Two weeks ago we received a troubling text from a reader who said they’d been attacked by drivers multiple times while riding up North Williams Avenue late at night. The person wanted more people to know in case the suspects have done similar things to other people. (It also reminded me of a road rage incident we reported in December of last year that happened just a block over on North Vancouver.)
The reader (who wants to remain anonymous) owns a bar and rides their bike home after closing. In the past few months they say they’ve been attacked twice and sprayed with a pellet gun while riding up the street. “Both times the car would circle [back] and shoot at me,” they wrote.
The first time was a few month ago and it happened while they were biking north on Williams just past Skidmore. They say someone driving a Toyota Camry four-door hit them and another rider and made two more passes before the riders were able to elude the car north of the Killingsworth intersection (which is one-way only).
They decided to reach out after their second attack because it was so much worse than the first one. They were attacked three times by the same driver (in a Chevy Tahoe SUV), starting on NE 7th and Tillamook, then on Tillamook between MLK and Williams, and then again while riding north on Williams.
Here’s how it went down:
“I was literally being hunted by a Chevy Tahoe that was full of people yelling ‘We’re going to kill you m’fer!!’ Seriously was scared for my life. Had to jump off my bike and take cover in some bushes on one of their attacks and then take invasive [sic] maneuvers and alter my route home to escape.”
The bike rider says the vehicle didn’t have a license plate, but they still reported the incident to the Portland Police non-emergency line. We followed up with PPB and they confirmed the report.
If this type of thing has happened to you, please make sure to call it into the police so we have some record and data to track how often it happens. For the rider who shared their story with us, we’re just happy they were not seriously injured.
“I just think other late night cyclists need to know and be prepared,” they shared. “North Williams now has bandits hunting cyclists late at night!”
I had an experience about a month ago that made me finally start researching for a better action camera and to have one facing rearward as well. I was riding eastbound on Foster a couple hundred yards before the Springwater when I heard some yelling next to me and a red compact SUV drove by (somewhat slower than the other traffic) with a young guy hanging out the rear passenger window. It appeared that he had attempted to shove me as they went by, luckily I had just swerved towards the curb to avoid some debris as they came by. I checked my camera once I got home but with the lighting at the time and no image stabilization on a gravelly bike lane I couldn’t get the license plate.
What was almost as disturbing as the incident itself, is that when I later relayed the story to friends/family, most of them immediately asked if I had done something that could have upset them, like cut them off or similar (I hadn’t). Even though they all thought it was a disgraceful act, there’s an implied notion that a hostile act towards a person on a bike from a person in a car must have at least some justification. I’ve stopped even mentioning experiences like this at work because the response is nearly universal “well one time I saw a cyclist…” [insert whatever antisocial/reckless behavior that didn’t endanger anyone else]
Cutting someone off in no way provides any justification whatsoever for an assault.
Indeed. Could there be an enhanced penalty for threatening someone with a motor vehicle? That could be some legislation to work on.
there’s already the crime of menacing, or assault with a deadly weapon — both of which can and have been applied to motor vehicle users. Unfortunately given the systemic bias in favor of car drivers, they are very rarely applied.
Or is it coz we don’t have enough cops left in Portland or a DA who does his job to deter such crimes?
That sounds terrible. My best wishes to the person being hunted down! Clearly Portland is reaching (or has reached) a point where its time for the individual to be prepared to take care of themselves. There are many organizations in Portland that will help train on the use of a sidearm (google Portland pistol training) and for those that don’t trust those kind of people either there are the Pink Pistols
and Operation Blazing Swords
It is unfortunate that we do not live in a paradise of understanding and trust and must waste time and resources preparing for a confrontation, but we don’t and never did. Stay safe out there!
Are they all trained as well as the Uvalde Police department?
Gun nuts are so wrong and yet you all just keep spouting this crap.
Interesting that you pulled in something completely off topic like the Uvalde tragedy to make more of a personal attack than to further any kind of debate. I am not and I assume none of the people talking on this blog are the police and so my sole duty is to protect myself when I am out and about. Firearms and personal responsibility are not for everyone. That’s why I suggest people take a class and find out for themselves if they are comfortable with carrying that kind of lethal force. If they are not, no real harm done and now they know for sure.
