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Ask BikePortland: Should I report road rage or should I just let it go?

Posted by on October 19th, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Bike lane in action
When the going gets tough,
you should call the police.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Today’s installment of Ask BikePortland deals with a problem I wish wasn’t so common. More often than I’d like to report, I get emails from people who have been harassed by someone driving a car. And many of them wonder the same thing: “Should I report it?”

Reader Eugene G. said he was “just an average bike commuter going to work” yesterday morning when someone cut a curve too close and veered into the bike lane. When they met at a red light a few blocks later, things got ugly.

Here’s more from Eugene’s email:

“I was riding southbound over the 20th/21st Street bridge [over I-84] when a car nearly clipped me off the road by cutting the curve through the bike lane. Putting up my hand so they can hopefully recognize what just happened, I was immediately flipped off by the passenger.

I knew I would see them shortly because the light is guaranteed to be red on Stark. As I roll up to let the driver know what just happened, her son was already up in arms cussing me out and many other nasty things about riders and my bike. Letting them know what happened was not on the breakfast menu for sure. He kept trying to get out of his car while I was pushing the door back shut, finally I said screw it and grabbed the plate number (066-CTT) knowing this was going no where except downhill. The kid got out kicked my bike a few times with more awesome words and as I was riding off decided to throw his drink on me.

I realize there is a good amount of irritation towards bikes and vice versa, just curious if this should be reported or should I let it go?”

“If someone calls in a road rage and an officer is in the area, they can pull that person over and investigate further.”
— Capt. Dave Hendrie, PPB Traffic Division

Let it go? Heck no Eugene! But don’t take my word for it. I asked Portland Police Bureau Captain Dave Hendrie what he would do.

“They should call that in,” Capt. Hendrie says. “If there’s injury or damage to the bike it’s a hit-and-run, it’s a crime.”

Hendrie says it’s up to each individual to decide whether or not to call 911 or to call the non-emergency line (823-3333). Either way it’s very important to call things like this in, because the dispatcher will broadcast the information citywide. “If someone calls in a road rage and an officer is in the area,” Hendrie says, “they can pull that person over and investigate further.” He added that, while the report won’t always result in action or a consequence, the information itself is important.

It’s also important to report incidents so the Bureau has a record of how often this type of behavior happens. Another thing to consider is that, while your interaction might seem minor in the grand scope of things, the person who road-raged you might do something more serious a few blocks later. If that happens, and your call is on the record, it will help the police (and perhaps eventually the DA) build a successful case against the suspect.

Back to the question of using 911 or the non-emergency number, or whether it should be reported at all, Hendrie gave me some examples to help guide your decision. If you’re just verbally harassed or flipped off, it’s probably not worth reporting. If the person yells and crowds the bike lane and/or revs their engine you should call the non-emergency line. If the person does all that repeatedly, and goes further to threaten you such that you feel endangered and/or makes contact of any kind, it’s time to call 911.

Hopefully you’ll never need to know this stuff. But if you do find yourself in this situation, stay calm and consider calling it in (it might be a good idea to keep 503-823-3333 on speed dial).

Have you ever been in a situation like this? Please share your experiences.

— View past Ask BikePortland columns here.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Ben October 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I’m not sure what is going on lately, but I’ve been getting in lots of conversations with co-workers lately about how disruptive cyclists are. I find myself defending myself and other cyclists while trying to point out how much more disruptive it would be if cyclists all drove everyday taking up another parking spot. I’ve been riding more lately than since I started working here 4 years ago, it reminds me of why my riding decreased so much after I started here. I am resolved to keep cycling regularly, but my negative co-worker energy makes it difficult.

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    • John Lascurettes October 19, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      I’m not following the non-sequitor here, Ben. How was the cyclist the disruptive one in this story? He was cut off in the bike lane by a car that was cutting into it around a curve. I think you have who disrupted who backwards.

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      • El Biciclero October 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm

        I’ll bet ben has it straight; try offering your explanation to irrational coworkers, though… In some people’s minds, robbing a motorist of the ability to cut a corner constitutes “disruption”. Ditto for “forcing” them to pay attention.

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        • A.K. October 19, 2012 at 6:02 pm

          Exactly. What Ben was trying to describe through the attitudes of his co-irkers is the thought process behind people who bully others from their cars: cyclists are disruptive and deserve to be “put in their place”. I have co-irkers who have the same thoughts, though thankfully more of them than not either don’t care that I ride a lot or show a general positive interest in it (or at least fake it well enough).

          I won’t exactly be sad the day the media finally reports on a road-rage driver getting their ass beat by a cyclist that has finally had enough.

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      • Caleb October 22, 2012 at 1:12 am

        John, it appears to me Ben was just commenting on a broad attitude shift without characterizing the cyclist in this case as disruptive.

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      • pmalach October 22, 2012 at 10:24 am

        Ben never said he thought the cyclist mentioned in this article was disruptive. He said his co-workers have been saying that about cyclists in general. Reading comprehension is a valuable skill. Hone it.

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    • Mindful Cyclist October 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      “I am resolved to keep cycling regularly, but my negative co-worker energy makes it difficult.”

      Then quit giving your coworkers so much power!

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  • cold worker October 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    My one experience with a situation where cops were called was a huge waste of time. I was passed by a car so close I was able to give a flat handed slap to the passenger window. The guy driving got super pissed and about a half block up the street stopped in traffic, got out of the car and ran at me and pushed me down and off my bike. Lots of people saw this happen and started calling the cops. I got the license plate as the guy drove away as he started realizing what was going on. The cop who showed up really didn’t care. He said I shouldn’t have touched the car (come on! what do you expect?! sorta attitude) and I was lucky to be ok. He ran the plates and the owner of the car, presumably the guy who knocked me down, had a revoked/suspended license (I don’t remember exactly and what do the specifics even matter. He shouldn’t have been driving). Still the cop didn’t care.

    Good Luck!

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    • Sunny October 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      You didn’t slap the car. You pushed yourself out of the way of danger. That was a lazy cop so ask for his commanding officer’s name next time. He’ll get the hint.

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      • wsbob October 21, 2012 at 6:28 pm

        “You didn’t slap the car. You pushed yourself out of the way of danger. …” Sunny

        In the type situation ‘cold worker’ describes, someone on a bike, connecting with a car to push themselves out of the way of danger posed by the car, is an important distinction from slapping a car antagonistically or in retaliation. In that type situation, it would be important to be certain not to connect with a car for any reason but self defense.

        It’s important that a person forced to take such action, explains the situation to a responding police officer in such a way the officer will be able to understand the contact was for self defense.

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        • davemess October 22, 2012 at 12:25 pm

          Bob, what about hitting a car to get the drivers attention as they drift into your lane. It’s really your only recourse of action as they can rarely hear you.

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    • Carl October 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      Similar experience here. A passenger in a passing SUV rolled down the window and tried to shove me into a parked car while I was riding in a bike lane. I recovered, called the police, who were supremely uninterested: “Uh, yeah, we’ll tell our guys in the area to keep a look out…”

      I suspect a big part of the reason people doubt whether they should call such incidents in is the dismissive way they or their friends are treated when they do call. I suspect that if I’d been driving and was rammed by a passing car, the response would’ve been somewhat more pro-active.

