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downers: bike commuters

To get your eastside Portland bona fides, you need a bike for you and every member of your family. Per the usual, I put the cart before the horse a few years ago and got a bike rack for my car–a super burly one that, once fitted onto the vehicle, suggested that my weekends are spent at the mountain, when in reality they are spent at Trader Joe’s eating samples. Turns out I wanted the bike rack more than the bikes. I planned to buy the bikes shortly thereafter, but only got as far as my older kid’s bike. So it was that we drove off for a summer vacation in Bend with a single toddler bike teetering precariously off the end of that burly four-bike bike rack.

Every time I want to buy bikes, something else comes up that requires my money. Like bills. And it’s ok, because in the time that has passed, I have built up a loathing for bike commuters and everything they stand for. I realize I risk offending 80% of my readership with this post but what it comes down to is this: if I have to follow traffic rules in my car, so do you on your bike. I don’t care how cool your bicycle saddlebags are or how neat your jeans look all rolled up on one side with the ironic sock underneath–if I have to stop at a stop sign, so do you. Especially since the City of Portland is actively taking steps to remove all car lanes and replace them with those annoying green bicycle boxes, and refusing to let you turn right on red lights for fear that you might hit a bicyclist sitting in your blindspot. Hello! if you know you’re sitting in my blindspot, get the hell out of it.

Cars have rights too, ok? Especially new cars, like mine. They need room to move and go places, and they can’t do that when you’re leisurely peddling your bike in the middle of the lane at 5 MPH. And it doesn’t make it better if you get a friend to join you so that there’s two of you riding at 5 MPH, side by side. 5 MPH + 5 MPH does not equal 10 MPH, and even if it did, you’d still be 15 MPH under the speed limit in a 25 MPH zone. Newsflash: you look ridiculous, and you are impeding the flow of traffic. I mean, a driver can get a ticket for driving too slow–I looked it up during a debate with Tom about the arguable legality of his driving–so why can’t a bicyclist?

Even worse than the middle-of-the-laners are the bike commuters who make a big show of shifting over to one side and waving at you to pass them, all with a put-out expression. Hey, since you’re such a giver, how about moving over enough to actually let me pass without hitting oncoming traffic? I like to follow these people really slowly, for blocks on end. Eventually they will get exasperated and pull over altogether. Great success! When they do that, it means I’ve won the road.

Let’s hear it. I’m a dying breed. My new car is a monstrosity. I’m just jealous I can’t fit my head into a regulation size bike helmet. What have you got? Because here’s what I’ve got: bike commuters who don’t follow the rules–you get me down.

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48 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kevin Craddock #

    Yoona –

    I’m sorry for the harsh words and tone of my response to your blog topic. I was way out of line. While I feel strongly about bike/car safety after getting hit twice while on my bicycle, that’s no excuse to go on the attack. I was wrong to do so and I’m horribly embarrassed by my choice of words. You have a fine blog and it should not be littered with the outbursts from seemingly half-drunk crackpots like myself. Again, I apologize.

    Kevin Craddock

    July 11, 2012
    • no need to apologize. it’s a sensitive topic and i get it. i also understand that people are going to have opinions different from mine–and i enjoy hearing those opinions.

      but no mocking the Tron! gotta draw the line somewhere. 😉

      July 11, 2012
  2. Kevin Craddock #

    Bicycle commuters make the east side of PDX what it is …. Sounds like you would feel more comfortable in Tigard or Beaverton. And the annoying green boxes? Those are there because the last time a bicyclist killed a car passenger was never, but bicyclist get killed at the rate of one a month – in PDX – by cars.
    And,of course, all car drivers follow the rules of the road all the time – it’s only bicyclists that are law breakers. I never see a mom in a SUV, slugging down her mocha latte grande while she is yakking on the phone and weaving across the lane. Never happens.

