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Credibility questioned while broadcast remains hidden

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 18th, 2006 at 2:52 pm

The storm around The Playhouse radio show is gaining strength by the minute. It is simply amazing to see what a concerned and active community can accomplish.

On the other side, employees and supporters of the show question our credibility because most of us have not heard the original broadcast. I also have a feeling that elected and community leaders are waiting for the orginal recording to surface before weighing in.

I disagree. Even without hearing the original broadcast I think we have every right to move forward and continue to put civilized, non-violent pressure on the station, their advertisers, regulatory bodies, our elected officials, and so on.

I listened to the show on Monday (the comments were made the previous Thursday) and heard callers eager to share their experience of "taking out" a cyclist. Of course the host quickly distanced himself from this, but to me that is all the proof I need that damage has been done.

Whether he admits it or not, the host's comments desensitized his listeners and emboldened them to drive more aggressively around cyclists. This is simply unacceptable in Portland.

I have also heard from three cyclists that listened to the show live and they were all shocked and appalled at what they heard. None of them have axes to grind or any reason to express their feelings other than a willingness to make sure that what they heard does not go unaccounted for.

As cyclists we deal with disprespectful drivers all the time. We will not stand for someone who uses public airwaves to disrespect our right to the road.

As a community we work hard to make our roads safe. We will not stand for someone who decides to reverse that hard work by making inappropriate comments to thousands of impressionable, young motorists.

There is a dangerously thin line between a motorist listening to insensitive, anti-cyclist comments on the radio and the death and/or serious injury of a cyclist pedaling on the road just a few feet away.

Regardless of whether or not the original broadcast resurfaces, this story will continue to develop in the coming days and pressure will continue to be placed on the radio station from every angle imaginable.

I wish this could have been worked out in a more diplomatic way. I gave the host that option but he chose to close the door. Only time will tell if he made the right decision.

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Comments
  • organic brian July 18, 2006 at 3:09 pm

    Some thoughts I just had about dealing w/ hostile drivers:

    Cyclists should protect themselves. Carrying pepper spray helps when confronted by a larger or stronger person who is irrational and violent. Use a rear mirror so that you know what is happening behind you. If you suspect a motorist means to clip you or pass too close, hold a U-lock or bottle out to your left. Most drivers value their autos' paint nearly as much as life itself.

    Hold motorists accountable. Be ready to memorize license plate numbers, be aware of whether anyone else may have seen an "incident" that can testify on your behalf and make sure you talk to that person immediately, if possible have a cell phone handy and ready to use (turned on, in an easily reached place).

    I'd welcome ideas on public awareness campaigns to inform motorists about the statutes, it's plenty obvious that a lot of motorists if not a majority don't realize cyclists can use a lane, have the right-of-way in a bike lane, etc. I'd like to see more cycling-related questions in the driver's license test, posters summing up the rules regarding cycling in DMV lobbies, and so forth.

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  • Brett July 18, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    I'm saddened by your comments. Our system of law strives to promote the tenant "innocent until proven guilty". By you saying you don't need to hear it yourself, and imposing sanctions on the show, you are doing just that. You are also making your choices based on assumptions. You speak of giving the host an option that he doesn't have (based on my research into the P&P manual for the station). He is not authorized to release the podcast given the current climate. I would like to see everyone look at themselves very carefully before doing anything that has an effect on someone else. "Us, as well as "them".

    There is no spoon

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  • organic brian July 18, 2006 at 3:38 pm

    SUMMARY OF LAWS PERTAINING TO CYCLISTS:

    (website with the Oregon statutes)
    http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/

    (ODOT document summarizing bike/pedestrian related statutes)
    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/docs/bike-ped_statutes.pdf

    CYCLISTS ALLOWED FULL LANE:

    814.430 Improper use of lanes; exceptions; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person does not ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.
    (2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:
    (c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side. Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.

    CYCLISTS CONSIDERED VEHICLES:

    814.400 Application of vehicle laws to bicycles. (1) Every person riding a bicycle upon a public way is subject to the provisions applicable to and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle concerning operating on highways, vehicle equipment and abandoned vehicles, except:
    (a) Those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.
    (b) When otherwise specifically provided under the vehicle code.
    (2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section:
    (a) A bicycle is a vehicle for purposes of the vehicle code; and
    (b) When the term "vehicle" is used the term shall be deemed to be applicable to bicycles.
    (3) The provisions of the vehicle code relating to the operation of bicycles do not relieve a bicyclist or motorist from the duty to exercise due care. [1983 c.338 §697; 1985 c.16 §335]

    YIELD TO CYCLISTS IN BIKE LANES:

    811.050 Failure to yield to rider on bicycle lane; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of failure of a motor vehicle operator to yield to a rider on a bicycle lane if the person is operating a motor vehicle and the person does not yield the right of way to a person operating a bicycle, electric assisted bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, moped, motor assisted scooter or motorized wheelchair upon a bicycle lane.
    (2) This section does not require a person operating a moped to yield the right of way to a bicycle or a motor assisted scooter if the moped is operated on a bicycle lane in the manner permitted under ORS 811.440.
    (3) The offense described in this section, failure of a motor vehicle operator to yield to a rider on a bicycle lane, is a Class B

