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Exclusive: TriMet bus operator placed on administrative leave following blog post

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 22nd, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Screen grab from Christensen's
blog post (before it was taken down).

TriMet has placed a bus operator on administrative leave after they determined a blog post about an interaction with a man on a bicycle that was published to the operator's personal blog earlier today was inappropriate. TriMet has also referred the issue to the police and the District Attorney's office.

TriMet bus operator Dan Christensen -- a man known for his humor and writing talents who was just named one of Portland's 'Best People' by the Willamette Week -- posted a story to his "TriMet Confidential" blog earlier today titled, "PORTLAND! KILL THIS BICYCLIST!"

"Once we learned of this post, we immediately placed the operator on administrative leave. It is a very serious matter. We are also referring this to the police and DA."
-- Mary Fetsch, TriMet

The post -- which was just removed by Christensen a few minutes ago but can still be viewed here -- was made after he says he had a harrowing interaction with a man on a bike on SE Hawthorne Blvd. The post also included a photograph of the man riding the bike which was taken by one of Christensen's passengers. I was able to read the post before it was taken down. It was clearly labeled as a venting of Christensen's personal feelings, but the wording of the title and the tone and words of the actual post created an obvious problem for TriMet -- especially coming off the blog-related issues raised by bus operator Al Marguiles last month.

In addition, this blog post made it difficult for the community to understand how exactly Christensen felt about other people riding bicycles (many people read the post after it was sent around via Twitter). Was he just letting off some steam? Or was this window into his personal feelings an imminent threat to public safety?

After learning about the post from a reader, I emailed the link to TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch to see if she had a response. Here's what she sent back:

"Once we learned of this post, we immediately placed the operator on administrative leave. It is a very serious matter. We are also referring this to the police and DA."

According to Christensen's account, the interaction happened about a month ago on SE Hawthorne between SE 20th and 40th. (There's no bike lane on this portion of the street, traffic volumes and speeds are high, and there's on-street car parking. It's also just a few blocks from where a now infamous bus/bike interaction occurred just last month). He wrote, "I experienced a bicycled [sic] so out of control and dangerous it undid every atom of good feeling I have towards bicyclist."

Even weeks after the incident, Christensen wrote that, "just thinking of that day makes my heart race and my face flush with rage."

Here are the final two paragraphs of the post:

Attention Fool: When you interacted with my bus you put your life in my hands. At that time I took extreme measures to avoid crushing you despite your best effort to get under my tires. However as a holder of your life I wish to exercise that option now that I’m not behind the wheel. Thank you for putting your faith and trust in my skill, perception and reaction time however I think I’m going to now exercise your life in my hands options and have you killed. Thank you for putting your trust in my training and my willingness to throw people around my bus by violently breaking. However as a holder of your life I think now after long hours of contemplation I shall exercise the death option.

In closing I would like to say that though I can only keep my fingers crossed and hope that someone out there takes me up on my plea, I will be lucky and blessed if someone does. This I can assure you, People often get what’s coming to them, when you get what’s coming to you as a result of your carelessness I will rejoice as should every bicyclist you shame and motor vehicle operator you ever encountered.

It's not clear what exactly led to the incident Christensen wrote about, but it apparently left him physically trembling and very shaken up unlike anything he's every experienced in his driving career. From the post, the man on the bike showed a wanton disregard for his own or anyone else's safety as he rode down Hawthorne. Christensen wrote about seeing, "The most dangerous light threatening situation of my life."

Before removing the post entirely, Christensen published an update to try and clarify where he was coming from. "Just so you know, I'm not against bikes. Love em. Own one..." he writes. "This rage is at one person and everyones [sic] mission should be to stop him not matter what you ride, drive, hop or sail." Christensen feels like the man's riding was so dangerous that he is "a blight on all bicyclist, he is destroying what you are working so hard to build."

It was clear to me that Christensen's blog post was more an emotional and literary exercise than a sincere proclamation of anger -- but that's due in part because I know him. I know he's a talented writer and that he's often candid about his experiences while operating his bus (you might remember him from back in 2008 when he reached out to the community on the Rose Quarter Transit Center bikeway project). However, not everyone is aware of that context and as we've explored countless times on this site, people are understandably very sensitive about the emotions that can lead to road rage and they need to be taken very seriously, especially when the person expressing the feelings operates a large vehicle and is under the employ of an agency like TriMet.

Given that TriMet is still recovering from the tragic collision in downtown Portland back in April that claimed the life of two people who were walking in a crosswalk and that they've just announced new, more stringent safety policies after new GM Neil McFarlane said safety is the agency's highest priority, it's not surprising they erred on the side of swift action with Christensen.

This is an unfortunate situation all around and should serve as a reminder that our behavior out on the roads -- from both sides of the windshield -- can have a huge impact on others.

UPDATE: Christensen has published a thoughtful "Mea Culpa" about his controversial post.

UPDATE: Read the original post in its entirety here.

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Comments
  • Amos July 22, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Disappointing to say the least. I have enjoyed Dan's writing in the past and I know that he is a talented and no-b.s. guy, but he made a huge mistake here, and he has lost my respect.

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  • Samuel John Klein July 22, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    It's a shame that this is happening to Dan. I've read his blog for a while and he's usually a passionate and happy ... if not entirely ready-for-prime-time ... sort of guy.

    Was his behavior intemperate? Yes. Was it justified? Depends on your situation. TriMet drivers I've known always take the fact that they drive a huge, meat-crushing machine astoundingly seriously, and if someone in front of them ... car driver, bike rider, or pedestrian, does something thoughtless, they'll curse and swear sometimes, but that's from panic and fear of being the driver that ends someone's life on the street, when they didn't have to.

    When lives are on the line, not everyone's going to act pretty and polite and nice. That's life. That's people.

    Perhaps someone at TriMet should have had a little chat with him about it.

    But suspension and reporting to the DA? That's like nuking him from orbit.

    TriMet drivers have enough to worry about. Since I bike to work regularly now and depend on TriMet to help me get over the rough spots until I'm back in shape, I see the driver as a partner, not an adversary, and I do everything I can to make it easy on them to help me get to where I'm going.

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  • Matthew July 22, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Good for TriMet.

    This is beside the point, but I'm suprised to see Mr. Christensen referred to as a "talented writer." I just have a few tweets and one rage-fueled blog post to go by, but his writing struck me as being quite poor, frankly.

    (That was hardly the most troubling part of his wildly innaproppriate post -- my favorite part had to be where he compared people who ride bikes to Nazis -- but since you mentioned it twice in your article, I had to comment)

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  • Kim July 22, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    I felt safer knowing Dan was on the road and wish more TriMet drivers were like him. I'd also feel safer if this cyclist wasn't on the road.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Matthew,

    I think your perception of Dan's writing shouldn't be based on this blog post. It was very hard for him to write and it was more a pouring-out-your-guts type of thing.

    Kim,

    That's a great comment. I agree... he is very likable and careful driver. This was just a very challenging and strange situation for Dan and TriMet.

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  • BURR July 22, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    1. Traffic on the section of Hawthorne isn't supposed to be fast - the speed limit is 25 MPH. However, I've never seen any enforcement of this speed limit.

    2. Cyclists are allowed to take the lane on this section of Hawthorne, the lanes are too narrow to share, ORS 814.430(2)(c).

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  • Esther July 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Fundamentally, this comes down to something Dooce.com (one of the most famous blogs) learned in 2002 and still gets interviews about- you can get fired for stuff you write on your blog about your employer or place of employment. When that includes incitements towards bodily harm of an individual, well, all bets are off.

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  • Felix July 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Thanks for being balanced about this, and giving him the benefit of the doubt. He scares me no end--so angry that he's still shaking weeks later, and still driving a very large bus, and risking his job by publicly posting about his anger online--but you know him, so I will try to modify my own anger at his calling for a hit on this cyclist. No one, no matter how reckless, deserves to be killed or attacked.

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  • moodymeow July 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    First, it was obvious that he was writing from the perspective of a frustrated driver - not calling on all Portland residents to kill this moron. Second, It was smarter for him to write about his feelings rather than squish the guy into the pavement.

    We were safer on the roads when Mr. Christensen drove, regardless of his anger towards one cyclist.

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  • Matthew July 22, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Jonathan,

    Fair enough. It was kind of a snarky thing for me to say, anyway.

    Incidentally, I'm super curious to find out what the heck this guy on the bike did!

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  • what about day? July 22, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Not to condone the post, but it made me wonder is Sandi Day back driving a bus? I hope that Tri-met isn't going to be punishing drivers more severely for after the fact road rage on the internet than they are for actual negligence/murder...

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  • 151 July 22, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I'm also interested in the details of their traffic interaction. If you can dig up any info, that would be great.

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  • Nipple July 22, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    @Kim

    "I'd also feel safer if this cyclist wasn't on the road."

    Why? I read the whole blog post before it was removed. I couldn't tell you what the cyclist did.

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  • rupert_pupkin July 22, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    @Matthew I agree.

    I've enjoyed Dan's blog for a long time, largely because it offers window into the experiences of a Tri-Met driver. I've been more careful when interacting with buses while on both bike and in a car because of some of the stories he has told. I wish I knew what this guy did to piss him off so much.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 22, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Dan's post didn't really go into detail about the incident itself. Even so, I just added some more quotes from it to the story. From what I can gather, it was a classic daredevil-type rider who swerved around cars and cheated lights, etc... while hauling up Hawthorne and with Dan's bus right behind him.

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  • Jason July 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Why anyone would ride down Hawthorne when Lincoln and Salmon are so close is beyond me. Why deal with the vehicles, noise, air pollution and danger when you could ride on one of the most pleasant bike routes in all of Portland? It just irritates me to no end whenever I see someone riding on Hawthorne/Burnside. The airplane analogy would be like voluntarily passing up a seat in first class so you could take a middle seat in the last row between a newborn baby and an obese person.

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  • Kim July 22, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    @Nipple, I been reading Dan's blog and tweets from quite some time and have found him to be very fair, balanced and kind. When he says "I experienced a bicycled so out of control and dangerous" and "I took extreme measures to avoid crushing you despite your best effort to get under my tires" and that he had to "throw people around my bus by violently breaking" I believe that is the truth, and if so, that the cyclist is a danger to others.

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  • DP July 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Sad to hear, but not a surprise.

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  • KWW July 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    If I read between the lines correctly, Mr. Christensen has a time machine, and he will go back in time to an alternate reality and run down the bicyclist.

    This is 12 monkeys stuff at its finest.

    I also a worried that he will also go back in time to give me a wedgie...

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  • Brewcaster July 22, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    littlepackage: @Dan_Christensen if someone mistakes me for that cyclist and kills me, you'll have to answer to my mother. #WTF @trimet #trimet #pdx

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  • Roma July 22, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    I know we're 'allowed' to take the lane, but I never understand why people ride down Belmont/Hawthorne. I feel much safer and more relaxed to cruise over and ride on Salmon or Lincoln/Harrison.

