home

Citizen citation yields success; driver pleads “no contest”

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 27th, 2008 at 11:16 am

Lawyer Chris Heaps was not
satisfied with the Police response
to a bike/car crash, so he
pursued justice himself...and got it.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Christopher Heaps, the Portland lawyer who mounted a "citizen initiated" campaign last December to bring the driver who hit Siobhan Doyle to justice, says we can "chalk one up for the good guys."

Heaps learned this morning that the driver, Lisa Wheeler, has plead "no contest" and will have to pay a $182 fine for violation of ORS 811.050, or "failure to yield to a bicycle in a bike lane".

Back in November, Doyle was riding her bike down N. Interstate Ave. when Wheeler, who was also traveling on Interstate turned right onto Greeley, hitting Doyle in the process. The collision put Doyle in the hospital with serious injuries, but due to Police policies that (used to) only require investigations when "Trauma-level" injuries were sustained, no investigation was performed at the scene, and therefore, no citation was issued.

Heaps felt it was unjust that Wheeler would not be held accountable for a clear violation of a Oregon traffic law -- so he decided to pursue justice on his own.

"This is a victory for everyone who wants to have safer streets in Portland and who expects there to be consequences for those who injure and kill others."
--Chris Heaps

Using a little-known Oregon statute that allows any citizen to initiate a "violation proceeding" against another citizen, Heaps followed all the required steps, even persisting through red tape at the courthouse, to serve Wheeler with a citation.

Wheeler was arraigned on the charges at the Justice Center in downtown Portland this morning where she entered her guilty plea and agreed to pay a fine. Heaps says KGW-TV was there and they plan to broadcast the story, along with an interview with Heaps, today at noon.

Heaps is understandably pleased with the outcome. "I'm pretty psyched about it," he said, "it shows that the citizen initiated violation process can really work."

In a comment below, Heaps added that, "This is a victory for everyone who wants to have safer streets in Portland and who expects there to be consequences for those who injure and kill others. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of some big changes in the way people use our roadways."

Heaps, along with help from other community members including author Joe "Metal Cowboy" Kurmaskie, will now turn their attention to a citizen citation effort in the case of Brett Jarolimek, who was killed in a similar crash just weeks before Doyle at the same intersection.


For more information on the citizen initiation of violation proceedings process, read the article I published in January 2006, New campaign to bring motorists to justice.

Email This Post Email This Post

Possibly related posts


Gravatars make better comments... Get yours here.
Please notify the publisher about offensive comments.
Comments
  • J G February 27, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Great work, Chris. Thanks!
    How about an update on other citizen-initiated citations?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Toby February 27, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Thank you Heaps for following through with this! Not to take anything away from the success, I think it\'s a shame that someone nearly lost their life due to poor driving skills and outright negligence, and she only has to pony up a few dollars. Not much more than an annoyance for her and unlikely she took anything lasting away from it.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • steve February 27, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Awesome work a.O.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • brettoo February 27, 2008 at 11:46 am

    The perp may only have to pay a \"few dollars\" in criminal fines but isn\'t she likely to get zapped by some sort of civil action for damages filed by the victim? Anything happening on that score?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Schrauf February 27, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Fabtastic!

    Maybe the city will pay you a stipend for doing the job of their police force...

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • mike_khad1 February 27, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Good Job AO.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Carl February 27, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Rock on, a.O. Thanks for your time and dedication.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir February 27, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Good job, a.O.!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Antonio Gramsci February 27, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Outstanding!

    You are to be commended for persevering through a tedious, timeconsuming, and sometimes Kafkaesque process, but producing a tangible and really positive result.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matt Picio February 27, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks, a.O - great work and perseverance!

