On Monday morning we highlighted a Tweet from Portlander Steven Mitchell who rides regularly on SW Terwilliger Blvd.
“SW Terwilliger bike lanes are terribly dangerous right now,” he wrote, tagging @BikePortland and @PBOTInfo, “Piles of slick leaves and standing water. Be safe!”
Then yesterday he posted video (watch it below) that showed him trying to avoid the slimy accumulation of leaves, only to be the victim of an unsafe pass by a man driving a pickup truck.
I have a driver here @PBOTinfo , that would also appreciate it if you could clear the bike lane so I can safety ride in it. pic.twitter.com/jOp0EoylRO
— Steven Mitchell (@stevenrmitch) November 1, 2018
After the man seemed to have scraped Mitchell during the close pass, he then pull over in a turnout, got out of his vehicle and approached him. The truck driver threatened Mitchell with an expletive-laced rant of insults and seemed to have gotten right up into his personal space. The good news about this interaction is that — as often happens when people get out of their bubbles and engage each other face-to-face — cooler heads prevailed. The driver went from calling Mitchell a “bitch” when he first jumped out of his truck, to referring to him as “brother” right before he got back in his truck and drove away.
The bad news about this interaction is that it happened in the first place.
Why did it happen? Because the bike lane was so full of fallen leaves and other debris that Mitchell was biking in the adjacent lane that’s shared with auto users. The truck driver didn’t think he should be there.
“Leaving the leaves too long means an inch thick layer of caked leaves that are dangerous and slippery, especially going downhill in curves at 25 mph.”
— Barbara Stedman, Hillsdale resident
It was just one week ago today we featured another serious road rage interaction that happened near the Moda Center. What got lost in the drama of that story is why it happened in the first place: high-stress roadway conditions that lead to people taking out their frustrations on each other.
The situation on SW Terwilliger is especially frustrating because it stems from a problem that happens every year when leaves, mud and branches from heavily wooded area around the road (a major north-south bikeway) spill into the bike lane. (Leaves in bike lanes are a perennial problem all over Portland.)
Barbara Stedman lives in Hillsdale. I commuted into downtown with her and her family back in 2012. She was worried about the debris in the bike lanes back then, and she remains concerned today. She responded to our Tweet by writing, “They [PBOT] just don’t sweep often enough, especially in leaf season. After a storm like this weekend they should be out first thing Monday morning. Leaving the leaves too long means an inch thick layer of caked leaves that are dangerous and slippery, especially going downhill in curves at 25 mph. Yes, you can move into the full lane, but then you have aggressive people in cars who don’t like to slow down to the speed limit.”
That appears to be exactly what happened to Mitchell yesterday.
We’re glad that this incident ended without anyone getting hurt and we’re grateful that Mitchell has such amazing conflict resolution skills (listen to the full exchange for a master class at talking to other road users).
We’re also glad to hear that PBOT has dispatched a maintenance crew to the clean up the bike lanes. If you ride SW Terwilliger, please let us know what the conditions are like so we can make sure it has been cleaned up. Remember you can reach PBOT’s Maintenance Dispatcher by calling (503) 823-1700 or via email at email@example.com.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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Steven: Excellent job keeping your cool when confronting this **personal insult deleted – come on, Hello, Kitty, you know better than that. – Jonathan**
I usually refrain from that sort of thing, but in this case it was well deserved. I also support your decision to modify my post.
Great job deescalating, but this should be reported to the PPD.
They won’t do anything.
Now that’s not fair, Q.
The police take slow-moving (entitled) bikers impeding traffic very, very seriously:
Maybe not. Likely not. But they should hear about it.
Time for another stop sign enforcement action at Ladd’s Addition. /s/
Yes they will. I speak from experience, what are you speaking from?
Wet leaves are no joke–my only broken bone on a bike was caused by hitting them. In motor racing they’re looked on as the equivalent of hitting an oil slick. So, since riders can be forced into riding on this slick stuff by lack of road maintenance, why don’t we quit wringing our hands about “entitled cyclists,” eh?
Word. I AM entitled to ride in a safe manner. No driver is entitled to risking my life at their whim.
Human beings are not terribly adept at propelling 4-10 ton vehicles at 25-70 mph and there is always some risk that a person walking or rolling will be hit, injured, maimed, or killed. Demanding that “no driver is entitled to risk your life at their whim” is essentially asking for a ban on driving entirely (or full separation of modes).
Agreed. And as a driver, I frequently remind myself that I don’t get to decide for other people what is safe for them– just like others can’t decide for me what is safe for me.
So for example, just because you CAN turn right on red doesn’t mean you are REQUIRED to, especially when you can’t see what oncoming traffic is doing because of obstructions like other vehicles, overgrown landscaping, etc.
And just because someone is riding in the car lane instead of the bike lane doesn’t mean they’re being a jerk– from behind the windshield it is difficult to see some of the bike lane hazards. Although the pile up of leaves and tree debris in the bike lane is much easier to see what broken glass strewn in the bike lane.
The problem with leaves in bike lanes is true all over this town, such as along Bybee/28th by the golf course, and I’m sure numerous other places. Poor bike lane maintenance is another argument against platinum status as a bike city. Maybe PBOT should be sending fact-finding missions to study leaf management in other locales.
The problemon Terwilliger is especially pronounced because it’s curvy and hilly. Bikes easily go easily at 25mph downhill.
The only place I have crashed, twice, in the last 23 years of commuting is on SW Terwilliger due to the wet leaves both times. It is a real hazard this time of year.
Vancouver BC sweeps all of its streets on a regular schedule year round. This takes care of leaves, but also prevents long-term car/trailer/boat/rv storage on the street, and is actually very important for keeping our rivers clean. I honestly think the City could be compelled to sweep the street by a lawsuit because of the toxic load going into the river and harming salmon, and other endangered species.
