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Cars parking in bike lanes: How can we fix this problem?

Posted by on January 25th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Photo taken last night on
N. Williams south of Hancock.
(Photo: Andrew N.)

What would help prevent people from parking cars in bike lanes?

The problem as I see it, isn’t that people are simply jerks and don’t care about blocking a lane of travel that is reserved for the use of non-motorized vehicles — it’s more likely a lack of signage, enforcement of existing laws, and a general lack of awareness. To someone who doesn’t ride a bike around town, a wide, curbside bike lane looks a lot like a convenient place to park.

There are two specific locations where this phenomenon is occurring in Portland that have recently come to my attention.

New Seasons overflow parking in bike lane-8
This lane blockage is close to a freeway
on-ramp, and the speed differential
between bicycles and motor vehicles is high.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The first one is on N. Rosa Parks Way in front of the New Seasons Market in Arbor Lodge. The parking lot there is notoriously small, and whenever the store is busy, people flagrantly violate Oregon state law (ORS 811.550) and park in the bike lane. They park directly adjacent to the lot and on surrounding block faces. I have documented this several times and have been in touch with New Seasons. They say they’re working on the problem with PBOT, but I’ve yet to hear any resolution. I have never seen a City parking enforcement officer issuing tickets at this location.

New Seasons overflow parking in bike lane-6 New Seasons overflow parking in bike lane-2 Cars in bike lane at New Seasons Arbor Lodge-1 New Seasons overflow parking in bike lane-4

The other location is on the popular N. Williams bikeway between Weidler and Hancock. This issue comes up during Trail Blazers home games (the arena being just a few blocks away). My hunch tells me that streetcar construction must have taken away some parking for the games, because I haven’t heard or seen of this in the past. Regardless, it’s happening now, and it’s particularly dangerous given the speed differential between motor vehicles and bicycles on that stretch of road.

Reader Andrew N. sent in photos of massive parking-in-the-bike-lane violations during last night’s Blazers game against the Sacramento Kings. Andrew said, “This set up an extremely dangerous situation for cyclists in an already chaotic atmosphere.” He also reports that all the cars had been written tickets. In the photos below, take note of the person riding a bicycle in the lane adjacent to the curbside lane…

Look closely and you’ll see two people bicycling in the lane adjacent to the parked cars.

I think one of the problems is that in both locations, there is no signage telling people that this curbside, painted lane is a place where vehicles travel. Perhaps PBOT could place a few of the bike lane characters on the pavement to reinforce the presence of a bikeway and/or perhaps we need some “No Parking” signs. Better yet, how about a few signs that say, “Bike Lane: Do Not Block. Vehicle Owners Will Be Towed”

Have you noticed other vehicle lanes in Portland where this occurs? What would you suggest as a solution to prevent it?

UPDATE: Thanks for all the helpful comments. I just heard from someone at PBOT, who pointed out the Parking Enforcement page on their website. Beyond improved signage, seems like the consensus is to get out your phone and call in violators.

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Comments
  • NW Biker January 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Okay, just a little amusement: “vehicle owners will be towed.” The cars, however, remain in place…. :-)

    Seriously, I agree with you that people who park in the bike lanes are just unaware that they’re breaking the law and if they’re searching high and low for a parking space, they’re probably not paying attention, either. I think better signage and lane markings, as well as consistent enforcement, are great ideas.

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  • Joseph January 25, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    how about actually towing cars that park illegally in the public right of way, instead of just citing them and leaving the vehicle to block traffic? And what happens to those citations? what amount are people fined? do people actually pay these citations? do we go after the scofflaws who don’t pay?

    I’ll tell you what, if my car was towed and I had to pay the impound fee to get it back, I’d think twice (at least) before parking in a bike lane (well, I would anyway, but I digress).

    Ultimately the penalty has to be increased for blocking the public right of way as a disincentive for people choosing to do so. For example, in North Carolina, the maximum fine for parking in a marked handicapped space is $50 (yes, FIFTY dollars). As such, I’m no longer surprised to see newish Mercedes and BMW’s (without handicapped tags) parked in handicapped spaces when parking is tough, because that’s not much of a disincentive to people who feel entitled to break the rules. Combine the pitifully small fee with the complete lack of enforcement, and you end up with a BIG problem.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      how about actually towing cars that park illegally in the public right of way, instead of just citing them and leaving the vehicle to block traffic?

      Andrew and I wondered the same thing. I’m hoping to find out more about the City’s towing policy in this situation and I will update the story when I know more.

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  • jim January 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I know I was downtown and there was a bike lane and then for one block there was a white line but no bike signage in it so people were parking there. You can’t blame epople if there is no signage, otherwise it could be a fog line, or a place for emergency parking, cell phone parking…

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    • Paul Johnson January 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      Sure you can. Fog lines are half the width of restricted lane lines in most states.

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    • Brian January 30, 2011 at 2:42 pm

      It does not help that parking lanes may also be marked with a solid line. On SW Conestoga in Beaverton, it may look like a bike lane but the city traffic engineer has told me that it is actually a parking lane. That, of course explains why the lane is so wide and why so many people park there. It would make great bike lane, though.

