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Armed with video camera, man takes neighborhood traffic safety into his own hands

Posted by on October 15th, 2013 at 10:19 am

Southeast Portland resident Tony Tapay takes the safety and livability of his neighborhood streets seriously. His citizen activism usual takes the form of calls and emails to the Bureau of Transportation requesting speeding enforcement. But there’s one issue he’s gotten so frustrated about due to a lack of action and response from both the violators (an ice cream truck company) and the City, that he recently took the matter into his own hands.

The issue is a common one in Portland: Where PBOT has created neighborhood greenways, they often install median islands that prohibit people in cars from making turns onto certain streets. Whenever these diverter treatments are installed, they come with big “Do Not Enter: Except for Bicycles” signs. However, these diverters often leave enough room for some motor vehicles to still get through — and of course some people think the law doesn’t apply to them.

That’s what really bugs Tony Tapay. Here’s how he describes what happened:

“So there’s this ice cream truck that enters Gladstone at 42nd. The intersection is a classic greenway motor vehicle diverter with two big “Do Not Enter” signs. But he doesn’t care. He does this every week. I’ve called the company several times and left them messages asking them to have this guy respect the neighborhood. Never got a response.

Just 15 minutes ago I heard his chimes and knew he was coming and knew what he was going to do. When I started shooting video, a car came down the street and stopped at the intersection and when the driver of the car realized that the truck driver wanted to enter against the signs, the car driver wouldn’t move and gestured to him to go to another intersection. They were in a standoff until the ice cream truck guy parked and made (or pretended to make) a call on his phone. Then the car left. At this point I had walked down to the intersection and the ice cream driver thought he was clear to go. Then I stepped in his way.”

Tony emailed this video to use about 4 weeks ago and we’re happy to report hat after he posted them on the truck driver’s company website, he got a call back. “He seemed genuinely concerned and promised it wouldn’t happen again.”

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40 thoughts on “Armed with video camera, man takes neighborhood traffic safety into his own hands”

  1. Avatar Bill Walters says:

    You go, Tiananmen Tony! Thanks on behalf of someone who uses that intersection, though earlier than typical ice-cream-truck hours.

  2. Avatar Rob says:

    Man, that’s fodder for a poster: photo of a man facing down an ice cream truck.

  3. Avatar kww says:

    If it happens again, post flyers to the whole neighborhood about how this truck drivers makes kids unsafe. Hit-em in the wallet.

  4. Avatar spencer says:

    NICE WORK!!! More people need to actually do this to make change. Dont let ANYONE get away with this behavior

  5. Avatar Ethan says:

    Well done.

  6. Avatar Mark says:

    You’re awesome, Tony.

  7. Avatar Sho says:

    Good job Tony keep it up

  8. Avatar BIKELEPTIC says:

    Hah! And it’s an ice cream truck! In THEORY that should be the picture of friendly idyllic summer afternoon strolls, slow Dutch style biking, pedestrians, and motor vehicles working together. In your head you see a nice little 1950s picture perfect scene. Then this. Hilarious. In the way that the driver is an a-hat. Get some brightly reflective bollards on that greenway!

    Why isn’t the Ladd Circle St Police brigade tailing this bozo?!

  9. Avatar David says:

    Question for readers of this blog:

    I ride NE Going St westbound every morning, and every morning there’s a motorcyclist who cuts through the diverter at 15th. I know that motorcycles aren’t supposed to cut the the bicycle diverters, but it doesn’t really bug me personally. Should I be annoyed? Should I “You shall not pass!” like Tony did next time?

    1. Avatar dan says:

      I’m with you – I don’t really care if a motorcyclist takes advantage of a diverter. It would bug me if they rode in a bike lane with an unsafe speed differential with cyclists.

    2. Avatar Chris I says:

      The bike lanes in Amsterdam are full of mopeds. Compared to that, this behavior sounds pretty harmless.

      1. Avatar Steve says:

        The mopeds are not bad. They are not allowed to go very fast and they don’t take up the entire cycle path like this ice cream truck.

  10. Avatar GlowBoy says:

    Awesome. Go get ’em Tony!

  11. Heck yeah, fight back!

  12. Avatar feralcow says:

    I have seen this happen at least a dozen times at SE 13th and SE Spokane. The diverter is not tall enough, and just about any car can drive right over it. Traffic backs-up on SE 13th and people just turn right onto SE Spokane.

