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Disaster averted (for now) as most riders comply with cemetery biking ban

Posted by on June 7th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Most obeyed it, but still too many did not.
(Photo: David Cushman)

I have good news and bad news about the future of bicycle access in River View Cemetery.

As you might recall from our reporting last month, the privately-owned roads through the cemetery in southwest Portland (between the Willamette River and Terwilliger Blvd at the Sellwood Bridge) were closed to bicycle riders over Memorial Day Weekend. These roads are usually open to bikes because the cemetery recognizes that they provide a much safer alternative to the other roads in the area. Unfortunately many people don’t respect the cemetery for what is — a place for quiet reflection — and use it as a training route and/or speed through without regard for cemetery visitors.

(Note: The route is even a segment on the popular riding app Strava — which encourages people to ride fast to improve their ranking. The segment has been flagged for removal in the Strava system but has not yet been removed.)

With complaints on the rise, River View Cemetery Executive Director David Noble contacted us with a serious warning: If behavior of bicycle users doesn’t improve, he’ll be forced (by the cemetery’s member-owners) to ban bikes completely. In the interim, Noble decided to ban biking during the long Memorial Day holiday. If that ban was disrespected and if the poor behavior continued despite it, a complete ban would have been on the table.

Thankfully, most bicycle riders heeded the ban and there are no plans for a prohibition on pedaled vehicles.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that there were still a lot of jerks who biked through on Friday. Noble says about 200-250 riders ignored the signs that day alone. Then, when he stopped them, far too many were downright rude. Here’s part of a report Noble sent me via email:

I won’t share quotes from other staff, as that would be second-hand hearsay and I don’t want to mis-quote anyone, but personally, I had cyclists say the following things to me:

“I don’t care if you put in a 365 day a year ban, I will still ride through here.”; “What are you going to do, arrest me?”; “Who are you to tell us we can’t ride through here?”; “You let cars ride in here, so you are required to let bikes in, as well.”; “If you try to close this route, we’ll go to the City of Portland and have them take over your roads.”; and, of course, I was told to ‘Fuck Off’ by several particularly rude people, despite only having nicely asked them to please respect our private property over this special weekend.

We also heard from a reader whose uncle visited the cemetery on Monday. Portlander Joe Snyder said he was passed by at least eight riders. As a group of three came up the hill (those going down were riding so fast he couldn’t stop them and he didn’t want to yell), he stopped them to explain that the road was closed for the weekend. “Each of them turned back, thankfully, but all three professed complete ignorance, despite having ridden by two large signs, one placed on a cone right in the middle of the road,” Snyder reported. “Such blatant disrespect pretty much illustrates the problem,” he continued. “I occasionally ride through there and would be sad to lose the privilege.”

Who are these people? If it was you, you need to take a serious step back and get yourself together. If it was someone you know, you need to call them out for being jerks and set them straight once and for all.

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According to Noble, compliance with the ban drastically improved Saturday through Monday with an estimated 95 percent compliance rate. Why the big change? Noble says on those days the cemetery had “Young Marines” in full uniform at each gate. Here’s more from Noble:

While cyclists on Friday had no qualms whatsoever in ignoring adult staff that told them the route was closed, when a 10-year-old in full Marine uniform held up his hand to stop and said “I’m sorry sir, but the bike route is closed today”, the riders would just turn right around and go back out the gate! Or, if they said anything at all, it was a polite “OK, thank you, we’ll find another route.” It was refreshing to see that people still have a hard time being rude or disrespectful to a young person who asks them nicely to do something.

Noble said last year he estimated about 750 to 1,000 riders a day during Memorial weekend. This year the number plummeted to just a couple of dozen riders each day. “It was much better compliance than I had thought would happen, especially after Friday’s events,” he shared. (One possible reason for the change — besides the uniformed gatekeepers — is the difference in mindset between people biking to school or work on Friday versus people just out for a leisurely weekend ride.)

Despite the better compliance during the weekend, keep in mind that cemetery staff heard comments from visitors that they appreciated the bike ban — and some urged them to make it permanent. Every person who drives a car into the cemetery receives a feedback card. Out of a few hundred filled out, Noble said 12 comments mentioned bikes. Here they are:

1. “Thank you, thank you for no bikes this weekend.”
2. “Thank you for keeping bikes out on this holiday.”
3. “Love the no bikes on Memorial Day. No bike signs are great. No Bikes!”
4. “Thank you for not having cyclists in the cemetery.”
5. “Glad there are not so many bicycles this year. They should not be allowed in cemeteries anyway. This is no place for them – they are rude people.”
6. “I am really glad that bikes weren’t allowed in here on Memorial Day – thank you!!!”
7. “Thank you for closing the cemetery to bicycles for this weekend. It created a peaceful atmosphere.”
8. “Thanks for not having bikes going through today – we were able to concentrate on the pathways rather than watching out for speeding bicyclists!”
9. “Saw two bikers – would be nice if they obeyed signs.”
10. “Saw bicycles – not good.”
11. “The weekend ban on ‘no bicycles’ did not work. Wish the bicycles would slow down!!”
12. “Stop the bike riders 365 days a year. I paid for three plots; this is private property. Why do I have to listen to riders cussing about the ‘big f-ing hill’? I’m sick of being interrupted by rude, inconsiderate riders.”

Some of those comments should make you cringe. But it’s better to know how you are perceived than to live in ignorance of your impact to others. And keep in mind that Noble feels a majority of cemetery clients are supportive of the bicycle access and are willing to let bicycle use continue.

Based on all of this, Noble says the Memorial Day Weekend closure will definitely happen every year from now on. He might consider starting the ban on Saturday instead of Friday because he doesn’t want to inconvenience Lewis & Clark Law School students. And as long as people exhibit respect for others while they bike through, Memorial Day Weekend will be the only ban all year.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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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

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KTaylor
Guest
KTaylor

Augh – the comments do make me cringe! And David Noble’s reports of what people said to staff that stopped them. We really need some kind of PR plan to educate people about the fact that this isn’t a City facility, the City can’t take over the roads’ and we are screwed if River View takes away our access. If anyone is interested in working on something like this, let me know. I work in the transportation engineering industry as a marketer and know folks who would probably be willing to help. I’m willing to work on getting a group organized to see what we can do to help River View keep this vital route available while serving the needs of its owners.

James Sunderland
Guest
James Sunderland

KTaylor, let’s talk.

K Taylor
Guest
K Taylor

Hi James – that would be great. I set up a google group for anyone interested in organizing to tackle this issue and help repair the cycling community’s relationship with River View Cemetery:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/biketiquette/join

Sounds like Jonathan’s done a lot singlehandedly – – would like to lend him, and David Noble, a helping hand.

abomb
Guest
abomb

How about a shuttle for next time the cemetery closed? Use a sprinter van with bike racks inside and shuttle riders up and down the hill. Do it as a fundraiser for a Veterans charity.

Ich Bin Kurt
Guest
Ich Bin Kurt

This is why we can’t have nice things in Portland anymore 🙁

rick
Guest
rick

Respect goes far.

MP
Guest
MP

They should contact Strava and have all segments removed from the cemetery. It might be a disincentive for the jerkier of the jerks.

Tad
Guest

Those are some of the most embarrassing and cringeworthy comments I’ve ever heard.

As a regular bike commuter, I like to think of myself and other commuters as considerate Portland citizens who are not only biking because it’s healthy and convenient, but also out of a greater respect for our city, its infrastructure, and its needs. I always like to think that other cyclists share this “shared responsibility for our city”.

When I was growing up in New England, I grew up hating skaters not because skating was bad in some way, but because by and large skaters embodied an “f you and your rules, I can skate where I want” attitude. They’d cuss out people who told them they couldn’t skate on the sidewalk, they’d brazenly skate on private property because “f you” and so forth. Over time, I think skating has lost a lot of that, and gained a lot of legitimacy, but I never thought that cyclists would then be the ones to take over that bad-boy mantle.

