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This blog will put you inside a TriMet bus operator’s head

Posted by on November 23rd, 2015 at 3:29 pm


Perspective is everything.

If I’ve learned anything in 10 years of blogging about bikes it’s that empathy for other people’s views is the key to quality discourse, policymaking, and reporting. Heck, I’d even say that walking, riding, and driving in someone else’s shoes might be the most powerful way for us to improve road culture in general.

That’s one reason I’m happy to have come across a new (to me) blog written by a TriMet bus operator.

For two and-a-half years now the From the driver’s side blog has offered what its author, The Deacon in Blue, calls, “Musings from a contemplative bus operator’s point of view.”

From what I’ve read so far, the blog offers important insights into what it’s like to operate a TriMet bus on Portland’s busy streets.

I first heard about it thanks to a reader who emailed us an excerpt from a post published yesterday titled, Blame sharing for tragic incidents. In that post The Deacon (I don’t know his/her real name) offers thoughts after a woman lost her leg following a collision with a MAX train on November 16th.

Here are The Deacon’s candid frustrations about how operators are often blamed, regardless of the circumstances of a collision:

“People just act as if the world around them is responsible for their safety, and if they wear earbuds it’s up to someone else to watch out for them. Bicyclists especially are guilty of taking foolish chances around transit vehicles. However, when we alert them of our presence with a firm “beep beep” of our horn, their idea of thanks is often an extended middle finger. Oh, how I’d love to bend those fingers back until I hear a “snap”, just to teach them a lesson! But no. Can’t do that. We’re not allowed to respond. At all.”


Frustration with people’s lack of caution while sharing roads with buses is a common theme of The Deacon’s posts:

“Yes, I get a bit testy when the public, or the media, questions our “safety training”. It’s quite adequate, thank you. The public’s, however, is severely lacking.”

While some of you might not appreciate that tone, The Deacon ends the post with some heartfelt words:

“Even though this post seems a bit hard-hearted toward the dear lady who lost her leg recently, I can safely say that all operators feel terrible this happened. Especially me. Whenever we hear about an injury, or a fatality, you can be assured that at least a thousand operator voices are raised in prayer for the victim and family. We’re human, we truly care about our riding public.

Pay attention folks. We sure do.”

After a fatal collision involving a TriMet bus on SE 82nd last year, The Deacon wrote:

Our operators are easily some of the most challenged, most maligned, and most safety-conscious, of any in the world. We safely transport nearly 350,000 people daily. Impatient motorists cut us off, oblivious of the danger. We share very narrow streets with pedestrians who dart out in front of our buses and light rail vehicles, and we manage to avoid hitting 99% of them. Skateboarders, bicyclists, people using mobility devices… we safely share the streets with them. We’re always on the lookout for those who either refuse, or don’t know how, to safeguard themselves.

I plan to read more of The Deacon’s posts because without actually driving a bus myself, it’s a great way to gain some perspective about what’s like to pilot a large bus on city streets.

And in case you were wondering, the Deacon is not the first TriMet bus operator we’ve heard from. There’s Dan Christensen, the very outspoken (and funny) operator who was placed on administrative leave in 2010 after writing blog post titled “Portland! Kill This Bicyclist!” There’s also the gonzo blogging of Al Margulies who writes Rantings of a TriMet Bus Driver.

All these voices help bring perspective to bike-bus relations. The more, the merrier I say.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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224 thoughts on “This blog will put you inside a TriMet bus operator’s head”

  1. Anne Hawley Anne Hawley says:

    I’m almost certain that Tri-Met’s not-hitting-pedestrians rate is better than 99%.

    I enjoyed looking through this operator’s blog. My own interactions with Tri-Met operators, as a transit user, a pedestrian, a cyclist, and even (in the past) as a driver, have tended to be very positive. I see the evidence of their safety and courtesy training all the time.

  2. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

    Uhh, thanks for doing your job, I guess? Stop telling people walking that it’s their responsibility to keep themselves safe; you’re the one operating the huge bus on small city streets. Oh, and advocating violence against people riding bikes? No thanks.

    1. Avatar dwk says:

      you are simply humorless…..
      Their job is a bit tougher than riding a bike……

    2. Avatar paikiala says:

      There it is. And only the second post.

      Each person using the shared public right of way is responsible for their own safety (no matter your current mode of transport) as much as the impact their use has on the safety of others.
      Safe Systems/Vision Zero includes better road users along with the other points of attack.

      1. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

        You’re incorrect about Vision Zero. It’s not about everyone looking out for their own safety, it’s about reducing the impacts of the most dangerous vehicles in the road (i.e. cars, trucks, buses). Under Vision Zero, someone should be able to walk around distracted and not worry about being killed or injured by a driver.

        1. Avatar Paul Manson says:

          I have to ask – is the Vision Zero standard to protect the inattentive pedestrian? That is never going to be met. If the design standard is that all pedestrians are random movement creatures without heed to caution then are we doing away with crosswalk lights too since they can’t pay attention to them? This sort of thinking seems to overstate the ambition of VZ and to undermine real change that helps people. (And paints VZ as selfish too.)

          1. Avatar soren says:

            There are many inattentive pedestrians in Sweden who are alive today because of their demonstrably effective vision zero policy. Resistance to positive change often manifests as defeatism.

          2. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

            The only reason it is dangerous to walk around distracted is because of cars. Take the cars out of the equation and there’s no danger. So yes, we should be protecting those “distracted pedestrians” by taming the dangerous cars.

            1. Avatar Jeff Bernards says:

              one cars are here for the foreseeable future and bicycles have caused injury and death too by hitting pedestrians.

              1. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

                That’s a false equivalence. 30,000 people a year die in auto-related crashes, not including heart/lung disease caused by pollution. How many people per year die being hit by someone riding a bike? 1 or 2?

              2. Avatar 9watts says:

                I’d be curious to hear a little about how this sort of interaction works in Slovenia, Jeff. What public service announcements about how to make roads safer do you encounter there?

      2. Avatar soren says:

        Adam is exactly correct. Instead of scolding and discouraging vulnerable road users we need to have a laser-like focus on changing the behavior of people who drive via education, legal reform, and new infrastructure.

        1. Avatar 9watts says:

          And if you have any doubts I encourage you to scour the many publications out there that detail how cities and countries are tackling Vision Zero. I have and I’ve yet to find a single mention of pedestrian vigilance, or a finger wag remonstrating them to take out their earbuds or whatever. paikiala and I have had this conversation before.

          It is very much still true that everyone should pay attention, but it is a very slippery slope from asserting that to joining the chorus all around us that obsesses about pedestrians and earbuds all the while winking at the hundreds of thousands of people piloting automobiles at greater than the posted speeds or on the phone or pulling out of parking lots across sidewalks without looking or making right turns while only looking left…. Those maneuvers can and do kill people every day.

          1. Avatar paikiala says:

            Here are some additional sources of information:

            page 72, in the matrix, top left corner ‘attitudes’ – as in the understanding or beliefs/knowledge base of all road users.

            page 23, chart at top (figure 1.1) “Alert and compliant road users’ – no distinction of mode.

            page 3, Section 3.1, chart segment ‘Safe Road Use’

            Insistence that Vision Zero is entirely about curbing auto use or speed without any commensurate increase in knowledge or responsibility from other road users is not a recipe for success.

            1. Avatar soren says:

              Vision Zero requires a paradigm shift in addressing the issue of road safety (Rechnitzer and Grzebieta, 1999)… Vision Zero promotes a road system where crash energy cannot exceed human tolerance. While it is accepted that crashes in the transport system occur due to human error, Vision Zero requires no crash should be more severe than the tolerance of humans. The blame for fatalities in the road system is assigned to the failure of the road system rather that the road user (Wadhwa, 2001)

              Vision Zero is based on the ethical imperative that (Tingvall and Haworth, 1999): “It can never be ethically acceptable that people are killed or seriously injured when moving within the road system.” Accidents have to be prevented from leading to fatalities and serious injuries by designing roads, vehicles and transport services in a way that someone can tolerate the violence of an accident without being killed or seriously injured.

              Vision Zero strategic principles are:

              The traffic system has to adapt to take better account of the needs, mistakes and vulnerabilities of road users.
              • The level of violence that the human body can tolerate without being killed or seriously injured forms the basic parameter in the design of the road transport system.
              • Vehicle speed is the most important regulating factor for safe road traffic. It should be determined by the technical standards for roads and vehicles so as not to exceed the level of violence that the human body can tolerate.


            2. Avatar 9watts says:

              Thanks for those reports, paikiala. I looked at all three and will note two things.
              (1) The mode neutral statements you find buried in these reports are salutary and I don’t have any trouble with them, but you might agree that they all differ pointedly from the finger-wagging at pedestrians that PBOT and ODOT and Trimet regrettably still engage in.
              (2) Perhaps we can contrast these examples with those generated by the late, great Hans Monderman, who after his efforts in Groningen would walk backwards and with his eyes closed into traffic/across a busy street.
              Is there any particular reason that what he strove for, championed, the attitudes about responsibility that underlay some of his work, should not inspire us? With Vision Zero and Hans Monderman as inspirations this insistence on parity when it comes to responsibility eventually start to seem rather peevish.


              “A favourite demonstration of Monderman’s was to walk backwards and with eyes closed into the intersection. Instead of honking or worse, striking him down, the car and bicycle traffic diverted its way around him. The typical binary experience of stop or go was replaced with a slower, organic, more alert and more human process of negotiation. The increased perception of risk was, according to Monderman, essential: risk induces safe behaviour.”

              1. Avatar paikiala says:

                I doubt seriously that Sir M would undertake that behavior on any shared space in the US, maybe not even outside his own country.
                Cultural differences cannot be ignored.

              2. Avatar 9watts says:

                Perhaps you aren’t understanding what Monderman was getting at. His stunt was a demonstration of *his* approach to responsibility, risk, and traffic design. A confirmation if you will that in the places where he had worked his magic you could get away with doing something like that

        2. Avatar longgone says:

          Adam is correct?
          No Adam is ***direct personal insult deleted by moderator***.
          The problem is he doesn’t understand few want to join his sect. It is my utmost hope that the general public will never equate me with him, as I ride my bike with an understanding that I have an obligation to my safety and the rules of the road.

