Opinion: Let’s have the right conversations after tragic Bend e-bike death

E-bike riders in Lake Oswego last summer. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

About one year ago, we shared a guest article from Hood River cycling advocate Megan Ramey. In Dawn of the throttle kids, Ramey laid out her take on a phenomenon in Oregon cities where throngs of tweens and teens are taking to electric bikes.

“All it’s going to take to have this conversation explode,” would be a high profile crash, Ramey wrote. “If it happens with someone who is underage riding an e-bike, the media frenzy would be harsh. We could see overly restrictive laws passed, police changing their enforcement stance, and a general public backlash that sets bike advocacy back decades. As always, it’s best to get ahead of the issue and create these laws in advance, and not in reaction to a tragedy.”

I’m sad to say that 11 months later, a 15-year-old riding an e-bike was killed in a collision with a car driver. It happened in Bend June 17th, and the response has been almost exactly what Ramey predicted. It has sparked a big conversation about bike safety and enforcement (the victim was 15 years old and not wearing a helmet, both of which are a traffic violation). Right on cue, folks are pointing fingers at kids on bikes and calling for mandatory licensing. On Friday, the editorial board of The Bend Bulletin called on schools and parents to step education efforts.

And just yesterday, OPB’s daily news analysis show Think Out Loud welcomed a Bend Bulletin reporter and I onto the show to talk about the issue. I encourage you to listen to the segment. Host Dave Miller posed some important questions and I hope my responses to them help direct us to the best possible outcome.

As I shared with Miller on the show (listen above or read a not-perfect transcription here), it’s very important we don’t get into the standard, knee-jerk reactions that always happen when something new bursts onto the scene. Yes we need to take action to address how these new types of bikes are being used and increase awareness of the dangers they pose when used incorrectly. But as we process this tragedy and map out next steps, we must have a healthy perspective on what’s going on here.

Folks need to less time pointing fingers and more time in front of a mirror. I’m hearing a lot of people demand “more education!”, “more enforcement!”, “more laws!” Those are lazy responses because they put the onus on someone else to do something. If we want to make streets safe for everyone, we must reflect on our own behaviors. One of the major tenets of the “safe systems” approach to traffic safety (that PBOT and many other cities are working on as part of their vision zero goal) is that our streets should allow people to make small errors in judgment without the consequence of death.

Death is not a normal part of moving around a city. If you think it is, then consider this question: Which one of your loved ones are you willing to sacrifice to that belief?

We also can’t forget that our transportation system and our society on the whole is very car-centric. Everything outside of a car is an outsider, an interloper, the “other.” That strong bias often blinds us from good decision-making, especially when emotions are high following a tragedy.

I’m also concerned that not enough folks in Bend are talking about the role of road design. Just look where this fatal collision happened (above): A very dangerous urban highway and a side street built for getting onto it with as much ease and speed as possible. That wide turning radius is akin to a freeway onramp and should never exist in this type of context. And many people are questioning the teen’s decision to ride on the sidewalk; but would you ride in that bike lane? Do we really expect a bike rider to cross a five-lane arterial twice just to get to their destination?

Riding on the sidewalk in the opposition direction of road traffic was likely the safest choice they could have made given the alternatives.

And speaking of alternatives… What if all these kids lost their love of bikes? How would they get around instead? As folks like Ramey (who leads Safe Routes to School programs) and other parents of tweens and teens know all too well, it’s not easy to get them out of cars and away from their video games. So let’s be careful how we respond to this tragedy. Let’s embrace these bikes, and not let our penchant for finger-wagging and othering squander this opportunity to get kids outside.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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EP
EP
11 months ago

It’s been interesting reading the headlines and articles about this and the skewed hype over it being an E-BIKE!. All those articles sound way too concerned about the accident if you just replace “ebike” with “car.” Yet it would be more accurate. Sadly car accidents have been normalized and it doesn’t get much coverage when a 16 yo is drunk and crashes a car full of teens and kills everyone inside, and/or outside/nearby. Maybe it’s time to say you can get an ebike at ~14-15 years, and then a car later when you’re 18.

