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It’s silly season in Portland’s bike lanes: Please try to be nice about it

Posted by on May 2nd, 2018 at 12:18 pm

North Williams Avenue, May 3rd 2016.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

I received a disturbing text from a reader this morning (trigger warning: language might be upsetting to some readers):

“Got yelled at by a guy on a bike on Better Naito today. He stopped in front of me to yell at me for being selfish. Apparently I was riding too slowly because I was unsure how to cross the lane to turn left onto Oak. Two blocks later I was called a faggot and spit on. It’s chaos out there and commuter race season has begun.”

Sigh. There’s a lot to unpack here.

If you’ve lived in Portland a while you know that as the sun creeps out in spring, everything changes for cycling. Not only is it physically and mentally much more appealing to ride bicycles this time of year compared to the darkness and moisture that pervade previous months on the calendar — but there is also just so much excitement around cycling in general. Pedalpalooza planning is in full swing, it’s National Bike Month, the Bike More Challenge is on many people’s minds. And heck, this year the folks who run Biketown decided to make it free for the entire month!

And these days, with tens of thousands of new Portlanders in town (Hi! Welcome!), there are even more people using bikeways who might not be as comfortable riding and navigating around on two wheels as many of you are.

Please be nice to them!

I know people who actually change the routes they take during this time of year specifically to avoid all the dreaded “newbies” who use the popular bikeways. People wait all year for better weather. And then it gets here and they feel like they still can’t ride in peace because of all the people suddenly pedaling around in front of them. I personally don’t get that. I love the crowds! But hey, different strokes for different folks. I’m fine with that. Just don’t be a jerk about it.

Advertisement

This anti-newbie culture, made so apparent in those insults shared by our reader on his ride into work this morning, is much stronger than you think. It’s gross and I wish it would stop.

This ad for new residences on North Williams — known as Portland’s “Cat Six” corridor for the daily races that break out on its bike lanes — is not helping.

Of course it doesn’t help that our cycling culture in America is draped in the same macho, speed-is-everything-BS that our car culture also suffers from. But I digress.

After texting back to that reader what might motivate someone to be so rude, he surmised. “It’s the elite attitude of this city’s ‘ardent’ bike commuters.” I think there’s some truth to that.

Yesterday on Twitter, our Mayor Ted Wheeler happily shared a photo of himself in City Hall after biking into work. But he made a fashion choice that led @zacconklin to respond with, “Nice try Ted, looks like you wore the wrong shoes for your pedals on this photo-op. If you actually rode your bike more you would realize that.”

Wow. Tough crowd.

Maybe if we’d all just relax a bit and be nicer — you know, if we’d just ride and act the way we always hope and pray (and demand!) that people drive — then maybe our streets be the humane spaces we all want them to be.

Thanks for reading. I look forward to riding with you — no matter how long you’ve been doing it.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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morgan
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morgan

Jonathan–thanks for posting this. It’s a solid reminder that we all can do better, especially when it comes to making Portland a more welcoming city for all types of cyclists.

ktaylor
Guest
ktaylor

No one needs to be a jerk, but there are some safety issues at this time of year related to newbies – or oldbies with bad manners, and sometimes you have to speak up. Speaking up about someone else’s behavior is almost always perceived as being an a-hole in our culture.

Coming down that steep, winding hill in River View Cemetery at 7:30am on Monday, I nearly ran over an 8 year old pedaling around the corner with his dad. He was on the left side of the road hugging the curve, coming straight at me – I wasn’t going full speed, fortunately and was able to stop in time. I told the dad that he needed to be a lot more careful coming around that corner, especially during commute hours, and the dad said something limp and wan about how he’d told the kid to get over but he just didn’t listen. It was clear to me this man did not realize his child could have been injured or killed, and so could I if I had been traveling any faster. I wish I had gotten off my bike and put the fear of god (or at least that hill) into that dad instead of hurrying on because I was late to work. It would have been the responsible thing to do, and it probably would have rattled that guy and made him think I was an a-hole.

billyjo
Guest
billyjo

On Multnomah at 8th there is a crosswalk. It even has flashing lights to stop the traffic. When I have to walk across I don’t worry about the cars, it’s the bike lane you really have to watch. The bikes are part of the traffic that is supposed to stop, but I’ve had numerous times when the bike doesn’t stop and then screams at me. Those people are out there and they’re everywhere.

