Capital Bikeshare vs. Dockless Bikeshare

As a resident of Arlington, I have a unique location to watch Capital Bikeshare “compete” with dockless bikeshare. I put “compete” in quotes because the mutual goal of Capital Bikeshare and the five dockless bikeshare companies is to get more people biking. However, some bike planners believe dockless bikeshare will pull enough people from Capital Bikeshare that it won’t be able to compete with dockless bikeshare.

Since bikeshare is still new to most Americans, I want to make sure everyone knows the difference between dock-based and dockless bikeshare. As the below photo shows, dock-based bikeshare systems require the bike to be docked at a station. Capital Bikeshare is the main dock-based bikeshare system that operates in the DC region.

2017-12-08 15.40.01

Photo: Ray Atkinson

As the below photo shows, dockless bikeshare systems have bikes that are self-locked. The five dockless bikeshare companies operating in the DC region are Jump, LimeBike, Mobike, ofo, and Spin. While Jump is the only company with e-bikes, LimeBike and Spin announced last week that they plan to start offering e-bikes soon.

2017-11-15 16.01.00

Photo: Ray Atkinson

While all six bikeshare systems have apps, which are shown below, it’s possible to use Capital Bikeshare without the app by purchasing a pass at the kiosk. Since not everyone has a smartphone, this reduces the barrier to bikeshare. In addition, only Capital Bikeshare can be used by paying cash. Many low-income people don’t have a credit or debit card, so this gives them access to using bikeshare.

Capital Bikeshare vs Dockless Bikeshare

Source: Transit App

I have a unique location to watch this bikeshare situation because of how the permitting process is unfolding across the DC region. While Capital Bikeshare is permitted to operate throughout the region, only DC has given permits to all five dockless bikeshare companies. As this Greater Greater Washington post explains, DC and Montgomery County, MD had an easier process than local jurisdictions in Virginia to create pilot dockless bikeshare programs because they are governed by Home Rule. Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, which means state law preempts local law. Local jurisdictions must receive permission from the General Assembly to act on local matters. Yes, Maryland is also a Dillon Rule state. However, Montgomery County became the first county in Maryland to adopt a home rule charter in 1948.

Since DC is geographically small and dockless bikeshare companies have been struggling to inform their customers that they don’t have permits to operate outside of DC, I have been watching how human behavior and government processes react to this issue. Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, which is impacting the ability of local jurisdictions to create pilot dockless bikeshare programs and regulate the dockless bikeshare companies. This is why Virginia doesn’t officially have dockless bikeshare yet. Arlington wrote this blog post to educate people about the different types of bikeshare. I found the following statements interesting.

“the six-month trial of dockless bikeshare is entirely a DC project at this time. The operators do not have an agreement with Arlington County so their operating location is within Washington, DC borders.

If you see a bike in Arlington, you can contact the operator to collect their bike to take back into DC, or you can ride the bike back into the operating location (JUMP bike offers a $1 credit every when a bike is ridden back into the operating area).

This is all still very early in the experimental phase so there is no telling right now how policies could change.”

If this wasn’t confusing enough, only four of the five dockless bikeshare companies have permits from Montgomery County, MD to operate in Silver Spring and Takoma Park. I believe the fifth company, Jump, has decided not to expand to Montgomery County yet because it wants to focus on DC. None of the dockless bikeshare companies have permits to operate elsewhere in DC’s Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Plus, they can’t operate on National Park Service (NPS) property. This is important because the National Mall and regional trails like the Mount Vernon Trail are owned by the NPS.

Dockless Bikeshare

Map of dockless bikeshare’s service area in Silver Spring and Takoma Park, MD. Source: WashCycle

Even if the NPS gave permits to the dockless bikeshare companies to operate on its property, e-bikes are banned from NPS-owned trails. However, I haven’t seen this ban enforced and it doesn’t appear to be discouraging many people from riding e-bikes on trails. I am curious to see whether this controversial NPS ban becomes more heated as LimeBike and Spin join Jump in having e-bikes.

Since many regions throughout the US are working on dockless bikeshare regulations and permit programs, I want to share the below regulation breakdown from Twelve Tone Consulting. The North American Bikeshare Association published the Dockless Bikeshare Regulation Preliminary Guidance in January 2018.

