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Taking the pulse: Aggressive driving in Portland

Posted by on November 12th, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Riding Portland's urban highways-37

What’s going on out there?
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Part of my job is to monitor various sources of information. As I do that, trends often start to emerge. Recently I’ve sensed an uptick in chatter about how “aggressive driving is getting worse in Portland.” I’ve also heard of a few specific incidents just in the last day or so.

I’m putting this on the Front Page to hear more from you and gain more understanding about whether or not aggressive driving is indeed on the rise or if these are isolated incidents that don’t point to a larger trend.

Yesterday a reader called the police after someone tried to “mow” her down while she rode on Sandy:

“Another day, another police call because some fucker tried to mow me down on Sandy then pulled over so he could scream at me that I was going to get killed and follow me down the street while I ran to hide inside a store.

The police guy came to find me inside the store, heard the story, said the car wasn’t there anymore and they would keep patrolling the area. (I had run about 2 blocks away)”

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Then this morning, Adam Herstein claimed on Twitter that he was harrassed and yelled at while biking on SE Clinton:

When we posted our story about mayoral candidate Ted Wheeler’s plans to revamp the bureau of transportation, reader Brett Luelling wrote in to say he feels aggressive riving is “the biggest issue facing cyclists in Portland.” Luelling, who used to live in Salem and thinks people are much more courteous there, thinks we should approach the problem with outreach and education using the MADD model. “I raced for many years and have basically stopped riding road since moving to Portland and instead have been focusing on trail running,” Luelling says.

Personally I have not noticed any more aggression out there than usual; but it still bums me out to hear that other people are having these experiences.

What about you? Do you think these are just isolated anecdotes or do you feel like people are being more aggressive towards other road users? If so, what would you attribute it to?

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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maxD
Guest
maxD

mixed bag in my experience:
1. people driving seemed resigned to and aware of bikes in bike lanes and on greenways- that is a good thing
2. people driving seem to be increasingly oblivious- and they often react in anger when they realize they just did something dangerous/stupid
3. people driving seem more possessive of of roads w/o bike infrastructure and increasingly intolerant of the people riding bikes who they find there.

As an anecdote: I frequently rode home over Tabor/Rocky Butte this past summer after work. People driving were mostly patient on Harrison/Going and in the parks. I had to be very vigilant at intersections because lots of spaced out drivers running stop signs, drifting out of lanes, etc. One evening got a text to hustle home while descending Rocky Butte. I hopped on Prescott and cranked. I had 2 people yell at me that there was a “bike street” a couple of blocks over.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Its likely these drivers are feeling “surrounded” by growing bicycle traffic [and less roadway room] and projecting their general life stress onto cyclists.

Afterall, cyclists are almost the last societal group remaining that motorists can vent about [and strike/run over / kill] with little or no ire from society or government agencies.

LC
Guest
LC

If someone decides to tell you what their interpretation of the rules is, tell them that if they see a crime to call the police.

Joe
Guest
Joe

I recently moved back to Portland after being away for three years. I’m living in the same place and biking the same areas (with the same bike and generally wearing the same jacket).

It definitely seems to me that biking has gotten a bit more hostile. Drivers seem less patient and less aware. I’ve had a more close calls than I ever remember having before – even in places where they’ve “improved” the bike facilities (had a very very close call at Grand + E Burnside with someone turning right).

I was coming from a place where biking was much less the norm so I was excited to come back to the bike-friendly city of Portland, but have been pretty disappointed.

The biking atmosphere has definitely regressed since I left.

Adam
Subscriber

I’d say it’s about a weekly occurance. Nearly always on Clinton.

A few weeks ago, someone was following me and laying on his horn for a good ten blocks before he sped off, nearly knocking me off my bike.

I’ve been yelled at “THIS IS WHY EVERYONE HATES YOU PEOPLE”.

Last week, someone passed me within inches and yelled at me to get off the road while honking aggressively.

Last night, a man in an SUV was following me far too closely for my comfort basically from Chavez to 12th. I kept motioning for him to back off, but he instead decided to drive up alongside me (on the wrong side of the road, mind you) to tell me to get of of his way. I told him to keep his eyes on the road because he almost hit another person while he had his head turned at me driving in the oncoming lane. He then sped off, to which I called him a coward for yelling at me from inside his metal cage. He slammed on his brakes and got out of his car to try and “bro intimidate” me, but I didn’t want to risk him attacking me, so I rode off. When he caught up with me at 12th, he yelled at me some more, called me “crazy” and that “I should go home to my cat” (wtf?). I just kept repeating “stop harrassing me” loudly enough for others to hear. The TriMet “safety” ambassadors overheard the exchange but of course did nothing to intervene.

