I feel that a large part of the problem is bicyclists schizophrenia. Are they following pedestrian rules, car rules, motorcycle rules or bicycle rules? All of the above, depending on which is best for the cyclist at that moment. If bicycles were simply required to follow the rules of motorcycles, a lot of problems would be avoided.
If cyclists were actually penalized for breaking said rules it would ease a lot of the conflict. What part of the word "sidewalk" says "Ride your bike here", I do not understand. Similarly, if I drove up the right side of a line of traffic to pass all those waiting at a light, I'd probably lose my license. Not to mention that doing so repeatedly puts the cyclist at risk because the same cars passing them have to pass them again and again.
We don't need more rules, we need simpler rules and we need those simpler rules to be enforced.
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Hello, as a cyclist who's ridden 20 years or so, I am comfortable in traffic and riding on the roads. However, I feel that bike lanes are helpful to give newer riders a clearly defined area to ride in. I feel that cars and bikes should follow the same road rules and receive the same penalties. One of my biggest peeves is when I'm stopped at a light on my bike and some other idiot on two wheels blows through in front of other drivers and riders. At the same time, I think Idaho's law of cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs is a good one.
I agree with 2wheels2go. It appears that John Schubert thinks 'vehicular cycling' (VC) is the only way to go. I believe Portland's approach allows for [b] both [/b] VC (for stronger riders who are comfortable with it) and mode-specific facilities such as bike lanes, bike boxes, etc. (for most of the rest of us). I believe Roger Geller when he explains that studies show that this set up is safe.
Bike lanes *per se* are not necessarily a safety problem and often can improve bicycling conditions. However, a serious and avoidable hazard arises from the City of Portland's defiance of nationally accepted bike lane design guidance to either discontinue the bike lane or dash its left bike lane stripe well in advance of intersections where right turns are permitted. This puts straight-through bicyclists in the blind spot of right-turning motorists, resulting in right-hook car-bike collisions, such as the two bicycling fatalities last October. A secondary safety problem is Oregon's statewide law that requires bicyclists to use bike lanes (with exceptions that still leave the burden of proof on an injured or ticketed bicyclist).
By giving its highest level (Platinum) award to Portland--without even admonishing the City for its defective and mandatory bike lane designs--the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) has violated it's own board-adopted policy positions on bicycle facilities, has disregarded the safety and travel rights of Portland bicyclists, and has devalued the sound vehicular-cycling principles that underlie LAB's own national bicyclist education program. In short, LAB has disgraced its Bicycle Friendly Community Program and has seriously harmed all bicyclists with an award that encourages other cities to copy Portland's dangerous bike lane designs.
Thank you, John Schubert, for speaking the inconvenient truth.
Portland frequently experiments with unapproved designs - they have to be field-tested *somewhere*
If Portland's practices are as dangerous as you claim, why then have injuries declined and fatalities remained constant while bike use has skyrocketed? The statistics and facts don't support your claims. In fact, they support exactly the opposite.
John Schubert hasn't spoken an inconveient truth, merely an inconvenient opinion - one which the facts do not support.
I heartily disagree with any "yeild at a stop sign" approach. It is an invitation in traffic for someone on a bicycle to act like they own the road and find a vehicle that has no reason to believe such moving into their path. Stop means stop for all of us, or it shouldn't be posted as such for any of us.
I definitely think that bicycles should be treated the same as cars, primarily for the safety of the bicyclists. If bicycles were treated differently, it would result in riders going wherever they want (of course they sometimes do anyways, regardless of how their treated by laws). Without treating them the same, it would be difficult to determine who is at fault when there is a collision between cyclists and vehicles. I think that bike lanes are very helpful when it comes to safety, as it clearly labels a lane of traffic for the cyclists. If not, the drivers could run bicyclists off the road and use the excuse that it's their road. If someone gets hit in a bike lane, it leaves no doubt that the driver was negligent.
i love bike lanes - they allow me a certain amount of comfort in riding to places that i otherwise wouldn't. Do they make cyclists safer on the road? Somewhat, i think, but there's no substitute for being an educated & skilled cyclist, which means: being aware of what the hazards are, controlling your bicycle, and staying aware of your surroundings. Same principals apply for drivers.
Bike lanes in Portland have raised the visibility of cyclists, provided a definite legitimacy for cyclists to use the road, and attracted a lot of people to cycling that might otherwise be driving. In my experience, 20 years ago it was not unusual to be harrassed by drivers; in recent years I can't think of a a single occurance.
Bike lanes: they're a good thing, but no substitute for cyclist & driver education. Some mutual respect & consideration would go a long way, too, to making our streets safer.
John Forester said it best: cyclists fare best when they behave and are treated as the operators of vehicles. To the extent that cyclists behave as vehicle operators, they give themselves the best options. To the extent that cycling facilities do not interfere with such an engineering model, they can work.
Where they break down is where cycling-specific facilities force cyclists to engage in behavior or in manuvering that is counterintuitive and unsafe, such as making a left turn from a right lane, overtaking slower vehicle traffic on the right side (blind spot), or being cut off by a right turning motorist. Etcetera. Not to mention being harassed when they are not in a cycling specific facility. That's for another rant.
Unfortunately, cycling facilities are not always constructed with such complexities in mind. Here they may fail.
When it comes to bike lanes I think both sides should credit the other a bit:
The pro bike lanes folks could admit:
* there are unresolved issues with bike lanes at intersections
* bike lanes can give an excuse to drivers to think that bikes don't
belong on the rest of the road
the Vehicular Cycling folks could admit:
* bike lanes are preferred by most cyclists (and thus increase the
number of riders on the road)
* more cyclists appears to a good thing from a safety standpoint (which
is really surprising when you realize that by definition a lot of the
new cyclists are inexperienced)
The pro bike lane folks could then work more on fixing their issues and
the VC folks could maybe actually help them do so.
When it comes to increasing cyclist safety what is most helpful is getting more cyclists out on the roads and clearly bike lanes are a means to this end. My guess is that without bike lanes a large number of cyclists would never venture out.
With that said, bike lanes are certainly the recipe for the dreaded right hook. Practical ways to fix this include better education of both drivers and cyclists, and, more importantly, increasing the number of cyclists riding with the confidence and smarts to take the full traffic lane when conditions warrant. Contrary to statements in this discussion a cyclist can legally leave the bike lane for several reasons including ?preparing to execute a left turn? and ?avoiding hazardous conditions?. This pretty much covers all urban conditions and I?ve never heard of anyone being challenged on this act. As someone who has commuted through downtown on Broadway everyday for years I often opt out of the bike lane and have never had a problem.
Bottom line, while re-engineering intersections, re-striping lane lines, and re-working hard fought pro-cyclist laws are certainly worthy undertakings that may increase safety, the more effective and expedient approach is to promote the safety achieved by existing laws and engineering. Call me simplistic, but it seems that lanes beget riders and riders beget safety. I believe the numbers support me.
ps: here is the Oregon Vehicle Code pertaining to this issue:
814.420 Failure to use bicycle lane or path; exceptions; penalty. (1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, a person commits the offense of failure to use a bicycle lane or path if the person operates a bicycle on any portion of a roadway that is not a bicycle lane or bicycle path when a bicycle lane or bicycle path is adjacent to or near the roadway.
(2) A person is not required to comply with this section unless the state or local authority with jurisdiction over the roadway finds, after public hearing, that the bicycle lane or bicycle path is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.
(3) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of:
(a) Overtaking and passing another bicycle, a vehicle or a pedestrian that is in the bicycle lane or path and passage cannot safely be made in the lane or path.
(b) Preparing to execute a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
(c) Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions.
(d) Preparing to execute a right turn where a right turn is authorized.
(e) Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right.
