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New speed bumps on popular cemetery route: Necessarily dangerous?

Posted by on September 23rd, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Katelyn Hale learned about the
new speed bumps the hard way.
(Photo courtesy K. Hale)

David Noble, executive director of the non-profit Riverview Cemetery, didn’t want to do it, but he felt he had no other choice.

About one week ago, Noble instructed his groundskeepers to install three sets of speed bumps on the property. The reason? He says people on bicycles have been riding too fast and without consideration for cemetery visitors. The bumps were a last-ditch effort to prevent a serious collision and to ingrain into people on bikes that they need to slow down.

And it’s far from a new problem. Back in April of 2006 we reported that — after a near miss between a man on a bike and one of the cemetery’s maintenance workers — Noble considered banning bikes from the ground completely.

But for many people who ride through the cemetery (it’s private land, but the roads are open to bicycle traffic to avoid the nasty conditions on adjacent Taylor’s Ferry Road), the new bumps are more than just a speed deterrent, they’re downright dangerous.

Sunglasses shown for size context.

We began getting emails about the new speed bumps almost the same day they were installed. According to sources, when they first went in, they were not painted yellow and had no warning stripes leading up to them. Riders complained that they were “unfriendly”, very sharp bumps and that they appeared without any warning.

Katelyn Hale learned about the new speed bumps the hard way.

Story continues below

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Hale has been biking through Riverview Cemetery for the past three years as a student and now staff member at Lewis & Clark College (located on the hill above the grounds). She knows the roads well and has never had a problem — until last Thursday. She wrote us via email about her experience:

“I was surprised when there was this huge speedlump just within the lower gates! It was unpainted and gave me a jolt; I didn’t see it, nor was I expecting to see it. Thursday evening, coming home after dark, I almost broke a spoke when I ran into another one — I saw it in my headlight, but I didn’t have time to slow down enough to go over it safely.”

By Friday, reported Hale, crews had painted the bumps yellow and put down small stripes leading up to the bump. Then on Monday, she took a different route and crashed into a third speed bump she didn’t even see.

This time, Hale was thrown from her bike and sustained major road rash and a cracked helmet. After the fall, passersby told her that they’d seen another woman crash on the bumps and brake her collarbone that same morning.

“We take our duty to the community very seriously, but there’s a point when it gets too out of hand and you have to do something.”
— David Noble, Executive Director of Riverview Cemetery

Hale says she’s grateful that the cemetery remains open to bike traffic as an alternative to the “gnarly” Taylor’s Ferry Road, but she thinks the bumps are so “narrow and squarish that you’d have to slow down to 2 mph to go over them safely”. Given that, Hale feels the bumps are “very obviously targeted toward bicyclists”.

David Noble says that’s exactly the case.

Noble authorized construction of the speed bumps, and, during a phone interview yesterday, said that they were “carefully discussed and thought out.” When I asked why he installed them, he said it was in response to an alarming upward increase in the amount of rude and dangerous bike riding.

“Frankly, we don’t like them [the speed bumps], our maintenance people don’t like them… but it was like, if we don’t do something to slow these people down, someone’s going to get killed.”

Noble, a frequent bike rider himself, said he’s keenly aware of how important this safe bike route is for many people, but he seemed like a man at wit’s end who simply felt his hand was forced into taking this step.

“In any case, putting in dangerous and poorly-marked speedbumps is not the best way to go about improving the situation.”
— Katelyn Hale, rides her bike through the cemetery

It was hard to listen as Noble detailed many of the complaints and incidents of rude bike riding he’s heard about: people speeding right through a funeral procession; flying by (and flipping of and cursing at) an old woman on her way to lay flowers on a grave; and the worst thing — a common shortcut taken through a hedge near the top of the property, which happens to go right over the top of baby gravesites.

Noble says he suspects it’s the classic situation where a small minority of riders are causing most of the problems. “Most people that come through are courteous and respectful, they understand it’s a privilege — not a right — to come through our property, but I have negative encounters almost daily… I wish it was an isolated incident.”

The area Noble worries most about is near the main parking lot. “Bikes don’t make much noise and they’re harder to see than cars… and someone who is grief-stricken might not be paying as much attention to the road.”

Noble says if he had a larger budget, he’d like to add bike lanes and a bit of signage to guide bike riders through the property. He’d also be interested in organizing a summit with local bike advocates. “Maybe we can come up with some ways to solve this.”

