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.
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.