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Despite rain, hundreds attend "We Are ALL Traffic" rally

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 18th, 2007 at 2:09 am

Joe Kurmaskie addresses the crowd under the Hawthorne Bridge.
Slideshow below
(All photos © Jonathan Maus)


Capping a tumultuous past month that was filled with tragedy, memorial rides, anger, frustration, meetings and press conferences, hundreds of people -- including Police Chief Rosie Sizer -- gathered under the Hawthorne Bridge Saturday for the "We Are ALL Traffic" rally.

Groups of people from all over the city -- including a large contingent from Vancouver, Washington -- first met at ghost bikes and other memorials before making their way under the bridge.

Rally - We are all traffic-21.jpg
A feeling shared by many.

With shelter from the rain, people chatted with friends and many held signs that read "We are not scofflaws", "Slow down, save a life", and "Better cops please". They also gave interviews to the assembled media before turning attention to a series of speakers who drove home the messages of this burgeoning community movement; respect and safer streets for all road users.

Joe Kurmaskie was the emcee of the event. In his introductory remarks, he expressed disappointment with how the Police Bureau has handled the tragic fatalities and serious injury collisions of the past month. He said, "It has broken my heart the way certain elements of the police force have not stepped up and done their job."

Kurmaskie then pointed out that due to the "misstatements" and "insensitivity" he wants the police to "look at transfers of positions of some people, such as Officer Kruger...I'm not making this an argument against the police, I just feel that we respect each other enough to ask for that."

The cheers from the crowd proved that Kurmaskie isn't the only one who wants Kruger to go. I also spotted one person holding a sign that said, "Fire Kruger".

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Siobhan Doyle at the rally.

Siobhan Doyle, whose become an unlikely crusader for safer streets, said she was "just trying to get to work" when she was hit on November 6th.

With her arm still in a sling she reminded the crowd that,

"We're all just trying to get where we're going...It doesn't matter what form of transportation we decide to use we should all be respected and we should all be respectful. I think we have an obligation to look out for not only ourselves, but for other humans."

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Susie Kubota shared
a powerful speech.

Next up to the microphone, and providing the most memorable moments of the event, was Tracey Sparling's aunt, Susie Kubota. Tracey Sparling was killed on October 22 when she and a cement truck collided on W. Burnside Street.

Kubota's speech, which she read from a prepared statement, was delivered with what Joe Kurmaskie called "eloquent outrage".

Her voice at times trembling with anger, Kubota's words were a forceful condemnation of insensitive police statements in the media following her niece's "premature" death. She spoke with such impassioned indignation that many in the crowd could not hold back tears.

You can read her speech here, or listen to my recording of it below:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

(Download MP3, 4m 37s)

After Kubota's heart-wrenching speech, a friend whispered to me that Police Chief Rosie Sizer was in the crowd (you can see her in this photo by Dat Nguyen). She was accompanied by her husband (whom the Chief told me is a daily bike commuter) and according to someone who saw her, she seemed "deeply moved" by what she had heard.

Rally - We are all traffic-4.jpg
The crowd.

It says a lot that the Chief attended this event. I think, in large part because of community activism like this rally, she has recognized the need for improvement in certain areas of Police Bureau policy and practice, and more importantly, I believe she has the compassion and willingness to come up with solutions to improve them.

Like Chief Sizer, I think we've all learned a lot in these past few weeks. I'm proud that our community kept our collective eyes-on-the-prize and came together in a positive way to share a constructive, yet firm message.

That message is one of respect. We not only demand it, but we're willing to work for it, and most importantly, we're willing to earn it. But we can't do it alone. We need the willing partnership of our elected officials, city bureaucrats, law enforcement professionals, and the entire community.

We've taken a few small steps, but there are giant leaps ahead...


View more images in the gallery or watch the slideshow below:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.


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Comments
  • Chris Heaps November 18, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Great piece, Jon. Sums up my sentiments of this incredible event perfectly. It made me proud to be a Portlander and proud to know the people who organized this event. We\'re going to change the status quo in Portland!