I'll Show Up
Guest
I'll Show Up

Thank you!

I have stopped riding my bike because of the way other people treat me out there. It sucks. I’ve been a bike commuter for 25 years and this year is when I finally couldn’t deal with it anymore. I’ve done everything I can to keep pace, but my body that would be shamed by these elite racers can’t keep up.

Drivers are being jerks and people on bikes who think they’re on a race track are being aggressive jerks. At least with the car drivers, I can’t hear all of the mean remarks as they pass by. It makes me so sad, but at least I’m getting more reading done on the bus.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Ah yes, another fine post and comments section equating riding fast with being a jerk. Love it.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

I am going to be politically incorrect and blame it on transplants. Back in the late 80’s I traveled a lot and would play a game in Ohare on the way back to Portland. I would not look at the gate number or sign and see if I could figure out which one was the gate for Portland. I nearly always could get this right as the folks bound for Portland ( not many tourists in those days, just locals returning home) would be dressed more casualy ( lots of gortex) and were not crowding the gate to get on like those bound for other cities. In fact the Portland crowd would lounge around only ambling up to get on at the last minute. So this, cuss out people slowing you down, thing has been brought to us in recent years like an invasive species.

soren
Guest
soren

“This anti-newbie culture, made so apparent in those insults shared by our reader on his ride into work this morning, is much stronger than you think. It’s gross and I wish it would stop.”

Having seen this kind of bike rage many times over the years, I’ve gradually developed a pronounced antipathy to fast-year-round-cycling-bros. I now view infrastructure that inconveniences or irritates this Portland stereotype to be a positive (in general). Not coincidentally, this same kind of infrastructure also tends to also be preferred by the “interested but concerned”.

Win-Win!

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

About 6 or 8 years ago, I got hit head-on by another cyclist on the Waterfront path while practically standing still on my bike at the extreme right side of the path; he was all over the path weaving in and out of pedestrians like they were race pylons, and didn’t even stop to apologize, he just kept going leaving me behind bleeding on the path.

Two lessons I learned from this – (1) stay off the Waterfront path during peak season, and (2) always wear full-finger gloves, even in the summer.

And then there are the time-trial idjits on the Springwater…I pretty much don’t ride there anymore either because of this.

Paul Atkinson
Guest
Paul Atkinson

There’s a wonderfully evocative social media post about gatekeeping that I always recall at times like this; it applies to cycling in springtime just as much as to its original topic. I can’t include a photo here of the original post by Matthew Peach, but here’s a transcript with naughty words censored.

LET’S MAKE SOMETHING PERFECTLY CLEAR.
Punk-rock shows are not a f***ing fashion runway. Dressing up in studs and spiking our hair is fun. It’s a lot of fun. We get to joke around and piss off the squares and throw beer-cans and lace up boots. It’s also a great way to recognize people you don’t already know who might have the same taste in music as you. But when that 13 year old kid shows up at the gig with a torn-up pair of Nike’s and a flannel shirt and you give him s**t, you can come answer to me. This kid is just as scared and confused as you are as a grown-ass adult. You were that kid once. You weren’t born with spurs and boots on yer feet. You were nervous at yer first show. That kid yer picking on for his RANCID patch just paid money he scrounged up from couch cushions to see a local band play because it was hard, fast, and loud and he liked that.
Make that kid feel at home. Wrap yer arm around his neck. Swing him around the pit. Throw him up on the stage and stick the mic in his hand and say “here, freshcut. YOU sing this one!”
You were that kid once too.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

