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More thoughts on Sunday’s road rage incident

Posted by on July 11th, 2008 at 12:42 pm

“Bikes vs. Cars”. On the front page for the second day in a row.

Like often happens when major bike-related news becomes the talk of the town, the last 24 hours have been a whirlwind of activity here at BikePortland headquarters.

Even though I have loads of other work to do, it is hard for me to think of anything besides the incident reported in The Oregonian yesterday.

And still, this morning, I remain disappointed and I have sort of a sick feeling in my stomach about the whole thing.

(Photo © J. Maus)

While I appreciate the discussion this story has started, I think the way it was framed from the outset — by both The Oregonian and their primary source for the story, the Portland Police Bureau — is having a negative impact on our city. In my inbox this morning, I already have two emails from people who say they were harassed (either verbally or by menancing driving) while biking into work this morning.

First, let me be clear. I think poor decisions were made by all parties.

That being said, I feel this is primarily about an assault that resulted after two people on the road had a disagreement and let their emotions escalate.

Sharing the road, and the tensions road users feel are definitely news, but characterizing this one instance as a major trend in “bicyclist vs. motorist” anger, and presenting the story in a way that pits one user group against another in a false dichotomy, is unnecessary, unproductive and dangerous.

In their follow-up piece today (also on the front page), the Oregonian writes:

“There’s an undercurrent of tension between cyclists and drivers that sometimes erupts into violence…”

Imagine that line above written a bit differently:

“There’s an undercurrent of tension on our roads that sometimes erupts into violence.”

The real issue goes way beyond “bicyclist vs. motorist”.

Case in point. Headlines in Seattle today share news of another road rage incident. A 60 year-old man was tending his garden in a traffic roundabout when he was assaulted and later died after an altercation with someone in a passing car about not driving over his hose.

I feel The Oregonian played on Portland’s reputation as a bike-friendly city and on this city’s appetite for bike-related news — especially when it has to do with the “bike vs. car” debate — in order to run a more sensational and attention-grabbing headline.

Yesterday’s Oregonian cover.

Making stories grab readers’ attention is one thing (I try to do it myself), but there is a line I feel should not be crossed.

In the short-run, The Oregonian might indeed sell a few more papers, but in the long-run I feel they’ve eroded public trust, hurt their brand (something they can ill-afford to do these days), and most importantly, fostered a dangerious animosity between Portlanders.


The photo spread on The Oregonian’s
front page on January 20, 2006.

This is nothing new for The Oregonian. Back in 2006, in the wake of similar civic tensions following the infamous “Cyclist Sues Trimet” story, they ran a huge, front-page splash story titled, “Uneasy Riders.”

In that story, which I also expressed concerns about, reporter Joseph Rose referred to the bike/car relations in Portland as a “Cold War” and hinted that a “backlash against bicyclists” was about to begin. One of the photos accompanying the story showed a man on a bike from an old Critical Mass ride who was wearing a terrorist-like head scarf over his face similar to ones worn by extremists and militants.

As a publisher myself trying to make a living in the news business, I understand why they make their decisions and I understand they have no obligation to be sensitive about the issues. But as a citizen of Portland who understands the dire importance of traffic safety — where escalated emotions can lead to serious injury or even death — I wish they would be more careful with stories like these.

How does the coverage of Sunday’s incident compare with other road rage stories?

Sunday’s incident was plastered on the entire top half of the newspaper with the headline, “Cyclist clubs driver with his bike.”

In contrast, in a major road rage incident last year, a man in a car intentionally ran down a man on a bike on SE Clinton Street. The collision nearly killed Ben Ramsdell, and the man in the car also hit a second person on a bike in the same incident. The driver of the car later told KGW-TV that he was “frustrated the cyclist was not sharing the road.”

Where did that story end up? It was given a few lines of coverage in a roundup of other “Public Safety” stories that ran on page D2.

I find the difference in priority given to these two stories striking.

One component of the story that is particularly troubling is the “mob” mentality of the “angry” group of people that stopped to come to the aid of Steven McAtee (the man on the bike).

From what I’ve learned, the group formed after McAtee had been punched by someone and had fallen to the ground. Imagine yourself coming up on that scene. A car, a bike on the ground, its rider on the ground, the car driver not doing anything to help. It is completely understandable that some people would make the incorrect assumption that the bike rider was in need of support.

Do I condone mobs? Do I condone jumping to conclusions based on scant knowledge of what actually happened? Of course not.

But I understand that situations like this, that are charged with emotion and people yelling and people visibly hurt, are very confusing and it doesn’t take much for things to escalate. Add into the equation the psychology of someone on a 30 pound bike, who rides through the streets within inches of 3,000+ vehicles that with the smallest miscalculation could seriously injure or even kill them.

I don’t doubt that the people who stopped were boisterous and angry, but I just wish the Police Bureau could have been more sensitive in explaining the context of the situation.

What can we do to move this dialogue forward and try to make something positive out of this?

We are All Traffic is a nascent advocacy group that seems particularly well-suited to organize around this issue. You might remember WAAT as the group who helped the community come together in the wake of the two fatalities last October by holding a press conference at City Hall and a rally at Waterfront Park (that was attended (off-duty) by Police Chief Rosie Sizer).

One of the group’s organizers, Erin Greeson, describes WAAT as a “citizen coalition that works to improve safety and equality for all road users,” and says their efforts include working to help educate the media on transportation-related stories and issues.

Greeson feels that yesterday’s coverage of the road rage incident by The Oregonian was “sensationalist” and “a big step backwards”. Greeson says the Oregonian’s coverage,

“Generates new levels of road animosity — which is a life threatening issue — while reinforcing stereotypes and community divides. It is one of the most angering and disappointing pieces of reporting that I have seen this year. It is unacceptable. We can take action to prevent further cases of such irresponsible news coverage.”

WAAT is also planning a “State of the Streets” event in September. If you’re interested in getting involved, they are having a meeting to discuss actions and share ideas this Monday (7/14). For more details, send an email to eringreeson [at] gmail [dot] com.

I realize I’ve written at length about The Oregonian’s coverage. I do this because it had an immense impact on how Portlanders (and now the world) feel about what happened. I also realize there are other important issues that this story has helped bring to light. I plan on covering those in the days and weeks to come, as I’ve done on a daily basis for the past three years.

And, as always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


[Editor’s note/update: I just updated this story (7/11, 9:55pm) with the photo from today’s newsstand edition of The Oregonian. As you can see from the photo, for the second day in a row, they have put this incident on the entire above-the-fold portion of the front page. I am also surprised they used the “Bikes vs. Cars” headline.

Back in October, in the wake of two fatal crashes in as many weeks, they used that same phrase to accompany a graphic/map of locations of recent car/bike collisions. I immediately contacted them and told them the “vs.” part was unduly divisive. They agreed and quickly changed the headline to “Bikes and Cars”. Too bad they did it again.]

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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    bahueh July 11, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I think now is a good time for We Are All Traffic to STEP UP and make itself heard through the media…

    seriously…if I didn\’t read this website occasionally, I would never know they existed…

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    maxadders July 11, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Jonathan, thank you for taking the time to write this. It\’s a shame the Oregonian doesn\’t have more rational, level-headed, objectively focused journalists like yourself. I hope this piece finds its way into the inbox of at least one anti-cyclist commenter from the O\’s piece– we need to move toward civility, not hostility, and I believe your words are the best, most logical interpretation of a very disappointing event.

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    John Reinhold July 11, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Coworkers today started in on the \”we should license bicyclists\” and \”bicycles don\’t pay their share\” arguments this morning.

    Mostly just to try and get under my skin, but it was on their minds due to the story in the paper.

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    T Williams July 11, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Let no person forget that this whole incident has been incited for nothing more than the sake of profit.

    **deleted** you, Oregonian. No wonder you\’re on your last legs.

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    Mary July 11, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Jonathan, your piece was well put. I agree that WAAT should do whatever they can to be more in the public eye. And shame on the Oregonian for their sensationalized article. Something does need to change but that article is not the change Portland needs.

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    Anonymous July 11, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Just a few days ago on Canada\’s busiest highway:

    One of them must\’ve been a bicyclist. I don\’t know how else to explain such a clash.

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    Michael H July 11, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Very well written, THANKS for taking the time to write this and present it in an neutral manner. Hopefully we can all move on and understand both sides of the issue and be compassionate toward one another, Cheers

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    Patrickz July 11, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Thank you, Jonathan. And thanks to all of you out there who choose to remain reasonable and not go to extremes spouting generalities and accusatory statements. And by all means, we need people such as We Are All Traffic to add a good dose of level-headedness to all this sad business.

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    John Russell July 11, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    I don\’t read the Oregonian daily, but I certainly hope that this has sparked more than a few letters to the editor. I also hope that the O has the integrity to publish those letters showing how we really feel after they more or less picked on the road user not protected by thousands of pounds of metal.

    Has the Tribune picked up on this at all?

    Also, on an unrelated note, when can we expect the forums to be back up?

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    cotan July 11, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    It looks to me like the facts of the story are pretty much correct. The tone seems typical for a newspaper regardless of the story (i.e. it\’s nothing against cyclists in particular, it\’s just what makes a good read). There was hostility within the crowd, and the potential for mobs/riots always make for compelling reading.

    It sounds like the main concern here is the location (front page) and proportion given to the story seem out of line.

    That\’s water over the dam now. The question should be one of how to proceed forward to recover from the event. Everyone can piss and moan about how unjust the coverage was, but that doesn\’t move anything forward.

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    Ron July 11, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    On my commute in and home yesterday, I had 3 motorists wave me on at 4 ways when they had clearly stopped before me. It was a good day on a bike, one of the best. Maybe I just got lucky. Maybe people are thinking about all this.

    I know that when I am on my bike I am an ambassador for the bike community, and my actions matter. Should I (or each of us) be seen as representing the entire set of people riding bikes? Of course not. But, such is the case right now, and right now it really matters.

    We\’ll unlikely win over anyone who is hell-bent on hating people on bikes, but we can certainly help prevent the the average person from deciding to characterize us as thugs.

    One thing I always do which I wish more cyclists would do is recognize and if possible show appreciation when someone in a vehicle SEES you, and behaves accordingly. For instance, I always wave a hand back when a driver pauses their right turn so that I can pass by in the bike lane.

    Why thank someone for obeying the law? Why show appreciation for someone simply recognizing my right(s)? Because the world could use a little more manners and appreciation of others around us.

    We\’re all traffic, and all humans, and we\’re all neighbors.

    Off my soapbox now 🙂

    Thanks Jonathan for the great reporting.

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    007 July 11, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Thank you for writing this, Jonathan.

    The Oregonian is so desperate for readers that they \’ll grasp at anything. This is pathectic, but the Oregonian is a pathetic newspaper these days. Renee Mitchell was always trying to start trouble between cars and bikes in her column. Not sure if she still works there. I hope the story dies soon so the \”O\” can\’t profit from it.

    Living in close-in NE and commuting to downtown everyday, I think drivers and bicyclists get along really well. There are always a few bad apples or clueless knuckleheads in both groups.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 11, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    \”It looks to me like the facts of the story are pretty much correct.\”

    I agree cotan. The facts, from what I can tell (even though the police report is no longer avail. due to restrictions by the DA\’s office), are accurate.

    the issue is how those facts are portrayed. it only takes a few key words to alter how a story comes out.

    the front page size of the story is one part of it, but i am also concerned about how information is handled by the police bureau in bike-related stories (a concern i have had in previous situations as well).

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    Carissa July 11, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    I\’d be interested to see reporting cover if the man on the bike also drives.

    They make a point of showing that the man in the car is a bike advocate (which, I think, either needs to be backed up with specific examples or shouldn\’t be restated so frequently), but not if the biker has a drivers license and a vehicle. It looks like they were trying to avoid the car vs bike formula by presenting the driver as a cyclist, but it\’s just as important to show the cyclist as a driver. To break that divide you have to show similarities both ways.

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    Darren July 11, 2008 at 1:42 pm


    In a world a trash journalism and the direction the Oregonian has set for itself, you (and similar responsible bloggers) are the reason we turn to the internet for meaningful news and opinion.

    Take to heart the Gandhi quote that goes something like \”First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.\”

    Keep it going Jonathan and we all win.

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    Cøyøte July 11, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    The Oregonian has become a rag. I am not suprized that than they hyped up a \”man bites dog\” story as lead feature.

