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Man claims he was victim of intentional smoke screen from passing truck

Posted by on February 13th, 2014 at 11:33 am

A tour of East Portland-5.jpg

(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Getting hassled on the road for no other reason than simply being on a bike is unfortunately relatively common here in the United States. Usually it involves someone yelling at you, or honking, or revving their engine, or all of the above.

But yesterday we heard of a disturbing new method of anti-bike road rage: a smoke screen that sends a huge black cloud from a truck’s tailpipe. We’re not talking about someone intentionally revving their engine and sending a bunch of exhaust into your face (that’s bad enough, and yes, it’s all too common) — what happened to reader John M. Tuesday night was worse.

John says the incident happened while riding near the Mt. Tabor reservoir. Here’s his account:

“I had a weird biking incident last night and I’m wondering if you’ve ever heard of this before.

I was biking southbound on 60th Avenue, near the Mt Tabor Reservoir at about 6:15. Because of the snow everywhere I was taking the lane, but was still pretty far over to the right, and when the oncoming lane was clear (most of the time), southbound cars were going past me with no problem.

This one big burgundy pickup truck, however, swerved aggressively around me and then all of a sudden his tailpipe lets out a huge plume of black smoke. I couldn’t see a thing for a couple of seconds, and almost wiped out, by which time he was a couple of blocks away. I tried catching up to snap a pic of his license plate but there was no way…

… This was a newish pickup. And the smoke belch had a discreet beginning and end, after which his exhaust went back to normal/invisible. I had no doubt at all that this wasn’t just a car belching smoke because of a mechanical problem.

After John got home he did a bit of research online and was surprised at what he found. He said a smoke screen, like the one he experienced, is a weapon used by U.S. Military Humvees in Afghanistan and Iraq. Even more surprising was that aftermarket kits are available to the general public and there are lots of website with advice on how anyone can attach a smoke cloud creator to their tailpipe.

The AutoLoc Smoke Screen Kit is $186 on

“At a push of a button you can have a huge billow of smoke emerge from your exhaust pipe,” says the product’s manufacturer.

The company behind it says it’s a great way to “add a little more spice to your burn outs.” “Just think,” reads the product description, “at a push of a button you can have a huge billow of smoke emerge from your exhaust pipe. Ideal for car shows and special effects.” The company says their product is for off-road use only and that it’s “not intended for use while the vehicle is in motion.”

While smoke screen products exist, it’s also common to have people in trucks purposefully rev their engine as they pass to accomplish the same effect. I’ve had this happen to me and always wondered if it was being done on purpose or not. Given John’s story, as well as feedback about the issue this morning on Twitter, it seems like common anti-bike behavior. Here’s a forum posting about it that John dug up during his research:

“…The Bicyclists use to just run right down the middle of the lane and not in there Bike Lane… so when the on-comming [sic] traffic would clear I would accelerate let off the gas and build up the compression not to mention all that extra fuel and then punch it right before I would pass them… They (the bicyclist) would completely vanish in a cloud of black soot!… I would watch them emerge from the black cloud of death coughing and hacking all while trying to wave the remainder of the black cloud away from them. All the while trying to stay upright on the bike. I even had one crash. That was the BEST one.”

John thinks what happened to him was nothing short of an assault. I agree; but like many of these type of interactions, proving it to law enforcement and to a judge is much easier said than done.

Have you ever been smoke-screened? Have any ideas on what can be done to prevent it?

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Criss Cross Crusade February 13, 2014 at 11:50 am

    It’s a trick with diesel trucks if i’m not mistaken… you pass, pop it into neutral, then a low gear and do some kind of brake pop move and it blasts out a diesel bomb. after crewing three RAAM teams, I’ve seen it each year. super intentional.

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    • Robert August 26, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      I just had this done to me in afternoon traffic in milpitas california. some stupid idiot in a 1988-89 Mitsubishi Lancer white. Let out a huge cloud of smoke in moving 45mph traffic!!!!! The Japanese man in front of me totally stopped in moving traffic out of fear and I slammed right into him. My car is totalled. I don’t have a car now. I have two children and live an hour and 20 min. from work. I can’t believe kids these days are that careless and don’t think of how this could affect regular people working on a Sunday and going home to see his family. I am beaten and so upset. I injured my left arm in the wreck. I have no car. I didn’t seek medical attention but now my arm tightens up in certain motions. I hope this is exposed and kids are informed that this is really dangerous and harmful in more ways than none. This is not a cool thing to do KIDS!

