Self-righteous, pro-bike note left on a car calls out owner: Is this helpful?

Posted by on August 31st, 2021 at 9:24 am

Note left on a car in the Sabin/Irvington neighborhood.
(Sent in by reader)

A BikePortlander reader who lives in the Sabin/Irvington neighborhood was contacted by their house-sitter about a note left on their car Monday morning. The typed and printed-out note had a sanctimonious, passive-aggressive vibe that called out the car’s owner and warned that they’d been reported to PBOT for a citation.

Here’s the text:

You may not have realized but your tabs are expired or you don’t have license plates. Did you know that everyone is required to have license plates and to register there carbon spewing, global warning [sic] steel cages? They good thing it’s easy to register at dmv2u.oregon.gov. Money from your registration dollars goes to help our kids via funding of the Safe Routes to School program. 6% of Portlanders commute via bike. Maybe consider getting rid of this old junker and grow the 6% club? You can always rent a carshare for those times you need a climate destroyer! Save the planet and our kids. Register your vehicle ASAP and then sell it! (Please). This vehicle (license plate and/or VIN, make, model, location) has been reported to PBOT for enforcement.

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The person who sent us this note found it very off-putting and wondered if attitudes like this are counterproductive.

“The rhetoric, which is ‘pro bike’, was so alienating she [the car owner] almost wanted to stop house/dog-sitting because she was freaked out by it!” our source shared. “I thought I might share it with you as a piece of creepy ‘pro bike’ behavior that seems to me; at best, bad; and at worst, counterproductive!”

There’s a lot to unpack here.

In my opinion, the tone of the note (which is relatively common among a subset of Portland bike riders) is alienating and isn’t likely to achieve the goal of the note writer. My first feeling about this style of activism is that it’s immature and unhelpful. Yes driving cars sucks and riding bikes is awesome and I can definitely relate to the feelings in the note (especially the frustration with so many people driving around with expired tags and in many cases no license plate at all); but I personally would never leave a note like this. That’s not just because I own two cars, but because this just doesn’t feel like a productive way to communicate with a stranger.

But I could be wrong. Maybe these dire times require a stronger tone? I’m not one to squash voices I disagree with and there’s room for many different approaches. I also think activism is very personal thing and everyone has a right to express it in whatever way feels right to them.

What do you think? Is a message like this good because it will make people think twice about how driving impacts the planet? Or does it only serve to perpetuate the negative stereotype of “self-righteous cyclists” that pushes cycling fence-sitters further away?

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

I got the same note at some point in the three weeks since I moved to Portland from California, but don’t know when as I just saw it today after going through some rain. I’m in the process of getting my car registration changed to Oregon but am dealing with title release issues from my own DMV. Here’s the thing, the leaver of this note does not know anyone’s circumstances. They don’t know I actually ride the bus downtown 4 days a week rather than driving my “steel cage.” Can’t someone have a car for special circumstances but rely on foot, bus, and bike the rest of the time?

I’m all fired up with nothing to do about it so I’m happy to see this conversation in this space. Thank you, Jonathan! Ps. I live in Kerns and am pretty sure I got this note parking near Oregon Park.

Roseminda Nabehet
Guest
Roseminda Nabehet

The one time my tags were extremely out of date was when I’d just moved back to Portland after leaving an abusive relationship and I was couch surfing and looking for work. A note like this would have put me in a bad mental space for possibly a week at that time when I already felt like a failure. Leave individuals alone and take this attitude to speak real truth to power against the government and companies that really contribute to climate change not people just trying to survive. This kind of punching down alienates people who otherwise would support your cause. Maybe talk to your neighbors instead of passive aggressively judging them. Eventually I got my life together, got a job and became a bike commuter. Again this kind of note wouldn’t have helped.

Steve Hash
Guest
Steve Hash

You could not be more correct, between the ridiculous DMV wait times and “thunderdome” on Portland streets I get the writer’s point but leaving a note like this strikes me as a chicken-shit move by someone not willing to have a direct conversation.

Catie Gould (Contributor)
Guest
Catie

Did the note-receiver say anything about the reason their car is unregistered and/or without a license plate? I would certainly not leave a note like this, because I mostly assume someone in that position is struggling financially or having other major life snafus that are preventing them from keeping their registration up to date. On the other hand you could assume the car is stolen, esp if it has no plates, (also a crime of poverty) and report it so it can find its way back to the original owner. I’d like to direct this note writer to a city or state agency to complain to instead. Punch up not down.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

If its untagged, its also probably un-insured, so that when they hurt someone with their car all of that liability falls on the victim. THAT is punching down. You’re comment does a disservice to all the poor people who realize they can’t afford a car and bike or use public transportation.

Jason
Guest
Jason

But to be fair, a lot of people have stopped using their cars during the pandemic. Maybe they stopped using it and didn’t get tags for it? Why spend the money if you don’t need the coverage?

