What’s right under our nose

When biking — or, particularly, driving — about our daily lives, we pass through many spaces that are meant only to be passed through on the way to someplace else. Stopping to watch for a while is often enlightening. The video below was taken by a volunteer bike counter at the intersection of a busy highway and a bike trail during the evening commute. The person stopped and was seeing the space as a place rather than a corridor, and the resulting view is both fascinating and terrifying.

There are countless spaces like this in the US, and not just busy streets — what would we find if we stopped to observe them more often? And what would we do differently?

Video below the jump:

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9 Responses to “What’s right under our nose”

  1. kalebop January 30, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    Thanks to the person who put this together!

  2. Mark February 1, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    This video highlights to me exactly why cyclists should not be acting like pedestrians and crossing the streets in the crosswalks – they are far less visible than when riding in the middle of the travel lane, and as a result are inviting conflict. I am not absolving motorists of the responsibility to stop at red lights, and to proceed across crosswalks giving priority to traffic in those crosswalks, but the cyclists are not helping themselves by positioning themselves in places that the motorists are not looking.

    • Elly February 1, 2012 at 10:49 am #

      Hmm. What are their options, though? A transportation path is provided for cyclists, but a safe connection across the highway is not provided. It doesn’t seem like an either/or choice, unless the choice is to ride or not ride.

    • Doug February 1, 2012 at 11:10 am #

      @Mark – I’m not from Portland, but I think I’ve located this crossing on Google maps. It looks like Skyline/Scholls Ferry crossing Hwy 26 at the NE edge of Beaverton. You have a MUP paralleling a freeway and this is a street level crossing of a thoroughfare. Apart from riding, bicyclists have exactly one option – to step off and become pedestrians. Would things be better if they were to position themselves as pedestrians in places that the motorists are still not looking?

    • Janet Lafleur February 1, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

      Agree with Doug. If the cyclists walked in the crosswalk they would be even more vulnerable since they couldn’t move away as quickly in an evasive move.

      And there isn’t any way for the cyclists to get from the path into traffic for vehicular cycling anyway, especially to head down the road on the upper left. How would they get from the sidewalk to the left hand turn lane?

  3. Jessie K. February 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    I pass through an intersection like this (and several of its little brothers) on my route to work every day. I’m not a fan of riding on the sidewalk—you have to go slower, you have to watch out for driveways—but it’s a whole hell of a lot safer than riding on the highway, so that’s what I do through that particular section. That video is exactly what happens at these intersections (except that unlike the cyclists in the video who calmly waited, I’m normally waving my arms and shouting that I have the right of way).

    The area around my office is all industrial warehouse/big box store shopping hell, and cars drive fast. I walk around during my lunch breaks, and as a pedestrian on the sidewalk I’m not treated with any more deference than a cyclist on the sidewalk. Cars don’t check for waiting pedestrians before blowing red lights because the streets are set up to be a fast car paradise, rather than a shared-use area. I don’t say this to excuse poor driving etiquette, but I do think that if drivers don’t get a lot of visual cues that they’re supposed to share the space, then they simply won’t think about it.

    It drives me nuts to try to get around in this area. I mean, what’s at stake here? For the driver: 5 seconds, tops. For me: serious injury in the best case scenario.

    Thanks for posting this—it’s definitely eye-opening.

    • Mondoman February 4, 2012 at 1:58 am #

      Seems like this is a good area to carry a portable airhorn (both on bike and while walking).


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