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RSS icon Comments on The Culture of Cycling: Seattle vs. Portland

1

I completely agree that we should invest our resources in creating a safer city for bike riders.
My question is what should I do when I am "sharing " the road with a biker doing 15 mph in 30? Shouldn't the rider move over to the side so I can pass safely? Because most of the time they don't give me the right of way.

Posted by Rotten666 | November 5, 2007 10:39 AM
2

It's gotta go both way's ECB. Cyclistís also need to stop being douche bags. Yes there are bad drivers but there are also bad cyclists. EVERYONE needs to work together.

Posted by codybolt | November 5, 2007 10:40 AM
3

oops...totally missed the thread about this earlier.

Posted by Rotten666 | November 5, 2007 10:40 AM
4

When you're done sucking Portland's tiny dick, perhaps you could find a different state's dick to suck when writing about how much Seattle sucks. Cause, you know, Portland is getting really tired.

Posted by Mr. Poe | November 5, 2007 10:41 AM
5

That's real nice that folks say car drivers in Portland are such sweetie pies. But is it a fact that cyclists there have better life expectancy? Seems to me they're getting killed there about the same as here.

But if the cops did kick in the door of everybody who intimidated a bicyclist, and the death rate didn't go down, are you saying you'd finally give up on mixing cars and bikes on the road? Or keep trying to make it work?

Posted by elenchos | November 5, 2007 10:42 AM
6

My question is what should I do when I am "sharing " the road with a biker doing 15 mph in 30?
Same thing you do when you're sharing the road with a metermaid in her Cushman, or a mailman delivering to rural mailboxes, or a guy on a moped -- you pass him when it's safe to do so.

Posted by safe and sane | November 5, 2007 10:44 AM
7

ECB - Portland wants to separate bikes from cars which seems a better idea than bike lanes on streets.

Bikes under current law do not have the right to drive down the center of lanes at low speeds without a reason not to be to the right. If the law needs to be changed, perhaps the Stranger should lead the lobbying or initiative process.
I don't think it is helpful to tell your readers that bikes currently have the right to ride down the center of street no matter what.

Note the law says to ride as far right as is safe not as far right as the rider wants or feels like.

Section 11.44.040 RIDING ON ROADWAYS. Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed slower than the normal and reasonable flow of motor vehicle traffic thereon shall ride as near to the right side of the right through lane as is safe, except as may be appropriate while preparing to make or while making turning movements, or while overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

Posted by whatever | November 5, 2007 10:44 AM
8

Portland is not as full of overcaffeinated zombies as Seattle.

Posted by no skin off my nose | November 5, 2007 10:45 AM
9

the law says to ride as far right as is safe
Clearly the term "safe" must be viewed from the rider's perspective -- he's not protected by being encased in a steel box; he's a cylinder of meat surrounded by metal menaces on every side.

Posted by no skin off my nose | November 5, 2007 10:50 AM
10

If you're too fucking stupid to figure out what to do in that scenario rotten, get the fuck off the road.

Posted by seattle98104 | November 5, 2007 10:53 AM
11

"nurtured a culture of cycling"? Perhaps, but it sound more like a culture more equally respectful of motorists and cyclists.

The problem I see, from my own observations as a lifelong Seattle resident, is that mutual respect is lacking.

No one, drivers or cyclists, seems to want to share the road in an equitable manner. I see this crap all the time: motorists intimidating cyclists, cyclists not being realistically courteous to (faster-moving) motorists, both sides occasionally flouting the rules of the road in unsafe ways...

No amount of bike lanes or cyclist-oriented development can make of for a lack of common courtesy.

Posted by Hernandez | November 5, 2007 10:54 AM
12

Iíma thinking the carz should get bigger and bigger and bigger until they R consuming trees and rocks and people and expelling their poison fart gas over everyone and everything. Kill the bikerz, kill the walkerz, kill the kitties and doggies, eat, shit, fart over everything. Then, when itís all done, all the beauty iz ate into carbon blacknezz for the sake of fat ugliness, then the carz will consume themselves, down to the marrow in their bonez. Cannibalizm will lead to regeneration.