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  • peejay November 18, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Really glad that Rosie was there. Hope she saw my sign ;)

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  • Elly November 18, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Thanks for the great write-up, Jonathan, and for being instrumental in bringing the community together for this. None of the reporters believed us at first when we told them that no organization was sponsoring this, it just came organically from the community. That was only possible because of bikeportland.

    I\'m so glad you were able to post the audio of Susie Kubota\'s speech. The written text is very affecting, but doesn\'t come close to capturing the power and anger in what she said.

    Great leaps ahead as you say -- where do we start? I\'ve heard a dizzying array of ideas in the last week, and can\'t wait to see what happens. We really are in the midst of a major cultural renaissance in Portland, and bicycling looks like it\'s playing a huge part in that...if we work hard for it.

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  • Metal Cowboy November 18, 2007 at 10:44 am

    A great first step! Folks I\'m staying within Redding on the road trip down to thanksgiving in
    Bay Area had already hear about the rally rfom their local bike shop. We really are the epicenter for this movement - People in other communities are looking to us for innovation and solutions. We have ideas to keep this movement going. Keep the heat on, billboards, cyclist defense funds, wanted posters, rallies in front of Portland corporations to as for funding ped/cyclist/driver education, infrastruture and enforcement. Back at it after the holidays. Thank you to everyone who came out, this is just a start but it\'s a good onne. Excellent summary of the events Jon. One regret is that I didn\'t give Ktis Schamf and OBRA a proper shout out at the rally. They are key players in the organizing and behind the scenes. We can do this with them.
    Cheers,
    Joe Metal Cowboy Kurmaskie

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  • Schrauf November 18, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Great job and big thanks to Elly, Joe and everyone else who made this happen and attended the event.

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  • Joe November 18, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Thanks to all for making this happen.
    together we as people can make a diffrence i feel..

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  • Matt Picio November 18, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Thanks, Jonathan for covering this. Thanks Siobhan, Elly, Joe, Susie and others who I\'m forgetting for speaking to us and the press, and motivating us to be more. Thanks to everyone for attending. What a great community to be a part of!

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  • Tasha November 18, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    I was so happy to see so many people braving the rain and coming out for this. My husband and I were SOAKED, but it was well worth it and it was very powerful to hear Tracey\'s aunt speak and amazingly brave of Siobhan to come out as well. Thanks to all for all of your hard work and for bringing us all together. It was also a nice end for the sun to come out for the ride home!

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  • rixtir November 18, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    I\'m in awe of everybody who came together for this, AND it was good to finally meet some of the people behind the names.

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  • Becky November 18, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    I looked at the Merc and Ogn coverage as well. Both have titles about bicyclists rallying. I hope the We Are All Traffic message continues to be used to get the point across that this isn\'t just about cyclists!

    My shoes are almost dry...

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  • John November 18, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Great to hear about the Chief of Police in attendance! It\'s one thing to attend public meetings and be involved in the public process, but when local representatives start attending *our* meetings, now that\'s encouraging.

    And one officer in uniform stopped by, standing right next to me, to listen for a little bit... Reacting positively to Siobhan\'s speech! He seemed to have an \"Oh yeah, I\'m supposed to be working\" moment and left shortly after that, but it was great to see evidence of common concerns between our different backgrounds.

    Thank you to everyone involved for working to provide a common outlet towards positively addressing our community\'s long standing problems.

    What\'s next?

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  • erin g. November 18, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    First, I commend Elly, Jonathan, Joe, Kris Schamp, the guest speakers, reporters, and EVERYONE who attended the press conference and rally, enduring a steady downpour of cold rain. This was a history-making weekend for our community.

    Here are excerpts from an email I sent to core organizers this morning. I\'d like others to be aware of how certain reporters and news outlets went the extra mile to understand our points of motivation, cover our story, and ensure that vital messages were delivered loud and clear to the greater public:

    -Amy Ruiz, news editor of the Portland Mercury, was the first to meet me at Brett Jarolimek’s memorial site yesterday. We stood under the overpass in a torrential downpour and talked. She and her videographer did a superb job of covering our story.

