Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Resident on street with new protected bike lane: “Cut us some slack!”

Posted by on October 31st, 2018 at 3:48 pm

This is amazing on many levels.
(Photo sent in by reader)

Reader M.N. sent us this photo. It shows the front window of a house on North Willamette Blvd near Wabash where the resident has a message for bike lane users:

“Citizens. Cut us some slack while we access our driveways! Bike lanes are for everyone. It’s the law.”

The sign also includes the text from Oregon Revised Statute 811.440: “When motor vehicles may operate on bicycle lane”.

This is clearly a response to the relatively new bike lanes installed on the street outside this house (which is just south of the Wabash intersection). It’s been just less than a year since the Portland Bureau of Transportation re-striped Willamette to include a curbside protected lane for low-impact travelers. This new configuration has caused residents to have to adjust their behavior. They can no longer park on the street outside their house. And now there’s less wiggle room for them to access their driveways because the lack of on-street parking means the entire street is used as a travel lane. They no longer have the breathing room afforded by the space where cars used to be parked.

Without talking to them (I plan to knock on their door next time I go by there), it’s hard to know what exactly spurred their sign. But my guess would be that bicycle riders have vocally informed them they should not block the lane.


As PBOT makes significant changes to our roads, it’s interesting to see how people react. I’ve noticed several people along this corridor that have begun parking on their front lawns or in parking median strips between the sidewalk and the street (despite having a driveway).

And let’s not forget how people in nearby neighborhoods have responded to slower speed limits. Just a few blocks away from this sign on Willamette is where someone defaced and destroyed dozens of “20 is Plenty” signs. And then there was the person who tried to start a campaign against the “impossibly low speed limit” on NE Ainsworth Street.

The man who sent us this photo says while some people might not like losing the ability to park in front of their house, he appreciates the new lane. “As someone who rides with a child in a bike trailer, I like what has been done around here. Now we just need police to enforce the speed limits on Willamette.”

I wonder if the cops will cut them some slack.

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

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  • PDXCyclist October 31, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    I looked up the home on google streetview. It has a two car garage and a driveway that would fit 4-6 vehicles. I struggle to understand their parking need…

    Now what is a real issue around this area is traveling east/southbound on Willamette (the side closest to the water), when a driver tries to turn left, the drivers behind them apparently cannot wait the 10-45 seconds and serve into the bike lane. After one driver does it, they all mindlessly follow. The bike lane is quite large here because it’s a striped lane and an additional gutter area. It might be 11 feet wide.

    Multiple times drivers have swerved around the left-turn-signaling car at a speed which makes me certain they didn’t check their mirrors. Luckily, I’ve always been far enough back to avoid death. But that’s all it was-luck-that has saved me multiple times. PBOT needs to add something here. I’ll even take flexiposts.

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    • Jordan October 31, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      I have also seen many cars resort to this tactic going southbound on Willamette. I had a near miss from someone who neglected to check their mirror trying to get around a car turning on Chautauqua. Luckily my reaction time was fast enough to avoid getting clipped, but it is a constant concern on my commutes.

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      • Heidi November 1, 2018 at 11:27 am

        One of my co-workers got a ticket for doing this, so there is occasional enforcement — this was a couple of months ago though.

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    • Johnny Bye Carter November 1, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      This is what most drivers illegally do whenever there is a bike lane to pass in on the right.

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  • Schrauf October 31, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    I read the sign to imply they don’t want to yield to bikes in the bike lane while turning into their driveway. Either way they’re mighty confused.

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  • Bald One October 31, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    This is subgenius!

    Bob Dobbs knows.

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  • 9watts October 31, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    He (the message seems like it is coming from someone who identifies as male) can now also no longer see out his picture window.

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  • Booji boy1976 October 31, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    Not one person I knew in 1977 who was hip to Bob Dobbs could ever afford to culturally appropriate his heavenly image while living in a house as that on Willamette Blvd. I call B.S. not very post punk Dada-ist if you ask me.

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  • David Hampsten October 31, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    I’m curious why anyone would be surprised by how people are parking their cars on lawns, sidewalks, or medians. It’s their most prized possession, their means to get to work and get around, a bit like your Surly/Salsa/Vanilla. They’ve been doing for years in East Portland and much of the rest of the USA, with local governments only responding to complaints. Apparently y’all don’t get outside of inner Portland very much, not even to the poorer sections of your own city.

