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“I don’t hate bikes”; Rose Quarter petitioner reaches out

Posted by on August 29th, 2008 at 1:40 pm

bikes and buses

(Photo © J. Maus)

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 dan@sonnetoptics.net

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?

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

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a.O
Guest

In a word: Disingenuous.

If you wanted to have a conversation about it, why\’d you go through the trouble of signing a petition that said \”No\” and then going to the media without starting a dialogue first?

And why should I care whether you like bikes? Because you want it to look like your proposed ban is reasonble. It isn\’t.

Whyat
Guest
Whyat

What EVER a.O. I am so sick of the knee jerk reactions on this board.
God forbid you give someone with an opposing view point the time of day.

Dan- I\’m sorry that the first comment on this board is so negative. I for one appreciate your comments. While I might not agree with every one of your points, I appreciate you taking the time to explain yourself and to reach out to the PDX cycling community.

Here\’s the deal people. If you live in a major urban area there are going to be times that you don\’t get catered to 100% of the time. God forbid people like Dan try to save lives in the way that they personally think is the best.

a.O
Guest

So now you get to have an opinion but I don\’t? FWIW Whyat, I\’m sick of your opinions too. Maybe you should try doing what Christensen purports to want and be open to dialogue rather than calling names.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

a.O. and Whyat,

both of your opinions are valued and appreciated on this site. But please just watch the tone and make sure everything is written as respectfully as possible.

And remember, your comments play an important role in determining the impact and effectiveness of BikePortland.org as a tool to help make biking better here in Portland.

anon
Guest
anon

Amen, Whyat. The negativity is really, really tiresome. How about we, as a biking community, focus on all the things we have in common instead of denigrating anyone with a slightly different opinion?

Dan Christensen
Guest
Dan Christensen

A.O.

I am sorry for my rather harsh approach. I\’m not a political person and I have never done anything like this in my life.

Time was short and working 10 hours a day six days a week and trying to coordinate with other drivers at three different garages who are also working just as long hours as I am very difficult.

I had to be heard and heard quickly because we only found out about this changed in the last two weeks and we have only been briefed in the last two days.

I beg you pardon for my abrupt approach. I hope that you hear my heart felt words for dialog and a pause and forgive the short cuts I made to get this before the people of Portland.

I hope we can sit down, have a beer and talk this out. I\’m sure that we are not as far apart as you imagine.

compassionate warrior
Guest
compassionate warrior

Jonathan, you\’ve got a great site and wonderful command of language which helps us enjoy the news we seek every day — but those of us who weren\’t born in the united states already know that there are many, many, MANY americans who know how to fight — but not fight for their lives.

It\’s the american way — or so much of the rest of the world who look into the fishbowl will say so. how can one defy such a consensus? the other americans who aren\’t this violent seem to accept it.

also, there are many, many, many, MANY americans who do not give any value to any voices but their own, so of course what tri-met drivers have to say will not matter to some who are not aware that they live in a society that considers itself democratic.

best you can do is live by example. your time is best spent on continuing your work, in my \”humble\” opinion, not trying to teach others what their upbringings should have already instilled in them: compassion and fairness.

my two rambling cents. thanks.

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

I don\’t see what the big deal is about going around it. I can do without playing chicken with buses and crossing MAX tracks at weird angles. The only reason to enter the transit center is to get on a train or bus, which means you are on the platform and should be walking your bike. If having a route though there is sooo important then a bike lane should be put in so you are not dicing it up with buses.

Paul Souders
Guest

Dan:

Thank you for posting here, and thank you for being open to discussion. I seldom bike around the Rose Quarter but every time I do it\’s confusing and hair raising. I can\’t even imagine what it\’s like from inside a bus.

I\’m sympathetic to your issue and think you have a legitimate concern. Please rethink the language and means you use to express that concern.

Your petition isn\’t just a statement of concern, it\’s a proposed solution. We can\’t all come to the table with open minds when one of our minds is already made up. Rather than having a discussion that starts with \”mixing bicycles and buses in the RQ is dangerous,\” we\’re starting with \”bicycles shouldn\’t be allowed in the RQ.\” So instead of discussing the thing we have in common (concern for safety) and reaching a common solution, we can only debate the merits of your proposed solution.

Moreover, the nature of the solution in the petition is negative: \”no bikes.\” It\’s hard to keep an open mind in a conversation that starts with \”no.\”

Finally, the passive language with which you choose to express your concern, both in the petition and here on BikePortland (\”as soon as one of them is killed they\’ll know\”), worries me. Dwelling on the inevitability of fatal crashes implies many drivers are unable to control their vehicles, or maneuver safely around bicycles, or anticipate hazards in areas they know are dangerous, or see other people on the road as legitimate traffic (\”we have a few drivers…that would ban bikes\”). I don\’t think this was your intention, but this is how it reads.

