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Words of wisdom from the guy on the windshield

Posted by on July 15th, 2008 at 9:26 am

oregonian front page-1.jpg

For the third time in less than a week,
“Bikes vs. Cars” makes the front page.

The windshield-surfer from yesterday’s road rage incident has become something of a local celebrity.

The cell-phone video of his wild ride was replayed numerous times on the TV news last night and it was even played and discussed on NBC’s Today Show this morning. Also today, The Oregonian has put a still image from that video on the entire above-the-fold section of their newsstand edition (that makes three times in less than a week that “Bikes vs. Cars” has made the front page, yippee!).

Since the incident, I’ve noticed two comments come in from Mr. Windshield himself — Jason Rehnberg (he apparently prefers the nickname “flow”).

“Some say I should not have said anything and just rode off peacefully, well… there could have been a kid in the road next time and silence equals death.”
–Jason Rehnberg

In the first one, he recounts what happened, beginning with, “Wow, I had no idea this would go so far.”

He also admits that he used “some profane language” against the driver, James Millican (who’s now in the slammer), but that after his initial comment of “Slow down gashole,” he said “very little.”

Rehnberg also stands by his actions:

“Some say I should not have said anything and just rode off peacefully, well… there could have been a kid in the road next time and silence equals death.”

In his second comment, Rehnberg reflects on the effectiveness of yelling at someone to change their behavior.

“I must agree that in most cases yelling and using profanity are very ineffective solutions in getting someone to change their behavior. I prefer to wave and blow kisses at the people who honk at me and call me a jerk or worse for nothing more than slowing them down for a few seconds.”

But he adds that sometimes kisses and waves don’t always do the trick and when, “someone does something so extreme, you just got to shout it out loud… I felt it my civic duty to say something.”

In retrospect, Rehnberg admits that “slow down gashole” is, “not the slickest way to handle the situation” but that it’s “hardly worth running a person down for such a comment.”

I also noticed a comment from a man who lives in the neighborhood where this road rage incident took place. He wrote in to “thank the biker for confronting the driver,” and added that, “At the least I hope the guy can never drive again. If that’s the case then you did change his behavior.”

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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Forseti
Guest
Forseti

\”At the least I hope the guy can never drive again.\”

That should really be the most important part of the punishment, shouldn\’t it? You\’ve shown such a high likelihood of injuring or killing someone when you\’re behind the wheel of the car that you\’re just going to have to find another way to get around out there – for everyone\’s safety. Take the Max, take a bus, buy a pair of good walking shoes, or – *gasp!* – ride a bike. But since people driving cars are America\’s leading cause of death, we don\’t want *you* behind the wheel any more.

And it will never happen.

Craig
Guest
Craig

I don\’t know why I find this funny…but…I think it if funny you (Jonathan) are snapping pics of the O while it is still in the paper thingy.
Otherwise, solid article, as usual.

djasonpenney
Guest

I too live in a residential neighborhood that outsiders tend to use as a through street. I regularly see 30 foot skid or tmarks in front of my house and the stop sign at the end of our block gets knocked over about once a year.

In this regard I think WashCo and MultCo civil authorities are the same: neither one seems to have the gumption to stand up and say that safety takes preference over the convenience of motorists.

Until we make our streets safe for pedestrians and cyclists, people are going to hide in their single-occupancy \”gashole\” vehicles, which in turn seems to encourage the authorities to make the streets even more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

Here are some examples of some poor civil engineering choices:

http://sanjosehatespedestrians.priss.org/

Be sure to follow the links to see how civil engineers there really hate pedestrians. And don\’t think that it\’s only California; K\’Tesh has displayed at least one truly horrific choice that ODOT made at a WES crossing in Tigard.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I saw this video played on NBC\’s Today Show this morning (and I wasn\’t glad to see it playing there). Perhaps we can create a great public education campaign with all of this momentum (positive or not). Don\’t forget why we\’re out there everyday riding!

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

\”I think it is funny you (Jonathan) are snapping pics of the O while it is still in the paper thingy.\”

Craig,

I do this to give the headline more context and to show that it is the newsstand edition, versus what is delivered to homes.

2GOAT
Guest
2GOAT

Given these 3 events, the focus trully should be on road rage. There is an actual site, http://www.roadragers.com/what-is-road-rage.htm
that addresses road rage. Granted the site is focused on motorist vs motorist conflict, but many of the suggestions they offer to defuse the \”rage\” really apply to all people in traffic.
I do acknowlegde that in Bicyclist vs Motor vehicle, the cyclist is the vulnerable member and justifiably threatened by any inattentive motion of a car but there has to be a more constructive mechanism to deal with the rage.