          ***longgone, I urge to to please reconsider your comment above. I believe it’s possible for you to express your opinion about Adam’s views without directly insulting him. I hope you understand how important this is to the health of our community on this site. — Jonathan. ***

          1. Avatar soren says:

            My comment was not about Adam — it was about “vision zero” something that you do not address at all in your ad hominem.

            1. Avatar longgone says:

              You said ” Adam is correct.”, sis you not ?

              1. Avatar soren says:

                The topic is “vision zero”.


            2. Avatar longgone says:

              …. Oops… actually, you said ” Adam is EXACTLY correct..” My mistake.

          2. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

            All I want is to not get killed riding my bike. I don’t think that’s a radical idea.

            1. Avatar dwk says:

              And Bus drivers (who are ferrying around the equivalent of about 50 cars every trip) are trying not to kill you. Cyclist should be happy for trimet buses, that is a lot of cars not in our way.

              1. Avatar Ian says:

                Seriously. It baffles me to see people who seem to be adamantly anti-car carry that animosity over to public transportation as well.

              2. Avatar soren says:

                I looked over this entire comment thread and did not see any “anti-car” sentiment or any opposition to public transportation.

              3. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

                I am far from anti-public transport. I regularly ride TriMet: buses and MAX. Public transport is an integral component of a well-designed city and helps reduce auto-dependence.

                While I obviously appreciate the care that bus drivers take to maintain safety; my issue is with the tone of many of those blog posts. Mainly, that we should be thankful that the bus drivers are not killing us. Coupled with lists of warnings on what not to do while walking/biking, it comes off as condescending and victim-blaming.

              4. Avatar Ian says:

                I think you and I are reading the blog very differently. Where you see condescension and victim-blaming, I see the perspectives of a man who takes very seriously his role in keeping everyone around him safe, and who regularly finds himself saving careless and inattentive road users from themselves. How many of us could drive a 20-ton vehicle around inattentive drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians (not to mention dealing with the people in the bus) for 8 hours a day without getting frustrated with how little regard people seem to have for their own safety? If you don’t care for the tone of a personal blog of a professional driver who takes his responsibilities seriously and wants to share his perspectives, I’d say that’s your problem, not his. You can’t expect people to adapt their tone to fit your narrative.

          3. Avatar longgone says:

            If you speak with zealotry on the web, you must expect a pushback. Even from fellow cycling community members who might believe you are doing nobody any favors.
            I do not apologize, it was hardly inflammatory.
            I appreciate this post. Sometimes I dream of being a bus driver. I hear the pay isn’t bad.

            1. Avatar Todd Hudson says:

              I am not sure why Jonathan protects Adam – his posts are toxic, grating, and repetitive (and no that’s not “mean” that’s an observation). He became so much of a broken record on Twitter that I blocked him.

              1. Avatar soren says:

                “I am not sure why Jonathan protects Adam”

                Because he owns this site and is, therefore, not required to silence someone simply because they annoy you.

      3. Avatar Lizzy says:

        If someone is in a larger vehicle bearing down on a pedestrian or cyclist, that’s the larger vehicle driver’s responsibility even more. The larger vehicle always comes out ahead and can do the most damage. Until we respect each other’s right to the road and look out for ourselves AND each other, this type of thing will continue. Also consider, there are a lot more people interacting with each other on the roads than there use to be. Things are changing, as will our transportation in the future. We need to adapt without hurting each other. Value life and don’t lose site of that priority.

    3. Don’t forget it’s your life, and a little common sense wouldn’t hurt you. What you don’t hear about is all the lives we SAVE every day because we DO OUR JOBS.

      1. Avatar ethan says:

        Hey! Cool blog. The way I read what you say makes me think you’re the “bad cop” counterpart to the person who ran the maxfaqs site.

        I’ll be looking out for updates in the future and thanks for being a bus driver. Chances are, unless you stick to doing routes on the west side, that you’ve bussed me around at some point. Thanks for your service 🙂

        1. Thanks Ethan. Chances are, you’re right. I get around! 😉

      2. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

        I’m obviously not advocating against using common sense, but remember that it’s called common sense for a reason — it doesn’t need to be taught. Everyone intrinsically knows to look out for those big loud vehicles. When you try to teach common sense in this context, it comes off as victim-blamey.

        1. Avatar Granpa says:

          In the second post you were advocating for the rights of the distracted. Walking around oblivious to the hazards of one’s surroundings is clearly not the embodiment of common sense.

          1. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

            A major component of Vision Zero is accounting for mistakes and designing the transportation system to be forgiving to these mistakes. No one should be killed because they happened to look away from the road.

            1. Avatar Ian says:

              Unless it’s a driver who makes the mistake, in which case there can be no forgiveness, right?

            2. Avatar Granpa says:

              The physical act of a pedestrian who employs suicide-by-truck (this is a thing) is the same as an oblivious pedestrian who steps in front of a truck (bus, car, train) Drivers and transportation engineers can not and should not be responsible for people who have no regard for their own safety.

              To think that a bus or Max train can avoid the willful ignorance or suicidal intent of a vulnerable road user is nonsense. Ever had a deer run in front of you when you were driving? Ever had a bird fly through the spokes of your bike? Tell me you could have avoided that bird.

          2. Avatar soren says:

            The primary goal of vision zero is to create a traffic system where the “distracted” have the right not to be killed in traffic.

            1. Avatar 9watts says:

              What a delightfully succinct way to put it, soren. Thank you.

              After all, the distracted person behind the wheel doesn’t expect (or deserve) to be killed-for-their-distraction either. Heck, they probably don’t even expect to be remonstrated.

              Your phrase (at least for me) also sheds a helpful, new light on the Eugene-cop-mows-down-dark-clad-woman-and-blames-her story.

              1. Avatar Granpa says:

                The distracted behind the wheel are exactly the ones who are killing vulnerable road users. Supporting and enabling their lack of responsibility is counter to the notion of safe roads.

              2. Avatar B. Carfree says:

                Hey now, let’s be fair and paint the right target. That was a Lane (Lame?) County Sheriff deputy who mowed down the woman on a bike, not a Eugene cop. Eugene cops drive in the bike lanes and hit cars on the freeway, but they haven’t actually mowed anyone down lately.

              3. Avatar longgone says:


            2. Avatar rachel b says:

              Do I have the right to at least punch them in the spleen when they’re WALKING right into me, fully absorbed in their phone, though? 😉 I’m for vision zero but I’ve gotta say–Portland is like a lint trap now for the flakiest, most self-absorbed people, and TriMet drivers are overall to be commended for taking such care around the mind-bogglingly careless. Put down your damn phone and count your FB likes when you’re done walking, already! Never saw this until the past several years. I hate people.

        2. Avatar dwk says:

          Everyone looks out?
          I guess the women who walked in front of the Max train last week did not get the message…..

      3. Avatar realworld says:

        “What you don’t hear about is all the lives we SAVE every day because we DO OUR JOBS.”

        Because what I SEE and HEAR is how many Lives you “Bus” drivers threaten every day.
        Bus drivers constantly drive to close, to fast and with WAY to much entitlement! I can’t tell you how many times a day I see a bus driver make a near fatal decision, or how many times I see a bus driver miss someone standing at a stop, because they were driving to fast and oblivious.

        I have hours of Gopro video footage of bus drivers encroaching into the bike lane, passing to closely, barging in and out of lanes and purposely playing leap frog with cyclists.

        No Mr. Bus driver I will not read your blog and you should be fired for your attitude and disregard for other peoples safety.

        1. Avatar B. Carfree says:

          I once worked for a trucking company that had a full-time safety officer whose job was to fine and fire us for safety violations. He’d hide out along our routes and look for any deviation from the law or company policy. First offence got you a two week “vacation” (unpaid). Second offence got you fired.

          I wonder what would happen if TriMet had people poring over the video the buses gather as well as privately submitted video and had the same policy as the trucking firm. I suspect we would see a noticeable improvement in driver behavior and a small increase in travel time.

        2. Avatar Another bus driver says:

          You do realize that we get to make mistakes right? Just like you do at your job. Missing someone at a stop is more often a result of passengers not making themselves “seen”(binocular vision tends to see motion far better than a still object) or simply standing behind vision barriers.

          As for playing leap frog with cyclists? We have stops about every 500 to 1000 feet. How else should we safely deboard passengers? Even bike lanes are shared real estate.

  3. Avatar Todd Hudson says:

    Much better than Al’s blog, which is just a disgruntled ex-employee pitching sour grapes at Trimet.

    1. Avatar ethan says:

      Which blog is Al’s?

      1. Avatar Champs says:

        Seek @alyourpalster and ye shall find.

  4. Avatar soren says:

    Oh, how I’d love to bend those fingers back until I hear a “snap”, just to teach them a lesson!

    A call for empathy in the context of this kind of sadism from a public servant is absurd. Imagine the response that a PBOT active transportation division employee would provoke if they publicly fantasized about bludgeoning a driver with a u-lock.

    1. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

      Unfortunately, violence against people walking and riding bikes is all but condoned in this country.

    2. I read that comment differently than you did Soren. Maybe I’m missing something, but it didn’t really bother me — despite the reader emailing me to specifically point it out as if I would be upset and want to focus an entire story on it. I think the context is that this is a personal blog and the author was just sharing a thought bubble. Now, if the comment was about using the bus as a weapon to teach the bike rider a lesson, that’d be a different story IMO.

      Overall, I appreciate the honesty and candor. This is a human being after all, and people are prone to thoughts like this – public servant or not. In this case hopefully writing something like this allowed the author to get a feeling off their chest and perhaps it relieved a bit of pressure that might otherwise build up and boil over in another, less innocent way.

      1. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

        The writer may not have meant it in that way, but the unfortunate reality is that we often face real threats of violence simply for riding a bike on the street. Apologies if some of us don’t take idle threats lightly.

        1. No need to apologize to me Adam. We can all have different feelings about something without there being a right or wrong answer. And I would disagree with you in this case that the person on the bike was “simply riding a bike.” The person flipped the bus operator off. That’s an antagonistic gesture.

          And FWIW neither of us know what actually happened to provoke the middle finger in the first place.