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      • Paul Johnson January 30, 2011 at 5:21 pm

        It’s 2011 and there’s still people who can’t distinguish a standard width fog line from a double-width restricted lane line? I’ve been on Conestoga, it’s clearly a shoulder line.

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  • kww January 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Don’t forget the occasional truck parking in the bike lane on SE4th between Caruthers and Division. Not likely to cause an accident, but the bike lanes are well marked and there is a huge amount of bike traffic off of the Springwater Trail.

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  • Bjorn January 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    I see a lot of this around schools. When there is a event often the school doesn’t have enough parking for everyone who decides to drive to park right at the school, and they shouldn’t really since it is maybe 10 days a year that they run out of parking, it creates an extra dangerous situation with lots of kids around and reduced visibility as people try to cross streets due to cars being parked where they are not supposed to be. Usually there is legal parking available within a block or two, people just don’t want to walk even a short distance.

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    • Brian E January 25, 2011 at 1:36 pm

      Also after School, the Parents arrive to pick-up the kids and queue up in the bike lane until school lets out and the kids arrive. This usually mucks-up the cross-walk too.

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      • Paul Johnson January 27, 2011 at 4:51 pm

        Most school districts have it’s own police department, alert your school’s officer to the situation.

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  • JE January 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm
  • Thom January 25, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Every time you see a car illegally parked in the bike lane, take a picture of the car with it’s license plate visible and the no parking signage visible, and email it to the traffic enforcement division of the police department.

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    • jim January 25, 2011 at 8:51 pm

      should we require bikes to have license plates so we can enforce laws on them too?

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 25, 2011 at 8:59 pm

        In an ideal world, yes. It would be neat if we could somehow identify bicycles. Unfortunately it’s more difficult than it seems and no one has figured out how to actually do a bike licensing system that is cost-effective and that actually works.

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      • Mark Kenseth January 26, 2011 at 6:49 am

        The level of licensing and insurance for driving is much more complex than owning and riding a bicycle. Should pedestrians wear license plates?

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 26, 2011 at 9:18 am

          Should pedestrians wear license plates?

          Nope. Our society has not yet decided that feet are to be considered vehicles… but we have decided that bicycles are vehicles.

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      • Opus the Poet January 27, 2011 at 4:07 pm

        Umm, tried and discarded many, many, times. There are more bikes than cars, so bike plates would require more characters, and there are only so many places to mount a plate on a bike, which limits the size of the plates and reduces the size of the characters even more, What we come up with is a plate that can’t be read more than 5 feet away from the bicycle, or a plate that won’t fit on a bike.

        Not to mention that all previous attempts quickly developed a bureaucracy that ate up all the revenues generated by the licensing program, plus a fair chunk more.

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    • Ivana Tinkle January 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      Good idea!

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  • G. Tyler January 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I was amused by the Portland Police pulling over the car adjacent to me on the way home last Friday. I was entering the bike lane heading east on Holgate Blvd. just past I-205 and the car pulled over to the parking median and the police officer just parked the car right in the bike lane. At least I got to use the ‘buffered’ part of the lane while passing the officer getting out of his patrol car.

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    • matt picio January 26, 2011 at 9:35 am

      They do this for their own protection – approaching cars swing out to avoid the patrol car, and when swinging back in, they are far enough away to not clip the cop. It’s completely legal for them to do this, and they do it with other traffic lanes, and not just the bike lane. All vehicle operators have a responsibility to accommodate a parked patrol car with flashers on, and to slow down as appropriate for safety. We wouldn’t see this behavior if there hadn’t been a number of incidents where a ticketing officer was hit by roadway traffic failing to adhere to that responsibility.

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  • Nick January 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    If someone was parked in a car lane for an extended period on a busy road, wouldn’t you be justified in calling 911 and getting police involved, instead of praying for the elusive parking enforcement people?

    Why not do it here?

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    • matt picio January 26, 2011 at 9:39 am

      That is an excellent point. Bike lanes aren’t viewed as traffic lanes, and I would argue they should be. Cars can’t just park in a motor vehicle traffic lane – and if they try, then they are immediately ticketed and towed. Wouldn’t it be great if a large group of, say 50 cyclists decided to ride up one of the streets with a bike lane until they found a car parked in the bike lane, and then block the general traffic lane until police responded? Not that I would advocate that, mind you – someone could possibly get arrested.

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      • CaptainKarma January 26, 2011 at 6:00 pm

        That would be awesome! Every bicycle would have a bell or squeezey-horn; Someone could video them all honking and waiting for the car owner to come out and move the car. Be sure to get the license plate in there, yes. Submit the video to Portlandia. hehehee.

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  • Jackattak January 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Not sure if there’s an Android counterpart yet, but there’s always this:

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/city-portland-citizen-reports/id351455616?mt=8

    Not marketing for iTunes/Apple. I personally abhor their devices.

