Sam Adams on Bike Safety has an interview online with Portland City Commissioner and candidate for Mayor Sam Adams. Adams discusses how to improve bike safety in light of the recent deaths of two cyclists on Portland streets (questions in italics):

"Before, it was more of a battle, there were warring words between non-bikers and cyclists. Now even the non-bikers are saying, we don’t want people killed in our city. I’m seeing a heightened level of concern among non - cyclists, more so than I’ve ever seen before in the last three years. If there is any silver lining in this I would say that would be one."

And I’m sure some of those feelings have to do with the context of these fatalities, the fact that they were both young and riding in a bike lane…

“I think the fact that it was big vehicle/bike, I think really gets people’s attention. I think the fact that no one was blowing through a stop light, no one was doing anything illegal, it wasn’t in a far away place…the fact that these were in the middle of the city, on infrastructure, and no one was breaking the law [NOTE: he is referring to the cyclists involved.]

It’s got people’s attention and I’m going to do everything I can to use that attention in a positive way.”

Going back to infrastructure, because both of these happened when the person was in a bike lane, there’s been a lot of talk about the safety of bike lanes. I realize we’re not going to start ripping them up. But, is there any immediate thing that you can foresee being done? Without waiting for budgets or analysis, can we do something immediately at those two intersections?

“Oh absolutely. God yes. And along with these two intersections, I would like to figure out the top 20 most dangerous intersections and ask bikers, what are your ideas for this intersection that you ride through every week? I don’t care how wild or impractical the ideas are. The idea is that we come up with something at these two intersections and 18 others and we come up with some short-term fixes on the ground and then we ask the community, does this make sense, or could we do better?"

Adams also discusses specific steps the city can take to make large vehicles safer for bikes:

What is the potential for thinking about a mandate for certain safety equipment on large vehicles?

“I think it’s essential. On the equipment side, I was really pleased when I made the call out to the freight leaders, they were absolutely mortified about the tragedies and eager to get to the table to see what they could do to prevent these types of situations from happening again. Clearly equipment that is safe in more rural and suburban areas with fewer peds and bikes is no adequate here in our mutli-modal city, so I look froward to the opportunity to sit down with them based on our scan of best practices of equipment including mirrors, turn signals in a place that are visible to cyclists and pedestrians…so I think there’s a variety of things we must do..and the city attorney is looking at, what can City Council require versus what are we’re pre-empted from doing by state government.

Whatever I can do locally I will, what I can’t, I’m not going to wait around for the state to act. I want that partnership at the table ASAP and I’m hopeful the response will be positive."

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