I have now approached the intersection.
Yielding to oncoming traffic, I find my break and put myself in que to make a left turn. This is an uncontrolled intersection. Everyman for himself. Kind of like playing frogger but for keeps.
This would seem intimidating on the first look. Break it down into baby steps. You don’t have to get your bike in the far right lane on the first go. You wouldn’t do that in a car. Why would you do it on a bicycle?
I’ve had the added advantage of being an operator of a motorcycle. I know how to handle two wheels. You don’t treat intersections like this as a pedestrian. You treat it like you are operating a bad ass motorcycle.
Once the traffic to my left is clear, I check the right side traffic. I see that there is a car approaching at a high rate of speed but they are in the far right lane. So I pull out and merge into the left lane. I shoulder check and signal my intent to merge into the right hand lane. The car safely and legally passes on my right and the person operating the car to the rear of them slows enough to allow me to safely merge in. Once I have occupied the right hand lane, I then merge into the bike lane.
Break it down into steps. It isn’t hard. Education gives you confidence and knowledge. Knowledge that you are a legitimate road user and have every right to be where you need to be, when you need to be there.
I’m going along and everything is super uneventful even when the bike lane ends.
As an average cyclist, I am so sick and tired of hearing advocates whine, yes whine, about “unsafe” roads. A road is unsafe when people violate basic road rules and road safety.
The road itself is an inert presence. The people on the road make it safe or unsafe. As a cyclist you minimize your risk by operating visibly, predictably, and with the flow of traffic.
That being said, I understand and share the desire for better infrastructure. I want to see more of this
And less of this
And until we get the Education, Legislation, and Infrastructure which treats us as equitable road users. I and my child bike like this.
When I first started cycling I had no idea about bike tribes, bike culture, or bike lanes. Everything I knew about cycling came from my knowledge as the operator of a vehicle. Listening to the bicycle advocates, knowing what I know now, I would never have started riding a bike based on their tweets and Facebook posts. Your all encompassing focus on infrastructure is such that I would believe, if I didn’t know better, that biking without some type of specialized infra. is just not safe. Not at all safe! And the message I would take from that is “Don’t do it.” Don’t even try.
Which is why I am so grateful that I was as green as a meadow on a spring day and as wet behind the ears as a just born foal. If I had to bear the brunt of your cycling messages, I would never ever have put my butt on a bike.
But back to my commute.
So now the bike lane ends and being an educated cyclist, I know just what to do.
I shoulder check, signal, shoulder check, and merge into the right hand lane. My comfort level increases as I now have eight feet of space between me and passing autos.
I follow my Google maps directions and before I know it, I’m back on Pacific Coast Highway 99.
This is where things start to get interesting.
I’m now going downhill. There is a bike lane on my right and the fear of a mandatory bike lane law in my soul.
Since I’m going down hill, I’m doing at least 25 mph.
Back in Kentucky, when I was going through all that shit for legally and safely riding a bicycle, I spent a lot of time researching all of the stuff that I was being told by “knowledgeable” cycling advocates. One of the things I discovered is that bike lanes are not recommended for speeds greater than ten miles an hour. I don’t have the article to link to but I wasn’t alone in this knowledge. When I attended the Kentucky Bicycle and Bikeway Commission meeting to update the regulations for cycling in Kentucky, one of the things I was able to influence was the speed limit for mandatory cycling in bike lanes. There isn’t a speed limit for cycling in bike lanes. What there is, is legislation stating that if you are doing better than 10 mph you are NOT required to be in a bike lane. This frees up the really fast road cyclists from bike lane requirements. If you can do 25+ mph on the road and I know some of you who can do 35+ on the road, then you are not required to be in a bike lane. It is safer for you to cycle in a wider lane of travel than in an itty bitty space. You’re welcome!
Oregon doesn’t have this exclusion specifically. But! There is a lot of loose gravel and other debris in the lane. So I control my lane all the way down the hill. TriMet bus driver gives me a full lane change to pass. This is important to note. Here’s why.
One day I’m riding the bus down this stretch of highway and I see a cyclist in the bike lane. The cyclist is trying to avoid a person parking their car. So the cyclist is in the bike lane but on the outer edge of it. So not really in the lane. Then the cyclist eases out of the bike lane but not fully out of it. The bus driver and I are watching this. I don’t say anything to the driver. I want to see what he does. (If I felt the cyclist was in danger you can bet I would have said something).
