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TriMet bus operator who wrote offensive blog post returns to work

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 30th, 2010 at 10:31 am

bikes and buses
(Photo © J. Maus)

Dan Christensen, the TriMet bus operator who wrote an essay titled, "Portland: Kill this bicyclist!" on his personal blog is back behind the wheel.

After learning of the post on July 22nd, TriMet placed Christensen on administrative leave and notified the District Attorney and the Portland Police. According to TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch, Christensen was back on the job as of last night. In addition to some time off, Fetsch says Christensen will get a "refresher training class" behind the wheel with a TriMet trainer. Fetsch also said Christensen will receive "appropriate discipline" but said specifics of that disciplinary action "is privileged and not releasable."

Reached via phone this morning, Christensen said he doesn't necessarily regret what he wrote, but admits he could have, "Done a better job making it clearer what I was going for."

Dan Christensen
(Self portrait)

When asked whether he feels the thoughts that led to his detailed and emotional post about the rage he felt after seeing a man on a bike ride dangerously on SE Hawthorne Blvd., Christensen said, "The major impact [of what he saw] was the day of. After that, it sort of rolled off my back."

Christensen wrote the post one month after the incident occurred, which doesn't make it seem like it simply "rolled off his back." When I asked him about that, he tried to explain why he wrote the post. "I want the cyclists and the car drivers, and everybody to realize that it's life and death out there... When you're a bicyclist and you think, 'Oh, I can make this', if that's the phrase in your head, trouble follows."

"When I was saying, 'Portland, kill this bicyclist' I meant everybody plays a part in somebody getting injured like that. If you're bicycling and you see somebody do something crazy and dangerous and you say nothing, you helped hurt him. People have a level of responsibility because it's the cyclist that's going to get hurt, not the bus driver, not the car driver, etc... It's unfair, physics are unfair, but people have to say, 'Hey, don't do that'."

When asked for specifics about what the man on the bike did to have such an effect on Christensen, he said it was an "exceptional" combination of risky moves. "It wasn't what I'd call random error or a mistake or a chance encounter... I've seen people do dumb things and I've seen people do dangerous things near my bus, but this was a combination, this was a holistic encounter of bad."

With his time off, Christensen said he got his bike fixed and he's now riding around town. "If you see somebody that looks like the Hindenburg on a toothpick, that'd be me."

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Comments
  • are July 30, 2010 at 10:56 am

    okay, well, still no explanation of what the cyclist supposedly did. given that everybody makes mistakes and that in fact some people -- motorists as well as cyclists, and certainly bus drivers -- are simply oblivious and/or stupid, let's just assume that this guy did something or other, big deal, happens every day. and while i kinda get his point about the "i think i can make this" risk taking, the fact is that every calculation you make out there is somewhere on the spectrum of "i think i can make this."

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  • KWW July 30, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Supposedly someone saved the text of what the bicyclist did, before the post was taken down. It would be nice to understand what he saw that day.

    Its ashame, his blogging days may be over, he is like the nycbikesnob of bus drivers.

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  • Ely July 30, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I dunno, I kinda feel like if someone on foot or on a bike (or skateboard, segway, etc.) does something crazy, illegal, or stupid, the motor operator should not be taking extreme measures to prevent a collision. Just hit them already, they clearly deserve it. It's not fair that the a-holes & bike ninjas get off scot free while the rest of us get harassed and threatened.

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  • trail user July 30, 2010 at 11:23 am

    (Set on) FIRE THIS BUS DRIVER! He's the Hindenburg and is full of hot air!

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  • brandon July 30, 2010 at 11:25 am

    sounds like he's full of crap....it's funny how people counter bicycle hate with a final word about all the quality time their going to spend with their bike.

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  • beth h July 30, 2010 at 11:25 am

    In the world of Instant Electronic Information, one has to balance their online postings against a few realities:

    1. How much will what I post affect the business I work for?

    2. If it will affect that business negatively in any way, should I post it? If I do, am I putting myself at professional risk?

    3. Am I valuable/popular enough at my place of work that I can avoid losing my job/promotion/standing over whatever I write?

    And finally:

    4. Is my need to express [whatever] about my work ONLINE indicative of a larger need to find a more appropriate -- or at least professionally "safer" -- outlet for this expression?

    Because so many employers ARE watching the Web for anything that can be used against an employee, in the end the larger lesson here may be to keep one's mouth shut and find another outlet for work-related frustration that doesn't involve any professional risk.

    It mat be that TriMet decided:

    a. It couldn't come up with enough evidence to fire Christensen;

    b. It decided that keeping Christensen on was actually better PR for the company;

    c. Any discussion of details of disciplinary action is better kept "confidential" so that little or no disciplinary action need be taken -- which to my thinking would be further indication of Trimet seeing this driver as a commodity to keep. A bus driver who blogs about driving his bus is a bus driver who outs a human face on the bus company and in marketing parlance that can be worth a lot.

