A Portland woman who concedes she was illegally biking on the private Cement Road to Swan Island with her 6-year-old daughter says she was “bullied” by a railroad police officer and has filed a formal complaint.
“As I explain in my complaint, I do not mean to suggest that I was in the right riding the Cement Road,” Diana Rempe of North Portland wrote in an email Wednesday to Portland Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, Swan Island Transportation Management Association Director Sarah Angell and BikePortland. “I understand fully that it crosses Union Pacific property. However, I do believe strongly that there is no excuse for the intimidating bullying my 6 year old daughter and I experienced from Officer Bender of Union Pacific. I am a middle aged, white woman with a lot of privilege and that guy really scared me. I can only imagine how he might treat someone less system savvy than me.”
The Cement Road is a flat, direct connection between Swan Island and north Portland. It’s privately owned by UPRR and off-limits to public use; but it has been the subject of recent negotiations with the City of Portland because of its potential as a great biking route and possible key link in the North Portland Greenway. It’s also an ongoing source of tension between the railroad, which wants to protect itself from liability for any injuries, and local bike riders, especially the dozens who use it regularly to commute to jobs on Swan Island.
With Daimler Trucks North America, already the island’s biggest employer and one of the city’s top destinations for bike commuters, preparing to increase its workforce, the city hopes the Cement Road can someday become a safe, legal public access through the rail yard.
Here’s the full text of Rempe’s complaint:
It was dusk in January 23rd and I was riding my bike home with my 6 year old daughter. I ride a front-loading cargo bike, with her in the front. We had just left her dance class which takes place on North Randolph, just south of the Union Pacific railyard. I decided to ride home via the Cement Road as it was extremely windy and I wanted to avoid N. Interstate and Greeley, if possible. After riding through the railyard I had left the property and was next to the Fed Ex building just before Channel Road when a person in an SUV turned on their lights and pulled me over.
I stopped and Officer Bender told me I was not supposed to be on the railroad property. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I was surprised at his aggressive tone from the beginning. I immediately apologized and told him I understood, but I had seen others riding there and thought it was at least tacitly allowed. This seemed to make him very angry, because he immediately began berating me, saying something like “just because other people are breaking the law doesn’t mean you should.” He then demanded ID. I again apologized, saying that I didn’t think I had my wallet with me as I had run out the door a bit late to take her to dance class.
This appeared to really anger the officer. He began saying again and again, something like “you have no ID? so, when you and your child get hit by a car no one will be able to identify you.” His repetition of this phrase and his tone made me quite uncomfortable and I apologized again, explaining that it was an oversight. He continued to say it and seemingly became more irate.
I then began to give him my personal information, but after providing my name and birthdate he demanded my address. His demeanor made me very uncomfortable and I told him I did not feel comfortable giving him all of my private information. This seemed to REALLY make him angry and he began threatening me with handcuffs and arrest. By now my 6 year old daughter was terrified and I just kept trying to placate the officer. I gave him the information he wanted but he kept repeating that he would handcuff and arrest me.
I then asked for his card. He refused. I asked for his full name and badge number. He refused. I wrote down his name off his badge. I asked for his supervisor’s name. He said “Tom” but refused to give me Tom’s entire name. From his affect I could tell he was furious and I felt quite scared. I also was afraid that now that he had my personal information, he might use it to retaliate for any report I might make. After thinking about it that night, however, I decided to go ahead and file a report.
I am not in any way claiming that I did not know that the Cement Road was on Union Pacific property. As I immediately said to the officer, I knew I was on the property, but chose to ride the Cement Road anyway. I was (and am) completely responsible for disregarding the posted signs explaining that it is Union Pacific property.
However, this action does not explain or excuse the kind of treatment my daughter and I received from Officer Bender. We both felt threatened, bullied and afraid. I am not asking that the officer be sanctioned, so much as trained to work with the public in a respectful and non-threatening manner. I also hope that Union Pacific will ensure in any way possible that the officer does not retaliate against me and my family, as he is in possession of my name, address and birthdate. This may seem unlikely, but given the way he approached us and the way in which his temper escalated during our encounter, I remain concerned.
We’ve contacted Union Pacific to ask for their comment and will update this story if and when we hear back.
UPDATE 4:00 pm: UP spokeswoman Calli Hite responds with the following: “Union Pacific has received the complaint and is conducting an investigation. Our special agents are dedicated to public safety — and a primary component of this is deterring illegal trespassing on railroad property. For their safety, we remind bikers and pedestrians to not trespass on railroad property, and to only cross railroad tracks at public crossings.”
Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.
Wow. Beautifully written letter. I hope she (and all of us) get as thoughtful a response.
Sounds like she was accosted AFTER leaving private property, and I wonder what the railroad officer’s legal right is to enforce their trespassing laws in public rights-of-way. It sounds to me like impersonating a peace officer, which is a very serious offense. I’m no legal expert however.
I was wondering about that — can a Union Pacific security guard actually “arrest” someone?
Yes, I believe a railroad cop CAN arrest you.
My understanding is there’s a special (and somewhat disturbing) federal law granting railroad police the authority to arrest citizens and refer them for prosecution. Effectively making the only fully-empowered PRIVATE police force in the country.
In ordinary trespassing cases people are usually fined a few hundred bucks and charged with an ordinance violation, but I’ve heard of people trespassing on railroad property being fined upwards of $5000 and charged with criminal trespass, which can dog you the rest of your life. I think some of this was covered in a BikePortland story last summer about the SE 8th/11th/12th crossing closures for MAX construction.
Uncle Pete can mess you up.
OK yes, this is covered by the link posted below by Paul.
Railroad is a second federal government…. But without elections.
It is more of a detain but they can issue citations and turn you over to the local authorities. Hence the verbal/physical beatings they are known for. They earned the nickname “bulls” for sure.
Union Pacific Police is an actual law enforcement agency, albeit rather unconventional. To quote the Wikipedia article,
This means he is authorized as a law enforcement officer, but is also therefore obligated to provide identification when requested.
