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Man cited for 'impeding traffic' during Pedalpalooza ride

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 13th, 2012 at 11:06 am

Kevin Stone's ticket.

During the BikeBOT Radio Ride on Monday night, Kevin Stone received a citation for impeding traffic. The ride is part of Pedalpalooza, a nearly month-long celebration of bicycling that includes hundreds of group rides.

Stone was approached by a Portland Police officer at 7:45 pm as he straddled his bike in the intersection of SE 34th and Belmont. The officer cited him for violating ORS 811.130, "Impeding traffic". Stone was fined $110. That statute reads (in part):

"A person commits the offense of impeding traffic if the person drives a motor vehicle or a combination of motor vehicles* in a manner that impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of traffic" [*Note that ORS 814.400 applies vehicle laws to bicycles.]

I happened to be on the ride, but had peeled off just a few blocks before Stone was pulled over. Stone contacted me after the ride to share his version of what happened. Turns out he was "corking" an intersection (when riders hold up cross traffic in order to let a larger group of riders stay together and safety pass through) and one of the vehicles he held up happened to be driven by a Portland Police Officer.

Here's Stone's version of what happened:

"Our group was riding south on SE 34th Ave, and I believe the whole group got caught at the light. I was midway back in the pack, and as folks were riding though the intersection it became clear to me that the group would not all make it through under the green light. In the interest of the safety of individuals in the group I slowed to a stop at the head of the eastbound lane of Belmont, and straddled my bike while the last of the pack came filing through the intersection. There was a second corker in the westbound lane.

As the last individual passed the midpoint of the intersection I waved to the several cars backed up, and mouthed "thank you."

Immediately, Officer N. Phothivongsa (who I believe was the second or third car backed up at the intersection) pulled in front of me, blocking both the westbound lane of Belmont and the southbound lane of 34th. I stopped immediately. and waited
for the officer to exit his car. He asked me what authority I had to block the intersection, and I told him that wasn't really the issue. He asked for my ID, I gave it to him, and was told that I was not free to leave.

Officer Phothivongsa made a number of comments, mostly in the form of rhetorical questions that I chose not to answer. He repeatedly hit on three themes during this lecture: that my action was not acceptable, that I had inconvenienced the automobile drivers, and that in an collision with a car, that the car would "win." He told me repeatedly that he could take me to jail, and after an eventual inquiry, said he could charge me with Disorderly Conduct 2. He asked me repeatedly if I wanted to go to jail, and if I thought "it was worth going to jail for." I eventually told him that I did not want to go to jail. I probably said less than 30 words during our conversation of roughly ten minutes.

He wrote me a citation, suggested that he was cutting me a break by not taking me to jail, and for only citing me for a violation. I tired of his lecture and requested my ID and the citation. He was very clear at the end of our interaction that he wanted me to "tell my friends" that behavior such as I exhibited was not allowed, and would not be tolerated. I have not had many interactions with Portland Police during the many years I've lived in the city, but would say that I was not treated with the level of courtesy and respect that I have come to expect from Portland Police officers."

The way Stone tells it, this is an unfortunate situation.

Pedalpalooza Kickoff Ride 2009-28
Corker.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Managing the flow of group rides is done without incident about 99.9% of the time. In fact, during the many group rides and parades I've been a part of, I have never heard of someone being cited for corking traffic. Yes, sometimes words are exchanged and tempers flare between the people waiting and the person corking, but it's usually handled with calm heads and smiles all around. Obviously the practice of holding up cross-traffic to let a group of people roll through a red light is illegal; but it also happens to be much safer. Without corking, rides would split up into many tiny groups and chaos would reign. When a group stays together, it seems to work much better from a safety standpoint (which is why police themselves do it on rides that have police escorts).

It's also worth noting that in 2009, the PPB released an internal training video directed at officers about "common bike enforcement situations" and how to use discretion in enforcing the law. The video had an entire section on "themed group rides" (beginning at 6:28 or so). The video specifically mentioned Pedalpalooza. Here's a snip narrated by a PPB officer:

"At first these groups may look like a protest or Critical Mass... But they are often nothing like Critical Mass. These are semi-organized processions of good humored funseekers who don't want confrontation of law enforcement... Your goal should be safe and efficient movement of these large groups with minimal disruption to other modes of traffic... To move groups through intersections... require group to obey traffic lights... That might break the group up but that avoids what has been a volatile clash point... But if you feel the goal is better served by blocking cross traffic you also have have discretion... Officers who need to alter the behavior of a group ride might first attempt to communicate with a ride leader about their concerns..."

It's important to understand that corking can be abused. According to an expert I spoke to for this story, smaller rides (this one had only about 50 or so people) shouldn't always be corked. If not everyone makes it through the green light, there's nothing wrong with the front group pulling over and waiting for everyone else. Once rides get into the 150-200 person range (filling an entire blockface and then some), corking is generally seen as more of an imperative (and therefore more likely to be accepted without incident by people held up by it).

The issue also falls onto the shoulders of ride leaders. It's helpful if ride leaders announce at the start of a ride whether they'll be corking or not (and have designated corkers identified). Shift, the group behind Pedalpalooza, has done ride leader trainings; but that's an effort still in its infancy.

In years past, people from the community have met with PPB officers to discuss what to expect during Pedalpalooza. That hasn't happened in a few years, so perhaps it's time to restart that dialogue.

It's too bad this incident occurred. Let's use it as a reminder to be smart, be aware, and be as courteous as possible out there.

Can some experienced corkers share their insights and experiences?

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  • 9watts June 13, 2012 at 11:11 am

    "Immediately, Officer N. Phothivongsa (who I believe was the second or third car backed up at the intersection) pulled in front of me, blocking both the westbound lane of Belmont and the southbound lane of 34th."

    Too bad there wasn't anyone to write Officer P a ticket. According to the story, he held up traffic for far longer (ten minutes?) than did Mr. Stone, and with (in my view) less reason.

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    • Pete June 13, 2012 at 11:24 am

      But the officer had Authoritay...

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      • oskarbannks June 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm

        Rookie perhaps?

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      • Spiffy June 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

        it doesn't say he was in a police car... sounds like he was in his private car and acted like he was driving a police car, in essence breaking the very law he hoped to enforce...

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  • craig harlow June 13, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Can we get a statement from PPB? This seems out of step with the police training video from 2009:

    http://bikeportland.org/2009/10/07/portland-police-release-new-bicycle-traffic-enforcement-training-video-24349

    It directs officers to use discretion in deciding whether safety is better served by corking.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

      thanks for reminding me about that Craig. I'll add this into the story.

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      • Lance P. June 13, 2012 at 12:33 pm

        Please let us know when you hear back.

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  • dan June 13, 2012 at 11:24 am

    How does this citation apply to a bicycle?

    "A person commits the offense of impeding traffic if the person drives a motor vehicle or a combination of motor vehicles in a manner that impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of traffic."