Posted by Franzine | November 5, 2007 11:02 AM
13

We have to face the fact that Portland is becoming a much cooler city than Seattle: Cooler bands, cooler places to hang out, better public transportation and now better bike culture.
My little sister was cooler than me and it sucked-hard.
I'd move there but my sister already lives there.

Posted by poster girl | November 5, 2007 11:05 AM
14

i am all for the bicycle master plan as long as it includes licensing/registering all bicyclist.

then they would be accountable for running red lights/stop signs, weaving in an out of traffic, not coming to complete stops, running down peds, riding down the middle of the street (notice: not "lane"), drunk riding.... generally all the assholery that makes most "cyclist" intolerable in the first place.

basically all the same laws that apply towards drivers, which bicyclist are supposed to follow, and NEVER do.


Posted by terry miller | November 5, 2007 11:06 AM
15

Part of me wonders if this debate is getting a bit overblown. I ride every single day, and I have off and on since I was in high school 15 years ago, and I only rarely experience conflicts with drivers in Seattle. Honestly what is much more common is drivers going out of the way to give me the right of way when there is no need to. If you get to the intersection first just go; don't assuming I'm going to go first just because I'm on a bike!

But of course there are problems and there need to be more bike lanes everywhere (and mutual respect on both sides). One other thing bikers can do is to get one of those bike maps from the city. Staying on the lanes designated on the map, which of course isn't always possible, does make biking safer and easier.

Posted by Peter | November 5, 2007 11:07 AM
16

Yes it must be viewed from biker's perpective but not without reason. If the law said bikes can ride anywhere they want in a lane then there would be no question. The law clearly is telling both bikers and drivers that bikes should be as far to the right as is safely possible. Maybe it should be changed but currently it's the law and it is a disservice to lead people to believe they have "the right" to drive anywhere in a lane.

Posted by whatever | November 5, 2007 11:14 AM
17

My commute to work got a lot friendlier when I stopped driving, sold my bike, and started walking. Yeah, it takes about 20 minutes longer, but instead of snarking at the drivers and cyclists who share the road with me, I get to exchange cheerful good mornings with fellow pedestrians, breathe the autumn air, and generally enjoy life. I'm firmly convinced that wheeled vehicles (whether muscle or gasoline powered) make people crazy. I submit all of the above comments as evidence of that fact.

Posted by Providence | November 5, 2007 11:18 AM
18

#14: we should get those pedestrians to have licences too. They're maybe even more dangerous and bigger assholes than people on bikes...
#14 tell the truth you drive an SUV right? Because people who complain the most about bikes are people who drive vehicles that they really can't contol/or see out of.

Posted by lisa Gin | November 5, 2007 11:19 AM
19

Peter you bring up an interesting point.
I ride a little and have for years and find drivers the way you do. The guy that got shot said he also had food thrown at him and his friends have had bottles thrown at them. Where one rides? How one rides? Luck of the draw?

Posted by whatever | November 5, 2007 11:21 AM
20

I think Cascade Bike Club should declare the South Lake Union streetcar tracks a terroist threat. That SLUT is dangerous!

Posted by DOUG. | November 5, 2007 11:23 AM
21

What's the difference?

Seattle is a lot flatter.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 5, 2007 11:31 AM
22

I think it's important to remember that part of the reason Portland has fostered a larger bike community is due to its topography; Seattle is significantly more difficult to get around due to our hills. It's pretty cool actually that we have the number of bikers commuting to work that we do.

We actually have the 3rd highest share of bicyle commuters among the 50 largest US cities.

Portland - 3.5%
Minneapolis - 2.4%
Seattle - 2.3%

But yeah, bike lanes are a blessing in Portland and Seattle should get as many as possible for sure.

And stop acting like Portland is some kind of transportation paradise where drivers give bicyclists high-fives every time they ride by each other. It's not like that at all. Traffic is bad there. The only difference is that they have bike lanes so bikes don't piss off drivers as much.