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      • Caleb October 22, 2012 at 1:35 am

        It might be that cops aren’t uninterested, but instead that they aren’t emotionally moved to sound a way you would consider interested. Maybe what we consider dismissive is actually poorly expressed acknowledgment and concern. Maybe after going through so many cases similar to yours, they’ve adopted a pessimistic view about their ability to catch the antagonist. Or maybe they’re considering and weighing details of your case and/or other cases as they distractedly try to express their plan to pursue the antagonist.

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  • 9watts October 19, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    -> If you’re just verbally harassed or flipped off, it’s probably not worth reporting.
    -> If the person yells and crowds the bike lane and/or revs their engine you should call the non-emergency line.
    -> If the person does all that repeatedly, and goes further to threaten you such that you feel endangered and/or makes contact of any kind, it’s time to call 911.”

    Those distinctions are kind of interesting. Meant, no doubt, to suggest that somewhere in the police dispatch/logging division someone cares about the minutiae, but from reading comments here it seems that calling in even truly outrageous road rage behavior is *very* unlikely to lead to anything.
    I’d like to think that writing down the license plate would be a start to something, but most of my rare negative interactions fall somewhere between the first and second category above.

    Might be fun to bring Huckaby into this conversation, see if he would still like to make the licenses = accountability argument.

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  • Steve B. October 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    While no excuse for the violent action of these folks, I do think this particular intersection needs a little help. If you look at the bike lane here it is constantly eroded by drivers cutting the turn too sharply. http://goo.gl/maps/RgzUW I have had my own share of close calls here.

    Clearly plastic bollards won’t work, if there was a curb or the bikeway was elevated that would likely keep drivers from driving in the bike lane.

    I understand the city is supposed to undertake a “20’s Bikeway” project soon but I’m unsure of the timeline. Hopefully fixing this intersection will be a focus of that project.

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    • A.K. October 19, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      Yeah I always get up a good head of speed here and slide into traffic so avoid being pinched at this spot, or if a car is ahead of me I make sure to not be beside them around the corner.

      Almost EVERY car that goes around that corner cuts it, for whatever reason.

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    • whyat October 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      I ride out into the actual vehicle lane there. It seems to do a good job of signaling to drivers that it’s a tight squeeze. It’s a really poorly designed curve, and so many drivers do this that I don’t blame them. I do watch my a** though.

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    • Spiffy October 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm

      that satellite view also shows the trail of engine oil leading right to the line… people are consistently driving their vehicle almost 40% into the bike lane…

      stake it out with a camera and issue dozens of citizen initiated citations for failure to maintain the lane…

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      • Editz October 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm

        Too many motorists going to the Dale Earnhardt Jr. School of Driving. Dive into the corner and you’ll win the race, Jethro!

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      • amanda October 21, 2012 at 2:05 am

        Even better- the street view shows a minivan cutting the corner into the bike lane: http://goo.gl/maps/IYDXt

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    • are October 19, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      the striped lanes on 20th over the bridge are useless, especially southbound at the swerve. yet another instance in which the striping misleads the novice, or the less than assertive, into an unsafe situation.

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    • peejay February 24, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      Well yes, of course the infrastructure needs to be better—there and so many other places. That’s the major reason why these road rage incidents occur at the frequency they do. But until then, the law must be obeyed, and the law comes down harshly on physical assault. The police, on the other hand, sometimes need help understanding what is and is not assault.

      As for the 20’s project, it’s just not the infrastructure we need to make things safer, or to reduce conflict. The plan has been compromised so much it’s not even worth doing. That’s a shame, because most drivers would actually prefer separated infrastructure if they drove through it.

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  • Livellie October 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I saw a post earlier in the year about a cyclist using a small camera to video his commute on a daily basis. Something like that sure would be helpful in a case like this. If the people in the car knew they were being recorded and the public was able to see this on YouTube, it might change how some people choose to interact with others. Public exposure of bad, illegal behavior can be a pretty powerful tool.

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    • Spiffy October 19, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      I don’t seem to have as many issues with drivers now that I have a camera on my helmet…

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  • Bjorn October 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    when you call be sure to say that you think you are hurt or that your bike is damaged, otherwise they will not even take a report in my experience even if the driver caused an accident. I had a guy pass me cut in close right in front and slam on the brakes coming to a complete stop in the middle of the street. I wasn’t able to stop and then he got out and chased me around the car so I called the cops. They said they would send someone I waited for an hour, no one came. I called again the next day and they said that because my bike was not damaged and I was not injured that they would not do anything…

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    • Spiffy October 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm

      I’ve had the exact same experience…

      threatening guy screaming and chasing you around? sorry, can’t help you until they actually hurt you or damage your property…

      they’re basically saying to call back when you need an ambulance…

      I was awestruck by their response and suffered a lot of PTSD every time I went on that section of pavement for a long time…

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  • John Lascurettes October 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Something was in the air today.

    First incident:
    Lady was straddling the bike lane on NW Broadway headed toward Burnside. She got caught at a light and I passed her and asserted the bike lane (the BIKE LANE!). At the green, we both took off and she clipped my elbow with her side mirror (then gave me a dirty look).

    Second incident:
    Walking to coffee. Stepped off the curb at SW Stark and 9th. Car coming down Stark slows down to a near stop so I start crossing, then he goes ahead and cuts me off.

    Third incident:
    Returning from coffee. Crossing at Washington and 8th. Car stops for me coming up Washington! YAY! As I cross Washington and want to cross again on 8th, I realize he wants to turn right on 8th. I pause long enough to let him by (he scratched my back, now I’m scratching his), I step off the curb as he passes me at low speed. Guy behind him without a signal turns right right behind him, fully seeing me attempting to cross.

    What the hell with the aggressive driving downtown today?

    I know very well of that NE 20/21st crossing over I-84. It’s the route I take when I bike my son to school and the lower end of that bike lane is usually clipped pretty bad. I always assert the outer portion of that lane just to make sure my son has more room inside the bike lane. People are way to aggressive on that curve.

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  • Sunny October 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    If you have a phone with a camera, use it. Even if it doesn’t have a camera, act like it does and the perps might get the hint.

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    • Spiffy October 19, 2012 at 6:13 pm

      my dad once got somebody to move their SUV out of a handicapped parking spot by pretending to call the police…

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    • Caleb October 22, 2012 at 2:03 am

      But be careful when considering using that phone. An acquaintance of mine had his phone destroyed, because he pulled it out to photograph a plate while the driver was punching him, and the driver saw fit to throw the phone on the ground. Some might be inclined to hurt you instead of the phone.

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    • Fred Lifton October 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      Yep, I do this all the time when crossing MLK on foot near my house in NE. Dozens of cars will fly through the cross-walk, even if you’re standing in the middle of the street. But if you hold up your phone like you’re taking pictures, everyone suddenly remembers their manners (and the law).

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      • Caleb October 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm

        It might not be that they suddenly remember their manners and the law, but instead that the ones stopping after you put up your phone are the ones that were already more inclined to stop than were the ones that drove through the crosswalk. I don’t cross MLK that often, but in all my experiences doing so, people have rarely not stopped for me, and I never have my phone out. Maybe it helps that I’m on bicycle, though?

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  • BURR October 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    It would be nice if the PPB had a designated officer for reporting instances of cyclist harassment to, that would make things a lot easier to report and give cyclists a bit more assurance of a police follow up, even if it’s just a phone call from the officer to the registered owner of the vehicle involved after the fact.

