Many Portlanders who use our streets outside the relative safety of a steel reinforced cocoon are growing impatient with the timid designs coming out of our transportation agencies.
Two posts last week — showing latest plans for Metro’s SW Corridor light rail project and PBOT’s Outer Division project — brought out an unusually high number of critical comments from some of our smartest and most engaged readers (and importantly, ones who don’t usually express such disdain).
I highly recommend reading the comments on both of those posts if you want to understand the widespread frustration in the community about the lack of willingness to constrain auto use in order to make cycling and other modes a more viable option.
One comment in particular stood out to me. It was written by reader “Kittens” in response to learning about the City of Portland’s latest designs for the Outer Division project:
“I honestly can’t imagine that the elite planners of this naive design have spent much time in East County beyond the obligatory focus groups and minority outreach sessions. They fail to grasp the basic understanding of what is going on out on outer division st. The sad truth is of the matter is that people are driving like jerks on purpose, not by accident or that they didn’t know the rules of the road or that they didn’t have enough lights or paint.
What we are talking about here is a willful disregard for the safe operation of automobiles, which, though increasingly common throughout all quarters of our city, is most prevalent in the wide open spaces outside the core.
We are living in a new age, one where the automobile, once a symbol of freedom and independence has become a weaponized phallus engorged with rage, a mobile terrorism device and menace to life beyond itself.
Bring on the Jersey barriers, tire teeth and retractable bollards protecting bike boulevards, impervious to lift kits, loud pipes and ragers with relationship issues.”
This comment struck a chord with me because I think it accurately identifies a major problem in Portland: We are not doing enough to defend our streets against the scourge of dangerous drivers.
While PBOT and TriMet and other agencies aim to “balance the needs of all road users,” the historical imbalance continues. Our system is so tipped in favor of driving that the time for “balance” is long gone. Unless we want drivers and their cars to rule our city, it’s time to tip the scale the other direction. We must do more to curtail the amount of driving people do — and the recklessness they’re able to do it with.
Thanks for the comment Kittens. Your prize is a free loaf of bread compliments of our friends at Grand Central Bakery.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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Yes, lets put an end to the scourge of Motordom.
If only that see and be seen poster had taken its own advice and worn a blinky light that car would never have been damaged like this.
It was probably texting while leaping out from between two cars.
The poster is dressed in see-through material. It knew what it was getting into.
While driving in stop and go traffic on 205 last week, I followed a woman in a Prius that got out of her car 3 times to do something in the back seat. So doing stupid shit in a vehicle is not exclusive to the the lift kits, loud pipes and ragers with relationship issues.
Certainly ignorance knows no bounds. I see it in all types. It just seems particularly menacing when you have purposely chosen to buy a vehicle or outfit it in such a way as to intimidate others e.g: trucks with lift kits and light bars.
“Bring on the Jersey barriers, tire teeth and retractable bollards protecting bike boulevards, impervious to lift kits, loud pipes and ragers with relationship issues.”
In other words, get all the bikes off the roads. Sounds like a message both the bike haters and advocates can get behind.
Speak for yourself. I’d happily ride in protected bike lanes all day long, even if it meant having to slow down a little. And since you like car lanes so much, you’re welcome to continue riding in them, where people like me won’t slow you down.
Funny how protected bikeways could be big enough for everyone with plenty of room for passing if we didn’t keep a couple of spare lanes for cars on every street.
no one is going to stop you from riding in traffic, kyle. moreover, in a culture where almost everyone else rides on bike infrastructure the shock value of someone weaving in, around, and in between slower moving motorvehicles often produces a “moses parting the sea” kind of behavior. riding messenger-style through rush hour traffic in cph was one of the most amusing things i’ve ever experienced on a bike.
Did I see you crossing Broadway on 6th about 5:30 yesterday? The person I saw was a guy in all black including a thin black skullcap (no helmet) on a road bike, reasonably fit, probably in his upper 40’s or lower 50s, around 6 foot tall, 170lbs.
This guy entered the intersection while the light was still red but traffic was such that it was not risky. As is often the case there, cars on Broadway were blocking the intersection. Displeased, he flipped a bird while riding in the middle of the auto lane.
I would have introduced myself, but this guy looked grumpy and turned off to the left shortly after crossing the bridge. If it wasn’t you, it was a doppleganger for the image you cultivate here.
If it was you, I can tell you that the reason you get the parting of the sea factor is not because you were on a bike but because you’re a big guy and put a very angry vibe out there that many people will find intimidating or at least want to avoid. It’s not a good thing.
The reason I advocate riding on streets is that the more people do it, the easier it becomes for everyone else. It is not possible and never will be to get to all sorts of places on bike infrastructure. If people only ride separated, they’ll find they can only do it in a tiny number of places relegating cycling to a fringe activity.
I supposedly live in a cycling city and the number of cyclists I see on otherwise busy streets outside a few areas is absolutely pathetic. An amazing percentage of bike advocates don’t think bikes belong on the streets and are scared of traffic. They think that speed is irrelevant when most people have many miles to cover and have to go multiple destinations. They tell people to use bicycles while simultaneously declaring that the paths these people need to take are unrideable.
That recipe can only fail.
that was me!
i entered the intersection just as the light had turned green (i have it timed well) and flipped off the 5-6 vehicles that had run the red and piled into the middle of the intersection blocking the buses trying to negotiate the green light onto 6th. as you know well (because we have discussed this in the comments on bike portland), this happens pretty much every light cycle at this intersection during rush hour. it’s a terrific example of the difference between the scofflaw behavior of vulnerable traffic and that of caged anonymous drivers. when i roll a stop or treat a red light as a yield, i inconvenience and endanger no one. when a group of antisocial motorists block a major city intersection during rush hour they cause the many dozens of people buses needless delay, they intimidate the pedestrians and riders who want to cross on green, and they inconvenience the several drivers who might have made it through that light cycle.
i find it strange that you would, apparently, defend people who are causing a bus load of commuters unnecessary delay and intimidating vulnerable traffic. isn’t this the kind of rude behavior you often decry?
and as you noted, this antisocial behavior doees not inconvenience me in the least but it most definitely inconveniences and intimidates others. in fact, i was not personally angry at all. i *ENJOY* communicating my displeasure over this kind of unsafe and antisocial behavior. occasionally, i even stop in the middle of the intersection and have conversations with “blockers” but i was in a bit of hurry yesterday because i was on my way to the “scofflaws for safety ride”.
I agree… there is too much aggressive, intimidating, antisocial behavior out there. I’m glad you were willing to intervene.
“See and be seen.” As if. So mad.
Dealing with modern motorists is like running a zoo with large predators in it. You can put all the animals together in one big pen, then let the guests run around with them and hope not too many get eaten. ( this is the system we have now on the roads). Or we can put the guests on little catwalks over the big pen, and watch the predators and other animals fight with ( and kill) each other. ( this is the system of protected bikeways) Or we can put the predators and other animals in their own cages and let the guests have the free run of the rest of the property and look in on the predators with wonderment and fear. That is my dream for the future of transportation, and the one that modern motorists seem to deserve.
Forty years ago, my commute to college took me past the Hayward BART station. It had a cage with an old trolley car in it and some sort of information sign. I’ve always hoped to live long enough to see the day when we have such displays for cars.
This madness cannot go on forever, but unless we get a lot smarter it will certainly go on for quite a while yet.
Having the animals unnaturally segregated in cages for the amusement of guests? Sounds awesome.
There is also the aquarium model where different kinds of fish of different sizes swim together. Certain combinations need to be avoided, but small fish can swim safely with sharks if it’s done properly. Here’s a place I was at recently that demonstrates the concept in an nonintuitive way https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XswrSVyo-H0
Happily, virtually all of the practitioners of a popular form of cycling known as “road cycling” have figured this out.
“We are living in a new age, one where the automobile, once a symbol of freedom and independence has become a weaponized phallus engorged with rage…”
Comment of the week? This deserves a Pulitzer.
It kind of leaves the ladies out, though.
Hawthorne, again?! Oh that’s right, this Vision Zero stuff is just lip service from the city. A kid
dies in a crosswalk on Hawthorne and the city still won’t force drivers to slow down.
Kid is killed on Hawthorn and driver who has already fled once is allowed out in n bail only to return to home country and will never face prosecution. Why is every piece of this tragedy predictable from the beginning?
A lot of sad truth in that comment. We’re not doing enough to FORCE drivers to slow down and be safe. We’ve been asking them nicely for 100 years and it’s not working. Why are will still simply asking?
Is it so hard to understand that you can’t trust a driver to go straight for more than 200′ at a time without having to stop or turn slightly? When we redesign these roads we need to build immobile infrastructure that forces drivers to go slow. This means chicane style roads where they need to follow a path and not just go straight on auto-pilot with the gas pedal mashed down. This means more traffic lights, and timing of existing ones for 5 MPH below the speed limit.
This means that when I press the button to request a walk signal that I won’t have to wait 2 minutes before I can cross. This means making drivers wait for all other modes.
Drivers are usually sitting comfortably in a climate controlled mobile parlor and can easily handle waiting for long periods.
