Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Three days, three stories of alleged aggression by TriMet bus operators

Posted by on June 15th, 2010 at 4:30 pm

random shots need to edit

Photo © J. Maus)

In the past two days I’ve come across three stories of TriMet bus operators allegedly acting aggressively toward other road users. To make people aware of where and how they happened, I’ve pasted them below.

The first happened on Saturday night and is very similar to an incident that happened to a man yesterday on Hawthorne. It comes from a commenter named “beelnite”:

“Saturday night – about 11:50 p.m. Lots of bikes on the #14 Route [Hawthorne Blvd]. I have lights. I pass the #14. Twice! The third time he rolls up and passes and dives for his stop on 30th.

Yes I had to jump onto the sidewalk to avoid being crushed. Amazing because I really felt the driver and I were aware of each other since 7th Ave. I mean – I made eye contact a lot… Did I mention I had lights? Ah… I feel he did see me… and just wanted to teach me about cycling faster than a TriMet bus.

I rolled up to the doors and stood there until he’d look at me. He did. I held up two hands about 6 inches apart and said, “It was that close!”

Nothing from the driver. No expression. Just threw her in gear or whatever and drove off. I got the impression he felt I shouldn’t be there. Not sure but I think he said something to me over his loudspeaker – external. Just odd.

I kinda stood there for a minute, didn’t say anything else, just feeling kinda lonely and insignificant. I’m crushable. Not a person. An annoying cyclist in the way.”

A day later, Emily Dayton was run off the road by a #6 bus after coming off the Hawthorne Bridge (she has also filed a formal complaint with TriMet which they confirm receipt of):

I was biking on Sunday June 13th at 10:30 am near SW Main & 3rd coming off of the Hawthorne bridge and was pushed off the road by a Trimet bus #2725 line 6 that was honking at me and aggressively pursuing me. There was construction on the road and I was pushed into the construction area inside of the orange cones.

A construction worker saw and commented on the dangerous event. Luckily I am okay but I thought it was important to make a point to tell the bike community of Portland. I guess we have to be extremely cautious out there.

And just last night, reader Rick Norwood says a TriMet bus turned right on red dangerously close to him:

At 5:05pm I had been traveling by bike NW on N. Interstate Ave. when I had to stop in the bike lane of N. Interstate for a red light at the intersection with NE Multnomah. I was in the center of the bike lane, and this bike lane is unusually wide at this corner. I had been stopped in the bike lane, at the red light, at the painted stop line, for several seconds PRIOR to a TriMet bus (#2018) pulling up next to me in the traffic lane to my left. Bus 2018 also stopped for the red light. After stopping for several seconds Bus 2018 proceeded to make a right turn on red in front of me. Given the wide turning radius of a bus I immediately felt that I was in danger of being hit. I actually moved at least 5 feet to my right in order to avoid getting hit by the bus as it attempted its right turn on red. I was glad that I had, as the bus would have likely hit me if I had not moved!

Given the fact that I had been stopped at the intersection prior to the bus even getting to the intersection, there is no way that the driver could not have seen me. Yet, they proceeded to make this dangerous turn in front of me. As fate would have it, I was not alone in being put in danger by the actions of Bus 2018. At the time the bus attempted this right turn on red there were 3 pedestrians in the crosswalk (headed NW crossing NE Multnomah). One of the pedestrians actually had to run out of the way, as the bus driver had either not seen the pedestrians or cared that they were there. Granted these pedestrians were crossing illegally, but it was also clear to me that the bus driver had apparently not seen the pedestrians and immediately had to brake hard.

Given recent accidents involving Trimet buses, in particular at turns at intersections, I was quite alarmed by what Bus 2018 did. I believe that I read that since the accident downtown that one of the policy changes regarding buses was that they would no longer be making right turns on red. If so, Bus 2018 FAILED to follow that policy and in doing so very nearly injured (or worse) 4 individuals today.

Regardless of whether or not that policy change is in place, the driver of Bus 2018 showed incredibly poor judgment and awareness. Shame on TriMet.

I’m not sure if this is a trend or what, but I don’t remember hearing about this many incidents in such a short time-frame in the five years I’ve been doing this site. Are TriMet bus operators just extra stressed out lately due to the ongoing safety review following the tragic collision that killed two people back in April? Would love to hear your thoughts…

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115 Comments
  • BURR June 15, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Maybe Al the Rude Bus Driver wants to comment?

    http://rantingsofatrimetbusdriver.blogspot.com/

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  • Brian June 15, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Awhile back, on Hawthorne, a TriMet bus driver pinched me between his bus and the sidewalk. I called TriMet at least 5 times (I got the driver’s ID number- 4869), a manager called me back about 10 days later. He told me there was nothing he could do because the union would back up the driver.

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  • brewcaster June 15, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    I think this stuff happens daily and is not reported. When I am on the road, Trimet buses are the most dangerous thing on the road typically. Except for the occasional “Get off the road” neanderthals.

    I am not shocked at all to hear these stories, as they have too happened to me in similar ways with Trimet buses.

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  • anonymous June 15, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    I just found this number to report for an unsafe commercial vehicle or commercial driver in Oregon. If a bus driver has a commercial driver’s license, call even if you don’t know the driver’s name.

    (800) 248-6782

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  • BURR June 15, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    TriMet Complaints:

    http://www.trimet.org/mailforms/comments.html

    Report them for unsafe passing, speeding, running red lights and anything else illegal you see them doing.

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  • Ryan June 15, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    You know, if I had a buck for every sketchy situtaion with a TriMet bus, I could have bought a sweet set of panniers by now.

    Seriously TriMet, get it together! I get pushed out of the way on NE Weidler about once a week. I guess that their time schedule is just more important than a safe cyclist…

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  • Deano June 15, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    In the eight years I have been riding a bicycle around PDX, I have encountered more instances of aggression and poor judgment from Trimet drivers than any other type of vehicle operator. When I hear a bus behind me I almost expect to be run over. You would expect these supposedly professional drivers to know the law. Instead they abuse the power of driving a 12 ton vehicle.

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  • Anne Hawley June 15, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    I no way would I want this comment to be construed as excusing Tri-Met drivers, but I’ve noticed a distinct change in recent months. From encountering generally friendly, respectful, careful drivers who make a point of letting me get past them and out of their way, I’ve begun seeing more hints of the kind of aggression that these scary stories illustrate.

    I can’t help thinking that job pressures inside Tri-Met–cutbacks, layoffs, etc.–are being reflected out there on the streets.

    As I say, not an excuse. Possibly an explanation. I hope Tri-Met will take clear and publicly-visible action to correct it.

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  • Dat June 15, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    We all need to look in a mirror and chill.

    I have been harassed by aggressive cyclist and wells trimet bus drivers.
    Told to go run in the gym while crossing the Hawthorne Bridge by cyclist. Commuting into work and going home. This a a growing sign that portland is becoming a big city, it’s not going to get better.

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  • chad June 15, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Before we get on too big of a bus driver tear here, let’s remember honestly and objectively, the GOOD behavior we’ve seen from most bus drivers, most of the time.

    That being said, about once every couple months I get the “dive” for the bus stop right after the bus passes me forcing me to take evasive action.

    All in all I would have to say that, crappy driving by tri-met drivers is right on par with every other mode of transportation.