This goes right back to the neighboring property in RVNA and why we keep having to fight to get bike access to Forest Park. I always _want_ to believe that complaints about bikers are from crotchety nimbys only, and we’ve done nothing to deserve it, so it’s deflating to see that we have.

rick
Guest
rick

It would great if SW Taylor’s Ferry Road had a protected path for at least west-bound bike traffic from Highway 43 to Terwilliger.. Not much has been done for Taylor’s Ferry Road since I-5 split it except for this year’s new trail at SW 19th Ave.

Goff
Guest
Goff

Jonathan, really appreciate this post. I live right off the Sellwood bridge and commute daily on the Springwater to downtown for work. I use the cemetery sparingly on some of my usual weekend loops, but would totally hate for bikes to be banned there, it’s such an awesome (and safe) route to/from the bridge. Also, if the cemetery gets banned, it might create a precedent and embolden more private property owners to do the same with other places.

Tad
Guest

Never mind the fact that alternative routes from the city to Lake Oswego and West Linn have an exorbitant price tag, and are years from even making it to the budget table, never mind construction. Take the Cemetery off the list, and the only protected-bike-lane route from the city to LO/West Linn is up & over Mt. Sylvania on Kerr Parkway.

rick
Guest
rick

The bike lane on Kerr Parkway is a floating one: here and there and gone in other places. The new stormwater / sidewalk built by LO didn’t incorporate bike lanes due to the budget (read: priorities) according to LO city council.

Tad
Guest

True enough. But with the Mountain Park trails that parallel Kerr Pkwy for most of the run over Sylvania, it’s at least passable. But still, that’s a huge detour.

I guess that doing Taylors Ferry -> SW La View -> Terwilliger is also doable, but again, a big detour.

I had discussions with LO City Planners about a year or so ago, and the best choice for linking LO to the city’s bike network is a multi-use pedestrian/bike bridge from Oak Grove -> Rohr Park in LO, which has been posited several times, would link LO straight to the Trolley Trail & Springwater corridor, and would be in the same order of magnitude of cost of any of the proposed OR-43 widening or tunnel bypass projects that have been studied. Just…there’s no budget for stuff like that for a city that has its controlling interests driven by a hugely car-centric demographic. Just look at how they shot the no-brainer Willamette Shore Trolley -> South Waterfront transit idea out of the sky. They simply don’t want easy non-car access to the city.

rick
Guest
rick

Does the railroad company want to support bike / walk access on that bridge by downtown Lake Oswego over the river ?

Adam
Guest
Adam

I think this article is missing the bigger picture, which is THIS –

Why do bicyclists HAVE to ride through the cemetery at ALL?

It couldn’t POSSIBLY be because pretty much the whole of SW Portland is an auto-centric shithole, with no sidewalks, no bikelanes, and no way for anybody to get anywhere without the use of a private vehicle? No, that couldn’t possibly be it.

The cemetery is a pinch point for bicyclists, in the same way that a river is a pinch point for car traffic… because what are the alternatives? There is nowhere else around to bike to get to where you are going.

Where do you honestly expect bicyclists to ride? On SW Macadam with zero shoulder and 55mph traffic? Sounds great. Or how about on SW Taylors Ferry Road, with zero shoulder, and 55mph traffic? Or! What about SW Boones Ferry Road, with zero shoulder, and 55 mph traffic!

You might see a theme emerging here….

The cemetery is beautiful, and I am SO appreciative of the owners who let us ride though. I could not get to Lake Oswego, or Tryon Creek, or Lewis and Clark, without having this amazing, safe greenspace to utilize.

But it really just highlights the PROBLEM with this neighborhood, which is that, there is pretty much ZERO permiability for people on bike or foot, both of whom continue to be metaphorically f****d up the ass by car culture.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I used to live on Macadam and frequently rode in that general vicinity. No one has to ride through the cemetery and to pretend there is any entitlement to the contrary will only result in more facilities closed to cyclists.

I guarantee the sign prohibiting cyclists wasn’t placed there because people objected to those quietly riding in to visit the grave of a loved one. Rather, it’s because this space and the people who came to be there weren’t treated with the appropriate respect. If this were a Native American burial ground rather than a more contemporary one, no one would be talking about riding here.

It is precisely because of stories like this that I quit describing myself to others as a cyclist. Sadly, I see way too much ridiculous behavior (most recently last night).

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I would have no qualms about riding through a First Nations burial ground, as long as it had roads or some sort of dedicated route. The practice of burying bodies is archaic and unnecessary, and wastes valuable space that could be better utilized as public parks or natural spaces. I would not ride through Riverview during Memorial weekend, because that is a time for the families to honor their loved ones, but the idea of closing these spaces to public access 365 days per year is silly.

I get that it is “private property”, but they have acres and acres of property and they only pay $14k in property taxes per year. That is less than many single family homes in Portland on 5,000sqft plots. This is basically a giant public subsidy for this space, and I think we, as taxpayers, deserve access.

https://www.portlandmaps.com/detail/property/0300-SW-TAYLORS-FERRY-RD/R330294_did/

rick
Guest
rick

The giant price tag of the concrete fortification on Highway 43 up against the cemetery’s swatch of acres of English Ivy was not cheap. The ivy kills trees.

mw
Guest
mw

There are several areas in the cemetery where English Ivy is decoratively planted. The subsequent infestation of the surrounding forest was most likely a problem they caused.

mw
Guest
mw

Good point about the tax disparity. We should negotiate an easement in return for keeping their taxes low.

q
Guest
q

They apparently already qualify for whatever tax reductions they’re getting, and they’re already voluntarily giving public access, unlike many other properties getting similar exemptions. They’ve also always been more than happy to allow courteous people on bikes. It wouldn’t be reasonable to expect any easement to require them to allow non-courteous ones.

So what’s to negotiate?

BB
Guest
BB

The fact that no organization should have a tax free or reduced tax status as a result of their use of religion.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I was roughly escorted out of city hall again this morning. I tried to explain that my taxes help pay for the building, but the guard told me if I tried riding my bike along the main corridor again, I would be subject to arrest.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

And those freeloaders at City Hall don’t even pay property taxes m

q
Guest
q

I hear you. Years ago I got kicked out of the Portland Building for bringing my dog in.
I asked if they had something against dogs. “No, we don’t allow any animals in City buildings”. I told them, “That’s not true. You allowed Katz in City Hall”.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

As you ambassador from the feline dimension, I support this comment!

Justin M
Guest
Justin M

My coworker really appreciated this. While I buried my face in my palm.

Teddy
Guest
Teddy

I seriously doubt people go 55 on those roads. A few sure, I have seen that, but usually 40-45 is the norm.

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

I moving to Capital highway right by Sylvania campus. I will have commutes to downtown Portland, North Portland and east of 160th and Stark. I plan on getting an e-bike to handle the hills and long commutes. I’m preparing to have the cemetery close to bikes soon, it seems to be inevitable.

jeff
Guest
jeff

you can get to all of those places via Terwilliger. It has a bike lane and is generally quite pleasant.

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

There needs to be some serious consequences for the ill mannered ingrates that not only ignored the signage but then had the arrogance to tell Noble to “fuck off.” If I were him I would have closed the cemetery permanently to cyclists right there, he showed enormous restraint in being able to move past that. The fact that the offenders didn’t suffer any immediate consequences only emboldened them further. It’s obvious that they’re not going to listen to what anyone has to say about their behavior.

