Well said (and a law we all should know)

Just wanted to point out an articulate “Guest Viewpoint” on the Opinion page of today’s Register-Guard.

Written by a UO prof named Marc Schlossberg, it’s about being recklessly passed and yelled at by a motorist for no good reason.

What he describes reminds me of the cyclist who was brushed by an SUV a few weeks ago at Broadway and Hilyard.

Some motorists (a small minority, I think, but enough to be worrisome) just can’t seem to accept that they occasionally will have to drive behind a cyclist.

Here’s a law all urban cyclists should know: Oregon Revised Statutes 814.430 — Improper Use of Lanes. It spells out when you should stay to the right and when you can, as they say, “take the lane.” This law, I think, is at the heart of both of these situations.

15 thoughts on “Well said (and a law we all should know)

  1. The comment section of that article features some awful ignorant statements and attitudes toward cyclists. It’s a major turn-off to know that some people behind a wheel see you and harbor such inane sentiments.


    It’s also a bummer to hear our cycling people returning the diatribe toward motorists, talking about guns in panniers for one. Simply fueling the ugly fire.

    1. Screw guns in panniers. I say carry a gun on your HIP. Open carry is legal in Oregon and you don’t need a permit. Maybe the carthugs will think twice about running you off the road? Maybe not.

  2. I drove a car recently. I can’t believe how irritable it made me.

    Any time I found myself behind a slow moving vehicle, I felt mildly annoyed. I found myself wondering how an irritable non-cyclist driver would feel to be behind a bike rider.

    When you are stressed out and trying to do three errands in 30 minutes, you don’t find yourself rationally thinking, Gee, this cyclist really isn’t going any slower than some of the cars I’ve been stuck behind.

    No. You find yourself thinking, If it wasn’t for this moron on a bike, I’d be going as fast as I need to be going.

    Hey, I’m just trying to see it from the other perspective, not excusing bad behavior.

    1. Well one perspective is… if you aren’t trying to “save time” by racing as fast as traffic will allow you to go you’ll avoid a lot of angst and irritability. Why are you late? Is it the slow moving vehicle’s fault? Or is it your lifestyle choices before you even got behind the wheel that put you in that situation?

      When I’m riding and a driver of a motor vehicle decides it’s a good time to bring me to a complete stop because they MUST get out of their driveway before me and share their “warm-up” exhaust… I think to myself, “Well gosh. Who’s really in the way and inconvenient now?”

  3. I would submit that it is more irritating to almost get killed by a reckless motorist than it is to be a motorist getting all huffy because traffic isn’t moving at the imaginary ideal speed (rarely fast enough).

    Also, I don’t want to play the Debbie Downer; that piece by Marc is a good one. I just mildly cringe when I see those in widely read publications, because I know that as reasonable and intelligently their thoughts are presented, they become a lightning rod for the irrational and emotionally charged rhetoric that people spew.

    Food fight indeed.

    1. Yeah, much of the purpose of the Opinion pages is probably to make people think and perhaps persuade them, but I wonder how often that kind of thoughtfulness happens. A lot of times I think people just decide right away when they start reading a column: I’m with this guy or I’m against him. Your link in the earlier comment to “confirmation bias” is right on.

  4. I don’t like the idea of increasing the levels of hostility, and I don’t like guns – but there is a part of me that wishes that cyclists had the same reputation as bikers. If people can’t find it in themselves to value my life, I would be ok if they gave me space because they value their own lives.

    (police enforcement of existing traffic laws would probably work for this too)

    Partially unrelated, I recently saw somebody run a stoplight in a way that actually made sense to me.

    He was heading west on Broadway, before the Zenon intersection he rode to the right of the cars, then once the traffic cleared, he ran the red and took the lane. This gave him a half-block head start on the cars, and nobody ended up getting slowed down.

    I wonder what the drivers thought – if they realized that he had just saved them from having to wait behind him, or if they just got angry that he was breaking the law. If it were me, being vehicular and not in a hurry, and I just lined up with the cars – would that make them more or less angry?

    What would a grumpy driver want a bike to do?

  5. I got yelled at while flying through the outside lane in the Pioneer Parkway/MLK/Hayden Bridge Roundabout. I have no idea what the guy said but it obviously wasn’t “have a nice day” or “I like your ride.”

    I was going faster than the cars so I’m not sure what his issue was, maybe he almost pulled out and felt bad?

    I’m with Kevin, I’m going to start wearing leathers and carrying a shotgun on the downtube.

    1. I saw the aftermath of a nasty nasty accident of that roundabout. I was in the passenger seat as we went through circle. There was a guy on the ground not moving, face down with people standing around him… an old mountain bike a couple feet from him, and a minivan with a demolished windshield.

      He didn’t have a helmet on – but for all I could tell he could have been walking through the crosswalk.

      I managed to ask somebody from the SPD about it a couple of days later, and what he had heard was that the guy rode through the crosswalk without using the signal lights. I get that the traffic circle reduces car on car fatalities, but it’s a terrible place to act like a pedestrian on your bike.

      Using these two data points, I’m going to say that it’s confirmation that it’s generally better to have people see you and get angry than not see you at all.

      (with the exception being when they try to buzz you to express their anger and accidentally hit you)

    1. I think a sharp looking piece of metal hanging out of a saddle-bag would be more appropriate – a threat to their paint job, rather than their person.

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