PTB
Guest
PTB

Is this parked on the street or in a private driveway? On the ROW? Get tags or get it onto your property. Or sell it.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Does it have to have current tags to be parked on the street?

drs
Guest
drs

Of course a vehicle has to be registered to be parked on the street. Any unregistered vehicle that is parked in any Portland right of way for 24 hours or more without moving is subject to towing.

Of course, in reality, Portland does next to nothing to remove abandoned vehicles and the city is littered with them. I could toss a rock out of my front door and hit four unregistered vehicles that haven’t moved in a year. But the law is clear and unambiguous that you must register your car to store it in the street. And even if it is registered, it is legally supposed to be driven EVERY SINGLE DAY.

squareman
Subscriber

Honestly, reporting the vehicle to parking control without any passive-aggressive note would have been the proper play to make. Leave it up to them to do enforcement. This was not good advocacy at all.

I don’t know if they’d come out for an operating vehicle with expired tags, but I have had success with the PDX reporting app to get clearly abandoned (or neglected) cars off streets. First, they tag it (and it might take a couple of weeks), then a few days later they’ll tow it. Often, I’ve seen the vehicle move to nearby private property (which is where it should be), or it goes “poof!” and I never see it again. I suspect that many of the ones I’ve reported have been stolen cars that have been on joyrides and left where they broke down or got flats. Since most of them are not expensive cars, PPB isn’t really keeping an eye out for them.

drs
Guest
drs

Yeah, I don’t think the note is the right move. But I’ve had mixed results with reporting unregistered vehicles. I think I understand where the note leaver is coming from, even if I don’t agree with it. It is way easier and provides more gratification than the report and hope method. I don’t usually bother to report unregistered vehicles anymore. There are just too many, andi don’t want to spend all my time on sisyphean exercises.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Reporting the vehicle without leaving a note, as you suggest, might arguably be more passive-aggressive.

el timito
Guest
el timito

I don’t think your last sentence is literally correct. Yes, a car stored on the street needs to be moved every day, but that could be accomplished in my neighborhood by releasing the emergency brake and rolling it a few yards. No emissions required!

squareman
Subscriber

El Timito, that would not suffice the city ordinance (rolling the car a few feet). The vehicle must be removed from the block face altogether. So you’d need to move it around the corner or to across the street at minimum.

Source: https://www.portland.gov/code/16/20/170

A. No person may store, or permit to be stored, a vehicle or other personal property on public right-of-way or other public property in excess of 24 hours without permission of the City Engineer, the City Traffic Engineer, or the Bureau of Development Services.

B. Failure to operate and move a vehicle or move nonvehicular property off of the block face within a 24-hour period constitutes prima facie evidence of storage and may be abated.

frizzle
Guest
frizzle

I reported an abandoned car in my neighborhood just two weeks ago and it was promptly removed

squareman
Subscriber

Yes. To be operated or stored in the public ROW, it must be registered. And it’s not even supposed to be “stored” in the public ROW (city ordinance says cars need to be moved every 24 hours).

frizzle
Guest
frizzle

when I’ve let my tags expire, the DMV still charged me for the same amount of time – you don’t get to skip ahead by not getting current tags

EP
Guest
EP

No tags is sketch, even if they were stolen. At least get the temp permit going on the window. You CAN insure an unregistered car, so that’s the responsible way to operate a vehicle w/ expired registration. I’d say the insurance part is even more important than the registration. It’s immoral (and criminal) to drive a car without insurance, as you’re making the choice of someone else paying if you mess anything up.

ivan
Guest
ivan

This. The question isn’t “Why are you personally helping to ruin our society?” but “Why have we set up our society in such a way that it’s often cheaper or more accessible to drive uninsured/unregistered — despite the risks — than use public transit or active modes of travel?”

Watts
Guest
Watts

Well… it’s not cheaper to drive, registered or not, than to use “active transit” such as walking or biking. Unless you count the time and effort involved.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

That depends on how far you “have” to drive.

SilkySlim
Guest
SilkySlim

Oh, the countless times I’ve said such things in my head!

I’m not completely against leaving a note. Could have made a bit more persuasive and bit less self-righteous of course. But I have been forbidden by spouse to ever directly confront anybody, particularly about scofflaw behavior. I just don’t think it is safe to do it. What if they have a gun? Or if they decide to turn that steering wheel a bit to the right and smash you to bits? No thanks.

Lowell
Guest
Lowell

Yeah, I avoid confrontations with drivers because of that last scenario you mentioned. I know that any driver out there could kill me and almost certainly get away with it. “They swerved out in front of me” are magic, get-out-of-jail-free words for car drivers that kill bicyclists.

Sam Peterson
Guest
Sam Peterson

My tags have been expired since March 2020. I was planning on going in renew on time but the COVID shut the DMV, and everything else, down. I was not excepting the shut-down to be more than a year. I forgot all about it. More than one year later, I remembered. I tried to do the right thing and renew, but I’m stuck in some bizarro limbo with the DMV saying they will be contact me in 9 weeks because my registration is more than one year over-due. People have problems. The world has problems. The note-letter writer needs to give some some grace and use some of their energy for good, not passive-aggressive shaming.

