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Reader Story: A call for bikeway etiquette as fair weather floodgates open

Posted by on March 14th, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Summer bike traffic-2-2

As temps increase, so do crowds in the bike lanes.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This article reflects on an annual tradition in Portland: Veteran, all-season riders having to adjust to an influx of fair-weather riders at the onset of spring. It was submitted by 31-year old North Portland resident Adam Stone, who requested that I publish it as, “a timely plug for safety and etiquette.”

I am an all season bike commuter who works with other year-rounders and some fair weather folks. It’s all good, I am not an elitist who feels those who do not ride in the cold and rain need to earn their spot in the bike lane; we can even have lunch together. I just wish that those who don’t ride year round (now that they are out) would exercise some caution and common sense that apparently don’t come naturally.

Here are some observations from one day’s worth of commuting with nice weather (3/13/2013):

“Stay right… I AM going to pass you and it would be a lot easier for the both of us if you would just stay right and hold a line.”

— LOOK before your merge, if a car is there, WAIT. Don’t just stick your paw out and start merging across three lanes of traffic on Broadway between Burnside and Alder. Especially if you are the guy that chose headphones over lights for your dawn commute; you just created nine new people that hate sharing the roads with bikes.

— Speaking of lights, if you haven’t used yours since October, they may need a charge or new batteries. Hey, I get that they’re at least trying by mounting the thing, but come on, who likes a pie with no filling?

— Stay right. I understand, people are out getting some fresh air, they feel good, they feel strong; but I AM going to pass you and it would be a lot easier for the both of us if you would just stay right and hold a line. I promise to pass timely and responsibly, giving you a wide berth and a smile. (And don’t grumble at me.)

— If you signal to take a lane, and it is open, take it. Don’t signal, check, ride another block, they merge without re-signalling and re-checking. Cars are way faster than us, and that conversion van almost ended you in front of the Schnitz.

— At Williams and Killingsworth, respect the decision of the first bike in line. If they don’t go on the pedestrian signal, just wait, the green light cometh. Yelling at everyone to “Just Go!” is only make you look like an unhappy soul.

— Lastly, don’t you dare shoal me at a light, then not ride faster than me; you’re just making it uncomfortable for everyone.

Thanks for sharing your tips and perspective Adam. I think this perennial issue will partly fix itself as the quality of bikeway access on our streets rises to meet current demands.

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  • Alexis March 14, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Don’t shoal at stop signs either. Wait your turn, pass me after the sign.

    And DON’T PASS ON THE RIGHT. I’m avoiding the door zone, not trying to be annoying.

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    • John Lascurettes March 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      Monday night I was passed on the right AND the left on N. Williams by two bikes apiece on each side as I came off the red light on Rodney. Really?!

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    • Marid March 14, 2013 at 9:24 pm

      This a thousand times. We have enough to worry about besides some fool who timed the light and whips by us on the right and in the intersection. More than likely we’re all going to pass you in a block with our winter legs.

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      • Mindful Cyclist March 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm

        This drives me insane and happens at least every other week going EB on the Burnside Bridge. I blow by someone going up the hill (and one needs to take the lane doing that on this bridge) and slow to keep the momentum going as I know how to time the light on MLK. Without fail, the person passes me like I am sitting still on the the right just so he can sit with a foot down at the light. And, I have to take the lane again on Burnside as I am fast enough to hit all the lights.

        Please stop doing that!!

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        • are March 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm

          okay, so which is it? time the light or don’t time the light? if you have been out here all winter, maybe you could have learned the timing of the lights. i see most of the behaviors attributed here to seasonal riders in the dead of winter as well.

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          • Mindful Cyclist March 16, 2013 at 3:29 pm

            I *have* learned to time the light. I am slowing down so I can keep my momentum going and not have to come to a dead stop at the light. Yet, I still get passed by the person I passed a few 100′ ago and s/he has to start from a dead stop.

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    • whyat March 15, 2013 at 11:21 am

      Yes yes yes. Passing on the right? Don’t. And if I’m clearly the faster biker don’t keep trying to sneak around me at red lights. Where are you going to go?

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    • Kevin March 15, 2013 at 11:26 am

      BEWARE….The Rides of March!!! (makes me prefer riding in the dark, cold, and wet winter months 🙂

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    • VeLoRoK March 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      Edit: I meant to say I was heading up Williams, not Vancouver.

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    • skeletor March 19, 2013 at 9:00 am

      Not sure why anybody would risk passing on the right. After all, that’s my designated snot rocket and loogie zone.

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  • Peter James March 14, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    As someone who is on a heavier bike or perhaps I’m just not that fast of a rider I’d like to request some kind of notice before getting passed. Believe me I have no problem with it but suddenly finding yourself with a bike an inch from your handlebars because you didn’t know someone was passing is a bit scary. A simple bell ring or “on your left” would be fantastic. Cheers!

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    • Champs March 14, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      Were it that enough people understood the secret language of “Bell”, or that an unintelligible shout, occasionally ending with something that sounds like the word “left” is telling you which way to look, not turn.

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      • daisy March 14, 2013 at 3:47 pm

        I’ve been saying “Passing,” which makes more sense than “On your left.”

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        • Chris Anderson March 14, 2013 at 8:30 pm

          My favorite was in Amsterdam when people without bells were saying “ding ding!” before passing.

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    • Gregg March 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      …and don’t pass with an inch either. Give me a couple of feet. We are commuting seperately, not racing together in a peloton.

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      • Bill Walters March 14, 2013 at 2:06 pm

        Absolutely–simply do not pass unless and until there is a surplus of space. Until then, chill. As seen elsewhere, bells and on “on your left” can lead to undesired results. But surplus space covers a multitude of sins; space conquers all.

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    • sd March 14, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      Sorry, too many bad experiences with bell ringing and “on your left” causing people to jump in front of me. Don’t take offense, but I will pass by you without noise and give you enough space (by leaving the bike lane to pass) and attention so that if you do move left unexpectedly I will not hit you.

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      • mark kenseth March 14, 2013 at 4:32 pm

        I 2nd that. I can’t stand when I’m passed by someone in the bike lane. One sneeze, one swerve of glass, one strong breeze and you’ll be bumped into the street. Also, please look over your shoulder at least a little before getting out of your line.

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    • John Lascurettes March 14, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      You’ll always get one from me.

      I passed Jonathan on the Broadway Bridge the other morning and after ringing my bell before I passed, he rang back. I never had anyone do that before. Thanks, Jonathan.

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    • spare_wheel March 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      i have provoked reactions when i pass slower riders 4-6 feet into the adjacent vehicle lane. in particular, when i take the vehicle lane and blow by a clump in the two lane part of the hawthorne ramp i often see visible reactions. its not cheating folks. i have every right to take the lane when the bike lane is obstructed (by slower moving cyclists).

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    • Lisa March 16, 2013 at 4:34 pm

      I agree about letting the slowpokes know you’re passing- I was visiting from Seattle last month and had several bikes pass me without having any idea they were there.

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  • Anne March 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    What does “shoal” mean? I gather it’s some sort of a jack rabbit start?

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    • dan March 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      Coming to a stop sign / light with other cyclists stopped in front of you and passing them all to wait at the front of the line. Very bad manners, even if you’re positive that you’re faster than everyone you just passed…and most of the time that isn’t the case.

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      • Blake March 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm

        I can pass Lance Armstrong when he’s stopped at a stop sign/light.

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        • Matt March 14, 2013 at 4:46 pm

          That’s cuz he stopped doping. Duh.

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    • El Biciclero March 14, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      “I think this perennial issue will partly fix itself as the quality of bikeway access on our streets rises to meet current demands.”

      …unless that “access” consists of narrow, barricaded, “separated facilities”.

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    • JRB March 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      Sort of. Perhaps others can describe it better, but its when a slower cyclist passes or pulls up next to a faster cyclist who is stopped at light or stop sign or for a pedestrian instead of queuing up and waiting. They do so for the purpose of getting ahead of everyone else, who is then forced to pass them when traffic gets moving again. For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone thinks this okay. If you are faster rider, wait in line until traffic is moving and when the opportunity presents itself, pass. Cyclists who shoal demonstrate the same “me first, my time is more important than anyone else’s” that so many cyclists decry in motorists.

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      • Robin March 15, 2013 at 8:24 am

        Y’know, I feel the same way about bicyclists that pass the bus while it’s stopped for passengers. They often move in sync for a fairly long stretch of road, and the bus keeps having to pass the bicyclist again and again. It would be safer for all concerned for the cyclist to pause, let the bus get ahead of them (since the bus originally overtook them it is obviously moving faster) so that there isn’t that long sequence of passes.

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        • are March 15, 2013 at 4:36 pm

          if the bus is going to stop repeatedly in the space of several blocks, you may be sure i will pass it the very first time and quickly leave it behind.

