Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 29th, 2008 at 10:12 am
A story published yesterday in their National Affairs section is ominously titled, Road Rage in Portland: Bikes Cars Clash and Pedal vs. Metal: A surge in bike ridership spurs a new kind of road rage.
This is just the latest bit of national attention focused on Portland for this issue. An Associated Press story written shortly after the initial Oregonian story has been picked up by media outlets in numerous cities. That story positioned the incident as the symptom of a larger problem of “uneasiness” on our roadways: The title of the story used in many cities was Clash of wheels mars Portland’s bike-friendly fame.
The Newsweek piece takes a familiar road and sets up the story by saying Portland’s surge in bike ridership has been followed by an increased tension:
“But the cycling surge has created conflict, as the new breed of commuters bumps up against the old, oil-powered kind.”
The story then details the four road rage incidents that made headlines within a week or so of each other and then posits:
“But there’s also clearly plenty of tension on Portland’s streets, and the strange two-week spate of clashes this summer that has people wondering whether the incidents are a sign of further trouble to come.”
After citing statistics that prove our roads are actually much safer for biking than they were 10 years ago, the reporter asked the question, “So why the recent road rage?”
According to the Portland Police Bureau’s Public Information Officer Brian Schmautz, it has to do with a, “militant” attitude among citizens:
“We have a protest culture,” he said. “We see a certain willingness to speak out in a way that’s not completely legal.”
Read the entire story on Newsweek.com.
It’s been interesting to see how these headline-grabbing incidents have captivated media outlets all over the country.
Is this portrayal of conditions on Portland’s streets accurate? Have conditions worsened in recent months? Or are increased tensions on the road a result of the intense media scrutiny of a “bikes vs. car” war over the past few weeks?
What are your thoughts?