Special gravel coverage

The Monday Roundup: Sexism, scooter lane, space helmet, SW Corridor and more

Posted by on October 8th, 2018 at 10:56 am

Here are the most noteworthy stories we’ve come across in the past seven days…

Do our part: A major new climate report paints a dire picture and reminds us that everyone in the transportation universe needs to stop placating auto abusers and start aggressively transforming our system into one that is cleaner and more efficient.

The Dutch example: Saying that, “using a phone is just as dangerous on a bike as it is in a car,” the infrastructure minister for The Netherlands is pushing for a cell phone ban for bicycle riders.

Sexism at the races: A veteran race announcer was fired after women voiced concern over sexist remarks made over the loudspeaker at a major cyclocross race.

How to pass other riders: I hate that I have to share this; but unsafe and rude passing on bikeways continues to be a big problem. This how-to from Bicycle Times has some good tips.

Political reality: As planners and politicians gathered inside and LA’s Mayor made a big speech at the NACTO conference, concerned road users staged a protest outside as a reminder that there’s much more work to be done.

Sign of things to come: A transportation reform group in Kansas City, Missouri has installed a temporary bike and scooter lane on a two-block stretch of their downtown.

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Best e-cargo bikes: In case you’re curious, Wired has a nice breakdown of four excellent electric-assist cargo bike options — ranging from $1,800 to $7,000.

End of an era: The leader of NYC’s venerable nonprofit Transportation Alternatives, Paul Steely White, will leave his post after 14 years to take a job with micromobility startup Bird. White follows other advocacy leaders who’ve taken jobs with similar companies.

Too bad it’s necessary: Reliance Foundry shared an overview of the “human bollard” movement as urgency ratchets up for protected lanes nationwide.

Spacey helmet: A nifty new helmet designed for those reluctant to wear them looks like a baseball cap and was created using aerospace technology.

SW Corridor failings: Michael Andersen puts it simply in his latest piece for Sightline: “Apartments are banned from half the land around stations on Portland’s next rail line. If that won’t change, the line shouldn’t be built.”

Take back the streets: Madrid is the latest city to take significant steps to improve options to driving in its urban core with their Sustainable Mobility Ordinance — a host of law changes that aims to make streets safer and biking and walking more convenient.

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

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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

  • Harald October 8, 2018 at 11:20 am
  • bikeninja October 8, 2018 at 11:25 am

    I am glad you included the new IPCC report in this weeks roundup. I hope this moves our thinking along from the debate that cycling versus driving is just two different choices that are equally valid. If we are to survive on this planet we must move quickly ( next 5 years) away from vehicles that burn fossil fuels, use electricity from fossil fuels, or are imbedded with huge amounts of fossil fueled energy in their manufacture ( I.e. big). Driving an oil burner is no longer a justifiable choice but a kind of addiction that the rest of us must help the addicted get over, like an intervention to get a junkie in to rehab. Lets stop making excuses for auto addiction and move forward with “radical” plans to save our future.

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    • 9watts October 8, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      I’d explicitly invite PBOT to comment on your excellent points. What does PBOT have in their back pocket? What are their contingency plans? How are we together going to move beyond automobility at these accelerated schedules?


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    • Mike Quigley October 8, 2018 at 4:14 pm

      How about starting with don’t elect republicans at all, and be leery of democrats?

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  • Jay Dedd October 8, 2018 at 11:44 am

    Yeah, race announcers.

    This summer at Mt. Tabor, teenage family friend races for the first time. Gets dropped of course, as do others. Solos on as “first straggler” for many laps. Announcer singles him out and drubs him for having his mirror still on his helmet. Adds nothing good to the experience for spectators or riders. Reinforces perception of road racing having an extremely high bar of snootiness for beginners to clear.

    Meanwhile that evening: Juniors field was so small it was combined with Cat 5. Maybe not unrelated.

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    • Matt Meskill October 8, 2018 at 5:51 pm

      I’ve always found Luciano to be pretty positive and encouraging.

