(April 1, 2013) – Traditional "Large Lot Zoning" is "Greener" than "Smart Growth" within Urban Growth Boundaries . . . Copyright 2009 – 2013 . . . Tom Lane . . . Photographing California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington
(Updated October 17, 2010) Just about every intervention to increase cycling and pedestrian safety has created controversy. Bike lanes, bike boxes, roundabouts, traffic calming, and multi-modal corridors all have two sides to the story. Clearly, new methods of bikeway design are sorely needed. We also need to teach bike safety, so that cyclists can once again ride on the road and practice “defensive cycling.”
There is no question that increasing bike facilities have profound economic benefits to revitalizing downtowns and connecting residential areas to commercial districts, while offering sociological and environmental benefits, as noted Urban Planning Professor and Urban Growth Boundary Advocate (sigh!) Arthur Nelson explains in this article.
However, attempts so far to increase cycling are potentially dangerous. John Forester (watch his video below) is a noted opponent of most methods of smart growth cycling improvement, and his articles are a starting point to raise very good questions about smart growth cycling modalities, and why we no longer teach bike safety in the schools. Neither bike lanes, nor any other form of off-road smart growth bike route, should ever serve as a replacement for understanding how to ride with the rules of the road. Be sure to see Austin musician Michael Bluejay’s web site on when riding in bike lanes is not safe.
Riding without adequate night lighting is very dangerous, resulting in collisions with potholes, litter, lumber debris, curbs, and something just as gruesome as the photo above: rodents, rabbits, and the worst of all, black cats:
Even a deer and this hubcap involved in the accident are both major invisible road hazards for cyclists:
And, according to the traditional rules of the road, that have been ignored since relegation of bicyclists to bike lanes and multi-use trails, sidewalks are for people, and roads are for bikes. See this sign, erroneously designating a crosswalk for BOTH bikes and people:
The City of Bend, Oregon is considering classes for bicylists who break the rules of the road. This is a great idea and hopefully will be a success in their community (reprinted below).
Friends with Serious Injuries from Cycling
I have known friends with the following injuries from cycling:
1. R. was riding on a multi-modal corridor (a smart growth feature), and hit a cat at night, with serious injuries.
2. J. was in a bike accident and suffered a concussion; hospitalized.
3. L. was hit and suffered a concussion; hospitalized.
4. J. drove over speed bumps (a smart growth feature), and suffered a concussion; hospitalized.
5. P. was hit from someone backing out of their driveway, suffered severe injuries, hospitalized. (Most collisions happen in front of a bike, not from behind.)
As for me, if not for my two bike headlights, I would have been hit twice by people backing out of their driveways at night.
Additional smart growth features that are difficult for cyclists include roundabouts, curb extensions (photo), and other methods of traffic calming (in this post).
Curb extensions in Eugene, Oregon, funneling traffic and bikes through this narrow intersection. The problem is that cyclists with inadequate lights will hit the curb extension at night (if not also during the day, descending from Eugene’s Skinner Butte on this road!):
Warning: Bike Lanes and Bike Boxes
As a cyclist I am sorry to see the rapid proliferation of bike lanes and multi-modal corridors under smart growth. Any cyclist knows that they become choked with pedestrians and skateboarders, increasing the collision risk, and making it more difficult to race.
Furthermore, many cyclists who don’t know bike safety will turn left from a bike lane, instead of advancing to the left turn lane to turn left (or, walking their bike across two perpendicular crosswalks). Turning left from a bike lane is just as dangerous as turning left from the right lane.
Bike Boxes are very hip, but potentially dangerous. Bicyclists shouldn’t expect immunity from getting rear ended from bike boxes. Why would anyone think that white lines painted in a square would prevent a reckless driver from hitting them?
Caution: Crosswalks and Sidewalks
Very dangerous. Never ride on either, and it’s illegal. Sidewalks are especially dangerous due to cars backing out of their driveways and hitting bicyclists. In fact, most bike accidents occur from things in front of a cyclist, not from behind.
