Readers' Letters
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT A Portland cyclist makes the turn from Northeast Broadway onto North Williams Avenue, where a bike-specific signal alerts riders when it is safe to cross through traffic.

While Mia Birk makes some good arguments for specific infrastructure treatments to make life slightly easier for cyclists and pedestrians, she unfortunately lends credibility to the very wrong idea that a motorist is justified in denying me a safe space on the road because he saw some other cyclist running a red light (Lawbreaking cyclists: the answer, Sept. 15).

I have abided by the principles Ms. Birk recites for 50-something years. I use lights on rainy days. I yield to pedestrians in unmarked as well as marked crosswalks, often at the risk of being struck by an overtaking motorist. I signal not only turns and lane changes, but also my intention to assert the full travel lane where it is too narrow to share.

Most motorists do none of these things.

I do these things because they are sensible, but I do not find that it buys me even 'a shred of courtesy' from motorists.

Russ Willis

Northeast Portland

Consider bikes just another vehicle

Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles (Lawbreaking cyclists: the answer, Sept. 15).

Hal Ballard


Cyclists treat road as Tour de France

I have been a cyclist for years and I never started out being rude to cars, other pedestrians, etc. In fact, before I started my downtown commute, I (gasp!) actually read up on the city's website about proper signaling and how to move around in traffic.

It's interesting to me that there are a lot of excuses out there that my fellow cyclists make for not following the rules of the road (Lawbreaking cyclists: the answer, Sept. 15). They all know better, but they just choose not to respect stoplights; they choose not to call out 'on your left' when passing someone; they choose not to signal.

It's simple cockiness.

I don't think we need more signs made just for cyclists - we need more cops enforcing the law. Awhile back they were pulling cyclists over regularly for running the stop sign as cyclists turned onto (Northeast) Broadway. It's a horribly dangerous stop sign to run, because Wheeler is often turned onto by cars. This is not something that needs an extra sign - it needs cyclists to actually stop. Simple as that.

As a bike commuter, I'm lucky if I can count on one hand in my commute on North Vancouver/Williams each day how many cyclists actually signal and/or call out when they pass. Instead, most swarm around those who are slower, both from the right and left, and create many dangerous situations. I see (cyclists) do this around cars too on Broadway - and the cars don't know what to do.

I've seen a lot of courtesy from cars compared to other cyclists, who act like it's their own personal Tour de France out there and over the years have seen it get worse, not better, unfortunately.

And when you call out those who are running lights or otherwise endangering others with their reckless behavior? Nine times out of 10 you get flipped off or ignored.

More bike lanes? Yes. But special signals and lights? Come on, people: Just learn the rules of the road.

Aimee Fahey

Northeast Portland

Bikers protected, so why follow bike laws?

I think a lot of the 'scofflaw' attitudes that people on bikes may adopt is because they know they are part of a disenfranchised population (Lawbreaking cyclists: the answer, Sept. 15).

They know that in Oregon hitting a car or pedestrian with a car is a criminal crime, but hitting a person on bike is only a civil crime (a change that happened in the '70s). They know that if a car driver kills a biker all they have to say is, 'I didn't see them,' and they will get off without even a ticket. They know that people in cars can harass and yell at them, and that if they retaliate they will be the ones being arrested (I can cite all these with news stories in Oregon, if needed).

So, let's think about the victim mentality. People on bikes know that the law is against them, that they are not protected, and that when they get on their bike they are less-than-human in the eyes of the law. They know that starting at a green light at the same time as cars is less safe than if they start a little early and get up to speed before the cars. Their safety is in their own hands, they aren't protected by the law. What motivation, then, do they have to follow the laws?

Personally, I follow the laws because I agree that we need to change public perception. However, until killing a person on a bike is a real punished crime, and harassing a cyclist is punished as well, we can't expect many cyclists to 'turn the other cheek' like you are asking.

Mike Seager


Lents already has 'green' features

I noticed there was no mention in the article, 'Foster Road district hopes green means 'go'' (Sept. 8), of Trillium Artisans, the nonprofit green boutique at (Southeast) 92nd and Foster that has been here since 1999. Trillium is a small business development organization working with local low-income artisans to help them start and grow crafts businesses using a minimum of 50 percent recycled material in their work.

Trillium also operates on the triple bottom line principle: people, planet and profit. The three-pointed Trillium flower represents this and gave us our name.

Maybe it's not quite an 'environmentalist hotbed,' but Trillium is an obvious green effort in the heart of the Lents District.

Christine Claringbold

Southeast Portland

Foster Road needs more beauty

This sounds like a wonderful project (Foster Road district hopes green means 'go', Sept. 8).

I live just south of Foster and a little east of the defined corridor, but I drive a large part of the Foster Road corridor every day. I have been discouraged by the rundown appearance of the area east of Interstate 205 and would be interested in any roadside beautification plans (replacing weeds along the curbs with flowers or low maintenance plants, for example).

Catherine Wood

Southeast Portland

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