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I got flipped off by a cyclist today

Posted by on November 13th, 2007 at 11:56 am

New 10-foot bike lane on SE Madison-6

(File photo)

I had symbolic experience on my way into work today. Symbolic of a major barrier we (as people who use bicycles as our primary form of transportation) face in bringing the primarily motor-vehicle-driving public under our tent.

This barrier is some cyclist’s attitude toward traffic laws, and their response to other cyclists when that attitude is called out. Here’s what happened…

I was riding south down the hill from Mississippi Street and I had crossed one lane of N. Interstate Ave. I was on the MAX platform waiting for a chance to cross. A TriMet bus stopped and waved me through. I continued on down the road at then we both (me and the bus) stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of N. Albina and Interstate.

As we waited at the red light — swoosh — a cyclist blew by me. It was as if the signal didn’t even exist.

I yelled, “The light’s red buddy!”, and then watched as he whipped around and gave me the one-fingered salute.

Nice. Way to stay classy. I can only imagine what the bus driver, all his passengers, and the other folks stopped at that intersection thought.

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. Thank you — Jonathan

179 Comments
  • Paul November 13, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Sorry Jonathan – but sadly I\’ve had the same experience. No matter what community you are a part of, there will always be at least one jerk in the bunch.

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  • Steve Durrant November 13, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Bad karma for all of us, and it makes it more dangerous for all of us. Its worth the comment though Jonathan. Thanks.

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  • David Dean November 13, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Why do we take it upon ourselves to call out cyclists who are disobeying traffic signals but no pedestrians downtown would ever think to call out other pedestrians who cross against the light?

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  • wsbob November 13, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Morons on bikes, morons in cars…same difference. And right, I think the people on the bus, in the cars and stopped at the intersection are probably inclined to think something like the following:

    \’To hell with these people. They want greater consideration for themselves, but they don\’t want to extend it to anyone else! Streets are for cars and trucks. Bikes are just play toys! Get them off of the streets!\’.

    Every time a cyclist blows a traffic regulation where everyone can see them, they\’re also blowing a positive public relations opportunity for biking as viable transportation. It\’s a classic case of shooting one\’s self in the foot.

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  • Ron November 13, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    There is currently a bike messenger looking rider (don\’t know if he really is — I look like a messenger and am not, just searching for a common frame of reference for the description) who rides Interstate and around NoPo who completely ignores all traffic control. He is on a blue fixed gear with distinctive wheels (white, large star spoked I think).

    He blew by me waiting at a red light at Going and Interstate the other day (not an intersection to be trifled with), and then I watched him blow through Skidmore and a red light, forcing a cyclist moving West on Skidmore to slow abruptly while moving across the Max tracks (a tricky maneuver.

    Quite ridiculous, really.

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  • DAN November 13, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    This type of behavior is so common place that I have given up defending cyclists to friends, co-workers and even my wife.
    People on this site complain all the time about police stings but I wish they would ticket more cyclists. The backlash form motorists just keeps getting worse towards us so when recent tragic accidents happen we get no sympathy from the public to make any changes that would benefit us. Unless we start to really police ourselves we will never get
    the kind of support we need to improve things.

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  • Nelson Muntz November 13, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Why should they? Last I heard, pedestrians were not clamoring for equal rights on the roadways or staging protests claiming police bias. If we as a community expect drivers to obey the law for our safety then we had better get our house in order first. Public perception is 90% in this battle.

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  • Curt Dewees November 13, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    David Dean,
    It\’s probably due to our sense of discretion and wanting to avoid physical danger. When you and the flagrant lawbreaker are both on bikes, it seems highly unlikely (to me, anyway), that the lawbreaker will slam on the brakes, do a quick U-turn, and come back to confront you.

    When you\’re both on foot, however, what\’s to prevent the lawbreaker from turning around and coming back to confront you? Perhaps try to pick a fight with you?

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  • Road Rage November 13, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    The great challenge we face in our effort to improve conditions on the road is one of public perception. It\’s the one guy on the road that day who feels the need to express his opinion with the one-fingered-salute who ruins it for us all; himself included.

    The downward spiral will not be reversed untill this attitude is curbed – figuratively and literally.

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  • Tomas Quinones November 13, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Jonathan, you\’ve just described my daily interactions with a number of cyclists riding up and down Ankeny or across Burnside and 20th.

    How can we proclaim \”We ARE Traffic\” if these bad apples keep showing non-cyclist that WE see ourselves above Traffic Laws?

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  • felix November 13, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Must be a slow news day…. Wahhh someone ran a red light… Wahhh. 😉

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  • Ayleen November 13, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    I\’m not going to say I\’ve never done anything illegal and I can tell you that calling me out wouldn\’t make me think twice. Something a little more witty or crass might get my attention. Usually I\’m fully aware of my decision and the last thing I want is someone telling me I\’m a bad person. Most of us do not like to be told what to do.

    However, I do thoroughly appreciate motorists telling me \”I can\’t see you\” (
    or \”Get a light!\” when my lights are (ashamedly) low on batteries. That\’s something we often don\’t notice ourselves and need to pay more attention to. It helps to have it pointed out by the people (motorists) who are most relying on us to have bright lights.

    All that being said, could the message of safety be made cool/fun/entertaining? I challenge all of you creative types to give it a shot in 8 minutes of fewer for Filmed by Bike. You have until March 1, 2008. Details on our site.

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  • kg November 13, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    This is just sad and all to common.

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  • kg November 13, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    On an even more disturbing note, I just ran across this post on craistlist
    http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/477634527.html
    \”

    On my way in this morning, and while stopped at the stop sign of SE Clay St. @ SE 11th, the young dark haired goateed driver of a AGG Enterprises truck going south on SE 11th thought it would be funny to heckle my friend and I as he drove by. Know what that means, he wasn\’t watching the traffic in front of him or around him. It was harmless yet annoying to us, and brazen since a co-worker/driver of his killed another cyclist. Why do they have a license to drive when they behave like that, especially in light of the recent incidences?
    \”

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  • Franklyn November 13, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    if we (cyclists) want to be taken seriously as part of the traffic, then we have to conform to all the rules regulating traffic. Only when other traffic can reasonably predict the behaviors of cyclists according to what they are accustomed to (traffic laws) will we be taken seriously. (there will always be lawbreakers, intentional or otherwise, in all forms of transportations)

    I live in the SF bay area but read this blog regularly because I was impressed by portland\’s bike culture after a visit in the summer (after doing the 1-day STP). We are dealing with similar sets of issues down here in the Bay Area. Portland is definitely more advanced (even though the Bay Area is not lagging that far behind) in bike planning.

    cheers,

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  • Apollo November 13, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    \”I can only imagine what the bus driver, all his passengers, and the other folks stopped at that intersection thought.\”

    Since you were stopped next to the bus, I hope they heard you yell at the cyclist and thought, \”gee, I guess there really are law abiding cyclists that don\’t appreciate other cyclists breaking the law\”

    Bad PR from the bird flipper, but good PR from Jonathan.

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  • SkidMark November 13, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Hopefully they thought some cyclists obey the law – and some don\’t.

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  • Stripes November 13, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    It\’s sad, but I think some of it has to do with cyclists wanting to emulate the suppossed machismo of bike messenger set.

    Bike messengers are are viewed by the more impressionable members of our community as being effortlessly cool, lithe, strong, hipster-type glittering beings on bikes.

    As a result, stopping at a stop sign is seen as equated with being a sissy on a bike.

    It\’s a shame, because really it shouldn\’t be.

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  • wyatt November 13, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    it is impossible to make everyone follow the rules – whether in a car or on a bicycle. why is that so hard to understand?

    the biggest difference is that, as a whole, bikes cause less destruction.

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  • Road Rage November 13, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    David Dean @ #2:

    For me, I know that the rare occasions where I\’ll call someone out; it is due to either the potential danger of the illegal maneuver (to the rider or others), or the flagrant nature of that maneuver.

    Pedestrians aren\’t in any real danger of losing their rights to use sidewalks and crosswalks, are they? I am a runner as well as a cyclist and see a real and different attitude from motorists toward me when I run versus when I ride. Pedestrians are accepted and excused on many occasions – perhaps because of their vulnerability and probably their greater level of politeness as a whole.

    Cyclists however have bad PR cases rolling around all the time. When was the last time you saw a pedestrian flagrantly disobey a traffic signal and then flip the bird to the motorists around them? Yeah, I don\’t remember either…

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  • Kronda November 13, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    If only there was some sort of \’bonehead database\’ to keep track of all the stupid people so we can more effectively avoid them and/or try to curb their ways.

    Here would be my most recent entries:

    1) Riding up Interstate after dark, helmets on, lights blazing, passed by Brett\’s ghost bike AND a news van on our side of the street with a reporter doing an on scene report about the crash. Halfway up the hill, I think about passing Jess, who\’s riding in front of me but it\’s a good thing I don\’t because I would slammed into exhibit A; A woman riding down Interstate on the wrong side of the street in the bike lane. I would\’ve slammed right into her. She had a helmet but no lights. I become aware of her when I hear Jess yelling \”Really bad idea!\” as she passes us by going around and into the oncoming traffic lane. I echo Jess\’s sentiment aloud to which the woman replies, \”Duh!\” My question is, if she had brains enough to know how stupid she was being, why not turn around and go the 25 ft back to the crosswalk and get on the right side of the street!!!?? I also lamented that her boneheaded move was probably going to be captured on the news as she rode by the reporter. Oh the irony.

    2) Heading north on Willamette Blvd in the neighborhood section just before it meets Rosa Parks way at the crosswalk. I feel/hear a whoosh as a helmet-less male roadie brushes by me without so much as an \”On your left.\” We catch enough at the cross walk to witness him turn left into the bike lane going the wrong way and then haphazardly veer right all the way across the road to the correct bike lane just after the turn, in front of a driver making a perfectly legitamite right turn who had to slam on his brakes. He did all this without a single turn of his head to look and while wearing headphones.

    We looked on in stunned disbelief and
    managed to yell, \”YOU\’RE STUPID!!!\” but of course he was too far away and too plugged into hear us. We were kind of disappointed that the driver didn\’t even honk at him since he certainly had earned at last that.

    Every time I think I\’ve plumbed the depths of human stupidity, I\’m proven wrong. With friends like these, who needs garbage trucks and biased police?

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  • Tasha November 13, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    This is so very common. I run into it at least once a week. I\’ve stopped saying things, as I\’m sick of getting \”f**k you\” back or the finger. They obviously do not care. Or maybe they do and pride makes them flip you off to pretend they don\’t care.

    Some people just like the fact that they define themselves as anarchists. They are the ones that give the rest of cyclists a bad name.

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  • SkidMark November 13, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    Ron: I don\’t know how many times I have been trackstanding at a red light on my \”brakeless\” fixed gear death machine and I have had a multiple-speed \”commuter\” fly past me, ignoring the traffic device.

    The characterization that the only traffic scofflaws on bike are messengers or hipsters trying to look like messengers is bunk. That video from Ladd\’s Addition is proof: lots of \”normal\” people on \”normal\” bike blowing a STOP sign, not an Aerospoke in the bunch. Just the like the traffic scofflaws in cars, they come from all walks of life.

    The ones that bother me the most are the ones going the wrong way, especially in a bike lane.

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  • Moo November 13, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    So…after the person turned back from giving you the bird, wouldn\’t it have been funny if he ran smack-dab into the back of a parked car. Not seriously injured or anything, just a few broken bones and lost chicklets. What a loser!

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  • Ron November 13, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Skidmark — to be clear, I was talking about a single individual — I described him as such in case anyone else in my area had perhaps seen him as well — I used no other language intended to smear a particular group of riders.