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    • daisy June 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      Oregon Bicycle Law 101
      Or, more specifically, ORS 814.400:

      814.400
      Application of vehicle laws to bicycles
      (1) Every person riding a bicycle upon a public way is subject to the provisions applicable to and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle concerning operating on highways, vehicle equipment and abandoned vehicles, except:
      (a) Those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.
      (b) When otherwise specifically provided under the vehicle code.
      (2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section:
      (a) A bicycle is a vehicle for purposes of the vehicle code; and
      (b) When the term vehicle is used the term shall be deemed to be applicable to bicycles.
      (3) The provisions of the vehicle code relating to the operation of bicycles do not relieve a bicyclist or motorist from the duty to exercise due care. [1983 c.338 §697; 1985 c.16 §335]

      http://bikeportland.org/resources/bicyclelaws#814400

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      • are June 13, 2012 at 1:15 pm

        usually that statute is cited to confirm that "vehicle" includes bike, but i have not (until just now) seen it cited as suggesting that "motor vehicle" includes bike.

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        • daisy June 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm

          Yeah, I wrote a clarification comment below.

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  • Travis June 13, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I like the idea of standards for corking on rides: 40-50 people no, 50+, yes. It's also important for ride leaders to be clear about the issue, I was on a ride whose leader said we would wait after red lights for the rest of the group, but it wasn't clearly stated that we wouldn't be corking intersections and it ended up happening.
    It comes back around to representing people on bicycles as being respectful, especially when so many rides are going on and people in cars have more opportunities to come in contact with large rides. It's also a great gesture of inclusiveness when a group waits for others and doesn't force individuals to choose between going through a red light (which is anxiety provoking for some) or being left behind.

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  • Mark June 13, 2012 at 11:24 am

    "if the person drives a motor vehicle or a combination of motor vehicles"

    Does not apply. Citation dismissed.

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    • Allan Folz June 13, 2012 at 11:32 am

      But then you've got that Disorderly 2 to contend with.<sarc>

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  • peejay June 13, 2012 at 11:26 am

    One small point: we were headed northbound, not south.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Just so folks know, just because an ORS says "motor vehicle" it doesn't mean bicycles don't have to follow the same law. See

    http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.400

    Every person riding a bicycle upon a public way is subject to the provisions applicable to and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle concerning operating on highways, vehicle equipment and abandoned vehicles, except:

    (a) Those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.

    (b) When otherwise specifically provided under the vehicle code.

    (2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section:

    (a) A bicycle is a vehicle for purposes of the vehicle code; and

    (b) When the term vehicle is used the term shall be deemed to be applicable to bicycles.

    (3) The provisions of the vehicle code relating to the operation of bicycles do not relieve a bicyclist or motorist from the duty to exercise due care. [1983 c.338 §697; 1985 c.16 §335]

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    • Zach June 13, 2012 at 11:40 am

      A bike is usually a "vehicle" when ridden on the road, but it is never a "motor vehicle" unless it has a motor attached.

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      • 9watts June 13, 2012 at 11:44 am

        I have to agree with Zach's logic. Maybe we could get to the bottom of this? The code didn't say vehicle, but 'motor vehicle.' If the code is as you interpret it, Jonathan, then the word 'vehicle' would be the right term here, not 'motor vehicle.'

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    • Mark June 13, 2012 at 11:46 am

      "(b) When the term vehicle is used the term shall be deemed to be applicable to bicycles."

      Except the term used was motor vehicle, not vehicle.

      I've defended myself in court here in Portland for a citation of "Following too closely," ORS 811.485, received while operating my bicycle on Hawthorne. The wording of that statute had recently been changed to specify "motor vehicle," and not just "vehicle." The judge ruled that the specific wording of the statute trumped the general wording of ORS 814.400.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 13, 2012 at 11:53 am

        yeah you guys are bringing up a good point. i was too quick with my comment. I'll try to get clarification and report back. thanks.

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      • Marlunette June 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm

        I was under the impression that when cyclists were fully dismounted and walking their bikes, they were legally pedestrians. Had Mr. Stone fully dismounted, would he have still been interpreted as a vehicle under the law?

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        • oskarbannks June 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm

          He would then only seen in the eyes of this Police officer as a dissident, scofflaw, or perhaps mentally ill, and been shot, tasered, or taken to jail if lucky. Clearly this officer was going to make a point. If only he was able to apply the logic provided for him by the training video contained in the link included in Craig Harlow's comment, this would more than likely had a different outcome. As for the cyclist in this situation, IMO your mistake was the opening dialog of "and I told him that wasn't really the issue." Big mistake, because you confused this person in uniform with someone who is logical.

          " Let them win their little wars"

          Charles Bukowski on cops.

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          • oskarbannks June 13, 2012 at 12:57 pm

            " be seen"

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        • Hart Noecker June 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm

          PPB have a habit of beating and arresting people for jaywalking or standing in the streets with their bicycles.

          http://www.pdxbikeswarm.org/?p=686

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    • benjdm June 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      Yes, it does mean that.

      801.360 defines motor vehicle: "Motor vehicle means a vehicle that is self-propelled or designed for self-propulsion. [1983 c.338 §62]" Bicycles are not self-propelled. If the law applied to all vehicles, it would not have specified motor vehicles.

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    • daisy June 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      Oops, I posted the ORS above without realizing Jonathan had just done the same.

      I went to a Ray Thomas cycling legal clinic a few weeks ago, and I have in hand "Pedal Power: A Legal Guide for Oregon Bicyclists" by Ray Thomas. This is the BTA publication.

      The note/explanation next to 814.400 in this book says, "Bicycles are vehicles too, and the same Rules of the Road apply except where 'motor' vehicles are the only type mentioned or 'nature' of the provision cannot apply to bicycles."

      So, thanks in advance for digging into this Jonathan.

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    • AdamG June 14, 2012 at 4:08 am

      Then what's this about:
      814.405¹
      Status of electric assisted bicycle
      An electric assisted bicycle shall be considered a bicycle, rather than a motor vehicle, for purposes of the Oregon Vehicle Code, except when otherwise specifically provided by statute.

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      • Nathanael June 15, 2012 at 1:24 pm

        It appears that the Potter court failed to read 814.405. Case of clear error by the Potter court. Pity the cyclist was unable to appeal further.

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  • jlhw June 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

    is there some way to donate to a ticket payment fund? it would be unfortunate for Mr. Stone to shoulder the whole burden of this arbitrary, unnecessary punishment

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  • Joe June 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

    whoa 110 bucks?

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  • TonyH June 13, 2012 at 11:54 am

    During my motorcycle period, it was explicitly pointed out that riding in a group does NOT grant one any special privilege(s). And this is difficult: which 'group' does one obey? The group with whom you are riding? Or the 'group' whose right-of-way you are blocking? Is the corker any more 'at fault' than then people streaming through the intersection?

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    • BURR June 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      the corker is just an easier target, but everyone else is failing to obey a traffic control device as well.

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    • Schrauf June 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      You're right, and as Jonathan says corking is illegal, but that is why officers are told to use discretion - often corking results in both the corkers and corkees getting to where they are going faster. Besides the obvious safety aspects.

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      • Kristen June 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm

        Forgive my ignorance. What are the "obvious safety aspects" of corking? How does it make cyclists safer?

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        • Matt M June 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm

          Corkers stop the cross traffic.

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          • Kristen June 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm

            And how is running a red light safer than waiting at the red light, letting cross traffic pass?