Also, great to see the Comment of the Week column again.
“Jurassic Juice – Falling Kingdom”. It’s a jungle (prowled by hyper-aggressive bellowing beasts) out there for sure. Their extinction is the only true safeguard.
Hate to burst your bubble, but PBOT/City Council won’t do anything significant to take care of this issue. Taxpayers/voters are lazy and greedy and they enjoy driving way too much.
But are they enjoying the driving? For something they enjoy they sure do complain a lot about it.
If you think that’s bad, you should hear the people who think everyone should be cycling.
From what I’ve been able to glean, cycling totally sucks and it’s super dangerous, but it’s the best way to get around.
Amazing how much hyperbole can fit into such a short comment.
Comment of the Decade!
Okay, that’s even more hyperbole per word than Kyle’s post. You win.
I have to agree here. Nobody is going to be significantly successful in reducing motor vehicle usage in Portland by making it difficult to drive. More people use motor vehicles (cars) than any other single means of commuting. Why is that? Have there been any credible surveys that capture the responses of thousands of people? As new motor vehicles are introduced and their mode of power moves away from an internal combustion engine, we may even see more people using these motor vehicles. I think that the bike community is going about this all wrong by waging a war against cars with this anti-car rhetoric. Maybe target bad drivers? I mean come on, look how easy it is to get a driver’s license. I see people I consider too dumb or slow thinking to drive, driving cars. I have seen no talk about raising the bar on getting a license? Does anyone think the easy-ass license test allows too many people to get licenses who shouldn’t (Due to their lack of skill?) Stop the problem before it can start?? As long as the bike community keeps talking about making driving hard and taking away lanes etc., there will continue to be resistance due to so many people who drive motor vehicles being pissed off. Maybe accepting the fact that motor vehicles are here to say and learning to work with them is a better approach instead of wasting effort in attempt to eliminate. If you were trying to alter an asterioid’s course, would you get in front of it and push opposite its direction? Or would you push from behind to put it on a different vector?
“Maybe accepting the fact that motor vehicles are here to say and learning to work with them”
Nobody on this site thinks that motor vehicles will ever go away. That’s not what we’re trying to do here.
We’re trying to make it safe for the general population. This means taming motor vehicles, not getting rid of them. This means making them slow and limited. This gives opportunities to create better transit and bicycle facilities within those safer environments.
Making it harder to get a license? Since when do you need a license to get in a car, turn the key, shift the gear lever, and press the gas pedal? You don’t.
What we can do is make it safer for ALL people on the road; not just licensed drivers, not just cyclists, but everybody. This means that motor vehicles have to go slower and all other modes need to go faster.
That’s the end game.
True, however, I do not see how the roads will ever be safer when a bunch of motor vehicle users are pissed off because countermeasures are implemented that make driving more difficult which usually results in anger, (not sadness) and the anti-car rhetoric I hear around here.
You must be new.
Yes, you are correct. Did not start reading content on this site until 2015.
Thanks for highlighting my comment, JM.
As someone who drives professionally for TriMet, often east of 82nd, I see daily the sad and negligent mismatch between the hopes and aspirations of city planners and reality. It just feels lawless in some parts. Just a couple days ago I was hit and run in my personal car by a rager who was annoyed that I waited for a ped to cross the driveway I was turning into. He was so close to my bumper that when he cranked his wheel angrily to pass me he swiped my bumper before flooring it one block to be caught by traffic.
It is my long held belief that our roads are one of the last few public spaces we share and the way we act here are indicative of broader societal problems of alienation and powerlessness. Fix those and you fix the weaponization of automobiles problems. Until then, no more wands.
I don’t know the rules on winning “Comment of the Week” twice, but seems like you are en route to 90s Bulls-esque dynasty.
As a society we have been conditioned to be very impatient. Impatience frequently leads to irrational anger.
“Bring on the Jersey barriers, tire teeth and retractable bollards protecting bike boulevards, impervious to lift kits, loud pipes and ragers with relationship issues.”
I’ve long thought that the plastic bollards that the city uses to “protect” bike lanes are inadequate, if perhaps better than nothing. I’d feel much more comfortable riding in protected bike lanes such as on the NE 20th Ave. viaduct over I-84 if they replaced the plastic wands with something out of the Road Warrior. I’m sure that participants in the Ben Hurt Chariot Wars would be willing to do it for beer if the city gave them access to a junk yard or let them strip parts from the many, many abandoned cars on our streets.
retractable bollards ≠ plastic bollards
I just saw a pile of them laying in the median next to “Better Naito” 🙁
Yeah, those plastic wands don’t protect anybody. The only protected bike lanes in Portland are the ones by the Tillicum Bridge that are more like a MUP.
oh my a lot has changed in the last few years with the amount of cars and bad driving habits these days. 20 is plenty and most area’s but still see some ppl fighting against the force and well driving in the middle of the lane in a neighborhood is wreck less if you ask me along with coming at me as to say get out of the way :/
City data indicates traffic volumes decreased after the recession began and have just recently returned to the pre-recession trajectory.
The reason we still have these problems is because they are extraordinarily hard and expensive to fix in a systematic way, and every solution comes with very difficult tradeoffs.
What we need is something that fundamentally changes the game, and that is why I see so much promise in robot cars. Everything else is just nibbling at the edges, or is wildly impractical.
“very difficult tradeoffs”
Well, that depends on your perspective, priorities.
It isn’t difficult if you listen to Penalosa or Maus or Durning. The difficulty is not technical or economic but political, which is just a way of saying that the bureaucrats in charge are unwilling to challenge the status quo which is Car head.
The difficulties are technical, economic, AND political. The tradeoffs are real. Maybe not to you, but to most everyone else.
It’s easy to blame our problems on nameless “bureaucrats”, but they generally follow their political marching orders, which come from the people we elect.
The motor vehicles already changed the game.
It’s time to simply call off the game and start a new one, without letting motor vehicles make the rules.
Once you do that then all the other issues will fix themselves and we’ll have a society where we don’t need so many motor vehicles.
Without motor vehicles defining the rules for every aspect of our lives we’ll be able to focus on people and their actual needs. We’ll be able to start building the future instead of living in the past with this forced burden upon us.
How would we “call off the game” in a democratic society where most people see driving as the standard way to get around?
The problem is that when you bike long enough, I have been bicycle commuting for over 25 years, you will eventually meet the rager that makes YOU their lightning rod, wrong time & wrong place type of situation. It then literally becomes a life or death situation because of the disparity between motorized vehicles and bicycles.
I had objects thrown at me, been run off the road, driver once slowed down to yell at me for something that felt like several minutes as I rode up a hill deep in a bike lane and out of the way of traffic and been tailgated and honked at for taking the lane even when I’m EXCEEDING the posted speed limit on enough occasions that I’ve lost track of the number of times.
I’m not writing these things to discourage people from commuting or riding in general. I’m still doing it. I’m writing this to underscore the fact that there is very little recourse cyclists have to hold those accountable. In my situation where I was run off the road and sustained injury, my friends eventually convinced me to file a police report later that day. The police acted like it was a bother and told me that their actions ended with the police report. The officer even offered me the “helpful” advice “to find the truck and key it” if I really felt that strongly about it. This after I informed him that it was a business truck and the driver was likely not the owner of the vehicle. You literally can’t make this stuff up. I was in no position to lawyer up over what amounted to one person’s word against another at the time.
Short of every cyclist buying one of these light kits with cameras in them and then lawyering up at every infraction, I don’t see how this is going to change. Is there even any way to track and legally pursue aggressive drivers by their plates? Are any agencies other than disinterested district attorneys pursuing these drivers? I’m not aware of any cycling organizations taking this issue up more than Bike Portland has and I don’t see any marketing style campaign to win over driver hearts and minds.
Just for the sake of argument, using your interaction with the police as an example, how would you have wanted the situation handled?
It wasn’t my idea to file the police report because it pretty much went down as I expected but I gave in to peer pressure. However, it seems to me that the police should have at least interviewed someone at the business who would have known who drove that truck that day and then proceeded to interview the driver and occupant of the truck at the time of the incident and issued a citation if they found my report of the event credible.
How should the police handle a situation where a driver intentionally forces a cyclist off the road with their vehicle to the point where the cyclist crashes? How should a cyclist handle that if it’s a hit and run?
Ok, so let’s assume they are able to track down the driver. Let’s further assume the driver denies everything, says she doesn’t know what the police are talking about. What next?
I’m not sure where you are going with this. I already wrote, “my friends eventually convinced me to file a police report” and, “It wasn’t my idea to file the police report because it pretty much went down as I expected”. I think I’m in agreement with you but you want to disagree with me for some reason? I’m confused.
I think the more constructive discussion would be to attempt to answer how society should handle driver on cyclist violence through vehicular assault both in law enforcement terms and as part of education / outreach that would be effective.
Where I am going is this: I think the police response, while highly frustrating, is also rational. I don’t think there’s anything they can do in the situation, and they know it. I think you agree with this, but I’m trying to clarify (partly for myself) that the problem is not a police problem. As in other areas of life, bullies often get away with being jerks.