    The major issue here is that they are run by the same city that wants to achieve a world class bicycling city (same as the police or other PDX workers). One would assume that they would be trained better and held up to greater scrutiny than the average road user. Unfortunately, the stories above, and what I’ve seen with my own eyes, seem to tell a different story.

    In short, tri-met drivers should be the BEST drivers around bikes, pedestrians, or any other roadway user. The sound of a bus behind you should evoke confidence, not fear.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 15, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Dat,

    when I look in the mirror I see about 180 pounds of human flesh and a 40 lb bicycle.

    I also see something that is highly unlikely to seriously injure or kill another road user when they act aggressively.

    Also, there are only about 50 or so people in the entire city paid to operate a bicycle (most all of them are downtown), so they are not professionals who are able to receive special training.

    Also, no bicycle operators in the city of portland are unionized and work for an agency that is partially funded by taxpayers.

    i could go on.

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  • john June 15, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Imho, it is only going to get worse, as weather has improved and more cyclists are out there. Unfortunately the lowest common denominator gets even lower.

    I have never had an issue with a bus. IMHO one should give them full right of way because they are hauling a lot of people that would otherwise be driving (or riding). And well I ride the bus quite often as well, and I am very grateful for tri-met.

    The stories above show poor cycling judgement.(the middle story, I suspect isn’t the full story and there was also poor judgement ).

    For example, poor judgement is passing a tri-met bus that is fully in-route dropping off and picking up. Just don’t do it. Stay Back! The driver is busy enough not to have to keep re-passing you and trying to guess what the hell your next action might be. Wait or take another street.

    Poor judgement is setting yourself on the inside of turn that a bus is going to make. Be respectful and leave room. Better yet just stay back and don’t pass the bus in the first place. Even if there is a bike lane, Stay back. You should know the buses on your route by now and know what they are going to do. You’re out there, you might as well be aware as well !

    If cyclists give the buses full right of way and respect I suspect there would be little to no issues. Whenever i can i try to take responsibility for my life out of others hands and keep it in my own. Stay behind the bus! Keep your head up and aware.

    There should probably by a cyclist’s training guide made up. Ie not legal rights for cyclists but common sense for how to act around buses (ie respect buses).

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  • q'Tzal June 15, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    I have filed phone 2 reports of agressive and illegal manuvers by Trimet drivers directly to the Trimet staff that are designated to handle these issues. They ask for your phone number so the assumption is that you might get a call back. I can not recall if they assign a case number to each complaint and then let you know what that number is so you can follow up.
    I also filed a report of a Trimet driver having a screaming tantrum, with profanity, because he didn’t want a bike on the front of his bus.
    Of these 3 different issues I have never received any communication from Trimet after the incidents and when I call to question them I get ignorance or stonewalling.
    There seems to be an organizational attitude that, when dealing with cyclists, we are guilty until proven innocent.

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  • peejay June 15, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I too have experienced both considerate and friendly drivers, and aggressive and churlish ones. I’d like to hope that the former outnumber the latter, but of course I remember my encounters with the latter more vividly. I don’t know how hard it is to do the job they do; but I do know that dangerous behavior can never be excused.

    Consider the Madison light before the East end of the Hawthorne Bridge. If there’s a bus there at the red, it’s been fairly typical for about three riders to go up to the line, and the rest of them to wait behind the bus. It’s a great compromise, because the bus can’t even get started before the bikes are on their way, and then the driver can merge with auto traffic unimpeded. Sometimes, the bus deliberately sticks out into the bike lane and blocks off the bikes, in an effort to get a head start, which puts the bus in a position that prevents the cyclists from going around the right side of the bus in the event that no cars yield to the bus (a common occurrence).

    It seems that sometimes bus drivers take their frustrations with motorists out on cyclists. Which makes as much sense as someone taking their frustration with one cyclist out on another.

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  • BURR June 15, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    john #12 – no way am I deliberately staying in back of a TriMet bus and breathing their diesel exhaust, my preference will always be to be breathing cleaner air in front of the bus.

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  • peejay June 15, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    John:

    I don’t believe we have to give right of way to anything in the bike lane. The bike lane is for bikes. It’s already a flimsy protection for cyclists — just a legal notion. Now, you say it’s fair that we should expect buses to routinely cross into it when they choose, whether or not anyone’s in it? That’s not going to inspire any cautious but curious cyclist to get out on the road any more often. Sounds like a recipe for permanent single-digit mode share!

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  • bahueh June 15, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    why people ride down Hawthorne between 12th and 50th is beyond me….tight road, busy traffic, bus traffic, pedestrians….let the mob destroy itself, take the quieter roads and enjoy the ride.

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  • Dat June 15, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    bicycle operators in the city of portland are unionized
    You could be in DCTU or AFSCME or COPPEA..

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  • BikeRanger June 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    My commute is early, when TriMet seems pretty mellow but garbage trucks are rampaging.

    I’ve begun recording some trips with a small helmet-mounted video camera.

    Busses record us every day — let’s return the favor.

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  • sparewheel June 15, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Stops should never require buses to cut through bike lanes. I always preemptively take the lane to the left of a bus in these situations. If a bus load of passengers has to wait for me to pass them then so be it.

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  • chad June 15, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Stay behind the bus, bike lane or not?

    Get on a different street?????

    sounds like every ride John wants us to take should be on bike path stopping every ten minutes to make sure our tires are properly inflated.

    can never be too careful!

    Respectfully, bicycle commuters are trying to get somewhere fast (but not recklessly fast) just like everybody else. If I was to “stay behind the bus” or “take a different street” I would get to work and/or home 15 minutes late every time.

    Yes, common sense always, but please temper that with the reality of moving your body, what-ever the mode, from point A to B in a reasonable amount of time.

    Be careful, but don’t let irrational fear cripple your ability to calculate reasonable risk.

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  • David June 15, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    John (#12):

    Really? It shows “poor cycling judgement” to stop at a red light and later have a bus pull up behind you (after you’d already been stopped) and make a questionable turn?

    Are you actually arguing that bikes should never pass busses because it’s too dangerous? Maybe we shouldn’t pass cars either. Or other bikes. Well, to be fair, the safest thing we could all do is buy Walk-a-Bikes and push them around on the sidewalk.

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  • chad June 15, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    @ John again:

    “The stories above show poor cycling judgement”

    True, the first two stories can be construed differently and seen differently from different points of view (or bias) but please explain how “poor cycling judgment” played into the last story of the bus taking a right on red.

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  • Dabby June 15, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Dat,
    Working cyclists in portland are in no way unionized.

    This is a fact…

    You are saying I think that they could be.

    In fact they do not want to be.

    Unionizing the small messenger industry in Portland would effectively kill most of the jobs….

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  • encephalopath June 15, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Cyclists… unions.

    The bike cops are probably the only ones.

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  • encephalopath June 15, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    I always have a problem with the second guessing people do when discussing incident such as these.

    It’s nice to think that there are a set of guidelines that will keep us out of harms way, but the people involved in these stories are in a dynamic changing environment that they have to read and react to in real time.

    We can’t say after the fact that, well.. they should have done thus and such or I would have done this. The facts of the events aren’t known before hand; this isn’t a video game where you get to see the pattern then go to the last Save and play it again.

    You see what you see when you’re riding, and you respond to it. You don’t get to respond to the final result by knowing it in advance.

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  • Kevin Wagoner June 15, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Do we know what Trimet does with the reports?