    To those who complain about being a slap on the wrist - small steps. Any step is better than NO step. We work with what we have, and always strive for more.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir February 27, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I think this is bigger than the citation itself. The driver has declined to defend herself against the citation, and has been convicted. Besides the fine-- no, make that \"more importantly than the fine\"-- the driver\'s insurance company will not be able to claim that she was not negligent when she right-hooked Siobhan. It means less frivolous delay from the insurance company, and a more realistic settlement offer for the cyclist. This is a big deal for the injured cyclist.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Toby February 27, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Not complaining, I think it\'s huge that a \"citizen\" can make a difference where the \"system\" falls short. I just have doubts that the drivers future actions will be greatly effected. I hope I\'m wrong.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir February 27, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Toby, this driver now has a conviction on her driving record. That will probably result in an increase in her insurance premiums, which means more money out of her pocket. While there\'s no guarantee that she\'ll be more careful in the future, her self-interest in lowering her insurance premiums (coupled with whatever lesson she might have learned after injuring a cyclist and being cited for it) makes it more likely that she will be more careful in the future.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • a.O February 27, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Thank you everybody for your kind words. It\'s really an honor to be able to serve my community this way. This is a victory for everyone who wants to have safer streets in Portland and who expects there to be consequences for those who injure and kill others. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of some big changes in the way people use our roadways.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Grimm February 27, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Fantastic conviction on behalf of cyclists throughout the city. Thanks a.O.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bahueh February 27, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    good precedent...good work.
    law takes baby steps, just like most other professions..

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jeff February 27, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Great job.
    I\'m in Wisconsin and we don\'t have the same kind of citizen complaint process but I\'ve been pursuing citations against cars who break the law by going through local police agencies with varying degrees of success. It\'s nice to see that when you can\'t get any help from the police you can take care of matters on your own, legally.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Kevin Hedahl February 27, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Great job Chris!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jack Jenkins February 27, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Thank You, Christopher Heaps!

    A small victory, but a big one too. The fine is too small, but at least it\'s something.

    I\'m tired of being a target and bikers acting as victims. Yes, sometime roadies can be jerks, running red lights, hogging the road in packs, etc.... and while some of us need to clean up our own acts, at least we aren\'t blithely maiming and killing and the then saying (in essence), \"Oh, well.\"

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Donald February 27, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    A great service to the community, Chris. Way to go!

    That we got to laugh along with you as you made the trek was terrific bonus.

    _DA

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Opus the Poet February 27, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Excuse me for a minute, but as I read this report the fine for running over a cyclist minding his or her own business in a bike lane was $182, but the fine for rolling a stop sign at 1 MPH when nobody is coming is in excess of $240? Can someone please explain the logic behind this one?

    Opus

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • gus February 27, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Opus, it is an excellent illustration of the difference between \"law\" and \"justice\". Law is not a logical entity, unfortunately neither is justice. In this case, while the needs of law have been met, hopefully those of justice will be forthcoming.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Anonymous February 27, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Great work, thanks

    I was in an accident a couple years ago where a car that (almost) passed me on the road made a hard right, hit me with the side of his car and drove off, the way it ended up playing out was that the cop didn\'t give him a ticket and his insurance company declined to pay anything. So, word to the wise, make sure a ticket is issued otherwise you may be out with little or no recourse after the fact.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Anonymous February 27, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    To whom do I complain when I see a bike run a red light?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob February 27, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    You did well, a.O..

    Now that the driver has been brought to justice, it might be worth knowing more about the personal situation of the offending driver, and just how this turn of events will impact their life and others in turn.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Stripes February 27, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Awesome work - thankyou!!

    a.O. - have you considered typing up some basic notes on the (many!) steps you had to take to issue this citizen-based citation?

    It would be great to have the process you undertook documented step by step, so that more cyclists (or indeed, anybody) could use it in future, if necessary.

    Where did you go to get the form? Which department gave you the form? What is the form called? How do you correctly fill it in? Who do you turn the form in to? What happens next? Those sorts of things...

    Again - thankyou!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • slayer February 27, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    what a bunch of crap, way to piss people off. ride defensively and accept the fact that cars are deadly and YOU need to be prepared to act accordingly, ride like everybody is out to kill you. hope that lady didnt have to skip any meals or miss any medication because you abused the system.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Crash N. Burns February 28, 2008 at 12:01 am

    a.O. - I like to say it AAyyyyyy-OOhhhhhh!!

    Especially when you\'re doing such good work. I\'ve often read your posts with much agreement. It\'s nice to put a person to the name. Thanks for all you efforts.