Multi-Use Trails Need Lines and Arrows
Again, they are choked with pedestrians, strollers, skateboarders, and pets. If they are paved, then placing a yellow line down the center will help people instinctively “yield” to traffic in the other direction. However, this will not help with pathways with lots of curves and diminished visibility, due to trees and the shadows they create, such as this one:
Seperate Bike Path and Sidewalk – with No Bike Lane
This may be the best solution, but is far from perfect. On parts of Alki Beach in West Seattle, there’s a separate bike path next to a sidewalk. However, even this can be dangerous, since cyclists may ride on the sidewalk, and runners may run on the bike path, especially if they’re competing with slow pedestrians on the walking path. And, there’s no indication of where rollerbladers and skateboarders should ride.
Mountain Bike and Running Trails
Same as above, and potentially more dangerous for the hiker and runner, especially if the mountain biker (could even be this author) is high on something whether its Monster or Rockstar Energy drinks, Taurine, Caffeine, Nicotine, something currently illegal, or all or none of the above!
Curb Extensions, Roundabouts, Medians, Speed Bumps, and Berms
Nice smart growth features in terms of appearance, but they all are hazards, especially at night. They also diminish emergency response time for police and fire vehicles. Someday, a cyclist or spouse of someone deceased whose ambulance was delayed, will sue a smart growth contractor over a roundabout, and that will be the end of smart growth.
My View on Bike Lights
Here’s my own view and you’ll find others. And my views are subject to change with more research. Most bike lights sold today do not provide proper illumination. A headlight must project at least several hundred feet forward, ideally 1000.’ You must also illuminate your front tire, and everything to your immediate left and right. Reason: If a rat or cat runs in front of you, or if there’s a pothole or garbage on the road, you need to be able to see it – brightly lit in your peripheral vision.
Helmut headlights that project for 1000′ in a directional fashion do not light up the ground in front of you. Furthermore, individuals backing out of driveways moving perpendicular to your direction need to be able to see you, and this is accomplished with two lights: one that projects far in advance, and one that illuminates your immediate surroundings left to right (over a 180 degree or even greater angle).
Rear taillights should be placed not only on your bike, but also on your helmut.
In my experience, rechargeable EBAY AA and AAA batteries, even if they’re brand new, are unreliable and do not hold a charge. Take the time to invest in high capacity AA and AAA batteries from Sanyo Eneloop, Rayovac IC3, or AC Delco. They will last forever (recharge 1000 times), and not go dead after an hour of use, like the ones on EBAY. I’ve tested many cheap EBAY batteries and have $50 in junk EBAY batteries and chargers. I’ll still use them but they don’t last longer than an hour or two.
AAA rechargeable batteries should be rated for a minimum of 800mAh. Some AAA’s sold on ebay claim 1800mAh, but when tested, are only 400mAh, even after repeated discharge/charge cycles.
Places such as Frys Electronics will sell rechargeable batteries for less. AC Delco sells the cheapeast line of rechargeables that I know of. Bring extras because if you’re stuck at night in the rain with a flat tire, you don’t want batteries to go dead. Use cheap alkalines from Wallgreens, Frys, or Rite Aid for the backups, if you don’t want to spend the money for an entire set of rechargeables for your front and rear lights.
Learn the Rules of the Road
Always the best solution, and always turn left appropriately. Check out John Forester’s web site (that’s right, he’s got the best last name for a Cycling expert i.e. the Subaru Forester): http://johnforester.com
What Causes Most Bike Accidents?
However, just as with car accidents, most bike accidents do not come from cars hitting bicyclists. Bike lanes will not prevent most bike accident types. Most cycling collisions occur in front of the cyclist. Bicyclists must be trained to recognize these dangers, just as motorists are.
Below is a table of the most common types of bike accidents, developed by Ken Cross. This information has been available for 40 years, but suppressed by the State of California for political reasons, as explained by John Forester below. You can read the entire Ken Cross study here.