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      • JP October 11, 2018 at 12:37 pm

        Luciano is a true gem of a person and an excellent race announcer. We’re very luck to have him as part of the Oregon racing community.

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  • caesar October 8, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    The Dutch move to ban phoning while cycling surprises me given what appears to be the paucity of evidence supporting it. At the same time, using one’s device while riding should be shamed. Riding a bike is it’s own reward; it’s the closest any of us will ever come to experiencing free flight. If you’re so bored riding your bike that you must text or check your twitter feed then you don’t *deserve* to be on a bike! Morally and aesthetically repugnant, yes, but not criminal. Sorry, Holland, you blew this one.

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    • colton October 8, 2018 at 1:19 pm

      From the article: “Several years ago, researchers set up cameras in The Hague and found that 20 percent of bicyclists were using phones, mostly to listen to audio”

      “mostly to listen to audio”

      While I don’t ride with headphones for my own safety, I’m way more worried about the cell phone use that involves people taking their eyes off the road.

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      • B. Carfree October 8, 2018 at 7:09 pm

        I don’t worry about cyclists or pedestrians keeping their eyes on the road (and brain engaged). I do, however, have some concerns about what motorists are doing while behind the wheel. And let’s face it, more people are killed by motorists in America in an average day than have been killed by cyclists in the last hundred years.

        Cyclist on phone, even on an e-bike? No worries. Funny enough, that’s exactly what crossed my mind today as a person on a throttled e-bike rode past me while chatting on his phone. He was no threat to my safety but did bring a smile to my wrinkly old face.

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  • Josh October 8, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    The Bicycle Times piece on passing has a few useful tips, but it failed to mention that sometimes folks ahead of you can’t hear you for reasons other than wearing headphones or being oblivious. Some people are deaf or hard of hearing, and won’t hear any bell or vocalization no matter how polite you are.

    Just remember that as the person passing, the onus is on you to do so safely. If you need to slow to a walking pace to safely pass someone walking or biking ahead of you, then slow to a walking pace. If you can’t pass safely, don’t do it.

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    • Austin October 8, 2018 at 12:44 pm

      “If you need to slow to a walking pace to safely pass someone walking or biking ahead of you, then slow to a walking pace.”


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      • bendite October 8, 2018 at 10:18 pm

        If you slow to walking pace, then you’re not going to pass them.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty October 9, 2018 at 6:13 am

          Some people walk faster than others.

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        • 9watts October 9, 2018 at 7:26 am

          If what you say were true it would be impossible to pass others who are also on foot.

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    • B. Carfree October 8, 2018 at 7:13 pm

      It also missed an obvious point: we’re building our bike paths too narrow. There’s actually no way to pass on many of them without being too close to other users for their comfort. We’ve been building for failure, and achieving it.

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      • maxD October 9, 2018 at 9:22 am

        I totally agree. We build bike stuff that barely meets the needs of today and will absolutely inadequate if we ever begin to meet mode-split goals. PBOT is NOT planning for success. Look at the planned Greeley project (too narrow on the south 1/3 and no safe connection to Interstate), Sullivan’s Crossing (narrow bike lanes and sidewalks) Morrison Bridge (too narrow to be useful if they ever provide a connection to it), etc.

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  • Jillian October 8, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Thanks for posting the article on how to pass. I’ve been surprised since I moved down from Seattle how rarely people in Portland signal in some way that they are passing you. I figured that it happens more in Seattle because the Cascade Bicycle Club up there does trainings on their ride on etiquette, so makes it more of a norm. ?

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    • Anne October 8, 2018 at 4:06 pm

      I rode in 3 STPs and Cascade offers an optional safety class beforehand. I still remember most of the points, such as, when riding as a group, don’t be such a dick to cars and let them out of their driveways.

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    • B. Carfree October 8, 2018 at 7:16 pm

      Different locales have different norms. In Davis, no one ever calls out passing and pedestrians stay all the way to the edge single file if the path isn’t wide enough for easy passing. They even hop over low fences to keep the bike path clear for bikes. In the PNW, bike paths have become de facto side walks since ODOT downgraded them from road status, and it shows in the way pedestrians spread out across them.