It kills me that the city send street sweepers out but don’t bother getting anyone to move their cars. Total waste of time and money. I lost my mind once, left Portland and moved to Minneapolis. When it snows there they are serious about plowing. It’s a job the city needs to do. If you don’t have your car moved and they are gonna plow your street, it gets towed. Street gets adequately plowed, you probably learned a lesson. Keeps people from storing dead cars on the street too.
I used to live in NYC, in parts of the city they sweep twice a week and you have to move your car or get a Department of Sanitation citation. They sweep for everything, leaves, grit, trash, dog feces, anything. NYC owns its own fleet of garbage trucks and road sweepers, as well as salt spreaders. When it snow in NYC, the Dept. of Sanitation fits snowplows to the front of their trucks and plows the city. I remember one blizzard dropping 24 inches of snow one Sunday, by the Monday morning commute just about every road in the five boroughs had been plowed.
Keeping the streets clear of detritus is a civic function that some cities take more seriously than others. Then again, the public purse is not bottomless.
“toxic load going into the river and harming salmon”
How exactly does street sweeping have this effect?
You lost me there.
It’s pretty clear that the commenter meant sweeping reduces toxic materials entering the river. By, you know, sweeping them up rather than letting the rain wash them down.
I don’t think it works like that at all.
My hunch would be that the toxins (mostly invisible, mostly underneath) have an easier, quicker time getting washed into the river if the bulky debris (visible, on top) is removed. If anything, piles of leaves slow down the rate at which the nasties underneath the leaves get washed away, downstream.
If anything, the toxic load would probably go up from frequent street sweeping. Those street sweepers leak at least as much fluids, brake and tire dust, as your average car or pickup. Let’s not forget the source of toxins, which has nothing to do with leaves or Fall.
Assuming this is true, you think a sweeper would remove less non-leafy debris than was left behind by single typical car? If so, we need new sweepers.
The comment to which you replied was about the toxic contributions by street sweepers, not about leaves.
Indeed it was. I was pointing out the rather questionable assertion that sweepers may emit more toxic materials than they sweep up.
This is getting awfully muddled. As long as we were just talking about leaves this was straightforward enoug. But MaxD introduced toxins…
A sweeper may sweep, but the toxic gunk isn’t thereby rendered harmless; it is just exposed to the next rain or moved somewhere else. My point was that the sweeper machine itself is going to be responsible for net additions to this gunk.
My point was and is that maxD’s suggestion that sweeping leaves pays water quality dividends is questionable.
You do know that street sweepers remove “gunk” from the streets and don’t just push it around, right?
Yes, that is what their bellies are for: leaves go in there. The toxins, on the other hand, may or may not. My hunch is that the next rain washes the toxins that had been covered by the leaves into the gutter and the storm drain which sends it to the river.
The TriMet maintenance staff were the worst last winter. While I applaud their effort to shovel the sidewalk clear at the Bybee MAX Station, I have to scorn the decision to place the snow right into the bike lanes where it quickly froze into ice sculptures later that day and obstructed the right of way for days afterwards!
Part of the problem of crews shoveling snow and other debris such as leaves into the street is the crowned design of our roadways that directs water, debris, and rocks away from the centerline and out towards the margins where the bike lanes are placed. It remains there until deliberately removed. Many Roman roads, not all mind you, directed drainage away from the margins (where buildings and homes might be present and could flood) and instead toward the centerline with drainage along the middle depression of the street. Think of how relatively clear the bike lanes are under such a design where the convenience of people driving cars is not placed above all others.
Hard to imagine the conditions being reversed: the lane for cars dangerously unusable and the bike lane clear. Not to mention the person on a bike threatening the person in a car.
I wonder why?
Because cars “sweep” the lane clear.
…right into the bike lane.
True with gravel, not so much with leaves that tend to get ground up by cars. Regardless, the blame lies with physics and trees far more than with PBOT and cars.
And leafblowers in areas that get attended to by landscaping companies. I watched the bike lane adjacent to a church and some other company get filled by a dude and his trusty leafblower yesterday. Banning leafblowers is now officially on my mayoral platform.
I’ll vote for you.
Thanks! That makes two of us.
I’d ban leafblowers because gas-powered two stroke engines are a moral abomination. (Actually, scratch that, all fossil fuel-powered engines are a moral abomination.)
Are you okay with electric leaf blowers?
Extremists in general are moral abominations.
If you want my leaf blower you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers.
If leafblowers are outlawed then only outlaws will own leafblowers.
You tell ’em, Dad!
I have a garden appliance that is both a blower and a vac. I use it in the vac mode most often, and empty the chopped up leaf litter into my green compost bin. It’s not that hard.
And the roads are crowned where debris settles along the margins. It is an interaction between the design of the space and the users of the space. For example, a reversed crowned road would accumulate debris in the center no matter how many cars drove through it. The design is a principal contributor to this phenomenon and an inversion of the existing design would fulfill 9watts’ scenario however rhetorical the question was intended.
True. And with that kind of grade when people fall asleep at the wheel their cars will drift into oncoming car traffic rather than into the bike lane.
I believe this is incorrect. As a test, I would propose you rake a pile of leaves into the center of your crowned street, and observe what happens. Do the leaves drift over to the gutters, or do they get mushed in place where they are, ground into smaller bits until they essentially disappear?
Just add water.
Rain will take care of the part you’re suspicious about.
There’s a residential, unstriped street near me that has very little crown; a few inches crown for a 40′ wide street. There are a couple big maples that drop lots of leaves over a section of it maybe 100′ long. Since it’s a quiet, lightly traveled street, many cars drive down the middle unless there’s an oncoming vehicle. As long as it’s dry so that leaves are light and blow around even after they’re run over, they end up along the curb lane, not in the middle. I think what’s happening is that the leaves are repeatedly randomly distributed until they reach an area where distribution stops; that’s the shoulders. I think road crown plays only a very small part of that distribution.
haha! comment awaiting moderation, and it’s about the least contentious post you will read today. 🙂
Also, cars cause the leaves to be in the bike lane in the first place because they push them into it.