    I guess the bloom is off the rose for the big tomato scare. Imagine a thousand people have got diarrhea since April form tainted tomatoes. Meanwhile 14,000 have died in car crashes in the US, and 300,000 world wide in the same time period.

    It boggles the mind what we consider news. I guess those road deaths are not controversial enough to be news? But two guys duking it out on the street is a real story.

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    Icarus Falling July 11, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    I agree that a big piece of the problem lies in the way the Portland Police Dept. deals with situations. And the way that the local papers follow suit with irresponsible reporting.

    Not only situations involving bikes, but in general. The police seem to neither understand the laws we pay them to uphold, nor understand the damage that incorrect or biased police reporting does to the city.

    The PPB needs to be reigned in, and start getting their facts straight. Also, reporting incidences in an unbiased manner would be most helpful to the \”whole community\” we live in.

    While the Oregonian is certainly one of the worst and most corrupt papers in the country (a belief I have held for a long time), they are in the business of selling papers, and sensationalism such as the headline regarding this incident is exactly how they do that.

    If it wasn\’t for the Ross Island killer Pamphlin, I would read the Tribune. But I feel no better about supporting that paper than I do the Oregonian.

    Good job of reporting on this Jonathan.
    Keep it up!

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    Alicia Crain July 11, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks, Jonathan, I appreciate your candor and approach to the issue.

    I volunteered this spring/summer for the BTA to present the Bike-Car Safety portion of the Share the Road Safety Class. This class is open to road users (driver, bikers, pedestrians, skate boarders, we even had a snowmobiler once) who receive certain citations in exchange for a fine reduction or elimination. One of THE MOST important points I, and I think all of the other BTA volunteers, and the other presenters (Judge Larsen from Mult. County Traffic Court, Mike Morrison of Trauma Nurses Talk Tough, Portland Police Traffic Division Officers, and the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition) is that there are not \”walkers\”, \”bicyclsts\”, \”skate boarders\”, \”drivers\”, etc., but that we are all ROAD USERS who fall into these categories at various times in our daily lives (not sure about that snowmobiler, but maybe that\’s what the ticket was for). And, part of that is that all road users must look out for the VULNERABLE road users, which, like it or not, includes people on bikes, people walking, people on skate boards, and, no matter what they\’re doing, children. Now, this does not take away responsibility from people using certain modes of transportation to follow the laws and make intelligent, common sense decisions (like wear a helmet when you ride your bike – most people on bikes who are hit by cars die of head trauma inflicted because they are not wearing a helmet, it\’s really amazing what that piece of plastic & polystyrene can do – split 4 ways and all you get is a minor concussion).

    From the comments on the evaluations, most folks in the class (drivers outnumber bicyclists 9 to 1) did not have any idea that bicyclists are allowed to be on main roads (let alone take the lane legally when it is unsafe to share the lane or when they are keeping up with traffic, like downtown) that drivers cannot drive in the bicycle lane FOR ANY REASON (outside an emergency, narrowly defined), and that \”WAIT HERE\” painted in front of the new green bike boxes means…wait for it…WAIT HERE, which in turn means, NO TURN ON RED (I know that sign that says NO TURN ON RED can be quite confusing).

    Another frequent comment is that this class should be mandatory for all new-to-Oregon/Portland and new drivers, because the DMV test & driver\’s ed classes just are not covering these important laws and topics. We should encourage the City of Portland to work with the DMV to add bicycle-car law-based safety questions to the test that is administered in the Portland area.

    I suggested this to PDOT last fall and they whined that it was putting too much of the load on drivers. Well, I looked up some statistics and while 43,000 (or a town a little smaller than Corvallis) people are killed each year in the US in car crashes, only about 750 people die in bike crashes in the US each year (~85 million cyclists) – and most are hit by cars. In fact, you are most likely to die (statistically) as a bicyclist if you are male, 16 years old, not wearing a helmet, and going through (not necessarily disobeying a traffic signal) an intersection in an urban area.

    So, what is my point? When a person is a bicyclist, wear a helmet and obey traffic signals; when a person is a driver, slow down (please! where\’s the fire? i mean really, going 40 in a 30 only gets someone hurt and doesn\’t get you where you going more than 30 seconds sooner) keep an eye out for cyclists (you cannot see what you are not looking for…google \”awareness test\”), and obey traffic signals. And stop pointing fingers, take some responsibility, and start organizing and lobbying the city and the state to do more to educate the public about laws and safety measures.

    Most bicyclists in Portland do obey the laws, it\’s just that the ones who don\’t are more visible. I don\’t drive more than once a month and I certainly don\’t ask all frequent drivers to take the heat for the bad ones who disobey traffic laws, so why should I and other law-abiding bicyclists take the heat for the shoddy ones? They shouldn\’t.

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    Forseti July 11, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Excellent work, Jonathan, as always, but particularly timely and important here.

    The Oregonian\’s shameful pandering to the troglodytes who won\’t share the road is just despicable. They are abusing their position of public trust to sell papers and making the situation worse in the process. Sadly, as you so ably point out, this is nothing new for them. This is how they make profit. I am totally disgusted by the Oregonian.

    Their journalism is so bad I never read it anyway, but now I am actively looking forward to the end of their negative presence in our fair City.

    None of them can hold a candle to your reporting on important local issues. And they all know it. Darren got it right-on at #15. The sooner the Oregon goes the way of the dodo, the better.

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    Forseti July 11, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    One more thing:

    All of you reading this who agree with Jonathan (and me and countless others) about the Oregonian and who have a subscription, CANCEL IT. Write them a note explaining why and then help put them where they deserve to be, out of business.

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    Dennis July 11, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    thank you Jonathan,

    For seeing the big picture. Journalism is in many ways the fourth branch of governance. Finding a journalist that can be trusted to keep both feet on the ground, and maintain journalistic integrity is vital, and one of the reason why I keep hitting \”refresh\” on my browser, at different times in the day.

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    tonyt July 11, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    I don\’t think I\’ve seen a headline of that size in the Oregonian since 9/11.

    Shame on them for fanning the flames on this.

    That being said, I find myself avoiding any information about this story other than the very basics. I don\’t need to get worked up.

    This just stinks all around and I find the Oregonian and their sensationalistic approach sickening.


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    Diogo July 11, 2008 at 2:05 pm


    You\’re way better journalist than those folks at the Oregonian. It\’s so obvious that this was sensationalism to backlash against bikes and an attempt to stay relevant, at the expenses of quality in the coverage.

    But I see one positive aspect on this: I think that expliciting a conflict is a major step towards overcoming it. But the conflict here is not between cars X bike. The conflict is about change and opposition to it. Its about reactionarism against progress. The Oregonian is trying to energize all the reactionaries (and guess what? they ride bikes and they drive). Those that will start harassing bikers because of this are not doing because they are drivers – they are doing because they are —holes.

    I say bring it on. Let\’s confront them. Let\’s not be timid, let\’s not bend to the peer pressure of \”you give bikes a bad name\”. The infrastructure we live in is damaging to all of us and the planet. Let\’s continue to challenge it, to disregard it, to disobey the rules that keep the unhealthy order. If they are getting defensive, it means its working.

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    Laura July 11, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    I suspect the Oregonian is going to have more articles on the topic soon. Ken Goe was out on the Hawthorne this morning, interviewing cyclists, including a friend of mine. Stay tuned…

    The PPB is vigilantly protecting us from ourselves, too, using an umarked car to sting cyclists yesterday afternoon at Ladd\’s Circle.

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    Ethan July 11, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    I\’d rather be assaulted by a drunk on a bicycle than one driving a 2,000 pound machine any day of the week . . . and how many times has that happened in the last year, where people DIED?

    And, not that it\’s related, but I had some pretty solid object hurled at me on NE Dekum last night at midnight (and yes I had lights, helmet and was NOT intoxicated).

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 11, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    I think The Oregonian is full of excellent reporters and that they play a vital role in the health of our city.

    My intention is not to call their reporting skills into question. I do not expect them to share the care and sensitivity to the bike issue that I have. I\’m simply sharing my feelings that they should consider being a bit more responsible with the information they are given… especially with issues that have a direct impact on public safety.

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    Whyat July 11, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    It blows me away that no one here seems to be mentioning:

    A. The cyclist was biking while (VERY) intoxicated.
    B. The cyclist ASSAULTED the driver with his bike

    Every week I see someone on this site saying \’I don\’t understand how someone can possibly hate a cyclist! I don\’t get it!\’.

    This is why. When a drunk cyclist assaults someone with their bike the Portland bike community points fingers at everyone else and fails to take an iota of personal responsibility.

    Maybe the Oregonian is a rag. Who cares!? They\’re allowed to report whatever they want. Steven McAtee is squarely to blame here, and that we the Portland bike community are unable to admit it is sad and pathetic.

    If we as a community can\’t condemn a drunken dangerous assailant we are clearly never going to be able to earn the respect of the rest of our community. We have an entire section on this board dedicated to close calls. We\’re allowed to point fingers at bad drivers but can\’t take it when people point fingers at bad cyclists? Are we a big bunch of babies? That\’s what it feels like to me.

    I am COMPLETELY embarrassed to be a part of the PDX bike community today.

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    hanmade July 11, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Over the years, I have watched the Oregroanian get worse and worse in their quality of reporting. There is no \”us vs them\” on the roads. The vast majority of drivers I have dealt with on my bike have been friendly. I would think the percentage of rude drivers to bicyclists be about as high (or lower) than it is between two vehicles. That rag of a newspaper should be publicly admonished by our leading officials.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 11, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    \”It blows me away that no one here seems to be mentioning:

    A. The cyclist was biking while (VERY) intoxicated.
    B. The cyclist ASSAULTED the driver with his bike\”


    I agree. These are very important issues. However, I don\’t think anyone is pointing fingers.

    The reason I am not condemning a drunken, dangerous assailant has nothing to do with not taking personal responsibility… it is simply not the chosen focus of how I\’ve reported on this story so far.

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    Alan July 11, 2008 at 2:22 pm


    Many *many* thanks for your thoughts. I\’ve been reading you for several years now (so its certainly about time for me to help fund the blog!) and I have always admired your ability to keep an open mind and not be swept away by one point of view.

    I\’m not going to trash the Oregonian on this story although their coverage of the leaves much to be desired. Everyone should know the old saw, \”dog bites man – not news, but man bites dog, that\’s news!\” Same goes here. If you\’re looking for balance, don\’t rely on a single news source.

    As for the participants in this sad story, I agree with you. There were mistakes all around.

    I am sure that every person in this city sees behavior every day that offends them. Think what you want about the behavior you see, but beware of confronting the person you find so offensive. Unless your skills as a \”public confronter\” are exceptional, things could easily go awry. A red light at an intersection is rarely a satisfactory place for telling a stranger about their shortcomings.

    And we could all spend a lot more time asking ourselves, \”how does my public behavior look to others?\” We are practically blind to the impression we make. When someone does call us to task, try to treat it as an opportunity to take off the blinders, not a challenge. I\’ve had drivers and cyclists and pedestrians yell at me many times in this town. It unnerves me every time, it usually pisses me off, but it has never been just cause for violence. There is no defense for what the cyclist did in this case.

    I think the best response to this story, like so many others, is to mend bridges. I\’ve been on my bike joking with drivers at red lights, giving thumbs up to ones who let me pull in front of them, and trying to obey more of the laws than usual. Everyone has been exceptionally friendly. This is a good city to ride in.

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    Diogo July 11, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    The other day I was doored while riding my bike by this careless lady in her car. She was quick to apologize but I just kept riding, didn\’t say a word – what\’s the point, she didn\’t mean it. Someone riding with me censured her, though – which I find unpleasant. Accidents happen, its just hipocritical to chastised others like that when its unintentional.

    People do stupid things all the time. They get drunk. They get into fights. I find awful that so many people would \”lynch\” the guys involved in this case, asking one of them to be fired from his job, and what not. You may disapprove his actions, but there\’s way more to a person than one isolated action, so its just so backwards and irrational to condemn someone like that.

    There\’s way too much hipocrisy involved here, I think.

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    erin g. July 11, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Jonathan, thank you for these excellent thoughts and reflections. The Portland community would not be what it is today – so cohesive, communicative, and so full of momentum – if it weren’t for you and Thank you for dedicating yourself to the common good in such extraordinary ways. You work your heart out to do what is right for us all. You are an inseparable part of what makes this city so special.

