Cars vs Bikes? Not Here…

I’d like to repost a recent Register-Guard letter to the editor that made me smile.  It’s all to easy to focus on conflict and differences, but Karen Lally’s letter illustrates well that we are all in this together.

Small kindness has big effect

I was biking hard to work recently when I noticed a driver had stopped ahead in the lane of traffic for no apparent reason. I wondered why, until I pulled abreast of the car and the man said, “You lost a glove in the intersection back there.”

I thought about how disappointed I’d have been to find it missing later in the day. A glove is a far too critical and expensive piece of winter riding gear to leave behind for inconvenience. Very grateful, I thanked him, dismounted and turned to recover it.

No need. The next car to approach me had an arm extended out the passenger side window, and it was waving a glove. Instead of handing it off as one would a baton in a relay, the car pulled over and the lady said, “This is your lucky day.”

She spoke the truth. I could hardly believe that not one but at least three people cared enough to help me.

Never underestimate the value of a small kindness. It’s the thing that moves us forward as humans, speaks to compassion and understanding and restores hope on a dark, rainy day.

Karen Lally


Author: C-Gir


15 thoughts on “Cars vs Bikes? Not Here…”

  1. Here, here. My family rides bikes year around and we experience this kind of behavior all the time. We sometimes attribute it to our kids. Drivers are always polite in Eugene when we are riding with our kids.
    I also have noticed that more people are riding bikes this year. I’m seeing bikers on every street and in every riding condition – rain, cold, mist, all kinds.

  2. As a Portlander who rides and goes to school in Eugene, I feel like anecdotes like this one obfuscate the reality of car-bike interaction here. I would gladly trade the occasional glove assist for a city where drivers obey speed limits, understand and respect the legal rights of cyclists, and generally drive in a friendly manner. Eugene drivers, for the most part, do none of those things. Portland drivers do. I find that the cycling community here is smug and self-righteous due to its innovation and political success in the 80s and 90s.

    Most of you folks don’t know how good you could have it.

  3. A not positive follow-up on the big riggs moving through Idaho on scenic US hwy 12.

    January 19, 2011, 8:13 am
    > Idaho Approves Giant Refinery Shipments
    > ImageRajah Bose for The New York Times Protesters gathered near massive drilling equipment at the Port of Lewiston in Idaho last fall.
    > The Idaho Transportation Department says it will grant two permits allowing the oil company ConocoPhilips to move super-size loads of refining equipment along a winding ribbon of two-lane highway in the northern part of the state.
    > Transport is to commence on Monday of next week, weather permitting.
    > An array of environmental groups and local residents have fought the shipments for months, arguing, among other things, that the corridor in question adjoins some of the most pristine wilderness remaining in the lower 48 states.
    > The road, United States Highway 12, is also part of the historic Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and cuts through Nez Perce tribal territory.
    > But in a statement, Brian W. Ness, the director of the Idaho Transportation Department, said that the time for deliberation was over.
    > “I am convinced the record showed the loads can be moved safely, without damage to the roads and bridges and with minimal disruption to traffic and emergency services,” Mr. Ness said. “Every argument has been heard and considered. We can no longer delay this process.”
    > The loads, indisputably big and often referred to as “megaloads,” can weigh hundreds of thousands of pounds, stand as high as a three-story building and stretch nearly the length of a football field. The shipments would travel only at night and at low speeds, blocking traffic in both directions — although ConocoPhilips and its contracted movers have worked with transportation regulators to build and expand pull-outs along the route to minimize traffic tie-ups and to allow emergency vehicles to pass.
    > The oil company has four such shipments planned — all destined for a refinery in neighboring Montana. Transportation officials in that state had so far been waiting to see what happens in Idaho before ruling on its own megaload permits, though they have indicated that they would grant them.
    > Meanwhile, Imperial Oil, the Canadian division of oil giant Exxon Mobil, waits in the wings with plans to move more than 200 similarly sized modules along much of the same route to its oil sands operations in Canada. Imperial’s plans have drawn a wider audience of environmentalists who categorically oppose oil sands development to Idaho’s permitting dispute.
    > More than 30 of Imperial’s oversize modules have already been delivered to Idaho’s Port of Lewiston, but they have been stranded as the ConocoPhillips permits are debated.
    > A group of 13 residents and business owners seeking to block the shipments in Idaho had most recently sought to present oral arguments directly to Mr. Ness, but that hearing was evidently not granted.
    > One of the opponents, Borg Hendrickson, who lives along U.S. 12 and who has led opposition to the shipments, largely via the Web site Fighting Goliath, said in an e-mail message, “We are saddened by the fact that the thousands of Idahoans who oppose the megaloads are having to work so hard to have one of their own state agencies hear them. Citizens’ right to question decisions made by state agencies is central to our democratic form of government.”
    > Ms. Hendrickson said that she and her fellow opponents were weighing next steps — a fact that apparently was not lost on Mr. Ness.
    > “I will not comment further on this case,” Mr. Ness said in his official statement on Tuesday, “because litigation is possible and because of the similarities of the pending request from Imperial Oil/Exxon Mobil to transport oversized loads on U.S. 12.”