The harassment is worse when I make full stops at stop signs since drivers get more frustrated that I’m slowing them down. I ride in the middle of the lane (as the new MAY USE FULL LANE) signs instruct me to. As far as I know, there is no speed minimum for people riding bikes. I follow the law and am still harassed. There is zero police enforcement for aggressive driving that I can see, yet neighbors complain that there needs to be more stop sign enforcement for cyclists.

Spiffy
Subscriber

what I don’t understand is why you think it wouldn’t get worse…

with continued lack of enforcement and lack of real consequences there’s no reason for drivers to be nicer to cyclists…

if it only costs $260 to kill a cyclist then many people will consider it worth the risk just the same as they risk a speeding ticket every time they drive…

soren
Guest
soren

I’ve recently had multiple drivers scream at me unintelligibly, honk at me, and/or flip me off because I refuse to cede my right of way at stop signs. This is something that was very rare a few years ago.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I haven’t noticed an uptick in aggression as of late. I have always dealt with some j@ck*ss about three times per week. What I have noticed is that this place (SE especially) is clogged with autos during peak commute times, much more so than the not so distant past. Perhaps the drivers are projecting anger about the worsening driving conditions at cyclists? It’s easier to be an @ss to someone on a bike, the smaller “other,” than someone in a car.

RH
Guest
RH

Traffic is worse which is causing drivers to get frustrated…which means they can get upset at a efficient cyclist not having to deal with any of it.

barb lin
Guest
barb lin

What a depressing article! What horrific comments. Do you actually think there are fellow citizens out there who wouldn’t mind injuring you? Some hate a slow down’ but more are stressed out because they almost killed you and had to screech to a halt and hope not to get rear ended. This is a basic issue of a 35 MPH vehicle using the same pavement space as a 12 mph vehicle. Go ahead and crucify me but I can’t think of any reason I would ever ride on NE Sandy for more than a block or 2. Its awful and dangerous and its toxic air. Largely this aggression is a sad symptom of becoming a more crowded, more congested place. So now that’s you’ve seen some of our grey and rain maybe you want to reconsider AZ, UT, CO, and CA? Hey I hear Boise is super cool.

stasia:)
Guest

I don’t want to downplay people’s experiences of aggression, but I also wonder how much of this is perceiving what you’re looking for? If you think drivers are going to be aggressive, it’s easy to interpret any action as an aggression (especially because of the inherent power imbalance of giant car vs. little bike) –but if you assume positive intent the world looks a lot different.

Again, not to say that aggression doesn’t exist. (Or that it’s okay. Because it’s not.) But if you’re looking for it, I suspect it seems to exist a lot more.

TonyT
Guest
Tony T

And let’s just pause to think about what would have happened to that driver if he HAD mowed Esther down. He would have been free to claim he didn’t see her and walk with a ticket. Maybe.

I really do believe that the fact that drivers can kill someone and all the state requires of them is that they pay $260 (civil is another matter), contributes to an atmosphere of “as long as I don’t do it on purpose” I’m okay.

People read the stories and look at the VERY high bar of criminal negligence or intent and say to themselves, “that’s not me.” They can speed, not be prepared to yield at EVERY intersection, tailgate, yap on the phone, and still tell themselves that they are doing all the state really asks of them. Because the way it plays out, vis-à-vis accountability for injuring/killing people, it really IS all the state asks. They aren’t drunk or high, they aren’t going “that fast,” they aren’t acting out Death Race 2000, they aren’t running from the cops, so it’s all good.

The idea that people who drive have to be proactive in their safe operation is simply NOT enforced by the powers that be. Until sober, well-dressed, professional people with families and no prior record start going to jail because they injured/killed someone, even if they didn’t do anything egregious, killing someone will “just be an accident.”

christopher
Guest

I live on Division so I am constantly crossing division to get to Clinton or to get back home. I deal with aggressive drivers on a daily basis.

Anne Hawley
Subscriber
Anne Hawley

Definitely seems worse to me, but I retired from a regular business-hours daily commute two years ago, and since then I’ve been experiencing different parts of the city at different times of the day.

