What’s behind city’s confidence in ‘crossbikes’? This research

Taken from Frank Boateng Appiah’s paper.

What Portland’s crossbike markings lack in legal authority, they make up for in research.

After recently hearing a positive comment from PBOT Bike Coordinator Roger Geller about the effectiveness of these painted crosswalks for bike users, I heard about a study that backs it up. Now that I’ve tracked down that study, Geller’s confidence is much more understandable.

The study comes in the form of new research titled, Improving Safe Bicycle-Crossings at Unsignalized Intersections through Pavement Markings: Analysis of the City of Portland Innovative Strategy by Frank Boateng Appiah. Appiah completed the research as part of his work toward a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Portland State University. Among the thesis committee members who reviewed the work was noted bicycle researcher Christopher M. Monsere, who’s worked with PBOT on many bikeway innovations in the past including bike boxes and blue signal detection lights.

For this study on crossbikes, Appiah analyzed before and after video data of three intersections: NE Going at 15th, SE Salmon at 20th, and NE Holman at 33rd. At each location, his research showed significant improvement in the rate of car users who yielded to people on bikes. In addition to increased yielding rates, he also tracked the amount of times a bicycle user had to wait for cars to clear the intersection. (Waiting is a key metric, because research shows when people are forced to wait too long, they are more likely to break the law or make a bad decision.)

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Here’s what he found on yielding behaviors:

At NE Going and 15th, before the crossbike was striped drivers would yield at a rate of 48% and 61% (from the near and far side of the intersection, respectively). After the crossbike markings went in, those rates shot up to 91% and 95%. At NE Holman and 33rd driver yielding went up from 38% and 36% to 77% and 82% after the treatment was installed. At SE Salmon and SE 20th drivers only yielded 21% and 11% of the time before the crossbike went in, rates that doubled for the near side and tripled for the far side afterwards.

When it came to how many bicycle users had to wait for drivers to clear the intersection, the crossbike markings also had a big impact: At Going and 15th, bicyclists on the near-side of the intersection would wait for cars 52% of the time. That was slashed to just 9%. At SE Salmon and 20th, the rate of bicycle users who had to wait for cars was reduced from 79% to 60% on the near side and 89% to 67% on the far side.

Another bonus of the bike markings Appiah noticed was that they helped orient riders into a safer spot to wait that gave them a more efficient path to cross.

While some Portlanders remain skeptical of these markings because they have no legal authority (unlike the crosswalks they’re painted next to), this research will likely make crossbikes even more popular with PBOT, who clearly sees them as a relatively quick and cheap way to improve the bike network.

Delve deeper into the research by downloading it here.

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

Love the “crossbikes”. How do we get them to have legal standing?

Clem Fandango
Clem Fandango
1 year ago

I don’t doubt the research, it matches my experience with many of these intersections, I just think its due to the fact that drivers don’t know that cross bikes are not legally binding. Is pretending to make things look illegal that aren’t how we’re managing the city now?

Psmith
Psmith
1 year ago
Reply to  Clem Fandango

Why does it matter? If drivers think they legally have to yield, and so they are yielding more, that seems like an improvement for bicycling.

brad eidelson
brad eidelson
1 year ago
Reply to  Clem Fandango

Drivers (and police) have been “pretending” that legally-designated crosswalks do not exist in every intersection in the state for years now, contrary to law. They’ve been “pretending” that speed limits are merely advisory, not mandatory. So yeah, that’s how we’re managing the city now.

Todd/Boulanger
1 year ago

Jonathan – you may want to refine or add a bit of detail per your lead in text “What Portland’s crossbike markings lack in legal authority…”, as I understand the point you are making (state case law may not yet know how to judge these crossings when a civil case is done)…but some readers may infer that PBoT’s use is “illegal”.
PS. Thanks for adding the report link as I could not find it otherwise.

 
 
1 year ago

I’ll be frank: while this research article is interesting, shame on PBOT for saying that this means crossbikes are working. This research says nothing about safety; rather, it talks about yielding rates. Unlike the case at crosswalks, where drivers must yield by law, a larger percent of drivers yielding at crossbikes does not make these crossings safer, and instead can easily cause the exact opposite effect of decreasing safety.

