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

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

More Traffic Violence: Hit & Run on Rainier Ave

Another instance of drivers running down pedestrians and fleeing the scene in the rainier Valley? This is becoming ridiculous. Can a strong road rechannelization prevent bad driving? Probably not. But smart engineering can slow speeds, increase pedestrian safety, and make it less likely these collisions will continue at such high rate. This is just one more tragic example of why Seattle DOT needs to take Rainier Ave safety seriously – and do a complete overhaul prioritizing Safety over Speeding.

Woman struck while crossing Rainier: ‘I have never been so scared and alone’ | Seattle Bike Blog

 

Story of Survival

Brandon Blake was hit by a car while cycling on Dexter Ave. last year. Thankfully he survived, but not everyone who is hit is so lucky. I rode that same section of Dexter every day on my work commute from Queen Anne and now that I moved to Beacon Hill I still use it as a main thoroughfare when traveling north. One of my best friends rides it on his everyday commutes. Thousands pass along Dexter everyday as they go about there business. What is to keep us form being hit? From being killed?

Read about Brandon’s story on the Seattle Bike Blog. His band, More of Anything, will be playing a show Friday in West Seattle. There is no cover and some special guests are expected. Show solidarity for your fellow cyclist and check it out!

The New 2nd Ave…By Night

In the wake of the tragic death of Sher Kung two weeks ago, Seattle’s cyclists have anxiously awaited the opening of the newly renovated 2nd Ave from Pike to Yesler. With the promise of bike signals, protected lanes, and more visibility by turning motorists the redesign makes us hope this is the last time we must gather together and solemnly ride down 2nd Ave. Well, the new two-way cycle track opened yesterday with the help of volunteers from Cascade Bicycle Club who were on-hand to help orient bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers to the new set-up. Unfortunately I could not make it yesterday, but tonight I put the track to a good test: night riding. I must say, I am satisfied. As you’ll see, I prepared myself for several cars to cut me off with left-hand turns but each and every one stopped. I felt safe…finally.

 

The new infrastructure has me feeling so much safer! It also facilitates traffic flow by separating turning vehicles from the regular flow and allowing them a separate turning signal to ensure cars are not blocked by pedestrians and bikes.

It’s a great system – all that is left is to make sure everyone behaves responsibly. The end result should increase safety and travel speed for all users.

Memorial Ride Honors Sher Kung

On Friday Cascade Bicycle Club organized a memorial ride for Sher Kung, the woman who was killed last week while riding on 2nd Ave in Seattle. After an odd start with riders broken into groups of 10 everyone stopped at the plaza adjacent to the crash scene. Speakers from Cascade, the mayor, and a friend of Sher recalled her intelligence, passion, and commitment. I already shed tears for a woman I never knew when I first visited the ghost bikes – this time it was the sight of her friends and family in tears that struck a chord.

It is easy to think about this as “just another tragedy” when thinking about it in the larger picture of urban planning and transportation but to the people who knew Sher this is life changing. I pray I never know what it feels to lose a loved one in this way. Still, my presence was important. A number of people asked me what the demonstration was for as we prepared in Westlake Center and, after hearing my explanation, naturally asked if I knew Sher.

No, but she’s one of us.

Cyclists must unite. We must stand together. We are a diverse group and we hardly agree on appropriate cycling clothing, let alone urban cycling etiquette and the best bike infrastructure. But we all agree on one thing: we need to make cycling safer for everyone.

Thankfully, after the speakers and a moment of silence the Seattle Police Department agreed to escort us for the remained of our ride to Occidental Park. Hundreds strong, we rode solemnly down 2nd Ave. The irony of our privilege and safety on such a monstrous road was not lost on us. As wonderful as it was to own the road we can only hope tomorrow’s opening of a two-way protected bike lane will signal the end of these vigils…

Here are some photos from the event. In my opinion Komo News had the best video coverage: check it out here or look for footage from other local stations.

EDIT (9/9/14 @ 23:40):

I forgot I took this video. While there was no remembrance song, which would have been so beautiful, there was a very soft, almost serene chiming of bike bells. Perhaps in some ways this was the best…

Guerrilla road safety group ‘politely’ installs illegal bike lane protectors on Cherry Street | Seattle Bike Blog

 

The installed pylons clearly make the bike lane more visible.

In April a handful of locals calling themselves the “Reasonably Polite Seattleites” took action to demonstrate the ease and affordability of increasing safety for cyclists using an unprotected bicycle lane on Cherry St. in Seattle. These folks gathered together $350 and installed reflective pylons along the lane separating cyclists and drivers.

Based on my experience commuting in such lanes in other cities, 1) they slow speeding traffic by making the lane appear narrower (without actually reducing its size); and 2) it’s essentially a warning system for a drunk or distracted driver; once he hits one, he’s more likely to slow down, lessening the chance of hitting a cyclist or pedestrian down the road. This string cost about $350 in materials and required literally 10 minutes to install …

As expected, SDOT soon removed the pylons because they were not approved and because they were too tall:

Cherry Street is under the freeway and is owned by the State, so we do have to get their permission for reconfiguring the street.  If we had more lane width to work with, we could installed shorter posts.  Unfortunately, this is not the case here.

Unfortunately, this is the state of developing sustainable transportation under the current political and bureaucratic regimes. Strict regulations and jurisdictional  concerns institutionalize the status quo and create barriers to citizen action and common-sense solutions. Their demonstration may have been removed, but this “guerrilla” action speaks to citizens’ desire for more action and less burdensome regulation. May more people follow with similar polite, respectful civil disobedience.