    Anonymous #24: Please complain to the same person and or persons you would complain to when you see a car run a red light - or a bus, or a UPS truck , or a skateboarder, or a tractor, or a cop...

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • true February 28, 2008 at 7:53 am

    That\'s amazing. Good work, folks.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Metal Cowboy February 28, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Slayer... are you kidding us or baiting us? Abuse the system? Doyle , Brett, Tracy S, Tim in wash county were all following the law. Doyle was put on the hood of a car while riding a bike defensively and well. I was going to write more but I suggest you go back and read all the posts connected to this subject. We are working too hard to help the police change the way they investigate these incidents and through enforcement change the climate out there where some drivers feel like they can drive recklessly around cyclists b/c nothing will happen if they hit one. we\'re doing this so that all vulnerable users are safer - including you if you ride a bicycle.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Metal Cowboy February 28, 2008 at 8:14 am

    Enforcement also helps drivers without malice be more attentive while making their commutes and trips around portland. Most of those trips will be driving from one gas station to another as pricings keep going up.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Patti February 28, 2008 at 8:15 am

    a.O!
    Just OUTSTANDING. Quite frankly, this is what I needed to wake up to this morning in my jaded things-will-always-be-the-way-the-are world....! You a.O, \"fought City Hall\". This is huge! Congratulations.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • a.O February 28, 2008 at 8:27 am

    I once got accused of having a \"fan club\" on bikeportland. I\'m officially making this guy the President:

    http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/rnr/589428038.html

    I don\'t know whether to be more hurt that he got the facts wrong or that he called me fat. I\'m very sensitive about my weight.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jeff February 28, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Craigslist Rants and Raves, giving voice to the intellectually challenged since 1995.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ena February 28, 2008 at 9:07 am

    While, I applaud your efforts, Chris and thank you for taking the time to stand up for Siobhan, I feel sad that Lisa feels no remorse. Siobhan just wants an apology and it bums me out. I know how she feels as Michael Lammers at Marylhurst was not remorseful either.

    If Siobhan can not get an apology, she needs to get money for her bills, a new bike, and any other compensation. How does she do this? Chris, can you advise her on what further steps she can take to have her physical needs met?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bahueh February 28, 2008 at 9:07 am

    \"I\'m tired of being a target and bikers acting as victims. Yes, sometime roadies can be jerks, running red lights, hogging the road in packs, etc.... and while some of us need to clean up our own acts, at least we aren\'t blithely maiming and killing and the then saying (in essence), \"Oh, well.\"\"

    hey Jack..watch the broad brush..there are many cycling teams (\"roadies\", as you so call us) that obey each and every traffic signal...I see more hybrid commuters each day blow stop signs and ride into opposite traffic than any other group, by far.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bahueh February 28, 2008 at 9:19 am

    A.O...
    you\'re a popular guy on the rants and rave Craigslist....

    I would suggest bikeportland folks respond in kind...

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • pat h February 28, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Great Work!

    Any info on how to do the process ourselves would be great.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • hickeymad February 28, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Way to go a.o.!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Anonymous February 28, 2008 at 11:30 am

    So does it work the other way too - can I site bicyclists that disobey and put me in danger?

    Not to belittle the deaths and injuries of bikers - but the guy going the wrong way down a sidewalk yesterday, at a high rate of speed when I was pulling out yesterday afternoon - what was he thinking - I almost hit him - and if I killed him - I would have to live with that for the rest of my life - even though it would have been entirely his fault - where is my justice?

    How about the bikers that blow the intersection near my house EVERY SINGLE DAY or the ones that ride at night on the narrow roads on my way home from work - WITHOUT LIGHTS - I should be able to call a cop and have them ticketed on the spot.

    My life is shortened everytime I have a close call with a bike - and just so you know - I look out for bikes - and they are always the ones at fault? Perhaps we should require a licence to ride a bike and take it away just like a drivers licence when you get to many tickets - oh wait - bikers don\'t get any tickets for their bad behavior - guess that won\'t work.

    Glad you guys got a win - glad something went good for the injured - just remember - BOTH PARTIES SUFFER - there are really no winners until the laws are obeyed CONSISTANTLY by both sides not just when it is convenient or easy.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Robert Dobbs February 28, 2008 at 11:59 am

    @40

    \"BOTH PARTIES SUFFER\"

    One word: Meh.

