TriMet driver publishes his latest ‘Report Card’ for Portland bikers

TriMet driver publishes his latest ‘Report Card’ for Portland bikers

Ride Along with Ali Reis-23

A time for empathy in both seats.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Dan Christensen, a former TV writer and stand-up comedian turned TriMet bus operator, is one of the best windows Portlanders have into the emotional life of our transit system.

On his recently rebooted Roll Easy Blog, Christensen has an interesting set of perspectives about the things he feels the city’s bike users are doing well, and where they (or the streets beneath them) could improve.

It’s a touchy subject, especially since Christensen landed in hot water a few years ago for some attempted black humor when he called in a blog post for Portlanders to “kill this cyclist.” But Christensen (who usually speaks warmly about biking and later expressed regrets about that post) knows the streets much better than most. He sees a wide range of the city because he’s the rare TriMet operator who prefers to work “extra service,” jumping around to whatever route needs him on a given day.

So here’s some of what Christensen had to say in this week’s sequel to his 2012 report card.

Lights A++: This is such a relief to any driver of large vehicles. I don’t need to tell you why lights are good, we are all adults and know the facts but there is more. Gone are those micro-small token lights, you know the little dots that are just there to keep your ass from getting a ticket. I hardly see these at all. Also I find a lot less of those demonic LED Flashing in my eyeballs, now this could be that people point them down and out… just as good as pointing them forward where they actually blind other drivers. So because of the token light loss and the LED light changes I say Power on Cyclist you are lighting the way to the future.

Merging Courtesy A-: Don’t let the minus fool ya most cyclist are far more aware of large vehicles and are far more kind than ever. Sometimes it’s shocking, sometimes it’s even unwarranted and there is a battle of kindness, really! I stopped at a light and the cyclist pulled up, we did a high five and laughed. He was leaving room for me and I was leaving room for him. How cool is that. Still there are a few out there who drive with a righteous chip on their shoulder but they are now shockingly few.

not bike lane

(Image: Dan Christensen)

Bus Mall B+: Things have gotten better on the Mall except in Summer. This grade should be a solid A but in the Summer things go crazy on the transit mall. It’s so close to an A but I can’t do it given how crazy it is. This is one area that will need improvement in the summer to change. The hardcore cyclist have a good head on their shoulder and understand the Transit Mall, but come summer they are flooded by those who just want to feel the breeze in their hair and “hey look that double white line looks like a bike lane!”

Hand Signaling B: Better but still not the best, Still rare but it is growing. As you know I’m a big fan of hand Signaling and I still have my Free pizza dinner for cyclist in Portland when I see enough Hand Signaling. I’m happy with the progress. Please please please practice using hand Signals when you can. I talked with one rider who got in the habit one day at a time. It started with Mondays being Signal days, a month later he added Tuesdays and… you get it, right! Keep it up.

Rational Bike Lanes D-: Ok this is not the fault of Cyclist but it needs to be addressed. Can someone please, please! do a little thinking when adding Bike Lanes in the city. It’s a madhouse of not enough bike lanes where there are cyclist and way way too many bike lanes that are virtually empty year round. Look, I understand there is some sort of push to be the most bike friendliest place in the whole wide world, I don’t have a problem with that, but it’s’ counter productive to simply be slapping bike lanes down like some Russian Communist party program in the 1970’s that’s trying to keep up with the west. “They have 5000 Kilometers of bike lanes in the west, Comrades! We will build 10,000 Kilometers of bike lanes… sure Siberia not so good for bike but Comrades! We cannot afford a bike lane gap!”

Christensen’s other advice includes some thoughts on helmets (he’s in favor) and how to properly mount your bike on a bus rack. Check it all out — it’s always helpful see the world through someone else’s eyes.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 –

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