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River View Cemetery board rules on bike access

Posted by on November 19th, 2009 at 2:46 pm

An issue that has been simmering since April 2006 has finally reached some resolution. The River View Cemetery Association Board of Trustees has met several times in the last few weeks to address the issue of bicycle traffic going through their property. The issue reached a boiling point in September when the cemetery installed a series of speed bumps that many felt were draconian and unduly severe (they caused several injuries).

After forming a committee to look into the issue further and inviting a representative from the BTA from PBOT out to look at the roads, the non-profit’s Executive Director David Noble has announced, “for the time being, no restriction on bicycling has been enacted.”

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However, Noble added that safety for their visitors and employees and liability exposure remain their top concerns and the trustees will take up the issue again several months from now. While bicycles are allowed to continue to use the roads, Noble says the cemetery will enact the following measures before re-considering bike access into the future:

  • as soon as practically possible, post signs at the 4 entrances and throughout the cemetery to advise autos and bicyclists of River View’s long-standing, internal speed limit of 15 MPH,
  • retain a traffic safety consultant for input regarding the design of the existing speed control devices; as well as recommendations regarding the need for additional such devices and/or the need to change or enhance signage or road stripping in connection with these devices,
  • consult with a representative from our insurance carrier to determine how they view the “non-cemetery” usage of bicycle commuting – specifically, whether our liability coverage or rate of premium would be impacted were we to face any damage claims by either an injured bicyclist, or a vehicle owner or pedestrian who might be struck by a bicyclist,
  • continue to dialogue with BTA, PBOT other interested parties in the bicycle community regarding ways to create the safest possible environment for all parties.
  • Noble says the trustees biggest concern is people riding through the cemetery outside of their posted hours of operation (8:00 am to dusk). When the gates are locked, people on bicycles have been going around the gates, over grass and grave sites to get onto the road. Michelle Poyourow from the BTA told the Portland Tribune that “It’s happening enough where you can see wear in the grass where they’ve been going through.”

    Noble’s hunch is that the trustees will vote in favor of continued bike access, but that “some curtailment of after hours riding will be put into place.”

    Access for bicycles in River View Cemetery is a privilege and we’re lucky Mr. Noble and his colleagues have allowed it to continue. Let’s do everything we can to be respectful of the property in order to maintain this valuable resource.

    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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    Nick V
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    Nick V

    Sounds more than fair to me, even though “dusk” is around 5:00 this time of year. Mr. Noble definitely deserves our thanks!

    wsbob
    Guest
    wsbob

    The four points above suggest that the Riverview Board of Trustees has at last received some sound advice, if after the fact. Live and learn. If it had posted signs and retained a traffic safety consultant before installing the speed bumps, much grief and frustration could have been avoided.

    I don’t fault them for thinking of limiting passage through the cemetery to 8am to dusk, or daylight hours. Unless cemetery lighting along roads there is very good, riding after dark on them seems as though it could be very dangerous, even if people’s bikes have good lighting.

    Nick
    Guest
    Nick

    While it is awesome that they are reaching out to the bike community, the issue remains that a bike is simply an object, and there is no requirement for a rider to be part of any commmunity. They can’t reasonably expect random people to stop riding around the gate simply out of respect — there are too many disrespectful people out there.

    AaronF
    Guest
    AaronF

    Well, if you can’t reasonably expect people to respect gravesites… I think you have the bar pretty darn low!

    That this is a problem at all is pretty disappointing/disgusting to me.

    I’m surprised they are still allowing bicycles at all. I think this whole situation might illuminate why a cemetary makes for a poor commuting route.

    Gabriel McGovern
    Guest

    I sincerely hope that cemetery will continue to allow riding outside of the 8am to “dusk” times.

    This is the only safe route between SE and two major college campuses (Luis and Clark & PCC Sylvania). I work at the latter and my daily commute starts before 8 and ends well after dark. And before anyone assumes different – you can easily go around the closed gates without crossing any graves.

