Cyclist behavior July 3

We at River View Cemetery are saddened to have received this message from one of our members on Saturday. Our cemetery is literally caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the cycling community. What this visitor wrote is something we deal with every single day. We have tried over the years to work with the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation to seek a solution for cyclists to have a safe route along Taylors Ferry Rd. We voluntarily participate in the city’s transportation system to keep cyclists safe however this behavior continues. Riding in our sanctuary for the deceased is a privilege not a right. We do not have to keep our gates open as it is private property. We are asking the community to help us out, contact PBOT (503) 823-5185, if you are in the cycling community please respect the cemetery, its workers and families that entrust us to care for them and their decedents. Our rules are simple, please help us keep River View a safe place for everyone.

From one of our members:
Message
Hello, I want to report an incident this afternoon upon arriving at the cemetery today - July 3rd. I was riding in a car driven by my father. We entered the cemetery through the lower gate off the Sellwood Bridge. Just as we passed through the gate we noticed a cyclist climbing the hill. He was traveling along the right side of the road. My dad is a very careful driver and was moving slowly. As we moved past the cyclist he began to veer into the car to the point that I was certain he would hit us. I looked over at him and tried to wave him away. He yelled at me: “I’m not going to move over, you bitch.” Needless to say I was horrified. Once we arrived at the chapel we noticed a dozen or more cyclists, most of whom were riding aggressively. It was obvious that we could not safely drive on the cemetery roads under the circumstances. This is not how a visit to a cemetery should go.

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Wow this is very sad. River View Cemetery is a place of reflection and mourning.

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Thank you, we just received another complaint. A woman was visiting her sons grave this morning and was yelled at by a group of approximately 30 cyclists. No parent should be harassed or verbally abused when visiting their kids grave. I’ve passed these messages onto the board of trustees. It’s very unfortunate all around, if we close the gates then that’s also punishing the mourners and our client families. However, this behavior is unsafe and unnecessary. Any help from the cycling community would be so appreciated, we are a private non-profit cemetery, not transportation guru’s.

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Dear River View: On what basis do you assume that either of these accounts represent the full truth? Has anyone supplied primary-source evidence such as video recordings? If not, don’t you think it’s possible, given human nature, that those reporting could be just a wee bit biased and selective in their storytelling compared to what may have actually happened?

Also: Portland is a large city. On what basis do you assume the existence of one monolithic “cycling community”? For comparison, what do you suppose would happen if you issued this kind of message, threatening to close the gates, to an imagined monolithic “motoring community” after some perceived offense by drivers?

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Hi

In regard to evidence, I would say I have first hand experience. At least once a week, and so do other employees. As Executive Director of the cemetery I receive numerous complaints each year similar to what I just posted. That is a pattern. Also, please note, the cemetery is a private non-profit cemetery owned by each person who bought a grave, it’s an association. We don’t have to open the cemetery to the public. I’m not sure what more I can say about your reply on the topic of poor behavior in a cemetery. If you have some ideas on solutions I’d welcome them.

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I read you loud and clear: You don’t have any primary-source evidence about what actually happened in the two accounts you initially mentioned.

And yes, people being biased and selective in their storytelling most certainly is a pattern, likely dating back millions of years.

If no one has any primary-source evidence, then it seems likely that whatever you decide to do, you will do it based on your own echo chamber of biases. So be it, I guess.

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“Once we arrived at the chapel we noticed a dozen or more cyclists, most of whom were riding aggressively.“

This is a tell, the story is unbelievable. Over a dozen “aggressive” cyclist swarming the chapel??!? Ridiculous.

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As someone who rides bikes, motorcycles and drives in about equal parts, I can assure you that drivers take offense at riders just being, just existing on roads in ways they don’t at other drivers and even motorcyclists. People riding bicycles rankle drivers and since they are in control of machines that can quite literally take the life of a bicyclist, any disagreement on the road is not a free and equal exchange of opinions.

I have been yelled at by drivers for yielding to them when I didn’t have to and I have also been yelled at by drivers when I’m not even on the same road as they are. They were over there on their own road stuck in traffic while I was on a parallel bike path riding by. It didn’t matter. I was riding a lightning rod for anger at the wrong place and the wrong time.

So I have to agree with another poster here who questioned the veracity of driver reports about “rude riders being mean to drivers”. Yeah, I’ve been “mean to drivers” myself so I know how it can get there and it doesn’t start by me, riding a 30 pound bicycle, trying to “intimidate” 4,000 pound cars off the road because I feel immortal for some reason. I just want to get home or to work or maybe even relax on a ride but interactions happen because drivers feel annoyed that I “got in their way” when “roads are for cars”.

