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The impact of fear on ‘bike safety’ in car-centric Beaverton — UPDATED

Posted by on May 17th, 2017 at 10:19 am

Beaverton to Tualatin ride-3

What would make streets like this “safer” for bicycling? Fear-mongering? Or perhaps a bit more encouragement and reassurance?
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Ms. Fast is BikePortland’s Washington County correspondent.

Sometimes I wonder if a well-intentioned “bike safety” presentation can do more harm than good.

At May’s meeting of the Beaverton Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC), Ben Howard, committee rep and a member of the Beaverton Police Bicycle Patrol unit, gave the committee a flawlessly organized but somewhat chilling presentation on bicycle safety. He introduced it as the same presentation he and police partners regularly give at community events and at companies like Nike, providing audiences with:

— Top five bike safety tips (my paraphrase, in no particular order, is: helmet, defensive riding, defensive riding, helmet, helmet)
— Summary of commonly asked bike law questions
— A warning about being “dead right”

Not included as program bullet points were safety concerns like:
— What is being done by the city to halt traffic violations by drivers?
— To whom—exactly—riders should report unsafe bike lane obstructions?

I’ve been biking since 2005, but if my first introduction to bike commuting had come through a safety presentation like this, well-intentioned as it may be, I doubt I’d have started riding.

In my twelve years of city and suburban bike commuting, the BAC presentation marked the first time I’ve ever been to one of these bike safety presentations.

It was useful in some ways: One bit of statute-related information I became aware of is that the police can cite people for riding on a sidewalk if a bike lane is present. That describes many Washington County roads where drivers are allowed to travel at speeds of more than 50 mph — mere inches from bike lanes. I also learned there’s a fairly widespread problem with people backing their SUVs from driveways into people or other cars. The safety tip offered: “Don’t be dead right; it’s your job as the bicyclist to assume a driver won’t look to see you coming.” OK.

The safety presentation came as the BAC plans its Bike Beaverton ride, an annual event in September on Beaverton-owned streets. County-owned roads like Murray, where just last April a woman hit a person on a bike, then drove into a McMenamins, are not included as part of the ride route. Nonetheless, bicycle helmets are required for adults as well as children, unlike at Portland’s Sunday Parkways or the open streets walk and roll in Gresham this Father’s Day.

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The BAC is adamant about the helmet requirement for adults in part because, in one member’s words, we need to “model” their use for children. In the four BAC meetings I’ve attended this year, no member has offered a rhetorical rebuttal to the adult helmet requirement. Likewise, the phenomenon of active commuter “victim blaming,” that some area cities still engage in, was not addressed during the bicycle safety presentation. (Note: Oregon state law does not require people 16 and older to wear a bicycle helmet.)

A tour of the West Side-42

I’ve been biking on Portland, Beaverton, and Hillsboro city streets since 2005, but if my first introduction to bike commuting had come through a safety presentation like this, well-intentioned as it may be, I doubt I’d have started riding. If I was an employee who always drove to work, but was curious about cycling and happened to stop by this presentation at lunch one day, I think I’d be pretty turned off. I think I’d feel like the risks wouldn’t be worth the rewards of my effort. The reiteration that “cars” “don’t look” suggests people’s safety isn’t attended to by users or keepers of our streets. The implication that safety’s all “on me” if I want to ditch my car and walk the half mile to the county bus stop or ride a bike is pretty off-putting. I think humans are sort of hard-wired to seek out the protected part of the group, and then to stay in it.

Lucky for me I guess, I started riding a bike before I found out I wouldn’t be in society’s protected class anymore.

I want people to have and know about safety tools, but growing the number of people who believe they can set out to confidently cycle in their community should be the top safety presentation goal. Otherwise, hosts and presenters of safety classes are also in danger of being “Dead Right.” They can be so effective at fearmongering that their audience won’t even start riding bikes. And that’s too bad, because one of the most effective safety strategies a city can implement for its active commuters is the “Safety in Numbers” rule.

City leaders and officials: We need you to understand that “riding with a buddy after dark” isn’t always a work commute reality. Instead, do what it takes to help many more of us feel comfortable getting out of cars and onto bikes. In safety presentations, give riders reassurance that the city and county are working together to protect vulnerable road users by 1.) having zero tolerance for distracted, reckless drivers, and 2.) adding, maintaining, or removing, infrastructure for us in all reaches of the city. That allows real safety in big numbers, a concept that should be inherent in bike safety presentations.

Love and friendship are what happened to lead me to biking, and it never occurred to me to take a safety course. But everyone comes to bike commuting differently.

Have you ever attended a bicycle safety presentation at your company that scared you so silly you decided not to try bike commuting to work after all? On the flip side: have you been to such a presentation and it worked to help you to get out there and bike? The more, the merrier, as the saying goes! But also, the more, the safer.

UPDATE, 9:30 am on 5/22: Portland attorney Ray Thomas, author of Pedal Power: A Legal Guide for Oregon Bicyclists, commented below, providing clarification on ORS 814.420, which was referenced in the article. Thank you, Ray.

Ray Thomas presents his next free Rules of the Road Clinic at The Street Trust this July. View his March 2017 ODOT Pedestrian Safety Operations Training here, and his Bicyclist Rights in Oregon videos here.

— Naomi Fast, @_The_Clearing on Twitter

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

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rick
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rick

What else to expect from Washington County Land Use & Transportation? SW Canyon Road needs a moratorium to halt any new construction of drive-thrus and car dealers. West Slope doesn’t have a single grocery store.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Sad. Thanks for the update.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

‘The reiteration that “cars” “don’t look” suggests people’s safety isn’t attended to by users or keepers of our streets. The implication that safety’s all “on me” if I want to ditch my car and walk the half mile to the county bus stop or ride a bike is pretty off-putting. ‘

It may be offputting, but it is a reality that is too dangerous to ignore. People should be assured that authorities are working to protect vulnerable road users, but they should not have a false sense of security. Having said that, it’s unhelpful if the tone of the presentation is scary. The message needs to be about how people can get started in a realistic environment, not about how awful it is.

The safety presentation may well have missed the mark as these are often given by nonriders. Overemphasizing things like helmets distracts people from real issues — wearing a beer cooler on your head provides little protection when you get pulped by a couple tons of steel. Best way to avoid injury/death is to not crash in the first place.

soren
Guest
soren

“but it is a reality that is too dangerous to ignore.”

Cycling is a safe mode of transport and there is essentially no evidence that education (e.g. league of american bicyclists classes or similar) or advanced cycling skills reduce risk of injury or death in the context of transportation cycling. IMO, we should not use the biases and experiences of enthusiast/recreational riders to frame how we discuss transportation cycling safety. This is akin to framing pedestrian safety based on the biases and experiences of long-distance runners.

To extend this analogy further: As measured by fatalities over mode share, walking is *substantially* more dangerous than cycling in the Portland metro area. Howeover, there are few “experienced walkers” criticizing people for being uneducated about proper and effective walking technique.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Cycling is reasonably safe.

People are told to drive defensively — which is good because other road users sometimes do the wrong thing for various reasons. Switching from driving to pedaling does not change what you need to do or why, especially since the costs of others’ mistakes are higher for vulnerable road users.

The framing issue is an important one and I think scaring people is unproductive. The best way to frame things in my experience is to let people talk about their specific concerns and address those individually. When people wrap their minds around what their experience will be like, they’ll be more confident and have more fun.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

I can see some value in teaching new riders to watch for trouble spots and how to read a car’s movements or driver’s intent/lack of awareness.

I could see much more value in teaching drivers to stop at the stop line instead of after, because this violation creates a lot of ambiguity about what kind of person you’re dealing with. A good way to teach drivers to follow the law would be with a citation.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

I think a lot of it is in how it’s framed. I don’t mind someone recommending a helmet and defensive riding as tips to help with safety, but if it’s framed as “do these things or you WILL die!” then the intended message is lost. Being aware and being afraid are two different things. In fact, being aware can help you be less afraid. Instead of portraying an attitude of “cycling is dangerous so you should do this”, it should more “cycling is safe, but this could help you be even safer.”

I guess I’m just echoing Kyle’s comments above, but pushing for better infra and enforcement and advocating for personal responsibility for one’s safety doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. As long as the idea is to make aware and not to scare.

Pete
Guest
Pete

The courses that Soren loves to slam don’t tell you that you have to wear a helmet, but they do show you how to properly fit one, without which a helmet can be essentially useless. Soren loves to paint these classes as being taught by, and targeted to, die-hard practitioners of Vehicular Cycling (you know, those evil recreational “enthusiasts”). Some of the things I learned (and practiced) in addition to lane positioning include how to recognize different detector types to trigger lights, where to look to scan for threats, equipment selection and fit and maintenance (including emergency repair techniques), object avoidance manoeuvres, efficient pedaling and gear selection, and fall techniques for injury reduction.

After taking some of these courses my riding experiences became far more pleasant, and “near misses” few and far between. Soren has asked me in the past to provide empirical evidence of the effectiveness of these ‘VC’ classes (as they’ve been referred to here before), but I have all the proof I need.

chris
Guest
chris

But Soren is never wrong, you know, (at least he thinks so). A few months back he tried to convince me, to the point of angry harassment, that I was regretful about buying a house in Portland and that I should be a renter instead. Yeah, I’m sooo regretful that the house I bought for 186k is now valued at 350k, poor me, what a dummy I am…

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

I’ve been looking around for stats on fatalities and injuries by travel mode (walk/bike/auto) in the PDX and greater PDX area… Do you have a source you could point me to?

soren
Guest
soren

Hi Melissa,

According to PBOT an average of 11 pedestrians, 2 bicyclists, and 24 motorists have died each year (over a 20 year period).

The PBOT Vision Zero site has excellent resources here:

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/71730
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/40390
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/68873

ODOT also reports fatalities and serious injuries here:

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS/pages/index.aspx

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

Thanks soren!!

Pete
Guest
Pete

I’m willing to bet a long-distance runner crosses busy streets and encounters various situations far more than the average pedestrian. Maybe they have something to teach?

Free Market Economist
Guest
Free Market Economist

Agreed.
Runner’s and recreational cyclists are doing it for their health, thus they pay attention to what is best for their health (such as being safe).

Some commuter cyclists and dawdling walkers may not be paying so much attention to their health and how safety might affect them; and many of them are no doubt in the “entitled” mentality that says they don’t need to look before crossing the street, can wear ear buds so they can’t hear traffic, can walk along clueless as they look at their phones, etc. You see it every day and occasionally one of them will make the headlines when they are hit by a MAX train or bus.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Overemphasizing things like helmets distracts people from real issues — wearing a beer cooler on your head provides little protection when you get pulped by a couple tons of steel. Best way to avoid injury/death is to not crash in the first place. …” banerjee

Who is it, you think doesn’t know that the best way to avoid injury or death, is to not crash? I’m serious…because I ‘m sure the officer’s that give these safety presentations, meet up with people that might know, but may not be taking the necessary precautions. Those people need reminding.

I enjoyed the “…beer cooler…’ comparison. That bike helmets share some properties with beer coolers is somewhat true too, though helmet foam may be, probably is better quality, more dense than a lot of the beer cooler foam, fish boxes, take out containers, and so on. Some of those foams are very soft, crumbly. Would they withstand the drop test that bike helmets are tested against? I think I read in one of your comments elsewhere that you’re a bike gear field tester, so maybe you know something about this we might all benefit from hearing about.

Bike helmets fit much better too, but you’re welcome to wear an actual beer cooler on your head if that’s you preference! I would actually mention to someone having reservations about wearing a bike helmet ‘because they’re too hot ;(…’, that the foam, plus the vents in bike helmets, can work very effectively in keeping a rider’s head from getting too hot.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

The 3 bad kid-on-a-bike crashes that happened in our neighborhood over the past few years were caused by:

1. Not knowing how to approach an edge at a right angle.
2. Not using two hands while making a downhill left turn at speed.
3. Not taking care of a bike chain, causing it to seize and the bike to endo.

The worst child riding habits I frequently see in our neighborhood:

1. Riding on sidewalks behind parked cars
2. Riding in the door zone
3. Turning left across the road without looking back over your shoulder

I’ve yet to see a child’s bike fair address ANY of these things.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

dan…have you approached the officers or whoever it is that does the bike fair, about including instruction on things you feel are important for grade school kids to know about riding bikes? Seems like you could probably do something like that. Maybe a couple hours volunteering here and there to help show the kids how to do it, if the program instructors feel your idea is good.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I’ve put an a couple of these myself with the help of our Cub Scout Pack. I managed to sneak in some instruction on looking back, and a few other riding skills, and had a small-scale offroad race too. Parents were certain that the offroad riding would result in carnage, but we had zero injuries, and we ran 15 heats, if I remember right.
I tried to get a door zone demonstration added (we had around 12 different stations) but we weren’t able to get it set up in the space we had, and nobody wanted to have any parts of our fair conducted in the road. The concept of teaching kids how to ride in the road was a non-starter — half of our committee didn’t want their kids to ride in the road at all, much less be taught that riding in the road can be safer than riding on the sidewalk. And it was really difficult steering our parents away from the ‘common wisdom’ of what a bike fair must consist of: helmets, hand signals, and a tire pump station.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I haven’t formally tested helmets, but I’ve worn numerous models across the price spectrum. I’ve crashed hard enough cycling and skiing to knock myself out and banged my head on underwater rocks when kayaking hard enough to stun myself while wearing helmets — definitely wouldn’t want to do any of those things without protection.

Helmets are not controversial among people who know what they’re doing. Paying more doesn’t necessarily get you any more protection until MIPS (which I think is a good idea) is added in, but it does buy you helmets that vent better, lighter, are more comfortable in general, and are easier to adjust. Fit is important, and wearing a helmet improperly can render it useless. An incredible percentage of people wear helmets that are fit improperly and/or are too loose.

