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Oregonian reports on bicyclists disrupting traffic

Posted by on May 1st, 2007 at 11:32 am

Just noticed this entry on the Oregonian’s Breaking News blog,

“About a dozen bicyclists blocked traffic about 9 to 9:30 this morning on inner east side commuter streets, then onto the Morrison Bridge westbound. They moved slowly across all lanes as cars backed up behind them, including a police car. This continued for the length of the bridge until the cyclists veered right toward Old Town.”

I don’t know anything about it. Someone care to share some info?


UPDATE: (11:56am) More details have been added to the story. The Oregonian reports that the police say several of cyclists have been cited (including one arrest due to an outstanding warrant). Also,

“Police did not rule out the possibility that the bicyclists were getting an early start on the May Day rally and march scheduled for this afternoon in downtown.”

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  • Dave May 1, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Don’t know if it was the same people, but I saw the same behavior on the Ross Island this morning. About 20 cyclists riding extremely slowly eastbound in both lanes, with traffic backed up behind them all the way across the bridge.

    Lovely way to act as ambassadors of the bike community. Or, alternatively, to be a$%hats. I’m assuming it was some May Day thing…

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  • Dabby May 1, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Sounds moronic to me.
    The Idea of massing, either 12 or 200, and blocking and clogging streets is one of the stupidest there is.

    It does no more than put cycling in a bad light, and then, while involving the police, puts at risk every cyclist that police officer sees for the rest of their shift.

    I can’t wait to hear who this was, so I can bitch them out in person…
    Way to go idiots…

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  • Cecil May 1, 2007 at 11:58 am

    particularly moronic if this line from the O’s blurb is true: “The group was riding the wrong way on MLK.”

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  • Joe May 1, 2007 at 11:59 am

    It’s hard to make progress toward a more comfortable and “green” urban environment when there are those among us who intentionally work to raise aggression toward bicyclists.

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  • Jonathan Maus May 1, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    unfortunately the media and the public often assume that every single person on a bike is somehow related in their values and political leanings….which as anyone with sense would realize is completely ridiculous.

    yes, we are all mostly nice people and their is an aspect of “we’re all in this together” among cyclists, but we should not be made to feel guilty or have to defend everything that happens on two wheels.

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  • chase May 1, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Well Jonathan, maybe you should begin to disclose everytime the media or politicians asks you for a comment, that you DO NOT represent all cyclists. I certainly think you come off that way.

    It’s comical that so many of you (dabby included) have delluded yourselves into believing that you have some entitled position as the representatives of bicyclists in Portland. Some of you need to zip it and/or and go back to California.

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  • Martha R May 1, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    All the more reason that anyone going on tonight’s Master Plan Update ride should take extra pains to be Platinum-quality bicycle ambassadors.

    The only traffic I stopped today was that SUV careening toward the pedestrian that I had just stopped for on my ride to work.

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  • Scott Mizée May 1, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    I was heading in to work a little later than normal this morning.

    As I was coming across the Steel Bridge this morning heading west, they were just coming up the ramp heading east.

    Since I was on a bike, they gave a bunch of approving hoots and hollers… There were only about three cars tied up behind them at the time. It is sad to hear that their ride ended up the way it apparently did.

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  • Coyote May 1, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Morons……. What could they be thinking? Pissing people off does nothing to further any cause. Angry people don’t listen, and reasonable people don’t want to be associated with the aggressively stupid. No wonder Potter is distancing himself.

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  • Jonathon May 1, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Roads were engineered for cars. Bikers aren’t meant to be there. If they’re going to use the same roads, it’s no one’s fault but their own if someone runs them over.

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  • fourwheeler May 1, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    We should lock up those cyclists, and the rest of them who choose to use public road ways. They were built for cars.

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  • freddy May 1, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Who pointed the trolls this way?

    Anyway, don’t feed ‘em.

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  • Jonathan Maus/BikePortland May 1, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    “Well Jonathan, maybe you should begin to disclose everytime the media or politicians asks you for a comment, that you DO NOT represent all cyclists. I certainly think you come off that way.”

    chase. thanks for the feedback. I agree this is something I need to do. I think it’s an important battle for advocates to work on educating the public and politicians that no one person or group can speak for “the bike community”.

    the more we label ourselves, the worse off we are. We shouldn’t let people try and paint us all with one big brush.