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      • maxD October 9, 2018 at 9:24 am

        this sounds like a miserable place to walk!

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    • Dead Salmon October 9, 2018 at 9:01 pm

      “On your left” works.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy October 12, 2018 at 5:36 pm

        Not if they can’t hear you.

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      • Dan A October 12, 2018 at 7:45 pm

        Sorry, but this is a dead giveaway that you don’t pass people very much.

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  • 9watts October 8, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Michael Andersen’s piece is excellent.

    I’ll just note, for the umpteenth time, that our discourse still seems incapable of including any discussion of limits to growth. Until we face that music we will always be playing defense. Why would we choose to do this? Because problematizing growth (in population, consumption, economic activity, car sales) is too hot to touch? Sure, I get that. But is kicking these cans down the road really an alternative? Once we’ve achieved a metro area of 3 million or 4 million people is it going to be easier to talk about the need to stop?

    The IPCC report, referenced above, is just the tip of the iceberg. We need to stop pussyfooting around and trust ourselves to (also) think big.

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    • Chris I October 8, 2018 at 2:52 pm

      Because that discussion is completely out of scope, as it should be.

      And it is a fundamentally selfish position for you to take. You are going to force people to stay where they are? Are you opposed to refugee resettlement as well?

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      • bikeninja October 8, 2018 at 3:49 pm

        Not discussing various forms of limits to growth is fundamentally illogical. We know that we have limited water, arable land, energy, and atmosphere and assuming we can grow forever without even talking about it makes no sense. It is dishonest to try and twist discussions about limits to growth in to some kind of strawman with regards to xenophobia. It is important to frame these discussions properly but if we can’t do it, and do it soon we will suffer the same fate as the yeast cells in a jar of sugar water or the Reindeer on St. Matthew Island.

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        • X October 10, 2018 at 9:20 pm

          We actually have no idea, in the US, what a limited resource might be. We spend billions of dollars to build complicated systems that employ a large amount of energy (and potable water!) to push our excrement through pipes to an industrial facility where it is processed extensively, mixed with toxic chemicals, and eventually dumped into rivers and oceans where the excess fertility destroys ecosystems. It’s nuts. The solids from “sewage treatment” are recovered and used in some cases, but since they are polluted by storm water runoff, industrial waste, household products, illegal dumping, pharmaceuticals, and the treatment process itself they have only limited utility. Limits to growth? Absolutely. But, if we quit doing a bunch of stupid stuff it would push the future out a few years.

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        • Middle of the Road Guy October 12, 2018 at 5:37 pm

          at some point, the resource limitations will force that change anyways.

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          • 9watts October 12, 2018 at 7:47 pm

            Indeed. But would you rather wait until we’ve run out of options?

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty October 8, 2018 at 4:19 pm

        Who’s forcing what on whom? Why does any particular locale have an obligation to accommodate everyone who might want to live there at a price they want to pay? Want to move somewhere cheap? Go for it! Want to live some place overly trendy? Freel free! Just note that those might not be the same place.

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      • 9watts October 8, 2018 at 4:22 pm

        We can have a discussion about this, but you don’t seem interested in engaging the substance, preferring to lob insults.
        The fact that this is a subject which has been hijacked by xenophobes shouldn’t suggest that there is nothing to talk about, nothing to learn, but it does suggest proceeding with caution. Unfortunately many prefer to take your approach and shout down those who would raise tricky subjects. Thanks.

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        • Chris I October 9, 2018 at 8:47 am

          The refugee question is a legitimate one, and one that each of these dismissive responses danced around. There are people who legitimately need to live somewhere else. You advocate for stopping growth in our progressive city. I would argue that Portland is one of the best places for refugees to resettle, because we are generally more accepting, and already have immigrant populations. Again, what do you propose?