One thing I’d observe in general is that the styles of helmets that totally dominate in urban areas are heavy and poorly vented. I would describe them as “buckets” but they provide good protection if worn properly. Anyone who thinks helmets are too hot probably hasn’t tried a decent helmet which can actually make your head cooler. Except on steep extended climbs in hot weather, overheating is not an issue. This is not a real concern in Portland because hills max out at just over 1,000 feet so it’s not even possible to spend a long time climbing with no respite.

The reason I made the comment about fixating too much on helmets being a distraction is because the most important piece of safety gear is the part the helmet is designed to protect. Too many people seem hеll bent on not using that.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I get the impression from word of mouth, that the straight and skinny on basic protective ability that bike helmets are tested for…the drop tests, 6′ and 4.5′, I think, are not given at all regularly enough to people shopping for bike helmets. People might be getting sold mainly on style instead.

Last week in one of the local bike shops, I paused at the helmet display. New mips helmet by Smith, hot brand, the ski accessory company, 280 bucks. Seriously? Cool looking helmet, but except for people that have it to burn, that’s crazy money for a bike helmet just to get the same basic drop tested protection that a 30 dollar bike helmet offers. People need help being made well aware if the fact isn’t self evident to them, that the bike helmet is simply protection against a modest distance impact to a hard surface. I just don’t think this fact is one that many people would have difficulty understanding clearly.

Problems with good fitting helmets are believable. My cranium is on the large size, so most of the standard sized helmets don’t fit me. I can just imagine the problems people with really small craniums have getting good fitting helmets. I suppose it would cost a fortune, but with digital printing, a perfect fitting bike helmet ought to be easy as pie to produce.

No way though, is a big head of hair or a do, going to be happy under any helmet. Maybe some of the people with dreads, have ones that are thick enough to absorb a lot of impact.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

There are other differences on the high end helmets which may not matter to you, but they do matter to other people.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

I think this is true in the sense that people need to be aware of what they are buying by spending extra money. More money doesn’t necessarily equal more protection until, as Kyle notes, one enters the MIPS tier. Mostly though, more money just means less weight and more coolness (regardless of the sense of “coolness” you use). The helmets I really don’t like are the kids’ helmets that have massive protrusions all over them to make them look like gladiator helmets or various fanciful monsters—all I can see is some kid going over their handlebars and getting their neck twisted because the helmet catches on something or doesn’t slide properly on the street.

Again, as Kyle notes, fit can make or break the usefulness of the most expensive helmet. I see all kinds of folks—especially kids—riding around with chin straps swinging loosely or helmets tilted far back on their heads. I want to stop and give them a one-minute mini helmet workshop, but too afraid I’d get put on a list of neighborhood creepers.

Pete
Guest
Pete

We need a bike helmet that keeps your head safe and beer cool at the same time…

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Parts required: solar cell, modern environmentally friendly coolant, air drive to circulate the coolant, tubing, some kind of anti-gravity device to lighten up the weight of all that stuff, plus the beer. But watch out, if it’s not rigged to exact design performance requirement specifications, the device might inadvertently tap into cosmic time continuum cycles, and the wearer could find themselves transported back to the future.

Greg Spencer
Guest

The health benefits of cycling are “substantially larger” than the risks, including from crashes, according to this study. On average, switching from car to bike commuting will extend your life by 3-14 months. By comparison, crashes will take away 5-9 days. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2920084/

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

Screw the helmet nannies.

Fuzz
Guest
Fuzz

Yeah! Safety is WAY over rated!

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Jonathan first photo brings up my biggest issue with cycling infrastructure in Washington County, which is that there are many bike lanes that begin and end randomly, often in dangerous situations.

rick
Guest
rick

like chunks of Cornell Road, a 45 mph speed fest by a public school

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

It just might help if PPB and BPB would work together on hwy 26th between the tunnel and 217. Every day westbound there are at least 3 new graduating class students from Lincoln hitting 85+ going past the zoo using all 4 lanes.
On different days I have seen them on Canyon WB after Sylvan passing 3-5 cars per block. Other days they were SB on 217.
The bike patrol may not help on these, but everyone else watch out!
Myself I wear a helmet full time on the bike. It has only saved my life a couple of times.

rick
Guest
rick

Lincoln High school students?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

They frequently post a motorcycle cop on Hwy 26 by Sylvan. Personally I’d like to see more speed management on city streets.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Yeah, I’m not often on the freeway on my bike. I’d like to see more enforcement in general, but I’d more like to see more enforcement where lawbreaking endangers vulnerable users. Speeding, bike lane and crosswalk encroachment, right turn on red w/o stopping, failure to yield when turning right across a bike lane, dangerous left turn, running red lights, failure to signal, passing too close, driving in or blocking bike lanes…

mran1984
Guest

Good point about the freeway. I’d like to see citations going out to everyone who is not present in the world around them. Whether they are driving, pedaling or walking, the phone and the earbuds are the most unenforced infractions that have a dangerous affect on my commute and road rides. Pedestrians are the worst offenders

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Those deadly pedestrians!

TonyT
Subscriber
TonyT

The helmet law stance by BAC is a non-starter for me. I wear a helmet most of the time, but mandating it flies in the face of all of the data that we have regarding these laws and biking rates. Add the rest of their fear-mongering presentation and they’re pretty much writing the book on how to keep people off of bikes.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

http://www.copenhagenize.com/2009/09/fear-of-cycling-03-helmet-promotion.html

“… because helmet promotion campaigns reduce the overall numbers of cyclists, helmet promotion increases the risk of cycling.”

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

“One bit of statute-related information I became aware of is that the police can cite people for riding on a sidewalk if a bike lane is present.”

Can you provide the statute for such a citation? Is it a Washington County law, or was he referring to ORS 814.420, Oregon’s mandatory sidepath law?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I wonder if they could write a ticket for people riding on the Bethany sidewalk, next to a bike lane that is skinnier than the AASHTO mandated 5 feet?

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

A more practical question is there any actual issue with such tickets being written when what the cyclist was doing made any sense?

You’re also supposed to take a bike lane or path if provided and I never have if I don’t want to. Haven’t ever had a cop hassle me about this.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Has a cop ever seen you riding outside a bike lane with cars behind you?

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Yes, but not in a way that would give them a good reason to stop me. There are three reasons I sometimes don’t use a bike lane — in areas where I can maintain speeds that I don’t think being near the side of the road is as safe, debris in bike lane, simply don’t like the lane/path.

After the storms in the past year, I wasn’t hardly using bike paths at all due to all the rock, particularly on hills. Some sections were not clear for a very long time.

No one pulls you over for going fast on a bike if you’re safe. However,my threshold for debris or path quality moving me is low. Frankly, I’m surprised I’ve never been hassled for that, but riding on garbage is unsafe and I’d say so if stopped.

I do try to stay out of the way of other cars — if I’m grinding up a hill and cars are stacking up, I signal that I want them to do a close pass. Plus, cops don’t enforce much of anything out here.

I’ve encountered cops who don’t know anything about bikes and don’t like them in other areas, but that is simply not a systematic problem in Portland. Too many bikes here for that.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…You’re also supposed to take a bike lane or path if provided…” banerjee

Unless the bike lane or bike path doesn’t meet the requirements for the type of riding you’re doing, as detailed in ORS 814.420, text provided in John Ratliff’s comment via the following link:

https://bikeportland.org/2017/05/17/the-impact-of-fear-on-bike-safety-in-car-centric-beaverton-228808#comment-6807818

More people should perhaps be working to get clear answers from the police and the courts about just what exactly are situations where someone riding a bike could be cited for violation of this law, because it seems many people are in doubt about this.

For myself, I believe I understand quite well what the creators of this law and those that passed into law, the bill it started out as being, had in mind in terms of acknowledging the rights of people biking to use the road. This law acknowledges the 100 percent right of people biking, to use the entirety of every road in the state with the exception of some freeways.

I think the only use of the road people biking aren’t entitled to when a bike lane or path is present nearby, likely would, for example,be to deliberately and arbitrarily occupy the main lane of road to block traffic in the main lanes, or slow it down below a reasonable rate of speed for the road. So, ‘arbitrarily’ meaning, if there was an excellent bike lane in meticulous condition near to the main lane of the road, and somebody biking insisted on riding on the main lane instead, holding up faster traffic and declining to pull into the clean swept pothole free bike lane to let the faster traffic pass…they might be in violation of 814.420, and could be cited and found guilty in court. That’s just one example that comes to mind, and there may be others as well.

I think bike lanes are great for biking. Definitely nice to be able to pull into them in order to let faster traffic pass, rather than a crummy, narrow shoulder. However…if the bike lane has a lot of junk in it….I’m riding the smooth, debris pavement, two, three, or however many feet away in the main lane. And vice versa as the case may be.

Society doesn’t expect people to drive over crap on the road that threatens to puncture the tires of their vehicles, motor vehicle or pedaled. Society shouldn’t expect people biking to ride in bike lanes and bike paths that aren’t sufficiently designed and maintained for the type of practical travel bikes are capable of providing for people that ride them.

Spiffy
Subscriber

re Bike Beaverton ride: so don’t wear a helmet… they can’t stop you from cycling on the same route as them… just means you also don’t need to sign their useless release of liability… it’s how I do the city sponsored rides now…

Austin
Guest
Austin

On the other hand, they are putting a lot of time and resources into the event. If you want to join in the fun that they are providing for you and your community, why not just wear a helmet? In the end, we both know it doesn’t matter either way, it just seems like a matter of respect for the event organizers.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Austin…thank you so much for your two bits. I’ve written elsewhere here already about the upbeat tone of Bike Beaverton family ride, but I think it does help for more people to vouch for this also. There’s so much more I wish the beav could do with biking events…more of them…in a range of seasons throughout the year…in other neighborhoods besides Central Beav….and including in the routes, some of the heavier traffic streets.

People that ride well on Beaverton’s streets…and there actually seems to be quite a number of them…aren’t so visible because they’re scattered randomly about in traffic on their own individual rides. The occasional well organized event ride or group ride, could positively go some way to display biking as a great way to travel that can be very compatible with people driving.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Indeed, I have encountered people in Beaverton who are mostly unaware that there are cyclists in Beaverton, which is probably because most of us stay away from the roads that they drive on.

Phil Richman
Subscriber

Good article, thanks Naomi!

Adam
Subscriber

This advice is a symptom of the patriarchical cycling culture that plagues our country. Basically they want you to be strong, fast, and unafraid of mixing with 50 MPH motor vehicles. Can’t handle that? You must be weak. Forget it if you’re slow. Forget cycling with children. Cycling is for the strong only.

The only thing that can change this toxic attitude IMO is cycling infrastructure that can safely accommodate all riders, no mater what their abilities may be. We can educate all we want and even send the right message, but we are never going to get most people to be willing to ride on a road like the one pictured above without quality separated cycling facilities.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

I agree with you. I find that basic bike lanes simply speed up car traffic. They are generally applied to streets where traffic moves too fast already in too large of volumes – streets that really ought to have protected bike lanes, as you say, but the municipality was either too cheap or very naive, usually a combination of the two. Here in Greensboro we’re advocating for neighborhood bike routes whenever possible (they’re cheap and more popular for the interested but concerned riders) and better arterial facilities for shorter distances to connect the neighborhood routes – but then we don’t have a good street grid nor a history of facilities like Portland, just a lot more money. We’re still struggling to get protected facilities, but we are finally getting buffered bike lanes on some of the many streets they are repaving.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

People in the Oak Hills neighborhood didn’t want the Bethany widening project, which would cost many people to lose half of their backyards, in exchange for a widened 4-lane road. But they pitched the plan with cushy bike paths!, trees! and sidewalks!, all of which were jammed into a smaller area than the cross-sections that they sold the community on, next to an East German-style cement wall.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…the patriarchical cycling culture that plagues our country. …” adam h

adam….are you deliberately trying to be funny? Or is it an accident…or should I say…collision…with humor when you were really intending to be totally serious? I realize a lot of ‘mamil’ types…middle age men in lycra…trying to re-invigorate their waning testosterone on their mucho bucks carbon fiber racing style bikes, might be pumping the ‘go fast or die’ mantra…but there are so many basic get-a-round bikes out there, ridden by about every conceivable type of non-cyclist…I don’t much believe the racer types are what’s having people feel they can’t ride a bike safely in traffic. (there you go dan a…non-stop, run on sentencing with lots of dots, that you can browse right on by.).

What would scare off any non-cyclist in Beaverton, isn’t the presentation Naomi described being given at the BAC meeting…but the almost horrific provision for biking on for example, Cedar Hills Blvd directly adjacent to the city’s major multi-attraction, major draw mall, Cedar Hills Crossing. CHB, truly is a scary ride for the person that isn’t in a hard core gonzo rider state of mind…and that’s downhill to the south. Uphill to the north, is even tougher and scarier. Hall Blvd in Central Beav…one of the city’s most important thoroughfares…is also not for the meek of heart. Canyon Rd, same general area, very busy, actually is less averse. But then…Millikan Way is just a couple blocks north, relatively quiet street to ride on, good even for a normal biking person.

Skid
Guest
Skid

There is still an entry level skill set, and you should also be paying attention. Sorry, not sorry.

soren
Guest
soren

Fear uncertainty and doubt being spread by the car-centric majority and recreational cyclists (often overlapping categories) is, IMO, one of the major barriers to more widespread adoption of cycling for transportation.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

That is one of the stranger attacks on joy-riding that I have ever seen. Folks who enjoy getting on their bikes and riding for hours at a time are being attacked in some posts as advocating cycling for only the so-called strong and fearless, and now they are being attacked for fear-mongering and being primarily motorists. Good grief!