So I can’t tell whether I was just lucky to be riding in a super-bike-normal area (NE to downtown) during super-bike-normal times, where car drivers were used to us and didn’t get too mad.

But I’ve been threatened, crowded, revved past, yelled at, etc., several times lately versus almost never during almost six years of a regular commute. It’s disheartening and scary.

And yes, barb lin, in my experience, there definitely do seem to be “fellow citizens out there” who, at least in the moment of their extreme anger and frustration at seeing a woman on a Dutch bike on a side street, would not at all mind injuring me.

Mike G
Guest
Mike G

It does seem like things are changing out there. In my fitness wanderings in all 5 sectors of this city and beyond the inner city southwest still leads in a modest civility to bicyclists in comparison to experiences that I have had in east Multnomah county i,e, barging me out of lanes, hollering to get off the road, and more such vitriol.

Modest I say, only in comparison to what I have experienced in Northwest: a holler “no more bikes” followed by what sounded like a gunshot (I didn’t stick around to find out seeking a safe spot to call 911), and then only yesterday being spit at by a sidewalk inhabitant on the Esplanade. (fortunately his trajectory was a little off..)

You have to ride defensively everywhere. Remember the Navy’s advise that right-of-way is based on gross tonnage.

Pedestrians and bicycles come out on the bottom, literally.

RH
Guest
RH

I ride from N Portland to downtown over the Broadway. I pretty much have a bike lane.the whole way. I haven’t noticed much aggression. Maybe the bike lanes help with this ?

Justin Gast
Guest
Justin Gast

My issues are with

1). Oblivious drivers, most notably those who turn into the New Seasons on Williams without checking to see if a cyclist is coming; and

2). Drivers pulling out in front of cyclists to go eastbound on N Willamette. During rush hour, sometimes a driver’s opening to merge onto Willamette can be tight. A lot of drivers are only paying attention to oncoming cars and checking to see whether or not they can make an opening. This is the only stretch of my ride where I switch my front light to flashing, so that cars are guaranteed to see me (if you can’t see a 700 lumens strobe light, then you probably shouldn’t be driving). Drivers operating in this manner is also evident in Williams, where such openings are also few and far between.

Ian
Guest
Ian

Honestly, I experience a lot more aggression from cyclists than I do from motorists on my commutes (which take me along busy cycling roads in inner SE and downtown). And, you know, I find myself falling victim to this myself, too – I feel offended when a cyclist I just passed shoals/passes me at a stop sign, or when a cyclist who can’t quite pass me rides my tail for blocks, and at the same time I sometimes find myself trying to catch up to cyclists that I feel have rudely passed me, as if to make a point. I know this is unhealthy behavior, and I want to be better at confronting my own competitive tendencies; I wonder if I’m alone in feeling like commuting by bike in Portland is an oddly competitive and antagonistic exercise.

I think stasia makes a good point about cyclists looking for aggression, and I often feel like cyclists are too eager to find something to be righteously indignant about (both on the roads and in these comments sections). I have a feeling I’m going to be shot down here, even though I’m not necessarily making any particular point; I guess I’m just curious if others have thoughts about the aggressiveness of Portland’s commuting cyclists, or also catch themselves feeling similar tendencies, and if anyone has thoughts about how to address the antagonism within the cycling community here.

Justin Gast
Guest
Justin Gast

Tony T
And let’s just pause to think about what would have happened to that driver if he HAD mowed Esther down. He would have been free to claim he didn’t see her and walk with a ticket. Maybe.I really do believe that the fact that drivers can kill someone and all the state requires of them is that they pay $260 (civil is another matter), contributes to an atmosphere of “as long as I don’t do it on purpose” I’m okay.People read the stories and look at the VERY high bar of criminal negligence or intent and say to themselves, “that’s not me.” They can speed, not be prepared to yield at EVERY intersection, tailgate, yap on the phone, and still tell themselves that they are doing all the state really asks of them. Because the way it plays out, vis-à-vis accountability for injuring/killing people, it really IS all the state asks. They aren’t drunk or high, they aren’t going “that fast,” they aren’t acting out Death Race 2000, they aren’t running from the cops, so it’s all good.The idea that people who drive have to be proactive in their safe operation is simply NOT enforced by the powers that be. Until sober, well-dressed, professional people with families and no prior record start going to jail because they injured/killed someone, even if they didn’t do anything egregious, killing someone will “just be an accident.”Recommended 0

If Ted Wheeler really wants to prove to us that he’s a part of our community, he’d see to it that motorists receive harsher penalties when involved in situations where a cyclist is seriously injured, or unfortunately killed, due to the driver’s inability to operate a vehicle.

