Bike safety 101: Let’s help folks feel better on their bikes

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

What do we talk about when we talk about bike safety? It’s a topic that is so fundamental — almost trite — to so many of us that we rarely address it on BikePortland these days.

That’s why I was happy that the folks at City Cast Portland asked me about it for the latest episode of their podcast. Host Claudia Meza asked me some important questions that I know I didn’t answer completely, so I figured I’d share them here so you can add to and improve my responses.

The thing that stuck with me from our conversation was how new cyclists feel about the dangers on our streets and what they can do to mitigate them. What I mean is, I always feel uncomfortable when media folks ask me, “Are the streets safe for cycling?” because I know my personal feelings about it are very different than other riders — especially people who are new to cycling and/or Portland.

With Pedalpalooza in full swing, and judging by all the newbies I meet at Bike Happy Hour each week (see you tomorrow, right?!), I know there are a lot of folks just coming into cycling that could really use some tips and advice on how to feel and be safer.

So… Below are the questions Claudia asked me. You can hear my responses by listening to the podcast episode (above). And I’d love to hear your responses in the comments. If any of you take the time to share your thoughts, this post could be a good resource for a lot of people. Here are the questions…

  • Have you noticed commuting by bike getting more dangerous in Portland?
  • What are some other safety concerns you see while riding?
  • How can bicyclists find the safest routes to get around?
  • Are there any routes that are way too dangerous for bicyclists?
  • Are there any apps or websites where people can plan their trips?
  • What are the three things you check for before heading out on ride so you’re not accidentally creating a hazard for yourself?
  • What can drivers be doing better to ensure riders’ safety while sharing the road?

Like I said in the interview, even though fatal bike crashes have remained at zero or very low for years now; every time tragedy strikes — regardless of it happens to a walker, driver, or whoever — cyclists feel it on a visceral level. The more we help each other navigate those feelings and share tips and resources, the more confident, safe and relaxed everyone will be out on our streets.

Thanks for sharing your insights and perspective.


City Cast Portland Podcast, 8/15/23: Biking 101: How to Stay Safe in Portland

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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Bicycle Dude
Bicycle Dude
3 months ago

I’ve been commuting by bike rain or shine for 25 years as I’m a car free person.

Metro used to publish a bike map “Bike There” that I relied on before GPS. It was color coded for traffic flow, red for high density, orange for moderate, blue for light. It was helpful for planning my commute routes. Also, when I started a new job, I’d ride the route on the weekend to get a feel for the ride.

I follow the rules of the road, wear a helmet, bright jacket nearly all the time, and have two flashing tail lights, one on the back side of my rack, the other on the back of my helmet, one front white headlight on steady beam pointing downward to prevent blinding on coming traffic.

Over the years, one thing I learned is to watch the front tire of the car or vehicle I’m approaching, especially at intersections, the vehicle’s wheel will move in the direction if the driver is about to turn. It’s very subtle by keeping an eye on it will keep you from getting hit if the driver doesn’t use the turn signal or your midway to the front of the vehicle.

The other important thing is to give heavy vehicles, delivery trucks, semi trucks with trailers and city buses a lot of space, stay behind them and in their mirror, make eye contact and never ride up to the front of the vehicle, you are in a blind spot the where the driver can’t see you and you can get crushed in a right turn maneuver.

Nick
Nick
3 months ago

Have yet to listen to the episode, although I intend to do so. Looking into the company that produces those podcasts makes me wary of subscribing since they’re a part of a large holdings company who owns many media outlets and is also involved in other industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and automotive:
https://citycast.fm/faq
https://www.ghco.com/broadcasting
https://www.ghco.com/automotive

 
 
3 months ago

I know this isn’t on you, but I think using “safety” as a term conflates the two very different types of safety that are required for a city to be a successful biking city. On one hand, there’s the issue of safety as it pertains to infrastructure and driver behavior: people need to not going get hit by drivers while biking or crash on a massive pothole. On the other hand, there’s the issue of safety from surroundings while biking: people need to be sure that they’re not going to get mugged, harassed, or assaulted by other individuals while they’re riding their bike through any area. I think it’s too common to combine these two into one category, when they are in reality describing two disparate issues with completely different solutions. Any holistic discussion of “safety” while riding needs to consider both of these definitions, or we’re never going to move the needle.

blumdrew
3 months ago

Have you noticed commuting by bike getting more dangerous in Portland?

