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Man on a bike dragged 150 feet following traffic altercation (Updated)

Posted by on August 13th, 2009 at 8:52 pm

The Oregonian is reporting that 31-year old Kevin Stevenson is in serious condition after a traffic altercation resulted in him being dragged 150 feet by a vehicle near NE Couch Street and Sandy Blvd.

We have not confirmed any details of the story with the Portland Police Bureau, but according to The Oregonian the incident occured at 1:15 am Thursday morning. Here’s an excerpt from their story:

Several bicyclists were going eastbound on East Burnside near Sandy Boulevard when a vehicle seemed to be tailgating them, said Detective Mary Wheat, a police spokeswoman.

When the vehicle started to go around, one of the bicyclists started yelling at the driver. Wheat said the bicyclist leaned into the passenger window of the vehicle and tried to grab the driver, apparently upset because the car was too close to the cyclists.

… Dispatchers were told the man was dragged by a vehicle and finally dropped near Northeast Couch Street and Sandy Boulevard.

Wheat said the injured man suffered road rash, and his shoe was torn up. He was riding a bicycle without gears or brakes.

The article says that Stevenson was riding with his girlfriend, Kate Darnall, at the time of the altercation. The Oregonian spoke to Darnall’s family and they say Stevenson “yelled at the vehicle” after it passed them, causing the driver to back up. When the driver got near them, Darnall alleges that her boyfriend was “grabbed by the driver and a passenger in the back seat, then dragged until the heels of his shoes were in tatters.”

Stevenson was taken to the burn center at Legacy Emanuel Hospital and was currently listed in serious condition as of Thursday afternoon.

The case is still being investigated and has been turned over to the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division.

We realize there are a lot of unanswered questions with this story and we’ll plan on finding out more details tomorrow.


Updated on Saturday, August 15th:
The Oregonian has published an update to this story. They report that police have interviewed the victim and another witness again, and now believe that Stevenson was grabbed by the passenger and driver rather than the other way around.

According to the new story, police are still searching for the vehicle, but are not releasing any identifying details except that it had out-of-state plates.

Stevenson is still hospitalized, in serious condition with multiple injuries, the story reports.

The original story on the Oregonian, which quotes the police statement that the man on the bike tried to grab the person driving the car, and adds that he was riding without gears or brakes, has more comments than any other current news story.

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

84 Comments
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    Bjorn August 13, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    “Police did not release a description of the vehicle, saying more investigation was necessary.”

    Sounds like no matter what happened it ended with one person hurt and another person leaving the scene of a injury incident. Why are the police not releasing a description? If they havn’t identified the driver then a description is needed! Hit and run in PDX is a serious problem, in the last year I was present for a serious injury hit and run and my car was hit by someone who drove off without taking responsibility. I would believe this wasn’t the drivers fault if they had stopped or contacted the cops but it sounds like neither of those things happened. People don’t run unless they know they did something wrong!

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    Serviceburo August 13, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    So how many people are going to ignore the fact that this guy REACHED INTO THE CAR! There’s no excuse for what the driver did, but there’s also no excuse for what the cyclist did. Darwinism in full effect if you ask me.

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    Allison August 13, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I’m sorry Jonathan, but I hate these stories. Maybe we need to hear about this stuff, but they’re always filled with guesses and speculation and it leads to recrimination and blame throwing.

    Is this really any better than the O’s depiction of Cars v. Bikes stories? Even if the story didn’t frame it that way, you know the comments will.

    I hear you Allison… and I have mixed feelings about these type of stories too… but I still feel like they need to be covered here.

    as for the comments… they will be what they are, but rest assured that Elly and I are watching comments much more closely these days.

    thanks for your feedback. — Jonathan

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    Bjorn August 13, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Did he reach in or as some witnesses said was he pulled into the car? Regardless the Oregonian’s continued bias shows clearly as they try to degrade him by saying that his bike “had no gears or brakes”. Sounds like he was riding this: http://www.skuut.com/

    Actually he was probably riding a full size bicycle that had both 1 gear and a brake that is operated by resisting the forward motion of the pedals.

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    Allison August 13, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Bjorn:

    Obviously we don’t know. Sounds like accounts differ, which is probably why the police report hasn’t been released.

    I think the fact that the bike didn’t have brakes is relevant. Brakes are required by Oregon law if you’re going to ride on public thoroughfares.

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    Joe August 13, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    get well! hope things turn out ok.

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    Tim August 13, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Serviceburo: the police officer claimed that he reached into the car. His girlfriend claims he was grabbed by the people in the car. I would be very surprised to learn that a cyclist, especially one on a fixed-gear bike, had done something so foolhardy as to reach into a moving car to try to grab someone inside. It is even more bizarre to imagine a cyclist trying to reach the driver of a moving car from the passenger side as the police report claims. I am very skeptical of the detective’s version of this story.

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    Bjorn August 13, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Well several judges in Portland and around the state have ruled that a fixed gear hub is a mechanical brake so it is questionable that the bike didn’t have a brake, assuming that the guy wasn’t riding a skuut, which I suppose in pdx might be the case…

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    Disastronaut August 13, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    So if the guy is on a fixie it’s all his fault, I get it now.