          1. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

            Flipped the bus driver off after they honked at bike rider, that is. Many of us would agree that honking at someone walking or riding a bike is also an antagonistic gesture. Shouldn’t TriMet be telling their bus drivers not to honk at people?

            Saying that you want to break off someone’s finger is not acceptable for anyone, especially for a public bus driver.

            1. Avatar Mixtieme says:

              I once yelled at and then talked to a bus operator for honking at me. She said they were taught to honk to let bicyclists know they are there. I apologized for yelling at her and asked if she’d relay to her superior that honking actually feels like a threat, that the majority of people who’ve honked at me meant to it to be a threat. She said she would.

              1. They should install bicycle bell sound devices to indicate specifically the same thing riders of bikes mean when using them…”I’m here, just so you know….”. But I also know there will be a hundred reasons they “can’t” do it.

            2. Avatar paikiala says:

              Offence is something taken, not something given.
              Each of us has the power to choose how we feel and respond to others words and actions. Blaming others for the way you feel about their words and actions is not constructive.

      2. Avatar soren says:

        Obviously violent ideation happens but expressing it publicly and then discussing it as if it this kind of “response” would be appropriate for others (e.g. people who are not bus operators) is awful, IMO:

        “But no. Can’t do that. We’re not allowed to respond.”

        1. Avatar Keviniano says:

          Yeah, now that I re-read that, that’s off for sure. It’s like, “Management makes us be civil to other road users, but in my off hours…”

          1. “…but in my off hours, I’m just as civil (to everyone) as when I’m working.”

            1. Avatar Keviniano says:

              Awesome! Thanks Deacon for clearing that up.

      3. Avatar Keviniano says:

        I read it as venting too, but a public blog is a risky place to vent without a good bit of context around it.

      4. Avatar Gerald Fittipaldi says:

        If the author wants to put threats of violence in writing to “get something off his chest” he’s welcome to write a private journal. When he makes these written statements public there’s no telling how people will take them. While I’m willing to venture that he doesn’t “really mean it,” and perhaps the vast majority of the public take his comments light-heartedly, I will also venture that comments like these do inspire a minority of motorists to take their anger out on bicyclists. I don’t care if this guy is a “good guy,” a “comedian,” whatever. If he puts comments about “snapping fingers” of people in public forums in writing, I take that as a threat.

        A journalist in Washington, DC wrote a piece about how he disliked bikers, similar in nature. It quickly lead to large-scale protests.

        There are some mentally unstable motorists out there. The more that people joke about violence against cyclists, or any other demographic, the more those unstable people get closer to reaching their tipping point.

        1. Well said Gerald. Another example: Police Captain Sanford in San Francisco was unleashing a lot of biased personal opinions and hatred for bikes in the press and in public meetings. It’s all uncontested and in the public record.

          Here is the public response:

          >>>> inflaming the profoundly vile hatred routinely directed at bicyclists. That’s right, your “crackdown” is actually creating more unsafe conditions on our streets as anti-bike bigots now feel even more empowered to verbally and physically assault any bicyclist who doesn’t come to a full and complete stop at a stop sign. <<<<<

          The driving preachers often do more than just blog, they take their battle to the streets: the man in the SUV allegedly became upset after she made a rolling stop through the intersection.

    3. Oh please. It’s not a true desire of mine to cause harm to anybody; it’s my way of trying to illustrate how frustrating it is when people abuse us for no good reason. I find it sadly amusing that you would pick this one “thought bubble” (thanks Jonathan) to rant and rave about. It is not a threat, or even a true desire of mine. How many of us say to ourselves “Oooh, I’d like to do blah blah blah to someone?” Come on, get real.

      1. Avatar soren says:

        Thank you for responding but some people who bike have had encounters with people who are not “just kidding” or “just blowing off steam”. As a majority road user (safely encased in a metal vehicle) its probably hard for you to empathize with those of us who have experienced threats of violence or outright violence from drivers.

        1. I get where you’re coming from. You’re correct about mentally unstable people out there. I deal with them all the time, and many of them threaten or abuse us verbally and sometimes physically. Since your just being out there on two wheels makes you vulnerable in itself, be assured I’m ONLY thinking of your safety, even when I get angry with one of your mistakes, but the last thing I want is to “let off steam” by actually hurting you. If I were truly mentally ill, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. It’s a figure of speech, people. Move on, there’s nothing here to see. Please be safe out there, I’m watching for you. 😉

        2. Avatar paikiala says:

          Would you acknowledge that we are hard-wired to remember the negative much more than the positive? As such, our perspectives are almost always skewed toward pessimistic views of the world.

          1. Avatar soren says:

            I agree. Nevertheless, people (and especially long-term societal minorities) are hard-wired for learned helplessness…and I see a fair amount of this when it comes to VRU-driver interactions on our roadways.

      2. Avatar Gerald Fittipaldi says:

        I think I speak for most people who bike regularly when I say that we’ve been intentionally threatened by motorists before, some of us numerous times. By “threatened” I’m talking about motorists revving the engine from behind and then passing with about 12-inches to spare. Others have literally had motorists run them off the road, or even send them to emergency rooms to “teach them a lesson.”

        Whether you realize it or not, you making jokes about physically harming cyclists incites others to actually physically threaten us. No, not the common person, not most people, but it does encourage violent behavior in some people.

      3. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

        If it’s not a true desire of yours then why did you write it down in a public forum? Saying “you wish” you could do something is, by definition, a true desire. When someone does something to me that I don’t like, I sure as hell don’t fantasize about inflicting violence against them.

    4. Avatar meh says:

      Did you have the same response to the post here that bike thieves should have their hands cut off?

      Because there is a case where a pro cycling person was advocating violence.

      ” Justin Gast November 18, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      He’s been arrested 98 times, charged dozens of times with bike theft, yet this time it will be different? I’ll believe when I see it.

      I got an idea, if you’re caught more than once stealing property, you lose a hand and foot for each subsequent arrest. Lawful amputation would teach folks to think twice.”

      1. Avatar soren says:

        You must not post here much because I have repeatedly condemned incitements to violence on bike portland. I also want nothing to do with the current bike theft initiative until it repudiates violence (even in jest).

      2. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

        No way I’d advocate for violence upon bike thieves. Bike theft is a serious problem but violence is not the solution. I would never even joke about that.

          1. Avatar soren says:

            I find the theme of violence surrounding bike theft enforcement in Portland (e.g. “death to bike thieves”) to be really disgusting.

  5. Avatar Mollie says:

    I generally find TriMet drivers to be very conscientious of me when I’m riding in close proximity. I think they do an amazing job keeping everybody safe while operating such large vehicles. Great to read about this right after reading the New Yorker article Cars vs. Bikes vs. Pedestrians that was linked this morning. I plan to poke around the TriMet driver’s blog; I always appreciate the chance to understand another road user’s perspective.

    1. Avatar ethan says:

      I’ve had good experiences with bus drivers ofd and on the bus. The other day I was biking along (perhaps the burnside bridge and I noticed a bus was very close proximity to me but I know the bus driver saw me and was doing everything perfectly well.

      We still need some separated infrastructure (I’m hoping MultCo will add bus lanes and raised bike paths on the bridge while re-habbing it). As an occasional rider or the 20 (and previously a rider of the 12 and occasionally 19), those busses go slower than walking speed during eush hour.

  6. Avatar realworld says:

    just to teach them a lesson! But no. Can’t do that. We’re not allowed to respond. At all.”

    Really now. interesting observation… it just so happens when I was riding down NW 6th ave through downtown (which btw is a 2 lane, one way left side vehicle lane and a right side bus lane with buffers between the two) I’m on my cargo bike with lights “flashing” bright yellow helmet and (ironically enough) transit blue rain jacket. A “Bus” driver decides he wants out of the bus lane and into the lane I am occupying. As he slowly lumbers by me as I start accelerating from a green light, he turns his signals on and starts to join me in the lane I am occupying with my lights flashing and “hi-vis” clothing on… but hmmm “he doesn’t see me” so I yell as loud as possible “HEY GET OUT OF MY LANE!”
    He paused his encroachment long enough for me to pass him and get in front… so what happened next you ask?
    He gave me the finger while I sat at the light at Burnside while he took a right onto Burnside!

    So I was the A-hole here?!

    Bus drivers are not allowed to respond… my A$$!

    1. Avatar soren says:

      I came exceptionally close to being crushed by a bus veering into a bike lane a few years ago. I filed a complaint*, followed up, and Trimet completely blew me off. Others have mentioned that they have had a similar experience. It seems to me that Trimet may have an institutional problem when it comes to taking the safety of vulnerable road users seriously.

      *Complaint Ref 457 090, 03-30-2014, 5:07 pm, Vehicle ID #2634

    2. Truly sorry that happened to you. Not the norm, though.

    3. Avatar Caleb says:

      That a Tri-Met driver chose to respond does not mean Tri-Met drivers are “allowed” to respond.

      1. Avatar realworld says:

        oh give me a break! I sent the video to Trimet clearly showing the entire interaction.
        Was there anything done to that driver?! NO!

        so in your literal world he was “allowed” to get away with being a jerk because he couldn’t accept his almost fatal decision.

        1. Avatar Caleb says:

          My literal world? Please, there is no need for personal enmity between us. I put “allowed” in quotes to suggest its use in the blog post may have referred to something different than what you meant by it. My point was that the person writing the blog may have simply been speaking to written regulation regardless of how much it is enforced, and that the person’s words may not have been as disingenuous as your post suggested.

        2. Avatar Caleb says:

          Also, do you still have the video? Would you be willing to share it with us?

    4. Avatar paikiala says:

      how many times a day do you have interactions without incident? You might try counting them. It’s a perspective thing.

  7. Avatar pink$$ says:

    I recall somewhere in the Oregon Drivers Manual advising against using your horn to get cyclists’ attention or “warn them you’re there.” It is an incredibly aggressive and unnecessary signal that, as the blogger notes, many don’t appreciate. In no mode of transportation I’ve ever taken have I considered that a gracious gesture.

    I can appreciate the driver’s frustration with discourteous drivers/passengers/etc, but imagining breaking someone’s fingers (and recognizing its culturally okay because they’re talking about a cyclist) is just violent. They’re talking about VRUs here… a cyclist flipping them off is not the same thing as cutting them off or crossing in front of them, making conditions less safe for anyone.