Antonia
Guest
Antonia

Something similar happened here in SF recently, caught on video, but Im not sure any further action was taken.
http://current.com/items/89088884_when_cars_and_bikes_share_more_than_the_road

Michael
Guest
Michael

Off topic, I can\’t wait for some good news. Seems kinda depressing lately. That\’s why I don\’t watch the nightly news on tv, seems like it\’s not news unless it\’s bad news. That\’s what I love about this site, you usually give an update on some development or event that I can look forward to and didn\’t know about. You do a great job of equally covering everything bike related in and around our fair city, thank you for that. Here\’s to hoping for more love, peace, and greater things to come for Portland and those of us who call it home.

SmilingMonk
Guest
SmilingMonk

I found the cell phone video very frightening!

I hope the driver spends a LONG time in jail thinking about his drunken actions.

Mr DeJerk
Guest

This is very interesting… Newspaper headlines, on a certain span of time, will tell a story better than the content of the articles isolated. Most of the times (specially speaking of mediocre mainstream papers), they are a manipulated story. Just check the headlines from September 12th 2001 and on, and you\’ll have a story being created and leading a nation to a war.
This week\’s story from the Oregonian is one about a conflict, too, as it has been pointed out, of \”bikes vs cars\”.
Regardless of how much they are overplaying this or that side, what people that have the O as main source of information are receiving, is a story of a conflict that will only escalate. There are so many efforts being put to pretend this conflict is unavoidable, but my opinion is that this city is already too small for the slogan \”Share the Road\”. It is impossible, at this point, to coexist peacefully without giving preference/right of way to one mode of transportation over the other. Beyond cases of road rage, sensitive cyclists are threatened by cars, and motorists have their \”freedom to move as fast as they can\” threatened by something \”smaller\” than them. Should we address this conflict more openly, or should we isolate the cases that reflect that because we are afraid to have to stand for what we really believe in (and maybe hurting someone\’s feelings)?

Pete
Guest
Pete

Jonathan (#5): I did notice the edition here at the office has a different headline: \”Motorist vs. bicyclist… vs. hood of car\”.

david
Guest
david

Snapping the shot in the paper box shows what the general public would see passing by. The immpact/shock sell!

I do laugh that the cyclist admits his minor \’faults\’. I blow kisses and wave sometimes but if it gets close I too go right for the yelling or maybe a hand gesture. I know I may be inciting a fight but how else should you respond? I get buzzed by someone everytime I ride. It\’s almost normal.

I have been an advocate for speed bumps in residential streets. It seems that someone has to die first before that happens though. Seeing the video, that guy must have been going way over 30mph before skidding to a stop. Speed bumps probably would have thrown the cyclist off the hood but then maybe the driver wouldn\’t be going so fast in the first palce.

Jasun Wurster
Guest

Mr. Rehnberg makes a very valid point that I agree with about speaking out. It is the responsibility of the people that live in an area to strengthen it\’s community by speaking up to make others aware and accountable to their acts.

Reading other blogs about this story is really saddening because their are a majority of people who chastise the victim for speaking out. Perhaps it is because of this Silent Majority why our soceity is not as civil as it could be.

trackback

[…] Somehow a guy with a cellphone got video of it. There’s lots more at the bikeportland blog. […]

Andy
Guest
Andy

We have cars blowing through our neighborhood all the time. Absolutely do we feel like we have to say something, or they\’ll just keep doing it. I can\’t imagine just sitting quietly by and watching cars race by with kids playing in front of the house.

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

I hate speed bumps AKA \”Sleeping Policemen\”, in a car or on a bike.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

It is one\’s social responsibility to hold others accountable for their actions. the whole \”keep quiet mind your own business\” mantra that floats around here is pure relativism at its finest!

As Pastor Martin Niemöller said:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn\’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Chad
Guest
Chad

(a little off topic, but it needs to be said)

Jonathan, good job this morning on OPB and, well hell, every time you speak for us (whether some like it or not).

The responsibility that falls upon your shoulders during times like this has got to be immense, but in every instance you have made more than a few of us \”road users\” very, very happy to have you as the most vocal (and most heard) member of our community.

Thank you.