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  • Perry July 30, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Ely (#3). I share the frustration, but do you really want to experience the reality of what you're advocating?

    C'mon...that "just hit them...they deserve it" stuff does not help anyone.

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  • Noah Genda July 30, 2010 at 11:47 am

    I am really not comfortable with this fella still driving huge vehicles near me. The sketchiest art of my commute is the Tri-Met lot with the drivers who have already checked out and are parking their buses.

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  • wsbob July 30, 2010 at 11:57 am

    "...When asked for specifics about what the man on the bike did to have such an effect on Christensen, he said it was an "exceptional" combination of risky moves. "It wasn't what I'd call random error or a mistake or a chance encounter... I've seen people do dumb things and I've seen people do dangerous things near my bus, but this was a combination, this was a holistic encounter of bad." ..." maus/bikeportland

    Christensen's a bus driver; probably sees and passes with his bus everyday, at least dozens of people, if not hundreds of people riding bikes. For some reason, this particular cyclist's actions on the road stood out to Christensen from all the rest. Those actions stood out to other passengers on the bus to the extent some of them were prompted to take pictures of the cyclist in question.

    Maus, I know you probably wanted to avoid sounding like you were interrogating Christensen, but I wish you would have followed up your question above with a couple more such as 'What dumb things? What risky moves? What dangerous things?'.

    Those don't seem like particularly high pressure questions. Having asked them and got a more definitive answer than Christensen seems inclined to provide might have helped lay to rest certain doubts and speculation some people have expressed in their comments regarding this incident.

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  • q'Tzal July 30, 2010 at 11:57 am

    I have read back through his numerous prior postings, but have not met him.
    Considering the other bus drivers attitudes proven in actions, his safe driving record and what I've read of him I feel safe with him one the road.
    I think what we wrote was stupid and insensitive but as fellow sufferer of chronic foot-in-mouth disease I can sympathize with his self imposed predicament.
    Ride and drive safe!w

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  • matt picio July 30, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    beth h (#5) - I think the larger lesson isn't so much "keep one's mouth shut" as it is "Be aware of one's actions and know what you're willing to give up in the name of expression".

    As one who always posts under my full name, I'm always aware that many of my co-workers and potentially my bosses read my site, my posts, and Facebook. On some subjects that doesn't stop me, but I've accepted the risk that what I say can be used to incarcerate me, fire me, or keep me from getting a job.

    Noah (#7) - Are you saying you commute *through* the parking lot? Or merely that the drivers are most dangerous between the end of their route and the lot?

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  • Velophile in Exile July 30, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    "If you're bicycling and you see somebody do something crazy and dangerous and you say nothing, you helped hurt him."

    That's exactly what Christensen's union is doing.

    If you're bicycling and you see somebody do something crazy and dangerous while that person is driving a bus and you do say something, you get no meaningful response from TriMet and told by the bike-hating trolls on bp that they are offended by your "sense of entitlement."

    And then TriMet puts that idiot back behind the wheel of a bus.

    So I share Christensen's sense of frustration with the situation.

    Maybe if TriMet bus drivers held each other accountable for their stupid and dangerous acts the way Christensen wants bicyclists to do, then this would be a two-way street.

    You know, instead of hiding behind the union bosses that the drivers pay to protect their jobs at the expense of public safety.

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  • SD July 30, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    The bus driver's comments did not occur in a vacuum. He believed that his comments would be understood and supported by a percentage of his readers. His low threshold to invoke violence against cyclists is a reflection of the trimet driver's and motorist's attitudes that he hears. The net effect of his post is the promotion of violence and aggressive attitudes on the road. Just as he posted his comments in a moment of emotional aggravation, drivers act aggressively when stressed; more so when they believe that their anger and violence are justified and will be supported by others. His posts supports road violence and does not benefit anyone.
    He should not be allowed to drive a bus.

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  • twilliam July 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    An update Mr. Maus:

    No pun but I've killed the mirror to the guy's blog. No sense in kicking a dead bik... er, horse.

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  • spare_wheel July 30, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Dear angry trimet bus operators,

    I will be riding Hawthorne twice a day with a readily accessible video camera. Go ahead, and make my day...

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  • dan July 30, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    While I don't think the driver should have issued a fatwa on some cyclist, I don't have much sympathy for cyclists who make illegal/life-threatening decisions on their bike, and expect all the other roadway users to take emergency evasive action. That strategy will only be successful so many times.

    I think the appropriate penalty would be not death, but forcing that cyclist to drive a bus for a few weeks to see what it's like on the other side.

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  • Ely July 30, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    I guess what I really want is consequences for dangerous/stupid actions. For people who endanger others to get busted consistently, instead of people who roll a stop signs occasionally or drive 5mph over the limit on an empty freeway.