Katelyn Hale, the young woman whose fresh scabs serve as a reminder of the bumps, says she’s equally appalled at some riders’ rude behavior, but she just wants more of an open dialogue between cemetery staff and people who ride through it. “In any case, putting in dangerous and poorly-marked speedbumps is not the best way to go about improving the situation.”

Red squares mark location of bumps.
(Graphic: Matthew West)

When I shared concerns about the design of the bumps from people who had crashed, Noble said he’d be willing to address them and that as a bicyclist himself, “could appreciate that complaint.” On the other hand, he added, “If they’re too smoothed out, it doesn’t slow anyone down.”

Noble is aware of at least two of the crashes, both of which he said the people involved have admitted they were going too fast.

The bumps have been installed in three places; in the middle of the property, directly above the road that goes by the maintenance shop, right above the main parking lot by the cemetery offices and mausoleum, and at the bottom of the grounds near the entrance and Highway 43.

Riverview is a non-profit, and Noble points out that a more typical, corporate cemetery would have already banned bicycling altogether.

“We take our duty to the community very seriously, but there’s a point when it gets too out of hand and you have to do something. As much as we’d hate to do it, if these bumps don’t solve the problem, people will find themselves out on the street. That’s not a threat, it’s a reality. Our hands would be forced.”


Do you ride through Riverview Cemetery? If so, what do you think of the speed bumps and this issue in general?

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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jeff
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jeff

bunny hop

Nick V
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Nick V

Several years ago I rode through Riverview after climbing Terwiliger in the rain. The pavement was slick and, admittedly, no one was around so I was going pretty fast. My bike skidded out from underneath me on a tight turn and I landed flat on my back. Lesson learned that day, but yeah those speed bumps look unnecessarily large.

Nick V
Guest
Nick V

I should add that the rudeness of the cyclists that Noble describes should not be tolerated, especially at a cemetery.

Bahueh
Guest
Bahueh

I saw and rode over those a couple days ago…guess what? I slowed down.

many cyclists have shown over and over again they cannot ride at a reasonable speed when necessary and with a general concern for others…I don’t blame Noble at all. didn’t some other woman fly off into the trees a few years back and lay there waiting for help in the dark for some time before it arrived? That, along with Nick’s story above..and guess what happens?

Self-policing the “cycling community” doesn’t work…so you get stuff like this.

BTW, how does one “almost break a spoke”?

amos
Guest

If the bumps are necessary that I think some signs a few hundred feet down the road warning of them are just as important.

JV
Guest
JV

I believe very strongly in protecting the rights and safety of cyclists, but I am right on Mr. Noble’s side. It is his property. *Anyone* visiting it should keep that in mind. Moreover, the fact that this is a serene cemetery is context that cannot be overlooked. We should all be purveyors of cycling diplomacy for at least as long as it takes to traverse those grounds, if not always.

Flipping off mourners? That’s world-class d-bag behavior that ruins it for all. The owner is well within his rights; it’s awfully nice of him to even discuss a possible alternative.

I am very sorry that folks have crashed. That’s a lose-lose.

Tom
Guest
Tom

This is an issue that has gone on for many years. Too fast on the descent leads to crashes. I now just go slow down through the cemetery or use Taylor’s Ferry. The climb though is always slow for me, and a real pleasure. Thank you to Riverview for continuing to allow bicycles on your property.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

I understand Noble’s frustration. He has been very understanding and open about continuing to allow cyclists through the property given that there are no reasonable alternatives. This is very much a case of a few bad apples spoiling everyone’s fun. I’m very sad that Kate had to find out about this the hard way. There should be a better dialogue, and maybe city money contributed (since the city is creating the situation where there are no reasonable alternatives).
Thanks for such balanced reporting Jonathan. This is a very respectfully written article.

Shane
Guest
Shane

I’m a huge cyclist – so I say this with a lot of pause… I don’t, and never have, and probably never will – ride through the cemetery.

But it sounds like that inevitable 10% of the shitballs out there are the cause of this. Unfortunately, Mr. Noble was clearly right to take steps. However, his steps may have been done hastily, and without proper forethought and consideration for the consequences (a few days of unpainted, suddenly sprouted speed bumps …).

I live on Skyline Blvd. Let me mention again – I’m a *huge* cyclist myself. …and I have developed a negative association with cyclists. That 10% – the rude, loud, obnoxious ones; the ones that stop and piss on my hedges, worse, the ones that shit behind my mailbox – they really irk me and yet, I know, in my heart – I’m a cyclist too.

It’s an unfortunate and sad state that we find our world in – with that 10% driving all of the laws, rules, restrictions, and lawyers.