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    indy August 13, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    “Actually he was probably riding a full size bicycle that had both 1 gear and a brake that is operated by resisting the forward motion of the pedals.”

    How can you NOT get the Pulitzer for clarification alone?

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    Ian C. August 13, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Eastbound on Burnside. Right. There is no way in Hell I would be found biking on that stretch of Burnside. Especially near Sandy. Especially on a Fixie.

    The nearest Bike Boulevard is ONE BLOCK AWAY on Ankeny.

    Certainly, there are no excuses for the alleged behavior on either side, but I just hate hearing about these things when a gentle partition would have avoided the whole affair.

    -Ian

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    KJ August 13, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    fixies are the new ‘no helmet”

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    She August 13, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    This is very sad, I am sorry to hear of situations like this. I know I have been in a situation where I felt the need to ride up to a drive and educate him that he just cut me off and if I had not responded as quickly as I did it could have been my life gone. Unfortunately, it was not a very successful education process. He was on his cell phone when he cut me off and still when I caught up to him and he had a youth in the front seat of the car.

    So having said that I understand how our adrenaline can get the best of us.

    I just keep coming back to how sad this is – 1) that the driver got that close to the other bikes to upset this rider that much, 2) that the driver BACKED UP (that should not be lost on any of us) and went back to the altercation, 3) that there is a possibility that the biker leaned into the car to grab a driver and/or passenger, horrible, sad, frightening, and I have to say all at 1:15 am which is not a good time to be on a bike or in a car on the road.

    I hope that Kevin makes a full recovery and can help all of us cyclists learn what happened despite what pride or protectiveness over his friends he felt that night/morning.

    This guy went to the burn unit, he was dragged by his feet for some distance to destroy completely his shoes!

    I hope both parties come and way and figure out how to be less agressive and confrontive in traffic situations – really NO ONE wins in this situation.

    Thank you Jonathan and Elly for your diligence in monitoring you site!

    Let’s not speculate but think of how we can avoid these kinds of situations.

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    Roma August 13, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    If his girlfriends’ story is true, you’re taking your life into your own hands if you’re yelling at people in cars (or anyone really) at 1:15am. There are some crazy mofos out there.

    I don’t know who to believe No matter what happened, this guy didn’t deserve what he got. I think the driver instantly loses some credibility for leaving the scene after almost killing someone.

    I also agree that saying he was riding a bicycle with no gears and no brakes is totally irrelevant when describing this incident. It only serves to make the cyclist seem like some sort of daredevil scofflaw.

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    Elly Blue August 13, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Folks, we are keeping an eye on comments as much as possible but we have to sleep at some point. Relying on you all to keep your cool.

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    Peter Noone August 13, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    @Allison: Please explain how the cyclist’s brakes or alleged lack thereof may have caused this incident to occur. If there is no cause-and-effect relationship, there is no relevance to the issue at hand.

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    rrandom rider August 13, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    I don’t get it. The guy’s girlfriend, who witnessed the incident, says that the people in the car grabbed Kevin. Yet, the police report says that Kevin reached inside the car.

    Did the police have multiple witnesses that they deemed more reliable than the girlfriend? Is this a reporting error? These are rhetorical questions since there, obviously, is a lot of missing information.

    Regardless, it seems like Kevin exercised some very poor judgment while the people in the car committed at least one felony.

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    Jonathan L August 13, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    ‘She’ posted “and I have to say all at 1:15 am which is not a good time to be on a bike or in a car on the road”

    How bad is that comment?

    -Jonathan L

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    wsbob August 13, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    “It is even more bizarre to imagine a cyclist trying to reach the driver of a moving car from the passenger side as the police report claims.” Tim #7

    If he had very long arms… . Maybe he did and Detective Wheat neglected to mention that?

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    Joe D August 13, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    I agree with rrandom rider. The police didn’t witness the incident. I can tell you firsthand that what appears in a police report doesn’t necessarily bear much relation to fact and can be loaded with bias, error, sarcasm, and wacked physics.

    I’m trying to understand how a lack of brakes, legal or not, on this apparent Skuut/Like-a-Bike/Strider is relevant to what happened. Was the precipitating argument somehow about the cyclist’s braking? Would it also be relevant if, say, one of the car’s taillights was burned out, since it’s illegal to drive with a burned-out taillight? And how does yelling at a driver “cause” a driver to back up?

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    bicycletothesun August 13, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Two days ago I was riding just 2 blocks along NE 33rd and this mercedes purposely tail gated me and kept honking his horn. At which point he suddenly swerved around me and swung his car as if trying to knock me over. He came very close and then zoomed on very quickly. I immediately got into the middle of the street and hung the bird for him at which point he backed up his car (drove backwards very fast 300+ feet) and did a U turn to face me. He got out of the car and approached me — I got back on my bike and drew out my Ulock. He saw this and got back into the car. … crazy people out there!!! Be safe!

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    peejay August 13, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Bikes are allowed on all road with the exception of interstates within city limits. Bike boulevards are great and all, but sometimes you have to get to a destination on a busy street.

