Video shows TriMet bus operator intentionally drove through group of bike riders


(Video edits by BikePortland, footage shot by Shawne Martinez)

An otherwise wonderful New Year’s Day Ride was marred when a TriMet bus operator drove through a group of bike riders at a downtown Portland intersection.

“What’s shown in the video is troubling.”
— Tyler Graf, TriMet

I was on the ride and was in direct contact with the driver as he intentionally endangered other road users. Another rider, Shawne Martinez, captured video of the incident. TriMet has seen the video above and calls it “troubling”.

It happened at 1:00 pm Saturday as we approached SW 5th Avenue while riding eastbound on SW Harvey Milk Street. A large group of about 70 bike riders was strung out across two blocks of Harvey Milk between 6th and 4th. Most of the riders at the front of the group went through the 5th Ave intersection on a green signal and there was an attempt to hold back the bus and one other vehicle in order to let the entire group get through the signal as it turned red. This is known as “corking” and is standard operating procedure on large group rides.

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(Note: Yes, corking is done to let people go illegally through a red signal, but overall it is much safer to keep everyone together than have everyone split into small groups when lights are short and closely spaced. And I hope everyone understands this is not just about the color of signals. Read on…)

Bus, truck and bikes in an intersection.
Still from video.

I was working this event and happened to be the one who tried to cork the intersection. I assumed the bus operator would understand the situation. In my experience, TriMet drivers are usually nice and they “get” Portland street culture enough to know this is a bike-oriented city where group rides are common. This being the case, I didn’t place my bike and body directly in front of the bus driver. To my surprise, he began rolling forward — directly into human bodies in front of his bus!

I could tell he was mad, so I engaged him through the open driver’s side window (I’m the one in black with a blue bike in the video and the still image at right) and implored him to wait. He was visibly angry and said, “I have a green light!” (or something to that effect) as he nudged his bus through the crowd. By this time, his signal had actually turned red (as you can see in the video) as remaining bike riders passed in front of the bus on a green “WALK” signal. But the driver’s anger seemed to overtake him and he was determined to drive through the intersection.

With his face turned toward me, he accelerated and almost hit a rider who was in the intersection. I yelled as he went through and snapped a photo of his bus (to remember the number) as he drove south on 5th Ave. Thankfully another rider captured it all on video.

I sent the video to TriMet Monday afternoon and gave them an opportunity to respond. Here’s the statement shared this morning by Public Information Officer Tyler Graf:

“What’s shown in the video is troubling, and we appreciate it being brought to our attention. Safety is TriMet’s core value, and we train our operators on how to safely share the road with cyclists, pedestrians and autos to keep everyone safe. While we are investigating this to determine if additional training is needed, we do apologize to those bicyclists involved, as this interrupted what appeared to be part of the fun, long-standing tradition where cyclists from around the Portland area actively kick-off the new year. We appreciate and support the vibrancy they brought to Downtown over the weekend.”

UPDATE, 1/20: We made a public records request for the on-board video of this bus. Today TriMet said the data has been corrupted and is not available.

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Cathy Tuttle
10 months ago

I was on this joyful New Year’s Day ride that included many children and elders. The video does not fully capture the inappropriate bus driver actions. This bus driver not only used his bus to act with aggression, deliberately placing vulnerable road users in danger, this young man backed up his aggression with loud, angry words.

My experience with people who drive buses has been positive. Bus drivers are professionals who are alert, predictable, and safe as they negotiate streets with people driving cars who are distracted and unpredictable, all while dealing with a mix of unpredictable passengers on their buses. Bus drivers are truly my heroes. In my opinion, this driver has anger management issues that are not compatible with the safe operation of a large public transportation vehicle.

Evan
Evan
10 months ago

If somebody working for me was shown behaving like that, I wouldn’t limit possible action to “additional training”. Firing would be on the table for sure.

buildwithjoe
10 months ago

Please get and post that video. Ask for the whole route video. Ask for the whole route data report. Before I had a handlebar camera I was nearly killed by a trimet driver who was speeding over 30mph on mississippi in the most dense part, I was also going at least 25 downhill on the skidmore hill. He then right hooked me into the curb. All I had was the data report becaused they refused to pull the video.

