The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Photo Caption Contest: Bikes as a (small) part of traffic

Posted by on December 7th, 2009 at 2:39 pm

View of NE Broadway during the morning rush hour.
Share your caption ideas in the comments.
Larger version here
(Photo © J. Maus)

“It might not inspire folks to ride, but might inspire them to advocate.”
— reaction to the photo from @ehdub on Twitter

I sat near the Broadway Bridge this morning to snap photos of bundled up bikers on one of the coldest mornings of the year. I ended up shooting the photo above because I have a thing for pictures of bikes in traffic. I turned it into our header photo and, after pointing it out on Twitter, it generated a lot of feedback

I’ve been amazed at the mix of reactions. Here are a few:

    Dan Kaufman – Kind of turns my stomach. I’d change it in a couple days.

    @territory – come on, you can do better with the pho pic on the header. Inspire us.

    Kyrstin Westwind: “I love that BikePortland reflects the fall variety of experiences we have as cyclists: it ain’t always pretty!”

    Tony Tapay: “Reminds me of the iconic image of the man in China facing down the tanks.”

    @joebikepdx – Reality is we do need bravery to change a dangerous world. The photo’s an example. and To me it’s inspiring in that it shows simple, unnoticed bravery. I wonder what the driver of the white pickup is thinking….

    @AnneHawley – I’m new to bike commuting & find photo inspiring not scary: if those guys can do it, I can do it! Possibly I’m just odd…

    @philkinjerksi – I think it is good to inspire but also keep the perspective grounded. Things can’t always be rosy

    @dkaempff – I think it’s a useful photo for achieving that purpose. Nothing wrong with showing where we need to improve, bsides the good.

    @ehdub – It might not inspire folks to ride, but might inspire them to advocate.

    @VeloBusDriver – Yikes! Bad spot to ride in if you can avoid it – Many commercial vehicles have a blind spot in that area

I’m enjoying this feedback, because it gets to the heart of one of the issues I’ve been mulling lately about BikePortland’s role in the community. That is: How can we best use criticism and the truth to push the conversation forward, without becoming too negative and/or scaring people away? How is the mission of “To inform and inspire” best served?

In addition to hearing your feedback on the photo, how about a caption contest? Several folks suggested this and it might be fun. So here goes: We’ll pick the best caption and the winner can have a crack at a Front Page editorial on any bike-related topic they choose (we reserve the right to edit the piece for clarity if necessary) and/or a set of BikePortland postcards and stickers.

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

  • jj December 7, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    “Bikes use too much in the way of road resources.”

    “Bikes don’t pay gas taxes!”

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  • MeghanH December 7, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Who’s the real tough guy? The guy driving the oversized white pickup truck, or the nice lady next to him in the bike lane?

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  • Nick December 7, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    “We really fit in with the orange color scheme of this website”

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  • jj December 7, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Sorry…missed one:

    “Bikes never pay their fair-share.”

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  • Aaron Hayes December 7, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Yikes, I rode that route to work for 3 years, and faced that exact same scenario countless times. I’d say:

    Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, Here I am, stuck in the middle with you!

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  • st December 7, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    “Just another day of the 9-to-5”

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  • Daniel December 7, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    “…mmmm car exhaust….warm”

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  • Dave December 7, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    “Remember when you used to see people in cities? That was nice.”

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  • bahueh December 7, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    the opposite of that photo can be seen on a late August day at 8:00am crossing S.E. Grand onto the Hawthorne…if your aim is to inspire through use of photography (and I’m guessing it is with the amount of pictures you share here), show the opposite image. power in numbers, etc, etc.

    cricism and truth? maybe stop using photos of one extreme to exemplify a generality?

    myself? I love this time of year as there are fewer people in the bike lanes.

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  • Northwest Girl December 7, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    The woman cyclist between the two massive trucks?

    A rose between two thorns.

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  • HowardBollixter December 7, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I love the relaxed posture of that cyclist.

    “As a matter of fact, I DO own (a part of) the road.”

