By Yokota Fritz
According to Bicycling Magazine, Portland, Ore., has the highest number of bike commuters in the country. Ethan Lindsey of Oregon Public Broadcasting reports on this Marketplace story about the industry that's grown up around all those riders, with text, audio, and video. The story is about the industry that has grown up as a result of Portland's "bike friendly" status.
Currently, Oregon law says that right-turning vehicles must yield to cyclists in a bike lane. From our perspective, Oregon law encourages the "right hook" collision such as the tragically fatal right hook that precipitated this most recent discussion in Portland. In California, motorists are permitted to merge into the bike lane to make their right turns.
The system works fairly well in California, though there is room for improvement -- many motorists don't know to merge into the bike lane, and pretty much nobody knows how to use a turn signal. Still, we like that law here. A straight-going bicyclist merges away from the curb area, while a right-turning vehicle merges to the right. Merges away from the intersection results in less complexity at the intersection and more visibility for everybody.
Sure, there are mistakes and accidents and close calls here in California, but you don't want to make things even worse with a dangerous facility approach. And all road users should always remember that you should NEVER pass large trucks on the right. It's odd to see a Portland cycling advocate describe positioning yourself for your destination as a "swerve left into traffic" that creates "more danger for cyclists."
In his Bike Portland blog entry, Jonathan seems most bothered by the "us vs them" angle that the local paper took on the Oregon bike lane law. His earlier reporting on the proposed change reveals reasonable discussion at the time.
By Yokota Fritz
These passing lanes in the bicycle lane in Portland are kind of cute:
The new markings include side-by-side bike lane symbols to denote the passing lane and skip-striping both where the lane widens (and then narrows) and to separate the slow and fast lanes. The new striping was done to facilitate easier and safer passing on an uphill portion of one of Portland's most congested bikeways. More info at BikePortland here and here.
Portland's bike programs pay off
Ditto that-- bike infrastructure is so important. I just moved to San Francisco, lost my car and I am one of the 10% that doesn't have a MUNI stop two blocks away. The San Francisco Bike Coalition resources, such as the SF Bike Map and the free bike safety classes have been a godsend, plus the fact that the city cares enough to label the Bike Highways, provide lots of fine bike lanes and put bike racks on the buses, all makes it possible to get around. If only they could do something about those hills. :P
Oregon's bike lane law
The problem is the bike lane itself. Lose the bike lane and nobody gets confused.
=v= I certainly prefer California's law (and supporting infrastructure, when done properly). It does not solve the underlying problem of inattentive motorists, though. Many of them merge into bike lanes just as unsafely as Oregonian motorists turn across them.
I imagine the California approach is safer overall (though I know of no research on this point), but still not acceptably safe enough.
Bike lane passing lane
I often think about why we will never reach the same level of acceptance of the bicycle in our culture as lets say... china or copenhagen
part of the issue is that cyclists are looking for exercise in their commute instead of just plugging along
the great collections of one speed bikes move at roughly the same speed no one looking to break a sweat no one training for anything
that is part of what makes it work
in our US culture there is such a wide variety of riding styles that a mass of cyclists can be a dangerous thing