    July 7, 2012
    • i love beaverton, where i grew up. that’s probably what’s wrong with me, huh. thanks for the comment

      July 7, 2012
  3. Same problem in Houston, at least in the outlying suburbs. Training time each spring for the annual MS150 gauntlet to Austin is nothing short of hellish because they travel in packs, with matching jerseys and tires with barely any wear on them. Like you, I wouldn’t mind bikers so much if they all obeyed traffic laws. Smug ironic two-wheel elitists.

    June 27, 2012
  4. Ashley #

    You had me at “bike rack”….with grandiose visions of leisurely family summer bike rides along the esplanade and around Sauvie Island, I dragged the entire family with me to the bike store so I could get a bike for my birthday (What kind of Portlander was I if I didn’t even OWN a bike?). Of course a small fortune later, with said bike, helmet, lock and water bottle holders (of course) we go to leave and realize the bike won’t fit in the back of our SUV and we can’t recline the back seat b/c of the kid’s booster seats. So we walked to the nearest rack shop and turns out the rack costs the same as the bike itself and at least for my vehicle, they also require a hitch which I don’t have and would have to purchase ($) and have installed first ($).

    Since there was no way in hell I was riding that thing back up to our house in the west hills, we left with the bike slammed into the back with the wheels removed hanging out the open tailgate. Once home the bike was re-assembled and made at home in the garage where it has sat patiently ever since waiting for a rack to take it to reasonably flat terrain. But buying a nice 4-bike, tilting rack isn’t as appealing as say….spending the money on anything else in existence.

    Oh did I mentioned it was my birthday LAST year (June 2011)? So that makes it….yep…zero times I’ve ridden my “new” bike. So if you’d like, you’re welcome to come over with your rack and pick it up so we can take turns swerving into traffic and cutting off cars?

    June 27, 2012
  5. Speaking as a full-time pedestrian, car passenger and part-time cyclist, the problem is that the roads without dedicated bike lanes don’t work. They’re barely wide enough for modern cars, let alone a bike with the 3-6 ft allowance for the cyclist to fall over and not get his/her head run over by the overtaking car.

    That’s my excuse for riding in the middle of the road when there is no room for passing. I’m saving you drivers from a charge of manslaughter.

    That said, thanks for not running any pedestrians and cyclists over, however much they get you down!

    June 26, 2012
    • that is totally true about the narrowness of lanes. i hadn’t thought to blame the road itself. tom told me if i ever hit a biker (of course, not funny) that this blog post would be used as Exhibit A in my prosecution. i have never hit a biker and have never gotten close to hitting a biker, although it’s hard in SE portland after 9:00 PM when they cycle drunk and in packs. just saying.

      June 26, 2012
      • Narrow roads are meant to keep traffic slow, it is a design technique. If you add in bikes you are slowed down even more, thus apparently lowering the crash rate. At least that is how I have had traffic engineers explain it to me.

        June 26, 2012
      • You may want to procure a suitable alibi for the last Friday of each month when they have their Critical Mass rides…

        June 26, 2012
    • jrdpdx #

      No need to worry about Yoona running anyone over. After I intentionally blocked Yoona while on my bike she retaliated not by flattening me on the road but by putting my daughter’s birthday cake in a hot oven to melt the candles all over the cake. Poor Tillie had to settle for a Twinkie at the 7-11 on our way home.

      June 27, 2012
      • please tell me that is not a true story about the 7-11. do you remember how sad the cake looked when we pulled it out of the oven? i still feel so bad.

        June 28, 2012
  6. This is great, sending it to my wife. She always wants to buy a canoe or kayak just to hang it in our garage.

    June 26, 2012
  7. Em #

    I can relate even though I commute to work by bike everyday. When I’m driving, I hate bikers and when I’m biking, I hate cars.

