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Travel site says ‘driving cyclists off the road’ is rite of passage in Portland – UPDATED

Posted by on January 12th, 2015 at 1:44 pm

“… you’re the one driving a two-ton bullet of a machine, and thus you’re the one with all the power.”

Portlanders are used to being on lists when it comes to the travel and tourism media; but not like this.

Matador Network, which bills itself as the “web’s best independent travel media site,” has published an article that makes light of driving a car into bicycle riders. The article, published on December 29th, says it’s one of the seven “rites of passage everyone will experience in Portland.”

Surrounded by six other completely innocuous items, here’s the part about bicycle riders:


Northeast Portland resident Gregg Lavender took to Matador’s Facebook page (which has 294,651 likes) to express his concerns:

“As a Portlander, I guarantee that I’ve never: “Daydream(ed)about driving cyclists off the road.” Please don’t fantasize about hurting me, my family, or my friends.

I’m sorry to read that Matt Staff feels otherwise. I’m sorry to read that Matador supports these dangerous (And not funny) articles.”


Thankfully, Gregg has already heard back. “We appreciate you reaching out,” said an admin for the Matador page, “and have sent this feedback to our editors.”

We get that Matador’s writers are paid to generate clicks and they certainly have the right to their opinions. But as we’ve noted several times on our front page over the years, it’s never funny to make light of traffic interactions like this — especially when the behaviors being encouraged could easily lead to someone being killed.

Hopefully Matador’s editors do the right thing and delete that item.

UPDATE, 9:23 am on 1/13/15: We are happy to report that the article has been taken down.

UPDATE, 1/14/15: I heard back from the author of the blog post. Here’s his apology:

You’ve my sincerest apologies for the recent article featured on Matador Network regarding bikers in and throughout Portland.

The riff on reckless action was inappropriate, insensitive, and disrespectful to those folks of the biking community impacted by the destructive actions of drivers in the past.

In no way was I EVER encouraging drivers to ‘kill’ cyclists or harm them at all – there’s a fine line between attempts at humor and ‘too far’ and that line was crossed in pursuit of a coldhearted punchline.

I’d never encourage, stand behind such an evil action (harming a cyclist-harming anyone), and will always condemn those that do. I’ll have you know those that know me outside the ‘click-bait, humorous writing’ know me to be a man of high morals, good character, and well grounded values.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

75 thoughts on “Travel site says ‘driving cyclists off the road’ is rite of passage in Portland – UPDATED”

  1. Avatar Adam H. says:

    Their company name is Spanish for “killer”. Coincidence?

  2. Avatar Kyle says:

    The real problem here is polarization. It’s increasingly common to see people’s opinions skewed in only one of two extreme directions – in this case either pro-bike or anti-bike. Why can’t people find a middle ground anymore? I drive, cycle, walk, and occasionally ride transit in Portland, and to me it’s all about which mode of transportation is best for the journey I’m about to embark on.

    These irresponsible articles (frequently seen from The Oregonian) serve only as an affront to people backed into two opposing corners of the same room.

  3. Avatar Granpa says:

    So let me make sure I have this right, Matador feels that it is OK to advocate violence against innocent persons if it generates clicks on their website?

    1. Avatar brian says:

      That’s right Grandpa!

      1. Avatar was carless says:

        It’s “Granpa” to you, son.

    2. Avatar caesar says:

      I think that you’ll find that the Matador folks (and their ilk) will always fall back on the “Hey, chill out – it’s just parody!” defense.

      Personally, that article and all the hundreds of numbered / lists web pieces (“The 25 Most Beautiful Female Politicians!”, “15 Most Hated Bands of the Last 30 Years!”) are a waste of time and bandwidth, and we shouldn’t dignify them by even discussing them. And let’s not forget that simple access to the internet and a web-publishing software doesn’t automatically make anyone an expert in anything or one’s opinion worth sharing – or reading.

    3. Avatar pixelgate says:

      Daydreaming is not an act of violence.

      1. Avatar rick says:

        Words can become actions.

        1. Avatar pixelgate says:

          Guess we should ban rap, italian mob movies and just about everything else remotely ‘offensive’. Words are words, actions are actions. Stop playing the victim card.

          1. Avatar Granpa says:

            After the Eric Garner choking death marchers in NY were chanting “what do we want: Dead Cops. When do we want it: Now!”. Following those protests, two cops were shot dead while sitting in their cars. To say that speech can not incite violence is naive.

            1. Avatar Gary says:

              To assume those chants “incited” the murders of the NYPD officers requires an extraordinary leap of faith, to put it kindly. I don’t disagree that words can incite action, but strongly disagree with your supposed example.