Unfortunately, I don’t think these conditions are hard to imagine for a lot of drivers. Every stop light renders the “car” lane unusable as it becomes backed up with cars, but the bike lane starts to look awfully tempting as a way to sneak up and make one’s right on red (I see this often, but seemingly less frequently in Washington County). Also, as mentioned in the post on driveway access along Willamette Blvd., any time a driver stops to make a left turn, other drivers will blindly
swerve“merge” into the bike lane to get around (I see this with increasing frequency where I ride).
Regarding “threatening the person in a car”, the key word there is “person”, as I also imagine that threatening the car, e.g., hitting a mirror or scratching paint, is perceived at the same level as threatening the person inside.
I may have twisted the original spirit of your comment, but I think imagining it from the opposite perspective can be illuminating, even if it is just my imagination.
While the conversation did cool down unfortunately this driver learned nothing and will absolutely do something like this again. PPD needs to issue driving citations at minimum, preferably criminal charges. Whenever drivers want to stop and talk I’ve learned it’s a complete waste of my time, do enjoy watching them standing in the road all by themselves after I’m long gone though.
I had one conversation with a motorist who actually listened then thanked me for informing them about how they endangered me. That’s one conversation. Most don’t go that way.
I guess I’m odd bird out here. When motorists deign to stop for a chat, I usually find it worthwhile. True, I did have one MMA guy who was clearly feeling his (likely injected) androgens threaten my life three or four times before everything chilled (no one can stay angry when they have driven to a nice place to walk their dogs especially when the dogs like the stranger who’s calmly dealing with the rage).
I usually assume motorists don’t know anything and that their dangerous actions are the result of poor training and misinformation. I just walk them through the relevant statutes and cast the blame on the city/county traffic planners and engineers. We almost always end up on the same side: our traffic engineers make our roads more difficult for all users than need be, so we need to partner up to deal well with the mess they have created. (I don’t know what I would do if I ended up on the roadside with one of my local traffic engineers. 🙂 )
A common concern among motorists is what the guy behind them is thinking. By being a living, breathing, somewhat friendly old guy on the bike, they often decide the person behind them can wait a little longer next time so that I can safely arrive at my granddaughters’ schools (or my disabled friend’s house or wherever). Very few people really mean harm, at least once they think about it for a moment, and the few that do won’t stop.
About half of the “conversations” I have with people driving are productive. It may help that I tend to seek out these conversations when I see egregiously dangerous behavior directed at others.
“Whenever drivers want to stop and talk I’ve learned it’s a complete waste of my time,”
I’ve had about a 20% success rate explaining statutes or the situation to people driving cars where they seem to accept what I’m telling them and are apparently interested in improvement. It doesn’t make a difference all of the time, but worth doing for the times that it does. Maybe it saves a life someday. For the rest, I tell them I have their plate info and can associate that with the address where the vehicle is registered (even if not always true), and let their imaginations run wild.
Not unusual, the driver walks away thinking “it’s all good” not realizing that he almost killed someone, was breaking the law, and he escalated the situation to justifiable violence. He will do this again, and he will be the first to make the case that people on bikes are entitled and disrespectful of drivers.
This is scary stuff with actual violence (the car) and threat of escalation being very real. I always ride with a front and back camera. I think that being taped helps me with my anger management and I suspect that reminding the antagonist that a camera is involved may make them think twice about throwing a punch. If a crime is committed, the video will show the actual events. I wish I didn’t feel this was necessary.
Always have a camera in plain sight. Never mention it to an aggressor. Let them do what they want to do so it will be recorded candidly.
“gave you a courtesy honk so you can pull over so faster vehicles can pass” Very confused person here. He’s thinking of the law about slow moving vehicles with more than 5 following behind…does not apply to bikes and there was nothing slow about that bike anyway. If he expected the bicyclist to pull over and stop in that crap he doesn’t know much about momentum and the amount of material on the side of the road. Adrenaline from riding on a busy street would have made me loose my head. I can’t believe how calm he was.
It is interesting that the rider was easily keeping pace with the car in front and appeared to be moving at a reasonable speed for the conditions if not at the speed limit. I had a similar experience where a driver threatened me for being in the lane when I was keeping pace with traffic and the bike lane was blocked by construction. I did report it and the police said they contacted the driver. The police offer suggested I use video because they would prosecute if I had video. The drivers actions clearly showed criminal intent. This is not a driving infraction and the DA should be reviewing this video. Don’t assume they won’t do anything if you don’t try.
I have to take the lane in several areas due to wet leaves, and I am worried that the sight of a bicycle in the lane will cause a homicidal rage. Interestingly, I don’t run into this when there is not a bike lane.
Driver should be cited for contacting the rider and parking in the bike lane. Then he can go yell at the judge.
But it’s a lengthy process and we’d rather just cower.
“But it’s a lengthy process and we’d rather just cower.”
Based on your accusatory response I have to assume that you’ve never attempted this process either.
I’m confused because I don’t see how that’s accusatory. I didn’t say we’d done anything wrong. Please explain. It seemed like a factual (yet sad) statement.
And no, I haven’t been through the process. But I’ve seen plenty of people document how lengthy it is. I’ll start the process next week and get back to you.
“We’d rather just cower” seems accusatory to me. And a bit ironic, given that bikeportland readers seem to me to include many of the least cowering people you could find in these matters.
It sure would be nice if the driver received a visit from PPD’s community liaison, who could explain to him the relevant laws & rights around this situation.
I only hit vehicles when it is in my favor to do so and when they do something that warrants it. I don’t look up their license plate number and stab their tires though.
Also, where’s Chloe, oh that’s right, she’s in East co drumming up votes instead of fixing the streets.
We might be lower income out here, but we’re not stupid. Chloe won’t be getting many votes out this way.
You think Eudaly should be fixing streets?