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            • 9watts June 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm

              Kristen,

              safety is a collective enterprise. Your description suggests this is about the individual and the color of the light. In the context of a group ride I don't think that is all there is to it.
              Think about the WNBR. Imagine no corking and what a mess that would be, how dangerous and confusing and un-fun for everyone. Now scale that back to a smaller but still sizable ride, say of 100 or 200 people. Keeping the flow of (bicycle) traffic flowing in a steady and orderly fashion is accomplished better with judicious corking. While there are variations on this theme (half of group waits on other side of intersection) this too has its own element of uncertainty and confusion, which I think elegant corking can ideally prevent.

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              • Kristen June 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm

                Thank you. I've participated in large rides and done a little corking myself, but always felt a bit uneasy not really knowing the rationale behind it.

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                • eric June 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm

                  I've been on a ride which was both a really large ride and one which as designated as "super legal" in that all the little cheats bikes do to make life easier for bikes and cars to work together were specifically foregone. So, everyone signalled, took the lane where appropriate, waited for lights, stopped at stop signs, did not cork, etc. Traffic was a total and complete snarled mess, with car backups lasting for blocks, bikes all over the place, and the cops watching and laughing at how legal things were and how messed up at the same time. Then the cops went and gave out some tickets to cars who got fed up and tried to go around. It was great fun, and the point was made that a lot of bikes all following the law are in fact a worse inconvenience for other vehicle traffic than accommodations for how bikes operate differently W.R.T to corking, shoaling, and treating stop signs as yield signs.

                  Also, this is a great idea for a ride in the broadway/wheeler area: Do a loop, and do the whole thing super legal one afternoon rush hour from 4-6. Just see what happens, and don't give the cops any reason to bust you.

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            • HAL9000 June 14, 2012 at 9:01 am

              Try to imagine a bike ride with 1,000 riders. With a car between every 5 cyclists, and everyone is trying to pass everyone else, so cars are veering into oncoming traffic, while cyclists get doored and children are run over and murdered by zombies.

              See, its just bad for everyone - end of the world stuff.

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        • matt picio June 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm

          Corkers allow the ride to move through the intersection quicker and stay as a group. In addition to the safety benefits inherent in being a large group instead of a few stragglers, the "super legal" rides done in Portland in the past proved that when a large ride obeys the letter of the law, the disruption to general traffic is longer in duration and greater in severity than if the ride was corked. It also prevents rides from getting split up when one segment makes turns with a later segment "stuck" at a light or stop sign.

          Corking is illegal, but it's a pretty widespread practice for larger rides due to the potential for inexperienced riders to get lost, separated from the group, or possibly violate a light/stop sign in an uncontrolled fashion to keep the group in sight. It's always been a contentious practice, and I suspect that to some extent the police don't like it because it resembles exactly what they do in parades which have been registered with the city. (aside from the law-breaking issue, which police never like)

          In previous years during Pedalpalooza, a number of us met with PPB people - Chief Reese (then Captain Reese), Captain Famous, Captain Hendricks, Lieutenant Parman, and others. Mostly that was for WNBR, but there was also a fair amount of talk revolving around the larger Pedalpalooza rides, and how to handle traffic issues. PPB has, in general, been very lenient about corking and very cooperative towards ride organizers, and there typically haven't been many issues. That said, corking has been identified as a point of concern, especially on the largest rides.

          I'm curious to know what the current head of traffic thinks regarding enforcement, and it might also be good to get the official word from Chief Reese.

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          • Will E. Portland June 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm

            Agreed. Last year at Bridge Pedal I was separated from 8 year old daughter at a friggen RED LIGHT. THEY MADE US STOP. Her first ride. I hollered at the officer - "MY DAUGHTER IS UP THERE!!!"

            Tough tomatoes. She'll be fine I was told. "We can't allow traffic to be impeded." People around me confused, but sympathetic, but assuring me it'll be OK. We'll catch up right. Can you even imagine? Parents? Help me out here.

            Yes, yes, we need a plan for separation. Officer won't let me through. Asking me about our plan. Does she have a cell phone? JHC. We know that now OK?

            She has a vision problem and is a bit self-absorbed so she's not going to notice we're back here... wayyyy back here.

            I had my 5 year old son with me - so I couldn't just break off and scofflaw.

            We were scared sh-tless OK? Fortunately she stopped like two bridges later with a nice family. Forgot how to use the brakes and crashed into a 13 year old.

            But comon y'all!!! I almost lose my daughter on a ride because we absolutely MUST not impede a red light during a MAJOR biking event!?!?!?

            Corking. Absolutely necessary. I say it shouldn't matter how many riders - but rather - what is the skill and speed and ability of the riders?

            The officer is doing his job. We need something here to help him and his fellows interpret the safety aspects.

            AND NEVER SHOULD A PARENT BE SEPARATED FROM THEIR CHILD ON ANY RIDE!!!

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            • JAT in Seattle June 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm

              that is a great illustrative story, and as a parent I can empathize with your panic, but (you knew that was coming, right?) even on big rides the cops are occasionally going to stop the bikes to let some other road users through - it's always going to happen.

              I think part of the PR problem these mirthful celebrations have with the motoring (and policing) components of society is that they appear to treat the roadways as a playground.

              Typing in all caps does not a moral imperative make: sometimes cops are going to stop the flow of bikes - plan for it accordingly.

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    • Pete June 18, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Except if the group is a funeral procession (i.e. ORS 811.804).

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  • Sunny June 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Obviously the officer was trying to intimidate as threatening disorderly conduct 2 to take the corker to jail is a misapplication of that statue.

    ORS 166.025

    (1) A person commits the crime of disorderly conduct in the second degree if, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, the person:

    Engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior;
    (b) Makes unreasonable noise;
    (c) Disturbs any lawful assembly of persons without lawful authority;
    (d) Obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic on a public way;
    (e) Congregates with other persons in a public place and refuses to comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse;
    (f) Initiates or circulates a report, knowing it to be false, concerning an alleged or impending fire, explosion, crime, catastrophe or other emergency; or
    (g) Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which the person is not licensed or privileged to do.
    (2) Disorderly conduct in the second degree is a Class B misdemeanor. [1971 c.743 §220; 1983 c.546 §5; 2001 c.104 §55; 2005 c.631 §1]

    The corker was not intending to inconvenience the drivers but was rather safely getting his ducks across the street, so to speak.

    Perhaps the officer perceived a silent citizen as a defiance to his AU-THOR-I-TAE!!!(cartman!)

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    • oskarbannks June 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      you forgot the "YOU WILL RESPECT MY" part.

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  • Steve B June 13, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I had no idea we had a resident corking expert!

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  • Nick V June 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    If I were driving a car, I'd be a bit more skeptical of an "Average Joe" stopping traffic than if a policeman or public official was doing it. "Average Joe" is most likely only concerned with his own agenda and might hold up traffic for hours and hours as it suits him. Yes, I know that a policeman might have an agenda too, but he's more likely to keep things moving in a fair and orderly fashion. The law is the law. You don't have to like it but you have to obey it.

    As far as the whole "motor vehicle" discussion, this is another situation where cyclists want the same rights as drivers but don't want to follow the same laws. It's a two-way street, so to speak.

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    • 9watts June 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm

      (1) I think you're missing some important context Nick V. Your average Joe in this case is acting on behalf of a group the latter part of which is attempting to cross against a light. Corking is widely done and I think widely appreciated to serve a public function.