    This is a beautiful route that is enjoyed by hundreds of cyclists. I would hate to see it ruined by a few bad eggs.

    Rico
    Guest
    Rico

    Who wants to ride through a graveyard after dusk? Hasn’t anyone seen Buffy?

    Bob_M
    Guest
    Bob_M

    Yes Riverview and Mr. Noble are to be thanked. PBOT and ODOT deserve a harsh wag of the finger that cycle commuters must resort to imposing on the generosity of private property owners to have a safe route south. To my knowledge no efforts are being made to facilitate the development of a safe route from Portland to Lake Oswego and down to West Linn. There sure as heck isn’t one now

    Raleigh
    Guest
    Raleigh

    Speaking of a route to West Linn/LO, why haven’t we constructed a path that follows the rail line to LO? It’s mostly flat, scenic and follows the river. Riding through a private cemetery is obviously less than ideal for all concerned and if access is ever denied to cyclists people who live in LO/West Linn are going to be in real trouble.

    machu picchu
    Guest
    machu picchu

    It’s all about where you get down the hill, eh? Riverview has switchbacks, Taylor’s Ferry is built for cars. It was presumably built for beasts of burden prior to that. A private property owner restricting access would be entirely reasonable, and would accentuate the lack of a bike link here.

    machu picchu
    Guest
    machu picchu

    Oops. So it would really be where you get UP or DOWN the hill, eh? Because it’s not just a route south either. It’s those cliffs by the river. OHSU gets a tram, how about something for the bikers who aren’t aiming for the South Waterfront or OHSU on the hill. OK. Thanks. -Matt

    old&slow
    Guest
    old&slow

    As usual, a few posts from nimrods (wsbob), that act like they are entitled to ride on private property. I just want to thank the cemetery for allowing me to ride on their roads and will respect any rules they have to allow me to keep using their property.

    bikieboy
    Guest
    bikieboy

    O&S, i didn’t read any entitlement in wsbob’s comment – he simply bemoaned the fact that they f*cked up a few cyclists (aka “grief and frustration”) with their stealth draconian speed bumps.

    old&slow
    Guest
    old&slow

    bikieboy, their “stealth draconian” speed bumps were put there because idiots were speeding down THEIR roads, running over graves, etc. GOOD LORD, what do cyclists think they are entitled to? You can’t ride up my driveway unless I let you, the cemetery “lets us” ride our bikes on their roads. They pay for them, they maintain them, they can put whatever they want, including speed bumps and brick walls on them if they want to. WTF do you think you have any say? Be thankful they don’t close the gate and STFU!

    Junko Partner
    Guest
    Junko Partner

    That’s nice. But, seriously, what is happening downtown? Why are so many bicyclists riding on the sidewalks downtown? And it’s not just that they’re riding on the sidewalks, it’s that they’re riding fast, with disregard to others, and that pedestrians are getting hurt.

    Look. I ride my bike several days a week to run errands, and to get exercise. I live too close to work to ride a bike, so I walk. Nonetheless, I am VERY supportive of cycling. However, the trend that I and others have noted downtown is NOT GOOD. Yet, the issue is being ignored. This IS going to blow up, if it is not addressed soon.

    Kevin Wagoner
    Guest

    This news excites me. This is a safe and very enjoyable commute option for me. I will certainly watch my speed and respect the 15mph. Thanks for the update.

    driving that train
    Guest
    driving that train

    The boards actions seems completely reasonable to me.

    I do have sympathy for the people who want to use that route after dark though. It’s just not an easy place to go by bike. Are there any viable long term plans for bike access in this area, that don’t involve the cemetery?

    driving that train
    Guest
    driving that train

    Junko-

    I agree, riding your bike on the sidewalk downtown is dangerous, that’s why it’s already illegal. Your complaint should be with the police for not enforcing it, not Joe Public who happens to ride a bike.

    sabes
    Guest
    sabes

    #17 – his complaint shouldn’t be with the guy who is riding illegal on downtown sidewalks? Why? That makes absolutely no sense.

    wsbob
    Guest
    wsbob

    “…nimrods…” old&slow #11

    Whoa..!… . Haven’t heard that one in awhile. Had to look it up to see what it meant: from WordWeb; ‘Nimrod: 1.(Old Testament) A famous hunter.’

