Portland, Oregon is in the midst of a heated debate about – bike lanes!

Sadly, it’s a conversation Richmond can’t have- as we have no network of bike lanes in the city.

Several tragic accidents have occurred recently in Portland when cars or trucks turned right at an intersection where there was a bike lane. Two cyclists were killed in the month of October.

At one intersection where 2 accidents recently occurred, one fatal, right turns by cars have been banned.

That’s right, cars have been banned from turning! Imagine that in Richmond- I think we’d probably issue an emergency ordinance banning all bikes from the road.

Stories of the tragedies can be read here.

The debate centers on how cars should turn right at intersections with bike lanes. In Oregon, they’re required to stay in their own lane and yield to cyclists. [Click on the graphic for flash animation from the Oregonian newspaper.]

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In California, turning cars merge into the bike lane at intersections.

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Many cycling activists oppose letting cars into the bike lanes, claiming that “We’ve got to train motorists to respect the bike lane.”

The police, on the other hand, argue, “Motorists have been conditioned for 100 years that no one is going to pass them on the right.” Therefore, drivers shouldn’t be expected to check for bikes passing on the right at an intersection.

Although I’d like to be a purist and claim that motorists need to learn to share the road, when they don’t share, the consequences for the cyclists are severe. So I suppose I’d advocate for changing the law to the California style for the protection of the cyclists.

That’s an imperfect solution, however, as this youtube video from California shows:

Any of you have experience biking in these two types of bike lanes? Which do you prefer?

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