Splendid Cycles

A ‘bicycle-friendly driver’ class changes hearts and minds in Colorado

Posted by on March 7th, 2017 at 1:44 pm

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

A lot of energy gets used up on safety education in the bike advocacy world. And most of it is focused on the wrong people.

After two bicycle riders died in the “Platinum” level bicycle-friendly city Fort Collins, Colorado in 2015, the main bike advocacy group held a town hall. Because both victims were riding legally and safety when hit, many people asked, “What are we doing to educate people who drive?”

That outcry led to a lightbulb moment for Jamie Gaskill-Fox, the woman who runs the Bicycle Ambassador program at the City of Fort Collins. The city was already teaching a bike safety class, but it wasn’t well attended. After that meeting, Gaskill-Fox and her colleague Scott Sampl decided to re-brand the class.

They called it the Bicycle Friendly Driver class. The number of people took the class tripled in just one year.

“It wasn’t attractive, so we changed the packaging,” Gaskill-Fox said, “We’re just teaching smart cycling; but from the motorist’s perpective.”

And it works. The class has become a trojan horse in the daily war of the streets. It’s supported by the local AAA chapter, all city bus operators have completed it, it was taught to 800 high schools students last year, the state department of transportation wants to roll it out statewide, and Gaskill-Fox can barely keep up with demand from private companies who want the training for their employees.

The next frontier is to work with auto insurance companies who might be interested in giving policyholders a discount when they bring in their certificate of completion.

Slides from the class.


The 90-minute class helps people learn how to share the street when bicycle riders are present — and how to navigate around bicycle-specific infrastructure like bike boxes and green-colored bike lanes. Each attendee receives a certification and a special bumper sticker for their car.

“When you have someone driving around with his sticker, they make different choices.”
— Jamie Gaskill-Fox, City of Fort Collins

The sticker features a nifty logo and is also offered as a large magnet for use on trucks and fleet vehicles. It’s a key part of a program that’s all about changing traffic culture. “When you have someone driving around with his sticker, they make different choices,” Gaskill-Fox said.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the program is how it has made cycling more attractive — even to people who thought they’d never give it a try. According to City of Fort Collins survey data, over 28 percent of class participants who self-identified as “no-way no-how” when it comes to bicycling, reported they know feel more confident about hopping in the saddle. (65 percent of the “enthused and confident” said they gained confidence.)

Reaching people who drive with information about cycling — especially those who previously would never envision themselves as “cyclists” is a “game-changer” Gaskill-Fox said. “We didn’t even put in a new bike lane!” she expained with joyful enthusiasm, “We just told them how to do it more safely.”

Much to the excitement of advocates in the room, Gaskill-Fox urged everyone to steal her idea. When asked for permission to use the class logo and other materials, she said the class is “public property” because it was developed with federal funding (from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program).

I’d love to see something like this in Portland, or maybe it can influence our existing (and excellent) Share the Road Safety Class.

The magic with the Fort Collins class is how well it’s marketed and presented to the community. I’d put one of those stickers on my car.

If you’d like to learn more, check out the City of Fort Collins webpage where you can request the Bicycle Friendly Toolkit.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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  • SE Rider March 7, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Man, I miss living in Fort Collins.

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  • rick March 7, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Teach kids to count people riding bikes instead of certain cars.

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    • shirtsoff March 8, 2017 at 7:58 am

      I like this idea. I remember counting motorcycles while growing up during the early 1980s. It was great practice in hindsight, but I like the idea of all cyclists being scanned for by the next generation even better.

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  • SilkySlim March 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Love the “[Whose] Lane is it Anyway?” joke they worked in.

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  • MaxD March 7, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    What an amazing program! For the last few months, I have been contemplating a series of blog posts entitled something like “I am not TRYING to be an asshole, I doing this for a reason”. Then I would explain stuff like riding in the middle of a lane, leaving a bike lane, etc. This sounds way better! Thanks for the great write-up.

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  • Austin March 7, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    “it was taught to 800 high schools students last year”

    That’s fantastic, make “sharing the road” a habit early on!

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  • soren March 7, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    the admonition to take the lane and to avoid riding on sidewalks strikes me as exceptionally car-centric. there is an emerging consensus that overtaking is associated with high risk and several studies find that sidewalk riding with the flow of traffic is is about as safe as riding in the lane .



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    • wsbob March 7, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      “the admonition to take the lane and to avoid riding on sidewalks strikes me as exceptionally car-centric. …” soren

      People biking and using the main lanes of the road, helps to emphasize and validate their right to use the road for travel with bikes. Their use of the road with bikes, also may help to build a baseline posted mph for roads which are important bike routes…that is, lower posted mph speed limits down from those that are high to the extent they negatively affect livability, and that have seemed to become standard on many thoroughfares and streets throughout cities and neighborhoods.

