Oregon State Police blames vulnerable victims while driving deaths spin out of control — Front Page – BikePortland.org

When you read this, do not freak out. Do not think “Kevin is on the highway, this could happen to him.” Because this could happen to anyone. Our entire society is dictated by the automobile. More people die in auto accidents than most of our major fears – murder, terrorism, plane crashes. Automobiles are deadly yet we are numb to their destructiveness. If you want your loved ones safe, tell them to eat healhty, get exercise, and AVOID CARS. We MUST stop blaming people who walk and bike – they are making the safe choice, the healthy choice, the socially-beneficial choice yet we kill, maime, and then blame them everyday.

Also, since I know some of you will still worry note that I avoid major highways whenever possible, try to time my riding to avoid times of heavy traffic, and rarely ride after dark.

 

Just some of the Oregon driving carnage of the past two weeks.(Photos: Oregon State Police) This is an editorial. The Oregon State Police issued a relatively rare safety message to the media today. In light of three collisions in the past nine days that resulted in the death of someone trying to walk or roll…

via Oregon State Police blames vulnerable victims while driving deaths spin out of control — Front Page – BikePortland.org

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Ready, Set, Go!

Friday was the last day in our apartment – everything out, nothing left with us except the little we will carry for the next 4+ months. A few things went into storage, but for the most part Lindsey and I cleaned house. The last 6 months living in that apartment were a pain in the ass anyway. First the bed bugs and the run-around from our landlord, then the roaches, all the construction noise, and we never did get that washer and drier we were promised…boy it felt good to leave!

Day 1: After staying with a friend in Seattle on Friday night, and barely squeezing in a last-minute trip to REI on Saturday morning, we met our friends at the ferry to Bremerton. Five people rode with us about 18 miles to Belfair State Park for a night of camping.  Another two friends and their dog met us there and we ate drank, toasted, and celebrated our friendships. The evening was all fun and it felt so great to get everyone together one last time.

 

Lunch stop at El Balcon, in Bremerton, WA – so good!

 

Day 2: This morning we woke and dilly-dallied while everyone slowly broke down camp and eventually said our final goodbyes. There were some tears and sad faces, but I don’t think it will really hit me for a few days. But I know it’s not goodbye – even though I don’t know where we will be going after our travels end I know we will be back to visit. These are some of my favorite people – I’m going to miss you!

 

Our friends came out for a night of camping to send us off!

After going our separate ways, Lindsey and I headed south towards Shelton, WA where we are staying with Donna, a Warm Showers host. Along the way we swam at Twanoh and ate a lunch of local produce and ice crea at Hunter Farms outside Union. The salad with smoked slamon was exactly what we needed after eating mostly junk and beer for the last 24 hours. Originally, we were going to spend the night with all our friends at Twanoh, which would have put us further from Seattle and about 45 miles to the next destination, Schafer State Park. But having stayed at Belfair (Twanoh was full) it would have been 60+ miles to Schafer. We reached out to Donna on Saturday and within just a few hours she confirmed we could spend Sunday night at her home.

Right now Lindsey and Donna are talking while I write this up. Donna made homemade bread and provided fresh greens, tomatoes, and peppers from her garden which Lindsey and I used to cook dinner. We swapped stories about travel, family, and all types of stuff – it is amazing how easy it is to find common ground and bond with complete strangers! I’m looking forward to meeting new folks and remind myself not just how beautiful this country is, but how great the people are and how lucky I am to live to have this opportunity!

Happy Riding!

 

 

Scofflaw Biking Survey: Bike Riding, Traffic Laws, Perceptions

I ride my bike almost every day. When I bike, I break traffic laws.

I drive a vehicle several days a week. When I drive, I break traffic laws.

I walk every day. When I walk, I break traffic laws.

