The TriMet bus operator who started a petition hoping to stop a plan to allow bike access through the Rose Quarter Transit Center has just left a comment here on BikePortland.org explaining his views.
Dan Christensen wrote that he loves to bike and that “one of the best times” of his life was a bike tour through Europe with his wife.
In his comment, Christensen also tries to make it clear that his concerns do not come from a hatred of bikes (“I love bikes and what they are bringing to my beloved city”), but that, “before we put bike lanes through Rose Quarter all voices should be heard.”
“If anyone would like to speak to me on this issue or have me come and speak before my fellow bicyclist of Portland I would gladly do so.”
Christensen makes a plea to discuss the issue in person in an open forum with bus and MAX operators and people that bike through the area. He writes, “I would jump at the chance of talking to anyone or any group on this issue.”
He also shares that while, “we have a few drivers at Tri-met that would ban bikes from Portland if they could,” he also says those drivers are the exception to the rule.
Back in March, in the wake of an emotional period following the tragic death of Austin Miller, I met with two TriMet operators. We discussed many issues including bike safety, TriMet’s internal commitment to creating a bike-friendly work environment, how TriMet communicates with and trains its drivers, and more. One of the operators (who did not want to be named out of fear of retaliation by TriMet) expressed a willingness to moderate a discussion between bicyclists and bus operators.
It seems like now Mr. Christensen would like to assume that role. I’ll have more on all this soon. For now, read the full text of his comment below:
“My name is Dan Christensen
I’m the driver who started the petition at Tri-Met.
I love to bike. I should be doing more of it but right now according to my doctor but I can only fit in a once a week bike commute. One of the best times of my life was going on a bike trip through Europe in 1990 with my wife. Nothing can be as fun as getting trapped on the Swindon five way roundabout hub in rush hour with a bike full of camping gear. Weeeeee! Some how I made it out alive thanks to a cabbie that let me grab onto his side of his car. He pulled me out of harms way and I learned a good lesson about head up driving.
Now it’s been a while since I biked full time but back in the day I only used a bike to get around for years and Portland was not half so bike friendly as it is right now. I’m sure most of you reading this will remember those days when you were surprised to find a bike lane.
I just wanted you to know that I don”t hate bikes. I love bikes and what they are bringing to my beloved city. Portland has a bright future and it’s only going to get better. Bicycle and the Biking community is going to be a large part of that bright future.
This petition was not a knee jerk reaction against bikes. I am not going to sugar coat things here, we have a few drivers at Tri-met that would ban bikes from Portland if they could. We also have some who say “let them go through and as soon as one of them is killed they will know” These are the exception. On the opposite side of the spectrum we have drivers who are bicyclist as well. Most drivers fall right in the middle.
Ask your self, when was the last time you heard of 250 bus drivers who use an area signing a petition? This has never been done before in Portland. I don’t think this forum is a good one to go through the why’s but I think it’s far to easy to just discount this unique event and the perspective of those driving the ninety ton train and twenty ton bus next to you. It may be valuable to hear what it is they are saying and ask questions in person.
I would jump at the chance of talking to anyone or any group on this issue. All I’m saying is before we put bike lanes through Rose Quarter all voices should be heard. Not just spokesmen pr spokesperson for one side or another. Clearly the unprecedented petition of drivers willing to risk their jobs to speak out should be cause to say, lets put this on hold or maybe we have not thought of everything.
If anyone would like to speak to me on this issue or have me come and speak before my fellow bicyclist of Portland I would gladly do so.
My name is Dan Christensen
My home phone is 503 933-2758
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
No matter how you come down on this issue clearly not all voices have been heard. Can we not delay a week or two until all the voices are heard? How can this harm anyone?”
Could this be an opportunity to heal divisions between TriMet operators and people who ride bikes in Portland? What are your thoughts? Would you be interested in attended an open “Town Hall” style forum?