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Cyclists - Bike Portland Needs Your Close Call Reports

Click the link to leave a report on their form.

"In a few weeks, I will draft a letter with all your comments attached and send it to the appropriate politicians and city leaders. Thank you for taking time to make your voice heard."
We as cyclists risk our lives every day on the streets of Portland. Many of us have had near-misses and other altercations that left us rattled, angry, and feeling vulnerable. Yet the only people that ever hear about these incidents are our friends, families and riding buddies.

The media, the police and our elected officials usually don't take notice until someone is killed. This needs to change.

If our elected officials and city leaders realized how dangerous our daily rides and commutes were, they would begin to take the needs of the bike community more seriously. Now is your time to speak out. If you have had a near-miss incident, or other dangerous interaction with a vehicle while riding your bike in or around Portland, please share your story below.

In your comment please include:

* The nearest cross streets of your incident.
* A short description of what happened.
* What neighborhood you're from.

homepage: homepage: http://bikeportland.org/2005/08/09/wanted-your-close-calls/

number of stories growing 10.Aug.2005 22:12

caged animal on two wheels

this morning there were 6 stories up on the post on this site. now there are 19. and i haven't added my own yet (which could be another 19 posts, probably, but i'll just put 'em in one).

thanks to Bike Portland for doing this!

why 11.Aug.2005 23:39

are cops included?

i gotta ask why it is a presumption that the police never notice the danger presented to cyclists? i'm a cop, a former touring cyclist, and an avid motorcyclist. why is is presumed that cops don't care about cyclists? i know i know....it is assumed we all hate the zoo bombers and cyclists and crap.... please give it up! i spent my free time at work just today working a location where people frequently drive in a manner that endangers cyclists and motorcyclists....
here i am, a hard-core right wing cop and i agree that motorists (cagers) need to pull their head out of their asses. i just wish 'you people' would lay off of the cops sometimes. i give a shit so please give a shit about us :)
many regards,
ultra right wing cop...

to "ultra right wing cop" 12.Aug.2005 09:11

Jonathan jonathan@bikeportland.org

I hear where you're coming from and I totally agree with you. Everyone involved in this issue needs to hold back the name calling and emotional stuff and just think about how we can work together to improve the situation. Personal and cultural differences play a big part in this issue and the sooner we get away from the "us vs. them" mentality the better.

apology to a biker 12.Aug.2005 10:11


Y'know, I really care about bikers. And I like to pass them with plenty of space. But yesterday, I was late for an appointment (bad traffic, the irony!!!!) and there was this biker going probably 7 or 8 miles per hour in a 25mph zone. She was towards the right of the lane and had just entered a stretch where there was about 150 feet of wide shoulder to the right of the traffic lane. I couldn't cross the center line because of traffic, and she seemed to be considerately easing into that space so I speed up--but then she weaved back towards the traffic lane! I probably came within two feet of hitting her. Sorry! I believe the incident was on 15th and Lovejoy (under the highway). Yes, I think she was riding foolishly, but I should have been a bit more patient. Thus the apology. Sorry!

As far as the Bike Portland info collection goes, I am surprised they are not soliciting info from drivers as well. Sure the site is for bikers, but you know there are lots of drivers (especially pissed off drivers who want to vent, and drivers who have been scared by near misses) who would love to share, and safety tips could be learned from that as well. Police often patrol where drivers are assholes, and ought to do the same where bikers are assholes.

stepping back and thinking about the bigger picture 12.Aug.2005 14:49


"Everyone involved in this issue needs to hold back the name calling and emotional stuff and just think about how we can work together to improve the situation"

This is a good sentiment but I didn't see any name calling or "emotional stuff" in the article.

The statement about police was this: "The media, the police and our elected officials usually don't take notice until someone is killed." I find that to be an accurate statement. These institutions in general "usually" don't take action until something significant like a fatality occurs. The government, including the police, tend to be reactive instead of pro-active in working to improve the quality of life of the citizens of this city. As for the media, well, we all know what motivates the corporate media.

Now this doesn't mean that there aren't individuals within these institutions that consider themselves aware of these issues and trying to make a difference. Some of these individuals might be honest with themselves, others may not be; some might be effective in producing positive change, others may not be.

"why is is presumed that cops don't care about cyclists?"

Because that is what most cyclists see on a daily basis from the police. Making assumptions can always lead to generalizations that are not correct for every individual but it's what people in our culture are taught and reinforced to do. Label things, make generalizations, put people into a box where they can be dismissed, ignored, praised, etc with no regard for the individual and her complex systems of beliefs. Despite generalizations being problematic they also can point to truths, like that some cops enjoy hassling bicyclists and would rather do that than other forms of work. If cops want to see this changed they'll have to change the behaviors that lead to these perceptions by members of the community; it's that simple.

"i just wish 'you people' would lay off of the cops sometimes."

I am a person who will not lay off the cops until they demonstrate themselves to be worthy of my respect. My taxes pay your salary, and since you work for me, and the other citizens of this city, I expect a degree of professionalism, competence, respectability, and accountability that I find sorely lacking in the PPD. Again, this is a generalization, as I have met several good cops and ex-cops from this city that I've seen act with an understanding of the law and the constitution and with respect for the citizens. As a family member of mine, a cop, explained it to me, there are some really good cops and some really bad cops on most police forces but they only account for a small percentage of the force but their actions hold sway among the rest of the force. And my impression of the PPD is that those that are poisoning the force have been holding far more sway than those who would raise the bar.

