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Judge: Woman hit in unpainted bike lane is not protected by law

Posted by on December 18th, 2009 at 10:26 am

A Portland judge has ruled that when
bike lane striping vanishes, like in the
intersection of SE 10th and Hawthorne, so
does a rider’s legal protection.

When Portlander Rob Daray witnessed a right-hook collision on his commute home last summer he thought it was obvious who was at fault. So did the police officer who cited the operator of the motor vehicle for “failure to yield to a bicycle.” Even the woman driving the car admitted she made an abrupt right turn without checking her blind spots.

But when the case came up in traffic court, the judge came to a different conclusion and now Mr. Daray and others familiar with this are worried that people who ride bicycles are vulnerable — not just on the street, but in the legal system as well.

“This was such a cut and dry accident that it is shocking it was ruled this way in a “cycling” city like Portland.”
— Rob Daray, lead witness in the case

On June 10th, Mr. Daray was riding his bicycle eastbound on SE Hawthorne Blvd just before 5:00 pm when he looked up and saw a gray Toyota Prius turn right onto SE 10th. The Prius, driven by Ellen Metz, collided with a woman on a bicycle who was traveling in the same direction. The woman on the bike was Carmen Piekarski a cartographer who works for the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. She was thrown from her bike and sustained serious road rash and is still in physical therapy for a shoulder injury.

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Portland Police Officer Dean Hedges cited Ms. Metz for violation of ORS 811.050 which states that: “A person commits the offense… if… the person does not yield the right of way to a person operating a bicycle… upon a bicycle lane.”

According to court documents which we’ve obtained, during the resulting traffic court trial, Ms. Metz admitted that she “made a last-minute decision to turn on 10th and did not check her blind spot prior to making the turn.” It seemed like an open-and-shut case. But when Mr. Daray, the lead witness in the case, received the final judgment in the mail yesterday he was shocked to learn that the judge found Ms. Metz not guilty and dismissed her ticket.

According to the official judgment written by Multnomah Country Circuit Court Judge Pro Tem Michael Zusman, the ruling came down to this: Was Ms. Piekarski “upon a bicycle lane” when the collision occurred?

Most intersections in Portland do
not have bike lane striping.
(Photo © J. Maus)

To find his answer, Zusman considered the “statutory construction” of the statute. For guidance he looked to ORS 811.060 which states [emphasis mine] “‘bicycle lane’ means that part of a highway, adjacent to the roadway, designated by official signs or markings…”

With that definition in mind, Zusman found that the collision did not occur “in the marked area comprising the bicycle lane.” His thinking was further bolstered by other Oregon statutes where he found that the, “Legislature generally accords significance to the presence of road markings in assessing the occurrence of various location-specific “rules of the road” violations.”

In the final chapter of Zusman’s judgment, he writes:

“Because Defendant’s alleged failure to yield to a bicyclist was in an unmarked portion of the roadway, a required element of the violation charged is absent and the Defendant cannot be adjudged liable for the violation.”

Mr. Daray was outraged (his wife Wendy wrote about the case on her blog). “This was such a cut and dry accident,” he said, “that it is shocking it was ruled this way in a “cycling” city like Portland.”

We checked in with three experienced lawyers to get their opinion. All three feel Judge Zusman has made an error in his interpretation of the law.

“For the judge to find that bike lanes don’t continue through the intersection, he’d have to find that car lanes don’t continue either.”
— Mark Ginsberg

Here’s the reaction from Mark Ginsberg, a partner in the Portland law firm Berkshire Ginsberg, LLC: “For the judge to find that bike lanes don’t continue through the intersection, he’d have to find that car lanes don’t continue either… We have statutes that say it’s illegal to change lanes in an intersection. I believe that lanes continue through intersections. The fact that the lane is not painted doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.” Ginsberg was also concerned at the message this ruling sends to police officers, who often make their citation decisions based on what they think will stick in court: “What does this tell the cop who goes through the trouble of finding the proper citation and then gets it overturned?”

“The court’s reasoning ignores the Legislature’s obvious intent to protect cyclists…”
— Bob Mionske

Bob Mionske, an author and legal columnist for Bicycling Magazine, told us “The court’s reasoning ignores the Legislature’s obvious intent to protect cyclists from drivers who are turning across the bike lane.” Mionske also pointed out that the Oregon Department of Transportation’s traffic manual “implies that bike lanes do indeed continue across the intersection.”

“Even if the judge feels the bike lane doesn’t exist in the intersection…she was still guilty of an illegal right turn.”
— Ray Thomas

Ray Thomas, who is on the legislative committee of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and is a partner in the law firm of Swanson, Thomas and Coon, said that he also disagrees with the judges ruling. “Even if the judge feels the bike lane doesn’t exist in the intersection, which I think is wrong, she [Ms. Metz] was still guilty of an illegal right turn.”

Thomas said the definition of a bike lane through an intersection is not clear enough in the ORS and he’d like to see it changed. He recommended that Piekarski file a citizen’s citation for the illegal right turn. However, since the collision occurred on June 10th, the six-month statute of limitations has just recently expired.

“It feels like adding insult to injury… She had to replace her hubcap, I had to replace my shoulder.”
— Carmen Piekarski

Wendy Daray, wife of lead witness Rob Daray wrote about the case on her blog yesterday. She said when her and her husband opened the mail and read the judgment it “…filled us with emotion. Confusion, frustration and anger are at the top of the list.”

“Why doesn’t the protection extend into the intersection?” Wendy wrote on her blog, “The ORS should be updated to provide better legal protection for cyclists who are hit by negligent or ignorant drivers. If “Every Corner is a Crosswalk” in Oregon, then every intersection should “Contain the Lane” for cyclists.”

Piekarski told us this morning that she was “surprised” at the judge’s ruling. “I was riding straight, not doing anything radical. If I’d been in an automobile, she would have been at fault.” With a shoulder that still “doesn’t work like it used to” Piekarski said this whole saga has been “really disheartening.”

“I didn’t want this to be hard. I didn’t want to be greedy. I just want to be well. It feels like adding insult to injury. She [the woman who hit Piekarski] was completely remorseless and completely lied in court [Metz claimed Piekarski hit her]. She had to replace her hubcap, I had to replace my shoulder.”

Since this was a traffic court trial, Piekarski could file a civil suit to recoup damages for her injuries. She told us she’s weighing her options. Regardless of whether or she decides to proceed, it seems clear that the definition of a bike lane must be clarified as soon as possible.

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Comments
  • Sean December 18, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Shameful!

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  • J.R. December 18, 2009 at 10:37 am

    I call BULLSHIT!

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  • amos December 18, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Unbelievable.

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  • Matthew December 18, 2009 at 10:44 am

    This is sickening and disheartening, but I’m confused.

    Ms. Metz admitted that she “made a last-minute decision to turn on 10th and did not check her blind spot prior to making the turn.”

    Okay, so the driver basically admitted she was in the wrong. But then at the end of the article, the woman who was hit is quoted as saying:

    She [the woman who hit Piekarski] was completely remorseless and completely lied in court.

    Which is it? Remorseless I could see, but it sounds like the driver admitted to her own carelessness, which hardly seems like a lie. Am I just spaced out and missing something? (it’s a possibility)

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  • Oh Word? December 18, 2009 at 10:46 am

    I feel bad for Pieskarski.

    Does this mean the city will paint stripes through intersections that have bike lanes?

    While they’re at it, they should paint crosswalks at every corner.

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  • MeghanH December 18, 2009 at 10:46 am

    So would “bike lane magically disappears at every single intersection in the city” be a legit reason to leave the bike lane according to state law now? This case is not giving me a lot of faith in bike lanes in general, considering I use this same one every morning…

    Yikes and double yikes.

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  • h. December 18, 2009 at 10:47 am

    So, by this logic, any car on bicycle accident occurring in an intersection is not a violation of the statute? Help me out here – I can’t think offhand of any bicycle lane I regularly use that actually continues through an intersection. Hell, I’m staring out my office windows at bike lanes on heavily trafficked streets that aren’t painted through the intersection.

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  • unotache December 18, 2009 at 10:48 am

    I know what I’ll be doing tonight…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19oo7Ejq9WI

    Who’s in?

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  • andy December 18, 2009 at 11:12 am

    What a load of crap.
    I’m sick and tired of watching motorists break the law, injure and kill, and not be held responsible in any way. I’m sick and tired of the police refuse to apply the laws. I’m sick and tired of toothless traffic laws with loopholes big enough to drive a semi-truck through (while the driver is eating a breakfast burrito and looking for his cell phone on the floor). I’m sick and tired of legislators who will not pass safety laws because they believe that the “right” to drive is more important than the right to live.

    This isn’t just a bike issue, or a pedestrian issue – it’s an issue for everyone, motorists included, who use the public right of way. It’s about people’s lives. 400 people die every year on the roads in Oregon. If people aren’t willing to drive responsibly, drive like lives are hanging in the balance, then they should not be on the road. Period. (The same applies to cyclists who ride recklessly around pedestrians.) You injure someone, and you are at fault, at the very least you should have your license suspended. If you kill someone, and you are at fault, at the very least you should have your license permanently revoked.

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  • John Lascurettes December 18, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Matthew, more than likely (as is common) the driver at the scene and to the police officer admitted to the “sudden” right turn, then changed her tune in court. Happens all the time. It’s why it’s important to record everything you see and hear at the accident as soon as you can; get corroboration from witnesses too.

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  • are December 18, 2009 at 11:21 am

    failure to yield to a bike in a bike lane was the wrong charge. failure to leave a safe passing distance, failure to keep a proper lookout, etc. might have stuck. this is what you get when you force bikes to the right.

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  • knitsy December 18, 2009 at 11:30 am

    note to self: I’m not legally protected in the intersection when I ride my bike. Are you f***ing kidding me?!

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  • Hart December 18, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Disbar this jerkwad.

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  • boriskat December 18, 2009 at 11:32 am

    What I’m wondering (pardon my naivete) is what happens if/when I get hit on a road that I’m biking on, that DOESN’T HAVE A BIKE LANE AT ALL? (Given the language: ORS 811.050, “Failure to yield to a rider on bicycle lane.”) I feel like this sets an incredibly dangerous precedent. Also, does this judge have some sort of anti-cyclist bias or what?

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  • suburban December 18, 2009 at 11:33 am

    With the statute of limitations over, is this a final ruling? Was the cyclist supposed to yield to a car who did not correctly indicate? Does anyone have any good news from traffic court re: bikes? I love me some litigious dialogue but this is just illogical.

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  • suburban December 18, 2009 at 11:33 am

    With the statute of limitations over, is this a final ruling? Was the cyclist supposed to yield to a car who did not correctly indicate? Does anyone have any good news from traffic court re: bikes? I love me some litigious dialogue but this is just illogical.

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  • justa December 18, 2009 at 11:34 am

    …seriously?

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  • Psyfalcon December 18, 2009 at 11:39 am

    #8.

    It should be a dashed line. There is an example oh Beaverton-Hillsdale at Bertha. That one is even in blue.

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  • Tacoma December 18, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Did we just move into the Twilight Zone?

    @ MeghanH #5,
    That what I am thinking. Since the bike lane “magically disappears” at every intersection, a person on a bike would need to move into the car lane (that “magically” continues to exist) at every intersection. That’s what I’m thinking.

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  • buzz December 18, 2009 at 11:51 am

    I don’t get this. Doesn’t a cop have to document when things like this happens so people do not go in and change the story? If so, why was that police report not brought in as evidence?

    I am dumbfounded and disheartened to read this!

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  • BlindJudge December 18, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Look at that pic of the intersection and tell me the lines of the left traffic lanes aren’t missing too. The painted lines are left out for an intersection as not to confuse intersecting streets that run perpendicular. It’s implied that the bike lane continues forth if there’s a corresponding bike line at the other end of the intersection. What’s a cyclist to do without an implied intersection bike lane? Is she supposed move left and take the whole lane entering the intersection then quickly jump back in to the bike lane at the end of the intersection? We need cyclists to wear giant signs on their backs stating “UNLAWFUL TO TURN RIGHT FORWARD OF CYCLIST” and mount video cameras on handlebars until the driving public overcomes this almost universal ignorance in bike lane traffic law.

