What a great day for riding Friday! No rain and sunny. I even took off my long sleeve shirt for the second part of the ride. Unfortunately, my perfect ride was ruined by a perfect asshole driver. As I made my way uphill on Broadway towards Alder (the very last block of my ride to work), a car cut into the bike lane and stopped directly in front of me. The driver signalled to parallel park and there was a spot immediately to my right. Traffic was dense to my left and there was not enough room for me to pass her on the right. Also, in downtown Portland, it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk. I stopped and considered the situation.
Having been a victim of the right hook before (numerous times but I last wrote about it here), I made a decision to try to inform this driver of her illegal actions. Thus, I waited for the bike lane to become unobstructed or for the driver to get out to discuss the situation. Of course, I was preventing her from completing her parking maneuver, but I thought I had the right of way, so I waited.
Soon the passenger opened her door, got out and walked past me to survey the parking spot. Evidently satisfied with its suitability, she approached me and proceeded to yell at me for being in the way. I ignored her until she asked if I would move, to which I replied that I was waiting for them to do precisely the same thing. Furthermore, I explained that she was illegally blocking the bike lane creating a hazardous traffic situation. This made her madder and she yelled some more.
Soon, a meter maid happened by and queried the passenger about the situation. She complained about the presence of a biker in the bike lane and requested that the meter maid do something about it. She asked me my side of the story and I gave it to her, adding that I was just waiting for them and would she be writing them a ticket for illegally stopping in a bike lane? “No, she wouldn’t,” she said, “because they have a right to cross the bike lane in order to get to the parking spot.” I pointed out that they had gone beyond that and were actually stopped in the bike lane and blocking bike traffic. She requested that I back up to which I asked if she would make the same request of a car in the street. She said yes, but her eyes said no. My requests for what exactly the law had to say on the matter fell on deaf ears and soon she walked away and started muttering into the radio she carried with her. This was a bit alarming.
Since I was starting to doubt whether I was on the right side of the law, when I noticed that another car had tried to pull into the disputed parking space, I took the opportunity to take my leave on foot via the sidewalk. As I walked away, the meter maid had some more choice words to which my response was to get her identification number.
When I got to my office, I looked out the window to the scene below where it had happened (yes, right underneath my window). The two women were still talking to the meter maid but there was no sign of the cops. The meter maid was writing something down as the ladies talked, but I have no idea what it was. The cops never did show.
Out of curiousity, I checked my handbook of Oregon biking laws. It is quite unequivocal about the fact that cars must always yield to bicycles in the bike lane. Always.