Dan Christensen, the TriMet bus operator who wrote an essay titled, “Portland: Kill this bicyclist!” on his personal blog is back behind the wheel.
After learning of the post on July 22nd, TriMet placed Christensen on administrative leave and notified the District Attorney and the Portland Police. According to TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch, Christensen was back on the job as of last night. In addition to some time off, Fetsch says Christensen will get a “refresher training class” behind the wheel with a TriMet trainer. Fetsch also said Christensen will receive “appropriate discipline” but said specifics of that disciplinary action “is privileged and not releasable.”
Reached via phone this morning, Christensen said he doesn’t necessarily regret what he wrote, but admits he could have, “Done a better job making it clearer what I was going for.”
When asked whether he feels the thoughts that led to his detailed and emotional post about the rage he felt after seeing a man on a bike ride dangerously on SE Hawthorne Blvd., Christensen said, “The major impact [of what he saw] was the day of. After that, it sort of rolled off my back.”
Christensen wrote the post one month after the incident occurred, which doesn’t make it seem like it simply “rolled off his back.” When I asked him about that, he tried to explain why he wrote the post. “I want the cyclists and the car drivers, and everybody to realize that it’s life and death out there… When you’re a bicyclist and you think, ‘Oh, I can make this’, if that’s the phrase in your head, trouble follows.”
“When I was saying, ‘Portland, kill this bicyclist’ I meant everybody plays a part in somebody getting injured like that. If you’re bicycling and you see somebody do something crazy and dangerous and you say nothing, you helped hurt him. People have a level of responsibility because it’s the cyclist that’s going to get hurt, not the bus driver, not the car driver, etc… It’s unfair, physics are unfair, but people have to say, ‘Hey, don’t do that’.”
When asked for specifics about what the man on the bike did to have such an effect on Christensen, he said it was an “exceptional” combination of risky moves. “It wasn’t what I’d call random error or a mistake or a chance encounter… I’ve seen people do dumb things and I’ve seen people do dangerous things near my bus, but this was a combination, this was a holistic encounter of bad.”
With his time off, Christensen said he got his bike fixed and he’s now riding around town. “If you see somebody that looks like the Hindenburg on a toothpick, that’d be me.”