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  • Logan December 18, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Jonathan,

    While I don’t agree with the judge’s ruling could we use this as precedent to get the city to paint bike-lanes on all intersections? That would preclude this judge and others from using this weird exemption in the future. At the very least if the city didn’t want to spend money on more paint they could petition a clarification to this law to address the issue. In other words can we work within the system on a number of fronts to address this issue?

    Cheers,

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  • velo December 18, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    So judge Zusman is clearly an idiot who doesn’t understand the law or what he is doing Fire the asshat. Judges work for the public and need to be accountable to the public. No reason for our tax dollars to support this kind of weak legal mind. What is the process to purge a judge?

    Does the judge get that ANY lane that is not stripped would result in some sort of crazy suspension of traffic laws if his logic stands? I mean, we can drive the wrong way, make crazy turns, etc all because there is no line at that moment. This is an outrage.

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  • Evan Manvel December 18, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Sounds like a perfect bill for the February session. The BTA should work with Jules Bailey, Michael Dembrow, or Jackie Dingfelder to take care of it.

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  • BURR December 18, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    deserves to be appealed.

    one more reason not to install bike lanes or cycle tracks or any bike specific infrastructure to the right of potential right turning motorists.

    I stopped using this bike lane several years ago, because of it’s substandard width, rude cyclists passing on the right, and the presence of dooring and right hook hazards. These days I prefer to cut over to SE Clay or Market on SE 6th or 7th, there are no hazardous bike lanes and a lot less traffic on the parallel streets.

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  • West Cougar December 18, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    These traffic court judges are absolute bozos.

    When dealing with fixed gears the strict wording of the law, which specifies precise criteria for stopping performance, has been explicitly ignored in lieu of the judge’s prerogative of what he thinks should be appropriate to the lowest quintile rider. Now when dealing with bike lanes another judge invents a totally new concept based on his strict reading of statute. Such inconsistency is ridiculous; that it shows a pattern of bias against cyclists is an outrage.

    Expecting the legislature to be able to fix these guy’s every muddle-headed whim is impossible. The problem is not the statutes or the legislature, the problem is the judges.

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  • Shetha December 18, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    If the marking ended then she should’ve been treated like a vehicle that was in the lane. The driver would still be at fault. The markings are a poor excuse for not protecting the victim, here. Also adding insult to injury… the Prius probably, in it’s electric eliteness, wasn’t making any noise and thus wasn’t as detectible by the victim. I hope that Mrs Piekarski feels better soon. I think she provides a good case here for the need to clarify the law!

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  • wsbob December 18, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Technically, on a strictly literal reading of the law, I suppose Judge Zusman is correct in his ruling, but is he really serving the public well, having made it as he did?

    The picture above with the caption:

    “A Portland judge has ruled that when
    bike lane striping vanishes, like in the
    intersection of SE 10th and Hawthorne, so
    does a rider’s legal protection.”

    That photo does depict the actual intersection where the collision occurred…doesn’t it? It clearly shows the bike lane markings leading up to the intersection and resuming on the other side of it. Common sense should be sufficient to inform most of the public that a bike lane so marked, continues through the intersection and doesn’t disappear simply because a painted line or other marking isn’t indicating that particular section of the bike lane. Especially when a person on a bicycle is actually riding there at the time another road user decides to make a turn in the direction of the person on the bike.

    A judge could just as easily have brought a ruling that interpreted the law as such, saving everybody, particularly the injured person, a lot of time, energy, and expense.

    By the way, here’s an interesting short biography about Judge Michael Zusman:

    Profi le – Michael C. Zusman
    Multnomah County Circuit Court Referee
    By Kathryn L. Villa-Smith, Gevurtz Menashe et al and Court Liaison Committee member

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) December 18, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Logan,

    Yes. We can and should work to address this issue. I agree with Mr. Manvel (former BTA ED btw) above that it might be something urgent enough to rectify in the special February 2010 session instead of waiting for 2011.

    All we need is to amend the ORS to state that when a bike lane drops through an intersection, people traveling in a bike lane still have the same legal protections afforded when the paint exists.

    Another issue that Ray Thomas mentioned to me is because PBOT currently paints some intersection bike lanes, it confuses issue and essentially implies that ones w/o paint are somehow different.

    Bottom line here is that — as we’ve experienced on countless other issues — the Oregon Vehicle Code and ORS is woefully inadequate in dealing with non-motorized traffic. It was created with cars in mind and bike advocates have had to chip away at that little by little.

    There are way too many grey areas right now and it’s simply not OK that those grey areas adversely impact our safety.

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  • ME 2 December 18, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    This story is emerging at an interesting time. I, like many others take N Tillamook down to the Rose Garden TC. A bike lane was recently painted just south of N Broadway. It curves around and ends at the intersection by the arena.

    Since it’s new, I’ve been self conscious that a car will come up behind me as I get funneled into the lane. This ruling just confirms my belief that I’m going to ignore the bike lane and take the traffic lane from now on.

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  • Schrauf December 18, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Pro Tem means this poor excuse for a judge is actually only an attorney, or else a lower court judge, substituting as a Circuit Court judge.

    Obviously he could use some more training. Appeal! I wish I was qualifed to help because I would gladly do so for free.

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  • Joe Rowe December 18, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Don’t get mad, get even, Judge Zusman is now on the watch of the bike community, and we will be digging into his past.

    It’s easy to file an appeal. There is no way are 3 judges in Salem will agree with this biased judge.

    Then file a Judical Complaint, which will make life difficult for the Judge.

    I won my appeal and had more than enough evidence about the Judge’s bias including his disregard for law and not allowing me to make closing statements by interupting me with “let me clue you in here”.

    I did not file a complaint because the judge had a decent overall record with the bike community. But I’m still watching him and now this Zusman.

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  • KJ December 18, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    @ME2
    that new bike line is way too narrow especially for the angle of the curve when it starts…it’s alreay full of gravel from allllll that ice we had..=/
    I take the lane still too.

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  • PDXCyclist December 18, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    #5/#19 I read it as meaning you’ll either need to take the lane at each intersetion or get off your bike and walk it through the intersection.

    Sounds like a fun ride.

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  • jim December 18, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    maybe bikes should take the lane in intersections rather than passing turning cars

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  • BURR December 18, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Schrauf #31 is exactly correct – Pro Tem Judges are not real judges

    again – appeal, appeal appeal!

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  • jim December 18, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    they won’t even paint a white stop line on the side street where the stop sign is, or a crosswalk. (see on the st. at the rt in pict.)

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  • Carter Kennedy December 18, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    So this means that at the point where the bike lane stripe ends, the bike and car lanes merge, and then, thirty feet later, they re-separate. Bikes going 10 MPH and cars going 30 MPH merge like this every 200 feet.

    It is so obvious now!

    Thanks for clearing that up for us, Judge.

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  • peejay December 18, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Not sure you can appeal a dismissal of a charge; only a conviction. It violates the prohibition against double jeopardy. However, a nice civil suit would be in order. Interesting that the police at least tried to do the right thing. But I do believe that it underscores the utter inadequacy of our traffic law.

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  • Anonymous December 18, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    No protection as provided by the legality of the bike lane, but once the bike lane ends isn’t the bicycle just another vehicle using the same lane as the car, in which case the car was passing illegally and making a right turn illegally.

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  • John Lascurettes December 18, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    To people calling for an appeal: can that be done? Didn’t the judge already rule the defendant innocent by his ruling? I thought the prosecuting side could not appeal an innocent ruling and that only a defendant found guilty could appeal a ruling. Was this not a criminal case?

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  • Lazy Spinner December 18, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Jim @ #35 has it right! That is just good old fashioned defensive riding. The kind smart vehicular cyclists have utilized for many years. Never assume that the driver uses their mirrors or has any clue that you are there. It’s called self-preservation. But I keep forgetting, we want more mindless Nu-Freds pedaling about town without a care in the world blissfully reinforcing our super bikey PDX vibe. Common sense and personal responsibility must be sacrificed for 25% mode share!

    Bike lanes are crap! They force riders to make the dumbest move on the roadway – passing on the right. Sharrows on the other hand make bikes fully recognized traffic and legally force both cars and bikes to observe the same rules of the road namely, whomever is ahead in the lane has the right of way. Hitting a bike or car from behind is your fault.

    Scream and throw tantrums! Write your legislators! Hire a private investigator to find dirt on a pro tem judge! That might get a law passed and some lines painted in about 2-4 years. Guess what? Someone will still get hurt or killed in a right hook caused by careless driving or equally careless riding. The only difference is that a few blog posters will get their thirst for self-righteousness satiated. The driver will get the standard $242 fine.

    Justice!

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  • Dan December 18, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    she “made a last-minute decision to turn” (?) Don’t you have to signal for like at least 70 feet or something first?

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  • rrandom rider December 18, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I’m not a lawyer and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but it seems to me that the law is clear and that the judge simply mis-interpreted it. I don’t know if any legislative action is needed and, by putting such specific wording in one area of the code could lessen implied protections in others.

    IMO, this is best resolved with a higher court overturning this ruling and explaining that vehicle lanes, including bike lines, do persist through an intersection. My biggest concern over this is that, as is mentioned in the article, it could affect how police react to such accidents in the field. If they hear about this ruling and nothing more, they are less likely to issue a citation in such cases. Lack of a citation makes insurance claims and civil actions more difficult, which could make it harder to receive just compensation if necessary.

    The more I think about this the more it ticks me off that one individual (the judge) can do such a lousy job in this one instance and wind up having a negative effect on lots of other folks.

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  • kgb December 18, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Judge Pro Tem Michael Zusman is an effing idiot.

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  • Shoemaker December 18, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I think the problem here was the wrong citation. Can someone tell me if the judge has the discretion to correct this?

    As Ray Thomas mentioned in the story, the driver was guilty of an illegal right turn. See:
    http://animatedtrafficlaw.org/ror/index.php/Oregon:Q3

    811.335 Unlawful or unsignaled turn; penalty.
    (1) A person commits the offense of making an unlawful or unsignaled turn if the person is operating a vehicle upon a highway and the person turns the vehicle right or left when:
    (a) The movement cannot be made with reasonable safety;

    In addition, the driver should be cited for careless driving.
    811.135 Careless driving.
    (1) A person commits the offense of careless driving if the person drives any vehicle upon a highway or other premises described in this section in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.

    If the citation was failure to yield to a bike in the bike lane, and there was no bike lane, I’m not sure the judge can say, “That doesn’t apply, but these certainly do so *I’m citing you for…*

    Can someone weigh in on that?

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  • OUTRAGEDDDDDDDDD December 18, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Let’s organize a protest and demonstrate. Who’s with me? What channel are we gonna call to cover us since we’re all OUTRAGEDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!

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  • kevin December 18, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Why don’t they just call it “legal hit and run” any motorist will be looking to see if there are painted lines or lack there of. I think the city needs to make the dashed lane intersection for the sake of all cyclists out there, if this kind of judgment is going to exist.

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  • Red Dawn December 18, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    I realize there are a lot of different groups of bikers in Portland, and not one big “cycling community”, but you vehicular cycling advocates are coming off as mean and condescending. “mindless Nu-Freds”? thats just childish. I would love to believe that cars would be cool just to follow a couple of lazy spinners going up Hawthorne in each lane traveling at 12mph, but something tells me nothing short of chaos would ensue. Do you really cruise up Hawthorne as part of traffic, pinning it at 24.5 MPH? If so, I am humbled and impessed.

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  • spare_wheel December 18, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    “Judge Pro Tem Michael Zusman is an effing idiot.”

    Gotta agree.

    This is the same judge who failed to disclose that he is part owner of restaurant (Kenny and Zukes) in his *payed* food reviews for the Oregonian. This is a direct violocation of policy at the Oregonian.

    In my interactions with him he has come across as a libertarian-leaning nutjob. He has mocked vegetarians/sustainability so it would not surprise me to learn that he is anti-bike.

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  • rixtir December 18, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    #31 is right. Pro Tem Judges are not regular Judges; they are attorneys serving a need for Judges that would otherwise go unfilled. So in that sense, they’re performing a public service. There are upsides and downsides to that.