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        • David Burns March 17, 2013 at 4:04 am

          Last I checked, this (passing buses and riding in front of them) is what TriMet was recommending. Did they change their minds?

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    • Eric March 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      But what about at the green boxes. I know I’m not the fastest but what do you do when the person who got there first stays to the far right and leaves the rest of the box empty? I feel like I should fill in that space.

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      • Bill Walters March 14, 2013 at 1:29 pm

        Line up alongside, in a green box? That’s fine. Just don’t line up *ahead of* whoever’s there before you.

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      • Gregg March 15, 2013 at 3:11 pm

        Green Boxes? I WANT faster riders to take the pole position (Even with whoever was there first.) You (They) move out faster and all of us are less crowded and can get to where we need more efficiently.

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        • Gregg March 15, 2013 at 3:13 pm

          Lineing up at the green boxes is the exception to the rule. The rule is to be courteous, and not to shoal at other interstections.

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  • Peter James March 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Are there any good resources to point new bike commuters to that explain how to avoid these sorts of things that drive everyone crazy?

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    • Bill Walters March 14, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      Almost universally, they’re derived from etiquette elsewhere in life. (For instance, when is it ever acceptable to join a line/queue at its front instead of its back?) Many are either defined by existing traffic law or are minor extrapolations thereof.

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      • 9watts March 14, 2013 at 3:20 pm

        I will say that I was until recently blissfully unaware of the antipathy to (or even the term) shoaling. The analogy to the queue doesn’t quite work for me since the Hawthorne bridge bike/sidewalk when the bridge is up to me isn’t a queue but a superhighway with, in effect, ‘multiple lanes.’ I tended to pull up closer to the front to, as someone earlier mentioned in relation to the green boxes, ‘fill up the space.’ A queue for a concert isn’t a single file affair either. I’m very sympathetic to the idea of not pushing ahead/cutting in line; I just never saw the situations that I’ve seen mentioned in the context of shoaling as analogous.

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      • davemess March 15, 2013 at 3:25 pm

        in road running races, it is VERY normal for faster people to move to the front (nearer the start line). This is a commonly accepted practice, as most runners realize that not everyone runs the same speeds and it benefits no one to have to force the faster runners to weave through much slower traffic. So yes, there are examples of this occurring in life.

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        • Shoalolo March 15, 2013 at 9:41 pm

          No, there are not. Dave, you’re not describing a line or queue; you’re describing the start of a friggin’ race!

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          • gumby March 19, 2013 at 5:48 pm

            Isn’t that what the green light is, the start of a race? The showing off of your hard won winter cycling legs?

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  • JRB March 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    This hits most of the notes I would have struck. Unfortunately, I think a lot of all weather riders could learn to follow these as well.

    I will also add my voice to no passing on the right and giving others a wide berth when passing. Bike lanes are a single lane. If you want to pass, take the lane. If you can’t take the lane right away, exercise a little patience and WAIT until the lane is clear and then pass.

    Don’t follow too closely, I do stop for pedestrians at cross walks even if I could clear them by a wide berth, cars that have the right of way at four way stop signs etc.

    If you wear ear buds, keep them at volume where you can still hear others trying to communicate with you. Being able to communicate with other road users is a good thing. We cyclists are blessed that we don’t have to use obnoxious horns to do so.

    +++100 to no shoaling. Is there anything more annoying than someone who passes a line of cyclists stopped at a stop sign or light only to be passed by everybody who understand common courtesy?

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    • spare_wheel March 14, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      “Is there anything more annoying than someone who passes a line of cyclists stopped at a stop sign or light”

      This is not shoaling. Shoaling is passing a line of cyclists and going to the FRONT of the line. If there is space on your left, I am going there, bike lane be damned.

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      • Bill Walters March 14, 2013 at 3:14 pm

        How is it *not* shoaling if everyone you’re passing is stopped in observance of traffic controls? Please explain.

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        • Bill Walters March 14, 2013 at 3:17 pm

          Oh, I see. You’re saying you’ll just go alongside, not ahead of. Allrighty then.

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  • dan March 14, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I love all the fair-weather riders with their dirty clocks that have been collecting dust and cobwebs all winter long. I am always happy to clean their clocks for them.

    Things that everyone should remember:
    -You are not the only person on the road
    -If you’re passing another person close enough for them to wave an arm and hit you or your handlebars (say they were trying to shoo away a bee, for instance), then you’re passing too close. That applies to pedestrians and cyclists.
    -Bikes are real quiet, yo! That means you may not hear that other bike overhauling you and you need to look before changing your direction of travel and potentially cutting off someone behind you.
    -Signal! It’s irritating when drivers don’t do it, and it’s just as irritating when cyclists don’t do it.

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    • JRB March 14, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      “Bikes are real quiet, yo! That means you may not hear that other bike overhauling you and you need to look before changing your direction of travel and potentially cutting off someone behind you.”

      Absolutely, it may be more courteous for somebody “to say on your left” when passing, but the primary responsibility for avoiding a collision when you change direction is yours. It’s not the only right thing to do but the life or limb you save may be your own.

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      • A.K. March 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm

        Exactly, both parties have mutual responsibilities… the passer should let the “passee” know, and the passee shouldn’t be swerving all over the place unless they’ve checked behind themselves first.

        A reason I love the relatively loud ratchet mechanism of my rear hub. Besides an “on your left” it’s easy to coast and let someone know I’m behind them.

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        • Greg March 15, 2013 at 8:47 pm

          You know, I really don’t need people yelling “ON YOUR LEFT!” at me. Most people yell it when they’re a few feet behind, I have no time to react.
          Thinking about this another way, do you want every passing car to honk?
          Exactly. Leave yourself room and don’t yell at me.

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          • are March 17, 2013 at 2:53 pm

            how it works, greg, is i say it only loud enough to be heard, not yelling, and what you are supposed to do it not “react,” but hold your g*dd*mn line so the pass can be made safely. i will continue to do it, and you can continue to mutter to yourself. but neither of us will be sprawled on the pavement.

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            • yellowjacket March 17, 2013 at 3:16 pm

              “Holding your gd line” isn”t always possible when there’s a sudden need to swerve around glass, pothole or other road hazard. That is why a 6 foot buffer should be used when passing. I once swerved a little to my left and nearly took out an entire peloton that was beginning to pass me. I was unaware of their silent presence.

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              • spare_wheel March 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm

                A standard bike lane is 6 feet wide and many are even narrower. Depending on circumstances 3-4 feet is more than enough room to pass safely.

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          • are March 17, 2013 at 2:56 pm

            for myself, i have a mirror, which i actually check with some frequency, so while i will note that the person passing me a little too close does not have the courtesy to say “on your left,” at least i was not surprised by his suddenly appearing at my shoulder. if the pass is way too close, i will sometimes say “on my left” at roughly the same pitch i would have used had i been passing him. and then we both arrive at the same light anyway.

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            • yellowjacket March 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm

              If someone passes me too closely with or without warning, I will say “too close”. I have choicer words for the idiots who pass me without checking traffic and a car is also passing.

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    • sabes March 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      That sounds a lot like you’re talking to a lot of experienced riders that I come across.

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      • Bill Walters March 14, 2013 at 1:57 pm

        Oh, certainly. It’s quite possible for someone to ride for years and remain a perma-noob. A *fast* perma-noob, even.

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    • was carless March 14, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      I love all the “fair weather cyclists” wearing yellow racing gore-tex jackets when its 55 degrees and sunny outside.

      Can’t beging to imagine how stinky and smelly they must be!

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      • Concordia Cyclcist March 16, 2013 at 2:30 pm

        Those may not be “Fair weather ” cyclists. It may be 55 in the afternoon, but can still be in the 30s in the morning when you rode to work. Frankly, I get so used to using my winter weather gear that it takes me about a month to alter my outfit options in the spring. So, yeah, sometimes I ride over dressed. So sue me.

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  • Champs March 14, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Shoaling is but one symptom of mefirstus. Other signs include impromptu games of chicken on narrow city trails.

    We get it, you’re fast. So am I. That rider fifteen places up might be, too. Wait your turn.

    Impetuosity killed the Cat6.

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  • spencer March 14, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    these behaviors are why I AVOID bike routes at all costs, its to avoid getting shoaled, salmon’d, and bitched at for passing.

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  • Anthony March 14, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    I agree with most of these points. One thing though: “shoal”? I assume that means pass? If that’s the case, I would say this: When the light turns green at a light, I don’t waste any time, I’m off! I even downshift before I get to a light so I’ll be faster on take-off, and some cyclists are sooooooooo slow when they start from a light. This is very annoying for someone like me, who just wants to gogogo already. So, yes, I apologize if I passed you only to have you pass me later, but I don’t want to take several minutes of artificially restricting my speed (anyone that’s been behind a very slow car can identify with this feeling I’m sure) in order to judge whether you might be faster than me. How about picking up the pace at take-off?

