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Our annual don’t be a jerk in River View Cemetery post

Posted by on March 20th, 2019 at 2:10 pm

Please slow down and ride with respect for others.
(Photo: BikePortland)

One thing I’ve realized about doing daily local news in a fast-growing city is that even if we’ve covered something several times, many people who are new to town are still in the dark about some things.

At least I hope that’s the case with a recent incident in River View Cemetery.

So if you’re new to town, please listen up: That forested path through the cemetery that takes you safely between the Sellwood Bridge and SW Palatine Hill Road/SW Terwilliger Blvd is private property. We are extremely lucky that the Board of Directors of the nonprofit that runs the cemetery have given us (via the City of Portland) the right to pass through. They do this because there is no other direct and safe option. And because they are nice people. Suffice it to say, the River View path is a gem that’s used and adored by many — from commuters to racers and weekend warriors — and it’s a privilege to use it, not a right.

“If this guy would have hit me, I would have been in the hospital with several broken bones.”

Longtime readers of this site will recall that we first raised a red flag about unsafe riding behaviors in 2006. Then a few years later we covered the issue again when the cemetery’s board threatened to install speed bumps to slow people down. The most recent bout of disrespectful riding happened in 2017.

And I’m sorry to say I’ve once again fielded a concerned call from River View’s new Executive Director Rachel Essig. She said a man riding his bicycle was going downhill “extremely fast” and crashed with a woman who was riding slowly uphill. The man was then “verbally abusive” to the rider he ran into.


I got in touch with the victim a few days ago. She said she’s 62 and claims she was riding uphill around a blind corner before it happened. “He came around the corner so fast. I thought, he’s going to hit me, what am I going to do?!” Thankfully, she was able to avoid most of the impact and wasn’t seriously hurt (except for a big gash in her leg from where it dug into her pedal).

“If this guy would have hit me, I would have been in the hospital with several broken bones,” the woman told me.

To add insult to injury, after the man flew into a ditch to avoid her, he allegedly got up and started yelling, “F*** you b****!”*

(UPDATE, 9:07 pm: The man involved in this collision has shared a different version of the collision in a comment below.)

If this is how it happened, this is seriously rude behavior — both the fast cycling through the cemetery and the verbal abuse.

Signs posted at both entries clearly say the top speed is 15 mph. Yes, that means you need to drag your brakes on the descent. If you have River View as a favorite segment in Strava, you should remove it as such. In fact, you should contact Strava (like we and others have) and demand that they delete all cemetery segments from their system.

Again. Please refrain from riding like a jerk in the cemetery. And tell your friends that we could lose access to this precious route if the board gets tired of tolerating this type of behavior.

In related news, take note that the cemetery will be completely closed to cycling on Memorial Day Weekend — May 25th through 27th — in order to recognize the solemn holiday when many people seek peace with deceased loved ones.

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

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81 thoughts on “Our annual don’t be a jerk in River View Cemetery post”

  1. Avatar Middle of the Road Guy says:

    Aw man, the #1 item on my weekend to-do list was to be a jerk in Riverview Cemetery.

    And to pre-empt Mr. Lascurettes, I can be a jerk anywhere 🙂

    1. Avatar Toby Keith says:

      Let’s face it, people on bicycles can be as big a jerk as anybody. But the holier than thou attitude prevails. Is it really that much of a stretch to slow down or dismount n a cemetery?

  2. Avatar jeff says:

    On the other hand last week I had a close call riding uphill (respectfully, quietly, with awareness as always) with a minivan going ~45mph through one of the many unmarked intersections. So sounds like bad behavior isn’t just by cyclists, I’m sure they have followed up with as well.

    1. no one said it’s “just by cyclists” jeff. And I’m sure if there was a car-oriented website like this one, the cemetery would indeed follow up with them.

      1. Avatar donttreadonme says:

        Or indeed move to block automobile traffic from their grounds..

      2. Avatar jeff says:

        I guess that’s my point. Cyclists are easy to “other”. I’ve witnessed plenty of bad and dangerous behavior there, but not by cyclists. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen and I’m not saying it isn’t a problem. But has Riverview made any attempt at outreach to speeding and cut through drivers? If so I’ll happily stand corrected.

        1. Avatar q says:

          It has signs telling drivers not to cut through, as I recall, and manages its gates to curb cut-through driving.

          Riverview is hurt more than anyone else by cut-through and speeding drivers there, so I’d have a hard time thinking it wouldn’t do whatever it can think of to curb those.

  3. Avatar Teddy says:

    If this route is closed to bicyclist for a week to teach people a lesson I worry that someone will die when bicycling on a less safe route.

    I do agree that unsafe cycling in Riverview Cemetery is not acceptable however seems like we are yelling at a wall since bad behavior keeps happening. Wonder if there should be a volunteer policing event for a few days alert people of their bad behavior? Someone up top observes bicyclists going too fast and someone at the bottom alerts them to their poor behavior.

    1. Did you read the post Teddy? It’s being closed for one weekend. On Memorial Day. Because that’s a very busy day at the cemetery and they don’t want people bicycling through.