    One upside is that your case is being heard by somebody with an understanding of basic legal principles. In some states, cases are heard by people with no legal training whatsoever. So from that perspective, having a Judge Pro Tem hear your case is by far the preferable way to try a traffic case.

    The downside is they’re not necessarily well-versed in traffic law. Therefore, when you’re in court, your job will be to persuasively and authoritatively educate the Jude on what the law is (and by the way, the other side has the same task). The limiting factor you have to deal with is that traffic courts have a lot of cases to try, and therefore they have limited time and patience for long, drawn-out trials. You have to marshal your facts, and the law, and present your best arguments in a short amount of time. And sometimes the court will get it wrong.

    Even if the court does get the law wrong, the ruling has no precedential value, so another Judge Pro Tem hearing an identical case could decide the law correctly.

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  • Andrea December 18, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Let’s hope this guy never makes it onto the bench permanently. What a tool.

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  • Mr Smith December 18, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    @Shoemaker (and “are” mentioned it too)

    As much as I hate to say it, is it possible that the judge could do nothing else but find the driver “not guilty” because it was the wrong charge. If that is the case, like Shoemaker, I would want to know if there are other options for recourse at this point?

    @andy, +1

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  • Paul Johnson December 18, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    This should go back on appeal for sure. Lanes extend through intersections according to the MUTCD. The judge is wrong on this case and an appeal would be a swish.

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  • Burk December 18, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Seriously?

    This Zusman guy actually came to this conclusion? I’m kind of speechless here….

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  • Tacoma December 18, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I agree with Red Dawn that “the vehicular cycling advocates” frequently come off as condescending, though frankly, I’m surprised that the term “vehicular cyclist (or cycling)” didn’t come up before comment #42. I was hoping we could discuss the article without getting into the whole VC thing. Maybe we still can.

    Full disclosure: I am a vehicular cyclist (though not necessarily an advocate).

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  • Eric In Seattle December 18, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I hope the bicyclist appeals, as this ruling sounds incorrect to me. Still, even if the driver is found to be legally at fault, in my experience it is almost never a good idea to pass on the right. Not trying to blame the victim or anything, but even when we’re not legally to blame, we always lose in a collision with a car. While drivers *should* always check to see if that bicyclist they just passed is coming up along side when they are turning, I for one, never bet on it. The test should never be “can I do this?” or “is this legal?”, but always “is this a good idea?” Quite often something is possible and/or legal, but unnecessarily dangerous.

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  • Chris Winter December 18, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Personally attacking Zusman or judges generally is not going to improve the situation. In fact, its likely to do just the opposite.

    Take it up with the legislature. Another option – educate local judges through CLEs or trainings on bicycle laws and safety issues.

    And for Rob Daray – file a civil suit. A civil proceeding is a much better form of enforcement in this situation than a traffic ticket.

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  • buzz December 18, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Dan #43: You are required to signal 100 feet before you are going to turn or changes. Considering the blocks here are two hundred feet long, that is half a block someone needs to signal. Plenty of time for me to react on my bike.

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  • oliver December 18, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    To imply that lanes cease to exist in an intersection simply becuase the painted lines end at the crosswalk is preposterous.

    So every 200 feet we go from orderly, law-controlled, predictablity to abject chaos?

    Painted lines won’t last 3 weeks in an intersection because of the friction of vehicle tires. Do bike lanes end in those curves in the roads where cars have worn them away?

    Does anyone expect that the insurance industry would buy this for one second if such a judgment goes against them?

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  • tonyt December 18, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    What Oliver said.

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  • Tacoma December 18, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    I agree, Eric in Seattle, that the whole “passing on the right” situation takes caution. In this situation though (and I think you get this) the cyclist was not passing on the right. The car driver had passed by to her left and then turned to the right (in front of her) without giving enough clearance or warning. The cyclist was not making any kind of “dangerous” maneuver so I don’t see how your comment applies here other than as a PSA about how cyclists should “be careful”.

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  • anonymous coward December 18, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    I suspect that Michael Zusman is indeed an anti-bike curmudgeon, and he allowed that bias to influence his ruling in this case. He posts as “Mczlaw” on the portlandfood.org website and his posts sometimes give evidence of a rather unpleasant personality.

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  • El Biciclero December 18, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    “maybe bikes should take the lane in intersections rather than passing turning cars”

    The problem isn’t “passing turning cars”, the problem is passing cars turning. It’s classic: driver comes up from behind and–thinking they have left a cyclist far behind–proceeds to turn even though the cyclist is still right next to them.

    As much as I might like to take the lane at every intersection, would this be any better than “taking the crosswalk” at every intersection? Or weaving between parked cars in an attempt to “stay as far to the right as practicable”? Seems like it could be interpreted as more “unpredictable weaving in and out of traffic” that so many drivers already complain about. Also, should I be expected to attempt to leave the bike lane and merge into 45-50 mph auto traffic such as exists along my daily commute route?

    “Bike lanes are crap! They force riders to make the dumbest move on the roadway – passing on the right. Sharrows on the other hand make bikes fully recognized traffic and legally force both cars and bikes to observe the same rules of the road namely, whomever is ahead in the lane has the right of way. Hitting a bike or car from behind is your fault.”

    Bike lanes may be “crap”, but they are lanes. Any time a driver wants to change lanes, they must check that the space they want to occupy is empty. This includes those times when a driver wants to cross over the bike lane to make a turn or park their vehicle. I would argue that having a bike lane makes bikes as much “legitimate traffic” as any other traffic marking–the problem is that for some reason, drivers don’t apply the same lane-changing rules to bike lanes as they do to other kinds of lanes. I’d be careful with the “whoever is ahead has the right-of-way” idea. If that is misinterpreted, then it legitimizes the pass-’n’-turn I described above, which is definitely not legal.

    Regardless of what the best lane markings may be, this judge is wrong.

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  • Alan December 18, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Mark Ginsberg says, “We have statutes that say it’s illegal to change lanes in an intersection.” Can anyone cite such statutes? I’m pretty sure they don’t exist in Washington, not sure about Oregon but don’t think so. I’ve googled a bit haven’t found such laws. Anyway, this particular decision is asinine, IMO.

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  • Tacoma December 18, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    What El Biciclero (eloquently) said.

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  • danceralamode December 18, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    #57 Eric in Seattle,

    I totally agree with you, but sometimes a car passes you so quickly and closely that they right hook you before you can do anything about it. If you ride to the right of the lane, they don’t take the time to fully pass you, and therefore slam into you while turning because they couldn’t be bothered to wait the two seconds for you to clear the intersection, then they can turn behind you. They just try and pass you anyways, even when there is not enough room.

    However, it sounds as if the cyclist was in a bicycle lane, which means she was not PASSING on the right of the vehicle, she was riding legally forward in her lane, while a car recklessly crossed traffic to turn in front of her.

    But I do agree with you, we have to be extra vigilant in watching out for the vehicles around us.

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  • [...] Portland, OR and the magically disappearing bike lanes. [...]

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  • Chris December 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Think I will be skipping Kenny and Zuke’s from now on.

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  • tbird December 18, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    A big part of the problem is that MOST bike lane/infrastructure in the US (including PDX) is poorly thought out and even more poorly implemented. It is ALL based on the car first criteria, and nothing else. This ruling only further enforces that mentality.

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  • Paul Johnson December 18, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    @Eric #57:

    By the sounds of it (I haven’t read the police report), the cyclist wasn’t intending to pass on the right, the motorist happened to be immediately left of the cyclist already in the intersection when she decided to turn through pre-existing traffic (the cyclist).

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  • Paul Johnson December 18, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    @Eric #57:

    By the sounds of it (I haven’t read the police report), the cyclist wasn’t intending to pass on the right, the motorist happened to be immediately left of the cyclist already in the intersection when she decided to turn through pre-existing traffic (the cyclist). Someone with expert knowledge of the MUTCD could reasonably argue that any situation with a through restricted lane as the curb lane automatically prohibits all right turns except those who are permitted in the curb lane (ie, if there’s no right turn lane right of a bus or bike lane, then right turns aren’t allowed at that location).

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  • Paul Johnson December 18, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I wonder why textured buttons and reflectors are generally absent from bicycle lane lines. Making these lines more visible at night, and making annoying rumbling sounds when crossed, would go a long way in making drivers more aware that they’re drifting into another lane.

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  • El Biciclero December 18, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    “I wonder why textured buttons and reflectors are generally absent from bicycle lane lines. Making these lines more visible at night, and making annoying rumbling sounds when crossed, would go a long way in making drivers more aware that they’re drifting into another lane.”

    Probably because for “bike lanes” like the ones I am stuck with in my area, I am often forced to ride near or on the line due to parked cars, storm drains, or other hazards, and turtle bumps would kill me.

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  • Paul Johnson December 18, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    El Biciclero #74:

    If you can’t safely negotiate one of these lines on a bicycle, I question your ability to ride on city streets in a safe fashion.

    http://www.contrafedpublishing.co.nz/site/contrafed/images/Features/Rumble.jpg

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  • matt picio December 18, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    My question is, what can we as citizens do to censure or remove the Hon. Michael Zusman? This is a man who in my opinion should not be allowed to adjudicate traffic court.

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  • bobcycle December 18, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    3 recent articles on bikeportland point out an interesting trend. bike ridership is down??? Judge says you are not protected in bike lanes??? Read many advice offers for the woman who was hit. Much of the advice is from people who have been hit by cars already! Headline: Is biking in PDX Plat City only for the brave and experienced???

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  • rixtir December 18, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Matt, #76

    I think Chris Winter, #58, hit the nail on the head. The key to getting appropriate results in traffic court is education of the Judges.

    The problem is you will always have the potential for weird rulings, because, for example, until now nobody would have ever thought to include “through bike lanes” into the curriculum.

    And even if you do present a comprehensive curriculum, you can’t order a Jude Pro Tem with a differing opinion to interpret the law the way you believe it should be interpreted. Only a higher court can do that.

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  • Fliptasaurus December 18, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Intersections are like Vietnam mann! NO RULES! Party in the intersection. Yeah!

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  • Anonymous December 18, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    What do We ALL do now?

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  • Chris December 18, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    I say it’s time we all take the lane! Is there a “Take the Lane Day”? If not, there should be.

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  • kernel December 18, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Zusman must want off the bench, that’s my best guess. He’s not gonna hear the end of this decision for a long time, either way.

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  • kernel December 18, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    i’d like to make a motion to find Michael Zusman guilty of poor judgement and offer that his punishment be turning in his keys and riding his bicycle in Portland for a week or two.

    Can i get a second?

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  • I Like Your New Haircut December 18, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Why don’t we just extend the lines? Remember these guys? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19oo7Ejq9WI

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  • Paul Johnson December 18, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Umm, every day is “Take the Lane Day.” It’s not just a good idea, it’s ORS 811.

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  • I Like Your New Haircut December 18, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    In case you wanted to contact information:

    Michael C Zusman
    Phone 503 988-5474
    Fax 503 988-3425
    Email michael.c.zusman@ojd.state.or.us

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  • Donna December 18, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    So the law forces us to use a bike lane if one exists, but if a car turns into us, no law is broken because there is no bike lane in an intersection?

    That’s a set-up that simply takes my breath away.

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  • BURR December 18, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    catch-22

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  • Anonymous December 18, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that bicyclists passing cars on the right is an unsafe practice and should be illegal, even in the bicycle lane. Passing on the right in general is unsafe. I cringe when I see cars doing it to semis on the freeway and I hold my breath when I see cyclists doing it around Portland. If a car is in front of a bicycle, puts on its blinker to turn right, bicycle traffic should slow, just as cars in the regular traffic lane have to. Otherwise, the bike lane should be in a safer position to the left of regular traffic where they are more visible. I am prepared to be jumped all over for this, but I feel that in the grand effort to increase cyclists road-rights, the share in share the road was lost. I agree that the driver in this case was at fault, but her crime was not putting her blinker on soon enough in my opinion. deciding at the last minute to turn without checking all blindspots is also very unsafe. She should have been charged for that and she would have been found guilty.