From my point of view (mostly from a saddle), if someone’s on a bike, I’m filled with joy no matter what their purpose in riding is or how s/he chooses to ride. For myself, unless I’m transporting someone who is too frail to be transported by bike, I won’t use a car. That has at times meant commutes that are longer than most so-called recreational cyclists ride on their outings. (I’ve had commutes that are 100 miles round trip and loved every mile)

Does that make people like me the cause of all that is wrong with our pathetically low cycling numbers? I think not. I’ll go further and say that it is the pro-separation, very short distance riders who have led the charge on fear-mongering that has so harmed our ability to recruit and retain new riders. I guess it’s hard to simultaneously note that cycling is quite safe and call for it to be completely separated from all other road users, but can we at least stop eating our young?

soren
Guest
soren

I did not attack “joy” in the least.

Although transportation cycling has grown significantly, it still makes up only a small fraction of bike trips:

http://www.peopleforbikes.org/page/s/download-the-report
http://b.3cdn.net/bikes/7b69b6010056525bce_ijm6vs5q1.pdf

Most recreational riders drive to work.

Justin M
Guest
Justin M

Thank you for writing this. It is a little alarming that the message is people are on their own for safety on bikes, but drivers are having all sorts of safety solutions engineered for them. The fact is that we are all responsible for our own safety, but municipalities often do things to enhance this safety as well. Maybe highlighting that, so that potential cyclists won’t feel like they’ve got no one in their corner, would be more encouraging.

Benjamin Vulpes
Guest

Your safety in traffic is all on you /regardless/ of your transportation mode; the world is dangerous, human life precarious, and no policy or infrastructure will ever change this.

Furthermore, this pernicious abdication of personal responsibility is the hallmark of cowardly statists who would rather do anything than take ownership of their own well-being, which goes hand-in-hand with their relentless push to mandate that “our democracy!” transform ever more humans into dependents of various statal organs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of bike lanes; bike lanes are great! No white line painted on the ground, or law passed by self-important municipal administrators is going to keep you from getting smeared by a tonne of steel moving at forty miles an hour though.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

“Your safety in traffic is all on you”

Uh, no, sometimes my safety is in the hands of other people.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Sometimes it is. That doesn’t change the fact that you have a greater interest in your own safety and ability to influence outcomes than anyone else in the vast majority of circumstances.

Free Market Economist
Guest
Free Market Economist

K,
Exactly right. Be smart. Make yourself seen using best available technology (we all know what those are). Choose routes that have the best bike infrastructure. Drive defensively and assume drivers will not see you because many times that will be true. Do what you can for your own safety.

soren
Guest
soren

When we bike around people distractedly driving multiton metal boxes our safety is always in the hands of others.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Which is precisely why riding defensively and safely are one and the same.

David Feldman
Guest
David Feldman

And, it’s why LAB type vehicular cycling courses and books do most certainly have some value; “Effective Cycling” is a wacky and dated book in some ways but it is the first book to explain a method for riding American suburban environments in a relatively safe way. 8-80 year old skill-free cycling is probably not going to be a reasonable standard in most of our natural lifetimes; VC, like it or not, is a rational response to the environment most of us have to ride in. It’s reality-based, not based on delusions of Amsterdam.

soren
Guest
soren

many styles of cycling have “value”. i strongly believe we should advocate for styles that are more attractive to cautious riders — including sidewalk riding.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Some people who do things out of concern for safety undermine their own objectives. Consider the statistics for those who purchase firеаrms for self protection.

Sidewalk riding is not inherently unsafe or illegal if done safely. However, it is more dangerous to the cyclist as well as peds if done unsafely because of the dynamics with motorists at conflict points.

soren
Guest
soren

“but it is the first book to explain a method for riding American suburban environments in a relatively safe way”

an absolutist opinion provided without the tiniest shred of evidence.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

BTW, defensive riding applies everywhere, not just near cars. For example, many cyclists simply ignore the stoplights on Better Naito. Really bad idea. Last night, I saw some guy nearly t-bone another cyclist crossing at full speed with the green.

Both are bоnеheads in my book, though the one on Naito was clearly more so. The reason I’m not charitable with the cyclist who clearly had legal right of way is that cyclist and ped activity on Naito is unpredictable so full speed crossings are never appropriate — especially at what effectively is a MUP intersection.

Likewise, cyclist treatment of peds is simply abysmal. Get on any MUP and watch how close and fast many cyclists pass peds and animals. This is unsafe for everyone.

BrianC
Guest
BrianC

I can attest to the poor treatment of pedestrians on MUP type amenities…

Occasionally, maybe 3 or 4 times a year, I will ride the Fanno Creet trail. This requires a mental reset when transitioning off of my normal Hall Blvd/Boones Ferry commute route. I choose what would be my “starting from a stop” gear on the bike, and roll down the trail at about 10 to 13 kph. Which is about jogging speed. Sometimes even slower when things get busy.

There is nothing like coming around a blind corner and head on into some bozo blasting along on his bike at a rate of speed greater than appropriate for conditions. The basic rule applies to bike riders too… Sometimes their facial expressions are hilarious… *not*

Benjamin Vulpes
Guest

Again, ride like your life depends on how you do it. They might sideswipe you accidentally, but even the biggest-truck-drivin’, balls-swingin-from-trailer-hitch-havin’, deep crack-o-my-ass-county living dillweed isn’t going to go so far as to /actually mow you down/.

Take the lane. Fly the middle-finger freedom rockets. Ride like your life depends on it BECAUSE IT DOES, YOU OSTRICH.

Veen
Guest
Veen

But they might roll coal on you. Don’t ask me how I know.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

GlowBoy

“It’s your job as the bicyclist to assume a driver won’t look to see you coming.”
Yes, but no more than it’s every car operator’s job as a driver to assume others won’t look to see them coming.

Absolutely. It is everyone’s job to avoid all crashes they reasonably can.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

You should send this advice to Chris Froome. Clearly he doesn’t know enough about how to ride a bike.

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/05/09/sport/cycling-chris-froome-france/

SD
Subscriber

Is this an excerpt from Ayn Rand’s instructional book “Teaching your weak children how to bike like an egoist”?

Pete
Guest
Pete

“No white line painted on the ground, or law passed by self-important municipal administrators is going to keep you from getting smeared by a tonne of steel moving at forty miles an hour though.”

That’s not the responsibility of the line or the law, it’s the responsibility of the pilot of said tonnage – especially if that forty miles an hour exceeds what’s appropriate for conditions.

q
Guest
q

But who’s abdicating personal responsibility? I don’t see anyone here doing it. Advocating for a safer biking environment isn’t abdicating personal responsibility.

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

Let Beaverton (and Portland) grind to a gridlocked halt. There is no money for roads despite the glowing reports of do this, do that, bantered about by giddy officials.

Free Market Economist
Guest
Free Market Economist

How many positions do those governments have with titles and offices that include words like equity, social, justice, diversity, inclusive, sanctuary, etc. What are some others that waste taxpayer dollars at the expense of citizen safety?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

PBOT has plenty of money for Vision Zero design and engineering, though…

Davep
Guest
Davep

Did you bring this feedback up at the BAC meeting? if so, what was their response? Just curious if your feedback was taken seriously, or they have their talking points and that’s it. (i too am a Beaverton/Hillsboro bike commuter)

rick
Guest
rick

I went to a bike Beaverton meeting once and was very surprised by some of what and how things were said.

Joe
Guest
Joe

massive construction project on Jenkins Rd and taking the lane is needed, but when they shuffle cars far right into a bike lane makes no sense. * careful if you ride that area its right after Murry heading towards cedar hills. * I did inform a few police officers and the just said stay safe. lol ( lotta ppl use cell phones while driving )

rick
Guest
rick

very sad

dan
Guest
dan

I looked at all the single-occupant cars stuck in traffic as I biked in to work this morning and really thought that catering to that need to drive a personal vehicle everywhere is ridiculous, unsustainable, and will become more so as the region densifies.

Justin M
Guest
Justin M

I did not know densify was a word. Learn something new every day. My mind is becoming densified with knowledge. Thanks!

Free Market Economist
Guest
Free Market Economist

Actually if we finally get cheap renewable energy the enviros will not be able to shame car drivers so their numbers will explode. Not going to happen overnight though.

dan
Guest
dan

Show me where we can put two more lanes on all our arterials like Hawthorne, 39th, Division, etc. and tell me how we’re going to pay for it, and I’ll agree with you that cheap electricity could improve commuting. As it is, “cheap renewable energy” has nothing to do with my comment that there isn’t space for all those cars and it’s futile to try to build it.

SD
Subscriber

This “class” along with police report characterization of drivers vs. bikes/peds makes it clear that there is a significant number of officers who wish that no one would ride their bicycle beyond their cul de sac.

Paul H.
Guest
Paul H.

Tone is important. Imagine the following presentations:

Travel agent: Don’t drink the water. Don’t drink the water!

Computer instructor: Don’t trust e-mail! Don’t trust the web!

Red Cross: You may faint after giving blood! Faint, right there!

Preschool teacher: Your child may pick up harmful germs!

All those bits of advice are true, and shouldn’t be neglected, but they hardly give the hearers a sense of the joy or satisfaction that those activities provide. Acknowledge risk, sure, but put it in context.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Totally agreed.

But if a fearmongering tone is dissuading people from cycling, we might think about how ideas are often presented in this forum before casting stones at others.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

A thing you do to mitigate a risk often seems like more of a burden than the risk itself. Because a risk is just a chance of something happening, not a guarantee it’ll happen.
But you have to take the mitigation measure 100% of the time, to feel like you’re successfully guarding against something that might have only a 0.1% or 0.01% probability. (Or higher, if you want to be argumentative, but certainly not 100%.)

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Depending on the timeframe you’re talking about, mitigating 0.1% risks is extremely important. Doesn’t take long at all for the math to catch up if we’re talking on a daily basis. Even on an annual basis and calculated over a lifetime, it is significant.

In the US, roughly 1 in 4000 people die in bike crashes. There are many things you can do to reduce your personal chances of being part of that statistic.

rick
Guest
rick

Is the victim blame-game dished out at new public school playgrounds?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

We had a bike fair put on at our school last year. The two teachings were 1) here, let me fit your helmet for you 2) here’s how to do hand signals. And then there was a small skills course they could ride through with miniature street signs. There was no instruction on anything that would actually help keep a kid from getting run over or doored.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“We had a bike fair put on at our school last year. The two teachings were 1) here, let me fit your helmet for you 2) here’s how to do hand signals. And then there was a small skills course they could ride through with miniature street signs. There was no instruction on anything that would actually help keep a kid from getting run over or doored.” dan a

Ok…your story raises some important questions: How old were those kids? How many of them ride by themselves on bike lanes adjoining curb parking where cars are parked? How fast do these kids ride?

I’m going to guess that maximum grade level of the kids at your kid’s school, was 6th. Is that right? So maybe 11 years old, oldest. I believe the instruction those kids received is just introduction to basics of traffic controls. The same kind of thing offered at the bike rodeos, to start to introduce road use safety to them in a friendly, fun way. Many, maybe most of the kids in your school, likely aren’t going to be able to handle at their ages, the complex skills involved in riding the line distinguishing bike lane from main lane to avoid the door zone.

Definitely though, junior high school and high school kids, could be helped to be prepared to ride in traffic, being advised of some of the more so sophisticated procedures for avoiding hazards.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Yes, elementary school. They don’t need to know hand signals nearly as much as they need to know how to look behind them before turning left across a road, how to stay out of the door zone (which exists on every road where cars are parked, not just roads with bike lanes), and what to watch out for when riding on a sidewalk. Their parents need education on basic bike maintenance so that their kids don’t die as a result of their brake pads going into their spokes at high speed.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…They don’t need to know hand signals nearly as much as they need to know how to look behind them before turning left across a road, …” dan a

They do though, definitely need to know how to properly…varied according to the specific road situation…properly and effectively display hand signal while riding. This knowledge isn’t something people are born with. It’s not so simple a thing, and is something people generally have to be introduced to, discussed with, and have help in practicing.

I do think it’s very important to stay out of the door zone, but the scary thing about that, especially for kids, is that they’re small, and riding for example, the line in order to stay out of the door zone, places them closer to traffic in the main lane. Meaning, there’s more danger for people to watch for when they’re riding the line. I have a lot of reservations about elementary school kids really having the skills and savvy to do this safely by themselves…with an adult or two, one leading, one trailing, probably. That’s the way to instruct them.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Agree to disagree on the hand signals. I wouldn’t put it in the top 10 of safety skills, for any rider.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I used them, hand signals that is, today near your neighborhood, southbound on Bethany Blvd at the village to turn left on Thompson. What is that? …the bike lane plus two main lanes to cross to get into the left turn lane. I could have made the transitions without signaling, but not easily or safely. Lots of motor vehicle traffic on that road and and at that intersection. Use of hand signals while biking is very important to be able to do effectively in such situations. Definitely not for kids. The intersection has a signaled crosswalk. I’d advise elementary kids riding bikes, to make the turn using the signaled crosswalk.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Thank you for making my point for me: elementary-aged kids are not signaling left and taking the lane on Bethany. Things they DO need to know in that situation, instead of hand signals:

* How to position your pedals and start from a dead stop quickly, to get through the intersection before the light changes.
* How to look back and to the left before crossing, to avoid being right hooked.
* What to watch for when crossing an intersection (Is cross traffic stopped? Is a left cross possible?).
* How to make a left turn at a large intersection, crossing twice instead of taking the lane.
* How to ride safely in a group.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Dan A at May 22, 2017 at 8:05 am:

If elementary kids aren’t using the main lanes, left turn lanes, etc of the road (and in most cases, unless escorted by knowledgeable bike skilled adults, I don’t think they should be.), they don’t need to be actively prepared to have the skills for good, effective hand signals and lane change procedures.

Hopefully though, in the not too distant future…maybe 5 to 10 years depending on individual’s ages, they will still be riding, and will need those skills. I think it wouldn’t hurt at all to start having at least some introduction in to how to do the signaling and turning procedures.