If a driver in one direction yields (despite having the right of way) and the cyclists starts across, but the driver in the other direction fails to yield (as is allowed by law), then a collision will occur. In that case, these crossbikes actually would decrease safety and result in more collisions. And if a novice cyclist does not know the law and think that these crossbikes give them the right of way, then they will be in for a rough time when they’re both injured and at fault for the inevitable collision that will happen. In contrast, without crossbikes, the novice cyclist will not falsely believe that they have the right of way.

Either make it mandatory for drivers to yield at these (like I’d prefer), stop using them entirely, or signalize all crossbike intersections. This middle ground is horrible for the safety of both novice cyclists, those coming from the vast majority of cities that do not use crossbikes, or those who just don’t know that crossbikes do not give the right of way.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago

I have three problems with this: (1) the way the X-bikes are installed they are often not in the proper position on the roadway for cyclists (IMO too far right), (2) usually the cyclist has a stop sign and the motorist doesn’t (e.g. NE 15th and Tillamook; I’d rather have the driver go through the intersection and pass behind them, often motorists who stop actually have the right of way and it’s confusing! Plus, larger vehicles can block the view of the motorists behind them, this problem only gets worse on multi-lane roads), and (3) I’m not sure the X-bikes have any legal standing (if you know of a case where they’ve been tested in court and prevailed by all means speak up!).

So I would be really cautious about assuming you have the right of way. My personal MO is that if I already have my foot down I usually wave the motorist through, but if I’m still on the pedals I might take advantage of the situation. Plus I don’t always ‘follow directions’ if I don’t like the road positioning of the X-bike. And if you’re actually facing congested bumper to bumper traffic on the cross street it becomes pretty easy to slip through as long as you’re willing to assert yourself a little bit.

Scott Kocher
1 year ago

This research may be enough to go to the legislature and get crossbikes legal standing. An addition to the vehicle code directing drivers to treat bikes in a crossbike the same as a ped (or bike) in a crosswalk would be simplest. Maybe with the minimum of tweaking to account for the differences. I vote The Street Trust go do that ;). The other possible piece would be getting the state traffic engineer (presumably via the Traffic Control Devices Committee) to include them in the Oregon Supplement to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. That might boost adoption statewide. But it seems like a lower priority than getting driver duties defined in the ORS since they’re already on streets. So many things to do. Who is making a list?

Another Engineer
Another Engineer
1 year ago
Reply to  Scott Kocher

What would the legal standing be though? Are cyclists required to stop before proceeding – how does this get complicated with the Idaho stop? Is there safe stopping sight distance for a cyclist? Seems a lot simpler to accept that the intent is to give cyclists the right of way here and use standard engineering tools like flipping the stop signs. If cut through is a problem install a diverter.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 year ago

Are cyclists required to stop before proceeding – how does this get complicated with the Idaho stop?

It would be no different than a pedestrian approaching a crosswalk. They’re not required to stop at a stop sign but they are required to yield to other vehicles already in the intersection or so close to the intersection that entering it would create an immediate hazard. How the Idaho stop law is currently written would be sufficient to cover this.

Fails to yield the right of way to traffic lawfully within the intersection or approaching so close as to constitute an immediate hazard;

https://oregon.public.law/statutes/ors_814.414

Another Engineer
Another Engineer
1 year ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I may be misunderstanding you, I am generally curious if there is a fix to the Right of Way rules for crossbikes.

Using the Idaho stop language would be insufficient because it assumes the cyclist doesn’t have the Right of Way but you’re implying it should work like a crosswalk where the cyclist would get the Right of Way once they’ve indicated they want to cross. If you combined these rules then the cyclists Right of Way rules assuming they face a stop sign and conflicting traffic does not would be yield to vehicles until you’ve entered the intersection at which point vehicles yield to you which is not safe.

If it were written in a way that cyclists never received Right of Way due to the crossbike then the rules would be no different than if the crossbike were not present.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 year ago

The only requirement that the stop sign has on the cyclist is that they shouldn’t enter the intersection if cross traffic is already in it or close to it. If a driver is stopped before an intersection the stop sign has no application to the cyclist. No one is in the intersection and the cyclist entering the intersection wouldn’t create an immediate hazard because the driver is stopped.