Elsewhere I wrote on this site that the petition serves as an \”anti-argument.\” This is what I mean:

When I first heard of the petition I thought \”well that seems like a legitimate concern.\” In other words, I was predisposed to your position.

But after reading the petition — especially the ledge analogy on the last page — I thought: \”there are at least 250 Tri Met bus drivers who claim they can\’t control their buses to prevent a fatal accident.\”

At best, your own petition and arguments have turned me against your position. At worst, it makes me wonder about the professional abilities of many Tri Met drivers. Now every time I\’m biking near a bus — which is dozens of times a day — I\’ll wonder: \”is this bus driven by someone who thinks bikes should be banned, and thinks fatal crashes are unavoidable?\”

a.O
Guest

\”I hope we can sit down, have a beer and talk this out. I\’m sure that we are not as far apart as you imagine.\”

Thanks, Dan. I\’m sure you\’re right. And it would be great to get a beer. I\’ll give you a call after the holiday. I still don\’t understand why you said, \”No\” instead of, \”We can find a solution that works for everyone,\” but I suppose that\’s what we\’re going to talk over! I\’ll be looking forward to that.

(By the way, it was pretty bold of you to publish your phone number. Last time I did some bike advocacy in public, I got death threats. As you can see, the nastiness comes from all corners.)

jack
Guest
jack

Whatever you want to make of the exact wording of the petition its hard not to see its motivation based in fear. I don\’t mean afraid of a biker going aggro or \’losing to the biker community\’, but a fear of harming/killing someone, fear of losing job/career, fear of not being able to provide for your family. This a cry for help from a slice of the portland community that feels the bureacratic heads of agencies have come to a resolution that does not deal safely with the conditions/needs of the vulnerable road users and the work environment of the trimet operators.

Donald
Guest
Donald

hey Dan.

thanks for your added input. you seem like a reasonable fellow.

I go through this area twice a day on my way back and forth between d-town and nopo.

I\’ve always told my wife, if it\’s going to happen, it\’ll be at the RQ.

This area is a flustercluck from the point of view of a daily bike commuter. It\’s dangerous and inefficient.

the folks scofflawing through aren\’t doing it to thumb their noses at authority, they\’re doing it because it makes sense. (some of us who do go around, however, do take small delight in the fact that we always seem to catch up to them at the next light)

in my opinion, the more you can be part of a solution, the better. I feel this petition only serves to fuel the fires of dissention. check out the comments on KGW\’s version of this story.

thanks for chiming in, but the bell\’s been rung.

(speaking of which, good luck with the phone thing…)

BURR
Guest
BURR

The time for the bus operators\’ participation was back when the city, the BTA asd TriMet were discussing options for bike access throught the RQTC, and that was months ago. Mr. Christensen apparently didn\’t like the process and/or outcome so he\’s trying to sandbag the agreement by going to the media at the 11th hour.

I can\’t tell you how sick I am of this type of behaviour, and, although I\’m not aware of the bus operators using this tactic in the past, it certainly has been used by other anti-bike special interest groups in the past to derail other valid and beneficial bike projects.

Two examples that come to mind are the local businesses on Interstate Ave. complaining about loss of on-street parking to bike lanes, and the Portland Business Alliance (PBA) and the Building Owners and Managers Assoc (BOMA) fighting against Planning Bureau requirements and standards for on-site bike parking facilities in new commercial buildings and parking garages.

PoPo
Guest
PoPo

Dan,

Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and concerns and for putting yourself out there in the interest if furthering communication and understanding and safety.

It is important for people to share perspectives, and that of actual Trimet drivers is not one that is often heard here.

While you may find varying levels of agreement with your points on this forum, please know that you\’ve certainly earned my respect.

PdxMark
Guest
PdxMark

Do we know what the proposed re-design actually is? Are the bus driver & MAX operator concerns about the specifics of the proposed re-design or about the overall concept of adding bikes to the RQTC? I am dubious about the thoughtfulness of the concerns expressed by drivers/operators when it goes beyond design specifics to seeking a continued total ban on bikes in the area.

I ride north from the Esplanade around the RQTC almost every day. There are rarely more than two buses there at a time, and they are mostly stopped. It\’s hard to imagine an area with less likelihood of major conflict with some thoughtful traffic design.

This discussion could be worthwhile, but concerns about deign specifics from the drivers/operators would be a much more useful starting point than a categorical generalization.