Not personally. I’ve only been here since 2021, but I’ve found it to be pretty steady. Mostly nice, with a weekly-ish bad encounter with a driver. My commute is SE (Brooklyn) to downtown, bus to Tigard, then bike home.

What are some other safety concerns you see while riding?

Bad drivers and poorly connected bike infrastructure is probably the biggest issue. There’s lots of pretty good bike routes, but almost all of them have places with stressful connections. Clinton is a great greenway until the crossings with 50th and 52nd. 16th is nice, but the crossing at Burnside is terrible (and Hawthorne is annoying too). Bad drivers in Portland usually just sort of aren’t looking where they are going in my experience.

How can bicyclists find the safest routes to get around?

I did most of this by trial and error, though there are maps as well. I think that every cyclist has different levels of tolerance for car traffic, so this influences route choice to some extent. I’ll happily bike down Belmont, but wouldn’t go uphill on it.

Are there any routes that are way too dangerous for bicyclists?

Is the Pope Catholic? Powell, Cesar Chavez, Barbur, Sandy, MLK, Grand, that stretch of Hawthorne between 12th and 22nd, 82nd, Stark (especially east of 205), Holgate (especially bewteen McLoughlin and 28th), West Burnside, East Broadway/Weidler (until Hollywood), Lombard (especially east of MLK), Columbia Blvd, S Macadam, Taylors Ferry (especially between Macadam and Terwilliger), and more. I’m probably missing lots of bad ones in the SW hills.

Are there any apps or websites where people can plan their trips?

I’m sure there are, but I prefer to navigate by my own mental map of the city when possible

What are the three things you check for before heading out on ride so you’re not accidentally creating a hazard for yourself?

I normally just got out and ride. I check my tire pressure I guess

What can drivers be doing better to ensure writers safety while sharing the road?

Drive less, and drive slower. Getting around by car warps your perception of how long something should take and the broader social consensus on the roads is that speeding is okay, as long as you don’t get caught and stay below 11 mph over the speed limit. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been passed by a driver going 10 over, just to pass them 2 minutes later in traffic. It’s ridiculous.

 
 
3 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

…, West Burnside, …, S Macadam, Taylors Ferry (especially between Macadam and Terwilliger), and more. I’m probably missing lots of bad ones in the SW hills.

Oh man can I name some more in the southwest hills: Skyline (especially south of Burnside, Scholls Ferry (especially north of the Six Corners), Humphrey, Patton, Dosch, Cornell, Miller (especially south of Cornell), Canyon, Broadway Drive, Vista, Marquam Hill, Shattuck, 45th, Vermont (west of 45th) and more…

Note that this list is almost every single road with even moderate traffic in the area. No wonder nobody in southwest bikes anywhere; it’s impossible to do so safely unless you’re on one of the very few acceptable corridors like Beaverton-Hillsdale or Capitol.

Michael
Michael
3 months ago
Reply to   

It’s one of the major reasons I didn’t bike when I lived in West Haven-Sylvan. It’s just not an okay place to bike. Add to that the 58 bus only comes every 30 minutes at peak times (and is still often late or canceled), being 36 minutes from the Washington Park MAX station and 32 minutes along winding roads with blind curves and no sidewalks to the 20 bus, and it’s no wonder I only ever drove anywhere. It wasn’t until I moved to NE that I felt confident in being able to bike and bus myself around.

Ted Gresh
Ted Gresh
3 months ago
Reply to   

When I look at a Strava heat map, it appears to me that there are lots of people riding the roads in SW. I know I ride on many of the roads you mention pretty often. I live in N. Portland so I go out of my way to ride roads like Skyline, Dosch, and Miller. so I amnot sure it is accurate to say they are impossible to ride safely.

Justin
Justin
3 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Germantown road is a suicide mission.

Ted Gresh
Ted Gresh
3 months ago
Reply to  Justin

I assume you mean riding up Germantown…Have there been many bike/car collisions with riders going up?

Christian
Christian
3 months ago

I’d add the local business ridewithgps to the discussion of how to find routes. It’s free and good.

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
3 months ago
Reply to  Christian

To add to Christians comment, comparing RideWithGPS and google suggested routes is a big help as there are often notable differences in the suggested routes produced between any to points.