Elisabeth
Guest
Elisabeth

Really sad, but hopefully, this will lead to some more impetus to locate funding to traffic calm our bicycle boulevards to a FAR greater extent, so that these kinds of conflicts can be minimized or mitigated.

If Lincoln had had a semi-diverter at 50th or some such thing, I would guess ten to one, this event would not have unfolded, because there would not have been a driver speeding down the street using it as a cut-through in the first place. Ditto for the Clinton Road Rage incident that happened last year.

With more & more & more bikes on the road, I think the argument could be made that we are really going to have to start seeking funding to create better bike boulevard networks that do not allow for such speeding traffic that is not from the neighborhood.

anonymous
Guest
anonymous

@david:

\”I blow kisses and wave sometimes but if it gets close I too go right for the yelling or maybe a hand gesture. I know I may be inciting a fight but how else should you respond? I get buzzed by someone everytime I ride. It\’s almost normal.\”

I think it depends on what your goal is. If your goal is to satiate your immediate anger, then your middle digit may do the trick.

But you need to acknowledge that you are consciously escalating the conflict. Worse, you are consciously escalating a conflict that you cannot win. You are providing satisfaction to the very person who is antagonizing you. Ignoring the person or waving (in a non-ironic fashion, of course) is the most defusing response.

Violence rarely erupts spontaneously. Violence is the result of actions and reactions. Your reaction to an idiotic action by a driver may determine whether violence occurs. If violence occurs, you will almost certainly lose.

Robert Dobbs
Guest
Robert Dobbs

anonymous @20

Your reaction to an idiotic action by a driver may determine whether violence occurs. If violence occurs, you will almost certainly lose.

I agree. We should all lie supine and beg for mercy from our motorized overlords.

joel
Guest
joel

Yo Portland quit driving and riding drunk! Stay home and sleep it off. Both of the violent events in the past week were the result of boozed up jerks who I have no pity on, regardless of their transit choices. I feel that despite the danger of violent actions we as citizens of Portland need to continue to tell our neighbors when we feel they are acting dangerously in their cars and on their bikes. Its called a community.

mad mike
Guest
mad mike

I think we should stage a steel-cage style, mixed-martial arts fight between the driver of yesterday\’s rampaging car and the bike-swinging maniac from the other day. They can have a blood-caked fight to the death, with the winner being awarded a contract to write moronic and sensationalistic stories for the Oregonian that will serve to dumb down our collective IQ even further.

Happy times, indeed

p.s. let\’s get us some more calming, soothing local singletrack access in town, eh? Rare is the road-rage incident on dirt, or so I\’ve noticed…

Paul Souders
Guest

@2GOAT (#3):

\”Given these 3 events, the focus trully should be on road rage.\”

What he said.

bArbaroo
Guest
bArbaroo

I second what Chad #18 said!

I so appreciate your articulate and reasonable voice in the (other)media.

Toby
Guest
Toby

Glad to see the O give equal headlines, But it sucks they had the opportunity.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

i\’m pretty sure the Oregonian had to give equal headlines, otherwise their bias would have been so completely oblvious it would have ecilpsed their \”journalistic integrity\”

n8m
Guest
n8m

Does anyone know if James Millican is an Oregonian reader (esp. of the recent car vs. bike articles), and thus a participant in the Oregonian sponsered \”Cars vs. Bikes\” war? Im curious.

Perhaps his act of violence was inspired by the Oregonian. The Oregonian should get proper credit for inciting violence on our streets.

Americans love war. War sells. Congratulations Oregonian.

Forseti
Guest
Forseti

@ #26:

LOL, you said \”the Oregonian\” and \”journalistic integrity\” in the same sentence. Good one!!

[don\’t worry, I noticed the quotes]

nancy
Guest
nancy

Oh the hypocrisy! Awesome work, as usual, \”bicycle community\”.

Diogo
Guest
Diogo

I agree with DeJerk – these coverages are preparing the field for future actions to come; they\’re sending home the message of conflict and law-breaking bicyclists, and the ultimate result can only be one: crackdown on cyclists.

There\’s not much what can be done against drivers that is not already being done. However, regarding bikes, expect increasing repression and enforcement. That is the only answer this society has for every problem: repression, police force, even if it doesn\’t achieve nothing. Unfortunately we cannot expect the public debate to go deep into the issue, to pay attention to the nuances. Its just much easier to say: \”enforce the law\”, punish the \”bad guys\” – always this black and white approach.