    O.K., with me. No guns or killing stuff though. If I’m a hunter, it’s the type that seeks good ways to avoid or resolve problems. At least that’s what I try to do, even though people occasionally seem to get upset with my efforts to do that.

    Riverview generally seems to be a good neighbor; that it allows general access to its roads is just one example of that, so I apologize for not saying so in the earlier post. I have..I think, said so in comments to other bikeportland threads on this subject.

    The only thing people enjoying that generous gesture were entitled to, was an expectation that, along with extending access to its roads to the general public, Riverview not make abrupt changes to the roads in an unsafe manner.

    Unfortunately that seems to have been exactly what it did. Why they didn’t do the things outlined in first two, or all four of the points outlined in the article above…before installing the speedbumps is kind of a head scratcher for me. But y’know…people sometimes just get fed up with a situation and do things impulsively.

    Maybe that happened at Riverview in response to reports of speeding bikes. At any rate, it’s done, and now, it sounds like Riverview is again on a great track to being a continued good neighbor.

    If I lived or rode in the area, which I don’t…(Beaverton)I wouldn’t feel entitled to ride through the cemetery outside of any access the cemetery chooses to allow the general public. It certainly would never be my feet or tires wearing tracks over its turf or grave sites. Even public parks have closing hours which people are advised to observe. Some of them, such as one of the nature parks in my area, close at dusk.

    driving that train
    Guest
    driving that train

    Sabes-

    Of course we should hold the lawbreakers accountable for their actions. What I meant was that it’s not the responsibility of other people on bikes to enforce the law.

    Which brings us back to the cemetery. There is a perception out there of this mystical “cycling community” that has control over it’s members and can tell them not to run over gravesites. But it just doesn’t exist and I think the folks at Riverview realize that. So they made the good faith decision not to alienate everybody for the actions of a few.

    drew
    Guest
    drew

    Uh-Oh; looks like I will be pedaling up Taylors ferry in the dark on the way to work soon. That will increase my chance of ending up in the cemetery… 24-7… (6 ft below).

    I suppose it was too good to last…

    Afro Biker
    Guest
    Afro Biker

    Running over graves? Wow that’s the kind of cycling community I want to be a part of.

    la otra
    Guest
    la otra

    OK, people, I’ve made the calls to the grave-tippers and sidewalk-speeders, and they said they’d cut it out for a few days. Who knew it was that easy? Now, does anyone have the number for the car guy who can make all the drunk drivers and cell-talkers stop? Because THAT would be useful.

    bikieboy
    Guest
    bikieboy

    O&S (#13) – “speed bumps were put there because idiots were speeding down THEIR roads”

    my impression is that some of the people who crashed on the bumps were not “speeding”.

    “GOOD LORD, what do cyclists think they are entitled to?”

    a warning?

    beth h
    Guest

    Once upon a time I lived in a place where my bike travel routes were severely limited by topography and existing traffic infrastructure. I struggled with trying to find the best way to and from work for TWO YEARS, until I realized that there really was none.

    Then I moved.

    Suddenly, although my commute was approximately twenty minutes longer than before, I had many more route choices available to me than before and felt MUCH safer — and calmer — while using my bike as primary transportation.

    Not to be a stick in the mud here, but people who complain about having no safe way to ride their bikes to and from without going through the cemetery should consider where they live and work. If you live and work in the west hills, where bicycle route options are ridiculous at best and dangerous at worst — and where radical change in this reality seems unlikely because of topography and development concerns — then maybe it’s time to consider how important bicycling is to you.

    In a car-centric landscape, not every road is equally suitable — or even advisable — for bicyclists’ use. If dedicated bike-riders concentrate themselves in bike-friendly parts of town and demand amenities, city and county governments will have to listen, as evidenced by the changes to the landscape in inner eastside Portland over the last five years.