All you would need to do is require drivers to give the right of way to cyclists waiting at a cross-bike.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago

Here’s the question I’d like to hear PBOT answer: A person riding their bike proceeds across the intersection in a crossbike. A driver hits and badly injures them. The driver claims they had the right of way because the crossbike is meaningless legally. The person hit says they were in a crossbike so they had the right of way. The person hit turns to PBOT and says, “Tell them that I had the right of way”. What does PBOT say?

Dan
Dan
1 year ago
Reply to  qqq

PBOT says “nope, you’re out of luck” and the cyclist is on the hook for their own medical bills, repairs to the car, and the driver’s therapy. It’s a bad approach that only works because no one knows what they’re supposed to do…though I’ve observed an alarmingly large number of cyclists seem to believe they have the right of way at crossbikes.

 
 
1 year ago

Why would the bike rider have the right of way? Crossbikes do not give the right of way, ever. And that’s why they’re so horrible: they give the illusion of safety while providing none. In the scenario qqq provides, the cyclist would be found 100% at fault and the driver would frankly be an innocent victim who has to live with the fact that they seriously injured someone. All due to PBOT’s negligence.

Another Engineer
Another Engineer
1 year ago

They violate user expectancy, a key to safety on roadways, by having an unclear meaning and are therefore unsafe. The stop signs should just be flipped if the intent is to get all drivers to yield to cyclists.

soren
soren
1 year ago

As a pedestrian, if I’m crossing in an unmarked/marked crosswalk the presence or absence of a stop sign is irrelevant. Vulnerable traffic on foot and on wheels should have similar legal rights, ATMO.

Dan
Dan
1 year ago

Yes, or maybe add a “Yield to cyclists” sign.

 
 
1 year ago

Except we’re not throwing away those “benefits”; we’re arguing that they are completely nonexistant. Causing unexpected and unpredictable behavior from people (cyclists crossing when they don’t have the right of way, drivers yielding when they do have the right of way) is not a benefit, and it’s going to get vulnerable road uses seriously injured or killed.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago

I agree that if someone is already biking across the intersection, the driver must yield if they have time to. The situation I’m thinking of is (as others have also said) where the person biking gets the impression they have the right-of-way, and they proceed into the path of a driver who doesn’t have time to stop, and may even have seen the person biking towards the intersection but didn’t think they were going to continue right into their path.

I’m not someone “throwing away the benefits that crossbikes have” because I’m in favor of them. I’m just saying that PBOT is taking a gamble–or more accurately opening the door for people biking to unknowingly take the gamble–when they’re rolling these out when they have no legal standing. I think we all agree they SHOULD have legal standing, and I’m not even certain they shouldn’t have been rolled out without that anyway.

I’m also talking about a legal situation, where as everyone knows, what gets ruled may not match what people–even judges–may think is the correct moral outcome.

If a driver hits a bike rider, and the rider asks the driver to pay a bill that may be a couple hundred thousand dollars, and there’s a crossbike involved, an insurance company lawyer has the opportunity to say the bike rider claimed he had the right of way when he did not–even if the lawyer doesn’t think the crossbike really had any relevance. That could really hurt the bike rider’s claim.

Nobody would have thought a judge would rule that bike lanes stop at every intersection, either, but at least one did. And this case is a lot clearer against the bike rider. That’s why I’m imagining PBOT in court admitting that the injured bike rider didn’t have the right of way.

PBOT often takes this same approach with other bike infrastructure. They’ll put in a stretch of a bike lane with a clearly dangerous temporary terminus, and open it up gambling that no bike rider will get hurt before they finish it maybe years later. They’ll put in a crossing (at SW Bertha and BHH) that relies on a signal for safety, and open it up without it, gambling that nobody biking will get hurt in the meantime.

I realize some of this is just reality, and there can be benefits of doing things incompletely, but at the same time PBOT is making bike riders unwitting gamblers, and I don’t see PBOT doing that nearly as regularly with drivers.

Steve C
Steve C
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

I believe bikes do have the right-of-way at the hawthorn crossing. It had a sign at the junction saying “yield to bikes” as far back as street view goes (2007).

