Blogging TriMet bus driver gives bike riders good report card

Blogging TriMet bus driver gives bike riders good report card

Portland City Tour ride -16

(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

TriMet bus operator Dan Christensen is blogging again, and he’s just published his “Portland cyclist report card”. The good grades Christensen gives people on bikes (see them below) is quite a shift from last time we heard from him.

Dan’s name might be familiar to some readers as the driver who started a petition against allowing bicycle access through the Rose Quarter Transit Center because he was concerned his and other drivers’ views on the matter hadn’t been heard by TriMet. Then, in July 2010, Christensen got into hot water with TriMet for his infamous “Kill This Bicyclist!” blog post. The agency put him on leave after that episode.

Now he’s blogging again and he emailed me his latest — “A report card for cycling that I have seen over the last three years.” Here’s how the grades came in:

“Your actions speak louder than any advertisement campaign, or any spokesperson blowing hard in the media. So riders who are doing it right, you are winning the battle with your good actions… I’m proud of all you and I think that’s good enough grades to go up on the refrigerator.”
— Dan Christensen, TriMet bus operator

Lights: A- up from C-

“the fact is more lights equals more lives saved. Thank you cyclist.”

Sticking Up: B+ from D

“Sticking up is not robbing people, it means Cyclist telling Cyclist what the hell they are doing wrong… policing their own.”

Path Abuse: C from a C

“I’m talking about three cyclist out for a ride on a busy street all side by side, swerving in and out of a bike lane. I’m talking about making traffic swerve way out of there way just so you can talk to one another during rush hour. Giving a grade here is not as easy as it seems. There is more of this Path Abuse going on but there are way more cyclist today so it’s hard to know if this issue is becoming more frequent overall. I’ll give it a C, so it needs improvement but it’s passing for now.”

Helmets: A+ Up From B+

Courtesy Downtown B+ up from C+

“Three years ago getting a bus in and out of bike lane was difficult and dangerous. It was as if there was a competition, as if the bus was the man and every cyclist wanted to stick it to the man… There is far more caution by cyclist around big rigs in the crowded streets and this makes me smile every time.”

Hand Signals D+ up from F

“I see a trend starting… Like bike lights I feel this is going to burst into use in the next three years.”

While bike riders did well, and are improving on all the subjects above, Christensen did give downgrades in two subjects:

Speed Differential: C down from C+

“Yes there are times you can go faster than traffic on a bike and sometimes on a downhill slope you can go much much faster than the traffic. The danger is this, by increasing your speed you lengthen your travel time when something goes wrong… remember you are not Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China, reflexes will not save you if physics refuses to make an exception for your actions.”

Signal Adherence: C+ Down From B-

“Stop signs, lights and other traffic control signals should not be treated as cyclist optional… I know what it’s like, when I bike home at 2 AM it’s hard to fight myself into stopping and doing the right thing.”

Christensen also announced that he’ll throw a $1,000 pizza party for “all cyclists in Portland” if he counts 15 different people using hand signals in a one month time period. Let’s hold him to it! And invite other bus operators!

Check out his full blog post. It should be noted that Dan is a great guy, and his candor in dealing with the very important subject of bus/bike safety is an asset to Portland. Oh, and he’s super funny too!

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