Dockless Bikeshare Regulation Breakdown

Source: Twelve Tone Consulting’s Dockless Bikes: Regulation Breakdown

Dockless bikeshare parking issues have been reported in many locations, so look at Dockless Bike Fail’s tweets for photo evidence. What do you think about the issues I have discussed in this post?

Ray Does Have Multimodal Experience

While I still plan to write more about my study abroad trip last summer to the Netherlands, I have been surprised by how some people think I am only focused on bike planning. I want to resolve any confusion people may have about my multimodal experience. Since my resume mostly shows bike planning experience and this blog is mostly about biking, I have been asked during job interviews whether I have any transportation planning experience beyond bike planning. Some of my bike friends in Portland have told me that they have also been asked this question during job interviews and believe it is a common question for any Portland-based transportation planners applying for jobs outside of Portland. They told me the question is most likely due to the fact that Portland is known mostly for bike planning outside of Portland. Yes, I have extensive experience in transportation planning beyond bike planning. Through this post, I plan to show a variety of transportation planning projects I have worked on.

Pedestrian Planning

“Whether you live in a city or a small town, and whether you drive a car, take the bus or ride a train, at some point in the day, everyone is a pedestrian.”
Anthony Foxx
United States Secretary of Transportation

I believe in prioritizing people and creating human-sized cities. In case you are wondering what I mean by “prioritizing people”, read my previous blog post about advocating for people. Since everyone is a pedestrian and pedestrians are a vulnerable road user, I feel it is important to showcase my pedestrian planning work first. While I have worked on many pedestrian planning projects, the biggest pedestrian planning project was my planning workshop project during winter and spring terms at Portland State University. My planning workshop group, which consisted of a total of four Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) students, worked with Tigard, Oregon and State of Place to create a walkability and economic development plan for the Tigard Triangle.

 

If you don’t have time to read the entire plan, I would like to highlight the below map because it shows the importance of the plan. The State of Place Raw Score shows walkability scores for every road segment in the Tigard Triangle. Value per Acre shows economic development opportunities. Through the plan my group created, we prioritized walkability and economic development improvements in the Tigard Triangle.

Tigard Triangle Walkable Small Business

Map from Ray’s Workshop Project

Bicycle Planning

Since everyone already knows I’m passionate about bicycle planning and most of my blog has already been devoted to writing about biking, I’m not going to write much about my bike planning experience. This previous blog post shows a map I helped create during my Transportation Planning Internship at Toole Design Group.

Automobile Planning

Even though I am mostly passionate about pedestrian and bicycle planning, I do have automobile planning experience and do care about motorist safety. After all, motorists are people. During my Transportation Planning Internship at Charlotte DOT, I calculated Level of Service (LOS) for many intersections. One of my goals of calculating LOS was to improve motorist safety.

Transit Planning

All of my internships have involved pedestrian, bicycle and automobile planning so I don’t have too much experience with transit planning. However, as the below map shows, I did some transit planning during my workshop project.

Transit in Tigard Triangle

Map from Ray’s Workshop Project

I hope I have convinced you that I have well rounded transportation planning experience.

Should bike map be used to show off or keep cyclists safe?

I’m tired of reading news reports about cyclists dying. While I feel most people feel hopeless about how to prevent more deaths, I have been thinking about easy, cost-effective ways to help save people’s lives. As a geographer and transportation planner, I believe bike maps can help save people’s lives. However, bike maps must show the correct information. Metro, which is the MPO for the Portland region, edited its bike map after someone died while using a Portland bike map to find what the cyclist thought was a safe route. Metro’s bike map didn’t show the correct information to keep cyclists safe. However, as this cyclist asks, should a bike map be an important safety tool?

The current approach most cities in the United States are using is to build as much bike infrastructure as possible and show all of their bike infrastructure on a map. As the below figure shows, cities are using their bike infrastructure to show off to other cities and attract cyclists to move to their cities. Since there are glaring inaccuracies with the figure, which you are welcome to ask me more about, I’m not sharing the figure so you can compare cities. Instead, I’m sharing the figure so you can see how cities are competing with each other for the most miles of bike infrastructure. While it is great to see bike infrastructure, how much of the infrastructure is actually safe?

