Splendid Cycles Big Sale

Wanted: your close calls

Posted by on August 9th, 2005 at 5:28 pm

We as cyclists risk our lives every day on the streets of Portland. Many of us have had near-misses and other altercations that left us rattled, angry, and feeling vulnerable. Yet the only people that ever hear about these incidents are our friends, families and riding buddies.

The media, the police and our elected officials usually don’t take notice until someone is killed. This needs to change.

If our elected officials and city leaders realized how dangerous our daily rides and commutes were, they would begin to take the needs of the bike community more seriously. Now is your time to speak out. If you have had a near-miss incident, or other dangerous interaction with a vehicle while riding your bike in or around Portland, please share your story below.

In your comment please include:

  • The nearest cross streets of your incident.
  • A short description of what happened.
  • What neighborhood you’re from.

In a few weeks, I will draft a letter with all your comments attached and send it to the appropriate politicians and city leaders. Thank you for taking time to make your voice heard.

[For more close-calls, read this thread on the Portland Bike Forums.]

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Marjorie
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Marjorie

I’ve got one that happened this spring, on that one weird night where it haled. I was biking down E Burnside, right by the Jupiter Hotel at about 9:30 pm in the rain and hale. I had lights, and a cop turning right onto Burnside waited until I passed before making a right turn onto the road. Several blocks later, at the intersection of Grand, the same cop car sped up and cut me off so closely I had to slam on my brakes in the slippery stuff so he could careen onto Grand. He most definitely saw me, it was definitely intentional, and apparently malicious. (Like I wasn’t already uncomfortable and in danger biking through that weather.) If it hadn’t been completely miserable out, I absolutely would have turned after him to get his patrol car number and reported his ass to the Bureau in whatever hope there is in the agency doing anything about one of its officers completely unprovoked and unnecessarily threatening the life of a random citizen, even if she wasn’t a racial minority or even dressed like a political activist.

More recently, I was turning left off MLK onto that street just south of Hawthorne, and was in the far left lane to do so when some jock in a giant truck began incessantly honking his horn at me and riding dangerously close behind me, jerking forward threateningly. He harassed and physically threatened me all the way through the intersection, no doubt goaded on by the fact that I was swearing and flipping him off. Wheee!

Also I almost got doored downtown on Park and Alder, by some fat asshole in an SUV who saw me just in time to avoid causing the loss of all my teeth. After this graceful consideration he sputtered that I, as a “fucking bicyclist” should be riding on the sidewalk, because “it’s the law.” I was in a hurry, so I didn’t ride my fucking bike through his fucking windshield.

Heather Andrews
Guest
Heather Andrews

My worst “close call” happened last summer when I was commuting home, right down the hill from my house, where the Springwater corridor crosses Johnson Creek Blvd. and SE Bell Avenue. Because the trail goes diagonally across the intersection and there is limited sidewalk space, it has always been a little tricky to navigate. Also, because of the nature of the traffic I’m extra careful there, to watch out for people who don’t watch out for bikes.

Several times I’ve almost been hit by a motorist “sneaking past” on the right, watching for traffic, the light and crosswalk turns green, and then they don’t look but start turning, and I’m in the crosswalk. I should also note that I always ride very slowly across crosswalks, as I am not regular traffic at that point.

One time I was crossing one of the crosswalks, and there was a man approaching the red light at full speed. He wanted to turn right, and decided he wanted to stop in the middle of the crosswalk instead of behind the stop line. When he saw me and screeched to a halt, my front tire was about two feet away from his front bumper. It scared the heck out of me, and I’m pretty sure it startled him as well.

As I recovered from the shock, he kind of sarcastically yelled “sorry!” out his window, and I yelled back, “you almost hit me!” Then I just started riding up the hill to my house, in the bike lane, as I was still shocked but wanted to move on. Unfortunately, it’s kind of a steep hill, so I was not riding as fast as I would on a flat.

He had turned right to go up the same hill I was, and slowed way down next to me as I ascended the hill, in order to yell at me some more. “Sorry!” “You almost hit me!” “Stupid bitch!” and then he peeled off up the hill. I was glad he was gone, as I don’t deal well with heated situations.

I wish I would have behaved differently, I wish that the shock wouldn’t have made me say “You almost hit me!” but instead keep my mouth shut so maybe he wouldn’t have harassed me. But then again, he did almost hit me.

When I drive my car, I do not stop in the middle of crosswalks. I drive at the posted speed limit (much to everyone’s chagrin behind me!), and generally obey all the rules outlined in the Oregon Driver’s Manual. People know how anal I am about safety I am in my car, and on my bike–but particularly with cars, I feel I am in the minority, an “old lady” driver at the age of 27.

I also think that particular intersection (and I should know, because I live right up the hill!) needs a bike/pedestrian light to go diagonally across, which would help the Springwater users immensely. However, I know this will never happen, because that intersection is on a series of borderlands (Portland/Milwaukie and Clackamas/Multnomah Counties), and no local government has ever really taken much responsibility for it. Again, I should know–I’ve lived in the same neighborhood since I was three years old (1981).

Eli
Guest
Eli

I bike to school up Broadway, so close calls are a way of life.
There’s always somebody so anxious to turn or get a parking space that he or she can’t fit checking a mirror into their busy schedule.
My first near-miss was last summer when I had just started commuting by bike. I was turning left (south) on SE 7th Ave from Ash St. As I got into the bike lane on 7th, the east-facing driver entered the intersection, nearly hitting my right side. I was so scared I couldn’t even yell, something I’ve now mastered.
One particularly heinous offense on Broadway sticks in my mind. As my boyfriend and I rode to PSU, an SUV pulled quickly out of the parking spot and into the bike lane where I was. I swerved to miss her – this was in stopped traffic – and got back in the bike lane ahead of her. Realizing she couldn’t pull into a car lane because of backed-up traffic, she stopped. My boyfriend knocked on her mirror and said “bike lane.” A few blocks later, a passenger of another SUV yelled from the left lane, “good thing that wasn’t MY car you touched! I woulda kicked your fuckin’ ASS!”
My adrenaline was still high from nearly becoming one with the RAV4, and I yelled, “She was in a bike lane!” He yelled back “So what?” Further exchange was cut off when they sped off.
On the Fourth of July, I was nearly hit on a dead-end street in my neighborhood. The driver was wildly drunk. He motioned me to go and then started to drive too. I stopped quickly, falling. Then he got out see if I was alright, and struck up a conversation. I wanted to lecture him for driving drunk, but I think the effect was lost on him.
Every time I have a run-in with a car, which happens multiple times a week, my main reaction is to think of how easily I could be irrepairably damaged, and how easy it is to avoid close calls altogether. I’m 22 years old. I don’t deserve to be injured because drivers don’t pay attention.

James Price
Guest
James Price

I have had two “too-close-calls.” Sorry I cannot give exact dates.

One was 2.5 years ago at the corner of NE Holladay and NE 7th. It was evening time in the winter and it was raining. I had the right-of-way using the bike lane and bike lights. The motorist did not look carefully, even though I was sure I made eye contact. He turned left around the very poorly laid concrete center island and hit my rear bike tire. Private Lloyd Center security which patrols that area was there within a few minutes. Luckily I just fell and missed the car. I was unhurt but very rattled. The motorist admitted all fault and gave me the insurance information. I asked Lloyd Center security if I should contact police, but they said no need to, they had filled out information in case the insurance company wanted information. I was able to replace my bicycle completely with insurance money because the fram was completly bent after bike shop looked at it.

The second incident was about 2 years ago. I was riding east on NE Going St at about 29th or 30th. I had the right-of-way and a truck came to a stop at a stop sign. It was around 5 in the evening and light out. I assumed the truck saw me. I was unable to see driver in tinted side windows. As I went through the instersection the truck driver proceeded and knocked me over. Luckily he stopped immediately. I dusted myself off, made sure the tires turned, and walked home. All was fine, though the driver was not particularly thoughtful or helpful after seeing I was ok.

