Special gravel coverage

Learning from a road rage interaction

Posted by on July 7th, 2010 at 3:54 pm

This tricky traffic situation led to
an interesting exchange.
(Photo © J. Maus)

For the second time in about as many months, I got into an interaction with someone driving a car while riding home from work. But unlike last time — when my middle finger contributed to a heated argument and the man in the car sped away — last night something amazing happened.

Here’s what went down…

I was riding west on Skidmore during the height of the evening rush hour, just having rode past several cars backed up at a red light on N. Vancouver. This section of Skidmore has one lane of travel and a parking lane in each direction. I was riding along in the travel lane so as to avoid any door zone hazard and to discourage anyone from trying to squeeze around me (see photo above).

“I almost hit you man, you’ve gotta’ get over. Why don’t you get over?! I could have run you over!”

As the cars from Vancouver Avenue caught up and began to pass and I heard someone yelling, “You gotta yield man! Yield! Yield! Get over!” and I watched a car pass with a man’s left hand outstretched from the driver’s side window pointing in a “get over” motion.

I immediately reacted because I felt like I had every reason to be where I was and I was not riding illegally. I didn’t react with anger or a middle finger (he didn’t pass me dangerously like the guy did back in April). I just nodded, smiled, yelled (nothing of substance), and waved my arms back at him. My objective was simply to make him aware that I heard him and that I would not be intimidated.

As I watched him drive away he suddenly swerved into the parking lane and stopped. ‘Great,’ I thought, now we’ll get a chance to talk about this face-to-face.

“I almost hit you man, you’ve gotta’ get over. Why don’t you get over?! I could have run you over!” he said repeatedly. I was smiling and nodding as I took off my glasses and helmet to make myself more human. Unlike the guy in April, this guy was not threatening me. Rather, he seemed to be expressing a sincere fear of hitting me and he decided it was my fault he felt that way.

“I hear you, but what about me?” I replied. “I was just riding trying to ride safely!” I tried as best I could to explain to him that I have the right to ride in the road to avoid a dooring hazard and that I felt it was safer to ride in the lane than to swerve in and and out of gaps in the parking lane.

For several moments, we went back and forth trying to explain to each other why we behaved like we did. For both of us, fear was the main motivator.

Then, the man introduced another thing into the equation. Race.

“I grew up riding on these streets… I rode all over this neighborhood… but I never rode out in the lane like that. Then you guys [referring to white people I presumed, given that he was black] move up in here and you start riding in the road.”

As we continued to go back and forth, he suddenly put out his hand and said, “By the way man, my name is Jeff.” After we shook hands we both laughed and smiled a bit. We had both made our feelings known and we were ready to move on.

After he pulled away, my mind buzzed from the exchange. In just a few short minutes, I think we gained a much better understanding of each other, and more importantly, of the “communities” both of us represented.

The interaction made me think about how I’ve been riding on these types of streets. Yes, I feel taking the lane is necessary, but I also could stand to move over just a bit more to let cars pass when there’s room. It was also helpful for me to hear first-hand something I have known for years — that biking and gentrification are complex and intertwined issues in North and Northeast Portland.

Our roads and the laws that govern them are not perfect — especially as they pertain to traveling by bike. As I try to make the best out of the situation on my daily rides, this interaction will help me remember the perspective from the other side of the windshield. As for Jeff, I hope he realizes that the people on bikes he passes by everyday are just people; trying to survive and get home safely just like he is.

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  • bahueh July 7, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    umm..ya..not exactly sure I’d call what you described as “road rage”….

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 7, 2010 at 4:07 pm

      i hear you bahueh, I couldn’t think of a good title and/or a name for the type of interaction. It seemed to start as a typical road rage situation with someone being angry and yelling… but by the time we met face-to-face he wasn’t ‘raging’ at all.

      as for the law, it’s just not clear what “impeding traffic” is (remember the Ainsworth Incident?). To me, the “reasonable flow of traffic” on a small street like this is for people in cars to slow down and wait a few seconds until they have room to pass. Until the law is made more clear, this situation will continue to be problematic in my mind. but really, a full discussion about this law and this traffic situation would be better suited to a separate post. thanks for the comments.

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  • bahueh July 7, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    oh ya, and Maus…center lane only when you can do so without impeding traffic…if not, its as far to the right with you as “possible”. that’s the law man…

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    • Justin S July 6, 2012 at 11:24 am

      Actually it’s “far right as practicable” which means something very different.

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  • Julie July 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Thanks Jonathan. I appreciate your dedication to creating better understanding among the diverse riding/non-riding communities. This story shows the complexity of not just car v. bike, but also gentrification and race. Good reminder that it’s easy to see the issue in terms of simple polarization, but it’s a lot more complex and worth the effort to communicate.

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  • The Biking Viking July 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    There is certainly an art between avoiding the door hazard and allowing space for cars to go around. I probably tend to favor the latter, though I certainly don’t blame anyone who feels more comfortable in the middle of the lane.

    But I like the discussion that took place in this instance. It’s not very often that you meet a commuter willing to pause and discuss the minutia of bike right-of-way.

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  • Kronda July 7, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Actually bahueh, sometimes ‘as far to the right as practicable’ (not possible–there’s a difference) means being in the center of the lane. The law allows for avoiding dangers to the right and the door zone is certainly a real danger.


    When I’m in these situations, I happily will move over to the parking lane to let specific cars pass when there’s enough room. Most of the time, drivers know what I’m doing, and pass safely, at which time I signal and move back out. This strategy keeps the peace 95% of the time and gets everyone where they’re going in one piece.

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  • Esther July 7, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Jonathan, I had a similar experience last week on NE Couch.
    On NE Couch, I had been playing leapfrog with a #19, and eventually passed it around 10th. As it caught up to me at 6th, I continued to stay in the car lane, instead of moving to the bike lane that begins at 6th. The bus driver honked aggressively several times behind me. After Grand I moved into the bike lane and we both stopped at a red light at MLK.

    The driver inched up to where I was waiting behind the crosswalk, and opened the door, saying sarcastically/passive-aggressively “Aren’t you supposed to be in the bike lane when there is one?”

    I explained that I don’t ride in the bike lane between 6th and Grand because I have seen numerous close calls there, gesturing with my hands to show how a car cuts off a bicyclist moving forward in the bike lane. I explained that almost every time I have gone through that intersection cars have turned right directly in front of me because the bike lane only began in that block and drivers don’t expect bikes to suddenly be passing on the right.

    I half-expected her to maintain her right to the vehicle lane, but she nodded thoughtfully and said, “Oh, ok.” I said “Have a great day!” and I felt pretty satisfied that my point of view made sense to a driver, and that she had gotten a different perspective on a route she may have to drive many times in future.

    Now, I wish I had a better way to communicate with the bike jerks who pass without ringing on the super tight lane on Interstate…an entire club ride passed me yesterday, one or two at a time, while I was trying to dodge those darn stormwater grates. I rang my bell and shouted but they were going too fast (and it was too hot) for me to even try to catch up and have any interaction with them… one guy who stopped at a light with me commiserated “I hate that too!”

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  • peejay July 7, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    It’s nearly impossible to have a rational discussion like that when you’re out on the street using different modes. Jonathan, you got lucky.

    I do find it possible to have this kind of talk — with positive results — in other situations, like over lunch at work, or in a restaurant, when both people are already on even footing. A conversation between somebody in an automobile and anybody else is pretty hard — what with the fact that they are effectively a disembodied head to somebody outside their car, and to them, everyone is little more real than if they were on TV (with the ultimate mute button of rolling the window up).