    Keep dreaming.

    The problem with what I said is that jerks in cars are happy to go around hitting people and not bother to behave safely at all. And decent people in cars really don't want to hit anyone, whether or not they are behaving stupidly.

    I wish I believed in cosmic justice. That would make all this way less depressing.

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  • Marcus Griffith July 30, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    There are two issues here: 1) The alleged incident with the cyclist and 2) The death threat.

    Regarding the first, there are questions that linger. Did Christian report the alleged dangerous cyclist to the Police or TriMet when it was happening? Was the incident caught on TriMet's camera's? If the cyclist was such a danger to the road, why did Christian wait an entire month to report it? Why was Christian's blog not about what the cyclist did, but about issuing a death threat.Lastly, if the cyclist was such a threat to himself and Christain's passengers, why did Christian keep following the guy instead of just stopping till the guy was a safe distance away?

    Those questions are worth exploring but moot when considering the second issue, the death threat. There is nothing the cyclist could have done that day to excuse or justify Christian's "call for direct action" for the cyclist to be killed.

    Christian may try to blame the cyclist for his death threat and he may try to re-write his post after the fact; but Christian's post was an admitted road rage fueled death threat. The fact that a professional driver got so upset over a minor traffic irritation is scary.

    I am sure Christian is a great guy; but, people make irrational decisions while enraged. The capacity for carnage a bus has requires bus drivers not to engage in road rage. There are better ways to deal with the inherent stress of bus driving than issuing threats.

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  • Peter Smith July 30, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    It seems Mr. Christensen has trouble with the truth, his emotions, and his spelling.

    I think the TriMet decision to reinstate him is a serious, possibly grave, mistake.

    I think cyclists who are taking this lightly are mistaken, too. Basically, now all you have to do to get out of declaring a 'death or injury fatwa' against cyclists is to say you were just kidding. You don't even have to apologize or say you were wrong. So, we have ultimately sanctioned Mr. Christensen's behavior as generally acceptable.

    It's almost never just one comment that takes people out -- instead, it's a growing acceptance of outrageous and monster-ish attitudes -- perpetuated on tv and radio, on blogs, in newspapers, etc., that eventually produces results.

    It seems I was right that Mr. Christensen did not apologize, and that the reason he did not apologize was because he doesn't think he did anything wrong.

    I understand folks wanting to pretend what just happened didn't actually just happen, but we don't live in a bubble -- people around the nation are suffering miserably, and they're looking for scapegoats, and bikers are one set of scapegoats that make particularly easy targets. To ride in most of America is to experience 'terror mixed with aggression' -- maybe riding in Portland really does allow these types of incidents to be seen as 'no big deal'. It doesn't feel like it down here in the Bay Area, but I hope y'all are right that this act was no big deal.

    What I assume to be the original post is still up here - there is no mention made of what 'the evil cyclist' has done wrong. I'm not sure if erasing it from the Internet is the appropriate decision. Should we erase history? What if we all agree something was 'bad' or 'a mistake'? And what if we don't? In this case, we don't.

    It appears to be the view of TriMet and the general cycling public in Portland that what Mr. Christensen did was, by and large, OK. I believe Mr. Christensen has put us all in danger, even moreso than he put that cyclist in danger that infamous day.

    We don't always get what we want, but we sometimes get what we deserve. Good luck to us all.

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  • dabby July 30, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Once again, this is part of the problem with Tri Met..

    "Fetsch also said Christensen will receive "appropriate discipline" but said specifics of that disciplinary action "is privileged and not releasable."

    What a statement like this says to the public is "We are not going to do anything about this problem"

    I am sure that is not the case,(or is it) but with a supposedly public transportation system, what is needed is for the public to be comfortable either on or around the transportation device.

    Tri Met continually protects the bad driver, shielding from the public the consequences of their actions.

    What needs to be done is to publicize the consequences of their actions so that:

    The driver, and other drivers will realize that these actions will not be tolerated, neither in private nor in public.

    And, so that the public will know that these drivers are being properly dealt with, and can then have a good feeling about supporting and using public transportation.

    Tri Met, (and the union's) actions and comments in regards to driver disciplinary actions only serve to make many of us more weary of bus drivers in general.

    I have fully been over this matter with Tri Met in the past, and once they agree the driver has done wrong, they cease to communicate with you at all.

    On a last note, this driver should be fired, no benefits, no pension, kicked out of the union.

    The statements he has made publicly, and the actions he has taken while driving buses, surely call for his removal.

    Is there not something we, the public who helps pay for Tri Met to operate, can do to keep drivers like this out of buses?

    This guys actions and statements are scary.

    I hope to see him on the street one day....

    Should be a good time.......

    Maybe I will just ride his bus......

