Red hand on pedestrian/bicycle crosswalk

I am sending this message as a PSA since I think a lot of bikers might not know this rule of the trails. When coming to an intersection with a crosswalk, and you are planning on crossing at the crosswalk on a green light in your direction please know that a red hand lit at the pedestrian sign has to be treated as a stop sign. I learned this the hard way the other day as I was involved in a car vs. my bike accident. All is well, just a few broken ribs, but it could have been a lot worse. The police officer on the scene informed me of this rule, which I definitely should have known so my bad for not knowing. I just want to make sure that word gets out to cyclists that they are to treat these intersections very carefully. As I waited for my ride to the ER (refused ambulance due to expenses) I noticed that EVERY bicyclist flew across the crosswalk that had a green light for the road, but a red hand on the pedestrian crossing. I hope this makes sense. Please let me know if I need to clarify. Thank you. I hope everyone is really safe out there.

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I am not following. Can you explain what you mean by this? Who has a red and who has a green?
At an unsignalized intersection things can get complicated: where cars traveling perpendicular to my path have a stop sign but pedestrians if they step into street have the right of way… that sort of thing. But what you are describing sounds to me like a green light. A green light as I understand it always means I can go, I have the right of way.

Hey Reuben. I am hoping this helps. Traveling eastbound on the Springwater Corridor paved bike and pedestrian trail, parallel to Johnson Creek Blvd. I am approaching the intersection (while sill on the bike trail) of SE Johnson Creek Blvd. and SE Linwood. In order for me to continue on the bike trail and cross Linwood I have to cross Linwood on a crosswalk. The light for eastbound vehicular traffic is green, but the pedestrian signal for the crosswalk is a lighted red hand. In order for me to legally proceed across the crosswalk to cross Linwood I must act as though there is a stop sign since the pedestrian signal is a lighted red hand. Therefore, I was supposed to slow down and look behind me to my left to see if anyone was going to turn on to Linwood.

My mistake was watching the green light for eastbound traffic and blowing across the crosswalk to cross Linwood. I was not supposed to have just counted on that green light. I had to also read the pedestrian crossing since I was going to use the crosswalk. This rule applies to bicycles AND pedestrians. Just because a pedestrian steps into a crosswalk when there is a red hand, does not necessarily mean the traffic turning right is legally supposed to stop. They have the green light; pedestrians and bicyclists have the equivalent of a stop sign, which means they yield.

You can go through a green light if you are on the main road, in a bicycle lane. That’s when you use the green light to go through an intersection. Rules change when you are on a crosswalk with a red hand/white walker pedestrian signal. In that case you defer to the pedestrian signal.

A picture is worth a thousand words to me, so if I’ve understood correctly, you’re here, following the arrow

When you reach the intersection, you have a green traffic light but a red crosswalk, just as in the picture, and you’re proceeding toward the path

A car travelling east on Johnson Creek Blvd turned onto Linwood across your path

and crashed at about the red X.

The officer said because you didn’t have the pedestrian signal in your favor, the car had the right-of-way and you should have stopped. Have I summarized correctly?

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Yes. If you are IN the crosswalk then the lights and rules that govern pedestrians obtain. I had not in your first post understood that you were IN the crosswalk.

Blowing across any conflict point adjacent to a road is very dangerous regardless of signalization – this is precisely why riding on the sidewalk is dangerous.

Drivers are much less likely to see you, and if they do, they will likely estimate you moving at food rather than riding speeds.

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We should get some clarification on this. I think this is incorrect. Pedestrians (we had up until now been talking about bikes in the crosswalk) as far as I know have the right of way in a crosswalk once they have signaled their intention by stepping off the curb. Right turns aside, in unsignalized intersections cars must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks (marked or unmarked) but not to bikes who are also waiting to cross, but in the lane.

Yeah, this is a tricky one also because I’m usually going at a good speed here but I make it a point to stop and lean on the pole to indicate that I’m NOT crossing. I’ve had good intentioned left turning drivers stop mid intersection to let me go by just because I was track standing there. That turns into a mess. Leaning on the pole or putting your foot down indicates that you’re not going anywhere. It also helps to be slightly away from the curb when doing so.

Another tricky one is crossing SW Pleasant Dr further east near W Powell Loop. That’s because traffic heading east on Powell Loop has a stop and traffic heading west on Powell Loop can turn left across the trail WITHOUT STOPPING. Then the stop sign on Pleasant Drive is actually before Springwater Trail but drivers want to pull across the trail to “arrive at the intersection with Powell Loop”. Some drivers coming down Pleasent Drive don’t stop making a right, since drivers from their left have a stop and some stop right on the trail! I’ve thought about this becoming just a 3 way stop but then a bicycle arriving on the trail would still completely confuse drivers as to who gets to go first.

Both intersections are perfect examples of the point John Forester, the guy behind vehicular cycling and just recently passed away, was making.

Let’s be perfectly clear about what the law says in Oregon about riding a bike on the sidewalk/crosswalk. You are held to all the same rules and restrictions of a pedestrian (plus a couple more*) when operating a bike there, or else you lose all of your protections as a “pedestrian”.

