I set off on a Tuesday afternoon. It had been raining earlier that day and the roads were still wet. The sky was overcast with the sun trying to peek through here and there.
I was on my way to interview for an internist position with EcoSpeed. An amazing company on the cutting edge of electric assist technology.
Dressed for success, or so I hoped, I pedaled off towards their place of business.
Elevation climb 666 ft and 10.5 miles.
I hate cycling out of my way to get to my destination. I prefer straightforward routes and no detours. My bicycle is my vehicle and it gets me where I need to be.
I start out on a residential road and the first thing I see is a person driving their car at breakneck speeds around a turn. The city engineers in their wisdom opted to make it a two way stop instead of an all way stop. So you never know if someone is going to come barreling through and barreling through is how they operate on the road.
Once I make it through this dangerous intersection, I have to worry about someone flying into me at speed from the left or turning into me from the right.
The speed limit is 35 mph but that doesn’t stop people. The road is engineered to be auto friendly which means people drive faster on it without realizing.
I make my left from a light controlled protected turn lane. The turn lane doesn’t offer me physical protection. The term “protection” in this sense means if someone were to run into me they would be presumed at fault.
The bike lane on SW Hall is abysmal. Often filled with gravel, glass, potholes, and other debris.
So I don’t stay in the bike lane. I shoulder check, signal, and merge. I control my lane past the offending section and then I signal, shoulder check, and merge. Most people yield as appropriate. A few do not. Following dangerously close behind me, laying on the horn, and screaming out your window at me gets you “you’re number one” salute. I really don’t give a shit about your “feelings” when my safety is at stake.
As I approach the intersection of Hall and Pacific Coast Hwy 99, I begin controlling the right hand turn lane. I never fail to be amazed at the cyclists who hug the curb edge of a turn lane. Sharing a lane with anything other than another cyclist is illegal. It is illegal because it isn’t safe. So don’t do it and fuck the L.A.B. and their propaganda about cycling in the right third of the lane. State law plainly says:
ORS § 811.370¹Failure to drive within lane
(1)Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, a person commits the offense of failure to drive within a lane if the person is operating a vehicle upon a roadway that is divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic and the driver does not:
(a)Operate the vehicle as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane; and
(b)Refrain from moving from that lane until the driver has first made certain that the movement can be made with safety.
I make my right turn onto Pacific Coast Hwy 99 and I’m greeted with this “What the fuck were they thinking” or as I like to call it the “Jogging Bike Lane.”
I ignore all the fuckery at the edge of the road and control my lane through. This highway isn’t engineered with anything other than autos in mind.
I’ve never biked up highway 99 before. I have never ridden in a car up this way before. I knew there was elevation climb but wow! There was some serious elevation climbing. My asthma kicked into high gear.
I end up turning off of highway 99 onto Capitol hwy. but before I get there let me tell you about where the bike lane ends and before that about the truck parked on the curb and in the bike lane.
So I’m wheezing along in this super narrow bike lane. Drivers are speeding past me with very little space between them and me. This is the inherent nature of car culture bike lanes. There isn’t any room for error. I’m really wishing I could be in the right hand lane and have all that space to myself. At least eight feet of pure buffer zone when I look ahead and see that my wish has come true. There is a delivery truck parked smack on the sidewalk and in the bike lane. I was so happy. Approaching the truck I shoulder check, signal, shoulder check again, and merge. Extra shoulder check to account for the rapid rate of speed and the high volume of traffic.
People behind me slow down. Some of them change lanes to pass and keep on moving. A few stay behind me, which is super annoying. I signal to them to change lanes and pass. For the most part they do. No honks and no rude gestures. You treat me with respect. I treat you with respect. The burden isn’t on me to be friendly or polite. When I hear other cyclists talk about how “You should smile, wave, or blow them a kiss.” it reminds me of men who go around telling women “You should smile more.” It’s sexist, demeaning, and rude. Stop telling other cyclists how to behave. How they behave in any given moment is based on their personal experience. An experience which you yourself are not experiencing because it is personal. So fuck all with your politeness campaign. When people driving cars are waging a “be friendly to cyclists” campaign then I’ll get on board. Until then, fuck them and their arrogance. The roads are public and the public has the right to use them.
Once I’m past the truck I continue to control my lane until I have determined it is safe for me to merge back into the dreaded bike lane.
The hill gets steep and I’m really puffing my way up the hill. I start thinking about my inhaler in my backpack and whether I should I pull over to use it. Then I see that the bike lane ends and I temporarily forget about my aching lungs and focus on another safe merge.
Once again I shoulder check, signal, shoulder check, and merge. I’m thinking this is pretty cool. People are passing me in their cars on the left. I can see a few turn their heads to look at me. Most of them are smiling. Definitely different than Kentucky.
As I start to think about my aching lungs again I hear the sound of a tractor trailer behind me. I look in my sideview mirror and sure enough, there is a logging truck behind me. I think he will be smart and go around. He toots his horn at me. The phrase “What the fuck” crosses my mind. I keep pedaling. He stays behind me. I keep pedaling. He stays behind me. I keep pedaling. The tension mounts. Finally I realize this dude (yes, I’m assuming they are a man) is wanting me to get out of his way. So I point to the left lane and then make a forward sweeping motion with my arm. I do this a couple of times and the driver finally changes lanes to pass. He gives me another toot with his horn and I let him know how I feel about that.
Everyone else changes lanes and passes. Some slow down to a more prudent speed, others pass at speed but none of the passes “feel” dangerous and I keep pedaling.
My lungs feel like they are about to explode and I’m looking for a side road to get onto. I see what looks like a reasonable stretch of road and make my right turn onto it.
At this point I have a driver behind me and they are being polite. The road here is what it is and the only way to safely pass me is to pass left of center. With a steady stream of cars and a blind curve, that just isn’t possible. Lane control shows the driver that passing me isn’t safe.
As I approach the stop sign, I merge a little further left in the lane. This does two things
- It shows them I’m intending to go forward.
- It allows them to legally pass me on the right.
As I approach the stop line, I can hear the driver behind me rev their engine and speed past me. Their tires spin out a little on the wet roads. I was frustrating their need, their need for speed!
Once I’m past the stop sign I pull over and take a couple of puffs from my inhaler. I also shed my jacket, gloves, scarf, and ear mitts.
I gamely cycle up this steep hill for awhile. After a bit I decide fuck it and walk my bike up to the next intersection.
This walking, on a road with no sidewalk, is very interesting. People driving their cars see me. They can see I’m there but they don’t slow down. It is only when I stick my arm out and indicate that they need to give me space. Space which puts them in the other lane. That is when they slow down.
Think about that for a moment.
Until they have to cross the centerline they do not perceive any danger. It is only when they are required to put themselves at risk that they realize they need to slow down.
Which is why I think TriMets “Show them your glow” campaign is bullshit. I could be lit up like a goddamn christmas tree with fireworks shooting out my ass and people would still inlane pass at speed.
I make it up to the intersection at the top of the hill without incident. But only because I am actively educating every damn motorist who approaches me. It’s exhausting and I hate it. I shouldn’t have to walk along a road and actively keep people from killing me.
To be continued….