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty October 9, 2018 at 8:52 am

            We should probably start by building the larger highways we’ll need to allow a significantly larger population to move around the city.

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            • Chris I October 9, 2018 at 12:15 pm

              I don’t think we should. Not sure why you hold that position.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 9, 2018 at 4:30 pm

                We should be realistic about what a doubling of the population would mean. None of our existing infrastructure could handle it, including the roads.

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          • 9watts October 9, 2018 at 9:11 am

            Curious that you accuse others of dismissive responses. Hm.

            But back to your question—which is perfectly reasonable if you are willing to have a discussion—refugees, migrants, the displaced, all deserve compassion, aid, assistance. In many cases our government and policies are responsible for the violence, inequality, persecution that produces these displaced groups. My point in problematizing the issue of growth is not to vilify or exclude anyone. But what people on the left unfortunately tend to do when this is raised is not to constructively engage the conversation but to pull the xenophobic card as a way to shut down conversation.
            The result is that we (briefly) talk about exclusion, xenophobia, etc. but never get to talk about the reason why limits to growth (a much larger subject) are important to discuss. I am sure this is your purpose, but I am going to lament the bad faith that I believe underlies this rhetorical move.

            “You advocate for stopping growth in our progressive city”

            Not exactly. My point was and is that we/every community would do well to acknowledge that biophysical limits will register sooner or later, and that pretending otherwise does no one any favor. Not us who may sit comfortably, not those who have been living here who keep getting displaced by those (often wealthy folk) moving here in droves, not those who are themselves displaced who come here only to discover that there is no room in the inn, etc. Compassion for the less fortunate is orthogonal to wrestling with limits. If we follow your (and many others’) pretend-limits-don’t-apply-to-us strategy, this won’t do refugees or the homeless or the displaced any service, notwithstanding that doing so may make you feel that you have chosen compassion over exclusion. An honest, far-reaching conversation can reveal ways to tackle and solve both/all of these problems. And it will also clarify what the hard limits are within which we must learn to operate.

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            • John Liu October 9, 2018 at 5:25 pm

              The city’s various initiatives to increase density are designed to produce market rate (read: expensive) housing for high income Portlanders and new Portlanders, at the expense of displacing low income Portlanders by demolishing their old rental houses and gentrifying their neighborhoods. Check out all the $650,000 duplexes and $400,000 rowhouses getting built, tell me how many poor people are buying or renting there.

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    • soren October 8, 2018 at 8:56 pm

      Part of dealing with our climate crisis will be planning for the mass migration to the PNW that will happen as a direct consequence of overshooting 3 degrees Farenheit.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty October 8, 2018 at 9:05 pm

        You mean like how we’ll become a red state when all of Texas crowds in? Since all of our infrastructure will need to be upgraded, if that’s the plan, we need to have some higher-level planning than this. We’ll likely need an upgraded sewer system, schools system, electrical system, road network, etc. You don’t expect all those Texans to bike or take mass transit, do you?

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        • Mike Quigley October 9, 2018 at 6:01 am

          Wouldn’t it be a hoot if all those Texans moved up here just in time for the Big One?

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        • Dan A October 9, 2018 at 7:35 am

          Leave the roads alone and let congestion be self-regulating.

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          • Dan S October 9, 2018 at 1:46 pm

            That’s how I feel about the current housing situation.

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            • Chris I October 11, 2018 at 6:01 am

              Fortunately for the rest of us, we live in a country where property owners have the right to tear down and build more housing.

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  • B. Carfree October 8, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    We have an article on a new helmet, an article on human bollards calling for more mid-block “protection” and an article on a “parking protected” bike and scooter lane in this week’s crop of 12 links. What do those all have in common? The idea that riding a bike is inherently dangerous and is much more dangerous than using a car. Predictable outcome: we’re having trouble getting people to ride bikes.

    I’m a coward, like pretty much everyone else. I don’t ride because I’m brave, I ride because it’s fun and healthy. Sure, I deal with bad drivers multiple times each day, but a wee bit of knowledge makes those encounters non-issues, and almost anyone can learn what needs knowing to ride with joy, but few will if they are convinced that riding around cars is too dangerous for mere mortals.