Relative Contribution of Each Accident Type (Ken Cross study):
|Type of Accident||Percent||Critical Maneuver|
|A: Cyclist Exited Driveway Into Motorist’s Path||8.59||Cyclist|
|B: Motorist Exited Driveway Into Cyclist’s Path||5.73||Motorist|
|C: Cyclist Failed to Stop/Yield at Controlled Intersection||8.33||Cyclist|
|D: Cyclist Made Improper Left Turn||11.20||Cyclist|
|E: Cyclist Rode on Wrong Side of Street||14.32||Cyclist|
|F: Motorist Collided With Rear of Cyclist||4.17||Motorist|
|G: Motorist Failed to Stop/Yield at Controlled Intersection||7.81||Motorist|
|H: Motorist Made Improper Left Turn||12.76||Motorist|
|I: Motorist Made Improper Right Turn||11.20||Motorist|
|J: Motorist Opened Car Door into Cyclist’s Path||7.29||Motorist|
(91.4 percent of the total sample was categorized into one of the ten accident types. The remaining 8.6 percent did not correspond with any of the major types and was therefore placed in the “other” category.)
The proportion of the total accident sample accounted for by a given accident type varied from 4.17 percent (motorist collided with rear of cyclist) to 14.32 percent (cyclist rode on wrong side of street).
That’s right. Only 4% of cyclists were hit from cars in this study! Therefore, bike lanes will only stop 4% of all cycling collisions!
The State of California suppressed Ken Cross’ study, as John Forester writes about at this link, and Forester writes:
“Crucial to this policy is the superstition that the greatest danger to cyclists is same-direction motor traffic. Experienced cyclists such as myself knew that the major collision hazards came from conditions ahead of the cyclist, just as they do for motorists, but we had no scientific data on this point. California contracted with Ken Cross to make a statistical study of car-bike collisions, in the expectation that this study would demonstrate the truth of the superstition that the greatest hazard to cyclists came from same-direction motor traffic.”
Ken’s study was presented to the California Statewide Bicycle Committee at a meeting room in the Sacramento Airport. After the presentation, I rather naively pointed out that the Cross study supported all that I had been saying and utterly disproved the supposed basis for California’s policy (of bikeways).
As a result of what I said, the study was suppressed, so that the only copies available were those that had been already handed out to those present. The following is a copy of the first Cross Study converted into .htm format.”
Bike lanes may serve some purposes. However, overall, they will not prevent 96% of all bike accidents! Bike advocacy groups should advocate safety as their number one priority, and fitness, road improvements, and nutrition second. Childrens’ lives are at stake, and nobody teaches bike safety these days! John Forester publishes this instructor’s manual to bicycle safety.
John Forester gave this one hour lecture on bike safety in 2007:
Heavy Traffic from Smart Growth Infilling makes Bicycling Dangerous
Smart growth proponents also advocate high density in downtown areas, resulting in heavy traffic, and conditions become very dangerous for bicylists commuting and shopping downtown.
For example, in Boulder, a smart growth and bicycling mecca, there are dozens of cars stopped at stop lights during commute hours. Even an adjacent bike lane will not help bicyclists, since cars will dart out of traffic to turn right.
Overall, the “smart growth plans,” favoring walking and biking a mile or two for employment and grocery stores, do not work with heavy traffic. Nobody is going to walk or bike a mile or two on a 9 foot wide sidewalk alongside heavy traffic for a dozen eggs and gallon of milk. And, weather is horrible for 8 months of the year in the US, and conditions are dark before 8am and after 430pm for half the year.
In fact, Boulder traffic is horrible nearly 24:7. At high noon on a weekday, you’ll find 1,000 Subaru outbacks parked at Chautauqua Park, a popular park with trails into the Rocky Mountain foothills.