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    • JRB March 14, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      How about being less selfish and actually waiting until you know you are faster then someone else before passing them? If you are faster, than you only have to pass them once. Everybody who has commented so far except you thinks shoaling is obnoxious. Is satisfying your need to “go go go” so central to your well-being that knowingly piss off your fellow riders. I ride primarily because I enjoy it. When I encounter obnoxious cyclists and motorists I can’t help but think I might be happier sitting on the bus reading a good book.

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      • DK March 14, 2013 at 3:22 pm

        Solution = Skip your commute and go mt. biking after work. 😉

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      • Anthony March 14, 2013 at 3:31 pm

        I guess I don’t understand what’s so terrible about passing someone that might be faster than you. It appears I was wrong about what shoaling meant so maybe that’s where the anger is directed?

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        • JRB March 14, 2013 at 4:03 pm

          Because you then force them to repeatedly pass you and probably wait for you while they wait for a safe opportunity to pass. Do you drive in the break down lane or a bike lane if it allows you get ahead of other cars ahead of you at stop light or stop sign? Are you one of those drivers who when the road is going from two lanes to one drives all the way up in the open lane until it ends and then expects to be let in? If you think those things are okay along with shoaling, then I doubt anything that I or everyone else on here who has condemned shoaling as rude behavior could say that would convince you.

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          • rebecca March 14, 2013 at 5:21 pm

            JRB: That’s actually a pretty terrible analogy about two lanes going to one. The most efficient and fastest way for motorists to handle the situation of two lanes going to one is to fill both the lanes until the bottleneck and then zipper into one lane. Up to 15% more efficient than everyone merging early and then getting self-righteous at the bottleneck.

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            • Alan 1.0 March 14, 2013 at 9:17 pm
            • JRB March 15, 2013 at 10:56 am

              I’ll defer to your greater knowledge, although it’s certainly not more efficient for the people who got over when being informed that a lane is ending. On an intuitive level, it still feels like butting into line. Which is neither here nor there as to whether shoaling is obnoxious behavior. The vast majority of people who bothered to respond to this article think it is.

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              • Rebecca March 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm

                I don’t see anyone here in favor of shoaling. But your apparent anger at what is actually a civil and more efficient driving approach (for both early and late mergers) suggests that perhaps we can all get a little calcified in thinking our way is the right, the just, the fair, the *only* way.

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              • JRB March 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm

                Did you miss the part where I agreed with you?

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          • Anthony March 15, 2013 at 11:33 am

            I don’t, actually, force them to repeatedly pass me. I can’t speak for others, but I ride strategically. I pass someone if they seem like they might be slower than me. If upon passing them, they then pass me and it’s obvious they’re going faster than me, I don’t pass them from that point on. I don’t “shoal” according to the definition pointed out to me in comments. I’ll merely pass someone after a light has turned green if it seems like they’re slower than me. If it’s someone on a road bike with lots of flourescent lycra, I’ll usually yield to them regardless, just based on the mere assumption that they’ll be faster. I think you and others are thinking I’m whatever jerky bike rider makes you angry out on the roads and venting on me. I actually ride pretty respectfully.

            Also, I don’t drive, so your rhetorical questions about driving meant to shame me into feeling bad for the bike behavior that you assume I engage in but don’t, don’t apply.

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          • Anthony March 15, 2013 at 3:29 pm

            I don’t, actually, force them to repeatedly pass me. I can’t speak for others, but I ride strategically. I pass someone if they seem like they might be slower than me. If upon passing them, they then pass me and it’s obvious they’re going faster than me, I don’t pass them from that point on. I don’t “shoal” according to the definition pointed out to me in comments. I’ll merely pass someone after a light has turned green if it seems like they’re slower than me. If it’s someone on a road bike with lots of flourescent lycra, I’ll usually yield to them regardless, just based on the mere assumption that they’ll be faster. I think you and others are thinking I’m whatever annoying bike rider makes you angry out on the roads and venting on me. I actually ride pretty respectfully.

            Also, I don’t drive, so your rhetorical questions about driving meant to shame me into feeling bad for the bike behavior that you assume I engage in but don’t, don’t apply.

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            • JRB March 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm

              Andrew, what I have been responding to you is the assertion in your initial post that when people ahead of you are stopped at a light or or sign, you pass them without knowing whether you are faster or not. You just pass them because some people are slow getting off the stop in your estimation. What I glean from the comments is that most people think it’s breach of etiquette to use the fact that somebody has stopped for a light or sign to get ahead of them without knowing whether you are faster, which means that sometimes you force a stronger rider to twiddle behind you until they have an opportunity to pass. That’s the essence of shoaling and if it’s not what you do, than I apologize for misunderstanding your comments and reacting so strongly.

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    • Champs March 14, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      We’re all waiting our turn in the queue with somewhere to go.

      For the scant protection of a bike lane’s white stripe, the more time I spend inside it, the better. Shoalers don’t help.

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    • Bill Walters March 14, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      Anthony: Instead of the lengthy straw man, why not just look up what shoaling actually means in this context? (Hint: It happens at a red light, not green.) Thus: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=shoaling+bike

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      • Anthony March 15, 2013 at 11:35 am

        Bill, thanks. I did do a cursory google search for shoaling, but it was on a break at work, and when I didn’t find anything relevant (I searched the term alone, not with the word ‘bike’), I didn’t take the time to continue searching and posted.

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    • was carless March 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      Other people tend to think of people who exhibit your behavior as a “jerk.”

      Even worse if you are on a fixie and you max out your cadence…

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  • dan March 14, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Oh, one more: don’t ride to the inside of the circle in Ladd Circle. Keep to the outside so that faster riders and cars can pass on the left. It’s always an eye-roller when someone has elected to go to the inside lane and then when they want to leave the circle, a car is passing them on the right.

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  • Anthony March 14, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Aforementioned comment does not relate to stopping/starting at stop signs, only lights. Passing a person/multiple people at a stop sign because you don’t want to have to stop is just being a jerk.

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  • jeff March 14, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Here’s one, after I just passed you like you’re standing still and we both come to a stop light, don’t push your way forward to the line and roll in front of me. You’re being (really) annoying and obstructive of traffic flow.

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    • jeff March 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm

      ha…apparently I just learned what shoaling was.

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  • q`Tzal March 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I feel like this can be addressed best by road & MUP signs that visually describe what proper road & path etiquette IS. I’m partial to IKEA’s wordless image vocabulary and Japan’s saccharine polite sweetness.

    It is foolish to assume that people are born with manners; it is a learned trait. If we start now to set a tone of polite sharing instead of rude selfishness we might see a real difference when the current generation of bike train riding school age children grow up and teach their children to be polite.

    Not saying it isn’t worth the effort but we shouldn’t expect overnight results no matter what we do.

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  • CaptainKarma March 14, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    I’m afraid to go out now for fear of being judged.

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    • Craig March 14, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      Yeah. The smug factor is pretty high in the PDX.

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      • q`Tzal March 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm

        Yup, it is very smug to expect not to get run over by drivers who are more concerned with their 2nd Amendment rights than the rights of others to Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness.

        In fact in every other state in our fine union that I’ve cycled in the above paradigm holds as applied truth.
        If I have to bike next to the hipster ghost of Emily Post for a little civility so be it.

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    • annefi March 15, 2013 at 11:05 pm


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  • Andyc of Linnton March 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Some interesting points.
    Now, on to one of those topics specifically. I always thought it would be nice for the city to install a bike light at Killingsworth and Williams along with the pedestrian light, for those continuing north up Williams.

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    • are March 15, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      for real? we are talking about a two or three second delay.

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  • Austin March 14, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Ah! I’d rather dodge sunny day riders and newbs all day in fair weather than suck the drenching headwinds of the past week or so we’ve had in Seattle.

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    • spare_wheel March 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      i would gladly trade you some “riding the hawthorne bridge on a summer weekend” for some “drenching headwinds”.

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      • Austin March 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm

        Good for you!

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      • David March 15, 2013 at 10:09 am

        Oh come on, the Hawthorne Bridge is .3 miles long. It’s not that bad! What does it take in the summer to get across it? An extra 45 seconds?

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        • spare_wheel March 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm

          i have no problem waiting for my fellow traffic. its the punch-drunk joggers, kamikaze walkers, popcorn toddlers, and most especially the wandering dog leashes that unnerve me. imo, the bridge should have been divided into cycling and ped sides (a la the GG bridge) a long time ago.

          PS: pbot’s aversion to two-way cycle paths is annoying.

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          • David March 15, 2013 at 3:43 pm

            Yeah I agree. Have you ever ridden around BC? So many separated paths! Two way bike traffic completely separate from walking/running paths.

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  • CPAC March 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm
  • Jeff March 14, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    And don’t ride the rail on the Hawthorne bridge. That’s for pedestrians. Stay in the middle if you are slow.