However, if the victim was not a cyclist but a driver and the weapon was not a truck but a handgun and the level of injury was the same, then do you think the police response would have been the same or different?
I happen to hear from a colleague whose van was shot at by someone from a passing car that his experience with reporting it to the police was quite different than mine. While they had absolutely zero leads in his incident, they treated the matter seriously, actually sent patrols to investigate the scene and then followed up with him several days later about it. Nobody was injured in his case. His van sustained a bullet hole.
I know that these are just two anecdotes from different times and different states but I think they’re actually quite exemplar of how cyclists are treated differently.
So again, how should society handle driver on cyclist violence through vehicular assault both in law enforcement terms and as part of education / outreach that would be effective? If police are approached about this now, then how would they answer that question?
Different, maybe. But that is a radically different set of circumstances.
Brandishing a handgun (never mind firing it) is a threat on a much higher level than bradishing a car. There can be evidence, too. If you say a person pointed a gun at you, and they have a similar gun, that’s evidence right there, because how would you have known they had a weapon if they didn’t pull it out? You can’t say the same for a car. If they fired the guy, there would be more evidence yet.
Further, running you off the road is completely deniable — even if you could establish (somehow) that it happened, it is easy for them to claim you mistook their intention, or it was accidental. With a gun, not so much.
From your point of view, being threatened with a car or a gun may be the same thing. From a police perspective (i.e. what can they do about it), they may be very different.
I guess I would ask what would happen if you had presented video evidence that the driver intentionally menaced you? I suspect (and hope) that would push the response in the direction of gun action.
Without evidence, I see little that society can do.
… they can do in the situation, and they know it.
There is plenty they can do, and they know it. They just “can’t be bothered”.
And more importantly, the perpetrators know the police “can’t be bothered” and that there will be no consequences for whatever they do. THAT is the tragedy here. If you want lawlessness, let everyone know that the police won’t do anything, even though they could, because they just “can’t be bothered”.
If you actually bother, call the business, talk to the person in charge, let them know you take this seriously, and let them know you are and will be looking into it. Better yet, actually visit the business and ask to talk to the drivers. When the drivers are on notice that the police actually care, they’ll think about that next time. And what would you like the next time to be like? The same as last time? Even worse? Or better? News Flash! It’s *not* going to be better if you do nothing. It’s only going to get worse, and you know it.
The police “rationality” is completely short sighted. Sure, you can talk about the lack of resources, and it’s true. More money would help. A societal commitment to concern for others would help. Lots of things would help. But as lawlessness snowballs, think about how expensive it will be to get out ahead of it. Expensive in dollars, expensive in personal liberties, and expensive in social corrosion and decay.
Where do you draw the line?
Have you ever worked with kids, or had your own? What do you do when one says another hit them or called them a name or whatever? The first time, you try to sort it out and make things right. But you learn pretty quickly it’s awfully hard to figure out what really happened, you never get the whole story, and even if you think you understand what’s going on, creating any sort of justice is nearly impossible.
It’s no different when there’s an altercation in traffic, you’re only hearing one side of the story, you have no evidence of what actually happened, and the most you can do is bluff.
This is a pretty extreme situation, but shows the kind of crap cops find themselves in the middle of:
How many of us took one look at a large bald man and immediately assumed the two “womxn” were the victims?
I know this is a stretch, but…
When I was a kid my friend (the driver) and I got back to his house and his mom was all kinds of upset. Apparently a police office had come by because they received a complaint from somebody that my friend had passed them dangerously while they were out driving. I don’t remember us doing any crazy driving that day.
The police in that town thought that the unsubstantiated report of a dangerous pass was enough to warrant a home visit to investigate.
As the VERY LEAST the police should make a visit to a driver if a cyclist reports they were run off the road by them. It’s a crime. They don’t have to file charges. They just need to let people know that the police will come bother you if you drive like an idiot. They need to do this so the public know that they care. That way more people will report it. And then after several reports something will actually be done.
This attitude that the police don’t care enough to even go over there and see if the person will admit it, and then suggest you get revenge yourself, is just one aspect of letting your city continue to degenerate.
I agree that followup and a visit for accusations of driving aggression would be ideal. I’m just saying that I totally get why that doesn’t happen in a big city, and I don’t expect it to change.
Are you seriously claiming he police should not handle cases where they may have a hard time getting evidence? Should they systematically ignore sexual assault accusations because it’s generally a “he said she said” issue?
The police can do a modicum of investigative work and determine the driver. They can interview the driver. This may be a shock to you, but lots of people admit their wrongdoing-that’s the reason police talk to suspects! Even if the driver doesn’t, and they can’t come up with other evidence, the police contact itself may be effective in causing the perpetrator to evaluate his their behavior and deter them from future aggressions.
What should happen is that bullies should be put in their place; people with anger problems and violent proclivities should be dealt with; I should be mayor.
I’m saying it is completely understandable why the police would not follow up on unsubstantiated complaints of dangerous and anti-social driving. It’s a no-win situation for them. If someone pisses me off in traffic, and I know I can sic the cops on them, I likely would, possibly embellishing my story slightly, or leaving out salient details to garner greater sympathy. Likewise, others may call the cops on me for some perceived (or actual) slight.
Would you want to be in the middle of that?
The OP stated they were run off the road and sustained injuries. You seem to minimize that by characterizing it as “anti-social driving.” We’re talking about assault and potentially worse here. And it is unsubstantiated exactly because the police refused to follow-up, conveniently self-fulfilling your characterization. The bottom line is if you called the police and showed them an injury you claimed was sustained in another manner, they’d most likely pursue it. And in some cases that we take especially seriously, there wouldn’t even need to be physical injury.
Let me first say I agree with your characterization of the incident as described as “assault or worse”. I agree it is serious, and do not mean to minimize the nature of what happened.
But I also can see why the police would not be interested (and have no resources for) following up on every unsubstantiated complaint. They don’t know what happened. They spend all day being lied to, and traffic incidents are often quite subjective even in the best of conditions (“she swerved in front of me” vs. “I signaled my turn and had the right of way”). And even in the comments on this article, there’s someone advocating (falsely) reporting an aggressive driver as being drunk.
I am not arguing the police should not follow up, only saying I understand why they don’t.
Did you consider calling the owner/manager of the business and explaining what had happened? I’ve had reasonable responses from several local companies when I’ve taken the time to phone the person who supervises their drivers.
I always point out that I see their rigs on a regular basis and that this is the first time one of their drivers has been dangerous/discourteous/unlawful that I have seen and thank the supervisor for doing such a good job teaching safe practices. I usually even mean it. I’ve driven for outfits that put a lot of effort into safety and I know it’s nice to be recognized for the good as well as the bad results.
Coincidentally, I made such a call last week. As luck would have it, I encountered the same driver on the same road a few days later. Much to my pleasure, he behaved perfectly when he overtook and passed me.
Echoing the suggestion to call in. I do it once in a long while and have found people to be responsive.
In all honesty, I don’t think a camera helps that much most of the time — cops will still do nothing. Doesn’t hurt to report though because multiple people reporting the same thing can open up some possibilities. Some years ago, a club I belonged to got a guy charged and convicted after several club members cooperated to get evidence of him harassing cyclists.
A couple observations:
1) A certain percentage of drivers on the roads are chemically altered, mentally unstable, criminals, etc. When you think about how many tens of thousands of drivers you encounter between the really bad ones, they’re obviously extreme outliers and should not be assumed to be sane or sober
2) Being creatures of habit, drivers tend to show up in roughly the same places at the same times so you can be ready for them. When I have a negative encounter (rare), I memorize the vehicle — and give a five fingered wave about 2 seconds before they pass me from behind on future encounters. If you strip them of their anonymity and don’t give them the provocation they seek, they tend to play much better.
I also have had good luck contacting businesses with driving complaints. Though I’ve reported a lot, so I’ve had some that don’t seem to care.
Instead of a light kit with a stealth camera, make the camera obvious: When confronted, pull out your phone and begin video-recording. Better yet, I’ve found, is a helmet-mounted GoPro camera. (Kinda has to be a GoPro because the shape is more easily recognized by others as a camera.) Somehow it makes people point, smile and wave, and may help prevent confrontations.
I have a GoPro and really hate how it makes my helmet feel. I find that hanging it from the handlebar is the best way to go. However, for commuting, I find it completely impractical to manage charging it, wiping the memory card, mounting/dismounting it, turning it on/off, etc. With my luck, any incident would happen shortly after the memory card filled up.
Which one do you have? Putting it on loop is available from Hero 3 and onwards. That doesn’t help with the miserable battery life, but it takes care of the SD card thing.
Hero 5 and beyond including Session can be operated by voice control which is handy.
For this purpose (preventing confrontation through a sort of Pied Piper effect), it has to be on your helmet so as to be easily seen by all. If you had it mounted on the front of your helmet before, try it further back, just in back of the highest point of the helmet’s curve. (Much better balanced that way.)