You can and should never be complacent on a bicycle. Especially if you’re prone to riding fast. You should always expect a pot hole, a pedestrian, a dog, or an unexpected speed bump. Ride accordingly.

I’m sorry people have crashed on those speed bumps – but they (almost) clearly were not riding within their ability to control their bikes, within the confines of their lighting systems, or within the confines of the terrain or obstacles that might be presented to them.

Ride safely, don’t shit on my mailbox, and don’t piss on my hedges! I’ll see you all out there on the road.

Jerry
Guest
Jerry

It was a few years ago, but I was bombing down that hill toward the cemetery workers garage and when I came around that blind corner one of the workers was driving up the hill in a little ATV. I almost smacked the front side of that thing going pretty fast. Since that day I have always taken it easy through there. Not just that section but the whole way down.

The way I look at it, now, is that is their work space. Having folks ride their bikes at a high rate of speed through their work space is kinda rude. They’re nice enough to let us ride through there… the least we can do is say thanks by riding through sensibly.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

It’s Great that David Noble and Riverview Cemetery is keeping this route open to cyclists. They are well within their rights to close it and their insurer is likely screaming for them to ban through cycling.

Needed warning sign at top of cemetery:
“Cyclists: Speed bumps ahead”

also
“WARNING Cyclists: greiving cemetery patrons likely won’t see you. SLOW DOWN!”

Perhaps a funny/serious sign “Cyclists: slow down to leave safely or speed up to stay forever.”

“Slow down or die” sounds too much like a threat.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Bravo Mr Noble.

If you are not in control of your vehicle you are gonna crash.

thefuture
Guest
thefuture

I ride (usually up) through the cemetary fairly often using it to connect from the sellwood bridge to eventually council crest. I am often surprised that bikes are allowed there and its one of the best parts of the ride since its car free, quiet, and a really pretty place.

We gotta do whatever we can to respect his property, those who come to it, and who maintain it or we’ll be (rightfully so) not allowed to use it. If speed bumps help so be it.

joebob
Guest
joebob

I see people riding through the grass at the top of the cemetery all the time. In fact, it appears to be rare that cyclists walk their bikes once the gate is closed. I always carry mine so that no harm will be done to the grass. Unfortunately, I think that the issue of not respecting the property goes beyond more than just a few bad apples. I think the property owner has been very generous thus far.

thefuture
Guest
thefuture

on the same pole as the signs he should add a donation box for appreciative cyclists

Nick V
Guest
Nick V

#11 is spot on. Great idea.

Paul S
Guest

I want to echo other sentiments here: it’s sad that we’ve reached this point. I appreciate the opportunity to cut long around Taylor’s Fy, which is a nightmare to ride on.

I use this route a couple of times a week, always at times when I need more chill than thrill. So when I encountered the (unpainted, unmarked) bumps last week they were merely jarring, not dangerous. I’m surprised there weren’t more spills before they were painted.

FWIW I get buzzed by plenty of motorized yahoos in the cemetery

Porteur
Guest
Porteur

Signs would be nice – probably for cars as well. That being said, I agree with all that was stated above. We are visitors in the cemetary and should show some respect to the property, the staff and the other visitors.

“”Cyclists: slow down to leave safely or speed up to stay forever.”” – Classic. Made me chuckle!

Question – if the gate is closed at the top, is there an alternate way out that doesn’t require riding over grave sites?

Gabriel
Guest

I ride through the riverview most workdays then take Taylors Fairy on the way home when I can keep up with the 40mph traffic.

Taylors Fairy has no shoulders (let alone bike lanes). The few times that I have taken it uphill, I was severly harassed by the rush-hour cars. So, the riverview is really the only option and I am glad to see that it will remain open to cyclists.

That said, these are some really viscous speed bumps. I am not surprised that they have caused injury.

Cranky McSlik
Guest
Cranky McSlik

First, I wholly support Mr. Noble and am saddened that my fellow cyclists abuse a sacred site such as this for personal gain.Second, this is a non-issue because it’s PRIVATE PROPERTY! Doe’s that mean anything anymore you entitled little shits?This non-profit owes you exactly half of squat. How dare you complain that you’re being inconvenienced by having to slow down IN A CEMETARY!! My god, how selfish have cyclists become that they could question the difficult decision Mr. Noble had to make to preserve the safety of his PAYING customers? A CEMETARY!!!WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU???? Slow the FUCK down stupid.

cyclist
Guest
cyclist

I want to highlight something Katelyn said:

“I saw it in my headlight, but I didn’t have time to slow down enough to go over it safely.”