RWGPS route building online is simple to learn, in my opinion. The control points are a nice way to adjust a route, I haven’t had as much success with these from google, as the route will often update in real time on my phone. I have also noticed that when routing with google, elevation can be played down, be sure to click/touch the often “mostly flat” description, you may be surprised to find a punchy hill hidden in the detailed elevation graph.

Arturo P
Arturo P
3 months ago

I’m worried about crazy drivers, especially those without license plates.

Jakob Bernardson
Jakob Bernardson
3 months ago

Rule #1:

Loose the bleeping phone and pay attention!

idlebytes
idlebytes
3 months ago

I’ve got a very different experience using bells. If the person is on a multi-use path where they expect bike riders and are walking in an appropriate position ringing the bell seems to confuse them more often than not. They take it as a suggestion to change their position and will step in front of me. I only use the bell if I can’t get around them with enough distance. It’s much better to slow down and pass with as much distance as possible.

John
John
3 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

Yeah, it has a similar vibe to honking your horn. If you honk your horn at a cyclist as you pass, you’re likely to startle them into doing something unexpected. Drivers know it and do it maliciously (IMO). A bell is at least a little more pleasant sounding, and you can be more or less aggressive with it. But I still think it has a similar startling effect. For that matter, joggers who are often going a significant portion of my moving speed (so they’re harder to pass) and wear earbuds, are even easier to startle. You just shouldn’t be passing really fast. Slow down, be careful and give a wide berth!

Not to say a bell never has any use.

Dan B
Dan B
3 months ago
Reply to  John

30 years ago my neighbors child gave me their bell because he thought he was too big for it. I’ve had that bell on my bike since then, and it make me sound like the icecream man. I also loudly call out that “I’m on your left” well before I get to pedestrians or other bikes.

J1mb0
J1mb0
3 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I ride on Fanno Creek a lot, and I ring my bell a lot. I found that the kind of bell really makes a difference. There are bells that sound more like a hello than a car horn, a softer longer ding-a-ling than a sharp sudden ding. It really does elicit a different reaction in my experience. I get a lot more waves than sudden jumps.

Phil
Phil
3 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I’ve had good results with ringing my bell while I’m still a good distance away. It’s enough to get many people’s attention without startling them. It gives them time to react without me having to worry that they will move the wrong way and step in front of me.

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
3 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I’m a longtime cyclist and runner, so I’ve been on both sides of this issue. I’ve found bike bells to be the simplest and most effective way to signal my presence when approaching and passing pedestrians and other cyclists.

FWIW, I have Spurcycle bells on all three of my bikes. They’re pricey but they’re made in the USA and guaranteed for life. And they sound beautiful! [I do not have any relationship to Spurcycle, officially or otherwise.]

John
John
3 months ago

What can drivers be doing better to ensure writers safety while sharing the road?

A little self-interested there, huh Jonathan? 😉

Jose Jimenez
Jose Jimenez
3 months ago

For the most part, my commutes havent changed in the last 10 years. I ride from Gresham into Downtown regularly and the only spaces I tend to white knuckle my bars is between 122nd and 82nd, in both directions. I mainly use the greenways from Gresham to Downtown but I sometimes have to take Division down by the Tabor neighborhood and I get a sense that people are not happy about the structure there. I’ll have cars speed up to enter a parking lot, just the other day I smashed into someone’s passenger window because they were trying to beat me to enter a Starbucks on Division near 122nd. No injuries luckily but I do have to keep looking around and slow down, I’ve gotten good at predicting who doesn’t signal before turning. Cars have also parked in the bike lane, causing me to go into the main road (I don’t trust the sidewalks) and then if there are cars, after I get back in the bike lane, they speed up, only to slow down because of the light change. That’s my experience on that road, Burnside for the most part has been good but I run into a lot of broken glass on that road. I always check my tire pressure before leaving and I bring a reflective vest and lights, sometimes I have to ride back home at night. Usually let cars go past me and I’ll get as close as I can get to the sidewalk if there are not cars parked. I do that because I have noticed recently, cars have been going into the left lane to give me space and in a couple occasions, they had to speed up because of on coming traffic. I need room but they give too much that it risks others to slow down or swerve. Luckily, I’ve ridden bikes my whole life and had the chance to explore the city, so I haven’t had to use any apps to navigate but I occasionally use Strava and see what other routes people use to get around and it’s a fun way to learn about cutty routes.

idlebytes
idlebytes
3 months ago
Reply to  Jose Jimenez

I mainly use the greenways from Gresham to Downtown but I sometimes have to take Division down by the Tabor neighborhood and I get a sense that people are not happy about the structure there.

