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In SF, Uber’s robot cars follow Oregon law and bike advocates are very afraid

Posted by on January 6th, 2017 at 9:51 am

Graphic from the SF Bicycle Coalition. In Oregon, the opposite is true — the image on the left is “correct” and the right is “wrong.”

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is so afraid of how Uber’s autonomous vehicles take right turns at intersections that they’ve posted a warning for bike riders and have started a petition to force the company to end the practice.

Interestingly, the dangerous maneuver being made by Uber-bots is exactly what Oregon law requires — and what Portland’s chief bike planner prefers.

Here’s the deal:

The Bicycle Coalition’s position is that the cars are “not yet ready for our streets.” The main reason? When the cars come to an intersection they don’t merge into the bicycle lane prior to making a right turn at the intersection. Instead, they start their right turn at the intersection. Here’s more from their petition page:

“… the autonomous vehicle in ‘self-driving’ mode as well as the one in front of it took an unsafe right-hook-style turn through a bike lane. Twice. This kind of turn is … known to be one of the primary causes of collisions between cars and people who bike resulting in serious injury or fatality. It’s also an unsafe practice that we address in all of the safety curriculum we offer to professional drivers, including the videos we consulted on for Uber as recently as this fall… If you support safe streets, please sign the petition to tell Uber to address this dangerous and illegal turning behavior immediately.”

In Portland that same “dangerous and illegal” behavior is actually required by law.

Unlike California, our state maintains the idea that encouraging people in cars to merge across a bike lane prior to right turn is a bad idea.

This issue came to a head in 2007 after two high-profile right-hook collisions just two weeks apart resulted in the deaths of two bicycle riders. Following those tragedies some pointed to California’s law as a better alternative that would save lives. The Portland Bureau of Transportation disagreed.

Here’s PBOT Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller in 2007 defending the practice:

“This [the California way] is an approach based on a ‘vehicular cycling’ model, which suggests that bicycles, as vehicles operating on the roadway, should behave the same as the primary vehicles for which the roadways were designed: automobiles. The benefit of this approach is that it takes cyclists who are going straight through an intersection away from the path of a right-turning motorist. It conforms to standard automobile operating rules, in which a vehicle going straight is always to the left of a vehicle turning right.

We believe there are a few problems with this approach.

The main problem is that vehicular cycling is generally best used by those cyclists who are already the most fit and confident. While knowledge of vehicular cycling and the skills it encourages are beneficial to all cyclists, requiring such behavior at each intersection would not feel comfortable to the vast majority of Portlanders — the very people we are working to attract to bicycling… We believe that inviting motorists into bicycle lanes creates three conditions that will be uncomfortable to most cyclists.”

Geller then pointed to the Dutch example, where the practice is to maintain a separation between bicycle and automobile users.

But that was almost a decade ago and Portland (like many other cities) still struggles with how to minimize the risk of right-hooks. And there are some signs that Portland is moving toward a different approach. Two years ago PBOT removed a bike lane at the intersection of N Rosa Parks Way and Albina and replaced it with a shared lane where bicycle and auto users are supposed to mix.

Carl Snyder, the PBOT engineer who oversaw the project, said the benefit of the shared design is that it makes it more clear where the conflict point exists. As to whether it makes cycling safer, he said, “The jury’s out.”

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

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174 Comments
  • bikeninja January 6, 2017 at 9:59 am

    If an Uber right hooks you does it stop and wait for authorities? Or does it drive in a sort of robotic hit and run?

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    • dan January 6, 2017 at 10:07 am

      Right hooked by an autonomous Uber…just think how happy that will make the personal injury lawyers

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      • Pete January 6, 2017 at 4:48 pm

        The car is a contractor, not an employee.

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        • Capizzi January 8, 2017 at 5:14 pm

          Killer robot contractor. ‘Uber Terminator’ sounds better with a german accent. Judgement Day.

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    • eawrist January 6, 2017 at 10:40 am

      The unit is humanely euthanized and made to pass butter for the remainder of its life.

      http://giphy.com/gifs/LSE9bqWzLiola

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    • John Lascurettes January 6, 2017 at 11:03 am

      I’m sure the robot will say “Failed to see obstruction” and then be slapped on the wrist with an electronically payable fine.

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  • Scott Mizée January 6, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Very interesting. I was aware of the Oregon law, but not the California law. -A very different strategy through the intersection.

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    • John Eldon March 13, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      Yup — California has it right, Oregon has it wrong.

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  • Nick January 6, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Thank you for this post. I read the story out of California and got confused that what I thought was the right thing to do as a driver – stay in my lane, check for cyclists before turning right – was actually dangerous and unsafe.

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    • Mark Nockleby January 11, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      CVC 21717 requires motorist to merge into the bike lane before making a right turn. It does not require motorists to run over cyclists in the bike lane. You merge into the bike lane like you would merge into any other traffic lane. Check to see if there’s traffic there first, and then merge when it is safe to do so.

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  • Rob January 6, 2017 at 10:13 am

    The autonomous vehicles have 360° uninterupted vision. Shouldn’t they be able to avoid hitting a cyclist regardless of the law? Isn’t the issue more how aggressive we allow them to be?

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. January 6, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Uber is a slimy company. As soon as they perfect the self-driving cab, expect them to fire every single one of their “driver-partners” or whatever the hell they call them to avoid taking any responsibility.

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    • Rob January 6, 2017 at 10:35 am

      This is an issue that goes well beyond Uber. Serious forcasters expect more than 3 million truckers to lose their jobs in the next decade. Sympathy for workers and antipathy for slimy corporations will not change this. The solutions, if there are any, will be structural changes to how we perceive and organize society. Similar to how we’ll need to deal with homelessness.

      Meantime, I’m interested in how accident adverse we force the robot drivers to be.

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      • Spiffy January 6, 2017 at 10:41 am

        crash averse…

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      • Kittens January 6, 2017 at 4:33 pm

        Oh ok. That’s comforting since we’ve done such an amazing job handeling homelessness. The “reorganization of society” you call for is well underway but I’m afraid it’s not what you’d imagine: just a couple of people making billions while the rest of us become high tech serfs.

        The whole tech-perpetuated aura of inevitability is a hateful lie and a fraud to convince people we are powerless to shape the future. We make the reality we inhabit. If the US wanted to outlaw driverless cars or mandate driver retraining to compensate for their loss, they could do it tomorrow.

        I hope people pull their heads out of their *__* before everyone is unemployed save a few programmers and the rest of us are left with nothing. The tech companies are not your friends people. Uber, Amazon, Google and Apple are not public utilities. They have only one purpose in life and that is profit and they will stop at nothing including destroying your job.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty January 6, 2017 at 4:39 pm

          There is no doubt that in 20 years there will be far fewer employed people than there are today. It is also clear (to me at least) that there will need to be a major rethink about how resources are distributed across society. My guess is that we’ll something approximating a Basic Income.

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          • Charley January 6, 2017 at 4:58 pm

            This is going to be the logical, though terrifying, end point of technological development: millions of humans replaced by autonomous computers, which are ultimately cheaper. I don’t know if universal basic income will make it past the GOP, but it’s the only chance we have of redefining our lives in the face of economic obsolescence.

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            • Kevin January 7, 2017 at 12:08 pm

              We’ll get to the point where there is no choice. Political change, dead people, or radical (and probably violent) revolution. The GOP will change their narrative before that happens.

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          • Kittens January 6, 2017 at 5:12 pm

            Though I don’t know you from Adam, I think you might be less dispassionate when they come for YOUR job. These are people we are talking about. Not just figures on a page.

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    • dan January 6, 2017 at 10:36 am

      They don’t have to fire them because they don’t work for Uber! It’s brilliant, I tell you, absolutely brilliant. Anyone who doesn’t shop at WalMart, tries to eat local, and supports local businesses (i.e., many people living in close-in Portland) should never use Uber.

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      • Spiffy January 6, 2017 at 10:43 am

        I tried it just once… the app was unfriendly and the car stank of cheap cologne… I hear strong cologne smell is a common complaint…

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      • highrider January 6, 2017 at 10:53 am

        No need to; Radio Cab is a locally owned co-operative that supports, among other things KMHD and All Classical FM- two of Portland’s cultural treasures.

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        • Spiffy January 6, 2017 at 11:12 am

          Radio Cab is my go-to because it’s the lesser of evils… but I’d still rather walk 5 miles…

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. January 6, 2017 at 11:54 am

        I’d rather stand outside in the cold for 20 minutes waiting for a TriMet bus than give Uber a dime of my money.

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        • Bjorn January 6, 2017 at 3:28 pm

          unfortunately every night the wait goes from as long as an hour to as long as 6 hours as Trimet basically shuts down before last call which seems like a pretty poor way to set up a system which could be doing a lot more to help reduce drunk driving. It is great that it is free on New Year’s Eve, but the bus that we would have used to have gotten home stopped running before midnight!

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. January 6, 2017 at 3:51 pm

            Yes, we really need some sort of night bus system here. Portland is growing, it’s time we admit that sometimes people want to stay out past 2 am.

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      • Josh Gold January 6, 2017 at 12:56 pm

        I recommend PDX Yellow Cab if you are looking for a cab service / car ride. All the drivers own the company and they are 100% local.

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    • RH January 6, 2017 at 11:08 am

      You must not like mass transit. Those slimy buses and light rail take jobs away from taxi drivers, car dealers, etc…

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    • Blake January 6, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      Don’t disagree on the slime factor, but even with autonomous vehicles, they still benefit by having non-employees providing vehicles because they push financing costs off of Uber and onto the autonymous vehicle owner…important for a business with no defensible business model reliant on maintaining access to unlimited investor money to cover their losses

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    • John Liu
      John Liu January 6, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      As technology advances, certain categories of jobs become obsolete.

      There used to be telephone switchboard operators, elevator operators, telegram delivery boys, and so on.

      Taxi/Uber driver may be an obsolete job in a decade.

      Is that a bad thing? Clearly so, for those drivers who can’t find any other job.

      Is that a good thing? Possibly so, if self driving taxis make on-demand transportation so inexpensive and convenient that far fewer people feel the need to drive their own cars, far fewer people are injured in car crashes, and those taxis can be small and electric.

      Suppose it costs $10,000 per year to own, maintain, insure, park, and fuel a private car. Suppose the average trip in a self driving taxi costs $5. You’d be able to take 2,000 trips, or over 5 trips a day, and it would still be cheaper than car ownership.

      If most people chose to use self-driving taxis instead of owning and driving private cars, then cities would only need a fraction of the parking that they currently have. Curbside parking could be eliminated in commercial areas and that space used for bike lanes and pedestrians.

      Would the good outweigh the bad in this case? Maybe so.

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  • rainbike January 6, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Uber robot cars must be held to Isaac Asimov’s first law of robotics: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

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    • Stephen Keller January 6, 2017 at 10:56 am

      Sadly, I expect Asimov’s laws will ever remain a fiction. Unlike the law of gravity, which more or less works the same everywhere (the interior of black holes excepted), Asimov’s laws depend on people doing the Right Thing with their creative juices.