    That detail about no brakes or gears is exactly the same as “the rider was not wearing a helmet” — in other words, totally predictable, totally irrelevant. Jonathan, you should not have included it in your story, whether or not it was part of the police report.

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    bicycletothesun August 13, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    “Jonathan, you should not have included it in your story, whether or not it was part of the police report.”

    Why? It is good he did. It allows us to better understand how we need to change the “danger” perception in the public eye about brakes, fixed gear, helmets, etc. We need to challenge the notion that even if Joe Blow is riding a brakeless fixed gear bike, in all black, no lights, no helmet — he does not deserve to be run over by 2 tons of hot metal.

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    what kind of brakes? August 13, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    #20 agreed

    did the story talk about the car having disc or drum brakes?

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    buzz August 13, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Does anyone know if they still had Ankeny closed around 9th? I agree with Ian C that Ankeny is a much better route, but wondering if it was blocked off (construction) and that is why the cyclists were on Burnside. Still, Ash would be better than Burnside. I hate driving a car on that stretch of Burnside and would not imagine riding a bike there espcially late at night.

    I do hope the guy is going to be all right and I don’t understand the fixie argument. And remember people that are driving that late increases the chance he/she was drinking. Be safe!

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    bjorn August 13, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    #21 this isn’t an issue of a driver who didn’t see a cyclist or a cyclist who couldn’t stop. That is exactly why it is irrelevant. Here we have a driver who got yelled at because even with lanes available he came way too close, he stopped backed up to confront the cyclist and then somehow the person on the bike ended up half in half out of the car before being hurt badly as he was drug for some distance. Then the driver drove off without stopping…

    hmmm you’re right the main thing I need to know in order to understand this story is what kind of braking device the cyclist was using.

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    are August 14, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Ankney is a good route if you are going somewhere on Ankney or points south, and if Ankney suits your tastes. Burnside is better if you are going somewhere on, y’know, Burnside or points north or if you kinda prefer Burnside.

    A fixie is a bike. 1:15 a.m. is a time when it is legal for people to be out and around. No one questions why the motorist was out driving at that hour, or the make and model of the car.

    and Jonathan: although it has also been my experience that when I shout at a motorist he sometimes stops or backs up, I don’t think my shouting actually “causes” this to happen.

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    Lisa G August 14, 2009 at 12:26 am

    It’s a horrible intersection, however, bikes have as much right to be there as cars, regardless of the time of night, whether or not it was a fixie, etc., etc. You shouldn’t have to expect to be taking your life in your hands just to get from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible. I wonder if there were any other witnesses.

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    Todd Boulanger August 14, 2009 at 12:37 am

    …and the driver of the car and passengers where not wearing helmets…

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    Jonathan L August 14, 2009 at 12:42 am

    Are- thanks for picking those points up as well.

    All types of businesses in Portland are open after the sun goes down and these places employ people that need to get around one way or another. Would you expect everyone to go home at 5pm in the winter beacause it is dark outside?

    -Jonathan L

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    peejay August 14, 2009 at 5:53 am

    I knew a libertarian who used to say we should legalize drunk driving during certain times at night, so the drunks can get places. If anyone else in on the road at that time, too bad. I guess he never had to hold down two jobs, or had to take a family member to the hospital or airport, and I guess that mentality is fairly widespread.

    I agree with what are said.

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    nopoartist August 14, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Since the “facts” have not come out yet, ( both sides of this story can be bias) I tend to go with what usually works, which is the truth is somewhere in between.
    If Kevin was dumb enough to attack the driver of the car ( think how dangerous that could be to the passengers of the car that the driver was fighting with Kevin) then I can completely understand the anger of the driver and the passengers.
    I equally understand being pissed being tail gated by a car while biking, happens all the time up here in NOPO.
    Does this justify dragging Kevin “kicking and screaming”?
    Hell no, he could have been easily killed.
    If Kevin did this however, he physically assaulted the driver. He then put himself in a very hard position to later legally go after the driver who can now claim he and the passengers were “defending” themselves from this unwarranted attack.
    Would this be complete B.S., hell yes again, but look where Kevin put himself.
    It is hard to say what happen because there are so little facts currently and none of us were there, but we have all seen way to many instances where attitudes and aggression cause a stupid situation to become violent. I have seen bike riders in NOPO purposefully hit there back brakes and rear slide their tires to make a pedestrian jump who was in the bike lane. I have also had several groups of people yell, throw things and get in my way purposefully in the bike path.
    Honestly, you can take the person out of the car or off the bike but you can’t take the machismo out of the fool hardy.

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    Stig August 14, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Detective Wheat must have heard about the mad balance skills that fixed gear hipsters have- being able to balance on a bicycle and reach through a moving vehicle’s passenger side window all the way to grab the driver.

    How long were the cyclist’s arms?

    Did the victim motorist stop and report the incident? Was he on his way home from the bar? How long is his record?

    I wish this was caught on camera so the real facts could be known.

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    Roma August 14, 2009 at 7:26 am

    “and Jonathan: although it has also been my experience that when I shout at a motorist he sometimes stops or backs up, I don’t think my shouting actually “causes” this to happen.”