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I would like to thank the Riverview Cemetary for allowing us cyclist to ride up and down through your facility for the last few decades. I personally have been riding through it for going on 15 years now, several times a week, sometimes multiple times a day.

Contrary to what my other fellow cyclist have posted here the truth lies somewhere in the middle with maybe a frustrated motorist and possibly a bad cyclist or three…because I know that both of them exist.

I happened to be riding down through the cemetary on the morning of July 3rd and happened to see a large group (Bigger than I have seen in the past) headed up the hill taking up the majority of the road.

I hope that the actions of a few cyclist dont get this amazing route shut down for the thousands of us that respect the facility and do our best to follow the rules and routes that are posted as well as accomodate the car traffic (I mean we are riding on roads that are build for car traffic afterall)

Ill do my share to keep my other fellow cyclist on track in the future.

Thank you

Sean

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This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

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Here’s an image from the “Historical Tour” page of River View’s own website:


River View Cemetery | Portland, OR Funeral Home & Cremation. The cemetery was founded in 1882. Note the horse-drawn buggies. Thus its roads weren’t “build for car traffic.” Are you a sock puppet?

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Thank you Sean for the kind and helpful words.

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@Steve Do you believe that the roads through the cemetary were built for you and your bike? This is whats wrong with the internet. Do you disagree that there are bad cyclist?? Do you disagree that some motorists are frustrated?

What I am trying to do here is recognize that the OP has valid point and do what I can to help make it better. Appreciate you arguing with everyone that has posted in here…really helps us keep the PRIVATE cemetary open for us all to use.

Also appreciate you jumping to conclusions about me. I have commuted by bike almost every day in 2020 and 2021, but you must know best =)

Cheers to finding a happy medium here

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It is not helpful to dispute the statements of the cemetery’s Executive Director. Whether the facts are as given or not, the PERCEPTION by both the Executive Director and the cemetery patrons is what matters. They think that cyclists are abusing the privilege of using the cemetery. That’s a problem for all cyclists, even if any such abuse is by a minority of cyclists.

The Executive Director has made a very reasonable plea: that cyclists respect the people who are attending their family members’ graves. I think folks who dispute the statements of the Executive Director should pipe down. They are just making things that perception worse.

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The alleged confrontations imply it may no longer be safer to ride in the cemetery than outside of it. In that case, cemetery access (and the statements of the poster purporting to be the executive director) may grow far less relevant.

Also: Just for fun, let’s try a little word replacement with what you wrote:

“They think that [racial or ethnic identity] are abusing the privilege of using the cemetery. That’s a problem for all [racial or ethnic identity], even if any such abuse is by a minority of [racial or ethnic identity]. The Executive Director has made a very reasonable plea: that [racial or ethnic identity] respect the people who are attending their family members’ graves.”

Do you begin to see?

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mhl - Thank you. Your level toned positive feedback is much appreciated.

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Seems like a policy of no group rides allowed would be prudent. As an essential connection graciously and electively permitting passage of bicycle commuters, doing group rides through the cemetery seems both disrespectful from go and antithetical to the cause.

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You’ve inadvertently hit it on the head. When the “essential” is “electively permitted,” that’s not “gracious.” It means something is very wrong, and conflict will result.

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Thanks. Yeah, those adjectives are a bit schizophrenic taken together.

It is “essential” on an individual level as the safest route of reasonable length for people commuting from A to B. It’s not essential for group rides since a group ride is elective in nature and can always choose a different route altogether.

“Electively permitted” because it is still private property under no current legal obligation (that I’m aware of) with a public easement for passage.

“Gracious” on the part of the cemetery, because, for the most part, I don’t think anyone is forcing or can force the cemetery to allow passage.

But you’re right – this adjective salad absolutely points to the real infrastructure problem that our public civil services have failed to provide.

I’ve never ridden this route myself (I’ve ridden near it), but I know that if I needed to rely on it, I would do everything in my power to serve as a good example, remain respectful at all times (it’s a cemetery for Pete’s sake!), and try to keep in the good graces of the cemetery management.

I simply do not understand anyone riding through the cemetery treating it as anything other than hallowed ground meant to be treated with respect as opposed to a privileged right of way. I do find the hearsay accounts partially dubious as presented here, but I also know that they are not without many preceding and truthful incidences that still point to a fundamental conflict created by the lack of safe riding access in the area.

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I’m very sorry to hear that some riders have been rude to people visiting the cemetery. There are reasonable ways to handle most road interactions that don’t involve inflammatory attitudes, words and actions.

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