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Cool it on the Springwater

Subscriber Post by Alex Reedin on May 20th, 2016 at 9:27 am

I’m witnessing problems on the Springwater that have nothing to do with people who are houseless. As more and more people are using the path this spring as the weather gets nicer, I’m seeing a good bit of rude and unsafe behavior on the Sellwood-OMSI section. As someone who sometimes bikes fast myself, I’m sad to say that the majority of the rudeness I see is coming from my fellow fast cyclists.

As an example – this morning I saw two gentlemen in roadie garb and bikes going about 21 mph on the Sellwood-OMSI section of the Springwater. On the very narrowest section of the path (just south of where the path goes under the Ross Island Bridge), they passed a family with two kids on bikes. The gentlemen in roadie garb didn’t even go single-file to pass this family despite the path being quite narrow at this point. The gentleman on the right passed the kids extremely close and at high speed. The family seemed scared.

This type of behavior is not OK. If you’re behaving rudely on a path, no matter on a bike or walking or whatever speed, you really need to stop. If you’re behaving rudely at 21mph, that presents much more of a risk to other path users than someone behaving rudely at 12mph or 3mph. People who go fast on bikes need to behave more cautiously and politely than people who go slowly because of this. If you’re a fitness type, think of the slowing down and speeding up as adding some sprints to your workout 🙂

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Paul Atkinson
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Paul Atkinson

This isn’t controversial, right? I mean, I know there are thoughtless people out there — otherwise, no reason to write — but we’re all clear that’s not polite behavior and that politeness is of value…right?

Champs
Guest
Champs

Gentlemen in roadie garb and bikes frightening small children.
Hipsters in skinny jeans on fixies shoaling at traffic lights.
Men with baggy shorts and Camelbaks spooking horses.
Shabbily dressed homeless people running red lights.

I believe in courtesy, but what do the riders’ clothes have to do with anything? Behaviors know no uniform.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Yeah, that wasn’t necessary to include. There is a correlation between garb and speed but there are certainly plenty of people in non-roadie clothes acting rudely towards others on the Springwater at high speed.

Adam
Subscriber

Freds. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Champs
Guest
Champs

Proving the point of my comment. Yep, it’s just them!

MaxD
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MaxD

Totally agree! Almost all of my riding is commuting (as fast as possible) or recreational (even faster!). However, I am appalled that some people can’t seem to reign it in around kids, dogs, slower bikes, etc. The Springwater is simultaneously touted as a park and a transportation corridor, but if it cannot effectively be both! They really need to design these MUP’s much wider and with separate pedestrian space. My wife and friend tried to walk a piece of it years ago with a friend and our kids (both toddlers at the time) and it was a stressful shitshow because of the highspeed bike riders refusing to slow, move over or give warning. I try to be as courteous as possible, but I get mixed reactions to announcing my presence on a bike via bell or “on your left”- some people appreciate and even say thanks, others give a glare or worse. Another indication of how poorly people on bikes are behaving city-wide is pedestrians waiting to cross. I stop for peds most of the time, but over the last couple of months I have had multiple encounters of people not wanting to walk in front of me even though I am slowing, waving at them, saying, go ahead, and finally coming to a full stop, foot down.

Thanks for writing this!

JeffS
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JeffS

It often seems to be the oblivious that complain the most about being passed. We don’t signal passes on any other vehicle. I don’t know how this ever made it out of the single track world.

I’m more considerate than most. I don’t close pass or terrorize kids. But, I’m not going to signal a pass. There are solutions for the easily frightened that don’t put the burden on everyone else.

Eric Leifsdad
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Eric Leifsdad

I ride with a mirror so I can warn my kid of passing freds and try to keep my kid to the right of me. I also say “ding ding” while they’re passing.

Freds gonna fred, stroller moms gonna stroller mom, but the thing we could actually change is this mislabeling of a recreational path as a transportation corridor. It’s a sidewalk. An audible warning and due care is required (headlights are not.)