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    • Reza March 14, 2013 at 3:41 pm


      Yeah, ride in the middle, so that it’s unsafe to pass you on either the left OR the right because of a lack of space. Or you can stay in the bicycle lane, and anybody who wants to pass you can wait for the pedestrian lane to clear and then pass on the RIGHT.

      Oh, the horror!

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      • dan March 14, 2013 at 4:16 pm

        You know that you have a minority opinion, and most people’s first instinct is to pass on the left, right?


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      • mark kenseth March 14, 2013 at 4:41 pm

        I think passing on the right on the Hawthorne Bridge is best. It’s like when trucks are supposed to use the left lane when there’s construction on the interstate (at least in the midwest). I don’t like people serving to get out of the way only to serve back without looking while dodging walkers on the Hawthorne.

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  • sabes March 14, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    I’m confused why this post is directed at ‘fair weather riders.’ These rules apply to everyone. “I’m not an elitist, but…” signifies that you are, indeed, an elitist. You are separating out ‘newbs’ and ‘fair weather riders’ from yourself, because you judge yourself better than they. I could have written the same exact thing about elitist ‘year-round riders’ who think that they have the right to shoal and pass on the right because “they know how to do it.”

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    • are March 16, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      yeah, you know what i hate is when these fair weather grocery shoppers leave their carts in the middle of the aisle while they are standing staring at a shelf full of possibilities, and when these people who are almost never in public spaces have their conversations right near the doorway or at the top of the stairs, or try to board the elevator when people are exiting, or wait until they are boarding the bus to look for their fare.

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      • johnw March 17, 2013 at 3:16 pm

        I forget the name of the study and the author (I really should know this, maybe one of you other Urban Planner types can remind me of the name), but there was a study of pedestrians in NYC, I believe, the author called this kind of thing the “100% location”… pedestrians tend to stand and have their conversations etc in that part of the pathway that gives them (not you) the most options for exiting when done. I’m not sure how ‘true’ this actually is, it certainly feels that way, but it’s an entertaining theory.

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  • Phil Kulak March 14, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    What? Keep right? I WILL NOT hug the parked cars just so you can pass me in my own lane. Wanna pass me? Great! There’s an ENTIRE lane just to the left of me waiting to be used to do so. I’m supposed to bow down to your lycra and get doored for your convenience? Bug off.

    How does something like this get published on bikeportland???

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    • Bill Walters March 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      No specific indication in the original post that the author meant the door zone of a typical bike lane. Could as easily have meant “stay within the bike lane so I can safely pass you to the left of the bike lane.”

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    • JRB March 14, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      You seem to have missed the part where the author says ” I promise to pass timely and responsibly, giving you a wide berth and a smile. (And don’t grumble at me.)” I don’t think he said his right to pass trumps your right to be safe and out of the door zone, just the opposite in fact.

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  • spare_wheel March 14, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    shoaling may be annoying but i would like to remind everyone that it is also an integral part of cat-6 racing tradition.

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    • Bill Walters March 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      Good point. Shoaling with intent is roughly the human-power equivalent of revving your motor at someone who has a fast-looking car like yours.

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      • dan March 14, 2013 at 2:38 pm

        Thank you guys, I laughed out loud here at my desk. I am sorely in need of some cheering up at work these days, so two thumbs up to you.

        Also, everything you said is true! 🙂

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  • Rol March 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Because this post…
    1) …uses Bike-Snob-coined terms
    2) …to complain about annoying riding habits by Portlanders
    3) …which complaint is, itself, annoying…
    a) …because it’s anal and utterly humorless
    b) …because it’s clearly fake-friendly to mask real annoyance (classic west-coast passive-aggressive vibe dude brah)
    b) …and because if these are the worst of our problems (compared to say, getting killed in NYC and then cited by the NYPD posthumously) we’ve got nothing to complain about…

    …therefore it is guaranteed a Bike Snob mention. Except now I’ve said all this, so maybe not.

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    • Rol March 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      Yup, that’s right, a, b, b. Easy as 1, 2, 2.

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  • televod March 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Also: please stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. I rode home last night behind a guy who, between shoaling every light in the parking lane and immediately getting passed, blew through a crosswalk with a grand old swerve. Just total disregard.

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    • Randall S. March 14, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      I wish we could get motorists to do this, you know, since it’s the law.

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      • televod March 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm

        In this case both traffic lanes on Williams stopped, but the shoaler on his sparkling new $1000+ touring bike decided he’d “thread the needle” between two peds. Negative style points were also assessed for lack of helmet and seat set so low the rider bobbed up and down with every stroke.

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  • Rob March 14, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    And if you’re one of those riders who doesn’t wear green on St. Paddy’s day, I’m going to pinch you… (I’ll ring my bell first)

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  • BURR March 14, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    All-year riders don’t have the corner on cycling etiquette by any stretch of the imagination.

    The shoalers, right side passers, close passers, racer boys, and bright-lights-in-your-eye-on-the-MUP crowd are out there all year long.

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    • CaptainKarma March 14, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      Seriously, if your lights are in my eyes @ ~6 ft altitude, how can they be on the road?

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    • eli bishop March 14, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      “bright-lights-in-your-eye-on-the-MUP crowd” YES! if your lights are too bright in the DAYLIGHT, they are TOO BRIGHT!

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      • q`Tzal March 14, 2013 at 7:31 pm

        And an AirZound is too loud…
        … until you can say DEFINITELY that it saved your life from an inattentive driver.
        Same goes for the bright headlights; just don’t be an a$$ about it and use them as weapons.
        Except against cars. If your helmet light is dumping so much light in to the driver’s face they can’t tell you are a bicycle they don’t know for certain that you aren’t a 20 ton dump truck.
        This last resort in road communication has had a 100% success rate in over 15 years of daily commuting.

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      • was carless March 14, 2013 at 10:01 pm

        Oh god, I hate those lights. I love how they don’t even aim them at the trail, but they stare at you right in the face to the point of completely blinding you. About twice a month I have to almost stop by bike or close my eyes because its painful.

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  • WillB March 14, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I did shoal this fellow at a busy intersection. That was a horrible, awful thing to do. For not only was he faster than me, but when he passed me he did so with more grace courtesy than I afforded him. Never again.

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  • nathan March 14, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Maybe I haven’t eaten enough today, but all of the whining and self-righteousness on this thread has irritated me.

    Tattling to mama internet about perceived wrongs will result in nothing other than increasing disconnectedness with real people (all of the different proverbial others). The punching bag target of “bad riders” is not useful.

    If someone does something that you don’t like and you’re able to and so inclined, talk to them about it.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu March 14, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I’m enjoying reading these comments. Okay, here are my requests for the fair-weather riders who will soon be joining us.
    – I don’t care where you ride in the bike lane or street, I can pass you whereever, but just please do ride in a straight line.
    – Don’t be upset if I don’t ring my bell when passing. You are too likely to swerve wildly at the sound. I’ll pass you silently, leaving plenty of room.
    – I might stare at you, a little. Sorry. It has been lonely out here.

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  • daisy March 14, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I’ve also been thinking about the huge influx of cyclists with the nicer weather. I’m trying to not feel superior just because I’ve been on my bike all winter. I’ll add a couple of points:

    – It feels like there are more cyclists behaving badly now, but I’m willing to admit that this might be more about total volume than the poor manners of fair-weather cyclists.

    – Some lights really are timed for cyclists. If you find you’re always zipping out in front and then getting stopped at every light, try taking 2 seconds longer to get going and see if it means you don’t actually have to stop.

    – It can be hard to avoid shoaling when going from Broadway onto N. Williams because it can be tricky to get to the back of the line.

    – I really appreciate it when slower cyclists move to the right and into the space where cars might park (for example, on N. Williams) if there’s a lot of space, to make it easier for me to pass. They don’t have to do this, and it’s nice when they do. I try to do this when I’m the slow poke.

    – Some people, often men, really hate to be passed. I’ve been riding my bike all winter; I do a tiny bit of racing. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean you’re less of a man if I pass you, especially if I’m on my faster road bike that day.

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    • mark kenseth March 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      I hear you on the men being passed by women thing. When passed by a woman I used think ‘hey…why am I going so slow?’ but now I think, ‘hey, she is going really fast.’ …Nice. It’s totally fine by me.

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    • pdxpaul March 15, 2013 at 11:26 am

      Weidler-Williams shoaling doesn’t really bug me much because of the light timing – you are right, you can either go like 12.5 and make all the lights or about 25 and make all the lights. I’m always up for a nice CAT 6 race. But I’m dirty and will box folks out using traffic or shave ‘em off my hip with a bus bumper. But that’s cuz I’m old and not fast and need to play dirty. I’ll also rope-a-dope on the flat through Skidmore and sprint up the rise to Alberta. Just me having fun. I do not, however, shoal because that’s just savagery.

