Reader Mail: New rider disappointed by ‘rude and dangerous other cyclists’

Posted by on July 21st, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Blue light bike signal NE Oregon and Lloyd-2

How can we promote polite pedaling?
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s been a long time since we reached into the mailbag and pulled one out to highlight here on the Front Page.

Today’s email comes from Rachel J. She got in touch with us last week to share her impressions as a new rider:

Subject: New to biking, disappointed….

So I just started commuting to work. Its a 20 mile round trip commute, and I have never biked in a city before. I’m still getting used to the signs and routes. I read up on the laws, visited this site, got gear, maps and books. I consider myself as prepared as I could be for a new cyclist. I was worried about other cars, but I was not prepared for how rude and dangerous other cyclists would be.

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I have had multiple instances where I suddenly see a sign in front of me that tells me to change lanes or speed, and just as I do so I have someone whiz by without a warning and shout obscenities and harsh words that I did not do it sooner.

I am regularly shocked at how fast these guys (my own data gathering seems to indicate it is done by 99.9% men, which is surprising and disappointing) whiz through children and weave in and out of groups of kids right by OMSI despite the warning signs to slow down. (A few places on SpringWater trail I’ve been grossed out by gas powered scooters that foul up the air and reek, again despite signs that clearly state no motorized vehicles.)

I’m glad I started by driving in Portland or I would have thought the city was full of assholes.

My point is, I don’t want to give up cycling… but is there something I can do to promote polite cycling? Is there a best practice for interacting for these people, or a way or reporting them?

I’m always fascinated to hear the perspective of new riders. Their experience can shed important light on how we’re doing as a biking city. We talk so much about inadequate infrastructure and scary driving behaviors — but here we have someone whose biggest problem is rude behavior from other riders.

I’m sad, but not surprised by Rachel’s email. As someone who rides slowly on a big and heavy upright bike, I can relate to her feelings. There’s a lot of poor decision-making out there — especially on our central city bikeways that tend to be crowded during peak times.

So… What would you tell Rachel to keep her spirits up and convince her to not lose faith in her fellow human-powered commuters?

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

253 Comments
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    LC July 21, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    “I’m glad I started by driving in Portland or I would have thought the city was full of assholes.”

    LOL

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      GirlOnTwoWheels July 21, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      There are real a**hole cyclists as well as a**hole drivers. We cannot pretend that we have a perfect community.

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        LC July 21, 2015 at 4:13 pm

        Who’s pretending about perfect anything? The fact of the matter is that people behind the wheels of automobiles threaten my life constantly, repeatedly, and without any second thought. Nobody on a bike, regardless of my interpretation of manners, has ever, ever told me that, done anything to cause or acted like they wanted me to die simply because of my being in their presence. Period.

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          Esther July 22, 2015 at 11:05 am

          tee
          I encounter more unsafe women than men, during low-speed situations, but more men who will ride unsafely because they are mad that I passed them. Recommended 9

          I would love to hear more about this. I feel the opposite, that I get men pissed at me when I am riding slow(er than they would prefer), but there is nothing inherently unsafe about going slowly. For instance, a few weeks ago I was riding over the Broadway, where the construction is (was?). There was a mom and daughter walking towards me, so only enough room for them, and me – no room for a biker behind me who clearly wanted to pass. Too bad for him- I was going at a speed that I felt was safe for me as an oncoming bicyclist approaching two pedestrians in a very narrow space. He rang his bell in anger and once I passed them and moved to the right, passed me and made a snide comment about me not wearing a helmet. (It was hot out so I’d taken it off to ride over the CARFREE path on the bridge.)

          Same thing happens on Hawthorne when I am riding more slowly than the bikers behind me would prefer (also usually men) and they don’t have room to pass on my left. In extreme cases they will squeeze around me on the right, endangering oncoming pedestrians.

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            Captain Karma July 22, 2015 at 2:00 pm

            People make everything into a competition in America. I go as slow as I want, and have much more enjoyment. I don’t like to sweat, ha-ha.

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      My Magic Hat July 26, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      Drivers yell all the same things, you just don’t hear them from the inside of an air-conditioned car. The World IS, in fact, full of A$$-holes.

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    9watts July 21, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    I think a helmet mirror is key. I don’t mean to and am not excusing any of the behaviors you’ve observed, but a mirror (they take a little getting used to) will help you know well in advance who’s coming up from behind, regardless of their mode choice. This can take away the element of surprise at least even if it doesn’t do anything to calm the folks down who are being so inconsiderate. Sorry you had this experience and I hope you keep riding. Maybe it was the unprecedented heat wave that made those folks especially irritable?

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      John Lascurettes July 21, 2015 at 5:30 pm

      And until then, shoulder check! It’s really not that hard. Super easy. Oh, and how about a hand signal before one of these “lane changes” too? Seriously, she should take some responsibility for the situation she’s putting herself in.

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        matt picio July 24, 2015 at 6:42 pm

        It’s not hard if you’re able and have good balance. Let’s all realize there are a lot of riders who aren’t, or don’t.

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        Wow September 10, 2015 at 10:14 am

        Wow. You must be the exact kind of person I was writing about. You assume that I did not check my shoulder. I have mirrors on both handles. You assumed I did not signal. I do both verbally and with cars I use a horn.

        Amazing to me that my email about rude bicycles managed to just managed to make rude bicycles comment and show their true colors!

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      GirlOnTwoWheels July 21, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      I second the helmet mirror. They are really helpful if you are struggling to get a good look at what is behind you with a quick peak over your shoulder.

      I would also recommend that you keep riding. It’s hard to adjust to riding with other people, I am still worried about others hitting me or passing unexpectededly or on the wrong side even after 3 yaers of commuting. But I am less worried now than I was when I started.

      There are a bunch of people who ride following the rules and ride predictably. There are also people who just grab a bike and start riding with no thought to riding straight, following the rules or riding predictably. You have to be aware of your surroundings which is easier said than done. But with practice you can do it.

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      Lizzy July 22, 2015 at 5:33 am

      Fall off your bike and a helmet mirror can skewer you. Handlebar mirror, bell, hand signals, looking behind can all help.

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        9watts July 22, 2015 at 7:41 am

        I wonder. The one I use (here’s a picture):
        http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41%2BhUMPZldL.jpg
        Seems unlikely to do much of anything except twist out of the way if you were to fall on your helmet.
        I just bought these for my wife and daughter.

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          annef July 22, 2015 at 6:57 pm

          Where did you buy that helmet mirror?

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            9watts July 23, 2015 at 10:07 pm

            Bike Gallery

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        P Fin July 22, 2015 at 7:42 am

        Unless your mirror is made of a knife I don’t see how this is a possibility…srsly

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          A.H. July 22, 2015 at 8:35 am

          Because nothing bends narrow rods of metal, not even ~physics~

          Srsly.

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            9watts July 22, 2015 at 10:10 am

            metal? this mirror is entirely made of plastic snap-together bits.

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        longgone July 22, 2015 at 9:31 am

        Eat sprouts get e coli.

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        Buzz July 22, 2015 at 10:24 am

        Do you have any actual stats on incidents of this type? Very low risk of this, IMO. I use a ‘Take a Look’ mirror which is made of metal. It just pops off if it hits anything, never had it come anywhere near close to skewering me. The things people worry about these days….

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      colton July 22, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Helmet? What’s that? Judging by past posts I thought helmets were taboo.

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        9watts July 22, 2015 at 2:50 pm

        “Judging by past posts I thought helmets were taboo.”

        No.
        Mandating helmets;
        Lecturing others for not wearing them;
        Reifying the all-too-common habit of various authorities to register whether someone just run over was wearing one…

        Those are frowned upon by some around here. But wearing a helmet is rarely criticized around here, as far as I know.

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        Dan July 22, 2015 at 3:03 pm

        Helmet laws are taboo.

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    Tom Hardy July 21, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    My condolences Rachael J. I have sometimes encountered, What sounds like, many of the same riders.
    At the risk of profiling them, some of them do not seem to be what I would consider to be rational citizens of the Portland area. Many might be considered activists of an unpleasant group of migrant. Invariably they do not wear helmets or attire you would see on a commuter or a fitness rider. only on occasions do they wear glasses or sunglasses or gloves. They do know the streets very well and when riding through town, rarely, do I see them stop at, or even pause at stop lights or signs.

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      Case July 21, 2015 at 4:13 pm

      This post doesn’t really make any sense. If you’re going to blame someone, just do it, no need to beat around the bush.

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        Nathaniel July 22, 2015 at 9:07 am

        Agreed. This guy clearly formed his opinion from the Portlandia sketch.

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        Nathaniel July 22, 2015 at 9:10 am

        Also, who is he that he has the right to decide what a true portlander is or isn’t? A portlander is a person who lives in Portland or the Portland metro. Just because they don’t fit your ideal doesn’t mean they aren’t portlanders. Let’s all just decide that the bad elements of a group we belong to don’t exist. That would be a nice fantasy world.

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          Me July 22, 2015 at 11:14 am

          No. A Portlander is someone who lives in Portland. Vancouverites live in Vancouver, Troutdalers live in Troutdale…

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            LL July 22, 2015 at 12:40 pm

            No I consider myself a resident of the Portland Metro area even though I live in Vancouver. ‘Cuz without Portland, there’s no Vancouver. We are a bedroom community of Portland. Bam!

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          Pete July 22, 2015 at 12:11 pm

          I thought you were Portlandians now?

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        Joe Adamski July 22, 2015 at 11:32 am

        One of the best points made. Ride your own bike. Consistent, visible, predictable, legal. In time, your riding skills improve, and conflicts diminish. On or off the street. Non Carborundum Illigitimus… don’t let the bastahds wear you down.

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    Jo July 21, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    After returning from a vacation in Germany where there are many bicyclists, I saw how friendly and relaxed people can be on bicycles commuting, exercising, and enjoying riding. I sort of long for that kind of experience where in general people were very friendly.

    Daily I see people on bikes rude to other riders who may not know their way, riding too fast around pedestrians or just being assholes. I think the next step for Portland is not necessarily more bike lanes, but a change in the culture of riders to being more friendly and safe towards each other.

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      Paul July 21, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      Riding a bike in most American cities, including Portland, is still somewhat of a sport. The riding style, faster bikes, the gear… etc. lean toward the sporty and aggressive commuter type of riding. I’ve been shouted at for getting too close to other cyclists—maybe not shouted at, more like, “whoa! and heeeyyy!” and a dirty look—for getting within a number of feet of another cyclist, considered a comfortable by myself. In Amsterdam you’d have to bang handlebars, but even then people didn’t really react.

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        Emily July 22, 2015 at 10:04 am

        I had someone pass me on Williams (pre-redesign) a few summers ago. I was in the middle of the bike lane, there was a bus (moving) to my left in the lane and someone decides to thread the needle between me and the bus. I don’t think this situation is comparable to Amsterdam. When I dared to do say “hey, that was a little close” the guy spent the next block yelling at me and trying to engage in a debate about how right he was. It was scary and threatening.

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      Tim July 22, 2015 at 8:47 am

      I noticed the same thing riding in Germany. Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians all makes adjustments and cooperate to get where they need to go. Fast riders slow down to accommodate slow riders and slow riders will try and speed up to accommodate faster riders. Passing is done friendly. Cars stop before entering crossings. And, Germans are not afraid to call out those who do not conform. Just try and cross the street against the light.

      Getting along in a big crowded city requires friendly cooperation.

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    mw July 21, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Gas powered scooters on the Springwater? I’ve never seen such a thing in over a year of commuting that route, so it’s definitely not the norm.

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      gl. July 21, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      Oh, I have lots of times.

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      Spiffy July 21, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      I’ve seen it multiple times and I don’t use it as a commute route…

      I also see them on the I-205 path…

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        fourknees July 21, 2015 at 5:19 pm

        I was passed once by a motorcycle on a westside MUP along 26 – the path that connects SW Raab to SW Canyon Dr. It’s only ever happened once though.