Uvalde is off the Gun topic?
It’s the poster child for why gun training for civilians doesn’t work.
200 “gun trained” people sat on their hands.
Does your gun course work differently?
Uvalde isn’t off topic as a gun topic. I’m just not sure why you’re comparing the 200 police officers who shirked their duty to respond to an ongoing horror to an individual wanting to stay safe knowing that the police (as shown by the Uvalde murders) won’t necessarily help even if they are in the area. I am not sure what is upsetting you about the idea of someone wanting to keep themselves safe through personal responsibility.
I appreciate the comment Jake…was pretty much my take as well.
After 53 years in PDX I now work ( in the bicycle industry )and live in Durham N.C. where you CAN ASSUME that most people have a pistol within reach, open carry permit or no …..including cyclists ( that’s me ).
Have had so many things thrown at me/ verbal abuse of all types that I’ve lost count, and an individual should be prepared…….I could go on.
Shout to Jonathan ( whom I’ve met ) and Bike PDX staff ( who are great ) but I won’t be coming back to town anytime soon unless it’s in an urn
What is wrong with people?!
Another good reason not to ride on any routes PBOT has ‘improved’ with bike infrastructure.
Tell me again how a traffic camera only approach is going to solve our road safety problems? Or maybe we can have an un-armed city employee attempt to pull over this Tahoe late at night?
Solve? No. Cut down on all the mundane instances of speeding and red light running? Yes. Get pictures of cars that hide or obscure their license plate? Yes.
Who is saying that?
Sure seems like an appropriate time to use the emergency number, aka 911
If they were reporting several minutes later after they had reached safety then non-emergency is what you’re technically supposed to do. Even if they’d called 911, if the car was gone and they had no license plate number I doubt the police show up.
When I tried to call the non-emergency number about six months ago, I was put on endless hold. Portland: The City That Works. Ha.
***Comment deleted by moderator.***
Aside from the bit where you’re suggesting shooting a gun at people, it’s likely that someone in the SUV who would want to in this behavior in the first place would also have a gun, and they would have a significant advantage in shooting you on your bike standing in the open.
That’s why I started riding one of these:
You always want to be sure you have superior firepower.
That better be a fixie, this is Portland y’know.
Swiss bicycle infantry with bantam anti-tank missiles and gustav submachine guns via wikipedia
No joke. If it gets too bad and the reply from the police is too weak, this is a predicted response. We all have a right to defend ourselves and some of the population could only even the odds with lethal force that a firearm would provide. Some vicious behaviour should have immediate bad consequences. Not a good situation but don’t be surprised if some choose to arm.
Funny, I thought I was alone in fantasizing about having a firearm on a bike. My idea was a sawed off shotgun on my front forks were it would be visible as a warning. And much easier to hit your target using a shotgun!
On a serious note, in case anyone is getting crazy ideas and actually thinking about doing this. Please think of what happens if you miss your target. In an urban environment, that bullet is going to hit something and you own that bullet once you discharge the cartridge. You don’t want to be in the news for hitting an innocent person sleeping in their bed.
So while I enjoy the fantasy of armed vigilante cyclists taking on SUVs, the reality is to have an escape route. Next level defensive riding. Where would you dodge if an aggressive car came after you? And get a camera and contact the police.
I agree with you that avoidance is the best plan. I disagree with you on what happens if avoidance fails or if there’s no place to hide. Each of us is responsible for our own safety. If you’re comfortable outsourcing your safety to the police that is one thing and I truly wish you well. The issue I have with that is that the police will not likely be right there when you need them, the only one who will be right there will be you. Will you be ready and willing to defend yourself if there is no where to dodge or hide?
You watch too many Gunsmoke reruns…..
Either that or i’ve live on the metaphorical wrong side of the tracks in too many places. I don’t wish to rely solely on the hope that someone else will be around to protect me if something goes wrong. Whether it’s the incident being discussed or the interactions with those that are having mental or drug induced episodes.