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  • are December 18, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    judge zusman’s decision is technically correct, and it has no bearing at all on whether ms. piekarski can recover damages from ms. metz for injuries caused by ms. metz’ negligence.

    again, the police charged the wrong violation, and there are others that might have stuck, but except for putting points on ms. metz’ license, what does any of that really matter.

    what matters is this:

    1. the city has striped these lanes in a way that tells bicyclists to ride inside the right hook.

    2. the stripes give bicyclists and motorists wrong information about where bicyclists should be.

    3. this misinformation is given the force of law by the far to right and mandatory sidepath statutes.

    when approaching an intersection, a bicyclist should never be inside the right hook, regardless whether the motorist has indicated a turn. if the cyclist asserts the travel lane, this is not an issue.

    a bike lane should not be striped solid up to the intersection, and a motorist turning right should be permitted to merge across, rather than waiting to make a hook at the intersection itself.

    the facilities people talk about how engineering and design can shape behavior, and this is certainly true, but this particular facility, which is common throughout the city, shapes exactly the behavior we see here: the bicyclist inside the right hook and the motorist turning across. yes, the motorist should have signaled (though if you are riding alongside, you will not see the signal), and yes she should have done a head check, etc., and her failure to do these things are what she should have been ticketed for.

    but the situation was created by the design of the facility.

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  • Paul Johnson December 18, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    What if we don’t want to contact Judge Zusman, but rather his supervisor?

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  • wsbob December 18, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Did anyone of bikeportland’s staff make an effort to contact Judge Zusman for comments about his reasoning in this case? Maybe there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in the hot country that he’d a been prepared to offer any, but at least giving him a respectful opportunity to do so seems like the right thing.

    I’ve never met him, but based on the short profile of him that I read, I’m not going to assume just because of this ruling, that he’s a bike hater or an elitist or some such thing. The guy’s a third-generation Portland resident. He knows how to cook, has hung out at and sold bagels at Saturday Market, so he probably is familiar with the kinds of people that go there. If he doesn’t have some positive sense of humanity from those experiences, I’ll be surprised.

    I’d like to know whether his idea of ‘clearly marked’ really means that bike lanes needs to be marked continuously through intersections on streets with bike lanes in order to adequately convey to motor vehicle operators that bike lanes do in fact exist there. I wonder what changes Zusman thinks his ruling in this case might bring to laws relating to bikes and motor vehicles on the road together.

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  • drew December 18, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Shoemakers comment #46 is illustrates what needs to be focused on. Splitting hairs about the painted line concept is pointless and diverts attention away from what is important here. When a person makes an unsafe or careless turn causing injury, that is a violation for which a citation must be written. I certainly hope the victim is compensated for her injuries.

    And all this judge can think about is paint (or lack of it) on asphalt?

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  • K'Tesh December 18, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    I can’t be the only one who would like to see this judge removed from the bench because of this.

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  • are December 18, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    incidentally, another catch-22. if the prosecutor charges one thing and you think some other or additional offense should be charged, 153.058, the citizen initiated complaint statute, will not help you. the court will dismiss your complaint under subsection (6) if the prosecutor has charged something arising from the same conduct. so in effect, the prosecutor ran out the clock on this one. people hating on judge zusman here are looking in the wrong direction.

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  • Joe Rowe December 18, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Every day is take the lane day!!!

    Hell yes. It is just too dangerous otherwise. I love all the reader comments. Keep this up. I wonder what other juicy food bits will surface on Judge Z.

    I sent email to Judge Z asking if he would meet for a dialog.

    PS: Here is the complaint form
    http://courts.oregon.gov/CJFD/docs/040105RevisedComplaintForm.pdf

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  • jim December 19, 2009 at 1:52 am

    I think the driver would have been found guilty if the proper charges had been pressed. She got lucky with the judges interpritation of the charge she had.
    Personally I wish the drivers test were a lot more inclusive and harder. Any idiot can get an ODL. It is a privelage and not a right, I think those privies should be revoked more often. There is no “right to drive”.

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  • BURR December 19, 2009 at 2:11 am

    @ Anonymous #89 – I completely agree that these designs are stupid and dangerous, or stupidly dangerous as it were.

    The City of Portland Transportation Bureau actively encourages motorists to turn right across the bike lane with the design of facilities such as the bike lane on Hawthorne and other cyclist specific infrastructure like the buffered bike lanes recently installed on SW Stark and SW Oak and the proposed new cycle tracks described in the new master plan.

    I recently noticed that the brand new full-lane width buffered bike lane on SW Oak is marked in such a way that motorists are supposed to turn right from the left lane across the bike lane rather than merging into the right lane first prior to making their turn, which is patently absurd and completely unsafe.

    The people at PDOT that need to be engaged in a discussion of why these dangerous bikeway designs continue to be used are Mark Lear and Greg Raisman, who work in traffic safety and ostensibly are the city’s ‘bike safety experts’, yet inexplicably spend their time continuing to design and construct unsafe bikeways which place through cyclists to the right of right turning traffic.

    These designs are all exactly the same as the bike lane designs that got Tracy Sparling and Brett Jarolimek killed in 2007, and yet the city still has not modified the existing bike lanes throughout the city in any significant way to improve their safety and continues to use these unsafe designs for new and proposed bikeways.

    It seems to me that PBOT has a huge amount of liability here, and someone like the victim in this crash might actually be better off suing the city rather than the motorist that hit them in this case.

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  • Atbman December 19, 2009 at 3:12 am

    Wsbob’s web reference (no.28) includes an interesting announcement on p4 (2nd one down on RH side of page). Apparently. the Multnomah Bar Association has regular bike rides (sic). Perhaps someone could contact the ride organiser (phone no. given) for his comments?

    By the way, since the double jeopardy rule forbids a re-trial, doesn’t the US have a process of “judicial review”, whereby the reasoning behind a judge’s decision can be looked at?

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  • Raief December 19, 2009 at 3:46 am

    What a strange outcome. Has anyone asked if the Judge rides a bike, ever, or if anyone in his immediate family does?
    There are countries where cyclists have more rights than motorists. But this interpretation of law is the complete opposite and an insult to everyone including people who do not cycle.
    The law should not be left to interpretation and this should become a statewide effort.

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  • common sense December 19, 2009 at 8:00 am

    NO, NO, NO,

    The judge ruled that the bike lane doesn’t continue through the intersection! This defies logic and common sense. If you allow that the the driver was simply cited for the wrong offense you are letting the judge off way too easily. Make him defend his position that lanes don’t exist in an intersection.

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  • bobcycle December 19, 2009 at 8:35 am

    #92 WSBOB maybe on to something… It is vaguely possible the judge saw a weakness in bikelane laws and was trying to “force” the issue??? Have any of our many bike lawyers weighed in on this? Meanwhile 2 articles on BikeP have cited accidents that could be avoided if you follow the advice given in Hurst book “The Art of Urban Cycling” A back cover quote sums it up… “Cyclists today are left to navigate like rats in a sewer, through a hard and unsympathetic world not made for them. Yet, with proper attitude… cyclists can thrive….”

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  • chasingbackon December 19, 2009 at 9:46 am

    This proves yet again cyclists and pedestrians, are second class citizens in the car centric Amerika and you take your life in your hands every time you saddle up. Ride 110% defensively and take the lane when you need to.

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  • are December 19, 2009 at 10:50 am

    how the so-called justice system works is, you can’t charge someone with one thing and then convict her of another. we think you did “something wrong” and you have to guess what. the facts here would have supported failing to signal a turn (maybe) and failing to keep a proper lookout (which the motorist admitted), and these should have been charged. then you would have seen the same memo from the judge explaining why the third charge, failing to yield to a cyclist in a bike lane, would not stick, but you would have had a conviction on one or both of the other charges. the failure here is on the part of the prosecutor. be careful what you ask for here, incidentally. if you get a change in the law that says the bike lane extends unmarked through the intersection, and we still have the mandatory sidepath law, then you will be forbidden to do the safe thing, which is to get into the travel lane. and guess what? you will still get right hooked. okay, the motorist will be “wrong,” but you will still be injured or killed. it is up to each of us to watch out for our own safety. properly designed facilities can help, but poorly designed facilities can only make things worse.

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  • John Lascurettes December 19, 2009 at 11:14 am

    @Burr

    I recently noticed that the brand new full-lane width buffered bike lane on SW Oak is marked in such a way that motorists are supposed to turn right from the left lane across the bike lane rather than merging into the right lane first prior to making their turn, which is patently absurd and completely unsafe.

    Sorry to nitpick, but not true. On Oak and Stark’s buffered lanes there is a section of bike lane that is dotted, not solid, and painted green. This is a merge zone where the cars are supposed to cross completely over the lane in a merging fashion, not turning, before reaching the intersection and turn right in a dedicated right turn lane – not that I’ve seen very many cars execute this maneuver correctly (I can see about 3 blocks of lane on Stark from my office).

    It’s still true that it’s ODOT and ORS policy that cars are, in general supposed to turn right across a bike lane, which in my book is just insane. California’s rule of requiring a merge into the bike lane (after signaling and yielding) makes much more safety and awareness sense for everyone.

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  • Paul December 19, 2009 at 11:56 am

    We need to redesign our cities, with autos as 3rd class transport in mind. They’re simply unnecessary for 99% of trips in a city. Wow, drive a car and get physical AND legal protection. Nice.

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  • BURR December 19, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    @ John #105 – look again, on SW Oak there are dual straight/right turn arrows painted on the pavement at intersections in the center of the left lane.

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  • spare_wheel December 19, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    “He knows how to cook, has hung out at and sold bagels at Saturday Market, so he probably is familiar with the kinds of people that go there.”

    I don’t think selling bagels or his personal history have any bearing on whether he is an anti-bike judge.

    Zusman has mocked sustainability and environmentalism on multiple occasions. Based on my unpleasant interactions with him I believe it possible that his decision was influenced by personal prejudice. A healthy democracy requires criticism of public figures by concerned citizens. Zusman has injected himself into the political arena and based on my experience of the man I’m sure he knew exactly what he was doing.

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  • spare_wheel December 19, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    “He knows how to cook, has hung out at and sold bagels at Saturday Market, so he probably is familiar with the kinds of people that go there.”

    I don’t think selling bagels or his personal history have any bearing on whether he is an anti-bike judge.

    Zusman has mocked sustainability and environmentalism on multiple occasions. Based on my interactions with him I believe its possible (even likely) that his decision was influenced by personal prejudice.

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  • BURR December 19, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    @ John #105 again – I just did some field recon. Two intersections where right turns are allowed, SW Oak @ 4th and SW Stark @ 11th, are marked the way I descibed in post #107; three or four intersections where right turns are allowed, including SW Stark @ Broadway and SW Stark @ 3rd, are marked the way you described in post #105; the rest of the intersections where right turns are allowed are not marked in either fashion, but at these unmarked intersections the solid bike lane strip continues all the way to the stop line/crosswalk, so my presumption is that the latter method of turning right – that is, from the left lane – is expected of motorists at the unmarked intersections where right turns are allowed.

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  • Timothy Daniels December 19, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Does anybody know if they checked the cell phone records of the idiot driver? Next time I get hit, that’s the first thing I’m going to ask be checked if I’m still alive. Hopefully, if I’m not, at least my friends and family have the good sense to check. Nothing infuriates me more than to have a close call with a driver who has their phone glued to their fookin ear. Shoot them all…

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  • BURR December 19, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    I’ll add that I was almost right-hooked at one point on SW Stark, at one of the unmarked intersections where two motorists were attempting to turn right across the bike path from the left lane.

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  • rixtir December 19, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    What Paul, #106, said.

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  • Lazy Spinner December 19, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Kudos to are for using facts and the law in his well reasoned posts.

    As for many of you, the collective lack of knowledge and the outright stupid anger displayed is astounding. I’ll agree that it is awful that a cyclist was injured in such a fashion and that the wrong charge was levied against the driver leading to this decision. But that is all I have in common with the majority of posters here.