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  • Adam October 19, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    I don’t feel the cops are interested/have the resources to follow through on a phone call from somebody saying they witnessed someone driving like an idiot. However, video proof of someone driving like an idiot would be a much better thing to present to an officer, imho. That’s why I’m asking santa for a go-pro this year!

    I think cell phones work. One time I was waiting at a stop light downtown on my bike. There was a young woman in a car behind me, who clearly could not deal with a bicyclist being stopped in front of her at a light.

    She started honking (and I mean, really honking) on her horn. Just pressing on it. I turned in my saddle, took my cell phone out, and pointed it straight at her license plate. She stopped honking immediately. It was insane.

    As soon as accountability and culpability are introduced into a situation, it is amazing how quickly people seem to see the “errors” of their ways, ahem…

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  • Gary Charles October 19, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    They better hope the cyclist or the friends of the cyclist are nonviolent people. It’s not that hard to find out who owns the car and where they live with a license plate number. 066-CTT I know if what happened to her happened to me that some of my friends wouldn’t just let it go.

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  • JR October 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    My advice from the non-emergency operator just this week is to call 911 and report a drunk or reckless driver. I got grazed by a newer white camero when its driver squeezed between me and oncoming traffic on 49th st near Belmont. Uninjured, I opted for the non-emergency line. The operator did not take any of my info because ten minutes had passed (the ten minutes spent on hold) so she recommended 911 next time for quick response.
    FWIW, I caught up to the driver at the light on Hawthorne and calmly and politely asked that he give more room or wait until it’s safe to pass. I got the usual angry and ignorant earful about how people on bikes don’t pay to use the road and I should get out of his way. Nice.

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    • Paul in the 'couve October 20, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      I always take the whole lane on 49th and 42nd and just about every other street in that area. If there isn’t room to pass me safely, I make it clear I’m not going to let drivers think they can get away with it and then squeeze me into a parked car.

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      • Vance Longwell October 21, 2012 at 6:53 am

        Gee, I wonder why motorists have a problem with some bicycle riders?

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        • Sbrock October 21, 2012 at 8:54 am

          What do you mean Vance? Are you kidding?

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        • dr2chase October 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm

          Curious if you understand how you’re getting this wrong. The whole point of “take the lane” is that the guy on the bicycle is signaling that he believes the road/conditions are not suitable for a car to pass him. This is not “ha ha, I am making you stupid cagers wait”, this is “I think you cannot pass me safely here, please do not even try”.

          The guy on the bicycle gets to make that decision, not the drivers; he has literal skin in the game, and they do not. He can also see better (unobstructed vision, plus he has more time to survey the road because he is moving more slowly) and has a better understanding of bicycle road hazards than people who are not riding bicycles.

          Now all that said, people differ in their risk tolerance, and I (riding a bicycle behind them) have seen other people around me take at least some fraction of the lane for no reason that I can discern. But people do get to have variation in their risk tolerance, and the guy who’s not wearing armor gets to make the safety call.

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          • Paul in the 'couve October 22, 2012 at 10:56 pm

            There are only 2 or 3 things I could add to this:
            A) I use a mirror, so I tend to ride to the left more than most because that way I avoid all the hazards on the RIGHT which are statistically more common. I politely move right when a motorist needs to go by IF it is safe to let them by. I don’t see ANY reason I should ride to the right and place myself at greater risk if there isn’t anyone coming up behind me.
            B) I became more convicted about riding to the right when I began to notice that most of the people buzzing me didn’t seem to be raging or bike hating or doing it intentionally. Most people see a cyclist, assume they are going REALLY slow and the further to the right the cyclist is riding, the more likely the are to not calculate how to best overtake the cyclist. By riding left, I notice that the drivers take action sooner to prepare for overtaking me. They are instantly notified that I am not off to the side and out of the way. They then take a fraction of a second to realize I am probably going 20mph not 5mph. By that time, they have probably slowed down a bit, and if there is room and no hazards etc. I have begun moving right to let them pass by.
            C) I ride fast, at least 15mph even up moderate hills. On the streets we are commenting about like 47th near Belmont motorists shouldn’t be driving 35mph or even 30mph. Generally, worst case they are going to be behind me for 4 or 5 blocks, and most of the time I’m going to catch them at the next light or stop sign.

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    • jr October 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      For my own edification, this was a newer white camero (or trans am) with oregon plates: 988-BZE. Driven by a white male around 55 yrs old. Grey hair, beard and mustache. Smoker… and a total jerk.

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  • Mbsf October 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    At Interbike I saw helmets with integrated camera starting aound $90.00… Might be a worthy investment for documentation…

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  • resopmok October 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Some people have no scruples to begin with, as is the case with the harrasser in this instance I would imagine. Trying to start a fight with a random person in a random place is a notoriously bad idea, as you have no idea how they might be armed or trained or their disposition towards violence. It’s a good way to end up hurt.

    I also think that the media is largely to blame for some people’s generally negative attitudes towards cyclists. This is exacerbated when those people don’t have scruples and turns into situations like described above.

    Unfortunately there is a lot of PR and marketing to do just to fix the damage done by the media, and it seems the city wants no real part in helping that. The “interested but concerned” won’t start riding just because we build facilities, people need to feel like they won’t get run over by some angsty nutcase or phone-distracted soccer mom as well.

    Ultimately people need to learn how everyone benefits from more cyclists, including themselves (even if they still choose not to ride) before we can expect to see a decrease in conflict and dissolution of the bike vs car mentality. Garnering respect is not something we can achieve with better and/or separated infrastructure.

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  • Tim October 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    In our efforts to be civilized, we should not forget that we all have the right to self defense. If you can’t get away you do not need to be a passive victim. Being passive and submitting to violence can also escalate the situation (Czechoslovakia 1938).

    I have been harassed a couple of times, but maybe because I am 6’1” they speed off. I called 911 at night when I was afraid they could return and run me down, and the non-emergency number when some lady claimed her husband was a cop who was going to beat me up. Here in Washington County, the sheriff’s office took it seriously and paid the drivers a visit. By having it on record, I think they are much less likely to follow through on their threats. And by the way, the real police don’t like it when you threaten people with getting beat up by the cops.

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    • Vance Longwell October 21, 2012 at 7:00 am

      Good one Tim! Uh, except for that in the state of Oregon, there is no provision for self-defense within statute prohibiting assault and battery. If you assault, and or batter, someone, for any reason including, “defending”, yourself, you are guilty; regardless of why. Pretty dumb law. Got a lot of support from Portland area Progressive Liberals: Just sayin’.

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      • are October 21, 2012 at 9:45 pm

        we may not have stand your ground, but we certainly have self-defense

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        • are October 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm

          should have also linked
          http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/161.209 and
          just so as you will get the full picture.

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          • Vance Longwell October 23, 2012 at 8:08 am

            Hmm, I guess I stand corrected. Please note that prior to an ’07 Oregon Supreme Court Ruling striking it down, that an Oregon Revised Statute required that prior to using physical, or deadly, force in defense of person, other person, etc., one was obligated to attempt retreat. 25 years with that stupid law. This was a tremendously contentious issue, at the time, one of the reasons I felt confident about my remarks. I took the ‘liberal’ pot-shot because it was intended to target domestic violence issues, and enjoyed broad democratic support in the legislature.

