Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Official response needed to alleviate tensions

Posted by on July 19th, 2006 at 12:17 pm

I am growing increasingly concerned that no official organization or agency has made a public statement about this situation.

I have received several emails and many comments about dangerous motorist/cyclist incidents in the past few days. Many cyclists feel they might be targets of drivers who are emboldened by comments made on the radio show and who are upset at the immense response and activism against their show from the bike community.

I feel that an official response from the City of Portland or some other established and respected community organization (remember, I’m just a “rogue blogger” in the eyes of many) would go a long way toward calming things down.

I have heard that letters are being exchanged behind the scenes, but so far nothing has surfaced that is for public consumption.

If we really want to show the community that we take this seriously, and if we want to show the world that Portland stands for livability and transportation equality, there must be an official statement released.

The sooner the better.

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  • Tree July 19, 2006 at 12:24 pm

    I’ll say. You are so right. Where is the leadership in this city? What is it going to take for our mayor and perhaps the chief of police to make a statement? Granted, the blokes who listen to that radio station probably don’t watch local news or read, so Tom Potter and Rosie Sizer should appear on that station, during rush hour, and take a stand! Jeez! Platinum city? Not by a long shot.

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  • Michael July 19, 2006 at 12:28 pm

    Sam Adams may be the cycling community’s top advocate. Has this been brought to his attention? A visit to his office, in person, would be worthwhile. Also, I know he has a professional mediator on his staff. That could be useful.

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  • patrick July 19, 2006 at 12:43 pm

    What is it you want them to say? If they haven’t heard the broadcast how could they comment on it? Or??

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  • Tree July 19, 2006 at 12:53 pm

    I just spoke with Linda from the Chief of Police’s office.
    Linda said she was personally unaware of the broadcast from July 13th. I gave her the skinny on Jammin 95.5. I suggested the mayor and the chief appear on the radio station. I gave her bikeportland’s URL.
    Linda said if anyone has anything thrown at them or are harassed in some way while on their bike, make a police report even if you don’t know who the perp is or the lic plate #. I believe the ph # is 503-823-3333. Make a note of it and carry it with you.
    I reached the chief’s office by calling
    503-823-0000 and said I wanted to get a message to the chief. I was promptly transferred to her executive assistant, Linda. Please call the chief and express your concerns. And file a police report if anything menacing happens to you.
    Be active and report menaces.

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  • Ayala July 19, 2006 at 1:04 pm

    I left messages on the “opinion lines” of both Sam Adams and Tom Potter yesterday around 10 AM. As of now, I’ve yet to receive a response. However, I wasn’t particularly expecting any response from them.

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  • Dom July 19, 2006 at 1:14 pm

    I emailed the mayor the day the broadcast went out.

    Phone: 503-823-4120
    Fax: 503-823-3588

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  • Nathanael July 19, 2006 at 1:15 pm

    It might be worth noting that The Playhouse has removed any mention of the cyclist situation from it’s web page, as well as links to the viewer comments that were pasted in earlier threads.


    Not that this makes anything better, but having those comments on here at least prevents them from being “deleted” as potential evidence of wrong-doing.

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  • Jonathan Maus July 19, 2006 at 1:18 pm


    I think it would be prudent for them to address the situation without assigning any guilt.

    They should also apply pressure and request a copy of the broadcast.

    Also, I have heard from Sam Adam’s office that they are working hard to complete their letter and I expect to publish it later today.

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  • Mikee July 19, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    I had a brief exchange of emails yesterday with Commissioner Adams, so, at the least, I can confirm that he knows about the situation.

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  • Brett July 19, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    So, what is the motivation for all of this? Is it for people to lose jobs, stations to lose their license? Is it to escalate an already tense situation, is it to be seen and heard at “city hall”? Or is it to insure the safety of the individual bicyclist on the street? If eveyone’s concern is for the safety of the biker… is the direction this is going the best way to make that happen? Come on, don’t be mad, it’s a valid question. Is the way this is going the best expenditure of energy? NO ONE in all of these posts has said that we bicyclists need to pay extra attention to signal our intentions while on the road so as not to give anyone ANY excuse to treat us badly. How about that for being concerned about the safety of bikers on the road. I only ride about 80 miles a week but I bet I can count the people I see signaling on my hands and feet in a whole week. I’m just saying that we all need to make sure our own house is in order… and THEN we bring in the bulldozers.

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  • Randy July 19, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    Brett – So, by your logic, motorists shouldn’t complain about bicyclists, either, until each and every one of them are obeying the speed limit at all times, stopping for each and every red light and signalling each and every one of their turns. Can you say double standard?

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  • Brett July 19, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    Yes, I can. But this isn’t. Everyone complains, that’s fine. But what is going on in here isn’t just complaining on the part of this bike community, it’s much more than that. And, simply by placing all “motorists” into this is an unfair generalization. I’d buy “motorists that listen to the station and would act on comments of the DJ’s” So, please don’t take me out of context… But I digress… my point is back to- what is best for the safety of the individual bicyclist on the street? If this current direction is the will of the people of this site, GREAT. I’m just saying… think about what it is you really want.

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  • Randy July 19, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    My biggest concern is that motorists know so little about actual traffic law as it pertains to bicyclists that they are likely to interpret completely legal cyclist behavior as illegal, and we don’t want motorists performing vigilante acts against law-abiding cyclists, or against any cyclists, for that matter.

    I think Jonathan is right to persue this, I think he’s been very level-headed in his coverage and reasonable in his goals and objectives. Of course, he can edit or delete posts, but he can’t control what each and every person posting here says; the inflamatory remarks are not Jonathan’s personal comments.