All the other items you mentioned, are of course, important and very worthwhile to learn for kids being prepared for a life of being excellent at using the road with a bike.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

The issue is that you can only teach so many skills at a bike fair. We are wasting our time teaching kids something they most likely won’t need for years at the expense of skills they could put to use now. You may as well teach a 7-year-old how to glue up tubulars. Helmet fitting and tire pumping isn’t even a skill for kids — it’s something to teach the parents.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Dan A at May 27, 2017 at 10:33 pm

“The issue is that you can only teach so many skills at a bike fair. We are wasting our time teaching kids something they most likely won’t need for years at the expense of skills they could put to use now. …”

You’re saying that elementary kids do need instruction in how to stay out of the door zone, which means likely riding close to the main line distinguishing bike lane from main lane, but they don’t need instruction in hand signaling? Sorry, but I think learning hand signals at elementary school age, is very important.

How to fix tubular tires? That’s funny. thanks for the laugh.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Advise in Class for new Drivers: If you are going to drive, please eat healthy and exercise every day to avoid becoming a sickly muscle atrophied slob. Also avoid gas stations because of the benzene fumes, and drive-through restaurants because of the unhealthy food.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Huh. That’s funny, because the driver’s ed classes I took prominently featured instructional films with titles such as “Blood on the Highway”, and “Red Asphalt”. Interesting how the exact same fear mongering can be used in driving classes, and not one teenage kid is dissuaded in the least from learning to drive a car (at least not back when I was kid). Similarly, seat belt laws don’t cause people to give up or not start driving cars. Neither do gas taxes or car payments or registration fees or insurance costs or maintenance costs. With a small (but growing) segment of the population excepted, there is almost nothing that will convince people to voluntarily not drive.

What is it about driving a freaking car that is so incredibly compelling that almost no expense, no danger, no additional hassle will sway people from their desire to drive? What does bicycling as a mode of transportation lack that makes it so much less compelling that a helmet law or one story about a close call will cause people to say, “you’ll never catch me on one of those things!”?

What is it?

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

You’re on to something there. I’m old enough that we had driver’s education coupled with a state-required health class in my high school. I’m imagining some form of that coming back with a big unit on sedentary lifestyle disease, currently a major killer of Americans. Who knows, we might get young people to blame cars for their unhealthy bodies and take steps to not make the same mistakes their parents did.

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

Every time I see a “be safe be seen” advertisement, I want to punch someone right in the mouth. I am safe. I’m nearly completely covered in retroreflective material, and yet I still have issues in marked crosswalks after dark (not to mention before).

I am not the problem.

Free Market Economist
Guest
Free Market Economist

Article is off-base. It is YOUR responsibility to do as much as you can for your own safety and that includes wearing a helmet. To even publish an article “whining” about helmets when there is so much noise made over “vision zero” is weird.
.
And, no, more cyclists will not make you safer.
.
I don’t ride too often in downtown Beaverton, but if I find myself on a busy street without a sidewalk like parts of Farmington or Canyon (pictured above) then I’ll either get on the side walk or use a less-busy side street. You can get around safely in Beaverton, but not if you don’t use your head, lights, etc.
.
I am not aware of any streets in Beaverton with a 50 mph speed limit, although many of the major streets have 45, so probably a lot of people are doing it.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“Article is off-base. It is YOUR responsibility to do as much as you can for your own safety and that includes wearing a helmet. To even publish an article ‘whining’ about helmets when there is so much noise made over ‘vision zero’ is weird.”

I don’t think anyone was whining about helmets, per se; the complaint is about requiring, or legally mandating helmets for adults—there is a difference. Imagine choosing to buy health insurance vs. being legally required to. Further imagine that health insurance was promoted by saying that not having it will cause you to get sick and likely die. Is health insurance a bad idea? Not necessarily, but as a Free Market Economist, I would imagine you would object to being told you must purchase it, and you might be a little off-put by anyone telling you that you were doomed to get sick because you don’t have it.

And, no, more cyclists will not make you safer.

There have been studies done that correlate higher participation in bicycling with higher aggregate safety for bicyclists. There is a study from 2003 that is often cited in other articles about bicycling safety, and I also found a newer study from 2016 that investigates the correlation. The mechanism by which higher rates of bicycling and walking results in greater safety for bicyclists and pedestrians is the subject of continued study, but “common sense” would lead one to believe that if drivers actually observe more people on bikes or on foot, they will develop a higher expectation of seeing such people out and about, and will therefore look more carefully for those road users, rather than assuming their path will be clear of bicyclists and pedestrians at all times. You’ll deny it, but you, yourself operate based on many assumptions and expectations, even when on the road.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“I am not aware of any streets in Beaverton with a 50 mph speed limit, although many of the major streets have 45, so probably a lot of people are doing it.”

Any street with a posted speed “limit” of 40 mph has a de facto speed limit of 50-55, since that is the stated threshold (10 – 15 over) at which most enforcement agencies will begin to consider citations.

soren
Guest
soren

do you also wear a helmet when you walk and drive?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

So much wrong here.

Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost
Guest

In my view the police are wrong on this one because a “roadway” does not include the sidewalk. THerefore there is no legal basis for the assertion that one must ride on a bike lane and not the sidewalk. Any one ticketed for this should let the court know that and if someone can help us here the policeman who gave the talk and their department need to be told about their mistake so they can quit saying it to people. PLUS alot of people feel safer on the sidewalk and they may well be more safe there in fact.
The statute says”814.420 Failure to use bicycle lane or path;
exceptions; penalty.
(1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this
section, a person commits the offense of failure to
use a bicycle lane or path if the person operates a
bicycle on any portion of a roadway that is not a
bicycle lane or bicycle path when a bicycle lane or
bicycle path is adjacent to or near the roadway”. NOTE the definition of “roadway”, does not include a sidewalk so the statute does not even apply to the sidewalk:
“Roadway” means the portion of a highway that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the shoulder. In the event a highway includes two or more separate roadways the term “roadway” shall refer to any such roadway separately, but not to all such roadways collectively. [
ORS 801.450 – “Roadway” – 2015 Oregon Revised Statutes
SO, what the statute actually prohibits to put it correctly is to ride anywhere on the highway when there is a nearby bike lane or bike path. AND if you do not like the bike lane or bike path, ride on the sidewalk unless it is otherwise illegal under city law like in a downtown core area, and in that case, ride over and take a different street.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

hey ray…your comment got me curious enough to ask myself the question I should have asked the first time I read in this story, that in the bike safety presentation at the BAC meeting, attendees were advised that it was ‘possible to be cited for riding on the sidewalk if a bike lane is present.’.

What part of the presentation, actually made such a claim? There’s no quote from an officer to that effect, and no direct quote from the presentation in general. Nevertheless, a number of readers to this story, pick up on the mere suggestion that some officer said such a thing, and their assumptions progress to full blown hysteria. In the absence of any report of such a citation having been issued.

“…In my twelve years of city and suburban bike commuting, the BAC presentation marked the first time I’ve ever been to one of these bike safety presentations.

It was useful in some ways: One bit of statute-related information I became aware of is that the police can cite people for riding on a sidewalk if a bike lane is present. …” naomi fast

I’ve never heard of someone being cited for riding a bike on the sidewalk when a bike lane is present for that reason alone. Have heard plenty of stories of people riding irresponsibly on the sidewalk: too fast and without sufficient care and regard for other sidewalk users. As I’ve written elsewhere, I’ve got it on good authority, that it’s legal and acceptable by the Beaverton Police Dept. for anyone to ride a bike on the sidewalk, whether a bike lane is nearby or not.

In fact, if anyone reading, really wants to check their facts on this question before further leaping to conclusions, here’s the name of officer that advised me that it’s fine to ride on the sidewalk:

Mark Barrocliff/police mountain bike officer/instructor/ph 503 526 2261/email mbarrowclif@BeavertonOregon.gov

Call him up, send him an email. Near as I could tell at Bike Beaverton, he seemed like a great guy, very public service oriented, easy to talk to.

q
Guest
q

Ray–thank you for your contributions. It’s like having a referee magically drop out of the sky in the middle of a skirmish.

Your interpretation makes sense from a common sense standpoint. The bike lane keeps slower bikes out of faster motor vehicle traffic. If a cyclist chooses to ride on the sidewalk instead of in the bike lane, so what? They’re still out of the vehicle lane.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“In my view the police are wrong on this one because…” ray thomas

Like a number of other people posting comments to this thread, Mr Thomas seems to have accepted without question, the report in this story that Beaverton Police Officer Ben Howard said to people at the BAC meeting, that people riding on the sidewalk where a bike lane is nearby, could be cited by 814.420, for ‘failure to ride in a bike lane’.

I’m skeptical that Howard said any such thing. If he did, he was incorrect, and I didn’t need to read Thomas’s comment to know that, because I’ve read this law before. The text of that law is readily available online for anyone to read. If Howard did say about this law what he’s reported to have said, I think an explanation, and maybe an apology, is in order.

There is enough fear and paranoia on the part of some members of the public with regards to the police, without uncertainty on simple matters like using the bike lanes and sidewalks with a bike, further muddling things up.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Your report sounds like the city I live in, except you have bike facilities and we don’t, and you have a BAC that meets regularly.

rick
Guest
rick

Regular sidewalks on both SW Canyon Road and BH Highway don’t count as bike facilities.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Unfortunately, sidewalks are counted as such here. But what I was referring to was the photo of mid-street bike lanes – we don’t even have those, in out city of 288,000 fast drivers. But we will have 125 Limebikes at a university here by June 5th.

PeaDub
Subscriber
PeaDub

The “sidewalk” or whatever the hell that awful shared-use “protected” thing is on BH Hwy between 209th and Kinnaman is a bloody nightmare. It’s completely unmaintained; it encourages cyclists to use it for traveling west as well as east (because the westbound shoulder is inadequate); is full of unpredictable users of all kinds; and causes motorists to erupt in mindless fury when I use the “car” lane to avoid the latest treefall, 2″ of pea-gravel spilled by a truck from the quarry with an unsecured load, or gaggle of kids on scooters/skateboards taking up the entire width who aren’t paying any attention to their surroundings.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

The whole “expect everybody to break the law at all times” thing is problematic. Why even have a law if there’s no expectation it’ll be followed? Maybe I should go around pre-emptively shooting mofos then? It’s called “Defensive Being” — I just assume they’re all trying to rob & kill me, and act accordingly. I don’t want to be “dead right!” Just being proactive!

Ridiculous example, and yet, that’s what we’re being told.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

Look at it as two systems: the bicycling system and the automotive system. If the bicycling system were self-contained and didn’t ever interact with the automotive system, there would be a vanishingly small number of injuries & deaths within that system. (The same carnage would of course continue in the automotive realm.)

What kills and maims cyclists is motorized vehicles, approximately always. What a vehicle driver does or doesn’t do, has a huge impact because it comprises the bulk of the conditions that determine the result. Therefore, you can almost say, there’s no such thing as bike safety, to teach; there’s only automotive safety. What a bicyclist does or doesn’t do, is nearly inconsequential in terms of their own safety. So you can expect negligible results from educating bicyclists.

(Within reason of course. Bicyclists should learn the basic rules of the road, i.e. this is not the cue for your “death wish” story about the guy with dark clothes and no lights at midnight in the middle of a sharknado in January who ran seven lights and got sucked into a woodchipper.)

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Glenn
What kills and maims cyclists is motorized vehicles, approximately always. What a vehicle driver does or doesn’t do, has a huge impact because it comprises the bulk of the conditions that determine the result. Therefore, you can almost say, there’s no such thing as bike safety, to teach; there’s only automotive safety. What a bicyclist does or doesn’t do, is nearly inconsequential in terms of their own safety. So you can expect negligible results from educating bicyclists.

Absolute nonsense.

Automotive safety is extremely important and must be advanced through all reasonable means. But a fatalist attitude dependent on all motorists knowing and obeying laws as well making no mistakes rather than riding appropriate for conditions which happen to include bad drivers, you will get into a lot more trouble.

There is a reason why some people regularly have crаzy adventures on easy streets intended for bikes while others do fine on much faster roads with heavier traffic and little or no bike infrastructure.

soren
Guest
soren

>There is a reason why some people regularly have crаzy adventures on easy streets intended for bikes while others do fine on much faster roads with heavier traffic and little or no bike infrastructure.

Gaslighting.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Hardly.

Not paying attention and failing to adapt to circumstances is the most dangerous thing you can do and makes you a menace to yourself and a threat to those around you.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

I don’t know how we went from “within reason” and “learn the rules of the road” to “don’t pay attention or adapt to circumstances.” Oh wait yes I do, you made a straw man argument.

Jeez I even told you this wasn’t the cue for your sharknado/woodchipper story. And to give it the illusion of weight and authority you bolstered it with namecalling. “Absolute nonsense!” I’m sure the schoolyard bullies cower, defeated, before the nerd whenever he brilliantly retorts with some vaguely British-sounding pronouncement like that.

Well if you had any appreciation of subtleties rather than just “absolutes,” you’d have noticed I ascribed some responsibility to all parties. But most of the blame goes with the ones doing most of the damage. Putting blame exactly where it belongs is not fatalist, it’s an acknowledgment that a big part of my own safety is out of my hands out there. Not all of it. (I know, mind blown, right?)

And just so you know, I’m not waiting for motorists to be perfect; I’m waiting for them to get off the road, forever.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Bicyclists should learn the basic rules of the road…” glenn

Basic rules of the road, first and foremost. That’s what kids in grade school are introduced to in bike fairs and bike rodeos. For actually riding in serious traffic, in and out of the bike lane, there are certain essential skills unique to biking in traffic as compared to driving, that people biking are at considerable disadvantage if they don’t have them.

For example: Good, effective signaling for turns and lane changes is crucial; not every person driving will honor the displayed signal, but many will, and they’re the road users to have as allies.

Strategies for avoiding hooks, left or right as the case may be. Doing this effectively can sometimes involve the individual biking, being prepared to personally moderate their right of way in approaching intersections. Difficult to describe in writing. Demonstration on the street or with a video is better.