\”They\” are just waiting for a tipping point, a 9/11 that will justify the tough actions to come. It will come as soon as a cyclist injure someone when running a stop sign, for example. And that will eventually happen, because accidents happen. But repression probably, as usual, will not change anything.

Which is crazy! We\’ve been seeing so many accidents involving cars and bikes. Sometimes the bikes are breaking the law, sometimes the cars are – but ALWAYS it is the cyclists who gets hurt. That should be enough to understand that the legal paradigm does not assure safety – but, again, that is beyond what most people are willing to question. But, for me, that means that if I don\’t want to get hurt or hurt someone else, traffic laws should not be the guiding principle, but rather the law of physics. As I see it, you can be right according to the law but still be wrong if you are endangering yourself or others by trusting that the law will protect you. I told my partner after the deaths of cyclists last year: who cares if they were right according to the law; ultimatelly the responsibility is yours, always, because your goal in the road is to survive and not to be \”right\”… Anyways…

bean
Guest
bean

I like to give the \”thumbs-down\” sign when I see a bad driver out there. It gets the point across without being overly rude, obnoxious, etc…
It takes a little practice to get in the habit, instead of \”the bird\”.

Jonathan: job well done.

Roma
Guest
Roma

@toddistic #17:

I don\’t know if you could have possibly twisted that quote anymore out of context.

Choosing not to yell at a passing motorist can hardly be considered the same thing as passively watching as a fascist government kills masses of people. What point are you trying to make? That if we don\’t yell at speeding cars pretty soon we\’ll be in prison camps?

Can anyone really provide an example of where the community at large actually made people stop speeding by yelling at them as they drove by?

I\’m not pro speeding, I\’m just saying this method is not effective and only makes the problem worse.

Maybe instead of setting up stings to catch cyclists rolling through stop signs the police should be concentrating on people who speed through residential neighborhoods.

I see cars roll through stop signs all the time, I\’m just not deluded enough to believe that yelling at them is going to change their behavior.

Hell I got a $240 ticket for rolling through a stop sign at 5mph on my bike, and I still do it every day…at the same intersection no less.

BURR
Guest
BURR

How many motorists actually slow down to less than 5 to 10 mph at a stop sign?

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

I do not feel that is out of context or twisted. It represents a fundamental point, those who threaten without fear of reprissal are emboldened and actions remain unchanged. A passive approach when it comes to negative interactions continues the status quo of second class citizens.

Yelling at a car doesn\’t nessecarly change a driver\’s behavior all the time but it may. That\’s the point.

Roma
Guest
Roma

\”…those who threaten without fear of reprissal are emboldened and actions remain unchanged.\”

those who threaten without fear of reprisal, have no fear of reprisal as a general rule.

\”A passive approach when it comes to negative interactions continues the status quo of second class citizens.\”

Are cyclists second class citizens? What about Yates yelling out of his car at the drunk cyclist breaking the law – was he a second class citizen challenging the staus quo?

travis
Guest

i think the oregonian is a rag. these headlines will probably do more damage to cyclist/motorist relations…

take away this asshole\’s license for sure, but the O should stop making it look like its all biker vs driver… i\’ve had crazy things happen to me biking, driving, walking, skateboarding….

its human vs human.

also, the heat makes people go nuts!

MIke
Guest
MIke

I am all for yelling. But maybe if one day we all made some lemonade and passed it out to cars to thank them for driving slowly and sharing the streets. We can call it yelling quitely.

As I am writing this I hear cars zipping down my street at about 40 mph. I better get back to yelling at them.

Tony Fuentes
Guest
Tony Fuentes

So…

A few days ago someone under the influence used a bike as a weapon…now someone under the influence used their car as a weapon…

Please, please, please let the next angry drunk be on a Segway…

Zaphod
Guest
Zaphod

Tangentially…

Urban design teaches us that people react to the built environment. If a road is designed with traffic calming elements, they will slow down.

As an unintentional experiment, take some of the extremely narrow non-arterials off of Hawthorne where two cars cannot pass at the same time going opposite directions. One car has to yield. The dynamics cause the drivers to go slow. If bikes are in the road, it is a rare case where a driver will get agitated. The reason is that it\’s clear that this road doesn\’t support high speeds. Also the cyclists on the road can\’t easily squeeze right to allow the pass for cars behind.

It seems that all parties reach a natural conclusion to work together. To be fair, this means the cyclists have advantage while cars have to defer.

