This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 24, 2011 7:45 AM. The previous post in this blog was Monday bloody Monday. The next post in this blog is The City That Puts Up Signs. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

The next stupidity

Pop quiz: Is a bicyclist riding on the street treated as a vehicle, or as a pedestrian, for purposes of traffic laws?

How about if Portland lets them be whichever one they want to be?

But just at some intersections.

We'll be the only place on earth with this "system," but somehow drivers from all over will know what it means when they come to Portland.

Sound workable? Well, at least it gives the city another excuse to throw some more oddball markings on the roads -- the constant reminder that you are under the power of Earl the Pearl, the Sam-Rand Twins, and the proud weirdos who now rule the city. Go by unicycle!

Comments (35)

Shows you how effective a very loud minority can be to pull off this kind of BS.

Streets are going to be like navigating Super Mario pretty soon at this rate.

Daughter of a friend of mine just returned to town.

Girl is a graduate of the failed liberal arts college Antioch. She's been a bicycle activist in Philadelphia recently.

Now in her late 20s, she's living at home, pursuing bicycle activism while studying urban planning at PSU.

Soon she'll be organizing our lives. And, she'll be regarded as a really strong woman and lauded as a role model for the future. She's a hero.

Cars don't even stop for pedestrians in my part of Portland (Southwest).

I can tell you from being downtown that 50% of drivers can't interpret the crazy paint they've already put down for cyclists.

How will anyone driving up to a giant green intersection know that means to wait for cyclists?

Beyond stupid. And I say this as a daily bike commuter.

And you know there is NO DOUBT this will happen, because of the last line of the story, "...but if Portland were to implement it, it would be the first city in the country to do so."

Our city "leaders" cream themselves over the thought of being first with anything, so I think we can safely assume it's a done deal.

I agree, Larry. Personally, I'm all for treating cyclists as vehicle operators, with all of the same responsibilities and privileges. This mismash just makes cycling into a vehicular Land of Do-As-You=Please.

Soon she'll be organizing our lives.

Sorry for the children growing up lock step with these planners.

Aren't there some constraints on the city in the state vehicle code? Can they just paint any goofy thing they want on the street and then enforce it?

Should be simple. If they are on the sidewalk, they are a pedestrian. If they are in the street, a vehicle.

I think where they are going with this is it forces fault on the driver if something happens.

I keep seeing "double decker" bikes riding around in NE Portland that must be +7 feet off of the ground. They don't stop easily and the laws of physics don't rule in their favor. Well suited for Darwin's Law candidates.

If the bicyclist is seated on the bike I treat them as a vehicle. If the bicyclist is off the bike and walking it than I treat them as a pedestrian.

Why? WHY???

If it's such a problem, why not just use a much more conventional (and thus easily understood) approach - the four way stop?

It is a two-way stop for a reason. Bicyclists, when using public streets, are required to follow the rules of the road (ORS 811) and that means if they have a stop sign, they wait and yield to other traffic before proceeding. It's a remarkably simple concept.

Then again, it was Oregon that fouled up the crosswalk law and the school speed zone law...so they must be bored and need to screw up something else. My wife commented that in one school zone that had flashers, the flashing sign wasn't working (and thus not flashing lights), therefore under the current interpretation of the law she could do 30 MPH. Under the old "when children are present" interpretation she'd be speeding because school was just getting out for the day and children were walking on the sidewalks.

Larry -

Have no fear. She'll be unemployed for at least 5 years after she graduates from PSU. The Urban Planning folks at the Toulan School have this little problem....there are no jobs in their field. Portland has canned almost 60% of its planning staff. And PDX needs to can the rest.

She'll continue t with her record odf life failure, Antioch, Toulan School, parasite off the parents.... I foresee a career in "Do you want a Grande or a Venti?" that?


Stopping and starting every block when you're on a bike can be pretty tiring. I don't see there being much of a problem with the city deciding a few streets should be nice to bike on and getting rid of stops of bicyclists and reducing auto volume. You might disagree, but I can't imagine anyone thinking four way stops are a good idea for bike routes.

Stops for bicyclists.

Is all this green paint bike stuff even legal? According to the FHWA's 2009 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), under section 3A.05 "Colors":

Markings shall be yellow, white, red, blue, or purple. The colors for markings shall conform to the
standard highway colors. Black in conjunction with one of the colors mentioned in the first sentence of this
paragraph shall be a usable color.

Green is not listed as a permissible color for roadway markings. Oregon's supplement to the MUTCD does not change this.

Dr. Alex is right, all this colored signage isn't legal. And Allan L., CoP needs to follow Oregon State statutes, and they don't.

I'm waiting for the individual(s) with several coins to make the point in court, just like the Bike Alliance that loves to go to court. I think the outcome(s) would pay for more than the attorney.

. . . . . the constant reminder that you are under the power of Earl the Pearl, the Sam-Rand Twins, and the proud weirdos who now rule the city. Go by unicycle!

Is there anything that can be put on a list they have achieved that is positive?
Other than pandering to the bicyclists?

Am getting weary of constant reminders.

Reminded week after week of our financial mess and debt created by their spending money like mad.

Reminded constantly with water bills increasing.

Reminded constantly with more traffic congestion and obnoxious infill.

Reminded constantly that the people really are not listened to in important matters such as the Milwaukie light rail.

Reminded constantly of the Laurelhurst Park mess, don't enjoy our walks there anymore. And, if they take the reservoirs out, will be constantly reminded that they facilitated taking the "heart" right out of what was once our lovely City of Roses.

