Riders take note: River View Cemetery is sacred ground, not a training ground

Posted by on May 13th, 2021 at 2:09 pm

Still from new video by River View Cemetery. Watch it below.


“While we do allow bicyclists, please help us keep our space peaceful for mourners.”
— River View Cemetery educational video

One of the most persistent problems in Portland bicycling is the behavior of some people who ride through River View Cemetery. The cemetery at the western end of the Sellwood Bridge provides a safe connection between Highway 43 (S Macadam) and SW Terwiliger Road. It’s a 1.6-mile oasis that we all look forward to riding on – especially because the alternative on Taylor’s Ferry Road is so terrible.

The thing is, the cemetery route is not a public road. It’s private property owned and managed by a nonprofit made up the families of people buried there. I’m not sure when they first granted public access, but you can go all the way back to April 2006 to find the first time BikePortland warned that misbehavior by bicycle riders threatened to close the route for all of us.

Advertisement

There’s been some progress over the years, but unfortunately the problem remains. River View has had to hire an outside firm to help beef up messaging and consider other changes to the cemetery road in order to encourage respect and rule compliance from bicycle riders.

They just released a new video (above) and have published a set of rules (below) to remind people why it’s important to slow down, stay quiet, and respect mourners and vehicle processions. Remember this is sacred ground, not a training ground.

It’s also time to put the annual Memorial Day closure of the cemetery on your calendar. Bicycling is prohibited in River View from May 28th – 31st.

We are very lucky to be able to ride through this place, let’s make sure we are responsible stewards of that privilege.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.

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

49
Leave a Reply

avatar
9 Comment threads
40 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
29 Comment authors
Jay DeddSolarEclipseAlan McDanielGranpadan Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
dan
Guest
dan

I watched the video, and the fact that some of those reminders are necessary is pretty disheartening. They felt it was necessary to include a request for cyclists to yield to funeral processions…

Jon Dohnson
Guest
Jon Dohnson

I’ve been to the cemetery to visit a family member’s resting place. Was horrified and disgusted at what I witnessed. Packs of spandex wearing “racers” loudly talking, speeding, even spitting as they blasted through the cemetery. I am amazed the cemetery is as accommodating to that demographic as they are.

Vans
Guest
Vans

I don’t and have never used this generous privilege, but all who do are very lucky this is still a discussion, it could easily not be.

Century Rider
Guest
Century Rider

This is an annual article posted on bikeportland. Nothing has changed, nor will it. Maybe it’s time for Riverview to just lock their gates and for the city to finally address this issue by providing a safe and functional route for cyclists traveling on this route. This is a waste of time, money, respect, common sense, and bandwidth.

See ya next year!

J_R
Guest
J_R

Please tell us what your solution is for a functional route. Maybe you have several suggestions and a funding source in addition.

Fred
Guest
Fred

I couldn’t agree more heartily with Century Rider that this annual discussion is stupid. The fact that cyclists (sometimes) have a low-traffic route through the cemetery eases the pressure on the city to provide a safe cycling route from the Sellwood Bridge to SW Portland.

There is an alternative low-traffic route: Laview Drive or Fulton Park Blvd, from Taylors Ferry up to Terwilliger. But this route has problems – namely the narrow, high-traffic stretch of Taylors Ferry to reach these two streets, and the two streets themselves are really narrow and have terrible blind curves, where residents’ bamboo plants are growing into the street.

Yes, there are a few turd cyclists who cycle loudly thru the cemetery: one time while climbing up I met a guy going down who was playing loud music on a small speaker. But the larger issue persists: cyclists in SW Portland shouldn’t have to depend on the “generosity” of a private cemetery to get from A to B. The city needs to prioritize a safe route on public roads NOW.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Taylor’s Ferry definitely doesn’t need two uphill lanes. Jersey barrier on the west side with a multi-use path.

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

A functional alternative would not be to train in that area.

Jay Dedd
Guest
Jay Dedd

The request was for a “functional route,” not a “functional alternative” — with no mention of “training.” But hey, you do you.

Vans
Guest
Vans

Maybe so, but the fact that they hired a PR firm and made a formal plea with it shows the inequity of respect they are dealing with. Many organizations would have locked the gates without a second thought and not spent a penny dealing with it. Speaking of pennies, the city could care less.