      Unfortunately, I expect the very first thing autonomous vehicles will be taught to do is wage war. Perhaps it has already been done. Are there any fully-autonomous drones in play, or are they all still remotely piloted? Whether they exist now or are yet to come, their output will certainly include very real human casualties.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty January 6, 2017 at 11:31 am

        It’s been done. There are autonomous sentries with lethal weapons in Korea, and some drones can loose their weapons without human direction.

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        • B. Carfree January 6, 2017 at 12:19 pm

          Yeah, we’re in more of a Terminator mode than an Asimov mode. Paul Krugman, famous Foundation Trilogy fan, is probably very disappointed.

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  • Spiffy January 6, 2017 at 10:39 am

    “known to be one of the primary causes of collisions between cars and people who bike resulting in serious injury or fatality”

    correction: it’s the primary cause of collisions between DRIVERS and cyclists, not cars and cyclists… the autonomous cars won’t be making the same right-hook mistake that drivers do…

    this is a non-issue, and an improvement over having to swerve left around the turning vehicle or having to yield to traffic in the left lane now that a turning vehicle is blocking your lane…

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    • B. Carfree January 6, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      Also, that same SFBC previously found that the number one source of injury to cyclists in collisions involving cars was due to dooring, not right hooks. This is undoubtedly the case in most places that insist on door-zone bike lanes like SF and PDX.

      (For what it’s worth, the door zone can extend out to twelve feet from the curb, so a standard eight foot parking lane with a six foot bike lane is actually only a two foot bike lane clear of the door zone, and four inches of that are taken up by the half-width of the white line that is “owned” by the bike lane.) No wonder the cycling community works so hard to get skinny.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu January 6, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Assuming the self-driving cars have sensors looking to the side and rear, and are programmed appropriately, they won’t be right-hooking anyone.

    Some rules and practices suitable for human drivers won’t be necessary or relevant for self-driving cars. For example, when detection and reaction time is measured in thousandths of a second, safe following distances can be much shorter than what human drivers need.

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    • Chris I January 6, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      Exactly. In an ideal world, the Oregon law is much better for cyclists. As long as everyone is paying attention and yields, you never have to worry about a car blocking your bike lane. In reality, the California law is probably safer. This is not the case with automated vehicles. 20 years from now, would you rather have that queue of turning autonomous vehicles waiting in the vehicle lane to your left, or in the bike lane in front of you?

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      • John Lascurettes January 6, 2017 at 4:30 pm

        This, exactly.

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      • JAT in Seattle January 9, 2017 at 2:43 pm

        I agree with this (and clearly not the only one) but we don’t live in an ideal world (yet?…) and as a driver and as a cyclist I presently prefer the California approach, which is a sentence I never thought I’d type.

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    • Jeff S(egundo) January 7, 2017 at 9:32 am

      And presumably they will reliably activate the right turn signal 100′ in advance of the turn, which allows a cyclist an opportunity for self-protection. Reliable use of a turn signal does not happen with human drivers ~ some of you may have noticed this.

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      • Pete January 7, 2017 at 11:00 am

        This is exactly what I’ve wondered about for a while now. I’ve been riding around these cars here in Silicon Valley for years, and I rarely see one signal a turn, but there’s no way of knowing what mode they’re in. I raced one of the Google Lexi to an intersection a while back to see if I could position myself beside it at the turn (with caution, of course), but as our light turned yellow he jumped into the left-turn lane (no signal), but I think that was solely the driver’s decision.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty January 7, 2017 at 7:55 pm

        Signals are critical.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty January 6, 2017 at 11:12 am

    I was almost right-hooked by a driver doing exactly this last night. They hadn’t signaled, and I’m glad I slowed slightly to give myself time to react when they did cut across my lane.

    I know I’m a broken record on this, but right turns should never be allowed across through travel lanes. We wouldn’t tolerate this for cars, and we shouldn’t do so for bikes.

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    • dwk January 6, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Exactly.
      Bike lanes should be done away with in most cases and they should always end well before intersections.

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      • BradWagon January 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm

        I despise bike lanes ending before intersections. “I know you were enjoying that bike lane and that approaching cars are expecting bikes to be in the bike lane right next to them… but have fun merging into traffic moving twice your speed!”

        All or nothing please.

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      • GlowBoy January 6, 2017 at 2:40 pm

        You can pry my bike lanes out of my cold dead hands, dwk.

        You think waving your magic wand and doing away with bike lanes at intersections is going to do away with right hooks? Some of us have been riding bikes since long before there were bike lanes, and right hooks have ALWAYS been with us.

        Here’s the issue: Bikes are generally slower than cars. As slower traffic, bikes keep to the right, cars pass on the left. THIS IS TRUE WHETHER OR NOT THERE ARE BIKE LANES. But cars will also make right turns, sometimes just after passing cyclists. Adding or removing bike lanes DOES NOT CHANGE this, people.

        The Oregon law is beautiful and should not change. Living in Minnesota (with California’s law) I miss it. Having people turn from the bike lane (when there isn’t a dedicated turn lane) just means that turning cars back up and block the bike lane anywhere there’s significant pedestrian traffic. It is truly sad that 3rd and Madison killed someone, but as someone who used to ride there daily I can guarantee you that intersection would be a disaster at rush hour if all the turning cars merged into the bike lane first.

        Bottom line: education and training will do more to solve this than infrastructure tweaks. Drivers (and autonomous vehicles) need to check to the right and make sure they’re not cutting off cyclists, regardless of the road design. And although the legal responsibility lies 110% with the driver making the turn, cyclists have an enormous ability to anticipate and avoid right-hook situations. In tens of thousands of miles of riding I’ve never been hooked and only had a couple of fairly close calls (on high-speed downhills), but many hundreds of potential right hook conflicts that I avoided by being alert and sometimes even modulating my speed to reduce the risk of a hook.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty January 6, 2017 at 4:21 pm

          >>> It is truly sad that 3rd and Madison killed someone, but as someone who used to ride there daily I can guarantee you that intersection would be a disaster at rush hour if all the turning cars merged into the bike lane first. <<<

          This is exactly what happens at 1st & Madison, just before the Hawthorne Bridge, and it works great. I've never had a conflict there, but they happen frequently at 3rd & Madison.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. January 6, 2017 at 4:24 pm

            1st and Madison is by far worse. I don’t even bother staying in the bike lane as it swerves to the left. I just continue straight ahead and stay in the car right-turn lane until the lane ends and it becomes a bike lane again.

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            • Pete January 6, 2017 at 4:58 pm

              Did you just admit to a wee bit of vehicular cycling… ? 😉

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. January 10, 2017 at 10:34 am

                I’m no stranger to taking the lane if I have to. I’d prefer not to, though.

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            • GlowBoy January 10, 2017 at 10:30 am

              1st and Madison is so not like 3rd and Madison. They’re not even configured the same. At 1st there is a dedicated right-turn lane; at 3rd there is not. The flow of the general lanes is much different at these two intersections. I find it much easier to scoot over and temporarily blend into the car traffic at 1st than I do at 3rd.

              I much more often find the general lanes backed up at 3rd than at 1st (where they only back up for bridge lifts, because it’s the LAST intersection downtown). At 3rd I often find the general lanes backed up due to congestion behind 1st and 2nd, and if some jacka55 decides to turn from the bike lane (which still happens), then I’m STUCK. My choices are to thread my way around stopped cars or (illegally) hop on the sidewalk. I usually choose the latter.

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        • wsbob January 7, 2017 at 1:46 am

          “…The Oregon law is beautiful and should not change. …” glowboy

          Finally, someone else has the courage to speak in defense of what to anyone riding bikes in traffic, are the obvious benefits to people riding, of bike lanes which people are prohibited from driving in for their approach to turns. That’s Oregon’s bike lane law.

          Education in riding a bike safely in traffic, is as you say, very important towards helping people that ride, understand how to minimize their chances of being involved in right hook collisions. Not many people get this education except through trial and error on the road experience, and the learning curve associated with this education method, can be difficult and hazardous, even lethal.

          Provide easier and better ways for people new to or unsure about biking in traffic, to gain an understanding of the procedure they’ll benefit from using when, on a bike in the bike lane, and approaching intersections, they find motor vehicles in the main lane sweep past them to swerve into or across the bike lane for turns at the intersection.

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    • wsbob January 6, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      “…We wouldn’t tolerate this for cars, and we shouldn’t do so for bikes.” h kitty

      Some compromise in road design, is unavoidable. Many roads barely have room enough for a bike lane, let alone a right turn lane to the right of the bike lane.

      Though here in the Portland area, I expect there are examples of that kind of configuration, and the opportunity to see how they work in practice. In Beaverton, on Millikan Way east bound, on the west side of Cedar Hills Blvd, there is such an example. Approximately 100′ west of the intersection, paint indicates to east bound main lane road users, the opportunity to cross over the bike lane and into the right turn lane in preparation for a turn at the intersection.

      Performance of this configuration is a mixed success, I’d say. Maybe helps some to reduce right hooks…though there is a tendency for people driving to speed ahead of someone biking in the bike lane, just about when the person biking is at the crossover point on the bike lane, cutting close in front of the person biking. What some people casually refer to as their through travel, being’cut off’

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  • Todd Boulanger January 6, 2017 at 11:24 am

    I do hope that our nation’s traffic engineers get a fix on “this” so that cyclists as vulnerable roadway users have better protection at intersections vs. worse than on the bike lane links (roadway sections between intersections)…for too long now the US traffic engineering profession has just muddled through when it came to intersection treatments for bikeway networks, especially retrofits.

    I have had many miles and years using Dutch roadways and find their treatments work with a lot less angst and confusion…

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  • BradWagon January 6, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Hmm who to emulate when it comes to cycling infrastructure? Netherlands or California? Decisions decisions…

    Obviously on street bike lanes are just about the worst solution. Teaches drivers they don’t have to share road with cyclists without actually removing cyclists from the road. Need completely protected bike lanes cars never drive in and rules for experienced cyclists that prefer vehicular cycling to use full vehicle lane. Can’t go half and half.

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    • Stephan January 6, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      I think one approach in Europe us to have separated green phases but that does not work here because drivers are generally allowed and therefore expect to be able to make right turns whether or not they have a redosignal. This is generally not the case in Europe.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty January 6, 2017 at 10:43 pm

        A separate green phase also does nothing to help the biggest problem, which is cyclists approaching from the rear — the problem will occur whenever a stopped car starts moving forward to make their turn as cyclists move up more speedily in the bike lane. This is how I almost got hooked, and a delayed phase would not have changed the dynamic (except that I would have been fine, but the person behind me would have been in danger).

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  • wsbob January 6, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    It seems to me that California’s approach to, and right turn in the bike lane, is the “…dangerous maneuver…”, and I wouldn’t support implementation of that right turn procedure in exchange for Oregon’s bike lane law, which keeps motor vehicle traffic from driving in the bike lane.

    I haven’t looked into how Uber has been able to program its robot cars to do it, but I’m interested in how the cars are able to determine a bike lane is adjacent to them, and how they are able to determine exactly when to turn at the intersection to minimize crossing into the bike lane, before they’re fully at the intersection proceeding at that point to cross over it. Also would like to know how many feet and maybe seconds too, in advance of turns and lane merges, the cars activate their turn signals.

    I’m glad to see PBOT’s bike co-ordinator, Roger Geller, quoted re the “California Way”, as having said the following, excerpted in this story:

    “…We believe there are a few problems with this approach.