(4) The offense described in this section, failure to use a bicycle lane or path, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 ﾧ700; 1985 c.16 ﾧ338; 2005 c.316 ﾧ3]
While the temptation is for me to start a rant about poor rider behavior, I?ll just say I?m a trucker who has seen too many otherwise presumably sane folks behave as if they thought they were invulnerable when they mount a bicycle.
I think the biggest issue for everyone is education. But let me define, by everyone, I mean the four groups involved in the discussion: cyclists, passenger vehicle drivers, commercial drivers (emergency vehicles, trucks, and mass transit), and government.
For an environment like the Portland metro area, the greatest burden should be on government to make sure that motor vehicles are fairly notified that bicycles on surface streets have equal right of way. Bike boxes are a great example of something that anyone not from Portland will have no reason to understand. Because bike lanes exist, drivers not from town will understandably be confused if not irritated to have bikers impeding traffic flow without knowing that they have that right.
Why isn?t there something simple like overhead signage on all the majors telling cars and commercials that ?Bicyclists Have Equal Right-of-Way on Portland Metro Surface Streets? or something to that effect? I don?t mean some dinky sign that you risk your life or someone else?s to look over at and read, I mean standalone overheads in green and white on I-5, I-405, I-84, US26, US99, US30, and any other major inbound artery. The city grants special privileges, it should notify the rest of the driving public about it.
Next, one for the state, why isn?t there a bit more about what rights the bikes have in the driver handbook and on the test? Most of us know that cyclists have bike lanes because we know a motor vehicle driver who has gotten a ticket for being in one. But that begs the corollary, why isn?t there an actual ticketing policy for the VC group when they are impeding traffic just because they can (see Corvallis morning or afternoon crossing the bridges or running up US99W)?
Hmmm? must not rant about recumbent drivers in ?bike lanes? on major highway shoulders crossing the fog line like they think 55-60 MPH traffic should swerve or panic stop just because their weaving makes them look like they?re intoxicated? (if anyone reading this knows the guy who rides back and forth from Corvallis to at least Camp Adair on US99W, PLEASE tell him that he needs lessons in how to ride his bike; especially in poor weather, he?s an accident waiting to happen).
On a related note, we do need more bike lanes away from towns. Put them within the highway?s right-of-way but separate from the roadway itself; it would be cheaper than widening the road surface itself since shoulders have weight load requirements that require more engineering and construction than something for cycle or foot traffic. In places where such lanes exist and the actual roadway shoulder is too narrow for a cyclist to be entirely clear of the fog line (not just his/her tires), like between Monmouth and Rickreal, cyclists who are in the roadway should be ticketed if they slow traffic at all. Period. They aren?t, but they should be.
There are not only courtesies that need to be carried over to cycling as a vehicle, but realities of physics. For example, cyclists who have no clue about Newton?s Laws of Motion or Inertia should avoid sprinting out in front of loaded (or empty) semis and buses. If they have any unexpected problems, the commercial drive will wind up hurting them or some innocent in their vicinity. Problem is, I?d not be surprised to find that these same folks are a subgroup of those guilty of driving their cars with the same lack of awareness, so it is probably a bigger issue than just people powered transportation.
Local communities who want to encourage VC and motorist equality might also consider controlling speed limits on corridor streets to be closer to what the average ?vehicle? cyclist might actually accomplish (say 15 or 20 mph). This might have the effect also of creating cyclist arterials that motor drivers might actually recognize as places to abandon outside of actual need. After all, why dance your car around 50 cyclists when the cop on the corner will give you a ticket for going faster than they are? Law enforcement would probably favor this since it?s much easier to prosecute speeding than a judgment call about who is actually in the right in a fluid traffic flow.
One of the problems with granting full equal access at a state or local level is that we do not require a person who wants the VC status to pass a knowledge or driving skills test? so they go unregulated. But I submit that a test should exist and VC riders should be ticketed unless they can prove that they have the proper skills and knowledge (i.e. show a local or state license) to behave as an equal partner on surface streets. Should everyone be regulated just because five or ten percent of their group behaves poorly with their roadway privilege? Well, don?t we require helmets for motorcycles when only a fraction of riders will ever need them and some are more than willing to take the risk for their personal freedom?
How would we know? Same way we generally find out if a motorist is licensed: during a traffic stop or after an accident. No license would mean no legal authorization to be there, hence no right-of-way. Is that a perfect system? Nope, but we endure it in the motoring public; if cyclists want equal access, there should be equal burden and responsibility.
This is getting long. Sorry, I?m just realizing that I could do several essays on this from several perspectives.
What I would sum up to say is if bicyclists want equal right-of-way on sub-40mph roadways, fine? as long as they take equal responsibility and behave accordingly. If these rights are granted, then those who grant the rights have a burden to publicly and prominently inform the motoring public of these rules. Also, these same authorities have a responsibility to enforce the governing laws on the cycling public when they violate them just as they do with the motorized traffic within their jurisdictions. There should be zero attempt to give equal status on 40+ mph roadways; there, a bike between the fog lines should behave like any slow moving vehicle: triangle them and enforce pullouts when they're slowing 5 or more vehicles.
I certainly concur with pyranometer: a strong education program for cyclists would eliminate many of the dangers, since a cyclist would use the facility smartly and not put him/herself into harm's way (i.e., right hook, etc.). I have used bike lanes, even poorly designed ones, for years, without getting drilled.
My last post wasn't a criticism of the Portland system more than any other system--just a concern that cycling specific facilities, while providing many advantages to getting more people riding (in part simply by providing more space for vehicles to overtake each other, are not fault-proof, and must be ridden with skill and an alert mind. Congrats to Portland for its Platinum ranking, too.
Our society and the infrastructure that re-inforces it has been shaped by the availability of cheap oil. This has made the streets unsafe for bicyclists and pedestrians. The recent rise in fuel prices should be seen as an opportunity to improve the city with more people walking and bicycling. Ways to do this could include lowering speed limits, dedicating whole lanes/streets to bicyles, stiffening penalties for aggressive drivers. Or we could wait and see how fuel prices go. Or if all the mouth-breathers out there love the free market and loathe government intervention/spending so much, maybe we could stop subsidizing gasoline and then we can see how much it takes to satisfy your ribbon-sticker-on-wheels. Could that be the final progression of society?; a stereotypical third world country street scene with bikes and people crowding the street, rickshaws, and a car, I want to say a land rover, struggling to get through.
I have been teaching bicycling for the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) since 1985. I have bicycled in Portland, many other large cities and most US states as well as on Europe's special bicycling facilities. Having consistent roadway rules, courteous and legal behaviors among all motor vehicle and bicycle drivers (and pedestrians), and appropriate education and enforcement of traffic laws makes for safer streets... fewer surprises. I do not speak for the LAB, but I can safely state that Julie Sabatier is wrong when she states that LAB would disagree that "bicycles should be more integrated into automobile traffic" or that LAB endorses "keeping bike traffic to the right of cars, where cyclists often end up in drivers' blind spots." It just ain't so!
I expect the LAB award to Portland was decided because of Portland's substantial overall achievements at encouraging bicycling as a desirable transportation choice and did not, in my opinion, mean endorsement of each and every facility there. Decisions about what roadway design to use should be very much subject to the circumstances at each specific location and to the likely behaviors of the users expected there; "the devil is in the details." Portland, under Roger Geller, is experimenting with facility designs to encourage more and safer bicycling on public roadways and with some separated from motor vehicle routes. Some failures and learnings may result; we all hope no more deaths or injuries occur while we in the US learn how to share the roads.
Although it seems that many people in the US think otherwise, it is my opinion supported by traffic laws in all states that roads are for people not just for people in cars. The sooner we all learn to integrate uses and are able to choose among available transportation mode choices with relative safety, the better off each of us and the US will be - economically, environmentally - locally and globally, and health-wise - personally and community wide!
