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PBOT announces location of first distracted driving enforcement action

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 14th, 2011 at 5:46 pm

The City of Portland has announced the first location for enhanced enforcement of distracted driving. PBOT will work with the Portland Police Bureau to conduct an "enforcement mission" at the intersection of SW Barbur Boulevard, SW Taylors Ferry Road, and SW 41st Avenue this coming Wednesday (7/20).

The effort is part of the "StreetSmart: Go Safe" campaign, that PBOT launched last month.

PBOT data shows that this intersection is a high-crash location. It was also selected because of citizen complaints of motor vehicle operators disobeying the "No Turn on Red" and driving in bike lanes to maneuver around stopped cars.

The enforcement action will take place from 5-7:00 pm. PBOT has also unveiled a new website for the StreetSmart campaign.

This heightened enforcement effort comes as a just-released Federal Highway Administration study showed that two distracted driving enforcement — when coupled with an awareness campaign — showed significant reductions in cell phone use and texting while driving.

See PBOT's new StreetSmart website for more details on this campaign.

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  • Chris I July 14, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Is there a law or policy saying they have to announce these activities? Seems like it ruins the element of surprise...

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 14, 2011 at 5:53 pm

      No law, it's just their adopted policy. They say the point isn't to give out a bunch of tickets, but rather, to raise awareness of the issue.

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    • marshmallow July 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      These enforcement actions are supposed to raise awareness among all drivers everywhere, not just the ones that happened to get caught at that spot on that day -- like how they announce for ladd circle. Sure it'd be nice to see folks get surprise tickets, but that wouldn't help up public safety and magnify compliance, though the effectiveness of these actions is debatable.

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      • Bike Right July 19, 2011 at 10:12 am

        Drivers? As in anyone operating a vehicle that moves? I rely daily, not to mention heavily that all vehicles big and small out on the cities roads to comply with the ordinances concerning the movement of traffic. So far the more distracted are the other cyclist around me with their South Park like "I Can What I Want!" attitude. Ok fine but please don't hit me you silly scofflaws! Bike Right.

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    • captainkarma July 14, 2011 at 6:22 pm

      A. there will still be no shortage of fools getting caught
      B. I think it helps make a more airtight case against those who would say "entrapment".

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      • John Mulvey July 14, 2011 at 7:17 pm

        I'm not sure what people think "entrapment" means, but I'd love to witness some poor sap trying to raise the issue in court.

        "As I approached the corner, the officer was standing by the side of the road, writing tickets for every car that ran that stopsign. His lights were flashing and there were orange flags and a big sign that said "Enforcement Action."

        I also read about the action in the paper that day and saw it on tv the night before and heard about it at work.

        Believe me, Judge Judy, I normally stop at that corner, but that day, the Police Bureau FORCED me to blow right through it!"

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  • marshmallow July 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Someone should be standing at the previous corner with a phone strapped to their head with a giant rubber band and swerving all over the place as a pantomime driver.

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  • Hugh Johnson July 14, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    I'm just glad they are doing SOMETHING. I still see so much phone abuse in cars.

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  • captainkarma July 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    The only way for this to be effective is for it to happen regularly, like at least once a week every week. That's not even enough. People will just play the odds if they don't believe they will be busted consistently. It's just so hard to give up that constant chatting about who said what to who, what are you going to wear tonight, and such more important stuff than my life or permanent injury. Sigh. Cell co's need to go back to charging by the minute, that *might* help, a little.

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    • John Mulvey July 14, 2011 at 7:18 pm

      Rampant lack of compliance breeds even more noncompliance.

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  • simon July 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    ride your bike by to show support

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    • marshmallow July 14, 2011 at 7:11 pm

      You're nutz. That intersection is dangerous. Didn't you read the memo?

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  • Jeff July 14, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    "...and driving in bike lanes to maneuver around stopped cars."

    In Portland!? Never, I refuse to believe it.

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  • are July 14, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    hey, i am going to be biking through that very intersection tomorrow afternoon. a few days early, but maybe someone will be driving with a cell phone just for me.

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  • Jack July 15, 2011 at 6:34 am

    The idea of an announced enforcement action just seems to reinforce the idea that on any other day, you're probably not going to get a ticket for breaking the law.

    Still glad they're doing something, but I've yet to have anyone explain to me why we can't greatly ramp up enforcement of all traffic laws at all times. Shouldn't the enforcement effort pay for itself through citations? And if not, shouldn't we just raise the price of the citations to accurately reflect the crime's cost to society?

