A verbal interaction between two road users in southeast Portland erupted into gunfire Saturday afternoon.
According to neighbors (one of whom contacted BikePortland), the incident took place around 6:00 pm on September 3rd. A bicycle rider was pedaling south on SE 16th between Washington and Alder and had a verbal exchange with someone driving a car. The bicycle user reportedly said something to the effect of “There’s no need to drive like that, we both have a right to be on this road!” Then the driver pulled out a gun, fired two shots, and sped away.
Portland Police officers responded to 911 calls and located two shell casings near the 16th and Alder intersection.
After hearing about this secondhand, I contacted the Portland Police Bureau. They confirmed the incident and said neither party remained at the scene to talk with police. They’re holding the bullets for analysis and the investigation remains open.
For context, this section of 16th is designated as a Neighborhood Greenway by the City of Portland. It has shared-lane markings (sharrows) and a 20 mph posted speed limit. Bicycle riders aren’t just legally entitled to take the full lane, it’s the safest way for them to use the road. Neighborhood Greenways are also intended to be, “Streets that prioritize people walking, bicycling, and rolling,” and are the, “backbone of the Safe Routes to School network.”
However, despite the design and intention of these greenways, people in much more powerful and dangerous motorized vehicles often display impatient and aggressive behavior toward those moving with human-power. Car drivers also use these quiet residential streets as shortcuts to avoid congestion on larger streets. These conflicting uses frequently result in stressful interactions.
With anxiety levels at all-time highs due to the pandemic, protests, a collapsing economy, and chaotic national politics, these interactions are more likely than ever to spiral out of control.
Back in May a man was shot and seriously injured in a similar road rage incident just seven blocks away.
If you have any information about Saturday’s incident, please contact the Portland Police Bureau at 503-823-3333 and reference case number 20-301252.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and [email protected]
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