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    • PDXCyclist October 31, 2018 at 11:04 pm

      Not sure we needed the condescension in the comment but I’ll bite: Every single house on N Willamette has a driveway and garage. I went through about 40 houses just now. So yes, I am surprised they park on lawns and sidewalks if their driveways are long enough to park 2-4 cars with another 1-2 in a garage. If you have more than 4 cars in your family and refuse to park the extra cars on side streets I don’t know what to say. I would also guess a family with 5+ cars isn’t working class as the comment I’m replying to implies. FWIW I am poor by median income designations. I do not think me being poor is an excuse to park my car on the sidewalk.

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      • David Hampsten November 1, 2018 at 1:06 am

        But garages aren’t for cars – most people use them to store their crap and their bikes. A driveway is where your guests park or your kids play. If God had not meant for cars to be stored on sidewalks and grassy strips, why would He have created driveway ramps? And as everyone knows, telephone poles are grown in sidewalks. The joys of American vernacular culture.

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        • Doug Hecker November 1, 2018 at 10:47 am

          While it is easy for people to look up on google earth or county records Or make cool one-liner statements about how wealthy someone might be and how they ought to use their driveway/ garage, this could very easily be about lack of housing. How silly should we feel when we assume how people are using their private property. I don’t think it’s a good look.

          I agree when you offer this alternative. Who knows, maybe people are housing people in their garage or in their storage areas in their house and God forbid they may need to use their garage as storage. It’s also hard to forget that when many of these people bought their homes they did have acces to the street in front of their homes and now they don’t. So while bike advocates cheer for the change, couldn’t they also be flexible with the people that have the most adaptation in this process?

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        • Johnny Bye Carter November 1, 2018 at 12:15 pm

          You forgot the /s at the end of your comment so others would know you were joking.

          Garages ARE for cars, and most people use them to store things other than cars.

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    • Johnny Bye Carter November 1, 2018 at 12:12 pm

      You’re responding to PDXCyclist. They didn’t say they were surprised. Nobody here is surprised that they’re doing it. We’re surprised that they either don’t know it’s illegal or don’t care.

      I’m surprised that people still think it’s OK to park directly in front of a fire hydrant. I’m not that surprised when it happens.

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    • soren November 1, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      a delicious nugget of social criticism enveloped in a nice coating of snark.
      this is my comment of the week.

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  • Kittens November 1, 2018 at 3:02 am

    Insane ***person insult deleted***! They feel REALLY passionate about something but have such a narrow obsession that anyone but themselves won’t get it. Usually appears on bumper stickers.

    And on a more basic level I want to ask the guy who put this up; THIS is the fight you feel is worth having at this time? Worth obliterating your view and spending perhaps hundreds of dollars printing a sign to communicate? Really? Maybe it’s a retiree thing?

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    • Lester Bunham November 1, 2018 at 8:04 am

      Hey! Name calling!

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    • Middle of The Road Guy November 1, 2018 at 9:54 am

      Funny – drivers likely feel the exact same way about cyclists.

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      • 9watts November 1, 2018 at 10:55 am

        You are very consistent in your attempts to suggest equivalencies here. Besides generally disagreeing with that impulse I don’t understand what specifically you are trying to say here.

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  • sikoler November 1, 2018 at 8:01 am

    This is a great opportunity to stop the “bad for cars = good for bikes” mentality and take the concerns of car users seriously.

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    • Bikeninja November 1, 2018 at 8:14 am

      You are right, we should replace it with bad for cars is good for the planet and the future of humanity.

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    • Dan A November 1, 2018 at 8:52 am

      Specifically, how? What would have done differently at this location?

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    • 9watts November 1, 2018 at 10:56 am

      You’re still stuck on that phrase. Time to get creative, man.

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  • meh November 1, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Always love when they start using the bylaws as justification. Cars may drive UPON the bike lane when entering or exiting driveways and alleyways. That means you can cross them to gain entrance, doesn’t mean you don’t have to cede right of way to those already in the bike lane.
    The part of they always miss is you cannot drive IN a bicycle lane. No using it to pass cars to make that right hand turn.

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    • oliver November 1, 2018 at 8:45 am

      This is a good point. I was going to ask that since the statute says that cars my drive into the bicycle lane, does that mean that automobile drivers don’t have to cede right of way to a vehicle (bicycle) already there?

      I know that drivers often use the bike lane to exit the main lane of travel out of courtesy to other drivers or fear of being rear ended (or both) But conflict arises from motor vehicles usurping the right of way of bicycle riders already operating in that lane.