Evan
Guest
Evan

I\’m a public sector land use planner and I\’m dealing with a very similar situation locally. With all due respect to Dan, we know what the petition says, but we don\’t always know what tactics were used in order to gather signatures for a petition. Not every person who signs a petition understands the issues. I can certainly understand that bus drivers, who drive vehicles that handle like, well, a bus, may get really nervous around cyclists who dart in and out of their way. Bikes and buses are both legitimate users of the road, but that doesn\’t mean they always comingle well. If bikes and buses are to play well together in the RQ, it will require a great amount of consideration, and politeness, on behalf of everybody. If this means opening a dialogue, so be it. But if either side takes the low road and a cyclist is hurt or killed, chances are the cyclists will lose access inside the transit mall. Problem is, some cyclists will continue to ride there, no matter what we do. Short of a police presence, very little will deter certain riders from going certain places. It should not have to come to that.

I don\’t have a solution to this issue. And I am sorry to hear that a petition has been filed \”after the fact.\” But it would appear that the cycling community must come to the table on this and at the very least work to assure Tri-Met that we will do our best to respect the needs of bus drivers in and around the RQ transit center. We should expect the same of the drivers regarding cyclists.

These people are our partners in finding alternatives to dependency on single-occupant vehicles. We must work with them to ensure that the quality of life in the Portland area continues to be a model for the rest of this country. Not another slanted headline in the Boregonian.

brettoo
Guest
brettoo

It\’s great of Dan to appear here and offer to talk. I hope that he or someone else will clearly present on this forum (not just in private conversations) the specific reasons some drivers object to the plan. Then we can get responses, rebuttals, suggestions, etc. It\’s a good chance to use the forums for a productive –and, let\’s hope, polite and respectful — dialogue, and maybe a solution that works for all users.

Rather than a yes or no debate, I hope the goal can be something like, \”how do we give Portland bike users a safe, convenient way to get from Esplanade to points north and east.\” Thanks again, Dan.

mike
Guest
mike

I appreciate Jonathan stepping in early to keep this discussion above a 6th grade level. No disrespect to 6th graders intended.

I live on N Gantenbein Ave, two blocks west of N. Williams and I work in SW for the past 4 years. Obivously, a direct route would be great, but what is an extra quarter mile down interstate and up to Broadway? An extra quarter mile is nothing, right? I think the argument pushing for access is weak, especially when we look at all the other projects that could be completed with the amount of time and $$$ spent to make passage through the RQTC as safe as possible.

kasandra
Guest
kasandra

Thanks to Dan for the considered perspective, and to Jonathan for providing the forum to disucss it.

I hope that the BTA and Tri-Met are able to work out a satisfactory solution.

And I hope that all the folks who spend their days on the internet realize that bus drivers do NOT spend their days on the internet, and that information doesn\’t always flow freely in large organizations.

Dan says he was working ten hour days and only got briefed about this a couple days ago. I believe that he is telling the truth and trying to do the best he can with the time, information, and resources available. Because he cares about the city, cares about his fellow drivers, and doesn\’t want anyone to get run over. That\’s what I want in a bus driver. Thanks again, Dan.

BURR
Guest
BURR

I want TriMet to hire enough bus drivers so they don\’t have to work 20 hours of overtime each week, that\’s a sure-fire formula for crashes caused by lapses in attention and/or judgement due to chronic fatigue.

Icarus Falling
Guest
Icarus Falling

I think it is great that Dan has come out and claimed responsibility for this petition.

I also think it is great that he wants to open up discussions on this matter.

That being said, I think that the damage of this petition has already been done, and the pain was not applied to the cyclists.
It was applied to the drivers who signed it, for the wording of it screams of inability to safely operate a bus, of worry of being able to safely negotiate around bicycles, and of not wanting to share the road.

Where as his personal comments say exactly the opposite.

What are we to think at this point?

We do know that it is safe to ride a bicycle near buses, when \”BOTH\” drivers and cyclists are making the right moves. I say both because we all know that neither all cyclists, nor all bus drivers operate safely by any means.

We also know that safe passage can be made by Buses,trains, bicycles, and pedestrians through the R.Q. Transit Center.

This has been displayed through the years as , though against the law, many, many cyclists have used the passage through the R.Q. transit Center with no incidences. (reported as seen or heard by me that is)

So, there really is only one problem.

Bus drivers do not want us there. And due to the reasons laid out in this petition, I do not see any legitimate reason other than they say they cannot operate buses safely around bicycles.

Well, I am sorry, but operating buses around bicycles is part of the job you are paid to do. And the bicycles are not going to disappear. They are in fact going to continue increasing in numbers.

