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Audio: TriMet bus driver complains to dispatch about unruly bike riders

Posted by on November 15th, 2010 at 9:37 am

Listen to the audio below. It’s from a communique between a TriMet bus operator and the emergency dispatcher. It was posted to YouTube via TriMet’s infamous multimedia expert/employee Al Marguiles:

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  • Caroline November 15, 2010 at 9:49 am

    OK, in this “incident” with Richard… The cyclists do sound like they’re monkeying around and unless they’re going to signal a left turn, there is NO reason for them to be two abreast on NE 82nd in front of a bus trying to get by. In fact, I also declare them idiots: idiots with death-wishes. That is a tremendously dangerous street with a lot of drunk and high people driving it (haha I said it), fast traffic, and determined traffic. There IS a bike lane out there, and there IS a bus that a lot of (underprivileged) people ride hoping to get important places on time. To then flip off Richard, and all the people on that bus, just makes Richard’s frustration and phone call seem justified/normal/not news. He seemed level-headed, calm, and used fair language describing the situation. I hope people don’t start comparing him to other bus drivers who have gotten a bit more militant.

    Is that where this thread is headed?

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  • OuterToob November 15, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Still trying to figure out why anyone would call Emergency Dispatch for a non emergency…shouldn’t this have been a general call to the police not an Emergency call?

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  • Susan Tomlinson November 15, 2010 at 10:02 am

    I’m an avid cyclist, a bicycle advocate in my own hometown (not Portland), and a bicycle commuter, and I am squarely on RIchard’s side on this one.

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  • RyNO Dan November 15, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    There’s no such thing as a friendly honk. The finger is just a cyclist’s only method to “honk back”.

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    • Irving Washington November 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm

      I disagree, but then it’s in the eye of the beholder. If you think everyone’s unfriendly, that’s what you’ll see. I think a short honk can mean “careful, I’m right here”. To respond with a finger is pretty bad manners, and just pisses people off towards cyclists. Just wave and smile and don’t make it any worse.

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      • q`Tzal November 22, 2010 at 8:40 am

        No, really. There is no such thing as a polite honk of an auto horn at a cycist using the public roadway.
        Perhaps if you could read the mind of that driver behind you that you aren’t looking at but if we could read minds there would be no need for honking horns.
        I suppose if you live in rainbow and unicorn land loud auto horns can be polite but to me there is no distinction between an angry driver tooting there horn at my legal vehicular cycling and then, 15 seconds later, tooting his horn in the same way to signal to his buddies coming out of a store.
        Auto horns do not have a tone of voice but drivers do have sudden flashes of rage I’d rather they honk than actually attempt to kill me.

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    • middle of the road guy December 27, 2010 at 9:08 am

      Really? You know exactly what someone’s intent is when they honk? If I honk at a friend I see on the sidewalk or in another car it’s not friendly? You should use such cognitive superpowers for world good, instead of commenting on an internet site.

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  • Colin M November 15, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    @Caroline: Just to clarify, the audio says “Wilson High School”. At this location, buses serve Capitol Hwy, which does have bike lanes (82nd Ave does not).

    Colin Maher

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  • spare_wheel November 15, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    “and I am squarely on RIchard’s side on this one”

    imo, he should be cited for calling the emergency line for a non emergency. i am flabbergasted that anyone would find this defensible regardless of what you think about cycling. do you want a busy signal during a real emergency?

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    • middle of the road guy December 27, 2010 at 9:08 am

      Attack the messenger, ignore the problem. Typical portland.

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      • spare_wheel December 27, 2010 at 1:34 pm

        the meaning of “emergency dispatcher” was not clear. since it was apparently a trimet line i retract my comment.

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  • Bjorn November 15, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Looking at google streetsview capitol highway seems to have 4 lanes. I am at a loss as to where this guy actually was, unless maybe he was making it up…

    I also squarely agree that getting up real close behind a bicyclist and honking isn’t friendly especially in a vehicle that large.

    911 has a non emergency line, but I think the bus drivers have a button they can push, I saw one use it when we had a crazy drunk guy on the bus to call the cops to come get him off. The driver probably just pushed the button.

    If Al really wants to do a service with posting this he’d put the info up about where the driver was, unless maybe he realizes that contradicts what the driver was saying because there are 4 lanes…

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    • Seth Alford December 27, 2010 at 1:03 am

      It depends on whether it’s Capitol east or west of Wilson HS. It is more or less 3 lanes east of Wilson HS (2 westbound, 1 eastbound) and 5 lanes west (2 westbound, 2 eastbound, 1 left turn lane.)

      It would be really useful to know specifically where this incident took place.

      There is a spot, going eastbound and downhill that I regularly leave the bike lane and go into the motor vehicle lane. Why? Because the bike lane ends just before the Capitol and Terwilliger intersection. And it’s better to merge into the motor vehicle lane before the intersection. That way I eliminate turning conflicts with people turning right using the right turn lane, and the buses which have a bus stop in that right turn lane.

      Typically, I’m also able to keep up with the motor vehicle traffic on that downhill.

      You can see me make that merge at about 47 seconds into the helmet cam video I posted here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uK2eSoEj0JA

      Another place I see bicycles leave the bike lane is where Capitol splits off from Beaverton-Hillsdale, westbound, before the intersection with Bertha Ct.

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    • middle of the road guy December 27, 2010 at 9:10 am

      Sigh…if it comes a cyclist’s mouth it must be the Gospel. Anyone else, it just can’t be true.

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  • Colin M November 16, 2010 at 10:07 am

    The call is to TriMet dispatch using the emergency option – which puts it at the front of the line – but it does not go to 911.


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