      (2) This is not asking for special privileges at all. Funerals are 'group rides' in which for several generations now most folks have driven in cars. The cops cork for them. Pedalpalooza (and other large bike rides) takes this logic and appropriates it for events that are less somber.

      The question here I think is to what extent corking has acquired legitimacy in the eyes of the law enforcement officers. The answer I'm hearing is 'generally higher than Officer P's take on the matter.'

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      • Nick V June 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm

        Point taken, 9W, but:

        1) Say I'm late for an appointment with my 90-year-old grandparents who, no offense to the elderly, are slower than most. Does that give me the right to stop traffic while they cross an intersection? Or do we just wait, obey the traffic signals like most other people, and accept the inconvenience of being late? If anybody can step right up and direct traffic, then who's to stop everybody from doing it? Anarchy I tell you!

        2) Funeral processions are the exemption to just about anything I can think of. A bike ride like this one which is hopefully less distracted and, as you say, less somber should not get too wound up if they're separated for a short time. Imagine if one of the drivers is about to give birth or something and has to wait because somebody doesn't want to get left behind from his cycling buddies. Just saying......

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        • 9watts June 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

          Nick V,

          (1) As for old people slowly crossing the street, I've observed courteous drivers waiting patiently until the crossing has been accomplished. I've engaged in some mini-corking myself (though I'll admit I never thought of it in those terms) on occasion when chaperoning someone slower than the traffic engineers who programmed the walk lights envisioned. Besides, waiting for the next cycle doesn't solve the problem I am imagining and that I think you described.

          (2) Anarchy works a lot better than you might realize. Take a look at this video I've linked to before. It shows traffic moving down Market Street in San Francisco in 1906: http://archive.org/details/TripDown1905

          (3) I think funeral processions and the exceptions to the law made for them are a perfect or near perfect analogy actually.

          (4) Giving birth in traffic? That doesn't seem like a situation I'd want to generalize from when it comes to making these decisions. The same could occur while waiting for a funeral procession (which tends to move slower even than most group bike rides). Seems like kind of a Red Herring to me.

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          • 9watts June 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm

            I didn't see that you wrote 'imagine if one of the drivers is about to give birth or something'

            Talk about distracted driving!

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          • brad August 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm

            9watts,

            I enjoyed watching the San Francisco video. At a certain density and speed of traffic, anarchy with common sense worked well enough prior to 1900, but the death toll for every major city in USA "progressively" grew from the 100's of traffic deaths per year until the late 1920's when most major cities were recording over 1000 traffic deaths per year. You might say a critical mass had been reached such that our rational minds could accept regulated intersections and other laws.

            NYC tops the list with 1360 traffic deaths in 1929, and last year NYC had their lowest death rate in close to 100 years. If I come back to this post I'll bring link to one of several NYTimes articles that write of this.

            I was just in a small bike ride of maybe 50 people last week in Boston and we utilized corking at about 20 intersections. Four or five major intersections were around the Longwood Medical area(4or 5 major hospitals there). I definitely believe if bicyclists continue to cork near hospitals, one day an emotionally fraught dad-to-be would do whatever he thought necessary to get swiftly around a corked intersection.

            It's just probability, not a "red herring".

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        • js June 13, 2012 at 1:45 pm

          Nick, the irony of this particular situation is that you and your 90 year old grandparents would be held up far longer by the police car blocking traffic to write a ticket and lecture a cyclist than the group ride passing against the signal and everyone going about their day.

          This is exactly what I saw (minus you and your grandparents) as I came upon the intersection mid-lecture. Cop car with lights flashing completely blocking west-bound Belmont and partially blocking south-bound 34th through the intersection. Generally adding confusion to traffic flow at the intersection and who was able to maneuver around the scene and who should just stay put and wait it out.

          I'm glad to discover this scene was just police drama and not what I thought at the time might have been the aftermath of a car-bike collision.

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        • Nathanael June 15, 2012 at 1:07 pm

          As for old people crossing the street, pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks if they entered them legally, and cars are required to wait for them, even if the light changes while they're in the crosswalk.

          In some states pedestrians have even more rights. In NY pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks at ALL TIMES, even if they're crossing against the light. In California, pedestrians have the right of way at all times on every part of every road except limited access expressways, and legally cars have to stop for jaywalkers.

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    • peejay June 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm

      I don't want the same rights as drivers. I want equitable access to the same public rights of way as drivers, but I do not believe the same laws should be applicable for radically different modes of transport.

      As for group rides, I really don't see a motor vehicle analogy, other than perhaps a funeral procession, but even that is quite different. People just don't socialize with fellow drivers while driving, and they shouldn't.

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      • Chris I June 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm

        I have friends that go on "group drives". If you ever see a large group of a single type of car (Porsche, VW, Miata, etc) this is what you are seeing.

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        • DoubleB June 15, 2012 at 6:08 pm

          Do they "cork" so they can all stay together?

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    • Sunny June 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      No, you're wrong. The intent of the legislature revising the statue to explicitly state 'motor vehicle' instead of 'vehicle' is not just semantics, but is to allow bicycles to legally take the lane without being cited for impeding motor vehicle traffic. A motorized vehicle going substantially slower than the normal flow of traffic could be cited.

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      • JAT in Seattle June 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm

        Do we know that this specific impeding traffic statute was revised for this reason from vehicle to motor vehicle? (or was that some other provision, sorry I got lost.)

        My legal sense (disclaimer - only applies in WA) is that you're right and that a magistrate / judge given a choice between strict interpretation of the words of the statute and the authoriteh of the officer (who might not even show up) is going to say a bike is not a motor vehicle wrong violation chosen, off you go!

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    • spare_wheel June 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm

      "The law is the law. You don't have to like it but you have to obey it."

      I do not *have* to obey it. I often choose to violate statutes and ordinances that I find to be overly onerous or flawed. So do most people whether they are willing to admit to this or not.

      "this is another situation where cyclists want the same rights as drivers but don't want to follow the same laws."

      Cyclists and motorists do not follow the same laws. Moreover, these laws change over time to better conform to the reality of urban transport. Levels of compliance and accident rates play a big role in how these laws change.

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  • Paul Cone June 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    I wonder how often Officer Phothivongsa threatens to haul off car drivers to jail for impeding traffic.

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    • whyat June 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      An officer once told my wife she could be taken to jail when she had been pulled over and didn't have her insurance card on her, so I would so YES, absolutely.

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      • whyat June 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm

        Or more accurately QUITE FREQUENTLY.

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      • Paul Cone June 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm

        Not having insurance is not the same as impeding traffic.

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  • Rol June 13, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    A large group, by virtue of its sheer numbers, breaks the law to impose its will on other people. To me that's civil disobedience and should be framed as such. Whether you think civil disobedience is a valuable and legitimate tool with a long & proud history, or a crime deserving of pepper spraying etc., I'm not attempting to get into here. I'm just saying that's the only legitimate rationale I can see for "corking." The need for the group to stay "together" (which is defined as having nothing but bicycles in between you and the person a block away with whom you can't interact in any way) is sort of a mystery to me.

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    • 9watts June 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      "The need for the group to stay "together" (which is defined as having nothing but bicycles in between you and the person a block away with whom you can't interact in any way) is sort of a mystery to me."

      I didn't get it immediately either, Rol.