That part of Division is not real bike infrastructure. Like the lanes on 102nd or Halsey they just added them to narrow the lanes to slow drivers down. It’s better to suffer going over Tabor or go out of the way to go to Clinton when I’m too tired or it’s too hot for Tabor. I really wish they would carve out a piece of the off leash dog area at Tabor for a path that avoids having to go over Tabor but I doubt that will happen in my lifetime. It would make that greenway a lot more accessible if they did.

EP
EP
3 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

It’s about a 100′ climb to go up and over the south side of Tabor on the Lincoln/Harrison greenway between 60th and 72nd. Just enough of a hill to make me avoid it most of the time. That is, UNTIL I bought an e-cargo bike. Now I take it all the time, and it’s no big deal. It’s fairly amazing what e-assist does for instances like that.

dw
dw
3 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I occasionally use lanes on Division from 60th to 82nd. They aren’t protected but they’re wide enough for experienced riders I suppose.

I agree that a cut-through for the south side of tabor is needed but I’d take a diverter to keep people from using Harrison as cut-through when driving. I don’t mind huffing and puffing up the hill as long as I’m not going to get run over doing it.

They are building a multi-use path from Lincoln-64th as part of the Parks maintenance facility rebuild though. Assuming it has a good crossing, it will eliminate some of the stress of getting from Lincoln eastbound down to Division. If they could rebuild the bike lanes on Division from 60th – 82nd to be sidewalk level or curb-proteced I think it would really close a big gap in the network.

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
3 months ago
Reply to  Jose Jimenez

FYI to the readers, Strava has a global heatmap, zooming in past a point does require a free account, but it can be fun to look at and use as a reference.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
3 months ago

What is really cool about these heat maps from Strava is that in a highly segregated city like where I live (Greensboro NC), it starkly shows the richer (i.e. “white”) parts of town with lots of red and other colors, whereas the poorer parts of town (i.e. “black”) often have no lines at all or only along certain low-volume arterial streets. Same in most other cities.

dw
dw
3 months ago
Reply to  Jose Jimenez

My commute takes me from 122nd to 82nd near Division too. Riding on Division isn’t bad, but there are a lot of conflict points like you mentioned. Market/Mill is a pretty good route and there’s a calm bridge over 205, compared to the mess that ODOT built at 205/Division.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
3 months ago

After witnessing an aggressive bicycle culture in Atlanta for a few weekdays this summer, I now wonder is the “separate but equal” bike facilities that most US cities have (including Portland) tends to encourage a wimpy set of users and low expectations (including for myself.) I saw lots of cyclists and electric unicyclists using the left traffic lane, and not just the right-hand gutter full of debris, to get around.

mc
mc
3 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

bike facilities that most US cities have (including Portland) tends to encourage a wimpy set of users.

What the…?!?! So kids, women, new bike riders, students, older folks, commuters and errand runners who aren’t part of the lycra-clad club are all “wimpy”?

I never saw a bike lane or bike bus for my first 3 decades as a cyclist. Much less car traffic, I was young, dumb & lucky. If you grow up somewhere as a vehicular cyclist, that’s just the water you swim in, but that doesn’t make other people who want to get around town on their bikes w/o mixing it up with tons of metal, traveling fast w. clueless operators behind the wheel are “wimps.

I prefer to be a vehicular cyclist, as many bike lanes in traffic are along high traffic streets on which people also speed.

Bad, confusing, inconsistent, and disconnected bike infrastructure doesn’t make the roads, not too mention when you try to use it, it’s either filled with debris, blocked by vehicles or lined with RVs.

Ted Gresh
Ted Gresh
3 months ago
Reply to  mc

Wimpy is judgemental and unfair. lycra-clad club is also judgmental. Cycling is a skill and there are those that ave more skill and those with less, regardless of the type of clothes they wear. That is like saying a beginner skier who doe not go down double-black diamonds is a wimp. I do think that much of the rhetoric here probably scares many cyclists from cycling more. The streets are safer than many new cyclist think and the best way to get be safer is to become a better cyclist by cycling more.