    June 25, 2012
    • i imagine when i get a bike i will also struggle with this duality

      June 26, 2012
  8. Maura #

    Seattle is even worse! We have no bike areas and constant construction so bicycle riders are all over the place. It is the Wild West and not the bad movie by Will Smith. But it leaves the same taste in your mouth

    June 24, 2012
  9. I speak as a West London pedestrian who has never learned to drive or use a bike.

    There is an extraordinary level of animosity in the UK between cyclists and drivers but the behaviour of both towards pedestrians is rarely mentioned. I see all sides behave badly every time I venture outside and at times I have been left standing with my mouth open at what I’ve seen. I have come close to being killed by both cyclists and drivers who have failed to obey the rules.

    The greatest risk is from cyclists who move from road to pavement, often cycling at speed amongst pedestrians and ignoring the red light when on the road, riding straight across pedestrian crossings even when people are using them. I have only seen a cyclist get pulled over once by a police officer for this kind of behaviour even though riding on the pavement should lead to a £200 fine.

    Drivers use mobile phones, fail to indicate before turning and also carry on through red lights (this includes London’s bus drivers). Cyclists ride the wrong way along roads, race on and off pavements and force people out of the way. I can’t decide whether the sight of a man wobbling along while he composes a text without looking at where he’s heading is funny or not, it wasn’t the time I saw a teenage boy do it as he moved down a main road which is a regular route for emergency vehicles travelling at speed. Pedestrians frequently cross the road without looking, on their mobiles or plugged into MP3s.

    The need to reduce emissions in the city is driving the effort behind lanes for cyclists but they don’t always use them and I feel that their aggression towards pedestrians is being ignored. I realise you wrote this post with your tongue in your cheek and I understand your frustration but it has become a matter of life and death where I live.

    June 23, 2012
    • my new car, a ford explorer, has so many things inside it to entertain a driver that i could probably live inside it. a different model came with a cooler. A REFRIGERATOR. texting while driving is a huge problem here and it is hardly policed. i absolutely agree that the situation is untenable, and as a pedestrian i agree that those on foot are at the mercy of all.

      June 23, 2012
      • Since I last commented I posted this on my blog which I thought you might like to see: http://wp.me/p267Ik-iy This is a few minutes walk from my home (it’s not all this ugly!) and I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll see something like this happen every time I go near it. You can probably tell from the comment that I am irate at the behaviour of the parent in one of the pictures. Cycle lanes are there but not used, although I accept they are of quite a low standard as seen in the video: http://youtu.be/-BPcfRRaKbs Please excuse the mention of my own blog, just felt it was relevant! The boys in the photo are now in deep trouble as the blog post was mentioned to the local police.

        June 26, 2012
  10. I’m a little confused why you hate ALL riders because of the mistakes of some. I ride my bike, I follow the road rules (I keep as far on my side as possible, in the lane if it’s there, I don’t ride two abreast, I have my little blinky lights on when I need to, and I watch for cars under the assumption that they haven’t seen me…etc etc…)…I’m not sure what else I’m supposed to do there. Similarly, when I drive my car, I follow the rules.

    I completely understand being angry at riders who ride stupidly, just as people get angry at drivers who drive stupidly. You’re on a vehicle, you follow road rules, there’s no special consideration for being on a bike. And it’s particularly stupid because in bike vs. car…yeah, the rider ain’t gonna win, so why do they risk it?

    I guess I’m just increasingly surprised at the amount of hate drivers have for riders. For some reason, it’s one group that people are allowed to mercilessly deride and generalise about and nobody says anything because they’re just, ‘stupid bike riders who don’t follow the rules and suck.’

    Am I allowed to hate on drivers that swerve into me without looking, when I’m doing everything I’m meant to be doing? If I’m on a bike, I deserved it. If I’m in a car, I didn’t.

    I know I’m not going to change anybody’s mind. I’m just completely at a loss, as a law-abiding rider, what I can do to stem the hate everyone behind a wheel has for me when I’m on my bike as opposed to in my car or on a tram.