    I suppose helmets don’t help, either, as you say. Tell that to the helmet extremists!

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  • are July 7, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    seconding kronda. 814.430 permits a cyclist to move left to avoid a hazard. a motorist overtaking too close is a hazard that can be avoided by asserting the lane.

    also, when i read the header i assumed jonathan was referring back to the previous incident as “rage,” from which he “learned.”

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  • Velophile in Exile July 7, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    BAHUEH (#2) IS WRONG ABOUT THE LAW (AGAIN). See Subsection (2)(c):

    814.430 Improper use of lanes; exceptions; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person does not ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.

    (2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:

    (a) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle that is proceeding in the same direction.

    (b) When preparing to execute a left turn.

    (c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side. Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.

    (d) When operating within a city as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of a roadway that is designated to allow traffic to move in only one direction along the roadway. A bicycle that is operated under this paragraph is subject to the same requirements and exceptions when operating along the left curb or edge as are applicable when a bicycle is operating along the right curb or edge of the roadway.

    (e) When operating a bicycle alongside not more than one other bicycle as long as the bicycles are both being operated within a single lane and in a manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

    (f) When operating on a bicycle lane or bicycle path.

    (3) The offense described in this section, improper use of lanes by a bicycle, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §701; 1985 c.16 §339]

    Improper use of lanes is the sole source of law in the traffic code for addressing not riding on the right. The Impeding rule doesn’t say anything about riding to the right and applies specifically to motor vehicles:

    811.130 Impeding traffic; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of impeding traffic if the person drives a motor vehicle or a combination of motor vehicles in a manner that impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

    (2) A person is not in violation of the offense described under this section if the person is proceeding in a manner needed for safe operation.

    (3) Proceeding in a manner needed for safe operation includes but is not necessarily limited to:

    (a) Momentarily stopping to allow oncoming traffic to pass before making a right-hand or left-hand turn.

    (b) Momentarily stopping in preparation of, or moving at an extremely slow pace while, negotiating an exit from the road.

    (4) A person is not in violation of the offense described under this section if the person is proceeding as part of a funeral procession under the direction of a funeral escort vehicle or a funeral lead vehicle.

    (5) The offense described in this section, impeding traffic, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §569; 1985 c.16 §288; 1989 c.433 §1; 1991 c.482 §18; 1995 c.383 §45]

    As usual, that anti-bike agenda just can’t stretch far enough to deal with the facts. Stick to your day job dude, understanding the traffic code requires reading comprehension skills.

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  • browse July 7, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    I aspire to be calm and collected during confrontations like this. I don’t always succeed, but I try. Well done!

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  • trail user July 7, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    If Jeff displayed the same amount of anger as the previous road rager(who I assume was white), black Jeff could possibly end up in jail. Obama discussed angry black men in his books — in that an angry black man is deathly frightening to white people. I’m sure Jeff was about to tear your head off.

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  • Eugene Bicyclist July 7, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Interesting post. Yeah, I give the guy in the car credit for at least 1) trying to just tell you what he thinks is the problem without being rude, 2) being willing to discuss it reasonably and 3) actually taking the time to stop and talk.
    I mean how often does that happen?
    But it’s a sucky situation for a cyclist: a fairly busy street with 30 mph+ traffic on the left and a line of parked cars on the right.
    And, frankly, I’d rather have a guy in a car yell at me than find myself plowing into a door.

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  • encephalopath July 7, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    JM, I think your’re giving too much credit to the drivers mistaken opinion in this interaction.

    He’s wrong… tell him so. I agree, tell him he’s wrong nicely, but cycling behavior based in law and best practices shouldn’t be given equal weight to made up nonsense from childhood memories.

    There is no reason to entertain incorrect ideas about what your and a driver’s responsibilities are.

    As much as I think the efforts of the VC people are misdirected, Commute Orlando is right about this:

    “The responsibility for safe passing is unequivocally on the overtaking driver and it always has been! There is no right of speed or right to pass. If you can’t pass safely, you may not pass. Period.”


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  • alice's adventures July 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    “If you are going to take up a whole lane go the speed of traffic!”

    I recently had the opportunity to speak with a disgruntled driver after she swerved (very fast and aggressively) around me after we came out of a one-lane construction zone near the Lloyd Center. As timing would have it, she sped up, then screeched to a stop at the red light several feet ahead of us. I calmly road up beside her and asked “What her problem was?”
    Not the most polite way to start things off, but I was trying my hardest not to let my anger get the best of me.
    She responded that I was taking up the whole lane and going too slow. I responded that bikes have a right to the lane under hazardous conditions, such as the bottleneck we just passed.
    I quickly could tell that nothing productive could be further discussed with this young lady so I backed off, told her to have a good day, and hoped I was a good example of a calm and communicative cyclist.

    Didn’t end as well as your exchange, but I hope I can improve my future discussions with drivers as I am sure more situations like this will occur.

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  • Red Five July 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    “you people”…wow the race card always get pulled. It sucks to have “whitey” move into an area and bring up those property values.

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    • JAT in Seattle July 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      Stay on Target!

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  • Chris July 7, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    In a couple of cases (a fender bender and a bike/car interaction) one of the first things I have done is introduce myself. Both times I was amazed how quickly the situation de-escalate. Once was pretty funny, guy came out of his car fuming! I said nothing, waited for him to cool down, and stuck out my hand and said “Hey, I’m Chris.” Kind of caught him off guard and we worked it out no problem. Makes you both real people instead of the guy you hit/got hit by, etc. Good lesson.

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  • meteorite July 7, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Simple courtesy goes a long way toward greater understanding and safety for all road users. Thanks, Jonathan for making the effort by engaging this motorist and for encouraging others.

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  • bahueh July 7, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    #10…”possible”, “practical”..whatever. none of the law you posted changes anything I said…speaking of reading comprehension skills.

    anti-bike agenda? what are you talking about? I’ve been riding well over 15 years, commuting daily, and racing as a Cat. 3 on the road for the past 6. I’m more “anti-stupidity on a bike” focused..maybe you fall into that crowd, I don’t know.

    good on ya for trying to make up facts though…well done.

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  • bahueh July 7, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    just to be clear (I have time on my hands) seems like JM was in a situation were perceptions simply differ…he felt he was obeying the law to best of his ability while trying to keep safe….the driver felt he was trying to keep JM safe but felt JM could have been acting/riding differently. I agree the law isn’t always clear in certain matters as to what “practical” is…and I’m even more certain the vast majority of drivers don’t even know what the law is in these matters.
    glad it worked out for the best and that some meaningful dialogue was exchanged…even if it degraded into race based profiling and stereotyping (teh guy didn’t even know JM lived in the area..he just assumed) aside from the traffic interaction at hand.

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  • Linda July 7, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Has anyone seen this? Interested to hear what people think. Found it on Oregonlive.


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    • KYouell July 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      I loved that. Now I have something to point to as a justification for what feels right; I’m willing to pull over (and pause) to let cars pass unless an intersection is coming up. I won’t give up the lane then.

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  • spencer July 7, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    as a “bike jerk” on the super tight lane on interstate i can only say that you don’t need a bell to know what is behind you. check your blindspots, behind you, and cross street traffic as much as possible. you dont honk at cars before you pass them do you????? its polite to ring a bell, but a bell is not an accessory needed on most race bikes. i try to say on the left but most of the i’m traveling so much faster than the rider that they dont here it, or they are startled because already there next to them by the time the statement registers.

    you can ride over every grate on interstate, in fact, its far safer than getting sideswiped by the evening rush hour commute.

    i’m a racer, commuter, and car driver so lets not polarize the issue any more, just be aware of your surroundings during every trip out on the mean streets of PDX.