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  • old&slow June 15, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Trimet buses are the worst and have been for years. This is what cracks me up about you Sam lovers. All the bike lanes, all the boulevards, stuff that takes time and money to do and fix. Here is a simple problem. TriMet bus drivers I think are the worst and biggest dangers on my commute and I commute 13 miles each way across the city.
    This could be easily addressed, lay down the law as far as their interaction with cyclists is concerned. They are public employees that out elected officials actually have some control over. It doesn’t require a sewer fee increase, just a bit of leadership. Sam and TriMet fails completely.

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  • suburban June 15, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    What is the unofficial term for driving a bus through a yellow light on purpose? Heck, if I drove truck, I’d do that too. It seems to be a very standard TriMet move.

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  • BURR June 15, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    It would be nice if TriMet communicated back to people who file complaints, with an acknowledgment of the problem and a description of the actions they took to prevent the same problem from happening again in the future, and whatever discipline and/or training the driver received.

    The driver’s union probably hates that idea though, just like most of them already don’t like cyclists.

    bus drivers should be the best drivers in town, and not the worst…

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  • Paul Tay June 15, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    I had an incident with a Tulsa bus today too. Driver couldn’t stop laughing fo’ sum reason, while I wuz rollin’ next to him, wit my tongue stuck out. I caught da dude at da red. I asked him fo’ a dolla, so I kin git on da bus. Dude totally lost it right there.

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  • john June 15, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    How about addressing unsafe bike riding. Of course that will never happen.

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  • Ron June 15, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    I was in a fender bender on Burnside downtown a couple of weeks ago, and a police cruiser behind me who witnessed the whole thing pulled both of us over into a bus stop and determined that there was no fault, and that we could stay in the bus space to exchange our information. As soon as he left, a bus pulled up behind us, the driver leaned on his horn for a loooong time, then got out and came towards us like he was going to beat the crap out of us. Stressful! Guy seriously seemed kinda off balance. Maybe he was just having a real bad night; it was a madhouse down there that night…Still, dude was a little unhinged.

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  • Joe June 15, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Some drivers are very considerate and aware of the bicyclists on the road.

    However, I have had many many incidents similar to the ones above, and not reported them because I know just where that will go. No where. On nearly a daily basis the bus going up Vancouver will nearly run me off the road as we play hopscotch, or on Terwilliger a bus will come within inches of me because they somehow forget that their 50 foot long bus somehow turns wider. Uh….hello…..

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  • David June 15, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    @john (#32):

    “How about addressing unsafe bike riding. Of course that will never happen.”

    How about you address it now? Or better yet, since this is an article about Trimet busses, address it it the forums?

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  • Blah Blah Blah June 15, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    My experience with buses is about 50/50. You can clearly tell the nice drivers from the a-holes.

    I once got buzzed by a Trimet bus and caught up with him at the next light, I pulled along side the drivers side and blasted him in the face with my HID headlamp for what seemed a pretty long time, he opened the window and told me if I didn’t stop shining the light in his face, he would shove the light up my ass. I felt I accomplished my mission.

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  • Elvislives June 15, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    I suspect there are hundreds, if not thousands of professional, positive interactions between people driving buses and people riding bicycles every day that never make the news.

    Three incidents reported via blog comments, inherently one-sided and difficult to confirm, does not a trend make.

    By all means make complaints if individuals feel it justified and necessary, but let’s not jump to broader conclusions without evidence of overall trends.

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  • scott June 15, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I was ‘pinched’, ‘squeezed’, run off the road earlier this year (on a bright sunny Sunday in March) while riding along lower SE Belmont on a tandem with my nine-year-old daughter. No traffic congestion, no urgent need to move faster! In fact, I was in a designated bicycle lane. The bus crossed the bicycle lane to the extent that we were forced to stop our progress and assume as much as possible the validity of a parked car.
    My detailed report to Tri-Met concerning this act of aggression eventually elicited a response notifying me that the bus driver involved would perhaps be given more training to ‘Share the Road.’

    Tri-Met is not paying attention to complaints.

    Tri-Met is not paying attention to complaints.

    Tri-Met is not paying attention to complaints.

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  • elle June 15, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Here’s where politics and representation come in. Jonathan, who do you or someone else have to talk to to get someone else to talk to someone who can get some accountability from Trimet?

    Pursue the corridors of power. Just hoping Trimet will reform itself without being forced is wishful thinking. The drivers are not reading this thread. They could care less. Same drill as police department.

    Get someone focused on this now before the tragedy. These are clear warning signals.

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  • Mike June 15, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    You might as well say you were bitten by a snake, mauled by a dog, eaten by a bear. How many road miles per accident occurs. Is this a normal occurance or is this complaining?

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  • Paul Souders June 15, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    I ride the bus a lot and IME most drivers are conscientious and courteous but that just underlines how unnecessary the bad behavior is. It’s not like it’s necessary to pinch bikes to the curb or turn blind across the bike lane, otherwise it would happen 100% of the time right?

    I’m kind of inclined to believe what’s changed isn’t TriMet driver behavior due to layoffs or pressure but everyone else’s reaction to it. Maybe TriMet drivers aren’t suddenly driving any worse, it’s just the rest of us are more sensitive to it now that people are actually getting killed.

    Like John (#12), I’ve kind of internalized the “appropriate” behavior around buses (“stay half a block back”, “respect buses” etc.). It’s a reflex. I don’t think I give any other class of driver this much leeway. Well I’m more conscious of that reflex now. Where did it come from? Why do I put up with it? It’s like a strategy for not ticking off the class bully.

    Parting thought. Years ago I was standing near the driver on a crowded #4 eastbound just before the Hawthorne. The driver narrowly avoided pinching some bikes to the curb. It was like 50% unintentional, 50% accidentally-on-purpose. He made a heh heh comment like “bikers are the worst. Some day I’m gonna kill one of them.” Not in a “going to murder them” sense, but in a “stuff happens” sense. That was chilling & it really stuck with me. If I felt that in the course of doing my job I might kill someone — well that would make me take my job REALLY SERIOUSLY, pretty much the opposite tone this fellow projected. If you think something is inevitable, how likely are you to try to avert it?

    A year or so ago I recall a TriMet driver leading a petition against the new bike lanes in the Rose Quarter. The petition, which several drivers signed, said something like “this situation will lead to cyclists getting killed.” And it reminded me of that driver on the #4.

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  • Jacob June 15, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    To be entirely honest, I’ve had nothing but good interactions with Trimet employees, be they bus drivers or fare inspectors, they have always been fair and courteous. I have played leapfrog with buses on division, while somewhat frustrating the driver has always given me the right of way.

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  • Waffle Stomper June 15, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    This is just typical of government maggots. They think they are above the law, and their union, and usually the courts will show that they are right in that belief. Doesn’t matter if it is a Tri-met Driver, a policeman, a TSA screener, a Democrat Senator, a Democrat President, a Democrat Mayor, or whatever – they can do ANYTHING they want and get away with it. But if YOU do the same thing you will be convicted, labeled a felon and put in prison. This is just one symptom of a totally corrupt government that is totally out of control. November IS coming.

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  • al m June 15, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    I have every intention of commenting.

    I have comments from REAL LIVE bicyclists and REAL LIVE bus drivers!

    I’ll cross post my videos here.