    In my opinion, a lot of cyclists choose to ride 10mph down major streets so they can purposely antagonize motorists.

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  • Felix July 22, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    I think it should be pointed out that the bus driver's post was not an off the cuff, heat of the moment posting. He clearly says he's been thinking about this for weeks and months.

    "About a month or so ago I experienced a bicycled so out of control and dangerous it undid every atom of good feeling I have towards bicyclist.

    I thought I would write a blow by blow exposure of what this..

    First off I have to stop here and breath deep to let the rage subside....

    See even after months just thinking of that day makes my heart race and my face flush with rage."

    He then calls for Portland drivers, criminals, and other cyclists to kill the cyclist.

    "If you are a murderer, drug dealer, violent criminal or your your life is empty and you are at a dead end, don’t think of suicide when you can do one last act that will have a lasting positive effect on our city. KILL THIS BICYCLIST. Don’t throw your life away for no reason. Fill your empty heart up with a righteous cause and use your violent and homicidal tendencies for the good of mankind, Portland and the World. Then you can kill your self with a smile on your face having done one last good act."

    He doesn't say in the lengthy post exactly what the cyclist did, except: "In all the years I been driving with TriMet and on my own I have never seen anyone so freaking dangerous who was not killed or injured."

    When someone rants like this after weeks of stewing in anger, I don't take it as just blowing off steam. I absolutely think suspension is the right course of action.

    I've read that being a bus driver is one of the most stressful jobs around, because they constantly must provide a good, safe, punctual service, even though they have no control over their working conditions, including all sort of idiots on the road. Time for this driver to get some help with handling stress.

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  • Eric G July 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    This is ridiculous and frustrating.

    I've met Dan and have read his blog off and on for years. He's one of the good guys.

    But today, I read the post in question and cringed - there was no way this was going to end well. Dan's a passionate guy and it's clear that this cyclist's behavior seriously got under his skin, but nobody that knows Dan or has ever read his blog would believe that he was seriously advocating for the guy's death. The hyperbole might have been harder to make out than usual, but I don't have any doubt that hyperbole is what is was, just Dan trying to make a very emotional point.

    On the other hand, there's no way that anybody - Trimet driver, great author, doesn't matter who you are - can write a blog post entitled "KILL THIS BICYCLIST!" and not expect some degree of backlash. Especially not in this town, not with the ever-increasing acrimony between cyclists and drivers and with Trimet still reeling from recent events with Al and Sandy.

    I wish Dan all the best and hope to see him driving again soon - the last thing this conflict needs is another casualty (literally or figuratively).

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  • mikeybikey July 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I think that unfortunate events like this should serve as the canary in the coal mine for our bicycle infrastructure. These types of things are examples of conflict in a space that is painfully inadequate for the increasing presence of bicycles. I love the bicycle boulevards. The new sharrows everywhere are great and NE Going Street is great, but the lesson coming from the cities ahead of Portland is that you have to pay attention to the major streets too and Dan's encounter and his reaction should remind us of that. It is time to get aggressive and start paying attention while the conflicts are still at the level of people venting. I wish Dan could have expressed his feelings in a way that made this notion more apparent, did not startle so many of us in the cycling community, and did not put his job in jeopardy.

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  • Marcus Griffith July 22, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    "However as a holder of your life I think now after long hours of contemplation I shall exercise the death option."

    Maybe it doesn't meet the threshold for criminal conduct, but it should send ripples down anyone's spine.

    Oh, and thats PAID administrative leave.Make a threat, get paid time off, thats a lot like being rewarded.

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  • Brad July 22, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Just because you have freedom of speech doesn't mean that you need to always exercise it.

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  • Lance P. July 22, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Jason, People ride on both Hawthorne and Burnside because that is where most shops are. I typically take side streets until i'm close but to get to most shops you need to take the main road for at least 1/2 block to get to your destination.

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  • Caroline July 22, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    I was very disappointed in Christensen's choice to publish those poorly spelled private thoughts on his blog, and to have suffered paranoia on the bike all afternoon after reading it.

    Was someone going to mow me down because I might look like that cyclist in Christensen's photograph?

    It just isn't funny. Sometimes Christensen is funny (and I've followed his Twitter for well over a year now) but today he was not funny.

    I wasn't a bus driver, but I was a R.N. in hospitals for a long time, and had quite a few situations that made me shake, scared and furious. But nothing could have made me risk my job by blogging about it. Tremendous mistake, Mr. Christensen!

    Crime of passion!

    I think Tri-Met has done the right thing today. It's a really harsh reality for Christensen, but he has to know that he can't just say "KILL SO-AND-SO" without consequence. Requesting that someone be killed is a really serious thing!!! You never know when someone might actually kill someone for you!

    And, he really has 18,000+ followers on Twitter? Still?

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  • nuovorecord July 22, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I don't care what the cyclist was doing, it doesn't warrant Dan's response. This guy needs to find employment elsewhere. He has no business driving a public transit vehicle or being a public servant.

    Disgusting.

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  • e July 22, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Wow. Thank you TriMet for getting this guy out from the behind the wheel of a BUS!! I hope he never drives another one again.

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  • Psychoke July 22, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Not sure this has come up, but people do drugs, people are schizophrenic, people do things that defy explanation. This happened when, and he's still shaken up by it? Call the police on the spot: one option. Get the bike rider off the street. Posting a piece like this is just inexcuseable, sorry. Parody can be excused if the "writer" is well known for it and it doesn't reflect on an employer, two things that don't apply to Dan.

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  • Marcus Griffith July 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Like Al Margulies's blog, Dan Christensen's blog has bizarre hints of racism.

    "..It’s been a while since America has had a good villain. We had Native Americans, Nazi’s, Japs, Communist and to a lesser extent Canadians..."

    -How Trimet Lost Tens of Millions.
    http://danbusdriverman.blogspot.com/

    So, why exactly is Dan Christensen using the racial slur "Japs"? Let's not forget that one of the Portland was a tragic home to such a camp (thats what the Expo memorial right off the max line is referencing).

    *** portion of comment deleted ***

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  • fuzzyjay July 22, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    I have enjoyed reading Dan's blog for many months. I think he went way too far on this blog entry, but as someone already said, he's one of the good guys. I have much more respect and understanding of his job since I started to read his blog.

    I think administrative leave was appropriate, but I hope he gets back on the job soon and continues to write about it.

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  • BURR July 22, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I guess summer is here....

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  • Vance Longwell July 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    I really don't understand what anybody would see in Christensen. I'm much more interested to learn whether or not what he wrote is protected speech. In my opinion, there's merit in the argument that a web-log shares more similarities with the notion of a, "town square", than differences. Additionally, Christensen's diatribe was clearly a fantasy. He's not conspiring, or premeditating. He's making his death wish in a context that cannot exist, in that he is speaking to a past event. It's obviously provocative, effectively made so in what is clearly just a wish, that he'd made a different choice. He's not engineering a murder, he's writing an essay.

    What about the pamphleteering movement of the 18th century? The printing-press played a crucial role in our thing, man. Nah, I think that blogs should be protected, whether they are not, and Christensen ought not be on the hook.

    It's not a matter of taste, it's a matter of law, or something like that. At the very least, I'm taking it upon myself to allow Christensen his voice. 'Cause it's like America and shit.

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  • KWW July 22, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    yep, he has a time machine, wedgie...

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  • Ian Hopper July 22, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    I too have been reading Dan's twitter posts for at least a year, and he routinely makes me laugh. I was rather alarmed to read today's post on his blog after everything blew up on Twitter. I don't think Dan would ever try to run someone down, but the poor choice he made in publishing the blog may have cost him his job for good. He knew the consequences of doing it, he even mentioned it in the blog entry. Dan, if you are reading this, I hope that you haven't lost your job, but please, if you're feeling murderous rage and that level of anger while you're driving, it's time for a break my friend. Seek counseling, go on a yoga retreat, whatever it takes. I also thought it would have been instructive to have described in detail what the cyclist in question did... most of us are left wondering how bad it really was to shake you up like it did. Be well Dan, may you find some peace when this is all over with.

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  • Christian July 22, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    I'm tired of the jerks out there that turn motorists against cyclists. They're going to get the rest of us killed.

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  • ILikeYourNewHaircut July 22, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    I read his blog. Dan has always seemed funny and nice, this is way out of character.

    He would have been better off saying "Some cyclists ride like assholes on Hawthorne" and I would have agreed with him. There's no need to call someone out with a photograph. I still like you Dan, but please acknowledge that a mistake was made.

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  • Sara July 22, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Dan is a great and safe driver. Perhaps his blog post should have waited for a 2nd or 3rd edit before posting rather than the obvious raw emotion. Hopefully he will be back in the driver seat very shortly. TriMet needs more operators that care as much as Mr. Christensen.

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  • BURR July 22, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    so is Dan on 'adminstrative leave' with or without pay?

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  • Alex.F July 22, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Seems strange that there is any defense for Dan or his words. It was a violent tirade with the sole purpose of inciting death on another human who had bothered him. Psycho rants that fuel the fire that dangers us all is not what "good guys" do.

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  • shirtsoff July 22, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Dan's feelings aside, what did the cyclist do that threatened his life and made a reckless impression on others? I'm curious. Sometimes I ride on Hawthorne, because it has a passing lane (two lanes in each direction) and bike about three feet over from the edge of the cars while maintaining my trajectory as advised by P-BOT. I tend to cycle around 20-26 MPH so it may impede some traffic but with the passing lane, it shouldn't be an issue. I'm curious what this cyclist was doing that made his presence seemingly unbearable so that I may avoid doing so myself.

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  • sparewheel July 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    "It is time to get aggressive and start paying attention while the conflicts are still at the level of people venting."

    Its not just people venting. Bicyclists are becoming an important freeper/wingnut wedge issue.

    The question is how to fight back without alienating the local majority that supports us.

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  • Red Five July 22, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    This cyclist was clearly trying to instigate a situation.

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  • Michael M. July 22, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Hmm, I wonder if this was the same guy I saw headed west on NE Couch, just after the new couplet starts. He bombed through motor traffic, riding on the white median line, then cut right in front of a car, zoomed in front of me (I was riding down Couch on the right, like a normal person), came to a stop at a red light, which he then proceeded to run when he determined he had the opportunity to get through the intersection.

    Just another day in Portland. I can understand how Mr. Christensen feels.

    The really sad part was that after this bozo decided to run the light, another cyclist, already waiting at the intersection, whom he had cut in front of, decided to proceed through the intersection too. Then the driver of the first car at the light started to accelerate, into the crosswalk, then stopped abruptly when he realized the light was still red, and backed up to his original position. That's another thing these renegade riders never consider -- other vehicle operators often take visual cues from the behavior of the rest of us on the road. You see somebody go, and your first instinct is "It must be okay to go." Of course, you should always double-check, you should always look at the light (and at crossing traffic) before you proceed into an intersection, but it doesn't always work that way. There's a reason why "safe" closely correlates with "predictable." Happily, this driver caught himself before he did himself or anyone else harm.