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  • Joe December 7, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Another reason why we choose to ride instead of driving, less heart burn 🙂

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  • Brian E December 7, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Bikelane? Actually, it’s more of a guideline than a rule. …

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  • Mike December 7, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    I think Aaron wins already!

    My entry:

    If you were on a bike, rush hour wouldn’t bug you

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  • Shawn Small December 7, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    I went a different route with it.

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  • Shane December 7, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    How about:

    Would your mother ride here?
    Build bikeways for families
    not just “Vehicular Cyclists””

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  • Paul S December 7, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Inspired by MeganH:

    “Guess which commuter is ‘overcompensating.'”

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  • Shawn Small December 7, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    errr well that didn’t work…lets try this again.
    My attempts at a caption contest</a?

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  • fool December 7, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    so this is what exactly 6.4% of the roadway feels like.

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  • Nick V December 7, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    On your leftrightleftrightleftrightleftright…..

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  • ScottG December 7, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    A sliver of hope

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  • Roland Couture December 7, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    I hesitate to project my own ideas of heroism or tragedy or “good” or “bad” on this photo. It’s a couple bikes, a truck, and a bunch of cars, on a cold day. About par, actually. In short, it’s the truth. If it’s not such a rosy picture for cycling, I suppose I’d agree in a sense. But I wouldn’t say it was unnecessarily critical; in fact I’d call it a welcome departure from the overly florid tone of promotionalism I normally see regarding cycling in Portland. Portland is still located in America and this is what it looks like. On the other hand, you would never catch a “driving advocate” (chiefly the car-making corporations) showing the public an image this realistic. See this:

    The good news is, assuming all single-occupancy vehicles, about 8% of the people visible or assumed to be present in this photo are prepared for the oil crash (2 out of about 25). My caption would be geared toward the future Portland Historical Society photo library and would say “NE Broadway at the peak of the petroleum era, 2009”

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  • Anonymous December 7, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    “I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.”

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  • Esther December 7, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Hmmm. This picture reflects the reality of so much of bicycling in America, one that I feel fortunate that I really only experience in inner Portland during Rush Hour (apologies in advance to the critics of ‘Portland Smugness’). That said, maybe it goes to show that no matter how good we have it, we still have plenty of opportunities for positive Change (the foundation of a very successful political campaign in the last year, I might add). How about the oldie but goodie: “There’s always room for improvement”?

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  • Esther December 7, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    I also really like bahueh’s pointing out there are some good examples of the opposite problem (bike traffic). I would love to see a juxtaposition of the two images with a caption like “Which would you prefer?”

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  • Anonymous December 7, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    I agree w/ Esther. 🙂

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  • bahueh December 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    if you’re just wanting a caption:

    “How not to drive a semi-truck in downtown PDX”.

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  • JoeyB December 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Hey, what’s that small orange thing down by my wheel? Oh no! Did my orange fender fall off my truck?! Phew, it’s just a puny biker.

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  • are December 7, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    c’mon, man, drop the flag

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  • Joe December 7, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    yes i say #5 wins, good call! LOL

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  • karl d December 7, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Hey your helmet is on backwards!

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  • David December 7, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    “This is our current reality. Let’s do something about it.”

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  • Kara December 7, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    “You come here often?”

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  • SD December 7, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    citi zen

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  • the other one December 7, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    How about

    “We will overcome!”

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  • Katusha December 7, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    “Megan Fox and Shia LeBouef lead Optimus Prime and the Autobots into battle!”

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  • Ben Foote December 7, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Regarding this intersection….

    One of the final presentations for the traffic and transportation class focused specifically on that intersection and bike lane; the west bound bike lane on Broadway at Larrabee. It was interesting to find out from those in the room who were knowledgeable about the coming streetcar expansion that the current plan for reapportioning the right of way there removes the right turn lane pictured and that the bike lane will be repositioned to be next to the curb.

    This left me curious about other bike infrastructure implications of the Streetcar. Certainly I support the Streetcar and do not mean to pit one mode vs another but I would hope that the reapportionment of the right of way that is done in conjunction with this expansion is done with care and is cognizant of the safety and needs of all users.

