Road raging drivers have endangered Bike Summer riders at least twice this week

On two separate occasions in the past three days, a person driving a car sped dangerously down a street and intentionally put many lives at risk. Both incidents occurred as dozens participated in rides that were part if Portland’s annual Bike Summer (a.k.a. Pedalpalooza).

Thankfully, just one person was hit and they weren’t physically injured. But the road rage incidents have left nerves frazzled and ride leaders have pledged to redouble efforts to keep events safe.

Jason Cromer was on the Mellow Mondays French Ride with about 75 other people around 10:00 pm on Monday night when a driver became aggressive. The group was biking south on Northeast 21st Avenue and had just crossed over the Halsey-Weidler couplet when someone in a GMC Acadia began honking loudly.

In video taken by someone on the ride (above, shared here with their permission), you can hear the driver’s honks become louder and more frequent before they blast through the group at a high speed. NE 21st in this location is a relatively narrow road with a 25 mph speed limit, one general travel lane in each direction and on-street parking on both sides. Oregon law allows bicycle riders to take the full lane in situations like this.

The Subaru driver narrowly missed several riders and made contact with one of them, before speeding off. Riders chased them down to a nearby gas station to record the license plate number and call 911.

“The sound of the engine was loud and aggressive, and hearing it barreling past was frightening.”

– Jason Cromer, ride participant

Cromer said the driver first encountered the ride at a cross street and then turned onto 21st to go in their same direction. It’s clear in the video the driver knew what they were doing and chose to recklessly endanger innocent people. “It felt alarming,” Cromer said. “The sound of the engine was loud and aggressive, and hearing it barreling past was frightening. It immediately kicked in my adrenaline.”

The person the driver hit was Tony Brand. He shared his experience on Instagram after the ride, writing, “They clipped my rear left corner, bent the rack running board, but luckily didn’t knock me off or cause serious damage. I’m grateful they hit me and not anyone else.”

The driver also hit a parked car in the opposite lane. People described the driver as going, “ballistic” and being, “incredibly aggressive.” Another person who was helping lead the ride said the group had only been on 21st for two blocks, underscoring the lack of patience by the driver.

Three days later it happened again. This time it was on the “Flower Power Ride” that drew dozens of people on bikes and roller skates to, “wander around and admire gardens and flowers along the way,” while vibing to songs about bees and nature.

According to someone on the ride named Máximo, who was also on the French Ride, this time a driver in a Subaru (not the same one, I checked), became aggressive as they biked east on Northeast Ainsworth toward Alberta Park. 

“The vehicle started getting close and we were telling her to take a side street and that we were legally allowed to be in the road,” Máximo recalled in a message to BikePortland. “She was shouting to ‘Get out of the way!’ and then there was an opening in the median and she sped up.”

Máximo noticed the driver behind him and yelled out to others, “Aggro driver!” in hopes they would move aside. Maximo said he then saw the driver brake suddenly, causing a rider to hit their rear bumper and flip over. “We all screamed that she hit someone and just drove off,” he shared. Máximo then gave chase (e-bikes come in handy for this type of thing), got her license plate number, and called it into 911.

Máximo thinks the Portland Police Bureau and drivers in general need to be more aware that Bike Summer is going on so they can inform the public to be safe and courteous when they see groups of people on bikes. He said he’s been doing rides like this for three years and has never seen drivers get so intense after just a few weeks of Bike Summer.

But it won’t keep him off his bike. “I’m concerned, but I’m not scared about riding — so I’ll be out and visible. I’m all about educating people that the roads belong to many people.”

And with many people riding bikes this summer on the hundreds of Bike Summer rides, perhaps it’s time for the PPB and Portland Bureau of Transportation to issue a general traffic advisory that everyone needs to be patient and courteous to other road users and that violent, rage-filled driving is never acceptable.

Have fun out there. Share the road. And stay safe.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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dw
dw
1 month ago

Good luck getting PPB to do anything. I’ve been punish passed right in front of a cop and they just laughed and told me “what’re you gonna do, you know?”

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  dw

I agree. My experience of reporting aggro drivers to PPB is that they just don’t care. The 911 dispatchers and non-emergency dispatchers also don’t care – they usually told me I had waited too long to phone in or provided other excuses. So I have given up calling PPB for help with aggro drivers.

bjorn
bjorn
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Seriously DEFUND THE POLICE! We would get a lot further with a secretary who took the danger seriously rather than an armed individual who more than likely got into the field because they enjoy driving super fast with no repercussions.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  bjorn

Would you sign up to be the government employee who has to respond to a report of an active drunk driver? How would you stop them, as an unarmed agent of the state, when they may be armed themselves?