Thanks for the clarification!
OREGON LAW states that you are NOT required to provide any “officer” your MOTOR Vehicle Driver’s License if you are not operating a motor vehicle. … You are, however, required to truthfully tell them your name. Any more than that, I’m not sure.
RR cops aren’t rent a cops, they are full fledged cops with all arresting authority that city cops have. Imagine it this way, university cops have every right to go off university property and make an arrest, same thing with RR cops. Railroader in another part of the country….
Railroad cops are notorious for being aggressive and (by rumor) violent. I also had a stressful encounter with one on the railroad before the “Springwater on the Willamette” was built. He was so agitated that his hands were twitching with rage as he talked with me.
I heard they are really vikings in disguise. Probably take rage-enhancing performance drugs and all that, too…
This saddens and angers me. Well composed letter I might add.
Officer Bender gives out $6250.00 citation to a guy carrying his bike across the tracks: http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?1,1231044
Is that a problem that the officer was doing his job and upholding the law?
the supreme law of the land empowers me to:
1) have a problem with this officer.
2) have a problem with the antiquated law he is wrongly upholding.
What is a problem that he was unwilling to give her his identifying information.
I’ve searched myself and can only find that this was the maximum fine for the cited offense. I can’t find anything that says what the judge actually decided. Anyone else have better google-fu?
I’m not justifying anything here but as a 20 yr RR employee I can say that RR companies are soooooo tired of trespassers. When we cut them in half it shuts evvvverything down and that is extremely expensive, figure 10 grand an hr for every train on hold. So railroads have became fairly harsh with tickets and the such. In addition, even though someone is on RR property illegally and we happen to cut a leg off or whatever they end up filing a lawsuit. As a result the RR has the expense of defending itself and the such. I guess at the end of the day if you don’t want a ticket then don’t trespass. Lastly, in my 20 years as an engineer I’ve killed 3 people, 1 of them a trespasser…kinda tired of it…not a lot of sympathy for a $6250 ticket.
OK, fair enough. But being a law enforcement officer means that you’re dealing with people’s misunderstanding, or willful ignorance of the law on a daily basis. Dealing with it in a professional, courteous manner is your JOB! You don’t get the latitude to simply be “tired” of it and act like an asshat.
Well I’m not a RR cop, just an engineer and actually I do have the latitude to be tired of trespassers… kinda tired of killing them. I pedal to work every time I go in and I have to tell ya…if you don’t know railroading it’s pretty easy to get killed.
Abuse of power? No way. Next your going to tell me that policing and security type jobs attract small minded people who dream of exerting power over others.
What’s next? Tall tales of police beating a person who suffers from schizophrenia to death on camera and getting acquitted.
I do like that she pointed out that she was white, although I think it should be noted that her clothes were not disheveled. I know white people who have had their jaws broken by yard bulls. This seems like something to write a letter about and then get politely swept under the rug.
What’s the end game here? An apology letter? Reforming the protocol for yard bulls interacting with citizens?
The fact that she is physically ok puts this in the same category as getting cyclists licensed. That category is “go ahead and try”.
“But railroads enjoy special legal privileges dating back to the 19th
century. For one, railroad companies are authorized to hire their own
police officers. And trespassing on any yard, bridge, line or tunnel
belonging to the railroads is automatically considered first-degree
criminal trespass, Engle says.
Neither law enforcement nor transportation agencies at the state
level have jurisdiction over UP cops, and the company is notoriously
tight-lipped about internal matters.”
Railroad police are *actual* police. I think this is a hold-over from the old robber baron when the railroads got whatever they wanted from the government. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railroad_police#United_States
It’s an overreach by officer Bender (whose personality apparently matches Bender from Futurama), but I see the other side of the argument why railroads need their own police. In some rural areas, there’s no law enforcement for miles. And have you seen the number of vagrants that walk the tracks between Albina Trainyards and the Burnside Bridge? They certainly couldn’t count on Portland Police to address that…
Not to mention the need for cops on the trains that travel through multiple counties and states.
I’ve had difficult exchanges with police in the past and I have had good ones. A friend recently forwarded this link to me…It’s a nice info graphic on how to deal with and communicate with the police:
So Diana goes where she knows it’s illegal and gets caught. What was she expecting? To be greeted with flowers? It SUCKS to be confronted by an authority figure who acts unpleasant, but if you are trespassing on private property you would have to figure there would be SOME kind of consequence for getting caught. I’ll bet that Diana will think a lot harder before trespassing again on the railroad property, and maybe this is exactly what officer Bender was trying to instill.
I’m not trying to slam Diana, or justify threatening behavior by an authority figure, but if someone gets caught doing something that they know is illegal a stern talking to sure beats a fine or getting arrested.
“a stern talking to sure beats a fine or getting arrested”
I read Diana’s letter as acknowledging a clear distinction between her trespass and the intimidating, threatening tone of the officer. I know nothing about how the railroad police conducts its business but it seems to me (and I think Diana was suggesting this as well) that the matter could easily (and probably should have been) handled without the ugly shouting by the railroad dude.
Nothing she did deserves his anger.
I’d rate that sort of police protection as right up there with staking out Ladd’s Circle.
And how it got filed below 9watts I have no idea.
Don’t forget that you are only hearing one side of the story. If I were trying to elicit sympathy, I, too, would make sure to note how scared I felt how mean the officer was. I’m not saying he didn’t do what she said, but I’d wager that his story would differ considerably from hers. Just because she rides a bike doesn’t mean she’s in the right (or wrong).
No thanks for the ongoing judgment. There are a lot of unjust laws in this country. Our history is full of them. We need to have an unjust law museum, and put you in a museum for people who take cheap shots on the internet.
