Taking the pulse: Aggressive driving in Portland

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:

https://twitter.com/AdamHerstein/status/664618358604611584

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
maxD
6 years ago

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.

Lester Burnham
Lester Burnham
6 years ago
Reply to  maxD

Yeah…you could have taken Going one block to the North. Prescott is a pretty poor mixed-mode street with those narrow spots.

Derp
Derp
6 years ago
Reply to  Lester Burnham

It’s too bad the pavement is awful on Going. I know that the quiet space of Going trumps the smooth pavement for most people (me included) However, I ride Prescott whenever I happen to be going the opposite direction of commuter traffic or any non-peak time. It’s such a smooth road. You don’t have to use your body as a giant shock absorber anticipating all the bumps and quieting rattles. Soooo much nicer. I get yelled at on Prescott every few months.

stephen salter
stephen salter
6 years ago
Reply to  Lester Burnham

you cant go fast on Going, thats why he took Prescott

Mossby Pomegranate
Mossby Pomegranate
6 years ago
Reply to  stephen salter

You can go plenty fast on Going. Use an appropriate bike and tires.

MaxD
MaxD
6 years ago

It is not my bike or equipment slowing me down, it is the circuitous route and, to a lesser extent, the cross traffic pulling out in front of me. Going is ok from 7th to 33rd, but east of that is is a pretty regular rhythm of stops and jogs that are not intuitive, poorly signed and slow one down considerably. Please compare the route from Prescott/72nd to MLK versus Going and you quickly understand why I chose to take Prescott because something came up and I had to rush home.

B. Carfree
B. Carfree
6 years ago
Reply to  maxD

Was one of the yellers Mia Birk? j/k

oliver
oliver
6 years ago
Reply to  maxD

A good friend of mine bought a house on Going a couple years ago. They’re constantly saying how amazed they are by the number of cars overtaking cars on that street.

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
6 years ago

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.

Dan A
Dan A
6 years ago
Reply to  Todd Boulanger

Bikes are the reason for all the GD traffic!!! /s

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Todd Boulanger

pedestrians are treated like road kill in our society as well. and drivers kill far more of them.

Middle of the Road guy
Middle of the Road guy
6 years ago
Reply to  Todd Boulanger

It’s just as likely that cyclists complain about cars so much because other cyclists will agree with them and it makes them feel correct and justified, even if they are not.

LC
LC
6 years ago

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.

are
6 years ago
Reply to  LC

if you are able to keep your temper, it is sometimes better to take advantage of the teachable moment.

Tony H
Tony H
6 years ago
Reply to  are

Unfortunately, my experience has been that by the time people say something, they’re generally so angry that a conversation isn’t going to happen. To attempt to “teach them something” only flames their anger, and, at best, you come across like an idiot. Several years ago, I decided that the only thing I would say, if needed, would be something to the effect of, “perhaps you should call the police”.

Joe
Joe
6 years ago

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
6 years ago

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.

TonyT
Tony T
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

I’ve lived in Portland for almost 16 years. I have yet to see ANY speed enforcements done on neighborhood streets. Not once. The only ones that I’ve seen are the “we’re going after cars too” stop sign enforcements that were in fact (don’t even kid yourself) targeting people on bikes.

If you’re driving a car, you have to try REALLY hard to get a ticket.

jaxe
jaxe
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

I understand that you feel in your right to be riding as you do. Slowly(?) in the center of the lane no matter what. But, to me, this reads as some what entitled. Likely not your intention but that is how I interpret it and maybe some of those drivers are interpreting your riding style that way. Yes, I know, there is no excuse for threatening someone in the way you felt threatened. But, I’m wondering if you have considered sharing the road by riding more quickly at times or making an effort to oblige a pass.

Adam
6 years ago

The greenways are designed to be bicycle priority streets. Drivers should therefore be expected to yield to people walking or riding a bike. PBOT’s signage enforces this. If that means driving at 5 MPH up the hill on Clinton for a few minutes behind someone riding a bike, then so be it. Don’t like it? Drive on Division or Powell instead.

I should note that most people driving behind me on Clinton uphill keep their distance and don’t attempt to dangerously pass.

Matt
Matt
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Maybe ride with helmet mirror–that way you can see the traffic behind you and make the appropriate riding decisions.

Gniles
Gniles
6 years ago
Reply to  Matt

Nope.

Whyat
Whyat
6 years ago
Reply to  Matt

My helmet mirror is the best safety device I’ve ever bought for my bike. When I end up riding without one I feel totally disconnected from my environment.

John Liu
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

There are no hills on Clinton between Cesar Chavez and 12th. Nothing that requires you to ride at 5 mph.

Of course you may ride at 5 mph if you want to. But then don’t camp out in the middle of the lane, deliberately blocking the road. Expecting all drivers to be considerate to a cyclist who is going out of his way to be inconsiderate to them, is not realistic. 99% of drivers will sigh and bear it, but 1% won’t.

Riding 5 mph at four feet from parked cars is not intolerably dangerous. It is not so hard to vary your position in the lane. Or to watch your mirror and let a faster vehicle by, be it a bike or a car. And Clinton is a greenway, not a MUP.

Patrick Sullivan
Patrick Sullivan
6 years ago
Reply to  John Liu

The hills on Clinton start with a smaller one at 21st (heading east) and then a second steep hill from 26th to 28th. And while a greenway is not an MUP, drivers should expect it to be different from a standard thoroughfare and either behave in the spirit of the street design or use an alternate route. Cars have numerous safe places to drive, their complaint is about inconvenience. But cyclists and pedestrians are far more vulnerable road users, and any activity which threatens the few places where they should feel safe will be rightfully met with extra objections and protest.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
6 years ago

Is there already a hashtag for #notsymmetric? Your point about inconvenience vs. safety illustrates this nicely. So many things seem to be falsely equated between bicycling and motoring: Danger posed to the public, damage to the road, who should “pay” for roads, severity of being a “scofflaw”, “same roads, same rights, same rules” (ha!), etc. People don’t often stop to consider the non-equivalence of bike use vs. car use.

Honking your horn at somebody in a car? Annoying. Blasting the horn at somebody on a bike? Way louder and can cause a crash by startling a bicyclist. Sideswiping a car? Oops, a scratch. Sideswiping a bicyclist (by, e.g., passing too closely) again, a crash with likely injuries.

Being inconvenienced for less that 30 seconds is not the same as being injured or killed.

Alex Reed
Alex Reed
6 years ago
Reply to  John Liu

John, if you don’t think the hills on Clinton could cause people to go slow on bikes, you’re writing from a very specific perspective – one of a man, I suspect relatively fit and/or not hauling kids or cargo – and may not be thinking of people with other perspectives. I guarantee you that Kath Youell, who is not a large person and hauls kids on her heavy bakfiets, is physically required to ride 5mph on parts of the hills on Clinton between Chavez and 12th. In fact, I think she’s written that she has alternate routes to smooth out the hills if she’s tired or hauling groceries.

And – I don’t ride 4 feet from car doors. I ride 5 or 6 feet, so I can have a buffer in case I need to avoid an obstacle/cat/kid running after a ball/just get freaked when someone opens their door suddenly. Riding that far out also forces people passing in cars on wider residential streets like Clinton to wait until there are no oncoming cars, which feels safer to me. (They still squeeze past me with oncoming bikes, but hey, one can’t have everything). And, riding 5 or 6 feet out from the car doors happens to be exactly where the sharrows are painted to guide me where to ride, imagine that!

9watts
6 years ago
Reply to  Alex Reed

I’m with Jonathan on this.
Taking the lane sometimes makes sense (Though I personally still almost never do it) and for the simple reason that I think it is far too easily misunderstood as a dick move by those in cars who have no idea what it is like to ride a bike for transportation in town, why someone might do this for perfectly sensible reasons. I’d like to find a way to communicate the subtleties of ‘taking the lane’ to drivers, but I think in our present moment doing what Adam Herstein is describing is unwittingly but also not surprisingly communicating to some car-bound individuals (males?) precisely what they are shouting at you about. To them what you are doing makes no sense, does not fit their understanding of how the world works. We (PBOT, PPB?) need to figure out ways to do an end run around this misunderstanding.

