Comment of the week: On city streets, what is passing and speeding even for?

One of the strangest things about so much of the anger and danger on our streets is that so much dangerous driving doesn’t even accomplish anything for the person doing it.

That’s the truth that reader GB captured perfectly on Wednesday with a simple dash-cam video of a completely futile moment of dangerous driving on Southeast Powell Boulevard.

This was my experience while driving towards downtown Portland this morning…it’s a far more common experience along SE Powell, than most would realize.

The video is worth watching all the way to the end; it keeps getting funnier.

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Almost all of us who’ve used city streets by car or bike have probably had the experience of being roared past by a motor vehicle that we’ll be next to at a red light 20 seconds later. It’s one of the counterintuitive truths of traffic engineering that so many of us road users struggle to realize: in most urban situations, it’s the capacity of the roadway at the traffic signal, not the roadway width or even our vehicle speed, that determines how fast we get there.

People are probably confused because that’s not the case on freeways, where the whole point is that there are no signals. And for much of the 20th century, this country tried to apply the values of efficient rural freeways — rounded-off corners, long sight lines, multiple wide lanes, lots of passing and as much speed as reasonable — to urban road designs. As GB’s video shows, that attitude is also embraced by a dangerous minority of us when we get behind a wheel on a freeway-inspired street.

And for what?

Yes, we pay for good comments. We’ll be sending $5 to GB in thanks for this great one. Watch your email!

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Adam H.
Adam H.
7 years ago

The big mistake you make here is assuming people use logic and reason in their decisions.

9watts
9watts
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam H.

driving is all about potentialities:
I could to the mountains (4WD)
I could go fast if I wanted to (more hp)
I could haul that refrigerator home from Best Buy (big pickup)
I might want to go up to Council Crest when it snows (studded tires)

I could pass that slowpoke up ahead… as a matter of fact I will!

Of course, on most days I just sit in traffic and inhale exhaust…

Tomas LaPallela
Tomas LaPallela
7 years ago
Reply to  9watts

bicycling is all about potentialities: I could go to the mountains (full suspension MTB) I could go fast if I wanted to (race-light road bike) I could haul that refrigerator home from Best Buy (cargo bike)
I might want to go up to Council Crest when it snows (fat bike)

I could pass that slowpoke up ahead… as a matter of fact I will!

Of course, on most days I just sit in traffic and inhale exhaust…

Cheif
Cheif
7 years ago

The only people with bikes who sit in traffic are the people who strapped those bikes to their car.

9watts
9watts
7 years ago

That’s all very cute, Tomas, but I’m going to disagree just a little. My point was that with cars in my experience the aspirational and the actual diverge considerably. And with considerable social cost: All those millions of 4WD drive trains sucking up fuel to no good end. They never see gravel, mud, or any of the conditions for which they, ostensibly, were designed. Same with the hundreds of horsepower. We have speed limits. 100% aspirational. Or studded tires that never see ice. A thoroughgoing waste if we take an instrumental view.

Not so with bikes in my experience. Sure there are always going to be rich people who may own a vast fleet of specialized bikes for divergent applications, but for the most part I see people biking in a manner that actualizes their vehicle’s potential. And—and this was my point—no behavior that might lead one to suspect anger over the inability to realize the vehicle’s potential. There just isn’t that discrepancy between promise and actuality I see with cars. As for sucking exhaust; that part of your parody doesn’t work so well since to be funny the exhaust has to come out of *my* tailpipe, or the tailpipes of those who share my mode choice.

Buzz
Buzz
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam H.
JML
JML
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam H.

Your mistake is not continuing to challenge people to use logic and reason (rather than ego and needless, negative competition) in their decisions. It is possible for people change and use more not less of their cerebral cortex.

Marlboro Man
Marlboro Man
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam H.

The question is, how many cars were being held up by the car with the video camera? If 5 or more, the driver with the video camera could have been given a ticket – if he were on a 2 lane highway in Washington. Of course, the driver who passed should have gotten a reckless driving ticket. Oh yes, it’s true:
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.61.427

But in Oregon, the driver with the camera, SHOULD have been ticketed for driving slower than normal speed. OH YES, THE DRIVER WITH THE CAMERA BROKE THE LAW. (so did the other guy) Read ’em and weep:
http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.315

GB
GB
7 years ago
Reply to  Marlboro Man

How many? One.

GB
GB
7 years ago
Reply to  Marlboro Man

It appears you posted the “driving slower than normal speed” portion of your comment twice, please see a followup to that point further below.

Jason
Jason
7 years ago

I wonder why everyone is so impatient when they drive. I know I am.

peejay
peejay
7 years ago
Reply to  Jason

I used to be. Now, since I don’t own a car, I NEVER speed when I do drive, and I’m the slowest person on the road. I take great amusement in how people get INFURIATED with me going 30 in a 30.

Pete
Pete
7 years ago
Reply to  peejay

I’ve seen some serious temper tantrums in my rear-view mirror. It’s unbelievable how angry some people get by having to drive 25 MPH on roads with school zones.

Tomas LaPallela
Tomas LaPallela
7 years ago
Reply to  peejay

Congrats on working your non-car ownership into this reply. Bravo. I am so proud of u

tnash
tnash
7 years ago

awww

caesar
caesar
7 years ago

Tomas, it’s not safe for you to post here while driving, even though you’re stuck in traffic and inhaling exhaust, mkay?
Thanks.

tnash
tnash
7 years ago
Reply to  peejay

Same here! It’s hard to remember why I was ever in a hurry. It is funny to take it easy behind the wheel while watching other drivers pulling their hair out

Andy K
Andy K
7 years ago
Reply to  tnash

There is nothing funny about road rage. It is likely a contributing factor in thousands of traffic fatalities per year.

matt picio
7 years ago
Reply to  Andy K

There’s plenty funny about road rage. There’s also plenty tragic about road rage. when someone operates their vehicle at the legal speed limit, and a person behind them gets all road-ragey, that’s the fault of the person with the road rage, not the person in front. Yes, it’s a serious subject. Also, yes, it’s frequently funny to the person in front. I don’t think the solution is to berate the Schadenfreude reaction in this case – the solution is outreach, education, training, and social pressure to make road rage an unacceptable response to other people obeying the law.