And take heart: For this purpose, the camera doesn’t even have to be running. Save some weight by taking out the battery, even. Heck, you could have one of those auto-pilot stealth camera/lights on the handlebar actually recording footage, and have a broken and gutted old GoPro on your helmet.
You need to set it to overwrite so it keeps recording once the card fills up.
I rarely forget to take my camera with me. I keep it by the door, always plugged in. If I remember when I walk by it I’ll put the spare battery in and charge that as well.
It’s taking it off the vehicle that I always forget to do. So I end up with an hour of footage of my garage or driveway.
When I get home I set the camera down inside the door and plug it in. At some point every few days I copy all the video to my computer, in case I need to reference it.
You get into the habit. You’ll forget at first, but then it gets easier. Put it by your key for your lock so you remember it.
I have a cheap camera with really bad stability control, so when it’s bike-mounted I get a lot of weird video roll from it compensating for the road vibrations. But it’s less fun having the weight on my head, but lots better for pointing at what I’m actually looking at.
When I have somebody following me close I’ll often turn to look at them and pretend I’m pressing something on the camera just so they know it’s there. People give cameras a lot of space.
Some people ask what it is. A video camera. Some people ask what it’s for. Keeping us all accountable.
I often will obviously point my rear camera towards a license plate, point to it and make the universal two fingered “I’m watching you” motion. That always seems to get some… animated, lets call them, reactions.
While unpopular amongst liberals, I have always felt the threat of violence keeps people civil.
It need not be violence specifically, but consequence. Hence visible cameras to help compensate for our thinly stretched police force. As for what the specific threat of violence accomplishes, here’s one outcome: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/pistol-rifle-and-machete-road-rage-incident-ends-in-bizarre-arms-race-arrest-in-kirkland/
Negative (non-violent) consequences are a form of violence.
Hmm, how ageist. This self-described old guy said “in good style,” not struggling.
What explains your predilection for hyperbole and distortion?
Oops, wrong thread. Meant to say: So you’re saying that, along with violence being violence, non-violence is also violence. Do you really see all action as violence, and how that might be a problem in your interactions with the world?
I know…progressive “logic” is confusing at times.
violence – actions or words that are intended to hurt people:
I am fond of reductio ad absurdum, personally.
> threat of violence keeps people civil
I have always held the position that equiping cyclists and vulnerable road users with rocket launchers and the legality to use them against vehicles that threaten their safety would improve the manners of road ragers and traffic scofflaws greatly.
I think it would and like how you think.
Every single uncivil or violent experience of my life tells me your feelings are not based in reality.
I think you have that exactly reversed. Most other countries are better behaved, and violence is not the primary means of social control, as it is here (at least within the realm of law enforcement).
Violence, and the threat of violence, underpins state power nearly everywhere, and social power in a good many countries.
The problem with MotRG’s analysis is that we are one of the most violent countries (the state metes out violence more frequently and in higher doses than nearly all our peers) and yet we behave no better and in most cases far worse than people in those countries to whom we compare ourselves.
So while I agree with the abstract statement you made, the reality of everyday violence (by the state and by individuals) here is not easily reconciled with what I took MotRG to be saying.
MotRG was repeating the oft-heard idea that when dealing with a person you know to be armed, you may be more polite. I think this is likely true, but really has little bearing on the topic you are trying to transition into, which is the general topic of violence in our society, which is a highly complex issue, not easily boiled down to a pithy forum posting.
One could ask, however, if our society is abnormally violent, or Canada (for example) is abnormally peaceful. Is the “natural” state of humanity peace or violence? I raise that only as an interesting thought, not as something requiring an answer.
“One could ask, however, if our society is abnormally violent”
I think by most measures, the answer you didn’t ask for, tried to stave off would be yes. The statistics are out there.
Suicide rates, incarceration rates, homelessness, deaths on streets and roads, military spending, arms sales, gun ownership, we win on all counts, and probably a hundred more.
But what is the “norm” against which you compare us?
Norm of violence?
No need to make this complicated. We compare ourselves to those countries we normally think of as in our league, OECD would be an obvious shorthand. Ranking violence in each of these countries, as measured in any of a hundred ways , isn’t hard. I guarantee we’re terrible or perhaps even the worst. Do you think otherwise?
You’ve chosen an anomalous point in our geography and history that may be “unnaturally” peaceful. I would contend it is possible that violence is the normal condition of humanity, and the recent modern West is an outlier. I may be wrong, but I can’t accept your assumption that the current situation is the proper “norm” without further consideration.
I don’t deny we perform worse by many measures than our OECD counterparts. I do contend there may be reasons why this is so, and that the whole topic is much more complex than simply comparing statistics.
I’m not particularly concerned with whether the current situation is ‘the proper norm’ but it is what we’ve got. To suggest that it isn’t a valid, natural, obvious way to compare ourselves is just weird. If the Swedes or Italians or Canadians or Australians are dramatically less violent in easily measured ways I for one don’t feel any need to come up with tortuous explanations for why this doesn’t reveal our predicament, rebut MotRG’s assertion.
That’s fine; I’m not trying to explain or excuse. I was just pondering whether we are abnormally violent, or are our fellow countries abnormally peaceful. If that’s not interesting to you, don’t worry about it.
Our community has a generation of drivers who do not worry much about police enforcement for most safety equipment fails or aggressive traffic crimes …an unplanned outcome of great recession budget cuts to traffic units and training, struggles to re-hire after 10 years of no-hires, police recruits desire on the ‘big sexy’ police duties, and the likely internal department fear of performing traffic stops for equipment fails (due to past bias use of such tools for drug enforcement etc.).
…Perhaps we need a “broken window” theory for transportation safety…call it the “broken windshield” theory that links roadway safety outcomes with level of disregard for vehicle safety and maintenance…
Thus this is a new era for our streets, one of a complex mix of perfect storm of technology, commuter-cars-as-race-cars, perverse court / jury outcomes against vulnerable road users, political theater, and the press…that all undermine the sacred “Five E’s” and the once hoped journey to Vision Zero. Perhaps the best a pedestrian/ cyclist can hope for is “Near Vision” or “Vision 70%”?
I just realized that this is outside of Bank of America. This means that there is surveillance footage of this. It will be interesting to review the video of how this occurred. Any chance of getting this video?
Hopefully, there were no injuries.
“While PBOT & TriMet and other agencies aim to balance the needs of all road users, the historical imbalance continues. Our system is so tipped in favor of driving…”
This passage brought to mind an analogy I’ve found useful in thinking of this situation and solutions to it:
Cars/Drivers are the White people of the transportation world.
The system was built for them and has their convenience and frictionless movement as its highest goal. The system makes it difficult to get around any other way safely. Their preferences and comfort have a commanding presence in every transportation decision making process. Their bad behavior is excused away and the blame is often placed at the feet of others; they don’t take responsibility for the destruction they cause day to day and have wrought historically. Any attempt to use resources to make it safer and easier to get around in any other ways is met with cries of unfairness, and War on Cars, and other resistance. And on and on you can extend this.
So it’s not enough to say “henceforth, we will prioritize our modes this way”, even if we ACTUALLY commit to a hierarchy that puts active transportation at the top; the system that was built and exists today has an enormous inertia constructed of slip-ramps, wide lanes, collector-distributors, fast arterials, far-flung low-density uses, cheap parking, and cavalier attitudes. We need “affirmative action” to properly change course – reallocation of existing space and resources to achieve the ends we want.
I’m uneasy about using this White people/car analogy because I don’t want to draw equivalency between the magnitude of the plight of generations of people of color and active transportation – one is a broad swath of humanity, the other is away of getting about – but it might help activists from both groups better understand the dimensions of the issues they care about.
The way I think about this is that there are many “clubs” in the world. The White Club, The Men’s Club, The Driver’s Club, what-have-you. We seem to try to address the exclusiveness of these clubs by working to let others into the X club, but it’s still a club run/owned by X’s. X’s are generous enough (or forced by law) to let Y’s and Z’s into the club—on a probationary basis, mind you—but it is still The X Club. What we need is to make things into The Everybody Club. Not The Driver’s Club-that-we’ll-let-bicyclists-into-on-a-limited-basis-as-long-as-they-mind-their-Ps-and-Qs (and as long as we drivers reserve the right to kick you out or kill you), but Everybody’s Club. Or maybe no such societal “clubs” at all, whichever.
Sorry… We’re still not letting you into the Sanrio Club. Nice try, though.
DANG it! I feel so marginalized.
Join the club…
Meanwhile, so-called “improvements” are being made for the 17% of us who commute via bike. Do I wish the people well who attempt to ride eastbound on Hawthorne while I am turning into Ladd’s? Yep. Why is that? Because there is no way on this green earth that they will make it up that hill. Sure, maybe Lance Armstrong could do it but we have a very nicely “improved Lincoln” that does the job quite nicely and in a less stressful manner. It would be nice to see people actually use the greenways. If not, what’s the point?
On another note, While the person who wrecked their car into the bike station sucks, are we too assume that people who ride bikes don’t do something equally as dumb? Because if we had that conversation I’m sure we would have a few humbling stories to tell as well.
