing confusion.”

    Does anyone here want to guess what he meant by “haven’t been causing confusion”? Did he mean that cyclists understand they DON’T have the r.o.w. in them, and that drivers understand they DON’T have to stop, so are NOT stopping? Or did he mean that all drivers ARE stopping for cyclists that want to cross, and that all cyclists DO think they have the r.o.w? Or is it that cyclists and drivers understand the cyclists don’t have the r.o.w., but all drivers are stopping anyway (which actually can be confusing for cyclists in regard to whether to proceed or not).

    It would pretty much have to be one of those options, because if drivers aren’t coming to the same conclusion that cyclists are, then that would mean there’s confusion.

    But if drivers are NOT stopping, then there’s no value in them. So he must mean that all drivers ARE stopping. But we already know that’s not true based on other comments here. Plus, does anyone really believe all drivers are stopping, when stopping is voluntary, when so many drivers do NOT stop for bikes or pedestrians in crosswalks, where stopping is legally required?

    Should we take a poll? Should somebody just ask him?

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  • RF October 12, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    what works great is the press the button and the flashy lights turn on in the crosswalk. I’m amazed how quickly in east portland cars will stop once those lights go on.

    as for the cross-bike’s… my observation is that they help. not much, but i don’t see them doing any harm. but… cars don’t generally stop if there isn’t a crosswalk or something there.

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    • Spiffy October 13, 2016 at 9:14 am

      “as for the cross-bike’s… my observation is that they help.”

      what do they help?

      they help drivers see you as they drive by?

      they help drivers illegally obstruct traffic?

      they help cyclists violate driver’s right-of-way?

      because there’s no way these things help cyclists cross streets…

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      • soren October 13, 2016 at 9:54 am

        what exactly is unethical with stopping for vulnerable people when driving a potentially lethal heavy machinery?

        as a driver, i make a point of stopping for people regardless of whether i have right of way. and, anecdotally, i see many other drivers do the same at crossbikes. i predict that these facilities will be a success and that experienced cyclists will continue to grumble about facilities that pedestrianize* cycling for many years.

        *the horror

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty October 13, 2016 at 2:08 pm

          The horror comes when you stop, but another driver doesn’t, and you’ve essentially lured a vulnerable road user to their death.

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  • maxadders October 12, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    JeffS
    They apparently have an experiment fund that allows the bureau to keep their employees busy without committing to anything meaningful, widespread or expensive.

    Modus operandi for PBOT these days, sadly. They’re coasting along on Portland’s brief time in the spotlight as a civic leader for bike facilities, I guess. Personally I’d prefer my bike infrastructure to be in a constant state of thoughtful assessment and improvement rather than a haphazard smattering of “let’s see if it sticks” projects.

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  • JJJJ October 13, 2016 at 8:47 am

    What about a treatment like this?

    http://www.richmond.ca/__shared/assets/Raised_Crosswalk_with_Elephant_s_Feet39894.JPG

    Or something like this?

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c2/2008_04_21_-_Bethesda_-_NIH_-_Center_Dr_crosswalk.JPG

    This would keep the legal strength of the white crosswalk, but add green bicycle paint

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty October 13, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      I like the distressed antique look of that second photo. Looks like the dresser I just picked up at Pottery Barn.

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  • GlowBOy October 13, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Unless and until they have the law backing them up, I agree with others above that crossbikes are a terrible, terrible idea.

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  • Spiffy October 13, 2016 at 9:16 am

    I’m thinking if we start writing Obstructing Traffic tickets to these drivers stopping for crossbikes then we’ll see some action from PBOT to fix them…

    we don’t have to wait for a cyclist to die in order to prompt PBOT to take action…

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  • Bald One October 13, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Although, I like to come on BP and criticize PBOT’s use of paint instead of physical infrastructure for cyclists, and I tend to agree with the hand-wringing of concerned bikers about understanding their legal status on every inch of road every moment, I tend to look at these cross bikes with an attitude of, “I’ll take what I can get”.