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  • dojo mouse June 15, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Not gonna condemn all bus drivers in Portland. Not going to avoid supporting the sentiment to call out the aggressive ones either. Anyone remember a couple of years ago on the Hawthorne Bridge when a driver let that guy off to beat the crap out of a cyclist and then let him back on? Some drivers are just not fit for the job. Sad that Tri-met is either unwilling or unable to do anything about it.

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  • AL M June 16, 2010 at 12:08 am

    I’m not going to comment on the comments but I talked to drivers, passengers, and bicyclists to get their point of view on “aggresiveness”, here is part 1

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItHG9K04F-A

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  • AL M June 16, 2010 at 12:57 am
  • AL M June 16, 2010 at 1:10 am
  • K'Tesh June 16, 2010 at 2:12 am

    Add one more complaint to the list… This time for a MAX operator.

    Last Sunday, 4:14pm(ish)at the Skidmore Fountain stop. The EB MAX comes FLYING down the rail, blaring it’s horn, and nearly mows down over a half a dozen people.

    I can understand that operating a MAX train can be frustrating, but the operator should not endanger the lives of the guests of Portland for a stupid schedual.

    I’ve complained to Tri-Met about this, but had to wait until MONDAY to do it, as they have NOBODY on duty on Sunday’s, nor any voice mail.

    I’ll add that this is not the first time I’ve seen this kind of behavior at PSM, and I’ll call it in EVERY SINGLE TIME!

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  • Anonymous June 16, 2010 at 7:28 am

    So it’s bad when the public lumps all cyclists into a group based on the bad actions of a few, but it’s okay for cyclists to labels all bus drivers as dangerous based on the actions of a few?

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  • Todd Boulanger June 16, 2010 at 7:45 am

    As a community we must report these instances through the official channels…no reported cases = no data = no problem.

    Then we must approach out Trimet and political representatives about how this information is reviewed and acted upon (or not acted on).

    And lastly – given Portland’s objectives about growing bike and transit volumes (often on the same routes)…they must make greater efforts at providing bike and transit facilities that provide less conflict between what should be complimentary modes.

    There are very good facility design and operational practices in many cities…we know who they are and wheat the designs as…basically all the easy bike and bus facilities have been ‘built’…the hard work is now. We must be prudent to not select tools that may work well on lightly biked streets (<5% commute trips) that are more common in most of the US and in the surrounding cities.

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  • are June 16, 2010 at 8:13 am

    hey al, you supposed to be talking with passengers (and turning your head to talk with passengers) while the bus is moving?

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  • beelnite June 16, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Well! OK then. Folks, I didn’t report my incident because I thought just letting the driver know how freaky his maneuver was from my perspective in the saddle was enough.

    To a person – I think TriMet staff are some of the finest in the nation. Seriously. Think about what they do- and what they try to do. Everyone has a moment or a decision they regret – there are going to be close calls even with the most experienced folks operating.

    It’s traffic.

    Passing or not passing the bus? Hmmm.. I contend that in most cases – it’s not on the cyclist to STAY OUT OF THE WAY- no way no how. Certainly to avoid hazards and putting oneself at risk – but riding legally is now in question?

    How about some clarification:

    For whatever reason #14 decided to overtake me and BEAT ME to the stop when it was CLEAR I WAS OUTPACING him – rather than as has been suggested for cyclists – WAITING 3 SECONDS to let me clear the SIDE OF THE ROAD. I was maybe 150 feet from the stop post!

    I will often gear down a bit and avoid playing “leap frog” with a TriMet bus – I do it on Burnside with the #20 nearly every morning between 82nd and 72nd. But this 14 – I overtook this 14 and it had a load – it crawled through a very busy section of Hawthorne and caught back up to me.

    I figured we were fine – I ruled the road along with several other cyclists through Hawthorne – and expected the 14 to pass me up when we hit the 30’s. I never imagined the dude was gonna suddenly pull the maneuver he did.

    But what’s done is done. I’m alive today and anyone who questions my awareness, decision making or ability to ride responsibly can email me at beelnite at yahoo dot com.

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  • john June 16, 2010 at 8:44 am

    #15 BURR. imho, If your breathing the exhaust you are too close.

    #16 Peejay. I always expect buses to enter the bike lane at any time (or cars too for that matter) If a bus passes me, I don’t pass it back unless it is clearly stopping for a long time, or I am really moving fast. Then I only pass on the left. We live in a city, there has to be take and give. Buses come by every 15 minutes or so, so it is not a big deal.

    #20 sparewheel. A bus full of people should always take precedence. Why are you pissing off bus drivers and bunch of people. Just stop it. Thanks for being a great ambassador and promoting bicycling making people want to ride. (heavy sarcasm).

    #21 Chad. If waiting for buses or a street detour here and there cost you 15 minutes then you probably need to learn to ride better (but i suspect you were only exaggerating). At most a bus has cost me 30 seconds to a minute, or I would be waiting at a light anyway. Buses are different beast that come along (relatively rarely ~ 15 minutes). I treat them as dangerous animals. I value my life. I don’t like pissing bus drivers that then will take it out on another poor cyclist. Just stay away.

    #22 David. Yes. Really. We live in a city there must be give a take, their must be efficient flow. Either stay aware, or get run over? I am aware a bus is coming up. I am glancing behind. I see a turn signal. I know maybe they can’t swing wide and needs room, I instantly move over so Efficient traffic flow can occur. It doesn’t cost me any commute time. If I sit in the way, it cost a bunch of people time. Show respect and courtesy and you will get some in return.

    #23 Chad. See above. Lack of courtesy and lack of awareness equals Poor cycling judgement. It’s also called driving or riding defensively. Aka staying alive.

    #41 Paul. Yes. I too starting internalizing appropriate behavior as soon as I started being aware of all the bicycle / bus incidents. ( maybe 6-7 years ago?). The buses serve a lot of people the bus drivers are busy. I don’t want to cause problems, I don’t want bus drivers mad at me, I want to show respect and of course selfishly stay alive. So what can I do minimize an incident? In general just stay back or exercise extreme caution if passing and typically only if the bus is stopped for a while, ie waiting because ahead of schedule, or if there is a super long line of people getting on. If say 4 people or less getting on the bus, I wait.

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  • Ely June 16, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I hate playing bus leapfrog but it happens; I’m not going sit behind & wait while they load & unload if I can pass safely. However I have been fortunate and so far only encountered courteous & aware drivers in this situation; they give me lots of room and I do my best to get out of their way asap. Mutual consideration. Seriously, if I’m going to expect drivers to give up 4 seconds of their time to save my life, I can do the same for a bus.

    I would be very surprised if drivers were actually getting MORE aggressive at this time. I would think they’d all be extra-cautious after the two pedestrian deaths, with that driver unlikely to work again. I would think they’d be concerned about losing their jobs in this economy. However I suppose everyone’s stress levels are up, and with all the construction traffic is messier than ever, naturally leading to more conflicts. What is the solution?

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  • John June 16, 2010 at 9:34 am

    On more than one occasion, buses have crossed into the green bike zone on NE Multnomah & NE Wiedler (the heavily bike-used intersection by the Rose Garden & Max station) heading AGAINST the flow of traffic. I’ve had to dodge out of the way because the drivers know they can play chicken & win.

    This isn’t really defensible. They’re crossing the meridian & heading into the flow of traffic. The northbound lane is designed for bikes & the southbound lane designed for a bus. They have plenty of room. I’m betting this has happened to countless bicyclists.

    So many stupid things happen on the road that, if I held grudges, I’d lose my mind–but in the interest of public safety, I should start reporting this.