KC
KC
3 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

David, do you know the numbers of collisions between cyclists and MVs in Atlanta? https://gdot.aashtowaresafety.net/crash-data#/ seems like there was a big dip from 2018-2020, then really spiked up in 2022.

https://www.atlantamagazine.com/news-culture-articles/why-are-pedestrian-and-bicyclist-deaths-increasing-in-metro-atlanta/
Maybe assertion isn’t the way? Maybe Atlanta deserves safer options?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
3 months ago

Ring ring: You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  David Hampsten

Jonathan, David is still having problems with the annoying msg.

Matt
Matt
3 months ago

I have a safety concern, actually with regard to the lead photo: That Honda is a coupe, which means it has extra-long doors (to allow ingress/egress to the rear seats), and it has blacked out windows so you can’t tell if there’s anybody inside the vehicle. That’s a door-zone danger double whammy! Move to the left! This is a classic “hazard” exemption to the mandatory bike lane use law (ORS 814.420).

Jay T.
3 months ago
  • What are the three things you check for before heading out on ride so you’re not accidentally creating a hazard for yourself?

The classic procedure is ABC Quick Check: Air, Brakes, Chain, Quick release levers, Check for rideability. https://bikeleague.org/videos/basic-bike-check

I thought you nailed an important point when you suggested riding visibly: in a straight line that’s not hugging the curb or dodging in and out between parked cars.

Bike Loud PDX is now offering some opportunities to learn skills at https://bikeloudpdx.org/learn-to-bike-safely. Viv J. offered a Pedalpalooza event a couple of days ago for basic biking skills.

Jacqueline Lukad
Jacqueline Lukad
3 months ago

I had a horrible bike accident on South Bond Avenue and South Lowell last Monday. We bike a few times a week and choose this bike route for the available bike lanes. On our way back the bike lane and one of the lanes of traffic where blocked off by orange cones leaving little space to bike between the cones and street car track. When I attempted to cross the tracks my front wheel got stuck and I fell sideways and fell on my left shoulder. I broke my shoulder in four places. Where were the city workers supervising to make sure the street was closed properly?

Dan B
Dan B
3 months ago

I guess riding in Portland 20 years ago was a much different world. I rode with PUMP or Bike Gallery groups a lot. We would get the occasional yahoo, but for the most part we, or even I by myself, dealt with few entitled drivers. A couple of taps on a drivers door woke them up that you didn’t appreciate being squeezed. After both my knees were replaced I quit group rides, but I still walked . I needed to protect my 80 grand investment, so I quit competing for lane space. I actually met more dangerous drivers as a pedestrian in crosswalks , I was not looking at a phone, or listening to music, but took long strolls following rules of the road, and used a walking stick as my guage for proximity. You are the only person concerned with your safety, so take any steps necessary to protect yourself.

mc
mc
3 months ago

Have you noticed commuting by bike getting more dangerous in Portland?

Bad question. Commuting is a very personal experience depending on where one is commuting to/fro, the time of day commuting, commuting route, etc.

What are some other safety concerns you see while riding?

Casual traffic violation by motorists like driving through red lights, stop signs and just driving too fast.

How can bicyclists find the safest routes to get around?

Yes. neighborhood greenways are generally the safest but I could see how people new to PDX or new to biking around town could easily end up in unsafe situations trying to get to a place just by Greenways.

What are the three things you check for before heading out on ride so you’re not accidentally creating a hazard for yourself?

  1. Bike – Brakes, tire pressure, etc.
  2. Lights if I’ll be out in dark and/or rainy conditions.
  3. Tea & water so I can stay alert & hydrated.

What can drivers be doing better to ensure riders’ safety while sharing the road?

Know the traffic laws and abide by them as they created to make the roads safe for ALL users. Life is hard enough, who wants to live with seriously injuring or killing someone on their way to work or on the way home.

Joshua
Joshua
3 months ago

As a daily commuter that bikes to downtown, I am scared of impatient and impulsive drivers. I am annoyed by new and irresponsible e-bike riders going 30mph on mixed use trails. But, my big threats come from PBOT developments that are not thought out and construction diversions that force me to interact too closely with aforementioned impatient drivers.

Sam
Sam
3 months ago

How about a global comment? “Safety” concerns about bicycling are hugely overblown by most bike advocates, and thus by journalists and the general public. That propaganda makes people believe they can’t be “safe” on a bike unless they wear a funny foam hat and glaring bright clothes, light up like a police cruiser even in daytime and ride only where there’s some weird barrier, stripe or green paint.

