Another memorable car/bike encounter on Williams

Posted by on May 7th, 2015 at 9:19 am

Williams Avenue-7

Not perfect. And yet…
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

A short item shared on Reddit’s community of Portlanders (also known as /r/Portland or occasionally Preddit) caught our attention last night.

It was shared by user pkulak:

After the corner of Williams and Broadway, a car was stopped in the bike lane, waiting to merge into the right auto lane. This was rush hour, when the line of bikes is so long you’re bike isn’t even guaranteed to make it through the light if you’re at the back of the line.

So what happened? Every single bike commuter just merged into the next lane and passed. Then, when the driver eventually caught up to the line of bikes, she rolled down her window and apologised (unnecessarily) to the whole line like a high school hand shake line after after a football game.

Thanks for reading BikePortland.

Please consider a $10/month subscription or a one-time payment
to help maintain and expand this vital community resource.

Just wanted to point that I see these kinds of incidents at least 50 times before I see anything negative. If you only read Preddit, you’d think Portland is the worst place to drive or ride a bike. It’s really one of the best places for both!

Now there’s a sentiment we couldn’t upvote more.

Thanks to reader Steve B for the tip.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

50 Comments
  • Avatar
    Kyle May 7, 2015 at 9:27 am

    “Just wanted to point that I see these kinds of incidents at least 50 times before I see anything negative.”

    This doesn’t mirror my experience cycling in Portland at all. It’s one speeding and/or anti-bike raging driver after another with a tiny number of apologetic folks.

    That said, it’s nice to see that there’s at least _some_ respectful drivers out there!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Eric May 7, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      You must be riding in SW.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Kyle May 7, 2015 at 4:15 pm

        SW and SE almost exclusively. I ride Tillamook greenway occasionally and have dealt with lots of speeding cut-through traffic, cross traffic, parking violators blocking the road, and some road rage from drivers.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          Dave Thomson May 8, 2015 at 6:04 pm

          Funny how you experience what you expect.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Brad May 7, 2015 at 9:34 am

    A big reason why I love Portland so much. Walking or biking in Milwaukee, WI was a whole different ball game. I swear they were going out of their way to try and hit me there.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    pat lowell May 7, 2015 at 9:34 am

    I’ve had *far* more positive than negative interactions with drivers during my many commutes and fun rides in the Portland area. I’ve also had more than one driver save my ass by paying attention while I accidentally made a boneheaded maneuver. Wish I could thank them all!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    SilkySlim May 7, 2015 at 9:36 am

    I totally agree on that positive to negative interaction ratio.

    BUT, those negatives fall into three categories, only one of which has any silver lining: purposeful intimidation (the worst), obliviousness (nearly as bad), and the oops moment (like the one above, usually all ends well and everybody learns something).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      BikeSlobPDX May 7, 2015 at 10:12 am

      Obliviousness and oops are the same cause though, right? The only difference is if the driver realizes the mistake. But there’s also a fourth — driver ignorance. I see this more often as a pedestrian — out of state drivers who literally do not know they are supposed to stop for a ped. in a crosswalk.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Matt May 8, 2015 at 8:55 pm

        I think everybody knows it…most just don’t care.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Todd Boulanger May 7, 2015 at 10:22 am

      A lot of this depends on four factors:
      – the location (inner city or outer suburb/ faster arterial land use);
      – how many bike/ pedestrian witnesses there are if an incident occurs (more cyclists = better driver behaviour);
      – how logical the roadway design layout is for cyclist movement; and
      – if the driver cycles as an adult vs. back when disco was king.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    caesar May 7, 2015 at 9:38 am

    I’ve been riding in PDX for only three months so I may not have enough data points to reach statistical validity. I ride mainly in the downtown and NW areas, occasionally into the eastern neighborhoods, and that one really hairy ride to Sauvie Island (HWY 30? No thanks). My experience is that rude / dangerous moves by fellow bikers outnumber those of cars/trucks by at least 10 to 1. I wish it weren’t so, given my natural inclination to be pro-bike and anti-car even though I do still drive a car. But I’ve seen many many more bike scofflaws and inconsiderate maneuvers by two- wheelers than anybody else.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      invisiblebikes May 7, 2015 at 10:24 am

      I see a completely different view from your “10 to 1 stat of scofflaw, unsafe or rude people on bikes compared to people driving cars”
      I ride every single day straight through DT and up into the west hills and I ride with a Gopro on at all times.