John Liu
6 years ago
Reply to  Alex Reed

I understand that some riders, or some riders pedaling some loads, might end up going quite slowly on the one or two block long “mini-hills” on Clinton. But if you are pedaling at 5 mph, why can’t you move to the right and let cars and faster cyclists pass without a fuss?

Riding at 5 mph in the “door zone” is not dangerous. You have plenty of time to watch for people/movement in the parked cars that you are (very slowly) passing, and to avoid any opening doors or cars pulling out. And while hitting an opening door at even 5 mph is to be avoided, it’s not likely to be a significant accident.

I get that Clinton is an important greenway and that we are trying to “take it back”. But it is not a MUP. People are permitted to drive on Clinton. Many of those drivers are simply trying to drive to/from their homes, which they have every right to do. They live there, most of us do not.

Deliberately bottling up the street, behaving like a human roadblock, and trying to force drivers to sit behind you as you pootle along, at a pace hardly faster than a slow jog, is unproductive. It makes drivers really upset, creates lots of ill-will, and you shouldn’t be surprised that some of those drivers will yell or honk or do sketchy maneuvers to get around you.

Ever wonder why some people on BP report routinely enjoying smooth, incident free, pleasant rides all over town, while others report frequent incidents of conflict and aggressive driving? Ever think that the cyclist’s own behaviour plays a part in this? I notice that the BP posters reporting the most frequent car/bike conflict are often the ones expressing the most militant anti-driver views. Which way does the causation go?

Alex Reed
Alex Reed
6 years ago
Reply to  John Liu

Hey John,

I used to ride somewhat like I think you do, and I think I probably experienced less aggression. I was also almost doored a few times and had a number of close calls stemming from moving over for drivers who took a long time to pass, then when I needed to rejoin the travel lane lest I run into a parked car, they were still passing. That’s why I changed my style; I don’t take joy from inconveniencing others (although I also don’t really care if someone has to wait 30 seconds behind me). I think I am currently more safe – I experienced a lot more close calls from clueless drivers and errors on my part using my old style than I do now from aggressive drivers using my new style (although they do make me mad sometimes).

Sounds like you’re more skilled than me in looking for signs of doors opening and judging the distance/time needed for a car to pass. I’m glad your riding style works for you. My new one works better for me. I’d like to have a city in which a number of riding styles are viable and tolerated by drivers. That would probably help increase bike mode share and thus make us a happier, wealthier, healthier, more civil city.

Zach H
6 years ago
Reply to  John Liu

“There are no hills on Clinton”

https://goo.gl/maps/o61JMXsm4CN2

I’d say 112ft of elevation gain constitutes a hill.

John Liu
6 years ago
Reply to  Zach H

Maybe if you live in Florida. 112 ft total elevation gain over 1.5 miles is hardly a 1% grade.

Jonathan F.
Jonathan F.
6 years ago

Indeed. I feel quite certain that cyclists often take the full lane simply to prove a point, and then they derive satisfaction from the frustration of the drivers behind them. I would encourage such cyclists to focus their energy elsewhere. I, too, take the full lane when I need to, and am happy to let drivers pass me if it seems safe for them and for me.

Dan A
Dan A
6 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan F.

Just to provide a counterpoint:

I feel quite certain that drivers often pass unsafely simply to prove a point, and then they derive satisfaction from the terror felt by the cyclists they pass. I would encourage such drivers to relax and wait for a safe place to pass, or drive elsewhere. I, too, take the full lane when I need to, and am not doing it to flaunt my entitlement, but rather to make the road safer for everyone.

Jonathan F.
Jonathan F.
6 years ago
Reply to  Dan A

The fact that I notice this kind of behavior in cyclists doesn’t mean I fail to recognize it in drivers. But thank you.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan F.

I ride “in the lane”* often but I never do this to “make a point”; rather, I am there because I believe it’s necessary for me to get to point B safely and/or efficiently. I go out of my way to be courteous and will ride on the right when there is space or pull over when I am substantially holding up traffic. However, I have absolutely no problem with slowing motorvehicle traffic when its necessary for me to get to point “B”. Sadly, some cyclists believe that delaying motorists by tens of seconds or even a minute or two is a “dick” move. I could not disagree more and view this attitude as mild version of “bike stockholm” syndrome.

*the phrase “taking the lane” implies lower status

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

It’s a dick move if you’re delaying someone just to be a dick.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

This thread reminds me of Mia Birk’s infamous rant about the person riding on Hawthorne. I’m sure the Mia Birks of the world think I’m being a dick when I ride my bike up Hawthorne on my way to Safeway. Somehow it is always the cyclist who must experience a delay. Don’t ride on Hawthorne, Alberta, 28th — that’s rude! After all, there is a bike street over there. And when you ride on the bike street be sure to ride in the door zone and pull over occasionally to let cut-through traffic pass you. We mustn’t lose the “respect” of drivers!

The underlying message in too many of the comments on this thread is that cyclists do not have a right to travel freely but should do everything they can to not inconvenience *real traffic*. The convenience and safety of people cycling is apparently not a major consideration.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

You’ve erected quite a straw man. No one said you shouldn’t ride on Hawthorne, Alberta, or 28th. No one said you should sacrifice your safety for the convenience of others. No one said we need to earn the respect of drivers. No one said you don’t have the right to travel freely.

Politeness is not the same as obsequiousness.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

H K,
That was not directed at you but at the comment thread as a whole.
Best,
S

Alex Reed
Alex Reed
6 years ago

I agree with both of you – Jonathan in theory, and Adam for how I end up riding in practice 99% of the time. If I’m going under 18-19 mph, and there’s a two-block-long or longer stretch of a greenway or other neighborhood street with no parked cars on my side and someone driving behind me, I will move over and let them pass. I find two blocks to be the minimum distance necessary for me to move over, the person driving to realize I’ve moved over and pass, and then for me to merge safely back in to the travel lane without getting squeezed (especially if there is another person driving behind the first, which is fairly common). However, I find two blocks with no parked cars to be exceedingly rare in inner Portland, and pretty much nonexistent on Clinton – so I end up riding similarly to Adam.

And, like you, Jonathan, I recently got an e-bike (an e-Bullitt – a wheelbarrow style kid-hauler). So I’ve been cruising greenways at 20mph sometimes. I’ve noticed that people driving pass me almost as frequently as when I’m cruising at 12 mph on my ‘normal’ bike – and when they do pass me, they do so faster and more dangerously on average than when I’m riding my ‘normal’ bike. Maybe people see a giant box bike and think, “OMG that thing is going to be slow, I better pass so that I am not inconvenienced for seconds on end!” and don’t observe that I am, in fact, moving quickly?

Dan A
Dan A
6 years ago
Reply to  Alex Reed

If they can SEE past you, they need to BE past you.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  jaxe

But, to me, this reads as some what entitled.

With all due respect, this is a very car-centric point of view. It is the expectation by the driver that they can drive fast on a designated bike route that is entitled.

lop
lop
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

The attitude might be ‘entitled’, but it is hardly the exclusive domain of motorists (“car-centric”). Cyclists stuck behind a pedestrian or slower cyclist are just as capable of expecting to pass, and getting aggressive when they are not afforded the opportunity to do so as quickly as they had hoped.

realworld
realworld
6 years ago
Reply to  lop

But in those instances NO ONEs life is in danger!

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  lop

lop, i agree.