The TriMet bus driver slows down. Way down. The cyclist is hovering in and out of the bike lane. The bus driver moves to the left but just enough. So now the cyclist is in part of the right hand lane and the bus driver is partially in the right hand lane but partially in the left lane. Cars are whizzing by on the left and they are having to nudge out of their lane to the left. I mean the whole thing is a cockup.
Finally! We pass the cyclist and the bus driver let’s out a sigh of relief. It was a long and dodgy block.
I don’t do that. I am smack dab in the middle of the lane and the TriMet driver gives me a full lane change and passes right along at speed.
Then there’s the “First Student” bus driver. These guys are assholes. This idiot gets right on my ass. Totally breaking the law about following at a safe speed. He clearly wants me to move out of his way. My Google maps indicates that my left turn is approaching, only now I can’t make my left turn because I can’t see behind this fucker to know if there is traffic barreling up the left (passing) lane. So I impatiently wave at him to back the fuck off. He doesn’t. So I move further into the left side of the right hand lane and I’m practically hugging the line. I see that the lane is clear and I wouldn’t be violating anyone else’s right of way, so I merge left and tell the school bus driver to fuck off! He flips me the bird back. And that kids is why we can’t have nice things where First Student school bus drivers are involved.
I make my left in an intersection that is poorly controlled. There isn’t a left turn light. So I have to go when traffic is reasonably clear. There is an optical illusion to boot. The oncoming traffic has, in the far right lane, a merge into the street. Taking careful note of the traffic pattern I see that the driver is indeed taking the right merge and I am clear to make my left turn.
Google maps needs to put some real effort into their bicycle route. I’ll talk more about that on a different blog post.
I make my way up the road and turn right onto Multnomah Blvd.
I know I-5 is along here somewhere. As I travel down the road I can see the fast moving cars to my left. I’ve gone under the overpass and come up on the other side.
I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve wondered onto a road I shouldn’t be on. I see that there is a lane to the left which leads directly onto I-5 and being new to the area, I start to freak out a little.
Then I see a bike lane and I feel reassured that I’m allowed on this stretch of road. That I have not somehow wandered onto I-5 after all. Wouldn’t that make for an interesting news story and give the haters something to point and laugh at.
Just as I’m starting to feel grateful for the bike lane, I see this.
People are whizzing by in their cars and the paint has failed me. This is why I worry about new cyclists who have been educated by irresponsible advocates to rely heavily on paint. The paint is a lie! If you follow it, you will die!
I follow the same order of shoulder check, signal, shoulder check, and merge. The motorist speeding up from my rear sees me and slows down. They behave like any other well behaved road user. I am there first by the time they arrive and they appropriately yield the right of way to me.
Once I’m in the left side of the lane, they safely pass me on the right and make their right turn.
I turn left and merge into the bike lane. It’s not great infra. but I’m legally mandated to be there. If I get injured because of the poor quality and the state law legally binding me to use it, I’m sueing the state, the transportation dept., the city planners, engineers, and I’m going to encourage whoever hurts me while I’m in the bike lane to do the same. I’m intelligent and capable. If it’s good infra. I’ll be in it.
At this point Google maps and the geography have me confused as to my exact location. I’m directed down a steep ass residential hill. Riding the brakes all the way down and then I am confronted with another left turn at an uncontrolled intersection.
Hey Google! Directing cyclists onto residential roads isn’t always a safe bet. Direct and to the point. Direct and to the point. OK? OK!
I make it through and control my lane down the road.
I start seeing signs warning of construction ahead. I begin to wonder if I’m going to make it through here. Then I remember how confusing this mess is to people driving cars and I realize that I have it way easier than they do.
This was a totally uneventful crossing over the bridge. The construction workers in their souped up golf carts found me amusing as they passed me in the oncoming traffic lane. I straightened my back and raised my chin just a bit higher. I wasn’t just a cyclist in that moment. I was a queen and this was my court. 🙂
To everyone else on the road I treated them like they were obviously in the wrong place.
The only person who tried to rain on my parade was the court jester who honked at me as he passed me in the oncoming traffic lane. I turned my nose up at the prejudiced idiot.
Once I make it across the bridge and I’m securely on the other side, I see my beloved sharrow.
Whenever a motorist honks at me where there are sharrows, I point at the sharrow and give them my best snobby dismissal. Back straight, eyes straight ahead, and a little smile that plays about my lips and if they sit there and lay on their horn. I think “Whatcha gonna do biotch?! That’s right! Not a goddamned thing.”
Then I arrived at my destination, interviewed, and was offered the position.
I am really excited to help make great things happen for this company.