    I’ve been on a bus where the frustrated (and stressed out because we were a half hour behind schedule) driver directed ALL of their rage at the commuters on Williams… And pretty much didn’t stop honking/verbally abusing them between Broadway and Fremont. After reading a couple of this driver’s posts, I’m struck by how frequently they disparage other road users for being stupid or “taking dumbass pills.” Maybe their safety training is adequate, but their empathy training sure isn’t.

    1. Touchy touchy! But it’s great to hear from your point of view. We use the horn as a warning signal, not a “get out of my way” tool. It is a warning tool, but too many people use it otherwise; hence, your misconception about our using it. Peace out.

      1. Avatar joebobpdx says:

        You’re brave to wander in here. It’s a tought neighborhood. Some interesting conversation, but also some pretty angry, lookin’ for a fight kinda folks. Don’t take it personally, keep doing what you’re doing. Your blog will be part of my regular diet from here on.

        I’ve worked for TriMet and for a couple other transit agencies over the years. Driving is one of the toughest jobs out there – no way I could have cut it as an operator. TriMet must have close to 2,000 front line employees by now. Some of them great, most good, a few stinkers. Like everywhere. Even among us bikists.

        1. Thanks Joe. But I welcome the opportunity to ‘spar’ with the riding public, whether they ride on or outside of my bus. Thanks for reading, joeobpdx.

      2. Avatar pink$$ says:

        I don’t know how hard you think it is for a cyclist to notice a bus in the lane next to them… or turning onto a street they’re in… or turning in front of them or crossing the intersection in front of them, but it’s really not all that hard. No announcement needed, just peripheral vision or neck mobility. Perhaps if you experimented with biking near a bus, you might realize how unnecessary any audio warning is.

        Now if you’re miffed that cyclists are ACTING like they can’t see you, maybe consider they’re operating their vehicle how they feel safest. For example, I never let buses pass me in Ladd’s addition, 1) because I’m already going the speed limit and 2) even if there weren’t pinch points, the bus would have to move so far over, I wouldn’t feel safe traveling in the opposite lane.

        1. Avatar 9watts says:

          “it’s really not all that hard […]for a cyclist to notice a bus.”

          I don’t know how it is for others, but I recognize the engines of different classes of vehicles from blocks away. A UPS van sounds different from a FedEx van which sounds very different from a Trimet bus and so on. So in my case I’m very well aware of a Trimet bus without any peripheral vision. Maybe it comes from my misspent youth obsessing about cars?

      3. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

        Please understand how loud and intimidating a horn sounds to most people not inside a motor vehicle. MAX trains have two different levels of horn — one quieter and less intimidating and the GTFO loud horn. The bus horn is closer to the latter. Maybe buses should have a quieter horn option?

        1. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

          And in all honesty, it’s pretty hard not to hear a bus coming up behind you, even without the horn. It’s not like those buses are whisper quiet.

          1. Avatar canuck says:

            Actually they are pretty quiet when coming up from behind you, the engine and exhaust are at the rear of the bus. Add in the other sounds going on in downtown and a can actually blend right in to the background. The time I do hear a bus is when they are starting from a dead stop or when they are finally passing me, or outside of the downtown core where traffic noise is at a minimum, but a bus just moving along in traffic doesn’t stand out.

  8. Avatar Keviniano says:

    In the last few months I’ve started using TriMet buses on the weekends to go on adventures with my toddler. Before that I hardly ever got on the bus. I have to say I’ve developed a solid appreciation for the challenges of operating a bus. They are, in effect, professionals who have as part of their job description the task of being figuring out how not to be distracted drivers, when to me the job seems like it’s ALL distraction. I’m really impressed with how many of them juggle it all AND manage to stay warm and empathetic with all the folks who have special needs, be they wheelchairs, bikes, strollers, or whatever. What a job!

    I think the “most maligned” statement is a bit over-the-top, though. I personally don’t see operators as personally maligned. Buses are maligned by car drivers who can only see them as obstacles to get around and who don’t give a thought to all the riders they serve. The operators are not even considered to exist, much less maligned. Maybe he’s talking about all the union-management conflicts of the last few years?

    1. Well, perhaps you’re right, and the “most maligned” comment is a bit of an over-reach. But hey, I’ve been known to exaggerate to make a point. Seems we’re “maligned” by fewer than I thought.

      Thank you.

  9. John Liu John Liu says:

    TriMet buses are the safest vehicles to cycle near, by, or around.

    They move slowly. Their maneuvers are extremely predictable. Their drivers check mirrors before pulling out.

    A cyclist who can’t avoid an accident with a TriMet bus is not paying any attention.

    Lets remind ourselves: absolutely no training is required, before someone can get on a bike and ride in the city. It shouldn’t be surprising that some small minority of cyclists are careless, incompetent, or clueless. They probably get in accidents more often than other cyclists. Are those accidents ever “their fault”? Of course, sometimes, the cyclist is at fault. Even when a bus is involved.

    Yeah, cyclists are “vulnerable”. Guess what. It is possible to be vulnerable, and still be at fault.

    1. Avatar soren says:

      “A cyclist who can’t avoid an accident with a TriMet bus is not paying any attention.”

      Hmmm….lets modify your statement a bit:

      A pedestrian who can’t avoid an accident with Trimet bus is not paying any attention?

      PS: I was in a bike lane when the bus veered fully into the lane after passing me. This encounter was the single most harrowing encounter I have had with motorvehicle since I moved to Portland ~16 years ago. I filed a complaint, sent multiple follow up emails, contacted Jonathan Maus, and received nothing but unfulfilled promises to follow up from Trimet’s “Customer Satisfaction” representative (Jenny J).

      1. Avatar Dan A says:

        One of the scariest interactions I’ve had in town was a TriMet bus passing me on the uphill blind 180 right turn on Kingston in Washington Park. I had veer off the road on the right to avoid being knocked over by the back of the bus.

    2. Avatar Bjorn says:

      I am guessing that you blame Sandi Day’s victims for not avoiding her bus too?

  10. Avatar Gerald Fittipaldi says:

    Well, I skimmed a couple more blog entries from this TriMet operator. His victim blaming tendencies are worse than I thought …

    To summarize one blog post: He’s driving a taxi car (his second job) and spots a person laying motionless in the middle of the road. A witness is taking the man’s pulse. It turns out the man in the street dies at the scene. Later on Mr. TriMet operator reads an article that the deceased was a pedestrian killed by a motorist under the influence. The driver was charged with “manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, recklessly endangering another person, reckless driving, and driving under the influence of intoxicants.”

    Well, well, wouldn’t this be a good time to right a blog post entitled “Use Common Sense to Avoid Tragedy.” Clearly there’s sense in linking this death to all the times that pedestrians “do stupid things,” right? The entire blog entry is a rant about how pedestrians cause accidents.

    Think I’m exaggerating? Read the blog post for yourselves:

    1. Yet I didn’t blame the pedestrian for the accident. What you’re missing here, or I failed to mention, is that the drunken driver should have used common sense and called a taxi. My ‘victim blaming tendencies’? Good grief.

      1. Avatar Gerald Fittipaldi says:

        If you want to go off blaming pedestrians on all the stupid stuff they do, don’t put that rant one sentence after you detail how a pedestrian got killed by a wreckless, under the influence driver. If there’s no connection, then why are you putting the two topics back-to-back? Furthermore you chose to blame an eleven-year-old for a bad decision made crossing the street. An eleven-year old. All of this a couple days after the fatal incident.

        Are you kidding me!?

        1. And you ***personal insult deleted – not tolerated around here Deacon. I hope you understand – Jonathan***, I most certainly did NOT blame the 11-year-old girl for her injury! I blame the motorist who didn’t pay attention and hit the poor girl. The bus operator was trying to alert the kid NOT to dart out into traffic. ***Sentence that was a flippant remark bordering on an insult has been deleted by moderator***

          1. Avatar Gerald Fittipaldi says:

            Direct quote:

            “As bus operators, we constantly see people taking foolish chances in traffic. A few weeks back, an 11-year-old girl darted in front of the bus (on Lombard too) she just exited and into the traffic lanes. Even though motorists can’t see around a bus, they speed around us all the time. This time, a car struck this poor child and seriously injured her. The bus operator saw it happen, and was devastated.

            When people do stupid things just to catch my bus, I cannot help but comment …”

            I’ve gotta tell ya, when you follow “people taking foolish chances in traffic” with “an 11-year-old girl darted in front of the bus,” it really does read that you’re calling the girl foolish. NOW I get what you’re saying that you *meant* that the driver was being foolish, but that’s not how your writing comes across. Not at all. The line about [pedestrians] doing “stupid things to catch my bus” adds to everything.

            Do yourself a favor and stop victim blaming on your blog.

            Golf clap on calling me a bonehead, though 😉

            1. Avatar Gerry the Baker says:

              I guess you didn’t see that the follow-up comment “…As bus operators…” was in a completely separate paragraph that went on a to different (but related) topic.

    2. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

      Hah, and I love that the photo is of the bus stopped in the bike lane!

  11. Thank you Jonathan, for the review. And thank YOU, fellow Portlanders, for your comments here. I don’t usually have a wide audience other than bus operators, so I am very interested in what you have to say, and I truly appreciate your honesty.

    My apologies if my musings leave you trembling in fear. I see many of you reacted negatively to the ‘bent fingers’ comment. No, I’m not a violent person. Never have been. Would not have been hired if I had any violent tendencies whatsoever. That statement was not a fact, but it was a figure of speech meant to illustrate how frustrating it can be sometimes to experience a negative experience. Truthfully, how many of you have uttered something that could be construed as violent, when the incident was merely an annoyance? True, it’s over-the-top. But if you were to meet me, chances are golden you’d never believe me to be even minutely ‘violent’. My apologies for that ill-advised comment.

    I guess being judged by a panel of bicyclists is fair, since I pick on you guys quite a bit. Just remember, I only pick a few bicyclists out for chastising, and it’s for a very plainly visible reason. If you pick on me, or other bus operators, remember there’s always our side of the story to consider. I want you to be safe, use good judgement, and know that we are (for the most part, 99% of the time) doing our best to keep you happily pedaling down the road.