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    • wsbob July 15, 2011 at 11:29 am

      "...Still glad they're doing something, but I've yet to have anyone explain to me why we can't greatly ramp up enforcement of all traffic laws at all times. ..." Jack

      What's to explain? It costs money to use cops to work these details. This whole arrangement of rules of the road and traffic regulations hasn't been set up so cities can assign police officers to issue citations in some kind of far fetched revenue generating scheme.

      Communities pretty much have got to have some kind of roadway system. In order for that system to keep from turning into some kind of hell, people have to consciously, voluntarily make a decision to at least try to minimize distractions to to safe road use while they're using the road, whether it be in a vehicle, on a bike, or on foot.

      Presently, human cops in cars doing these details seems to be one of the most practical ways to get the reminder out to road users, that they've got to try not allow themselves to be distracted. Maybe in future, in-car monitors will keep an eye on people's activities as they drive their vehicles. Visual display panels and audio might be activated when the monitors see the people stuffing their face with burgers, yakking on the cell phone, whacking the kids, generally being distracted.

      The 'On-board Friend' would announce 'Knock that off and keep your eyes on the road!'. If that warning didn't work... .

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      • Jack July 15, 2011 at 11:40 am

        I know enforcement costs money. What I'm asking is why can't that enforcement effort pay for itself. If we as a society decide that speeding should be illegal, why can't we employ as many people as it takes to enforce that law, and then set the price of a speeding ticket high enough to pay for that enforcement?

        Your response is the response I often get, "enforcement is too expensive." But, no one ever explains why we can't set the price of citations to match the cost of enforcement. That way it doesn't cost anything for the law-abiding public and we all get the safer streets we desire.

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        • wsbob July 15, 2011 at 1:57 pm

          "...What I'm asking is why can't that enforcement effort pay for itself. .." Jack

          I believe that basically, the idea of adjusting citation amounts to directly cover costs of enforcement, is contrary to the purpose of traffic law enforcement. With citation amounts, all we, as a society, community, are seeking to do, is encourage people using the roads, to become more alert, conscientious, responsible drivers, bikers, and walkers. That's so our roads can be part of a livable, usable community, instead of something like roads in the movie, Road Warrior.

          Too direct a connection between costs of enforcement and citation amounts allowed could invite corruption and dysfunction into traffic enforcement; example: speed traps that some towns have been found to use as a way of balancing the municipal budge. Some citations are already expensive enough. What is it for blowing a stop sign? ? Between $200-300?

          For some people, the citation amount will be part of an adequate deterrent against future violations. Other people have so much surplus money, that the money wouldn't be any deterrent at all to future violations. Charge the latter more money though, to cover enforcement costs, and watch the cries of 'UNFAIR', come forth.

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  • bumblebee July 15, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
    No law, it's just their adopted policy. They say the point isn't to give out a bunch of tickets, but rather, to raise awareness of the issue.

    Then the whole thing sounds like a publicity stunt. "Raise awareness"? How many car owners have been living in a cave?

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    • marshmallow July 15, 2011 at 10:11 am

      Not a cave, a cage. Free bears live in caves, trapped ones in cages.

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  • Spiffy July 15, 2011 at 9:13 am

    So a cop will be sitting on their butt waiting for somebody to come by them breaking a specific law that they feel like enforcing at the time?

    Business as usual.

    I wish I had a car so I could drive by with a candy cell phone to my head just to prove what a waste of their time this is.

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  • brian July 15, 2011 at 10:39 am

    The FIRST enforcement action for distracted driving. the FIRST! Disgusting. Distracted driving is something that kills many more Americans than terrorism. Wish people would take this more seriously.

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  • david July 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    why don't they ever do sting operations for bike theft.

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  • Roger Averbeck July 16, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Anybody posting above actually visited or rode through this intersection lately? If not, come on out to my neighborhood this Wed. July 20, 5 - 7 pm, or any weekday pm peak rush hour, let me know, I'll meet you there and we can have a good discussion.