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  • david....no! the other one July 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    How about,”Learning from a, Probable Road-Rage Interaction”

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  • Kelly July 7, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Thanks for bringing up the race point Jeff made because it is absolutely valid (esp. with Portland’s whiteness/gentrification issues which are more complex than my handful of sentences are going to address). I see the two comments who address Jeff’s/Jonathan’s race points are dismissing them as having any bearing on an interaction (one rather nastily dismissing it) but Jonathan, I would love to see any of your further thoughts on this here at your site!

    This is an encouraging driver/biker interaction to read about and I’m glad things went this way this time.

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  • NE July 7, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    @16 Red Five, neighborhoods change. Pretty sure that area started with “whitey”. And for what it is worth, I got the same line right after I was right-hooked a few months ago, no signal, moments after I was passed. No excuse for not paying attention, no matter the color of your skin.

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  • Jerry_W July 7, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Good for you Jonathan, I’m glad your conversation was civil. I ride with full respect for drivers and myself. I give drivers every bit of road I can safely can. I wave thanks when drivers are courteous, and I’ve had excellent results. This is not a war, it’s community.

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  • TonyT
    TonyT July 7, 2010 at 7:03 pm


    Yes, Esther should be aware of her surroundings, as it appears she is from the story she told, but she shouldn’t have to ride over every storm grate on Interstate to make your life easier.

    Like you, I too find myself passing a lot of riders, and there’s really no reason why you can’t back off a bit and wait for a break in traffic so you give the person you’re passing some mannerly distance.

    Manners people, manners.

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  • KRhea July 7, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    I don’t think the guy meant “you people” in terms of you “white people”. I think he meant “you people” directed at the incredible number of what he see’s as “serious/commuter” cyclists now in that area of town.
    Had he meant something with a racial overtone I would bet the entire exchange would of been a “bit” different.

    We had a “you people” incident a few days ago while riding outside the metro area. When the words “you people” were uttered they came from a middle aged white guy and his wife who are bothered by the ever increasing number of cyclists they encounter on “their” country roads. I was the lone black face in that group and I’m sure they were not referring to me directly but to us as a group.

    Just a thought.

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  • SkidMark July 7, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    I think by “you people” he meant “affluent and feeling entitled” not white.

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  • KRhea July 7, 2010 at 7:40 pm


    Didn’t think of that, but could easily meant that as well.

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  • Marcus Griffith July 7, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Why speculate about what another person meant by a phrase? Ask. Or move on.

    There are numerous motorists who feel “obligated” to point out when a cyclist is in harms way on the road.

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  • trail user July 7, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Headphones allow me to tune out everyone on the road. Goofy big smile, thumbs up, everyone’s happy.

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  • Paul Tay July 7, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Next time, try movin’ toward the left, and allow da cagjaas to pass on da right. Think about where da cagjaaa sittin’. Make it easy for everyone to play safe.

    But, ya did good. Me, I would have just shouted Merry Christmas and left da scene.

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  • pat h July 7, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    What a nice civil discussion both in the original article and in the comments. Seriously.

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  • Jim F July 7, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Speaking of race and traffic, why do black people always walk in the middle of the street even when there is a perfectly good sidewalk? It doesn’t bother me – I just find it interesting.

    Personally, I never ride on a street where doing so will impede traffic. Doesn’t matter to me what the law says. I just find it rude. It bothers me when I am driving a car so I don’t do it to others when I am on the bike. There is always another way. But to each his own.

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  • pat h July 7, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I now retract my previous comment(@ Jim F, #34). I hope he is being sarcastic.

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  • Richard S July 7, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    I had the exact same encounter with the same gentleman on Tuesday. It seems he was taking it upon himself to try to educate us commuters on his view of the rules of the road.

    I imagine, given the results, it must have been pretty frustrating for him.

    My situation was the same an JM’s. I was taking the lane because I thought it unsafe to do otherwise.

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  • Kronda July 7, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    @Spencer (22)

    Your statement is so glaringly inconsiderate, I don’t know where to begin. Your comment reeks of someone who is so privileged, you just expect everyone to move out of your way.

    TonyT made a good start and I would add that whatever mode you’re in, it is the obligation of the overtaking vehicle to pass SAFELY.

    “you dont honk at cars before you pass them do you?????”

    No. But cars also do not share one lane of traffic between them and neither should cyclists.

    “…most of the i’m traveling so much faster than the rider that they dont here it, or they are startled because already there next to them by the time the statement registers.”

    You might be used to passing and being passed in tight quarters from racing, but the bike lane is not a road race. If you’re close enough that the person you are passing is startled, then you are too close. If you move into the adjacent lane like you are supposed to then there’s no need to say ‘on your left’ because you’ll be in your own lane of travel. Problem solved for both parties.

    “i’m a racer, commuter, and car driver”

    Sounds like you could make some improvements on being less in ‘racer’ mode when you’re commuting and giving a little more consideration to others.

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  • pat h July 7, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    @ Kronda (37), Re: #22

    There is a big difference between expecting other cyclists not to suddenly swerve and expecting “everyone to move out of your way.”

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  • trail user July 7, 2010 at 9:53 pm


    “why do black people always walk in the middle of the street even when there is a perfectly good sidewalk?”

    Same reason cyclists ride in the middle of the street — to avoid hazards. Cyclists avoid doors, black people avoid being shot by trigger happy hoodlums/cops/everyone else frightened by blacks walking along poorly lit sidewalks. At least they can see cars rumbling up the road. Where’s ‘middle of the road guy’ to explain all this? Oh and to sell crack.

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  • Seager July 7, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    I had a similar thing happen to me just today, but it didn’t end nearly as well as yours did. 🙁 I did write it up though:


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  • matthew vilhauer July 7, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    spencer-been listening to any of jonathan’s cycling comments on the radio lately? evidently not. in oregon as a cyclist passing other cyclists you are legally required to announce yourself or ring a bell when passing another cyclist. don’t ring angry… and don’t be a dick!

    esther an kronda both have very valid points for us commuters to consider. everyday riding on the streets is not a race and as such simple things like consideration and respect for all road users would go a long way towards keeping everyone safe. you people. us people. every people…

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  • Kronda July 7, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    @pat h (39) Spencer’s response was to give Esther advice about riding over the grates.

    To me that = hug-the-curb-no-matter-what-so-it’s-easier-for-me-to-pass = my-right-of-way-is-more-important-than-yours.

    Which is crap.

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  • Vance Longwell July 7, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    You’re in clear violation of the law Mr. Maus. ‘That’ law says stay right, except if it’s unsafe, to paraphrase. What you, and your ilk, think is that you can just make up any imaginary hazard, and ride down the middle of the road, seriously inconveniencing often dozens of motorists; and yes, me too, ’cause I’m usually trying to pass some fool like this.

    Some one opening a door into your travel lane is a hazard. Riding by empty parked cars isn’t. Just play this little game in front of a judge, I dare you.

    ‘Love talkin’ about your rights, don’t ya’ll? Except, half the time, you’re completely ignorant of what they are, and their scope. Besides, who cares about rights when you’re being a dick? Eff your rights man, you could have simply been, how do you call it, yeah, I think manners is the word: You could have been polite and just slowed down to avoid imaginary car doors, and stayed right. Like you gave a runny s**t about anybody on this Earth, other than your ‘rights’; and which you don’t even have.

