Comment of the Week: Bicycling privileges

Welcome to the Comment of the Week, where we highlight good comments in order to inspire more of them. You can help us choose our next one by replying with “comment of the week” to any comment you think deserves recognition. Please note: These selections are not endorsements.


Comment of the Week

In another BikePortland first, “Comment of the Week” has selected the same commenter two weeks in a row. What can I say? For someone who is square he sure is on a roll.

BikePortland has a few commenters who are, to put it neutrally, contrarian. Like pieces of orange rind in the fruitcake, they can be counted on to provide a bitter note.

This week’s comment by Squareman pivots off one of these bits of negativity to offer a wonderful list of bicycling privileges to counter our list of driving privileges.

Here’s what Squareman wrote:

Let me start:

[Bicycling privilege is when you…]
— Can legally operate as a vehicle or a pedestrian in Oregon
— Don’t have to fill up on gas or pay gas taxes
— Don’t have to register the vehicle or use plates
— Doesn’t require a license to drive
— See the city all the better without it whizzing by
— Can more easily fix your vehicle yourself
— You’d have to try really, really hard to kill someone with a bike
— Your brain health is better
— Your heart health is better
— Traffic will never immobilize you
— You can put your vehicle on the bus or MAX
— You can ride directly on the waterfront, along the river
— Are legally allowed to roll stopsigns, provided there’s no one to yield to
— Can carry your vehicle up stairs and over obstacles (not all bikes)


Thank you Squareman! Squareman’s comment and all the others too can be found under the original post, Opinion: What driving privilege is.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero is on the board of SWTrails PDX, and was the chair of her neighborhood association's transportation committee. A proud graduate of the PBOT/PSU transportation class, she got interested in local transportation issues because of service cuts to her bus, the 51. Lisa has lived in Portland for 23 years and can be reached at lisacaballero853@gmail.com.

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Toadslick
1 year ago

I get what this comment is trying to do. I very much enjoy many of these benefits of riding a bicycle. But they are just that: benefits, not privileges that are granted by the status quo, enforced by authority and power dynamic, and assumed by those who benefit from them.

It’s great on paper, that I “can legally operate as a vehicle or a pedestrian in Oregon”, but anyone who has had to share a busy road with cars knows that that legal status hardly confers any privilege. We still have to contend with aggressive and inattentive drivers, and we know that in the event of a crash, the law will not be there to protect or advocate for us.

It’s very easy to get cynical about the state of biking in Portland, and so I’m sympathetic to the desire to share reasons for optimism. But I’m wary about this conflation of benefits and privileges because they are not at all the same.

Boyrd
Boyrd
1 year ago
Reply to  Toadslick

Comment of the week

squareman
squareman
1 year ago
Reply to  Boyrd

Yes, this is the real comment of the week, as was the the comment from El Biciclero who replied in kind on the original comment. I was simply (to borrow Lisa’s metaphor) trying to balance out the bitter rind of a previous comment.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Perillo

35 mph up a hill seems really hard to me.

⚡️
⚡️
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Perillo

That article is 8 years old. Is that your only example?

rain panther
rain panther
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Perillo

Pretty sure you’ve got a better chance of being struck by lightning than killed by a bicycle, so yeah, really.

squareman
squareman
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Perillo

“More fragile than ever”

Jerry G Arcia
Jerry G Arcia
1 year ago

Given the proliferation of e-bikes I’d say that it’s easier than ever to kill someone with a bicycle.

The “throttle” attitude that automobile drivers exhibit isn’t much different from what I see from e-bike users.

E-bikes are also heavier and harder to control. Combine this with inexperienced operators and you’ve got circumstances are that very different from that of operating a traditional bike.

squareman
squareman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry G Arcia

Alert us when we start seeing significant statistical changes to riders killing other people, mmkay?

X
X
1 year ago
Reply to  squareman

Yes–even if the very unfortunate and *not* accidental deaths of pedestrians hit by bicycle riders doubled, a thing I hope never to see, it would still be a very small number. Single digits.

Everybody has heard about that idiot in Central Park. Why? Because it’s vanishingly rare for some jerk on a bike to kill another human.

I’m somewhat concerned by ebikes but I’m alarmed, threatened and at serious risk of my life by the normal operation of motor vehicles by ordinary people.