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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 24, 2012 8:45 AM. The previous post in this blog was Fallen angels. The next post in this blog is Celebrity sighting. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Bike lanes don't cut it

One long-time cyclist has reached the conclusion that physical separation of bikes and motor vehicles is the only way to get the average Joe or Jane out there riding on regular basis:

As someone who has been riding bikes for transportation and recreation since long before bike lanes started showing up, I represent the kind of cyclist who could most easily ride this way. I’m pretty fast, very confident in my bike-handling, and extremely defensive in my riding technique.

But at this point – nearly 40 years after the VC [vehicular cycling, or riding in traffic] concept was advanced by John Forester in his book Effective Cycling -- I think that it’s time to recognize that most people are never going to "stop worrying and learn to love the traffic," as one VC proponent has learned to do. I’ve heard over and over again from friends, family, and acquaintances that they would never be "brave enough" to ride in traffic the way that I do. And I can hardly blame them.

Comments (36)

He's right. But the city has to give up something to create this bike lane, and that something is usually a car lane or on-street parking. So, it's not likely to happen.

I get this same argument over and over from co-workers and friends, too. "Oh, it's just too dangerous having to share the road with drivers! If we had bike lanes, then I might do it!" Of course, once the bike lanes are there, they find other excuses as to why they could never ride their bikes to the store or to work. (I'll confess that my main route is one where people are already used to cyclists, and they give cyclists plenty of room. I reciprocate by staying as far to the right as I can, moving over for big vehicles that can't get by, using rear-view mirrors and lights to improve the situation, and, I don't know, not being a jerk on the road.)

A higher level of driving skill would help noticeably. But the urban areas where bicycling has become more accepted as a way to get around -- New York, Paris, Cologne, Amsterdam -- all have dedicated bike lanes and paths. A recent news article reports that New York's bike lanes have gained wide acceptance after a rocky start. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/22/nyregion/most-new-yorkers-say-bike-lanes-are-a-good-idea.html?ref=bicyclesandbicycling

The city of the future will also accommodate cars, not bikes. Granted, the cars may be electric, or run on natural gas, or get smaller, but cars are and always will remain the desired method of transportation. The idea that bikes, trolleys, and trams will someday replace individual vehicles inside urban environments is short sighted. Especially in colder, wetter, climates. Rather than try to compete with an auto, go out and buy one. Then load your bike onto your car and take it to a nice bike trail where it belongs.

I agree that physical separation is the key. Which is why I think ideas like Sullivan's Gulch Trail (SGT) should be developed. The SGT definitely faces challenges, both legally and topographically, but I think both can be overcome. Union Pacific has other needs in the city such that I think they will be willing to talk more about this and a compromise will be reached.

End Urban Renewal, institute bike registration fees, stop expanding the street car, and we will have money to pay for practical projects like this that will truly improve the quality of life for many.

The entire bicycle argument reminds me of death of a thousand cuts.

At least as of two years ago, I got a (deserved) PPB ticket for "failure to obey a traffic control device". The officer told me due to my clean record, I could move to dismiss it...

IF I WOULD JUST GO TO A TWO HOUR RE EDUCATION CAMP.

Putting aside the hassles involved, I doubt many know this class is a money maker for: "THE PORTLAND BICYCLE ALLIANCE".

And I'll leave it to the reader to guess the majority of the curriculum of most of the class.

If offered again, I'll just pay the fine.

Better yet, I gotta get going on my move to Nevada.

You are kidding, right? Are you saying that if you get a first time traffic ticket in Portland you can get off by attending a pro-bicycle propaganda session?

That would open the door for misuse of the legal system to coerce a specific behavioral change for something which isn't illegal in the first place, which as we all know does nothing of the sort... it only encourages a demographic shift, i.e, it's simply Jim Crow style discrimation with a different agenda.

oops-sorry about the typos

"I agree that physical separation is the key. Which is why I think ideas like Sullivan's Gulch Trail (SGT) should be developed. The SGT definitely faces challenges, both legally and topographically, but I think both can be overcome. Union Pacific has other needs in the city such that I think they will be willing to talk more about this and a compromise will be reached."