    Of course, life in the West Hills is not conducive to the kind of density that would in turn be conducive to lives lived on a more intimate, human scale — which is why, when my partner and I bought a house six years ago, we made sure it was in a place where I could ride my bike to nearly everything that mattered — work, stores, farmers’ markets and even my house of worship. Location matters in creating the kind of urban density that will foster that human scale.

    If the cemetery board is ultimately forced by circumstances (or their legal department) to close access entirely, what will those living in the West Hills do then?

    Kt
    Guest
    Kt

    Look, it’s simple: it’s private property. If the landowners wanted to put up electrified fences and and restrict all non-cemetery-use traffic, they could.

    Think of it this way: How happy do you think the owners of this admittedly private road would be if more car drivers decided to use this road as part of their commute? You’d be certain to see the gates manned by a guard who would stop you and ask your business before opening the gate to allow you to enter the grounds.

    I suppose the cemetery Board could have gone that route.

    IT’S PRIVATE LAND, people. Time to step up and start lobbying the City of Portland to create bike infrastructure out here, instead of relying on private landowners to give you all-hours access to their property.

    I’d suggest that the BTA could help you out, but I think the cemetery is too close to the Portland city border, so you may not get anything from them.

    Kt
    Guest
    Kt

    (BTW, this area is not the West Hills. It’s part of the dreaded “Southwest Suburbs”, which includes the cities of Tigard, Lake Oswego, West Linn, Tualatin….)

    wsbob
    Guest
    wsbob

    Maybe it’s some quirk of fate that’s given Riveview Cemetery a travel route over the hill that’s better and more manageable for bike travel than nearby Taylor’s Ferry road is.

    Back in the day, I would think that horses, mules and oxen pulling heavy loads would have preferred the easier climb of Riverview’s roads to the steep grade of Taylor’s Ferry road. Lots of reasons; engineering logistics, property ownership issues, and more, probably had to do with the route up the hill being the ski-run like Taylor’s Ferry Road.

    beth h, you and your partners choice and planning in terms of deciding where to live is admirable. Able to buy a house? Nice! Some of us have to rent what we can get, where we can get it.

    A decent paying job in the same general neighborhood? Even better! A lot of people seem to have to take jobs that aren’t on the same side of the hill as where they live. That can be annoying if you’re the type of person that believes in leaving a low carbon footprint on the earth.

    I’d bet you that many of the people climbing Taylors Ferry, Jefferson up through the Washington Park, or Vista up towards Council Crest aren’t actually living in the West Hills in some nice house with a view over the valley. Many of those riding are likely people that are living down in the valley in dinky little places somewhat like I live in.

    If people are willing to keep fit and relieve pressure on the transportation system by pedaling up over the hill between Portland and the western suburbs, it certainly seems like a good idea to encourage this. However consciously it may be doing so, Riverview Cemetery certainly seems to contributing to that effort.

    That’s a nice thing for them to do. I would like to think Riverview could be helped in some way to keep their roads safely open to people through commuting hours.

    matthew
    Guest
    matthew

    this summer i was shown the route through the cemetary up to the crest of the west hills by a riding partner (thanks leslie!). it’s my favorite link to fairmount loop, council crest and skyline. did i get that right? i’m still exploring and learning the routes up there. i had taken gibbs/marquam hill up and it’s pretty brutal. i also made the mistake of going up gaines(?) omg, now that hurt. i’m glad the cemetary remains open and with a simple thing called “respect” by cyclists hopefully it will remain so. it strikes me as odd that folks view the installation of the speed bumps (yes they are pretty harsh and almost unmanageable at anything faster than a brisk walking pace) as a draconian measure to slow down riders. it’s private property and i do not feel we are entitled to use it any way we see fit. there has been lot’s of discussion on the term community and some folks seem like they don’t want to be “labled”. perhaps they feel like it divides and separates people? i personally don’t have this view and feel it a term that brings people together, makes us more aware and closer to others dispite differences of opinion and diversity. river view cemetary (to me at least) seems to understand the meaning and value of community and is willing to share their property with users other than what the property is designed for. if it’s on the terms that they dictate, that’s fine. i’m just glad they are generous enough to let me use the road.

    beth h
    Guest

    @ wsbob:

    The effort to change my life to a more manageable size and scale took me twenty years, a dozen different jobs and a lot of work. I apologize if I made it sound like a walk in the park. It wasn’t and it isn’t today.