Reminded constantly, when I go to drink water that our wonderful treasure, sustainable Bull Run Water System is truly in jeopardy with this council bunch.

I've watched ndividual cyclists move from the auto lanes, to the bike lane, to the sidewalk, frequently blowing thru stoplights ("I'm a car/I'm a bike/I'm a messenger/I'm a lunatic....") or squeezing between a bus and parked cars.

What freaks me out the most is when they they just zip onto a one-way street GOING THE WRONG WAY because the traffic is light or it's a good shortcut to get to their destination.

Portland's cyclists are the ultimate attention whores.

I'm sorry, but I'm faili8ng to see how this would advance safety for bicyclists in any way, shape or form.

These confusing traffic situations make a collision between a bike and a car more likely, not less likely. And you know who the loser is when they collide

As far stop signs being tiring, Aaron, that's why gears were invented. Try downshifting when you approach a stop sign. Shift back up when you depart. Pretty easy to do, my 6 year old figured it out in 5 minutes

The intersection that the news story profiled at SE Stark and SE 53rd is at the bottom of a hill if you are traveling southbound on 53rd Ave. I wonder how many will just shoot out into traffic at a high rate of speed assuming they have right of way.

There is an open house for the 50's bikeway project this Saturday for those who are interested.


As someone who used to bicycle recreationally (out of town) and for the purposes of commuting in the 1970s and 80s, I think the city's plans are over the top, incendiary and dangerous. What John Forester (Effecting Cycling) has preached for years still rings true. It's sensible and all this other stuff does bicyclists and the public at large no favors.

Here's an interview with Forester:
click here

and a quote from the interview:

"The public should see the vehicular cyclist as simply one more driver on the road, operating like the others. However, the cyclist should understand that because his vehicle is both narrower and, often, slower than the others, he has a duty to cooperate with faster drivers by facilitating their overtaking where that action is safe for both drivers. That is not a duty to cringe out of the way regardless of danger or inconvenience to the cyclist, but a duty to move right only when it is safe to do so and is in accordance with the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles."

As far stop signs being tiring, Aaron, that's why gears were invented. Try downshifting when you approach a stop sign. Shift back up when you depart. Pretty easy to do, my 6 year old figured it out in 5 minutes.

Good point except when you're pandering to the 'fixie' fanatics.

Personally, I think the point is to make using anything but approved transportation methods odious by any means possible. That's why I call it social engineering to encourage 'correct thinking'. They're just being creative again, like the equally creative bioswales that block streets.

What about the Skateboards? Isn't anyone thinking of them? If you think stopping at an intersection is hard for a cyclist, try it on a board! We need to paint intersections mauve, so that drivers can watch for skateboarders.

Aaron wrote:
Stopping and starting every block when you're on a bike can be pretty tiring.

Mike writes:
Stopping and starting a car every block when you are driving can be pretty wasteful, and adds particulates and pollution to the atmosphere. Also wears down the brakes (unless driving a hybrid). Also wastes gas for acceleration. Can't coast thru an intersection, either.

Try it on a motorcycle for even more fun.

And we can probably forget about the state making the call on green paint. PDX gov't seems to have a get-out-of-jail-free card for just about anything, including molestation of minors.

The more complex and unpredictable the system becomes, the more unsafe it becomes. Anybody with even vague knowledge of actual outcomes knows this. In Britain, they are simplifying their signage and pavement markings for this exact reason. So, the idea that this improves safety is completely bogus, from a rational technical perspective. So, the purpose is obviously irrational.

I think this is well put:

Our city "leaders" cream themselves over the thought of being first with anything, so I think we can safely assume it's a done deal.

When on a bike, it's useful to think of stopping and starting as exercise promoting fitness.

Unless you've invented some kind of free energy gears, T, starting back up again after you've stopped is going to take a whole lot more energy than just maintaining your speed. Even if you had infinity gears.

It's just as bad as the gas wasted in a car, except you feel the burn instead of your wallet getting lighter.

I understand there are wildly different ideas out there on the values of things, but my statement earlier wasn't an example of that.

If you disagree, please head over to PCC or PSU, find them teaching the standard physics series, and sneak in for the first couple days of the first segment.

(And yes, I do realize that having infinity gears would indeed allow you to not get /as/ tired as having three or, god forbid, just one. Fatigue experienced is probably not tied to work done, but probably something to do with work*time or maybe even work*time^2, so gears are good. But it's still fricking tiring, OK!?)

work / time, I meant.

Aaron, if you are riding a bike to stay fit, starting and stopping helps towards that goal.

If your gripe is that the starting and stopping is too much and it is making you late, take the bus or drive a car.

I don't primarily use it for exercise, I use it to get to places, on occasion, when it's the most convenient mode, if it's not wet.

I enjoy it. It's a pretty quick way to get around for the distances I go, it's free, and there's very little chance I'm going to make some kind of mistake and get a traffic ticket or run over an old lady. I think I'm a good driver but most people are wrong and accidents happen.

I default to transit, and if it sucks for the destination, I drive. I had a car up until a year ago or so and I sold it and switched to zipcar. It costs me less than it did to own the car and I don't spend weekends replacing water pumps.

But I ride only on occasion because apparently I'm weenier than my spandex-wearing brethren, and even here in bike city USA cycling often sucks. I appreciate things that makes it suck less.

"Cars don't even stop for pedestrians in my part of Portland"

Puh-leeze, I drive past Lewis & Clark on Terwilliger and stop for bicyclists in my traffic/turn lane. Even though they could use the crosswalk and not slow traffic.

Try not to imply this always happens in your argument

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