            For the record, I much prefer the current, much more truly liberal, law.

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  • fasterthanme October 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Call 911. I had an incident just a few weeks ago where a male dood uin the passenger seat was aggressively yelling at me. After a couple of words back and forth, he spit on me. I was shook up by the interaction and later called the non-emergency line. I explained everything to the officer, since I couldn’t recall the license plate there wasn’t much they could do. However she did tell me that next time this happens to call 911 immediately.

    I carry a pad and pen now to take down notes. I’ve thought about getting a camera for the bike so I can record these bozo’s.

    I think this stuff is getting worse.

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  • pixelgate October 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Been riding here for many years and never had an issue with drivers. 99.9% of them are wonderful. The few who almost hit me do so accidentally. Never had anyone ‘rage’ on me, and if I did I’d let it pass. I’m not a violent or aggressive person so me stopping and escalating things wouldn’t lead to anything good.

    Most of my friends are cyclists. The ones who always have these dramatic stories about road rage are also the same people who are very aggressive and have ‘tit-for-tat’ personalities (ie: ‘oh you passed by me too close? well at the light I’m gonna get in front of you and do the same) so I always nod and listen to their one-sided story while knowing full well they were likely just as must the agitator as the driver.

    Honestly man, I’ve just seen way too many dickhead cyclists lately to have much sympathy. Sorry if it sounds shallow but it’s getting old hearing cyclists play the victim so much lately. The sense of entitlement is really reaching the tipping point.

    Oh, and while walking down NW 21st today back from Fred Meyer a woman cyclist blew through a stop sign and her handlebar clipped my tote bag (not the strap just the ‘body’ of the bag). She didn’t stop, she didn’t say sorry, nothing. Did I call the cops? No. Some people are just assholes. Move along.

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    • are October 19, 2012 at 9:58 pm

      what you are saying has nothing to do with what was reported here.

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    • KYouell October 19, 2012 at 10:07 pm

      I’m a mom on a bakfiets with at least 1 kid in it. I don’t blow stop signs or ride aggressively and I have had 3 incidents in the last month. While I agree with our assessment that it’s not the majority of drivers that behave in this manner, don’t blame the victim. I didn’t ask for it.

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      • 007 October 20, 2012 at 11:44 am

        Maybe they were Drunks Against Mad Mothers (DAMM).

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    • 007 October 20, 2012 at 11:49 am

      pixelgate: “The few who almost hit me do so accidentally. ”
      So that’s okay. Weird. It’s okay to not be paying attention or to be an unsafe driver and come within inches of hitting you? Odd.

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  • Jeff October 19, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    I’ve been spending a bit more time behind the wheel these days than normal. The reality is driving sucks here. It takes forever to get anywhere. Drivers are looking for any excuse to vent about being stuck in the car. Bikes are an easy target, but their frustrations are misplaced. The reality however is that people are allowed to feel angry and express themselves, so it’s a fine line about when to report. I agree that any physical contact is a good trigger. Verbal stuff and fingers? Not worth it. Also, please, you nice-niks, you’re projecting your values again. Just an FYI.

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    • dan October 19, 2012 at 10:55 pm

      LOL, “driving sucks here?” As opposed to any other medium to large West Coast city, where there’s never any traffic jams and drivers get free candy at stoplights? If you said “driving sucks” I might agree with you.

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      • 007 October 20, 2012 at 11:42 am

        I agree, dan. LOL. I think the traffic moves fast within the city (I don’t have much experience in the auto-worshiping suburbs.)
        A car town such as less-populated but hideously spread-out Spokane where EVERYONE drives, now that’s a pain in the ***.

        I’ve experienced some traffic backing up while on the bus heading east over the Broadway bridge during rush hour because of s.o. vehicles. My heart goes out to them. LOL.

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      • Jeff October 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm

        Way to nitpick a web comment dan. Exceptional work. Feel better about yourself now?

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      • eli bishop February 24, 2016 at 1:16 pm

        free candy at stoplights!

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    • spare_wheel October 20, 2012 at 8:35 am

      as a victim of childhood bullying I avoid a passive response. it reinforces the behavior and encourages escalation.

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  • bjorn October 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    question for Capt. Hendrie, can he point to any case in Portland when someone called something like this in and something was done? I’d like to think that my experience was an anomaly, but I have never heard of anyone who called in a car on bike road rage incident where the cops did something.

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    • Spiffy October 19, 2012 at 6:30 pm

      an old roommate of mine called a car in for smacking his elbow and making him crash… cop came to the house and took a report but the description of the car (make/model/color) didn’t match the plate # on file so they couldn’t do anything…

      so something was done in that the cop came over to get a report, but nothing else could be done after that… I think they would have followed it up with the driver if they thought it was a match…

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      • Banjo!!! October 20, 2012 at 9:01 am

        Your roommate was the victim of a violent crime. The cops didn’t investigate. We’re second-class citizens!

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        • Kristen October 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm

          How can the police investigate when the make/model/color of the car don’t match the car wearing the plate? The officer did what he could with the info he had. Did the incident damage the car?

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  • dude October 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Speaking of self defense, it seems we are left to our own devices to defend ourselves, because the police don’t care and motorists have no legal basis to care whether they hit us (they won’t get charged, even if a cyclist dies). Fortunately for the motorists that have nearly killed me on occasions, they got away before I could catch them. I get really pissed off when that happens, and I have no doubt I would assault them.

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  • Emre Yildirim October 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Skipped all the comments, because solution seems simple: GoPro helmet mounted camera. Records stuff in slow-motion too, in HD. They’re a bit spendy, but the initial cost is worth it.

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  • Paula October 19, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Lot’s of streets like that – Burnside @ about SE 72nd, Glisan crossing NE 47th Ave. Nearly side swiped on Burnside, now I check traffic and if any is there, I either slow so they go through first or move to the right. On Glisan, I check for traffic and take the lane through the intersection, too many close calls there.

    I also ride with front and rear facing bike mounted cameras. :^)

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  • are October 19, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    hendrie’s suggestion that a passenger exiting the car and kicking the bike could be characterized as a hit and run is maybe a bit of a stretch

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    • q`Tzal October 19, 2012 at 11:14 pm

      If there is damage.
      In the case of an auto vs auto hit-and-run mere paint scuffing is enough; why not the same for bikes?

      Now for a bit of a stretch: any assault or attempt to disable or injured a cyclist in the road automatically upgrades to “Attempted Manslaughter” because if they are even the least bit successful then you will be helplessly knocked into traffic where you would very likely be killed

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      • are October 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm

        i guess my point was it was not the driver in this case

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    • 007 October 20, 2012 at 11:33 am

      More like malicious mischief.

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  • sonnyclips October 19, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    As someone that got pulled over for a road rage incident after getting cut off by another car I have to say it was a positive experience and I am in much better control of my emotions behind the wheel. I went to a special class and it helped quite a bit. I say turn them in.

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  • esther c October 20, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Well geez, what do they do if a driver kills a cyclist. They’ll fine ’em $242 for failure to maintain their lane. So what if a driver just menaces a cyclist because that’s what these incidents would be, menacing. Its probably a $12 fine.

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  • Babygorilla October 20, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Stark is pretty far away from the I-84 overpass with at least one stop sign and two stop lights between them.