    A FEW WORDS ON "DOORING" CYCLISTS:

    811.490 Improper opening or leaving open of vehicle door; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of improper opening or leaving open a vehicle door if the person does any of the following:
    (a) Opens any door of a vehicle unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and it can be done without interference with the movement of traffic, or with pedestrians and bicycles on sidewalks or shoulders.
    (b) Leaves a door open on the side of a vehicle available to traffic, or to pedestrians or bicycles on sidewalks or shoulders for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
    (2) The offense described in this section, improper opening or leaving open a vehicle door, is a Class D traffic infraction. [1983 c.338 §655; 1985 c.16 §320]

    USUALLY ILLEGAL TO PARK IN BIKE LANE:

    811.550 Places where stopping, standing and parking prohibited. (Abridged) This section establishes places where stopping, standing and parking a vehicle are prohibited for purposes of the penalties under ORS 811.555. Except as provided under an exemption in ORS 811.560, a person is in violation of ORS 811.555 if a person parks, stops or leaves standing a vehicle in any of the following places:
    ...(24) On a bicycle path. Exemptions under ORS 811.560 are applicable to this subsection. [1983 c.338 §668; 1987 c.687 §4]

    FINALLY:

    Note that there has been a recent change in statutes that allows cyclists to pass on the R in certain circumstances:

    SB 938---Modifications to Laws Regarding Bicycles (Chapter 316, 2005 Laws)

    Amends ORS 811.415, 814.410, and 814.420 to allow a bicyclist to overtake and pass on the right and to identify exceptions when a person is not in violation of the offense of failure to use a bicyclist lane or path. These exceptions are:
    - When passing another bicyclist, vehicle, or pedestrian in the bicycle lane or path
    - When making a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway
    - When avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions
    - When making a right turn
    - When continuing straight at an intersection when the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right.

    Effective Date: January 1, 2006

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  • Anonymous July 18, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    they chose to remove the broadcast Brett. They won't allow us to hear it. Doesnt that say enough?

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  • coda July 18, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    Very well written Jonathan, I agree 100%

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  • Anonymous July 18, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    Anonymous,
    No it does not. It is simply a business matter. If it is possbible, based on the behavior of an employee, that a suit may be brought against an company, then all material pertaining to it is sequestered. That's just business. We, as a society "should" not automatically assume guilt simply based on witholding. We need proof, like the eye(ear)witness testimony of those that actually heard it. And even then... that must be qualified and verified. When we, as a society, find people/institutions guilty and begin to impose sanctions/punishments on them without due process we are not acting in concert with the constitution. No matter how wrong the perp is, it/he/she must be given the same due process we would want if accused of something. Now, to the more passionate people on this site... I think this should be pursued, and restorative justice should be served if warranted.

    I love our constitution... it really does rock on a global scale.

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  • Brett July 18, 2006 at 4:20 pm

    I assume that I have been... censored. I find this unfortunate. In all my endeavors I strive to uphold the rights of all people. It seems that an intelligent opposing opinion is not welcome here. Or am I simply jumping to a conclusion? Is the reason my comments are not posted internal to a problem in my computer.

    "The proof against all knowledge is contempt prior to investigation" Herbert Spencer

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  • Brett July 18, 2006 at 4:25 pm

    oops, i was... i'm an idiot sometimes

    Anonymous,
    No it isn't enough. Most companies have a protocol that says if there is a chance of litigation based on the behavior of an employee all material in question is sequestered upon review by lawyers... it's just business. When we, as a society, find someone guilty, and impose sanctions on them before due process we are not acting in concert with the constitution. We must due no less for the people we think guilty than we would demand for ourselves.

    Man I love this country (having been elsewhere)

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  • lianagan July 18, 2006 at 4:39 pm

    If there is a chance of litigation, where is the representation for Portland cyclists? Is there a possibility for a lawsuit on behalf of cyclists? In that case the broadcast needs to be supoenaed.

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  • benschon July 18, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    "Sequestered upon review by lawyers." That's pathetic. These statements were broadcast for public consumption, over public airwaves.

    If the station refuses to provide the primary source material we can only assume the actual statements were as bad, or possibly worse, than reported.

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  • patrick July 18, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    I've said this before and I like to read the comments as much as the next person. But shouldn't comments be related to what the author is writing not a forum?? I know I've been guilty of this as well. Perhaps you should direct people who want to continue the conversation to the forums and perhaps that would be a more appropriate place for uncensored comments, debates etc to take place......

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  • patrick July 18, 2006 at 4:50 pm

    BTW Jonathan,

    I think you've got a new # 1 in the top 10 posts!!!

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  • Garrett July 18, 2006 at 5:36 pm

    I agree. If the station wasn't trying to hide something why wouldn't they just put out the broadcast in entirety. If they don't have anything to worry about then why wouldn't they be happy to put out the original unless they were afraid that it would implicate them. I'm willing to bet their lawyers and PR people told them to keep it down and hope this all blows over.