Now, perhaps these two were on the way to an important meeting and were actually dressed in business lycra. Let’s imagine a high demand for non-fredly usages of the path and a 25 or 30mph design speed (allowing for 8-12mph travel as well — you need space and visibility.) Many people want to get somewhere, maybe in a velomobile. If we don’t even have room for freds because all we have is a neglected sidewalk, the velomobile is where? (Imagine 3/4 of the cars on the freeway swapped for an ELF. Now, imagine all of those ELFs on the springwater and tilikum/hawthorne — time to convert some auto traffic lanes with some jersey barriers on the major highways, maybe carpool/bike/velo/NEV only if 20 is plenty.) Chicken or egg, bikeway or bikes?

Captain Karma
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Captain Karma

Bells should be required to be installed and used.

Bradwagon
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Bradwagon

About half the time I suddenly announce my passing someone they get startled and may even make the passing more dangerous and stressful. When I have room to get by them and let my freewheel spin for a few moments as I approach I get by people smoothly without saying a thing nearly 100% of the time.

Moleskin
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Moleskin

Yes, I wonder about this. Letting people know you are coming by ringing your bell often means they look over their shoulders and start changing direction, especially children and people who perhaps don’t use the path so much and aren’t used to the general flow of things, so there’s an argument for not ringing then proceeding politely and safely past. A couple of times though I’ve been surprised by runners reaching their invisible turning point and making a sudden u-turn at precisely the wrong moment with no warning so right now I’m experimenting with giving a good clear ding from 100 yds or so back to make it less startling and give people a bit more time to do whatever before I arrive (politely and safely etc) at the scene.

Runners are often listening to music though to no amount of dinging is going to solve that. Big parpy bike horn perhaps?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Sure, right after we require people to unplug their ears.

Dwk
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Dwk

Do you honk every time you pass in a car?
Sheesh…….

Mark Smith
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Mark Smith

Yep

Steve B.
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Steve B.

Just witnessed a collision between two people on bikes on the Eastbank where one rider aggressively overtook someone who was in the middle of turning left onto the curly ramp that leads to the Morrison bridge. Easily preventable by slowing down and waiting for a safe moment to pass. Be kind to each other out there.

chris
Guest
chris

Can someone explain “freds”?

I do have to say that %100 of my unpleasant encounters with rude people on bikes were men over 30 in spandex/lycra/whatever it is called. Some speeding turd came within inches of running down my mom by OMSI as she was trying to take a picture of me (like moms like to do) and then he swore at her. Several times I’ve nearly been t-boned by a guy running a 4 way stop at full speed after i have lawfully come to a stop and continued on. I could go on, but I’m sure we have all had these experiences…

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

That’s an interesting anecdote. I ride in lycra and 100% of my unpleasant encounters with other cyclists have been with people not wearing lycra. Headphones in and unable to hear my audible warning, nearly hitting me from behind while passing on the right, ignoring a 4-way stop and my right of way, riding the wrong way down the street directly towards me, throwing trash into the Willamette from the top of the Steel bridge. What’s your point?

Robert Burchett
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Robert Burchett

Ah. A certain type of user is most likely to have encounters with users operating in a completely different manner, remember the negative encounters, and generalize? Not a comment about Dan in particular, more a summary of the whole discussion. People with dogs on some kind of leash can usually get along with other people whose dogs are on a leash. Etc.

chris
Guest
chris

what’s my point? how about don’t be a dick? maybe the spandex crowd is nice to you because you are wearing their uniform? one time i was waiting at 53rd to turn left on Lincoln with 1 foot on the ground and neon yellow spandex guy glares over at me and yells “slow down mother fu$%er”, when i wasn’t even moving? what’s up with that?

El Biciclero
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El Biciclero

Fred, here (I guess). I ride my 13 miles to work in “roadie garb” (except for my regular old running shoes) on my cyclocross “racing” bike (which has never seen a single race) besmirched with fenders and rack and two giant panniers.

I would bet that those “roadies” who go barreling past families with children at a “high rate of speed” likely just don’t have children of their own. I traverse a few sections of MUP or “trail” on my commute, and any time I see anybody else on the narrow sections I use, I slow down. If I see small children anywhere ahead of me, I slow WAY down. I have small children of my own, and I know how unpredictable they can be, how easily they could be seriously injured, and how much their parents would want to rip my arms off if I did injure their kid. I know that if I want to ride fast, I have to ride where fast things go. If I want to ride in the absence of fast things, then I, too, must be prepared to slow down. A lot.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Yup.