      People riding bikes, and one way or another, being coerced off the main lanes of the road to ride on sidewalks, is not good for the future of bike travel.

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      • soren March 7, 2017 at 5:08 pm

        one of the advantages of cycling for transportation is that one can choose to ride in the roadway, in a bike facility, in shared space (e.g. a park or plaza), on a sidewalk, or on a dirt cut-through.

        and i say this as someone who is about to ride major arterial roads in east portland.

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        • wsbob March 7, 2017 at 7:03 pm

          “one of the advantages of cycling for transportation is that one can choose to ride in the roadway, in a bike facility, in shared space (e.g. a park or plaza), on a sidewalk, or on a dirt cut-through. …” soren

          Definitely so, that there is a wider range of infrastructure in the city for riding bikes, given that motor vehicles mostly are excluded from being used for travel on bike lanes, sidewalks, etc. I see too many people though, that aren’t using the main lanes for bike travel when they could be.

          That can become surrender of this major part of the roadway to use with motor vehicles, often to the near exclusion of its use with bikes, even though use of bikes on these lanes is largely supported by law. I think this is a problem that grows and is perpetuated by not enough people using the main lanes for travel with bikes, and by not acquiring the knowledge and experience to ride the main lanes, well and safely.

          I’m interested in reading more about what is covered in Fort Collin’s 90 min ‘bike friendly driver class’, and I’m glad that people driving there are having available to them, information offering closer insight to the needs of people biking, and the importance of people driving to be acquainted with what those needs are, and to drive accordingly.

          A corresponding introduction to use of the road where varying levels of motor vehicle traffic occurs, is needed for people that travel by bike. Not so much for the veterans that have already acquired this knowledge, but for the newcomers, and for those people that bike that struggle with feeling they can take advantage of their opportunity to use the main lanes of the road.

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          • soren March 8, 2017 at 1:29 pm

            “That can become surrender of this major part of the roadway to use with motor vehicles”

            i can safely say that there is no one in Portland more unwilling to surrender a square cm of roadway to motor vehicles than i. that being said, i also do not want to see people cycling restricted from other spaces where they can safely ride in a non-vehicular fashion. my comments here focused on the unsupported assumption that taking the lane “is often the safest way to ride” and that riding on a sidewalk “is usually unsafe”. in fact, there is peer-reviewed evidence that directly contradicts both statements (which i linked to below).

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            • Dave March 8, 2017 at 2:21 pm

              The Lusk et al research was focused on cycle tracks and its re-analysis of the Wachter & Lewiston paper was in the Discussion section of the paper. It wasn’t the focus of their research.

              In fact, the Lusk et al re-analysis seems potentially flawed by the fact that although they add in the non-intersection accidents that Wachter & Lewiston left out, they then *fail* to add in the non-bicycle/motor vehicle accidents, which include bicycle-only, bicycle-to-bicycle, bicycle-to-pedestrian, and bicycle-to-train. It’s likely that some of these additional 57 accidents (15%) occurred on sidewalks, thus potentially reducing the Lusk et al “finding” that sidewalks are safer than Wachter & Lewiston claimed.

              I’m not against riding safely on sidewalks (described very well elsewhere in this thread); I am against claims that overreach the existing data — i.e., there is no “emerging consensus” that you have been able to point to. Just one flawed re-analysis of a limited initial study. Speaking of which, I am not even defending the Wachter & Lewiston paper, nor people who use it to claim sidewalks are excessively dangerous. In my opinion, they are overreaching as much as you are.

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            • soren March 8, 2017 at 3:52 pm

              i have no position on whether “taking the lane” or riding on a sidewalk is safer. i simply do not believe there is enough evidence to make a strong argument in either direction. i’m not sure how you interpret that as “overreaching”.

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            • wsbob March 8, 2017 at 4:08 pm

              pete, h kitty, j liu, and some others below, all offered some examples and explanation about riding on the sidewalk. I don’t think riding on the sidewalk rather than the bike lane or main lane, is absolutely bad; under some circumstances it can acceptable and preferable to riding on the road lane; but far too often people riding on the sidewalk, aren’t doing so for good reasons…for example, when the road they’re riding the sidewalk alongside, has a bike lane, a good, well maintained, clean bike lane…and the road itself doesn’t at the hour they’re riding, has little motor vehicle traffic.