One solution, of course, is to divert bike paths into the surrounding urban growth boundaries and greenbelts. Very few cities are doing this, instead, focusing efforts on adding more bike lanes on traditional (often very congested) streets. Flagstaff, Arizona has a system of trails partially through Ponderosa Pines that is unique since some trails divert bicyclists and pedestrians away from major streets, map: http://www.flagstaff.az.gov/index.aspx?NID=1521) Likewise, Albuquerque, New Mexico also has a system of trails away from traffic, along the Rio Grande River, and also along washes in the northeast part of town, map: http://www.cabq.gov/bike
Overall, bicyclists are looking for natural beauty, stimulation, and the ability to race. Bike lanes are repulsive since they are in high density urban areas along with stop lights that limit achieving maximum speeds. Paved or unpaved surfaces are the best approach for cyclists, providing they have lines and arrows to seperate bikes, people, kids, and dogs.
Bend and Central Oregon – A Bicycling Mecca
The State of Oregon has just designated three Central Oregon high desert bike routes as “scenic.”
This is expected to help Central Oregon’s struggling economy. According to Alex Phillips of the Oregon State Parks Department:
“Bike tourism is a big deal right now. There’s some great studies out there that say bicycle tourists spend upward of $100 a day if they’re staying overnight. If you bring in 1,000 cyclists, that’s $100,000 — I’ll take it.”
I’d love to see those studies. Of course, it’s just common sense, as I’ve reported in other posts baby boomers that are retiring, and flocking in record numbers to exurban and rural counties, for their natural amenities and recreational opportunities (such as Deschusets county, where Bend is).
Bend was ranked as the best town for mountain biking by Mountain Bike Action magazine. Click here for a free .pdf of the article.
And, the promotion of bike tourism can really help Cities that have tourism restricted to the winter season for skiing. With promotion of their mountain and road biking, these Cities can host four seasons of tourism, and increase hotel and sales tax revenues.
With the addition of philantropic efforts, such as trailbuilding from the International Mountain Bike Association and other organizations, the promotion of bike tourism occurs even faster, than what would normally occur from State Officials and City Councils alone. Bend’s local IMBA chapter is the Central Oregon Trail Alliance.
Indeed, overall, just as Central Oregon is doing, I think it’s best to focus efforts on promoting bicycling in less densely populated areas, along rural roads, and on mountain trails, instead of trying to add bike lanes to overpopulated, congested, polluted areas such as Seattle.
As I’ve said before, there’s demand for mountain biking and road biking in Ashland, Oregon (and also Bend, Oregon), whereas demand is almost non-existent in Seattle. Nevertheless, Seattle’s Cascade Bicycling Club and Sierra Club are inappropriately Suing government officials in Seattle, because they’re not getting enough trails. Maybe the Seattle bike club’s paid staff of 20 should just move to much more highly desirable places for riding such as Bend, Ashland, Flagstaff, Durango (you name it), drop the lawsuit, and stop wasting annual donations from their members in court.
By Scott Hammers / The Bend Bulletin / September, 2010
Tourism officials say the creation of three scenic bike routes in Central Oregon could be a big boost to future tourism promotion efforts, both for the region and the state.
The Oregon State Parks Department announced Thursday that three Central Oregon bike routes are among eight routes around the state to have been selected by the Oregon Scenic Bikeway Committee to be designated as state scenic bikeways.
Selected local routes include a network of five- to 21-mile routes in the Camp Sherman area, a 44-mile ride between Sisters and Smith Rock State Park, and the Twin Bridges Loop, a 32-mile loop from Bend through Tumalo.
A fourth selected route begins — or ends — in Central Oregon, a 40-mile route along State Highway 242 across McKenzie Pass between Sisters and the McKenzie Bridge.
Local groups backing the designation of the routes — Visit Bend in the case of the Twin Bridges Loop, and the Sisters Chamber of Commerce in the case of the Camp Sherman, Sisters to Smith Rock, and McKenzie Pass routes — now have to develop a management and marketing plan for the routes before receiving the committee’s final approval.
Alex Phillips of the state Parks Department said the 11-member committee is made up of cycling advocates from around the state. Several of the committee members rode each of the routes nominated to be scenic bikeways and graded them on several factors, including scenic beauty, traffic, road conditions and even the smells encountered along the way. While all were good rides, she said committee members agreed to keep the list of routes recommended for designation short, so as not to dilute the significance of the designation.