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  • Matt Picio July 18, 2006 at 6:56 pm

    Regardless of whether it is a good business decision, or if it opens the station up to litigation, they should provide the unedited tapes and / or transcripts. Why? Because they BROADCAST it. Not releasing it isn't proof of guilt, but if the show wasn't guilty of making the statements that they allegedly did, then releasing the tapes / transcripts would PROVE that.

    Jonathan is right - the Monday broadcast is evidence that the listeners took an anti-cyclist message from whatever the hosts said.

    The damage is done, and regardless of exactly what was said, the station, show and hosts have a public obligation to rectify that.

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  • Jeremy July 18, 2006 at 8:18 pm

    The funny thing in business is the Constitution (yeah, big C) is the not rule businesses are held to. It's all about perception. If you read carefully, the criteria for moving forward was not solely based upon accusation, but actual, verified broadcasted comments on Monday. My wife (not a cyclist but loves one) was appalled as I played the podcast of the Monday show.

    The simple fact that by their own account, the Playhouse had multiple people call to brag about "taking out" a cyclist and even aired one is enough for me. Of course, their other broadcasts making fun of the disabled and other minority groups is disgusting enough not to EVER listen again. I feel dirty just from trying to understand where this came from...

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  • Tree July 18, 2006 at 9:10 pm

    I just heard that a friend was riding his bike out to the St Johns bridge on Sunday and someone threw a bottle of water at him and hit him in the back.
    I am so upset about this. If the police don't do something about the recent attacks on bicyclists, and if the radio station doesn't make a statement and can that DJ, someone is going to get seriously hurt. We are all in danger.

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  • John July 18, 2006 at 9:49 pm

    Honestly being realistic even if he deserved to be canned (which in my opinion he doesn't) it would never happen because the majority of people weren't angry about this and enjoy the playhouse.

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  • Michael July 19, 2006 at 6:56 am

    Programming like Playhouse does its business on the edge of social responsiblity and decency. They make money by playing to the lowest common denominator that has money to spend at advertisers. In choosing this business plan the managers/owners take a risk that from time to time a boundary will be overstepped that has difficult consequences. It seems that their attitude toward bicycle riders has crossed the line.

    From a advertsing and marketing perspective, this is hard to figure out. It seems likely that their target demographics would include many of the bicycle riders they are now alienating. Their hostility toward these consumers is counter productive to say the least.

    KXJM management would benefit everyone by stepping up the issue they created and apologising. A simple act of accountability would put an end to this unfortunate episode and we could all move on to better things.

    Lacking that simple courtesy and courage on their part I think they are finding that taking on Portland's bicycle riders is like taking a tiger by the tail. That tiger is very angry and not about to go away.

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  • Dom July 19, 2006 at 7:27 am

    Well said Jonathan! Lets keep the pressure on guys...keep making phone calls, (I know I am), keep hounding the FCC (file a complaint if you haven't and if you have call and check the status of the complaint).

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  • Dom July 19, 2006 at 7:31 am

    oh and great info on Oregon laws Organic Brian!

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  • Jim July 19, 2006 at 7:40 am

    Jonathan, first - it must be said - thank you for providing the forum for such exchanges, albeit innane at times. Your effort to maintain this site and dispense clarity are in huge need.

    If there's any top-level sentiment to how the radio show, and most drivers' arguments, need to be faced, it is: When slighted, revenge is a primal and universal feeling, but encouraging this over tolerance escalates a pre-existing tension on roads today. Talking about revenge and vigilantte justice when witnessing wrongs is a tenuous ordeal. It can spur the least restrained of us to act improperly, and always ends up with a sorry state of affairs.

    We need to simply spread this message - that intolerance for different transportation options is wrong, that generalizing all bikers/ drivers as a class is too simplistic, and strict adherance to every minor rule is impossible.

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  • Dominique July 19, 2006 at 7:56 am

    You obviously did not approach the situation in a very diplomatic way. You posted accusations without even listening to the show. The host has the tools to make you look like the bad guy; he is a professional public speaker.

    Sounds like a crazy idea to solve this problem but how about you apologize for the misunderstanding? I am sure he would then better consider a picnic idea. You would also gain respect from adults on this forum.

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  • SKiDmark July 19, 2006 at 12:25 pm

    I'd love to listen to it but the Playhouse won't let me..........

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  • Matt P. July 19, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    Michael - great post!

    Dominique - please read the posts again. Jonathan never posted any accusations - he posted the report of a cyclist who claims to have listened to the show. He has since reported the events that have happened since that original post. Jonathan's articles and comments have been factual. As for all of us here in the peanut gallery - these are all opinions, please take them as such.

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  • organic brian July 20, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    I naively thought I was going to get hold of the audio of the 7/13 show: a person who answered at Tim McNamara's office told me I could get it from Moba Media. Today Moba called to let me know they don't have that day's show recorded, so back to square one. Hi Tim! I guess I'll just have to keep calling you while you give me the runaround.

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