              Living right in the heart of Beaverton, amidst apartments, business and retail, I see this happening quite a lot. Again, a couple nights ago, I was walking the sidewalk towards town. Approaching from the other direction, was a guy on a bike, no front light. It’s shadowy in spots on this sidewalk, and so he wasn’t visible until he was about 7′ from me. I’m sure the sidewalk isn’t wider than 6’…could be less, in other words: close quarters for a bike and someone on foot to pass each other. About 7mph. If he’d crashed into me, I’d probably have been knocked down. Very little traffic on this street, this time of day. Nice bike lane…I use it and the main lane when I ride.

              Motor vehicle traffic on this street can be fast, 35 posted, I think (I’ll check), but traffic can seem faster when there’s a lot of it, which there is during daylight/business hours. It’s a ‘sort of’ cut through from one on the beav’s town centers to the other. I have to guess why some people riding this street, choose not to ride the bike lane.

              I think many may be intimidated by the level of traffic, though I don’t think the traffic on this street is particularly dangerous compared to traffic on the thoroughfares. I think many people riding the sidewalk, may be doing so because they’ve never been introduced to the skills necessary for riding safely, and well, on the bike lane and the main lanes. So, they can’t be confident in doing something they haven’t developed the ability for.

              Poor, or no lighting equipment. Like the guy that passed me on the sidewalk a couple nights ago. Lack of money for the equipment is obviously one reason some people don’t have good, basic lighting equipment, but I’m afraid laziness may be a bigger reason. I’m not talking hundreds of dollars for good, basic bike lights, but maybe fifty bucks for a set, front and back.

              I think it could help make the support for biking, much stronger, if more people were riding the bike lanes in particular, but also, the main lanes of the street, when they’ve got good reasons, consistent with the law, for doing so. A little coursework for them, on an easily accessible level, like Fort Collins’ bike friendly driver class for people that drive, could help bring their presence to the bike lanes and main lanes of the road.

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              • soren March 10, 2017 at 12:16 pm

                “but far too often people riding on the sidewalk, aren’t doing so for good reasons…for example, when the road they’re riding the sidewalk alongside, has a bike lane, a good, well maintained, clean bike lane…and the road itself doesn’t at the hour they’re riding, has little motor vehicle traffic.”

                imo, some have become so invested in the idea that sidewalk riding is dangerous and/or that taking the lane reduces risk that my criticism of an absolutist statement is wrongly interpreted as suggesting that a particular cycling style is less safe. my educated guess is that many styles of riding are safe. (and, of course, context matters but perhaps not as much as those who have a particular ideological bias believe.)

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    • Tom Hardy March 7, 2017 at 5:30 pm

      Yes Soren, but the curbs and sidewalk cracks are a real ender for $%00 wheels.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty March 7, 2017 at 6:55 pm

      Riding on the sidewalk is like driving in the bike lane. It may be safe (for you), but less so for those you are sharing the space with.

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      • Alex Reedin March 8, 2017 at 4:38 am

        In much of Portland, there are usually no/few people out walking so this is not much of a concern. E.g. My most common sidewalk stretch – SE Harold between SE 97th & the I-205 path. 90% of the time, zero people walking.

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        • shirtsoff March 8, 2017 at 8:02 am

          I’ll do the same during peak commute times in very similar sections of east Portland myself. I love having the options of space and mode usage as a cyclist, but as the discussion is implying, having access to the roadway is always imperative to the interests of all cyclists.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. March 8, 2017 at 9:24 am

          When I worked in NW, I would ride on the sidewalk of Naito in the area where it expanded to five lanes and was full of trucks. No way in hell I’m riding in that death trap of a bike lane.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. March 8, 2017 at 9:26 am

            Actually, I just looked and there isn’t even a bike lane on that stretch (near the Fremont Bridge).

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty March 8, 2017 at 10:17 am

          I’m not saying you’re wrong, but is it ok for drivers to drive in the bike lane when there are no bikes about? If not, why not?

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. March 8, 2017 at 11:21 am

            Yes, it is wrong. Cars are dangerous machines which many blind spots and that can accelerate at the flick of a toe. A slowly-moving bicycle poses zero threat to anyone.

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          • Alex Reedin March 8, 2017 at 4:31 pm

            Also, there is a law against people driving in the bike lane and biking (slowly at driveways an intersections, and slowly and with an audible warning when pedestrians are present) in the sidewalk is explicitly permitted by law (outside of a few downtown areas, where it is not legal). Not that the law is the be-all and end-all but it is one big way that people set their expectations of what to expect and be ready to navigate safely.

            Also, there is always the option of waiting for a break in car traffic, then riding in the road for a few seconds to avoid making the people walking uncomfortable at sharing space with someone on a bike. I use this option often.

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          • Dan A March 11, 2017 at 8:49 am

            The ‘cars = bikes’ argument is below your skill level, HK.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty March 11, 2017 at 11:03 am

              That wasn’t my argument… I was trying to illustrate why I generally object to bikes intruding into what should be the domain of pedestrians using an analogy, however imperfect, we can all relate to.