Jason
Guest
Jason

I think this is all too common right now. Until the pandemic blows over and we get back to full capacity in public spaces, I wouldn’t bat an eye at a car missing tags. Unless it’s in use on public roads.

Watts
Guest
Watts

I agree, but it’s more than just the pandemic; we seem to have slipped into a mode where if you’re not actively shooting at people (rats are OK), neither the police nor the city care enough to step in. There are far too many credible reports of street takeovers, machete waving, open fires on sidewalks, organized brawling, etc. without consequence that it’s hard to conclude the rule of law still applies.

Vehicle registrations? Does anyone still do this? I’ve welded train rails to the front of my truck, and am actively looking for someone to play guitar on the front hood while I drive.

Jason
Guest
Jason

The police in PDX are definitively being unnecessarily salty

Jack S.
Guest
Jack S.

The tags thing is one part of the frustration. And there is a worthwhile conversation to be had about grace for navigating difficult bureaucracies.

Another part of the letter writer’s frustration is about the pollution that is damaging to our community members. I know I have felt anger at car drivers when I am routinely endangered by them, and smoked out by their deadly pollution. I feel for the kids of Harriet Tubman Middle School (and all the neighborhoods along automobile corridors) who can’t go to recess outside sometimes because the air is so polluted. The public school system spent $10mil on an air filtration system, and now is considering moving the school. But where does that leave all the people who live in the neighborhood, who don’t have multi million dollar air filtration systems in their house, with the air that they have/will breathe for decades?

It seems to be human nature that nobody wants to be the bad guy. But I don’t think it’s reasonable to always blame Chevron when it is we who get into the car and turn the key for trips that could have been accomplished with a different mode of transportation.

ivan
Guest
ivan

Relevant, just from today:

“Worrying About Your Carbon Footprint Is Exactly What Big Oil Wants You to Do”
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/31/opinion/climate-change-carbon-neutral.html

It reminds me of the tension inherent in the rise of curbside recycling and plastic. Is it good that I, personally, can (maybe) ensure that a given item doesn’t end up in the landfill and is instead recycled? Sure. Does it also provide a convenient excuse to not worry about why there are so many plastic containers being used instead of (much more recyclable) glass or metal? You bet.

So yeah, consider the impact you have when you turn the key of your car. But don’t stop blaming Chevron, or working for more systemic change (Sunrise Movement, Extinction Rebellion, etc.)

chris m
Guest
chris m

Obviously policy/systemic changes are more important to saving the planet than individual choices. That said, policy exists downstream of what’s popular. We’re not going to have anti-car/oil company policies in a world where everyone loves to drive, so it’s important to bike or take transit if you can and talk about it to others, etc while still recognizing the policy barriers that exist to allowing more folks to do it. Ideally you can create a virtuous cycle where the increase in popularity of non-car transport results in better policy which results in more usage and so on.

soren
Guest
soren

The problem with “blame chevron” is that it’s a gross oversimplification. A large portion of the fossil fuel pollution spewed by industrialized nations came from state-owned enterprises and about half still does. Even worse, the majority of oil reserves are state-owned.

In the unlikely event that Sunrise shuts down Chevron, I’m sure that Aramco, Rosneft, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, Petroleos de Venezuela, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Pemex, and Petrobras would be happy to increase production. And blaming “Petroleos de Venezuela” for the climate crisis is kind of like blaming coca farmers for providing product to USAnians and Europeans.

We are swimming in an ocean supply with millions of spigots embedded in our communities and until we start to focus on demand (politics that legislates mandates and non-reformist regulation) I very much doubt the USA will see its CO2e pollution decrease much.

Lowell
Guest
Lowell

My tags expired in April 2020 and I was able to get new ones at the time simply by filling out an online form. The DEQ test requirement was waived since they were all shut down at the time.

PTB
Guest
PTB

I had to take my little truck to the DEQ this spring and I received my tags after my vehicle passed. I keep hearing that it’s so difficult to get tags right now but I had mine in hand in no time. Like I probably wasn’t even gone from the house for an hour and had passed DEQ and updated tags.

JeffP
Guest
JeffP

Agreed. Including myself, I know of three other people who have gotten tags for 4 cars – one of those persons also renewed an actual drivers license. The people have been given an excuse and we are taking advantage of it. This will become a lost revenue issue at some point when someone is pressed about project/program funding.

drs
Guest
drs

I got my driver’s license renewed at the DMV at the end of last year. I had to schedule an appointment several weeks in advance, but it was super easy, barely an inconvenience.

Watts
Guest
Watts

Actually, it was probably far more convenient than in the before-times when you had to wait in line for an hour or more.

drs
Guest
drs

I agree

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Sure, you got your tabs readily (as did I), but you did have to spend money to do it. For many people that is a significant obstacle, even at Oregon’s low rates.