      But let me give an example from the Pedalpalooza kickoff ride (see photo at top of page). My 7 year old daughter rode the entire route, and kept up until we crossed the Broadway bridge. The first few miles of the ride had been pretty tight thanks to corking and folks who knew when to slow down the front, etc. By the time my wife and daughter got to the light at MLK, the group ride was a few blocks ahead. Once you fall behind it is nearly impossible to catch up because the main ride (through the magic of corking) can stay together and cover slightly more ground and in a more coherent manner traveling as a unit.
      As I've come to appreciate these larger rides where several hundred people are present, the whole effect is in no small part premised on being able to keep a more or less steady pace and stay together.

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      • are June 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm

        if the front end of the ride would wait until the back end that got caught at the light rejoined the group, no one would fall behind

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        • 9watts June 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm

          sure--this is good practice up to a point, but you may be forgetting that folks in cars might also be traveling in the same direction and lane as the ride, or that the ride might be more than a block's worth of road space long. Decisions and judgments have to be made either way.

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        • matt picio June 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm

          That works for rides of 20-50, but what about 100-400 person rides like Epic Pizza, the Taco Ride, Bowie vs. Prince, etc? If the ride passes through downtown, it's easy to have a group spanning 3-4 blocks with traffic lights - and easier than you think for the tail end to become lost, since most PP rides have no map or cuesheet.

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  • Stretchy June 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Is there any corking protocol for minimizing the time blocking an intersection? Does it make sense to designate someone as the caboose of the ride and everyone needs to stay ahead of the caboose or drop out? I think a source of frustration for drivers isn't so much the act of corking but, the riders who are leisurely trickling through a blocked intersection with apparently no regard for the people stuck waiting.

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    • BURR June 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      IMO, corking protocol should be:

      1. If the light is red when the front of the group arrives, wait for the light to change.

      2. If the light is already yellow or 'stale green' (i.e. the walk signal is flashing the red hand and/or counting down to 'don't walk'), it's also probably best for the front of the ride to stop and wait for the light to change.

      3. If the light is green, enter the intersection, encourage the group to close ranks and stay together, and cork the intersection until all riders in the group have past. Extreme stragglers may get caught by the light and have to wait and play catch up, but this minimizes the corking disruptions.

      I believe there is actually some documentation for this somewhere on the web in the SF Critical Mass archives.

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      • Bjorn June 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm

        Somehow I have a feeling that this cop would have ticketed the front of the ride for stopping before the light turned red to keep the ride together...

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        • John Lascurettes June 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm

          If the light is yellow, it means stop (unless you cannot safely do so) in Oregon. Yes, yellow means stop here.

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          • Nathanael June 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm

            Yellow means "stop unless you cannot safely stop without entering the intersection" everywhere. I don't know what the laws regarding whether people can be ticketed are in different states, but that's always what it *means*.

            So if you're cruising and the light turns yellow and you know you can't stop before you get into the intersection, you keep going, but otherwise you stop.

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  • Adam June 13, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    It must be difficult as a police officer, knowing what to do in this kind of situation. You might be totally pro-bike in your spare time, but when you are on the PPB clock... if you see someone doing something illegal like blocking traffic, what do you do?

    However, it sounds like this officer was anti-bike through and through, which is a shame, given that he was clearly patrolling the most bike-friendly neighborhood in Pdx.

    I wonder if it occurred to him, that by causing all the commotion in order to spend "ten minutes" issuing a citation, he himself as a police officer was actually doing more to hold up traffic on Belmont/34th than the ride itself ever could.

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    • El Biciclero June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      "...he himself as a police officer was actually doing more to hold up traffic on Belmont/34th than the ride itself..."

      I'll bet he was counting on the drivers being delayed by his lecture to blame the cyclist for "being stupid" and causing the delay. I would bet that at least a couple of drivers in the group would be steamed to be held up for 30 seconds by a corking cyclist, but then would sit still and watch gleefully for minutes on end while that cyclist was "getting his".

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  • Esther June 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    My personal preferences, YMMV:
    1. Don't cork MAX tracks (dangerous!)
    2. When possible, yield to pedestrians
    3. Smile, wave, be friendly, say thank you - 80% of people respond in kind. Many people will even go around to the (friendly) drivers' windows & explain what's going on
    4. Respect the ride leaders' & experienced corkers' judgment on when not to cork (I've seen people disregard the ride leaders' request not to cork and it irks me; also, someone else gently persuaded me not to cork a major intersection the other day, for safety, which I appreciated.)
    5. Don't cork when there is a big gap in the ride anyway and you will be standing alone in the middle of an empty intersection (this especially happens on hills). Take responsibility for directing the pack behind you, including stopping. Let the group gather back up to a tight clump again before going through.

    I honestly don't think there is any political or moral righteousness to corking, as a lot of comments here seem to imply there is, but I do think it is in many cases safer and prevents even further disruption of "traffic." 2 "wrongs" don't make a right, but disruption of traffic by blocking an intersection after the light changes is done EVERY DAY by cars. Other drivers wait patiently and/or find a way to go around. This is really not so different IMHO.

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    • Adam June 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      Absolutely agree with all of this. It frustrates me NO END to see people corking traffic when the ride is so spread out that there are no bikes crossing the intersection.

      I always wonder why ride leaders don't stop at a light and let the whole ride catch / bunch up again, before proceeding through it en masse. It must be extremely irritating as a driver, having to wait for five minutes for a ride that is thinly strung out over 15 blocks.

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    • Esther June 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      But to clarify, I think what Stretchy & Burr say ties into #5. Corking itself is illegal, blocking an intersection when there is a big gap or the ride is stretched out is both illegal and kinda rude.

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    • oskarbannks June 13, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      Despite my feeling on popo's, I have to wholeheartedly agree with the suggestion's that Esther has offered up. It would seem easy IMO, for Shift, BTA,PPB , and whoever is in charge of Pedalpalala to agree to some loose guidelines for this stuff. Perhaps they already have, I do not know.

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      • Esther June 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm

        Yah, Shift & Shawn Granton produced a comic guide for ride leaders:
        http://www.shift2bikes.org/cal/rideleadingcomic.html
        It's posted on the page where you create an event for Pedalpalooza.

        Both Shift & Pedalpalooza are autonomous and anarchic though, in that there are no official "members" besides anyone who wants to be, and no real hierarchy. No one tells ride leaders what to do or how to do it. The comic was produced after my suggestion after last year's PP that Shift offer more technical assistance and guidance on ride leading, but one ticketing incident in 10 years is a pretty good signifier of the quality of ride leading so far ;)

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      • matt picio June 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm

        No one is "in charge" of Pedalpalooza. Shift provides the calendar, but individual rides are up to their organizers. What you're talking about is effectively a culture change. It can be done, but there won't be any central point of contact for that.

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        • oskarbannks June 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm

          Thanks E. & M., I was just curious. It would imagine, that anything Shawn was to put together would be a good thing!

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    • Ann June 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      well, people aren't actually very patient when you block their intersection with your car, and I imagine people get tickets for doing it pretty often. I don't imagine they get the snarky lecture from the police, though.

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    • peejay June 14, 2012 at 11:24 am

      This is why you rock, Esther. Clearest guide/explanation yet, without all the moralizing.