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      • pdxpaul March 15, 2013 at 11:37 am

        And my personal revenge against shoalers at the light by Steel Bridge and Interstate is to ride up the Interstate hill, cut back on Skidmore, peel back onto Williams and pass them up the rise to Alberta. Petty, I know.

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  • yellowjacket March 14, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    My pet peeve (aside from being passed without warning mere inches away): when someone passes with complete disregard for whether there’s a car also passing. If they get hit by car, they’ll likely be thrown into me. Look left and behind before passing bikers.
    One of my rules of the road: beware of fancy pants riders in spandexed logos. They’re completely self-centered, rude and reckless.

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    • random_rider March 15, 2013 at 9:55 am

      Wow, over-generalize much? I sometime wear spandex because it’s comfortable and I like the jersey pockets. Sometimes I wear my work clothes. I ride the same (courteously) regardless of my attire.

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  • Tom March 14, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    I ride SpringWater from se 148th to Milwaukee and back couple of times a week.

    Many, many times I’ll see a couple of riders coming from the other direction, riding side by side (usually 2, sometimes 3) ..they can take up to 80 percent of the path, leaving me to ride the right line …..

    now don’t get me wrong, I love women, BUT prolly
    95 percent of the time the 2 or 3 side by side are women…they often ride down the exact center of the lane as if no one else is there …really irritating.

    oh, and don’t forget the peds (of all genders) walking on the wrong side , or the dog walkers whose leash is so long that they block the entire path ..ugh.

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    • mark kenseth March 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      That’s when I use my bell. A friendly reminder that I need some space, rather than when passing someone on the road.

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    • Panda March 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm

      I don’t think pedestrians on a mup have a “right side”. It’s a park, where people are taking a walk. It is not traffic. I also think that that ppr has not done a good job of designing shared trails so that they CAN function for commuters and park users. Please remember that when you are on a shared path, you are really fast, and you do not have priority, yield to those pedis and dog walkers, and lets try to get separate bike/ped on the no greenway!

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      • Tom March 15, 2013 at 9:37 am

        Springwater MUP is a multi user PATH , not a multi user PARK. its downright dangerous for peds & bikes if the ped is on the wrong side …dog walkers ? when they are on one side and the leash stretches all the way across, that’s a big hazard too.

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        • maxd March 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm

          whether you call it a PARK or a PATH, it is not TRAFFIC. There is not “right side” or “wrong side”. This is a place where people of all ages, and abilities go to move down a path. Some might weave around A LOT like a toddler on a balance bike, some might bring dogs, and all of this ok because that is why the thing was built. What is “downright dangerous” is for a someone on a bike to treat this path like traffic, and assume that everyone who is behaving differently is breaking traffic regulations.

          Of course, the Springwater Trail is heavily used by commuters, I can understand feeling some ownership, but the bikes that whiz past people simply trying to take a walk with a kid and dog are acting completely inappropriate. I have been using a bike as my primary means of transportation for 20 years, I have felt very entitled about certain things. I am also a parent and dog owner, and I have been on the other side of this issue. As passionate as I am about riding bikes, I am embarrassed by the behavior of many people on bikes on the Springwater/Esplanade, etc

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    • BURR March 15, 2013 at 10:57 am

      This is not the fault of the side-by-side riders; it is the fault of the engineers who under-designed the facility. It should be at least 50% and preferably twice as wide as it currently is, and there should be more separation between cyclists and pedestrians.

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      • BURR March 15, 2013 at 10:59 am

        …and if I’m walking on the MUP, I always walk on the LEFT side, facing the oncoming bike traffic. Walk on the right and you will be close-passed by rude, fast cyclists without any warning whatsoever.

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    • annefi March 15, 2013 at 11:22 pm

      How do peds walking on the “wrong side” of an MUP trouble a cyclist? Suppose they were walking in the same position but in the same direction you’re going? Either way you have to pass them. What difference does it make which way they’re headed. Actually, walking against traffic is the safest option on a road without sidewalks and on a MUP. Remember how quiet bikes are. Peds walking against traffic on a MUP can see what’s coming, making them safer and less likely to veer out into the lane in front of oncoming traffic.

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  • yellowjacket March 14, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Two words often run through my mind on the urban streets: “Back off!” I don’t want to be in a peloton, and when you ride my tail, that limits my ability to brake or turn when I need to, for fear of being rear ended or suddenly being overtaken. Either pass or back off, or I’ll fart in your face.

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  • Lulu March 14, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    And please pull over for ambulances and emergency vehicles! I was passed by two cyclists yesterday afternoon when I pulled over to the side.

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  • yellowjacket March 14, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    For emergency vehicles, I don’t just pull over, I get on the sidewalk to get out of the way of everyone else pulling over.

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  • Jeff March 14, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Meanwhile, on the west side of the hills, I experience NO CHANGES, except perhaps a few more bike lane joggers and a (very clean) bike parked in the rack the wrong way.

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  • yellowjacket March 14, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I once asked Ray Thomas (author of the Legal Guide for Oregon Bicyclists) about bike lane joggers. His answer: it’s illegal. I wish more joggers knew the law. I’ve had a few narrow misses with bike lane joggers.

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    • pdxpaul March 15, 2013 at 11:32 am

      It’s not always illegal. Where there is no sidewalk, the bike lane is fine. With all of the gentrification redevelopment along Williams, I’ll salmon up the bike lane in construction zones when I hoof it to work. The sidealk is blocked in myriad random places on both sides and the bike lane is safest to use.

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  • Nick March 14, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Holy crap, reading this thread makes us look like a bunch of cannibals.

    Ditto what Jeff said. My west hills are as lonely as ever. Nice to have the occasional other bicycle to share the lanes with.

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    • Bill Walters March 14, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      Nah, this thread is pretty laid back. *This* is cannibalism: http://blog.oregonlive.com/commuting/2013/02/oregon_bill_would_make_highway.html#comments

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    • spare_wheel March 14, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      if you really want to see mostly anonymous cycling commenters draw blood, search for ladd’s addition traffic circle on this blog.

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      • Nick March 15, 2013 at 1:43 am

        You’re not kidding about the Ladd’s Circle thread. Internet aggression at its finest. When I read these stories though, I can’t help but think of the lyrics: “these problems are the good ones to have.”

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  • Zaphod March 14, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Learned a new word today. Be safe & courteous out there eh?

    “Now, a regular shoal is one thing, but actually mounting the sidewalk in order to shoal somebody who was riding faster than you is like pushing your full shopping cart through a floor display so you can beat the guy with just a loaf of bread and a tube of toothpaste to the express lane.” – bikesnobnyc

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  • Livellie March 14, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    I understand how shoaling other bicyclist is poor form. But what’s the proper etiquette on shoaling cars? I find myself doing that all the time…especially when I’m riding on east 28th. Is that poor form? I feel like I can ride fast enough as to not slow cars down too much but 28 is narrow and sometimes I sense that I may be holding up car traffic for a block or two.

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    • Craig March 14, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      If “shoaling” a car makes it safer for you, then do it! Absolutely. That’s the concept for the bike boxes at many busy intersections, to give cyclists the ability to shoal the cars so that you reduce the likelihood of a vehicle turning right in front of on on top of you. Keep it safe.

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    • Alan 1.0 March 14, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      That’s usually called “filtering forward” and it’s legal in Oregon (811.415 2c). There’s a range of opinions on how polite it is, in part depending on how it’s done. I try to look at how safe it is, things like right-hook potential (driveways as well as the upcoming intersection), hazards along the curb (drains, debris), suddenly narrowing lanes (often happens on the far side of an intersection), and how stale the green light will be when I cross (I’d rather cross a fresh green light with cars going the same direction beside me than a stale light with cars possibly turning across me, or hitting me broadside if it changes).

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      • 9watts February 21, 2015 at 1:03 pm

        I got a $260 ticket for filtering forward yesterday (in southbound left turn lane at Chavez and Powell; all lines of southbound cars were stopped) I have learned in the last twenty four hours what you are saying, that it is legal to do so, if it is safe, but I’m less clear on how to convince the judge to drop the ticket. The cop didn’t see me do anything but the left turning guy he stopped for running a red light blamed his red light running on my filtering forward, so he gave us both tickets, for good measure.

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        • Psyfalcon February 21, 2015 at 5:42 pm

          Lawyer time to word it properly, but how is it any different from a bike box on a street without a bike lane? (I guess Clinton and 39th has that mini bike lane… others dont, right?).

          Sorry, Judge, I thought there was a bike box up there, but it wasn’t until I got there that I realized there wasn’t one.

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          • 9watts February 21, 2015 at 7:19 pm

            That is a very good point about Clinton and Chavez. I’d been thinking all the bike boxes had bikelanes leading up to them, but you’re obviously right about that intersection, just blocks from where I got my ticket. Thanks.