Opus the Poet
7 years ago
Reply to  matt picio

I got into a conversation with a person who fervently believed that people driving the speed limit were dangerous because they were “in the way”. This was pretty much the same philosophy as they now-dead guy that tried to kill me back in 2001 for riding my bike on the same street but the opposite direction (I was not riding salmon, I was riding on the other side of the street and he made a U-turn through the next cut-through in the median).

gutterbunnybikes
gutterbunnybikes
7 years ago
Reply to  Jason

Actually with the realization that the road itself, traffic volumes, and traffic signals are what keeps the pace on urban streets, driving can (even in rush hour) become a fun kind of game where you try to timeout the lights,figure out what right hand lanes mover faster than the left one does (more of them than you think – like this video shows) and keep a pace where you aren’t holding up traffic, but are trying to keep your momentum (ie foot off the brake pedal).

Of course to do well at the “driving” game requires concentration and restraint, traits most people lack.

wsbob
wsbob
7 years ago
Reply to  Jason

“I wonder why everyone is so impatient when they drive. I know I am.” Jason

Stress, anxiety, and many other reasons. It would be a long list if all the reasons even could be written down in some coherent, usable form.

Bottom line is that using the road and not losing your mind, or having someone lose theirs, requires a certain temperament and disposition for the task, which some people are short on.

The driver’s license test doesn’t have much means of testing for this, which may be part of the reason that once they’ve been a model driver for the driving test examiner, the license is in their billfold or purse and they’re behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, they go right ahead and indulge in being a pill on the road.

Chris Anderson
7 years ago

I thought the point of having a car was getting to pretend your life is like the commercials (or the action movies). After all, what’s the use of all that horsepower if you never drop the hammer?

Mossby Pomegranate
Mossby Pomegranate
7 years ago
Reply to  Chris Anderson

True dat. My WRX has nearly 270 hp and it feels GOOD.

Opus the Poet
7 years ago
Reply to  Chris Anderson

My hotrod has a 430 HP engine and weighs 1680 pounds with 8 gallons of gasoline, and the only time I drive it is when I’m taking it to an SCCA Solo event or a Goodguys autocross. Usually I ride my bike or take the bus. The bike is usually more fun than my car.

But my little hotrod is a blast to drive when I’m racing.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago

Most times driving is really, really boring.

Hence the need for entertainment.

Pete
Pete
7 years ago
Reply to  Dan

I think you know the business plan when the company that makes the most money when people surf the Internet is creating autonomous cars so people can focus all of their attention on that.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
7 years ago
Reply to  Dan

Don’t you mean “infotainment”?

Blake G
7 years ago

True story. Today I was passed by a speeding car on the hill on Interstate (going NB). I passed him just before Killingsworth….on my motherquaxing bike. Lol people, come on.

davemess
davemess
7 years ago

Michael I think you could make a lot of the same arguments about cyclists passing other cyclists. Often we are then both held up at the same light after a pass. But often the cyclist you pass may be turning off before the next light, or may not make the light, or may be okay with you being in front of them starting the next light.
How many times have we heard complaints on this very site about sketchy passing on the Hawthorne bridge?

(And in no way am I defending that drive. They did a stupid thing there).

Eric
Eric
7 years ago
Reply to  davemess

PBOT should really work on priority signals for cyclists and pedestrians. The city claims to want to increase active transportation mode share, but when you actually ride any of this infrastructure, you’re constantly stopping for no reason (Moody) and often made to wait longer than motorists.

(The sidewalks on the Hawthorne bridge are not a cycle track. They are barely wide enough as sidewalks.)

Eric
Eric
7 years ago
Reply to  davemess

What is the hand signal for “Stop tailgating. Now I have to slow down to match your following speed.”?

Opus the Poet
7 years ago
Reply to  Eric

An extended middle finger 😉

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
7 years ago
Reply to  davemess

I have a saying I repeat to myself (and imagine saying to other riders at times) that goes, “don’t take it if you can’t keep it”, referring to The Lead in the imagined race that is commuting sometimes. Any time I come up behind a slower rider (slower in that moment, anyway) I ask myself whether the pain of cranking it up to passing speed (safely in the next lane over) will be worth it, and whether I could then maintain a pace that would not result in merely giving the person I just passed a “pull”. I also factor in how far apart the upcoming lights are going to be. Many times, I figure it’s just not worth the trouble to perform a macho pass, and just relax. As you say, many times the person “holding you up” will turn off (or you will) and the way will be clear until the next holdup.

When the path is just too narrow for passing, e.g., a crowded Hawthorn Bridge MUP, there just isn’t an excuse for trying to pass. On my way to work the other day, I had just entered the north end of the Broadway protected “cycletrack” in front of PSU; having been waiting at the light at Clay, I was just starting up from a stop, when speedy guy came up behind and brushed past me close enough for his jacket to flap into my elbow.

Cheif
Cheif
7 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

I like that. I ride a big fully racked touring rig, I ride in jeans and t shirts because that’s what’s comfortable, and I ride a touring bike because when I’m not commuting I’m touring, far, and I have the resulting legs. I frequently experience riders on skinny tire racing bikes decked out in kit shoal me at stoplights, just to get passed six wobbly feet into the intersection while they’re trying to clip in and get in the right gear. I rarely see an actual “fast” rider do this, they always pass me while we’re moving.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
7 years ago
Reply to  Cheif

Shoaling is a different sort of evil altogether, even though bike boxes sort of encourage it. I’ve learned not to judge a book by its cover, especially if I come up behind somebody who’s already stopped—I have no idea how fast they are.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

I’m very quick from a dead stop. But I abhor shoaling — I don’t care how slow the other rider is going. So even if I come up on another rider I know I’m faster than (after having watched them from behind), I still stop behind them, and just pass as we go through the intersection.

matt picio
7 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

Although in some situations it’s not a macho pass. Speaking as an overweight rider, I almost always pass others on a downhill. I do so safely, but there have been times where other riders have been irritated at / upset with me simply because I safely passed them going down Interstate or another road and they had to pass me later on the uphill climb to the Broadway Bridge. People take it personally when passed, regardless of the reason.