Spiffy
Subscriber

I scare people when I pass them while I’m cycling, and they’re also cycling… I’m going 12 mph… I scare people when I pass them while we’re both walking… I’m going 4 mph… mode and speed don’t matter, people just get spooked…

there’s really not a lot I can do to not scare them… you need to realize that when you’re out in public that people will appear instantly to your side… yes, sometimes you’ll be startled… you mostly get used to it…

until they put a speed limit sign on the path then people will continue to ride fast… there are more people using the same space so encounters will get closer… eventually those fast riders will either be forced to slow down due to traffic or they’ll find a faster road… path users learn to avoid each other…

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I was doing around 30mph down the Hwy 26 MUP a couple of weeks ago with nobody around when suddenly a woman passed me and it totally freaked me out. I’m honestly not used to being passed on my commute because it happens so rarely. Not her fault though….you should always expect that people will pass you, and walk/ride accordingly.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

There’s spooking someone without a real risk of harm, and then there’s passing a small, vulnerable person you have reason to believe could be wobbly closely at 21mph. This was the latter.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Sure, and I agree that it’s totally uncalled for.

I ride almost exclusively in roadie garb, but I pass pedestrians slowly and courteously. I don’t think the clothing of the rider needs to be pointed out, unless you have a bone to pick with what people choose to ride in.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

I covered that above – but yeah, I didn’t need to include that in my article, sorry. I do have the anecdotal experience that a bare majority of the people riding both unsafely and fast on the Springwater are wearing roadie garb (just as a bare majority of the people riding fast on the Springwater are).

I wasn’t trying to imply that people wearing roadie garb are disproportionately discourteous; it was actually aimed at people like some of my roadie friends who claim that people who road-ride are *more* courteous than other people who bike. In my experience, all the biker “tribes” are about the same in discourtesy (e.g. these gentlemen clearly road-ride regularly, given that they were riding that fast together and carrying on an unlabored conversation). Roadies may have especially good bike-handling skills (another claim of my roadie friends) but that doesn’t help you if a kid turns into your path and there’s nowhere for you to go.

But yes, given that I didn’t specify that I was trying to illustrate that all the biker tribes are equally discourteous rather than single out roadies as being especially bad, I shouldn’t have included that detail about what these gentlemen were wearing.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Oops, sorry, I glazed over your apology above! Thanks Alex.

Bradwagon
Guest
Bradwagon

Regarding spooking people… I will never understand people who walk / run with a dog on somewhat long leash wearing headphones who get startled or who have to suddenly react to me passing them or alerting them that I am wanting to pass them. What did you expect on a public trail?

Kind of the same for people who grab there kids or dogs as if I am some runaway train. Believe me… I don’t want to run into your kid just as much as you don’t want me too. My bike has brakes, I will slow down to avoid hitting them and even stop as I have before until I can get by. Your kid / dog is just a kid / dog, they do unpredictable things, do you think I will get angry at you for their lower abilities? No need to freak out at the sight of someone else going faster than you.

lop
Guest
lop

>until they put a speed limit sign on the path then people will continue to ride fast

If they put a speed limit sign on the path many people who ride fast now will ignore it and continue to ride fast.

lop
Guest
lop

>do you think I will get angry at you for their lower abilities?

Some people do.

lop
Guest
lop

That was meant for Bradwagon

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I ride that MUP sometimes, usually in full roadie kit.

You absolutely must slow down when passing pedestrians or slower cyclists or little kids. How much you need to slow, is a judgment call. A 20+ mph pass of a little kid riding <10 mph is too fast, and that's not a judgment call.

You do not need to signal passes. This is because signaling often increases the risk. I don't know why some people react to a bell or spoken warning by suddenly lurching in the direction of the sound, but they do. It is safer to slip smoothly by.

If you simply must ride 20+ mph without tolerating any interruption, then ride on the road. The cars will be happy to race with you.

Mark Smith
Guest
Mark Smith

Try the orp bell. It works well.