    June 23, 2012
    • hey rebecca. sorry to cause you any grief; my blog is written to amuse and to say what’s on my mind–and as for this post i was of course talking about cyclists who do not follow the rules–hence the last sentence of the post. some level of exaggeration is the license i take while writing; and i suspect many of the commenters are the same. thanks for reading and taking the time to share your thoughts.

      June 23, 2012
      • I completely understand that, and I do understand the frustration of dealing with riders who insist on riding unpredictably and stupidly. And hipster riders on fixies whut.

        I figured you were just referring to the people that don’t follow the rules, although the sentence “I have built up a loathing for bike commuters and everything they stand for” threw me for a loop a bit.

        You don’t have to apologise, it’s your blog! I just wanted to throw my $0.02 in on a topic that I’m quite passionate about 🙂

        June 24, 2012
  11. Hahahaha 🙂 great post, very funny. It’s the same no matter where you are, I’m in Australia and we have the same problem 🙂

    June 22, 2012
    • except you guys have it even worse since y’all drive on the wrong side of the road. don’t you? 😉

      June 23, 2012
  12. John Dudrey #

    Maybe my favorite Yoonanimous post of all time. I’ve gotten frustrated enough with the bike situation in our close-in Eastside neighborhood that Nicole and I have started to ponder the once-unthinkable notion of moving to the West Hills when it’s time to upgrade to a bigger house. This is what it’s come to!

    June 21, 2012
    • dudrey, as if you needed an excuse to end up in the west hills

      June 21, 2012
      • Shoe #

        Ditto above comment

        June 21, 2012
    • jrdpdx #

      Dudrey, this is called getting old. You and Nicole should “upgrade” now

      June 22, 2012
      • john dieter! your wife outed you. now i know who this is

        June 26, 2012
  13. Shoe #

    I have accumulated 6 hash marks on the side of my F-150 in the last two years. Thinking about adding a toothy shark mouth to the grill ala WWII Spitfire. Fixies better recognize!

    June 21, 2012
    • the shark mouth would certainly add to the urban cowboy image you’ve managed to perfect. maybe a cuban dangling from the shark mouth

      June 21, 2012
      • a cuban cigar, not a cuban person

        June 21, 2012
  14. jrdpdx #

    Hey! I stopped at a stop sign just this morning… and my socks are cool, not ironic

    June 21, 2012
    • i bet your socks are cool AND ironic. and thank you for stopping at that one stop sign

      June 21, 2012
  15. Pam #

    The rules for bikes are the same as those for cars. Bicyclists may moan about roads aren’t safe to ride on, but, they aren’t much better for cars. Where I live, if you don’t go the speed limit (at a minimum), you’re run off the road. Why would you ever want to put yourself (let alone your children) in that sort of situation without a roll cage?

    Love your blog, and I’m not related. 🙂

    June 21, 2012
    • i am waiting for someone to figure out how to transport people like on star trek. thanks for reading, despite your lack of relatedness…

      June 21, 2012
  16. I would say you all need to come back to the South, but we have bike lanes here too, thing is no one uses them.

    June 21, 2012
  17. It’s like they always say- Follow the bike rules of the rode, or die by the sword…Or wait, no that’s not right.

    June 21, 2012
    • you could ask a portland bike commuter but they wouldn’t know either

      June 21, 2012
      • It’s really any bike commuters. I lived in Los Angeles for a couple of years. And they were the worst! I swear every month there was some big bike parade/day, and they would close off entire streets for them. Between that and shooting for the new Dark Knight, I couldn’t drive anywhere. I hate LA for driving purposes.

        June 21, 2012
  18. run em over it’ll be fine

    June 21, 2012
    • i can’t support vehicular homicide on my blog, mr. bunny chow. maybe a slight grazing

      June 21, 2012
      • slight grazing should be sufficient to make them more thoughtful of other road users, besides you pay for the road they don’t

        June 22, 2012

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