  4. Zach,

    I moved here from Iowa 5 years ago, and I actually believe that the entire North West doesn’t know how good they have it. 🙂 I posted this story as an attempt to illustrate that, and to focus on the positive – since I often am forced to focus on the negative here.

  5. Zach,

    “Eugene drivers, for the most part, do none of those things. Portland drivers do.”

    I haven’t found that to be the case personally. Sure there are exceptions but in general I think riding in Eugene is a pleasant experience. Hope you can make it back up to Portland more if you enjoy riding there. I prefer the smaller town feel of Eugene myself.

    “I find that the cycling community here is smug and self-righteous due to its innovation and political success in the 80s and 90s. Most of you folks don’t know how good you could have it.”

    I think most of the great things were accomplished in the 70’s and a bit in the 80’s in Eugene. I also think the opposite- the cycling community has been pretty stagnant and inactive up to a few years ago mostly because of those innovations. I think the 10% of people who generally feel comfortable cycling are generally okay with how things are (and aren’t really self-righteous about it) but to get more people cycling we need to take it to the next level with more infrastructure supporting those who don’t yet feel comfortable riding.
    So we may have different views on the current state of cycling in Eugene but hopefully we both want to move forward to a future where more people are biking more often. What are the ways we can do this in a positive and effective manner?

  6. There’s nothing substantial we can do until Eugene either develops a critical mass of cyclists beyond the transient population associated with the university, or the community figures out how to engage the student body. Additionally, Eugene and Lane County are flat broke.

    Other than that, I just don’t think there are enough cyclists to change the culture around here. Larger cities (like Portland) have the advantage of having far higher population densities in their central cores, and smaller college towns might have an advantage because they’re not surrounded by the suburban hell that Eugene is. (I’m not sure about the latter, because I’ve never lived in a town like that.)

    So, I’m a bit cynical about there being real change here anytime soon. And as a grad student planning to move back home to Portland in a year and a half, I don’t feel like I can contribute to any advocacy efforts in a meaningful way. Hell, I read this blog and I don’t even know what kind of advocacy is going on beyond folks supporting specific projects.

    That’s where I’m coming from…

  7. Zach, There are plenty of cyclists here in Eugene that can make a difference but this goes beyond the people who currently bike. There are a lot of people who don’t ride now but would like to if they felt safer doing it.

    I think it’s just as easy to be cynical in Portland, Eugene, or Medford. Cynical is as cynical does. Hope breeds vision and that creates the culture change.

    Here’s one spot to start for information:
    There is an advocacy committee meeting coming up on Monday, Jan. 31st. Here’s info on that:

    It can feel overwhelming and like change won’t happen- making a culture shift is tough! But if we don’t try we have only ourselves to blame.

  8. Shane, the fact that you include Portland and Medford in the same sentence in a discussion about cycling is a perfect example of the attitude I’m trying to point out. Portland and Eugene (and, for God’s sake, Medford) are not the same! Portland is light years beyond any other city in the country in creating a safe and well-utilized bicycle infrastructure – but the most recent post on this blog is about someone putting a small bike corral in front of his house on a quiet residential street. And it’s coupled with back-patting about it possibly being the “first residential bike corral in the nation.” Who cares!

    So a great cooperative house ran out of bike parking and doesn’t want to install more racks on its property, and the city’s accommodating its needs. Big deal. It’s a quiet residential street. There are no businesses complaining about losing a parking space. This is a perfect example of the smug, head-in-the-clouds attitude that I’ve been trying to point out. Portland has 61 bicycle corrals, and rapidly growing, in a city only five times the size of Eugene! The city has a whole web site about them: .

    Every time I’ve tried to get involved with local activism in Eugene, I’ve found myself surrounded with smug people whose ideas and thought processes don’t seem to connect with reality. Although the people in the cycling community are clearly more realistic than many other groups, the comments in this thread exhibit the same old unproductive attitude that’s turned me away in the past.

  9. Yeah, because Portland isn’t smug. Even you pointing out that “Portland is light years beyond any other city….” is a smug comment by a Portlander. Thanks for that link on the Portland corrals…who cares!

    My point about Medford is that even Medford can have people that are cynical if they choose to be so. You’ve chosen to be cynical about Eugene rather than productive and positive.

    How do you think Portland got where it is? By people pushing the boundaries of the status quo. A bike corral replacing parking in a residential area is way out of most cities norms and therefore is part of how we get to “having it so good.”
    Oh and if you read the article it’s not a Coop, it’s a family residence.

  10. Shane, I am comparing Eugene to Portland because those are the two cities I know best. I’m doing this in order to point out that people in Eugene think they are doing a much better job at cycling advocacy than they really are.