    If the cars stop for you at a cross bike, great. Take it. If they don’t stop, you’ll have to wait to cross the street. Same as it ever was. No difference.

    Hopefully, we can train our children and newbies from far off places to understand they have no rights in these green paint stripes as a cyclist, and as a counterbalance, all those newbies driving cars learn to give a cyclists a break every once in a while when they see some green paint on the road.

    Don’t ride into traffic in front of a moving car. If a few more people stop and give you a break, great, take it. If a sociopath decides to murder you with their vehicle at one of these locations, I would tend to think this may be a coincidence of a green paint location, and that sociopath would probably murder someone with their car regardless of location. Hopefully, all this green paint the city is putting down doesn’t further inflame road-raged drivers to murder cyclists with their vehicles, as some would suggest, above. Have some faith.

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    • soren October 13, 2016 at 9:58 am

      PBOT’s goal is to have crossbikes obtain policy recognition (MUTCD) and state legal recognition.

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      • Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 13, 2016 at 11:12 am

        I wish they’d done this first.

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        • Alex Reedin October 13, 2016 at 4:27 pm

          I don’t think that’s politically realistic. Having crossbikes existing in the real world ahead of time will be a huge help in getting this passed at the Legislature. Ideally someone sympathetic like a parent with cute kids in tow will testify in favor of it at the Legislature. 🙂

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          • J_R October 14, 2016 at 7:41 am

            By getting “this passed in the legislature” I guess you must be referring to establishing crossbikes as something that defines right-of-way responsibilities by giving bikes priority over cars at some locations.

            If you think testimony of a parent with kids in tow is going to get this through the legislature, I suggest looking at the battles over crosswalks. Advocates have tried, with well-reasoned arguments and testimony, to try to clarify the use of pedestrian crosswalks. They couldn’t even get the legislature to buy into requiring that motorists yield when a pedestrian is about to enter the street. A pedestrian still has to actually BE IN THE STREET before a motorist is actually required to yield.

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            • Alex Reedin October 14, 2016 at 11:00 am

              Oh, I know it’s going to be a big lift. But it would be pretty much impossible without crossbikes existing on the ground.

              One of the few good transportation-related things I know my state senator, Rod Monroe, has done was to sponsor the hand-signal bill (which did not pass).

              http://psuvanguard.com/cars-may-stop-when-wavers-walk/

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    • wsbob October 13, 2016 at 10:30 am

      Thinking about the different types of riding people prefer, I suppose this ‘crossbike’ pavement paint might be of benefit to people that prefer to ride at maybe 5-10 mph, tops. As a category, people likely interested in cruisers and dutch bikes, preferring that type of riding over faster riding, may represent a big, currently inactive group of potential riders the city may have ideas of hoping entice to be active riders.

      For that type of rider, I’m glad if it helps them, though I’m doubtful it will, or can, even with some formalized, official entry into the MUTCD. Too much of the various street paint techniques seeking to regulate traffic, seems to visually clutter the street, making it too complex to sort out and easily follow.

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  • Kyle Banerjee October 13, 2016 at 10:23 am

    IMO, the crossbikes increase visual noise and confusion while reducing traction.

    Looking at these things from a legal point of view is useless because one thing that should be crystal clear is that they mean different things to both drivers and cyclists. When that happens, the laws of physics rather than the laws of the State of Oregon are more relevant.

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 13, 2016 at 11:13 am

      On the bright side, since they are always a “swerve” away from the straight path of a cyclist, they won’t reduce traction for riders 🙂

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      • Kyle Banerjee October 13, 2016 at 4:18 pm

        That’s fine for straight line braking, but when a swerve is what you need to do, it won’t be helpful. In the case at hand, it’s not a super big deal because cycling speeds are lower to a modest grade. But it could be relevant in other areas.