      I get footage of people driving, making simple mistakes, to completely unsafe borderline road rage driving every single day!

      I’ve actually started weeding out footage (because its so often) of all the idiotic drivers doing things like driving in the bike lane, not signaling to cross a bike lane to parallel park, not yielding to the bike lane (right turning), the crazy amount of people walking up to their cars and opening the door to get in without ever looking to see if a bicycle is approaching and so on.
      And still capture footage of drivers making egregious errors ever single day!

      You know how many people on bikes I capture footage of committing any kind of scofflaw, unsafe, rude or dangerous riding? over the last 4 months I’ve seen 2!
      Two people in 4 months doing rude or scofflaw riding, one guy didn’t stop at 2 stop signs and the other guy was speeding, bobbing and weaving on the esplanade on a crowded morning.
      That is nothing compared to the completely lopsided stats of egregious errors people driving make on a daily basis.

      That’s 80 to 1 (drivers to cyclist) I’ve even got the gopro footage to back that stat up.
      Not saying your wrong just pointing out what my camera captures… daily.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Caesar May 7, 2015 at 4:04 pm

        Not to dispute your GoPro observations, but if you’ve only seen two riders blow stop sign in four months then I just can’t imagine where you are riding. Where I ride I rarely see any cyclist stop at a stop sign. In fact, unless a car was about to enter an intersection or another similar obvious hazard was present, I can’t remember the last time I saw a cyclist stop. Honestly, no exaggeration. Weird indeed.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          soren May 8, 2015 at 8:54 am

          in the next state over “blowing stop signs” by people who bike was legalized with absolutely no impact on traffic safety. when i drive and see a cyclist “blowing a stop sign” i give them a thumbs up!

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            Mike May 8, 2015 at 9:37 am

            I do the same when I see motorcyclists splitting lanes… and people going over the speed limit in rural areas… or having a beer while driving out in the woods…

            Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          invisiblebikes May 8, 2015 at 9:59 am

          There is something that I would like to point out about that statement it is called “the Letter of the Law vs the Spirit of the Law” its a very commonly used phrase in traffic courts nationwide.
          and You’ve nailed it on the head; “unless a car was about to enter an intersection or another similar obvious hazard was present, I can’t remember the last time I saw a cyclist stop.”

          The spirit of the law is that cyclists will come to a complete stop if there are other road users present or approaching the intersection. But if there is no other presence then it is still more than safe to slow to a speed that they can stop at any moment and yet still roll through.

          This spirit of the law is why we do not have traffic cops camped at every intersection on every road because traffic laws were meant to be interpretive. Ask any traffic court judge.
          that’s why most traffic violations fall under “unsafe” or “failure to” i.e. “unsafe lane change” or “failure to yield right of way” etc. Because traffic cops can write a ticket based on their judgement of what was unsafe driving or riding a bike.

          Again, not saying your wrong just that it’s not as bad as ya think.

          Faulting other cyclists for “running” stop signs doesn’t mean they have done anything wrong, dangerous or unsafe it only means that your passing judgment on someone else for making a calculated decision that had very low risk.
          No matter what cyclist do they will never change the minds of people judging their every move from the windshields of their Hypocritmobiles. Drivers constantly judge and (angrily) criticize each other in an extremely hypocritical way. When they them selves Speed, drive aggressively, don’t stop on right or left turns (California stops) and worst of all drive distracted which are far Far worse than the things that cyclist do.

          Cyclist do not and should not adopt that mentality, if we do then we’re just like them!

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            caesar May 8, 2015 at 12:54 pm

            I couldn’t disagree more. I doubt that you would be OK watching cars routinely blow though stop signs, even if it appeared (and it’s not always the correct perception) that it was “safe” to do so. The spirit versus letter of the law distinction is indeed real in the eyes of Johnny Law, but Joe Q Public judges us by a different standard. If the goal is to gain wide acceptance and respect from our fellow motorized road users (thus making it safer for cyclists in general), obeying one of the most basic traffic laws more than we do (which is rarely) should be one of our goals. Adding a minute or two to your 15 mile bike commute because you actually stopped at the signed intersections should not be a big deal.

            The fact that an errant car will maim a pedestrian more severely than an errant bike is true but irrelevant to my argument.