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  • West Cougar May 1, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    “We shouldn’t let people try and paint us all with one big brush.”

    Well unless, of course, it’s at the WNBR dance party. :-)

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  • Kirsty May 1, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Sidenote to some posts – many early roads were actually lobbied for and built by bicyclists! It’s somewhat peculiar to think about these days…

    “America’s first bicycle club – the League of American Wheelmen (LAW) – was established in 1880. It printed the first road maps, crusaded and lobbied for the building of roads and wrote the driving rules of the road; all of which became the pattern for the American Automobile Association yet to come a couple of decades later when the automobile seriously entered the transportation scene.”

    http://www.pedalinghistory.com/PHStory.html

    I would add, roads are for cars, and bikes. Let’s all be courteous & share the road.

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  • Tbird May 1, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    I am surprised that so many of you are outraged. You sound just like the large woman who tried to kill me last Sunday as she sped by me shouting ” ride on the sidewalk”. While I generally would prefer a Dutch style system of separated bike-ways with cyclist having the ultimate right of way. I think actions like this, passive resistance, are the best ways to get some attention to the fact the we, cyclists, have no other place to ride at times.
    I say bravo!

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  • SKiDmark May 1, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    I don’t think Jonathan or Dabby are from California. People and businesses moving here from out of state are the reason why property values are going up and why the economy in Portland is doing well. I guess it depends what side of the fence you are on as to whether that is good or not, but I am assuming your native-born go-back-to-California self owns property here and has therefore enjoyed the benefit of having its value increase. I hate how self-righteous a lot of people up here are, and how they like to shift the blame to outsiders. What a conservative mindset to have. It doesn’t matter where someone is from, this country is full of assholes who moved here from all over the world. Maybe if you were from California, you would be friendlier to people from elsewhere because you would realize the value of tourist trade, or for that matter, a fresh perspective.

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  • Matt Picio May 1, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    It would be nice if the cyclists would carry and display signage so we can figure out exactly which group to pigeonhole them into

    Jonathan and chase both have excellent points. I encourage everyone faced with the “all cyclists are the same bunch of hippie / vegan / activist / anti-car / insert-stereotype-here” mindset to ask that person if all motorists are the same / think alike / have the same agenda.

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  • Matt Picio May 1, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Um.. my last post (#18) was supposed to say *tongue-in-cheek* for that first paragraph, but I wrote it like HTML tags and the comment software stripped it out. Please don’t think that first paragraph is meant to be straight and serious.

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  • Cecil May 1, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    “I think actions like this, passive resistance, are the best ways to get some attention to the fact the we, cyclists, have no other place to ride at times.”

    I don’t think that riding en masse and taking up all lanes on the bridges, or riding the wrong way on MKLJr. Blvd., count as passive resistance. Civil disobedience, possibly, but not a very well-thought out exercise of CD. Yes, we need to get the word out that roads should be designed so that we have safe ways to get where we are going on our bicycles, but blocking traffic and pissing people off without somehow letting them know why it is happening isn’t going to get us very far.

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  • Dabby May 1, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    “It’s comical that so many of you (Dabby included) have deluded yourselves into believing that you have some entitled position as the representatives of bicyclists in Portland.”

    Well,

    I remember looking out the window at the ocean growing up, dreaming…… and being delusional. (yes, the California Ocean! We had about a 200 degree view of it from our house. Very nice…)

    When we step outside the box, even in our heads, it allows us to look at how the box is constructed. What holds it together, and what will break it down.

    I have been up here since 1979 or so. I was sent off to a Scientologist private school in Sheridan, Oregon, where the only thing to do was ride my bike down the big hill, or ride my skateboard down the big hill….

    I have been working on the Portland city streets, on my bike, since 1986, or ’87.

    I am proud to have been raised in California, by a family that was smart enough to move north, for the good of it’s members.

    I am also proud to have spent my whole adult life working on my bicycle in the City of Portland.