Those are just 2 actual incidents where I was lucky enough not to get injured. There are many more where I have been able to head off problems because I am a very defensive cyclist.

Michael
Guest
Michael

I have two recent incidents that did not result in accidents, just jangled nerves. Both were on SE Clinton, a bike route with very little traffic.

1 – I was traveling east on Clinton approaching one of the small traffic circle islands in the neighborhood of SE 30th. I could hear a car quickly approaching from the rear. The car came alongside me perhaps 25 feet before I came to the island. It did not want to slow for the island and began to move right to push me to serve. I did not budge from my path and the car had to stomp on its brakes to avoid collision with the island.

2 – Again on SE Clinton I was going east approaching the stop sign at 50th. A small pickup came from behind me, on my left. I looked at him, he was talking on a phone. As I was at the stop sign first and slightly ahead of the pickup, I began my crossing of 50th. The pickup started rapidly about the same time. He was on my left, but turned right in front of me as I was crossing the street. He clearly knew I was there and decided to cut me off anyway. I had to swerve to avoid hitting the moving pickup broadside.

Both of these incididents reflect common problems on SE Clinton. This street is clearly marked as a bike route in several places and also has numerous speed slowing devices. It should be a safe route, but has many of the hazards of biking on much busier streets like Division.

Michael
Guest
Michael

Another very bad location is anywhere on the SW Broadway designated bike lane. That lane is a suicide zone and it will only take you one trip to experience this.

It is too narrow – A bike is skinny, but needs a wide “wobble zone” in the event of avoidance of obstacles. A swerve to avoid a door or pedestrian can put the bike right into the very busy motor lane. There is simply too little room for safety.

It is much too close to parked vehicles – Many people get open doors without looking, or by looking out a part open door. Any door opening in front of a bike is very dangerous and especially here.

It is much too close to fast moving motor traffic – Cars, busses, trucks, etc speed by bikes close enough to be touched by an outreached arm. It would take very little error on their part to squash the bike rider.

Right turns across the bike lane – Many motorists pass by a bike then turn right, across the bike lane, with no regard to the bike. The Broadway bike lane is especially bad for this.

Summary – I avoid Broadway altogether and take 10th. The bike lane gives an illusion of bike safety and respect, but it is dismally inadequate in delivering this function.

vj
Guest

Jonathan, thank you for doing this. Could we map this somehow?

Bryan
Guest
Bryan

I’ve had three in the span of a couple of weeks:

1. Last Wednesday, on SW Hall in Beaverton, going towards Beaverton Mall. I was in the left-hand lane because, amazingly, I needed to turn left shortly. The driver behind me speeds up, passes me on the left, yells something to the affect of “use a bike lane!”, and nearly hits me as he cuts me off to jump into the far right lane. Temporarily forgetting my need to turn left, I catch up to the driver at the red light he urgently needed to hit, asked if there was a problem, and told him that I’m legally allowed to ride in the road just like he in his car. Evidently the act of shouting at a biker from a 2000lb car makes people feel better about themselves.

2. Next day, 7am – SW Beav-Hillsdale, going toward Portland, in between Hall and Watson. Tri-met driver pulls up next to me, honks and speeds away after scaring the shit out of me from her air horn going of next to my ear. She too was in a rush to come to a dead stop at the next red light. With her, I too ask if there was a problem, to which she replies that there’s a sign saying I have to walk my bike. I tell her that I’m allowed to ride in the road like her, but she speeds away before I can tell her the sign applies to people with bikes on the sidewalk. I guess this bus driver thinks it’s smart/funny/just to try and scare bikers and nearly cause them to go under the bus itself.

3. This am, NW Portland – don’t know which street I was on. Almost doored. Common driver’s mistake. Fortunately the driver caught her door before it swung all the way open and knocked my face in.

Becky
Guest
Becky

Last March, on my 1st day riding in Portland (I had just moved from Seattle where I biked to school daily), I was doored. I had just been at Wild Oats and was traveling north on 28th. A lady in an SUV opened her door right in front of me. Even though I was riding a fair distance from the parked cars, the SUV’s door was extra wide (that 3.5 ft – 4 ft distance most safety manuals and bike lanes recommend is way too short..). I swerved but my handle bars hit and I went flying into the road, landing on my head. Luckily I was wearing a helmet and mostly had superficial injuries, though I spent a few hours in the emergency room and was shook up for a few days. I was lucky to have a driver who felt bad about the incidence and put her phone number in my backpack before the ambulance came. But no one asked her too – I was suprised the bystanders or ambulance didnt make sure she gave me her information (I was pretty out of it right after the collision).

Two weeks ago I was riding down NE Broadway near 28th in the bike lane. A lady turned right in front of me to parallel park. I had to brake hard and still hit her, but at low enough speed that I wasn’t hurt when I fell over. She, however, didn’t notice, and simply continued to park and leisurely get out of her car. I had to yell at her for her to even realize I was there, and still she did not acknowledge that anything really happened. She simply stared at me and said “I apologize” sarcastically only after some bystanders confirmed that she had indeed turned in front of me.

All in all, I think most bike lanes are traps, disasters waiting to happen, and try to avoid them. I try to ride in the lane on most streets even though that often means getting honked at by an angry driver that speeds by. At least in the lane they are guarenteed to see me and will only hit me on purpose (which of course is possible but not as likely as being hit by accident/negligence).

Mark
Guest
Mark

Too many to count, here are a few:

Struck in the bike lane at 16th(?) and Everett by right hand turning auto (turning onto I-405 SB) while riding in the bike lane. May 2001, filed a DMV report. Bruised ribs, could not ride bike for 8 weeks.

My daily commute is from Goose Hollow to SE Portland. The near misses consistantly happen in the same places, which I think illustrates a traffic design problem. The three most common “close call” points are:

Uphill from Goose Hollow to 405 on SW Columbia.
There are always fast, impatient cars there. I encounter an aggressive passer and/or yelling driver every month or so. Bike lane would make much more sense going uphill on Columbia instead of downhill on Jefferson (which is unsafe).

start of Hawthorne bridge EB. traffic on the side onramp often does not wait/pay attention or blocks the crosswalk that cyclists must take.

SE Hawthorne EB between Grand and SE 12th. Once a month or so, a driver will turn right across the bike lane, almost striking me. I think these drivers do not realize that cyclists in this lane ride at or close to posted speed and misjudge it.

I had a close call a month ago. While stopped at a red light SB on SE 34th at Belmont, a driver in a van passed me on the left and made a right hand turn as the light turned green, almost striking me and two pedestrians in the crosswalk. This was approx. 7:30 AM.

Webly Bowles
Guest
Webly Bowles

1. N. Minnesota Ave and Alberta.
2. Every morning and evening I see cars coming off the freeway or
going on the freeway that barely look for others before yielding
(there is a stop sign). Cyclists in at intersection are so often
ignored because they aren’t getting on or off the freeway.
2. Traveling East on Alberta. Stop at sign. Car to the left, traveling
in the same direction, doesn’t use blinker and tries to turn right
onto I-5.
3. I am from N. Portland, Overlook neighborhood. 2 blocks north of
this intersection.

1. N. Albina and Alberta.
2. I was turning left (west) from Albina to Alberta. Left hand out in
the signaling way, waiting for the light to turn green. A car pulled
up to my right and told me to get on the sidewalk. I told him that’s
illegal and how bikers get hit. Ignoring the rest of his yells I
turned left when the traffic was clear, as did he, turning the same
direction on my right side onto Alberta. He nearly ran into me,
knowing full well I was there. I yelled and he stopped abruptly in the
middle of the road. Again, I swirved to not hit his car. He got out
and I was scared for my life that I was going to get beat for making a
legal left hand turn.
3. Overlook Neighborhood.