Bike infrastructure per square mile in large cities 2014

Source: 2014 Bicycling and Walking in the USA Benchmarking Report

For the rest of this blog post, I will discuss two bike maps, which I found in the Appendices of Charlottesville’s 2015 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. The first bike map shows all of Charlottesville’s bike infrastructure. The second bike map shows Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) analysis for Charlottesville’s entire road network. You can learn more about LTS analysis in this blog post. While bike infrastructure is used to create the LTS bike map, bike infrastructure isn’t the only measure used in the LTS bike map. Which bike map do you feel makes Charlottesville look like it is trying to show off to other cities and which bike map shows Charlottesville as trying to make its road network safer for people to bike?

Charlottesville Bike Map

Since many cyclists depend on maps to direct them along safe routes, bike maps need to only show bike routes that will keep cyclists safe. This blog post demonstrates my point. While Jonathan Maus doesn’t mention LTS analysis, I believe LTS analysis can be used to create a safer bike map. During my transportation planning internship at Toole Design Group, I helped create the below LTS map. Note how no bike infrastructure is included in the map legend. This is the critical difference I’m trying to make between a bike infrastructure map and a LTS bike map.

Charlottesville LTS Map

Even if a bike lane was installed on a road with LTS 4, which means it is very uncomfortable to bike on, the LTS bike map would continue to show the road as LTS 4 until the speed limit and/or annual average daily traffic (AADT) are reduced. The bike infrastructure map shows the road as having a bike lane regardless of the speed limit and AADT. This difference is why I’m a huge advocate for LTS analysis. To learn more about this difference, watch this video by Sam Schwartz Engineering and this video by Peter Furth.

The below graphic shows how LTS analysis compares with the four types of transportation cyclists. Through using a LTS bike map, “interested but concerned” cyclists can easily understand which routes they should use. A traditional bike infrastructure map forces cyclists to guess which bike lane is actually safe enough to use. What I mean by this is that a bike lane on a 45 mph road is not the same as a bike lane on a 25 mph road. Unfortunately, a bike infrastructure map doesn’t show the difference between the two bike lanes. A LTS bike map does show the difference because speed limit is included in a LTS bike map. Which bike map do you want to use when planning your next bike trip?

who does the bike facility serve

What should I do to avoid being left and right hooked?

I was almost left and right hooked several times last week while riding in bike lanes in downtown Portland, Oregon so am planning to buy a $65 Orp. The below video and photo show how an Orp works.

Unfortunately, I can’t use the Orp to communicate with motorists waiting at a stop light that I’m planning to continue straight from the bike lane. The Orp just alerts motorists that I don’t want to be hit. It doesn’t inform motorists whether I will be turning or continuing straight. Since I can see whether the motorist’s turn signal is on, I know when I need to communicate with the motorist that I plan to continue straight. In order to inform motorists that I plan to continue straight, I have been pointing straight, trying to make eye contact with the motorist and yelling “straight”. Even with all of this, I had two motorists almost hit me while I was biking in the door zone bike lane on SW 5th Avenue in downtown Portland on Thursday, October 22. I kept trying to make eye contact with the motorists and yelling, but their windows were up so they couldn’t hear me and they didn’t see me until I heard their brakes squeak. Thankfully, they both were going slow, which allowed them enough space to stop in time. However, I felt my heart beating very fast so know it was way too close for my safety and comfort.

Since my strategies aren’t working to keep me safe from being left and right hooked, what should I do to avoid being left and right hooked in the future? Vehicular cyclists (according to this discussion, I have now learned that they prefer to be called bike drivers) keep telling me in the Cyclists are Drivers! facebook group that I need to “just line up with the rest of the traffic that’s going straight.” Unfortunately, as I wrote in this blog post, Oregon law requires me to use the bike lane in most situations and doesn’t allow me to impede traffic so I am forced to feel unsafe and uncomfortable in the bike lane. I have copied the Oregon statutes to show you why the law needs to be changed. Section 814.420.3.e is copied below.

“A person is not in violation of the offense [of leaving a bicycle lane or path] under this section if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of: (e) Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right.”

Note the phrase: “where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right”, as this only applies to bike lanes to the right of right turn only lanes, and not lanes where motorists can go through or turn right, which is the overwhelming majority of cases on the streets.