      It is my opinion that motor vehicle operators should wait until the way is clear before turning across (or driving into) the bicycle lane. Does the law support this?

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 1, 2018 at 9:26 am

        oliver. the law absolutely gives the right of way to bicycle lane users. The statute is, “Failure to yield to a bicycle in a bicycle lane” … but as we see far too often, the laws are not always clear enough which gives police/judges a lot of discretion.. And discretion in a culture where one group carries the burden of bias can be a very unfair thing.

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        • Bald One November 1, 2018 at 10:31 am

          Does Tri-Met’s policy follow this law, or are they exempt from this?

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          • meh November 1, 2018 at 11:37 am

            Right of way always goes to the cyclist, but TriMet does get to pull into the lane to pickup and drop off passengers.

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      • Johnny Bye Carter November 1, 2018 at 12:55 pm

        “I know that drivers often use the bike lane to exit the main lane of travel out of courtesy to other drivers or fear of being rear ended (or both)”

        That’s illegal. In Oregon you are never allowed to drive in the bike lane, only across it.

        However, in Washington and California you ARE allowed to drive in the bike lane when you’re about to turn off the road. In that instance you have to yield the right of way to any vehicles (bicycles) already in the lane. People will often hurry to squeeze in front of cyclists when they do this.

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        • Bay Area Rider November 1, 2018 at 3:22 pm

          Actually in California if you are turning right and there is a bike lane you have to enter the bike lane and make your right hand turn from the bike lane. The bike lane is a regular travel lane in California and you have to initiate a right hand turn from the right most lane ie the bike lane if there is one. As far as I know Oregon is the only state where you turn across the bike lane instead of moving into the bike lane to make your right hand turn.

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          • raktajino November 2, 2018 at 12:22 pm

            Interesting. Does that reduce right hooks?

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            • Pete November 11, 2018 at 7:36 pm

              Doh, didn’t see BAR’s comment before posting. Yes, in my experience it does reduce right hooks, provided the cyclist takes appropriate action to pass the right-turning car(s) on the left. That takes some practice, and in my opinion a good mirror and hand-signaling habit. (I also believe it’s sometimes not for the faint of heart).

              An additional point is the CA Vehicle Code 21202 section 4 explicitly allows bicyclists to take the lane “wherever a right turn is permissible.” After moving here I learned to use this to my (safety) advantage in several key areas where I’d been right-hooked regularly (fortunately without collision).

              Something interesting that I’ve noticed… I live in the south bay now, near the new Apple campus. Many intersections nearby have been repaved and repainted, and lots of bike lanes have been ‘greened’ at intersections. I’ve noticed a considerable change in culture since these changes have spread – drivers are not moving to the right as the law says to, because they are (seemingly) confused about the meaning of the green paint, so they stay in lane before turning across the bike lane (sometimes even signaling – not a popular habit here).

              On one hand it’s forced me to adapt to (cautiously) stay in the bike lane approaching signaling cars that are staying put in their lane. On the other, I’ve had overly-cautious folks stop traffic to let me pass them on the right while they’re mid-turn, creating confusion for myself and the following drivers, and making it difficult and unsafe to maneuver left around them within the expected traffic flow. (Once you get in the habit of the intersection ‘dance’ around here, it’s hard to force yourself to pass turning drivers in their path of travel and fully trust them).

              A disclaimer, to be clear: I am not advocating one approach as better than another here, simply expressing my own experience after cycling extensively in both states.

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    • Pete November 11, 2018 at 7:20 pm

      “No using it to pass cars to make that right hand turn.”
      In Oregon, yeah, but not in many other states. In California you are required to drive in the bike lane to take that right turn.

      Sigh, gotta love our normalized national driver certification system (or lack thereof).

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  • Doug Hecker November 1, 2018 at 9:17 am

    I support this message “Now we just need the police…”

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  • Alex Reedin November 1, 2018 at 9:21 am

    Is it possible that the signmaker has a point? Yes, people biking in general have the right of way in the bike lane, but there are cases where asserting that right of way is reckless, aggressive, or merely rude.

    Example 1: If someone is slowly and carefully right-turning their car through the bike lane and into a driveway, it’s not cool to go ahead and squeeze between them and their driveway – better to just slow down (or stop, if necessary).