Heinz Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff
Guest
Heinz Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff

I got tags during the pandemic. I did it online in my underwear on the sofa. It took minutes.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

Ah, love a good finger pointer. Wonder what the writer of the letter did to get their climate badge? Let’s face it. I’m
Driving more. I’m part of the reason the numbers are going down. I call and engage often in community and feedback groups. Even interacted with Hardesty’s office and was given some bs response that literally makes little sense. As a result, I just don’t care. My bike just sits by itself. If the city just wants to talk about the “climate friendly” rhetoric then great. I just don’t believe it.

 
Guest
 

If you ever want to change someone’s mind instead of having them dig in deeper, then the language used really needs to be less confrontational. As it is, if I were to get a note like this I would just get angry at whoever left it rather than go about trying to find a solution. And people who are less into biking than me could very easily grow more hostile to cyclists as a whole when they see this note, when they generalize the person who wrote it to everyone who bikes. This note does nobody any good, and instead actively drives a rift between cyclists and drivers.

Frankly, I believe that attitudes like the one expressed by the note-writer are one of the main reasons why progress isn’t being made. Work together, not against. Try to convince someone of your argument instead of shaming or alienating them.

Watts
Guest
Watts

Try to convince someone of your argument instead of shaming or alienating them.

That attitude is so 2015.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Great, now I just feel old

Allan Rudwick
Subscriber

Leadership from the city might cause less people to take matters into their own hands.

Jack S.
Guest
Jack S.

If someone were pouring a gallon of gasoline into the river, I think a lot of us would say something. But if someone is pouring a gallon of gasoline into the air, it seems there isn’t currently a socially acceptable way to say something.

I feel empathetic to both the car user and the bicycle advocate. I both use a car and feel exasperated by the plague of the automobile.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

The difference between pouring a gallon of gasoline into the river and “pouring” a gallon of gasoline into the air is that pouring a gallon of gasoline into the river is a harmful prank that doesn’t accomplish anything, whereas burning gasoline in an internal combustion engine, for all its environmental harms, does accomplish things that are necessary in day-to-day activities. There is a fundamental philosophical difference at play here. The point is, most people aren’t deliberately destroying the environment. They are doing what is necessary to survive in a system that forces them to make certain choices. Yes, on an individual level, we could certainly stand to drive less, but until more systemic change occurs, any changes we make on an individual level won’t actually accomplish much. What we need to do is create safe and easy choices that would allow all people to engage in their day-to-day activities with no or fewer carbon emissions (buses after all do produce carbon emissions at this point). People aren’t going to ride their bikes en masse if the only way to the store or work involves taking Cesar Chavez or outer Division. Likewise, they won’t ride the bus or train if it would take them an hour and a half to go somewhere that is otherwise a 15 minute drive.

Jack S.
Guest
Jack S.

I understand and appreciate the point that the only way out of this mess from a macro scale is with governments making it happen. I also completely agree that the fossil fuel industry is the true winner when community members have these discussions about who is to blame for what.

That being said, I think it is not crazy that we challenge ourselves and our neighbors to choose to be the change we wish to see in the world.

Toby
Guest
Toby

I personally have been waiting six months for getting the plates for my carbon-spewing aluminum cage. All paperwork was submitted and fees are paid. This type of behavior is completely unhelpful and very myopic.

Jack S.
Guest
Jack S.

Honest question: is there a helpful way to ask a fellow community member to engage in methods of transportation that are less deadly?

Catie Gould (Contributor)
Guest
Catie

probably only if they are directly asking for advice or complaining about driving to which opens up space for you to respond with your own personal story about why driving is a hassle for you and what you do instead. Ideally in real-time conversation, certainly not in notes.

ivan
Guest
ivan

Agreed. Otherwise it feels a little like “envirosplaining.”

Like, I wish I could buy only local, sustainable, organic produce, but I also don’t have $500 a week for groceries. There are other reasons to not always choose the most environmentally-responsible or community-oriented choice beyond not caring that it’s more “deadly.”

soren
Guest
soren

Driving does not have to deadly. The carnage on our roads is a societal choice made by the city of Portland and the state of Oregon.

marisheba
Guest
marisheba

“Is there a helpful way to ask a fellow community member to [fill in the blank]”

Generally the answer is no. This isn’t about driving it’s just how people are wired, and if some random person asked you to change a behavior that you, personally, didn’t see as problematic, you would most likely have the same reaction as everyone else. Trying to impose your views on someone else is just never the effective approach, however frustrating that may be.

raktajino
Guest
raktajino

Identify a possible blocker and offer up your active assistance in unblocking that. Suggesting that they take on a multi-step project (register your car, sell it, buy a bike) as you metaphorically ride by yelling is a particularly self-righteous backseat driving.