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  • Did I miss it? Again? June 16, 2010 at 9:40 am

    When I look in the mirror, I see a cyclist that is a vulnerable road user. Does that give me the right to be rude to others?
    Despite the assertion (#11)that cyclists are unlikely to cause serious injury, there have been more than enough incidents to indicate this is a real potential and happens too often.

    Dat is suggesting that we all, collective as human beings and not cyclists v. drivers, take a breath and chill out. Why does this statement need to be rebuted?

    Posting 11 justifies rude behavior by cyclists based on their level of vulnerability. This same stance could be used by pedestrians against cyclists and only further divides us and them (add your own labels to who us and them are).

    Sad and predictable. We all know where this will lead.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 16, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Did I miss it? Again?

    I’m not rebutting what Dat wrote, I’m replying to it. There’s a difference.

    And yes, I realize that people on bikes are not immune to causing serious harm, just pointing out that equating their potential for serious injury and death with that of a bus is absurd.

    Again, you are putting words into my mouth. I’m not justifying any rude behavior nor am I try to “further divide us”.

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  • rekon June 16, 2010 at 10:16 am

    @John #12,

    If in the third account listed in the story, the bike had been a car, would your opinion be different?

    It is quite clear based on the account that the cyclist was where they should have been, obeying traffic signals, and that they were there well BEFORE the bus. It is also clear that the cyclist was aware enough of the situation to get themselves out of the way when someone else’s poor decision threatened their life. Perhaps you read some other account?

    As for what is not mentioned in the article, the person on the bike who was endangered in the last instance did contact TriMet with a complaint via the proper channels, and they heard back from TriMet in less than 24 hours.

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  • Did I miss it? Again? June 16, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Jonathan-

    Your reply to Dat’s suggestion that we all need to cool down is to point out the size difference and potential for bodily harm. No mention of the behavior.

    I did not read Dat equating bus induced injury to a cyclist induced injury. Were you putting words into his mouth?

    Seems like justification to me.

    I know you are not trying to divide people, but you should realize your words, more than almost anyone else on this blog, carry far more weight and implications that what you may realize.

    Just as most drivers are not trying to hurt cyclists, intent does not always determine the outcome.

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  • sparewheel June 16, 2010 at 10:59 am

    “Why are you pissing off bus drivers and bunch of people. Just stop it. Thanks for being a great ambassador and promoting bicycling making people want to ride. (heavy sarcasm).”

    Oregon law says that I am a vehicle so I make a point of behaving like one. If you don’t like this then you can work to get the law changed.

    Most of my near death experiences have been due to bus drivers cutting into or out of a bike lane. Buses should never cross a bike lane to reach or exit a stop. In europe buses stop in the road when there is a bike lane.

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  • sparewheel June 16, 2010 at 11:02 am

    “In general just stay back or exercise extreme caution if passing and typically only if the bus is stopped for a while, ie waiting because ahead of schedule, or if there is a super long line of people getting on. If say 4 people or less getting on the bus, I wait.”

    Bike stockholm syndrome.

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  • Al June 16, 2010 at 11:04 am

    I’ve been car-less for 25 years. I’m also an ex-racer, and ex-messenger, so my bike skills are quite good. Also, I’m not intimidated by traffic in the least.

    I moved from Boulder about two years ago, and from my observations the drivers here are generally more courteous. Many of the TriMet drivers, on the other hand, seem to be drunk.

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  • JE June 16, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Trimet buses are the single most dangerous things on the road.

    The day after those folks were killed downtown by a Trimet bus, I watched a Trimet bus run the red light at N Greeley and N Killingsworth. Not a yellow light mind you, full on RED. The day after.

    Fortunately, for Trimet, killing or injuring pedistrians or cyclists with a motor vehicle is not a crime in Oregon.

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  • Bob_M June 16, 2010 at 11:24 am

    A cyclist is responsible for his/her own safety. Other than the rare event of intentional assault most “accidents” can be avoided. Sure one may have to relinquish their right-of-way, but insisting on right-of-way and getting crushed in the process is poor judgement. There are old cyclists and bold cyclists, but not a lot of bold, old cyclists.

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  • alice's adventures June 16, 2010 at 11:26 am

    A car wouldn’t hang back and let the bus do its leapfrogging. Bikes are legally considered motor vehicles, and are provided a safe lane in which to proceed. I don’t understand the city planning that places bus stops in bike lanes, but if that is the case, passing on the left in a lane of traffic is legal, and needs to be part of the Tri Met operator’s awareness training. Yes, they have a busy, busy job. It is a life or death job, literally, and they need to take it deathly seriously. Joking about killing a cyclist is frightening.

    I look forward to the day all citizens are required to bike commute, even just ONE day out of an entire year. That would improve bike sensitivity and reduce road rage faster than any other measures 🙂

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  • ChocateyChocotheChocolateChicken June 16, 2010 at 11:34 am

    No absolutes: there are good and bad bus operators.

    Good: As a rider, I have always been treated with kindness and courtesy.

    Bad: As a biker, I was flipped off by a bus operator after I attempted to pass him while he was at a stop–operators click the turn signal and go in one motion. I was continuously beeped at for refusing to yield the lane on Alberta–like the folks above I don’t want to get smooshed.

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  • red hippie June 16, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Look,

    Having mulit ton busses and 40 pound bikes sharing the same space is dumb. The way the roads are set up today with bike lanes that buses have to routinely cross is a recipie for conflict.

    The efforts to establish low traffic bike boulevards are a great start. Over time the City and Tri Met need to get the remaining areas of use overlap resolved. Good example is Willams and Hawthorne. Either move the bus route or move the bike route. This means that the cyclist actually have to use the bike routes. I see people on bikes all the time on Hawthorne around 20th when there is a bike boulevard a block away.

    Finally they need to find better soulutions to hot spots like the Rose Garden Transit Center.

    Unitl then, just chill out, work collectively and focus on the solutions.

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  • BURR June 16, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I see people on bikes all the time on Hawthorne around 20th when there is a bike boulevard a block away.

    You are incorrect. At Hawthorne and SE 20th the closest official bike boulevards are either three blocks north (Salmon) or three blocks south (Harrison).

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  • The FBI June 16, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Waffle Stomper said: “Doesn’t matter if it is a Tri-met Driver, a policeman, a TSA screener, a Democrat Senator, a Democrat President, a Democrat Mayor, or whatever – government maggots can do ANYTHING they want and get away with it. But if YOU do the same thing you will be convicted, labeled a felon and put in prison.”

    You forgot Democrat Secretary of the Treasury.

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  • BURR June 16, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    besides, at least half of those people on bikes at SE 20th and Hawthorne are probably there because they are accessing restaurants and other commercial services located on the boulevard.

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  • craig June 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Ray Thomas and “Pedal Power” once again have the legal answer, and it is that the bus MUST wait for cyclists to pass before encroaching on the bike lane to make a stop.

    From Mr. Thomas’s firm’s “Pedal Power – a Legal Guide for Oregon Bicyclists” http://www.stc-law.com/bikepower.html:

    “ORS 811.050 makes it a Class B traffic infraction (up to a $300.00 fine) for a motorist to fail to yield to a rider in a bicycle lane […] This means that motorists must wait for the bicyclist to pass, slow down as they approach a bicyclist in the bike lane (such as in the right turn example), or stop in the lane of traffic with the turn signal on while waiting for the bike lane to clear before turning or parking.”