I’d take a road full of 15 year olds on e-bikes over a road full of 16 year olds in cars, any day.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  EP

In the context of your post, parents are probably most concerned about whether their child is safer in a car or on an e-bike. Cars can go faster, but that increase in danger is at least partially offset by the greater physical protection they provide and the fact that drivers have passed a test that, while minimal, should at least be able to determine they know how to wear seatbelts, not to drive on sidewalks*, and which side of the road to be on. Many drivers will have taken a full-on driver-ed class, but very few e-bike riders have received a comparable amount of training on safe operation of their vehicles.

*I am not trying to reignite the debate about whether sidewalk riding is good practice or not, but in my reading of this incident, riding the wrong way on the sidewalk was probably a large factor in the crash**. As they say in art, you have to know the rules to (safely) break the rules.

**As was the driver not looking to see if someone was approaching at e-speed on the sidewalk in the opposite direction of traffic. As a rider, the driver’s behavior is out of your control, so to be safe, you have to reasonably anticipate that a driver making a turn onto an urban highway is probably focused on not getting t-boned by pulling on at the wrong moment rather than thinking about you approaching at e-bike speeds from the opposite direction, something that might reasonably not occur to you if you don’t have much experience driving in similar circumstances.

Nothing I’ve posted is intended to assign fault or blame on any party.

Daniel Reimer
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

But you did assume that they were going “e-speeds” which I haven’t seen any articles mentioned how fast the rider was going. Looking at the intersection, you can’t go particular fast riding on the sidewalk because of the tight maneuvering required to line up with where the curb cuts are in order to enter the intersection.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

“Looking at the intersection,”

It looks to me like you could easily go from sidewalk to median-cut to sidewalk at speed.

But it would be hard to do that if a car were waiting to turn as it is in the photo. It would be hard to get past the car on a bike at all.

maxD
maxD
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

There is no “wrong way” on a sidewalk, they are bi-directional. If the car had stopped behind the crosswalk and looked both ways, they would have seen the sidewalk user.

Riding a sidewalk east along MLK for a couple of blocks over I-84 was the safest, most efficient option for my commute for a few years. I am well-acquainted with the dangers and conflicts. There are few pedestrians using this is, and it was simple and effective to slow down and let them know I was there- zero conflicts. People driving CONSTANTLY approached MLK heading east and wanting to turn south. They would roll right across the crosswalk looking exclusively to their left (north) and never even glance to their right to see what was coming down the sidewalk. People rolling stop signs and right-on red are the problem in this instance, no e-bikes. That could have been a jogger and it would have been the same result.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  maxD

There is no “wrong way” on a sidewalk

Yes, of course. I should have referred to it as “the dangerous way”.

Watts
Watts
10 months ago
Reply to  maxD

It is illegal to ride an ebike on a sidewalk at all, at any speed, and in any direction, so there’s that.

https://oregon.public.law/statutes/ors_814.410

Iconyms
Iconyms
10 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Data shows that cars are safer than bikes in the US (for those using them) so seems reasonable to assume cars are also going to be safer than ebikes.

Makes sense that parents will want their children to use the transportation method safest for them. Kids used to be able to ride a motorcycle before you could drive, besides off road I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I imagine we could see ebikes go the same way?

steve scarich
steve scarich
10 months ago
Reply to  Watts

This is the first that I heard that the kid was riding ‘uphill’, approaching from the right of the merging driver. Is that correct? It is not a steep grade; I would say 2 or 3%, but enough that an e-bike with two on-board should have a tough time going over 15 mph. How did the collision occur? It’s hard to imagine that there could have been a hard enough impact to kill someone with the car going probably less than 10 mph, but stuff happens. On another note, this morning in Bend, I had a somewhat similar incident occur. I was riding my bike in the bike lane about 18 mph, going slightly uphill, approaching a round-about. A kid came out of the mini-mall to my right on an e-bike and started riding on the sidewalk parallel to me. As we approached the roundabout, he suddenly accelerated to about 20 mph, hung a left turn into the ped crossing 20′ in front of me. I yelled at him ‘that’s a good way to die’. If I had been in a car, I would have been going at least 5 mph faster, and almost surely hit him. This was in NE Bend on Butler Market Rd @ 27th, for those familiar with local routes.