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  • Criss Cross Crusade February 13, 2014 at 11:51 am
  • Criss Cross Crusade February 13, 2014 at 11:54 am
  • Josh G February 13, 2014 at 11:56 am

    We were touring past Estacada on the Clackamas when a older pickup full of firewood dropped a whole lot of black exhaust on us. I got the impression he downshifted, but maybe it was just the compression mentioned. I don’t think it was an aftermarket device.

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  • JV February 13, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    There is very little chance that this is an aftermarket device – this is just an a-hole in a big truck intentionally building boost on a turbo diesel and then “rolling coal” as it is called. Google it. This over-rich fuel mixture can be done by either quick reprogramming of the injection/boost controller, or by swapping out injectors…the main goal is usually increased power, but a (somewhat intentional) side effect is ability to shoot thick plumes of black smoke. The modifications are usually reversible, so they can go through DEQ every two years (super easy for diesel vehicles to pass) and then go back to being obnoxious and noxious.

    As a bicycle rider as well as an owner of a turbo-diesel vehicle, I try to be considerate of those I am passing, as my exhaust exits on the right (curbside). I claim no moral high ground here – I like old diesels because they are cheap, fuel efficient and can easily run biofuels, but the exhaust pollutants are significant any way you cut it.

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    • Bjorn February 13, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Large diesel trucks (and vans) are exempt from emmissions testing in portland. If it weighs over 8500 pounds you don’t have to test.

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  • q`Tzal February 13, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Water balloons filled with oil based paint on his windshield.

    That’s the 1st non-lethal though I had.
    These are the people that the stockade and the pillory were invented for.
    In years past when these guys got eaten by bears the public just assumed the “victim” had it coming because they were kicking bear cubs.

    I want these sociopaths our of the gene pool.

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    • q`Tzal February 13, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      …. out of the gene pool

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    • Scott H February 13, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      It’s a shame he didn’t get the plates. A can of Berh ultra white semi gloss was definitely in order.

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      • q`Tzal February 13, 2014 at 12:32 pm

        Plates: get helmet camera.

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        • K'Tesh February 14, 2014 at 9:39 am

          And people wonder why I have a GoPro camera on my handlebars… :\

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    • was carless February 14, 2014 at 8:45 am

      Funny, the only way I would imagine that would be able to “cure” this behavior would likely be to use an anti-tank rocket, such as the Apache helicopter’s hellfire missile or AT4 weapon that the US Army and Marines use. Note: it has a range of ~500 meters, so you will be out of the way of any black smoke!

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    • Caleb February 17, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      Might oil based paint on one’s windshield cause undue risk to others?

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  • Dan February 13, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Sounds like some jerk with a diesel. Fairly common on the outer east side. I’ve had plenty of this, though none to the extent that John M. describes. Could also be that his aggressor was more talented at getting his truck to belch than my yokels.

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  • Forrest February 13, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    You step on the gas on any diesel truck it will let out black smoke. A chipped truck will do it more! No one is going to buy a smoke screen device. Moving away from trucks for a minute any car that you step on the gas hard will run rich for a second and puff a little smoke.

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  • Suburban February 13, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    So a cowardly driver of a big truck was a jerk and got to drive away avoiding repercussions rude and aggressive behavior? If you are not getting yelled at or honked at or having trash or smoke thrown at you on a very regular basis, you may not be putting in enough saddle time. Using modern LED lights helps to see in limited visibility conditions.

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  • Mike February 13, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Autoloc is a local company, their warehouse and offices are just across the street from Produce Row. You might give them a call and see what they think about all this.

    I’m not sure this was assault(although maybe if the rider was hurt?), more likely an inappropriate equipment etc issue.

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  • Tony Tapay
    Tony Tapay February 13, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    It’s called Rollin Coal. It’s a thing apparently.