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  • buzz December 7, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    “From the warmth of his Dodge Ram, the driver realizes that the cyclists will probably beat him to his downtown destination.”

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  • Blah Blah Blah December 7, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    “Finally…It’s getting cold, and soon there will be gravel on the road to complain about”.

    Or…”Hopefully it snows soon, so I can complain about how the city is so unprepared”.

    And another…”Ha, I bet I could get out of stopping at stop signs today since it is so cold”.

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  • la otra December 7, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Hey, let’s have a special day just for bahueh, where nobody rides their bike, so he might have a better day not having to share to road. What about … yesterday!

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  • trojanhearse December 7, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Be glad someone is looking ahead.

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  • Peter W December 8, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Nice shot. I don’t actually see any fear in the face of the rider–perhaps they don’t even realize what’s behind them–but I think if folks who don’t yet ride saw that they’d be terrified.

    So I think a quote that goes well is (and I’ll probably mangle it):

    “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to continue on in spite of it.”

    I could see that being part of a series of photos and inspiring messages aimed at getting people on bikes.

    Or, if you want something simple to use on a postcard to send to elected folks in a campaign to get more funding or something, I think a good quote would be simply:

    “We’ve got work to do.”

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  • jim December 8, 2009 at 1:35 am

    “Am I going to be the next one to die here?”
    It dosn’t look like a place where anyone with any common sense would be

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  • Woodstock Bike/Transit Junkie December 8, 2009 at 8:29 am

    “That thing got a hemi?”


    “I eat cold for breakfast”


    “Going Rogue”

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  • Tankagnolo Bob December 8, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Caption: “A little bit goes along ways”

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  • bobcycle December 8, 2009 at 9:12 am

    “Dang… If I had taken the lane back there I might have pissed off a few drivers but I wouldn’t be worrying about this semi running me over!”

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  • doug smith December 8, 2009 at 9:21 am

    I just wanted to add, that is a Knife River Corp . truck, sharing the lane (bike lane).

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  • Duncan December 8, 2009 at 9:45 am

    you should send that photo to knife river construction and tell them to stay in their own damn lane.

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  • Morgan TT December 8, 2009 at 9:54 am

    “Whose bike lane? OUR bike lane!”

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  • bobcycle December 8, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Duncan… I bike through here often and have found myself to the left of semi’s swinging wide to make the turn. IMHO the fault is with PDOT not the truck drivers. The lanes are too narrow for a large truck to safely make a turn without leaving the lane. Solution: re-stripe the area to accomoadate the traffic that commonly uses this route. In combination with the Williams crossing, the Flint entry, the Wheeler Av turn, the I-5 off ramp the dangers along this route are inexcusable in a designated Platinum city.

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  • KJ December 8, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Portland’s own version of David and Goliath… Each cyclist is a stone thrown at the eye of our autocentric culture.

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  • JE December 8, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I noticed the picture on the header while I was reading the articles on the CRC. I did a rough count of the vehicles pictured and here’s what I found:

    There are 32 vehicles in the photo.
    Only 3 are commericial freight haulers.
    Of the 10 non-commericial vehicls I can see into, only 3 are carrying a passenger.
    Of the 32, only 2 not adding carbon emissions.


    “Tells again what happened to planet Earth, Grampa.”

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  • Joe Doebele
    Joe Doebele December 8, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I vote for #5 like the other Joe. I also vote for a weekly caption contest.

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  • BikingViking December 8, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Defy convention

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  • jim December 8, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    For a truck to make the corner he has to swing wide, so please be courteous and share a lane

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  • BB December 8, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    18 problems and two solutions

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  • jim December 8, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    Horrible engineering- city should be liable for every single accident at that spot

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  • jim December 8, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    I didn’r mean to infer that bikes should be required to carry ins.. I never shoped for it, maybe it is to high risk? Check with AAA though?

