New to Portland: Too nice drivers, lost on greenways, IKEA, and more

Took the scenic route along Marine Drive, thanks to a suggestion from a friend. (Photos: Erin Bailie/BikePortland)

This is the second post in my “New to Portland” column. In my first post, I shared my thoughts as a visitor to town. Now that I’m here and settling in, I’m excited to share a few tales from my first few weeks as a Portlander. 


I moved to Portland at the end of January, and I would be remiss not to acknowledge that I’m lucky to have completely dodged the ice storm. It’s clear the storm has been a hardship on the city, and that residents, businesses, and infrastructure are recovering from its impacts. On my first day in town, I encountered bike lanes filled with gravel and thought about complaining about the inconvenience; but when street sweepers quickly cleaned the bike lanes in my neighborhood, I realized the disruption was only temporary.

In the few weeks I’ve been in Portland, I’ve prioritized bicycling as my form of transit as much as I can. The unseasonably warm and dry weather has made it easy to make this choice. My destinations have included the mundane — the gym, my office, the grocery store — as well as more unique trips like IKEA, several furniture stores, and Bike Happy Hour. When I can remember, I track my riding with a tool called wandrer.earth which lets me know if I’ve ridden any new-to-me stretches of road. According to Wandrer, I’ve ridden 54 new miles in the first week!

Thank you to the reader who suggested the Portland Bike Map! I’ve kept a copy in my handlebar bag, and it’s been helpful for planning rides. 
Naito Parkway was filled with gravel. I’m grateful for wider tires, but from 2004 until 2019 I rode a bike with 25mm tires and would have been afraid to ride this.
I love dedicated bike boxes in intersections, and the small blue lights which let me know my presence has been detected. 

I’ve made a goal to navigate using neighborhood greenway signs instead of programming a route into my GPS computer, and for the most part, it’s worked well. But, there have been a few mishaps. Occasionally I “lose” a neighborhood greenway. The greenway will zig-zag, and I’ll fail to see the signage, finding myself on a street that doesn’t have protected crossings. I usually realize this when I try to cross Cesar Chavez or Sandy Blvd and don’t have a protected crossing. My most annoying moment of being lost took place on Lloyd Blvd near the Steel Bridge. For the life of me, I couldn’t find the entrance to the Eastbank Esplanade from NE Lloyd Blvd, and rode back and forth along the sidewalk until I spotted a bicyclist using the entrance. I’m not sure I would have found it otherwise! 

The only time I departed from the neighborhood greenway strategy was when I went to IKEA. (No, I didn’t plan to carry my furniture home on my gravel bike — my husband met me there after work, and we drove home together with our purchases and my bike.) I planned a route to IKEA via NE Cully Blvd and Lombard, but when I shared my plan with some friends, they suggested I take the “scenic route” via 33rd and Marine Drive instead. I’m so glad that my friends intervened. Not only was my ride along the river relaxing, but after driving home on Lombard, I now realize it would have been a stressful ride during rush hour. 

I’m still having some culture shock, specifically related to how drivers interact with me as a rider. Every city has its own unwritten traffic rules. In Pittsburgh, drivers making a left-hand turn do the “Pittsburgh Left” and turn through the intersection before oncoming traffic or pedestrians have a chance to get in the way. I’ve discovered Portland’s quirky traffic habit: the “Portland Wait.” A Portland Wait is what happens when drivers stop for cyclists even when the driver has right of way. 

[ Being “nice” is dangerous and could make you at fault in a collision ]

I need to be careful writing this, because it does feel great to be seen and yielded to. But it’s not great when one driver is stopped and anxiously waiting for me to roll forward, but other drivers in the intersection continue to follow right-of-way rules. Sometimes drivers will even wave me on, when I can see there’s oncoming traffic that has not stopped for me. If I were to follow their guidance, I would surely be hit! The worst instance of this happened while crossing MLK near the Morrison Street Bridge. I waited what felt like ages (it was probably a minute or two) while one lane of traffic stopped to allow me to cross while other lanes of traffic continued past. Eventually the driver got fed up, kept driving, and a break in traffic allowed for a safe crossing.

I’m curious; how do BikePortland readers handle these situations? 

