Monday, March 22, 2010

the outbox

sent the following to mark moline in the city attorney's office:

back in november you sent me the attached letter, taking the position (in effect) that the public hearing requirement of ORS 814.420(2) is met, and a striped bike lane is therefore subject to the mandatory sidepath requirement, if (paraphrasing here) the facility was listed in the 1996 bike master plan, as updated in 1998, and conforms to the design and engineering guidelines set out in appendix A to that plan.

i did already understand that this was the city's position, but it was useful (in my view) to get it out in the open, on paper.

taking this conversation a step further, i would like to suggest to you that quite a number of the facilities mentioned in the BMP do not in fact, paint on the ground, conform to the stated guidelines.

one example would be northeast tillamook at 41st -- a four-foot bike lane sandwiched between a seven-foot parking lane and a ten-foot travel lane, flat out nonconformance with the engineering guidelines. and there are many others.

in the particular case, you might say, well, if it's in the door zone, and ORS 814.420(3) says you can leave the bike lane to avoid a hazard, what is the problem? but you are telling me the bike lane is certified "safe" per 814.420(2), so how can it make sense to disregard the stripe because i think the stripe itself is unsafe? probably subparagraph (3) is limited to the case where someone is actually opening a door.

more generally, where a narrow bike lane is placed alongside a relatively narrow travel lane, an experienced "vehicular" cyclist would simply take the lane, and the argument would be that she is avoiding the hazard of being overtaken too close. as you may know, ORS 811.065, the statute that requires a motorist to leave a safe passing distance in overtaking a cyclist, expressly does not apply when the cyclist is in a striped bike lane.

i would like to encourage the city to re-think this, and to announce publicly that the BMP does not, in itself, constitute a public hearing for purposes of 814.420(2), at least with respect to facilities that do not in fact conform to the engineering guidelines that were the subject of (purported) public hearings.

thank you for your continued attention to this matter.

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