Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 28th, 2011 at 10:46 am
but some locals would rather you didn't.
(Photo © J. Maus)
A recent reader email shared an important perspective from another front in the battle for bike safety on rural roads. If you thought these issues were limited to Portland's West Hills, rural Washington County, and Sauvie Island — think again.
Below is the letter, which comes from Troutdale resident Russell K:
Are Bicycle Riders Safe in Corbett? (Or on the Old Columbia River Highway?)
I live in Troutdale, OR. One of best things about life here are the amazing bicycle rides that I can do from my front door. Troutdale being right at the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge has immediate access to rides with stunning scenery and challenging hills.
I have been here for six years. I had a honeymoon on the local rides for the first year or two and then the trouble started. The first hint I got was during a stop for an after ride bite to eat and coffee. I sat next to a man who mentioned he was from Corbett. It was obvious I was a rider as I had my riding gear on and my bike was next to me. In a curious mix of threatening and polite behavior he informed me that I, as a rider, was hated in Corbett. He further indicated that I would be lucky to stay healthy and uninjured if I kept going up the Old Hwy. This was stated calmly and easily but very seriously. I have never forgotten it.
I did not stop riding in that area. I did focus on being the most respectful rider I could possibly be.
I have had folks throw objects out in front of my bike. I have run over tacks [and he's not the only one] on the right side of the white line or shoulder (where I religiously stay). I have been yelled at and pushed to the edges so many times I have lost count (in all areas I ride not just Corbett)
Over the next several years I have met a dozen more individuals that truly hate riders in that area, most in Corbett. Weirdly that number recently dramatically increased as I began to ask folks their opinion about riders when I found they lived in the area. I am sure there are those that understand the sport of bicycle riding and respect the men and women on those roads. I am sure there are riders that live in Corbett. However it is very clear to me that many of those up the Old Hwy truly hate riders.
I have only met a small sample of residents from Corbett and out of that sample more than 80% feel somewhere between hate and keen irritation; I believe this indicates Corbett has some kind of cultural or shared problem with riders. We all know how things go in a very small town…I hope I am wrong.
Is this prevalent in rural Oregon? If I don’t want to wind up being in a ditch or worse should I stop riding? Do those in areas that have a problem with riders want a death? Do all riders realize that they have to ride in such a way to minimize the negative attitude?
Oh yeah…A shout out to riders. Especially on the Old Hwy, please do not ride abreast on these small rural roads. Please pull over if you are blocking traffic. Please find out if the road you want to ride on has a shoulder. Please respect the property of the landowners where you ride (don’t park your bike as an obstruction, don’t litter). Those folks up there are pissed... Something bad is set to happen.
Thanks Russell. Bike safety on rural roads is a problem throughout our region. Now we've got to figure out how to improve the situation. A lot of good things came out of a recent meeting up on Skyline Blvd. Perhaps its time to replicate that meeting in Corbett?
If you have thoughts on an issue you'd like to share, please drop us a line. We'll try to publish this as a regular feature.