    Once one learns to track stand at a stop, it\’s a helluva lot more fun than riding through it anyway.

    Cheers

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  • David Dean November 13, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Curt Dewees,

    I totally agree there is that aspect. But also, pedestrians crossing against the light doesn\’t bother me at all. Does it bother you?

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  • Dave November 13, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Sadly in my experience cyclists and car drivers have about the same proportion of a**holes. Though it\’s not really that surprising. Getting on a bike doesn\’t magically make you a better or nicer person.

    I commute (by foot) down that same portion of Mississippi and Interstate, and bikes are just as likely to ignore or disregard my right of way as cars.

    Of course cars have the potential to do far more damage, but the tendency is there regardless of how righteous your transport mode (except for transit passengers: they all rock!).

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  • RyNO Dan November 13, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Isn\’t the treatment you receive on your bicycle like 100 times
    worse from the car operators out there ?

    Isn\’t all the following….

    engine-reving,
    too-close-following,
    honking,
    crazy passing in the wrong lane at illegal speeds
    near-accidents due to careless, rude and self-centered driving

    ….way way worse than a hand gesture, and 100-fold more prevalent ?

    The priorities here seem wrong. Best, –DanS–

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  • tonyt November 13, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    David Dean,

    There are two things at work here. The egregious nature of the offense (blowing through a light without checking out the intersection) and the fact that, like it or not, we cyclists are viewed as a \”group\” more than peds are. You know that.

    If Jonathan were talking about getting flipped off after he yelled at a cyclist for rolling a stop sign at a quiet residential intersection, I would frankly be inclined to side with the flipper, although I might argue that a \”mind your own business\” might be a better response.

    But that\’s not what we\’re talking about.

    Apples are not oranges here. There are degrees of behavior and after the last month and a half that we\’ve endured, it would help if riders could display a modicum of diplomacy, and perhaps, dare I say, some common freakin\’ sense.

    A lot of cars at an intersection? Perhaps not the time to run the light. Cars lined up and taking turns at a stop sign? Maybe not the best time to pass all the cars on the left and blow through. 11pm, no cars and the light won\’t change? Go ahead, roll the light.

    Is it that difficult for people to understand that there is some THINKING that needs to be applied here?

    I don\’t think it\’s entirely unreasonable to call out stupid behavior. This is not to say that we should all get in each other\’s business, but stupid behavior is stupid behavior and we all pay the price. Get with the program.

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  • Coyote November 13, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Gosh Jonathon if I had known it was you I wouldn\’t have flipped you off. 😉

    Of course I am joking, but seriously, how would a smoker react if you walked up to him on the street and pointed out the dangers of smoking? Perhaps the next time you see an obese person, they would thank you for pointing out the increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes that they enjoy. Wanna talk about Jesus?

    When someone yells, the natural reaction is to yell back. It is how we are wired. Effective dialog only happens with an invitation.

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  • toddistic November 13, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    It\’s a witch, burn the witch!

    And what do we burn besides witches?

    MORE WITCHES!

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  • Matt November 13, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    While I agree that it\’s bad PR for us to be breaking traffic laws ourself, I\’m kinda reluctant to flip out over it. A lot of drivers seem to have this attitude that they don\’t have to obey the law or accommodate cyclists, because they once saw a cyclist run a red light. I mean, that\’s probably the most common response anytime a cyclist expresses concern about safety, or the failure of motorists to abide by traffic laws that protect him or her. But it\’s bullshit. And I\’m kinda hesitant to indulge drivers in it. Yeah, we should all obey the law, but we should also be challenging the brain-dead notion that our safety on the road must be contingent on the good behavior of every other cyclist.

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  • miles November 13, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Unpleasant experience… but in the end no one should identify to closely with a mode of transportation.

    He was an ass, and his ass was on a bike, that\’s all…

    When I was harassed by thugs on the MAX I didn\’t think I\’d been harassed by MAX passengers… I was harassed by teenage thugs riding on MAX…. etc., mutatis mutandis.

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  • pushkin November 13, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    SkidMark\’s #17 comment sums it up. It made me laugh. Well put!

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  • Ashley November 13, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    That is totally LAME. My friend and were riding Eastbound across the Hawthorne bridge, and a cyclist was flying TOWARDS us in the pedestrian lane. We commented as she passed by, \’Hey the Westbound crossing is on the North side of the bridge!\’ to which she snarled, \’WHO CARES!\’ Totally rude. She probably would have flipped us off too if she could have controlled her bike enough swerving around bikes and ped traffic.

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  • oops November 13, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    You know, I used to ALWAYS do the rolling stop (emphasis on \’rolling\’) at that intersection, considering it\’s a \’T\’ and all the cars turn left onto Interstate. Pretty safe to roll through with proper precautions. Probably what birdman thought.

    Well, one day a car in front of me actually goes straight across Interstate into the warehouse parking lot (because they had a green light) as I\’m getting ready to roll through.

    So, I don\’t do the rolling stop anymore. Apparently, the light is there for a reason and for people like myself who\’ve convinced themselves that they take all the \’proper precautions\’ in every situation before rolling through the red.

    But I never flipped anyone off…

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  • Paul Tay November 13, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Lose the light. Use a circle. Problem SOLVED.

    Get the feeling roadway design ENCOURAGES criminal speeding by motorists who insist on catching the red light?

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  • pablo November 13, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    I was on bus #6 MLK on the way home the other day when we approached the stop on the Hawthorne Bridge\’s east side… a cyclists was in the land and a passenger yelled… \”run him over!\”

    Good times!

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  • Zaphod November 13, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    There are enough of us out there riding safely and legally to minimize the free PR we\’re getting from the red light blazing sketch riders.

    It would be interesting to interview a random sampling of drivers and cyclists to get a real idea of perception stats.

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  • Andrew November 13, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Cyclidiots who blow through red lights and make other crazy moves are a threat to me and other cyclists… because they piss off drivers, who then see all cyclists as nuisances that should be swept off the road. That selfish rider and others like him hurt all of us on the road… and erode our standing at City Hall and in the Legislature.

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  • David Dean November 13, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    tonyt,

    Based on the information presented, I don\’t get the impression that the saluting cyclist ganked anyone else\’s right of way. Knowing that the cyclist had an interest in self preservation leads me to conclude that he probably was paying attention as he blew the red light after determining that it was safe enough to proceed.

    So the issue then really is about the law and whether or not it is OK for a cyclist to disregard it and whether or not we should admonish people who do. In that, I think there is a direct and relevant comparison to pedestrian traffic.

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  • Roma November 13, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Due to my hatred of vigilantes of any degree, I probably would have flipped you off as well.

    The guy knew the light was red, and he showed you the proper appreciation for pointing out the obvious.

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  • David Dean November 13, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Matt #32, well said!

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  • toddistic November 13, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Statistics can be manipulated to serve whatever agenda is needed.

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  • felix November 13, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    I just went to lunch and yelled at a guy who I saw walk on a red light. I feel better now!

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  • miss November 13, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    I\’m at work so don\’t have time to read all the posts right now – but maybe the point is that we as bikers should be leading by example and stop being hypocrites. How can we, as bikers, be outraged when car drivers don\’t obey the laws, if we aren\’t either? Just a thought.
    It\’s frustrating to be defending bikers who don\’t obey traffic laws, putting themselves and others at risk.

    I would think/hope that after all the media attention and the recent tragedies that WE would ALL be a bit more careful. All, meaning bikers AND drivers.

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  • Coyote November 13, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    Andrew #40,

    I am not sure that cyclidiots are a danger to others cyclists in way you describe. In fact, I see them as traffic calming elements. I know when ever I am driving and I see one, I slow down. I always makes sure that cyclists are really going to stop, and that we agree on who has the right-of-way.

    I do not advocate anyone ride like an idiot. I am just saying when I see Joe Dumbass riding the wrong way down the bike lane I drive as though he is a loose dog, or a small child.

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  • tonyt November 13, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    David,

    If Jonathan was stopped next to a bus, then that bus would obstruct the cyclist\’s view for the 40 feet he was riding alongside it. If he blew by Jonathan as he wrote, knowing that intersection as I do, I would argue that unless this guy was omnicient, he was flirting with disaster.

    Re your ped comparison; in any conversations I\’ve ever had, as a ped and a driver and a cyclist, I have only ever been lumped in with other cyclists. Peds and cars are seen as \”the masses\” and as such individuals are less likely to be representative of anyone in particular. Sadly such is not the case for cyclists.

    It would be great if the flipper\’s behavior existed in a vacuum, but alas it does not. It has a disproportionate effect on how we, as cyclists are perceived and treated. THAT is why I think cyclists tend to be more bothered with the behavior of other cyclists than peds are with the actions of other pedestrians.

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  • Jim T. November 13, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    This is the unfortunate part. We -bicyclists – want motor vehicle drivers \”respecting\” us. That will only happen when we obey the rules too. We – motorists – see all to many bicycles ignoring the rules to have much sympathy. I\’ve seen a lot of letters saying that police need to ticket bicyclists. Much as I would hate to see that, perhaps that is what it will take unless we can police ourselves.

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  • Dabby November 13, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    In reference to Stripes comments: (and only to his comments, for I have more to say on the issues of the article, but that would make my post horribly long, so I digress)

    While there is no way to deny emulation of messengers, to use that as an argument in any way in reference to this post is quite out of line.

    Your comment points to \”supposed\” machismo of the messenger.

    What do you think it takes to make it alive through a day, 8-10 hours, of constantly dealing with the exact issues that have the whole cycling community in a rage?

    It takes machismo, or something along the same lines, to stay alive enough, alert enough, and brave enough.

    This is what tends to separate them from most.

    This is also sadly what is so attractive to some, hence the emulation.

    Take the problems you encounter on your commute, on the way to Zoobomb, or even on the way to your local coffee shop, and multiply them by a couple hundred.

    Then add the possibilities of having your boss yell at you that the package in your bag must be from the NW to the south side of town in 15 minutes, but it is late so you have about 5 left. This is in reality the amount of time it takes to simply go into the building, let alone get there.

    We are now past machismo, fully into self preservation, and protection of your paycheck, for there is a long line of kids willing to do the same job for next to nothing, starting tomorrow.

    That is your average messenger day.

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  • RubberDuck November 13, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    The law-breakers are always a lot more visible than the law-abiders. For every one of the former that is remembered, 50 of the latter go by unnoticed.

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  • rob November 13, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    That light you were stopped at is so pointless. It doesn\’t excuse the behavior, and he was breaking the law, but the cyclist was in no danger whatsoever. The only people that are ever going to cross the bike line are people going into the Community Warehouse, which really is only an issue on Saturday afternoons. People turn from Albina onto Interstate, and it\’s usually only one car, and the light just takes forever. There has to be a better solution so as to not slow down bike traffic.

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  • Garlynn -- undergroundscience.blogspot.com November 13, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    That\’s funny, and it reminds me of this new proposal for a \”Share The Road\” sign:

    http://tinyurl.com/2br8y8

    Yeah, people blow lights and flip you off. Sometimes, they\’re even on bicycles.

    At least everybody lived through that particular encounter.

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  • mykle November 13, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    No offense, but I run red lights all the time. I don\’t do it unsafely, or carelessly, or discourteously, and I feel no guilt or shame in it.

    While I would probably have just ignored you if you yelled \”the light\’s red, buddy\”, I did once have a bicyclist chase after me for a block in order to deliver a stern lecture. This was because I ran the light at the bottom of Broadway in order to preserve my momentum going up the bridge. I had a clear view of the intersection; no cars were approaching. I rolled through at full speed, and was not killed.