It’s human-powered transport, it requires effort. Since some of us are faster on the flats, or the hills, or the downhill, we’re all going to be passing each other frequently. Rather than adopting the “don’t take it if you can’t keep it”, I’d rather everyone adopted a “pass safely, and if you can’t, don’t.” attitude.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
7 years ago
Reply to  matt picio

Well, if it’s not a macho pass, then maybe the principle doesn’t apply. I’m thinking of those who brush past in a narrow bike lane using Sprint Power or Previous Momentum, then immediately slow down because they can’t maintain the pace, and there is no opportunity to re-pass. Or even more annoyingly—as has happened to me on a couple of occasions—someone doing their HIIT or Fartleks on my commute route zipping in front of me just at the tail end of their interval and slowing to a near stop while they are recovering. I’d like to give them a Fartlek sometimes.

So, it’s only a general principle with exceptions, as most general principles have.

slow joe crow
slow joe crow
7 years ago
Reply to  davemess

I often find myself in the situation of passing or being passed with other bikes and meeting up at the traffic light. I think mostly it’s an innocent thing where different riders on different bikes have their own optimum speed. I know I travel at a a comfortable speed for my legs and if I’m faster I pass carefully, and if the other guy is faster I leave room. It’s not all Cat 6 racing out there.
Admittedly I’m a little more pass happy on my motorcycle but part of that is the joy of acceleration and part of it is wanting clear space whenever possible. Cars are almost as stupid around motorcycles as bicycles.

Carter Kennedy
Carter Kennedy
7 years ago

By passing like that, the driver gained a feeling of zest and a momentary release from frustration. As he gets older, he will do it less. I’m not worried about it.

GB
GB
7 years ago
Reply to  Carter Kennedy

It was a middle-aged woman.

Anne Hawley
Anne Hawley
7 years ago

I can just feel the frustration of the driver in the silver car. There’s space in the road up ahead and these two clowns in the actual legal travel lanes are blocking me from filling it!

I owned a car and drove regularly for enough of my younger years to relate to that impatience. There was always that sense that somehow any blank space in the street was a) delaying me on my absolutely critical mission, whatever it was, and b) a sign of stupidity on the part of any drivers with space like that in front of them. No one ever really told me differently. My driver training was abysmal. I felt in control of my car, just like Silver Sedan does in the video, because Driver Mind never imagines a child, a pet, a pedestrian, or any other sudden change in that clear stretch of street ahead.

The scariest thing I learned in driver’s ed was merging onto a freeway, and the warnings about drunk driving. I don’t remember any emphasis on the dangers to others of city street driving.

GB
GB
7 years ago
Reply to  Anne Hawley

It’d be one thing if there was more than one car queued up back there – when I’m traveling the posted speed, more than one vehicle is my cue to do what I can to safely merge right. Although this driver acted alone – nobody was within ~2 blocks behind them, and I wasn’t interested in them getting closer (e.g. by me slowing down), nor was I interested in speeding.

I just wish driver education did a better job at teaching drivers about the effects of excessive speeds: drive a 2 mile strip at 45, instead of 35, and assuming else everything goes OK, you might arrive at your destination a whole ~1 minute sooner…was one minute really worth such behaviors, especially when Powell ALWAYS backs up this time of morning?

hat
hat
7 years ago

Be interested to get 982 CNL’s take on this.

GB
GB
7 years ago
Reply to  hat

I imagine it’d go along the lines of:
“…but…but…but, they were not driving fast enough. The posted speed is just a suggestion!!!…”

Eric
Eric
7 years ago

What is the hand signal for “Stop tailgating. Now I have to slow down to match your following speed.”?

Kyle
Kyle
7 years ago

I was passed dangerously and illegally by a large pickup truck with an angry driver on NW Broadway the other day while doing 20mph on my bike in the lane… I slowed down and gave him a good look as I slid by at the next light. I think he saw my camera at that point and kept his lips buttoned.

Cervelo
Cervelo
7 years ago

If I’m driving my car on a 2 lane road (one lane in each direction) and someone is tailgating me I will pull over at a drive way or pull-out and let them pass so they aren’t on my ass. Usually isn’t as big of a deal on city streets, but if, as stated in the video, you had been driving right next to another vehicle for several blocks, just barely going the speed limit then that would get pretty frustrating. Did you do it on purpose to piss off cars behind you? It’s called platoon driving and it does piss people off. The car that passed you was acting like an idiot and endangered other people (what if a car in the opposing traffic lane had pulled into the center lane to turn) and there is no excuse for it, BUT you should not do what you did either – platoon driving for several blocks. AND unless you’ve had your speedometer calibrated you may have actually been going less than the speed limit – my speedometer reads ~5% greater than actual speed as checked by GPS and by highway odometer test sections.

Cheif
Cheif
7 years ago
Reply to  Cervelo

The speed Limit is the absolute maximum it is legal to drive in ideal conditions.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago
Reply to  Cheif

…said no policeman ever.

But I get your point.

Marlboro Man
Marlboro Man
7 years ago
Reply to  Cheif

Not really. It is legal to go a few over most of the time – not because it says it is legal in the statutes, but because the cops will not give tickets for 3 or 4 mph over the posted limit. Thus, it’s essentially legal.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago
Reply to  Marlboro Man

Try 10mph.

stephen salter
stephen salter
7 years ago

three words… “freeway- inspired- street”

Martin
Martin
7 years ago

Did anyone get the plates? What’s the procedure for getting the police to issue a ticket? It seems there is better evidence here in this video than if a police officer observed the driving.