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  • Richard Masoner January 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I like the towing idea; owners or the vehicles themselves sound good to me.

    I suspect there’s probably some herd behavior in the stadium parking situation — somebody sees a line of cars and thinks if they’re doing it then it must be okay for anybody else.

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  • David M January 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    I’m not trying to pile on drivers here, but the idea that they just didn’t know it was a bike lane or that you shouldn’t park there is pretty weak in this city. There are bike lanes everywhere and they are clearly used regularly. I just have a hard time believing that people would be completely unaware of bicycles especially around the Rose Quarter at rush hour. (And yes I rode around several parked in the bike lane yesterday on my way home) This smacks of a case of selfishness. Even if it weren’t against the law I wouldn’t park in a bike lane because I like to consider how my actions effect other people. I know this seems like a cars hate bikes post and I don’t mean it to come across that way, but I just get exhausted of all the excuses made for bad, rude and selfish behavior of bicyclists, cars, and pedestrians.

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  • Andrew January 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    We could always start doing this:

    http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/bike-lane-stickers

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    • q`Tzal January 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm

      Allow citizen’s parking citations.
      Submit a picture of the offending vehicle from a device that attaches the GPS location and current time.
      Include in frame enough background detail that the location of the vehicle can be corroborated with the GPS data.
      Require that submitter includes contact info and agrees that participation may require being a witness in traffic court.

      Picture is viewed by police officer, computer matches GPS data with map of where bike lanes are. If the photo appears to be accurate and license plate matches vehicle registration and vehicle in picture citatin is issued right then.

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    • matt picio January 26, 2011 at 9:47 am

      Those who try this, be aware that in the City of Portland it is illegal to attach a sticker to someone’s windshield or to place papers/fliers/etc underneath their windshield wipers. PCC Chapter 16.70.510
      http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=28596&a=16291

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      • MeghanH January 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm

        Someone should tell the City that — every year, I see those “Don’t be a Car Prowl Victim” flyers under the wipers of every car in the downtown Smart Park.

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        • CaptainKarma January 26, 2011 at 6:05 pm

          Probably authorized by the city as in section C:
          C. The provisions of this Section do not apply to any card, notice, handbill, leaflet, pamphlet, survey, or similar matter placed upon or within such motor vehicle by authority of law, by an authorized officer of the City, County, or State or by a designee of the City Traffic Engineer.

          So the trick is to get the city to authorize citizen initiated traffic “warnings” if not actual tickets.

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  • Oliver January 25, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    It’s significant that tow companies impound vehicles parked in the lots of businesses after hours (even permanently closed), but not illegally parked in a lane of traffic.

    I agree; tow them, no ticket. I know it sucks, but I was towed once, the first time I went out in Portland in 1987. A night on the street in the fall was a stark lesson.

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    • A.K. January 25, 2011 at 3:03 pm

      I think that probably happens because businesses give contracts for their lots to specific tow companies, who then are allowed to tow cars off of those lots.

      I don’t think the city of Portland has such a thing in place for streets (though I’m just guessing here), giving tow companies little incentive to tow vehicles that are parked improperly on the side of the street.

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  • John Lascurettes January 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    I’ve seen two spots.

    One less common is near the Wonder Ballroom when there’s activity going on there. People park in the bike lane where there’s no curbside parking on NE Russell between Rodney and Williams. East of Rodney, there’s curbside parking with an adjacent bike lane.

    The other really annoying, very common one is an everyday habitual thing. The taxis that park in the taxi stand at the northeast corner of SW Broadway at Oak are nearly always parked wide (two, sometimes three feet from the curb) and straddling the bike lane. During rush hour commute, it seems to be a real liability.

    I’ve taken pictures of some of the cabs so I can get their cab numbers, but I’ve never reported them. When I’ve directly asked some of the cabbies if they could try to park closer to the curb, they either shrug or don’t even acknowledge the request.

    For what it’s worth, Radio Cab is the one company with drivers that park at that stand that seems to consistently park legally and with some courtesy to people on bikes in mind.

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    • Jessica Roberts January 25, 2011 at 5:20 pm

      I totally agree, John – parking in the bike lane on N Russell near the Wonder Ballroom is a huge problem, and it’s always outside of normal enforcement hours so calling the hotline is not an option. I’ve been frustrated by this for years, and have contacted PBOT about it several times with no resolution.

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  • becky January 25, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    My experience is that tickets for illegal parking and towing are separate things. I had a car park in front of my driveway totally blocking my car. I called parking enforcement and a guy came out and gave a ticket quickly, but the tow truck driver took a little more time. Perhaps those ticketed cars were later towed?

    (The fine for parking in a bike lane is $80, the same for blocking a street or alley.)

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  • Opus the Poet January 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Perhaps pulling a Yehuda Moon and using a road flare? I think that’s a little extreme, but if PBOT or some other agency won’t keep the lanes clear, maybe knowing their car might get torched would keep people from parking in the bike lane?