      As for a fix, I’m not sure what can be done. We can’t add more signs (it’s a cemetery and visual impact must be kept to a minimum). I don’t think it’s a good use of police resources to have them out there. Maybe we could put together a group of volunteers to take shifts on weekends or whenever possible to sit at the gates and pass out flyers and/or talk to people about the problem? The good news is the new ED is open and supportive of bicycling.

      1. Avatar donttreadonme says:

        Good thing motorists choose to drive appropriately for “one weekend”..

      2. Avatar Ktaylor says:

        I would volunteer to be part of that group!

      3. Avatar Ktaylor says:

        I would be happy to make the flyers too (graphic designer, writer/editor).

      4. Avatar Teddy says:

        I feel that my post was misinterpreted which is unfortunate since I feel that it was quite cut and dry. I also feel that we are talking about the same topics, but not using the same language.

        I did read the article and previous articles plus I am aware the cemetery closes for Memorial Day. I was talking about a hypothetical week long closure to teach people a lesson that could end in more deaths.

        I do not know why there is the assumption of bringing in actual police when my words were “volunteer policing event” which is achypothetical event that sounds much like what you are typing about. I have never heard of actual police working for free. One of my proposal for safety awareness is to have volunteers along the route with radios so when a speed demon goes through they can be confronted at the bottom. Then informed why their actions are detrimental.

  4. Avatar hotrodder says:

    Pro-tip to keep the owners of this cemetery on our side:
    Please stop and wait when you encounter a funeral procession.
    (This is the opposite of being a jerk and it is behavior that is really well received.)

  5. Avatar bikeninja says:

    I think that it is a necessary and valuable service to post this warning every year here on Bike Portland. But for the most part it might not be reaching the right audience as BP seems to be the home of “good” cyclists. Perhaps a way to enhance the effectiveness of messages such as this ( as well as a business opportunity for BP) would be to start a sister blog aimed directly at Jerk Cyclists. You could have articles such as, Running Lights Helps You Get Home Faster, Never Carry a Lock Because You Can Lean IT On A Table at the Coffee Shop, MUP Speed Limits are For the Other Guy and Bike Racks for Your Lifted Pickup. The reason this could be a great business opportunity is that this crowd might be ripe for lucrative advertisements for Sports Cars, Trophy Condos and fancy european SUV’s covered in lights, jacks, jerry cans, little ladders and racks. An underserved market hungry for information and a chance to dispense safety info to those who need it most.

    1. You mean they can think or read?

  6. Avatar igor says:

    I ride through the cemetery every day as a commuter. I’ve never seen any bad bike behavior.

    That said, if the high speed cyclist is reading I’d point out that Taylor’s Ferry offers a much faster descent (you can even go over the speed limit now that they’ve lowered it on the hill). You have to pedal south at the bottom to get back to the bridge, it’s still quicker than the cemetery’s switchbacks.

  7. Avatar Paul B says:

    This is frustrating to hear and some of the comments already give me a bad feeling about reactions to this post. I bike up the cemetery about once or twice a week as it allows me easy, safe access to my longer training rides and I love how beautiful and peaceful it can be.

    However, just yesterday, I had a very similar experience to this woman. Biking uphill in the cemetery, about a foot off the right edge of the road, and a man comes around one of the blind curves somewhat fast (20-25mph) and he missed me by about two feet. To his credit, he seemed shocked that he had drifted that far over and there was another cyclist there, but it hardly seems to be that much effort to stay on your side of the road while going downhill.

    And, this is hardly the first time. I have seen bikers completely ignoring the route up and down the cemetery. I have seen bicyclists out of their seats huffing and puffing trying to charge the uphills. Groups of cyclists loudly chatting to each other. And way too many speedy descents.

    It boggles me that this needs to be repeated: This. Is. A. Cemetery. A place where people visit family, friends, and loved ones who are no longer with them. Where funerals happen on a daily basis. We are visitors passing through. We should be quiet, respectful, and as unintrusive as possible.

    For those using whataboutism and “never seen it myself” to disregard Jonathan’s post, that’s a shit response to a real problem. I would hate to lose this route, but if Riverview ever bans cyclists, I will completely understand.

  8. Avatar Granpa says:

    Good thing motorists choose to drive appropriately for “one weekend”..Recommended 1

    It is understood that drivers of automobiles are Satan’s warriors, but in regard to this thread it is a cyclist who is the A-hole. Of course he (it has to be a he) drives a Dodge Ram diesel (with roll’n-coal upgrades) when he is not cycling, but deflecting to an automobile equivalence is a thread hijack. Focus Grasshopper

  9. Avatar The Jerk says:

    Hi, so this was me. I am the “jerk” Here’s my side of what happened:

    I was descending the steep ravine segment at a normal descending speed for a confident, experienced cyclist. I looked well down the road, through the next turn, as my many years of riding have taught me, to help me stay on the correct line. There are no “blind” turns on this section of road. However, Rachel was riding at what appeared to be near (slower than?) walking speed, and looking at the ground, virtually incapacitated by the strain of pedaling up the 8-10% grade. So, I guess we could say that SHE was blind at this moment. As we both approached the apex of a turn, I hollered “rider up”, because I noticed that she was riding in the middle of the road, unable to see up the road. I was being proactive to alert her to my presence. She was obviously startled, and instead of correcting her line, she jerked her bicycle to her LEFT, directly into my path, forcing me to emergency brake, straightening my path mid turn, drift into the gutter, where I thankfully unclipped, slowed, then eventually crashed without major injury or bike damage. I DID NOT CALL HER A B***, I just yelled “for FU*K’S SAKE”, which in my experience of the situation was warranted.