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  • wsbob July 30, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    marcus...Christensen...Dan Christensen...not "Christian

    Trimet bus driver Christensen controlled his 'rage' as others have described his response to the allegedly errant cyclist. In fact if there's any truth at all to what the cyclist is said to have done wrong, Christensen saved the cyclists life that day...numerous times...by managing to successfully control his bus from driving over the cyclist after the cyclist repeatedly rode his bike abruptly into the path of the bus.

    If it wasn't this particular, apparently unknown cyclist that rode erratically in front of the bus that day...whose life Christensen and other road users saved, it easily could have been one of many other road user cyclists that abruptly ride their bikes into the path of vehicles much heavier than their own.

    Christensen did not issue a 'fatwa' against this cyclist. Is Christensen a Muslim? Did Christensen even issue a death threat in response to the cyclists actions? Almost certainly 'no'.

    What he did out of frustration with this cyclists' alleged behavior on the road, was to, in an established weblog acknowledged for the heartfelt and humorous thoughts posted there, use a phrase that could be excerpted from that weblog and apart from it, interpreted by some as a death threat.

    If people still want this bus driver to be fired and never drive a bus again, I suppose the potential is there to accomplish that. Those so concerned could proceed to demonstrate...picket Trimet and the driver's house like animal rights demonstrators have done against Oregon Primate Center scientists at their houses.

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  • Matt July 30, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Take the time to write to the Mayor's office and voice your opinion on this matter. How many violent acts are preceded by signals just like this that end up in a press conference where some law enforcement official outlines how "things were missed"? "Ghost Bike Dan" has made verifiable and specific threats against a person that could be any one of us, on any given day. Maybe I took the lane in a drastic maneuver because I was about to get doored. Maybe I'm dodging a cracked out squirrel. (It happens!) Is that the day that GBD decides I should be "crushed under his wheels"? If he was a cop, and he professed his excitement at idea of shooting someone, or if he substituted a race or religion for "cyclist" he would have been terminated immediately. Trimet has already decided to ignore the warning signs to save face in light of recent events.

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  • Velophile in Exile July 30, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Thanks for telling us that we can protest, bob. Very insightful.

    Your anti-bike bias is showing yet again.

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  • Paul Tay July 30, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Yes. I still believe in Jim Jones too. Purple Kool-aid never tasted better. YUM!

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  • Peter Smith July 30, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    I must have missed a bunch of BikePortland posts -- I didn't know about all this one-upsmanship among TriMet bus drivers -- tweeting and blogging and video blogging and chatting while driving and admitting racism in the agency exists and is a good thing and another racist TriMet bus driver being arrested and jailed for plotting to mass murder people.

    holy cow. i know Portland is right next to racist-haven Idaho, but damn....too many openly racist, violence-prone bus drivers in one place for me.

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  • are July 30, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    re comment 21. nowhere does christensen say what the cyclist supposedly did. nowhere does he say "rode erratically" or "rode abruptly into the path" or anything at all except "breathe in, breathe out" and then -- okay, here it is: "interacted with other vehicles." oh, "interacted," is it? well, okay then, kill the guy.

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  • Paul Higgins July 30, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    I was the rider that Christensen was talking about. I was on my way to work. i passed him on the left, going between the bus and vehicles in the left lane. I probably ran a red light too. Dangerous? A little, i suppose. But i reserve my evolutionary right to identify, recognize and respond to threats and danger on my own. I have never, nor do i plan to, work for or belong to an organization which has been responsible for taking human lives. Christensen absolutely cannot say the same thing.

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  • wsbob July 30, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    As I said in my comment #21, the cyclist bus driver Dan Christensen refers to could have been any number of irresponsible road user cyclists that other road users encounter on any given day of the week.

    By the sound of what he's said, Christensen's not going to be allowing his bus to collide with any of them if he can possibly avoid it, even if that includes having to avert the path of his bus from a collision course with one of those cyclists in a maneuver that may have the unfortunate consequence of jerking his passengers around in the bus.

    Is anyone disputing that certain cyclists do sometimes dart erratically and abruptly in front of heavier vehicles than the bicycles they're riding?

    Is anyone disputing that, if the cyclist Christensen refers to in his provocative posting didn't actually operate their bike that way (possibly explaining why C isn't more specific about the details of what the cyclist allegedly did), as a bus driver with years of experience, Dan Christensen has likely seen many examples of other cyclists doing that very thing?

    Christensen could likely have written his provocative posting about numerous such road users he's seen in past experience as a bus driver.

    If some of you really feel this driver is not fit to drive a bus, then you definitel should pursue further, legal efforts to have him dismissed.

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  • wsbob July 30, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Correction: "...then you definitely should pursue further, legal efforts to have him dismissed from his job as bus driver.

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  • SkidMark July 30, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Wow, rant on your blog and the bike lynching mob arrives.I'm so glad I keep my blog bike and other interest focused rather than share my opinions in a candid manner.

    I went back and read his blog a little and he has interactions with bikes making moving violations quite a bit and he never makes any generalized statements about all cyclists. I question the wisdom of any cyclist who for instance runs a stop sign in front of a bus at night with no lights and then when he honks (after he brakes, and part of procedure) the cyclist flips him off.

    Yes,kill this cyclist was out of line, and very inflammatory when taken out of context. I thought that sort of behavior was strictly for slimy lawyers, the Right, Fox News, and Oregon Live.

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  • CaptainKarma July 31, 2010 at 2:35 am

    I dunno; "Kill This Bicyclist" is pretty unequivocal. Wonder if Tri-Met would've hired this driver had he blogged that statement before being hired, and they checked and found it?

    I think he should do public-service hours cleaning tire marks off of sharrows *on Hawthorne*.

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  • Mike July 31, 2010 at 10:56 am

    RE: 20

    It's precisely because TriMet is partially publicly funded that the public has no say. If this were a private company they'd have they'd have the leverage to force him out.

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  • Vance Longwell July 31, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Griffith and Chicken Littles, et al #18 - What, "death-threat"? Seriously. This incident got HOW much attention, and scrutiny? Yet, what do ya know, Christensen hasn't caught a charge, has he? I've read that post a dozen times, and I don't see any death threat. What purpose is served...?

    Bicycle-riders are perfectly behaved, and representing the mode well on all levels. Bicycle riders never cause one, single, problem, everybody loves, and adores them. I don't exist, Christensen doesn't exist, we're just figments of your imagination. Nobody has anything at all bad to report about bicycle riders in this city. Where DO they get this stuff, right? By all means, steady as she goes. Bicycle riders aren't in a community, and are therefore not responsible to any one, for anything, anyway. An indestructible bubble of righteousness envelopes each and every bicycle rider and it's a waste of time for any cyclist to self-inventory, or even so much as consider other people's feelings. When a citizen like Christensen exercises his freedom of speech, he should be immediately censored for it. Because no bicyclist ever, anywhere, has ever misbehaved, made a poor decision, furthered an unpopular agenda, or done anything wrong, at all, ever. We all know this is a problem with 'them' and not bicycle riders. Bicycle riders operate their vehicles in a vacuum, and therefore simply CAN'T be the cause of, or even part of, any problem, complaint, hassle, or just plain pain in the ass.

    Nah. Ignore Dan Christensen. Censor him. Nobody has a problem with bikes, or the agenda, or a few thousand people dictating to hundreds of thousands how we are all going to live, and even think, apparently. I'm sure treating people's interests in such a way won't upset them in the least. Doing this will certainly never lead to something as sophomoric as stifling the debate in an us vs. them miasma, or making bicycle riders unpopular in any way.

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  • Vance Longwell July 31, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Right, and I did a post on my own site about this other kid, and the general sentiment was, meh.

    http://www.thebatt.com/2.8482/bicyclists-are-trying-to-kill-my-truck-1.1183217

    At least TRY to be consistent.

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  • SkidMark July 31, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Captain Karma: just for afew minutes try to forget those 3 unfortunate words and go read his blog, go back a few pages. Try once in your life tobe objective,and not make a snap judgment based on one statement.

    Really,if y'all want a bus driver to be mad at, be mad at the one who hit and killed those pedestrians. Be mad about the way Tri-Met and the union handled and framed that. A blind spot on the FRONT of the bus? WTF GTFO

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  • Marcus Griffith July 31, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Three words? Did you read his post?

    In his original post, Dan Christensen makes SIX different threats against the cyclist's life and TWO additional general threats endorsing vandalism and criminal conduct against the cyclist.

    And Vance, the Humeniuk matter you reference is completely different. It's a oversimplification of a issue that stereotypes cyclists as reckless vehicle operators, but isn't a death threat.

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  • NL July 31, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    I was surprised the driver was disciplined at all. When I complained that a Trimet driver went into the left turn lane solely for the purpose of getting beside me to run me off the road as he came back into the lane of traffic (I had to jump off my bike to avoid being hit) Trimet "reviewed" the videos and their only response to me was that I should not have been on the road.
    Trimet is out of control. There needs to be a citizen's review board.

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  • SkidMark July 31, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I have read it Marcus. Read about 4 or 5 pages of his blog, get some perspective, and stop judging him by one blog post.

    If I ever share the road with him, I will judge him by his actions.

    Out of curiousity, what is Dan Christensen's driving record like? Any bus vs.bike incidents?

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  • SkidMark July 31, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Here let me take some of it out of context:

    "I thought about unleashing my full fury an all bicyclist in Portland but that would not be right. Most of them are good people just trying to get from A to B like the people on my bus. I understand that.

    You see I’m the bus driver who always try’s to leave you six foot of space between us even on pinched up streets .

    I don’t get mad, or honk my horn.

    I followed someone on a bike form 20th and Hawthorn all the way for 40th one Rush hour without a bad word. It’s just the way it is. I would rather have them in front of me where I can keep an eye on them.

    I’m the bus driver who always waves you out front so I can see you rather then having your bike and life out of sight along the side of my bus.

    I alway try to go out of my way to protect bikes above and beyond what is required by law and Trimet."

    "I have thought about it for a while.. deep breathing all the time. Thought about putting my video camera on my bus and editing down a month of driving as proof of what I go through... But to what end? Do I want to be the anti-bicyclist guy?

    No I don’t.."

    "Like I said bicyclist are like everyone people getting from A to B."

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  • wsbob July 31, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    SkidMark...I felt sure that in some of the stories this controversy has prompted, I'd read a note made of Christen's number of years of good driving. Searched around for awhile tonight, but couldn't find it.
    Thought it was 20 years or so.

    In the process of searching though, did happen to get back to the guys weblog, 'Sonnetoptics'. Had to admit his Saturday, July 24 posting 'Unleash Your Inner Duck' gave me some laughs. As people have been saying, it seemed like there is some good stuff on his Trimet Confidential weblog too. Didn't spend enough time there to say for sure.

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  • TonyT August 2, 2010 at 10:07 am

    B freakin S.

    Anything this guys says is noise. Until he can give us an actual account of what the cyclist did, then it's all after-the-fact justification for a pretty straightforward death threat. I think he knows plain and simple, that if he actually tells us what the cyclist did, it would pale in comparison to his call for murder.

    Oh, he'll be on his bike, yeah, that makes it all better. The bike version of "some of my best friends are black." Sort of, hey, I own a dusty bike that I ride once a year at the Bridge Pedal, so OBVIOUSLY I have the best interests of cyclists at heart.

    Whatever.

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  • Tim August 2, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Has anyone considered that the crazy biker may actually be mentally ill? When someone is acting crazy in a car, on a bike or at the street corner, there is a good chance they really are crazy. There have been at least a couple of instances reported in Bike Portland where mental health was a factor. I recall an attempted murder of a cyclist not long ago that involved some serious neurological problems with the driver. How about calling for someone to help get this guy off the road and back in treatment?

    This incident probably has more to do with mental health than bikes and making it a bike issue and calling to kill this rider shows poor judgment. Too poor to be trusted with a bus on the city streets? A bus driver of all people should be familiar with the mentally ill sharing or streets.

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  • rigormrtis August 2, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Many of the cyclists on this site have a greater persecution complex than born-again christians.

    *Not every driver is out to "get you".

    *Not every driver hates bikes.

    *Not every cyclist is an angel who never breaks laws.

    *Not every cyclist is a douche who always breaks laws.

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  • spare_wheel August 2, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    "Until he can give us an actual account of what the cyclist did, then it's all after-the-fact justification for a pretty straightforward death threat."

    Incitement to violence is not a "straightforward" death threat. Christensen repeatedly urged others to kill a cyclist.

    I do agree that the reluctance to spell out what this cyclist supposedly did is more than suspect. I wonder if any of Chrstensen's apologists have considered that the fault was not entirely with the cyclist.

    A few years ago a cyclist was assaulted after pulling in front of a trimet bus and haranguing the bus operator for unsafe driving. I sympathize entirely with this kind of direct action.

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  • spare_wheel August 2, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    "considered that the fault might not be entirely with the cyclist."

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  • SkidMark August 2, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    I'll take myself out of context "Yes, kill this cyclist was out of line, and very inflammatory". How is that apologist?

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  • SkidMark August 2, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    I can't believe you have the audacity to compare Randy Albright's incident with the douchebag playing chicken with a bus.

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  • Vance Longwell August 3, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Griffith #35 - Yeah, maybe. Except for the whole part where the opposite of what you said is true.

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  • Paul Johnson August 3, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Wow, this news is as disappointing as the photograph on the masthead showing a cyclist illegally operating on a sidewalk to travel against traffic on a one-way street.

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  • SkidMark August 3, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Really Paul? Are you sure that section of sidewalk is in a part of Portland where sidewalk riding is prohibited?

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  • Velophile in Exile August 3, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    My guess is Paul is not sure but never lets the facts get in the way of some good bike-hate.

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  • spare_wheel August 3, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    "I can't believe you have the audacity to compare Randy Albright's incident with the douchebag playing chicken with a bus."

    I have no clue what this "douchebag" did.

    But I do know that Christensen is angry and unstable. IMO, this makes it possible that he imagined and/or exaggerated the entire interaction.

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  • Paul Johnson August 3, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    SkidMark: Given that bicycles are vehicles, and vehicles aren't allowed to operate on sidewalks except in very limited circumstances that are generally well-posted with signage, yes.