    Everyone – If you would like to apply your energy and ideas toward direct action in affecting change, please get involved with We are ALL Traffic. It is a great group of fun and passionate yet concerned citizens representing diverse community fronts. Please read above for information about how to get involved as we work to improve safety, equality, and respect on the streets for all.

    To the media – Thank you to the myriad reporters who have generously supported the efforts of We are ALL Traffic in the past (for the long list, including fine Oregonian writers, who went above and beyond to cover our news, see comment #12: We look forward to working with new and returning media allies in making sure that news coverage of traffic issues fosters safe behavior and respect on the road. Also, thank you to The Oregonian for playing a vital role in the success of the Towards Carfree Cities Conference and Sunday Parkways event (Dylan Rivera’s features were superb). I implore readers to refrain from translating yesterday’s sensationalism fiasco into reason to discount The Oregonian entirely. It was one bad mistake amidst a growing trend of supportive community coverage. We should call the editors and specific reporter out on that vital error without isolating the publication and its many good reporters. They deserve our appreciation and support, just as they have supported us.

    Let’s work together to segue this frustration into a sense of universal respect and solidarity. When we lead with the high road, great things follow. Like Darren’s (#15) Gandhi quotes says!

    Erin Greeson
    We are ALL Traffic

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    Moo July 11, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    #1 – Forget wasting anyones time in talking about stoking up the \”we are all traffic\” line of b.s. Until those cyclists who continue to blow by red lights, weave in and out of traffic, and basically wreak havoc over everyone else\’s commute – stop, cyclists will always have the same old rep…bullies of the roads.

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    Paul Souders July 11, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    @ Ethan:
    \”I\’d rather be assaulted by a drunk on a bicycle than one driving a 2,000 pound machine any day of the week . . . and how many times has that happened in the last year, where people DIED?\”

    Yes but every time it happened it made the front page of the O with 75% above the fold and a headline in 60 point type reading \”Driver Kills Other Person with CAR!\”

    Oh, wait, that *didn\’t* happen?

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    Grant July 11, 2008 at 2:35 pm


    It\’s not a sting.

    They aren\’t hiding the stop sign, they aren\’t enticing you to break the law.

    It\’s plain and simple enforcement.

    You choose to break the law in the presence of the police you get a ticket.

    As for the article in question it\’s unfortunate in the way it is portrayed but it has been very telling about how people are perceived, both through the portrayal in the article and in how person each was viewed at the scene.

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    Rick July 11, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    This incident, it seems, would be a great opportunity for a cycling community to make a statement about their commitment to bike responsibility, and be a part of the greater community. By at least acknowledging what allegedly happened in a thorough way, this site could help do that.

    Instead, the article above is not a report on the incident. It is a media analysis piece, commenting on the reporting of the incident. For those of you most familiar with blogs for your \”news\” information, this is an op-ed piece, not to be mistaken for a balanced news article.

    While it\’s an admirable addition to the discussion, providing some insight on the tone of the mainstream coverage, there is a glaring avoidance here of the reporting of what allegedly happened. It\’s not enough to say that that hasn\’t been your focus so far.

    If the Oregonian\’s reporting was so bad, provide a more balanced actual news article on it. Otherwise, you\’re reporting on the reporting. And, ironically, not doing a heck of alot to offset the us/them situation you accuse the Oregonian\’s coverage of fostering.

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    Jill July 11, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Whyat (#27)-
    Did you read the hundreds of posts from Jonathan\’s original article? It\’s pretty clear that the \”bike community\” vehemently condemns the actions of McAtee. He behaved as a drunk idiot.

    Jonathan- thanks for your excellent, measured reporting, as always.

    I am very concerned about harassment of bicyclists as a result of the sensational reporting by the Oregonian. Thanks WAAT, for stepping in to try to calm road users of all stripes.

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    scoot July 11, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Seriously, where\’s the outrage about those damned trees getting in the way of people\’s right to camp? If the headlines had been reversed, there\’d be chainsaws revving all over town.

    On my ride downtown late this morning, I did get a couple of stink eyes more than usual, but I think I may have been looking for them. I also had more than usual courtesy and mutual acknowledgment between me and drivers. And I never once felt any need to smash my bike into anyone.

    I appreciate this site and your commitment to it, Jonathan Maus. I may even pony up again when you get the forums back up.

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    drew July 11, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    The Oregonian is a business. Businesses sell a product or service to make a profit. I would imagine that the Oregonian is getting plenty of publicity and maybe selling several thousand addtional newspapers as a result…Good for business.

    Hey Jonathan, have you had a story with more blog responses than this one? What about news mediums asking for your opinion? Just a perverse thought, I suppose.

    As Whyat said, \”I am COMPLETELY embarrassed to be a part of the PDX bike community today.\” I took the max today instead of riding.

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    Anonymous July 11, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    I think everybody here agrees \”Steven McAtee is squarely to blame here\”. I don\’t think I\’ve heard anybody defend him.

    I just think the real story is \”… this is primarily about an assault that resulted after two people on the road had a disagreement and let their emotions escalate.\” (JM) Although \”McAtee is squarely to blame\” imo.

    I, also, don\’t appreciate that everybody walking by a newstand yesterday was struck by a headline that caused dissension and raised blood pressure whether a biker or a driver. In my case, I was just mad at the O.

    As for me, I obey traffic laws on my bike to do what I can to alleviate some of the dissent.

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    Donald July 11, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    False dichotomy. That was my main problem with the Oregonian\’s story, it\’s tone and the play it received.

    Today I\’ve had my fair share of co-workers coming over to my desk, leaning against my Raleigh and asking me vapid questions about drunken brawls…

    So be it.

    Drivers the last two days have been to me as they are most days: Courteous and careful for the most part, with a few dunderheads thrown in to spice things up.

    What I can say is I\’m deeply disappointed in the Oregonian and OLive (which really are two different animals). I know people at both. I know they know better. I know there a great many riders in their ranks. One can only shake one\’s head at some times.

    (I have to note, though, that OL did the courtesy of linking to the site today.)

    Thanks for the thoughtful input, neighbor. Seems the issue could use more of it from all sides.


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    djasonpenney July 11, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Jonathan writes,

    That being said, I feel this is primarily about an assault that resulted after two people on the road had a disagreement and let their emotions escalate.

    With 20/20 hindsight, I agree that Colin probably shouldn\’t have exited his vehicle, but–frankly–I\’m not sure I would have just sat by while somebody was pounding my car with his bicycle.

    I\’m not sure I would say that Colin\’s emotions \”escalated.\” He\’s a very nice and gentle man, and I\’m sure he was just totally taken by surprised.

    Moving beyond that, I am appalled that this would be a front page story when the McDaniel story (a married couple murdered by a distracted motorist when she completely left the roadway) doesn\’t even get a mention outside of the Hillsboro Argus:

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 11, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    \”there is a glaring avoidance here of the reporting of what allegedly happened. It’s not enough to say that that hasn’t been your focus so far… If the Oregonian’s reporting was so bad, provide a more balanced actual news article on it. \”

    I hear you Rick. here are my thoughts.

    I do not think the facts were reported incorrectly by the Oregonian. This is more a matter of style, tone, and the issue of where the source of the information is coming from.

    That being said, I agree that I should do more reporting on this. In the article above, I do touch on how I see the \”mob\” aspect of the story.

    In addition, I am lucky in that much of what makes this site tick has nothing to do with my initial story — it comes in the form of all the comments from people who know those involved, who saw what happened, etc…

    One of the difficult issues here is that i can no longer receive a copy of the police report and PDOT has clammed up completely about Steven McAtee .. sending out an all-employee email that no one is allowed to talk about his involvement with the case.

    I\’m actually surprised no one has contacted me to offer their account of what happened. Typically I receive numerous emails from witnesses wanting to share their version of the story.. that hasn\’t happened in this case.

    Also, to be frank, I simply am not motivated to delve into stories like this for some of the reasons I\’ve already shared. These are simply not the kind of stories I am personally excited about. It\’s the same reason I don\’t delve into every report of road rage, near miss, or crash I get tipped off about several times each week.

    Also, unlike reporters at other outlets, I cannot focus solely on one story. It takes what I deem to be a very, very important story for me to drop everything and focus all my energy and time on it. Honestly, I am totally backed up with other stories I\’m trying to write, an inbox with 400+ messages, and lots of other business-related details.

    i\’m not saying this isn\’t an important story…. I\’m simply trying to be candid on why I haven\’t been pounding the pavement and uncovering every little detail of what happened (like I\’ve done with other stories in the past).

    I will have more to report on this story in the days and weeks to come for sure. Thanks for your feedback.

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    Forseti July 11, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    I hate to tell you this Whyat and drew, but you aren\’t \”part of the PDX bike community.\” There\’s no such thing. It\’s a figment of your imagination.

    You\’re human beings who live in Portland and who happen to ride a bike sometimes.

    You don\’t speak for me, and I don\’t speak for you, got it?

    Men don\’t speak for all other men. Latinas don\’t speak for all other latinas. People who take the bus don\’t speak for other people who take the bus. People who live in Portland don\’t speak for all other people who live in Portland.

    Just think about the term \”bus community\” and think about how stupid it sounds to use a term like \”PDX bike community.\”

    McAtee got charged with multiple crimes. His actions are *HIS FAULT* and no one else\’s. I am not responsible for his actions because I ride a bike. Neither are you. Got it?

    Just like I drive a car and I am not responsible for the behavior of the guy who killed Tracey Sparling.

    And you actually have the gall to talk about personal responsibility. Worry about your own.

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    Icarus Falling July 11, 2008 at 2:56 pm


    It is illegal to run a stop sign. Though most of us do it, if not only sometimes, it is still illegal.

    It is very counterproductive to bitch about getting a ticket for a law you broke, or seeing an effective sting against people who are BREAKING THE LAW!

    Even though you may not like it, the Police were in Ladd\’s doing their job.

    It may be misguided, and the least of the things the PPB should be worrying about, but it is a legitimate sting.

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    Graham July 11, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Hey Whyat,

    If it were just a matter of some drunk guy assaulting a driver, that would be one thing. However, it seems that it\’s being presented by the Oregonian as emblematic of a larger bike vs. car conflict.

    Also, as was pointed out in Jonathan\’s post: the Oregonian decided to make a story about a cyclist going batsh** on a driver front-page headline news, but chose to give a very comparable story about a driver going batsh** on a cyclist, \”a few lines of coverage in a roundup of other \’Public Safety\’ stories that ran on page D2.\” Actually the stories are comparable except for one major point: in the case of the driver attacking the cyclist, the driver NEARLY KILLED THE CYCLIST.

    The placement of those stories is a clear choice on the part of the Oregonian: they play up the story that makes the cyclist look bad, and bury the story in which the cyclist nearly dies.

    This fuels hostilities in what is already seems the most hostile part of otherwise super-nice Portland: its streets.

    Of course, the Oregonian can report whatever they want. Thing is, if they\’re guilty of bad reporting, or editorial bias, particularly editorial bias that can incite hostilities that can get us killed, we can and should call them on it.

    Finally, I\’m pretty sure that people on this site are not overlooking – much less condoning – the drunken assault aspect of the story here, but I haven\’t combed through the 300+ comments on the initial BikePortland story to be sure 🙂

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    Opus the Poet July 11, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    I was assaulted by a driver using his vehicle as a deadly weapon, and there wasn\’t a story about it until 3 years later when one of my custom bikes won its class in a local car show. It wasn\’t news until I did something else, before that I was just another grease stain in the road. That\’s why drivers think they can get away with it, because they do and have for years if not decades, not even a disapproving story in the local paper.

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    Icarus Falling July 11, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    \”That being said, I feel this is primarily about an assault that resulted after two people on the road had a disagreement and let their emotions escalate.\”

    I would venture to say that this is in regards to the fact that nothing would have happened had Colin not yelled, then honked, then followed McAtee to do the same some more. Correct me if I am wrong.

    The getting out of the car part of this scenario happened after the situation was already escalated. Blocks later…

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    Matthew Denton July 11, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Okay, in addition to a few bad bicyclists on the road, it looks like we\’ve got a few bad reporters in the Oregonian.