steve scarich
steve scarich
10 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I guess that I have not been paying sufficient attention, or that the yellow arrows on JM’s diagram were inserted sometime after original publication. That changes the whole discussion. A legal e-bike with two aboard would have a tough time going over 15 mph coming up that gradual hill. Never in a million years would a driver even think of that happening. You’re lucky to get drivers to look right for pedestrians going 3 mph, much less expecting them to anticipate behavior like this from a cyclist.

surly ogre
surly ogre
11 months ago

it’s long past time to file a lawsuit against Tesla, Ford, GM, and the federal government for failing to regulate the speed, acceleration, and horsepower of cars/trucks and the ages and places that one can drive a missile without penalty, especially upon crashing into a person walking or riding a bicycle. If Multnomah County can sue BP, Shell Oil, Exxon, et al, for last summer’s heat dome, then the City of Portland should sure Tesla, Ford, GM and the federal government for all the death and mayhem on our city streets.

John
John
11 months ago

Yeah, I’d say this has just about nothing to do with the fact that it was an e-bike other than an e-bike is just as vulnerable as any other bike. Any bike would have been just as likely to get hit in this situation. Focusing on the e-nature of the vehicle is no different than if red was a new trendy bike color and we started talking about regulating red bikes after this crash.

steve scarich
steve scarich
10 months ago
Reply to  John

No…you obviously do not live in Bend or ride that section of road. I do, hundreds of times. It is a fairly fast downhill, I am usually going 25+ on my road bike. An e-bike with two people on it would easily be going that speed downhill. Drivers give me room, because I am where they expect a 25 mph vehicle. It is 100% commercial, zero residential part of town. Do you think that drivers in Portland are looking out for 25mph riders on the sidewalks of say, West Burnside? It is a relatively safe intersection, if you ride smart.

steve scarich
steve scarich
10 months ago
Reply to  John

I correct my original comments to you. I just assumed that the kid was going downhill from the left, to have any chance of reaching speeds sufficient to kill himself. The fact that he was coming uphill from the driver’s right at those kinds of speeds never even entered my mind.

Granpa
Granpa
11 months ago

When I was 15 I was riding a Kawasaki 100cc motorcycle and caused a car to deviate into a tree. The car was totaled but the crash would have killed me if the driver didn’t swerve. I had no sense of the risk or responsibility I bore in sharing the road. I was stupid and not fully formed as a thinking person. E-bikes have about the same pep as a small motorcycle and young teens now are just as dumb as I was then.
I agree that young people should go play outside but it is willful ignorance to expect kids to act safely and responsibly on e-bikes in traffic. Just saying

Danielle
Danielle
11 months ago
Reply to  Granpa

E-bikes don’t have the same pep as a small motorcycle.

That said, I’m not a fan of the throttle model class 3 e-bikes which you’re thinking of, and would not mind seeing them restricted to class 1 (no throttle, 20 mph max pedal assist). Similar to what’s done in Europe. I say this as an e-bike owner.

JF
JF
10 months ago
Reply to  Danielle

I have been passed by ebikes while riding my motorcycle. Some of those things can fly.

GF
GF
10 months ago
Reply to  JF

At that point its not really a ‘ebike’ even if it has the shape of a bike and pedals. at that point its a scooter, which then i think everyone (including all of europe) would agree that a license is needed.

its akin to adding a gas motor to a bicycle that can make you go 40mph (ive seen them around portland). at that point its not a bike anymore and more of a motor-cycle (see what i did there 🙂 ).

Danielle
Danielle
10 months ago
Reply to  JF

In Oregon the bikes are supposed to be limited to max 20mph pedal assist, but in practice that’s not at all what we see. They’re usually Class 3 (max 28mph pedal assist), and the brands manufactured in China mostly have throttles which is why you see the acceleration.

If someone is going faster than 28mph on a flat, passing motorcycles, that’s really not an e-bike at all. The law in Oregon and most states (and at the federal level) lays this out.

I know that is semantics, but it does matter in this conversation because those “bikes” are outliers and should be treated as such.

Anyway, the more I think about it, the more this becomes a conversation about road design AND e-bike policy.

1kw
1kw
10 months ago
Reply to  Danielle

They are less and less outliers every year. I see them all the time.