    1. Avatar dwk says:

      Well if your version is true, then you were still riding too fast.
      If you saw her in advance as you say and she was riding slow, you should have slowed down.
      End of story.

    2. Avatar q says:

      So were you going faster than 15 mph?

      You saw she couldn’t see up the road, and was “virtually incapacitated by the strain of pedaling up the 8-10% grade, so you startled her? You mention you hollered, but not that you slowed down. Maybe she was startled by seeing you approaching so quickly, which may be why she went left.

      And you were going fast enough and close enough to her that you crashed trying to avoid her. How fast could she have been going into your path, if she was struggling to go up the hill?

      Then you swear at her.

      Then you describe it all here, blaming her for the whole thing.

    3. Avatar Asher Atkinson says:

      Don’t get me wrong, I love to go downhill fast, but when you say “normal descending speed for a confident, experienced cyclist” your alias of The Jerk is apt. Normal speed isn’t based on confidence and experience, it is based on surroundings. And in the River View Cemetery those surroundings demand upmost caution and etiquette. Let’s go bomb down Rocky Point now that the road is closed to traffic for a few months and have some fun. But riding at a speed in the cemetery that can lead to a collision with someone approaching is inexcusable.

    4. Avatar Stan says:

      You saw her, but were going too fast to avoid her. Your fault.

      1. Avatar SERider says:

        No he was going too fast to avoid her WHEN SHE MADE AN ERRATIC MOVE DIRECTLY INTO HIS PATH. He could have been going 10mph and the same result could have happened.

        Fault on both sides on this one it sounds like.

        1. Avatar q says:

          On the other hand, since it was on a curve and he may have been going very fast (he didn’t answer my question about whether he was going over the speed limit) her erratic move (assuming that happened) could have been because she was surprised to see someone coming very fast and, from her perspective, directly towards her, and her instant reaction was to go left to avoid a collision. It might have been the wrong choice in retrospect, but his speed could have contributed to her reaction.

          And yes, he may still have hit her if he’d been going 10 mph, or he may not have if he’d been going 10 mph, or even 15 mph.

          So it might be true that, regardless of fault, either party could have prevented a crash if they’d done something differently. But only one of them yelled at the other one, and called the incident “ridiculous”.

    5. Avatar q says:

      Also, I don’t like the idea of anyone (the guy who hit her, or otherwise) thinking negatively of the woman who got hit for having difficulty riding uphill fast, difficulty responding quickly, etc. even if those things were true.

      Assuming they were true, what better place to ride than the cemetery, which has a low speed limit, almost no traffic, quiet, ability to pull over anywhere, etc.? Feeling critical towards someone you hit there because they weren’t skilled enough to avoid the crash is like riding fast on a sunny weekend in Waterfront Park and being unhappy that there are children and dogs in your way.

    6. Avatar J_R says:

      JERK! Yes. That describes you to a T. Think back to when you were not an “experienced, confident cyclist” able to fly uphill or downhill while always retaining situational awareness. You are a guest in the cemetery. You need to treat others with respect.

    7. Avatar Al says:

      Hopefully, now your experience also includes adding safety margin for unpredictable elderly riders because of how difficult it is to scrub speed on a descent.

      Even accepting your story at face value, the fault lies with you and you owe her an apology, not for the expletives, but for being careless which resulted in her injuries.

      We all make mistakes. The point is to make amends and learn from them.

      Several years ago, I had an incident of riding down a road that is part of my commute. I’m very familiar with it. It happens to have a pedestrian crossing from a park on a slight descent so I’m approaching it typically going just over 20 mph at that point. Nobody uses the crossing, so I’m used to just slowing down to maybe 10 before proceeding as the crossing is typically screened by parked cars. It was fall. It rained that morning but the crossing is in the shade so while streets were dry, that part was wet and the moisture trapped a bunch of leaves in the shade. Of course, that day, several moms were crossing from the park with a bunch of young children. Thankfully, the kids hadn’t made it into the crossing yet because when I hit the leaves, even at reduced speed, there was no breaking. I locked up my wheels and slid up to and through the entire crossing only stopping on the other side when I hit dry pavement. I have no idea how I stayed up. Muscle memory took over and all I remember was saying “Sorry” several times as slack jawed wide-eyed kids who just stopped in mid-stride watched me glide past them. If one was in front of me, there was nothing more I could do. We would have collided. The moms gave me a very disapproving look which I entirely deserved as they had the right of way being in the crossing already. I’m an “experienced and confident” rider. I was very embarrassed for misjudging the situation so badly and totally thankful that I didn’t injure some 5 year old.

    8. Avatar Maria says:

      Way to go for shaming her for her slow speed and “wrong” reaction! Way to go for telling us all how experienced and confident you are! Must be cool to be so cool.