Did this driver have angry behavior prior to using the group as his latest punching bag? People can request the data even if they deny you the video. And do not let them charge you for video if the driver was dangerous or unsafe.

sample reports below a) data report example and b) my handlebar video from NW Portland

https://drive.google.com/file/d/19BWS2pD11SnSUdIm_cqTqZbLm2t8SFkd/view?usp=sharing

data report above, video below. Two different trimet drivers who nearly killed me for doing nothing wrong. Riding along at a safe speed minding my own business.

https://youtu.be/4r1fGWeASfE

In both these cases the driver most likely just kept doing this to other cyclists, and that lack of transparency to victims is the biggest problem. Same problem with those who murdered George Floyd. It’s always a pattern.

Tom
Tom
10 months ago

There was an interview on this site a few years ago of the truck driver who ran over and killed the woman on Water Ave in the middle of the night. It was one of the best pieces and most human stories I’ve read anywhere. The guy actually killed someone and there was no outrage in the piece or the comments.

Now we have this. The complete opposite of empathy and understanding in the middle of a pandemic going into year three. It doesn’t really matter who was right or wrong here. We’ve all made mistakes whether biking or driving.

What happened to the Portland where we go out of our ways to thank our bus drivers and let the other car go first at stop signs?

Phillips
Phillips
10 months ago

I get that we’re supposed to be universally against other forms of transportation but just because you are in a small group doesn’t automatically make you immune to all the laws. Bus waited a whole cycle and they still didn’t let him through. A little courtesy would have been nice. Instead we get a bunch of people provoking a viral incident. People are still out here trying to get to work and/or doing the thankless job of shuttling the myriad homeless around this city.

J_R
J_R
10 months ago

Alternatively, it’s about a group of people without a permit to have a parade deciding that they don’t have to obey traffic laws simply because they are a group that feels entitled to do so. Both the group and the driver were wrong.

PS
PS
10 months ago

Is corking illegal? Do you have any authority to stop traffic? Does a vehicle have a right to move through an intersection if they started into it when they had the right of way, i.e. green light? Is an amorphous blob of cyclists a single vehicle? Is there a reasonable amount of time an intersection should be illegally stopped by someone without any authority to do so under the guise of “street culture”? Would any other vehicle as long as a 70 person slow bike parade have to operate with a permit to do so and likely have LEO escorts. To suggest “both siding” this is not appropriate is everything that is wrong with general common discourse right now. Should the bus driver just have chilled and waited, maybe. Should your group have stopped and regrouped at a location outside of downtown, probably.

I know a couple trimet drivers and they deal with the most insane things on a daily basis, to not account for someone trying to do their job while you’re out on a leisure tour of downtown is really out of touch.

J_R
J_R
10 months ago

So, if a whole bunch of people decide to drive to a Blazer game is it OK for them to cork the intersections along the way as they drive their cars to the parking lot so they can all arrive at the same time and park in the same lot? Isn’t that safer for everyone, too?

Serenity
Serenity
10 months ago
Reply to  J_R

HAHAHA! Oh my god, that is hilarious!

Shuppatsu
Shuppatsu
10 months ago

Someone in control of a massive, multi-ton vehicle has a much greater duty to demonstrate reasonable caution and care than someone on a 30-pound bicycle.

I agree, but people on a 30-pound bicycle have a duty not to weaponize their vulnerability to force other road users to do what the the cyclists want.

I don’t know why we can’t both-sides this one. The bus driver screwed up because safety is paramount, particularly in his line of work. The corkers were unsafe jerks.

Shuppatsu
Shuppatsu
10 months ago

people (some of whom where under 10 yrs old and others in their 60s mind you) just wanted to cross a street safely.

The easiest way to do that is to stop at red lights and go on green lights.

Amazing how hard it is for you and some others to see bicycle users anything other than radicalized activists on a mission to terrorize motorists.

I don’t comment all that often, but I am an everyday cyclist. I was on your front page once when I biked in on a snow day (saw you snapping pics at the BWay bridge, then saw myself later that day). I was quoted by you in an article discussing DA Underhill’s proposed legislation.

I’ve seen plenty of radicalism among bicycle advocates. That’s to be expected. That doesn’t encompass what it means to be a cyclist.

Fred King
10 months ago

BTW, the guy in the video is in his 70s.

AB
AB
10 months ago

In my opinion the situation didn’t seem dangerous or “troubling”. Bus driver’s behavior was boorish. Should he have just waited for the rest of the group to run the red light? Yes. Was his behavior dangerous? Not in my opinion. This situation looked fairly mild and speeds were low, and I can tell you that from most non cyclists’ perspectives, your reaction will be perceived as, frankly, stereotypically histrionic and entitled.