    One party is typically dead or broken from a bike-vehicle collision. Hint: It\'s not the guy in the vehicle.

    Sympathy for the devil, indeed.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • erin g. February 28, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you for your hard work and dedication toward attaining justice in this important case, Chris. We are very fortunate to have you in our community.

    Many cheers to you,

    Erin G.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bahueh February 28, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Hey Anonymous..
    some of us, get this, actually have a drivers license too...a real one...its valid and everything. we also own cars and drive them regularly.

    yes, agreed, a lot of cyclists are stupid assholes with little regard for traffic signals...making the majority of us look pretty bad. if a 1/4 panel meet their path when they do something wrong...then so be it..there is no legal recourse for them and most likely, now with PPD\'s new policy of crash investigations, that rider will be cited. your dignity be saved.
    this law is for you also...please realize that...if you ever choose to saddle up and go for a ride, and a driver slights you, you have recourse.
    this is not Us vs. Them...its a movement to make EVERYONE safer and more accountable.
    I agree, PPD should do more to counter the stupid actions of cyclists...honestly, I do...as i believe many riders are part of the perceived problem and should be schooled as to their place on the road...

    however running someone over with impunity (as Siobhan D. was on N. Greely)contains issues the law was not addressing...until now.

    it should tell you something that the driver in this instance pleaded \"no contest\" and paid her fine...tells me she realized her mistake and is willing to be adult about the repercussion...are you?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • true February 28, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Anonymous #40 -

    It\'s legal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalks of Portland except for downtown. It\'s your responsibility to watch for all people using the sidewalk when you back out.

    If your stop sign is getting run, call the traffic division - complaints are what get traffic stings set up. That\'s what the Ladd\'s Addition folks do.

    \"Bicyclists don\'t get tickets for their bad behavior.\" - Cyclists get fined $242 for running a stop sign. Lisa Wheeler is being fined $182 for almost killing Siobahn Doyle. Funny math.

    Inform your rant a little and then the sensible part about all road users needing to follow the rules will make sense and be heard.

    Get on a bike and join us, it\'s all the rage. Cheers.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Chris February 28, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    The key issue that has been ignored is the fact that the presence of a mandatory bike lane (on a 6% downhill grade approaching a major intersection, no less!) is what sets up the conflict in the first place. The problem is not one of \"failure to yield\", but is instead \"Why are cyclists and motorists pre-programmed to have these conflicts when mandatory bike lanes place bicyclists to the right of right-turning traffic?\"

    Getting rid of the bike lanes and educating (and allowing) bicyclists to use the full lane in such situations to prevent these kinds of crashes in the first place is the best solution to this problem.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mr. Jenkie February 28, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Yup, it only makes bikers happy when they have free run of the streets, to blow through red lights, to not signal, to not properly use lanes, etc etc etc. Would cyclists be willing to pay their share of the roads by licensing their bikes? Probably not considering the lawless freeloading mentality of cyclists in this city.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Nana February 28, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    a.O
    You\'re my new hero.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ena February 28, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Look,

    I understand #40 being frustrated, because I see folks without lights all the time. I would never forgive myself if I hit someone. But, like others have said, it\'s the bicyclist who really suffers. Mr. 40, I don\'t think you\'ll understand what we\'re talking about here until you get hit and the other person gets away with it.

    When you get injured on a bike, your life stops and is over for a while. You lose everything you love, your credit goes hits the toilet, you are in huge debt, you lose your job, and that doesn\'t even count your physical injuries. My accident was nowhere near as bad as Siobhan and it took me over a year to heal and parts of my body are permanently damaged.