    Keep it up. This is bitch number one. Stop-sign-running, dicking up the sidewalk, these pale in comparison to the rage induced by some white, California, transplant, riding down the middle of the damn road on his two-wheeled, 50 lb., tank. The number one, principle, complaint I hear day in, and day out.

    Thanks for makin’ it all work man. Way to be. Of course, you’ll never hear squat about it. Because it will be me that guy’s son pulls a pistol on, or throws a beer at, or hits me on purpose. It will be me because I’m poor and don’t get to choose when I’m out, which is usually all by myself, in the middle of the night. It will be me and not you, because I’m just an ordinary Joe on a bike, without City Hall, and a spendy free lawyer to call upon.

    Just priceless. I’m gonna have to circulate this one.

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  • wsbob July 7, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Esther #7 and those responding to her comments…I’ll recount a recent experience of my own: Last week sometime, early afternoon on Fairmount Boulevard (most of your are probably familiar with the street…circles Council Crest…very popular with cyclists, walker, runners, etc.)

    I’m 400′ feet from cresting the hill on the southwest side of the loop…traffic is very light…not a car or other person in sight…the view ahead and to the rear affords good vision quite some distance down the road in each direction, so I’m taking it easy at about 12-15 mph slightly to the left of the middle of the lane, before beginning the big, fast, descent.

    Before I can really discern what it is….w-h-o-o-o-sh-h-h!!…some dude on a bike rushes past me….on the right. Vision on the road 300′ or more ahead was clear with no cars in sight…this person could have easily swung wide on my left side into the opposing lane. Dude offered absolutely no warning whatsoever that he was approaching.

    Wasn’t a lance wannabe, but appeared to be one of the compulsive fitness, personal best types. Someone that should know better. This wasn’t a real big deal for me. He didn’t pass that close, but I figured, especially if you’re not going to call out, why not swing wide to the left where people would be more likely to expect someone to make a passing maneuver unannounced?

    maus…nice that you kept your cool, and the driver kept his. Of course, if he really had wanted to do you harm, he’d probably just have cut you off, thrown something at you, etc., etc. Hmmm…now I’m wondering how this person responds when people, unlike yourself in this instance, do flip him off or swear at him when he calls out to them. Kind of think he would have handled it the same way as he did you.

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  • John Lascurettes July 7, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    @ Matthew Vilhauer

    spencer-been listening to any of jonathan’s cycling comments on the radio lately? evidently not. in oregon as a cyclist passing other cyclists you are legally required to announce yourself or ring a bell when passing another cyclist.

    No, Jonathan’s radio spot is misstating the law as debated in the comments in his blog post about such. There is no written requirement in the ORS about giving another cyclist an audible when passing – only that a cyclist must give an audible to a pedestrian when passing. There are times when a bicyclist can be considered as acting like a pedestrian (such as when on a sidewalk or a MUP), but when they are in the street or bike lane, they most certainly are not a pedestrian.

    Still, it’s common courtesy to give an audible to a fellow cyclist and I always do, even if I’m not legally obligated to do so.

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  • cip July 7, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Hey, at least you got the nice introduction to N Pdx! Myself (an immigrant from Eastern Europe with a 0.000000000000000001% black population) was stopped at a light on Albina about 9 years ago, and a ’70 souped up blue something stops next to me, the boom-boom music making my kidneys tremble. Me, looking jittery over my shoulder. Green light, they speed off, and the teen African American yells at me: “welcome to No-Po white a**!”
    Regarding biking, I always go on the sidewalk if the street is busy. Nobody walks in America anyway, so if I get a ticket every 4 years or so, it is worth my safety.

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  • eric July 7, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    I got honked at by some old white folks in a PT loser yesterday, because apparently they felt I was in their way. I just waved, because if I went any further over i would have been picking weeds out of my drivetrain. There’s a large population of drives who can’t seem to figure out how to slow down, wait for an opportunity to pass, and then pass safely. I think it’s a driver training thing, in that most drivers in OR have none.

    When I’m passing a slower cyclist in a bike lane, I try to wait for a break in the traffic, signal, and then take the lane for the duration of the pass. I don’t use a bell or my voice, because I’m in a separate lane. Conversely, when I’m riding in the interstate bike lane I usually stay pretty far left in the bike lane unless there’s a semi coming up.

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  • K'Tesh July 8, 2010 at 12:15 am

    “A compassionate attitude opens our inner door, and as a result it is much easier to communicate with others. If there is too much self-centered attitude, then fear, doubt and suspicion come and as a result our inner door closes. Then it is very difficult to communicate with others.” – Dalai Lama

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  • Marcus Griffith July 8, 2010 at 1:01 am

    An interesting video by Savvy Cyclist stating that savvy cyclist don’t bike too far to the right.


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  • Paul Tay July 8, 2010 at 2:48 am

    #40, @Trailuser, nobody sells crack in the middle of the street. But, everybody knows cyclists smoke crack, in the middle of the street. Dat’s why cagjaaa need to leave us alone. We be craaaaaaaaaaaazeeee and smokin’ crack.

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  • The Translator July 8, 2010 at 6:15 am

    Good lord! Now being fit enough to ride the big ring at a decent cadence is an affront to commuters.

    Did you ever stop to think that some people that ride bikes are actually fit? I will be courteous but if I can climb a moderate grade at close to 20 mph or travel along Barbur at 30 mph then I will. My commute is also my workout. I’ll stay off the MUPs and bridges, give you a warning, and pass with appropriate distance but I’m not going compromise my ride goals for the day.

    Is cycling in Portland going to become like elementary school P.E.? Don’t show any athleticism because it will make the slower kids feel bad about themselves! This is why I am so against things like the master plan as it aims to make cycling easier for the fearful lowest common denominator. Build a “utopia” for the 8-10 MPH set at the expense of those that can actually ride.

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  • twalkwalk July 8, 2010 at 7:01 am

    As a Portland rider myself (who also chooses to take the lane rather than have a door opened on me or someone back into me coming out of their driveway), not a day goes by that I ride home without the feeling that someone has tried to kill me – whether on purpose or negligent driving. But I remeber the days as a driver that I would pass a cyclist thinking “there is all that room in the emergency lane” or “why won’t they ride in the empty parking spaces so I can get by”. But now that I ride, understand the rules of a rider are almost identical as the rules of the driver, and realize the extra dangers like debris in the emergency lane, opening doors and driveways; I’m left wondering how to fill the knowledge and understanding gap between rider and driver. Great article.

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  • spencer July 8, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Kronda & Ester-

    My response was not meant to direct you to ride in the gutter. there are many roads and streets that are safer in the gutter than on the white line. I never said that I dont yield or force people to the gutter so that I can live out a racer fantasy while riding in traffic. I just suggested that there is more room on the road to use.
    If we want this to be the bike land that JM is promoting, and that I want, we need to reduce our bubbles and get used to riding VERY closely with everyone, bikes and cars alike.
    Some people get 10 feet of space and get spooked, some get 3 ft and are fine with it. there is no way to know who you’re passing and we cant please everyone.
    I never suggested being rude or riding aggressively in narrow situations. I for one dont pass on the hawthorne bridge or on many sections of the esplanade. hows that for rude?

    Kronda- cars do often share one lane of traffic? and they pass slower vehicles when safe.