    Really? If you yell at someone, you’re intentionally escalating the situation. You can’t expect to provoke people into a confrontation and deny all accountability for what happens next.

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    Vance Longwell August 14, 2009 at 7:46 am

    There are three separate conclusions printed in the article. Who knows what happened at this point? I thought hit and run too when I commented on oregonlive last night. If you look again though, it appears the car was apprehended, the police just haven’t figured out if they’re a victim, or perpetrator. I think the biker gets exclusive mention based upon the fact they were injured, only.

    I support BikePortland covering this. I agree with Allison, and Jonathan that this is an extremely tough call, but the mainstream news sources must be countered, at least in spirit. Plus, BikePortland is a far more trustworthy source, even for those of us not with the program; and this creates a responsibility, IMO. One which Jonathan, and Elly for that matter, shoulder for us everyday, without complaint. C’mon, you’ve gotta know by now Jonathan probably hates this worse than any of us. About the time I’m defending J and Es choices, you can be certain they’re onto something.

    I’m glad to see those noticing a correlation between helmet, light, and clothing propaganda (Why didn’t we hear about every stitch of dark-colored clothing the cyclists were wearing?), and now the no-brakes, fixed gear propaganda. Hopefully there are some fixed gear riding helmet-advocates tasting meds.

    Since I agree speculation about this accident is futile, I’m way off topic responding to comments again. Hope that’s okay, ’cause there’s little else to comment on.

    With that, I wanted to say something about the brake argument. I really think it is disingenuous, and subsequently damning, to stretch the truth so far as to state fixed gear bikes have brakes.

    In my opinion it would be much better to take the position that, “Yeah, my bike doesn’t have any brakes, what of it?”, rather than trying to convince an ignorant main-stream that stopping pedaling is a brake.

    Skateboards don’t have breaks. Roller blades, push scooters, what else? Public safety is the issue, and by that reckoning, fixies ain’t hurting poop.

    I’ve said it a million times. Freedom also means the freedom to be irresponsible as much as anything. To a point, granted, but fixies haven’t reached that point, and are frickin’ fine out there as evidenced by the lack of disproportionate numbers.

    I really think it’s best to forget trying to maintain fixed-gears have brakes, and go with, “I can stop the thing on demand, what?”.

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    She August 14, 2009 at 7:55 am

    To all who did not like my comment about the accident happening at 1:15 am – It was a comment on the overall safety of the roads at that time, I was not saying that anyone car or bike did not have a “right” to be on the road. The time of the night is relevant because it is a time when more drivers/cyclists are more likely to be impaired by alcohol and/or tired causing over all judgement to be impaired.

    I agree with Allison – I hate these kind of stories and it is bike related and we would not want Jonathan to not share the story.

    Sad, sad, sad that humans can end up in this kind of altercation (I imagine in a short interaction).

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    kr August 14, 2009 at 7:55 am

    seriously guys?! the type of bike or wether it had gears and breaks is not relevant to the fact that he was grabbed and drug. that action had only one intention, to harm him. It shouldn’t matter that he yelled at them, drunk drivers drive like ass holes and you try controlling yourself when those you love are put in danger. A yell is nothing. So stop playing holier than thou and give kevin your best.

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    esther August 14, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Ugh. The oregonian comments are chilling-people saying he got what he deserved because ‘bicyclists block the road for drivers on purpose.’ I wonder if they feel assault on drivers in cars who are blocking the road on purpose in rush hour traffic would be justified.

    My boyfriend lives in Roseway and he and I take Sandy and Burnside quite frequently to and from his house. The infrastructure is not at all biker-friendly (narrow lanes, quite frequently with no shoulders) but its fastest and easiest for getting to the triangle between 82nd, i-84, and sandy, rather than zigzagging along ankeny, through laurelhurst, and trying to get over i-84 with poor choices (53rd ave is the only good one, and the light at glisan doesn’t trigger for bikes…)
    This section of burnside is 3-4 lanes, coming up a hill where you can’t see past the big intersection, and left 2 lanes split off to bear onto sandy while right (2?) Lanes continue on burnside. Having driven it, I always take it pretty slow since its hard to see oncoming traffic, the unlit concrete island on sandy, etc. So the cyclists MAY have been blocking both lanes of traffic back by union jacks, but the drivers still had quite a bit of space to pass before this intersection-plus this is a bit 5 way intersection with lights changing somewhat freuquently. So besides the obvious assault/battery, by backing up they were probably.endangering all other traffic-invisible to other traffic coming up burnside, confusing to people coming through on 12th and coming west down burnside through the intersection…

    As for the other stuff, the only excuse I can see for the driver to continue driving once he saw the cyclists hand or arm in the car would be surprise fear that they were about to be assaulted. But then why would they be taken by surprise if they backed up to him?

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    Jeremy Robillard August 14, 2009 at 8:14 am

    All of this very unfortunate, and my thought go out to Stevenson.

    However,

    Cyclist: Take the high road! Do not engage, and just pull off on a side street.