The answer to the problems bus drivers lay out in their petition?
I have said it before. Training, training, and more training.

Once again, I appreciate the effort by Dan to make the drivers case known.

And open discussion between bus operators and cyclists is a great idea.
But not in relation to passage in the R.Q. But in relation to the actions of many bus drivers around cyclists, and of a small percentage of cyclists around buses.

I could go on and on, and won\’t.

I will finish by saying that I believe I have known about the possibilities, and then the finalized changes to the R.Q. Transit center regarding bikes for months, although the final decision has only been known for about a month?

It s hard to imagine that Tri Met would just now inform their employees. It helps to confirm what I have known and believed about Tri Met. That it is a poorly run system that is not really \”public\” transportation at all. Public Transportation serves the public. The whole public, whether on the bus, or around it.

And it is even harder to imagine that such a petition will change anything.

I just think it is obvious that in order to make a case for change, it must be based on something other than your own professed inability to do what you are paid to do safely.

Thank you Dan for your thoughts, and for your obvious hard work. I hope my speel here has not come across entirely negatively, but more productively, as I love the City Of Portland, and everyone in it.

John Reinhold
Guest
John Reinhold

Burr, good point…

I just question this whole darn issue, but mostly the petition and the RQ bike ban in the first place.

If it is too dangerous to have bikes around buses or MAX then bikes should NEVER be around buses or MAX. Which means no bikes crossing MAX tracks or on streets with bus routes.

What makes the RQ so different than any other place where buses are in close proximity to bikes?

How come no one gets run over by bus \”10 Harold\” which goes down a couple of the busiest bike boulevards in the city? (I personally won\’t ride bus 10 because it is so slow through SE Ladd and SE Clinton)…

All knee jerk reactions aside – if bus drivers cannot operate safely around bikes, and if bikes cannot safely negotiate a train which operates in a set location and path – then what makes the Rose Quarter so special? There is bus/bike interaction ALL OVER THE PLACE. And lots of MAX crossings…

And for reference, I ride bike, bus, MAX, and even drive a car and ride a motorcycle. I am multi-modal and do not take any particular sides. We need all modes for transportation to work in our society… Today alone I used bike, bus, MAX, and car. I wish I had time for a motorcycle ride.

a.O
Guest

Wow, lots more thoughtful replies. That\’s what\’s typical of \”this board.\” Icarus summed up my quandary when he said:

\”…I think that the damage of this petition has already been done… [T]he wording … screams of inability to safely operate a bus, of worry of being able to safely negotiate around bicycles, and of not wanting to share the road.

[O]perating buses around bicycles is part of the job you are paid to do. And the bicycles are not going to disappear. [As John Reinhold said \”bus/bike interaction\” is literally \”all over\” the City.]

Whereas his personal comments say exactly the opposite.

What are we to think at this point?\”

I think Dan really gets to the bottom line, which is that we need to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation. I\’m definitely going to invite him out for a beer, and I bet there are others who would like to participate in the conversation.

If I don\’t hear from anyone, I\’m going to meet with Dan on my own. But if you\’d like to join us, let Jonathan know and maybe we can meet up at the Lucky Lab or the Green Dragon or somewhere next week for a pint.

Alan
Guest
Alan

Dan, thanks for opening up the discussion. That\’s a fearless move and it calls for a similar move from bike riders.

When the Esplanade opened up a couple of years back, I spent days trying to figure out how to get from my home in inner NE to the Steel Bridge path and back again without going through the Rose Quarter. I\’ve solved my commute, but I\’m a lucky one. Those coming from NoPo aren\’t so lucky.

Also there are times when I find myself on a street leading into the RQ and no easy way out. The area is just too big to go around and putting a large obstacle in a bike rider\’s path almost begs a few riders to find a way through it. So while I think you have a good point, I also think that it would be extreme to make the RQ a bike-free zone.

Thanks for reading and writing. Please keep the lines open. This problem isn\’t going to be solved in one sitting.

Icarus Falling
Guest
Icarus Falling

Re \”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.\”

Tri Met drivers are unionized, and will not be risking their jobs for speaking out. The union will not let that happen. That is how it works.

Mr. TriMet
Guest
Mr. TriMet

Could this be an opportunity to heal divisions between TriMet operators and people who ride bikes in Portland?
Actually, this just pours a pound of salt onto an already open wound with TriMet riders, who weren\’t asked their opinion on this.

