Another Conflict on E. 19th Ave

WBE reader “AW” wrote to me today about a conflict she had with a car driver on 19th Ave between Oak St. and Pearl St.  This conflict was very similar to a conflict I had with a car driver in that very same block last July, although we were going different directions.  This is an area where the road is so narrow that a bike must take the lane or ride in the “door zone,” and there is no room for a bike and car to exist side-by-side on the road.  Both AW and I were riding in the middle of the lane when a car flew past us, only to stop at the red light less then a block away.  In my case, the car passed so closely that I couldn’t even extend my arm out to my side (I know this because I made the unfortunate decision to punch the car in self-defense);  in AW’s case, the car fully crossed the double yellow line. This is where our stories deviate.

The scene of both conflicts. The red area is filled with parked cars every morning, making the road very narrow. (click to embiggen)

While this is a small area, it is a main route between the Amazon Bike Path and the Fern Ridge Bike Path via 18th ave, as well as being the southern terminus of the Willamette bike lanes. This area can also be seen as a case-study of how car drivers who are unaware of the law can create conflict.  Take the jump to read AW’s account, the police response, and a possible fix for the area.

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What would you have done? A driver threatens my life on E 19th Ave

The scene of the crime, click to embiggen

Like most cyclists, I’ve had my fair share of close calls with car drivers.  Most of the close calls are accidental, comprising of left and right hooks, car doors, and similar things.  I usually just give a hearty “HEY HEY HEY!” and let those incidents go, thanking my lucky stars that my defensive biking skills saved my life, yet again.

Occasionally a driver tries to hit me or scare me.  I’ve been ran into a rock wall by a dump truck in eastern Oregon, ran into a guardrail and almost flipped off a bridge by a truck in Massachusetts, ran into a ditch in Iowa, and honked at and buzzed more times than I can count.  Those drivers were all trying to scare and possibly kill me, and no doubt felt perfectly justified in dehumanizing me.  However, it wasn’t until today that I had a chance to have a discussion with one of these guys right after he threatened me with his weapon of choice, a minivan.

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