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        • wsbob March 11, 2017 at 11:19 am

          “In much of Portland, there are usually no/few people out walking so this is not much of a concern. ” reedin

          Too many people choose to bike sidewalks in parts of town where there are people out walking, more than a few, and where seeing those that are, sufficiently in advance of passing them, ranges in difficulty due to narrow width of the sidewalk, lighting, shadows, overhanging trees and shrubs. Except for sidewalk/road intersections, it’s not a problem to ride on the sidewalks not in use by people walking. As fast as the person riding feels comfortable.

          It’s a paramount lack of judgment by too many of the people choosing to ride sidewalks, that presents problems: no lights, too fast in approaching and passing people on foot, on bikes, wheelchairs, strollers.

          Age, meaning youth, may be one of the bigger factors determining who probably shouldn’t be riding the main lanes of the road, or even the bike lane. Depending upon the character of, and volume of traffic, many street’s bike lanes likely aren’t advisable places for kids 10 and under, unaccompanied by an adult, or a considerably older, responsible person, knowledgeable and experienced in riding the road.

          So kids of this age, because they’re generally young, inexperienced, and small of stature, rightfully so, are told they’re only to ride by themselves, on the sidewalk. For this to work, observant of the need for safe use of the sidewalk by people walking, kids should be having a solid introduction to correct ways in which to use the sidewalk with other people traveling by the range of travel modes the sidewalk is used for. And how many kids actually get that solid introduction to ways in which to correctly ride on the sidewalk? Obviously, some don’t. And maybe some of that lack, explains how it is that some people older than kids, are riding sidewalks incorrectly.

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      • soren March 8, 2017 at 9:12 am

        In the past year or so at least 3 people have been killed by drivers while riding in Portland’s bike lanes. I challenge you to provide one example of a serious injury or death that has resulted from someone riding on a sidewalk.

        Should people who live in east Portland “take the lane” on Division, 82nd or Powell?

        Should young children riding to school “take the lane”?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty March 8, 2017 at 10:27 am

          >>> Should people who live in east Portland “take the lane” on Division, 82nd or Powell? <<<

          Probably not, and I would not fault someone for riding very slowly and cautiously, for short stretches, on the sidewalks along those streets.

          Just as there are occasions where driving in the bike lane is ok, these are exceptions to the general rule.

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        • El Biciclero March 8, 2017 at 12:47 pm

          Riding in bike lanes is different from riding in The lane, and there are different levels of risk incurred depending on the speed at which one travels in any road position, including on the sidewalk. I have no problem with people—especially kids—riding on the sidewalk, as long as they have the patience and courtesy ride slowly and carefully enough around pedestrians, should any be present, and as long as they understand their potential invisibility to drivers when they are crossing driveways and street intersections.

          In most of my riding, I have long-ish distances to cover, and I don’t want to proceed at pedestrian speeds, stopping for green lights (because I have to check for turning drivers first, or because I’m legally not allowed to enter a signalized crosswalk without the little white man showing), worrying about unpredictable pedestrian moves, or what-have-you. I usually get more advantages when operating on the street than on the sidewalk, and I want drivers to know that if they see me taking the lane, I’m probably doing it for good reason. I look at the slide pictured in the article as less of an “admonition” and more of an explanation. It says taking the lane is “often” the safest, and the sidewalk is “usually” dangerous. I can see how you would quibble with that, as it is not contextualized with behavioral mitigations of the dangers of either one. I might agree that riding very slowly in the lane or very fast on the sidewalk could reverse the sense of “safest” and “dangerous”.

          Bottom line is that one size does not fit all, and I want to be able wear the size that fits for a particular circumstance, and I want drivers to understand that I’m as legitimate a road user as they are, and to drive with care and empathy, regardless of where I’m riding.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty March 8, 2017 at 12:50 pm

            Well said. Written actually. Well, typed, really. Unless you dictated it into your phone. But whatever.

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          • soren March 8, 2017 at 1:20 pm

            my comment was in reply to this:

            Riding on the sidewalk is like driving in the bike lane. It may be safe (for you), but less so for those you are sharing the space with.”

            i would never suggest that riding in the lane is similar to riding in bike lanes.

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            • El Biciclero March 8, 2017 at 3:58 pm

              OK. To clarify, I was addressing your comparison of deaths in bike lanes, to the safety of sidewalk riding, within the general context of your concern over the apparent “admonition” to take The Lane rather than ride on sidewalks. Just want to be sure what we’re comparing: “The Lane” to sidewalks, bike lanes to sidewalks, or The Lane to bike lanes. My point is that each has its advantages/disadvantages, and no one place is always “better” than another, and the relative risk of riding in any given position also depends on one’s other behaviors while doing so—not least of which is speed.