The markings are indicating an extension of a bike lane across the offramp. This is similar to the markings at the 53rd and Glisan intersection, where PBOT said it was not a crossbike. Crossbikes, though they look very similar to bikelane markings, are fundamentally different both legally and in implementation.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/SE+Hawthorne+Blvd+%26+SE+Grand+Ave,+Portland,+OR+97214/@45.5122497,-122.6625307,3a,19.2y,153.28h,90.28t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1scs-cR5iQG2kJahdI8aUD2g!2e0!5s20070801T000000!7i3328!8i1664!4m5!3m4!1s0x54950a0b289d6345:0xa646a8f5d28599ce!8m2!3d45.5122486!4d-122.6607803

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve C

Crossbikes, though they look very similar to bikelane markings, are fundamentally different both legally and in implementation.

Hashed white lines flanking blue paint is a fundamentally different color from hashed lines flanking green paint. The blue paint had no more legal recognition than the green paint.

PS: Some bike portland commentators also hated the blue paint.

Steve C
Steve C
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

I have no idea what you’re getting at.

I’m saying the example you used was of an intersection where this marking type was present and bikes in fact had the right of way (they may still, but it is less clear). Is this a bike land extending across a merging zone or a crossbike? I have no idea now.

I rode this every workday and it had solid, then dashed, striped green with white dashes for many years. I knew from the multiple signs saying “yield to bikes” that I had the priority at the intersection. So it’s not a leap at all to think that people would make this association, between the bike lane treatment across an intersection and right-of-way.

So when you say “I suspect that almost no one who bikes believes these hatched markings confer right of way.” I’m saying I believed this was the case, until seeing all the crossbikes roll out, and reading about them on this site. And I suspect there are more people who had experience with striped green bike lane merge sections who also came to see them as conferring priority but who do not read this site.

Here’s another location with dashed white around bike lane where the cyclist clearly have priority (as indicated by the sign).

https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5287579,-122.6535526,3a,75y,358.78h,78.12t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1s6S99wNvme6iNvJ1b2ghytw!2e0!5s20190601T000000!7i16384!8i8192

I utilize road markings to judge what is safe to do. It’s not everything, but I expect there to be a logic and constancy behind it. Change is fine, and we need it in respect to bike infrastructure. But we still need to work from the same language of signs, markings, and symbology to keep everyone on the road predictable and safe.

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve C

I see no material difference between a tiny white sign with barely visible imagery and multiple very large bike/ped warning signs. That being said it is comical that you are using the presence or absence of a sign to criticize a crossbike. Based on your own comments you had no issue with the earlier form of crossbike and should, therefore, support the current iteration with marginally improved signage.

PS: I also rode this route just about every day (6-7 days a week) for decades and the progression was solid blue paint with white hash marks to solid green paint with white has marks to green stripes with white hatch marks.

Steve C
Steve C
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

A ped / bike warning sign is ambiguous as to who has the legal precedence at the crossing, especially for bikes as they are defined as vehicles by law. The two “yield to bikes” signs clearly conferred to the bikes and cars that bikes had priority. I think this reinforced the correct priority when a turning lane is merging across a bike lane. That is different from a “cross bike” situation where the bike lane is subservient to the right of way of the traffic on the road it is crossing. The use of the same or similar road markings breeds a dangerous confusion for cyclist and drivers alike.

As others have said, I don’t like ambiguity in road treatments. The rules should be clear.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago

A cyclist is a vehicle and not a pedestrian (unless they are actually walking their bike), so they don’t have the right of way just because they are crossing at an unsignalized intersection, Jonathan. The traffic control that counts is that the cyclist often has a stop sign and must yield to cross traffic, regardless of the presence of the ‘crossbike’ feature.

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
1 year ago
Reply to  FDUP

I understood that a bicyclist in a legal crosswalk (marked or unmarked), and who is going at the speed of a walker, has the same right of way that a pedestrian does. You don’t have to dismount to obtain this legal status. But you have to be in the crosswalk (however defined at that intersection), and NOT in the crossbike. So if it’s busy, I jog way over to the crosswalk, to be able to legally stop traffic.