The funny part, I see plenty of vehicles that have the cool bike license plate, cycle Oregon sticker, and other bike friendly flare who drive equally as crazy.
Very few know and show patience no matter the modal.
Even as an old guy, I can easily make it up the hill that is eastbound Hawthorne (and on up to the top of Tabor, back down, up again, etc.) in good style — just not at motorized speed, and not in a low-stress ambiance. Is that what you meant?
Sounds awesome. We should rip up those speed bumps/ diverters on Lincoln as a result.
So you’re saying there should be no possibility for folks to ride that area in a low-stress ambiance? Why do you think that? Or, what are you trying to say?
Your initial response, while great for your personal achievements, did nothing in regards to my statement. I promptly responded ina like manner.
OK, so you ARE in favor of low-stress ambiance being allowed to exist? Yay.
But it was the hyperbole in your original –“no way on this green earth that they will make it up that hill” — that did probably worse than nothing in regards to your statement. If riding to Tabor from Hawthorne at Ladd, both the Hawthorne and the Harrison/Lincoln routes will have the same elevation gain. See how that works?
I’m in favor of bike users using what they have been given. As opposed to selfishly clogging up streets like Hawthorne which directly impacts buses.
Haven’t bike users been “given” streets such as Hawthorne, through the laws that allow them to use streets?
And don’t cars directly impact buses?
Who “gave” me Hawthorne when I’m in my car? And do they somehow “take it back” when I get on my bike? What a crock.
state law requires slow moving vehicles that are holding up faster moving traffic to turn off to facilitate passing. therefore, it is often illegal to operate a bike (going east) on hawthorne during periods of high congestion.
i violate this law often!
I don’t think that law would apply on Hawthorne.
If you look at what the law says, you’re not violating it.
In any case, unless you ride far left which I suspect you don’t given your frequent criticisms of VC, you’ll barely slow down drivers in your own lane. Even if you do ride far left at a speed slower than traffic, the logical outcome is that they’ll just pass you in the left lane and move forward in the gap in front of you.
Either way, it works out just fine for both you and the motorists.
yeah…was wrong. law does not apply to 4 lane roads.
Maybe you’re seeing me? I deliver by bicycle and take the direct routes 95% of the time. But I’m an outlier and I’m not usually seeing any other cyclists with me on Sandy, Hawthorne, Grand, etc. I have no idea what you mean when you say “It would be nice to see people actually use the greenways”. That’s where they are. Maybe don’t get hyperfocused on the 1 or 2 people shooting up Hawthorne while 20 go right to Lincoln? The modal share of bicycles on the main roads looks like any other town in the US. It’s me and a couple homeless looking dudes. You want to push us 1-2% off the main roads completely for…appearances sake?
If riding on the streets arouses you then go for it. I’ve seen people do such moves and it only proves one’s selfishness. Yes, you are free to do it but you’re clogging up the buses and other modes when in reality we have excellent greenways that provide bike users everything they need. 😉
Did you mean, “If DRIVING on the streets arouses you then go for it. I’ve seen people do such moves and it only proves one’s selfishness. Yes, you are free to do it but you’re clogging up the buses and other modes when in reality we have excellent FREEWAYS that provide DRIVERS everything they need.”?
Surely I didn’t. 😉 A self described old man struggling up Hawthorne slows buses down. Hopefully that helps your understanding.
How ageist. This self-described old guy said “in good style,” not struggling. Why distort? And why the previous Lance Armstrong hyperbole? And why the shift in your POV toward people on bikes from “us” to “they,” before our eyes in just this thread?
It’s outlandish to think, but are you some sort of amateur opposition operative?
In any case, an Occam’s Razor dispatch from Cpt. Obvus HQ: If you see riders continue up Hawthorne when you turn at Ladd, their destination may be just a couple blocks up Hawthorne. A few eateries and watering holes have sprung up there just in the last 80 years.
You mentioned age when you said “even as an old guy..” 😉 nothing I said added to or took away from your original comment. I have no idea what your “good style” implies as I don’t sit back at one of the local establishments waiting for you to roll by. Distortion also goes both ways. I know from past comments on this group that people often complain about the small hill on SE 28th and the Hawthorne Hill is much greater than that. And as opposed to Lincoln, Hawthorne is much more stressful riding/ driving than other places in SE. let’s also not forget about Salmon as well. One could use those greenways until they hit the block of whatever destination they desire on Hawthorne without the stress.
I use us and they frequently. Usually “they” are the one’s who feel like they need to make some point about the lack of bike options in Portland and “us” are the one’s who see the many improvements and wonder why “they” feel the need to reclaim everything, considering that greenways have controlled traffic for car users, one might say they same could be try for bikes are major roads?
The hill on 28th is not an alternative to the hill on Hawthorne. You mentioned both Lincoln and Salmon. Lincoln has a much bigger hill than Hawthorne. Salmon has a ton of stops with crossings of streets that are obscured by illegal private motor vehicle storage. To me that makes Hawthorne the less stressful street.
Your opinions are your own.
You are telling us that if we want to go to Lounge Lizard (2 blocks up Hawthroen) or McMenamins (5 blocks up Hawthorne) that we should leave Hawthorne to go 3 blocks out of our way to either Harrison/Lincoln or Salmon, then leave Harrison/Lincoln/Salmon and come 3 blocks back to Hawthorne to get where we want to go? That’s insane. We should be requiring drivers to do that since they’re not powering their own vehicles and it’s less of an inconvenience for them.
“They” are the people you don’t like. “Us” includes you and therefore you like “us”. Were you a “they” before they installed the bike options you like and have no switched to “us” now that you’re satisfied? Are people not allowed to be unsatisfied with what they’ve been given? Should we be happy with the crumbs while those who kill us get an entire loaf?
Strange that you use the word reclaim. As if something has been taken from us and we feel a right to it that we no longer have. I think this is the only part of your post I agree with.
We do have things that control bike traffic. But considering that we’re trying to get more people to bike since it’s healthy and we can’t fit many more cars I highly doubt that they’ll be putting in a lot of restrictions on bicycling traffic, especially in high density shopping area where bicycles are the best vehicles.
If you were referring just to one person, why did you say “I’ve seen PEOPLE do such moves” and “BIKE USERS”? And why is someone riding slowly any more “selfish” than someone in a car or truck doing any of the many things they do that slow down people behind them?
But large numbers of cars occupied by one person, each, never slow buses at all?
I definitely prefer using greenways, but if I’m on Hawthorne, and am heading to another destination on Hawthorne, why would I ride somewhere else? The street is for me as much as it is for anyone else.
Depends if your looking for what Mr Geller coins as “low stress.”
If you’re a new rider then nothing is low-stress.
Even the Tillicum Bridge, probably the lowest stress ride in town, can be stressful if you’re worried about slowing down riders behind you.
I was merely comparing a similar situation in terms of 28th and the Hawthorne hill. Thanks for the response that was too long winded to keep my attention.
I didn’t get the sense that DeliveryDude chooses his routes for the purpose of arousing himself. Rather, his screen name and the concept of “direct” routes makes a good argument against riding a half mile out of the way to travel on a greenway that does not serve his destination. The idea that only drivers are entitled to efficient routes is ridiculous to me. I fully support the concept of providing greenways, but I acknowledge that having access to fast direct routes that front popular destinations is important too. It’s not one or the other.
Use of the word “clog” is more appropriate to auto traffic. According to your logic, there must be loads of bikes “clogging” the freeways during rush hour.. Please understand that the “see bike, pass bike” mentality does mean bikes actually cause traffic jams. Instead, traffic jams are caused by too many cars trying to use the same roads at the same time, and because they take up so much space, the roads become oversaturated.
There is nothing selfish about wanting to use quick, direct routes when on a bike. What’s selfish is the idea that roads are only for cars, that those cars need to go as fast as possible, and that no one should be in their way. Our goal is to increase bike mode share because it is the right thing for the environment and for the livibility of our city. Let’s make cyclists feel welcome on ALL roads, not shame them for riding where they think is most suitable.
Have you biked up Lincoln? That hill is WAY steeper than Hawthorne, which isn’t very steep because it had a streetcar on it. How many cool hip businesses are there on Lincoln? Why can’t all the cars use Lincoln and give Hawthorne to the buses and bikes?
The greenways are low stress? Do you ride on them? Do you enjoy drivers riding your butt and speeding past you inches away? At least on Hawthorne there’s another lane for them to go around and leave several feet of space while doing it. And where are the witnesses on the greeways for when somebody does rage against you? Nowhere. Hawthorne is packed with people to witness bad driving.
So yes, when I need to go to a business or I’ve been harassed on a greenway then I’ll ride on a major street where drivers have plenty of room to pass me and everybody can clearly see what we’re doing.
Do people do stupid things like wreck their bikes into car stations? Sure. And do people often try to equate completely different vehicles as if 2 tons of explosion powered steel is the same threat as 20 pounds of tubing? They sure do. So if you’re asking, yes, I’d much rather have all these out of control drivers doing the exact same things on bicycles. They’d learn quick to stop doing it. Which vehicle would you rather have run you over?