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?
Perhaps more people (including myself) would\’ve come out in droves against the plan, due to moving the bus stops. Not all of us opposed would be transit riders, as Multnomah St. was a throughway for auto traffic, so motorists would probably disapprove of this as well.
Seriously… TriMet provided months of notification for a 3-week MAX shut-down across the Steel Bridge, about a month of notice of the 3-month long bus detour for the same Steel Bridge/MAX construction, and has a open solicitation for comments regarding a 6-block section of Line 71 between 52nd and 60th.
Where was the solicitation for public comment from transit riders? We\’ve practically lost a perfectly good transit center that\’s been there, with the same bus stops, for years!
I want my transit center back! This isn\’t \”sharing the road…\” this is demanding the entire thing, and then some.

joe adamski
Guest
joe adamski

common traits:

both modes require facilities specific to their modes.

neither mode is an undesireable mode.Bikes and transit are both critical in our cities moving away from the current carcentric reality.

No one person or group speaks for the entire group of transit drivers // cyclists.

Keep talking.

zagreus
Guest
zagreus

Beaverton Transit Center, Gateway Transit Center, Hollywood Transit Center, Willow Creek Transit Center, to name a few, are all closed to non-transit vehicle traffic. The only users are riders, buses, trains, and service vehilces. This has been a very safe solution, so that cars and bikes do not come into contact with buses, trains, pedestrians, and each other. It has worked as intended.

Rose Quarter transit also fits this description. Automobiles aren\’t allowed to take the most direct route to I-5 north from the Steel Bridge, which would be through the Rose Quarter and continuing on Wheeler to Broadway. Bikes are allowed on Wheeler, but not through the Rose Quarter. If the true goal is sharing the road, there would be no justification for banning northbound automobile traffic on Wheeler.

When too many solid objects are attempting to occupy the same space, a collision is inevitable. This is not a malignant or indifferent statement, but simple physics. Someone will misjudge or not see someone else. This is not a perfect world where everyone is on top of his game every second, or where everyone will obey the rules of the road and respect other people\’s rights. The purpose of a Transit Center is to minimize traffic for a safe environment for everyone.

I did not sign Dan\’s petition because I did not know about it, and may not have since there was language that I did not find appropriate, but I do believe that he is speaking for the majority of drivers and MAX operators in general. The gist of what he says is accurate.

There was some notification, and I was part of taking a poll among operators for their opionion, and Dan has captured the concerns very well.

AL M
Guest

I also driver for TRIMET and echo the sentiments by Dan and Zagreaus.

My blog deals with many Trimet related issue.

I was speaking with the driver of the Austin Miller tragedy attempting to get her to give me an on camera interview about her experience. What she went through is every bus drivers worst nightmare come true.

I think what Dan is trying to do with this petition, is to prevent another Austin Miller heartbreaking tragedy.

How can any sane human being find fault with that?

BURR
Guest
BURR

I\’m curious – The downtown transit mall will accomodate cars when it reopens, as a result of the lobbying efforts of the PBA. How do the TriMet operators feel about this? Are they planning to submit a similar petition regarding cars on the downtown transit mall shortly before it reopens?

And I\’ll repeat that Paris, France designates shared bus – bike lanes throughout the city, which seem to work just fine.

BURR
Guest
BURR

My blog deals with many Trimet related issue.

didn\’t Eileen or someone say that \”TriMet operators were \’too busy\’ driving busses to spend time on the internet?\”

zagreus
Guest
zagreus

Drivers did prefer that the downtown mall be car free, and said so many times. The city of Portland trumped them, so we will have pedestrians, cars, truck, trains, bikes and buses in a very congested area. Burr, if you are saying that this sounds unsafe, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

Rose Quarter is not open to all traffic, as is the downtown mall. Like the other Transit Centers I mentioned, it has been restricted to transit usage.

Bikes are not the only vehicles prohibited in transit centers, including Rose Quarter. If bikes were being singled out while automobiles proceeded apace, I could understand the high dudgeon.

Transit Centers have proven very safe with no fatalities that I am aware of, and no major accidents. It would be nice if we could keep it that way.

beth h
Guest

Bicycle riding isn\’t a weight-bearing activity.
We need weight-bearing activities to maintain muscle tone and joint health.
I, for one, don\’t really *mind* getting off my bike and walking it through that 1.5-block zone in the Rose Quarter where busses and MAX trains have to go through.
This area may seem like a mess, but redesigning it probably isn\’t on the table.
I personally don\’t have a problem with asking bike riders to get off and walk their bikes in places where bikes and motorized traffic won\’t EVER mix well. Considering how many places I CAN ride my bike in this town, \”losing\” a block and a half isn\’t a loss at all. it\’s an effort to keep everyone safer, and I appreciate that.
I realize I may be nearly alone in my sentiment.

zagreus
Guest
zagreus

Al, I know the driver you are speaking of, and she is still heartbroken. She will never truly get over it. I would not trade placed for her for any reason, and she is indeed living every operator\’s worst nightmare. None of us want to harm another person.

al m
Guest

“And I\’ll repeat that Paris, France designates shared bus – bike lanes throughout the city, which seem to work just fine.”