              1. Avatar Granpa says:

                The shooter was unstable to begin with. You could well be correct that the events were unrelated, however to have a large fervent group stirring up passions in a very public setting, uninterrupted by counter balancing reasonable voices, could be construed as tacit approval/encouragement to the shooter.

            2. The Faux News-edited video of the march said that, not the marchers themselves. I have seen both the raw video and the Fox News version, and the sound on the raw video is much better than the quality on the Fox News version. It is quite plain that the Fox version was heavily tampered with.

              1. Avatar Grandpa says:

                Opus, I hope you are right. that chant would be a terrible and wrong sentiment. FWIW, I don’t watch Fox “News”

            3. Avatar esther2 says:

              No they did not chant that. Anyone who follows news from reliable sources would know that a local Fox news station doctored the video. That has long been debunked

              1. Avatar Alan 1.0 says:

                What I have gathered from a number of sources is that Fox & Friends Sunday misattributed the “dead cops” sound bite to the Million March NYC organizers or participants. It was actually chanted by a small group after the MMNYC had ended and dispersed. MMNYC disavows violence.

                The Baltimore Fox affiliate station aired a mobile video clip where a chant about “killer cops” ended up sounding like “kill cops.” They issued an apology and correction.

    4. Avatar matt picio says:

      No, they feel it’s ok to advocate fantasizing about committing violence, which isn’t the same thing. It’s not a good thing, but it’s also not advocating outright crime.

      The Bikeportland story title is somewhat disingenuous for that reason as well.

      They’re walking a fine line here (Matador), but one which isn’t illegal. It sucks, and certainly there will be folks out there who have a poor grasp of the difference between fantasy and reality. I totally approve of people expressing their displeasure towards Matador very vocally. (just remember to keep it legal)

  4. Avatar New Media says:

    This kid is a joke… he’s a college senior, and his media experience amounts to scatter shot contribution to dispirit websites over the the past 9 months or so, plus of course, his own media venture, where he has two huge typos in his biography.

  5. Avatar Matt says:

    The article is still up. I just left a nice little comment and encourage others to do so as well.

    1. Avatar Spiffy says:

      it’s been taken down…

  6. Avatar David Carlsson says:

    I responded on their advertising site. I figured the people responsible for marketing might be more responsive to talk of homicidal violence by the writers.

  7. Avatar Matt says:

    Wow. So not cool.

  8. Avatar El Biciclero says:

    “Come on, bro—just kidding! You can’t take a joke? Besides: fantasizing about using the power of a two-ton bullet to force people off the road, possibly causing a potentially life-threatening crash is nowhere close to actually doing it! Wow, sensitive much?” —Average Majority Public Who Think Joking About Death Or Injury To Out Group Is Harmless Fun

    I’ve long been curious as to the particular deficiency in character, security, emotional/mental development, or whatever it is that makes so many adults appear to crave some form of elbow-nudging, chortling derision of other people in order to feel good.

    1. Avatar pixelgate says:

      Let me guess, you also get outraged when someone runs over a bicyclist on GTA V? This article you all are pitchforking over clearly says “daydreaming”, and it’s sad to see you all turning into the thought police. Every human being has daydreamed about killing someone. Probably many people. Probably starting with an ex. Chris Rock put it best, “if you’ve never thought about killing someone: you ain’t been in love”.

      Seriously, chill out.

      1. Avatar Matt says:

        Don’t tell me to chill out.

        1. Avatar pixelgate says:

          *passes Matt the joint*

          1. Avatar Matt says:

            *tries to be funny*

            1. Avatar pixelgate says:

              TIL weed is funny

      2. Avatar wsbob says:

        It’s all funny until the ‘humor’ is re-purposed by someone deciding to inflict their daydream in the form of a horrific reality for someone else. Last week, France and the rest of the world got a nasty little reminder of how some people just aren’t able or perhaps simply aren’t willing, to keep under control in a non-destructive way, their anger over certain types of humor.

        1. Avatar pixelgate says:

          Wow, linking the attack in France to this article? Pretty disingenuous attempt at false equivalency there.

          1. Avatar Matt says:

            Thank God pixelgate is soooooo above it all.

          2. Avatar paikiala says:

            How so? Freedom of speech is freedom of speech. Celebrate that.

          3. Avatar wsbob says:

            “…linking the attack in France…” pixelgate

            It was a reference I made to the type of humor some people respond to by justifying actions with horrific consequences.

            People deciding what to say, should be thinking what their objective in doing so is, what the consequences of doing so may be, and whether doing so is worth the consequences.