If drivers feared that other cars all had dashcams and they would get a ticket for their actions they would behave better.

canuck
canuck
7 years ago
Reply to  Martin

It’s called a z-cite and Joseph Rose covered how to go through the process.

http://blog.oregonlive.com/commuting/2012/08/oregon_diy_traffic_tickets_one.html

BikeSlobPDX
BikeSlobPDX
7 years ago

There’s nothing about bikes in here at all. But if this blog is expanding to commenting on the driving habits of motorists, two of my pet peeves are: Folks who drive right next to my car, pacing me at exactly my speed, and folks who create rolling roadblocks by driving side-by-side at exactly the speed limit. I was taught to always have an “escape path” for potential emergency maneuvers, and these two behaviors make me feel boxed in. If I had been the one being tailgated, I would have sped up to merge in front of the car next to me, and resumed my previous speed, and she would have passed me, and I would not have cared. Because as George Carlin said “everyone who drives slower than me is an idiot, and everyone who drives faster than me is a maniac.”

Dan
Dan
7 years ago
Reply to  BikeSlobPDX

OMG, driving the speed limit! The horror!

Paul Wilkins
Paul Wilkins
7 years ago
David Lewis
7 years ago

If you search for car crashes on YouTube, you can see endless examples of this gone horribly wrong. They’re mostly in Russia, because dash cams are wildly popular there, but the same concepts apply. I was totally unprepared to learn just how often collisions happen and how totally obvious it is after seeing so many that each and every one is caused by purposeful human action. Even mechanical failures which lead to crashes are caused by negligent maintenance.

All that being said, much worse is the collateral damage that occurs from motor vehicle operators who seem across the board to not understand physics. As a motorcycle operator, I cannot not understand counter-steer, but it simply isn’t taught to motor vehicle operators, and the proof is the countless number of square front end collisions with freeway guardrails and other vehicles.

And this one may be controversial for me to say, but here goes…

If you don’t want someone to tailgate you, your best course is to slow down and change lanes. If there are two travel lanes, and you are cruising in the left one, you are just as much at fault as the tailgater, so it’s best to break contact. As someone who drove an unarmored vehicle in Iraq for hundreds of miles at a time, through cities and the desert, I have to say that I want to see only open road in front of me and any obstruction that does not voluntarily comply could be a threat. I know Portland is not Tikrit, but any obstacle to travel that is not a traffic control device is unnecessarily impeding my travel. Today, I ride a high performance motorcycle but I ride the speed limit and in the right travel lane unless I have a specific reason to be in the left lane briefly. And I ride a bicycle if I have a short trip.

caesar
caesar
7 years ago
Reply to  David Lewis

If I am driving at the legal speed limit in the left lane, why should I move over to allow someone else to pass me? They are, in effect, breaking the law by traveling over the speed limit. So why am I obligated to enable them to break the law?

I get it that many states it is illegal to drive in the “passing lane” and to impede faster traffic approaching from behind. But the logic of that escapes me.

Cervelo
Cervelo
7 years ago
Reply to  caesar

Because:
1) You probably have not calibrated your speedometer and you may be going slower than it indicates.
.
2) Say you were the driver in the video, and say you KNEW you were pissing off a person behind you, but you kept platoon driving for several blocks as shown in the video because you thought it was funny, and that impatient driver behind you did exactly what he did in the video EXCEPT that he had a crash killing a mom and her 2 children. Do you really want that on your conscience? I doubt it. Let them pass, realizing that they will gain very little by doing so. Be the mature one.

Opus the Poet
7 years ago
Reply to  Cervelo

City streets do not have a “passing lane” there is an inside and an outside lane, and sometimes a middle lane. All lanes can be used for travel. “Platoon” driving is legal on a city street for that reason. And so is passing on the right as in the latter part of the video.

Marlboro Man
Marlboro Man
7 years ago
Reply to  Opus the Poet

Everything you said is correct. Noone said platoon driving was illegal and I didn’t use the term “passing lane”, nor did I say passing on the right was illegal. Perhaps you missed the point.

My point is, why risk being the cause of an accident by infuriating the driver of the car behind you? If you see they want to go around you, allow them to do it.

The only person who broke the law in the video is the one who used the center lane to pass. That driver was mad because the driver with the video cam had been dawdling along doing exactly the speed limit FOR SEVERAL BLOCKS. The driver with the cam probably did it on purpose and his actions could have resulted in a serious accident. It ain’t worth it – let the dip stick pass. Be the mature one.

Anthony Avery
Anthony Avery
7 years ago
Reply to  Marlboro Man

I’m sorry, I don’t follow your logic, could you expand on it please?

Driver A is obeying the law, driving the speed limit in the left lane of a city street. Driver B is in the right lane, driving the speed limit. Driver C is breaking the law, driving over the speed limit, and arrives behind Driver A and unable to pass. Driver A is unwilling to perform a dangerous maneuver by slowing down to get behind Driver B [dangerous not only because of the change in speed, but because anecdotally my experience says doing so will result in Driver C passing at high acceleration on the right, thus nullifying Driver B’s attempt to appease Driver C and still resulting in dangerous maneuver by Driver C], nor willing to break the law while driving dangerously by speeding up to get in front of Driver B. Driver C decides to further break the law by traveling and passing in the center turn lane, and hits someone. You’re logic dictates that the two people driving safely and legally, Driver’s A and B, are the cause for Driver C’s reckless behavior?

An analogous example of this is an 8-year old asking for a beer, the parent denying his request for a beer, and the 8-year old punching his sister, then saying the parent is the cause for the violence because they refused to give the 8-year old a beer.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago
Reply to  Marlboro Man

If a driver can’t handle the emotional trauma of driving at the speed limit for a few whole blocks, they have NO business being on the road.