    What’s funny is that the residential bike corral article only obliquely refers to the fact that it is not even an licensed installation! (I learned this on Portland’s cycling blog –

    The corral was built by a forward-thinking private citizen that wants official recognition, but there is no indication whether or when it will ever be approved by the city! This is not a collective accomplishment, it’s not forward-thinking policy, and it’s not an example of anything except for the fact that Eugene has a few cool people who are willing to push the boundaries. And I think that’s great.

    I also think that it’s asinine for any person or organization in Eugene that did not actually install that bike rack or paint those lines on the street to point to it as an example of this city doing the whole bike thing right. I guess I should have been a bit clearer in the first place: it’s not so much smugness that I’ve noticed, it’s smug complacency that prevents people like you from seeing the big picture. I did not bring up Portland’s 61 bike corrals to brag, but to draw a comparison with Eugene.

    If you weren’t smug and complacent, you wouldn’t have said, “who cares?”

    You would have said, “How did Portland get all of those corrals and what can we learn from Portland’s success that we can apply in Eugene?” Again, it’s the attitude that people like you exhibit – the attitude that you’re doing things right and should congratulate each over about things that don’t reflect policy changes – that’s turned me off to activism here. It’s not my cynicism.

    Most people here (and I mean in Eugene, not specifically within the cycling community or on this blog) live in a bubble. It would do them well to get out once in a while.

  11. Zach,

    Have you been reading the articles here about the bike corrals that the city is installing and the artwork going into them? Do you know that I’ve linked to the Portland site about bike corrals several times from this site, and asked exactly what you said we should be asking a long time ago? Do you know that one of the driving forces behind getting our first three bike corrals is a city employee?

    Have you been to the BPAC and GEARs meetings? Have you been to the public input meetings regarding the Alder St. Cycletrack, the redo of Monroe St, or bike corral installation? Have you been paying attention to all the improvements we’ve posted about recently on this site, all of which were heavily pushed through by the local advocacy?

    Your whole argument seems contradictory. You call us smug and then tell us we don’t know how good we have it. You said Eugene will never be Portland but then brag that Portland has 63 corrals and we have none (soon to be three). You say our advocates do nothing, but when one of them does (Paul is the former president of GEARs) you poopoo him as a private citizen and his project as “not forward thinking.”

    It seems to me you are in the typical UO bubble, and really have no idea what is going on in this town. I quote Sammy Jackson: “The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.” Just because you aren’t plugged in to what is gong on doesn’t mean there isn’t TONS of work going on behind the scenes. I’m sorry WBE isn’t as good as BP at reporting EVERYTHING that happens, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening. However, if you actually read this site carefully you’d know, for instance, that I’ve already linked to that bike corral page in Portland several times.

    It’s unfortunate that a post which was trying to focus on the positive degenerated into this type of discourse. If you’d like to discuss this in person over beers, away from the heat of the internet, feel free to contact me through our contact page.

  12. Zach,

    That line about “who cares” re: the Portland bike corrals was a joke based off your comment re: the Eugene bike corral. Obviously I care that’s why I took precious time from my life to write it, sorry it didn’t interest you.

    I agree that we as a bike community have become a bit complacent and have been working hard the last three years to improve that complacency. I however don’t think we’re smug (or certainly not anymore than beloved Portland).

    I think Mike pretty much sums up the rest of what I have to say too.

    I’m also willing to be a bit more defensive than I usually like to be since this is an old comment area I don’t think many folks are reading =)

  13. @Mike – I know about everything reported on this blog, which seems to be a pretty comprehensive source of information.

    No matter what you say, the residential bike corral was not a community accomplishment. There’s a possibility that it may not even be allowed to say. It was a bold and creative act by a single individual – a laudable act – but not something worthy of a group hug just yet. Calm down a little bit, stop looking for hypocrisy, and try to think about where I’m coming from. The complacency I’m talking about stems in no small part from the typical Eugene squeamishness about honest and objective self-criticism.

    Regardless, you seem to have missed my point completely. It’s not that WBE’s not doing a great job (it is), it’s not that individuals in Eugene aren’t working hard to advocate for bikes (they are), it’s just that there’s very little objectivity here, very little willingness to step out of the Eugene bubble. And that’s okay. That’s how everything in here. Food, politics, you name it. People used to move here to escape the rest of the world, and some still do. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does allow the world to pass you by.

    @Shane – I should have used the word “complacent” to begin with – it’s what I meant, and it doesn’t have the same negative connotations as “smug.” I don’t think you guys are smug at all, and I’m sorry about that.

  14. I agree, cyclists in Eugene (and Portland) can easily slide into complacency. We have a long hard fight ahead to make cycling more comfortable for more people. Hope you’ll join us.

  15. Thanks, Shane – I’ll do my best, and keep an eye on these pages for opportunities to lend a hand.

    Keep up the good work!

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