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‘He intended to knock me down’: Man searches for witnesses after bike path attack

Posted by on August 5th, 2019 at 2:14 pm

The assault happened on this stretch of path adjacent to SW Harbor Drive heading into downtown Portland.

A reader says he was attacked while bicycling in southwest Portland Thursday (August 1st) and he wants to know if anyone saw it happen. This assault took place just two weeks after another man was shoved off his bike while riding on the Springwater Corridor path.

The man, who wants to remain anonymous, has lived in Portland for about a year. He told me he was biking northbound on the path adjacent to SW Harbor Drive just north of Harrison at around 8:05 pm when it happened.

Here’s more from the victim:

Location of assault.

“On my commute home today, I was headed north on the bike path adjacent to the SW Harbor Viaduct. I had just passed under the I-5 bridge/ramp area when I saw a pedestrian walking towards me on the right-hand side of the bike path.

He locked eyes with me, which was my first indication that something was up. When I was about 20-30 feet away, he stepped about six inches toward me and knocked me from my bike, leaning hard into the impact. I couldn’t zag left to dodge him because there was oncoming bike traffic.

He intended to knock me down…that was unambiguous. As I was lying there, he shouted something aggressive and profane that I didn’t quite hear. It was something along the lines of ‘Watch the fuck out!’ Then he chuckled.

I called 911 while following the guy at a safe distance. He got into a car and I relayed the plate to the operator. The operator told me to stop following him and wait for police, which I did.

The 911 dispatcher sent paramedics and a police officer. I have a surprising amount of road rash for such a slow impact — I was maybe going 15 mph at the time — but nothing is broken. The paramedics treated me at the scene.

The cop was nice and clearly took this seriously. He asked about witnesses. I had stopped several passersby, but none of them saw what happened.

I think someone probably saw the impact, and if they described what they saw to the police, it might help.

The investigating officer called me about 20 minutes after he took my report to say that the plate I read to the operator was assigned to an Acura, not the white Pontiac Vibe my assailant drove off in—so the chances of finding this guy might be slim.

Given recent events, I should probably say that the guy didn’t try to take my bike. I was on my ‘good’ road bike, a Cervelo R3, and unfortunately my bike took it on the chin. I’ll be taking it to a shop tomorrow for an estimate. I guess I’m glad I have a bike to bring in.”

Since sharing this account with me, the police have linked a description of the assailant with a car and the driver’s license it’s associated with. However, the victim says an attorney has informed him that without any witnesses to corroborate the incident, the case won’t go anywhere.

If you saw this happen and/or have any information to share about it, please get in touch with me and I’ll connect you to the victim.

— 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

55 Comments
  • Avatar
    Mark smith August 5, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    So now one has to be assaulted with witnesses? Does this apply to rape? How about murder? Wow. What a crazy world we live in.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 5, 2019 at 3:43 pm

      What’s to stop the assaulter from claiming the cyclist rammed him? If you want to pursue criminal charges, you need proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

      From what you know about this case, how would you establish that without a witness?

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        David Hampsten August 6, 2019 at 1:23 pm

        US Constitution (from a habeas corpus item from the Magna Carta of 1215):

        Article [VI] (Amendment 6 – Rights of Accused in Criminal Prosecutions)

        In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

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          mark August 6, 2019 at 2:32 pm

          The victim is a witness.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty August 6, 2019 at 2:38 pm

            As is the perpetrator.

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      Emily johnson August 5, 2019 at 6:49 pm

      Sadly, rape is routinely dismissed by law enforcement due to the lack of witnesses to corroborate the story.

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    bikeninja August 5, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Do I have that right, no prosecution of this assault will move forward without a corroborating witness? If that is the case then if the victim had a violent , overprotective uncle who just happened to find out the identity of the assailant and met them in a dark alley with an axe handle to “educate” the perp on the finer points of bike path etiquette then no charges would be possible in this second assault without a witness? Do those in the judicial system realize they are creating fertile ground for ” tit for tat” vigilante justice? I hope this is wrong and there are legitimate ways to bring this thug to justice. If not we have a “Mad Max” future ahead of us.