    Peace and safe travels,

    1. Deacon in Blue,
      I appreciate your comments on this blog (I have not checked into your’s yet) but I have to say that if I am driving my van or riding my bike, the biggest problem and concern I have with buses is that when I am overtaking them at a stop I often see them sitting at the stop with either the right signal blinking or the emergency lights blinking. I get no indication if they are about to leave the curb and merge into the traffic lane. Often I can see if passengers are loading or getting off but more often I don’t see any activity but the signals are still blinking. It is very ambiguous–if someone is clearly not exiting or boarding, what do the signals mean? is there a procedure that the drivers are supposed to follow? and how do I determine what is likely to happen?
      Dennis in PDX

      1. Thanks for asking, Dennis. The proper procedure for a bus to leave a stop is to first deploy the left turn signal, in addition to the ‘Yield’ signal. Once we’ve determined it’s safe to do so, merge back into the traffic lane. Often, when you see a bus at a stop for an extended period of time, they are simply ‘burning clock’. If we’re early, we burn off time until the schedule is back on track. So watch the bus turn signals… that’s your sign. If you’re far enough back, remember state law requires motorists to yield to transit vehicles, especially if the yield light is activated.

        1. Avatar Gary B says:

          I’ll follow on. Lately I’ve been noticing a lot of buses stopped with their left signal on loading/unloading. Seems to be when they don’t have a proper pull-out and are partially in traffic, as sort of a “warning: I’m partially in the lane.” That’s a fine gesture, but makes it very ambiguous when it actually is time to pull out. That seems to be against procedure as you stated it, right? If I were driving, I’d think I’d be stopped with the right flasher on, then put on the left when time to pull out.

          1. Avatar KristenT says:

            State law also says that unless you’re on a multi-lane road, you can’t pass a bus that is stopped for passengers.

            If you have another lane to legally use you can move over a lane and pass, otherwise you have to wait, unless the bus is pulled off the roadway completely like in a bus stop pull-out. But if they’re pulled over in the bike lane, or stopped in the regular lane, you can’t legally go around. Even if there’s no oncoming traffic on the other side of the road or there’s a center turn lane.

            1. Avatar davemess says:

              What about if you can fit through on a bike in the travel lane?

              1. Avatar Another bus driver says:

                Please err on the side of caution. The rear corner is 6 feet from our rear wheels. When we pivot the tail swings out. Just wait to pass. Bicycles are vehicles, just like cars and are expected to yield

    2. Adam Herstein Adam Herstein says:

      I am sure you are not a violent person, but it’s easy for people to misinterpret things on the Internet. Honestly though, even joking about violence isn’t funny. There are ways to get your point across without talking about breaking fingers.

      1. Avatar paikiala says:

        Misinterpretation happens all the time (see book “Crucial Conversations’) because we hear a story without context that has holes where missing information should be. We fill those holes with what makes sense to us based on the little picture of the world we have in our heads. With the built in biases that everyone has, this practice results in ‘misinterpretations’ of other peoples words and actions.

      2. He also mentioned how much he enjoys it to “spar” with other road users. Hopefully for him he is never outted, I can’t imagine TriMet enjoying this kind of verbiage from its drivers.

        1. Avatar Ian says:

          Seriously? My dictionary offers the following definition of “spar”: “engage in argument, typically of a kind that is prolonged or repeated but not violent.” All Deacon said was “I welcome the opportunity to ‘spar’ with the riding public, whether they ride on or outside of my bus”; if you insist on reading that as a violent desire on his part, I think that says more about you than it does about him.

    3. Avatar rachel b says:

      Deacon in Blue: I would not want to be a TriMet driver in Portland for all the money in the world! I’m a cyclist, pedestrian and a regular bus rider, and all taking the bus has overwhelmingly shown me is that drivers here are unusually patient and careful in regularly insane driving conditions. I see what you described out there every day and I marvel at how bus drivers are able to navigate Portland’s traffic (of all kinds) at all, and keep their cool. It is clearly not a job for me (ill-tempered redhead). I regularly think violent thoughts toward my fellow humans, just trying to navigate a sidewalk with them barreling into me, staring at their phones. I smile extra big at people who are looking up and behaving as though, somewhere, somehow, they learned manners and believe in them.

  12. Avatar Ian says:

    Nathan Vass’s writing about driving a bus in Seattle is quite good. It’s deeply empathetic and humanistic.

    1. Avatar soren says:

      Ian, That is a fantastic blog with some deeply moving pieces and not a hint of “venting” or “blowing off steam”. I am in full empathy with Nathan the Seattle bus operator.

      1. Avatar meh says:

        So a blog isn’t good if it “vents or blows off steam”?

        Isn’t that the purpose of a blog, to state your opinion and viewpoint?

        Where would this bog be without venting and blowing off steam?

        1. Avatar soren says:

          I have no problem with venting but I do have a problem with “venting” (please notice the quotations marks).

    2. Yes, his blog is excellent!

  13. Avatar Slug says:

    As someone who mostly rides trimet while jealousy watching people who are not afraid to bike, I am mostly impressed with how safe and attentive the trimet operators are. During evening rush hour I see them being cut off by what seems like every other auto driver on the road, and I applaud their patience each time they have to hit the brakes after being cut off again. I am also appalled by some of the inherent conflict built in to the infrastructure. That buses constantly have to cross the bike lane to move in and out of their stops is a really bad design. Some of the largest vehicles have to try and ‘swim’ with a crowd of the smallest vehicles. In Seattle they redesigned some of the bus stops to have an island between the bike lane and the bus/main traffic lane to avoid this conflict. I’d love to see Portland do that at all the stops on Madison and Hawthorne in the downtown and SE central area.
    Thanks for sharing this blog, its good to get new perspectives to improve my own empathy for all road users.

    1. Avatar Bald One says:

      Yes, this inherent conflict built into the infrastructure seems to be part of the baggage in this conversation. That and insufficient bike lane infrastructure means that we are always sharing the bike lanes with vehicles (Tri-Met), when really this should not be the case. Tri-met operators have tons of patience, but their driving behavior frequently appears to be rather impatient. This and the trouble of having to judge many different bike speeds from the rear view mirror – some bikes move up on you much more quickly than others.

  14. Avatar Al M says:

    Hey Deacon! Don’t let theses bicyclists bother you! Just keep doing exactly what you’re doing! These people can be dangerous

    1. Avatar soren says:

      “These people can be dangerous.”

      Unbelievable tone deaf. Trimet drivers have killed multiple people. To my knowledge, no one has been killed by someone walking or cycling.

      1. We’ve also SAVED a much larger amount of people; you automatically assume each fatality is our fault. Perspective, Grasshopper, perspective…

        1. Avatar soren says:

          I absolutely agree. I’m a long-term supporter of public transit and transportation unions, Deacon.

        2. Avatar soren says:

          And, BTW, I’ve upvoted 2 of your comments here.

        3. Avatar 9watts says:

          “We’ve also SAVED a much larger amount of people”

          To drive a bus in such a hyper-vigilant fashion as to avoid killing pedestrians is in my view not well captured by your phrase quoted above. To save someone used to mean grab them before they went over the waterfall in a dinghy or slipped into a crevasse while crossing a glacier. But what you are instead saying is that you both represent the (potential) danger—the bus you are piloting—as well as doing the (actual) saving—hyper vigilance while driving. You are both the crevasse and the outstretched hand. For me this dynamic isn’t well captured by the phrase we SAVED a much larger amount of people.

        1. Avatar 9watts says:

          Right. Less than can be counted on one hand vs what, 36,000/yr?
          I think you proved soren’s point.

          1. Avatar meh says:

            No Soren’s point was he knew of no deaths caused by cyclists or pedestrians. The use of ridiculous hyperbole doesn’t help a conversation or it’s willful ignorance. But to try and make out like cyclists are never at fault and never responsible for their actions doesn’t cut it for me.

            1. Avatar soren says:

              The sentence you are referring to contrasted risk to others with Trimet — a Portland metro agency. Perhaps you should take your own advice when it comes to hyperbole.

            2. Avatar Caleb says:

              I don’t know that Soren’s statement qualifies as hyperbole, and if it does, I think calling that hyperbole “ridiculous” might also be hyperbolic. A handful of incidents, in comparison to the tens of thousands he mentioned, can be easy to miss.

              1. Avatar Caleb says:

                Sorry, I mixed up Soren’s and 9watts’s posts there…

              2. Avatar meh says:

                Except the 10’s of thousands is all vehicle related deaths across the country and not those related to TriMet operations. So hyperbole across the board.

              3. Avatar Caleb says:

                Sorry, I thought you were only referring to his statement of no cyclists or pedestrians killing someone as hyperbole since that’s what you said was his point before you said ridiculous hyperbole doesn’t help a conversation.

                Regardless, was Al M not referring to Portlanders when he said “these people”? How many Portland cyclists or pedestrians have killed someone while transporting themselves? What exactly do you think Soren exaggerated to ridiculous hyperbolic effect? Further, I don’t think a statement qualifies as hyperbole when you effectively admit to everyone that it may be false.

    2. Avatar Chris I says:

      Oh ya? Want to cite any examples?

      1. There are examples every single trip. Pedestrians dart into traffic, we stop. Cars cut us off and make right turns directly in front of us; we predict this behavior and avoid collisions. There are numerous examples every day on each line.

        1. Avatar Chris I says:

          Not what I was asking for. The way Al said “these people can be dangerous” implied that they were trying to harm others. I have not heard of a cyclist intentionally killing or injuring anyone in this city.

          1. Avatar Ian says:

            “Dangerous” doesn’t imply an intent to harm. Inattention in traffic is dangerous regardless of who’s being inattentive. If I were to wander onto a busy street without checking for traffic, wouldn’t you call that dangerous behavior on my part?

          2. John Liu John Liu says:

            Well, some cyclists are dangerous to themselves.

            1. Avatar soren says:

              Despite the thousands of cyclists who are not as experienced, skilled, and law-abiding as Mr. Liu, cycling in Portland is demonstrably safe. We still need need to work very hard on making cycling comfortable and safe for the entire family, for senior citizens, and even those “dangerous” newbies. (And the fact that this will be annoying to some is the olive in my martini.)