You forced traffic to wait through their green, said traffic insisted on their right of way. That doesn’t mean your life was in grave danger. I simply don’t buy the premise that a large bike group being separated by traffic lights in downtown Portland is anything more than a mild inconvenience; it certainly doesn’t justify forcing other traffic to wait at your discretion.

Trimet will probably reprimand the driver and make him sit through boring training videos as a punitive measure. Bus drivers are supposed to be cool and collected, much more so than an everyday passenger car driver, and he wasn’t in this case.

AB
AB
10 months ago

I understand your concern, and I agree that the driver should not have done that. It was petty and a needless risk, though a rather small one in my view.

Cheers

Watts
Watts
10 months ago

this guy rolled through humans in a way that could have had a bad outcome.

That was not at all evident in the video.

Watts
Watts
10 months ago

I think the video is pretty clear, even if it differed from your perception of the events at the time. I am making no judgements about what came before or after the video, and that surely colored your experience, as did your adrenalin, but people who weren’t there are able see what is shown more dispassionately.

And based on the comments here, there seems to be fairly broad agreement (from uninvolved observers at least) that what is shown simply does not appear to be dangerous. As others have pointed out, speeds were low, there were no near-misses, and the way forward was clear.

It occurs to me that this is exactly the position cops who make dicey decisions sometimes find themselves in — the video evidence does not support their perceived level of urgency or danger. Most of us have no difficulty in those cases accepting that the video is more “accurate” than “real life”. Maybe we should give more weight to subjective reality, though I’m sure the bus driver had a very different perception of events, and when writing the narrative, I’m not sure how you reconcile events if everyone’s conflicting subjective experiences are on par with (or superior to) the objective evidence.

Cory P
Cory P
10 months ago
Reply to  Phillips

Corking is the established practice it was actually worked out over years of communication with PBOT and Portland Police.
If large group rides obeyed all traffic lights and stop signs they would stretch out for miles along major roads. Corking allows for the ride to stay together and impacts traffic less.
This was a relatively small ride the bus would have had to wait through perhaps one additional light cycle.
I also find it interesting that motorists get so enraged by cyclists blocking traffic but happily sit in gridlock as cars clog our roads every day.

Watts
Watts
10 months ago
Reply to  Cory P

I also find it interesting that motorists get so enraged by cyclists blocking traffic but happily sit in gridlock as cars clog our roads every day.

If you deliberately (or even not) block an intersection with your car, other drivers will get pretty pissed if they lose their green light.

It’s not about bikes, it’s about blocking.

Watts
Watts
10 months ago

Probably not a funeral, massive load, or other situation that seemed largely unavoidable.

But when a pickup blocks an intersection because the driver squeezed past the light and entered the intersection when they shouldn’t have, and blocks things for a whole cycle, people do get pissed. And if they thought the driver did it intentionally, drivers absolutely would “lose their shit”. Drivers have murdered other drivers for less.

soren (sorin)
soren (sorin)
10 months ago
Reply to  Cory P

Corking is “established practice” but it’s also established practice to not cork buses or light rail. The drivers subsequent actions are inexcusable, regardless of what is “established practice”.

Serenity Ebert
Serenity Ebert
10 months ago
Reply to  Phillips

Sure, the Bus may have waited a whole cycle already. And? At that moment, the bus had a red light. No getting around that one.

PS
PS
10 months ago
Reply to  Serenity Ebert

Bus was in the intersection, regardless of light color it has the legal responsibility to clear the intersection. An amorphous blob of cyclists is not considered a single vehicle for the laws the govern the road, so at the point the light turned red, regardless of the illegal corking maneuver of street culture, they had the legal responsibility to stop and let the bus pass. So, yeah, there is getting around it through the legal rights of those using the streets.

CaptainKarma
CaptainKarma
10 months ago
Reply to  Phillips

What does the housing status of passengers have to do with ANYTHING, and how would you even know, is there a requirement for a badge to where I live?

Matt
Matt
10 months ago

Yeah, the bus driver was definitely in the wrong, but cyclists blocking a bus full of people with a green light on the transit mall of all places is super super lame. Call it standard operating procedures and defend it all you want, but it is super lame and just antagonizing people using transit. Just have a plan to pull aside and wait for the group if you get separated while crossing the one street in Portland that is dedicated for public transit.

janos
janos
10 months ago
Reply to  Matt

A quick review of the video shows the bus basically empty.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
10 months ago
Reply to  janos

I was on a bus last spring that got corked for 3 cycles of the lights – about 5 minutes. Thanks to that I missed my connection and lost half an hour of my day. That bus had only 5 people on it – but I guess if my bike is on the rack and I’m not riding it I don’t count.