    But I\’m not about to say that all Oregonian reporters are sensationalists anymore than I\’d say that we all run stop lights. Of course, the Oregonian is a group that should be able to control their more extremists members, (unlike the bicycling community, who, as we saw, tried to control our more extremist members only to get attacked for is,) but still, the Oregonian need to be gently reminded that they aren\’t doing balanced coverage, not attacked here.

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    Maculsay July 11, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    While taking bike counts for PDOT at NE 122nd and Halsey on Thursday, I was AMAZED at how many people rolled down their windows to chat, along with some pedestrians. When they found out what I was up to, there was a common theme from most folks – bikes don\’t belong out here on the street, they don\’t pay for the roads, they don\’t have respect for the law, and how \”fed up\” they are with \”bikers\”. A couple of times I had to make sure we were talking about bicycles, not motorcycles :).

    I counted these events – eleven in two hours.

    One gal seemed embarrassed that she wasn\’t on her bike, and could not be counted. She was the only positive encounter I had.

    One guy, who was actually older than myself by a number of years, became immediately agitated and almost confrontative when I said I was counting bikes. He rambled for awhile, eventually walking away. He told me to get a real life after I mentioned I\’d been car-free most of this decade.

    As for the actual bikes passing through, there were more violating the law than otherwise – crossing on the wrong side of the street. One younger man actually was hit by a right-turning vehicle as he attempted to ride with his green, although he was on the wrong side of the street. No injury, fortunately.

    Just a few anecdotes… I\’ll continue to ride, and I\’ve almost completely stopped cruising through some of the sedate stop signs on NE Tillamook, and NEVER running red\’s. I\’ll continue to always take the high road with incidents, even apologizing first for any issue, and usually I\’ll receive an apology back, and then a friendly wave.

    Imagine the rage as fuel becomes more expensive…

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    Adam July 11, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    The O is definately stoking the flames on this issue. They took something that they knew would piss people off, justified or not, and gave it prime placement.
    That said, the damage is done. So the question is, why do people get so angry about a alcohol induced road rage incident?
    Anyone who would deny that tension exists between those who spend much of their time on bikes and those who get around the traditional, motored way is flat out wrong. A natural division exists between the two forms of transportation, and therefore a natural community forms around each, but primarily biking since, despite our best efforts, is still a niche form of transit. Activists and necessarily strong opinions to promote biking in this city, along with a prolonged effort to make Portland less accomodating to cars and moreso to transit and pedals (see I-5 bridge), have added tension to the situation which reinforced the community feel.
    In the O\’s article, Sam Adams mentioned that bikers are scared of being hit and cars are scared to hit them. I think that\’s true.
    I both bike and drive. When I drive around bikers, I\’m amazed at just how often stopsigns and redlights get run. Since I\’m also a biker, when I get cut off by someone on two wheels, I think to myself, \’I really wish this guy realized that he\’s making all of us look bad.\’
    But if I drove exclusively, like many of my friends, I would be thinking \’I really don\’t want to hit this guy – if I do, bike activists are going to be all over my case even though he just rode right in front of my car when I had the right of way. Plus I\’m annoyed that he just ignored the rules of the road when I have to obey them.\’ So now I\’m pissed off. And, since it happens all the time, I think \’the bikers in this town are out of control and ignore the rules of the road.\’ So, just that easily, it\’s a \’community\’ thing.
    It\’s unlikely that drivers will attend bike safety seminars, or ultimately accept the ideas of the groups around town who promote road-sharing oneness. I think that the answer lies in remarketing the biking community itself.
    I was heartened when I heard about the upcoming ride that would issue faux \”tickets\” to riders who broke laws of the road. I think the key to resolving this situation lies in two actions that the bike community could take. Openly encourage riders to obey the rules of the road (if we do, the motorists have no one to direct frustration to except individual riders – this is what we want), and educate both parties – again through marketing. Promoting safe driving habits around bikes will be much easier if we can instill the idea that most bikers are law abiding citizens who are just trying to get around.

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    btodd July 11, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Mt. Biking. Let us look into this pure form of bicycle recreation.

    Don\’t worry about The Oregonian, the newspapers are dying.

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    bahueh July 11, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    I have to disagree that the PPB could be using their time in a better way..

    if riders continue to run red lights and stop signs at incident rates, these types of conflicts will continue, along with additional collisions, damaged public perception, etc.. don\’t like it, Laura?…well, stop. is it that hard?

    I mean…in reality, is the Oregonian really _that_ far off…from what I can tell in talking to people in cars during commutes, drivers are getting pretty pissed off around town at the site of riders just blatantly making illegal moves on the road.

    think about it…and what goals you\’d like to see accomplished in this town when it comes to encouraging bike usage..

    people see riders running stops and think of ALL OF US. don\’t like being generalized or stereotyped, then do something about it…grow up and use the streets as they were designed.

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  • […] Colin Yates, turns out to be a long time cycling advocate. Jonathan writes more about it here and here.Olympics: Final 3 members of the US Cycling team are named. Road cyclists Amber Neben and Christine […]

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    throwtheslinky July 11, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Jonathan, thank you as always for your solid, thoughtful, and consistent reporting on issues that matter to people in Portland and across the country. In the immediate wake of yet another cyclist killed by yet another dump truck (this week in Wash, DC) it is more important than ever to eradicate the us vs. them mentality and focus on the big Us (that would be everyone trying to move around), from a community and a policy perspective.

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    leftcoaster July 11, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    \”Terrorist-like head scarf\”? WTF? If you are referring to the keffiyeh, it is worn by all kinds of people all over the world and is called a \”terrorist head scarf\” by the likes of conservative madwoman Michelle Malkin. C\’mon Jonathan, you know better!

    It\’s bad enough the government keeps expanding its definition of \”terrorist\”. Don\’t fall into the trap of helping them. I have one of those scarves that I bought when living in France, where it is popular among all types of people. Am I like a terrorist?

    Check out

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    Deborah July 11, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    The afternoon drive, delightful, courteous motorists. Fellow bicyclists, not so impressed by you.
    You, male messenger, riding a blue bike, wearing a pink jersey directly in front of me south bound on Front & Clay. You paused at the red light, then blew through the red light on the cross walk. Doesn’t work that way buddy, get off your bike and walk it. Those motorists waiting for the light didn’t just see you; I was vilified in their eyes by your actions.
    Hawthorne Bridge, I passed three different males on the bridge, one of you realized a GRANDMA was behind you and gave it a half hearted push to stay in front, not allowing me to pass until the sidewalk ended. The other two, I’m first @ Grand & Hawthorne at the light, you both cut in front at while we waited for the light, next time line up behind the first bike, just like if you were in a car. Don’t make me cut into the traffic to pass you AGAIN.
    To paraphrase # 11,
    Yes, we are all ambassadors for the bike community and yes, we are all judged by the negative actions of a few. What makes me angry is when my safety and the kindness from drivers is impacted by those who refuse to follow simple rules

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    anonymous July 11, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    I want to echo #56! Obviously you\’ve done a good job of succumbing to some us vs them mentalities! What the crap?!

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    drew July 11, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Forseti (#44),

    You are correct and I agree with what you have said. My post was not speaking for anyone, got it? Please read what I wrote and separate it from the the \”quote.\”

    Have a good weekend.

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    Paul Souders July 11, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    @Deborah (#57) —

    I admit my hackles usually rise at comments like \”What makes me angry is when my safety and the kindness from drivers is impacted by those who refuse to follow simple rules\” and \”I was vilified in their eyes by your actions\”

    … but your method of delivery is impeccable.

    My usual attitude is, I don\’t give a crap what other cyclists do … eight or ten years ago I used to blow red lights, ride the wrong way down one-way streets, hop sidewalks to avoid intersections, and other bad bad behavior. I\’ve since found religion (so to speak) and now I dab at every stop sign and signal every turn and wave \”thank you\” to drivers who let me change lanes and this winter I even bought a bright yellow jacket and a rechargeable headlight. But with my checkered bike past I figure, I just won\’t judge what the other guys are doing. Matthew 7:1, and whatnot. That\’s their problem, not mine.

    But you know, you have a point.

    I\’m still not gonna judge and, until they deputize me, I\’m not gonna be one of those \”hey you blew a stop sign\” safety-for-all cyclists, but with discourse on the Internet being the puked-filled watergun battle royale it usually is, I think you deserve to hear at least this much:

    You made me smile and you made me think.

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    Ron July 11, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Just saw this quote, and couldn\’t help but be struck by how apropos it is for this discussion:

    The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.
    – Ralph W. Sockman

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    2GOAT July 11, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    I reiterate in this blog line.
    There are irresponsible careless dangerous drivers and riders.
    Everyone needs to realize that when irresponsible careless dangerous drivers finally lose there license to drive, they either continue to drive illegal without a license or surprise surprise they start riding a bike. These same dnagerous drivers now are riding bikes. If they were drunk drivers they are drunk riders. If they speed and ran lights in their cars, they\’ll do the same on their bikes. Thus front loading the average number of idiot riders that would naturally be found in the cycling population.

    Kudos to Judge Larsen,et al and the Share the Road Safety Class. It\’s too bad you have to get a citation to attend the class.

    The good thing about all of the Bike vs Car conversations that are generated by this story are now you have a platform to respond to the complaining motorists that insist cyclists should be licensed. Just start quoting out of Bob Mionske\’s, \”Bicycling & The Law\”. \”A state may revoke driving privileges because driving is an activity that is licensed by the state and therefore subject to the state\’s permission.\” \”Preserving the right to other forms of transportation, such as cycling, is a necessary adjunct of the state\’s right to restrict driving priveleges, because you have a constitutional right to travel.\”

    Then when they bring up the same old dry complaint that cyclist\’s don\’t pay there way…The majority of cyclists have cars.
    They buy less gas, so they don\’t contribute to the gas tax. They still pay their vehicle registration, their property taxes, local city/county taxes, their state and federal income taxes and other taxes I am forgetting. The roads,bridges and highways are not built and maintained by the gas taxes alone. And if there were even more cylists, there would be less wear and tear to the roads and less need for maintenance.

    As Jonathan as written, this is an unfortunate journalistic sensationalism of road rage and drunkeness that just happened to involve a cyclist and motorist.
    Pathetic old news reported with an irresponsible \”new spin\” that may just spark more conflict.

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    dennis July 11, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    While the Oregonian\’s coverage may not be perfect, its description of an \”undercurrent of tension\” perfectly describes what\’s going on in this city.

    It doesn\’t matter that such statements hurt Portland\’s reputation when those statements are accurate. Everytime there\’s a big story like this, my workplace divides up into drivers and cyclists. The discussion is heated, but polite.

    I say the Oregonian deserves a pat on the back for pointing out the \”pink elephant\” that our city leaders are too gutless to talk about.

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    Laura July 11, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    For the record, I didn\’t get the ticket. I was parked at the cafe\’ having a coffee.

    I was simply reminding folks that the police are still out there on major bike routes, at peak and off peak times.

    When I see the number of motor vehicle violations on Division St (run red lights, illegal passing, not stopping for peds in a crossing, etc), or the number of cars who still Right on Red the Clinton St. BikeBox with or without bikes present, yes, I think PPB enforcing bike stops on Ladd\’s Circle is misguided.

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    2GOAT July 11, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    I admantly concur!!!!

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    SyntaxPolice July 11, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Excellent article!

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    kasandra July 11, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Sorry if this has been said before… I\’ve read a lot of the comments but not all of them. What strikes me as the core irony of this story… is that the person who happened to be driving at the moment asked the person who happened to be cycling at the moment to please *not make us look bad*…. \”us\” being \”people on bikes at any given moment.\” That was his motivation — he was concerned about public perception of people on bikes. And then it escalated, and now we look REALLY bad.

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    girl on a bike July 11, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    The O\’s coverage of this event has been atrociously inappropriate. I think their coverage of the Clinton St. attack from last year (the intentional hitting of the guy on a bike by a guy in a car) is the best and most sensible gauge of that.

