The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Editorial: NW Examiner publisher blasts “bicycle zealots”

Posted by on June 7th, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Allan Classen, founder, editor and publisher of the NW Examiner, has leveled serious criticisms at what he calls “members of the Portland Bicycle Church” in his June issue (PDF here).

Several readers have sent me his monthly Editor’s Turn column titled, When the saints go riding on, which refers to bikes as “not merely a mode of transportation,” in Portland, but rather, “a religion.”

“…the Portland Church of the All Mighty Bicycle has been gaining adherents at every turn, and I don’t think they’re all Catholics.”

Much of Classen’s anger is based on the issue of biking in Forest Park (note that the NW Examiner covers neighborhoods adjacent to the park):

“The converts love to ride bikes down steep mountain trails at high speed on Sunday mornings. Forest Park, it seems, is something like their church. They come out all black and muddy but smiling nevertheless. It’s almost as if they’ve just been baptized.

It makes sense that, if the park is sacred ground, they would want to liberate it for the work of their lord. That’s why they plot and congregate in great numbers in hopes that one fine day they can ride all over the park on paths paved with mud.”

Classen then takes on citizen advocate Frank Selker’s plan to have more people who enjoy riding bikes join the Forest Park Conservancy to help them in their mission to preserve and protect the park for all users:

“The plan was apparently to get so many bike advocates on the organization’s rolls that they could turn its policies toward their righteous mission…

… in their evangelistic fervor, they assume that more bike riding anywhere — even in a fragile, over-used wilderness park — is a benefit to all. when you’re holier than thou, you assume your excrement doesn’t stink, I guess.”

Classen then recounts an anecdote from a friend who questioned someone about riding on the sidewalk. The response of the “bicycle zealot”?

“The rider slugged him in the face, knocking his glasses to the ground. Nothing is owed the infidel.”

Classen also picked up on a recent article by Joe Rose in The Oregonian that said e-bike riders are considered “outcasts” by non-electrified riders:

“They’re called cheaters and are scorned for riding in bike lanes. They are not true believers in the one and only, true, holy, sanctified church of the bicycle, and they must be shunned.”

And, I realize I’m sharing a lot of his column, but I’m just shocked at how such a respected local reporter has gone off the deep end with these criticisms. Here are the final few lines:

“If you’ve ever been flipped off, sworn at or physically attacked by a bicyclist who didn’t like the way you drive or walk on the sidewalk, keep in mind that these are not ordinary people. They live on another plane. They believe that danger, disdain and ridicule may follow them all their days on the earth, but one day they will sit in glory at the right handlebar of God.”

With already a lot of emotion and divisiveness around the Forest Park discussions and other bike issues in Portland, this article only makes things worse. Among some NW Examiner readers, it will only serve to reinforce their underlying anger toward people who ride bikes, among others, it will color their perception of people who ride bikes with unfair stereotypes.

This is just the latest example of the culture wars around biking that persist here in Portland. For various reasons, biking and the people who do it are lightning rods in local politics and media. Biking is a convenient scapegoat, a frequently tossed political football, and a common source of sensationalized reporting.

Until we can reach a truce and strip biking of all the emotion and vitriol, it will be difficult to become the type of city many people are working to build.

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. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Bjorn June 7, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I’d like someone to ask him the name of this friend who got in a fight with a cyclist, sounds awfully made up to me.

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  • Lance P. June 7, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    This is really hard to believe this came from Allan Classen. I have known him for a few years now and I never took him as a bigot. He knows better and should be ashamed.

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  • bob June 7, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I am a proud, law abiding, community volunteering, bike zealot who is following Gandhi’s suggestion to be the change I want to see. No fisticuffs, no middle fingers and no judgment.
    If you have a problem with that, Mr. Classen, I recommend some fresh air…maybe a little bike ride.

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  • f5 June 7, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    “The Examiner has won statewide honors for Investigative Reporting, Comprehensive Coverage and Feature Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists.”

    I’m wondering what decade that was in.

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  • Marcus Griffith June 7, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I was rather disappointed that a person with Classen’s position and abilities would resort to spiking cool-aid.

    His willful overs implication of the issues is inexcusable for a man of his intelligence and background. His deliberate efforts to invoke fearful stereotypes of cyclists is absurd. He is capable of far better community dialog than the anti-bike xenophobia he has just spit in the face of the greater community.

    His lack of evidence, logic and decency are symptoms of weak political position and a even weaker moral foundation.

    Feedback can be provided to Cassen:

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  • K'Tesh June 7, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    +1 for bob’s suggestion

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  • Roger Geller June 7, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Why do otherwise reasonable people “go off the deep end,” as you state? Allan Classen has covered bicycling for a long time. He no doubt has many friends and acquaintances who use a bicycle regularly for transportation. Is he talking about them? No. He is addressing the same type of thing that anybody working in the public sector on bicycling experiences on a regular basis: anger towards bicyclists and lack of support for bicycling because of the egregious and highly visible actions of a few.

    What are those actions?

    blatantly running red lights
    riding at night without lights
    behaving poorly on narrow shared use paths in the presence of pedestrians and other cyclists
    riding on crowded sidewalks

    This doesn’t even consider the truly antisocial behaviors of cyclists like cursing at others and assaulting or threatening to assault others.

    These behaviors are experienced regularly by too many of the public at large. Indeed, it’s rare that you can ride–or especially walk–across the Hawthorne Bridge at rush hour without having some type of negative experience with a cyclist. These experiences have a cumulative effect on the collective consciousness. It is almost impossible for me to go to a business group, community meeting, public presentation–even the Oregon Bike Summit this past week–and try to talk about all the myriad benefits that bicycling offers without also (and often first) addressing the poor behavior of too many cyclists.

    In this regard we’re our own worst enemies and Allan Classen is clearly picking up on that and reflecting it back at us. Note that he’s not talking about bicycle policy. He’s not talking about transportation funding. He’s talking about the behavior of individuals. While you can make logical arguments that such things shouldn’t influence policy the reality is that they do.

    If there weren’t “underlying anger” because of our own misbehavior then editorials like this would carry no weight. Sadly, they do hit a deep vein.

    What’s the answser? Many-faceted, but individual behavior unfortunately carries a lot of weight. I wrote about that last year on this site…

    If you’re a cyclist who thinks this is unfair, try taking a walk across the south side of the Hawthorne Bridge one rush hour this summer–or a walk through Waterfront Park or the Eastbank Esplanade–and then see how you feel…

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  • M June 7, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    For those of you who don’t read the NW Examiner regularly, you need to understand that Alan always puts a very edgy and provacative slant to all of his stories in his paper. This is to get a rise out of people – stirring up controversy even if there is no controversy. I wouldn’t take this article, or anything that Alan writes seriously. I have stopped reading his articles because you don’t know if you are really getting the truth. You are getting dramatic headlines without much substance.