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          Capizzi July 22, 2015 at 10:22 am

          I got really annoyed at yet another motorcyclist coming down Springwater and then, of course, it was a police officer.

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      Eric Leifsdad July 21, 2015 at 10:53 pm

      Gas powered bicycles / motor assisted scooters are allowed and would be pretty smelly as it is basically a weed eater / chainsaw engine (35cc) http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/801.348 http://www.stc-law.com/bikerightlaw.html

      Not saying that what you saw was one of those, but there are a few around. I think electric makes way more sense, but I can see the appeal of a gasoline bike to a commuter if they can squeeze almost 2hp out of it, refuel anywhere, and don’t mind the noise. Although, IMO very rude to go fuming along in the bike lane or down a MUP. Maybe we should revisit that law with max hp, noise, and emissions restrictions and perhaps make the e-bike top speed and power a better match?

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        Chris I July 22, 2015 at 7:51 am

        I call them DUII-mobiles…

        The initial cost is usually why people go the gas route. They lost their license, and they have to ride a bike, but they don’t want to work too hard or pay very much. You can get the basic gas systems for around $100, vs. $500+ for e-assist.

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    Adam H. July 21, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Have you met the drivers? They’re way worse.

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      nuovorecord July 21, 2015 at 4:01 pm

      Not in Rachel’s experience, which is what the point of this is.

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      Paul July 21, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      “I’m glad I started by driving in Portland or I would have thought the city was full of assholes.”
      Yes, she has, and apparently does not share your opinion.

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      Steve B July 24, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      Last I checked, most people are not solely drivers or only cyclists. People. We are all people.

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    lisa loving July 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    This sounds a little stoopid, but ever since I duct-taped a great big shiny pinwheel to my bike, even crabby people — especially males — are nicer to me. It’s been about three years since I’ve made a point of having one, and the weird thing is that — especially younger males — get this funny, misty, almost nostalgic look on their faces when they look at it that I call ‘pinwheel face.’ Women not so much but it wasn’t women who made me feel harassed and rushed in the first place. I put it on there because I became paranoid I would get t-boned by a car or wiped out by faster bikes (every bike is faster than mine) after nearly having these things happen. I had researched eye-track technology as it relates to websites at my job, and that’s why I put in on — more than anything I wanted to be seen. But the pinwheel face effect always cracks me up. At first I had a front and a rear pinwheel, but now I just have one. I tell people it makes the bike go faster and they often laugh out loud. Sorry about the asshats, honey.

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      gutterbunnybikes July 21, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      Love it, not sure I’ve seen yours, but everytime I see bling along those lines I’m back to 6 year old me decorating my bicycle for the 4th of July parade.

      Pretty sure I’d give you the “look” you describe.

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    zirc July 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    There’s almost nothing you can do to change other bicyclists’ behavior, so, brush it off and don’t let it get to you.

    To promote polite cycling, just keep riding politely.

    Also, this kind of behavior tends to subside when fall and winter arrive.

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      BicycleDave July 21, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      It’s true. Get some good rain gear because the rain tends to wash these types off the road. If you can, commute at off times. I work 11 – 7 and don’t see too much of this. I’ve also gotten used to it over time.

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    Alex Reed July 21, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Here’s a theory: the demographics and mentality of the riders – and therefore their behavior – is affected by the environment they ride in.

    Portland is non-dense –> long trip lengths –> fast riding –> bad behavior by some riders who are focusing on getting somewhere quickly rather than the journey (I say this as someone who goes fast sometimes!)

    Portland has bad infrastructure –> riding feels dangerous –> people who are OK with danger are more likely to ride –> more young men ride –> more anti-social behavior by some young men (I say this as a young man!)

    People biking feel in danger from cars at intersections –> they pay close attention to the cars –> they are less likely to have attention left for pedestrians or other riders.

    I’m sure there are other such factors.

    (Talking percentages here, not saying every fast rider or young man does bad things!)

    Things you can do? Personally, I try to lead by example – I make a full stop at every stop sign, yield obsequiously to pedestrians, and otherwise play nice. But probably more important is changing the riding environment – join BikeLoudPDX, the BTA, ABC, EPAPBike! Until riders feel like they’re not in the Wild West based on their own level of stress from automobiles, I think it’s going to be an uphill battle to improve the behavior of the minority of the riders who do bad things (or add so many “good” riders that the percentage of “bad” is lower).

    http://bikeloudpdx.org/index.php/BikeLoudPDX
    https://btaoregon.org/
    https://www.facebook.com/AndandoenBicicletasenCully
    http://eastportlandactionplan.org/bike

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      Paul in the 'Couve July 21, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      Thank you. Well written, fair and covers exactly the points I was considering.

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      Robert Burchett July 22, 2015 at 7:15 am

      Lights on many commute routes are timed at 17-20 mph. Many people can ride that speed, but they may be pressing to maintain it. Sometimes riders are too attached to making that next light. See: Cat Six.

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        Go-Go-Gadget July 23, 2015 at 9:23 am

        You can catch the same lights by going 8-10 mph. People just need to chillax.

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      Dave July 23, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      And, as an old man who rides a little bit fast, I’ll say that it’s better for the world to have that excess testosterone spinning two pedals than mashing one!

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    scott July 21, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Yeah because cars are always going out of their way to be courteous.

    Sorry you had to interact with people in the flesh instead of separated into giant metal boxes. Yes, people can be mean/rude.

    Wait till a clown in a convertible Porsche pulls up next to you and roasts the old, “you know, I’m a cyclist too….” chestnut. You’ll be begging for a teen to go screaming by on a bike made of carbon and entitlement.

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      canuck July 22, 2015 at 7:20 am

      The majority of my interactions with cars is courteous. At 4 way stops I can’t count the number of times I’ve been given the right of way by drivers. But I also deal with cyclist who blow through 4 ways while I stop and wait my turn.

      The majority of drivers make the effort to pass with a reasonable amount of clearance, as do most cyclists, but there are those riders who don’t provide the same courtesy when they pass other cyclist.

      Quit getting all defensive about bad cyclists, they exist, they do unsafe things, they are a hazard to other cyclists. Deflecting the conversation to drivers isn’t the point.

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        scott July 22, 2015 at 9:30 am

        I never said the Porsche person was a bad driver. You assumed that. I also never said anything about the superiority of cyclists and even quite the opposite, pointed out a crappy cyclist stereotype. Please re-read my comment. Now, on to your anecdotal experience you’ve presented as a point:

        How is a car making up a road rule any better than someone ignoring one? Not a traffic cop or a flagger? DON’T WAVE ME THROUGH ANYTHING. It makes zero sense to see one disregard of law as good and another bad. If everyone follows the rules, everyone understands the situation that much better.

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          canuck July 22, 2015 at 9:41 am

          because your opening sentence didn’t drip of sarcasm.

          “Yeah because cars are always going out of their way to be courteous.’

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            scott July 22, 2015 at 2:27 pm

            Huh?

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          LC July 22, 2015 at 11:11 am

          No kidding I hate the illegal wave through attempt at being “nice”. I don’t need help riding my bike, just follow the rules and we’ll all get where we’re going.

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      was carless July 23, 2015 at 8:34 am

      Porsche drivers? Ive always had bad experiences with BMW drivers, it seems pathological. Its to the point where I just assume every BMW is out to kill me. I also refuse to make eye contact or to engage with them for fear of provocation. Still, had one old dude run me over downtown once.

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    shuppatsu July 21, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    It sucks that you are the recipient of such rude behavior. I’ve noticed cyclists being rude to drivers, not so much other riders. I wonder if men are more likely to be rude to women? That would be disappointing, but not altogether surprising.

    I will say that a person’s perspective of what speeds and distances are “safe” and “appropriate” are judgment calls and there’s a wide range on the road. As a recent cyclist your alarm bells might be going off for behavior that seems perfectly innocuous and safe for them. I know I had that experience when learning to drive.

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    Dan July 21, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    zirc
    Also, this kind of behavior tends to subside when fall and winter arrive.Recommended 4

    Yep, that’s exactly right. Keep riding through the winter, and you will find all the wannabe Lance Armstrongs vanish.

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      Buzz July 22, 2015 at 10:28 am

      Even worse right now because these guys spend a couple hours watching the TdF and then they want to go out and hammer it themselves…

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        Dan July 22, 2015 at 12:07 pm

        So?

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    George H. July 21, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    Sounds apocryphal.

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    BX July 21, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Adam H.
    Have you met the drivers? They’re way worse.Recommended 0

    Why am I not surprised that, at some point, the writer’s point about irresponsible bicyclists is completely ignored and only their comment regarding drivers is highlighted.

    Thanks for reaffirming my faith in humanity.

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      scott July 22, 2015 at 9:46 am

      Where does your faith in the writer’s cycling skills come from? If you are weaving and steering erratically in front of me, you’re an ass. Regardless of mode of transportation choice. So here you are combating a presupposition with a presupposition. How does that work?

      Most of the points on here seem to be tongue in cheek references to cars being just as bad, which is true. In my opinion it seems like the writer simply doesn’t like cycling. It’s not for everyone for sure. Even in Copenhagen I am sure that there are people who pass you at high speed. And so what if they do? If the mean streets are too mean take the bus. Let someone else deal with the traffic.

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        Anne Hawley July 22, 2015 at 12:59 pm

        In my opinion it seems like the writer simply doesn’t like cycling.

        Please be willing to consider that your opinion might be based on a particular style of cycling, that that style is not right for everyone and that it’s not even available to everyone; consider that there are a lot of us out there on the streets of Portland every single day whose enjoyment of cycling – which is a very real enjoyment – is actually, really, truly marred by the rudeness and impatience of others.

        Some of us actually do sense that you think we’re an ass for not riding [perhaps not being able to ride] quite like you do or you’d like us to. That sense says, “Maybe I don’t belong.” And the feeling that “maybe I don’t belong” may not be something you’re very familiar with, but it’s a real show-stopper for a whole bunch of people.

        I don’t want to put words in Rachel J’s mouth, so, speaking strictly for myself, I continue to ride despite that feeling, and not because I’ve ever successfully made it go away. I read her post as basically wondering whether she could continue riding under the same circumstances.

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          scott July 22, 2015 at 2:39 pm

          I totally consider that. The point here is that saying someone is going too fast is the same as saying someone is going to slow. It’s totally relative. The whole story just feels like passing of blame.

          “It’s not me who wants to quit. I have to quit because of all the variables that I will never be able to control. It’s the variables fault.”

          I just don’t buy it. New things are scary until they are not new anymore. That is true for just about everything. For all we know the writer could be cycling at a rate that is slow enough to be dangerous to people behind her. No need to be Cippolini out there but a courteous cyclist maintains a pace that is high enough to justify path/road use over sidewalk. I really feel like the writer just got scared and is acting like that is someone else’s fault when the situation was just really banal.

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            Anne Hawley July 22, 2015 at 5:07 pm

            The point here is that saying someone is going too fast is the same as saying someone is going to slow.

            No. It’s not. The fast rider can slow down, though they may not want to. The slow rider may actually not be able to go faster. Annoyance is not the same as physical limitations.

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              scott July 22, 2015 at 5:56 pm

              I’m not on my bike to level the playing field. I’m on my bike to get to work. If the writer can’t go fast on their bike, why would they be surprised at getting passed?

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                Dan July 22, 2015 at 6:59 pm

                I passed someone on a century ride once who had a helmet mirror and a handlebar mirror and was riding dead center down the middle of a country road. When I passed him on the far left side of the road, he freaked out that I hadn’t warned him. At the speed he was riding, he must have already been passed many times. Weird.

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    tee July 21, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    It certainly isn’t my first rodeo… I notice more rude cyclists in the Summer, and I think it is just because we have more people on bikes (doesn’t make it right). I always signal, announce my passes and pass on the left (except for the rare times when that isn’t safer). I encounter more unsafe women than men, during low-speed situations, but more men who will ride unsafely because they are mad that I passed them. When talking with another cyclist recently, they suggested not showing your anger at those who riding poorly/unsafely. Instead, they suggested that if I felt like saying anything at all to make it funny. Let me tell you, it works.

