I’ve written about my commutes over the years, from transit to walking to cycling. Today is one of those cycling stories. Today is what I’d call a “Cheers Episode on Bikes”! It’s been a great ride into the city today.
I departed on Alberta and headed to breakfast first. It has been a foggy morning, so visibility is limited. Well, it’s limited in the sense that I hope drivers are being careful, because their speeds need to be dramatically limited in the fog. Thus I was bumping up my normal cycling hyper vigilance even more so today. If you’re unfamiliar with this level of hyper vigilance, here’s a quick refersher http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypervigilance care of wikipedia. All cyclists need this, all the time. Motorists should have it, because it is they who by multiple orders of magnitude kill their fellow friends, road users, pedestrians and others. I could go on, needless to say, I was watching out hard core, fog does that.
As I headed down the road though, I noticed something. This could be a Portland thing, it might be an Alberta thing, it may be that everybody was just doing right by each other today. People were actually taking a chill pill and watching out for each other. As I rolled onward down the Going Street Bike Boulevard, I came to the 15th street crossing. This is one of the many crossings that make neighborhoods better for children, easier to cycle commute, and keeps cars where they’re supposed to be – on the thoroughfares. The crossing diverts the cars off of the neighborhood slow speed streets onto the higher speed arterial of 15th street. Still a neighborhood street but dedicated to getting cars to more primary arterials. While cyclists are able to cross this redirection straight on Going to continue as a primary bike arterial into the city.
Currently Going street is nowhere near bike capacity. But think about that for a second. This is a neighborhood street that has the potential to carry the equivalent, on single occupant bicycle vehicles, of about an 6 lane Interstate highway. In addition this street has thousands of people living along the road, children and parents, grandparents and young professionals. They all live along and enjoy this street. They’ll never have a capacity issue getting into the city to get to work.
Meanwhile anyone that wants to drive is screwed, because there can NEVER be enough capacity to get everyone to their employ. Again, cars – automated google cars or human directed – will NEVER be able to meet capacity in a high standard of living environment. There isn’t enough space. As the population increases this becomes even more and more apparent, in spite of the arguments that it’ll work out somehow.
Back to the Ride
As I arrived at 22nd I turned toward Alberta and pulled into a bike corral. There were already 6 other bikes in the corral. I immediately thought, “my I do love Portland and its people!” I dismounted, locked her (the bike) up and headed inside Pine State Biscuits for a hearty breakfast.
After a biscuit the size of my head, a piece of chicken the size of a tire, and other assorted ingredients I was ready to tackle the day. Pine State Biscuits is always a great way to start the day with a truly proper biscuit. None of this crappy non-buttermilk biscuit nonsense that is available all over.
After that I headed out for the actual inbound route. Off back down the Going Bike Boulevard. Across MLK, and then on to Williams. Currently Williams is under study to make a better corridor out of this roadway. The primary reasons are it’s a little unsafe at rush hour, with buses and bikes doing a leapfrog for the whole route. With three bus routes on part or all of the street corridor, plus it being a major biking corridor along with more than a few bars, restaurants, studios, art displays and more, there’s a ton of pedestrian activity mixed up in all that too. Needless to say, there can be some dramatic improvements by a redesign.
…I do worry though what the new mayor’s viewpoint is on this, he might put a wrench in it since it’ll cost money. I say create a TID and let’s get this done! People’s lives and well being are worth more than twiddling around wasting about a budget. The area is well beyond able to pay for it through a TID or something.
While I’m heading down Williams I come upon a bus, and prepare to leap frog. But then the yield sign comes on and the re-merge in traffic blinker. Now a lot of people don’t realize this, but ALL TRAFFIC is supposed to let the bus back onto the roadway. Usually though bus drivers cautiously let everything pass before pulling back into the road. Today however there seemed to be an abundance of competence among drivers and cyclists alike! The truck beside me came to a stop, I came to a stop and signalled for the bus to pull ahead and the driver took the #4 into traffic ahead of us. We all, the cyclists behind me, the truck beside me and car traffic behind the truck all continued on. A 2-3 seconds slow down to allow for the smooth and SAFE operation of traffic into town.
Things like this, where people respect the rules to encourage a good, positive commute among everybody, brings a bit of a smile to my face. I like the idea that I’m being respected on the road, and am very happy to let others know I’m aiming to respect others the same.
A little further down the road the same truck driver courteously let myself and several other cyclists take lead when leap frogging around the bus when it went back to the curb for a stop. We were actually travelling faster than traffic at this point, since the auto lane had several people turning that slowed their forward momentum. After that all traffic resumed a steady 28-30mph (yes, if you’re not sure, some cyclists can go this fast on flat or declining ground). We came to a red light together, I peeled off to the right to get entry to the road that would provide easier egress onto the Broadway Bridge.
Once on the road down, a tractor trailer (i.e. 18 wheeler) was attempting to turn right, with blinker lit. Myself and another cyclist slowed and signaled to oncoming traffic that the truck needed to turn. It appeared our auto followers weren’t immediately aware of this. At this point we all cautiously slowed to allow the 18-wheeler to turn. Once it made the right hook we all carried onward onto the bridge.
On the bridge I actually received a verbal callout “to the left” which I realize is often used less than it ought to be. That gave me the umpteenth smile at the thought we Portlanders were looking out for each other today. Getting things done, getting into work, and being good people about it all!
After the Broadway Bridge decline into town on Broadway, again pacing along beside traffic I finally cut off on to the Stark Street Bike Lane down and right onto 3rd. With a final stop at what would be my morning office for the next few hours, Barista. I went in, thinking, today is definitely like an episode of Cheers, except on bikes! A fun commute indeed. Until later, cheers.