Thursday, November 27, 2014

Riding the Pacific Northwest

Out for a run this morning and listening to Cappy Cap's latest podcast.  Apparently in Minnesota it is snowing.  He was talking about having trouble making it up hills in his rear wheel drive car yesterday morning on the way to the grocery store.

I am in Portland for the long weekend.  Yesterday I got off work around noon and had to make a decision.  How to get to Portland.  Normally it's about a four and a half hour drive.  Last year, however, it took me nine hours.  Traffic was horrible.  Absolutely horrible.  So this year I have two choices.  Choice one is to wait until the wee hours and drive down.  Take me the usual four and a half hours but have to get up in the middle of the night.  Choice two would be to ride the Harley.

Yes, that is a choice.  Dry out, mid fifties temperatures.  Supposed to rain so I geared up and even wore the full face helmet.  What a waste.  I could have worn leathers and a beanie.  Pacific Northwest problems, wearing too much gear for the weather.

Something interesting happened.  Seven times in fact.  I split lanes.  Spent seven years in California (presumably unrelated to the number of happenings yesterday) and really learned to ride where splitting lanes is legal.  For those of you who are wondering it isn't particularly dangerous.  Here's how it goes.  The traffic slows to a crawl.  Just ahead of you are two cars with a motorcycle sized gap between them.  You ride through the gap.  You are now further up the road than you would have been otherwise.  The cars, however, aren't really any worse off because as a motorcycle you are taking up less space and moving quickly through traffic.  In fact they are better off because there is one less vehicle in traffic.  You do this a bunch of times and you are down the road, through the traffic jam, and doing the limit.  The California Highway Patrol has routinely testified about the safety of the manoeuver.  They don't see many accidents and don't think it's an issue.  As a rider, like anything else, the more you practice  the better you get.  After a while you pretty much don't even pause between passes.  I can make serious time in traffic.  You do have to watch carefully for police cars because it isn't legal anywhere except in California so that adds some stress.

Yesterday, however, there were a fair number of people who apparently objected to the practice.  No idea what their issues were but... they honked at me.  One lady moved her car to the white line, keeping me from getting past, and then honked at me when I finally passed.  WTW?  What purpose does honking serve?  One, do they think I care what they think, and two, what exactly do they think a honk will communicate?  Do they seriously think that a biker cutting between traffic to get to his destination faster is going to care at all that some jacka$$ stuck in traffic is unhappy and honks his horn?  Anyway, seven honks.  Maybe I'll just assume they were supporting my struggle for efficiency in commuting.  All except the last lady who wouldn't let me by.

Oh, and ABATE of Washington is going to be pushing a lane splitting bill this upcoming year, so that would be nice.  One less stress as you're cutting through traffic, to not have to worry about the law.


Anonymous said...

Back in NC, the law never messes with me when I am on a bike. Its aginst the law to ride without helmet yet I have never had a cop pull me over. Lane sharing is illegal, never been messed with for doing it. Always reckoned they figure you an only hurt yourself on a bike

The lady who pulled her car over.... small people upset that someone somehow isn't living like them

NotClauswitz said...

Lane-splitting is practically necessary in gridlock BayAryan traffic, and I have seen people do it at stupid speeds like 50+, but I draw the line at over 45 - if we're going 45 at a minimum that's OK with me. Happy Thanksgiving!