    It may actually be time for an etiquette post though? The number of times I have nearly been hit by other cyclists because I am following a law that is not just the law but preventing me from hitting someone else or offing myself, has spiked recently. It does get kind of old, but maybe some of these people don’t actually know what to do? Or are we entering the age of distracted cycling as much as distracting driving during commute times?

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    patrickz July 21, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    I’m not any kind of mystic, but I decided a long time ago that for each hostile attitude I encountered while on the saddle I would have a friendly or helpful gesture where it would come handy. ( Even to people in cars) It’s one way to “wage war” against they who should know better. Happy and safe riding!

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    Mike Quiglery July 21, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    I’m glad someone has finally noticed this. In America (not only Portland) it seems that bicyclists are as stressed out as drivers. And roadies everywhere are the worst.

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      Dan July 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      I’m not a “real” roadie, but I do have a road bike (as well as a commuter), and I do crank out some road miles in the summer. I feel pretty safe in saying that anyone who can hang in a fast pace line for hours is probably _not_ the person that’s going to be a jackass on the Hawthorne bridge to save 4 seconds. When your metric is beating a pack of fit riders on road bikes to the top of Council Crest, beating out someone on a hybrid on a MUP is not much of an achievement.

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        gutterbunnybikes July 21, 2015 at 7:44 pm

        lol, but beating that roadie on the hybrid…..priceless.

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          dan July 22, 2015 at 9:32 am

          Very true! I haul a dog in a trailer many days – total weight, 100 lbs. I love trying to throw down with people like that. I gotta say, I lose a lot more than I win, but what satisfaction when I can hold someone’s wheel up a hill! 🙂

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    JAT in Seattle July 21, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    I feel for Rachael; I think we all here agree anyone who wants to cycle should be able to do so fairly comfortably. Here comes the big but (it’s in my lycra bib-shorts). Everybody cycling for transportation is trying to get to their destinations and generally most of us have an interest in getting there as quickly as practical.

    Some people ride fast and that’s not particularly safe in close proximity to those riding more slowly, and yet in pursuit of the All Ages And Abilities grail of cycling facility design Transportation Departments (particularly in mandatory bike lane use jurisdictions) are cramming the entire spectrum of speeds, abilities, and demeanors into the one bike lane/trail/path.

    It doesn’t help that so much cycling infrastructure it tortuously convoluted, unintuitive and shoehorned in to an existing street network.

    Should the speedy heedless men whiz so close by? No. It’s reckless and rude. They should be able to go as fast as they can, though, and municipal bike routing shouldn’t coral them into the same narrow rights-of-way as Rachael and children and poodling grandmas.

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    Dan July 21, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    I think there are too many people here for whom bicycling is part of their Portlandia lifestyle fantasy, not a pragmatic transportation choice. They want to be special little snowflakes who don’t have to worry about anyone else on the road while they ride their bikes. I’ve noticed on trips to Vancouver BC that the attitude there is completely different; wish we could get some of that Canadian nice down here.

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      Tom Hardy July 21, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      I have ridden extensively in Vancouver B.C. I have found cyclists and drivers not necessarily more friendly there. I have been physically assaulted by pedestrians and woodsmen in red necked sportscars. One of them tried to climb the cable anchoring a telephone pole after I passed him on my bike at an intersection. Ask me how he did it sometime when you see me.
      But this is a blog on unsavory or ill mannered cyclists. As a Roady I have paced e-bikes and mountain bikes with very strong young riders in BC.

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    Buzz July 21, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    No advice for Rachel, but I do have some advice for the time-trialers on the MUP: Slow down, get a bell, and learn how to use it. And stay off the MUP if you can’t abide by the speed limit – you belong on the street.

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      Spiffy July 21, 2015 at 4:45 pm

      what’s the speed limit on a MUP? I can’t recall ever seeing a Speed Limit sign on a MUP…

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        Buzz July 22, 2015 at 10:29 am

        Eastside Esplanade is I believe posted at 15 mph?

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      soren July 22, 2015 at 8:12 am

      as a pedestrian i find people ringing bicycle bells to be very annoying. in my experience, they are often used in a “clear out my way” manner by aggressive cyclists.

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        Paul Atkinson July 22, 2015 at 9:34 am

        It’s actually the law that cyclists give an audible warning when passing pedestrians. I agree that it’s annoying — I dislike having to do it *every* *time*, even when there’s no danger. If you want to work to get that changed, I imagine you’ll have willing help.

        814.410: Unsafe operation of bicycle on sidewalk; penalty.

        (1) A person commits the offense of unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk if the person does any of the following

        (a) Operates the bicycle so as to suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and move into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
        (b) Operates a bicycle upon a sidewalk and does not give an audible warning before overtaking and passing a pedestrian and does not yield the right of way to all pedestrians on the sidewalk.

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          soren July 22, 2015 at 10:09 am

          a brief audible warning is appropriate. continuously ringing a bell for 5-10 seconds because there is a pedestrian “in the way” is what i object to.

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          are July 25, 2015 at 9:11 am

          “on your left” is an audible warning

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    Alan Love July 21, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    “I have never biked in a city before”
    I think that sums it up. Having lived in several cities, Portland is nicer than the rest, but that’s all relative. Anytime you take a lot of people and squeeze them together, the worst of humanity comes out. Take a look at I84 or 26 during rush hour, and you will see far worse behavior. And like our biking folk, Portland drivers are comparatively a little nicer than some of our fellow Americans. Despite our complaining (which is deserved many times) here on BP, Portland is a better place to ride than many. Keep riding, Rachel.

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    chris July 21, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Sorry, but if you are merging into somebody else’s lane, the person going straight has the right-of-way. If you merge into somebody’s path, forcing them to slow down, you have essentially “cut them off” and robbed them of their right-of-way. The person going straight doesn’t have to yield. The person turning or merging yields.

    It works the same way with a car. The rules are exactly the same. New cyclists and fair weather cyclists need to familiarize themselves. I know that the majority of them have driver’s licenses, so I don’t believe they are ignorant of the rules.

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      Spiffy July 21, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      that “how dare you slow me down” attitude was very prevalent with me when I was a driver… once I gave up my car I realized that people being in the same path with you is by design, and the only time it’s unacceptable is when they pull out directly in front of you and make you crash…

      the right-of-way doesn’t include a speed… you can still be reduced to 1 mph by somebody turning in front of you and still maintain your right-of-way…

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        Paul in the 'Couve July 21, 2015 at 5:47 pm

        Agreed, “right of way” in a car or on a bike does not extend infinitely down the roadway, and the fact that one is riding or driving too fast for other traffic doesn’t grant extended right of way. When moving across another lane it is sufficient to leave enough room that other vehicles can reasonably anticipate and accommodate my maneuver. I should exercise good judgement and self preservation and try to avoid contributing to a collision, but someone is overtaking me on a MUP approaching an intersection and can’t avoid my crossing their path 2 or 3 bike lengths in front of them (when I start my turn) then any collision is their fault for riding too fast around slower traffic and approaching an intersection.

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      Champs July 21, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      There you go, imposing your petroarchial views on everyone.

      If you believe everything you read, you’d know that riding a bicycle gives you discretion to disobey an auto-centric rule if doesn’t make sense to you. If everyone does it but it doesn’t kill them all, then it must be OK!

      Here’s my list of laws for cars that don’t make sense for bikes:
      * seat belts

      Ages ago the list was longer, but I started removing “exceptions” that got me laid up with bandages, slings, or braces. Haven’t been sidelined in years, go figure.

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        Alan 1.0 July 21, 2015 at 8:45 pm

        * windshield wipers

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        Pete July 22, 2015 at 12:25 pm

        Never been hit in decades of city riding, but I think the Idaho Stop law makes sense given the physics. Do you come to a complete stop *at* a stop line on a bicycle, or do you, like many others, come to a near stop a foot or so away from it so you have time to maintain balance while yielding to others? Cars don’t need momentum to stay upright through stop signs, so I see where they were coming from with this one.

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    Patrick July 21, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    I often think of David Thoreau’s quote in Walden: The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Everyone is in a hurry–even when there is no reason. It is a natural state of most drivers and many bikers take this same sickness to the paths and roads. It’s sad. There is rarely any good reason to be stressed and hurried but they’re out there in mass.

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      9watts July 21, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      Thoreau said all that?

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        Chris I July 22, 2015 at 8:53 am

        Ya, man. The motorists in and around Walden Pond were real a-holes back in the mid-1840s.

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    LC July 21, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Also HAND SIGNALS go a long way toward letting other people on the road know what you’re about to do.

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    Case July 21, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    My only advice to Rachel would be to simply ignore these tools and work on her fundamental riding skills. Practice having your head on a swivel (that’s the most important skill), routing yourself on low stress roads, concentrating on the task at hand in the face of surprises, etc. Bottom line is, jackwagons are going to continue being arrogant bags of hair, and nothing you can say or do will change their behavior. Almost 20 years of city riding has taught me to look out for myself, take my time, and to hell with everyone else. Good luck, and keep riding, it’s really for your enjoyment, not anyone else’s.

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    spencer July 21, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    perception is personal, but remember that it benefits no one cycling to crash into one another. personally, i avoid OMSI (and the entire esplanade in the summer) because i dont like to ride slowly. i suspect that many of the close calls weren’t in the ballpark of a collision. adequate passing space is less when moving bike speeds, but it is up to everyone to pass safely. I’m sorry that some didn’t afford you that courtesy. please keep riding, its fun after all.

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      Tom Hardy July 21, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      Yes Spencer, I don’t care to ride Springwater anymore after last summer. With the homeless camps and the heavy deluge of feces spread everywhere on some of it. It is no fun! No fun riding with brown stripes up your back on a ride to Boring and back.
      Omsi will be fun with 20,000 cyclists going both directions on the Tillicum during Bridge Pedal.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu July 21, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    I’m going to say this as kindly as I know how.

    Rachel is a new rider, she has never ridden in a city, maybe is still figuring out turns and signs and routes, probably doesn’t know how to ride in and with a dense crowd of other cyclists.

    Given that, it is very possible that Rachel is the “problem”. Not the riders who are yelling at her (after she cuts them off, as they swerve to avoid hitting her) or speeding down the path (at their normal speed of 15 mph, which might be 2X her pace).

    I put “problem” in quotes, because she isn’t really a problem at all. Rachel is simply a new rider, feeling her way around something rather foreign and tricky-feeling, making mistakes, learning the ropes, and getting more capable by the week. It is a fairly normal situation. Remember when you were just learning to drive?

    In a couple weeks or months, she will probably be a confident bike commuter and won’t be turning in front of other riders or surprised at the speed of some commuters. And she may then feel differently.

    In the meantime, other riders should continue avoiding collisions with her (and other clearly new riders), telling them when they do something dangerous (at cycling speeds, sometimes a surprised yell is about all that can be managed), and otherwise going about their business (which might include riding a lot faster than she does).

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      BicycleDave July 21, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      Yelling is probably the least effective way to change someone’s behavior. Slow down, introduce yourself, apologize for not giving your audible warning soon enough or loud enough and politely request a hand signal before a lane change. Then ask yourself why you couldn’t anticipate this person in front of you needing to merge.

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        Spiffy July 22, 2015 at 7:20 am

        sorry to be a naysayer but an audible warning and hand signals are not required…

        an audible warning is nice when you see somebody ambling along a little wobbly but is not required…

        I’d hate for bike lanes to become another source of noise pollution…

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        Nathaniel July 22, 2015 at 8:53 am

        I disagree. It’s not a nice way to change someone’s behavior but shaming mistakes does incentivize not making them. We should also incentivize good behavior, though, by expressing our appreciation for drivers and cyclists who do the right thing and travel in a way that makes us safe. Behavioral psych principles at work.