    But I've little doubt the jerk on the bike will do himself or others harm sometime soon. I also have little doubt we can kiss the Bike Master Plan goodbye if we don't figure out how to get this kind of behavior under control.

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  • Ignatz July 22, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    The blog post was juvenile but I understand the anger. What's infuriating about irresponsible cyclists is that they endanger so many others, not just themselves. I cross the Hawthorne Bridge into town every day and often a cyclist will swerve into/around cars, forcing them to brake suddenly and endanger cyclists behind them.

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  • are July 22, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    yeah, he was trying to instigate his bike from point A to point B.

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  • trail user July 22, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    'Kill' is such a harsh word. 'Maim' would have sufficed.

    Poor guy, probably didn't realize running over a cyclist is best done accidentally, not overtly.

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  • tonyt July 22, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    I find it very odd that Mr. Christensen was "provoked" to such a level of hostility, to the point of wishing others to KILL a perfect stranger, yet Mr. Christensen couldn't find it in himself to explain exactly what it was that the cyclist did.

    It seems likely that Mr. Christensen knew that what the cyclist did did not in fact match the rage he/she inspired.

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  • fro July 22, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Seems to me the bicyclist was being a jerk as well as Mr. Christensen.

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  • Max Rockbin July 22, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    I agree with the people who pointed out that SE Lincoln is a great bike street just two blocks away. Hawthorne is dangerous not just for bikes but the cars (and buses) that have no space to avoid them. If great bike streets are available, it may not be illegal to use a street like Hawthorne, but it is wrong. I ride Lincoln all the time and it boggles that anyone would choose Hawthorne instead.

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  • are July 22, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    what can it possibly mean to say that a motorist "has no space" to avoid a cyclist? how about the space you are already in? y'know, behind the cyclist, waiting for an opportunity to pass safely. people "tired of" this and "tired of" that. what i am tired of is people always saying "why don't you take some other road?" hey, why don't _you_ take some other road? hawthorne gets me where i am going. it's two lanes in each direction, and it's posted freaking thirty. what is the matter with people?

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  • Caroline July 22, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    are #49: well-spoken. thank you!

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  • kim July 22, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    @ Are - Unless they zip into the space your vehicle is about to occupy, with no chance on your part to alter that location.

    @Alex.F
    "the sole purpose of inciting death on another human"? I don't think it actually was the purpose at all. Read the rest of his blog posts.

    One day I called my parents and my Dad answered. I said "How are you?" and he said "I'm going to have to leave your Mother." I said "Why" (knowing he was not serious) and he said "She is watching fishing on TV." Now there was never a thought in anyone's mind that my parents were going to end their deliriously happy almost 50 year marriage because my Mom watched fishing. Even though that is what my Dad said. I am pretty sure he has also told me "I am going to have to kill your sister" on more than one occasion, but I can assure you, he will NOT be killing her. He has never had to say anything like that about me though. I promise.

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  • Marcus Griffith July 22, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    From my understanding, the Trimet's new Safety Task Force meets tomorrow for the first time (8? representatives from difference agencies, groups).

    I hope bus driver road rage is on their agenda.

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  • drew July 23, 2010 at 12:04 am

    I always give erratic road users plenty of room. Who knows what's wrong with them. Could be medical or psychiatric problem.

    I question the skill of a bus driver that can't manage such a situation. Mental stability comes into question considering those rants. Please don't let this guy drive a bus again.

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  • resopmok July 23, 2010 at 1:24 am

    There are plenty of good reasons to be riding on Hawthorne, including the fact that it is faster than the parallel bike boulevards. This street is exactly the primary example of a place where sharrows need to be painted in (the center of) the right lane. Whether you agree or not, it is legal, and it is legal to take the full lane.

    Dan should've known better, especially after the Al M incident, than to post something like this. If like stated above that he knew disciplinary action would be imminent, and did it anyway, then he should probably re-evaluate how important certain things in his life are. For me, it's not worth it to lose my job over a road rage incident that occurred months beforehand.

    Whatever you think of the guy, in this case, he's totally missing perspective. I get "wronged" by people on the road every day, usually people in cars. I see cars to dangerous things in front of other cars. I see a lot of things, but in my years on the road (and I'm pretty young!), I've simply come to realize there's a lot of idiots in cars, on bikes, in trucks, driving busses, and operating segways out there. Watch for them, prepare for them, spot the dangers, and operate your vehicle defensively and attentively at all times. If Dan lets this stuff get under his skin, maybe he really is in the wrong profession.

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  • are July 23, 2010 at 1:40 am

    re kim 55, what you describe is pretty clearly not what max 52 was talking about. he and several others are basically saying bikes have no business on hawthorne. i and several others are saying screw that. if you wanted to go faster, you shoulda taken the freeway.

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  • Paul Tay July 23, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Good call, TriMet.

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  • anon July 23, 2010 at 7:39 am

    The entire blog post from Dan C has been archived and can be downloaded here. Please feel free to re-host or repost as you wish.

    http://drop.io/stply9a3694

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  • david....no! the other one July 23, 2010 at 7:44 am

    All humans, have a fight/flight reaction in their make-up. Some do it very well with no percievable long term effect. Others have long term effects, and the strangest things trigger an outpouring of emotions, and it appears THAT is what we are discussing. How and what WE do next is what WE choose. I hope Mr. Christiansen recieves whatever help dealing with his situation. But for us, what about the letter bomber and others of like actions. Maybe Mr. Bus driver was only asking us to examine our own disregard of others, by riding dangerously and carlessly, and how it effects them i.e. the passengers in his bus.
    If nothing else, he has started a discussion and maybe a thought process. What really is sad, is that he felt that there was no one to tell this to other than US. Wake up Tri-Met! Your organization needs to resolve this matter and not just sweep it under the rug by firing Mr Christensen and others who have not resolved their anger at the situation they find themselves subject to.
    Maybe Tri-Met needs to contribute to the 2010 build it plan to resolve some of the overcrowding issues

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  • Mike July 23, 2010 at 8:06 am

    I get the "take the lane" mentality but only to a certain point. Is it wrong to ask cyclists to use alternative routes to stay off busy streets? Would it help relations with motorists if we didn't ride down the center of the lane at 10-15mph even though it is legal for us to do so? I guess I am not as stubborn as others and choose the road less traveled.

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  • broMan July 23, 2010 at 8:17 am

    I'm a cyclist (cx, mtb, commuter 22 mi RT), motorcyclist, and car driver. I live seven blocks from the 37th and Hawthorne. I cannot understand why so many cyclists choose to ride up Hawthorne during rushhour when there are two great, GREAT bike boulevards paralleling Hawthorne, in either direction, a mere four blocks North and South. I'm all for the law that says that cyclists can take the lane, but why during rush hour would you get caught up in all-that-is-bad-about-rush-hour when you could cruise through the neighborhoods on fairly free flowing bike-ways?

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  • Seager July 23, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Whether or not he was joking is not important. Someone reading his blog can easily get the impression that he is not, and with all the publicity that this is getting some drivers could easily take up the call for violence.

    You can't jokingly call for someone's murder, because if someone else takes you seriously you are partially liable for the murder.

    If a cyclist gets hit in Portland soon then the police should consider charging Dan - fair or unfair he's put himself in that risky position, and it's his own fault.

    All some drivers are looking for is an excuse, since they know from history that if they kill a cyclist they will only get a slap on the wrist and no jail time.

    Scary.

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  • Philistine July 23, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Okay, you all missed the obvious. Someone just got an early retirement.

    As for the bike offender, just think of the next white bike shrine. Everyone gets what they want with this guy. He gets himself killed, which is obviously what he wants. The bike community gets another martyr and shrine to pray at. And car drivers get another white bike to sneer at and say "told ya so, schmuck".

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  • zagreus July 23, 2010 at 9:03 am

    If you are an outgoing person who tends to be spontaneous about expressing who you are, you are bound to offend someone sometime. This description fits Dan C.

    I know Dan and he is a gentleman who in this case shot from the lip, and has owned up to a bad choice of words, since what he said didn't jibe with what he intended. I don't always agree with Dan, but then again, I don't always agree with myself, either.

    I hope that in this age of free speech for me and not for thee we don't lose our honesty and openness about who we really are. Being very careful not to say anything that may in some way offend someone somewhere at some time will make all of us hypocrites, and make honest, two way communication impossible.

    Dan's situation appears to me to be a knee jerk reaction, not different from Ms. Sherrod's situation.

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  • Paul Tay July 23, 2010 at 9:17 am

    #63, broMan, I'm a cyclist (cx, mtb, commuter 22 mi RT), and car driver. I've visited your fine city. I cannot understand why so many motorists choose to drive up Hawthorne during rushhour when they can ride their bikes. Cycling is lotsa fun, healthy, and chicks love it.

    I'm all for motorists who need their cars for long cross-country trips, but, why during rush hour would you get caught up in all-that-is-bad-about-rush-hour when you could roll a bike on Hawthorne?

    If motorists would get out of their cages, the world would be a much better place, right? Naaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

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  • peejay July 23, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Paul Tay:

    You win the internets for today, sir.

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  • Dabby July 23, 2010 at 9:56 am

    I ride hawthorne when I feel like moving along much faster.

    I ride Lincoln when I feel like lollygagging.

    When I am riding on Hawthorne I do not get out of the way of Buses generally because I am going faster or more efficently than their style of starting and stopping.

    Really, why are buses trying to race around bicycles, going at a decent clip, when they are just going to be stopping again?

    I will continue to ride major arterials for the same reasons that I drive them.

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  • peejay July 23, 2010 at 9:58 am

    By the way, I had a taxi driver aggressively honk at me this morning because I took the lane on Jefferson going down the hill to Goose Hollow. Now, I know that driver wondered why I wasn't taking the bike lane, but had he asked me, I might have told him that I did not want to die, that the bike lane down that hill leads to certain death when the cyclist approaches the bus that's always parked in the bike lane for driver "break time", where the cyclist can choose to run into the back of the bus, suddenly veer into traffic to either die by coming into contact with a car in the adjacent lane, or be killed by cross traffic that cannot see around the bus (if the cyclist has not been doored by any of the parked cars right up against the bike lane on the hill before getting to the bus). Of course, I couldn't tell any of that to the driver of the taxi, because he never caught up with me again, such was the speed differential between our vehicles. He had no sense of the situation and why I rode where I did, although it did cause him exactly zero seconds of delay. Well, done! Put that in your blog, Mr. Taxi Driver!

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  • ILikeYourNewHaircut July 23, 2010 at 9:59 am

    I'm just going to hang a sign on my back that says "treat me like a slow car".

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  • Paul Tay July 23, 2010 at 9:59 am

    #65, peejay, Santa LOVES ya too!

