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Q & A with rider who inspired “Kill this Bicyclist!” post

Posted by on August 18th, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Paul Higgins, as seen from
the window of a TriMet bus.
(Photos: Screen grabs of Dan
Christensen’s blog)

At the end of last month, TriMet bus operator Dan Christensen published a shocking essay on his personal blog. The essay was titled “PORTLAND! KILL THIS BICYCLIST!” It went into detail about how Christensen was so frustrated with a man riding a bike in front of his bus on SE Hawthorne Blvd that he pleaded with someone to kill him and he himself wanted to “exercise the death option.” The post also included a photo of the man on the bike’s face that was taken by one of Christensen’s passengers.

“I don’t want to be responsible for making people feel the way I made Christensen feel…I’m much more mindful of the way I ride now.”
— Paul Higgins

Once the blog post (read it here) came to their attention, TriMet immediately placed Christensen on leave. He pulled the story down hours later, but not before it was picked up by the AP wire. After the dust had settled, Christensen was back to work a week later.

Christensen, a well-liked driver with a clean record, was obviously shaken up by what he saw, but the specifics of what the guy on the bike did to set him off have remain unknown. Until now. Below is a Q & A I had via email with Paul Higgins, the man who inspired Dan Christensen’s blog post.

What do you remember from that day?

“I remember approaching the light on SE 30th and Hawthorne in the right lane. The bus was in front of me and was just beginning to accelerate after the light turned green. I was going significantly faster and decided I could pass the bus without impeding traffic. I increased speed and moved onto the striped white line dividing the two eastbound lanes, passing both the bus and another car in the left lane. Once clear of the bus I moved back into the right lane so I wouldn’t impede faster-moving traffic in the left. I don’t remember hearing Christensen honk or anything like that. Neither do I recall pulling any other stunts on my way to work, though I may have blown through a light. (I always at least slow down and look and listen. I don’t believe that traffic control devices are responsible for my safety on the road, it is my ability to identify and respond to threats and danger that keep me safe.) When I arrived at work and was locking up he stopped the bus, opened the doors and shouted “Hey that was some fancy drivin’!” I didn’t turn around, I just said thanks and finished locking up and went inside. I really don’t like it when motorists yell at me.”

Where you surprised to read Dan Christensen’s account of what happened?

“What account? He claimed to have taken “extreme measures” to avoid hitting me; that “it was so bad and lasted for blocks,” yet said nothing of what actually happened. He mentioned vaguely that he may have had to brake violently and “throw people around my bus.” As I stated earlier, I was going faster than he was, that is what necessitated me passing him. The only reason I can come up with which would cause him to brake is if I surprised and scared him. It makes sense. I mean, I passed him on an unexpected side, out of a blind spot, in a maneuver that many would deem unsafe. But that’s conjecture. I have no way of knowing his account of what happened. One could only make assumptions based upon his poorly written, emotional tirade.

I was surprised at the length of time it took him to write about the incident, and to still be so filled with venom about it a month later is just ridiculous. After some consideration I can see that his blog was cathartic, and I’m glad he has a place where he can air out his demons. However, it may have been a better choice for him to have kept this particular writing exercise private. I mean, my mom almost cried when she heard about it, and he almost lost his job.”

Where you surprised at what a big deal this turned into?

“Incredibly. I was in front of that bus for less than five minutes. Let’s boil it down: A bus driver got mad at a cyclist and a month later posted a blog about it and then felt a bit better. Literally at the end of the blog he states, “Wow I feel better now.” It should have ended there.”

What kind of rider would you say you are?

“Fearful. I feel a bit like a mouse. I leave my tiny little home to try and scrape up some cheddar, and instead of snakes, cats, mousetraps and housewives with brooms; I have potholes, cars, pedestrians, other cyclists, cops, road debris and equipment failure that can all potentially kill or maim me. I deal with that by making myself a real presence on the road. When making my way through heavy traffic I’m big, aggressive, and loud. I get quite an attitude much of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love riding. I get a thrill out of it. I like knowing that I reached my destination by burning calories instead of gas. I like that my legs and ass are fucking statuesque. I like that I don’t pollute, that it’s inexpensive, that it’s healthy, that I get to experience the elements, that every time I ride I overcome a challenge and am bettering myself.”

Has this experience changed how you think about bike/bus interactions and your own riding style?

“I’m on the watch for Dan. I want to shake his hand and tell him I’m sorry about the trouble I caused him. I don’t want to be responsible for making people feel the way I made Christensen feel. It’s wrong and no one deserves to be scared or bullied on the road. What’s tough is figuring out what’s my fault and what is just him overreacting.

I’m much more mindful of the way I ride now. I think about how my actions will affect others around me, and if my actions are in line with my ideal. My goal in life is to just be a good dude, I won’t achieve that if I ride like an asshole. My solution is rational, compassionate response to the people I share the road with, rather than a knee-jerk, fear-based reaction to people I perceive as threats.”

I’m grateful for Paul’s willingness to answer my questions candidly and thoughtfully. It’s clear he takes his role in this incident seriously. I hope this episode has been an opportunity for all of us — whether operating a vehicle with or without a motor — to learn that doing so comes with a lot of emotions how we behave can have an impact way beyond ourselves.

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Comments
  • trail abuser August 18, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    It’s clear that Dan is not used to fit people riding bikes faster than himself and needs to accept that he may have mental health issues.

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  • Nik August 18, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Thanks for this follow-up on the story. I haven’t encountered a more eloquent description of what it feels like sometimes to be out on the street in traffic on a bike.

    Some people perceive the need to look big, to be seen, to assert one’s place in the road as arrogance, but it sure doesn’t feel like it when all you have is your own judgment, strength, reaction time, and faith in other road users between safety and certain injury or worse.

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  • Grace August 18, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    I wonder if Mr. Higgins used turn signals before changing lanes. (There are manual turn signals that I was taught to use when I learned how to ride bike.)

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  • rhienna August 18, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    man, what a class act. paul’s reply is so conscientiously crafted, with grace and perspective. i really liked reading the “other side” of this event, especially given christensen’s vague/emotional blog post. well done to both of you.

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  • peejay August 18, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Paul, thanks for expressing better than I could the philosophy of how I ride, too. I can only add this: as exciting and stimulating as it is to ride this way, I’d love to trade that for real safety, and real bike facilities.

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  • Hollie Teal August 18, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    don’t want to ride like an asshole and, in the process, make the rest of cyclists have to battle the image that we’re all assholes? start by not running red lights. thanks.

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  • AL M August 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Interesting!

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  • Nat West August 18, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Yeah, Hollie is right. There is only one excuse for running a red light and that’s when you can’t get the thing to trigger, you wait through one cycle, then carefully proceed just like you were a car at a broken signal. I can see how Dan would get peeved if he’d seen Paul run a red, then pass on the left, then maybe pull back into the right too closely to the bus. That being said, I respect the “big, aggressive and loud” style of riding with traffic. There’s an adage in the motorcycling community, “Loud pipes (exhaust) save lives.”

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  • jeff August 18, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    From his own account here, Paul threaded a small space at high speed between a bus that was pulling out into the right land a car in the left lane (by riding on the white line).
    Paul, if you don’t like motorists yelling at you, then don’t pull stupid moves like that.

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  • Pinarovo August 18, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    I sincerely hope that Paul isn’t a hypocrite by not driving a car the same way he rides on his commute.

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  • Nick V August 18, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Both Paul and Dan sound like a couple of me-first drama queens. But, if I remember, Dan wasn’t quite so arrogant. And yeah, I agree with the people here who say that Paul was being stupid at the light, if not plain reckless.

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  • dirt merchant August 18, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    The move Paul describes is stupid, reckless and undoubtedly surprised the driver.

    Paul, how would you feel if you were driving the bus and a bicyclist surprised you in the same way?

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  • matt picio August 18, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Nat West (#8) – There are 2 excuses for running a red light: the one you already mentioned, and #2 – if it is unsafe for you to stop. In some cases with extremely short yellow lights (some intersections in Beaverton / Hillsboro come to mind), stopping when the signal turns yellow would put a cyclist in the middle of the intersection. In those cases, the law permits any road user (not just cyclists) to run the red light.

    Granted, that is not a common case.

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  • Jerry_W August 18, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Paul says “though I may have blown through a light”. That’s like a politician saying I didn’t do anything wrong, yeah, they did something wrong alright. Paul didn’t need to move around that bus on the left, that was a dumb move, totally unnecessary.

    Stop at lights, stop at stop signs, ride like you don’t want to get hurt. I agree with others here, Paul is a jerk, he needs to grow up. Other bike riders don’t need to be lumped in with the likes of him and so many others just like him, it hurts us all.

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  • Dan August 18, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Riding between lanes on Hawthorne (doesn’t say if it’s eastbound or westbound) when there’s vehicles in both lanes does in fact force one or both of the motorists to take evasive action.

    Remember, the right lane on Hawthorne is not really wide enough for a Tri-Met bus even without a cyclist trying to thread the needle on the left side between the bus and a car.

    In that situation, if you’re going to take the lane, the better approach would be to slow down (yes, I said it, the four-letter word beginning with “s” that us cyclists hate so much) and then merge into the left lane when it’s clear. If I had been driving either the car or the bus, I also would have been upset at Paul.

    Paul does indeed give us a great description of riding a bike in traffic though.

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  • Alistair August 18, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    and Jonathan,
    thank you from making this interview possible. Believing there is a fair place for all to share their sides makes it easier to hear other versions. And then who knows, perhaps even understanding, not of who is right or wrong, but of what led to good results and what didn’t. I’ve been a version of both parties myself, so it’s not simple but not impossible either.

    I look forward to the License Plate guy too.

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  • Dan August 18, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Judging from the photo, they must have been heading eastbound on Hawthorne. Paul,
    if you ride Hawthorne all the time, you probably know that buses typically ride on the white line or a little bit over it. it sounds like you gained no more than 30 seconds or so by passing the bus in an unsafe and potentially life-threatening fashion — was it really worth it?

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  • sabernar August 18, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    So the people who are disagreeing with him passing a vehicle on the left are saying that they have NEVER passed a vehicle on the left that was going too slow? How else are you supposed to pass? Definitely not on the right. If the left lane is open and you’re going faster than the car/bus/truck, then why can’t you pass? I know I’ve done it before, and I know plenty of cyclists have done it before. What’s the rationale for not passing?

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  • matt f August 18, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Paul’s answers in the beginning part of the interview (and his former riding style) sound like that of a spoiled teenager: brash, spiteful, arrogant, not grateful (no offense Paul, I’m just trying to draw a correlation here)…just like our collective current bike commuting culture here in Portland.

    But lo-and-behold by the end of the interview, perhaps in part because of the incident, he’s all growed-up. I’m sincerely glad to see that he’s gotten to this point without getting into an accident (or getting his ass kicked).

    So Paul is more mindful and responsible of his actions on the bike now (good on you Paul)…how long (and what) will it take for us to collectively get there?

    sincerely, grandpa simpson

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  • Dan August 18, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    @#18, from the RTFA department: “I increased speed and moved onto the striped white line dividing the two eastbound lanes, passing both the bus and another car in the left lane.”

    The problem is not passing the bus in the left lane, there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is threading the gap between the bus in the right lane and a car in the left lane.

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  • spare_wheel August 18, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    “There is only one excuse for running a red light and that’s when you can’t get the thing to trigger, you wait through one cycle, then carefully proceed just like you were a car at a broken signal.”

    Thats breaking the law. Breaking the law is *BAD*. I am going to report you to BTA.

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  • jeff August 18, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    sabernar. No one is saying he should not pass at a given time when it is safe to do so. As described here, it was not that time if the bus was moving out into the lane (and most likely has its big red ‘YIELD’ sign flashing on the back).
    Paul also could have waited until the car in the left lane cleared so he could have taken the lane to pass the bus (since he apparently likes to ride fast down E. Hawthorne).

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  • Michael M. August 18, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Not to pick on Paul here (in part, anyway, because I appreciate his willingness to share his perspective on this whole unfortunate episode), but why do so many cyclists seem to think it’s okay to thread lanes and ride in such a way that is convenient for their own speed/progress, no matter how it might affect others on the roadway.

    Happily, I don’t drive a motorized vehicle, but I think I would be terrified by a person on a bike suddenly appearing out of nowhere and speeding by without warning. Why is it those of us on bikes expect people in cars to pass us leaving a safe distance, but then we think its okay for us to squeeze between vehicles in adjacent lanes anytime we think “oh hey I’m goin’ faster than this here bus”? It just seems to me that if you are going to ride like you’re operating a vehicle (a condition imposed by many of our Portland roads), then you should follow the same laws that all vehicle operators are expected to follow. If you take the lane, maintain the lane, don’t weave between lanes. Don’t blow through or disregard traffic controls. Take some responsibility for your actions and behavior. Is that so hard?

    Clearly, I have a hard time understanding the mindsets of many other people on bikes on the roads.

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  • sabernar August 18, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Ah, I didn’t read his description as if the car was in the left lane and he passed by threading between them. I read it as if there was a bus AND a car in the right lane and he passed them both. Yeah, threading is a bit dangerous (though I’ll still wager a good portion of the readers of this site have done the same, especially when they are stopped at a red light).

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  • Tom_ August 18, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I don’t know why anyone rides Hawthorne — its dicey and there are lots of angry drivers. Harrison and Salmon are both much safer bike streets.

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  • cyclist August 18, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    It needs to be reiterated that the lane widths on Hawthorne are such that there’s hardly any room at all between lanes when a bus is in the right lane (and frequently the bus has to hang over a bit into the left lane). The fact that this guy decided to shoot the gap as the bus was pulling out was probably what scared the crap out of him.

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  • Eric August 18, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    We’re asking for the city to put up millions of dollars in additional electronic controls for bikes at intersections, etc…and this guy won’t even respect the controls that are already there. Makes the rest of us look bad.

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  • sabernar August 18, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    #26 – I’m not trying to defend him, but there are a LOT of people who make Portland cyclists look bad. He is FAR from the only one. On my short ride to work every day (4+ miles from SE to NW), I usually encounter at least a couple, if not significantly more, cyclists that make the community look bad. And I’m not even counting the 99% of all cyclists that don’t stop at stop signs (and subsequently make all cyclists look bad).

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  • Bob_M August 18, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Calling Charles Darwin to the white courtesy phone

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  • Melia August 18, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Wow. I have to say, while his response is candid and honest, it kinda makes my skin crawl. “Defensive” cyclists who blow red lights and maneuver their way through traffic with a big “me against the world” stance put me on edge. While they might feel safe doing fast, defensive, and un-anticipatable maneuvers, they can put cars, pedestrians, and other cyclists at risk by the shock of what feels like a close call.

    Have you ever been shaken up by a car door opening up JUST as you pass it, thinking how bad that could have been? Perhaps the car driver would argue that they knew you were going to be past by the time they fully opened their car door and they truly believed it. Does that make it a good thing to do? No.

    Whether cyclist or car driver, even if you’re *sure* (and who can really be sure?) you could execute a close-call and come out unscathered, surprising folks on the road isn’t going to keep our roads safe. Similar to cyclists that don’t use lights at night because they feel like *they* know what they’re doing. It’s not just your own safety, it’s for everyone.

    The reality is that we’re all on these streets together and we need to look out for each other, which includes being visible and “anticipatable”. I need to let the cars around me know that I’m there and what I’m going to do (in advance) so that they don’t freak out and put themselves, me, or anyone else at risk, just as I want to support my fellow cyclists and make sure that cars are paying attention to us on the road.

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  • Wayne Tyson August 18, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    I ride in San Diego, CA, and I’m thinking of moving to the Portland area.

    In San Diego, we have about a thousand bicyclists who do a night ride frequently, en masse, running red lights, making obscene gestures, shouting indignantly at any close calls, stop traffic by blowing through stop signs and red lights, not to mention stringing out for miles so others, I ride in San Diego, CA, and I’m thinking of moving to the Portland area.

    In San Diego, we have about a thousand bicyclists who do a night ride frequently, en masse, running red lights, making obscene gestures, shouting indignantly at any close calls, stop traffic by blowing through stop signs and red lights, not to mention stringing out for miles so others, including other bicyclists, cars, trucks, and pedestrians are immobilized for considerable lengths of time. They say that this is to “assert bicyclist’s rights.”

    I was riding down a wide street, much like Paul, but obeying traffic laws. A bus had “nosed” toward the curb instead of making a normal stop, blocking most of the traffic lane. I checked for other traffic and passed the bus in what little space remained of the traffic lane. The bus was not signaling. The bus passed me before the next stop and abruptly swung to the right, forcing me into the parked cars; I was able to stop in time, but could not have made it through the couple of feet she left for me. I caught her at the next stop and asked, in a voice audible above the traffic noise, why she had tried to kill me. A police officer pulled up and we both asked to have the other arrested. The officer refused, suggested that I ride on the sidewalk and report the incident to the bus company, but wouldn’t write a report or call his supervisor. I did nothing, as I didn’t want to get a visit from the driver’s home boys.

    That’s the way it is in San Diego.

    As to the issues discussed, “Why can’t we just all get along?”

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  • old&slow August 18, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Both of them need to stay off the road. The cyclist is an a-hole who thinks only “he” can run lights in traffic, and the Bus Driver is an accident waiting to happen with his attitude and the “cooperation” of BikePortland for the kidgloves handling of his stupid blog.
    He is a menace and Higgins is an arrogant jerk.