Steven Smith
Steven Smith
1 year ago

You guys are funny.

cmh89
cmh89
1 year ago

I’m now even more confused. Taking a look at these intersections in Google Maps, the bikecrossing is aligned with stop signs. For example, traffic on NE Holman has stop signs and traffic on NE 33d does not. Motorist and cyclists using NE 33rd shouldn’t yield to traffic on NE Holman. NE 33rd traffic should ONLY yield to pedestrians crossing NE 33rd.

So PBOT is stoked that these bikecrossings are encouraging motorists to yield ROW when they shouldn’t be? What in the hell are these things. JM- could you get someone from PBOT to write an article talking about what bikecrossings are? They don’t give the ROW so why should traffic yield to them?

It’s at best going to create to confusion because some motorists believe you need to yield, and others know that you don’t. I don’t yield to bikes at bikecrossings when driving because I’m not supposed to and predictability on the road means safety.

cmh89
cmh89
1 year ago

I guess I don’t see the world like you do as some sort of binary where everyone should robotically follow laws

That’s exactly what we should be doing. A safe transportation system is when everyone is clear on rules and responsibilities and then we follow them. I personally don’t want motorist choosing which rules make sense and which do not.

Having one lane of traffic stop because the motorist wants to yield is a great way to get the cyclist smooshed by the other side because they didn’t (and didn’t need to) stop.

For example, if someone is trying to cross a big road midblock and I see them, I will absolutely stop my car and wave them across in hopes they get out of traffic sooner.

Right, you are navigating someone else being dumb and unpredictable. Stopping your car and not hitting them is the correct action. It’s the same thing as when I slow down my bike because I can tell that a motorist is about to turn across the bike lane with me in it. Sure, legally I have ROW but Im choosing to mitigate the damage of their bad decision.

Your example and my example are entirely different than when PBOT puts markings down to intentionally confuse both cyclists and motorists. They aren’t behaving better, they are behaving worse because they aren’t following traffic laws. Worse, if this is the intended outcome, that means PBOT is relying on enough motorists NOT UNDERSTANDING what crossbikes are. That’s bananas.

It’s wild that you endorse grossly dangerous and stupid ideas like this and then pew pew flashing beacons. It’s only a matter of time till a cyclist dies in a crossbike because they thought they had ROW and the oncoming traffic didn’t stop.

J_R
J_R
1 year ago

For example, if someone is trying to cross a big road midblock and I see them, I will absolutely stop my car and wave them across in hopes they get out of traffic sooner.

You are absolutely putting those people at extra risk by your actions. You are encouraging them to believe that all motorists are stopping for them. If it’s just a single lane in each direction, I may stop for a pedestrian performing a mid-block crossing as you suggest too, but I will never do that when there is any possibility of another car traveling in my direction will pass me when I’ve stopped.

Many years ago, my brother pulled out into traffic from a driveway when the car in the curb lane stopped for him. He was a young driver and thought, incorrectly, that the guy in the next lane would stop, too. It was an expensive mistake, but fortunately it was only the car that was totaled; there were no injuries.

PS
PS
1 year ago

Given how insane it is to stop mid block to let someone into traffic, I would be interested to know what is and example of something predictable with driving habits that is often totally dysfunctional and dangerous?

JP
JP
1 year ago

This is a tremendously dismissive comment. Predictability is incredibly important in navigating the road safely. We have traffic laws not because we want to turn people into automatons who “robotically follow laws.” We have them because we know that when engaging in potentially dangerous collective behaviors like driving, everyone is safer when they can count on their fellow participants to behave in the same way. It’s pretty similar to the way a road racing peloton works. It doesn’t feel great, but if someone crashes in a road race, other racers will keep riding. Why? Because having a large group of people grouped tightly together and moving at high speed make decisions based on their individual conscience/interpretation of the situation is a recipe for more crashes. It’s safer for everyone, including the person who crashed, if the group keeps moving.

As for your example of waving a vulnerable road user across the road when they don’t have the right of way, while I admire your instincts there, what you’re actually doing is writing a check you don’t know if you can cash. You can’t control the traffic in the other lanes around you or what the drivers of the vehicles behind you do, but you’ve offered assurances (albeit in a small way that any VRU should look at with skepticism) that they can cross, when you don’t know that they can. What if you stop for the person, and the driver behind you can’t see the pedestrian and pulls into the other lane to pass you, hitting them? They don’t need to be a raging maniac; they just need to be a person who misread a situation on the road, and now they’ve hit a vulnerable road user.