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  • q'Tzal June 7, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    What about the Church of Auto?
    The religion that states:
    That the road belongs to me and me alone?
    That the land exists for paving?
    That all trips by auto should be unfettered by any non-automotive road user?
    That any transportation funding that does not go to more lanes and fewer speed limit signs is wasted?
    That anyone who doesn’t travel by the most holy of modes, single occupancy automobile, is mentially deficient, deviant or just plain nuts?
    Can we point out the absurdity of the auto system? No, because to do so makes you insane. Sanity is oft defined by those lacking of it.

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  • nuovorecord June 7, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Well said, Roger. We cyclists are very often our own worst enemies.

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  • Dave June 7, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    This is yet another great argument for separated infrastructure, and why it is unusual in places like the Netherlands for cyclists and pedestrians to share the same spaces – if you want to be on the sidewalk, you get off your bike and walk.

    It’s just going to get harder as we get more people on bikes who are both feeling pushed off the roads by cars, and pushed off the sidewalks by pedestrians – I’m not saying rude or violent behavior is OK, but I’m saying that while the reporter’s reaction can be justified by logic, so can a cyclist’s who is frustrated at having no place to be.

    I agree with Roger that we all have responsibility for our own actions, and we should make them as beyond-reproach as possible, but at the same time, I think this really highlights the need to put different types of transportation that move radically differently in their own spaces, at least in places where there is frequent confrontation.

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  • ac June 7, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    mr classen happens to have a personal media outlet: a neighborhood paper

    he has used this platform before to poke at any issue that irks him or laud effusively any favorable one

    it’s par for the course for the nw examiner

    it’s a tiny readership who already knows that mr classen is an opinionated guy

    let’s not make it any more than that by giving him another platform for getting his message out

    …too late i guess

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  • Eric June 7, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    I’m a life long cyclist but it’s true, there are a lot of entitled riders out there. It looks to me like half of the bikes I see at night don’t have lights. And waiting for a red light? Jeez.

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  • Did I miss it? Again? June 7, 2010 at 1:33 pm


    Excuse me while I finish vomitting.

    Ok, done.

    Seriously, song is getting old!
    Either come up with some new lyrics or stop singing the same song at every oppotunity.

    The author (right or wrong) made valid points, yet this reverts to the same tired righteous finger-pointing that gives the cyclists the reputation in the first place.

    I ride a bike and therefore holier than thou…

    Read #7. Roger is on to something. Personal accountability before finger pointing. (Not that I am implying you are not accountable, but many people on bikes are not)

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  • peejay June 7, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    If there are rude and inconsiderate bikers, it’s because there are rude and inconsiderate people. I might add, there are also rude and inconsiderate newspaper editors, too.

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  • WOBG June 7, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I dunno, Jonathan. To “strip biking of all the emotion” would likely curtail much of the quasi-tribal bikey events and culture in our city. I’m with you, though, because I agree it’s the other side of the same coin: By pursuing tribe, we balkanize ourselves.

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  • are June 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    why (and as a practical matter, how) am i supposed to be responsible for someone else’s behavior? in addition to being a transportational cyclist (albeit not offroad, and not on sidewalks), i am also a white male living in the u.s. in the late 20th/early 21st century. many people answering that description do pretty horrible stuff every day. the best i can do is not participate, and to encourage others not to participate. beyond that, what? (in other words, i do not accept roger’s characterization of this stuff as “our” misbehavior.)

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  • andy June 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Roger: On the other side of the coin, I don’t think it is justified that cyclists should be singled out for bad behavior. After all, motorists routinely break all of the same laws that cyclists do (and they also speed, which most cyclists simply cannot do) – with far greater consequences when a collision occurs. I have been run off the road, I have been hit by thrown objects from cars, I have been cursed at and spit on; I have been followed for blocks on a residential street by a motorist who laid on his horn the entire time (clear violation of ORS 815.225). I have been hit by a motorist and then given false contact and insurance information so that I was not able to get any compensation for damage to my bike, despite having two witnesses to the scene and a license plate number. Should I also write an editorial to calling all motorists terrorists and miscreants, based on those incidents? Is it right for me to smear all motorists, even the most conscientious and careful ones, with the misdeeds of the others? No. While I strongly agree that cyclists must be more mindful of other road users – and pedestrians in particular – to single them out as a group for criticism while ignoring the behavior of a far larger majority of road users just makes an us-vs-them debate all the more toxic.

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  • Anonymous June 7, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    What are those actions?

    blatantly running red lights
    Going over the speed limit
    failure to yield to other drivers
    failure to signal
    Driving while intoxicated
    Driving while fatigued
    driving while uninsured or unlicensed
    driving while a teenager
    behaving poorly on narrow shared roadways the presence of pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers and other
    Driving unsafely in parking lots and exiting driveways without caution

    This doesn’t even consider the truly antisocial behaviors of drivers like cursing at others and assaulting or threatening to assault others with their automobiles or person.

    These behaviors are experienced regularly by too many of the public at large. Indeed, it’s rare that you can drive, ride–or especially walk–across most city streets (Foster Road, 82nd etc) without having some type of negative experience with a Car. These experiences have a cumulative effect on the collective consciousness. Especially with the high number of car related deaths and injuries caused by drivers. It is almost impossible for me to go to a business group, community meeting, public presentationand try to talk about all the myriad benefits that driving offers without also (and often first) addressing the poor behavior of too many Drivers.

    Can also replace with pedestrian, motorcycle, scooter or horse if necessary.

    straw man.

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  • Yeoh June 7, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I once had a “bike zealot” turn around in the middle of the street only to park in front of my house and berate me for allowing my own dog to pee in my own front yard. Even so, I think he was an anomoly.

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  • Elliot June 7, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Thanks to the insiders with experience with the NW Examiner who have shared revealing context about how to read between the lines of Mr. Classen’s editorial. I noticed the letter to the editor alongside this piece also showed some of the character of a heavy-handed editorial voice coloring the reporting present in the Examiner (which is not at all uncommon for neighborhood papers in this town).

    If you haven’t read the editorial, go read it yourself, as it’s much easier that way to understand it correctly as a critique, and not as scathing bias. I don’t like or appreciate the tactic Mr. Classen uses in order to tell his story, but it’s still a valuable issue to raise. I’m glad Roger is continuing to speak up about this, too.

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  • bahueh June 7, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I have to add that there are actions taken by cyclists that are illegal and inconsiderate of others..then there are actions that are legal and considered to be “inconvenient” to drivers…
    case in point..last Friday afternoon..coming off the Hawthorne east bound…I took the right lane to pass other cyclists who were riding slowly..I was easily traveling 26-28mph (speed limit there is 25mph) when some jack-hole in a white sedan wanted to merge into my lane…he started to, saw me, and moved back over into the center lane…as I passed him, he then proceeded to accelerate into me and attempted to force me back into the bike lane…attempted vehicular assault so he could break the speed limit for a few blocks….I merged back into the bike lane, flashed him a “2 – 5” and a middle finger as he was waving his arms at me like a freakin lunatic….he sped past and ended up behind some other car when I passed him again. my actions were legal. his were just plain manic and irresponsible. sadly, our paths parted ways…I would have loved to speak with him down the road.