There is a lot of hubbub out there about people breaking traffic laws while biking. But the thing is everyone breaks traffic laws and anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant, lying to themselves, or lying to you. Probably a mix of all three. Speeding, rolling stops, jaywalking, not using turn signals, turning across double yellow lines, riding against traffic, trespassing…the list of laws people break while traveling are endless. While some laws are mode-specific (it is pretty hard to speed while walking) every traveler has laws they disregard. And we disregard them for a variety of reasons. A lot of behavioral research is studying how and why people break traffic laws in order to enlighten and perhaps even improve our current traffic laws.

Once such study from the University of Colorado, Denver, named “Bicycle Scofflaw Study” is looking specifically at people breaking traffic laws while riding a bike. What laws do they break? Why do they break those laws? How often do they break the laws? Please take this survey and share your input! I wrote a small essay for each of the comments (take the survey on a desktop – mobile versions do not allow you to make as many comments) because I wanted to give ample evidence as to why behave the way I do while cycling.

Take the Survey

Curious about my responses? Want to know my philosophy on traffic laws and biking? Driving? Walking? Shoot me a message or leave a comment – I am happy to share.

 

Scofflaw Biking Survey (Yeah, We Said It) | Washington Bikes

Wordplay: Language a New Focus of Bicycle Advocacy

A few months ago I posted a short piece reflecting on my disassociation with cyclist and instead identifying myself as an urbanite. I was inspired to think intentionally about the cyclist label after a discussion with my classmates in Cascade Bicycle Club’s Advocacy Leadership Institute. Tom Fucoloro, author of the Seattle Bike Blog, sparked our minds by challenging the sensibility of using labels such as driver, cyclist, and pedestrian. Makes sense to me – after all, I am all of these things at various times and it seems foolish to define myself by how I get around.

Now, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is in the spotlight for a blog article it wrote about using better language to break down perceived barriers between people using different modes of transportation. Clearly SNG is finding success; the idea of breaking barriers through more appropriate language not only appeared in my class but also in my neighborhood group. I find my daily language changing and noticed fewer people around me identifying themselves as cyclists. After all, we are all just people, right?

Check out SNG’s quick-guide to positive language:

Language guidelines from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Language guidelines from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

More on this:

Let’s Talk About Safe Streets | Seattle Neighborhood Greenways: http://seattlegreenways.org/blog/2015/01/06/lets-talk-safe-streets/

HOW SMART LANGUAGE HELPED END SEATTLE’S PARALYZING BIKELASH | People For Bikes (with comments by Tom Fucoloro of the Seattle Bike Blog): http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/how-smart-language-helped-end-seattles-paralyzing-bikelash

Seattle Bike Blog: http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2015/02/09/im-not-a-cyclist-supporting-safer-streets-is-obvious-once-you-ditch-vehicle-language/

Language, Vehicle Size, and Bicycle Advocacy | IsolateCyclist: http://www.isolatecyclist.com/2013/12/09/language-vehicle-size-and-bicycle-advocacy/

Accidents Vs. Collisions | Living Streets Alliance: http://www.livingstreetsalliance.org/2013/03/accidents-vs-crashes/

Respectfully Sir, My Life Matters

It’s not a war on cars. It is a war for my life. It is a war for his life, her life, and their lives. It is a fight to make streets safer for everyone, not just cyclists. It is campaign to choose safety over speed. Slow Down for Life.

Ask yourself this:

How often do you go home at the end of the day and discuss how your life has been put in danger? 

Chances are the answer to that question will depend on your main mode of transportation. People in several thousand pound metal bubbles probably don’t think about it all that much. After all, being hit while driving a car can be quite painless, especially in settings where speed limits tend to be low. But that is not the case for pedestrians and cyclists. When you are not in a car you don’t have that extra protection keeping you safe in the event of a crash. You are vulnerable In fact, in the state of Washington you pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable travelers are legally classified as a vulnerable user. And vulnerable you are – just look at your chances of survival if hit by a vehicle moving at speed:

An graphic from one of SDOT's presentations on the Rainier Ave Safety Project. SDOT commonly uses this graphic to convey the importance of slowing vehicles.