Noble should close the cemetery on another Friday, after school is out, place signage, and then have police officers waiting to arrest trespassers. Imagine the instant justice of someone saying to Noble “what are you going to do, arrest me?” only to be arrested 50 feet later.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Sounds like a totally reasonable and worthwhile use of city resources.

q
Guest
q

If a crackdown helped curtail the problem people, and it convinced the cemetery to keep public access, that access is almost priceless. That makes the cost of enforcement a bargain.

BB
Guest
BB

Of course, because of all the things that warrant a “crackdown”, this is at the top of everyone’s list..

q
Guest
q

I’m not advocating for a crackdown, and don’t know how it would even work, since it involves people breaking a private owner’s rules on its private property.

But if it were feasible, why shouldn’t it be high on any list? What’s keeping that route available worth per year, given its incredible safety and convenience advantages over any alternative routes? Certainly as much or more than the stakes involved in other situations where people support crackdowns.

BradWagon
Subscriber

“We’re going to arrest people riding bikes in the cemetery in order to keep the cemetery open to cyclists.”

Gotcha…

q
Guest
q

So when police crack down on drunk drivers, would you say, “We’re going to arrest people driving on the street in order to keep the street open to driving? Gotcha…”

Or for cracking down on assaults in a park, “We’re going to arrest people walking in the park in order to keep the park open to people walking. Gotcha…”

I hope not.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Drunk Driving is not just “driving” and assaulting people in a park is not just “walking in a park”. Randomly closing the cemetery to an activity that is normally permitted and then arresting people who want to cycle in it is much different.

If you want to use your analogies they should be worded, “Closing a street to cars for the purpose of arresting those that try to drive on it” or “Closing a park to public so that those that want to use it can be arrested”. Both of which sound like they accomplish nothing and are a waste of time… much like the above proposal is.

q
Guest
q

You’re proving my point. I used those examples because yes, obviously drunk driving is not just “driving”, etc.

But neither is biking through private property that’s signed to prohibit biking just “biking”. It’s also trespassing.

Your advice to me about how I should change my analogies also show you don’t get it. “Closing a street to cars” and “closing a park to public” both involve closing PUBLIC property. Riverview is not public property, so closing it to bikes is not at all equivalent to your street/car and park/public examples.

rick
Guest
rick

What about the people driving through the cemetery to save time on their car commute?

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

Like I said: close the cemetery. Not to just one mode of transportation, to everyone. Then have police deal with all trespassers and send a clear message that respecting the rights of property owners is not optional.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

I can imagine a day when owner eliminate through routes. It would not be difficult.

Adam
Subscriber

More people in Portland were killed by police officers this year than by cyclists.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Fortunately, that tidbit has no bearing on the topic at hand.

RB
Guest
RB

At least you are consistent with your agenda…smh

Adam
Subscriber

Sorry, but if your agenda is “we need to stop those dangerous cyclists by adding police enforcement” I’m not buying it.

daisy
Guest
daisy

I’m guessing this suggestion and the support for it are coming from white people? People of color are disproportionately targeted and harassed by police in Portland. Please don’t invite them unless there is an immediate danger to life.

Edward
Guest
Edward

When I learned about the closure I sent the cemetery an old fashioned paper letter thanking them for letting me use the cemetery. Also pro-actively apologized for any offense my presence might’ve given, but I didn’t know what the basis of the objection was. I’d encourage others to send a real paper letter or post-card.

So much of our policy is designed around a small segment of super-rude people.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

…nevertheless, a much larger group of rude people than I would have imagined. Hundreds? !! And in-your-face rude when politely confronted, too. Just… insane. I hate these people. I hate them for ruining this precious thing. I want to find them and pull them by their ears to their rooms and make them stay there FOREVER.

“Who are these people?” Seriously. Portland seems to have attracted of late just a huge clot of humanity with no manners whatsoever. Writing a letter, sending a postcard is a GREAT idea, Edward. We need to remind the kind and patient Noble and Riverview that grateful, considerate people still exist.

Justin M
Guest
Justin M

i’m sure lots of great people have moved here too. just wanted to point that out before someone suggests we build a wall.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

That’s a given. Many of them are my friends. But is it honestly necessary to preface any and every observation about the negative impacts of Portland’s massive popularity and the resulting influx with that? ‘Cause if I don’t, I’m clearly one step away from suggesting we build a wall. Pffft.

Burk
Guest
Burk

Thanks for the follow up Jonathan! Glad to hear they are staying open to bikes but reading the things said to Noble is super cringe inducing. I’m assuming most folks that visit this site are part of the “respectful” crowd. Not sure how to get through to the few that may end up ruining this for everybody…

Brian
Guest
Brian

OBRA email list?

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

I get the OBRA emails and I’m pretty sure I saw one prior to the holiday weekend that talked about the cemetery being closed, and urged restraint and respect for the area to not ruin it for everyone. I think they even had a link to Jonathan’s initial post about it.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I think I remember that, as well. Sometimes the message needs to be seen multiple times to stick. If this is an important issue to someone, a well-crafted follow-up would be a good idea.

Jason Skelton
Guest
Jason Skelton

That was me! I posted a link to Jonathan’s story with what I thought was a provocative title to garner some interest. Unfortunately, no interest was shown, which was a bit surprising when there are heated discussions some of the more inane and pedantic bike topics imaginable.

Adam
Subscriber

How many people were killed by “jerk cyclists” last year? Enough to warrant banning cycling?

mran1984
Guest

There are too many people on the planet. It is the primary issue. O.T. inspiration, thanks! The disrespectful actions of those who are 100% in the wrong should not be associated with those who simply call out the incompetent movement throughout our once lovely city.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

Should have filmed the folks being disrespectful. Guess their parents never actually raised them, so now we need to.

chris
Guest
chris

if someone wanted and had the time, you could sift through the strava results on this segment during those 3 days. have at it!
https://www.strava.com/segments/1947717

Eric H
Guest
Eric H

Only took about 10 minutes to sort through the data for those 4 days that it was closed.
To date this year there are a total of 1,367 entries on that segment, which, by the way is actually the climb not the descent that is flagged.

May 26 – a whopping 7 (!) riders climbed that segment and have it show up on Strava. Their speeds range from a low of 5 mph to a whopping 11 mph.
May 27 – 1 (!!1!) rider climbed this segment at an average of 9 mph.
May 28 – 29 – 0 total for those 2 days.

Carry on.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Guy did set the KOM for the decent on June 2nd though…

Strange that the climb has been flagged but not the decent.

Jon
Guest
Jon

So it sounds like the problem is not necessarily the evil lycra Strava people since there was only 8 recorded rides over the closed weekend and 7 of those 8 were on Friday which is a work/commute day. Maybe the spandex folks are not any more of a problem than the good cyclists.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Ding Ding Ding. From my experience it seems there are very few routes that those training at higher intensity like to use that are of the bike path/close to auto traffic variety. Springwater and the Cemetery are the only two I can think of in that area that faster riders use a regular basis. Usually those that use strava for training or friendly competition prefer to be on roads that allow for more efficient and faster travel.

Granted not all road riders or those that train/race use Strava but I do think this point is relevant to the conversation regarding “Strava Users” being more disrespectful of others or not. In my experience I see those in kits and riding at a higher intensity as being more defensive and assertive in their riding (which some may see as being jerks) but I by far see those riding in a more casual capacity as doing things that impede other drivers / riders and put others or themselves in danger more often.

Overall I would be surprised to see Strava as a reliable indicator of someone’s propensity for riding dangerously or rudely. (The Strava user with the top decent time has a comment on a ride he did on Friday of memorial day weekend where another user pointed out to him it was closed, an encouraging sign.)

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Close… it was the evil lycra Strava people who were smart enough not to document their crime. So really, it was primarily the stealthy evil lycra Strava people.

BradWagon
Subscriber

“Unfortunately many people don’t respect the cemetery for what is — a place for quiet reflection — and use it as a training route and/or speed through without regard for cemetery visitors.”