    - KGW’s Amy Troy has been following bike community news, and last week she indicated that KGW’s team would take interest in our rally. Her efforts in our favor had a positive outcome.

    http://www.kgw.com/video/video-index.html?nvid=194014

    -Allan Brettman of The Oregonian served as the \'caboose\' with me on the ride from Brett’s memorial site to the rally downtown. An avid cyclist, he’s participated in Cycle Oregon three times. He was sensitive toward certain attendees who were very close with Brett, who are continually coping with the reality of losing their best friend. Allan was there- with us- in the driving rain, going beyond the extra mile (literally) to understand our story and perspective. Transportation reporter, Dylan Rivera, also deserves a huge \'thank you,\' as he stood in the rain on Friday to listen to each press conference speaker and resultantly provided pre-event coverage online.

    When I first got involved with this movement/ coalition, one of my strongest feelings was toward the media’s profound role in perpetuating tension between motorists and cyclists. Like many, I felt that news outlets should be held to the responsibility of deescalating rather than fueling dangerous conflicting attitudes that affect us all. Well, I am going to go out on a limb and say that signs of a paradigm shift of sorts occurred in the aftermath of our “We are ALL Traffic” rally in the way in which our news is covered. I feel that the above instances of media coverage humanize our messages and deliver them strongly and to viewers and readers, rather than twisting our messages or focusing on obscure notes that could be made controversial for sensationalisms’ sake. I feel that these pieces do some long-needed justice to those who we\'ve tragically lost, and those who our city and media should strive to protect (EVERYONE).

    This is the outcome of working as a unified team with shared goals. This is the outcome of being strategic, targeted, and hardworking. This is the outcome of what happens when people come together under a common vision, applying powerful thoughts, emotions, and outrage in a proactive, forward-moving direction. Our movement has a long way to go, but I feel that the events that happened this weekend, and the media coverage that ensued, were a monumental step in the right direction.

    Let’s not forget that the shift in news coverage began long before the mass media began to show signs of change. Certain web-based news outlets have given us a place to turn when the mass/mainstream media failed to cover news and events that we care about in a way that we feel good about:

    - The fabulous Dan Kaufman of CrankMyChain.com has uploaded his video of the “We are ALL Traffic” press conference.

    -And last but not least, let’s not forget to thank our most supportive journalist/media outlet/troop-rouser of all. In my opinion, Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org deserves some sort of award for how tirelessly he has worked to deliver the news that effects us all, to create an online forum that engages us, and to provide a point of convergence for people like us who care enough about what is happening to organize and take action. Jonathan, my still-waterlogged hat goes off to you, sir. Words cannot express my gratitude for all that you do.

    What fantastic effort and support, everyone. Now, let\'s keep working hard so that we can keep moving forward.

    Viva...

    Erin Greeson

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  • BURR November 18, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    way to go Portland!

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  • Schrauf November 18, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    The KGW video clip is really good. And it appears it was the lead story at 11 PM Saturday. Wow.

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  • Ron November 18, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    Schrauf: yes, the piece ran at the top of the news at 11pm, and I agree was very good.

    Which is great, because the piece they ran at the top of the 6:30pm news that day was really awful. They definitely made up for that disaster.

    Cheers

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  • Dan Kaufman November 18, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    Here is the edited CrankMyChain! video from the Friday\'s press confernence and a couple clips from Saturday\'s rally.

    http://www.crankmychain.com/2007/11/transportation-equality-press.html

    Over one-hundred folks viewed each event on the live internet stream.

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  • DT November 18, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    I was at the rally, riding from North Portland to Interstate and Greeley to meet the group that assembled there, and from there rode to the rally. Yes, I was soaked from the rain. But the rally was important to me, and so my husband and I went anyway, and rode our bikes to get there.

    You see, there\'s been a lot of talking lately. A lot of finger pointing. A lot of blame. A lot of Us versus Them. But the We Are All Traffic rally represented a way to change the dialog, a way to take the helplessness that a lot of us feel and turn it into action.