            Or, lets change the laws. I’m all for the Idaho approach. But until then, blowing stop signs, not yielding to pedestrians (I see it every. single. day.), hogging the sidewalk at double walking speed, etc, etc, makes us look like the outlaws that we really are, letter vs. spirit of the law be damned.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Avatar
              soren May 8, 2015 at 3:33 pm

              “I doubt that you would be OK watching cars routinely blow though stop signs…”

              If by blow you mean slow down, look both ways and proceed, they do this all the time. And, IMO, california stopping is hardly our biggest traffic safety problem.

              “If the goal is to gain wide acceptance and respect from our fellow motorized road users…”

              First of all, getting people who bike to “obey” irrelevant-to-safety-traffic statutes written for and by motorists is an impossible task. Secondly, do you have *any* evidence that a reduction in Idaho stopping (for example) would have any impact on support for bike facilities or infrastructure?

              Recommended Thumb up 0

              • Avatar
                invisiblebikes May 8, 2015 at 3:41 pm

                +1

                Recommended Thumb up 0

              • Avatar
                caesar May 8, 2015 at 7:01 pm

                I am referring to straight-through blow-throughs, no slowing down to a crawl. The California stop (which is what most cars usually do) is something I rarely see cyclists do.

                As for evidence, I have as much as you do to back up your claim that we can’t change cyclists’ behavior – which is zero. But it’s reasonable and logical to assume that cyclists who obey the traffic laws are more favorably viewed by the community than those who don’t.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Avatar
              invisiblebikes May 8, 2015 at 3:51 pm

              Yes we should absolutely change the laws.

              But cyclists can follow ever single letter of the law and that will Not change motorists perceptions. Motorists protect their (false) rights to the death… literally.
              They will try and place blame and the focus on everything and everybody but themselves to protect what they feel is a god given right. Sound familiar? Gun nuts, Religious nuts, Californians (Just Kidding… sort of) Republicans and politicians all notorious for placing blame on others and not taking responsibility for their actions… This is what we’re up against, not each other.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Mike May 7, 2015 at 9:13 pm

        I can’t believe you only observed 2 riders being unsafe or rude. It is far higher than that unless you have selective editing.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          invisiblebikes May 8, 2015 at 9:27 am

          No I do not have selective editing, it’s because riding through DT on Broadway and the like there are only one or two stops signs and cyclists don’t run them because they are busy.

          The only time I have ever captured footage of cyclists running stop signs in a belligerent or callus manner is on green ways or side streets where there are no cars near the intersection. I’m not saying people don’t do it just that it is not an epidemic as some like to make it out to be.

          Yes I find it appalling that other riders do it but I don’t fault them for it, and running a stop sign on a greenway where there are no other road users in sight is the same as faulting a person driving a car on a lonely highway and not signalling when they turn. If there is no one else there to see it then is it needed… no.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • kiel johnson
    kiel johnson May 7, 2015 at 9:38 am

    flying u-locks are much more exciting though

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Todd Boulanger May 7, 2015 at 10:27 am

      They definitely are. That driver who had the lock thrown at them forgot that they are pretty protected in a 3000 lbs steel box (vs. a tall bike rider) and they did not have to follow the cyclists so closely at all…they could have broken off pursuit very easily.

      Throwing the lock was kinda of depart last measure other than throwing his tall bike down onto the hood. A knight never throws his sword down at an opponent unless his is quitting the contest.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Todd Boulanger May 7, 2015 at 10:29 am

        ahh typos…damn predictive spell function, curse you!

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Phil May 7, 2015 at 10:15 am

    My fifteen minutes of fame and I said “you’re” instead of “your”. 🙁

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Kyle May 7, 2015 at 10:27 am

    I don’t think you can compare the quantity of kind acts by drivers verses the negative ones. Kind actions from drivers are not going to register with bike riders like negative actions. Many kind acts probably go unnoticed. How many drivers are actively looking out for bikers? Isn’t that a kind action that we don’t directly notice. Just someone being aware not to right hook the bike riders is positive kind act, but we take it for granted. Furthermore, negative actions stand out and stick with you. When someone honks at you, yells at you, or cuts you off, it causes stress and it the way you feel about it can linger.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      stephen salter May 7, 2015 at 10:52 am

