Shortly after 8:00 pm last night (April 6, 2011), Billie and I drove across the Willamette River on the Hawthorne Bridge in downtown Portland. As often is the case, there were more cyclists than motorists during the couple of minutes that we were on the bridge. Their bright red tail lights, some of them flashing madly, provided us with a clear indication of their presence.
We turned north on heavily traveled Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard. There we saw two cyclists in dark clothing riding with no lights at all. The only warning that they were there were dim pedal-mounted reflectors. One of them ran a red light (no traffic was coming from the side street) traveled at a shallow angle across the recently laid tracks of Portland’s expanding light rail system, and took to the dark sidewalk with no lights showing from the storefronts along the way.
I don’t know what the Oregon traffic code contains with respect to this kind of cycling, nor did I see any police cars during our trip through town. Not only were these cyclists endangering their own lives, but they were showing no consideration for pedestrians or motorists. Even though I am a committed urban cyclist, willing to cycle by night and by day (although I prefer day), I have no sympathy for the kind of cycling that we saw last night on Portland’s MLK Boulevard.
I agree 100% with the sentiments that long-time premier cyclist Dave Moulton posted today on his blog. I am taking the liberty of pasting in the first portion of his blog and encourage you to click on the link and read the entire column. His disappointment in the way that so many people bicycle is one that I share one hundred percent.
Image of Hawthorne Bridge from katu news, published online July 18, 2010, and accessed April 7, 2011.
Going to school in the UK at least twice a year there would be a special lesson on the Highway Code.
A little Highway Code book would be given to us to take home and keep. It not only had all the rules and laws as applied to driving a car, it laid out those that applied to riding a bicycle and pedestrians.
It was drummed into us, when you cross the street, stop, look right, look left, look right again; (Traffic came from the right in the UK.) if the road is clear then cross.
This was war time Britain of the 1940s and due to petrol rationing there were few cars on the road, especially in the rural area I lived at the time. Never-the-less when we crossed the street we went through this ritual of look right, look left.
There were cycling proficiency tests too, where we would bring our bikes to school and the local police constable would come in and instruct us on how to ride our bike both safely and in compliance with the law.
The result was when I started cycling seriously in the 1950s, I never rode on the pavement, (Sidewalk.) I never rode through red lights, and my bike always had a front and rear light when riding after dark. As for riding a bike on the wrong side of the road, toward traffic, that would be so crazy it would not even be considered.