Many people? Huh… thought the last post communicated that it was the disrespectful FEW that made this an issue. Also, you should probably start phrasing it as “slow, alone, quite reflection” if speed and proximity of others are to be used as the defining characteristics of something being disrespectful.

Cemetery Guest Reponses strike me as the “Get in the bikelane” type and would be critical of cyclists using the paths regardless of how respectful they were being. Bummer there were some negative responses towards staff but I can imagine they come from riders who are tired of being treated like second class citizens in the transportation conversation and see allowing cars and pedestrians access during the weekend as another example of this.

Justin M
Guest
Justin M

**Comment deleted. Hi Justin, I don’t allow comments that are so insulting and mean and judgmental of other people. Please think twice before writing comments like that in the future. Thanks – Jonathan***

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

While it may be private property it is also a business that receives a large public subsidy for no legitimate reason. I say it is past time for Oregon to stop giving a property tax exemption to cemeteries. The money collected could be used to build safer options for cycling through the area.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I
Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

And the residents don’t pay anything!

q
Guest
q

It’s not secret they’re a bunch of stiffs.

TAJ
Subscriber
TAJ

No kidding. I’m all for riding thru this and other cemeteries respectfully and appreciate any access to private property, but that is a massive tax break.

jeff
Guest
jeff

its not very big at all actually.

TAJ
Guest
TAJ

You’re kidding, right? Either that or the inequities in prop tax assessments are worse than I would have guessed.

BB
Guest
BB

The more people have, the more they think they are owed.

q
Guest
q

There was lots of discussion on this in a previous article. Personally, I think there’s great public benefit in having large areas of greenery like the cemetery in the city. Taxing cemeteries like developable land would likely turn many of them into, well…developed land. As Portland densifies, having spaces like the cemetery still around could be increasingly valuable.

You can argue that the subsidy isn’t worth it, but saying there’s “no legitimate reason” for it is only one opinion that’s not at all universally shared.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

It’s not a valuable resource to the public if you can’t use it like a park. And it isn’t a valuable natural resource because it is 90% water-intensive, chemically maintained grass. Riverview has a decent amount of trees, but most cemeteries have very little natural value. They contribute to sprawl and increase commuting distances and CO2 emissions for the region.

If you care about the environment at all, you choose cremation.

q
Guest
q

Cremation is great, but it’s not an option for the people already buried there.

It’s not 90% grass. Look at the entire Riverview ownership and it’s about half dense wooded areas.

Many people would disagree with your belief that there’s no public value if you can’t use it like a park.

There are some good arguments against the tax breaks. But yours aren’t.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

“Many people would disagree with your belief that there’s no public value if you can’t use it like a park.”

So what is the value? Animal habitat?

q
Guest
q

A few:

1. Prime, regionally important historical resource.
2. Open to people walking and on bikes using it as a transportation route.
3. Open to the public to stroll in as a quiet, contemplative open space.
4. Several acres of tree canopy
5. Several acres of pervious surface
6. Yes, wildlife habitat.

Matt H
Guest
Matt H

Well, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, cemeteries are a good place to hang out, ironically. You can see the zombies coming from a long ways away, and the local residents should be safely decomposed or at least significantly below ground.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

It’s subjective. If you don’t care about sprawl and CO2 emissions, of course you won’t consider it a good argument.

In many cases, cemeteries do great harm to the connectivity and fabric of our city. A great example is Rose City cemetery. It lacks public access on 3 sides, so it essentially functions as an impassible super block spanning NE 47th to NE 57th, making pedestrian/bike trips longer and more dangerous in the Cully neighborhood. Lone Fir creates the same issues in inner-SE, although with a much smaller impact since it is only impassible on the north side.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“cemeteries do great harm to the connectivity and fabric of our city.”

I suppose this was meant as a joke?

By that logic we should do away with buildings and rivers, anything that interrupts flow. Cities are about so much more than getting through, unless of course you are Robert Moses.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Rose city cemetery creates a 1/2 mile unpassable stretch. It can force people to walk or bike 3 times as far as they should need to in order to go north and south between 47th and 57th avenue. I can’t think of many buildings that are 1/2 mile long and 1/4 mile wide. A half mile detour is a significant barrier to walking places.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I guess what I find troubling here is the privileging of [your] entitlement to direct access, straight line travel through a city, over so many other things: culture, tradition, land use, ownership.

Others here have lamented the steepness of the hill as if this too were an affront.

q
Guest
q

On top of your points, here’s perhaps the most ironic one–the cemetery doesn’t allow cut-through auto traffic, but it does allow cut-through walking and biking. Car cut-throughs still happen because they haven’t figured out a way to determine who’s cutting through and who’s a legitimate visitor. But they do try, with partially closing the gates, etc. And they still allow bike through-traffic despite having problems from disrespectful bikers.

The result is that the cemetery rewards people who walk or bike over people who drive. Shouldn’t we be PRAISING that???

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

I don’t think you know what the word “privilege” means, all I said was that I didn’t think we should be heavily subsidizing a land use that has a negative impact on the city. One of the things that makes the parts of portland that people want to live in so desirable is a quality uninterrupted grid network and yes I would like to see that encouraged rather than discouraged.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“I didn’t think we should be heavily subsidizing a land use that has a negative impact on the city.”

When you’re in a hole, stop digging?

What is this negative impact you keep insisting on? Most people here seem delighted by the place, and by the fact that people biking are still allowed to go through there.

jeff
Guest
jeff

right? does he know how many homeless people would be living in a publicly accessible cemetery in this town?

q
Guest
q

Bjorn–Riverview is bounded by a natural area to the south, a highway to the east, and Taylors Ferry and a cemetery to the north and west. There is no street grid existing adjacent to it on any of its sides, so it is impossible to continue a street grid that does not exist.

Plus, it’s a steep area with ravines and envionmental conservation and protection overlays running all over through it. Putting a street grid within it would be insane even if it were possible, which it isn’t.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

Have to say that I’ve never seen any “campers” in this public cemetery:
http://www.oregonmetro.gov/historic-cemeteries/multnomah-park-cemetery

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

9, people view it positively because it’s currently essentially being used as a park. Close off access and many people’s opinions may change.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Um… Bjorn didn’t say ‘might in future have a negative impact on the city’; he seems to hold the view that it is already negative. That was what I was responding to.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

>>> One of the things that makes the parts of portland that people want to live in so desirable is… <<<

Facts suggest that SW is pretty desired, and, therefore, desirable, even without a street grid uninterrupted by cemeteries.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

My points about the obstruction reference not Riverview but another cemetery that offers no thru access rose city cemetery. I understand Riverview isn’t in a grid system, but rose city certainly disrupts one. I don’t think we should subsidize any cemetery.

q
Guest
q

Arguments like your “it’s 90% grass” aren’t subjective, they’re just wrong. Caring or not caring about sprawl and CO2 emissions doesn’t change that.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Actually there is no reason why bodies couldn’t be exhumed and cremated now and the land converted to housing. If people want to control this land permanently then they should be paying the full cost of doing so and that would include paying taxes on the land. Of course if people actually had to pay the full societal cost of being buried in the ground in perpetuity everyone would just choose cremation to begin with.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Actually there is no reason why bodies couldn’t be exhumed and cremated now and the land converted to housing.”

Are you folks for real?!

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

There is quite a bit of precedent for the removal of cemeteries. Singapore has removed many of theirs. They are a horrible land use choice in a city but I am not terribly opposed if they pay taxes etc, but as it is in Oregon they are one of the most subsidized businesses we have which is ridiculous.

BB
Guest
BB

Only people who don’t worship corpses..

9watts
Guest
9watts

Soylent Green.