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  • Oliver February 13, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    See ‘Rollin Coal’. Engine modifications, like tuned ECU, intake, larger fuel injectors. Using an engine programmer to increase the fuel while decreasing the air flow leads to unburnt fuel ie black smoke. It could be a smoke gizmo, but this rollin coal thing is quite popular among a certain subset of truck owners, and It’s a lot worse than can be achieved with a stock vehicle. A good photo here.

    A friend from Boise went on a bike tour of the Dolomites and told me that the best thing was “3 whole weeks without seeing a single Dodge diesel pickup”

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  • Todd Hudson February 13, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Now I want to play Spy Hunter.

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    • El Biciclero February 14, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Let’s just hope someone doesn’t rig up an oil sprayer to douse the shoulder/bike lane…

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  • jeff February 13, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    burgandy or just plain red?
    I know there’ sa local guy in a big truck who drives like a dick around cyclists…truck has some work decals…I know where he lives. 🙂

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  • Dave O'Dell February 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    #*&% diesel trucks. They won’t have an easy time passing me from now on.

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    • Mossby Pomegranate February 13, 2014 at 7:31 pm

      Oh really? Are you gonna ride in front of them or something?

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      • BicycleDave February 14, 2014 at 12:55 am


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        • was carless February 14, 2014 at 8:49 am

          Let us know how that goes! I recommend SE Foster & 162nd, thats where the angry monsters congregate.

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  • none February 13, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I have had this done to me while driving and merging on to the freeway. Its done on purpose, and unfortunately just a progression of the personality that leads to owning a vehicle like this.

    Have you ever noticed these lifted trucks are often owned by short men?

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    • geezer February 14, 2014 at 11:29 am

      Short man here — could you please cite the studies that show the progression of this personality type among my ilk? I need to know when to start saving up for my truck.

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      • Alan 1.0 February 14, 2014 at 11:44 am

        Theory of overcompensation, where presumably that guy uses his truck to escape the fact that he shits like a bunny.

        I doubt you need to be concerned, just put your pennies in a jar for a custom 650B.

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        • not a bunny February 14, 2014 at 10:57 pm

          Hope he doesn’t procreate like one.

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  • John Mulvey February 13, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Hey friends,

    I’m “John M,” and I appreciate all your support. Yeah, this guy was a royal a-hole.

    Responding to a couple of points people have made:

    @JV: I could be wrong, but my hunch is that this was some kind of do-it-yourself modification, rather than a diesel truck “rolling coal.” I say this because he wasn’t popping into gear or punching his gas. It was more of an on-and-off thing, like he flipped a switch.

    The store-bought aftermarket thing from amazon belches white smoke, but a little googling brought me to many sites with very helpful advice for DIY mods that would give black smoke. So that’s my theory.

    @Jeff: The truck looked burgundy to me –I think darker than a full red, but it was after dark, so could be.

    @Suburban: Thanks for the advice. I ride quite a lot already, but I’ll try to put in more “saddle time” so I’ll be allowed to complain about this kind of thing in the future.


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    • jeff February 13, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      reason I asked…this particular ‘gentleman’ lives about 10 blocks from where you were. S.E. 65th…about a block north of Powell. He’s spun his tires in front of me at the stop sign on 60th and Lincoln a few months back….and has accelerated dangerously around me more than once.

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      • Chris I February 13, 2014 at 5:51 pm

        The tires on those give pickups run about $400 each. FYI…

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    • JV February 13, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      It could be that this particular driver has installed a diesel programming device like this :

      Looking briefly at forums, it appears that they can be programmed with presets for various performance profiles. Belligerent individuals could probably have a tuning preset for “roll coal” ..Seeing the propensity of some members on these truck forums to be anti-social, aggressive, entitled individuals who relish in creating pollution, it would not surprise me. If you did not hear any increase in throttle as said d-bag passed you, perhaps this is what happened.

      If only there could be a way to route that exhaust directly back into the cab…

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  • AndyC of Linnton February 13, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Well. Remember where we live after all.
    This song plays in my head a lot.
    Dead Kennedys live in Portland 1979, “Night of the Living Rednecks”:

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  • Alan 1.0 February 13, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Shades of The Red Pickup Guy.

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  • Todd Hudson February 13, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    “If a smoking vehicle is reported by a witness to DEQ the owner of the vehicle may be sent a warning letter that details the rules and penalties for operating a smoking vehicle. The owner is given 30 days to contact DEQ and describe actions taken to correct the problem.”