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    • are October 20, 2012 at 8:14 am

      he probably meant sandy. does it subtract from his story?

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      • Machu Picchu October 21, 2012 at 8:07 am

        If he doesn’t mean Sandy, it absolutely detracts, because that’s a hell of a long way to just happen to catch up. As opposed to chasing after someone, which is a little “ragey” itself. If he does mean Sandy, it would make perfect sense. I’ve been thinking the same same thing from the time I read the email until this comment.

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        • Caleb October 22, 2012 at 2:23 am

          Both Sandy and Stark often have long red lights when one rides south-bound on 20th. I don’t think somebody has to be ragey to determinedly exert effort and catch up to somebody at either intersection, especially if 20th traffic is heavy as it often is.

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        • are October 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm

          seriously. the guy said he knew he would catch up because the light was “guaranteed” to be red on [name your street]. it should be obvious he intended to say sandy. what would be the “guarantee” the motorist was heading further south? how can anyone predict the timing of the light at stark if you do not yet know the timing of the light at burnside? let’s not be too silly here.

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      • Machu Picchu October 21, 2012 at 8:09 am

        “subtracts”, as well as detracts.

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      • Babygorilla October 22, 2012 at 11:46 am

        No, but with the current sad state of American professional cycling, I was thinking we may have found the next great American rider if he did mean Stark because that’s pretty impressive to pace auto traffic that distance.

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  • Rick October 20, 2012 at 8:26 am

    It is a tough world out there where people in 2000 pound vehicles harrass cyclists. License number and Report.

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    • 9watts October 20, 2012 at 9:07 am

      This might sound picky, but 2,000 lbs has not been a good approximation of vehicle weight for more than 70 years. Sales-weighted average 2005 car and light truck weights are all (but one) north of 3,000 lbs.

      sports car: 3,186 lbs
      subcompact: 2,701 lbs
      compact: 3,128 lbs
      midsize: 3,258 lbs
      large: 3,909 lbs
      import luxury: 3,614 lbs
      minivan: 4,264 lbs
      fullsize van: 4,925 lbs
      small SUV: 3,672 lbs
      midsize SUV: 4,500 lbs
      large SUV: 4,985 lbs
      and so on….

      from here: http://energy.lbl.gov/ea/teepa/pdf/lbnl-3143e.pdf

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  • Banjo!!! October 20, 2012 at 8:55 am

    I’m kind of a big guy and I’m sure I look like a criminal most days, so I don’t generally get a lot of grief while riding around. So maybe I don’t have the same perspective as many of the commentors here, but what the fuck is wrong with you people? Cameras!?! We shouldn’t need expensive equipment strapped to our selves/ bikes to travel safely through our town. PPB is a joke, the leaders of our community can’t legislate road abusers away, and more people are riding bikes every day. What is going to change first? The easiest thing will change first- when too many people feel endangered on bicycles, they’ll quit riding. This will become another car- choked shithole town if we don’t pressure our civic leaders to require PPB to take a more aggressive enforcement policy against road rage. Any and all intentionally dangerous behaviour should be reported via 911, and every attempt to bust these jerks should be made! Addressing the bad apples individually and consistently will raise patterns and get them off our streets. Nothing less is acceptable.

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  • Dan October 20, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Just last night I was yelled at for signalling my move left in the lane to prepare for a left turn (this was on Woodstock by the library). I was wearing my day-glo jacket, so I was VERY visible. The rationale this person gave was that it was really raining and he couldn’t see very far in front of his car, so I needed to get out of the street (You could get killed!!). Let me see: YOU can’t see to safely operate a 2000lb vehicle, and I should get out of the way? This is like driving a cement truck through the Saturday Market yelling “Out of the way! You might get hurt!”

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  • ulises October 20, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Good morning, fellow bikers,
    Even though I live in a 3rd world country where corruption is openly king and enforcing the law sounds like a joke, your considerations are still reasonable here, I have found myself considering them some times, just as people here, who still think the legal system is aimed to make justice. However, what I finally decided is realistic, no matter how almost no on here would agree with me is to simplify things this way:
    if someone drives is a way that would damage me, he is responsible, because he is neglectful, he does not care about others, or he just wants to abuse more vulnerable people.
    I carry a small stone in my Pocket. I would stop and throw it to his car so he would know that violence brings violence, and abusing might back bounce against himself.
    if he stops to confront me, I would just put my bike aside and invite him to come and try to give me what he is offering. Almost all the times they suddenly wake up and realize that the difference between the power of their car and that of my bike is not the same as his and mine and wimp out. Once a fat man came after me in rage, but as I did not want to hurt him, I just had fun making him try to chase me running around his car. after he got very tired (some seconds), he yelled something nasty and left.
    We should have a Stone-Throwing Bike Squad there to make those who don’t respect us, fear us, and think twice before abusing.
    I know this does not help you in a land where anyone has a gun and law is enforced to protect oil business… but I just wanted to share this to make you dream… or have nightmares 🙂

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  • 007 October 20, 2012 at 11:30 am

    A couple of weeks ago on my way to work someone in a big black sedan was harassing me with his vehicle, swerving toward me to get out of the way. I called 911 when I got to work. They sounded very interested in my call but the lic. plate tag I gave them came up invalid, so I must’ve remembered it incorrectly. I just put the non emergency # in my cell. Thanks.

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    • Observerx October 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      Or alternatively, he had bogus plates, which is why he felt free to do that.

      I once reported a hit-and-run on a cyclist in California (the car hit the cyclist, and just took off) – I had a perfect ID of the car and plates, and it turned out the plates weren’t valid.

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  • Spencer October 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    The issue with calling is cops don’t car. My NE neighborhood has several very narrow side street twice this summer on the worst of them I had two different drivers follow to close honk at me swear at me and rev there engine in front of three cops. (Two parked, one driving) nothing happened. If we have to share the roads can only get greenways and not dedicated bike lanes this kind of behavior must be ticketed.

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  • dr2chase October 20, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Cargo bike, gun rack. I’m joking, I think.

    But I must say, the time I was carrying a sickle for experimental on-the-fly weed trimming (very disappointing, maybe it needed to be sharper), all the cars give me a whole lot of room. This being Massachusetts, I’m not 100% sure that carrying a giant knife in public is allowed in general, so since the weed trimming didn’t work very well, I didn’t repeat the experiment.

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  • wallis October 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    History, much of it personel, tells me – yes, we should report motorist abuse. This question – “should we report it?” – has been asked many times in the past. Should we have reported the abuse of those who happen to have been born with on the wrong side of the fence, with the wrong color of skin, with the wrong sexual preference, with the wrong skillsets. Now, should we report abuse of those who prefer clean air, excercise, and affordable transportation. History suggest that the answer is – yes, report this abuse; do not tolerate evil; be seriously civil. Make that answer- hell yes, to let those who happen to have no grasp of history, and thus answer “no”, understand what awaits them when they meet their maker.

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  • are October 20, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    four words. valve core stem remover.