    At the absolute heart of this issue, regardless of the \"side\" you are on, is that we all just want to get where we are going. In one piece.

    The rally was a way to try to cross the divide between modes of transportation and to encourage us to be respectful and patient because we are not just our bikes, or our cars, or our feet - we are PEOPLE. And we all just want to get where we are going.

    The rally got me back on my bike, after being afraid to ride for the last month from watching not only the collisions, but the fallout from those collisions. I want to thank the organizers of the rally for this.

    May today\'s rally be only the beginning of a shift in the mindset of ALL people as they move around town. Patience. Respect. No one left their house this morning wanting the police to call their family.

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  • aisling November 18, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    wow, what a great portland day that was! rain, sun, and lots and lots of bikes under one of our beautiful bridges! i arrived on bike, soaking wet, of course, to support my sister and all the other speakers and riders. our mom was there (as she came from the east coast to help with siobhan\'s new one-armed life) and we are fortunate enough that she didn\'t have to wear a black arm band that day. i\'m sure she was excited to participate in the rally knowing that all three of her girls bike regularly and are faced with all the dangers that accompany this two-wheeled lifestyle. thanks to susie for her moving and well-read speech. i admire her strength and ability to speak her thoughts so eloquently and compassionatly. i also really appreciated the positive, optimistic tone of the rally. movements are successful with lots of energy, a motivation for change and an understanding of what it takes to affect change.
    i think the stance of all inclusive, equal sharing of the road is definitely the way to go...GREAT JOB PEOPLE!
    thanks again from the doyle family to all the people that helped move this action along...we will be with you all the way!

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  • hawthorne November 19, 2007 at 12:49 am

    Not to rain on the parade of good work...but any word on the cyclist shot tonight? any connection to the fact that he was a cyclist?

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  • aah November 19, 2007 at 10:57 am
  • Bjorn November 19, 2007 at 11:04 am

    #19 This article from the Oregonian was listed in the Bikes in the Media section:

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2007/11/bike_rider_shot_and_seriously.html

    Sounds like his sister was killed Saturday morning.

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  • Maria(in pink) November 19, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Hi, I\'m with the VBC and we rode to Marine & 43rd after the rally to look at the spot where our co-member and friend Bob was hit and seriously injured in October. It\'s a marked cross walk with motion sensors that make the light flash yellow when it senses peds/bikes. Neighboring crosswalks constantly flash yellow. How can we get the city to make it flash red instead? After all, it only flashes when there\'s definitely someone in the street!

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  • bahueh November 19, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    to #19...doesn\'t sound like it had anything to do with the fact this man was a \"cyclist\"...

    more resembles a family dispute/domestic violence...probably related to drugs, as a large proportion of shootings are.

    don\'t put away your bike quite yet...

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  • a.O November 19, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    peejay, that was you holding the \"Fire Kruger\" sign? I wish I\'d known. You need to carry that thing next time we try to meet up at the Lab.

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  • Jess November 19, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    Thanks to all who helped put this together! I feel so honored to live in such a city, where community comes together over such an important issue, especially when it\'s rainy and cold!

    bikes and bikers are cool.

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  • Pete November 19, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    What a great event. Not rain, not even my flat tire, detracted from the warmth of everyone\'s solidarity. The message was right on target--we\'re all traffic.

    Thanks Elly, Joe, Jonathan, and others I don\'t know for organizing, publicizing, and running the event. Thanks to Susie and Siobahn for your heartfelt and heartwrenching remarks. Thanks to the young man who spoke--the future of cycling.

    Thanks aisling, DT, and erin G for your very positive comments.

    And, Rosie, thank you, too, for attending. It meant a lot to have you there.

    Let\'s keep it going.

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  • John January 5, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    And in the spirit of \"Let\'s keep it going\"...

    What\'s next?

    It\'s January. Seven weeks later. Is anything in the works?

    Does anyone ever click on the \"Recent Comments\" bar?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

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