After receiving more advice from the Cyclists are Drivers! facebook group, I am planning to break several Oregon laws starting on Monday by controlling the full travel lane on roads with a bike lane and impeding traffic. Since I value living another day more than following unsafe Oregon laws, I am open to being arrested and receiving a ticket. Do you see any safe and comfortable options that are permitted under Oregon law so I don’t risk dying while biking?

Biking Across Unsignalized Intersection

Since my dad heard my passion for being a lawyer and critiquing the law when I young and still does, I’m not surprised this is my fourth consecutive blog post about Oregon laws. I took a legal planning course at PSU and have explained traffic laws to many pedestrians, cyclists and motorists in Portland over the past year so I still feel like I’m following my passion for understanding and critiquing the law without being a lawyer.

As the below award shows, which I received in 4th grade, I also had passions to be a meteorologist and geographer before switching to geography and urban planning in high school. You can read more about my career shifts in my previous blog post called “Advocating for Automobiles to Advocating for People”. My love for meteorology and geography came from watching weather maps on the local news and reading maps, which I began reading during a family trip to Charleston, SC in the 1990s (I was born in 1990). My dad asked my brother, sister and I who wanted to read the paper map (yes, I was alive before commercial use of GPS started) to navigate our trip to Charleston, SC. I raised my hand first so became and still am the family navigator.

Speaking of navigating, how do I safely navigate my bicycle across unsignalized intersections? The simple answer is to wait until I know it is safe for me to cross. I try to take this approach as often as possible. However, if I always approached unsignalized intersections this way it would take me several minutes to cross the road because most busy unsignalized intersections have a steady stream of automobile traffic. Due to the motorist’s blind zone, which is shown in the blue area in the below image, I wouldn’t feel safe crossing a multi-lane road until motorists in all lanes of traffic have fully stopped their automobile.

Motorist's blind spot is in the blue area

Motorist’s blind spot is in the blue area

Instead of all the motorists fully stopping their automobiles, I often find one motorist stopping and waiting for me to proceed through the intersection. Since I don’t immediately go, the motorist often signals with their hands for me to go or honks to make sure I understand they are getting impatient. Even though most motorists in Oregon likely don’t know it, they can be partially at fault for a collision with another vehicle if they encouraged someone to move. A cyclist actually sued two motorists for over $670,000 after one of the motorists hit her and another motorist encouraged the other motorist to proceed. The motorist that encouraged the motorist to proceed didn’t see the cyclist so thought it was safe for the motorist to proceed. This is why I don’t trust when a motorist motions for me to proceed through an unsignalized intersection.

To give you an idea about what type of unsignalized intersection I am having difficulty crossing on my daily bike commute to and from work, I have provided the below street view. SE 16th Avenue through this area has sharrows, marked crosswalks, and yield to cyclist and pedestrian signs so cyclists and pedestrians are encourages to use SE 16th Avenue. However, this doesn’t mean crossing E Burnside St is easier. Even though I don’t feel safe doing it, I have often had to start rolling my bike in front of approaching high speed automobile traffic because the automobile traffic wouldn’t stop unless I forced it to. Once I start recording my bike rides with a GoPro, which I plan to purchase for my birthday this weekend, I will start sharing video of how quickly automobile traffic stops for me at this intersection.

E Burnside St at SE 16th Ave

E Burnside St at SE 16th Ave

Thankfully, Oregon DOT has started a crosswalk campaign to educate motorists, cyclists and pedestrians about how every crosswalk, including marked and unmarked crosswalks, are legally covered by Oregon crosswalk law. The crosswalk law requires motorists to stop and remain stopped for cyclists and pedestrians at marked and unmarked crosswalks.

Oregon DOT Crosswalk Campaign

Oregon DOT Crosswalk Campaign

While crosswalk education is important, I would love to see a HAWK signal installed at E Burnside St and SE 16th Avenue to make crossing E Burnside St easier. Unfortunately HAWK signals are expensive so PBOT and ODOT likely prefer a marked crosswalk over a HAWK signal.

HAWK Signal

HAWK Signal

Near Death Experience

Even though I didn’t plan it, this is my third legal blog post in a row. I was biking along the SE Salmon/Taylor neighborhood greenway during my lunch break yesterday (Thursday) when I almost got hit by a motorist going full speed through a stop sign. The motorist was driving southbound on SE 37th Avenue and must not have seen the stop sign because she didn’t slow down. The intersection of SE Taylor Street and SE 37th Avenue doesn’t have a stop sign when biking on SE Taylor Street so I wasn’t prepared to stop.

