The calm on Portland’s marquee open streets event was shattered Sunday when the driver of a large pickup truck yelled at volunteers and participants, drove onto the route while screaming obscenities, and at one point during the heated exchanges, slammed a handgun onto his dashboard.
It happened around 11:30 am during the east Portland edition of Sunday Parkways, the second and final version of the event this year. According to four witnesses and videos shot by two different people, a man in an extended cab Chevrolet pickup was extremely agitated and sped around intersections on the route that were “filled with cyclists.”
We obtained two separate videos shot by sources who wish to remain anonymous and have stitched them together.
The video shows the driver stopped on SE Market Street at 130th where he’s talking to a volunteer who’s standing in front of “Road Closed” barricades. A bystander was also yelling at the man and it’s clear something had already happened because they were exchanging obscenities. The man yelled that he just wanted to go home. The volunteer (who was very calm) went to remove a barricade so the man could access his home (standard procedure is to escort folks at 5 mph who need to get to homes on the route).
As the volunteer walked to the barricade, the man grabbed a handgun and slammed it onto his dashboard. The gun is very clearly seen in the video.
The driver then guns his engine, drives up over over a curb and goes north on 130th one block to SE Mill where he turns left (west).
The video then captures another very heated exchange with a different volunteer at the corner of SE Mill and 131st (near Lincoln City Park and the David Douglas High School football field).
The driver can be heard shouting, “All you bicyclists take over everything. I just want to go home! You’re wasting my time and fuel. I pay rent. I pay taxes! I’m so tired of this shit. You guys are a bunch of fucks. Bunch of granola-eatin’ fucks!” and so on (watch video for full dialogue).
The exchanges were very intense, despite the exceedingly calm demeanor of the volunteer. At one point the man said, “I will fucking snap!” Keep in mind this driver was behaving like this with a gun on his dashboard, a massive and powerful vehicle at his disposal, and was driving on a street where dozens of people — and many small children — were biking and walking with the expectation of complete safety and a carfree environment.
The volunteer at SE 131st and Mill offered to escort the man by foot at 5 mph to his home, but she seemed to not trust him to drive safely. After saying he was going to call his attorney, the driver sped off onto the route past the volunteer who shouted “No!!”.
Two people with large cargo bikes happened to be on the scene (one of them provided the video for us) and they followed the truck and its driver while yelling warnings to Sunday Parkways participants. The driver continued to yell and scream, but thankfully he drove through and out of the route without any major incident.
The bystanders and volunteers deserve a ton of credit for keeping their cool. This situation could have been extremely bad and their calm, level-headed demeanor likely kept the man from completely losing it.
One witness we heard from said, “It was scary and just disappointing. Grateful to the volunteer and others who stood by to support her.”
Another person we heard from who lives in the area said, “I think in that community you are dealing with a lot of people who are auto-centric who drive everywhere, so for the streets to be closed that far out [east], they were pissed.”
This is only one of several irate drivers we got reports about after the event.
PBOT Interim Communications Director Hannah Schafer confirmed that a volunteer reported this event. “I think, stepping back a little bit, we have cars that try to cross the route all the time,” she said during an interview today. “This was an unfortunate incident but it’s important to celebrate that the vast majority of east Portland drivers did respect the route, we had great attendance, and it was a really positive event.”
Schafer said PBOT has checked in with the volunteer several times to make sure they aren’t suffering any trauma.
The Portland Police Bureau says an officer responded to the scene but the driver was already gone. An investigation is open — case #22-225184 — so if anyone has more to share please email email@example.com and reference that case number.
Intersections on Sunday Parkways are almost all staffed by volunteers. This marks a change from the heavy police presence the event had between 2008 and 2015. In August of 2015 PBOT removed PPB presence from the event to cut costs (PPB said it was due to staffing shortages at the Traffic Division).
This incident comes during a tense summer where anecdotal reports of dangerous interactions with raging motor vehicle users have ticked way up.
On Friday, a Portland man posted to Twitter about how angry he was at having to wait 15 seconds behind a bicycle rider. “I can’t even say what I was thinking about doing,” he wrote. “I don’t feel sorry for Portland cyclists that get killed. These fuckers gotta’ learn the hard way I guess.”