I'm excited to hear the perspectives on this upcoming show. I've lived in Portland for three years now and have found that it's much more bike friendly than any city I've lived in previously. I feel that the city has done an exemplary job in planning and execution to accommodate bicycle traffic. Certainly there are more steps to be taken to increase safety for all road users (the new green bike boxes are a good start).
I feel the biggest breakdown lies within individuals. I hate to say it, but it seems like attitudes are trending towards feelings of entitlement more and more...I see this with cyclists, peds and people in autos. Portland can install and enforce traffic safety all day and night but in the end, it's going to be up to individuals to take the steps necessary to keep traffic of all kinds flowing safely.
BTW - I'm a cyclist, I work in the bike industry and while I don't have to commute to work myself, I accompany my wife to and from school as often as possible. Truth be told, most of my negative traffic interactions are with pedestrians and other cyclists who seem to be only looking out for cars when they make decisions in traffic (like whether or not to step out from between parked cars, or to roll through a stop sign [I can't tell you how many times I've nearly t-boned a cyclist when they blast through stops, it's my #1 peeve])
Thanks for the great programming. I listen every day before walking out to my shop.
Portland, and the west coast in general, is a polarized place. Everthing is a political statement. Why can't a bike ride just be a bike ride? In Minnesota, where I grew up, people rode bikes and people drove cars, and it was just that. Nobody was making a political statement. Grow up Portland.
Hi fatmidwesternwhiteguy -
Where are you from in Minnesota? My mom grew up there and I remember Minneapolis does have those great double paths around the lakes - one for wheeled transport (non-motorized) and one for foot transport, I think.
I always thought that meant the planners there realized early on different kinds of transport are better separated. Political?
Enjoy your rides!
If bicycles are to be part of traffic, then they should be licensed like automobiles. Why shouldn't they pass a test and have a license plate if they are going to be on the road?
Don't think they need an operator's license but I agree with bethmonkey - put a license plate and rego sticker on them. I'm just surprised the powers that be are missing an opportunity to generate revenue. Of couse, I think cats ought to be subject to the same licensing and enforcement regulations that apply to dogs.
Yes. While it would seem impractical to license every bike owner, I have often wondered if permits could be required for use of designated bike lanes and (most especially) bridges. This would make education and enforcement easier and create a population of permitted bikers with a stake in keeping the bike routes safe.
Yes, I think, this is sort of a good idea! But, on the other hand, a bike is intrisincally different then a car. If you CAN ride a bike then you do indeed know HOW to ride a bike---although perhaps not how to follow traffic rules. So there is a fundamental difference between riding a bike and a car, maybe?
What is the difference? You have to learn to ride a bike, just as you have to learn to drive an automobile. If you CAN drive a car, then you know HOW to drive a car. You may not do it well, or wisely -- but the same may be said of people who can balance on two wheels.
Bicyclists are subject to the same traffic laws as drivers of cars. More to the point, both bicycles and automobiles are subject to the same laws of physics. The only real difference would seem to be that a collision between a bike and a car is much more likely to be lethal for the the bicyclist than for the driver of the car.
Yes, I realize this. But there is clearly something fundamentally basic and simple about a bike. Cars and bikes as machines are not equal in terms of complexity or difficulty. As much as I personally love the idea of cyclists needing a license, it seems inequitable. It takes away from the freedom of what a bike is!
I disagree. Bikes are cheaper than cars, but there is nothing about the operation of bicycle that is more intuitive or in -- any meaninful way -- simpler than the operation of a modern automobile.
As for the "freedom of what a bike is" Is riding a bike a right? Or, more on topic, is riding a bike on a city street a right?
As I said, I do not think that it would be practical to license every bicyclist, but I do wonder if it would be possible to issue permits for the bike lanes (on major commuter routes), and to ride a bike over the bridges.
Just to be clear, in case it isn't, my first response was not to your comment, it was a response to the comment of "bethymonkey." Then you replied to my comment, maybe thinking it was initially a response to yours? Or maybe not. I never read your response to "bethymonkey" - I read it now - it makes sense.
Anyway, price has nothing to do with it. A bike is a simple machine or at least it can be. It relies on human energy to cause movement. It is in no way equitable to the complexity or difficulty of what a car is, how it functions and how you operate it. Its pretty complex to operate a manual automobile, perhaps less so an automatic. Maybe, sometimes the smaller the car the easier it becomes? Example: Parallel park a small car or a big car? Parallel park a Hummer or a Fortwo. Park a bike.
Yes, I understood that we were both replying to the same initial comment. I also understood that you probably had not read my response, which is why I repeated the suggestion that the permits apply only to certain uses.
I suspect that your feeling -- that operating a bicycle is less complicated than operating an automobile would change -- if we took the time to educate bicyclists the way that we educate drivers.
When I say a bike is cheaper, I mean that bikes represent a smaller replacement cost, and have a lower cost of ownership, than automobiles. This is why we give them to children, and is a large part of why bikes are not treated as vehicles in the same way as automobiles.
I present (without autoritative citation) my assertion that, for most folks, learning to drive a car involves operating a machine which represents a subtantial fraction of some other person's net worth. In this context, it is my contention, the owner/instructor has an incentive to instill habitual care and caution in the student.
I further assert that this is not the case for most beginning bicyclists.
Furthermore, an automobile has a much greater potential for causing injury or property damage than a bicycle. For legislators and law enforcement, this makes educating drivers and regulating the activities of automobile operators a higher priority than regulating the activities of bicyclists.
Certainly the individual tasks that are common to riding a bicycle and driving a car will vary in difficulty. However, I still assert that -- taken together -- the tasks involved in operating a bicycle do not require less skill or attention than the tasks involved in operating an automobile.
Think of the skills and knowledge that you must demonstrate to obtain an automobile operator's license. You do not have to understand the theory behind the internal combustion engine. You don't have demonstrate that you can drive a stick-shift. You have to demonstrate that you can see well enough to read road signs and that you know what they mean. You then have to demonstrate sufficient motor coordination to drive a slalom, execute a k-turn, and parallel park. The practical portion of the test is given -- in most cases -- only once during a driver's lifetime.
A bike permit might require no more than a written test on the relevant traffic laws and expected behaviors for bicyclists sharing the road with motor vhehicles.
I ask again, is riding a bike on city streets a right?
Edited for typos and to complete a poorly expressed thought.
Again, cheapness-newly defined, has nothing to do with it.
There is still an inherent difference of scale between a bike and car that you didn't cover. I have no stake in bikes, so it is odd that I am defending them, as you can see from my other comments I find the culture annoying, which I admit is partly irrational.
But, yes, people have a right to ride on the street if they need to. Clearly even to get from one sidewalk to another they must do so. If you go to a friend's house, who lives in a city, and everyone is biking to the park---they have an extra bike and ask you to go---I hardly think this requires a permit, license or otherwise. You are asking to draw lines and I don't see how they could be drawn sensibly without harming the simplicity and freedom of what a bike is and some of its uses.
I was editing my post while you were replying to -- the admins might want to put a time limit on edits.
The thought I was trying to articulate is this: Our attitudes towards owning and operating cars differ from our attitudes towards owning and operating bicycles because bicycles represent a smaller investment.
The consequences of being a bad driver are potentially much more costly to other people than the are the consequences of being stupid on a bike.
But isn't it possible, that there is something to the idea, that it is just a simple machine with few degrees of separation between the operator and the outcome of movement, that has something to do with this? Paddle boat versus power boat.
Perhaps its only the danger. Or, perhaps somewhere we think the simplicity of these machines also shouldn't be regulated. Perhaps we feel these are like skates and skateboards, or more accurately canoes and rowboats; basic ways to get from A to B, that we don't want to muck-up.