    Incidences such as this, and such as Critical “Ass” (not a misspelling by the way) do so much more bad than good.

    I know many cannot even fathom why this would be the case, and they continue to ride along, ruining shit for the rest.

    I would venture to guess that Chase above, is a Critical Ass’er. Please correct me if I am wrong…..

    Simply by showing up, and blocking traffic in the act of Critical Ass, is a show of holding yourself in a position of entitlement, speaking for others through your bastard actions. (By the way, I was born a bastard child myself, in order to have proper disclosure here)

    Maybe you should run off to Goodwill, get yourself some silk, and make a sash proclaiming yourself something or other….

    And hey, make me one too, would you?

    Bringing it ’round the turkey and into your living room,

    Dabby McCrashalot

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  • felix May 1, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Dabby, what is you Theaten level?

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  • Randy May 1, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    So the O likes printing oxymorons. We are traffic.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis May 1, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Yes, we *are* traffic. And no one will ever, no not ever, be harmed by cars going 20 mph slower for a few minutes across a bridge. Maybe it will give those folks a moment to think, because most of them sure don’t seem to think much while they’re choosing to pilot their two-ton instruments of 45,000 deaths each year, contributing 39% of Oregon’s carbon emissions, spewing hazardous air pollutants, draining the planet’s remaining oil reserves, and financing terrorists.

    Their anti-social behavior is a moral issue, and they should be thankful that those of us who value the future of our Earth have only inconvenienced them once in the past month or so. My guess is that most of them are happy to be a few minutes late for work. Protest is a quintessentially American and pro-social value that is far more important than the knee-jerk reactions of a select few impatient suburbanites. I think that’s what those “morons” were thinking.

    Instead of calling names, you should perhaps start thinking about how to address the social problems that will be the downfall of our society, because these types of protests are not going to go away. Transportation has gone from a fiscal to a moral issue as a result of the implications of peak oil, climate change, and hazardous air pollution. If we allow people to continue the status quo, they will ultimately bankrupt and destroy us all.

    In order to meet the challenges that face us, we need to be moving at a much more rapid pace than we currently are. The sad fact is that we are currently forced to dicker over a mere 100k, when a responsible government — instead of paying lip service to the critical issues facing us — would gradually move the transportation system toward a more sustainable model. For the sake of our selves, each other, and our children, we should be out in the streets advocating for this every day. Change is uncomfortable. Waiting 10 minutes is nothing, and such trivialities warrant no consideration in comparison to the adjustments we must make if we want to be here in 100 years.

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  • Dabby May 1, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    Once again, “Attornatus Supposedblyus” chimes in….and while he may have “some” good points…….I tend to differ with some of it…

    Protest is the American way, isn’t it?

    Yet, it has been proven time and time again that most forms of protest only worsen the causes that they are meant to improve…

    This is a fact…

    And this has certainly been the case with each clogging protest to be pulled off in Portland….

    Keep your Clogging out of “MY” downtown, and in fact, Portland in general……..(yes, I said “my” downtown, and I meant it)

    It has for many years messed up my lively hood, and my job…..and the safe passage of others….

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  • peder horner May 1, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    The mechanism of this sort of “protest” is that of inconvenience- inconveniencing another person or persons so as to prove a point. These bikers willingly rode in such as way as to hold up the motorists behind them, declaring – “BEHOLD- WE ARE CYCLISTS.”

    All Portland motorists are aware of the fact that there are many cyclists in our beloved city. This stunt won’t make them more aware. In fact, it just may turn out to be rather counterproductive.

    I don’t know about everyone else on this board, but I can speak for myself (a year-round bike commuter) by saying that I don’t like to be inconvenienced. I’m overall a rather patient person. However, when I’ve got “x” minutes to get to work or am trying to get home to see my wife and children before bedtime, purposeful and inconsiderate actions of other people that hold me back from my destination are certainly going to bother me.

    I believe we’re better off working within the established democratic system to effect positive change that make the streets safer for all.

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  • Jonathon Severdia May 1, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    There’s another Jonath_o_n out there?! And he’s a complete asshole. I hope we never meet. In fact, everyone within a five mile radius hopes we never meet.