9watts
9watts
7 years ago

I was heading West on Division from 32nd to 10th this afternoon. A fair number of cars were heading West as well. The stretch is pretty much all downhill. I don’t have a way of determining my exact speed, but I imagine I was going about 15-20mph. Every single car passed me, only to slow for the queue at the next light (there are maybe four or five(?) lights in that stretch). I filtered forward* on the right every time. The set of cars passed me again. And the same thing repeated at every light. As we can all attest, this habit of always passing anyone-who-is-slower-than-me anywhere, including on a moderately busy weekend afternoon is endemic, an essential part of what it means to perform the role of a driver. And I will do it again, and again, and again. As GB notes, What Is Gained?

The people driving in this oh-so-familiar manner will only get to their destination seconds faster if the light timing and gaps between lights are such that I don’t keep catching up to them. In the last ten years of bicycling in Portland on arterials I would say these conditions are frequently not met. If I refrain from filtering forward I will get to my destination measurably later than I would if we’d all just gone the speed of whoever is at the front of the queue (me initially).

Some of you will point out that I could/should just take the lane. Perhaps because I learned to bike on streets and roads before bike lanes, or because I don’t like to habitually antagonize people in cars, I’ve never been one to take the lane. I think taking the lane is (still) more often than not misunderstood as a dick-move by people in cars, and since I have no objection to judiciously filtering forward I do that instead, recognizing that this can and probably does also antagonize some drivers.

* filtering forward has been legal in Oregon if it is safe since 2006; is it necessary? I don’t know, but my reasoning goes like this:

I am riding in the street. We will encounter a traffic light two blocks ahead. Five cars jump the queue (pass me) to get to the light-that-will-be-red-when-we-get-there ahead of me. When I catch up to them in ten seconds, I will have been bumped five car lengths back from the position-relative-to-the-light I held moments earlier. If I filter forward, I may regain my position. If I do not filter forward, but hang back, the additional five cars that are now queuing up behind me will also pass me before the next light, at which point I will be ten car lengths back from where I was at the start, even though we’re all waiting for the same damn light.

David Lewis
7 years ago
Reply to  9watts

I think one of the motivating factors is light timing. On that stretch of Division, that light at the Fried Chicken place is kind of annoying, especially if one ends up behind someone who plans to turn left. I always take the right lane because there is bound to be someone holding up the line in the left lane, and I suppose it makes sense to be in the left lane only if that’s what you plan to do, but the upcoming merge is confusing for a lot of people and they’d rather avoid having to merge so they stay left too.

Back to the light timing. All of that traffic engineering is a potential threat to punctuality so drivers speed where they can to increase the risk of hitting green streak, or at least I think that’s the rationale. It’s more often a matter of luck than strategy, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

I ride my bicycle home from my shop on that stretch only going East on Division, but when I go to my shop from home (Creston-Kenilworth) I always take Clinton to 12th and then jump back on to Division to CEID. Since we’re on the topic, who here loves the new traffic light across the tracks on SE 8th Ave? Where else in the World can you cross tracks on a short green arrow only to be presented with a long red light and be forced to wait for it on the tracks?

pruss2ny
pruss2ny
7 years ago
Reply to  9watts

agreed that if the lights are timed or not can become an issue:
driving in manhattan UWS on riverside where the lights were timed, i was stuck behind a slowing group of 6-8 riders who i passed when safe, only to be stopped at the next light. while waiting, they caught me, filtered, and blew thru the red light, sticking me behind the slow moving group again, and assuring that i’d get stuck at the next red…a bit of frustration w/ their filtering and blowing thru red lights…a bit of comedy at the futility of the situation…and a left turn to broadway to find more hospitable traffic.

but i find the “what is gained” attitude judgmental and useless. if someone wants to get in front of me, he might not gain any real advantage, but then again, in some situation, he might. think the d lewis comment is right…essentially if on a multi lane road and someone is on me, i don’t hold my position just b/c i’m going 25 in a 25, i’ll speed up or slow down to move over and let the person roll thru.

for all that is wasted about “reckless people on bikes” and “inattentive people behind deadly 2ton wheels,” there is a real strangeness to pdx traffic where people just seem intent to enforce their will on those around them.

9watts
9watts
7 years ago
Reply to  pruss2ny

“but i find the ‘what is gained’ attitude judgmental and useless. if someone wants to get in front of me, he might not gain any real advantage, but then again, in some situation, he might. think the d lewis comment is right…essentially if on a multi lane road and someone is on me, i don’t hold my position just b/c i’m going 25 in a 25, i’ll speed up or slow down to move over and let the person roll thru.”

If we’re talking about a single mode (everyone is in a car, or everyone is on a bike) I agree 100%. I also noted that I’m not into ‘taking the lane.’ But in the examples that are interesting to me we’re talking about cars and bikes leapfrogging to no useful purpose. The I need to get ahead compulsion combined with the habit of passing people cycling even when there is oncoming traffic makes this all rather different, and, in my view, more likely to be futile and needlessly antagonistic given the realities already discussed. There’s an perhaps unconscious macho sentiment underlying this behavior that just serves no (collective) purpose.

davemess
davemess
7 years ago
Reply to  9watts

Sure, but you don’t know for sure all those cars are going straight on the same road, some might be turning.
Many of them might not know the light timing (I’ve definitely found this to be the case downtown).
They’re going around you for the same reason you’re going around them at the lights. People just want to get around things that are blocking their path and/or slowing them down.
If they’re doing this unsafely than it’s an issue, if not, well I just chalk that up to being on the road.

9watts
9watts
7 years ago
Reply to  davemess

“People just want to get around things that are blocking their path and/or slowing them down.”

Well, sort of.
My post was meant to suggest that this is not quite as symmetrical as you’re arguing (if we’re all going straight, and for the most part we were).