I really don't know. It would honestly not occur to me that a simpler machine, with a more visible mechanism, would necessarily be simpler to operate. I may not be typical. To me, it seems more likely, that the difference in attitudes is driven by economic considerations. Your mileage -- obviously -- may vary.
Not to be glib, but does a gas oven seem simpler to you than a microwave oven?
As for why we do not regulate bicycles, I think that is because the population of bicyclists on the road has been small and the costs of imposing regulation would have been seen as prohibitive. Because we have -- in the United States -- been trained think of bicycle commuters as a curiosity and an annoyance.
The mysterious and ill-considered green boxes are a response to a perceived change the interaction between cars and bikes in Portland.
As for the right to ride a bike, I am not so sure. I would tend to agree with you, except that the city is now imposing additional restrictions upon those who have applied for the privilege to operate automobiles and motorcycles, restrictions intended to accommodate bicyclists on streets and bridges. We do not blink at laws which forbid bicycles on the freeway. Bicyclists are not supposed to ride on sidewalks. These restrictions would seem to indicate that -- like driving a car -- the right to use a bicycle is subject to limitations for the safety and convenience of car drivers and pedestrians.
I am not proposing that a permit be required for every use of a bicycle, but I don't know that the right to use a bicycle on city streets ought to be exempt from regulation intended to make the biking population more aware of, and careful about, the dangers of sharing the road with automobiles.
What is to prevent Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, ... Medford, Ashland etc. from creating bike boxes with slightly different rules than Portland?
When I heard about bike boxes in Portland (TV news), I could not believe that cars were not permitted to make a right hand turn on a red light. When I am on a bike at an intersection, the BEST time for a car to turn right is during a red light. When the light is green and a vehicle is turning right and a bicycle going staight is a far more dangerous situation.
I drive and bike, and "do not pass on the right" is a good rule for both.
+ It is hard to care anymore about the plight of the cyclist. Quite frankly their irrational behaviour, illogical arguments and the turning of cycling into a pretentious good deed, has in-turn made me act irrationally---now I hate them!
+ I was a cyclist and was hit by a car and essentially haven't ridden much since. It is clear cyclists have a chip on their shoulder and quite frankly more so then the average driver. It is no longer just a mode of transport, but a rebellious cliche culture. Cycling is the new football for angry hipsters. Its sad something simple and peaceful has been turned into a cause c�l�bre for the disenfranchised. Many cyclists have become angrier then the people they dislike. Way to go!
- Portland, Oregon
"It is hard to care anymore about the plight of the cyclist..." I'll remember that one and be sure to ride a bit more carefully!
We all need to care about the plight of others! Each person on a bike that you see is a human being with a family, friends, etc.
I get to work every day on a bike. I am not a "cyclist," just a regular guy riding.
But for the number of times I've been cut off, pushed over, and generally threatened by drivers, you can bet that I ride aggressively.
I cannot predict who carries animosity ~ automobiles are by their design very insulative vehicles. A car drivers' rush, frustration, and general distaste may be a life/death situation for me.
And all I need to know is that 1/10 of drivers share such a spiteful attitude towards those who choose bikes as transportation that they are willing to put my life in danger that I will ride and act accordingly.
thanks for taking the bait and reinforcing the sarcasm of the comment
P.S. When I do drive, I am excessively courteous to cyclists and will continue to be so; even though I find myself at odds with much of the cycling culture.
Attitude is a major part of the problem. There are, of course, aggressive drivers, and I wish that the Portland police would give more citations to drivers that drive aggressively to the point of recklessness. But there are also aggressive bikers who treat traffic safety laws as not applicable to them. There is bike commuting and there is biking as exercize. In my experience, too frequently bikers on city commuting routes act as if they are biking for exercize, riding as quickly as possible and blowing through stop signs and never signaling. Bicyclists need to remember that there is a time and place for everything, and Skyline Drive and Mt Tabor are available for biking all-out while biking in city bike lines requires remembering and obeying all the traffic laws, for your own safety and the safety of everyone else.
Note: I bike more than drive, and grew up biking in Manhattan in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the craziest biking place in America. I am firmly a believer that if you are part of traffic, you need to be very aware of traffic and obey the rules of traffic. Bikers, and drivers, need to obey the rules to be predictable to everyone else, especially those that you don't see.
Thank you for discussing this topic. Bicycles and cars do not belong on the same roads. As a driver I would like to commute via bicycle but I am afraid of all the cavalier cyclists and oblivious drivers. The only way I would feel comfortable biking to work would be on a "bicyles only" bike path. I have had my windshield cracked in by the fist of an angry cyclist after veering into his lane to avoid a fellow driver turning left. I will say that now I look for bikes before I near the bike lane, but I can't imagine what might have happened if I had hit the biker. The risk is too great for us to share the road.
I think bikers need to use their best instincts when it comes to driving in traffic. Certain streets are dangerous for bikers: when there's lots of activities out of parked cars, people changing lanes frequently, narrow lanes (Killingsworth comes to mind). Use shared streets instead - they're calmer, and drivers usually know that bikers have equal rights to the road. I want make sure people see me, so I like to drive in the middle of the lane.
Some bike lanes are right next to parked cars, which is dangerous if a person opens their car door without looking. Bikers are supposed to be at least three feet from parked cars, which pretty much puts us in the middle of the lane. If you're out in traffic, then you should "act like a vehicle" and obey all traffic laws. Bike lanes are great for places like bridges or other big structures where bicyclists need extra protection. That said, I don't use the bike lane for turning when coming off the bridge. I'd rather merge with traffic or get on the sidewalk and use the crosswalk - the bike turn lanes are scary.
I think Portland's combination of shared-road (bike/car) streets, bike lanes, and bike boxes are great.
I would ask that all bicyclists wear helmets and only use the sidewalk when absolutely necessary. Sidewalk bicyclists are the most likely to get hit by turning cars, because drivers are not expecting something as fast as a bike to come through the crosswalk. As for drivers (which I often am), honking your horn does not help anyone - I'm on a bicycle, not deaf. Get out of your car and stop being so angry.
I agree with bikeaway's comments. As a dedicated Portland cyclist, my experience has been that there are a significant number of motorists who don't understand that bicycles have a right to the roadway. In addition to the crowding and near-misses that have already been addressed on-air, I've been honked at and yelled at by motorists while making legal left-turns or simply riding safely in a right-hand lane. Some folks yell "ride on the sidewalk" others simply accelerate and swerve around. Many, many people don't bother to change lanes to pass a cyclist, even on a major four-lane road such as Sandy. I see many more (even well-intentioned) motorists driving unsafely with respect to bikes than the other way around.
People have been talking about cyclists who seem to ride with a sense of "entitlement." As bikeaway pointed out, it's simply unsafe for a cyclist to ride too close to the curb, especially when there are parked cars along the side of the road. This isn't a display of arrogance, but a consideration of personal safety.
I have been commuting in Portland for 5 years by bike. I could not imagine riding without bike lanes. For example, I would not feel safe riding up Barbour Blvd in the flow of traffic. I feel very comfortable in the bike lane.
Living in the Hawthorne area for over 15 years it has been a pleasure to see cycling grow even though I am not a cyclist myself. This improves the livability of the area. My main frustration is trying to 'mindread' cyclists and if they are or are not going to follow the rules of the road. I want to include them on the road, but believe that when they do go thru stop lights, ride on the sidewalks, dont have helmets, dont yeild, dont have adequate lighting for night time riding ...it just makes it very very difficult. I also have experience 'cycling snobs' who assume that because I am driving that I am not as 'socially conscious' as they are... just not true.