1. NE MLK and Columbia Blvd.
2. Traveling north on MLK, in bike lane. Pick up truck, traveling in
the same direction in car lane. The truck turns right (east) on
Columbia Blvd. (without using a blinker) while I am crossing the
intersection, turning into me, knocking me off my bike and across the
intersection.
3. Overlook Neighborhood.

All of these have happened during daylight hours.

Seth
Guest

Just last night, as I was riding home I had my most recent close call.

It was at the intersection of Teal and Murray Blvd. in Beaverton. I was on Murray, headed south. I was riding in a traffic lane, and was stopped at the very front with cars lining up behind me, waiting for the light to change from green to red. I was in the traffic lane because the next block, where I make a left hand turn is really short.

As the light changed from red to green, I pushed off and snapped back into my right pedal. I was about a 1/4 of the way through the intersection, when a woman on Teal decided not to pay attention to the red light. And it had been red for a LONG TIME. . .at least 30 seconds. She zoomed about a foot in front of me, and never looked back.

So had she punched the gas a few seconds sooner, I might have been t-boned.

I’ve been hit before, spit at, verbally assaulted, had cans full of soda thrown at me, and even called out to fight. But I still ride to work, for fun, for fitness. Close calls are part of the game. They are not fun, but, if you have your wits about you, you can minimize most of your chances of being taken out.

One other note on anyone who says “luckily I was wearing a helmet.” Wearing a helmet is not luck. It’s using your noggin — if you want to turn into a drooling pile of goo, ride a bike without a helmet. There is no luck involved.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Heading up (North) on MLK last week at about 6PM, as I was riding to the right in the right lane many cars were passing in the same lane very closely to me–too close. As I approached an intersection, the space available on the right side became extremely narrow just as a very large trailer truck was passing me in my lane leaving me no option but to stop suddenly and hope that the rear wheels of the truck didn’t wipe me out. The driver obviously had absolutely NO intent to share the road with me. Then, as I continued to head further North, I decided to ride out further in the lane such that cars (and trucks) would be forced to go into the left lane to pass me. Shortly after this, a woman in a black four door japanese-made sedan passed me while honking repeatedly I guess to let me know she didn’t think I should have a right to be on the road. By the way, her car had a british flag bumper sticker, so if you see her, be sure to give her my regards. Thanks.

John Judy
Guest
John Judy

I experienced an extremely unsettling confrontation with an employee of the bureau of Development Services. I was verbally assaulted and physically threatened by a city employee driving a Bureau of Development Services vehicle while attempting to commute to work. The driver threatened me both with the car and by stepping out of the car and chasing me.

At around 9:20AM I was heading West on Clinton at approximately 20 mph on my bicycle. As I was approaching SE 22nd Ave., I noticed a city sedan (id 991048) heading south on 22nd run the stop sign and stop with his car blocking the first 1/2 of the right hand lane of Clinton. After a split second, without looking left (where I was), he continues out into the intersection to the point where he complete blocked both lanes, finally looking left and slamming on the brakes when he saw me. I was forced to hit my brakes and swerve. I barely managed to avoid becoming part of his Dodge.

I shouted “nice driving”, to which he replied “f**k you. I went a few more meters to rub off speed, and then turned around to try to get his plate number. I turned right on 22nd and give chase. He sped down 22nd but apparently saw me. He quickly, without signaling, slammed on his brakes and swerved to the curb. He then jumped out of his car and ran directly at me, waving his arms and shouting “You’re lucky I’m at work as**ole”. I swerved to avoid him, and (as I was afraid for my safety at this point) got far enough ahead that I felt he could not catch me should I need to take off again. I stopped and began record information on my cell phone. He got back in his car, yelling something about calling his super visor, and drove the car to within a foot on my rear wheel, then swerved, stopped to say “I hope you get it right, I didn’t run that stop sign” before sped off.

This man broke the law, put my life in danger, and threatened me, all the while driving a car I pay for and drawing a salary I pay for as well.

This is unacceptable.

Jeff S.
Guest
Jeff S.

the Right Hook

about 2 weeks ago I was ambling (about 10 mph) along the bike lane on SW Broadway, when, as i approached the intersection with Taylor St. a car pulled just past me — not far enough for me to see the right rear taillight — and proceeded to make a right turn into the space i was about to occupy. Since i was moving quite slowly, and had a funny feeling about
it a few seconds in advance, it was really pretty easy for me to stop, but i was really upset by the fact that this guy seemed oblivious to my presence (how could he have not seen me as he passed?). I screamed “WAKE UP!”, & he slowed after having turned the corner and yelled back “You Wake Up!” Well,
in fact i was awake, which is why i didn’t T-bone myself into the side of his car, but he was gone & having a discussion of who was or wasn’t awake would likely not have worked at that point.

Drivers often pass me & then make a quick right turn in front of me, but it’s always been an irritating & rude thing (can’t you just wait 5 seconds for me to clear the intersection so you can turn..?), & never felt
especially dangerous. This was just a case of out-and-out obliviousness, & i’m still puzzled as to what the guy might have been thinking…

Anne
Guest

Just this week I had an extremely frightening experience as I was approaching the light at NE MLK and Lloyd Boulevard. I was coming up the hill eastbound, just a little bit past where the bike lane shifts in one lane from the shoulder. As I neared the intersection, the light changed, stopping MLK traffic, and allowing westbound Lloyd Blvd. traffic to proceed. But someone coming down MLK ran the red light. He would have hit the cars starting to cross on Lloyd, but he quickly pulled a hard right, tires screaming, onto westbound Lloyd ahead of them. Needless to say, his turn was very wide and very fast, and had I been closer to the light, I most likely would have been run down.

I had an even closer brush with death a few months ago, when I was crossing East Burnside from south to north on (I think) 22nd. This was during the thick of evening rush hour, and I had to wait a good long time for an opportunity to cross. While I was waiting, a small pickup truck stopped opposite me, waiting to make a left into the eastbound lane, but of course since I had been waiting first I had the right of way. (Ha.) When I finally got a chance to go, I hesitated long enough to make sure he wasn’t going to go, albeit only briefly so I could make the crossing in time. I had a close eye on him because he was doing the head-flail thing — you know, looking left and right repeatedly really, really fast, probably without truly seeing anything — but because he didn’t go right away, I thought he had seen me. Next thing I know, I’m in the middle of crossing the eastbound lane, and he floors it. I really thought I was toast, but he saw me in time to swerve around me — probably only because I was yelling my head off and his windows were open. He never slowed down.

James
Guest

Around the third week of September, I was riding in Hillsboro (on 229th by Intel) and was turning left to go into the parking lot. This guy in a blue Subaru WRX (with custom wheels and one of those mufflers that sounds like a chainsaw) passes me… As we are turning left. If I had been any closer to him, I would’ve been on the ground, a bleeding mess.

I yelled at him to obey traffic laws (however, I was quite vulgar in doing so)… Probably didn’t do any good… He probably assumed there are not such things.

Steve Long
Guest
Steve Long

Last Sunday, June 12th, 2005 I narrowly escaped injury while riding my bicycle south on 82nd Dr. just south of Highway 212. I was clearly and legally in the bicycle lane and a motorist came so close to me as to frighten me nearly off my bike. As the driver passed, I noticed that his blonde female passenger snarled at me and jerked her thumb to the right as if to say, get over. I was a little confused by this as I was already in the bike lane so I went to ride up alongside of them to find out what I might have been doing wrong. As I did this, they moved their vehicle over to the right completely obstructing the bicycle lane. I then moved out into the lane of traffic to come around them, thinking that maybe there were just turning right when the driver of this late model, grey Tahoe or Blazer moved his vehicle back out into the lane of traffic as if to either hit me or force me into the oncoming traffic. At this point I hit the side of his vehicle with my open hand. The driver of the vehicle then pointed his vehicle at me and raced toward me as if to hit me. He got out of his vehicle and we had words while he was trying to provoke me to hit him. When I told him that I wouldn’t hit him, he kicked me but I was able to block his kick with my bike. This man’s behavior was so bad that a person, driving behind us that had seen the whole thing, stopped and offered me his phone number and said he’d be a witness. The man confirmed my version of what had happened additionally.