I invite you to come meet with me, Diana and our kids. We can video tape you trying to instill your wisdom. Mr./Ms. Whyat I ask you to make an apology for your lecture. if not,, please call me and setup a meeting with me and Ms. R. (414) 465-8805
Security Guard Bender and Officer Passadore must be on the same anti-cyclist racquetball team or something. Whacking balls together just thinking about all the unnecessary fines they’re tolling due to what has amounted to angry cancerous lives.
that’s when I get on the phone and call a real cop and voice my concern that I may be dealing with somebody impersonating an officer and need immediate assistance…
Bingo!! That is your legal right..
Reaching into your pocket in front of an enraged cop…what could go wrong?
Although you do need to give your personal information to an officer IF they are charging you with an actual crime, the cop’s failure to fully identify himself as a copwould have made me reluctant too.
And that’s pretty much the crux of this case: without his refusal to disclose his cop-identity, this would just be a garden variety story of a cop being unnecessarily dickish. Something that non-privileged and/or non-white people often have to deal with.
There is also the issue that private Cement Road is by far the least-dangerous route to a good chunk of North Portland, and we need to keep working on fixing that. We have a long way to go before we are the bike-friendly paradise that much of the world imagines us to be.
Railroad companies are overgrown regional monopolies that serve a critical national transportation need.
SO critical in fact that it may be far past time to make parts of this mess a government function.
If security is really so life or death why don’t we have personnel that are accountable to the TSA or DHS? What makes us think private security of railroad companies is any more likely to be trustworthy than what we’ve seen TSA security agents fubar over the last 13 years?
If the railyards in Portland or elsewhere need to be secured like a military base then they need to fence the property and put up barbed wire.
I appreciate the humanizing nature of the complaint. In legal matters it is too easy to paint a person as being in the wrong and somehow forfeit to any consideration or decency expected by lawful citizens. The officer, as a person, is unwarranted to threaten another person who is cooperative, acknowledging of the law, not a threat, and seeking a solution. He could have completed his job and its obligations without threatening another person. It simply is not what we expect from the conduct of a (benefit-of-the-doubt) properly socialized adult. His flat refusal to provide identification suggests an acknowledgement of excessive conduct.
To clarify a point.. Citizens and non-citizens alike as people, humans, individuals, etc. *DO* deserve a base level of compassion, decency, and consideration irregardless of their legal standing.
Diana. I am so sorry for the trauma to you and your kid. There’s no excuse for the lecture and abuse he delivered. Under stress it is very hard to be a self advocate. I try to practice this one qestion. “Am I free to go?”
If the answer is no, then there the burden becomes very high for the abusive cop.
I bet this results in the end of any biking on Cement Road.
Freight railroads can impose significant personal fines. Diana will be lucky if all she gets is a stern talking to. I would expect a stiff fine as well.
My grandfather was a railroad dick for U.P. He was deputized in every county along the right of way from Omaha to LA. That’s how it used to be done, the Railroad Police (or detective in my grandfather’s case) were deputized in whichever county or counties they usually worked in.
No comment on Diana’s case, I wasn’t there. As usual, the discretion of the “officer” is crucial.
shirtsoff said: “His flat refusal to provide identification suggests an acknowledgement of excessive conduct.”
I think this is worth repeating. It shoots holes in Mr. Bender’s argument “just because other people are breaking the law doesn’t mean you should.” I suspect officer bender only wants to be in alignment with the law when it is convenient for him.
This kind of treatment is unacceptable. I find Ms. Rempe’s response quite reasonable.
Mayor Hales and Commissioner Novick, please act quickly with everything in your power to change the Cement Road to a viable safe and legal transportation route.
It is not hard to make the case that Ms. Rempe was much safer riding her cargo bike with child along the Cement Road (along the edge of the rail yard with very little traffic) than she would have been riding up the hill to Greeley or Interstate Avenue with it’s speeding truck and auto traffic with no physical separation.
This is exactly right. Neither Greeley nor the uphill lane on Interstate are safe routes for anyone on a bike, let alone someone with a 6 year old in a Bakfiets. The deficiencies of the bike facilities on those streets needs addressing regardless of the future status of Cement Road, but otherwise lawful citizens who are taking a given route because it is demonstrably safer should absolutely NOT be criminally charged and fined, leat of all by the law-unto-itself entity of a railroad corporation whose form and culture is quite literally a relic of the 19th century.
No ID while trespassing? Then complain about being bullied?
Lucky not to visit the local jail.
THAT would’ve been GREAT press. No law requires one to carry “ID” while bicycling.
But it does make contacting loved ones in the event of an accident (or body ID) a little easier. I always carry ID when I leave the house alone. Can’t imagine a good reason not to. Good sense doesn’t need to be legislated.
You can be detained until they identify you. That can be a slow process.
“you have no ID? so, when you and your child get hit by a car no one will be able to identify you.”
Threatening vehicular assault, eh, Officer B? Way to stay classy, UP.
That does sound threatening presented as such. A gentler wording though would be a great point.
Yes. Also in reply to rainbike’s post just above, that ID doesn’t need to be a driver’s license unless you’re driving. My phone’s screensaver has my ID and contact, and there’s an ICE in my contact list. I keep a calling card on me. My helmet has my name and home phone inside it. My wife wears an alert bracelet on her left wrist (that’s where EMTs look first). I doubt any of those would have placated officer Bender.
Wait you trespassed on private property and upset your “white privilege” didn’t get you out of trouble? And is your skin color even mentioned in this story to begin with? Go cry me a river.
Where did she say anything indicating she thought her “white privilege” would or should have gotten her out of trouble? I think you’ve misunderstood her intentions behind mentioning she’s white. I hope you will read the article and her letter again.
f* that guy to the max. I rode through there all the time to/from work. I’ve crashed twice on those RR X. I’ve gotten many flats riding through that pothole/gravel pit. 6 yo or no 6 yo: Ride at your own risk.
You don’t sound like you learn very well from past experiences. Maybe that is part of the reason it is not intended for public use?