              My argument would be that the faster one rides, the more appropriate it becomes to ride in The Lane. Conversely, when riding on the sidewalk, it is only “safer” if one rides much slower. Each has its place, and the decision to ride in any given position is highly dependent on circumstances, which can be very transient.

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              • soren March 9, 2017 at 1:28 pm

                “My point is that each has its advantages/disadvantages, and no one place is always “better” than another…”

                your point is entirely consistent with my criticism of the absolutist statements made by this program.

                i referenced bike lanes only to highlight the lack of evidence that people riding on sidewalks are a threat to people walking. i think there is a decent body of evidence that bike lanes reduce risk over riding in a general traffic lane.

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              • Pete March 10, 2017 at 5:09 pm

                sometimes illegal and usually unsafe is absolutely not absolutist.
                (The key indicator of absolutism here would be “always”).

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      • MaxD March 8, 2017 at 11:49 am

        I think riding on a sidewalk is quite a bit more dangerous than riding on the street, on a greenway through a residential neighborhood, for instance. People using driveways expect sidewalks to be used by people walking and moving very slowly. They tend to just roll across sidewalks and stop (or slow) at the road to check for traffic. Riding on sidewalks in more commercial areas may be OK if their are few pedestrians, but I think you may be at increased risk of right hook since you are farther out of the field of vision of a person driving. I work in the CEID and live in NOPO. To get home, the safest, and most efficient route I have found is to cross Grand/MLK on ANkeny, take 3rd to Davis, hop on the sidewalk and ride the sidewalk on the west side of MLK (contra-flow) to Lloyd where I can pick up the bike lane. The sidewalk is rarely used by peds so I experience very little conflict. Eastbound cars on Lloyd, however, frequently DO NOT check for people using the crosswalk- they are looking left at on-coming traffic trying to take a right on red. I frequently have to give a loud whistle or clap to get their attention. The bike/ped bridge at 7th over sullivan’s gulch cannot come too soon!

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    • Pete March 7, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      “…several studies find that sidewalk riding with the flow of traffic is is about as safe as riding in the lane.”

      Neither of those studies factor in the speed of the cyclist, cyclist’s speed relative to adjacent traffic, width of sidewalk, etc.

      When riding on the sidewalk your lateral movement is extremely limited. On Saturday I was overtaken by a minivan with right blinker on who suddenly realized my collision course so she slammed on her brakes unexpectedly. At ~23 MPH my instinct drove me hard left staying tight to her corner – there’s no way I’ll risk passing a right-turning car on the right, as I can only assume it’ll complete the turn it’s signaling. This instinct was honed by experience practicing the style of riding you frequently eschew here, but if on the sidewalk there’s a high probability she wouldn’t have stopped – and neither could I at that speed. Maybe 10 MPH or less I could easily have stopped, and when I have to ride on the sidewalk for whatever reason I’m not about to hammer it.

      It’s not car-centric but vehicle-centric, and our objective should be to reduce ignorance of why bicyclists ride in certain manners or positions, while educating riders to choose the safest options for their situations. Totally agree that admonishing one for a particular choice out of context is simply blind judgement.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu March 7, 2017 at 11:33 pm

      I’d like you to quote the exact language from those reports. The first report appears to be a comparison of riding in the street vs riding in cycle tracks, which are not sidewalks. The second report, or at least the summary at your link, doesn’t seem to specifically address sidewalk riding.

      Riding on sidewalks is fine when there aren’t pedestrians, which is sometimes the case in less dense areas. Riding on sidewalks in densely populated areas is not fine, granted most of us may begin or end our ride with a bit of very slow sidewalk riding, but making the whole trip on sidewalks, weaving anong pedestrians, is no better than cars driving in the bike lane.

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      • soren March 8, 2017 at 8:54 am

        “If non-intersection crashes are included to match this 26% proportion, reanalysis of the Wachtel and Lewiston22 data in the article shows that there is no significant difference in risk between the sidewalk bikeway and the street (table 4). For bicyclists riding in the same direction as traffic, as would be case with one-way cycle tracks, sidewalk bikeways carried only half the risk of the street.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty March 8, 2017 at 10:21 am

          Is a “sidewalk bikeway” the same as a “sidewalk”?

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          • soren March 8, 2017 at 1:22 pm

            Yes. In fact, Wachtel and Lewis 1994 is the primary citation used to justify a long-existing bias against sidewalk riding.