This is where my inherent arrogance really makes my life better (rare, indeed). Since I always assume that nearly everyone in the world is relatively clueless, I pretty much just expect poor behavior from all road users at all times. Sadly, my expectations are nearly always met. However, since I expect little, I’m rarely upset by what I get. Joggers randomly pulling a wide 180 on a narrow bike path? Expected that. Person on a bike turning left from a right-side bike lane? No worries, saw it coming. People randomly stopping and blocking the bike lane/road/path? I’m happy to see them do their thing and I see a way around that doesn’t involve them (or I put on my big-girl panties and wait patiently, which isn’t much of a challenge either). That person strolling out from between parked vans with their eyes on their phone? Saw them half a block earlier and knew they were coming.

Now don’t get me started on what I expect from motorized road users.

Al
Guest
Al

Is there any human activity that does not eventually evolve cliques?

I’ve been around long enough to recognize that biking is getting better. Still, it’s not at the level of acceptance that motorcyclist have for different motorcycles but it’s getting there and I for one am enjoying this trend.

That said, I appreciate Jonathan’s voice to push the community in this direction. Thank you.

grrlpup
Guest
grrlpup

I’d like to thank everyone (and so far it’s ~100% for drivers AND cyclists) who’s been nice to me for the last two weeks, my first bike commutes after a gap of about 15 years. I’m on 52nd, Clinton, and the Tilikum, I’m slow for a commuter, and the vibe has been matter-of-fact and gracious out there. I would love for everyone to have this experience and am bummed that they’re not.

Paul H.
Guest
Paul H.

> [H]e surmised. “It’s the elite attitude of this city’s ‘ardent’
> bike commuters.” I think there’s some truth to that.

“Elite attitude” — judgy much?

First, I doubt you have any way of knowing that the rude person is an “‘ardent’ bike commuter.”

Second, most of us year-round commuters make the transition to crowded roads without resorting to rudeness. (Maybe the polite among us aren’t “elite”?)

Third, a more accurate (and kind) assessment is that year-rounders grow accustomed to lonelier roads in the wet months and it can be disconcerting to deal with the sudden excess traffic that appears with warmth and sunshine.

None of this is to excuse rudeness. Politeness is always the best policy, even (especially!) when you’re trying to explain rudeness done to you.

maxadders
Guest
maxadders

First of all, anyone hurling homophobic slurs and spitting on people has mental health issues, full stop. (Welcome to Portland!)

Secondly, let’s remember that many new / fairweather riders are insecure and this causes them to view a lot of perfectly innocent interactions as offensive, mean and specifically targeted at them. I’ve been shouted at for politely ringing my bell or saying “on your left” as I performed a completely safe, routine passing maneuver. The only crime I’m guilty of is being confident in my skills and ability, but to hear them tell it, is something else entirely.

Sigh. There’s two sides to this.

Cpt. Obvus
Guest
Cpt. Obvus

Y’know, sometimes it’s just culture — and sometimes it’s all about safety, which more easily justifies intervention. Yesterday on 52nd southbound, dude takes off hard and fast across Foster while _still under a red light_. After the light turns green and I get myself across Foster, I ride the brakes so as not to ride up his butt or swerve into motor traffic — because he’s coasting at walking speed in the bike lane.

To spell it out: One wonders what the motivation was to risk bootlegging the intersection when hurry is clearly so absent as to obstruct the bike lane a few feet later. Silly season indeed.

Dave
Guest
Dave

It’s the damned dry weather–I call it “solar psychosis.”

Gerik
Guest

Thank you for this post, Jonathan.

tom
Guest
tom

The rules of the road state somewhere that the vehicle in front has the right of way. So act accordingly out there folks.