    I don\’t have any idea what to do about the fact that almost any conversation about bikes with non-bikey people usually ends up with \”those damned bikers and their law-breaking ways.\” Last week I was doored pretty badly riding my bike home from work through Sellwood. I crashed horribly, but I was really fortunate that I was going pretty slow, as well as being pretty far from the car. The sharp outer corner of the door tagged my foot and the force of the woman pushing on it just whacked me like I\’d been hit by someone swinging a baseball bat. I won\’t go into how dumb the woman\’s behavior was after the incident. What really got to me was the conversation that followed the next day when I was in line at the pharmacy getting some pain medication after going to the doctor for my injuries. I had a big bandage covering the road rash on my left arm, and a woman in line behind me asked how I got hurt. When I told her, she and the two women behind her sort of clucked their tongues sympathetically, but within 10 seconds their conversation turned to how dangerous cycling is and how rude and terrible cyclists are. Which is a really wonderful thing to say in front of a law-abiding cyclist who was just hurt really badly by a car driver breaking the law. I was honestly in too much pain to get into it with them, so I basically just turned away coldly and let them continue. I wish now that I would have at least told them how sh**ty and thoughtless that was. I\’m normally much more outspoken.

    A few of my coworkers have tried to get me into a talk about the \”Bike vs. Car\” event of this week, and I\’m just sort of refusing to comment beyond \”that\’s not cyclist versus driver … that\’s a-hole vs. a-hole, and a case where both people behaved pretty poorly.\” I just think we\’re all going to have a really hard time shaking off the image of someone using their bike as a weapon against someone else. I swear, it\’ll come up years from now … probably the next time I\’m in line at the pharmacy after being whacked by a car.

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    Diogo July 11, 2008 at 5:09 pm


    This is the best perspective on this issue. Good point!

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    Graham July 11, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    I\’m pretty sure this OregonLive article:

    \”Cops: Angry bicyclists gang up on wrong guy,\”

    used to read:

    \”Angry bicyclists gang up on wrong guy.\”

    Sans the \”Cops:\” part. Am I imagining things here? If not, maybe it\’s meant to shield the paper from the appearance of bias, after the fact. \”We didn\’t say it, it was the cops!\”

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 11, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    \”Am I imagining things here?\”

    you\’re right graham. i noticed that too.

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    SkidMark July 11, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Hey btodd, can you direct me to some LEGAL singletrack that I do not have to \”cartop\” it to?

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    Andy July 11, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Laura –

    For what it\’s worth, PBB was also at the bottom of N. Mississippi this afternoon (under the Fremont) presumably to radar folks driving down the hill towards Widmer.

    Just sayin\’, they still sting the drivers, too.

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    Icarus Falling July 11, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    What you are saying Kasandra is that had he not said anything to the cyclist, and driven away, we as cyclists would not look so bad?

    Sounds like what I have been saying….

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    Icarus Falling July 11, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    This is very off topic, but:

    Today is my 42nd birthday.

    Has been a great night, sushi dinner with my whole family, ice cream birthday cake coming in a few minutes. Couldn\’t be better.

    Yet on the way home from dinner my sister had to tell me that another of my oldest friends had committed suicide today.

    I tell you all this for one reason. Not really for a reason, but to ask a simple favor of you.

    Be happy you are here today to ride a bike, drive a car, make choices.

    Put all this animosity crap behind you for the weekend, or for the rest of your lives, and enjoy yourselves.

    If not for yourself, then do it for me, for your friends, and for your family.

    Thank you, and have a good day.

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    BURR July 11, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    the Oregonian is a pandering rag that pimps these stories for all they are worth. As a result, I personally will never speak voluntarily to the Oregonian again.

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    finamin July 11, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    good follow-up,
    we are all traffic
    and need to take care
    of each other
    and ourselves

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    Mike July 11, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Forseti (#19, #20 and #44)-Let me see if I get this right. In #19 & #20, you slurp on the editor, bash the Oregonian and then tell people what to do. In #44 you get even more righteous on a another blog entry (Whyat-sp?) about speaking for others and you end with a elementary commentary about personal responsibility. You have completely lost the plot. Give it a rest, please.

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    Graham July 11, 2008 at 9:47 pm


    Whyat is the (somewhat typo-like) name of a poster.


    Good suggestion re: animosity. I got a head start on your advice while posting on the OregonLive blog today, trying to keep a lid on my snark. It\’s hard work. But I figure the message goes further that way. Happy birthday!

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    Me 2 July 11, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    My experience reacting to the O has been different from others. I was in Denver for work all day Wednesday and Thursday and the first I heard of this incident was when I walked by the Oregonian newsbox at PDX.

    I agree with Jonathan\’s points about the O\’s coverage and the us vs them angle is frustrating. I cycle. I drive. I\’ve chided cyclists for disobeying the law. I\’ve done the same to motorists and pedestrians, which also one of. I\’m completely confused on which side I\’m supposed to be on.

    However, what doesn\’t surprise about how the O has covered it is the shock value factor. The media will always blow those rare events out of proportion. For example, and I\’m not sure of the exact numbers but for illustrative purposes:

    – There are 100000x more fatal car crashes then airline crashes, but it\’s always front page news. The only fatal car crash I can recall get a lot of press attention was when Princess Diana died almost 11 years ago.

    The sad part of it is, that the media will take less notice of \”bike rage\” stories once they become more common.

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    jeremy July 11, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Up until about 20 minutes ago I was the guy that was saying it is not us v. them…. that was until a car ran a stop sign and almost hit my wife and I on a bike path. If that were not enough this happened 4 times today!!!

    Perhaps it is not just the cyclist who have issues. I have enough room in my panniers for a few bricks.

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    JH July 11, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    I come from a town (Las Vegas) where you really take your life into your hands when commuting by bike. There is virtually no bike scene there, and motorists usually drunk think it is amusing to throw things at cyclists. I have been here since February commuting by bike most of the time and have had a relatively good experience doing so. There will always be assholes out there, so get over it. You people have something very unique and special here in Portland.
    But, people here seem to take it for granted. I am starting to think portland is filled with whiney, emotional, stoner, hippies.
    Don\’t forget bikes are fun.

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    Grizzer July 11, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    The 2nd day follow up story makes me wonder if The Oregonian was waiting for the right moment to release this pre-packaged pit fight. How strategic.

    At least this front page doesn\’t also suggest that trees are dangerous (to humans).

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    Eileen July 11, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    My first reaction was \”what the Hell?\” and I personally think all drivers (myself included) should hang our heads in shame about our fossil fuel consumption. This morning I had this conversation with my mom who was reading a book about a family in pre-ww2 hitler germany and how strange it was, how they sort of knew bad stuff was happening, didn\’t like it but didn\’t really know what to do. You just go on living your daily lives. I compared it to us and landfills or fossil-fuel consumption or the war in Iraq. We know it\’s not right, but we kind of let it happen. Someday our great, great grandkids will look back on our lifestyle in the same way we look back on the germans who lived under hitler and say \”how could they let that happen?\”

    Okay, but now I need to point out the elephant in the room that I saw after I thought about this a moment. I have been reading this blog for over a year now. First a friend pointed me to it, and then I was hooked because of the great up-to-the-minute reporting and the fact that it seems like the situation with Portland cycling is at the heart of Portland politics. It seems to me that nearly every day on this blog there are comments and articles about the rift between motorized vehicles and bicycles. It\’s real. It\’s there. It\’s being talked about. It\’s huge at the forefront of many of your psyches. Why are you offended to have it reported? If you are having a problem with someone, is it going to go away by ignoring it? Depends on the size of the problem, but not usually. There are some tough conversations that need to be had before you can move on to the better place.

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    Dr. Benjamin July 12, 2008 at 12:18 am

    Alternate headlines for the Oregonian:

    Drunks vs. Cars: We\’ve got issues

    Drunks: Portland\’s got issues

    Cars got issues: We\’ve got bikes!

    Hype vs. Newsworthiness: We\’ve got issues

    Integrity vs. Sensationalism: The Oregonian\’s last issue

    Bikes and Cars: Walking sucks

    Issues we\’ve got? Bikes on Cars

    Bikes vs. Cars: It\’s all in your head

    Road User vs. Road User: We\’re all jerks sometimes

    Spy vs. Spy: Was the black spy wearing a helmet?

    Bikes vs. Unicycles: 0MPG either way

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    noname July 12, 2008 at 1:11 am

    Working past 11:00pm the things you see that people do with their cars.
    A car pulled over and putting a kid in the trunk (911 was called)
    A car driving by me with out lights on, and then I was HIT with a FROZEN EGG!!!
    (thank goodness that it only hit my leg and I was not put out.
    A car driving by and opening the door while driving 35 MPH.
    Car driving by to let me known I have to many blinking lights on the back.
    Car crashed in to a tree, guy walking around like he need a DUI (911 was called)
    Under age kids out past 12:00am (flaged down the Cop car)
    Kids doing drungs on the trail.

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    kg July 12, 2008 at 6:51 am

    If there is an \”us vs them\” it should be law abiding courteous people vs self centered law breakers. Just because you see every other driver/rider breaking the law does not in any way make it ok. What kind of society do you want to live in, which side will you choose? If more cyclists were obeying the rules of the road then the police would have more resources to focus on automobiles.

    Remember it\’s not all about you.

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    Klixi July 12, 2008 at 7:16 am

    Life is too short.

    Some of these comments are far more sensational than the Oregonians article.

    when it comes to mannerisms and being courteous on the road, drivers > cyclists. Just because you, like I do, ride a bicycle doesn\’t mean we get to pretend all cyclists are saints and all drivers are demons. The rage most people are expressing is pointless. A cyclist beats up a driver, and the cycling community gathers to vent against drivers, all the while proclaiming that everyone is generating an \”us vs them\” mentality, everyone except cyclists. What a load of poppycock. I think some of you truly refuse to enjoy your lives in Portland and on the saddle of a bicycle. The real \”bike culture\” here is the one that cool tempered people with rational viewpoints experience. The girl on her cruiser who puts her foot down at each stop sign, even when there is no car to be found. It\’s the dickhead folks always in a race to get where they\’re going who strike me buffoons, the same way I view the dickhead kids in the souped up Honda\’s always trying to race through downtown. Slow down and enjoy your life on your bicycle. Stop trying to act so persecuted.

    The only people generating an \”us vs them\” mentality are Portland cyclists. If there is a \”bicycle community\” in Portland, I\’m ashamed of them, their actions and their failure to take responsibility rather than play the blame game.

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    Patti July 12, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Yesterday as I went up Burnside (in my car) and no less than five bikes were riding up too. Three of them were not wearing helmets. One of them was on a cell phone. It looked a little like a scene out of \”Mad Max\”. (\”Mad Max\” is a film about the future and how innovative rabble-rousers survive and take over, especially in the area of transportation) I did have to give way several times to these young \”indie\” types and yeah, I found it pretty annoying. I am a cyclist myself but I felt a twinge of what the angry motorists feel. The big O is writing about something that is really happening. Even without the recent altercation..we can not pretend that the gas prices won\’t be increasing the amount of cyclists on Burnside and everywhere. I want to share the road…but I want everyone to obey all the rules.

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    Justin July 12, 2008 at 7:58 am

    This cyclist was totally in the wrong. Accept that put your efforts towards separating yourselves from this outcast in your community, and lead by example of following the law on your bicycles.
    I will on mine.

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    Jen July 12, 2008 at 8:44 am

    I recently started bike commuting. I have been thankful and amazed by all the people who are helpful and courteous. But, there is definately a segment of people here who are \”us vs. them\”. I wish we had more cops at every intersection writing tickets for all the stupid and illegal moves that people make every day.
    I ride only 10 miles a day and have yet to have a ride where I don\’t have other bicyclist blow by me as I stop at a stop sign or red light. And every time it happens, I feel a small surge of anger because I know that I am being lumped into that group of people. While it might be a small percentage of riders not obeying traffic laws, from what I have seen there are more who flaunt the laws then obey them. I hate stopping at every stop sign (particularly the one on samlom heading west almost at the bottom of the long coastin hill. I HATE that one), but know that the one time I don\’t will be the time there is a car, a pedestrian, a cop….
    I stopped for a pedestrian who was crossing the street in front of me and she was so shocked she said that she had *never* seen a bike stop for a pedestrian.I watched two bicyclist at a four way stop almost hit each other beacause neither of them stopped.
    Although the article was sensational, I think they acurately depicted the level of anger animosity here, going both ways.

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    Klixi July 12, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Insinuating someone on a bicycle who isn\’t wearing a helmet is a \”bad represenation\” of portland bicyclists is ridiculous.

    Since when did we decide to lump non-helmet wearers in with people who club people with their bikes and run red lights?

    Running a red light = breaking the law
    Not wearing a helmet = NOT breaking the law

    Just a bit too much self righteousness going on here.