I know this is a bit off topic, but I think it is important. What I want is something that I believe ultimately benefits the police and the citizens if the goal is to create a high quality of life for all of the citizens of this city (which needs to be stated because many would point out that this is not the goal of many cops). So I will continue to be hard on the police because I want to see the bar raised and I want to see policies and resources directed in ways that make sense and create a better community. Though it's not just cops, it's all members of government that the people need to keep in check.

"Police often patrol where drivers are assholes, and ought to do the same where bikers are assholes."

While I think driver's apology is good sentiment as is the suggestion of sharing safety tips, this is exactly what I mean by saying "I want to see policies and resources directed in ways that make sense and create a better community." I've seen this meme repeated quite often and I wonder if people have ever really given the matter any thought. Cars are responsible for over 40,000 deaths annually in this country; bikes are responsible for less than 4 (last I checked). I'm planning on getting the numbers for portland so I can better make this case when it inevitably comes up again. Since cars pose a threat many thousands of times more likely than do bikes city resources (which is to say tax dollars and the time of city employees) should be allocated in a way that is appropriate and proportional to those threats. If we want people to be safe in this city we must first deal with the most significant threats to safety, the highest causes of death and injury. A multifaceted approach is good, but the focus should be kept on the most significant and likely threats rather on the most trivial and unlikely.

To put it another way, there seems to be a great confusion or perhaps deliberate obfuscation about the victims of vehicular accidents and the responsibilities associated with vehicle use. When a bicyclist is "riding foolishly" they are putting their own life at risk but when a driver is "driving foolishly" or acting impatient they are putting other people's lives at risk. We must not confuse these differences or dismiss them. When a biker has a "close call" she is a afraid for her life. When a driver has a close call she is afraid for another's life. We must not confuse these differences or dismiss them.

I feel silly for having to repeat what seems to obvious to me but just in case I haven't made my point sufficiently: cars are responsible for many thousands of times more injuries and fatalities than bicycles, therefore those who drive cars should be aware that they carry a far higher responsibility for keeping people safe from their vehicle. Likewise, government employees have a far higher responsibility to deal with the public safety hazard posed by cars. This does not need to worry car drivers (I am not worried); I'm not proposing banning cars in the city (though I would like to see their use reduced both for safety concerns and to deal with the other problems of rapidly increasing traffic density). The rising gas prices may take care of some of these issues but I suspect that there are policy initiatives that could benefit the community and hopefully this survey will be a good push in that direction.

death statistics 12.Aug.2005 17:00


That's a very good point, ct. Undoubtedly, cars cause far more deaths than cyclists. On the other hand, I don't think it's quite as black-and-white as you paint it. Have you never heard about an accident being caused by somebody swerving or braking to avoid a dog, cyclist, etc? If there had been a car close behind me the other day... And the other month I almost got smacked by another driver (who had plenty of room to stop) when I slowed to let a squirrel cross the road in a 30mph zone.

The fact of the matter is that auto accidents, statistically, happen when drivers change lanes, turn corners, stop abruptly, etc. Sharing the road with much slower vehicles means doing some of those things. Sharing the road with cyclists going the wrong way, blowing through red lights, ignoring the right of way, and so on, means doing those things like braking, changing lanes, etc, in a very dangerous way. That's not the behavior of all cyclists, or even a near-majority, but those folks are a big public safety hazard even if they don't realize it.

There's no doubt in my mind that the car is more dangerous than the bicycle, and as such deserves a much greater percentage of law enforcement/public safety efforts. There's also no doubt in my mind that the bicycle deserves some much-lesser fraction of the same attentions. Is there anybody out there who really believes that of the 40K auto-caused deaths, and hundreds of thousands more auto-caused injuries, that at least few hundred of them at least weren't initiated by a driver reacting to a cyclist? I have no idea what the numbers would be, and I don't think the data tells us, but for sure, driving OR riding like an asshole merits a ticket. If a cop sees a car breeze through a red light, I want that driver to get a ticket. Same as if a cyclist does.

At any rate, I think that it's important to note where drivers are concerned about cyclists, because that seems like a good indicator as to where a problem may exist or be likely to occur in the future. This solicitation of input is especially important when one considers that the Bike Portland data set will be limited by a relatively small number of data submissions. There are many hundreds of intersections & areas on interest in the Portland area. Bike Portland could solicit feedback on local automobile fan clubs and conservative web sites where people all drive SUVs (heh heh heh).

Hello 13.Aug.2005 13:57

good Idea

Hi , This is a good Idea , for both cyclists and drivers - it might need it's own page . And also to the COP's comment - how do I put this well it's not really about being a cop and a cyclists it's being a cop , yes cops kill us beat us and can not relate to us for crap , and if your not out there with a sighn telling the rest of your fellow cops to stop this behaveor - your still part of the problem your still a cop - get it .

Ok - Thanks -

My pain 13.Aug.2005 17:50

usfifty usfifty@email.com

These aren't near-misses... ... ... ..I was struck in the head either by a mirror or a heavy object on Sept. 11th 2004 at approx. 11pm. My collerbone was broken badly and will never heal. I was on Yamhill near 71st ave. going with gravity down Tabor. I wasn't wearing a helmet but I always do now. I live in the Woodstock neighborhood and I still bike commute 20 miles per day to the east edge of Gresham. I was also "bumped" off my bike at 52nd and Division in the crosswalk in the winter of 2003-2004. I reported the serious accident to the police and it is an open investigation AKA they will never catch this "good ole boy" hick in a pick-up who has negatively affected me for the rest of my life. If anyone saw anything or has a similer story in the same neighborhood please lets post and try to get this to stop. My old neighbor died in an "accident" on his way home from the bar since he was intoxicated their was no investigation (he veered off the road and hit a tree hard enough to become a vegetable) His son had not turned one yet. If you have info please email me at  usfifty@email.com.

(503) 921-5540