We as cyclists expect drivers to respect us and be courteous. Too bad so many don’t offer the same in return.

Serenity
Serenity
10 months ago
Reply to  Matt

A quick review of the video shows the bus did not have a green light.

FullLaneFemme
10 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Surely you can use a better word than the ableist slur “lame”

Watts
Watts
10 months ago
Reply to  FullLaneFemme

What would you suggest? I’m always looking for better slurs!

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
10 months ago

Keep in mind there is a serious national bus driver shortage, so TriMet is likely to be reluctant to fire this driver.

Chris I
Chris I
10 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Exactly. I hope they don’t fire this driver. It will means cancelled bus runs and hundreds of people being late in the coming months.

Fred King
10 months ago

Yikes! But I get the driver’s point of view. Factor in having to work on New Years Day . . .

Doug Hecker
Doug Hecker
10 months ago

Did you do a freedom of info request for the buses video?

rh
rh
10 months ago

Maybe the driver is new and isn’t familiar with the unwritten rule of corking? Maybe there should have been 2 corkers so the bus driver couldn’t go through?

Mike
Mike
10 months ago

I’m with most of the other commenters…it appears the cyclists are the provocateurs here (no…I wasn’t on the ride). The bus was clearly already into the intersection (assuming he started moving forward when he got the green?). To anyone besides a seasoned cyclist, it appears the cyclists are trying to run a red light and blocking a bus. Maybe spend a day trying to navigate a bus through the city before crying foul.

Call it “corking” or “standard practice”, but the end result is cyclists looking like jerks. As a cyclist, I don’t like when other cyclists perpetuate that stereotype.

Shuppatsu
Shuppatsu
10 months ago

Mind you, most of us are bike riders on this here site. If you’re having trouble justifying it to us, good luck with the gen pop.

Watts
Watts
10 months ago

The behavior shown on the video did not appear dangerous. I can’t speak to what happened before or after what was shown.

Babygorilla
Babygorilla
10 months ago

I’m part of your readership that just likes to ride my bike. Why was this group of road users more important that the people who rely on Trimet for transportation in this situation? Hell, in any situation where folks don’t bother getting a permit, why are people who “cork” intersections more important than the other road users and entitled to ignore basic and well established rules of road?

cmh89
cmh89
10 months ago

I honestly think you are choosing a pretty poor battle here. When you use language like “threateningly” and then folks watch a video of a bus driver cautiously navigating a situation, it just undercuts real vehicular violence in my opinion.

Should the driver have gone? No. Do he seriously threaten the health or safety of the cyclist? No.

cmh89
cmh89
10 months ago

Please don’t tell me what happened. I was there. I believe I am an extremely reliable source and I have no reason to make shit up.

You are trying to tell us what happened and you aren’t being very convincing. You don’t have a reason to ‘make shit up’ but you do have occasionally use hyperbolic language to describe incidents when you feel a cyclist has been wronged.

Posting of a video of an overworked and overstressed bus driver slowly moving through an intersection that was illegally blocked by cyclists isn’t going to be the win you think it is.

maxD
maxD
10 months ago

not to nitpick, JM, but a couple of months back you disagreed with me that people driving down a MUP and forcing people walking or biking to leave the path was just fine since the drivers were going slow. Well, this bus driver was going slow AND he was the road! Your track record of calling out people who endanger vulnerable road users is not so unblemished as you make it out.

BikeRound
BikeRound
10 months ago

Maybe the fact that you were there is exactly the problem. We need disinterested parties to judge a situation based on the evidence. If anything, the bus driver was the level-headed one in the video who acted reasonably under the circumstances.

Babygorilla
Babygorilla
10 months ago

So he nudged his transit vehicle forward with the green light at a fully controlled intersections with clear sight lines and a red light for cross traffic while operating a transit vehicle on the transit mall.