Iconyms
Iconyms
10 months ago
Reply to  Granpa

Yea, feels like a tricky topic because on the flip side a 15 year old driving a car might be safer themselves but an even greater danger to others than a 15 year old on a motorcycle.

At least in some states you used to be able to get a motorcycle license a year or two before a car license. I think the thinking was that you wouldn’t be as much of a danger to others.

Zach
Zach
11 months ago

So the driver was going too fast to stop or at least fast enough to kill someone while they were either approaching or leaving a stop sign?

Also, agreed on the design, a large radius turn and stop sign don’t go together.

Chris I
Chris I
11 months ago
Reply to  Zach

Seems like the classic “only look left and roll through” type incident.

Jolly Dodger
Jolly Dodger
11 months ago

That intersection looks deadly as hell for peds. Drivers look like they need to float over the stop line just to see what’s coming from their left … Anybody trying to cross in the crosswalk there is putting their life at risk on a good day. I hope some type of redesign has been discussed. A helmet can only do so much against the size of some of the vehicles on the road these days. So many sad endings because of poor road design.

steve scarich
steve scarich
10 months ago
Reply to  Jolly Dodger

This is the rule, rather than the exception, in Bend. I feel much more at risk walking here than I do on my bike; having said that, Bend is very dangerous for cyclists.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
11 months ago

The roadway intersection doesn’t strike me as particularly deadly – in fact it meets all the criteria for a “complete street”. East Portland (and most of the rest of the country) have lots of similar streets that are far deadlier in design. There’s even a pedestrian refuge on the side street, which is almost guaranteed to slow cars down before they turn. I’d say it’s pretty likely that the cyclist failed to stop – Was it bad brakes? Riding too fast on a city sidewalk? – rather than a fast car hitting them.

Blaming the crash on infrastructure is a cop-out, particularly when the infrastructure meets most community safety standards. I’d say it was more likely all the same issues we have with car users – not paying attention, poor brake maintenance (or poor design), traveling the wrong way on the sidewalk, using the sidewalk at a speed it wasn’t designed for, and so on.

It’s one thing to try to design infrastructure to prevent common human error, but it’s impossible to design idiot-proof infrastructure for those who are drunk, stoned, medicated, having a heart attack, driving down the middle like a Saudi, or going way too fast to stop their e-bike. Let’s face it, the kid screwed up and paid for with his life. It could be Bend, it could be Paris, it could be Utrecht, but it still happens.

qqq
qqq
11 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten
  1. The design is definitely dangerous, with the stop bar several feet into the unmarked crosswalk.
  2. You can’t “travel the wrong way” on a sidewalk
  3. It probably wasn’t a “fast car’ hitting him–it doesn’t take going fast to kill someone, especially if he was run over
  4. I haven’t seen any proof “the kid screwed up”
  5. “The cyclist failed to stop”? He may have failed to slow down, but is there any law that requires him to stop when riding on a sidewalk and crossing the street? I think the only requirement is that he cross at pedestrian speed. I may be wrong, but basically most people commenting here are traffic law experts compared to the average street user, so at worst he was guilty of not having an expert knowledge of the law.
  6. Using the term “idiot-proof” in this case is way out of line, as is implying that what the victim did wrong here–if anything–was on par with being drunk, stoned, etc.
  7. “Blaming the crash on infrastructure is a cop-out”. I don’t think anyone pointing out the poor infrastructure is saying that must have been the only contributor. On the other hand, I could easily see the victim and the driver both making major mistakes, but with no crash at all occurring, if the infrastructure had been only slightly better.
  8. “East Portland (and most of the rest of the country) have lots of similar streets that are far deadlier in design.” Yes, and people regularly get killed on them because they’re so bad. The fact that there are worse designs elsewhere is irrelevant. Almost 100% of deaths due to poor infrastructure occur on streets whose design is less than the worst in the country. The only place that’s not true is on whatever street is THE worst.
steve scarich
steve scarich
10 months ago
Reply to  qqq

I’ll go out on a limb here, but I seem to recall that a bike in a crosswalk is supposed to proceed at a walking pace, so 3 mph…I ride that downhill section of highway 20 (yes, it is a state highway), all the time, and an e-bike with two people would reasonably be going 25 mph, 15 mph if they were just coasting.

