Survival of the fittest
One thing about Seattle I don’t miss at all is the general boneheadedness of Seattle drivers. Road users here in Portland mostly seem to know the rules, and play by them. Even the bicyclists.
But that doesn’t mean things are perfect. There are plenty of drivers who must’ve have gotten their licenses on sale at Walmart.
The other day I was headed west on Halsey. I was in the left lane; a new Subaru Outback was on my right. On some blocks of Halsey, parking on the street is allowed, on some, it isn’t. We were approaching a block where it’s allowed.
I notice Mr. Outback is moving toward me. He did not look to see if anything was next to him before initiating a lane change.
So I lay on the horn. No reaction from Mr. Outback, he continues to look straight ahead and move closer. He must be totally engrossed in Morning Edition, or else new Outbacks are so soundproof, he can’t hear me.
Never mind the double yellow lines, there’s a TriMet bus coming the opposite direction. I pounded on the driver’s window with my fist. Finally, a reaction! He moves back into his own lane.
But even if he hadn’t reacted, we’d reached a block where there’s no parking, so he would’ve moved back to the right lane anyway (he made a right turn at 42nd). He was able to pass the parked cars by crowding me. Had there been a red light I would have attempted to explain that I’m entitled to the use of the entire lane for the length of my vehicle, and suggested that in the future he do a head check before moving into an adjoining lane.
Another recent near-miss happened on northbound Barbur Boulevard. It was at the part that’s a quasi-freeway with a center curb divider. There were cars in all three lanes, and they all stopped because some idiot pedestrians were standing on the divider (obviously, walking half a block to the pedestrian bridge was way too much trouble).
This was one of those times I was thankful the GTS has such good brakes. It was also one of those times I wish I had a badge and was riding one of the Portland Police Bureau’s blue light-festooned BMWs. I don’t know where some people get the idea that you’re required to stop for jaywalkers (hint: you AREN’T), but the idea of checking to see if something is behind them before slamming on the brakes doesn’t seem to register, either.
As I said, stuff like this happened on a daily basis in Seattle, but in Portland these incidents are memorable because they’re unusual.
But that doesn’t mean I can let my guard down. When you’re on two wheels, heightened awareness is a must, whether your bike has an engine, or not.