SD
Guest
SD

I have a great commute without much car/bike conflict, but the place where I have had bad interactions over the past year has been on NE Beech between MLK and N Williams. The car traffic on Freemont is much worse due to construction/ population increase, so a lot of drivers cut through the residential area on Beech. It is awkward, because many drivers, who are already going fast to justify their detour, want to speed around me, but because there are frequent stop signs, we take about the same time overall. It is rare, but a few drivers have basically tried squeezing as close as they can to the right to block me or, when I am actually next to them, force me behind them. The most annoying is when they are behind me and honk at me when I am waiting to cross MLK. I think some drivers don’t realize how loud a horn is when you are not hearing it from inside of a car.

Short answer: Increasing standstill traffic on arterials has led to more residential through traffic and more conflict. Most drivers are courteous and cooperative, but a few are angry and aggressive.

Champs
Guest
Champs

People used to be better at handling confirmation bias, but kids these days, amirite?

Anecdotally I haven’t had any recent incidents, but on foot during rush hour in the past week, the lead rider on Williams politely stopped the bunch so we could cross. No good deed going unpunished, there was a pretty brazen left hook in front of about five people in the bike lane by Dawson Park on the way back.

That indignity, just when they got past the tree roots and debris north of Russell. Not a fan of curbside lanes.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

For me, it’s the pernicious drifting of the car across the painted line of the bike lane on arterials (Interstate, Willamette, etc). 9 times out of 10 seems like it is just absent-mindedness from the drivers, but certainly there is a decent % of drivers that are “sending a message” to me as they pass by that they have the big heavy car and could hurt me with one flick of the wrist. This is all too common. I’m just minding my own business pedaling along in the bike lane and routinely get the aggressive crossing of the painted line, revving of the engine, aggressive swerving, etc. Angry drivers upset that you don’t have to stop in traffic like they do, you can go to front of the line at the red light and they are stuck waiting….this is what I see. Of course, the occasional real A-hole also stands out for other reasons, but this type of behavior has been bothering me, recently.

Aixe Djelal
Subscriber

I’ve noticed that motorist behavior really varies by time of day, and by part of town.

During my morning commute from SE Portland to downtown, motorists seem pretty aware of me and are courteous. Once I get downtown, we are all going the same speed, and drivers appear to be aware and accepting that there are bicycles all around them.

On my way home, by contrast, everyone is more impatient. The later it gets after 5pm, the more impatient people are (motorists and cyclists alike). Motorists didn’t used to honk very much in Portland, but now I hear honking through downtown nearly every evening. They’re not honking at cyclists necessarily, but perhaps just out of gridlock frustration. It is a lot more crowded on the streets than it was even a year ago.

If I meet people for happy hour, I usually do so in SE, as close to home as possible. After 6pm, drivers get a lot more reckless and oblivious, probably because they’re either eager to get home or they’ve had a couple of drinks. My closest calls have been in the middle of the evening.

I think Portland is simply a lot more crowded, there are people moving here who are not used to driving around cyclists, don’t know what bike boxes are for (I’ve politely educated a couple motorists with good results), and are impatient about the slow pace of traffic. Similarly, I am seeing a lot more cyclists on the roads, and in the evenings, cyclists seem to take a lot more risks than in the mornings. Be careful out there, friends.

kittens
Guest
kittens

A toxic brew of people angry about the loss of the old Portland, the increased density, congestion and the national trend towards a “us versus them” winner take-all mentality.

For better or worse, the roads are the public forum and people’s behavior is indicative of our inability to live with each other.

Libertarian neocon politics may or may not be the cause but it does serve to make it worse.

scott
Guest
scott

The few bad apples increases with more trees in the orchard. Get a thick skin. It will get worse before it gets better.

pdx2wheeler
Guest
pdx2wheeler

Was yelled at today on Interstate Ave. for taking the lane between Tillamook and Broadway, right where there are 2 signs saying, “Road Narrows, Bikes in Lane…” It was a mini-van, back passenger opened the sliding door to hurl their insults at me. Was also being honked at by the driver in front of that mini van. So I got a 2 for 1… I was in the lane for maybe 20 seconds to avoid the pinch point at the Larrabee fly-over. I will continue to take the lane regardless, wish me luck!