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  • GawD July 23, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I walk and bike 95% of the time and spend 5% in my car. I wish everyone in Portland did the same, but they don't. So it pains me every time I see a cyclist heading east up Hawthorne. I know it's legal, but it's just plain stupid and all it does is endanger the cyclist. As many have pointed out, there are perfectly good bike ways on Lincoln and Salmon. I see that Hawthorne cyclist and if I'm not a biker, I can only think about how the driver gets angered knowing the city has spent "their precious tax dollars" on the bike ways, yet here's some cyclist insisting on their "right" to bike Hawthorne. Use some common sense and take advantage of the preferred routes that have been designed for your use, cyclists.

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  • Joe July 23, 2010 at 10:36 am

    #72 hahaha love it. cant we all just get along? I share roads with Cars all the time.

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  • slamma July 23, 2010 at 10:54 am

    judging by the two pics from the archived website, this person was going up hawthorne, not down, and was parking his bike in front of a store. i am going to make the assumption that he was riding up hawthorne to get to one of the businesses. this also appears to be at the flat section of hawthorne, and not the steep portion. i also assume, from the blog post, that the bus driver feels threatened when bikes ride alongside the bus as opposed to in front of him, as he seems to "rather have them in front of me where I can keep an eye on them," "rather then having your bike and life out of sight along the side of my bus".

    the whole thing just puzzles me. What did this guy do wrong? i can't beliee the blogger had such a fit and did not describe what exactly this biker did to make him so mad... just really wierd... plus i am a little shocked that he spelled Hawthorne wrong, as that is his bus line.

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  • Al Cordle July 23, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Mr. Maus: Not sure I understand why this guy is "thoughtful" and the Facebook group you tried to close was "dangerous behavior and fomenting hate."

    http://bit.ly/9zUYta

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 23, 2010 at 11:19 am

      Al Cordle,

      that facebook group and Dan Christensen are apples and oranges. this is really complicated because I know Dan is a thoughtful guy, but he mistakenly chose to use words that made a lot of people very uncomfortable.

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  • are July 23, 2010 at 11:09 am

    re 67, it is a hell of a lot different form sherrod's situation. she carefully set up a story about personal growth. some blogger deliberately cut and pasted in order to make it appear she had said something she did not say.

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  • Spiffy July 23, 2010 at 11:47 am

    it's unfortunate that his emotions let his fingers get out of control in ranting about the bike rider... I wish we had a video so we could all see how poorly he was riding...

    but we don't need a video because we know how poorly a lot of cyclists ride and piss off motor vehicles...

    I'd like to see a follow-up interview with the cyclist if he's ever identified...

    I'm sure the bus driver will be back at work soon for the rest of to enjoy...

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  • trail user July 23, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Mistake? Wasn't it you that turned him in?

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  • BURR July 23, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    OK. I read his mea culpa and I still don't know what the cyclist did to provoke Dan.

    It may not even have been illegal, we simply have no way of knowing unless and until there is a more subtantial explanation of the incident that provoked him.

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  • trail user July 23, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Dan is hard to provoke. I bet the cyclist deliberately rode in front and flicked him off all the way down Hawthorne. The guy has prick printed all over his forehead. He was mooning the camera in the second pic. Knowing Dan as well as I do, he has the right to feel the way he did.

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  • Philistine July 23, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    The Sherrod video was posted because it shows black people laughing and clapping before they know the outcome of her story. Showing themeselves to be crass racists.

    Think of it like this: people laughing and cheering this blogger's rant until the moment they realize his story is a cathartic journey down a thorny path paved with a thousand experiences just like this.

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  • BURR July 23, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Dan is hard to provoke. I bet the cyclist deliberately rode in front and flicked him off all the way down Hawthorne. The guy has prick printed all over his forehead. He was mooning the camera in the second pic. Knowing Dan as well as I do, he has the right to feel the way he did.

    Pure speculation.

    Do you have a link to the pictures?

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  • trail user July 23, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Just ask the regular riders on that bus what happened. I'm sure Dan can point them out. He had the pics emailed to him as he was not the photographer. Why would a third party witness deliberately take pics if he has no stake in this? The passenger obviously felt the need to take pics of this guy both on the street and when he was locking up. Most people don't take pics of random cyclists. Is this collusion between a bus driver and his loyal passengers? I've sometimes felt the need to intervene on behalf of a driver when a potentially violent drunkard has entered the bus and is causing problems. A concerned passenger felt she needed to intervene by taking pics and emailing Dan.

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  • Buford July 23, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    On the days when I have to drive to work, I almost always see some idiot cyclist breaking the law, cruising through a stopsign at ankeny and 11th or putting themselves in danger, and their fellow road going motorists in danger chopping lanes at hawthorne and 11th.

    Rarely is it the considerate, I-value-my-life-a-lot hi-vis wearing, fender rocking, pannier using "Fred", but moreover some smelly hipster dude or chick on a fixie with 4 inch wide bars that they have been riding for a week, wearing black skinny pants so tight that when they put the u-lock in the back pocket, the crack of their bum is exposed. These type of people flip authority off anyway, nothing to do about that lot until they mature.

    This small minority of people ruin our chances at acceptance, although we did get a lot of the peoples' money for our bike paths!

    You see a sh#tty cyclist, call them out. Make them wear the Cone of Shame, though the hipsters will only wear vintage Cones of Shame, and they are hard to find.

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  • Travis July 23, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    While Lincoln and Salmon are great through routes, Hawthorne is a shopping district deserving of at least signage pointing out: BICYCLIST SHARE THE ROAD. With the New Seasons coming w/o much parking (my understanding), there will be even more bike and foot traffic in the area.

    This may have been pointed out, but how do we know the bicyclist, too, had not been cut-off/honked/clipped by cars (and Tri-Met buses) 15 times earlier in the day prior to meeting Dan. Ass or not... taking the lane and riding 15 down Hawthorne is legal. Perhaps too, it should be done more often. If there were ever a section of street needing less car traffic...

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  • Lisa G. July 23, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    I've said this before but it bears repeating: If you must ride on busy, high traffic streets like Hawthorne, Powell and Sandy, get a rear view mirror for your helmet, glasses or handlebars. That way you will always know what is behind you and how close they are. It can and will save your life.

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  • freeman July 23, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    I have more negative interactions with other non rule regarding bikers than with drivers...each person on a bike has their own interpretaion of what is 'legal' and appropriate at any given time....i stop at a stop sign and a biker behind me hits me without stopping, brother have we got a problem...

    i can't control other bikers or drivers with my words OR actions...getting them out of their car or off their bike for a fight only makes more anger and hate.

    Bikers be safe! Be careful...Be aware-only one simple (woulda, shoulda, coulda) can be your last...avoiding the 'big squish' is hard enough when total focus and concentration is there...
    ignoring the rules for your own convienance can be fatal.

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  • twilliam July 23, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    I've hosted the blog page (with pics) here.

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  • freeman July 23, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    and one more thing-

    "There are many things in life worth fighting for -
    There are very few things in life worth dying for,

    -But there is NOTHING in life worh killing for."

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  • matt picio July 23, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    GawD (#74) - The city spent all of our precious money so that ALL of us can travel on the public thoroughfares, including Hawthorne. Yes, cyclists DO have a right to be there, and if America's history has taught us anything, it's that if you do not exercise your rights, they will be taken from you. (usually because the assumption is you don't need them, or else you'd be exercising them) The safety argument is a red herring - Hawthorne isn't dangerous because cyclists are so slow, it's dangerous because motorists are traveling so fast, and because many people (from ALL modes) are not paying attention or being mindful of the road.

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  • trail user July 23, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    We call the killing for oil a "fight for freedom" or "liberation" and heap praise on soldiers that die doing so. Semantics.

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  • Paul Johnson July 23, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Dan should have his driver's license permanently revoked if this is the way he behaves.

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  • slamma July 23, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    riding east on flat,not west down hawthorne...

    getting his lock out of his bag, not mooning...

    locking his bike to a staple rack in front of a store...

    yes a third party took pictures, but i'm sure you have all seen those peeps that sit in the front of the bus like it's their second home. if i rode the bus in this fashion, with such a popular driver, i'd imagine his anger would rub off on me...

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  • SkidMark July 23, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Yeah if you take little pieces of it out of context it sounds awful. Dan's point seems to be that he usually goes out of his way to be careful around cyclists. "Kill" was definitely a bad choice of words, especially when you have a popular blog that is basically about your job.

    I would have liked more of a description of what the rider was doing, although his smug face says it all, he was being a dick.

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  • Jonathan July 23, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Bikers have a right to ride on Hawthorne but that doesn't mean they should. There is a bike road on Lincoln and a bike road on Salmon. A biker is taking on added risk by riding on Hawthorne and similar streets. At the same time, Bike roads should be limited to only local traffic.

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  • q`Tzal July 23, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    #91 twilliam
    Thank you for the link so we could read this unfiltered by others prejudice.

    This is most pro-bike/anti-a$$h0le blog post I've ever seen and after Al M's constant invective it's nice to see some well reasoned though on cyclist behavior from a literate writer without an investment in the cycling community.
    We trust ya JM but and his "KILL" comment is entirely out of line. That being said I see this $h!t daily on my bike in every part of the metro area.
    I drove a 40+ ton vehicle for 5 years and despite monthly military defensive driving training there is nothing that can be done when a lighter vehicle whips out in front of you suddenly and then decides to stop.
    NOTHING. I'm reminded of that line from the movie "Black Dog"
    Sonny: Well what if something jumps out into the road and you need to stop?
    Jack Crews: You don't.
    [Rig runs over something]
    Sonny: What was that?
    Jack Crews: A Mazda.

    There is only one solution to heavy vehicles not running over lighter vehicles that pull a "swoop and squat": remove one of that type of vehicle from the road system entirely.

    The "I'm in front and don't have to pay any attention to what's behind me mentality" is the exact opposite of the Sharing of the Road that we so preach to others.

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  • Paul Johnson July 23, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    @John #98: Hawthorne is a bike boulevard itself.

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  • q`Tzal July 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    #98 John
    Autos should be limited to interstates and limited access highways: users should walk or take transit to the highway.
    Roads are meant for all people, payed for by all people and to used by all people. If it is too dangerous for auto drivers to have any other road users around maybe they should stick to those interstates and limited access highways.

    This post almost entirely not sarcastic.

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  • Jonathan July 23, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Hawthorne is a bike street below 12th but above 12th it is not a bike street. Feel free to check out the map and the incident occurred on SE Hawthorne between SE 20th and 40th. Feelhttp://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=34809&a=181308

    Of course legally bikes have a right to be on Hawthorne. However, perhaps bikers should use a little common sense and take the safest route. Cars should stick to major streets when possible and bikes to bike routes. It is just safer. There is a reason Portland and the bike community keeps advocating for bike routes.

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  • spare_wheel July 23, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    "Hawthorne is a bike street below 12th but above 12th it is not a bike street."

    Actually, there are dozens of signs indicating that bikes have the right to a lane going all the way up 39th.

    "bikes to bike routes"

    Seeing this kind of attitude from bikers makes me wonder whether my knee jerk support of bike infrastructure is a good thing. If people start thinking that bikes should be restricted to designated routes we have completely lost the battle for greater mode share.