= problem solved.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

What??!!!?? Exhuming people?? For development? To cram more more more more more more more people in? Does Portland really honestly have to be completely terraformed to serve the needs of people who don’t even live here (yet), over the needs of actual people living here? My head is ready to explode from the constant calls to tear this city down to the studs in order to accommodate the horde. Is there no end to it? At least dead people are quiet and hate festivals and scenes too–like me. Good gud. Rant over. Sorry. I need to get out of this city. Everything, everything about it anymore just makes me feel crazy.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I would suggest you watch the excellent documentary “Pet Sematary”. It may convince you this is a bad idea.

q
Guest
q

The cemetery is a regional historical treasure. Should we also tear down historical buildings that don’t max out the development potential at their sites? By the way, those historical buildings also get tax breaks. The cemetery is as valuable a historical resource as just about any historical building, plus a natural open space that allows visitors freely.

And of course (obviously) one group it allows in is people on bikes. That’s quite a public benefit in itself.

If your backyard has tremendous historical value, and you allow visitors to come and go freely, even if only to get from one side of your property to the other, then you’ve got a comparison.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

Interestingly, it looks like Riverview already tried to do that themselves:

“River View Cemetery occupies approximately 350 acres (140 ha) on the west slope of the Willamette River, south of Downtown Portland, but approximately half of the property is not a developed cemetery.[8] Initially, this excess land was held for future expansion of the cemetery, but demographic trends away from burial (in favor of cremation) have reduced the need for future expansion. For example, in 1973 eight percent of Oregonians chose cremation, versus 68 percent in 2010.[9]

In 2006, the River View Cemetery Association sought to develop 184 acres (74 ha) of their surplus land into residential properties, and filed a $24 million compensation claim under Oregon Ballot Measures 37 (2004) and 49 (2007).[10] In 2007, the River View Cemetery Association submitted an application to change the zoning of the surplus land from open space to single-family residential for 182 housing units.[11] On May 2, 2011, the City of Portland announced that it had agreed to purchase 146 acres (59 ha) of this undeveloped surplus land for $11.25 million, which will be managed by Portland Parks & Recreation with the initial goals of habitat stabilization, removal of invasive species, and trail and access planning.[12]”

-per wikipedia

q
Guest
q

That sounds like a good outcome. I’m glad the land became publicly owned natural area vs. developed.

It seems like the long-term transportation solution could be some sort of publicly-owned bike and pedestrian route through public land or an easement, and not through the middle of the grave sites.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Wait–were you kidding? Feeling foolish now…

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

(that was meant for Bjorn, about the exhuming, ‘n’ all)

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

No not kidding at all. Currently in Singapore if you want to choose a burial over cremation the longest lease of a cemetery plot available is only 15 years. Some people may be squeamish about such things, but there is no logistical reason why cemeteries that sit on valuable inner city land can’t be converted into a more beneficial and appropriate use. Dozens of cemeteries were decommissioned in San Francisco, I assume there are probably places that were once cemeteries that are now homes and businesses in Portland as well. If they want to keep operating I think that is fine, but they should be paying property taxes like any other business would.

9watts
Guest
9watts

highest and best use
sure, whatever.

q
Guest
q

But Riverview’s zoning doesn’t allow homes or businesses. It’s zoned for open space.

How’d you like it to be turned into a private golf course, with zero bike access, or for that matter, zero public access at all even for walking past a gate? Would that work for you?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The best use of a large parcel in some parts of the city right now would be a park.

q
Guest
q

Absolutely. And parks allow density to be higher around them, without losing livability. So can cemeteries for that matter.

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

Having private open space like the cemetery is a public benefit? How so? Should I get a tax exemption for having a big backyard? (Irony note: many of our privileged friends in the west hills do exactly that, by way of their handy–and bogus–farm and forest deferrals)

fourknees
Guest
fourknees

I agree this is a sensitive issue and has a unique perspective with the private property and lack of another safe and direct routes, but I could get feedback from people on bikes or on feet and get these same comments about bikes lanes, greenways, or a sunday parkways event.

1. “Thank you, thank you for no cars this weekend.”
2. “Thank you for keeping cars out on this holiday.”
3. “Love the no cars on Memorial Day. No car signs are great. No Cars!”
4. “Thank you for not having cars in the bike lane.”
5. “Glad there are not so many cars this year. They should not be allowed in bike lanes anyway. This is no place for them – they are rude people.”
6. “I am really glad that cars weren’t allowed in here on Memorial Day – thank you!!!”
7. “Thank you for closing the streets to cars for this weekend. It created a peaceful atmosphere.”
8. “Thanks for not having cars going through today – we were able to concentrate on the pathways rather than watching out for speeding cars!”
9. “Saw two cars – would be nice if they obeyed signs.”
10. “Saw cars – not good.”
11. “The weekend ban on ‘no cars’ did not work. Wish the cars would slow down!!”
12. “Stop the cars 365 days a year. I pay for the roads; this is my street. Why do I have to listen to car drivers cussing about the ‘bike lanes’? I’m sick of being interrupted by rude, inconsiderate car drivers.”

Maybe give positive feedback to the cemetery so they can hear from those that appreciate the access? http://www.riverviewcemetery.org/contact-us/
And send an email to the city commissioners to push for alternate route improvements?

Chris
Guest
Chris

Has prohibiting downhill bike traffic been discussed with the cemetery owners as a less extreme alternative than closing it to bikes entirely? Obviously not ideal, but descending Taylor’s Ferry is not nearly as bad as ascending it, and I would think that most complaints arise from riders descending through the cemetery.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This is a great idea. Only the extreme anti-cyclist types could get upset about Freds crawling up the hill on the weekends. Getting buzzed by people flying down the hill is a legitimate concern, and this would resolve it. Enforcement is always the tricky part, though.

KTaylor
Guest
KTaylor

Taylor’s Ferry is still dangerous and harrowing going downhill due to driver speed and hegemony – not a safe bet for people who don’t number among the fast and fearless – or for people with respiratory issues.

ben B
Guest
ben B

why would you use a word like “hegemony”. 99% of people will have to look up the definition for. quit showing off.

KTaylor
Guest
KTaylor

Dude – have to use that expensive college education somehow. 🙂 Plus I think it was pretty easy to figure out from context.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

Did you study under Dr. Robert Fulford by any chance? It was one of his favorite words.

K Taylor
Guest
K Taylor

No! You can really get a feel for the preoccupations of someone whose favorite word was ‘hegemony’ though. 🙂

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

Heaven forbid they should actually learn something by reading the comments section of a blog on the internet..

pengo
Guest
pengo

Ben, my research clearly shows that 99% of people do not think that 99% of people will have to look up the definition for.

rick
Guest
rick

I prefer riding downhill on Taylor’s Ferry compared to riding in the cemetery, but the potholes and ruts are staggering.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Not ideal. How are bike commuters to Lewis and Clark supposed to get home? Taylor’s Ferry? Seriously?

JPrepSW
Guest
JPrepSW

I think they would/could take Terwilliger to Barbur to Corbett to waterfront/Sellwood bridge, depending on your destination. It is a lovely ride. The SW side is severely lacking in facilities, but there are decent routes to be knitted. I personally do not like the cemetery as it winds and winds forever, and take Corbett anyway.

poopsmith
Guest
poopsmith

Brian
OBRA email list?
Recommended 2

This definitely needs to be communicated more through the ranks of OBRA.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

I am afraid that when you combine the behavior of some cyclists during the closure and the behavior of a large percentage of motorists while driving and watch just a little bit of the nightly news and you come to the inevitable conclusion that a large percentage of Americans are unrepentant Jerks. Not sure if it is the fast food diet, too much television, poorly prescribed meds or bad parenting but it seems a conclusion that is hard to ignore. A sad conclusion, but the sooner we realize this the sooner we will stop fooling our selves that everyone will behave with proper guidance and incentives.