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      Al Dimond July 21, 2015 at 8:55 pm

      I don’t know about y’all, but I was taught to bike defensively (I suppose, before I was taught to drive defensively). If someone biking relatively slowly along a common route merges into my path without looking I probably had a good chance to see it coming. That doesn’t mean that person shouldn’t shoulder-check before moving over, but an overtaking rider can anticipate the movement a lot of the time, and can avoid being in the “blind spot” right at the merge.

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      Bart July 22, 2015 at 7:24 am

      This is a reasonable hypothesis. I would love to see a followup with Rachel in a month or so to see if this is actually the case.

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    Spiffy July 21, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    I have had multiple instances where I suddenly see a sign in front of me that tells me to change lanes or speed, and just as I do so I have someone whiz by without a warning and shout obscenities and harsh words that I did not do it sooner.

    I’m curious where these signs are that say to change lanes or speed…

    I can’t think of a sign that says to change lanes unless a lane is ending…

    you mentioned OMSI and there is a sign there that says “children ahead slow down” which is often false and always subjective…

    there are rarely children there in the AM, so the sign is false… since the sign is most often false it’s often ignored…

    slow down is simply that… these riders could have been going 30 mph and then slowed down to 25 mph… they might go as low as 20 mph and consider that very slow… without a posted speed limit it’s unfair to judge their speed…

    why would you expect a warning when a bicycle passes you? I never give any indication when passing a cyclist… I ring my bell when passing pedestrians, it’s the law and they are more likely and able to make a sudden turn…

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      daisy July 21, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      I let cyclists know I’m passing if I’m passing closely. It can be startling, as a cyclist or pedestrian, to be passed by a faster cyclist if you didn’t hear them coming. Giving folks a heads up is never bad.

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        Brad July 21, 2015 at 9:24 pm

        Some cyclists are deaf or hard of hearing, so always assume that they didn’t hear you when passing (especially when passing on the right).

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        Spiffy July 22, 2015 at 7:23 am

        I suppose if you’re not used to being out in public it can be startling…

        in all modes I’m used to people suddenly appearing… it’s part of being outside…

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        HJ July 22, 2015 at 8:19 am

        The problem being so many cyclists and pedestrians have earbuds in so they can’t hear anything. I’m not gonna waste my breath.

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      John Lascurettes July 21, 2015 at 5:28 pm

      You should never change lanes without a shoulder check (and a hand signal) anyways. Seriously. And the people coming by are the a-holes?

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      BicycleDave July 21, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      Why would you not give an audible warning when passing just because a person was riding a bicycle?

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        Spiffy July 22, 2015 at 7:25 am

        why would a driver not honk their car when passing?

        I’m not a fast cyclist and would be incredibly annoyed if there was a constant cacophony of bell ringing on my entire commute… it would make me ride less if I had to put up with that noise pollution…

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          LC July 22, 2015 at 11:14 am

          I’ll give you a special double ding when I see you then.

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          John Lascurettes July 22, 2015 at 12:02 pm

          Exactly. I figure if I’m in the other lane (say the person I’m passing is in a bike lane and I’m in the auto lane), it’s no different than a car passing them. In her letter, the implication is pretty strong that she’s not checking the lane before making a change. That’s wrong.

          In situations where it’s closer quarters or where distinct “lanes” don’t exist (e.g., passing on the MUP of the Broadway Bridge) I will ring my bell or give a verbal audible as I approach. In this situation, the person being passed, justifiably might be surprised by the space next them being occupied (still, I personally wouldn’t change my line without a quick glance over my shoulder).

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    Spiffy July 21, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    A few places on SpringWater trail

    if this is where you spend the majority of your commute then get used to freeway speed cyclists… it’s a major commute corridor so people are usually going very fast since it’s straight and flat…

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    • John Liu
      John Liu July 21, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      If someone is riding at 10 mph on the MUP, and someone behind is riding 18 mph, the faster rider does not have to slow to 11 mph to pass, nor to give warning of the pass. That rider can simply slow a little and pass. All the slower rider is expected to do is not wobble and weave erratically. However, if the fast riders want to ride at car-like speeds, 25 mph or so, then they should get off the MUP and go play in traffic. Unless the MUP is very uncrowded.

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    El Biciclero July 21, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    I readily see two facets of our infrastructure that can easily lead to the conflict Rachel is seeing:
    1. Infrastructure is non-intuitive and hard to navigate until you’ve already done it several times—and even then it can be tricky to find and/or make some connections. This leads to a lot of confusion for new bicyclists and can create a need to suddenly slow down or want to turn around and go back to see if you missed a turn or connection, which will be a big problem on….
    2. Very crowded “bike paths”, which are really very narrow MUPs. In places where bicyclists are “supposed to” ride off-street, the alternative routes are almost never wide enough or well-marked (e.g., with lane stripes or different paving materials) enough to provide or even allow enough separation among pedestrians, slow bicyclists, and faster bicyclists.

    As someone who likes to ride in the 18-25 mph range, the MUPs are too crowded and auto traffic in the street is usually too fast (30-50 in most of the places I would ride), so I feel the frustration of those who want to get where they’re going and/or have a longer commute (mine is 25-ish miles RT)—there is literally almost nowhere for those folks to ride comfortably.

    However: one’s personal frustration at being unable to travel as fast as one might want MUST take a back seat (heh) to riding safely around other people, especially small children. Those who ride fast and pass at close quarters know how to ride differently—either slow down or give more passing space—they usually just choose not to. For new riders who may not know, the only advice I could possibly give would be to avoid sudden changes in direction or speed if you are in or are moving into the path of someone else. Signal your intentions to give followers a heads-up, especially stops and leftward movements. Stay as much to the right as safety, i.e. bike lane hazards such as doors and debris, allows, but also don’t let anyone pressure you into doing anything you feel is unsafe for you. As you gain experience, you’ll hopefully be able to blend in to the traffic mix more and have fewer of the negative experiences you’ve told us about above, although such negative experiences will never go away completely.

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    Heather July 21, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    People are assholes regardless of mode of transportation.

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    Andrew July 21, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Funny this should be posted today. I’m a brand new cyclist myself, I got home an hour or so ago after a round-trip ride from barbur and spring garden to 8th and powell. The ride there was great; granted I hopped down onto corbett to avoid a long stretch on barbur and didn’t see any other cyclists. The ride back was a different story. I figured today was as good a day as any to try riding barbur since its the most direct route from my apartment to PSU. As I was heading south everything was great until I got to the wooded area south of hamilton. About 10 yards or so before crossing the first bridge with the vanishing bike lane, a guy flew past me with no warning at all. Now I’m not in shape by any means and rather slow, hopefully cycling to class will help with that and save some money at the same time, but that guy totally caught me off guard. It wasn’t a huge deal, but a simple announcement that he was about to pass would have been nice; I would have scooted as far right as I could so he wouldn’t have had to ride on the line right before a pack of cars. I was just surprised that he decided to put himself in danger to pass.

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      9watts July 21, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      helmet mirror. I’m serious.
      I had one when I was a kid, loved it, but they kept breaking (they weren’t so stout back then). I eventually gave up mailing the little plastic parts back to the company in Walnut Creek that offered to replace it for free (and they did). Fast forward twenty years(!) and I got myself one of those monster adjustable geeky ones at the Bike Gallery downtown for $29.95. Now if I skip putting on my helmet to go two blocks I feel naked without my mirror.

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        Tom Hardy July 21, 2015 at 6:51 pm

        Yes helmet and sunglass mirrors are the easiest way to be aware of who is coming up behind. If driving the car I think they are as good as the mirrors as they cover much more area with a little turn of the head. I only used a plastic mirror for about 6 weeks but it got brittle and broke from sunlight exposure. I have worn my current metal mounted mirror on my sunglasses on my bike continuously since 1994.

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        Eric July 21, 2015 at 8:13 pm

        I like a handlebar mirror except the odd places where I’m on the left. It does sound like a lot of the conflicts were from not knowing what was behind (whether handled politely or not.). I’m still sometimes surprised by electric cars, even with the mirror.

        When passing, I always ring a bell or say howyadoin, and generally take the left third of the lane next to the bike lane. Riding with electric assist, I know most riders aren’t expecting a silent pass so I’m trying to keep myself safe as much as anything. When riding slowly on springwater with my kid one gorgeous Sunday morning, of 40 people who passed rather fast, maybe one rang a bell.

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          Pete July 22, 2015 at 12:30 pm

          Me too. I just couldn’t get the hang of not turning my head to look at the helmet-mounted ones… 🙂

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      gutterbunnybikes July 21, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      let go of the handlebars with your left hand, and turn you head to look occasionally.

      Works better in an upright position (ie not in the drops). and once you get it down, you wont need to let go of the bars either, but at first if you don’t let go you’ll steer left as you look behind yourself.

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      Nathaniel July 22, 2015 at 8:47 am

      Others have said it on here, but shouting can sometimes have the opposite effect. I am more likely to give cyclists an “on your left” shout, but often people on bikes or otherwise turn their head to the left and then step or swerve towards that side. It’s startling, but there’s a reason many don’t bother. Nowadays, I usually ring my bell repeatedly from a good distance away then choose the best path left to navigate the maze of people paying little to no attention.

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    Anne Hawley July 21, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Rachel J: First of all, congrats on undertaking a 20-mile round trip commute! That’s a pretty big deal.

    Second, thank you for bringing up this general issue. The concerns of slower and newer riders are often dismissed by younger, fitter, faster cyclists (here on BP and elsewhere) with statements about bigger issues (“cars are worse”) and an entitled-to-speed attitude that isn’t really that much different from car drivers.

    So (thirdly), when I was starting out commuting, I very quickly learned that for me, high-traffic bike routes and bike lanes on busy car streets were to be avoided as much as possible. I don’t know that people on (say) N Williams were actually rude to me – probably not – but I felt so completely out of place and in the way and sort of under pressure, that I soon discovered the best side streets. And no amount of having a perfect legal right to take the lane is ever going to make me comfortable actually taking the lane where I feel I might be holding up traffic.

    This way, I maximize my enjoyment of biking for transportation and minimize my exposure to things that wreck up my peace of mind.

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    9watts July 21, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    Great discussion. One of the better ones here lately in my opinion. Thanks for kicking it off, Rachel!

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    Carrie July 21, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    Rachel,

    I have been cycling for 40 years and raced for several. And it still unnerves me when I get passed by significantly faster cyclists with no warning. Also, just this afternoon I was APPALLED at the number of cyclists I saw crossing 11th ave near Clinton, regardless of how bad the signal timing is there.

    That said I don’t stop riding. I love riding. Learn how to signal your intentions and be a good legal cyclist and have fun!

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      Tom Hardy July 21, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      Carrie. 62 years of cycling for me. Only a couple of racing, circa 61 & 62. I used to give warnings before smart phones. The vast majority of the time when I said “On your Left!” the walker stepped to the left and stopped. Then I started to yell from 20-30 feet “Coming through!” and the walkers went one way or another to the side of the multi use pathway.
      Now when they are texting with their earbuds, I yell and they still do nothing. I go when there is an opening or stop and wait until they get to where ever they are going or just go somewhere else. Cyclists when I am passing, I go around them on the left, sometime I say something encouraging if they are in the newby rider speeds and somewhat unsteady. I ride in the 12-18 MPH range on most multi-use streets 27-35 on Barbur, traffic speeds on Division west of 82nd, and 15-21 on Halsey from Gateway to Troutdale.

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    Electric Mayhem July 21, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    I came up behind a new rider last week on Williams. I dinged my bell to pass and then when I started to pass on the right, she swerved right almost hitting me – I assume because she expected me to pass on the left. I backed off and then said “passing on your right” so that she would be clear on what was happening. It’s quite challenging out there for new riders. Many experienced riders didn’t even know to pass on the right on a left hand bike lane. New riders do have a responsibility though to get proper gear including mirrors and to ride a few times with a more seasoned rider. New riders are much more likely to get killed and injured.