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  • Eric June 7, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    During the first golden age of cycling, the 1890s, every nearly every city had loud debates over sharing the sidewalks. Most of the cities enacted sidewalk ordinances that prohibited bicycle riding during the summer, when the streets would be dry, and some even did this during the wet and muddy winter.

    The bicycling “scorcher,” who barreled over people walking was far more feared than horses, carts and drivers, and early automobiles.

    Before people on bikes were run off the roads by people in cars, people on bikes were running people on foot off the sidewalks.

    In many ways over the last century the bicycling scorcher is a more persistent and powerful image than the narrow-minded autoist.

    Increasingly, the real conflicts will be between people walking and bicycling – and with Roger Geller we would do well to pay more attention to our bicycling comportment.

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  • Paul June 7, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    I was once assaulted by a guy wearing shoes. Damn pedestrians and their anger problems.

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  • 9watts June 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    I think andy #18 hits the nail on the head. The implication of what both Classen and Roger were saying is that bikers are somehow uniquely disruptive, rude, dangerous participants in traffic. While familiar, and we can all point to examples, andy’s point may be that we’ve simply gotten used to car drivers’ comparable behaviors long ago and normalized that. It is the new kid on the block who’s occasional behavior is noticed.
    While I agree with the fact that the same behaviors exhibited by someone in a car can and often are far more dangerous than if they had been on a bike, the points raised by andy are true even if we don’t include this difference.

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  • Mark C June 7, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    #19, I can see the point your trying to make, but the difference is most of us drive, while only some of us bike, so it’s easier for the majority that doesn’t bike to heap their scorn on cyclists. It’s not fair, but we have to set a higher standard when riding if we hope to continue to turn public perception in our favor.

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  • 9watts June 7, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    “I can see the point your trying to make, but the difference is most of us drive, while only some of us bike”

    True, but also sometimes not as true as we are led to believe. My favorite statistic (from the 2000 Census) is that 18.5% of Multnomah Co. households did not own a car. That is ~ one in every five households.

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  • beth h June 7, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Vitriolic? Yes. Nasty? You bet.

    Devastating to the grander scheme of growing a more bike-friendly infrstraucture in the Portland area? Maybe not so much.

    This guy’s a crank preaching to a VERY select audience, in a higher-rent neighborhood (populated mostly by folks who either drive cars or take transit). It’s mostly NOT his readers, but his advertisers, on whom he largely depends to keep his little rag afloat in our toilet of an economy.

    If you (the dedicated bike activists in the bunch) really feel put out by Classen’s screed, consider publicly and loudly boycotting his advertisers. You may actually get farther with this approach than with just sighing and wringing your hands.

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  • Did I miss it? Again? June 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm


    How is speeding on a bicycle any more legal than speeding in a car?

    According to your account, you were moving faster than the car.

    Not saying that the driver was justified, I am sure he was a narrow minded jerk,
    BUT –
    I am just wondering why bikes should not be held to the same laws as it pertains to speeding, stop signs, redlights, going the wrong way against traffic, opertating at night without lights, etc.

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  • Roger Geller June 7, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    #18 and #19,

    I never said it was fair or logical. It’s just reality. Cyclist’s poor behavior is observed and commented upon much more than the (occasionally deadly) poor behaviors of people driving cars. It’s something that makes people otherwise supportive of bicycling less willing to show that support.

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  • 9watts June 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Good point, Roger, and we (bikey folks) are also in one way or another appreciative of good will in the larger community as we strive to be recognized as traffic, as having some business on the road, whereas car bound folks aren’t really (yet) in the same position. Autoists are the unmarked category. Even the word doesn’t trip off the tongue very easily.

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  • Amos June 7, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Seriously, this guy just did all the leg work for us at the Bike Temple. Do you know how hard it is to think up bike/religion puns?

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  • Oliver June 7, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Continual Process Improvement.
    In addition to increasing our understanding and adherance to the laws as a never ending quest for self-improvment, there will never be a time when a little more courtesy wouldn’t go amiss.

    That said: if we removed every cyclist, today, from the roads; would there be fewer angry motorists? And would the road be any safer for anybody?

    My money (all of it) goes on ‘No’, for question 1.

    And the road would only be safer for those no longer on a bicycle. Even that is nowhere near absolute

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  • Marcus Griffith June 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Great… now the tongue-in-seat-post bike temple is getting PR out of this.

    You overlook them now, but give them time and they will creep into your garage and steal your daughter’s yet-to-be-used Magna bike and sacrifice it to their fixes gods…

    On a serious note, Amos’ post does highlight the unintentional humor in the editorial. Besides, I now want to get a bike-logo shirt with “..these are not ordinary people” on it.

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  • Roland June 7, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Two words for ya: Deepwater Horizon. This guy’s guilt must be tearing him apart inside. But I do thank him for noticing that I’m holier than he.

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  • Bob_M June 7, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    The PDF of the Classen paper is revealing. They are very churchy, advertisements of churches, and their awards banquet was in a church.

    Everyone photographed in the paper has gray hair. (I do too, but sometimes my photos include younger people)

    On most topics the editorial stand is pro sustainability, pro community and generally liberal.

    I think if a bike advocat actually talked with Classen, so that his research was not just from his imagination, he might change his tune.

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  • EmGee June 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Allan Classen has already gotten way more exposure from this piece of bad writing than he deserves.

    Classen and his ilk are stirring up the black energies of bigotry for their own ends, and in doing so are attempting to make “bicyclist” equivalent to the word “nigger”. Perhaps he (and almost certainly those who he is writing to) grew up hearing the “N” word used a lot by the adults around them. Perhaps they are all looking back to those simpler days when describing some persons with the “N” word just made the whole world so much easier to understand, by its emphasis on the contrasts between their way of life and some other inferior life style.

    An appropriate approach to handling Classen’s bigoted behavior is to point out to others that he is re-introducing “nigger” with a somewhat different spelling, and that when you filter his words to correct for that, you find there is no rational content behind the facade.

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  • matt picio June 7, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Dave (#11) – How is this an argument for separated infrastructure? This is an argument for “common” courtesy and personal responsibility. (i.e. don’t be a jerk) Separated infrastructure isn’t going to fix poor behavior, it only ensures that the poor behavior will impact other cyclists more than motorists or pedestrians.