David R Burns
Subscriber

At least one thing has changed: Riverview is now closed to people on bikes the Friday before Memorial Day. (It used to be just three days.) I think the headphones rule is new, too. I think it’s important to read notices like this carefully so that we can enjoy respectfully.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Cemeteries tend to be either fully private or fully public, so the fact that this one is a “nonprofit” is very unusual. My guess is the owners want to keep their taxes low or even nonexistent, like for a church, so in return they have agreed to certain conditions with the city and the county, including water and sewer easements, as well as limited public access (dawn to dusk.)

Burk Webb
Subscriber
Burk Webb

Thanks for this Jonathan. Just a heads up, there is actually a really great “secret” alternative climb from Macadam to Terwilliger that lots of folks don’t know about. I’ve added a Ride With GPS link here:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/36028472

It’s really worth checking out, feels like riding in San Francisco 🙂

VS
Guest
VS

Thanks for posting this. I’m going to check this out!

Barbara
Guest
Barbara

Yea I used to use that whenever I was commuting up to OHSU from Milwaukee I preferred to use the 2nd right turn @ SW Fulton Park. I always wished there was better bike lane on for the short section of SW Taylors Ferry from Macadam to the turn.

Burk Webb
Subscriber
Burk Webb

I’m with you on Taylors Ferry, it’s the only bummer bit of road. Thats why I like turning on Laview, it gets me off Taylors Ferry quicker, plus I dig that last little kicker steep bit before Corbett. That being said, I’ve usually been surprised at how little traffic I encounter on Taylors Ferry and the traffic I do encounter has been real polite.

qqq
Guest
qqq

It’s a great route (even if it adds Miles to your ride). Also, if you want to avoid that short stretch on Taylors Ferry, you can start from Nebraska instead of Nevada to connect from Macadam (or the Willamette Greenway Trail) to Corbett.

Fred
Guest
Fred

Corbett?! You have to be Marco Pantani (RIP) to climb that hill! Laview is much more realistic for most people.

Jon Dohnson
Guest
Jon Dohnson

Awesome reference to Pantani. Always felt bad how he was treated.

Chris Wold
Guest
Chris Wold

As Vans writes, the use of Riverview is a privilege, and a critical one for those of us who use it and need it for safely commuting to work or school. The alternatives, particularly in winter, would be very unsafe. Please be respectful, everyone.

RT
Guest
RT

The requests for respect (be quiet, yield to cars, stay on the designated bike sections, don’t bomb downhill, etc) are all totally understandable and, as others are saying, very little to require from riders. What I am genuinely baffled by is “No training” on this video’s list of requests. How on earth is that defined? By effort? Don’t ride too hard uphill? By outfit? Spandex=unwanted cyclist? If all other speed, safety and common courtesy rules are observed, why would it matter “why” someone is riding through the cemetery?

Jason Skelton
Guest
Jason Skelton

I take “no training” as at the very least, don’t do hill repeats up the climb and keep your speed at 15 or below on the way down.

Jay Dedd
Guest
Jay Dedd

Great, Jason, but _why_? Since biking is allowed, why would repeats somehow _not_ be allowed as long as they don’t break other rules? After all, a person going back and forth a lot might not be “training”; they might just be bored, or a headstone aficionado, etc. (Rules can’t work well when based on a false notion that the rulemaker knows others’ inner motivations.)

RT: This is valid. Thanks for bringing it up.

River View folks: You’ve followed these discussions before, so you’re probably following now. Please chime in and describe the observable behaviors of someone “training” that are not covered by your other rules — and state why you feel they are a problem for the cemetery. We can’t not do them if we don’t know what they are.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

I refer to the earlier article regarding Jo Ann Hardesty’s meeting with the BAC where she comments on cyclists having special privileges. Riverview provides cyclists with a gift in allowing passage through their property. Splitting hairs or “lawyering” excuses to enabling precious training despite rules prohibiting this training is just the self important privilege she spoke of. A person knows when he/she is training. Train elsewhere and be a gracious guest in the cemetery.