‘The best of the best’
“We’re looking for the best of the best, not just a great local ride, or somebody’s favorite ride, but the best of the best in all of Oregon,” Phillips said.
What it means for a route to be designated a scenic bikeway is still being determined. The state will provide signage for the routes, and Travel Oregon is planning to incorporate the scenic bikeways into its Ride Oregon bicycling tourism campaign, but there are currently no plans for funding to improve the roads for the benefit of cyclists.
Sheila Lyons, the pedestrian and bicycle program manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation, said it will likely fall to the local groups promoting the creation of scenic bikeways to advocate for bicycle-friendly road improvements and road maintenance. County road departments and ODOT have been included in the discussion of the scenic bikeway program, she said, but are not obligated to consider the designation when making decisions about improvements or maintenance.
Chip sealing — the application of a thin layer of asphalt and crushed stone to aging roads, a treatment that extends the road’s life but creates significant vibration and rolling resistance for cyclists — is likely to remain a part of the maintenance plan for several roads in the scenic bikeway program.
“Nobody likes it, but it’s hard to refute the economy of it — it’s an inexpensive surface treatment,” she said.
Erin Borla, executive director of the Sisters Chamber of Commerce, said she’s hopeful road departments will keep the scenic bikeways program in mind when making maintenance decisions, and said ODOT has been a “great partner” in all discussions up until now.
Being able to advertise cycling routes around Sisters as “Oregon Scenic Bikeways” should make the chamber’s attempts to attract tourists interested in bike riding more effective, Phillips said.
“Bike tourism is a big deal right now. There’s some great studies out there that say bicycle tourists spend upward of $100 a day if they’re staying overnight,” she said. “If you bring in 1,000 cyclists, that’s $100,000 — I’ll take it.”
Oregon currently has only one designated scenic bikeway: the 130-mile Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway from the Champoeg State Heritage Area south of Portland to Armitage County Park near Eugene. Phillips said the designation seems to be boosting the number of riders along the route, and that she’s received several calls from international travelers wanting to find out more about the ride.
Alana Audette, president of the Central Oregon Visitors Association, said while high-profile races have helped boost Central Oregon’s reputation among serious cyclists, the scenic bikeways program could appeal to more casual riders. Bicycling is already high on the list of activities for visitors to the area, she said, largely because it’s something almost anyone can do.
“Whether people are going 90 mph down hilly terrain, or whether they’re just riding along on a paved path, cycling kind of bridges all ages and all groups, and I think that’s part of the appeal,” she said.
Other rides on the list of routes recommended as scenic bikeways include the Dorena Lake Loop, a 23-mile loop between Cottage Grove and Dorena Reservoir, Old West, a 199-mile loop connecting John Day, Prarie City, Dayville and Kimberly, Grand Tour, a 130-mile figure-eight linking La Grande, Union and Baker City, and the Blue Mountain Century, a 108-mile loop connecting Heppner, Ukiah and Vinson.
The Oregon Scenic Bikeway Committee is scheduled to make its final determination on the eight routes currently under consideration within six to 12 months, and will be accepting nominations for new routes between Jan. 1 and March 1, 2011.
Scott Hammers can be reached at 541-383-0387 or at email@example.com.
Fiscal Irresponsibility, and Herbicide Spraying along Sedona, Mammoth Lakes, and Durango Bike Lanes:
We should increase bike facilities, but not waste money on trails that lead to nowhere. Funding trails and bike lanes despite demand reinforces the stereotype of “bike nerds” advocating increased spending for trails, when in many towns, there is no lobby. For example, many local trailbuilding efforts are from volunteers, such as local chapters of the International Mountain Biking Associations.
Here’s a classic example of a multi-use trail that leads to nowhere. This sidewalk increases in elevation 1000′ along the road from the Town of Mammoth Lakes up to the lakes area. The construction costs must be enormous, as a nearly vertical cliff extends off the edge.