      This concept of negative experiences outweighing positive ones is also behind most drivers negative perceptions of cyclists as a group, ie. see 100 cyclists stop at a stop sign, and 2 blow through it, the 2 scofflaws will stick out in your memory and color your opinion of cyclists as a group. But in reference to what you said about not noticing kind actions I personally make a point to acknowledge and positively reinforce these actions. If I see a driver look in their mirror and not right hook in front of me, or actually stop at a stop sign because they took the time to look for bikes etc. I always give a wave and a smile, the same I do when someone stops at an intersection to let me cross, “Thanks for seeing me!” is the message. Try to keep the positivity rolling…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      El Biciclero May 7, 2015 at 11:39 am

      I like to think of a third type of action by drivers, the neutral, expected action. If a driver stops before entering the crosswalk to look for peds, or looks for cyclists in a bike lane before making that right on red, that’s regular old safe driving, not “kindness”. If a driver takes the time to look before making a right turn and avoids hitting me because they are appropriately yielding as per Oregon law, that’s not “kindness”, that’s by-the-book driving 101. If a driver sees I’m trying to make a lane change and slows down a tad to let me merge over, that might be considered “kindness”.

      My three-year-old might deserve stickers and treats for going poo-poo in the potty, but grown-up drivers ought to dependably do the expected thing and follow the law (at least when it affects other road users) without expecting special recognition for their magnanimity.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        dan May 7, 2015 at 12:25 pm

        Yeah, they didn’t seem to understand how threatening it is to tailgate a biker and lean on the horn, but the biker was also being an asshat from the get go.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        caesar May 7, 2015 at 2:49 pm

        …grown-up drivers ought to dependably do the expected thing and follow the law (at least when it affects other road users) without expecting special recognition for their magnanimity.

        I disagree. Those types of “undeserved” compliments keep our daily social interactions well lubricated. And they just plain feel nice, whether one is on the giving or receiving end.

        – When the barista hands me my mocha I say “thank you” and try to smile, even though we both know that I paid for the coffee and he’s just doing his job.

        – When I reach the end of the aisle at the First Class toilet and take that sharp left to disembark the plane, I usually nod and say “thanks” to whichever crew members are standing there, even though we all know that I paid for my seat on that flight and they are just doing their jobs.

        Etc, etc.

        We need more of that, not less.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          El Biciclero May 7, 2015 at 4:48 pm

          Well, if I did that for every driver I see not running over me, I’d be much less focused on my riding. I’m not going around flipping off all those drivers who pass me too closely, cut me off, fail to yield, etc., but if I gave a wave and a smile to every driver I saw stopped at a red light, they would think I was a little looney.

          The situations you mention all involve people that you interact with face-to-face, not bumper-to-bumper, and those folks have done something specifically to serve you, they haven’t merely failed to run over you.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Oregon Mamacita May 7, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Why isn’t Bike Portland discussing the incident where the U-Lock was thrown at the car near the Hawthorne bridge?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 7, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      Just haven’t gotten to it Oregon Mamacita. And I’m not sure it’s something I feel like posting. Been through that type of thing so many times here over the years. Is people getting mad at each other out on the road and doing things they regret later really news and/or worth posting? I feel like it’s getting plenty of attention on The O and at other outlets.

      Happy to hear your reasons why I should make that story a priority.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        gutterbunnybikes May 7, 2015 at 4:03 pm

        I’m more surprised to see no coverage for 7bikes7wonders. You trying to hunt pack numbers low?

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Caesar May 7, 2015 at 4:13 pm

        I think you should run it for the sake of balance. It seems to me that there have been several recent stories describing car versus bike incidents where the car was or was presumed to be at fault. The u-lock incident would be an interesting reversal of the usual dynamic. Pity that a duck was not somehow also involved – that’d be a no brainier.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        meh May 8, 2015 at 7:11 am

        That’s a cop out. You do a disservice by not turning a critical eye inwards. No one is perfect and by ignoring the misdeeds of cyclists while highlighting those of other groups you are not serving the community, it just becomes pandering. Everyone needs to be called out when appropriate

        Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Avatar
        Oregon Mamacita May 8, 2015 at 10:23 am

        The article would be an opportunity to discuss macho biking, for the bike riders to discuss our own responsibility when we are on two wheels. I note that this is yet another male biker attacking women drivers. There is no way the guy on the tall bike would have engaged a male, especially one in a bigger car or truck. If I were you I would get out in front of stories and establish my own narrative. This story got a huge number of hits on Oregonlive. You appear to be avoiding it because it involves bad biker behavior, and BP tends to be very biased against a person behind the wheel.
        The driver is always wrong- until it’s your Subaru…..

