Monday, April 2, 2012

This is Portland

Image courtesy of Flowizm on Flicker
I ride my bike to and from work most days, with some public transportation thrown into the mix now and then. Over the years of commuting by bike, I've had a lot of interactions with drivers and other cyclists. But this is Portland. For the most part my ride is a very pleasant experience, here. No one has once yelled at me to "get on the f*cking sidewalk" here--although I've been asked to move over into the bike lane once... when I was trying to make a left turn. (For those who don't understand: the bike lane is on the right, and I wanted to turn left. Is it even legal to turn left from the right lane of a multi-lane road? Nope.) But it's OK, because I get that some bicylists are jerks, and that a lot of drivers lump us all together as a group and yell at anyone who rides on two wheels without an engine to power them. That's why what really irks me is when I see those bikers who give the rest of us the bad image. There are a lot of cyclists around here. After all, this is Portland--and not all of us seem to know how to share the road.

On my into work today, I ran into one of these guys. Almost literally. He was pulling up to the intersection of NW Davis and 4th and decided, since he was riding a fixie and was obviously too cool for brakes, that he didn't actually need to stop at the stop sign. Well of course there was a car coming from the left that he very nearly ran right into. Fortunately, they were able to avoid a collision. The driver very understandably honked his horn at the cyclist that cut him off. The cyclist, meanwhile, gave the driver a one-finger salute.

Wait, what? Yes, the cyclist flicked off the driver that he, the cyclist, cut off! My mind was blown. "What was he thinking?" I thought. So I asked him. His reply:

"This is Portland, man."

Oh, and even though he continued to run every red light and breeze through stop signs without even slowing, we both managed to reach the Park Blocks at exactly the same time. But it's cool. It's all good, because he was riding a very trendy fixie. And he had a beard. And this is Portland. Man.

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