    Drivers (most cyclists also drive): You are behind the wheel of deadly weapon. Stop provoking and keep your distance.

    Everyone: Stop provoking and grow up.

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    wsbob August 14, 2009 at 9:15 am

    ‘She’, don’t feel bad warning about the dangers of being out in the wee hours of the morning. Of course, no person using the road then has a right to make the road any more dangerous to use than it is any other hours of the day.

    The simple fact is, that’s the time when some people apparently believe there is an unwritten rule that allows them to be Mr. Hyde…(jeckyl and hyde)…with a right to destroy everything the choose that’s in their way, and terrorize any living thing.

    It’s timely to remember some of the people introduced to bikeportland readers, because they were hit by such a person in the early, ‘comin up closin time’ hours of the morning…such as Eric Davidson riding home from a relaxing evening at the pub, then clobbered by drunk driving Jeremy Jordan while leaving the Safeway parking lot.

    Eric Davidson was seriously injured and may never fully recover.

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    Matt Picio August 14, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Roma (#35) – So, if a driver honks their horn, are they deliberately escalating the situation? Shouting is the cyclist’s equivalent to an automobile horn. The original poster is correct – shouting does not “cause” anything to happen. The driver chose to react to the shouting. I’m not saying that a response wasn’t warranted, I’m saying that the driver and the cyclist are independently responsible for their own actions – the action of another person doesn’t “cause” the action of another.

    She (#37) – It’s also a time where there is little traffic, and plenty of empty road for those who are out there to manuever without conflict. 1:30am to 4:30am is the safest time to ride busy streets – provided one stays alert for drunks and crazies. I’ll take 1am traffic on Burnside over 5pm traffic on Clinton (or Williams) any day.

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    felix August 14, 2009 at 9:28 am

    One Less Fixie.

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    Russell August 14, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Luckily I only ride geared bikes with both disk and rim brakes. I wear a helmet (with a helmet cam) and bright clothing and only ride during daylight hours (while still running 10w lights) on bicycle boulevards only. When someone risks personal injury to me with their car I smile and wave to them and wish them good speed and health.

    I come to a complete foot down stop at every stop sign and light and my steel-toed shoes and body armor and chaps protect me from the horrors of tipping over by accident.

    Thanks to this, I am quite confident that the police and the Oregonian will come to my aid if something gruesome ever were to happen to me. Please, follow my lead and protect yourselves!

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    Joe August 14, 2009 at 9:47 am

    wow 41 hits home!

    be safe all.
    ride on!

    Joe

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  • Blame it on the Fixie Kid | Max is NOW! August 14, 2009 at 9:56 am

    […] was so severe that the driver was forced to speed away with the cyclist still attached. See here ( BikePortland […]

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    Vance Longwell August 14, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Thank you Russel #44. Awesome.

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    dc August 14, 2009 at 10:19 am

    If you yell and talk smack to anybody on the road (cyclist or motorist), regaurdless if you are in the right be prepared for the fact that some people may react in ways you didn’t expect. sounds to me like two morons got to know each other a little better. Let’s start a fund to get this dude new sneakers. maybe the BTA can help out….. who cares…

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    kit August 14, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Road rage sucks. I’ve fallen victim to my own anger boiling up, and it does nothing good for the cyclist, ever. We’ve got so much more right to be pissed, but so much less privilege.

    It’s better to share the story of “that asshole” with your riding partner later that day than end up an image of carnage and have people talking about you on bike blogs. You can’t win this way. Eric is living (thank god) proof.

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    Kt August 14, 2009 at 10:24 am

    I agree with nopoartist, the truth is probably somewhere in between what the girlfriend has said and what the police report said.

    Until we see the police report, and until the cyclist is in a position to give his side and the driver is found to give his side, it’s all speculation.

    Was it smart to yell at the driver? Probably not.

    I had a driver pass me on a blind corner coming into a blind crest the other week. I shook my head and said, loudly (not shouting, merely stating with my voice slightly raised), “dumb idea”– that was enough to get the driver to slam on the brakes and back up. I rode slowly alongside of him and listened while he proceeded to tell me that he “has lived here all his life and knows these roads like the back of his hand”, and berate me for riding in the middle of the lane (on a 25mph road with speed humps, no sidewalk, no shoulder, and no bike lanes). I pointed out that I just wanted everyone to be safe, the road wasn’t wide enough for him to pass me safely and I was riding as fast as I could to get out of the way, and that I thought passing me coming into a blind crest was not safe– as if his knowledge of the roads gives him ESP about oncoming traffic he couldn’t see! I was polite, made no apologies for taking the lane, expressed my desire for safe streets, and the “confrontation” ended with me wishing him and his lady passenger a nice evening and turning off to take my usual route home.

    Was it stupid of me to do that? Yes, it was. Did I make him stop his car and back up? No. That was all his decision, to escalate the situation.

    Anyway. Anecdotes aside, I wish Kevin a speedy recovery and a swift resolution to the incident.

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    middle of the road guy August 14, 2009 at 10:36 am

    To all of the people stating that that the fact that he had no brakes or gears being irrelevant….