    I really wish there was a better way, though. Like a fresh ticket every hour a car was parked in the bike lane, maybe. Not just $80, but $80 an hour.

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  • Elliot January 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    If you see a car parked in a bike lane, call 503-823-SAFE for parking enforcement. In your message, recommend that they tow the vehicle per:

    Title 16 Vehicles and Traffic

    16.20.130 Prohibited in Specified Places.

    Except when specifically directed by authority of this Title or when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, it is unlawful to park or stop a vehicle in any of the following places:

    [...]

    U. On or within a bicycle lane, path, or trail.

    16.30.210 When a Vehicle May be Towed.

    A vehicle may be towed and held at the expense of the owner or person entitled to possession thereof from:

    [...]

    9. The vehicle is parked in violation of any parking regulation;

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    • David January 25, 2011 at 3:16 pm

      Added to my contacts. Thanks!

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    • Psyfalcon January 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      I think you need 16.30.220 for towing without prior notice.

      A. The vehicle is impeding or likely to impede the normal flow of vehicular or
      pedestrian traffic

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      • Elliot January 26, 2011 at 9:57 am

        Nice, thanks.

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      • matt picio January 26, 2011 at 10:07 am

        That goes back to what is the definition of “impede”? Is vehicular traffic “impeded” if a bike can safely swing into and use the adjacent general traffic lane? I would think the answer is no, but I am not a lawyer or a judge.

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  • 3-speeder January 25, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    For the purposes of my post, I’m willing to ignore the fact that drivers are supposed to know these examples are bike lanes.

    The design of these bike lane are perhaps flawed so that it isn’t obvious to some drivers that there is a bike lane there.

    But that got me thinking – according to Oregon law, what is it about the markings, etc. that means the space to the right of that solid white line is a bike lane? Is the curb yellow (to indicate no parking)? Does the law require “BIKE LANE” or some other symbol to be painted every 100/500/2000 feet?

    On an interstate, the space to the right of that solid white line is the shoulder of the road, with functionality very different from a bike lane. I don’t know that it is a good idea for the same marking to have different meaning in different traffic contexts.

    I’ve certainly seen city streets (although I’m not positive I’ve seen this in Oregon) with a solid white line about a foot from the street edge. This seems to be there to encourage vehicles to maintain space from the road edge, but that foot is clearly not intended to be a bike lane.

    I realized that I don’t recall reading anything explaining what makes that space familiar to all of us a bike lane vs. some other function.

    I wonder if the law telling the city how to mark a bike lane is inadequate. Maybe that’s part of the problem

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    • Spiffy January 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm

      if the white line is 4″ wide then it’s a shoulder, if the line is 8″ wide then it’s a bike lane…

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    • matt picio January 26, 2011 at 10:42 am

      Bike lane line width must be 8″ wide. If there is parking to the right of the bike lane, then there must be a bike stencil in the lane after every intersection. If no parking, then a stencil should be placed after “most” intersections. If no intersections, the stencil interval depends on road speed limit – roughly equal to speed limit x 40. (i.e. on a 35mph road, a stencil every 1400 feet on long stretches with no intersections)

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    • Paul Johnson January 27, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      The width of the line matters. Fog lines and regular lane lines are narrow and dashed. Restricted lanes are separated from the rest of traffic by wide, solid lines (and for some reason, this extends to turn lanes as well in Oregon and Washington).

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  • Ted Buehler January 25, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    My suggestion —

    Whenever you see this sort of thing,
    1) Take a pic with your cell phone
    2) email pic to safe@portlandoregon.gov with the location and time.
    3) ask for immediate ticketing and routine enforcement.

    If they get a handful of these each day, they’ll start enforcing the trouble spots.

    If they only get a couple a month, expect to see no improvement.

    Thanks for covering this, Jonathan.

    Ted Buehler

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  • spare_wheel January 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    the cycle track on broadway frequently has a dingaling parking or picking someone up in the lane.

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    • are January 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm

      811.560 allows pickup and drop off in a bike lane

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      • spare_wheel January 25, 2011 at 4:54 pm

        oh drat…now i have one less thing to complain about.

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      • Paul Johnson January 27, 2011 at 4:58 pm

        Bicycle track is arranged in such a manner that it counts as a separate roadway, which means he might as well drive down the Springwater Corridor and kick a puppy while he’s at it.

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  • Dude January 25, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I think you’re wrong: These people simply are being jerks.

    It might be because they have failed at their basic responsibliity to understand Oregon traffic laws, but they are being jerks nevertheless because through blithe ignorance they put their convenience ahead of others’ safety.

    And this is a perfect example of how local politicians’ pro-bike rhetoric is not backed up with any definitive action to address a speficic problem that endangers the safety of people who ride bikes. People who care about safe roads need to demand of these so-called leaders: If you’re so pro-bike, why don’t you simply work toward solving the everyday problems that keep people from feeling safe and thus from riding? It doesn’t take millions in funding or lots of infrastructure to make sure that bike lands can actually be used. Priorities.

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    • Steve January 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      Very well said.