    Dumb conspiracy theories drawn from speculative thinking based on Zusman’s food writings (WTF?)and the usual “let’s lynch the driver!!!” rants show the collective immaturity and dangerous ignorance of Portland’s cyclo-activists (because not all who ride are angry, self pitying martyrs – many of us actually have real passion for simply riding bikes). You guys are sounding more and more like the Tea Baggers or a crazy rambling Glenn Beck monologue for crying out loud! (Joe Rowe – good luck with your Birther styled investigation into Judge Zusman’s “manifestos” on food and how that proves his anti-cycling bias.)

    Thank goodness we are a nation of laws. Imperfect and often too complex but nevertheless a mostly fair system. Again, I’m very displeased that Ms. Metz was not charged properly but the victim can still seek justice in the civil courts. Zusman’s decision was tecnically correct – deal with it! Want to do something constructive? Demand that PPB to train its officers better and that PBOT designs better bike infrastructure. That is where your anger and activism needs to be directed rather than some easily dismissed and laughably Quixotic attempt to get this judge removed from the bench.

    Although not directly related to this incident, jim (#97) makes a great point that any idiot can obtain an ODL. I’ll reply by stating that at least drivers must pass a written exam (easy as it is) with questions regarding road laws. Cycling? Any idiot can purchase a bike and ride on the public roadways without any clue as to what to do. I contend that most riders are no better nor any wiser than the drivers they continually villify. Smugness is no substitute for knowledge or common sense.

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  • wsbob December 19, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    “Zusman has mocked sustainability and environmentalism on multiple occasions. Based on my unpleasant interactions with him I believe it possible that his decision was influenced by personal prejudice.” spare_wheel #109

    Tell us about it spare_wheel. Give us actual examples. Explain to us why, aside from this one particular case dismissal, you think there’s good reason to believe Zusman may be an “… an anti-bike judge.”, and that “…its possible (even likely) that his decision was influenced by personal prejudice.”

    Insinuation directed this way towards Judge Zusman isn’t helping anyone understand some of the less obvious reasons he might have had for deciding the way he did.

    This decision by Zusman sounds like something Willamette Week or the Mercury would look into; (did Zusman have some kind of connection between either of the two parties involved in the collision?). WW has got that ‘Rogue of the Week’ column to provide material for.

    If, after looking at some actual facts behind Judge Zusman’s decision, it turns out his motivation really stinks, Zusman may very well wind up in that column. That would be kind of funny(maybe even unlikely to happen if they’re related) since the last name of the publisher of that paper is also a ‘Zusman’.

    One think that can be said about WW, is that when some controversial development surrounding an individual pops up, that paper usually attempts to contact the person and offer them an opportunity to comment for the record about the issues discussed in the story the paper prepares to publish. Still no word from the bikeportaland staff about whether any of them offered such an opportunity to Judge Michael Zusman.

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  • D. Ranew December 19, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    I was right-hooked going west on Beaverton-Hillsdale HWY where the lanes all of a sudden disappear through the intersection at Dosch. The driver didn’t even notice I ran into her rear bumper. I’m thinking about buying a cloak that makes me invincible, that repels cars and then slows them to only five miles per hour rendering them useless. My point is my cloak statement is as outlandish as the judges verdict.

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  • Pat Franz December 19, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    For someone to come to this conclusion that so defies common sense means either one of two things: Incompetence or clear bias. Neither are acceptable in a judge.

    By the same logic, a speed limit sign is only in effect for the thickness of the sign. Since all lanes disappear unless painted, it’s OK to pass where a double yellow breaks at an intersection. This is nonsense. Everyone knows what the intent of the discontinuous lane marking is.

    That this judge would make such a strained interpretation otherwise is very curious indeed.

    Here’s an interesting, related question: are there any *signs* indicating a bike lane along there? I don’t go that way very often and can’t recall if there are any.

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  • John Lascurettes December 19, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    @Burr. Thanks for the due diligence.

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  • Giant Hogweed December 19, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Rob Daray, h. #7, John Lascurettes, rrandom rider, bobcycle:

    Repeat after me: Crash.

    Accident: didn’t make it to the bathroom in time.

    Crash: driver hits cyclist, should be held accountable, isn’t because crashes are viewed as unavoidable accidents, just part of the collateral damage of the car culture.

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  • chrehn December 19, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    What a bunch of cr@p! The decision of the “judge” makes it sound like the City of Portland is at fault for not maintaining the traffic lanes.

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  • Pete December 19, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Another tool (besides the judge) is ORS 811.400 – Failure to use appropriate signal for turn. If you are witness to an event like this and the vehicle’s driver did not signal the turn, make sure you remind the officer at the scene of ORS 811.335 and .400.

    Dan (#43): signaling a lane change is 100 feet, not sure about a right or left turn.

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  • Eileen December 20, 2009 at 12:47 am

    I do think that this driver made an extreme error in judgment in that she turned at the last minute without warning to the vehicles behind her. That being said, I think it should be illegal for ANY vehicle to pass another on the right. I think that it would be much safer if cyclists viewed the bicycle lane as an extension of the rightmost lane for cars and when a vehicle in front of them is slowing, they should slow also – especially in heavy traffic areas when cars make lots of right turns. Any bicyclist who is too impatient for that should be allowed to ride in the lane of traffic where they are more visible. Everytime we hear a story about another cyclist who is right-hooked, there is an outcry of how horrible cars are and why won’t they follow the rules. But with anything, you have to factor in user error – even when the light is green, I look both ways at intersections, etc. It’s called defensive driving, I learned that in high school. I think that instead of focusing on getting drivers to change their evil ways, you should consider that most drivers really DON’T want to kill you, and instead focus on crafting laws that emphasize making cyclists more visible. How about bike lanes to the left of the car lanes for instance? And how about a no passing on the right no matter what law??? My mom’s car was crunched by a schoolbus turning right at an intersection. She was in an undesignated lane where she shouldn’t have been but many, many cars pulled up to that same spot to turn right every day. And although people commonly did it and most got away with it, it truly wasn’t a safe practice.

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  • BURR December 20, 2009 at 2:04 am

    How about removing the substandard bike lane on lower SE Hawthorne and designating the entire right hand lane for bikes, busses and right turning vehicles only.

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  • Blazer December 20, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I want to make sure I understand-

    Does that mean if I am riding on the bike lane and when I cross the intersection (w/ no marked paintings on intersections), I am not protected by nothing? even the bike lane continues right after the intersection?

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  • jim December 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    I almost rt hooked a car one day as i was turning I took a second look in my mirror and the car behind me had took the bike lane to make a rt, luckilly i was able to stop (and honk). I had that happen once before also and the car actually had to drive up over a curb extension to make her turn.

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  • spare_wheel December 20, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    ws_bob,

    given my past interactions with him I am entitled to my opinion. i’ll post a few direct quotes here and/or at mercury blogtown.

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  • rixtir December 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Eileen, #122:

    You’re forgetting that right hooks happen when a driver passes a cyclist and then immediately turns without first yielding the right of way.

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  • rixtir December 20, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    spare_wheel and wsbob:

    I don;t know Zusman, but I have no reason to believe that spare_wheel’s accounts of interactions with Zusman are inaccurate.

    wsbob, why are you so skeptical?

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  • rixtir December 20, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Blazer, #124:

    The Judge ruled that the driver did not violate the statute she was ticketed for, because there was no bike lane paint in the intersection. There isn’t a legal expert in town who believes that this Judge has a grasp of the law. And another Judge hearing another case with an identical set of facts could decide the claw correctly.

    And even if the Judge is right (and none of the legal experts think he is), there are still other laws that protect you from right hooks.

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  • Paul Johnson December 20, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    BURR #123:

    I like that idea. Vancouver, BC commonly reserves the curb lanes as a combination bicycle/taxi/bus/HOV3+ lane on most thoroughfares (even four-lane thoroughfares: If you’re in a low-occupancy motor vehicle, you just get to wait for people to turn left, etc.) On-street parking is very rare (and typically in the off-peak direction only, in the combined reserved lane, which is extra-wide to accomodate cyclists to pass parked vehicles safely).

    Portland can and should reproduce this here.

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  • Blazer December 20, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    rixtir #129 – thanks for your response.

    It just makes me very mad that the judge ruled the driver was not guilty.

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  • spare_wheel December 20, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Typical mczlaw:

    “…Vegans, OTOH, want everybody to be vegans. They ought to be fed to hungry lions. Is this a good place to say something mean about aggressive bicyclists…”

    “Veganism is unnatural for humans. . .and pretty goofy besides.”

    As someone above stated, the guy is a curmudgeon — and an intolerant one to boot.

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  • spare_wheel December 20, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    From M. Zusman’s ruling:

    “ORS 801.160 provides that “‘bicycle lane’ means that part of highway, adjacent to the roadway, designated by official signs or markings for use by persons riding bicycles except as otherwise provided by law.””

    In light of this definition, plain text statutory construction supports the conclusion that the violation charged here could only be established if the collision occurred in the marked area comprising the bicycle land along Hawthorne which undisputedly did not occur.”

    This ruling make my blood boil.

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  • are December 20, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    rixtir 129. we have heard from three “legal experts” on this subject. mark ginsberg says there is a statute that forbids changing lanes in an intersection, and maybe there should be, but there isn’t. ORS 811.375 doesn’t quite cut it, unless you accept that the unmarked space to the right is a separate “lane.” 811.355 says you have to merge to the far right lane before executing a right turn. if that is what you want motorists to do, get rid of the solid line near the intersection. bob mionske says the legislature “obviously” intended something it did not say, and then points to something “implied” in an ODoT manual (not sure what he is referring to there, but “implied” in some manual is not how you get a conviction). ray thomas says, well, she shoulda been charged with failing to signal her turn. but of course she was not.

    so actually, it may not be true that “there isn’t a legal expert in town who believes that this judge has a grasp of the law.”

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  • rixtir December 20, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Of course it’s true. Not one of those 3 believe that the Judge is right on the law.

    It is true, as far as I know, that there is no statute that says you can’t change lanes in an intersection. That doesn’t mean the Judge is right in saying there are no lanes through intersections.

    It is also true that ODOT says that lane lines can’t be painted through an intersection. That doesn’t mean that lanes end at the intersection– and in fact, ODOT specifies that bike lanes do carry through intersections where the right turn lane and the bike lane are shared. Does that mean that bike lanes do NOT carry through intersections where they are separate from right turn lanes? That would be a very bizarre reading of the law– as literalist readings can often be.

    Finally, Ray Thomas clearly states that he thinks the Judge is wrong on bike lanes, but then adds that even if the Judge is right, the motorist still violated other laws. That observation doesn’t change his opinion that the Judge is wrong on the law regarding bike lanes.

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  • are December 20, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    i don’t really want to pick this to death, but: unless jonathan says otherwise, it seems to me the quote from ray thomas is meant to support the unquoted statement, that is, he “disagrees with the judge” in the sense that “she was still guilty of an illegal right turn.” which of course was not the charge.

    incidentally, when you and mionske point to something from ODoT, what exactly are you pointing to? give us a cite.

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  • Tony Columbo December 20, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    This is great for America.

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  • anonymous coward December 20, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    This post on Portlandfood.org, addrssed towards one of the co-owners of Kenny and Zuke’s (who is also the administrator of portlandfood.org) provides a bit more insight into Zusman’s character. The man is a real ray of sunshine.

    From this URL: http://www.portlandfood.org/index.php?showtopic=3281&st=360&p=97678&#entry97678

    “Sure, Nick, whatever. Lucier is better than Alinea. Hahaha. Easily better than Guy Savoy, Le Bernadin and all those other poseur fancy pants places the big critics told me to like. Hahahaha. You da man, Nick. You are always right–and will always get the last word in any event.

    I’m honored you stayed up all night to respond to my comments–or at least the ones you didn’t ignore–though we are still waiting for those K&Z financial reports for May and June. How are they coming, or is all this blog stuff keeping you too busy to do your actual job?

    Good luck getting this site fixed, btw. It’s great when it’s not broken.

    –mcz “

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  • wsbob December 21, 2009 at 1:49 am

    spare_wheel, in asking you to provide details relating to your claim of having personal anecdotal info about Judge Zusman’s person that might somehow be relevant to his decision in this case, I certainly didn’t intend to dismiss your right to an opinion. I just wanted to hear some substance to your claim.