Cars passing me compulsively where it does not get them where they’re going any sooner sets up a hostile, competitive atmosphere, like someone cutting in line at the grocery store or shoving past you at the queue at the gate waiting to board the plane. Its just unfriendly and unnecessary.

GB
GB
7 years ago
Reply to  pruss2ny

The “…what is gained…” comment was meant primarily to reflect upon the driver’s reckless high speed maneuvering. As I don’t believe passing in the center-lane is legal, especially at such a high rate of speed.

Whether or not this question was egotistical or judgmental, the question still stands, if not just as a lesson about high speed driving.

Frankly, when I encounter a driver like this, I often consider driving in excess of the posted speed to overtake any vehicle to my right, although I prefer to maintain the posted speed (as I tell my wife: I don’t drive slow, but I don’t speed either, I prefer to maintain the safest/fastest speed possible). This strategy seems to frustrate drivers, but then again, it seems mere existence on the road often frustrates drivers behind me – as I’ve actually been passed in bike lanes on the right too (see SE Holgate between 122nd & 92nd).

I just wish I had a camera on my bike a few years ago: upon advice from a friend, I pedaled down Hwy 26 from Portland to Seaside (pro-tip: DONT PEDAL DOWN HWY 26). After being smoked-out by countless pickups that often would /closely/ pass me, I had the luxury of casually pedaling past each (all?) of them about 5 miles outside of Seaside – as traffic had backed-up to a standstill, but the shoulder remained clear 🙂

Kyle
Kyle
7 years ago
Reply to  9watts

In my opinion and personal experience it is safer to take the lane on narrow Portland streets where parked cars are present. Not only do you risk pedalling in the door zone, but merely being *to the right* encourages drivers to squeeze by inches to your left to pass while oncoming traffic is present. And I’ve found that I’m passed even if I’m riding at or slightly above the speed limit – it seems most drivers around here have a mentality along the lines of “must pass all bikes… because bike!”

Sadly, on a slightly different note, I’ve had far more instances of drivers revving menacingly behind me or dangerously/illegally passing me in the past six months than ever before. It’s a significant increase with no change in my riding style. I’ve been riding on Portland and Gresham streets since I was a kid and it’s getting downright scary lately.

Brad
Brad
7 years ago
Reply to  Kyle

A couple weeks ago, I had someone pass me by driving on the Max tracks as SW 4th and Morrison only to put on a blinker at the next intersection and sit for a minute waiting for pedestrians to cross. (facepalm)

Buzz
Buzz
7 years ago
Reply to  9watts

I filter forward at the light simply because I don’t want to breath the exhaust of all those cars as they start off from a dead stop, when exhaust emissions are at their peak.

Kiel Johnson / Go By Bike
kiel johnson
7 years ago

sometimes I forget that there is an entire strategy to driving. In high school when I drove myself everyday I had an entire plan always worked out in my head. It never worked out though. Biking is just so much easier and less stressful (especially when roads are designed for bikes).

Dan
Dan
7 years ago

David Lewis
…any obstacle to travel that is not a traffic control device is unnecessarily impeding my travel…

…to the next traffic control device.

Cervelo
Cervelo
7 years ago

If you’re driving a car on a road like the one in the video (4+ lanes) and someone is tailgating you, and you are platoon driving next to another car, slow down or speed up, move over, and allow them to pass. Who cares? Just think: “What an idiot”. Let them go. It isn’t worth pissing them off.

By doing this, you will eliminate pissing off an immature and/or angry driver who may do exactly what was shown in the video which could have ended up killing or maiming an innocent person. It isn’t worth it.

Sam
Sam
7 years ago

The same annoying and dangerous behavior exists with in the cycling bubble too. Think about the speed demons on Vancouver/Williams bike lanes. There are so many spandexed and/or bike-punk racers swinging wide into auto traffic or wedging themselves through on the other side for no other reason than be the first in line at a the Prescott red light. Bike lanes are for transportation not racing. (That’s right, I’m that crotchety old guy. Now, GET OFF MY LAWN!)

TJ
TJ
7 years ago
Reply to  Sam

Without arguing cyclist can too practice unsafe behaviors, not everyone passing you in spandex or speedy-demon-punk-attire is racing you. I dislike the stereotypes — including the one you prescribed to yourself.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago
Reply to  TJ

Some of us in spandex are just riding a lot farther than you. You never know.

PNP
PNP
7 years ago

Yesterday, I was headed east on 84, in the right lane. I was motoring along at the speed of traffic and picked up a raging tailgater. She was ranting and shaking her fist in the air and just acting nuts. Next thing I knew, she changed over two lanes, sped through traffic, cut off a couple of cars and changed lanes so that–bingo!–she was in front of me. Big whoop. Not going any faster, but hey, she was a car length ahead. It turned out that she took the same exit I did and I passed her on Glisan. All that crazy driving, and for what?

Skid
Skid
7 years ago

So why is the driver “pacing” the car in the left lane? If you are going to travel at the same speed as the car in the right lane, get in the right lane. Left lane is for passing, and getting over for left turns. It is not so you can be some self-appointed “speed captain” regulating everyone to travel at the speed you are going.

Fallaballa
Fallaballa
7 years ago
Reply to  Skid

i don’t think Powell has a “passing lane” and a “travel lane” in the middle of the city…

Skid
Skid
7 years ago
Reply to  Fallaballa

Pretty sure “slower traffic keep right” is universal. If you’re going the exact same speed in the left lane as the car in the right lane then you are slower traffic and you should keep right. That’s why when you’re on your bike even though you can take the lane you cannot impede traffic behind you if you have the opportunity to safely allow them to pass.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
7 years ago
Reply to  Skid

The question is “slower than what?” The standard is “the normal speed of traffic”. What is the normal speed of traffic if there is “platoon” of cars going the speed limit, and one loser trying to pass everyone? Driving in excess of any posted speed limit is “prima facie” evidence of violation of the basic speed rule, and should therefore be considered “not normal”.