    The main problem is that vehicular cycling is generally best used by those cyclists who are already the most fit and confident. While knowledge of vehicular cycling and the skills it encourages are beneficial to all cyclists, requiring such behavior at each intersection would not feel comfortable to the vast majority of Portlanders — the very people we are working to attract to bicycling… We believe that inviting motorists into bicycle lanes creates three conditions that will be uncomfortable to most cyclists.” …” geller

    In order to use the road with a bike, if legally implemented road use procedures like the California driving in the bike lane law for turns, leave people finding that they’ve got to have the experience and skill of a seasoned bike in traffic rider in order to have a safe and comfortable ride, I’m afraid many good potential riders are just going to say ‘the heck with it…I’m better off driving’.

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  • Clark in Vancouver January 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    What is an automated vehicle programmed to do at a protected intersection?

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    • Pete January 6, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      segfault

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  • B. Carfree January 6, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    It’s a disservice to call the requirement that motorists first merge into the bike lane (while yielding to bikes) before making a right turn “The California way.” This is the national norm, required in most if not all of the states other than Arizona and Oregon.

    Also, the issue as presented in other news sources wasn’t so much that Uber’s autonomous vehicles failed to first merge into the bike lane before turning right, it was that they failed to yield to bikes before turning across their paths. Changing the programming to merge first without also changing it to make the cars yield wouldn’t help matters. We’re focusing on the wrong failure here.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 6, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      As discussed elsewhere, it is not even clear (to me, at least) that Oregon is different. The best I can say is that it is highly ambiguous.

      If automated vehicles were designed to eliminate the right-hook potential (by yielding appropriately), I would actually prefer them to turn from the auto lane, allowing bikes to pass safely to their right. The failure mode of humans doing that could be eliminated by sensors to detect cyclists approaching from the rear, and having the software check if the way is clear before initiating a turn.

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    • wsbob January 6, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      “…Changing the programming to merge first without also changing it to make the cars yield wouldn’t help matters.” b carfree

      If autonomous cars can be successfully programmed to yield to people riding in the bike lane, it’s likely they can also be programmed to stay out of the bike lane until reaching the intersection to make their turn.

      Some of us reading here, have been discussing in this week’s Monday Roundup, Oregon’s laws regarding turns with motor vehicles, on roads where there are bike lanes present. an Oregon statute specifically dealing with motor vehicle use relative to bike lanes, and also the Oregon Driver’s manual, clearly advise that traveling in the bike lane is not allowed. There is just one area of vagueness about this in the Oregon statutes, and that’s in the statute specifying the procedure for right turns, a procedure that does not offer instructions as to when a bike lane is present; likely not noted due to oversight.

      What’s been referred to as ‘the california way’ of making turns where bike lanes are present, may as you say, be the national norm for making turns…I haven’t checked to see if what you say is accurate, but I would say that norm is not the better way.

      Oregon is noted for learning from mistakes other states have made. Just because someone elsewhere has done things a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s a good way to do things. Keeping motor vehicle use out of bike lanes as much as possible, strengthens the safety and quality of bike lane use for people riding.

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      • B. Carfree January 6, 2017 at 3:31 pm

        “Oregon is noted for learning from mistakes other states have made.”- wsbob

        I’m having trouble coming up with things Oregon initiated that other states hadn’t already implemented that were improvements other than a big advertising program for land use in the 1970s (which wasn’t that different than what was already in place in other locales but with less formal structure). We have, however, been pretty good at copying failures (we copied almost exactly California’s disastrous Prop. 13, which has severely damaged the schools of both states). Fortunately, we have also been pretty good about following successes like the bike lanes and bike paths that California originated, although some of our current implementations leave a lot to be desired.

        In terms of whether our almost-unique approach to motor vehicles turning right where a bike lane is present, I fail to see how it can ever be a good thing to stick to a non-standard feature decade after decade when there has been no success in making it part of standard practice across the nation. Should we also change the colors of our traffic lights to better serve the 8% of males who are red/green colorblind? One could argue that going to red and blue would make it easier for these people to discern the difference and thus make the roads safer, but in the absence of a national change this would likely just make our roadways more dangerous.

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        • q January 6, 2017 at 10:23 pm

          Your comments make me wonder why traffic laws aren’t national. You have a good point that inconsistency adds danger. If an Oregon law differs from what is most typical nationally, it seems it needs to be quite a bit safer just to overcome the safety problem arising from it being inconsistent.

          But if it IS a much safer law, then why isn’t it typical nationally?

          Are conditions really that different state to state that we need 50 sets of traffic laws? I’m not arguing for national traffic laws, just wondering why states feel the need to have their own unique laws.

          In at least some other areas, such as building codes, the trend seems to be towards national uniformity.

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        • wsbob January 7, 2017 at 1:24 am

          I hope to review for more current examples, but for starters, long ago, Oregonians decided upon the beach bill, so the state’s beaches could remain open to the public, and wouldn’t be become exclusively accessible by private property owners. Oregon decided to have urban growth boundaries, to offer at least some margin of control over haphazardly occurring, destructive and wasteful urban sprawl that had occurred over other parts of the country.

          California originated bike lanes and bike paths? That’s interesting…tell us more. What I’ve heard about Oregonians, and more specifically, Portland of the late 50’s, 60’s and years beyond, is that on regularly receiving word of it…news, tv, movies, first hand, etc, had become increasingly concerned and disturbed about the extraordinary traffic congestion problems that were happening in California.

          I believe it was concern over that growing problem that was a major factor in Portland’s and all of Oregon residents’ support of spending their money on the construction of bike lanes on major roads in the state, as a start towards finding ways to resolve some of the growing transportation problems looming ahead as the state moved into the future.

          Riding in the bike lane is difficult enough with the bike lane free of people driving in it. People that ride bikes are vulnerable road users, relative to people driving motor vehicles.This is part of the reasoning, I feel, of the people that worked to create Oregon’s bike lane law…behind making bike lanes in Oregon, essentially a lane of travel reserved exclusively for the use of people traveling by bike.

          It’s of some amazement to me that a weblog attracting so many people supposedly interested in countering the spread of street and road infrastructure primarily committed to accommodating motor vehicle use…has such a number of people as it seems to, supporting access of the bike lanes for travel with motor vehicles. That’s not an encouraging sign for the prospect of improved conditions for biking. It’s a step backward away from the creation of more favorable conditions for biking.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty January 8, 2017 at 1:08 pm

            >>> It’s a step backward away from the creation of more favorable conditions for biking. <<<

            That's one point-of-view; another is letting drivers merge before turning would be safer.

            People who argue both cases are motivated by creating more favorable conditions for cycling and safety.

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            • wsbob January 9, 2017 at 2:04 am

              Allowing travel with motor vehicles to encroach on road territory reserved exclusively for travel with bikes, does not work towards the creation of conditions more favorable for biking.

              California law, in allowing people driving to merge into and travel in bike lanes in advance of their eventual turn, allows people driving to encroach on bike lanes. That’s not safer than Oregon law for people that ride bikes, it’s less safe for these vulnerable road users.

              That motor vehicles merging into and traveling in the bike lane for turns is less safe than keeping use of motor vehicles out of road territory reserved exclusively for vulnerable road users, people biking, is why Oregon law doesn’t allow this procedure.

              “…People who argue both cases are motivated by creating more favorable conditions for cycling and safety. …” h kitty

              I think it’s wise to question very seriously, the motivation of anyone arguing in favor of allowing motor vehicle use to encroach in bike lanes, claiming that this use of the bike lanes creates more favorable conditions for, as you say, cycling and safety.

              Allowing the potential for right hooks to occur over greater lengths of the bike lane, doesn’t make conditions for biking, more favorable or safe. Neither does increased exposure of people biking in the bike lane, to direct blasts of exhaust from people’s motor vehicles merging into and traveling legally for up to 200′ in the bike lanes in preparation for turns, make conditions for biking, more favorable or safe.

              I’m interested in hearing more details about whether Uber is truly managing to have its autonomous vehicles successfully yield to people biking in the bike lanes, and avoid collisions with people biking in the bike lanes.

              It sounds as though the company, in minimizing the distance its cars travel in the bike lane, may have done so to reduce the potential for collision with people biking, despite the law in California allowing this potential for collision. In this respect, Uber has ‘gone the extra mile’, so to speak, in favor of better and safer conditions for biking.

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  • Cory P January 6, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Even with this dangerous fault. I would still trust almost any self driving car with my safety more than your typical human driver. I think we as cyclists, pedestrians and Skateboarders will be very impressed with the level of caution that these cars have.

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    • BrianC January 6, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      I wouldn’t.

      Not as a computer programmer with almost 40 years in the technology industry. Having worked a good part of my career in embedded real time, with forays into medical and aviation work.

      Computers are programmed by people. People working for corporations whose bottom line is generating as much money as possible. You can be sure every engineering choice/cost will be evaluated against the bottom line and the potential payout cost in the event of an error.

      Sorry, but that’s the way I see things.

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    • mran1984 January 6, 2017 at 10:51 pm

      I would never take “big blue” over the human. The phone, or car, in your possession should not be the smartest operator in the area.

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    • John Eldon March 13, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      I generally concur. However, I still believe we should perfect driverless technology on small, lightweight neighborhood electric vehicles before turning a fleet of large driverless SUVs loose on the road.

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  • Bicylist Mama Carie January 6, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    My jury vote is FIX the Albina & Rosa Parks signals. When I’m waiting on the sidewalk in the bike lane, many times the cars don’t pay attention to the special bike signal and seem confused with the extra red/yellow/green light that is hanging. I know I feel confused when I see two lanes for cars and three signals lights on the pole, and a special bike signal light to pay attention to too.

    The right turn lane for cars competes with cars that have the green to turn, regardless if they “No Right Turn” special light is on or not. It’s hard to make eye contact to try to confirm with car drivers that they see me, let alone me or them wave and smile, so I feel they & I are following the traffic signal directions.

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  • BB January 6, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Simple solution to this would be that automated vehicles should be required to be able to identify any bicycle within 100 feet, and to not be moving if there is a bicycle within 100 feet.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu January 6, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      This has to be the most unrealistic proposal I’ve ever heard.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty January 6, 2017 at 2:15 pm

        It sounds like you’re new to the BikePortland comments section. Except I know you’re not, so I hope your amnesia is getting better.

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        • John Liu
          John Liu January 6, 2017 at 2:52 pm

          Signal to noise ratio here is getting worse.

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      • BB January 6, 2017 at 4:05 pm

        Why? Because you’re used to being able to fly down the street at maximum speed at all times? Or because you trust unthinking robots to be able to do this as well?

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  • Champs January 6, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    I don’t know which states’ rules are right or wrong, but if autonomous cars have 360° sensors, right/left hooks are not a problem.

    Irrespective of operator, defensive cycling is pretty good at preventing them in the first place. If you you never learn the advanced positioning skills, just remember that if you slam into a brick wall, it’s better to be walking than running.

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  • Tom Hardy January 6, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Having something to do with this thread it the Proposal for ALL TRUCKS with 8+ feet in front of their rear or leading rear wheel be equipped with “Sweepers”. This would allow, or cause, either overtaking cyclists or pedestrians to be deflected out of the way of the rear wheels of either trailers or drive wheels when the vehicle operator (driver or automation) does not notice cyclists coming next to them at traffic lights. It even would protect pedestrians that are busy texting as the wander into the crosswalk as the light turns.
    Who knows it might even protect the driverless Uber cars from being run over.