Near death experience on Salmon/Taylor neighborhood greenway

Near death experience on Salmon/Taylor neighborhood greenway

Since the two southbound lanes of SE Cesar Chavez Blvd (39th) had bumper to bumper congestion in this area due to construction, the motorist was likely trying to bypass the congestion by using neighborhood streets. The southbound lanes are on the right side of the road so I’m going to assume she decided to turn right to bypass the congestion. As the below map shows, which can be zoomed out, the nearest through street to the west that parallels SE Cesar Chavez Blvd in this area is SE 37th Avenue. In addition to it paralleling SE Cesar Chavez Blvd, SE 37th Avenue and all the neighborhood streets in this area had very low traffic volumes so they are enticing as a detour to all the congestion on SE Cesar Chavez Blvd.

Even though SE 38th Avenue looks like it goes through in this area, a neighborhood trail blocks automobile access from SE Taylor Street to SE Salmon Street so only non-motorists can access the trail. Since I’m assuming the motorist who almost killed me knows the local streets, she likely was aware of this trail so chose SE 37th Avenue.

SE 38th Avenue Trail

SE 38th Avenue trail looking north from SE Salmon Street

Unfortunately this isn’t the first time in Portland that I have almost been killed by a motorist running a stop sign or light. As the below Facebook post shows, a Portland police officer almost killed Drew DeVitis and I when we were biking towards the Hawthorne Bridge in downtown Portland because the police officer sped through a red light without sirens on.

Portland, Oregon police almost killed me by running red light

June 2015 Facebook post with reply from my mom

Even though I didn’t post about it on social media, I was almost hit by a motorist on SE Salmon Street at SE 17th Avenue last winter. I was biking downhill (westbound) on SE Salmon Street and the motorist was heading northbound on SE 17th Avenue. The motorist had a stop sign and I had no stop sign so I wasn’t expecting to stop. Instead of coming to a complete stop, the motorist did a rolling stop while glancing to see if any traffic was coming. He evidently didn’t see me so I had to slam on my brakes to prevent crashing into him. Thankfully, after I yelled “you had a stop sign!”, he stopped and rolled down his window. He told me he did stop but didn’t see me and apologized for almost hitting me. I said thank you to him for apologizing and stopping to talk with me.

While I am thankful for still being alive after all these near crashes, what can I legally do in Oregon if I get in a crash and no police are present to report the crash? Oregon has a law that allows a citizen initiated citation. As this article discusses, the citizen initiated citation has been successful as long as you have video recording to show what happened. Since I don’t have a handlebar-mounted camera like a GoPro, I can’t currently have much success with a citizen initiated citation. Due to this, I’m seriously considering purchasing a handlebar-mounted camera to record all my rides. My 25th birthday is September 19 so I could purchase a GoPro for my birthday!

I didn’t discuss it in this post, but I’d love to know your thoughts on whether and what types of traffic diverters could help with reducing motorists from using neighborhood streets as a bypass around congestion on major roads. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) recently published a Neighborhood Greenways report that includes examples of diverters so PBOT is looking at installing diverters. Where and what types of traffic diverters would you install?

Control and Release

After writing my previous post about how Oregon’s laws are terrible for vehicular cyclists and encountering motorists that have no idea what control and release means when I use it, I wanted to discuss the importance of why I use control and release. Since I’m assuming most people don’t know what control and release is, I have provided the below short video, which was produced by Cycling Savvy.

Even though the below photo shows the control signal used by a motorcyclist, I couldn’t find a photo of a cyclist using the control signal. This likely means that few cyclists are using control and release. As I will discuss more later in this post, I didn’t learn about control and release until earlier this year.

Control Signal

Control Signal

In case you are still wondering why controlling the lane is safer than always edge riding, Cycling Savvy created this animation comparing the hazards of edge riding with the safety of controlling the lane. Even though I provided the below diagram in my previous post, I want to make sure you understand the need to control the lane before I continue with discussing control and release.