    9. Avatar Not tolerant of jerks says:

      Hello Jerk. If it were me, or anyone in my Family that you did this to, you would be pulling that experienced riding bike of yours out of your ass. Be more courteous, as you may end up running into someone like me, versus an elderly lady.

    10. Avatar BikeRound says:

      The speed limit is 15 mph. If you were riding any faster, then you are a criminal and all accidents are your fault.

      1. Avatar Middle of the Road Guy says:

        This is true for Ladd’s Addition also.

    11. Avatar Brandon says:

      Your effort to redeem yourself just shows more clearly how much of a jerk you are. If you’re headed down into a turn and you see an elderly biker coming up and having a difficult time, you should slow down to the point where any of their actions wouldn’t be a problem.

    12. Avatar dan says:

      As a strong and confident rider, you had the ability to avoid this accident. If you see an obviously inexperienced rider, it’s not safe to assume they’ll do what you expect when you call “rider up”. They may have never heard that expression before.

      Did the other rider screw up? Yes, but they obviously didn’t know any better. You did, so you should have done more to avoid an accident that could have ended much worse than it did.

    13. Avatar Tj says:

      Slow down next time. Signs ask us to go 15mph.

    14. Avatar Glenn the 2nd says:

      You don’t get to just yell out, essentially, “Hey here I come!” and have everybody jump out of your way.

  10. Avatar Keith says:

    Jonathan, thanks for the reminder. This is one of the most pleasant and quiet bike routes in the city, for which there is no good alternate route. We can’t simply rely on the patience of River View Cemetery to keep it open. We have to consistently demonstrate we can act like adults.

  11. Avatar axoplasm says:

    Oh geez do I have Opinions. I lived for a decade at the top of Riverview & it continues to be a major part of both my commute and leisure rides. I almost said “training” rides but then I realized this is part of the problem. A cemetery is an acceptable place for (low-key) leisure. It’s maybe not an acceptable place for “training.”

    Although I’ve never had a crash in the cemetery, I have definitely been The Jerk in this story. And as I routinely ride through here with my kiddos — who do tend to drift across the center line, even at the apex of turns — I’m also Rachel in this story.

    But listen, I get tired of saying this: the real bad guys here are the City of Portland, who think that Taylor’s Ferry (!) is an acceptable bike route into the greater Lewis and Clark/Tryon/Burlingame neighborhood, and who continually leans on a private property to cover for this negligence.

    I’m a Strong and Fearless Jerk and yet I seldom ride down Taylor’s Ferry, and never up it.

    The City owns an adjacent property (Riverview Natural Area) that could (in theory) be transformed into a bike nirvana for Jerks and Rachels alike — providing both needed transportation infrastructure, and awesome recreational space. Instead of hollering at each other, let’s ask our elected officials why it isn’t.

    1. Avatar Holtz says:

      Yes, a route through the city-owned land south of the cemetery could be a wonderful route between SE (and the big bike lanes on the new Sellwood Bridge) and the Lewis & Clark area and beyond. However, as I understand it, there is a provision in the funding arrangement the city used to purchase the natural area that the city believes essentially bars a paved path. I think it’s still an important safety improvement to push for, but there will be hurdles to overcome… so let’s get going… the city needs to face up to its responsibility to provide a safe PUBLIC route in this area.

  12. Avatar oldguyluvs2ride says:

    I second the idea of standing respectfully when a funeral procession is going by. I also want to remind riders to obey the NO bikes signs. About 10 days ago I had stopped right near the top to take a picture. A couple rode past me down a lane with the no bikes sign. I mentioned to the second person that they were not allowed to ride down there. They went anyway. When they returned, the male made a snarky comment to me and we had a “discussion” about proper bike etiquette in the cemetery and the already poor rep that cyclists have been dealing with for years. I would hate to lose this access to this beautiful ride and commuters would be the poorer for not having this as part of their route.

  13. Avatar Jon says:

    I wonder what would have happened if the person going downhill had been the person interviewed for the article? What if his story was that he was going down hill and someone coming up was on the wrong side of the road and was risking a collision with a user coming down. He yelled a warning, but the person swerved directly into his path. He managed to minimize the crash by going into the gutter. I suspect that if someone was not paying attention and someone tried to warn them they might think the other person was going “extremely fast” regardless of how fast the person was going because the person was surprised that someone came out of nowhere.
    As we have seen in many news events recently where not all the details were apparent at the start of the story. There are two sides to every story and witnesses are not always reliable.
    I’ve been riding my bicycle at less than 10 mph on wide trails and come up on pedestrians with earbuds on looking at their phones. When they saw me they jumped and look shocked like I came out of nowhere because they were in their own world and not paying attention to the world around them. I was riding perfectly safe and giving them room but they were shocked that I materialized out of nowhere. I’m sure they thought I was riding at some crazy speed even though I was not.

    1. Avatar BradWagon says:

      Jon, welcome to the annual flare up of “riding fast is inherently rude” sentiment around here.

      There is literally nowhere I have found that cyclists can ride faster than 12mph without being demonized by either drivers for being on the road or pedestrians for “racing” on the MUP. Even slower cyclists seem to be completely enraged that someone would dare to pass them within the confines of a path. Shouldn’t we “racers” know to expect others to meander along on a whim, willfully unconcerned with their surroundings or others? I know every time I ride on a path I eagerly look to collide into small children and the elderly… they seem to always just manage to fling themselves out of my path of adrenaline filled destruction.

