Two Incidents

As I rounded the turn from Oak to Broadway this morning, I only had three blocks left to my morning commute. After the turn, I have to proceed slowly in my lowest gear so as not to beat the light at the next block. There is a bike lane on this stretch of Broadway and, in this block, it passes in front of a hotel. In between the bike lane and the curb is the hotel’s curbside parking. As I leisurely rolled up the slight hill, I was only slightly surprised when a gentleman in a Lincoln opened the driver’s door without first checking if the bike lane was clear. I had a full second to react and I steered away from the gentleman and his door. He was slightly surprised and offered no apologies. I looked in my rear view mirror after I passed and he did not even give me a second look.

Halfway through the next block, a large SUV had pulled halfway out of his parking spot and was occupying the bike lane waiting for his chance to blast into traffic. I noticed that I could not see his face in the side mirror so I knew he couldn’t see me. These situations are by far the most unnerving I face. It’s very difficult to feel safe if I can’t make eye contact with the driver. However, there was quite a bit of car traffic behind me so I felt pretty sure he wasn’t going to make a sudden move out of his spot and run me over. Just to be sure he realized I was in the bike lane, as I went by, I slapped his hood twice with my open and gloved hand. He responded immediately by honking his horn angrily and, shortly after, tearing out of his spot into traffic. He accelerated up the hill towards me, but I was already passing all the cars stopped at Alder. Alder is my stop and I stepped off my bike and walked up the sidewalk as he whizzed by, unable to turn in my direction since Alder is a one way going the wrong way.

Update: TheWashCycle has a good entry about the “door zone”.

TriMet passenger vs. bicyclist

 

TriMet_rider.jpg 

A recently filed lawsuit and an article about it in the Oregonian has stirred up the bicyclists vs. motorists pot here in Portland. As described here, Randy Albright is suing TriMet for an incident that happened as he biked across the Hawthorne Bridge two years ago. The incident can be summarized as follows:

  1. Bus passes too close to biker
  2. Biker catches up to bus when it has to stop for traffic
  3. Biker proceeds to yell at bus driver who ignores him.
  4. Biker moves self and biker in front of stopped bus (in the road) and continues yelling.
  5. Angered passenger moves to front of bus.
  6. Bus driver opens door for passenger (against TriMet regulations when not at a bus stop).
  7. Passenger disembarks, beats the biker up and moves him on to the sidewalk.
  8. Passenger gets back on the bus.
  9. Driver closes the door and drives off.

The driver did not report the assault to the proper authorities and the biker ended up in the emergency room where he got stitches for his split lip. TriMet released a video of the incident. Relevant excerpts of the video are used in the graphic below to show what happened.
bike_incident.jpg
 

The Big O also did a follow-up story a few days later that described reader reactions to the original story. The anti-bike and pro-violence sentiment of many of the readers is absolutely sickening to me.

Local and national biking blogs picked up on the story and published commentary. Here’s a few:

The Oregonian also had a few letters to the editor:

As one would expect from reasonable people, most are not pleased with Mr. Albright but most are even more outraged by the actions of the passenger and the TriMet driver. Mr. Albright’s suit is against TriMet but it’s important to note that the driver died some time after the incident in an unrelated boating accident. The passenger is still “in the wind” and there is a movement afoot to locate him, but the statute of limitations on assault will run out for Mr. Albright next month.

Sources-
http://sideeffectsofxarelto.org/xarelto-lawsuits/

Right turners

Bicyclist in Portland are blessed with an abundance of bicycle lanes on our city streets. Bike lanes, however, come with their own set of problems. One of these is the right turning motorist.

The right turning motorist (RTM) often does not appear to be aware or considerate of the bike lane. Thus, the RTM does not check the bike lane before executing his right turn. The most careless will turn right into you even when you are directly in view (i.e. adjacent or in front of their hood), but that doesn’t happen often. The more common occurrence is the driver who executes the turn just as you are passing him. This is often called the “right hook”.

This morning I was riding downhill on Lloyd Blvd towards Grand Avenue. Almost everytime I take this route, I get caught by the very long traffic light at Grand because Grand has more traffic than Lloyd. Also, once it turns green, the light changes to red rather quickly.

As I rounded the curve and the light came into view, the light changed to green. Not wanting to miss the light and have to wait through a full cycle, I accelerated down the hill as fast as I could. Cars filled both lanes and were stacked up about 8 deep. As I approached each car, I checked for their right turn signal as well as the subtle drift to the left that often presages the right turn. Several cars drifted into the bike lane, but I forgave them because there is a curve there. As I neared the intersection, the light was still green and the car beside also started to drift into the bike lane. Just as I got up to her rear door, the turn signal came on about a half second after she started the right turn. Normally I would give the trunk a slap to let her know I was there, but this time I only had time to slam on the brakes and yell, “HEY!” She did turn around and I shook my fist at her as I whizzed through the intersection, still mindful of the light.

Just another day as a bike commuter.

Vital Statistics

The road home tonight was wet. Very wet. It was pouring when I rolled my bike out of the office and into the brightly lit darkness of downtown Portland. I raced the seven blocks down Stark Street to the Max Station on Front where I waited and hoped for the Blue Line. Red Line to Airport. Damn. Instead of a five minute downhill ride, I was looking at twenty minutes possibly against some vicious east wind out of the Gorge.

Thankfully, the wind was out of the south but the rain pummeled me the whole way home. When I cut across the Fred Meyer parking lot, there was a water puddle so large that it had waves rippling through it. At that moment I looked up at the sky to see that each drop of rain was clearly visible in the street lights of the parking lot. Torrential.

I stripped down to my shorts when I got home and everything went in the wash and then the dryer. Warm, dry clothes feel so good after a good soaking.

Bike odometer: 5653 miles
Current reading: Just A Geek by Wil Wheaton
Recent listening: New Roman Times/Camper Van Beethoven, Coverville, Blame The Vain/Dwight Yoakam, Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone
Recent viewing: The Colbert Report, CSI: Miami, Countdown with Keith Olberman
Recent playing: Falling Sand Game
Most Important To Do: Call DirecTV to get satellite dish fixed

Vital Statistics

Today was my first day back on my bike for about a month. The ride to the Max was smooth and dry but I had to wait 20 minutes for the photographer from the Oregonian. Caught the Red Line home which means a longer ride than I like at night and the wind was blowing very strongly from the Gorge. I couldn’t get much over 10 mph most of the way and was very tired when I got home. Listened to The Carter Family on the way to work and Kindred Spirits coming home. A fitting combination, I thought.

Bike odometer: 5631 miles
Current reading: Just A Geek by Wil Wheaton
Recent listening: The Carter Family, Kindred Spirits: A Tribute to Johnny Cash, Imagine/John Lennon
Recent viewing: Medium, CNN/MSNBC coverage of the mining accident, Fiesta Bowl
Recent playing: Falling Sand Game