            It’s a safe bet to figure that not everyone on the road behind the wheel of motor vehicle, has a perfectly well balanced mind. In fact, as an example, some bikeportland readers may remember the story of a few years back, describing a guy driving that out of frustration with traffic, deliberately ran into several people riding. On lower Clinton, I think.

            So this guy, the author Matt Staff from the travel weblog Matador, maybe thought his little bit of creative scribbling was a rip snorting laugh a minute gag. Before he posted it, and before people expressed their objection to his having done so, had he given any consideration to the fact that his having written what he did, may contribute to someone feeling they have some right to actually make the daydream he describes, become reality?

      3. Avatar Josh Chernoff says:

        What a pile of hypocritical BS. So your telling me that I should not exercise my opinion because someone was only exercising theirs? Sorry but if you can take the time to write in a public domain about how you would like to run me over than I can take that same amount of time to run your name threw the mud. Funny how the internet works like that.

        1. Avatar Josh Chernoff says:


        2. Avatar pixelgate says:

          It’s strange you’d call me a hypocrite when its people on these comments who are demanding the article be taken down. Who’s free speech is being censored? Certainly not yours. But if you get the article taken down you’re certainly censoring the author. Yet somehow your rights are being victimized? Sometimes commenters on this site enjoy playing the victim a bit too much.

          1. Avatar Josh Chernoff says:

            No one asking to censor the author, we are asking the auth to take accountability for the offending people of portland. If the auth has any dignity or integrity as writer he will show show remorse and remove the article not because he was force but because he wants to do the right thing. See the thing about free speech is that is also comes with being accountable for what you say. Otherwise, he has every right to leave it up just as much I as have the right to promote his ostracization from our community.

            1. Avatar Josh Chernoff says:

              OMG so many typos why no edit 🙁 and why did I have to hit enter

              Sorry everyone.

            2. Avatar paikiala says:

              Offence is never given, only taken.

              1. Avatar Caleb says:

                I disagree. That we can take offense even when someone has not given it does not negate from the fact that people sometimes certainly give it (even if we, in response, don’t take it).

      4. Avatar El Biciclero says:

        Keep guessing…

      5. I would like to see random cyclists blow up on contact and take out the player character in the next edition of GTA, just to add a bit more “fun” to the game.

        1. Avatar Caleb says:

          As one who loves to run over bicyclists in GTA, I also think your addition would make the game more fun. 🙂

          Note: I have no contempt for anyone riding a bicycle. The bicycle is my only transportation, and I love whenever anyone else rides one.

      6. Avatar Caleb says:

        I presume El Biciclero would not at all get outraged (or even close to it) at someone running over a bicyclist in GTA. Digitally running over a digital bicyclist is far different from writing divisive comments for all to see and project onto strangers in the streets. Yes, the article clearly says “daydreaming”, but who is upset about the alleged daydreaming? My impression is that people are upset about the writing instead.

        Further, if anyone were upset about the alleged daydreaming, I would not be so hasty as you to dismiss that concern. Sure, maybe everyone has daydreamed about killing someone “probably starting with an ex”, but is one’s ex (or any other close acquaintance) the same as an arbitrarily created group one does not at all know? Not at all.

        Also of note, did you miss where the article described the daydreaming as being “on a regular basis”? If someone can’t put the daydream of killing strangers out of mind, relatively high potential for violence might exist.

        1. Avatar El Biciclero says:

          Thank you. I posted essentially this same response a wee ago, but it got moderated away; didn’t have time to re-type.

          1. Avatar El Biciclero says:

            …that is, a week ago…

  9. Avatar FauxPorteur says:

    Please, don’t click. Make it a habit to NOT click on links that take you to a site that posts BS like this just to get clicks/views/ad revenue. We all play into their hands when we do.

  10. Avatar adventure! says:

    “Matador Network, which bills itself as the ‘web’s best independent travel media site…’ ”

    That’s interesting. I work in the the travel industry and this is the first time I’ve heard about them.

    1. Avatar davemess says:

      No joke. Who?

    2. Avatar matt picio says:

      Yeah, they’ve got the “shoestring operation” and “unknown” parts of “independent” down pat.

  11. Avatar Eric Iverson says:

    I sent an email through the advertising form, as well as Tweeting to them with my opinion. I also reported some Sharrows that need painting today. Doing my part 🙂

  12. Avatar Brent Shultz says:

    Funny that their site’s TOU states: “You agree not to use the Site or Matador Services to collect, upload, transmit, display, or distribute any Content …that is patently offensive (e.g., material that promotes … physical harm of any kind against any group or individual)”

  13. Avatar JoshC says:

    Side story, my wife found this when looking up the facebook page for the local sandwich shop devils dill.