Jeff J.
Jeff J.
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

When I’m on an MUP and slow down behind a pedestrian because I can’t safely pass at that time due to someone occupying the oncoming lane, I feel the need to take a look over my left shoulder to see if someone on a bike is barreling up behind me. With apologies to Eben Weiss, I call this a Fred Check.

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  jaxe

Why install BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE signs if that means I have to move over for drivers every time? It’s not safe to constantly swerve back and forth, nor is it safe for drivers to pass people riding bikes by driving on the wrong side of the street. Clinton is designated a bicycle priority street for a reason. Taking the lane is often the safest way to ride and it is my full right to keep myself safe. So yes, I am entitled to arrive at my destination unharmed and free from harassment. As is the case for all people.

Also, my bike weighs close to 40 lbs. I physically can’t go that fast uphill.

are
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

you do want to assert a lane position sufficiently to the left that you are not encouraging unsafe passing. that said, you are a slower moving vehicle, and every once in awhile where there is sufficient road width you could slide right and allow the pass, maybe even wave the guy through.

the particular situation you describe is tricky because the guy was tailgating, and of course you do not want to encourage that either. but it may not have started that way.

if the situation escalates to people shouting at each other, the opportunity for civility has been lost. but if the guy was simply a jerk there may have been no opportunity.

lop
lop
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

If I drive on a highway and someone wants to pass me I’m expected to stay to the right to leave them room to pass. If I walk on a MUP I’m expected to stay to the right to make room for people who want to pass. Often when the path narrows or if someone is coming the other way walking next to someone raises the ire of a cyclist that had to slow down and wait five seconds to pass. This happens surprisingly often on many sidewalks in the city too. If I’m driving on a narrow mountain road there are pullouts for me to get my car out of the way, usually requiring me to stop, to allow faster drivers a chance to pass.

Whether or not I’m legally required to help someone else pass (it varies), it’s generally a good idea to do so when it can be done safely. People get frustrated, why do I want a frustrated person stuck behind me?

How different should clinton be from everywhere else? How literally to take ‘bikes may use full lane’? If there’s a lane in each direction should it really mean ‘no passing’? How literally should cyclists take signs that say ‘ped priority zone’ or ‘fast bikes use ____’?

Maybe it’s worth considering a more differential attitude, try it for a week or so. If someone has been stuck behind you for three blocks already and there isn’t an easy spot up ahead to pull to the side to let them pass without you having to slow down, pull in behind a parked car at the end of the block or something, even if it means you have to stop, so you can let the car go. After trying it for a week see if the aggression from drivers dissipates at all, and if an extra minute or two of travel time is too high a price to pay for that. It took me a while to figure out that I’d usually prefer to lose a minute if it meant dealing with less aggression.

9watts
6 years ago
Reply to  lop

You said it better than I just did. Thanks.

Granpa
Granpa
6 years ago
Reply to  lop

Even at airport moving walkways slow users are expected to stay to the right to allow faster users to pass. I would say that is common courtesy if it were common.

A sign that says BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE is not a directive that they must use full lane. I have been passed unsafely and I have been menaced by car drivers, but I usually ride in a manner that lets cars use the road without endangering me, and I usually have no conflict with car drivers. I find regarding how car drivers treat me, I make my own luck.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
6 years ago
Reply to  Granpa

“Even at airport moving walkways slow users are expected to stay to the right to allow faster users to pass.”

True enough, but now pile up a bunch of luggage so it hangs over the right railing of the walkway, put some greenery hanging over the right side, tear some holes in the moving surface along the right edge, leave some sharp metal brackets sticking out at shin level, and station a few punks next to the right side to throw a random punch over the railing now and again and see how many people comply with “Stand Right, Walk Left”.

Eric Leifsdad
Eric Leifsdad
6 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

…but it’s more like Run Left With Scissors.

realworld
realworld
6 years ago
Reply to  lop

1) it’s the law that “slower vehicles keep right” on the freeway.

2) pull outs are only provided on highways for vehicles moving slower than the speed limit or able to maintain the speed limit. you are not required nor is it expected of any driver to pull out if you are maintaining the speed limit.

3) it is not only discouraged to pass other vehicles on neighborhood streets it is very illegal to do so above the speed limit! if a cyclist is traveling at 15 mph on a greenway a car will most definitely need to break the speed limit to pass quickly… that is illegal and extremely unsafe.
Neighborhood streets are designed and should only be used for slow traveling vehicles that are being ultra vigilant of the safety of others in that neighborhood.

There is absolutely no reason or excuse for a driver to ever pass another vehicle on a neighborhood street like Clinton!
You are forgetting that Clinton is a neighborhood street where children walk, play and ride their bikes near or on the street. people are coming and going from their driveways and homes constantly.
People are walking their dogs and crossing the street all the time.

neighborhoods are Not through ways for cars! If they can’t drive on Clinton without feeling the need to pass other road users then they need to go somewhere else!

Dan A
Dan A
6 years ago
Reply to  realworld

“1) it’s the law that “slower vehicles keep right” on the freeway.”

Not in Oregon.

realworld
realworld
6 years ago
Reply to  Dan A

hb 3414

Dan A
Dan A
6 years ago
Reply to  realworld

Let me know when that becomes law.

Brendan Treacy
Brendan Treacy
6 years ago
Reply to  realworld

There’s also no excuse for harassing other people for inconveniencing you or to physically threaten them with your vehicle (which amounts to a weapon). That’s what people are missing here. Would it be smart to stay right when you can, probably, but the point here is that cyclists are being verbally assaulted and that’s not okay in any of these circumstances.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  lop

Clinton is not a highway. It is a street where pedestrians, cyclists, boarders, children, cats, dogs etc. should always have priority. Driving 12-15 mph for a few blocks is not a violation of a driver’s human rights. I think people who drive on narrow greenways with the expectation that they can pass people cycling 12-15 mph are complete a-holes.

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  lop

Your entire argument is based on the premise that faster-moving traffic gets priority, always. This is a false premise. Faster moving traffic is more dangerous and therefore the solution is to slow EVERYONE down. Nowhere does Vision Zero state that we should allow people to drive fast, and therefore dangerously.

Grandpa
Grandpa
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Faster than 5 MPH is not fast

MaxD
MaxD
6 years ago
Reply to  lop

lop,
nicely put, and I like your approach to sharing the road. One quibble: MUPs are for everyone, including kids and people with disabilities and I do not think there is any expectation for them to stay right.

TheCat
TheCat
6 years ago
Reply to  lop

Are you required to drive on the shoulder of a one lane highway? I didn’t think so. Your entire example presumes that there are multiple lanes of traffic going in the same direction. That isn’t the case on greenways, and your example does not apply.

Spiffy
6 years ago
Reply to  jaxe

I’m really tired of the misuse of the phrase “entitled”… yes, I ride like I’m entitled because I am entitled to the legal use of the road… stop pretending it’s a derogatory term in this context…

I’m entitled, just like other road users, to use the system lawfully… stop yelling at me for the entitlement that the law gives me…

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” –Inigo Montoya

9watts
6 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

Yeah, but you’re not accounting for the fact that my entitlement comes up against someone else’s entitlement. That is where it gets interesting, Intigo Montoya notwithstanding. I think entitlement is exactly the right word here. You can think of it as opposed to what lop just termed ‘deferential.’

Riding deferentially (or perhaps he did mean differentially) suggests that your style accounts for others, acknowledges that you, whether you are in a car or on a bike, don’t need to set the rules, dictate what everyone else must do, especially if there is a way to allow for different speeds safely and as a matter of course.

In thirty+ years of cycling on the public roads both here and in Germany I basically never take the lane, and have done OK with that. Personally I’d rather forego the potential to anger drivers, because they don’t understand why I might be taking the lane, and in so doing give up the extra door zone buffer this might have afforded me. So far so good.

Dan A
Dan A
6 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

What they mean is “uppity”.