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  • Johnny Bye Carter October 8, 2018 at 10:48 pm

    How to pass other riders: No, I will not sound my bell to pass other riders. Just as drivers will not honk to pass other drivers. It’s bad enough that I have to ring my bell constantly over the Hawthorne as I pass all the pedestrians. I’m not contributing any more to urban noise. When you’re out in public you expect other people to be near you. All path users already know that runners and fast cyclists are prone to pass them. They don’t need your noise.

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    • Johnny Bye Carter October 8, 2018 at 10:49 pm

      Also, that article is over a year old.

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    • Daniel October 8, 2018 at 11:24 pm

      I totally agree with this statement. People can write as many pointless op-eds regarding what they’re sure is the “correct” etiquette for passing on a bike as they want, I’m still not ringing a bell. Noisemakers are for announcing danger or expressing anger, somehow every other mode of transportation has figured out how to pass others without bleeping at them while doing so. Why are bikes that much different?

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      • Dan A October 9, 2018 at 7:33 am

        I’d like to see an article on the correct way to share a sidewalk when walking. Last time I crossed the Steel bridge on the upper deck, I had to get around 3 people walking down the center of the narrow sidewalk, all wearing headphones. I rang my bell repeatedly, and still had to nudge my way past all of them. The last guy I passed yelled out “bike path!” at me after I went by. Um, how about using your headphones at a reasonable volume so that you can hear others around you.

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        • 9watts October 9, 2018 at 7:39 am

          Not an article, but I grew up with nursery rhymes.
          This was always one I liked:

          Two’s a couple, three’s a crowd, four on the sidewalk is never allowed

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        • soren October 9, 2018 at 9:25 am

          I’m with the person walking. There is nothing wrong with having to cycle slowly or even dismount and walk your bike on a pedestrian facility.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty October 9, 2018 at 9:52 am

            Indeed. Riding on a sidewalk or other pedestrian facility should be discouraged.

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            • Dan A October 9, 2018 at 10:53 am

              Do you take the lane up the Steel bridge? I’ve heard that some folks do, but I’ve never seen it.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 9, 2018 at 4:29 pm

                I don’t ride across the top enough to say what I do. However, I will not ride on the steel grate. Did it once, won’t repeat the experience.

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              • Dan A October 9, 2018 at 9:40 pm

                Exactly. I discourage sidewalk riding too, but there are specific places where I do recommend it, and westward over the top of the Steel bridge is one of those places.

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          • Dan A October 9, 2018 at 10:51 am

            I pass people at a walking pace and am as courteous as I can possibly be. The sidewalk is the only safe westward option on the Steel bridge that connects Multnomah to Glisan.

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    • Al October 9, 2018 at 5:10 am

      That may be true of busy trails where riders and pedestrians commingle on a regular basis but when you’re out on a fairly empty trail, pedestrians tend to act like the world is an empty place. I’ve had people stretch their arms into me as I pass. I’ve had joggers u-turn right into me as I pass. I’ve startled pedestrians passing even though I try to give as much room as possible. People walking their dogs allow them to jut out. Sometimes, I can’t even tell there’s a tiny dog on a zippy leash.

      Yes, downtown, don’t ring a bell when passing every pedestrian but there are other situations where its best to alert them to your presence.

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      • q October 9, 2018 at 9:53 pm

        Thank you for pointing that out about less busy paths. I walk my dog every day on the Willamette Greenway Trail. I try to be aware of people passing me from behind on bikes. But many times of the day and year, I can walk for half an hour without anyone at all biking past. So the reality is I’m less vigilant and more likely to walk on the middle of the trail than times when there’s more bike traffic, and I don’t feel I’m being negligent or rude for that. Also, with wind or leaves, it’s hard to hear bikes coming. I appreciate “On your left” or a bell ring.