You will decide when its time to shoot someone in a mental or drug episode?
You are trained at what?
*** Moderator: Dwk and Jake, this has become a private conversation, I think you have both adequately expressed your opinions. I’m going to stop accepting comments from your back and forth on this topic. ***
The obvious result of the run-and-hide scenario is that the perp is encourage by it. They will be shown there is no consequence to harassing people on bikes, plus they’ll get the kind of reaction they want, which can lead to more harassment of people on bikes.
Had this happened to me, I wouldn’t be able to rest unless/until I’ve created some kind of consequence for them. There are lots of options: gather evidence and use Citizen Initiated Citation, exercise your right to self-defense and douse them in pepper spray, find out where they live or work if possible and play snotty pranks for weeks or months…
You were commenting about Vera Katz police tactics and now you advocate pepper spray and continuing vigilante harassment?
This comment as well as all the disturbing pack a piece and use it comments here are incredibly dumb and disturbing…
I guess all the evidence that people usually end up shooting themselves or somebody close to them when they “pack a piece”
is throw out the window in this blog…
You said my comment is “incredibly dumb” but you seem to believe that police harassing peaceful and mostly law-abiding (as far as not being more illegal than the automobile drivers around them) bicycle users, vs. a person defending themselves against violence are equivalent situations.
Katz was using the police like an army to prevent organized bike rides. The police were using armor and pesonnel vehicles. They were making up lies about the CM rides (documented, revealed in lawsuits). They sometimes blocked rides in a militarized fashion. Once, I was prevented from going home as I was trying to leave a ride: they were preventing bike users crossing all bridges, while allowing automobile and pedestrian traffic. It could not have been more disgusting.
If you are being shot at, even with a pellet gun, and chased by multiple people in a car, you should be calling 911, not the non-emergency number. This clearly meets the definition of an action requiring an emergency response.
Understating the seriousness of this type of crime and being too nice by not demanding assistance of law enforcement will not result in a behavior change by the perpetrators.
Good luck calling PPB.. 911 or non-emergency line. You will be lucky to get an answer and if you do very lucky to get a response. Unfortunately more often than not you are on your own in this city. Not a short coming of the PPB, but rather the city government and its’ electors.
HEY LET’S ALL JUST RIDE ARMED NOW I DON’T SEE THE PROBLEM HERE THIS IS THE NORMAL WAY TO THINK
Well we don’t have a working or responsive police force anymore so… f-it, it’s mad max time. Call the cops they don’t show, people are hunting down cyclists and the cops are all quiet quitting. Yeehaw!
the only way to stop bullies is to fight back
Thank you Ted Wheeler for your bold and incisive leadership. The City Of Roses is a cleaner, safer and more welcoming place under your care. I know that I speak for all Portlanders in saying that we look forward to many more years of your stellar accomplishments toward the betterment of this city
Current council members are all butt-hurt about charter changes, and they are going to make citizens pay; we won’t get anything positive from our local government for at least another half dozen years. This all began with Vera Katz and her minions, including Sam Adams and Charlie Hales, may they rest in peace. Turd Wheeler, rent-to-own Gonzalez and the rest of the current council are just another manifestation of the same old BS.
On the other hand, have you seen a City Council meeting lately? The people are revolting. Truly.
Your comment has various possible meanings. Do you mean the people disgust you, or that they are in rebellion? Also, does “the people” refer to the Council or to the audience?
Vera Katz? Don’t lump her in with this crowd. The last good mayor.
Eastbank Esplanade is her legacy which is about the last good thing built in Portland.
Katz militarized the Portland Police. Those of us riding Critical Mass bike rides at the time well remember the police response that looked like they were preparing to confront an army. Many were not happy at all with her leadership, for this and other reasons.
Stop calling the non emergency line. You will never hear back and the cops won’t respond. Someone is shooting at you, call 911 ffs.
A lot of comments like yours seem to be assuming this call was made while the shooting was happening and not after the rider got home. Nothing will come of calling 911 from home after the incident is over.