OrigJF
Guest
OrigJF

Ah, commuter race season! Time to take out ye’old dusty chariot and go prove to everyone I still have it after drinking micro brew and eating pizza everyday for the past 4 months! Pedestrian stop signals do not apply to bikes anyway. At red lights I will proceed to the front of the bike queue to show everyone that just passed me I am still around and make them pass me again! Similarly, I will put it in the biggest chainring on downhills, pass everyone, then make them pass me again on the uphill!

axoplasm
Subscriber

Hey how about this:

The problem isn’t newbies or elitists or MAMILs or slowpokes.

The problem is too many bikes crammed into insufficient infrastructure.

Why are a recreational path (Springwater corridor) and a private road (Riverview Cemetery) CRITICAL transportation links? Why does the most-used bike bridge (the Hawthorne) devote maybe 8′ to nonmotorized traffic each direction?

Let’s quit beating our chests that Everyone Else Should Ride Like Me and use that anger to demand, I dunno, 10x more/better infrastructure for ALL of us.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I’m sorry your texter received such poor treatment this morning. I can’t imagine the mentality of a person who would hurl slurs and spit on people on their way to work. That’s inexcusable in all contexts.
To report something positive, I always get a small thrill when vehicles get outraged on my behalf from being cut-off or nearly run over by other vehicles. It’s happened a few times over the years when a van or truck will pull a sudden hook to grab a parking space. This morning I was kind of expecting it, so I braked in time and managed to catch myself on a parked car. But I took pleasure in the other cars who laid on their horns to chastise the driver. Makes me feel like there are other folks lookin’ out.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

Things I’ve experienced since it became bike season and the bike routes got crowded (ie, the last two weeks):
* Two people heading the wrong direction in high-traffic one-way bike lanes (one with a kid on board the back of his Surly Big Dummy)
* One person coasting hands-free downhill off the Broadway bridge, apparently unworried that he might need to control his bike or use his brakes, because he was holding a cup of coffee
* Four different pairs of people riding side by side in a lane intended to allow safe single-file passing, so they could have a pleasant conversation
* Countless (and I mean it, at least 10+ in a week) people who see a line of other bikes stopped at a red light and choose to pass them on the wrong side because they don’t want to lose their momentum

I’m not interested in yelling at these people or passing them unsafely, because it doesn’t actually help my experience. I just need to get to and from work, I don’t have spare time or energy to argue with people on best practices for bike commuting while we’re both pedaling, and they’re likely to end up only riding a few times anyway.

Still, I’d like to point out that expecting users who share a roadway to have some basic understanding of traffic flow and safety is hardly some sort of “elite attitude”, it’s a basic prerequisite of being an adult living in an urban area. Those ardent commuters getting blamed for making everybody else’s leisurely commute less serene are the ones who are enabling it in the first place, by using the infrastructure enough to justify its existence year-round. They’re treating it as if it IS infrastructure, if you’d rather it not be then I guarantee you’ll have a lot less of it.

SD
Subscriber

Its bike handling skillz season for everyone.
Leave the rage to all of the people trapped inside boxes 🙂

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

Great post Johnathan.

I just wat to add that a lot the road rage we see (car-car/bike-car etc) is just spillover from the palpable sense of loss of control we feel in our personal and social lives.

Be it a president who thinks he’s above the law, inability to collectively do ANYTHING proactive on guns or climate change or healthcare, a completely overwhelmed transportation network, exploding cost of living from “other people” moving to Portland and the very real stress from a society on the verge of breakdown facilitated by technology, we got a lot of ragers.

Also, most people are good and I try to remember all the simple acts of kindness I see every day.

dwk
Guest
dwk

What does it say about a supposed cycling website that it constantly is posting topics bashing “supposedly fast” commuting cyclists?
This whole article is based on what? One persons bad experience and a lot of posts by someone who has never posted before about how awful us cyclists are?
Does the owner of this website think we are mostly awful people?
Is this just clickbait?
Seriously, I ride 6000 miles a year for years. People who ride bikes are the best people I know.
I ride across the Hawthorn 600 times a year. I never see the behavior you highlight.

Rob
Guest
Rob

I like riding my bike in nice weather with other riders.