This is a hot topic where I work. I drive for Trimet. Not only do I drive a bus, my pick-up truck, I also ride my bike. I have had bus drivers come far too close to me when I'm on my bike. I've had numerous bicyclists come within inches of getting killed while I drive the bus. Is there a solution? We need everyone to SLOW down. Driving while talking on the cell phone. Driving while texting, drinking coffee, eating lunch, changing diapers(yes I've seen this) working with your PDA. All being done at speeds that almost always excede the speed limit. I loe riding my bike but there are times when I won't because I know the road I will be on does not have a bike lane. Or the road is just too busy.
I HAVE gotten a ticket as a cyclist, back in 1975, Oakland, CA. I'd invented an early form of a "bike box." I'd whiteline to the front of the pack at a red light, then when cross traffic cleared, before I actually got the green, I'd take off and get up some speed before the cars came roaring after me. An Oakland motorcycle cop busted me and the traffic judge said he had to convict me, although he seemed sympathetic to my plight. I pointed out that I weigh a twentieth of what a Cadillac does, so my fine should be pro-rated. He agreed and fined me a dollar.
Back then, I rode all the time, although I don't now. My experience was that a lot of drivers seemed not to see me, or even to subconsciously think, "Oh, that bicycle won't do much damage to my car..."
As far as cars and bicycles obeying the same laws, in general, yes they should, but at the same time, we do have different rules for different vehicles. Semis stay in the right lane and go 55. Bicycles really won't do much damage to a car, or even a pedestrian, but they can get mashed by even a small car.
It's really important for bicyclists to remember "The Law of Lugnuts." The vehicle with the most lugnuts has the right of way, whether the law says so or not. Remember, as Carl Decker said, you're basically riding in fancy underwear with a plastic bowl on your head. You're really vulnerable and you're riding next to people encased in steel.
It's also really important for them to help car drivers by obeying the laws, by riding considerately, by riding predictably, by using lights at all times.
And finally, what is it with drivers? Can't they spare 10 seconds to give a rider a break? Are we really in such a hurry, so self-centered that we will risk someone's life, just to get to work at 8:00 exactly, instead of 8:01?
That is the best argument I've heard to a traffic judge!
I like to follow the Principle of Least Astonishment, which blends bike lanes and vehicular cycling pretty well.
I ride as predictably as possible, signal my intentions, ride WITH traffic, and pay attention.
As a driver, I pay attention to my environment, but I notice that I'm in the minority.
I think that EDUCATION is key to a lot of problems motorized vehicles and bicycles have. That's education on both sides of the fence. I also think that having to re-take the written test when driver's renew their licenses is a good thing. Teaching driver's ed (and including cycling ed in that class) in schools would go a long way toward that education of everyone.
Regarding cyclists getting a "free ride", essentially, and "not paying their way": at least in Portland and the surrounding suburbs, 85-90% also have driver's licenses, and 100% pay income taxes. A lot pay property taxes, as well... anyone who thinks that the gas tax pays for all roads and road maintenance is woefully naive.
PS. Hi Carl! We all missed you at Olympus!
Rules of the road are usually created to cause predictable responses from drivers and other users of the road. At uncontrolled intersections, I know that the person to my right has the right of way. When anyone ignore rules like this they create uncertainty in all those that see it, and they carry that uncertainty into the next situation. As a cyclist, that really concerns me. I see that uncertainty in the faces of drivers all of the time when we meet at intersections. They often have no idea what to expect from me-- I assume because they have seen so much inconsistent behavior from other cyclists. That uncertainty puts me in danger.
Yes, cars and bikes should be as separate as possible. Bikes cannot excel as fast as cars can and lets face it; I have airbags when I get in an accident, bikers have nothing but a helmet and that's only to protect their head.
Also, I must take this chance to air a pet peeve.... Bikers who don't stop at stop signs and lights. If bikers and I have to share the road, we should have to share the rules. Plus, as a biker, don't THEY care about THEIR own safety?
Bikes cannot excel??? Do you mean accelerate? That's a sliding scale. My turbocharged Porsche (since sold) could accelerate faster than most other things on the road, but it didn't give me more rights than anyone else, or a right to tell other motorists to "get off the road". It just got me more tickets!
I certainly value my safety. Whether I am in a car or on a bike or on foot. That's why I expect everyone to obey the rules. You don't have an air bag when you get out of your car to walk across the street. Or on a motorcycle. We all have to behave ourselves, or we will all end up as casualties. As my old friend Eve DeCoursey used to say, cyclists are the canaries in the coal mines. When we start dying, it means something is dreadfully wrong.
Regarding the gentleman who described getting "left-crossed" twice: both he and Carl Decker described bicyclists as being "invisible". The solution to this problem is to "make yourself visible". In both of the gentleman's collisions he described himself as being in the "shadow" of a truck and was thus not seen by the oncoming left-turning motorists. Along with "right hooks", this is EXACTLY the kind of collision that bike lanes exacerbate. The solution is for bicyclists to "use the full lane" at intersections: merge WITH traffic and take a position behind the truck (not behind and to the right). My mantra is: if I can't see potential oncoming left-turners, then they can't see me, and by "using the full lane", I MAKE myself visible and avoid these kinds of collisions. Fortunately I live in a state that, unlike Oregon, does not have a discriminatory mandatory bike-lane law, so this maneuver is legal on all streets.
Chris Lundberg, formerly of Corvallis, OR
I drive in downtown Portland quite a bit and when I see a bike nearly hit a car making a turn the car has either failed to signal or signaled right as they began turning. I think if both bikes and cars followed the rules a little better, there would be fewer issues downtown.
I live out in the rural fringes, toward Damascus, where biking makes great sense. You can't WALK anywhere to any store! But I've nearly quit using my bike to get places on our rural roads. People zip by at 45 to 50 mph without making any allowance for my presence on the road. It's simply too dangerous. Even where you have bike lanes (Powell/26) people use them as 'passing lanes' to get around left turning cars. Too bad. This is where we could use an increase in cycling to reduce the use of cars!
It is not a one-sided issue;
the responsibility is shared between:
drivers - to be aware of cyclists and try to accommodate them
cyclists - to obey rules and ride as though you expect to not be seen
I am a daily bike commuter who has had plenty of problems with oblivious drivers, but because I expect it, I have always managed to avoid a conflict.
But I am likewise frustrated by other cyclists who ride like idiots and give the rest of us a bad name.
A bike should ride as part of traffic when no lane is provided for them. However, when the bike is unable or unwilling to move at the speed of traffic for that roadway then they need to get out of the way. There are always alternative routes for bikers through residential streets - there is no need for anyone to casually ride down the middle of Hawthorne or other major roadways.
I think as bicyclists we have the responsibility to make sure we are seen. That means don't blow stop signs when cars are stopped, don't pull up to the right of a large vehicle that might be planning to turn right and might not be able to see you (wait behind the vehicle or pull all the way in front, as at a bike box), be careful as you approach an intersection where cars are making left turns.
At the same time, bikes are not cars. When you're in a car, you need to stop fully at a stop to be able to see if another car is coming. On a bike, you have better visibility of the whole intersection before you reach it and also can hear if there are cars around. Therefore I think that bikes should be able to treat stops as yields, and red lights as stop signs. A friend of mine recently took a bike safety class from the city and the bike expert there told her that she had to "slow to a stop" for a stop sign, but not put her foot down - i.e. yield.
From Dan F, Salt Lake City, UT
League Cycling Instructor.
Drivers of motor vehicles are licensed in part due to the size and weight of their vehicle and the amount of damage they are likely to cause if they cause an accident (larger trucks have additional requirements under this philosophy). Cyclists rarely cause significant damage to OTHERS when they don't obey traffic laws (although still no excuse).
BIKE LANES/LANE POSITION.
The prior speaker who was hit behind a truck, if were in a "bike lane" would have been even more invisible to the Left Turning driver, vehicles passing cyclists in a bike lane are shielded from view for oncoming traffic turning left as the oncoming traffic is moving faster dropping the cyclist off the back.