It’s been a wild week with lots of chores and errands, and I’ve been longing to join rides from the Shift calendar. Now that the boxes are unpacked and the furniture assembled, my evenings and weekends are free for more social rides. I can’t wait to join a few, and get to know other riders in town. 

Erin Bailie (Columnist)

Erin Bailie (Columnist)

Erin Bailie is a recent transplant from Seattle, and she writes about the experiences of adapting to a new city and new infrastructure. Erin commutes to meetings, errands, and social events via bike. She also enjoys cycling for sport, especially velodromes and mountain biking.

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Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

Hi Erin,
Thanks for writing this. The thing at intersections is super annoying to me too. One way to prevent it is being overly demonstrative with your body language when you approach an intersection. That is, make sure drivers can see that you are planning to stop by putting a foot down, looking down at the ground, and so on. Using my body to communicate to drivers is often really helpful – especially for folks who just assume I won’t stop and/or who have this weird, paternalistic urge to try and wave me along as if I can’t take care of myself.

dw
dw
3 months ago

paternalistic urge to try and wave me along as if I can’t take care of myself.

Hit the nail on the head right there. My favorite is when one driver will stop, but the other lanes are still moving. They’ll flash their lights and try to wave me through while every other lane is still moving. I refuse to move in that situation. They ultimately get frustrated and speed off, sometimes with a middle finger or insult my way. I’m like, “Oh, you weren’t trying to be nice, you were just trying to perform being nice.”

PdxPhoenix
PdxPhoenix
3 months ago
Reply to  dw

I call it conspicuous consideration.

maxD
maxD
3 months ago

I agree Jonathan. I avoid direct eye contact and will not try to interpret hand signals that are difficult to see through tinted windows or reflective glare. People driving assume you can see them, but it is really not safe. But if people are stopped and it is otherwise I clear, I try to very clearly signal with body language that I am going to proceed- again, no direct eye contact that can be misconstrued, but keep a close watch peripherally!

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  maxD

When I am about to go straight from a stopped position, I will often wave one arm over my head – kind of like that racist “tomahawk” gesture that some sports fans use – to indicate to drivers that I am going straight thru the intersection and they need to give way. It usually works, but not always.

prioritarian
prioritarian
3 months ago

I increasingly see drivers with right of way slow down and stare at me with a puzzled look when I’m at a one-way stop sign or in a different lane — something that never happened in the 2010s. From my perspective, the hesitation is not only about being nice to people cycling but rather shock at the novelty of seeing someone riding a bike at all.

PS: During my daily 7:30 AM commute I see another person cycling about once a week. 10 years ago I would have seen many people cycling every day.

Serenity
Serenity
3 months ago

Ugh, I *hate* it when I people seem to assume that I’m not going to stop at a red light!

dw
dw
3 months ago

The intersection thing annoys me as well! Especially on multi-lane roads. I try to clearly communicate that I am stopping, sometimes I’ll point to the stop sign, and I often “look past” the car that has stopped to the other lanes to show that there are still cars moving. I also just accept that I look like the bad buy in their eyes if they’re waving me through and I’m not going.

Some places, like where some greenways cross collectors and arterials, there are “cross-bikes” painted. I think a lot of drivers assume they mean the same thing as crosswalks, which they technically don’t. Personally, I’d like to see the law change so that cross bikes mean the exact same things as crosswalks at un-signaled intersections; drivers must yield. Seems to be the prevailing behavior anyway and it would make the experience of biking more predictable and convenient, in my opinion.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
3 months ago
Reply to  dw

What scares me on multilane crossings is that a few frustrated drivers sometimes try to pass traffic on the left, on the center turn lane or even on a contraflow lane (the two lanes in the opposite direction). Even scarier is getting stuck on the center turn lane waiting to cross a busy 5-lane stroad where there’s a mile or more gap between signals and no parallel local streets and some idiot (driver) tries to use the center lane as a left merge lane from a nearby curb cut.

James
James
3 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

You use the term “curb cut” which implies you are familiar with traffic engineering (a driveway is a kind of curb cut). However, people that use the center turn lane (TWTL) to merge are not idiots. They are using it correctly. Below from the ODOT drivers manual.

