Throw everything that you learned in Driver’s Education out the window, just not literally, especially not in Portland. The rules of the road here on the west coast are a bit different than what we were taught as accepted driving practices. Now, I’m not an excellent driver, but I’m capable and respectable – remember I did make the 32 hour drive here safe and sound.
So, let me break it down to you Buzzfeed style in a short, fun, possibly pointless list. Just so we cover all the bases, I may play ignorant driver at some points because of my lacking overall big city driving experience.
Why Driving in Portland Sucks.
- Speed Bump City
Basically you are never more than 200 yards from a speed bump. Sometimes you don’t even see them coming because the strong desire for trees to be planted everywhere creates constant shadows on the pavement. This isn’t necessarily a huge problem because the speed limit is never more than 35mph anywhere but highways. Of course this isn’t because of the speed bumps but due to the numerous people who feel obligated to walk and bike at all times of the day. These people were also apparently never taught to look both ways before crossing. Even when I’m walking downtown, I’m pretty sure I’m in the 1% that pauses before crossing any intersection. Seriously, the trust in driver awareness is impeccable. However, biking may be the real danger towards pedestrians. I’ve already had a few mornings walking out to my car where I’ve almost gotten ran over by someone on a bicycle. At least I can hear a car coming.
Fun Fact: If you look up speed bump on Wikipedia, they are classified as “the common name for a family of traffic calming devices”
- The Waterslides of the Business World
This may be an instance of my ignorance, but basically the system to get onto the highway during rush hour is similar to the system of getting on a waterslide. The lifeguard lets every other person go when it’s safe. In this case it’s just lights and there is no lifeguard, so it’s really not always safe. I also don’t understand why there is even still such terrible traffic when everyone in Portland bikes. The second crazy thing about this relates to the slow speeds they have going on here. Are they still called highways if top speed I’ve ever been able to travel is 60mph (speed limit 55mph) and it’s actually hard to keep a consistent speed of 45mph? The most frustrating part is the lack of a fast lane. With the limit that low, semi-trucks drive in any of the three lanes at their choosing.
- Redefined Intersections
I don’t really want to talk much about this, because seriously it doesn’t need a description. Just so the city is aware, the giant mural on the ground doesn’t distract anybody from the fact that this isn’t safe and the streets aren’t straight.
P.S. This is more common than you could imagine.
- Lack of Road Rage
I know I sound like an idiot complaining about this, but with no one getting angry then it’s an anything goes system. That attitude seems to be consistent with Portland in general, accepting to everyone and their individuality. But there needs to be a limit on the road. People pull out, switch lanes, and stop like there are no other cars in existence. The only positive of this is when I screw up I not only have my out-of-town license plate to defend me, but also I have no one who even wants my apology.
- Street Parking
It’s madness! Parking is available on both sides of the road and don’t worry about which way you’re facing when you pull over. Get as close to the stop signs as you want, we don’t actually want to see into the intersections before continuing to drive. I’m also sure no one minds that roads all of a sudden become single lanes when it’s two-lane traffic. If you expect to drive on a busy day and not have to pull against the sidewalk to let a car pass before you can continue, you’re an idiot. Everyone who drives a car is an idiot.
- Basically, Nothing Makes Sense
I know all the Michiganders will enjoy this little phenomenon: in construction zones, workers are actually present. All I’m trying to say is don’t believe the lies you’ve heard. It’s not pro-bike/walk/commute city, it’s just anti-driving.
But have you seen their bridge system? It’s how this whole city was designed. It’s really just a hub for all things chaotic and all the open-minded thinkers keep the illogical system running smoothly. So roll down your windows, put your sunglasses on, and make sure you have some good music for your long trip. Just make sure to never take your eyes off the road – besides the high possibility of hitting someone – it’s an automatic $500 fee for using your cell phone.