We experinces some road rage as well yesterday. We went into the lane to avoid leaves, car driver passes us (although we were going at the speed limit), goes halfway into the opposite lane only to just narrowly avoid oncoming traffic. We caught up to him at the traffic light a minute later. Wonder if he felt better risking his life and the one of the person in the other car just to show us. Of course he was also on the phone at the light.
Sounds more like road impatience, or maybe road entitlement.
I don’t know about you, but these kinds of passes always terrify me. There’s this sinking feeling in my gut that I’m about to witness two cars collide head on directly in my path and there’s very little you can do to mitigate this situation as a cyclist.
This. I ride mostly in rural Wash. Co. and I’ve lost track of the number of times a driver gave me room while passing, but did it going in the other lane before the brow of a hill, or around a completely blind sharp curve in the road. If that many drivers are in such a hurry they don’t even give a damn about their OWN life, how can I ever expect any respect for mine?
This behavior is however is only overshadowed by the one even more bat**** crazy driver behavior, when on mostly empty roads a driver behind you happens to come up on you at the same time as an oncoming driver and other then slow for even a second for the opposing car to pass before overtaking you still forces through the middle between you and the oncoming car. Classic rural chestnut that one.
Nothing rural about that behavior. I have drivers do that every single time I ride to work on Cornell Rd EB heading up to Skyline. Scary as hell since there’s absolutely nowhere for anyone to go. Oncoming traffic has a choice between a head-on collision and a ravine. Should the worst case occur (which I imagine it eventually will) I’ve already decided I’ll go swimming in the ditch for hope of the cars’ mayhem passing above me.
Have you ever ventured over to the mulit-use path along Hwy 26? It’s likely a bit out of your way, but I used to ride that consistently when I commuted between NW Portland to Columbia Sportswear and it was fantastic compared to riding Cornell. It’s clean, quiet, and you get to pass all the cars sitting in traffic on the freeway during the evening. Plus, there’s the joy of riding through beautiful Washington Park on your way in/out of town. Maybe a route to check out if you want to stay outta the ditch.
And this is what happens when infrastructure for bikes is poorly implemented and maintained. Yes, the motorist was waaaay out of line and clearly has an overgrown sense of entitlement and perhaps some anger management issues. Like rain in winter, this is to be expected (not to be confused with normal or routine, but the likelihood of such people driving around is pretty high).
Not all bike infrastructure is a good idea. Infrastructure that forces people on bikes to choose between the hazards of the “bike space” and infuriated motorists who get violently angry when a cyclist leaves those spaces is a failure. Sadly, such infrastructure is our most common way of building bikey stuff.
I’m not sure how this would be solved with infrastructure. This is a maintenance issue, isolated to a few rainy weeks in the fall every year.
How many times a year do you think the city actually cleans those bike lanes? Why aren’t they prioritized to be cleaned at the most necessary times of the year? And how great do you think that ‘bike infrastructure’ is in the first place, even when perfectly clean?
Literally every single street in Portland needs to be swept right now. The leaves all fall at the same time. Much like snow plows, I don’t favor the City owning and staffing a thousand street sweepers to meet a 2 week demand.
I agree in general we need better maintenance of bike lanes. But these problems this time of year are still going to happen.
Yes leaves pose a challenge. And no it wouldn’t make sense to invest millions of dollars in equipment that would only be used for a small part of the year (c.f. school buses!) but what could be done is for PBOT to come up with a plan, a strategy, and communicate that plan to its publics. In the absence of a clearly communicated strategy this feels like so much else in this town: a shrug, a very low priority assigned to those who are not in cars.
What kind of plan do you have in mind?
Well, there is nothing mysterious about the problem (leaves), or the periodicity (Fall), or the solution (get rid of them according to some schedule). If PBOT currently has a plan I’m not aware of it, though it sounds like they have equipment and staff which can be summoned to take care of this.
So… my stab at a plan/communication strategy would be to identify what their capacity and schedule is and invite input from us on how to tweak, improve it. Initiating a dialogue would show an appreciation of the problem and a willingness to tackle it sincerely. At the moment I’m not aware of anything that approaches that. I think one of the things PBOT does worst is communication.
For the umpteenth time I am going to suggest that PBOT deputize someone (Dylan Rivera?) to engage in a regular Q&A here on bikeportland, to defuse some of the mistrust, potential misunderstanding.
I think the program at PBOT goes something like: it’s our job to sweep every street in the city a certain number of times per year (6 for artery, 2 or 1 for residential), so if we’re off sweeping some random street that’s loaded up with parked cars and has no visible debris on it according to schedule, we cannot dedicate any resource to a non-scheduled sweep of a high-use street with known seasonal debris issues, called-in complaint, safety hazards, bike-lane issue, or otherwise high level of debris. Definitely could use some smart tech/analytics or at least institutional memory to go after the known bad actors in targeted fashion.
Wow, would it be crazy to sweep a handful of critical and heavily used bike lanes in locations with known major leaf-fall as many as 3 or 4 times between mid-Oct and Dec 1? Would this just be such an enormous strain on resource and cause such undue hardship to some random residential street where the sweeper has to drive around between parked cars doing a half/arsed job – pushing their schedule out?
Mostly I want to understand why PBOT seems to think consistently leaving us in the dark about their plans, their capacity is wise.
However, they do seem to be perfectly willing to pay their street sweeping crews overtime to do the extra work of cleaning residential streets in Ladd’s Addition and Laurelhurst on weekends in November and December during ‘leaf season’, this year for no charge at all to homeowners who are too lazy to take care of this task themselves. Smells like hypocrisy to me…
Well, that shows some of what the problem is right there. I took a quick look at SW Portland on the map. SW Miles Place, which is part of the Willamette Greenway Trail, so gets far more bike traffic than most of the streets in the area that ARE swept, doesn’t get swept at all.
Plus, right now, it looks like someone dumped a truckload of gravel on it, all washed their by the rain, coming from a street/drainage project uphill from there that PBOT abandoned halfway through last summer, and all set to be washed into the new drainage system that BES installed just a year or so ago.
Reread my first sentence. “…poorly implemented and maintained.”