In my local Buy Nothing group, people have offered up bike repair, route planning help, lending bikes or trailers, and volunteered to ride along on their first few times through their route. Local workshops get advertised. I’ve even bought HOP cards and put them in the local free pantry. These have all been open offers for anyone interested, posted widely, without waiting for someone to bring it up, and, crucially, without derailing a discussion or interrupting someone’s daily life to shout your opinion.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Yeah, that doesn’t help at all. This is only going to close minds and ears. When what we need is more open minds and ears. Let the people in charge of law enforcement enforce the laws. Yes, I realize that PPB is not going to do that, but as Doug Llewelyn so often said, “don’t take the law into your own hands”.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Who here has changed their behavior to conform with the unsolicited input from some yahoo?

I rarely engage motorists, but I have on occasion asked them directly, “How often do you follow unsolicited driving advice yelled at you by strangers?”

Somewhat weirdly, this question seems to calm them slightly and maybe talk about what’s bugging them rather than provoking them further.

Jason
Guest
Jason

That’s not that odd, because you approached them with disarming question. I think that’s a really good strategy to open a conversation.

For instance, I was at the cheese counter the other day and the person working was chatting with another employee. I broke into the conversation by complimenting their shirt. I said, “that’s a nice tie-dye”. Got their attention real quick.

Jack S.
Guest
Jack S.

I feel like I take it to heart when I get unsolicited input. I feel like it makes me ask myself, “why is my behavior making someone else so upset that they would choose to say something to me?”.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Whether or not they get upset is up to them.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Anger is a form of aggression. There’s a certain personality type that uses it as a weapon to control others, but there’s also that many people are simply immature, epically entitled, and/or mentally unstable.

I like to make it easy to do the right thing and inconvenient to do the wrong thing. Going off on strangers who’ve done nothing to you falls into the latter category. Even if they have done something, it’s still not called for if they’re sorry and trying to make things right.

Unless I believe someone to be mentally unstable (in which case I’ll just try to diffuse the situation), I make life as inconvenient as practical for those who think they can just use their anger to get what they want — this includes if I might otherwise be philosophically aligned.

If we really want to make sure cycling goes nowhere, all we need to do is make sure cycling is associated with a bunch of wackos.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Blaming an individual for what is at the end of the day a systemic issue is completely ridiculous in my opinion. Portland is currently a car-centric city by design, and shaming an individual person who probably has a very good reason to be driving due to the car-centric system is not how you win hearts and minds, which is what’s needed in order to get people out of cars, in addition to incentives from the government. Increased gas prices, congestion tolls, cheap and convenient public transit, more and more protected bike infrastructure, these are what is needed. Short of a legal ban on cars, which may end up happening down the line, people have to want to abandon their cars. You know how we say paint isn’t infrastructure? Neither is paper.

Jack S.
Guest
Jack S.

I don’t believe it’s true that car drivers always have a very good reason to be driving/polluting.

soren
Guest
soren

“a legal ban on cars, which may end up happening down the line”

UN IPCC reports never discuss banning cars in their discussion of transportation emissions mitigation so this sentiment is not only outside the scientific consensus but also comes across as more than a little “shamey”. Take your own advice?

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Ok, now I’m confused. I first of all wasn’t necessarily advocating for a legal ban on cars, so much as stating that once climate change becomes more dire due to previous inaction by governments, there might end up being pressure on governments to take drastic action such as banning cars, regardless of what the scientific consensus is. We’re talking about a scenario where entire cities are being evacuated and people are panicking. I would prefer that action, such as what I enumerated in my post, would happen prior to that to forestall such a scenario but I’m not sure that will happen.

I’m also not sure who I’m supposed to have been shaming in that post aside from the person who left the note and I’m not sure what advice you’re referring to. Overall, this is quite a confusing post by you.

soren
Guest
soren

“governments to take drastic action such as banning cars”

The idea that governments would need to be ban cars smacks of “cars are sinful” judgment to me. Honestly, I’m about as anti-cage as it is possible to be but I still recognize that areas without good transportation alternatives will need EVs in a hypothetical negative carbon future (net zero is not enough).

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Again, where did I say that governments should ban cars? I’m just going by the history of politicians feeling pressure to “just do something” in response to a disaster, even when that something is unhelpful or harmful. If governments continue not to take effective action to incentivize realistic alternatives to driving and fossil fuels, and that leads us to a tipping point where everything goes completely haywire to a degree where there is widespread chaos and death, I don’t rule out the possibility that governments might take hasty quixotic actions out of sheer political pressure to do so, without having time to consider measures such as providing alternatives to mitigate the consequences of those actions.

soren
Guest
soren

Has the government ever banned cars in the midst of some ongoing disaster?

IMO, this scenario only makes sense from the perspective of “cars BAD, very BAD” active transportation advocate group think.