        2. Avatar realworld says:

          “Pedestrians dart into traffic” Your understanding of Your responsibility as a road user is showing. (and its unsightly)

          Oregon law states that Pedestrians have the right of way at any intersection (because every intersection is a crosswalk marked or otherswise) You MUST stop and stay stopped for pedestrians (and all other crosswalk users) this means you must drive focused and aware of all pedestrians or cross walks at all times… not when its convenient for YOU.

          1. Please everyone, remain calm and collected. Treat each other with respect and focus on the issues. Keep it clean and productive. Each commenter should be a model of the type of dialogue and comments you yourself would like to read and engage with.

    3. Avatar VTRC says:


      You should be really careful after coming to attention here. Take a look at some of the issues between Al M and Marcus from the way back, and know what some people here are willing to do.

      We are demonstrably less safe with Al replaced by a new driver. It may be the vilest thing to come out of Bike Portland comments.

  15. If this preacher cared about safety he would demand a 24 hour hotline to report Tri-met drivers who put the public at risk. Until then you have to call back in “business” hours. You can’t even leave a message on weekends or nights.

    This nameless “Deacon in Blue” seems less concerned with safety and more concerned with assumptions and personal attention.

    I’ve got endless evidence that Trimet drivers take avoidable risks near cyclists and pedestrians.

    I’ve photographed or evidence of
    – Street Car drivers eating microwave meals while driving
    – Buses frequently pulling into bike boxes long before the green light.
    – Buses using the bike lane for long stretches even when they have an open car lane
    – Max drivers downtown accelerating towards elderly pedestrians who had a green that seemed to suddenly change red as the max approached.
    – Bus driver going 30-35 down a 1 mile stretch of Albina’s 25mph Limit, nearly hit me and car. We both called it in. GPS data validated my speed estimates
    – As a bus passenger I recently witnessed a bus make illegal and dangerous maneuvers near a bike. I called it in while riding the bus, but that only works because it was 9AM to 4pm.
    – The Trimet violations are endless, and I pretty avoid any bus by 20 feet because there are too many bully drivers.

    Do we know if the woman hit by a max train was wearing headphones as a fact? How was that fact determined?

    This story feels like feeding the angry person trying to stir up more anger. If we knew his/her name I’d bet we find a higher rate of complaints by bikes and pedestrians who feel unsafe near this person. There are some alarming thoughts and words on this blog. It’s a liability for Trimet if this driver were to be involved in a crash. It would lean towards #crashnoaccident

    >> Watch Your Thoughts, They Become Words; Watch Your Words, They Become Actions <<

    1. Sounds like you’re angrier than the average Portlander. I see you use our hotline often, and would like it to be 24-hours? Well, how often have you called in a compliment as compared to complaints? Bet there’s a wide discrepancy there, and if so, perhaps you ONLY look for the bad and ignore the good. Sure, there are operators who make mistakes; there are MANY more trips on a daily basis that are without incident. And, if you can truly show yourself to be infallible, then by all means, keep lobbing stones.

  16. Quote this deacon: “an 11-year-old girl darted in front of the bus (on Lombard too) she just exited and into the traffic lanes. Even though motorists can’t see around a bus, they speed around us all the time.”

    This happened 2 blocks from my house. As did the death caused by a DUI driver. Both in October 2015.

    Here is the perspective from my neighbors. Their story:

    A girl got off the bus on Lombard. It was stopped at a legal crosswalk. The girl entered the crosswalk. The bus remained stopped. The car driving in the opposite direction had the legal obligation to stop for the pedestrian in a cross walk. The bus driver honked at the girl who was in front of the bus. The car broke the law and hit the child. This is all uncontested evidence.

    When you honk at kids they may think you are about to hit them. The bus horn could be the very reason this girl got hit. It could have spooked her and made her move into another lane faster than if there had been no horn.

    The police never issued a ticket. Hales staff wrote me and explained not giving a ticket: “there were no citations issued as there was not found to be careless or reckless intent or illegal actions.”

    1. Avatar Ian says:

      Wait, are you seriously suggesting that the TriMet driver was at fault for using their horn to try and alert the girl and/or the driver that a collision was imminent? What the heck is a horn for if not exactly that sort of situation? I recognize that the horn may have startled the girl with tragically counter-productive consequences, but I find it a little appalling that you’d default to blaming the TriMet driver for using the one tool at their disposal to try to prevent a tragedy in a moment of panic.

  17. Avatar Bjorn says:

    It is always interesting to me that the same person who thinks it is safe to drive a car with the windows up and the radio on thinks earbuds are unsafe for people walking or biking.

    1. Avatar Dead Salmon says:

      Either activity is dangerous if you go forward crossing streets and rails and don’t bother to look left/right before doing it.

    2. Avatar canuck says:

      Because cars come with safety equipment that don’t require you to use your hearing as the primary source of determining surrounding traffic, you know mirrors. How many cyclists wearing ear buds use a mirror?

      1. Avatar Derp says:

        Not sure, but I’m sure it’s quite irrelevant. Turning your head OR using a mirror (but I still turn my head after I check my mirror anyway) is always going to trump listening for cars behind you. Do you change lanes/make lateral movements based on hearing? No, you base it on vision. While hearing buds will reduce the distance at which you hear a car, it is never the primary sensory organ required for making informed/safe lateral movements. You’re trying to turn that dynamic on it’s head. If what you’re saying were true, blind people could ride bikes just fine while the deaf would be relegated to walking around with…hearing sticks? Who knows.

  18. Trimet is huge, and like all big organizations- there are good drivers and bad drivers.

    But I bet not a single one of you haven’t imagined tossing a u-lock, keying a passing car, grabbing and smashing a drivers cell phone, or tossing something into some ass hats spokes at least once. If you haven’t – happy upcoming b-day on Dec. 25th.

    And keep in mind that the meaning of “the Finger” is violent too. Be it the story of the English longbow archers threatening and taunting the French soldiers, or the “F word”, (which originally meant to “beat or punch”) which of course has evolved to be more of a threat of rape than just a sound beating.

    1. Avatar soren says:

      Giving someone the finger is not violence.

      1. Avatar paikiala says:

        Violence, like many things, starts small and gradually increases. Your definition appears to begin much later than the standard definition.

        1. Avatar soren says:

          OED: Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

          Equating a word or gesture with violence is frequently used to justify violent assault (and especially so in the USA).

    2. Avatar Gary B says:

      Thanks for useful perspective. Imagining tossing a u-lock is on the mild end of the spectrum of things I imagine doing to cars and their drivers on a daily basis.

  19. Bike Snob NYC quiz.

    This author ( Trimet bus driver) considers safety training tripe, which means:

    a) rubbish
    b) yummy food for thought
    c) cow stomach

    “One thing about the class that bothered me was a demonstration by someone who works in the “Safety” division. We were subjected to a terribly patronizing video outlining such things as what constitutes a “fall”, or a “trip” and other such things we all learned as children. We listened politely as this chap told us how “safety is our culture”, yet the talk of the town was how this lady had lost her leg when she was hit by a train when she didn’t look before crossing. We all had the same reaction to this corporate double-speak: bullshit. Show this tripe to the riding public.

    The use of patronizing here best describes

    a) people who pay for bus rides as patrons
    b) the way bus drivers view safety training
    c) a patron saint for the record 365 dead on Oregon roads this year

    Being “subjected” in the mind of this driver might describe

    a) The subject matter of the training = safety
    b) Being forced into safety training
    c) The subject predicate agreement in blog writing culture

    1. Look, you missed my point entirely. We do NOT take safety training lightly. What we do object to is being patronized and having time wasted on stuff we learned as children. I also stated in my blog that the class had definite benefits. The ‘tripe’ comment refers to the obvious disconnect TM management seems to have about ‘safety’. They talk about it, then commit horrendous blunders. They do some things very well, then others not so well. If you don’t like how I write, I invite you to move along, lil’ dogie (sic purposely). We’ll do fine without you.

  20. Avatar mark says:

    I just wasted a perfectly good hour reading that blog. It gave me a new appreciation for what drivers do.

  21. Avatar Gerald Fittipaldi says:

    One thing I will give to the Deacon in Blue is that he appropriately pointed out that the new Orange Line crossings are not safely designed. Here’s a quote from his blog:

    “Take our beautiful new Orange Line, for example. Cost to build: $1.5 billion dollars. Yet with all this money, and a supposed ‘safety culture’, the end-of-the-line boarding approaches are straight lines with feeble warnings (on the ground) to ‘Stop and Look’. No herding passengers left, then right, before crossing the tracks; like they have on some of the remodeled approaches on other lines. Brand new line, horrible design where safety is concerned.”

    THAT I can agree with. At the heart of Vizion Zero is safe infrastructure. Holland and Sweden are two countries with phenomenal transportation safety records. This is true because they’ve placed a focus on safe street design. They don’t, however, place a focus on the behavior of pedestrians and bicyclists. All of the focus is on the people operating the hunks of metal that can kill. As a result, drivers there are super on their toes. Infrastructure that designs out conflict, combined with harsh penalties on motorists (not peds or cyclists) = hardly any fatalities.

  22. Avatar Dead Salmon says:

    Please visit that woman who lost her leg and let her know it wasn’t the fault of her earbuds. Let her know that the mean, evil MAX train should have stopped on a dime when she didn’t look, couldn’t hear it, and stepped in front of it. That will make her feel a lot better, right?

  23. You are the exception to the norm, then. Most people I see with the buds are jamming so loud they can’t hear a thing. Unfortunately, that’s what we have to assume when we see someone with ear buds not paying attention.

  24. Avatar Andy K says:

    Did the Deacon In Blue actually think he could come in here and win a comment war against BP’s finest?

    1. Avatar joebobpdx says:

      Or be acknowledged as a thoughtful person with a different – but valid – point of view? Apparently not.

      1. Avatar Dan A says:

        I appreciate the different point of view, and the insightful blog. I don’t appreciate the comments on the blog that do nothing but add more fuel to the fire, the standard ‘stupid vulnerable user, wish I could do something harmful to teach them a lesson’ comments. We know that there are people out there who put this type of thought to action, and that kind of language should not be tolerated.

    2. Andy K,

      Please. This is not a war. This is — this should be — a discussion among smart and passionate people who use dialogue as a building block for the ultimate goal of making the world a little bit better.