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  • biertodd June 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Inconvenienced Officer is inconvenienced, and letting it affect his interaction with a citizen, according to Mr. Stone's version of the event. Endeavoring to be good at a job doesn't mean that one always succeeds. We're all trapped with the personality that we have, and that can be a handicap to overcome in some careers.

    A group cycling together, and kept together with some minor inconvenience via some brief, well thought out corkage, might be considered safer than a string of cyclists trying to 'keep up' with the group.

    The mystery of groups traveling together in an organized activity like Pedalpalooza? Think, parade...a parade with floats coming every 5 minutes, interspersed with traffic, would be painful to watch and to participate in, which is why they aren't run that way.

    How fun would it be to watch or participate in an organized event like this with all of the cyclists taking their own route or cycling on a different schedule. The very point of the activity is group rides.

    Sounds like getting back to communication and training on both sides for big events like this would help a lot.

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  • Scott June 13, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    If anyone, anywhere, since they took beat cops off the streets, is surprised that cops are armed meter maids charged with creating revenue in any way possible then please return to your cave.

    Also if you are surprised that cops are impolite, obstinate, entitled, small minded people then you are hereby advised to never say anyhting to any cop ever.

    Cops have no rules, and no honor.

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    • q`Tzal June 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm

      Now now, it's slightly more complicated than that.

      About half of the police force is comprised of men and women dedicated truth, justice, the American way but most of all fairess in all they do.

      The other half have a tendency to be made up of people who lack the skills and prospects to get any skilled labor that pays more than minimum wage. Often they are angry at the world that didn't hand them prosperity on a silver platter. You give someone like that power and it corrupts on contact.

      Sadly psychological exams are deemed too invasive and demeaning for the watchers until after they do something that will cost the PD money in a settlement/lawsuit.

      But it's not ALL police.

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  • Case June 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Was the officer in a marked cruiser?

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  • Bjorn June 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    I am only aware of one safety incident that has ever occured around corking in portland, and that was during a WNBR when the girlfriend of an off duty cop who was driving away from a bar hit a cyclist before her boyfriend tackled him and had him arrested. She was not given a blood alcohol test...

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  • Spiffy June 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    a couple years ago during a chariot wars mystery ride we had a few cops stop us from crossing on a red light to keep the group together... instead of harassing the single person corking they got into the middle of the intersection and stopped the bikes from crossing... I don't think anybody got a ticket since the police made their point and stopped us...

    in Kevin's case the office waited until the event was past and then cited him... sounds like his offense wasn't harsh enough to warrant an immediate response since the officer waited... also, it states that it's a motor vehicle law, so it's not even applicable...

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  • GlowBoy June 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Unless explicitly stated otherwise, in the Oregon Revised Statutes the term "motor vehicle" always applies to ALL legal vehicles -- including bicycles.

    History lesson for those who don't understand this: back when the Bicycle Bill was passed back in the early '70s to fully legalize bikes, rather than rewrite the ENTIRE MOTOR VEHICLE CODE, they found it much easier to expand the definition of "motor vehicle" to include bicycles. Might seem counterintuitive to the uninitiated, but that's the law for you.

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    • matt picio June 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      Where is that stated in the statutes? And if it's not, then cite a case law. Otherwise, the matter is up to the individual interpretation of the judge.

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      • Nathanael June 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm

        As noted by earlier commenters, that's actually false. Apparently Oregon distinguishes explicitly between "vehicle" (includes bike) and "motor vehicle" (does not include bike). They even have a law clarifying that electric-assist bikes are "vehicles" not "motor vehicles".

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    • Mark June 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      Wrong. Try again.

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      • Mark June 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm

        @glowboy

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  • J-R June 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I think corking should be used very rarely and I'm not certain it was warranted in this case. Regardless, the cop definitely over-reacted. He would have generated lots of goodwill by just completing the lecture and letting the cyclist go on his way. I've seen plenty of cops ignore serious traffic violations by motorists including driving on the shoulder followed by blowing a red light.

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  • whyat June 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Lots of assumptions being made about the officer's intentions, motivations, opinion of bikers etc. Seems like a lot of bunk without knowing more information.

    Is the corker in question qualified to be a corker? Right place right time? Without actually seeing how this went down it's hard for me to have an opinion, but as always, if you're doing something illegal there is the possibility you might get cited. His intentions could have been the best, but at this point we only have one side of the story, and it's from the person who just got a fine. We need all sides of this before we can make any definitive conclusion.

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    • oskarbannks June 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      I for one would love to hear the officer's side of the story. I think plenty of people have responded saying that perhaps it was wrong of the cyclist to cork the intersection. I for one stated just that. I also stated that the cyclist was a fool to interject his condescending statement to the cop before he even spoke, ( if in fact the events were as he stated). You can defend the cop all you want, and i on the other hand, will assume that cops are always, ALWAYS going to use their position to leverage the upper hand. It took me 18 years and 15 arrest's along with 34 unresolved police harassment charges filed by myself to the ACLU in my life to learn this. Go ahead and call me a slow learner, it is true.

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    • matt picio June 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      What constitutes a "qualified corker"? Corking is illegal, and while in most cases it *is* perfectly safe and aids in traffic flow rather than impeding it, it's not something which can be certified.

      It's good to know whether the person cited was an experienced corker, but it really doesn't change the particulars of the case.

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    • peejay June 14, 2012 at 11:32 am

      I was there. The ride was right around the size for the cork/no cork threshold -- about 50-70 riders, but with some freakbikes and sound systems -- and pretty tightly knotted together, so no big gaps. Kevin is an experienced corker, and did not get in anyone's face. That intersection is heavily travelled by bikes and people on foot, and not at all a high speed thoroughfare. Basically, if the officer was looking for "bad" corking, he didn't find it here.

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  • CaptainKarma June 13, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    This is why I don't trust cops. Every interaction I've had with one here has been condescending, patriarchial, and way too unnecessarily intimidating and rude. I would accept a ticket for something no questions asked if it was done in a professional manner w/o lectures and implied insults and threats. Make no mistake which side of the 99/1 divide you are on, and who has the power.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Just to clarify on the issue of whether the law using the term "motor vehicles" applies because Stone was on a bicycle.. the answer is YES. It does apply.

    I talked with lawyer Mark Ginsberg about this and he assured me that laws with "motor vehicle" apply to bicycles too. I can share more details about the case that supports this in a separate post.

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    • are June 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      presumably we are once again talking about the potter case, appeals court 2002, which also interpreted the public hearing requirement of the mandatory sidepath law as meaning essentially nothing.
      http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A115242.htm

      with respect to 811.130, the court said if you read 814.400 as not applying whenever the statute specifies "motor vehicle," this would "swallow the general rule."

      as others have mentioned, the same logic would appear to apply to 806.010, requiring anyone who "operates a motor vehicle" to purchase liability insurance.

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      • benjdm June 14, 2012 at 5:18 am

        Reading the Potter case...that case is nuts. It's like the judges can't fathom the word 'vehicle' and the phrase 'motor vehicle' being anything other than synonyms.

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      • Nathanael June 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm

        The Potter case is a case of clear error. The public hearing ruling is roughly correct due to presumptions, but could have been overcome had the bicyclist introduced evidence proving that there was no public hearing.

        However the "motor vehicle includes vehicle" ruling was a case of clear error, due to the numerous sections of the code which deliberately distinguish between the two terms.