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  • Kyle Banerjee January 6, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    I find the handwringing about autonomous cars interesting.

    Autonomous cars are specifically programmed to look for cyclists. They do not get distracted texting, they don’t drive drunk, they don’t get road rage, they don’t drive recklessly or speed, and they are programmed to pass correctly. Drivers following them will also find it harder to do crazy passes.

    My guess is that they’re less likely to hook you than a human driver, but I know they’ll behave more predictably than human drivers who are all over the map. My personal concerns about being hooked by one of these things is zero, but others may be affected differently since I subscribe to the discredited philosophy that cyclists should ride defensively the same as we expect from any motorized road user.

    I used to think that driverless cars are science fiction but it appears these will be here much sooner than I thought. And by my perspective, they are most welcome.

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    • dwk January 6, 2017 at 5:14 pm

      The problem is, if they are allowed and successful, there will be a million of them. They will be sent on every stupid errand….
      A disaster for the roads unless they are limited, which we do not do with cars in America.
      Trucks are one thing. Having them run at off hours etc, will probably improve things. Cars, not so much.

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    • q January 6, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      If driverless cars evolve to where they make comments on internet bike forums, I wonder if they’ll be programmed to stifle any urges they may have for making gratuitous, inaccurate remarks, such as saying that riding defensively is a “discredited philosophy”?

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      • Kyle Banerjee January 6, 2017 at 10:12 pm

        It certainly appears to be discredited here. My consistent experience here is that suggesting that cyclists take any ownership of their own safety attracts charges of victim blaming or worse.

        That dynamic is peculiar to this specific environment. Riding defensively is taken for granted among practically all cyclists I’ve known in real life — or even other internet forums for that matter.

        If gratuitous or inaccurate posts were routinely stifled, the comments sections here would be virtually empty. My contributions are hardly the only or anywhere near the worst offenders.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. January 7, 2017 at 12:06 am

          I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a cyclist that doesn’t ride defensively. It’s basically a requirement for riding in America.

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        • BradWagon January 9, 2017 at 10:04 am

          I would estimate that about 80% of regular riders are defensive and risk adverse when cycling in traffic. Another 10% are likely not always aware of dangers but share the sentiment that they need to watch out for cars. So speaking about the remaining 10% that don’t take responsibility for their own safety when on a bike (however you define that) and labeling the majority of us that way does make it sounds like you are victim blaming.

          So if I’m approaching the end of a bike lane and I shoulder check, signal, and merge predictably and someone moments afterwards still passes me dangerously am I at fault for not cycling defensively? I guarantee that the majority of comments on this site that have the “driver responsibility” sentiment are born out of experiences similar to this. Experiences where cautious cyclists do everything they reasonably can to protect themselves and are still subjected to dangerous situations. Telling these cyclists to take more responsibility for themselves when they speak out is textbook victim blaming.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty January 6, 2017 at 10:47 pm

        We won’t try to debunk your discredited philosophy. Uh… or, rather, they won’t.

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  • Jim Lee January 6, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Is this the same Roger Geller who said we should be “strong and fearless?”

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    • Pete January 6, 2017 at 5:14 pm

      That might be Misty Copeland you’re thinking of.

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    • Nick Falbo January 6, 2017 at 9:30 pm

      I’m pretty sure he’s the one who said that “Riding a bicycle should not require bravery.”

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  • Pete January 6, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Jonathan: instead of presenting this as the “California way”, do you happen to know how many states in the US guide drivers to merge into the bike lane instead of turn across it?

    I personally appreciate you breaking this out into its own article; we sure know this topic has reared its ugly head on BP before, and remains a hot topic in American cycling in general.

    My thought on the Oregon approach is simply this: regardless of what paint is on the street (dashed versus solid lines), get rid of the mandatory sidepath rules by allowing bicyclists the exception to leave bike lanes whenever a right turn is permissible (ala CVC 21202 exception 4).

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    • wsbob January 7, 2017 at 2:06 am

      Oregon bike lane law allows people biking, to leave the bike lane for virtually any hazard, be it junk on the road or potential hazard from people operating motor vehicles and improperly turning right across the bike lane at intersections. ORS 814.420

      Don’t believe the police or the courts will correctly uphold use of this law by people biking? Then help put it to the test the next time a citation comes before the courts, which seems to be rarely. With the help of bike advocacy groups, have the specs of this law clarified for the benefit of everyone in Oregon, even if that takes going all the way to the state attorney general.

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      • Pete January 8, 2017 at 3:20 pm

        I’m sure Dallas Smith would be inclined to disagree.

        http://bikeportland.org/2013/10/25/video-of-bike-lane-citation-in-ashland-highlights-controversial-oregon-law-96089

        I’ve been confronted by police here in California and was able to avoid problems by citing the law (and of course being polite). I don’t want to test your theories when I ride in Oregon (which I frequently do). There should be absolutely no harm in explicitly allowing bicycle riders in Oregon to take the lane at dangerous intersections to prevent being right-hooked in traffic.

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        • wsbob January 9, 2017 at 2:32 am

          The experience of Dallas Smith, the guy biking, that got cited for failing to ride in the bike lane in Ashland, raises a number of questions about how well people understand Oregon’s bike lane law, what it provides for, and what are the obligations of people biking in regards to it.

          Anyone riding a bike and within reason, properly signaling for lane changes and turns, is allowed by law to leave the bike lane to make turns and avoid hazards.

          Having read the bikeportland stories on Dallas Smith’s experience, and all the comments to them, and having watched the police video, gave me cause to question how well everyone involved…the police in Ashland and the court, as well as Smith and his lawyer…understood the bike lane law, and the practical realities of riding a bike on the road, compared to driving a car on the road.

          Provisions and obligations of the bike lane law, and the practical realities of riding a bike on the road, compared to driving a car on the road, are basic things I think are in need of a much broader public discussion than seems to be taking place.

          Ultimately, relying just on the aforementioned sources for info on Smith’s experience, I couldn’t tell exactly what went wrong, but I think a number of things did, and it wasn’t just Smith’s fault. From what he described in comments to those stories, I believe he likely did have good cause to be riding outside the bike lane.

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          • Pete January 9, 2017 at 4:18 pm

            Even the language of ORS 814.20:
            https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.420

            Is written in a more punitive manner than CVC 21202:
            https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=21202.

            I’ve been in trouble with police in Tigard for lane splitting when waiting to turn left onto Scholls Ferry, yet here in Cali they even legally allow motorcyclists to do it. I’ve had more opportunity than I’d prefer to have conversations with police in Beaverton, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale as well. I’m quite familiar with common misinterpretations of bicycle law. I know that I can speak to CVC 21202 with authority while deescalating confrontation. Our opinions clearly (and respectfully) differ, because I remain less than confident of how much I can work with ORS for my style of sub/urban riding.

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            • wsbob January 9, 2017 at 7:04 pm

              pete…you most likely put in a lot more miles than I do, at least in the urban setting, for sure. I avoid the urban setting for riding if at all possible…country and back roads are my preference. Though I ride my share of urban roads here in Beaverton, and I’ve ridden Portland streets a fair bit as well.

              With all the main lane riding, lane changing, leaving the bike lane and riding just outside of it because for example, of all the flinty gravel crap that’s all over the bike lane right now after these stinkin’ snow and ice storms we just had, never have I been stopped and been talked to or given a citation by the police for how I was riding.

              Here on bikeportland in the comments, I’ve read repeatedly, people saying how much they dislike ORS 814.420. From those comments, one might think, ‘Wow…they must be issuing lots of citations to people riding outside the bike lane in Portland, or in Oregon!’. But nope…rarely a citation issued. And I think partly as a result, just exactly what this law provides for, because it rarely comes to court before judges, or comes before officers that have to issue the citations…there may be a huge vagueness about exactly what some of the clauses of 814.420 provide for.

              Lots more people are riding in Beaverton. That I can see for myself. There is a need for clarification on what this law provides for, that people can have confidence in, since they don’t seem as comfortable with my explanation of what this provides for, than they do with the word of mouth rumors passed around about what so and so thinks the law provides for.

              I’m very confident in my interpretation of this law, and accordingly, I believe I’m riding consistently with this law. Does that mean a police officer is never going to stop me for leaving the bike lane, even while I believe I’m riding in accordance with this law? Of course not…’never’ causes a lot of territory. Some officer that may have a different point of view on what this law articulates as legit reasons for leaving the bike lane, may someday stop me, and let me know what they think. If and when that happens, we’ll exchange viewpoints, and if there’s a difference between the two, the officer can write me a citation if they feel one is justified, and we can have a further discussion about it with a court judge.

              Having read this law, which is not that difficult to understand in terms of what it says and succinctly implies in relative brevity…I’m not going to restrict myself to use of only the bike lane, when I can see that this law allows me when riding a bike, all lanes of the road for a very wide range of reasons. People seeing this law differently than I, are welcome to ride in a way they see as being consistent with it…or not, as may be their choice

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            • wsbob January 10, 2017 at 12:18 am

              “Even the language of ORS 814.20:
              https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.420

              Is written in a more punitive manner than CVC 21202:
              https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=21202. …” peter

              Punitive manner? How so? I’ve gone over ORS 814.20, many times. In what word or words of this law, is the punitive manner of which you speak?. Its language is simple and objective, detailing road uses by people biking for which they’re legally allowed to ride out of the bike lane and onto other lanes of the road for travel.

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              • Pete January 10, 2017 at 11:33 am

                I’ve been threatened with citations against 814.420 in Oregon, like Dallas was. In California, you’re not issued a citation for violating CVC 21202 if an officer pulls you over for riding outside of the bike lane (they seem to have no idea it exists, from what I’ve seen). You’re threatened with violating CVC 22400, “impeding traffic”, which a slow car driver can also get.

                Although it appears the California tactic is used there too:
                http://bikeportland.org/2012/06/13/man-cited-for-impeding-traffic-during-pedalpalooza-ride-73178

                I think as usual we’re vehemently agreeing, in principle. The typically scenario I’ve been called out for is when I come up to a red light, check my mirror, and uncork the bike lane for right-turning traffic (which I do here but not there in OR, but we can’t expect everyone to understand these things when laws are so varied in both letter and interpretation).

                While standing slightly left of the bike lane waiting for a green, a police officer approaches from behind. In practice the light turns green and I immediately move right and impede nobody, except in a few places I ride where the lane drops and I stay far left so right-turning cars can enter the mall across the intersection without hooking me – it’s a short time at my speeds and their lane drops anyway.

                I’m a hero to the people turning right, but as soon as they’re gone I’m a scofflaw to the folks proceeding straight, even when the light hasn’t turned green yet, they just assume I’m (entitled and) in their way. I recently even had a Sunnyvale cop accelerate hard past me and then aggressively turn right without his blinker, and unfortunately I had just turned my damned GoPro off to save the battery for the long group ride I was heading to.

