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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 4, 2008 2:44 PM. The previous post in this blog was No easy way out. The next post in this blog is I want a Planning Bureau removable tattoo. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Your rights as a pedestrian

While Portlanders enjoy a lull in the ongoing hostilities between cyclists and motorists, an alert reader sends us a wonderful find -- a newly published book about Oregon pedestrian rights. Written by Portland attorney Ray Thomas for the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition, this document has a few frank things to say about cyclists, among them (pages 61 and 62):

[B]icyclists sometimes act as if they believe they are on a higher moral plane than other vehicles and therefore do not really have to stop for pedestrians. Other riders demonstrate their trick riding skills by weaving around clusters of alarmed pedestrians....

The tension between bicyclists and other sidewalk users has led to bitter complaints by many pedestrians about unsafe and “rough” (to use a NASCAR term) riding practices. For some riders the idea of swooping down the crowded sidewalk at high speed creates the same joy as we see on the face of a dog galloping through a flock of terrified birds. Pedestrians do not appreciate the fun....

Historically, many villages and cities have identified their highest areas of pedestrian density and declared them off limits to bicycles. In Portland, the area within SW Jefferson Street, Naito Parkway, NW Hoyt Street and 13th Avenue are off limits to bicycles except in the Park Blocks and on SW Salmon Street, on bridges and multi-use paths. However, the maximum fine of $500, the fact that there are no warning signs defining the boundaries of prohibited areas, and almost universal ignorance and disregard of the law, create an uncertain environment for everyone that guarantees selective and uneven enforcement.

The whole book covers bikes vs. pedestrians in depth, as well as many other topics. It is a fascinating read, and finding no copyright notice on it, we have made it available to readers here.

Comments (23)

Just to clarify, Portland Code 16.70.320 prohibits cyclists from being on sidewalks in that area (except for if avoiding a traffic hazard); the language quoted above, at least to me, suggests that cyclists are prohibited in that area.

As a general rule, sidewalks are for pedestrians and roads are for wheels (cyclists, motorists, skateboarders, rollerbladers, Segway users, et al.).

More problematic are the multi-use paths (i.e. the Esplanade or Springwater) "designed" for cyclists and pedestrans. I believe that the west-side waterfront, where bike lanes on Naito have been finished, need to have a speed limit or something. The multis are fun, but I am always amazed at the number of pedestrians who spread over 4 or 5 across and block the entire path; even on the eastside Springwater along the river, where there is dividing paint, pedestrians still walk on the "wrong side" and prevent orderly passing.

One of the problems, at least in my mind, is that the more restrictions you place on bike traffic on these multis, the more cyclists will move to the road. Due to pedestrians on the eastside Esplanade, I usually switch to the road at the Hawthorne when there's high traffic, meaning I have to go on high-traffic Water St., usually 2nd, transitioning to MLK to cross I-84, and onto Interstate (all busy streets). Put an all-the-time speed limit on the Esplanade, I'll always take this route.

Good news is that when a cyclist hits a pedestrian (regardless of fault), its usually bruises. When a motorist hits either, it usually a visit to hospital.

Is there an easy answer? Of course not. But the solution is not to force all cyclists into the road without adequate controls on motor traffic.

Good news is that when a cyclist hits a pedestrian (regardless of fault), its usually bruises. When a motorist hits either, it usually a visit to hospital.

Well, gee, I guess that's good news for the pedestrians hit by cyclists (almost always the cyclists' fault). Seems to be an apologia for bad behavior on the part of cyclists by downplaying its impact (sorry). What it doesn't address is the bad behavior itself.

How surprising.

But the solution is not to force all cyclists into the road without adequate controls on motor traffic.

Who said (other than you) that that was a solution? "Adequate controls" is a pretty loaded term if you ask me. Many cyclists seem to think that ANY controls on their freedoms are tantamount to imprisonment, or worse.

cc, get a grip. These aren't "cyclists". They're people. Sometimes they're on bicycles. When they are, they sometimes tend to behave this way. Most likely, in comparable circumstances you would as well.