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

Is it anti newbie or just a low threshold for frustration? Portland is pretty impatient and bikes about as well as it drives (so very badly).

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Hard to know how she felt about it though. She could be telling her friends today that some jerk yelled at her to get out of the way. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Haven’t read all the comments, so I hope I’m not restating. But even if I’m restating, I think it bears restating. If ever there were an appropriate situation to act as an “ambassador”, I think this is it. Drivers, for the most part, will not change how they feel about bicyclists regardless of how “good” we might try to be to “earn” their tolerance. Forget them. So-called cycling “newbies”, however, are obviously willing to give the whole “bike thing” a try and it behooves us to be as welcoming and encouraging as possible to these folks. There are no born experts.

On “fast” riders: This is me, to the extent possible as time goes by and I get older, but my distinct preference is to ride as fast as I can given the current situation. However, I must have the internal conversation with myself to decide what is safe, what will cause others the least anxiety, and how much maintaining my speed is really worth. So far, speed-wise, I haven’t often lost anything I can’t get back in short order. I use a couple of MUPs on my way to/from, and I will ride 30 mph (go ahead, make your comments…) when the way is clear (and I can see that it’s clear), and 3 mph if I come upon pedestrians, especially with dogs or small children. I use my bell and pass with the same amount of room I would expect from a driver. Most of the time, if I am going fast, I’m in the roadway, not even in a bike lane–if one even exists. This is part of my problem with “protected” bikeways; there is no escaping to the roadway if things get slow.

On “frustration”: Yep. I feel it too. When one enjoys traveling at 15-20 mph most places, 5-10 mph can feel excruciating. Again, protected bikeways are not the friend of someone who rides “fast”. BUT, just as I wish drivers would, I have to ask myself how long the reduced speed will really last. Will I be turning out of the crowd soon? Is there an alternate “fast” route? Will I be able to pass soon (safely and with plenty of space)? Until then, I have to enjoy the scenery and listen to the birds.

On “rulebreakers”. I don’t care what rules you break, just don’t do anything dangerous. I’m not in the habit of “calling-out” anyone unless they objectively endanger me or someone in close proximity. If somebody has a close call of their own making, I figure that was lesson enough. If someone makes a driver mad at them by breaking a rule, that’s their business, not mine. Plus, there’s the whole pot/kettle thing; I’ve broken plenty of rules myself.

On fashion/equipment critics: come on, really?

Carrie
Guest
Carrie

Dan A
Can some of the wonder parents here share how you’ve been able to get your young children to follow best cycling practices 100% of the time?

I have not been able to get my kids (who are now teens and ride all over the place regularly) to ride ‘properly’ despite all my exhortations. Especially the ‘keep right’. I really think it’s because they have zero experience driving a car and just don’t inherently get The Rules. I wish I had a helpful hint or trick, but I don’t. I can only join you in the annoying parent camp.

Anna G
Guest
Anna G

to all those who have, or are thinking about giving up biking due to this bad behavior, PLEASE DON’T !! I know things have changed for the worse in this city as far as biking conditions, overcrowding etc. but like anything one can get used to it, in time. Perhaps changing a route, time of day (if possible), will make it better. Take it from me, I’m old (close to 50), chubby, gray haired, brown and female, but have been quietly commuting year round for over 20 yrs in this city, despite many close calls with cars and buzzing from rude cyclists. The benefits will far outweigh the few bad experiences, given time. Don’t let a few jerks stop you from enjoying your hobby or mode of transport. Remember there are way more of us than there are of them, and not every fast rider is rude. Please don’t give up !

Pdxpaul
Guest
Pdxpaul

How about a series of guest posts from the most outspoken of the bunch here?

idlebytes
Guest
idlebytes

I generally like to use my riding time as free exercise time so I pass a lot of people and over the years have used the comments from this site to improve my interactions with those I pass, so I just want to say, thanks for all the insights all! 🙂

One thing I would point out is that some suggestions on here while the commenter might prefer that behavior when being passed I’ve found other people find it confusing or even get angry. For instance I’ve stopped ringing my bell on the Hawthorne because it seems to confuse and anger people more than make getting passed more pleasant for them.