                When lights are green it’s usually such a short period I’m taking the lane that nobody cares, and I think we all agree that me riding my race bike in lane at 23-28 MPH is different than the ideal that any bicyclist should be subject to. In Beaverton when I was stopped I was trying to merge across two lanes to get into a left turn lane with traffic, and the detective in the unmarked police car I had just signaled and moved in front of wasn’t happy about it. There was a previous west-side incident (Hellsboro or Forest Grove, I can’t remember) where I’d moved left out of a bike lane to navigate a sharp right turn, which Officer Friendly also perceived as a transgression of 814.420.

                That’s why ‘mandatory sidepath’ seems more “punitive” – in CA I’ve only heard of fellow cyclists using CVC 21202 to get out of tickets.

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              • wsbob January 11, 2017 at 6:56 pm

                I don’t have much to say, other than I’ve had no such experience while riding. Last week, on the residual of the previous danged snow storm with garbage gravel all over the road, I came bombing down Canyon Rd westbound into the Beav…because my destination was Beav Town Sq, east of the Hwy 217 overpass, I transitioned correctly with signals, out of the bike lane, across the right main lane and into the left main lane in prep for the left turn lane west of the overpass. A tailwind was nice, but not a toot or a peep from any of the many other people around me, driving on the road. No police that I say, but highly doubt they would have found my use of the road in error.

                Couple things I might mention: haven’t ridden with them, but some of the pedalpalooza events in Portland, from what I’ve read, can have the kind of carney character that wouldn’t surprise me if police were especially on guard to cite some particularly obnoxious riding behavior it wouldn’t surprise me at all, if it goes on.

                Detectives in Beaverton acting on 814.420? Well, respect where respect is due, but they’re not traffic cops, and how conscious are all of them, as officers and as road users, of the practical use of the road people biking, need to make, and are allowed by Oregon law, to make?

                Not really following your description of the sharp right turn in Hillsboro/Forest Grove. Sounds like an isolated, obscure circumstance.

                I just think people need to be talking more, so everyone knows, things for example, such as what to someone riding, poses a hazard, which 814.420 allows people riding to leave the bike lane to avoid. Those dinky slivers of shale gravel the road dept spreads over the main lanes of the road for traction, are no big deal in terms of flats, for people driving cars with big thick tires…but that gravel, when motor vehicle tires shoot it off into the bike lane, is a serious potential for flats for many of the people riding bikes, all of which have comparatively much smaller, thinner tires.

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  • bendite January 6, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    Will the CA robot car insist you dismount your bike when crossing the crosswalk, too?

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    • Pete January 7, 2017 at 11:13 am

      This is an interesting grey area in CA as well. When I took LCI training (in Sebastopol), I got in trouble by an instructor for soft-pedaling across a short crosswalk (actually I think I was mounted and foot-scooting). I had pointed out that by Oregon law I was not exceeding a walking pace. By coincidence, my paired ‘buddy’ was Sonoma County’s Deputy Sheriff and bike patrol coordinator (at the time), so the instructor asked him and he said what I did was technically not illegal, but it was his understanding that if an incident occurred, courts would not treat an unmounted bicyclist as a pedestrian, and pedestrians are generally assigned less ‘blame’ in considerations.

      Not sure what any of that means, but LAB instructs LCIs to dismount when traversing crosswalks as ‘leadership by example.’

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      • wsbob January 9, 2017 at 2:44 am

        This shouldn’t be a grey area. As long as they’re riding across the crosswalk at an ordinary walking speed, whether astride or walking alongside their bike, there should be little question that people riding bikes are extended protection by law, equal to that of people walking.

        I think the grey area likely comes from people that too easily ride much faster across the crosswalk than at an ordinary walking speed, or 3.5mph. It’s not that hard to ride at this slow a speed, but it does take some concentration for some people. There may be a natural tendency to ride faster in this situation, and that can definitely lead to some serious potential for collisions.

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        • Pete January 10, 2017 at 1:33 pm

          That’s just it – Oregon explicitly allows it by law (ORS 814.410). There is no equivalent state law in California, and many misinterpretations, even of local ordinances penned to prohibit sidewalk riding without accounting for crosswalk riding.

          http://la.streetsblog.org/2010/01/12/if-you-want-to-know-a-bicycle-law-dont-ask-the-california-highway-patrol-part-ii/

          http://www.christian-attorney.net/bicycle_law_crosswalk_sidewalk_california.html

          Dave (the officer I was partnered with) had seen the confusion play out many times in his line of duty, and admitted (not in front of the LCI instructor) that in their bicycle patrolling it’s simply impractical to dismount and they often also ride on sidewalks in practice to remain stealthy and/or interface with pedestrians in a personal manner.

          Personally, on sidewalking riding bans my opinion has changed over time, so much so that I’m now working to get rid of our city’s, using the same justifications that neighboring Sunnyvale BPAC used to get rid of theirs.

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          • wsbob January 11, 2017 at 6:28 pm

            pete…I don’t basically have a problem with people being allowed to bike on sidewalks and use the crosswalk for crossing streets, though there is huge potential for problems, and are problems commonly occurring, in the manner way too many people ride on the sidewalk, relative to the people traveling by the mode of travel the sidewalk was provided for: foot travel.

            This is a situation cities like Portland, and the smaller cities like the one I live in, Beaverton, just 7 miles away, need to address. I hope cities consider more sidewalks that are much wider than the common 4′ or 5′, and that can comfortably and safely accommodate people traveling together whether by foot, bike, and likely, skateboards too.

            I think Downtown Portland banned sidewalk riding years ago, partly because many of the sidewalks in that district are narrow, and too many bad encounters were occurring. Sidewalks in a lot of places elsewhere, are wider, and have far fewer people walking on them, making such sidewalks more functional for biking. As long as people riding are conscientious about people walking on the sidewalk, it can work out ok to ride there.

            It’s a bit amazing to me how opposed some people are to riding on the street. They prefer the sidewalk. I’ve also talked, briefly, to an officer with experience riding as a bike cop, and as instructor training other people in ways to ride safely on the job. We didn’t talk specifically about riding across the street in crosswalks, but use of sidewalks for riding did come up, and he said ‘Nothing wrong with that.’. Meaning, not that any type of riding there is ok, but that it’s fine for people to ride there if they’re not comfortable or feeling safe riding on the street.

            By the way…it’s been awhile now, and nothing has come together, partly my fault, but I did ask him about the possibility of the city offering instruction for people wanting to build up their biking in traffic skills. He said it’s been talked about, but not felt there would be significant public interest. He kind of sounded like, if maybe ten people or more were interested, that would show up…the possibility could become reality.

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        • El Biciclero January 10, 2017 at 7:30 pm

          “As long as they’re riding across the crosswalk at an ordinary walking speed”

          The only legal requirement is that a bicyclist approach and enter a crosswalk at a speed “no greater than an ordinary walk” if motor traffic is approaching. Once in the crosswalk, there is no speed restriction except as needed for yielding to pedestrians.

          I suppose this is so that inattentive motorists don’t have bicyclists appearing “out of nowhere” by covering too much distance in too short a time.

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          • wsbob January 11, 2017 at 5:55 pm

            “…The only legal requirement is that a bicyclist approach and enter a crosswalk at a speed “no greater than an ordinary walk” if motor traffic is approaching. Once in the crosswalk, there is no speed restriction except as needed for yielding to pedestrians. …” bic

            I think it’s true that Oregon law doesn’t specify the speed someone riding may travel across the crosswalk, once they’ve entered it a speed no greater than an ordinary walk. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

            It’s worth mentioning though, I think…how, depending on particular street situations…important it can be to not exceed an ordinary walking speed while riding across the street using the crosswalk. For example, multi-lane thoroughfares like Foster, Powell, or Hawthorne in Portland, or Canyon Rd, or Beav-Hillsdale Hwy in Beaverton. The person riding gets the crosswalk ‘walk’ signal, enters the crosswalk at the correct speed, and proceeds across, perhaps at faster than an ordinary walking speed.

            A common, dangerous situation that can occur, is if motor vehicles in the main lane are still approaching the crosswalk line as the person riding is proceeding across in the crosswalk. The person riding, doesn’t know for certain that the person driving is actually going to stop, until the motor vehicle shows definite indication of slowing, and is stopped…before the person riding, or biking, crosses in front of the motor vehicle.

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  • mark smith January 7, 2017 at 12:36 am

    You mean…..the Oregon approved right hook?

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  • Tony T
    Tony T January 7, 2017 at 9:10 am

    In the bike and in a car, I’d prefer the CA model. I follow the OR model because that’s where I live, but CA model always seemed more intuitive and has more flow to it. I didn’t know it was the law in CA, but now I don’t feel like the crazy outlier for wishing we did it here.

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  • William January 7, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Taking a step back; the real issue is the automobile with or without drivers or robots (badbots in SF) and not Cyclists (and their bicycles).

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  • eddie January 7, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    Everything else having been said, it’s a matter of time before one of these autonomous vehicles has a mishap and kills a cyclist or a pedestrian. Matter of time. And it’s sad but this is what’s gong to dominate the news of the future: autonomous robots inadvertently killing people and the sensational court battles that follow.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 8, 2017 at 10:42 am

      You are undoubtedly right that it is just a matter of time. But I disagree that a sensational court battle will follow. Instead I foresee an insurance payout and a vigorous investigation, along with steps to ensure it will not happen again.

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    • El Biciclero January 10, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      Also, unlike people, robots respond quite well to re-training.

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  • Ted Buehler January 8, 2017 at 12:47 am

    Jonathan — very good article, especially the 2007 Roger Geller quote.

    But, one minor error in your introduction — you wrote
    “Interestingly, the dangerous maneuver being made by Uber-bots is exactly what Oregon law requires…”

    Nope.

    The positioning of the car is the same, Uber compared to Oregon Law. But the operation of the car is different. Uber cars are not yielding to right-of-way to bicycles as they turn across the bike lane. And in Oregon, cars operators (human or otherwise) are required to check for traffic in the bike lane before turning across it.

    Here is the relevant passage from the Oregon Drivers Manual

    “You may turn across a bicycle lane, but do not move into a bicycle lane in preparation for a turn. Always check for bicycles in your blind spot before turning. Watch for bicyclists who may ride up beside your vehicle while you are preparing to make a turn. You must yield to bicyclists in a bicycle lane or on a sidewalk.”
    p. 30.
    https://www.odot.state.or.us/forms/dmv/37.pdf

    Ted Buehler

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    • Ted Buehler January 8, 2017 at 12:49 am

      BTW, I very much approve of the Oregon law. For the reasons Roger cited. And it allows bicycle traffic to move through gridlocked car traffic. And, I see fewer conflicts dealing with occasional right-hook threats than continuous merging and leapfrogging maneuvers, or the delay stopped in a bike/turn lane inhaling the tailpipe fumes of a car waiting for crosswalk users to clear before making a right turn.

      Ted Buehler

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      • Kyle Banerjee January 8, 2017 at 4:52 am

        I also like the law because it allows movement through gridlock.

        From a safety perspective, however, I think it is safer for cars to enter the lane since it both makes it obvious who is turning right while discouraging cyclists from passing on the right who don’t have specific reason to believe it is safe to do so.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty January 8, 2017 at 10:39 am

          And it allows drivers to focus on fewer things. Merge, then turn, not both simultaneously. That will increase safety.