Just FYI. I have deleted several of your comments. You are free to share your opinions, but you are not free to insult other people and I will simply delete any comment that I feel is mean or insulting of other commenters. Thanks.
I’m curious why you didn’t delete the parent comment. “F*** that guy…” sound pretty insulting to me.
Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I’m considering whether or not to allow that comment. Like I’ve said in the past, I do not moderate comments based on any set of hard/fast rules. It’s all about context and tone and other stuff. I do often miss mean comments so I appreciate when readers flag them for me.
Whoa. What is with the black and white view of the law, & the punitive streak in your comments? Did you stop and ask yourself why there are negotiations to make this particular road public? Or, for that matter, how the railroad ended up ‘owning’ this piece of land to begin with? Laws are imperfect, change, get thrown out because (in principle) we get a little better at codifying fairness and justice over time. And this doesn’t even touch on the guy’s anger management issues which I thought this was about.
Jane: Really. He is employed by the RR to protect RR property, employees, etc.. Not unlike police, sherriff, etc.
He was doing just that.By her own admission she knowingly and purposely tresspased. In other words broke the law. He has the legal right to arrest her, but didn’t. He broke no law. At worst, he could use a class in anger mgmt., and then onlyif he is given the upportunuty to voice his side of the incident. Or of course folks can choose not to trespass and avoid this type of confrontation altogether.
” so, when you and your child get hit by a car no one will be able to identify you.”
if that account is correct i think a case could be made with filing harassment charges:
Actually he has a good point. Perhaps cyclists should be required to carry some sort of official identification.
Right. What’s next? Pedestrians required to dress a certain way so people can keep speeding?
but can you imagine the decrease in “accident”-associated fatalities if peds wore electro-luminescent composite reactive armor.
Perhaps pedestrians should then, too–there have been a lot more of them run over lately than cyclists. What one has to ask oneself is, “Who is doing all this ‘running-over’?” When you can answer that question, then it becomes clear who “should” be required to carry ID.
But if we want to be nit-picky, drivers are not technically required to carry ID, per se, but they are required to carry proof that they know how to operate a multi-ton piece of equipment with death-inflicting power; much the same way that one must have a license to pack a concealed handgun. The only way to prove that you are actually the licensed individual is usually via some photo ID. It happens to be built into a driver’s license.
Calls for Licensing/Registering bikes are nothing more than sour grapes from motorists who feel “burdened” by the obligations incurred by their “need” to throw tons of metal around in public. I know, “carrying ID” isn’t necessarily the same thing as having a license, but requiring it of cyclists based on the rationale of identifying the victim of an impact with a motor vehicle makes less sense than requiring it of pedestrians, who are “impacted” much more frequently. So if we apply the rationale rationally and just require everyone to carry ID at all times (you know, for safety!), we’re one step away from a “Paperss pleece!” police force, and why? All so people can continue to drive incompetently without consequences.
I don’t feel much sympathy in this case either. She was knowingly trespassing, got caught, and got yelled at from a security guard. Good grief. Sorry that it happened, but not worth a complaint letter or article in my opinion.
It’s article-worthy for the reason stated in the article: the city hopes that this will become a public access thoroughfare. It sounds like that’s going to take some adjusting of the UP mindset in a major way.
Uh-oh you are disagreeing with Maus’s views, you might get your posts removed.
“I am a white. Middle aged woman with considerable privilege…. All empathy lost right there. As if that makes any difference in how you should be treated.
As others have stated, I wasn’t there and haven’t heard Bender’s side of the story, so I can’t comment on who, if anybody, acted inappropriately. You are, however, missing Ms. Rempe’s point. She is not suggesting she deserves to be treated differently. Ms. Rempe is acknowledging the existence of white and class privilege and that people are in fact treated differently on these bases. Her point is that if she was treated so poorly by this officer, how is he treating people less privileged? That’s a legitimate concern if Bender is indeed the bully that Rempe believes his is.
So because she’s white and got treated a certain way, she and you assume that non-whites would be treated worse?
He could treat everyone exactly the same way.
Pretty big assumption you are making with regards to the UP Police officer.
Who is really the bigot in this??
I made no assumptions, including about what kind of person Bender is or if Rempe’s version of their interaction is accurate. I do know that bullies tend to pick on those who are least able to defend themselves or be defended by others. Those who are less privileged, as we are using the term here, than Rempe are by definition at more risk from bullies acting under the color of authority.
It’s possible that if Mr. Bender is in fact a bully, that he is an equal opportunity bully, but it is not unreasonable to question whether somebody who would bully a white middle class woman in the company of her young child might behave worse to someone more vulnerable. That’s what bullies do.
Well, if she were less privileged she’d maybe be a little less SHOCKED that cops sometimes yell(!!!) at you when being caught trespassing…
Judging by her letter and what she’s said to Bike Portland, I don’t think she was shocked at the officer’s behavior.
Seems like he was being nice by issuing a warning. Moving forward he should just write tickets for everyone for trespassing.
Moving forward he should be fired and not allowed to perform any law enforcement type role in the future as he clearly has issues with mental illness that prevent him from performing his assigned role correctly.
Just to follow up on my comment.. I am in no way making light of mental illness. It is a serious issue that our society is still trying to come to terms with as we progress and evolve as a people. That said, I believe law enforcement, as a requirement of their appointed duty, should be held to a higher standard than the rest of the population – mentally, physically, emotionally, morally. If a person falls short, as this officer has shown he does, they should not be considered fit for that duty.
Nor should he work with children.
Yet she’s the one teaching her child (by example) that it’s OK to trespass.
According to other comments in this thread, the idea behind the anti-trespassing law is to prevent people from bringing themselves to harm. I like to think we humans can judge for our safety on more pertinent matters than just whether or not one is trespassing. Like others have stated already, other routes might place her and her daughter in more potential danger. Perhaps she’s teaching her daughter much more than just the idea that it’s “OK to trespass”.