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  • are January 25, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    pretty sure i remember someone whining on joe rose’s blog the other day about getting ticketed for overstaying the two hour limit onstreet near the arena. what i don’t get is, why do we bother to put a max station right there if people are going to insist on arriving in private automobiles? the lloyd district stop is in the fareless zone, and there is plenty of parking there. tow these cars.

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    • matt picio January 26, 2011 at 10:46 am

      “why do we bother to put a max station right there (if people are arriving in cars)?”

      I agree with the sentiment, but if you go down there before a Blazers game, you’ll see multiple MAX trains arrive packed to the gills with people. Believe me, they are FULLY utilized. In fact, on some days the MAX fills up between Hillsboro and Beaverton with Blazers fans, and remains full the whole way in. (30-40 Blazers shirts & jackets suddenly appearing on the train over 3 stops are a dead giveaway)

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      • A.K. January 27, 2011 at 8:36 am

        Indeed. Even though many people to drive there, when I’ve gone to games and taken the max, sometimes it is so packed afterwords that you have to wait for several trains to come and go before its your turn to board.

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        • are January 27, 2011 at 8:54 am

          and why is arriving early or leaving late such a horrible thing? instead you should walk several blocks to your illegally parked car, crossing several busy streets, and then have to wait in a traffic jam.

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  • Matt D'Elia January 25, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    I think there is a huge amount of ignorance about the rules to be honest. Two summers ago the area we do our ride launches from was having some construction taking place that ate up a large number of the open parking spots that we used. I was shocked at the number of people, including some cyclists, who parked in the bike lane of an adjacent street.

    Often times convenience is more important to people than following the law.

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  • Stacy January 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Gladstone between SE 26th and SE Cesar E Chavez Blvd, always pinching traffic as the bike lane lumbers around the traffic circles.

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  • eljefe January 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    +1 to Elliot.
    Call 503-823-5195 and report it. I have successfully used this process TWENTY-NINE TIMES, several of which were for bike lanes violations (often on SE Water Ave, incidentally). Quit whining and pick up the phone. Then you can start whining about the city’s response rate (about 50% in my experience).
    BTW Parking on any portion of a sidewalk is also illegal, and is even worse in my view since bikers can safely take the lane while pedestrians do so at their peril. If you have time to read this article, you have time to take proactive action. Pick up the phone now. Seriously.

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    • Paul Johnson January 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm

      That’s a good number to have, and corresponds to City of Portland Bureau of Police Division of Parking Enforcement, if you’re curious. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the number is 918-596-2100 (Mayor of Tulsa Action Center).

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  • Spiffy January 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    yes, tow the cars blocking the bike lane just like they would if they were blocking a motor-vehicle lane!

    I’ve noticed a lot of issues where bike lanes end by tapering back towards the curb… people will park the rear of their car out of the lane but the front will hang over into it… so as the bike lane ends or moves towards the curb, you end up getting pinched… there are a couple places on Lake Rd in Milwaukie on my bus route where this happens…

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  • VeloBusDriver January 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    It’s not just bike lanes. Lots of folks love to use my bus zones as a parking spot. While not as hazardous to me or my passengers, it’s annoying and slows traffic down when I have to block the lane to service a bus zone.

    +1 to enforcement comments. Given revenue issues of cities, they are happy to write more tickets and tow – at least in Seattle. I also wave and give a thumbs up to Parking Enforcement Officers I see doling out tickets. They seem to appreciate it.

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    • eric January 25, 2011 at 6:45 pm

      Oh man I’ve seen towing in no parking zones in seattle. They’re serious business about that, especially in bus zones. As in: it’s 4:05, and there are 4 tow trucks clearing out that no parking after 4 zone.

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      • VeloBusDriver January 25, 2011 at 7:18 pm

        4th Ave parking enforcement is a sight to behold. I love driving through at 3:55 and watching 2-3 tow trucks stalking their prey.

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    • matt picio January 26, 2011 at 10:58 am

      +1 to enforcing bus zones. As a frequent transit user, anything that makes it less safe or less predictable for the bus makes it less safe for me, whether I’m loading the bike or just boarding the bus as a pedestrian.

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  • Sel January 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    My ride along NE Sandy between 102nd and 122nd is harrowing at the best of times – but there are several bars along the route with large trucks that like to use the bike lane as a buffer – giving them a much wide parking space than the curbside allows them. Nothing like swerving into 45 mph traffic to avoid them.

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    • Sel January 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm

      Oh, and that’s when I actually HAVE a bike lane. Past 122nd it’s every man for themselves on gravel.

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  • Sal January 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I think it’s naive to assume that everyone who drives a car is familiar with 100% of the state and vehicle codes (e.g., try crossing a street at an intersection where the crosswalk isn’t painted in). In the spirit of communication rather than confrontation, how about at least painting the curbs yellow where curbs exist. If no curbs, then signs.

    And yeah, that all costs $$$. Maybe instead of building lots of poor quality bike lanes, the city could focus on improving the ones we have first.