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  • Tree July 19, 2006 at 2:22 pm

    Are you for real? I haven’t read anyone on this site who thinks this issue is about “all motorists” as you say. It is about the radio station jeapardizing our safety! That is what we are up in arms about. Get a clue and quit posting to this forum since you’re on a different topic.

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  • davehog July 19, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    Am I missing something here? Lot’s of drivers in and around Portland and jerks to cyclists, that isn’t gonna change. If these silly radio non-personalities are advocating violence against cyclists, it doesn’t matter because no one remembers anything that they say 30 seconds after they say it. It’s just noise. Making this big federal case about it DOES make people remember it, and DOES make people think cyclists are whiny and thin-skinned.

    I actually like the fact that my being a cyclist pisses drivers off; I find the whole thing entertaining. Not to generalize, but it’s usually the drivers that are driving luxury gas-guzzlers, stuffing their faces with a McGriddle and talking on their phones — so I figure that their unfounded anger just brings them one step closer to that inevitable, massive coronary. So, it’s far more detremental to them than it is to me.

    Lighten up people, it’s summer time: Let’s ride!


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  • Brett July 19, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    I hear ya. So then the issue is motorist education, unfortunately not part of this item. Maybe Jonathan could start a blog on how to do that.
    I think this issue should be pressed too. There are many great comments in these pages. And I understand Jonathan’s role here. But… I don’t agree with the headline of this one, if we rely on an official response to alleviate tensions… well, we just aren’t working hard enough to be part of the solution, not to mention that headline itself is sensationalistic and editorial.

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  • Jim F. July 19, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    Gotta admit I feel the same way Dave does. I’ve watched PK and the Playhouse on TV a couple of times and didn’t think it was too funny. But I really don’t take anything that happens on a show like that very seriously. Seems kinda thin skinned for something like this to get to people so much. And this entire incident is now collosally blown out of proportion.

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  • zach July 19, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    Brett, would it bother you if a KBOO DJ advocated the shooting of drivers who violate traffic laws? Especially if that kind of thing happened from time to time already?

    That would border on terrorism – Just like the actions of the playhouse DJ’s does.

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  • andy July 19, 2006 at 3:21 pm

    Yep, there are a lot of jerks out there, on 4-wheels and 2-wheels. And like Dave says, that ain’t gonna change. But that’s not the issue, either. Let me start with this quote (lifted from Wikipedia):

    “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. […] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.” Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., 1919

    The issue is that a radio personality was allegedly encouraging violence on-air. (Egging listers on to call in and tell their stories of hitting and injuring cyclists is most certainly encouraging violence.) Shock jocks make their money being outrageous, being as offensive as possible and getting a rise out of people. They are well within their right to be assholes, so let ’em do it. But when they (or anybody) start advocating injury and death on air, to a national audience, that does present the “clear and present danger” about which Holmes wrote. I don’t think this is even an issue specific to cyclists – if he’d been talking about targeting and injuring muslims, or gays, or rich yuppies, or trekkies, or whoever – it exceeds what is allowable under the 1st amendment because there are inevitably a few individuals out there who will take those words to heart and act on them. In our case, it only takes a second on a lonely road for somebody to swerve, hit a cyclist (or pedestrian, or motorcyclist), and keep going. And there are certainly more who will be emboldened by such language and use their power to intimidate and terrorize, even if injury is not the aim.

    Yes, PK, the Playhouse, and 95.5 should be held accountable – if they have, indeed, transgressed those limits. Just as, as Zach says, any other radio host should be held accountable for similar language. We don’t have the means to test this, which is why this should rightly be brought to the FCC, the police, and the city. Those organizations have the means and authority to judge whether or not this occurred and what the penalties should be, if any. We should, however, keep pushing the FCC, the city, the police, to make sure that there is a hearing on this. Once decided, one way or the other, then we can put the issue to rest and enjoy the rest of the summer.

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  • Brett July 19, 2006 at 3:23 pm

    If you just want to argue, sorry- I’m not your guy. If you want to discuss tensions in the radio/bike community… what’s up?

    PS- that’s not, by definition, terrorism

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  • Brett July 19, 2006 at 3:27 pm


    Wow, brilliant, elloquent… right on!
    I nominate Andy as offical movement spokesman.

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  • Garrett July 19, 2006 at 3:45 pm

    On the Mercury’s blog they are reporting that Sam Adams is drafting a letter that Mayor Potter supports and hopefully will be at the station by Friday. They promise to post the letter as soon as they get a copy.

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  • Michael July 19, 2006 at 4:13 pm

    The problem here is there are already too many issues that make using the streets dangerous for all users. A public figure (DJ on KXJM) has no business deliberately trying to escalate the danger level. He has no more right to do so than he does to make on the air “jokes” about bombs on aircraft. Why? Because someone may take him seriously. If he made similar jokes about air transport that he made about bike transport, he would be in a federal lockup by now, maybe on his way to Gitmo. What we need to do is our best to help him see the dangerous situation he has created and to stop doing it in the future. And a public apology.

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  • Jeremy July 19, 2006 at 9:55 pm

    Brett brings up some good points. Cyclists don’t always signal and some rarely ever do. This is largely a case of three major problems: 1) Hand signaling makes you less in control of the bike (accounted for in law that allows cyclists not to MAINTAIN a signal, but does not allow to forgo signaling altogether). 2) Traffic situations can actually make it dangerous to signal (something about keeping the arm). 3) Affordable, reliable, and available technology to alleviate the signal problem is not currently in the marketplace (though I did see this interesting light that brightened when the contacts were brought together in the brake lever).

    An education for all would seem to be in order, but inciting, or implicitly promoting bodily harm to anyone, Playhouse personalities and staff, is still not OK.

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