Pedestrians walking to the right often act erratically sometimes moving to the left cause they think I’m ringing my bell to get them to do something. Cyclists in front of me seem confused too when I ring the bell for both of us looking back at me as if I’m clueless for trying to pass them when there’s a pedestrian.

So now I just give the person as much space as possible and slow down a bit depending on how much space there is. At the really tight spots I say on the left/right but most of the time people seem to only get it after I’ve already passed or don’t hear me at all (earphones).

Keep up the great comments and calling people out on their bad behaviors I think if more people felt ashamed for driving/biking selfishly they’d do it less so point it out to your friends and family members when you see it!

PD
Guest
PD

Well if this comment section isn’t a mirror of the diverse attitudes we see on the way to work..

dan
Guest
dan

This thread might be the place to note the increased usage of e-bikes compared to years past…and the behavior some of those riders adopt. I saw one clearly breaking the speed limit and overhauling cars on Lincoln yesterday. Jerks will be jerks regardless of their mode of travel.

axoplasm
Subscriber

the real problem of course is that many people still stubbornly refuse to behave exactly like me

Steven Smith
Guest
Steven Smith

People are people. Some behave unconsciously and/or boorishly and/or rudely. Doesn’t matter if they’re in a car or on a bike…

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

rachel b
There were a lot more. We’re a dying breed. Recommended 1

Yup, I hear that. But even by 2010 when I left, seemed like it was easier to find folks from Portland in Tulsa than in Portland.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

soren
“calling rulebreakers out”i happily break car-centric rules….

This “in your face” approach discourages new cyclists in multiple ways. First off, the people who need to be convinced to ride are driving cars. Few people want to be associated with a group they dislike or perceive to be a nuisance.

Also, when you provoke motorists, some of them play rougher with other cyclists they encounter. People who aren’t used to this kind of thing easily get traumatized by a shouted insult or getting buzzed and quit riding.

Riding year after year is all about coming to terms with what’s out there. Not too many people are willing to be in a daily battle.

Rivelo
Guest

Me, I always welcome the “fair weather riders” and the “newbies.”

Yep, for a couple of magnificent weeks every spring, I’m NOT the slowest cyclist riding up Williams Avenue. And then the “newbies” build up a little stamina….and I am again.

C’est la vie sur le vélo à Portland, Oregon.

alex
Guest
alex

fast cyclist here. and now a brief essay on my riding philosophy:

i endevour move like water. cars/peds/other cyclist i encounter during my ride are objects (each with their own unique properties/vulnerabilities/hazards) to flow around. when encountering areas of back-pressure i do my best to accept the circumstance, modulate speed accordingly, and then negotiate around. my goal is to move thru a route (problem set) rapidly, but in a manner that is both safe to me and other road users (though they might not always perceive it to be so). sometimes i am a dick, i recognize and i work to correct that behaviour. other times i feel justified in upsetting someone who is acting outside the rule set or is oblivious (again as long as it is safe). i find it abhorrent that anyone would verbally insult people when frustrated by their speed or to insult them personally. i am down with everyone riding, however i think people should know there skill level/speed and ride accordingly.

if you are traveling on roads i believe there is a general level of competency and awareness that should be expected. your primary focus when riding (in city traffic/commuting) is to ride (not listen to music, look around, converse with friends). below are my primary thoughts and observations on general etiquette:

-ride a predictable, steady line: if you are all over the place you are dangerous to yourself and others. work to constantly improve you skill on a bike (can you maintain a straight line and look behind you?). traffic is a serious venue and your skill can save your life.

-ride as far to the right as safely possible: this allows faster cyclists to pass safely when possible (especially important on hills/bridges). i am a fast cyclist and i stay to the right as possible so that i do not impeade others.