    I believe my response to her tirade was \”blow me\”. Which was less courteous than I should have been, but frankly I was offended by the tone she took.

    I believe there are big problems with our road rules. They are designed largely for the convenience of cars, at the expense of all other road users. If we could get those laws changed to something more respectable, then I would have more respect for the law. And I really want to do that. And one of the first reforms I would push for is and Idaho-style loosening of the constant requirement for bicyclists to come to a full stop at empty intersections, thereby throwing away their hard-earned momentum.

    I have a right to take what risks I choose. There is some risk involved in any bicycling, and somebody might think that the way I bicycle is too risky for them, but I\’m not making anybody else run red lights. I didn\’t see what you saw so I have no idea if that is something I would do, but that rider took his own risks. If he gets hit, nobody loses more than he does. If he\’s stupid, he\’ll get killed eventually.

    As far as the need to show good behaviour to car drivers in order to improve the public\’s opinion of bicyclists in general: I reject this argument outright. I will not be judged by anyone else\’s behaviour, and I won\’t have anyone else judged by mine. If drivers see all bicyclists as the same bicyclist, that\’s their mistake, and that\’s the problem that should be solved. Me throwing away my momentum at every red light is not going to solve that problem.

    Despite the police and media tilt that all bicycle accidents are the fault of bicyclists\’ disrespect for the law, it\’s clear that there is a way to ride in cities in which safety comes from personal vigilance, not white stripes on the ground and blinking lights on poles. In fact, disobeying road rules is sometimes the only safe way to ride.

    To me, a stop sign means \”be careful\” and a red light means \”be *really* careful\”. That\’s all.

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  • rixtir November 13, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    I believe there are big problems with our road rules. They are designed largely for the convenience of cars, at the expense of all other road users.

    Your belief is wrong, which doesn\’t bode well for any analysis based on that wrong belief.

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  • drew November 13, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    trackstands are for posers off the track.

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  • rixtir November 13, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    I have a right to take what risks I choose.

    No, you don\’t have any such right.

    Any other legal theories you want to get wrong for us?

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  • sam November 13, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    As the city grows, I don\’t expect it will become more polite.

    MYOB.

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  • Garlynn -- undergroundscience.blogspot.com November 13, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    I\’d like to re-post from Portland Transport, since it seems applicable here (thanks for putting it so well, Lenny):

    Lenny Anderson Says:

    The City has to make riding legally safe. Today it is not. I will ride in a safe manner whether it is legal or not. My well being is more important to me than whether I offend someone in a big deadly box. Had Tracey run the red at Burnside, she might still be with us. She was riding legally, now she\’s dead.

    Sorry you got flipped off, Jonathan, but let\’s put it in perspective: Running red lights is a reaction to many things, and many times, it\’s just as safe as not running the red light. Remember, 230 years ago, it was illegal to declare the intention to not pay your taxes to a British monarch. Laws are made by the people, and if the best thing to do is to break those laws, maybe they need to be changed to reflect the new reality.

    Let\’s go Idaho-style!

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  • Lisa November 13, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    mykle, 51: If you hit a pedestrian or another cyclist while you are running a red light or stop sign to save your \”momentum\” (aka your own personal time and effort), how is that different from a car doing the same thing and hitting you?

    If I assert that I can safely do what you do while I am driving my car, and have decided that the law therefore doesn\’t apply to me, is that OK with you?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) November 13, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    \”That light you were stopped at is so pointless….There has to be a better solution so as to not slow down bike traffic.\”

    rob,

    I agree to some extent.. .but I feel the issue here is PR as much as whether or not the light should be there. Bottom line for me is when a cyclist blows a red light during morning rush hour when other people are waiting (and watching) it is a very bad decision. I don\’t like stopping at that intersection either, but I do, especially when there are people around.

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  • Rogue November 13, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    So, the thing is that people are too uptight. If the cyclist is only endangering themselves, and I have yet to hear of a case of a driver getting killed in a car/bicycle collision, then what is the big deal? I think people should stop policing each other so much. We ARE on the same side of this battle and every person is different. Some may wait for the light to turn green and some may not. As long as we all enjoy the ride then we\’re fine.

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  • SkidMark November 13, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Trackstands are for those that are too lazy to take a foot out of a toeclip/strap and put it on the ground.

    Is it still posing if nobody is watching?

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  • rixtir November 13, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Let\’s go Idaho-style!

    Spoken by somebody who appears to have no understanding whatsoever of \”Idaho-style.\”

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  • Spencer November 13, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    I have to admit that I do the \”idaho\” stop all the time, where I come up to an intersection and slow way down as to see if any one is coming, and proceede. This also gives me a jump on any cars, to get out in front and visible.

    As to Ron and Skimarks little love fest, Ron, I have seen the guy you\’r talking about and he is what you say. I also saw him pulling his kid home on a trailer, blow through a intersection and cut a car off tring to turn. It sure doesn\’t engender mutal respect, when you see a guy who risks his kid like that.

    I would vote for a \”Dork\” page to go along with close calls and stolen rides to help self control our own community.

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  • Ron November 13, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    Not to mention, if we (cyclists) start declaring that WE can judge when it\’s safe to go through a red light at full speed, what\’s to stop a car from doing the same thing? I suspect mykle wouldn\’t actually object to this.

    I however do. Until we can change some of the laws that don\’t necessarily make sense, or that actually make riding a bike somewhat more dangerous, I think we are clearly subject to them just as cars should be.

    All the more reason I feel so strongly about the lack of prosecution of any kind in the deaths of Tracey and Brett (and so many others, as the stories begin to surface).

    Saying you ran a red light to preserve your momentum is to me no different than saying \”I didn\’t see the bike I just ran over\” — and that is that you couldn\’t be bothered to delay your trip by 20 or 30 seconds in order to observe a common, and commonly followed, rule of the road.

    Pathetic.

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  • pushkin November 13, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    Hey SkidMark #62 –

    To answer your question: Yes. Especially if there is a reflective surface nearby.

    And a propos to this whole entertaining thread: What about the questionable legality of the \”glacial creep\” trackstand that bsnyc has so eloquently expounded upon?

    Posing and red light running (or creeping I guess) at the same time!

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  • Lenny Anderson November 13, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Our city\’s focus has to be on behavior that maims, threatens, kills or does harm to others, not on that which only puts the doer at risk. Running a light on a bike is bad PR, sure, but this is a life and death matter for bicyclists vs an nuisance for those in motor vehicles…no comparison.
    That light, by the way, is at a \”T\” where it might be safer run it…maybe safer than waiting next to a big bus.

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  • David Dean November 13, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    tonyt,

    I see this as primarily a public relations issue caused by a few vocal motorists ignorantly lumping the entirely cycling community together and holding us all responsible for the actions of a very small minority. And subsequently when a cyclist is killed while riding safely and legally, the first thing we hear is excuses for the driver alongside some anecdote about a purported rude scofflaw cyclist. I think the proper course of action is to nip this ignorance in the bud, not embrace it.

    I\’m all for using social pressure, and even admonishment, to improve safety, but I don\’t see this necessarily as a safety issue. The way the story is presented, I got the impression it had more to do with how cyclists are perceived than the safety of people in the intersection. If I\’m wrong, I\’m willing to be corrected.

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  • rixtir November 13, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Lenny, two things.

    First, you are mistaken in saying that violating right of way only puts the \”doer\” at risk. It\’s an absolutely false argument.

    Second, in case you haven\’t noticed, the press is playing up the bad bikers angle, and given that we are calling for fundamental institutional change in how cyclists are treated in this city, generating bad PR through intentional behavior is the same thing as working against cycling.

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  • scott November 13, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    I hope mykle #54 gets a nice juicy ticket soon, that would make one less person think the law is just a worthless suggestion

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  • Ron November 13, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    pushkin (66): The creep, of course, rocks; and being on a free wheel single more closely describes most of my track standing anyway 🙂

    As to your proposal — it sounds great until you are the truly hapless motorist who is legally coming through an intersection only to have a dead cyclist as a hood ornament.

    Sorry, but saying this behavior is only bad for the cyclist just isn\’t accurate. Maybe some people can live with killing a cyclist if the cyclist was clearly at fault and risk taking – not so sure I can.

    I used to run through red lights on occasion. I am not guiltless by any means.

    Then one day I realized that intersections are friggin disasters, and no matter how sure I was that nothing was coming the other way, eventually I\’d make a mistake.

    I think talking about changes to low traffic 4 way stops which allow a cyclist to preserve some of their momentum, especially where gaining it back from a full stop is actually quite dangerous, is a good conversation to have.

    But I\’ve yet to see an electronically controlled intersection where those lights weren\’t there for a damn good reason.

    Cheers

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  • Ron November 13, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Whoops, sorry pushkin, I mean the second part for Lenny (67).

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  • beanpdx November 13, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Before you all get all uppity over this, you should know the intersection! I don\’t support the bird flipping or flying past Jonathan, but if there is not a cyclist at that intersection, I sometimes go through it too. It is a bike lane to a bike lane, not a cross st. (It is just like Naito Parkway heading north.)
    Bring it on.

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  • Lisa November 13, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    On Saturday my husband was driving, with our young daughter in the car, and had to stand on the brakes to avoid creaming a young cyclist running a stop sign. Yes, it would probably have been more inconvenient to the cyclist than to him had he hit her, but to say that having his daughter see him accidentally kill or maim someone (or, say, having a heart attack himself) would be just a \”nuisance\” is plain wrong.

    And, even if you are by some chance skilled or lucky enough not to get hit, and even if you never hit a pedestrian or another cyclist, and even if you do not care about your impact on the lives of drivers or on the public perception of cyclists or on societally shared health costs if you are injured, you might consider this: every time you ignore a red light or stop sign you may be teaching a young and inexperienced rider who sees you do it that it seems like an acceptable and safe thing to do– and that young person may not have your skill or luck the next day.

    Or maybe none of that matters as much as your momentum.

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  • wow...just wow November 13, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    incerdible… read the comments. you should all be ashamed of yourselves.

    Maus… sorry bud, i think your readership is too diverse for comments to be effective, each thread morphs into who\’s right and who\’s wrong. doesn\’t matter if its car v. bike or bike v. bike, or bike v. mean ol\’ world.

    i mean in this particular one, you\’ve been scolded for almost every action you took. not worth it… let people hash that baggage out in the forums. lets leave page one and two for reading news.

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  • Anonymous November 13, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    engine-reving,
    too-close-following,
    honking,
    crazy passing in the wrong lane at illegal speeds
    near-accidents due to careless, rude and self-centered driving

    With the exception of the honking and revving I see way more of this kind of behavior from my fellow cyclists.

    Sorry.

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  • N.I.K. November 13, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    First, you are mistaken in saying that violating right of way only puts the \”doer\” at risk. It\’s an absolutely false argument.

    Exactly, rixtir. If a cyclist blows a stop sign or a red light and another cyclist who has the right of way is already crossing the intersection, it\’s a recipe for disaster. Think it\’s at worst some road rash, a couple bruises, and some components in need of replacement? Think again: there\’s plenty of points in for protruding parts of bike one to hook into bike two and/or either rider. Not to mention that some folks might react very aggressively if they can get up right away…a surge of adrenaline and one bad decision to finish unhinging someone\’s jaw with a u-lock isn\’t something you want to even get somebody thinking about for a split second.

    And let\’s not forget that maneuvering out of one collision is no assurance of being out of harms way. Ever see a pile-up on the freeway? Same thing.