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            • soren March 8, 2017 at 1:43 pm

              Correction: Wachtel and Lewiston, 1994.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty March 11, 2017 at 11:06 am

              My long-existing bias against sidewalk riding comes from asshats who ride with speed along sidewalks I am trying to walk on or across. I think sidewalk riding is an anti-social behavior (that is on occasion justified) and I object to efforts to normalize it. If you have to do it, and you know it is anti-social, you are more likely to do it in a way that minimizes the impact on others.

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          • wsbob March 11, 2017 at 11:40 am

            “…Is a “sidewalk bikeway” the same as a “sidewalk”? …” h kitty

            Unless you’re specifically referencing a term or phrase used in the study cited, which I’ve not browsed over…sidewalks upon which travel by bikes (as compared to conventional sidewalks upon which it’s commonly accepted that kids will sometimes be riding, rather than adults.)…also is allowed, are MUP’s: Multi-Use Paths.

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        • John Liu
          John Liu March 8, 2017 at 1:28 pm

          Thanks. It makes sense that, riding on the sidewalk, the cyclist is at less risk of severe injury from a car . . . but a cost to pedestrians’ peace of mind.

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          • Pete March 8, 2017 at 9:00 pm

            I’d still like to see speeds factored in. If the cyclists in the study are sidewalk riders at low speeds, then it’s more likely the cyclist’s speed prevented the severe injury and not simply the fact they were on the sidewalk.

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            • Dan A March 11, 2017 at 8:53 am

              Yeah, there are other factors. When I ride in the garage on rollers, my interactions with cars are greatly reduced, but I have had numerous collisions with the garbage can.

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    • Dave March 8, 2017 at 10:56 am

      These “sources” are worthless for making the point you want to make: “an emerging consensus”. How does a 1996 article about bike fatalities in England, from 1985-1992, with no mention of sidewalks, relate to an “emerging consensus”? The other paper was from 2011 (“emerging”, as in recent, consensus?), and its study focuses on *cycle tracks*, not sidewalks. The citation that you quoted is a study that, as old (1981-90) and limited in scope (one city, Palo Alto) as it is, actually found that sidewalk riding was 1.8x *riskier* than roadway riding.

      Your point may or may not be valid, but these sources don’t support it.

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    • SE Rider March 8, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Do those studies take into account Portland’s very lax laws and enforcement on cars parking all the way up to intersections?

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    • Dave March 9, 2017 at 8:33 am

      Couple of things about riding sidewalks: 1. They are pedestrian space and usually inadequate for them. If we are to ride in pedestrian space we are under an ABSOLUTE MORAL OBLIGATION TO RIDE AT PEDESTRIAN SPEED. 2.Driveways cross them, and drivers often have shit lines of sight across the sidewalk–between buildings, parking lot ramps from above or below sidewalk level, usually looking past the sidewalk to the street. And it’s illegal to ride on a sidewalk in many areas. Pedestrians have enough problems in the US of Automobiles–we cyclists shouldn’t add to them.

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      • soren March 9, 2017 at 1:47 pm

        i think the “dangers” of sidewalk riding are exaggerated because there is a perception that people biking are getting away with something by being able to magically transform from a “vehicle user” to a “pedestrian”. (most pedestrians drive to their walking destination.)

        imo, a more significant problem when it comes to bike-ped interactions is the refusal of many to stop when a pedestrian enters a marked or unmarked crosswalk. this is particularly a problem on commuter “peloton” routes, such as, williams.

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      • wsbob March 9, 2017 at 4:27 pm

        dave…sidewalk suitability for riding bikes upon, can very widely. Downtown Portland businesses figured out years ago, rightly I think, that the level of pedestrian activity on sidewalks there, made use of sidewalks also for bike travel, hazardous to people walking…consequently riding bikes on Downtown’s sidewalks is prohibited.

        Other places in Portland, Beaverton too, where pedestrian use is light, street traffic is heavy, visibility is good, sidewalk biking can be ok. In Beaverton, four or five years ago, the current mayor said to me personally, that his view was that if someone riding thought traffic on the street was too much for them to handle, riding the sidewalk was certainly acceptable. Same said to me personally by a police officer with the city that trains bike police officers for skill in riding their bikes on duty.

        Bad things that can happen with people riding bikes on the sidewalk, is as you said…often insufficient room on the sidewalk for people on foot and people on bikes to safely and comfortable pass each other abreast. Had this experience several nights ago. Guy on bike was riding slow enough, but with the narrow, shadowy sidewalk, and his not being equipped with lights, I could barely see him in the night. Close quarters, great potential for serious collision. Low traveled street with great bike lane adjoining it…makes much more sense to ride the bike lane…but go figure.

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    • Pete March 10, 2017 at 7:26 pm

      The slide above indicates sidewalk riding being potentially dangerous, and I’d bet that it’s less an admonition and more a message to the typical non-cycling motorist mindset (the target audience) who often assume that 1) bicyclists belong exclusively on sidewalks, and 2) sidewalk riding is always safer than riding adjacent (or in front of) cars.