    Do you leap to stereotypes when certain types of vehicles are involved, such as an SUV?

    It’s the “typical people ride/drive the typical bike/vehicle”.

    Every fixie is ridden by a helmetless, light-less clown, and every SUV is driven by a gun-toting republican. Right?

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    Joe August 14, 2009 at 10:51 am

    lets come back to the story, someone got hurt.. regardless of the facts.

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    WOBG August 14, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Seems like a lot of clues here that this incident is not so much rider vs. driver as drunk vs. drunk. Just sayin’.

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  • […] is tracking a disturbing cycling-auto […]

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    Duncan Watson August 14, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    No matter what happened here it is a hit and run. More likely it is assault. Either way I would think poorly of Portland if I don’t see felony charges levied.

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    Matt Picio August 14, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Duncan (#54) – Right, because you can judge the health of an entire community by the actions of its District Attorney’s office.

    Ok, that’s deliberately heavy on the sarcasm – my point is that nearly all of us are guilty to a certain extent of generalizing and stereotyping – like post #50 pointed out. Before we start beating up on the police, the DA, fixie-riders, soccer moms and people who stereotype, let’s all recognize the facts:

    1. WE weren’t there.
    2. The only people who really know what happened are the people who were involved and those who directly witnessed it.
    3. We’re each responsible for our own actions.

    With that, a couple pieces of unsolicited advice:

    Be aware of your surroundings. If you don’t wear a mirror, get experienced at looking over your shoulder. Keep the headphones off. You’ll have a much easier time hearing approaching cars. Keep looking around, see potential threats before they become ACTUAL threats.

    Consider waving at PITA (Pain In The A$$) motorists rather than giving them the finger. You’re less likely to get intimidated/pummeled/grabbed and dragged, and you’ll likely piss them off just as much. If you *do* flip them off, or if they take offense at being waved at, you’ll likely have an escape route if you took advice #1.

    Most of these situations happen because both parties were either jerks, stupid, careless, or unlucky. Assuming one is not a jerk – exercise common sense, stay aware, and you’ve limited it to “unlucky”.

    Rubber side down, everyone!

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    Stig August 14, 2009 at 2:57 pm
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    Duncan Watson August 14, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Matt

    If you think a bad DA office doesn’t cause problems for a community then I wonder what you think the DA does?

    I love the false equivalence between a cyclist yelling and cursing and a hit and run or assualt. Obviously being a belligerent idiot carries a death penalty, with no trial either. And the belligerent idiot part is unverified and assumed. Classy.

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    Paul W August 14, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    /derail:
    Folks, it’s very relevant if a cyclist is killed that a helmet was not worn. About 3/4 dead cyclists did not wear a helmet. That’s statistically significant. Not the same as the weird bike description in this report. Helmets are for brains.
    /ontopic:
    Hope he recovers and the incident is fully investigated.

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    Joe Rowe August 14, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Are there any updates to the news?

    What do the “several” other cyclists say? Did they witness this? If I was a witness, I’d be talking to a lawyer and not harming my chances posting online or the news.

    The Oregonian is full of bias to bikes. Email their staff member in charge of bias:
    theresebottomly@news.oregonian.com

    It would not matter if the victim was wearing makeup, not should it matter how the guy was able to brake or slow down. The courts have ruled fixed gear bikes are brakes.

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    Barney August 14, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    I yell at cars all the time, especially in the summer when their windows are open. But hey, I’m from New Jersey (the state with the worst and most hostile drivers) so maybe it’s not everyone’s style out here.

    I think the issue is understanding your own vulnerability when the person you’re addressing is driving a car. You can let someone know they almost killed you and you didn’t like it without giving them the finger. Sure, there is the concern of escalation, but it’s important to me to let people know that though we are easy to push around, we are not silent.

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    Steve Bozz August 14, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Here’s what I’ve learned:

    1) Escalating a situation, whether it be car on car, bike on bike, ped on ped, by taunting, screaming, flipping the bird, etc. usually makes things worse. I say this after doing the above countless times. It’s a change I’ve been trying to make, albeit slowly.

    2) A reckless, aggressive driver is not dissimilar to a lunatic waving around a gun. We need to take this sort of activity VERY SERIOUSLY. If someone knew they could lose their driving privileges FOR LIFE for one act of violent, manacling behavior on the road, we’d all enjoy more peaceful, safer streets.

    I’ve called 911 because people have run me off the road while driving and biking, and nothing ever comes of it. I hate that our judicial system only talks about accountability when there is a death, not close calls or injuries. I’m sick and tired of the presumption that cyclists and peds take their lives into their own hands when they share the roads with cars. While we always need to ride safely, ultimately it is auto drivers who bare the responsibility of driving their potential-murder-weapons in a calm, careful manner.

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    Disastronaut August 14, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    “After a second interview with a 31-year-old bicyclist who was dragged nearly 150 feet after an altercation with a driver early Thursday, Portland police now say the driver might hold more responsibility than first suspected.”

    Story has been updated.

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    Disastronaut August 14, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    “Wheat reported Friday afternoon that “statements are now being made that indicate the driver or someone else in the vehicle may have grabbed the bicyclist and caused the incident.