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    Allen July 21, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    On the Hawthorne bridge, on more than one occasion, another bicyclist passed me on the left while a pedestrian was walking on the right and while I was in the middle passing the pedestrian. I always try to look over my shoulder and signal with my left hand before taking up space before passing pedestrians. (A mirror might be better) With morning traffic on the road it feels extremely dangerous. It isn’t a dedicated bicycle only route and it is nice to enjoy crossing the river for the view. So I don’t try to race across the bridge. Even so, there ARE a lot of dangerous riders out there. Either making dangerous passes or making dumb choices. Just this morning some guy rode through multiple red lights downtown, across the bus lanes to get to Big Pink. I watched him break multiple traffic rules. He put his own life in danger. I try to give those folks room so I don’t get caught up in their lousy decision making skills. My advice, it is your ride and you are in charge of it. Don’t try to police others, but don’t let them get the best of you or put you in danger. Enjoy the ride! It is much better than driving.

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    Andy K July 21, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Props to her for a 10-mile commute and having the guts to complain about other riders when she just started, but it seems like she hates what many of us love…the quiet, efficient freedom of the bicycle. The freedom to go faster than the buses, cars, trains, and other bikes around us, and break rules that inconvenience us.

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      Nathaniel July 22, 2015 at 8:35 am

      This comment is ***deleted by moderator – please don’t disparage other people’s comments.***. Yes we all bend the rules at a stop sign, but to “break the rules that inconvenience us” is not why I bike. It’s stupid, rude, and dangerous. Yes, a bike-bike crash is less serious than a car-bike crash, but bike-bike crashes still have the potential for serious injury or even death if someone was going sufficiently fast and/or not wearing a helmet. I’m calling B’S on this. You’re part of the problem.

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        Anne Hawley July 22, 2015 at 1:06 pm

        I assumed it was sarcastic. I couldn’t believe they were serious.

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        soren July 22, 2015 at 1:32 pm

        a neighboring state allows cyclists to break the “rules of the road” with no discernible impact on safety so i absolutely understand where andy k is coming from.

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          Andy K July 23, 2015 at 7:30 am

          Thanks Soren. I appreciate your honesty and commend your advocacy. I’m not trying to flaunt rule breaking, I just don’t think many of the laws and traffic control devices are designed to safely regulate all vehicles.

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        Andy K July 23, 2015 at 6:43 am

        It takes a lot of internet courage to admit you run stop signs on your bike and in the same paragraph say I’m part of the problem (for doing the same thing).

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    Ian July 21, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Sorry to hear that Rachel. I should to say that i have been thinking and witnessing many of the same things recently. My take is this: being socialized in a car dominated society indoctrinates all of us with a righteous zeal to “save time” when we are in transit. Despite the fact that most of the time this is an illusion all of us sucumb to it at one time or another. Driving or biking in an unsafe and aggressive manner to “save time” produces negligible results.

    Compare this group mentality to what one might see in a city that has existed hundreds or thousands of years before cars. These cities weren’t designed with cars in mind as most American cities are. An auto dominated mindset or economy does not reign. And so we see much more polite and respectful communities of riders.

    My advice is to set an example of the kind of behavior you would want to see. Try to communicate with your fellow riders more. Signaling when passing, using signals and saying thank you when they do the same. Don’t forget about the pedestrians either! and cars too! Heck we all need to look up and reach out to each other more when in transit. Lets make a community of compassionate and connected commuters.

    also get a button or shirt of this:

    http://www.sarahbecan.com/product/league-of-courteous-cyclists-tees/

    Ride often and ride joyfully!
    Ian

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    Alison Fulmer July 22, 2015 at 5:40 am

    I am a very experienced road cyclist and cycle commuter. Rachel has valid concerns that have nothing to do with her level of experience. When overtaking and passing a slower rider it is both courteous and safer to pass on the left as is the practice for vehicles in North America. Of course not in Williams and therein lies the basic design flaw. It is also polite announce one’s presence, given bicycles are so wonderfully quiet, to avoid startling the rider being overtaken. Simple. No bother. Safe. Just do it. Especially on the Hawthorn Bridge…

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      Bill Walters July 22, 2015 at 7:08 am

      …except that ears are effectively offline so frequently, due to people conversing via bluetooth or rocking out via earbuds. Whether or not you announce your presence, pass as if you did not. That is, don’t pass unless and until you can give an effectively deaf person a wide berth.

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      soren July 22, 2015 at 8:25 am

      it is expressly legal for bikes to pass vehicles on the right in oregon. i would also add that on the hawthorne bridge the bike symbols are on the left so passing on the right is appropriate.

      calling out a pass in close quarters can be polite but when there is sufficient room to pass safely it can be rude.

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    Dan July 22, 2015 at 7:29 am

    MUP question: when two people are riding side by side, how much of the MUP are they entitled to? 1/2? 2/3?

    As I’m flying downhill on a MUP on the way home, I occasionally encounter guys riding side by side in the other direction taking up 2/3rd of the path. Is that a reasonable practice?

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      Colton July 22, 2015 at 7:59 am

      It depends largely on the width of the path. If you have 3 or more feet available to you, I can’t see why you would need to have them scoot over unless you (or they) are obviously unstable on a bike.

      If the path doesn’t allow them to go side-by-side and still give you 3 feet, then I suppose one of them should slip in behind the other when they go by.

      If the path is less than 6 feet wide, then 50/50 is the best you can hope for.

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        Dan July 22, 2015 at 8:48 am

        FWIW, this is primarily a commuter path (no kids or homeless, very few walkers) where most people can comfortably ride downhill at 25-30mph without pedaling much.

        When I climb this hill in the morning, people bomb down in the opposite direction, and I ride on the right edge of the path to give them as much space as possible. But when I come home in the afternoons I encounter commuters coming up the hill taking up the majority of the path and leaving me very little room on the right for my descent. When this happens I have to slow way down so that I can pass by them safely (otherwise it’s a 40mph differential with less than a foot of clearance). It strikes me as inconsiderate for these regular commuters to encroach on my half of the path.

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          Captain Karma July 22, 2015 at 2:38 pm

          What bells and horns are for. 😉

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            are July 25, 2015 at 9:08 am

            again with the noise. why not operate at speeds that are suitable for conditions?

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      Nathaniel July 22, 2015 at 8:27 am

      Law on the road says cyclists can only be side by side when one is passing the other. I see people flout that all the time, but most of the time it’s not hurting anyone, so I wouldn’t bother to say anything. I feel like the same law ought to apply to MUPs. At any rate, if their behavior is unsafe for other users of the MUP, you should let them know. Nobody is “entitled” to anything, but if the MUP traffic is very little, I don’t think 2/3 is inherently totally unreasonable.

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        Psyfalcon July 22, 2015 at 9:38 am

        Its probably the path along us26. Its not an ordinary MUP. Its steep. The 205 path has similar sections too, near Rocky Butte.

        I figure if you’re climbing one of those its steep enough you shouldn’t be talking 😉 If your lungs are fine, go faster in the uphill direction?

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          Dan July 22, 2015 at 9:56 am

          Yes, the 26 MUP. By all means, talk with your buddy. But I think if you see someone coming down the other direction, it’s courteous for one of you to drop back to allow room for the oncoming rider. Unless you can squeeze together into 1/2 of the path.

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        soren July 22, 2015 at 12:27 pm

        The law in OR allows people cycling to ride side by side indefinitely as long as the are not impeding the “reasonable movement of traffic”.

        http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.430

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      Chris I July 22, 2015 at 9:15 am

      I would say no. If you are taking up more than 1/2 of the MUP, you need to drop back to single file when someone passes going the other direction. It just reduces the safety margins too much.

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        Alex Reed July 22, 2015 at 9:26 am

        I would say no, but also to advocate for a wider MUP so that people can comfortably ride side-by-side!

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      El Biciclero July 23, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      You must be talking about the US 26 MUP from Sylvan down to Park/96th—I see the same thing many days. I’ve just gotten used to putting my tires about 6 in. from the right edge of the concrete for a few seconds.

      However, I too have wondered about this and whether the side-by-siders just don’t realize how little space is left over, or are trying to force “speeders”‘ to slow down or what. I like to think if I were riding abreast of someone else on my way up (or down), I’d try to single up before meeting oncoming riders. While there is a general rule about yielding to uphill traffic when necessary, it seems reasonable that uphill traffic doesn’t need to take up so much of the path width.

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    Shelley Batty July 22, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Wow… I have been thinking about sending a very similar post since the 4th of July.

    On 4th of July I rode my bike into town for the Blues Fest. Coming home that night on the Springwater from OMSI to Sellwood was a really bad experience. I think I met the same riders Rachel has met on her commute but that wasn’t the worst part.

    Everyone was rude! Fast cyclists yelled at slow cyclists, slow cyclists flipped off the guys passing them, people without lights blew by with no warning and the walkers without lights yelled at cyclists about speed, lights, clothing, helmets…. no one seemed at all civil, let alone polite.

    Is it any wonder that people who cycle in Portland can’t seem to get anything done when we continue to demand our own personal rights while we behave so badly to each other?

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      Nathaniel July 22, 2015 at 8:19 am

      That’s really sad. Remember that it’s a holiday, though, so you’re boUnd to have many more cyclists than usual, and many of them will be fairweather cyclists. I still think you can and should share these concerns with other cyclists so that we can all evaluate our culture, mindset, and behavior. I just hope, if you’re not a regular cyclist, that you aren’t too upset by that experience to keep riding.

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        Shelley Batty July 22, 2015 at 10:35 am

        No only a regular cyclist but a bike commuter and owner of a bike tourism business. All of that made it really frustrating and sad.

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        jonno July 22, 2015 at 10:35 am

        I can echo that — I rode through SE en route to the waterfront on July 4th and saw many people parking in the close-in neighborhoods and unloading bikes from their cars to ride to the fireworks. They did not look or ride like frequent riders, so I think there was a strong newbie factor that night.

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    Carrie July 22, 2015 at 8:00 am

    I’ve been trying to use the “don’t break a sweat” guideline recently when it’s been so hot. Which has been a big change as I’m something who will race to beat a light (even though I don’t think I’m that fast, lol). And it really does change your perception of how you see your commute and fellow riders. Both good and bad. Interesting to ride in the others saddle (if you will) this past month.

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    HJ July 22, 2015 at 8:05 am

    So I’ll preface this by saying I come from the perspective as an avid bike racer. I spend more time at high speeds in close quarters than not.
    To an extent I can see where Rachel’s coming from. When I commute by bike I regularly see people making poor choices such as passing someone who is obviously a less adept/experienced rider in places where such maneuvers are not a wise choice. Such as on a bridge on a windy day when one good gust could blow that less skilled rider right into them. There are times that the prudent move is to just cool your jets and go slow for a brief period until there is a more appropriate spot to pass. I’m always a little amazed when I’m going slow for the sake of both my safety and the other rider and get passed by someone who just doesn’t see the point in waiting.
    Now that being said I’m also willing to bet that Rachel may not be riding as predictably as she thinks. Last minute (and usually by the time you see the markings they will be last minute) lane changes are not the end of the world, but you have to signal them. In addition to that, just like changing lanes in a car, you need to LOOK before you go. Remember that old SMOG rule they taught in driver’s ed? Yeah, minus the mirror (I’ve never used one on the bike) it applies perfectly while riding too.
    Far too many cyclists, especially new ones, seem to forget these details. Add to that the fact that very few cyclists (even many competitive ones) really know how to ride a proper straight line and that’s where the friction can come from.
    IMHO every cyclist should learn to ride rollers so they can learn how to steer straight but given as how from a practical standpoint it’d never happen I’ll just settle for leaving a little more space.