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        • Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 13, 2016 at 4:25 pm

          My point is, since they don’t do any good, there’s no reason to swerve over to use them. So there’s no traction loss.

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  • stephanlindner October 13, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    I would like to suggest that PBOT or the researchers at PSU use the 70 or so comments on this website as qualitative information for their research. This is more than anecdotal evidence because people posting here bike frequently and have a good perspective regarding how these crossbikes affect them.

    Also, for the record: as a daily commuter I think that crossbikes add ambiguity, which I would think PBOT is trying to avoid. Instead of just implementing these crossbikes they could asked for feedback from bike riders and car drivers. In other instances, PBOT uses such a type of stakeholder feedback process. I do not understand why it has not been done here.

    I would prefer that PBOT saves the money is spends on these type of crosswalks and instead puts it into solutions that decrease ambiguity, for instance by putting a traffic light on the Going/MLK intersection. We know that this intersection can get bike riders killed because car drivers stop to let me pass but there are multiple lanes, so it is quite possible that a car driver uses the lane where no car has stopped yet and hits a bike rider. I do not understand why there is not enough money for such a project that would clearly make this intersection more safe but enough money to put paint on the road that is really not that helpful.

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  • Rob October 13, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    PBOT, please put a stop to the “crossbike” madness. It isn’t helping us cyclists…

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  • Kevin Wagoner October 13, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    I appreciate the effort but I found them immediately confusing. We need to maintain a clear understanding that cars need to stop at cross walks. This seems to muddy the waters to me.

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  • Scott October 13, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    Isn’t every corner a cross walk and if so, wouldn’t at crossbike at a marked or unmarked crosswalk require vehicles to stop (Regardless of the crossbike )?

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  • q October 14, 2016 at 12:00 am

    As I understand: Most but not all corners are crosswalks, but crossbikes at marked or unmarked crosswalks don’t require vehicles to stop.

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  • soren October 14, 2016 at 8:55 am

    crossbikes work and are measurably safer than no paint:

    http://nacto.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Portlands-Blue-Bike-Lanes.pdf

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  • Vince October 14, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Any markings on the road are a form of shorthand. In what is supposed to be a shared language, they tell road users what is expected of them at a given location and what behavior they can expect of those around them.
    Any time new markings, like crossbikes, are used, without making a concerted effort to educate all road users of their intent, they are simply a waste of paint.
    Think back to the green bike boxes. Even with billboards around the city, it still took people a long time to understand how they are supposed to work.

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    • soren October 14, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      funny that you mention bike boxes because these facilities were reviled in the comments on bike portland much like crossbikes are now. now advanced stop lines/bike boxes are in the mutcd and adherence by motorists is high…

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    • q October 14, 2016 at 10:59 pm

      Yes–good description of road markings. And the education works in a typical case where a marking means something clear. But how does the education work for crossbikes? You have to tell cyclists that the behavior they can expect from drivers is that they may stop, or they may not. And what is the behavior that is expected of drivers? That they can stop if they want, but they don’t have to.

      I can’t think of any other marking that’s so open to interpretation, with all interpretations being equally valid.

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  • chris October 15, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Am I the only person who hates all this paint all over our streets? It is such a safety hazard in rainy PDX, be it crosswalk markings or the flower paintings covering entire intersections like 33rd & Yamhill. More than once I’ve felt my tires start to slip out from under me on the paint, especially scary when signaling with my left hand, braking with my right while turning left onto Clinton from 50th.

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  • Mike October 19, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Two simple solutions to the legal problem with MUTCD compliance:

    1) Paint white solid bars on both sides of the crossbike. You can keep the green stripes in the middle, but have defined the space as a crosswalk with standard white markings as well.

    2) Amend the Oregon adopted MUTCD to include language indicating that crossbikes are a sub-type of crosswalk and are permitted to be striped with green (and perhaps blue as well) paint. We already make changes to the national MUTCD when adopting the Oregon version, so this is not without precedent.

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