In this case, the infrastructure fails because PBoT had no plans to deal with the maintenance necessary for it to succeed. Knowing that was the case, perhaps they should reconsider what, where and how they are doing things. Is it somehow okay to build something to nominally to increase safety, among other purposes, that in fact creates a serious hazard 5% or more of the time?
Commenters have already mentioned one path forward: If you’re going to put bike lanes on streets that will have leaf accumulation and not collect the leaves before they create a hazard, reverse the crowning (and thus the location of the storm grates) and collect the leaves in the center instead of out where the bike lanes are. Such a plan would take decades to fully implement, but it would be well under way if it had been started twenty years ago when PDX began trying to be bikey.
There are other solutions available as well. My point is that PBoT isn’t even looking to solve this problem they have created. They just shrug and do what the motorists are doing (blame these problems on the cyclists).
This is the sort of thing that makes this particular cyclist distrust entities like PBoT that claim they will make things better for us. I’ve been around far too many blocks to believe these folks have much of a clue. Leaf-collecting bike lanes are kind of like “protected” bike lanes in my mind: when done as they are currently being done, they not only don’t substantially improve the cycling experience, they can make relatively minor hazards become many-fold greater.
WOW ALL THAT RACIST ANTI WHITE BOGOTRY MUSTVE REALLY STUNG I WONDER IF THIS COULD BE CONSIDERED A HATE CRIME
We can hear you just fine; no need to SHOUT!
Let’s see, attempted assault with a deadly weapon, threats, menacing…oh wait, it was a car, not a gun..right and the biker had it coming for daring to go the speed limit? That’s how it’s seen until the law is changed. In all the cities I have been in , Portland is the only one where I felt the need-and do carry a firearm. People get super up tight, especially in the rain and the dark.
Oh, man. I can’t even recall how many times this attitude has been evident in drivers I’ve encountered. Only one has stopped to “chat” and try to tell me what’s what, but the feeling that, as a driver, one has a “right” to pass any bicycle, anywhere, any time, regardless of conditions or whether or not the bicycle is being operated at or above the speed limit—it’s pervasive. Also the inherent entitlement in the drivers statement “it’s five seconds! What’s it gonna cost you?” Then the superbly calm response, “what’s it going to cost you?” But the feeling that absolutely nothing (except for traffic signals, other cars, construction, school children, etc.) should ever slow me down if I’m driving my car drives me nuts. Countless times I’ve heard drivers complain about how bicyclists “force me into oncoming traffic! It’s dangerous!” Why? Because slowing down is not even considered an option—even if, as in this situation, the bicyclist is exceeding the speed limit!! I could handle complaints about how bicyclists “force me to slow down”, that’s appropriate for short periods, but don’t tell me I’m “forcing” you into oncoming traffic. This encounter just highlights so many things that are wrong with how we view and use roads.
Oh—very nice job remaining calm, Mr. Mitchell. I do believe you might give bicyclists a good name, unless it doesn’t work that way…
The old ‘I own a bike too’ defense, LOL! Next thing, he’s an ‘avid cyclist’. WTF?
You can tell he’s an avid cyclist by his body build. Most likely out looking for his 3rd bike on this particular trip…
So what does an avid cyclist look like?
I don’t know, but one of my friends enjoys fishing for avids.
It’s a crazy world where a video of a woman reporting a car blocking a crosswalk inspires outrage, goes viral, and is picked up by multiple media outlets. While a video of an aggressive driver recklessly hitting a person on a bike in a manner that could have killed him will likely be considered business as usual and result in a collective shrug.
What’s crazy to me is the recommendation of riding your bicycle with two cameras. Before you get on, make sure to turn on your front light, front camera, rear light, rear camera. Upon parking at location, take all equipement off bike so not to be stolen and then 5 minutes later once you’ve grabbed your grocery item, place everything back on your bike.
Kind of sounds like a sorry state of bicycling in Portland. I just want to ride my bike 🙁
No kidding! I always recommend three.
Just pray–for permanent $150bbl oil/$8.00gal. US gasoline.
$8 / liter more like it
Just yesterday I got after a business near me for blowing all the leaves from its property into the street. It’s been an ongoing battle with them. I mention things like it being dangerous for bikes, clogs drains, etc. They have as good a reputation as any organization in Portland for being pro-bicycle, pro-environment, etc. but they just don’t seem to care.
I assume it’s OK for downtown businesses to blow leaves into the road. I know it’s not OK for them to blow the trash there too.
When was the last time you saw somebody sweeping downtown? I wish they would ban leave-blowers.
You must go to bed early and not live downtown, because the hose trucks are out pretty regularly, washing everything down, but not before midnight or 2 AM.
Still, no excuse for the laziness of blowing leaves into the street and leaving them there, they don’t magically disappear when you do that. My guess is that it’s a contractor doing the ‘work’.
“You must go to bed early and not live downtown, because the hose trucks are out pretty regularly, washing everything down, but not before midnight or 2 AM.”
The hose trucks have people sweeping accompanying them?
which business ?
That’s a legitimate question, but I’m not comfortable saying. I have been threatened and retaliated against by them.
All of them, would be a sufficient and fairly accurate response.
If you want a particular case, start with the General Service Administration. Groundskeepers at the US District Courthouse are blowing leaves in the street every morning when I go by.
Tell them it’s illegal, because it is.
Then you can call the city and report a code violation. Jerks.
Who do you call at the City to report blowing leaves into the street? PBOT? It’s actually a State Highway also, so ODOT, too? I may try that (calling both).
When I commuted from St. John’s to Downtown along Willamette and Greeley, this manner of hostile driving happened to me nearly every other week between Oct and April. There is really no terror like being on a bike in the early morning hours of winter with a nice rain coming down, being forced to take the car lane because the bike lane is flooded and/or choked with leaves and/or containing piles of gravel, and a car driver comes up and presses on their horn for a solid 3-5 seconds while gunning their engine. Thankfully, I can only recall twice where the driver actually passed me and then came into the bike lane trying to intimidate me.