    It just seems to me, that in this public forum, where, because of the somewhat astounding nature of the judge’s decision, many people are trying to have a better understanding of why and how he came to it, special care should be taken to avoid having the discussion devolve into destructive insinuation.

    If someone has something to say, personal or otherwise, about what Judge Michael Zusman has done or has not that they believe is relevant to his judicial fitness and to his decision in this particular case, they should simply spell it out if they feel that to be the right thing to do(or keep their silence).

    So, in response to Rixter’s question, I don’t feel so much skeptical about spare_wheel’s having had interactions with Zusman that would lead him to doubt the judge’s fitness…I’d just prefer being able to read…since spare_wheel brought it up…what that consists of. I bet others would too.

    I’d wager the numbers of people commenting to this story are greatly outnumbered by the people reading it but not commenting. Some of them will inevitably be watching to see what level of reasoned, respectful approach to understanding the judge and what he’s done is accomplished. Or, whether, as I earlier mentioned, it will devolve into something far less than that.

    As far as I, and most likely many other members of the public also…know at this point, Zusman is entitled to that much. This is a highly educated person…having dedicated a significant portion of his life to learning and practicing the law. If he will, let him explain further his thoughts about laws relating to bike lanes and why he felt he had to come to the decision he did.

    On a different point: Up there in maus’s story, where he wrote about author Bob Mionske:

    “Mionske also pointed out that the Oregon Department of Transportation’s traffic manual “implies that bike lanes do indeed continue across the intersection.”

    I wish that one of the two would have indicated specifically where in the manual it implied this. I looked through it today and didn’t run across a passage that struck me as having implied this…though one may exist.

    In that document, there is chapter ’6.18 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices’. The ‘MUTCD’. Oregon’s manual takes its marching orders from this one. What’s it say in there about bike lanes in intersections like the one at 10th and Hawthorne (hard for me to get access to it)? I wonder if Judge Zusman happened to read what it said about them before he made his decision.

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  • Paul Johnson December 21, 2009 at 1:52 am

    You must not have tried very hard to get the MUTCD… The 2009 edition, released last week, is available here: http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2009/mutcd2009edition.pdf

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  • Tacoma December 21, 2009 at 9:40 am

    The personal comment is not necessary, Paul Johnson. Things can be hard “to get access to” for reasons other than effort.

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  • Elliot December 21, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Get well soon, Carmen! If there’s any way for us to help, we’ll be there.

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  • Randal Putnam December 21, 2009 at 10:44 am

    The law doesn’t seem vague, but this judge found room to arrive at a terrible result. Fix the law so it doesn’t happen again! Probably easier than painting up the intersections. I just spent the entire morning putting down my thoughts on the issue. I’d be happy to have you read them at
    http://randalputnam.wordpress.com.

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  • buglas December 21, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Let’s see, the officer on the scene ticketed for a bike lane violation in the expectation that this would be the most readily provable charge. This was a forward thinking choice as the police training video released in October, a few months after the collision, recommends this very citation for right hooks.

    The driver of the car was cooperative, perhaps even chatty, at the scene but changed her behavior later. That’s why the matter went to traffic court rather than having her just pay the fine.

    There are other charges that could have applied for the driver, but the timing of the ruling has closed the door on those.

    What do prosecutors think of this ruling? They’re the ones who recommend which charge to bring out of all those available to them.
    While this particular case is closed and not subject to appeal, what sort of judicial review or process is there to strike this down as a precedent for future cases?
    I have another question about timing but it feels too much like feeding the trolls – if you really feel that Judge Zusman is biased, you’ll think of it yourself.

    Good luck, Carmen.

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  • Carter Kennedy December 21, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Post # 90: “a bike lane should not be striped solid up to the intersection, and a motorist turning right should be permitted to merge across, rather than waiting to make a hook at the intersection itself.”

    Good idea. That would be a lot safer.

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  • craig December 21, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Isn’t it up to the prosecutor/cops to bring the correct charge(s)? Am I wrong in thinking that the judge may not substitute a correct charge in court for an incorrect charge filed by the prosecutor?

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  • wsbob December 21, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    “….You must not have tried very hard…” Paul Johnson #140

    Paul, some of us out here are working with dial-up. 25 megs is asking a lot from that system’s download speed. Sounds like a trip to the library for me.

    If you’ve already been looking through the manual, certainly share with everyone if you see something in there that might shed some light on questions about bike lanes in intersections arising from Judge Zusman’s decision.

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  • are December 21, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    so paul 140 while you’re at it why don’t you read it for us and tell us what it says. oh, here it is:
    http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009/part9/part9c.htm
    they will allow you to put a dotted line across an intersection. oh, but that might not be considered a dedicated bike lane for purposes of 811.050. problem not solved.

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  • Paul Johnson December 21, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    25MB takes 50 minutes to download on dialup. Use wget to get it if you need to, it lets you continue downloads. And if wget’s not available for your OS, oops, you chose wrong.

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  • Shoemaker December 21, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    We maintain, in the absence of knowing the law, the hope that police officers on traffic duty know traffic law extremely well and will apply it appropriately. Working traffic enforcement, just like judging traffic court, is often not a judge or police officer’s only job.

    A better title for this article would have been – Understand the Careless Driving Statute. Or perhaps Continuing ignorance of the law continues injustice.

    There are two real injustices in this case.
    1) There is an applicable statute (two, really) that provides pretty serious penalty for the driver and nobody seems to have been aware of it!
    2) Our system requires lengthy and expensive legal proceedings to get any compensation for the victim. (Let’s face it, that’s directly related to our health care system.)

    If the police officer didn’t know the correct citation, nor did the victim or the driver there’s no way it would have made it on to the citation form. We often defer to the judgment of a police officer when a collision occurs and in many cases, rightfully so because most of us don’t make the slightest effort to understand traffic law. At least they have a few more statutes under their belt than we do.

    I’m not trying to say we should all be lawyers, ok maybe we should, but we tend to be more aware of free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s than of the rules of the road.

    Since we risk our lives in traffic every day, regardless of our mode of
    choice, there’s really no excuse for not understanding the laws that apply.

    As you’re lying the pavement or staring in shock or thanking your lucky stars after being hit by a car, the first words out of you mouth should be “811.135 – Careless Driving”

    If you want payback time for the driver, it’s all there: up to a $12,500 fine, not a mere $282. Re-licensing, community service, license suspension, etc.
    http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/811.html
    Here it is in it’s entirety (not very long, note the last paragraph, #6)

    811.135 Careless driving; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of careless driving if the person drives any vehicle upon a highway or other premises described in this section in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.

    (2) The offense described in this section, careless driving, applies on any premises open to the public and is a Class B traffic violation unless commission of the offense contributes to an accident. If commission of the offense contributes to an accident, the offense is a Class A traffic violation.

    (3) In addition to any other penalty imposed for an offense committed under this section, if the court determines that the commission of the offense described in this section contributed to the serious physical injury or death of a vulnerable user of a public way, the court shall:
    (a) Impose a sentence that requires the person to:
    (A) Complete a traffic safety course; and
    (B) Perform between 100 and 200 hours of community service, notwithstanding ORS 137.129. The community service must include activities related to driver improvement and providing public education on traffic safety;
    (b) Impose, but suspend on the condition that the person complete the requirements of paragraph (a) of this subsection:
    (A) A fine of up to $12,500, notwithstanding ORS 153.018; and
    (B) A suspension of driving privileges as provided in ORS 809.280; and
    (c) Set a hearing date up to one year from the date of sentencing.

    (4) At the hearing described in subsection (3)(c) of this section, the court shall:
    (a) If the person has successfully completed the requirements described in subsection (3)(a) of this section, dismiss the penalties imposed under subsection (3)(b) of this section; or
    (b) If the person has not successfully completed the requirements described in subsection (3)(a) of this section:
    (A) Grant the person an extension based on good cause shown; or
    (B) Impose the penalties under subsection (3)(b) of this section.

    (5) When a court imposes a suspension under subsection (4) of this section, the court shall prepare and send to the Department of Transportation an order of suspension of driving privileges of the person. Upon receipt of an order under this subsection, the department shall take action as directed under ORS 809.280.

    (6) The police officer issuing the citation for an offense under this section shall note on the citation if the cited offense contributed to the serious physical injury or death of a vulnerable user of a public way. [1983 c.338 §570; 1995 c.383 §20; 2007 c.784 §3]

    This statute went into effect at the beginning of 2008. So how do we find out about it? Swanson Thomas and Coon put out two (2!) legal references specifically for bikes and pedestrians – for FREE!! On their home page:
    http://stc-law.com/

    It’s not required reading, but it should be.

    I’m still waiting for an authoritative response to the question of whether a judge has the discretion to choose a more appropriate citation for conviction than the citation presented in court.

    Let’s not focus on the wrong citation, but knowing the right citation and knowing how to get that enforced when our turn comes.

    Who wants to lead the “Careless Driving Statute Awareness Ride?” I’m in!

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  • are December 21, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    snark snark snark paul. whyn’t you give the .html link?

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  • Paul Johnson December 21, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Because if you get the whole thing once, you can save it and search the whole thing at your leisure. The HTML version contains many formatting errors that make it much more difficult to read.

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  • are December 21, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    shoemaker 150, good call. careless driving should be charged in these situations, but i would guess statistics would show it is rarely charged because in the existing culture the penalty is seen as too harsh for, y’know, just an honest mistake. in the 2008 crash summary book from ODoT, for example, http://blog.oregonlive.com/commuting/2009/09/2008CrashSummaryBook_web.pdf, page 16, out of 41,138 crashes attributed to driver error, careless driving was cited as primary in only 674, about 1.6 pct. according to my four-function pocket calculator which has a rather ancient operating system.

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  • are December 21, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    oh, and. yes, the judge is limited to deciding the charge presented.

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  • Toby December 21, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I’m having a hard time imagining what was intended by ORS 811.050 if not turns exactly like the one that caused Ms. Piekarski’s sad encounter with the asphalt. I haven’t noticed too many cases of cars failing to yield to me when I’m in the bike lane in the middle of a block… Either the law was written with intersections in mind, or it wasn’t intended to actually be used to issue citations. Which is it?

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  • kgb December 21, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    I’m looking at that picture and thinking that since the cyclist hit the front of the prius as it cut across her path she was most likely still in the bike lane, you can see in the picture where the line is faded from cars cutting across the bike lane as they turn.

    Is this a good place to say something mean about aggressive fata$$ judges…

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  • Joe December 21, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    This is just sad!

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  • Tacoma December 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Been thinking about this scenario some more and if Ms. Piekarski left the “bike lane” (so to speak) when she entered the intersection, then where was she while she was in the intersection? I assume in the “curbside travel lane” (for lack of a better term)?

    So, if Ms. Piekarski (the cyclist) was in the travel lane AND Ms. Metz was in the travel lane at the same time, then who is entitled to be in the travel lane? Is the lane entitled to whoever was there first? How would someone determine who WAS there first?

    The reason I mention any of this is because I’m trying to understand what the violation would be if, instead of a bike and a car, there were two cars involved in the accident. And what I come up with is nothing. I just can’t figure out how this would happen with two cars.

    I suppose conceiveably that a car in the left lane could turn right in front of a car in right lane without looking. But what would the violation be – “Failure to yield to a car in a car lane”? You know, I can just hear the defense on this. “But officer, I had my signal on to turn to the right. What do you mean there was another vehicle to my right?”

    So, if the lanes are not “car” lanes, all we have are “travel” lanes, and I suppose the violation would just be failure to yield. So why isn’t it “failure to yield” for a car and a bike? Oh yeah, the “lane” the bike has been traveling in has ceased to exist. The car “inherits” the travel lane and the cyclist has…nothing!

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  • Larry December 21, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    No one deserves to get hit but I agree with the judge. Bicyclist think they can just fly through red lights and don’t have to stay in their lanes. Judge made the right decision.