Personally, I ignore gestures like the one you’re describing when I’m out riding or walking. I appreciate the intent, but they most often end up slowing me and everyone else around me down rather than actually helping me out.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 year ago
Reply to  cmh89

JM- could you get someone from PBOT to write an article talking about what bikecrossings are?

They already have:
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/585677

As far as what you said below goes:

It’s only a matter of time till a cyclist dies in a crossbike because they thought they had ROW and the oncoming traffic didn’t stop.

It seems a bit over the top. Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks but they don’t have the right to just jump into the road when a driver can’t stop in time and are encouraged to make sure the driver is stopping or wait till they have stopped before entering the road. The legal status of these doesn’t change the common sense we are all expected to use when walking, biking or driving. If entering an intersection will cause a collision you yield regardless of the row.

Another Engineer
Another Engineer
1 year ago
Reply to  idlebytes

My contention with this is you need to account for speed. A pedestrian and driver navigating this situation is different than a cyclist travelling at 15mph and a driver travelling at 20 mph.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 year ago

Drivers navigate yield signs and uncontrolled intersections at higher speeds. There’s no reason to think cyclists couldn’t manage them as well. That’s effectively what’s being required here.

I don’t get the hang up. You slow down until you’re certain the other person will yield the right of way to you sometimes that may require you to stop and sometimes the other person doesn’t see you so you have to wait for the next person to stop.

Another Engineer
Another Engineer
1 year ago
Reply to  idlebytes

The sight distances in most of Portland are inadequate for uncontrolled four way intersections. I’m personally not a big fan of the large number of uncontrolled 3 way stops either. The minimum leg length for a sight distance triangle at 15mph is 70′. If we take 20th and Salmon as an example this is violated on every corner but the one with the parking lot. It is therefore not safe to be uncontrolled, one party should be stopping. Hence why I advocated for stop signs on 20th instead of a cross bike.

See page 14. https://cce.oregonstate.edu/sites/cce.oregonstate.edu/files/12-4-intersection-sight-distance.pdf

soren
soren
1 year ago

A pedestrian could run through the intersection at 12 mph.

Both pedestrians and people rolling have the responsibility to slow down and cross an uncontrolled intersection with due care.

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

As a matter of a fact, pedestrians operating at dangerous speeds in a crosswalk are also violating the law. The difference you are hoisting your petard on is so small as to be negligible. Moreover, in the vast, vast, vast majority of cases it is not the speed of the vulnerable traffic user that results in homicide but rather the speed of the potentially-lethal “cage” driver.

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

Runners use crosswalks and we trust them to have some modicum of self-preservation but so many here are arguing that people on bikes are incapable of the same self-preservation.

I personally view the “but someone might think they have right of way” to be a form of concern trolling. People who walk or roll through cross walks/bikes with any regularity in this brutal cage-centric society understand that their “right of way” is a sad and malicious joke.

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

Apologies for not getting that…I’m accustomed to disagreement when it comes to crossbikes.

cmh89
cmh89
1 year ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I have seen that page, I just mean what the actual intent of the crossbike is. If the intent of the crossbike is really to “The green cross-bikes, together with the white crosswalks, are to make it clear to people driving that this is a location where there may be many people walking and biking across the street.”, that means this study that is being cited should make clear to PBOT that crossbikes do not work for their intended purpose and create confusion as to has ROW.

So is the point to get motorist to incorrectly yield more often or is to make them “aware”, whatever that means?

Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks but they don’t have the right to just jump into the road when a driver can’t stop in time and are encouraged to make sure the driver is stopping or wait till they have stopped before entering the road. The legal status of these doesn’t change the common sense we are all expected to use when walking, biking or driving. If entering an intersection will cause a collision you yield regardless of the row.

Sure, but our ‘common sense’ is different based on how we are crossing the road. When I enter a crosswalk as a pedestrian, knowing I have ROW, my only considerations are 1. Can the motorist see me and 2. Do they have time to stop. That’s it. I don’t worry about whether or not the motorist has to come to a complete stop. If they do they do.