On Monday, I called the Clackamas County Sheriff’s office to report this behavior as it seemed like something should be done about a person that tries to run bicycles down with their vehicle. Case number 213 was opened at that time and Deputy Adams called me back. Deputy Adams empathized with me about the behavior of this driver but said there wasn’t much he could do about it but call the person and perhaps document it so that it would be on the driver’s record. I relented and we terminated the conversation. In the meantime, I had been talking to an attorney, which was telling me that this man’s behavior was indeed illegal and that I had to push to get anything done. I called back and talked to the Sergeant in charge of the day shift that day who confirmed what Deputy Adams had told me earlier. At that time I asked the Sergeant that if I was to throw a knife and miss somebody if that would be a crime and he said no, it would be attempted assault and that someone from their office would have to witness it for it to be a crime. I have a hard time believing, however, that if someone threw a knife and one of the Deputies or Sergeants, that the person would not be arrested as it would more likely be attempted homicide rather than attempted assault. My assertion here is that this man used his vehicle in much the same fashion and if we let him continue about his merry business, he’s going to kill somebody with that weapon of a vehicle of his.

Offending vehicle license number: 289 BKC
Driver description: Male, approximately 5’ 10” to 5’ 11”, 180 to 190 lbs.

theresa
Guest
theresa

* se 70th and division
* minding my own business, riding as far to the right as i could without crashing into parked cars. rush-hour morning traffic is speeding past me, a car leans on its horn, startling me into almost crashing, and nearly side-swipes me as it speeds by.
*i’m from the hawthorne/mt. tabor area.

Ann
Guest
Ann

I was crossing over the Broadway Bridge on my way downtown when a car in the center lane took a free right hand turn. There is no free right hand turn heading west over the bridge. There was already a car stopped at the red light in the designated turn lane. I had a green light on the bike signal and proceeded to go when the car making the illegal turn nearly hit me. Not too mention that when they turned they were entering into the oncoming lane since there aren’t two lanes going right on the Broadway Bridge. Had I not been stopped at the red light before it turned green and had been going full speed off the bridge hitting a green bike light there would have been another bike fatality last month. Broadway is a hellacious ride every day. I am constantly getting cut off, turned in front of and edged out of the bike lane because of drivers who are in hurry or not paying attention.

david
Guest
david

The traffic control islands (circles) in Ladd and along SE Clinton.

I’ve had numerous close calls in these areas. I don’t have any exact dates but here are some examples of the most memorable instances. Traveling south along the north section of Ladd, I had a huge pickup race past me around the circle nearly running me into the curb. He had is hand out the window with that all too familiar salute. At the time, I was traveling just above 20 mph too (the speed limit is 25). Needless to say, I caught up to him at the center of Ladd when he reached the stop sign. I then (not one of my best moves) returned his salute. As we continued through the center of Ladd, he turned on the diagonal just before 16th – also cutting me off again. So, I ‘saluted’ again and then continued on my way, turning on 16th. I then hear his brakes screach and I look back to see him backing back into the circle and coming after me with the wheels ‘a squeelin’. I stop on the side of the road – not wanting to be chased and ran down. He squeals to a stop inches from me and jumps out of his truck screaming that he could have and should have just ran me over. I try to explain that I have the right of way in a situation like this only to have him get directly in my face and threaten my life. I then decided it was time to take off. This dude scared the crap out of me – and I ride all the time (I have no car).

I also have had a few instances of almost having head on collisions with cars that have turned left in intersections with these circles without going around the circle. The best part about this is that with the plants growing in these circles, you can’t even see that the car is coming. I have to mention this has happened even more often from me with other cyclists though.

I also had an instance along the south section of Ladd where a driver floored it and swerved around the wrong side of the circle to pass me. Again, I was traveling somewhere between 20 and 25 mph. He had to have sped up to at least 40 to pass me as quickly as he had. Of course, I also caught up with him at the light on Division. I pulled up next to him and asked what the h*ll he was doing to which he repeated over and over “I gave you enough room”. This was his chant even to my comment that it was a residential area with many children living in it as well as a school only blocks away. I guess that didn’t matter.

I now make sure I am directly in the center of the lane when approaching these areas.

Oh, I just thought of a kind of humorous incident too which happened earlier this summer at the intersection where 12th, Burnside and Sandy all come together. I was traveling south on 12th and stopped at the light in the left lane (so that I could make the turn onto 11th after the light). A big 70’s boat of a car rolled up behind me – I glanced back as he pulled up since he sounded kind of close. The guy looked a little ‘out of it’, but I didn’t really think about it. I turned back around to watch the light and after a few seconds, I feel a bump from behind. I turn back around to see the guy seem to startle himself awake as he rolls into my back tire. No damage or anything – it was really just a tap, but still!

Thanks so much for setting this up! I’ve been thinking there should be a way for cyclists to communicate to each other about bad areas and also bad drivers. Maybe even a posting of license plates and car descriptions of the some of the most dangerous drivers. I know I’ve had run ins with a few that really feel justified in running a cyclist down for being on the road.

Michael
Guest
Michael

This is a comment related to this issue.

The increased incidence of motorist/bike/pedestrian problems might be correlated to a decrease in respect for and compliance with traffic laws in general.

I am a cyclist, pedestrian, and occassional motorist. In all three contexts there appears to be a significant increase in unsafe behaviors. There also seems to be a general decrease in police intervention.

Pedestrians frequently jaywalk; cyclists run lights/stop signs, use the wrong side of the street, ride without lights after dark; motorists speed, run lights/stop signs, drive aggressively, etc.

By simple observation, it appears that police have increased enforcement of traffic laws in downtown Portland, especially with regard to pedestrians and cyclists. Again by simple observation, it seems police enforcement of traffic laws in all other respects has decreased to a noticable degree.

In particular it is very easy to witness red lights being run at almost every light cycle at almost any major intersection in Portland as well as gross speeding on every class of street.

I have personally witnessed many cases of dangerous violations in full view of marked police cars where no police action followed. I have been personally put at risk in some of these same situations.

The unhappy result is the increase of fatalities and injuries to cyclists and pedestrians that we are seeing lately.

A suggestion is that the Portland police need to begin to enforce traffic laws. They need to pay special attention to the class of violations that pose the greatest danger. In particular speeding and stop sign/red light running need to be dramatically reduced.

Randall
Guest
Randall

As a cyclist who for two years had commuted into downtown Portland from the Hawthorne district, I have had more close calls with other cyclists than with cars. I have had close calls with cars, nonetheless. The close calls I have had with cyclists have mostly been because the other cyclists were riding on the wrong side of the road or they were blowing intersections; not stopping for red lights or stop signs or not yielding right of way to the vehicle that was at an unmarked intersection first. It seems to me that, while a great deal of Portland cyclists are into obeying the law and practicing safety, too many cyclists are determined that doing so isn’t cool, just as it isn’t cool to wear a helmet.

Jeffery
Guest
Jeffery

I had a close call with a cyclist yesterday in the area around 26th and holgate. The cyclist was riding “hands free”, arms outstretched and had headphones on – singing away. They could not stay in the bike lane for some reason. I could not veer around them because 26th is a pretty narrow street in that area. Instead I slowed to 8 mph until the cyclist became aware that they were putting their life in danger needlessly.

I guess its not cool to ride in the bike lane, just like its not cool to stop at intersections or wear a freaking helmet.

