Desegregate the Roads
I was disappointed to read your Oct. 31 cover story, “Vicious Cycle.” There is little evidence to support the idea that separated bike lanes reduce the rate of automobile-bicycle collisions. The arguments in favor of such lanes confuse correlation with causation: Amsterdam and Copenhagen may have lower bike accident rates, but this doesn’t mean that copying those cities’ separated bike lanes in Portland will have similar effects here.
The article mentions “Portland has more intersections and driveways than European cities that employ bike tracks”—indeed, and as separated bike paths do nothing to prevent accidents that occur at intersections, why are you advocating them as a solution to such accidents? According to a 1976 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, 89 percent of car-bike collisions occur when a car and/or bike is turning or crossing, yet separated bike paths are touted as a way of preventing accidents that occur when a car is overtaking a bike (only 7 percent of collisions, according to said study).
As is well-documented by John Forester in his book Effective Cycling , cyclists are safest when they follow the same rules of the road that apply to all vehicle operators. Separated bike paths hinder this goal rather than helping it. Cyclists, don’t be fooled by cargo-cult science: Bike path advocates may claim to have your safety at heart, but in reality their only concern is to keep you from slowing down some SUV driver on the way to their manicurist appointment.
Southwest 15th Avenue
Reading and Riding
Regarding “Vicious Cycle”: I support efforts to make Portland a safer cycling town; I also agree that we should “bust bad cyclists.” How about starting with the guy pictured on page 29, riding on the sidewalk of the Sellwood Bridge [see photo, left]? He may not resemble the stereotypical bad cyclist described in the article, but he is ignoring a clearly visible sign instructing cyclists to walk their bikes across the sidewalk. Not to do so endangers pedestrians. I know—whilst running across this bridge I was forced off the sidewalk and almost into the path of a car by a cyclist who didn’t dismount.
Southwest Lincoln Street
Stop the Pod People
While your recent article on potential improvements in Portland’s bike infrastructure contained some fine suggestions, it unsurprisingly failed to mention the most obvious fact, which would be immediately apparent to any outside observer, namely that opting to travel around a densely populated urban environment while encased within a massive steel and plastic pod a hundred times your own size and mass is simply an egregious usurpation of public space that should never have been tolerated in the first place.
The staggering inefficiency of the internal combustion engine, the 40,000 Americans killed by these pods each year, and the sheer, blatant obnoxiousness and aggravation they cause are all somehow mysteriously rendered opaque to public perception. The operators of these abominable contrivances have another blind spot besides the one in which cyclists and pedestrians are killed.
A quote from state Rep. Tina Kotek in last week’s issue was incomplete (see “Food Fight,” WW , Oct. 31, 2007). The complete quote should have read, “There’s a bigger picture here that the school district is missing.”
Also, a Jefferson High School soccer player whose status as a fifth-year senior led to his team’s forfeiting several games was misidentified in last week’s issue as a “star player” (see The Score, WW , Oct. 31, 2007). He was, in fact, a substitute. WW regrets the error.