When I cross a street like NE Holman across NE 33rd on my bike, my considerations are 1. Can the motorist see me and 2. Do I have time to cross the intersection without causing the traffic that has ROW to come to a complete or nearly complete stop. .That’s true of whether I’m driving or biking. That’s how it works. Traffic on NE Holman, car or bike, must wait until there is a gap in traffic on NE 33rd to cross.

These considerations are important because it effects motorist behavior. If I’m driving down the street and I don’t see any pedestrians at an intersection, I’m not slowing down. If a cyclist thinks I’m going to treat them like a pedestrian when they aren’t one, they might enter the intersection assuming I’m going to prepared to stop as I would be if I saw a pedestrian, they’d be wrong.

Pedestrians in general are use to entering the street with traffic much closer than motorist and cyclist are when crossing major roads. I’ve seen this exact situation with my own eyes multiple times at the Crossbike @ Alberta and Michigan. One side stops, cyclist tries to go, and the other side doesn’t stop. It doesn’t help that we don’t daylight intersections either.

If PBOT wants these stupid Crossbikes to confer ROW, make it law and then educate people. It’s still a terrible idea but at least you are counting on traffic to do the wrong thing to keep people safe.

soren
soren
1 year ago

The absolute horror of experimental traffic control signals/markings that are soon codified into law (e.g. traffic signals, marked crosswalks, and … soon marked crossbikes).

PS: I believe unmarked crossbikes should have legal standing, just like unmarked crosswalks.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

“…that are soon codified into law”.

As you said in another comment, crossbikes “have been around in various forms for almost two decades”.

The “related posts” section above links to a Bike Portland article about crossbikes coming to Portland, and the issue of getting the law to recognize them. It’s from 2011.

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  qqq

the soon was tongue in cheek as it took many decades for railway-signal-like traffic signals to become legally recognized.

even though i believe that the brouhaha over crossbikes is a tempest in a teapot, i will definitely savor their eventual legalization!

Edgar Derby
Edgar Derby
1 year ago

I think the commentators here are operating under some erroneous assumptions. As I understand it, based on this article, the “crossbike” is not illegal, it’s just not an officially, bureaucratically recognized traffic marking. Now, this does not mean that drivers have carte blanche to plow you over. They still have an obligation to avoid you. Plus, if you are hit by a car while using a crossbike, the existence of the crossbike HAS A BEARING ON THE FACT OF WHETHER OR NOT THE DRIVER WAS EXERCISING A DUTY OF DUE CARE. So there is no downside to the crossbikes, and plenty of upside.

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  Edgar Derby

Nice handle and excellent comment, teapot thief.

J_R
J_R
1 year ago
Reply to  Edgar Derby

What about the “due care” of the bicyclist whose obligated to stop at the stop sign (since there is other traffic) and yield to the motorists on the main street who under the “bureaucratically recognized traffic marking” officially and legally has the right of way? What about the driver in the other lane who reasonably believes that the stopped motorist is simply waiting for traffic before he makes a left turn?

There’s a lot of downside to crossbikes due to the legally ambiguous nature of crossbikes.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  Edgar Derby

If you roll out in front of a car in a crossbike and they hit you, a responding officer can easily charge you with failure to yield, since you had a stop sign and they did not. They might not, but they definitely could, and many of them are biased against cyclists.

Kevin Geraghty
Kevin Geraghty
1 year ago

A fundamental principle of good traffic flow is that in every situation of potential conflict each party should know who has priority. Who yields to whom? One of my persistent beefs with Portland drivers is that many do not seem to know these rules, or are not disciplined or attentive enough to observe them. Neighborhood two-way stops are an example. Car on a cross street, with stop sign, comes to a stop and then pulls out into the intersection impeding traffic which has no stop sign, and clear right of precedence.

Without some regulatory or legislative rule-making, cross-bikes create a situation with no clear rules of priority. They feed the failings of our current driving culture, which is already pretty bad. Caveat cyclist.

