Thursday, April 12, 2012

Why It's Hard to Share the Road

Where'd everyone go?
I just stumbled across this article on Grist, and it reminded me of my commute, yesterday.

Last night as I rode home, I passed by the Rose Garden Arena.  There was an event going on --probably a Blazers game -- and the sidewalks were crowded with pedestrians on their way to the Arena.

The bike route that I was on shares a road with bus lane, on which no regular vehicular traffic is allowed. The problem with this stretch of road, is that pedestrians look for buses, not bikes, and then go ahead and cross the crosswalk against their signal if there aren't any buses coming.  Compounded with the shear numbers of people and the heard mentality that develops, and you get this:

The bike/bus light turns green.  A crowd of people is still crossing the crosswalk, and doesn't stop. More and more pedestrians are piling off the sidewalk on one side, strolling across while chatting with each other about the upcoming game/concert/event to which they are headed.

The guy on the bike ahead of me decides that the best way to handle this is to ride up at full speed, and then ring his bell and start yelling loudly when he is about 4 feet from the crosswalk.

Understandably, the walkers are startled. Does it get them out of the crosswalk any quicker?  No. Does it elicit  a few choice expletives from the crowd, directed at all of us on bikes behind that guy?  Absolutely.

I actually stopped and had a chat with the pedestrian who yelled at us the loudest, to apologize on behalf of the rest of us who try to be reasonable.  He and his wife were very nice.

I was going to write more, but the article over at Grist is exactly what I've been trying to say.  Thanks, Grist!

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