I think it’s true that people biking can not rely for their safe use of the road, entirely on people driving, doing consistently what they’re supposed to do. Though it’s also true that many people biking and that barely know beans about riding safe in traffic, have their bacon saved by the many people driving safely and with great concern for all the people on the road that are someone’s loved one.

Pete
Guest
Pete

“What a bicyclist does or doesn’t do, is nearly inconsequential in terms of their own safety. So you can expect negligible results from educating bicyclists.”

Statistically, I’d likely be dead by now if what you say is true.

Fuzz
Guest
Fuzz

As far as the Beaverton traffic photo is concerned, I would not offer anyone “encouragement and reassurance” in an attempt to make them feel safe on the section in the photo without a bike lane. Why? Because it really would be risky riding in all that traffic. If you’re a strong, experienced rider you could probably keep up with traffic thru that particular stretch much of the time, and might pass a lot of cars. Many people do not fit the strong and experienced description and for them, I’d say stay on the sidewalk or find another route.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

fuzz…it ought to be noted that the telephoto lens that shot was taken with, stacks up the eastbound traffic, having it look to be worse than it really is. On the other side of Canyon, the north side, which is the westbound lanes, there are serviceable bike lanes. There’s better roads to use though, very nearby: such as Broadway, and Millikan Way.

OregonJelly
Guest
OregonJelly

What’s next, liability waivers and helmet requirements at the next street fair?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

hey Naomi…good to hear viewpoints on biking in Beaverton, from a fellow beaverton resident. You may remember me from comments to previous stories you’ve had posted to bikeportland.

Over the years, I’ve been to a few Beav BAC meetings. Small group, nice people, the times I dropped in, there never were many guests. Usually, a Beaverton police officer is in attendance to give a short presentation. Again, very nice people, upbeat, positive.

I’d guess it was your interpretation that left you somehow feeling there was any “…fear mongering…” going on in that meeting. That, or the presentation has somehow radically changed from the last time I attended one of the meetings, two or three years ago. You got “dead right” in quotes, so that leads me to believe that phrase was in the presentation. Correct?

Hey, I’ll tell you what…I’ve heard that phrase many times over the years, and I take it as a friendly warning of the actual danger existing on the streets for people biking. Danger that arises from… . I may as well save those topics for a later post. One of the things I really wish the BAC was working on or more actively promoting, is skills in riding a bike in traffic, for adults. The bike rodeo thing for kids is ok for basic intro about what stop signs mean and so forth, but the rodeo course material for the kids, barely touches on things people actively riding in traffic need to know and be able to do well.

About riding on the sidewalk: no less than the mayor himself, suggested and encouraged me to ride a bike on the sidewalk if I felt the bike lane on Hall was not comfortable or safe to ride on. And the Beaverton bike cop that instructs bike cops in safe riding, when I related to him, concerns I’ve heard people express about riding in traffic said to me: “Nothing wrong with riding on the sidewalk.”. It’s ok and I believe, legal to ride on the sidewalk in Beaverton. If anyone has ever received a citation for riding on the sidewalk in Beaverton under circumstances you’re thinking of, give us the details and we can hash them over.

I’ve ridden in three or more Bike Beaverton rides too. They’re not closed street courses like the Sunday Parkways rides in Portland are. That may account for the helmet requirement. The Beav ride is on very mellow traffic streets through the Highlands neighborhood. Not as good a turnout as I always wish for. Maybe 200 or so, about half kids under 12. Happy people, no fear. The bike rodeo for kids is fun for them it seems. A certain number of free, basic helmets.

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

Wow… 2 pictures of me on my birthday… Again.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Happy belated! What kind of front wheel is that?

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

Thanks Pete! I don’t remember what kind of wheel was on the front of that particular bike. It was likely a custom built one with 36 spokes instead of the normal 32 spokes with some kind of nearly bombproof hub.

Clark in Vancouver
Guest
Clark in Vancouver

It looks to me like the real message is “Buy a car!”.

rick
Guest
rick

Well, they are adding numerous car lanes and buying private property to shove more cars (NW Bethany Blvd). The bike lanes continue to be standard painted, not protected, even in new round-a-bouts.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

““Don’t be dead right”

I’m really tired of this one. There seems to be a perception on the part of a lot of drivers (and cops) that many or most cyclists are “daredevils” oblivious to how vulnerable we are out there.

WE KNOW. We ALL know. But for this (really) bizarre argument to keep coming up, what’s behind it? I’ve come to recognize this for what it is. A threat. As in: We’re going to keep speeding, driving distractedly and otherwise being dangerous, and if one day we cut you down, we’re going to blame you for it. Which, unfortunately, is all too often how it works.

“It’s your job as the bicyclist to assume a driver won’t look to see you coming.”

Yes, but no more than it’s every car operator’s job as a driver to assume others won’t look to see them coming.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Seems like figuring out how not to be a victim in first place should take precedence over assigning blame when things happen.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Though assigning blame is also important in determining solutions for all of us going forward.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“Don’t be deadly wrong”

soren
Guest
soren

EB, I’m going to use that. Love your contributions here (even when we disagree).

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Here’s the new obstruction in the Highway 26 path:

https://tinyurl.com/m5dop6x

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Glenn
What a bicyclist does or doesn’t do, is nearly inconsequential in terms of their own safety. So you can expect negligible results from educating bicyclists

Completely wrong.

A cyclist’s street skills play an huge role in his or her safety. Same as a motorcyclist’s street skills are vital for his or her survival. Motorcyclists take special hands-on training to get their M license. Cyclists don’t.

Too many here on BP try to tell cyclists “you don’t need any street skills and that there is nothing they can do to be safer as they ride. Too many here spread a passive “victim mentality”. Yet we’re all encouraging others to ride. If you’re going to send new riders out on the streets, you have a responsibility to encourage them to ride safely.

I’ve been riding bicycles on large urban city streets since I was seven. 47 years of riding including 10 years of daily bike commuting since moving to PDX. Zero accidents with cars, other bikes, or peds (that’s lifetime) and only a couple of unpleasant interactions with drivers per year. Others on BP have repeated accidents and constant negative interactions. Why is that?

Its not always all about the drivers. It is sometimes about you. How you ride, how alert you are, how street smart you ride.

Adam
Subscriber

Try riding a 50 lb. bicycle loaded with groceries or a kid.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Weight of bicycle or cargo doesn’t have anything to do with safe, alert, street smart riding.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

If loaded with groceries or a kid you might think of getting a lighter bike to lighten the load.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Or a lighter kid!

Tim
Guest
Tim

I too have been riding for nearly 50 years on all kinds of roads and environments and countries. I have had a few close calls with cars, but my bike injuries have never involved a car. Dogs, sticks, loose gravel and excessive speed, but never cars.

However, it is not cyclists posing the danger, it is drivers that present the danger and need educating. Last year they killed 40,000 in this country and all of these deaths involved improper and illegal use of their vehicle.

soren
Guest
soren

“I’ve been riding bicycles on large urban city streets since I was seven. 47 years of riding including 10 years of daily bike commuting since moving to PDX. Zero accidents with cars, other bikes, or peds (that’s lifetime) and only a couple of unpleasant interactions with drivers per year. Others on BP have repeated accidents and constant negative interactions. Why is that?”

And more gaslighting…

Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost
Member

Excellent article, Naomi. Law enforcement officers need training in the legal elements of bike and pedestrian safety. I recently gave a presentation to ODOT officers on pedestrian law, which is also posted on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2P2Xp_bzKQ.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Way late, but I have been dealing with Beaverton Bike lane obstructions and absence of enforcement of traffic laws intended to protect vulnerable road users. I recently complained to the city that their maintenance trucks were parking in the bike lane. I don’t have a problem with temporarily parking in the lane, but when they leave a pile of debris blocking the lane for over a month it is one of those not my job things.

I invite any Beaverton Officers to grab their bike team bike and come ride with me. We can play count the number of distracted drivers, red light runners, failure to stop for pedestrians, and bike lane drivers.

Greg Spencer
Guest

Excellent article Naomi!

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

If it works out, I think an update to this story would be important, or at least very worthwhile, confirming definitely whether or not, people at the BAC meeting were told by Beaverton Police officer Ben Howard, that people could be cited by ORS 814.420 ‘failure to use a bike lane’, for riding on the sidewalk if a bike lane is nearby.

Reason I make this point, is because at least some people, in part because of the report in this story,some people reading bikeportland (el bicicelro, for one, commenting to a different, recent story.), seem convinced that the officer did advise people attending the meeting, that a citation could be issued to someone riding a bike on the sidewalk when a bike lane was nearby.

Misinformation is bad and confusing to people, regardless of whom or what the source is. I appreciate anyone’s effort in clearing up the question of what the city’s officer said to people in attendance at the meeting.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Gee, wsbob. Regardless of what the direct quote was from any officer conducting any training class, what was said was enough to give the impression that misconceptions about the legality of sidewalk riding exist. It has been shown on other occasions, by discussions and by citations issued, that there is more than a little bit of confusion about how the law applies to cyclists:
– When can a bicyclist leave a bike lane? (i.e., what constitutes a “hazard”, and/or how soon may a bicyclist merge when a bike lane disappears, and/or how soon may a bicyclist prepare for a left turn?)
– When/where may a bicyclist ride on a sidewalk?
– How fast can a bicyclist travel on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk? How about on a MUP?
– When is it legal for a bicyclist not to ride “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway” in the absence of a bike lane?
– What constitutes an “area sufficient for safe turnout”, and when must a bicyclist pull off the “main traveled portion of the roadway” to avoid impeding traffic?

I know you know exactly when/where all of these crystal-clear exceptions and special provisions apply to bicyclists, but the rest of the world sees plenty of ambiguity in the laws as written. I’m surprised you would be so concerned about this particular potential misunderstanding, given your usual “cops have better things to do anyway” stance on these things. You say I worry too much…

See Also:
https://bikeportland.org/2014/04/15/judge-dismisses-medford-mans-protest-over-citation-for-leaving-bike-lane-104622

https://bikeportland.org/2008/11/16/riding-on-ainsworth-leads-to-tickets-for-psu-riders-10819

https://bikeportland.org/2015/06/25/man-wins-court-three-years-police-insurance-company-blamed-collision-145087

https://bikeportland.org/2007/10/29/police-quotes-raise-safety-concerns-5708

https://bikeportland.org/2006/11/07/expert-witness-backfires-on-da-in-bike-lane-case-2497

Alan 1.0
Subscriber
wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I’m hoping Naomi will follow up with a question directly to Beav police officer Ben Howard to confirm what exactly he did or didn’t say regarding use of the sidewalk for biking when a bike lane is available nearby, and whether he did say or imply something to the effect that a citation could be issued if a sidewalk was used for biking rather than a nearby bike lane. I won’t say any more for awhile about what understanding or misunderstanding I think may have occurred at the meeting, until she has a chance to check with the officer.

The first order of importance here, and why I’ve persisted in receiving clarification about what the officer actually said or implied, is to encourage getting the story straight from the get-go. It’s important, because confusion about what he said or didn’t say has a bearing on his credibility from the public’s point of view.

bic….I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to put you on the defensive, because I’m not trying to do that…but it does seem you worry way too much about being cited for not using the road exactly according to the specs of the law while riding your bike. You don’t mention having ever received a citation for a violation while riding. That likely says you’ve never got one despite your worries about other people’s interpretations of the laws. You and a bunch of other people reading this weblog, making a big anxious hoo-hoo about believing you’re not able to use the main lanes of the road because of 814.420, is an example of this.

I get concerned reading on this weblog, when faulty rumor associated with bike use on the roads, more folk legend than not, starts spreading that the law says something it actually doesn’t, and rather than factual reading of and interpretation of the law, word of mouth belief turns into a sort of widespread panic. And then certain people passing the rumor along, start indulging in the adrenaline of fear and paranoia, turning it into animosity towards the police officers trying to be the good public safety oriented servants to the public they’re supposed to be.

So could we please, just find out what the officer actually said about 814.420 to those present at the meeting?

q
Guest
q

There’s some irony is your using over-the-top descriptions like “widespread panic” and your earlier “full-blown hysteria” about others’ non-panicky, non-hysterical reactions.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Really. And why don’t you just go right ahead and explain what you think that irony is. I’m not the one that’s assuming by someone’s word of mouth, that the police said something at the meeting on the question of using the bike lane rather than the sidewalk, that does not sound like something they actually did say.

All you people that on the slightest suggestion, so desperately want to believe that the police said something wrong, or misleading. Amazing. Go ahead and enjoy your ‘irony’. Maybe some imagined phenomena like that is what you’re more interested in than simple straightforward facts passed on from one person to the next in a responsible manner.

q
Guest
q

I’m tempted to say the irony was due to the terms you used being somewhat histrionic, but of course if I said that, I’d have to smash my keyboard over and over with a sledgehammer until it was literally dust.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I was somewhat joking when I referred to some people’s reactions here as ‘widespread panic’, but I believe there’s is some truth to that in terms of how some people respond to rumors rather than facts, about what police say and do. And besides…joking again here…how often do we get to use in a non-dire situation, the phrase ‘widespread panic’?

I’d just like to see people think a bit before they jump to the kind of wild conclusions they have about what was suggested that the police officer at the meeting said, even though it seems he never really said anything of the kind.

Refer if you will, to the following excerpt from Naomi Fast’s answer to some of my questions:

“… Naomi Fast (Washington County Correspondent) May 18, 2017 at 5:49 pm

There are official minutes taken at these meetings, and I didn’t take a direct quote, but when I noted, “If bike lane, no sidewalk riding; 814.420,” that’s what prompted me to ask my what-if question about gravel-filled bike lanes and sidewalk-riding legality. …” naomi fast https://bikeportland.org/2017/05/17/the-impact-of-fear-on-bike-safety-in-car-centric-beaverton-228808#comment-6802685

She doesn’t say what his response to her question was, or even if he responded. But in her story, she wrote:

“…One bit of statute-related information I became aware of is that the police can cite people for riding on a sidewalk if a bike lane is present. …” naomi fast

Doesn’t add up.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“…it does seem you worry way too much about being cited for not using the road exactly according to the specs of the law while riding your bike.”