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  • slamma July 23, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    the incident occurred on SE Hawthorne between SE 20th and 40th.

    that's a real specific location there...

    how can some hipster on a fixie antagonize a trimet bus for 20 blocks uphill? it makes zero sense to me.

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  • 180mm_dan July 23, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Last para."This is an unfortunate situation all around and should serve as a reminder that our behavior out on the roads -- from both sides of the windshield -- can have a huge impact on others."

    I agree and would add to that our behavior on the *internet* has impact too -- He really must have been in a rage when writing his post to overlook the impact of a bus driver writing such a headline.

    Sometimes rage doesn't translate well into text...

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  • SD July 23, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    This incident highlights the culture of violence and anger that exists on blogs and on the roads.

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  • are July 23, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    re comment 84, not to take this thread entirely off topic, but that is not, not, not what the sherrod video shows. she spoke for nearly an hour. she built up her story in a carefully constructed narrative arc. the audience was following the story attentively and with sympathy. the laughter is in response to her description of where she was in her struggle twenty-odd years ago, how she was thinking then. the laughter is not at the expense of the white farmer. this woman has been unfairly pilloried by right wing hate mongers. absolutely no similarity to what christensen did here.

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  • maxadders July 24, 2010 at 12:31 am

    wow, I read the mirrored blog post and two things came to mind:

    1) it's so much worse than the bikeportland article makes it seem: "If you are a murderer, drug dealer, violent criminal or your your life is empty and you are at a dead end, don’t think of suicide when you can do one last act that will have a lasting positive effect on our city. KILL THIS BICYCLIST."

    2) this Dan fellow is anything but a great writer. sentence fragments, typos, incoherent rambling, etc.

    I've had jobs that consisted of driving for a living, and I've been frustrated with bicyclists, passengers, other motorists, etc. I even blogged about 'em. but a direct call to action (he even calls it that!)? I know he thinks he's joking, but as someone who's made his living as a career TriMet driver, this whole thing is incredibly unprofessional. If I, as a random citizen, made a website encouraging the murder of another person-- even jokingly-- I'd expect a visit from the police.

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  • Peter Smith July 24, 2010 at 1:35 am

    it was a classic daredevil-type rider who swerved around cars and cheated lights, etc... while hauling up Hawthorne and with Dan's bus right behind him.

    why was Dan's bus right behind him? Common sense, if not yet law, dictates that the driver of a very heavy, very large object give a rider plenty of room, right?

    And if a cyclist is justifiably too scared to take the lane so decides to weave in and out of parked cars, then as pointed out by a previous commenter, this is a road engineering failure first and needs to be corrected.

    Also, if a rider is weaving, do you:
    c) keep your 40-ton bus right on his ass to make sure the risk of either having to slam on your brakes or kill him remains remarkably high?

    Also, why is Mr. Chistensen the only special, unique snowflake who does not have to put up with bad drivers and bikers? Does his contract with civilization absolve him of the responsibilities and realities of...civilization?

    Every single cyclist who has ridden in any city in America and asserted their right to the road has been terrorized by at least one bus driver. We have to deal with enough terror from bus, car, and truck drivers as it is -- we don't need some nutjob encouraging the other nutjobs to murder us. As I pointed out in an earlier post, some nutjob tried to murder four cyclists in San Francisco recently - he 'only' managed to injure and gravely injure them. Christensen needs to be fired. That road needs to be fixed. Bus drivers need to be sat down and told that it is their responsibility to act responsibly and with common sense on the roads. All drivers need to be checked regularly for mental stability, just like airline pilots.

    It is obvious that this Christensen's rage was fueled by his sense of entitlement and his God complex -- not attributes you want in bus drivers -- it often just leads to terrorized bikers, so it leads to fewer bikers -- and that is not acceptable.

    If Mr. Christensen is so extraordinarily talented, then he'll have no problem finding a new job.

    How do you joke about killing people like that? Fire him. Let him collect his unemployment. Take his motor vehicle license away from him for five years, and then let him get a mental test to see if he's suitable to handle such dangerous equipment again.

    I'm not sure what kind of hours Mr. Christensen was putting in, or what type of home stresses he was under, but I think bus drivers have terrible jobs and should not work more than 20 or so hous a week -- and that's their full time schedule. The job is too stressful. Ditto for cops. Whenever they get stressed they just start killing people. It's not acceptable. And we have to do our part. By doing nothing to reduce the risk of killing this cyclist, Mr. Christensen has shown himself to be a danger to the public. Now we have to do our part to prevent these mental breakdowns which result in terror, mailings, and deaths.

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  • Hart July 24, 2010 at 2:16 am

    This evening on the way home from a friends house I approached Hawthorne on 34th heading South, I had a red light, and I came to a stop. There was a silver two doored vehicle half way into the intersection attempting to turn right towards me, but then the vehicle stopped and the driver yelled something at me that I couldn't understand. While his vehicle was still stopped halfway in the intersection the light turned green for me, I signaled left and began to turn. The the driver yelled something else that I did hear, "Hey, aren't you that damn guy that bus guy told me to kill?!" I did not respond. The driver then did a 180° in the middle of the intersection and rapidly accelerated to follow me, but wisely failed to continue following after I turned right off of Hawthorne a the next block. Be safe, everybody.

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  • Steve Brown July 24, 2010 at 7:04 am

    Traffic is traffic. Where is the rage about DUII's killing people from Dan? Many of us drive as part of our job's. Some times it is all day. It is the person not the vehicle. Peter #108 expresses some good thoughts. I don't know Dan or have not read his blog. But anytime anyone sees a bike or a car and thinks biker or driver, they are already in the wrong mind set. Is the man appearing to urinate in public suffering from mental issues or a scofflaw? Aside, the only thing standing between anyone operating a motor vehicle in a safe and courteous manner is being in a hurry.

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  • BURR July 24, 2010 at 7:31 am

    As we all know, TriMet's primary mission is keeping on schedule, and woe to any cyclist that interferes with that.

    I routinely and repeatedly see bus drivers in Portland run red lights, speed, cut cyclists off and pass too close in order to remain on schedule.

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  • Peter Smith July 24, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Holy crap. Holy holy. I found the original post posted in a forum -- I'm assuming it's ok to link to it here, since it's kind of important to the discussion.

    we've all known 'good people' -- or known of them -- who have gone off the deep end. it's practically an everyday situation on the news these days, but wow -- this dude straight calls for the murder of at least this cyclist. but it's not _just_ a "hey, please kill this guy" plea -- it's this crazy theological End Times-type rant aimed at harming at least this cyclist in whatever way potential assailants can find. it's completely ****ed.

    at first, i thought it was probably a pretty good move for TriMet to refer the post to the DA -- a bit more precautionary, but definitely a good idea. at that point, i'd only read the final two paragraphs that have been widely quoted. i put some faith in Jonathan's take on the dude being a good dude -- a lot of faith, actually, but i know even good people lose it. but now that i've read the whole post -- damn, that dude should be locked up. forever, ideally. i'm not sure if he can be charged with making terroristic (I think that's a word) threats, or whatever else, but this dude is a complete...what? psychopath, basically. gone. off the deep end. he's lost it. unfit to drive _anything_, much less a bus. unfit for society altogether. get him off the streets before he hurts someone.

    i honestly can't believe that anyone would defend what this guy wrote, and that includes you, Jonathan. i don't care if he personally pulled you out of a burning building -- what he wrote is about as morally wrong as could be imagined. he's probably actually endangered the lives of cyclists at least in the greater PDX area. i hope no more bad stuff goes down because of that post. there needs to be some big whigs coming out and saying some _great_ stuff about cyclists. at this point, though, i'm not sure how the damage can be undone. the lunatic fringe is ready -- hopefully they didn't just get that last push they needed to act.

    i don't live in Portland, but damn...i'm honestly thinking now that this thing is going to reverberate around to my hood -- the Bay Area. as i've already stated, and Mr. Christensen alluded to, bikes and buses have tens of thousands of interactions a day all over America. all it would take is one 'accident' to maim or kill a cyclist - it happens all the time. we know that lots of intentional hit and runs never get reported as such, or the assailants are never caught. fml. holy cow.

    i can't believe it. seriously. i mean, i read a _lot_ of stuff on the internet. hundreds or thousands of posts/stories a day, every day, seven days a week, from all over the world, on all sorts of topics, including the most horrific of crimes -- often it's just an accident that i stumble into these stories -- other times it's just taking a break from work so i'll check out fark.com, or huffpost, or whatever. today i've read about 'breast ironing' in Africa, a child killed by being torn apart by a pit bull in the Bay Area, and an unprovoked, brutal, probably-racist hate crime/murder in New Jersey -- not a single one of these stories is as disturbing to me as reading this account of a bus driver bent on a cyclist being punished, ideally by death, for 'riding unsafely' according to Mr. Christensen. i mean, you _have_ to read it. i had to stop and restart reading a couple of times because it's that bad. it's horrible. it's just about unbelievable.

    in fact, i still can't believe it.

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  • BURR July 24, 2010 at 10:14 am

    and still no clues as to what that particular cyclist did that was so egregious....

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  • wsbob July 24, 2010 at 10:58 am

    It's been said and repeated numerous time that the cyclist was weaving into and out of the path of the bus. What's any road user supposed to do with such erratic travel on the road by another road user? Back off I suppose, and create distance between your vehicle and the erratic vehicle operator. Tough luck for the next person that gets near the erratic rider?

    Christensen probably should have treated the situation as people sometimes have occasion to respond to seeing motor vehicle moving erratically down the road: they use their cell phone to call the police (hand-held cell phone use now being illegal, maybe exceptions would be allowed in a situation like this?).

    It's possible that a police car was on duty nearby, and with a clear description of the person, the police might have been able to stop the person and investigate.

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  • are July 24, 2010 at 11:06 am

    re comment 115, it has "been said and repeated numerous times," but not by dan christensen. nowhere does he describe what exactly this cyclist is supposed to have done, other than endanger himself somehow. the photographs show nothing at all. (also, his mention of following a cyclist from 20th to 40th seems to refer to some other cyclist on some other occasion.)

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  • spare_wheel July 24, 2010 at 11:24 am

    "I routinely and repeatedly see bus drivers in Portland run red lights, speed, cut cyclists off and pass too close in order to remain on schedule."

    Exactly my experience.

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  • efglez July 24, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I hope he is fired for good, because no one should be in danger with someone behind a car and specially a public bus.
    In my experience Buss drivers for the most part do not respect our bike lanes and right of ways. (in my opinion)

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  • Peter Smith July 24, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Just to help keep things in perspective, some dude in a Beamer almost ran me over because I had the audacity (stupidity?) to take the lane. But first he sped up behind me and then cut over at the last minute -- buzzing me. Did I mention he was gabbin on his cellphone?

    There's a difference between almost being killed, and being annoyed that some dude you could squash like a bug is annoying you.