...and they have light rail. However it gets slows to a halt downtown. Ours will be much better.

Posted by Cale | November 5, 2007 11:42 AM
23

Share the Road.

What exactly does that mean?

When there is no parking lane (hence no obstacles for bikers), why in the world would two cyclists enter the roadway and proceed to ride side by side in the middle of the traffic lane, going as slow as possible without falling over, when the speed limit is 30mph?

What is a good driver to do?

I had to cross the double yellow line to pass these asswipes, and yes, I laid on my horn. I did not, however, give in to my urge to use the mass of my vehicle to "move them over". All the cars behind me had to do the same thing.

And you cyclists wonder why drivers get pissed off?

These sharrows are a bad bad bad idea. Bike lanes are the answer.

Posted by SUV driver | November 5, 2007 11:42 AM
24

The worst place I get stuck behind bicyclists is Lake Washington Blvd. You just wait. You pass when it's safe.

Lots of things in the city piss me off. Construction. Slow people in front of me. Other people in my way. It's a personal problem though. I manage to not hurl insults at other people. If I can't behave myself behind the wheel I make that leap from over-stressed to asshole.

I've also ridden LWB at night & that sort of scarred me for the route. I rarely ride it now.

Posted by daniel | November 5, 2007 12:03 PM
25

@23: sharrows are a sign to remind drivers of existing laws. If you don't like the laws, get in touch with your local lawmaker to change them.

P.S. The laws are about safety, not speed. That's why you'll find a speed limit on roads.

Posted by Anon | November 5, 2007 12:04 PM
26

@16,

The lanes in this city are ridiculously narrow. In many lanes on many streets, there is no room for a bicyclist to ride side-by-side with a car. In that circumstance, the bicyclist is required by law to take the entire lane.

Posted by keshmeshi | November 5, 2007 12:17 PM
27

Cyclists like to 'share the road' by taking up entire lanes by themselves no mattre ho9w slow they're going. The rest of the world doesn't understand why they can't keep to the right of the right lane and allow motorists to work around them.

Or am I a hummer driving road-loving Republicrat for even daring to criticize the mindset of a Seattle cyclist?

Posted by Gomez | November 5, 2007 12:21 PM
28

26. Could part of the problem be the hills and layout of this city creating an environment that doesn't necessarily facilitate bike riding the way the topography and layout of other cities can?

Posted by Gomez | November 5, 2007 12:22 PM
29

meh. Portland has the same exact problems we do. I was down there this weekend and this story was a featured article on everyone's less favorite sister rag. http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/Content?oid=457242&category=34029

And! as a bonus we do not have some douche bag trying to decide if he is more Peter Parker or Clark Kent off on their love lab ad.

Posted by at least you guys don't live in bellingham | November 5, 2007 12:30 PM
30

Why don't we reduce street parking to create more room for bike lanes? Because most people here rely on cars to get around so the political culture is a car culture and there would be revolt at the idea of getting rid of street parking. Building convenient, realistic alternatives to the car to get more transit riders, denser, more pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, and more bikers will gradually alter that political culture. It will be a positive feedback loop so that the more bike lanes/transit/trails etc. you have, the more support there will be for expanding these options at the expense of a car-focused lifestyle. Let's get started by approving proposition 1.

Posted by Scott H | November 5, 2007 12:36 PM
31

please Keshmeshi refer to the law that says bikes must take the lane if it is a narrow street. I've quoted the law and it states - as far right as is safe - it doesn't say anything about side-by-side with a car.

Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed slower than the normal and reasonable flow of motor vehicle traffic thereon shall ride as near to the right side of the right through lane as is safe,

Posted by whatever | November 5, 2007 12:38 PM
32

When bikers stop running stop lights and begin following basic traffic laws then we'll start talking about bike lanes.