Granpa
Granpa
7 years ago

Commuting on route 43
There is something that fills me with glee
The thing that I like
When riding my bike
is when cars go more slowly than me.

Nancy
Nancy
7 years ago

I don’t disagree with you but in the first part of the video you were driving on the left. If you are driving more slowly you should be on the right. a lot of traffic problems could be avoided if everyone drove on the right unless they were passing.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago
Reply to  Nancy

Not in the city.

Cervelo
Cervelo
7 years ago
Reply to  Nancy

I don’t see a problem with driving in the left lane – I prefer it because it is less likely that someone will pull out in front of you from a side street than if you are in the right lane, so I think it’s slightly safer. Also, less likely that you’ll hit a pedestrian coming out from between the parked cars, or out the door of a parked car. BUT if someone is tailgating you for SEVERAL BLOCKS, then it is rude not to get out of their way, and it increases frustration as shown in the video. Just get in the right lane and let them go by. Who cares? Be the mature one.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago
Reply to  Cervelo

If someone is tailgating you it’s rude to not get out of their way? Gosh that sounds like Stockholm syndrome.

When some tailgates me I like to gradually go slower and slower, until they finally figure out the game and go around. Sorry, I don’t go out of my way to encourage tailgating.

Cervelo
Cervelo
7 years ago
Reply to  Dan

Remember your attitude when the tailgater gets so frustrated that they cause a fatal accident. That attitude will make it all better.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
7 years ago
Reply to  Cervelo

While it may be in everyone’s best interest to let immature/impatient/emotionally unstable road users get as far away from you as possible by allowing them to pass at the earliest safe opportunity, I would take issue with who ought to be declared “rude” in a situation where tailgating is taking place. Even if someone is going under the speed limit, tailgating is always rude. If someone is going to be rude by tailgating, should they really expect respectful, accommodating treatment in return?

Marlboro Man
Marlboro Man
7 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

Noone would ever claim that tailgating isn’t rude, but purposely obstructing traffic by platoon driving, while perfectly legal, is also rude and could result in a serious accident.

Support your comment by stating that you would not feel bad, if you had knowingly frustrated a driver by platoon driving FOR SEVERAL BLOCKS, and the frustrated one passed illegally, crashed, and killed someone. If you can do that, YOU WIN.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
7 years ago
Reply to  Marlboro Man

“Noone would ever claim that tailgating isn’t rude…”

Well, there you go. That’s all the support my comment needs; that’s all I’m saying. In fact, I prefaced my comment with saying that it would be in everyone’s best interest to move over at the earliest safe opportunity to let an aggressive, rude, tailgater succeed in his/her bullying efforts to brush others aside and get on with their mission of endangering the general public.

But since you brought it up again, I’m not going to take the blame for anyone’s inability to deal with the stress of operating a vehicle on the road, especially if they feel they have no recourse but to pull dangerous stunts to save themselves no time whatsoever.

“…purposely obstructing traffic by platoon driving, while perfectly legal, is also rude and could result in a serious accident.”

Who is the judge of what anyone is doing “purposely”, and why would safe, legal driving ever result in a “serious accident”? So-called platoon driving is often merely a result of having traffic signals that cause cars to bunch up and all start driving together. Sure, it might be passive-aggressive if someone intentionally drives in a way to block the progress of others for no other reason than to block their progress, but how would anyone know whether someone was doing anything intentionally? An aggressive, irrational driver will invent any reason to blame others for “being in the way”, and will drive aggressively and dangerously regardless of others’ motivations.

Marlboro Man
Marlboro Man
7 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

Not only is tailgating rude, it is illegal in Oregon.

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS/police/tailgatingbro.pdf

Best plan is to get out of their way so they don’t rear-end YOU.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago
Reply to  Marlboro Man

Is it rude of me to drive at the speed limit on a single lane road in the city? I’m a platoon of one. Maybe I should get out of the way?

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
7 years ago
Reply to  Dan

This concept is one I find fascinating in many roadway contexts; the notion that “well, it could be [different in some way that would cause one to act differently]”. I think it all relates to the feeling of being beset by unrealized potential, imagined lost “opportunity”, or perhaps a gamble that didn’t pay off. Racing to the next stop light is gambling. Not being able to speed is unrealized potential. Not finding a gap suitable for passing is a lost opportunity to realize the potential of one’s vehicle to gamble with stop lights. When these things happen, I think many folks feel like, “I’m losing! I’m losing! I’m missing out!”

Not to hijack your idea, but I notice this a lot with drivers’ notion of their “right to pass” when I am positioned as, say, a motorcycle would be, and doing the same thing a motorcycle would be doing, e.g., traveling the speed limit (or slightly above) or stopped at an intersection signaling a turn. Motorists will do crazy things to pass me that they wouldn’t do if I was behaving exactly the same way, but with a different vehicle. I think they imagine they can’t stay behind a mere bicycle because they must be “losing” if they do.

Marlboro Man
Marlboro Man
7 years ago
Reply to  Dan

If you aren’t going far, then I don’t see a problem with being a platoon of 1, but if you are going quite a distance, and particularly if you know the person behind you wants to pass, then I’d pull over to the curb and let them go. At least they would not be on my rear where they might hit me if I have to stop suddenly.
.
On 1 lane roads outside of town, for example Germantown, if they are tailgating me I pull into a driveway or wide spot and let them pass.
.
If you are going up a steep hill with 1 lane it is illegal in some places to NOT pull over and let people pass if there are 5 or more of them behind you. Typically this is a problem on steep one lane roads.