Most common reasons to leave a bike lane

Most common reasons to leave a bike lane

While I have been biking daily since freshman year of undergrad (2009) and controlling the lane where it is unsafe to ride on the edge since I learned how to control the lane sometime during undergrad, I only recently learned about control and release. The below screenshot of my post in the Cyclists are Drivers facebook group shows that I learned about control and release in May 2015.

Ray Atkinson's post about control and release in Cyclists are Drivers' facebook group.

My post about control and release in Cyclists are Drivers’ facebook group.

I have only taken the League of American Bicyclists’ Traffic Skills 101 course, which didn’t teach control and release, and no courses through Cycling Savvy, which didn’t offer courses in North Carolina until after I moved to Oregon and doesn’t offer courses in Oregon, so my education on how to do control and release has been through the video I shared with you at the beginning of this post and learning by trial and error.

My trial and error experiences in Portland have so far resulted in motorists not waiting on neighborhood greenways and choosing to pass me by crossing the double yellow line when the motorists feel they can speed up fast enough to pass me before the oncoming traffic closes the gap. However, I have had at least one successful use of control and release where motorists waited patiently behind me when I used the control signal and didn’t pass me until I moved over to the right and gave them the release signal. When I mentioned in my previous post about how Oregon law should allow cyclists to control the lane on any road and drive as slow as they need to, especially when they are trying to avoid hazardous conditions, I feel education of both motorists and cyclists should be incorporated. Motorists and cyclists should be taught how control and release works. This should result in cyclists being safer and less delay and inconvenience for motorists.

Cyclist’s Safety vs. Motorist’s Convenience

I have been thinking about vehicular cycling and the law ever since I started learning how to control the lane several years ago. However, my frustration with the law reached a new peak this week when I read this recently published article about Bicycles May Use Full Lane (BMUFL) signs and attended the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s Legal Clinic. The first half of this podcast covers almost everything that was covered during the Legal Clinic. My friend Gerald, who is also a vehicular cyclist and President of Bike PSU, and I asked Ray Thomas, who is a bike lawyer with decades of experience, about Oregon’s bike laws.

Before I continue, I should mention that I am not one of the vehicular cyclists that is against all segregated bike infrastructure. As my previous blog post discusses, I support segregated bike infrastructure that is safe, especially at intersections, which is very rare or doesn’t exist. The below diagram, which I found on Cycling Savvy, shows reasons why segregated bike infrastructure, especially bike lanes, isn’t safe. This animation, which was also created by Cycling Savvy, shows why lane control is so important for safety. Portland has plenty of on-street parking so I risk being doored while riding on door zone bike lanes every day.

Most common reasons to leave a bike lane

Most common reasons to leave a bike lane

Gerald and I were disappointed to learn just how bad Oregon’s bike laws are for vehicular cyclists. Even though neither of us have ever been pulled over by the police or given a ticket for vehicular cycling, we are concerned this could happen because the law is against us. As the below map shows, which I found on Dan Gutierrez’s facebook, Oregon isn’t the only state in the US to have laws against vehicular cyclists. Only two states, Arkansas and North Carolina, have equitable bicycling movement laws.

US States with Equitable Bicycling Laws

US States with Equitable Bicycling Laws

Using this legal bike guide, I will provide specific examples of how Oregon law is against vehicular cyclists. Since I didn’t want to overwhelm readers, I only copied the sections that I felt are most important so the entire statute is not copied. I also bolded the most important words.

ORS 814.430 Improper use of lanes; exceptions; penalty.
(1) A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person does not ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.
(2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:
(c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side. Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.

ORS 811.425 Failure of slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle; penalty.

While ORS 814.430 legally allows cyclists in Oregon to control the full lane, it limits where and under what circumstances cyclists are legally allowed to control the full lane. ORS 814.430(2)(c) and how it relates to ORS 811.425 concerns me the most. If Oregon really cares about Vision Zero, the speed of the overtaking vehicle shouldn’t matter because the cyclist’s safety should matter more than the motorist’s convenience to get places quickly. Cyclists should be allowed to control the full lane on any road and drive as slow as they need to, especially when they are trying to avoid hazardous conditions. Unfortunately, we live in an automobile dominated society and our laws reflect this.

Ray’s Interview with Perils for Pedestrians

While I am excited that my interview with Perils for Pedestrians from early 2013 has been posted online, I am frustrated that the bicycle and pedestrian safety issue I was interviewed about has become reality. Here is the video, which should be forwarded to when my interview takes place at 10:33.

In case you are unfamiliar with Charlotte, I have provided a map below that shows where the Mallard Creek Greenway is closed at North Tryon Street. As you can see, this closure is near an entrance to UNC Charlotte so people commuting from across North Tryon Street have few, if any, safe routes to arrive on campus by walking or biking.

The intersection on February 22, 2013

As any good advocate does, I took photos of the intersection on February 22, 2013. While looking at the below photo, where should pedestrians and bicyclists safely cross North Tryon Street?

Mallard Creek Greenway looking west towards North Tryon Street

Mallard Creek Greenway looking west towards North Tryon Street

If you expected people to safely walk or bike across North Tryon Street, please look at the below photo. Automobiles travel about 50 mph through here. The nearest signalized pedestrian crossing is about 1/3 miles north at Mallard Creek Church Road, but I highly doubt anyone is going to walk that far to use the crosswalk when this section of North Tryon Street has no sidewalks.

Would you walk across North Tryon Street?

Would you walk across North Tryon Street?

Phase I detour: August 2014-May 2015

Since I am currently living in Portland, I don’t have photos of the detour. I’m hoping one of my Charlotte friends will help by sending me photos of the detour. Thankfully, I found a University City Partners blog post from July 1, 2014, that discusses the phase one and two detours. The detour during phase one, which started in August 2014 and may have closed in May 2015, involved a temporary detour path along North Tryon Street’s southbound lanes, which were closed to automobile traffic during the detour. The below map shows this temporary detour.

Mallard Creek Greenway Detour Map

Mallard Creek Greenway Detour Map

State engineer Ron Graham said the greenway detour path traveled up a gravel access road to North Tryon Street and onto a temporary paved path along the edge of the closed southbound lanes to Mallard Creek Church Road. People using the detour path crossed Mallard Creek Church Road and North Tryon Street via existing pedestrian crossing signals. An existing sidewalk led them to the Kirk Farm Fields Park and the start of Mallard Creek Greenway. A short walk back up the greenway connected with the Toby Creek Greenway bridge and access to UNC Charlotte. Even though I didn’t see the detour or walk it, I’m impressed with reading this detour.

Phase II detour started in May 2015

Unfortunately, the phase two detour is very disappointing.

11017243_1013901811964564_6787240589571543277_n

July 2015 Photo: Giant University City

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July 2015 Photo: Giant University City

As I expected because I already knew the Barton Creek Greenway was being delayed when I asked Gwen Cook, Mecklenburg County’s greenway planner, about it in 2013,

“Design challenges have delayed a hoped-for second detour path – Barton Creek Greenway to University Place and UNC Charlotte. As a result, we may face several months in late 2015 without a greenway alternative.”

According to the blog post, phase two has no detour for pedestrians and bicyclists!

Once the state reopens the southbound bridge in May 2015 and reroutes northbound traffic onto the new bridge, the state must close the temporary greenway detour path, Graham says.

I find it interesting how the state “must” close the temporary greenway detour path. The main reason why NCDOT “must” close it is that NCDOT prioritizes automobiles over walking and bicycling.

Ray’s proposal for a phase II detour

Since I feel people in the United States often dismiss Dutch and Danish transportation infrastructure because they feel their city is too automobile dependent and doesn’t have funding to spend on bicycle and pedestrian safety projects, I’m very thankful inspiration for my phase two proposal comes from the United States. As I was biking along the Mount Vernon Trail near Fort Hunt National Park in Alexandria, VA on August 17, 2014, I was amazed by the below bicycle and pedestrian detour. To see all 22 photos of the detour, view my facebook album (sharing is set to public so anyone should be able to view it).

Bicycle and pedestrian detour along the Mount Vernon Trail

Bicycle and pedestrian detour along the Mount Vernon Trail

The below photo show the detour being routed onto an entire lane of George Washington Memorial Parkway, which is a state road maintained by the National Park Service. The reasons why I pointed out that it is a state road is because local jurisdictions have less control over what they can do with the road and North Tryon Street is a state maintained road. This is why many jurisdictions try to transfer state roads to city roads.