    Mr. Thomas is presenting yet another of his expert legal clinics this evening at the BTA, and I’ll be there: http://www.shift2bikes.org/cal/viewpp2010.php#16-1522

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  • Marid June 16, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    There may not be a bike “boulevard” a block away, but there is a residential street. The point that that section of Hawthorne is dangerous is valid. I would much rather take a longer route than risk my life. In fact, I do it every day when I ride through Ladd’s rather than on Hawthorne.

    Without excusing the bus drivers, we, as cyclists, need to respect the shear size and mass of buses just as cars need to. Busses terrify me and I think for good reason.

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  • SE jimmy June 16, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Ok, my two cents and then I’ll move on.

    #1 The argument about trying to get someplace quickly doesn’t hold water for me. If time is your primary concern, drive. There’s about a 1.5 to 2.5 mile window where riding may be faster than driving for me (I live in inner SE). Less than a mile, walking is almost faster (no gathering equipment, locking the bike up, etc). If you don’t have to transfer, then taking a bus or Max will probably be faster for anything more than 2 miles.

    #2 While ORS 811.050 gives bikes the right of way *in a bike lane* (not the case on Hawthorne), 811.165 and 167 give the right of way to buses any time they are moving into traffic or picking up/dropping off passengers. 165 could reasonably be applied to buses moving right across the bike lane as well as left into or across a traffic lane. In my mind, the practical application of this is once the rear bumper of the bus is past my front wheel, I am legally required to yield, even if I am moving faster than the bus.

    This also goes to defensive driving skills, or lack thereof. If I am being overtaken by a bus and can see passengers waiting at a stop ahead, I slow in anticipation of the bus moving to the stop. Too many operators, both car and bike, do not seem to be able to look beyond their front wheel(s) and use what they see to anticipate the possible actions of others on the road. This is not a legal/illegal issue, this is an accident avoidance issue. Laws are fine for assigning responsibility in a legal sense, but I would rather just avoid possible issues than be injured but right.

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  • craig June 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    @SE Jimmy #74

    811.165 and 167 do NOT establish a bus’s right to overtake the bike lane without first signalling, then stopping int heir current lane, then letting approaching or existing traffic in the lane completely pass the bus before moving across to the passenger pickup. 165 only applies AFTER the bus has pulled over, and 167 applies only one the bus begins to move back into the vehicle lane.

    Bet ya a buck. I’ll collect my money at the legal clinic tonight, if you show up: http://www.shift2bikes.org/cal/viewpp2010.php#16-1522

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  • craig June 16, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    When it’s me, and a bus is approaching me from the rear, near an impending bus stop, I move into the vehicle lane, under the protection of the ORS 814.430, asserting that it’s not “practicable” to remain in the bike lane when the likelihood is high that a bus passing me will attempt to overtake and obstruct me.

    I agree with you, SE Jimmy, that avoidance strategies are a bike rider’s best assets, but your practice of slowing in anticipation of every passenger pickup just doesn’t work for daily commuters along routes with slow-moving buses and frequent stops (Broadway/Weidler, Vancouver/Williams).

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  • Roma June 16, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Of all the close calls I’ve ever had on a bicycle, the majority of them have been with TriMet buses. I’ve had them pass me inches away at speed and pass me to immediately cut me off. I’m not at all surprised by these reports.

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  • Steve B. June 16, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Why are we still putting bike lanes literally between buses and the bus stops? There is no excuse for this sort of mid-nineties style of roadway delineation.

    The most recent “yep, we’re still doing it that way, even though it doesn’t make any sense,” implementation is the brand new Couch St between MLK and 14th.

    I don’t want to say that good will and personal responsibility don’t play a part, but bike vs. bus/streetcar conflicts are an engineering fop-aux that must be addressed in our new roadway projects at the very least. Sadly, I can point to few modern examples of PBOT, Trimet, and ODOT “getting it” when it comes to bikeways along bus routes.

    Bike amenities like bike lanes, cycletracks and sharrows should never put a bike anywhere near a bus stop or a right turn. Why are we still building old ideas that don’t work?

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  • Sarah O June 16, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    I hopped on the 75 yesterday with a load of groceries from Freddy’s, and the driver drove so unbelievably fast. Stops were WHIPPING by, it was lightly raining and that point of night where the sky is still dark blue – just so dangerous all around. Besides speeding more than I’ve ever witnessed, this driver slammed on the brakes abruptly at every stop, so that I had to put my hand up to prevent myself from crashing into the seat in front of me. I looked around and the rest of the passengers were doing the same, looking at one another. Yet I didn’t call Tri-Met because my ride was so short, I just counted my blessings as I gratefully hopped off.

    Then again, the driver on the 8 today going downtown announced after each door closed, “The bus is about to move, please hold on.” Yes, after EVERY STOP. So it can go both ways, from the life-threatening to the over-cautious. I’d rather have the second driver each time.

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  • sparewheel June 16, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    “The point that that section of Hawthorne is dangerous is valid.”

    Show me the data.

    Many fatalities and injuries occur at points where bike boulevards intersect with a major arterial.

    “There’s about a 1.5 to 2.5 mile window where riding may be faster than driving for me (I live in inner SE).”

    Given congestion and parking this is simply not true. An intermediate level cyclist can easily average 15 mph or higher. Even a newbie can average 10.

    “Less than a mile, walking is almost faster (no gathering equipment, locking the bike up, etc).”

    It takes me 1-5 mins to get on the road and most cyclists can easily cover a mile in 3-6 mins. Even at a brisk walk it would take ~20 mins to cover a mile.

    “If you don’t have to transfer, then taking a bus or Max will probably be faster for anything more than 2 miles.”

    During peak commuting hours mass transit is either gridlocked or delayed. And its pretty much impossible to go anywhere useful in PDX without a transfer.

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  • sparewheel June 16, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    “but your practice of slowing in anticipation of every passenger pickup just doesn’t work for daily commuters along routes with slow-moving buses and frequent stops”

    And staying in the bike lane behind a bus is unsafe when other buses stack up behind or beside you.

    Avoid blind spots and take the lane!

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  • Mike June 16, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Jonathan, so you are saying a cyclist can behave any way he/she chooses? You very wrong!!An A-hole cyclist blowing a red light can collide with a pedestrian, do you think that may be dangerous or do you just think because you ride a bike your stuff don’t stink?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 16, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Mike #82,

    no. i am not saying that. of course i’m not saying that. that’s absurd. every road user should operate with care and consideration for others and for the law.

    please don’t spin my comment into something it is not. thanks.

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  • are June 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    re comment 76, i am with you, brother, only problem is 814.430 does not apply. that’s the far to right law. if there is a striped bike lane, you are under 814.420, and your only out might be (3)(c), avoiding a hazardous condition.

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  • craig June 16, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Right you are, are. Same logic, slightly different statute. I mixed them up. 814.420 also helps when the bike lane is absurdly close to parked cars and their doors, and when it’s a collection point for gravel and other blowout-inducing debris.

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  • Diane June 16, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    I am daily bike commuter and a TriMet employee. Our operators have really challenging jobs and cyclists are one of many complicating factors, particulary ones who don’t make a concerted effort to be seen. There is a blind spot, so when I regularly do the dance with buses on Williams-Vancouver I go the extra mile to keep a good shy distance from them. I want to live and not cause my colleagues additional stress on the road. Is it too much to ask to give them a break and not make assumptions about their skills or motivations?