This is our Platinum Bike City.
And you called in those obstructions, of course?
Like that works? Especially during this time of year? I was once told by PBOT maintenance dispatch that I’ll have to take my sweeping request to the city commissioner in charge of the bureau to get anything really done about it.
Another case of forgotten SW Portland. A street that was built as a park.
That was a masterful job of remaining calm, Steven.
The pick-up driver should definitely be cited for a whole bunch of things. His sentence should include spending more time on a bike (after all he claims to be a bicyclist) so he can feel the unsafe conditions that motorists like him inflict on bicyclists. He should also be required to be featured in a PSA and do community service lecturing at schools and elsewhere telling how he put cyclists at risk.
We need more cops, DAs, elected officials, and the spokespersons working for cities, counties, and ODOT to ride bikes on Terwilliger and elsewhere to experience the conditions that bicyclists face. Unfortunately, few of them have a clue how bad things are out there for cyclists because of the decisions they make or don’t make.
I’ve been thinking about it, but I’ve GOT to get cameras.
Wow a road-rager and racist all in one. Glad it turned out as well as it did.
Seriously, ‘buried’ in leaves ‘slimy’ accumulation? If you don’t have the bike-handling skills and can’t get the proper tires to ride through this minimal amount of debris, then you should be on TriMet. If you really expect the bike lanes to be swept every day (which is about how much accumulation this is), then you are living in a dream world.
Stay hard, bro.
I also found this odd, and never had a problem riding (slowly) through this stuff. In previous posts riders complain about not being able to go 25 mph. Slow down! Those leave aren’t going away and there’s more to come.
There are two types of riders: Those who have crashed as the result of leaves and other debris in the road and those who will. I graduated from the second group to the first after 30 years of riding. I hope you are as fortunate.
Goodness, I seem to have sprained something when my eyes rolled too hard.
So in your mind it’s more reasonable for cyclists in this city to purchase wider tires with more tread (which may require a different bike/fork) and to ride slower in the bike lane full of debris so that drivers like this one don’t have to just be content with going 5 mph over the speed limit and not being able to tailgate the car 100 yards down the road which is going the same speed? That or take trimet, really? Is this supposed to be satire?
Tires won’t even help that much — if there are leaves between your tire and the road, and you steer or brake, you’re going down.
So I have to agree with the rider in the video. Take the lane. Be safe.
If I’m biking at 25 mph downhill on a street posted at 25 mph I take the lane regardless of the presence or absence of a bike lane (or the mandatory sidepath law).
To be fair, the rider said he was doing 30. Is that safe in those conditions??
No, I’m saying that in any area that has trees that drop their leaves, there will be times when there are leaves on the pavement. I have seen, on a windy day, a bike lane clean, and within 15 minutes there is a new layer of leaves. It is unreasonable to expect authorities to sweep bike lanes more than a couple times a month (if you’re lucky). The alternative, then, is to adjust your riding style and equipment for the conditions. I commuted in Eugene, and Portland for about 30 years and never once slipped and fell on slippery leaves. and, I used nothing wider than a 28 mm road tire.
Steven did adjust his riding style. He was riding above the speed limit in the lane. HK is right it doesn’t matter how wide your tire is there is still a chance you can slip on those leaves. Why ride on them at all if you don’t have to and you’re not impeding traffic? Demanding that people ride on tires you think won’t slip and in a manner you claim will keep them from having an accident is just as unreasonable as the person that wanted to pass so they could tailgate the car 100 yards down the road.
It’s great you never slipped on those tires sounds more like luck than skill to me though. Accidents happen. Ride safe 🙂
I thought your first comment was satire, but I guess not. I’m perplexed. I’ve even had my car go sliding on leaves when coming to a stop or leaving a stop. It’s surprising to me that someone that so much cycling experience that you’re insensitive to this, Steve.
The leaves I’m seeing are wet and practically glued down to the road. They are not blowing around much.
If you get mad because there’s a bike doing the speed limit in front of your while driving your car then you should be on TriMet.
We should be catering to people, not telling them where they can safely cower in fear.
I wouldn’t want to walk, bike, or drive on those leaves.
What can we seriously do about the leaves in the bike lane? I would contribute $ to have them cleaned up once/week in the fall.
I contributed to transportation system maintenance on Wednesday when I put gas in my car and earlier in the week with a big check to the Multnomah County Tax Collector.
There are always going to be dangerous conditions, today it’s leaves, tomorrow it might be a fallen branch, etc. The actual problem is that it’s still socially acceptable (and sometimes encouraged) to display anger when complete strangers delay your commute by a few seconds.
How about resurrecting the Disco Trike into a Video Velo with a big screen, and taking a group ride with that video looping for all to see?
Exemplary job of keeping your cool, @stevenrmitch !
City’s street sweeping program is so outdated. It’s time for PBOT to get a targeted or “smart” approach to street sweeping, with focus on safety, bike lane priority, hot spots, and seasonality, and less on same old conventions which drive current plan.
Biked by the Moda center last week, and noticed that their landscaping crew had used leafblowers to blow all of the leaves from the sidewalk and parking strip along Interstate into the bike lane. They created a nice and neat 4″ deep complete cover of the bike lane, hiding the strormdrains and other hazards underneath. Forced me to ride outside the lane. Outrageous practice now common that I see for many commercial landscaping crews – just blow all the leaves into the street and be done.
Yes, have you seen the new super blowers some of the commercial crews are using? They are basically a giant fan on wheels, looks to be about a 24″ diameter fan with blow spot mounted on wheels with push handle like a lawnmower.
I hate it, too, and it’s pervasive, but not universal. I mentioned a particularly bad business in another comment, but nearby, I’ve seen several other businesses cleaning up excellently. Some use rakes, some leaf blowers, one used a big vacuum truck. All were cleaning the sidewalks and also the leaves in the street along the curb. All were managing doing it during the day with auto traffic going by.