I am confused about the legality of bicycles on sidewalks. I've heard city officials say bicycles are not prohibited from using sidewalks, although certain designated areas like those mentioned above are off limits. Many pedistrians believe bikes are totally prohibited from sidewalks. Guess I'll read the article above.

cc, get a grip. These aren't "cyclists". They're people.

Oh, we'll be sure to look for that same equanimity when you comment about Republicans, etc., Allan.

The percentage of those who "...behave this way..." is much higher among cyclists than other groups who use the roads and sidewalks. Surely you don't deny that.

As far as how I'd behave "...in comparable circumstances..." - you never know...

...and neither do I.

But it's beside the point.

If I recall the "rules of the road" for vessels at sea the vessel overtaking another is required to let the one in front know. Usually that is done by blowing a horn. It would not be too far fetched to expect a bicyclist to sound a devise of some sort when overtaking pedestrians.

TLG

TLG, cyclists are supposed to give audible warning when passing pedestrians. The Oregon Bicyclist Manual (which, by the way, every cyclist sound read) states on p. 14,

When passing a pedestrian, slow down, give an audible warning, and wait for the pedestrian to move over. A bicycle bell works best. If you must say something, make your intentions clear. For example, "Passing on your left." [Emphasis in original.]

same equanimity when you comment about Republicans

Apples and oranges, cc. Republican party affiliation is a fundamental character flaw; bicycling is an intermittent state.

Well, I'm with cc on this one. Bicycling seems to be only an intermittent fundamental character flaw when the human is operating the bicycle.

Bicyclists are all too arrogant about claiming rights that are not theirs and ignoring the rights of other users when it suits their purpose.

Just as bicyclists are to slow to pedestrian speed and warn overtaken pedestrians with a warning, they are also supposed to move to the extreme right margin of the roadway when sharing it with motor vehicles. NOT ride three abreast and jam traffic up behind them, no matter what the clowns at Critical Mass wish to attempt to assert until they're blue in the face.

Interesting. Ray Thomas is also the attorney that bicyclists turn to when they need legal help. He has a twice monthly bike law clinic.

Godfrey is wrong on the law saying bicylists "are also supposed to move to the extreme right margin of the roadway when sharing it with motor vehicles." The law actually says that bicycles must stay to the right side of the road as much as it's practical to do so. Thus, you can legally bike a few feet out into the street to avoid getting hit by a car door opening or to go around broken glass and other debris.

Thus, you can legally bike a few feet out into the street to avoid getting hit by a car door opening or to go around broken glass and other debris.

Thus, if you want to ride "...a few feet into the street...", you'd better slow down, signal your intentions and be aware of drivers who may not be able to anticipate your actions. The notion that everyone else must must adjust their driving to suit your particular situation is at the root of the controversy - not that that has intruded on your consciousness, I'm afraid.

stuttering, I see...

delete me, and let me love again...

as if.

cc, definitely, a cyclist moving into traffic should exercise extreme care. When I do this, I tend to wait until there is a break in traffic, stopping if necessary.

On the other hand, I have had drivers angry when I take up a lane for safety reasons. Drivers have yelled at me, thrown things at me, and so on, just because I made them 5 mph more slowly on a neighborhood street.

I'm not saying all drivers are jerks--after all, I drive a car, too. (And I've been cut off by inconsiderate cyclists while driving, too!) I'm saying that there is more than enough blame to go around.

Wow. Two pages out of 150 discuss inconsiderate bicyclists, while the rest of the booklet tries to teach pedestrians how to survive amongst the cars on the streets. Here's some perspective on the relative danger posed to pedestrians by cars:

"The Portland-Salem area was ranked the 27th most dangerous large metropolitan area for walking. The report says 79 pedestrians died in the region in 1997 and 1998. Statewide pedestrian deaths are 12 percent of all traffic deaths." (Mean Streets 2000 report by Willamette Pedestrian Coalition)

This isn't even remotely a case of the automotive pot calling the bicyclist kettle black. With 79 pedestrian deaths notched on their collective belt (1997 & 1998), motorist indignation over the fraction of cyclists who are inconsiderate to pedestrians is just purposeful blindness to the real dangers to pedestrians - cars. Dang, let's get riled over some rude behavior while we turn a blind eye to actually killing people. There's nothing so ironic as completely missing the Big Picture to preserve one's petty rant.