    And don't give me the completely hypothetical of 8,000 people dying because a bus driver forgot where the damn brakes were.

    What's my response? Order all the cyclists to mount up and wack this guy silly with inner tubes? No -- take a few pics of his crappy car (I chased, he fled while breaking every other law inthe book -- they're all cowards), which I caught in downtown, call him some not nice names on Twitter, and it's done now. I'll forget about this guy just before the next nutso driver decides to terrorize me.

    Perspective. Bus. Bicycle. BUS. bicycle. Feel me?

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  • wsbob July 24, 2010 at 11:59 am

    "...but not by dan christensen. ..." are #116

    are...I'll take your word for this, since I haven't looked at the pictures other than the one at the top of the page.

    The fact that Christensen may not have stated that the cyclist was weaving into and out of the path of the bus doesn't mean the cyclist wasn't doing this. Other people responding to this thread have said as much. For example, check out trail user #86's post. Their were witnesses to the cyclists erratic movement on the road, and there were pictures...maybe not documenting the erratic movement of the cyclist as better photographer would hope to, but there are pictures.

    None of which should be interpreted as a pass of bus driver/blogger Christensen's sensational and incendiary blog post. However great a guy, bus driver, and recreational writer Mr. C is, in posting the statements he did, he made a major, and dangerous miscalculation. Possible loss of his job is a relatively minor consequence compared to the malicious reaction his reckless comments may inspire certain members of the public to commit towards people riding bikes on the street.

    I couldn't say whether or not Christensen needs to be fired for posting what he did, but he certainly needs a reality check. And maybe he should knock off writing for awhile and just concentrate on getting the bus down the road safely.

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  • are July 24, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    so far as i can tell, the only people attempting to describe what this cyclist was doing are people who were not there. if christensen had something to say other than "i coulda killed this guy, maybe someone else will," he had plenty of space in which to say it. the photo at the top of this page shows someone biking in the lane, away from the door zone. anyone can do this. kind of the opposite of swerving in and out (which is what it seems motorists actually want us to do). the only other photo on the original blog post shows a guy locking up his bike somewhere. the description offered by jonathan at comment 15 says "from what i can gather," he does not say from what source. (one might ask, if the guy was cheating lights, how did the bus stay on his tail?)

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 24, 2010 at 3:18 pm

      are, BURR, and others,

      I've been in contact with Christensen and have asked him for more detail about what the man on the bike did to make him so upset. I'll share details if/when he gets back to me.

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  • Velophile in Exile July 24, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Fire this guy immediately and get him some counseling before he snaps and makes good on his threats. We will not be able to say we weren't warned.

    "I routinely and repeatedly see bus drivers in Portland run red lights, speed, cut cyclists off and pass too close in order to remain on schedule."

    "Exactly my experience."

    Exactly my experience as well.

    I have nearly been killed by TriMet bus drivers in Portland, some of whom were clearly acting intentionally to intimidate me, and yet I have managed to restrain myself from calling for their murder.

    If everyone who acted like a jackass while driving a car was murdered, there would be no car driver-bike rider conflicts, because there would be so few people still driving cars (and fewer people riding as well).

    If this does not show you that peoples' hatred makes bicycling a difficult and dangerous way to get around this city, what will?

    If this does not show you that something needs to be done to protect the rights of people on bicycles to use the public roads, what will?

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  • Tess July 24, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Jason #16: I totally agree. I never ride on Hawthorne for more than a block. More commonly, if my destination off a side street is a block or less along Hawthorne (or Powell, or whatever), or sometimes several blocks, I'm fairly happy to hop off my bike and walk (that other thing you do with your feet).
    I know that legally cyclists are granted full use of the lane, as we are so fond of quoting, but why go out of our way to endanger ourselves in traffic situations that are already fairly sketchy? I despise driving on Hawthorne almost as much as I dislike to bike it. I can hardly imagine what it would be like to drive a bus down those narrow lanes with parked cars, much less have a possibly erratic cyclist making things that much more exciting.
    I don't want to excuse any behavior that calls for the death of someone merely for riding their legal, if perhaps unsafe, route, but consider: many of us are cyclists and feel utterly safe and in control of our bikes while behaving in what can be to drivers unpredictable and confusing. We know where we're going, but other people don't. Likewise, most of us (I'm guessing) are NOT bus drivers, nor do we have experience controlling enormously long, heavy vehicles filled with other people whose safety we are professionally responsible for. As cyclists, we're only responsible for ourselves. What if it were your job to transport a quantity of people around on the back of your bike, and someone came around a corner and cut you off, forcing you to swerve, or jam on your brakes, or whatever? That hypothetical cyclist was riding safely -- from their personal point of view; they didn't crash. But personally, I'd be pissed if that happened; and I am when it does. I'd be just that much more angry, and shaky with adrenaline, if I had other people in my vehicle, and in my care.
    Whenever I get mad at buses for being big, or loud, or in my way, or for not giving me all the room I want, I try to remind myself that I am only moving myself around Portland, and that my ability to go as fast as I want (or as I can) is not really all that important compared to someone moving a whole bus-full of people around, all of whom have destinations and schedules as or more important than mine. Sharing the road means sharing the road; drivers share it with us, and we gotta share back with them. We cyclists don't always get right of way; pedestrians get it first. And personally I think buses should often have right of way over cyclists, if only by dint of greater humanity being transported.

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  • shirtsoff July 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    #70 Dabby

    Absolutely. It for these same reasons that I prefer Hawthorne to Lincoln, but not all the time as you point out. Hawthorne due to its two lanes in each direction and relative lack of traffic control signals is a much faster route for cyclists and motorized vehicle operators alike than parallel streets. Sure, if I want to take my time and take in all of the sights then I do take Lincoln or Salmon instead.

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  • BURR July 24, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    The answer to the problem of the narrow lanes on Hawthorne is to change the lane configuration.

    One possibility is: one lane in each direction, a center left turn lane, bike lanes in both directions, and curb side parking. BTA proposed this in the early 90s but it was rejected by the Hawthorne Blvd. Business Association and PDOT at the late 90s Hawthorne Transporation Plan Advisory Committee meetings, despite substantial public support.

    One alternative was an eastbound bicycle climbing lane from SE 12th to SE 30th. Also rejected by the Advisory Committee, HBBA and PDOT.

    Another possibility is to build parking garages in the business district to get some of the parking off the street to make room for bike lanes and wider sidewalks.

    This discussion really needs to go beyond talking about killing each other to be productive.

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  • BURR July 24, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    More options:

    Make the right lane on Hawthorne Bikes, Busses and right turns only. Only works if the bus drivers and cyclists have some sort of mutual understanding, which doesn't seem likely given current events.

    Sharrows every block in the right lane on Hawthorne. This was promised in the late 90's by PDOT, it is in the final plan documents, but it hasn't been implemented yet.

    Let PBOT know the that status quo on Hawthorne isn't acceptable!

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  • Paul Johnson July 24, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Just take out on-street parking on Hawthorne and give it the Holgate treatment. Give businesses that complain extra bike racks or tell 'em to get bent. Problem solved.

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  • Peter Smith July 24, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    The bus driver issued a death fatwa against a cyclist. That is much worse than just a death threat bc now we have to worry about all the crazies even more instead of just one. The death order also helps to delegitimize cycling -- adding to the 'he had it coming' mentality of our many institutions.

    Drivers and riders will get mad at one another. It's no biggie. All I'm asking is that drivers NOT IRDER MY DEATH bc they woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

    And this fatwa was not just a simple death order -- it was portrayed as a moral responsibility for all decent people of the world to act on. Whether his had to outright murder the cyclist somehow, spit on him, destroy his bike, whatever -- it is encumbent upon you, decent citizen, if you care about decency and Portland at all, to get rid of this guy. He simply CANNOT be allowed to continue his behavior, and if thr means he must die, then he must die.

    And do we know who this evil cyclist is? No -- because 'most cyclists are good people' -- which, by definition, means that some cyclists -- not just this one -- are evil, and need to die.

    Well, how do I spot these evil cyclists, Mr. Christensen? Easy - they're the ones that probablybly wear helmets, or maybe not, they probably hog up the whole lane for no reason, they probably run stop signs and red lights, weave in and out if parked cars -- in fact, really, they're any cyclist that annoys you, and pretty much all of them do sooner or later, so take your pick.

    Let me provide some more moral clarity on this issue in case anyone is still feeling a bit confused -- there is _nothing_ -- capiche? -- NOTHING that could ever justify a death fatwa against him and/or the greater cycling population. We have a legal system -- use it. Heads of State get to ignore the legal system -- you don't.

    If you want to set up a House Unamerican Cycling Routes Committee to make sure that cyclists don't go around provoking death orders, then that is your prerogative, but know thatnitbwill probably not be good
    for the Portland cycling mode share.

    We are all responsible for the predictable consequences of our actions -- whether we have our children in the front of our LARGE, HARD-TO-HANDLE bakfiets or not. Every pedestrian and cyclist learned early on in life that our actions could end not just our own lives, but those anywhere around us -- be they walking, biking, or driving.

    If some folks feel that buses and the people in them are more important/better/whatever than cyclists, then I would disagree with you, but this is something we can discuss.

    If we all lived in a bubble, then I wouldn't mind much how hard some folks here are working to justify Christensen's fatwa, but since we're all potential victims of the lunatic fringe, I feel I have a moral duty to point out the callousness of the moral dissembling in
    favor of Mr. Christensen's actions.

    Maybe Minneapolis deserved that #1 ranking.

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  • Peter Smith July 25, 2010 at 7:49 am

    A few months ago, sports radio jock Tony Kornheiser made some 'bump the cyclist'-type remark -- i don't remember the specifics, but is was taken _very_ seriously by the cycling community at large, and even has Mr. Armstrong weigh in. Kornheiser's remark -- and those other shock jocks who occasionally make similar remarks --- pale in comparison to those of Mr. Christensen.

    Another person who weighed in was the ever-reasonable cycling law guy, Bob Mionske -- check out this BikingInLA post for a rundown of his thoughts.

    Please note all the similarities of the cases. And, the admonition by the blogger that tv and radio execs needed to start taking these things more seriously.

    In my mind, TriMet has done the correct thong so far. What they, and the authorities, do fromhere on out will be largely up to y'all -- you all are
    most likely to be affected by this entire situation. If Portland cyclists say, 'no big deal' -- then that's that -- I've got plenty enough to worry about myself down this way, and I do plan on making this a teachable moment -- making sure the safety an comfort and dignity of cyclists are protected over the sanctity of a few seconds on the bus schedule.

    p.s. That 'mea culpa' was garbage. It doesn't even enter the realm of something that could
    be taken seriously.

    p.p.s. All bus drivers should have to bike to work at least one day a week. That's the only way we're going to get drivers like Mr. Christensen to understand the terror he and/or his bus driving brethren are so adept at distributing on a daily basis.