Jay Dedd
Guest
Jay Dedd

Granpa, you left the question begging: What observable behavior of “training” does River View have in mind that is not covered by its other rules? If we don’t know, we can’t choose not to behave that way. (And if the answer is “no observable behavior that’s not already mentioned,” then River View could take back “training.”)

dan
Guest
dan

Splitting hairs on this one is evidence of bad faith and is disrespectful to those whose loved ones are buried here. If “training” isn’t clear enough for you, just abide by the other rules.

Jay Dedd
Guest
Jay Dedd

What you said works very well as advice for the River View folks: Splitting hairs with inscrutable requirements _is_ bad faith that could erode the relationship by opening a path toward exclusion based on whim. _Only_ the other rules are needed, in your own estimation. Thank you.

dan
Guest
dan

I understand you would like for your bike ride to take precedence over people mourning their loved ones on property owned by a cemetery, and I further understand that that you’re trying to mask that self-centeredness by pretending to take a legalistic interest in semantics. It’s not a good look.

Jay Dedd
Guest
Jay Dedd

Riverview has other rules addressing the observable behavior you just mentioned — so no, you choose not to understand. Given that, it’s a good sign that you don’t like how I look.

Meanwhile, the questions remain: What does River View mean by “training,” and how can we choose not to do it if they won’t say what it is?

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

Riverview can already exclude on whim. They own the property and can shut cyclists out for any or no reason. The cemetery is not a gym or a thrill ride. Pass through respectfully. There is no outstanding question begging.

Jay Dedd
Guest
Jay Dedd

Agreed, Granpa: You deny the begged question, and instead choose to answer easier questions that no one asked. Yet here is the begged question once again: What observable behavior of “training” does River View have in mind _that is not covered by its other rules_? If we don’t know, we can’t choose not to behave that way.

River View, how about an answer?

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

No

Alan McDaniel
Guest
Alan McDaniel

“Training” comes down to intention, and they are asking riders to respect an honor code. Are you there to use the safest route through this part of town, or are you there to ride laps for improving your climbing? Your intention might not be observable (unless someone were to count your laps), but you know what you’re doing and if it’s abiding by the spirit of the access granted. Yes, one purposeful trip up that’s respectful will likely be OK, but multiple laps, even if otherwise in accordance with all of the other rules, are not in keeping with Riverview’s permitted use.

Jay Dedd
Guest
Jay Dedd

Thanks, that’s pretty well thought out — but it’s all about laps/repeats. If River View meant specifically that, River View could have said specifically that. But since River View obfuscated with “training,” we’re stuck guessing unless/until River View pipes up with some clarity.

SolarEclipse
Guest
SolarEclipse

Seems odd that you have such a hard time with the phrase “training.” Maybe if you don’t understand what River View is trying to say without an essay defining the word, maybe your option is to just avoid their private property and not worry about it whether what you are doing is “training” or not.

Jay Dedd
Guest
Jay Dedd

I’m not worried for me specifically. I pass through River View on a low-key and infrequent basis.

I’m more worried about _you_ and others like you. You seem confident that you somehow know what River View means, even though it could mean many (unspecified) things. In your apparently baseless confidence, you and others like you could well be doing just what would blow it for us all.

Given that, you may be onto something: _Your_ most prudent option may be to just avoid their private property — unless you’ve got some insider info you can share with us all.

Fred
Guest
Fred

There’s an old saying: “People take power where they can find it.”

The opportunity to be ticked off at cyclists in a cemetery is too good for many people to pass up, as there’s nothing more inherently “disrespectful” about a cyclist or cyclists passing a mourner at a grave site than a guy in a Hummer or a monster truck blaring past said mourner. It’s just that you can’t actually do anything about the guy in the truck, because the cemetery’s main constituency relies on motor vehicles (or thinks they need to). Hence the folks in charge dare not do anything to alienate their main constituency.

If the tables were reversed and we all cycled to and through the cemetery and the trucker were the outlier, you might see people actually getting upset about trucker.

The fact that cyclists have to deal with this exclusionary situation is the real travesty here. The “rules” about what’s acceptable in cemeteries shift over time. Check out this article about the time in America when people picnicked in cemeteries – spent some time with their deceased relatives and enjoyed the open air.

qqq
Guest
qqq

But as far as I know Riverview finds nothing disrespectful about people cycling past mourners at gravesites. They allow it almost every day of the year.