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        • wsbob January 9, 2017 at 2:59 am

          “…I think it is safer for cars to enter the lane since it both makes it obvious who is turning right…” banerjee

          Road users…that is, many people using the road with motor vehicles, vary widely in their signaling for turns, as well as merges, or lane transitions…if they signal at all. This becomes a major potential for problem in states that allow people to use the bike lane for travel with their motor vehicles. This leaves people riding bikes, not knowing for greater distances along the bike lanes, whether somebody driving will abruptly cut across them up to 200′ from the turn they eventually make with their motor vehicle.

          Turns at and across the bike lane at the intersection rather than from within the bike lane in approach to the intersection, reduces distance along the bike lane that the person riding has wonder whether someone driving will cut them off or merge into them.

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        • John Eldon March 13, 2017 at 8:37 pm

          Yup — Oregon law merely reinforces bad habits for both motorists and bicyclists. Traffic laws generally support destination-appropriate lateral positioning, which in California means that right turns are generally to be made close to the curb.

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      • wsbob January 10, 2017 at 10:40 am

        ted…thanks for posting the excerpt from the Oregon Driver’s Manual, because it offers additional clarification that in Oregon, people driving are not allowed to travel in the bike lane in approaches to their eventual turn at an intersection.

        The bike lane law used in Oregon, gives people riding bikes, right of way for through travel over people driving and preparing for turns from the adjacent main lane. This gives people biking, some control over the travel of the people driving and preparing to turn at intersections. People biking in the bike lane can somewhat bring to bear the obligation of the people driving to wait until they’ve ridden past the car or cars…but they don’t necessarily have to make people wait.

        They can take turns. For example, if in approaching an intersection, but still some distance away from it, someone riding in the bike lane is passed by someone driving a motor vehicle with its signal on, in the main lane to the left of them, and reaches the intersection ahead of the person riding, but not so far in advance of the person biking that the person driving can be sure the bike lane is clear for their turn…the person riding in the bike lane can choose to reduce speed, and not pass the motor vehicle…in so doing, give signal to the person driving to proceed with their turn.

        In many ways, this can be a good procedure for all road users. It preserves the right or way of people riding in the bike lane. It can help to keep traffic in the main lane adjacent to the bike lane, from backing up. It can help clear the main lane of motor vehicles of people needing to make turns across the bike lane, and in so doing, reduce the chance for right or left hooks to people riding in the bike lane.

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  • Bikeninja January 8, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Once robotic vehicles become a majority of the cars on the road bike lanes will no longer be need as a autonomous ubers following the laws would calmly follow behind a cyclist taking the lane no matter what the speed.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. January 8, 2017 at 9:04 am

      How sure of that are you? How much do you trust a for-profit company free from government regulation?

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      • Kyle Banerjee January 8, 2017 at 10:05 am

        You don’t need to trust them at all. This is where our litigious society ensures the right protections and then some will be built in

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty January 8, 2017 at 10:58 am

          I have to disagree with you on this one… to pick one example, threat of litigation did not stop Bullseye from emitting high levels of Cd, As, and Cr(VI) into the air around their factory (despite the obvious risks to people living, working, and attending school in the area).

          If your point were correct, there would be no need for the EPA, FDA, FCC, etc. The courts would be able to create effective safeguards, and a regulatory framework would be redundant.

          All evidence suggests society is better with a strong (but not overly so) set of regulations and standards that provide a check for shoddy and negligent work.

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          • John Lascurettes January 8, 2017 at 3:37 pm

            Hell, Uber themselves have thumbed their nose at nearly every legal action taken against them — including opening up operations in Portland before they were legally green lit (in fact, they were prohibited) and challenging city council to either sue them or negotiate with them. City council caved and “negotiated” but didn’t gain much of what they were after.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty January 8, 2017 at 5:36 pm

              But they’re sharing. Sharing is good, right?

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              • John Lascurettes January 9, 2017 at 9:26 am

                I wouldn’t know. I don’t use them. Only Lyft or Radio cab in that realm for me.

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          • John Liu
            John Liu January 9, 2017 at 1:10 pm

            Different situation. It would be very difficult for an individual to win a lawsuit against Bullseye for toxic metal exposure. You have to prove damage, exposure, causation, etc. But if a self driving car runs over a cyclist, that will be a pretty straightforward case. The car’s systems will be an eyewitness, the accident can be easily reconstructed, and damage and causation will be obvious.

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        • Kyle Banerjee January 8, 2017 at 11:28 am

          There is a significant difference with the examples you raise — namely that the threats are mostly invisible and even when known associating cause with effect is not straightforward.

          I still don’t understand the angst here with self driving cars. Do people actually believe they will be worse than what we deal with every day? Do they think they’ll be harder to work with than attention challenged motorists with rage issues?

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          • q January 8, 2017 at 12:23 pm

            There seems to be a whole range of opinion about them here, and raising concerns doesn’t always mean opposition to them.

            One concern is that many will be owned by uber, which has a track record of ignoring laws it doesn’t like.

            And uber will have a whole team whose purpose is to defend itself legally when its cars hit people, and to write press releases hiding that it’s ever at fault.

            The cars themselves are neutral, but their owners are not.

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            • Kyle Banerjee January 8, 2017 at 2:30 pm

              If they flaunt the laws or operate irresponsibly, they should be held accountable.

              But a few companies seem to be held singled out as representing some kind of Axis of Evil for behaviors many if not most companies and individuals are guilty of. Walmart and Uber are poster children for this dynamic.

              If the vehicles genuinely do anything they shouldn’t, that needs to be fixed. But I’d like to see some actual evidence these things are causing problems rather than reacting based on fears of the unknown.

              I’d love to ride around some of these things and see how they respond. I’ll bet they deal with questionable cycling behavior a lot better than the majority of drivers on the road.

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              • q January 8, 2017 at 3:44 pm

                Uber’s getting mentioned here because it’s the subject of the article, and a big player in driverless cars. It’s also historically been particularly arrogant and dismissive of laws that get in its way.

                And at least some of these concerns are not “fear of the unknown”. The article describes how the cars are currently endangering cyclists by violating California’s turning law.

                That raises the question of whether Uber knew of this problem before unleashing the cars in public traffic. If it did not, it was negligent, since turning at bike lanes is part of everyday driving. If it did know, it was worse than negligent, deciding it was fine to make the public guinea pigs in its testing process. Either way is very wrong.

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              • Kyle Banerjee January 8, 2017 at 5:08 pm

                To be clear, these cars are supposedly endangering cyclists by turning the only way people here claim it’s safe to do so. That something is legally compliant does not magically make it safe. That something is noncompliant doesn’t magically make it unsafe.

                This is a programming rather than a safety issue per se. As far as Uber’s arrogance goes with respect to this topic, where did they say they did not intend to comply with the turning law or that they find the expectation of compliance onerous?

                In any case, who here who uses bike lanes does not see cars using both methods practically every time they go out?

                Autonomous vehicle safety is a real issue. This turning brouhaha tempest in a teapot is not and is in fact a distraction from actually improving safety.

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              • q January 8, 2017 at 5:35 pm

                kyle–it’s clear from the article it’s unsafe. That’s the reason for the petition. It seems obvious that when drivers disobey the law, their maneuvers surprise other road users, and surprising other users is unsafe.

                SOME people here claim turning without merging is the only way it’s safe, but others do not. And we’re in Oregon. I don’t see anyone claiming it’s safer to turn without merging in a state where that’s illegal.

                “This is a programming rather than a safety issue”? That makes no sense. It’s both. The cars are not programmed to obey the law, thus they don’t behave the way others expect them to. Plus, even if there were no safety issue, just the fact that they’re not programmed to obey the law is a problem itself.

                And Uber doesn’t need to say a thing to tell us what it’s attitude is, because its actions speak for themselves. It either didn’t know that it’s cars are not programmed to drive legally, or it knew and didn’t bother fixing the program before continuing to drive them. And it’s not Uber’s call as to whether that law needs to be followed or not.

                Apparently the cyclists in California who started the petition disagree that the turning issue is a tempest in a teapot, and not a real safety issue, and it’s surprising to me that anyone would think otherwise.

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              • q January 8, 2017 at 5:45 pm

                And in regard to your, “In any case, who here who uses bike lanes does not see cars using both methods practically every time they go out?”?

                Again, we’re in Oregon. I see both here. I don’t know if both are common in California. Since merging seems more natural and safer to me as a driver, it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s almost universal in California, which would make Uber’s cars’ behavior even more surprising to other road users.

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              • Kyle Banerjee January 8, 2017 at 6:58 pm

                I still am missing the part where Uber is saying they won’t comply with California law. Yeah, they let the cars on the road, but I’m still failing to see the big deal since they’re not saying the Uber cars are failing to signal the turn, slow down, or do anything that would cause a surprise hook even if the cyclists were crazy enough to do a quick pass on the right at an intersection — especially given that CA limits passing on the right much more than OR.

                In any case, most motorists probably don’t know the law in either state (or care for that matter). I know I didn’t until I started frequenting BP. I’m still not sure I care since I’ve been riding and driving a long time and simply don’t find myself having the sorts of crazy adventures I read about here despite the fact I go out in anything.

                Anyone who rides or drives with the assumption that everything will be fine and everyone is going to do what they’re supposed to is a menace to themselves as well as others.

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              • q January 8, 2017 at 7:58 pm

                I guess we just disagree. I think the SF Bicycle Coalition is right–that Uber shouldn’t be sending driverless cars out in public that aren’t programmed to obey the law. You don’t. I don’t think Uber saying they’ll eventually comply gives them a pass to drive illegally in the meantime, but you seem to.

                I and the Coalition think there’s a safety problem when cars make illegal turns across a bike lane. You don’t.

                You don’t think motorists in either state know the law, but I assume most do. You’re not sure you care whether they know the law or not. I think it’s a safety problem when they don’t.

                You think “Anyone who rides or drives with the assumption that everything will be fine and everyone is going to do what they’re supposed to is a menace to themselves as well as others”. I do, too, but I don’t know anyone who thinks that way, so it’s irrelevant to me. I do think it’s weird that you think those people are a menace, yet when a company programs its entire fleet to break the law, you’re not concerned.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 8, 2017 at 8:27 pm

                When Uber does _anything_ we should be concerned. They have the wrong attitude for operating in the public space.

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              • Kyle Banerjee January 9, 2017 at 5:58 am

                I still think the obsession with Uber is misplaced. While people get so excited about the programming of these things being noncompliant with the laws in some jurisdiction for a specific type of encounter that’s very easy for cyclists to deal with, human drivers (including cops) routinely violate the laws much more frequently.

                As far as why I think most people don’t know the law, it’s because bike lanes only exist within a few metropolitan areas. How would they know? And even if they did, how would they learn?

                Since we have this serious and predictable safety problem, I’m sure some of our SF compadres have captured dramatic video of these cars threatening the lives of cyclists by causing crashes and near misses. I’d love to see such video and hope it will be posted here.

                This issue is only one of many that must be worked out for autonomous vehicles — I’m sure there are many other more serious things these cars still don’t do right. That’s why there’s a human in the front seat, and if the human fails to take control the company can be ticketed and held liable for mistakes same as any other driver.

