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Comment of the Week: Entitled bike riders are a thing, and it’s not helping

The case of Mark Holzmann and the allegedly enraged revenge-seeker on two wheels is unprecedented on BikePortland.

We’ve covered many road rage stories over the years. We’ve covered vandalism. We’ve covered bad actors on both sides of the windshield. But we’ve never had a story where the car user sought publicity and then participated in our comment section once the story was posted. Holzmann has even earned a few fans due to his candid and tactful responses.

The discussion around Holzmann’s story has been interesting to say the least. Right after I posted it, many commenters both here and on our social media channels were skeptical. Some felt it might be even be an elaborate hoax (the term “false flag” popped up). Among the wide range of opinions shared, many of you expressed sympathy for Holzmann and disappointment that some readers didn’t believe him.

Jim Labbe shared one of the most noteworthy comments on the thread. And it’s my choice for Comment of the Week:

“Frankly I am surprised how many people here want to question Mark’s authenticity, speculate wildly on his motives, and quickly assume he is understating the harm to which he put the cyclist. He didn’t post the story here; he shared it with Jonathan. He also acknowledged his mistake. In light of all that, I am also surprised how few people dismiss or ignore the truly scary behavior of the planned revenge vandalism.

I don’t have any more facts than anyone else, but find his story quite possibly happened exactly as he describes it. Here is why.


I have cycled in Portland since the 1980s. I have observed improvements in both the culture and the infrastructure even if far short of what it needs to be for truly safe (vision zero) streets. But I have also observed an increase in the number of angry people on the road who clearly bring frustrations to road interactions that have nothing to do with the immediate situation. They are always men, which says a lot to me.

And many of these angry, combative and, yes, entitled individuals are on bikes. The fact that the ones in cars are 100 times more dangerous doesn’t change that fact. The Portlandia skit from years back was not off the mark. These are the cyclists that cycle like some drivers drive; they have adopted the competitive, short-tempered car culture (with a little extra self-righteousness) that, despite some positive trends, still dominates our streets.

This combative and vindictive anger does nothing to dismantle the car dominated culture and transportation system that puts human lives and the planet at risk every day.”

Given the details and context of this story — and it’s potential to bring out the worst in people — I am very proud of the fact that our comment thread has been mostly vibrant, robust, and productive. That says a lot about you as readers and a lot about the community that orbits around this site. Yes, the comments have been messy (I’ve gotten a few emails from people I respect who are dismayed at the opinions expressed in them), but I’ve never wanted to manage a clean and tidy discussion. I don’t think we get work done unless we embrace the fact that when people come together around sensitive and controversial topics there will often be ruffled feathers, challenged assumptions, and a few feelings hurt.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read the comment thread. I appreciate everyone who has participated.

And thank you Jim Labbe for your thoughtful comment. You’ve got a BikePortland sticker pack coming to you!

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

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