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Risky riders can haunt drivers

Readers' Letters
by: Jennifer Hardin A bicyclist pedals past the stop sign at Ladd Circle in Southeast Portland. Thousands of bicyclists cruise around the circle daily, traveling between the Hawthorne Bridge and the Clinton Street bike route.

Mia Birk's suggestion that cyclists not be obliged to honor stop signs hinges upon the self-involvement typical of some of her two-wheeled community (Stop signs don't work for bicycling, April 21).

Ms. Birk argues that she and her fellow cyclists will bear the brunt of 'the damage' if they disregard an intersection's safety regulations and 'misjudge the situation.' Yet, if my 3,000-pound vehicle makes contact with her in such circumstance, I have to live with the consequences of having seriously or fatally injured her or one of her 'kin.'

Moreover, I and others may endure injury if other multi-ton vehicles make contact with me as a result of the crash. Plenty of damage to go around for all concerned.

Until the cycling community decides as a collective that sharing the road with automotive vehicles requires abiding by the same laws, the narrow-minded narcissism rife among a good portion of them creates danger for all of us.

Kristine Munholland

North Portland

Make traffic controls efficient

The same techniques used by many bicyclists (momentum conservation, speed management, coasting, etc.) are largely the same techniques used by hyper-milers to squeeze every last mile-per-gallon out of their cars (Stop signs don't work for bicycling, April 21).

I think it would be possible to modify some traffic control devices (especially stop signs in specific types of intersections) such that cars and bicycles could both travel more efficiently. I like the yield sign plus speed bump combination idea; I wonder if there have been any studies of the safety/efficiency tradeoffs.

Keith Moore

Woodinville, Wash.

Ladd Circle needs lane markings

One of the benefits of traffic circles like Ladd is (that) you don't need stop signs or a traffic signal, though this is a real benefit where traffic is heavy (Stop signs don't work for bicycling, April 21). Normally, there's just a yield sign and traffic is allowed to proceed into the circle without stopping if the coast is clear.

That being said, I think one of the problems is that the (Ladd) Circle roadway is very wide and has no lane markings. (This makes) it somewhat of a free-for-all for bikes and between bikes and cars, leading to the 'dangerous passing.' One solution would be to stripe the inner portion of the circle as a bike lane. This would separate bikes and cars within the circle, allow drivers to turn right to exit the circle without having to conflict with bikes on the right and reduce the conflict points for bikes to two - one when entering the circle and getting over to the bike lane, and one when leaving.

Lastly, I know this doesn't answer the stop sign question in general. Bicyclists going through stop signs without stopping (whether legal or not) are still subject to being hit if they don't practice due care and check for cross traffic.

Jason McHuff

Northwest Portland

Bicyclists need to follow rules

The day bicyclists quit riding on the sidewalks in downtown Portland, pay their fair share of road costs, carry liability insurance and display an identifying placard so they may be identified by the public, I will then hear their voice of reason on matters such as the need to not fully stop at stop signs (Stop signs don't work for bicycling, April 21).

Until then, I willfully ignore any reasonable argument they may have, as willfully as they ignore the reasonable rules, regulations and laws the majority have enacted.

Paul Smith

Southwest Portland

Birk puts convenience over safety

Mia Birk's Eco-Thoughts argument that bicyclists should use their own discretion at stop signs is absurd (Stop signs don't work for bicycling, April 21).

Traffic laws and signs, when obeyed, reduce uncertainty and the chances of accidents occurring - a fact apparently lost on Birk, who suggests that motorists with the right of way should abruptly stop to let her pass on through an intersection.

The driver behind that first car will have no warning that the lead vehicle will stop capriciously, and so a collision between the cars is made more likely.

Birk completely ignores the safety of pedestrians. I live in Ladd's Addition and have seen bicyclists race through the pedestrian zone - and past the stop sign - as parents attempted to wheel their infant children across the street. Bicyclists at the intersection in question - and it is an intersection, not a roundabout as Birk alleges - rarely look for pedestrians approaching on the right.

In the end, bicyclists like Birk are really saying that their convenience is more important than the safety of others.

Bicycling is a good thing, but the bicycle culture that has evolved in Portland is dominated by narcissism, lack of respect for others, hypocrisy and an overweening sense of entitlement. Birk's (opinion piece) mirrors that mindset perfectly, and her opinions should be rejected by this community.

Dick Trtek

Southeast Portland

Cars and bikes are different

I totally agree with Mia (Birk) on this one (Stop signs don't work for bicycling, April 21).

Bikes and cars are categorically different types of vehicles, and we should be able to make reasonable distinctions. When you are earning momentum with your own efforts, stopping at a stop sign when it's clearly safe is absurd.

I also really wish the anti-bike crowd would ease up on using the 1 percent of bicycling morons to tar the 99 percent of us who are careful, courteous and yes, actually drive cars too!

Michael Parkhurst

North Portland

Bikes pose less of a danger

When I first started reading this opinion piece by Mia Birk, my gut reaction was that both cars and bikes need to abide by the same rules (Stop signs don't work for bicycling, April 21). Then I remembered we have traffic laws primarily for safety reasons and these did not really exist until cars began to dominate the roads. I then wondered what was the damage potential for bikes as compared to cars.

Doing a simple derivation for kinetic energy (K=1/2Mass/velocity2), one finds that a rider and bike weighing 200 pounds going 10 mph has 899 Newtons (Joules) of energy; whereas, the average car in the U.S., which weighs 3,917 pounds., going the same speed possess 17,786 Newtons or 20 times more destructive force than a biker going the same speed.

So from a safety viewpoint, it does make sense to have a two-tiered system. One option would be to reduce the $242 traffic fine by a factor of 20 to $12. But a better choice might be to simply change the law to allow bikes the option of slowing down at intersections, as they do in Idaho.

Mark Garzotto

Southeast Portland

Bikes hit cars at Ladd Circle, too

The problem with bikers yielding at the stop sign at Ladd Circle is that cars making a right-hand turn after that stop sign, say onto Southeast Elliott, run the risk of hitting a biker speeding past them on the right side (Stop signs don't work for bicycling, Eco Thoughts, April 21).

I live in the neighborhood and my car has been hit by a biker making this same move, and when I got out to see if he was all right, the guy was already apologizing to me for trying to make such a dangerous pass.

This is a big problem at rush hour when dozens of bikers are cruising through that stop sign and around the circle (often faster than the cars), while local residents try and turn off the circle onto their home streets. Many times I have had to wait close to 30 seconds to make a right hand turn because so many bikers were flying past on my right side.

Gregar Chapin

Southeast Portland

Same road, same rights

As both a cyclist and a motorist, I take issue with Mia Birk's EcoThoughts piece advocating allowing cyclists to run stop signs (Stop signs don't work for bicycling, April 21).

Bicycles are legally defined as motor vehicles, and rightly so. If cyclists want to be treated with respect as equal users of the roads, they should behave the same as everyone else, and be subject to the same rules. No special rules should apply.

Cyclists who expect special treatment are the ones who give cyclists a bad reputation. Motorists should be able to expect that bicycles and motorcycles and cars and trucks will all follow the same predictable rules.

Philip N. Jones

Northwest Portland