Friday, September 30, 2005

More bicycles = motorist hostility?

With the first Platinum level Bicycle Friendly Community awarded to the small city of Davis, CA, Portland has redoubled its efforts to Go Platinum Portland. For this to happen, the LAB wants to see a higher percentage of local trips made by bike rather than car.

As bicycling increases in Portland, so does apparent motorist hostility if this article in the Portland Tribune is any indication.
With the number of cyclists in the city continuing to climb, both two-wheeled and four-wheeled commuters have noticed increased tensions on the road. This summer, in particular, the traffic deaths of five cyclists in the Portland area have fanned the issue.

“I don’t really like to drive anymore,” says 54-year-old Lynette Jones of Northeast Portland. “These cyclists have basically taken over. They refuse to be polite. You honk; they just go slower and look at you like you’re crazy. … To me it feels like they’re taunting: ‘I dare you to hit me.’”
[Wow, motorists having to share the road with jerks. Bicyclists have never encountered anything like that before :-/ ]
Matt Larsen, a Multnomah County transportation planning specialist, thinks the conflicts will grow as long as more cyclists hit the streets. He leads a 12-member Bicyclist and Pedestrian Citizen Advisory Committee that frequently takes up the issue, but nothing has emerged as the silver bullet yet.

“There’s a lot of animosity between the groups, and it seems to be growing,” he says. “For the most part it’s not a problem about cyclists as a whole or drivers as a whole — it’s just bad apples that give each group a bad name.”

In my opinion, riding lawfully or increased enforcement won't reduce motorist antagonism all that much, but it's best not to give them any ammunition.


Ron Georg said...

This quote from Lynette Jones in the Portland Tribune is disturbing:

"You honk; they just go slower and look at you like you’re crazy…To me it feels like they’re taunting ‘I dare you to hit me’"

Well, if the shoe fits, I'd say Lynette is at least an egg short of an omelette. It's amazing how many drivers think honking the horn is a friendly reminder that there are cars on the road. I really want to follow Lynette around with a set of cymbals, wait until she's lost in the sort of reverie I enjoy on my bicycle, and clap those suckers together really hard. Then I'll say, "What, didn't you know I was back here?"
I mean, really, the look I give people like her isn't a taunt, it's rhetoric: I'm asking, "Where the fuck do you want me to go?" The question is rhetorical because I already know the answer, and it's not what I'd call civil.
Happy Trails,
Ron Georg
Moab, Utah

Fritz said...

Lynette Jones' remark about honking jumped out at me also. Thanks for your comment, Ron.

nobleviola said...

I don't like the honking anymore than the rest of the cyclists on the road, but I do think that it pays to be courteous on the roadways, after all, we'll lose in the collision contest EVERY time.

bikefridaywalter said...

i put up with people yelling at me to get on the sidewalk (grumbling how i'd like to see their lazy ass drive on the sidewalk and see what happens); i put up with people gunning their enormous commuter trucks complete with hemis past me; i put up with pedestrians who confuse left and right; i put up with moronic cyclists who think every bike lane is there to go two ways on especially when riding a P.O.S. bike that's about to fall apart, without a helmet...drunk; i put up with bad roads and stupid traffic laws; i put up with cops who know less about traffic laws as they pertain to cycling than my 3 year old daughter but that act entirely different; all in all, i put up with a lot of shit riding my bike around.

but there is one thing i absolutely CANNOT stand and that's honking.

i've grown to have a less aggressive response to such things, but back in the days of being a cleveland messenger, threating the driver with a ulock would always shut them up.

it still gets deeply under my skin. i'm with ron.. i just don't understand the point.

we should start an organization to rally to get national legistlation to ban honking against cyclists. :)

Rachel said...

Why honk?

Who is to say that the cyclists Lynette encounters are not being courteous? She said it feels like they are taunting her.

Lynette is in her cage angry that the road is not empty as advertised in the commercials.

Lynette's horn, if it spoke, would scream, "Get the hell out of my way, you useless, poor loser or I will run you over!"

Ways I have reduced honking on my commute: Wear cycling clothes (or dress shirt and slacks). They'll think you're training for a race/going to the trails or going to work at your "respectable" job. Take the same route and leave at the same time every day. They'll think of you as The Bike Rider and some of them will actually strike up conversations with you and/or help you if you wipe out after getting shot by punks with a BB gun. Ride with traffic. Use headlights/taillights. Mount a sign to your bike that says, "SHARE THE ROAD. IT'S THE LAW!" with a picture of a car and bike side by side. Flip 'em off with all five fingers and your best smile when harassed.

Mark said...

good point rachel. I want to knwo why she was hionking in the first place. people forget the horn is a SAFETY device.