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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Nyah, nyah, I'm more polite than you

Attention, Portland motorists: When you approach an unsignalized intersection and the cross-traffic is stopping for a stop sign, if you don't have a stop sign yourself, for the love of God do us all a favor and drive through the darn intersection. When you stop needlessly and start waving the other person through their stop sign, you are creating confusion and danger when there doesn't need to be any. You may think you're proving how courteous and safety-conscious you are, but instead you're showing what a poorly trained driver you are. If you have the right of way, they don't, and they're stopping, it's your duty to go!

Comments (32)

Thank heaven someone finally said this. I can't tell you the number of times this has happened to me. Then the problem become I am not paying attention to the driver because I am waiting for him to pass, so I don't see the wave. Learn to drive y'all.

Thank you and drive home safely.

Another one I saw yesterday........pretend your driving on a four lane 2-way roadway like 82nd av. Someone is trying to cross the street in an area where they should not do so. When you stop and wave them across the other 3 lanes of traffic they are very likely to be picked off by another car. Unless that is your intention please proceed as normal and do not stop unless they are standing in your lane.


This seems to be an exclusive to Oregon behavior.

So is driving 45 in the fast lane of the freeway and coming to a complete stop before making a right turn at a green light.

Same goes for right hand turns at a stoplight. In Oregon you can proceed after stopping, but not if there is an explicit sign that says "NO RIGHT TURN". Now if we can lobby PDOT to stop restricting traffic with these increasing "No Right Turn" signs. Of course pedestrians have the right of way when their cross walk signals signify they can cross.

Let's keep traffic moving. Oh, that's politically incorrect, sorry.

The only thing I miss about CA when I had to live there for a couple years was the much more proficient drivers. I don't know what it is. People are quicker, more efficient and flow better. People up here are so slow (especially Subarus with save the earth stickers) it seems like their heads are literally up their posterior.

Another thing that drives me wild is all the J Walkers downtown. People don't realize that they are really impeding people trying to make a legal turn on red. When you make the turn and they are J walking, they give you a dirty look.

Another thing regarding crossing the street. Most drivers do not know that each intersection, whether marked or not, is a legal crosswalk. Pedestrians have the right of way.

Also, say you're at a 4 way stop. The guy on the opposite side of the intersection of you is making a left and he arrives to the intersection a fraction of a second earlier than you did. You are going straight. It is not "his turn" you still have the right of way. You should proceed, while he proceeds half way into the intersection. Once you pass, he can make the left. This also speeds things along in the intersection. But in Oregon, everyone has a 10 second turn in which to do what they decide.

Thank god everyone has learned how to zipper merge on the freeway. This used to not be practiced here in Portland.

he arrives to the intersection a fraction of a second earlier than you did. You are going straight. It is not "his turn" you still have the right of way.

I don't think that's correct in Oregon. Readers?

I watched a loud collision occur because of precisely this mindset:

"he arrives to the intersection a fraction of a second earlier than you did. You are going straight. It is not "his turn" you still have the right of way."

Remember: Nobody HAS the right-of-way. All drivers have a duty to YIELD the right-of-way under specified conditions. Arriving after another car at an intersection is one of those conditions. I don't care how finely you slice up the second, after is after. In the resulting collision, the driver who went straight in the situation described would merit a ticket for failure to yield the right-of-way.

(Digression: Because of his familiarity with accident statistics, J Edgar Hoover would not allow his drivers to make left turns across on oncoming lane. They had to take multiple rights rather than make a left across traffic. UPS is now telling its drivers to do the same thing -- the extra distance is more than compensated by the reduced waiting time and accident costs.)

I failed the Oregon written DMV test. But when I took it a second time, I learned that the person on your right has the right of way at a stop sign. I also learned that, when following a horse, and the woman riding the horse raises her hand, that's a signal that the horse is scared and that you should not try to pass. No kidding.

And that is why I held onto my California license until long after it expired.

Drivers here (but not exclusively here) are just poorly trained, don't understand the rules, and have no experience to back up their judgments about speed, closing rates, braking distances, etc. They do know, though, how to save their turn signals for a more important future use. The phenomenon that is the subject of this blog post is a plague in NW Portland. It's especially vexing when motorists who have the right of way yield to cyclists who are required to stop.

One obscure traffic code provision that, if observed, would help the flow of cars and trucks in NW Portland: you are at a stop light on a two-way street, waiting to turn left (across the opposing traffic lane, see?) onto a one-way street. You are allowed to turn on the red (just like a right turn on red) unless you're in a left-turn refuge lane with its own red-arrow signal. Just do it!

"Poorly trained" is my theory too. Really, I'm still not used to the driving here after 11 years and I'm from the "slow pace" South. In addition to the stopping and waving plague, my biggest annoyance is with those who drive the SUV-type vehicles and feel they need to swing into the adjacent lanes to make their turns. Drivers, trust me, you can turn your wheel in the direction you want to go and your vehicle will follow.

After, after you...go, after,, after you......................................

What about the pedestrians who stand in the crosswalk about a foot or so from the curb waiting for the walk signal, preventing vehicles from turning right on red? Passive-agressive or just plain stupid?

Am I the only one who hates the whole wave thing?

I see more people almost crash trying to wave. They are always too slow to clear whatever it is they are waving about. Just leave both hands on the wheel, look forward, and GO!