If you see something in your headlight but don’t have enough time to slow down before you hit it, that means you’re going too fast. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way a long time ago, of course when I learned that lesson I blamed myself for biking out of control. Perhaps after some self-reflection Katelyn will take some ownership for her almost broken spoke.

Mama
Guest
Mama

I, too, spoke with Riverview staff. They were respectful and courteous, but as business and private property owners, deeply concerned about their liabiility. The sign ideas are great; should have been done prior to the installation of said “curbs”. Those pictures of the injuries tell it all. Sorry you hurt yourself, honey.

joebob
Guest
joebob

If the gate at the top is locked, you can carry your bike appx 20 yards across the grass to exit the property. You certainly do not need to ride over grave stones. Yes, people really do ride over the grave stones. WTF people?

This does raise the question as to whether or not the property owner is ok with bicyclists walking across the grass.

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

I agree, nice to see that even though behavior of a few cro-mags has created an intolerable situation, options have been explored other than closure.

But cursing and gesturing at mourners? Who? When? I find that hard to believe. (& kids don’t count)

Machu Picchu
Guest
Machu Picchu

On public property, these poorly-engineered bumps would be a liability leading to lawsuits and the re-engineering of the bumps.

On private property, they are a liability that will eventually lead to a lawsuit, which will lead to the banning of bicycles on that private property. Someone needs to go a step farther to make sure there is adequate warning and (ideally) a better bump, or this will be the beginning of the end of bikes in Riverview.

Oh Y Not
Guest
Oh Y Not

Uh, yo, Cranky…I think the point of the article is to educate fellow cyclists to slow down and be careful. You are hilarious…

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

Thanks for letting us use your cemetery, Mr. Noble. The privilege is much appreciated (by 99% of us, anyway.)

Velocentric
Guest
Velocentric

If that’s their mind set why didn’t they just string wire across the path…oh too obvious I suppose.

If cyclists were that bad, just ban them from the property, don’t try to kill them!

D. Ranew
Guest
D. Ranew

I use this route occasionally. It’s always peaceful and without traffic. Rude cyclists are an embarrassment. A few speedbumps is okay with me.

f5
Guest
f5

I think in general, most cyclists aren’t going to have a problem with them. Descending those roads requires all your focus — buckeyes, sprinkler puddles, potholes, etc. It’s really unfortunate Katelyn was hurt, also just as unfortunate that she apparently wasn’t able to really change her riding behavior after the first two incidences in order to avoid the third.

It is private property and I for one am grateful they let us use it. I hope they aren’t put off by the focus being put on the victimization of those injured.

erica
Guest
erica

I’m with f5. Between the tree debris and the other cyclists, it’s a pretty nerve-wracking, albeit beautiful, ride. This hill is an integral part of my daily commute, and I’ll make whatever compromise needed to keep the route open. Use of the cemetery is NOT a privilege, as much as we’d like it to be.

The temptation to bomb this hill is great, and everyone has a different definition of riding responsibly. Still, let’s don’t gun down widows or ride over graves.

sam
Guest
sam

People are riding through funeral processions and over baby graves? There’s not a speed bump big and square enough for those people.

I don’t care if you’re riding, walking, driving or crawling, you stop and wait quietly when a funeral procession passes. Until it’s past. And when you’re the one sitting in the black car leading the procession, you’ll notice that and it will matter. What is wrong with people?

andrew
Guest
andrew

Crashing because you rode over speed bumps means you need to practice riding a bike more. Pretty plain and simple.

Bahueh
Guest
Bahueh

I’m actually hoping Noble puts in a few more…

Allan
Guest
Allan

@21: some headlights are pretty weak, merely for being seen not for seeing

Nick V
Guest
Nick V

Regarding signage, if speed bumps are mentioned on the sign, cyclists will just speed up again once they’ve passed the bumps. Signs simply warning them to slow down should do the trick.

Dave S
Guest
Dave S

I ride the cemetery almost every day. While the speed bumps are an inconvenience, it is hard to blame Mr. Noble for putting them in, given the actions of the few. The other issue is the exit/entrance at the top. Lately the gate has been open later into the day, so no one takes the shortcuts. It would be nice to have that continue, but we have no right, really, to have a say in this matter. The donation box is a great idea. Cyclists are lucky to have this route and being barred from the route would be a great loss.

steve
Guest
steve

Allan #35,

Yes, they are. As such, they are insufficient and unsafe for riding in low ambient light conditions. Falling because of too dim a light would still make falling the riders fault.

Did you have a point?