qqq
qqq
10 months ago
Reply to  steve scarich

Yes, that’s why I said, “I think the only requirement is that he cross at pedestrian speed”. And I was responding to David’s saying he “failed to stop” which isn’t a law as far as I know.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
11 months ago

As per usual the general public puts little blame on the motorist that didn’t bother to look/notice the 15 year old child riding on the sidewalk (sidewalks are not one way). Most children are taught to only ride on the sidewalk. Drivers should not assume that people on the sidewalk will only appear to their left. Too many times while walking I notice right turning drivers only looking to their left for other car traffic, so much so that I just now wait at the corner until they look in my direction, sometimes they never do before moving through the intersection. Motorists must make sure they don’t move forward until both directions of the sidewalk traffic is clear.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

“Drivers should not assume that people on the sidewalk will only appear to their left.”

This is 100% true. But you should behave as of the driver will neglect this duty, because they probably will.

X
X
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Drivers should treat passing the crosswalk as a separate problem from entering the next street. Hardly anyone does, it’s completely normal to Subaru all over the crosswalk before completing a stop or checking for traffic.

It doesn’t help that motor vehicles are commonly parked up to or even into the crosswalk.

Fred
Fred
11 months ago

Yes, I would ride in that bike lane every day of the week. It’s even colored red, to help with visibility. It looks like a world-class bike lane.

I’m very sad for this young man and his family, but as a rule we should be supporting helmets, education, safer speeds, and better road design. We can and should be able to talk about those things in the aftermath of a tragedy.

David Chase
David Chase
11 months ago
Reply to  Fred

That is not a world-class bike lane. If the Dutch wouldn’t do it that way, it isn’t world class.

Alex Bauman
Alex Bauman
11 months ago
Reply to  Fred

That’s great if you feel comfortable riding next to 45mph car traffic with no protection; almost everyone else wouldn’t but you’re entitled to your opinion. However, you’re incorrect to say that this lane is “world-class” because it has red coloring. In fact best practice would prioritize the coloring at intersections, whereas on Hwy 20 in Bend it disappears at intersections where it is most needed to call drivers’ attention to the fact that there is bike traffic crossing there. This indicates that they’re providing the red marking by failing to provide a surface pavement over the sub grade, and if you check streetview you’ll easily find examples (e.g. next to the right turn lane at 15th) where the bike lane pavement is cracked and broken while the general traffic lane pavement is fairly smooth.

So in fact the bike lane on Hwy 20 in Bend is more superficial bungling from ODOT, not “world-class”.

J_R
J_R
11 months ago

One of my bikes is an e- bike so I’m obviously not opposed to them.

What concerns me is the easily available power. The machine allows the operator to easily exceed his/her skill level. It’s the same thing I and other sailors saw happen when jet skis were first introduced. I would say we were justified in our concerns.

I’m sorry about the rider but I tentatively assign most of the blame to him. Illegal operator, no helmet, and probably too fast for the situation and being on the sidewalk.

Daniel Reimer
11 months ago

It is absolutely comical that the stop line is in the middle of the crosswalk.

qqq
qqq
11 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

Yes, there’s no excuse for that. The bar is telling drivers it’s fine to pull up to there as they turn right, and so is the curb ramp, because it’s forward of the stop bar–but only because it’s several feet out of alignment with the crosswalk at the islands to the left of the driver.

People have already mentioned the wide turns, which encourage cars to speed when turning right from the highway, or when turning right onto it. Then combine that with the crosswalk being so far away from the highway that drivers turning right off the highway (the blue car in the aerial) will be well into their turn without even realizing it’s a crossing.

Then look how insane you’d have to be to attempt to cross the highway–crossing five lanes of fast traffic, and then look where you have to go on the north side of the highway to even find the curb ramps. And as Jonathan wrote, using the bike lane to head west instead of riding on the sidewalk would require crossing that street twice (depending on your destination).

I called ODOT once about several stop bars on S Macadam that were in the middle of the unmarked crosswalks used by people walking along the Macadam sidewalk, and they restriped them within 3 or 4 days (!). They clearly knew how dangerous it is to tell drivers to not stop until they’re already in the road space where they’ll hit anyone crossing.

