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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 3, 2010 10:16 AM. The previous post in this blog was New twist on an old parade. The next post in this blog is Lawyer Trivia Question of the Day. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

We're no. 2!

Oregon's got the second most knowledgeable drivers in the nation, according to this survey. Here we have something we're good at -- why does the City of Portland demonize it?

Comments (9)

We're good at it because we have to share the road with bikes and peds.

Not surprised. If anything, Oregon drivers are TOO polite and deferential, even to the point of creating a hazard. Just watch a four-way stop in Portland sometime. Many people will sit and wait for any and all oncoming traffic to stop and go before proceeding themselves. (I've occasionally felt compelled to honk when stuck behind one of these types, and then of course I immediately feel guilty about it.) As a pedestrian downtown I daily encounter well-meaning but clueless drivers who stop and wait for me to cross in front of them, even though I'm still a good ten yards away from the intersection and would MUCH prefer that they proceed before I get there. (Note to all drivers: whenever a pedestrian signals you to go, PLEASE GO. I know you think you're doing us a favor by continuing to sit there, smiling and gesturing for us to cross, but you're not. We may be aware of a threat to our safety that you can't see from inside your vehicle.)

Calling it No. 2 and calling it "good" are two different things. "No. 2" seems closer to the mark. Oregon drivers may be almost the least ignorant, the least distracted, the least likely to exercise poor judgment behind the wheel, in the U.S., but that's a very low bar. People in this country have to drive: they really have no choice. So it's a right, not to be infringed by meaningful requirements for training or facility. Giving people alternatives to cars is generally a good thing for all of us.

The survey must have excluded TriMet drivers. Everyone else knows it's illegal to enter an intersection when there are pedestrians still crossing.

(Note to all drivers: whenever a pedestrian signals you to go, PLEASE GO. I know you think you're doing us a favor by continuing to sit there, smiling and gesturing for us to cross, but you're not.

Sorry, but ORS 811.028 says:
The driver of a vehicle commits the offense of failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian if the driver does not stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian when the pedestrian is:...crossing the roadway...
(A) In the lane in which the driver’s vehicle is traveling;
(B) In a lane adjacent to the lane in which the driver’s vehicle is traveling;
(C) In the lane into which the driver’s vehicle is turning;
(D) In a lane adjacent to the lane into which the driver’s vehicle is turning, if the driver is making a turn at an intersection that does not have a traffic control device under which a pedestrian may proceed as provided under ORS 814.010 (Appropriate responses to traffic control devices); or
(E) Less than six feet from the lane into which the driver’s vehicle is turning, if the driver is making a turn at an intersection that has a traffic control device under which a pedestrian may proceed...

The offense described in this section, failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian, is a Class B traffic violation.

I'm 3 months into being car-free, and I agree. Portland drivers are almost all great. The few exceptions sometimes make me forget, but it's nice to live somewhere where the people don't quit practicing common courtesy simply because they're behind the wheel of an automobile.

That being said...

Portland does not "demonize" driving. The city does do a decent job of promoting alternatives, which would seem like a good thing as it might lead to fewer environmental disasters and wars over oil. You may have missed the little blip in the news about a teensy oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, for starters.

I haven't noticed a shortage of roads in PDX, and I've actually noticed a fair amount of them being renovated in my SE Portland. I'd be willing to wager the city has spent more on roads in its existence than on all other forms of transportation, combined.

So let's not be silly. Just because you or others may rely solely on a gas-powered vehicle for all your transportation needs doesn't mean other people--many of them low-income--don't have the right to get around town quickly and, more importantly, safely. Please quit "demonizing" other forms of transportation. They're making the world a better place for you and your kids.

"Alternative" forms of transportation are great, when you have the time to wait for Tri-Met or the guts to take on hard-core car traffic on a bike. I don't demonize either of those modes of getting around. But to try to force everyone into those modes, the City of Portland is indeed demonizing driving a car. Sorry to state it so clearly.

John: The law you cite refers only to pedestrians who have already stepped off the sidewalk or shoulder ("crossing the roadway"). I agree that in such cases, the driver must allow the pedestrian to cross. My "note to drivers" refers to cases where the pedestrian is not in the roadway and has not made any motion to cross, yet the driver decides on his/her own volition to yield to the pedestrian despite having the legal right-of-way. In such cases, I believe the driver should instantly cede to the pedestrian's wishes rather than play a game of "you first" ... "no, you" ... "no, I insist." Once or twice I have actually had drivers yell at me for not wanting to cross in front of them when they, not I, had the legal right-of-way. Perhaps I should have been clearer about this.

I'd be curious to see how Oregon would rank if different metrics were used to rank actual driving ability.

In my opinion, Oregonians are awful drivers. The slightest bit of rain completely paralyzes them, and snow, well forget it. Portland literally shuts down.

Semi-Cynic's comment about Oregonians almost creating hazards due to over-polite driving is pretty accurate, but I would tweak his statement a bit by qualifying the term "polite." The politeness seems contrived, and befitting of a city known for its faux-altruistic behaviors. So is it truly "polite" behavior, then?

No, it's phony benevolence, or a similar-such term, masquerading as politeness. And it causes almost 20 accidents a day when Portlanders politely "wave in" an oncoming vehicle that needs to turn.

Holy shit does it piss me off.


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