Cars represent 94 percent of all traffic and are thousands of pounds heavier then bikes. Naturally, they are going to be involved in more fatal accidents then other modes of transport (although light rail's giving 'em a run). That still doesn't justify illegal or rude behavior by bicyclists - and that is the Big Picture you're not seeing.

And how many of those 79 pedestrian deaths were caused by something other than the driver of a vehicle? There are many other reasons such as someone darting into traffic, someone playing chicken on the freeway, someone getting pushed/run into traffic by a bicyclist, a kid chasing a ball in to the street, etc...

I've met the "bad behavior" cyclists cc is whinging about. He's right. There are arrogant idiots out there who think that it's cool to ride dangerously close to pedestrians.

The number of pedestrians injured by cyclists is miniscule compared to the number of pedestrians and cyclists seriously injured or killed by drivers but that's not what cc is talking about. 7000 cyclists and 5000 pedestrians killed by motor vehicles every year -- irrelevant. 64,000 pedestrians injured in motor vehicle accidents -- pooh, pooh. The hundreds of thousands of cases of motor vehicle road rage -- nothing to do with the bad bicyclists with facial hair who alarm cc so.

Please, people, stay on topic.

Actually, it's "only" about 700 cyclists per year. And from the tone of this board, every one of them deserved it...

Gile sez: The law actually says that bicycles must stay to the right side of the road as much as it's practical to do so.

And, from my experience, all too many bicyclists make a unilateral decision that riding practically on the center line is the only 'practical' thing to do, particularly if you're riding abreast with two other friends.

As for motorists, they seem to be the only ones with an intermittent fundamental character flaw more pronounced than that of bicyclists. They seem to think it makes them demonic and omniaware, and thus unnecessary to pay attention to the road. So, they can talk on their cellphones, apply makeup, read the paper, eat a meal, and check the in-dash GPS....all at the same flippin' time. Make driving distracted an offense with significant fines and enforce it and things would distinctly improve safety for both bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as other, safer drivers.

But, noooooo...our legislators did quite the opposite. Dips**ts.

nothing to do with the bad bicyclists with facial hair who alarm cc so.

Nice touch, Rodney.

Just to run the table with your own off-topic BS you impute that I'm "alarmed" and that "facial hair" is somehow involved. In light of that, this:

Please, people, stay on topic.,

is pretty funny.

So, they can talk on their cellphones, apply makeup, read the paper, eat a meal, and check the in-dash GPS....all at the same flippin' time

Same goes for the bicyclists, I have seen one smoking with one hand and holding a cell phone to their head with the other while weaving around on the street.

I just returned from vacation in the New England area. The interaction between cars and bicyclists was, to me, surprisingly civil. What I also noticed was there were no dedicated "bike only" lanes. The share the road philosophy was honored by both motorists AND bicyclists.
My own personal opinion is, this is how it should be.
Where we went wrong in Portland was local government tacitly endorsing the antics of Critical Mass which sowed the seeds of motorist disdain for bicyclists, a sentiment that is being constantly reenforced by the antics of some cyclists and the demands of their activist groups.

France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland too. And Scandinavia. Bikes and cars share the road without drama or danger. Drivers exhibit patience with bikes, just as they do with trucks, tractors, mule carts, traffic lights, stop signs, pedestrians and other impedimenta. I'm not convinced the blame falls to the local government on this issue, though it may have contributed. We see a great deal of impatience, self-importance, poor judgment and poor social skills all around, and with that it is not too surprising that some of these things find expression on the road and in threads like this one.


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