Then, after this threatening nudging the videos shows no dangerous conduct and certainly no acceleration to nearly hit someone. Seems like careful actions in response to people acting as unsanctioned traffic cops.

qqq
qqq
10 months ago

This reminds me very much of the Portland Spirit plowing through a crowd of boaters watching the Flugtag event downtown. The boats were in the navigation channel, where normally you shouldn’t anchor, but they’d been directed there by the Coast Guard. The captain honked to claim right-of-way, then plowed through the crowd without concern for their safety. He later claimed he had legal right-of-way. The Marine Board punished him, pointing out that there’s a basic maritime law that you have an obligation to captain your vessel in a way that is safe and avoids collisions, that overrides other regulations.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxm7PpqZXY4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HihFYvEyGy4

It seems directly parallel to this case. And the bus driver did it twice–the first time he rolled forward on his green light before the intersection was clear, and the second time when he accelerated forward on his own red light right at the rider in front of him.

Here’s the captain’s punishment and Marine Board’s reasoning for punishing him:
https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2017/08/portland_spirit_captain_suspen.html

PS
PS
10 months ago
Reply to  qqq

And in this case, which federal authority told the cyclists to be stopping in the middle of the intersection in an attempt to exert control over the flow of traffic to their benefit?

qqq
qqq
10 months ago
Reply to  PS

None. But in the Flugtag case, that wasn’t relevant to the decision to punish the captain. In fact, the Coast Guard cited the event organizers for not keeping the channel clear. The judge’s decision to punish the captain was based on his decision to proceed unsafely even given the fact that the event organizers shouldn’t have let the boats moor there.

That’s how I see this ride situation also. People can debate whether or not the riders should have been there, or whether corking is reasonable or legal. But if you go ahead and assume they shouldn’t have been there, and corking is illegal, should the driver have proceeded into their midst? I don’t believe so, because it wasn’t the safe decision, and a TriMet driver should prioritize safety even if that means yielding the right of way. In the marine case, the judge ruled that proceeding even when the boaters shouldn’t have been in his path wasn’t just wrong, it was illegal to the point the captain deserved to have is license suspended.

Shuppatsu
Shuppatsu
10 months ago

Corking is the reason I haven’t participated in an informal ride since the ride to commemorate Mark Angeles’ death in 2015. I just couldn’t believe we were marking his death caused by a traffic violation by… committing more traffic violations, specifically in a way that engenders anger from drivers towards cyclists.

I’m not against scofflawism per se. I break traffic rules all the time on my bike, for instance by going through a red light after having made a full stop and finding no cars in any direction. But when I do, it puts me at the back of the line in terms of whether I ought to have the right of way and whether my safety trumps others’ convenience. Corking is a terrible solution to a real problem, and should by no means be dismissed as “SOP.”

Tom Howe (Contributor)
Tom Howe (Contributor)
10 months ago

My perception prior to seeing this video was that the bus was at a complete stop, the cyclists had a green light, and then the bus suddenly accelerated forward. Note at the 23-second mark the bus driver, while moving forward, is looking out his side window rather than looking at what is in front of the bus.

Christopher of Portland
Christopher of Portland
10 months ago

It’s disturbing how many commenters on this seem okay with what the bus driver did. I’ve always felt weird about the whole corking thing but trying to drive into people is much worse than blocking an intersection for a couple light cycles.

Chris I
Chris I
10 months ago

We cannot discern if he was “trying to drive into people” from the video above. If he was actually trying to hit people, he didn’t do a very good job of it. It looks like he drove his bus forward and didn’t come close to hitting anyone.

I was riding the Marine Drive bike path next to the Airport on Saturday and I had to get off my bike and scramble up the embankment to the “safety” of the main roadway after a car full of junkies passed me, forcing me off the path, then turned around and came back up behind me at high speed. We have bigger issues regarding bike safety in this city.

PS
PS
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

Ever notice how there isn’t a “Bike Portland Productions” video on the conditions of our multiuse paths?

Orig JF
Orig JF
10 months ago

Even though what the driver of the bus did was dangerous, the people riding bikes are just as much to blame in this situation. I feel the group should have reviewed the BP article on ‘corking’ from years past. A lot of good tidbits in there. Especially this word of advice: “It’s important to understand that corking can be abused.”

https://bikeportland.org/2012/06/13/man-cited-for-impeding-traffic-during-pedalpalooza-ride-73178

qqq
qqq
10 months ago

Every day, hundreds of delivery drivers double park, moving van crews stop traffic so their truck can back out of a driveway, etc.–hundreds or thousands of times people do standard things that aren’t legal. Yet it all works because people have some courtesy.

Corking to me falls in the category of those standard things. The bus driver’s having to wait a bit longer for everyone to get through to me is comparable to having to wait a few seconds for the double-parked UPS guy to stop blocking the lane.

