The battle between motorists and bicyclists for Portland's roads reached another low point last week. This time, fortunately, nobody is dead. But a driver is facing serious charges and two bicyclists were sent to the hospital after this "road rage" incident. The Skanner wonders what it will take before transportation officials wake up and take action to make our roads safer for motorists and cyclists alike.
In this battle neither side has a monopoly on being in the right. Your view depends on whether you are viewing the road from above two wheels or four. Cyclists hate inconsiderate drivers who cut them off, open doors in their faces and drive too close. Drivers hate inconsiderate cyclists who cut them off, ignore the roadway rules and tailgate them.
One problem, brought to our attention by a judge, is that the rules of the road are very unclear. According to this judge, if motorists drive dangerously, you can report their vehicles - easily identified by the number plate. Cyclists don't register and bikes don't have number plates.
Last year saw the suggestion that bicyclists ought to be able to use freeways. Surely that was about the dumbest idea to date. Here at The Skanner we believe planners should move in an entirely opposite direction. Instead of forcing unprotected cyclists to share the road with motorists, planners should mandate different, equally direct routes for cyclists and drivers. Where that is impractical, separate lanes could be designated.
Here are a few ideas for consideration.
• Set up a dedicated police bicycle patrol unit to enforce traffic laws and ticket bicycling violations.
• Close some streets to cars.
• Close some heavily used car routes to bikes.
• Create more bikeways - some with tolls - designed for bike commuters.
• Bikeway tolls, which should be kept affordable, would help pay for building covered bikeways and for enforcing bike laws.
• Register and license bikes.
• Mandate liability insurance for cyclists.
• Create a users fee that cyclists must pay in order to use roads.
• Create and enforce bike roadworthiness standards. Mandate lights front and rear placed in designated positions on the bikes. All bicycles should have horns.
• More guidance on safe road-sharing practices should be incorporated in Oregon's Highway laws. For example, bikes traveling in auto lanes, especially on hills, stay 10 feet behind cars and should remain on left so as to be visible in rear view mirror.
Oregon lawmaker must have the will and the guts to tackle this issue - or the road rage and the casualties will escalate.
What do you think? Let us know at www.theskanner.com.