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    • matt picio January 26, 2011 at 11:00 am

      In the spirit of safety, how about beefing up the licensing requirements for motorists? A 10-question quiz every 4-8 years just isn’t cutting it.

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      • Opus the Poet January 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm

        Yes, what puzzles me is that when I was flying I had to demonstrate my abilities every 2 years and also pass an oral test for the changes in laws in the previous 2 years, but I only had to take one test in my life for driving, unless I moved to another state.

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  • cold worker January 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    this happens on denver in kenton. people going to the liquor store. people double park in the bike lane to rush in and get booze before they close, before the game, etc.

    also; portland needs to get serious about parking violations and issuing tickets. this includes people who park facing the wrong direction on streets. this is a huge issue with me. people pulling away from the curb, facing me in my lane as they accelerate to enter their correct lane of travel is not ok. it’s not legal and it shouldn’t be accepted.

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    • CaptainKarma January 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm

      You would think this would be a self-financing department. The more ticket writers, the more tickets written, the more revenue.

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      • cold worker January 27, 2011 at 3:06 pm

        agreed. i’ve talked via email and with parking enforcement downtown about why neighborhoods are a free for all when it comes to parking. they always say they don’t prioritize it. but there are literally thousands and thousands of potential dollars in tickets at any time of the day waiting to be issued. where i’m sitting now i can see 4 improperly parked cars. on my block alone.

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  • Liz January 25, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I have PBOT’s Parking Enforcement hotline on speedial in my phone. So should you!

    503 823 5195

    Anytime a car is blocking the bike lane, or the sidewalk, I call it.

    And it really IS a hotline! Parking enforcement really do respond in realtime when you call the number.

    There have been times I have called in a violation, walked past the offending vehicle just 10 or 15 minutes later, and found it slapped with a parking ticket!

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    • maxadders January 25, 2011 at 8:37 pm

      Awesome, I’m totally adding this to my phone.

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  • Ed January 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    At 7pm I called the police to report the north williams blockage last night and they said they already sent out dispatches to check. And they told me they received several calls.

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  • Liz January 25, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    PS – I do also sympathize with some less-smart folks who might mistake a bikelane for a parking lane.

    Bikelanes are sometimes abysmally marked here in Portland. A bike stencil every two blocks is not going to cut it. You need a bike lane stencil every single block. How else are motorists going to know what it is?

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    • David January 25, 2011 at 4:58 pm

      I can see your point. On the other hand, maybe we should require people to actually think a little more when driving.

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      • jim January 25, 2011 at 9:10 pm

        you cant assume that every white line is a bike lane. white lines have been around for quite a long time with no reference to bikes. With no bike signs it is not a bike lane.

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    • Andrew January 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      In agree. For instance, total pass to people who constantly pull up behind parked cars in the cycletrack section of SW Broadway. That’s a nutso configuration that is never-before-seen for most downtown commuters.

      We should have avoided all the ludicrous confusion, left Broadway alone and made 9th Ave through all downtown a bike boulevard shut down to motor vehicle traffic.

      All you who drive downtown: would you miss it? I thought not.

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  • Steve B January 25, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I’m always amazed at how easy it is for people driving to Blazers games to park for free on these neighborhood streets. If the city wants revenue, it can have it by using parking zones and meters in East Portland.

    I’ll keep calling in the violations, and look forward to the day when the city takes a proactive approach to parking enforcement.

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  • Steve B January 25, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    The other question I have is, since they are technically blocking a travel lane, shouldn’t these cars have been towed ASAP?

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  • jonesey January 25, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Here’s another perspective and my experience from Eugene, which is a little more laid back than Portland.

    There was an intersection where the city moved some lanes around, restriping the bike lane, which led to confusion about where it was OK to park. Cars routinely parked where they *had always parked*, but now they were blocking the bike lane. It wasn’t entirely the fault of the drivers; bad traffic engineering was partly to blame.

    I e-mailed the Public Works hotline for reporting road problems, asking them to restripe the bike lane or paint the curb yellow to shrink the parking zone. I gave them a polite week to fix the problem, then I started calling the police (our parking hotline) every time I passed the intersection. I suspect that the cops put a little heat on the public works folks, since the intersection was restriped (nicely) within a few days.

    I was polite and respectful in all of my contacts. People were making honest mistakes, and I just wanted the situation fixed. I’m sensing the same vibe in many of these comments and in the original post, and I think it’s the right way to go. Focus on solving the problem, not on punishment, as the first remedy.

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  • Matti January 25, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    The Charthouse restaurant on SW Terwilliger near Capitol Highway is a flagrant violator of the bike lane during holiday evenings when they are heavily booked. They have a parking lot which is insufficient for big nights. Their valet parking attendants run the cars out onto Terwilliger and park next to the curb eliminating the bike lane. They even put up orange traffic cones, as if this justifies the action. I have brought this up with the valets and they just shrug. It seems to me that if you are having that kind of business, you can rent some space in nearby Hillsdale or OHSU and get a shuttle system working.

