Bicyclists say driver targeted them, passenger kicked one

(KATU Photo)

A Portland couple was biking Wednesday night when they say a driver targeted them. A passenger in the car stuck his foot out a backseat window and kicked the cyclist, knocking him to the ground.

"I couldn't stop seeing the foot come out of the window," said Alina Stircu, who was biking with her partner on Southeast 28th Avenue around 10:20 p.m. Wednesday.

Stircu says as they passed by Stark Street, they heard people in a dark-colored SUV shouting at them and then speeding to catch up with them.

"It started to ride behind my partner, and it got as close as possible without knocking him off his bike," Stircu said. "The window in the backseat lowered down and somebody put their foot out and kicked him off his bike."

Stircu calls it a miracle that her partner wasn't seriously hurt. He escaped with some bruises.

"It was the mere velocity and position of the foot that prevented him from having his head run over by the rear tires of the car," Stircu said. "The better part of me wants to think it was just a cruel joke by some young people. The thing about the joke, though, is that people don't realize how close it is to ending someone's life."

Portland police were alerted to the incident. A spokesperson with the bureau says staff doesn't keep detailed records of how many cyclists are assaulted or harassed by drivers and car passengers. Those incidents are lumped together with other cases of intimation and assault.

BikePortland, the city's go-to news outlet for cycling news, is run by Jonathan Maus, who says he regularly gets reports from people who have experienced similar incidents.

"I'm hesitant to sort of expose the underbelly of experiences that people are going through on bikes unfortunately," Maus said.

Maus says these assaults highlight how cyclists remain vulnerable on the road and can be preyed on by some drivers who see cyclists as the "other."

"The deck of cars is really stacked against bicycle riders in so many ways," Maus said, who adds many cyclists who contact him are hesitant to file a police report. "Somebody just kicked you while you were biking. Of course you call the police, that's assault."

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