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    Nathaniel July 22, 2015 at 8:12 am

    I agree that there are some very rude cyclists out there, but if they were being vocally rude and abusive, odds are you were doing something wrong, especially if it happened multiple times. I see a lot of riders who aren’t considerate of others in their riding habits, but in my experience, it’s pretty rare that someone shouts at you without good reason. One thing to understand is that cyclists can be more vocal about the transportation mistakes of others because we’re all more vulnerable. It may be jarring at first, but it does have the effect of giving cyclists incentive to learn quickly and except for the occasions where drivers get enraged because they already hate the world, it helps them realize they made a mistake since many drivers are totally oblivious of their threatening driving habits otherwise. My point is try to learn fast and don’t take shouts too personally.

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    fezz July 22, 2015 at 8:19 am

    i have learned to trust that all users of the streets i ride on will behave unpredictably and are most likely to pull dangerous moves in passing because they think they will move fast enough or that there is plenty of room for their manuveurs. this is part of dealing with human nature, every one of us has our own unique perceptions and judgments of how to handle ourselves on the road. Trust no one and ride defensively.

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    Mabsf July 22, 2015 at 8:23 am

    A lot of riders maintain their car-mentality when they are riding: communication with fellow riders is not their thing.
    Many of the high-end road bikes remind me of muscle cars and the attitude of the riders seems to be very similar. Again, I have nothing against them, but your morning commute shouldn’t be a training ride… I mean you wouldn’t try to break a speed record driving your car to work!

    If you want to go really fast on your bike and train, please go to a track – don’t use commuting roads for it.

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      soren July 22, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      what you call a “car-mentality”, i call a bike transportation mentality. because i care about getting to point B efficiently and safely, i ride relatively fast and only communicate with others when necessary.

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      davemess July 22, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      Yet it is pretty rare for a cyclist to exceed the road’s speed limit (except on downhills).

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      Mindful Cyclist July 22, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      I ride faster than most and I do it safely. I do ride quickly to get more of a workout. Please consider that not all people that ride quickly are out to make it more difficult for slower riders.

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    Dan July 22, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Mabsf
    your morning commute shouldn’t be a training ride

    Sorry, but training is one of my chief motivators for riding 15 miles to work. I know where I can do intervals and where I need to slow down. If I come up behind someone and can’t make a safe pass, I wait. If I need to pass a pedestrian on a shared path (rare), I slow down to nearly walking speed. Go to a track? Come on….let’s not take ALL of the fun out of riding.

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    pdx2wheeler July 22, 2015 at 9:18 am

    If she continues to ride her bike, builds her speed, strength, and knowledge of her route it won’t be long until the shoe is on the other foot and some newbie is pulling moves out of left field and getting in her way.

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    ac July 22, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Alex Reed
    Portland has bad infrastructure –> riding feels dangerous –> people who are OK with danger are more likely to ride –> more young men ride –> more anti-social behavior by some young men (I say this as a young man!)http://bikeloudpdx.org/index.php/BikeLoudPDX https://btaoregon.org/ https://www.facebook.com/AndandoenBicicletasenCully http://eastportlandactionplan.org/bikeRecommended 17

    umm, while it isn’t necessarily cycling nirvana, Portland is lightyears ahead of most of the country

    perspective: we have it good…to pretend otherwise is to to accept the bubble we live in

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    BIKELEPTIC July 22, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Just be glad you’re not a pedestrian – when you finally get the car-drivers to acknowledge your existence so you can begin the harrowing walk across the road, those very same cyclists you are talking about are “too good” to stop for ped traffic and will cut right in front of you and behind you – you’ll begin to feel like you’re in some Indiana Jones style adventure. Except generally you don’t want to be. So they’re just scofflaws that don’t know how to follow the rules.

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      Thom Batty July 22, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      Not trying to start an argument, or deny your experience, but the times when I ride on a MUP I find the pedestrians to be the rude ones, walking two, three or four abreast, using earbuds or other devices that block their situational awareness, and allowing dogs or children (neither of which know any better, and do not themselves deserve the blame) wander unpredictably across the path. Driver, cyclist, pedestrian, we all have our flaws. Lots of cries on BP for better infrastructure, how about just better manners?

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        tee July 23, 2015 at 9:01 pm

        You make a very good point. It really isn’t just “rude cyclists” making it hard to navigate MUPs or just Portland difficult or uncomfortable. I do think it is both (manners and infrastructure), but not in all situations. The Springwater would be much nicer for bicyclists, runners, and walkers if all groups used our manners a bit more. Being aware of one’s surroundings is common sense, important for safety and should fall under the manners category too.

        In some situations, the infrastructure just isn’t in place to make people comfortable enough to ride, let alone safely– diverters would go a long way to make Clinton better and “Better Naito” does make it easier to navigate that part of town during festival season.

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    brie July 22, 2015 at 9:49 am

    There are good and rude riders, good and rude drivers and good and rude pedestrians. We all just need to think about making it good and not rude for all of us.

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    Ryan Francesconi July 22, 2015 at 9:51 am

    I figured out a good trick for making cars on rural roads slow down and give a wider berth when they try to pass you. I’m pretty sure this trick would work for fast impatient cyclists who want to pass you too.

    Just stand and pedal. Make a bit more movement on the bike like you’re going up a big climb. I think this gives the passer a bit of pause as there is suddenly more to draw the eye too, and you are now a bigger object to pass.

    I experimented with this riding back from Eugene the other weekend, and had a 100% success rate in getting cars to give me more space. This was a 10 hour solo ride, so I think there is actually something to the statistic.

    This coupled with a bar end mirror to get you ready should give people flying by you pause.

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      Dan July 22, 2015 at 10:00 am

      I do something similar….when I hear a car coming, I move further left, and wiggle a little bit, then move back right as they get close. Cars seem to give more space when they don’t know how straight you intend to keep your line.

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        Paul in the 'Couve July 22, 2015 at 10:56 pm

        I try to hock a loogy out into the lane. Amazing how well that works

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        El Biciclero August 7, 2015 at 11:09 am

        I’ve heard that called the “Crazy Ivan”, after the submarine maneuver.

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        soren August 7, 2015 at 12:32 pm

        it’s called the “smidsy” weave and is a basic safety skill in the motorcycle community. LAB and other VC-centric cycling education programs don’t teach it because they believe people “driving” bikes should hold their line in the lane just like cars.

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    Granpa July 22, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Like when riding around cars/drivers who are rude and disrespectful, I ride my own ride. When I am diss’d I now just let it go. I used to be the guy who would slap car hoods and get into shouting matches, but that left me exhausted and frustrated. It could easily be the case that immediately after an unpleasant encounter, something unexpected happens that requires quick reactions. Dwelling on the negative can be a distraction from paying attention. Ride your own ride Rachel, and keep the rubber side down.

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    Ted July 22, 2015 at 10:34 am

    This comment highlights the existence of what I call the bike community myth. There is no more of a bike community than there is a car community. To expect all cyclists to think or act the same way is not realistic. To think that cyclists will act differently than the population at large is not realistic. Riding a bike means different things to different people. Throw in the wide range of skill and fitness levels and there is no way that everyone out on a bike will act or think the same way.

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    Capizzi July 22, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Rudeness tends to follow specific bike routes. In SE, Salmon and 33rd across Powell is better in summer than Springwater or thru Ladd. Sometimes a longer route can get you home more mentally healthy than the most direct route. Springwater and the esplanade is less stupid in the winter. Research calmer and safer routes, and then mix it up thru the week for variation.

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      Dan July 22, 2015 at 10:45 am

      Uh yeah, I consider the Springwater to be fairly dangerous. Too much variance in speed and behavior there.

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      davemess July 22, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      I think that’s true of any routes that have more riders on them. I love the fact that I only have to ride into downtown about once a week. The other days of the week it is actually pretty nice to only see about 20 other riders (on a good day). If there is no one you have to worry about passing or being passed by there is no conflict.
      We’ll see if this changes in the outer neighborhoods down the road, but for now, I like that I don’t have to interact with a ton of other cyclists.

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        Dan July 22, 2015 at 3:10 pm

        I ride from 5:30a to 6:30a on the way in, and it’s nice and quiet. Roads are incredibly safe when there’s nobody on them.

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    Paul Souders July 22, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Here’s a fun personality test.

    When you’re on a MUP (walking or riding) and you hear a bell (or “on your left”), do you assume it means:

    1. “Get out of my way!”

    2. “I’m overtaking you, please don’t alter your line of travel.”

    (Extra credit: when you ring a bike bell, what do you mean?)

    I always intend #2 but by the way some folks dodge around I think they are hearing #1.

    A bell (or “on your left”) isn’t the bike version of a car horn.

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      Esther July 22, 2015 at 11:15 am

      Depends on how forcefully they ring it (which also depends on the bell, some only have one tone, some you can ring angrily and less angrily), but I usually just stay in my line of travel and assume they’ll figure it out. This is why I never use my bell to pass, I just say in a friendly and not overly loud way “on your left.”

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      daisy July 22, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      I now shout “Passing!” which I learned from Ray Thomas at a Bike Clinic. “On your left” and “on your right” take a second or two extra to process, especially if you’re a pedestrian or someone who isn’t used to hearing that. Some folks really do lean into the direction without realizing it (as if you’ve shouted an order).

      “Passing” is quite clear. It means “I am passing you,” and I think the subtext is “Hold your line.”

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      Marshall Guthrie July 25, 2015 at 10:33 am

      My bell means “hello.” I only use it with friends or people gawking at my “weird” bike.

      When communicating with fellow cyclists/pedestrians/auto drivers (they are all my fellows), I say “Good Morning, passing left/right” in a loud voice. A polite salutation conveys mutual respect, and gives the person time to tune into the information part of your announcement.

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    Bald One July 22, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Let’s focus on the one area that Rachel mentioned: the MUP behind OMSI. This area is a disaster as a cycle-commuting pathway. The real outrage in these comments should be that the local infrastructure lords have done nothing to improve this ancient and poorly planned and designed path. I ride on SE Water Ave here instead of going behind OMSI, since the major cycle artery passes right through a pedestrian milling-about zone on OMSI’s back porch, with many out of town visitors and small children running around and across this area – as they should. It’s a museum, not a commuting path. There are so many near-misses between peds and cyclists in this area – it is truly dangerous and cringe-worthy. We should all focus our attention on finding a better cycle connection between the intersection at SE Water and Division Place and the Hawthorne Bridge ramps and Esplanade. But, don’t get me started on the Water Ave option: it is not great either, and after the newly minted Trains and Buses start crossing it, there will be additional delays. (Copenhagen Left turn, anyone?). So, I understand the utility in using the path behind OMSI.

    The recent design and build of the new cycle path in this area along the MAX Orange Line demonstrates how the city is going to implement cycle path infrastructure when they do manage to spend a few new project dollars on it: terribly. New “bike path” construction will never involve a straight line, pedestrian separation, or priority to cyclists (in favor of buses or peds). They will construct curb ramps that are not on a straight path, forcing the cyclist into a loop maneuver; they will install bollards in the way, sign posts, trash cans, lamp posts; and they will install red lights, stop signs, and cross signals so that any new bike path we can expect will be a race to the lowest possible speed. Not to mention hair-pin turns, protruding steel railings, lack of lane guidance at tight spots. Mandated Public art (a good thing) which must be plopped in the middle of the MUP (bad thing) – is it a traffic speed control device or art? Brickwork and other fnacy pavement designs will suck the $$ from the project and deteriorate after 10 years, with no hope of any maintenance budget. Landscaping and storm water management structures will be built into the project and given priority of street design over the safe and efficient transportation of cycle commuters. Elevators instead of ramps will be employed (what’s the number to call if the elevator is not working??). Many mid-level designers will be hired and sent on trips to Europe to learn about all the great possible designs they can install in this new project. Landscaping plants will be purchased and installed in soil beds, only to be overtaken by noxious weeds within a few years with no chance of any of those project designers picking up a weedwacker once a month to control these. Cycle path designs will continue to be the afterthought in Portland civic transportation design: after bus, train, peds, parks, public art, stormwater management, landscaping, emergency service access, business concerns, and street parking have all had their say in cycle path design, a new bike path will be built. Then let the Platinum medallions be burnished. I know there are lots of competing interests, but good designs that allow for efficient cycle commuting of all riders can be built without compromise of these other interests. But, I haven’t seen it, yet – and, direction of government approach seems to be in the wrong way.