      1. Avatar q says:

        I’d love to see more good options for fast riding, and it’s wrong they’re not readily available. You’re right that neither typical roads nor paths work well, or at least many of them at most times.

        But I’m not seeing any “flare up of “riding fast is inherently rude” sentiment” in these comments. This is one particular situation–someone who chose to ride on private property, who (from what it sounds like) chose to go faster than the speed limit the property owner set (and had every right to set), who couldn’t stop in time to avoid crashing into someone, and who yelled at the person he crashed into, and thought the whole thing was “ridiculous”.

        I wouldn’t read criticisms of his speed in this particular instance as any sort of broader sentiment about fast riding.

        1. Avatar BradWagon says:

          I use to mention it regularly when Jonathan implies that speed, void of any other context, is rude / unsafe / inconsiderate / etc… It’s interesting that how careful he is with what words to describe collisions, different kinds of infra, etc… he still lets sentences like “this is seriously rude behavior — both the fast cycling…” slip in. The 2017 story seemed to essentially stem purely from cyclists that didn’t ride slow enough through the cemetery. As if being rude and inconsiderate is an impossibility if traveling below 15mph.

          These stories are one thing and slightly more understandable due to the context of the cemetery but it does seem to fall within the general sentiment whenever there is a conversation surrounding someone riding fast in shared spaces.

          1. Avatar BikeRound says:

            You can ride faster than 12 mph on the entire street and highway network of the state of Oregon, which is approximately 150,000 miles in length. You may also ride faster than 12 mph on shared paths where the speed limit is higher than 12 mph as long as you are not endangering or threatening the safety of others, which is a vast majority of the time. So this entire complaint that if you ride in a courteous and law-abiding fashion you are not going to find any place to ride where you can let it rip is completely bunk.

    2. Avatar q says:

      Sounds like if you were going slowly, and giving the people room, and understanding that people may not be aware of you approaching them and could get surprised once they did see you, you were doing things the right way. The guy in the article said in his comment that the woman he hit was going at walking speed or slower, yet he still was going fast enough and/or near enough that he couldn’t avoid crashing into her when she didn’t behave the way he expected.

  14. Avatar Fred says:

    I would like to suggest that the designated cycling route is part of the problem here, not just the downhill speeding.

    I ride the cemetery route uphill only, as I think there are better routes for getting downhill. The uphill route thru the cemetery is fine til you reach the point where you turn right and go downhill slightly and have to cross several roads. The crossings are really dicey and there’s a blind left turn that routes you onto the narrow (10-foot?) section, on the ride side of the cemetery, that overlooks the ravine. I’ve almost been hit there several times, as my head is down and I’m suffering on the very steep uphill climb and struggling to hold my line as a cyclist comes bombing downhill.

    Why are bicycles routed to that narrow place? Wouldn’t one of the wider roads be a safer and more direct option? I recall that back before the route was designated, there were better options.

    1. Avatar Fred says:

      Correction: on the *right* side of the cemetery.

    2. Avatar Jeff S(egundo) says:

      Yes, the turn you describe has always seemed like the most dangerous to me, as there’s not great visibility in either direction. I always make a point to swing wide in the uphill direction, and take it slow and tight in the downhill. But I’m aware of the potential problem, and I can certainly see how a rider might not register this…

      I have always assumed that the Cemetery folks route bicyclists this way, up the north edge of the grounds, because it minimizes the conflict with drivers.

  15. This is the 16th cemetery I’ve managed. Respect is always an issue good or bad when it comes to caring for someone’s loved one who died. Cemeteries are for the living, it is a place for solemnity, they keep memories and are a safe place for a good cry or a good laugh when remembering. They are also for the community, but they need to be protected and revered.

    For several years, I managed Lone Fir Cemetery in SE Portland that is operated by Metro, there is a long history of disrespect there. Gov. Barbara Roberts who was also a Metro Councilor, helped with some of the disrespect issues of Lone Fir. She said it best “you can’t teach respect without showing what disrespect looks like.”

    Several months ago, myself and many of the employees of River View were working a graveside service, it was very large, about 200 people. As we were trying to help the friends and family to the gravesite, I saw bike riders blow past, I heard loud talking and laughing. They did this while the friends and family were trying to walk across the road to their loved one’s grave, many darting out of the way of the cyclists. That’s disrespect. Then suddenly I saw something wonderful, I saw a group of cyclists dismount and quietly walk their bikes on the right side of the road. That’s what respect looks like.

    I’m not sure if the gentleman in question read the article correctly, he called our office and left a message for me that he disagreed with the article. I tried to call him back, but his voicemail isn’t set up. When I read his response it’s almost as though he thinks I was the woman riding the bike up the hill. I was not. I also didn’t write the article, but I did contact Jonathan because 1) Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner, its purpose is for people to visit their loved one’s graves not cycling 2) To ask his advice about the woman who had phoned me about the incident.