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  • joel November 13, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    id be far more bothered by the cyclist blowing past me while im stopped in the bike lane with a bus next to me than by the running of the light. the latter is illegal, the former is just plain inconsiderate – and personally, that bothers me more.

    the flipping-off, yeah, thats rude and all, but i dont think anyone should be surprised by it after yelling at someone whos running a light or whatever. regardless of the legality or unsafeness of that cyclists action, while theyre in the middle of running a red light isnt exactly the safest time to try to get their attention. personally, i wouldve just ignored you. but then, i also wouldnt have run a red light coming out from alongside a bus, where i couldnt see potentially approaching pedestrians etc. im a responsible opportunist, after all, not a reckless hoodlum.

    and remember, when it comes to \”calling out\” your fellow cyclists on red light running, helmet usage, blinky light possession, or anything else – there are generally two types of cyclists: those who take it upon themselves to give their unsolicited opinion – and those who resent them doing so.

    just sayin…

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  • Vigilante November 13, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    A lot of cars at an intersection? Perhaps not the time to run the light. Cars lined up and taking turns at a stop sign? Maybe not the best time to pass all the cars on the left and blow through. 11pm, no cars and the light won\’t change? Go ahead, roll the light.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid!

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  • wsbob November 13, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    In Portland\’s gradually improving but still antiquated motor vehicle based street and road system, bike riders and motor vehicle drivers are commonly confused by the inherent shortcomings of this system as they try to anticipate each others intentions.

    Being the newer entry into this setting, every bike rider with any sense at all should be going out of their way whenever they\’re riding, to indicate clearly that they\’re adhering to all commonly understood traffic regulations and that their use of streets and roads will be consistent with those regulations. I\’m thinking that many motor vehicle drivers used to having the steets all to themselves all these years are having a very hard time learning to safely allow for the increasing presence of bikes with them on those streets.

    Bike riders that insist on excusing themselves from traffic regulations and indulge in personal rebel fantasy games while riding in the streets, simply make bike/motor vehicle coexistence that much more difficult in general. Jerk cyclists may be the exception to the rule, but in the current setting, from the perspective of long term exclusively motor vehicle drivers, they are having a big impact on the perception of bikes as legitimate presence on public streets.

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  • brian November 13, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Jon. Good on you for calling him out. If you don\’t let people know their behavior is idotic it will never change. I don\’t care who the offender is bike, car, pedestrian.

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  • Joe November 13, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    peace sign is way better..

    have a nice day all, still nice.
    I thought about having a counter on my bars…

    almost tbone
    flipped off by car
    flipped off by bike
    rushed off the lane
    honked at
    yelled at
    rammed
    or shoved into the curb

    list goes on..

    Joe

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  • max adders November 13, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Jonathan\’s response seems like he feels he\’s been flagrantly dissed by an ally– someone who shares the collective beehive groupthink of the \”bike scene\” in Portland and elsewhere.

    Hopping on a bike doesn\’t automatically enlist you in \”the bicycle community\” or \”bike culture\” or whatever you wanna call it. People use bikes every day, yet remain totally oblivious to the the safety debates, blogs, group rides, races, all of it.

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  • cyclist November 13, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    I got flipped off last week by a cyclist near OMSI. I\’ve taken to stopping at the stop signs over that way since the police started doing regular enforcement actions over there. As I was coming to a stop I hear the guy behind me yell and hit the brakes. He rides around me, tells tells me to \”Watch it\”, when I say \”Stop sign!\” as he goes through the intersection he flips me off.

    As a regular cyclist I know the it\’s only some bad apples, but I can definitely see why the public would have a negative perception.

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  • pushkin November 13, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    81st!

    I got flipped off by a cyclist today…and I\’ll I got was this predictable thread!

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  • Chris Heaps November 13, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    It\’s really sad that there is such a lack of civility in such a great town.

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  • Kirsty November 13, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    I\’m a 99.9% full-time cyclist, who takes the bus & MAX every now & then for odd trips. Lately I\’ve been taking the Hawthorne bus to my art class once a week.

    One rather memorable Tuesday, an otherwise friendly and gracious bus driver spent about the latter half of the journey talking loudly to the passengers aboard about how scary it is for her having constant near-misses with bicyclists running red lights, not having lights, not signaling, riding the wrong way et al.

    Then passengers up and down the aisles of the bus started called out their own experiences of bicyclists breaking the law or behaving dangerously in front of them too whilst they were driving, walking, or using transit too.

    At first, I felt somewhat mad that people could make such sweeping assumptions about any one particular mode of transportation.

    But then to counter that, I thought, this bus driver most likely actually *does* see this kind of behaviour from cyclists frequently on her 8 hour shift or whatnot. I know as a passenger on the bus that morning, I saw it. I guess if I were piloting a several tonne vehicle in a confined, busy urban environment, I\’d be a little scared, and mad, at people blatently running red lights & the like, endangering not only themselves, but also others around them.

    Anyhow, back to the bus! I just sort of sat there, shrinking further and further back into the cushions in absolute shame. I just felt so awful being lumped into the category of inconsiderate, law-breaking cyclists by an entire busload of commuters, based on the kinds of cyclist behaviour they themselves are witnessing day in, day out.

    From that packed morning commuter bus ride, it would appear cycling has a major PR problem currently that stems from the actions of a visible minority. I hope we can work as a community towards rectifying this.

    (Rant over, oops!)

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  • Kirsty November 13, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    ps – Forgot to mention, the bus driver also had a *lot* to say about encountering cars making illegal or unsafe moves in traffic on a daily basis also. So no anti-cycling bias per se on her part!

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  • girl on a bike November 13, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Maybe it was the day for nasty commuters to be out in force. I got caught up in a line of cars driving along SE Stark (between 52nd and 45th there are no other options) and at the point where I had to take the lane to make a left turn (clearly signalling first, moving quickly, and leaving plenty of room for passing on my right), some lovely example of womanhood yelled \”Get a car, bitch!\” and peeled rubber around me. I\’d like to say that kinda stuff doesn\’t bother me, but it actually really sucks to have obscenities screamed at you first thing in the morning, not to mention the one-ton vehicle skidding on wet leaves about five feet from where I\’m waiting to turn. And the skidding was the driver\’s emphasis for her disapproval of me being on the road — she in no way had to skid to avoid me.

    For every cyclist who
    flips someone off, I encounter about 89 motorists doing things that are illegal, rude, dangerous, or all of the above. Which is probably perfectly proportionate to the population of cyclists/drivers. I think it\’s just people, and lots of \’em suck.

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  • Garlynn -- undergroundscience.blogspot.com November 13, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    rixtir
    comment 64

    Let\’s go Idaho-style!

    Spoken by somebody who appears to have no understanding whatsoever of \”Idaho-style.\”

    Yes — if indeed Oregon could change its laws to reflect those in Idaho, where a bicyclist must stop at a red light before proceeding if safe to do so, this bicyclist would still be breaking the law, because, according to Jonathan\’s account, he didn\’t even stop before blowing the light.

    Point taken.

    However, I still would defend bicyclists who choose to safely blow lights. We need to change the law to treat bicyclists as a separate class of road users, such that autos yield to bikes yield to pedestrians; and enable bikes to slow for stop signs and stop-then-proceed on red lights.

    If this law change were to happen, and clarify that it is legal to run a red light after stopping, we might see more bicyclists actually stop at red lights — before proceeding.

    Right now, it\’s kind of wide open out there. The law doesn\’t have any relation to reality, so what\’s the difference between slowing for a red, stopping for a red, or just blowing the red at speed and giving the bird to anybody standing around, if all three actions are treated equally under the law?

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  • Phil Hanson (aka Pedalphile) November 13, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    I suspect that cyclists attitudes will change when a cyclist who\’s obeying the law is killed by a motorist who loses control of her car trying to avoid hitting a cyclist who isn\’t.

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  • Steve November 13, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    I am A courier, so I have an interesting Seat-in-the- mad house perspective. I witnessed 6 blown light by cars. 8 near right hooks, countless jay walkers and four middle fingers from near collisions with guys in Beemers. so my take after getting home safely today is: There is a hell of alot more cars on the fucking road than bikes. who gives a shit if a bike flipped you off he only endangered himself and mabey your Egos.

    Public Relations Campaign??!! Give me a ****** break.

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  • Ron November 13, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    Phil, that\’s actually pretty funny. Excepting the death and stuff of course.

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  • yeppers November 13, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    \”However, I still would defend bicyclists who choose to safely blow lights. We need to change the law to treat bicyclists as a separate class of road users, such that autos yield to bikes yield to pedestrians; and enable bikes to slow for stop signs and stop-then-proceed on red lights.\”

    stopping-then-proceeding is not blowing…

    and your utopian idea does ont account for bikes colliding with eachother either…

    in other words, it\’s totally flawed.

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  • Dabby November 13, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    In regards to the bus riding, I must say that those drivers who spend 8 hours a shift driving buses, tend to be the largest violators of cycling right of way… (comment #88)

    How many times a day do you see them:

    Pulling way early into the bike lanes, cutting off bikes, in order to stop and pick up passengers.

    Speeding up to pass a cyclist, then pull in front of them cutting them off, and using their misguided, \”always right of way\” status to endanger others.

    Pulling out from a bus stop, after the light has been full yellow, into the intersection, fast. (while the said light their direction is now red)

    Pulling out in front of others, simply because another bus driver has waited for them to go, even though they are still cutting off other traffic.

    Speeding up and flying through yellows, and reds, in order to stay on schedule.

    Parking one, two, or three buses in the bike lane, especially on the west end of the Burnside bridge, where I have had to jump off the curb, as they were blocking the bike path, and the ramp off the sidewalk.

    Seeing you in the rear view mirror, then still pulling over into you, pushing a cyclist out of their lane, and yelling at the cyclist for not yielding, even though the cyclist was there fully first.

    I could go on and on, but my point is they are no saints…..far, far from it.

    I wish I would have been on that bus, during that conversation…

    Screw Tri Met and the great white horse they rode in on!

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  • k. November 13, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    I wouldn\’t mind so much the cops ticketing bone headed riders, such as Jonathan\’s example, but why is it they instead spend their time doing stings of riders rolling through quiet residental neighborhood stop signs? Why don\’t they target the cyclists who are the real danger?

    I also struggle with myself almost daily trying to decide whether I should chastise other cyclists or not. I\’m glad to see Jonathan must think it\’s OK. If more cyclists did it, the peer pressure might actually have an effect. Messengers excepted of course.

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  • Jean Reinhardt November 13, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    I rode \”kosher\” because I don\’t want to die early–not because I believe that we\’re all PR officers for our transportation choice. Worrying about how other people ride and the image it projects reminds me of old talk about some black people being \”credits to their race.\” I can\’t worry about the \”image\” of other cyclists when too damned many drivers speed, yak on phones, drive drunk, try to separate fighting kids in the car, drive with dogs in their laps…………….

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  • Matthew November 13, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    Not to be picky, but the picture that goes along with this story is of the new Hawthorne bridge ramp bike lane. The intersection where you got flipped off is next to Ecopdx. And while I don\’t run stop lights, I can see running that stop light a lot more than I can see running the one at the Hawthorne bridge ramp, so if I wasn\’t paying too close attention to your description, I\’d think that the bicycle did something a lot more dangerous than they actually did… But my main point: If you don\’t have a picture to go along with your story, then don\’t post a different one, just don\’t post one at all.