If cyclists are riding in traffic, in a visible lane position (if going close to the speed of traffic, should be in CENTER of lane) to avoid the mentioned LT motorist, and or a car overtaking in the faster lane and then wanting to merge into the right lane (riding to far to the right makes you invisible here as well).
Bikes should NEVER pass vehicles on the right, stopped or not and even with bike lanes. Stopped cars once start moving on green may turn right as the cyclist passes, for instance the 3rd vehicle decides to not use their turn signal and turn right. Bike Boxes encourage passing on the right which actually increased the danger for the right hook.
In Europe they are starting to figure out that the separated bike lane isn't working and is more dangerous at intersections and driveways which is 60-80% of motor vehicle/bike accidents.
Bike lanes doe have their purpose, but just don't un-conditionally "require" their use. Only the cyclists at a given place and time can make a judgment if it is "safer" or "practicable" to use it on a given stretch of road due to driveways, parked cards, poorly designed lanes, debris etc. You can not expect a judge and jury to figure this out later.
What's the point of asking everyone about their favorite "story" regarding bad driver/cyclist behavior? Just to prove that everyone has an anecdote and a pet peeve?
Is that a surprise? Is it useful for drawing conclusions?
Mostly to have some real situations in mind to further the conversation about issues. So it's not all abstract.
In this show, I thought it was interesting to hear that Carl got so mad he tried to chase down a truck! Listening to the conversation it seemed to me car/bike interactions can trigger a lot of emotion. If the goal of any bike/traffic policies is to keep the streets safe, emotions have to be taken into account. Is paint enough?
Also the pet peeves of drivers or bikers are often reveal problems with the system . . .potentially solvable!
Although I enjoy sharing the road with bikes, I have two concerns. One is that car drivers in Oregon (maybe just Portland) don't follow the common rules of the road for anyone as noted by an earlier caller who doesn't use his side view mirror to check for traffic on his right. That is bad driving. Similarly drivers frequently don't signal turns correctly. If they do use the signal, they don't use it 50 yards before the turn. They turn on the signal as they are turning. The cyclist can't read the driver's mind (neither can other car drivers). I can see that many accidents might be alleviated if both vehicle operators followed the rules and laws.
The other issue is along the same lines in that I seriously object to cyclists using the sidewalks or buzzing pedestrians when there aren't sidewalks (e.g., in neighborhoods). Come on, folks just be courteous.
The connection between Grizzlies, Biking and Condors? Besides all three being verbs, riding on city streets requires the same kind of awareness of your surroundings that hiking in grizzly country requires. It means being alert for the drivers door suddenly opening on one any of the parked cars you are approaching in the same way that while hiking in Alaskan tundra every willow thicket has the potential to hide a sleeping grizzly. As for condors, they are social birds and young birds learn from older birds how to behave safely. Last week was my first week of commuting by bike to my job and several times I relied on more experienced bicyclists to stay on the bike route or navigate the best way through certain intersections. I found myself thinking about the relationship between these three things constantly as I rode to work each day.
The problem is that people who are jerks in a car are also jerks on a bike. The same people that run stop signs on bikes are also the ones that run them while in their car.
I think how we proceed with infastructure is simply a matter of what our goals are. Do we want as many people to ride in as safe a manner as possible? Well, let's look at somewhere like Amsterdam and see what they're doing. Do we want only really skilled & confident people to ride at their own risk? That's going be a different set of infastructure.
Without deciding what our goals are, we can't answer these questions about whether bikes should be treated as cars or have their own special laws.
But no matter what, I think it's the responsibility of bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians alike to follow the rules, whether they agree with them or not. It's the only way to be predictable. And being predictable will keep you safer than anything infastructure that could be built.
why do drivers frequently use the pejorative 'entitlement' tag to broadly label bikers? the professional truck driver just used it (also several of the comment here use it or a derivative) and then threw in the 'green' label also like it was something bad.
Jackaninny, you're making the point I was waiting on hold to make on air this morning when the show ran out of time. It's extremely detrimental to the conversation that there is a broad and general acceptance of notions like "bikers act entitled" or "bikers are arrogant". I thought the hosts of the show missed a huge opportunity to ask "what do you mean by entitled?" when the truck driver made that comment. I was hoping this might be a more interesting conversation and get beyond that level of accepted prejudice, but it didn't go anywhere new or interesting. In almost any press coverage given to bikes, someone feels compelled to point out how they seem to think cyclists are always going through stop signs or something equally egregious. Where are the voices pointing out that cars driving on the freeway rarely if ever obey the speed limit? By the thousands every day, drivers blow the speed limit by tens of miles per hour with no retribution. That's apparently a law that everyone in the world has agreed to let people break. And I'd bet my left leg that it kills thousands of people every year. Society is okay with that, but they're not okay with, and have to add a mention of it to EVERY conversation about bikes, the fact that sometimes bikes don't stop at stop signs. I agree that it would be super awesome if people on bikes didn't flagrantly break laws. I think it would be far more awesome if 43,000 Americans didn't die every single year in preventable car crashes that happen because people drive poorly, selfishly, drunkenly ... but yeah, let's keep talking about how bad all the bike riders are no matter what the conversation is supposed to be about.
I am the truck driver that was on the show this morning. My point about the arrogance and entitlement of some bicyclists seems to be lost in the emotional perception of an insult that is mirrored on the road and in these comments.
For instance, I drive on Greeley Ave in Portland, very close to where the tragic accident between a bicyclist and cement truck occurred, along with hundreds of other trucks and many bicycles every day. There is a bike lane in both directions, 4 feet or more wide, no parked cars, and a speed limit of 45mph. Every day hundreds of successful transactions are made between bikes and cars. The arrogant, entitled individual I had in mind chose to ride on the white line that separated the bike lane from right lane, ignoring the four feet of bike lane for protection. This is extremely intimidating to a safety minded trucker when the bike is in the blind spot from the time it is even with the front tire until well after I pass it. To me, this individual and others like him are sending the message that they are testing us, conforming in only the minimal way. Of course he is right, and in the bike lane, just as expected. But if there is a mistake, or I am one of the crazy drivers you talk about, and there is a collision, he is still right. I may lose my job, but the risk for bikes is just too high. How much does it help to be right in the hospital? Maybe this act wasn't arrogance. Maybe it was just unawareness, or stupidity, but the risk is still too great.
Defensive driving means looking for and being able to react to the unexpected. They can come in all shapes and vehicles, and riding bikes too.This topic is hot right now because bicyclists are being killed in an attempt to share the road. More courtesy and awareness would go a long way.
I would love to be able to take this rider, other riders, or motorists with me for a day to watch what it is like to move my 65 foot long vehicle around city streets and things in the blind spots with 3 inches of clearance.
I accept that bikes are here to stay, along with longer, heavier and wider trucks, entitled drivers and bike riders, and people who are too dumb to know or just make mistakes. Are you?
I just wonder how you automatically come to the conclusion that the guy riding on the white line is "arrogant" and "entitled". Did you ever consider that maybe the bike lane was full of broken glass? Dangerous debris in the bike lane causes me to ride the white line all the time ... and when you ride enough, you learn to just be confident enough in your actions (and your skills) to not just hug the curb. The most dangerous thing a cyclist can do in some cases is ride too close to the curb. But most drivers don't have any perspective on this, nor can they be bothered to do anything beyond judging a cyclist's attitude as arrogant. I know better than anyone that a car can kill me in two seconds, which is why I've submitted enough in dangerous situations to veer off the road when pushed by an erratic driver, and why I've skidded to a stop almost under the chassis of a car when some boob in Sellwood took a high-speed right turn in front of me. I could sit here and recount dozens and dozens of dangerous encounters I've had that were no fault of my own, but solely the fault of dangerous and erratic drivers, but what good would that do to this overall conversation? But really -- take a look at the other comments and count the number of people who just "had to mention that some guy with dreadlocks cut me off the other day."