You think people with bicycle license plates care about the rights of cyclists on city streets? How many of those people only bicycle on racing bikes out in the country? Or maybe https://bikeportland.org/2010/07/21/photo-a-dont-share-the-road-license-plate-36773
You think that my legally using the road is selfish. Don’t believe everything you think.
“On another note, While the person who wrecked their car into the bike station sucks, are we too assume that people who ride bikes don’t do something equally as dumb?”
But these two contexts are not equivalent. If I hit a baseball through a window, or drive a car through someone’s living room, are those two things “equally dumb”? Maybe, but are they equivalent? Are baseballs legally registered and licensed because one might crash through a window? Similarly, imagine any situation in which a bicyclist might “do something dumb” that damaged property or injured someone other than the bicycle or its operator, then imagine the same scenario, but replace the bike with a car.
Drivers can’t afford to do “dumb” things with their cars—the risk of injuring or killing someone is too high.
A bit of Portland Bike Parking history for the kids…this 2006 covered “bike parking structure” at Hawthorne and 38th was once called a “Bike Oasis” and was funded by a movie / film company (?) as a mitigation for some city road facility closure…my memory is hazy on the company.
What was once hoped to become a model for secure AND covered bike parking citywide…but then…
“The sad truth is of the matter is that people are driving like jerks on purpose.”
That’s the line that struck me. My particular dislike is one that affects me more as a driver–when people tailgate on the freeway or highway to get people to move out of their way. That’s by far the most prevalent bad behavior on places like I-84. Making it worse is the fact that many on-ramps in Portland dump you into the fast lane, and jerk drivers won’t even let you merge into the slower lane.
And making it all worse was the legislature’s new law against driving in the left lane except for passing. So now every jerk feels that if you’re ahead of them and not going as fast as they want to go, even if you can’t go any faster, they have a right to tailgate, then swerve around you–with the law on their side in their opinion.
That’s on the freeway, but the same attitude happens on any busy street–that anyone going slower than the speed limit deserves to be run off the road, as does any pedestrian causing someone to lose one second on their commute…anyone trying to merge ahead of you…
4 deliberate taps on the brake as I say “get off my ass” is my in-automobile response to tailgaters. I doubt they hear the words, but they often seem to interpret the message correctly.
I just keep slowly decreasing my speed until they back off or go around me. If they won’t keep a safe distance behind me then all I can do is make is so the speed I’m going is safe for their tailgating in case I need to slam on the brakes for something.
Just a tap of the brakes to slow down every 10 seconds or so. This also works for police that are tailgating you.
Police usually don’t like to drive in right lanes because if there’s an emergency and they have to drive with lights and sirens on, they’ll use the left lane. They are required to pass on the left.
They may be tailgating you because they need you to move to the right, even if they don’t have their lights on. Most cops drive urgently from call to call. And if they’re tailgating you while you’re in the right lane, well then I don’t know what that is, maybe they’re trying to read your plate 🙂
“Most cops drive urgently from call to call.”
I’m curious how we might know this to be true. I suspect that most cops just speed out of habit, not out of any specific need to get somewhere quickly.
The act of deliberate aggressive driving needs to be treated as attempted murder or at least manslaughter. Where else in society are people given a pass to terrorize fellow citizens.
(Prior to Jan 2017)
I was at a neighborhood board transportation committee meeting when a PBOT representative told us “we can’t put barriers on that curve because people will drive into them”. ?!?!?!?! Completely acknowledging that TBTB ‘protect’ car property over cycling property and life.
Reminds me–there’s a six-foot tall bush at an island where I cross regularly, that totally blocks views between people ready to step off the curb and approaching drivers. PBOT was trimming it a year ago, and only trimmed a few inches. I told the guys trimming someone was going to get killed if they don’t trim more, so drivers can at least see people stepping in front of them. They told me they couldn’t trim more all at once because it might kill the bush, but they’d trim more later.
So last week–a year later–they came back and trimmed all the grass around the bush, but left the bush untrimmed. Makes it feel like PBOT values bushes’ lives more than people’s.
What location? Why not name it to begin with?
I didn’t name it because the exact location isn’t relevant to the discussion. It’s on the small island at the SW Macadam/Taylors Ferry intersection. It’s the last leg of the journey for pedestrians heading west, where cars are beginning their drive up Taylors Ferry in front of Zupan’s.
I talked to the maintenance crew the first time when they refused to cut more. I then reported it to PBOT, who forwarded my concern to ODOT without addressing the bush.
The “crossing” has no signage and no striping. Drivers heading towards the crossing have no way to see that there is a crossing there, and cannot see people standing behind the bush trying to cross (and those people can’t see approaching cars). As soon as Taylors Ferry-bound cars make the gentle right turn southbound off Macadam to start up Taylors Ferry, they accelerate so they are going 35-40 mph or more through the crossing. Most people walking cut across the street a few yards south of the crossing, so they can see oncoming cars. It’s dangerous, but not important to PBOT based on the total lack of response. I’ve had much better luck (often excellent) with PBOT on most other issues.
A rather old fashioned idea – engineer or planner?
Greetings from hot humid Greensboro North Carolina.
I lived in Portland for 17 years. Towards the end, before I left, every other day I’d openly swear at a driver who cut me off while I was biking, usually in East Portland but also in other parts of town. Portland is arguably the most Bike-Friendly city in America, so you can imagine my surprise that when I moved to the most car-friendly city in America (according to Waze) that I swear at motorists now only about once a month for cutting me off.
I had thought that maybe I had matured, gotten better at riding in traffic. But then I went and visited Portland for a week last August – it was if anything even worse than I remember it. I felt safer riding in downtown DC, LA or Chicago than I did in Portland. Charlotte, which is bigger than Portland, is a breeze, as is Raleigh & Greensboro, with far less bike infrastructure.
I get the impression that Portland isn’t so dangerous because of its infrastructure (or lack of it), but that it as a city has somehow attracted all the worst drivers from the rest of the country.
I’m sure it’s either the rapidly rising cost of living or the unfiltered unfluoridated city water that is too blame. It’s an expensive Communist conspiracy to infiltrate our bodily fluids.
You’re an easy target to miss.
I can’t believe you would swear at a driver of a vehicle that could kill you!!!
Cycling conditions have deteriorated dramatically since you left. Hence the reason for the redesign of Lincoln/Harrison. Everyone looks at their phone to get around efficiently in their SOV (distracted driving) and it continues to occur despite it being illegal. It’s effecting Neighborhood Greenways particularly.
As usual, PBOT responds accordingly. PBOT has neither the will, nor the flexibility to tackle our most important safety/improvement projects. They seemed to be mired in planning still…..
Going to Vancouver BC this fall to see how it’s being done right.
I’m heading to Washington DC this weekend for much the same reason, a small vacation to a city where they do it right, or failing that, do it completely wrong in a spirit of experimentation.
I’ve had several different commutes while living in Portland that last 10 years, they’ve all been excellent with mostly involving bike lanes.
1) From NE Alberta & MLK to NW Industrial area. Bike lanes 80% Medium stress st 20%
2) Alberta & MLK to NW 23rd – Good Samaritan H. Bike lanes 75% Medium stress st 25%
3) Alberta & MLK to 42nd and Freemont. Bike boulevards/low stress neighborhoods 100%
4) Alberta & MLK to Fruit Valley in Vancouver, WA. Bike lanes/routes/low stress neighborhoods 75% High stress st in WA 25%
5)NE 28th and Glisan to 21st and Powell. Low stress neighborhoods 95% High stress st 5%
6) 28th and Glisan to downtown. Bike boulevards/lanes 75% High stress st 25%
7) 28th and Glisan to 110 and Burnside. Bike boulevards/lanes/low stress neighborhoods 100%
8) SW Capital HW and PCC to downtown. low stress neighborhoods/bike lanes 80% High stress st 20% However, this has probably been my most stressful commute because of Barber.
I agree with commuters who believe traffic is definitely worse than 10 years ago or even 5 years ago, but biking in Portland isn’t bad. Yes, I’m a seasoned bike commuter with confidence, but I feel like I have a pretty good spread of commutes around the city. Maybe I’m lucky or privileged (however you want to quantify it), but they’ve all been safe: bike lanes, through boulevards or in low stress neighborhoods.
We all want direct, efficient routes to wherever we’re commuting too. Just like car commuters want minimal traffic and lights to wherever they’re driving too; especially during rush hour times.
It’s extremely bad for car commuters. There’s no argument about that. It’s their own doing, it’s the cities doing, whatever. BUT, it’s extremely good for bike commuters during rush hour. Every bike route that I mentioned above was faster or more enjoyable/less stressful than driving.
To make biking even more enjoyable, I’m going to purchase an ebike. I’ll be faster and less tired and still not have to worry about traffic.
Being a bike commuter in Portland is good, however the grass is always greener…
the status quo is definitely great for “seasoned bike commuters with confidence” but not for the vast majority of people who would like to cycle more or who are intimidated by transportation cycling in this city.
pretty much the only reason i comment on bike portland is to push back against this kind of elitism.
I wasn’t trying to be elitist. I highlighted my experience on purpose.