    There is a huge difference between passing safely on the left and someone spooking and falling down.
    ride safe

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  • firekayak July 8, 2010 at 7:41 am

    If this was a one lane road, then you shouldn’t be riding past people stopped at a red light. You should stay in a spot in traffic until it starts moving then get as far right as possible. I would have to agree with the driver on this one. And as for the race thing. Why do people assume “you people/guys” means race. I wasn’t there but I willing to bet that he was talking about commuters (rather than people that just ride around the neighborhood to get from one friends to another. Really, get over yourself.

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  • are July 8, 2010 at 7:53 am

    814.430(2), quote: or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side, end quote. got nothing to do with peering into parked cars. just sayin.

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  • Jack July 8, 2010 at 7:59 am

    I’m becoming more and more a fan of taking the lane whenever things get a little tight or sketchy. Regardless of whatever the law may be, my safety — and the safety of those riding with/around me — is going to take priority over anyone’s need to get to their destination a few seconds sooner.

    There are very few situations/streets where taking the lane can significantly impede the flow of motor vehicle traffic. What really seems to bother a lot of drivers is that a cyclist impedes their ability to be as close as possible to the next motor vehicle in front of them.

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  • are July 8, 2010 at 8:02 am

    comment 35 raises an interesting point, which did briefly occur to me as i was first reading this story. in setting this up, jonathan, i think it would be helpful to explain why you thought it was okay to pass on the right and then get in front of people who had been waiting for the light. sometimes the answer would be roughly along the lines of, we were all being held up by someone waiting to make a left, and/or otherwise i would have missed the light, and/or why should i have to sit back here and suck these exhaust fumes. i for one would accept the first and possibly the second answer. but consistent “taking the lane” practice would put you in line behind others waiting for the light, not sneaking up on the right.

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  • are July 8, 2010 at 8:13 am

    re comment 41, i agree it is difficult to have a successful conversation in these situations, especially with the adrenalin pumping. i sometimes hand the motorist a copy of the attached:
    but usually we just get into screaming at one another or at best talking past one another.

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  • SJ July 8, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Mixed thoughts on this one.

    I myself ride as far to the right as I can, and I slow down to see if people are in cars to avoid being doored.

    So, we (bikers) can either push our rights and our luck, or we can follow the spirit of the law and not take the lane each and every time we feel we need to prove something. Waving and yelling to show that you’re not intimidated sounds more like escalating a situation. How about riding and not really acknowledging the driver?

    I don’t know. Seems to me, and this is just my opinion, that J. Maus should have far fewer encounters with drivers than he does. I haven’t pulled over to talk with or argue with a driver for years (probably 5 years), and I ride every day. Sure, there will be irate drivers, but I always know (or at least think) that I am doing the legally correct thing. I don’t feel that I need to educate drivers on the road.

    Just a thought.

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  • Brian E July 8, 2010 at 8:46 am

    “Road confrontation” might be better phrase than “road rage”.

    I had a similar experience a very long time ago. Long story, but after thinking about it for 20 years I have determined that the person who accosted me was actually thinking of my best interest. Even if he was crazy and off his med’s.

    I think there is rage involved. In these situations the confrontation can go either way, bad or worse. It certainly can’t go good. My confrontation from 20 years ago was bad in the sense that I have bad memories of it and of what may have happened if I didn’t diffuse it as well as I did.

    I think the act of stopping the car and getting out should be considered an act of aggression. Handle it with care. Stop riding and create space by not approaching the person. Take a different route and avoid them if necessary.

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  • Spiffy July 8, 2010 at 8:50 am

    it’s great that you had a civil conversation with somebody that was confused about your right to ride in the lane… most motorists don’t want to hear it…

    but I agree that you shouldn’t be passing cars stopped a red light on a 1-lane road… as far as I know passing on the right is illegal for all vehicles… if they were backed up because somebody was waiting to turn left at a green then that would be ok…

    so you were doing something wrong, but it wasn’t what the motorist thought it was…

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 8, 2010 at 9:03 am


      i did not do anything illegal at that light. sorry if it wasn’t clear. cars were backed up at Vancouver on Skidmore. I (legally) passed them on the right and waited at the light as well. when the light turned green, I got a jump on the car traffic and was later passed by Mr. Jeff. hope that clarifies. thanks.

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  • Gene Roban July 8, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I think that what bike riders and car drivers need most is for everyone to know what the law is.

    Our cities might try a campaign or road signs or T-shirts that explain the law in a way that we can all understand.

    I suggest a phrase that might be used to advantage:

    “A bike in the street is just a SLOW CAR – be patient.”

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  • JAT in Seattle July 8, 2010 at 9:49 am

    I’m with Spiffy on this one; (and what a fantastically diverse discussion!) it may be legal (at least in some jurisdictions) to pass on the right those cars that are waiting at a red light (“filtering”), I think it’s pretty bad road citizenship if your intention is to proceed straight ahead, getting the jump on the cars and then taking the lane as safety requires.

    You are in effect putting motorists in the position of having to pass you twice.

    That’s not a sin, obviously, but it’s kind of inconsiderate and it certainly could contribute to the negative perceptions some road users have of cyclists on the roads.

    I’ll happily pull up behind a car at a light and take the lane when the light turns green “delaying” motorists who pull up behind me until I feel it’s safe for me to get as far right as “practicable”. After all if the vehicle they’d arrived behind was a Semi or a school bus or a Ford F-350 with a gun rack, they wouldn’t think of honking or trying to get around them unsafely.

    I know this is a philosophical question and part of the appeal of a bike as transportation is that it’s nimble footprint gives it some advantages, but legality aside, and in my humble opinion filterng forward at lights and then being miffed if other road users have different ideas about how you should drive your bike is dubious at best.

    I’m glad the interaction with Jeff went as well as it did, though.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 8, 2010 at 9:59 am

    JAT in Seattle,

    It’s worth noting that I often do as you describe — wait in line behind cars at red lights. I use my discretion when deciding to pass on the right and in this case felt it was a good decision. Either way, cars would have had to pass me eventually.

    I take road citizenship very seriously and always aspire to be the best road citizen i can be. thanks.

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  • Babygorilla July 8, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Wait, so you pass on the right under the law that allows you to pass on the right when existing conditions make is safe to do so, but then want to ride in the middle of the lane because its too unsafe to ride close to the right? That seems contradictory if there were parked cars to your right as you were passing cars on the right.

    Seems to me that if your passing cars lined up at an intersection on the right, your attention is going to be on those cars to make sure one doesn’t turn right in front of you, not to the cars parked on the right hand side

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  • beth h July 8, 2010 at 10:39 am

    I almost got plowed last night while riding loaded cargo bike on NE Jarrett near Garfield, when a fellow in a sedan approached an intersetion too fast and attempted a “California Stop.” He wasn’t looking forward at all. I shouted and rang my bell loudly so he would look forward, see me and stop, which he did just in the nick of time. He lurched to a sudden stop with about a third of his car poking out into the intersection. I had to swerve wildly to avoid being hit, no easy feat on a loaded cargo bike.

    I proceeded on. He turned the corner sharply and quickly and pulled up alongside me. He said, “maybe you should go slower on these little neighborhood streets, you know? Especially when you’re going through all these little intersections.”

    I was staggered. *I* should go slower (than my already slow 9 mph) so that he has more room to run stop signs?