SD
SD
11 months ago

We can propose education as a solution all that we want, but it is very hard to teach children not to instinctively trust adults.

The first rule of safe traveling is don’t trust adults or anyone else driving a car.

This intersection design is deadly because it encourages right turning cars to slow, but not to stop. And, the driver would be inclined to not just look left, but to look far left as they are slowing.

I don’t know what happened in this case, but a trusting child may interpret the car or truck slowing as an intent to stop.

This type of intersection should not be built.

J_R
J_R
11 months ago
Reply to  SD

The island and large-radius curb were not designed to facilitate high speeds but to force drivers to make the right turn also prescribed by the right-turn only sign. I agree that the stop bar is misplaced.

This like other tragedies includes less than perfect infrastructure, errors by users, and too much trust in the behavior of the other users.

Daniel Reimer
11 months ago
Reply to  J_R

The right turn only sign was probably put there because it’s too dangerous to try to turn left across 3 car lanes. Yet we expect someone outside a car to cross 5 lanes of traffic in order to ride in the correct direction bike lane…

Regardless of the intent of the intersection design, what we end up with is a highway-esque slip lane. I bet the average speed drivers drive through that stop sign is pretty high when there is no oncoming traffic.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

“Yet we expect someone outside a car to cross 5 lanes of traffic in order to ride in the correct direction bike lane”

That entirely depends on where folks are riding to and from.

SD
SD
11 months ago
Reply to  J_R

Regardless of why the intersection was designed this way, the result is drivers being encouraged to continue without stopping and look far to the left, neglecting sidewalk traffic to the right.

Champs
Champs
11 months ago

A noun here and a noun there later, this is practically a mad lib about gun control: they’re valuable tools, also fun to use, safe in the right hands, and the real danger is some other environmental factor. I don’t know, maybe it’s all true and the skeptics have it completely wrong.

Modern childhood is already turbocharged: heavily programmed activities, computers in their pockets, cheap and powerful drugs on the street. Notwithstanding safer streets, which are definitely an improvement on “thoughts and prayers,” do motorized bikes need to be in the mix?

Stephen
Stephen
11 months ago

Thanks for sharing the screen shots of this intersection. It appears that most drivers (maybe even myself if I’m in a hurry) would interpret the location to stop for this stop sign as the location where there is a gray car (in both pictures coincidentally). If a car comes to a stop there, they would be rolling through the pedestrian crossing.

The other thing this picture indicates (and this is somewhat of an assumption), is that this intersection was designed relatively recently. I’m trying to get a dangerous intersection fixed in my neighborhood and between old photos and a Sanborn map it appears to have been this way for at least 100 years, likely longer. And the story is we can’t afford to fix that intersection (good news, they’re trying to fix that one!). Going back to Bend, it’s rapid growth and the weathering of surfaces for this intersection pictured in this article, this curbed crossing island doesn’t appear older than 20 years, and maybe 10 years old. So some agency/developer clearly had money recently for a project here.

qqq
qqq
11 months ago
Reply to  Stephen

I agree that most drivers interpret the location where they to stop isn’t at the stop sign, or before they enter the unmarked (or even marked) crosswalk–it’s up as far forward as they can go without getting in the way of oncoming cars (as you said, where the gray car is).

If I’m remembering correctly, where the LAW says you must stop is at the stop bar. After you stop there, you can continue (if there’s nobody crossing in front of you) towards the curb so you have better visibility before turning. With no stop bar, you can continue past the stop sign (as long as nobody’s using the unmarked crosswalk) up to where you have better visibility, as long as you’re not interfering with approaching cars’ travel.

I don’t think there’s ever a case where it’s correct to put the stop bar partway into the crosswalk area, as it is here. It confuses drivers, who should be able to be confident that you’re not going to hit someone as long as they stop at it, and it also would make drivers surprised to see someone walking or biking across the street on the “wrong” side of the stop bar.