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Michael May 7, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    I agree – there should be some statement about it – since its a pretty obvious and egregious example of a cyclist behaving badly; which has already been used by the Oregonian and other outlets, as you (Jonathan) point out. Being silent about it allows them to control the narrative. and allows them to point out, correctly, that BP is not balanced in its coverage.

    Acknowledge that it was an example about a cyclist behaving badly and it takes away their fire, and then use the opportunity to re-frame the discussion to points that matter to other cyclists (such as safety).

    And I say this as someone who has always used a bicycle as my primary form of transportation (well, that and walking).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      gutterbunnybikes May 7, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      And really what good would that do?

      Really the incident isn’t even news,it is an interesting picture. Had there been no picture this wouldn’t have been news.

      Just like everyone else I’ve been yelled at, flipped off, had stuff tossed at me, and been intimidated on the roads – both while riding on a bicycle and while driving a car.

      And I’m sure at times my behavior on or in either vehicle has come across that way to someone else, even at times when I didn’t have any intent or realization that I was doing such things, (I freely admit to yelling and flipping off other road users when I feel it’s appropriate).

      There is no need to apologize or bicker over anyones behavior but my own be it on a bicycle or a car.

      Bad behavior in a car or on a bicycle really isn’t new – or news.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        canuck May 8, 2015 at 7:13 am

        It is news, since besides an interesting picture it could be construed as assault with a deadly weapon.

        Would you shrug off a picture of a driver throwing full can of beer at a cyclist???

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          gutterbunnybikes May 8, 2015 at 7:58 am

          It’s happened to me a quite a few times over 40+ years of riding bicycles (though not here in Portland), didn’t press charges. One time it was an unopened can of beer which didn’t explode when it hit the ground, made for a nice refreshing – though warm, stop about an hour later when I took a break.

          Last time I actually fell of a bicycle was about 20 years ago when a passenger blew an air horn within inches of my ear as they passed.

          Never once thought about pressing charges, even if I did nothing much would have come from it.

          And I didn’t then and never have considered the behavior of these very few instances (considering I’ve easily ridden a bicycle along the side of 100,000’s of cars) representative of the driving population as a whole.

          Do anyone of you that drive (most of you) feel the need to apologize for those kids in rural Indiana that blew the air horn in my ear? I didn’t think so.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    pruss May 7, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    as a driver who lurks around this board, i’d offer there’s no need for BP to make any “statement”….frankly i find BP coverage to be pretty well balanced, altho some of the comments…well….

    just b/c we have a picture, doesn’t mean we were there…both sides appear to have behaved poorly…bike rider says the bike lock toss was a last ditch effort to stymie dangerous tailgating…car says the bikers were purposely crawling down the middle of the street to slow them down and taunt them…i don’t think the physical escalation of violence is (in our cozy 1st world environment) ever really defensible…but in this case i think its really 2 sides behaving poorly, why fall prey to the desire to prolong any us vs. them construct?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      reader May 7, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      Yes, but think of the clicks!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      gutterbunnybikes May 8, 2015 at 8:01 am

      AAA and Car and Driver don’t make statements over bad driver behavior.

      Why do you feel that the bicycle community requires such a higher standard?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Bill Walters May 8, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      Also: The O image shows the riders in the middle of the _lane_, not the road. Meanwhile, _actually_ in the middle of the road is a dashed line, allowing the people in the car to change lanes and pass when safe.

      That is: It’s pretty clear the bad behavior was mutual.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Tait May 8, 2015 at 2:00 am

    One of the differences between bikeportland and the O is the latter holds itself up as a news provider. Classifying themselves that way, they have an obligation to report that which is newsworthy, not just that which they find interesting or worthwhile and relevant to a narrow topic.

    Although the fact of the matter is that I do read bikeportland because I want bike-related news (that’s hard to find collected in one place elsewhere), I don’t know that bikeportland considers itself akin to a newspaper. That distinction makes omissions of news stories (even if related to the category) understandable, and maybe even expected.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Electric Mayhem May 8, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    The bad behavior I encounter in Portland is nothing compared to the behaviour just across the river in Vancouver. You don’t understand how good you’ve got it until you go someplace much worse.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar