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On Rock Creek Road, repeated harassment galvanizes the community

Posted by on August 19th, 2011 at 11:39 am

“It’s clear to me he has aggressive intentions and who knows what will happen next time I’m riding (or anyone else) on that road… Point is that I felt threatened and I’m sure I’m not the only one out there.”
— Brianna Walle

A man who lives on a narrow rural road in the foothills leading up to Skyline Blvd just north of the Helvetia area has become a lightning rod for community activism. People accuse him of repeated aggressive behaviors while driving his pickup near people riding bicycles, and some are concerned that it’s only a matter of time before his alleged verbal aggression and menacing actions lead to someone getting hurt.

It’s common for people on bike-related email lists to share experiences they’ve had while riding; but this one was different. The person accused of the aggressive (and illegal) behavior has been publicly identified as Scott Wheeler, a man who has written letters to his neighborhood newsletter about his interpretation of Oregon traffic law (he maintains that bicycles must pull off the road when a motor vehicle is trying to pass), and he has even filed a complaint with the Oregon State Bar against noted bike lawyer Ray Thomas for allegedly “circulating misleading legal information to the public.”

It started with a message from Portlander Brianna Walle to the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association email list on Monday. Walle’s email (forwarded to the list by OBRA Executive Director Kenji Sugahara) began with, “Be careful riding on NW Rock Creek Road.”

Walle went on to describe her experience of being “tailed” and honked at aggressively while riding down the hilly, narrow road that’s very popular for bicycling…

“I pulled to the far edge (borderline gravel) and signaled to pass (no on-coming traffic and at this point we were on a flat). He would not pass so I kept riding a SLOW pace (5 mph) until he felt comfortable to pass. He continued to honk and started creeping up on my back wheel. At this point, I do not know what he wants and I’m freaking out.

So I pull over into ditch/gravel and expected him to stop and explain what’s going on. He revs up and blasts past me w/in inches of my face. That freaked me out.”

Walle did the same ride last Thursday and said the same guy “crept up” on her and started “aggressive honking” again. This time, once the man finally passed, he and Walle stopped and spoke with each other…

“He started yelling out some statute… “You are a slower moving vehicle and MUST pull over to side of road since you are slower than traffic! I can’t pass you on a double line.” As I started to explain my reasoning, he drove off.”

This time around, Walle got his license plate number and called the police. She has since shared his home address, name, license plate number, and a description of his vehicle (a red Toyota Tundra sometimes towing a trailer) with the OBRA list with the intent to “inform our community.”

“It’s clear to me he has aggressive intentions and who knows what will happen next time I’m riding (or anyone else) on that road,” Walle wrote, “Point is that I felt threatened and I’m sure I’m not the only one out there.”

She’s not. Other people have chimed in with similar experiences.

Steve Holmes wrote that, “I have also ran into this guy on more than one occasion, my wife on two occasions.” Holmes says, “His latest tactic is to sit on the bike wheel and blare his horn for as long as he feels or you go into the ditch.”

Another message was posted by Joe Tysoe. “I had a run in with the same driver on Monday night on NW Cornelius Pass and Skyline,” he wrote, “He tailed me closely… while I hugged the white line honking at me continuously… I got off my bike at the church and he began reciting the ORS…” (Tysoe says the vehicle and physical description of the driver matched with Walle’s account.)

Walle’s email has sparked a discussion about Oregon traffic law, road rage, and how the community should respond to this situation. It also sparked some citizen sleuthing that has uncovered much more about

One respondent pointed out a letter back in April published in the Skyline Ridge neighborhood association newsletter titled, “Bicyclists Should Obey Traffic Laws.” The letter, written by Scott Wheeler, shared his interpretation of ORS 811.425. Wheeler wrote that he feels the law means a “bicycle must pull off the roadway when being overtaken by a vehicle in that same lane if it is traveling slower than the speed limit.” Wheeler added that compliance with that law by the “bicycling community” would, “greatly reduce the chances of road rage, potential injury, and would make our roadways safer in general.”

Lawyer Ray Thomas
(Photo © J. Maus)

The problem is that people on bicycles are not subject to Oregon’s slower moving vehicle law, at least according to lawyer Ray Thomas, a noted expert on bike law. On his website, Thomas has attempted to debunked Wheeler’s interpretation of the law. Thomas doesn’t feel the law applies to bicycle operators, in part because it uses the term vehicle “drivers” not “riders.”

It’s a stand that has gotten Wheeler’s attention.

Wheeler filed a complaint against Thomas with the Oregon State Bar on June 1st, 2011. According to the complaint, Wheeler asked the OSB to censure Thomas for “circulating misinformation” to the public. Wheeler requested that the OSB shut down Thomas’ website, remove two articles, and that Thomas’ firm pay for a $3 million educational campaign to “counteract the effects of a decade of misinformation on their website.”

Wheeler’s complaint was denied by the OSB. “We find no professional misconduct,” wrote OSB Assistant General Council Scott Morrill on June 7th, “we will take no further action on this matter.” The OSB’s says Thomas’ articles are his opinion and not subject to bar regulation.

In a response letter on June 22nd, Wheeler asked for review of the bar’s decision, stating that Thomas’ legal opinions are “circulated through the bicycling community.” Wheeler attached a print-out of this thread from the BikePortland Forums.

Wheeler’s appeal is pending.

Thomas says that if Wheeler is endangering people on the road, “our community needs to use lawful means to obtain law enforcement assistance before he hurts someone.” Thomas is no stranger to this situation. Back in 2008, he documented the infamous “Red pickup guy” who had been harassing riders in West Salem. That man was ultimately caught and had his license revoked after he buzzed someone with his side view mirror that just happened to be a deputy sheriff who was directing traffic around a wildfire. The deputy reportedly checked the man’s record and noted a history of menacing and roadway harassment.

Other posts to the OBRA email list make it clear that Mr. Wheeler isn’t the only resident who harbors disdain for people riding bicycles on nearby roads. One woman, Lynne Cuevas, who rides and lives in the area relayed a recent conversation with neighbors about the issue. The conversation left her very shook up after the neighbors made it clear they do not feel people on bicycles belong on the roads. “Let me be clear here,” Cuevas shared, “Do not ride up there alone, these people are ready to hurt you. Of course it will be an accident. Do not challenge them. They are highly pissed and riding there is like bringing a knife to a gun fight.”

Many people have now turned to toward working on a solution.

The discussion on the OBRA list has led to talks of a bicycle riders paying for an official “Adopt-a-Road” sign in the area where Wheeler lives. Others feel it’s time to initiate the citizen citation process and have Wheeler cited for Menacing and possible other violations. Other ideas that have been shared include picketing in front of Wheeler’s home, new “Share the Road” signage, and even a community meeting, “for individuals to express their grievances and suggest directions for improvement.”

Susan Peithman, who works on Washington County issues as an advocate with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance has also chimed in. She has laid out several short, near, and long-term solutions to deal with the issue of bikes and cars on narrow rural roads.

The Portland Police Bureau says they could confront Wheeler with a home visit, but that they’d need to investigate the case (including an interview of Ms. Walle) and have probable cause that he has broken a law. According to Lt. Eric Schober, they’ve hired a new bicycle liaison officer. I think this is a perfect case where that position could come in handy.

Mr. Wheeler might be the exception in terms of his actions around this issue; but, he’s far from alone in thinking that people on bikes simply don’t belong on narrow, rural roads. Whether it’s Sauvie Island, West Union, Forest Grove, Skyline, or any of the other popular rural riding areas around Portland, this is an issue crying out for progress and resolution. Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later.

Stay tuned.

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Comments
  • 9watts August 19, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Entitlement.
    Anger + driving car = watch out.

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  • Nick August 19, 2011 at 11:50 am

    He’s perfectly entitled to have an opinion about the law, but aggressive behavior like that is intolerable. Tailgating a bike in a motor vehicle should be considered intimidation and assault with a deadly weapon.

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    • sore bore August 19, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      NIck.. I was under the impression that other states have a “3 citizens report & your out” type of law for license revocation due to vehicular harassment. Do you or any one here have any knowledge of Oregon statutes pertaining to this type of behavior?

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    • eric August 20, 2011 at 8:55 am

      it’s not an opinion. he’s redefining by leaving out key elements

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  • Brad August 19, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Should you run into this guy, or any aggressive driver like this, get a plate number and a vehicle description and call 911 to report a drunk driver. The police respond in a hurry to those calls. That’s the policy of the club that I ride with.

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    • Paul August 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      I’ve had to do this before on a state highway once in the mountains near Sisters after tailing a car that was swerving into the dirt, past the shoulder. They sent someone VERY quickly and pulled him over. The trooper came back and told me that everything is okay, and that in fact he wasn’t drunk, just tired and falling asleep. Me: uh, not okay, but thanks for getting there so quickly. :)

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    • chad b August 22, 2011 at 11:22 am

      speaking of entitlement….

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  • justin August 19, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Agree, I always think that people with cars that attempt to intimidate or scare cyclists should be charged with assault (yeah guy who flipped me off yesterday and tried to buzz my tire but wasn’t man enough to step out of his car when I cordially invited him to after, talking to you and your ilk)

    It’s VERY apparent that Scott Wheeler is going to cause someone injury or worse in the future, I just hope for once that the law can do something proactive before that happens.

    I wonder if there’s a way to get information out about his place of work/having people boycott that as well. Monetary issues always get attention.

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  • GlowBoy August 19, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    How has this guy NOT been at least charged with Menacing yet? This guy has clearly committed prosecutable crimes.

    Also, if he’s gone to this amount of trouble to publicly harass and intimidate others, he’s fair game for picketing: publish his address!

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    • justin August 19, 2011 at 12:20 pm

      Someone on the OBRA mailing list that experienced him has his address as

      [Address deleted--- JM]

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      • Perry Hunter August 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm

        …and that allegation should be removed right away. Sorry, what if that address is incorrect?

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        • justin August 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm

          Well seeing as nobody is suggesting a lynch mob I guess people would be picketing on the right street but the wrong house, which doesn’t seem like a bad idea given the interviews from others in that neighborhood :/ I guess that address could be wrong, but seeing as the individual in question watched him pull into the driveway and felt positive enough about it that it’s what they reported to the authorities…

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          • thefuture August 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm

            I strongly oppose his address being posted on this blog.

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          • Perry Hunter August 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm

            …and the address turns out to be a business where he aparrently works.

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      • wsbob August 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm

        Publishing this guy’s alleged address serves no constructive purpose I can think of, at least not at this time. There’s also no point in doing things that would possibly antagonize or encourage him to do even more kinds of strange behavior. I’d say the address should definitely come down.

        It sounds like it’s time for a home visit by someone from the PD or the county mental health department.

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        • q`Tzal August 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm

          wsbob
          Publishing this guy’s alleged address serves no constructive purpose I can think of, at least not at this time. There’s also no point in doing things that would possibly antagonize or encourage him to do even more kinds of strange behavior. I’d say the address should definitely come down.
          It sounds like it’s time for a home visit by someone from the PD or the county mental health department.

          On the contrary:
          enraging this guy may get him to do something stupid enough to leave behind evidence that will stick, evidence that will get him arrested, prosecuted and hopefully punished.
          While it can reasonably be countered that this will increase the likelihood that someone will die from this incitement (and I agree) the simple fact of the matter is that someone will be killed by his behavior at some point.
          If being enraged removes his presence of mind to check for witnesses and not leave evidence not only will it ensure that he won’t do it again but his successful prosecution will serve as a warning to other troglodytic drivers that they need to behave as well.

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          • Kevin August 20, 2011 at 5:51 pm

            So your solution is to kick the tiger and see if he mauls you to death. Wow, and I thought Darwinism was dead.

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  • 9watts August 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    One wonders what exactly he is in such a hurry about.

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  • Thom Schoenborn August 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Were you able to reach Mr. Wheeler for an interview?

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  • Andrew Holtz August 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I hope the responses will be firm in cases where people act in a way that could injure or kill… while also engaging with the wider community to address the more common misunderstanding and antipathy some people direct towards those they consider as different. The real problem is the inadequate infrastructure. We need roads that make it easier for everyone to be safe together… but until we get those improvements, we’ll have to develop better communication and encourage some patience.

    As an aside, I wonder if this person would apply consistent logic and instruct slower moving motor vehicles to pull over to allow faster cyclists to pass? Nah, probably not.

    Here’s one case I recorded, go to 7:45 of this video to see a truck improperly pulling out in front of me and then impeding my way as I was traveling right at the speed limit on NW Cornell recently: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dKUfir5IZA

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    • wsbob August 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      “…The real problem is the inadequate infrastructure. We need roads that make it easier for everyone to be safe together… but until we get those improvements, we’ll have to develop better communication and encourage some patience. …” Andrew Holtz

      Good thoughts, but fact is, Rock Creek road isn’t likely to be widened or get a bike lane, or anything like that. RC is just a little old country road, which is a big part of its appeal. One rather short section winds down a hollow. Very scenic. There’s no reason that people riding bikes through there, and people needing to drive the road can’t manage a little give and take to keep the experience positive and enjoyable for everyone.

      If big pelotons are regularly cruising Rock Creek Road, I can see that maybe being a problem. Individual riders, two, maybe three person groups on occasion? Shouldn’t be a problem.

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      • no fan of hypocrasy August 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm

        Substitue ‘some trails in Forest park’ for ‘Rock Creek road’ in your sentence and you might start to recognize hypocrisy.

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        • wsbob August 19, 2011 at 7:23 pm

          No such substitution is in order. It sounds as though you’re attempting to equate roads with trails. Those are two entirely different things with accordingly different ideas and regulations for their use.

          It remains to be seen whether any additional road user give and take arrangement, for Rock Creek Road is called for beyond what already naturally exists. It really hasn’t yet been determined that people riding bikes on the road have been unreasonable in their use of the road according to the law, or even visitor etiquette.

          First thing then, is to somehow find out whether, if at all, the person responsible for the harassing behavior, has any legitimate beef whatsoever.

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  • GlowBoy August 19, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    “Tailgating a bike in a motor vehicle should be considered intimidation and assault with a deadly weapon.” – Nick

    It is. ORS 163.190 states, “A person commits the crime of menacing if by word or conduct the person intentionally attempts to place another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury.”

    ORS 163.195 states, “A person commits the crime of recklessly endangering another person if the person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.”

    Both are Class A Misdemeanors.

    By the way, Washington County does appear to take such crimes seriously. A couple years ago I had someone commit this kind of aggressive tailgating against me while I was driving. Let’s just say that the miscreant got a personal visit from a sheriff’s deputy the next day.

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    • Natalie August 19, 2011 at 7:23 pm

      Glad to hear you had success with that tactic. Here’s to hoping that the police take this equally as seriously… Though I doubt it, unfortunately.

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  • jeff August 19, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    nice, this guy is harassing and endangering both men and women on ‘his’ road. classy stuff.
    why doesn’t the PPB just interview who they have to and PLEASE go speak with this a-hole.

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  • Allan Folz August 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, there’s something about our roads that brings out the kindergartner/mall-cop in certain people.

    It’s a litmus test for people and how they handle “the rules.” Some folks understand rules as a set of norms for getting along smoothly, the spirit is more important than the letter. Other people just cannot abide even witnessing somebody else breaking The Rules. “That’s no fair!” they exclaim like a chided 5 y.o.

    I also think in certain segments while all our other human rights are being trampled, groped, or sold-out, we still have the proverbial _Right_ of Way — “I’m being screwed coming and going by huge corporations and big govt, but I still have my traffic rights and this peon in front of me is violating them.”

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  • El Biciclero August 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Someone should remind Mr. Wheeler that even if he is correct in his interp. of the Slow-Moving Vehicle statutes, the law clearly states that before anyone is obligated to pull over to allow passing, there must be a safe place to do so. I don’t think the ditch counts as a safe pull-out. Maybe Mr. Wheeler would like to pay to have some paved bike pull-out areas or “passing lanes” installed on “his” road. Until then, he is both legally and morally obligated to not menace people with his vehicle.

    On a related note, I see from the post that it appears Mr. Wheeler’s interpretation of the law is also that he can’t edge over a solid yellow center line to pass a cyclist. Is that really true? Would his problem be solved with an explicit exception to allow this?

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    • JF August 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      Exactly! There are not and safe places to pull over.

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    • Matt August 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm

      I believe you can cross a solid line to pass a “slow moving vehicle.”

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      • Natalie August 19, 2011 at 7:29 pm

        Let’s not fool ourselves. This guy doesn’t give two cents about the law–he’s using its an excuse to go on a public, violent tirade. If he loved the law so freaking much, he wouldn’t be breaking it by intimidating cyclists. This bully needs a serious intervention.

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    • Otto August 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      It seems that his “interpretation” of the law would require cyclists to stop all the time and that would make cycling impossible, which is probably his delusional goal.

      I’ve been supportive of the Helvetia area’s fight to stop Hillsboro’s annexation of land north of 26, but the more I read about stuff like this the less sympathetic I get.

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  • q`Tzal August 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Police need to deal with this guy’s rage from the stand point of public safety.

    I don’t mean the safety of us, the cyclists, but him the #%$&#!$#.
    This issue is getting a wider venue on BikePortland and the driver’s antics will become public knowledge to more and more people.
    There are an increasing number of cyclists out there.
    Just as a matter of pure statistics the odds are increasing daily that some angry cyclist out there is going to show up with a firearm and deal with this guy permanently.

    Not me, though I won’t shed a tear for society’s loss of a freakish waste of carbon like him.
    I’m mainly worried about collateral damage and loss of income to his family and children when someone finally decides to end him.

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  • wsbob August 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    If this guy in the pickup…presumably, Scott Wheeler, as in “…The letter, written by Scott Wheeler…”, is persistently and for sustained periods of time, tailgating and blowing his vehicle horn when he comes up behind people riding bikes, he’s not simply indicating a need to pass the person on the bike…he’s harassing them.

    Chance encounters on the road with people riding bikes also aren’t the place to act according to a misunderstood interpretation of the law, that assumes any person riding a bike on the road has to abide by the same specifications applying to tractors pulling farm equipment.

    Wheeler’s ability to refer to the law, read it and derive some convoluted meaning from it, file lawsuits and appeals, is something to marvel at.

    Ten years or so ago, I used to fairly regularly ride out Skyline and down Rock Creek Rd, by myself, not with a group. Loved the ride, never had a problem, ever…with a driver on the road. Always a wonderful quiet ride. . Maybe this guy moved in since then. I’d still take the ride.

    Actually, there’s not many residences along the length of the road, so it’s hard to imagine there would be many people that would be objecting to people riding bikes here.

    It’s important to know if big groups of bikes, pelotons so to speak, have been riding Rock Creek, and whether this is part of the situation Wheeler and other people driving this road have been encountering. Passing individual riders or two, maybe three, shouldn’t be much of a problem on Rock Creek, but a big group, five and more could actually be as difficult to pass as big, wide farm equipment.

    Faced with such a group, Wheeler might be justified to expect some kind of concession on the part of such riders, but that situation wouldn’t justify the extent of threatening ‘on the road actions’ he’s allegedly taken.

    The remarks of Lynne Cuevas, cited in this bikeportland story as a resident and rider in the Rock Creek area, have fellow resident road users sounding like a lot of psychotic rednecks as depicted in movies…Deliverance, or Easy Rider. Seems an extreme conclusion, but if residents are indulging in a bit of self righteous fantasy along those lines, it’s certainly time for people to get out to Rock Creek and resolve issues.

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  • A.K. August 19, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Wow, that is scary. I just road Rock Creek road the other week for the very first time and loved it, and I think I only saw one or two cars the entire time I was on the road.

    It’s really too bad that guy can’t just go around the cyclist and get on with his life. If he’s in such a hurry, why would he sit there and waste his time harassing them? What would he do if it was a slow-moving car or piece of farm equipment?

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  • Tourbiker August 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Right Wrong Or confused….trying to intimidate me with your 3-7,000lbs truck is going bring out a side of me I reserve for schoolyard bully’s

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  • 9watts August 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    A variant of this:
    “Wheeler wrote that he feels the law means a ‘bicycle must pull off the roadway when being overtaken by a vehicle in that same lane if it is traveling slower than the speed limit.’”

    is I think held by many people driving cars. That is, the speed limit is really understood to be a minimum. My grandmother used to wag her finger at me about driving 45 on the freeway, back when the speed limit was 55.

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    • John Lascurettes August 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      Indeed, it is a Maximum Speed Limit, not a minimum speed limit.

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      • MIddle of the Road Guy August 20, 2011 at 9:34 am

        You can be ticketed for driving too slow if it causes an unsafe situation.

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        • 9watts August 20, 2011 at 9:48 am

          Yeah, I know. But the larger issue to which I was speaking is only indirectly connected to that–it is speed entitlement, a reflection that folks (mostly but not only in cars) have gotten used to being in such a hurry that anyone or anything that impedes that is perceived as an affront. The ‘ticketed for driving too slow’ idea is one derivative of that.

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  • Todd Boulanger August 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    What will likely end this issue before someone gets hurt/ killed is that frequent riders (especially group rides) must carry small digital movie cameras and catch him (or other like minded drivers) in the act of harassment.

    Or perhaps the police could ride a moving ‘sting’ dressed as bike riders on a ride.

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    • q`Tzal August 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm

      What will it take for that be accepted in a court of law as evidence?

      Suppose a group of cyclists encounter this guy or someone like him.
      Suppose that he does something that is illegal or injurious that so enrages a cyclist that they scratch the paint job on his vehicle.
      The police show up and the only evidence they see of a crime is the auto’s body damage; police ticket the cyclist.

      If you find yourself a defendant, or a biased witness, opposite the attorney of a raging cager how will we be able to ensure that any video we take is accepted by the court as unimpeachable TRUTH rather than doctored or fabricated video evidence?

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  • bicycleredux August 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    even if a body disagrees with another persons interpretation of the law, it doesn’t give them the right to endanger them.

    if you don’t think pedestrians should be able to cross arterial streets outside of crosswalks, you should still stop for them as they cross. if you don’t think slow farm equiptment, or big trucks should be allowed to travel at speeds well under the speed limit, then you are still morally obligated to refrain from tailgating them.

    we reduce people to objects so that we can justify treating them with disrespect. soldiers in war do the same thing… it makes the enemy easier to kill if the are somehow less than human.

    laws regarding these actions help, but seeing ourselves as interconnected is key to overcoming unnecessary risk of accident/harm.

    perhaps this gentleman should have his license suspended for 3 months and be required to perform community service in an e.r. that treats victims of avoidable accidents.

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  • Steve B August 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I’ve heard a somefolks chime in to say why an LA-inspired anti-harassment law wouldn’t be appropriate in Portland. Considering my own encounters with irresponsible people in cars threatening my life while I’m trying to get to work, I think we should seriously pursue it here in Portland first and then statewide.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/21/local/la-me-bicycle-law-20110721

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    • Steve B August 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      and actually, it would be great to see it go into effect for all road users, including drivers.

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    • Spiffy August 19, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      it’s already illegal…

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      • Steve B August 19, 2011 at 7:46 pm

        Interesting, care to share something from ORS or city ordinance on this?

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  • JR-eh August 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    He should read all the other statutes. ORS 811.420(3)(b) allows for passing a person a on a bike in a no passing zone. Anyone menaces me with their truck and I’m not calling the police, I’m calling the coroner. Lighten up or you only attract hostility.
    And get off my lawn.

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    • Allan August 19, 2011 at 1:43 pm

      I was going to say this… thanks for digging up the ORS

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    • wsbob August 19, 2011 at 2:50 pm

      Unfortunately, the wording of that statute is vague in terms of its application to motor vehicles passing bikes in no passing zones. The relevant section:

      “…(b) When an obstruction or condition exists making it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the roadway provided that a driver doing so shall yield the right of way to all vehicles traveling in the proper direction upon the unobstructed portion of the roadway within a distance that would constitute an immediate hazard. …”

      …and, the Oregon Driver’s Manual doesn’t include any reference to the ORS statute. Pages 27 and 44 merely state in simple terms that the double yellow line isn’t to be crossed for passing. Some clarification is in order, for everyone’s sake.

      Rock Creek Rd has its curves and hills, but places to pass a single bike on the road aren’t infrequent. In view of that, I wouldn’t tend to think Wheeler is being reasonable in his expectation about people on bikes always needing to completely pull off the road where a double yellow line is present and a following vehicle is wanting to pass. To get a better sense though, of the type of riding that resident road users are observing and experiencing out on Rock Creek, someone, should try talk with him and other residents with objections to people on bikes riding the road.

      Myself, I wouldn’t probably hold a person behind me, driving a motor vehicle, up for more than 30-40 seconds. I’d probably just slow down and take the nearest available safe place to pull off. This can be the easiest and quickest way to get rid of anxious road users. If they aren’t patient and immediately commence to badgering, harassing behavior, which I’ve only had an experience with about once…6 months ago on Watson out in Beaverton…then I tend to be more cautious and slower in finding a safe place to pull over; the hand stop signal…followed by the hand turn signal…takes a while.

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  • John Mulvey August 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    While I understand that Mr. Wheeler is ultimately responsible for his own behavior, I can’t help placing some of the blame on The Oregonian, which has consistently covered bicycling issues with a disdainful tone and violent imagery.

    Mentally imbalanced people like Mr. Wheeler are often looking for a scapegoat, and irresponsible rhetoric by The Oregonian delivers to such people a ready target at which to direct their rage.

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    • Oliver August 19, 2011 at 2:27 pm

      You think the O’s bad, spend some time listening to KXL, or on some of the weirder more violent blogs.

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  • justin August 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    What’s sad is if you held someone at gunpoint for a few minutes but never pulled the trigger but citing some personal misinterpretation of a law that gives you the right to point said gun at someone the police would respond w/in seconds. However if your gunpoint is your bumper….

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  • Spiffy August 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    people like that are the reason I don’t own a gun…

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    • was carless August 19, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      ditto. There would be a lot of dead people.

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    • Rupert August 22, 2011 at 2:12 am

      People like that are the reason I DO own a gun. This coward thinks he’s the Big Bad Wolf and that we’re all a bunch of Little Lambs. I’ll relish the look on his face when he meets me. And the Oregonian and Fox 12 will let you know how it turns out.

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  • q`Tzal August 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    JR-eh
    And get off my lawn.
    Recommended 5

    And turn off that loud noise!
    That’s not music!
    Whippersnapper!

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  • kgb August 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Send him an email and let him know you know who he is.
    http://www.guntherweiss.com/contact.html

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    • wsbob August 19, 2011 at 3:05 pm

      I have no idea what this posted email address is, but if it has anything to do with the guy that’s allegedly harassing people on Rock Creek Rd, it definitely should not be posted in a comment to this thread along with encouragement to the public to send the person comments about his alleged behavior.

      There’s been no official confirmation that Wheeler and the person harassing people on bikes is the same person. It’s not going to help matters to give this person any opportunity to accuse people of falsely harassing him. If he’s the guy, he’s already probably strung out enough rope to hang himself. Just a little more time, is all it may be before someone from the law pays him a visit.

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      • Oliver August 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm

        Yeah, don’t post his address here.

        Doing a simple Google search on the name Scott Wheeler and Rock Creek road will provide you with all the information you need

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  • ac August 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    i very recently encountered shocking road rage and a very loose interpretation of the law regarding cyclists – on NW Germantown climbing toward Skyline. about the worst i’ve ever experienced (and i’m from Atlanta!)

    the guy was actually going the opposite direction on NW Germantown and decided to turn around on a blind corner – double yellow (NOT A LEGAL MANUVER!) to confront us for riding 2 abreast (no car anywhere in sight behind us). this nearly got him t-boned by a blue car (subaru or mazda3) going at least 50 or 60 mph (NOT A LEGAL MANUVER!) as if Germantown was a rally car circuit. i’m not exaggerating!! it was close – brakes locked up – the whole thing…absolutely crazy. he then stomped the gas on the SUV and was coming right for me as i stood on the edge of the road with my jaw dropped. we ‘discussed’ law while he refused to acknowledge how dangerous his behavior was – it was like that near high speed car on car collision 20 seconds ago never happened… once i got the letter up on my phone he took off down Old Germantown and refused to read it.

    i got the feeling this guy (tan SUV – my riding partner has his tag) lives in the immediate area and was very happy to harass us or any cyclist. we made his day as it were.

    i’m concerned about the neighborhood conversations up there if they are making up interpretations of the laws making themselves feel justified in endangering me and my fellow cyclists.

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  • Evan August 19, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    You know, you can get a seatpost mount for a GoPro Hero video camera…

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  • Aaron August 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    So, if we give this guy the benefit of doubt, and he is correct in that bicycles would need to pull over to for faster traffic…How does committing at least two traffic infractions (tailgating and passing within 3 feet) justify his interpretation of the law.

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    • A.K. August 19, 2011 at 4:06 pm

      That’s the irony here. Two *certain* infractions of the law by someone who thinks they have everything figured out and it’s their right to punish and harass others. I hope karma catches up to this guy and his big red pickup.

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  • Joe Rowe August 19, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Illegal use of a horn. Ray Thomas, Mark Ginsberg or Bob Mionski should go out there for a ride and the guy will honk his horn. They, or anyone, can file a ticket now that the driver’s information is known. Keep taking the guy to court. He will stop.

    The better approach would be to invite him out to eat for a dialog. Someone like Steph Roth would need to moderate.

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    • Lazlo August 19, 2011 at 3:40 pm

      https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/815.225
      A person commits the offense of violation of use limits on sound equipment if the person does any of the following:

      (b) Uses a horn otherwise than as a reasonable warning or makes any unnecessary or unreasonably loud or harsh sound by means of a horn or other warning device.

      (3) The offense described in this section, violation of use limits on sound equipment, is a Class C traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §491]

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      • jeff August 19, 2011 at 5:20 pm

        thanks for posting that, Lazlo, because just last Friday I had a semi driver outside of Molalla start laying on his (or her) horn from at least a 1/4 mile back, continuing until it passed me (with just a bit of room to spare). 2 cars back: Molalla cop. Ridiculous. I reserve the bird for special occasions, this was one.

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      • MIddle of the Road Guy August 20, 2011 at 9:36 am

        What is reasonable to you may not be reasonable to me.

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  • S brockway August 19, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Seems to me when Sgt.Joe Santos got “The buzz job”
    (as printed in Bike Portland several months ago)
    just once ,that driver was arrested, and his car was impounded on that same day.The solution seems simple to me.

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  • Ted Buehler August 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    One of you folks who rides in his neighborhood should drop off a copy of the Oregon Drivers Manual at his house. Or, better yet, mail one to his wife with a nice note.

    Soft copy here — http://www.odot.state.or.us/forms/dmv/37.pdf

    You can highlight the following passages for their benefit.

    P. 35 Following Distances
    To share the road safely, always maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.

    Rear end crashes are very common. The number one cause is drivers following too closely.

    P. 60. Using the Horn
    Use it when it will help prevent a collision, *not* to display temper or irritation.

    P. 60. Road Rage and Aggressive Drivers
    Don’t be an aggressive driver. If you are angry, you shouldn’t be driving. Give other driver a break and share the road.

    P. 61 If you encounter an aggressive driver, make every effort to get out of the drivers way. Put your pride in the back seat. It’s a battle with no winners. Wear your seat belt, avoid eye contact, and ignore gestures and refuse to return them.

    P. 80. Bicycles
    When you are travling at a speed of 35 mph or greater, you may only pass a bicyclist when the passing distance is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall in the drivers lane.

    P. 81. Do not honk at a bicyclist, unless you have good cause to ward the rider you are close by.

    P. 82. Bicyclists must ride in the direction of traffic and as near to the right side of the road or street as is practical.

    Ted Buehler

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    • jeff August 19, 2011 at 4:04 pm

      oh please, someone do this!!!

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  • Jon August 19, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    A little digging on Google seems to show a Scott Wheeler at Gunther Weiss Scientific Glassblowing Co. The address matches the address for the complaint to the Oregon Bar. If you needed any glass work done, you could contact them:

    [Personal contact information deleted - Sorry folks, just erring on the safe side. -- JM]

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Kristen August 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      Jonathan, I wish you would delete the info in this post.

      It’s not fair to go after this man’s employer for his activities outside of the scope of his employment. It’s also not fair to call them out like this.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

      • A.K. August 19, 2011 at 5:47 pm

        I agree – being harassed by anonymous people will not be a solution to this problem; it may actually make it worse. Some people might not care because they never cycle up there, but someone could wind up being on the losing end with an encounter with someone who lives up there one day.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Matt August 19, 2011 at 7:26 pm

        I don’t know how I feel about that argument. If he didn’t behave like this he’d have no worries. I might want to know, as an employer, if one of my employees was consistently, allegedly, violating the law and threatening people.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

        • Alex August 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm

          I agree. If he is entering and leaving his place of employment in a reckless manor, then the employer should be made aware of this and take corrective action.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 19, 2011 at 8:04 pm

        Kristen,

        Thanks. I’ve been away for several hours and am just now reading the comments. I’ll edit/delete as necessary.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • Brian E August 20, 2011 at 8:49 am

          I think people on this thread are making a huge mistake with their misguided statements. I have the highest respect for Mr. Weiss. It is unimaginable that he would do anything to disrespect another person.

          This whole thing has been bothering me since yesterday when I Googled the address on the Ray Thomas letter and noticed Mr. Weiss’s name associated. I don’t know why his address is tied up with this whole thing but I’m sure there is a rational explanation.

          Thank you,

          Brian Engelen

          Recommended Thumb up 2

          • wsbob August 20, 2011 at 10:29 am

            Brian…I think you’re right. A number of people were overly enthusiastic with the google action. This is probably the way they found the person you mention by way of his possibly being an employer of the person alleged to have been doing the harassing.

            When maus went through the comments to delete inappropriate personal info about the alleged, it seems he overlooked some in this post: http://bikeportland.org/2011/08/19/on-rock-creek-road-an-openly-hostile-road-user-galvanizes-the-community-57963#comment-1925937

            Why bug the persons’ employer with a bunch of annoying emails to his workplace? If he should lose his job because of this brouhaha, that’s not going to benefit anyone. That would just have him drawing unemployment and whatever else. I believe the whole point of this attention on bikeportland, is to get him to think things through a little more carefully, and decide to come up with a better way of resolving the issue, than terrorizing people on the road on their bikes, with his pickup truck.

            Recommended Thumb up 1

          • Oliver August 20, 2011 at 10:37 am

            Respectfully, I must Disagree.

            My boss would freak if he learned I was threatening to kill people. My position would most definitely be in jeopardy.

            While Mr. Weiss is likely an honorable person, as a representative of the business (Mr Wheeler attaches the name of the business to his signature for social events) Mr Wheeler’s actions reflect poorly on the business.

            Free market types are very adamant that the only recourse the general public should have to grievances with companies is to decline to patronise said business. At the same time, businesses are demanding (and getting) the right to dictate how employees behave (smoking, drinking, ‘moral’ issues, political affiliation) in their off time as representatives of the company.

            Compound this with some probability that Mr Wheeler is engaging in this behaviour while ‘on the clock’ as it were, it seems that Mr Wheeler is a liability not only to himself, but to the business. So the business itself (including Mr Weiss) is a concerned party.

            Recommended Thumb up 5

          • Alan 1.0 August 20, 2011 at 11:33 am

            Brian, as you are a very active bicyclist yourself, and as you have high regards for Mr. Weiss’ integrity, would it be possible for you to broach the subject with him? If he’s as respectful as you say, and considering that his company is in the medical field (which would seemingly support healthy physical activity such as riding and abhor actions which threaten life and limb), perhaps he can talk some sense into his business partner/manager.

            Recommended Thumb up 4

    • wsbob August 19, 2011 at 7:46 pm

      Absolutely, delete that info from Jon’s post of August 19, 2011 at 4:08 pm. People should not be fooling with ideas that an appropriate way to resolve this issue is to go about bothering this guy personally, or the employer he works for.

      If he’s done what he’s alleged to have done, he’s the one that’s in the wrong rather than the people riding bikes on RCR. That should be enough to give authorities a valid reason to investigate and interview the guy and maybe some of the people who’ve experienced bad behavior from him.

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  • q`Tzal August 19, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Looks like I made JM delete his own post with a link to the subject’s legal attempt when I pointed out the subject’s personal info inside.

    I’ll say here what I said there:
    we need to have specifically delineated rules for what is unacceptable and will be deleted and they need to posted prominently.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • q`Tzal August 19, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      A good place to post the “comment posting guidelines” would be at the top of the form I am using now to type this.

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  • Ted Buehler August 19, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Or, the OBRA Board of Directors could bring a stack of Oregon Drivers Manuals to the next neighborhood association meeting, and make a little presentation. Then open a discussion as to what both drivers and bicyclists can do to be more courteous and law-abiding on the road.

    Ted Buehler

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  • esther c August 19, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    § 163.190¹
    Menacing

    (1) A person commits the crime of menacing if by word or conduct the person intentionally attempts to place another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury.

    Please call 911 and report this man the next time he does this. This behavior is criminal but since there are not police patrolling the road nothing will happen unless someone reports it.

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  • esther c August 19, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    And I can assure you if I ever need any glass tubes from my tear ducts I’m not buying them from that man.

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  • dan August 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Apparently this guy’s business is not very popular on Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/gunther-weiss-scientific-glass-blowing-portland

    He sounds like a real charmer.

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  • velowocky August 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    This demonstrates one reason it’s way past time to institute a ‘three foot rule’. It’s clear and simple. Drivers will know exactly what’s expected and lawful. The present ORS about maintaining an area sufficient to prevent collision if the cyclist falls over is poorly written in my opinion. Not that the change would have great effect on someone like this… I’ve ridden RC many times and never had an issue on that stretch but if it was my wife that was harassed…I wouldn’t be very diplomatic I’m afraid. That level of threatening behavior needs attention from the authorities.

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  • bumblebee August 19, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    The Buddha said an enemy is our greatest teacher, for through our enemy we learn patience. And Jesus Christ taught that we should love our enemy and bless those who persecute us.

    But they never had to deal with a hot-head in a pickup.

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  • are August 19, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    with all due respect to ray thomas, i think it is something of a stretch to say 811.425 does not apply to bicyclists when it is explicitly referenced in the far to right statute, 814.430.

    that having been said, 811.425 does not require a cyclist to ditch. what it requires is moving off the “main traveled portion” of the road “into an area sufficient for safe turnout.”

    if there is no “area sufficient for safe turnout,” the overtaking motorist can just wait until there is. if the cyclist then refuses to move over, i would say there is probably a violation, certainly an incivility.

    but of course you cannot reason with this guy.

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  • Otto August 20, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Many Americans have bought their last car, they just don’t know it yet. It will have little to do with environmentalism, climate, or so-called peak oil. Instead it will be economic and debt related. People in a town with logistics and infrastructure like Portland are choosing bikes partly in response to the economic times. But as the economy continues to stagnate and debt issues become even more problematic cars will become unmanageable for many. As this gradually unfolds expect more people to react badly to it, whether it’s drivers harrassing cyclists they misunderstand and blame for their other problems or vice versa. Be safe and be smart out there.

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    • 9watts August 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      “Many Americans have bought their last car, they just don’t know it yet. It will have little to do with environmentalism, climate, or so-called peak oil. Instead it will be economic and debt related.”

      Otto, that is an interesting perspective. This is drifting a bit from the original article, but I’m inclined to think your first statement is likely close to the truth, though I don’t understand why you think that it is one or the other: economic or climate-related. Why couldn’t it be both? Perhaps the two are even linked?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Otto August 20, 2011 at 3:43 pm

        It does drift from the original article but it’s related, I think. I don’t know what motivates the individual in question but I’m getting the sense that bicylists are seen as being a symbol of something car dependent “conventional” folk are suspicious of, e.g. urbanization and the lifestyle changes that go with it or more lazily called “liberal” and “European”. I know I’m getting into risky territory by presuming stereotypes are at work here but I think there is far more to this particular individual, others like him, and those who sympathize than just “the rules of the road”. It’s also too easy to dismiss him as a lone nut.

        The world is always in transition and we’re in the middle of a big one economically that is impacting not just material things and employment rates but the whole concept of communities, family, and identity. I live near but not in the general Helvetia area and people who live there are already under pressure from Hillsboro’s desire to grab rural land and turn it into urban reserves. It’s seen by some as something that threatens their culture. It’s not unlike how economic or environmental challenges are leading people to the idea of urban density as a solution, e.g. more government, taxes, alternative transportation, etc., and how this is seen as threatening to some lifestyles. When cyclists pass through a place like Helvetia they’re seen by some as uninvited guests, not other citizens using a public through-way. You might as well be a foreignor to some people.

        I guess what I’m saying is that we need understanding and dialogue in general. As for the individual harrassing cyclists, it’s too late to have any meaningful dialogue with him. But it’s not too late to do it with the Helvetia area community.

        In regards to my comment about cars, I think environment will have something to do with it but that will be more long term. I was talking more short term.

        Excuse the long reply but your question was hard for me to answer quickly.

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        • 9watts August 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm

          Thanks, Otto. I think you’re on to something.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helvetia

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        • cyclehappy August 20, 2011 at 7:16 pm

          Well said. I get the same impression from people. I also think the days of getting anywhere in a car in without traffic is a thing of the past and it’s getting to drivers and making them cranky. I drove today and regretted it. 405 SB was closed and getting to Beaverton took over an hour. At one point my frustration level peaked and I was driving like an idiot. There was much swearing. Thank heaven I don’t drive very often… and don’t have a horn :>)

          Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Hugh Johnson August 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm

          Kind of like the dialogue that’s taken place with the folks whose neighborhoods have been “gentrified”?

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • middle of the road guy August 20, 2011 at 11:57 pm

      I think the automakers know how to price their offerings better than you do.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Harvey August 21, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Helmet cameras. Duh… Hello? If you ride without one regularly, and you have ever encountered any old jerk on the road, you a doofus. They are under $200 and worth every nickel. I got’zed me two, one front and one back. They can be fun in the bedroom too!

    Intersplice the footage of wheeler doing his dipstick act with you doing the nasty, put it on youtube and call it gold! Seriously!

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  • Kevin Wagoner August 21, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Jonathan, I think it would be interesting if you got an interview with the driver.

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  • w August 22, 2011 at 8:35 am

    I have an idea. If they can’t play nice with the roads they way they are, then I guess we should change the roads. Bike lanes on West Union, and Shyline. What those same peaple really loose it.

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  • Greg August 22, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Kevin Wagoner
    Jonathan, I think it would be interesting if you got an interview with the driver.

    Recommended 1

    Absolutely. It will either give him a chance to work through his anger and find common ground, or give him enough rope to hang himself — proverbially speaking.

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  • Paul Toufar August 22, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    I had a similar incident happen to me on August 11 around 06:15 accept it was a silver/gray Oldsmobile/Buick on West Union heading West. I had started my ride from the school on the corner of Helvatia and West Union. A couple of minutes into the ride I heard some one behind laying on the horn. They were so far behind me I figured they were honking at some one else. I heard the honking getting closer and when I looked back the car was hauling and coming right at me. I bunny hoped off the road and he missed me by a few feet. This person was trying to run me down. They did not stop, they did not slow and when they missed they sped off. A witness stopped to make sure I was Okay. I was scarred but not hurt so I asked if he could try and catch up to the guy and get his license. He said he would try but seemed reluctant. I called 911 and filed a report with Deputy Cliff Lascink of Washington County.

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