I agree that current infrastructure is setup well for commuters like me.
I think we all agree we want it to be safe and low stress for the first time commuter with their children.
That’s what we’re fighting for.
I just wanted to provide my testimony of how I’ve felt relatively safe over my ten years of commuting.
I’ll also add that I just don’t see the demand from the 8-80 crowd for riding on even an improved outer Division. If we lose the commuters, we lose mode share.
thanks for the clarification. i often fail to detect nuance online.
It’s definitely the lack of fluoride. That and the communists.
“I felt safer riding in downtown DC, LA or Chicago than I did in Portland. Charlotte, which is bigger than Portland, is a breeze, as is Raleigh & Greensboro, with far less bike infrastructure.
I get the impression that Portland isn’t so dangerous because of its infrastructure (or lack of it), but that it as a city has somehow attracted all the worst drivers from the rest of the country.”
With the exception of a 3 year stint in Eugene in the mid 90’s, Portland is the only place I’ve lived with bike infrastructure and the traffic is the slowest. All the same, it’s my least favorite place to ride.
What makes Portland different is the culture of entitlement. Drivers feel entitled to do whatever they want as if no one else is there, but so do the cyclists and peds. Part of this sense of entitlement involves a need to assert ones rights over others while simultaneously pretending they don’t exist. People willfully avoid eye contact and other communication while provoking others so encounters that should be negotiations wind up being battles.
One thing that doesn’t help is that riding a bicycle is perceived as some kind of statement. So people react to you both positively and negatively on that basis alone rather than you simply being another human out there. The net effect is that I encounter more hostility to bicycles in cycle friendly Portland than any redneck area I’ve lived in or ridden.
As to why we have this culture, I think you’re onto something with the Communist conspiracy to infiltrate our bodily fluids with unfluoridated water
Somewhat related to the sense of entitlement is the story my co-worker just told me about a pedestrian kicking a cyclist off his bike this morning by a Milwaukee max station. He also yelled at him to walk his bike through the crosswalk. The pedestrian ran off after several people stopped to help the cyclist so there’s no way to tell if it was just entitlement that made him do that or if he also had some mental issues.
I’d like to think it was the latter but I’m sure I’m not the only one here who’s been shouted at to get off the sidewalk, out of the crosswalk and off the road at least they didn’t also kick me. My favorite days are when I have multiple people tell me to both be off the sidewalk and road. I kinda want to just introduce them to one another and let them fight it out 🙂
Culture of entitlement.
Bike commuters, or rather the more gritty cyclists — you know who I’m talking about: spandex, clipless, bike specific everything, 23mm tires. Need to get the hardest 6 mile ride of my life type of commuter. OR, I’m a fixed gear, I’m hardcore, I have somewhere to be so get out of my way type.
These riders ride as if they’re doing the city a favor. Running lights, not stoping at signs, dangerous passing on the left; all under the guise of exercise, environmentalism, efficiency, work or whatever. Then they get mad when there’s pushback from the city, from LE, from the redneck driving the big rig.
You’re not doing the city a favor nor does anyone owe you anything.
Sure there’s societal benefits for people who ride their bikes, but we all no there’s no true altruism in this world. You do it for yourself.
That’s not entitlement. That’s being uppity.
As in, “You can’t bend the rules, uppity cyclist! Rule-bending is reserved for drivers! Get thee back to the bike lane!”
“Taking liberties or assuming airs beyond one’s place in a social heirarchy. Assuming equality with someone higher up the social ladder.”
You have to stop for lights and signs regardless of your road position, regardless of what you’re operating.
That’s one way to put it. Or you could just toss out a bunch of insults and see what comes back.
“Culture of entitlement.”
I assume you’re referring to drivers. If not, this statement makes no sense.
“Bike commuters, or rather the more gritty cyclists — you know who I’m talking about: spandex, clipless, bike specific everything, 23mm tires. Need to get the hardest 6 mile ride of my life type of commuter. OR, I’m a fixed gear, I’m hardcore, I have somewhere to be so get out of my way type.”
OMG, those terrible cyclists who have places to be, on a schedule. Yes, totally different from mellow drivers just taking their sweet time to get to work.
“These riders ride as if they’re doing the city a favor.”
“Running lights, not stoping at signs”
Are you talking about blasting through red lights & stop signs, or are you talking about rolling through when it’s safe to do so? There’s a distinction you may not be familiar with, which is why I’m asking.
“under the guise of exercise, environmentalism, efficiency, work or whatever.”
If people are cycling, what do I care what their motivations are? What do you care? I would like to know how to cycle under the guise of exercise….does that mean using an e-bike and posting my times to Strava?
Schedule, you nailed it. People often speed and drive reckles when they’re in a hurry or late. Cyclist often fail to stop where required because of that too. I get it, it sucks riding down Broadway at 18mph and because the timing of the lights, having to come to a complete stop every other light or two. It sucks finding yourself in a neighborhood where you have to stop at every intersection. It’s exhausting and inefficient.
I think it’s totally fine to slow roll a stop sign where we can completely clear it and there’s no risk. We should probably always stop at red light regardless of where and what time. Especially if car drivers can see us.
I worked at Chris King when I was younger, so I know what it’s like to be around 40 dudes everyday that are highly competitive with identifying as a cyclist. There definitely were all types of cyclist there, but the hard ones to be around were the cat 6 commuters and the f the system fixed gear counter culter guys.
And the reason I talk a lot about ebikes is because I think they’re a way to counter inefficient bike infrastructure. Having a mechanism to overcome the lost energy when having to stop at lights and signs or climb a hill, is a way to decrease my commute time while following the laws.
I have a schedule to keep too.
Personally, I typically come to a full stop at all stop signs, especially in the visibility of drivers, though I do make a couple of exceptions where I slow roll select right turns where there is no chance of conflict and nobody at the intersection. I won’t stop at a stop sign mid-climb if the intersection is clear (here, for example: https://goo.gl/maps/rJJNpDKNzdS2). And there are a couple of red lights in WashCo where I’m sometimes unable to trip the sensor, so I’ll proceed through those after stopping if nobody is looking. I do believe in setting a good example.
I have had times where I’ve come to a complete stop and then had my right of way subverted by a cyclist rolling the stop sign across my path. In every case, it has been someone rolling slowly, like 5-10mph, who didn’t really appear to have much of a plan for how they ride and probably figured there was plenty of space for us to both roll through at the same time. Sometimes it’s homeless-looking people, sometimes it’s neighborhood residents on a slow roll home. As annoying as those encounters are, I was able to easily avoid colliding with them. I regularly have interactions with drivers that are worse, but I’ve become so used to those kinds of interactions that I don’t really keep track anymore. So, yes, negative bike interactions have been more memorable for me, but far less dangerous.
I fit one of your descriptions: “spandex, clipless, bike specific everything, 23mm tires. Need to get the hardest 6 mile ride of my life type of commuter”, though I’ve moved up to 25mm tires, and I’ve given up trying to get PRs on the climbs anymore. I just can’t get up Kingston as fast as I used to.
“The net effect is that I encounter more hostility to bicycles in cycle friendly Portland than any redneck area I’ve lived in or ridden.”
The Gandhi quote comes to mind: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
I wonder if the difference between “redneck areas” and Portland is the difference between being ignored and being fought.
I think people get agitated when they are not moving or making progress towards their destination. They get impatient, and then everyone is a target for their anger.
They were promised open roads and fast speeds. People get unhappy when promises are broken.
I firmly believe it’s the narcissists. Portland is now attracting the same kind of people who were (and are) attracted to the flashier bits of California. Nomads, attention-seekers, people who care about being in the trendiest place at the right time and being seen, people fulfilling some “lifestyle” fantasy, willfully delusional people with big (unrealistic) dreams and blogs and Instagram, geotagging and selfieing themselves sick. If you want to throw up, type in “Portland” on YouTube and watch the endless stream of super-confident, smug videos by starry-eyed self-styled experts who moved here yesterday. They know all about it.
And SO MANY ESCAPE ARTISTS. People running away from their lives and wanting a tabula rasa, wanting to “reinvent” themselves. Here. $@*%)%$@.
I, personally, could not have imagined a less appealing demographic to land, en masse, on what was a once a quiet, introverted, peace-loving population. The driving simply matches the personalities. Distracted, egocentric, restless, ever, ever wracked with FOMO.
Access to our streets isn’t selectively handed out or withheld to groups as you seem to imagine. Perhaps you should brush up on how this works.
If we are interested in what you call selfishly clogging our infrastructure I suspect you would be hard pressed to find a better example than single occupant vehicles (to be outdone in the future only by zero occupant (autonomous) vehicles).
With friends like these…
The whole concept that cyclists have been given anything presupposes they don’t belong on the roads in first place. Cyclists rode long before bike lanes existed — I think of lanes as something that started appearing in the 90’s as I’d never seen one myself until I came to Oregon in 1995. Even now, relatively few places have cycling infrastructure and roads that don’t even have shoulders are the rule rather than the exception in many areas.
I am puzzled by the example of Hawthorne. While it’s not a road for cyclists who aren’t comfortable with traffic past Ladd, the double lanes provide adequate space for cyclists and passing traffic.