Given the steepness of the slope, I would think that a bike trail would get landslided out multiple times a winter. Better yet, by weakening the whole hill, you increase the chance that a landslide will come down onto the Union Pacific tracks.

But that's OK - I'm sure Union Pacific will be reasonable...

Mr. Grumpy:
My 3 am citation did NOT involve bikes or bike lanes or any other vehicle in any way. Based on the questions, I'm certain
the officer was certain he had a DUII, and he was WAY OFF.

The re education camp offer is at the discretion of the officer. And the class itself is held in the auditorium of Emanuel Hospital once per month. As I recall, the "class fee" is like $ 50 (cash only no credit cards) and no receipts offered ... just a stamp added to a letter. The money handling is ripe for abuse.

The "class" is SUPPOSED to be conducted by three instructors: Bike advocate, Emergency room physician, Police. In OUR class, only the bike advocate showed up on time...and he did 3/4 of the entire two hour class. No police, and a doctor did show up BRIEFLY.

At least HALF of the class consisted of photos and examples of drivers sinning against bikes. And most of the remaining time is why cars must, "SHARE THE ROAD". In fact, THAT is the name of the class, "SHARE THE ROAD"... and pedestrians are not involved.

THEN the cop and I BOTH had to show up in person (with 75 other similar cases with those dozen cops, slated for the same court time). THAT took nearly two hours as well. And I got out early.

There is a spectrum of attitudes /abilities/styles regarding cycling -- “The Strong and the Fearless,” “The Enthused and the Confident,” “The Interested but Concerned,” and nonriders, called the “No Way No How” group.

Vehicular cycling, the very type of riding that most infuriates motorists on some streets because a cyclist asserts his right to a traffic lane regardless of car/bike speed differentials, is mainly the province of the relatively small strong and fearless group, and almost completely not of interest to the much larger group of interested but concerned potential riders.

The network of neighborhood greenways provides great separation between bikes and the nearby arterial routes. It's a cheap and easy way to provide major separation between cars and bikes with absolutely no adverse impact on the car-centric real estate of nearby arterials. Nevertheless, folks who advocate vehicular cycling invariably assert their right to take a vehicle lane on such arterials because it is their right to do so. That's the real point of the original submission.

After greenways, bike lanes provide car/bike separation on arterials. With the nearby higher-speed cars, bike lanes reduce conflicts and ambiguity about where bikes and cars go and facilitate riding by folks other than the strong and fearless. Bike lanes are problematical at some intersections - requiring care by riders and drivers, but not an impossible feat.

Anyone who has traveled much on any of the greenways will notice the wide range of cyclist styles, from strong/fearless types to much more relaxed Interested types. Census data shows that 11% of Portlanders use Trimet and 6% use bikes, but that 6% gets much less than 6% of city transportation budget and just a couple percent of spending relative to the trimet budget. Cycling is a cheap, and other than trimet, maybe the only way to reduce congestion on arterials. In that context it's kinda interesting to have implicit support here for vehicular cycling that truly would plug-up arterial car lanes with cyclists.

"In that context it's kinda interesting to have implicit support here for vehicular cycling that truly would plug-up arterial car lanes with cyclists."

It's not plugging-up arterial car lanes with cyclists that is the problem - when I cycle commuted, I made a point of keeping up with traffic on the infrequent occasions that I had to be on a major street (normally, I tried to stick to quieter streets).

It's cyclists who decide to go five miles an hour on an arterial car lane at rush hour who tend to irritate drivers - I'm convinced that at least some of that is deliberate passive-agressiveness against drivers, since cyclists are morally superior and all.

Given the steepness of the slope, I would think that a bike trail would get landslided out multiple times a winter. Better yet, by weakening the whole hill, you increase the chance that a landslide will come down onto the Union Pacific tracks.

