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February 10, 2006

Motorists, Cyclists, Pedestrians give each other Evil Eye in Portland

Last month a controversy over access to a popular Bridge took center stage in local papers in Portland, Oregon.

The 1st story dealt with changes to the popular Bike/Ped Trail:

The Hawthorne Bridge is the most popular way of getting across the Willamette River for bicyclists and walkers. Some 2,500 cyclists cross it every day and similar numbers of pedestrians do the same. On the bridge, it seems like either bicyclists are prevented from getting to the other side by a blockade of walkers, or a spandex-clad bicyclist swoops within six inches of a walker at breakneck speeds.

So when fresh lines marking separate sides for bike riders and walkers went in around Thanksgiving, many thought a solution had been found....

Last summer, Multnomah County formed a committee made up of various pedestrian and cyclist groups from around the city to review the situation on the Hawthorne Bridge. The group approved the county’s plan to remove the pre-existing speed bumps and also the planned installation of a clearly marked bike lane, separating bicyclists from pedestrians.

“The changes were done in part to slow bicyclists down,” said Matt Larsen, transportation planning specialist for the county.

It appears this dispute has been simmering since 1999.

Various changes were instituted, including Speed Bumps, over the years, and the latest change is getting mixed reviews ( "The Bike Lane is too narrow!" some squawk. ).

I look at it this way:

Cyclists have to share the Trail with Pedestrians so what's the harm in slowing down for the precious few minutes it takes to safely navigate the Bridge, and surrounding area?

The full Story is here:

THE DAILY VANGUARD ( 1/18 ) -- The Battle on the Bridge by Nicholas M. Deshais.

Meanwhile, a cycling activist gets cranky with a City Bus, and the Bus Driver overreacts by allowing a passenger to get off, and kick the cyclists ass.

The Cyclist is now sueing.

The incident is caught on the Bus Camera, and nobody comes off smelling like a rose on screen ( There is a link to the video ).

After a close call with a bus approaching the Hawthorne Bridge, bicyclist Randy Albright said he wanted to get the attention of the driver. So when the bus stopped for traffic, Albright pulled in front of it so the driver couldn't avoid him.

Albright, 49, a well-known bicycle activist, succeeded in catching the driver's eye, but what he got after that wasn't an apology.

Instead, the driver opened the door and allowed a rider to "alight from the bus at an unapproved stop on the bridge, assault and batter plaintiff, and then re-board the bus," Albright charges in lawsuit filed recently in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

To add insult to Albright's injuries, the bus driver then drove off without calling police or paramedics, the suit said.

As the popularity of bicycling grows in Portland, so does the tension with motorists and buses over limited space on the roads. Cursing under the breath can escalate into shouting and clenched fists, but few people turn their ill thoughts into action.

Having myself been in a situation involving a Bus in traffic I can tell you that the temptation to do more than give the driver the Middle Finger, and a few choice words, IS there but, by remaining calm there is a better way to handle the situation.

Just after 9 a.m. January 22, 2004, a bus approached Albright on a viaduct east of the Hawthorne Bridge. At the time, Albright was not riding in the bicycle lane; he says it contained too much gravel used during a recent storm to ride safely.

As the bus narrowly passed him, Albright shook his fist and possibly hit the bus as it drove off. Albright later caught up and stood on the sidewalk by the front door of the bus, which stopped in traffic. Then he picked up his bike and got into the street, blocking the bus.

What I'd like to know is why didn't the Cyclist just take the whole Traffic Lane until he got past the dangerous spots, or over the Bridge?

The Bus would have had to remain behind him for the duration.

No harm, no foul, and all that would have happened would have been an annoyed Bus Driver maybe honking his horn.

Going after the bus was wrong on the part of the cyclist.

I once took a lane, to avoid the dangerous gutter, and numerous parked cars, for about a 1/2 mile on a busy street.

The Bus Driver honked, and honked, but I just ignored him, and continued pedaling until past the dangerous stretch.

At a street corner the bus pulled up to my left, and the door opened.

The driver proceeded to tell me I was wrong to block him, and should have gotten on the sidewalk where I belonged.

I politely told him that I had the right of way, on a dangerous stretch of road and, as a vehicle legally sharing the streets, I had done nothing wrong.

He started spouting a few choicer words, and then the light changed.

I could have easly followed him, and continued the arguement, but chose instead the more productive course of reporting him to his supervisor, and asking said Worthy to explain the finer points of sharing the road with other traffic, especially those of us of the gassless, 2-wheeled persuasion.

Confronting the Bus just made matter spiral out of control.

Within five seconds of Albright blocking the bus, cameras capture an unidentified man squeezing past other riders to talk to the driver, who opens the door. The man jumps off and confronts Albright.

The man appears to grab Albright's bike, swing at him and push him back onto the sidewalk. The man re-boards the bus, which leaves.

The incident took less than a minute.

The cyclist, who claims not to make a habit of confronting drivers, let his temper get the better of him, and now wants to sue the Bus Agency to get compensated for his Ass-whuppin.

He was wrong, the driver was wrong ( He has since died ), the passenger ( Who remains unknown ) was wrong.

The only innocents here were the Bike, and the Bus. ;-D

Read the full piece:

THE OREGONIAN ( 1/17 ) -- Pressure builds as more bicyclists and motorists dispute right of way  by Ashbel S. Green.

***UPDATE -- 2/12***

BikePortland was all over the story in November.

***END UPDATE***

February 10, 2006 in Cycling News Network | Permalink

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