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    Paul Tay July 12, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Jonathan, THIS is the REASON why I encourage BikePortland to expand its readership, using Street Roots or a similar news print business model.

    If MSM outlets like the Oregonian is doing a disservice to the debate, we need to deliver the OTHER side of the story, from our POV, to the SAME readership.

    I\’d be willing to help you, by simply digesting B-Portland for Street Roots.

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    Paul Tay July 12, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Patty, #89, I would feel very ANGRY at just about ANYTHING, if I was stuck in a cage of metal and glass too.

    Part of the deal with biking is I am too busy CONNECTING with my environment and people to get much of anything under my skin, except the occasional BUG.

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    Andy July 12, 2008 at 9:20 am


    Thank you. Exactly how I felt. Share the road means exactly that. I\’m not saying we have to be perfect and stop at every stop sign all the time. Many cars don\’t do it either. Yet nobody is surprised when they get into an accident or get a ticket for it. Why shouldn\’t hold ourselves to the same standard?

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    Marc B July 12, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Lets please try to remember not to judge other people. Period. It doesn\’t matter how someone else commutes. The question that each of us should be asking ourselves is \”am I doing the best I can for myself?\” If we all act in accordance with what our SOUL feels, there should be no judgement. We see then that each person is just trying to work out whats going on inside. The minute you try and make people do things your way, that is the first seeding of violence.
    Stephen McAtee did a very dumb thing and I am sure he regrets it. I am now asking EVERYONE to think for yourself. How does this event affect your life? How will you change? DO NOT believe what you have read in the Oregonian because they have sensationalized the story. They are in the BUSINESS of selling news. It is not facts and their stories are designed to play with your emotions.
    It is very interesting to be on a bicycle in the days following this event because I have felt that ALL of the drivers are watching me. Maybe my brain made that up, maybe not. I\’m sure part of it is true. In this strange way now, I would like to thank Stephen for his blunder because it has made me realize that I too fell into the mindset of \”cars are better than bikes.\” While this may be true from an ecological standpoint, IT DOES NOT SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO OPERATE THESE MODES OF TRANSPORTATION! We have all had to drive at some point or another. If not, good for you. But we are all brothers and sisters. Forgive. Be gentle. Slow down. Love.
    Where are you going so fast?

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    Roma July 12, 2008 at 9:50 am

    @Patti #89:


    There is no helmet law in Portland. Why would you get angry because a cyclist wasn\’t wearing a helmet?


    It is not illegal to ride a bike and talk on a phone.

    So nothing you mentioned about the cyclists behavior was illegal in any way shape or form.

    Which just goes to support my opinion that drivers get irritated with cyclists even if we\’re obeying the law.

    Just because they weren\’t acting in a way you felt was appropriate doesn\’t mean they were doing anything wrong. This is the problem a lot of drivers have with cyclists – they just don\’t feel we should be on the road. Thank you for providing an example of how the average motorists gets angry at cyclists for no good reason.

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    Tankagnolo Bob July 12, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Two weeks ago I was stunned by the huge wizzing contest and disguest regarding one speed fixies. If we as cyclists have wizzing contests over how many gears a bike has, or if it has a freewheel, what do we expect tween us and cars ????

    Hell, we can\’t even come together as cyclists. Folks bitch about montain bikers, or fixies, or anything that is not EXACTLY what the critic does.

    Unless we can get together as cyclists, including motos and mopeds, how can we expect to see ourselves as apart of this big picture that includes cars.

    How many cyclists NEVER get in cars. Those are the only purists that even have a right to bitch about cars.

    Cars are here to stay, they may become electric, or get 200 miles to the gallon, but they will always be, as will bicycles. Lets attempt a plan that works for the all of transportation.

    Tankagnolo Bob

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    Kt July 12, 2008 at 10:13 am

    One quick comment, Jonathan, before I go back and read all the other comments:

    The dawn editions as delivered to my doorstep did not have the same pictures or headlines as the later editions.

    The first story in this news cycle was headlined: \”Bike-car clash morphs into melee; Police say a drunken cyclist used his ride to club a motorist as a mob formed\” picture: McAtee\’s mug shot.

    The second story in this news cycle was headlined: \”Worlds collide on Portland\’s streets; a cyclist\’s alleged attack on a motorist reignites debate over how best to share the road\”. Picture: same as the one you show at the top of a bike in Portland traffic.

    So you see, some of us did not get the ultra-sensationalistic and controversial headlines that later editions threw up.

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    Steve Durrant July 12, 2008 at 10:50 am

    All well put. thanks for your thoughtful observations. I\’d be interested in knowing what other papers around the country did with the story. Did it get picked and reported elsewhere? Are our peer cities gloating or sympathetic or simply puzzled? Are there any other journalism professionals like yourself questioning the tone of the coverage?

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    Robert Dobbs July 12, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Tankagnolo Bob @99

    \”Hell, we can\’t even come together as cyclists. Folks bitch about montain bikers, or fixies, or anything that is not EXACTLY what the critic does.\”

    Like ride a bike that can safely and easily follow the law and stop at marked intersections?

    I see fixie riders more than anyone blow stop signs, and it is with out question due to the design of their particular ride and the ability of the rider.

    Saying otherwise is just an exercise in denial and/or ridiculous fanboy boosting of track bikes on the open road.

    Also for those telling cyclists to \”slow down\” please line up next to the motorists telling cyclists to \”stop impeding traffic\”. Discuss.

    Riding as close to possible with the speed of motor traffic is the safest way to go. The speed differential between multiple modes of traffic causes more accidents than anything else.

    And finally, the real divide is the perception of safety and potential for harm while using either mode (car vs. bike) of transportation.

    All things being equal, I\’d still rather have an —hole on a bike than in a car.

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    MIke July 12, 2008 at 11:41 am

    I read your web site every day and admire it. But for the last two days you seem excessively focused on critiquing The Oregonian\’s coverage rather than giving your readers your own reporting and analysis of what happened.

    The truth is that there is animosity out there on the road. People on bikes, myself included, complain daily about how inattentive motorists are. No doubt motorists complain about people on bikes who disobey traffic rules.

    You\’d be better served, as would your readers, if you spent more time exploring the issues and pinpointing solutions

    What you\’ve accomplished, inadvertently, is to shift the attention to the messenger, away from the problem.

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    007 July 12, 2008 at 11:46 am

    I think we need a \”drive to work\” day. If only we all could drive to work if we have a car, or borrow one, for just one day and make it very public, maybe SOV commuters in Portland would appreciate us more.

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    Roma July 12, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    @Mike #103:

    Part of the problem IS the messenger.

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    Ethan July 12, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Bikes vs. Cars

    \”An Oregonian Special Report\”

    Cars kill thousands of people every year and are the chief reason for our dependance on foreign oil. Increased auto use worldwide is arguably a chief reason for higher energy prices. Locally, cars require millions in parking infrastructure, and (supposedly) billion dollar bridges. The taxes that motorists pay when buying fuel are a small portion of what it costs to support them. Cars are one of the main reasons we have an overweight and unhealthy population.

    Bicycles do not pollute, make noise, and rarely hurt or kill anyone (else). They do not require infrastructure remotely as expansive or expensive as cars, and they do not damage the roadways and pathways built for them. Bicycles provide healthy exercise and re-connect people with their neighborhoods and neighbors. Given the above, cyclists pay more than their fare share in taxes, contrary to myth.

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    Robin July 12, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Man, I leave town for a couple weeks and now I have this to come back to.
    This is completely awful coverage. I might just have to write a letter to the editor when I get to the next wi-fi hot spot.
    The Oregonians coverage is terrible and creating a bad situation for riders.

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    Marc July 12, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    the oregonian is as unreadable as the local television news is unwatchable. i fear this is an accelerating trend nationally as i witness equally trite local coverage when i visit other cities.

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    Graham July 12, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Robert Dobbs 102:

    \”All things being equal, I\’d still rather have an —hole on a bike than in a car.\”


    We should pass that message on to all the up-in-arms drivers: Aren\’t you glad the angry, (allegedly) drunk guy was riding a 30 pound bicycle instead of driving a 3000 pound car?

    While we\’re at it, aren\’t you glad that every cyclist you see is choosing not to be in a car? That\’s one less person clogging up the freeway, taking that parking space you\’re dreaming about, and spewing exhaust into your A/C intake. You should love us, car driver. 🙂

    (I say, \”us,\” but I also walk, motorcycle, drive, bus ride, hop, skip, jump… Still, I find it hard to make these points without making them sound like us-and-them statements.)

    Sure, it\’s annoying to see a cyclist blow a stop sign, but again: wouldn\’t you prefer he do that on a bike instead of in a car?

    A lawbreaking cyclist could very likely be less dangerous and harmful than even a law-abiding driver in a car.

    Consider this rather awful thought experiment: a kid running out from nowhere. If he runs out in front of a cyclist blowing a stop sign, 1) the bicycle is light enough that it can stop quickly, 2) the bicycle is small enough, and maneuverable enough, that it can likely dodge the child, 3) if there\’s a collision, the speed of the bicycle is likely to be lower than that of a car, the combined weight of bike and rider is a fraction of that of a car, and a rider might even be able to torque his body and bike in such a way as to minimize the impact.

    (I might also add a #4: when the kid gets up and runs away, the air he breathes will be that much less likely to give him or her asthma.)

    Compare that to what happens if a child runs out in front of a car, even one driven by an attentive driver who is going the speed limit: 1) the car is slower to stop, 2) the car is big and wide and less able to maneuver, 3) the car likely to be going faster, and if there\’s a collision, it\’s likely to be a deadly one, or a very damaging one.

    Now, I hate to bring the emotionally-charged specter of danger to children into a discussion like this, but I think it\’s relevant because it underscores an overarching point: it is crazy – maybe even literally psychotic, on a massive scale – how inured we are to the constant danger posed by cars. With everything else, child safety is tantamount, and trumps all else. But with cars, we\’re so enthralled by the power and thrill of them, that we seem willing to excuse the danger posed – even danger posed to children – by these massive machines hurtling all around us. The deadliness has become commonplace, and thus invisible.

    And then a guy whacks another guy with a bicycle, and it\’s front-page news.

    Stop the tilt-a-whirl, I want to get off.

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    knappster July 12, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Here\’s an alternate headline that is just as accurate as the one chosen by editors of the Oregonian:

            Menacing, yelling driver triggers confrontation with bicyclist

    Steven McAtee responded with physical violence.  However, it was Colin Yates who initiated the confrontation from a position where he was quite capable of killing McAtee.

    I repeat.  Yates initiated an aggressive encounter from a position where he could KILL his adversary.

    Alcohol suppresses inhibitions, and I wonder what effect it has on the \”fight or flight\” response.  Perhaps alcohol made McAtee more likely to respond aggressively to any perceived physical threats from Yates.

    People often overlook the disproportionate power in such encounters – especially if they are among the majority that frequently or exclusively drives motor vehicles.

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    erin g. July 12, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Re: Marc B #97 – You have just the right attitude for We are ALL Traffic! Please join us if you\’d like to get involved.

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    Briguy July 12, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Anonymous #6, what are you thinking? Might you be responding to the wrong Blog.If not don\’t make things worse than they already are by making those types of comments.

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    Kt July 12, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    C\’mon, people. Klixi seems to be one of the only people here talking sense.

    The issue isn\’t about the form of transportation. It\’s about how people don\’t respect others; how self-centered people are.

    Society only works when everyone is playing by the same rules. We all gotta be playing the same game, or it all falls apart.

    Whatever happened the common human decency? And common sense?? It seems like a lot of people here are lacking. And a lot of people are angry about… I don\’t know, that someone else is going faster/slower/more efficiently/having more fun/whatever? Or is it that we can\’t let go of anger at other things so we apply it to all things?

    Look, all I\’m asking, as a road user, is for all you other roads users of whatever stripe you want to paint on yourselves to respect me. Be polite. I\’ll return the favor.

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    Icarus Falling July 12, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    \”I see fixie riders more than anyone blow stop signs, and it is with out question due to the design of their particular ride and the ability of the rider.\”

    What a generalization!

    \”It is without question\”… How funny that you can be so sure about this. So positive that, as you seem to be saying, most cyclists that blow stop signs are on fixies, and are blowing them because they can\’t stop.

    If that is really what you are saying then;

    Robert Dobbs, you are jaded.