I certainly can’t believe the driver was under time pressure to meet his route schedule. Their were hardly any vehicles on the road at the time. He not only decided to pull forward, he did even though it wasn’t safe.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
10 months ago

Too bad we can’t downvote anymore. It’d be interesting to see how many downvotes some of the commenters would have received.
It is rather telling how surprised some are at the general consensus being voiced here. It’s actually refreshing in so many ways.

Me personally, I think both sides were in the wrong. The cyclists for presuming they could just block an intersection (I never heard of corking before, wonder if the driver had), and the driver for losing their cool when they should have just ignored the cyclists and proceeded through the intersection (safely of course) if it was no longer blocked.

joan
10 months ago

I’m not a huge fan of corking buses and the max, to be honest. Seems like it might be better to split the ride a bit, especially crossing the transit mall. Having said that, yeah, this was really bad, a poor and dangerous decision by the driver. I agree with Cathy that my experience with Trimet drivers has been incredibly positive overall. I’d rather ride near buses than cars, if those were my two choices. But this isn’t an example of that at all. Thanks to you and Shawne for sharing this.

It also occurs to me that “standard corking practice” might not feel the same for Trimet drivers. Might be some opportunity for education here?

Granpa
Granpa
10 months ago

Training should be provided to less experienced riders regarding expectations. They hesitated at the crossing. Adding to the risk and confusion. Corking seems to be emblematic of privilege and a sense of entitlement that the less experienced riders did not possess

Mark
Mark
10 months ago
Reply to  joan

Instead of corking, why don’t the first group of riders just wait on the other side? Everyone just goes through (bikes & vehicles) when they have a green light and wait when it’s red. Everyone follows the law and neither is inconvenienced too much

Serenity
Serenity
10 months ago
Reply to  Mark

There are some rides that do that. It would not be practical for all rides.

Serenity
Serenity
10 months ago
Reply to  joan

Yes. Don’t cork buses.

soren (sorin)
soren (sorin)
10 months ago
Reply to  joan

It was SOP to not cork buses and transit in the past. I have no idea if this is still the case because I stopped participating in group rides several years ago.

soren (sorin)
soren (sorin)
10 months ago

SOP is an ubiquitous term in biomedical research, healthcare, and likely many other fields.

Corking is just a natural and normal and reasonable thing to do imo.

It’s not corking or bike scofflawery that I’m criticizing but rather the idea that participants of a small leisure ride corked a bus. What kind of message does it send when “bike funnists” on an official Street Trust ride (irony) act as if their ephemeral fun is more important than — say — OHSU employees using a bus to get home?

It’s also amusing that you think I’m objecting to corking when I’ve often argued that breaking laws on bikes is both natural and reasonable. In fact, I’m about to bike commute home where I will likely run at least 2 red lights (and likely violate a handful of other “irrelevant to safety” traffic laws as well).

joan
joan
10 months ago
Reply to  soren (sorin)

I don’t think we can cite standard corking practice without a lot more discussion. This post and comments make it clear that, among folks who regularly participate in large, social rides, there are incredibly divergent opinions, particularly around the best approaches with transit.

soren (sorin)
soren (sorin)
10 months ago
Reply to  joan

I don’t think this is a “corking” issue at all but rather an issue with ride leaders not communicating to ride participants that transit should have priority. I hope the “Street Trust” implements better training for its ride leaders in the future.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
10 months ago
Reply to  soren (sorin)

where I will likely run at least 2 red lights

Yeah, a lot of vehicle drivers feel as you do. Stop signs, red lights, who needs ’em, right?

soren (sorin)
soren (sorin)
10 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

Cages (and buses) are inherently unsafe so if drivers felt like I do they would drive as if they could kill a human being every minute they drive.

Watts
Watts
10 months ago
Reply to  soren (sorin)

What does “inherently unsafe” even mean? Safety is a continuum, not a binary, and can only really be evaluated in the context of the benefits it provides.

Is walking safer? Sometimes, sometimes not. Context is everything.

soren (sorin)
soren (sorin)
10 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Walking is orders of magnitude safer when done in an environment where primates aren’t driving cages in a reckless manner (the default in this dystopian society).