Can’t we look at data on what’s safe and what’s not? Motorcycling, swimming and even walking are far worse causes of death. Basketball, pickleball, and even gardening are worse for injuries. Just “living” has a higher fatality-per-hour risk. Well over half a million annual deaths from cardiac problems absolutely dwarf any bike safety problem. And biking reduces cardiac deaths! Over and over, researchers have found riding bikes has benefits far greater than risks. It’s safer to ride than to not ride!

Bicycling IS safe by any realistic standard. It’s even safer if riders do simple things like obey traffic laws. Lets please stop telling people its dangerous and needs all sorts of strange special precautions. Lets stop scaring people away from bicycling.

ShadowsFolly
ShadowsFolly
3 months ago
Reply to  Sam

I was a biker for 30+ years until recent events. I was the type that took the lane to go through areas, the one that put me and my bike in harms way to block a-hole drivers.
In the past few years I’ve encountered such disregard for my safety by others that I’ve given up cycling. For a while I even gave up walking for similar reasons.
So it’s great you feel safe, and others feel safe, but for ME I don’t.
Until the roads are designed to keep autos away from (concrete barriers maybe) cyclists and pedestrians I’m going to error on keeping my life and limb as that’s my primary job with my family

John
John
3 months ago
Reply to  ShadowsFolly

For the general non-cycling public, I’d say the vibes based “it doesn’t seem safe” is a valid concern, or at least it matters what they think. I have empathy for that feeling because it’s a big unknown. For you? That makes no sense. It has definitely been less safe to bike sometime in that 30+ years you were a cyclist. And with less infrastructure. The numbers simply don’t bear out your fear of “recent events”.

eg
eg
3 months ago
Reply to  Sam

i have worked over 15 yrs in an orthopedic clinic and one should absolutely wear a “funny foam hat” AKA a helmet on every single bike ride. suggesting this idea is foolish is pretty short-sighted.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  eg

A helmet is a very cheap form of insurance against a rare but life-altering injury.

I didn’t create that formulation, but I think it’s spot on.

John
John
3 months ago
Reply to  Sam

I hate when people rattle off context-free stats or assertions like this because it is completely ambiguous. Yeah more people are dying from cardiac problems than cycling. But is that because every person has a heart and not that many people bike? Or is it because biking is just that astronomically safe? Who knows, you didn’t give even a hint of justification for this. Is gardening a bigger cause of injuries, but they’re all like, a strained back? Whereas cycling might be broken bones? Who knows, you’re just comparing unexplained nonsense.
I don’t know if the danger of cycling is overblown. It would seem so, as even in Portland it is very rare for someone to die on a bike (although using death as the only metric is stupid, serious injuries are also really important). But just saying more people die of cardiac arrest than cycling is comparing apples to oranges without more context.

Ted Gresh
Ted Gresh
3 months ago
Reply to  John

I agree with you particularly about the context-free stats. Tallying traffic deaths that includes drivers going the wrong way down I-5 is not helpful. Everyone’s experience will be different and someone that has multiple incidents happen in a short period of time will “feel” less safe but considering the vast number of variables in each situation it would be difficult makes an a+b=c relationship.

KC
KC
3 months ago
Reply to  Sam

Uhh are you equating with the risks of cycling alone? Cause we’re having a conversation about the safety of interactions between motor traffic and bikes. Sure, the risks of biking are comparable with lots of other active sports. But Sam, people aren’t skiing in the street with trucks/buses/cars. Wear a damn helmet.

Llee
Llee
3 months ago
  • What are some other safety concerns you see while riding?

I saw a rider get doored once & I’ll never forget it. Some bike lanes are too close to parked cars. Just because it is a bike lane doesn’t mean that distance is safe. As you mentioned, don’t weave in and out- take it wide and stay there if you need it for safety,
I’m commonly passed by e-bikes on either side without warning. A little courtesy is to pass on the correct side and not too closely. I love an “on your left,” but those are rare. We’re sharing the same roads & lanes but having that difference in speeds can be a challenge to riding safely.

  • What are the three things you check for before heading out on ride so you’re not accidentally creating a hazard for yourself?