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              • q January 9, 2017 at 10:02 am

                I don’t see any “obsession” with Uber. Of course it’s discussed here, because that’s what the article is about, and it’s discussed elsewhere because it’s at the forefront of huge changes in driving. It’s also got a history of being cavalier with rules, which is newsworthy in itself.

                The fact that the issue involves technology shouldn’t disguise that Uber is responsible for what results from using it, and isn’t responding particularly responsibly. Uber apparently agrees the programming is a problem, because it’s said it’s working on it, and that it’s own drivers have been told to override it. But it’s still sending its driverless cars out in the meantime, making everybody else on the road part of its experiment whether they like it or not. (And it started doing that before it was even legal.)

                If a cab or bus company had a policy that required its drivers to turn illegally, got caught, and said, “We know it’s a problem, and we’ll address it at our convenience” they’d deserve criticism. This is no different.

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              • Kyle Banerjee January 9, 2017 at 11:48 am

                Is your position that they need to have all problems solved before they can send out an autonomous car? If so, how do you propose any producer of the technology can reasonably know when it is ready?

                If not, why is this issue a dealbuster? It’s virtually certain that autonomous vehicles poorly handle a number of situations with much more potential for injury/death, so why not focus on one of those?

                I was a skeptic of autonomous technology, but the ironic effect of all the complaints has been to significantly increase my confidence in it.

                I’m already to the point where I’d rather share the road with autonomous vehicles than bad drivers of whom there are many. Despite the hysterics of Uber flaunting the law, I’ll bet the autonomous vehicles obey the law better and treat cyclists more kindly than 95% of the human drivers. But hey, it’s Uber, so it all must be bad.

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              • q January 9, 2017 at 2:37 pm

                My position is that Uber shouldn’t be sending cars out with without their own drivers until the cars can drive legally. It’s not a high standard, or “hysterics”, and there’s no reason it can’t do that until the problem (that Uber agrees is a problem) is fixed.

                I don’t like when companies decide it’s OK to break a law if the company decides the law is inconvenient or unnecessary, or decides the fix is too much trouble. It’s not the company’s right to break laws, especially when the risks are born by others who didn’t sign up for that role. In this case, the risk may not be great, but on the other hand, the remedy (putting drivers in the cars until the problem is fixed) isn’t difficult.

                And who said anything about a “dealbuster”? I’m not anti-driverless car. Saying Uber shouldn’t send out cars wi

                Maybe they do behave worse in other situations with more potential for injury/death, but that’s not the subject of this article. And if it’s true, that’s even more reason to not have them driving around without drivers.

                And your calling reactions against Uber flaunting laws as “hysterics” is a gratuitous insult. So is your saying, “But hey, it’s Uber, so it all must be bad”. I don’t see anybody here displaying that viewpoint. If you want to disagree with others, at least react to what they’re actually saying.

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              • Kyle Banerjee January 10, 2017 at 5:46 am

                The whole point of having humans responsible for piloting an autonomous vehicle is that everyone knows they don’t work yet and the human takes over when the car doesn’t do the right thing.

                The human is responsible for making sure the car operates safely and obeys the law, same as they are with any other vehicle. These vehicles currently operate as cars with upgraded safety control systems. Why that shouldn’t be allowed is beyond me. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that when the human takes over, the input data is used to help program future responses.

                If the technology were so dangerous, we would hear about crashes regularly. But these are so rare that they make international news. Cyclists get hit by regular drivers every day. Can you point to a single article where a cyclist was hit by a driverless car? Or even where there was a close call?

                Since these cars are on the streets and we know there are plenty of cyclists up in arms about this, many of whom have cameras, how about some video evidence? I’m guessing there is none.

                I’ll bet these treat cyclists way better than real motorists. I’ll bet that they do much better than real motorists in situations where the cyclist is engaged in questionable behavior.

                No matter what is going on, a small percentage of the population will consistently find something to protest. Some of these people ride bikes.

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              • q January 10, 2017 at 9:31 pm

                “The whole point of having humans responsible for piloting an autonomous vehicle is that everyone knows they don’t work yet and the human takes over when the car doesn’t do the right thing.”

                Yes, that’s exactly the point! They don’t work yet without a driver who knows what he or she is doing there to override them when needed.

                In this case, the thing that doesn’t work yet is the turning activity at bike lanes. So the petition simply asks Uber “to address this dangerous and illegal turning behavior immediately”.

                So until the flawed programming is fixed, which I doubt will take long, placing Uber drivers in the cars who are trained to anticipate the problem and override the car at bike-lane turns would be an easy way to address it.

                Having the car pick up some random passenger–who may be unfamiliar with California laws, San Francisco streets, or even bike lanes–doesn’t address it.

                Nobody’s claiming the cars don’t have many safety advantages, or that there have already been crashes or even close calls. On the other hand, nobody’s asking Uber to do anything extreme, either.

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              • Kyle Banerjee January 11, 2017 at 5:49 am

                “…placing Uber drivers in the cars who are trained to anticipate the problem and override the car at bike-lane turns would be an easy way to address it.”

                Right, but I thought that is precisely what they’re doing — i.e. these cars still contain a dedicated paid driver and that they were specifically instructed to take control at these intersections. If they are not doing that, I agree that needs to happen.

                I am very curious about how self driving cars act in a number of situations such as intermittent black ice or more unusual things that are challenging to interpret and navigate.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty January 8, 2017 at 11:01 am

        Bikeninja never implied an absence of regulation, only that bike lanes would not be necessary. It doesn’t mean that rules about safely operating around bikes would no longer be needed.

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    • q January 8, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Exactly. We’ve seen the same attitude already with uber with its spare-no-expense background checks on drivers, and with airbnb with their plowing their profits into creating an army of health and safety inspectors for all their rentals. As a “sharing economy” stalwart, uber’s cars and customers will welcome all opportunities to place themselves subordinate to other road users.

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  • Sean R-M January 8, 2017 at 9:19 am

    If you are riding in an unprotected bike lane you are riding on the road. What the planners and city people are doing by painting whimpy bike lanes and green lanes is encouraging people to go out and get themselves scared or worse from traffic. Riding a bike on the road isn’t for everyone and no amount of paint is going to make it safe for everyone. Keeping a bike lane to the right of right turning cars only encourages unsafe passing on the right by the very same inexperienced cyclists that the bike lane is supposed to help

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    • BradWagon January 9, 2017 at 10:09 am

      For the me the breakdown is roughly:

      Number of Dangerous Experiences while in a bike lane: A small amount
      Number of Dangerous Experiences without a bike lane: A large amount

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    • John Eldon March 13, 2017 at 8:34 pm

      Bingo! That is why California law is correct and Oregon law is wrong on the issue of right hooks.

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  • bikeninja January 9, 2017 at 9:47 am

    I agree that UBER is unethical, but the core software in any self driving car would have to scrupulessly follow every one of the rules of the road for the state in which it operates. To try and cheat would invite unlimited liability for any accident because in would not be an accident but a premeditated crime ( ask VW about this) . So if the legal passing distance beside a bike is 3 feet it would have no choice but to follow a legal distance behind the bike untill it could safely pass. Ubers cheating would involve padding the riders bills electronically, or having robot cars idle in paid parking spots waiting for fares then zoom off if parking officers approach, or by failing to maintain equipment. But following the law will not be optional.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. January 9, 2017 at 9:53 am

      Uber has broken the law before by running their illegal taxi services. What makes you think their software won’t do the same?

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      • John Liu
        John Liu January 9, 2017 at 1:03 pm

        Lawsuits. How do you think a jury would treat defendant Uber if it deliberately programmed its self driving vehicles to break the law? No matter how unethical you think Uber is, money does talk.

        Anyway, what economic motivation does Uber have to program its self driving vehicles to run over cyclists? It won’t increase fares or ridership, and will speed journeys only infinitesimaly. Again, money talks.

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        • q January 9, 2017 at 2:46 pm

          I generally agree. On the other hand, it seems like a jury might have treated Uber poorly in the event of an injury involving an Uber car violating regulations governing taxi-type services, and that didn’t seem to stop Uber from forging ahead. I guess the answer is what you said–there’s not much incentive to break most laws, whereas there was great incentive to begin operation.

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      • Pete January 9, 2017 at 4:02 pm

        Written by laid-off Volkswagen programmers?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty January 9, 2017 at 4:16 pm

          Uber’s diesels emit no pollutants.

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  • Mark Nockleby January 11, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    are you

    Spiffy
    “known to be one of the primary causes of collisions between cars and people who bike resulting in serious injury or fatality”
    correction: it’s the primary cause of collisions between DRIVERS and cyclists, not cars and cyclists… the autonomous cars won’t be making the same right-hook mistake that drivers do…
    this is a non-issue, and an improvement over having to swerve left around the turning vehicle or having to yield to traffic in the left lane now that a turning vehicle is blocking your lane…
    Recommended 15

    Motorists/motoring robots merging into the bike lane before turning right, make it easier for through cyclists to pass the right turning motorist on the left instead of the right. That’s how right hook collisions are avoided.

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    • wsbob January 11, 2017 at 5:34 pm

      “Motorists/motoring robots merging into the bike lane before turning right, …” nockleby

      …present a risk of right hooking people riding in the bike lane.

      People riding in the bike lane could choose to signal and merge left into the main lane in order to divert around someone transitioning into the bike lane for an eventual right turn, but what percent of people riding will want to make this diversion?

      And how common will it be, that there is sufficient room ahead of the approaching intersection, for the person riding to properly signal for, and make the transition from bike lane to main lane for the diversion?

      Much of the time, people riding in the bike lane will just be stuck, slowing down behind the fume pumping motor vehicle that cuts in front of them and into the bike lane so the person driving can make a tighter turn up at the intersection, than they would if they had to wait until arriving at the intersection to turn at more of a right angle.

      People riding in the bike lane and approaching intersections, will be in better circumstances by keeping an eye out for people driving in the main lanes to either side of them, and taking care to position themselves in their sidelong position in the bike lane, either ahead of or behind the motor vehicle in the adjoining main lane.

      Though through traveling people riding in the bike lane do have right of way over people driving in the main lane and that are preparing to turn, it’s safer for the person riding to exercise their control over the timing of the turn to be made, by either staying to the rear of the motor vehicle, or ahead of it, in either case, out of harm’s way.

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  • Dave January 12, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Allow me to suggest that if self-driving cars are programmed in such a way as to endanger the lives of cyclists and/or pedestrians in order to protect their passengers then it becomes legitimate self-defense for us to disable those self-driving cars by any convenient means. Unoccupied, of course!

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  • John Schmidt January 13, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    I _always_ try go left around right turning cars or just stay behind. (California method) . WHY ? I want to live ! Why chance a right hook? I don’t know what hell Oregon is thinking, other than wanting to Kill cyclists and confuse the hell out of motorists. (yes we know that wasn’t the intent, but it is the result! Someone really didn’t think this one through)

    AND if you are a cyclist and just blindly ride the bike lane thinking that a vehicle (not using turns signal, of course) won’t right hook you, then you have death wish.

    Not only that, does said vehicle have a working or properly adjusted mirror? and even if they do, is the person driving interpreting the mirror’s image correctly ? You hope so ! You HOPE SO ??

    Oregon needs to come on the side of safety on this. And well really this needs to be same in all states !