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      Middle of the Road Guy August 5, 2019 at 3:26 pm

      Sometimes the simpler ways work best.

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      Mike Quigley August 5, 2019 at 6:22 pm

      Then let’s go! Or, play nice and get slaughtered.

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    Huey Lewis August 5, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    Sometimes I think there are more things about 2019 Portland that bums me out rather than makes me feel good.

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      dan August 6, 2019 at 9:55 am

      Only sometimes? You’re in a better place than me.

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    B. Carfree August 5, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    I had a similar encounter this morning on a bike path detour in Eugene. My new friend took a moment, and a couple of left-right-left moves, to realize that if he persisted it wasn’t going to end well for him. One shouldn’t have to be big and ugly (yours truly) to be able to ride on bike paths (or anywhere else, for that matter).

    I miss the days a decade ago when my city had cops who were riding bikes to stay in shape. Not coincidentally, that was when Eugene got to almost 11% bike modal share on the ACS.

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  • Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
    Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike) August 5, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    8:05 pm I’m assuming? I’ll share with bike valet folks.

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    bikeninja August 5, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    A couple of months ago I was approached by a guy on the bike path (sidewalk) east bound on the broadway bridge. As I got close he moved in front of me and said ,” sorry dude, but I need your bike.” Luckily my years coaching high school lacrosse paid off and I faked that I was going to go around him on the right then dodged left when fell for my fake. But it kind of shook me as I realize I won’t be so lucky next time.

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    • Avatar
      El Biciclero August 6, 2019 at 7:33 am

      It may be a stretch, but this is another possible side effect of gauntlet-style “protected” bike infrastructure. One is penned in with no good escape routes, especially late at night. Protected from “cars” but more vulnerable to attacks from “people”.

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    Al August 5, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    “the victim says an attorney has informed him that without any witnesses to corroborate the incident, the case won’t go anywhere.”

    So another reason to ride with a “dash cam” I guess.

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      dan August 5, 2019 at 5:19 pm

      I’m afraid so. After a few recent encounters with malicious drivers, I anted up for a helmet cam. It sucks that I feel I need it, but unfortunately, I’ve come to feel like it’s a necessity.

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      Racer X August 5, 2019 at 8:57 pm

      I would think…A dash bike cam would just go bye bye with the bike if its a bike jacking…perhaps an open carry weapon might be the only “defensive” tool left, like an open carry expandable baton …or sadly a gun? (Plus training so that you are not just handing the assailant a nice weapon and your bike.)

      Have these trails gotten wilder than they were 10 years ago. (Less good bike traffic or x___?)..or just more reporting of incidents?…or is it the street value of most bikes these days…gone are the $400 commuter vs. today’s $2500 blinged out commuter bike?

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        dan August 5, 2019 at 11:03 pm

        The camera is on my helmet, I’m a #@#*ing Teletubby and am pretty pissed off at the behavior that has forced me to become one.

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          El Biciclero August 6, 2019 at 9:09 am

          This is one reason/means by which cars continue to be seen as “cool”, and bikes are “dorky”. The football players will always make fun of the AV nerds—which one would most people aspire to be?

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          • Avatar
            Dan August 6, 2019 at 9:58 am

            Yeah, no argument. But having that visible camera does seem to make a difference: I have the distinct impression that when I look at motorists that are being unsafe (e.g., rolling stop through a stop sign into my line when I have the right of way) and they see the camera, that their behavior improves.

            Can you believe it? Accountability does make a difference.

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            • Avatar
              David Hampsten August 6, 2019 at 1:15 pm

              I have a bike light on my helmet, a generic Cygolight. At first when I started to use it about 4 years ago, people would always wave at me. I had assumed they were just being friendly. But after the 4th person asked me if it was a GoPro, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you wear something like a camera on your head, even if it isn’t a camera, they’ll still assume it is a camera.

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                Seth Alford August 6, 2019 at 8:01 pm

                There’s a market for a cheap GoPro shaped object which only has a blinking red LED and none of the more expensive stuff that make it a camera.