      Ironically almost all of my sidewalk riding is against the flow of traffic. One of the few reasons I ever ride on a sidewalk is when I have to traverse contraflow (i.e. midblock destinations on divided or busy roads) in order to cross at an intersection to resume riding back in the direction of traffic. (And no, I tend not to walk my bike when I use platform cleats on stiff shoes).

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  • El Biciclero March 7, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    I want to say, “It’s about freakin’ time!”, but I’m speechless. This kind of education is so far beyond the typical “hey, non-motor-users: dress like a clown, have your head on a swivel, and be ready to run/dive out of the way, or else prepare to die”-style “safety campaigns” we tend to have—I’m flabbergasted. My gast is thoroughly flabbered.

    O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

    How do we get this here?

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  • Buzz March 7, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    This is exactly what is lacking in Oregon! Nobody, not PBOT, not ODOT and not the DMV, are planning or even discussing this desperately needed motorist education effort.

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    • soren March 8, 2017 at 9:35 am

      “Nobody! not PBOT…are planning or even discussing”

      increased driver education and stricter licensing requirements have been extensively discussed as part of Portland’s vision zero process. this image shows where the barrier to adopting these types of reforms lies:


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      • Buzz March 8, 2017 at 11:36 am

        Sorry, but I don’t buy that. PBOT has already decided their main focus will be primarily on engineering, at the expense of enforcement and education.

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        • soren March 8, 2017 at 1:38 pm

          “at the expense of enforcement and education”

          current enforcement is expensive, sparse, and ineffective. portland’s vision zero program emphasizes enforcement that is far less expensive, far more ubiquitous, and demonstrably effective.


          as for education, i think much of our current education is counterproductive in that it places the onus for being hit on vulnerable traffic. portland’s vision zero program has *begun* to change this focus by acknowledging the primary role of driving behavior (and most especially vehicle speed).

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          • Buzz March 8, 2017 at 2:53 pm

            portland’s vision zero program has *begun* to change this focus by acknowledging the primary role of driving behavior (and most especially vehicle speed).

            acknowledge where? In a Vision Zero echo chamber? For education to work you need to reach your target audience, in this case motorists with bad driving behavior.

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            • soren March 8, 2017 at 3:33 pm

              i guess you did not click on my link above. installation of signage, speed reader boards, and speed cameras are both education and enforcement. and we should be doing this on a much broader scale but governor brown and ODOT stand in our way.

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              • wsbob March 8, 2017 at 10:27 pm

                “… signage, speed reader boards, and speed cameras are both education and enforcement. …” soren

                The road use management items you name, are informational and aid in enforcement of safe, responsible use of the road. They’re not educational material.

                Educational material for becoming a good driver, comes as part of the condition for being licensed to drive a motor vehicle…before actually driving, by studying rules of the road, what the signs and lights mean, and so on. Followed by practice behind the wheel, student overseen in the vehicle by a responsible, licensed to drive adult. Then, an exam, and a behind the wheel, on the road test.

                I haven’t been through the class or seen the course outline, but if it holds for quality and integrity, as well as apparently being very popular, Ft Collins’ 90 minute ‘bike friendly driver’ course, might be a nice enhancement of the driver education procedure people participate in to get their driver’s license. Doesn’t sound expensive to administer either, since it’s public property. Some room space, instructors, volunteers or paid to do it, and that’s about it.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu March 8, 2017 at 1:30 pm

        The BTA excuse me Street Trust could start a class like this. Maybe throw in a little bit about not running over pedestrians too. Work with the high schools, get kids a half-credit for taking the class.

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  • bikeninja March 7, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    How about this, everyone has to take this class and pay for it before they can get a drivers license. Seems simple to me.

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    • Tom Hardy March 7, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      Or renewed!

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      • shirtsoff March 8, 2017 at 8:04 am

        Yes! My driver’s license is about to expire in a few years, let’s make this part of the renewal process.

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    • Eric Leifsdad March 8, 2017 at 6:08 pm

      Indeed. I’ve begun thinking that the DMV currently issues plates in batches of 1000 with the same last 3 letters and that I can tell how long drivers have been in Portland by how well people with plates from a given batch behave around people walking and biking. (e.g. ###GTB plates were being issued maybe 6-8mo ago.) I have a very small data set of 2-3 memorably sketchy encounters per month, so the correlation might just be coincidence.

      If there’s a pattern to identify newbies, it would be good to know! They seem to let just about anybody drive a car and we don’t have any police on the street to finish the drivers’ education.

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      • 9watts March 8, 2017 at 6:12 pm

        You’re probably onto something but your dating scheme could benefit from some ground truthing.

