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Road Rage

Man claims he was victim of intentional smoke screen from passing truck

Thursday, February 13th, 2014
A tour of East Portland-5.jpg
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Getting hassled on the road for no other reason than simply being on a bike is unfortunately relatively common here in the United States. Usually it involves someone yelling at you, or honking, or revving their engine, or all of the above.

But yesterday we heard of a disturbing new method of anti-bike road rage: a smoke screen that sends a huge black cloud from a truck's tailpipe. We're not talking about someone intentionally revving their engine and sending a bunch of exhaust into your face (that's bad enough, and yes, it's all too common) — what happened to reader John M. Tuesday night was worse.

John says the incident happened while riding near the Mt. Tabor reservoir. Here's his account: (more...)

PSU researcher delving into "multimodal road rage"

Thursday, April 18th, 2013
Traffic observations- NE Alberta St-8
Could road rage tell us something
about the gender gap in bicycling?
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Tara Goddard, a PhD candidate in Urban Studies at Portland State University (PSU), is devoting her thesis to a subject that gets a lot of traction in the media but so far has received scant attention in academia: road rage between people who drive and people who bike.

According to Goddard, her research will focus on the "interactions between drivers and bicyclists," an aspect of "transportation psychology" research that is largely untapped (most major studies have focused on driver-to-driver rage). Goddard plans to delve into the mechanisms and predictors of driver-rider road rage. "For example, as drivers, we experience (and sometimes perpetrate) law-bending/breaking all the time," she shared via email. "It is socially acceptable, in many ways. But any scofflaw behavior on the part of a bicyclist suddenly condemns the entire bicycling world."

Why does that happen? Goddard has a few hunches: (more...)

Slapping of car leads to road rage incident in North Portland

Friday, April 5th, 2013
Bike lane in action
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Vancouver resident Don Joling claims he got an unwanted surprise after he slapped the body of a car on North Interstate Avenue this morning. The person in the car became enraged and, according to Joling, it almost led to a shooting.

Here's what Joling just posted to the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association email list:

"I almost got shot on the way home. Literally. I was rolling down Interstate between New Seasons and Fred Meyer and some car came over almost putting me in the sidewalk, so I slapped the rear quarter panel just hard enough to get his attention.

So at the next stop light, at Fred Meyer, I'm que'd [sic] up with a couple other cyclists, and he comes up on my right, and goes ballistic. Tells me that he's got a gun and is going to shoot me in the leg. I stay super calm, not reacting at all. I tell him I was just letting him know he almost hit me. I can see in his car and the glove box is open with his hand in it. He settles down a little telling me he rides too, but I'm lucky I didn't dent his car (he had gotten out to look apparently). A couple more standard issue cuss words (ya I'd say them, but trying to keep this family friendly) from him and we went our separate ways."

(more...)

A Portland road rage roundup

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
Keep calm and carry on.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

I hate to do this.

I get a lot of emails, Tweets, and sometimes even phone calls about collisions, close-calls, and other scary incidents involving people on bicycles. The vast majority of the time I just take in the information in and do nothing about it. After all, there's a lot of traffic out there and I don't think every time a person on a bike has an unfortunate experience it merits a blog post.

Not only that, but I constantly debate with myself whether posting about these things will only create more fear among readers, when overall, riding a bike is not dangerous.

However, earlier this month I received three emails in less than one week that shared three different and equally troubling road rage incidents. Given that, I felt that the community should know. I'm sharing the emails verbatim below in hopes of raising awareness that intimidation and harassment remains a part of Portland's transportation culture: (more...)

Beaverton PD arrest man after road rage altercation in mall parking lot

Thursday, April 5th, 2012
Christopher Williams
(Photo: Beaverton PD)

Yesterday evening Beaverton Police arrested a man who drove his car into someone on a bike, attempted to flee, and then aggressively confronted the rider. The altercation happened in the parking lot of Cedar Hills Crossing Mall on SW Hall Blvd.

According to a Beaverton PD statement, 22-year old Portland resident Derrik Fleming was in the mall parking lot and maneuvered his bike around a stopped car to make a left turn. When he did that, Christopher Williams, a 30-year-old resident of Beaverton, sped up from behind, came around the stopped car in the opposite lane and then slammed on his brakes right in front of Fleming.