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                Sam August 7, 2019 at 10:45 am

                @Seth – Is there? You can get knockoff gopros for around twenty bucks.

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        PATRICK August 6, 2019 at 10:11 am

        The danger in relying on weapons while biking, is that they are very difficult to prepare and use while riding a bike. If in assailant is planning on knocking you off your bike it would be an easy task to disarm the biker while they are dazed. If it is a firearm that was carried, a violent miscreant is now armed with a valuable and deadly weapon. This doesn’t leave many viable options for passing scary people on a path: the most dangerous scoundrels will mask their intentions till the last moment. Do we profile and treat fellow path-users with a low bar in judging danger? It’s a sad state that will scare many from the paths and make the paths more comfortable for criminal behavior. Personally if I see a single person that provokes my suspicion, I dismount and walk my bike by them with my body on the other side of the bike. If there are more than one (that I can see!) I turn around. Treating people like this violates social norms in that we see many more people as threats, than actually are–it’s insulting to be falsely judged such.

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        • Avatar
          Middle of the Road Guy August 6, 2019 at 12:12 pm

          Not every assailant is going to know the cyclist is armed and if the weapon is concealed they might never know.

          Not everyone knocked off a bike is dazed and confused.

          And it probably only takes one or two encounters with a sufficiently prepared cyclist to sufficiently disincentivize a potential thief.

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    bikeninja August 5, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    The year 2012, Portland is filming location for Portlandia and Grimm, fast forward to 2022 when Portland is the filming location for the remake of “The Warriors”, except it will be a documentary.

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    Esther August 5, 2019 at 5:37 pm

    Mark smith
    So now one has to be assaulted with witnesses? Does this apply to rape? How about murder? Wow. What a crazy world we live in.Recommended 11

    sigh. As a woman who has been assaulted/chased while on bike…. Jumping to this comparison is super harmful. And actually yes almost no rape cases are actually prosecuted, so, you make it sound like they are. “Out of every 1000 instances of rape, only 13 cases get referred to a prosecutor, and only 7 cases will lead to a felony conviction.”

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      HJ August 5, 2019 at 5:50 pm

      Actually it’s super realistic. Because that is exactly what happens to many women that report rapes. Which if the cops dont do something to put a stop to these assaults is a reasonable expectation for what these will escalate to. And to think, there are people that wonder why many women dont feel safe riding. The justice system needs to stop victim blaming and start victim believing.

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      Rudi V August 12, 2019 at 12:14 pm

      This 7/1000 claim is pure propaganda. Stuff like this gets repeated ad nauseum because nobody bothers to challenge it and face the wrath of vengeful feminists.

      How are you establishing your set of 1000 rapes in the first place? They’re not even “allegations”, they’re “rapes”?

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      • Avatar
        soren August 12, 2019 at 12:18 pm


        #rapeculture

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          Rudi V August 12, 2019 at 12:24 pm

          &#uArr; #circularlogic

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    Frank Selker August 5, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    Dang. I wonder if mace/pepper spray would help. Or spray paint I might be carrying for pothole markings – may make it easier for the cops to find them too 🙂

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      dan August 5, 2019 at 11:04 pm

      I’m pretty sure there are pepper sprays that incorporate marking dye.

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    AndyK August 6, 2019 at 8:56 am

    I know its a long shot but you can check with TriMet to see if they picked anything up with a security camera up on the structure. You could also walk up and down Harbor Way to see if there are any security cameras along the east side of this path/street.

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    Tal Johnson August 6, 2019 at 9:45 am

    Perhaps a civil suit for damages, if only to let him know his actions aren’t without consequences?

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    Bike Guy August 6, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    I just started carrying an aluminum frame pump the length of my top tube on my road bike.

    Let’s rumble, Portland!

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      Jay Dedd August 7, 2019 at 7:40 am

      LOL! Been carrying similar, a Zefal HP or HPX for decades. Brandishing it can give an aggressive dog second thoughts, but don’t count on actually defending yourself with it. It’s of such light-gauge metal that it would likely bend around the attacker’s head cartoon-style, only pissing them off.