        “(e.g. ###GTB plates were being issued maybe 6-8mo ago.)”

        Recently we were at JRY, or thereabouts, and ti typically takes the OR DMV about 18 months to burn through one letter (the first of the three). So If we run this backwards, GTB was issued about 3 years ago (The letter I doesn’t exist on license plates).

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      • Pete March 10, 2017 at 11:11 pm

        “If there’s a pattern to identify newbies”

        It’s when the license plates begin with numbers instead of letters… 😉

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        • 9watts March 10, 2017 at 11:14 pm

          Time flies, Pete.
          That was March of 2004…
          Besides, for some dumb reason DMV I think now requires(?) buyers of used cars to get new plates? Or maybe it is just the default option and no one realizes they don’t have to?

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  • B. Carfree March 7, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Outstanding! Social infrastructure is the key to making cycling more enjoyable, more popular and improving the perception that it is safe (it’s already as safe as driving, not that that’s saying much, but very few people perceive it as such). Educating motorists is a big part of social infrastructure. If this becomes a de facto insurance requirement, so much the better. If the state jumps in to require it, we’ve got something seriously right.

    On the liability side, if all the jurors have taken such a course they will be hesitant to give the standard pass/get out of jail free to deadly scofflaw motorists. I believe this to be the case because the crimes that are seriously punished in our society appeare to be the ones that judges, jurors, prosecutors and legislators cannot see themselves committing.

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  • TonyT
    TonyT March 7, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    FYI, “They called it the Bicycle Friendly Driver class.” = dead link

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  • Caitlin D March 7, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Yay, Fort Collins! I grew up there during my teenage years, but sadly I was not a bike rider back then. Looks like I missed out!

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  • Clark in Vancouver March 7, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    This is pretty amazing. The popularity shows that (at least some) drivers honestly want some direction in how to drive with bikes around.

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  • bendite March 7, 2017 at 10:29 pm

    People drive like psychos in Ft. Collins. 50 mph is routine in town and so many people are effin with their phones.

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    • Pete March 10, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      Welcome to America!

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  • Middle of the Road Guy March 8, 2017 at 10:13 am

    The liberal side of me wishes to see greater penalties for when a car/driver harms a more vulnerable user (assuming it was the driver’s fault). Too many drivers treat others in the roadways as obstacles or inhibitors to their travel.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty March 9, 2017 at 10:23 am

      You’re a law-and-order liberal?

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  • Paul Atkinson March 8, 2017 at 11:49 am

    My partner runs a business focused on adult education. They do primarily science education right now, but have been looking for ways to expand that would help improve the community.

    We have an event tonight in Vancouver that has her attention (http://www.viaproductions.org/events/kiggins_march_8_yeast/ if you’re interested…not bike-related), but I’ve downloaded the course information packet from Fort Collins and we’ll start going through it tomorrow to see whether this is something we can do effectively. I don’t want to come out and promise “yes, we will be hosting this class” when I only learned today about its existence, but she and I are going to take a realistic look at it.

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  • Carrie March 8, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    The Hawaii Bicycle League has had the same type of education program for years: https://www.hbl.org/walkbikedrive/. I was an educator for a year before I moved to Portland. The main groups that received the presentation were freight and tour bus operators, but HBL would go out to anyone who requested the training — business groups, individual businesses, etc. It was a great presentation that really spoke to both the reasons why cyclists rode like they did AND how what most of them were doing was legal.

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  • bendite March 10, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Hello, Kitty
    You’re a law-and-order liberal?
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    That’s my take, too. I call myself a liberal for responsibility.

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  • emeeeeeeeeeeee March 10, 2017 at 11:53 am

    This is fantastic, it’s so nice to read some good news.

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  • mh March 10, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    I just flipped open PCC’s latest community ed catalog, and see they have a section on “Traffic Safety.” It includes driver education classes and motorcycle ride classes, and I feel like something is missing.

    Creating a class through PCC is probably a very easy way to get something started.

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  • Mark smith March 10, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    The link to the actual group is bad. Here is the actual lin:


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    • soren March 11, 2017 at 9:44 am

      From the site:

      “Why sharing the road is the safest alternative for both motorists and bicyclists”

      Now that is some grade A VC nonsense. The safest alternative for “bicyclists” is to have their own facility.

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      • SE Rider March 11, 2017 at 2:29 pm

        and yet what is the header picture on that site (a multi-use, “separated” path).

        Seeing as this is a class for drivers (on sharing the road with cyclists), I think you might be misinterpreting that statement. Do you really think it would further the cause for the class to focus on having cyclists not be in their way, on their own special paths? (i.e. bikes don’t belong on the road)?

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