Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tips For Driving In Bend

As the city of Bend continues to grow into a thriving metropolis, getting around in this town by car becomes more of a challenge than a joy ride. While out and about at lunch today I encountered some fairly oblivious drivers. Now I understand these aren’t the first and they won’t be the last, but because I see the same patterns of behavior throughout the entire city, I have to wonder if drivers really understand the rules of the road or about extending some common courtesy. So here are a few pointers to help make your motorized journey around Bend a little more enjoyable.

Pedestrians always have the right of way in the crosswalks.
Trying to cross any street (on foot) in Bend is like being in the Frogger video game. You know, the Atari game where you’re the frog and you have to try to cross the road without being squished by a car. In this town the pedestrian is supposed to have the right of way when waiting to cross at a crosswalk. If you happen to see someone standing at a crosswalk looking like they want to ‘get to the other side’, stop. If a car that is coming from the opposite direction has stopped to let a person ‘get to the other side’, stop. If you are driving down a one-way, two-lane street like Bond or Wall and the car that is ahead of you in the next lane over has stopped at a crosswalk there is a fairly good chance they are stopping for a pedestrian, so stop.

There is such a thing as ‘Roundabout Etiquette.
Bend has had this new phenomenon popping up all over the place the past few years and I believe we now reside in the roundabout capital of the world. I don’t know who at the City of Bend was elected to the Roundabout Committee, but they have done a fabulous job of organizing and managing the placement of roundabouts throughout this city of ours. Keep in mind that there are a few rules of Roundabout Etiquette that one should adhere to.

A. It is NOT the Indy 500 Raceway and you don’t need to enter it at Mach 1 as if you’re trying to win a race with the driver that is already in the roundabout. Doing so only makes that person have to slam on their brakes and possibly go into ‘road rage’ mode. It could get ugly.

B. Exiting a roundabout is the same as turning the corner onto another street and it’s a great idea to use your signal. Since 1942 or thereabouts, cars have had this neat little gadety-handley looking thing on the left side of the steering column. It’s called a signal or blinker if you will. It’s a wonderful thing and using it when exiting the roundabout is a spectacular idea so give it a try. (For those of you who signal BEFORE entering the roundabout you are either very proactive or just messin’ with those of us behind you.)

A little bit of courtesy goes a long way.
There is no doubt that chivalry is still alive in Bend as I have been on the receiving end of extreme courteousness by many drivers. I try to reciprocate and extend courtesy to others as well(you know the Golden Rule, “do unto others…”). It is an almost daily occurrence to do something nice for someone, (such as while at a stop light not blocking the entrance to the parking lot someone is trying to exit so that they can go ahead of you when the light turns green) and unfortunately they absolutely do not acknowledge you at all. Seriously, I’m not looking for anyone to throw me a party, but what happened to a little friendly wave when someone does that for you? Are these the people that BLOCK the entrance so no one can get in or out while they are stopped at a stop light?

Or what about the guy in the silver BMW X3 coming out of the McDonald’s parking lot by Costco today who just about ran over the pedestrian I had stopped for so she could cross the road. Had you just robbed BOTC and were trying to make a quick getaway or what? I know you saw the lady I was waving across the street. Would it have killed you to sit there for an extra 2.3 seconds so that she could SAFELY get across the road (because from the look on her face she thought it was going to be her death by YOUR shiny Beemer).

I know there are many more driving 'issues' I've not touched on and I'm not even going to mention the 'my light turned green but I still have to look both ways for the red light runners'. How about we all just slow down, throw some friendly waves around out there (and I emphasize friendly) and give some pedestrians a break. That would be brilliant indeed.

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