Let’s return to the NCDOT statement where Graham said, “the state must close the temporary greenway detour path.” Another option could have been to close the right southbound lane on North Tryon Street to automobile traffic so cyclists and pedestrians could have safely biked or walked to the signalized intersection at Mallard Creek Church Road. Was this option even discussed? If it was, I’m sure someone at NCDOT said, “motorists are going to hate us if we remove a travel lane!” I’m confident motorists didn’t enjoy having a travel lane removed on the George Washington Memorial Parkway either. Why did the Mount Vernon Trail have such a great construction detour for bicycle and pedestrian traffic while the Mallard Creek Greenway has no construction detour for bicycle and pedestrian traffic during phase two?

Mount Vernon Trail detour routed onto George Washington Memorial Parkway

Mount Vernon Trail detour routed onto George Washington Memorial Parkway

Phoenix’s Traffic Barricade Manual

John Wetmore informed me about how effective Phoenix’s Traffic Barricade Manual is for requiring contractors to provide a safe and convenient detour for pedestrians through construction zones. Here is a video of his interview with City of Phoenix staff about accommodating pedestrians through construction zones.

I plan to update this blog post after getting some photos of the phase two detour from a Charlotte friend and asking Gwen Cook for her thoughts on the feasibility of implementing my proposed detour for phase two.

Traffic Diverters in Portland

I returned to Portland about a week ago from the Netherlands. While I miss the connected network of protected bike lanes and protected bike intersections that I biked on daily in the Netherlands, I’m thankful to still have traffic calming in Portland. Since a few traffic diverters caught my attention while biking today, I’m going to focus this post on traffic diverters, which is a traffic calming device.

Holman Pocket Park

During my bike ride to experience Northeast Portland Sunday Parkways, which is part of a series of open street events, I biked through Holman Pocket Park, which may be the first street to park conversion in Portland history. In case you are wondering, local residents fully supported the street to park conversion with cheering during an open house meeting. The below video shows people biking through Holman Pocket Park.

The below map shows where NE Holman St used to go through the park. For more information about the Holman Pocket Park transformation from a street to a park, visit the City of Portland’s website.

Map of Holman Pocket Park

Map of Holman Pocket Park

Diagonal Traffic Diverter

On my bike ride home from Northeast Portland Sunday Parkways, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave because it is a permanent diverter. Many traffic diverters are temporary, which means they can be easily removed if people, especially motorists, don’t like the diverter. This is why I was impressed to see it is a permanent diverter. The below panorama shows the diagonal traffic diverter.

Diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave

Diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave

Since I didn’t stay long enough to get a photo with a cyclist using the diverter, I found the below photo that shows cyclists using the diverter.

Cyclists on NE Tillamook St using the diverter. Photo: David Baker Architects

The following map shows how the diagonal traffic diverter looks on a map. I talked with an elderly couple that was walking by when I was taking photos of the diverter. The couple said there are several other diverters in the Irvington neighborhood and they love how the diverters reduce cut through automobile traffic and make their neighborhood quieter. They walked away before I could ask how they felt about the diverters before the diverters were installed. From my experience with new infrastructure, people are often nervous about unfamiliar infrastructure so are usually against it until after the infrastructure is installed. I wouldn’t be surprised if the elderly couple didn’t always love the diverters.

Diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave

Diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave

Speaking of history, I was able to find some history about the diverter. According to Shawn Granton’s photo description, the diagonal traffic diverter on NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave was the “city’s first traffic diverter. I heard it was first installed as a neighborhood guerrilla action in the late 60’s to calm traffic, then was made official by the city.” A comment on his photo suggests 16th Ave was “the main drag”. Since 16th Ave is no longer the main drag, the diverter was successful in making the neighborhood have less cut through automobile traffic. Even though it didn’t exist in the 1960s, the diverter helped make the Tillamook neighborhood greenway possible by reducing automobile traffic on NE Tillamook St while providing bicycle and pedestrian access. I constantly saw this in the Netherlands so it is great to see this in Portland.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t finished blogging about everything I saw in the Netherlands. Fall quarter starts on September 28 so I have about two months to finish blogging about the Netherlands or else I will have to wait until after graduation next June to finish blogging. It feels great to write that I will finally be done with school soon!