I have it on video…, but figured it didn’t warrant a police report.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

My experience in a number of locales over the past five decades causes me to see this uptick in aggressive behavior by motorists as a very good thing. That’s based on my (unproven) hypothesis that at low levels of cycling, motorists are fairly obliging of the weirdos on the bikes. At high levels of cycling, motorists give up fighting and find ways to get along with the large numbers. In the middle, they see it as worthwhile to fight for “their” roads and try to intimidate people off of their bikes.

The recent uptick in riding in Portland, after years of stagnation, may have bumped ridership up out of that low-level-get-along area into the middle zone full of fight. One more level up and it all goes away. Of course the new riders may give in so that ridership drops back into the low level region again.

spencer
Guest
spencer

going to and from SE is sucky for all driving now. there used to be quick arterials, and quick cut throughs. no more, every street is slow, and now every aspect of the car commute is slow. i get mad at pedestrians in the summer on the esplanade because they slow me down. this is the same phenomenon. people are pissed because they cant drive fast, and they are menacing to cyclists. its got to stop before someone gets ‘raged to death. just keep taking the lane, and those car commuting on Clinton will transfer to Gresham.

realworld
Guest
realworld

phew that hit 50 responses fast… you may get the highest # comments in history on this one Jonathan

ethan
Guest
ethan

I had a REALLY bad experience the other day.

I was riding on the sidewalk on Going, approaching MLK. When it was clear I started crossing in the crosswalk and someone, who was quite a ways away while I started across the street, sped up and deliberately tried to hit me with their car.

Traffic was pretty heavy so I pretty easily followed them, caught up to them, stopped them, got their name and license and was just about to call the police when I happened to see a police officer down the road.

I flagged him down and told him what happened. He just shrugged about it. So I asked if he would do anything about it and he said no. I gave him the information again (driver’s name and license number) and even pointed to the car, but he just sort of shrugged it off.

So I started arguing with him and getting a little heated (to be fair, someone just attempted to run me over). He told me that riding on the sidewalk and crosswalk is illegal (it’s not) and he told me that it was my fault for not having a rear light (which had nothing to do with the incident and isn’t a requirement).

After arguing with him some more and pleading with him to go after the person who was slowly driving away, he completely turned the tables and started treating me like I had broken the law. He asked for ID and called for backup (seriously!).

He also had his hand on what appeared to either be a tazer or mace (I didn’t really want to find out).

And he repeatedly said that he “could ticket me for riding in the crosswalk.”

He never attempted to go after the person who intentionally tried to run me over.

jeff
Guest
jeff

Ride Clinton twice a day, every day, and haven’t had a single issue in probably 2-3 years. I ride fast, I obey traffic signs, and I don’t ride down the middle of the lane. Amazing what courtesy does…

Hazel
Guest
Hazel

I have most certainly seen a huge increase in aggressive/dangerous behavior by drivers. I’m lucky if I don’t experience it several times a week. I occasionally drive and see it when I’m behind the wheel and it’s not just centered on cyclists. It is happening to other drivers too when certain folks feel like people are driving too slow. Also, you should probably spend a few evening on N Williams at rush hour if you want an easy spot to witness aggressive driving.

Matt F
Guest
Matt F

It feels like there are more people (in cars and on bikes) that are in a hurry than they’re used to be. I’ve had to tell a couple of fellow bike commuters that they’re biking like jerks recently (passing on the right, going up on the sidewalk to go around a bus at a bus stop). And, as for cars, there are more cars on the road, more congestion, so more people are in a hurry.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

Using a ride camera has given me more security when dealing with aggressive drivers. Worst case I end up with footage that is evidence, best case I get to put someone’s bad behavior on Youtube.

(also, it keeps me in check because I know I’m on camera)

WAR
Guest
WAR

Ya’ll Need to get some Motorcycles.

Ben
Guest
Ben

I had a weird experience this week. I was riding through Ladd’s behind a half-dozen other commuters on the way home when a man driving an Audi hatchback with California plates, apparently fed up with traveling only 17 mph, floored it to get past us. I shouted at him. When I caught up to him a few blocks later—because in Ladd’s Addition at rush hour it’s really impossible to travel faster, on average, than bike traffic—he shouted back, “Share the road!”

lop
Guest
lop

It’s November. People are acting like crap. I’ve seen more hostility than over the summer, that’s to be expected. Note this is from motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. And targeted at motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Needless to say given the greater potential for harm it’s most concerning when the behavior comes from a motorist. It’s cloudy now. Go to safeway or vitamin shop and pick up some D3, 2000 IU per day. Half the new aggression will disappear if you’re not so on edge yourself. To get the rest of it you’ll need everyone else to do the same. I say we start putting it in the water.