Jen
Jen
6 years ago
Reply to  jaxe

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/docs/bike_manual.pdf

If you read through the oregon ODOT manual, you’ll notice that they state: on roads with sharrows, the sharrow is an indicator of where one should be biking
one should ride far enough away from the door zone to not get hit by a car door if it were to suddenly be opened
one shouldn’t swerve into the “parking” lane to allow cars to pass as it creates potential “pinch points” when trying to re-enter the lane of travel.

so when you are complaining about someone feeling “entitled” to ride in this way, you are correct. They ARE entitled.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Jen

sadly, the odot manual is not a legal document and sharrows have no legal meaning in oregon. (i say this as someone who believes that they should have legal meaning.)

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

Luckily, they don’t need a legal meaning, as you are already free to take the lane. They do have a moral meaning, which, in this case, is probably enough.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

cyclists are only allowed to take the lane under a narrow set of circumstances. moreover, a slow cyclist who is not traveling at the normal speed of traffic is legally required to ride on the right hand side of the road. if you think i have misinterpreted ORS statutes, H, K, please point our my mistake.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

You are required to ride as far to the right as is “practicable”. It does not mean you need to ride in the door zone, and as we saw in that video link about safe lane positioning, the legal requirement would put you about where the sharrows are.

RushHourAlleycat
6 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Except we are entitled to use the full lane. It’s not just a feeling, it is specifically protected by law.

soren
6 years ago

Only someone who is cycling at the “normal speed of traffic”. Everyone else has to ride on the right (absent some vague exceptions). And its not you or I who get to decide what is “normal” but the law enforcement officer and his buddy the traffic court judge.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

Only as far right as is “practicable”, which is usually where you’d want to ride in any event (sometimes that’s right down the middle of the lane).

If anyone hasn’t done so, I’d highly recommend the BTA legal clinic.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

lipstick on pig.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
6 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Unfortunately, “practicable” might as well be a synonym for “possible”. I wish they would change it to “safe”. Then I could tell the officer who wanted to ticket me, “but officer, that’s not safe. The law tells me to be safe.” That’s a lot easier than, “but officer, that’s not ‘practicable’. The law says ‘practicable’, not ‘possible’. What? No, they’re not the same, see, ‘practicable’ connotes a sense of safety and realistic maintainability, whereas ‘possible’ implies perfect skill and conditions, with no perturbation. What? No, perturbation…”

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
6 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

I wish it said that too. But in any event, it would be a judgement call, and if the officer has already decided to write you a ticket, I’m not sure if any argument would work.

Mark S
Mark S
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Two words: Pepper Spray

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  Mark S

I’ve thought about it…

Eric
Eric
6 years ago
Reply to  Mark S

I carry it, right on the front of me clipped to my pack strap.

Bill Walters
Bill Walters
6 years ago
Reply to  Mark S

Pepper spray, mirror, unmistakable helmet-cam mounted high on top so it’s visible from front back and sides, phone and u-lock carried visibly on the left side: You’re ready for peak commute hours.

BTW: Though riders apparently can’t objectively be seen (per the DA’s office), it’s remarkable how consistently people in cars seem to see the comparatively tiny helmet-cam.

alankessler
alankessler
6 years ago
Reply to  Bill Walters

All you need now is a squire….

Robert Burchett
Robert Burchett
6 years ago
Reply to  Bill Walters

Maybe a child carrier with an oversize bobble-head (I’m childless, have at times thought about this. Maybe a Bucky Cat doll with a one-finger glove)

eddie
eddie
6 years ago
Reply to  Bill Walters

One idea I’ve got is to take a picture of the license plate then call 911 and report a drunk driver, say that they’re swerving and you think you saw an open bottle. Then bike off and hope they get some police attention.. chances are if they aren’t drunk there will be some minor issue with their car or paperwork and they’ll get a ticket.

But only do it if they truly deserve it. Honestly, since I came up with the resolve to actually do this, I haven’t had an encounter which merited it.

But I’m saving it for the future… I’d way rather do that than my previous plan, which was a pepper spray grenade, lobbed into the vehicle. Which is fun to think about but a very very very bad idea.

DanF
DanF
6 years ago
Reply to  Mark S

two more words: please don’t. when you start thinking that weaponry is necessary gear for your commute, you are doing something wrong. maybe it’s time to do a self audit on your riding style. try taking the bus or walking for a while, maybe?

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  DanF

Careful there. You’re very close to blaming the victim. Would you say the same thing to someone walking home alone at night?

naess
naess
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

it’s hard to tell who the victim is when someone feels entitled to take the full lane and only move at 5 MPH in a 20 MPH zone.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
6 years ago
Reply to  naess

Answer: they’re both the victim! One is victimized by being threatened with a 30-second delay, the other is victimized by threat of bodily harm. Easy.

eddie
eddie
6 years ago
Reply to  DanF

So if someone threatens me for biking I should quit biking? Naah.

My solution is to avoid streets with lots of traffic. If I do get trouble, see my above idea.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Heh. “You People”.

Mark
Mark
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Two words: pepper spray. 30 bucks on amazon.

Mark S
Mark S
6 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Cheaper at Harbor Freight Tools.

Robert Burchett
Robert Burchett
6 years ago
Reply to  Mark S

The home of one-use tools!

bikeslobpdx
bikeslobpdx
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Chavez to 12th? Even if you don’t like the door zone, there’s an opportunity to let someone pass at every intersection. Of the twenty-six of those that you passed up, how many had gone by before he began honking?

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  bikeslobpdx

How would one let someone pass in an intersection? Despite it being illegal to park a car next to an intersection, everyone does it anyway, and Clinton is typically nearly 100% parked up. There’s nowhere safe to “pull over” and let someone pass, and plus, I disagree with the premise that I must cede my legal right to the road to drivers who want to get to their destination 10 seconds sooner. Nearly all the aggressive drivers I encounter on Clinton are cut-through. The people who live on Clinton are far more courteous.

eddie
eddie
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

I had some lady in a station wagon holler at me on Clinton: “Hey asshole, I’m a bicyclist!” ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

naess
naess
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

i must have missed the news report about greenways not being subjected to ORS 811.425.

Spiffy
6 years ago

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…

realworld
realworld
6 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

Driving aggressively (easy), cost of gas to drive everywhere (very low), chances of seeing a COP and getting a ticket (very low), taking risks and not caring about anyone but yourself (very easy)

Cost of getting away with killing another human being while behind the wheel… Zero!

All kidding aside, there are [literally] zero consequences to driving aggressively in this town. You can get aware with murder just by doing it behind the wheel of a car.
Cyclist’s are easy targets and typically have zero ability to retaliate since we can’t catch drivers.

It’s a winning scenario for all the Car Zombies.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
6 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

For the vast, vast majority of drivers, the thought of injuring someone is a far greater deterrent than any potential legal sanction. Your view of humanity is, frankly, depressing. I do not share it.

Dan A
Dan A
6 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

You are a Bike Portland poster. Your opinion is already more enlightened than the vast majority.

davemess
davemess
6 years ago
Reply to  Dan A

Classic.

SEPDXRider
SEPDXRider
6 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

It’s just that sometimes the person doesn’t think of the consequences of “winning the battle for space” until someone else is squashed.

This morning…

He saw me and knew exactly where I was headed.

But he decided:

Not today bicyclist. I’m getting through first. In fact I’m going to accelerate and make sure I beat you. You are going to swerve to save yourself.

When you roll up to my parked truck window three blocks later, Mr. Cyclist, I’m going to tell you I didn’t see you.

And work hard to forget what happened. I will work to remember it the way that fits my peace of mind and sense of justice. I’m OK. You have a problem, cyclist dude.

While you, cyclist, ride away wondering… if maybe today I realized if I had won the little contest completely, if you had been less capable… would I still feel like a winner?

soren
6 years ago

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.

Brad
Brad
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

Drivers love to pass me mid-intersection after I leave a stop sign stop.