    The woman who was riding uphill and got injured called me wanting to know what she should do. She was quite shaken and scared. I let her know that I wasn’t quite sure but suggested she contact Jonathan Maus, I also suggested to her that she file a police report. No one should feel unsafe and if these were cars then a report would likely have been filed.

    Speaking of cars, throughout the day, every day the employees drive the roads of the cemetery to get our business done in serving our community. Often, we find ourselves behind cyclists who are a bit shaky, have their head phones in or maybe they are ascending towards our vehicles. Guess what? We slow down or come to a complete stop and wait for them. If “the Jerk” cyclist was in a car and the woman was in a car, what would have occurred?

    I see a lot of comments about cars. Automobiles are also a huge issue for River View. They speed and cut through to avoid the light at Macadam and Taylors Ferry. We have signage everywhere about the speed limit and that at 4:00pm we close the gate at Macadam. Unfortunately, several times we’ve had motorists ram this gate open, it’s now bent, and the automatic feature won’t operate. This is extremely costly for us. We often talk about installing security cameras and posting signs so that people are aware that there are specific laws that protect cemeteries and fines associated for violating the law. This is the law: ORS 166.076 – Abuse of a memorial to the dead and a violation of this law has the maximum fine that a court may impose for abuse of a memorial to the dead of $50,000.

    Regarding cars on Memorial Day weekend, people need to visit their loved one’s graves, most likely they come with shovels, buckets, flowers, brushes and a picnic. Therefore, they likely drive to bring these items with them. They are there to clean the headstone and remember. The conflicts and complaints from these people visiting about cyclists is the reason why we ask cyclist don’t come for a ride through the cemetery on Memorial Day weekend. The purpose of that weekend is for remembering the dead.

    Did you know that River View Cemetery is owned by an association? The people that come to visit their loved one’s graves are likely members of the association. River View Cemetery is private property and the Board of Trustees who represent the members are being cooperative with the public and allow cyclists.

    There were some great points in the comments that I would love to engage about with all of you and would be MORE THAN HAPPY to have an open house and have a solutions-based meeting. Someone said “it’s not a place to train” I agree and said the same to Jonathan. Another suggested monitors at the gates, I think this is a great idea! This is something our staff has talked about, not only to engage with cyclists but also to get an understanding of how many of you come through our cemetery.

    In the end, this is about how we treat a cemetery founded in 1882 by Failing, Corbett and Ladd who had a vision for quiet place overlooking the city, the river and the mountains and where the membership of the association insured the perpetual care of the decedents who have their eternal rest in a beautiful place. So how are we going to figure out how to best respect and protect River View Cemetery?

    Rachel Essig, Executive Director
    River View Cemetery
    River View Cemetery Funeral Home

    1. Avatar Rich says:

      Hi Rachel-

      Thanks for your professional perspective as someone who has so much experience in managing cemeteries. As a long-time cyclist, I really appreciate and enjoy riding through Riverview on my way to other places, which I’ve done for years with little to no incident. I had one confusing encounter last year while I was riding uphill (not very quickly), by myself (quietly). I was riding on the marked cycleway and noticed a group of people about 20’ off of the road to my left. Someone stepped away from the group, walked in front of me with their hand up, and said, “what part of there’s a funeral do you not understand?”. I quietly rolled to a stop and noticed a name badge, so I assumed they worked in some capacity either for the funeral home or the cemetery. I really wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. The person said a few curt things to me that weren’t very nice, but I didn’t want to make a scene in front of mourners and was already pretty mortified. I apologized for not knowing what I was supposed to do and then asked the person for suggestions for how to proceed. I was told to turn around and take a different road, which was off the approved Riverview cycle route. I said ok and did, but I felt badly about the encounter, since I was told I violated a rule that I didn’t know existed.

      As I’m sure you know, there are all sorts of cyclists that travel through Riverview, with different levels of experience and skill as cyclists, but also with different levels of knowledge regarding the expected behaviors at your sanctuary. As someone who has worked in that role for so long, it might be common sense for you, but for others, the norms might not be obvious.

      Question: Could you please explain the expected etiquette when traveling through Riverview and passing a group of mourners? Is it Riverview’s preference that cyclists stop and walk, take an alternate route or ride slowly, quietly and respectfully by?

      In thinking about your closing question, “So how are we going to figure out how to best respect and protect River View Cemetery”, the solution is probably a mix of socialization and design. Socialization is happening here and among the existing “cycling community”. Of course, not everybody that rides through Riverview is part of the “cycling community” and that’s where design can help. For example, perhaps some clear, well-designed signage could be posted at the key entry points that communicate the highest-priority rules and expectations. The information design needs to consider an audience that’s moving past at 5-15 mph, so it can’t be too text heavy. Signage would also be much more cost-effective and informative than human monitors.


      1. Great ideas Rich! It sure sounds like the employee last year was frustrated. It can be frustrating because our focus is on the family. This is why I think having a group discussion would help out. River View employees understand the need for a safe commute but it’s hard when folks, even walking or in cars or by bike – are going fast, being loud and when spoken to they get yelled at.