Again, as I said, this is my perception resulting from seeing unsafe acts, and, real or not, and it is not only my perception. I bike also, as I said, and there is not dangerous debris over every bike path on every mile. I would much rather risk that than be within inches of a driver who can't see me. You seem so defensive about your position that you seem (perception again) to hear only the word offensive to you and not the rest of what I said about sharing the road. When cyclists ride the line, ride in groups in front, and test the limits of the truck I drive, I have to think of them as arrogant, entitled, unskilled, or incredibly stupid. How am I supposed to know it is you and you have chosen to put yourself in harm's way? It's not just your skills you have to be confident in, but you are taking it for granted that the vehicle drivers you share the road with are as confident and competent as you. As you describe, they are not. I have to expect the worst, things other people do that are unexpected, or not what I would have chosen to do. The risk is too great. The risk to the cyclist. I too, could tell stories of incidents, but I chose to try and give a point of view from the seat of my 80k vehicle for better understanding and seek a solution that involves compromise.
There is no such thing as a perfect system of bike lanes. Where I live in Salem, the main route from the south into downtown is Commercial Street. There is a nice bike lane on the right side of the street, so I can get onto Commercial easily from my neighborhood. However, if I want to turn left off of Commercial, I have to cross to the other side, where there is no bike lane and little space between the traffic and parked cars. It seems too much to expect to put bike lanes on both sides of all major streets. It is also unrealistic to expect bikes to stop and cross the street like a pedestrian when we need to make a turn. The bottom line for me is that we all have to be careful, not make assumptions, and treat everyone else on the road as we would like to be treated.
I am a recreational cyclist and a claims adjuster, so I have had many close calls and have handled claims involving vehicles and bicycles. I believe that cyclists & autos need to share the road and be very aware of each other. As a driver of an auto you need to be aware that bikes are on the road and watch for them. Treat them like another vehicle. You wouldn't cut off a driver coming up on your right if they were in a legal lane, which a bike lane is. You need to look for bikes on the road when you make a left hand turn, just like you would an auto.
As a cyclist you can't do stupid things like run a light, race up and pass a vehicle at an intersection, swerve in and out of traffic. You have to obey the same rules of the road as an auto. That doesn't mean that you can't pass stopped vehicles coming up to & through an intersection, you just have to ride in a reasonable manner.
My biggest issue is I live in a rural area & there are no bike lanes in most of the areas I ride. On some roads there isn't even a shoulder. Many motorist act like they don't like cyclists & don't think they should share the road. I have had doors opened into me, been yelled at to get a car and I have had some drivers go so far as to swerve into me. They simply don't want to share the road.
I agree with many of the comments made so far and think it is important to clarify regulations and expectations, and enforce them. I wanted to add that this is not just important for cyclists and drivers, but also pedestrians. Recently I was almost hit by a cyclist as I was crossing the street at a four-way stop sign - the car was stopped for me, but the bicycle was obviously planning to roll through the intersection since he was going right on red and did not see me crossing in front of the car.
Until 1992, I only biked, never owned a car, mainly because I was against the ecological footprint of cars. I have been concerned ever since the ecology movement of the 1970s, when I was in high school and headed the first Ecology Club at my high school, then headed the first recycling center in college. Since then, I have owned a car because of (1) living in a part of the country that required a motor vehicle, and (2) lately because I have a child. However, whenever we can, we ride our bikes. This still means that there are occasions during the week when we must use a car.
What I find troubling in Portland is the obnoxious sense of self-righteousness I've experienced on the part of bike riders as they encounter me as a driver. In one case, I needed to pass a bike rider downtown and had to do so quickly in order to avoid a construction site in the road ahead. At the next intersection, the bike rider caught up with me and rapped on my window, expecting me to have a conversation, I suppose, about my having passed him. At that point, I felt that this constituted a form of harrassment. I did not do anything to endanger anyone, nor did I feel I owed this biker an explanation. However, through the window he was trying to put blame on me for having passed him in a way that he found unacceptable (he of course did not know my side of the story re the construction site). I simply waved at him and drove off when the light changed.
After having ridden for so many years, I believe firmly that bikers need to follow the same rules of the road as cars, but that we must also provide bike lanes wherever possible for biker protection. Bikers also need to recognize that many of us are both bikers and drivers, out of necessity, and they might consider changing their own aggressive and politicized attitudes towards others on the road.
Simply put, cyclists should follow the same rules of the road as cars. The obvious difference here is that a cyclist is more vulnerable to serious injury than a car in the case of an accident.
But that difference shouldn't release a cyclist from responsibility.
I have seen more often than not, the same cyclist acting like a car on one block and a pedestrian on another block. A driver is already being vigilant about jaywalking peds, traffic signals and responsible cyclists.
No sane driver wants to mow down a cyclist. But often I think cyclists assume they deserve a protective bubble around them.
I have come close to being hit by far more cyclists than cars downtown Portland (generally from whizing through red lights or stop signs or around corners). From observations, it seems much more likely for bicycles to 'bend' traffic rules than cars. It seems to me that if we all - drivers, cyclists and pedestrians - are to share well, everyone should follow the same rules. Those that break them should be cited equally.
I have even thought that perhaps cyclists of a certian age should perhaps be 'liscenced' so as to ensure (by testing) that they are aware of the traffic laws that apply as well as safety issues that will benefit us all.
As a long-time cyclist in urban environments, both here and abroad, I think the key to surviving traffic is to be totally aware of your space, and to keep a defensible space around you as much as possible. You have to watch the traffic around you and keep track of what drivers are doing. In fact, you have to anticipate what they might be doing next. You cannot blithely cycle in traffic believing that the white line of your bike lane will protect you from getting doored or run over. Pay attention and stay alive.
Hello. I work as a driver with ups. There are some roads that I drive that have heavy truck traffic both ways and very little shoulder, yet, foolishly enough, bicyclist choose to ride down roads like this. I think in many cases people who bike exclusively are quite self righteous and intentionally behave in ways that might cause problems for motorists. Bicyclist often want to have it both ways. They want all of the benefits afforded both a pedestrian and a motorist.
I work for the Community Cycling Center and we recently received findings from a study performed by Portland State University regarding our Bike Safety Clubs, which are after school programs for children in Portland Public Schools.
After the twelve hours of instruction over the course of six weeks, students increase their skills and confidence relative to six key indicators. The intersting differnce is their confidence actually DECREASES slightly after the program. What that tells us is that participants have a higher level of confidence PRIOR to learning basic bicycle safety skills and knowledge.
So the students have better skills but lower confidence after the training?
Any sense of why?
How does lower confidence affect safety?
also why do we always hear 'i saw this cyclist break such and such a law'? i see just as many if not more drivers violating laws everyday not to mention just driving dangerous (speed and erratic behavior) and those people will do far, far more damage than the worst cyclist ever could.
I have cycled for 25 years & have logged thousands of miles. I have been run off the road by log trucks & various vehicles & have had my side mirror broken off by an RV. My gut feel is that drivers are constantly distracted & are not aware of their immediate environment. My philosphy when I am riding my bike is that motorist never are aware of me & even if they look at me still do not really see me. Therefore I am always on alert & ready to take evasive action. When I am driving I see constant infractions on the part of cyclist & I assume they are clueless of their environment & traffic conditions & I drive expecting them to pull in front of me, etc...Being defensive & expecting the unexpected is always a good policy.
I think something that often gets lost in all these "bike vs cars" debates is that most bicyclist - even those who commute primarily by bike - are also car drivers. There are very few people who exclusively get around by bike. So there really is no "us vs them" - there's just "us". And the folks that make up "us" are very diverse. Not all cyclists are anarchists and not all motor vehicle drivers are dangerous. There are plenty of great folks in each group - and plenty of jerks.