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    • are October 20, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      or valve stem core remover, one of those

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  • Anonomyous October 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Friday evening, when it was raining, I was biking in the bike lane on Williams Ave. There was a Portland Transit Police Car approximately two feet ahead of me in the vehicle lane. Without turning on any signal or lights, the office abruptly pulled into the bike lane and stopped. Fortunately there was enough space between the curb and police car that I was able to avoid being hit by the police car. As soon as the office in the passenger side got out, I said “you almost hit me!” His response was “Was I the one driving”; he immediately walked away. I waited around and approached the officer who was driving after he finished his police call. He was very confrontational, aggressive, and unprofessional as he told me I should have been able to see his white car.

    It is hard to understand how the police will help with road rage, aggressive drivers, or near-misses when they behave in the same manner.

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  • Blinky October 21, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Well there’s always the permit to carry a concealed weapon. Maybe the bully drivers need to realize that if they menace us with their multi-ton weapon, we can and will do whatever it takes to defend our lives. There’s maybe only one way that lawmakers and law enforcers will give serious thought to making sure cyclists have equal rights and protection on the road, and that will happen when cyclists start shooting back.

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    • dr2chase October 22, 2012 at 11:28 am

      I think this is a big mistake, and why I was not sure if my “cargo bike, rifle rack” suggestion should be considered a joke or not. To quote Dr. Strangelove, “the whole point of a doomsday machine is lost, if you keep it a secret”. The advantage of the “rifle rack” is that it gives an obvious indication that conflict could be bad. A concealed weapon, the conflict starts, THEN it is revealed to be a bad idea. Oops. Your hope is that people would think about this and treat bikes better, but I think the whole problem is that people driving aren’t thinking, they’re cruising along on autopilot, and when they get jostled out of their rut they get mad. If you wave a gun, they call the police, and then YOU’RE the bad guy.

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  • Al from PA October 21, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Always ride with a helmet camera on, get the plate # and if it’s bad put the plate # and video on you-tube. –This after contacting the police, of course. Nowadays the internet and video are more powerful than the police.

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  • Vance Longwell October 21, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Should you report it: yes. Should you expect the outcome of this report to satisfy you 100%: no.

    Misdemeanor assault and battery, what, infractions, crimes??, have been outmoded, in my opinion. Not enough contextual distinction. In an effort to exercise the zero tolerance of domestic abuse, bullying, terrorism, robbery, and so on, we have too stringently sanctioned more pedantic behaviors resulting in fisticuffs. Several times I have been harassed in a way that left me feeling as though I could have physically stopped a person from harassing me, yet ultimately was left feeling impotent because my only non-criminal course of action was to submit.

    Worse still, I don’t want to pay the police to deal with this kind of stuff anyway. And I’m not surprised when they don’t, even though it is they who’ve been tasked with enforcement. I especially don’t need the police at the expense of my freedom to take care of my own problems.

    While we flail about between a desire to control/stop a certain behavior, and enforcement of the prohibitions, the behavior continues unabated now directly due to the very laws in place to stop it. No enforcement, no interceding by the victim, equals no consequences for committing low-level assault and battery-type, person-on-person offences. This lack of consequences practically incentivises antisocial behavior.

    I see the gaping holes in this position as easily as anyone else can. I acknowledge merit in much of the arguments from those in opposition. Regardless, it is perfectly true that there are practically no consequences, in the current state, for anyone who would harass you with impunity; and that is simply not right.

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  • SJE October 21, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I live in WashDC and check in on Portland to see how things are going in more bike friendly parts of the USA. This story bummed me out.

    So what happended to this specific driver? Suspended license, dangerous driving, and then assault and battery. Did the PPD go and arrest this person and impound the car? Why not? Here in DC there is a strong focus on getting the law changed so that bikers can sue drivers because the police seem not to care.

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    • El Biciclero October 22, 2012 at 9:11 am

      “there is a strong focus on getting the law changed so that bikers can sue drivers because the police seem not to care.”

      Isn’t that the essence of L.A.’s recently-passed ordinance allowing victims to sue when Law Enforcement drags their heels or refuses to act? Also sounds roughly similar to Oregon’s citizen-initiated citation process.

      To me, these kinds of measures are cop-outs (heh) in the guise of “empowerment”. What should be a normal function of law enforcement–something we already pay for as taxpayers–is pushed off to the private citizen, at great loss of time and personal resources, to pursue. How about if I just carry a gun and shoot at any vehicle that appears to be coming at me in a threatening fashion–isn’t that what the police would do?

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  • Armando Ruddiger McGillacuddy October 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    In the case of the posted letter above, yes, you should report it, it was attempted assault with property damage. I find that taking motorists photo when they stopped at a light screaming obscenities shuts them up faster than anything. You can’t get through to people like that, but what you can do is offend them by taking their picture. Bonus points for getting a picture of the LP as well. This will also help in the event you make a police report.

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  • bArbaroo October 21, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I was nearly clipped at that same spot. Nice sunny day, large pink cargo bike, no excuse for not being seen. The driver came so close (about 10″ or less from my front wheel) that I had to slam on my brakes to avoid contact with the car. After regaining my composure, I followed the car and as the driver turned into a KATU parking lot, I confronted her. She said she didn’t even see me. That’s scarier to me than an intentional action – clear line-of-sight, mid-day, large pink bike – how do you not see that! But she was shaken enough in hearing what happened and very apologetic so I really think the issue was distracted driving and not intended malice…still, same sketchy spot on the road.

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  • pg October 21, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    I was involved in an incident where a driver yelled at me and my son, then cut us off in the lane and started a very loud verbal confrontation. I took a picture of the vehicle’s license plate and rode away fairly shaken up.

    I called the police later and the officer was very helpful. He said definitely call immediately whenever there is a risk of a physical encounter or when someone tries to cut you off with their car.

    He followed up although the car was apparently registered in Eugene and a few weeks later performed a picture lineup for us. Unfortunately we did not identify the right person (it was two months later at that point) but the officer told us he’d still visit the person and give him a verbal warning.

    I wrote a letter of commendation for the officer’s file. I hope others do the same for officers who are responsive to complaints.

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  • peter haas October 21, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    If I was king, I’d make all cars have a 2 horns. The second one would be inside the car right above the drivers head. They can honk all they want but by god, they’re going to hear it too. So saith the king.

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  • Kristophr October 22, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I bicycle commuted back in 2008 when I lived in Portland.

    I simply carried a pistol. Road rage is a felony in Oregon, and people committing felonies do not get to sue their victims when they get injured by self-defensive force while committing a felony.

    Don’t let someone victimize you.

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  • Craig Harlow October 22, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Damage or no damage, call it in.

    I was tailgated with horn blasting (happens much too often), while riding south on Vancouver near the Rose Garden. I was taking the lane at the time due to debris in the bike lane just south of Weidler. To my surprise and delight, I then watched the driver park inside the Rose Garden parking garage.

    I phoned police, and told them that the car was right here and the man driving was at that moment inside the building. At first, the officer who arrived had a clear anti-bike attitude toward me (words he chose, doubting tone, manner of speech). But when I told him that I was serving on the PBOT committee that currently had cameras aimed at that intersection monitoring “the box” for last year’s Williams/Wheeler bikeway project, he became all “yes sir, I understand sir” (It turned out later the cameras were no longer in place). The officer then looked up the plate and identified the owner, and went inside to find him.

    In the end there was no citation, but the driver enjoyed a police visit at his place of work, and the D.A.’s office took up the issue with the owner before dropping it for lack of evidence. Had there been video, that gentleman would have faced charges for “menacing” and for reckless endangerment.