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  • wsbob July 25, 2010 at 10:56 am

    "...p.s. That 'mea culpa' was garbage. It doesn't even enter the realm of something that could
    be taken seriously. ..." Peter Smith #130

    Why not? What leads you to be certain his apology was "...garbage..."? Or maybe a better question would be, 'What do you mean in saying it was "...garbage...".

    Do you know this person personally? Do you know him as a driver from personal experience riding on his bus? Have you read his blog?

    Despite the highly questionable wisdom that apparently entered into his decision to post his thoughts accompanied by the headline seen above in the screen grab of his blog, it seems that numerous people, including maus, remarking in comments to this very thread have said good things about him.

    His "Mea Culpa" (link to it above in maus's lead article) rings of genuine sincerity, though some people might find it a little heavy on use of creative writing gimmickry.

    Maybe a conversation between Christensen and Maus with details posted here on bikeportland would help provide further explanation some people here have indicated they wanted, about specifically what the cyclist did that prompted Christensen's writing. Or perhaps on his own blog, he'll eventually describe the actions of the cyclist in dry, factual terms, though that doesn't seem to be his writing style. From the provacative posting, excerpted above in maus's article:

    "... At that time I took extreme measures to avoid crushing you despite your best effort to get under my tires. ..." christensen

    Many people today seem to have aspirations of being hot-button writers and personalities, like this Tony Kornheiser dude, (who I've never listened to, but read something about his outburst...)and some of the others on the long list of big mouth journalists and shock jocks, whose names fortunately escape my memory.

    One of the unfortunate things that can happen, associated with this phenomenon, is that when some little guy like Christensen, apparently with some of that type aspiration, reports something serious that he's personally witnessed happening....certain people don't want to believe him. Maybe they wouldn't under any circumstances, but when the report is phrased in the creative writing style C and others use...well, to some extent, its credibility for some readers and listeners just seems to fly out the window.

    Related to this incident, that happening is unfortunate.

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  • spare_wheel July 25, 2010 at 11:10 am

    "And personally I think buses should often have right of way over cyclists, if only by dint of greater humanity being transported."

    I agree and strongly support *dedicated* bus/streetcar/max lanes with priority signaling. But this in NO WAY excuses illegal behavior by bus operators, death threats, or incitement to violence.

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  • Anonymous July 25, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Spare_Wheel: I agree with you. The matter at hand is not mode-priority, but the death threat.

    Christensen's "Kill this cyclist" demand coupled withe a photograph exceeds the threat in the Zack Coleman incident.
    (http://statenews.com/index.php/article/2009/04/bicyclists_need_to_stay_on_sidewalk)

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  • Peter Smith July 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    The 'mea culpa was 'garbage' because it completely avoided the plain, frank speech that is necessary in this serious matter, and it offered no apology. Further, he used the space to further justify his actions, which have endangered cyclists.

    His 'mea culpa' says, in effect, "yes, I was wrong to sanction your death and the harassment, injuring, terrorizing, maiming, and killing of other cyclists, BUT, really, y'all deserve it. AND, while you weep for Santiago and curse the Marines, the truth of the matter is that this person was a sub-standard cyclist, and his death would have _saved lives_."

    it's a non-apology apology. But it's much worse than that. It's an affront to human dignity and decency. The reason you didn't see an apology from this guy is because he doesn't believe he actually did anything wrong. He was told by someone at Trimet that he was suspended and
    might be getting a visit from the popo, so he decided he should go online and tell us all how stupid we are -- and that's exactly what he did. He's not remorseful in the least -- he'd do it again.

    I think of all the bus drivers who are attacked on a daily basis -- getting slapped, spit on, punched, stabbed, murdered -- somehow I don't think they'd find it funny to have some cyclist write a screed about how this 'annoying' bus driver needed to be
    killed.

    I'm operating on an iPhone, and I've taken up too much space already, but I'd love for someone else to pick apart that non-apology 'mea culpa' for what it is -- a brash, contemtuous assault on Portland cyclists -- at least Porland cyclists.

    But don't take my word for it -- I know for a fact, because I actually ride -- that Portland cyclists are riding extra-carefully these next few days and weeks -- they're very aware, and have always been -- even without Mr. Christensen's guidance -- of their own vulnerability on the road, and their responsibility to their lived ones to get home safely. Mr. Christensen made that safevreturn less likely.

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  • wsbob July 25, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    First thing Chistensen says at the top of his 'mea culpa':

    "Mea Culpa!

    DateThursday, July 22, 2010 at 10:51PM

    Ok so I have received lots of emails and twitters and yes, I would agree I stepped over the line.

    GUILTY!

    First time I would say I pushed the envelope and perhaps maybe pushed beyond the envelope ..."

    Sonnetoptics.net
    Blogs, Podcast, Essays, Stories And Other Creative Magic Of Dan Christensen

    Says he's 'guilty'. Maybe he could have found a clearer way of conceding he's erred, but I don't know how the single word 'guilty', can be beat for accomplishing that.

    Later on in his apology, he recognizes that the life of the cyclist is just as important to someone out there as his own daughter and grandkid is to him. Goes on to say that if he were to meet the cyclist, he'd hug him and ...:

    "...I would tell him “You are as precious to someone, as my girls are to me. I want you to live a full, healthy, heroic life worthy of song and praise. just like my daughter and Granddaughter. I never want to see harm come to you. Riding a bike, just like driving a bus is a life or death proposition, you have got to respect that not for others, but because you are a precious son of someone, you are to them, as my Daughter and Granddaughter is to me. ..."

    In terms of expression of respect and appreciation for the lives of others loved ones, it sounds like the real deal to me. Apparently C somewhere got the impression that it's a style that sometimes can communicate a constructive, positive message. There's nothing particularly new about that kind of humor. I'm sure many of you reading could cite names of examples of it right off the top of your heads.

    The only thing really extraordinary about that type humor used in this particular situation, is that a bus driver attempted to use it to arouse general public concern over the allegedly irresponsible operation of a bicycle on a public street...to which Christensen and the passengers of his bus were innocent victims of.

    Christensen's use of that type humor backfired on him. That's unfortunate, because now, instead of leading them to be more personally vigilant about correcting bad bike operation habits, his failed attempt at dark humor may have led some of the people that ride bikes to feel that animosity is justified towards road users that don't rely on bikes for transportation.

    I'd be inclined to think Christensen won't soon make this miscaluclation again, whether he continues to drive a bus or not.

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  • wsbob July 25, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Note of clarification for post #134:

    "...Apparently C somewhere got the impression that it's a style that sometimes can communicate a constructive, positive message. ..." wsbob

    Of course, with that statement, I'm referring to Cristensen's original controversial posting and not simply the excerpts from his apology that I posted in my comment #134

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  • buglas July 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    This situation reminds me a bit of my children, nearly all adults. While it would deeply sadden and disappoint me to see them do something with heavy consequences such as loss of job or jail time, I would not seek to shield them from those consequences. Dan Christensen apparently wrote his -in my opinion - badly formed blog entry with full understanding and acceptance of those consequences.

    I do not know Mr. Christensen, nor do I regularly follow his blog. I had one brief exchange of messages with him in comments to a BiP posting some months ago. The impression I have formed of Mr. Christensen is that he is one of the good guys, that he is a careful bus driver who is attentive to those on bicycles. I believe that his presence on the roadway raises the aggregate average safety level just a bit for all of us.

    So, what happened? By my reading, Mr. Christensen encountered somebody on a bicycle who is his polar opposite and who drags the aggregate average safety level down every time he hits the streets.

    We're all making inferences here, based on our own subjective views. I prefer to think that Dan Christensen's indefensible posting was at least motivated by a desire to make us all safer by getting this particular bicyclist off the road. In that frame of mind, I'm not going to recommend how TriMet should handle any of this. That is outside my span of control. I'll do what is within my grasp to make the streets a bit safer by making myself visible and riding in a predictable manner. In a week where there is discussion of a booby trap in Ladd's Addition and commenters are flaming an automobile owner for expressing himself, that's about as much as I can do - share the road, be predictable, and don't polarize different mode users.

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  • Peter Smith July 25, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    An apology worthy of _my_ time would require, as I yav stated, something that resembles an actual expression of remorse, etc. Here's a def from definition.com that would
    work for me:


    1. a written or spoken expression of one's regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged another: He demanded an apology from me for calling him a crook.

    it usually looks something like this:

    I'm sorry.

    or

    I apologize.

    most of us learn this when we're about two years old.

    The only valid reasons for Mr. Christensen to not apologize could be if he was in jail, and/or if he was told to zip it on advice of legal counsel.

    I can't really imagine at this point an apology that would work for me, personally, but as a wild guess, it might go something lime this:

    dear community, especially the cycling community,

    I f*cked up. HUGE. incomprehensibly huge. And I'm so sorry for what I did. I would take it back in an instant if I could. It must sound completely ridiculous for me to implore you to suspense your shock, disbelief, and anger for long enough to hear this full apology and explanation, yet that is what I'm asking for, since I believe that we should all be allowed to atone for ouristakes -- even grave mistakes.

    I'm sorry for endangering you with my words.

    I'm sorry for endangering that cyclist, the people on my bus, and everyone else on the road that day -- that the situation escalated to where it did was my fault, and my fault alone.

    I apology mostly for issuing the death fatwa against that cyclist -- he didn't deserve it, an there is never any justified reason fir issuing any type of call to violence when it is not in self-defense. It was meant as a joke, but I'm just a horrible writer sometimes, and even if it was clear that I was joking, it would not have been appropriate because cyclists ate harassed, tormented, targeted, terrorized, injured, maimed, an killed enough on the roads as is.

    I'm going to make it up to everyone. This apology is just the start.

    To gain an appreciation of what it's like to ride a bike in traffic and particularly around buses, I'm going to start riding a bike to and from work at least once a week starting next week. (I might need some pointers on how to get going.)

    I'm going to convene a meeting between myself and other bus drivers and cycling advocates -- just an informal meeting at first -- to figure out how to make sure this type of bus/bike misunderstanding never happens again anywhere in Portland, an how each side will handle it if one side doesn't seem to be playing by the mutually-agreed upon rules.

    I'm going to call and ask to speak to both the Mayor an to his DOT chief tomorrow and tell them of the importance of fixing that crappy road and every road like it. Infrastructure is destiny, an with that type of infrastructure, our destiny will include more misunderstandings, and that is not acceptable for Portland -- we have to do better.

    Etc....

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  • MarkB July 25, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    #130, Peter Smith:

    The interesting analogy to this situation to the Kornheiser debacle is that, about a week after the Korn/Armstrong broadcast, a cyclist was deliberately struck ON THAT VERY STREET, by an SUV -- the driver of which GOT OUT, CUSSED OUT THE CYCLIST, re-entered his vehicle, and left the scene.

    Anyone ready for that to happen?

    Trust me, I understand road rage, both as a driver AND as a cyclist, AND AT both drivers and cyclists! But rant like this one ARE dangerous, because there is a section of the American readership out there who, while they have managed to learn to read, have not learned to recognize: sarcasm, hyperbole, and the like, which are used effectively by good writers.

