BVC-CHAT (no subject)
j-coopersmith at tamu.edu
Tue Jan 22 11:26:02 CST 2008
January 10, 2008
Portland, Ore., Acts to Protect Cyclists
"Ghost bikes," riderless and painted white, were placed at two busy
intersections in Portland, Ore., last October, makeshift memorials to
two bicyclists killed when they were hit by trucks in accidents that month.
This spring, at those same intersections and at 12 others across the
city, "bike boxes" will be laid out on the roadway to provide a
clearly designated place for cyclists, in front of and in full view
of drivers, to wait for traffic lights to change. The boxes will be
marked with signs and wide stripes alerting drivers to stop behind
them at red lights.
Portland, which has a higher percentage of people who bike to work
than any other large American city, is already considered one of the
country's most bike-friendly urban centers. But the boxes, believed
to be the first such to be put to use by any city in the country,
will make cyclists even safer and more comfortable on the street,
biking advocates and transportation officials say.
"It's something the city has been talking about for a long time, but
these two deaths have certainly given an added sense of urgency,"
said Jonathan Maus, whose <http://bikeportland.org>bikeportland.org
is a focal point for Portland cyclists. "The community has just made
it so clear that this is very important, that they're very concerned
following these fatal crashes that things need to change."
By allowing cyclists to wait in front of motorized traffic, the bike
boxes are intended chiefly to reduce the risk of "right hook"
collisions, the kind most frequently reported in Portland, in which a
driver makes a right turn without seeing a cyclist who is in his
path. Drivers will not be allowed to pass through the bike box to
turn right on a red light, although many right hooks now occur after
the light has turned green, when traffic quickly accelerates.
Right hooks were what killed the two cyclists in October, a college
student and a bike racer hit by large trucks. The drivers say they
did not see them.
"In a lot of people's minds they weren't doing anything wrong and
they were just run over," said Roger Geller, bicycle coordinator for
the Portland Office of Transportation.
Another feature of the new project is that on the approach to an
intersection with a bike box, the bicycle lane will be the same color
as the box. "We want them to have that visual cue to take a look over
their shoulder," Mr. Geller said of drivers, "and we want cyclists to
know this is an area for potential conflict."
The city will spend about $150,000 on the bike boxes and also plans
to pay about $50,000 to retrofit larger trucks in the municipal fleet
with new mirrors to reduce blind spots and with guard bars to prevent
cyclists from falling into the trucks' big wheel wells.
The trucks involved in the October collisions were not city vehicles.
"We're just setting a good example," Mr. Geller said.
There were six cycling deaths in Portland in 2007, an unusually large
number, though Mr. Geller and others say that with bicycle use up
fourfold since the early 1990s, the rate of collisions has actually
declined. Mr. Geller credits driver awareness.
While the city is installing the bike boxes at certain busy
intersections, it is also trying to shift more riders away from bike
lanes on busy streets to what it calls bike boulevards, quieter
streets with less potential for collisions. The city is weighing a
proposal to spend about $25 million over 10 years to designate 110
additional miles of bike boulevards, for a total of 140, and make
other improvements for cyclists.
About 4 percent of Portland workers already commute by bike, and city
officials and biking enthusiasts say they believe the number can rise
"Bike advocates around the country are looking to Portland to create
a model of how an American city can be a bike-friendly city," Mr.
Geller said. "We feel that, and we take that seriously."
Dept. of History
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas 77843-4236
History & Philosophy of Science Section (L)
American Association for the Advancement of Science
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the BVC-chat