“You may turn from a side street or driveway into a two–way left turn lane. You must stop to wait for traffic to clear before moving into the lane to your right. Make sure the left turn lane is clear in both directions before entering the lane. It is illegal to use these lanes to speed up and merge with traffic or for passing cars to access a turn lane at an intersection.”

Fred
Fred
3 months ago

H Erin: I enjoyed your column, but I had to laugh at your reference to a “protected crossing,” since out here in SW, we don’t have any – besides the usual crosswalks for peds, and even then you take your life into your hands b/c drivers turn through crosswalks regularly.

I hope you will bike out to SW and experience “The Wild West” of Portland cycling. Remember when you come up Barbur (not a pleasant ride but a gentle incline b/c it was a railroad), be very careful on the two bridges where you lose the bike lane. It’ll happen to you again and again on Barbur – you can’t count on having a bike lane out here. You can thank ODOT for that.

Beth H
Beth H
3 months ago

When I encounter a nice car driver who wants to give me THEIR right of way, I point at the stop sign and invite him to go through. This usually works. Usually. Sometimes they just stare at me in confusion.
I think the residue of treating bicycles as toys or sporting goods and NOT as vehicles influences this behavior, and indicates there is more education needed.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago

On my first day in town, I encountered bike lanes filled with gravel and thought about complaining about the inconvenience; but when street sweepers quickly cleaned the bike lanes in my neighborhood, I realized the disruption was only temporary.

In past years, gravel would be on the roads until summertime. This is the first time, perhaps ever, that the gravel was removed so quickly (at least in the places I’ve been riding). It’s a near miracle, but PBOT deserves credit for cleaning up their mess so promptly.

Thank you, PBOT, and thank you Commissioner Mapps.

the entrance to the Eastbank Esplanade 

Be careful not to “cut the corner” there, or you could be in for a nasty crash. The danger is pretty clear in daylight, a little less so at night.

I’m curious; how do BikePortland readers handle these situations? 

When one driver waves for me to cross, but it’s not really safe to go past where they are, I’ll often move out in front of them and stop to wait for the next lane to clear. I feel pretty safe doing that, it acknowledges their “helpfulness”, and makes apparent what the problem they’ve created is. Usually other cars will stop once I’m in the road and the situation will resolve quickly, but occasionally we just have to wait. Since the driver invited me, they rarely get angry at being blocked.

Like most everyone else, I would prefer it if people just followed the rules, but there’s so little goodwill on the streets that I like to recognize drivers whey they try to “help”.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Spot on about the gravel removal, Watts – see my comment below (if it gets approved). I’m less gracious toward PBOT than you are, since I think that’s how it should always be. We shouldn’t lower our expectations to the point where basic competence is viewed as some sort of miracle.

1kW
1kW
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Oh Yeah! Watch that right hand hairpin from the Llyod blvd sidewalk, it’s like mostly invisible stairs! …that thing needs a signage/stantion/complete redesign (something!) badly. Welcome to Portland!

Lowell
Lowell
3 months ago

The key to dealing with overly nice drivers is eye contact, or more specifically the lack of it. The best way to keep a driver from stopping when you don’t want them to is to NOT make eye contact. Deliberately do not acknowledge them. If you see out of the corner of your eye that they stopped anyways, emphatically wave them on while refusing to look at them.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  Lowell

yes I agree with this. That’s why I will look down or look the other direction as I slow down/stop. Unfortunately we are often told by gov’t that making eye contact is the best thing to do! And it is in most situations. But with this too nice phenomenon, it just invites drivers to try and wave you through.

PdxPhoenix
PdxPhoenix
3 months ago

Just wave back w a goofy smile on your face, maybe?

I'll Show UP
I'll Show UP
3 months ago

Hmmm… given a choice of too kind or too aggressive, I know which one I prefer. When that happens to me, I bring my bike out into that first lane that is stopped. I peek into the second lane, but don’t enter until that lane has also stopped. Invariably, when I do this, the second lane sees I’m crossing and stops. The thing not to do is to ride across the street at full pace without checking each lane. It’s also good practice to check each lane before entering when crossing as a pedestrian.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

Erin, I’ve really enjoyed your two posts.

As long as we are in a BP-payroll hub here, can I share a story regarding Portland nice?

Actually, some of that is just Portland-never-learned-the-rules-of-the-road.