By your logic (and hers) she’s teaching her daughter it’s OK to trespass because the other route options aren’t as convenient; she writes that wind was the primary factor for her decision – she may have implied safety and you’ve definitely inferred it but that’s not as quoted.
Regardless of the idea behind laws, breaking them in front of children teaches them it’s OK, and it’s the logical process they are learning. I doubt highly that the child read the no trespassing sign – or digests the idea behind anti-trespassing laws – but rather didn’t even realize her mother was breaking the law until they were confronted by the officer. It’s because of her mom’s reaction to this officer’s behavior (and the associated admission of guilt) that this child is learning it’s OK to rationalize the trespass because the officer was a bad man for the way he treated her mom.
I wrote a response to this last night, but for some reason I keep getting “error.” when I try posting it even though other posts have gone through, and I can’t figure out why. Anybody have any ideas?
Sure, write tickets — but in a professional manner, not like a bomb about to go off.
Exactly. It’s really not hard to calmly write someone a ticket, who has already admitted they knew they were in the wrong. Traffic cops do it all the time.
And which one is more effect: Yelling at someone or them having to pay a penalty?
There’s far more to what makes a person “nice” than just whether or not they write tickets or give warnings.
Personally, I would much rather pay a fine than be threatened and insulted in an isolated location by someone who was obviously filled with rage.
This is the best point made in the entire thread. To add to this, hopefully the OP will see this as ultimately they themselves placed their daughter into an uncomfortable situation by knowingly choosing to trespass in the first place.
Johnny, how do you think Rempe should taken her daughter home? Do you think Bender was a good police role model to a six year old?
Taxi? Bus? Drive or get a ride from a neighbor? There are other options besides having to trespass because it was too windy to ride on a legal roadway.
OK, good to know where you stand on bicycling. Now, how about Bender’s example to the child?
Based on my reply, you should know more about my stance on trespassing than cycling. I do not condone this man’s alleged behavior, especially around children. I also do not immediately pass judgment based on one side of a story. I do not know this person who filed the complaint and her mental state/personal history, nor was I there.
Based on her letter, I have no problem with assuming her mental state is just fine. That doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind at further evidence, though.
She’s lucky she didn’t end up in jail and her kid in foster care…
How do you figure that? Is there any precedent for someone ending up in jail and their kid(s) in foster care for an incident like this?
you stayed off of interstate and that was smart on a very windy day, but why do these ppl get so mad? we are transport too just trying to get point to point.
It’s too bad that the safest way home for a mother and a kid on a bike is illegal.
this is disgusting; you should be ashamed of yourself.
I could read ‘was carless’ post that way (saying that should have happened) but I can also read it to mean that such incarceration and child seizure for petty things is all too common.
(Aside, while any forced separation of a child from her or his parent is traumatic, the foster parents I know are amazingly loving, wholesome and kind people, and the kids that have passed through their homes often come from–and go on to–far worse living situations than the foster home. So yeah, dump on a system which is all too cavalier about such seizures, but recognize that there are some heros inside the system.)
The railroads operate through communities throughout the US with considerable subsidy. yes, they provide a necessary service, but they are able to act without accountability to or in cooperation with those communities. I wonder if a large protest could force change at a federal level?
The City may not be able to require UP to change the way they interface with the community, but there are plenty of things the City could do to address this. It has been noted MANY times that Interstate Ave has unsafe, inadequate bike routes made more dangerous by rampant speeding that is never enforced. The City could begin to make improvements today if cared about peoples safety. Actions to take:
1. enforce speed limit, driving while distracted and drunk driving
2. stripe the auto lane at 10.5′- this would add a buffer to the puny, filthy gutter of a bike lane of several feet in many areas, and inches in others. The two biggest improvements of this would be 1)to keep cars in their lanes and hopefully slow them down, and 2) highlight areas of the corridor for motorists and cyclists where there is not buffer and in fact the roadway must be shared (currently there are no advance warnings or identification of these instances)
3. connect the gaps in the sidewalk to keep peds/joggers out of the under-sized bike lanes
4. create a large, 2-way MUP from the Esplanade to Tillamook Ave. This could under the Steel Bridge (above the UP service road), along the Thunderbird Property in front of the basketball arena, and use the southbound lane of Interstate Ave from the signal at Larrabee Ave to the signal at Tillamook Ave. Motorists would use the Larrabee viaduct which would need structural upgrades for the largest vehicles. This would be the first leg of the North Portland Greenway which will eventually go Tillamook on the West Side, then down River Ave to the Cement Road (where Diana was) to Swan Island and eventually along the river to Kelly Point!
We may not be able to hold UP accountable, but we should be able to hold our City accountable for this unsafe infrastructure. Interstate is a terrible place to ride with a kid, and the Cement road is very safe. The City has made recent improvements along river on Swan Island, the Going to the River project, and the Waud Bluff Trail while not creating a safe connection south of Swan Island/North Portland. This kind of gap pushes people to use the Cement Road. I see this as sort of an attractive nuisance, like if you a leave unattended against your house. IT may be on private property, but it creates an unsafe condition that is appealing. If a kid climbs the ladder and gets hurt, the person who left the ladder up is liable even though the kid was trespassing
Q. How do you think Rempe should have taken her daugher home?
A. That would be impossible for anyone except the OP to ascertain. There “may” have been other choices, but like I said, impossible for anyone else to determine.
Q. Do you think Bender was a good police role model to a six year old?
A. That too would be impossible for anyone to determine except for the OP who directly experienced the incident. What you are goading me to attempt is to implicitly accept that everything the OP wrote is the absolute truth and I am not willing to go there.
Q. Do you think the OP’s decision to knowingly trespass, get caught, and subsequently place her daughter in an uncomfortable situation is a good role model for a six year old?
“Uncomfortable” understates that situation, and the party responsible for the duress was not Rempe. Given the bakfiet as her transportation and the routes and conditions available, I think she made a reasonable and understandable choice, one even a six year old could understand.