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    • Joe Suburban February 14, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      All you need in a diesel is turbos, chips, and a big exhaust tip… That’s all you need. You reprogram the chips (engine computer) back to factory stock, go to DEQ, everything is a-ok, then go home, download the modified parameters from a laptop and continue to be an a-hole. My ’82 diesel Suburban smokes all the time, smells of french fries too if I put veggie oil in it! It’s so old that DEQ just waves me by and cashes my check.

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  • RH February 13, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Why is this even a news story. Too many assumptions.

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    • grimm February 13, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      Because people are letting out dangerous smoke screens that could send you into a pot hole? Not to mention making people breathe nauseous fumes? What is the assumption about doing something harmful and disrespectful?

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      • RH February 13, 2014 at 2:38 pm

        You’re assuming there is a pot hole and you’re assuming I wouldn’t simply hold my breath as I bike through the fumes.

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        • grimm February 14, 2014 at 2:24 pm

          I’m not assuming there is always a pot hole but there is the potential for one. I did not have an accident when I was smoked out, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened and doesn’t mean I was not put into danger. In my experience, you cannot hold your breath during this.

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        • Caleb February 17, 2014 at 7:13 pm

          Even if there is no pothole and you can hold your breath through it, this is still a form of antagonism not familiar to everyone, so in my opinion this being a news story is useful to the public, especially those who ride bicycles.

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  • buny February 13, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    The snow is gone…

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  • grimm February 13, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    To my knowledge it’s called a smoke out. And requires a diesel.

    It happened to me late last summer when I was alone riding out around Helvetia. I almost sprinted to try and catch him at the stop sign, but realized a skinny guy in lycra versus some wanna be hillbilly is probably a bad idea.

    It’s incredibly disheartening it doesnt just happen in the sticks but happened in the city itself.

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    • i ride my bike February 14, 2014 at 8:19 am

      Same happened to me in the same location and also last summer

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  • Jolly Dodger February 13, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    I had a small low-rider truck once release it’s compressed air intentionally while passing me to create a distraction….the driver and his occupant were laughing the entire time and i was just about startled off my bike…into traffic. This is no laughing matter. If you threw an object at a cars windshield with the intent of ‘blinding’ the driver, it would probably be viewed by law enforcement as a dangerous act (the driver could lose control, wreck and potentially kill someone, if not him/her self). My worry is the same happening to bikers is viewed as a triviality until someone gets hurt, or a road rage scenario ensues and it gets deadly that way. To deem it as a non occurrence even one time absolves future incidents to those who read about this and find it even remotely amusing. It’s all fun and games until a biker mom and her offspring are senseless victims in such a fashion (heaven forbid). Holding the drivers who act like children responsible for their adolescent actions should be the epitome of bike rider advocacy. If we don’t do this now, who will…& when?

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    • Agree!! February 14, 2014 at 11:35 pm

      I was in an incident last summer with the driver of a diesel p/u, cycling in rural clackamas country-passed close, then came back and ran me off the road when I yelled at the creaton. I called sheriff when it happened-basically someone has to get hurt before they take action, make an arrest, although deputy said that with vehicle information, license plate (which I had) they were going to watch for the vehicle in the county. Definitely should be a discussion between police and cycling community on prevention of this type of behavior, so that the sociopath that chooses to drive to harrass loses driving privilege. Along with cyclist who don’t ride responsibly, in the middle of the road, riding through stop signs-I’ve done it and can see where vehicle drivers have a negative bias towards cyclists (a few screw it up for most). It’s a privilege to cycle as is driving a vehicle.

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  • Jolly Dodger February 13, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I know if i rode around with one of those smoke screen devices on my bike in full discharge mode for even few seconds, there would most assuredly be at least one driver behind me who would try and run me down out of sheer in-credulousness. Why shouldn’t we as cyclists be just as angry?
    (because are lives aren’t as important? – who says? – and for what imagined justification?) – dang this gets me upset.

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    • Jolly Dodger February 13, 2014 at 4:20 pm

      are -> (*our)…oops.