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        • Alan 1.0 February 22, 2015 at 9:37 am

          Sheesh. I think about how drivers aren’t cited for “carelessness” when they strike and seriously injure a rider in front of them, and here you’re cited for a common riding situation that you completed safely…crazy. I hope your ticket is dismissed or dropped, as it was for RonC in a similar case here: http://bikeportland.org/forum/showthread.php?t=3639

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          • 9watts February 22, 2015 at 10:59 am

            Thanks, Alan 1.0. Lots of useful elaborations.
            I’m with you (and El Biciclero in the linked discussion) on the absurdity of someone in my position getting the same (monetary) ticket for an unobserved-by-the-cop, undangerous, and by most accounts mis-identified infraction, as the driver running a red light in full view of the motorcycle cop.

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    • Panda March 14, 2013 at 10:50 pm

      If there is no bike lane, I think you should just get in line behind the cars. It is poor form to pass on the right

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      • are March 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm

        it may be poor form if you filter to the front and take the lead when the light changes and there are parked cars on the other side of the intersection. but there are many instances in which, if you do not filter forward, you will miss the light simply because the motorists are clogging the intersection. sort of a reverse on the “bikes are slowing me down” argument. as noted above, oregon law permits filtering forward.

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  • Ryno Dan March 14, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Greetings. It’s illegal for a car to honk when passing. So why do cyclists do it ? DONT honk/ding/on-your-right/left or any of those other actions that imply I’m supposed to get out of your way because you’re faster ! Ever. Thanks ! Or you get “the reaction”. If you’d like to pass me, no problem whatsoever. Go for it. But it’s YOUR responsibility to wait until it’s safe, not my responsibility to get out of your way. I have no need to be informed. Especially on the Hawthorne bridge. I will never ride in the pedestrian lane, ever. Happy spring.

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    • Alan 1.0 March 14, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      It’s illegal for a car to honk when passing.

      That sounds like a law you just made up, Ryno Dan. Got a reference for it?

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      • Greg March 15, 2013 at 9:00 pm

        I think there is room for debate
        “815.225 Violation of use limits on sound equipment; exemptions; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of violation of use limits on sound equipment if the person does any of the following:
        (a) Uses upon a vehicle, any bell, siren, compression or exhaust whistle.
        (b) Uses a horn otherwise than as a reasonable warning or makes any unnecessary or unreasonably loud or harsh sound by means of a horn or other warning device.”

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        • Alan 1.0 March 16, 2013 at 9:11 pm

          I don’t see anything in 815.225 that prohibits using a horn while passing; that’s just not applicable.

          I guess in Ryno’s example he means honking simply to warn of passing, which is outside normal driving etiquette, but which would be reasonable and wise if the overtaken car indicated a turn into the passing lane, either by signaling or by changing its lane position.

          On a bike, passing is often very quiet, and many bikes don’t have rear-view mirrors, so a “ding-ding” has become quite a common courtesy; it’s different than car horns. That “ding-ding” hardly rises to the law’s standard of “unnecessary or unreasonably loud or harsh sound.”

          Sounding an AirZound to pass on the MUP…that’s excessive!

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    • El Biciclero March 18, 2013 at 11:26 am

      Well, I know getting “dinged” can be annoying, but the problem with passing–even with a wide berth–is that there is no telling what the one being passed will do if they don’t know you are there. We know that you will always check you six before swerving to the left to avoid something, make a left turn, or just for fun, but not everyone out there is as experienced–and I don’t know which one is you. I admit that I will profile riders I come up behind on my generally lightly-traveled routes, and I usually opt to either pass quickly with wide buffer and no warning or hang back and not pass. But if I’ve been hanging back for a while and note that the rider in front of me is not the speedy type, I will sometimes ding as I move to pass so the rider (if they have noticed me behind them) is not surprised to suddenly have me on their left instead of behind. Then there are the pedestrians on one of the roads along my commute route who will (no joke) be walking three or four abreast, sometimes with a dog, completely blocking the lane from white line to yellow line. Most of the time, this road is so lightly traveled that I can move into the oncoming lane to pass easily, but I still ding-ding to let them know I am coming up. I’m sure they are counting on hearing approaching cars to know when to single-up, but I’m too quiet on my bike and I think whizzing past–even in the oncoming lane–might be a little surprising.

      So if I ever come behind and consider passing you (highly unlikely), I might give a ding-ding before doing so. I guess I’ll know it’s you if I get “the reaction”; hopefully we can forgive each other…

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      • rebecca March 18, 2013 at 12:14 pm

        I appreciate the ding and always say thank you to those who ding or say “on your left” when passing. When I pass, I give an “on your left,” followed by a “good morning/afternoon/evening,” depending on time of day. Then again, I no longer commute year-round due to unemployment, so I’m sure I’m doing it all wrong now according to many here.

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  • Craig March 14, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    I’d like to suggest that us more experienced bike commuters (dare I say cyclists) understand that the slowest bike in the bike lane is setting the speed for that bike lane and that slow riders have the right to ride slow. Hopefully these riders understand that getting to the right side of the bike path allows for some safe passing space for other riders within the lane, but many do not. So, experienced riders, just get out of the lane and into traffic. Most of us have the bike handling skills and fitness to just pass the slower riders using the vehicular lane and to do so safely. So do it, and don’t begrudge the noobie.

    I spent two months this summer cycling from Amsterdam to Munich, to Berlin to Copenhagen and I can tell you that we collectively bike ridiculously fast in our Portland bike lanes. There is a reason why no-one, I mean no-one, bike commutes with a helmet in any of those countries…..because it’s not necessary given the general speed of cycle traffic.

    Given that we like to ride really fast, it’s interesting to note that the separated/protected bike lanes found in Copenhagen can be a mixed blessing. It gets more people on bikes which is awesome, but more people on bikes means more slower people on bikes and the shear number of people using the bike lanes means that it’s often impossible to ride at your own pace. So you often end up riding as slow as the Dad with 3 kids in a bakfiets 30 bikes in front of you for several blocks.

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  • Hugh Johnson March 14, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    wow…someone sounds “sandy”.

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  • Granpa March 14, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Are we on a gripe fest? I am so in!
    How about not toodling at 5 miles an hour side by side blocking traffic while chit chatting. Use Starbucks for your coffee klatch and roads for transportation.
    Put down your hand held device till you get home (or Starbucks) . You will live longer if you pay attention while riding your bike.
    Motor vehicles have a right to the road too. Arrogant “take the lane” advocates who don’t share the road (when it is safe) are just asses
    Hold your line. Save your unpredictable antics for when you rollerblade on the Springwater
    Oil your chain, secure your fender and put your U-lock somewhere it does not rattle. You sound like you are dragging a garbage can.
    Finally, if you are a woman (Daisy?) and you drop me like a sack of potatos and while trying to keep up I collapse with a heart attack, please don’t gloat.

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  • ME 2 March 14, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    This is a great post. I’m a year round rider too, but let’s not point the finger at just the fair weather set. I’m pretty sure a lot of the poor etiquette you’re seeing is also from year round riders who don’t know how to ride considerably when the bike lanes get more crowded again.

    Also I couldn’t agree more about being shoaled.There is nothing I hate more than waiting patiently behind several bikers at Williams and Broadway and then have another several bikers behind me jump the light to get to the front of the pack. Its really disrespectful and frustrating to have to make sure I can keep pace while waiting for the traffic lane to open up so I can pass you AGAIN! And then when you shoal me again at Williams and Russell, my thoughts turn to behaving like a certain Italian rider in Breaking Away.

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    • pdxpaul March 15, 2013 at 11:47 am

      If you can’t make the green light st Russell from Boradway, it’s a lot less stressful to just slow your cadence there, rather than playing leapfrog and getting irate.

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  • ME 2 March 14, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Oops I meant to write considerately in that 2nd sentence.

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  • John March 14, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Wow, huge amount of comments and this is a big issue. When I rode in PDX I had many of the same grievances as others here. My question to the group isn’t about what’s right and wrong, but rather, how can more experienced riders politely and effectively communicate safe biking etiquette to new and seasonal riders so that we can all share and enjoy the road together?

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    • Alan 1.0 March 14, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      By example.

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  • Anne Hawley
    Anne Hawley March 14, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    The sense of “You Are Not Really Welcome Here” that I get from reading this post and 90% of the comments on it is disheartening. The whole tone suggests that there’s a hierarchy of speed (and, presumably, age) with faster younger people at the top, and everyone else downslope from there, owing their “superiors” the consideration of getting out of their way. Only a few people seem to have noticed what condescending BS this is.

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    • granpa March 14, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      Anne don’t forget that sarcasm, inflection and nuance do not work on the internet. Even on this generally gentle blog digital blowhards rant. Still, appreciate the frustration all here feel about cyclists whose thoughtless behavior could result in injury to themselves, or mor important, to me! I would bet you a pitcher of beer that most of the posters here would offer to help if you had a flat or were lost. Everyone here wants more bike riders on the road so that the collective presence of cyclists become the anticipated norm for drivers with whom we share the road.
      Ride next to others as you would have then ride next to you.