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  • OrangeCrush November 13, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    rixter: out of everyone\’s comments, yours stand out to me as the source of some of the most unfounded hostility. \”your just wrong.\” is not an intelligent way to react to somebody, and does nothing to further the conversation.

    the rules of the road ARE in fact mostly designed with the safety of cars in mind. yes, bikes and peds are included. HOWEVER. if you can explain clearly how, the lights timed to regulate the speeds of rush hour traffic is related to the same and much more variable speeds of bike and ped traffic, i\’d love to hear it. If you can also explain away the difficulty of having to go straight through a bike lane at an intersection where traffic is likely to turn right into you, as something well designed for bikes, please go ahead. i can give you more examples of car specific design if you wish.

    bicyclists are in a purgatory of worlds because the have relationships that match cars and peds. They are vulnerable like peds, but they can move at fast speeds close to cars. Bicyclists, like peds are in various stages of physical fitness, and thus cannot be regulated for speed as much as cars. Even with the best brakes, stopping and starting, particularly on hills, is also effected by physical fitness. the unfortunate consequence is that sometimes bicyclists want to behave like cars, and follow the appropriate traffic rules, while at other times want to follow the behavior of pedestrians (who get away with going against lights all the time) when it\’s convenient.

    the point being, in areas where the rules of the road are more dominated by cars, some discretionary breaking of laws for the sake of safety should be acknowledged. (not this particular instance, but the divided debate is clear in this thread). ie. riding on the sidewalk sometimes happens when there\’s no peds, and high speed car traffic. OR. slowing, but not stopping at stop signs in the middle of hills where the slow start (or unskilled toppling) may cause negative reactions from drivers anyhow.

    chicken or egg. if bicyclists could be treated like real traffic, maybe they\’d follow real traffic rules. unfortunately, they won\’t get the treatment unless perceptions are changed.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) November 13, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    \” I should chastise other cyclists or not. I\’m glad to see Jonathan must think it\’s OK\”

    Realize that I didn\’t \”chastise\” the guy. My tone was not confrontational at all…rather it was suggestive, as if I was telling him something he might not have been aware of.

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  • Dabby November 13, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    \”\”I wouldn\’t mind so much the cops ticketing bone headed riders, such as Jonathan\’s example, but why is it they instead spend their time doing stings of riders rolling through quiet residental neighborhood stop signs? Why don\’t they target the cyclists who are the real danger?\”\”

    K.,

    Really, don\’t you see what is wrong with your statement?

    Running a stop sign, or a stop light, IS THE SAME THING.

    It is no more illegal, (or more boneheaded as you put it) for someone to have run the light past Jonathan, than it is for the commuters to do it in Ladd\’s.

    Just because you flip someone the bird, doesn\’t make it a worse offense.

    Just cause you commute your way past a stop sign, without stopping, but you have a smile on your face, in no way makes it more ok.

    This mind set is the problem that divides us all.

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  • Retrogrouch November 13, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    Well, I\’m in the Deep South, and here I was thinking that Portland was the land of milk and honey, but no, there are idiots there too who think that they\’re too good to obey simple traffic rules, and other idiots who think that someone calling them on it is somehow offensive.

    I\’d say it kinda makes me feel good, but that\’s not really true. It makes me feel kind of sad. I ride to work and for fun on the weekends, partly because I just enjoy riding (and have for over 40 years), and partly because I can\’t stand driving anymore. I obey the rules because I\’m keenly aware that in our medium-sized southern city, utility bicyclists are relatively rare, and that I\’m an ambassador every time I ride. And yes, we have the same issues here too.

    Anarchists are cowards. It takes a real man (or woman) to ride within the rules. Those who don\’t are doing themselves and everyone else on two wheels a massive disfavor.

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  • rixtir November 13, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    rixter: out of everyone\’s comments, yours stand out to me as the source of some of the most unfounded hostility. \”your just wrong.\” is not an intelligent way to react to somebody, and does nothing to further the conversation.

    Sorry, but a fact is a fact, and the fact is, that \”legal analysis\” was wrong.

    the rules of the road ARE in fact mostly designed with the safety of cars in mind. yes, bikes and peds are included. HOWEVER. if you can explain clearly how, the lights timed to regulate the speeds of rush hour traffic is related to the same and much more variable speeds of bike and ped traffic, i\’d love to hear it.

    That\’s not a rule of the road. It is an engineering issue, and I did not claim that infrastructure is not weighted in favor of the automobile. I\’ve claimed quite the opposite, in fact.

    If you can also explain away the difficulty of having to go straight through a bike lane at an intersection where traffic is likely to turn right into you, as something well designed for bikes, please go ahead. i can give you more examples of car specific design if you wish.

    That\’s right, \”car specific design.\” And to the extent that cyclists are required by the \”rules of the road\” to use infrastructure with a car-specific design, then the rules of the road are favoring the automobile. Furthermore, the rules of the road generally require slow-moving vehicles to stay to the right– the one bit of auto-centrism in the rules of the road. The bicycle analogue to that rule is that where no bike lane exists, bikes that are not riding at the same speed as the normal flow of traffic to ride as close as practicable to the right.

    Aside from that nod to the faster vehicle, the rules of the road are generally quite equitable, and sometimes even privilege more vulnerable users of the road.

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  • brad November 13, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Please stop telling me how to drive.

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  • Randy November 13, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    Jonathan, Thanks for encouraging Ricky Rude to mello out. It\’s gonna be the happy bikers who win public support for bikes to become the main mode of transport in Oregon. Bike City also needs some clean air… Today at noon I walked by a City Street Repair Truck (College and Broadway) that was idling biodiesel during the lunch hour. There were five city employees inside the truck eating lunch at the time.

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  • Ena November 13, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    Jonathan,

    There is no doubt that the good get most of the crap flying around. That guy that flipped you off is just proof of how much of a difference you are making in this community! I am drinking a wonderful glass of red wine and toasting you!
    Thanks for all your hard work!

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  • Donald November 13, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    Was it a straight middle finger or more of the Euro-style V? I always prefer getting the latter as cyclist AND driver. When I get it, I have usually earned it and the elan of the V suits me best, I feel.

    I\’m a talker and always seem to be mumbling something to my fellow road/MPU users. Odd thing is, it doesn\’t seem to matter what I\’m saying, I always get the same \”What the hell are you doing talking to me\” look.

    \”Nice light, Jogger! Thanks! It really helped me see you on this dark waterfront path.\”

    \”Dumb move, Oncoming Biker. You didn\’t need to pass between that runner and that lady with the baby carriage on the narrow part of this Steel Bridge walkway.\”

    \”Your gadget bag is completely obscuring your blinky, Fellow Williams Corridor Rider.\”

    Different messages, same responses.

    As sure as Dogs Hate Surprises, People Hate Being Talked Too.

    No problem. Just do me the favor of giving me both fingers, please. It\’s a style thang, and like I said, I\’ve earned it.

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  • Donald November 13, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    Oh, I forgot!

    I got the very same \”Whaaaaaa???\” look from Jonathan when I mumbled something to him as he held traffic at an intersection during a recent memorial ride downtown.

    Perhaps I should be looking inward on this issue…

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  • Alan November 13, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    Wow. What a jerk that guy was!

    But, before I dump on all the rude cyclists out there, let me make a true confession … I rode through a stop sign tonight near my home. It was a quiet residential corner, but I almost rode right over a jogger that I didn\’t see approaching from my right.

    The jogger was mad and yelled at me as he jogged past. I couldn\’t make it out, so I yelled back, \”what\’s that?\” He yelled something else and kept going. So after thinking it over for a minute, replaying the situation in my mind, I caught up with him and apologized.

    As he ran, he said, \”Don\’t worry about it. I\’m ok. You\’re ok. But I\’m a bike rider and I like other riders to observe the same rules I do\” (or something to that effect).

    Not a bad outcome, right? And much better than Jonathan\’s, right? Maybe. Keep this in mind:

    -I made that jogger mad. After all, I almost ran him down on a dark street and I did it by not riding to his standards.

    -The jogger also made me mad. Who was he to be acting as Mr. Bike Saint? His running gear consisted of black sweat, a gray vest, and a white hat. No reflector, no light. Did he realize that he was almost totally invisible? (I wasn\’t – I had 2 front lites, 2 back lites, and I was wearing a full torso reflector – but it was still my duty to see Mr. Invisible and stop.) At the time of our near collision, he was running in the middle of the road, not on the sidewalk. And while he was busy telling me about how he works to keep cycling standards high, he ran right through a stop sign without even slowing down. Puhlease.

    If there\’s a lesson to be learned, it might be this: Yelling at (or being yelled at by) strangers is a lousy way to communicate. Even when you\’re completely right, it\’s still a bad way to get a respectful conversation started.

    And we do need to get this started. If we want our *needs* as equal users of the roadway to be taken seriously, we\’re going to have to take our *responsibilities* more seriously too.

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  • beth h November 13, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    I used to call out scofflaws on bikes, until one of them circled back and threatened me with bodily harm if I didn\’t shut up and mind my own business.

    A bike scofflaw doesn\’t just make me look bad, but also puts all of us bike riders in greater jepoardy because one bad apple can paint a whole opnion in a driver\’s mind. So I have to do SOMEthing when it happens.

    Now I wag my finger silently after the scofflaw as s/he runs the red light. if there is a car driver in plain sight I may turn and look at him/her and shurg my shoulders sadly. Just to send the message that we\’re not all jerks.

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  • mykle November 13, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    I hope mykle #54 gets a nice juicy ticket soon, that would make one less person think the law is just a worthless suggestion.

    Rejoyce, ye! Your prayers for fiery retribution are answered! I actually got busted last summer for running a red light, in the middle of the night, across a deserted intersection, with excellent visibility in all directions.

    You can read about it here.

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  • Steve November 13, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Before I leave. Remember the Jews did exactly what the the Nazis wanted them to to. You know \” We all need to follow the rules, and we will all be ok. We are just taking a shower\”.

    In my 16 plus years as a courier I have come to two conclusions. 1:A cyclist will always be a speed bump to a car.
    2;No matter how many cyclist are road angels, A typical driver will always forget about his/her mushy feelings towards a cyclist if that cyclist gets in the way of a parking spot or yellow light.

    We will always be in the minority. We will always be a cars \”speed bump\”. No matter the intensity of our lobbying.
    Or our collective \”obeying of the laws\”. The \”I had my signal on defence\” will always win out in america. This is not a
    fatalist mind set, just a realist.Ask Dabby #102 he knows.

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  • Dabby November 13, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    Unless you are put in harms way (personally) by the others actions, as in the jogger incident above, it is best to:

    Mind your own business.

    The only real feedback (unless you are lucky) from yelling (which no matter how positive you may feel about it, it will be perceived as negative) at someone else is going to be negative.

    For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    We can thank Sir Issac newton for that little bit of relative wisdom.

    If someone is riding how they want, as most of us admit a percentage of the time to doing, they are also thinking how they want, and nothing you yell or do is really going to change that.

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  • josh m November 13, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    A few people might have mentioned these points. I got tired of reading the same shit over and over. Anyway…

    I think the mentality to react when confronted like that comes from how many times we get yelled at by cars.. not even for disobeying a traffic law. Mostly for just being on the road. Thus your natural reaction when being yelled at while riding is to react in such ways. I might have been libel to react in the same way, but I\’m tired of other cyclists taking upon themselves to expect us all to be exactly the same in our riding styles.

    Also, likely mentioned, if I am correct, that stop sign/light you\’re discussing is for traffic crossing the max and turning south onto Interstate, correct? As in there is no cross traffic, just traffic turning onto interstate, therefore not blocking the bike lane? If this is the spot I\’m thinking of, I never stop at these lights, as unless there are pedestrians, there is no danger. Granted, with a bus parked there, you may not be able to see peds.

    I honestly don\’t care what a bus thinks of my riding. If you spend any considerable time riding downtown, you will notice buses blatantly running red lights constantly, as well as just generally acting like they\’re the only ones on the road.