    And — sorry, but I have to be honest — here’s where the race and gender thing came in. Big black man behind the wheel of a big car, versus white woman on a bicyclem and he has already taken his version of the upper hand. Both race AND gender were issues here; and I decided that the path of least resistance was the best approach. I nodded, forced a smile and rode on. He pulled into a driveway behind me, turned around and sped away in his original intended direction — running the stop sign AGAIN.

    If I had attempted to talk with this driver in hopes of educating him I would have gotten nowhere and might have put myself at risk. Further, I admit that I resent the notion that, in addition to self-defense skills, we must all now arm ourselves with the negotiation skills of a professional mediator or psychologist just to survive getting home on our bicycles.

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  • jim July 8, 2010 at 11:29 am

    You should stay in the bike lane and not make problems. You are giving bikes a bad name, and causing people to become angry, not good

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  • SkidMark July 8, 2010 at 11:38 am

    I am so tired of Oregonians whining about Californians. I lived in San Diego for 13 years and I am originally from Massachusetts. Both places have TONS of people living there that moved from somewhere else, and it is rarely complained about. It is an accepted fact of life, people are born somewhere, and then they move somewhere else.

    People have moved up here from California because it has gotten too expensive to live there, but they still prefer the west coast lifestyle and attitude. There are Californians in Seattle but when I go up there I don’t hear the locals whining about it.

    And what are you whining about? The increased property values from people moving here from elsewhere and fixing up old houses? Is it the new independently owned businesses instead of corporate chains that you don’t like? Is it the increased income for local businesses owned by native Oregonians?

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  • Duffy July 8, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Let’s all know the law and follow it consistently.

    If we don’t like the law, then we can lobby for change,but until then we follow it and mind our manners. Civilization.

    Everything else we say is non-productive and fatuous.

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  • Bob_M July 8, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Skidmark #70
    Yup, Portland could do worse than receiving Californians. We could be getting Texans

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  • mabsf July 8, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Jim, with all due respect, but that’s not really a solution (I erased an stronger parable as not to fan the flames!).

    I think Beth and Jonathan are on the right way: try to stay calm, educate car driver (yeah, I know it’s tiring, Beth!) and make sure they know that we have as much the right to the street as they do.

    We are up against 80 years of methodical brain washing from a big industry/lobbying group and absolutely lousy driver’s ed. So yeah, it’s going to take some time…

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  • alice's adventures July 8, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Oh there are plenty of Texans up here, ya’ll.

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  • Jerry_W July 8, 2010 at 11:58 am

    It’s universal, Don’t Californicate __________ (insert any western state here). I’m from Colorado (live here now, doesn’t seem to be a problem)and Coloradans didn’t like people from CA, Texas, Illinois, but people from Minnesota were OK. I’ve learned to just brush that whole thing off, as you point out Skidmark, it makes no sense anyway. You are free to move about the country.

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  • SkidMark July 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Jerks come from everywhere, there are plenty of native jerks.

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  • are July 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    re jim 69, motorists already have a bad name with me, but they don’t seem to be worried about making me angry.

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  • jim July 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    if there is a bike lane you need to use it and not make hazards for motorists.

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  • spare_wheel July 8, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    “if there is a bike lane you need to use it and not make hazards for motorists.”

    its motorists that are hazards for bikers!

    *if i need to exit the bike lane because its unsafe, i will do so.

    *if i need to exit the bike lane to pass, i will do so.

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  • Spiffy July 8, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    so being a total n00b I’m confused on this legal ability to pass on the right… can somebody point me to the ORS that says it’s ok for bikes to pass cars on the right? this is the first time I’ve heard that it’s legal…

    and even if it is legal I’m still going to avoid doing it… as “JAT in Seattle” says you’re making the cars pass you twice and that’s a possible second time that you annoy them by being in the way… and as “Babygorilla” said it’s contradictory to your riding style of staying in the middle of the lane to be safe… you’re basically being that person that goes in the right lane knowing it’s going to end just so they can get ahead of the few cars already waiting… nobody likes that person…

    I’ll allow that it’s ok if somebody shows me where it’s at in the law, but it’s never going to be ok socially to me… I used to do it and it just causes too many issues…

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  • Esther July 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Please don’t feed the trolls

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  • bahueh July 8, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    spiff..you cannot pass people on the right if a lane doesn’t exist there. just like driving…I’m not sure why so many have a hard time understanding how paint lines on the road work. if you’re in a bike lane, you can pass cars on the right if they’re in a lane of traffic as well……no problem. do so carefully however, watch for signals, turning of wheels, etc. as not everyone will yield. bike lanes are a lane of traffic and should be treated like any other.

    I have a hard time understanding why so many riders in this town are in such a freakin hurry…running light and stop signs…passing unsafely on the right through parking zones, bus lanes, etc when they’re slowed for a couple seconds….

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  • daniel miles July 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Wow. Johnathan, I really appreciate these articles you write about road confrontations. I try to do better with them than I actually do and I find it comforting to (1) know that other people have that struggle too and, (2) that you’ve had a success like this. Jeff sounds like a nice man.

    I’ve noticed a lot of confusion in the biking/driving public and in the comments to this thread about what traffic law actually is on bikes in the lane. I, of course, have my favorite interpretation but I have to admit the text of the law leaves a lot up to interpretation and I’m not aware of court precedent on how to interpret it.

    Does anybody here have ideas on how to get more authoritative interpretations or, perhaps even more importantly, how to educate the driving/biking populace? It seems to me like the mismatched expectations is the #1 danger to cyclists but I don’t know how to address it.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 8, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    bahueh wrote:

    you cannot pass people on the right if a lane doesn’t exist there. just like driving.

    In 2005, ORS 811.415 was amended to read:

    (c) Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions.

    The big issue with all this confusion is that, like I’ve said millions of times to anyone that will listen, is that our code of laws was written exclusively for motor vehicles. Without hours of toil and resources spent from non-profit advocates trying to change the world, we wouldn’t even have the small pieces of bike-centric legislation we have now.

    What we need to do is a more complete revision of the vehicle code. Stop calling it the “motor” vehicle code and start with a clean slate instead of chipping away at the iceberg of laws for cars in order to get a few pieces for bikes.

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  • jeff July 8, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    JM, once again the voice of reason.

    I also cannot understand why so many riders are in such a hurry, but there are plenty of safe and reasonable times to pass a line of cars on the right even if there aren’t “paint lines” as bahueh says 🙂 This may be for reasons of expediency, or more often in the cases I do it, for safety…

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  • WOBG July 8, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Sorry Jonathan, I’m with #65: Regardless of legality, it’s kinda jerky to pass cars on the right of a single lane, then get in front of them and go slow.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 8, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    WOBG and others,

    I understand where you are coming from, but you were not there. I didn’t pass them and “get in front and go slow”.

    I safely and legally and not jerkily went by a line of stopped cars at a red light and then I proceeded to accelerate through the intersection. Several of the cars were able to go around me without incident, but Mr. Jeff felt like I wasn’t far enough to the right and he was scared and angry because he almost hit me (according to him).

    I hope that clarifies things.

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  • John Lascurettes July 8, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Coming up to a line of cars at a light, it is safer to be next to the cars at the limit line than sandwiched between two cars bumper to tire to tire to bumper. If the driver behind the bike slips his foot off the brake, if he’s hit from behind, or any number of things beyond the cyclist’s control, the cyclist becomes the bloody meat in a steel sandwich.

    Standing in a line cars is a much more vulnerable environment than riding in a line of cars. A bike is much more nimble and reactive when in motion.