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

they may be armed themselves

And intoxicated; that amps up the danger a bit.

bjorn
bjorn
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

According to the PPB site they are arresting 40-50 people per month for DUI, that isn’t an active response to the problem. That seems more like the number of people I’d expect that they come across who are passed out in their vehicle. Let’s not compare alternatives to a mythical present that doesn’t exist.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  bjorn

So you are arguing that we shouldn’t enforce active DUII violations? Is that really your argument here?

I don’t care what the PPB currently does, because they are grossly understaffed and thus are not enforcing most traffic laws.

If you extrapolate Oregon’s state average arrest rate per 100k to the Portland population, our arrest rate should be several times higher.

https://alcohol.org/guides/dui-arrests-fatalities-across-us/

So which position are you taking?

  1. DUII is not a safety issue and we don’t need to spend resources to actively stop DUII drivers.
  2. Portland is somehow an anomaly, and we don’t actually have very many DUII drivers.
Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

You think being grossly understaffed is why PPB art enforcing most traffic laws?

Jack S.
Jack S.
1 month ago

This has happened to me on So. Many. Rides. Extreme car driver aggression has almost become the rule, not the exception, in my experience. I actually struggle to have fun on any ride anymore because of the repeated traumatic experiences.

Ross
Ross
1 month ago

We have more than enough proof that some drivers can’t be trusted. Time to install modal filters (aka diverters) every few blocks on every greenway, and hardened protected bike lanes on busier streets.

RS
RS
1 month ago
Reply to  Ross

Wholeheartedly agree. Sad though that even the “high end” efforts at modal filters like 30th and Lincoln have cars driving through them. One time had a lifted truck tailgate me from 30th after they illegally went through going east bound all the way to Chavez.

Don’t ride it frequently but have seen and heard similar happenings on Salmon too.

Unless you make it truly only wide enough for a cargo bike and with curbs or blockers high enough to not drive over, car brain finds a way it seems.

J
J
1 month ago

That’s soo disappointing. I know NakedHearts makes extra points to be friendly, non-confrontational , and have a safe space for all.
I don’t have much faith in the police being supportive of vulnerable road users when just yesterday I stopped for a pedestrian trying to cross E Burnside at 61st and a cop ignored ALL other lanes stopping for the pedestrian and passed me on the right. He had his window down and I shouted that there was a pedestrian crossing and kept going without care. I was next to him at the red light one block later and tried to ask him why he did that and he completely ignored me and then turned right to avoid having to acknowledge another human, it would seem.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  J

You are brave. A lot of cops would find an excuse to give you a ticket, just for having the brass to confront them.

J
J
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

I was aware of that potential and was so upset with the disregard, I chose to risk it. Never considered that ignoring me would be the result.

Steve Cheseborough (Contributor)
Chezz
1 month ago
Reply to  J

Thank you for trying. If we had any kind of real oversight, you could report the cop. But he knows we don’t.

PTB
PTB
1 month ago

The camera angle/lens in the linked video should be illegal.

Seven Eleven
Seven Eleven
1 month ago

I witnessed the interaction on the French Ride from the adjacent parking lot on my break. The driver was honking and aggravated from the start, not cool.

That being said, several corkers antagonized the situation by yelling at the driver, continuing to cork the intersection after the ride had past so they could continue yelling, and then cussed and flipped off the driver to their face as the group left. The driver was initially proceeding down NE Weidler, but turned to follow the group after the last corker flipped them off and cursed at them.

De-escalation could have been helpful here. Instead, tensions were raised.

Mugwort mama
Mugwort mama
1 month ago
Reply to  Seven Eleven

YES that’s a VERY important point. I knew June Knightly aka TRex shortly before she was killed. (We quarked a bit together for a civil rights march. Humility and kindness are so essential. People need to realize that quarking an intersection can be fatal. It doesn’t stop me, but we have to be wise.

Steven
Steven
1 month ago

“The driver also hit a parked car in the opposite lane.”

I’m sure the driver/police/media will somehow find a way to blame the bicycle riders for this nonetheless.

Cundalini
Cundalini
1 month ago

Hi “Summer” bike riders,

Welcome to another edition of the cagerdome!