Marlboro Man
Marlboro Man
7 years ago
Reply to  Dan
q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago

I was listening to a story on Google selling their own slow driverless car and it hit me finally:
Everyone of these self driving cars runs on LIDAR and video cameras. There might have been 4 collisions but they have the hard evidence to prove they weren’t at fault for any of them.
Even at 10% market saturation autonomous vehicle systems will put so many vehicle cameras on the road that odds are very good that very soon there will be video of everyone of these dangerous interactions.
Google will very likely “gameify” the sharing of video your vehicle recorded of the public space outside your private vehicle cabin. I can easily imagine Google offering a service that collects all video that “witnessed” an incident, processes and synthesizes a 3D video model for police to “walk through” afterwards.

Very very shortly self driving cars are going to unintentionally force human drivers to be better.

Paul
Paul
7 years ago

I suspect many drivers apply the “freeway” model to any surface street of 4 lanes or more. I try to “stay right” for that reason. The two-way left turn lanes seem to be a popular “passing” lane also.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago
Reply to  Paul

I take it you’ve never driven in town behind a bus.

Marlboro Man
Marlboro Man
7 years ago

In Oregon, the driver with the camera, SHOULD have been ticketed for driving slower than normal speed. OH YES, THE DRIVER WITH THE CAMERA BROKE THE LAW. (so did the other guy) Read ’em and weep:

http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.315

Pete
Pete
7 years ago
Reply to  Marlboro Man

“I couldn’t move right, as I was already traveling at the posted speed, and there was already a car in the right lane.”

Reading goes faster when you don’t sweat comprehension.

GB
GB
7 years ago
Reply to  Marlboro Man

Interesting perspective, but your opinion seems to ignore the language of the law, in particular “… if the person is operating a vehicle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions…”

Oregon’s “basic speed law” generally operates under the concept of an “absolute” speed limit, which basically means the posted speed is the maximum speed allowed by law, and therefore the maximum legally permitted “normal speed of traffic”, traveling in excess of a posted speed is prima facie evidence of breaking the law.

Here’s the language of ORS 811.105: “…Any speed in excess of a designated speed posted by authority granted under ORS 810.180 (Designation of maximum speeds) is prima facie evidence of violation of the basic speed rule under ORS 811.100 (Violation of basic speed rule)…”

Even if Oregon didn’t recognize an absolute limit, which vehicle gets to establish the “normal speed of traffic” for that point in time? Would it be the lone reckless driver that passed in the center-lane? Or the four other cars within roughly a one-block radius of that center-lane passer? Would it be the car to my right, the car behind that one (not tailgating), my car (which was actually passing the car to the right (just not apparently doing so swiftly enough for the center-lane passer), or the car that was 1-2 blocks behind the reckless driver?

Even ignoring Oregon’s basic speed law, I believe a reasonable person would conclude, that the “normal speed of traffic”, is the speed (at or under the posted limit), at which all non-aggressive vehicles were moving. Since tailgating is considered an aggressive driving behavior, the speed of the center-lane passer is by their own behavior, disqualified from being considered as part of the “normal speed”.

As for existing in the left lane: I was passing the car to my right, but I wasn’t willing to exceed the posted speed doing so, which apparently means that passing at a legal pace didn’t satisfy the center-lane passer.

Marlboro Man
Marlboro Man
7 years ago
Reply to  GB

You were luck THIS TIME. Next time you may get a mother and her children killed when you intentionally hold up traffic to the point that an immature, impatient driver does something like this and kills them.

At that time, feel free to cite your drivel, and post videos of the incident pounding your chest about what a good law-abiding driver you are.

Don’t reply – I’m done with your drivel.

Pete
Pete
7 years ago
Reply to  Marlboro Man

I had to give this a thumbs-up because it’s the most hilarious thing I’ve ever heard someone try to pass off as logic. Thanks for the belly laugh!

Paul in the 'Couve
Paul in the 'Couve
7 years ago
Reply to  Pete

You have to admit it is an interesting piece of anachronism in manners that probably a slim majority at least of the general public would agree with Marlboro Man than anyone even accidentally blocking traffic and preventing speeding on a multilane road, even in dense suburban / urban light to light traffic, is being rude. In what other area is it considered bad manners to obey the law and even bad manners to not conscientiously get out the way to allow others to break the law, drive recklessly, and dramatically increase the danger they pose to everyone else on the street?

This is a sign of how car headed our culture has become. I was observing mini-van mom’s hurrying around Vancouver as I drove some hardware errands today. Driving 10mph over the speed limit, passing me, and then I repeatedly caught up with them at light after light. I get it though. The time table in one’s head: I’ve got 1 hour to run this errand; or I’ve got 10 minutes to get to pick up at school. So focused on meet a time frame.

The heart of the problem is that in any mode of transportation prior to automobiles, the limitations of hurrying were readily apparent. Hurrying on a bicycle? Yeah, you can speed up, but you gotta work for it, and you’re only going to go so fast in the end, and the overall risk you present to the world around you is moderate. This is even more true for walking. Even horseback there are very real limits, you can only push a horse so hard.

In cars, if we feel just a bit in a hurry, it is so simple and easy to step a bit harding on the accelerator. We can go way faster than we need to, way faster than safe for the streets we are on, and it isn’t hard to do at all. We really need, at the very least, cars built for cities, small, light, and max speed of 45 mph – like smart cars. And I’m saying that as a guy that when I drive, I drive a heavy 3/4 Ton Suburban. But hey, when I drive 30 in a 30mph zone, I don’t really care how close people tail gait me.

GB
GB
7 years ago

I could have sworn I saw a request in this (or a related) thread asking about what type of camera was used. Since I’ve also received emailed requests for details, I’ll just followup here.

When I purchased my dashcams a few years ago, the Mini 0803 was the most recommended camera. I can’t recommend that one anymore, as the market has been flooded with fakes and imitations, and its becoming increasingly difficult to discern differences.

For making a purchase these days, I recommend going with whatever is listed by Techmoan: http://www.techmoan.com/what-is-the-best-dashcam/ He had a solid excellent recommendation when I purchased mine, and because changing market conditions don’t permit a recommendation for the same model anymore…I’d trust whatever his new/revised recommendations are.