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  • Kt August 18, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Splitting the lanes to gain a few seconds to your destination is stupid. And unsafe.

    As we cyclists like to tell drivers, waiting a few seconds for a safe place to pass isn’t going to make a big difference at the end of the journey.

    I’m glad that Paul came out with his side of the story, and his perspective as a cyclist riding Portland’s street. I wish Dan C would have also been as forthcoming with his perspective on what happened.

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  • hairjordan August 18, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    I couldn’t agree with Hottie Teal more. Thinking that you’re above the law that all others are expected to follow is arrogant. That’s the same kind of arrogance that Dick Cheney had when he was president. It leads some irrational drivers to take there anger out on cyclist in general. Including those of us who always obey traffic laws.

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  • Nick V August 18, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Tom #25 is spot on. Yes, I know – cyclists should be allowed on all urban roads. BUT….riding on Hawthorne when there are more bike-friendly roads within seconds is MUCH more stressful for all parties involved.

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  • wsbob August 18, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    “Not to pick on Paul here (in part, anyway, because I appreciate his willingness to share his perspective on this whole unfortunate episode),…” Michael M #23

    I certainly agree with that. It’s amazing to read Paul Higgins perspective, because it sounds as if he has little idea that his approach to riding in traffic could be any problem for any of the other people on the road with him:

    “…What’s tough is figuring out what’s my fault and what is just him overreacting. …” Paul Higgins

    If he really knew that what he’d done was wrong, I wonder if he would have consented to the interview being published. In comments above, numerous people have indicated things Higgins did that experienced and responsible road users would consider wrong, irresponsible, and dangerous, such as not properly signaling in preparation to making a turn (or not signaling at all), threading lanes (which is just nuts given the situation he describes on Hawthorne), blowing lights … .

    Paul…Christensen is driving a behemoth bus…he’s doing everything he reasonably can to keep from rolling over vulnerable road users, including you on the bike. You, positioning yourself 18-24 inches from the bus on one side and a car on the other is seriously compromising his ability to accomplish this, should some untoward event occur.

    Particularly in traffic congested areas, operating vehicles by clearly indicating intention to change direction of travel, before moving, is extremely important.

    “…When making my way through heavy traffic I’m big, aggressive, and loud. I get quite an attitude much of the time. …” Paul Higgins

    What exactly is he describing himself as doing here? Sounds as though he’s describing the kind of road user that yells profanities and flips the bird, etc, etc, at other road users they’re distressed over. Again, I’d just say if you’re on a bike and want to appear ‘big’ to other road users, try for example….big, clearly visible and lengthy hand signals indicating to those other road users that you’ll be turning, changing lanes, and stopping.

    Since he’s wondering what Christensen did that might have been overreacting, I’d say that C’s mistake was limited to one of judgment after the fact, in phrasing his concern and frustration on his public weblog, using words ‘kill’ and ‘death option’ as literary devices. For a bus driver describing personal job experiences, doing that kind of thing is also wrong, dangerous and irresponsible.

    Not everyone may agree, but I think we’ve heard at least something from Christensen that suggests he certainly does realize what he did in that respect, is something he should never do again, ever.

    The last two paragraphs of Paul Higgins interview suggest that he also, after this incident, is aware that for him, a change in his in traffic riding manner is in order. In the case of both Christensen and Higgins, that’s good news for all of us.

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  • Joe August 18, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    What kind of rider would you say you are?
    love it, great story.

    be safe and enjoy the road all.

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  • Brian August 18, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Lessons learned:

    1. Don’t be an arrogant jerk rider. Just because you are on a bike does not mean that you can be a scofflaw. The world’s behavior to you will mirror your own. You will get more respect if you ride like an adult and you will give the rest of us a better reputation. No need to prove anything or declare war.

    2. Ride cleanly without fear, but with awareness.

    3. If there is a good alternative, don’t ride on Hawthorne or other busy streets that are tight, unless you really have to and then only for a short stretch… especially at rush hour. As has been mentioned, why not choose an adjacent peaceful street and enjoy the ride with more safety? Why ask for trouble? Are you really in that much of a hurry? If it is a little bit longer, so what? Maybe you just want to show off your prowess and “statuesque” bod to as many as possible on a busy street?

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  • Peter Smith August 18, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    but I think I would be terrified by a person on a bike suddenly

    Portlanders who drive cars, and GINORMO-cars (aka ‘buses’), are actually ‘terrified’ of people on bikes who do stuff they don’t like? forgive my incredulity, but i’m not buying it. if you are that terrified of Bikers Behaving Badly (BBB), then stop driving. you live in Portland — what’s your excuse?

    if you drive a bus for a living, then stop crying — there’s no crying in bus driving (NCBD) — have a Snickers — do whatever you need to do to calm yourself down — meditate — practice yoga — or retire — easy.

    While you’re on the road, though, drive that oversized, cyclist-maiming contraption you call a bus very slowly, and if cyclists want to pass you, then let them pass you, give them a friendly wave and a smile, and float on — don’t encourage other people to murder and maim cyclists, etc.

    it’s all pretty basic, common-sense-type stuff.

    cyclists need to be given our own infrastructure. until that is true for 100% of Portland’s roads, then drivers will have to learn to act in a civilized manner. we’re trying to have a decent society here, and you drivers are mucking everything up.

    drivers — bus drivers included — need to realize that they do not have rights on the roads — they have responsibilities — there’s a difference.

    Drivers are forces of occupation — they are are responsible not just for the crime of invading our cities and towns in the first place (‘The Supreme Domestic Crime’™), but for every subsequent crime that stems from that original crime. While they are on the roads, they are expected to behave as guests in our home — do not dare harass or threaten us, much less maim and kill us, or you will be banished. if you are on the roads, you are there at our pleasure — when we decide that your time is up, then your time is up. So behave yourself — you’ve probably still got a few more years of being able to drive on some of Portland’s roads. if you start acting right, we might let you stay a little while longer. doubtful, but we’ll see.

    The problem is threading the gap between the bus in the right lane and a car in the left lane.

    afaik, lane-splitting in portland is legal.

    Paul also could have waited until the car in the left lane cleared so he could have taken the lane to pass the bus (since he apparently likes to ride fast down E. Hawthorne).

    or the bus and car drivers could have been as considerate as most cyclists usually are and just waited nicely for the cyclist to pass them. as an avid cyclist, i’m sure the bus driver must’ve known how important momentum is when riding one’s bike. it’s just common courtesy to let folks pass. many cyclists i know, and many i don’t, will intentionally ride in the door zone, at their own peril, just to give drivers the opportunity to pass. talk about selflessness — putting yourself in danger just to accommodate total strangers — that’s pretty freaking awesome if you ask me. that’s not the only reason some/many/most bikers ride in the door zone, but it’s certainly one of the reasons.

    Is that so hard?

    anybody can pick on the vulnerable — that’s the easy part. why not pick on the powerful – the car and bus drivers? Is _that_ so hard?

    millions of dollars in additional electronic controls for bikes at intersections

    bus and car drivers speed, drive recklessly, and run lights all the time, and Portland spent millions on all those electronic controls for cars — what’s the use?

    besides, unless those ‘additional electronic controls for bikes’ are going to give cyclists signal priority and a green wave, then the city should put those electronics to better use — for speed cameras, catching red-light-running drivers, etc.

    Have you ever been shaken up by a car door opening up JUST as you pass it

    um, the difference is that i’m not worried about scuffing the molding on some dude’s Prius — i’m worried about breaking my collarbone. besides being a major pita, it can be quite painful.

    That’s the way it is in San Diego.

    that’s the way it is in most of America, and most of the world, and often in Portland, too, I suspect. bus drivers hate getting passed by bikers worse than car drivers do.

    bus drivers have the kind of jobs that just shouldn’t be. those jobs are so horrific that, as a society, we’re basically guaranteeing that they’re going to lash out at some point — probably at the most vulnerable among us — bikers. i’ve no doubt that’s how a few bikers’ lives have ended.

    Splitting the lanes to gain a few seconds to your destination is stupid. And unsafe.

    it’s not just time — it’s the effort.

    buses are ‘worth’ about 4.5 cars — personally, i’d rather have those cars on the road than buses. i’m not alone. the only thing that can kill people and street life more effectively than cars is buses.

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  • Tom_ August 18, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Peter Smith,
    Now that was an excellent point by point rant. Disagree on the last part about buses. I think they should have their own lanes — as in the D.F, Mexico. I also thought that threading lanes was legal in PDX.

    @34: That was me imitating the Toms of the world. This kind of thread is just not complete without someone telling me not to ride where I want to ride.

    @Melia
    Cautious cyclists need to accept the fact that there are cyclists with different skill levels and risk tolerances.

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  • sabernar August 18, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    #33 said, “As we cyclists like to tell drivers, waiting a few seconds for a safe place to pass isn’t going to make a big difference at the end of the journey.”

    So are you one of the 5 Portlanders that stops at all stop signs? I hope so, because every cyclist that blows through a stop sign is doing it in order to save a couple seconds. Portland cyclists try to save a few seconds all the time by disobeying traffic laws.

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  • are August 18, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    i myself personally would not have split the lane. and i don’t idaho red lights when anyone is watching, but certainly would if the coast was clear, not limiting myself to matt’s two scenarios.

    but what i cannot understand is why anyone would ever do anything differently from the way i myself personally would have done it, had i been there.

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  • sabernar August 18, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    I find it amazing that so many posters feel that what Paul Higgins’ disobeying traffic laws was so incredibly wrong, yet they have their own rationalizations for their own breaking of the traffic laws that they choose to disobey. No hand signals? Check. Rolling through a stop sign? Check. Starting to roll through a red light in anticipation of it turning green? Check. But, but, but, what *I* am doing is as bad as *THAT GUY*! People love to throw stones at others because of the degree of their ‘wrong’. It reminds me of people who won’t eat veal or lamb because of the suffering of the baby animal, yet they don’t mind eating meat from adult animals who also suffer greatly. They have it in their mind that certain wrongs are wronger than the wrongs which they choose to overlook.

    I’d wager that most of the people condemning Paul Higgins’ riding also commit traffic violations which they feel are just fine to violate.

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  • Cleaver August 18, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Portlanders should not complain about Paul’s irresponsible, reckless, narcissistic riding style if the payoff for it is Paul’s “fucking statuesque” ass.

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  • gus August 18, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    He may have the ass of a god, but by god he’s an ass.

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  • matthew vilhauer August 18, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    i’m really the last person who should be lobing stones here but gee… some dude acts like an ass, admits as much and surprise??? yep, he gets called out on it. hopefully he is only indicative of a small minority of local cyclists. it’s guys like him that lead to the negative stereotyping of all cyclists.

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  • Mercier 531 August 18, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    I have been commuting by bike for a long time and for many, many miles. I have had my share of close encounters that could have produced death or serious maiming. What I try to do is limit the number of times that death or serious injury could be inflicted upon me. With that mantra in mind, I try to find those routes where I do not have to compete with massive hunks of steel for a share of the road. I have lived 4 blocks from 30th and Hawthorne for 20 years and I can count on one hand the number of times I have ridden on Hawthorne at all (generally early on a weekend morning). With the bike boulevard that calls itself SE Harrison just a few blocks away, PLEASE consider riding there instead of on Hawthorne. PLEASE!

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  • Mike August 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    The dude is a jackass that deserves no respect. Put a mic in front of his face and he would probably tell you the sky is falling. He seems to make up his own rules and falls back on the ” I’m riding a bike” excuse when he runs a stop sign. What in the hell was he passing on the left for? He didn’t deserve a “death threat” but he certainly deserved a throat full of bees!!!!

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  • are August 18, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    re comment 48, i hope you mean what the hell was he splitting lanes for? passing on the left is how it is done.

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  • Jerry_W August 18, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    ^^^^ Ha hahahaha! ^^^^ Best post yet, well done Mike!

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  • sabernar August 18, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    “What are you gonna do? Sick your dogs on me? Or your bees? Or dogs with bees in their mouth so when they bark they shoot bees at me?”

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  • wsbob August 18, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    “… I look forward to the License Plate guy too. ” Alistair #16

    Alistair…myself as well. This interview (with the guy on a bike that moved bus driver Dan Christensen to write his very provocative blog posting) has been one of the most extraordinary and revealing interviews I can recall maus publishing on bikeportland.

    I believe many readers have also been wondering what possible positive rationale the license plate guy has to offer for his ‘Don’t Share The Road’ plate. May his words turn out to be as candid as Paul Higgins’s (the guy on the bike)seem to be.

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  • Max August 18, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Tonight I was riding North on SE 7th in the bike lane with a #4 bus driving some distance ahead of me in the auto lane, when we approached a bus stop.

    The bus put on his signal, veered slightly to the edge of his lane and then stopped with his blinker on. Realizing that he was waiting for me, I moved to the left into the auto lane behind him. He caught my move in his mirror and crossed over the bike lane to service the stop.

    While he was servicing the stop, I passed him and moved back in the bike lane. When he caught up at a light I gave him a wave, he waved back and we both went on our merry way.

    It was a sortof dance where we both took care of each other. He was watching out for me, and I was making it easy for him to do his job.

    I think this is how we’re supposed to work together.

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  • 9watts August 18, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    #35 “riding on Hawthorne when there are more bike-friendly roads within seconds is MUCH more stressful for all parties involved.”

    #47 “PLEASE consider riding there [Harrison] instead of on Hawthorne. PLEASE!”

    Car drivers often volunteer this to me. What is up with this–bikes don’t belong on Hawthorne? It has four lanes, for crying out loud. How, specifically, is my bicycle, or anyone’s bicycle a problem on Hawthorne? The lanes, all four of ‘em, are plenty wide–and Hawthorne Blvd was/is paid for by all of our tax dollars. If anything is the matter with Hawthorne it is that cars and other motorized vehicles sometimes go too fast.
    I do feel bad for the [very wide] buses on Hawthorne, and so I stay out of their way as best as I can. Since they drive about the same speed as a bike that isn’t usually too difficult.

    Three cheers for Peter Smith #39. I look forward to hearing more from him.
    “Drivers are forces of occupation…” An interesting thought.

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  • Mindful Cyclist August 19, 2010 at 1:02 am

    I’ve read through Paul’s statement numerous times now and the only thing I can think of is myself when I was in my early 20′s. I did all kinds of crazy stuff that I could not imagine doing now at age 37.

    Paul seems like the type of guy that personifies the whole “live fast, die young” attitude. But, hey he is going to have a nice ass if life catches up to him.

    My point: This has little to do with being a bicyclist and more to do with someone that thinks he is “bulletproof.” Let’s hope he is being honest and that he is truly a changed guy.

    The only problem is that someone is going to take his place. And all the bike lanes, bike education, and sharrows won’t stop him.

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  • Red Five August 19, 2010 at 5:14 am

    wow a little full of himself?

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  • buglas August 19, 2010 at 6:15 am

    @Max #53 – +1!

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  • patrickz August 19, 2010 at 6:28 am

    Right on, Max (53)!
    It’s what I always try: cooperation smooths the whole trip.

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  • pjt August 19, 2010 at 7:19 am

    I wish we could all be a little kinder and gentler on the road. I saw a woman trying to make one of the sharp turns on ramp down to the Steel Bridge. She was obviously nervous and my coming towards her didn’t help so I slowed down and gave her room. She came almost over into my lane so apologized and I told her it not to worry, it’s a tough corner. I felt good about looking out for a fellow rider and I hope she felt ok about doing what she needed to do to be safe. And it didn’t even make me late for work :-)

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  • Steve August 19, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Some of the comments posted on here about Paul’s style remind me of my grandma getting mad a other cars “driving recklessly” while she is driving 15mph under the speed limit. Don’t listen Paul. There is nothing wrong with passing on the left. People in cars do it to bus’s all the time. Do these drivers get death threats also? No it’s because your on a bike and were being assertive. Who’s really is the arrogant cyclist on the road? You or the people who tell you how to ride at what speed and where, while riding below the speed limit and creating a dangerous situation for all involved? If I’m driving I’ll take you over grandma cyclist.

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  • Greg August 19, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Numerous posts mention that Hawthorne is not wide enough for a bus to travel in its own lane. I contend that busses DO NOT belong on any road that cannot accomodate their size. If they have to cross multiple lanes to make a corner, then stay the heck off that road. If they can’t fit in a single lane, then stay off that road. It’s really that simple. Running vehicles that actually fit on the roads would go a long way towards elminating the anxiety and frustration of the bus drivers.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 19, 2010 at 8:40 am

    I respect Paul for being honest about what happened and about his riding style. Does he ride like I ride? nope. But I think some of you are missing the fact that he has learned a valuable thing from this situation. He clearly now understands that his riding style has a negative impact on others and he plans to change because of that.

    Thanks again Paul for being open with your thoughts and for taking time to be a part of the conversation.

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  • Meek August 19, 2010 at 8:47 am

    I’ve never understood the whole “be big and visible” on a bike thing. I have lights, front and back, wear a bright jacket most of the time, etc. But darting through lights, swerving, being that kind of rider makes no sense. Equal parts confidence and caution seems to work. Meek is better than might, maybe.

    The other issue here is time: if you’re riding a bike, you’re going slower than if you had driven a car, period. Running lights, running stop signs, not slowing when you should–all of these make no sense when riding. You’re shaving seconds, maybe. Good example: near Lloyd Center, on the Max line going east, there’s a light at a three way intersection. Cars stop on the red. Bikers blow through the red because there’s a sidewalk on the right side instead of a through street. They seem to justify blowing through the red because it somehow doesn’t apply to bikers. I stop at the red there, and from behind me, bikers ride up and just keep on going, through the red. WTF?!

    Why ride a bike in this case if you’re in such a hurry? In all honesty, I silently think “Darwin will take care of them; I’ll hang back, go a little more slowly, and arrive safely.”

    I’m not calling for their deaths, but if they bring it upon themselves . . . maybe others will start wearing helmets, slow down, and realize that the rules apply to them. Higgins’ attitude is the kind that makes others look bad.

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  • Meek August 19, 2010 at 8:53 am

    #61

    Jonathan, true. Maybe he’ll change his style, and I appreciate his willingness to contribute to the conversation; but he says this himself:

    “I don’t believe that traffic control devices are responsible for my safety on the road, it is my ability to identify and respond to threats and danger that keep me safe.”

    Also true, but sounds to me like he’ll continue to run reds if it suits him. “I may have blown through a light . . .” nonchalant, no big deal . . .

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  • Kt August 19, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Sabernar: Why, yes, I am one of the people who do stop at stop signs. And use turn signals. And stop at red lights before making that right on red. And stopping at red lights when there are signs telling me I cannot turn on red. And using my mirrors, looking around for other road users, changing lanes carefully– in short, I’m more or less a law abiding citizen.

    And I do all of this whether I’m riding my bike or driving my car.

    About the only thing I’m not so good at is watching my speed, but I’m getting better at it. Practice makes perfect!

    Lane splitting is illegal in the state of Oregon. Look it up.

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  • wsbob August 19, 2010 at 9:19 am

    “… There is nothing wrong with passing on the left. People in cars do it to bus’s all the time. …” Steve #60

    Steve…here’s what Higgins said about passing the bus on its left side:

    “… I increased speed and moved onto the striped white line dividing the two eastbound lanes, passing both the bus and another car in the left lane. …” Paul Higgins

    People are reading that to mean that Higgins passed the bus and the car by riding on the striped white line dividing the two eastbound lanes. In other words, between the two vehicles as they proceeded forward side by side. Cars don’t do this because they absolutely wouldn’t fit in the space available.

    A person on a bike fits, but what happens if the bus or the car, or both at the same time, have to abruptly move towards the line splitting the two lanes?: Higgins Sandwich, chaos on the road while authorities pick up the pieces, document the collision scene, interview witnesses, etc, etc,. Families and friends are distraught and traumatized.

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  • Mike Myers August 19, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Can there be a clarification on how exactly Paul passed? Did he split the lane between the left of the bus and to the right of an Eastbound car, or did he enter the left lane and pass the bus and a car both occupying the right lane? Commenters are understandably interpreting the ambiguous story description in both ways. It’s a pretty key piece of the story.

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  • sabernar August 19, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Kt: yeah, lane splitting is illegal in Oregon, but so is blowing through a stop sign, which I would estimate, 95% of all PDX cyclists do. My point is that everyone is condemning Paul Higgins for riding illegally when MOST cyclists ride illegally. People rationalize THEIR illegal riding while condemning someone else’s. “He who is without sin…” and all that. Maybe the commenters should take a step back and look at how THEY ride and what illegal things THEY do before casting stones at another rider (who, admittedly, now understands that he needs to change his riding style). How many commenters are now going to start stopping at stop signs because of this thread? My approximation: zero.

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  • Brian August 19, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Paul, I like your attitude. I totally hear what you are saying about not trusting traffic equipment to ensure your safety, but please follow the rules of the road. It’s the only way cycling will ever gain the respect it deserves.

    I’m so tired of explaining why bicyclist are always scofflaws.

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  • Max Rockbin August 19, 2010 at 9:51 am

    In addition to reaction time and awareness and self reliance, cyclists also have traffic laws and signals/stop signs protecting them. Of course, if the rider ignores those, then the rider is on his own. Higgins seems to believe traffic lights are just suggestions and it’s only his own safety in the balance, so he can buzz through if he feels safe.

    Of course, the safety of other people on the road is another question. What say do they get in whether they are safe if he buzzes a signal?

    Anyway, it’s strange to ride on Hawthorne at 30th when Harrison is so close. Cyclists don’t seem to feel the need to get big and aggressive on Harrison.

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  • Andy August 19, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Just go ride your bikes already

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  • Alan August 19, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Lane splitting is illegal in the state of Oregon. Look it up.

    ORS Section 814 appears to be the relevant code. “814.400 Application of vehicle laws to bicycles” says bicycles are “(1) subject to the provisions [of] any other vehicle…except: (b) When otherwise specifically provided under the vehicle code.” 814.240 “Motorcycle or moped unlawful passing” specifically provides that motorcycles and mopeds are prohibited from land-splitting but doesn’t mention bicycles or vehicles, so exception (b) applies. IANAL, that’s just my interpretation and maybe there is further case law clarifying it, but that’s how it looks to me.

    I’m not advocating that lane-splitting is wise or cautious or otherwise advisable (I don’t think it is), or that a cop might not try to cite a bicyclist for it, but if it is against the Oregon Revised Statutes, then it’s up to those claiming so to cite the statute or case law.

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  • Paul in the Coouv August 19, 2010 at 10:23 am

    It isn’t clear that this is one of those instances, but….

    Splitting lanes can be a good idea. I split lanes all the time when riding in Manhattan, NY – ask the Bike Snob about it. When the cars are jammed up and going 10mph at most – splitting lanes is how bikes get through.

    And the 3rd and 4th times I feel justified running a red light (also NYC influenced) 3) When mothers with baby carriages are jaywalking in the adjacent crosswalk and 4) when I’m at an intersection with no cars around anywhere.

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  • spare_wheel August 19, 2010 at 10:40 am

    “Maybe the commenters should take a step back and look at how THEY ride and what illegal things THEY do before casting stones at another rider.”

    Amen.

    “People rationalize THEIR illegal riding while condemning someone else’s.”

    See posts 8 and 42.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    I strongly suspect that some of the *scolds* on this thread (and the Hawthorne accident thread) are individuals who spend more time in the drivers seat than on saddle.

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  • 99th Monkey August 19, 2010 at 10:45 am

    My 2-cents worth:
    Related to “left turn from a non-responsive left-turn signal”.
    About a year ago, someone quoted the Oregon law that allowed turning left after waiting one full cycle in a left turn lane with a dedicated signal that did not trigger due to too small a magnetic field of a small vehicle, motorcycle or bicycle, and only if it is safe to do so, (sufficiently clear of any approaching traffic. SUPPOSEDLY it is legal to do so in Oregon, but, after a through search of the ORS site I find no such exemption. Does anyone know of such an exemption?

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  • Philistine August 19, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Sorry but this guy has White Bike Fever. Didn’t a bike just end up under a bus, much like this reprobate almost accomplished? What is wrong with you people? You have memories like gnats.

    He’s nothing but a child making “eloquent”* excuses for his lame behavior. I can only hope he doesn’t hurt anyone else next time he splits lanes, flirts with busses, and rides like a douchebag to make a point.

    Here’s a clue dude: your point fades faster than the Dollar Tree flowers on your white bike shrine.

    *The responses were clearly written with plenty of time for flowery words to dazzle his fans into believing his BS. Not really much of an “interview”.

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  • Alexis August 19, 2010 at 11:00 am

    This interview reminds me of a story a friend told me, when I lived in CA, about going on a bike ride with another member of our advocacy group through a well-known cyclists’ haunt on the SF Peninsula, and hearing all his stories about how this place was terribly dangerous and the drivers were awful, and he had had all these close calls.

    This was very different from her (and my) experience in the same locations, and she said after a while she began to wonder whether the common factor in the stories might be, not the place and the drivers, but the person on the bike.

    I have the same reaction to this story. There are ways you can act on the road that increase your likelihood of running into problems, and those ways include running lights (and stop signs), moving at high speed, and passing in marginal circumstances.

    I am by no means immune to these behaviors; I wouldn’t rate my riding as being all that great by the standards of avoiding risky behavior. But I definitely notice the connection between my level of aggressive destination-seeking and the number of problems I run into, and am trying to modulate my behavior so that I can move in harmony with surrounding traffic, constantly alert to changing conditions and responding to them in ways that increase my likelihood of being in one piece when I arrive at my destination.

    Maybe Paul is starting to figure out this connection, too. I hope so, because while it’s admirable not to rely on traffic devices or anyone else on the road to keep you safe, it’s a little arrogant to think that your own moment-to-moment judgment when you’re in a hurry is really doing a better job.

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  • WOBG August 19, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Paul, I’m just echoing others to help achieve “critical mass.” You said it’s tough figuring out what’s your fault, so here it is:

    You split lanes instead of taking a lane. Don’t do that. Ever.

    You may not have signaled when you moved back to the right lane. Do that from now on, as long as it’s safe to take a hand off the bar.

    You may have blown a light. Don’t do that, except under the rare circumstances others have cited above.

    Now go in peace, and sin no more.

    —30-year bike commuter, still fast, still intact

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  • Tom Bennett August 19, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I am Paul’s step-father. I am so proud of him for his candid feedback and self introspection in this article. He was arrogant and careless, and it takes balls to admit wrongdoing. Too bad I haven’t seen the same from the murderous, threatening Tri-Met driver who publicly, luridly described how he wanted to kill him. He’s talking about MY FAMILY. It’s not art to write that way, its violence. Dan, I challenge you to be as big a man about it. I bet you can’t.

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  • WOBG August 19, 2010 at 11:33 am

    @Alexis: Mostly agreed, but “moving at high speed” is not necessarily a problem; rather, it’s moving at a speed too high for the moment-to-moment conditions.

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  • Mike Myers August 19, 2010 at 11:33 am

    No really. The account can be read both ways. It is NOT clear if he split the lane or took the lane, and most of the commenters are casting judgement based on assuming he split the lane- which the account does NOT specifically state he did.
    There’s a lot of conclusion jumping happening here, and I’d appreciate a clarification on the truth of the matter.
    It might be a dangling participle, but I’m no english major.

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  • Andrew August 19, 2010 at 11:38 am

    “I may have blown through a light. (I always at least slow down and look and listen. I don’t believe that traffic control devices are responsible for my safety on the road, it is my ability to identify and respond to threats and danger that keep me safe”

    A)If all cars relied on this mentality the streets would be chaotic. The lights are put there for a reason and no matter if you are a car OR A BIKE, you need to follow them.
    B)Because when you don’t follow them you give other bikers a bad name. If any biker wonders why there are people that hate bikers it is because of people that do stuff like: running red lights, not obeying signs, and anything else like that. Bikers want to be treated like a car yet don’t want to act like one.

    I don’t agree with what the bus driver did but I don’t agree with what the biker did either.

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  • WOBG August 19, 2010 at 11:41 am

    @Mike: This is kinda like the answer to one of those SAT questions, but here goes: Jonathan quotes Paul as saying that the bus was in front of him, that he “moved onto the striped white line dividing the two eastbound lanes,” and that “once clear of the bus,” he moved right.

    I know there’s that grammatically ambiguous part about “another car in the left lane,” but it’s pretty evident that if Paul was behind the bus, passed the bus, and moved right once clear of the bus, then that other car must have been *occupying* the left lane and that Paul passed both bus and car by way of a lane-split.

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  • Kt August 19, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Sabernar #68, I absolutely agree with you here.

    Mike #81: Paul states that he moved onto the white striped line between lanes, passing both the bus (in the right lane) and a car in the left lane. That’s passing two vehicles, maybe side-by-side (isn’t clear), on the stripe aka lane splitting.

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  • WOBG August 19, 2010 at 11:46 am

    @Paul in the Couv: Please ride that way only when you’re visiting Manhattan.

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  • El Biciclero August 19, 2010 at 11:49 am

    sabernar–

    “They have it in their mind that certain wrongs are wronger than the wrongs which they choose to overlook.”

    Keen observation.

    “…dogs with bees in their mouth so when they bark they shoot bees at me?”

    I don’t know why I find this so funny, but I do. Sometimes I would love to own a barking, bee-shooting dog. With big teeth, too.

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  • Roma August 19, 2010 at 11:55 am

    “…dogs with bees in their mouth so when they bark they shoot bees at me?”

    I appreciate the old school Simpsons reference.

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  • Mike Myers August 19, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Kt: Thanks, I see your point.
    But it could still be clearer. He moved right once clear to not impede traffic in the left lane, implying that he was, in fact, in the left lane. The lack of punctuation between “other car”, “bus”, and “on the left” can read that he passed the car while he himself was on the left, or that he passed the car that was on the left of him.
    Regardless of what happened, if he split the lane while traffic was moving, that’s pretty risky, and unexpected to other drivers. If he just passed on the left with an open lane, more power to him. Ultimately, Higgins is pondering his actions, and we, hopefully, are considering ours in light of this incident and ensuing discussion, and maybe we’ll all get around more cordially and responsibly in the future.

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  • sabernar August 19, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I see cyclists split cars at red lights all the time so they can get to the front of the line. Can I assume that this, too, is illegal?

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  • WOBG August 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    @sabernar: Seems to me there’s no excuse for it *if the lanes the cyclist is splitting can both go straight*. However, seems to me it’s justifiable (but legal? dunno) if the rightmost lane is right-turn only, and the cyclist intends to go straight.

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  • Alan August 19, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    So far no one has shown an Oregon law against bicycles splitting lanes. Unless there is a law against it, it is legal.

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  • WOBG August 19, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    @Alan: You’re right that it’s what sabernar asked—but “legal” ain’t the be-all, end-all. An analogy (and nothing more): Much of the despicable stuff that BP and others have done may be “legal,” but we rightly despise it just the same.

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  • Alan August 19, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    WOBG: See #72.

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  • WOBG August 19, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    @Alan: Cool, my bad.

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  • ADJPDX August 19, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Regardless of legality, splitting lanes is dangerous and a bad idea, and Paul wasn’t doing anyone any favors riding in a cavalier manner.

    But what of the bus driver making death threats, calling it creative writing or catharsis or some such self-serving excuse, and TriMet writing it off to first amendment rights and letting Christensen back on the job a week after the incident?

    Yes, careless cycling is bad for everyone on the road, but how is a public employee threatening vigilante justice against an individual acceptable?

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  • Alan August 19, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    I can’t help but compare the responses between this and the other recent incident on Hawthorne, 20 blocks apart. Both cyclists engaged in legal but risky activity. One action ended in a serious collision (fortunately no serious injury). The other ended safely. One cyclist identified himself only as “bug on window” and made snarky comments about continuing his riding style. Paul Higgins stepped forward, apologized and said he’ll reconsider how he rides. Which one gets more sympathy? More criticism? More support from other commenters? Interesting.

    #88: …maybe we’ll all get around more cordially and responsibly in the future.

    Is there oxygen along the bike route to your planet? ;-)

    WOBG: NP!

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  • Pete August 19, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Alan (#91): exactly the reason I keep reading this thread! I (maybe mistakenly) remember learning in Ray Thomas’ class that lane splitting is illegal, yet couldn’t find explicit reference in 2009 ORS 811 or 814. I moved to California last year and asked the same question on bikesiliconvalley.org (not knowing where to find CA bike-related laws online) and nearly a year later there’s no answer. It’s very common practice at stop lights here in the bay area (I do it daily), and legal for motorcycles to split lanes through moving traffic (unlike in Oregon).

    Can anyone point me to a law (in either state)? Haven’t had a chance to peruse online or through Pedal Power 7th Edition (see web link) yet…

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  • jeff August 19, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    A bicycle, by law in Oregon, is considered a vehicle. Vehicles are not allowed to split lanes in this state (only in CA.).

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  • middle of the road guy August 19, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    pinhead with an over aggrandized sense of entitlement.

    “I passed him on an unexpected side, out of a blind spot, in a maneuver that many would deem unsafe.” So if people would deem it unsafe, why do it?

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  • dan August 19, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    @Alan, 95.

    I see a distinct difference between these two events. Paul implicitly demanded that motorists take special/unusual measures to avoid him. Bug on Window simply assumed that motorists would perform their duties capably. (Granted, that assumption was incorrect in this case.)

    To me, it appears that Paul went out of his way to court danger, Bug on Window was unlucky. Hence, I’m more critical of Paul.

    I think you’re ignoring critical differences between these incidents in order to make a point, though I’m not quite sure what that point is.

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  • WOBG August 19, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    @sabernar #41: Nah, I doubt riders blow stop signs to save time; I think it’s because it seems like a drag to lose momentum and start from scratch.

    Guess I can almost tolerate that weak shtuff from slow noobs—but for fit, studly riders, it’s a built-in chance to do intervals and get even fitter. *Real* tough guys are up for at least a Cali rolling stop or a trendy trackstand (yes, you can do it even without a fixed gear; just point your front wheel up the crown of the road)—and then accelerating away like a human dragster, conditions permitting.

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  • Lisa G. August 19, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Paul sounds like an ex-New York City bike messenger. I’ve found that Portland drivers are, for the most part, pretty laid back so you really have to do something from the offensive school of bike riding to scare them into anger.
    Running red lights are definitely in the offensive category, and after the bus incident on Downtown Broadway I don’t know anyone in their right mind who would pass a moving bus on a bike and then cut back in front of it. Buses are huge and they can’t stop on a dime. I’ve occasionally biked around buses stopped at bus stops only very carefully and as long as I can see what’s on the other side, and knowing that my rear-view mirror will give me the heads-up once I’ve passed, but that’s as close as I’ll get to a bus.

    That said, I think Christensen went way over the top by posting it on his blog.

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  • WOBG August 19, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    @Lisa G: It’s hard to believe, but it’s true that some riders are fast enough that a bus in motion can be a relatively slow-moving vehicle, depending on conditions.

    But the way to pass is just like in a motor vehicle: Signal, change (not split) lanes, keep accelerating and get a good gap on the bus, signal, change back to your original lane *and keep moving at ambient traffic speed*.

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  • Peter Smith August 19, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Buses are huge and they can’t stop on a dime.

    Everything is relative. The best vehicles for stopping distance, relative to speed, are probably:
    1) human bodies
    2) cars (front-wheel drive)
    3) cars (other drive)
    4) buses
    5) motorcycles
    6) trucks/pickup trucks/other trucks
    7) bicycles (no ABS)
    8) airplanes.
    9) **trains.

    Something like that. (I really have no idea about ABS bicycles.) And i realize it’s a stretch to say that humans (walkers/joggers/etc.) could stop more quickly (i.e. in a shorter stopping distance) than a car, but we’ll roll with it. Trains are a special case because, though they remain extremely dangerous in certain situations because the human race is either unable or unwilling to create a train braking system that actually works, they (trains) also run on fixed routes, which greatly increases their safety (actual and subjective).

    As an occasional and even recent bus rider, i can attest to the fact that buses can, if not stop on a dime, can certainly stop on a quarter – maybe even a nickel.

    and they do. often. suddenly. quickly. it’s amazing how quickly they stop. usually because cars and trucks are jetting out in front of them, cutting them off, or drivers are wildly swinging the doors open from their parked cars, etc.

    The difference between drivers and bikers, however — as I’ve already alluded to — is that bus drivers rarely if ever catch drivers, and even if they could, what would they do — try to yell at said driver when the driver is busy rockin out to their blaring stereo, lost in a fit of Lady Gaga and climate-controlled awesomeness? Doubtful.

    Bikers, on the other hand, can sometimes be caught by those incorrigible buses, and are often made to feel the wrath of the incorrigible drivers of those incorrigible buses.

    So, yes, probably correct that buses ‘cannot stop on a dime’ — but that’s true for many vehicles. The keys, then, are to:
    1) drive a vehicle which is not inherently homicidal – like the human body, a bicycle, skateboard, or pogo stick, and
    2) drive that vehicle at a reasonable speed – and if you’re unsure what ‘reasonable’ means, then substitute in the words ‘very slow’ and you’ll probably be good to go. generally speaking, the more homicidal the vehicle is that you are piloting, the exponentially slower (and more cautiously!) you should pilot said vehicle.

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  • Steve August 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    WOBG. Are you condoning this drivers’ attitude because Paul allegedly wasn’t far enough over to the left of the bus? How far is far enough? Center of the lane? I seriously doubt this Trimet driver was pissed because of two feet. No, most likely he didn’t like the fact that he was overtaken by a hipster cyclist… Guess what, that’s too bad. It was in Paul right, regardless if most of the purported cyclist on this thread think he should, to pass a slower moving vehicle.

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  • WOBG August 19, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Steve: The way I read Jonathan’s quotes from Paul is that Paul was riding the dashed line, with the bus to his right and a car to his left—that is, taking a lane where no lane exists (aka splitting lanes). Check my (numerous, sorry) other comments above for more context.

    Such lane-splitting is likely *not* within Paul’s right—and is boneheaded, regardless.

    But in any case, no, not condoning the bus driver’s anything. Just admonishing and forgiving Paul, FWIW.

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  • Steve August 19, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    WOBG, A Trimet bus is too wide for a single lane on that part of Hawthorne. So regardless if Paul though he was white lineing it, he was not.

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  • cyclist August 19, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Steve #105:

    The bus was in front of me and was just beginning to accelerate after the light turned green. I was going significantly faster and decided I could pass the bus without impeding traffic. I increased speed and moved onto the striped white line dividing the two eastbound lanes, passing both the bus and another car in the left lane.

    The bus in the right lane and the car in the left lane were stopped at the light, the light changed just as he got to it and shot the gap between the bus and the car. If he wanted to pass the bus he should have gotten in the left lane, behind the car that was next to the bus, and passed it that way. He doesn’t have to be in the very center of the lane, but he shouldn’t be between the bus and the car.

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  • spare_wheel August 19, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    “I don’t know anyone in their right mind”

    Lisa G.,
    Like many cautious and/or newbie cyclists you are judgmentally projecting your fears on other cyclists. Passing a bus at 25 mph on a bicycle is no more dangerous than passing at 25 mph on a motorcycle.

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  • malka August 19, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    I was glad to read that this cyclist owned up to some measure of responsibility for what happened. I don’t care how fast you’re cycling, or how slow a TriMet bus is moving, passing a vehicle on the right is extremely dangerous–which is why it’s discouraged even when you’re driving. We have enough motorists who look at cyclists as an incredible nuisance. We don’t need cyclists riding in a way that increases their animosity.

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  • Bob_M August 19, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    On my ride home this evening I stopped at the New Season’s Market at Division and 5 corners.

    A white male cyclist riding east bound on Division in the west bound lanes cut through the slow moving eastbound middle lane and through the faster moving right lane right in front of a car. The car gave a short toot of the horn and the cyclist went balistic….. swearing, flipping the bird and agressivly challenging the driver.

    We may never get respect from other road users because Asshats like that guy are everywhere.

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  • Peter Smith August 19, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    The car gave a short toot of the horn

    i can’t a situation where blowing a car horn at a cyclist or pedestrian is an appropriate or decent thing to do. can you?

    if a car needs to slow down, then slow down. most times drivers are using their horns as a form of intimidation, to get walkers or bikers to scurry out of the way like cockroaches — that’s not right — it’s gotta end.

    some guy honked at me the other day for jaywalking and slowing him down…right after he’d busted an illegal U-turn. i followed him and we had a little chat (“Is there a problem?…etc…Donchu ever blow your horn at a pedestrian or cyclist again.”), until he suddenly forgot how to speak English and then sped off. (Most drivers are cowards, too self-absorbed to recognize their own illegal and dangerous behavior, and too insecure to apologize — but you already knew that.)

    the driver in my case, as well as in the situation you describe above, was apparently under the impression that blowing your horn at someone not in a car is acceptable, civilized behavior.

    NEWSFLASH: It is not.

    It never was, and it never will be.

    Our cities and towns are not a playground for suburbanites to drive into and act like a bunch of animals, driving in and getting all liquored up, trashing the place, terrorizing pedestrians and cyclists, and then driving back out to the suburbs — we live here, and nobody’s gonna disrespect our hood. If you come into our cities and towns, then you’d better be prepared to act civilized, or else you won’t be invited back.

    It is debatable whether the current in-car-nation (funny word) of car horns could ever be considered civilized — i would say ‘no’. the history of the horn is long, and it wasn’t always the case that car horns were so dastardly.

    whether car horns go the way of the dodo before cars remains to be seen. these are extinctions i will celebrate.

    all hail the jaywalkers of SF’s Tenderloin districtdoing God’s work — never feared or moved out of the way more quickly for some dummy in a car, speeding down the one-way highways, blaring his or her horn, making a spectacle of himself/herself in front of the world. solidarity with you, brothers and sisters of the Tenderloin, the original livable streets advocates of San Francisco!

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  • wsbob August 19, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    “i can’t a situation where blowing a car horn at a cyclist or pedestrian is an appropriate or decent thing to do. can you? …” Peter Smith #112

    Sure. For example, the one Bob_M described in his comment #111. Your comment seems to suggest you read Bob’s example, but maybe you didn’t.

    To be street legal, motor vehicles are required to have horns as a safety measure, so as to allow motor vehicle operators an audible means to alert other road users to the presence of their vehicle; used when there’s reason to believe that other road users somehow may not otherwise be aware of the motor vehicle whose operator is prompted to use the horn.

    People also use motor vehicle horns to express disapproval of other road users behavior on the road. Sometimes that use is probably acceptable, sometimes not. The driver Bob_M describes as giving “…a short toot of the horn…” sounds acceptable to me, given the description of the guy on the bike’s use of the road, and acknowledgment of other road users on the road.

    Some motor vehicle operators do use their horn as a source of intimidation, though, from my personal experience walking and biking, I wouldn’t say it’s most of them that do. My experience has been that most use the horn to say ‘Just letting you know I’m here’. That’s partly because I have the choice, and take it…to not ride in traffic situations that are likely to have a lot of tense road users present.

    I figure the guy on the bike Bob_M describes, was due much more than the short toot of the horn he got. The motor vehicle operator probably didn’t lay on the horn in a long blare, out of consideration for nearby road users.

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  • Bob_M August 20, 2010 at 6:33 am

    Peter #112
    I can imagine when using the horn is appropriate. I described it in post 111.

    In an unsupportable generalization you claim that most drivers are cowards. From that point of view you, and the rider I described seem to justify their being bullys.

    This thread was begun to allow an erratic rider, who almost cost a bus driver his job, to explain his position. I chimed in to post that I saw an illegal and erratic rider who was being the worst kind of ambassador for cycling. Here in Portland we have to share the road with motorists and all of our safety is improved if drivers don’t hate (fear, resent) cyclists. The best movement of transportation is accomplished by us all getting along. To me that is what cycling is, transportation.

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  • sabernar August 20, 2010 at 8:00 am

    #114: The only person who almost cost the bus driver his job was the bus driver. The cyclist had nothing to do with writing that blog post.

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  • spare_wheel August 20, 2010 at 8:08 am

    “who almost cost a bus driver his job”

    Christensen almost lost his job because he incited murder in a public forum. IMO, Christensen should have had some jail time and court-ordered counseling.

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  • Bob_M August 20, 2010 at 8:23 am

    Gentlemen, you are correct, Christensen over reacted to the cyclists and stepped deep into it.

    I should have written that the cyclist with his erratic and potentially dangerous riding so upset a bus driver that his blog post nearly cost him his job.

    We are in a fine fettle where cyclists and drivers are all teetering on the brink of violence.

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  • Meek August 20, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Peter, Peter.

    Let’s say you’ve crashed on your bike and are down in the street. You need an ambulance. En route. But wait, there’s a jaywalker in the way and is standing in solidarity with his brothers, unafraid to block said ambulance. Should the ambulance honk? use a siren? Downright uncivilized. You’re OK with waiting for your Brothers in Jay to make their point, right?

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  • Max Rockbin August 20, 2010 at 8:40 am

    This is the first discussion I recall reading on this blog that didn’t overwhelmingly condemn the driver and canonize the cyclist.

    I think that’s because in this case the cyclist was very honest about his mindset. Thank You for that.

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  • sabernar August 20, 2010 at 9:36 am

    I rode into work this morning. I stopped at a red light. 5 cyclists approached me from behind. Every single one blew through the red light. Every. Single. One. Do NOT pretend that blowing through red lights is an isolated incident; it’s endemic in the Portland cyclist community. The cyclists ranged from roadies to a woman riding an old, squeaky cruiser who was riding pretty slowly. None of them even slowed down. Maybe one of them paused their peddling for a split second.

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  • Philistine August 20, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Hey, Spare,

    You say “Christensen should have had some jail time”

    Just what law was broken? Please cite, and while you are at it, please give us the jail term most appropriate.

    I see someone else just noticed that the PTB have us at each other’s throats constantly, where they want us so they can keep buggering 17 yo boys in city hall bathrooms, and spilling oil all over the oceans, for instance.

    But here Spare, is where you make their job so much easier. You’ve elected to judge, convict, and sentence a man for speaking his mind. Just like a good tyranny, you know, the kind that polices itself. We don’t need no bars or chains, we have people like you to contend with.

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  • Perry August 20, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Hey! Higgins has now been dissed by The Bike Snob. Congratulations, your 15 minutes are now expired.

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  • Dan August 20, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Hey sabemar,

    Every. Single. One. Of. Them. …undoubtedly wondered just what the heck you were waiting for at that light anyway.

    There are all different ways of riding bike. Don’t pretend that bicycles are cars (vroom, vroom! :-)

    Hey Paul,

    Your interview came out really good – really, really good.

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  • wsbob August 20, 2010 at 10:51 am

    “I rode into work this morning. I stopped at a red light. 5 cyclists approached me from behind. Every single one blew through the red light. Every. Single. One. …” sabernar #120

    That’s $1250.00 (about $250.00 each) that those particular cyclists perhaps need to be paying to help them understand the need to not blow red lights. Most people are bright enough not to require that kind of measure to get the point across, but maybe these five weren’t.

    If it were me, I’d be letting the police know, in case other people are objecting to what’s going on there similar to yourself. Get the police out there for a few hours to issue some citations.

    On a different thread here on bikeportland, a person commenting made what seemed to me to be a fair distinction between ‘blowing’ a stop sign and ‘rolling’ a stop sign, as in a California or Idaho stop. This person suggested that ‘blowing’ a stop sign implies that a road user doesn’t even break pace to a walking speed as they travel past the sign.

    While quite a number of people seem to feel rolling stops are a forgivable interpretation of the ‘stop means stop’ law, in some situations with stop signs, much fewer seem to say the same in regards to stop lights.

    sabernar, not that it has a particular bearing on the situation; but for the record, were you driving or riding, when the five people on bikes blew past you and through the red light?

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  • cyclist August 20, 2010 at 11:09 am

    wsbob #124: he said “I rode into work this morning” so I imagine that means he was on a bike.

    I agree there is a distinction between a rolling stop and blowing a stop sign, though I think “rolling” is up to interpretation. I personally think that if you slow down to a couple of miles an hour (1-2mph) then it’s not a problem, the same goes for cars. Most cops will ignore anyone who comes to a near-stop, though there are assholes and cops that are short of their end-of-the-month quota, so you can’t really count on it.

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  • Dan August 20, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Hey malka,

    So “we don’t need cyclists riding in a way that increases their animosity”? Guess what: Cagers aren’t going to like us on “their” roads anyway. You go ahead and toe their line every minute of your life trying to appease them if that’s what floats your boat, but don’t blame my riding for their animosity toward you. Just how reasonable can they be if they dislike you because of what I do? Answer: It’s not what I do; it’s our mere existence.

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  • sabernar August 20, 2010 at 11:13 am

    wsbob: I was riding my bike. In the bike lane. I stopped at the red light, put my foot down, then the 5 cyclists blew through. Blew. Not rolling stop. Blew. A red light is a red light. Is there a phone number (or email address) to call to request that the police take a look at the situation?

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  • Whitneycyclist August 20, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Rolling stops are not a “forgivable” interpretation in Idaho. It’s the law!

    http://www.oregoncycling.org/2008/12/history-of-idahos-stop-sign-law/

    So, can everyone just cool it with the holy attitude? On a bike I can see and hear far more than the tinted-window-encased, Lady-Gaga-listening, Frappacino-drinking, texting drivers around me. Blowing through a red light ain’t a big deal, so stop being so goshdarn sanctimonious about it people!

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  • Dan August 20, 2010 at 11:45 am

    “A red light is a red light”? What is that even supposed to mean? What mayhem occurred as a result of those riders blowing the stop? I mean, aside from sabemar’s apparent indignation and intent to report “the situation” to the authorities.

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  • Peter Smith August 20, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Sure. For example, the one Bob_M described in his comment #111.

    It was a rhetorical question. Obviously, we disagree on whether using one’s car horn is ever valid.

    To be street legal, motor vehicles are required to have horns as a safety measure, so as to allow motor vehicle operators an audible means to alert other road users to the presence of their vehicle;

    To be ‘street legal’, lots of buildings have to have parking spaces — the reasons given for these legal requirements are varied and about as specious as the ‘safety’ reason given mandating car horns — and in both cases, they are bad ideas — car parking spaces and car horns — we shouldn’t tolerate them anymore. The world would be a much more pleasant and safe place without cars and without car horns. So, yes, to be explicit — removing all horns from cars would make the world a much safer place.

    so as to allow motor vehicle operators an audible means to alert other road users to the presence of their vehicle; used when there’s reason to believe that other road users somehow may not otherwise be aware of the motor vehicle whose operator is prompted to use the horn.

    just to explicitly take on one absurd explanation for the requirement of car horns — i understand that drivers may want to thrill themselves with honking at each other while cruising down the road, but it’s not something we should encourage or condone. as for whether Car Driver A knows Car Drive B ‘is there’ or not, or whether Cyclist A or Pedestrian B ‘is there’ or not, God has made an accommodation for an activity called ‘seeing’ — s/he did this by placing these things called ‘eyes’ in our heads. the absurdity of the argument for car horns is that it was never about ‘safety’ — it was about never having to apply the car’s brakes — the horn took the place of the brake — instead of slowing down and/or taking evasive action, you could now just blare your horn at some numbskull in the other car, or the evil pedestrian or cyclist who dared to venture out into the road. pedestrians and cyclists almost never carry horns, and even then never carry air horns — the closest equivalent to a car horn. they rely on their vocal chords, hand gestures, their legs, etc. — drivers should be bound by the same rules of civility. and _even if_ you could make a case that cars should have horn so they could honk over the stereo of another driver’s blaring stereo, you would _still_ fail to prove that this psychological toxic is something that non-car users should be assaulted with randomly — no, this is not an externality we’re willing to abide.

    In an unsupportable generalization you claim that most drivers are cowards.

    my bad — I should have been more exacting and said something like ‘most car drivers who bully are cowards.’ from the couple of dozen incidents i’ve had with bullying motorists, this seems to be the case – as soon as they lose the protection of their car, they go all weak in the knees. in contrast, i’ve had incidents with pedestrians who have yelled at me for running red lights on my bike, and i can’t really remember them backing down from the confrontation. they’re all ready to go. granted, they were mostly/all older white guys, so i’m not sure how much of their bravado is a lack of cowardice instead of a sense of entitlement. old white guys, man — they destroyed the world and now they don’t want cyclists to run red lights. perfect.

    Here in Portland we have to share the road with motorists and all of our safety is improved if drivers don’t hate (fear, resent) cyclists.

    I’m done trying to empathize with the defeatest and submissive mindset that cyclists should appeal to the Car Gods for forgiveness — I don’t won’t to understand the mindset that could witness the daily horror of cars and their drivers (like the recent drunk driving rundown and killing of a German tourist on a bike here in SF), and somehow turn the argument into one of false equivalence — ‘neither drivers nor bikers are perfect human beings, so their wrongs cancel out’. I believe it’s morally indefensible, but it’s also bad politics — unless you really like cars.

    Portland, San Francisco, and every place will benefit when drivers fear endangering cyclists, and fear the public backlash should they choose to do it anyways. Neither Portland nor SF are there yet, but we’re slowly moving in the right direction. The world will be a better place when drivers hate and resent the fact that they have to drive instead of get around on their bikes.

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  • wsbob August 20, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    “wsbob #124: he said “I rode into work this morning” so I imagine that means he was on a bike. …” cyclist #125

    cyclist…thanks! Seems I blew through sabernar’s mention that he was riding. I try to pay close attention to what I’m reading, but sometimes miss the obvious.

    sabernar, here’s a link to PPB’s main page…

    Portland Police Bureau/City of Portland Oregon

    …but you might do better to start with the Traffic Division. Let them advise you about how you might best proceed;

    4735 E Burnside
    Portland, Oregon 97215
    503-823-2103
    503-823-2220 fax

    I would have said, ‘ask for officer Robert Pickett (occasionally comments to bikeportland as ‘PoPo’, but at the moment, I’m kind of guessing he may no longer be in a bike specific position with the dept.).

    PPD Traffic Division

    You might also consider visiting the neighborhood association for the area in which what you observed took place, and telling them about your experience. If what you describe is happening regularly there, the neighborhood association may be getting other reports about it, some from the neighbors themselves. That could help substantiate your account as more than an isolated example, if that is the situation.

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  • dan August 20, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    @ Peter Smith, #130.

    You’re in San Francisco? In that case, your opinions about the fine points of traffic/cycling etiquette here in Portland are worth bubkes. Can’t you find a local forum in which to talk tough?

    Did you know that Critical Mass withered away in Portland because the cycling community decided that dumb and confrontational wasn’t serving our ends? Perhaps you could learn something from this.

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  • wsbob August 20, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    “… On a bike I can see and hear far more than the tinted-window-encased, Lady-Gaga-listening, Frappacino-drinking, texting drivers around me. Blowing through a red light ain’t a big deal, …” Whitneycyclist #128

    That’s funny !…but many of the drivers on the road wouldn’t meet that description…probably most of them. (Personally, I pretty much dislike fraps, so I stay away from them entirely. Had my first one in years, last week, and that was because it didn’t cost me anything. Seen and read about the ga-ga person, but wouldn’t know the voice. Don’t have any texting device.).

    Stop lights compared to stop signs, generally imply a significantly greater need for safety precaution, where such traffic control devices are used. One thing that points to the fact of this, is that they cost a lot more money to install than a simple stop sign on a post in the ground does. The expense of installing a stop sign is justified if the danger associated with the intersections they’re sited is such that a stop sign would not do an adequate job.

    You say you don’t think blowing red lights is a big deal. Doing that is a big deal. For some people it can develop into a bad, dangerous habit, that sets a poor example for other road users, especially novices, and also, raises tension amongst other road users.

    “… To be ‘street legal’, lots of buildings have to have parking spaces — the reasons given for these legal requirements are varied and about as specious as the ‘safety’ reason given mandating car horns — and in both cases, they are bad ideas — car parking spaces and car horns — we shouldn’t tolerate them anymore. The world would be a much more pleasant and safe place without cars and without car horns. So, yes, to be explicit — removing all horns from cars would make the world a much safer place. …” Peter Smith #130

    Oh my. Peter, that is some extraordinary reasoning you’ve put on display there.

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  • wsbob August 20, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Correction:

    “That’s funny !…but many of the drivers on the road wouldn’t meet that description…probably most of them wouldn’t.

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  • spare_wheel August 20, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    @Philistine
    I think a reasonable case could have been made for misdemeanor harassment. As for the length of incarceration — a few days would likely teach that punk bus operator a valuable lesson.

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  • Peter Smith August 20, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    You’re in San Francisco? In that case, your opinions about the fine points of traffic/cycling etiquette here in Portland are worth bubkes. Can’t you find a local forum in which to talk tough?

    Actually, I’m in San Jose at the moment. Lovely place — you should check it out sometime.

    My bike/livability opinions are as valid in Portland as they are in San Francisco, San Jose, or any other city or town on this planet. If you’ve ever biked outside of Portland, you’d know that biking in an auto-centric society is a universal experience. Try it sometime.

    Don’t make fun of me from being from San Francisco and I won’t make fun of you for being from Mars — deal? :-D

    And I can and do comment on my local forums, remote forums, you name it — just google for my name — I’m plastered all over the comments sections of bike/walk/city blogs around the world — really — including and especially SF blogs. If I feel like I have something intelligent to say, I say it. If this blog — whether its owner or some set/preponderance/majority/minority/otherwise of its readership wanted me to pipe down, I would seriously consider it.

    I don’t roll like that, personally — you know, I value other folks’ opinions, especially when they’re different than mine, and double-especially when they’re thoughtful and based on sound reasoning/evidence/etc. If you want to challenge any of my assertions, feel free — you will, like most others, be shown to be wrong either immediately or in due time. I’ve been wrong before – a lot actually – but that still accounts for only 2% of the comments I’ve ever made. That’s a pretty good record, in my opinion.

    Did you know that Critical Mass withered away in Portland because the cycling community decided that dumb and confrontational wasn’t serving our ends?

    I think you’re wrong about the reasons CM withered away — it probably had everything to do with increasing cycling infrastructure, physical and otherwise. I suspect we could plot CM participation against either/both cycling infrastructure and/or cycling mode share and see the inverse relationship very clearly. In fact, I’m confident enough to put money on it. We’d have to take the smooth average, of course, but the inverse relationship would be clear. I suspect this relationship has and will continue to hold true for every city in the world, and we’ll probably see the same thing happen in SF over the next few years. There could be some crazy flip in culture where it does _not_ happen in SF — those things happen — especially given SF’s place in CM history — but they’ll/we’ll probably do as most other cities in the world have done — CM will essentially cease to exist as we now know it.

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  • Michael M. August 20, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    @dan #123: “There are all different ways of riding bike.”

    No, really, there are only two: lawfully or unlawfully. We all make our choice every day. Any other “interpretations” are just rationalizations, usually for dangerous, selfish behavior.

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  • Dan August 20, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Hey michael m.,

    You’ve got to me kidding, right? Only two?

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  • Mike August 20, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Peter, if my car horn spewed forth bees would that be ok?

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  • Aaron August 20, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    @peter smith #136: If you want to challenge any of my assertions, feel free — you will, like most others, be shown to be wrong either immediately or in due time.

    Wow.

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  • Philistine August 20, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Cagers aren’t going to like us on “their” roads anyway. -#126

    Um, are you like roomates with this freak Paul?

    Man, if this is your world view, please keep your hate to yourself.

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  • Bob_M August 20, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Peter Smith

    There is a broad difference being defeatist and submissive and not wanting to be at war with other road users. Cars exist. Drivers live in the world as it is. Most are just folk who want to go along and get along. Cyclists are just folks too. Even bus drivers. To rant about the inherent evils of people who use one mode of travel over another is unfounded. You could say being in a steel can locked in traffic makes them crazy, but you could say something similar about aggressive cyclists zipping through traffic like a wannabe NY bike messenger, all jacked up on adrenaline and eager to confront house wives on their way home from work. It makes them crazy. Justifying aggressive and confrontational behavior on the road with the intention of making the other mode users fear cyclists would not end well.

    No one said that there is moral equivalence between running down a German tourist with a car and startling a commuter. What I was trying to communicate is that cycling asses who take pride in their riding like asses and who could not give a damn about how they fit into the mosaic of society are wrong in their thought and behavior. Lord knows that car drivers are wrong and dangerous a lot of the time, but to look at a reverse image of your moral equivalence comment: just because drivers can be asses doesn’t grant cyclists that license.

    On the evaporation of Critical Mass: There were other organizations that worked within the system to bring about the infrastructure.

    Regarding San Jose: I could do without the urban sprawl and in August I don’t want any part of it, but there is awesome hill riding in the outskirts, both east and west of the valley, and in March when even Portlanders are sick of the weather, your climate is perfection. Also San Jose has San Francisco which is a rock’n city.

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  • Dan August 20, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Hey Philistine,

    Where did I express hatred?

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  • Dan August 20, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Hey Philistine,

    You call somebody else a “freak”, then call *me* a hater because I suggest that self-entitled cagers don’t like sharing the road with bikes?

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  • Dan August 20, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Hey Bob_M,

    Agreed that folks is folks. Of course they are.

    There’s still a lot of different ways to Ride Bike. Just because it’s not your way doesn’t make it “confrontational”.

    “… wrong in thought and behavior.” (Who made you Pope of this dump?)

    “Lord knows… ” (?)

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  • Dan August 20, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Note that there are two posters posting as “Dan” to this thread. Confusing!

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  • Dan August 20, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Possibly three (at least), if you count “dan”

    Hear the message, not the messenger.

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  • Exasperated August 21, 2010 at 10:53 am

    So many people – on the road and posting here – seem to forget why there are traffic laws in the first place. Everyone moves more easily and we’re all safer if we behave predictably.

    Jesus Christ don’t run red lights. At stop signs, road users with a grain of sense are attentive because the traffic control device doesn’t bother to tell you when you can go, only that you should stop. After that you’re essentially negotiating. With traffic signals, unless trying to make a left turn, people in all modes just go when the signal says we can go. And pedestrians who feel entitled to cross against red lights? I yelled at three of you in two intersections the other day when I was tearing east through green lights towards the Hawthorne Bridge. If you don’t want order in your city, take your lawlessness to Iraq or Afghanistan. Not that they’d appreciate more lawlessness, either.

    And Meek (#63), unless the Lloyd District intersection you’re talking about is Lloyd and 11th, then that is another one with similar conditions. And I, Ms. Law-abiding, after a bike committee meeting where several cautious, cyclists discussed ways to improve that series of intersections, learned that it is often safest to go through the light at NE 11th when it’s red, when there are no pedestrians crossing, in order to get safe positioning at 12th to turn into the left lane. And I sometimes do it. It’s a slow, calculated, safe, blatantly illegal move that is sometimes the best solution to a messy problem. So I’m another one who feels entitled to make my own laws, and I think the attitude of entitlement that so many of us – motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians – exhibit is what causes all this grief. And I hold out my hands for the cuffs, or at least the slap on the wrist.

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  • spare_wheel August 21, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    “suggest that self-entitled cagers don’t like sharing the road with bike”

    I think some of the stop sign school marms posting here fit in the above category.

    I can visualize them driving along in their Subaru at 35 mph (in a 25 mph zone) shaking their well-manicured knuckles at the hipster biker who failed to come to a complete stop.

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  • are August 21, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    critical mass withered because people were duped into believing that a bunch of white paint was what they were looking for.

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  • Grimm August 22, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I mostly agree with Paul. Signals do not necessarily keep us safe. Myself and some of my friends have been hit when doing absolutely nothing illegal. Now I ride vigilantly, I take responsibility for my actions and try not to take unnecessary risks. However the rules are not guaranteed to protect you, so I bend them, I frequently roll stop signs when I can time them out to have zero conflict with cars. No offense I hate the waiting game with drivers when I do stop, they sit and stare at me like I’ve got all day and waste energy stopping and starting every 2 blocks. I often run lights when I know they will be turning yellow, very purposefully as when I get through I know cars will be stopping behind me making less pressure from a ton of metal and potentially some idiot on a phone behind me. I realize my method does not work for everyone, in fact probably for few. But as someone who rides a helluva lot I know what Im capable of and I try not to get hurt or impede anyone when not necessary. That said I try to ride respectfully of others, when space or small animals/kids are present I slow way the hell down. Just trying to get somewhere, quickly with expending little energy as possible not run over anyone. As Paul put it, I feel like a mouse, trying to scurry across the floor trying to get what I need and not get killed by a 4-wheeled broom.

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  • are August 22, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    very well stated, grimm.

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  • Paul Johnson August 22, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Sounds like both sides of this issue are wrong and should be punished… the cyclist for not moving entirely to the next lane to pass (lane splitting isn’t legal here) and running lights. The bus driver flew off the handle.

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  • are August 23, 2010 at 7:58 am

    814.240 forbids lane splitting by a motorcycle. what is your citation for lane splitting by a bicycle?

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  • El Biciclero August 23, 2010 at 9:42 am

    “814.240 forbids lane splitting by a motorcycle. what is your citation for lane splitting by a bicycle?”

    ORS 814.400 seems to lay out a general principle wherein bicycles are subject to all motor vehicle laws, unless expressly excepted by other statute, or unless the provisions of the statute “by their very nature can have no application”. It seems as though that principle would apply here, i.e., If there is a law that applies to motorcycles (motor vehicles), with no specific exception made for bicycles, and which is not excluded “by its very nature” from applying to bicycles, does it not apply to bicycles?

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  • are August 23, 2010 at 10:41 am

    precisely because the 240 relates specifically to motorcycles. if there were a general rule for “vehicles,” we might have something. all kinds of lane usage stuff in 811, some of which maybe could be stretched to apply, but none forbidding lane splitting in so many words (for the obvious reason that two cars cannot fit in a single lane).

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  • Peter Smith August 23, 2010 at 11:03 am

    There is a broad difference being defeatist and submissive and not wanting to be at war with other road users.

    we haven’t declared war against drivers, but it seems they’ve declared war against us. it’s not a war we want to participate in — we’ve been given no choice — if you ride your bike, you are being warred with — you can duck and weave and dodge like a mouse or a cockroach, or you can fight back, or a little or both — that’s it.

    and it can hardly be declared a ‘war’ — that’s like calling the American invasion of Iraq ‘The Gulf War I/II’ — it would more accurately be described as ‘The Gulf Slaughter I/II’ — so, it’s not a war, it’s a slaughter, figuratively and literally, and we pedestrians and cyclists are losing badly in terms of body count, but we’re fighting like the Vietnamese, convinced of our cause, and we’re not going to give up until the killers and occupiers leave.

    Cyclists are like the Palestinians of the transportation world — we just want to be left alone to live in peace, with our dignity intact. drivers are not making that possible for us, and the situation needs to change. unlike Palestinians, however, we cyclists have a tremendous amount of power to change ‘The System’ — and we’re doing it every day, and it’s going to continue to happen whether you like it or not, whether you and the other ‘Law & Order Types’ approve of our methods or not.

    To rant about the inherent evils of people who use one mode of travel over another is unfounded.

    i’ve never known anyone, myself included, to suggest this. if it appears as if it’s happened, it was probably just shorthand. we can’t spell out every last detail as if a blog comment were a legal document. when a friend comes over to hang out at our pad, and we say, “Grab anything you want,” we assume they’re going to limit themselves to the three different types of beer in the refrigerator, not walk out with the refrigerator itself. we just have to generally assume that the readers and commenters of BikePortland.org are sane and rational, and can use their built-in ability to interpret words for their intended meaning to a reasonable degree.

    No one said that there is moral equivalence between running down a German tourist with a car and startling a commuter.

    Fine. That’s not the exact point I was trying to make, but close enough. What I’m suggesting, as usual, is that it is a depraved act to bash the relatively harmless behavior of cyclists, which is often technically illegal, while letting drivers skate — and that’s what you and too many other ‘Law & Order Types’ here are doing. When you bash cyclists like this, you are providing political and moral cover to the illegal and highly dangerous, often-maiming and killing behavior of motorists. You _can_ bash cyclists, but it should be done in the context of the often-grisly circumstances of being a biker in Portland — this means that drivers and car-only legal/political/cultural/economic mandates should be criticized 99.999% of the time — not cyclists, and especially not the exceedingly-innocuous behavior of cyclists, even if and when law-breaking. you and other ‘Bikers Must Stop At Stop Signs’ (BMSASS) types are just protecting outlaw motorists — protecting their ability to endanger, harass, terrorize, maim, and kill pedestrians and cyclists with impunity.

    i’ve talked before about the moral depravity of being a ‘Law & Order Type’, generally, so I won’t do it again. if you think laws trump justice, i feel sad for you, and it will be impossible for us to ever see eye to eye on this issue. I’m with MLK — who are you with?

    On the evaporation of Critical Mass: There were other organizations that worked within the system to bring about the infrastructure.

    i don’t think i ever claimed Critical Mass had anything at all to do with helping to bring about infrastructure — not directly, at least — surely some folks had their minds opened a bit (me) — that’s not the same as getting bicycle infrastructure, but i’m sure it helped motivate some folks (me). i’m just stating an observation that i’m guessing is true — bicycle infrastructure is inversely proportional to the popularity of Critical Mass rides. therefore, if you hate CM, then advocate for more and better bicycle infrastructure.

    and a corollary — if you hate law-breaking, then advocate for just laws, and getting rid of and/or changing unjust laws. don’t go after the relatively powerless — pedestrians and cyclists — that’s the easiest — go after the powerful — drivers and The State/DOT/Mayor/etc. — that actually requires some guts. the Idaho Stop is coming — you can’t…Stop it! :-D

    man, what will the Law & Order Types do when that law passes? they’ll have to find…gulp…something useful to do. ;-D

    reporting stop sign-running cyclists, to me, is the modern-day equivalent of reporting escaped slaves to the authorities. pretty sick if you ask me, but whatever makes you feel more Law-ly & Order-ly.

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  • El Biciclero August 23, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    are–
    ORS814.400 says, “Every person riding a bicycle upon a public way is subject to the provisions applicable to and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle” (emphasis mine).

    How does this exempt bicycles from laws that apply to motorcycles?

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  • Plutodog August 23, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Wow, Paul. You certainly sound on the fringe of bikers. For instance, justifying running stop signs as if you were fighting for the right to vote, go to school, drink from the “Whites Only” fountain, sit at the lunch counter, etc. Yeah, MLK would be right there with you on that comparison….NOT!

    All that bike infrastructure is VERY expensive, being added on top of general vehicle infrastructure that’s been going on for nearly a hundred years. It’s tough to do and we’re not exactly rolling in money now. So asking for a lot of patience in that regard ain’t like we’re giving your grandma an uninvited wedgie. Why not institute licenses for bikes with all funding going towards bike-specific facilities/infrastructure? It would help speed up the process by charging the users of the stuff.

    Personally, I think if you’re going to drive the same roads as vehicles, you’re subject to the same laws for the safety of EVERYBODY. And the fact that some folks aren’t considerate of bikers doesn’t change that a bit. Oh, and let’s keep some perspective — motorists become involved in accidents with other motorists and inanimate objects far more often than bikes. It’s part of the risk of having one or more moving parts in the same space at the same time. The vast majority of it has nothing to do with any animosity towards bikers OR other drivers.

    As to the so-called “Idaho Stop”, IMO..it ought to only be legal on separated bike facilities — and to the extent that is possible, I think it should be done seeing as how bikes and vehicles are so different in their capabilities, size and etc.

    Also, personally, I think we use STOP signs too much — ought to have far more YIELD signing in America than we do. But while I’m not always 100% legal in engaging in what is otherwise known as a “California Stop”, as long as there’s a STOP sign or signal light, rolling on through one by anybody (let alone a whole class of vehicles) is a dangerous anomaly which shouldn’t be permitted…and isn’t.

    Don’t count on Oregon going along.

    All JMO, of course.

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  • Peter Smith August 23, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    How does this exempt bicycles from laws that apply to motorcycles?

    Bicycles are vehicles/cars, except where they’re not, naturally, and except when some other bicycle-specific law is in place that treats them differently.

    Similarly, motorcycles/mopeds are vehicles/cars, except where they’re not, naturally, and except when some other motorcycle/moped-specific law is in place that treats them differently.

    OK.

    The motorcycle/moped-specific law has been cited — it explicitly makes lane-splitting by these vehicle types illegal. There is no such bicycle-specific law. Therefore, bicycle lane-splitting is legal.

    Why? Because if motorcycle/moped lane-splitting was _already_ illegal, then why would it be necessary to create a motorcycle/moped-specific law prohibiting motorcycle/moped lane-splitting? Why would it be necessary to transfer Santiago off the base?

    It wouldn’t have been necessary, but motorcycles/mopeds needed to be reigned in (and Santiago had to be transferred off the base).

    Lawmakers, in conjunction with prosecutors, no doubt, decided they wanted the motorcycle/moped-specific law, and they got it. No such bicycle-specific law exists.

    The motorcycle/moped-specific law was probably enacted because motorcycle/moped lane-splitting was seen to be highly dangerous, and the law was probably written with the high-speed-on-a-highway-donorcycle-lane-splitting scenario in mind, not the pass-some-junky-motorized-vehicles-just-starting-out-from-a-red-light scenario.

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  • are August 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    doesn’t stop motorcycles splitting the lane with me, though.

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  • are August 23, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    i mean, as a practical matter. legally, a motorbike is permitted to split only with another motorbike.

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  • Paul Johnson August 23, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I’m surprised by all the hate on this one for suggesting that both sides are wrong on this. El Biciclero got it right, BTW.

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  • Plutodog August 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    My mistake above, I was addressing Peter.

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  • are August 23, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    re comment 163. as a matter of statutory construction, which is what lawyers and judges would do if the question was put before them in an actual case, the fact that the lane splitting statute, 814.240, is specific to motorcyclists would mean that it does not apply more generally to “vehicles,” including bicycles.

    any actual lawyers reading this list are welcome to chime in, but i believe el biciclero is mistaken and peter smith, despite his being from california and all, is correct.

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  • KWW August 23, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Thanks Paul, lane splitting (afaik, still illegal in Oregon) and blowing through red lights. When you inflame bus drivers and practically everyone else on the road around you make it dangerous for every other bike rider, you d*ck.

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  • El Biciclero August 23, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    “814.240, is specific to motorcyclists would mean that it does not apply more generally to ‘vehicles,’ including bicycles.”

    Is a motorcycle a vehicle? Yes.
    Is there a lane-splitting prohibition placed on motorcycles? Yes.
    Does lane-splitting, by its very nature, not apply to bicycles? No. (i.e., bicycles are capable of lane-splitting)
    Then if bicycles must adhere to the provisions laid out for “any other vehicle“–which would include motorcycles, since they are vehicles–then by 814.400, lane-splitting is prohibited for bicycles. The only way that lane-splitting could be argued to be legal for bicycles is if it could be shown that lane-splitting was merely a form of “passing on the right”, which, due to a bicycle-specific exception, is allowed for bicycles.

    Peter, you ask, “…if motorcycle/moped lane-splitting was _already_ illegal, then why would it be necessary to create a motorcycle/moped-specific law prohibiting motorcycle/moped lane-splitting?”

    This sounds a bit circular: how could lane-splitting already be illegal before a law against it was written? One has to assume that lane-splitting is considered essentially impossible for any vehicle larger than a motorcycle, and therefore no specific law against it for cars is deemed necessary. There are other laws for cars that will de facto prohibit lane-splitting, e.g., ORS 811.370–”Failure to drive within lane”–but no specific prohibition against it exists for cars because a car couldn’t do it even if the driver wanted to. Therefore, the law was written to apply to the only vehicles to which it reasonably could apply.

    I think the key to our difference of interpretation is that we have differing views of how “exceptions” are applied. It sounds like you understand “exception” to mean “regardless of laws applied to other vehicles, if there is not a specific provision expressly applied to bicycles, then no provision applies to bicycles”, whereas I understand it to mean that “All provisions for other vehicles (of any type) apply to bicycles, unless a specific exemption to a provision is given, or the existing law by nature can have no application to bicycles.”

    I think we have to agree to disagree on this one until a legal expert can settle things.

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  • Jen August 23, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I was amazed after reading both the interview and all the comments. I commute to work year round by bike and don’t feel at all like a mouse or like I am at war. My son (12) and I commute to/from his school and soccer practices by bike. On my days off from work we routinely go on nice long (40+ miles) bike rides around town.

    I am not sure what city he is talking about riding his bike in, but if he gets that worked up about riding here in Portland, the same city I feel so confident riding in with a child, he might be doing it wrong.

    Other than some very specific instances with select vehicle drivers, I get the impression that I am respected as a road user. Granted, I stop for stop signs and red lights and pedestrians. I signal before I make lane changes. And I try to ride in a predictable fashion. Mostly, I try to ride the way I expect other people to drive. Perhaps this explains why I view my commute as the best part of my day and try to sell other people on riding for relaxation.

    (and I usually keep right up with those bike riders who blow past me when I stop for the stop signs/red lights. All the starting and stopping have given me legs of steel)

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  • are August 23, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    well, as i say, let an actual lawyer chime in. lane splitting is not forbidden to “vehicles” generally, it is forbidden to motorcycles. a bicycle is treated as a “vehicle.” a law specific to motorcycles is not a law general to “vehicles.” etc., etc., etc. we can continue to beat this to death, but the answer seems as obvious to me as the contrary answer seems obvious to you. and how many angels can dance on the head of a pin anyway?

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  • are August 23, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    try this on for example. a literal reading of 814.240(a), substituting “bicycle” for, um, “vehicle” or whatever, would say that a bicyclist cannot overtake another bicycle within the same lane because it is not a motorcycle or a moped.

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  • mh August 23, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Jen (#168) – thank you for seconding me on the peaceful joys of predictability. I’m glad to share the road with you.

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  • spare_wheel August 23, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    “I stop for stop signs and red lights and pedestrians. I signal before I make lane changes.”

    yet another biker who has *never* rolled through a stop sign.
    (sigh)

    “and try to sell other people on riding for relaxation”

    some of us ride for reasons other than leisure:

    *we ride to get from point A to point B (in the minimum time).
    *we ride for the sheer joy of going fast.
    *we ride fearlessly because we are equal users of transportation infrastructure.

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  • Jen August 23, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Mh (#171)
    Thanks! I like sharing the road with other predictable people!
    Spare_Wheel (#172)

    I never said that I have *never* rolled through a stop sign (Heavier sigh with eye roll).

    90% of the time when I get to where I am going, I find someone I know saying “I saw you! I saw you on your bike!”, be they friends or colleagues. For them, I try to stop at every stop sign, because they will call me on it if I don’t. Broadway, heading south 6:30 am, when there is very little traffic of any kind, you will find me stopping at all the freaking stoplights on streets that don’t even go through (PSU), because PEOPLE SEE ME ON MY BIKE. People I know judge ALL bicycle riders by how I ride. I don’t want to, I don’t like it, it is the law. And, like I said, I usually catch up to those who blow through said lights. With the added bonus that I look killer in a mini skirt and can beat most people up any hill.

    “some of us ride for reasons other than leisure:
    *we ride to get from point A to point B (in the minimum time).
    *we ride for the sheer joy of going fast.
    *we ride fearlessly because we are equal users of transportation infrastructure”
    Whoah! Did you miss the part where I said “work”, and implied “soccer mom”?!?! It isn’t as though I am just out there cruising with no particular place to go. I too have to get from point a to point b in the minimum amount of time (with joy and fearlessly). Sadly, I don’t have my own personal track to ride to work/school/soccer fields/grocery stores on. I HAVE to share the road with pedestrians (who have the legal right of way in any implied or marked crosswalk) and motor vehicle drivers as an equal user of the transportation infrastructure, which means that I get to follow all the same rules. Somehow, I didn’t get some kind of exemption from following rules just because I don’t use gasoline.

    I’m not trying to come down on how other people choose to ride. I like the way I ride. I ride hard and I ride fast (my morning commute from mount tabor to the top of OHSU takes me under 30 minutes). I try to hit the lights so I don’t have to stop. And I stop for stop signs and stop lights and pedestrians, because everyone else on the road has rights too.
    Maybe you misunderstood when I said riding for relaxation. For me, riding IS relaxing, even when I am rushing somewhere. Getting my legs working and my blood pumping and feeling connected with everything and feeling every bump in the road and every breeze….. Relaxing. Stopping at the stop light to catch my breath before I try to take off as quickly as I can and get back up to speed….. Relaxing. The endorphin high from a good workout…. Relaxing. Just because I follow the rules and stop where legally required doesn’t make me some pokey person out on a Sunday ride.

    And when I am in my car and in a rush, I still have to stop for all the damned stop signs and red lights and pedestrians.

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  • Peter Smith August 23, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Some responses:

    1) Jesus Christ don’t run red lights. … And I, Ms. Law-abiding, …sometimes do it.

    I’m still not sure I’m reading that correctly, but I thought it was funny.

    Hey, Law & Order Types, do you signal at least 100-feet continuously before turning or stopping? Good. Keep up the good work. 100 feet, ok?

    2) “Paul is a jerk” and “Higgins is an arrogant jerk” and “Don’t be an arrogant jerk rider” and “Both Paul and Dan sound like a couple of me-first drama queens” and “The cyclist is an a-hole” and “The dude is a jackass” and “wow a little full of himself?” and “you d*ck” and “He’s nothing but a child”

    If you’re going to go with the ad hominem attack/name-calling strategy, at least have the decency to list your full name in the ‘Name’ field. you all are not just embarrassing yourselves and the rest of us here, but you’re degrading the quality of the comments.

    3) “it’s guys like him that lead to the negative stereotyping of all cyclists.”

    Remember those hand signals, matthew vilhauer!

    4) “moved bus driver Dan Christensen to write his very provocative blog posting”

    that’s certainly one way to describe it.

    5) “Higgins’ attitude is the kind that makes others look bad.”

    Looking forward to those hand signals, Meek!

    6) “in short, I’m more or less a law abiding citizen.”

    Looking forward to those hand signals, Kt!

    7) “It’s the only way cycling will ever gain the respect it deserves.”

    Cycling continues to gain respect at a time when cyclists have not, to my knowledge, begun obeying Stop signs and red lights at a greater rate. This would suggest the two phenomena are not related — i.e. they are orthogonal.

    8) “I’m so tired of explaining why bicyclist are always scofflaws.”

    I understand ‘explanation fatigue,’ but it is drivers who should feel obligated to explain scofflaw drivers, not cyclists to explain scofflaw cyclists. Scofflaw drivers are exceptionally dangerous not just to themselves, but to everyone else.

    The difference is, bikers are often still intimidated by the reigning intellectual culture surrounding transportation issues — namely, car culture. Many bikers believe that cars/drivers really do deserve a higher status on the roads. That needs to change.

    That said, education is critical, so reminding drivers of their responsibilities is always a good thing.

    Practically speaking, just answer any driver’s question/accusation with a question/accusation. If a driver says, “Why do cyclists always blow through stop signs?”, just say, “Why do _drivers_ always blow through stop signs?” Then they say, “Well, we roll through stop signs, but we don’t really _blow_ through them, but you guys do.” The reply is, “Are you saying it’s OK for drivers to roll through stop signs?” Take it from there. Once they say, “Well, if it’s clear/safe, then we just roll through,” tell them “That’s what us bikers do, too. Do you want us to get to break the law _less_ than you guys?” When you’re done telling the person to stop being a hypocrite, then you drop the real knowledge — “Stop signs and traffic lights were made for cars, and cars only, not for bikes — car drivers were busy killing each other, so we needed a way to stop the slaughter — we came up with Stop signs and traffic lights. They don’t make sense for bikes, the laws will soon reflect the reality that bikes aren’t dangerous — we’ll legally be able to ride through Stop signs and red lights.”

    You can also have some fun with it. If you get ‘the stop sign question’ — just answer: “Do you bike? No? Well try it tomorrow out and let me know how it goes. Ride to work tomorrow and tell me if you stopped at all the stop signs and red lights on the way. Whatever you decide to do, that’s my answer to you right now.” :-D

    Secondly, as we’ve been reminded here, many cyclists in Portland are model citizens and do not break laws, so factually speaking, bicyclists are _not_ always scofflaws. Allegedly. ;-D

    9) For the record, I could care less whether bicycle lane-splitting is technically legal or not right now. If I have anything to say about it, it _will_ be explicitly legal for everyone, everywhere, soon. :)

    10) On a side note, I just became a regular driver again about 3 days ago – first time since I became a bike nut two or three years ago. It’s been a fantastic experience, getting back in the car. Really. Walking/riding/busing/training in a town built for cars (San Jose) is just…phew — so degrading, so inconvenient, so expensive, so limiting, so difficult. I now feel like the world is my oyster again. I suspected this would be the case, and I at least proved myself correct to…myself. :) Seriously, though, I feel vindicated — being able to get around in safety, comfort, with dignity intact (and I will now have to start adding ‘conveniently’ to this description). Some/many/most (?) people think my walking/cycling-as-a-civil/human-right arguments are over the top, but I’m now more convinced than ever that they are spot on. Cars and car culture create/enforce/maintain fiscal poverty and democratic poverty, at least. It’s really an extreme situation. We with great opportunity have great responsibility — we have to change the system and make it more fair.

    11) I think all the back and forth has been only semi-interesting, but not interesting enough. Every once in a while a major bike group will launch some ‘hey cyclists, stop being scofflaws’ campaign, and it always starts with ‘obey stop signs’ and it is, therefore, always ignored. There’s still room for some kind of ‘road users bill of rights’ or ‘driver, cyclist, pedestrian code of conduct’, but i’m not sure it could be made interesting. Toronto’s Spacing Magazine did some kind of ‘rules’ issue this Spring — I haven’t read it.

    12) If you want cyclists to stop at stop signs, you have to give them access to the main roads, like Hawthorne, because they lack Stop signs. See the Berkeley prof’s article on effective speed (‘Why Bicyclists Hate Stop Signs’, By Joel Fajans and Melanie Curry, Access Number 18, Spring 2001). Also, why should only cars have freeways? Freeways are like highways on crack — no stop signs, no traffic lights. Folks are only talking about ‘bicycle highways’ right now — let’s talk ‘bicycle freeways’.

    13) I’d like all of us to concentrate on/talk about, for once, the nice things that cyclists do for drivers all the time — at least one example of which I pointed out earlier. I can think of many other regularly-occurring situations. I’m sure I’ve stopped at least one crime from being committed by my mere presence — gliding silently through some areas. (The bike silence is why crooks hate cops on bikes — they’re so effective.)

    14) But wait, there’s a jaywalker in the way and is standing in solidarity with his brothers, unafraid to block said ambulance. Should the ambulance honk? use a siren?

    are you saying a siren would not be enough? what, in other words, are you talking about? if someone is determined to commit the crime of manslaughter/murder, a car horn is not going to stop them. i want just one valid use of a car horn — just one scenario — if car horns are so obviously necessary, then we should be brimming with all sorts of valid use case scenarios. color me skeptical.

    15) “Defensive” cyclists who blow red lights…might feel safe doing fast, defensive, and un-anticipatable maneuvers, they can put cars, pedestrians, and other cyclists at risk by the shock of what feels like a close call.

    contrast this shock to the actual deaths that female cyclists, in particular, face because they obey unjust laws more often than male cyclists do [The Sunday Times, April 24, 2007; Women cyclists ‘risk death’ by obeying traffic lights].

    16) If there is a good alternative, don’t ride on Hawthorne or other busy streets that are tight, unless you really have to and then only for a short stretch… especially at rush hour.

    This is an explicit call, presumably from a cyclist, for bike riders to stay off certain streets…for one or a number of different reasons. I don’t think it’s fair, and I don’t think it’s a winning strategy — I’d go far as to say it’s immoral — but it’s certainly _a_ strategy. Do bikes belong on the biggest, nastiest, most car-crazed of streets? I say ‘Yes’. Those streets need taming — they need to be able to accommodate walkers and bikers in safety and comfort. If there is room left over after accommodating walkers/bikers/transit, then we can talk about the possibility of cars using that street too.

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  • Pete August 23, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Jen (#173): I like your well-written response. Though your description of racing people up hills in a mini skirt may alter visions of a school marm shaking a manicured fist from a Subaru…

    In all my years of reading bikeportland I think this thread wins for judgement and stereotype. Community my arse.

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  • Kt August 24, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Peter Smith, #174: I use my hand signals. All the time. I also use my turn signals in my car. All the time.

    And you know what I mean by “all the time”: when I need to turn, or change lanes, etc. Not that I’m driving down the street with my left turn signal going or my hand sticking out, when I’m not turning or changing lanes or pulling into a parking spot or something! :)

    Like I said, the only thing I’m not so good at is keeping the speed limit. But I’m getting better at it.

    I do like your point #8, though– I’ve used that tactic, but have found that most people will turn the discussion to some other thing some other rider did, like curse at a driver for that driver telling that rider they were hard to see.

    It’s hard to defend other people when they have such blatantly crappy attitudes, responses, and actions. Sometimes I can only fall back on, “well, I don’t ride like that, so you can’t say that ALL riders are like that now can you?”

    Or then we get into the whole “who runs red lights more, cars or bikes” thing– down here in the Southern Burbs, I find more cars running reds and squeezing the oranges than bikes, and more peds dashing across arterials where it’s not safe to do so (think, Hwy 99W down by King City).

    I also agree with your point 16. Why isn’t anyone asking all those car drivers why they insist on taking Hawthorne when it’s such a tight, jammed up street? There are much better streets close by they could take, and all those great freeways reserved just for them. :D

    Jen, #173: Amen, sister. Thanks for articulating what I’ve been trying to say, and what I also do and feel.

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  • spare_wheel August 24, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Jen,
    If you ride from the top of Mt. Tabor to the top of pill hill in 30 mins you are definitely breaking laws.

    “As to the so-called “Idaho Stop”, IMO..it ought to only be legal on separated bike facilities”

    There is a decade of data showing that the idaho stop is safe. Similar laws are also the standard in a large swathe of Yurp. I care about bike safety not some riders fetish with the letter of the law.

    “because PEOPLE SEE ME ON MY BIKE. People I know judge ALL bicycle riders by how I ride.”

    A classic symptom of bike stockholm syndrome is caring too much about what your car-driving neighbors might think.

    “you will find me stopping at all the freaking stoplights on streets that don’t even go through (PSU)”

    You come to *full stop* at every one of the PSU intersections on the cycle track?

    Good grief.

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  • El Biciclero August 24, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    “i want just one valid use of a car horn — just one scenario”

    Here are four:

    Oblivious driver backing up into me, when there are other cars behind preventing any evasive action on my part. Happens in parking lots all the time.

    Oblivious driver sitting at light applying make-up or txtng long after it has turned green (longer than a few seconds–not like NYC where red means floor it, yellow means floor it, and green means honk). Sure, we could all wait through another entire signal cycle, hoping the person will wake up, but who wants to do that?

    Oblivious driver attempting to change lanes directly into me at a time when slamming on my brakes to let them in would cause hardship/safety issues for drivers behind me.

    I end up in the wrong part of town late at night and am swarmed at a stop sign by obvious ne’er-do-wells who intend me harm. I might use my horn to attract the attention of anyone else, or startle the ne’er-do-wells momentarily so I can drive away. (OK, that one is a little far-fetched, but it could happen…)

    Basically, in any situation where a sudden stop is unsafe, or wouldn’t avoid a collision anyway, I would use my horn.

    I’ll give you that the majority of horn usage is by drivers who are using it as a loud swear word to “punish” others.

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  • spare_wheel August 24, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    “The difference is, bikers are often still intimidated by…car culture. Many bikers believe that cars/drivers really do deserve a higher status on the roads.”

    Bike stockholm syndrome.

    “Those streets need taming — they need to be able to accommodate walkers and bikers in safety and comfort.”

    This is exactly why I prefer to ride 39th, Division, Burnside, and Sandy. Thanks for articulating this point so well.

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  • Peter Smith August 24, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Here are four:

    somewhere in the mix, the context of this ‘no horns’ take got lost. i said car horns should never be used against walkers/bikers:

    i can’t a situation where blowing a car horn at a cyclist or pedestrian is an appropriate or decent thing to do. can you?

    this question/challenge still remains.

    i mentioned that drivers like to ‘toot toot’ at each other on the highways, whatever. it seems reasonable that horns are one way to help drivers communicate with other drivers. current car horns are insanely loud and annoying — ‘shocking’ — because they need to be in order to be heard from inside another car. now we just need to decide if:
    1) they should ever be used against/’for’ bikers/walkers?
    2) is whatever safety they provide worth the harm they do – not just to drivers, but walkers, bikers, etc.?

    I still want to quickly address the examples you provided because I think it can illustrate how little utility horns provide even for drivers. when we put that little bit of positive utility up against the incredible harm that car horns inflict on us, i think we will decide that car horns do not provide a net benefit to society, and should be phased out.

    Oblivious driver backing up into me, when there are other cars behind preventing any evasive action on my part. Happens in parking lots all the time.

    Granted – happens a lot. However, I’d say that drivers (let’s say the oblivious people backing out) often rely on the car horns of other drivers to warn them if they back out obliviously. This ties into the whole safety/design issue — do helmets make cyclists ride in a more risky fashion? do seat belts do the same for drivers? Do ‘forgiving roads’ do the same? What are all the externalities?

    So, in my estimation, without car horns, parking lot drivers will drive a _lot_ more cautiously, more slowly, and the danger to both drivers and walkers and bikers in parking lots goes down dramatically – public safety is greatly enhanced, lawsuits down, Fire/EMS/health care resources saved, etc.

    Oblivious driver sitting at light applying make-up or txtng long after it has turned green

    granted. but the net harm here is so minimal that we can just about ignore it. compare that do the great harm caused to nearby walkers/bikers/residents from blaring horns – it’s a no-brainer.

    Oblivious driver attempting to change lanes directly into me at a time when slamming on my brakes to let them in would cause hardship/safety issues for drivers behind me.

    I’m very skeptical of this one. It reminds me of bike riders who, when getting cut off by a car, refuse to slow down and instead either yell or scream at a car or pound on the car or something else (assuming the cyclist is not physically trapped by a guardrail, etc.). My take on this is just ‘slow down and take evasive action’. During the time that you’re moving your hands/fingers to engage the horn, you could be braking and taking evasive action. In fact, when I think back to all the car crashes I’ve heard in my life — and there have been many — it always seems to go like this: “screaaaaaaach!!! hooooooooooooornnn!!! screaaaaaaaaach!!! !!!CRASH!!!”. People who might have been able to avoid a crash were instead busy laying on the horn, or, using their horn made no difference and they crashed anyway.

    I end up in the wrong part of town late at night and am swarmed at a stop sign by obvious ne’er-do-wells who intend me harm.

    agreed — too far-fetched. we’re not talking about things that ‘could ever happen’ – because aliens could come down from Mars and demand hot fudge sundaes from us all bike riders or else they’ll destroy the world – should we all keep freezers on our bikes? no. we’re just talking about if car horns provide a net benefit to society. once we decide that is ‘No’, we can look at keeping them for cars anyways, because we’ve forced almost everyone to drive, so even if it’s shown that car horns provide only a very little benefit for drivers, we may want to let drivers keep their horns — even if they also happen to be used to terrorize walkers and bikers, annoy and wake-up the neighborhood with car-horn alarms, etc.

    For now, i’d be happy if we all of us walkers/bikers decided that using car horns against walkers/bikers/skaters/etc. is not ever valid or decent. That’s certainly my opinion. Later we can look to legislation, etc.

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  • El Biciclero August 24, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    “Later we can look to legislation, etc.”

    There is an interesting rule in England that makes it illegal to use a car horn unless the car is moving. No sitting and honking.

    You are correct, I forgot the “against pedestrians/cyclists” provision of the scenario challenge. The only real “reason” people usually use a car horn against not-a-motor-vehicle is to “educate” them about who’s the boss and remind them to keep their eyes open or “somebody” will run over you. It is used as a means to assert/impose right-of-way rather than yielding it. Thinking about it, a car horn honk is much the same as a dog barking–it just says, “hey! hey! watch it!”

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  • Pengo August 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    spare wheel:

    30 minutes from Tabor to OHSU is more than doable for a reasonably fit cyclist. Even one who stops for signals. It’s only about six miles and you’re going downhill for a large portion of it.

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  • Paul Johnson August 24, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Am I the only person who has an Air Zounds 2 and wonders why it’s not standard equipment for bicycles?

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  • Pete August 25, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Paul (#183): careful, the honking debate might start up again… ;)

    It definitely demands respect when it’s come to needing it. On the rare scary near-misses I notice my white-knuckle grip makes it hard to find the button, though, but emptying my lungs gets close to the Zounds’ output. They’re quite useful on small boats too (and a green alternative to aerosol horns).

    Great suggestion.

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  • spare_wheel August 25, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    “30 minutes from Tabor to OHSU is more than doable for a reasonably fit cyclist.”

    That 6 miles involves a ~500′ climb up pill hill. It also involves a large number of stops and slow sections (hawthorne bridge and downtown). My best times on this route are a few minutes under 30 — and this includes speeding like a freaking maniac (descents at 35-40 mph) on a 53T road bike.

    IMO, you have to be a very fit biker indeed to make that “commute” in 30 minutes.

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  • Pete August 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    “You come to *full stop* at every one of the PSU intersections on the cycle track?”

    I bet that’s how she’s fit enough to beat you up hills… ;-)

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  • Peter Smith August 25, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    I had a minor epiphany while cruising around town the other day in my car — I had to stop at this red light (I was making a right turn) because I saw a cop car on the opposite side of the intersection. That gave me an extra couple of seconds to think.

    Since beginning driving again a few days ago, I’ve been very fully aware of my lawbreaking driving ways — and I took note of all the situations where I was being more cautious in situations that involved or might involve non-drivers.

    And then it hit me — I didn’t _just_ turn into an outlaw when I started driving again, just like I didn’t turn into an outlaw when I started riding my bike two years ago.

    I’ve always driven the way most other people drive, and I’ve always ridden the way most other people ride — we’re outlaws. So, what’s the difference between drivers and riders? Drivers injure, maim, terrorize and kill tens/hundreds of thousands/millions every year. Cyclists do not.

    The major advocacy organizations are already on board. The Idaho Stop is an accepted part of mainstream cycling culture — now we just need to convince our legislators.

    To those who are trying to make cycling more difficult/less pleasant than it already is — by demanding that cyclists stop at stop signs and red lights and use hand signals or whatever else — you don’t necessarily have to become a freedom rider of our day, but you should seriously consider not condemning us. If you can’t take an active role in promoting freedom/justice/equality, at least be just passive – don’t fight against it.

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  • Pete August 25, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    “To those who are trying to make cycling more difficult/less pleasant than it already is — by demanding that cyclists stop at stop signs and red lights and use hand signals or whatever else –”

    Maybe I just don’t get what your saying here, but riding in a predictable manner is far from difficult or demanding. Driving or riding around cyclists who aren’t aware of or don’t care about their surroundings is (they pull out in front of me without looking almost daily, for instance – more so than motorists do). Signalling is important whether on bike or in car, and the practice is simple. And like so many others (who’ve been ridiculed) on here have said before, so is stopping.

    I am not an outlaw because I choose to ride a bicycle. Speak for yourself. And since I ride where you drive, please don’t be an outlaw behind the wheel. It could be me you hit, and I’d prefer not to become a martyr for equality.

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  • Peter Smith August 25, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    but riding in a predictable manner is far from difficult or demanding

    if most cyclists are running stop signs and red lights, then this outlaw behavior is, by definition, the predictable behavior. so, i don’t particularly buy into all this ‘predictability’ nonsense, but if you do, then you should consider joining the overwhelming majority of cyclists who ride predictably.

    Driving or riding around cyclists who aren’t aware of or don’t care about their surroundings is

    You know/have seen cyclists who aren’t aware of or don’t care about their surroundings? C’mon.

    Drivers, on the other hand, do exhibit these symptoms, and not just because we’re lazy — it’s also because it’s very difficult to be aware of and care about one’s surroundings when you’re inside a super-comfortable, super-protective, largely-soundproof box. That’s why society can’t tolerate cars anymore — they are, for lack of sophisticated phrasing, inherently evil. Cars aand life forms do not mix – they don’t go together – they don’t work – one of them has to go.

    Bikes and life forms, however — now there’s a combination. Like sun and sand. Movies and popcorn. Peanut Butter and jelly. Pizza and beer. Salt and pepper. Chips and salsa.

    Hungry…

    Signaling is important whether on bike or in car

    I think signaling can be important, but I suspect the current laws were put in place to speed along motorists, not keep cyclists safe. We need a rethink. For instance, do we need a right-of-way law for pedestrians on sidewalks? No — we just rely on social norms – stay to the right, generally speaking, and figure the rest out. Not everything is legislated, and not everything needs to be legislated.

    When the roads get very crowded with bicycles — and they will (some already are) — signaling can be nice, convenient, and possibly even contribute to safety, but signaling is not going to keep us safe from cars.

    and the practice is simple

    I think it _can_ be simple, but it’s just as often impossible, and can be very difficult and/or dangerous to do — which is why the law provides a very broad exemption from hand signals. I mean, really — whose idea was it to concoct some system of rules that required cyclists to take one of their hands off their handlebars? We _need_ both hands on our handlebars — that’s why they put two grips on there — one on the left side, and one on the right side.

    Anyone who’s ridden in bike traffic and wants to be courteous can throw out a simple flick of the wrist or finger to indicate a lane change or turn or something, and that would make that biker an outlaw for not following the letter of the law, and that would prompt at least some cyclists here to cry foul. Handle signal laws are stupid, but since drivers don’t get all bent out of shape about them (and the Law & Order Types [LOTs] don’t like to use them themselves), I guess that most LOTs here are giving us all a pass on them.

    I am not an outlaw because I choose to ride a bicycle.

    If you do not follow the rules of the road, including using hand signals for at least 100 feet prior to all turns and stops, then you are, by definition, an outlaw. Don’t take it up with me — take it up with Merriam-Webster.

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  • Peter Smith August 25, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    i forgot to put this in earlier comments, but it was basically my fault that the context of my ‘car horn question/challenge’ got lost. my bad. sorry! :)

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  • Pete August 25, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Peter: argue semantics and philosophy and label me what you wish, my message is simple. I’m placed in danger by drivers/cyclists who 1) don’t stop when the signals say to, 2) don’t signal when they’re changing lanes or turning (or stopping quickly), and 3) don’t yield right of way due to the simple fact they’re not looking or they are but just care more about their impatience than my safety. Fortunately the fact that most people fall into your ‘LOT’ category (except Californian drivers tend to mistake brake lights for blinkers for some reason) has blessed me with many decades and miles of collision-free cycling.

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  • Peter Smith August 25, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Another thought — at least some of the folks here telling us to stop at Stop signs and whatnot are either explicitly or implicitly saying that engaging in this Stop sign-running behavior is dangerous. the evidence presented to support this claim?

    some anecdotes, maybe? i dunno. not much, if anything.

    the evidence to support the claim that Stop sign- and red light-running is actually safer (a case I’m not, in general, making) was the UK study I pointed out.

    someone in another thread cited a %56 cyclist-determined-to-be-at-fault-in-deadly-collisions rate — basically, a wash. and that’s when the cyclist(s) is/are dead, so therefore cannot defend themselves. and that’s also given the overwhelming ‘car-head’ psychosis that our current transportation/political/cultural system suffers from (meaning, cyclists are probably only at fault 2% of the time or less).

    so, it’s possible I could still be convinced that obeying the letter (or even crux of the intent) of the law is safer, overall, for cyclists than doing, basically, whatever we want – or whatever we feel is safe and/or just – but nobody here has presented that evidence yet.

    unfortunately, the ‘drivers may get mad at us for running Stop signs and may kill us’ reasoning is, in my opinion, still valid. the threat of terror, real as it is, still does not change my mind about the justness of cyclists being able to run/roll through Stop signs and red lights. i suspect i’d be fine with some language in the law that said, “Don’t injure, maim, or kill anyone.” — I suspect to do any of those things, you’d most likely have to be breaking some type of right-of-way/yield law anyways, and that would get you a ticket. Unless you’re a garbage truck driver.