    Up at the limit line, the cyclist is more visible to all the cars (including left-turning vehicles on the other side of intersection) and out of the way of the cars that queue and jimmy and nudge.

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  • bahueh July 8, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Maus..when is it ever safe to pass a car on the right without a bike lane/within a car lane? I have yet to come upon that situation unless the car has come to a complete stop and motions me to pass them with oncoming traffic in the opposing lane. squeezing through a 2-3 foot space is hardly what I view as safe, at most any speed. I guess how I interpret that law is different than you…

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 8, 2010 at 2:22 pm


      how about when there’s several feet of space in a shoulder next to the cars or a parking lane that is unoccupied. And what is “safe” varies widely from person to person. I take what the law says, mash it together with my feelings for safety and consideration for others, and come out with my decision. Do i always make the right decision? No. Am I open to changing how I ride based on experiences and what I learn from others like yourself? yes! thanks for your comments.

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  • jeff July 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    My mother taught me to apologize when I was wrong, never to spout off when I don’t know what I’m talking about, and not to make up things that are likely not true (who said 2-3 foot space?). I guess not everyone was raised that way.

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  • bahueh July 8, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    jeff…please…we’re trying to have a “big boy” conversation here…

    in most car lanes around town…occupied by a car, leaves maybe 2-3 feet of space in the lane left for a bike.

    I interpret the law different than Maus and act/ride in a slightly different way…how does that make me “wrong” or “spouting off”? please enlighten me with more insults….if that’s all you have.

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  • A.K. July 8, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    John Lascurettes:

    I was having this very discussion with my girlfriend last night, who isn’t a cyclist.

    Whenever I act like “a car” and stop and wait for a light to change in the lane, I am afraid of being the victim of an accident where either a vehicle directly hits me, or the vehicle behind me is rear-ended and then pushed into me.

    There was someone a few years back who lost both their legs because they were standing between to parked cars on a street, when someone ran into the back of the car and pushed them together… ugh. http://www.katu.com/news/10851646.html

    But then, riding off to the side has its own set of problems (being perceived as a jerky cyclist, being right-hooked, etc).

    Me? I do what I think keeps me the most safe, not necessarily what a driver in the car thinks is best for me. Though I try to ride in a manner that is predictable (I don’t ride in-and-out of empty parking spaces, don’t run red lights, etc).

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  • bahueh July 8, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    JM…don’t get me wrong, I’m all for this dialogue and don’t mean to question your actions in this circumstance whatsoever. I simply ride on the side of caution regularly and cringe when I see riders on nearly a daily basis, doing stuff to put themselves in danger (using the median as a left handed bike lane on 39th and Lincoln is my fav…can’t wait to see another left hook there…the first I witnessed last year the rider didn’t fare so well).

    Passing a car in moving traffic on the right without a bike lane? I don’t see it happening all that often anyway…most can’t ride that fast. When traffic is stopped, depends on the situation…sometimes it would seem inconsiderate and reflective of impatience…other times it wouldn’t be an issue if the spacing exists for all road users.

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  • Spiffy July 8, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    THANKS JONATHAN for clearing up that passing law… this is exactly why I love this site… it gives me all the knowledge I need to make good decisions and stand up for my actions… please continue telling me how I’m wrong when I call you on it… (:

    and thanks again for showing us that we can have a civil conversation with a motorist that’s dissatisfied with people on bikes…

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  • jeff July 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    “you cannot pass people on the right if a lane doesn’t exist there. just like driving…”

    then you were corrected, by a citation of ORS. see? anyways, i’m done here, i shouldn’t allow your comments to bug me so much. other than your posts and a few others (well, and my distracting replies to you) this has been a great discussion.

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  • trail user July 8, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    In today’s Oregonian: http://www.oregonlive.com/gresham/index.ssf/2010/07/portland_jury_decides_whos_at.html
    even more confusion!

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  • Babygorilla July 8, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    So, I’m still not sure whether there were cars parked to the right in the parking strip when you passed the cars that were stopped behind the left turn vehicle.

    If so, how could you pay attention to those cars in the parking lane to make sure there was no potential door hazard and at the same time pay attention to the line of cars to make sure no-one was turning right? Why could you not do the same once you got by the stopped cars?

    I ask because when we take a lane and are well under the speed limit, we inconvenience our fellow citizens. Yes, we can legally do so if we feel endangered by the potential hazard of a dooring, but is that really much of a hazard if you keep a lookout? Enough of one to justify taking a lane and holding up traffic (not just car traffic, bike traffic)? Especially on residential streets, where ingress / egress from parked vehicles is not as frequent as the downtown core or other commercial districts.

    I think the reaction that Jeff had was probably triggered when he saw you squeeze by him and his fellow vehicles stopped at the light and then assert the whole lane to yourself. A rejection to entitlement (not saying you are entitled, but from his point of view this is what he may be thinking).

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  • tony July 8, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    “can’t wait to see another left hook there.”

    bahueh maybe it’s time for you to just go away.

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  • rigormrtis July 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    It’s amazing how a discussion changes when you offer your name and extend your hand.

    It’s a lesson for for bikers and drivers.

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  • PoPo July 8, 2010 at 3:52 pm


    Great job communicating in a stressful situation. And thank you for sharing this experience.

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  • Elliot July 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks for hosting this discussion Jonathan.

    I, and I assume most other Portland cyclists, have had a version of this interaction after a close call caused by bad passing:

    Cyclist: “Hey, you almost hit me!”
    Motorist: “You were in the middle of the road! I almost hit you! You almost made me crash!”

    Where you go from there can vary, from middle fingers and expletives to the rare level-headed conversation as in Jonathan’s case with Jeff on Skidmore. The thing that always astounds me is that the driver always knows they almost hit you! They even say so, and they did it anyway! That’s what is so upsetting and disturbing.

    The burden is always on the passing vehicle to make sure they’re doing so safely, and no one seems to remember that. I guess that’s what you get when people only ever read the Driver’s Manual once, when they turn 16. We need more stringent testing and continuing education for drivers because it’s clear most people don’t understand the laws, especially as it pertains to driving safely with cyclists on the road.

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  • bahueh July 8, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    tony…it was sarcasm.

    jeff…you miss the point repeatedly. laws have different interpretations…Maus and I are having a civil discourse and seem to be on the same page with that conclusion, you’re the one who seems “distracted” …your posts bug me as well, but I don’t get personal about it.

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  • Shetha July 8, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Reminds me of when I had an “interaction” with a guy in a car on Burnside, where the bike lane “disappears” at the intersection and I took the lane so I could continue straight. The guy chewed me out for taking the lane. I told him I was allowed to by the law, and where else was I supposed to go? His response? “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. That seems to be a common sentiment, from my experience. That, and it’s not a speed limit. It’s the “target speed”, generally more a minimum than a maximum.

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  • trail user July 8, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    I never seem to have problems when riding fast, only when slow. Maybe people should learn to ride faster. I ride a small folding bike with 20 inch wheels that accelerates quickly. I think moving fast in a straight line makes me predictable to auto traffic and gets me out of the way. How can drivers be patient if it appears cyclists are taking their sweet time hogging the road? I never see farmers and their big tractors out on country roads taking their time — they’re trying to get things done.

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  • jeff July 8, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    bahueh – “you cannot pass…” is not an interpretation, it is a statement. you miss the point, again, and there is little civil about your posts, no matter how much patience JM has with you. i’m not the only one who feels that way, mr “team oregon”

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  • bahueh July 8, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    jeff…you seem to be coming up with your own conclusions so feel free to stop replying to anything I write…

    you’ve got the wrong guy btw, I don’t ride for “team oregon”…although I know a few guys there, all very nice.