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    • q`Tzal June 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      This point almost needs to be an entirely separate blog post to do it justice.
      It'd be sweet if you could swing a skilled bike lawyer for a biweekly legal Q&A. Each blog post's comments could serve as an impromptu polling site for the next by the number votes the questions get.

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    • Nathanael June 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      Lawyer Mark Ginsburg appears to be wrong. The code citiations by others make this clear.

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  • Will E. Portland June 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Rol
    The need for the group to stay "together" (which is defined as having nothing but bicycles in between you and the person a block away with whom you can't interact in any way) is sort of a mystery to me.

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    Cuz it sucks to get cut off from your kids.

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    • DoubleB June 15, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      And it NEVER occurred to you ahead of time that that might happen?

      Parenting in 2012--Never my fault.

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  • dan June 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Clearly we need a bike hearse and deceased pet so that these rides can be treated as funeral processions. Any cargo bike builders up to the challenge?

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    • peejay June 14, 2012 at 11:33 am

      Gabriel Amadeus has a coffinbike, or used to. It would fit the bill.

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  • JL June 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    ORS 814.400:

    814.400
    Application of vehicle laws to bicycles
    (1) Every person riding a bicycle upon a public way is subject to the provisions applicable to and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle concerning operating on highways, vehicle equipment and abandoned vehicles, except:
    (a) Those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.
    (b) When otherwise specifically provided under the vehicle code.
    (2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section:
    (a) A bicycle is a vehicle for purposes of the vehicle code; and
    (b) When the term vehicle is used the term shall be deemed to be applicable to bicycles.
    (3) The provisions of the vehicle code relating to the operation of bicycles do not relieve a bicyclist or motorist from the duty to exercise due care. [1983 c.338 §697; 1985 c.16 §335]

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  • benjdm June 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
    Just to clarify on the issue of whether the law using the term "motor vehicles" applies because Stone was on a bicycle.. the answer is YES. It does apply.
    I talked with lawyer Mark Ginsberg about this and he assured me that laws with "motor vehicle" apply to bicycles too. I can share more details about the case that supports this in a separate post.
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    That's ridiculous - it would have to be a very good explanation. It would also have to explain why you don't have to follow the laws about getting license plates for motor vehicles, registering motor vehicles, etc.

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  • Nate June 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    In the two instances in which I've been "pulled over" by a officer of the law on my bike, the officers in question were visibly agitated to the point of literally shaking. They offered me the same narrative; asking if "it was worth going to jail for?" with some additional colorful details about how he didn't want to be "cleaning my bloody remains up off the street," etc. (Makes me wonder if this is PPB talking points?)

    What brings me to post is this: why do bicycle riders elicit such wrath from Portland's finest? (I've never had the privilege of being stopped in my car, so I can't compare their rage or lack thereof, only speculate that it is absent, else officers would be dying of heart attacks a lot more often...)

    At the very least, it seems like the idea of Portland being the #1 bike city, and the attractiveness of said designation hasn't filtered down to PPB.

    And also, how does this sit with the proposal @BikePortland tweeted about in Oldham to require permits for rides larger than 50 people? http://t.co/ooemL80X (And now, flame away...)

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    • El Biciclero June 13, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      Huh, that is interesting. I've only been pulled over once on my bike--years ago--for cutting through a city park after sunset to avoid a busy section of arterial roadway. The entrance I used to get into the park was not accessible to motor vehicles, and there was no sign there showing park hours. I was just using the park's driveway as a quiet alternative to getting buzzed by cars. The officer was cruising through, shining his spotlight into the bushes (looking for homeless campers, is my guess), and I didn't give a second thought to his presence, since I had all my lights in order and was otherwise riding legally. He was ahead of me, and as I caught up to him, he motioned out his window for me to stop. His first words (I remember them distinctly)? "Did you know the park is closed, you are trespassing, and subject to be arrested right now?" Not, "hey, where are you headed? Did you know the park is actually closed 1/2 hour after sunset?" No, he threatened me with arrest on the spot.

      What is with the threat of arrest when cyclists are stopped for minor technicalities?

      My incident was not in the Portland area, so it isn't just a Portland thing.

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  • benjdm June 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I suppose a bicyclist could be cited for violating 806.010, driving uninsured as well? Bicycles are not listed as exempted under 806.020.

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    • oskarbannks June 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      Shhhhhhh!

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      • q`Tzal June 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm

        Exempt by fact that no one offers the insurance required to be legal.
        Comp and collision for a cyclist? Where?

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  • Jeff June 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    so "share the road" wasn't on the mind of Stone,huh? interesting. if a group ride gets split up, so what? it always comes back together eventually. stopping traffic for one's own convenience and personal preference is both rude and illegal it would seem.

    So, Stone, why exactly do you think its OK to engage in this type of action? Because its a personal inconvenience for you not to? How about taking some responsibility and realize we all have to obey the same rules, regulations, and traffic signals on the road?

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  • Jeff June 13, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    oh, and the "safety" argument is completely ridiculous. doesn't seem all that "safe" to sit in the middle of oncoming traffic, does it?

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    • peejay June 14, 2012 at 11:40 am

      Every single time i have experienced that cars get mixed in with large rides, both drivers and riders are in uncomfortable and unsafe conditions. The overall effect of spread out rides mixed with cars is a greater disruption to all traffic.

      Forget the moral implications, and consider the practical. Both convenience and safety for all are increased by corking large rides. Is that good enough?

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      • DoubleB June 15, 2012 at 6:22 pm

        Remember that the next time a driver takes the bike lane or does something illegal. You don't get to cite letter of the law violations for drivers when cyclists won't follow it themselves. And frankly, safety is debatable.

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        • Pete June 18, 2012 at 10:47 am

          I would love to see an example of a driver "taking" the bike lane for the purpose of safety.

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          • El Biciclero June 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm

            The safety debate pertaining to cars "taking" the bike lane is around the "Oregon" rule vs. the "California" rule when approaching right turns.

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            • Pete June 18, 2012 at 11:32 pm

              Yes, understood, gotcha El B. Having moved to California from Oregon I prefer the way it is (intended) here, where the bike lane lines are dashed to show where merges should be, and I signal and take the travel lane according to CA VC 21202 exception 4. When done properly I don't get hit, don't (always) piss off drivers ignorant of the law and its intent, and allow right-turning drivers to see and proceed after stopping on their red. The general interpretation of the Oregon rules is that of a 'mandatory sidepath' which would prohibit me from merging into the travel lane when approaching a red. But my point is there's rarely a case where a driver takes a bike lane for safety - it's almost always for convenience (regardless of its legality).

              My issue is that DoubleB is trying to base his/her point around hypocrisy here on a blatant generalization - yes, I do indeed get to cite the letter of the law here, regardless of what number of cyclists/drivers break whichever laws. What other people do in their cars or on their bikes is not my personal responsibility because I share whichever transport mode.

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              • El Biciclero June 19, 2012 at 9:44 am

                That's a common fallacy people like to use: you can't point to bad behavior by members of Group B, because members of Group A other than yourself also behave badly. It comes from thinking in terms of "You bicyclists...", or from the other side, "You drivers..." when in reality, neither group is monolithic, nor are the two groups even strict partitions of the population: I am a cyclist who drives (or a driver who rides), as are many folks.