A graphic from one of SDOT’s presentations on the Rainier Ave Safety Project. SDOT commonly uses this graphic to convey the importance of slowing vehicles.

Now, before you think “he is just a whining cyclist” remember that I ride everyday, walk quite a bit, and currently drive commercially as a courier for a blood center. Before that I drove for a food bank. Before that I switched off biking and driving on a cross-country trek. And dispersed in there I drive when I need to. As I said before, I do not consider myself a cyclist. I am simply an urbanite, and my bike is the most sensible mode of transportation for my daily needs. This is not about cyclists. This is about life.

So let me ask again:

How often do you go home at the end of the day and discuss how your life has been put in danger?

Do you know what my answer is?

Every day. Every single day I speak with another person who walks or bikes and we share our struggle to gain respect and stay safe on the road. Why must we do this? Why do our lives not matter? When will I be able to go home and not worry that my life is at risk because I am trying to live a healthy, sustainable lifestyle?

Case in point: Yesterday I rode home from work along Lake Washington Boulevard southbound from the southern edge of the Arboretum to Colman Park just south of I-90. For the most part I was respected, and people passed me safely. But as I was passing Leschi Park that all changed when two vehicles came up behind me. The first passed safely; the second came far too close. As his passenger door came level with me he began cutting back over, pulling his right rear within a foot of me. Instinctively I reached out and banged the side of his car yelling “HELLO, I AM HERE!” I know banging on people’s cars does not make them happy – car brain usually makes them unreasonably angry. But I will protect myself.

Unfortunately, in this case car brain had completely devoured the man’s mind to the point where his sympathy for the life of another human being disappeared. He not only slammed on his brakes and veered in from of me, causing me to swerve into the grass, but also continued to aggressively swerve, accelerate, and brake to keep me off-road until he was able to pin me at the next cross street. Thankfully, the shoulder turned smoothly into grass without curb or ditch – any obstacle surely would have thrown me on my face. As I come to a stop he rolls down his window.

“Don’t you hit my fucking truck you little asshole! Why the fuck did you hit my truck?”

Naturally, no amount of explanation calmed him or made him realize the dangerous position he put me in. My pleas for respect under limited and shrinking road space, feeling trapped between his truck and the grass, and being forced to ride over a very bad patch of pavement fell on deaf ears. He finished with a threat to flatten my face with his fist (as if he had not already tried this with his truck) and sped off throwing exhaust and gravel in my face.

Fortunately, the ordeal left me only angered but not injured. Later that night at Rainier Valley Greenways 18 community members sat together and discussed precisely what I want drivers to understand: we feel endangered and our lives matter. Please, choose safety over speed. Slow down for life.


Vision Zero in Nevada

This video from Vision Zero Nevada has been floating around cyberspace and I appreciate the transformation a little perspective adds as the questions change. See national traffic data, the international Vision Zero campaign, and Vision Zero Seattle (it’s coming!).

Slow Down for Life.

P.S.

Unfortunately, I was not planning on riding that day and so did not have my camera that I have been using to document all of my rides. If I was recording his face would be plastered all over the internet right now and his dangerous actions would contribute to my future video highlighting my biking experience. I will be more vigilant with recording and next time the aggressive driver won’t be so lucky.

Thanksgiving Reflection: Thankful for Bikes

The irony of using my car to power a pump to inflate my bike's tire is not lost on me. Unfortunately, the drivetrain was not rideable.

The irony of using car power to inflate my bike’s tire is not lost on me. Unfortunately, the drivetrain was not rideable.

I am thankful for bikes. Corny, right? I spent the last two weeks visiting family and friends in a less than bike-friendly part of Pennsylvania. I will not lie – I loved the convenience of having a car. I did not worry about the snow. I did not worry about the cold. I did not worry about planning a safe, flat route. I just hopped in and drove off. What convenience! And I never arrived sweaty, frozen, or soaked. Now that is luxury. But I missed my bike, and so did my body. Continue reading