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  • spare_wheel August 25, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    “I am not an outlaw because I choose to ride a bicycle. Speak for yourself.”

    you are not an outlaw because you choose to ride a bicycle but unless you are some sort of artificial humanoid you definitely break laws all the freaking time.

    PS: Outlaw!

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  • Jen August 25, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    pete (#186)- thank you. exactly. All the practice of starting and stopping has been really good for me. I used to be annoyed by it when I fist started cycling ,but now each stop is an opportunity to see how quickly I can get back “up to speed”. And downtown in a breeze because all the lights are timed to around 25 mph.

    spare_wheel (#177) it’s not stockholm sysndorome to actually care what the community around one believes in. I have gotten 3 of my co-workers (in their 30-40′s die hard car drivers) to start bike commuting. I like to think of the way I bike as good citizinship. I get that you don’t really care about those around you unless they fit into your prescribed notion of “how things should be” or “how things are”, so maybe it isn’t as important to you to be a good example and a good steward. I respect that too.

    My only point was that the guy interviewed and some of the commenters said they felt like they were being terrorized or hunted or at war while biking. They also described how they bike. I wanted to share how I feel while biking (i.e.:SEEN, heard, part of a community, respected, relaxed, invigorated) and how I bike. Maybe there is a correleation to how one bikes and how they are treated while biking?

    peter (#191) if you read through the article you cited http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1695668.ece
    you should see that the major cause of the accidents described it the riders being in a blind spot of the lorry, which really has nothing to do with stopping for red lights. I take it upon myself to not be in a blind spot (whenever possible).

    I actually hate bike lanes, because they try to filter me into blind spots. I would rather just be in a lane. That said, when I take a lane, I don’t abandon it to “filter to the front”. IMO that only saves me a few minutes, but puts me at risk. I know a lot of people disagree with me, and I am not advocating they have to adopt my riding style. But I have never had someone try to right hook me while I am in the center of the lane.

    That said, I will also sometimes go out of my way to ride the slower calmer streets, because no matter how fast I can be off the line, not matter how stong my legs are, I am no match for a car. Again, just telling people how I feel and what I do. Everyone gets to pick their battles. I’m not telling anyone they are wrong for which battles they choose to fight, but I might shake my head and wonder if you are riding Rocinante.

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  • spare_wheel August 25, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    “downtown in a breeze because all the lights are timed to around 25 mph.”

    *blink*

    “I’m not telling anyone they are wrong for which battles they choose to fight, but I might shake my head and wonder if you are riding Rocinante.”

    So you are not telling people which battles to fight but you accuse them of tilting at windmills.

    QED.

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  • Peter Smith August 25, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    if you read through the article you cited..you should see that the major cause of the accidents described it the riders being in a blind spot of the lorry, which really has nothing to do with stopping for red lights.

    shazaam. i have to admit, as surprised as i often am to read disturbing opinions about cyclists here, there always seems to be someone willing to step up and take The Cruelty Crown from its previous owner.

    i actually did read the article, several times.

    1) there is no law against entering into a truck’s blind spot, nor is there a law against a truck overtaking a cyclist, thrusting that cyclist into the truck’s blind spot. there is no law against bike (feeder) lanes, and there is no law against guard-rails that trap cyclists. we know that taking the lane at a light is often a recipe for terror — we should not expect people to volunteer to eat that poop stew. we can talk about academic theory and how things might play out in a world of make-believe, or we can talk about things as they actually are. We should not expect perfection from cyclists. And if cyclists are not perfect, they should not be given the death penalty.

    2) the problem here is not cyclists entering into truck’s blind spots, it’s trucks — they are not conducive to allowing living things to live, so they should be removed from any proximity to living things — humans included. if cars are too big/fast/heavy to be in close proximity to humans, then trucks are FAR TOO BIG/FAST/HEAVY. many cities have begun to make sense of the situation by banning trucks from busy districts during peak times. they need to be banned during _all_ times. cargo bikes work brilliantly for transporting all sorts of things. ‘lightweight’ pickup trucks and vans can also be used to transition from these mass market/big box-type MEGA-vehicles.

    3) a truck’s blind spot is huge — it is almost impossible for a cyclist to stay out of a truck’s blind spot.

    4) if you want to see something really twisted, here is an article about red light-running cyclists who are now presumably being punished. the punishment? learning how to stay out of the blind spots of trucks. excellent.

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  • Seth Alford August 25, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Peter Smith refers to the 100 feet rule for giving signals on a bicycle in #174 and #189, possibly referencing ORS 814.440. However, 814.440(2) provides a loophole: “(2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is operating a bicycle and does not give the appropriate signal continuously for a stop or turn because circumstances require that both hands be used to safely control or operate the bicycle.”
    (See http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/814.html and search for 814.440 .)

    I don’t agree with everything Peter Smith said, but I do like his response to the “why are all bicyclists scofflaws?” (#174, point 8.) I recall hearing the bicyclists are scofflaws line from Commissioner Reynolds (see page 19) at the Beaverton Traffic Commission meeting to consider bike lanes on Lombard, before saying that he was going to vote against the proposal. Another response I’m thinking of for this attitude: compiling video clips of cars rolling stop signs, using cell phones, etc., using the examples I see in my helmet cam videos. Anyone know of a web site besides youtube to submit these? I’m still thinking about what to do with the other road users behaving badly, such as bicyclists riding against traffic, pedestrians walking against lights, etc., that the cam also captures.

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  • Seth Alford August 25, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Here’s the correct link for the Reynold’s quote: http://www.beavertonoregon.gov/departments/ecd/transportation/docs/TCMinutes_March2010.pdf (again see page 19.)

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  • are August 26, 2010 at 7:11 am

    yes, well, commissioner reynolds clearly is a, um, poorly informed fellow. with respect to the turn signal, the exception is to allow you to put your hand back on the bar, after attempting a signal, in order to control the bike. it is not intended to allow you to give a halfhearted flick of the wrist at the last instant. not saying i always give the full hundred feet, just saying.

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  • Pete August 26, 2010 at 9:51 am

    “I’m still thinking about what to do with the other road users behaving badly, such as bicyclists riding against traffic”

    Have lots of experience with cyclists going the wrong way in lanes here (Sunnyvale, CA). One guy almost hit me on three occasions because his commute seems timed with mine. The first time I told him he was going to get hit by a car riding that way, the second time I told him I was going to hit him, and the last time I told him cops LOVE to ticket cyclists for riding the wrong way. Two other riders I’ve shouted that same thing to (and that there’s a cop coming now) – they crossed instantly.

    Damned outlaws! ;)

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  • Peter Smith August 26, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Peter Smith refers to the 100 feet rule for giving signals on a bicycle…However, 814.440(2) provides a loophole…

    In my defense, I did say, “which is why the law provides a very broad exemption from hand signals.”

    In your defense, that was a recent comment of mine, so you might not have seen it before I posted.

    In my defense, these are exceptions we’re talking about — that’s a problem because it puts the onus on you, the cyclist, to prove your innocence to a police officer, as opposed to them having the burden of proving your guilt (whatever level of guilt is required to issue a citation, arrest you, etc.). I’ve had to this happen to me, when mis- or un-informed cops honk and/or yell at me for taking the lane — I try to tell them about ‘the exceptions,’ but they don’t want to hear it.

    In your defense, many of my comments are very long-winded, though I’m trying to do better. :)

    This one part of the law did confuse me, though — it says:

    814.440: Failure to signal turn; exceptions; penalty.

    OK, so here are all the ways you can be cited for failing to signal a turn. Got it. But then we get this:

    (1) A person commits the offense of failure to signal for a bicycle turn if the person does any of the following:

    (a) Stops a bicycle the person is operating without giving the appropriate hand and arm signal continuously for at least 100 feet before executing the stop.

    Did you catch that? I actually don’t know what it means. I _think_ it means that you only have to signal a stop if you intend to make a turn — otherwise, no stop signal is necessary. Thoughts?

    The law would make more sense to me if it just covered stopping in all situations, and was titled:

    814.440: Failure to signal turn or stop; exceptions; penalty.”

    Not a biggie – just thought it a bit odd.

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  • are August 26, 2010 at 10:20 am

    the title is not a substantive part of the statute.

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  • wsbob August 26, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    “… “814.440: Failure to signal turn; exceptions; penalty.”

    OK, so here are all the ways you can be cited for failing to signal a turn. Got it. But then we get this:

    (1) A person commits the offense of failure to signal for a bicycle turn if the person does any of the following:

    (a) Stops a bicycle the person is operating without giving the appropriate hand and arm signal continuously for at least 100 feet before executing the stop.

    Did you catch that? I actually don’t know what it means. I _think_ it means that you only have to signal a stop if you intend to make a turn — otherwise, no stop signal is necessary. Thoughts? … p.smith #189

    That particularly statute isn’t addressing the specs for using the hand stop signal, but rather, the hand turn signal. Signaling a turn over a truly 100′ distance might provide a road user/cyclist the opportunity to alternate the hand turn signal with the hand stop signal so as to indicate to other road users present that the cyclist is going to stop;often, road users signal over less distance, which, depending on the situation, be safe. If a stop sign is visible to those other road users, the hand stop signal might not be so urgently necessary.

    There seems to be a good bit of latitude allowed for the distance over which turn signals are given. 100′ doesn’t hurt, but sometimes, determining on a time basis, how long to signal may be a better guide of how long is necessary for a signal to be seen; my personal feeling is that at least 3 seconds of signaling is necessary.

    In their vehicles and on foot, other road users eyes are constantly scanning…or at least should be…for what’s going on around them, hazards, indications of intention, etc. etc. . If the turn signal given, hand or otherwise, is very short, some road users may not see it if their eyes are averted in another direction as they scan the area around them.

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  • Peter Smith August 26, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    the title is not a substantive part of the statute.

    that’s cool.

    so my question is, do you have to signal every time you stop, even if you are not planning to turn after that stop? (Maybe you had to stop for a red light, or some pedestrians or something.)

    From the way that law/statute is written, it looks to me to be ‘no’ — that is, it is not necessary to signal a stop unless you are planning to turn after that stop.

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  • El Biciclero August 26, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Transportation is a game–a competitive game with diverse players: drivers, transit users, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, etc. The goal of the game is to Get There First, or secondarily, to Get Ahead Of You. If I can’t Get Ahead Of You, then I lose, and you win. There are rules to the game, called traffic laws, which include such provisions as stopping at traffic control devices, signaling your intentions, maintaining reasonable speed, maintaining lane discipline, etc. (note that “running into things” is not against the rules…).

    Among the players of this game, transit riders have essentially forfeited, and pedestrians have mostly declared, “I’m Not Playing!”, which leaves us mainly with drivers (including transit operators) and bicyclists. These two groups/modes each have their advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses. Some of the respective strengths of each type of player allow that player to “cheat”. Drivers can cheat by accelerating and speeding into positions in ways the rules wouldn’t ordinarily allow, or intimidating other players. Bicyclists can cheat by sneaking up onto the sidewalk, or filtering between lanes to get to the front of the line and “take cuts” at a red light. Other cheats might be things like running stop signs or red lights (which any player is able to do, at great affront to other players), or blatantly forcing someone else off of the playing field (usually only drivers can do this one). Then there are “perceived cheats”, such as bicyclists passing on the right to get to the front of the line at a light, or bicyclists “taking a lane” and blocking traffic behind. Both of the above are legal moves in the game, but are perceived as “unfair” by the driver group.

    The drivers in this game have a decided Home Field Advantage, and are usually each others’ greatest fans. The referees in the game are stretched beyond thin and usually only call fouls on a) Exceedingly Egregious Behavior, or b) Anyone who is Easy To Catch. Due to the lack of officiating in the game, the players are largely left to their own devices in attempting to Get Ahead Of You, and will cheat to the extent they find tolerable to do so.

    —-

    Here is the A-Number-One, Biggest Problem with transportation, at least in the U.S.: The majority of us treat it like a competition. Auto drivers believe (apparently) that in any competition with a bicycle, the auto should always win. If I am riding in the bike lane, and I keep stopping next to the same cars at every red light, I might not be winning, but I make many of those drivers anxious about possibly losing to me, which should be impossible. If I am riding my bike in front of a car on a 25mph street, and I am going 26mph, the driver still feels that they are losing to me, and therefore they feel an anxiety-provoking Imperative To Pass. Never mind that after they do so, they are content to continue on at 22mph–at least they Got Ahead Of Me. This competitive anxiety surrounding “losing” to other players is a killer.

    It is no wonder, then, that when either group feels that they are continually losing to the other due to the other’s “cheating” ways, there will be outcries of “No Fair! I’m bigger and more powerful and should ALWAYS win!”

    The impossible solution is to change the psychology of transportation from one of competition to one of cooperation. If the majority actually thought rationally about travel times and road usage, instead of reacting emotionally, e.g., the anxiety induced by the feeling of “losing”, THAT would be progress.

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  • Peter Smith August 26, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    That particularly statute isn’t addressing the specs for using the hand stop signal, but rather, the hand turn signal.

    OK – so that finishes it, then — it’s not necessary to signal a stop, ever.

    And if you happen to stop before you make a turn, you have to signal again — this time, while stopped — before you start moving again and make that turn.

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  • wsbob August 26, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    “… OK – so that finishes it, then — it’s not necessary to signal a stop, ever. …” p smith #206

    That might be your way of traveling the road. It wouldn’t be mine. I signal as the circumstances call for it, sometimes even in situations where other people wouldn’t think signals are necessary.

    “… And if you happen to stop before you make a turn, you have to signal again — this time, while stopped — before you start moving again and make that turn.” p smith #206

    Exactly right Peter…now you’re getting it. Signal for the turn in advance of the turn for a few seconds…possibly display the hand stop signal to indicate you’re slowing in preparation for a stop as required…arm up again for the turn signal. By this time a rider may be 10-15 from a stop sign if it’s that kind of intersection. They’d be traveling very slow.

    If road users behind them are getting the message that the cyclist is stopping, no more need to hand signal for that. Sometimes though, a cyclist gets to the stop signed intersection by themselves, though other road users are approaching them from a distance, for example, some 200-300 feet back. In that instance, I feel it can be helpful for the cyclist to hand signal for the stop while they’re waiting for a break in cross traffic that would allow them to make the turn and enter the flow of traffic.

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  • Peter Smith August 26, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    That might be your way of traveling the road. It wouldn’t be mine.

    my bad — by ‘not necessary,’ I meant ‘not legally required’.

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  • are August 26, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    i must not have been clear. the title is not part of the statute. the language that says you must signal a stop means you must signal a stop. failure to signal a stop would be charged as failure to give a turn signal. all that having been said, i think it is rare for even conscientious cyclists to signal stops at marked intersections. if you are stopping at a crosswalk to allow a pedestrian to cross, it is generally a good idea to signal your intention and to claim a space further to the left in the travel lane, so that a following motorist will get a clue what is going on. etc.

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  • Peter Smith August 26, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    i must not have been clear. the title is not part of the statute.

    ok, i have no idea what ‘the title’ is then, apparently.

    the language that says you must signal a stop means you must signal a stop.

    ok – so we have to signal a stop. darn.

    ah-ha! so _that’s_ it:

    1) when you stop (as in, when you are planning to stop), you have to signal a stop, period. always. (minus exceptions) additionally, if you are planning to turn after you stop, you cannot legally signal a turn within at least the last 100 feet before you begin your ‘stopping action’, because then you would be in violation of the law. if you wish to signal a turn from 100+ feet out from the point at which you being to execute your stop (i.e. begin to slow down), you may do so without penalty.

    2) when you are turning without stopping, you have to signal a turn, period. always. (minus exceptions)

    3) when you are stopped, you must signal a turn if you are turning, period. always. (minus exceptions)

    that’s pretty much it, as best i can tell, which is not best at all.

    as you can see, i’m assuming here that ‘executing the stop’ means the time/place at which you begin to ‘execute your stop’ (ditto with your ‘turn’ action), _not_ the place at which you actually come to a full stop. so, if you are stopped at the advance stop line (for bikes), for instance, and it took you 20 feet to slow down and come to a complete stop there, then you would have needed to begin signaling at least 120 feet previous to the advance stop line.

    everybody clear?

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  • are August 26, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    oh i dunno, i think execute just means execute. would note that there is no similar requirement for motorists (turns and lane changes yes, stops no), presumably because the brake lights come on when they touch the brake. but a hundred feet before the intersection? sometimes not, i would think. braking distance at 40 mph is only eighty feet.

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  • Ex-Vegan August 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    So, he admits that he “…passed him on an unexpected side, out of a blind spot, in a maneuver that many would deem unsafe. But that’s conjecture.” That’s not conjecture, that’s stupid.

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  • are August 27, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    if the left is an unexpected side for passing, we have more problems than we think we have.

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