Sunday, August 07, 2005

Another Busy Week

It's the start of a new week (on the calendar at least), and we had a couple of wild back and forths... which we should (although hate, hate, hate the name calling). I laid off a couple of days to cool down with the last post.

A couple of letters came in but I think I'll post the most contentious one tomorrow.

Today I'll ask what was asked of me:

It came following the Trib story about biking and the numerous riders who died. The person who wrote me asked about headlines, and whether the story painted an incorrect picture about Portland and biking and walking, etc. They said Portland remains a very safe biking community, where drivers, for the most part, keep an eye on bikes and give them space.

But they came away from the article with the thought that Portland is a scary town for biking - as we often do thinking about crime when we watch TV.

I know it's hard to strike that balance, when the numbers seem a little out of hand, and we aren't likely to lead a newscast with, "Nobody got hurt and there were no fires in Portland today," (wouldn't that be a shocker).

How should we strike that balance, when the editor says only so many words, or you only have :45 seconds?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Stossel (sp?) did a great show on network TV a few years back called "Are We Scaring Ourselves To Death?" which compared the actual numbers of things like meth crime breakins, chance of dying of certain things, number of stranger abductions of children to the perceptions people have of those dangers.

The conclusion was that the media was so sensationalized that it was (is), in fact, giving Americans the impression that life is far more dangerous than it really is -- creating a (false)national mood of fear.

Sunday, August 07, 2005 7:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Capt. Choas said...

Heres the deal, the media loves clusters. If a small plane crashes and no one is hurt, it gets a mention. If a day later another plane crashes and no one is hurt, it's a full on story. Now if a third plane goes down... no matter the death and injury, everybody turns it into "the sky is falling, are we safe?". Mind you, stats say that every year we have 20 plane crashes, but because these three happenned in a cluster we make a huge deal of it. This is true of ALL NEWS. Bank robberies, bicycle deaths, Kids in car accidents, health scares, etc., etc. I can almost imagine producers around the market waiting for that third crash so they can have a solid lead for once. It's been a problem all over the country for local news especially, but the problem seems worse here in PDX. Reactionary coverage, not enterprising coverage. (Breaking news excluded, of course you react to that)

Sunday, August 07, 2005 8:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FWIW, John Stossel scares me to death.

Sunday, August 07, 2005 1:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to strenuously disagree. John Stossel does an incredible public service by poking holes in pseudo-science, taking on popular myths and lies, and exposing the waste, fraud and abuse rampant in the government at all levels. By the way, he did a stint way back here in PDX, I believe at KGW.

Sunday, August 07, 2005 2:03:00 PM  
Blogger The One True b!X said...

Actually, a lot of John Stossel's stuff is just libertarian claptrap countering the usual democratic and republic claptrap.

Sunday, August 07, 2005 2:48:00 PM  
Blogger Betsy said...

That cluster theory Captain Choas refers to is glaringly evident right now in the mounds of coverage both The O and The Trib are giving the Shooting! Deaths! In! Downtown! "epidemic" lately. (Don't know if it's getting the same level of froth in local television news, though, 'cause I don't typically it?)

Sunday, August 07, 2005 5:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Plastic Hallway said...

There are two other issues at work;
Portland isn't much of a breaking news town so unexpected events make a bigger splash and the ripples can extend for longer than many other markets.
It's also been relatively slow (outside of Salem) for a while and inches and air need to be filled.

Sunday, August 07, 2005 6:00:00 PM  
Blogger Eric C. said...

The initial blog was about the hyping of a perceived lack of safety. I just about laughed when I read the story because the headline was so over the top compared to what they wrote. Naturally, a headline is supposed to grab -- and it did.

However, the bigger issue here is that The Tribune seems to be drifting into sensationalism to pull people in (via their headlines) and then the stories are pretty straightforward. They're not quite to KPTV newscast standards but it pulls that way. I'm pretty disapointed now that Pete Schulberg is gone and am now skipping the green boxes on my Tuesday and Friday walks to the office from the MAX.

Sunday, August 07, 2005 8:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Simp said...

One thing that I, as a bicyclist (well, past cyclist), would love to see mentioned is that according to the law, if there is no bike lane, and the cyclist feels that it is unsafe for a vehicle to pass, the cyclist has the right of way and is entitled to full use of the lane. I used to carry around a copy of the driver's handbook in case of a vehicle/bicycle conflict, with the section highlighted. Cyclists who routinely ignore rules of the road piss me off just as much.