* There are couple of big additional rules:

  1. When you cross a driveway or enter a crosswalk, you must ride no faster than “an ordinary walking speed” (whatever that is), unless there is no approaching vehicle or pedestrian such as to create an imminent hazard.
  2. You must give an audible every time you overtake a pedestrian.

When a red hand on the crosswalk is solid, it is illegal to cross as a pedestrian (even if you’re on a bike). Not that most cops would pull you over for that if they saw you showed caution. But, yeah, in any collision you’d be found at fault for a: going on the red/don’t walk), and b: entering the crosswalk at a faster than walking pace (if you were).

I am not especially familiar with this particular intersection, but feel the need to point out that on most Intersections (very nearly all that I can think of) The green light for cars corresponds in time with a white/go for pedestrians, while the flashing red don’t walk symbol corresponds to a yellow and the solid don’t walk to the red of a traffic light.
The way the OP has it there is both a solid red for the Eastbound pedestrian (and biker in the crosswalk) and a green for Eastbound cars (and bikes traveling on the road). While conceivable this strikes me as pretty unusual, and the confusion that would arise from contradictory symbols disappears pretty much if the timing of these lights is of the more common coincident variety.

Flashing don’t walk for pedestrian always begins before the yellow light on a traffic signal. Always. I’ve never seen different in my lifetime. The flashing pedestrian signal is analogous to a yellow light for a pedestrian. One is not supposed to enter the crosswalk once the flashing has started (and you can be ticketed for entering the crosswalk if you do — again, up to the cop). Not all pedestrian signals have countdown timers (but I do believe it is a standard for new ones), but that gives able bodied people more of an idea as to whether they can make it across in that time.

I may be misunderstanding you, @9watts, in that you might be saying the exact same thing as me now that I’ve reread it. I think we’re actually in agreement. I took it at first that you were saying the timing of a yellow light corresponded to the blinking don’t walk.

Some traffic signals will go yellow then red when the pedestrian countdown hits 0. Not all, some will still be green for several seconds more. There’s a discrepancy even at the same intersection sometimes. Example: NE Knott and NE 15th. West-East, there’s a several second delay between when the pedestrian crossing goes full red, and when the traffic signal goes yellow. North-South, when the pedestrian signal goes red is the same time the traffic signal goes yellow.

We are essentially saying the same thing, except that you are being a bit more precise. My chief point was that what I felt the OP was saying didn’t sound right (or at least unusual): Simultaneous green traffic light and solid red pedestrian for travel in the same direction.

MaddHatter you nailed it perfectly with your pictures. The second picture is exactly what I was seeing as I approached Linwood. I was watching the green light when I should have been watching both, the green light and the lighted pedestrian signal. In the situation pictured a bicyclist has to treat entering the crosswalk like a stop sign…slow roll, but make sure to look back and to the left. Front and to the left does not matter since there is a left turn red arrow.

In the third picture the accident occurred almost exactly where you placed the red X. I was laying between the first and second white has marks. Perfect summary. Well done.

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Yes, squareman. That description is what the police officer said to me. I did not get cited though.

The driver of the car said she saw me further ahead, but she decided not to stop or slow down to be safe. Yes, she did not have to according to the law apparently, but there are countless times when all of us (driving automobiles, riding bikes, even walking) make decisions erring on the side of safety for all parties involved even though the offender is not following the law. I think that’s where the police officer came in with his opinion of not citing anyone. She saw me, but did not take proper and safe precautions to avoid an accident.

Are you saying you feel it was the driver’s fault that you ignored a traffic control signal and entered a conflict point without checking to see if you could do so safely?

Frankly, either of you could have easily avoided this, but the primary responsibility was yours.

My sympathies on the broken ribs. The recovery process is miserable.

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Hey banerjek. No, I am NOT saying it was her fault. The police officer found both of us at fault, and, as I noted in my original post, I should have known the rule of the road.
Yes, broken ribs do hurt like hell. A good reminder to be safe out there, which is why I made my original post.
Red hand = stop sign.

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I totally get the confusion with the signalization.

My own opinion is that Portland relies too heavily on unusual lights, signs, paint patterns, etc which inevitably leads to confusion (and conflicts) among drivers and cyclists alike – an effect that is exacerbated by a huge number of conflict points with bad visibility, visual busyness, weird angles, and the like.

The only way I’ve been able to stay out of trouble is to assume everyone will do the dumbest and most dangerous thing possible and to plan accordingly. My assumption proves wrong over 99% of the time, but it comes true often enough for me to keep making it.


Unfortunately I have to agree.
What is up with PBOT’s penchant for frequently inventing completely unheard of signals. Like the flashing/solid double red on 29th and Hawthorne. Where else does that light sequence exist? Why not use something out of the existing toolbox? Who makes/signs off on decisions like this?

Well, that happens all the time when the pedestrian signal requires one to hit the beg button first (and have to wait until the next signal cycle).

OK. Point well taken. I hadn’t thought about the beg button variety.
Is that what is installed at the intersection in question?