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    • Shoalolo March 15, 2013 at 12:48 am

      Anne, don’t presume. I can vouch that it’s possible to be older and yet (not quite as, but still pretty darned) fast; this is not ageism. It’s not even really speedism. It’s about safety and consideration. Really, when driving, would you crowd your car past all the others waiting their turn at, say, a 4-way stop? Similar deal with this shoaling thing. (Just about all the other gripes here have a strong safety angle as well.) If you’re that sort of self-centered road (ab)user, you’re right to feel that you’re not welcome.

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    • spare_wheel March 15, 2013 at 10:30 am

      “The whole tone suggests that there’s a hierarchy of speed (and, presumably, age) with faster younger people at the top”

      There is most definitely a hierarchy of speed but this is a neutral concept and not a value judgement. I think you are also very mistaken in your suggestion that older people are necessarily slower.

      “owing their “superiors” the consideration of getting out of their way.”

      I do not see a single commenter suggesting that slower riders are “inferior” to faster riders. In fact, I don’t think this is a thread about speed but rather cycling etiquette. Moreover, many of the complaints on this thread can apply to less-experienced cyclists who are often both fast and young (but perhaps a little slower overall than a grizzled veteran).

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      • JRB March 15, 2013 at 11:14 am

        Agreed. I think that a lot of the advice regarding “etiquette” is aimed at ensuring that all riders share the road considerately, regardless of age, the speed at which they ride, or the clothes they wear. I am far from the fastest or youngest rider on the road, but I am faster than some and I try to be considerate when passing others, i.e. not shoaling even when I know I am faster than the rider ahead of me, waiting until the main traffic lane is clear, taking that lane to pass and giving a wide berth. I hope the many riders who pass me, extend the same courtesies.

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  • Arem March 14, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    “Within every cynic lies a disappointed idealist.”
    The unfortunate reality is that few enough riders will see this advice, take it into consideration and put it into practice out on the roads and the pathways across the city. The fair-weather riders usually end up feeling like more of a nuisance partway through the summer. I usually add it up to an inconsideration of others, grumble to myself, then try to get around/away from them and go about my own pace/business.

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  • Mike March 14, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Can someone please put all these helpful pointers in a book or something because I would hate to unknowingly be uncool when trying to improve my health. Or is it ok to ride just for exercise in portland. Please fill me in. See granpa, THAT is sarcasm. Don’t justify the elitist behavior here, it isn’t productive and it is as annoying(if not more so) as the people you are complaining about.

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    • dan March 14, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      Yeah, that’s one way to look at it. Or you could say that refusing to adhere to generally accepted standards for how cyclists share the road with each other makes you sound kind of spoiled.

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    • Shoalolo March 15, 2013 at 12:34 am

      It’s OK to ride for exercise. But if you refuse to ride safely and considerately, just please take your constitutional at sometime other than commute peak, on some routes other than key commute routes. Salut.

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  • was carless March 14, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    I’d like to offer a caveat for shoaling:

    It is ok to shoal flip-flop wearing overweight tourists on cruisers, but only if they have tassels hanging off the handlebars.

    But only if you aren’t also one.

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    • Shoalolo March 15, 2013 at 12:27 am

      Is it even possible to shoal someone who never stops at traffic controls? (It’s just too hard to get going again, dontcha know.)

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  • granpa March 14, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    On the hawthorn bridge yesterday I noticed the woman in front of me was was not tracking straight or riding confidently. I hung back and made sure not to surprise her when there was room to pass. She noticed and thanked me. The point is that it is not just fair weather riders who shape the character of bike traffic.

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  • Erika March 15, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Forgive me if somebody already mentioned this (there are so many comments to check through!): I hear a lot of “us and them” language in this conversation and I am motivated to provide a friendlier perspective.

    We are people on bikes, not people in cars, and we have ample opportunity to initiate conversation on the street if these things are bothering us. It might seem uncomfortable, but how about telling the other person that her move made you worry for your safety, hers, etc.? Besides, I have a feeling that “they” who these comments are targeted toward are unlikely to be reading bikeportland.org :0)

    Further, I know that I, a year-round bike commuter, still sometimes make a move in traffic that I regret for how it may have surprised or annoyed my fellow road-users. Chances are I made a last minute decision that prioritized my safety, and in those cases I will throw up a wave or voice an apology.

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  • Jim F. March 15, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Amen. I almost dread the onset of nice weather for this reason. Love everyone out there on bikes, but the cluelessness of people is sometimes amazing.

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  • David March 15, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Coming over the Broadway bridge into downtown, use the bike box at NW Broadway and NW Hoyt!! Don’t line up single file in the bike lane at a red light. Turns out there are other people riding behind you, and some of those people want to turn right! Here’s the intersection: http://i.imgur.com/YEWmCQr.jpg

    PS: Does anybody know why this is the crappiest bike box ever, and not even green?

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    • are March 16, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      the reason it is not green is that when they were first putting these out they left a few unpainted so they could get data on whether the green paint made any difference, and apparently it didn’t, at least at this intersection.

      the reason it is crappy is that there is a forced right turn lane in the next block and a lot of motorists are turning right at hoyt, so there is no reason on earth for there to even be a bike lane on the descent from the bridge, especially considering all the debris that gets pushed over there. whenever possible, i take the lane all the way down this hill, and if there is a red light at the bottom i wait in line behind whatever cars might be there.

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  • random_rider March 15, 2013 at 10:17 am

    A lot of the comments here are valid safety issues and ones that I deal with while commuting all year. Yes, less experienced riders are more likely to be unaware of some of the finer points of etiquette, but it often is the more experienced ones who commit some of these discourtesies. For example, I’m much more likely to be buzz passed by someone who rides year-round than a fair weather rider.
    The point I try to keep in mind is that we all have a self-interest in encouraging occasional riders more frequent riders and drivers into occasional riders. Studies have shown that more people on bikes leads to greater safety and that, fewer people in cars is safer, healthier and cheaper for everyone.
    So, cut the newer riders some slack. If they do something that is a genuine danger to themselves or others, see if there’s a way to politely inform them in a way that sounds encouraging and helpful rather than scolding and condescending. If they are simply slow and an inconvenience, be patient, polite and don’t do anything that makes them even more uncomfortable and pushes them off the road and back into a car.
    Please be especially patient and understanding of young riders. They are the ones who are most easily influenced by others behaviors and attitudes. They are also the ones who will be making the decisions and paying for our infrastructure in another decade or so. When I’m riding with my kids I’m teaching them to learn and follow the rules of the road and imprinting on them that this is a fun and practical activity. They might not be perfect at keeping a straight line and pace, but they’re learning. Buzzing us or even yelling (yes, these have happened) when they’ve done nothing to endanger you is really not cool, especially if it’s on a neighborhood greenway rather than a busier road.
    Lastly, riding in wet weather without a rear fender is an anti-social act (I had to get one pet peeve in there).

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    • spare_wheel March 15, 2013 at 10:51 am

      “For example, I’m much more likely to be buzz passed by someone who rides year-round than a fair weather rider.”

      Rude riders who buzz cyclists can be a problem, especially on a crowded mup or bike lane. Nevertheless, I also believe that there is an issue with “relative” perception of risk. Being passed at 15 mph at a 4 foot distance can subjectively feel much safer than being passed at 25 mph at 4 feet.

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      • random_rider March 15, 2013 at 10:02 pm

        I should have been clearer, but my post was already too long. I was talking about people who pass with, literally, 12″ or less between the outside of our handlebars. I have had my elbow clipped a couple of times by someone passing me at 15+ mph on Williams. When I labeled them year round riders I only did so because I recognize them from having the same commuting patterns they do 12 months a year.
        I pass more than I’m passed, but I always try to be courteous when doing so.

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  • Ames March 15, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I have never commented on BikePortland but I am so offended by this I am taking the time. I am a “year round” commuter although I only ride about half time in the really bad months (does this make me a lesser rider?). I ride a 3 speed Linus (maybe makes me look like I’m not serious?). My point… I see serious, spandex wearing, 30 geared riders being rude and having poor etiquette as much as fair weather riders. Nobody has a corner on the market. Yes, newbies may have things to learn and experience to gain (and IT bands to tighten) but what is the experienced rider’s excuse?