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  • benny p May 1, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    how about the Oregonian coming out with a big spread about the proper ways for cyclists and motorists to interact on roadways? Have we forgotten Oregon Regulatory Statute 814.430(2)(C) which states that Bicycles are allowed a full lane? Why don’t we try to proactively spread awareness of proper modes of road conduct, instead of antagonizing motorists and contributing to the road rage we all love to mock?

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  • Scott Mizée May 1, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    Thanks Benny. This came up in a discussion during the Bicycle Master Plan ride tonight. You made it a lot easier for me to find it:

    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:

    (a) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle that is proceeding in the same direction.

    (b) When preparing to execute a left turn.

    (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.

    (d) When operating within a city as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of a roadway that is designated to allow traffic to move in only one direction along the roadway. A bicycle that is operated under this paragraph is subject to the same requirements and exceptions when operating along the left curb or edge as are applicable when a bicycle is operating along the right curb or edge of the roadway.

    (e) When operating a bicycle alongside not more than one other bicycle as long as the bicycles are both being operated within a single lane and in a manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

    (f) When operating on a bicycle lane or bicycle path.

    (3) The offense described in this section, improper use of lanes by a bicycle, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §701; 1985 c.16 §339]

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  • Martha S. May 1, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    *bonks head against the most convenient wall* It’s one thing when one cyclist does something dumb; in my experience most people have the smarts to realize that that’s just one person, on a bike, doing something dumb. But a whole group? Then it becomes FAR easier to generalize and blame all cyclists for the actions of those few.

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  • Burr May 1, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    It was 20 or 50 cyclists. There are literally thousands or tens of thousands of people who identify as cyclists in Portland by now. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    The Oregonian thrives on cyclist-motorist controversy, and gets a substantial percentage of their advertising dollars from car and truck sales; nothing new there, and that’s why they will never publish an article promoting the sharing of the roads with cyclists by motorists.

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  • benny p May 1, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    “The Oregonian thrives on cyclist-motorist controversy, and gets a substantial percentage of their advertising dollars from car and truck sales; nothing new there, and that’s why they will never publish an article promoting the sharing of the roads with cyclists by motorists.”

    Perhaps an article promoting sharing the road generally? not just the ways motorists could share it with cyclists, but also vice versa. Sure, most cyclists know they are entitled to a full lane and that they are even allowed to slow down traffic. That said, however, most do not know the intricacies of that entitlement, especially those regarding when it applies and when it does not. Perhaps the Oregonian would be able to make such a message coincide with their agenda more easily?

    I think I can anticipate what some will say, and I agree. Of course the Oregonian cannot be trusted to make such a display of nonpartisan concern for public safety. What then? How can level-headed cyclists get the point across that we don’t want conflict, we merely want to share the road that rightfully belongs to all of us, if the most widely circulated newspaper in town won’t even support open discussion of this most contentious issue?

    I guess I’m just disappointed that the climate surrounding cyclist/motorist roadway interaction has become so tempestuous and regressive. [tongue in cheek] why can’t we all just get along, man? ;)

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  • N.I.K. May 2, 2007 at 12:02 am

    Not to stray off-topic, but…

    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.

    …which part of this accounts for taking a lane and moving at an okay speed relative to other vehicular traffic, encountering a stop light, stopping at the light, and then moving quite a bit more slowly than other traffic when moving through the intersection and accelerating?

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  • Qwendolyn May 2, 2007 at 8:32 am

    What people fail to realize is that Critical Mass was the front lines in the fight for bicycle rights.

    Now that the police have killed it, they are off to wreak havoc elsewhere. {Stings at Ladd’s Circle, for example}

    Critical Mass rider’s were on our side! They may have been more militant than some people are comfortable with, but it’s called diversity of tactics. You don’t condemn those who are fighting on your side.

    Plus, it’s a little hypocritical to block automobile traffic in the “people’s ride” in SE, but then turn around and disparage CM riders.

    So can-it with thinking you are sooo superior to critical mass riders.