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  • Brent Shultz February 13, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Pretty standard from big pickup trucks. Aside from words and items thrown at me when I used to live out in Montana, this was a regular deal that happened to me while riding.

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  • drew February 13, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    People who do this sort of thing need to know they are being filmed. That will discourage this sort of behavior. When helmet/bike cams improve I will have one with me at all times. Current offerings are just not good enough yet.

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    • Pete February 18, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Some are in development that act like ‘black boxes’ and commit video to storage when they detect impact. Given what I’ve experienced of our justice system in car/bike collisions those make sense. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere cameras in general will likely play a role in allowing prosecutors to add violations of passing rules and bicyclist menacing and anti-harassment rules.

      I’m thinking a “Smile, You’re on Camera!” bike jersey (complete with retro big yellow smiley face) should be added to my (fictional) clothing line. (My other jersey reads “Honk if You Don’t Get CVC 21202”).

      This is one of my favorite ‘convictions’:

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  • David McCabe February 13, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    It’s generally pretty easy to track down the poster of anything on the Internet. If we knew the identity of the author of that forum post, would it be possible to get him prosecuted?

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  • Glenn February 13, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    I do this unintentionally. My old Ford Ranger has a leaky valve stem on #3 cylinder which sucks oil when not under load on a downgrade. Then when I apply power to go up the next hill it smokes like a demon until it’s burned up. I always want to apologize to anyone behind me, unless they’re tailgating. I suspect that the subject of this article is doing it deliberately though. Helmet cam seems like the best bet to me.

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  • scott February 13, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    This is the type of internalized victimization that the bike community needs to avoid at all cost. Exhaust sucks. Jerks suck. Yet nowhere in this story is any kind of convincing evidence that this driver is either and blame game goes round and round. The bones of this story are the loosest of conjecture.

    ‘Woe is me’ is a crap attitude and it gives life to all the arguments that we want to be treated special on the roads. I don’t want to be special, I want to be accepted and equal.

    I am glad no one is hurt, but there is literally nothing here.

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    • Mossby Pomegranate February 13, 2014 at 7:33 pm


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    • Caleb February 17, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      If this smoke screen was intentionally created, hoping for the aggressor to quit such behavior is far from hoping to be treated specially. If anyt

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      • Caleb February 17, 2014 at 7:20 pm

        As I was saying…if anything, asking us to not react as we have to such an incident is like asking us to treat the driver specially (if the screen was intentional, that is).

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        • scott February 18, 2014 at 8:56 am

          Exactly. So if we have a rash of bikes getting “smoke screened” we will have something to pursue. Where we are at right now is nowhere. Put the pitchforks away and do something if you have even the slightest evidence that there is something that needs to be done. Presenting an isolated incident as an attack with intent is bad form. It’s sensationalism. Why get a base riled up over something for nothing? What’s the next step? Sweeps for trucks with aftermarket smoking devices (I do not accept that there was a device FWIW)? Random checkpoints?

          This is crying wolf, acting like a victim, and wanting special treatment. If we want trucks to accept us on the road, we have to accept trucks on the road. Emission control is a separate issue. This is an active transportation blog, not one about hard carbons and vehicle emissions.

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          • Caleb February 18, 2014 at 8:42 pm

            I hope you weren’t directing that comment at me. I have not any pitchfork out, nor am I assuming the smoke screen was intentional.

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  • Randy February 13, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Black smoke from a big diesel engines; 4×4’s, excavators, and buses creates lung and air pollution. Idling a big diesel engines also creates lung and air pollution.

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    • Jon from Milwaukee April 14, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      You know, it always (morbidly) amuses me when people bemoan diesels as such horrible polluters, just because they are louder and create exhaust that is more visible. The fact is that unmaintained gasoline engines are generally far worse as far as creating dangerous pollution, you just can’t see it as easily. The soot a diesel engine creates is actually far more benign. When used intentionally as a smoke screen, however, it can be very dangerous and should be treated as reckless driving. I am not condoning anyone pick on or harass cyclists, I am condoning everyone, cyclist or not take the time to educate themselves.

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  • justin February 13, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    one nation under surveillance man that’s it just record everything. portland isn’t near the sticks it is the sticks and this is what you get in them.

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    • Caleb February 17, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Coming from rural South Dakota, let me strongly disagree with your assertion that Portland is “the sticks”.