~~>You’re comparing apples and oranges. Paris and the European attitude about travel is so completely different from American culture that you cannot make the comparison!

“didn\’t Eileen or someone say that \”TriMet operators were \’too busy\’ driving busses to spend time on the internet?\”

~~Apparently not all of us fit into that category

“Al, I know the driver you are speaking of, and she is still heartbroken. She will never truly get over it. I would not trade placed for her for any reason, and she is indeed living every operator\’s worst nightmare. None of us want to harm another person.”

EXACTLY THE POINT!
This is what the petition is attempting to prevent.
Any efforts to prevent accidents and injuries should be applauded not scorned.

IT’S ALL ABOUT SAFETY, why can’t some of you see that?

Joe
Guest
Joe

I appreciate Dan\’s point of view. Regardless of whether he\’s part of a union, speaking out is a difficult thing to do for some people such as myself. I would think buses are difficult to operate in normal auto-bus traffic, where vehicles are larger, easier to see, provide occupants a little more protection from collisions, and travel speeds are similar. I can only imagine the complication of dealing with smaller, harder-to-see, and more vulnerable bicyclists. However, I don\’t think this is a situation of creating a more dangerous interaction between buses and bikes at this location. Safety tests have been conducted, hundreds of hours of time has been spent looking into this issue, and necessary changes to the transit center are being made in conjunction with allowing bikes through there.

Given all the attention and research that has been given to this issue, I feel confident the proposed \”fix\” will work. When it comes down to it, even Fred Hansen could be against this proposal and the City could still allow bikes through the TC, since it\’s City property (the Rose Quarter TC is not TriMet-owned).

To those complaining about the change of the bus stops there, get over it. For one, it\’s not a big change to walk a hundred more feet (if it\’s even that much). Secondly, other TCs have similar walk distances, and thirdly, if you read a sign you\’ll know exactly where to go to catch whatever bus you need there.

As a regular transit rider, I find the current bus arrangement already confusing, especially the #33 southbound all the way across the street on Interstate. Allowing cars through the area on Multnomah, Interstate, and the Steel Bridge is what causes so much delay and confusion – not the bikes. After the Green Line opens fall 09\’ we\’ll get a chance to see exactly how bad the delays to MAX, bus, cars, bikes, ped, etc. because cars, buses, and four MAX lines are all going through the same intersection at Interstate and the Steel Bridge. This fix will at least move most northbound bicyclists out of that equation.

Mr. TriMet
Guest
Mr. TriMet

To those complaining about the change of the bus stops there, get over it.
Then, at the same time, I should be saying \”get over it\” to bicyclists that didn\’t like the route that goes under the freeway twice. That transit center was there for years (with the same bus stops), and the Eastbank has been open for 7 years. Bike riders are better equipped to \”a hundred more feet\” than people with limited mental capacities (who might not be able to understand their bus stop moved, even if someone assists them), or those with walkers, scooters, or wheelchairs. This will also mean additional \”loitering\” at a place that already has crime problems unless more bus operators wait for riders frantically trying to transfer from MAX or another bus route to avoid waiting for up to an hour (even the Frequent Service routes run hourly at some point), or to make their bus routes\’ last run of the evening/night (some routes don\’t run very late, and I don\’t like what they did with 33F and 35G in 2004, either).

I realize this is a *bike* forum, so I know my view on the subject probably isn\’t receiving any love here. However, it\’s obvious bike interests were contacted regarding the change–I went through RQTC everyday over the summer, saw the cones, wondered what in the world was going on, but as a bus rider I was never asked if moving the bus stops would affect me, riders I know, or riders I represent. That\’s my complaint regarding this issue.

I haven\’t even mentioned the problems of being moved away from the large shelters that were designed to accommodate bus riders, the coffee stand, or the one drinking fountain in the area.

And if anyone wonders how I can claim to being \”Mr. TriMet\” (a term dubbed by someone I know): Given the per capita ridership of 81 unlinked rides per year, I\’m at least 12 people.

I apologize if anyone here feels I\’ve been abrasive, blunt, or rude. Providing my opinion here has helped deal with another backroom decision by the electeds and appointeds. Thanks for reading.

zagreus
Guest
zagreus

Joe, you hit the nail on the head. Wheeler St. going through the transit mall is city owned.