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  • maxadders January 25, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Ha! I saw the headline and immediately thought of the minivan I encountered, parked in the bike lane, last night at Williams and Hancock.

    I’ve got a couple years of commuting that stretch under my belt (although not since 2008) and I’ve never seen such a blatant parking gaffe.

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  • J January 26, 2011 at 5:02 am

    Wow, only 2 locations. In NYC, cars parking in bike lanes is a problem basically on every bike lane that exists. It’s so bad that we’ve basically given up hope of clearing standard bike lanes and begun creating physically protected bike lanes, which, in my opinion, work much much better.

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  • G Man January 26, 2011 at 6:24 am

    When THEY break the law bust’em. When WE break the law ignore it. That’s my motto.

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    • El Biciclero January 26, 2011 at 9:40 am

      When THEY put me in danger, bust’em. When I put THEM in danger…Oh, wait…

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  • El Biciclero January 26, 2011 at 9:37 am

    What I don’t understand: If there is a curbside bike lane that drivers don’t recognize as a bike lane, why are there not any “NO PARKING” signs? Why isn’t there a yellow curb? Why aren’t there signs that say “TOW AWAY ZONE”? Seems like in other areas that authorities or property owners actually CARE about keeping [parked-]car free, there are multiple signs and warnings, including citations of ORS and fine amounts…but not for bike lanes. How do drivers ever know not to just park in a curbside “car” lane? Do we need something other than the 4″/8″ stripe distinction? I don’t think even 2% of non-cyclists understand the difference (I’ve had people try to tell me that the crumbling 1-foot width of pavement on the shoulder of the road was a “bike lane”, and I’d better be “in” it).

    To me, the lack of warning signage indicates that bike lanes aren’t taken seriously as lanes of travel. Just as drivers don’t seem to care about parking there and blocking them, the city doesn’t seem to care about making it more clear that those drivers aren’t to be doing that. If I were paranoid, it would almost seem like this: to make the cyclists happy and look like benevolent lawmakers, we’ll make it illegal to park in bike lanes, BUT, we won’t clearly indicate where all the bike lanes are, and we won’t advertise the fact that it’s illegal to park there, and then we won’t ticket people for parking there, cuz, after all, they’re not that clearly marked and there are no warning signs, so how is anybody supposed to know not to park there?

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  • Jean January 26, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Ok, here’s my pet peeve, and it’s not just inside PDX. Cars pulled over to the side of the road (aka bike lanes) to make their cell phone calls. Then, I come riding along on my bike and am forced into 45 mph traffic while also watching the car. A parked car you know isn’t going to pull out on you. But, someone talking on their cell phone you really don’t know what they will do next.
    Is it that hard to wait a few minutes to make/take a phone call?

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    • CaptainKarma January 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm

      All bikes should have bells (or air horns). Get behind the car and let er rip. Sure ‘n b’gosh though, the bike will get the ticket for unnecessary honking….

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  • MinNY January 26, 2011 at 10:19 am

    “The problem as I see it, isn’t that people are simply jerks and don’t care about blocking a lane of travel that is reserved for the use of non-motorized vehicles — it’s more likely a lack of signage, enforcement of existing laws, and a general lack of awareness.”

    Funny. That’s the difference between Portland and NYC. Here, they know they’re parking in the bike lane and don’t care.

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  • mle January 26, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I noticed the 8 cars parked in the bike lane between NE Broadway and Hancock on Monday night during the Blazers game. And I called them in. 823-SAFE directs you to call Police Non-Emergency after hours when their office is closed. I called Non-Emergency with an ‘After Hours Parking Enforcement Request’. The dispatcher knew right where I was talking about and finished my sentence for me. They had obviously gotten a few calls about it. She told me an officer would be out. Its nice to hear they got ticketed, I wasn’t so sure it would happen, but thought I had to do it.

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  • tonyt January 26, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    My experience with parking enforcement has been great. I’ve had them show up within the hour on multiple occasions.

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  • Freeman January 26, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Many drivers will park against the flow in order to get that ‘perfect’ spot…(ie, right in front of their home or work)…this endangers all roadway users both while they are parking and while leaving said spot….at the very least extremely annoying…at worst, deadly. The road flare idea is okay, but it encourages retribution, anti-biker backlash and criminal charges….if these violators were made to suffer a slight inconvienance….(parking boot – keep ‘em there untill an officer frees them?)…my favorite, remove the valve stem cores from 2 of the 4 tires…(only one spare)…and they have to call for Les Schawbb rescue truck…for a .50 cent part….no damage, minor theft…zero guilt. Major headache for the ‘parker’ in question. http://www.ride-this.com/index.php/rema-tip-top-4in1-valve-core-remover.html

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  • John January 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

    Should pedestrians wear license plates?

    Nope. Our society has not yet decided that feet are to be considered vehicles… but we have decided that bicycles are vehicles.

    So you’re willing to give up an essential liberty – traveling without having to get permission from the Government – over a silly label like “vehicle”?