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    • John Liu October 9, 2018 at 6:09 am

      If you do ring a bell when overtaking pedestrians, do it early – while still a considerable distance away. Some pedestrians react to a bell by swerving, which can cause them to step into your path. If you’re right on top of the pedestrian, that becomes dangerous for both of you. If you’re twenty feet away, you and they have time for avoidance. This assumes you’re not riding too fast.

      I usually don’t ring a bell. There’s usually enough room to pass silently with sufficient space, and at a slow enough speed, that the pedestrian doesn’t feel like they’ve just been buzzed. If there isn’t enough room, or if the pedestrian is walking erratically, then I’ll ring a bell. Or call out.

      By the way, the most effective audible warning seems to come from a horn, specifically the cheap trumpet horns with rubber squeeze bulb ends that you see on little kids bikes and bring wielded by clowns. Too bad they look so clunky on a bike.

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    • Austin October 9, 2018 at 11:38 am

      I don’t know, man… it just seems like common courtesy. I’d much rather hear a little bit of a bell than have someone zoom by me unexpectedly.

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    • idlebytes October 9, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      Ya I gotta say I’m with this camp of riders. Generally I try to do whatever is safest and I find on busy shared paths like Hawthorne a bell tends to confuse pedestrians and other riders. They react like I’m ringing it to get them to change where they are as opposed to just letting them know I’m passing them. I’m sure it annoys some people that I don’t ring it but there’s far too many people that step in front of me or do something else ridiculous to ring it just for passing.

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    • Jordan October 9, 2018 at 2:17 pm

      I’ve always been partial to saying “on your left” it’s self explanatory and quick. Most people reply with a friendly thank you. The reason why cars don’t honk to pass is because they have mirrors for viewing objects around them (if they use the mirrors or not is a different conversation). It’s to the benefit of all parties that you announce your presence before passing. I will gladly say three words to prevent a potential accident.

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      • GlowBoy October 10, 2018 at 9:18 am

        I agree, bells only work when used a good distance away. But even then, many pedestrians interpret the bell as “get out of my way” instead of “be aware I’m coming up behind you”. I think that may be even more true here in MN, where cyclists get more respect than in Portland, but pedestrians get far less. People on foot are used to being the bottom of the totem pole here, and will obediently get ALL THE WAY off a 12′ bike path if you ding a bell behind them.

        Also, bells tend to be pretty high-pitched, and most people with hearing loss lose the high frequencies first. So no matter how early you ring your bell, many people (especially a lot of older people) won’t hear it until you’re really close, and then get startled when they finally do.

        Clearly annunciating “Passing on your left!” seems to work best for me. It tends to startle people less, and tends less to make them act like they need to “get out of my way,” which they don’t. I include the word “passing” because it makes things more clear. Sometimes people only hear the “left” part and move to the left, into the path of the passing cyclist.

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        • GlowBoy October 10, 2018 at 9:23 am

          Also, I’d concur that my use of any audible warning depends on the context. Here in MN we have hundreds of miles of shared pedestrian/bike paths all across the metro area, so unlike in Portland where it’s just the bridges and the Springwater, we’re maybe a little bit more experienced at sharing space with each other (except for the bell response I described above).

          I don’t use my bell often, but if I’m in a noisy environment or if there are several people walking abreast on the path, for example, I will use it. If I’m on a quiet suburban MUP that doesn’t have multiple bikes zipping along every minute, i will use the “passing on your left” method. If I’m on a wide MUP where bike traffic can be heavy and pedestrians are used to being passed, and I can pass without even coming within 5 feet, I may not make an audible warning at all.

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  • Carrie October 9, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    At last year’s Sea Otter Classic my colleague and I were appalled at the sexist language used by one of the announcers before the road race. It was demeaning and made us feel very much not part of ‘the club’, even though we both are and should be.

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  • q October 9, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    Speaking of passing etiquette, when I’m walking on paths, I appreciate people on bikes who are riding towards me and passing past me who do not blind me with arrays of blinding lights, especially the retina-searing strobes.

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