Matt
Guest
Matt

I have lived in NE Portland off of Alberta for almost nine years. The first six years was without a bike. I have been driving the last three with little biking. In those three years (especially NE Portland) I have felt an uptick in traffic and congestion. I wonder if what cyclists are feeling, everyone including drivers are feeling it as well? I have been driving to the I5 onramp off Alberta for two years and it was more congested than ever. It used to take 3-5 minutes with traffic to get to the onramp, now it is taking 4-9 minutes. Not much of a difference, but enough to notice.

joel
Guest

as a bike messenger and general all-around bike rider in portland for 11 years now, i cant say ive noticed any particular uptick in aggressive driving. it *does* seem like there are more cars on the road than there used to be, but i havent noticed them being any more aggressive than before.

that being said… ive also been a bike messenger for a total of 21 years. a *lot* of what other people notice from cars as aggressive or similar behavior, i largely ignore. i also ride a *lot* more assertively than most cyclists, and as a 6’1″ 200lb male on a cargo bike, i have the privilege of drivers being perhaps a little less willing to start stuff with me. so, no more so than anyone else, but perhaps in a different way, my observations should be taken with a grain of salt.

Eric G
Guest
Eric G

I’ve ridden daily from SE to Downtown for 10+ years. No problems. Drivers often too nice, yielding in weird places. More car traffic and more bike traffic, and occasionally somebody will do something dumb, but no problems really with drivers.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Part of this “problem” is often the “half” measure that some congested arterials [not local streets] are being designed with to give bicyclists some access but without really rethinking how the street should be laid out for improved safety and mobility.

The new red flag is the use of the sign “cyclists may use the full lane” in longer segments where city engineers (planners) and leaders are unwilling to remove on-street parking in order to create the correct/ safer bike transportation facility.

chris
Guest
chris

I haven’t had any drivers honk or yell at me recently, maybe because I’m fairly tall and ride fast? That said, I see a greater number of cars being driven aggressively. I see way more motorists flooring it and driving in a abrupt start/stop style that I associate with other cities in the U.S. I used to get frustrated by the the Oregonian “Sunday driver” style, but what I’m now seeing a lot of is far worse. It’s a combination of different driving styles, which has led to far less predictability. Congestion also seems to be far worse, so people respond to it unpredictably and erratically. For example, at the stop light where the MAX crosses Moody, I recently waited for a ten minute stop light at CLSB. Two motorists crossed over into the opposite traffic lane and ran the red.

Jen
Guest
Jen

I’ve noticed an increase in generally more aggressive driving- speeding up to get through yellow/red lights, speeding, honking. I don’t think it’s just directed at bicyclists. The road congestion is getting worse, and traffic apps (waze, google maps) will direct people to drive down roads they might not have used previously (notably, the neighborhood greenways). The greenways used to function very well because they were low traffic. As traffic (specifically high speed, cut-through traffic) increases, they become much less safe for cyclists and pedestrians.

Unless there is enforcement of the laws, most people will continue to break them. I’ve noticed they use a photo radar van on Hawthorne most mornings, so everyone will go 25 mph until they clear where the van is normally parked.

while I don’t think most people actually want to hurt someone- I think there is a weird disconnect once they get in their car. I’ve talked people who drive aggressively and they will use terms like “bump”, “brush”, “nudge”, “run over”. When asked if they want to hurt, maim or murder, they will insist they do not- but most will still profess to wanting to hit them with their vehicle. I think people tend to view pedestrians and bicyclists as something that might get bumped and bruised or scraped (like another car), but not as a human being physically hurt.

Abraham
Guest
Abraham

I don’t really have a lot of the problems that others on this site seem to be dealing with. I commute by bike full-time, year-round and almost never have negative interactions with drivers. I make myself very visible, especially in the fall/winter months. I take the lane when necessary. Sure, every now and then a driver will cut me off because they aren’t paying attention but I kind of just take that as part of sharing a road. The same thing happens when I drive or ride my motorcycle on weekends. There are a lot of positive steps being taken by the city in the name of cycling and I hope to see that continue. In the meantime I think it’s important to have some perspective and not make it an us vs. them problem, but rather a collaborative effort to continue improving transportation for everyone.