Dan A
Dan A
6 years ago
Reply to  Brad

That’s because they don’t stop behind you. You are practically invisible, so when you stop, it counts for them too.

J_R
J_R
6 years ago
Reply to  Dan A

No. You are invisible. After all it cannot objectively be proven that you are visible to a reasonable person.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Brad

I’ve had cars pass me, stop at the stop sign in the oncoming lane, and then pass me in the intersection many times this year. This never used to happen years ago.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

I’ve seen this once or twice, and I agree… it’s pretty nuts. It’s like their pass maneuver gets paused at the stop, then picks up on the other side.

Captain Karma
6 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Also passing from a stop if the left lane is a turn left only lane, but charging straight ahead instead. Also from the right turn only lane, charging ahead. This happens to me even while driving. It’s shocking, stupefying, amazing the first few times it happens. And NEVER a cop around.

Spiffy
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

I didn’t realize that a vehicle at a stop sign had any right of way…

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

correct. should have written my turn.

Jeff J.
Jeff J.
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

The only thing that drivers hate more than people on bikes blowing through stop signs? People on bikes STOPPING at stop signs.

Brian
Brian
6 years ago

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.

alankessler
alankessler
6 years ago
Reply to  Brian

I doubt these drivers are being any less @ss-y to their fellow motorists, it’s just that driving that’s irritatingly rude to someone in a car is terrifyingly dangerous to someone on a bike. Tailgating and such are normalized driving behaviors, so it’s not surprising that drivers act the same way to VRUs.

oliver
oliver
6 years ago
Reply to  alankessler

That was exactly the point I made about that young man who killed Nick Horsey on Halloween.

Yes, technically, he was intoxicated, but I’d wager good money that he speeds in a “violation of the basic rule” sort of way all the time.

Alan Love
Alan Love
6 years ago
Reply to  Brian

That’s my impression, too. Drivers aren’t more to hostile to people on bikes, they’re just more hostile in general because congestion is getting worse with an improved economy (more people commuting and more people moving in). I DON’T think the answer is more lanes of traffic to accommodate more cars, but small steps to make what we do have smarter (e.g. a left turn arrow on Division at Chavez, etc.) AND better non-auto options like truly safe and efficient bikeways (e.g. NOT the light-mess at the Tillicum landings, Clinton diverters). You want a certain amount of frustration to motivate people not to drive, but not unnecessary frustration (Division and Chavez, case in point). But the alternatives have to be viable, and Clinton as a bikeway isn’t that yet.

Trebor
Trebor
6 years ago
Reply to  Alan Love

A transportation demand management strategy that required employers to charge a non-trivial amount for parking and to use the funds raised to reimburse people who walk, bike, or take transit would dramatically cut down on traffic.

Matt
Matt
6 years ago
Reply to  Brian

I agree about the traffic in SE. I hadn’t been down there for sometime and recently drove down there and tried to park around division and 30th.. Practically impossible–can’t believe how busy it is down there. I’ll definitely ride down there next time.

RH
RH
6 years ago

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
barb lin
6 years ago

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.

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  barb lin

It is my opinion that the vast majority of people driving do not want to phycically hurt anyone. It’s a small percentage of people engaging in this aggressive behaviour. But most people would likely interpret someone yelling obscenities out a car window and purposely following too closely as aggressively threatening. Maybe they don’t want to hurt anyone, but they sure aren’t trying very hard to drive safely.

realworld
realworld
6 years ago
Reply to  barb lin

I know for a fact and have oodles of proof there are “fellow citizens” that want to hurt cyclists!
Drivers become zombies the second they get behind the wheel! if you make eye contact with one they go berserk all because they can’t control their selfish entitled “me first” (upbringing) attitudes.

We live in a Car Zombie infested, entitlement wasteland…that has spread like wildfire all over the country, that’s a bottom line!

TonyT
Tony T
6 years ago
Reply to  barb lin

“Do you actually think there are fellow citizens out there who wouldn’t mind injuring you?”

Yes, there are. I’ve been driven AT while crossing at a crosswalk, while the driver was simultaneously flipping me off. I had a driver try to run me off the road because I screamed at him for almost taking me out at an intersection where HE had a stop sign. I had another driver aggressively buzz me because apparently I should be in the door zone, and the 15 feet of passing room he had on my left was not enough. Should I go on? Because with almost 30 years of bike commuting experience under my belt, I can.

I’m sorry to burst your “nobody really wants to hurt people” bubble, but there are people who really do want to hurt other people. And there are a LOT of people who drive in such a way that hurting other people will only be a matter of when, not if.

TonyT
Tony T
6 years ago
Reply to  barb lin

“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.”

As if we just materialize in front of them with no warning.

barb lin
barb lin
6 years ago
Reply to  Tony T

In traffic with cars in front of you and very limited visibility it does feel like that sometimes.

Gabbi
Gabbi
6 years ago
Reply to  barb lin

If you’re in traffic with very limited visibility why are you driving 35 mph as you stated in your first comment? Bikes ‘materializing’ in front of you in the conditions you describe shouldn’t be startling; you should be driving slowly enough to account for that.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Gabbi

driving 15 mph is a violation of human rights! sudden slow driver syndrome kills!

noah
noah
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

The first thing the Nazis did when they came into power was to take away right turns on red.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  barb lin

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.

My main motivation for riding on Sandy, Chavez, or Foster is that these streets are the quickest and most efficient rout but I fully admit that a secondary motivation is “human traffic calming”.

Your welcome.

Random
Random
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

“I fully admit that a secondary motivation is “human traffic calming”.”

So you’re deliberately trying to piss drivers off.

Good luck with that.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Random

never deliberately but if it happens as a side effect of my route choice it does not bother me in the least.

Random
Random
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

“it does not bother me in the least.”

I’m sure it doesn’t.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

Perhaps that accounts for some of the aggressive behavior you’ve experienced?

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

the only attitude i’ve experienced lately has been on residential streets and greenways.

are
6 years ago
Reply to  barb lin

why sandy? because it is a long diagonal. there is plenty of room on sandy for everyone.

Jonno
Jonno
6 years ago
Reply to  barb lin

I use Sandy from time to time, it’s super fast to get downtown from NE, as much as 20-40% faster than, say, Ankeny depending on where I’m coming from. Why shouldn’t riders be able to choose the direct route? I mean, after all, I-84 is just a couple blocks away if drivers don’t like it 🙂

stasia:)
6 years ago

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.

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  stasia:)

How else would honking and yelling “get out of the way” be interpreted if not as aggression?

Ian
Ian
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

There’s something to be said for de-escalation, too, and yelling at a driver for being a coward and a cager isn’t exactly helping the aggressiveness issue.

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  Ian

Most of the time, I don’t engage the driver, but it’s hard to think rationally when your life is being threatened.

Ian
Ian
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Fair enough.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Ian

I always try to engage angry drivers (if I can catch up with them). Much of the time the conversation is constructive.

stasia:)
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Totally. Some drivers are aggressive for sure, just as some cyclists are aggressive and some pedestrians are aggressive too. I’m just trying to say that if you go out there expecting everyone to be aggressive toward you, you’re probably much more likely to interpret any actions as aggression.

Again, not saying that aggression doesn’t exist. But there’s something huge to be said, in the borderline cases, for assuming positive intent.

TonyT
Tony T
6 years ago

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.”

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  Tony T

It also doesn’t help when giverment agencies are placing the burden of safety on the potential victims by telling them to wear reflective clothing, not talk on the phone while walking, and look both ways before crossing the street.

Champs
Champs
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

I think of the friends who are “always surrounded by drama” while mine is pretty low key. Look, we’ve all got problems, and the discrepancy isn’t just luck.

I’m on the road all the time, and in a “good” year I’ll be told to get off it once; most years, not at all. Your mileage may vary. I won’t credit riding with a positive attitude and good behavior as difference makers but they certainly don’t hurt.