As a survivor of a near fatal car/cyclist wreck a few years ago, I urge all cyclists please maintain traffic awareness while riding on the street.

carrie
Guest
carrie

I have had too many run ins with tri-met drivers. I am a responsible bike rider. I am aware that buses can not always see me as well and i never cut them off when they are trying to pull out. Just last week, as i was riding up lincoln, I was almost run off the rode by a tri-met driver. I was riding up lincoln and about to go by a median in the rode, there was a bus turning (2 streets behind me) onto lincoln from 52nd. As i approached the median the bus sped up and tried to drive around it at the same time.I as almost knocked off of my bike and had to put my foot up on the curb. I had a similar experience downtown on market street (?) A bus came up from behind me and tried to go through a very tight space (a median) at the same time as me. Then a few blocks later he pulled into my lane. It seemed like he did it on purpose. I don’t know if anyone else has problems with tri met drivers, but they are a source fear for me. I do see many bicyclists cutting off buses and riding carelessly, so i do understand bus drivers’ anger with bikers. I think we all need to be more careful. It angers me when bus drivers are so careless…all it takes is once.

jordan
Guest
jordan

i’ve had several close calls on Hawthorne going east, right before the Burgerville on 12th, where the trafic merges from two lanes to one. many times car drivers do not want to allow a bike to merge lanes here and i’m nearly hit.

chris
Guest
chris

I do not ride through this intersection but there is a problem with East Broadway and N Williams. If you head east on Broadway and want to go straight past the N. Williams intersection you head straight past one lane on your left that can turn right to go on N williams and onto
I-5. I saw someone the other day almost get hit here b/c someone wasnt paying attention when they were turning right onto N Williams. There are marked bike lanes but they go straight through this hazard. Bad engineering for bikes.
I had a close encounter with a guy in a pickup over by the Darigold plant near OMSI- he drove up on me and was about a foot off my back tire for about 30 seconds- not fun, didnt get his plate (unfortunately)

mike
Guest
mike

I work as a driver, and am around downtown a majority of my shift.

I want to make a counterpoint of bycyclists who do not obey the laws. Twice in the past week, I have had riders run red lights, with the latter time I hit the rider, and knocked them onto the ground, as I was passing through with the green light. Fortunately, they only had bumps and bruises, and were able to continue (after I verbally scolded them for running a red light). They are doing the right thing, and offered to pay for my broken turn signal lamp, and would not report to the police.

I am on your side, but you need to start policing your own for safety’s sake. The person I hit, I NEVER saw them, until they were right in front of me, and there is NO way I could have avoided the contact.

PLEASE obey the traffic laws

Bryan
Guest
Bryan

That’s a fair point Mike – there is a problem with shitty cyclists not obeying the laws and putting themselves, and others, in danger. That problem is exaserbated because its these dolts – who ride on the wrong side of the road, run lights, don’t signal, etc – that people remember more than the hords of respectful and law abiding bikers that are more abundant in our good city.

But I think the idea of “policing our own” misses the point. What a majority of the people here have been mentioning is that while bikers have to (and should) be in the street and are legally regarded as a vehicle by the state, often they aren’t given the respect on the road needed to lessen the chance for a collision; likewise, when an accident does occur, the normal venues for grievance and restitution for motorists are closed to cyclists. As the WW and the O pointed out recently, bikers who are hit (and live) and who can show the accident was no fault of their own have little legal recourse, with the police able to do little to help. What we’re trying to say (and I think you understand this) is that there are legitimate problems with how certain roads and drivers accomodate us – some do so very well, others not at all – and that, for all of our safety, it needs to be addressed – not just by bikers, but by the community as well.

Ideas like “policing our own” also perpetuate the double-standard that bikers need to take the first step to solving this problem, instead of it being a joint biker/driver/walker endeavor to keep everyone safe. Drivers certainly don’t feel obliged to police other drivers – that’s kind of why we have police. All we bikers can do is the same thing drivers do – yell at the idoits we see on the road that give us all a bad name, encourage others to behave better, and report the gross offenders.

But lastly, I just want to say that while Stumptown does have its share of biker/car problems, we all are definitely in a better place than in many other communities across the nation. As a native Texan I recently tried to ride a bike near my father’s home outside Dallas – where highways take the place of roads, and bike lanes are virtually non-existant. Talk about a place where drivers have no respect for bikers, and Lance Armstrong (a Texan as well) just won the Tour de France. I’m just glad that here in Portland, we’re trying to better an already good environment for biking, rather than having to fight for our rights while having no protection or respect on the road.

Alec
Guest
Alec

On the 8th of this month I was nearly hit by a big white pick-up truck, which pulled quickly out onto 23rd street, one block N of Sandy, moving directly towards me at a quick speed. The driver was looking the other direction the whole time, until he was litteraly in the middle of the street, before screeching to a stop- as did I. 23rd is not a one-way street, or even close to it.

I have close calls like these nearly every day. I am convinced that automobiles are not suited to share the road with more civilised forms of transportation.

Neil
Guest
Neil

This morning at 4.15 am on the way to People’s food co-op.After turning from N.Mississippi on to N.Interstate,I had just crossed the light where the road splits,the right side goes up onto the Broadway bridge, and the left (straight) carry’s on along Interstate to the convention center.I was on the bike lane which goes up the middle of this split,I started hearing a truck coming up behind me,the front truck part came alongside and past,then when I was about in the middle of the trailer,all of a sudden he indicated to go right and started heaing over towards me.I immiately swerved off to the right with only inches to spare from going under the rear wheels.Anyone riding along that part of North Interstate becareful of the trucks coming out of the Albina yards, there is a corner at Interstate and Albina that the bad drivers cut,with the rear axle cutting into the bike lane.Someone is going to get killed their.
Yes I have had lot’s of close calls, but even though it’s probably not a good idea,i get my own back when they are out of their WMD and walking on the esplanade.I want to get a nice loud boat airhorn….

Jesse
Guest

I have close calls almost every time I commute by bike. Making a left turn is always frightening; to get into the turn lane I have to go from the bike lane and across a lane of traffic. Sometimes I’ve missed my turn b/c I was unable to get over. Another daily complaint is that cars never leave enough passing room. When I’m driving, if there’s nobody coming, I pull into the other lane to give cyclists room. I’ve also had experiences similar to several described here: getting run off the road (into the dirt, baby!) by a speeding pickup truck (up NE 15th before that intersection w/ the minimart); having a truck (or van) get just barely in front of me when I’m riding in the bike lane, then signal and make a right turn into a parking lot or onto another street, forcing near collisions and a dangerous yank on the brakes (this has happened multiple times, two of them close to MLK and SE Clay); trying to merge lanes w/ a line of cars who won’t make way & don’t care that there’s no place else for me to go. A lot of bicyclists commute during rush hour, and for the same reason as the drivers; and during rush hour, drivers tend to be more irritable, inattentive, and hasty. Everybody should just chill out.

bEn
Guest
bEn

I biked to school almost every morning on a very old and horrible bike. This bike could not keep up with traffic, so I would either be in the bike lane or the farthest right. When going to school near 6th and 405 I have to go on 6th in order to get into downtown, or else I would have to go on the highway which I can’t. So when I am on 6th I go to the farthest right and am always honked at by a incredibly loud airhorn from the bus. On the beginning of 6th there is a place where two roads meet, right before a stop light. When turning to the very right a bus nearly hit me because of the speed I was going. Now, I have no other choice but to take the sidewalk to prevent from me being injured.

In many parts of downtown, the street train tracks are always in the way. There is no bike lane so bikers have to go on the street train tracks. My and many other bikers tires get caught in the tracks and we fall over. Other cars have nearly ran me over while I was down on the ground.

When I have to bike home late at night because the busses are shut down. I have to take an extra long way home because of the amount of drunk drivers in downtown. I see them zooming by as they yell thing at me, so I try to take the sidewalks. There, I am hassled and in one case have been mugged and my now new bike almost stolen when I was on it.

