Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 15th, 2005 at 2:48 pm
[update: I have been notified of several incorrect facts in my account and have made appropriate changes.---Jonathan]
A few months ago, the bike lane in front of the Benson Hotel on SW Broadway was the scene of an ugly incident involving a
delivery truck, a cyclist, and several cops, summoned by the Benson valet via cell phone. The truck was parked in the bike lane, the cyclist (participating in Critical Mass) tried to get around it without going into traffic, scratched the truck in doing so, and the cops took offense. Tickets were written An arrest was made, damage was done, and nerves were rattled. The incident has since been settled out of court.
The incident started a discussion in the bike community about the unsafe practice of motorists parking in bike lanes downtown. The problem is that when someone blocks a bike lane, bikers are forced into traffic. Not only does that make things more dangerous to the cyclist, it also finds them in a strange legal place according to the current law which isn't kind to cyclists once they leave the bike lane (however, thanks to the BTA, as of Jan. 1, 2006 the law will explicitly grant legal protection to cyclists outside of the bike lane).
Recently, with groundwork by concerned cyclists and Sam Adams' prodding, there have been new bike lane markings painted in that spot. They consist of four creatively decorated cyclists and four arrows. Hopefully, these new, and highly visible markings will discourage motorists from impeding on the bike lane and everyone will be safer.