  14. Avatar krx says:

    Use for sites like this.

  15. Avatar FauxPorteur says:

    While would be better than nothing. It’s still crappy that hundreds (thousands?) of impressions were generated by BikePortland readers visiting this BS site. Those impressions = ad revenue for this outfit.

    Yes, the Internet is full of jokes. No, you shouldn’t take everything you read on the Internet too seriously. But, I think that this his kind of cynical click baiting is exactly what the Internet and society as a whole absolutely need less of.

  16. Avatar was carless says:

    It’s clickbait, obviously. I think this is how they generate pageviews, by inciting the masses..

  17. John Liu John Liu says:

    Article was not worthy of the attention given.

  18. Avatar Spiffy says:

    article has been taken down…

  19. Avatar Spiffy says:

    the comments from the article are alive and well…

    I’m guessing that was one of the reasons they took down the article… all comments bashing the bicycle part of the article…

    1. Avatar Pete says:

      I contacted one of the senior editors at Matador and pointed her here.

  20. Thanks to everyone who contacted Matador about this article. They have deleted it.

    1. Avatar pixelgate says:

      Congrats on the campaign to censor harmless clickbait articles you disagree with.

      1. pixelgate,

        I don’t think this type of thing is harmless.

        I think it’s a reflection of a cultural disconnect where making threat of physical violence and committing a serious crime is considered normal behavior… simply because it targets bicycle riders.

        I do not want anyone to think that this type of garbage represents normal or expected behavior.

        My seriousness around stuff like this might also have to do with the fact that in the last 10 years or so I have spoken with more than my fair share of survivors and victims of traffic violence.

        1. Avatar pixelgate says:

          But again, it goes to my point that if this is unacceptable then you probably also feel hiphop that glorifies violence (which is, as a huge fan of the genre, pretty much 80% of hiphop these days), violent movies, video games, etc, etc are along the same lines? If not, any clarification would help me understand where you’re coming from.

          1. Music is art and as such, should be treated very differently. I look at the context of each case to make my decision. I have thought long and hard about this particular issue of traffic violence… Whereas I have not given the same amount of thought to the impact of hip-hop on people’s behavior.. which is why you’d never see me publicly calling it out the way I do with the media encouraging traffic violence..

            In the Matador situation it was a clear-cut example of someone who I think simply needed to be reminded that what they wrote was unacceptable and dangerous. Given that the article was deleted, it appears they agreed with my very reasonable perspective.

          2. Avatar wsbob says:

            pixelgate, if someone hasn’t already done it, maybe the blog dude that dropped his blatant reference to daydreaming about running people that bike, off the road, will take a tip from you, and put his words to a hip-hop ditty. What ‘acceptance’ his reference made there, could have by fans of hip hop, is something to think about.

            Freedom of Speech is protected here in the U.S., but not always appropriate, and can carry with it, various risks. Having made his foray into that territory, the blog dude can now ask himself the question: ‘Was it worth it?’.

        2. Oh, like a critical-mass ride?

        3. Avatar bArbaroo says:

          I agree, this sort of thing is not harmless. It is part of a cultural norm that supports advertisers who take a cheap shot to get clicks/sell product. It’s just another reason I don’t watch TV or subscribe to mainstream media. Both are full of ads that promote hateful, petty, and retaliative behavior as a response to a perceived problem. The number of ads that rely on put-downs is sometimes astonishing. I for one appreciate the direct messages to a business that this type of ad is not making them customers.

      2. Avatar Pete says:

        I’m willing to bet that if Mr. Staff had replaced the word “bicyclists” with “gays” or “Jews” or “blacks” (or any minority group for that matter) the very same sentiment as worded would have been regarded as threatening and hateful. It never would have made it past copy edit. Why this same hateful sentiment continues to be allowed to be directed at bicyclists in this country’s media is beyond me.

        If the editor I contacted had agreed with you that it was harmless, the content would still be posted. I can assure you, the people in charge of this web site did not approve of this being posted, and are looking closely at their review and editing practices now. (It was definitely not intended to be “click-bait” by the way).

  21. Avatar Kevin Wagoner says:

    I blocked their page on Facebook so they can never communicate to me. Seems reasonable?

  22. Its highly unethical for a company to publish such inflammatory stuff. They need to get a letter from someone like Steve Magas or Bob Mionske, asking if they want to be sued if someone takes their advice.

  23. Avatar KristenT says:

    I found it interesting that he decided to call the car a bullet. Sounds to me like he’s tacitly saying a car is a tool that can be used as a weapon– sitting still, it’s not dangerous but once it’s loaded…

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