Biking in Portland is not a safe place and I can see why many bikers are switching to cars.

setha
Guest
setha

My tri-met close call happened at about 9AM 11/17/2004. Here’s the email I sent to customerservice@trimet.org, edited to remove my identifying information and to fix spelling. And, no, I’m not the same Seth that had the close call near Murray and Teal.

—-start of first email to tri-met—-

Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 2004 9:27 AM
To: customerservice@trimet.org
Subject: bus yield sign when I cannot see it

I rode my bicycle to work this morning. I think that one of your buses cut me off. I wasn’t hit by the bus, but I was annoyed.

Here’s what happened. I was going eastbound on Capitol, at the intersection of Capitol and Terwilleger. The right hand lane there is right turn only, except for buses. So, I moved into the center lane on Capitol, since I wanted to go straight.

There is a #44 bus stop on Capitol at that point, in the right turn lane. That’s why buses are allowed to go straight, despite the right turn only lane.

The light turned red for me. So, I stopped. I was the first vehicle at the red light. The bus pulled up to the stop after the light turned red. So, the bus was behind me on my right.

The light turned green. I started to go. Then I could not help but notice an enormous bus coming up on my right, about to cut me off. So, I stopped, mid-intersection. Having no choice in the matter, I allowed the bus to pass. Only _after_ the bus got in front of me did I see the yield sign blinking.

Buses with their yield signs blinking are entitled to the right of way. However, I have to be able to see that yield sign in order to know to yield to it. Since I was unable to see the blinking yield sign, I should not have had to yield to the bus. The bus driver should have waited for me.

I caught up with the bus (2549 in white letters on the back of the bus) at Hamilton and Barbur. I tried explaining this, politely, to the driver, but I am afraid I was not able to get the point across.

Since you have many other drivers, I thought that I should also write to you about this. I think that if drivers of whatever vehicle cannot see the blinking yield sign, it is unreasonable to expect them to yield to it. Therefore, when the driver turns on the yield sign, any vehicle already ahead of the back of the bus should be allowed to proceed, I think.

—-end of 1st email I sent to Tri-met—-

The Tri-Met representative wrote back (I have removed his identifying information since I don’t have permission to publish it in a blog:)

—-email from tri-met to me follows—-

This e-mail is in response to your report from 11-17 about the bus at Terwilliger and Capitol that passed you on your right side after you had started moving ahead when the light turned green. I just spoke to the operator and his version pretty much matches your report except he mentioned at that location that the bus gets a priority light when it’s in the right lane which gives the bus an opportunity to get ahead of traffic that is stopped to the left before that traffic gets a green. He said he proceeded when his light turned green and made the assumption that you would remain stopped. I do see in your report however that you mentioned you had gotten ahead of the bus. The operator was advised that he always has to be extra careful when proceeding around bicyclists. Is there additional information that I should know about?

—-end of email from tri-met to me—-

I replied:

I had thought that all the eastbound traffic had the green. Thanks for the follow-up.

—-end of my reply—-

Yes, I know that the reply was somewhat lame, but I had the feeling that I was not going to get anywhere with them.

What I should have emailed was that apparently the bus had not started when the right turn arrow turned green. So by the time it managed to get going, I had the green. So the bus should have waited for me.

–setha

An automobile driver
Guest
An automobile driver

Yesterday, I was late for an appointment (bad traffic, the irony!!!!) and there was this biker going probably 7 or 8 miles per hour in a 25mph zone. She was towards the right of the lane and had just entered a stretch where there was about 150 feet of wide shoulder to the right of the traffic lane. I couldn’t cross the center line because of traffic, and she seemed to be considerately easing into that space so I speed up–but then she weaved back towards the traffic lane! I probably came within two feet of hitting her. Sorry! I believe the incident was on 15th and Lovejoy (under the highway). Yes, I think she was riding foolishly, but I should have been a bit more patient. Thus the apology. Sorry!

Tina
Guest
Tina

This was around sometime in may by anna banana’s coffee shop in NW.
I was almost doored by some jerk in a jeep. He was not paying attention at all, and had I not been, I would be hurt. I swerved, my heart racing wildly. I was in the street, not on the sidewalk since it is a heavily populated area.
I feel a little bad because directly afterwards I said “that fag almost doored me” so if anyone was there and heard me say it, I’m sorry I used the word fag. The guy didn’t even notice, and I didn’t say anything to him, as I’ve noticed it’s really pointless to even say anything; drivers are stupid and they are simply sheep waiting for the lights (their pastor) to turn so they can be lead.

I live on Belmont, right on the bike lane. When I get into my car, I ALWAYS look for cyclists, to make sure I don’t cross in front of them. I don’t mind waiting the extra .5 seconds. I am not that impatient.

Sarah Friedel
Guest
Sarah Friedel

I now have two scary memories of deliberate, threatening aggression aimed at me from a guy in a motor vehicle (and in both cases there was a passenger who was also a male).

Wed. evening, Aug. 10, 2005, I was preparing to cross N. Interstate Ave. at N. Overlook Blvd. (by Kaiser), heading east. The intersection was empty except for one car waiting to go north. I was on a BikeE and when the light turned green, I started up. I had thoughtlessly taken a drink of water and as I was putting my bottle back, my foot slipped off the pedal, so I got a slow start. My husband on his BikeE was 3/4 of the way across when I was only approaching the median. The E-W light is very short — too short in my opinion unless you stop and push the “walk” button — and sure enough, it turned yellow on me when I was in the middle of the street.

I looked straight at the one driver in the intersection and waved at him as in “thank you for letting me finish this crossing” and continued hustling my butt across. The fact that my husband had already crossed was a factor in my not deciding to stop on the median. We are both borderline senior citizens; my grey hair around my helmet and my husband’s grey beard are both quite visible. For whatever reason, drivers usually insist on indulging us by waiting until we both complete a crossing, although of course we don’t expect them to and normally both cross before a light turns.

But this guy was different. Not showing any sign of objection, resistance or irritation, he held on until I was exactly in front of his car, when, no doubt, his light turned green. Instantly he floored his accelerator and vroomed north, tires squealing. He turned his wheel about 30 degrees to the left so as not to actually hit me. His car jumped as he accelerated. As I briefly glanced at him and his also-male passenger, I knew I was not going to be struck, but his violent eruption of power was meant to scare the shit out of me. I’m glad that at least he was a good enough driver that his steering correction was effective.

When I began bike-commuting in 1998, a guy in a giant pickup with a young boy in the passenger seat purposely veered over to the very edge of my bike lane on the Willamette Blvd. bluff. I don’t know if he actually wanted me to lose control and fly off into the abyss, but that certainly could have happened.

I have had the usual experiences of drivers putting me in danger because they did not see me when they should have, but the two incidents above are reminders that bike-haters do exist in our bike-friendly town; people-haters, actually.

Michael
Guest
Michael

Two more close calls on my 30 minute, 5.5 mile ride home from work downtown to home by Mt Tabor today.

(A bike ride home ought to be a relaxing and refreshing way to commute that brings exercise and low cost. Very angry is how it too often leaves me!)

Crossing the Hawthorne Bridge, about 3 pm, going east on the viaduct I was cut off by a motorist turning right onto the MLK off ramp. This end of the viaduct has a very good bike lane – no complaints there, it is a model bike lane. There is a wide sidewalk for walkers, a wide bike lane, then about a 10 foot white striped buffer zone before the first lane of motor traffic. As I was approaching the MLK southbound turn off, in the bike lane, I put out my left hand in a semi-left turn gesture to let traffic know I was going to continue straight ahead, in the bike lane. As I always do, I looked back as I approached the blue marked bike lane, where motorists are clearly signed to yield, and saw an SUV barreling up the striped buffer lane where no traffic was allowed. She was headed straight for me and was clearly not slowing down at all. If I had not quickly swerved toward the sidewalk she would have hit me broadside at 30 mph! As it was, all I could see what that she DID look right at me without surprise and continue on her trajectory. All I could do was slow, notice her open windows, and scream a stream of obscenities. If she had stopped at the bottom of the ramp, it would have been hard to not to follow her. As it was, I watched her enter traffic and aggressively change lanes in dense traffic to move to the left side of MLK.