Let me clarify a bit, here. I don’t personally spend a single second in hand-wringing over where or how I am going to ride in any particular situation, because I already know: I’m going to ride in the way that experience and data have shown is the safest. I truly don’t care if a cop wants to pull me over, and I understand that such enforcement is pretty rare, so I am likely “safe”. However, the laws are badly written and ambiguous, and obviously aimed at minimizing motorist inconvenience rather than maximizing bicyclist safety. My only “worry” is that we keep such ambiguously-worded laws around, rather than fix them so that all road users can be confident in having equal footing from which to operate. I also know that you disagree with my view that the laws are ambiguous, so I will stipulate that right now.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…However, the laws are badly written and ambiguous, and obviously aimed at minimizing motorist inconvenience rather than maximizing bicyclist safety. My only “worry” is that we keep such ambiguously-worded laws around, rather than fix them so that all road users can be confident in having equal footing from which to operate. …” el bic

You’re right that I disagree with your view that a law such as 814.420 is badly written. I think that particular law, is reasonably well written within the limits of what is possible within a concise outline of what it seeks to provide road user with. That is, all road users, though its subject is people that ride bike for travel on the road.

I think it’s by nature, and is desirable that this law be somewhat ambiguous because of the emphasis upon interpretation it must allow for everyone that uses the road, first and foremost being the people that are using bikes on the road for travel.

I do not think it’s true that this law was written as you seem to want to believe, to minimize “…motorist inconvenience…”. Something about your saying that in the way you’ve written it, sounds fishy to me. It sounds like you intend it as an insulting remark, a dig, etc. That’s animosity that really doesn’t aid good relations among road users.

Going up to Salem to search the archives for the story on who worked on 814.420, and what was discussed leading up to its final text, is something I’ve thought about doing, but that’s time I haven’t wanted to spend. That would be one possible way to confirm my thought that the people that put this law together, did so to clarify for all road users, the extensive use of all parts of the road they believed people that bike should be entitled to use, and are entitled to use.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

You have a point; my statement was probably overly-ambiguous. When I criticize “laws” that apply specifically to bikes and their operators, I think of various parts of several laws, not just 814.420, although that one is my least favorite, as you’ve probably noted. I don’t have time for a point-by-point explanation of my criticisms, but let me at least be more clear with the intent of my statement about motorist convenience vs. bicyclist safety. What I really meant was that when it comes to a question of bicyclist “safety”, there are some provisions in The Law that either a) taken at face value require bicyclists to remain in an unsafe position so that they stay “out of the way”, or b) if there is a question of one party giving up some convenience for the sake of safety, inconvenience tends to be put on bicyclists rather than drivers. Now, reasonable minds may differ on the definition of “convenience” and “safety”, but that is the briefest clarification I can offer at this point.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

So the article needs to be updated to say that the cop said that? It already says the cop said that. Nobody’s unsure about it but you, and your “skepticism” is patronizing and irrelevant in the extreme. Irrelevant because what counts is the law, not what was said about what was said about what was said about the law. Patronizing because if you’re saying a presumably grown woman was insufficiently in possession of her faculties to know what was said – so crazy in fact that she just randomly shouted out the thing about gravel in the bike lane after not hearing anything whatsoever about being cited – and then just fabricated the officer’s qualifying comment in response (since of course he never said the thing he later had to qualify) – well that’s a pretty colorful scenario. But your much-desired “direct quote” from such an incompetent/dishonest source wouldn’t be of much use either. Give the author the benefit of the doubt like everyone here does with your dark intentions.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“So the article needs to be updated to say that the cop said that? It already says the cop said that. …” glenn

The problem, is that it does not appear by this story, that the cop at the meeting did say ‘that’, re; the whole idea that a citation could be issued to a person riding on the sidewalk if a bike lane is nearby. Someone listened to the presentation and thinks the cop said something, or meant so without saying, and presents it as a sort of fact… without any quote whatsoever, or follow up question.

I’m not inferring any of the negative things about Naomi Fast that it seems you’re attempting to presume I do. In fact, I look at the effort she has already put into attending the meeting, listening to what people had to say there, coming home and writing up this story, as a positive thing. Thank You Naomi…in case I haven’t said so previously. From my perspective, Fast is a fellow Beaverton resident, someone that rides a bike and is interested in conditions improving for biking in this city. I appreciate that and do believe she made an honest effort to constructively present news about the Beaverton BAC meeting in this bikeportland story.

What I think it’s reasonable to expect from anyone that works to write a good, factual story, is that after the story has been published and people have had a chance to read it and think over what it says, if there’s a question about something someone is reported to have said, the writer will go to that person and say to them: ‘Did you actually say this?’.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

My wife talked to a WashCo Sheriff’s officer in person and complained that people were speeding on Bethany during school arrival time in the mornings. The officer said, “If we ticket everyone going less than 10mph over the speed limit, we’ll be ticketing everybody”. She asked the Sheriff on the phone later to clarify that statement, specifically regarding this 10mph leeway, and the Sheriff said something to the affect of, “I’m sure he never said that. We would never set a number for that.”

q
Guest
q

Fine, but can we please, get you to ask your wife, to verify that that’s what she really told you he said?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Oh gawd that’s funny.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

To humor you, I asked her to recall the conversation. She said it was actually 15mph. Ha!

q
Guest
q

Love it!

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Was this the same sheriff in person and on the phone? Or two different sheriff’s. I’m glad your wife called the sheriff to get confirmation. I think the first sheriff was wrong, or joking. Not everyone drives over the speed limit. Everyone that does drive over the speed limit, doesn’t necessarily drive ten mph over the speed limit. Something within five mph, is what I’d venture to say.

John C. Ratliff
Guest

I have finally read through this article, much of this discussion, and Naomi Fast’s comments too. I would like to preface this comment with the following: I am a past Vice-Chair of the Beaverton Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) and am the current Chair of the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation Department’s Nature and Trails Committee. But what I say here is not an official City of Beaverton response–it is my own response to this article.

First, I would like to say that I do appreciate Naomi’s putting together an article of our BAC meeting. But Officer Ben Howard’s presentation was a small part of that meeting, which also had a detailed discussion of how we are to use social media, and began the planning for the annual Bike Beaverton event. Concerning Bike Beaverton’s requirement for everyone to use a helmet, I am a supporter of that, as this is a family event, and we want to encourage everyone to wear a bicycle helmet when bicycling. Yes, helmets are controversial for promoting cycling for everyone, but in our environment here, crashes happen frequently enough that they will have a positive impact on the outcome of a crash. They also help with visibility if they are brightly colored.

Now, I’m going to get into my notes from the last meeting, which may provide some perspective on Officer Ben Howards presentation. First, he was not presenting to the general public, but instead to us as BAC members. There were a couple of people from the public present, but I don’t think they knew ahead of time that Officer Howard would be presenting.

Officer Howard’s persentation, I noted, was about “Bike/Pedestrian Rules,” and “Accident Prevention.” His opening line to us was about “being dead right.” Why? Fear-mongering? No! He was talking from his perspective of what he has seen on the road as a bicycle officer, and he has seen a lot. On accident prevention, here’s what my notes state:

–Two fingers on the break at all times.
–Stay alert–get to be alert to everything around you.
–Anticipate the mistakes of others.
–Distracted driving–anticipate that everyone is distracted.
–marijuana–very difficult to enforce; Officer Howard cited a study of Navy pilots, and between one hour and twelve hours after smoking a joint, there is no change in disability to pilot an aircraft. Even after 24 hours, they were still impaired. The police seem to be seeing an increase in the number of crashes due to marijuana.
–Prepare to evade or stop.
–Make eye contact, or use a whistle (I use a shout, and have had to do so almost every ride in Beaverton when on the roads).
–Bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as a vehicle, and he emphasized the “responsibilities” part of that in his presentation.

The top five questions he gets about bicycling:
1. Can you ride on sidewalks. Yes (814.410–Oregon) Bicyclists must give the pedestrians the right of way, ride at normal speed, and give an audible warning.
2. If there is a bike lane, can you ride on the sidewalk—No, except for road debris (814.420).
3. Bicyclists must signal 100 feet before executing a turn.
4. Can you ride on a freeway? No.
5. If in a crash (how to prevent a crash or mitigate it):
–Wear a helmet.
–Defensive riding.
–Dangerous right turn by autos is the most common cause of a crash.
–Failure to stop when emerging from an intersection, by both cars and bicyclists.
–Doors

The question came up as to whether a track stop was a stop, and Officer Howard said that if the wheels stop, it’s a stop.

Those are my notes from the meeting, and hopefully will shed some light on the actual presentation, of which the short discussion on sidewalks was a small part. I brought up the fact that some sidewalks, including the NW Bethany Blvd. overpass, are part of the THPRD Trail System. That overpass was upgraded to a Regional Trail, with a 15 foot sidewalk. It also has a bike lane next to it, and I will always use the trail/sidewalk when going over that overpass (it is marked as a “Caution Area” on the Bike Beaverton Map–everyone who bikes in beaverton should have this map). This is allowed.

We went on to discuss the Bike Beaverton planning during this meeting. I look forward to seeing more of you at the next Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting.

John C. Ratliff
Certified Safety Professional

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

John…thanks for taking the time to read the story, the comments, and for sharing your notes from the meeting. I have a question about the following notes you took at the meeting:

“…The top five questions he gets about bicycling:

1. Can you ride on sidewalks. Yes (814.410–Oregon) Bicyclists must give the pedestrians the right of way, ride at normal speed, and give an audible warning.

2. If there is a bike lane, can you ride on the sidewalk—No, except for road debris (814.420). …” john ratliff

A central question that’s been raised in this discussion, is whether someone riding a bike on the sidewalk, can be cited by 814.420 for ‘Failure to ride on a bike lane or bike path’, if a sidewalk is nearby. That’s the conclusion that this story’s writer somehow came away with from the BAC meeting:

“…One bit of statute-related information I became aware of is that the police can cite people for riding on a sidewalk if a bike lane is present. …” naomi fast

That conclusion is directly contrary to what officer Ben Howard wrote to me in reply to my letter emailed to him last Friday and received yesterday morning. Howard wrote that in his presentation, he never said or wrote that a person riding a bike on the sidewalk could be cited for failure to ride on a nearby bike lane. He said to me that 814.420 has nothing to do with riding on sidewalks.

Your notes do not say that Howard said someone riding on the sidewalk could be cited by 814.420 for failure to ride in a bike lane or bike path. I suggest to you, as I’ve suggested to Naomi or anyone else that’s interested in having him clarify what he said, to personally contact him to have him explain his understanding of the laws he offered information about in his presentation to the BAC meeting.

My personal understanding of Oregon’s laws .410 and .420 and thoughts about how they provide for riding on roads, the sidewalk, bike lanes or bike paths, is that people biking are legally entitled to ride on either type of this infrastructure they wish to or feel the need to, with some limitations; yielding to people on foot…not unnecessarily holding up traffic on the main lanes of roads if bike lanes are nearby…and more, but for simplicity’s sake, I’ll leave it at that for now.

Neither of those two laws say a person has to ride on the bike lane instead of the sidewalk, if a bike lane or bike path is present. I don’t know why your notes say that Howard at the meeting, said people can’t ride on the sidewalk if there is a bike lane, but didn’t say he mentioned anything about a citation being issued under those circumstances…but again, I would suggest you definitely ask him personally.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Clearly he said what he said. An email clarification after the fact doesn’t change what he said. Police are people, they are not infallible.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

Nor are they (cops or other members of homo sapiens) necessarily honest. For one example, the fictional story that an email clarification ever took place. But even if it did, it also kinda wouldn’t be worth much, given the strong incentive for humans, when questioned, to deny wrongdoing (or “wrong-saying”).

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I have personally witnessed an officer lie under oath on the stand, when asked to clarify a statement I had seen him make in a previous encounter. He claimed that he never made such a statement in the first place, nor would he ever make such as statement, as such a statement would have been ridiculous and have no basis in truth.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“Clearly he said what he said. …” dan a

And you’re leaving us guessing as to what it is that you think he said.

“…the fictional story that an email clarification ever took place. …” glenn

If you’re referring to my comment, reporting that I emailed Officer Howard about the central question of whether he said at the meeting that a person riding on the sidewalk could be cited by 814.420, ‘failure to ride in a bike lane or bike path’…and received a prompt reply from him: that’s not a fictional story.

I have his response on my computer, and could post the text in a comment here, but I believe that people should personally contact him with their questions, and have them answered by him, rather than people trying to use his answer to my question, to answer theirs.

It’s only from his email response to my question that I know Howard, but he doesn’t seem like someone that would lie about something like this. Other possible reasons that come to my mind, for the confusion that has ensued: maybe he made an off-hand remark that was misunderstood…or perhaps people misheard or misinterpreted what he said, resulting in mistakes in their notes…or maybe he simply made a mistake.

“…I believe now after reading Naomi’s and John’s accounts of the presentation that Officer Howard combined his views of safe riding practices with his views of Oregon traffic laws. …” ray thomas

Contact him and ask him. In his email response to my question, his awareness of the difference in provisions of 814.420 and 814.410, seemed very distinct. He talked a bit specifically about riding violations relative to.410, because that’s the law by which someone can be cited for riding a bike on the sidewalk, if done so unsafely. Not so with .420, which in fact he said, right up front in his response, has nothing to do with riding on the sidewalk.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Instead of an apology to Naomi, which is warranted, you are further entrenching yourself in this misguided attack on the facts. Absurd.

q
Guest
q

Yes. I (like millions of people) use email in business so I have a record of what people say. People contradict themselves over time. Then you dig up the old email that shows how what they’re saying now contradicts what they said earlier.