    I know that it\'s scary out there driving around Portland and I don\'t condone cyclists running lights and intersections, but give me a break, it\'s nowhere even close. Bikes are not killing machines, cars are!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR February 29, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    @ #45: You have hit the nail squarely on the head. Unfortunately, the BTA and the \'bike safety experts\' at PDOT are apparently clueless when it comes to designing safe facilities for cyclists. They are catering to the lowest common denominator - a novice who hasn\'t ridden a bicycle in years and has a great fear of riding in traffic, and they are designing facilities that give these folks a modicum of complacency but are actually extremely unsafe to use. Installing narrow bike lanes on downhill grades and to the right of right turning traffic is just plain wrong and cyclists will continue to be injured and killed in these bike lanes until the city reevaluates and changes their engineering designs. The new \'bike boxes\' also fall squarely into the category of \'seemed like a good idea at the time, too bad it\'s not really safe\'. Unfortunately, the city probably won\'t change the way they do business until they are hit with a huge lawsuit regarding the safety of the bike lanes they are building, maybe a.O. wants to take this issue on next?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bahueh February 29, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Mr. Jenkie--
    what in hell makes you believe that most of us don\'t own cars and \"pay our way\" for road use?
    I, in fact, own TWO cars...drive them quite often...they\'re licensed and everything..simply because I don\'t choose to use them to drive the 3 miles to my job, doesn\'t mean your mind should be so obtusely closed to what constitutes reality.

    \"lawless freeloading mentality\"...I would be willing to bet I pay more taxes than you do....now who\'s freeloading? is my house not being taxed annual? I buy a tank of gas every week...pay state income tax for which a portion goes to ODOT and the city.

    you own your car, NOT the road. get over yourself and whatever preconceived notions you have...

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Metal Cowboy February 29, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Amen Bahueh,

    Thanks for setting Mr. Jenke straight - I\'d only add that in addition to cyclist\'s paying our way through taxes etc. and often car ownership, when we pedal we do not place a burden on the road system, we do not have parking spaces being subsidized to the tune of a grand per spot, we do not create a \"cost\" through environmental impact, emissions each time we choose a bike over a car for a commute and/or trips to stores, events etc.

    Bikes pay for the roads in many ways beyond property, income and other taxes.

    Incidentally, I own a car also. So there goes my \"freeloading \" status.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • a.O February 29, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Exactly right, bahueh & Metal Cowboy.

    I own a motor vehicle, too. A truck, in fact.

    And I\'m willing to bet the extremely ill-informed Mr. Jenkie $20 that I pay more taxes than he does.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • true February 29, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Sorry to nitpick, Mr. M. Cowboy, but bicycle manufacturing does have a negative environmental impact, a lot less than automobile manufacturing and driving, but it\'s still there. Aluminum smelting and manufacturing is not the cleanest process by a long shot. Just sayin\'.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Metal Cowboy February 29, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    So true, True. Sorry if I made it sound like the creation of a bicycle arrives on angel\'s breath after being blessed by the Pope. Its creation definitely takes energy and makes pollution at its birth, but it is dwarfed by the energy process and materials needed to create a car. And once it\'s ready to roll, the impacts of car vs bike aren\'t even close. But I\'m not one to wear rose colored glasses. Everything a society creates has impact costs including bikes. I read a study recently that charted the creation costs of a bicycle vs various vehicles and the bike won out by a large margin. I\'ll try to hunt down a link. BTW, think the pope has ever blessed a bicycle? He\'s blessed just about everything else...

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • true March 1, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    I\'m with you. Lower impact is better and that\'s what we\'re up to. Cheers.

    I\'ll bless your bike anytime, and I\'ll wear a funny hat, too.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • a.O March 3, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Folks, this morning I received in the mail in an envelope with no return address. It was accompanied by $20 cash and with a note of thanks signed \"From a fellow bicyclist.\" I want you to know, whomever you are, that I really appreciate the sentiment and that I will be donating this money to the BTA.

    Along those same lines, I have received numerous messages, letters, and emails thanking me for my efforts. I can\'t really answer them all, so here\'s my best shot: You\'re welcome! As I said above, it\'s an honor to do this and really no thanks are necessary.

    I hope this inspires you to do something to make Portland a safer and better place to bike. Like riding. Or something else you\'re good at.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

- Daily bike news since 2005 -
BikePortland.org is a production of
PedalTown Media Inc.
321 SW 4th Ave, Ste. 401
Portland, OR 97204

Powered by WordPress. Theme by Clemens Orth.
Subscribe to RSS feed


Original images and content owned by Pedaltown Media, Inc. - Not to be used without permission.