The next incident was on SE Clinton at about 34th, at the traffic circle. A driver to my left, on the side street, stopped at their stop sign to turn left on Clinton. I could see the woman driver look to her right, directly at me in my bright orange vest, then pull ahead to make a left by rounding the traffic circle. If I had not slowed I would have broadsided her. As it was, in spite of her need to cut me off, she drove slowly enough from there that I was able to overtake her. As above, her windows were open and she heard some explitives that would make Dick Cheney blush.

I feel like many motorists simply won’t take bikes seriously. With their comments about moving off to the sidewalks, etc, it seems like they equate bike with toys and riders as annoying children to be punished.

I am not even a crazy youthful biker! I am a short haired middle aged man who not only wears a helmet, but a bright orange highway worker’s vest, too. I just want to get home safely and use the most conservative route I know. Regardless, I am all too often treated like crap by drivers who seem to have nearly zero regard for anything other than their speed and convenience. It is very difficult to not get upset and angry when it appears nothing will ever be done on the cyclist’s behalf. Maybe you can do something. I sure hope so.

Stuart Griffith
Guest
Stuart Griffith

Felony hit-and-run:

I was waiting to cross the street at 52nd and Foster on the south side of Foster. The walk light turned to “walk” and just as I stepped off the curb, a bicyclist zoomed by me going at least 20-30 mph and hit my arm. I yelled for her to stop but she didn’t. My arm was cut very deeply and bleeding. I went to a nearby restaurant and they gave me a towel to stop the bleeding. I took the bus to the emergency room and I got 8 stitches. The bill for the emergency room was $130.

There needs to be some restraint on this sort of arrogant behavior by cyclists. I have had this happen to me many many times. They seem to have some kind of sport about how close they can come to threaten a pedestrian. This was just the one time there was a felony hit-and-run involved.

corina
Guest
corina

I have commuted by bike for years, through many different neighborhoods, and I can honestly say that nearly every day I have a negative experience with a motorist. Right now I live on SE 50th & Stark, and I work downtown. Last Tuesday, Aug. 9th, around 5 pm I was riding down SE Stark near 39th, when a lady in a minivan cut me off, passing me on the left with barely an inch to spare. That part of Stark, right by Laurelhurst, always has lots of cars parked on the side of the road, and it’s a single-lane street. I guess instead of driving into oncoming traffic, she decided she could squeeze by me. I almost hit a parked car trying to get out of her way. And I was keeping up with traffic! I was not slowing anyone down. I caught up with her and yelled that she was going to kill someone if she kept driving like that. She didn’t respond. Then I pulled in front of her so she couldn’t pass (I don’t advocate this behavior, but she deserved it!) and rode a bit slower. A ways down the road, Stark splits into 2 lanes, and I got over into the right lane. She streaked by and swore at me. I ended passing her eventually, lawfully. When will drivers learn they aren’t saving any time by driving recklessly around cyclists?
I’d like to add that I used to live downtown and regularly rode down Morrison from 18th ave. to 3rd, and back up Yamhill. Those are narrow streets shared with MAX tracks. I cannot count the number of incidents I had on those streets…drivers would pull up onto the tracks to pass me. This includes one particularly scary incident with the #15 bus. A couple years ago, I was riding home about 9 pm up Yamhill around 12th ave, and the bus laid on the horn and sped up so it was right on my tail, scaring the crap out of me, then drove up onto the tracks and narrowly passed me. I jumped the curb onto the sidewalk to avoid him. Thank god there wasn’t a car parked in that spot. I got the license but never complained to Tri-Met. Anyway, I’ve heard lots of horror stories involving Tri-Met drivers vs. cyclists.
On my bike I have a sticker that reads: “Bicycles allowed full lane, ORS 814.430(2)(c)” Everyone should get one!

CH White
Guest
CH White

I was riding last night, 8/12/05, on SE 34th (I think) a couple blocks behind the Zupan’s on Belmont. I had lights and reflectors all over the bike and was riding to the right through the neighborhood. A young woman on a cell phone blew through a stop sign on my left and turned in front of me. I started screaming at her and yelled as she came to the light on Belmont, “you’d better run that one as well because I’m gonna be kicking your bumper!” And she did.
I commute by car to out near Hillsboro and I’m of the opinion that drivers have a gigantic disconnect between what they do and what happens-a nation in denial, everything’s somebody else’s fault. And I’m a firm believer in getting some revenge if possible so when I see someone driving dangerously in a company vehicle I turn their asses in with glee. Also people driving like they’re drunk. Some people just don’t learn through rational discussion.

Grant Swanson
Guest
Grant Swanson

These aren’t near-misses. I was struck in the head either by a mirror or a heavy object on Sept. 11th 2004 at approx. 11pm. My collerbone was broken badly and will never heal. I was on Yamhill near 71st ave. going with gravity down Tabor. I wasn’t wearing a helmet but I always do now. I live in the Woodstock neighborhood and I still bike commute 20 miles per day to the east edge of Gresham. I was also “bumped” off my bike at 52nd and Division in the crosswalk in the winter of 2003-2004. I reported the serious accident to the police and it is an open investigation AKA they will never catch this “good ole boy” hick in a pick-up who has negatively affected me for the rest of my life.

Royston Vasey
Guest
Royston Vasey

About 18 months ago I was driving at 30 mph or less northbound in the right lane on SE 12th Ave between Hawthorne and Belmont when I passed a cyclist on my right. I was fully aware of him and consciously and deliberately gave him such wide berth that I entered slightly into the left lane of traffic. We both had to stop for a red light at 12th & Belmont, where he dismounted his bike and approached the passenger side of my car carrying his bike lock. Foolishly, I thought he was taking a moment to thank me for being such a thoughtful motorist, so you can imagine my surprise when he began to completely destroy the windshield of my car with his lock. Then he tried to open the car door, I’m guessing so as to give me a similar treatment. Luckily, for me the door was locked.

Since bicycles are not required to be registered or display identifying tags or plates, I could only give the cops a general physical description of him and his bike, so of course he has never had to take responsibility for this criminal assault.

If bicyclists want to claim equal right to the use of public roadways, they should be required to register their bikes just like every other vehicle on the street so that when something like this happens, the victim has some recourse.

David B.
Guest

More times than I can count, I’ve had frighteningly close calls on NW Everett St. and 16th Ave NW. The bike lane on that block of NW Everett is incredibly unsafe — it forces bikes (almost all of whom want to continue straight, across I-405) to the right of the cars, about 75% of whom wish to turn right to get onto I-405.

The result is a “cross-cross-crash” where cars make last-minute turns directly in front of bikes. I’ve had to take last-minute evasive maneuvers more than once. It matters not how slow I ride — there’s always a steady stream of cars, with at least one clueless driver who doesn’t see me just waiting to wipe me out. It would be safer to ride in the traffic lane, but (a) the bike lane means cars aren’t expecting that, and (b) it pisses off drivers (and makes them aggressive) when bikes don’t stay in “their” lane.

That bike lane should either be (a) flat-out eliminated, or (b) moved, either to between the two lanes, or to the left side of the street. (a) is probably more practical — the bike lane goes away in another block or so, and at 15th there’s a lot of left turns, which would make a left-hand bike lane equally deadly.

As it stands, it’s just about the most dangerous bike lane I’ve ever seen, anywhere (and I’ve lived in a number of places).