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

Well, it turns out skewed polls are skewed. That’s a shocker.

Justin M
Guest
Justin M

I was so glad to find the way home through the cemetery a couple months back. Beautiful ride. How anyone could be so disrespectful riding thru is beyond me. I mean, clearly we are guests, and they are being very gracious to allow us to pass through, for free, in a place where people are saying goodbye to or visiting their loved ones. Some people are so freaking selfish and they don’t care how their behavior reflects on all of us.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

In my own defense, it is a rather large hill.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

While I can’t say why the folks who ignored the signs stating the bicycles were prohibited did so, it could be possible that many of them simply did not see, as in read and comprehend, the signs. Even standard regulatory signage stating speed limits and stop signs are completely missed by almost all motorists, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that a few people on bikes would fail to register non-standard signs.

Could it also be possible for someone to interpret the signs to mean that bikes were only prohibited on the weekend and holiday proper, which would be Saturday through Monday?

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I seriously doubt they’d ask a cyclist who’d come to visit a plot to leave. Under normal circumstances, I suspect such a person wouldn’t even be noticed and even with the unfavorable recent attention, I doubt there’d be an issue if the rider explained what they were doing. They might not even need to explain anything since it might be obvious from their movement.

Bikes aren’t the issue, it’s that people aren’t conducting themselves appropriately in a cemetery. Anyone who zips around in a car isn’t going to make any friends there either.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

I’m surprised no one has really mentioned the city’s role in all of this. They have basically normalized this route by making a very direct facility off the Sellwood bridge that goes directly through/to it. I’m not excusing riders lashing out at the staff (keep it polite people), but I imagine that most of them view Riverview as just a normal city street (or even as a city-owned cemetery). The city of Portland seems to pretty clearly be encouraging people to bike through the cemetery. Thus when all of a sudden out of the blue cyclists are randomly stopped on a ride or commuting home (and I know a lot of us get defensive when stopped on our bikes expecting some reprimand or to be yelled at), I could see a little confusion (even if there were signs at the entrance).
To me so much of this falls on the city for enabling this situation.

Either they need to get an easement through the cemetery or they shouldn’t be openly promoting this critical (and awesome) route (which apparently could be taken away at any moment).

q
Guest
q

They bridge was built by the County, but otherwise you’re right–it directs people straight into the cemetery. The design of that east end is awful.

The City also encourages use of the cemetery route by failing to provide safe, reasonable alternative routes. It’s not fair of the City to put the cemetery in the position of having to accommodate people on bikes (and pedestrians) in order to avoid leaving them without a reasonable alternative route.

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

Nominating this as MVC (Most Valuable Comment). The redesign of the Sellwood, whoever did it, essentially creates a RoW for cyclists to head into Riverview. Without securing an easement, there is no reason the city or county should be able to connect a RoW to it or promote it as a RoW and ought to be responsible for creating a safe route into the SW hills area on order to provide access to important assets like Lewis and Clark and Tryon Creek State Park.

If there were an easement, the RoW could be patrolled by city officials which in turn could provide peace of mind for cemetery management and stop the constant threats of closure. Yes, disrespectful behavior is an issue, but it’s one society faces as a whole, and it’s the reason we have things like a police force. The comments put forth in the article reek of anti-bike bias, as do the cemetery management’s typical threats of closure. Having an easement in place puts an end to action based on that bias (e.g., the installation of dangerous, non-standard speed bumps) and puts regulation of the path in the hands of an officially sanctioned body. Riverview could still apply for special event closure permits for holidays like Memorial Day, just as any body can do for any RoW within reason.

An easement is not taking the path from Riverview, it’s a reasonable compromise which puts responsibility in the right places for all parties.

q
Guest
q

PAYING Riverview for an easement could be a fine solution.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

apparently the city has already paid them a bunch of money to buy land from Riverview:
“On May 2, 2011, the City of Portland announced that it had agreed to purchase 146 acres (59 ha) of this undeveloped surplus land for $11.25 million, which will be managed by Portland Parks & Recreation with the initial goals of habitat stabilization, removal of invasive species, and trail and access planning.[12]”

So there is clearly a relationship already in place. Would $11.25M be enough to have Riverview throw in an easement?

Veen
Guest
Veen

What’s the line here? I understand that the place was closed to bikes Memorial day weekend. But in the general case, my reading of JM’s commentary is along the lines of: “Don’t ride your bike in the cemetery because otherwise you won’t be able to ride your bike in the cemetery.” Am I missing something?

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

it’s easier to ride up
SW La Veiw DR
or SW Fulton Park Blvd…
then around to Custer St to Brier Pl, then hit up Barbur…
then go down Taylors Ferry Rd..pretty easy to keep up with cars down down the hill…

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

How is that easier? It’s definitely more dangerous and stressful.

rick
Guest
rick

La View is a quiet road.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I know, I grew up a few blocks away. My problem is Barbur, Terwilliger, and Taylor’s Ferry. These cannot be compared to the bucolic road through Riverview.

Adam
Subscriber

If bikes end up banned, we should all ride down Taylors Ferry in a Critical Mass style ride during Friday afternoon rush hour at a suuuper slow clip. All the car commuters will be begging River View to let us back in!

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

And tell all of the drivers it was Adam H’s idea!

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

To heck with that. Taylor’s Ferry is one of the more fun and safe roads to bomb down as threats from the sides are minimal, sight lines are decent, and car speeds are reasonable when the road is unimpeded.

q
Guest
q

Actually if you are moving at all on a Friday at rush hour, you’ll be passing cars downhill. You’d almost have to camp out on the street to slow traffic.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

That’s why I put the “when the road is unimpeded” qualifier. This hill is most fun when traffic is light and cars are moving full speed. I can understand why it would make people uncomfortable, but it’s not as unsafe as it looks. Visual lines are good for drivers and riders alike — I’ve never had problems there.

The cemetery is a nice place for a quiet ride, but it’s no place for training. Aside from appropriateness concerns, it’s not long enough unless you want to do laps. The west hills offer many light traffic options better suited for however people like to ride.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I grew up just up the hill from that stretch of Taylor’s Ferry, and I can only recall maybe seeing a dozen riders going up or down the hill during my childhood. You are a special breed.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I suspect that’s partly due to geography. For many destinations, you don’t save time by climbing up Taylor’s Ferry. Going downhill is a blast — you can break 45mph with good aerodynamics. I wouldn’t even consider another way down unless traffic is messed up.

Even climbing in fast traffic isn’t that bad. Great sight lines, excellent bail opportunities (which I’ve never needed), and the relative straightness makes it easy to herd cars.

I personally feel that many cyclists overrate the dangers of vehicle speed and lack of separation, but that they underrate other aspects of their threat profile — especially those related to visibility, predictability, response options, and sheer number/variety of threats to manage.

Al Dimond
Guest

Most people don’t want to ride 45 MPH. I don’t really want to hit those speeds even in the mountains with no cars around, and I am, though arguably not a “real roadie”, at least the closest person to that many of my friends know! If having the skill, strength, health, and equipment to descend this way is a requirement for urban cycling, few people will do it. And those that do will often do so only over a pretty short part of their lives and in pretty limited circumstances. If you’re fine with that you’re fine with that, but it’s going to be a minority view on a bike advocacy blog!

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Point taken, though I might dispute the short window during which this is possible for those so inclined.

I would think that anyone engaged in training could potentially handle this hill. For those wanting a good place to do repeats nearby where you can descend slowly without mad handling skilz or having negative interactions with traffic, Corbett is an excellent alternative. But repeats are boring. For those who enjoy scenery, light traffic, and variety, the west hills are a better alternative with enough variety to meet many preferences.