“alternatives to driving and fossil fuels”

Have you heard of electric vehicles? You know, the primary transportation mitigation pathway in the IPCC AR5 and SR15…

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Yes, in fact the alternative to fossil fuels thing was a direct reference to electric vehicles. Maybe try reading between the lines? No, the government has never banned cars in the midst of an ongoing disaster because a climate disaster that has reached the point of mass chaos and to which cars are known contributors has never happened before. Look, the banning of cars is an example. I’m not saying that that specifically will absolutely happen. It might, it might not (in fact, you’ll note that in none of my posts have I expressed certainty regarding this). I’m just saying that governments, which are bad at preventing emergencies but also do take some action when the emergency is here, can act rashly, and that like it or not, cars are a major contributor to pollution and a symbol of said pollution. That is a fact. Whether you agree or not with the characterization of all cars as polluters and all cars being harmful is besides the point. Plus, I don’t know how long the transition to electric vehicles and the transition to clean energy will take, both of which need to happen concurrently, but if the disastrous tipping point is reached before the transition is complete, who knows what will happen. Given all of that, it doesn’t really feel like a stretch to think that governments might ban cars in that scenario. I would hope that driving is reduced and all driving that is done is by EV well before that point.

CDD
Guest
CDD

Oh FFS Portlandia! That being said, after 2 bike falls and bad knees, I am more of a weekend bike path rider than a bike commuter. I do keep both of my cars registered and up to date only to avoid an unnecessary cop-stop. There are ways to get the DMV/DEQ done. Hint: the Scappoose DEQ has a 3 day/week schedule, one of them being Saturday. Nobody goes there. I renewed my license and other DMV stuff by driving away from Portland. As in I snagged a slot all the way in The Dalles, near I84. Yes, it involved getting a day off, but so much better than having to deal with some aggro cop later 🙂

J_R
Guest
J_R

I think the note-leaver just made another enemy for bicyclists.

Jack S.
Guest
Jack S.

The worst they could do at this point is continue to drive a car & pollute the air we breathe

soren
Guest
soren

Do you even want to see bike mode share increase?

J_R
Guest
J_R

A few worse things an enemy of cyclists could do: park in a bike lane; decline to be a witness if they see a motorist run into a cyclist in a traffic crash; decline to stop to help a cyclist having crashed; actively oppose the installation of cycling infrastructure; or run a cyclist off the road.

soren
Guest
soren

Transportation emissions make up only a small fraction of Portland’s consumption-based CO2e emissions. And it’s not just me who is harping on about consumption based emissions, multiple IPCC reports and the C40 coalition have all pointed out that ~50-80% of urban carbon pollution in the USA and Europe is consumption-based. In fact, many of the climate advocates that cycling proponents profess to admire have pointed out that production-based metrics are lies:

https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/greta-thunberg-uk-climate-crisis-b1905908.html

She accused the UK [Portland works here too] of cherry-picking its data to appear to have reduced CO2 emissions more than it actually has, saying: “Of course, if you don’t include all emissions, the statistics are going to look much nicer.”

Ms Thunberg said that the figure would not “look that good” if a number of excluded aspects had been factored in, listing “aviation, shipping, outsourcing, the imports of consumption

I sometimes feel many of the same feelings the note writer expressed but also directed at those (including cycling advocates) who buy lots of stuff (yes, even bike stuff), who live in more than ~250 sq ft/person, who eat meat and dairy (esp cheese), who fly, who use shared/rented cages, who use methane in their owned homes etc. etc. (Some of these things also apply to me and the disgust I feel about my behavior is a perfectly valid personal response to global collective inaction.)

My overall point?

Perhaps before throwing stones at someone else’s CO2e-filled glass house, the note writer should inventory their own carbon pollution.

Jack S.
Guest
Jack S.

Totally with that point, but it’s not just about CO2e pollution. Other pollutants are breathed locally, damaging noise pollution is heard locally, and car crashes happen locally.

drs
Guest
drs

Transportation accounts for 43% of Portland’s carbon emissions. Transportation is the single largest source of carbon emissions in the city.

Tom
Guest
Tom

That may be true in the city because our urban economy is mostly service based. Globally agriculture and manufacturing account for a much larger percentage of emissions (and pollution). Most things we buy are manufactured overseas and plenty of agriculture we consume is grown overseas. A local accounting of emissions is kind of a skewed portrayal since carbon emissions and the effects don’t stay local.

soren
Guest
soren

Google consumption-based emissions inventory and re-read my OP.

Also:

Figure 13 of Portland’s CAP:
comment image

https://www.portland.gov/sites/default/files/2019-07/cap-2015_june30-2015_web_0.pdf

Portland reneged on its commitment to the C40 and stopped measuring consumption-based emissions likely because the numbers make it look like the climate-change denying city it is (state of Oregon data show consumption-based emissions are increasing far faster than sector-based).

Spencer
Guest
Spencer

My tags expired in June 2021. I was planning to get them redone, which requires a DEQ test, which requires I get my truck tuned up first. I’m debating donating the truck instead of going through all this. Others on here have said “if it’s expired it’s probably also uninsured”. In my case, I’m expired but still insured. So it goes.