    And, the city will make no effort to improve the already over-crowded and poorly designed existing cycle infrastructure, such as the MUP behind OMSI or the switchbacks form Rose Garden to Steel Bridge lower deck. If we can’t spend new money on a new project, what do they care about improving existing, old, crowded infrastructure? Nothing more than a little green paint.

    That path behind OMSI has got to be improved with an eye towards cycle commuting through this area. You Freds should ride on Water Ave and leave this area to the slower set and people that can safely ride around the small children (and lamp posts), here.

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      Paul Souders July 22, 2015 at 11:00 am

      OMG this is epic. Well said.

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      9watts July 22, 2015 at 11:27 am

      Perhaps this will inspire the RETURN OF THE COMMENT OF THE WEEK?

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 22, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      Love it Bald One. Couldn’t agree more. Thanks for sharing that.

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        Bald One July 22, 2015 at 2:49 pm

        No Problem, Jonathan.

        BTW – Copenhagen Left reference (http://bikeportland.org/2013/04/17/trimet-detour-near-omsi-will-come-with-permanent-bike-traffic-improvement-85567 )

        I have never once seen anyone ever use this green box for a left turn, but of course, you can watch people on bikes cross Water Ave in all manners and locations every morning near here. They have added a new one at the Orange line tracks, which will be interesting to see if anyone uses it. It’s some type of in-lane refuge, but may do little to change cycling behavior (I will be taking the lane, arm signaling a left, and holding the cars up behind me). I guess there will be a fair number of people who want to bike from Springwater to Tilikum, and this will mean getting across Water Ave. at these new tracks or going behind the Opera and under the bridge (where they are currently holding the new public art in captivity) and around and up the new trail.

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      John Liu July 22, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      Take Water Ave. Not the MUP by OMSI. Problem solved.

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      Glenn July 23, 2015 at 11:22 am

      Don’t sugar coat it, tell us how you really feel.

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    TK July 22, 2015 at 11:59 am

    This letter is a good reminder that a little courtesy would go a long way towards encouraging other people to ride their bikes. None of us has a right to go as fast as we want if that jeopardizes someone else’s safety. I realize there is etiquette regarding how one should be looking out for faster riders behind us, but honestly, how much time is anyone saving by passing someone aggressively? A couple minutes?

    I would far rather see more people riding their bikes regularly, enjoying the tremendous physical and mental health benefits of bike commuting, than to discourage these people from riding because they’ve been made to feel they don’t belong unless they can go 30 mph over the Hawthorne Bridge.

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    mikeybikey July 22, 2015 at 11:59 am

    My spouse and I were having this conversation the other night and I just think, in general, Americans are just not very good at biking with other people around. Its a cultural thing. I don’t know if its because we’ve been taught to behave identical to cars or if it goes to deeper cultural issues related to individualism or how we don’t trust one other but there is definitely no cooperation between users, even if its just bikes. On one side of it, you have the aggro thing but on the other side you have the you-go-no-you-go stand offs. We are dancers that can’t lead and follow.

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    invisiblebikes July 22, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Rachel;

    Here is slightly modified rule to bicycle commuting:

    “I can’t tell you the key to success(ful) bike commuting, but I can tell you the key to failure is trying to please everyone” modified quote of Ed Sheeran

    All that You can expect is to ride safe, ride aware and hope other people do to, but don’t hold your breath because A-holes are just like opinions, everyone has one and your going to encounter them every where you go.

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    peter haas July 22, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Just because you know how to ride a bike doesn’t mean you know how to bike commute. Bike commuting takes some learning…gaining knowledge and experience…before it gets comfortable. There are a lot of obstacles that can be dangerous and challenging to overcome…rude, inconsiderate riders are just one of them! My advice to Rachel is to hang in there and keep at it. Over time I hope she’ll experience what I’ve noticed…way more nice people on bikes than mean ones. And way more joy achieved with a bike than with other modes of transportation.

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    Kathy July 22, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Dear Rachel,
    If you are reading this, please know that I totally understand where you are coming from!!! I’ve been a daily bike commuter for going on 7 years but I still remember those first scary months when I was figuring out all of the unwritten rules. I did all of the same things you did – tons of due diligence – reading up on and acquiring gear, understanding the law, etc.
    I was so unprepared for being buzzed by impatient and faster cyclists. It made learning a new skill that much more stressful!
    My advice to you is to hold your line, ride predictably, do what feels safest to you, and let the other more skilled cyclists do what they have to do to get around you. If it feels safe for you to head check and signal – do it – if it doesn’t – DON’T. Let them yell at you all they want, just do what feels safest to you until you get those better bike handling skills. Remember: even when you are a new rider and you are in stressful situations with other cyclists or cars or traffic, you’re still getting fresh air and moving your blood around. With time, your confidence and riding ability will improve. You will also accumulate a lot of knowledge about types of intersections, types of roads, types of road users, and make decisions based on that knowledge.
    After 7 years and so much more confidence riding, I still encounter rude cyclists from time to time and I just smile and think to myself, it’s a good day to be outside and that I hope that person’s day improves. Much more dangerous to you is the rude and/or clueless driver, who you are bound to encounter at some point (if you haven’t already) and that is much more of a heart pounding moment because they can actually really hurt you.
    Riding a bike is so fun and can connect you back to your childhood. Try your best to keep tapping into that memory and enjoy your ride!

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    Pete July 22, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Do you folks in Portland have bike trains? There is one I know of in San Jose (CA) where riders of all levels get together for common commutes and sometimes make an after-work party out of it. I haven’t been involved in one (work from home now so I’m just a rec roadie; miss my bike commute!), but some folks I know say they encourage and educate riders and have fun while doing so. Haven’t heard many negative incidents; the more experienced riders tend to teach the newbies to brush off a lot of the stuff we vent about here.

    Kudos on taking the plunge to try bike commuting – hope it yields you as many miles and smiles as it has for me!

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    Cory P July 22, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    As soon as I started reading this I knew she rides the springwater trail. I ride the springwater, 205 path and the marine drive path regularly for exercise on my skateboard and my bike day and night. I travel between 10 and 15 mph on both modes and I have noticed some interesting things:

    I get much more harassment from passing freds when I am on my bike.

    The people yelling are almost always white males between their 30’s and 60’s

    The springwater is the worst area for bad behavior between downtown and Johnson creek.

    I have never been harassed or bothered by a homeless person on the path.

    I can’t count how many times a cyclist kills themselves to pass me when riding my skateboard only to then slow down right in front of me. ( I use this as on opportunity to draft )

    I would encourage you to keep riding and perhaps mix up your route. you might find it’s the same few riders who are giving you a hard time.

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    Sho July 22, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    There is road rage for both commuters (cyclists and motorists) and both break a large amount of laws whether it be blowing stop signs or speeding. Unfortunately I have found the many here who cycle believe they have a right to break such laws instead of accepting that it is a law and owning up to the fact they broke it. Portland does have a significant amount of rude cyclists unfortunately compared to the other cities I’ve lived.

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    Rush Hour Alleycat July 22, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    I’m one of the young asshole cyclist’s I think she is referring to. I’m not afraid to ride in the road if the bike lane is occupied, or even if I just plan to turn left in a few blocks. I break rules every day, I treat redlights as stop signs, and stop signs like flashing yellows. I’m antagonistic, aggressive and I frustrate the drivers around me not because I’m impeding their right of way, but because they were not successful in impeding mine. Jealousy overtakes them as they are stuck at a light I went though.

    Every moment I spend on my bike is free, extremely mobile and unhindered, and I’m getting healtheir. Every moment they spend stuck in traffic, they are burning through money and becoming more sedentary and disconnected from their surroundings.

    I will never, ever, ever be aggressive with fellow cyclist or a pedestrian. That’s where I draw the line. Though I wish a few of you would move over to the right when you have the room to do so on the Hawthorne. I would note that some of the “this is my lane, I’m using it, and anyone who wants to pass me is going to fast” psychology is leftover from car culture too, Rachael. In time your feelings may evolve as your skills increase and you’re less in the way, and there are more people who are blocking your own progress.

    I also advocate calling out which side you intend to pass someone on in nautical terminology, it makes it more quirky and friendly somehow. And pleasd Hawthorne commuters stop making me pass you on your Starboard.

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      Alex Reed July 22, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      I will keep making you pass me on my Starboard on the Hawthorne (unless you notify me of your approach nicely and at an appropriate time i.e. not when there is a steady stream of pedestrians on my Starboard) because I prefer to not encroach on the pedestrian space unless necessary. KThxBye!

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        Novice Group Rider July 22, 2015 at 4:25 pm

        If there be room to pass you there, you may be too far a’larboard matey. And o’course I’ll notify you with all the courtesy I can muster. One of the reasons Germans are so orderly is they observe strict lane change rules, drive right pass left.

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          Alex Reed July 22, 2015 at 4:49 pm

          In most shipping channels, matey, you’re right as a barrel full of silver dubloons. On the deck of the Hawthorne bridge, where 5′ sections are clearly marked for biking (on the port/larboard) and walking (on the starboard) I prefer to ride to the port/larboard except when a matey has audibly indicated they would like to pass me AND there are no mateys walking nearby.

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            Rush Hour Alleycat July 22, 2015 at 8:57 pm

            Nay, if ye can move over you probably should already be there. If you can’t, no amount of politeness is consequential. Not sure why anyone would have to remind you.

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              Alex Reed July 22, 2015 at 9:56 pm

              Me hearty, biking in the walking area on the Hawthorne is like pushing yer matey off the plank – ye does it, but only if ye’re “encouraged” to.

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                Rush Hour Alleycat July 22, 2015 at 10:51 pm

                I treat the pedestrians like the contours of the coast in familiar waters. Thank me for corralling the peds some other time.

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                lop July 22, 2015 at 10:56 pm

                Is that how you want people to drive around you when you bike in the road?

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      Dan July 22, 2015 at 3:14 pm

      Passing port? Yes please. Yum.

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    LESTER July 22, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I see far too many clowns on Vanc/Williams, Esplanade and close-in Springwater going way too fast for conditions and passing too closely.

    Aggromuters are wack!

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      invisiblebikes July 23, 2015 at 10:53 am

      I see far more clowns walking, running, fishing, Skating, Segway(ing) and just plain being ignorant fools on the esplanade that don’t deserve half the respect they get from all the cyclists including myself… but I still give them that respect. But I don’t see the point in shaming other cyclist for getting frustrated having to deal with those clowns because that’s the Only safe, adequate north south route to Springwater.

      I ride Williams and the Esplanade every single day at peak times, the issue on both is inadequate facilities that frustrate all users.
      I think its border line victim blaming when everyone starts pointing at each other and shaming them for “passing to close” or “not notifying to pass” none if these quips amount to any real danger to either people until we’re all packed into a tight facilities with completely inadequate shared space… because as cyclists we’re second class citizens squabbling over the crumbs we’re left with after the almighty greedy gluttonous car!

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    Josh G July 22, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    The disadvantages of impolite cyclists and dangerous drivers for me are outweighted by the following advantages:
    – biking is lowest cost compared to driving or using the bus
    – biking provides some exercise
    – rarely get stuck in traffic biking, whereas cars and buses can
    – independent (bus is not independent)
    – biking does does not cause air pollution
    – biking takes up less space on city streets (helps alleviate traffic jams)

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    Dan July 22, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Have you read “The Art of Cycling”? Great book. Might save your life.

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    Johnny July 22, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    LESTER
    I see far too many clowns on Vanc/Williams, Esplanade and close-in Springwater going way too fast for conditions and passing too closely.Aggromuters are wack!Recommended 0

    Too fast and too close are both subjective. The truth is my speed is the right speed and my distance is the right distance. Sorry bud, I don’t know how fast you think I should be going or how close I should be passing.