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  • RickJazz July 26, 2010 at 7:55 am

    I think Tri-Met should fire this guy as he is a potential time bomb ready to kill some cyclist or pedestrian. He has a grudge against one cyclist that will only spill over to some other innocent cyclist or pedestrian.. I dont think I would want someone with this kind of issues driving a bus, and sooner or later this driver is going to lose it and kill somneone, just look how violently mad he got in his "Kill this Cyclists blog.. Do u want someone like this driving your bus? Attn. Tri-Met officials-- Please fire this potential killer!

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  • Jonathan July 26, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Tess #123: Right on.

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  • Andrew July 26, 2010 at 10:11 am

    The Playhouse returns to Portland radio this fall! Join new host, former TriMet driver Dan Christensen to tell you all about how to kill cyclists!

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  • Jessica Roberts July 26, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Jonathan, I also am having a hard time understanding why you would defend this post. It's as bad as, if not worse than, many of the radio DJ statements you have gotten very angry and upset about in the past.

    I know you have met Dan Christensen and obviously that is affecting your interpretation of his writing, but when I read the words he wrote, I am truly horrified. I feel far more actively endangered by someone begging Portland drivers to kill cyclists than the Detroit radio rant you posted about last year.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 26, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Jessica and others,

    I challenge your assertions that I'm "defending" Dan's post. That's not the case at all. This is much different than previous instances of road rage hate speech in the media because of the context. The context included Dan's past as a writer and candid deep thinker and his reputation with many people in Portland as one of the good guys.

    Also, Dan took down his post relatively quickly, TriMet took action quickly, and then Dan offered a 'mea culpa' quickly.

    I am still following up with TriMet to see what kind of disciplinary action he'll receive. I think what he did absolutely deserves disciplinary action. He needs some sort of counseling to work through his feelings about this and he needs to know that expressing that type of stuff publicly is no different than other types of hate speech that can lead to real consequences.

    This has been a very difficult issue for me to figure out. Just for the record, I am not a personal friend of Dan's. I have simply emailed and communicated with him online. We have never met in person.

    Because of the context of the type of person he is... I see his post as being MUCH different than shock-jock rants or other anti-bike outbursts I've heard in the media. I have emailed Dan hoping to sit down and talk with him so that we can use this as a teachable moment for everyone.

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  • Herb Fyfield July 26, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Jonathan,
    I challenge your characterization of Mr. Christensen as a "talented writer"; his windy, self-serving mea culpa was no help either. TriMet did the right thing. Mr. Christensen has no business driving any public transport. I encourage you to reflect more deeply on this entire incident.
    HF

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 26, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Herb,

    i have reflected quite deeply on this. thanks.

    as for his writing, his talent is not the issue here, it's that he's a writer and exploring his thoughts through the written word is something he does often.

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  • cyclist July 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Oh, please, folks. Give me a flippin' break. "his writing is bad" "sends a ripple down anyone's spine" "no business driving any public transport" "whether or not he was joking was not important"

    Do none of you possess even a vestige of a sense of humor? Are you aware of the term "ironic?" Lighten up, for heaven's sake.

    First, he WAS joking--the whole point was to turn an upsetting incident into something humorous and therefore manageable. Second, his writing skills aren't at issue--TriMet did not suspend him for misplaced gerunds or "windy, self-serving" prose.

    Third, whether we cyclists like to admit it or not, some of us take too many risks, take advantage of slower-moving motor vehicles, play games with traffic lights and buses and just generally ignore the rules that ALL wheeled contraptions are supposed to follow in Portland.

    I've been on both ends of the debate--slamming on the brakes to avoid a really stupid bike maneuver and knowing that if I hit him I'd get the blame, not the asshole cyclist...AND getting clipped by the side mirror of a truck going too fast and straying into my bike lane. In both cases, yeah, I was really, really furious.

    Personally, I'm glad Mr. Christensen has an outlet to express frustration off the job, and that he chose to take it. Was it smart? Probably not. Was it telegraphing his intention to use his bus as a weapon of mass destruction? Certainly not.

    Notice that TriMet doesn't say he's got a bad safety record, just that he was--justifiably--angry at what one of our number did. I would be, too.

    Mr. Fyfield, I encourage YOU to reflect more deeply on this entire incident. In your world, I suppose saying "I'm gonna STRANGLE him" also warrants a visit from homicide detectives.

    Lighten up, already.

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  • Herb Fyfield July 26, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Jonathan,
    Of course, talent is not the issue here. That's why I objected your initial reference of Christensen as a "talented writer".

    Cynthia,
    Thanks so much for pointing out that Mr. Christensen was only "joking".

    I bike every day. Stay safe out there.

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  • Velophile in Exile July 26, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    @ #147: I have a great sense of humor. Plenty of things in this crazy world are funny. This sh!t aint funny. Please spare us your fake outrage at people taking this seriously.

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  • Peasant Pundit July 28, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Let's not forget the root of Mr. Christensen's anger - putting a busload of public transportation passengers at risk because of a self centered bicyclist. At rush hour many bus riders are standing. Often there are small children on board. They are all the driver's responsibility.

    Ideally he would have vented his anger - writing without publishing - and then rewrote his blog in a more constructive manner. Christensen's tragic mistake now makes him the villain instead of the intended culprit.

    Hasn't there been a time in every bicyclist's life when there was a certain motorist the world would be better off without? Ever say so over a beer?

    That's blogging's double edge sword - you have to be so careful

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  • Velophile in Exile July 28, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    I may have said some mean things about and to drivers (and cyclists!) before, but I have not published a request for others to kill those people. It's a pretty obvious line to cross, and I think you can see it clearly.

    And if I worked for government and my job required me to operate a vehicle that I could quite easily use to kill people, I would not expect to keep my job after making such a statement.

    After all, there are plenty of people qualified to drive a bus who do not get so frustrated by dumbass behavior that they want to kill or ask others to kill.

    It's not only bicyclists who act like idiots on the road, you know. Can you imagine how stressed out this guy must be at the end of a day spent driving in traffic?

    Let Christensen go operate a toll booth or something. Better yet, let him go do something that requires no deadly weapons or customer service at all.

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  • Paul Johnson July 28, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    @Peasant Pundit: with as many people as there are on this planet, and with how overcrowded Portland is already, isn't "small children" a completely baseless argument? Yes it is. It's a weak excuse for arguments that have no real leg to stand on. Surely traffic safety has more than "for the children" going for it; consider making /that/ argument instead of the non-case you ran with.

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  • wsbob July 28, 2010 at 6:40 pm
  • Marcus Griffith July 28, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    And yet Christensen post a brand new blog yesterday.. after he said he was quitting.

    http://sonnetoptics.net/

    But really who cares that he blogs. The concern was the DEATH THREAT he posted, not the fact that he was blogging.

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  • wsbob July 28, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    A brief overview of Christensen the bus driving blogger seems in order. Apparently, lots of people care that Christensen blogs. And they generally like what he writes about. Apparently, Christensen, if not universally so, (and after...who is?) is widely regarded as a great person and a great bus driver. Easily better than average on both counts.

    Christensen didn't say he was quitting blogging...only that he was dropping the TriMet Confidential blog because he thought it had...(I forget his exact words...he's quoted in the O story) run out of gas, or some such thing.

    That bus driving is a high stress job isn't something that's lost on Trimet management. I believe the agency has programs and personnel in place to help its drivers resolve issues arising from job related stress. These are things I understand from reading the news, rather than a first hand source.

    I seem to recall reading that Christensen said he wrote the TriMet Confidential blog in part to advocate for greater safety on the part of all road users that would in turn raise the level of safety bus passengers could rely upon from driver operation of buses. Perhaps also in part, he was writing to relieve his own job related stress.

    Only Dan Christensen can really know for sure whether he's great driver with a heart of gold or a powder keg of barely concealed animosity, bent on vengeance against road users that cause him aggravation on the job. From what I've been able to tell, in reading material about him here and in other media, it's looking like he's coming out fairly strong on the former of the two simple characterizations I just offered.

    People make mistakes. He did, and despite the fact some people can't find themselves able to attach credibility to the type of apology he made, he did make an apology of a sort. I'm mostly willing to accept that he was on the level with that apology, but I still don't much care for his sense of humor, especially when he can't seem to control himself from trying to deliver an apology with it.

    Maybe in the months he says he's going to take off from blogging, he'll spend some time figuring out when it's alright to be Laugh A Minute Christensen, and when it's important to be serious.

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  • Velophile in Exile July 29, 2010 at 11:08 am

    What makes a "great person" is what they say and, more importantly, what they do.

    I don't see any evidence of any particularly "great" things Christensen has done. He hasn't, for example, cured AIDS or solved world hunger.

    And I certainly don't see any evidence that anything he has said is "great." In fact, it's the contrary.

    So spare us the character defense of the one (other, LOL) TriMet bus driver dumb enough to publish on the internet his hatred of, and desire to kill, bicyclists.

    Your anti-bike agenda is showing again, Bob.

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  • tim July 29, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    @Marcus Griffith, 154

    http://sonnetoptics.net/ is not a new blog for Dan.

    My second try at posting. Problem here?

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  • Topher July 29, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Even George W. Bush has a better grasp of the English language than this driver/blogger. I don't know how anyone could read his blog regularly.

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  • BURR July 29, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    everything is dumbed down on the interwebs

    :-(

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  • hey marcus, take some downers... July 30, 2010 at 12:44 am

    @marcus remind me not to get on your bad side because it appears that you have a real thing for getting pissed at people and trying to get them fired. On the balance, it is probably good that you aren't successful very often because if you actually get someone fired they will probably have a lot of free time that they might spend trying to get you fired.

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  • Velophile in Exile July 30, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Yeah, imagine someone being so crazy as to suggest that the public and Christensen might both be better off if he wasn't working as a professional driver.

    Go try getting paid to write more bad poetry.

    Or slinging lattes.

    Or selling consumer electronics.

    Or anything that doesn't make you so stressed that you have to think (or write) about acting on your hate.

    Or anything that doesn't involve weilding of a deadly weapon.

    We don't need you driving a bus in Portland. You're not worth the risk.

    Plenty of other people looking for jobs who can drive without thinking about killing.

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  • Six_of_One August 14, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I've ridden on Dan's bus in the past. The 19. I've seen him dodge some damnblasted fools on bikes who apparently were either absolutely determined to kill themselves or else completely oblivious to anything happening around them. I never saw any kind of outburst or loss of temper on Dan's part. Which is more than I can say about other bus drivers.

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  • John August 15, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Gotta agree with some other posters here. Despite the daily frustrations of driving a bus on busy city streets, no one, no one, who works for a public service agency gets to utter threats like that without consequence.

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  • Wayne Tyson August 19, 2010 at 9:03 am

    I can't find a copy of the original blog. None of the links on this site work.

    Any suggestions?

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  • Al Cordle August 19, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Try this one: http://bit.ly/bDXy2C

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