I ride with a dynamo that powers my front and rear lights so I never have to worry about batteries. I always check that I have my flat repair kit and hex keys. Safety includes being able to take care of yourself if a problem occurs.

  • What can drivers be doing better to ensure riders’ safety while sharing the road?

Geez. Be aware, use signals, stop at stop signs and then look, remember how easily you can kill someone with your car.

maxD
maxD
3 months ago

Have you noticed commuting by bike getting more dangerous in Portland?

Yes! People seem to be driving faster, passing closer, and running stoplights/sings frequently. ‘No Left’ and ‘no turn on red’ signs are almost universally ignored. The delivery drivers and uber/lyfts have become ubiquitous and they all use bike lanes to stop- it is significant inconvenience and safety risk.

What are some other safety concerns you see while riding?

PBOT has done a terrible job with their new infrastructure. They are closing crosswalks instead of taming traffic, even in the central City (Naito, SE Main), they are compromising pedestrian safety and bike safety to make driving fast and easy (NE 7th/Tillamook, NE Skidmore), they are painting sharrows implying that a route is a greenway without any safety additions like stop signs/diversion (NE 7th, N Shaver, etc, etc), PBOT allows driving on greenways making them unsafe for walking and biking (N Going, N Greeley), speed limits are too high, parking is allowed too close to intersections, bike signage is way too small and not illuminated (illegible on dark, rainy nights- do not try to navigate a greenway in November!)

How can bicyclists find the safest routes to get around?

Ask friend to rides for advice, Ride with GPS, City bike maps (note: these do not highlight the dangerous gaps well enough, be prepared for a bike route to simply end or disappear for a bit- See N Interstate @ Larrabee viaduct)

Are there any routes that are way too dangerous for bicyclists?

The MUP along Columbia/Marine is pretty sketchy during the week, Greely MUP, Interstate Ave at Moda during events, Skyline and Germantown have gotten pretty bad, Sauvie Island, Better Naito at the Steel Bridge at night (the lights are all out, again),

Are there any apps or websites where people can plan their trips?

RidewithGPS,
https://www.portland.gov/transportation/walking-biking-transit-safety/bike-and-walk-maps-portland

What are the three things you check for before heading out on ride so you’re not accidentally creating a hazard for yourself?

Lights, tire pressure, route

What can drivers be doing better to ensure riders’ safety while sharing the road?

See bikes and know that if they are on the road, they belong, just like any other traffic user. No need to honk, or tailgate, or even pass. Stop at stop signs- a real, all the way, stop behind the crosswalk, and look both ways to see if a sidewalk user is there. No phones, not even at stop lights- just pay attention. Slow down.

Aaron K
Aaron K
3 months ago

Way to call attention to the tinted windows problem. They are default on new cars now and have been for many years as a sales gimmick. Combined with super large vehicle sizes, not only is it difficult to make eye contact, but near impossible to look through windows to see traffic behind the first vehicle. This means vehicles have to pull out further into the intersection to look for oncoming traffic, and often don’t see other road users. We can’t react to what we don’t see, and now we don’t see a LOT.

Aaron K
Aaron K
3 months ago

I appreciate the host bringing up GPS apps (Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze, etc) directing drivers to use our Neighborhood Greenway system. There are strategies for getting mapping companies to provide better products, but the most immediate is for the city to install diverters that physically obstruct cut-through traffic on bicycle and pedestrian priority streets, making these routes less attractive to drivers and their primitive algorithms.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
3 months ago
Reply to  Aaron K

There has been an increase in large freight trucks (some of which drive aggressively) using neighborhood greenways.

John
John
3 months ago
Reply to  Aaron K

Yeah, I really wish we could get some widespread adoption of diverters. The handful of places I see them, they are fantastic. They’re this perfect little filter that lets you bike through and keeps car traffic super low. It should be low hanging fruit to install those all over the place. I feel like even the locals benefit because again, it reduces cut through traffic without even taking lanes away from drivers (which I’d love to do of course).

It’s stuff like this, easy wins that PBOT could do (I assume?) if they had any initiative whatsoever. It’s basically like what Hardesty was lambasted for with the orange barrels, but damn, those work. And it’s cheap to do.

JP
JP
3 months ago

A lot of people think that conflicts with cars are the only danger while riding a bike, but neglected pavement can be all it takes to land you in the hospital. Ask me how I know. We need to insist that our streets are properly maintained and free of potholes, tree roots, and other hazards.

dw
dw
3 months ago
Reply to  JP

And clean the damn bike lanes! I got 3 flats in a week from broken glass in bike lanes and wet leaves are straight up deadly.