But I wanted to also point out that the Oregon DMV is currently in a moratorium for citations for expired tags, from House Bill 2137. From oregon.gov:

On May 6, 2021, Governor Kate Brown signed into law House Bill 2137, which creates a moratorium on citations for expired driver licenses, permits, vehicle registration and disabled parking placards. The new law only applies to expiration dates of less than six months from the date of the violation. Read a public notice about the grace period​.​

Steve
Guest
Steve

But that wouldn’t apply to displaying no vehicle registrations.

Jack S.
Guest
Jack S.

What is a citizen to do after decades of scientists educating us that this machine kills and most of the populous is still apathetic? To me it feels like driving a car is an act of aggression towards your community members, who have to literally watch out for their lives and breathe the toxic fumes. Why do we focus on the note leaver?

qqq
Guest
qqq

I see the focus of the article (per the headline) being whether leaving that type of note on a windshield is an effective way of getting the person to register their car, drive less, etc.

qqq
Guest
qqq

Is placing a note on a windshield legal? I recall that leaving flyers is not.

Maria
Guest
Maria

I have little sympathy for hurting the unregistered car owner’s feelings. Driving a motor vehicle isn’t a right and not having tags/license plate makes it even easier for that driver to hit & run.
I bought custom (anonymous) business cards a while back that simply said “Your car is parked in the bike lane. Children and other humans on bicycles depend on this lane for safety”. Short and to the point and I went through 50 cards in less than a year (pre-Covid while commuting).

 
Guest
 

I think your note is substantially different than what was in the article. Yours is polite, respectful, and to the point, rather than needlessly accusatory and inflammatory like the one in the article. If I got your note I would actually think to take to heart the advice you gave, and think twice about my actions, in sharp contrast to the note in this article that only serves to shame and anger.

If the note in this article had said something as simple as: “Please register your vehicle. Not only is it the law, but money from this registration goes to the safe routes to schools program, which improves safety and transportation options for kids heading to their schools and allows them to commute in a more environmentally-friendly way”, then I would see nothing wrong with leaving it.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Well, that kind of self-righteousness totally changed my mind on the topic of automobile ownership.

E.M.
Guest
E.M.

This is activism?!Out here making moral judgments without advertising the rest of your life choices to also be put on the chopping block as you so “righteously” do now to someone else. We all make sacrifices. Sometimes a vehicle is necessary. Sometimes people don’t have what is necessary to keep up with the
bureaucracy. Your privilege is showing. Sounds like the same people in Portland who scream “Black Lives Matter and ACAB” while tagging Black businesses because “fuck capitalism!”.

I don’t understand Portland sometimes. If you want people on bikes, maybe provide fair housing prices for people that live further out from the city center and have to commute to work. Maybe better transportation options that run east to west and connect parts of the city that we’ve failed. Maybe fair housing for people that can’t find affordable housing (it doesn’t exist!) because they can’t find jobs that pay them fair wages and because housing prices are way beyond 30% of income. Maybe then….riding a bike would be reasonable in 100 degree summers and rainy winters. Maybe then they can afford the bike that might be stolen. The lock that might prevent such theft. . The fenders. The panniers to keep their cloths dry. The lights. A helmet that isn’t used. Seriously shut the hell up. The writer of that note and the people complaining in the comments need to shove it. —

Sincerely, fellow bike commuter who bikes to work but drives everywhere else, is in full time nursing school AND has expired tags.

plm
Guest
plm

comment of the year

soren
Guest
soren

If you want people on bikes, maybe provide fair housing prices for people that live further out from the city center and have to commute to work. Maybe better transportation options that run east to west and connect parts of the city that we’ve failed. Maybe fair housing for people that can’t find affordable housing (it doesn’t exist!) because they can’t find jobs that pay them fair wages and because housing prices are way beyond 30% of income.”

MIC drop.

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

I’m still baffled by how many people are driving around with expired registration. It’s not that hard to renew. In fact, I find it extremely easy, like under 45min once every other year, with a reminder mailed to me a month in advance.

Is it a horrible crime, obviously not. But it indicates a sort of a degradation in our system. People either don’t feel the need or can’t follow simple rules.

Still, I wouldn’t leave that note.

E.M.
Guest
E.M.

Those are the only two options? You have a narrow view of what problems other people face and what decisions they make around bills.

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

Can’t or won’t, pretty simple. Can’t can contain a lot, I assume some of the things you are thinking about in terms of ability to pay. But those are still contained with the two sets, can’t or won’t.

If people are having trouble making ends meet such that they can’t facilitate this simple task, which to my point, indicates a certain degradation in our society.

We have built a system such that cars are a defacto necessity for many, if a growing number of then can’t afford them, or can’t be bothered to follow simple check ins regarding emissions and insurance, we have a problem.

joan
Subscriber

Before I am pro-bike, I am anti-asshole. If you are writing a note for a neighbor, or a car in your neighborhood, and you are not willing to sign your name, and you’re not willing to have a conversation in person, that’s a sign that you’re the asshole. And, all, knock it off with this whole reporting-to-PBOT nonsense. Save that for things that don’t target poorer neighbors.