"This action caused Fleming to crash," reads the statement, "into the right rear of Williams's vehicle. This crash caused Fleming to go over his handle bars and onto the asphalt of the parking lot."
(more...)

Man recounts hammer-wielding road rage attack in NE Portland

Friday, January 13th, 2012

"... guy jumps out passenger door and yells "are you getting lippy with me ******?" and charges at me with... a hammer."

Late this afternoon, several readers brought a Reddit post titled, Got attacked by 2 dudes in a white van on Thurs in NE, to my attention. It's a harrowing tale that warrants everyone's attention.

Here's the post:

"I was riding my bike to a 4pm class on Sumner in NE. I came to the stop sign at NE 17th and a white van slowly came up to the intersection and stopped. They had the right of way, so I pointed at the stop sign. They both looked at me kinda blankly so I pointed with both hands at the sign and said "look, I have a stop sign, you can go!" (more...)

Russ Roca shares more about his New Zealand road rage incident

Thursday, January 12th, 2012
The incident made headlines across New Zealand.

Former contributor to BikePortland and recent Portland resident Russ Roca and his partner Laura Crawford have finally been able to come up for air following a harrowing road rage incident that happened to them while biking in New Zealand.

Foster and Roca were riding in Wellington when a man driving a sedan passed them aggressively. After hand gestures were exchanged by both sides, the man driving the car stopped, got out and assaulted Russ. The man assaulted Russ, striking him in the face hard enough to cause him to fall to the ground, and then speeding off.
(more...)

Reader Story: Passerby helps calm aggressive honker

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Reader MeiLin Miranda recently had a traffic interaction I thought was worth sharing. It's a story about a display of road rage being defused by a passerby on foot that came to the verbal aid of MeiLin and her daughter while they were biking in Southeast Portland...

"My 14-year-old daughter and I had made a last holiday shopping expedition to the Hawthorne District and were cruising west down Madison on our bikes. I think it was at 37th when this happened — it's a really narrow street that should have parking removed from one if not both sides of the road, but alas.
(more...)

Been harassed on Rock Creek Road? Lawyer says to take action

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

"The hope is that if enough people can show that this issue has also affected them, then the Portland Police and Multnomah County District Attorney's office will... take appropriate, safe legal action."
— Mark Ginsberg, lawyer

The alleged vehicular harassment of people riding bicycles by a resident of NW Rock Creek Road near Skyline Blvd continues to be an unsolved problem.

Mark Ginsberg, a local lawyer, bicycle advocate and member of the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association, is working to soothe tempers and make sure that action is taken against the alleged suspect if warranted.

Today, Ginsberg sent out a message to several bike-related emails lists urging anyone who has been victim to harassment on Rock Creek Road to call the police. I've pasted Ginsberg's email below: (more...)

Bicycling cop, assault suspect sit down, agree to drop charges - UPDATED

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

"It was great for both of us; he's not in his steel/glass cocoon, I'm not on my bike... looking at this guy, it was therapeutic. You kind of humanize each other. He's looking at me as the guy he almost ran over and I'm looking at him as just a normal guy. Not a motorist, not a cyclist."
— Sgt. Joe Santos, PPB

Two weeks ago we reported on a case of alleged road rage involving a man on a bicycle in Northwest Portland. That man was off-duty police officer Sgt. Joe Santos. He was biking into work when he was nearly run over and then allegedly assaulted by Larry Fornshell. The PPB arrested Fornshell shortly thereafter for hit and run and attempted assault.

It seemed like the classic bike vs. car road rage incident; but this one just happened to involve a Portland Police officer on the bike-side of the equation. For that reason alone, the story spurred considerable discussion in the community (233 comments at last count).

Yesterday, Fornshell's son-in-law Gordon Neitling left a comment about the incident, saying that the two parties had met and that had both admitted some degree of fault. Neitling also referred to Sgt. Santos' conduct as being much more aggressive than the PPB let on. Here's a snip from his comment: (more...)

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