  25. Avatar Cycledadpdx says:

    Two things:
    1) over heard two Trimet fair inspectors talking about how under qualified most of their drivers are. Apparently there is a bunch of new recruits soon to be driving buses because they are short staffed. The FI was not thrilled with this.

    2) I had the #77 almost run me over this morning because it needed to get to its stop. Instead of stopping and waiting it matched my speed and moved into me. I have had bus operators stop,open the bus door and yell at me that they don’t have the space because the road is not built like that. I would say more bikes and less Trimet!

  26. Thank you ALL for your comments. Some left me shaking my head, others have strong points for us all to consider. I appreciate the feedback, good or bad. Just remember, we’re not always the ‘bad guy’. I’m not always right, and you’re not always wrong. Peace and safety be with you all.

  27. Avatar Dan says:

    Not sure what to make of this one:

    “One lil’ sprite of about seven was riding his bike just behind his mother’s as we crossed Weidler. At this point, the bike lane crosses left over the traffic lane. Keeping the two bikes ahead of me, I eased into the right lane as we slowly approached Broadway. Mom hogged the center of the bike lane, so Lil’ Fella was outside in the traffic lane. I gave the horn a beep-beep, a driver’s friendly way of saying “Hey, there’s a bus behind you in case you weren’t aware!” Mom looked back and saw what she thought was my bus bearing down on her son, and gave me a “You’re an asshole” glare. Because she did this, she almost missed the yellow-to-red light at the intersection and stopped just short of becoming the hood ornament of a cross-traffic delivery truck. Then the banter began. She was ahead of me a bit, and over the noise of traffic and my Gillig, I think the conversation went something like this:

    Her: You don’t need to be such a jerk.

    Me: Sorry ma’am, I was just trying to alert you of my presence. Your son…

    Her: I don’t need you telling me about my son!

    Me: I’m not trying to argue, or be a jerk, just wanted to tell you he was in the traffic lane and I honked to let you know I was there. That’s all, not trying to argue or anything. Just a teaching moment here.

    Her: (She hangs her head a second, then instructs her son to stay in the bike lane. He appeared to tell her to make room for him or something like that.) Oh, okay, sorry.

    Me: It’s okay, I just don’t want to see the little guy get hurt. It’s my job to help keep y’all safe out here. Have a nice day, be safe!”

    It reads like Deacon is a little horn-happy.

    1. Avatar soren says:

      “Because she did this, she almost missed the yellow-to-red light at the intersection and stopped just short of becoming the hood ornament of a cross-traffic delivery truck.”

      A textbook illustration of how unnecessary honking endangers the lives of vulnerable road users.

      1. Avatar Ian says:

        I’d argue that this is a textbook illustration of how automatically choosing to take offense at others’ efforts to look out for your safety endangers vulnerable road users. Out of curiosity, though, when do you think it’s appropriate for a bus driver to use the horn?

          1. Avatar Ian says:

            Right, so you agree that it’s legal and appropriate to use the horn “as a reasonable warning.” What I’m asking you is what situations you think warrant the use of a horn as a reasonable warning. For example, Deacon thinks his use of the horn is consistent with this law (, while buildwithjoe seems to argue that using a bus horn to warn of an impending collision is inappropriate (, so I’m wondering where you stand on that subjective question.

            1. Avatar Dan A says:

              I don’t think this qualifies:

              “I gave the horn a beep-beep, a driver’s friendly way of saying “Hey, there’s a bus behind you in case you weren’t aware!””

              1. Avatar Ian says:

                That’s fair; can we at least agree that the law is somewhat subjective with respect to that point? I’m just arguing that Deacon is probably aware of this law and views his horn usage as being consistent with the law, given the comment I linked to in which he said as much, as well as the paragraph that follows in the blog post you quoted:

                “It’s a huge responsibility to shepherd 40-60 people in a 20-ton monster machine, whilst constantly scanning for anything that could come into contact with the bus. When I see a ‘vulnerable’, I make it a priority to help them understand what’s expected of them and what I intend to do. Lately I’ve been working hard at scanning every intersection, and it’s resulted in many a saved life on the street.”

                All I’m saying here is that these comments and actions on Deacon’s part seem consistent with an interpretation of the law in which keeping a cyclist aware of a bus’s presence and intentions counts as a “reasonable warning,” and I don’t think that’s an unreasonable interpretation.

              2. Avatar lop says:

                I don’t know what sort of horn Deacon has on a trimet bus. With most car/truck horns I don’t think there’s a way to use them in the friendly manner he’s trying to use his. No matter the intention, they’ll come off as hostile and aggressive. It’s the nature of a noise device designed to be heard by a person in a car far off with the windows closed and the music on too loud being used to communicate with a person on foot/bike who may be pretty close. Buses, police cars, parks, water etc…vehicles should be equipped with the sort of bell MAX and streetcar have if their operators want a way to communicate with people on foot/bike when it isn’t an emergency. I don’t know how often that communication is appropriate, but it will be far more often if the horn isn’t so jarring.

            2. Avatar soren says:

              Deacon honked as he approached a young man legally cycling next to his mother. Can you please explain how this could possibly be construed as a reasonable warning? (Did some strange electromagnetic force render Deacon’s brakes non-functional?)

              1. Avatar Ian says:

                See my reply to Dan A’s comment, above.

              2. Avatar soren says:

                And your reply made zero sense. If approaching a bike required a “reasonable warning” then every car would have to honk at a person cycling.

              3. Avatar Ian says:

                Look, all I’m saying is that the law is inherently subjective, and I can envision an interpretation of the law in which Deacon’s use of his horn is lawful. I’m not saying I necessarily agree with that interpretation, but given the subjective nature of the law, I don’t think it’s sufficient to copy-paste the URL of the statute to prove that Deacon was in the wrong.

              4. Avatar Dan A says:

                I would not be pleased to have a bus driver honking at my 7-year-old son just to ‘let him know he is there’. I don’t see the safety benefit of that at all.

    2. Avatar Bald One says:

      Horn-happy, or perhaps impatient. If it’s a car in front of him occupying the lane, does he honk? Sounds like they were very close to a red light anyway, what’s the hurry?

  28. Avatar Seth says:

    Its amazing to me that there aren’t more issues with buses with the amount of abuse they get lobbed at them every day. In a given week I’ll take all three transportation options (drive, take transit, and bike) and can say transit seems to have the most predictable, least dangerous habits. Thanks for taking the time to share your perspective!

    As for everyone concerned about the “middle finger” comment, how many times have we heard cyclists only half-jokingly suggest pulling out their u-lock on motorists? Isn’t stashing a u-lock on your left hip “just in case” just as bad? (And yes, I know not everyone with a ulock on their hip feels that way… sheesh)

    1. Avatar Dan says:

      If it’s common, do you have a quote? I wonder if you’re thinking of someone talking about hitting a car with a u-lock, not hitting a driver with it.

      1. Avatar Seth says:

        A quote for an anecdote? I don’t have the biggest group of cycling friends, but roughly half of them have made the remark at some point in a moment of frustration. As for hitting cars vs. people: They’re both assaults meant to terrify/intimidate someone into behaving a certain way, how is that different than drivers’ bad behaviors like revving an engine or pressing into a bike lane to make a cyclist afraid?

        The point I was making is as cyclists its easy to pick out fault with other road users like buses honking their horns, pedestrians stepping off the curb on a “no walk” signal, or drivers not giving enough cushion to be safe, but if the goal is to be truly equal participants on the road we can’t act as if all cyclists are perfect themselves. Its setting up a standard for others on the road that cyclists themselves won’t be able to meet up to and paints the community as largely hypocritical when that’s the position taken.

        1. Avatar Dan A says:

          You asked, “how many times have we heard cyclists only half-jokingly suggest pulling out their u-lock on motorists?”

          For me, never. I have never heard someone say they wanted to hit a driver with their u-lock. I have never read it here either.

          You asked, “how is [hitting a car with a u-lock] different than drivers’ bad behaviors like revving an engine or pressing into a bike lane to make a cyclist afraid?”

          Threatening murder out of spite is different than threatening to put a dent in a car in self-defense. Seems like an obvious difference to me.

          1. Avatar BeavertonRider says:

            Ah, but we have seen at least one instance of someone actually throwing their u-lock just this year. Hence, hardly a leap to think that some cyclists have not actually thought of throwing it or something else at a car. Just sayin…

            1. Avatar Dan A says:

              In that story, BTW, the third party account indicated that cyclist had been nearly right-hooked by a driver, and then followed closely behind by ANOTHER driver, who was blaring her horn while the cyclist was subject to “several blocks of aggressive driving and heckling from an agitated passenger”. The u-lock was thrown towards the front of the car, probably hitting the license plate, according to the account.

              That doesn’t answer the question: “how many times have we heard cyclists only half-jokingly suggest pulling out their u-lock on motorists?” Are there blogs out there where cyclists suggest literally maiming or killing drivers (not their cages) because they are annoyed with them? Has that been written here? This sounds like quite a leap to me.

              1. Avatar Seth says:

                I’m not going to be able to provide you with links for my own personal experiences because I don’t run a blog… My use of the word “we” by definition doesn’t mean or include “everyone”; You and I have simply had different experiences with respect to the attitudes of some (not all obviously) cyclists.

              2. Avatar Seth says:

                FWIW, Twitter has plenty of mentions about u-lock violence –

              3. Avatar soren says:

                Is an inanimate object a person? I say no.

  29. Avatar mark says:

    Dear Deacon in Blue, unlike some of the readers here, I spent over an hour reading through your blogs. Sure, some of them aren’t politically correct..especially for some here who demand that all writings stroke their ego and put them to sleep with sweet nothings. Your writings are your truth and I took no threat from them at all.

    Kids are dumb (hence, kids). They are foolish, they walk into traffic and people on bikes (NOT CYCLISTS) ride foolishly and demand the world around them stop. I agree with that. Someone who has ridden or driven almost every conveyance that’s road legal without a special sign on it…people who walk, people who bike and people who drive..can be clueless.

    I have been clueless on occasion.

    We need to watch out for eachother vs. demonizing each other.