Alex Bauman
Alex Bauman
11 months ago

I appreciate your comments in the Think Out Loud piece, Jonathan, especially your efforts to shift perspective from moral panic about new e-assist technologies to good old fashioned bad road design. Hopefully the Bend Bulletin’s reporters will think a little harder before they publish victim-blaming articles like the ones linked here and on Monday.

Another comment on the Think Out Loud piece: it was disappointing that they aired the Eugene caller’s inaccurate assertion that the city of Eugene makes no attempt to educate residents on safe cycling. In fact the city regularly mails out educational materials to thousands of households across the city as part of their Smart Trips program (https://www.eugene-or.gov/656/SmartTrips). I got one last year. It’s hard to imagine what the city could do besides that — does the caller want them to waste money & paper by mailing these to every household every year? Very disappointing that a generally reliable program like Think Out Loud would air ignorant anti-government venting like that.

Danielle
Danielle
11 months ago

I agree with Jonathan’s take on why he was riding on the sidewalk in the wrong direction. That is a gnarly road to cross; they don’t even let the cars do it at that intersection!

However, it should be noted that in Oregon, riding an e-bike on the sidewalk is not permitted .

This isn’t something most people would know unless they specifically searched for the law (that’s how I found out). And that’s a problem.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Danielle

Can you vote the law you found?

Watts
Watts
10 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Sorry… *cite*

Danielle
Danielle
10 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Sure, this link will take you to a pdf from the State of Oregon that shows laws for for e-bikes, scooters, and other motorized transportation on wheels (that aren’t cars or motorcycles)

https://www.oregon.gov/odot/forms/dmv/6619.pdf

Watts
Watts
10 months ago
Reply to  Danielle
Iconyms
Iconyms
10 months ago

Honestly the Oregon ebike laws already make zero sense.

You have to be over 16 to ride an ebike but 5 year old kids can ride a motorcycle.. What kind of sense does that make?

Motors are limited to 750W or 1000W, I don’t know who wrote that but motors don’t limit how many watts they put out that’s just software on the moto controller and can be easily changed on the fly so it’s totally unenforceable.

ebikes are supposed to be limited to 20 mph but again this is just a software setting that almost anyone can change on the fly.

steve scarich
steve scarich
10 months ago

Come on JM, I ride in that bike lane several times per month; in fact I rode in it today. I would never, I mean never ride on the sidewalk. Drivers yielded to me hundreds of times in the past years at Dean Swift, because they are looking for traffic, and I am in the middle of traffic. They never expect a bike rider on a sidewalk in that part of town (100% commercial; no residential). What you didn’t mention is that it is a downhill, fairly fast section; I am usually going 25-30 mph on my bike; traffic is going close to 40 average. If kids are educated, they would be told ‘ride as if you are a vehicle which all the rights and obligations of a car’ and keep your wits about you. Today there was a report locally that BPD has given four 4, yes four, warnings in the past year to cyclists. BPD is totally disinterested in enforcing laws regarding cyclists. If they were, kids would be warned, school principals would not ignore all the illegal e-bikes and riders in their schools. This is a total failure by parents, cops, and school officials. The road is fine; I ride it all the time.

Dubs
10 months ago

I believe that people on e-bikes are jumping into a world they know little about and don’t have an appreciation for the multiple threats that can occur while being vulnerable road users (street vision/ smarts). As Jonathan mentioned, a learning curve is being missed here when you introduce speed, lack of ability, and no safety equipment and you are inviting more fatalities. This goes for any age kids and adults alike.

chris
chris
10 months ago
Reply to  Dubs

I believe making assumptions about people you do not actually know is not very wise. Just like it is wrong to assume every person riding a bike is doing everything they can to help the environment even though many of them have more than 1 child per couple, eat meat, and dress themselves head to toe in petroleum products.

Jake b
Jake b
6 months ago

Cycling is very popular especially with youth. There are tragedies every year. With many rules in place there are still accidents and many simply don’t know the rules. Cyclists should need a cycling license, have insurance, and register their bike to prevent tragedy. Think this sounds dumb? It is, it’s the same as the gun debate. Insurance is a good idea though, and a free course offered in schools would be a good idea as well. But with all things, change starts in the home. Teach your kids about safety in whatever their passion is as well as daily routines. That will save lives the most. More laws and restrictions never work, it all boils down to personal responsibility.