15 years ago I was driving on a minor street, stopped at my stop sign waiting for traffic to clear so I could make a left onto Patton (a two-lane, yellow centerlined collector). This woman, oh my God, pulls up to her Patton stop sign across street (going the opposite direction as me) and she has her signal on to make a right turn.

Only she doesn’t make her right — even though its clear on her side!!!! No, no, no, she’s obviously under the impression that, because I arrived my stop sign before her, that she has to wait for all my traffic to clear, and then for me to make my left before she can make her right turn into what is a clear lane.

Look, I just wanted this woman the hell out of my way. But I was also kind of fascinated by how far this might go. So when the traffic cleared on my side, I decided not to make my left. I wasn’t in a hurry, I had all day, and she had priority.

So we both sat there with no traffic on Patton. Eventually I started fooling with my purse. LOL. I know, this doesn’t make me look good. But it was kind of an experiment, I mean how passive was this person?

Eventually, eventually — and we are talking close to a minute — the woman gets really exasperated and makes her right. I followed with a left, and off we both drove into the sunset (her in front).

Anyway, that’s my story, I’ve never encountered anything close to that outside of Portland.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
3 months ago

I encounter it all the time out here in NC. I suspect your driver had lived in (or was originally from) the Deep South or the Midwest. I’ve met lots of people here who used to live in the Northwest, Portland even, and eventually moved back to the South because it was so much more affordable (or missed the too-nice friendly culture here – and people here are a lot nicer – to a fault.) The too-nice-to-the-point-of-danger driving culture is also common in the parts of the Midwest.

When I lived in Portland (1997-2015) I kept forgetting that the majority of Portland residents were not born in Oregon, that they moved from elsewhere, often from places well beyond the Cascades. I know I did.

1kW
1kW
3 months ago

I just lean my elbows over on my handlebars, both feet planted. Can’t control anyone but yourself.

Jay T.
3 months ago

I look forward to this discussion here. On my most recent cycling visit to Portland (8/2023), I found myself taking rights of way when overly polite people in cars offered them. This surprised me, as I teach this stuff to new riders in Corvallis and Sweet Home. Do many Portland bicycle riders proceed when waved through?

Non-legal wave-throughs create unpredictable situations. The person on a bike is more vulnerable, while the person who stopped their auto has more power, more legal rights and has demonstrated less heed for the law.

I tend to use body language first, even to the point of taking a drink from my water bottle or extracting a handkerchief to wipe my nose. I find it effective to point at the stop sign near me and say, “I have a stop sign.”

We can restore predictability by dismounting, entering a crosswalk and walking across the street. Picked this strategy up from a rider in my town who’s a scholar of non-violent direct action.

Jay T.
3 months ago

I use it when in a standoff with someone who’s trying so persistently to be nice that I can’t out wait them.

JM
JM
3 months ago

If someone’s nice enough to stop for me, I move in front of their vehicle and wait for a driver in the next lane to stop.

I’ve seen pedestrians and drivers get into a handwaving argument over who should go first (I know rules are different, but same idea of niceness still applies). I understand newcomers wanting to change people’s behaviors or whatever, but honestly the best thing to do sometimes is go with the flow and adapt to where you live.

The only issue I have is the lack of predictability. You have a lot of longtime locals that act a certain way. A lot of transplants that have sort of adjusted. And then newcomers who can’t seem to understand that people act differently than where they came from. These are all generalizations, of course. But if I can expect that most folks will behave a certain way, then I can make decisions that are based on that. Everything seems to be a little unpredictable these days.

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
3 months ago

Agree with others. I’ve pointed at my stop sign. I generally don’t make eye contact – sometimes try to look like I’m distracted or looking the opposite direction from where they are positioned and wait them out until they eventually take their right of way. Blacked out car windows are an increasing hazard as well. Maybe the driver is waving you through but how would you know?
And I’ve actually told drivers “I don’t need you to be nice; I need you to be predictable.”

idlebytes
idlebytes
3 months ago

While I generally dislike the ‘Portland wait’ as well and use most of the techniques already shared here for some roads it’s the only way to get past the constant stream of cars. For those roads I generally don’t wait for a nice-hole to stop for me and I’ll go to the crosswalk and assert my right of way when it’s safe to enter the road. Most people stop but not always so I’ll have to wait in the first lane until a driver in the next lane does what they’re supposed to do.