    I recognize that not everyone may be able to choose a life centered around urban density and shorter distances to everything as I have done. But I firmly believe — without apology — that those who CAN choose it should, and perhaps even MUST, for the sake of the community, the country and the planet.
    If that makes me a radical I can live with it.

    As for Riverview’s decision, I think it’s tremendous that the board is willing to continue to work with people who ride their bikes through the cemetery. But the burden for this dilemma shouldn’t be placed upon the Riverview board. It needs to be the job of government to create infrastructure that is truly usable, and useful, for citizens. That private lands appears to be the only way down the hill for folks int hat area seems ludicrous, and city and county governments MUST step in to provide a public solution.

    wsbob
    Guest
    wsbob

    beth…20 years to get a great place is lots of hard work, and your effort and choice to do that is, again, admirable. People hearing about your story are going to be inspired to do something similar.

    As local government strategy to relieve traffic congestion, having people work two decades to be able to live where they can easily bike to work probably isn’t adequate. Since the discussion is about roads that are a commute route for at least some of the people using them, a good route over the hill, available now, rather than 20 years from now, is quite an asset for the area.

    A few people commenting in response to previous threads on this subject have offered an alternative route to both the cemetery and Taylors Ferry on existing streets; maybe it’s good…I can’t remember detail of the route well enough, so can’t say.

    For an alternative route to Taylor’s Ferry, someone else mentioned forested, undeveloped land adjacent to TF, that the cemetery owns; one guess as to what the cemetery has in mind for that land eventually.

    With land in the area already platted out, owned and much of it developed, it’s likely to be very difficult and expensive to lay out and build a new, great route up over the hills. That leaves Riverview’s roads. Fortunately, the number of bikes using those roads doesn’t presently seem to be so great as to be an issue in itself. At least no word yet on that issue from the cemetery.

    Riverview’s board shouldn’t have to deal with this dilemma…but that’s where they’re at. Quite a number of people seem to understand their dilemma and are willing to help them work on the situation. Everything could turn out well.

    Larry
    Guest
    Larry

    I ride this route frequently as part of a loop from West Linn to and from points north. (FYI- there is long term planning about the potential of a route where the train tracks are. Jonathan, you have covered it here somewhere.) It is a beautiful and tranquil ride with different options to explore. Several times over the years I’ve seen riders being disrespectful, either with excessive speed or crossing graves. With my deep booming voice I’ve called out to them: “Hey! Respect the grounds!”
    Note: This is especially effective after dark.

    Linkbeak
    Guest
    Linkbeak

    I’m with Bob_M. As a daily Riverview Cemetery commuter, I continue to be thankful that this private landowner allows me access. The real issue is why isn’t the City doing more for SW cyclists by facilitating bicycle travel on the existing public roadways.

    Lisa G
    Guest
    Lisa G

    Nobody mentions the people who actually visit the cemetary on a bike. I participated in a bike procession to a cemetary for a memorial service a few years back. The West Hills needs bike infrastructure and it’s on the agenda for the Bicycle Master Plan. I don’t know that area very well, but I hope that the consideration for the future includes a bypass route for those just passing through the cemetary. Until separated bikeways are built alongside the roads nearby that were only built for cars, this seems to be the best solution for safety, not trying to assert the so-called “superiority” of the automobile or escalating the “us vs them” mentality at a time when more people are considering biking for all the right reasons. Those who continue to fight the paradigm change will be those who get left behind on the evolutionary path.