I think that's less likely than you might think, given that the trail wouldn't need to accommodate anything heavier than a maintenance Cushman (what? did you really think CoPo would use cargo bikes?). Not that I favor the thing - just sayin'.

Two days ago, I was at the old intersection of Sandy and 12th and Burnside, that's now a couplet. I went through the first light going north okay, but before we could go through the next one, the second light turned red where the couplet lanes cross from the right.

A bicyclist came alongside me, saw the light was now red, but saw the truck on the closer lane hadn't started yet, so the bicyclist blew through the red light. That wasn't unusual. I've seen dozens of bicyclists blow through red lights.

The scary part was that he blindly crossed into the second lane without even slowing down. If anything he accelerated, not knowing if a car was coming from his right. I saw a bunch of people in cars, starting with me and the driver in the truck all basically cringe and shake our heads at once. It was bicycle roulette - completely based on chance that he didn't get nailed.

Whoever that bicyclist was, please enjoy a good long life. It is all bonus time from now on.

I just want to thank the "responsable" cylist who passed me yesterday evening. at 28th and Broadway...
On the right.
While I was signaling a right turn.

I love the Paris example. Parisian drivers hate cyclists on their boulevards almost as much as they hate pedestrians, Americans or other tourists utilizing their boulevards. And their higher level of driving skills didn't help Lady Diana much.

Physical separation is second only to total mass equalization. Bikes will be as safe as Suburbans when they both weigh the same. The science is settled. Bikers are like global warming deniers, thinking they can somehow outsmart physics.

"Nevertheless, folks who advocate vehicular cycling invariably assert their right to take a vehicle lane on such arterials because it is their right to do so."

According to Oregon law, it is NOT their right to do so, except under certain conditions:

ORS 814.430 Improper use of lanes; exceptions; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person does not ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.

The exceptions cover making a left turn, passing other bicycles, avoiding hazards, and one way streets. These conditions are almost never being met when I encounter a cyclist in the middle or left part of the lane.

The same cyclists who won't move over are the ones who blow through stop signs, won't yield to pedestrians, and give cyclists a bad name. You call them "The Strong and the Fearless", I call them "The Young and the Clueless".

I have nothing against cycling, and when out and about in my tiny economy car, whenever I run across a responsible cyclist who clearly is "sharing the road" with all, including me, I feel like applauding in gratitude.

I think the real danger is that city policy is promoting or encouraging an attitude of entitlement without responsibility, which any sociologist can tell you leads to arrogant and reckless behavior.

Either it's irresponsible, or they want cyclists to be martyrs and get a "ghost bicycle".

Glad I don't own a home here anymore. I'm not trapped.

I find it safer to ride on the roads.

Why? Because motorists are far more predictable than cyclists. On a trail, I am constantly dealing with poor cycling behavior - weaving on the trail, riding on the wrong side of the trail, failing to signal when behind me to pass, failure to stop at stop signs on the trail or obey cross walks...the families with the children that have no comprehension how to ride in public or anywhere besides in front of their home...the dog runners, who leash their dog which is on the left side of the trail and the runner is on the right...

I can count on one hand the times I've had to deal with a stupid motorist (and one of the most prominent of those was a Subaru Outback with two bikes in the back and a "Share the Road" license plate.) All of my fingers and toes wouldn't come close to the number of times I've been in a near-miss with other cyclists, runners or skateboarders on trails. And even on the road, my last near-miss was a cyclist that decided he didn't need to stop for the red light (that I was stopped at).

whenever I run across a responsible cyclist who clearly is "sharing the road" with all, including me, I feel like applauding in gratitude.

Same here...a cyclist that follows the laws and shares the road, is going to get respect. When I'm on my bike I follow the laws, ride where I'm supposed to - and for the most part motorists have given me respect.

