Video: Thanks Truck Driver! (When the safest way to pass is to not pass)

I recently had an interesting experience on the infamous North interstate Avenue southbound bike lane, and I just happened to have my GoPro running.

You know that spot south of the Greeley hill, after you’ve passed the Albina MAX stop and the fork that goes up to the Broadway Bridge? The place where the bike lane gets super narrow under the Larrabee overpass? It’s a spot that has bothered me for years. And despite acknowledging concerns, PBOT hasn’t really don’t much to improve the situation.

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I’ve been the victim of scary passes here when people try to squeeze by at the exact wrong moment. But the other day a big-rig driver was behind me and something amazing happened: They slowed way down and decided to simply not pass at all! Imagine that. Not only did the nice driver decline to squeeze by, they stayed well back so I didn’t feel like I was any inconvenience to them. It was a relatively small thing, but I was almost giddy when it happened!

I wanted to share this little video because it’s a great example of how people should drive in this section. Hopefully this goes a little ways toward restoring your faith in humanity, given how rough drivers can be out there these days.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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

It’s too bad an identifier isn’t visible so that his/her (their?) employer could be told about this.

Val
Val
11 months ago

It’s sad that this is unusual behavior in what is supposed to be a bike-friendly city. Here in Europe, this is normal, and expected.

Eric Murphy
Eric Murphy
11 months ago
Reply to  Val

I’m still looking for this mythical bike-friendly city. Have I just been living in the wrong part of town these last couple years?

Asher Atkinson
Asher Atkinson
11 months ago
Reply to  Val

Whether the behavior the video documents is unusual is subjective and anecdotal. For what it’s worth, I don’t find examples like this unusual at all in Portland. What I have found in all cities, countries and continents where I’ve ridden is that most individuals are aware and courteous, and some are oblivious and rude. It’s not a geographic trait, it’s a human trait.

Burk Webb
Burk Webb
11 months ago

That looks to me like a Freightliner. Send the video to Daimler, they have a big office on Swan Island. I bet they would appreciate it 🙂

FDUP
FDUP
11 months ago

For the most part, truck drivers are better trained that the average motorist and need to be in good standing w their CDL license to keep their job, so nine times out of ten I would expect them to be more polite than your average PU/SUV/sedan/coupe driver.

curly
curly
11 months ago
Reply to  FDUP

This!
I’m more comfortable knowing a bus driver is aware of me and driving accordingly. A big shout out to Tri-Met drivers.

bjorn
bjorn
11 months ago

Thank Tri-Met for it not being a legal requirement that every truck do this in this location. They pushed back when the safe passing law was passed and got it changed so that it only applies at speeds over 35mph. This is a 30mph zone so the requirement to leave enough room that if the cyclist falls into the roadway you will not run them over does not apply.

FDUP
FDUP
11 months ago

The trucks all turn left after this section of road because that is the way to the I5 south entrance ramp.

Chrystal
Chrystal
11 months ago

I ride up and down Interstate several days a week since I work at Kaiser and this spot always makes me nervous. I take the lane early on, but I have been honked at for it.

Clem Fandango
Clem Fandango
11 months ago

I tow my dog on a trailer through here all the time. Drivers are garbage people.

jered l bogli
jered l bogli
11 months ago

That is my pre pandemic commute. I’d been passed close too many times there so now if I see traffic approaching I’ll signal and just take the WHOLE LANE well in advance of the bridge. It has worked well for me, usually once I take the lane folks just lift and coast until I’m clear of the bridge and I can move over into the bike lane to be passed safely. I’ve only been harassed/threatened once in the couple years I’ve been taking the lane…

Kyle Banerjee
Kyle Banerjee
11 months ago

That’s unusual for that spot. I have been next in that spot close to sketchy drivers in big things where that kind of courtesy would have been appreciated.

Having said that, I usually prefer that drivers pass closely but carefully to them hanging back. My consistent experience is that when people don’t pass, those behind start tailgating, acting more erratic, and perform even more dangerous passes. It is also my general experience that if someone models good behavior (i.e. a calm, gradual pass), those immediately behind tend to follow suit.

BTW, I think that you were riding a bit left in the lane may have helped in this situation. I find that riding left pushes people out a bit while creating space to work with on the right.

nic.cota
11 months ago

If trucks are often turning left here to get on to Broadway anyways, is there not a reason they just take the Larrabee ‘flyover’ as the road splits? Wouldn’t the Larrabee route also create one less signal for trucks to access I5?

Chris I
Chris I
11 months ago
Reply to  nic.cota

The flyover would actually result in more turns and lights. They would need to wait at the light to turn left onto Broadway, go through several lights and then turn right, and then wait for another light at the I-84 ramp.