    And to whoever mentioned that they\’ve never seen a ped react in the same way as the cyclist did when confronted, you\’re quite wrong.
    Again, spend some time downtown. People are constantly crossing against the light, in the middle of the block, etc.. and if you do say something, they\’ll often react in the same way.

    Just because YOU have never seen it happen/done it, doesn\’t mean it doesn\’t happen.

    Generally I enjoy your reporting, Jonathon… but to repeat something someone mentioned above… it must be a slow news day. This seems hardly worth reporting.

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  • crallspace November 14, 2007 at 12:10 am

    Even us cyclists can get anarchistic about things. We\’re not ONE breed. I admit, I sometimes break the law and maybe…maybe would flip someone off for saying that to me, especially with \”buddy\” thrown in there. I mean, that almost begs for a middle finger.

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  • wsbob November 14, 2007 at 12:18 am

    Sure, it\’s great hearing about cycling from the perspective of bike messengers, but their witness to all the miserable antics that lazy incompetent road users perpetrate upon responsible road users does not for me, add up to the formula for the kind of cycling/motor vehicle environment of the future that people should submit to. Conditions that encourage people to work together for something better than that must be created.

    The bicycle/motor vehicle environment must be safe, accessible and functional for as wide a spectrum of the public as possible to ensure that environment\’s greatest chance of success. Most people aren\’t, or shouldn\’t be wanting to ride like some bike messengers seem to believe they must to keep their job. Excusing away spoiled rotten behavior such as flipping people off or disregarding traffic regulatory devices is not the kind of thing that is going to help cycling successfully take off on a much larger scale than it is today.

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  • Matthew November 14, 2007 at 1:37 am

    #113 \”Remember the Jews did exactly what the the Nazis wanted them to to. You know \” We all need to follow the rules, and we will all be ok. We are just taking a shower\”.\”

    1) Godwins law.
    2) Sometimes following the rules is a good thing. Imagine what would happen if everyone ignored red lights all the time, even at the busiest intersections?

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  • Dabby November 14, 2007 at 7:27 am

    My take:

    Mind your own business.

    \”For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction\”

    The only thing that will come from a yelled or reactionary response to someone else\’s actions, whether you agree with them or not, is a negative reaction back to you. (unless for some reason they stop and discuss it with you, which happens once in a blue moon)and even then it is not worth it, for if they stop, it could just get ugly.

    Unless that person has personally put you at risk, it is really none of your business what they do with their life, no matter what impact you may believe it has on cycling in general. (I added that because I do realize the effect such actions have on cycling in general)

    Is best just to ride on,and put it behind you.

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  • Patti November 14, 2007 at 7:50 am

    Message to red-light-running cyclist ..the person who yelled out to you wasn\’t doing so for one-upmanship..he did it because you were/are breaking the law. You responded in a childish way. Grow up and accept your responsibilities.

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  • Joe November 14, 2007 at 8:19 am

    karma effects the person doing it.
    as people we can make a diffrence, today
    this car tried to go passed me, I just used a nice hand jester to make him aware
    of me.. * thanks for waiting *

    waving is ok but becareful.
    Joe

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  • pushkin November 14, 2007 at 8:38 am

    Patti, you\’ve got it all wrong!

    If you are given or give the bird, here are some real childish responses for those situations:

    I\’m rubber, you\’re glue,
    So get a patch and fix a tube.

    Or:

    I don\’t grow up, stop, or slow up,
    \’Cause if I skid too much my tire blows up.

    (Facial.)

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  • scott November 14, 2007 at 8:53 am

    #112 Rejoyce, ye! Your prayers for fiery retribution are answered! I actually got busted last summer for running a red light, in the middle of the night, across a deserted intersection, with excellent visibility in all directions.

    You can read about it here.

    well played sir! point taken

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  • Lisa November 14, 2007 at 9:40 am

    Garlynn: Why should it be OK for bikes to proceed through a red light after stopping? Should cars be allowed to do this too? If not, what\’s the difference? (And if your answer is \”the cyclist is only endangering herself\”, please rethink.)

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  • Lisa November 14, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Alan: \”…it was still my duty to see Mr. Invisible and stop.\”

    Nope. It was your duty to stop so you could see Mr. Invisible.

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  • toddistic November 14, 2007 at 10:08 am

    everyone needs to go ride their bike and stop posting on here.

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  • pushkin November 14, 2007 at 10:20 am

    I agree with toddistic. Let\’s end this discussion, be good to each other and remember there is always a silver lining:

    If it wasn\’t for people flipping me off on my commute I\’d get no action at all.

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  • Joe R. November 14, 2007 at 10:35 am

    This brings up a good issue Jonathan. All I can do is stop myself when I\’m supposed to stop (at lights and stop-controlled intersections). I can\’t make everyone else stop. Unfortunately, other cyclists\’ actions have ramifications on me and you, whether we all like it or not. What do we do about it?

    Well, there are some cyclists who are never gonna change. These are the ones that have always been cyclists and actually don\’t care whether or not cycling increases (and ironically enough, some actually prefer less cyclists on the road). Then there are those that learn about the benefits of cycling from friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors. This is the bunch we can affect.

    In an alternate reality, I would suggest the police step in to deter such reckless behavior, but given the police\’s crackdown/stings on petty violations I refuse to look to them for help.

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  • hmm November 14, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Why no posting about the recent bike/car collision in Milwaukie?

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  • Dabby November 14, 2007 at 11:41 am

    What is going on here?

    Jonathan,

    Some comments are disappearing,just to let you know. My last two, which were good, never showed up….

    Thought you should know.

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  • Garlynn -- undergroundscience.blogspot.com November 14, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Lisa asked, in #121:

    Garlynn: Why should it be OK for bikes to proceed through a red light after stopping? Should cars be allowed to do this too? If not, what\’s the difference? (And if your answer is \”the cyclist is only endangering herself\”, please rethink.)

    No, Lisa, cars should not be allowed to do this also. I refer you to my blog post on this issue. It\’s already the law in Idaho — there is, therefore, already legal precedent:

    http://undergroundscience.blogspot.com/2006/12/lets-expand-idahos-bicycle-code.html

    cheers,
    ~Garlynn

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  • Chad November 14, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Bottom line:
    Red light blowers are LAZY.

    That\’s alright, I kinda like getting the opportunity to pass you three different times in-between the lights that you don\’t stop at while on my way to work.

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  • 21 speed November 14, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Just a couple of comments based on the school of hard knocks:

    1) If the cyclist could see that it was safe to blow the light then I personally see no problem with him doing it. By blowing the light he was not sitting next to a bus inhaling diesel fumes and taking the chance of getting run over when the traffic started moving and he was making good time.

    2) Do not be offended by the finger gesture – be thankful that he didn\’t come back and get into a fist fight with you – any time you confront someone in our society today you are opening yourself up to potential conflict possibly involving violence. (That isn\’t the way it should be but that\’s the way it is.) You lucked out in this case. If you yell at a motor vehicle driver you are putting yourself at extreme risk – you SHOULD be a little safer yelling at a cyclist.

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  • john November 14, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    That dude sounds like an asshole, but you\’re not his dad.

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  • Lisa November 14, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    Garlynn: I read your posts before asking my questions, which they didn\’t answer. What\’s the fundamental difference that would make it OK for bikes to do this but not cars? I see the argument for allowing bikes to treat *some* stop signs as yields, but I\’m completely baffled by the assertion that it should ever be OK for any vehicle to go through a red light. (I\’m really glad I don\’t have to walk or drive in Idaho on a regular basis, BTW.)

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  • Jon November 14, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Jonathan, this seems somewhat trivial to me. After having my parked car vandalized during a Critical Mass ride, and watching cyclists gleefully snapping photos of a head-on car collision outside of the Red & Black Cafe, no amount of stupidity or rudeness from Portland\’s cycling \”community\” surprises me.
    I mean, haven\’t you read the discussions here on the merits of drunk cycling and debates on the personhood of transients as they apply to fatality statistics?
    According to PDOT, 90% of Portland cyclists also \”drive\” (or whatever passes for driving in this town), so before you start getting all \”we\” about this, try to remember who \”we\” is: A big collection of \”me\”s just doing my thing with blinders on. Until something bad happens, then it\’s your fault.
    Hope this clears things up a bit.

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  • 21 speed November 14, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Answer for # 134:

    IF you are on a bike and can see AND HEAR what is going on around you then there is no risk in running red lights. BUT UNDERSTAND you must be POSITIVE that it is safe to do it. A lot of us who cycled before it was fashionable have dealt successfully with cars with no problems for many years. You watch out for cars, you stay out of their way, you get out of their way if you get in their way, you ride fast and aggressive, you do not obey laws made for cars, you ride to keep your butt out of danger and you do whatever it takes to do that. Before it was fashionable to cycle and there wasn\’t an uproar because we broke the law we did these things very successfully. UNDERSTAND that to ride like this means you must be in shape to be able to accelerate like a batouttahell when the need arises, to not be afraid to lock \’em up if needed, etc. UNDERSTAND that you if you ride like this and you make a mistake that you may pay a severe price: because of that understanding few ever made mistakes.

    There is NO WAY that cars can run lights safely – the drivers cannot hear what is happening around them, their vision is limited, AND THE CONSEQUENCES IF THEY ARE WRONG ARE OFTEN FATAL; extremely rarely are the consequences as severe for cyclists, except to the cyclist him/herself.

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  • Garlynn -- undergroundscience.blogspot.com November 14, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Lisa: Fundamental difference? About 3750 pounds.

    Note that the key language in the Idaho law refers to safety — if it\’s unsafe, it\’s not legal. Obviously, if a collision were to result, it would have been an unsafe maneuver, and charges could still be filed. So, I\’m not sure what your complaint might be.

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  • Lisa November 14, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Garlynn: If I were a pedestrian or another cyclist who collided with you on a bike going through a red light I would have a complaint. If I were a driver who killed you while you were going through a red light, or swerved and hit a phone pole or oncoming traffic, or was simply scared out of my wits, I would have a complaint. If I carried health insurance and knew that my rates were higher in order to pay for the care of cyclists injured going through red lights, I would have a complaint. If my windshield were broken by you coming through it while going through a red light and I had to take my car to the body shop I would have a complaint. If one of my daughters learned by watching you that it might be OK to go through red lights and was hurt or killed doing so I would have a complaint.

    Of course, not all of these complaints would be of the same severity.

    Traffic laws should be established to reduce the likelihood of collisions, not just to mete out justice when they occur.

    Traffic safety is based on the principle of each participant being able to foresee the actions of the others.

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  • mommy November 14, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Okay, first of all, the comparison to nazi germany and traffic laws is so completely out of this world that I don\’t even know where to start tearing it apart. I really don\’t think that the minor inconvenience of waiting at a traffic light even remotely compares to being burned alive for your religious beliefs. So please, get over yourself. We are still allowed freedom of speech in this country (for the most part) and you are very free to voice your protest and go through the proper channels if you think we have unjust laws. The oregon initiative process makes that pretty easy for you. Start gathering signatures if you feel strongly. Making yourself out to be a persecuted bike commuter forced by the evil dictator to wait for the light to turn green is pretty laughable. Get over yourself.

    I do think there are times when going through a red light might be safe. I didn\’t say running the light, but going through it while it\’s still red if nobody is coming. That is what pedestrians do in downtown all the time and I consider it perfectly safe – it\’s no different than crossing at an intersection where there is no light. IT IS however illegal. And, as I said in the first paragraph – work for systemic change, don\’t be a vigilante. I personally am not so impatient that I can\’t handle waiting a minute or two, so I won\’t be starting the petition.

