Posted by Will Vanlue (Contributor) on December 22nd, 2011 at 12:37 pm
(Photos: Will Vanlue)
As I was out riding this morning I passed by what is unfortunately a common sight in Tigard: landscaping trucks blocking the bike lane on Durham Road. What made today's incident different was that a Tigard Police car was sitting almost directly across the road from where the trucks were illegally parked.
"Officers have a fair amount of discretion... [they] try to give [landscapers] some leeway...as long as they're not actively blocking the flow of traffic."
— Sgt. Brad Sitton, Tigard Police
I pulled into the driveway where the officer was parked and as he rolled down his window. I asked if I was correct that the trucks across the street were parked illegally. The man inside, who later identified himself as Officer Enzenberger, told me that, "Yes, technically that's illegal but they're only there temporarily."
When I asked him what he could do to address the hazardous situation he said he understood my concern "as a cyclist" but "unfortunately" he wasn't going to take action because, again, they were only temporarily blocking the bike lane and sidewalk.
Officer Enzenberger confirmed that the landscapers had been parked there at least for the 10 minutes he had been parked at the location. Shortly after our conversation he pulled his patrol car out of the driveway across from the landscapers. I remained for another 5 or so minutes as the landscapers continued to load debris into their truck. They were still working as I rode away.
After a call to Washington County's non-emergency dispatch to get some clarification around an officer's ability to address these type of situations, I was contacted by Sergeant Brad Sitton of the Tigard Police.
When I asked what the policy was regarding vehicles illegally blocking the bike lane and sidewalk, Sitton told me that there was no official policy but "officers have a fair amount of discretion" and they usually "try to give [landscapers] some leeway...as long as they're not actively blocking the flow of traffic."
I pointed out that there had been bicycle traffic in the brief time I was at the scene (it wasn't just me on my bike) and the area is frequently used by families and people from retirement communities in the area. We also discussed how there are side streets nearby and although they don't allow motor vehicles access on to Durham, there is plenty of room for someone — like these landscapers — to walk through with a garbage can and tools to pick up leaves.
Sitton repeated that in situations like this officers are supposed to use their best judgement as to how to "maintain the public's safety."
— Will Vanlue, will[at]bikeportland.org