It’s reality. People don’t always remember what they said before. It’s usually innocent, and they’ll readily agree they’ve been inconsistent when they see the “evidence”. But sometimes–and not that uncommonly–people will knowingly deny they said something, especially if they think there’s no proof otherwise.

There was already a great response (as others have said) explaining what the law says. This whole crusade of trying to show that the author was wrong has backfired, so instead of defending the officer, it’s putting him in the spotlight needlessly.

And what I might dislike most (because I run into it all the time) is the idea that if the “expert” (the police here) disagrees with the public (author) then the expert must be right.

I’m glad so many people here seem in agreement about all this.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

The facts of what Officer Ben Howard said at the BAC meeting about riding on the sidewalk, and whether he said or even implied that someone riding a bike on the sidewalk could be cited for 814.420 ‘Failure to ride in a bike lane or bike path’, are not clear by either Naomi Fast’s story here, or by the notes of John C. Ratliff from the meeting.

Fast and Ratliff have apparently not yet written or spoke to Howard since the meeting and questions about he said have arisen, to confirm or clarify what he actually did say, and to clear up any contradictions either in what he said, or what they understood him to say.

Howard is a representative of the law. He has an obligation to understand the laws he’s assigned to present and explain to the public. Fast is this weblog’s westside reporter-writer. She has an obligation to correctly note what people speaking at meetings, whom she then proceeds to write about have said, and if there’s any question about what they said, check back with that person. Apparently, she has not done so.

We the public, have some right to expect from both of these people, that one way or another, they get their stories straight.

Naomi Fast can check notes with John C. Ratliff, which it seems she probably did, to check on and try to come to some more certain idea about what Howard said at the meeting. Ratliff’s notes didn’t clear up the question of what Howard said at the meeting. His notes just made this issue more murky than it already was.

If these two people, Fast and Ratliff, are feeling some big problem about contacting Officer Howard to clear up questions about what he said, they’re not saying what that problem is…and I wish they would. As I said earlier: Howard was quite prompt in responding to the question I wrote to him about. I have no reason to expect other than he would be at least as prompt in responding to their questions, which I hope they would present to him asap.

q
Guest
q

If I didn’t know you were a minority of one on this issue, if I were a reporter I’d be tempted to never write another article again. And if I were an officer, I’d consider never answering questions in a meeting. I’d refer people who had questions about the law to the City Attorney. And if I were the City Attorney, I might tell them to hire their own attorney if they need clarification about a law.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“If I didn’t know you were a minority of one on this issue, …” q

Do you believe that I’m the only person reading bikeportland, using the road for travel, that values truth in reporting the news? I hope not. I am not a minority of one on this issue of the question of what was presented and what was understood to have been presented at the BAC meeting by Officer Howard.

I, and I’d guess many other people in Beaverton and beyond, want to be able to expect that a reliable account of what was discussed at the meeting, is reported. So far, such an account seems to be very elusive.

q
Guest
q

I’m sure all people reading and commenting here value truth in reporting. But that’s not the same as supporting your can’t-let-it-go, who-said-what approach. I don’t see support for that.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“I’m sure all people reading and commenting here value truth in reporting. But that’s not the same as supporting your can’t-let-it-go, who-said-what approach. I don’t see support for that.
q

Importance of truth in reporting is the same thing whether it’s of the media presented to the broader public, or to the microcosm of bike enthusiast readers of this weblog story. That readers of this weblog story seem to not want to know or care that the info provided by a police officer in as a safety presentation, was incorrectly reported…or checked on with him personally after questions about what he said, were raised in this discussion…is unfortunate.

Some of the people reading this story, in part I suspect because of how what he said at the meeting was summarized, faulted the police officer for being wrong, or for lying…without actually checking with him to see what he said or meant at the meeting was consistent with what they thought they heard him say as reported. That’s a problem that’s not confined to just this comparatively tiny weblog discussion. It’s a problem that extends far beyond, to societal suspicion and distrust of many media, political, and other figures today.

Some journalists know this and realize the importance of getting the story straight, and checking on facts with people that should know, including the original source. Not all journalists do, or can be expected to know of this importance. The remedy for that is patience and persistence, each of which, I have some of.

q
Guest
q

If only we could lock the reporter and police officer in a windowless concrete room with a bare light bulb, a persistently buzzing fly and and the BeeGees Greatest Hits played at Volume 11 on an endless loop until one of them confesses to having made a mistake.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

wsbob, think of it this way. You called me out just above for my statement that laws were “aimed at minimizing motorist inconvenience rather than maximizing bicyclist safety”. That statement of mine gave you, and maybe others, certain ideas about what I meant. In my follow-up, did I re-paste my quote, or did I clarify what I “really meant”? It is highly unlikely that contacting officer Howard [long] after the fact is going to get to the bottom of what is sticking in your craw: the exact quote of what he said at the BAC meeting. What you will get instead is a clarification of what he meant or should have said. The fact remains that what was actually said, whether it is quotable verbatim or not, gave two independent listeners (and likely others) the same idea.

I think you’ve successfully defended the BPD in their actual knowledge of the laws as applied to sidewalk riding in the presence of a bike lane. We understand that outside of a public speaking context, and given the chance to further organize thoughts on the matter, Officer Howard knows exactly what the law says. So rather than hound Ms. Fast and others to somehow force them to do some imagined due-diligence and print some kind of retraction, why don’t we just allow that on this occasion, Ofc. Howard said something that sounded misleading to two different people, but that it was likely an unintentional misstatement that you have gone above and beyond to draw attention to. Mr. Thomas has been generous to offer his professional legal opinion on the laws in question, and everyone has learned something. Be happy!

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

bic…you’re not a police officer, or a reporter-writer, or are you? Neither am I. As such, as more ordinary citizens, our obligation to get stories straight, know and understand the laws, and note with accuracy what people say and don’t say, and to clear up questions and uncertainties, isn’t required to be held up to quite the same standard as it is for people serving the public, which Fast and Howard are doing.

Those two people, and it seems also, John C. Ratliff who I’m not sure, but believe is a BAC member, and who took notes as to what Howard said at the meeting, should as part of their service to the public, get together and clear up the confusion. It’s not a big deal to contact Officer Howard. Fast seems to be putting off doing so, and I’m at a loss to explain why. Ratliff too…why he wouldn’t have contacted Howard, I can’t explain.

It was good to have Ray Thomas spend some time reading this story and the comments, and offer some clarification about 814.420 not prohibiting use of the sidewalk with a bike. Thanks Ray!

Absent a city ordinance prohibiting use of the sidewalk with a bike where a bike lane is nearby, which I don’t think Beaverton has…the very idea that someone could be cited by this law for riding on sidewalks instead of bike lanes in Beaverton if a bike lane is nearby…is a major flaw in thinking. If Howard truly did say as Ratliff wrote in his notes:

“..2. If there is a bike lane, can you ride on the sidewalk—No, except for road debris (814.420)..” john ratliff …”

…I’m very surprised that someone at the meeting didn’t right then and there, catch the contradiction. That’s my thought reading ratliff’s notes numbers 1 and two.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…It is highly unlikely that contacting officer Howard [long] after the fact is going to get to the bottom of what is sticking in your craw: the exact quote of what he said at the BAC meeting. What you will get instead is a clarification of what he meant or should have said. The fact remains that what was actually said, whether it is quotable verbatim or not, gave two independent listeners (and likely others) the same idea. …” el bic

A clarification of what officer Howard said at the meeting, would have been just fine. I’m at a loss to understand why the people at the meeting, didn’t ask for a clarification right then and there. Or lacking that, a follow up phone call or email by Naomi Fast to Howard after this story was posted to this weblog, and questions about exactly what he said were soon raised, two weeks ago.

By the way, I resent your saying that I’m ‘hounding’ Naomi and other people here about getting the story straight on what Howard said at the BAC meeting. As respectfully as I feel I can, I’ve persisted in urging them to clear up uncertainty about what was understood to have been presented by this officer at the meeting.

I feel it’s very important for us, the public to be able to have confidence in and rely on people serving the public, to have the ability to provide us with clear and accurate information about the laws, especially for us reading on a bike weblog, about law relating to using the road with a bike.

People not getting the story straight from reliable sources, and relying instead on word of mouth rumor and misconception, is I think, probably why over the years there has been so much lack of understanding about what 814.420 acknowledges are the rights of people to use the road with a bike.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Wait, so you’re not upset because we haven’t gotten an exact quote or clarification of what Ofc. Howard said at the meeting, you’re persisting in this matter because the source of clarification wasn’t an update obtained by Ms. Fast or Mr. Ratliff? Your aim here is to call for greater journalistic integrity from our guest correspondent, rather than to clarify the law? If so, then I’ve misunderstood the source of your angst. Still, I would, as respectfully as possible, urge you to consider the law clarified, and to consider that a worthy accomplishment. I don’t think further persistent urging of either meeting attendee is going to yield any better results.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

El Biciclero at June 2, 2017 at 12:52 pm

bic…clarification of the law is important of course. That was done rather early on after this story was posted. Also important, is checking to see whether the officer presenting details about 814.420, in his presentation, did so correctly. That has yet to be done.

This touches on both professional integrity and journalistic integrity of the officer and the reporter. The public relies on people from both of those professions, to get the story straight.

Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost
Guest

Thanks to John Ratliff and I have read many of the comments Naomi Fast’s story has provoked which has been interesting and informative. I believe now after reading Naomi’s and John’s accounts of the presentation that Officer Howard combined his views of safe riding practices with his views of Oregon traffic laws. THere are a couple of other legal points I would like to comment upon in addition to my legal analysis that bicycles may ride legally ride on an adjacent sidewalk on streets with a bike lane even if there is no debris or other hazard present in the bike lane. I will admit my bias toward interpreting bicycle legal rights to choose where to ride as expansively as possible.
The two additional points I would like to add after reading John’s comment are that riding on and alongside the freeway is LEGAL except where prohibited by Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR). This article covers it pretty well I think: https://www.tcnf.legal/app/uploads/2016/10/pedal-power.pdf, “We have a right to the freeway, but which freeway”, p. 61, OAR 734-20-0045.
Second, the Oregon vehicle code bicycle speed “Limit” on the sidewalk is that there is none EXCEPT when a bicycle rider intends to assert their legal ROW visavis a motor vehicle and then the bicycle rider as they enter the area of right of way must proceed at no faster than a normal walking speed. See, ORS 814.410,https://www.tcnf.legal/app/uploads/2016/10/pedal-power.pdf. Absent a situation where a bicycle rider is wanting an approaching vehicle to yield there is no speed limit on sidewalks.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Thanks for your notes and insight, John. If you have the opportunity to give feedback, please advise that when recommending a helmet in a public safety course, mention should also be given to proper fitting and fastening of the helmet. The ease with which one can fly off if improperly worn shouldn’t be understated.

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

John C. Ratliff
use a whistle

ORS 815.280(2)(b)

(2) A bicycle is operated in violation of the requirements of this section if any of the following requirements are violated:

(b) A person shall not install or use any siren or whistle upon a bicycle. This paragraph does not apply to bicycles used by police officers.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

“I use a shout, and have had to do so almost every ride in Beaverton when on the roads.”

Where are you riding in Beaverton where you need to shout this frequently? I’m sure it has something to do with my route choice, but I can only recall a few times I’ve ever had to shout at a driver in the Beaverton area, and I’ve logged probably 7000 miles around here.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Officer Howard’s persentation, I noted, was about “Bike/Pedestrian Rules,” and “Accident Prevention.” His opening line to us was about “being dead right.” Why? Fear-mongering? …”John C. Ratliff

To gain some understanding of what he meant in using the phrase ‘being dead right’, I’d have to ask what specific example or examples of bike use on the street he proceeded to relate that opening line to.

An example of my own that comes to mind, which has been often raised in discussions to bikeportland stories, is ‘right of way’ that people biking have using bike lanes, w for through travel next, where the bike lane is directly next to a road main lane that people can use for right turns.

While people driving are obliged by law to yield right of way to through traveling people riding bikes in the bike lane, there’s no guarantee they will yield. This places the person riding in the difficult and dangerous position of having to ascertain whether they’re right to proceed past someone just ahead of them at the intersection and using a motor vehicle, or whether they’d be making a better decision to possibly waive their right of way, staying back and letting the person driving go ahead and turn first.

Referring in theory to a person riding that ascertains it’s ok to proceed past the vehicle ahead in the main lane next to the bike lane, as ‘dead right’, if the outcome turned out be a collision, may sound a bit harsh, and maybe it is. Perhaps a less emotion laden description of such a decision situation would be more constructive. I don’t think I’d refer to use of such a phrase to that type situation, as being ‘fear mongering’. I personally don’t think I’d use the phrase. It can be effective, but it’s a little to jingoistic for frequent use. Use it too much, and it comes to mean nothing, or less than it should.

In fact, to me it seems there’s something peculiar about the use of that phrase where recently, I’ve seen in used most, which is here on bikeportland. I think use of that phrase without care, can for some people, allow it to become a sloppy way to simply refer to ideas they don’t like or approve of. Rather than explaining at least in some detail, what their concerns are. Riding a bike in traffic, is serious business. It’s not like leisurely riding on a recreational bike lane or MUP through parks. It’s important for people riding, I think, to be very right, or sharp in ascertaining with impeccable judgment, the relative safety of traffic situations for them to pass through on a day to day basis.

By the way, I believe the BAC meetings, with perhaps the occasional exception, are open to the public. Any member of the public can attend, and as a guest, have an item placed on the meeting agenda for presentation to people present at the meeting.