    Still doesn’t change the fact that he was riding a fixed-gear and therefore responsible for anything and everything that happened to him.

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    jacque August 14, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I love you distronaut. And by the way, don’t forget that he was riding at 1:30 in the morning… AND in a GROUP!

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    encephalopath August 14, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    Wheat and the PPD are backpedaling. My guess is that we will eventually hear that the bicyclists have been telling the same story all along and Wheat got the story wrong initially.

    Oh… we went back and read the initial statements and they didn’t say the things we reported to the Oregonian.

    Much easier to say that the witnesses changed their statements.

    I demand a transcript…

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    JH August 15, 2009 at 12:49 am

    I hope he gets well soon

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    Stig2 August 15, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Sounds like Wheat measured the cyclist’s arms. Not 9 ft long after all. Driver was out of state- long gone. Damage from the original story has already been done.

    A truck driver attempted to intimidate me by swerving into the bike lane just ahead of me this week on SE Powell. The driver then slowed, looking for a reaction along with a passenger in the cab. I bit my tongue and kept the birdie in check. Live to bike another day. I should have got he license plate though.

    Need some bike/helmet mounted action-cams out there. I’ll certainly get one if I have another incident like the above.

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    buzz August 15, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    @Steve Bozz #61: Well said!

    Really, the first rule when dealing with anyone that is driving aggressively can be boiled down to three words: Do Not Engage!

    It does not matter if you are driving, walking or riding a bike. If someone is going to start tailgating, riding too close, honking the horn excessively, and/or yelling, he or she is really not thinking clearly and is hoping you do something so he or she can rationalize being more abusive. Was this driver singling out cyclists? We probably will never know. But, if the driver was looking to start something, chances are it may not have made any difference what mode of transportation the other was using.

    I understand that it can be difficult at times not to engage. Men are taught at a very young age that being aggressive is okay. Even more so if someone was being aggressive towards them. And, certainly some cyclists at times feel they are bullied by cars. But, just understand that responding to someone’s abusive behavior simply may encourage more abusive behaviors. I worked with men in anger management groups for three years and that is usually their M.O.

    And, Kevin, you did not deserve what happened to you. Get well, soon!

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    Disastronaut August 15, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    It is asking a lot to suggest someone who has endured a lifetime of abuse,(both physical and verbal), at the hands of drivers to simple just let it slide. I know that you are simply supposed to rise above the intimidation and threats of violence – to take the moral high-ground if you will – but sometimes you just get tired of the endless shit being heaped upon you.

    I’ve been the victim of numerous hit-and-runs that resulted in broken bones and extended hospital stays. I’ve been stuck in the head with big gulps, beer bottles, beer cans, containers of chew spit, cups full of piss and most recently, a craftsman 25′ retractable tape measure,(granted that one didn’t actually hit me, but it’s the thought that counts.)

    I’ve put up with it for far too long and I’m afraid that the next time something like this happens to me I’m not going to be able to restrain myself and something is going to happen that all parties will regret.

    But I love riding bikes, and I will not stop no matter how many times I’m ran off the road or ran over – to do so is to admit defeat and admit that I never belong in the road in the first place.

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    PoPo August 15, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    As usual, I appreciate Matt’s comment (#55). As well as numerous others, very thoughtful.

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    wsbob August 15, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    “…and most recently, a craftsman 25′ retractable tape measure,(granted that one didn’t actually hit me…” Disastronaut

    Hey…you must be getting good at ducking this stuff…as long as they’re thoughtful enough to throw tools, it’d be nice if they’d think to throw something swell like a compound power miter saw…

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    Duncan Watson August 16, 2009 at 10:08 am

    I absolutely hate how all this conversation is centered around how the cyclist could be at fault, could have been less annoying, could have avoided confrontation.

    How does non threatening behavior justify being dragged being dragged 150 ft behind a car?

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    filmer August 17, 2009 at 3:14 am

    I have been following this story since it first hit the net. At first, witnesses said that the bicyclist reached in the car. Then hours later, the girlfriend and the injured man said that he didnt reach in. But we, as public, are unaware of exactly how it all happened.

    If the cyclist reached in, he has no legal leg to stand on. If they car passenger grabbed the cyclist, he is in deep legal trouble.

    The article also doesnt mention if either participant had been drinking, the driver or the cyclist.

    #40- Leaving a pub on a bike on city streets. Not good to drink and drive, anything.

    I have been working on a film about bikes: ‘Bikes on the Road: Equal Rights, or Special Rights’ I take my cam with me everyday and have tons of footage of bike illegalities.

    My point is, most riders are law abiding, but the self ritious bike law breakers are who make drivers so mad.

    Thanks

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    wsbob August 17, 2009 at 10:09 am

    “#40- Leaving a pub on a bike on city streets. Not good to drink and drive, anything.” filmer

    I agree…it’s not good.

    Strangely though, past discussion of ‘biking while drunk’ here on bikeportland for example, usually bring out a number of comments defending that activity; Drinking while driving, everyone agrees is bad. Drinking while biking…some think that’s o.k., maybe I should put it…they seem to consider it comparatively o.k., because the vehicle only weighs 30 pounds. You probably get the twisted logic in that.