Cemeteries are inappropriate for training, competitive sports, and just about any activity that doesn’t lend itself to contemplation. If I managed the cemetery, I doubt I’d be more generous than the current owners.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

Kyle, you realize that repeats (which you peg as “boring”) are a pretty established component of many people who are “training”, right?

It’s funny as I’ve done plenty of “training” both running and on the bike in public cemeteries in other parts of the country without ever having any issues. The big issue here is public vs. private.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I understand that — used to do repeats, intervals, etc. myself back in the day.

I have also ridden all out near cemeteries in various locations over the years. But those were on rural roads passing by cemeteries where I was the only one around. What we have here is totally different. This is more of a path that goes through an area with a garden of remembrance vibe that serves as an oasis in a major metropolitan area.

This cemetery strikes me as especial poorly suited for training and there are better alternatives nearby.

This is not a good issue for cyclists to burn political capital on for the simple reason that this is an appropriateness rather than a cycling issue. Those wanting to ride hard, play ultimate frisbee, do dog agility, or stuff that doesn’t belong near mourners in a graveyard should choose one of the many other and better options.

Al Dimond
Guest

What’s the window? For high-speed descending in traffic, let’s start it at the minimum driving age of 16, for the same reason that exists. And of people that are ever willing to do that, at what point does the average one effectively age out? I think 50 is a generous estimate — not that nobody will do it past that age, but that most people willing to do it at some point won’t be at 50.

FWIW I generally avoid being through-traffic in any cemetery or on the grounds, even the parking lot, of a cemetery or funeral home. I think doing repeats through a cemetery is a terrible idea — the idea would never strike me, and if anyone invited me to do that with them I would certainly decline! This particular one is situated such that for many people it’s by far their best route to somewhere else they want to go. It would be better if there was a good way to enforce rules against people actually breaking them, instead of trying at collective punishment…

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

There are a lot of cyclists in the 50+ category that enjoy speed (myself included) even if they are not representative.

I’ve ridden through the cemetery before. Nice place, but I took it relaxed. Cemeteries aren’t the only nice places to ride protected from traffic are inappropriate for high speed riding. MUPs are also like that.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“… at what point does the average one effectively age out? I think 50 is a generous estimate…”

Glad I’m not average. I’m a virtual hair’s-breadth away from 50, but I don’t plan on burning my brakes any more when I get there than I do now.

rick
Guest
rick

Earlier this week, I saw a person riding a bike downhill, traveling southbound on SW Scholls Ferry Road by Sylvan. They were heading downhill on the 500 foot drop in elevation. I’ve taken that route several times this year downhill and I rode up that tree-lined road a few times in the winter with the snow and the quiet morning of Christmas day. Riding downhill allows the opportunity to mostly use the brakes just once at the traffic light at SW Patton Road.

PeaDub
Subscriber
PeaDub

Could have been me… I love that descent. But the road surface is terrible right now because everyone who lives in the West Hills runs bloody studded tires on their cars for the entire allowable season, which destroys the asphalt in a matter of months. Studded tires need to be banned; the studless snow/ice tires made these days have equivalent (or better) winter performance and don’t cause (additional) harm to road surfaces.

pdx2wheeler
Guest
pdx2wheeler

I just plotted my new route to work through the cemetery, from West Linn. Literally the next day this story pops-up that’s it’s being closed over the Holiday, and could be forever. Christ I need this! Otherwise my only choice is up Hwy 43 to Plantine Hill through back roads until I hit 43 again downhill…

Don’t f this up people!

rick
Guest
rick

Did you know that West Linn has made a Highway 43 study plan ?

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

Considering the crappy attitudes displayed by some of the cycling community on this forum I’m surprised the cemetery lets people ride there at all. Consider yourselves lucky.

rick
Guest
rick

Ever notice the hostile attitude and actions expressed by people driving cars on bike routes? The 45 mph so frequent on Terwilliger Parkway, a place never meant as a rat race blvd ?

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

That’s not the point. We are talking about the cemetary and lack of respect paid towards it.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

Hear! Hear!

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

Do you know anyone laid to rest there? I do. Please step back from yourself and think of this place as more than just your bike route.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

I think was a misplaced reply. I actually do though, and he was an avid cyclist and would be really stoked to have people biking by his grave all the time. But I get that he’s not probably in the majority.

q
Guest
q

I guess the related question is what he’d think of the people riding through disrespectfully, jeopardizing the ability of the majority to ride past his grave.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

I don’t think he would find them “disrespectful” at all he loved riding and skiing fast.

Mike Reams
Guest
Mike Reams

I suspect that most of the people visiting a cemetary are either elderly or, have an elderly person in their group. Although, this is just my intuition, I don’t have any data.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

People oblivious to anything not three feet away from them (or just plain entitled freds) ruin it for everyone.

J_R
Guest
J_R

I ride through the cemetery a few times a year. I find it to be a beneficial route due to the lack of alternatives. I think I am very courteous when I use the routes through the cemetery and that most other cyclists are, too. I have definitely encountered some cyclists who are definitely operating at excessive speed and who are not courteous.

Several years ago, there were some issues about the use of the cemetery and an article in Bikeportland mentioned the need for funds for the cemetery to provide some signing and pavement markings. I gladly sent in my $20, which I think helped fund the signs and markings.

I’d hate to see the cemetery closed to all cyclists because of a few a***oles.

Dan Kaufman
Guest

I rode to visit my mother’s plot on Sunday and had to walk my bike up. People were allowed to drive their cars.

I wondered to myself, how many people were put here because of automobile wrecks?

q
Guest
q

Yes, I think drivers use it as a cut-through to avoid Taylors Ferry backups, and people who bike there have mentioned seeing drivers cutting through. I also bet drivers are ending up in there by mistake now due to Sellwood Bridge directly its westbound traffic directly into the cemetery.

K Taylor
Guest
K Taylor

It all comes down to most people being more willing to give a car the benefit of the doubt. If visitors and owners could always easily recognize a cut-through car, they’d be more up in arms about those too, I think (and yes – there are a lot of them).

Dan Kaufman
Guest

John, yes. I was told by a soldier that I needed to walk my bike even though I was there to visit my mother’s grave.

q
Guest
q

Bjorn
Rose city cemetery creates a 1/2 mile unpassable stretch. It can force people to walk or bike 3 times as far as they should need to in order to go north and south between 47th and 57th avenue. I can’t think of many buildings that are 1/2 mile long and 1/4 mile wide. A half mile detour is a significant barrier to walking places.
Recommended 2

Luckily we don’t have that issue at Riverview. Riverview blocks cars, but not people walking or biking. It rewards those who walk and bike, and gives them a far more preferable route than other available options.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Exactly. It is fantastic that they do that. The whole point of this article is that they are threatening to ban cyclists all year. We are arguing that because of the problems cemeteries present (barriers to travel, tax-exempt control of valuable land, etc) that they have a duty to work with the public to maintain access. They shouldn’t be threatening to close off access to everyone, they should be threatening to enforce bad behavior. They have the right to kick individuals off of the property. That should be their first response to this issue, not a complete ban.

q
Guest
q

They’ve been having problems with bad cyclists for years. Trying to stop the bad behavior WAS their first response. They are STILL taking that approach.

Don’t think that people aren’t understanding your arguments. They’re just not all agreeing with them, especially the ones that are flat out wrong, such as (I don’t recall who wrote them all) the cemetery has no public value unless it’s open like a park, Riverview is 90% grass, etc.

I think most people (including me) think there are some valid arguments against the tax breaks, but only the valid ones are valid.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The Memorial Day ban was not their first response. This has been an ongoing issue for some time, as their past conversations with BTA attest. It is not their job to “enforce” anything, and it’s not clear how they could even if they wanted to.