Note the funding sources, not necessarily part of any bike lobby: the US Forest Service, and secret acronyms for others: TOML, TE, STIP, and FS.
Here you can see the edge of the vertical cliff leading down to the Town of Mammoth Lakes in the distance. Mammoth Lakes is a popular destination resort year round, supporting many athletes for high elevation training.
Here is one of the lakes, at the top of the trail. Upon returning to this area in Feb, 2010, the sign was gone and the work was covered with snow, probably completed the previous fall.
Sedona, Arizona has been widening and adding bike lanes and gravelscaping to SR-179 between Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek for well over two years. The amount of construction is incredible, extending for about 12 miles. I have no idea how Arizona can afford this, given the state’s severe fiscal crisis. The Arizona Department of Transportation even publishes its own web site for the project. Among the amenities listed at the web site include typical smart growth features, including expensive roundabouts and gravelscaping for traffic calming:
Ironically, Sedona has a very low population of bicyclists. In fact, I do not know of any town in Arizona that comes anywhere close to Colorado or Oregon in terms of bicyclists. Places such as Eugene, OR; Corvallis, OR; Bend, OR; Ashland, OR; Durango, CO; and Boulder, CO have significantly more bicyclists per capita than anywhere I’ve visited in Arizona.
Also, SR-179 is steep, and tourists are not going to rent bikes to go downhill 12 miles between Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek (VOC), with no “easy” way to return to the top.
No dedicated health conscious bicyclist would even ride along SR-179, or SR-89A,, due to Sedona’s aggressive herbicide program, discussed here. Those gravel strips have to be kept clear of weeds in order to maintain Sedona’s “image.” Arizona is all about image, that’s why Californians move in. If Arizona did not maintain its “image.” then the place would start exporting its population to neighboring New Mexico and Texas.
Anyway, I digress, but herbicides are very toxic to the chemically injured, including healthy athletes as documented here by Dr. Gunnar Heuser of Agoura Hills, California and UCLA. Many athletes move to Sedona, Arizona and will discover a horrible surprise. To my amazement, Durango, Colorado also uses herbicides.
Furthermore, SR 89-A, between Sedona and Flagstaff (through Oak Creek Canyon), has received very little maintenance. This road is very narrow, steep, and dangerous, and is often closed due to snow, flooding, and fire danger conditions. When the road is closed, residents of Flagstaff have to travel an extra 50 miles to get to Sedona.
Note the barren gravelscaping with no native vegetation. Again, Sedona is not a desert, nor is it even high desert. It is Pinon-Juniper scrubland at 4500,’ with grass and a variety of Chaparral plants. The photo below is amusing with the bench and garbage can. To my knowledge there is no public transit that stops here (south of the golf course in the Village of Oak Creek).
Below is a roundabout on SR-179, one of several in the Village of Oak Creek. Attempts to provide “traffic calming” simply do not work when motorists honk at each other swirling around these vortices.
From the Bend Bulletin:
Edited Oct 5, 2010
Bend bike crashes down
Published: August 14. 2010 4:00AM PST
The number of people injured in bicycle-vehicle collisions in Bend dropped slightly from 2008 to 2009, according to newly released statistics from the Oregon Department of Transportation.
In 2008, when 21 cyclists were injured in crashes, Bend led the state in the number of fatalities, with two of the seven that happened that year. Last year, there were 18 crashes that resulted in injuries and no fatalities — though crashes elsewhere in the state again caused seven deaths.
Police and road safety advocates said they were pleased to see the drop in crashes and noted that it could be a sign that increased efforts to educate cyclists and drivers about the rules of the road are making a difference. But they said the bike-car crashes that have happened this year, including two that left cyclists in the hospital with serious injuries, have made it clear that plenty of work remains.
“We’d like to think that all those efforts — the combination of advocates and enforcement and engineering — worked really well in 2009, but unfortunately, that hasn’t carried over into 2010,” said Sgt. Chris Carney of the Bend Police Department.