    Keep going on your blog. But..I do caution you…I suspect there are people on bikeportland who are already so incensed..they are working overtime to ID you and out you…because you didn’t tow their line. However, I enjoyed your writings immensely. It was a breath of fresh air.

  30. Avatar Al M says:

    And I want to set the record straight. Not only am I a “gonzo blogger” and “disgruntled ex Trimet employee” but I am also a “bully” and a “stalker” depending on who you talk to. Lots of people don’t like what I have to say.
    That’s because I don’t depend on advertising or have any financial entanglements with various government entities. I have no problem sicking a penis on the head of Trimet general manager Neil Mcfarlane and mocking the Portland “leaders” (term used losely).

    Just for the record

  31. Avatar Tom says:

    The only issueI have with buses is that sometimes they don’t turn on the yield light triangle. I see it’s off and bus appears to be loading, pass the back then turn light goes on, engine roars, and I have to do an unplanned lane change or break hard…neither a good idea. The yield light works great if it comes a few secs or more before the turn light.
    Why is it not always used though. This might actually be the same bus since my schedule is regular… I don’t catch the bus number.

    Please someone advise what to do.

    1. Avatar Lionel Rampant says:

      The Yield-to-buses law (triangle light) does not allow us to use the yield light when we are occupying, or partially occupying, a travel lane. It is only for merging back into the flow of traffic from a parking lane, service lane, or from an exempted right-turn-only lane (“Right turn only, Except Buses”).

      Buses are, by law, allowed to straddle the bike lane in order to serve a designated bus stop. Please let us over, and don’t try to rush the bus on the right as it’s signalling to pull over.

    2. Avatar Another bus driver says:

      The yield light can only be turned on if we have the left turn signal on.

  32. Avatar Bald One says:

    One of my issues with TriMet is failure of most bus operators to yield the lane, or at least slow down and not try to pass on N. Interstate under the Larrabee St overpass by the Rose Quarter. Getting buzzed by a 30+ MPH bus in a two foot bike lane with storm drains and manhole covers in it is no fun at all! Bus needs to read the sign, slow down, and be patient. The overpass pinchpoint is only a few feet long, and it won’t kill the driver to slow to 15 mph and wait an extra couple of seconds, but it may just kill the cyclist.

    1. Avatar Gerald Fittipaldi says:

      I don’t ride that stretch often, but I know it is not pleasant. I listened to a bike advocate several months ago pushing for improvements to the design. When asked where he positions his bicycle through that short stretch he said he takes the lane because it gets so narrow. I strongly urge you to take the lane for your safety. Hugging the edge in that stretch is about the worst thing you can do. Right or wrong, it encourages motorists to pass you. I see your point that you think the bus operators are behaving dangerously by trying to squeeze past you, and you are correct, but controlling the lane in this instance will significantly reduce the chances of any sort of collision.

  33. Avatar mark says:

    Deacon honked as he approached a young man legally cycling next to his mother. Can you please explain how this could possibly be construed as a reasonable warning? (Did some strange electromagnetic force render Deacon’s brakes non-functional?)Recommended 1

    You are really hung up on the horn. Wow.

  34. Avatar rachel b says:

    I don’t hear a recognition here of just how awful Portlanders in public can be, or have become. Having lived here all my life, I’ve had a window seat view of the changes. For example, in restaurants in Portland in recent years I’ve gotten in the habit of hastily exiting any place I see Portland parents moseying into w/ their toddlers in tow. Too many of these poor kids have NEVER been told ‘no,’ and the parents take the offensive if you dare to suggest Pinecone stop walking on the furniture and screaming and running into the waiters. This is a relatively new phenomenon here, something that arrived with the city’s outsize popularity. I’ve noticed a dramatic rise in rudeness and narcissistic behavior–esp. in the late 2000s to now.

    I have a problem with bad manners, self-entitlement and self-serving stupidity being excused, and I think it’s disingenuous to downplay just how ridiculously self-absorbed Portlanders have become–a heinous trait that’s reflected in the way we all get around, as though in a mirrored bubble. I can barely stand to walk in Portland anymore. People don’t even regard basic rules, like “walk on the right” and “don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk in heavy foot traffic” or “Don’t make me walk in the ditch so you and your 5 dogs on extendo-leashes can enjoy the sidewalk.” The narcissistic ear-budded iPhoned bumbling careless fools don’t deserve death; but come on! Let’s not equate Portland’s population with the average city’s citizenry. Let’s acknowledge just how difficult it would be to have to drive a bus HERE, with so many ‘special’ and ‘exceptional’ human beings (‘Portland rewls!’)–as Jonathan seems to appreciate and Deacon actually experiences. I don’t know if everyone’s actually high here all the time now, but sometimes it looks and feels like it to me.

    I’ve noticed that when I go only as far out of Portland as Tigard, I can enjoy a meal with a roomful of parents and kids of all ages–and kids are being kids, but because parents are parenting, it’s all ok–no 30-minute, unaddressed screamathons, no running and smashing and food throwing. Even biking in Milwaukie I notice pedestrians and cyclists show better awareness of shared space on the shoulder and act accordingly. Better manners are in evidence outside of the Portland bubble, generally, and far fewer people are navigating the world with their heads in their phones, aka up their own hinds.

    1. Avatar soren says:

      “I notice pedestrians and cyclists show better awareness of shared space on the shoulder and act accordingly.”

      I love the fact that increasing numbers of Portlanders are willing to reclaim their right to walk or bike freely in the roadway! This trend and the impending endangerment of the “driver” will transform our cities.

      1. Avatar rachel b says:

        You should know by now that I’m rabidly anti-automobile, soren. I don’t own one and I loathe them. Yay for a more pedestrian/cyclist-centric world! But I can’t support a trend of distracted, irresponsible ped & cyclists taking the road, and this is what I see a lot of in Portland of now. Just lazy, self-centered navigation. I absolutely support responsible and alert cyclists taking the lane, and would love to see bike and ped only zones throughout the whole of downtown/close-in Portland. Huzzah!

        1. Avatar soren says:

          “But I can’t support a trend of distracted, irresponsible ped & cyclists taking the road, and this is what I see a lot of in Portland of now. I absolutely support responsible and alert cyclists taking the lane…”

          The normalization of walking and biking lessens the need for people to be alert and responsible. In fact, this am multiple people stepped into the road causing me to slow down or stop. It made me smile because I took it as evidence that this city’s transportation priorities are changing. Ped and bike zones are areas where jaywalking and jaybiking compliance is 100%.

          1. Avatar rachel b says:

            There’s a BIG difference in the scenario you’re describing between people who are alert and obeying the kind of social contract (i.e., look where you’re going, be aware of your surroundings, take other people into account) that no longer seemingly exists and people who make public navigation and daily life a pure misery w/ their self-centeredness. There can be jerks in cars and jerks on foot and on bike, and we should never–even in the name of Peds and Bikes Over All, Hurrah!–overlook jerky behavior! I’m for the world you envision, but I’m also for good manners–they ease everyone’s day-to-day existence; they’re necessary, esp. in the kind of dense society we’re so actively encouraging in our city. And I feel that it’s the general, giant collective shrug amongst people in Portland now re: civility that’s created the slippery slope we’re all seemingly inexorably on. Be for what you’re for! But also be for basic responsibility and civility! Please! Thank you!

            1. Avatar soren says:

              rachel, i have a no harm, no foul attitude when it comes to active transport. it takes someone intentionally endangering others for me to view a person walking or biking as a jerk. for obvious reasons, my tolerance level is much lower for people driving. i also fully admit to playing devils advocate here. imo, the overton window of “politeness” is defined by the motoring majority and it takes pushback from people like you and me to increase tolerance for minority transport modes.

              1. Avatar rachel b says:

                Sorry so slow to reply, soren–have been offline! I’m with you re: the pushback and understand what you’re saying.

  35. John Liu John Liu says:

    The venting is entertaining, but I’d like to discuss specific tips for cyclists to ride more safely around buses.

    Here is one, to start us off.

    1. When a cyclist comes up behind a bus waiting at a bus stop, and decides to pass the stationary bus on the left, the cyclist should move to the next lane to the left, or at least to the left edge of the curbside lane, long before reaching the bus. In that position, the cyclist is visible when the bus driver looks in his left side mirror. I sometimes see cyclists ride directly behind the bus, completely hidden in the driver’s blind spot, until they are right on the bus’ rear edge, then suddenly swerve left to pass very close to the bus’ left side. Those riders are not visible in the driver’s mirror, and the driver preparing to pull out has no way of knowing the cyclist is about to appear just inches from the bus’ left rear corner.

    1. Avatar Rampant Lion says:

      Just so you understand, we are supposed to “nose in” — it’s a textbook service position. “Under 6″ from the curb to the front door, 18″ from curb to back door. When under 6” is not possible, grater than 6′ (six feet), and as always, control the lane (meaning fully occupy the “safe cushion” around the bus).” We do this because it is safer for you (bikers and motorists) to make a complete lane change before passing a bus.

  36. Avatar Jared Smith says:

    Thanks for providing the discussion. I also drive Trimet. Lots of frustrations as to where the blame belongs. In my world it belongs with the smaller vehicle. If you value your life, you give up the right of way – legal or not, to the Bus. Don’t ride along side of it, don’t run out the back door to grab your bike from the rack. These Buses are not SAFE for traffic. The mirrors and pillars block our vision. Trimet doesn’t care as was proven by the Sandi Day case. They refused to resolve the blind spots and mirrors then and now. Additionally, Trimet has done a massive hiring and throwing newbies to the streets way before they’re ready. They’re scraping the bottom of the barrel so you get what you get. Blind spots, lack of experience, expectations as to who’s in the right- not good.

    Also, thanks to BikePortland for taking the time to read “From the Drivers Side.” I would like to see this guy or a few other Operator cyclists advocate a regular column on this site.

    Lastly, I find it amusing that Alyourpalster, the ex Trimet disgruntled gonzo blogger takes a great informative discussion and tries to turn it around to himself. WOW – is he Narcissist or what?!!

    1. Avatar soren says:

      Great comment, Jared. I hope this blog increases its coverage of public transit.

  37. Avatar mark says:

    Some cities build bike paths around bus stops in order to avoid the whole bus rodeo thing.

    Let’s see the “best biking city” do that.

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