Sometimes I’ll get yelled at or mean mugged but that’s nothing new since drivers generally don’t know the rules of the road. The amount of drivers that are convinced the only way I’m allowed to use the crosswalk is if I dismount my bike is appalling.

TheCowabungaDude
3 months ago

I call those drivers “niceholes.”

squareman
squareman
3 months ago

i have a word for drivers that abdicate their right of way and insist you risk your life against other traffic: niceholes!

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  squareman

Cowabunga Dude says: “Jinx on you, squareman!”

Old Potato
Old Potato
3 months ago

You guys. The ‘Portland wait’ drives me crazy too, but y’all are attributing it to some pretty hilarious reasons – like paternalism!! Seriously Maus, thank you for that.

Car drivers in Portland pretty routinely wait for bikes at intersections because most bicyclists in this town blow through lights and stop signs on a regular basis. Myself included. Seriously.

MelK
MelK
3 months ago

On a good Portland-nice note, I was waiting to cross a road once with two lanes in each direction and the driver to my right not only stopped for me, but positioned his car in a way that physically blocked both lanes so no one could pass him as I crossed. Of course, I still had to watch and wait for traffic from the other direction, but I figured this guy gets it and won’t get impatient if I wait until both directions are safe. When I crossed, I gave him a friendly salute and thought to myself, you definitely bike.

Oh how I wish drivers ed classes and getting a driver’s license also required a certain number of hours cycling on public streets. Obviously a proposal like that would get screamed down and ironically criticized as unsafe, but a girl can dream.

Michael
Michael
3 months ago

Re “niceholes”: My go to is to sit up on my bike and give them an exaggerated wave-through (the same kind of wave that they often give me) while I roll my eyes and give them an exasperated or dirty look.

I can empathize with them a bit, though. I think many drivers see the green bikeway paint in an intersection and assume that they need to give the same deference to cyclists that they would to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Most of my encounters with niceholes are at these marked intersections, and I’m not sure what the best way to educate drivers is, beyond the one encounter at a time tactic.

nic.cota
nic.cota
3 months ago

I’m an outlier, but when somebody stops and lets me roll through an intersection (and the opposing direction of traffic does, too) I usually do a lil thank you wave. People generally want to feel like they’re nice, too, even if it is confusing and dangerous. It also gives folks who bike a good word out to drivers who may not bike for some of their trips.

But I just want to make sure that new folks biking in Portland (and all people who end up riding for their next trip) know:

they DO NOT have the right of way if there’s a stop sign for them at an intersection. You are legally a vehicle in the roadway. Even the ‘crossbikes’ in the intersection: they have no legal implication and are only there to provide more visibility. Anyone stopping for you is being nice, and anyone not: is simply obeying the law.

(PS: Legal cheat code is that you can ride up onto the sidewalk (yield to peds!) and wait at the curb ramp to cross. THEN you have the legal right of way, as you are no longer considered a vehicle if you are crossing in the crosswalk at/near walking speed. But buyer beware: drivers don’t like to stop for pedestrians, either)

Andrew S
Andrew S
3 months ago

The “too nice” thing does happen occasionally with drivers, but what happens far more often (and more infuriating to me) is when a pedestrian or bike rider is too nice and doesn’t assert their place and right of way. This happens in two ways, either they stand/wait too far back from the street (even at a marked crossing), or they wave a driver on when the driver is otherwise obligated to stop. I think most people mean well, but this at best helps reinforce car brain, and at worst creates a hazardous situation for others. An example is the 4-way stop where the SE Harrison greenway crosses 20th. It’s happened to me a few times where I’m trying to cross on a bike, and a pedestrian waves the car traffic through when I have no intention of yielding my right of way to the cars. Don’t speak for everyone else at an intersection by waving vehicles through when they’re required to stop.

Sorry to take your observation on a tangent. Some people are niceholes, some people are mean-holes, independent of their mode of transportation. The share of niceholes seems to be higher among those that are walking or biking.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew S

What kind of “hole” are you then?