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  • Tanner Volz October 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    On bike, I am very rarely harassed by drivers in this town, or maybe I just don’t notice it because I’m so focused on what I’m doing. When driving, I frequently receive verbal abuse from people on bikes who want me to drive faster, magically move out of the vehicle lane, etc. Again, maybe I just notice it more when driving, I don’t know.

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  • random_rider October 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Two incidents two weeks ago, both while riding with my 9 and 10 year old kids to school; each of us on our own bikes:
    1. Riding on Going bike blvd in the middle of the west-bound lane. A car was coming east at approximately 35 mph (best guess) right down the middle of the road. We all moved to curb since to make sure there was plenty of room and as he got closer I gave a hand signal and said with a smile “please slow down”. I doubt he heard me even though his window was open, but I was hoping he’d read my lips. He slammed on the brakes and screamed for us to “get the ‘ef’ out of the middle of the ‘effing’ road”. As I said, we were at the curb at this point. I did not reply and we all continued on our way.

    2. On N Michigan in the middle of a line of a few cars waiting to turn left onto westbound Alberta to get over the interstate. An SUV a couple of cars behind us started honking even though there was nowhere for anyone to go. I doubt it was directed at us since there were a couple of cars between us. Once we got on Alberta mid-way across the overpass she got directly behind us; the cars that had been separating us had all turned onto northbound I5. She started repeatedly hitting her horn and yelled at me to get the kids off the road, that we didn’t belong on the street and that we were endangering our kids. I turned around and yelled back that this was the only way for us to cross the highway and that she was the one endangering us. She pulled up to within a couple of feet of my bike and continued to blow her horn until she turned onto southbound I5, squealing tires and swerving as she took off from the stop sign. When we got to school less than 5 minutes later I called 911 and said that there was a driver acting erratically, recklessly honking at others and screaming obscenities at them. I gave the vehicle and driver description as well as the license number. The woman on the phone seemed concerned and thanked me for calling it in. At no point did I say that I was on a bicycle since I was never asked and the driver was exhibiting this same behavior to other cars as well as to us. I didn’t think us being on bikes had anything to do with her actions but was concerned that I would be taken less seriously.

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  • Art Fuldodger October 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    a little late in the thread, but Ray Thomas has an excellent discussion of harassment by motorists in “Pedal Power” (on the Swanson Thomas Coon & Newton website) – see page 127.

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  • Nate October 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    One note from personal experience:
    On a couple of occasions, I’ve been harassed by commercial vehicles. In this case, short of physical conflict (in which case CALL THE COPS) I’d suggest going to the company first. Bad drivers are a high cost for companies with fleets.
    One was a larger Postal Truck (yeah – groan…) used for runs to/from distributions centers. I was taking the lane WB over the Steel Bridge and he revved and honked the whole way over, quite close to my rear wheel. At the light at the far end, having caught up to traffic, I wheeled back to the driver window to see what was the matter (fairly calm at this point). He hurled a string of obscenities and said I didn’t belong on the road. After pointing out the “Bikes on Roadway” signs visible for opposing traffic, he kept going. I memorized the vehicle number, and rode directly in to the distribution center there in NW and filed a formal complaint. It took about 20 minutes to fill out the paper form. But I did hear back a week later from someone following up. I never heard more, but it was clear that he was being “investigated.”
    The other notable incident had me driving and a carpet van road-raging at me on the freeway. It lasted >10 minutes, and after just a few, I had my passenger call the number on the side of the van. We told them what was going on, and very quickly the driver chilled out and took the very next exit – I assumed they got a call from their dispatcher with strong earful…

    I’ve also long thought about some sort of marble dispenser to affix to my top tube…

    But, it’s better to de-escalate whenever possible, and let the authorities deal with the issue – such as they do.

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  • dude October 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I’ve thought of putting a big air horn on my bike. Does anyone know about any air horns that can fit a bike? I don’t need (or want) a big canister on my handlebars, as I expect I’d only use it a few times a year. I want one that’s as loud as a big truck horn. That oughta wake up an offending motorist.

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    • resopmok October 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm

      you can find what you want at a marine supply store.

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  • Dustin October 23, 2012 at 4:16 am

    report it?

    just start collecting fragments of shattered tail lights 🙂

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  • Vance Longwell October 23, 2012 at 7:27 am

    I wish to point out that there is a very common theme to many of the comments in this thread. “I was taking the lane, when all of a sudden…”. Just to paraphrase, and since, “…taking the lane…”, is a metaphor, after riding out in front of a motorist and impeding them, and for no good reason, many of these motorists, “road-rage”, at our perfectly innocent cyclist.

    “Taking the lane”, is a mass-delusion. You can’t take a lane anywhere. You can’t take it, you can’t move it, you can’t handle the lane, in any way. You can ride on it. You can ride as far to the right as practicable, as the law requires you to do, or you may ride anywhere else. If you choose to ignore the law, and further choose to impede, inconvenience, or endanger, a motorist while you’re doing it, be prepared to piss somebody off. Even if there were some law singling out bicycle riders for special access to the highway, as so many of you seem convinced, this would still not mitigate the antisocial nature of inconveniencing a total stranger for purposes of granting yourself special access.

    I really wonder why I bother. The way the average bicycle rider in Portland behaves on the road is doing way more damage to the ’cause’ than I ever possibly could. With that, ya’ll just keep, “…taking the lane…”, riding in slow moving, spread out groups, ignoring traffic signals, hogging up space with your pedal powered barcalounger, blocking right turning motorists at red lights while stopped illegally on a highway, speeding on short-eastside sidewalks, and everybody’s favorite, tell us one more time about your trip to Europe, and how much better they are than the rest of us. Please, steady as she goes!

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    • dr2chase October 23, 2012 at 7:51 am

      There’s this bit:

      814.430(2)(c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is TOO NARROW FOR A BICYCLE AND VEHICLE TO TRAVEL SAFELY SIDE BY SIDE. Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.

      When someone says “taking the lane”, they’re talking about exactly this. (And yes, I did go read 811.425 — clearly there are ambiguous situations. But just as clearly, if taking the lane is a “mass delusion”, then the Oregon legislature is part of the deluded masses.)

      You realize that you are demonstrating, yet again, that when a motorist lectures a bicyclist on the law, the motorist is wrong. Good work confirming that stereotype.

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      • El Biciclero October 23, 2012 at 4:24 pm

        I don’t think Vance is necessarily a stereotypical motorist; I think he spends (or at least has spent) a pretty vast amount of time getting around on a bike.

        There are arguments against the idea that bicycles are subject to slow-moving vehicle laws, but I think the only thing that would be really defensible is that 811.425 specifies a place where “safe” turnout may be made. If a cyclist is using the full lane due to the impracticality of sharing side-by-side with cars, then there is–seemingly by definition–no place where “safe” turnout may be made. I’ve found myself in situations like this before, and I’ll take advantage of a driveway or wide spot when it presents itself if I am going exceptionally slow, such as uphill. I will admit, though that if I’m moving within 3mph of the speed limit, I don’t bother pulling over and stopping.

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        • Paul in the 'couve October 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm

          The prima facia minimum speed in 811.105 for a residential street is 15mph. Also it does specify roads wide enough for two way travel. On some neighbourhood streets with parked cars in Portland that might not be true. Other than that the statute is a bit ambiguous. Unfortunately the ambiguity seems to lean in the side of faster vehicles but it also sounds much like it was written primarily for highways and rather than city streets.