    Velophile: It's not bike hate, I'm car-free and get around primarily by bike. I hate idiots. Don't be an idiot.

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  • Velophile in Exile August 4, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Paul, I'm the idiot? You are wrong about the bike rider on the masthead riding illegally. Wrong.

    Under Oregon law, riding on the sidewalk is legal unless it is specifically prohibited by a municipal code. Portland is a great example: The City code sets out specific sidewalks (downtown) where riding is prohibited; otherwise, it is allowed.

    Do you know this photo is in one of the areas where sidewalk riding is prohibited? No, you do not.

    I don't think that you accusing someone of riding illegally without understanding the relevant law or facts necessarily makes you an idiot, but you might want to develop a more comprehensive anti-idiot policy that involves looking in the mirror occasionally.

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  • SkidMark August 4, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Some people blow off steam by yelling or by writing down their rants. Others just punch you in the face. There is a difference. Being pissed off and assaulting people are two separate things. One does not necessarily lead to the other, and I am willing to bet that the first one often prevents the other from occuring.

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  • Velophile in Exile August 4, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Either that or the incitement to violence is indicative of a greater propensity to engage in assault than the average person who doesn't write about wanting to see people killed. That would be the conclusion if, you know, you used logic.

    If/when this guy does go off on someone, that will be the legal theory that will prove TriMet's negligence in letting this guy continue to drive. And we, the taxpayers, will foot the bill for that foolishness.

    We don't need this guy driving for a living. Plenty of other jobs out there (ha, ha) and plenty of other people who can drive a bus while resisting the urge to incite violence against others.

    Why take the risk?

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  • SkidMark August 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Is that what you do, read something and then go out and do whatever you read told you to do? If what you were saying was true than everyone who reads bikeportland would sell their car and bike everywhere.

    He didn't go off on anyone, he didn't let it effect his driving or his attitude towards cyclists in general. He wrote a blog, the smart thing would have been to write something like that as a private diary, maybe email it to some friends for feedback.

    I suppose we should lock up the people who write the TV series Dexter, because obviously they are potential serial killers, just look at what they write.

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  • Velophile in Exile August 4, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    How do you know he didn't let it affect his driving? You don't.

    Incitement of illegal behavior is a crime for a reason. Equating that to everybody doing what they read is silly and you know that.

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  • Paul Johnson August 4, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    @57: So quit inciting illegal behavior by suggesting vehicles are allowed to operate on sidewalks, or cite the part of the ORS that specifically allows the practice.

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  • Velophile in Exile August 4, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Now I need to do your homework for you? Please.

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  • Marcus Griffith August 4, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Oh, the age of Google makes ignorance a person choice..

    Please note 814.410(2). For ease of reference all of 814.410 is included below.

    814.410: Unsafe operation of bicycle on sidewalk; penalty.

    (1) A person commits the offense of unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk if the person does any of the following

    (a) Operates the bicycle so as to suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and move into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
    (b) Operates a bicycle upon a sidewalk and does not give an audible warning before overtaking and passing a pedestrian and does not yield the right of way to all pedestrians on the sidewalk.
    (c) Operates a bicycle on a sidewalk in a careless manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.
    (d) Operates the bicycle at a speed greater than an ordinary walk when approaching or entering a crosswalk, approaching or crossing a driveway or crossing a curb cut or pedestrian ramp and a motor vehicle is approaching the crosswalk, driveway, curb cut or pedestrian ramp. This paragraph does not require reduced speeds for bicycles at places on sidewalks or other pedestrian ways other than places where the path for pedestrians or bicycle traffic approaches or crosses that for motor vehicle traffic.
    (e) Operates an electric assisted bicycle on a sidewalk.

    (2) Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, a bicyclist on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.

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  • Paul Johnson August 4, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    @59: You're the one trying to argue that driving on the sidewalk is legal. Prove it.

    @60: That law never applies because nothing in the ORS explicitly permits driving on the sidewalk.

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  • Marcus Griffith August 4, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    (2) Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, a bicyclist on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.

    The above gives the same rights and duties of a pedestrian to a bicyclist UNLESS another law prohiits (ie city codes ect). So, unless PAUL JOHNSON can say where the banner picture was taken and show that law prohibits bike son side walk; his weird statements about illegal activity are unfounded. Period.

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  • wsbob August 4, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Paul ...check out this little article by Ray Thomas, bike lawyer:

    Bicycle, Sidewalks and the Law By Ray Thomas, bike lawyer

    It it, you'll find the following remarks, and more:

    "...Portland Ordinance 16.70.320E prohibits bicyclists from riding on sidewalks in the property bounded by and including S.W. Jefferson St., Front Avenue, N.W. Hoyt Street and 13th Avenue, unless "to avoid a traffic hazard in the immediate area." ..." Ray Thomas, bike lawyer

    If you choose not to believe Thomas, you can search out the relevant Portland city ordinance yourself. Easy enough to do...just takes a little time and concentration.