Evan
Evan
1 year ago

Does the study properly control for other changes? At 15th & Going, I think they added bike-crossing signs and improved the median dividers at the same time. How do we know the change in yield rates was due entirely to the crossbike pavement markings?

I’m also concerned about the double-threat possibility brought up by other commenters, and the distinction between yield rates and safety. Is there any analysis to show reduction in collision proxies like close calls or quick stops after these interventions?

As an individual rider, I continue to expect every driver to break every law all the time, and keep moving or start moving at any time.

TakeTheLane
TakeTheLane
1 year ago

I would much rather see a stop sign instead of a cross-bike. Both may be better.

I frequently cross N Skidmore at N Michigan (1 block west of Mississippi) heading north. Traffic is frequently heavy and fast. I never know if I am going to make it across before the next car comes zooming up to the intersection. Even if they begin slowing, there is no way to know if they see me, or are getting ready to make a turn while failing to use their signal, for example. With a stop sign and cross walk, they would much more likely be coming to a stop. Then the rules are more clear.

Steve C
Steve C
1 year ago

As others have said, I don’t like the seeming intentional ambiguity of crossbikes as they are currently implemented. And I worry about the underlying lack of legal ROW for cyclists that are confused by this ambiguity.

What I see is crossbikes being implemented at crossings where the lack of a crossbike would clearly indicate the traffic on the main road has the ROW, unless a pedestrian or cyclist acting as a pedestrian* is crossing. The crossbike has the effect of tricking cyclist and kind motorists into thinking they need to stop when they aren’t legally required to. I think this is going to get someone killed and the driver is going to go free because they weren’t legally required to stop.

In a more rule following culture, where vagueness may result in people driving and cycling more carefully, this treatment may work. But our road culture is, to quote Colin McRae, “When in doubt, flat out”.

*I believe the rule is riding in a crosswalk at a walking pace?

Keviniano
Keviniano
1 year ago

Perhaps off-topic, but with so talk much in the comments about the ambiguity of cross-bikes and how that can only lead to bad outcomes, I think of the “shared spaces” efforts in Europe, where ambiguity has been intentionally woven into street design. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUbsFtLkGN8&t=9s

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  Keviniano

It would be interesting to know how the laws work in those examples–who has the legal right of way among the various users in various situations?

That’s a good, balanced video. I’m a big fan of ambiguity in things like woonerfs/shared streets, when they have characteristics that the video mentions are needed for safe ambiguity–primarily slow traffic.

My concern with crossbikes isn’t so much that there’s ambiguity for users in who has the right of way (although there clearly is some) but that the law is UNambiguous in that they don’t convey right of way to users who may think they do.

Vince
Vince
1 year ago

Could be interesting to pick, say 20 people, half cyclists and half drivers, show them an intersection with these markings. Them ask them how they as road users are supposed to act when they come to an intersection with these markings. I expect you would get 20 different answers.

Gary B
Gary B
1 year ago

I’m not sure what the issue is. Everything you say is of course true, but the data show that drivers *do* stop even though they don’t have to. So no, you shouldn’t just proceed into the intersection expecting a driver to yield. But if they do choose to yield in both directions (which they sooner. Isn’t that a good thing?

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  Gary B

Personally, as a cyclist or pedestrian I’d rather wait for the traffic to clear and go after all the motorists have cleared the intersection than have them stop and wait for me so I have to cross in front of them, the former is much safer.

Yex
Yex
1 year ago

I like the “crossbikes” and although they do increase the % of cars yielding it is not even close to what the PBOT states. Maybe they used a pink bike with high powered strobes, 3 noise makers and a handlebar mounted howitzer for their study?

Steven Smith
Steven Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Yex

PBOT didnt’ do the study. It was done as a Master’s thesis at PSU. People biking through were not subjects. They were just people biking through the intersection.

Psmith
Psmith
1 year ago

That’s a very “vehicular cyclist” type of attitude. I think most people would approach this like any pedestrian would, which is that you signal your intention to cross, you wait until it’s safe to cross, and then you cross. The legalities shouldn’t really matter. What matters is whether it’s safe to cross. The idea that someone should sit there stubbornly not crossing, when every car in every lane has stopped for you, is patently ridiculous. You’re letting the legal system dictate your behavior to an extreme degree at that point.