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
3 months ago

… fatal bike crashes have remained at zero or very low for years now …

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There is a lot of traffic violence that doesn’t result in death. It’s natural (and important!) to focus on fatalities, but while doing so let’s not forget the larger picture, which also includes injuries that can range from “small” things like road rash and broken bones to huge ones, such as brain injury and lifelong disability.

That’s not to mention the ever-present sense of anxiety or sometimes even terror experienced every day by pedestrians and cyclists who “share the road” with increasingly enormous, heavy vehicles operated by impatient, speeding, distracted drivers.

That anxiety is impossible to quantify. But it’s very real, and it takes a toll.

Ted Gresh
Ted Gresh
3 months ago

Have you noticed commuting by bike getting more dangerous in Portland?Streets are busier with cars but where I ride, I have not noticed a rise in situations where I felt a collision would/could occur. Ride roads appropriate for bikes, pay attention and follow the rules, and know your abilities and things will be fine. What I think get the most attention is the tragic accidents that happen in an instant. I don’t think every single one o these should be a referendum on safety in the city. Considering the 1,000s of bikes out there eery day and the 100,000s of cars I feel the number of incidents is low.
What are some other safety concerns you see while riding?Cars speeding, cars turning without looking, bike riders being tentative/unsure, Bikes being aggressive towards cars

How can bicyclists find the safest routes to get around?Ride different routes and find which are safest at the times that they will ride them. More direct routes can be more comfortable at certain times of the day, less direct routes may be better during busier times.

Are there any routes that are way too dangerous for bicyclists?”way too dangerous”? Really? what does that mean? There are lots of roads that would be crazy for a cyclist and I think that is fine. I do not think cyclists should have equal access to any road in the city. Some are meant for cars and bikes do not belong (i.e. MLK, Cesar Chavez, Powell, West Burnside).

Are there any apps or websites where people can plan their trips?Yes

What are the three things you check for before heading out on ride so you’re not accidentally creating a hazard for yourself?Tire Pressure, seat height, drive train is well lubed.

What can drivers be doing better to ensure riders’ safety while sharing the road?Have a mindset that they are sharing the road.

dw
dw
3 months ago

Not sure if I missed the bus on this one – but I finally listened to the interview. I think Jonathan accurately articulates many of the challenges and dangers (and benefits!!) that come with biking around the city.

One thing he didn’t mention that I’ve been struggling with lately is so-called “niceholes”. I was waiting at a stop sign on a cross street of one of the two-lane one ways in the central eastside. I think Belmont. Someone was turning on to the cross street, put their signal on, then stopped like halfway through the turn to try and wave me through. I said, “no thanks, I have a stop sign, you have the right-of-way”. They rolled down their window and said in a very annoyed tone, “I’m waiting for you!”. I tried to explain that 1) they have the right of way, I am waiting at a stop sign. They wouldn’t try to wave a car through and 2) it wasn’t safe for me to go anyway, there was traffic zipping by in the other lane. Just let me wait for a gap when the light changes up the street. This person just blew me off and kept trying to get me to go in an increasingly aggressive tone. I eventually just got off my bike and stood on the sidewalk until they just moved on.

It’s so frustrating to have drivers just make up their own rules and then get angry when you don’t comply with their imagined scenario.

Anonymous MTBr
Anonymous MTBr
3 months ago

I don’t live in Portland. I don’t live anywhere near Portland. But as I am a biker, Google recommended this article to me. I work at a bike shop, and most of the other employees are road bikers that do group rides with ~100 people or more after work most days. I don’t. I am a mountain biker.
My biggest thing (complaint) about other drivers is: if there is a biker or bikers on the shoulder, GET THE HECK OVER INTO THE NEXT LANE. I always ensure that I leave these people plenty of space but they refuse to merge into the other lane. And, even though the speed limit on the road is 35, people do 55 easy. So these bikers going 20 are getting passed by cars going 45 (at least they slow down for them, I guess) within a foot or two of them.
Thanks for listening to my rant.

David Storper
David Storper
3 days ago

One tip: get a three foot bike safety flag – it works! https://www.etsy.com/listing/537794419/take-your-lane-three-foot-adjustable