DanF
DanF
6 years ago
Reply to  Champs

nicely put.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

I really can’t believe you just wrote that. Teaching people to look both ways before you cross the street is somehow bad? Really?

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Why don’t we place the responsibility on the drivers to look where they are going instead, since they are the sole reason people are taught to look both ways when crossing the street? The burden of safety should fall upon the people capable of causing the harm, not on the potential victims of said harm. Yes, this is taught in Driver’s Ed, but is not enforced by our legal system, where drivers often get no punishment for running people over.

davemess
davemess
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

The sole reason? So there is no chance a cyclist could hit a pedestrian?

Random
Random
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

“The burden of safety should fall upon the people capable of causing the harm, not on the potential victims of said harm.”

Good point. I’ve stopped looking both ways when I walk across MAX tracks, because it is the responsibility of the MAX trains to stop for me.

davemess
davemess
6 years ago
Reply to  Random

Normally I”m not always a fan of people preaching “personal responsibility” in all aspects of life, but I think it is incredibly naive to eschew some common, basic (and not very inconvenient) actions (such as looking both ways before crossing the street), and rely ENTIRELY on infrastructure, laws, and others good judgement.
I feel the same way driving, biking or walking/running. Doing all these things defensively is just going to be safer on average.

Alex Reed
Alex Reed
6 years ago
Reply to  davemess

There’s a difference between thinking personal responsibility is a good idea, and thinking that government-paid messaging for personal responsibility is a good idea. Particularly when the government-paid messaging for personal responsibility seems to be louder for when people are biking and walking than for when they are driving. And when what seems like the “fair” distribution of government-paid messaging would be 95% towards driving behavior (because people driving badly are very likely to kill/maim others, while people walking/biking badly are very unlikely to kill/maim anyone except themselves) but the actual distribution is closer to 30% driving, 70% biking/walking.

J_R
J_R
6 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

I think Adam’s point is that a “canned” safety message issued by the agency in response to a crash often includes a component that is not relevant to the particular case. When the direct cause of the crash is one person and one action, a “canned” safety message with six components the teachable moment and focus is lost in the background.

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  J_R

Yes. I’m not saying don’t look when crossing train tracks, roads, etc. Absolutely pay attention when walking; it’s just common sense. It really doesn’t need to be taught.

I’m saying that the message coming from many government agencies is that it’s your responsability not to get hit by a car. That the car driver can do no wrong, because they just can’t see you. So make sure you light your self up to make sure the driver is really paying attention.

The legal system backs this up. This is completely backwards and was designed to protect the intersts of the car and oil companies. Remember: the term “jaywalking” was invented by the car companies.

The solution is to design the infrastructure so that when mistakes inevitably happen, they don’t result in serious injury or death, and to place the legal and cultural responsibility of safety on the person operating the more dangerous vehicle.

alankessler
alankessler
6 years ago
Reply to  Tony T

Although we absolutely should treat these crashes as crimes, we probably don’t even need to jail people to have an effect. If a motorist injures a vulnerable road user, take his/her license away for a year. If they kill someone: 5 years? 10 years? forever?

KristenT
KristenT
6 years ago
Reply to  alankessler

Except taking away someone’s license doesn’t stop them from driving– at any given moment you are using the roads, there will be someone close by driving with no license, or a suspended license, or no insurance.

There needs to be consequences with teeth– but I agree that jail time is not the answer.

christopher
6 years ago

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.

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  christopher

This is also my experience that most aggressive drivers I encounter are in SE.

Anne Hawley
Anne Hawley
6 years ago

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.

barb lin
barb lin
6 years ago
Reply to  Anne Hawley

Yes Anne, maybe I’m lucky in where I ride – NE to Lloyd Center, pretty simple, fairly civilized. I use residential bike routes, not thoroughfares. That’s not to say I’m not swearing at cars who refuse to signal or who try and stop for me unnecessarily, but I luckily have never felt personally threatened (except that one old lady who almost smeared me into a parked car on 21st…).

Mike G
Mike G
6 years ago

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
RH
6 years ago

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 ?

Anne Hawley
Anne Hawley
6 years ago
Reply to  RH

I get virtually no aggro when I’m in a bike lane. But let me dare to LEAVE the bike lane (say, to turn), or to be in the car lane because the bike lane doesn’t start till the next block, then I’ve noticed a slight uptick in what feels like aggression to me.

TonyT
TonyT
6 years ago
Reply to  Anne Hawley

Used to be you could get a ticket in Portland for leaving the bike lane to take a left turn. The courts put an end to that, but that’s the way it was and the way it would be if a lot of people had their way.

Justin Gast
Justin Gast
6 years ago

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
Ian
6 years ago

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.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Ian

being passed by a faster cyclist is not rude. being passed unsafely at any speed is rude.

Ian
Ian
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

No disagreement here.

Gabbi
Gabbi
6 years ago
Reply to  Ian

I do that, too! The little wave of satisfaction when you catch up and pass someone who passed you in a not-strictly-courteous way–especially people who pass me on the right at a stop sign that I’m stopped or slowed down at.

I have to confess to tailing people on occasion, though. Sometimes it’s good for me to pace behind someone for a bit–I have a tendency to sprint and I need to be reminded that I don’t always have to.

I wouldn’t necessarily call that behavior aggression, though. I have never felt intimidated or threatened by another cyclist, even the ones who speed by me, even the ones who flaunt traffic law, even the ones stuck behind me on a one-lane bridge. Aggression requires a power dynamic, and aside from the fact that I’m a woman, when I’m on my bike I feel like we’re all eye to eye–not strictly true, I know, but that’s been my experience.

stasia:)
6 years ago
Reply to  Ian

Ha! Ian, exactly, on all accounts! 🙂

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
6 years ago
Reply to  Ian

“…feeling like commuting by bike in Portland is an oddly competitive and antagonistic exercise.”

I’ve heard it’s called Cat 6 racing.

Justin Gast
Justin Gast
6 years ago

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.

Todd Hudson
Todd Hudson
6 years ago
Reply to  Justin Gast

“he’d see to it that motorists receive harsher penalties”

He’s running for mayor or the city. Criminal justice issues are the domain of Multnomah County.

Robert Burchett
Robert Burchett
6 years ago
Reply to  Todd Hudson

Is the DA immune to a suggestion from City Hall? If the PPD, who sort-of answer to the mayor, present a series of worthy candidates for prosecution to the DA’s office, will they not pick one and go for the slam? Never think that our system of justice is apolitical.

SD
SD
6 years ago

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
Champs
6 years ago

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
Bald One
6 years ago

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
6 years ago

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.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Aixe Djelal

many people feel that riding in a 5 foot bike lane is risky. risk is subjective.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

“and in the evenings, cyclists seem to take a lot more risks than in the mornings”

after re-reading the above still comes across as judgy to me.

lop
lop
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

>The later it gets after 5pm, the more impatient people are (motorists and cyclists alike).
>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

soren:

>“and in the evenings, cyclists seem to take a lot more risks than in the mornings”

>after re-reading the above still comes across as judgy to me.

You might have a point if the other two snippets weren’t in the same post. As it stands…if you’re looking to get offended, either on a comment thread or on the road, you won’t have any trouble finding something to be outraged about.

Mark
Mark
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

Ohhhhhh noooo…not judgy….

Alex Reed
Alex Reed
6 years ago
Reply to  Mark

And not on BikePortland, that vaunted bastion of non-judginess!

kittens
kittens
6 years ago

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
scott
6 years ago

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

pdx2wheeler
pdx2wheeler
6 years ago

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
B. Carfree
6 years ago

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
spencer
6 years ago

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
realworld
6 years ago

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

Realworld
Realworld
6 years ago

Wow! That’s scary irony. And challenge excepted!