Cory Poole
Guest
Cory Poole

I’ve ridden bicycles in Salem for most of my life. I can tell you that it is a far worse riding environment then Portland. I have been yelled at, swerved at and had a variety of objects thrown at me from moving cars. While I know Portland has it’s bad spots after living in Salem and Chicago I have to say that riding in Portland is like a dream!

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Fortunately, these days, out in Beaverton, I don’t have to be in traffic a lot, though I have plenty of opportunity to observe it from a safe distance. Given how congested are the main roads in this area, I don’t doubt that an increase in aggressive driving is cropping up.

Traffic congestion, I think, makes for very difficult traffic conditions, that test people’s ability to withstand tension. Some people likely don’t have a lot of ability to handle tension well, which on the road, may come out as aggressive driving.

There’s a bunch of major roads in the Beaverton area where the on the road tension level may be high: Murray, Canyon in Beaverton, TV Hwy, Walker, Jenkins, 185th, Farmington, Beav-Hillsdale, Cedar Hills Blvd, and more. Congestion just gets worse and worse, and people’s nerves can get frazzled.

If at all possible, I ride where traffic congestion can be expected to be low. Been a long time since, out in the Beav, I’ve observed or been involved in some of the nightmare kinds of traffic confrontations some people here have described having been involved in, in Portland. People very consistently keep their cool out here, but I’m afraid the pot is close to boiling.

Biking and walking, taking side streets, allows me to keep out of that mess. No way do I want to have to be in the main road traffic jam ups, especially not day after day, like it’s clearly evident some people are. Reducing the road tension that very likely is a big contributor to aggressive driving, may be one of the strong reasons favoring the creation of better walking and biking infrastructure.

Mindful Cyclist
Guest
Mindful Cyclist

Can’t say I have seen any noticeable change. I ride quickly down East Burnside from 61st to 41st just about every day the past 4 years and one time I got honked at and one time and told to “use a bike street” once, but other than that, a couple of times I have been buzzed close, but no other instances. One time going East on SE Stark a few years ago, some bored kids hucked their big gulp my direction.

That all being said, I have seen a chance in the overall mood of the drivers. Never used to hear much honking and seems to be much more prevalent now. Cars seem to be a bit more aggressive changing lanes when I am driving. And, I no longer seem to hold the opinion that people drive sooooo slow here any longer.

I just do not seem to run into a lot of issues with drivers on my bike though. I may chalk that up to the 1000’s of miles I have ridden now and just knowing what to look for and just knowing when given two choices, drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists will often chose the dumb one.

I can’t really change the someone’s mind about how they feel about bikes being on the road. I can only take responsibility for my own behavior when it comes to how I use it. So, when I am riding, I stay far enough out of the door zone and even look in the rear view mirrors of the cars to see if there is a passenger, but yet not so far out that I am impeding other road users. Heck, if I realize a car behind me want to make a right on a red, I have been known to scoot to the left a bit to let them through.

I’m in no way trying to minimize what others have experienced on the road and certainly not going to recommend that everyone behaves like me. Just sharing my experiences.

Mark
Guest
Mark

jeff
Ride Clinton twice a day, every day, and haven’t had a single issue in probably 2-3 years. I ride fast, I obey traffic signs, and I don’t ride down the middle of the lane. Amazing what courtesy does…Recommended 9

So basically… You ride in fear.

No thanks.

Opus the Poet
Guest

What I’m reading is drivers in PDX are getting more like drivers here in DFW where road rage is not an anomaly, it’s an artform. I have been hit 6 times since 2000, with at least 2 of those deliberate assaults or attempted murder (and if you think I’m exaggerating, what would you call hitting someone at 60 MPH on a 45 MPH street after making a u-turn to get on the same side of the street?). Sure at least one of those 6 times could be an honest mistake, but I cleaned the drivers side mirror with the back of my elbow off of a truck passing on my right in the same lane as I was making a left turn, was hit twice waiting on a red light to change, was passed on the right by a car driving on the sidewalk… Y’all really don’t know how good you have it.

Randy
Guest

I may have missed it… what is Wheeler’s revamp plan? I regularly am passed, by speeding vehicles in SE PDX, Police rarely ever seen…