Andrew S
Andrew S
3 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

Donut

SD
SD
3 months ago

We all want traffic interactions to be consistent and orderly, but I find there is a lot of variation at different intersections. After dealing with this a lot as a kid-transporter who probably gets offered more altruistic ROWs than a typical bike rider, I have two dominant principles.

One, I am not responsible for the emotions or feelings of the stopped driver. They and all of the cars behind them can hang out there all day if they want to. I did not force them to make the mistake of choosing car.

Two, I will not take on a single extra ounce of risk to speed the situation along or accommodate traffic, i.e., going before I am sure that the other lanes are clear.

Practically, when a driver stops, a full stop- not a slow roll, I don’t look at them, but I make it clear that I am looking at the other lanes to see what the other traffic is doing. I almost exaggerate this a little so that it is clear to the stopped driver.

There are very few intersections where this is needed or where drivers do this routinely, but one of my regular routes now includes Cesar Chavez and NE Ankeny. I appreciate the Portland Wait very much at this intersection and it seems like drivers are accustomed to stopping here. A signal would be better.

My advice to someone experiencing this as a new phenomena. Be cold and dispassionate. This is not an act of kindness, they are not your new friend. It is just people moving from one place to another as safely as possible. If you want, give them a little wave to acknowledge that they are trapped inside a car or give them a little “sign of the cross” to momentarily absolve them of the sin of driving.

Aaron
3 months ago

Hi Erin! Welcome to Portland, glad you’re here! I have had the exact same issue crossing intersections and especially on MLK where there are multiple travel lanes in each direction that exact situation has happened to me. There’s really no solution, sometimes I will wave them on if there is clearly no way I can cross despite them stopping for me. I’ve even had cars that stop to let me cross actually ruin what would have been a break in traffic by changing the traffic patterns. The only solution I’ve found is to just wait it out until it becomes safe by my own judgement, regardless of what certain drivers want me to do.

You should definitely join some group rides from the Shift calendar! Portland’s group bike ride culture is probably my favorite part about this city. If you have an iPhone consider downloading the free “Bike Fun” app I made which allows you to browse the calendar in a format that’s a bit more phone friendly.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago

On my first day in town, I encountered bike lanes filled with gravel and thought about complaining about the inconvenience; but when street sweepers quickly cleaned the bike lanes in my neighborhood, I realized the disruption was only temporary.

There’s no way you could know that the street clean-up response was completely unique! In my many years of living in Portland, I have never witnessed such a display of governmental competence. I’m still amazed about it and have no idea where it came from.

All I can say, to Portlanders new and old, is: Don’t get used to it.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

In my many years of living in Portland, I have never witnessed such a display of governmental competence. I’m still amazed about it and have no idea where it came from.

Might there be an election coming up? A new city administrator about to be hired who can hire and fire other people at will? A transportation commissioner who wants to be mayor? Maybe even a new director at PBOT who in spite of a bad start and many detractors might actually be competent?

Michael
Michael
3 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

My trust in Mr. Mapps is far from restored, but I am certainly heartened by the clean-up effort post-storm. Perhaps at this point I can at least be comfortable ranking him over Mr. Gonzalez when I get my ballot in October.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago

I’m going to make a polite request that we all refrain from words like “nicehole”. Most of the time we complain that drivers are too aggressive and are unwilling to share the road. Let’s not slur people who are trying to do the opposite, even if some of their attempts are misguided.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

We can use that word here – no one but cyclists are in this space.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Wrong. I haven’t been a cyclist since a little before COVID. Transit, auto, and limited walking now. Just because I may not ride doesn’t make me ignorant of issues from many perspectives.

RC
RC
3 months ago

I’m curious; how do BikePortland readers handle these situations?

I get off my seat, stand, and cross my arms. If they still don’t get the message, I vigorously wave them on. Usually the erroneous driver speeds off grumpily.

Matt Villers
Matt Villers
3 months ago

I’ll happily take “too nice” over the opposite, but I’ve also experienced those awkward waiting games at intersections.

I actually think a lot of it comes from people not understanding how Idaho stop works. I’ve had drivers I yielded to roll down their window to say things like “bro you know you can go through the stop right?”, and they were genuinely confused when I tried to explain that I still had to yield in the presence of other traffic.