In Oregon it is illegal to make a U-turn at an intersection controlled by an electric signal if it is not specifically posted otherwise (ORS 811.365).

If an illegal U-turn causes an accident it goes from a Class C violation to a Class B traffic violation.

I believe this is different from many other states, so beware.

Thank god everyone has learned how to zipper merge on the freeway. This used to not be practiced here in Portland.

Seriously? Thats not what I see. I think most of the slow freeway traffic problems in this area are because people dont know how to merge. They dont realize that its dangerous to try and merge into 70mph traffic at 45mph. But they do it it anyway and force freeway traffic to slow down. I see it every day.

I have even seen people STOP on onramps and wait for a break in traffic.

Personally, I love the fact that so many don't realize that it is legal to make a left turn on a red light if you're turning from a two way into a one-way road, as long as you're turning into the left-most lane (and the one-way is going in the direction you're headed). No need to hold up traffic over there on NW 23rd, friends.

people who signal a right turn with the same motion as turning the wheel, turn the wheel and stick the finger out to trip the switch in one motion. i hate this if waiting at the stop for the car to pass by.

5 words: Yield does not mean stop.

As a cyclist, I hate it when people wave me through an intersection. Its confusing for everyone at an intersection. I have no problem waiting my turn and acting like a car.

Or how about this one? You're behind a car that's turning right on red. He's creeped forward, is looking intently to the left and sees no traffic coming, but STILL doesn't make the turn. He just sits there, faking you out. Drives me nuts!

I agree that California drivers are much better than OR/WA drivers. Give me "crazy but predictable" any time over "slow and spastic".

Drive the traffic rules! Some of our fellow Oregonians are insanely polite. The rules create safety by creating predictability. Really, I won't think you are mean if you just obey the laws.

Allen L,

You got me interested. Best I can tell it is also ok to make a left turn on to a one-way street from a two-way street refuge lane against a red arrow. ORS 811.360 appears to allow this. I have not done this personally but I could use this on my commute potentially when turning from Northbound Front St. onto some of the heading into downtown. I was wondering if I might be overlooking something you knew of?

See page 22 of the official Oregon driver's manual:

When entering a one-way street, you may cautiously turn right or left in the direction of traffic, after stopping or the red light. Yield, if needed.

I find further support for it being ok to turn left from Northbound SW Front/Naito onto SW Taylor (a one way street) against the left turn red arrow on page 14 of the Oregon Supplement to the MUTCD, 2003 Edition. Somebody correct me if I am wrong. Thanks.

Didn't read the MUTCD, but try not to make a left across two lanes of traffic when you have a red arrow. I think this lack of common sense is the overriding theme from all of the comments at to why Oregon drivers are a slow-moving menace.

Gap: What Robbie said. The problem is that while the arrow is red, there may often be a green light for oncoming traffic!

Helpful bicyclists waving to following motorists that it's safe to pass them on a blind corner...

Thanks, but no thanks.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Well, fine. Totally different kettle of fish. If you don't feel comfortable relying on someone else's eyes, then you don't have to do it. But as a cyclist I get concerned when a driver, out of ignorance, timidity, lack of experience or poor judgment, or a combination of all of these, won't pass when passing is safe, and other, less patient drivers behind that one are needlessly delayed.

Robbie & Allen,

I'm with you there; it's a little insane. I'm just astounded it is legal. I've never done the maneuver I've specifically suggested, and likely won't. Most people observers would think I was running the light, when apparently I'm not.

But as a cyclist I get concerned when a driver, out of ignorance, timidity, lack of experience or poor judgment, or a combination of all of these, won't pass when passing is safe, and other, less patient drivers behind that one are needlessly delayed.

Well, gee, Allan, I appreciate your concern. Poor judgement, to me, would be relying on someone else to judge whether it's safe for me to be in the oncoming lane in a blind corner.

I find your concern about "...needlessly delay(ing)..." drivers to be hysterically funny considering that the delay is actually caused by the bicyclist in instances like that I describe.

If you'd like less "timidity" on the part of drivers while you're biking, please feel free to bike NW Skyline any time.

I'll keep an eye out for ya.

I bike on Skyline pretty regularly. I've only been menaced once -- I'm now thinking it was probably cc, given his aggressive and hostile and combative attitude here. His point about overtaking on blind curves reflects the kind of moronic ignorance and self-absorbed thoughtlessness that makes the roads so dangerous for everyone. If two cars and a bicycle find themselves at the same point on a two-lane road, where is the car in the middle going to go? Into the other car? No chance. Cyclists know that, so why would they invite a car to pass if that were to be the result? It's just too ridiculous and contrived for words. Besides, given the relative speeds involved, the possibility of this coincidence is small. So, finally, is the cyclist at fault for causing cars to be backed up behind the car whose driver won't pass when it is safe (which was the case I posed, not the blind curve case)? Not in my book.

In reference to the original topic (being inappropriately polite at an intersection), I just went on a tirade this week because I DID IT MYSELF!! It's one of my major pet-peeves, but there I found myself stopped and waving the other person on as I wondered why the heck they were just sitting there. Then I realized... I had no stop sign!!! ARRGGHH!!! I hated me! I then proceeded to rant for at least 10 minutes to my passenger about how I HATED when people do that!!! Honestly...


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