    To anyone who whines: We have GOT to live in one of the EASIEST places in the world to get laws changed. If you are going to whine, by golly do something. If your efforts don\’t pay off, it\’s because you are in the minority. (uh, unless you are up against big tobacco.=))

    One more thing – I think sometimes we don\’t realize the reasons for design of traffic flow. It\’s really pretty complicated. I was talking to someone the other day who didn\’t know that you aren\’t supposed to turn left across a double yellow. And it seems stupid at first. But pay attention – most of the places where there is a double yellow not allowing you to turn left, there is another way to get where you are going that is better for the general flow of traffic. Most of the laws are designed to help traffic flow smoothly with the least disruption to the greatest majority of users. Traffic problems mainly occur when these laws are broken. If you don\’t think a particular intersection makes sense, maybe you should contact the traffic planning department at city hall before you just ignore it.

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  • Lisa November 14, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    One final rant, I can\’t help myself: If we\’re going to base traffic law on vehicle weights, shall we classify mopeds and vespas as bikes or cars, or should they have their own special rules? What about electric scooters, and bikes with motor assists? What about motorcycles and 1-person electric cars? Should the rules for convertibles with the top down be different because their drivers can see and hear more? OK, I\’m done.

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  • Martha S. November 14, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    I think the bigger issue here is not that there are jerks on bikes, as has been said by others the will ALWAYS be assholes in any group. The issue is that when people see THAT cyclist being a jerk, they tend not to think \”God, what a jerk.\” they think \”God, cyclists are such jerks.\” I wonder, Jonathan, how many of the spectators of this event bothered to considder you – riding safely and obeying traffic laws – in their personal interpretation of the events.

    In my experience the percentage of drivers that are disrespectful on the road is aproximately equal to the percentage of cyclists, though that disrespect may manifest in different ways. The difference is that the drivers are seen as individuals where as the actions of the cyclists seem to reflect on anyone who rides.

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  • e November 14, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    To all who stop at that light, Thanks! I work right near here, and daily we see near misses at this location. Thanks again.

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  • uma November 14, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    Ugh.

    On the one hand is someone wants to blow through the light/stopsign/whatever and put in a bid for the Bicycle Darwin Awards, let them.

    On the other hand, yes, we\’re seen as a group, and yes the crimes of one of the group are paid for by the many. We–each one of us as individuals–shape public percepttion of us all. We demand respect and consideration, but flaunt the law, and end up shaping that perception very negatively.

    On the third hand (it\’s not my planet, Monkeyboy) safe riding is often not legal riding. Personally, I\’m opting for safe, and as often as possible, legal. I like fast, oh yes. And actually, I like risk too! But I UNDERSTAND how the world is judging us by our actions, and I would really like THEM (drivers) to someday see US (cyclists) as people, above all else. Blowing the stops will never encourage that view.

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  • Alison November 14, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    To Mykle, #54:

    No, you don\’t have the right, period. It\’s not about you. You share the road with many others, some of whom would be ethically obligated to stop and render assistance should your dumb actions result in injury to yourself or others. Follow the signs, don\’t interpret them to your personal satisfaction. Vote or work to change existing laws if you don\’t like them.

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  • Dabby November 14, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    \”\”To anyone who whines: We have GOT to live in one of the EASIEST places in the world to get laws changed. If you are going to whine, by golly do something. If your efforts don\’t pay off, it\’s because you are in the minority. (uh, unless you are up against big tobacco.=))\”\”

    In case you don\’t know, we also live in one of the easiest places in the world for a solitary politician to yank needed changes off the Govenor\”s desk for personal reasons, against the wishes of her (oh, not to point fingers too much here, so I will also add) or his, constituents.

    This is what has occurred when we have tried to get ordinances changed in favor of cycling. Of course if it involves cars or pedestrians, it seems to glide right on through.

    I must admit that, in my opinion , the approach of convenience for cyclists taken towards the attempted change of yield laws probably also helped in it\’s downfall. It was entirely the wrong approach. Hell, I would have voted against it the way it sounded, and was presented by some.

    The proper approach for the future of possible changes to the yield law would be a matter of safety and momentum.

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  • woogie November 15, 2007 at 8:25 am

    21 Speed #137

    Based on your premise you are running a red, breaking the law, to be safe from the big bad cars.

    you do not obey laws made for cars, you ride to keep your butt out of danger and you do whatever it takes to do that

    Explain how stopping for a red light and waiting for the light to change is less safe then running the red light? It would seem to me that having the legal right of way is safer than making a judgment call at 20mph.

    There is never a justification for running a red light.

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  • meh November 15, 2007 at 8:35 am

    Miles #33

    Yes his ass on on a bike, but, after having similar experiences (ie running lights, wrong way down a one way street or flipping off) almost every week drivers will relate the actions of the few to all bikers. And frankly, bike messengers are the worst of the lot when it comes to bad PR. I\’ve had them blow through stop signs/lights WHILE I\’M STARTING TO MOVE. Its a serious problem, and when you ad it to a rebel attitude (like many have on this site) you create a war.

    And don deny it, many on this site have referred to it as a war between \”us and them\” or \”those evil machines\”. And yes I\’m well aware that drivers are just as guilty. I\’ve had semi\’s push me off the shoulder while riding down the coast, intentionally.

    If we don\’t start calling out bad behavior of cyclists who will?

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  • Jerry November 15, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Johnathon,
    I think this website is a great service to the community, but when you see someone endanger themselves your only concern is what people will think about YOU? How egocentric can you be? It is this kind of self-centered thinking that is to blame for the conflict on the roads.

    If someone wants to kill him/herself by driving under traffic, that sucks for them, and the person driving the murder weapon, but the bit of tarnish on YOUR sparkling do-gooder/ law-abider reputation is by comparison insignificant.

    How about next time instead of pointing out the obvious and judging someone as a scofflaw and bad apple you (and the rest of us) offer a prayer and a verbal wish that the PERSON arrives at his/her destination safely.

    By focusing on the negative, judging others and publicly exhibiting a sense of superiority over your fellow HUMANS you are only making things worse.

    It is easier, and more fun to shout \”BE SAFE\” or \”ARRIVE ALIVE\” than to be pissy and condescending.

    (and if this post is not too your liking Johnathan, I hope you at least think about it before hating on another PERSON or expressing that hate in your forum even if you do not post this reply.)

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  • Jimmy November 15, 2007 at 10:18 am

    First, mind your own business. Second, I don\’t give a flying \”f\” if my riding techniques set back the \”bike community\” and their quest for respect from community at large. It\’s cut throat when you commute on a saddle and when I ride I have one thing in mind, survival. And if there\’s one thing I\’ve learned is that abiding by the law, riding where I\’m told, and doing everything by the letter of the law is the fastest way to get right hooked.

    Why is it you felt the need to tell a biker he ran a red light? He knows a-hole. You\’re lucky you got the finger. Next time you feel the need to tell other riders how to get from point a to point b you might find yourself face down on the pavement scooping your teeth out of the gutter.

    Shut your mouth and mind your own business. It\’s people like you that make me want to get out of the saddle and get behind the wheel of my SUV.

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  • Frank LL. November 15, 2007 at 10:18 am

    You got flipped off because you deserve it. Shut up and mind your own business.

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  • woogie November 15, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Gee Jerry,

    A little two faced aren\’t we.

    f someone wants to kill him/herself by driving under traffic, that sucks for them, and the person driving the murder weapon

    All people who drive cars are driving a murder weapon? That\’s a pretty hateful statement.

    The only prayers to offer are not for the red light runner, but for the other users of the road who have to deal with his lack of respect for safety.

    Would the voicing of BE SAFE or ARRIVE ALIVE been met with anything other than a one finger salute from the perpetrator? Not likely since \”The lights red Buddy\” includes the idea that, \”you\’re not riding safely\’ and \”you might not get where you are going\”.

    And I for one don\’t like having someone pass between me and a bus at high speed. It does endanger me and the passengers on the bus who could have been exiting while he passed.

    The riders right to be an *ssh*l* ends when he infringes on others right to safety.

    Jonathan, feel free to call out anyone on bikes, in cars, on foot or on transit who blatantly risks both their own and others safety through stupidity in traffic. Everyone needs to be reminded once in a while that they need to pay more attention to being safe over being on time.

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  • GaG123 November 15, 2007 at 10:22 am

    At the core of this article is the misnomer that all cyclist are a community and somehow they should band together. While that might be the best methodology for evoking change, the fact of the matter is that not all who ride a bike are interested in being a part of the bicycling community as evidenced by the individual who delivered the \”number 1\” sign.

    There are many people who ride their bike to work, but would never define themselves as cyclist. A bicycle is simply a means of transportation and progressing the plight of the super-commuter with the orange vest all the lights, mirror on the helmet, etc…is not an interest.

    I think we\’re starting to see that not all who ride bikes identify themselves as part of Portland\’s \”Bicycle Community\”.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) November 15, 2007 at 10:34 am

    \”I think we\’re starting to see that not all who ride bikes identify themselves as part of Portland\’s \”Bicycle Community\”.\”

    I agree with you 100% and I\’m well-aware of this fact.

    I did not mention anything about a \”bicycle community\” in the article.

    I merely wanted to point out my experience to see how readers of this site responded.

    I think it\’s awesome that there are so many bicyclists in Portland that many of them feel no need to identify as part of the \”community\”.

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  • pushkin November 15, 2007 at 10:35 am

    This discussion has brought to mind something that happened to me.

    The other day I bought a box of Lady Finger cookies and when I got home I noticed one was missing. So I rode back to the store and told the manager and he gave me the finger.

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  • wsbob November 15, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Jimmy #150 and Frank LL #151, you two are a couple of fine specimens. Attitudes and behavior like yours on bikes makes \”your business\” everybody elses business. Why do cops harrass morons on bikes? Thanks for answering that question.

    There\’s such a thing as evasive defense riding or driving technique that might occasionally require operation outside a strict literal adherence to traffic regulations and laws. There\’s a whole lot more riding and driving behavior on the streets that\’s merely the product of people caring only about themselves. That kind of behavior seems to exactly describe you two guys.

    There will probably always be a few morons around thinking they can do whatever they want to do, even where the success of a well operating infrastructure requires general consensus to a certain mode of use. They are not helping to make for a better bike/motor vehicle environment than we have right now, and that\’s too bad, because this is where all available energy really needs to be spent.

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  • Jeff TB November 15, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Hey Frank LL:

    Jonathan yelled at the guy because he deserved it.

    Now, shut up and mind your own buisiness.

    Hypocrite.

    Jerry:

    Expressing concern for how an individuals actions may negatively effect the safety of other bike riders/cylists is not being egocentric.

    And speaking of self centered:
    Jimmy:

    My first thought was to wish the business end of an SUV on the working end of your central nervous system. Just a bump of course. But on second thought…
    I agree with the idea that sometimes one needs to bend the law to stay safe. Using that premise to justify putting others at risk is tougher to swallow. Cutthroat? Wow. I don\’t get that feeling very often.

    Anyway, stay safe fellow rider. And please don\’t get behind the wheel of your SUV.

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  • pushkin November 15, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Jeff TB – I am not really sure he \”deserved\” it. I deserve a Trek Madone but on my barista salary it\’s just not in the cards, now is it?

    As for shutting up I refer you to my post #122 (from my forthcoming book Childish Responses – Analysis and History, Ch. 1 \”Rhymes for the Times\”), which I have now edited, at your provocation, to:

    I don\’t shut up, stop, or slow up,
    \’Cause if I skid too much my tire blows up.

    And in the spirit of understanding and celebrating diversity has anyone considered that the guy may have been color blind and suffering from a nervous tick?