                As much as DoubleB likes to point out that cyclists commenting in this forum are only complaining about our inconvenience (when we apparently should be minding our Ps & Qs around drivers--for "safety"), following DB's recommendations for cyclists (don't cork, get off and walk, slow down--even if you're only going 15 to begin with) only results in increased convenience for drivers. So what are you complaining about DoubleB?

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                • Pete June 19, 2012 at 10:25 am

                  My favorite is a comment I see now and again saying "Cyclists need to police themselves"... like we're all somehow related.

                  "Oh, just never you mind cousin Jerry. He likes to cork traffic now and again but he means no harm. Pa took a belt to his bottom when he caught him running a stop sign last week!"

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    • El Biciclero June 18, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      It could be argued that stopped traffic is not "oncoming".

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  • No Shame June 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I thought only happened only on upscale rides: whining about the corking fee.

    Snort and out.

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  • benjdm June 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    q`Tzal
    Exempt by fact that no one offers the insurance required to be legal.
    Comp and collision for a cyclist? Where?
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    Who knows? I'm not the one claiming that vehicle laws which specify a motor vehicle apply to bicycles as well. If they do apply, and a bicyclist can be cited for violating 811.130, then I see no reason why a bicyclist could not similarly be cited for violating 806.010.

    I suppose we'll have to wait for the explanation. Heck, someone parse 814.405 for me if motor vehicle includes bicycles:
    "814.405: Status of electric assisted bicycle.

    An electric assisted bicycle shall be considered a bicycle, rather than a motor vehicle, for purposes of the Oregon Vehicle Code, except when otherwise specifically provided by statute."

    How does that statute make any sense whatsoever if 'motor vehicle' includes bicycles? It doesn't.

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    • Nathanael June 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      This makes it clear that for most purposes bicycles are NOT motor vehicles.

      Now, one of the crazy things about the law is that you can have a different definition of "motor vehicle" for interpreting one section of law from the definition for interpreting a different section of law. However, I don't think this applies here; both of the provisions we're discussing are from roughly the same portion of the law.

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  • Deebo June 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    What an amazing amount of rambling commentary about not much. Its been established that corking is illegal regardless of how necessary or elegant you personally deem it to be. I think I should be able to decide if I want to wear my seat belt or wear a helmet (yeah you vancouver) but that opinion will in no way stop me from being handed a ticket. Neither will some misperception that since I wasn't given one in the past I do not deserve one this time around. Cops enforce the laws that exist. If you don't like them go lobby for them to change. Doing something illegal and then acting surprised and offended that there are repercussions is pretty juvenile.

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    • 9watts June 14, 2012 at 10:07 am

      "What an amazing amount of rambling commentary about not much. "

      Deebo,

      I'm having trouble figuring out what your commentary added to this discussion.

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  • Kevin Stone June 13, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Hello there, I am the individual that was cited, and would like to thank Bike Portland for the write-up. Obviously the appropriateness of corking is a subjective evaluation and all I will say here is that my motives were based solely upon the issue of safety. I will likely be pleading no-contest to this violation for reasons all my own.

    There will be an upcoming "fundraiser ride" at a date TBD. Any monies beyond my eventual fine will be donated to the BTA. Thanks!

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  • miguel June 13, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    I'm here to say that Officer Photo is a good guy. He came through when a car driver harassed and threatened me.

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    • jsig June 15, 2012 at 8:14 pm

      i know him personally from "around town" and he's one of the nicest cops i've ever met. (i generally dislike & don't trust the police) he's a good guy. people here that are trying to paint him as some sort of hot-head knuckle-dragger are way off base

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  • Lizbon June 13, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Even if this motor vehicle regulation is being applied to bicycles, how is it any more ticketable than a funeral procession of cars?

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    • Schrauf June 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm

      Because they get a permit or have police escorts. Usually retired officers who somehow still have some level of "authority".

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    • Pete June 18, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      There are explicit statutes on how funeral processions behave/are treated (ORS 811.800 et al).

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  • sabes June 13, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    9watts
    I have to agree with Zach's logic. Maybe we could get to the bottom of this? The code didn't say vehicle, but 'motor vehicle.' If the code is as you interpret it, Jonathan, then the word 'vehicle' would be the right term here, not 'motor vehicle.'
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    You can agree all you want, but you'd still be wrong.

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    • 9watts June 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      I'm fine learning that I'm wrong, but the language as I've seen it deployed and interpreted here makes no sense and should be updated or scrapped.

      Saying all mammals must show their passports at the checkpoint may be reasonably interpreted to include among others, people, donkeys and rabbits, but to say all ungulates must show their passports at the checkpointand mean this statement to specifically include bipeds (which last time I checked did not belong to the family of ungulates) is less than intuitive, wouldn't you agree,sabes?

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  • DavidW June 14, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Just to let you know, you can't be arrested for a traffic offense which is an infranction.

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    • El Biciclero June 14, 2012 at 10:51 am

      Hence the threat of Disorderly 2, I guess. In my case, I was stopped for "trespassing", for which I suppose one could get arrested.

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  • Greg Benison June 14, 2012 at 7:55 am

    My first experience with a "corked" ride was at last year's pedalpalooza. I felt protected by the corkers, and it was nice for once to ride on the streets without having to maintain a constant squirrel-like vigilance against car collisions.

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    • G2 June 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      Come ride one of the sunday parkways :)

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  • Oh Word June 14, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Yea, if the light's red you have to stop.

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  • peejay June 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    I think it's funny that the police are the least skilled at traffic flow. When they control a Sunday Parkways intersection, I find it's always a big pile-up for both bikes AND cars.

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  • Nathanael June 15, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Looks like the lawyer you consulted was wrong. See above.

    It seems like this area of law is in dispute. But there are laws which specifically specify that "motor vehicle" and "vehicle" mean different things.

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  • mabsf June 15, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    As you guys know, I frequently complain about the utter disregard of drivers of the marked crossway on 33rd and Belmont. The incidence happened one block further south.
    While it might be not the immediate issue in this incidence, the attitude of drivers on Belmont during rush hour/Friday night is pretty bad: Most of them are either speeding or looking for parking spots... I can only imagine what a cork intersection will bring on in insults...

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    • peejay June 19, 2012 at 7:31 am

      Actually, further east.

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  • Skid June 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    It is always dangerous to introduce cars into the midst of a bicycle group ride. That is why intersections are corked. If you were on two wheels you would understand why.

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  • Goat May 21, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    "Obviously the practice of holding up cross-traffic to let a group of people roll through a red light is illegal; but it also happens to be much safer. Without corking, rides would split up into many tiny groups and chaos would reign."

    So you know what your doing is illegal and therefore by definition wrong. If chaos reigns because the group gets separated then it is a total failure by the leader of the ride. Separations should be expected and planned for. In a properly run ride of more than 3-4 bikes it is a given that separations WILL happen; short of the illegal methods you discuss, they cannot and should not be avoided. The only exception is a police escorted ride.

    Every ride I go on we publish the route so everyone knows where we are going. We have planned pull over spots to allow the group to reform along the way. And we share cell phone numbers with each other. The only way everyone can share the road is if they have mutual respect for each other. By corking your show disrespect to every other person on the road. And then you wonder way others don't respect you.

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