Watts
Guest
Watts

There’s no evidence this note targeted poorer neighbors, and there’s no evidence the car owner couldn’t afford to register their vehicle. As much as I disagree with the tone of the note, it is pretty clearly targeting people who haven’t registered their vehicles, regardless of income level. And judging by the unregistered vehicles I’ve seen around town, failure-to-register isn’t obviously tied to income.

An Inconvenient Truth
Guest
An Inconvenient Truth

MANY cars have expired tags now due to the COVID shutdowns. If you want to leave a note letting the owner know about their expired tags, only the first sentence in that note is appropriate. Drop the rest of it. Nobody cares what you think about global warming. People are going to drive cars until it is illegal or too expensive to do so. Cyclists have been pushing cycling for decades and have not even made a dent in car use and that isn’t going to change. Probably 99% of cyclists also drive a car. That’s reality. Someday we will all be driving EVs, but they are cars too, and will still be dangerous to cyclists and will only be slightly less damaging to the planet.

E.M.
Guest
E.M.

100%! Thank you

Philips
Guest
Philips

I love how no one who works on behalf of the tax payers seems to be putting in- you know- actual 40hr weeks like the rest of us (I have throughout the pandemic). Then they make excuses and change the rules so that anyone who DOES play by the rules; working, driving the speed limit, paying rent, keeping their car legal and insured, etc, etc, is actually a sucker for following the law.

On the plus side, I love how parking enforcement is still out there. Maybe they should take over Portland Police’s role since they seem to be the only ones actively creating a sense of order on the streets!

So… you cant get your s* together to register your car because COVID? Tough beans, I did and I paid $550 for the pleasure. Not complaining about the cost but it must be borne evenly, not just to those deemed worthy of laws. We are creating perilous sliding scale of law enforcement meted out based on income: none for the top and bottom 10% and the middle gets the shaft. Cool!

As to the note: stupid, counterproductive drivel.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

You definitely are being played for a sucker. People are starting to wake up on that, and it isn’t going to change. Confidence in government has never been lower. Eventually…

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

If you paid $550 to register your car, you are definitely not in the “middle” getting the shaft.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

“the 6% club” had me rolling my eyes. I’m doubting this person rides a bike that much themselves. Also note the conservative / eco-fascist vibes.

soren
Guest
soren

They are also “no true scotsman”.

SD
Guest
SD

The tension between “All kinds of people ride bikes and there is no well-defined homogeneous bike community.” and the policing of the language in this note, which is presumed to come from someone who rides a bike, is interesting.

Steve Campbell
Guest
Steve Campbell

Who walks around their neighborhood looking at other people’s license tabs?

Karl Dickman
Guest
Karl Dickman

Flyering cars in this way is illegal.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Let’s not forget, Dude, that keeping wildlife, um… an amphibious rodent, for… um, ya know domestic… within the city… that ain’t legal either.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Pathetic. At least leave a way to contact you back for some “dialogue.” This won’t change anyone’s mind.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Personally I would not leave a note like this, but I don’t think it’s terribly offense either.

The reason I wouldn’t leave a note depends on whether the (a) vehicle had expired tabs or (b) was missing its license plates. The former happens to lots of people, often too busy or too financially challenged to scrape together the money to renew their registration precisely on time. As long as the registration isn’t many-months expired I’d assume the owner has enough problems already and give them a pass. More importantly for public safety, the vehicle is at least identifiable and reportable if it’s involved in an incident. Which is the whole reason we even have license plates.

On the other hand, I presume that a vehicle with no plates or trip permit at all is likely to be involved in illegal activity, and I would assume it’s unsafe to interact with the owner. There is zero excuse for driving an unidentifiable motor vehicle on a public road, EVER. Under normal circumstances it’s pretty uncommon to see a vehicle without a plate or permit, but during the 4 days of heavy rioting in Minneapolis (during which 85 buildings were burned to the ground, $500 million in damage was done to over a thousand busineses, and the worst damage was disturbingly well-organized and connected to white-supremacist organizations) I saw unplated vehicles all over the place. Anytime I see a vehicle without plates or a trip permit, I ALWAYS report it to the police now.

Chopper Mark
Guest
Chopper Mark

I find it incredibly irritating, especially with the DMV delays right now. It’s also really classist, maybe this person is suffering financially, and what does the note writer do? Snitches to PBOT/Police about their expired plate risking the car being towed. Maybe the person has a physical disability that makes them unable to ride a bike. Do you know what happens if a car is impounded and you can’t pay? There is a judgement made against you and you’re liable for the towing/impound fees. So think about that, someone who may not be able to renew their registration loses their car and goes into debt because some self-righteous cyclist had to go around a car. At least the car is parked and not being driven unregistered.