Groke
Groke
1 month ago

I was riding this morning on my commute, coming over Broadway bridge, and saw a person on a bike town bike laying flat on the street where they had been hit by a Tesla. Driver was still there and people were calling paramedics. But as we were all standing there protecting the injured person who was unconscious, someone blew past, swerved around the waiting cars, gave the finger and yelled very clearly: “Yes!!! Stupid fucking biker!!”. I kid you not. They were yelling this at a person who was unconscious and injured. I couldnt believe the sheer cruelty. I was and still am shocked. I’m also really worried about the person who got hit and came here wondering if anyone knew if they were ok. It happened around 9am this morning at the intersection of Broadway bridge and Lovejoy. Stay safe out there everyone.

Micah Prange
Micah Prange
1 month ago
Reply to  Groke

Scary! I hope the injured person is OK. Can you describe the route the bike was taking when the accident happened? I’m guessing from your post that the bicycle had travelled SW across the bridge on the sidewalk on the downstream (NW) side of the deck and was continuing on Broadway towards downtown when struck by the car, which had traversed the bridge in the same direction and was turning right to take the Lovejoy ramp. Is that correct? Did the Tesla have the red arrow? Was the bike signal green? I find that intersection pretty stressful; right turns are a big problem all the way up Broadway.

Groke
Groke
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah Prange

That’s correct. I didn’t witness the actual collision so i don’t know whether bike signal was green or not… I really hope the person is ok. Still haven’t seen any news so hoping that’s good news… I also find that intersection very uncomfortable and always look twice even when the bike signal goes green…

Micah Prange
Micah Prange
1 month ago
Reply to  Groke

Thanks for the reply!

360Skeptic
360Skeptic
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah Prange

Who the F cares about “the bike” and “the Tesla”? Ask about the persons. Don’t you think maybe this subconscious conflation of people with objects is one reason why such cruel behavior abounds?

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah Prange

That intersection is *so* stressful! A lot of times, I have gone way out of my way to avoid crossing right there.

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago
Reply to  Groke

That’s so scary! I hope the unconscious person was ok.

bjorn
bjorn
1 month ago

My old girlfriend ended up with a severe concussion due to a road rage incident about 15 years ago in almost the same spot on ainsworth, the driver also fled, we were unable to identify them. Ainsworth should have diverters to reduce this kind of dangerous interaction.

HJ
HJ
1 month ago

Sadly nothing surprising about this. Driver behavior of this sort is the main reason I rarely ride on the road any more. When I do I have cameras rolling so at least if someone decides to murder me there’s a chance they might get caught.
We really need stricter laws about this kind of behavior. A hit and run involving a VRU should be treated as attempted homicide. Because all too often it is.

John V
John V
1 month ago

I was on the Flower Power ride, although I left before the incident to go home. I just wanted to say, the part on Ainsworth (west bound) was SO NICE, I wish it was just available to ride all the time. The road is smooth, there are trees, it’s flat and straight. I know legally I can ride it normally and I sometimes do for a few blocks, but drivers don’t see it that way. Even with the 20mph speed limit where I can (with effort) exceed the speed limit, drivers just don’t care.

CamCam
CamCam
1 month ago

***Comment deleted. We don’t allow expressions of violence, and in some cases not even if it’s directed as someone else’s property. Please find another way to express your thoughts. Thanks. – JM***

Preston Freeman
Preston Freeman
1 month ago

The ticketing and court system is useless in Multnomah county. Theres no public defenders to handle cases, so theyre all being dismissed. Drivers know this and are acting accordingly. Combined with the lack of actual patrol units out looking for bad drivers, its not surprising angry drivers are being unusually aggressive. Im not even thinking about the ongoing political tensions as we approach the election season and how that is probably playing a greater role; albeit subconsciously; in these occurrences. I have a sneaky suspicion the real reason the WNBR was cancelled this year was because of anonymous hate screeds against the biking community in general – focused on bad intent at specific events. The organizers probably couldnt get city council to demand police accountability to take some partial responsibility for the event itself and didnt want to carry the entire guilt load should something tragic and foreseeable happen…because it probably would.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

I lived in Portland from 1997 through 2015. When I lived on the west side in the (Goose) Holler and the Gulch, my dealing with aggressive drivers was an issue at least twice a week; when I eventually moved out to the east side into Hazelwood in 2007 because that’s all I could afford, it became a daily occurrence. I eventually moved out of town altogether after 50% rent increases over a two-year period, to a car-friendly pleasantly mediocre city in NC. Since the move, I’ve never been happier – car drivers here are also aggressive, including towards bicyclists, but generally they are most nasty towards each other, other car drivers – and in general my interactions with nasty drivers has become a once-a-month occurrence and no longer daily as it was in East Portland. People here are simply nicer and easier to meet and get along with.

