29 June 2010

[pdx] The Bicycle Diaries: The TriMetanic Verses part 1

A composite of four days trips to and from my place of employ via bicycle and bus. Though, it must be said, that I've ridden buses before. This is not exactly terra incognita here.

Line 71. To Clackamas Town Center.

One thing that has changed in the few years since I've had to use TriMet to get anywhere is the sheer amount of info there is about when the next bus is coming. All I need to know is the stop id number and whip it up on the TriMet website, which I wish existed back in the 90s this way.

Ever hear of the TriMet Shuffle? This is a dance one sees people doing all the time. It's a relative of the Hokey Pokey, as near as I can tell:
You put your whole body in
You take your whole body out
You put your whole body in
And you look all about
You do the TriMet shuffle
And the bus ain't still in sight
Then you're back on the curb
It may be some sort of earth-magic dance that is supposed to make the bus come a little sooner, but since it ain't getting there before it gets there, it's usually a waste of time.

On second thought, maybe it's more like those pilot's superstitions.

Southeast Oak. Transfer. To Line 20.

The bus has gotten downright chatty. Not only do you know what line you're on, you know what stop you're coming up to and what line serves it. It's a combination of nifty, annoying, and Blade Runner for the poor man.

East Burnside. Transfer. To MAX.

It's at this point that I realize that I  had not, in fact, shut off the flashing tail light on my bicycle, but had left it on. I'm sure I'm not the first one who had ever done that.

I found mounting the bike on the front of the bus easier than I'd thought, even though the part where you "squeeze the handle" wasn't at first clear. But it's up into the rack, hook over the front wheel, et voila. Though I feel like I'm performing to get credibility in the bus driver's eyes, which is actually a little awkward.

Five Hundred Block. Northeast. One Hundred. Twenty Second.

Northbound buses on 122nd after this time are pretty quiet. There are quite a few people who get on and only go a few blocks, a distance I'd be walking (or wheeling, since I got the bike). I can't criticize, though. We call have our reasons.

Northeast.  Hossey. Transfer to Line. Seventy Seven.

The voice of the bus is designed to be flat and uninflected, from everywhere and nowhere. It does it's job nicely, except when announcing Halsey Street: it sounds distinctly like he's saying Hossey. And by the way it impinges on my psyche, I know I'll hear that voice in my head whenever I cross Hossey ... eh, Halsey ... for pretty much the rest of my time here on Earth.

Northeast. San Rafael. Transfer to Line. Twenty three.

I like the way most of the routes out here are twenty-something. Reminds me of the old Blue Snowflake service sector, which this area was the west side of.

At the Taco Bell at NE 122nd and San Rafael, three large-and-in-charge teenage girls get on the bus, all with music plugged into thier ears and chattering anyway. Many times between here and Shaver Street they'll be asked to turn the music down, as the volume in the 'phones is so loud that it can actually be heard at the front of the bus.

Heh. Kids today.

Northeast Stanton.

An attractive slim blonde lady wearing amazingly skinny jeans gets on. Though she seems a bit too poised for the mien, she does not seem out of place. Has a sort of a gentle presence.

Northeast. Shaver. Transfer to Line. Twenty Two.

The young ladies exit the bus by the Rossi Farms fields. They walk off, their whole stride an incarnation of the phrase "Whatevah, whatevah".

The sunset is quite beautiful. I'm no stranger to watching sunsets, but it is actually pretty nice to watch one without having to keep one eye on the road. I'm enjoying this even though I'm missing the 72 Beetle very much. As I still am.

Northeast. 121st Place. And Prescott.

This is right next to Parkrose High. A young black man gets on, resplendent in modern hip-hop couture. Flashes his bus pass like a seasoned pro, sticks his wallet in his back pocket and heads straight to the back of the bus, eyes scanning everything but his fellow passengers in the front. His eyes scan without challenge and without suspicion, but they scan just because that's what they do.

Well, after all, he's just looking for a seat.

In front of me there's a teen girl, probably Japanese. She's got skinny black jeans, scarlet sneakers with black-and-gray leopard spots, an Ocean Pacific flannel top, and is endlessly scanning her iPod, eyes looking through those skinny-frame glasses that are all the rage these days. She has a septum piercing. She is something of a teen cliche in either North America or Asia.

I pull the cord just as we're crossing I-205 on Prescott, and the bus drops me at 92nd. I have to go down the hill from here.

Despite the lack of any shoulder on Prescott going to the light at Sandy, I'm not crowded by the motorists. I'll never meet you guys in person, but mad ups to you for being excellent. It's only really on the news when all motorists seem out to get cyclists ... and if you want to argue about taxes paying for bike access, I've paid gas taxes many a year, bucko. Now that my car's inoperable for the forseeable future, the way I see it, I'll take it out in the use I get out of the road on my bike, because I still have to get to work on time.

Ever notice how TriMet drivers are taciturn even when they're happy? I guess having to worry about the safety of so many people will take it out of you.

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1 comment:

pril said...

you had a 72 beetle? I think my dad had one for a long time when I was a kid. It was a Wolfsburg edition, though, whatever year it was.

Our camry's transmission gave up the ghost a couple of months ago. So I bought a '73 Datsun 240z to work on and play with. 5-spd baby! it was $975. wooot!