    Right now a vehicle will come around me and then want to turn right. No worries, I slow down maybe start to move to the left behind car. Cars slams on brake not knowing what I am doing. But I sure as hell am not going to the right and possibly get hooked. I am quite sure driver has seen me, because they put on the brake, But do I dare chance it? NOPE, (can’t, I am married with responsibilities).

    So I wish, and it would be much safer, if after a car passes (and obviously it would need to completely pass) , it simply moves all the way to the right. At least some states have thought this through, figured it out, and gone on the side of safety.

    And by the way IMHO, it is complete BS to talk about “timid” versus “confident” riders. And my cycling commuting speeds are generally 10-15 mph.

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    • wsbob January 14, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      “I _always_ try go left around right turning cars or just stay behind. (California method) . …” john schmidt

      When in the bike lane and going around right turning motor vehicles, do you properly signal to make the lane transition?

      If the law is signal 100′ from your turn, in going around a right turning vehicle, giving some latitude for procedure, do you signal for let’s say at least 50′ in advance, or two to three seconds?

      Not really having sufficient distance and time for signaling, is one of the problems with allowing motor vehicle use in bike lanes. People biking have either got to stay in the bike lane behind the motor vehicles turning, and suck it up, literally…or go through the endless lane changing to get around the turning vehicles.

      It’s easier and safer for people riding to, in the bike lane, just stay back of the turning vehicles until they reach the intersection and complete their turn. Either this, or well in advance of the intersection, persons riding can speed ahead of the motor vehicles, to be clear of any chance for right hooks.

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      • Pete January 15, 2017 at 10:31 am

        Agreed. Depends on the cyclist’s speed, as well as traffic conditions. If traveling closer to the speed of moving traffic, staying behind the turning cars means having to bleed a lot of speed quickly, and since not having brake lights means drivers behind need to be prepared, it’s usually safest for both following drivers and for the cyclist to give as advanced notice as possible and move over.

        For my bike, I find that a drop-bar mirror helps me spot gaps and opportunities to time the signal and the move. It also helps to know the roads and traffic patterns and choke points, which of course isn’t ideal for strange routes or visitors. Because Oregon’s rules are different, though, these types of motions may be uncomfortable or unfamiliar to both cyclists and drivers there.

        I’m still looking a decent taillight for braking, and going to check out the Bontrager Flare RT, as well as another I saw in passing that’s accelerometer-based. (Would love recommendations…).

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        • wsbob January 15, 2017 at 8:04 pm

          pete…off topic and probably a long shot…but re; brakelights…have you heard of the kickstarter illuminated helmet, Lumos ?. It seems kind of gimmicky to me, but maybe it’s a starting point for bike helmets that eventually will have sufficient illumination for effective turn signals and brake lights.

          On this helmet, what I’ve seen of it in a small number of pics, not really in actual use, level of illumination seems to not be particularly high…though new LEDs and battery designs are being worked on. I’m most interested in hearing whether you may have seen one in actual use on the street, and what you think of its performance. I’d be excited to hear if the turn signals (just on the rear of the helmet.) were actually well visible from say, a 100′ away, or even 50′.

          The helmet is equipped with both triangular shaped turn signals and does have a brake light function as well. It uses an accelerometer for the brake function.

          It does seem that quite a number of orders have been fulfilled, but there are also a lot of complaints from people wondering when they’re going to get their helmet. Not low cost.

          web addresses for both kickstarter site, and a brief cnet article:

          https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/819484536/lumos-a-next-generation-bicycle-helmet#project_faq_141398

          https://www.cnet.com/news/lumos-bike-helmet-glows-with-turn-signals-brake-lights/

          I know nothing about the flare RT other than what I just picked up on the website; can’t guess how bright it is compared to others. Being on a thrifty budget, I’ve been using the 2 watt hotshot…far as I know, it’s decently visible, though I’m not aware of which tail lights I’ve seen on the street in use, are it.

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          • Pete March 14, 2017 at 8:43 am

            Yeah, just saw that on LinkedIn. Not willing to be an early adopter as the market will catch up and accelerometer-based brake lights aren’t rocket science. If the helmet’s signals could be activated with the standard (Garmin) ANT+ lighting/signaling profile, then I’d consider it. Not willing to mount another wonky switch on my handlebars though – K-Edge bracket holds the Garmin and headlight (or camera) just nicely out front leaving ample room for my giant paws.

            An update on this story; Uber’s cars being off SF’s streets must have been short-lived. I was walking downtown for RSA conference last month and watched two of them drive across an intersection and enter the highway. Both had people in the cars, but what leads me to believe they were on autopilot mode was the answer to a question I’ve long held: both cars turned on their left turn signals at almost exactly the same time… about 100′ from the highway’s entrance. (The probability of that timing – heck, of a California driver even using a turn signal – pretty low).

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            • wsbob March 14, 2017 at 9:25 am

              I have yet to see a Lumos helmet in use on the street here in Beaverton. Did notice in the last three or four months, a couple people offered there’s up for sale on craigs/portland. $100-!75, new. So far, based on comments to the manufacturers site, it’s a one size fits all, so it doesn’t fit some people. I want to see one in use, for an idea of how bright the rear lights are. It seems like pushing the envelope to get a very high level of brightness out of the multi-light display. Plenty of single light tail lights that are bright enough, but multi-light brightness must be a considerably bigger challenge.

              Mechanic at the bike shop was raving about the tail light that garmin makes. He tried to describe to me how it works, but not seeing it in operation, I was a little lost. It’s got a handlebar control/monitor, that if I understand correctly, gives an alert to the rider that someone is advancing from the rear.

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              • Pete March 15, 2017 at 8:34 am

                It’s called Varia and uses radar to detect overtaking cars (I almost patented this idea years ago!). As vehicles approach it gets brighter (also depending on its daylight sensors). The lighting family also has turn signals, and the system uses open standard ANT+ wireless protocols (that I referred to previously), so the switches and data can be configured on your Edge (or compatible computer).

                I recently rode with a friend using one a few weeks ago; early morning, dark overcast day. It seemed to work even with me on his wheel, which I figured may block its signals (sonar maybe?), and it was a good indicator to me when we were about to be overtaken. He’s in China this week so hasn’t responded to my questions about it; I was watching one at http://calmarcycles.com as they are increasing discounts while going out of business, but I think someone beat me to it (I like gadgets, but only at certain price points…).

                https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2015/10/garmin-varia-radar-review.html

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              • wsbob March 15, 2017 at 9:49 am

                pete…keep us posted, or maus…maybe he’ll do a story. The mech at the local bike shop…experienced guy, I think…thought the garmin varia (thank you for the name.), worked great. I’ll look at the link you posted, when I’m at a better connection. On the road functionality is what’s important to me; how well it communicates to people driving, that they’ve got a bike ahead of them.

                Technology can have a lot of potential, even with ideas that in the idea or early stages, seem offbeat or even nutty.

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    • John Eldon March 13, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      The Oregon law was written by non-cyclists, or at least by folks who fail to comprehend the benefits of lawful vehicular bicycling.

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      • wsbob March 14, 2017 at 9:44 am

        Without doing some kind of search down at the Salem archives…time and money…I’m not sure I could answer your thought that Oregon’s bike lane law was written by non-cyclists. On the other hand, maybe you know for a fact, that it was written by non-cyclists. For a long time, I’ve wanted to know more about who worked on Oregon’s bike lane law, and what was some of their discussion leading up to its final result.

        My feeling is that Oregon’s bike law, was written by people that, even if they didn’t all ride bikes, which is most likely…at least had a very high level of respect for people using this mode of travel on the road. I think use of the bike lane with motor vehicles being limited as much as possible, reflects this respect for bike travel.

        On my own personal rides out here in Beaverton, comparatively smaller town than Portland, I don’t see many people driving and using the bike lane for approaches to turns. Almost all seem to know they’re not supposed to be driving in the bike lane. It’s not that big a deal to signal in advance of the turn, and make a habit of waiting until the intersection to begin the turn. A lot of people though, seem not to signal sufficiently in advance of their turn, or worse, not at all. Lots of two second, thirty feet in advance signaling…although often, that’s enough.

        Like some other road use laws, the written specs aren’t necessarily a hard and fast reg, but are more of a rule of thumb kind of thing. Some latitude is allowed and generally accepted. Just giving some kind of signaling, and staying out of the bike lane while driving, is a big help.

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  • John Eldon March 13, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    q
    I guess we just disagree. I think the SF Bicycle Coalition is right–that Uber shouldn’t be sending driverless cars out in public that aren’t programmed to obey the law. You don’t. I don’t think Uber saying they’ll eventually comply gives them a pass to drive illegally in the meantime, but you seem to.
    I and the Coalition think there’s a safety problem when cars make illegal turns across a bike lane. You don’t.
    You don’t think motorists in either state know the law, but I assume most do. You’re not sure you care whether they know the law or not. I think it’s a safety problem when they don’t.
    You think “Anyone who rides or drives with the assumption that everything will be fine and everyone is going to do what they’re supposed to is a menace to themselves as well as others”. I do, too, but I don’t know anyone who thinks that way, so it’s irrelevant to me. I do think it’s weird that you think those people are a menace, yet when a company programs its entire fleet to break the law, you’re not concerned.
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    The problem is that too many California motorists follow Oregon rules at right turns, even though the vehicle code is quite clearly written. Buffered bike lanes aren’t helping, unless the buffers properly disappear where right turns are authorized. I still believe in destination-appropriate lateral positioning for all, to give your fellow road users a clue about your intentions.

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    • q March 13, 2017 at 8:59 pm

      Not sure how your comment has anything to do with mine.

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    • Pete March 14, 2017 at 8:58 am

      I suspect most drivers don’t even know the vehicle code… they follow the paint, and what they see other drivers doing. The dashed lines in California lanes – as well as everyone else driving aggressively through right turns – give most drivers here permission to do so as well (and bring their habits north when they move/visit).

      I ride through this intersection in Sunnyvale frequently: https://goo.gl/maps/ejrhPMtyzr22

      Before they painted the buffer, cars merged right (carrying speed) over the dashes like Californians do at every intersection. After they painted this with the solid stripe on the outside, I’ve yet to see a driver turn ‘California style’ versus ‘Oregon style’ here – I think I even mentioned that several Sunnyvale BPAC members complained about it and asked the city to dash the outside line. (Bonus: I’m sure it saves them repainting it more often now that tires aren’t wearing it down).

      It comes down to what you’re used to, and what you learn to do for your own comfort and safety. When I first moved here, I thought I wouldn’t survive my first year of riding, and now I’m a more ‘assertive’ rider and comfortable taking lanes in challenging traffic conditions (even when drivers believe I shouldn’t be).

      Ironically I now find Portland’s bike lanes more constrictive and unpredictable, but traffic has also increased noticeably there. We can argue the tactical all we want, but alas, I don’t see either approach getting more bicyclists on the road as long as gas remains cheap.

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  • Pete March 26, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    Uber auto-pilot crash in AZ:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2017/03/25/uber-accident-raises-question-how-do-self-driving-cars-deal-with-the-other-guys-on-the-road

    Note that, just like in the Google crash in Mt. View with the bus, the reporter mentions that the other driver failed to yield to the Uber car (didn’t notice if they said a citation was issued). I guess we’ll never really know if a human driver could have avoided these collisions in comparison.

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