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      lop July 22, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      Do drivers get to say the same ?

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        invisiblebikes July 23, 2015 at 10:20 am

        Drivers have Very Strict Laws to follow so the answer to your ironic question is absolutely not and there is no comparison.

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          lop July 23, 2015 at 10:47 am

          Bikes have laws to follow with regards to approaching pedestrians on sidewalks and other shared spaces. Or do they not count because once you’re the stronger actor in an interaction any law that slows you down for the sake of the weaker actor’s safety and comfort is wrong? That seems to be the opinion of a fair number of cyclists ( And motorists, but people here seem better at recognizing that)

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            invisiblebikes July 23, 2015 at 11:02 am

            You’ll never get a fair comparison of any kind comparing cyclists to cars… a bike and rider traveling 20 mph is 1000 times more maneuverable can stop on a dime and will do 1000 times less harm to a pedestrian.
            Once again your ironic comparison is void of any substance.

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    Ward July 22, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    I have been bike-only for a few decades and the “rude/entitled cyclist” problem here has definitely gotten worse. My guess is that it is tied to the heavy influx of new residents who frequently hail from places where folks are less polite. And many of these people(fixie riders come to mind) seem to view a bike as a fashion accessory. I don’t expect these types to have any solidarity with their fellow cyclists, which of course makes it hard for me to have any with them.

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    SW July 22, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    I will NOT ride without a helmet mounted mirror.that’s like making lane changes in a car without mirrors ..scarey.

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      Dan July 23, 2015 at 9:32 am

      I guess it depends on your flexibility. I’m more comfortable turning and looking back frequently than I am wearing a mirror.

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        invisiblebikes July 23, 2015 at 10:25 am

        Agreed Dan, and I will add to it by saying I am more comfortable being very aware of my surroundings and using all of my senses.

        I can tell you what kind of car is approaching by the sound and what color it is and how many people are in it usually well before you can distinguish that in your mirror… because I pay attention the entire time I’m riding and saw that car well before it ever gets close to me.

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    kenny July 22, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    I would say part of this is due to culture. Americans are commonly in a rush. It is also due to cycling as transport still being a bit of a novelty. What, 6% commute in this city? How many in Germany? Like 15%? Amsterdam, 30+%? Add more infra, more dedicated cycle tracks and slow down autos.. then the cycling feel will change.

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    Rush Hour Alleycat July 23, 2015 at 8:04 am

    lop
    Is that how you want people to drive around you when you bike in the road?Recommended 0

    After I’ve safely moved over to the right for them, which o do automatically? Yeah that’s exactly how I want them to pass.

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      Rush Hour Alleycat July 23, 2015 at 8:08 am

      I’m certainly not going to make them honk or yell to move over, if I can already be over.

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      lop July 23, 2015 at 10:44 am

      So you want drivers coralling bikes the way you corral pedestrians?

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    Mindful Cyclist July 23, 2015 at 9:16 am

    “So I just started commuting to work. Its a 20 mile round trip commute, and I have never biked in a city before. I’m still getting used to the signs and routes. I read up on the laws, visited this site, got gear, maps and books. I consider myself as prepared as I could be for a new cyclist.”

    There is no amount of reading blogs or other info sites about biking or reading up on the laws or getting gear and maps that can replace actually riding.

    I grew up in a small city. When I moved to a big city and started driving on the freeways, it freaked me out. However, I just kept doing it and it became less nerve wracking. The same logic is going to apply to riding a bike in a city. The folks that have been doing this for several years and going to be going faster and will know the routes.

    Now, if there are people that are shouting out names and using profanity, that is not cool. But, please don’t let that stop you from riding. You are going to turn over the car keys if someone honks and flips you off, right?

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    jeff July 23, 2015 at 11:12 am

    has anyone else crossed paths with the white haired old lady around Waterfront park who loudly cusses out anyone who gets within 10 feet of her on her bike. she is one grumpy old b*tch, but I always get a laugh.

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    sam July 23, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Sadly, common courtesy, if it ever really existed, is pretty damn spotty these days whether you’re on foot, a bus, car or bike. A read through the comments in this post gives a good picture – so many voices full of spitty conviction either supporting or just justifying their own behavior. Empathy and courtesy are for losers, I guess.

    Some of us have been dealing with the same thing for many, many years. And it can be exhausting, never feeling free to just go. Keep your head up, grit your teeth and carry on riding politely. Maybe find yourself a dumb mantra (or something to hum) that you can use when it feels gross and hairy. You’ll get stronger and smoother and every time you finish your impressive commute in spite of the asses and their assy ways, the world’s store of courtesy will have increased a teeny bit, thanks to you.

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    Jeff M July 23, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Sounds like she needs to learn how to ride a bike as a vehicle. If you’re being unpredictable and cutting people off, you’re going to get yelled at, whether driving or riding.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu July 23, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Anyway, I hope Rachel keeps riding and learning, and writes back in a month or three, to tell us how it’s going.

    It would be funny if she finds herself become a streamlined speed demon with steel thighs in lycra, flying down the road at speeds that were unthinkable when she first started riding!

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    Carrie July 23, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    So just yesterday I was in my carbon-bike-plus-lycra kit riding through downtown after work. And I had to cut off three pedestrians to avoid a car driver making an interesting manuever. So I apologized to the peds — and wow did quick “I’m sorry I cut you off” apology go a long way in making everyone feel better about a bad situation. I know it’s trite, but seriously sharing the road does make for better relationships.

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    Holly July 23, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    Thank you for sharing Rachel’s story. I’ve been commuting by bike for the past two years in Portland and I still experience the rudeness she talks about, almost on a daily basis. I hope bikePortland shares more stories like this and that it helps to create change.

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    chris July 24, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Rude bikers are not a just on the springwater trail, but city wide, unfortunately. And 99% of the time, it is a man dressed head to toe in spandex. Almost weekly, I come within a few feet of being t-boned by some guy blasting full speed through a 4 way stop, after I have made a lawful stop and continue on my way. This most often happens at SE 34th & Salmon, SE 58th & Woodward, and SE 72nd & Center on my daily commute. I’m no noob to bike commuting either, been riding in this city for 15 years now and I seem to encounter more and more rude people who need a vocabulary refresher for complicated words like “share”. Share the road, share the laws. Just because my bike cost $100 and yours was $5000 doesn’t give you the right to treat me like crap.

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      Dan July 26, 2015 at 10:23 am

      Is that supposed to be an actual statistic? Because only superheroes or superfans dress ‘head to toe in spandex’.

      I ride in spandex bibs & jersey, and consider myself ‘extremely polite’. I encounter a few other spandexed riders on my route, but when I am cut off it is almost always by guys in regular clothing rolling through 4-way stops directly in front of me when it’s my turn to go.

      Now, that’s purely anecdotal evidence for me, for my route, at the time that I go. I don’t think I can safely say, ‘99% of the time it’s guys in regular clothing’, even if that is my experience. It sounds to me like you have some kind of hang up…

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        My Magic Hat July 26, 2015 at 6:30 pm

        No doubt. I once watched a perfectly normal looking guy in “street clothes” get right hooked at a 4-way. The very surprised driver stopped and asked if the rider was okay and this mild-looking rider spouted every obscenity in the book.

        He never seemed to consider the fact that he’d just run into a vehicle that was making a legal right turn after stopping, while HE (the cyclist) was running the stop sign at full speed. D!ck move. Not the only time I’ve seen such a bulls#it display.

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        Pete July 27, 2015 at 8:57 am

        I dress my head in spandex. Quite comfortable actually, and it enables me to see through walls. I think it’ll catch on someday.

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    Marshall Guthrie July 25, 2015 at 10:20 am

    We always have options. When biking, driving, waiting in line, serving or being served…we can choose to make rude comments and embrace a negative attitude, or be friendly and embrace a positive attitude. If it makes you feel better to be mean to someone else, on or off a bike, you might want to spend a few minutes in a quiet room thinking about your life.

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    Tom Hardy July 25, 2015 at 11:25 am

    Speaking of close riders. Riders in close proximity to each other, I have no trouble with if they are far enough back to miss my wheel in case of emergency stops. Peds, I try to give a little room and a whole lot more room that the bystanders do on TDF in the mountain stages.

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    P.I.P. August 7, 2015 at 8:57 am

    In Europe, cooperation among bicyclists is more prevalent. Use of a bicyclist’s bell signals: “I am here, soon to pass you” whereas in Portland, use of a bicyclist’s bell so often means: “get the F*** outta my way”. The Portland bicycle “community” needs to grow up. Portland’s bicyclists leave a far worse taste in my mouth than do motorists, although I concede each group has it’s bad apples, and each group has plenty of good citizens. I drive a car and ride a bike, both. It isn’t “us vs. them”. Grow up already!

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    Ron Swaren September 10, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    I live right on the Springwater Corridor. Thanks for the new interest in my neighborhood, I do hope to cash in sometime soon and move where it is quieter! It is really tough, many times, just to get out of the driveway and now I always back in to my driveway so I can see better when pulling out: Sometimes groups of people, you can barely see because of the shade trees against the sunshine. ( I think single file is the law). No warning devices in use, AT ALL. (And car drivers do not use them either). Often riders at night with no lights. Skateboarders and runners running down the street (Again, this is against the law…look it up. This is now a neighborhood street, not technically the trail, and pedestrians are confined to the sidewalk, it is the law). I can’t wait for the actual link along the RR to be finished. Oh, and did I mention arguments between cyclists and drivers?

    The upshot of this: We need a new campaign for “Defensive Cycling and Driving” Tactics. The Defensive Driving program in the 1970’s was a huge step forward—convincing people to look out for other people, even if you yourself are in the right. Do what you can to avoid an accident or trouble. This should happen with cyclists, too, and if they were mature adults it would. Also we need to revamp our laws; When something takes off as a trend that is just a natural result. Look at how laws have changed in the computer age, and you would be mad at lawmakers if they had not revamped those laws.

    At bottom, I agree that spending money on roads can be very wasteful spending—-many times. But, hey, I don’t have TIME to get around everywhere on a bike, and in the winter it can be downright dangerous, irrespective of what motor traffic is on the road. When you are a homeowner you have to get things, do things, get to places—–I wish I still had a truck, but have switched to a higher mpg car. If I can, I conduct business with a bike ride—-but that is actually very rare. It is more of an exercise things and for a few special events, where I can work an exercise purpose into it.

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      Pete September 11, 2015 at 11:19 am

      Thanks for your perspective Ron. I wanted to comment on a few of your statements:

      1) Single file is not “the law” – common misconception. ORS 814 allows bicyclists (and motorcyclists and moped riders) to ride two abreast, so long as it is at “the normal speed of traffic.” Specifically for bicyclists it’s 814.430-2(e): ” (e) When operating a bicycle alongside not more than one other bicycle as long as the bicycles are both being operated within a single lane and in a manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.”

      2) “This should happen with cyclists, too, and if they were mature adults it would. “: I am a mature adult cyclist, as are most people I know. Maybe you don’t know many cyclists? Or maybe you know many mature adults and don’t know that they are also cyclists? Not sure what you’re implying here.

      3) “When you are a homeowner you have to get things, do things, get to places…”: I own multiple homes in multiple states, and I travel globally for work. I’ve sometimes used a commercial van for large remodeling projects I’ve done myself, but have otherwise find no need to own a truck. My wife and I have found bicycles to be the most sensible way to get around for local errands – and work commute for her. We’ve heard all the colorful rationale from so many otherwise capable people who drive short distances to work daily but spend most of that time stopped. We also have lots of neighbors with pickups and SUVs who drive them two miles to Costco once a week (oh, and most with no kids). Readers of this site know people with multiple kids who don’t own cars but manage to feed them and get them to school. (One or two might even own their own home ;).

      By the way, if you think your neighborhood has become popular, you should see mine!

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