    There is a place for separated infrastructure, but with limited space and multiple modes there will always be points of conflict – and creating separate spaces does nothing to address the problem of jerks on the road.

    peejay (#15) – Exactly. This is a people problem.

    are (#17) – Because you live in civilization. If you don’t want to be responsible for others, go live on a mountaintop. The price of city living is the responsibility of living well with others. While the position of the line between communal responsibility and meddling is up for the debate, the presence of the line is implicit in the urban environment.

    These tasks are typically handled through law enforcement – the real questions are, should this be done through law enforcement, what should the penalties be, and what are we willing to sacrifice to take the jerks off the road?

    So to an extent it is “our” misbehavior, but I agree that people shouldn’t be able to use the behavior of some to refuse services and facilities to the rest of us.

    Anonymous (#19) “driving while a teenager”? Why not add the elderly in there too? That’s an ageist philosophy – the criteria should be based on skill, not age.

    bahueh (#22) – Unfortunately, that experience is far too normal in greater Portland. I had similar experiences, especially in Clackasmas County. (which other than the Ross Island Bridge is the only place motorists throw things at me)

    Roger (#30) makes a good point, and that’s a good reason to study the various civil rights struggles (women, people of color, gay/lesbian, etc) to find ways to combat public opinion. Bikes are a transportation minority. Sure, it’s mostly a lifestyle choice, and I’m not trying to equate the issues regarding bikes to the issues regarding those struggles – just pointing out that there are tactics, behaviors, beliefs and actions that are common to every struggle of a minority against the majority to encourage or demand equal treatment – and it might be instructive and inspiring to look at prior and ongoing struggles of any minority group in order to make the roads safer for us.

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  • bahueh June 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    #29…I agree with you fully. the issue is not that I was exceeding a posted limited by 1-2mph…I was keeping up with traffic flow (as OR. law states – I can take the lane if I do) and this a-hole thought he could forcefully remove me from my position as he apparently didn’t think I ‘belong there’……

    there are bad road users on both sides.
    that is the point that is often missed.

    as for the other infractions you mentioned, I couldn’t agree more.

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  • k. June 7, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    I beginning to blame stuff like this on the economy. It sucks, nation wide, and it’s got people on edge and all riled up. It makes people nervous and angry. You see it everywhere; in our national discourse in politics most clearly but it seems like everyone’s tolerance for just about everything different then they are is shrinking rapidly. Pretty soon we’ll be divided into camps in our neighborhoods of those who paint their houses earth tones and those who don’t. Who knows what sort of invective we’ll be launching against each other then.

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  • atheist driver and cyclist June 7, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    This is just laziness in journalism. His writing offers no thoughtful insight about people on bikes or in cars or churches for that matter. It’s supposed to be edgy (I guess) but it just sounds like someone without inspiration looking to score attention with some snide analogy. What, I wonder, does the writer consider the merit of his article? Is it funny? A shrewd observation of some subulture? It’s just a half baked stew of easy lines and thoughtless generalizations. As an atheist, lover of thoughtful and humorous writing, a car enthusiast, and cyclist I object.

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  • Elliot June 7, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Jonathan, maybe you should take this as a sign that we bicyclists overdue for our confessional. Obviously the behaviors in Classen’s editorial are extreme, exaggerated or farcical, but I’d like to read something from you that calls out the bad behaviors cyclists exhibit that need to be curtailed. You’ve done small pieces on this before, but perhaps it deserves a more in depth look. Without social pressure, the problem is not going to go away.

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  • CommanderZ June 7, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    It would be a waste of keystrokes to spend any more time defending or criticizing Allan Classen or his editorial comments. As a frequent pedestrian, frequent cyclist, and a frequent auto driver (I don’t use public transit much) I see the good, the bad and the ugly from both drivers and cyclists. A point that is regularly used as a rebuttal for inappropriate cyclist behavior (running red lights, riding at night without lights, etc.) is that they are the visible acts of a small number of cyclists. Not true. If you are in a number of heavily used (by bike) areas around Portland (Hawthorne Bridge, Seven Corners, Division/Clinton and others) the percentage of cyclists shooting stop lights and intimidating pedestrians is greater than fifty-percent of the riders. Whether you think this is ok, or you dislike it, it is the truth nonetheless. Stand at 34th & Lincoln (quite few pedestrians crossing there too) on any Saturday, and it will be a rare event if 1 out of 100 cyclists even attempt to stop at the blinking red 4-way stop; same for dozens of other intersections around town. Drivers often fail to come to a complete stop, but virtually none go through the stops full-bore. Along with flipping people off, these are the biggest reasons for increasing hostility toward cyclists and cycling. Most non-cyclists do not make the distinction between cycling as a means of transportation, and the cyclists using that means. Until the majority of cyclists follow the basic traffic laws, and those of us who do follow the rules consistently exert peer pressure on the rest, more media focus and anti-bike political rhetoric will continue to increase.

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  • Big Beard June 7, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Yep, it’s an OpEd piece.
    Opinion? Check
    Anecdotes? Check
    Hyperbole? Check
    Logic Free? Check

    Seriously, nothing to see here.

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  • Tacoma June 7, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Re: “the bad behaviors cyclists exhibit”, is there one “behavior” that is brought up more often than others? I would guess the “stop sign” thing but maybe it’s passing too closely (i.e. leaving little margin for error)?

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  • Tacoma June 7, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Curious that CommanderZ posted his feedback at the same time as my question and noted the same two behaviors (though he used the term “intimidating pedestrians”).

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  • Drew June 7, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    I would guess that most of the bike riders Mr Classen is angry about drive cars too, and perhaps have poor driving habits. But when there are poor manners (or tragedy) on the highway involving motor vehicles, it’s just business as usual.

    People can act in an antisocial manner while using any method of conveyance. We see it on the Hawthorne bridge sidewalk as well as any road out there. Why try to separate people by the conveyance they happen to be using at the time?

    If you want to make a mob of small thinking people angry, write about a minority (cyclists)and include an identifier (bicycle). Then you can reflect on your own prejudices.

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  • Red Five June 7, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Is there anyway we can work this into a anti-police thread?

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  • Pete June 7, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Bicyclists: the one minority you can publicly criticize and still be politically correct.

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  • Lisa June 7, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Beth at #28: Sweeping generalization much?

    “populated mostly by folks who mostly drive cars or take transit.”

    Um. Whaaa? And you know this how?

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  • joe June 7, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    This is a tiny, tiny newsletter that is the journalistic equivalent of a bad 70’s tie. Even worse than being wrong, Classen is a bad writer. I wouldn’t worry about it. Read it for what it is: free entertainment you can’t make up.

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  • dan June 8, 2010 at 1:46 am

    Seems to me that this guy took what he thought was a clever concept of bikes as religion and just used every metaphore he could think of to illustrate it. I haven’t read anything else he’s written, but from this article he appears to be a very lazy writer.