Thanks for responding.
Many many drivers knowingly speed, text, fail to signal, and more. Mucho mas unsafe than 10 mph through the cement rd, yet they rarely get berated, harassed and belittled like this. Just a ticket and a few words and no one talks of taking their children away.
This is an interesting issues that will affect other portions of the proposed north Portland greenway. For example, the property owned my metro and slated as green space by the railroad bridge is only accessible by crossing RR property. Try to ride or walk through this area and you run the risk of breaking the same laws.
So far, I have had more positive interactions with the UP cops where they are more warning where to be and not to be. They are also nice to have around since there are so many low life’s that tend to hang around the area. They provide a level of protection that is absent on the spring water corridor east of sellwood.
I would ask you about the mother’s example to her child. Is it ok to break the law when a situation of our own choosing becomes inconvenient?
My bad. I meant this as a reply to Alan 1.0 above.
Maybe; it depends. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t break some law sometimes. That says a lot (to me) about our society and our laws. I love to have a law that says that for every new law, two old laws must be removed. But I think we’re way out in the weeds as far as Rempe and Bender.
I can get behind that idea!
And, I’m sure that there would have been a very polite law suit filed by the family if she had been whacked by a UP train coming down the tracks. People get killed all the time walking (trespassing) on railroad tracks and the results are usually not pretty. I could imagine the officer had that in mind when Ms. Rempe was on the tracks with her child. Railroad officers and the engineers get lots of fun clean up duty after people act irresponsibly on railroad property or decide to commit suicide by train.
See Lenny’s description of the Cement road, and note that she was on a road that is not very close to the tracks, and has very few crossings.
What makes you sure her family would file a suit against UP if she were killed one of their trains? She had no problem admitting she broke a law, so I wouldn’t be quick to assume her family can’t do the same.
Worth remembering that railroads have a long history of very harsh policing. There’s a reason their officers have been called “bulls” for more than a century. Beating the crap out of (or worse) those who used to be called ‘hobos’ was standard procedure and society looked the other way. This punitive enforcement is part of the culture. It really is a 19th century legacy where railroads had unprecedented power and reach. Imagine if private entities today controlled the interstate highway system and vehicles on them, airlines and airports, bus stations and routes, UPS and Fed Ex and postal delivery/distribution! This was railroads in the past. Obviously a big decline (and in many ways to our detriment) but they’ve maintained some absolutism in places they still control.
Regardless, the main reason this story is noteworthy and no doubt why Jonathan featured it prominently is the need for a negotiated use plan for this route. If the Banfield bike route ever comes together this will be an issue as well. Note sections of Springwater going to Oak Flats that run alongside tracks. These things can be resolved, and this occurrence underlines need for resolution – especially in light of the paucity of alternatives for cyclists in that area. Let’s focus on that rather than getting caught up in moral judgments of particular behavior that’s probably inevitable under current conditions.
Sounds like most of the commenters here have never been on the Ash Grove Cement Road. It is a beautiful ride, especially compared to Greeley or Interstate. Its calm, safe, peaceful, but unfortunately illegal.
I’ve been stopped by Bender. He’s a jerk, but probably by design, as I have not been back. Four trips to jail in my short life is enough.
Still, lots of Swan Island bike commuters use it with the slogan “better in jail, then the ER!” Getting caught is a crap shoot, as Bender and the other RR bulls can’t be out there all the time.
PPB told me they only respond to trespassing INTO the yard; so it is important to note that the AGCR does goes along the River between the Ash Grove docks and the UPRR yard, though it is on RR property. RR crews usually wave in a friendly way. In the many years I used it, I never saw a rail car on the tracks that cross the Road to the docks. These movements are done at night with “Trac-mobiles.”
npGreenway is committed to getting public access to this facility. Join us at npGreenway.org to help make it happen. Write to Mayor Hales, to Congressman Blumenauer, and remind them that UPRR gets $ from the public via Connect Oregon and other sources and needs to step up!
And good luck Diana! Please join us at npGreenway!
We’ve been waiting for you on this thread, Lenny. Thanks to you and others for pointing it in the right direction again!
Everyone in this article was wrong. Everyone is on the losing side. We have the entitled person on a bike, and we need to ditch that stereotype yesterday (and the dash of white guilt was nice too). Then there’s the outrageous cop who will never be held accountable. We have a system where yard bulls can do as they please and a railroad that’s untouchable. It’s too bad nobody will come out of this looking good.
You know what’s really disappointing? This will probably impact UP allowing turning Cement Road into a bikeway. Chronic trespassing and treating them as an adversary isn’t going to win them over.
As someone who hopes to see a complete and safe North Portland Greenway in my lifetime, I won’t be on Cement Road until it’s legal, tempting as it is.
On a lighter note on the discussion of railroad policing power, I can only think of the ultimate Bull “Shack” as played by Ernest Borgnine and a length of chain in “Emperor of the North”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jn-ZS7g8xs filmed in Cottage Grove.
His “demeanor” made her “uncomfortable.”
Boo hoo. That’s what cops do.
I’m sorry that she had this interaction. It must have been hurtful to her and that sucks.
But this is essentially a story about a self-described privileged person getting hurt feelings by a cop and writing a complaint letter about it. Worse abuses happen multiple times every day in this city to less privileged people who do not fetishize themselves as special snowflakes who deserve a wink and a twitch of the nose from the fuzz when they’ve broken a rule.
I wonder if any unfair police treatment, railroad policy, trespassing rules, or racial/class inequity would have spurred such public action if Officer RRBull didn’t hurt her feelings. My guess is no.
RR policy has been sucking for people since there have been railroads. Bulls are notorious for beating people up and brutally harassing people on RR property. Maybe Diana has found a new cause she can work on in the long term. That would be great. 😀
Boo hoo, that’s what cops do? [sarcasm]Yes, let’s not be concerned with one’s alleged antagonistic behavior, because it’s not against the least privileged nor is it the most antagonistic.[/sarcasm]
As others have mentioned, maybe this story is getting the coverage that it is due to the city trying to create a Greenway in that region.