Come on BP’landers lets ramp it up!

ethan
ethan
6 years ago

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.

alankessler
alankessler
6 years ago
Reply to  ethan

Hooray for Vision Zero. 🙁

Aixe Djelal
6 years ago
Reply to  ethan

I hope you got the officer’s name and badge number. Of course it would be your word against his, but I am pretty sure you have the right to that information. I have found that police really don’t enjoy being told they are not doing their job. Regarding the motorist, how did you get their name? After that kind of lousy behavior they exhibited toward you, I’m surprised they were willing to share information. People are strange.

ethan
ethan
6 years ago
Reply to  Aixe Djelal

I got the officer’s name (not going to post it here) but not their badge number.

As far as getting the driver’s info, I followed them and caught up (didn’t have to go very far because traffic was completely stopped just a few blocks up), then I got in front of their car and demanded their name. She probably gave me a fake name, but I was mostly doing it so I could see their license plate number again and write it down.

The person who tried to run me over apologized, but didn’t seem really sincere. They didn’t seem to be very sorry until I told them I was going to call the police.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  ethan

Please file a formal complaint at the city auditor’s office.

http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=42860&a=544404

The PPB is under DOJ consent decree so these complaints have an impact.

kittens
kittens
6 years ago
Reply to  ethan

Their entire world view is shaped by the experience of being in a cruiser for 8 hours a day. Is it any wonder they don’t care about our experience?

ethan
ethan
6 years ago
Reply to  kittens

This was actually my second “unhelpful cop” story in the past 3 weeks.

A few weeks ago I was riding home and someone nearly hit me with their car, then drove on the wrong side of the road and nearly hit someone else as well.

A block later, I saw two cops and flagged them down. I told them what happened (they didn’t see it) and asked if they would go after the person who was driving dangerously.

They shrugged and said they “were busy.”

Jonno
Jonno
6 years ago
Reply to  ethan

I had a similar experience – cops do not give a sh!t.

jeff
jeff
6 years ago

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…

alankessler
alankessler
6 years ago
Reply to  jeff

So you ride in the door zone and train drivers that I should do that too? Please take the lane.

Mindful Cyclist
Mindful Cyclist
6 years ago
Reply to  alankessler

Where did Jeff say he rides in the door zone? He said he did not ride in the middle of the lane.

TonyT
Tony T
6 years ago

If you’re inside the curb half of the lane, you are VERY likely in the door zone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPA-ZcYGT94&list=PLCBECE62813FC60FD

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  jeff

What about the people who can’t or don’t want to ride fast?

Abraham
Abraham
6 years ago
Reply to  jeff

I hope no one ever opens one of those doors you are riding so close to.

Realworld
Realworld
6 years ago
Reply to  jeff

1) your riding in the door zone and that is more dangerous.

2) you may think your being courteous to drivers but your actually being discourteous to other bicycle commuters!
You need to review the traffic laws, the DMV handbook clearly states that cyclists should use the “sharrows” as lane placement. The signs on Clinton now state that cyclists may use the full lane, this is for the safety of all road users.
If your riding in the door zone you are making yourself invisible to on coming traffic as well as drivers at intersections and driveways.
By being invisible your making other road users frustrated, You are causing traffic issues.

3) you are confusing and frustrating those drivers you think your being courteous to.

joel
joel
6 years ago
Reply to  Realworld

the door zone is less than a third of the lane of traffic. with areas of no cars a person may bike a little closer to the right while still being in the sight line of traffic. it is easy to see when a biker stays closer to the center line that they are trying to block passers intentionally. this also makes it awkward for me to pass on my bicycle since im not sure if the biker is attempting a turn or just trying to own the lane. one may avoid the door zone but still allow others to more easily pass. especially if they are texting on their phone while riding clinton which i see sometimes. the bikers position outside of the door lane kind of shows their intentions.

TonyT
Tony T
6 years ago
Reply to  joel

“less than a third”

No it’s not. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPA-ZcYGT94&list=PLCBECE62813FC60FD

And that was a four-door car. A two-door car typically has a longer door that reaches out even further.

Dan A
Dan A
6 years ago
Reply to  Tony T

Wow, excellent training tool, thank you.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
6 years ago
Reply to  Tony T

Thanks for sharing that great video. When I ride on Hawthorne off the bridge, I hug the outside edge of that bike lane. I’m much less nervous about being struck from behind as I am being hit by a bar patron carelessly opening their car door.

If I’m riding slowly up a hill, I’m comfortable leaving much less space between me and the car because there’s plenty of time to anticipate and react, and it gives drivers (and faster riders) more options for passing me.

jonno
jonno
6 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

I do the same thing on the NE Tillamook bike lane between Grant HS and 43rd. The parking lane is so narrow that the whole bike lane is basically a door zone.

What’s the rule these days on riding outside the bike lane? I thought we could still get ticketed for doing so?

realworld
realworld
6 years ago
Reply to  Tony T

Outstanding video proving beyond a doubt that riding on streets near parked cars you must be vigilant and stay at least 6 feet away from the cars mirrors!

Good post Tony T.

Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy
6 years ago
Reply to  joel

When I am riding in the door zone, I look for drivers in the driver’s seat. It is usually pretty easy to tell if a driver is waiting to door a cyclist. I move out of the door zone around panel trucks or vans. I have only had one close call in 62 years of riding in Portland area. That was on NW 21st. car traffic stopped and about 30 inches between parked cars and stopped traffic. A driver was leaning to the left and suddenly straightened up and opened door. I broke the driver’s window and the driver’s wrist. I left the driver there and told him “If he wanted to make something out of it, I can have him charged with assault.” Bluffing works. He walked to Good Sam and had it fixed.

bikeslobpdx
bikeslobpdx
6 years ago
Reply to  jeff

I ride like Jeff, haven’t had an issue in 50 years. So I’ll keep riding that way, thanks. I’ll also stay off of 11th, 12th, 20th, 28th, Sandy, Hawthorne and Division.

Hazel
Hazel
6 years ago

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
Matt F
6 years ago

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
Todd Hudson
6 years ago

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
WAR
6 years ago
Reply to  Todd Hudson

Big brother would be proud.

Todd Hudson
Todd Hudson
6 years ago
Reply to  WAR

Fellow Brother. I’m not the government!

WAR
WAR
6 years ago

Ya’ll Need to get some Motorcycles.

Ben
Ben
6 years ago

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!”

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

“Share the road” is Driverese for “get out of my way”.

lop
lop
6 years ago

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
Matt
6 years ago

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
6 years ago

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
Eric G
6 years ago

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
Todd Boulanger
6 years ago

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
chris
6 years ago

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.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  chris

what is very disturbing to me is the increase in drivers running full reds when cross traffic is present. on my commute i treat some green lights as yields — especially the lights on broadway and terwilliger near the i405 ramps.

Ian
Ian
6 years ago
Reply to  soren

But when cyclists ride through full reds with cross traffic, that’s cool, right? How do you reconcile this statement with this comment (http://bikeportland.org/2015/11/12/weekend-event-guide-activism-zoobomb-the-elements-and-more-168157#comment-6588360) you made? Why do you hold drivers to a higher legal standard than cyclists?

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Ian

“Why do you hold drivers to a higher legal standard than cyclists?”

~32,700 reasons…and 368 reasons so far in Oregon this year.

Dan A
Dan A
6 years ago
Reply to  Ian

“Why do you hold drivers to a higher legal standard than cyclists?”

The same reason I hold cyclists to a higher legal standard than pedestrians.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
6 years ago
Reply to  Ian

Drivers do wield 20 times the impact energy of a bicyclist. Higher destructive force could be rationalized into a higher legal standard. I know the analogy doesn’t fit perfectly, but, guns and knives both injure and kill, yet I can carry a concealed knife with no training or permit—why the higher legal standard for gun carriers?