You always hear people complaining about bicyclists running lights, not wearing helmets, etc. Well, sit on any busy intersection in Portland for 5 minutes and you'll see plenty of cars running the light, speeding, etc. Which is more dangerous? And given how few cyclists there are compared to how many motor vehicles there are, which is more prevalent? There's plenty of room for improvement on both sides.
As far as the separate vs integrated debate. I think Roger has stated it best, Portland's separated facilities have gotten us ridership numbers the rest of the country is envious of and crash rates that are plummeting.
I think that we need to accept the reality that bikes are cars do and will share the roads currently, and for many years to come. I'm an avid cyclist and I think that a mixed approach makes sense since there are mixed ability levels.
That said, I think that a MAJOR solution to the problems with bikes and cars is the same solution that would help drivers move better with each other. [b]It's being aware of what you are doing and how it affects others.[/b] For drivers, this is using your signals to communicate, and being aware of when you are impeding or disrupting the flow of traffic. I think it should be the same for bikes. On bike boulevards such as Salmon and Clinton, bikes can ride at leisurely paces and not worry too much about traffic impedence, but when you're on a street that's shared by other modes, you should be aware of where you are in the road, and who you're affecting.
There are some streets on which 95% of cyclists just should not ride. Busy, narrow streets such as Hawthorne and busy main streets such as MLK are not a safe place for a bike, unless that cyclist is able to take the lane and keep up with traffic. If you can't then please please go over a block or two to a perfectly safe side street. You'll be safer, you'll anger less drivers, and you'll enjoy your ride more.
I have always been an extremely defensive driver. Since purchasing my Prius (which is VERY quiet, I am even more defensive) however, I drive through the Pearl District twice per day and see many, many, cyclists blow through stop signs and disregard traffic laws. Irresponsible drivers are irresponsible drivers regardless of their vehicle. If you want to be TRULY invisible, try riding an electric wheelchair. The only time I have almost been hit on my scooter was by a bicycle. It is incumbent upon everyone on the road to be alert, aware, and courteous.
As a cyclist, I think that cyclists should always ride as if the drivers do not see them. The bike lanes are very helpful. I always look for cars turning right before I cross an intersection. I do not assume that they see me. I would like drivers to remember that cyclists need room between traffic and parked cars because of the danger of being hit by an opening car door.
As a driver, I always look over my right shoulder and in my mirrors for cyclists. It doesn't matter what you think! You have to watch out for cyclists! Cyclists should not assume that drivers can see them.
My bottom line is, that cyclists and drivers need to be considerate of one another. Stop the anger and the aggressiveness. It's not worth a life or an injury. Portland is a very unique, very cool city and one thing that makes it that way is its bike friendliness.
+ There is no problem that needs solving! Drivers, cyclists and humans equally suck. Riding a car and dealing with other drivers is not fun either. Frankly, walking on the sidewalk, which I do most often---is no fun either. Walkers are mostly rude, don't move out of your way, constantly walk in your path and walk five-wide.
+ This is not an epidemic; it is mostly the result of more people riding bikes so there are more complaints. Why should riding a bike in traffic be safe, fun or easy? Driving a car isn't.
+ In 2007 a national survey said Portland, Oregon had the most courteous drivers in the country?!
Any tips on how to deal with five people strolling abreast on a busy sidewalk?
This is no doubt not smart but sometimes I just step out into the street and walk around.
Sorry, no tips accept the walk-around.
Thanks for the great show, though.
Let me add a cultural take on the impassioned and mostly thoughtful discussion thus far. I lived in northern Japan where I bicycled daily for a decade, usually for a couple of hours or more, commuting and touring. Many Japanese students, businessmen, mothers out shopping, and others, use bikes to get to their destinations, or bike parking at a mass transit stations, contributing to the health of a populace where obesity and associated health problems are rare, in comparison to the U.S. The Japanese have reasonably accommodated their heavy bicycle traffic to an infrastructure where narrow roads are often crowded with cars and trucks by recognizing the obvious: bikes are not motorized vehicles and riders are not licensed (although their bikes are), so they are ridden on the sidewalks. Many sidewalks are comparatively wide, and often marked with bike lanes that cyclists use as a matter of proper etiquette when sharing the walks with pedestrians, as is the case in a society where many more people walk. Cyclists are sharing the road with other traffic in neighborhoods and along a small percentage of other roads, but Japan manages a bicycling segment of the population that dwarfs Portland's, as it does a similarly huge walking population, by segregating bikes and pedestrians from vehicular traffic. Could such a system work over here? I don't know, given our often self-centered disregard for others, as evidenced by cyclists blithely swerving into traffic, ignoring stops, and drivers chatting on cell phones while half-attending to their driving or indulging in some sort of road rage. Japanese are brought up to behave appropriately in a polite, disciplined society, making remarkably heavy foot, bicycle and vehicular traffic flow efficiently through urban infrastructure. Can we learn from others?
I'm back to the NW, and ride for exercise into the hills regularly, but must drive into Portland as I'm living out of town and often must transport building materials. Yesterday, a guy in blonde/bleached dreadlocks swung out in front of me on a busy street in N. Portland, forcing me to hit the brakes to avoid rear-ending him. If I'd hit him, it may have been tragic, but his irresponsible riding would have been the reason, taxing our emergency medical facilities and raising insurance rates. As a bicyclist with tens of thousands of kilometers under my seat post, who stopped at intersections, stayed out of vehicular traffic, and deferred to pedestrians?and could still make it across Sapporo in good time?I have no patience with irresponsible riding or other self-centered behavior on the public thoroughfares. Unfortunately, I also doubt we Americans can get our social act together enough to manage even a fraction of the mixed traffic Japanese cities experience as a matter of course. Like our caricature of a Commander In Chief, we live 'large' out here in the Wild West, and are deluded into thinking we can do as we like in public.
Although I wouldn't discourage any state from building a bike trail on the edge of a road, it is dangerous, and I rarely use them. People walking or riding small bikes can use them but; to be safe, they must stop at every cross street and look over their left shoulder for cars turning into them. On the other hand a bike trail along a highway is very desirable. State laws should require trails next to highways whenever an expansion takes place. That is where I would want to live.
I commute regularly by car on designated and well used bike routes, and quite frankly, the cyclists terrify me. They frequently ignore traffic signals, running red lights and blasting through stop signs. In fact, I find that cyclists who obey stop signs and lights are the exception, rather than the rule.
THe other night, I was driving home from work on NE Williams at about 9 pm. I watched a cyclist in dark clothes on a bike without a light, riding with headphones (from an MP3 player?), riding hands free and text messaging on a cell phone. About a week before, I nearly hit another cyclist who jumped the curb off of a sidewalk and cut diagonally across the intersection immediately in front of my car.
While I believe that commuting by bike is environmentally sound, it also creates inherent conflicts with automobiles. If bikers want to ride on public streets, they should be forced to obey all of the rules of the road. If they are not willing to do that, and if the Police will not cite them for infractions, then the two categories of vehicles should be separated completely, not just with bike lanes. I would like to see entire streets designated as bike commuter routes to avoid the inevitable conflict.
Idaho has a great law. It must have been drafted and passed by those whom remembered that stop signs were for 4000# cars, traveling @ mass X acceleration. No bicyclist in their right mind would challenge a car for the right-of-way.
An idea, where bike lanes are painted, would be to slow traffic to a bicycle speed. I ride Interstate Ave, and cars blow by me at speeds exceeding 50mph, especially under the broadway bridge ramp. Enforcement seems non-existant. The primary change has to be the mindset that cars are king. Perhaps in rural areas, but not in cities. Portland has wonderful car alternatives. People are not going to switch to them until it's financially painful to drive.
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