    Sometimes, riding the streets in the early hours of the morning might be great, because there’s fewer cars. Everyone doing so however, had better be well prepared to deal with the inevitable lame-brain reeling around with their vehicle on those relatively empty street. Staying mostly sober yourself helps to that end.

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    Liam August 17, 2009 at 11:23 am

    I would like to clarify some inaccuracies. My friend was the cab driver who is mentioned in the the second Oregonian article. He was passing by when he saw the car in question driving erratically and peeling out through a red light. When he saw what looked like some kind of accident or altercation he decided to double back. Keep in mind that he is a cab driver and sees a lot of people driving like idiots all the time. This particular driver was driving recklessly enough that my friend felt the need to double back.

    When he arrived back at the intersection he saw a bicycle lying in the middle of the road and a woman on her bike trying to chase after a car and screaming. He decided to follow the car which was traveling 40-50 mph up Sandy. As he caught up with the car a body fell from the car and my friend had to swerve out of the way to avoid running it over. At this point the driver of the car realized that my friend was following him and sped up to about 60 mph on Sandy. My friend was able to follow the driver until he turned on to I-84 and fled. All the while my friend was on the phone with the police giving a description of the car as best he could.

    After the car fled on I-84, my friend returned to the intersection where the police had arrived. He told me that the cyclist who was dragged looked pretty bad and both the dragged cyclist and his girlfriend were extremely upset if not in a state of shock. My friend then recounted what he saw to the police and offered to be a witness.

    My friend’s account backs up much of what the cyclist and his girlfriend told the police. Yet neither the Oregonian nor the Portland Police bothered to interview him, the only witness aside from those directly involved, before releasing their statements or publishing their articles. In fact, after reading the Oregonian article my friend contacted both The Oregonian and the Portland Police to inform them that they had misrepresented what happened.

    It is astonishing that the Portland Police and The Oregonian released statements and published articles with such shoddy investigation. It is also disheartening that the default reaction by both institutions was that somehow the cyclist was at fault.

    Whether or not the cyclist reached into the car or the driver grabbed the cyclist, a driver dragged another human being at 40-50 mph from a car and then dropped him in front of another car that had to swerve in order to avoid running him over and likely killing him. Then that same driver, realizing that he was being followed sped away from the scene and never returned, or came forward, or showed any concern for the life of the person that was dragging from the side of his car.

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    Duncan Watson August 17, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Who cares if drivers are mad? Drivers violate a ton of laws themselves and are certainly not innocents. The point is a man was dragged 150 ft behind a car and everyone is attacking the victim to avoid premature judgment against the driver.

    Insanity.

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  • […] Kevin was in an altercation with a bunch of FUCKING ASSHOLES last week while riding with his lady. I […]

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    dabby August 17, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Filmer,

    I hope you get permission from every person involved in such illegalities.

    Most cyclists I know will not look kindly on being involved in any expose……

    Could get ugly…

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    Joe Rowe August 17, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    As Liam and the victim stated,

    If ever there was a time to contact the Oregonian for their bias, it is now.

    FYI. It was the victim, not the Oregonian, who got the police to ramp up their attention and correct their errors.

    theresebottomly@news.oregonian.com

    These are cops who ignore judges, and write up reports that mention stereotypes like “no brakes” even when Judges say that fixed gear bikes qualify as having brakes.

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    Stig2 August 18, 2009 at 5:09 am

    Liam’s post @ 75 is worth an updated article. Jonathan, it would be great if you could interview the independent witness. Show the O what real journalism is. Shame on the O and PoPo if it’s true that they never gave any or stronger consideration to the cab driver’s account.

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    wsbob August 18, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Liam #75….thanks for taking the time to post that account of the incident. Pass thanks on to your friend for his efforts to observe and gather info that might help to hold the driver and passengers of the car accountable for what they did that was wrong.

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    Matt Picio August 20, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Duncan (#57) – I never said it doesn’t cause problems, I said that the DA’s office is not representative of the community as a whole.

    False equivalence? Where? Cyclists have no horn – yelling is the equivalent, it’s the only way to make a noise loud enough to alert a motorist, and then only if their windows are down, or the cyclist is REALLY loud. Regardless of what the cyclist says or how they say it, the motorist is never justified in escalating it to physical behavior. The cylist doesn’t CAUSE the motorist to strike/drag him. In both cases, the individuals involved CHOSE to do the actions they did. Actions may be influenced by other actions, but they’re not caused by them. “Cause” is when something is the direct result of something else. If a car’s steering linkage breaks, that causes it to strike something, or run off the road (assuming the driver doesn’t have time to brake) – it’s a direct result.

    If you think I’m blaming the cyclist in this case, you haven’t read my posts in the spirit in which they are intended.

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  • […] Portland, OR: Cyclist Dragged by Driver and Passenger, in Serious Condition (BikePortland) […]

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    Hillson September 3, 2009 at 10:12 am

    So, were the police planning on releasing a description of the vehicle in 2009, or 2010?

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