Earlier administrations, less radical, and better informed and able to see questions from multiple perspectives, decided that the Transit Mall should be for transit users as a matter of safety. The \”study\” you refer to was done after the decision was made, in order to make the best of a very bad situation.

There is no urgent need for a change in configuration, and there is only demand from a very small minority. As Mr. Trimet pointed out, others who use the Transit Mall were neither informed beforehand, or given an opportunity for input. That is a high handed approach.

Eileen
Guest
Eileen

Burr, nope, I didn\’t say anything like that. I haven\’t commented on this issue at all because I see both sides and I\’m not sure what the best answer is. I can\’t imagine why tri-met drivers would be too busy to be on the internet. It seems like the kind of job you could leave at work – do you think they would spend all their free time studying up on how to improve their driving or plotting against bicyclists? Maybe they have a lot of laundry? =)

al m
Guest

Well I\’ve been reading the comments and had already come to the conclusion that the bus drivers would never get this changed to \”safe mode\”.

There is no doubt in my mind which political group in Portland has the power, and its the bike lobby. (don\’t get all upset by that comment please)

I just hope that we are never in a position to say:

\”TOLD YA SO!\”

Cøyøte
Guest
Cøyøte

al m you mentioned that Europe and the US could not be compared because our attitudes about travel are so different. Many of us are here to change that. Not to necessarily ape Europe, but to reach a place where attitudes and engineering make for a safe and livable city. That is going to mean denser cities, many fewer cars, and revised attitudes about the use of public space. The RQTC is public space, policies for the use of public space should lead us to where we want to be, and not reinforce our past mistakes.

I am a big fan of transit. I don\’t use it much because it is too slow and too expensive. (Plus, I inevitably end up sitting too near the drunk obnoxious guy.) So I am all for special facilities for buses that speed travel and thereby reduce costs. However, if the engineers think they can make RQTC work safely with the inclusion of bicycle traffic, I would need to see specific details why it won\’t work. If the driver\’s objections are that bikes and buses can\’t mix, then it is an attitude problem.

zagreus
Guest
zagreus

Coyote, Dan Christensen isn\’t advocating restricting bike traffic at the Rose Quarter Transit, but All non-transit traffic, which has been the norm since the transit center was opened. Autombilies aren\’t allowed to use Wheeler St. northbound at all, but bikes are, except for the Rose Quarter.

When I was working the bus bridge at Rose Quarter and at the Convention Center, I had two close enounters as a pedestrian with bikes speeding down the sidewalk, oblivious to the danger they posed to pedestrians. (These were a minority of bicyclists, granted, but a sizable minority do not care about other people.) Since there were no public hearings, the majority of transit center users, who are pedestrians, had no input at all. Is that democratic or autocratic?

Restricting Transit Centers for transit use had been safe and successful wherever it has been tried in the Portland Metro area–no fatalities and no major accidents.

Saving a few bicyclists 2 blocks seems to me a bad trade off for safety. I agree with Al, it seems like a this is a politician currying favor with a voting block without regard for consequences.

I hope that this does not presage more of the same.

BURR
Guest
BURR

EXACTLY THE POINT!
This is what the petition is attempting to prevent.
Any efforts to prevent accidents and injuries should be applauded not scorned.

IT’S ALL ABOUT SAFETY, why can’t some of you see that?

Your position is entirely based on fear; and the (il)logical extension of your argument is that people using different modes of transportation are incapable of successfully sharing our public streets, and each mode needs it\’s own separate right of way to operate on, and I call BS on that.

Sarah O
Guest
Sarah O

Beth #33, you are not alone. I have no problem walking my bike through the RQ. And while I am a bike commuter and bike advocate, I have a lot of sympathy for bus operators and the dangerous position they are both put in and put others in. I see for myself every day cyclists who ride unpredictably, unsafely and unlawfully, either through ignorance or out of an \”F you, rules don\’t apply to me\” attitude. I can\’t even imagine trying to maneuver an enormous TriMet rig around a weaving, helmetless, signalless cyclist or two riding through the RQ.

Most cyclists are careful, predictable and defensive riders. Lots of others aren\’t and I won\’t lie, they anger the crap out of me. It\’s a rare day when a TriMet bus gets too close or drives aggressively, but I see other cyclists blowing lights and stops and cutting me off every day. I don\’t know what the answer is in regards to the RQ but I don\’t automatically run to the cyclist\’s side in this argument; these bus operators are behind the wheel full time plus every week and I don\’t think they\’re out to teach us a lesson by squishing us. In the meantime I\’ll walk my bike through when there are any buses around and zip through when there aren\’t.

zagreus
Guest
zagreus

Burr, again, if your argument is that all traffic has the right to share a public roadway, do you also support allowing automobiles into the Rose Quarter and northbound on Wheeler once you have passed the Rose Quarter?