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  • El Biciclero December 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    “I am often forced to ride near or on the line due to parked cars, storm drains, or other hazards, and turtle bumps would kill me.” –me (#74)

    “If you can’t safely negotiate one of these lines on a bicycle, I question your ability to ride on city streets in a safe fashion.” –Paul J. (#75)

    Ok, Paul, maybe “…kill me” was a bit of hyperbole, but if you are claiming that those 1.5″-high, 5″-wide bumps, apparently spaced at about 1 – 2′-foot intervals (hard to tell from the perspective of the photo you linked to) don’t make it more of a challenge to ride within 2″ of the line, and more of a challenge/needlessly uncomfortable to cross over the line when I’m going 15 or 20 mph, then you apparently know how to levitate. We know you’ve got all the answers, but sometimes you have to “wget” down off Mount Olympus and mingle civilly with the hoi polloi. Honestly, you’ve got some helpful info, but just because some of us don’t see/do things exactly like you doesn’t mean we “chose wrong”, etc.

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  • 007 December 21, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Just more evidence that bike lanes are not only unsafe but not a recourse in a court of law.

    I happened to recently notify PDOT, twice, that a bike lane on NE 42nd at Sandy was worn away and they should repaint it before someone gets killed. It is still unpainted. I was almost hit there because though I was in a bike lane, the paint abruptly ended as it approached the intersection where cars had worn the paint away. The driver (who blamed me) apparently did not know it was a bike lane and crossed over it in front of me. I did not know the paint was worn away in front of me because that’s where the driver’s vehicle crossed over. Dam-ed if you do, dam-ed if you don’t!

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  • Blazer December 21, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Tacoma #158, I like your thoughts! that was great! :)

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  • Paul Johnson December 21, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    I’m disappointed that bicycle lane lines rarely meet federal guidelines, such as including reflectors (the shoulder line should not have reflectors, but all intermediate lane lines must have them; so far the only road I’ve seen that gets this right is Washington County’s Scholls Ferry Road). Ideally, I’d like to see tactile stripes similar to those currently found on Oregon’s freeways (“painted” line with square bumpies on them). The tactile lines last longer and are quite annoying for motorists to drive on, without creating a slipping hazard or protruding higher than crosswalk markings (bicycle-safe).

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  • BURR December 21, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    @ Shoemaker #150 – very good analysis, but the real question is, what will it take to get the cops to issue ORS 811.135 citations, and what will it take to make them stick in a courtroom where the Zusmans of the world are in charge????

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  • BURR December 21, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    @ Tacoma #158 – you mean you’ve never seen a motorist turn right from the left lane??? It’s more common than you think, and I’m sure if a motorist caused a crash while doing it, the cops would be all over the driver like flies on poo with an abundance of citations.

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  • jacque December 21, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Imagining riding in a bike lane makes me shudder. Imagining driving a car and having to make a right turn across a bike lane… even more frightening.

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  • jacque December 21, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    I think the title should be “woman riding in bike lane felt safe… boy was she surprised!”

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  • danceralamode December 21, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Larry, #159,

    Are you really that much of an idiot? This case had absolutely nothing to do with a cyclist running a red light. You cannot base a judicial decision on whether or not some other cyclist at some other time ran a red light. I don’t like to call people stupid, but that’s the stupidest, most irrelevant argument I’ve ever heard. That’s like saying all citations to drivers that are suspected of DUIs should be upheld because all drivers commit rolling stops at stop signs. It has no relevance, nor does one thing have ANYTHING to do with the other. Maybe you should turn on your brain next time you type.

    This woman was riding in a bicycle lane–she was NOT passing on the right, the bicycle lane happens to be to the right of the car traffic lane–and the vehicle crossed over the bicycle lane into her without signaling and at the last second, per the driver’s own admission. A red light has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on this case.

    Furthermore, I watch car drivers break traffic laws every single day. This whole argument that cyclists break laws is bollocks. The number of motorists breaking traffic laws is far higher than that of cyclists, and cyclists, if they do break laws, generally do not kill, maim, or cripple people in the process. In addition, a study was just released that shows that 90% of all car v. bike accidents are caused by the car driver being negligent or breaking the law, not the cyclist.

    How dare you judge people on a prior prejudice! I’m assuming you’re probably a racist too. The amount of prejudice coming out of your comment is sad.

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  • Elly Blue (Editor) December 21, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    Everyone in this thread — just a reminder to please stick to discussing the issues and resist the temptation of personal attacks. Thanks.

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  • El Biciclero December 22, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Tacoma–
    “I suppose conceiveably that a car in the left lane could turn right in front of a car in right lane without looking. But what would the violation be – “Failure to yield to a car in a car lane”?”

    I think the violation in your scenario (which has actually happened to me on a bike–I was “taking the lane” in the left lane of a two-lane, one-way street, and the driver to my right made a left turn from the right lane and forced me up onto the sidewalk) would be along the lines of “making an improper turn”, which, incidentally, is what the driver in the case in question has admitted to doing. Had she been initially cited for making an improper right turn, I think the judge would have had no leeway to toss that one out.

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  • [...] following two pedestrians apparently killed by cyclists. A judge in Portland rules bike lanes — and cyclists’ protection in them — ends at the [...]

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  • Joe December 22, 2009 at 10:49 am

    how about hit a cyclist go to jail. sounds like some might wise up, just sayin.

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  • patrickz December 22, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Big thanks to “Tacoma”(158) and to Elly for reminding everyone to stick to the subject. After reading a few remarks by readers here and in other places, I concluded that if I were to moderate replies, I would immediately take out anything with the words “stupid”, “idiot”, “**hole*, and the like. I like to think that reply spaces are there to air out an issue, cooperate on finding reasonable solutions and discuss individual experiences in the light of those issues. I could go on, but I guess I made a point, along with those who chose to stick with the subject without name-calling.
    Ride safely, everyone.

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  • El Biciclero December 22, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    “Bicyclist think they…don’t have to stay in their lanes.”

    This case involves a woman cycling IN the bike lane. She did not leave the bike lane, the painted line for the bike lane disappeared–as do all lane markings–at an intersection. Also, according to Oregon law, there are numerous situations where bicyclists DON’T have to stay in “their lane”. The exceptions were presumably written with the acknowledgment that bike lanes are very, very often the most dangerous place for bikes to be. There are storm drains (often sunken into deep wells in the pavement), car doors, construction signs and vehicles, delivery vehicles, broken glass and other harmful debris. Try this some time: drive about 20mph within a foot of parked cars or the right-hand curb. See how far you get before hitting an obstruction and see whether you feel comfortable doing it. As cyclists, most of us would love to ride in the middle of the “car” lane, but as a courtesy, we stay to the right to allow drivers to pass more easily. However, nobody is obligated to put themselves in danger to make life more convenient for someone else.

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  • Candice December 22, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Absurd. That’s all I can say.

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  • Shoemaker December 22, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    @BURR 164 It is difficult to get a Careless Driving citation to stick.

    It must be given the same treatment that would be given any other citation. If accused of speeding, there’s usually evidence from the LIDAR. If I say, “Look, that’s obviously careless,” that carries no weight in court.

    I’m going to share my Traffic Court 101 which was a result of my own experience and from reading Ray Thomas’ books.

    The type of court setting is very important. The traffic court judges make their ruling based on the preponderance of evidence.

    That means if I’ve been hit and I’m presenting my case, the more exhibits I present that are *accepted* into evidence by the court the more the judge is required to rule in my favor. I may present something the judge doesn’t like or won’t accept. If it’s not admitted, it doesn’t count.

    When the police testify in court, they provide evidence like, written reports, witness testimony (often their own), and sometimes video.

    In the example of 811.135, the difficulty is clearly presenting some evidence of Careless Driving and not confusing it with Reckless Driving which most people assume is something like a drunken or speeding joyride. It’s not that hard to do if you just focus on the text.

    Start at the top and work down to the bottom.

    Here’s the routine:
    From 811.135″endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property”
    Do some homework to get documentation that turning right into a bicycle is likely to endanger the rider. (Shouldn’t be hard to do.) Present the document as evidence.

    Repeat.
    You want to have as much evidence as you can on your side.

    This might sound corny, but think of the blindfolded lady of justice holding the scales, she’s weighing your evidence and the more the better. Remember, this is traffic court, and that’s how the rules apply there. Other courts are different.

    Make sure there’s no mistake that turning right into a cyclist is “likely” to endanger the rider.” When that’s covered, move on.

    Continue to define careless. What are the requirements for a legal right turn? (811.335) Provide some evidence that no signal was made – witness testimony would probably be enough.

    Paragraph 6 in 811.135 refers to injury. Present some medical records to be entered into evidence.

    Wow, now I have a lot of evidence to support my position, no?

    The real decider is whether the defense can present *more* evidence than me to support their position. If not, the court decides in my favor.

    That’s what I know. Hopefully it can help someone make an informed decision about how to proceed in a case like this.

    I used the words “me” and “I,” but the reality is that I would have been eaten alive by protocol issues, or a defense lawyer without a lawyer of my own.

    In traffic court, life is as simple as it gets in our legal system and Ray’s books are the best guides we have to doing all this on your own. People have successfully represented themselves in traffic court.

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  • El Biciclero December 22, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Comment #174 was for Larry #159

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  • Tacoma December 22, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    El Biciclero (and Burr, et al.)-

    I have never seen the turn from the “wrong-side” lane and I feel lucky about that. Sorry you experienced it first hand.

    Agreed on the likely charge and that police (and witnesses?) would have been all over it. Disappointed in the outcome here but thanks to the officer for trying to do the right thing. Hope Ms. Piekarski recovers fully.

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  • BURR December 22, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    @ Shoemaker #176 – don’t you still need to have the officer make the citation at the scene in the first place, or are you talking about initiating one of the ‘citizens citations’ that have been discussed here previously?

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  • are December 22, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    re comment 174 (and recognizing that we really need not humor the troll at 159), it is precisely because this cyclist was (or felt) restricted to the bike lane that she got inside the right hook.

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  • Shoemaker December 22, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    @ BURR #179 There was a question about how to get a citation to stick.

    I really just gave a general overview of the process. I hope folks understand that the job in traffic court is the same whether a citation is issued by a regular citizen or a police officer.

    When a police officer issues a citation, their word is pretty good, but it’s not enough. If the officer issued a citation in my case, I might have been less inclined to do all the homework needed to make the citation stick, assuming like I think most of us would – “Hey, it’s the police. How could you challenge them?” or maybe thinking, “I’m good, the police are on my side.”

    It would be a great thing for a police officer to issue a citation at the scene, but that doesn’t mean it’s in the bag (see article above). It’s just the start of the process. If you’re involved, it’s your process, be a part of it and learn all you can.

    A well prepared defense would defeat a police officer’s citation if they have enough evidence. Piekarski’s case shows one outcome (unfortunate, unfair, unlucky, etc.) of a mistake like choosing the wrong citation, but there are plenty of other opportunities for even the correct citation to go wrong. I think is often the case with Careless Driving.

    As no other citation was issued was issued in my case I did initiate a citizen initiated violation prosecution.

    CIVP would have been the best recourse for the cyclist in this case if it had been done in time. There may be remedies in civil court that would allow the correct citations to be issued, but I don’t really know about that – yet ;)

    The title of this article really obscures the issue at stake. Is it really the case that the law does not protect cyclists in intersections? I think there is enough law to protect cyclists riding in intersections.

    Do law enforcement officers protect cyclists in intersections? The investigating officer looks like he gave it a pretty good try. Close, but not close enough.

    Is there some disagreement that the general citizenry, law enforcement and judges could be more aware of these laws? Doubtful.

    For bp and others: Other than serious comment readers, we’re losing a chance to raise some awareness of the most relevant laws to bikes and turning. The 2 right hook fatalities in 2007 would have been Careless Driving, but it wasn’t on the books until 2008. In a little over a week it will be two years ago. Get the word out!

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  • Lisa G. December 22, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Shoemaker (#150)

    Thanks for posting the Careless Driving statute. I am putting it in my wallet. It should be carried by all cyclists until our police force takes the time to learn the “new” statutes. Although I should think that after a year the statute is no longer new and that would be enough time for them to learn it.