        1. Avatar Rich Fox says:

          Thanks Rachel. Is there an expected etiquette when traveling through Riverview and passing a group of mourners? Is it Riverview’s preference that cyclists stop and walk, take an alternate route or ride slowly, quietly and respectfully by? My only thought on the stop and walk option is that some cyclists have shoes that are noisy to walk in (hard soles with cleats on the bottom). The clickity-clack noises they make might be more of a distraction than the other choices.

        2. Avatar Fred says:

          “It sure sounds like the employee was frustrated.” Would the employee have said the same thing to the driver of an automobile passing by? And this happened while the cyclist was on the designated route? Sounds to me as though you need to have a meeting with your employees about how to be courteous to *everyone*, including cyclists, on your property. And if you know there’s going to be a funeral along the designated cycling route, why don’t you put up “cycling detour” signs, with arrows, to take cyclists off that route? I feel really bad for the cyclist who was routed directly past the funeral and then got yelled at by an employee. If it’s within your power to change that situation, you really should.

          1. Avatar hotrodder says:

            You understand that this is PRIVATE PROPERTY that someone is generously allowing us to use, until they decide not to?
            Please be respectful.

      2. Avatar Fred says:

        You can’t take an alternate route – you have to stick to the designated route, and if it takes you past a funeral, you are subject to angry glares from the funeral party.

    2. Avatar Kevin Wagoner says:

      Hi Rachel,

      I really appreciated reading your post. I got pulled away before I could read very far into it. During that time I was wondering if there is someway we can engage the cycling community to give back to the cemetery. I’m not sure what that would look like but maybe some work parties throughout the year? Someone likely has better ideas. Then I came back and finished the article and saw that you were reaching out asking for us to help and suggested an open house as a way to get some thoughts and actions going. I do want to be part of the open house and/or other opportunities to help.

      I live about a mile from the cemetery and have used it for years to commute and it has often been the start or finish of a wonderful recreation ride. The place is really special and I really appreciate the willingness to let me (us) use it.

      I appreciate when you shared cemeteries need to be protected and revered and I totally agree. The people that visit the graves of their loved ones deserve the peaceful and vibrate place you help oversee.

      Thank you

    3. Avatar Fred says:

      Hi Rachel: I’m glad you took the time to write and share your perspective, but I’m really intrigued by your comment about the cyclists getting off their bikes to walk past the funeral – that “that’s what respect looks like.” I’m just wondering: Do cars turn off their engines and coast past funerals? Do passengers get out and walk next to the car, with their heads down? I can completely understand how talking and laughing while riding past a funeral is disrespectful and inappropriate. In fact, I recently was passed in the cemetery by a guy playing music on his cellphone (no funeral – just a regular day) and I asked him to turn it down. Yet I’ve also seen big diesel trucks roaring thru the cemetery, and that’s completely fine, apparently. No one asks them to drive more quietly.

      A cyclist on a bike who rides quietly past a funeral is not disrespecting anyone. Also remember that before you created the designated route, we could pick a route that avoided funerals. Not anymore.

    4. Avatar Tj says:

      Thank you Rachel. Some of us are trying to help by descending slow (just use the brakes folks), picking up trash left by others see as I did this week, and propping up flags that have fallen over. Be good neighbors everyone.

  16. Avatar Michael says:

    Not sure what the general etiquette demands in the local cycling culture, but everywhere I’ve ever cycled, particularly in mountainous terrain, the uphill rider has the right of way. The ONLY exception to this was in areas where the terrain was so technical that the downhill rider could not feasibly slow down or stop without crashing. This doesn’t seem to be the case in this section of path.

    1. Avatar SERider says:

      Difference in this location is this isn’t a path or single track (like you’re talking about with right of way for mountain biking). It’s a road that’s at least 1.5 lanes wide the whole way. plenty of room for cyclists going both directions (both up and down), as long as they stick to the right side.

  17. I want to thank the gentleman who was a part of the collision for personally stopping by today. I’m sorry I missed you. I’ll text you in the morning to set up a call.

    Many thanks for the feedback and those who reached out personally to the cemetery, I have received your messages and will connect to see if we can have an initial meeting to discuss what a group discussion would look like. We can have this at the main mausoleum that’s at the top of the cemetery near Taylors Ferry. I’m sure there’s other groups to involve like Street Trust fka BTA. I welcome any ideas. You all can email me directly if you like I don’t bite so please don’t bite me! There’s more of you than me but maybe there’s more residents of River View than all of you : O).

    I think there’s a way to share the road, paths and trails for slow riders, fast riders, walkers, babies in strollers, tots and training wheels, cars too. It’s all about the basic understanding of traffic rules.

    Anyhow, thank you.
    Rachel Essig, Executive Director
    River View Cemetery
    River View Cemetery Funeral Home

  18. To Rachel Essig, River View’s Executive Director, thank you and your board for working to keep this important green and direct bike link open. It was a delightful restful ride the last time I rode it last summer. It was like a mini vacation vs. fighting with motorized commuters or trucks on this district’s substandard arterials. I hope things can work out with its various users and your customers. Mahalo.

