BikePortland.org

Cemetery will form committee to address bike access issue


“We are formulating a strong core of people who are in leadership positions in the bicycle community… to discuss how our concerns can be mitigated without simply closing the cemetery to bicycle traffic.”
— David Noble, Executive Director of River View Cemetery

David Noble, the executive director of River View Cemetery in Southwest Portland, has planned a meeting with representatives from the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance next week. The meeting will revolve around how to manage bicycle traffic through cemetery grounds.

The cemetery — which is on private property that provides a popular alternate route for bike traffic — is concerned with unsafe riding and disrespectful behavior by some riders. The issue has been simmering for years, but came to a head last week after we reported on the installation of three sets of new speed bumps.

New speed bumps in River View cemetery
have slowed down traffic, but
they’ve also caused serious injuries.
(Photo: Katelyn Hale)

The bumps worked. But some people found them to be way too harsh. Since running the story, we’ve heard of several more very serious crashes caused by the sharp, steep bumps that have been installed without accompanying signage or adequate warning. One reader shared the story of well-known local riding veteran of 50 years, Del Scharffenberg, who broke his collarbone and two bones in his shoulder blade after hitting the bumps last week.

Contacted via email, David Noble said our story, along with subsequent coverage on KATU-TV, has resulted in “dozens” of emails, phone calls and visits to his office (along with nearly 300 comments online).

Noble says those inquiries have been “overwhelmingly supportive of River View’s attempts to slow down downhill bicycle traffic, while still preserving the privilege for bicycles to pass through the cemetery.” He has also talked with Katelyn Hale (the person who’s injuries we featured in our story) and other riders who’ve had “negative encounters” with the speed bumps.

Del Scharffenberg — who has logged
over 280,000 miles in the saddle —
broke three bones in a crash on the
speed bumps.
(Photo: Nate Armbrust)

As a result, Noble is organizing a committee to look into the issue:

“We are formulating a strong core of people who are in leadership positions in the bicycle community who are willing to participate on a committee that would meet with myself and other representatives from River View to discuss how our concerns can be mitigated without simply closing the cemetery to bicycle traffic.”

Michelle Poyourow, an advocate with the BTA, has discussed the issue with Noble and plans to meet with him (and PBOT’s bike coordinator Roger Geller) next week. Asked about the issue, Poyourow replied,

“My concern is not limited to any danger posed by the bumps, though I am quite concerned about that, but about the long-term sustainability of this very valuable bike route. If the cemetery staff, visitors and board members are at the end of their ropes with the volume of bike traffic passing through their property, I’d like to see if the City or the BTA can help make it manageable for them (and safe for people biking or walking through) so that it can continue being open long into the future.”

We’ll keep you posted on any further developments.

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