Next consider intentional traffic calming such as bio-swales, street art, speed humps, and other elements that make going over 15 mph in a car feel risky and sketch. Here again, all users are reacting to the environment. Cyclists are drawn to the safety and motorists go slowly. They also will avoid these roads for anything but local destinations.

I find that ambiguity is often cause for stress for all road users. This relates to the main article and comments in that what starts as stress can escalate into road rage. If the the problem is diffused through design, we\’re all calmer, happier and safer.

And even more tangentially…hopefully our mayor elect will continue to make this a top priority.

cyclist
Guest
cyclist

How many motorists actually slow down to less than 5 to 10 mph at a stop sign?

I certainly do when I\’m driving my car. 5mph is really not all that slow, all things considered, if you don\’t come to something close to a complete stop you\’re libel to kill someone.

I think that the pull speed on a car (the speed that an automatic travels without hitting the gas) isn\’t more than 1mph or 2mph, there aren\’t many people around here who are going faster than that when they go through a stop sign (at least in my experience, on a bike and in a car).

Ian
Guest
Ian

I just have this comment for all the cyclists that think they own the road (not every cyclist):
1.) Stay in the bike lane if there are no obstuction in it.
2.) If there is no bike lane ride on the far right side of the shoulder. As far over as you can safely ride.
3.) If there are multiple cyclists ride single file. It is illegal to ride side by side (and dumb and dangerous). Plus you can draft and ride that much faster (if your in a group).
4.) Please signal your turns and obey traffic law.
5.) Yield to pedestrians (this one is huge!)

I have no problem SHARING the road with cyclists and think it is sad that a few ignorant and arrogant cyclist give the rest of the cycling community such a bad name.

bikerhal
Guest
bikerhal

The scary thing is is that Portland is rated as a platinum bicycling friendly city, and I live in a bronze.

lyle
Guest
lyle

I don\’t have time to read through all the comments to see if this has been posted already, but this story was on The Today Show (NBC national news show) this morning… complete with video and summary of events.

Coaster
Guest
Coaster

I agree with Zaphod,
my neighborhood has narrow little streets where many (physics challenged) road users flock, like families with small children. The wide streets only a few blocks away tend to encourage high speeds. Once again, it\’s coming back to INFRASTRUCTURE.

N
Guest
N

Ian #42,

Give me a break… If there is no bike lane, you can legally take the whole lane. It\’s safer to take the whole lane.

I don\’t think any cyclists out there are delusional enough to think they own the road, but they damn sure have a right to it.

Coaster
Guest
Coaster

Try a horn people! My friend has a small bell for alerting cyclists and peds and an AIR HORN for letting cars know of her presence. The Air horn is loud and effective, and seems more polite than yelling. Plus, you should see the look on a drivers face when they get a toot from what sounds like a semi-truck passing them!

David
Guest
David

Ian #42

One correction to your list. It is quite legal to ride two abreast in Oregon. But don\’t take it from me, here is the law:

OR Revised Statutes 814.430(2)(e)

(2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances: . . .
(e) When operating a bicycle alongside not more than one other bicycle as long as the bicycles are both being operated within a single lane and in a manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

Two abreast is legal as long as it doesn\’t impede traffic.

Jmartens
Guest

Has Jason or any of you like him stopped to ask yourself why so many people honk and call you a jerk?

Ever heard the saying \”every action receives an equal and opposite reaction\”?

Act like a jerk, will be called a jerk.

Jasun Wurster
Guest

Aaaahhhh the law… interpreting and following it,

Ian #42 –

I can not find the exact law that explicitly states that riders can ride two abreast… but the City of Portland implies that riding two abreast is legal:

\”Bicycles should not ride more than two abreast, except on paths or parts of the roadway designated for bicycles. When riding two abreast, you may not impede the normal and reasonable movement of travel.\”

Source: http://www.portlandonline.com/TRANSPORTATION/index.cfm?a=58292&c=34814

Is it reasonable that a car goes 15 MPH in a residential area behind two bikes? Personally, I live on Alberta and think that the legal speed limit of 30MPH is unreasonable and dangerous.

Coaster #47 –

I think that air horns on bikes are great. When I was up in Vancouver, BC last year many cyclists had them ans swore by them. Though here in Oregon there is a law that is worded as such that:

\”A person shall not install or use any siren or whistle upon a bicycle.\”

Source: ORS 815.280 (b)