View Full Version : Not technically a close call, but did catch my attention...

08-21-2008, 08:53 AM
This morning I arrived at the Beaverton TC to hop a ride to downtown (bus or MAX, didn't matter). As I walked my bike from the bus central hub to the MAX platform, I overheard a conversation of a gaggle of Trimet employees around a pickup truck they had parked in the center. One gentleman was walking towards the truck and a very husky (i.e. America's proof of life in excess, obesity TM) co-worker of his greeted him as he approached and asked him what he was doing. The other man replied "I'm doing nothing." There was a pause and then the husky man asked him "Did you hit five bicyclists today? Any more?" That made me swing my head around as I was quite surprised at what was just uttered.

The tone used made it difficult to place the subtler nuances of intonation. Was this in jest? Did it carry a sardonic touch or was there some gem of seriousness and wishful thinking carried with those words? It was not difficult to hear that portion of the conversation, but couldn't hear how it continued. I hopped on the train right away and all I could manage to do at the time is look upon them with a mixture of scorn and disbelief or disillusionment.

A year ago I moved to the Portland area. I came from a place that has no public transit to speak of, but desperately needs. Arriving here, I'm thinking "wow, awesome this is great!" Half a year later and I become more aware of the inner workings and the system's short-comings I think "well, it certainly is better than nothing at all." Now a full year later and I've sold my car, cycle everywhere and combine that with the MAX to get to downtown a shade quicker...riding down routes that accompany Trimet bus routes raises my hackles. I can tell when a bus is approaching and they always place me in a momentary bit of subdued panic or a feeling of 'danger' as those buses pass...within inches of my left hand.

All the insanity in the news over the past few months has probably not helped either which could possibly mean that we are approaching a different type of "critical mass" or as one commenter put it a few weeks ago "Approaching Hobbesian nightmare..." At this point I practically loathe Trimet, but resign myself to making use of the service when I feel it appropriate. It becomes frustrating when you are pressed for time (less time available than it would take to ride the entire distance) and you end up in what I prefer to call either "Trimet Limbo" or "Epic Trimet/Transit Fail" (no transit going where you need to from the transit center for the next 15-30 minutes / packed transit vehicles, no chance of boarding). It can be enough to make one feel some anxiousness and frustration akin to what one can feel while stuck in traffic behind a steering wheel and coming to the realization that you shall be late to your destination no matter what you do, regardless of how important it is that you are present at a designated time.

Trimet frightens me a bit and has me clenching my jaw a bit more often than I care for these days. Perhaps my issue is that I continually find myself making comparison/contrasts with what I became used to when I was staying in Tokyo.

If you fine folks bothered to take the time to read my venting rant, I thank you. I've started to ride with greater vigilance whenever I hear a bus approach as I would ride as if they were aiming to clip me...now I'm starting to think that may actually be true after this morning.

This was all just what I had heard on the wind and then explaining some of my own perspective as it exists currently. Any counter-arguments, persuasion, influence, additional opinions, experiences, etc. would be appreciated and taken into consideration.

Take care,
My ride: 2008 Giant TranSend LX with Arkel trunk bag

08-27-2008, 02:10 AM
...what I became used to when I was staying in Tokyo. ...

Yeah, been there done that. You (me too) are spoiled forever.

That said, Japan's rail system is what I wish someday for public transit around Oregon -- or anywhere in the US. (There was some big dreams thread around a long time back... this would qualify.)

Especially after the Austin incident, buses scare me now, so I go out of my way to stay out of their way. I wish I could offer a better solution, but I haven't come up with one. At least with MAX, the operator can only be stupid in a maximum of one dimension, so I consider myself, sporting two dimensions in which to play, that much safer around it.