    To Roger Geller, I’ve always admired your level headed input… I do agree that there are cyclists out there that give the rest of us a bad name, but I’m somewhat offended by your take on Portland cyclists in general. I’m sure you know most of us are civilized, respectable riders. It’s not cyclists that need to adjust our actions, but the few with character problems. All groups have bad seeds, and in large groups such as ours it’s unproductive and impossible to try to get everyone to act a certain way. It is frustrating, but just a fact of life.

    We often hear this type of negative bike opinion from the media, but overwhelmingly typical Portland residents are proud of our cycling culture and atmosphere. It’s why countless people I come across even live here or have moved here. When I cross the Hawthorne bridge or ride down the Waterfront, I’m usually impressed by my experience. We don’t have to change because lazy writers and suburbanites writing into the opinion columns have an issue with a few people.

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  • Anonymous June 8, 2010 at 6:33 am

    “Yep, it’s an OpEd piece.
    Opinion? Check
    Anecdotes? Check
    Hyperbole? Check
    Logic Free? Check

    Seriously, nothing to see here.”

    Could the same be said of this blog or any blog that takes a position on a single issue?

    When it’s your issue it an erudite discussion of an important topic of great concern to society as a whole.

    When it doesn’t fit your views, the writer is prejudiced, a bad writer, extreme, exaggerated or farcical, offers no thoughtful insight, and on and on and on.

    In my view you lose the argument when you resort to attacks against the author but fail to address any of the points made in the article.

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  • Tiffany June 8, 2010 at 7:33 am

    Honesly though, this place is a hotbed of cyclist douchery. I say that as someone who bikes around NW a lot. Running stop signs, cutting people off, passing people without so much as a “on your left” whipping down Thurman blowing through lights and 4 way stops, helmet and lightless cyclists on fixies taking the lane on 23rd….

    I know it’s a case of a few bad apples but we have a responsibility to be responsible. And as a cyclist I hate other cyclists in NW, so what does that tell you? As a pedestrian, I hate them even more.

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  • Tiffany June 8, 2010 at 7:38 am

    @joe the Examiner gets read a lot in this neighborhood. By residents and business owners. I wouldn’t discount it out of hand. The battles with Esco over air quality are being fought in the letters section.

    @Pete Are you comparing this to race relations? Seriously?

    @beth h That’s pretty much not true. The rent up here is expensive, sure, but there are a ton of cyclists. And a ton of buses. and a ton of pedestrians. A lot of these expensive houses have been owned by generations, regardless of the property value.

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  • gix June 8, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Its good to hear Allen and the Examiner feelings on bikes. I will choose to spend my money elsewhere than in the northwest neighborhoods.

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  • Tiffany June 8, 2010 at 8:35 am


    Except there are, off the top of my head, 3 locally owned bike shops in NW. There’s 21st Ave, where my husband purchased his bike. Fat Tire, which sells mountain bikes and another on Vaughn specializing in racing bikes.

    Just because Allen is angry at cyclists doesn’t mean the rest of the neighborhood is full of haters.

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  • 9watts June 8, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I wonder how much of this comes down to hearing? The differential ability to perceive surrounding traffic with your eyes _and ears_? I, who am not as scrupulous about stop signs as the foot-down full-stop contingent would like, hold the attitude that I can see/hear/smell traffic around me pretty well on side streets–you know, the one’s with a stop sign every block or two. As innumerable conversations here have borne out, stop signs are a contested and problematic symbol, and they don’t work as well in practice and for all varieties of traffic as they do in the Drivers’ Manual.
    If/once we’ve gotten a bad rap from the public for demonstrating a cavalier attitude about stop signs, perhaps all the rest doesn’t matter that much? Folks who don’t bike (much) may fail to empathize with the biker who sees no practical reason to come to a full stop and put his foot down. She slow down, looks both (all) ways, ascertains that the coasts are clear and keeps going. I don’t see anything dangerous about that, but an onlooker might.
    It is worth asking, are folks outraged by ‘dangerous looking behavior’ of people on bikes more than actually dangerous behavior by folks in cars? To my knowledge most of the complaints about bicyclists chronicled aren’t about injuries sustained but about the perception that ‘what they are doing is dangerous.’
    When I see someone on a steep hill skateboarding at what to me looks like a high rate of speed I imagine that would be dangerous–if he should meet any cross traffic–how could he possibly stop?!. But in fact, all I know is that I couldn’t safely do what he’s doing. He may be better at stopping, keeping track of what is going on around him than I’m willing to give him credit, simply because I have no experience doing what he’s doing. This is not to excuse all wild bicycling, but I do think some of this judgment of cyclists is, frankly, telling.

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  • suburban June 8, 2010 at 8:41 am

    …….”Oh dear, lost in my after dinner conversation, I totally lost track of the time, and I’ve got to get an editorial article in before we go to print!”

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  • Tiffany June 8, 2010 at 8:51 am

    @9watts Regardless of the practicality of coming to a full standing stop at lights or signs, it’s still the law. And if we want to be recognized as legitimate vehicles then we need to behave like legitimate vehicles. The point it is to give people like Allen less to bitch about.

    And I’m sure we’ve all seen cyclists barely pause at stop signs because they’ve ascertained the situation is safe. I know I have. The impression that gives to other vehicles and pedestrians is poor and adds fuel to the fire.

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  • 9watts June 8, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I understand what you’re saying, Tiffany, but I disagree. Others far more articulate than I have eloquently made the case for an Idaho stop law here on this forum. Though many folks are offended, I think the stop sign thing is a red herring.
    Public opinion does matter, and I agree that giving folks on bikes a bad name is a very real problem, but as #60 just argued, there are different directions our efforts to rectify this PR problem could take. Where I grew up (Germany)a right turn on red was/is prohibited. Yet here it is common and uncontroversial. I think we’ll move beyond demonizing bikes for appearing cavalier about stop signs some day and get on with the more important business of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

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  • jim June 8, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Its funny how so many of you stand up for a few bad cyclists.
    You never see drivers stand up for a few bad drivers

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  • 9watts June 8, 2010 at 9:35 am

    I meant dan at #52 not #60. Sorry.

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  • Tiffany June 8, 2010 at 9:37 am

    And we lost the Idaho stop law here. We still have to obey the law! We didn’t get it changed. Just because something slows us down doesn’t mean we don’t have to abide by it. We don’t have a special right to break the law because we’re on bikes.

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  • Tiffany June 8, 2010 at 9:39 am


    As an addendum, it’s that kind of attitude that angers people. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard drivers, pedestrians, police and cyclists complain about how cyclists think they’re exempt from the law.

    We really aren’t. And personally, I’d love to see more tickets handed out to make the point.

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  • 9watts June 8, 2010 at 9:40 am

    One reason is that the “bad” cyclists aren’t doing any (physical) harm. Besides it isn’t about standing up for bad behavior but disagreeing with the quick judgments, the broad brush, the ‘bikers who blow through stop signs are the problem’ point of view.