-signal when possible (sometimes it is not).

-look before you change lanes/make a significant lateral change in position: there may be someone next to you or just behind. this especially applies to greenways where the road can be divided into two/three virtual lanes per direction. turning left from the far right is a dangerous/dick move. look behind you and move as far left as possible as soon as possible.

-when rolling stops observe right of way and yield to another cyclist that has the right way. respect an automobiles right of way (stopping is usually good too for clear communication).

here are some other thoughts that fall more in secondary list than the above:

-if a slower cyclist is riding a predictable line(and after evaluating your riding skill) i will pass you close (if space is tight).

-i usually do not anounce my pass. most people turn into me. though with the burnside bridge situation i will if needed.

-i will shoal and intersection because i am typically faster than most. this is better for everyone.

-there is enough room to pass in lane in the wide green lanes downtown.

-riding 2×2 slowly and blocking others is a dick move. if you are going to ride 2×2 ride tight. i shoudl be able to pass a 2×2 on the greenway with oncoming traffic driving by on the other side.

-burnside bridge westbound is awful. if i see other cyclist ahead on the sidewalk i take the lane.

-burnside bridge eastbound is better but still messed up. ride left, pass middle (like on vancouver/williams). peds walking along the bike side need to move over.

riding fast/assertive can lead to situations where the person is a dick, but so can riding slow and dangerously.

Pat Lowell
Guest
Pat Lowell

So basically, there are two simple rules of road sharing etiquette (and life in general):

1. Get your head out of your A—.

2. Chill the F out.

Takethelane
Guest
Takethelane

Is the Williams 500 back?

I used to love that! I avoid it like the plague now that they reduced the light synchronization speed to about 15 mph from 20-30 mph shortly after removing the passing lane. I am not in the military. I don’t have to hurry up and wait (at the next light) if I don’t want to. I just take a different route. I would rather have had the city add Sharrows to the right lane, than add a bike path, and feel the same way about streets downtown (the lights are synced so slow that all the lanes could just have Sharrows added to them – I can coast down 4th avenue faster than the lights change!).

I agree with El Biciclero and idlebytes.

When passing bikes/peds in congested areas, I use a bell and ding before I am too close and wait for the reaction before passing at a reasonable speed differential. Those with earbuds blaring too loud to hear my bell deserve to get buzzed, usually know it and keep right anyway. I still pass them at a reasonable speed, because, like kids and animals, you never know what they will do, since they are lost in their own little world/not interested in interacting with the world around them.

Takethelane
Guest
Takethelane

Oh! I agree with Pat Lowell too.

I race for fun, and it is no fun in a congested mixed rider level situation. It’s aggression, like kicking the dog when you get home from a particularly rough day at work. I prefer to vent my anger on inanimate objects like my bike, as I call on my frustration and anger to help me pound up long steep hills free of congestion. I have broken a lot of spokes and worn out a lot of drive trains doing this. I love the West Hills of Portland!

Takethelane
Guest
Takethelane

And to kTaylor and Dan A I would say:

Kids do tend to ignore their parents after awhile, and like adults tend to learn best by making mistakes. So, please, yell at the kid when you almost hit them. It will have the biggest impact. And the parent can reinforce it by saying something to the effect of “That’s why you need to listen to me and follow the rules.” If the child asks why the person who almost hit them yelled, explain that they were angry and scared (that they could have hit the child), not that they are some whacko who should be blamed for the whole event (which seems to be the most common response).

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

soren

“You don’t pass people in the door zone, that’s a fantastic way…to kill a pedestrian stepping out into the crosswalk”

This exaggerated antagonism is interesting given that many (if not most) people ride in the door zone on Williams.Where does this antagonism towards your fellow bike commuters originate? Do you, perchance, drive a car (or a bike)?Recommended 0

That’s not true at all, N Williams is a buffered bike lane: https://goo.gl/maps/asRAUQrCxz62 – See the door zone? It’s clearly marked, and a good thing too; people getting out of the passenger side of their car often can’t even check the side view mirror, since it’s usually aimed for the driver’s benefit. I do see people hug the door zone occasionally, generally because they’re scared of the traffic lane, but it’s a dangerous habit to get into.