Matthew Groener
Matthew Groener
10 months ago

“I assumed…” is not a reasonable thing to say when dealing with a multi ton vehicle.

bjorn
bjorn
10 months ago

It occurred to me today when thinking about the dangerous behavior of the driver of the bus today that Oregon has a law in place for corking with motor vehicles that would have made what he did a class D traffic violation punishable by a fine. That law is ORS 811.802, and requires that all road users yield the right of way to motor vehicle funeral processions. The two may not seem that similar at first but when you think about it both represent infrequent events when it is safer and more efficient to keep the main group together and delay cross traffic for a brief period. It is my belief that a law legalizing corking for group rides with a minimum number of riders, maybe ~30-40, based on the language of the existing funeral procession law would be a good idea.

J_R
J_R
10 months ago
Reply to  bjorn

The “corking” that is allowed for a funeral procession is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

It took a couple decades to get the Oregon stop law passed through the legislature. I doubt you can even find a legislator who would be willing to sponsor the legislation to allow bicyclists to fundamentally override the standard right-of-way prescribed by the existing law.

bjorn
bjorn
10 months ago
Reply to  J_R

I’m pretty familiar with the timeline of the Idaho Stop, I think this would be a similar level of effort to get passed, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea. I’ve been stopped by more funeral processions in my life than corking for group rides, and I feel confident in saying there are far more funeral processions than group rides of more than 40 people, likely by several orders of magnitude.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
10 months ago
Reply to  bjorn

As a person who hasn’t owned a car for 35 years, who cycles thousands of miles a year for all purposes and is very much in favor of laws that make driving way less convenient and punish dangerous behavior severely – I would oppose that law to the end.

As a utility cyclist I don’t get to limit my riding to big group rides and bike paths. I ride in traffic (I *am* traffic) and I rely on the operators of those multi-ton machines to not have simmering rage towards cyclists because a bunch of yahoos decided they have the right to stop others in there tracks for several minutes at a time.

It’s rude. It’s unsafe. I makes *me* less safe out there.

Just bloody well wait at a red light if there’s traffic. It’s really not hard. Any thing else *reeks* of entitlement and privilege.

Blanche
Blanche
10 months ago
Reply to  bjorn

Are you really comparing a funeral to a fun ride?

bjorn
bjorn
10 months ago
Reply to  Blanche

No I am not comparing the funeral, I am comparing the methodology used to keep a funeral procession together to how a mid-sized group ride can be safely kept together. One thing that seems clear from the responses is that people can be broken down into 2 groups, people who have led rides of 40-100 people and people who have not. It is a pretty stressful experience to be responsible for that many people’s safety and corking is one way to improve the safety of a ride like that.

Jorgensen
Jorgensen
10 months ago

Unfortunately, this video contributes to a bias informed assessment.
What event was this, was it an “event” or was it a meetup? Was it permitted event such as the Portland Century or Bridge Pedal, or was it just a casual group of riders? That’s important because if it’s just a casual group, then corking is … ambitious.

Whether your 7 or 70 riders, if it’s just a meetup, then you must – must obey traffic laws wherever safe to do so. Preventing the group from getting separated does not register as a safety issue for me, so that’s a no from me.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, but then again neither does one wrong.

Fred
Fred
10 months ago

I’m coming to this discussion a day late and I see there are 67 comments, but about half of them are by JM. 😉

I’ve been cycling for many years but the concept – as well as the term – “corking” is new to me, though I now realize I witnessed corking many years ago on a street corner in San Francisco on a Friday evening when HUNDREDS of cyclists flew through the intersection over 3-4 light cycles. My reaction was, “Holy s**t – these people are crazy.”

I agree with the other commenters who say that you really shouldn’t have invoked “corking privilege” in this situation: the ride was small and unofficial. But I also agree that once you decided to cork, the bus driver should not have acted so aggressively. I’m a frequent transit user as well as a cyclist, and I’ve complained about bus drivers who drive aggressively. If you drive aggressively, you should NOT be driving a 70,000-lb bus – the stakes are just too high. In my experience, women make the best bus drivers b/c they are more patient.

I hope everyone learns from this experience, including you, JM. It’s a privilege to get so much feedback from your readers.

Tom
Tom
10 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I share the same thoughts. Legality aside, corking makes some sense in heavy traffic like rush hour when you’re trying to get a large group through together. That’s been my experience from critical mass and group rides at least.

New Year’s day in downtown Portland during the pandemic has…almost no traffic. Seems to me there’s really no need to cork. Just let the one bus through and you have all the streets to yourself.