Over the past year, law enforcement officers have been working closely with groups like the Deschutes County Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee to hold training programs, distribute safety guides and improve the sometimes-tense relationship between drivers and cyclists.
But Carney said he still sees drivers pulling out in front of bikes, cyclists riding the wrong way on streets and people in both groups not taking the time to slow down and pay attention.
On June 22, 69-year-old Thomas Meyers was riding his bicycle north on Parrell Road when a southbound driver turned left in front of him, causing him to run into the car. Meyers was hospitalized after the crash, and the driver, 45-year-old Jennifer Joan Swearingen, was cited for making a dangerous left turn.
About a week later, 40-year-old Shelli Zulauf was riding north on Century Drive near Southwest Mammoth Drive when she was hit by a vehicle that had veered off the road into the dirt to the right of the bike lane and then swerved back into her path. Zulauf was critically injured and transported to St. Charles Bend.
The driver, 75-year-old Kirk Bashore, was not cited, but the case was referred to the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office, where it remains under investigation.
Both cyclists were later released from the hospital, but information about their release dates or current condition was not available.
As in past years, most of the crashes in 2009 occurred at or near intersections and were the result of the driver or the cyclist — or both parties — not following the rules of the road.
Of the 18 injury crashes in Bend, ODOT reports that 12 were the fault of the driver. Of those, 11 involved a driver who did not have the right of way over a bicycle. The twelfth crash was caused by a driver who ran a stop sign.
In six crashes, the cyclist was found to be at fault. Those incidents involved a variety of errors, including a few cyclists riding on the wrong side of the road, one who made an illegal U-turn into traffic and one who made a left turn into oncoming traffic.
Carney said the mistakes made by drivers and cyclists don’t seem to change from year to year. Another potential problem, he said, comes from cyclists who feel safer riding on the sidewalk — which is legal — but don’t pay attention to cars coming in and out of driveways.
Cyclists who hop from the sidewalk to the road and back, he said, can also make things difficult for drivers who have a hard time anticipating the cyclist’s next move.
On the other side, Carney said he sees many drivers who are going too fast to spot bikes or pedestrians in the road or blazing through stop signs without paying attention.
The best approach, he said, is to ride and drive defensively, and watch out for others in the road — even if you feel like you don’t need to.
“People get caught up in, ‘I have the right of way,’ ” he said. “Yes, but is it worth the pain and injury your right of way might result in?”
Cheryl Howard, the chairwoman of the Deschutes County Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, said her group continues to work hard to break people of bad habits and develop new programs that could help improve safety on Bend’s streets.
One of the ideas currently on the table is a diversion class for cyclists who break the rules. Howard said discussions are still in the early stages, but she’s heard from several people who support the idea, including avid cyclists who don’t like to see a few people giving them a bad name.
“Once we get all the tools implemented and online, this will really lend itself to creating the culture of sharing the road, rather than just being a sign on the side of it,” she said.
Howard said she sees road safety as an economic issue, too. With more people paying attention and avoiding accidents, she said the area gains traction as a bike-friendly community — and becomes a destination for major cycling events that can bring in millions of dollars.
Last year, Bend was eighth of Oregon’s 10 largest cities in the number of bike crashes per capita. That was an improvement from 2008, when the city ranked fifth. Portland led the state in the rate of crashes, with Corvallis and Medford coming in second and third.
Prineville and Redmond, the other two Central Oregon cities included on ODOT’s 2009 report, had a total of seven crashes — three in Prineville and four in Redmond — which resulted in eight people being injured. There were no fatal bike-car crashes in either city.
Carney said he’s hopeful more people will make smart decisions when they get behind the wheel or hop on their bike so the number of crashes and injuries will continue to drop.
“The downside of any crash is if those are two motor vehicles hitting each other, probably the overall injury level could be substantially less,” he said. “With these, you end up with about a 17-pound to 20-pound bike versus a 2,000- to 5,000-pound vehicle, and the end result is not good.”