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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 23, 2008 7:52 AM. The previous post in this blog was Another election loose end. The next post in this blog is Another lovely "law enforcement" project. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tri-Met operators: Shut up and drive

Tri-Met bus drivers continue to make ominous noises about the bike lanes that are going in around the Rose Quarter Transit Center. The fact is that there has never been a safe way for a person on a bike to get through there from the East Bank Esplanade, and the bike lanes will give cyclists at least a little margin of safety.

From firsthand experience, I can report that some bus drivers show downright aggression toward bicycles in what they perceive as their sacred territory around the Rose Quarter, and it is about time that they get the message that they have to share the road with others. If they don't like it, they can take a security detail on MAX through gangland in Gresham.

Comments (11)

The article says that "The new lanes are along both sides of a block-and-a-half stretch of Northeast Wheeler Street in the heart of the center that previously had been off-limits to bikes."

I'm not sure what the writer means by this. The north- and south-bound bike lanes are both on the west side of NE Wheeler - away from the bus stops that the bus drivers are using. The bike lanes are not on "both sides" of NE Wheeler.

The writer and the drivers also seem to miss that cyclists going north or south under the old system were still crossing the Max tracks, at two different legal spots and one illegal one, and were still interacting with buses on either end of the transit center. The new system prevents cyclists and buses from crossing paths at various random times. The times I've ridden through the new arrangement it seemed that bikes and buses coexisted with much less awkward and unpredictable interaction than happens on every normal street in town where buses are crossing busy bike lanes all the time.

Critics of bus drivers: shut up and get behind the wheel of a bus. You might understand them better if you actually know the challenges they face.

To be fair, it's hard enough going down some street like SE Hawthorne as a driver who tries to respect cyclists - try making right turns off and you have to leave a half block clearance min and it still takes a while.

Is it so difficult to segrate traffic types since the Steel bridge is more of a motorized transit bridge then say the Burnside?

the challenges they face.

There is no excuse for being a rude jerk, and I've seen bus drivers behave that way to cyclists around the Rose Quarter on more than one occasion.

There is no excuse for being a rude jerk, and I've seen bus drivers behave that way to cyclists around the Rose Quarter on more than one occasion.

me too. but:

on the bus I ride every day (in SE Portland, partly on Hawthorne), I see bicyclists routinely cheating death, ignoring bus signals, hitting the side of the bus with their hand, yelling, ignoring bus right-of-way (that cars can't), weaving in and out of the bike lane, moving suddenly into the bus's lane and making 40 bus riders clutching for their life, failing to signal in any way, and so on. in the past month, I haven't seen the bus driver be anything but respectful to the bicyclists(and probably constantly afraid of an accident).

We've all seen bicyclists do stupid stuff. We've all seen motorists do stupid stuff. Whenever this conversation turns into "There was a bicyclist who...." or "This driver almost killed me when..." well, it kinda misses the point.

What i think Jack is saying is fundamentally correct. If you are going to drive a 20 ton bus in a congested area, you have to be responsible to the point of passivity. Yes, some bicyclists are going to act like jerks. But when a bus driver acts like a jerk, he (or she) is more likely to kill someone. Same with motorists.

As with bicylists and motorists, most Tri-Met drivers I've seen have been courteous and careful. But there are always a few out there that need to chill. Rather than security detail in Gresham, how about the night shift cleaning out the buses?

If you are going to drive a 20 ton bus in a congested area, you have to be responsible to the point of passivity.

But when a bus driver acts like a jerk, he (or she) is more likely to kill someone. Same with motorists.

I think you're mistaken, and your view is the heart of the problem. *every driver*, including bicyclists, can cause death or injury by their actions. you don't have to run over another driver to kill them--in fact, most roadway deaths are by drivers *reacting* to vehicles (including bicycles).

in other words--no, a big buse is not any more likely to cause problems than bicycle. that's a widely believed fallacy, not borne out by reality.

the fundamental concept of operating a vehicle on a roadway (motorized or not) is not "be passive"--it's *drive defensively*. that's in every ODOT Driver's Manual since the 60s. not "be passive", not "big vehicles have different fundamental rules than small ones".

I find it a tad bit odd that a biker would demand passivity from a bus. I'm all for bike commuting, but such self-righteousness in the face of such one sided exposure to injury/death seems foolhardy.

In a perfect world everyone would conscientiously conform to predictable road norms (politeness and rudeness both cause accidents) and this would be a non-issue.

As this isn't the case, bikers, as a matter of common sense probably shouldn't rely on any motorist to see or defer to them.

This is the fundamental problem with the "mixed-mode transport" approach a lot of CoPo and Metro officials seem to like. They think that putting incompatible modes of transport at vastly differing speeds and functions "improves safety". Actually, it's just obnoxious, and makes getting from point A to point B stressful no matter what mode you're using that's being "mixed"--it's pure chaos.

I think it would be better for both bikes and motorized forms of transit if bikes were not on the road . . . but on separate trails/paths somewhere. It'd be a lot better expenditure of funds than more subsidies for Fake New York monstrosities, or more Streetcar lines (which I would classify as "vapid transit").

>>>>I think it would be better for both bikes and motorized forms of transit if bikes were not on the road . . . but on separate trails/paths somewhere. >>>>

Since we already have a city built the "somewhere" is the hitch. I suppose we could take half of all 4-lane roads for bike traffic, but there's an even better solution.

Alot of bike traffic in Portland is already on bike boulevards, which are designated residential streets that parallel the main arterials. This separates the bulk of car/bike interactions at a bargain price. The costs of bike boulevards are actually quite low... requiring some signage and some traffic blocks. By far most cyclists use the bike boulevards rather than the parallel aterials. Where this isn't an option bike lanes work pretty well.

We do have a river in Portland and most bike traffic converges on 3 bridges - Hawthorne, Steele, Broadway. There doesn't seem to be chaos at any of them, as far as I can see.

"Bike boulevards" or the side or residential streets that are recommended through streets on biking maps are far better than relegating bikes to bike paths. Bike paths treat bicycles like toys rather than legitimate forms of transportation (which they clearly are for many people).

In addition, bike lanes can get full of debris, aren't adequately cleaned and also get appropriated by joggers and dog walkers. It is legal to ride outside of a bike lane if the bike lane is dangerous to ride in. When I commuted to work that was often true of the Terwilliger bike path, particularly if you were headed downhill.

However, even if bikes were restricted to "bike boulevards" they'd occasionally have to traverse more heavily used streets in order to reach businesses and other destinations on those streets.

Asking bikes to stay off of heavily travelled roads is sort of like asking motorists to stick to the freeways and stay off of residential streets.

It works in theory if you're traveling through to someplace else but not when you have a destination in mind that forces you to ride with traffic.


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