    Example 2: If someone has driven past their driveway, has their blinker on, and is trying to back in to their driveway, I think it’s common courtesy for someone biking to go ahead and stop so that the person driving can back into their driveway. No, it’s not legally required, but IMO it’s a nice thing to do. Backing in is hard enough to begin with.

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    • Doug Hecker November 1, 2018 at 9:58 am

      Great ideas. I dislike the situation where a driver speeds up to turn into the lane 25 feet in front of the right turn they are going to make in front of me. Usually I make the right turn as well and attempt to have a nice conversation.

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    • Bald One November 1, 2018 at 10:40 am

      Yes, it is common courtesy, and accessing a driveway when you live on a busy street can be a challenge. But, how far to we extend these courtesies you mention? To people stopped in the bike lane trying to parallel park in on-street parking? To delivery drivers looking to double park in the bike lane? To Uber/Lyft drop-off and pickups in the bike lane? To drivers looking to pass on the right a left-turning car stopped in the car lane? I agree with you, but the line tends to get blurry when you look at all the folks that want to encroach on bike lane spaces.

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    • 9watts November 1, 2018 at 11:01 am

      Are those very plausible but also narrowly drawn examples known to have been the cause of this person’s ire? Something about the lengths to which he’s gone here suggests to me a much larger culture war hangup which found expression in this sign.

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      • Doug Hecker November 1, 2018 at 11:34 am

        Maybe someone threatened to stab all of this persons tires?!?

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    • Johnny Bye Carter November 1, 2018 at 12:35 pm

      “Is it possible that the signmaker has a point?”

      No. People biking in general have the right of way in the bike lane. There are now laws about being nice. And when you start breaking the law to be nice then we lose order.

      Example 1: If I’m in the right lane and somebody is slowly turning their car into my right of way then they should be cited. It’s not cool to tell me that I should yield when I have the right of way. If we start doing this we lose order. They used a car to get there quickly so they can sit in their car for another 10 seconds while the lane they want to cross clears up.

      Example 2: If someone is backing up they don’t have the right of way and should be extra careful to let cyclists pass.

      In both examples you create a dangerous situation by stopping and possibly obstructing bicycle traffic. There have been several times that other cyclists or pedestrians have ceded their right of way to a motor vehicle and then I go past them with the right of way and the motor vehicle driver is now taking evasive action because they improperly thought that pedestrians could cede the right of way for everybody.

      We’ve already been cowering in the gutters so long that most have forgotten that cyclists have a lot of rights that they don’t use as a convenience to drivers.

      Those days are over.

      Hold those piloting deadly motor vehicles to all the laws that apply to them.

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  • Mick O November 1, 2018 at 10:01 am

    I want to make an offer on that house now. Clearly they are unhappy (and don’t care about the view) . Maybe they will let it go for $200k #oldportland

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  • bikeninja November 1, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Does anyone else get a sense of desperation and resignation from this homeowner. I think auto culture is like the Dinosaurs just before the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event. They are the still the kings of the jungle looking down at the little mammals scurrying about, but knowing their days are numbered and the mammals will replace them. I see this same look in the eyes of many of the motorists I pass as they are stuck in traffic.

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    • 9watts November 1, 2018 at 11:03 am

      I agree 100%. I think this captures a large share of what is going on around us. Our collective refusal to accept that we overdid it, that our system is doomed, and much of the material goodies we’ve come to cherish are not long for this world.
      No humility; no self reflection; no prudence. And this is the result.

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    • Doug Hecker November 1, 2018 at 11:33 am

      Or maybe they just want to pick their kids up from school or daycare. I personally drop my child off at daycare and then bike in from Mall 205. Sadly, we don’t know the entire story but rather the small portion that the banner states.

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      • Johnny Bye Carter November 1, 2018 at 12:57 pm

        “Or maybe they just want to pick their kids up from school or daycare.”

        Nothing stopping them from obeying the law while they do it.

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        • Doug Hecker November 1, 2018 at 9:11 pm

          You must be kidding Thanks for that cliche response. I won’t be so arrogant to come up with some over the top response to this situation. We could go back in time where this project wasn’t going to happpen and the friends of the willamette coalition mustered up 500 signatures from who knows where without asking the people who it would directly effect, like this person. But I digress, it could be much simpler then some “desperation, auto culture, or mammals running from dinosaurs.

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  • Stephen J Sanow November 1, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    I’m far too busy keeping my eyes on the road to avoid errant cellphone operators (probably 50% drivers) to even notice the sign.

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  • Johnny Bye Carter November 1, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    “This is amazing on many levels.”