I’m sure they have rules prohibiting blaring your truck radio, also. And no, they can’t stop the guy breaking that rule. But they can’t stop people biking from breaking rules, either.

And Riverview DOES crack down on driving, more so than biking overall. It has rules against cut-through driving, at the same time it allows cut-through biking. I recall that it closes the lower gate near Highway 43/Macadam every day to prevent cut-through driving, but has a space there to allow people walking or biking to get through if the gate is closed.

SolarEclipse
Guest
SolarEclipse

It’s private property. They get to make the rules. If they want to only allow jacked up 4x4s and 18 wheelers on their road they could and there’s no amount of self-entitlement that’ll change that.
If you can’t follow their rules for the short time it takes a rider to cycle through on their property then don’t trespass.

JeffP
Guest
JeffP

Perhaps aimed at the folks running circuits up and down; rinse/repeat?

igor
Guest
igor

I love the cemetery ride up, but if I were going to ride it over and over for training, I’d ride over to Taylor’s ferry for the descent. It’s faster and less technical. Plus it adds a little more mileage to the circuit.

Christian
Guest
Christian

What is everyone’s opinion if we get strava to remove the downhill segments in the cemetery?

The segment I see is called “not a race” but the QOM/KOM averages are around 25 mph…

We can’t lose this integral route because we aren’t following simple and reasonable rules asked kindly again and again from the cemetery. Also thank you Riverview Cemetery for even allowing us on here, it means so much to the city.

Vince
Guest
Vince

How about some more local action? Ride with GPS, a Bike Portland sponsor, could set up a geofence around the property. It could either flash a warning if the rider was in the cemetery and going too fast or perhaps not record any speed or distance in the area, again acting as a reminder that this is not the place to train.

Charley
Guest
Charley

I watched the video (it’s very well done and the specific requests are imminently reasonable). I would, though, appreciate more concrete guidance on which behaviors Riverview finds objectionable, such that they’d request “no training.”

I take it to mean no hill repeat rides. That would be one obvious behavior that looks like “training.”

I suppose it’s possible they also mean “no Lycra,” though the video clearly has a person riding slowly down the hill wearing Lycra, without any obvious sign that they’re illustrating a behavior they find objectionable. Also, I wear Lycra when commuting sometimes, so does that make it training? If I’m commuting, but wearing Lycra, is that objectionable? (I know this sounds like silly logic play, but honestly I’d kind of understand if a certain dress code was preferred; for example, I do not wear Lycra to my place of worship, though I often ride my bike there).

Possibly they mean “no group training rides,” (though people sometimes commute in small groups, and maybe they happen to wear bike specific Lycra clothing?).

I understand that the general intent of their rules is to allow the cemetery to provide a restful and respectful experience for the people visiting the graves and memorials, but, given that some people just hate bike riders in general, and probably get upset just to see us in the cemetery, I don’t think the rules are particularly onerous.

I appreciate the specific requests in the video, but I am uncertain what else they might mean by “no training.” I do appreciate the privilege of riding through this safe, pleasant, and well-maintained property, but the logically slippery meaning of “no training” is a little vague, and I’d like to stay within the intention of their rules.

qqq
Guest
qqq

I think trying to define when “riding” crosses the threshold into “training” is murky, and my guess is Riverview isn’t going to have a specific answer, because its not really definable. But I’m also guessing it’s not that important, since the most objectionable “training” would combine enough of the characteristics that most anyone would say define training–repeats, fast riding, pack riding…clearly different from people just riding through to avoid Taylors Ferry.

To me, the thing that could make training objectionable is the focus on time and effort, and not wanting to be interrupted when pursuing time and/or effort goals. Someone “training” may be less happy and less likely to slow down or change route to avoid other visitors because that can screw up their workout, whereas someone commuting or riding recreationally isn’t going to care. Some people training also have the “I have the right of way here because I’m training” attitude.

JJ
Guest
JJ

Ah if only Portland would’ve taken advantage of trails of River View Natural Area this whole thing could have been to put to rest and we would no longer be held hostage to people abusing the cometary nor the cemetery management holding this over our heads every year.

Some switchbacks and a gravel path could’ve at the very least been a better alternative.