I’d like to see what Bender and co. do if 100 bike commuters showed up!
Its called civil disobedience, its an ancient and honored response to bad, if not immoral policy and law.
Really? Lenny I absolutely respect the hell out of you and what you’ve done for cycling in this town but pulling these kinds of stunts is pure 100% bullsh*t. Signs are posted, she trespassed, and then cried foul when she got chewed out for it. Sounds like she needs to grow up and own up to what she did. Can’t say I fell too much sympathy for her.
The fault lines are pretty stark in the comments on this story. I think where we may diverge is on the questions of
– whether the RR should allow their employees treat the public like this, and
– the dynamic question of whether what sounds like a fragment of a piece of infrastructure should in fact remain off limits to the public.
Although I personally find it a little hard to believe, it seems a fair fraction of the commenters would answer yes to both of these.
Yup that would be interesting to see the black bandana anarchists show up to force a situation where violent confrontation is the likely outcome. Perhaps the could “cork” the tracks. What’s the worst that could happen there?
This outlines a bigger issue. That the public roads nearby UP are perceived unsafe for cyclists (expecially for those with small children.) Heck, I used to live in N. Portland and would take that uphill of Interstate every night from the Rose Quarter and frankly, it kind of sucks. After that, the human interaction of what happened, kind of went. . . downhill, if we can trust what Diana is saying; benefit of a doubt; Bender was kind of a tool. And acted with excessive force lacking customer service. (because even as a security officer, you are serving and can turn a negative situation into a, hey guess what, you did something illegal, but take this ticket and get it taken care of.) However, Diana’s words are the most stereotypical “Portland-feminist.” What the heck? Do you walk through the grocery store eating grapes without buying the bunch and telling your kid; “It’s ok, I’m a white women of privilege, it’s not stealing.” Who says phrases like that?
I mean Diana’s at fault for cutting through private property, and Bender is definitely a jerk. But it’s telling of a bigger transportation need for safer through fares.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed that. The fact that she’s a middle-aged white woman with a lot of means is irrelevant – unless she’s implying that she was targeted because she’s white, middle-aged, or seemed to be someone of privilege. I liken it to the irrelevance of a newspaper or TV station reporting that a bicyclist ticketed for BUI or running a stop light/sign wasn’t wearing a helmet.
The fact that she’s a middle-aged white woman with a lot of means was made relevant simply by her desire to express her thinking. Her words don’t suggest a link between her status and her being targeted, but instead suggest the possibility that Bender may treat less-privileged people in more antagonistic ways, and it’s my belief she was talking about his unconscious behavior which could cause him to do that.
Intellectual masturbation trumps responsibility any day!
You’re the only one saying that, even if sarcastically.
Where did she suggest that her being white made her choice okay? I think your ideas of her intentions behind mentioning her “white privilege” might be incorrect.
Woody Guthrie wrote some great songs, including “This Land is your Land,” my favorite of verse of which goes something like this:
As I went walking, I saw a sign there,
And on that sign it said “No Trespassing”;
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me!”
Its usually left out for polite audiences, but evokes Woody’s spirit.
Woody was never sued for millions of dollars. There’s a reason “No Trespassing” signs exist, and that they are enforced by LEOs – often in places with increased liabilities. I’m ashamed of this woman for teaching her 6-year-old child that it’s OK to “bend the rules” by rationalizing that it ‘should’ be a public way because it’s safer/convenient/etc, and that this officer’s behavior (who I believe could have handled this better – at least from what’s reported here) is an excuse, especially with her half-hearted admission of guilt.
Regardless of whether this should be a public way, it isn’t until it is. I also suspect your plan for civil disobedience would be far less effective than the diplomatic (albeit slow) political negotiations taking place for opening up access for us.
Really? Everyone (and I mean everyone) bends the rules.
Yes, it’s called “rationalization”, and it’s exactly my point here.
Yes, just try getting through your day, any day without even one rationalization for your behavior.
I get through every day without breaking laws in front of my children. It’s not that hard, really. Certainly I can rationalize with the best of `em, but by not breaking laws in front of my children I don’t have to, and hopefully they are learning that laws are simply meant to be obeyed. (I personally believe rationalization was one of the most important factors in human evolution, but that’s a different topic).
“I get through every day without breaking laws in front of my children. ” Well, most people don’t. Because most people speed. And most people go through stop signs without actually coming to a full 0.00mph stop if they don’t have to.
This. I live near the Montessori school on NW Thurman. Every single morning cars roll right through a stop sign, at speed, with their little precious snowflakes strapped into the back of their SUV. When I’ve called out the parent driving the car I ask them, “is this how you drive in your own neighborhood? Is this how you want other drivers to drive when your kids are walking through their neighborhood?” Most of the parents behind the wheel seem shocked I would confront them. I always say to them,”how dare you!” Not to mention I live on a bikeway so there are plenty of cyclists also traveling where these drivers (in front of their own kids) are ripping through stop signs.
Y’all are preaching to the choir, but this comes across as it being OK to break the law because so many other people do(?). There’s an old saying: two wrongs don’t make a right…
But three lefts do! 🙂
perhaps you’re missing the subtlety that weaves through some of these comments: some laws are written on stone tablets: thou shalt not kill, etc. Other laws were written on 19th century paper by robber barons, or by people suffering from carhead. Some laws when followed make you unequivocally safer, make the world a better place; others not so much.
Tom Vanderbilt’s writing drives home this point, at least for me.
(I found another in the same article) –
“As for pedestrian safety, which is the typical stated purpose of jaywalking crackdowns, more pedestrians generally are killed in urban areas by cars violating their right of way than are rogue pedestrians violating vehicles’ right of way. Then there are those people struck on sidewalks, even inside restaurants. What do we call that? Jay-living?”