  13. Avatar wsbob says:

    Tony…with the ice cream truck seller, nice going! Guy’s got to make a living, but doesn’t need to be a jerk about it.

    About the speeding cars issue you’ve had on your neighborhood’s streets, I hope the recent bikeportland story on Ted Buehler’s suggestions for dealing with that type situation, was inspiration, or at least some help to you.

  14. Avatar JohnS. says:

    Why an ice cream truck in the first place. A progressive ice cream company would have a custom Metrofiets decked out instead.

  15. Avatar Racer X says:

    Yes, news too me too…as I thought ALL ice cream was now delivered by bakfiets in Portland. You learn something new every day.

  16. Didn’t any one notice that when he left he drove in the bike lane?

  17. Avatar Admiral Longpour says:

    I think this is warranted:

    1. tonyt tonyt says:

      A little known fact, that song IS about me. Or so I’m told.

  18. Avatar indy says:

    In theory we can all do this for speeders in our neighborhoods using Citizen’s arrest techniques.

    In reality: Death. 🙁

  19. That makes sense. Tony Tapay is a 2007 baddest badass award winner: check out this video from the archives (with a guest appearances by Jonathan Maus, Tad Bamford, and Greg Sanders).

  20. Avatar Joe Partridge says:

    Nice work!

  21. Avatar Adam says:

    I think the real problem here is that you can DRIVE over a diverter. If you can DRIVE OVER a diverter, then it rather ceases to function as a diverter, or have I missed something obvious?

    Our diverters need bollards on them, no ifs, no buts.

    Oh, and if anyone thinks motorists pretending diverters don’t exist is not a common occurrence, I highly suggest you go plant your a** at SE 20th & Ankeny for ten minutes and watch the depressingly high number of vehicles illegally driving over that diverter.

  22. Avatar Chris Shaffer says:

    The contrast between our “diverters” and the mechanized diverter in the Groningen video is startling:

  23. Hey, go to the Ice Cream Express website (, and send them a message of disapproval. I just did that, telling them that I depend on these diverters for my transportation.

  24. What stood out to me was the way the guy in the truck clearly saw someone in front of him on foot and DID NOT STOP until he was right on top of the person on foot. Assuming the intimidation factor of a mass of motorized metal would clear the way for him, apparently. Cheers to Tony for not being intimidated.

    1. Avatar BIKELEPTIC says:

      Very true Spencer! That could be construed as “menacing” or “attempted assault with a deadly weapon” – definitely intimidation. Why hasn’t the dude who has so clearly broken the law and driven soooo unsafely lost his license?!

      1. tonyt tonyt says:

        Because he’s not rolling stop signs in Ladd’s Addition.

    2. tonyt tonyt says:

      Yup. I mentioned that to the manager I spoke with. As the person who was standing there it was obvious that he intended to intimidate me.

      1. Avatar K'Tesh says:

        With the video, you could make the argument… a nice little citizens initiated citation might go a long way in stopping this kind of behavior in others.

  25. Avatar Joe Suburban says:

    Nice! This jerk does this every week; has his employer’s name and phone # on the van, then mouths off on video…genius!

  26. Avatar jim says:

    This guy must just hate ice cream trucks with a passion.

  27. Avatar Stretchy says:

    Now if we can shame the portland police bureau into stopping their illegal parking on SW Madison just before the Hawthorne bridge.

  28. Avatar Steve says:

    Why are there no bollards set up at the entrance of this green-way? I mean, you expect people to obey the signs, but still.

    1. tonyt tonyt says:

      But bollards wouldn’t have done anything to stop him. You’ll notice that he fits neatly into the outbound lane.

      1. So, driving aggressively so as to intimidate someone on foot, AND driving the wrong way down what is basically a one-way lane. Yep, that’s someone you want driving a van designed to attract swarms of children.

  29. Avatar Zaphod says:

    Thank you. This made my day.

  30. Avatar jd says:

    Shoot. My kid and I get ice cream from that guy every now and then. I hope he’s learned that traffic laws in general are there to keep people safe, not just that he can’t do that one specific thing he got caught doing. I’ve never seen him drive unsafely in my neighborhood, but he is going about 5 m.p.h. the whole time…

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