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  • Jason Van Horn December 22, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Comment #58: “And for Rob Daray – file a civil suit. A civil proceeding is a much better form of enforcement in this situation than a traffic ticket.”

    Filing a civil suit seems to be the best recourse in this situation, as well as an appeal. Perhaps a public/ heavy publicized lawsuit would bring more attention to the issue at hand.

    Does anyone know off hand the rights of the cyclist in this situation? Obviously this route takes a long time and can be costly, but if you can sue over a hot cup of coffee, getting hit by a drive that wasn’t paying attention should be open and shut, especially considering the number of witnesses.

    If there was a heavy financial penalty (plus public shaming) for running into a cyclist, perhaps driver habits would change.

    Either way, the concept that the law doesn’t protect the cyclist in this situation is outragous.

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  • Donna December 22, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    It seems to me that if the bike lane doesn’t continue through the intersection because the intersection is unpainted, that the same would apply to all travel lanes.

    That would make a left turn from the position of a right-hand lane perfectly legal as long as it happens in the unpainted part of the intersection.

    I’ve got my own issues with bike lanes for the same set of reasons many of you do, but I think this ruling has the potential to make the flow of motor vehicle traffic in intersections rather interesting.

    It seems to me Judge Pro Tem Zusman had a head-on collision with the Law of Unintended Consequences but doesn’t know it yet.

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  • Joe Rowe December 22, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    There’s a reason for 182 reader comments, and I’m guessing much comes from the outrage that a Judge should know better.

    Most cyclists try to remain diplomatic and explain to drivers about the bike lane after a near miss or nudge. This judge adds insult to injury.

    I’ve examined why Zusman and right hooks cause me to pause with such concern.

    Bikes avoid cars at all costs, but the car is at fault when it passes us only to slow down and make a right turn, crashing into a bike. I drive with extreme caution now that I’ve got a daughter. But no matter how good my skills or caution, a driver who passes me and slows down sends me into caution mode; I assume I’m about to get a right hook.

    The way I avoid this tension is to allow my trips more time on quiet roads, and take the full lane when safe. I really need to think about other ways to prevent the right hook in the first place. Any other right hook abatement ideas?

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  • No Bike Lane = No Mans Land | BikeHacks December 22, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    [...] In Multnomah County, a traffic judge has thrown out a citation given to a driver for “failure to yield to a rider on a bicycle lane”.  Carmen Piekarski (a cartographer at the City’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability) was riding her bicycle when a car next to her made a last-minute turn right in front of her.  As a result of the incident Carmen sustained road rash and a shoulder injury.  The driver of the car admitted to police that she made an abrupt right turn in front of the cyclist, and that she didn’t check her blind spots.  ORS 811.050 states that “A person commits the offense… if… the person does not yield the right of way to a person operating a bicycle… upon a bicycle lane.”  Multnomah Country Circuit Court Judge Michael Zusman’s interpretation of the law is that because Carmen Piekarski wasn’t in a painted bicycle lane when the incident occurred, that the driver’s citation should be thrown out.  Via Bikeportland.org: [...]

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  • Eileen December 23, 2009 at 1:08 am

    so is the bike lane (marked or unmarked) considered its own separate lane? Or is it an extension of the car lane?

    If there is a long line of bicycles in the bike lane, when does a car get to turn right? I have had this experience as a driver where no bicycles stopped to let me turn right, meanwhile traffic was backing up behind me. Is this really legal? At the time, it didn’t feel right.

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  • Eileen December 23, 2009 at 1:42 am

    Never mind, I looked it up and it is legal. Cars have to yield to bikes. But I think this is a problematic and unsafe law. I am starting to think bike lanes are unsafe because of their placement to the right of vehicles and the imaginary safety bubble cyclists think the lanes give them. Legal or not, passing on the right isn’t safe.

    Of course, on the same token, I think drivers should be hyper-vigilant looking out for bicycles no matter what traffic laws say. Even if a cyclist blows a stop sign, I’m not going to feel good about hitting him, so I try to avoid it.

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  • Cycling December 23, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Eileen #187

    The occurance of a long line of bicycles in the bike lane that makes cars can’t turn right is veryyyyy low. If I was the car trying to make a right turn and there are lots of cyclist on the bike lane, I’d learn to appreciate their effort to be on a bike, doing things good for the environment and their health.

    I hope all drivers who drive appreciate others ride their bikes, they are using their legs to pedal every step of the way, unlike drivers just step on the gas.

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  • Donna December 23, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Eileen – if there are so many bikes that a car is unable to turn right during the light cycle, the problem is in the engineering, not that the cars have to yield to bikes in the bike lane.

    They either need to move the bike lane to the right or create a light cycle for right turners that stops the bike traffic for a time. Maybe even both in some circumstances.

    People who are not fond of bike lanes, please don’t jump on me: I say this assuming that whether I like it or not, bike lanes are not going to go away. If they are going to be here no matter what, the last I would want to see are more situations where motor vehicles don’t have to yield to bikes.

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  • jacque December 23, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Eileen, it doesn’t feel right, because it isn’t right. I tried to turn right off hawthorne once to go to clever cycles, and I was sitting there in the car screaming, “how the *** am I supposed to do this?!?” It was impossible, with the traffic behind me to see that the bike lane was clear far enough back for me to turn without killing someone. I finally gave up and went out of my way to made a left turn and go around the block to cross with a light… all because my only other alternative was to possibly kill someone.

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  • Tacoma December 23, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Eileen and Jaque,
    Thank you both for being “hyper-vigilant” around bikes, even to the point of carefully working around “poor engineering” to get where you need to go. Your efforts are appreciated.

    And, Eileen, I love the fact that you went to look up the applicable laws. Not everyone does that. Thanks.

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  • Paul Johnson December 23, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Eileen #187: Yes, this is legal, you just get to wait it out and people behind you just get to suck it up and deal with it. Bicycles have the right of way.

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  • wsbob December 23, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    It seems that the ‘failure to yield’ occurred over a distance, such as 100 feet or so from the intersection (where a motor vehicle operator should be putting on turn signals, looking for bikes in the bike lane) rather than only at the site of the collision in the zone unregulated by bike lane markings.

    Why did the judge only consider the site of the collision in the unmarked, unregulated zone of the intersection in deciding whether or not a ‘failure to yield’ occurred? I suppose because he felt that the site of the collision is the only relevant point where the failure to yield was alleged to have occurred.

    “… I tried to turn right off hawthorne once to go to clever cycles, and I was sitting there in the car screaming, “how the *** am I supposed to do this?!?” It was impossible, with the traffic behind me to see that the bike lane was clear far enough back for me to turn without killing someone. …” jacque 191

    That is a problem. There are traffic control designs that deal with that, such as the type that, with pavement markings, directs right turn traffic through and to the right of the bike lane in advance of an intersection ahead. I don’t have a picture of one, or I’d post a link. It’s not a perfect solution though.

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  • [...] Portland, OR and the magically disappearing bike lanes. [...]

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  • El Biciclero December 28, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Q: “If there is a long line of [oncoming cars] in the [opposite] lane, when does a car get to turn [left]?”

    A: When there is a break in the conflicting (oncoming) traffic.

    How is waiting for a break in oncoming traffic to make a left turn different from waiting for a break in overtaking (bike) traffic to make a right? Sure there are some practical differences: it might be harder to see a break in bike traffic coming from your right rear, and there are often left turn signals at busy intersections that force a break in oncoming traffic, but the principle is the same–why does it “feel wrong” to wait for bike traffic? Not asking in any kind of accusatory manner, it is just interesting that folks feel like this (including me, at times).

    Lots of times, if you want to avoid waiting for a sketchy break in traffic to make a left turn, you can keep going until you get to an intersection that has a left turn lane, make the left turn and then backtrack to where you wanted to go (or if you are familiar with the area, you could take advantage of an earlier left turn lane and then not have to backtrack). There are also right-only lanes in various places, why not just keep going until you get to one, where you can merge across bike traffic early, and then make the right turn with no interference?

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  • Tacoma December 28, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    That’s a legitimate question, El Biciclero. A quick reply would be the awkward vantage point (that you mentioned) to look for “traffic” (bikes are traffic) that is passing on my right.

    From a different perspective, since we should make left turns from the left-most travel lane and right turns from the right-most travel lane, is a motor vehicle allowed (in Oregon) to enter the bike lane to make a right turn? If not, then that would be a reason why it would “feel wrong” to wait for bike traffic – i.e. they are directed (by the engineering) to pass on my right even though I have my signal on to indicate that I want to make a right hand turn.

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  • Adron December 29, 2009 at 10:16 am

    I hate ruling like this, that are obfuscated by the haze of the legal system and ignorant of reality and logic – or simply refuses common sense.

    Makes me want to do irrational things like just throw crap at drivers when they almost hit me.

    I’m on my 7th impact in Portland over the 5 years I’ve been here. Fortunately, never while on a bike. If as a pedestrian I’ve had that many incidents, I’m afraid of what may happen if I start cycling more.

    Albeit, all those impacts where minor (I’m glad I know how to “fall” and “roll” with impacts)… I don’t want to add to those incidences.

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  • John Lascurettes December 29, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    @Tacoma:

    No, in Oregon, you are NOT allowed to enter the bike lane to start your right turn. You MUST turn across the bike lane, yielding to the bikes using the lane. It’s only different if there is a dedicated right turn lane with an an indicated “merge-over” area before the intersection.

    It’s the exact opposite in California. You MUST merge into the lane, yielding to traffic (bikes) already in the lane and, as you state, make your right turn from the right most lane.

    The Oregon method seems rife with pragmatic problems like these. Here’s is a link to a infographic that illustrates the difference visually: http://www.sfbike.org/?bikelane_right_turns

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  • Paul Johnson December 29, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    @John #199:

    That alone is reason enough to consider driving with a Californian license the same as driving without a license here.

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  • Tacoma December 29, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    @ John Lascurettes:

    Love the graphic in the link. Very interesting. Many thanks.

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  • Eileen January 2, 2010 at 2:36 am

    John, that’s a really interesting link. The CA law seems to make a lot more sense, but it says attempts to change the Oregon law to resemble the CA law have been met with resistance from bicycle advocates. Why is that? It seems to me the CA way would eliminate most right-hooks. Just sayin…

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  • Paul Johnson January 2, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    @Eileen 202: Cars don’t belong in the bike lane. Right turn pockets are prescribed for a reason. If you want California law, you know where to find it.

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  • Joanna January 6, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Terrible! In all countries in the world, except for the US, this would have been the driver’s fault, even if there had been no bike lane at all.

    Time for us cyclists to take our bike lane “with us”: http://www.shirts-4-thought.com/Bike-Lane/_s_301362

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  • [...] of travel lanes through intersections This is a response to the case back in December where a traffic court judge dismissed a “failure to yield to a bicyclist in a bike [...]

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  • Jessie July 3, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    I just re-found this article while searching for this law (vehicular assault). I was just ran off the road, purposely, by a dump truck driver on division in between 50th and 60th and also in a school zone. The Portland Police couldn’t have been less interested in taking a report. I am actually still trying to get them to go after the driver since I got his plate.

    How much longer are we going to allow this sort of discrimination by law enforcement towards bicyclist?!

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    • Paul Johnson July 3, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      Moving to Oklahoma worked for me. Thanks to a strong tourism effort, and with a lack of mass transit in Tulsa and OKC, being strong drivers in the cycling explosion here, plus a pretty long tradition of Amish buggies (though mostly in the mountains) and equestrians on the public roadways, drivers tend to be more aware in most situations that there may be vulnerable road users, give them a wider berth, and are a bit more patient with the situation, and law enforcement is not kind to violators.

      It’s a two way street, though, just as it is for motorists: If you’re riding like a tool (ninja, salmon, sidewalk, etc), don’t expect to get much sympathy from anyone, though…

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    • wsbob July 4, 2014 at 2:02 am

      Sounds scary, and bad. Glad you had some place to get off the road, instead of getting run over. Have you got witnesses, or some other way to verify what you’re saying? Unless the police can get something to back up your account, how do you think it would go if they were to confront the person driving? If you were able to see on the truck, logos for a company the person driving may be working for, maybe you could file a complaint with the company.

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