I live in the Goose Hollow/Kings Hill neighborhood.

lexi
Guest
lexi

where to begin? First off, after 3 years of peddling up SW Broadway with right turns cutting me off, almost being rear-ended, having car doors and delivery people flying out at me, pedestrians jaywalking in front of me, etc. I wisened up to an alternative route. But one of my nearest misses comes from an intentional person on Mississippi after Fremont on the way down the big hill. Some jerk decided it would be funny, as I was halfway down the hill and going rather fast, to drive in front of me and slam on his brakes. I almost flew off my bike trying to avoid him and thank goodness there were no other cars around to hit me. I was too shook up to get a license plate number but got a good curse at him in. Other bad places in town include any place the cars need to cross my lane (aka. the bike lane)- NE broadway before I-5, getting on/off the Hawthorne bridge going East, Getting on/off the Broadway bridge- just to name a few. And my final gripe- car drivers and passangers who get a kick out of throwing things at bikers or think it is funny to startle them by yelling at them. I have had both happen on several occassions. For the love of… people, I am just trying to commute, have fun, and be healthy! Whew!! Thanks for listening and doing this piece!

setha
Guest
setha

I’ve have one possible solution to the problems listed in this thread. I’ve been thinking about a second solution as well.

First, to cut down on the right and left hooks, when I see a car in front of me that’s thinking about turning into my path, I yell, “car on the right” or “car on the left”, as appropriate.

This serves several purposes:

A. It lets the driver know that I’m there. Even with the windows closed, I can yell loudly enough that they hear me. Yelling that warning _may_ help stop them from doing something stupid. It won’t stop someone who is intent on being malicious.

B. It’s not an insult. They are, after all, on my right, or left, and, well, they are driving a car. So, me saying “car on the right” is, at worst, simply stating the obvious.

C. It lets Lance and Eddy know to watch out for the car on the left/right. OK, Armstrong and Merckx are really not riding with me. But, my yelling a warning to my hypothetical riding partners gives the impression to the driver that I’m not a lone bicyclist on the road. If the driver thinks there are other bicyclists nearby then maybe s/he’ll be less likely to do something to me. Maybe by the time they figure out I really am a lone bicyclist, I’m past the intersection or driveway.

Second, I’ve been thinking about a bike-cam survellience system. I’d like 4 small video cameras, one mounted near the headlight pointed forward, one near the taillight pointed backward, and one each pointed right and left, maybe near the front fork where my arms and legs would not block the view.

The cameras would feed into a digital video recorder (DVR) that would do a “loop” recording of, say, 10 minutes. That is, I would press the start button on the system, the DVR would start recording. After 10 minutes went by, the DVR would start recording over the video feeds from 10 minutes ago. When I pressed the stop button, the DVR would keep the last 10 minutes of video.

So, every time I went for a ride, I would start the DVR. If I had an incident on the ride, I would stop the camera. I would then finish the ride. I’d then upload the video to my computer, and email it to the authorities. And, maybe, upload the video on a web page so that the bad driver could be viewed by everyone with access to a computer, including the driver’s insurance company and his/her family.

I would like the system to not weigh more than a pound or two, with batteries. The batteries would have to power the system for at least, say, two hours. Longer would be better. The cameras would have to have sufficient resolution to record a license plate.

Additional options that would be nice are:

1. Upload videos to a PDA. If I had an incident on a ride, I could then upload the 10 minutes of video to the PDA, and restart the camera.

2. Even better, have the PDA act as the DVR, rather than requiring a separate DVR unit.

3. Even better than that, have the PDA email an incident video to myself through a WiFi, or a cellular, connection. I would not want to automatically email a video to the authorities, just in case I bumped the “email” button accidentally.

4. Tie-in to my bicycle computer, so that I could know how fast I was going at the time.

5. G-d forbid this is necessary, but an auto shutoff if the bike is no longer upright. That way the DVR does not record over whatever led the bike to no longer be upright, if you know what I mean. If network connectivity is available, if the bike is not upright, the system would also email the last 10 minutes of video. And, yes, in the worst case, this requires someone else knowing how to get into my email to be useful.

Some problems with this idea are:

1. Is it legal to video people on a public street without their permission?

2. I’m guessing that this setup wouldn’t be cheap. Someone might try to steal the bike, maybe while I’m on it, to get the expensive video rig in the pannier.

The big advantage of this idea is that if drivers know that their bad behavior toward bicylists is going to potentially show up on the web, in full motion mutli-angle color video, they might not engage in that bad behavior in the first place.

I have seen web pages advertising systems something like what I describe, but with only one camera, and only for motorcycles. That system ties into the motorcycle’s speedometer and other instruments. That system draws power from the motorcycle’s electric system.

I also know that digital cameras can take short movies. My Olympus can store about 11 minutes of video with sound. But, once its memory is full, it stops recording. If it looped as I described, that camera would be at least a partial solution to the problem.

If you know of a system that does something like what I describe, or even a digital camera that does continuous video looping, could you please post a link here?

Thanks

-setha

Severt
Guest
Severt

About two months ago my son-in-law and I were riding our bikes at Sauvie Island and a local resident drove up to us from behind, came long side us, and started yelling at us to get out “fat asses” off the road. He continued to verbally harangue us for about 2 minutes or so and then drove off with a squeal of tires, spinning rocks out at us from under the tires.

My son-in-law, in his infinite wisdom, decided that was proper cause to flip the driver off and did so. The driver slammed on his brakes and put his car in reverse at a high rate of speed and came right back toward us. I veered off to the left side of the road to avoid him and he came back until he was along side my son-in-law, who continued riding his bicycle forward. The driver then put his car in forward, pulled slightly forward of my son-in-law and then quickly turn to the right and ran him off the road. My son-in-law was able to avoid him by riding into the ditch and the driver did the same thing again. He did this for a total of 4 times and on the fourth attempt my son-in-law went down on his bike in the gravel along side the road.

The driver jumped out of his vehicle and attempted a physical confrontation with my son-in-law who got back on his bicycle and attempted to avoid the driver who was physically blocking his escape path. When it appeared that continued physical conflict was inevitable, I physically intervened by putting my bicycle and myself between the driver and my son-in-law. The driver asked me if I “want some of this too” and I said “sure, I don’t have anything better to do” at which point the situation broke down into some weird legal debate between him and my son-in-law about rules of the road.

After 4 or 5 minutes of this guy yelling, spittle flying, he got back into his car and drove off in another spray of rocks.

We did get his license number and I called the Portland Police when I got back, but I was told that Sauvie Island is out of their jurisdiction. When I asked whose jurisdiction it was, the officer told me he didn’t know but that it might be Multnomah County. I was surprised by the lack of interest by our local constabulary and chose not to pursue it further.

Severt

Caleb
Guest

Most recent: a lady running a stop sign near NE Burnside and Ankeny.


Caleb

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

I had my closest call this morning, heading south on SE Sandy & Oak (soon after the Sandy/12th/Burnside fiasco intersection). I was in the bike lane on Sandy (it’s fast, downhill) and a giant truck turned right onto Oak and cut me off. I had to swerve all the way around the front of the vehicle and it was just luck that we didn’t collide. It would have been bad.

There was no malice in this incident although I’ve encountered plenty of jerks in my time. The truck just didn’t see me.

I live in NE Portland.

Raya
Guest
Raya

Just this past Sunday I was struck by a car downtown. We were dead tired after the Bridge Pedal and to get back to our car parked well uphill we decided to walk the bikes the last few blocks. We were crossing with the bikes on a green light when a lady in an SUV drove right into me, she was looking the other way the entire time and talking on her cellphone. She didn’t even realize what happened until I screamed out of fear as I felt her bumper. It wasn’t a serious accident as she was going slow but it could’ve been a lot worse.

Most of my other close calls are from motorists driving too close. Usually they are on the phone and are not paying attention.

One time on SW Allen Blvd as it crosses 217 a large pickup truck driver decided that instead of getting into the left lane (on a 4 lane rd) he would buz me first, then get right in front of me and pop his clutch to cause a huge plume of black smog to hit me right in the face. He then sped away and got on the highway. The lanes are wide in that section and I was staying very close to the far right, other cars had no problems passing me; he clearly did that on purpose.