I mention it because it’s proof to the irresponsible businesses and crews that it can be done correctly.
It is illegal. This link is hidden in the city’s leaf day literature.
Call the city and report a code violation. Do it every day if you want. They might get the message eventually.
I’ve stopped and talked to landscapers when I see them blowing leaves and debris into the bike lane, and have asked them to please remove it from the bike lane when they’re done blowing it around. I explain how when they leave it there, it forces bike riders to ride in the car lane, and bring it home with a “you’ve seen how it is when bike riders need to ride in the car lane” and that seems to do the trick.
Just be sure to be friendly, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.
Alternatively, ride with a rake and make a plan to stop and put the leaves back up on the landscaped part of the property. I’ve done that too (although I put the rake in my car, not on my bike). Caveat: I’m in Tigard, not Portland, so YMMV.
dang I gotta get me one (two??) of those cameras! I would have some spicy road rage footage pretty much day immediately of turning it on.
According to the city this is an immediate maintenance issue and you should call it in to 503-823-1700.
If it’s an immediate issue to the city I think that more than justifies taking the lane.
Report a Maintenance or Traffic Safety Problem or Concern: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/564769
Ive said it before and say it again. The anger and frustration on Portland roads today is out of all proportion to what it used to be and I blame a feckless and incompetent city/regional government for not addressing issues of traffic congestion, density and capacity in any meaningful way.
They have no solutions and just add fuel to the fire by installing diets and decorations (paint) which do nothing but instill a false sense of safety and insure conflict between users like this happen all day long -though not often captured in such vivid detail.
People who spend all day staring at computer screens and study years of the best academic theory, who have never spent a day in their life commuting by anything other than SOV are wasting tens of millions of dollars a year on idiotic token “solutions” like variable speed freeway signs and cutesy photo ops like bike roundabouts. Meanwhile people are at a breaking point.
We know that transit works. We know buses work. We know bikes work. Yet planners continue to delude themselves into thinking we can split the baby. Have it all. No compromises.
“We know that transit works…”
I do not believe self-sustaining public transit exists in American society, unfortunately.
Politicians like to say they are addressing “traffic”, but the truth is that government is by nature self-serving and perpetuated solely by economic growth. There are no net-zero games. Remember when cities in California were going bankrupt? Well those same cities still exist, with many of the same residents and businesses, with their everyday activities focused on attracting more.
Portland, like every other city, sustains its services by attracting businesses and employees to its locale, thus increasing density. With density comes automobile traffic, regardless of however many Utopian propositions of car-free family-wage apartments are proposed regularly here.
And you have had your job and population growth, and your suburbanites migrating into downtown centers, and your increase (and subsequent decrease) of human-powered mode share, and some changes in zoning, and increased building… and yet traffic gets worse, infrastructure ages, car sales (actually pickup and SUV sales) are setting records, and rents continue to rise.
The future is always out of proportion with the past; such is the nature of the pursuit of growth.
I ride SW Terwiliger and SW Multnomah every day. Both were pretty bad, but thankfully have either been cleaned and/or have gotten paths worn through most of the leaves. Pretty slick in spots, though.
If anyone was wondering, the bike path was swept as of this morning. Myself and another rider stopped on Wednesday of this week and cleared out the larger downed branches to help out. But a positive shout to Portland Road Maintenance about the worn out bike lane stripping at the exit point for the car wash at Barbur and Terwilliger. The bike lane had turned into a turn lane for the cars heading into downtown due to being worn down. To their credit within a couple of days, they had laid down a fresh new strip. Still doesn’t prevent the cars from using the lane as a turn lane though unfortunately.
The reason why the city does not clean the bike lane is that the large vehicle they use to clean it is slow and would block the car lane while cleaning and thus generate a ton of angry emails and phone calls to the city, like from the guy in the video.
The solution is very simple. They already plan on adding a bunch of protected bike lanes. They will need one of those narrow bike lane cleaner vehicles, like other cities already use, or the protected lanes will become unusable. Just go ahead and purchase the protected bike lane cleaner now and start using it for some of the worst affected regular bike lanes. Then the cars won’t be held up by the cleaner, and thus no angry emails from drivers. Its not a difficult problem.
I think it’s wonderful that you are taking PBoT’s statements about cycling at face value. I certainly hope your faith is rewarded.
Sadly, I’m disinclined to believe that the powers that be in city, county or state transportation departments are actually serious about making the experience of cycling better. When some infrastructure can be squeezed in without making things demonstrably worse for motorists, it can get built and advertised in a self-congratulatory way. That’s about where it ends, as near as I can tell.
Sure, they will eventually buy a narrow street sweeper for the so-called protected bike lanes, but there won’t be enough of them and they won’t run enough to keep things clear. If keeping them clear was planned, they would have already done exactly what you are suggesting.
What happened to this?:
An excellent question.
I’ve seen that piece of equipment out and about exactly once, and it wasn’t in use at the time.
It was fascinating to watch the driver’s demeanor shift from murderous howling rage into being almost civilized over the course of the confrontation. I wonder what combination of Steven’s people skills and the driver’s slow realization that he was vulnerable outside of his box facilitated that? Of course, the driver went right back to being a jerk as soon as he got back into the truck, as a later tweet from Steven shows.
But what really freaked me out was when the driver went to the passenger side of his truck. It made me think he was going for a gun. Thank Lob I somehow manage to almost never get into confrontations like that. I’m glad Steven is safe!
Is there any consequence for the truck driver? I assume there is but maybe I’m wrong. What would it look like if he would have swerved into an auto lane impeding a car from moving forward and had that exact same thing with an auto driver?
License plate is clearly visible and readable in the video, he should have been called in along with that info.
I can attest I saw street cleaner trucks repetitively going up and down Naito , and also repetitively “cleaning” the same downtown streets over and over multiple times 4 to 5 days a week all summer long.
Now, when they are actually needed, they have ghosted. Are those workers ascairt of a widdle rain and scattered leaf piles??