John C. Ratliff
Guest

As a retired, thirty-year plus occupational safety professional, I must also comment on one statement by Naomi Fast in her article:
“…And that’s too bad, because one of the most effective safety strategies a city can implement for its active commuters is the “Safety in Numbers” rule…”

Actually, when safety professionals talk about effective safety strategies, we talk about the Hierarchy of Controls. Here is the hierarchy, in order of effectiveness:

Elimination
Substitution
Engineering controls
Administrative controls
Personal protective equipment
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierarchy_of_hazard_controls

Notice that “safety in numbers” would be well down on this list, being at best an administrative control (more people presume more visibility, thus more awareness, etc.). But, aside from elimination and substitution, engineering controls are much more effective. Painting a white line on a roadway is not an engineering control; it is an administrative control in that there is nothing engineering-wise to prevent a driver from crossing that line.

However, an alternative route through less congested areas, using the Bike Beaverton map, works well as an administrative control, minimizing the contact with hazardous roadways. Engineering controls are much better than a white line. They include protected bike paths (where the cars park toward the car lanes, with the bicycle lane inside the parked cars), and bike paths or trails. A better way is by eliminating riding on the roadway and using the THPRD trail system whenever possible.
http://www.thprd.org/parks-and-trails/trails

John
John C. Ratliff, CSP, CIH(2006-2017), MSPH

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

I think the assumption when it comes to consideration for bicyclists on the roadway—especially in less-urban areas like Beaverton/Washington County—is that the first three controls in the hierarchy are off the table except in very limited (and usually less-useful-than-they-could-be) fashion. As evidenced by the attitudes of most authorities, the safety of bicyclists is “on them”, to evade the careless behavior of inattentive, distracted, drunk, pot-high, or otherwise unfit drivers, so what else do we have?

Maybe “effective” in Ms. Fast’s statement should be replaced with “practical and effective”.

Regarding trails, yes, there are some trails, which are fantastic and I use them often (in the Bethany area), but not if I happen to want a direct or more speedy route to anywhere, or need to go somewhere they don’t. Such trails are clearly designed with recreation, rather than transportation, in mind. Also, I wonder if you could exercise any influence to remove the “closed at dusk” rule for THPRD trails, which restricts their use by rule-followers, even if it isn’t really enforced. I still use a short section of trail on my way home from work in the winter, but it’s dark by that time, which puts me in violation of Parks policy many evenings from November to March. Oh, and curb cuts. I don’t take my kids to the “Pirate Park” on our cargo bike because there are no curb cuts at Laidlaw or Brandenberry. There are other sections of the Waterhouse trail—again, as great as it is—that are difficult to traverse on a bike, at least the last time I attempted it. Again, when the first three controls in the hierarchy are only implemented in limited fashion, “administrative” measures—including safety-in-numbers—are all we have left until we get run over and personal protective equipment kicks in.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

The lack of curb cuts on the trails around Bethany make the trails much more difficult to ride with my family. You have to to a sharp right turn onto the sidewalk, ride down until you find an opening on a driveway, cross while doing a u-turn, find another driveway to enter, and then a sharp right back onto the path. And this occurs at about half of the road crossings.

I’m aware that this is a jurisdicitional issue — the county road authority won’t add curb cuts because then they’d have to create full-on midblock crossings, and who has the money for that? We only have money for road widening.

John C. Ratliff
Guest
John C. Ratliff

Two things here. At the Nature and Trails Committee meetings last year and the year before, the policy concerning use of the travails at night has been clarified. Bicyclists will not be cited for using these trails after sunset if they are simply passing through to a different destination. THPRD does patrol these parks at night, and the intent is to keep people from camping in the parks or just off the trails at night. But you will not be detained or cited for riding through the parks. I do that all the time coming home from choir practice at church.

Regarding the curb cuts, the committee has brought getting this accomplished up many times. I believe it is in our trail plan, but I will have to check on that.

John
John C. Ratliff, CSP, CIH(2006-2017), MSPH

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Sincere thanks for the clarification of the nighttime use policy. Such clarifications and adjustments are a good step toward making trails more useful. And again, I definitely don’t want to sound ungrateful for the work that THPRD has done on these trails; I especially use the relatively new Crystal Creek and Stoller Creek sections. The connection across the Bronson Creek wetlands that links Somerset/Charlais with the Spyglass neighborhood was a dream of mine for years before it was done. I’ll just keep hoping curb cuts get done “someday”.

John C. Ratliff
Guest
John C. Ratliff

Dan A
“I use a shout, and have had to do so almost every ride in Beaverton when on the roads.”
Where are you riding in Beaverton where you need to shout this frequently? I’m sure it has something to do with my route choice, but I can only recall a few times I’ve ever had to shout at a driver in the Beaverton area, and I’ve logged probably 7000 miles around here.
Recommended 1

Going south on Bethany Blvd., up the last hill before Hwy 26 overpass, a lady came out of Avondale intent on not stopping going onto Bethany. She was in a SUV, looking directly at me and not seeing me despite my colorful clothing, yellow fenders, and a brightly blinking front light. I was going uphill, not fast, and came to a complete stop almost in line with her left wheel.. when she did not stop, I started yelling “Stop, STOP, STOP!!!” She then stopped, rolled down her window and apologized. I said, “Lady, I even have a blinking front light! You have to look!”

This was a case of “in-attentional blindness,” I believe, whereby someone can look, but not see, a bicyclist. The other place I have had to shout is on Walker Road going towards Cedar Hills Blvd. There are several places where cars have to back out onto Walker Road because of the design of the roadway and their driveways.

John
John C. Ratliff, CSP, CIH(2006-2017), MSPH

John C. Ratliff
Guest
John C. Ratliff

Pete
Thanks for your notes and insight, John. If you have the opportunity to give feedback, please advise that when recommending a helmet in a public safety course, mention should also be given to proper fitting and fastening of the helmet. The ease with which one can fly off if improperly worn shouldn’t be understated.
Recommended 0

Please see our entry in the May 2017 post on the BikeBeaverton Facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/BikeBeaverton/

John

John C. Ratliff
Guest
John C. Ratliff
PeaDub
Subscriber
PeaDub

This to me happens daily on NE 25th in Hillsboro (heading south) with people pulling out of the many driveways into the grid-locked traffic stream. I would swear in a court of law that they are looking right at me and then they just PULL OUT right in front of me. Boggles the mind…

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

You’re not a threat, that’s why. Drivers can easily intimidate other road users who are smaller than they are.

John C. Ratliff
Guest

wsbob
The facts of what Officer Ben Howard said at the BAC meeting about riding on the sidewalk, and whether he said or even implied that someone riding a bike on the sidewalk could be cited for 814.420 ‘Failure to ride in a bike lane or bike path’, are not clear by either Naomi Fast’s story here, or by the notes of John C. Ratliff from the meeting.
Fast and Ratliff have apparently not yet written or spoke to Howard since the meeting and questions about he said have arisen, to confirm or clarify what he actually did say, and to clear up any contradictions either in what he said, or what they understood him to say.
Howard is a representative of the law. He has an obligation to understand the laws he’s assigned to present and explain to the public. Fast is this weblog’s westside reporter-writer. She has an obligation to correctly note what people speaking at meetings, whom she then proceeds to write about have said, and if there’s any question about what they said, check back with that person. Apparently, she has not done so.
We the public, have some right to expect from both of these people, that one way or another, they get their stories straight.
Naomi Fast can check notes with John C. Ratliff, which it seems she probably did, to check on and try to come to some more certain idea about what Howard said at the meeting. Ratliff’s notes didn’t clear up the question of what Howard said at the meeting. His notes just made this issue more murky than it already was.
If these two people, Fast and Ratliff, are feeling some big problem about contacting Officer Howard to clear up questions about what he said, they’re not saying what that problem is…and I wish they would. As I said earlier: Howard was quite prompt in responding to the question I wrote to him about. I have no reason to expect other than he would be at least as prompt in responding to their questions, which I hope they would present to him asap.
Recommended 0

No problem contacting Officer Howard, but I’d prefer to do it next meeting, and not via e-mail. The “problem” you state is that you have two different people taking notes on the same talk, and NOT talking to one another about their notes. I’m not sure why you feel there is a big problem; we talked a lot about the sidewalk bicycling issue, and that was not recorded by either of us. It turns out that the only place I know of (and I talked about this in the meeting) where bicycling on the sidewalk is prohibited is the block around the County Courthouse in downtown Hillsboro (I remembered seeing that in their city ordinance).

Just for your information (not discussed in the meeting) I ride sidewalks a lot when there are obstructions in the bike lane (until recently, on Evergreen Parkway riding east at the intersection with Cornel/ius Pass Road), on the Powerline Trail where it crosses the highways, and whenever I feel it is safer, bike lane on no bike lane. I remember when I was commuting via bicycle one day when it snowed, and I took to the sidewalk to put both distance and a curb between me and the traffic.

John

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

John…it’s an important area of concern to address, it seems to me, that Naomi came away from the BAC meeting and Officer Howard’s presentation, somehow under the impression that he had said someone riding on the sidewalk where a bike lane is present nearby, could by 814.420, receive a citation for riding on the sidewalk instead of the bike lane.

What he said about this law, and what the people at the meeting understood him to say about it, regardless of whether it was just committee members or members of the public listening, is what needs clearing up. That Officer Howard correctly presents the specifics of the law, and that people listening to him clearly understand what he says, is I think, very important.

It’s not good for police offices to give incorrect information on the law, and also not good if the people listening to police officers, misunderstand what is said, especially when the people listening and misunderstanding, go on to pass their misunderstood version of what was said to the broader public. That can turn into misrepresentation of what was said, and of the speaker. That goes around and before long, you probably know how that works: the public starts to feel they can’t trust the word of the speaker.

It’s fine I guess, if you want to wait until the next BAC meeting to go over this with Howard. I think the next meeting is at this point, only two weeks away. Seems to me it would have been much better if he’d been contacted right after questions arose in this discussion about what he said in his presentation related to sidewalk riding and the provisions detailed in 814.420, with his answer reported here. Though later is better than never.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“No problem contacting Officer Howard, but I’d prefer to do it next meeting, and not via e-mail. …” john ratliff

I hope you’re at the meeting and able to take the opportunity to go over with him in person, what was brought up about riding in bike lanes, on sidewalks, and citations that can be issued accordingly for each.

Since I first contacted Howard by email with my original question, or perhaps I should say, account of the questions that have been raised in this discussion here on bikeportland…I sent him a couple more emails requesting some incidental help. All three times, he was prompt or reasonably prompt in responding, and seemingly very willing to try provide clearly understandable answers.

It seems fine to me that people here are more interested in talking about what they perceive as the public’s impression of the safety of riding a bike on the city’s streets, gathered in part by the character of the bike safety presentations the city’s leaders and police offer to the public. …than they may be about being very sure of exactly what the person giving the safety presentation actually said and had in mind.

People do, understandably have their own interests…but first things first. Getting the story straight, should be the first thing to take care of before going on to the things people are more interested in discussing.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

The story is ‘what he said at the meeting’. There are two accounts of what he said at that meeting, and they both indicate that he said no riding on the sidewalk when there is a bike lane, except when there is debris in that bike lane. The fact that you continue to refuse to believe both accounts of what he said is the only thing that is still confusing to everyone here.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I believe Naomi and John’s account that they believe they heard Offc Howard say something about not riding on the sidewalk if a bike lane was nearby, except for sticks on the bike lane, etc, etc.

What I’m not reading in their comments, is anything to the effect that Howard said to those present, that someone riding a bike could be in violation of 814.420 for riding on the sidewalk, and receive a citation by that law for riding on the sidewalk. Also not reading in their comments that they made any effort to contact Offc Howard to be certain what they thought he said, actually was what he said.

John C. Ratliff
Guest

By the way, looking back on that meeting, I want to tell you that Officer Ben Howard was addressing a group of dedicated cyclists, who are the Bicycle Advisory Committee. This was not a talk to the general public, nor was he trying to promote cycling to us (he didn’t need to). He was simply informing us of some of his observations. The cycling on the sidewalk “issue” discussed here was an aside delivered as one of those obscure parts of the bicycling code that not too many people were aware of.

Naomi Fast has been to four of our meetings as a representative of the general public. I (and this is my observation only) don’t feel that this article was representative of the meeting we had, as there really was no controversy in the presentation. We did a lot of clarification, and other things not mentioned came up too, such as wrong-way bicycle riding in bike lanes.

With so much discussion in these meetings, I feel it is unfortunate that this article focused so narrowly on a small part of the whole meeting and even a small part of the actual presentation.

John

q
Guest
q

Keep in mind that this piece wasn’t presented as a meeting summary. The writer was presenting her opinions about what was presented, and about these types of meetings in regard to attracting (or scaring off) new bikers. I thought it was excellent for that, raising important points and generating valuable discussion.

The fact that there was “no controversy in the presentation” underscores the writer’s message. Not only are there shortcomings in these types of presentations, it seems like perhaps she was the only one who notices the shortcomings. But from many comments here, others who don’t attend the meetings agree.

Also, in my opinion she wasn’t at all saying there’s no place for these types of presentations, just that these are not the types that encourage new riding. It would be great if her message results in future presentations (by this group or others) that are aimed more at the general public and new bikers, and done in such a way that the presentations don’t scare off the riders (exactly as she wrote).

John C. Ratliff
Guest

Naomi, first, thank you for your clarifications. We at the Bicycle Advisory Committee do want to promote cycling, and show how it is (IMHO) much safer now than when I first started commuting in 1998 (wow, that’s almost 20 years now here in Beaverton). Roadways have improved, a lot. Anyone remember riding down Walker Road with the wavy pavement in the bike lane?

Officer Ben Howard gave us a bunch of tips, which are great for riders. Our Bike Beaverton annual event is meant to help introduce families to bicycling in Beaverton, and is aimed more toward the new riders too. That is why we were planning the Bike Beaverton event at the last (and all subsequent) meeting until September.

As I stated in the last meeting, I’ve been in the hospital twice for bicycle/car interaction injuries here in Beaverton, but none recently. Toward the end of his presentation, Officer Howard as