    In defense of Jimmy I would prefer it if he did get behind the wheel of his SUV b/c I can\’t figure out how else he would drive it.

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  • Jeff TB November 15, 2007 at 11:58 am

    pushkin – I am sure that you realized that I was modifying Frank LL\’s post #151 in my response to him. I thought it was funny.

    I don\’t know if you deserve a Madone, but I hope you get one.

    I will stick with my comment about Jimmy. Cutthroat drivers are more dangerous than cutthroat riders.

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  • pushkin November 15, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Very well Jeff TB, I will perform better due dilligence in the future before posting.

    Frank LL I am calling you out, see post #158 regarding rhymes and shutting up.

    Old men playing cutthroat racquetball are the most dangerous of all.

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  • rixtir November 15, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Shut your mouth and mind your own business. It\’s people like you that make me want to get out of the saddle and get behind the wheel of my SUV.

    I\’m not surprised, you\’re just a road rager on a bike, nothing more.

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  • john November 15, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    I think its safe to say douchebags are douchebags. Bikers are absolutely no better than people who drive cars.

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  • Jeremy November 15, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    Hate to say it, I see it everytime I\’m in town. I\’ve watched riders blow through 3, even 4 red lights in a row. I do not see it any different than a car doing the same thing, except that a cyclist is risking his/her life much more so than a driver. Someone who does that is almost asking to get hurt or worse, like jimmy.

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  • Randy November 15, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    Thank you Toddistic. Let\’s bike and be seen. Then… More bikes, more bikes, and more bikes. It\’s time for us bikers to be more inclusive of each other and our views in order to help each other. It\’s Portland Bike Kulture Time.

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  • mommy November 15, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    In response to Dabby #146

    I don\’t know the ins and outs of your situation, but it sounds like you were trying to go through legislature? So the next step would be to gather signatures to get a measure on the ballot. It seems anyone can do that – I don\’t know all the rules, but when you look at some of the craziness on the ballot in the past, you have to think it\’s pretty easy to do.

    Any good government is playing the difficult game of trying to balance everyone\’s needs/wants while keeping it safe for everyone. They will try to fulfill the wants of the many while protecting the safety of all. When you consider the diversity of the wants and needs of the population, it is a nearly impossible job. I think passion is good and helps the process. Even anger can be constructive. Voicing your opinions and frustrations and getting people to see your side is important. Being a vigilante and seemingly random obeyance of laws (as opposed to a structured, peaceful protest) only impedes the process and delays change in the long run.

    My completely unprofessional opinion is that the people who run the lights and try to rationalize why it\’s okay are the same types who rationalize shoplifting by saying the store is overpriced. It is a basically self-centered view of the world, where your own immediate desires and impulses trump the good of the whole.

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  • Lisa November 16, 2007 at 8:11 am

    I love you, mommy

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  • pushkin November 16, 2007 at 9:15 am

    If you\’re havin light runner problems
    I feel bad for you son
    I got 99 problems but a finger ain\’t one.

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  • Jerry November 16, 2007 at 11:19 am

    woogie #147: Blowing a red light can be the safer thing to do. Stopping at a red light can make you a stationary target that then proceeds when the light turns green, the same as the motorist who is about to take you out with a right hook. Either way it is a personal decision. You want to stop? Good for you. You want to make sure every other cyclist follows the letter of the law? Check out http://www.portlandonline.com/joinportlandpolice/
    They are looking for a few good storm troopers.

    Woogie #152 I suppose it is possible that accidents occur where motorists are being entirely attentive, are not under the influence of alcohol, road rage, or hatred for cyclists (which seems to be a justification for running us over that
    scofflaw cyclists are creating and motorists have no way to overcome according to you and Jeff TB#157) But I would posit that they are in the vast minority of such incidents.
    If I use a car or a gun or baseball bat carelessly and it results in a death I am guilty of negligent homicide. My car/gun/bat would indeed be a murder weapon. It sounds harsh because it is harsh.

    And you obviously missed the point of trying to offer a POSITIVE message and energy to others.
    Would the voicing of BE SAFE or ARRIVE ALIVE been met with anything other than a one finger salute from the perpetrator? Not likely since \”The lights red Buddy\” includes the idea that, \”you\’re not riding safely\’ and \”you might not get where you are going\”.
    You are absolutely right. \”The light is red BUDDY\” is inherently a negative message that includes both of the negative thoughts you name. And if I offer positive thoughts and wishes to someone they may very well respond negatively, but that is their problem. I did what I could. I know, like Mr. Robert Marley said, \”The only mind you can change is your own.\”

    People have different thoughts and beliefs and as long as they are not hurting anyone else they can act on those beliefs and be free to face the consequences of those actions. If I run a red light I may get killed or a ticket. If I point out a red light to someone I may get the finger. This is still (barely) a free country. God(dess) bless America!

    (And if your reputation and public perception of your \”community\” is so central to you that you cannot stand by while a fellow cyclist runs a red light, how do you stand by while fellow men abuse women, fellow whites lynch blacks, and fellow Americans kill innocents abroad?)

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  • josh m November 16, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    you know. to think of it… i\’m trying to figure out the last time someone was killed blowing a red light?
    When was the last time someone got killed while stopped at a red light? oh yeah… that\’s right.

    Anyway, and again above with the messenger hate. I always hear about how messengers give cyclists a bad name, but yet… the only time messengers are injured is when they\’re not breaking the law… funny how that works.

    Also, I agree with what another person said. we all don\’t want to be party of YOUR community. I don\’t wear a helmet, and I don\’t have hand brakes. If that is bad PR for you, too fucking bad. I\’m not part of your community. I don\’t want to be.

    Bah.

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  • Jeff TB November 16, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Hey Jerry:

    What??

    You reference me in #168. Something about bike hating and justification. I would like to respond but need some clarifacation from you. What is your point? Please re-read your and my previous posts before responding.

    And what happened to your \”egocentric\” accusation?

    One thing: You state \”People have different thoughts and beliefs and as long as they are not hurting anyone else, they can act on those beliefs and be free to face the consequences of those actions.\”

    I agree. But that is not the case here. We don\’t live in a vacume. Actions of few, can affect perceptions of us all. Traveled outside the country lately? Believe it or not, Americans aren\’t liked much. The perception of individual americans is being affected by actions of a few.

    Should I go on about how certain PPD officers perceive cyclists and how their judgement is effected by this perception?

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  • Zaphod November 16, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Here\’s a funny one.

    Rolling down Broadway towards the bridge downtown. It\’s quite easy to go 20+. I\’m in a middle lane with the green (unambiguous green mind you) and a jaywalker is crossing heading towards me. My vector is such that we\’re not going to tag but it\’s kind of close so I maintained speed & direction. We held eye contact during the whole 5 seconds of the moment. As I\’m passing, he treats me with a \”Pfffffffffffffffffffffft\” razberry sound. I still don\’t know what it meant but I laughed all the way home. It was a beautiful moment shared with a stranger.

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  • He Man November 16, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    \”like Mr. Robert Marley said…\”

    That\’s The Honorable Robert Nesta Marley, O.M. to you buddy.

    ..and yeah, those guys who say that commuting is like running the gauntlet are just road ragers on bikes. they\’re just praying someone will f with them so they have a story to tell at the Ash Street later…

    …and i think people who drop ALL CAPS a lot and talk about how they were biking \”before it was fashionable\”(???) are the guy who had that Yahoo blog in disguise.

    that\’s all.

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  • Sharky November 17, 2007 at 8:13 am

    This is in response to Ron. First off Ron I am a messenger, and have been for 8 years now about 8 to 11 hour days on my bike Ron, 5 of those in Philadelphia, they would not be having this conversation there.
    Downtown, and my commute in I stop at almost every light. I pick up my son after work, and have a very small window to do so.
    I am sorry I am not part of your bike community, I have survived by the way I ride for money, and as odd as it sounds for my own safety. People had stuff to say when I carried my son in my messenger bag as well. I am not trying to affect what people think of cyclist, I just would like not to be included thanks. Sharky

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  • wsbob November 17, 2007 at 10:59 am

    Ah-h-h, mr sharky, apparently the wack-job rider mentioned by Ron (comment #5 …blue fixed gear with distinctive wheels (white, large star spoked…), is a messenger. Survives by riding like a jerk with no regard for anyone but himself and his own. Well, that nicely justifies every idiotic stunt in the book doesn\’t it?

    Hey, is there any chance you can adjust your principles so as to try not to ride in a way that might cause someone else to crash into somebody or something when you\’re pulling this crazy shit off? Other people want to survive too. Think about it.

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  • Dabby November 17, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    Mommy,

    I was not trying to go through any legislation.

    Other\’s were trying to get things pushed through, and were shut down by the personal views of senators and family who sadly had entirely the wrong information on what their constituents were trying to get done.

    This is the problem.

    If you had ever read anything I wrote, you would see that my whole stance is breaking the laws, as most do at some point or another during their riding day, is detrimental.

    Yet, for some, it is needed to stay alive. This is where the problem lies.
    I do not need a lecture on this point.

    I have lived this point, and, case in point, have survived it.

    Now, to the others who relish on messenger bashing, a profession that is one of, if not the, most dangerous there is, I give you one quote.

    For some reason I think it was Will Rogers who wrote it:

    \”Though shalt not criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins\”

    That is one mile many of you would never survive.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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  • annefi November 17, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Jerry, #149 states:

    \”If someone wants to kill him/herself by driving under traffic, that sucks for them, and the person driving the murder weapon…\”

    I believe that under the circumstances of running red lights at full speed through heavy traffic intersections, the car becomes the suicide device.

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  • 21 speed November 23, 2007 at 12:02 am

    Woogie asks in appx post #147 above:

    \”Explain how stopping for a red light and waiting for the light to change is less safe then running the red light? It would seem to me that having the legal right of way is safer than making a judgment call at 20mph.\”

    Woogie, READ the first two sentences of my post again – I said it is safer to go through the light IF you have a clear view and are POSITIVE that it\’s safe. In that case it\’s safer to keep going and GET AWAY FROM THE INTERSECTION! Why? Because if you wait until the light turns green there may be cars piling up around you that will start moving all at once when the light turns green. They may not all be aware that you are at the intersection. One of them may hit you. You are vulnerable, on a bicycle, with NO PROTECTION WHATSOEVER. Why make your safety dependent on your small bicycle being visible to a distracted car driver in a congested intersection? A car drive has a much better chance of seeing you if he is coming up behind you on a straight stretch of the street (assuming you are properly clothed in yellow or orange). By running the red light safely you place yourself in a more safe place for bicycling. On a straight stretch of the street you only have one car at a time to worry about hitting you: the one behind you, not many cars as in an intersection. (You may also have to worry about PARKED cars dooring you or pulling out in front of you, etc, but you ALWAYS have to deal with that if passing parked cars.

    I recommend that you stay away from large masses of moving motor vehicles whenever possible. For me, that is the safest thing to do. However if you have poor reflexes, poor senses, slow judgement, or just feel better about following laws made for motorized vehicles then YOU SHOULD FOLLOW THE LAW! But please do not force me to follow laws that will make my ride less safe.

    Hope this helps.

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  • Kyda April 15, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Stop being such babies! You know what, when cars stop blaring their horns while behind me and running me off the road, I in turn will stop wizzing by them at the traffic light that they were in such a hurry to get to… You should try to get ANYWHERE in Philly or NYC without passing cars or cruising thru intersections, its truly an exercise in futility.. I don\’t personally don\’t think its any worse than j-walking (when using good discretion)

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  • S July 10, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Sorry but I really don\’t see the point of posting this. Some people are jerks. Some people are not. Either way, it\’s not news, it\’s just you looking for a pat on the back.

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