Portland Water Bureau Launches Bike/Truck Safety Campaign

Check out this video, via BikePortland.org, on bicycle safety, part of a Portland Water Bureau campaign to reduce truck-cyclist collisions there. Last month, the Water Bureau held a bike safety seminar, which involved cyclists climbing into the cab of a city truck to see (or not see) driver blind spots for themselves.

The accompanying vid definitely puts the onus on cyclists (since "drivers are trained for safety"). Still, there’s valuable info here on how the road looks from a truck driver’s perspective, and it’s impressive to see a city not only acknowledging the dangers trucks pose to cyclists, but taking action to mitigate them. Writes BikePortland.org editor Jonathan Maus:

I’m usually skeptical of educational videos as they are often cheesy
and pedantic. But this one worked. Much of the footage was taken from
inside the truck’s cab on crowded bikeways I’m very familiar with, but
they looked completely different from a trucker’s perspective. It was
eye-opening and nerve-racking just to watch the truck’s rear and side
mirrors as bikes darted in and out of view — I couldn’t imagine the
stress of actually operating that vehicle.

  • When you’ve identified a critical safety failure (“blind spots”) in your city’s trucks you:

    a) Demand that truck drivers accept being the slowest and most cautious vehicles on the road, because they are the most dangerous, and add a speed logging device.

    b) Start replacing your fleet with smaller, city sized trucks that prioritize safety (like being able to see things) over capacity and performance.

    c) Make a video telling everyone to run like hell from any truck because it probably can’t see him, and good luck to ya granny!

  • Ben

    1. Why don’t they have cameras in big trucks? A laptop, some cord, and a security cam is all I need.

    2. Slow down and use your mirrors gauge what is behind you or coming. I think other motor-vehicles could also learn to do this especially when crossing another lane or two (sidewalk)to turn.

    3. That is why they make so much money, and why my city has certain routes for trucks so I can avoid them.

    4. Why bike lanes along truck/bus routes is bad. They don’t separate(5ft) you from the width of a truck, nor does it separate you at the you at an intersection (merging takes place instead).

    5. Why I pass any bus/truck on the left, dismount walk the sidewalk, or wait behind them.

    6. Our use in trucks(USA) has hijacked all road design into submission.

    7. Why do European/world trucks appear smaller?

    8. I really hate Semis who run you off the road, and this usually throws me into a spasm of life flashes, where I end up ranting “I will get my own food damit I have a bike trailer.”

    9. When will we care to take a couple steps back from the motor and stop this genocide.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    First I really must take exception to Brad Aaron’s divisive comment “The accompanying vid definitely puts the onus on cyclists (since “drivers are trained for safety”).” I watched this video last week on BikePortland and really did not get the impression that they were still trying to place blame with cyclists. Instead I believe they are trying to get the point across that safety on the road is a team effort, especially where cyclists are involved. On this point I believe Portland Water was spot on!

    What I think this video does an excellent job however is showing the danger of placing bicycle lanes to the right of right turn lanes; something that has become quite an issue amongst some advocates in Stump Town. I personally believe that this is not the optimal placement for bike lanes and would like to see Portland revise their policies on this.

    Also, I personally do not have much in the way of an issue with most truckers out here in suburban / urban Central New Jersey. Most are quite courteous and give me plenty of room. However I also give trucks a wide berth knowing how difficult it is to see driving those things (rent a U-Haul box truck one day).

    Also, while not as numerous, Europe has plenty of large trucks like those pictured in the video. No 18-wheelers but they do have trucks that tow an equal sized trailer. Difference over there is the level of driver training. It takes six months of training, costing around $2000 to just get a regular drivers license (at least in Germany). Now drivers are aggressive but I rarely felt that they would risk my safety while I was riding on the road with them. The legal penalties are just too high plus I feel European culture holds the value of life higher than here in the US (even though they do like to do things that risk their own lives a lot more often. I guess that’s one reason why I like it over there.).

  • “that safety on the road is a team effort, especially where cyclists are involved.”

    I don’t see that this reheated team effort is going to stop death by truck any more than it has for the past 50 years. Team America is always training to dash out of the way of traffic, but children and elderly pedestrians don’t always make the grade–and find themselves crushed by right turning truck drivers that are “trained for safety.” Go team.

    It’s beside the point whether truck drivers (and their accidental victims) are good people. I assume everyone is a good person, but people that drive too fast for their vehicles and surroundings are not showing enough respect for the lives of others. In NYC that’s almost every driver on the road, but it’s the barreling trucks that send a chill down my spine. As taxi drivers will tell you, trucks do most of the killing.

    As for Europe, of course they have large trucks in the continent. They also make the A380. But if you compare city to city, like NYC to Paris, you’ll find the trucks there significantly smaller and more heavily regulated. That is the way to save lives. You do not put the entire city population in a highway truck cab and say look at how they can’t see where they’re going, ain’t that crazy!? Frankly, I’m disgusted by this approach to safety.

    We have the low hanging fruit of saving lives in New York, with the private trucks that take garbage from our neighborhoods and drop off death. They must slow down or be shut down. We have semis rolling around our streets that are designed to back up to loading docks of suburban big box stores, not deliver to a corner grocery. But because our cities were of such low stature that we couldn’t demand anything special: That can and must change.

  • I agree with what you saying Doc. Safely videos are not a replacement for fixing underlying problems with the way we use our public spaces. We can’t educate our way out of traffic deaths, we need to engineer our way out, by planning better intersection and changing the kinds of trucks that are on the road.

    That all said, safety education isn’t totally useless. It’s worth a shot, but it’s about as effective as a sign that says “not littering” is at preventing trashing from clogging up the sidewalks.

    I think this video will scare new cyclists and it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know. I know they can’t see me, in fact I assume they can’t, unless I can make eye contact. I seriously doubt that anyone has ever been hit by a truck because they just “did know” this stuff.

  • Larry Littlefield

    We have a different problem this video didn’t get into.

    You are riding on the left, in a bike lane or not, and a delivery truck is double parked. So you try to move around it to the left, and just then it moves away from the curb.

    It happens every block on Second Avenue heading for the Manhattan Bridge.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I meant you try to move around to the right of course — the side of the truck furthest from the driver.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I’m not going to go into details but I think that there is a big cultural difference with driving once you leave NYC. Yeah, its crazy in the city and their is a real “road warrior” attitude in NYC that definately mellows the further one gets from the 5-Boros. I will also agree that it is just plane idiotic to think that a semi-trailer is an appropriate vehicle to make deliveries in the city. Also if NYC got rid of parking spaces for personal cars and turned those places into delivery zones then the trucks would be less likely to park in bike and bus lanes (just a thought).

    I think us East Coasters are just way too cynical and I think that cynicism justifiably reaches new highs in NYC where bicycling is involve. When I visited the Pacific NW two years ago I astonished by the feeling I got that people still believed they lived in a good society and that they must all work together to move forward. I just don’t get that feeling here. Here its everyone for themselves and get the fuck out of my self righteous way or I’ll kill you, LITERALLY!


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