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  • Tiffany June 8, 2010 at 9:44 am

    @9watts Ever been crashed into by a bike as a pedestrian? That hurts. Maybe not death hurt, but seriously damage and can injure depending on the speed and make of the bike.

    Still not the point though.

    We. Do. Not. Have. A. Special. Right. To. Break. The. Law.

    We don’t.

    Not ever.

    This isn’t a gray area.

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  • Marc June 8, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I don’t see the connection between the people riding in Forest Park and those using cycling as a means of transportation. I’ve found those two groups have little overlap. Mr. Classen lost me halfway through when he started to equate the two and I’m still not sure what he wants me to do about the turds riding in Forest Park.

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  • tony June 8, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Let’s all really be honest, how often do you see a car come to a complete and full stop at a stop sign when there is no obvious cross traffic? I see motor vehicles roll through stops nearly as often as I see bikes do it. The cars appear to be making more of an effort because they are going faster to begin with, but they are still not making legal stops.

    I too would be all for ticketing bicyclists for dangerous behavior, but only if the fine is proportional to the violation. It makes no sense to ticket a bike rider 200+ for running a stop sign in Ladds. A bicyclist has 200 feet of oncoming visibility at the intersection there, if there is no cross traffic, it should be a 15 dollar fine for blowing that stop sign.

    Ultimately, though, I remain to be convinced that any of this is worth arguing about at all. While I won’t defend asshole cyclists, the problem on the roads, as I see it is motor vehicles with one person for 4 seats taking up space and killing/maiming people when the operator is not paying attention.

    Until someone can show me that bicycle traffic causes even 1/20th (even less than the % of traffic that is bike in PDX) the damage/death/injuries that the automobile causes, I just think it’s a smokescreen and a ridiculous argument.

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  • are June 8, 2010 at 10:29 am

    matt: “if you don’t want to be responsible for others, go live on a mountaintop.” and then taking lessons from the civil rights movement. i am pretty sure the civil rights movement did not make the progress it made by asking the rank and file to be “good negroes.” i ride responsibly, and i interact courteously with other users of public space, except when harassed or threatened. i do not intend to call out each and every road user who does not handle a situation exactly the way i might, except when my safety is directly threatened. sometimes i will tell a motorist to hang up a cell phone, and sometimes i will say the word “ninja” out loud when a cyclist blows by at night without lights. but that’s it, and i will not let roger tell me otherwise. as far as idaho stops, tiffany, watch how the motorists do it. that’s right, they scope the intersection to see if they can get away with it, and then they roll the stop.

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  • A.K. June 8, 2010 at 10:51 am


    I’m not seeing your point.

    Next time you’re out for a ride, look at how many DRIVERS don’t even come to a full stop at stop signs, or how many driver STILL talk on phones while driving.

    Nobody does things that inconvenience them, drivers are just as bad as anyone else, and I for one refuse to be an apologist for everyone else who happens to share a transportation mode with me. Cyclists do not own the title for worst road users, despite what drivers and many other cyclists like to claim.

    It’s east for everyone to “dog pile” on cyclists because of the sheer number of drivers vs. cyclists. OF COURSE there will be more anecdotes of cyclists breaking that law than drivers.

    I follow the laws in the way that I feel makes me the safest. I stop at all lights (even if I’m cruising at a nice clip), but stop signs depend on if there is traffic around or not. Auto traffic or people = stop. No other traffic = cautious roll through.

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  • El Biciclero June 8, 2010 at 11:01 am

    “It is worth asking, are folks outraged by ‘dangerous looking behavior’ of people on bikes more than actually dangerous behavior by folks in cars? To my knowledge most of the complaints about bicyclists chronicled aren’t about injuries sustained but about the perception that ‘what they are doing is dangerous.'” –9watts (#58)

    I think this is a big part of anti- or skeptical-about-bike psychology. We see someone doing something that “I would never do”, and we instantly think they are “crazy” or “stupid” for doing it. Further, if such a person is injured by my actions or someone else’s, it’s their just desserts for being “stupid”. I also think this type of psychology extends beyond perceived danger to include “perceived illegality”, such as in bahueh’s anecdote at #22. It all boils down to intolerance (conscious or subconscious) and fear of differences in others.

    “Its funny how so many of you stand up for a few bad cyclists.
    You never see drivers stand up for a few bad drivers” –jim (#62)

    Never say “never”…how about when drivers say things like, “slower drivers (going the speed limit) should move over so I can pass them (by exceeding the speed limit)”. Or, “If I have to choose between running a cyclist off the road or swerving into oncoming traffic to pass them, guess which one I’m going to choose!” Or “The vast majority of drivers I see always come to a stop at every stop sign”, when clearly they don’t (maybe a near-stop, but not a complete stop). Seems like it all depends on your definition of “bad”. I haven’t seen any comments here yet that defend blowing red lights or stop signs at speed without checking, or running down pedestrians, or any such “bad” behaviors.

    Everybody wants to justify their own behavior–drivers and cyclists both. People take comfort in the knowledge that others behave the same way they do, because it means they aren’t some kind of oddball sociopath, even if they are bending the rules or technically breaking the law. The line has to be drawn somewhere, and people will always decide for themselves how far over or behind the line they will operate. It’s all relative.

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  • Andrew June 8, 2010 at 11:29 am

    +1 for Roger Geller (comment #17) and +1 for Dave (comment #11). We need better infrastructure and more personal responsibility. Not one or the other.

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  • matt picio June 8, 2010 at 11:46 am

    “journalistic equivalent of a bad 70’s tie” – priceless.

    Wow – for once, I agree with (#62) jim. That’s a first. Well, maybe not entirely agree. When cyclists start pointing out bad motorist behavior, a group of motorists will sometimes defend the offender.

    tony (#69) – if the issue were full stops, that would be one thing, but how often do you see cyclists blow through at full speed, riding no-handed, with earphones? (heck let’s complete the stereotype and say “on a fixie”) Unless we’re all seeing the same 5 people, it’s pretty prevalent, especially in inner SE and on Vancouver/Williams. A 150lb. rider on a 20lb. bike at 10mph has the same impact force as a 2,000lb. car at 3mph. The only reason we don’t see more bike/ped injuries is because the frontal cross section of a bike is much, much smaller than a car.

    are (#70) – Read my comment again. First, the civil rights movement also didn’t say “kill all the white folks”. We can simultaneously demand our rights while looking out for our fellow road users. Second, I’m not saying you should call out every rider – I’m saying you have a responsibility to do SOMETHING, not do everything. You’re taking all of my points to the absurd extreme, and frankly, that’s the real issue – the fact that people take things to the extremes. If you live in town, you are implicitly accepting the influence of others on your life, and you conversely have the duty to influence others – perhaps you are not your brother’s keeper, but you should still tell him when he’s being a jerk – politely. At some point, everyone’s behavior impacts others and infringes on their rights. All I’m saying is that if you want to forego any sense of responsibility for your fellow riders, you have to avoid people, period.