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  • Dan Liu February 13, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Was there a smell? I suspect that if it was a diesel engine revving, you would smell something?

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  • GlowBoy February 13, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    My wife’s VW TDI will do this, no special technique required. Fortunately biodiesel burns cleaner than petrodiesel, but all you really need to do is stomp the accelerator hard enough to kick around 10 pounds of turbo boost, and you get an instant cloud of smoke. Works at pretty much any RPM above 1500. I won’t say I make a habit of it, but I will say I’ve seen it make tailgaters back off and stay off.

    As far as deliberately smoking a cyclist, particularly with equipment specifically designed to do so, that probably IS assault. Whether a jury will agree is another thing, but again if they’ve gone to the trouble to install smoke-out equipment I wouldn’t be surprised to see a conviction.

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  • John Mulvey February 13, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Scott: If you think my attitude is one of “woe is me,” you don’t know me very well. I’m tougher than ten of you.

    As for the “loosest conjecture,” let me be very clear about this: I may be speculating about the exact nature of the device this guy used, but I’m NOT speculating about his intent, which was to harass and intimidate me as a bicyclist.

    I was there, you were not.

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    • scott February 17, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      Your letter to Jonathan was not ‘woe is me’ but as the media is wont to do it was used to create that effect on this blog. Put your puffy chest away. I’m not calling you out. I’m calling out this story as ‘news’ and the negative image effect it has on alternative commuters as viewed from the lens of those who post on ‘O’ live about running people off the road.

      If you and anyone wants to discuss gadgets people are putting on to their vehicle with the malicious intent of smoking out cyclist then by all means proceed. Presented here though is in poor taste and that is where my points lie. This story is STRICTLY conjecture. Anyone who says otherwise has no knowledge of our countries legal system or has never seen Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon”.

      However, since you are SURE that you were a victim you MUST be a victim. Woe is you.

      Lastly, you don’t know me.

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  • Opus the Poet February 13, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    If they find the guy, charge him with assault with a chemical weapon.

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  • JAT in Seattle February 14, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Cycling on the streets is rife with particular conflicts that our larger culture is ill-equipped to identify, much less resolve. Have most of been the victim of this kind of intentional assault / battery? Absolutely! Without an officer witnessing the act will there ever be charges brought? Absolutely not.

    There is a selective psychopathy out there on the streets (…characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited or bold behavior – per Wikipedia) which we embrace as all-American (generally) manly freedom, and cyclists are particularly susceptible to being on the receiving end of it. We’re small and slow in an arena that values large and fast.

    Paradoxically, a lot of cyclists (probably me included) are wary of any of us coming across as the whining victim: we knew it was tough out there when we ratcheted on our SPD-compatible shoes – we hardly expect society at large to walk a mile in them. Being tougher than pampered suburbanites in their Cummins diesel trucks is partly how we define ourselves.

    I don’t have an answer – but it’s definitely a problem.

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    • Alan 1.0 February 14, 2014 at 8:19 pm

      JAT, I’m with you up to your third paragraph. The wariness you mention…maybe so, but ‘whining victim’ is not what I see in John M’s report or posts, nor in most reports of harassment of people on bikes, so maybe that’s our difference. But then you hitch that to the we/them thing, and make them out to be…me*! Now, I ride flat pedals, I’m not out to prove “tough” on my bike, and I don’t self-define as a cyclist so anyone’s welcome to count me out of their clique if those don’t fit*. But, while there is no single answer, if the way forward regarding anti-bike psychopathy, or maybe even more broadly all car-head psychopathy, includes changes in social mores, and I think it does, then we–all of us, all people who ride any bikes and non-riders, too–need to consider a closer empathy to each other, and especially to those of us who remain vulnerable on our streets.

      *No hard feelings, not taking any of that personally!

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      • JAT in Seattle February 14, 2014 at 9:51 pm

        Alan (1.0), I’m with you, I really am. I’m not sure I define myself by toughness (cough – wheeze!) or us and them, but some do, and I sometimes find myself bumping up against the All Ages and Abilities mindset.