Posted by Stefan | November 5, 2007 12:38 PM
33

When car drivers and SUV owners stop running stop lights and begin following basic traffic laws then we'll start listening to them.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 5, 2007 12:53 PM
34

@31:
Safe = 3 feet between car and bike. Therefore:
Narrow road + Safe = Taking a lane.

Posted by DOUG. | November 5, 2007 12:57 PM
35

Am I correct in asking that after 20 years of work, and millions of dollars, and all these dead bicyclists, the payoff will be to raise the number of commuters who bike from like 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent? I mean, that's the best Portland can do, right? Is that it? What kind of mountains would we have to move to hit 5?

Posted by elenchos | November 5, 2007 1:02 PM
36

i was just in amsterdam, and yes, i got high legally. it was very nice.

here's how it works there, and in copenhagen:
driving lane
parking lane
bike lane
sidewalk

see the difference? SEPARATION.

but here in autopia, we can change to this solution, because cars & their agenda trump everything. see prop. 1.

Posted by max solomon | November 5, 2007 1:04 PM
37

CAN'T change to this solution.

Posted by max solomon | November 5, 2007 1:05 PM
38

Look if you're going to make a law like "as far to the right as safe" then you just have to accept that people are going to interpret it as they see fit.

I'm all for ticketing the true assholes who abuse this, but if there's reasonable doubt then the law is hardly written to make a real burden on cyclists.

In particular to go back to Lake Washington Blvd, on an extremely narrow windy road like that, a cyclist should not try to inch themselves closer to the side of the road. In fact I would move left to let drivers know that if someone wants to pass me they really have to pass, not try to squeeze by.

Posted by daniel | November 5, 2007 1:06 PM
39

Reducing street parking hurts small businesses who rely on people being able to find spots close by.

Holland is flat, and gas is expensive. The low countries all have bike-only lanes with their own signals. Makes turning left or right onto a car lane from a side street a pita.

Posted by live and let live | November 5, 2007 1:22 PM
40

daniel so then if someone is driving 60 mph in a thick fog that's ok because the driver decided 60 was ok for the conditions? the wording clearly would allow a ticket if the a bike was in the center or left side of a lane for no acceptable reason. if you all want to believe the law allows center lane biking no matter what fine but i'd suggest changing the law

Posted by whatever | November 5, 2007 1:25 PM
41

Seattle is flatter than Portland? Sure, sure it is, Will.

Rotten, you DON'T have the right of way. A bicycle is a vehicle just like you are. If the bicycle needs the whole lane to feel safe, the bicycle gets the whole lane.

Cyclists who try to do the polite thing and ride far over to the right when there isn't room to realistically do so are putting both themselves AND OTHER DRIVERS at risk.

A 30 MPH zone is NOT a Constitutional right to travel 30 MPH no matter what the circumstances. It's a LIMIT, not a guarantee. If the bike is slowing you up, and there's no safe way around it, you get held up. Deal with it.

Posted by Fnarf | November 5, 2007 1:28 PM
42

A law which says "be safe" gives me leniency towards "too safe" than "unsafe" whatever. Your example is BACKWARDS. It would be pertinent to ask: how slow would I have to drive in the snow before I got a ticket from a cop who said: you're not going fast enough. If the conditions were legitimately dangerous I'm going to get A LOT of leeway to drive on the slow side.

(I changed it from fog because going too slow in the fog can also be dangerous. Fog just sucks. Back home in CA people would get into stupid accidents on I-5 all the time. If viz is 0 then don't drive.)

Posted by daniel | November 5, 2007 1:37 PM
43

Damn that sucked. That first bit should be "gives more leniency towards `too safe` than `unsafe`."

Posted by daniel | November 5, 2007 1:38 PM
44

Yes please on better enforcement. Asshole drivers are at least as dangerous as DUI's, and should lose their license accordingly.

However, the same goes for bikes. If they're going to be on the road, they need to be licensed and we need a mechanism for revoking that license.