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  • BURR June 8, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    so once again, as pointed out by #19, cyclists get tarred and feathered by the double standard of the motoring majority.

    meanwhile, roger geller (#7) repeats the pipe dream that once all cyclists obey all traffic laws all the time they will al be magically accepted on all of our roads by all motorists.

    sorry, but it ain’t gonna happen.

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  • tony June 8, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    matt picio:

    I probably see people blow through a full stop without checking at all about 3 times a week. Some of those are at dangerous intersections and some, not so much. Probably about one of those is a distracted rider.

    Thanks for the physics on the stop… and your point is somewhat supportive of ours. Firstly, Idaho stop, and the most commonly observed violation by cyclists, is a yielding maneuver. Every time I run a stop, and 90% of the stops I see run are at about 5mph on bike. Conversely, it’s damn near impossible to drive a car at 3mph or less, so I’d say a conservative 50% of auto “stops” are rolls at >3mph.

    And the point about the impacting surface underlines the argument. It is (nearly always) ridiculous to get as upset about a bike running a stop sign as a car. The potential danger and damage are so vastly different as to be nearly incomparable.

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  • spare_wheel June 8, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    “behaving poorly on narrow shared use paths in the presence of pedestrians and other cyclists”

    i have seen many close-calls on mups and in most cases the cause is a clueless pedestrian who meanders into the path of a bike or cannot understand simple directional commands. pedestrians need to pay attention on shared paths. i guess asking pedestrians to share the path is just too much to ask.

    “riding on crowded sidewalks”

    is riding on crowded mups or roads also rude? perhaps we should just stop riding entirely. it would be terrible if we offended more neighborhood cranks.

    “This doesn’t even consider the truly antisocial behaviors of cyclists like cursing at others and assaulting or threatening to assault others.”

    this is rich. i ride ~2200 miles a year and have NEVER seen cyclist curse, threaten, or assault another person. i on the other hand have been cursed at and threatened by raging cagers more times than i can remember.

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  • Brian June 8, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    As if the car driver vs cyclist crap in this town isn’t enough, now we have to drive a wedge between different cycling groups as well?

    “I’m still not sure what he wants me to do about the turds riding in Forest Park.”


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  • Patrick June 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    “I don’t see the connection between the people riding in Forest Park and those using cycling as a means of transportation.” marc #68

    How dense can you get!?!? I mean, how do you think a lot of people *get* to Forest Park?

    I enjoy mountain biking (as well as hiking and birding), and I’d love to be able to ride my bike to reach some decent trails.

    — Patrick

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  • RWL1776 June 8, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    “Among some NW Examiner readers, it will only serve to reinforce their underlying anger toward people who ride bikes, among others, it will color their perception of people who ride bikes with unfair stereotypes.”

    Oh yes, all 5 of those readers will have their attitudes reinforced………

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  • Jim Labbe June 8, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    I agree with Roger Geller’s comments above. I regularly encounter the thoughtless, rude or illegal actions of both drivers and cyclists (amidst a lot of smart, polite and legal behavior too, I would add.)

    The negligent actions of a few drivers and cyclists is annoying, disrespectful and in some cases dangerous.

    But I do think we should hold the behavior and attitude of our fellow cyclists to a higher standard. In my mind bicycling, unlike driving, isn’t about just getting from A to Z. It is about fostering a safer, saner, less-polluting, human-scaled, and ultimately more-balanced and fun transportation system…. and world.

    The negligent behavior and self-rigteous chip-on-the-shoulder attitude of too many cyclists really hinders thoughtful efforts to make bicycling as safe, accepted, and welcoming to everyone as it should be.

    It certainly is not helping convert more people to bicycling, something this city, region and planet needs very much.


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  • are June 8, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    and there we have it, the unironic use of the word “convert.” the prize goes to comment 81.

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  • Miguel June 8, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Americans are not good at having a live and let live attitude. In other lands overseas the cyclists have a much more congenial manner as they realize that we all SHARE the space that we live in.

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  • The Translator June 8, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Oh boy! This crap again!!!

    Hard to pick a side here. On one hand, you have raging old man with a media vehicle griping about those awful young bicyclists with their tight pants, rock-n-roll, and surly attitude. You and your fixie get off my lawn!!!

    On the other, the self-righteous velo avengers who have convinced themselves that their human powered, vegan fueled, Earth loving mode of transportation gives them the right to rise above the law simply because they ain’t frickin cagers!

    Wanna bet Mr. Classen “researched” BikePortland threads to come to his conclusions? Most of his article reads like this and other similar threads.

    The bike revolution – it’s a two wheeled Tea Party with scruffier beards,more tats and a better soundtrack.

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  • Anonymous June 8, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I thought the article was kind of funny. But I do take issue with Roger Geller. When one’s adrenalin is pumping and we are nearly hit by a clueless driver it is hard to think clearly and act as Mr. Geller does on his bicycle: superior, stuck-up, stick up the bu** stiff and senior citizenly.

    BTW, we don’t have the infrastructure we need, bike lanes are too narrow and crowded in summer, we can be killed or maimed at any time and we don’t get the moral and logistical support we need from our employers and co-workers. That’s why we’re a-holes.

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  • chasingbackon June 8, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Translator. nicely said. Hotter chicks too, with looser morals.
    I hope pedalpalooza has a teabag ride.

    #81 I love to ride my bike, love my bike AND it’s still about getting from A to B.

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  • resopmok June 8, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    i think mr classen’s picture included with the article would benefit by the addition of some devil horns to the forehead – perhaps there is a graphic designer willing to do a rendition and post a link to it for me?

    +1 to this being a people problem. rude and inconsiderate people use all forms of transit. we often overlook how common courteous people are for the one or two bad experiences we may have on the road that day.

    usually trolls stay under the bridges (in the comments section) but occasionally step out to the deck (write an article) to try collecting their toll. it’s best not feed them, so let’s just make fun of mr classen with a little contest to see who can make him into the most authentic satan.

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  • chrehn June 9, 2010 at 8:39 am

    WOW! Remind me not to invite Allan Classen to a party. He is a dark cloud.

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  • Elliot June 9, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Wow, what’s with all the hate on Roger? Is it somehow not ok to suggest that bicyclists obey the law? He’s not saying you need to stop, dismount and bow to every pedestrian crossing your path… he’s just saying, don’t be a jerk.

    +1 to Matt Picio’s “unless we’re seeing the same 5” comment on #74. Too many bicyclists feel entitled to toss aside common courtesy for expediency because they don’t feel it’s dangerous. Regardless of whether they’re actually endangering anyone other than themselves, it’s still rude, and it still ticks people off.