    From your comment #61: "... driving on the sidewalk is legal. ". Some people whimsically refer to the operation of their bikes as 'driving', which would certainly be legal in much of Portland outside of the areas mentioned in the excerpt from Thomas's article.

    By the way, editor maus has a bikeportland page with a whole list of Oregon bike laws:

    Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) Pertaining to Bicycles/ courtesy of bikeportland

    I don't know the location depicted in the picture being referred to, in the bikeportland masthead the last few days, of a cyclist rolling down a sidewalk, but the location looks to be unique on a number of counts. Someone likely knows exactly where that is...maus, if no one else. It could very possibly be legal for a bike to be ridden there.

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  • Paul Johnson August 4, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    801.026. Bicycles are subject to the vehicle code.

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  • Paul Johnson August 4, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Until the legislature does something to change 801.026, bicycles are vehicles, vehicles can't drive on sidewalks.

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  • wsbob August 5, 2010 at 1:26 am

    "... vehicles can't drive on sidewalks. ..." paul johnson

    If the vehicle happens to be a bicycle, they certainly can.

    I'm trying to understand why you'd cite 801.026 as somehow related to the point you're trying to make. Maybe you'd like to offer an explanation for anybody else that's still reading this thread. That statute seems to deal with exceptions from the vehicle code that construction and service vehicles are granted. Doesn't have anything to do with precluding the legal right for a bike to be ridden on the sidewalk.

    Here's a link to that ORS statute:

    801.026
    General exemptions, exceptions/Oregon Laws.org

    Specifically for you Paul, check out subsection (6) of 801.026, the statute you cited to claim "...bicycles are vehicles, vehicles can't drive on sidewalks....".

    What's it say?

    "...(6) Devices that are powered exclusively by human power are not subject to those provisions of the vehicle code that relate to vehicles. Notwithstanding this subsection, bicycles are generally subject to the vehicle code as provided under ORS 814.400 (Application of vehicle laws to bicycles) .

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  • Daniel Miles August 5, 2010 at 11:47 am

    So, someone made a death-threat that was specific, targeted, actionable and motivated. It was speech that constituted clear and present danger, and it is therefore not protected under the first amendment. And, here's where my legal understanding gets fuzzy, that speech may even have been a violation of US criminal code.

    Why was he not charged, does anybody know?

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  • Velophile in Exile August 5, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    It was not a threat within the legal definition because he exhorted others to kill that person whose bike riding he did not like.

    It was possibly incitement of violence, but under Chaplinsky the statement has to be likely to cause an immediate breach of peace.

    That element is arguable given how much anger some people feel toward people riding bikes.

    But if you're asking why something like this is not charged, you probably need to understand the broader perspective of riding in Portland.

    There are a variety of less serious traffic infractions and crimes committed against bicyclists ever day in Portland that go uninvestigated.

    For example, the PPB never enforces any of the laws related to bike lanes and often cites people riding bicycles who are not breaking the law (unsafe passenger, taking the lane, etc).

    Several PPB officers are known "go after" people riding bikes at the expense of enforcing other traffic laws. Most of these guys are on motorcycles and they hate messengers.

    A few Portlanders have been killed by motorists who violated the rule against right-hooks. The PPB never even bothered to cite those motorists.

    The list goes on and on. Even if this did meet the definition of a crime, the PPB and the Multnomah Co DA wouldn't life a finger to help a bicyclist.

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  • Marcus Griffith August 5, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Seems to fit the scope of harassment.

    § 166.065: Harassment
    (1) A person commits the crime of harassment if the person intentionally:

    c) Subjects another to alarm by conveying a telephonic, electronic or written threat to inflict serious physical injury on that person or to commit a felony involving the person or property of that person or any member of that person’s family, which threat reasonably would be expected to cause alarm.

    (5) As used in this section, "electronic threat" means a threat conveyed by electronic mail, the Internet, a telephone text message or any other transmission of information by wire, radio, optical cable, cellular system, electromagnetic system or other similar means.

    (https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/166.065.html)

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  • Velophile in Exile August 5, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    It is not harassment, because there is no threat. Legally, a threat is "I will..." or "I am going to..." That is not what this tool said.

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  • wsbob August 5, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Marcus, you and some others may be finding that what Christensen did "Seems to fit the scope of harassment. ...", but so far at least, these other guys maus mentioned in his earlier story on this controversy, apparently don't find that Christensen's actions fit the scope of harassment, or any other crime for that matter:

    "... TriMet has also referred the issue to the police and the District Attorney's office. ..." maus/bikeportland

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

    At least, the police haven't sought to arrest him and the DA hasn't come out and filed charges against the bus driver/blogger. And Trimet has him back in the bus driver's seat.

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