[Note from publisher: I was CC’d on the letter below to Portland Bureau of Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly this morning. It’s from a reader named Chris H.]
Dear Commissioner Eudaly,
Last night, as I was riding down N Williams, I noticed a motorist move into the bike lane and start driving down the bike lane because they felt that they didn’t need to wait in the motorist-only lane. I frequently have to correct motorist on how to use bike infrastructure and out of my interactions with motorist, I’d say a good 80% either don’t know they are doing anything wrong or at least pretend that they don’t know they are doing anything wrong, and they correct their course.
As you know, N Williams, purported by PBOT to be the most heavily used bike route in the city, doesn’t have a contiguous bike lane, nor does it have a single foot of evidence-based protected bike lane.
When I stopped to let the motorist know that he wasn’t allowed to drive in the bike lane, this is what happened;
This rolling ball of toxic masculinity felt so comfortable breaking the law that not only did he continue driving down the bike lane after being notified he was on camera, he decided to assault me by spitting on me.
“This rolling ball of toxic masculinity felt so comfortable breaking the law that not only did he continue driving down the bike lane after being notified he was on camera, he decided to assault me by spitting on me.”
N Williams has some of the worst conflicts between vulnerable road users and motorist of any bike infrastructure that PBOT has built and it comes down to one issue. PBOT has prioritized the parking on N Williams over the health and safety of the people walking/scooting/cycling on the street. Without street parking on the left-hand side of the street, PBOT could install physically protective barriers like the ones that exist on N Rosa Parks that would prohibit bike lane infractions like the one in the video. Additionally, the lack of daylighting on N Williams makes it hard for motorist and vulnerable road users to cross the street.
When you are in leadership meetings and everyone is shaking their heads trying to figure out why non-car modes of transortation are shrinking, maybe show them this video. Motorist in this city act with impunity. About ten minutes later, I almost got hit by a motorist who ran a stop sign, which is also on video but I didn’t bother to post it because it’s so incredibly common. PBOT needs to prioritize the health and safety of vulnerable road users over the parking needs of the bars on N Williams. Additionally, PPB needs to enforce traffic laws. Even a mild amount of traffic monitoring will improve the behavior of Portland’s motorist. I live near a four-a stop. I’d say maybe one out of ten cars actually come to a complete stop. I came home on Wednesday and a police officer was sitting parked, looking towards the four-way (Police in St. Johns if you can believe it!). while he wasn’t actually doing traffic enforcement, just his presence caused almost every single car to come to a complete stop. We need enforcement. I’ve been cycling as my main form of transportation for a decade and I’ve never felt less safe on the road than I do today.
I urge you to start investing, really investing, in non-car centric infrastructure. Climate change is real, and even if it wasn’t, a car-centric approach to road management will not work here just as it hasn’t worked in every other major city.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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