    How many cyclists pull into the crosswalk and block the intersection at lights? It’s a lot – I’d guess up to a third. It’s not all that dangerous, but it’s rude and illegal and it makes people think badly of cyclists. Repeat for each of the dozens of mild offenses cyclists seem to feel entitled to every day and the picture is complete.

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  • jim June 9, 2010 at 10:44 am

    i see a lot lower percentage of jerk riders since the influx in new riders in the last couple of years. I think the new riders are very courteous. we will see more cyclists in a week when the weather changes to nice again. It seems like there used to be more rogue cyclists than we have now. I do see a lot of blowing stopsigns because it is not enforced very often due to our city leaders saying that cyclists are just a bunch of fun people….
    My big peave is no headlights. I almost pulled my car out in front of a bike (he did have the right of way) because I didn’t see him aproaching in the dark and in the darkness of trees also. I was quite angry with him that I almost had an accident because he dosen’t feal he needs lights. I yelled at him, he still thought he was ok to not have lights though.
    I guess stop signs are my other pet peave (cars and bikes both). I live on a corner where the cross street has stop signs, I have seen a lot of car accidents and there have also been a share of bicycle accidents for not stopping at the sign. Many times there is a pack of bikes that the first ones through do look and yeild but the rest of the pack think they can just blow through and not yeild, this seems to work if they are all packed together real tiight but is just dissasterous when they are a little spread out. Now it is worse because there are so many parents riding with their kids in this manor, too spread out- and the kids don’t yeild after the parent goes through a stop sign

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  • Alexis June 9, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    @Tiffany – I also live in NW, and bike, walk, and take transit (occasionally drive). Yet somehow we are in totally different worlds. I don’t see “a hotbed” of bad behavior, and what I do see is pretty much equally distributed among modes. My greatest day-to-day annoyance is actually people trying way too hard to be nice (yielding to me when I wish they would just take their turn).

    Aside from being lightless, what exactly is wrong with your strawman helmetless fixie riders taking the lane on 23rd? 23rd is too narrow for sharing because of the parking (as are most of the roads in inner NW, and helmets (and fixies) are a personal choice.

    So much of this is about how our perception biases our reality. Drivers and cyclists too. One perceives the “other” group as worse. What would be much more useful are numbers — data about legal offenses and about which ones lead most frequently to collisions. That might actually effect some rational decisionmaking, somewhere, somehow.

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  • david June 9, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Classen has been slowly alienating his readers for years now. Wish I could stop delivery but it’s effectively junk mail.

    Lots of great local businesses advertise with him though. Speak up next time you’re in the neighborhood.

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  • Pete June 9, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Tiffany (#55): “@Pete Are you comparing this to race relations? Seriously?”

    Did you miss the sarcasm? Seriously?

    We bicyclists are indeed a minority. It boggles my mind someone could assume racism is implied by that word though. What is Portland, like a wet version of Berkeley or something?

    (BTW Tiffany, please don’t assume I’m not a member of a minority race).

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  • Pete June 9, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Translator – LMAO!!

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  • Ellen June 10, 2010 at 8:41 am

    I read that paper from front to back every time it comes out. One, I learn about a lot of great stuff in the neighborhood, but, two, the editorials and letters give me a giggle here and there. It’s kinda like our neighborhood seedy tabloid sometimes. 😉

    But, I’ll admit, I nodded my head in agreement with some of it. I don’t understand people’s shock that others feel this way about cyclists, or that you should get some special exemption from criticism, because you are on a bike.

    Cyclists rip on drivers viciously all the time, using such ridiculous hyperbole your head wants to spin. SUCH huge generalizations are thrown around, because you see drivers that break the laws when you are out there, and you group everyone together.

    Well, plenty of people see cyclists break the laws on a daily basis too. I know I do. You generalize drivers. You are getting generalized back. What’s not to understand the logic in that? Maybe stop denying the reason for it, but actually accept it, and you wouldn’t see this PR problem you have.

    As a pedestrian/mass transit user, who doesn’t drive, all I know…is that I dodge idiotic/law breaking/could care less about my right of way, drivers and cyclists each and every day. Both camps pretty much suck, as far as I’m concerned. It’s only the cyclists who have ever yelled at, flipped me off or threatened me though.

    You got a PR problem. Yep.

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  • jim June 10, 2010 at 11:30 am

    When was the last time you ever saw a bike yield to a person walking in a crosswalk? You live dangerously if there is a bike headed your way.

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    • J.R. June 10, 2010 at 12:10 pm

      This morning was the last time I saw a person on a bike yield to a pedestrian. Happens repeatedly, as it should, in my experience. Where do you live?
      I think the more interesting question is when was the last time you saw enforcement or education of any traffic laws? Or, even more impactful: respectful education of scofflaws by other people using the same mode of transportation?
      I disagree that walkers live dangerously or should live in fear of people on bikes. Pedestrians need to pay attention too since they are moving the slowest of all modes (except streetcars) and will have more incursions than any other.
      Vulnerable though we are when we walk, it’s easier for a person on foot to time their interaction with another faster moving vehicle by modulating their speed than it is for the faster moving vehicle to adjust.
      By lowering speed limits to a more human scale and encouraging respectful modal interaction, we (ODOT, Portlanders, the City, your neighborhood association) can help minimize your fearful existence.
      I am curious if you feel threatened on a crowded sidewalk by those walking faster than you.

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  • kgb June 10, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    How many people in the world have died from being hit by a bicycle this year.

    How many people have died by being hit by a car?

    Do you see how your fears are irrational?

    Oh to answer your question about five minutes ago on my way back from lunch. I also witnessed several people in nice dry cars fail to yield for pedestrians standing in the pouring down rain.

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  • El Biciclero June 10, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    “When was the last time you ever saw a bike yield to a person walking in a crosswalk?”

    This morning I saw myself do it–and it wasn’t even a marked crosswalk!

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  • Ellen June 11, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    It’s not irrational fear, KGB. Maybe pedestrians are just learning that some cyclists are assholes like some drivers, when it comes to respecting others on the road, and have become more cautious, to stay out of their way, when they plow through stop signs and lights. It’s my mistrust of cyclists that generally keeps me from being ran over.

    That’s not what kept me from being hit the other day, though. It was hearing the ‘whoosh’ of air to my left, as I stepped off the curb for my walk light, and managed to jump out of the way as the woman on the bike came flying around the corner, hugging the curb, speeding thru my crosswalk. It wasn’t because she obeyed the rules of the road that I wasn’t struck, it was because I managed to jump out of the way in time. Those thoughts of pain, injury, hitting my head on the curb…all those things…totally irrational, according to you.

    And you wonder why people aren’t worshiping you all…it’s almost funny.

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