    Cars are registered and their drivers are licensed because they are large, fast and dangerous, and there is a greater government interest in preserving people’s freedom to not get smashed by incompetent operators. Bicycles are none of those things, and do not need registration or licensing.

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  • maxadders January 26, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    There’s still a car parked in the bike lane at N WIlliams and Hancock, at least a whole day later. Looked like it had a number of tickets– but the fact that it remains there 24+ hours later is unacceptable.

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    • cold worker January 26, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      oh, i didn’t see this. yeah, how long does it have to sit there before it’s towed? how fast would it be towed if parked in a lane on sandy? or any other street? this would not fly.

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    • velokitten January 29, 2011 at 8:52 am

      Here’s a thought: ride around it.

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  • Stig10 January 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I got cutoff in the bike lane on E Burnside this afternoon when a pickup pulled over when a passenger had to step out to puke. That’s a new one for me.

    And pssst, the Gresham-Fairview Trail is now open from Halsey to the Springwater BTW which is where I was headed.

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  • CaptainKarma January 26, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Seems to me I saw piles of rails parked in the bike lane somewhere near Lloyd Center. Maybe it was a dream, I don’t get over that way much. Anybody?

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  • Paul Johnson January 26, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    We can solve this the same way the Germans solved drunk driving: First offense, lifetime ban from driving, car goes to crusher.

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    • Joseph January 28, 2011 at 7:24 am

      +1

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  • cold worker January 26, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    anyone cruise up williams today around 3? just south of, hmmm, south of tillamook for sure, there was a car parked in the bike lane with a ticket on the windshield.

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  • Paul Tay January 27, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Parking Nazi on Patrol, baby!

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  • El Biciclero January 27, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    The basic problem here is that most non-riders do not even consider the bike lane to be a travel lane. Parking in bike lanes is only one problem. Construction blockages due to signs placed in the bike lane, construction materials stored there, and construction/maintenance vehicles parked there, are another fairly large issue at times. Drivers “merging” into the bike lane or blindly turning across it is another big issue many cyclists have. Drivers pulling out from driveways into the bike lane while they wait for a hole in car traffic is another one. All of the above would be 98% solved if only everyone considered bike lanes to be actual, legit lanes of travel. Drivers would look before turning across a bike lane–just like (we assume) they do for “car” lanes into which they want to merge. Construction crews would put out cones or designate alternate routes or lane markings–or at least put up an advance warning sign(!!!!!)–when a bike lane was blocked ahead. Drivers looking to park would no more park in a bike lane than they would double-park in a “car” lane. All we have to do is make bike lanes unmistakably recognizable, and then change society’s attitude toward them…(that was a joke).

    Unfortunately, most drivers completely disregard cyclists and their safety as though we were clouds in the sky–not worthy of a first thought, let alone a second.

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  • Robert E January 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    People regularly park in the bike lane in front of my house. It’s stepped away from the curb to allow parking, but about 20 feet from the corner it cuts back in. I park as far forward as I can without my wheels going onto the line, but people are always parking in front of me, sometime blocking me in, and always blocking the bike lane. For the last few weeks there have been a flurry of tickets being written for unregistered vehicles in the neighborhood, but as far as I know not one has been written for this much more potentially dangerous violation.

    One note to local cyclists- please don’t hit my rear-view mirrors just because they might be hanging over into the bike lane a couple of inches. I follow the rules out of respect for cyclists. I would appreciate the same consideration!

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    • Paul Johnson January 27, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      While vandalizing a car is clearly out of line, it’s not just your wheels that have to be out of the lane, but the entire vehicle. Fold your mirrors in.

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      • Robert E January 27, 2011 at 5:44 pm

        Thanks for the info. I will definitely do that from now on!

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  • Atbman January 27, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Portland Bike Trials co-operative to the rescue.

    “Ttyre tracks on car roofs mystery!” headline news in The Oregonian.

    “Green ETs using bikes to abduct drivers” (National Enquirer)

    You mean Little Green Men? NO, I mean ecologically aware ETs.

    Sorry, keep forgetting the medication

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  • Paul Johnson January 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    David M
    I’m not trying to pile on drivers here, but the idea that they just didn’t know it was a bike lane or that you shouldn’t park there is pretty weak in this city.

    You woefully underestimate the number of Californians in Portland and the narcissism of Californians, and grossly overestimate their ability to learn.

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  • lisa January 27, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Uh, isn’t Jonathan a Californian? Stereotype much?

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    • Paul Johnson January 27, 2011 at 5:27 pm

      I see you’ve never lived in western California, or in Oregon prior to the Californication of the 1990s.

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  • Ivana Tinkle January 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Since the new cellphone law, I’ve noticed alot of people parked in the bike lane to talk on the phone.
    Annoying!!

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    • Paul Johnson January 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm

      Interrupt their call and remind them that stopping in the bike lane is as dangerous and illegal as driving while on the phone.

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    • jim January 30, 2011 at 10:32 am

      maybe you should stop your bike in the car lane so you can talk on your cell phone and not hold up bike traffic?

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