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  • craig June 16, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Diane #86, I appreciate your complete perspective on this, but I would ask, is to too much to ask for TriMet drivers to always obey the law and NOT overtake the bike lane until they first satisfy their legal obligation to first “wait for the bicyclist to pass, slow down as they approach a bicyclist in the bike lane […] or stop in the lane of traffic with the turn signal on while waiting for the bike lane to clear before turning or parking.” ???

    I ride the #8 route, and there are clearly drivers who are always calm and careful in their actions; but there are also those who for whatever reasons consistently use an aggressive style in stopping, accelerating, and pulling over to their stops. Then there are those, style aside, just aren’t safe, period: just a few months ago, one slammed on the brakes in the middle of the sidewalk at NE 15th & Broadway when his personal cell phone conversation (I was standing 3 feet from him) distracted him from the light turning red, and passengers all lurched and stumbled forward. I phoned TriMet and left a message to report the incident, and never received call back. Basic safety practices are not prevalent enough among TriMet drivers to warrant a “just give them a break” plea.

    I hope you’re one of the good ones.

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  • BURR June 16, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Is it too much to ask to give them a break and not make assumptions about their skills or motivations?

    Unfortunately, all too many bus drivers put their poor driving skills on display for all of us to see each and every day. And based on their behaviour, it’s not too much of a stretch to assume that their motivations include ‘teaching all those damn cyclists a lesson or two about who owns the road’.

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  • john SE June 16, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    I have been riding my bike in Portland almost every day for 8 years.

    I find bus drivers almost always friendly, attentive, and skillful and I do not think this is a coincidence. I believe this is due, in part, to my defensive riding and the fact that I try to follow one of the most important riding rules for bike riders: do not pass other vehicles on the right side (unless in a marked bike lane).

    When riding near a bus, I am extra cautious. I try to stay behind them or in front of them. As others have written, we need to ascribe motivations to drivers of very large vehicles that seem, due to their largeness, aggressive.

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  • Marid June 16, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    #80: “show me the data”

    There’s no need. All one needs to do is look at the street. Narrow lanes. No bike lanes. High traffic. Remember the photo in a previous story showing that busses are wider than the lanes? Streets like much of Hawthorne, 39th, MLK, Burnside, etc. are not good choices for cyclists.

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  • SD June 16, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    It would be interesting to see how bus drivers would score on a test for laws regarding bike lanes.

    I was enjoying my cycle commute home on the newly paved N Williams until a trimet bus almost smashed into me. The driver was an older, obese, african american man with partially grey hair and sunglasses and honked as he was passing me. I had no idea why he honked until I realized that he decided to take the bike lane while I was in it next to him. He was not pulling over for a stop; he was going around a cement median and was driving fast. He came within inches, forcing me out of the right side of the bike lane. Luckily there were no cars parked on the right side of the road.
    Now I know that a honk from a bus driver might mean “get out of the bike lane, I am about to illegally drive my huge $%#$% bus in the bike lane and may kill you.”
    It only takes once. The ignorance and attitude of some trimet drivers is not tolerable. Suggestive evidence of incompetence is everywhere and competence can be tested. Trimet is obligated to change.

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  • bent wheel June 16, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Where can i send a complaint about rude and dangerous cyclist? As i was commuting to work on Monday going N on SE 21st Ave, when I came to 21st and Clinton I stopped for the stop sign. The cyclist going S, on 21st blew through the stop sign and almost hit me.

    So I conclude that there are just idiots in this world, regardless of their transportation choices.

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  • Jerrold Simpson June 16, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    The accident on Hawthorne & Maple. Classic “BUZZING” incident. Not uncommon for Trimet drivers either in a rush or with a vendetta.

    All records public. Get a hold of the complaint files on the drivers to see previous history of problem with bicyclists.

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  • jackson June 16, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    44, 46, 47, 48 Al M. DUDE! Has anyone else listened to his videos? I got through some of each but I don’t think he represents trimet drivers or the company. Negative comments with buddies. Rambling on and on. I am concerned this character would spread more negative then positive against bicyclists. Does he ride a bike?

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  • CaptainKarma June 17, 2010 at 1:05 am

    A little off topic, but for a bit of perspective anyway: Big Busses, Behaving Badly– I was once riding the ‘hound westbound out of Mobile, heading for New Orleans and points west. The driver was tooling down the highway at >75 mph, eating his fast-food lunch, and holding multiple personal cellphone conversations with some sort of significant other. At some point he totally spilled his drink all over and starts cussing. A passenger questioned his activities, and he threatened her to move to the back of the bus or be thrown off in the middle of Nowhere, Louisianna. He never did actually swerve or kill us all that day.
    Another time, in Korea (lots of bicycles & mass transit), I saw where two bus drivers were racing each other (with passengers). Neither would yield, and they both crashed off a bridge into a deep ravine and, well, there were many fatalities on that one.

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  • Anonymous June 17, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Craig

    “is to too much to ask for TriMet drivers to always obey the law ”

    Only if you also ask all cyclists to always obey the law.

    You can’t sit on your high horse about obeying the law when as a group we don’t follow every law.

    You can’t justify your bad behavior by saying everyone else is doing it, and then demand that they stop doing it.

    You certainly lose the moral high ground on this one when you demand others to do something you yourself don’t do.

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  • Bob_M June 17, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Kaptain Karma
    If two Korean bus drivers kill their own passengers that proves all Tri Met drivers are homicidal maniacs. Thanks for clearing that up.

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  • Did I miss it? Again? June 17, 2010 at 11:06 am

    #92- Bent Wheel
    This is not the forum for that. Tongue in cheek follows:

    You’re wrong! As you are no doubt aware, there would have been little consequence if the cyclist hit you because he was not driving a car and it is absurd to try and equate the two.
    The cyclist has every right to be on the roads and should not be held to the same laws.
    Stop signs should not apply to cyclists because they have a better field of vision and because they are not going as fast or weigh as much as autos are incapable of doing any serious damage.

    Your correct posting would be along the lines of the following:
    Autocentric blah blah blah, speeding blah, oil, trimet, consumerism blah, blah.

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  • craig June 17, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Does anyone else agree with Anonymous #96? In my view, drivers, who are (1) public employees, (2) whose job is to drive public motor vehicles all day, and (3) by virtue of #s 1 & 2 above, for the duration of every long shift on the city streets have the potential to destroy lives by dismissing traffic law or common-sense safety, MUST be held to a higher standard than everybody else. I don’t mean they should be saints, but they (bus divers and others who fit the above description) should be held strictly accountable for these things far more rigorously than anybody else.

    And, Anonymous, I am human and so, imperfect, but I don’t ask that I or any other road user be given a break when endangering lives by shirking responsibility. If you are one of those who does, God help you.

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  • Did I miss it? Again? June 17, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Craig-

    Just so I understand: Drivers should be held to different levels of accountability based on their employers?

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  • al m June 17, 2010 at 11:31 am

    You guys give me a headache!

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  • al m June 17, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Oh yea, I had a bike, it got stolen.

    And now for the 1002 time, I DO NOT REPRESENT TRIMET OR TRIMET BUS DRIVERS!

    Hell, I don’t even represent myself!

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  • Anonymous June 17, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Thanks Craig,

    More do as I say not as I do from the a cyclist.