        I don’t want motorists of all ages and abilities on the roads, why would I think that was the right standard for cyclists? I rode everywhere in my town when I was twelve (though that was a LONG time ago – it’s possible I had to dodge horsecarts) Could my kid? No, he’s an idiot (a seventeen yr old idiot)! It is tough out there.

        but back to my original point: I’m with you and did not mean to come across as victim blaming. John M here is absolutely a victim of an intentional Tort and pick-up truck guy almost certainly committed an infraction of Oregon law, and neither John M nor the State of Oregon should have to put up with that crap, but they do.

        and that’s a bummer.

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        • JAT in Seattle February 14, 2014 at 9:56 pm

          in fairness to my kid – he and I were riding in Portland two weeks ago, and he did just fine…

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          • Alan 1.0 February 16, 2014 at 11:53 pm

            heh…I was wondering what your post about your kid was in reply to, until your reply showed up! (We all get held up by moderation once in awhile.) So, I’m not buying that your kid’s an idiot…apples don’t fall that far, and your posts are consistently well considered (he’ll grow up, he’s only 17!).

            I think I was not clear about my point, which is better explained in Jonathan’s posts with a language matters tag, that putting people in categories (cyclist v. pampered suburban truck owner) is most often not a helpful distinction and is, at least in some cases, completely misleading. IOW, the jerk in the pickup in this case doesn’t represent all pickup drivers, he’s simply a jerk.

            Anyway, yeah, agreed.

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  • Cory Poole February 14, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    This has never happened to me in Portland but I have been smoked many times in Salem. I put it a notch below screaming or throwing things out the window.

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  • Steve February 14, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Kids in diesel trucks do this all the time. Cyclists should not act like whiney victims, they do it to anyone they want to prank or show-off to. Cars, cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, their girl friend. It is just kids being kids.

    Frankly, I am ashamed of all the cyclists here who are either being whiners or else pledging retribution. let’s be grown-ups, huh? Revenge is for dis-functionals.

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    • Jane February 14, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      Which is why self defense is so much better. Open carry while riding, see things like this happen a lot less.

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    • JAT in Seattle February 14, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      Maybe kids shouldn’t have diesel trucks, then. (my original thought was they should be beaten with switches by their responsible parents… but that became an oxymoron)

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      • q`Tzal February 15, 2014 at 3:32 pm

        Really… I was thinking they should be sterilized so they don’t pass idjit on to a new generation.

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    • q`Tzal February 15, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      “kids will be kids” sounds a lot like “boys will be boys”; the latter has been the standard fall back justification for all manner of sexual harassment and assault. If you don’t understand ask a woman to explain it to you but find a comfortable seat first.

      I’m gonna make a rash assumption that the “kids” you refer to are actually legal adults and by law are responsible for their actions and should act like responsible adults.
      If on the other hand you are suggesting that these adult aged “kids” are not culpable for their actions that would legally put them in the same category as children and the mentally handicapped. We don’t allow these people to own guns, operate cars (or big diesel trucks) or play with explosives and poisons, why should we allow these “kids” to do so?

      You can call it whiney all you want but when the rule of law does not protect the people from those that wield force history has shown time and again that those injured will find a way to make sure it never happens again.

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  • lyle w. February 14, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    “Revenge is for dis-functionals.”

    I see, so if someone in a car is a bully and wants to rage/harass/intimidate someone for daring to ride on their precious road/delay them by a millisecond, that’s all good. BUUUT, anybody wanting to make this harasser take accountability and try to come up with some way to keep people safe from harassment is just being a petty, intolerant, thing-skinned pansy. Do I got that right?

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  • not short February 14, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Short man here — could you please cite the studies that show the progression of this personality type among my ilk? I need to know when to start saving up for my truck.
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    Just go buy one, sheez

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  • mike February 15, 2014 at 4:50 am

    Every time I encounter a motorist who harasses me or in some way gives me a load of crap I generally don’t write a letter about it. Further, oh no, parish the thought, some big black exhaust smoke got on me. Ugh…grow a set and toughen up! You were harassed by a motorist, I fail to see the story here.

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    • Karl February 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      So it’s okay to blow a cloud of smoke, but it’s not okay to be on the receiving end. Got it.

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    • Caleb February 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      Did you even read the message John wrote? I’m at a loss for how you came to the conclusion he was concerned with getting some smoke on him. His inability to see was the problem he mentioned.