Okay, it's vent time:
My least favorite behavior by bicyclists happens on Belmont. I'm driving along and there's a bicyclist in front of me and to the side a little. I slow down and carefully pass by the bicyclist when it's safe. I'm now approaching a red light so I stop.
The bicyclist blows through the red light, and I have to slow down to pass the same bicyclist again, waiting again 'til there's a safe time.
You can see how - with enough red lights where I stop and they blow through - I could be trying to drive by the same bike for eternity.

Get out of my dreams, get into my bike lane just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Parisian drivers hate cyclists on their boulevards almost as much as they hate pedestrians, Americans or other tourists utilizing their boulevards. And their higher level of driving skills didn't help Lady Diana much.

I've spent enough time in Paris, on a Velib bike, as a pedestrian and otherwise, to have some confidence that my completely different experience is not unusual. But maybe Larry is as cranky when abroad as he is here, which might explain his evaluation. On the other hand, I stand corrected about French driving skills being superior. Obviously, a traffic fatality at some time in the past conclusively refutes any such suggestion.


Get out of my dreams, get into my bike lane just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Maybe if they got Billy Ocean to do a PSA...

Justin Morton: "the city has to give up something to create this bike lane, and that something is usually a car lane or on-street parking. So, it's not likely to happen."

Have you ever heard of SW Broadway? It's not the only street to lose a motor vehicle lane to create a new one for human powered transport.

If they can turn Broadway into Narroway, they can do it anywhere.

Folks: This is getting ridiculous. I have almost hit pedestrians too. They don't have licenses. Heck, some of them don't pay taxes but we're still forced to pay for walk signals and sidewalks.

New proposal: Make pedestrians AND bicyclists get licenses and pay special use taxes just like motorists. If you're going to target cyclist scofflaws, you should widen the net. Pedestrians are just as guilty.

Or better yet, continue to develop automobile, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure geared towards safety for everyone. It's what we're already doing, and it's working.

"I've spent enough time in Paris, on a Velib bike, as a pedestrian and otherwise, to have some confidence that my completely different experience is not unusual. "

Oh, well since you bicycle in Paris on a Velib, you have totally impressed me. Was that with a Yellow jersey down the Champs?

"...with enough red lights where I stop and they blow through..."

That has been my experience as well. And worse, where they dart in out of traffic almost hitting me, and then expect drivers to treat them with courtesy that they don't have.

Or better yet, continue to develop automobile, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure geared towards safety for everyone. It's what we're already doing, and it's working.

I call BS, Brian. I'd be surprised to find that you don't work either with CoPo or PBA. Shill.

In case you haven't noticed, auto infrastructure is last on the list around here.

Where is a bicycle to live in a teeny weeny Condo Bunker pray tell?

"I’m pretty fast, very confident in my bike-handling, and extremely defensive in my riding technique."
Humm, one wonders if the riding technique mentioned includes strictly obeying all the traffic laws, such as stopping one foot down at stop signs; or if it is just bragging about moving aroun obsticles - including paying for and not expecting someone else to pay for the bicycle infrastructure being sought.

strictly obeying all the traffic laws, such as stopping one foot down at stop signs

TR, where does the asserted "one foot down" requirement come from? You have a source?

Goodyear cites John Forester but doesn't remember what he says. Forester cited research showing that the majority of bike-car accidents happen at intersections and well under 5 percent happen when a car overtakes a cyclist going in the same direction.

The whole point of physical separation is to prevent the latter, rare accident. Yet unless overpasses are installed at every intersection, Goodyear's conception of separation won't prevent the majority of accidents that take place at intersections. Her prescription is expensive and almost pointless.

i don't ride on the street that much these days because of Newton's laws and the disproportionate mass of me vs. car. I have too many responsibilities to family and work.

Public service announcement (warning?): Next Portland Sunday Parkways is tomorrow, Aug 26. There will be closed streets, lots of bikes and walkers, and all sorts of disruptions in Laurelhurst, Mt. Tabor, and SE Portland.

You are warned.


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Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 377
At this date last year: 237
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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