Not one hour ago I nearly saw an awful accident at the corner of Olive & Bellevue: I was driving east on Olive, turning right (south) on Bellevue. Another car was in front of me. We had a green light but were waiting for pedestrians who were crossing Bellevue. An asshole cyclist (sans helmet, of course) ran his red light traveling at good speed north to south on Bellevue, just when a car behind me moved left to go straight past me, having a green light and not wanting to wait for me to turn. The car nearly hits the red-light-running cyclist and has to slam on the brakes. The pedestrians turn to look, and the cyclist nearly hits *them*. It's amazing that someone wasn't hurt or killed.

A long anecdote to illustrate the point: I'm fine sharing the road with cyclists. However, they need to play by the rules, too, and they need to be subject to greater enforcement activity, too.

The jerks out there ruin it for everyone, but casting this as cars-versus-bikes is needlessly parochial. What it really is is normal people versus assholes, and assholes can both drive and ride (poorly in both cases).

Posted by aiken | November 5, 2007 1:48 PM
45

@41 - sorry, I meant Portland is flatter than Seattle. I was hoping no one else caught that obvious error on my part.

Must. Proofread.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 5, 2007 2:08 PM
46

ECB: are you going to post about the Council's hearing? I see that they passed the master plan, but were there any fireworks?

Posted by Gidge | November 5, 2007 4:20 PM
47

The laws are about safety, not about speed.
The laws are about safety, not about speed.
The laws are about safety, not about speed.

The laws are about safety, not about speed.

The laws are about safety, not about speed.

The laws are about safety, not about speed.

The laws are about safety, not about speed.

The laws are about safety, not about speed.

Posted by Alex | November 5, 2007 4:36 PM
48

Forget about Amsterdam or Copenhagen for a moment. Lets talk about a big country that loves cars and still has a huge biking population: Germany.


Yep. Walking and cycling account for 1/3 of *all* trips in Germany. German 75 year olds bike more than American 20 year olds do. (Really - that's how lame we've become - you're being out-biked by a bald guy in *lederhosen* :-)

German cities may have more facilities than American ones, but you can bet that a lot of bikes and cars are sharing the roads there (it's a big country and has something like 80M people).


What did they do over the last 25 years to halve cyclist fatalities while massively increasing biking?


Find out the exciting conclusions (summary - there's nothing that they did that we couldn't do) in "Promoting Safe Walking and Cycling to Improve Public Health:
Lessons from The Netherlands and Germany"

http://www.ajph.org/cgi/reprint/93/9/1509.pdf

Posted by bakfiets | November 5, 2007 5:14 PM
49

my positions:

1) bikers should obey the rules, but it's hard when the deck is stacked against them. example (a): many lights around the city do not respond to the presence of bikers. this kind of functional problem with our streets breeds the tendency for bikers to run lights. no excuse, but an explanation. i obey all rules unless the light won't respond to my me being there. then after a substantial wait, i go.

2) bikers need to be patient with their often angrier auto brethren. car drivers are literally in a bubble and don't realize that their aggressive driving is scary. is this an excuse? no, but it's another explanation. car drivers think that a lot of the behavior exhibited by bikers toward them is because bikers are "jerks." this ain't so and i would posit biker's reactions are more based out of getting the living bejesus scared outta them. why do drivers get so freaking mad at bikers anyways? do you yell and scream in the office? at home? at the grocery store? what gives you the right to do that to bikers? civility, people.

3) we need police enforcement for when bikers are hit or threatened. aggressive driving, shootings, and threats toward bikers cannot be tolerated in this city. we need to obey the laws, but when the laws are broken they should be enforced equitably, whether the offense is on foot, bike, or in a car.

4) are cars in that big of a hurry? half the time i am passed in an aggressive fashion by a car, i immediately meet said car at the next intersection. i think this relates back to the tendency of drivers to forget that they are driving vehicles that can and often do kill people. i admit that when i drive (yes, i drive) i am hypnotized into this same kinda behavior. it sucks and all of us when we drive in cars should watch out for it.