Officer to stopped driver: “Do you know why I pulled you over today?”
Officer: “Do you know what the speed limit is on this street?”
Driver: “Actually, no.”
Officer: “Well, it’s 30, and I clocked you going 45, that’s usually our threshold for pulling folks over.”
Driver: “Oops. Sorry. I was just headed out of town following everybody else; I guess I didn’t pay attention.”
Officer: “Well, I’ll let you go with a warning today, but I need you to watch your speed from now on.”
Officer to stopped bicyclist: “Did you know this park is closed, you’re trespassing and subject to be arrested right now?!”
Cyclist: “Uh, no. There wasn’t a sign–”
Officer: “Where are you headed?”
Cyclist: “I’m on my way home from work.”
Officer: “I want you out of this park and I don’t want to ever see you here again!”
The above are not hyperbolic, made-up stories. Of the handful of times I’ve been stopped by police while trying to get from one place to another, these are two actual encounters.
Yes, it’s anecdotal, based on my experience and the related experiences of others, but there seems to be a much greater probability that an officer (of any kind) will be immediately aggressive and threatening to a cyclist, while not so much to a driver, even if stopped for the exact same offense.
My personal theory is that anyone riding a bike is seen as a child in need of forceful parenting, not an adult who deserves respectful treatment by Law Enforcement
To all you who (apparently) take such a black and white view of laws, I’m curious what you make of Tom Vanderbilt’s piece in the Feb 1. NYT, which included this delightful passage:
“I routinely jaywalk across one-way streets with my young daughter in our Brooklyn neighborhood. I do this not as an act of vigilante pedestrianism, but simply because the times we came closest to being hit by cars were when we had the ‘Walk’ signal and a driver attempted to make a turn.”
On the contrary. My point is that all laws, by virtue of the fact that they are laws, are meant to be obeyed – even if there is a personal or ‘tribal’ disagreement with them (for example the woman rallying ‘carheads’ to get the new green bike lanes on Hedding Street in San Jose removed because she was ‘unjustly’ ticketed for driving more than 200′ in them to make a right turn in heavy traffic – by a bicycle cop, mind you).
Every reply to this point has been along the lines of “it’s OK because everybody does it”, “I bet you do it too”, or “there’s a reason this/that law shouldn’t apply to us.” ALL of that misses my point (and demonstrates the rationalization I’m referring to), which is that NO laws are meant to be broken – period – and doing so in front of a child teaches them the thought process that some laws are OK to break (maybe even just in some circumstances). In schools we teach our children that NO laws should EVER be broken in any circumstance, and that there is a process called democracy* intended to challenge laws that should be revised/removed.
I’m actually more in agreement with you (and lots of others, apparently) about the existence of these laws (and how they are/not selectively enforced) than you might think, but my point remains that you should exercise caution rationalizing behavior in front of a child, because they’ll someday use the same thought process (learned from you) in a manner you might not approve.
* It’s irrelevant to my point whether said process works or not… 😉
Thanks for clarifying your point. I guess we disagree then. I do and will continue to happily flout any law I consider unjust, ill-conceived, obsolete, or otherwise problematic, and I can’t see why I should obscure this philosophical disagreement, or my insubordination, from my child. Laws are human conventions and a surprising number of them are (or turn out to be) deeply flawed or unnecessary. The ways to change them go by many names, but the one I subscribe to is civil disobedience.
I’m not talking about laws I find inconvenient (like the majority of people driving treat the speed limit); I’m talking about laws that reflect a bias, power differentials in society, or are misapplied (people on bikes having to treat stop signs as if they were in a car and couldn’t hear, see, smell cross traffic for which we can and do yield).
Every reply to this point has been along the lines of “it’s OK because everybody does it”, “I bet you do it too”, or “there’s a reason this/that law shouldn’t apply to us.”
I interpreted those comments differently.
(a) The ‘i bet you break laws too, all the time’ comment was directed at the nannies who shriek about all laws being equally valid and wagging their fingers at us, demanding we follow every single on of them.
(b) ‘it’s o.k. because everybody does it is a far cry from civil disobedience.
(c) as for your third example, it isn’t necessarily that this or that law shouldn’t apply to us, though that may be valid in some instances, I’d add the less parochial ‘there’s a reason that law is obsolete, serves no purpose, deserves to be struck from the books.
OK we agree to disagree (and I do appreciate your points), but this article isn’t about civil disobedience, it’s about someone who broke a law for convenience because they believed it was “tacitly allowed” (i.e. they wouldn’t get in trouble for it). Many drivers use this same logic to exceed speed limits by 5+ MPH because police generally target people 10 MPH over. Speed limits have not increased as a result.
Civil disobedience can be an effective tool to challenge inordinately unjust laws, but I guarantee that you and I safely running stops on a daily basis will not only not facilitate the Idaho Stop Law coming to Oregon anytime soon, it may just make it that much more difficult. If people don’t understand why you’re breaking a law (even if you’re not!), it’s not civil disobedience, it’s criminal behavior.
Thanks for the discussion BTW… Rubber Side Down my friend!
I would say that “for convenience” is a characterization of her behavior that can only be made when we take liberties.
The cement road is a straight shot with no uphills to climb or intersections to wait at, as opposed to Greeley or Interstate. Sounds convenient to me, given that no justifications for her choice (other than “it was windy”) are written. To be fair, though, go ahead and strike “for convenience” from my reply to see if it changes my point.
Yes, we could say the cement road is more convenient than Greeley or Interstate, but that does not mean convenience was her primary reason for taking cement road if it was a reason she at all considered. That’s all I was getting at.
Additionally, I don’t think the common propensity to speed only 5 mph over the limit is analogous to her choice for the cement road given the increased risk that comes with each extra bit of speed.
But perhaps I should add that I’m in agreement with your disdain toward breaking laws for the sake of convenience.
This road needs an easement for bike and pedestrian travel and bridge over the water to the University of Portland.