    For more info on the enforcement action:

    http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=40390&a=355663

    For a closer look at the intersection:

    http://www.portlandmaps.com/detail.cfm?action=Photo&propertyid=&state_id=&address_id=&intersection_id=74834&dynamic_point=0&x=7632831.132&y=659614.514&place=SW%20BARBUR%20BLVD%20%26%20%20BARBUR%20TC%20&city=PORTLAND&neighborhood=MULTNOMAH&seg_id=150950%2C194519&Year=2010&Size=2%27&StreetAnno=no&AddressPoint=No&Taxlots=No

    This is right next to the Barbur Transit Center and the excellent Barbur World Foods market, within the "West Portland Crossroads", a Metro designated town center that remains auto centric; not far from Capitol Hwy, where a fatal pedestrian crash occurred in Sept. 2010.

    ODOT & PBOT are cooperating on a safety evaluation of the area, some improvements are complete, others are ongoing or planned such as a curb extension or the location in the air photo (white van using the bike lane as a right turn lane).

    roger.averbeck@gmail.com

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    • Pete July 16, 2011 at 10:07 am

      The white van may be using the bike lane to turn, but my understanding of Oregon law is you are supposed to have your wheels as far to the curb as possible on a right turn, and the bike lane may be used for this as long as no cyclists are present. In California the law actually states the distance drivers are supposed to start moving to the right (and merging with cyclists present) and the fog lines become dashed here to denote that. I remember there was debate over changing the Oregon law to mirror the California law when I lived up there because it was such a grey area. When I took Ray Thomas's class there was discussion on driving in the bike lane - it is technically not illegal.

      Can anyone in the know correct me or add insight? Thx.

      P.S. I like the way it works here in Cali, actually. The dashed merge lines seem to add legitimacy to me merging or taking the lane when approaching a red light to allow drivers to turn to the right of me. In Oregon I would sometimes get honked at (once told to "get on the sidewalk") when doing that. Here it seems part of normal traffic flow to ride nearer or on or even over the fog line at right turns, an assertion technique that seems to reduce right hookage (in my experience anyway).

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      • wsbob July 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

        "The white van may be using the bike lane to turn, but my understanding of Oregon law is you are supposed to have your wheels as far to the curb as possible on a right turn, and the bike lane may be used for this as long as no cyclists are present. ..." Pete

        Here's what I understand: Oregon's laws relating to use of bike lanes do not allow people operating motor vehicles to merge into bike lanes as part of a right turn maneuver. That's why Oregon's bike lanes, as they approach intersections, are solid rather than dashed. An interest in reducing the possibility of right hooks is why Oregon doesn't have the dashed bike lanes at intersections that Cali has decided to use.

        In Oregon, when the proposed design of a bike lane ending at an intersection poses a significant problem for persons operating motor vehicles in negotiating right turns, traffic engineers will end the bike lane some distance back from the intersection, accompanied by signs informing road users 'Bike Lane Ends'. This traffic management strategy has some problems...it means people riding bikes have got to go through the process of merging into the main travel to travel through the intersection or lead up to a right turn.

        I did a very brief search to find a Ray Thomas/Swanson-Thomas-Coon article that touches on what you're thinking of (it's an old article...'98, but info may still be valid):

        http://www.stc-law.com/bikelanes.html

        He cites the following Oregon statute:

        ORS 811.440 provides as follows:

        A person may operate a motor vehicle upon a bicycle lane when:
        (a) Making a turn;
        (b) Entering or leaving an alley, private road or driveway; or
        (c) Required in the course of official duty.
        An implement of husbandry may momentarily cross into a bicycle lane to permit other vehicles to overtake and pass the implement of husbandry.

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  • wsbob July 16, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Okay...after having posted, and looked at the ORS again, let me step back a bit from what I just wrote.

    ORS 811.440 in part, says: "A person may operate a motor vehicle upon a bicycle lane when:
    (a) Making a turn; ..."

    So that wording is vague enough to perhaps allow people to interpret that it allows people operating motor vehicles in the process of right turns, to cut a radius across the bike lane where it meets the intersection.

    Personally, I'd disagree with such an interpretation. If there's a solid line, motor vehicle operators are supposed to stay out of the bike lane in a road-to-road turn. Interesting: (a) may be associated with another vague element of Oregon law having to do with the presence/question of existence of bike lanes in intersections, where bike lanes don't have lines indicating presence.

    So if, as I imagine many people do, it's assumed that bike lanes exist in intersections, motor vehicle operators could "...operate a motor vehicle upon a bicycle lane when: (a) Making a turn; ...", in a road-to-road situation...in the intersection itself. Not though, across the solid line of the bike lane on the road they're traveling prior to the intersection.

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  • Paul Johnson July 17, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Glad to see they're finally doing something about driving while Californian, even if it does seem a tad bit "too little too late"

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