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    • Jami L. February 18, 2014 at 10:47 am

      I just started cycling for fitness in December, and I am thankful for the information provided regarding this incident because I didn’t realize that people used diesel vehicle emissions to harass cyclists, much less within bike-friendly Portland city limits. I have asthma that’s sensitive to particulate air pollution, so now I know I need to be vigilant in carrying an inhaler and a charged cell phone in the rare circumstance that this type of harassment happens to me and it causes an asthma attack.

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  • q`Tzal February 15, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    To all of you that have friends or acquaintances that drive like described by the OP or similarly asinine/questionably legal manner:
    Please pass along:
    Their actions more than anything is pushing forward the surveillance state so eloquently named Big Brother.
    Whether you think us cyclists are a bunch of whiney pansies or have been attacked out of capricious whim it doesn’t matter; video will be recorded and us whiners will find some why of using HARD VIDEO EVIDENCE against you.
    YOUR actions are making us buy video cameras by the thousands so we have a way of protecting ourselves. Be it police, legislative, auto insurance or social media smear campaign the video of yall behavin badly will be used against you.


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    • Pete February 17, 2014 at 11:44 am

      Several communities have passed “Bicyclist Anti-Harassment” ordinances (L.A., Berkeley, and Sunnyvale in CA that I know of). While they don’t have any criminal punishment, they do explicitly permit civil pursuit. While opponents argue they are unenforceable (which I’d argue given a good video of the action and identifiable assailant), proponents say the ordinances at least acknowledge that harassment of bicyclists exists. (I’m proposing it at our BPAC as it’s now recognized by the LAB’s community program in which we’re trying to reach silver level).

      I don’t know that you could claim damage as a result of this type of action under one of these ordinances, but I think it reinforces what q’Tzal is saying, as I’ve seen video surveillance play a significant role in both law enforcement and the laws themselves (the ‘video-as-proof’ argument was also brought up during CA’s latest debate of the 3′ passing law that takes effect this September).

      On the same note, several cities here in the bay area are considering (or already have) home video security networks that the police have access to. (Where homeowners volunteer their video network information to the police – Fremont has it, and San Jose is considering it after an arsonist was recently caught by a resident’s private camera).

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  • maxadders February 17, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    I’ve seen plenty of “newish” pickups blasting out thick black smoke. Was behind one tonight– seemed to be a Cummins diesel powered Dodge– on the Morrison Bridge.

    It may be alarming and rude, but it’s not unheard of. Definitely more common than aftermarket fake-smoke kits.

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  • fredlf February 18, 2014 at 8:18 am

    This has happened to me out on Old Columbia/Larch/Bull Run area on several occasions. It’s definitely on purpose, a form of harassment. It’s no worse or more dangerous than any of the other forms of harassment I encounter routinely on almost any ride, especially out of town. I blame the Right Wing noise machine for painting us all blue.

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  • Brian Hicks April 6, 2014 at 9:20 am

    I am a diesel pickup owner, a Ford F-250 specifically. I can attest that rolling coal is real. I got the truck when I was 18 and I went around smoking people like a douchebag… Until one day I was mowing my grass t the ditch and I saw a dodge pickup slowly approaching with a bunch of boys in it. They covered me in soot and I do mean covered. I coughed for a week and have never blown smoke on anyone else. I actually took steps to lessen the smoke output of my truck and today it is almost 500hp and nearly smoke free. I am 27 now. I slow way down for bikers regardless of what I drive and make sure I coast by when I am driving something diesel. They think it is funny, but let them get sooted one time and they won’t do it again.

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  • cummins4life January 26, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    some trucks dump large anounts of fuel into the exhaust to clean the diesel exhaust filter. driver has no control over it… truck senses the filter clogging and self cleans it.

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    • Psyfalcon January 27, 2015 at 2:26 am

      The idea is to burn the soot in the filter. Not spew more out the back, and certainly not a black cloud down the street.

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  • Piper June 21, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    I had the same, a red reckless truck cut me off on the freeway and then dodged in front of another car. He then spew black smoke everywhere. It looked so intentional. I took pictures of the guy and sent it the DEQ- Red Ford Truck.

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