No road user is being selfish unless they deliberately diminish someone else’s experience — simply being out there does not qualify. Unless cyclists intentionally prevent passing (something I have yet to witness out there), there’s no issue.
Curiously, I witness a lot fewer bike/vehicle conflicts where infrastructure is lacking. I don’t know why that is, but suspect it’s because everyone has a greater expectation of needing to figure out how to make things work rather than figuring out what’s “right” and then attempting to control space and other road users to force that outcome.
You’re not in favor of mass transit? That was my example and you tossed single occupancy car usage in the equation. #doitforthelikes
Um, maybe because it’s car congestion on Hawthorne, by many, many multiples over bike congestion, that delays buses on Hawthorne. (See bridge during peak commute hours.) That is, you are doing the ol’ biblical pratfall of “straining out the gnat but gulping down the camel.”
That is, you’ve racked up yet another logical fallacy. Are you playing some kind of bingo and going for a blackout?
I’ll have a beer on Hawthorne and wait for you to pass by tonight. Please wave. Happy riding;)
That photo was June 10. The next day there was a 3-car crash on Hawthorne. http://www.kptv.com/story/35862648/three-car-crash-seriously-injures-multiple-people-on-se-hawthorne-boulevard
Gee, I wonder if speed had anything to do with all the damage those vehicles and drivers sustained.
How many of these will it take to get the city to FORCE drivers to slow down on this street?
If they really take Vision Zero seriously then they’re already drawing up plans to slow it down. I don’t think they are.
That article is from July 11, 2017.
There’s actually a way to do it: by reporting a driver who “appears” to be drunk, while omitting the detail that you’re calling while riding a bicycle.
So much for comment nesting…
Speaking of out-of-control drivers, this happened in Minneapolis yesterday:
If ODOT was serious about reducing congestion and making our roads safer, they would lean on our lawmakers to get laws in place to help us separate the 10-15% of unlicensed and uninsured drivers in Oregon from their vehicles and get them off of our roads. But ODOT is not in the safety business — they are in the paving business.
This is exactly right; they see themselves as an engineering agency, not an enforcement agency.
I don’t even know if they are an engineering agency. Shouldn’t they be trying to make a transportation system that is effective for all users? You know, the ‘T’ in Transportation. Watching them from the outside it seems like their prime directive is in coming up with large-scale projects to keep their people employed and to making driving easier, so that more large-scale projects can be sold to the public.
How they see their mission and what you would want their mission to be might differ slightly. They move vehicles on big roads. That’s what “T” means to them.
If I knew how to change their culture, I’d do it in an instant.
Some awesome information from that story:
“Powell had his license revoked, and it has not been valid since August 2014…
Powell’s criminal history includes a conviction in 2015 for driving after losing his license. He has other traffic convictions dating to 2010 for twice not having the proper license for the type of vehicle he was operating, for speeding and for driving without insurance.
Some of the offenses occurred since he last lost his license, including in March 2016, when he was stopped in Ramsey County for going 75 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone.”
“Motorists who have lost their driving privileges have routinely caused death and injury in Minnesota over the years. In March, a 27-year-old motorist who repeatedly drove while his license was revoked was charged with crashing his car while drunk in Eden Prairie and killing his girlfriend.
In September 2017, Beth Freeman drove after losing her license to the state and fatally struck Wayzata police officer William Matthews as he cleared debris from Hwy. 12.”
And, despite all that mayhem, we _still_ named a street after him.
So what you’re saying : society can put in place all sorts of measures to making obtaining a drivers license difficult, but it does nothing if people don’t adhere to the rules and laws. And these are the people we need to worry about, they have absolute disregard for the laws of the road and the safety of others. We only penalize the good drivers, especially low income by creating more barriers to driving to work.
This makes me think about speed cameras. The actually physical camera probably does more than anything. People see it and slow down. Good drivers get caught, get tickets, and change their behavior. The really bad drivers don’t get caught. The car probably isn’t registered in their name so they’ll never get the ticket. If they do, they wont pay. Doesn’t matter if it goes to collections, they’re credit’s already ruined. These are the drivers who don’t care about the licensure process either…
Correct. When we identify an unlicensed/uninsured driver, we need to separate them from their vehicles. They make up way too high a percentage of drivers on our roads, and are more dangerous than your average driver to boot.
Every driver who complains about congestion should really be complaining about the fact that 10%+ of drivers on the road have zero business being on the road, and if we remove them, we will significantly reduce congestion. You know, unlike dumping half a billion dollars into the RQ expansion.
“…separate them from their vehicles.”
My three-point plan:
1. License suspended/revoked? Don’t drive.
2. Get caught driving suspended? Forfeit the vehicle you are driving—even if it isn’t yours—unless you stole it, then you’re busted for driving while suspended and auto theft.
3. Dispose of vehicle by possibly selling it at auction or at a reduced price so some law-abiding person who couldn’t otherwise afford a car might get one if they need it, or (my favorite) crush it. Someone commented here once it might be fun to have public car-crushings.
Crush ’em into long shapes and use them to as the barriers for protected bike lanes.
I like this idea (except the part of selling cars cheap), but it can be defeated by buying really cheap cars. If I lose a $500 car even twice a year… well, it’s cheaper than insurance. And I probably won’t lose it twice a year.
Well, there would also need to be some kind of “proof of good driver status” check required to buy a car, which would create a whole car black market, a new kind of fraud (misrepresenting driver status), and make it trickier for private sellers to unload a car, unless private owners could only sell cars to licensed dealers who had the ability to run driver checks…so, crap. Why do anything.
We can’t even do that for guns.
Hey, what about offering free electric bikes to people who lose their license?
That seems like a terrible idea. Punish people by giving them an expensive toy? If you want to give them mobility why not just a bike?
It depends if you prefer punishment to problem solving.
I much prefer restitution to punishment, but your suggestion—a free e-bike—is semiotically dubious. In our present moment, an e-bike is a goody, a treat, an expensive and therefore desirable object that signifies all sorts of things that are anathema to any message we may want to send to someone who just committed a crime.
And you didn’t answer my question above, why not just a bike?
Ok, how about 2 ebikes?
Hawthorne is an excellent candidate for a road diet. There are so many businesses, bikes and pedestrians, there’s no good reason for so many lanes of travel.
Now if the businesses would just realize it’d be in their own interest to lobby for it…
According to the recent article about Division, TriMet says that you can do 3-lane roads of you have Average Daily (car) Traffic (ADT) of no more than 20,000. Here in Greensboro that threshold is 15,000 but engineers are re-evaluating the numbers and may raise them. According to PBOT at their only recent count on SE Hawthorne between 44th & 45th, there was an ADT of 7,278, with about 4,000 in the pm and 3,000 in the morning. So yeah, you are right, it’s a prime candidate for a 3-lane road diet with 5-foot bike lanes.
It’s not the total daily traffic, but the peak hours that matter.
The rule of thumb is 1,000 vehicles per lane per hour in urban areas.
Downtown Portland regularly achieves 800 vplph (north-south) even with the signals and activity. Division in the 50’s has achieved 1,300 in a single PM hour.
More lanes at intersections are a common solution to signal delay issues. I prefer modern roundabouts.
Why are there so few “modern roundabouts” (if any) in Portland?
hawthorne was slated to get a road diet and bike lanes in the 90s but “PDOT” caved in to hysterical ululation from businesses and neighbors over parking loss (rinse and repeat). back in the day, i used to boycott pastaworks due to their major role in killing this proposal.
one result of this fiasco was that hawthorne was designated as a bike route (this is why it’s the only arterial with dozens of “bikes in lane” signs). i noted with some sadness that hawthorne was removed from pbot’s bike map as a bike route a few years ago.:
Hear, hear, Kittens! Well said. The very fact that drivers have reached the point of driving the way they do now (routinely, ridiculously reckless and utterly self-serving) is proof of the sense of impunity fostered in them by chronic lenience and lax enforcement. The fact that drivers aren’t sheepish anymore about speeding but are instead belligerent and crying “not fair!” at ‘speed traps’ says a lot about the culture of coddling. That Waze even exists (and is vigorously defended) says to me we revere drivers over everyone and everything. Screw you if we’re ruining your neighborhoods and endangering your health and lives–this’ll get me to work/back home 10 minutes faster! Yay, me!
I especially like that you said this: “The sad truth is of the matter is that people are driving like jerks on purpose, not by accident or that they didn’t know the rules of the road or that they didn’t have enough lights or paint.” I believe in calling a jerk a jerk, and it doesn’t happen much anymore. So thank you for that.
Because it’s true. I find that people are choosing to behave like self-centered jerks in so many walks of life anymore–with their pets, with their kids, with their phones, with their noisy, smelly, disruptive habits and hobbies. It’s like watching toddlers act out. The deterioration in driving behavior seems to me to be just a more enabled (through neglect) part of the same big sideways tantrum Americans, in particular, seem to be having right now. And it’s making life amongst people–esp. in cities like Portland which are getting increasingly crowded–intolerable.