    And have no idea what you are talking about…

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    wsbob July 12, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    \”…However, it was Colin Yates who initiated the confrontation…\” Knapster #110

    Excuse me, but it wasn\’t the driver of the car, Yates that initiated the confrontation. The responsibility for the confrontation lies with the drunk idiot McAtee that wizzed past the left side of Yates car and drove right through the red light Yates and his family in their car were patiently waiting to change to green.

    The O article didn\’t specifiy, but the passing action probably occurred in the same lane as Yates\’ car. So, there\’s Yates, glancing over in his sideview mirror, greeted by the unexpected sight of a drunk moron on a bike passing within inches of his car. Nice.

    Apologizing and making excuses for the pathetic, potentially homicidal McAtee, is a step backwards from the direction of making streets safer for everyone.

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    tim H July 12, 2008 at 7:42 pm


    just reported that 10,000 cyclists are pouring into the portland from seattle to provide reinforcements for the cyclist army in the imminent conflagration.

    please stay in your basement and stand by for further reports.

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    BURR July 12, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    wsbob is dreamin\’

    do you volunteer to \’eradicate grafitti\’ in your spare time, too?


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    Drewid July 12, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks for the perspective you have given this subject. Many other go on about how to solve this problem which is as old as the day that a man first mounted a horse. The feeling of physical elevation and power when astride a horse leads to the same feelings of superiority and arrogance that a motorist can feel. Few of us are immune to this failing.

    The exploitation of this divide between transportation choices that the Oregonian has chosen to spew upon our community inflames those of us who forget that we are all in this together. Most all of us are, or have been, bicyclists and motorists. Perhaps the Oregonian could regain some goodwill from the community if it had some stories that shed some light on the myth that motorists actually pay for the costs of using the roads. This very common falsehood is the catalyst for lots of negativity out there. What would we think as a society confronting the reality that driving is one of the most heavily subsidized things that this country has to offer?

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    wsbob July 12, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Indeed. \”I have a dream….\”. No disrespect intended.

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    knappster July 12, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    \”The O article didn\’t specifiy …\”
    – wsbob #115

    But that didn\’t stop him from conjecturing. If people think that unspecified passing on the left initiates a personal confrontation, then it\’s small wonder there is so much road rage in Portland.

    \”potentially homicidal McAtee\”

    Oh, that\’s rich. Who was wielding the 3,000-pound, 250-horsepower, climate-wrecking gas-guzzler?

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    Russ July 12, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    I was on the coast and saw this on the news. I figured it’d be a hot topic, but god… Maybe it’s growing up in a small town, but the logic I hear seems ridiculous to me. First, you say, if someone is breaking a traffic law, it is not your business and you should in no way confront them, this is the job of the police. However, when the police do enforce traffic laws, they are harassing people and should be out dealing with “serious crime”.

    So in essence, it’s wrong for someone to verbally engage a driver who is behaving illegally because that’s the job of the police, and it is wrong for the police to enforce traffic laws because there is more serious crime to direct resources to according to the posters on this site. Where does that leave us? I guess we all should just obey the traffic laws we feel we ought to and work our way around everyone else doing the same.

    Colin Yates isn’t a “jerk” for engaging someone he saw breaking the law, and he didn’t threaten McAtee with his car, so stop pretending that Yates did. Don’t cry about the police and a bucketful of bureaucrats not keeping us alive and then say we individually have no right to interact with each other on the roads. The only jerk is the guy who physically assaulted Mr. Yates with his bike after Yates engaged him verbally, and the only hero is the guy who ended the assault with one well-placed punch. That’s street justice, and it sounds like the only kind of justice a lot of people here will listen to or respect.

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    wsbob July 13, 2008 at 12:12 am

    Here\’s what the O article reported:

    \”Colin Yates, 47, was driving with his wife and two teenagers in his family\’s green Subaru Legacy when he saw a bicyclist pass him on the left and blow through a stoplight on Southeast 20th Avenue at Belmont Street. Yates continued driving north on 20th Avenue, through another intersection, until he caught up with the bicyclist.\”

    Here\’s what I wrote: \”The O article didn\’t specifiy, but the passing action probably occurred in the same lane as Yates\’ car.\” wsbob

    The O article actually reported, specified that McAtee passed Yates on the left, but it didn\’t specify whether he passed him in the same lane. I wasn\’t absolutely sure from memory that 20th at Belmont was a simple 2 lane road. Many people reading probably are sure. Because it seems to bother knappster that I left things kind of vague, I went to the trouble of looking at GoogleEarth. Looks pretty much like 20th is just as I said: a simple 2 lane road. That means McAtee probably passed Yates to his left in the same lane.

    As someone using a public road, I should say \’sharing\’ a public road, whenever you break the law, and are rude about in on top of that, you\’re risking a personal confrontation (not to mention possibly causing a collision). That\’s what McAtee did on his bike. Colin Yates in his car? His car was stationary when McAtee whizzed by him. Quite a weapon that is at 0 miles an hour.

    O.K, let\’s just hypothetically say that Yates occasionally is short tempered. Lots of people on the road are. It\’s a fact of life. When a guy on a bike passes him on the left side in his lane at a stop light to proceed through the red light, he loses his temper… . Well duh. Is McAtee not intelligent to know that the chance someone might lose their temper is one of the good reasons that exist for obeying traffic laws?

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    evil driver July 13, 2008 at 12:36 am

    I am surprised at the critiques of this coverage. I only check this site periodically. In most other crossover newsworthy events, the tone here has usually been faulting the drivers, often before all the facts are in.

    Or faulting the angry dangerous NoPo kids or whoever else is perceived a threat to \”cyclists\”.

    And certainly, every assault on people who ride bikes is not covered by this blog the same way. There was an assualt on a man in outer SE within the last couple of weeks that I did read about here, but read about on the O\’s blog.

    I ramble all this to say that I hope this blog is all \”It\’s not about cars vs. bikes\” when the next incident has the driver at fault for the road rage.

    That\’s when we\’ll see how earnest this effort to rebuild bridges (no pun intended) that many here have previously burned. many, not most and certainly not all.

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    Mike Quigley July 13, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Seven buck gas should alleviate a lot of the car vs. bike goings on. Hope for it.

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    jeff s July 13, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Dr. Ben (#85): your post made me LOL, repeatedly – thanx.

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    patrick July 13, 2008 at 11:18 am

    i stopped subscribing to the O because of their cheap-shot sensationalist journalism. This latest example comes as no surprise.

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    princesshungry July 13, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    well written sir.

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    SkidMark July 13, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Anyone posting on this thread about \”fixies\’ is obviously trolling. This story has nothing to do with fixed gear bikes.

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    Forseti July 13, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    \”Looks pretty much like 20th is just as I said: a simple 2 lane road. That means McAtee probably passed Yates to his left in the same lane.\”

    It does not logically follow that he \”probably passed … in the same lane.\” It could have been the other lane. Like so many other facts with respect to this story, you simply don\’t know.

    \”[Colin Yates\’] car was stationary when McAtee whizzed by him. Quite a weapon that is at 0 miles an hour.\”

    Right, except you are hyperbolizing by using a term like \”whizzed by\” and you conveniently forgot the rest of the story, at least as reported in the Oregonian:

    \”Yates continued driving north on 20th Avenue, through another intersection, until he caught up with the bicyclist. Yates honked his horn, leaned out his window, and chided the bicyclist…\”

    Just a few minutes later, he\’s weilding a deadly weapon at McAtee. At this point, his speed is unknown – but it\’s probably not zero, and his position relative to McAtee is unknown. But what is know is that during or after he was catching up with McAtee, Yates behaved belligerantly by honking, leaning out the window, and yelling.

    When drivers do this to other drivers, we call it \”road rage.\” When drivers do it to cyclists, the Oregonian calls it \”chiding.\”

    And therein lies Jonathan\’s point: The anti-bike bias is subtle but clear throughout the wording of the story.

    Congratulations on doing your part to perpetuat that bias by altering the term \”pass,\” as found in the original published account, to \”whizzed by.\”

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    Forseti July 13, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    \”Is McAtee not intelligent to know that the chance someone might lose their temper is one of the good reasons that exist for obeying traffic laws?\”

    Is Yates not intelligent enough to know that the chance someone might lose their temper is one of the good reasons for not leaning out your window, honking, and yelling at another road user?

    I\’m not defending McAtee here – his culpability is as plain as the nose on your face. But you could ask the same question of Yates, and Yates made a poor choice in deciding to handle his issues with bicyclists complying with traffic laws in the way he did. Simply put, that is no way to constructively address *any* problem.

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    Commuter July 13, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    A sociopath will not take personal responsibility for his behavior when challenged – regardless of what motive of transportation he is using when confronted by someone. The incident wasn\’t about bikes vs. cyclists – it was about the violent behavior of a drunk sociopath. Maybe the discussion should be about the untreated sufferers of mental health and what Portland is or isn\’t doing about it.

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  • […] road-rage story out of Portland caught my eye today and got me thinking about how such a story would translate in […]

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    Joe July 13, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    count me out on a subscription to that paper! 🙂 when are some car drivers going to really grow up? not holding my breath.

    I watch the police break the law all the time, sad when i\’m tring to teach my kids right from wrong! and they see it.

    careful on the roads these days, I think 4bucks a gal is blowing people minds and the are just taking it out on eveything around them.

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    wsbob July 13, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    \”Is Yates not intelligent enough to know that the chance someone might lose their temper is one of the good reasons for not leaning out your window, honking, and yelling at another road user?\” Forsetti

    That\’s just an excuse to let people like the drunken scofflaw McAtee off the hook. Forsetti quickly follows up saying he\’s not defending McAtee, but it seems as though his perspective is aligned with quite a number of people commenting to this thread that seem to believe people should be free to ignore traffic laws, operate a vehicle on the street in a state of drunkenness, and assault others when they\’ve been yelled at or had car horns honked at them.

    I imagine both Yates and McAtee are intelligent enough to realize other road users have tempers to be aware of. The difference here, is that Colin Yates didn\’t break any laws that initiated a confrontation. As far as we know from reports made, Yates wasn\’t drunk. Yates, as a responsible road user, was in a condition sufficient to allow him to comprehend where he should draw the line. From what the O article says, McAtee clearly wasn\’t.

    Forsetti, you can think whatever you want, draw whatever conclusions you feel are appropriate. I doubt your interpretation of the events of this incident detailed in comment #129 will ring true with happened as more is known, but we\’ll just have to wait and see.

    \”Just a few minutes later, he\’s weilding a deadly weapon at McAtee. At this point, his speed is unknown – but it\’s probably not zero, and his position relative to McAtee is unknown. But what is know is that during or after he was catching up with McAtee, Yates behaved belligerantly by honking, leaning out the window, and yelling.\” Forsetti

    Your conclusion, compared to what\’s reported in the O story, is just laughable. You claim Yates was belligerent. Here\’s WordWeb\’s definition of that word: \”Characteristic of an enemy or one eager to fight\” WordWeb

    Again…just laughable. Do you know that Yates is McAtee\’s enemy or that he was eager to fight? Yates is just a guy upset with the actions of a reckless road user, finding himself compelled to respond in a situation where limited options are available. Though certainly, you Forsetti, must have excellent ones in mind that no doubt you feel Yates should have tried, and that you\’d be glad to share with everyone.

    \”Just a few minutes later, he\’s weilding a deadly weapon at McAtee…\” Forsetti

    Are you accusing driver Colin Yates of \”…weilding a deadly weapon at McAtee…\”? Please tell us all just what information you have to even remotely establish that this is true. So far, based on what\’s been reported, such a conclusion is nonsense.

    Anti-bike bias in the article. That summation is really baseless too, oh…except for words like \’cyclist\’ and \’motorist\’, that have become somewhat taboo on this weblog. The article was fair enough. I would agree that anti-bike bias was connected with the article, but not due to the work of the writer, but rather, the judgment and decisions of some others of the O staff, such as editors in the use of headlines, story placement and so forth. That part of the story presentation was really just irresponsible, indefensible and shameful.

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    Forseti July 14, 2008 at 8:46 am

    \”Yates didn\’t break any laws that initiated a confrontation.\”

    So now you\’re a police officer? Or a lawyer? You did not even witness the event!! Again, you don\’t know very many of the relevant facts, yet you\’re quite willing to jumpt to conclusions.

    All you know is that Yates was leaning out the window, honking, and yelling. Depending on what he said, it could be a violation of ORS 166.065.