Yeah maybe call 911 from the bushes but I think the rider just wanted to get away safely.
I’m pretty sure that dude-bro cyclists encouraging each other to pack and shoot their pocket rockets will gross out many of the interested but concerned.
Which is why it is important for the interested, but concerned to attend a firearms class to decide if carrying a lethal weapon is for them and to remove any of the fantasy land versions of self defense that they might hear from people.
We aren’t going to get any interested but concerned until we get traffic enforcement back and get drivers and street safety under control. No amount of painted bike lanes are going to do that when drivers are free to terrorize the community. People are reacting out of frustration because our police still refuse to do their jobs ever since they got their feelings hurt 3 years ago.
Comment of the week.
I agree it looks like a slowdown although 800 cops are not much for the size of the city and starting salary of $75,000 is not exactly going to attract the finest I don’t think (or anybody for a job like that).
Wheeler is over the Police so no surprise he is getting rolled by the union but seriously have never known a policeman, Don’t know where they get the candidates but we need to pay more than 75 grand a year to get anyone competent.
Interested in the riding, concerned about the shooting.
Maybe you should be more concerned about keeping current levels of cycling up rather than trying to continue to attract the so called ‘interested but concerned’ demographic, which is pretty much a PBOT fantasy AFAIC.
A “fantasy” that actually exists in many cities unlike the pathetic mittyesque fantasies of “make my day, punk” cyclists.
As with most things, there is strength in numbers. Violent threats toward cyclists are tolerated because cycling is seen as a fringe activity that challenges the social and economic order. Get a lot more people on bikes and that will change.
Daniel, you were correct that the 50 homes in that piece a week or two ago should have been added to the plex homes. (The comment thread had gone stale by the time I noticed this.)
You can still reply on that page if you want.
Pretty funny in a Serious way…
I can see a person thinking about beginning to bike commute. Spring is coming, need to get in shape, save some money, save the planet and then they peruse BikePortland and are encouraged to take a Gun course and pack a weapon…
I think they would be a lot more concerned than interested…
Jonathan’s decision to allow wannabe-vigilante chest-thumping about deadly firearm use is darkly comical given that this blog claims to be concerned about deadly traffic violence.
Commentators on this blog have incited people to shoot to kill and then to flee the site of a potential homicide. Is this the kind of society you want your children to grow up in?
***NOTE: We are in the process of cleaning up this thread and deleting some comments that encourage the use of guns. We want an open sharing of perspectives, but encouraging use of guns in some contexts is not appropriate. Please flag comments you think cross the line so we can take a closer look. Moderating this forum is a community effort and I appreciate your help. Thank you. – Jonathan***
Yes. Some comments on this thread seem pretty borderline to me but hey, it’s not my blog.
If people have guns in America that’s their own affair I guess. If a reader were trying to decide whether to get a gun, it’s been said that the most likely person to be shot is within the household.
Gun ownership is the leading cause of childhood death in the USA (but not in other wealthy nations).
This is nuts and represents a new low in safety in Portland. It’s no wonder our bike share continues to fall. IMO until Portlanders vote for pro public safety candidates these type of situations will continue.
If the solution was “a better supported police force”, this problem wouldn’t currently exist.
It’s hard to describe our current city council as anything but radically pro-police. And PPB’s budget is the largest it’s ever been.
We have the conditions you’re asking for, and yet this horrible article still has to be written – and that is why “more police” is rarely the answer.
Yep. They have all the funding and political authority they need. Over 1000 people applied to be cops here last year and they only hired a few dozen, this is a police management problem. This is by design. The cops simply refuse to do their jobs and no one is even taking about that.
District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s unwillingness to prosecute those arrested must be very dispiriting to LEOs and our fair citizen’s decision to decriminalize personal hard drug use only added crazed and desperate people to the equation. Maybe it is time Portland moved beyond the dream of the nineties
Ahh waa, we can’t harass people for using drugs and put people in jail for low level nothing “crimes”. We wouldn’t be any safer if people were put in jail for being addicted to meth. You’re just defending the police refusing to do their job. They have a job, they have all the authority they need to do it, but they’re not doing it to make people like us suffer. They’re a gang using their monopoly on force to terrorize the people into agreeing with people like you.