I will argee that this is simply a percieved lack of safety. This town is great for getting around on bike. People in vehicles just don't watch for cyclists (including motorcyclists).

Sunday, August 07, 2005 10:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When there's news, there's never enough." ---Firesign Theater 1973

Monday, August 08, 2005 12:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're city is blessed. As someone who used to live in Portland and now lives in Atlanta, I can tell the tolerance for bikes in Portland is monumental in comparison.

People do ride bike in Atlanta but much more often in packs (safety in numbers) and very rarely for pure transportation. I’d estimate that more pedestrians are killed by cars in Atlanta crossing dangerous streets then bicyclists are killed by cars.

Monday, August 08, 2005 6:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The same is true in Portland.

Of the nine dead people in the Portland Tribune story, two were bicyclists. The guy who got killed up by Delta Park was on a bike, so that makes three out of 10 this year.

Monday, August 08, 2005 7:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's 2 things at issue here: the handling of a headline and cyclist safety. As to the first, if dramatic headlines help make the roads safer, I can't get enough of them.

Cyclists here are far from heaven. I've been a bike commuter in bigger cities, and massive foreign cities, for about a decade, but I received my most serious, permanent injury from a Portland driver.

It would be hard to find a Portland cyclist who _hasn't_ been hit.

Sure, this city wins awards for its support of alternative transit, but the fatalities, the injuries, and the (sometimes willful) negligence that some drivers express show we have a long way to go in sharing the road.

I urge all to get educated on road rules/rights. Lawyer Ray Thomas' "Pedal Power" is invaluable.

I urge motorists to stay off the phone, check their blind spots, use their turn signals, and buy smaller cars that allow drivers more visibility.

I urge both drivers and cyclists to follow the laws. A crappy driver is never considered representative of all motorists, but all the time I take the heat for the two-wheeled cretins of this town.


Monday, August 08, 2005 1:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The arrogance of drivers vs. cyclists is matched only by the arrogance of cyclists vs drivers. Guess who's gonna win that one?

Monday, August 08, 2005 2:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been riding TriMet and C-Tran for years (everyone in Clark County - support C-Tran's ballot measure this September!), which also means I'm a pedistrian at least to and from the bus stops, and I do get out and walk around quite a bit more than most would.

I wait for the "walk" signal at signaled intersections. I walk on the sidewalk. I'm not one of those "I-think-I-own-the-side-of-the-road" type of pedistrians.

I pay attention to the traffic on the road, and although many motorists pay attention to pedistrians, there are some people that don't pay attention to anything but - as examples - their cell phone conversation, or their kids in the backseat. These are the people that I watch out for because they obviously aren't watching out for me.

Please, if you can't (or just plain won't) hang up and drive, teach your kids not to annoy one another, etc.; then please do all of us a favor, and join me on the bus.

Monday, August 08, 2005 11:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know I know cars have a lot at fault here. Hell, I am at fault myself sometimes when I don't completely look when changing lanes on the freeway.

Nevertheless, blame is not equally shared a lot of times. I recently read a case in Rochester NY about 2 bicyclists being hit by a car. The same exact picture was portrayed, that motorists should all be watching the road.

Do you know what was hidden in the article however? 2 sentences were devoted to that fact that the cyclists had no helmets and they went through a stop sign.

We all do things wrong, but this town makes being a cyclist like being a God. I ride a bike, I drive a car, I walk... I also fasten my safety belt, wear a helmet (Yes, I'm over 16), and look both ways before crossing a street. But do I need praise for using alternate transportation? Hell no.

Monday, August 08, 2005 11:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Tuesday, August 09, 2005 7:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, everybody who ISN'T from Portland knows that one of the biggest reasons the Portland traffic sucks is becuase Portland drivers drive too slow, aren't agressive, and don't think they own the road.
That's my horn up your butt, folks.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005 8:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you moron portland drivers, heres some information for you:

when you crawl up my ass because you are going 20-30 miles over the spped limit, don't expect me to get out of your way.
in fact, i don't even see you as i am looking forward as that is the direction i am moving. i don't drive looking backwards. because i choose to obey the rules of the road and i focus my concentration on what is happening in FRONT of me, you asshole drives can pass me in the goddamn ditch for all i care because i am NOT MOVING FOR YOU

Thursday, August 11, 2005 12:17:00 PM  
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