It might be wishful thinking, but what I’d love to see is drivers just going slowly and carefully in cases where they have right of way but are concerned a cyclist may fail to yield. It’s not like their car’s only two possible settings are “stop” and “floor it”.

Jay T.
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt Villers

Since the advent of slow and go for bikes, when approaching a stop sign and expecting to yield to other traffic, I’ve taken to offering a clear stop signal with my left arm out and bent down. The folks in cross traffic that still understand arm signals will know that I plan to stop. I hope they start moving and clear the intersection sooner.

SD
SD
3 months ago

I should also mention that, from behind the windshield, I sometimes am enjoying going slow and love to have an excuse to stop and stop traffic. I think the bike riders commenting that they are bothered by drivers stopping for them are feeling the anxiety of being a driver. We got to let that oppressive mindset go.

Joseph E
Joseph E
3 months ago

Re: “while crossing MLK near the Morrison Street Bridge. I waited what felt like ages (it was probably a minute or two) while one lane of traffic stopped to allow me to cross while other lanes of traffic continued past.”

In Portland you can usually start crossing, slowly and carefully, in this case, and the other lanes will stop as well. But be alert and keep your hands on the brakes.

Maria (Bicycle Kitty)
Maria (Bicycle Kitty)
3 months ago

Welcome to Portland, Erin! I love hearing the bike adventures of a new Portlander.

To deal with aggressive yielders, I’ve had to dismount my bike, walk to the sidewalk and turn my back to them to convince them I wouldn’t be crossing. The whole interaction takes longer than if everyone just followed the right of way rules.
One time after a driver insisted I cross, I went ahead and then they heckled me for crossing slowly.

Anyway, my best solution to this scenario has been to smile and wave and hope the driver can understand.

Nick
Nick
3 months ago

when I try to cross Cesar Chavez or Sandy Blvd and don’t have a protected crossing

even some of the greenways lack protected crossings, Ankeny and Couch on Cesar Chavez, and 72nd on Sandy being a couple of the worst ones I ride regularly

PdxPhoenix
PdxPhoenix
3 months ago

I refer to those who insist on that “Portland Stop” as using conspicuous consideration. As in “See how nice I am; I’m letting you go first.” No you putz, you are not. You are nearly demanding I go in front of you. Sorry, mate, I do not trust you & I certainly do not trust the other drivers, for whom you do not speak. YUCK
I’m taking a break. I put both feet down & take a drink of water. And if they’d’ve just proceeded like they’re supposed to have, I could have gone after them & before the oncoming traffic got too close. Now I have to wait for them to pass too…

Same ones who whine about cyclists breaking traffic laws.Ugh.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  PdxPhoenix

Nice people are such jerks!

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
3 months ago

With my vision I actually can’t see into most cars. I have no idea why a driver has stopped out of the proper order.

My assumption is that they are looking at a screen and that any moment they will suddenly lurch into motion again. Add to that the danger of other drivers going around them while they’re stopped and I simply refuse to move.

Better yet, I got aggravated enough once to get off the bike, pick it up and go over to the sidewalk and sit down with it.

I’m envisioned Danny Devito in Ruthless People “There, THAT ought to do it!”

Serenity
Serenity
3 months ago

Welcome to Portland! Thank you for writing this, and I am so impressed that you have managed to navigate so well! I *still* manage to get completely lost here on a regular basis. It’s also far too easy to miss the signage, and wind up going way out of your way.

Ted Buehler
3 months ago

Erin —

Thanks for the nice post. Nice work taking Marine Dr to get to IKEA — it is one of the nicest bike rides in Metro Portland.

Next time you’re wondering how to get to a route or a destination, you can just ask someone. Portlanders as a whole are newbie friendly. Happy to help strangers find their way, not standoffish or aloof.

Ted Buehler

Ted Buehler
3 months ago

A few other notes on how to dissuade folks in cars from stopping for you —
1) Keep behind the stop sign until you know there is a potential gap in traffic coming.
2) If someone in a car slows down like they are going to stop, turn your front wheel sideways and look away from them.
3) If you are out past the stop sign, and there is no obvious gap in traffic coming, move backward so you are behind the stop sign again to keep traffic moving so slowing cars don’t fill in otherwise-gaps.

Ted Buehler