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      Tom Hardy August 7, 2019 at 9:39 am

      Frame pumps are very good. I have used mine several times in past decades to admonish pedefile pedestrians, also miscreant gropers on group rides (WNBR). The 24 inch type give you a very good reach. It does take a bit of work to properly straighten the tube though.

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      Chris I August 7, 2019 at 10:12 am

      I didn’t even think of that. I have one that fits my 62cm frame, so it is quite long…

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    Toby Keith August 6, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    Our MUPs continue to deteriorate and cyclists here are talking about arming themselves. Wow. This city has taken a nosedive.

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      El Biciclero August 7, 2019 at 3:34 pm

      “Our MUPs continue to deteriorate…”

      I might say “safety on our MUPs continues to deteriorate…”—the pavement on the MUPs I use is great.

      But speaking of conditions, I saw what I believe is the first tent to show up alongside the US 26 MUP. It was just outside the Finley Cemetery fence right by the Camelot overpass. Can’t wait to join the ranks of those who use, e.g., the Springwater or 205 MUP.

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        Dan A August 8, 2019 at 8:16 am

        If the Hwy 26 MUP becomes a danger zone, that will be the end of bike commuting for me.

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          Brian August 8, 2019 at 8:19 am

          There has been people living in that wooded area for quite some time, I believe.

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            El Biciclero August 8, 2019 at 9:27 am

            That may be true, but until Tuesday, I hadn’t ever seen a tent next to the path. It was gone today.

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          El Biciclero August 8, 2019 at 9:31 am

          Well, it would be the end of convenient bike commuting for me. I could still try to find a spot on the train and bypass the whole path, but that introduces a ton of variability in my schedule. Instead of an hour +/- 5 minutes, it could take anywhere from 40 minutes (super lucky) to 90 minutes (trains are crowded and I have to wait for two or more before finding a bike hanger). Either way, it would really blow. But as my dad would say, “don’t borrow trouble”—it was lovely this morning (well, except for the drizzle).

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    Adam August 6, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    Where is the description of the assailant?

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    Jim Lee August 7, 2019 at 10:51 am

    About 10 years ago I was cruising the 205 path en route to a dermatology appointment when a large young woman jumped into the middle of the path, arms outspread, to corral me so her boyfriends could beat me up and rob me.

    She underestimated what was coming.

    My track fixie was set up for “Blind Date at the Dairy,” so I charged right at her, able to juke left or right, responding on which way she jumped.

    She jumped left, which was good, for I am left handed, and landed a crisp George Forman jab to her shoulder through my mountain bike glove, and kept right on time to the appointment.

    It felt good!

    “Violence against women,” I know, but yesterday I watched Leonardo di Caprio fry one of Charlie Manson’s girls with the handy flame thrower he keeps in his pool shed.

    Violence begets violence, and there IS a right to self defense.

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    Edward August 7, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    For any bicyclist who is in an incident with a car … GET A PICTURE OF THE LICENSE PLATE.

    I found out the hard way on an incident I had. My recollection did not match the description of the car type. Did I swap out an O for a D? Or was the B an E? When you start going down the rabbit hole of potential variations of which digit(s) on the plate you might’ve got wrong … ALWAYS GET A PICTURE OF THE PLATE & CAR.

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    Toby Keith August 7, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    While our mayor lives in a $1.5 million house up on SW Jackson and can isolate himself from these problems, maybe we should be pressing him on exactly what is going to be done to make our paths safer. After all he is hinting at running for mayor again and I cannot think of a single thing he’d done that warrants giving him another term.

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    Tuong Nguyen August 7, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    It’s really hard to think when you’re unexpectedly attacked. If you can remember it, counter by scratching them hard in the face neck or bare skin. DNA evidence and something you can describe to the cops. If someone tries to shove me down, I’m going to reach out and try my best to grab them.

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    Richard B. August 11, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    I’ve been F’d over by “lack of witnesses” TWICE under different circumstances. It’s an investment, but please get bike cams, guys (if you can afford it). We need accountability any way we can get it. I recommend Cycliq cams. According to their website, they are available at West End Bikes and River City Bicycles.

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