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  • Erin December 9, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    It’s really disappointing to see how many “cyclists” on BikePortland are seemingly afraid to be on the road! Do you live your whole lives in fear? Statistically you’re much more likely to be killed while IN a motor vehicle, not bicycling beside one. Sadly bicyclist deaths make much longer-lasting headlines than auto deaths.

    I’ve waited at that intersection countless times, and it’s not frightening.

    We *are* vehicles, and as such have every right to be on the road with other road users. So grow a pair and get out there on your bike!

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  • Duncan December 9, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    There are many ways to share a lane- many trucks/buses have to swing wide- but when the take over a second lane they should do it by YIELDING to traffic in the second lane- simply “”taking” (ie moving into a second lane w/o yielding to existing traffic) is all to common- I see it on my bike, motorcycle and car all too often.

    I have in the past had a CDL, and have driven trucks and buses, and 90% of lane taking I have seen would have been an automatic fail on my CDL test.

    Also I am all for polite behavior and everything- but when it is my ass that gets dead if the truck takes a lane, forgets I am there in his blind spot at an intersection or when he takes a right across a bike lane, I will do whatever is necessary to protect life, good manners be damned.

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  • Joe Rowe December 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    A bike lane design only cars can love

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  • Randy December 9, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Jonathan, Nice picture!

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  • jim December 9, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    when a bus puts a blinker on he has the right of way to pull out, and they do use that option. you can be fined for not yeilding to a bus

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  • Peter Smith December 10, 2009 at 8:55 am

    this is the best header image i can remember seeing. amazing.

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  • Peter Smith December 10, 2009 at 9:04 am

    oh, and now my caption:

    “Resistance is feasible even for those who are not heroes by nature.”

    it’s a partial quote from this guy.

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  • Spencer Boomhower December 10, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    How about:

    “I pull my own weight”

    or maybe…

    “Semi-Tough. Ram Tough. TOUGH.”

    Making them work might require proper placement of the text, a la lolcats…

    I’m struck by the fact that, viewed through the prism of a culture that says you can acquire personality traits (like say, toughness) in the form of the vehicle you choose to drive, people on bikes tend to get the short end of the perceptual stick. But that prism shows things upside-down. The act of being carried along, through no effort of your own, in the swaddling confines of an upholstered cab of a truck should not denote toughness. But propelling yourself by means of your own muscle power, while surrounded by multi-ton vehicles that can squish you in a heartbeat? Well, I don’t really know if it counts as tough, but it does require a certain fortitude, something that is displayed by only one person in this picture. (Well, two if you count the person over her shoulder 🙂

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  • jim December 11, 2009 at 9:25 am

    a bike got ran over in front of my house yesterday, cars allways trump those situations. somehow the rider escaped being run over. I think it will cost the driver plenty. it was frosty out and probably the guy did not scrape his side windows and was driving without good visability. early mornings are particularly dangerous this way- ice, fogged over widows…
    This wasn’t the bikes fault by anymeans, I only brought it up because of the safety issue of where this bike is sitting and the bad track record that goes along with that same spot. I would thinktwice before letting my child ride that route. All bike boutes should be safe enough for riders of lessor abillities. I remember yrs back seeing a sign in battleground prohibiting bikes from riding sidewalks, that would put kids out in the street. streets need to be safe for all- not just for those with big cahonies

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  • Duncan December 11, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    one that is a truck not a bus- so he has no yield sign

    and two a bus shouldnt take a lane when doing so would create an unsafe situation- if I am doing say 30MPH (in a 30MPH zone), and a bus wants to enter my lane from a dead stop he needs to give enough warning so that I can stop. If it takes me 4 seconds from when his turn signal comes on thats 176 feet close to a city block. Also I have had busses take the lane that I am in while driving parrallel to me in heavy traffic- forcing me off the road. Or going across a lane I am in while I am stopped in traffic and have nowhere to go. That isnt counting the curbs they roll or the other violations I have seen. When they do these things they endanger all of us.

    The way my CDL instructor said it was “don’t takover a lane, ask for others to yield it to you, if they do not wait. A moment of your time is worth less than another person’s life”.

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  • Aaron December 18, 2009 at 5:19 pm