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  • Tom March 15, 2013 at 10:26 am

    I was waiting with another rider at a red light at Foster & Springwater ..a hipster looking rider came around us at top speed right into the cross traffic on Foster , like no one was there (4’oclock rush hour ?) . Cars were emergency stopping , like he was playing real life “Frogger” ..the other rider and I just looked at one another and exclaimed “he makes the rest of the cyclists look bad”

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    • davemess March 15, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      I think you bring up a good point Tom, are we legally required to wait for the lights at these types of intersections? Or are the lights just there for help when it’s harder to cross. I go across this inersection weekly on my ride out to Powell Butte. Usually this is in the evening, and on the way home, traffic is pretty sparse on Foster. I really see no point in sitting there and waiting for the cross light, forcing the auto traffic to stop for 25 seconds. If it’s clear across (and I slow down a lot to check) I will dodge the triggers in the pavement and make my way across. I really see no need to wait for the the cross light unless you can’t find a gap to safely cross.

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  • Mike March 15, 2013 at 10:32 am

    This is an editorial comment. You start the article by saying you’re not an elitist. Then you divide the biking population into two groups. Then you imply that one group, the one you’re not in, doesn’t quite have a handle on the rules of the road. That makes you an elitist.

    How about you find a more polite way to begin your article? I have found that people take advice much better when you don’t start by insulting or criticizing them. Yes, there are bikers who ride like jackasses. They exist year-round. But more people bike in nice weather, so that percentage of the population becomes more common. That makes just as much sense as your two biker population dichotomy.

    While your advice is fine, your approach makes it sound like you’re talking out of your ass.

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  • pdxpaul March 15, 2013 at 11:56 am

    The best thing we can do is to talk to folks out on the road. I do it all the time. It’s OK communicate – bikes are social vehicles. Just don’t go picking fights on hills where you’re not ready to do battle.

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  • jd March 15, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Yay biking? This post and the comments make it sound like every cyclist on the road is constantly seething at the injustice of some perceived slight or other. Yuck. I’m polite to a fault, but I’m not enraged every time someone rides differently than I do. What a strangely negative post.

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    • A.K. March 15, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      Today I learned: Portland cyclists are whiny and self-important. The whole lot of ’em.

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  • Joe March 15, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    I’m not perfect, but must say be friendly if you can.

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  • Craig Harlow March 15, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    To those “strong and fearless” riders who bleat “STAY TO THE RIGHT!” when passing me:

    I also commute year-round by bike (when not on foot), and if you want me to hug the right of a bike lane so that you can pass me within the tight confines of that bike lane–SORRY, IT’S NOT GONNA HAPPEN. Take the adjacent lane, bossy-pants.

    I ride clear of potentially-about-to-open car doors, which means I OWN the bike lane…

    …unless it’s six feet wide–enough to safely ride two abreast–WITH a 3 foot buffer against parked cars–and that combo doesn’t exist (yet) in this city, so…

    …I OWN the bike lane.

    In future, you’ll know for sure it’s me, because when you once again bleat “STAY TO THE RIGHT!” when passing me, you’ll hear me reply, “IT’S NOT GONNA HAPPEN.” And I’ll be smiling. And owning the lane. And catching your image on my GoPro.

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    • spare_wheel March 16, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      i don’t disagree with your post but i object to the “strong and fearless” stereotype. it equates a strong and experienced rider with a sophomoric ninja. multiple studies/surveys show that there is a correlation between experience and reduced rate of injury. imo, most experienced cyclists are both strong and FEARFUL!

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      • Craig Harlow March 18, 2013 at 1:02 pm

        spare_wheel, I appreciate your objection and I understand.
        I was borrowing the phrase strong and fearless from Roger Geller’s now famous and widely-borrowed breakdown of major types of cyclists, spinning it off to the side of its original intent and instead projecting it onto those who imagine themselves to be possessed of some combination of greater experience+savvy+priority on the roadway, when in fact they’re boldly ignorant of the real dangers inherent in the “move over” gospel they’re spreading.
        Strong and fearless in this instance is sarcasm meant to call out those riders who are in fact brash and reckless.

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  • Wade March 15, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    wow, apparently there is a considerable amount of anal retentive vexation inflaming the mannerly soul of everyday year round commuters!!! never noticed it as I passed all of you and parked myself at the front of the line.

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  • Stoney March 15, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    This comment string has been a great read, so many different thoughts and opinions. Sans the hypersensitivity, it appears PDX bike commuters all agree on a couple things.

    try to give notification before passing as a courtesy;
    when passing, take the lane to create a comfortable buffer, space conquers all;
    use hand signals;
    pass on the left;
    Jonathan always gives ring-backs;
    don’t draft unless the draftee and drafter are riding together;
    riding, walking, or jogging side-by-side in a bike lane or on a MUP is not polite;
    staying to the right does not equal riding in the door zone;
    attempt to hold a straight line;
    if you commute during normal business commuting hours, learn your bike route and light timing;
    if you ride before dusk or after dawn, get some working lights;
    shining lights into oncoming riders may lead to temporary blindness;
    stop for pedestrians;
    wear green this Sunday;
    try not to piss off of the chumps in people-movers (they are all mad, all the time, and can do some pretty irrational things);
    shoalers will one day atone for their transgressions;
    when all else fails, exercising common courtesy seems to be the way to go;

    we are not all in this together, but we are all together out there; so don’t be a dick.

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  • w March 15, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    I spend about 15 hrs a week on the roads. I have time and friendly wave for you all! We’re on bikes; everything is cool. real cool.

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  • Chainwhipped March 15, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Umm, Yeah. The people everyone is complaining about here don’t read this blog. Take pictures. File reports. Just don’t bother the rest of us with this petty crap.

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  • Tom March 16, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I ride SE Springwater a lot …there are many small street crossings/intersections (Flavel,96,Harney, PreCast etc) when a cross car stops as its supposed to, I still give them a hands up wave …I hope they like the recognition, it does make me feel like I’m establishing a small connection or showing gratitude.
    A small peeve is the OVER polite drivers , who, when at a crossing, I have a stop sign and they don’t, still stop and wait for me to go ..its sometimes awkward. (but not a bad problem to have)

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  • Jen March 16, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    I bike year round, almost daily, and yet no matter how much I do it, I am still SUPER slow. Then add 80 pounds of kids on the back of my heavy cargo bike and even joggers sometimes pass me 🙁

    So, everyone is welcome to shoal me! In fact, whenever I stop at a light, I beg all the thin bikers on their lightweight road bikes to get in front of me. Otherwise they’re going to be stuck behind me for a long time while I try to get my monstrous bike going and then swerve across the intersection (because it’s always wobbly when I first start going).

    Also, when you pass me when riding, and you all will at some point, because, like I said, even though I’m a year round rider, I am SLOOOOOOOW, I will probably mutter at you, “nobody likes a show off” but I’m just joking & trying to make light of the embarrassing situation of crawling up a hill on my bike while my two kids ask, “Mom, do you want us to get off and walk up this hill so you can make it?”

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    • Craig Harlow March 18, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      Priceless :^)

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  • Concordia Cyclcist March 16, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Also please consider that what some people think is considerate may be seen as rude by others. Example – Heading North at the corner of Weidler and 7th the bike path ends, but one can turn right onto the bike path on Weidler. When stopped there on a red I always make sure to stay as left as I can so that others may turn onto Weidler without having to cross in front of me. I normally do this anytime there is a right hand turn that others may make, so as to make it as safe as possible for them to turn. It really bugs me when others block that turn by resting on the curb – completely oblivious that they are making someone else’s turn more difficult. I have made it a habit to discuss this when folks (most often less experienced riders) when I see it happen and invariably they think they are being polite by staying right in the line. That is, until I explain the problem with that. Most understand, but I’m normally prepared for the inevitable brush off from those who think you’re just being bossy or, frankly, don’t give a crap. Its the latter type that should just stay off the road and that give lesser experienced riders a bad rap.

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  • tnash March 17, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    my experience is that the hardcore cyclists are the rudest and most dangerous to other cyclists

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    • spare_wheel March 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      no kidding. just the other day some mohawked dude wearing a germs tshirt made fun of my bike.

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  • Justin Gast March 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Riding year round as many of us do, we know how to play the lights. I don’t fly up to lights, only to dismount, then start up again. I will cruise toward the lights – I, as many of you here, know every light well on our commute and how they operate – then find my opening to pass whoever I need to to ensure my pace on the way home.

    I do this everyday and it’s most notable when approaching the intersection of Fremont and Williams. I will slow down enough to not come to a full stop at the light. Once it’s green, I signal to the car in the right lane I’m entering and I can keep pace with the cars long enough to pass a whole group of cyclists who, for the most part, are slowing up my commute home.

    I’ve never had cyclists say anything to me, or motorists for that matter (as I don’t slow down their commute at all). I pass whoever I have to, when I have to, because I don’t like other people setting my pace for the commute home.

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  • Emily June 13, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Just one more note about the N Williams racetrack, I mean cycletrack: Just because YOU are comfortable threading the needle between another rider and a bus, inside the bike lane w/o warning, doesn’t mean they are comfortable with that. And don’t be aggressive when someone calls you on your bad behavior.

    Bad form.

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