SD
SD
10 months ago

There are at least two separate issues here that are being inappropriately conflated. One, the benefit or harm of corking on group rides and two, the dangerous behavior of a professional bus driver. I see them as very separate discussions, but I also think that dangerous driving is only justified in extremely rare circumstances. This discussion would be more productive if the two were addressed individually. Otherwise, the infinite loop of Next Door pedestrian/ bike shaming could just be pasted here.

The third issue, which is worth considering, is the value of group rides in a city. Many commenters seem to think of group rides as a selfish pleasure. I see them as a public good and key to revitalizing active transportation and positive/ fun uses of public spaces in Portland.

Something about this post and comments more than anything I’ve read on Bike Portland has made me feel that Portland bike culture has diminished in this comment section and maybe more broadly. Maybe, it’s just the lack of familiarity with group rides, which have been a staple. I totally understand why Jonathan is trying his best to convey the context of this event.

Watts
Watts
10 months ago
Reply to  SD

This discussion would be more productive if the two were addressed individually.

I agree. It would also be more productive if the conversation were based on the available evidence.

The dangerous behavior of a professional bus driver.

What was shown in the video does not support your characterization. It does, however, support contentions of poorly behaved cyclists, so perhaps we can move on to that part of the conversation.

SD
SD
10 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I believe the people who were there, are very trustworthy and have years of experience biking in these situations. I have multiple videos of near-misses and aggressive dangerous driving that look like nothing unusual happened.

Characterizing the cyclists as poorly behaved does nothing to move the conversation about corking forward.

Watts
Watts
10 months ago
Reply to  SD

Characterizing the cyclists as poorly behaved does nothing to move the conversation about corking forward.

Did I mischaracterize the behavior shown in the video? Or is even an accurate report of what is shown somehow damaging to the conversation?

Steve
Steve
10 months ago
Reply to  SD

Also, why are some commentators doing what what some motorists do, lumping all cyclists together so all are responsible for some? If some cyclists went through a red light, why are trailing cyclists going through a green light at fault and subject to retaliation?

buildwithjoe
10 months ago

The real question is what is the complaint and citation record on this driver at trimet and before Trimet Can we find that in any way. I would like the name and records of the Trimet driver who nearly killed me on video. These are not accidents.
https://youtu.be/4r1fGWeASfE

Fred
Fred
10 months ago
Reply to  buildwithjoe

Great video. “Sorry – I didn’t see you there” = “I am not qualified to drive a 70,000-lb bus.”

buildwithjoe
10 months ago

It is worth double posting. Look at the PDF data report cyclists and pedestrian victims can request for free. In my case the driver killed me, almost, because at Albina and Killingsworth he became 2 minutes late, then went well over the speed limit to make up time. I was going 25 down a hill on my standard bike. He passed me going well over 30 and then right hooked me into the curb South of Missisippi and Skidmore.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/19BWS2pD11SnSUdIm_cqTqZbLm2t8SFkd/view?usp=sharing

data report above,

Watts
Watts
10 months ago

A point no one else has raised is that the headline photo clearly shows there were no other vehicles behind the bus. Watch the video again and ask how disruptive to the flow of cyclists it would have been to let the bus proceed and have the ride continue behind it. I’m betting very few riders even would have had to slow down.

The corking here seems so pointless.

Kimberly Kinchen
10 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I get corking in general and have been on some bike rides where I’ve seen some full-on homocidal inexcusable behavior on the part of drivers.

But it’s disappointing that so few folks here make a distinction between the consequences of corking a bus and a private vehicle for the people inside those vehicles.

People who *can’t* drive (I am one of them) day in and out so often deal with missed connections, bad transit timing, and subpar street infrastructure that messes with their basic ability to get around. Those of us who bike could consider that we have more in common with people on the bus than with an individual behind the wheel of a car. They are on average more likely to belong to marginalized communities that already put up with a lot. Even a short 5-minute delay for a person on a bus could mean a missed connection and being 30 minutes late to work or a doctor appointment or their only window to grab some groceries. Whereas most of the time a 5-minute delay for a solo driver doesn’t multply their delay by the same factor. Set aside the bus driver’s behavior here – which was really crappy, without a doubt. What of even a handful of people on the bus who have no other reasonable or viable way of getting to work or to conduct their lives? I would love to see the default for corking allow for this, and for corkers and riders to expect to stop for transit vehicles. Faster riders on such a ride can wait up for slower riders with rides organized to recognize that short delays of transit have much worse effects on transit riders than they do on people driving their private cars.

Sorry Watts, I meant to post to the thread in general rather than @ you.