Dixon
Guest
Dixon

Sorry for those injured. A warning sign would have been nice but I support what Mr Noble felt he had to do. We should all be thankful the access to his property still exists.

If you have a moment head over to the site and email him with your appreciation and support. Hopefully he has found there is an outlet for concerns on this site before he feels other actions have to be taken.

Thanks Jonathon.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Nick V #36:
People will accelerate after a speed bump whether they have advanced warning or not. Car or bike.
The purpose of any road sign is Fore knowledge. That way users that go through this route know in advance that a hazard exists.
Speed bumps only slow our speed if we know they exist BEFORE we get to the speed bump; if speed of users is too great between them them more need to be added.
All that being said, the only thing I would have changed about what David Noble did was to have put up a public notice about a month or two in advance, when there was still internal debate about how to handle the situation, stating that without more polite and circumspect behavior from cyclists that options were being considered to mitigate hazards caused by said cyclists. Then show that closing the route and speed bumps were both options up for consideration.
David Noble does not want to close this route to cyclists and we can only hope he is able to maintain that option. With our help.

Porteur #18
I’ve always been partial to the Burma-Shave style of subliminal advertisement. These newer knock offs put too much on each sign. 2 or 3 words per sign and the message crawls right in to your subconcious.
If only I could come up with a message that was funny but respecful of the setting all the while giving the viewer the unshakeable fear that someone is about to walk from some blind angle directly in front of me.

dave
Guest
dave

I hate to say it, but I agree with several previous commenters here – namely, if you hurt yourself *that* badly going over a speedbump, then, you know, you’re probably cycling a bit too fast.

That said, some advance signage of the speedbumps wouldn’t go amiss. It’s what they do on city streets when speedbumps are present.

common sense
Guest
common sense

Please, please, please people!!! I think that those of you suggesting signs of warning are missing the point. This is a cemetery, a private property, non-profit cemetery at that, and they do not exist merely to serve the biking community – period. The speed bumps were obviously a last-ditch attempt to have some control over a seemingly losing battle with the biking community. Ride with some common sense and courtesy realizing that this is a CEMETERY – sacred burial grounds, and a place for people to mourn and to reflect, not dodge bicyclists or put up with unconscionable behavior!

sing it sister!
Guest
sing it sister!

Those speedbumps are pretty hefty; have any of you even rolled over one yet?! I feel like they’re as if they’re a speeding ticket for a previously unannounced speed limit.
I know two others who have crashed from them; one of which broke her collarbone and the other flew into a trash can (comical, but ouch)!
As it’s damn straight that it’s a privilege to roll down that beautiful cemetery, a crucial fact is that the people who are crashing *didn’t know* about the bumps beforehand. I’m sure if one knew that there was a killer bump on the way down, they’d slow down for sure!

BigMarty
Guest
BigMarty

This is going to sound crass but how many speed bumps will it take Ms. Hale to learn her lesson? The first speed bump she got a jolt from, because she didn’t see it. The second one she almost broke a spoke on, because she couldn’t slow down in time. The third one she wrecked on? These all happened at different times, so she had plenty of time to reflect on the idea that MAYBE SHE SHOULD SLOW THE HECK DOWN!

John Eric Lutz
Guest
John Eric Lutz

I have been riding down the cemetery at about 6:15 am for several years now. I hit the speed bump just above the maintenance building the morning after it was installed. I never saw it and almost crashed at about 20+ mph. It was unmarked and unpainted. I told the cemetery folks THEY were lucky I did not crash and burn. As a surgeon I need both hands and arms to make a living. If I had fractured anything I would have sued-BIG TIME. Putting those things in without proper warning was flat out rude and dangerous as well as negligent!
John

Nat
Guest
Nat

Just want to add my thanks to the cemetery for allowing cyclists to ride through. I’ve absolutely enjoyed every trip through to get up over the hill and without adding miles there’s no safe alternative for many trips.

Joe
Guest
Joe

I think I saw the guy that cursed at mourners, the other day when riding on woodstock. A bus was stopped ahead, so he road up on the sidewalk and almost smacked into someone exiting the bus. Some people are beyond clueless.

Seager
Guest
Seager

You guys are missing the point. She hit them and almost wrecked because they were new and unpainted. If someone put a new hazard on a route I’d been biking for three years there is a good chance I’d be taken out by it too.

ben
Guest
ben

I think cyclists should have a calming party to warn cyclist, abuse and loose it.

If I was the property owner I would ban cycling in the cemetery. The ban would go into effect for 6 mo. Everyone then can ride on the road. Then in six months if things don’t change ban them for a year.

felix
Guest

do it better