    I first thought you said that because it was a pro-bike-lane sign, but I don’t think that’s the case.

    This seems like it could go 2 ways:

    * To me this is the driving homeowner misinterpreting the law so that they can justify driving in the bike lane while they approach the right turn into their driveway because they feel bad making other drivers wait 10 seconds behind them in their lane.

    * But it could be a message to other drivers passing them in the bike lane while they try to turn left into their driveway. Those other drivers can’t use the bike lane because they’re not turning. I don’t think this is what they’re concerned about.

    Because no issue is stated and no real context is given I read this as posting a law that allows drivers to use the bike lane on the approach to turn into their driveway.

    The driver doesn’t know there’s a difference between “making a turn” and “preparing to make a turn”, or between “entering a driveway” and “approaching a driveway”. You’re not allowed to drive in the bike lane, ever. You’re only allowed to drive “upon” it to cross it at the point of your turn.

    I’d like to be wrong.

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  • Orig_JF November 1, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    We do not know what caused this person to put this sign in his window. Another recent incident caused a person to publicly accuse a person riding a bike who may have slashed his tires. And this person not only accused the bicycle rider of slashing his tires, he then used the incident as a soap box to discuss bicycle licensing and registration by writing a letter to any newspaper/TV station/Blog that would listen to him.

    In this case, the person is posting his opinion on his own property. And yes, he is allowed to drive in a bicycle lane while accessing his driveway. If the home owner and his guests do this cautiously and courteously, I will give him some slack.

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    • Johnny Bye Carter November 1, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      “And yes, he is allowed to drive in a bicycle lane while accessing his driveway.”

      Just to be clear, because words matter, they’re allowed to drive “upon” the lane to access their driveway. That means they’re allowed temporary access over the lane in order to get to their driveway on the other side. They’re not allowed to drive “in” the lane as the do in other lanes. They cannot be in the bike lane in any other place except directly in front of their driveway while accessing the driveway.

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      • Orig_JF November 1, 2018 at 4:18 pm

        Cut me some slack 🙂

        ORS 811.050(1) (, which outlines when a motor vehicle must yield to a bicycle “upon” a bicycle lane, infers to me that mean the person riding the bike is in the bicycle lane. Therefore, under ORS 811.440, a motor vehicle turning into his private driveway may operate in the bicycle lane while doing so (although the terminology is “upon”). He just needs to perform the action cautiously and courteously.

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  • Gary B November 1, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    I’m intrigued to find out what you learn from talking to them, Jonathan. On the one hand, I’m relieved that it’s not an angry/intimidating sign. Like they’re not 100% against the new striping, but just struggling to adjust.

    On the other hand, I can’t make any sense of it. Presumably it had to derive from some conflict with a bicyclist. Surely they don’t have a daily problem literally getting into their driveway because of a never ending stream of bicyclists not “cutting them slack.” So they had some run-in with a bike user, maybe a near right hook, and argued? They felt that person should have understood the difficulty they’re experiencing? And the response was to spend a lot of money on a generic message displayed to all, with a narrow chance of reaching this one person they felt didn’t “cut them some slack”? So bizarre. Like I said, I can’t wait to know more.

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  • mark smith November 1, 2018 at 9:56 pm

    This is right up there with “Cars rights!” on Portlandia.

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  • Josh G November 2, 2018 at 9:43 am

    perhaps the Church of Subgenius would appreciate more implements of husbandry back in the city

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  • Alex Gauthier November 10, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    Um yeah, lots of presumption in these comments. Shocking that someone might have a legit beef with the cycling community. Also, the author was invited to speak with the home owner and declined to do so before publishing this. Not classy. They DO use their driveway and the new stripes are not the issue. That’s all I know. Maybe the writer will edit this or clarify but who are we kidding, most of you already passed your judgement and have moved on to crucify the next person based on one badly researched article and won’t even bother to learn more anyway. Lame.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 10, 2018 at 10:53 pm

      Hi Alex,

      I was never invited to speak with the homeowners before publishing this. They did however just email me today! So I plan to talk with them soon and will consider a follow up post. Thanks for the comment.

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      • BW November 14, 2018 at 7:54 pm

        Why didn’t you contact the owner prior to writing the article? A simple knock on their door or a note to call/ email doesn’t seen too far-fetched. I’m sure their house is easy to find considering the size of the sign, or you could have asked whomever sent you the photo. Speculative articles such as this further divides when we should all actively work together.

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