Ian
Ian
6 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

In your example, there is objectively a higher legal standard for carrying a concealed gun than carrying a concealed knife – that is, the difference in the danger of these weapons is reflected by the difference in how the law treats them. The vehicle code makes no such distinctions between cars and bicycles, so I’m suggesting that, as cyclists, we should hold ourselves accountable to follow the same laws that we demand that drivers follow.

Several people are making the argument that the risk of injury or death is considerably higher when drivers break the law than when cyclists break the law. Be that as it may, I think that’s a poor rationale for treating laws as optional only as they apply to cyclists. How about we all strive to ride (and drive) lawfully and respectfully? Why is that idea so objectionable?

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
6 years ago
Reply to  Ian

Actually… my understanding is that in CA, for example, laws against carrying a concealed knife are stricter than those for a concealed gun. Seems crazy, I know…

Ian
Ian
6 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

No kidding? That is surprising.

resopmok
resopmok
6 years ago
Reply to  Ian

driving lawfully and respectfully are really two different issues. your argument takes a firm law and order stance which seems to lack nuance of moral reasoning. i’m sure you could find examples of where breaking the law is morally responsible albeit illegal. respect is really the question being raised in the original post, and again, has little relation to the question of laws specifically in favor of human decency. it’s okay to play devil’s advocate a little bit, but it’s still important to recognize valid counterpoint.

Ian
Ian
6 years ago
Reply to  resopmok

I’m having a little trouble following all of your points, but I think I agree in principle. I don’t necessarily want to adopt a hard-line stance of obeying the letter of the law at all times and at all costs, since I recognize that there are some vehicle laws I willfully don’t follow. (For example, ORS 814.440 requires that cyclists signal turns and stops by giving the appropriate hand signal continuously for at least 100 feet before executing the turn/stop. I’ve never seen anybody do that, and I’m not about to start myself.)

In any case, I’d offer that my argument is indeed based on moral reasoning. Operating from the premise that many Portland drivers see Portland cyclists as generally careless scofflaws who feel that they’re above the law, and my personal conviction that it’s immoral (or at least unreasonable) to demand that a driver follows a given law while giving a cyclist a pass to ignore that same law, I’m of the opinion that sharing the road includes a moral obligation to hold cyclists to the same standards as drivers, which I believe is a necessary first step toward easing the tensions between cyclists and drivers in this city. To me, being a respectful and decent cyclist includes not being hypocritical with respect to application of the rules of the road.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
6 years ago
Reply to  Ian

“The vehicle code makes no such distinctions between cars and bicycles…”

See ORS 807.010

See also ORS 814.420

Sure, “The Rules” (with some key distinctions) apply to both cars and bicycles, but when deciding priority of enforcement, or holding operators accountable for the potential destructive results of careless actions, I think we can say keeping a tighter rein on motor vehicles is appropriate.

Ian
Ian
6 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

Ok, sure, there are some statutes that specifically differentiate between cars and bicycles; I suppose I was basing my statement on ORS 814.400:

(1) Every person riding a bicycle upon a public way is subject to the provisions applicable to and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle concerning operating on highways, vehicle equipment and abandoned vehicles, except:
(a) Those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.
(b) When otherwise specifically provided under the vehicle code.

(2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section:
(a) A bicycle is a vehicle for purposes of the vehicle code; and
(b) When the term vehicle is used the term shall be deemed to be applicable to bicycles.

(3) The provisions of the vehicle code relating to the operation of bicycles do not relieve a bicyclist or motorist from the duty to exercise due care. [1983 c.338 §697; 1985 c.16 §335]

That is, by default, the traffic laws apply equally to motor vehicles and bicycles save for a handful of exceptions.

I don’t necessarily disagree that, given limited resources, it makes sense to prioritize enforcing the laws as they apply to the more dangerous vehicles. I suppose I’m just trying to argue that, given that the apparent spirit of the law is that bicycles and cars both count as vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities, we as the cycling community have no right to demand that drivers follow laws that we’re unwilling to hold ourselves responsible for as well.

I recognize that this argument is probably based more on principle than practicality; and as I mentioned elsewhere, the spirit behind the argument is based more in morality than legal rigidity. That is, I’m dismayed by the antagonism between drivers and cyclists in this city, and I feel that we as the cycling community have some agency to mend that rift by demonstrating that we don’t feel we’re above the law.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
6 years ago
Reply to  Ian

Really, we probably agree more than it sounds like. What I like to think is yes, the laws apply “equally”, meaning they are not optional for bicyclists. BUT, if we’re going to complain about people breaking laws or “crack down” on lawbreakers, let’s whine about and crack down on the ones who are threatening people’s lives. When we’re all out of drivers to give tickets to because they’re all driving perfectly, then let’s do some stop sign “enforcement actions” along busy bike routes.

If I get a ticket for rolling a stop on my bike, I’ll take it because I know rolling stops is against the law. If I get a ticket for riding outside the bike lane when I have good reason to do so, I will go to court, because I don’t believe that law is fair or safe.

barb lin
barb lin
6 years ago
Reply to  chris

10 minutes?? They probably assumed it was broken!

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
6 years ago
Reply to  chris

“I see way more motorists flooring it and driving in a abrupt start/stop style…”

I call these drivers “stompers” because they only way they seem to know how to activate the gas or brake pedals is by stomping on them.

I’m less concerned about start/stop abruptness than directional abruptness. Jerky lane changes, turns, or zooming into the parking strip/bike lane/shoulder (or into a parking lot to cut across) to get around stopped cars (usually to make it the last half-block or so to a turn) is what makes me afraid. As traffic backs up more and more, I have seen more drivers do dangerous stuff to try to sneak around it, only to make a tire-squealing right turn without apparently looking for anything but car traffic. Woe unto me if I happen to be stopped at a light in the middle of a bike lane that somebody just used to try to sneak around a line of cars. Drivers will squeeze past me on the right to the point of driving up on the curb for a chance to make a right on red, rather than wait 15 more seconds for the light to change to green. I guess I should be grateful they drive over the curb instead of me…

Jen
Jen
6 years ago

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
Abraham
6 years ago

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.

WAR
WAR
6 years ago
Reply to  Abraham

THIS

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Abraham

The status quo is not going to change without making driving less convenient and more expensive. And don’t take my word for it, favoring active and public transport over driving is stated city policy:

2030 Objective 4. Create vibrant neighborhoods where 80 percent of residents can easily walk or bicycle to meet all basic daily, non-work needs and have safe pedestrian or bicycle access to transit. Reduce daily per capita vehicle miles traveled by 30 percent from 2008 levels.

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/66993

http://www.portlandonline.com/PortlandPlan/index.cfm?c=56527

Cory Poole
6 years ago

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
wsbob
6 years ago

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.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
6 years ago
Reply to  wsbob

“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.”

It’s a kind of vicious cycle: no bike lanes or other infrastructure means people don’t feel safe, because traffic is so crazy, which means more people drive to stay “safe”, which means congestion gets worse and traffic gets crazier. Then, since “nobody rides there”, there is no incentive to add bike lanes…

Mindful Cyclist
Mindful Cyclist
6 years ago

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
Mark
6 years ago

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
6 years ago

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
Randy
6 years ago

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…

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  Randy

Wheeler has yet to release any plans or even a political platform. Expect this to be the case until a viable opponent to the mayoral election emerges. We should not let Ted Wheeler slide into the mayorship unopposed and without a political platform.

alankessler
alankessler
6 years ago
Reply to  Adam

I’ll vote for you, Adam. I assume you’ll run on your usual platform of unbridled optimism.

mark
mark
6 years ago
Reply to  alankessler

Haha. Funny.

Adam
6 years ago
Reply to  alankessler

Probably closer to a 60/40 split between cynicism and optimism. 😉

Thing is, I do think Portland has done a terrific job when it comes to livability and bikability so far. But it’s time to take the next step. And that’s going to require strong leadership, bold steps, and a culture shift.