    I know this is hard for you to understand wsbob with your simplistic thinking, but the issue of whether Yates did anything wrong and the issue of whether McAtee did anything wrong are separate.

    So, now we\’re using something called \”WorldWeb\” to define words? Let\’s use your definition anyway. If I am standing outside your car and asking you if you want to fight, as we know McAtee did to Yates, and you get out of your car, as we know Yates did, you could be fairly construed as someone \”eager to fight.\”

    People driving cars kill 43,000 people a year in the US. People driving cars routinely use them as weapons to intimidate and harass cyclists. Again, you don\’t know the facts but have jumpted to conclusions. It\’s easily possible that McAtee felt threatened by someone driving up to him, leaning out the window, honking, and yelling. And it\’s entirely possible Yates positioned his car in a threatening manner.

    You simply don\’t know, yet you\’ve already taken sides. And that\’s what\’s nonsense.

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  • […] a sensationalist cover article in the Oregonian last week, Bike Portland pens an elegant response to the bike-car-bike-bike […]

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    Todd Waddell July 14, 2008 at 11:00 am

    From the Oregonlive Opinion Page:

    by Rick Attig, The Oregonian
    Friday July 11, 2008, 1:37 PM

    The Friday post by Jonathan Maus, the thoughtful voice at the popular blog, and the comments that followed, rip The Oregonian for its coverage of the recent assault on a motorist by a drunken cyclist.

    Maus and most of his readers believe the newspaper blew the road rage incident out of proportion, and in the process of sensationalizing the story, only exacerbated the tensions between cyclists and motorists. Maus wrote:

    Sharing the road, and the tensions road users feel are definitely news, but characterizing this one instance as a major trend in \”bicyclist vs. motorist\” anger, and presenting the story in a way that pits one user group against another in a false dichotomy, is unnecessary, unproductive and dangerous.

    That\’s a fair point. But it seems like Maus and his readers want The Oregonian and the other media to put a gloss over one of the essential facts of this highly unusual story. Maus notes that The Oregonian wrote, \”There\’s an undercurrent of tension between cyclists and drivers that sometimes erupts into violence…\” Then he writes: \”Imagine that line above written a bit differently:\”

    \”There\’s an undercurrent of tension on our roads that sometimes erupts into violence.\” The real issue goes way beyond \”bicyclist vs. motorist\”.

    Well, yes, there\’s all kinds of rage out there, including the awful incident out of Seattle where a man was attacked while watering a traffic circle. But does anyone want to claim that the fact that Steven McAtee was on a bike and Colin Yates was in a car had nothing to do with this incident? Do you believe McAtee would have similarly attacked a pedestrian, or another cyclist, who told him to stop running red lights?

    There\’s nothing constructive to be gained by denying that there is, as the story says, an undercurrent of tension between motorists and cyclists, here in this city and in many other places. The people at this newspaper feel and experience it. More than half the members of this Editorial Board are regular cycling commuters. Many of us have suffered some abuse from motorists over the years. Maybe we overplayed this story, but it was compelling to readers for two reasons: It had a man bites dog element, with a cyclist attacking a motorist. And it strikes very close to home for tens of thousands of people who are now more focused than ever before on how to safely and affordably get around this city.

    What\’s your view of the news coverage of this incident, and the suggestion that what happened was simply about an \”undercurrent of tension\” and not especially about the particular tension between motorists and cyclists?

    –Rick Attig;

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    cra*yon July 14, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I ride a bike, not a car.

    Lights and signs that were created to control massive hunks of metal driven by imperfect humans should not dictate how I ride my bike.

    If there is a car/bike/ped coming in the
    right-of-way, I will stop.

    Not if a light or sign tells me to do so.

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    kg July 14, 2008 at 11:14 am

    That\’s kinda the point. Cyclist are attacked every day in this country. The only surprise is that more of us don\’t blow up more often.

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    Matt Picio July 14, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Forseti (#44) talked about personal responsibility, and McAtee\’s actions being \”his fault and no one elses\” (emphasis removed)

    That\’s really the whole issue, isn\’t it? It wouldn\’t have been as big a deal to the notional \”community\” had Yates simply complained that McAtee ran the light, it\’s more an issue that he told McAtee that he was \”giving cyclists a bad name\”. Personal responsibility is just that – personal. Call someone out for their actions, but don\’t put the burden of the welfare of the entire \”community\” on one person and expect them to live up to some communal standard.

    Obeying the law is a personal choice – one with personal repercussions. I certainly have issues with those who break the law when they endanger me or my family and friends. I have isssues when they endanger anyone else, because of sympathy, and I believe in communal as well as personal responsibility, because I believe that the welfare of the community is important – but you can\’t make someone else do something, you can only encourage them to – they make their own choices, and there is nothing that you can do to change that (thank god).

    And I personally think that\’s the most important concept to get across to anyone (motorists, cyclists, pedestrians – PEOPLE) who complains to us: I am not . If you have a problem with *me*, then tell me what your problem is, but don\’t hold me responsible for the guy who cut you off this morning, the pedestrian in the middle of the road, the cyclist riding the wrong way, or anyone else – because I am not them. I don\’t control them with puppet strings, or mind-control.

    The human brain is marvellous at learning because it can generalize from any specific situation and apply that to similar situations to \”predict\” what is likely to happen. Unfortunately, that process means we tend to lump people into arbitrary groups and make the same predictions of individuals from the group we think they \”belong\” to. Don\’t be \”that guy\” – deal with people as people, not labels.

    Roma (#98) \”it\’s not illegal to ride a bike and talk on a phone\” – it is if you\’re under 18, unless you\’re calling 911.

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    bobcycle July 14, 2008 at 11:31 am

    I\’m sure its not newsworthy enough for the Oregonian…. but this morning I was awoken at 5:30AM by two auto drivers having a war of words over some road incident I did not witness. One was out of his car and both were challenging the other to a fight. They were calling each other mother f\’ers loud enough to wake me and others. The irony is one driver was the local Oregonian delivery guy! Headline should read \”News carriers vs. Neighborhood livability: OREGONIAN delivery causes uproar in local neighborhood!\”

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    Forseti July 14, 2008 at 11:33 am

    \”Maybe we overplayed this story…\”

    Clueless to the very end. Not only is this the understatement of the century, it evidences Attig\’s total failure to understand Jonathan\’s eloquent critique.

    Probably he\’s also a little frustrated that his paper has been replaced as the best source for local news.

    Anyway, Attig missed the point – yet again. I don\’t think Jonathan was claiming that the event had nothing to do with the car-bike aspect (quite the contrary), only that the undercurrent of hostility and violence on the roads is broader than the car-bike thing and contributes to a serious safety problem. More importantly, the Oregonian has totally abdicated its public responsibility to deal with this important broader issue and focused on fanning the flames of the us-them mentality arising from this particular incident to sell papers. And there is nothing constructive about that. How long will it take the folks at the Oregonian to figure this out?

    kg got it right (at #138). Attig claims that several members of their editorial board \”have suffered some abuse from motorists\” as bike commuters. And surely Attig must know that this king of behavior is primarily what keeps more Portlanders off bikes. Such criminal acts certainly would \”strike[] very close to home for tens of thousands of people who are now more focused than ever before on how to safely and affordably get around this city.\” Yet Attig and the Oregonian continue to fail to cover this story and instead focus on perpetuating their legacy of Yellow Journalism. Shameful.

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    Forseti July 14, 2008 at 11:35 am

    At # 139: Wow! Very well said, Matt!!

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    Robert Dobbs July 14, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Icarus Falling @ 114

    \”I see fixie riders more than anyone blow stop signs, and it is with out question due to the design of their particular ride and the ability of the rider.\”

    What a generalization!

    Actually, that\’s called an observation. You know, one of the underpinnings of reason.

    So positive that, as you seem to be saying, most cyclists that blow stop signs are on fixies, and are blowing them because they can\’t stop.


    And have no idea what you are talking about…

    I do have an idea what I\’m talking about. Do you know why track bikes aren\’t allowed to have brakes while racing in a velodrome?

    Do you?

    It\’s ok, I\’ll save you some embarrassment in front of the class: It\’s so the riders can\’t stop too quickly and cause a wreck.

    Experienced fixie riders can stop only by skidding or applying resistance to their back tire. Over 70% of braking power is in the front. This is the same reason why cars have disc brakes in front, and drums in the rear. Why put the expensive, high performance brakes in back if they aren\’t nearly as effective?

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    Robert Dobbs July 14, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Anyone want to take bets that Sunday\’s incident, WITH A FREAKING CYCLIST PINNED TO THE HOOD of a DUII driver\’s SUV doesn\’t even make it above the fold in the Boregonian?

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    wsbob July 14, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    \”All you know is that Yates was leaning out the window, honking, and yelling.\” Forsetti #135

    I don\’t know that, I didn\’t say that, nor was that what the O story reported. Anyone actually reading the article and thinking over what they read would understand that it didn\’t say Colin Yates did what Forsetti in his comment is suggesting he did.

    Colin Yates didn\’t break any laws that initiated a confrontation. Why would anyone imagine that he did?

    Forsetti, in general, it might help if you\’d slow down a little and think writing down and posting whatever comes out of your mind. Also, the dictionary I\’m using is \’WordWed\’, not *WorldWeb* as you seem to think. By the way, it\’s a free download, prepared by Princeton University if anyone would like to have it!

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    Forseti July 14, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    That is what the Oregonian reported, wsbob. Except they substituted \”chided\” for \”yelling,\” just like you substituted \”wizzed by\” for \”pass.\” Perhaps you should go re-read it?

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    Ladd Circle Resident July 15, 2008 at 11:58 am

    I just read all 147 posts to try to understand why this issue is so polarizing. I\’m a driver, a regular cyclist and pedestrian currently living on Ladd and see this boil over almost every day in this neighborhood.

    I think the Oregonian has a valid story whether they chose the right headline or not. There are plenty of bad drivers out there but they don\’t reflect on the other car-owners the way that ignoring traffic rules does on a bike.

    I should say that I once biked the length of England and Scotland and likely didn\’t stop for a stop sign once. Those days are coming to an end and I now look forward to the day when bike cops ride the streets and enforce the same traffic rules for all of us. Please stop for stop signs or at least dab and slow – the reputation you save may be your own.

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  • […] a seven-mile trip, I counted four cars that honked at us. In other words, in Portland there’s occasional friction between cyclists and motorists when sharing the road. In Beaverton, motorists are still secure in their delusion that they own the […]

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    jason July 23, 2008 at 6:57 pm


    Thank you for the great article, and to all the other posts, thank you for your views and insights.

    I grew up in Portland, learned to ride and race my bike there, and over the years became a regular and experienced bike commuter. 3 years ago I moved to Toronto, ON for work and family reasons.

    I love PDX and miss riding my bike on the twisting hills that run thoughtout the city and outlining areas. I talk Portland up all the time as a great place to ride (I think I actually say the ‘BEST.’)

    I am saddened to see these reports, and the news of the deaths last year.

    Now for my insight… It goes like this. My first year in Toronto I commuted one hour on the busiest highway in Canada – the 401 in rush hour traffic. On bad days it would take more then an hour. I was out of my element to say the lease and I missed my bike. I became irritable and angry all the time, and had to resolve my issue with the 401 and all of the heartless people in that rush hour traffic.

    On a particularly hot slow moving commute I let someone cut into my lane and I felt better for some reason. I resolved to let everyone who need in my lane, in. Some people gave me a waved of thanks, others did not, but it did not matter it made me feel good and that is want counted. What made the difference for me was that I was doing something positive rather then trying to push my way to work or home. The commute, like life, it is what it is. An exercise in patience yields positive dividends. Pushing against it will ware on you.

    In the end I switched jobs and now commute 10 miles on my bike into the city. I follow the traffic laws, despite others (cyclist and motorists) not doing the same. I am attentive and patience for those who are not and kind to everyone. I savor the positive interactions and blow the negative ones off with a smile and a wave.

    Did I mention that I still race my bike, but the commute is not a race or a show of dominance.

    Never underestimate the power of kindness even when you think the other person is wrong. It could save your day.

    And bring back the Portland I left – you all should hold onto the great things that make Portland and Portlanders the best.

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  • […] plan for our city’s future, I’m afraid this story will only serve to intensify the “bicyclist” versus “motorist” sensationalism that The Oregonian has admitted to “overplaying” in the […]

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