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  • Arlene July 9, 2010 at 3:27 am

    Have come close to a few car doors myself and tooting motorists when riding as far over to the side as poss.

    I reckon some vehicle owners need to get on a bike to experience what its like!

    In a city nearby me, there were many bus/cyclist accidents so they got the bus drivers to ride bikes around the city for the day!

    Thanks for your post on this.

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  • Jerry July 9, 2010 at 7:41 am
  • Vance Longwell July 9, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Mega-priceless now. Please. By all means. Simply continue to ignore 8414.430’s reference to 811.425 and also it’s defined terms under General Provisions; that outline ‘reasonable’ within the context of ‘reasonable’ safety hazard.

    Maus, you were impeding traffic illegally, and you were doing so by exploiting, and abusing, a law meant to protect other people. As if you care one whit about other people.

    Plus too, everyone of you bike-lanes-are-good people have no problem being forced by law to operate your bicycle right next to parked cars to support your asinine bike-lanes, oh yeah. But, the general public would ask you to stay right out of common decency, and the general will of the mob is, “Go get effed.”?!! Awesome. I love that I now bear the responsibility of this super-special way to be simply via the act of mounting my bicycle. Uh, thank you, I guess??

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  • Vance Longwell July 9, 2010 at 9:39 am

    “And what is “safe” varies widely from person to person.”



    It appears as though Mirian/Webster would argue that, in fact, the word safe has a completely static, un-changing, definition no matter who uses the word. That’s just weird. That words mean things, and that who says them doesn’t really change their meaning.

    Too weird.

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  • El Biciclero July 9, 2010 at 9:45 am

    John Lascurettes– I often find myself feeling uneasy when stopped in a line of cars for precisely the reason you mentioned. My problem is that there are places on my commute where I end up stopped in the middle lane of a 3-lane one-way, or in the rightmost of two left turn lanes, etc. Also, when I know I am going to need to take the lane, I tend to move over when it is clear, not when it is absolutely necessary. That means I might end up stopped in the lane, but if I move to the side, I’ll never be able to reclaim my “place in line” when I need it. This is a sticky wicket for sure.

    More to the discussion at hand, I often mention that drivers will tolerate all kinds of other impediments to their progress: Left-turning vehicles waiting for a break in oncoming traffic, buses making stops, double-parked cabs in front of hotels, pedestrians crossing where the driver wants to turn right, road construction, red lights, delivery vehicles blocking part or all of a lane, THE CLOSING OF AN ENTIRE BRIDGE, etc., but damnation unto the cyclist that dares impede–for even a few seconds–his/her Royal Highness, The Driver.

    Of course, not all drivers are like this, but there seems to be such irrationality surrounding the perception of being “held up” by a cyclist. Why is it OK to be slowed down by other things, but not by a cyclist riding LEGALLY down the road? Sure, there might be times when cyclists could make some concessions in compromising their strict legal rights to facilitate efficient flow of traffic, but we shouldn’t be expected to always kow-tow to the whims of misinformed, irrational drivers (this is not a slight against Jeff, the driver JM spoke with–he actually seems pretty reasonable).

    I had an epiphany the other day when I realized that most people would seem to prefer stopping for a full minute than driving slowly (< 18 mph) for 15 seconds. Is there any way to design specific "problem" areas of mixed bike/car traffic flow to take advantage of that?

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  • Mindy July 9, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    There’s an intersection in Tucson where the bike lane goes straight but if a motorist is moving to the suddenly appearing right turn lane, he must cross the bike lane. There are “Yield to bikes” signs but we all know how carefully those are heeded. A guy nearly ran me over once and I screamed at him. When he stopped at the light, he leaned out his open window and looked back at me. I was so mad, I was thinking, “Fine, bring it on!” but as I approached, he said, “Ma’am, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!” Not even a lame, “I didn’t even see you,” but sincere regret for being in the wrong. Sometimes it happens. 🙂

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  • are July 9, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    814.425 does not apply if there is not a safe turnout.

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  • aaronf July 10, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    I used to work with a cranky old guy who described driving up hawthorne and repeatedly overtaking a cyclist only to be passed again at the each red light.

    It’s stressful for the driver, rude, and poor ambassadorship in my opinion… but I see it all the time.

    Thanks for representing in the hood, Jmaus.

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  • Kate July 11, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    “there seems to be such irrationality surrounding the perception of being ‘held up’ by a cyclist. Why is it OK to be slowed down by other things, but not by a cyclist riding LEGALLY down the road?”

    “I used to work with a cranky old guy who described driving up hawthorne and repeatedly overtaking a cyclist only to be passed again at the each red light.”

    Great comments. All day long it’s motorists passing cyclists too closely, only to brake at the next red light. The cyclist catches up and both proceed on when the light changes. This process repeats itself block after block until there’s actually a reasonable place to pass and the driver continues on his/her way. The obvious conclusion here is that traveling safely behind the cyclist will get you where you’re going at the exact same time. It seems like motorists just don’t see this pattern. Simply follow the bike until you get to a logical and safe place to pass, then you can speed up again, all without having lost even a second.

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  • Velophile in Exile July 12, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Bahueh, if you’re “anti-stupidity on a bike” then please get off yours. It doesn’t matter how much you ride or what your race “cat” is because you very obviously have no idea how the Oregon Vehicle Code applies to use of a bicycle.

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  • Vance Longwell July 18, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Wrong statute Willis, pay attention. Oh, and you’re still wrong. Go figure.

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  • are July 19, 2010 at 8:35 am

    not that i am acknowledging your existence, fella. 811.425, okay? one digit mis-typed. the point is you are giving out misinformation. read the f*cking statute. what does it say? “fails to move into an area sufficient for safe turnout.” area sufficient for safe turnout does not exist, not required to yield to overtaking vehicle until it does. i am not talking about jumping the line and creating a situation, see my comment at 58. i am talking about asserting your space in traffic more generally. you want to interpret these laws to your own disadvantage, you go ahead.

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  • Doug Smart July 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I have only skimmed the comments so far.
    My most recent exchange was last week. I rolled up in to red light alongside a line of cars. The second or third car stopped in the line was occupying about half the bike lane. My thinking was there wasn’t room for the driver to pass the cars ahead on the right hand side or to move over far enough for anyone to pass them in the lane. I opted to roll past in the available space and as I reached the rear bumper I saw the passenger side window was down. I called out, “Please don’t drive in the bike lane,” in what I hoped wasn’t an angry tone. Then I rolled on, stopped for the light, and did a RTOR. A few seconds later the car passed and I made out the word “ambulance” called out – also not angry. The driver had pulled over moments before for a passing ambulance and hadn’t had room to clear the bike lane before reaching the intersection. I gave a thumbs up that I hope she saw in her mirror. A fractured dialog but I think we managed to communicate with respect. Sometimes it works.
    In a similar encounter a couple of years ago I opened with anger. Not such good results. Conversations work better than arguments.

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  • Justin July 9, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Wow! Great discussion regarding “filtering.” I’d love to see more about the topic. I mostly wait behind cars when downtown traffic backs up for several lights, even as other bikes pass on the right. I’d like to be among them but I feel kind of jerky, especially as the slow right turners and left turners vie to enter the congested intersection.
    Seeing the ORS is enlightening but I’m not sure how I’ll react to learning this.

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