Yeah, I still miss aspects of Portland – Powell’s Books, the volcanoes, Fast Freddies and WINCO – but I don’t miss the drivers and bicycling there.

RS
RS
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I’m curious what town you’re in. Having moved to Portland from Charlotte I find the bike infra in PDX to be way over touted.

Cities in the “scary backwards south” are building real MUPs cutting across entire swaths of their cities with good linkages.

We instead rely on neighborhood sharrows that everyone who’s reading this knows are really car cut throughs with paint. It’s the vast majority by mile of official bike infra in Portland which is wild for such a “bike city.”

The neighborhoods on the east coast are also largely not in city sized grids so you have more meandering burbs like we have in SW hills. Helps cut down on the cut through mentality and my old car to bike interactions were largely with true neighbors or at a few specific predictable intersections.

In Portland, the car to bike conflict seems hauntingly around every corner, behind every tight to the crosswalk parked car, and always sneaking up on you despite going 15-20 on a tight residential street.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  RS

Charlotte has a nice and rapidly developing system, lots of curb-protected cross-town two-way bikeways, but it still has some critical gaps – I visit the city annually for various reasons. Raleigh has a good off-street pathway system but the on-street facilities are meh. Durham and Chapel Hill could be better. I live in Greensboro – enough said – Winston-Salem isn’t any better. I’ve also visited Rocky Mount, Asheville, Salisbury, and a few other towns in NC, Columbia, Clemson and Charleston SC, Atlanta & Savanna GA, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa Alabama, Charlottesville, Roanoke, Richmond VA, New Orleans, and DC, plus various cities in FL and TX. Atlanta impressed me, not the best bike facilities, but far safer to bike in than I expected it to be, plus an excellent subway. DC is always fun to bike in as long as you don’t mind the nasty drivers, with a fantastic subway. Charlottesville reminds me of Eugene, only wealthier. Birmingham and Tuscaloosa were surprisingly fun to bike in, I highly recommend visiting them.

Scaliwag
Scaliwag
1 month ago

Yesterday I was driving my car, on one of the few occasions that I do. I was mindful to not block intersections while waiting for red lights. The motorist behind me was gesticulating to encourage me to move forward. As if the red light wouldn’t stop us in a few feet anyway. This is the state of motor culture, impatient and shortsighted.

Aaron
Aaron
1 month ago

Im not condoning the actions of these agro drivers. There not right to behave like that. But to inform u Bike parades have to understand that it is law that bikers have to stop at a solid red light right Also it is also against law to be drinking alcohol wile operating a motorized vehicle. Your bike is a motorized vehicle. Bikers are lucky they don’t crack down on those laws. Iv seen gross negligence on both cases.

YellowFenderCrew
YellowFenderCrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Aaron

Hi Aaron,
I’m a regular ride leader and the general practice of corking and keeping the group together is grounded in both group safety and in improving traffic flow. For larger rides, it’s arguably worse to have half a ride stuck at a red light while the other half either stops to wait (thus blocking traffic) or to have a fragmented ride (where you have car traffic intermingled among groups of cyclists.

In fact, according to this document on the Shift2Bikes website, PPB prefers corking and keeping groups together in these cases to having fragmented group rides (see last page): https://www.shift2bikes.org/docs/ride-leading-guide.pdf

Of course, as ride leaders, we have a responsibility to conduct our rides as safely as possible — and what that entails varies on the situation. As road users, we have a responsibility to share the space and not take up more of the road than we need to. It’s on all of us — drivers, cyclists, skaters, pedestrians — to watch out for one another, to avoid conflicts where we can, and to de-escalate whenever possible.

Aaron
Aaron
1 month ago

So you’ve sent me zero proof of legislate that says your actions are lawful. Oh and nice job addressing the alcohol portion. That page was made by bikers not by legitimate government. I have seen a bike parade even block in an ambulance for over 8 min with zero disregard for whom was in need. There has to be a better way for bikers to parade togeather. portland has my long bikepaths that are not on the road and would allow everyone to be able to use the road or possibly limit the group size. Something needs to change before someone gets really hurt.

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago

This kind of makes me glad that I am taking time off riding to let my shoulder heal.