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  • SD June 17, 2010 at 11:57 am

    #92 and #96 and others who state that cyclists also violate traffic laws. I do not understand what point you are making, but I notice that it comes up often in discussions about dangerous driving. Are you saying that law breaking bicyclists pose the same threat as buses? Or that dangerous driving from trimet buses cannot be addressed until all cyclists stop violating traffic laws? This discussion has little to do with moral high ground or who is better at following rules. The primary concern is reducing risk and preventing traffic fatalities and injuries. With that in mind, I suggest that you make a list of the differences between bicycles and buses. For example #1 a Bus weighs weighs over 12 tons and a bike weighs less than 50 lbs. #2 In Portland this year misuse of trimet buses has killed _ people and injured _, misuse of bicycles … Am I wasting my time to state the obvious?

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  • Anonymous June 17, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    SD,

    Yes it comes up when cyclist stamp their feet and demand that drivers obey the rules of the road. While in the next breath stating that they don’t have to obey those same laws.

    There is no higher standard required of anyone when it comes to the rules of the road. We ALL must have the same standard.

    And really, not a single injury or death in Portland because of the misuse of a bicycle? Please join me this summer in the ER of any local hospital and view the numerous injuries due to improper use of bicycles on our roads.

    Feel free to continue with your viewpoint on obeying the laws, but remember the next time you get ticketed at Ladds Circle for rolling the stop sign, that you chose to break the law.

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  • BURR June 17, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    but Al M, you are a TriMet driver, aren’t you? Or are you lying about that on your ‘blog’?

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  • El Biciclero June 17, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    “Just so I understand: Drivers should be held to different levels of accountability based on their employers?”

    Not to speak for Craig, but, uh, yeah. Just as we hold Contractors and Engineers to a higher standard than DIY-ers, Lawyers to a higher standard than amateur legal self-defenders, EMTs to a higher standard than passers-by who render first aid, etc.–professionals of all kinds are usually held to higher standards than lay folks. So yes–if your employer hires you specifically to drive a vehicle that requires a higher level of certification/licensing to even operate, you should be expected to operate that vehicle at a higher level of skill and professionalism than the schmos around you.

    This does not in any way excuse cyclists from obeying laws, but neither does it excuse broad-brushing all cyclists as law-breakers. For all we know, Craig is a 100% law-abiding cyclist who has two legs to stand on when asking for that same level of compliance from others.

    While we’re on that topic, what’s the word to describe motorists who decry “scofflaw cyclists” while they speed around town at 10-over the limit, rolling stops, flooring it through yellow (and red) lights, making unsignaled lane changes and turns…? …Oh, yeah–“hypocrites”.

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  • craig June 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Thanks, El Biciclero. I appreciate your benefit-of-the-doubt, which we can all benefit by employing. However, I’m not a 100% law-abiding cyclist, but the I don’t ask to be excused from legal accountability; neither am I a professional driver employed at taxpayer expense operating a behemoth in motion.

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  • are June 17, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    re comment 100, yes, actually it has been the law almost forever that a common carrier is held to a greater standard of care than just any fool operating a motor vehicle. Simpson v. The Gray Line Co., 226 Or. 71, 358 P2d 516 (1961), etc.

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  • Anonymous June 17, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Hey Craig,

    You might want to check out the actual facts of the incident.

    http://bikeportland.org/2010/06/17/trimet-releases-video-of-hawthorne-squeeze-incident/

    “The video clearly shows Sebastian Case — who was featured in an Oregonian story about the incident — riding his bike on the sidewalk east of SE 12th about four seconds prior to the collision. Case then enters the roadway after the bus had already begun passing him. He then tries, unsuccessfully, to squeeze between the bus and a parked van.”

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  • craig June 17, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    @Anonymous 110

    In relation to this thread, why would I care about “the incident” since it’s not relevant to my remarks, which are not about “the incident”; they’re about the law, about whether TriMet drivers observe it, and whether they are held accountable.

    People on bikes do dangerous and illegal things—I’m not addressing that. TriMet drivers (not all and not all the time) do dangerous and illegal things–I’m addressing that.

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  • SD June 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Anonymous,
    I think you are having a conversation with an imaginary straw-man. I suggest you read what I posted, and I still think a careful analysis of the difference between buses and cars may be enlightening.
    The funny thing is that I have worked quite a bit in ERs and shockingly I find that trauma from MVAs is worse than trauma from bicycle accidents not involving MVAs. But, don’t take my word for it, you can check out the mmwr from the cdc web site and see for yourself. Or previously posted stats on bike portland.
    My point is …
    Buses and cars that violate traffic laws create a greater risk of fatality and serious injury than bicylces (especially for others.) That being said we all should follow traffic laws. Trimet drivers who disobey traffic laws or who drive unsafely create more risk than typical road users because more people are exposed to their dangerous behavior. Focusing on the behavior of groups that pose a greater cumulative risk will decrease injury and fatality.

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  • Anonymous TriMet Employee June 18, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Craig @99,

    To answer your question. TriMet operators should be held to a higher standard and they ARE held to a higher standard.

    Every accident and incident – no matter how minor – is reviewed by TriMet. The amount of evidence that is gathered for these reviews – even when there have been no injuries or property damage – is often excessive. TriMet also commonly reviews “close calls”.

    Accidents that would be considered “no fault” or “unavoidable” by drivers and others outside of the TriMet are commonly determined to be preventable due to operator error by TriMet. This outcome happens solely because of the higher standard that is applied. The safety bar at TriMet very, very much above merely following traffic laws.

    In addition, TriMet operators proactively make suggestions for changes to stops, equipment, schedules, routes, etc. all in an effort to make the system safer.

    As a result of all of this, TriMet is constantly tweaking its procedures, its training, its supervision, it modifies equipment, redesigns bus stops and facilities, and works with local jurisdictions to change signal timing, striping, etc.

    Only so much can risk can be completely managed, trained, and designed out of the system. Unforeseen things will happen and foreseen things will happen despite TriMet’s best efforts to prevent them.

    There are over 1,200 operators at TriMet at any given time. These folks are behind the wheel of a 40 foot bus 8 hours or more a day. They may drive more miles in a year than many folks will drive in a lifetime.

    The vast majority of these operators will never end up in the papers or on a blog as a result of their actions and decisions behind the wheel because they consistently meet the higher standard that they are held to.

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  • craig June 18, 2010 at 9:12 am

    @Anonymous TriMet Employee

    I am glad to read your comments, and not surprised. What you describe is what I would expect to be the case at TriMet.

    I have not questioned whether TriMet establishes and enforces a higher standard for its drivers. My comments on this topic have only been a response to the assertion of Diane #86 that we should give drivers a break when they do flout safety and the law.

    Mostly, I like TriMet drivers alot 🙂

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  • trimet chick June 18, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Re: 113, anonymous trimet employee, “In addition, TriMet operators proactively make suggestions for changes to stops, equipment, schedules, routes, etc. all in an effort to make the system safer”.

    Me thinks you’re trying to create a false persona or your a manager or you don’t work for trimet at all. Your statement is so UNTRUE. Operators do not have input. Rules, regulations, safety etc are implemented by employees that have never driven a bus in revenue.

    Did a little research this morning and found out that Trimet actually has an in house BICYCLE ADVOCATE for the community.

    Colin Maher
    maherc@trimet.org
    503-962-5854

    Problems, complaints, kudos, pony’s whatever. Give him a call or e-mail.

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