The Rose Quarter is more than a public steet, it is a mixed use transit center.

Bus operators do share the road with other traffic on the roads, and as a driver, I have had few bad experiences–most of my bad experiences have been as a pedestrian.

Why should the Rose Quarter be treated differently than Gateway T(ransit
C (enter), Hollywood TC, Willow Creek TC, Beaverton TC, or any other TC? They are relatively safe compared to other places.

What is different about a TC is that there are multiple buses at any given time, not simply one every 15 or so minutes, there are multiple Max lines, and last and most important, there are anwhere from dozens to hundreds of pedestrians. The Rose Quarter TC is already a madhouse when an event lets out.

No study that I have seen has considered impact on pedestrians.

BURR
Guest
BURR

The city is supposed to be promoting alternatives to single car occupancy. Transit and cycling both qualify as beneficiaries under this scheme, and, although busses may move more people, bikes don\’t pollute or damage the roads like busses do.

The RQTC is the most direct route with the most favorable topography for cyclists.

I am certainly not in favor of letting private motor vehicles through the RQTC as well; but I do find it extremely unfortunate that something can\’t be worked out to allow access for both transit vehicles and cyclists, because cyclists are almost certainly going to continue using that route for the reasons stated above, legal or not, and IMO it would be best to have a prescribed route for cyclists to follow instead of the free-for-all we\’ve got now.

If a pilot program for allowing bikes through on a prescribed route fails primarily because of the bus drivers\’ fear and intransigence, I would find that even more unfortunate, but not completely unpredictable, given all the arbitrary, artificial divisions people create between themselves in our society today.

Pretty sad, really.

zagreus
Guest
zagreus

The present bike route is exactly 2 blocks longer, Burr, than the proposed new one. How much of an imposition can that possibly be?

…\”cyclists are almost certainly going to continue using the route for the reasons stated above, legal or not.\”

That is exactly why it should not happen. People who disobey a law merely because it is inconvenient are unpredictable, immature, indifferent to the rights of others, and unsafe. Rewarding people for breaking laws is a recipe for disaster–it makes suckers out of people who do obey the law, and when things get too far out of hand, it provides the state a pretext, with popular support, for a crackdown with resulting oppression. In the meantime, fewer and fewer people will respect or obey laws, and it will come back to bite you in the end.

The problem we have had is lack of enforcement. Enforcement does work if it is consistent and costly to the lawbreaker. I certainly notice on my commute how much slower traffic moves after a patrol and ticket action on Highway 30–and it lasts for weeks.

Do the artificial and arbitrary divisions between people that you speak of include bike lanes and bike paths? Bicycling advocacy groups lobbied long and hard for these, with the idea that bikes are safer if other traffic is kept at bay.

Dan, Al, and I do not have irrational fears of bikes or of change, but we do have experience with the public and with traffic, and we base our opionions on that exprience.

Disagree if you choose, but you are saying more about yourself than you are about us when you label opposing viewpoints as irrational and fear based.

BURR
Guest
BURR

enforcement will do nothing except further alienate the police from the cycling public.

speaking of enforcement, what\’s up with bus drivers speeding over the hawthorne viaduct among other places and running red lights downtown?

al m
Guest

Obviously we will all go round and round on this, there is no meeting of the minds, pretty much shows the schism between the motoring public and the biking public.

Hey, its your lives on the line, not mine or any other auto motorist.

I guess if your willing to gamble with your lives for no particular reason other than it is \”more direct\” then you have that right.

Good luck to you all, I wish none of you any bad fortune.

Thank you for your time.

peejay
Guest
peejay

#1. Non-compliance of laws is highest in confusing, ill-designed areas. People break laws they least understand, or least know how to follow at all. They don\’t just arbitrarily choose to be less law-abiding in certain places.

#2. Any use of the Austin Miller tragedy to further the argument about restricting bikes in RQTC is specious. Austin died because of a criminally bad MUP that was designed to throw bikes into the path of buses. I fully agree that bus drivers should resist at all costs such a potential hazard, but I do not believe that there is even a close approximation of one in RQTC.

#3. At Sunset TC, the exit road has a bike lane, and it works fine except for where there\’s a limb of an oak tree blocking it just as the hill steeply descends around a corner, but I take the lane and never have had a problem with the buses there.