          In general, if I do move over and don’t intentionally just block cars behind me. Other state laws in this regard that I’ve read mention holding up more than 3 vehicles and specify some standards beyond just get out of the way. Clearly the police and courts could combine to force cyclist to yield immediately under 811.425 meaning turn into the next driveway. I think that is unlikely.

          As a reasonable person, I won’t generally insist on holding the lane more than a block unless a) I am travelling very near the speed limit, b) I can see a red light just ahead (and am moving near the speed limit) c) I am riding on one of the neighbourhood green ways. As I said, otherwise I will move over and allow passing as soon as there is a stretch of open shoulder and if there isn’t one within a block or so, I will pull over if I am holding up vehicles.

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          • Paul in the 'couve October 23, 2012 at 6:46 pm

            Actually I got something wrong. The prima facie MAXIMUM speed for a residential street is 15mph. There is no minimum speeds set.

            To that extent 811.425 is a bit difficult to understand, but it seems like the Maximums in 811.105 become MINIMUMS when someone is overtaking you as long as they are traveling at a speed in conformity with 811.105 but 811.105 also references 811.180 for posted speed limits. My best understanding is 811.425 then are the minimum speeds below which you must pull over an allow faster vehicles to pass (as long as they are operating within the speed limits). However, there is still some major ambiguity. 15mph is the 811.105(2)(a) max/min speed on “narrow residential streets” and 811.105(2)(b) has 20mph for commercial districts. The only section that has anything about arterials and collectors is 811.105(2)(d) and it specifically is in reference to outside of cities.

            All told, what it adds up best I can interpret it is that in most of Portland on neighborhood streets there is no way 811.425 could be enforced as long as a cyclist was riding 15mph. On collector streets and minor arterials (like perhaps NE 47th) it is very ambiguous, but it is not at all clear that 15 or maybe 20mph isn’t fast enough to not be violating 811.425. Further, 811.425 does not seem to apply AT ALL on streets with more than one lane in the travel direction, nor does it seem to apply if it is safe and legal to pass in the opposite lane 811.425(1)(d)

            In any case, I can’t see any justification for invoking or citing someone for violating 811.425 for taking the lane for 1 block regardless of riding speed, and if one is riding 15mph to 20mph 2 or 3 blocks is not out of line if there isn’t a good shoulder stretch to let people by.

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    • Paul in the 'couve October 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm


      Put this on the other foot and try it out: “this would still not mitigate the antisocial nature of inconveniencing a total stranger for purposes of granting yourself special access.”

      What exactly is it that auto culture has done to PEOPLE everywhere in the past 50 years and accelerated in the past 20? People have the right to get around – it isn’t a privilege. Walking and self propelled transportation has been literally run over and run into the ground by autos. Drivers in their $40,000 metal boxes don’t have the right to keep everyone else from getting where they need to go safely.

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  • Portland's One Stop Electric Bike Shop
    Portland's One Stop Electric Bike Shop October 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I am considering wearing discrete helmet cams (front and back) when I ride. If a car intentionally harasses you, it can be considered assault with a deadly weapon. The issue is proving it. If have the cam rolling, you don’t need to confront, just meet with officers and show them the footage.

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  • Robert Burchett October 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Helmet cams: very useful for people who know and obey traffic laws! (; )

    On a day that one unfortunate encounter occurs, after months of calm and mutual good behavior among road users, often there is another, or two. Maybe it’s me? I really don’t know.

    When a person is driving quite aggressively, that seems reason enough to suppose that they are intoxicated. Oregon has a DUII hotline. It’s not about bikes–they are driving erratically, swerving, speeding. Be accurate.


    When things get weird, coach yourself to get the license plate number, description of driver, description of car. Gender, hair etc., paint color, how many doors is a good place to start (this is not simple to do when you are frightened or upset).

    If a person curses you, repeat their description to them a couple of times–it says “I am an effective witness to your behavior.” As with the cell phone camera, it might also provoke them.

    Maybe the best answer, from Patrick: tell them “You scared me.” And when they rationalize, repeat it.

    Ask your attorney about touching the car.

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  • Biking mom October 25, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I was told, when I called the non-emergency police number after a car swerved at me, honking and screaming (then zoomed away) that “there is absolutely nothing they can do at this point” (it was 20 minutes after I got home.) I gave her the license plate number and she seemed disinterested, practically yawning as she said she’d let officers in the area know. A insider friend of mine told me the only way to reliably get police help is to 1) get plate number/car description 2) call 911 immediately and 3) report an erratic and threatening driver. RIGHT when it is happening. Otherwise…most likely, its a waste of a call.

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  • Andrew Krejci November 4, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I’ve got a Gopro video camera and use it daily, but it still didn’t help when I called in someone who honked so close it affected my hearing. The officer said they have to witness it, video doesn’t matter. If you get a good officer, they may call the licensed owner. I got a jerk who lectured me about calling in such a low priority incident. He was real bitchy until I mentioned a previous incident of a driver throwing coffee on me, then he got serious. Having a video camera is still a very good idea. But, don’t expect anything from the police in helping you unless you are hit with something or it is a repeat offender.

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  • Will October 25, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    What about pedestrians and bikes? I have tried talking to the Portland and just got funny looks,suspect they are so focused on vehicles that no one relies what it is like walking. Case in point, walking the east side esplanade and my family including toddlers were used like slalom poles, notice, no warning, just A types with a single purpose.

    Another example, Stutt your Mutt walk last month in Sellwood. My wife is in a wheelchair and here service dog is with her. We are all the way on the side as walkers are going both ways on the Springwater trail. Most bikers aware, dismounted and walked through the 1/2 mile road block. But then some ass tries to ride through and hits my wife’s service dog, no apologizes, hits her again on the left leg and I got pissed. I do not think this is a normal rider but this stuff is happening to pedestrians like us more often

    Not we share these paths, we do not walk down the center without a clue, we Tay right as much as possible.

    You all talk about cars, give the same courtesy you want to pedestrians. I feel like I am in your way but it’s our path too

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  • Frank February 23, 2016 at 9:57 am

    I don’t live anywhere near Portland, but still curious about something. I run at work mid-day when I get a chance, and a few times, the same trashy girls have harassed me and/or my friend when we run by them by rolling their windows down and yelling at us. Pretty nasty stuff. Hasn’t escalated to the point of anything physical – nothing like the original article (why would one *not* report a clear case of assault & battery?). But I’m afraid it’ll go there, and I’m carrying a phone while these girls are driving a 3000 pound SUV, so guess who wins that fight?

    I want to go to the local PD and report it as multiple incidents of verbal harassment…not sure what, if anything, they would do about this, but it’s not a one-off thing, and there’s only one way in and one way out of the road my workplace is on, so it’ll be hard to avoid future encounters.

    Today I just repeated her license plate # back to her as I snapped a pic of it, after she rolled down her window to begin her obscenity-laced tirade…doubt that’ll be enough to get it to stop.

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  • still riding after all that February 24, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    “They should call that in,” Capt. Hendrie says. “If there’s injury or damage to the bike it’s a hit-and-run, it’s a crime.”

    Captain Hendrie should share that information with PPB patrol officers.

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