“Nothing crimes”? Like the author of this article reported? The record number of murders in Portland seen to contradict your word-salad post’s claim that the police have a monopoly on the use of force.
Oh, your insight into “people like me” can’t be more than guessing and generalizing . Your profiling fails the smell test.
Things like what this article describes are pretty obviously not what I’m talking about. The cops are whining because they can’t put people behind bars for minor stuff that is now decriminalized or camping on the street, and to protest this and their perceived lack of respect, they’re not doing the bare minimum of traffic enforcement or policing that might actually address the actual very bad things like mentioned in this article (or murders for that matter).
My comment about people like you is purely based on the things you said, nothing is guessed. It’s all right there in your words. You think people not being able to be sent to prison for a health problem is the reason this drive by death threat and assault happen.
I would love to hear ideas to get the bandits to stop hunting cyclists that don’t involve the police. It is my opinion that we can’t wait years for a solution; I don’t think letting the bandits continue to hunt cyclists is in any way acceptable.
I think you misunderstand. We *have* police funded more than they ever have been, so if funding was really the issue, this problem wouldn’t exist. Because they have the funding. This is a deliberate boycott by the cops. They’re “quiet quitting” to use the silly term.
How do you know the problem is not that they’re understaffed?
The portland police are intentionally refusing to staff their basic community responsibilities because their white supremacist feelings were hurt by protests. This organization is irredeemable and should to be replaced by a community-accountable public safety organization.
I’ve heard this allegation (and it’s a serious one), so I think we need some evidence that such a widespread conspiracy exists.
There is evidence the police are short staffed, which would produce the same outcome that the conspiracy you allege would.
We believe in evidence, right?
BTW, what does a “community-accountable public safety organization” look like?
Same kind of thing has been happening in Oakland and Berkeley recently. 🙁
Unfortunately this is not a new thing. I’ve been hearing reports similar to this and far worse for quite a few years. (Dating back to at least 2017) Williams seems to be seen as a prime hunting ground.
Many of these attacks are not solely related to choice of transportation mode, they are hate crimes with racial, gender, and other slurs hurled. Cyclists are simply seen as the easy target because, well, we are vulnerable.
Unfortunately PPB has been unwilling to lift a finger to even attempt to address this.
In general if you are anything other than a cis, het, white male you will experience far greater rates of harassment while riding. Regardless of location. It’s part of why I get so blasted frustrated when that crowd says riding on Skyline is safe and relaxing. I’ve largely stopped riding the road due to the volume of people in trucks buzzing me while yelling sexist vitriol. In my experience it is another location with higher than average volumes of assaults.
I saw this on Next-door: https://nextdoor.com/p/xdQyRnY5RgBs?view=detail&init_source=search&query=pellet%20gun
This happened to me in broad daylight last summer on a side street near Tabor. SUV full of young men, went by more slowly than normal, I was hoping they would just pass me so I could get back riding when I was shot with several pellets in the chest and face by one of them standing through the moonroof. It was very shocking but when I realized I wasn’t actually hurt I pulled my phone out to try get a video but then saw it had no rear plate.
“Share the road”
As another poster mentioned…this may be one of the items ‘surpressing’ bike mode growth…any idea what the peak AM or PM bike count is for Williams/ Vancouver is these days?…down from the 1000s per day 10s?
In this situation I would absolutely call 911 and report any erratic, dangerous or criminal behavior and give the best description of the vehicle possible. When making a report I would leave out any mention of bicycles unless in response to direct question. I’ve encountered a dismissive attitude from law enforcement in any situation involving bikes including, once, a crime in progress.
People who do stuff like that are very likely intoxicated. Report them as drunken drivers and, in the unlikely event that they get pulled over, let them explain.
Sigh, it’s every where now isn’t it?
How horrible! I am glad they were OK.