5) if you care about climate change and you want to reduce our dependency on oil, get out of your car. please realize that a number of bikers actually are on the roads because they want to do something good for the planet. you call yourself a liberal? then act like one.

6) likewise, if the city really wants to be green, it needs to get going and focus on reducing its carbon footprint (which btw is going to go up because of our poor transportation choices--namely the car). in order to change this tide we need a massive push for funding alternatives for bikes and peds. a change in bike use from 3% to 5% of total trips is substantial and is very cost effective (the entire bike master plan's implementation would cost only $250 million over 10 years. that's a sliver of the cost for anything auto-related (e.g. $4+ billion for 520 replacement).

in closing, i happen to like seattle more than portland. in the case of developing bike infrastructure, portland is doing it better. is that a bad thing? no, especially not for portland. it just means that seattle needs to get going and make this city bike and climate friendly, fast. let's do it.

Posted by bikentrasnit | November 5, 2007 5:23 PM
50

i've decided that the vast majority of drivers are a-ok by me. but one of these days, i am going to hurt a car driver. i'm not proud of it, but they do attack, and i fight back.

people who have the 'CARS SAME AS BIKES' stick up their butts need to consider: (1) it's not true: bikes are both pedestrians and vehicles, and (2) bikes aren't dangerous until you add cars. it's the flesh-killing power of a car that is the cause of ALL this bullshit.

as a car driver myself, i am not in a big hurry to pass anyone. what's the hurry? you don't just need a ton of steel around your precious butt, but you need it to go FAST, too? fuck you. chill out. pass when safe.

cars induce a psychology of impotence. the power is an illusion, reliant on your ongoing committment to a giant machine. if you aren't hauling stuff or people, and it's not raining cats and dogs, change your life! you're enslaved! break out!

Posted by mcfnord | November 5, 2007 7:40 PM
51

Hello from Portland. I find this absurd bike vs. car standoff as pointless as any Seattle v Portland discussion. We're two cities trying with varying success to make our environments better. Portland is perhaps a little more compact than Seattle, and has some easier terrain, so that may explain part of our success. We also have jerks in both cars and bikes (I believe these are the same people, who, whatever their choice of transport, are just jerks. If they rode the bus, they'd have loud cell phone conversations while not giving up their seat to the elderly).

Here we also have a debate about vehicular cycling vs separated facilities. I see both sides, and think the solution is a mix of both, to give options to the fit, experienced riders as well as the beginners and the cautious.

Seattle, good luck improving your bike presence. I'll ride up there one day, and check it out.

Posted by peejay | November 5, 2007 8:14 PM
52

listen bikers....biking is cool and all but you need to pump some of that blood out of your legs and into your brain. even though you have the right to ride on the road....it MIGHT not be a good idea to slowllly bike down the middle of a busy street at 400 pm wearing a pair of itty bitty shorts, a skin tight tank top and a bright yellow helmet with reflectors on them while being tailgated by a giant Hummer....ok. It Might not be a good idea to like do a hand signal and have an airheaded smile on your face while you turn directly into the path of a giant truck. This city has that most CLUELESS bikers who have no concept of safety or common sense....listen...the fact that you have the legal right to bike does not prevent a giant hummer from toppling you over and that ridiculous yellow helmet wont protect you...ok....

Posted by .... | November 5, 2007 9:17 PM
53

for a moment, enter the head of an a**hole cyclist. "cars are bad for our lungs, bad for our environment, a threat to peoples' safety. if everyone biked, the world would be a better place. i am going to make it as difficult and inconvenient for motorists to drive as I can, without getting killed. i deserve a place in the city more than a dirty car, and i am not getting this space." when bureaucracies move slow, cyclists move fast. this isn't sharing the road, and maybe it does more bad than good for the car/bike relationship. but maybe it is necessary to be seen, to get a place in the mind of the motorist - "yeah, maybe cyclists deserve more room.." or maybe the motorist just doesn't care about the common good and wants to run over the cyclist.. so so sad.

Posted by poo | November 5, 2007 9:42 PM

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