No, they are making overtime cleaning leaves for homeowners in Ladd’s Addition and Laurelhurst on weekends all through November and December, so they get a nice holiday bonus and cyclists have to keep riding in dangerous leaf-slick bike lanes.
What makes this worse is that the driver works on the hill and probably drives on Terwiliger frequently.
Actually this guy works at the VA hospital. I recognize his voice and the barely glimpse of his face. He works in the custodial department and I”hear” him sometimes in the morning in the cafeteria. He is loud there too. I’m not surprised at all by his demeanor.
Oh great! You could play the video at high volume on a laptop during lunch while he’s present. I mean, I would. That would be fun.
When I rode Terwilliger earlier today (Monday), it looked like the bike paths had been swept recently… though several spots were filling again with slick leaves.
“I have the right to pass slow moving traffic.”
No, that is not a right. Even when the “slow” traffic is below the speed limit, which didn’t appear to be the case here.
I commend both parties for not allowing the situation to escalate further, but I can’t help noticing just how close that pickup came. It was clearly a deliberate act (as proven by the prior use of the horn). I’m going to keep harping on the point drilled into me by my (not in Oregon) Drivers Ed class that motor vehicles are deadly weapons.. There is no difference – morally or legally – between what this driver did and angrily waving a loaded gun in someone’s face.
And I have absolutely no confidence that he will be charged with assault, despite clear evidence. After all, what matters in the legal system (ask ANY lawyer!) is not what the law says, but what a jury will think.
Still tempted to get a camera. Last I looked into the ones compact enough to be suitable for daily biking were more than a bit fiddly for my taste. I wonder if they’ve improved recently.
This echoes my sentiment exactly. I commend Steven on his handling of this; I suspect I would have been more angry or possibly violent with this little man. I suggest two things to Steven:
1) This was an intentional act, and handshake or not, there is enough evidence here for police to issue a citation or at least warning. I suggest reporting it and following up; I haven’t dealt with Portland police (in a while ;), but I reported a similar incident and the police here were very cooperative and issued a written warning and ‘educated’ the driver verbally.
2) The video is of good quality and watermarked with Cycliq; have you thought of sending it to them? I have an older Rideye that I consider just OK, have had mixed results with GoPros that aren’t purpose-built for bike incident recording, but will now seriously consider purchasing a Cycliq for the front (and ‘demoting’ the Rideye to the tail of the bike). This makes a great ad campaign for them, starring this angry and impatient driver’s ignorance of the ‘rules of the road’ – if the incident had turned violent this video would become critical evidence.
Again, kudos to Steven for his handling of the situation and willingness to share it.
Commenting separately from the interaction with the motorist…if you find it too challenging to ride on wet leaves in the Northwest, might I suggest taking the bus? This is a good note for Bike Portland readers: your safety isn’t always the responsibility of someone else. Personal responsibility is something that could use a lot more attention, especially on this site. And yes, I’m a cyclist. 35 years, 150,000 miles. Never been hit by a car (knock on wood).
“your safety isn’t always the responsibility of someone else”
Another way to look at this would be to tally the tax $/car or tax $/household spent by our local and state and federal authorities to improve safety for those in cars (asphalt, paint, concrete, signage, engineering, overhead, NHTSA, guard rails, digital sign boards, police,………) and then compare that to the tax $/bike or tax $/household spent by those same authorities to improve the safety for those on bikes. Never mind that each miles biked pays dividends, save municipalities money while every mile driven costs municipalities. I suspect that if we were to compare those figures the crumbs spent on improving safety of those on bikes would be a rounding error.
It’s perfectly legitimate–and legal–for people riding bikes to avoid wet leaves.
Avoiding wet leaves also shows concern for the safety of others, since you are minimizing the risk of sliding or falling in the way of others, which could for instance cause a driver or other biker to swerve and crash.
Very experienced cyclists have fallen due to riding over wet leaves, and I’d guess none of them felt it was “too challenging” right up to the instant they fell.
And no, “your safety isn’t always the responsibility of someone else” (something I’ve never seen any evidence anyone on bikeportland believes). But people DO have a responsibility not to endanger others. That is why nobody should be discouraged from avoiding leaves while biking, because avoiding them will in many cases increase others’ safety. Plus, it exhibits the attention to personal responsibility that you are ironically criticizing others here for lacking.
Also, I nearly broke my ankle running on wet leaves once. I didn’t slip. I caught my foot in a grate that the leaves were hiding. My injury was not due to a lack of skill running. Wet leaves hide everything that is underneath them.
Jonathan, I’m not sure if Steven considers himself a Portlander, but as best I can tell he commutes via e-bike from Sherwood. I point this out, because it is pretty uncommon to commute those distances by bike regularly, but e-bikes make it possible. Pretty awesome if you ask me.
I think the cyclist didn’t have to be THAT far into the road to avoid the slick leaves. It was a case of excess on both of their parts, but people who use the word “pussy” as an insult tend to be sleazy, so the “brother” thing toward the end didn’t alleviate much.
I disagree, from what the video shows. He was a few feet into the lane as the road curved left, which makes sense because it would hard to hug the right side while turning left and going that fast (which makes the passage issue moot). Plus you could see leaves on the road several feet into the lane anyway.
As soon as the road straightened, he pulled back into the bike lane, even though there were lots of leaves in it, so he would have been justified to still ride in the lane.
From the video, I’d say it was the opposite of excess on his part.
It doesn’t concern me that someone uses “pussy” given the context.
But, if he was going to be in the road at all (which seemed understandable given the conditions in the bike lane) then it’s usually considered safer to fully take the lane. That way you’re more visible and it prevents overtaking vehicles from trying to squeeze past when it isn’t safe. The problem in this instance – and in nearly all similar instances – is that the driver either doesn’t view it as being unsafe or they just don’t care, and they therefore think the cyclist is being selfish for not getting out of their way. The impatience of the driver is really highlighted here as you can see that the cyclist is moving at nearly the speed of the car in front.