I’m not sure where you’re reading exaggerated antagonism into this, staying out of the door zone is biking in the city 101. In fact I don’t even know what you’re arguing for, are you suggesting that people should be spending more time in the door zone?

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

I’ve been bike commuting here for about the last 6-7 years and I’m wondering if this is the year that I stop.

I’m not a fast rider, but I’m not the slowest either, and I’m always happy to be safely passed. I think many “fast” riders who do a lot of passing underestimate how stressful it is to be passed closely, especially on a MUP. Whether it’s the Hawthorne bridge, the esplanade, the steel bridge, if I’m leaving room for pedestrians, and not constantly swerving in and out of the ped-lane, there often just isn’t room to pass safely around me too. Bike + Bike + Peds is more than these paths accommodate side by side, aside from perhaps wider parts of the esplanade.

I understand it’s frustrating to go slower than you’d like. I feel the same way behind a very slow cyclist, but with the bridges in particular they are NOT THAT LONG. Chill. This is a commute, not a race, and it’s not your personal fitness training track. Even a very slow rider will be across in a very few minutes. In order to pass other cyclists on an MUP, you are expecting/demanding that they ride in the pedestrian lane and continually swerve in-and-out. Dangerous for peds and cyclists.

Yesterday on the steel bridge was one of my worst cycling moments in recent memory. I’m going to give it the rest of bike-challenge month and see if maybe I’m especially stressed by learning a new commute after moving, but it’s just not fun anymore.

I can’t convince anyone around me to prioritize safety and the comfort of other road users over their desire to go at a given pace. I’m not aggressive, and don’t often yell unless someone passes me on the right (or non-traffic side). I think I might just give up cycling other than weekends and take the bus instead.

I wish there were room for cyclists like me to commute without feeling like we’re being put in a race we didn’t sign up for. There are more of us out there, and instead of giving each other a little grace and a little space, many are just getting more aggressive and regarding anyone slower as an obstacle.

I’m so bummed, but it’s just not worth it anymore.

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

That’s a pretty quick judgment based on a child riding his bike on the wrong side of a 15mph ‘road’.

What’s the size or speed limit of the roadway have to do with anything? Riding on the right except to pass is something that people teach their kids even on Tulsa’s cycleways. It’s a good habit to get into and gets them into the practice for if and when they start driving. The Dutch, which Portland was happy to try to emulate in the 90s, do this, too.

K Taylor
Guest
K Taylor

“Riverview Cemetery is also not a path, it’s road, and people drive cars and trucks on it, some carelesssly. For all that’s good and holy, think of the child getting hit by a car if the whole cyclist thing is just too hard to grapple with.” This is well said, rachel b.

I’m sorry, Alex, but I too disagree that Riverview is a kid-friendly venue, for the reasons rachel mentions. An increased presence of families with little kids and dog walkers (more and more frequently seen) in the cemetery are both bad developments imo, since it is, when all’s said and done, a cemetery, owned by people who are already frustrated with what they perceive as people’s growing tendency to use it like a park.

Welsh Pete
Guest
Welsh Pete

ktaylor
Please see idlebyte’s comment below – there’s a speed limit in the cemetery and I was traveling below it. I was not traveling too fast to stop, but I was worried others would be, and I didn’t want that kid to be allowed to take the same risk again. I think it’s fair to say no one expects to see a child on that route at 7:30 in the morning, and certainly not riding directly into an oncoming lane. A car or maintenance vehicle could have hit him too. This was a clear-cut case of inadequate parenting and needed to be called out.Recommended 19

And careless cycling by yourself. As a responsible road user you need to be prepared for situations like this.