    Todd Boulanger, Executive Director
    Bikeshare Hawaii

  19. Avatar rachel b says:

    I haven’t stopped by in awhile and it’s strange to think back to the last time this subject came up. It’s nice to see the change in general tone. Last time, I remember one or two very entitled-sounding commenters belligerently insisting they shouldn’t have to slow down for mourners, shouldn’t have to show respect (‘how is speed disrespectful?’), should–by right–have free run of the cemetery, shouldn’t have to feel thankful for it… That flabbergasted me. It was one of the many changes to the tone of conversation in Portland in general that was just one factor in helping to prompt my moving out. So it’s heartening to see an overwhelming number of posters here so grateful for Riverview and their generosity, and respectful of mourners visiting their loved ones.

    I’m down for doing citizen patrol at Riverview. Thanks, Jonathan, for staying on top of this and being such a great ambassador for cyclists at Riverview (and elsewhere). I’m very glad to hear that the new ED is committed to working with cyclists. It’s such a privilege to get to ride through Riverview (my husband does it for his commute three times a week, twice a day), but it’s such a tenuous one. We’ve been lucky so far.

    Don’t be a jerk.

    1. Avatar rachel b says:

      p.s….whole lotta rachels goin’ on in here today! 😉

  20. Avatar Lester Burnham says:

    People who blast through this cemetery on their bikes like they own the place should be ashamed of themselves. But unfortunately they are too dumb for that.

  21. Avatar JJ says:

    Yet ANOTHER reason we should be allowed to ride in the Riverview Natural area AND gravel/pave the rail bed to LO. Done hearing about this and feeling like the owners of the cemetery hold sway over me and my well being when riding from the West side into the city.

    As far as the “jerk” goes I would say that no one is at fault. Holding speed down that portion of cemetery is difficult unless you ride your brakes the entire time AND the other ride most likely should have been walking her bike(since should couldn’t ride it) or at the very least paying attention.

    One other thought is that cyclists pose far less danger to the cemetery than the folks that “commute” thru it in huge carbon spewing death traps. Regularly between 3-5pm I see drivers dashing thru the cemetery, phone in hand using GPS to try and navigate thru in their quest to beat traffic to the Sellwood bridgehead. I have also seen them get pissed and smash the gate at the bottom when they couldn’t get out or get turned around. Yet I see signs that blame cyclists for the gate and speed within the cemetery.

    1. Avatar rachel b says:

      It’d be nice, but we’re not entitled to ANYTHING at Riverview. It’s privately owned property, and they’re being extraordinarily generous to riders. To us.

      I used to want that LO trail, but no more. Take a good look at what happens to these trails in Portland, now.

      Uh…ride the brakes, then.

      And yes–both drivers of cars and riders of bikes can be jerks. One doesn’t cancel out the other.

      1. Avatar SERider says:

        The poster is talking about the adjacent Riverview Natural Area this is owned by the city.

        I still believe the city is at least partially at fault for most issues in the cemetery, as they advertise this as a route and with the markings on the road it makes it look like a legit city facility.

        1. Avatar q says:

          Exactly. The City has put Riverview in the position of either letting people use its property as a bike route, or (if Riverview stops allowing it) becoming a total bad guy, because shutting access means a lot of people no longer have any reasonable alternative for this important route.

          It’s especially bad when the City could solve it completely with a route through the natural area, or at least partially (maybe) with some sort of lease/easement with the cemetery in the meantime.

      2. Avatar JJ says:

        Rachel…I think the LO trail would be free of the issues we see in PDX with similar paths and trails. The reason for this is that the source of drugs and other illicit behavior that attracts folks to these areas to camp wouldn’t exist. The i205 path has become so because of the open air drug market that exists in the area and the cartel drug delivery men that operate in the area(backpack wearing young men at the entrance and exits of the walled areas of the 205 path). These conditions do not exist in Dunthorpe and LO. I say this not be elitist or stereotype the areas it is just a fact.

    2. Avatar hotrodder says:

      -To everyone doing DeRonde, or LaDoyenne or cycling up any up-hill grade anywhere from now and for ever more, the requirement shall be to walk the bike if you’re not fit enough to breeze up that hill with ease, well below your personal V02 max. No exceptions.

    3. Avatar Tj says:

      It’s not that hard to hold down your speed. You have to be willing to do it. There are plenty of other places to enjoy some speed.

    4. Avatar J_R says:

      I disagree completely with your assertion that “no one was at fault.” Maybe a “shared fault” with the uphill rider having reacted incorrectly be turning left, IF that’s what she did. The fault lies with the Jerk who was going WAY too fast for conditions.

      As to your excusing the Jerk because holding the speed down by braking is difficult. If you find holding your speed down by riding the brakes to be too difficult I question whether you are a competent rider. As for the uphill rider, you claim that “she couldn’t ride it,” but, in fact, she WAS riding it.

  22. Avatar hotrodder says:

    Why?Recommended 0

    Because, according to JJ, the victim was having difficulty riding her bike up the cemetery roads and should have gotten off and walked it. It’s HER fault that The Jerk almost damaged his bike.

    1. Avatar q says:

      Why should she have gotten off if she was having difficulty? Why is it her fault?

      1. Avatar hotrodder says:

        I was being sarcastic in a response to a remark from JJ above. You either didn’t read his post or you didn’t understand the nuance of what he said. Sorry for the misunderstanding – I shouldn’t have gone for snark.

        1. Avatar q says:

          Oops, got it.

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