K Taylor
Guest
K Taylor

It wasn’t all that long ago that they were having issues with people climbing through the arbor vitae hedge bordering Palatine Hill Road and riding their bikes over the graves to get to the path. That’s why they installed that huge fence, which can’t have been cheap. For a lot of people, that would have been the last straw. It’s actually pretty impressive they’ve remained interested in making this work.

Carrie
Guest
Carrie

Riverview Cemetary is the only reasonable way for me to ride in that part of the city WITH MY CHILDREN. My children are teenagers and good riders, but I’m not comfortable riding with them on Terwilliger (that I ride regularly), let alone any of the other proposed options. I am incredibly grateful the private owners let us ride through there so that we can get to everywhere as close as Tryon Creek State Park and as far as the Canby Ferry from our house. Those of you who are suggesting that anyone can ride any of the other suggested routes, does not ride frequently with those that should not.

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

Respect for others is more important than your comfortable bike route. Put the blame where it belongs…on Portland’s abysmal leadership. Not the souls in that cemetery.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

There is no such thing as a soul. Your obsession with dead bodies is quite odd.

And yes, I have several family members buried at Riverview.

q
Guest
q

Is that really necessary to accuse someone of having “an obsession with dead bodies” for saying “souls in that cemetery”? Mossby’s point was a good one.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Cemeteries are for the living, not the dead.

q
Guest
q

On top of that, “soul” can have a religious meaning, but it’s also simply a synonym for “person” (“merry olde souls”, etc.). If it’s used as the latter, then of course there’s such a thing as a soul, unless you don’t believe people exist.

If it was being used as the former–the religious meaning–shame on you for telling someone their religious belief is invalid.

Now back to talking about bike traffic in the cemetery…

9watts
Guest
9watts
dwk
Guest
dwk

I am not a religious person, but I am also not a bigot….

Tom
Guest
Tom

Defining what is respectfull and what is not seems subjectI’ve and open to interpretation. To me, a car spewing exhaust onto a grave site is disrespectfull, especially since many who are buried there died in car collisions. A parent transporting kids on a bike does not seem all that disrespectfull, unless you just hate bikes.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Sure,
but to me what is most disrespectful here in these comments is telling the folks at Riverview how they should rank disrespectfulness.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Fine but where is the official published ranking list. How is anyone supposed to know, is my point.

9watts
Guest
9watts

The folks at Riverview get to make this call; it is their property.

q
Guest
q

I get the feeling most people riding through Riverview and commenting here know pretty clearly what Riverview thinks is disrespectful.

If I’m wrong, and many people really ARE confused, then I can’t blame Riverview if it decides to ban bikes.

q
Guest
q

Riverview doesn’t seem to think parents transporting kids on bikes is disrespectful, either.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

…………………………….

I don’t think a cyclist-mourner would’ve been turned away in the past, John. But because, over time, several cyclists have been thoughtless, selfish and rude, cyclists are now persona non grata. Actions; consequences. Why on earth should the cemetery be feeling warm and fuzzy toward any of us, given the egregious serial bad behavior they and their mourners have been subject to at the hands (er, wheels) of cyclists? Their ban on Memorial Day Weekend was completely understandable, and logical.

Adam
Subscriber

I’ve seen a few inconsiderate drivers. Perhaps we should just ban driving!

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Well, I’m all for that, Adam. As you know. 🙂 I have a feeling the scofflaw cyclists outweigh the scofflaw motorists, though–it’s much harder to sneak a car through there, though I know people do it.

Randy
Guest
Randy

L.A. will add bike and bus lanes, cut car lanes in sweeping policy shift
http://lat.ms/1IE75fu

RB
Guest
RB

Adam H.
Sorry, but if your agenda is “we need to stop those dangerous cyclists by adding police enforcement” I’m not buying it.
Recommended 0

You have no idea what my agenda is…but it’s certainly not cop-hating no matter the topic.

BB
Guest
BB

Failing to be an apologist for institutionalized police bigotry and abuse of power doesn’t make someone a “cop hater” while at the same time ignoring the fact that these things are rampant and should be addressed does make someone part of the problem.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Does failing to mention the real and serious (and very complex) issue of police abuse when discussing unrelated issues like bike policy in a cemetery make one part of the problem?

Amy
Guest
Amy

Like many, I commute daily through RVC. It saddens me that some cyclists behave disrespectfully to the property owners. This is why routes/trails get shut down. Riders should remember they are not the only ones in the world who ride/drive on the roads. I’m going to be a part of the group mentioned by K. Taylor.

q
Guest
q

I went past Riverview’s Taylors Ferry entrance this weekend, so stopped to see what its entrance sign said, if anything, about cut-through vehicle traffic. Several comments here criticized Riverview for cracking down on bike through traffic, while letting cars go through.

The sign clearly prohibits through traffic. It states:

THIS IS PRIVATE PROPERTY
Dogs Are Not Permitted on The Premises
No Skateboarding
NO THROUGH TRAFFIC
PLEASE RESPECT THE SANCTITY OF THIS CEMETERY

“THIS IS PRIVATE PROPERTY” AND “NO THROUGH TRAFFIC” couldn’t be clearer about prohibiting motor vehicle through traffic. We know the cemetery does allow through traffic on bicycles. We know cars cut through, too, but as many here have commented, that’s not because the cemetery doesn’t care, it’s because it doesn’t have a good way to enforce it, and to distinguish which cars entering are there legitimately, and which are there to cut through.

rick
Guest
rick

When did the “No Through Traffic” sign get installed? Is it on every entrance to the cemetery?

q
Guest
q

I think it may have been there for years on Taylors Ferry, based on my memory. I don’t know about the upper entrance. I see signs on google on the gate, but can’t read them.

noname
Guest
noname

have found gate at top of cemetery fully closed at night twice in the past week.

rick
Guest
rick

I thought that is standard. It is closed at night.

noname
Guest
noname

perhaps so, but in the past 6 months, I have descended via cemetery around 20 times after dark at varying hours and this is the first I have seen it closed tight.

previously, the upper gate has always been open enough for bikes to pass – with the chain locked high overhead and loose enough to leave a gap.

I will be heading east from that area tonight & might check again, though it is somewhat out of the way. I find it more peaceful, prefer to ride it when time allows.

Fred
Guest
Fred

Serious question for Johnathan: can you or someone clarify the 4pm lower gate closure and how it pertains to cyclists? I wasn’t entirely sure even based on reading the signs. I’d thought bicycles were allowed during normal operation hours, their website states office is open until 5 and the grounds are open until dusk — yet i’m not clear if the lower gate closing at 4pm means no bike access at that point after 4pm, or if the whole cemetary is defacto closed to bikes after 4pm.

?????

Matt H
Guest
Matt H

So, just calling this out here:

If I were told that a bike route were to be closed over Memorial Day Weekend, I would assume that the closure was Saturday-Monday. I’d have to look at the sign really closely to notice that Friday was included in the closure too.

Aside from that, people are creatures of habit and miss seeing signs if they’re not looking for them. Tom Vanderbilt talks about this in _Traffic_; that this is one of the worst ways to advertise a change in the norm in the road rules.

q
Guest
q

What would you have recommended instead?

igor
Guest
igor

The cemetery was closed to bike traffic this morning due to a repaving project on the lower slopes (where there is no detour available), so I got a chance to see what it was like riding up to Terwilliger on Taylor’s Ferry. Answer: not so nice. Lots of traffic, and much of it high-speed. No bike lanes.

There’s a better alternative using La View that you can take from the lower slopes of Taylor’s Ferry, but it’s still not as nice as River View.

The cemetery has been closing its lower gates in the late afternoon since August 1st. Not every day, but somewhat randomly. In addition, they have a chain across the road at the top of the first incline, probably because that’s a better place for cars to turn around. Bikes can get around both the chain and the closed lower gate.