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  • Brad May 2, 2007 at 8:51 am

    Another shining example of why I am growing tired of Portland. The “activists” in this town cannot create constructive dialogues or make solid alliances within local government to effect change. Nope. It is so much more rebellious and fun to pull a grandiose stunt on a day when the cops are looking for excuses to crack heads (May Day) and the icing on that moronic cake is that someone in the crowd always seems to have outstanding warrants.

    Great PR! Let it be reported in the lazy mainstream media that the vanguards of all things bike are n’er do wells with criminal records when the reality is that 90% of the cyclists in town are decent, hardworking, and respectable folk. Are we complicit? Yes. Because we tend to “celebrate” ANYTHING on two wheels and give it legitimacy. That said, who is the media going to cover as most representative of our community: Roger Geller pushing for better infrastructure and safety or a bunch of dilettantes corking traffic because they are pissed about something maybe/maybe not related to cycling?

    I am going to the hotbed of bike culture and uber-blue politics on vacation next month: Ohio. (Sarcasm alert!) Can someone explain to me how a Republican state in the midwest can get over 250 miles of Rails-To-Trails bikeways funded and built in the more conservative southern part of the state (and better quality than what we have)and Portland can’t even get $150K for a plan? I’m guessing the cycling community back there doesn’t put its malcontents and nutcases on display. Funny how pols like dealing with passionate but reasonable people, eh?

    Keep Portland weird! That’s obviously working out very well.

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  • marc May 2, 2007 at 10:26 am

    i saw them doing the same across broadway bridge. must have been 20-30 of them going very slow taking up both lanes. a car honked and they gave them a long sustained finger in the air. seemed like a punk thing to do. if they were looking to piss off a bunch of people, i think they succeeded. seemed like the bike commuters felt the same, myself included. guess i should just go back to california.

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  • Matt Picio May 2, 2007 at 10:56 am

    Burr said in comment 31:

    “The Oregonian … gets a substantial percentage of their advertising dollars from car and truck sales … and that’s why they will never publish an article promoting the sharing of the roads with cyclists by motorists.”

    I generally agree, but it depends on the state and the power of the automotive industry, and the bicycle industry. As oil production declines and gas prices rise, more people may look seriously at cycling, and that status may change.

    This would also be a good thing towards establishing shower and locker facilities downtown, and in other places in Portland.

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  • the secret porpoise May 2, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    just for the record,
    i would like to say that ABSOLUTELY NO ONE WAS GOING THE WRONG WAY DOWN MLK AT ANYTIME!!!!!!! this is false information. 11 people were issued two citations and two were arrested. the tickets were for: improper left turn, failure to halt for an emergency vehicle and impeding traffic. the oregonian has it all wrong, and the police were either lying or misinformed.

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  • Webfoot Flyer May 2, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    In an attempt to show that the pendulum swings both ways…I was on the Master Plan ride last night (a great ride, a great cause, and a great group.) I rode solo on my return back into downtown, crossing the Broadway Br., I was nearly rear-ended by a big group of adrenaline charged, well kitted, high carbon roadies. They decided that stopping at a RED-light for vehicle traffic turning onto Lovejoy was not necessary or required. They were close to home and familiar with the terrain (the Pearl), and they established they were “Entitled to the right of way.” This was not a band of “morons” but a well educated, well equipped University race team. They showed equal disrespect for me, a fellow cyclist, as well as the other road users. This group of riders is very different than the stereotyped C.M. rebels, yet their affect was equally disrupting to all forms of traffic. Let’s look at the whole picture of sharing the road, not just the easy–to-blame targets.

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  • tonyt April 15, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Jonathon #10,

    Seriously. If you are going to make such an absolute statement, it would behove you to learn some facts. Perhaps you should head on down to the Oregon Historical Society and ask to see the Portland bike map dating back to 1896.

    And just so you don’t miss the point, that would PREDATE cars.

    Perhaps also read about the efforts of cyclists to improve roads, again, drum roll please, BEFORE there were cars.

    The bliss brought about by your ignorance must be incapacitating.

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  • tonyt April 15, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    And for those of you who are interested in that map . . .

    http://fortunaerota.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/1-1896-bike-maplarge.jpg

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