Learning the law at the Share the Road safety class

Posted on January 26th, 2009 at 4:50 pm.

Ellee Thalheimer is a new contributing writer to BikePortland. Her most recent story was a product review of women’s bike shorts designed for utility and fashion. Ellee is a yoga instructor and travel writer living in Southeast Portland. Check out her author page here.

We covered the beginnings of the Share the Road Safety Class; this is our first inside account by a BikePortland operative.

Traffic safety gurus (L to R): Judge
Chris Larsen, BTA instructor Gregg
Lavender, Officer James Sorensen,
and nurse Mike Morrison.
(Photos: Ellee Thalheimer)

“Bike laws are schizophrenic,” the judge in my case told me. “Sometimes you’re a vehicle, sometimes you’re a pedestrian.”

It’s true. The rules of the road are confusing, and for those of us who get around on two wheels, confusing can translate into lethal. That’s one reason self-proclaimed “safety geek” and Judge Chris Larsen wanted to create a better way to educate road users about how to operate legally, and safely, on city streets.

Nearly two years ago, Larsen initiated the Share the Road Safety Class, a two-hour lecture/discussion/presentation that takes place twice a month at Legacy Emanuel Hospital.

The class functions as an alternative to expensive, record-marring traffic tickets that leave offenders frustrated, but unfortunately, still ignorant about the rules of the road.


Lawyer in Ainsworth Incident pressures leaders to seek dismissal of citations

Posted on December 23rd, 2008 at 9:37 am.

“This will adequately address the inequity of this situation and show the community that bicyclists will not be punished for riding legally on the streets of Portland.”
— Lawyer Christopher Heaps

The lawyer for two men who were ticketed for riding their bikes on NE Ainsworth last month is imploring city leaders and the police chief to recognize the error made by the officer and have him dismiss the citations.

The request by Christopher Heaps, a lawyer with downtown Portland firm Stoel Rives who is representing the riders, comes in a nine-page letter sent yesterday to Mayor Potter and all four City Commissioners (download PDF, 1.0MB). According to the letter, Reuben Vyn and Peter Welte were “wrongfully issued traffic violation citations by Portland Police Bureau Officer Jimmy Pryce,” and Officer Pryce’s actions were “vindictive and violate Portland Police Bureau Policies”.


Tickets follow close call on Ainsworth

Posted on November 16th, 2008 at 10:23 am.

PSU Cycling Club president
Reuben Vyn and Officer Pryce.
(Photos: Peter Welte)

Two members of the PSU Cycling Club got a lot more than they bargained for while riding along NE Ainsworth yesterday.

According to witnesses, Club president Reuben Vyn was riding along with six other members of the club on NE Ainsworth near NE 23rd when a Portland police officer in a patrol car came by “within a foot” of his handlebars. (Ainsworth is a narrow, one-lane, residential street with car parking. The street is a designated bike route, but it’s also notoriously uncomfortable to ride on. See photo below)


Police Bureau continues with traffic safety education missions at Broadway/Flint

Posted on October 1st, 2008 at 10:44 am.

bike stop markings at broadway flint-3.jpg
Broadway and Flint.
(Photo J. Maus)

As part of an ongoing effort, the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division is performing a series of “traffic safety educational missions” at the intersection of Broadway and Flint.

Traffic Division Captain Larry O’Dea says his officers are conducting the missions during morning commute hours every day this week. According to O’Dea, the missions are being done in conjunction with the first round of changes made by PDOT (the “Bikes Stop” markings installed last week).

In an email sent by O’Dea this morning, he described the PPB’s efforts as,


Right-hook crash at Broadway/Williams

Posted on September 26th, 2008 at 4:05 pm.

Image of the scene.
(Photo: Carl Larson)

At around 5:00pm yesterday evening, there was a right-hook crash involving a bike and a truck at the intersection of Broadway and Williams in Northeast Portland (Map).

According to the Police Bureau’s assistant PIO Greg Pashley, a woman riding a bicycle was struck by a “short panel truck” and was transported to Emanuel Hospital. Pashley said the woman ended up underneath the truck after she was hit, but luckily, there was no serious trauma involved.


DA drops Reckless Driving charge in Stark Street collision

Posted on September 4th, 2008 at 3:37 pm.

“We couldn’t support the mental state required for a criminal prosecution.”
— Gresham DA Ben O’Glasser on his decision to not seek a Reckless Driving charge against Lance Waddy

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office has elected not to proceed with a Reckless Driving charge against Lance Waddy, the man who let his car veer into Steven Volz while Volz rode his bicycle on SE Stark Street in Gresham.

The collision happened on July 31st on SE Stark Street (just outside Portland city limits). According to reports, Waddy grabbed something from the floor of his car prior to the impact, which threw Volz nearly 140 feet into the air.

Waddy was initially cited at the scene with a host of charges. The most serious of those charges was Reckless Driving, a Class A Misdemeanor crime (which can carry a maximum sentence of one year). (Waddy was cited and then released at the scene after his car was towed. For more information on that, see my follow-up story about enforcement policies).


News Release: Police out in force for first day of school

Posted on September 2nd, 2008 at 8:55 am.

This just in from the Portland Police Bureau:


Starting Tuesday, September 2, 2008, and continuing every weekday for the next two weeks, officers from all five precincts, the Traffic Division, the Transit Police Division, and School Resource officers will participate in a citywide school safety mission. Among the goals of the mission is to provide a positive and safe environment for our children to travel to and from school and to provide a positive and safe environment for learning.


A look at enforcement policies in dramatic Stark St. collision

Posted on August 15th, 2008 at 12:10 pm.

On July 31st, a high-speed collision between a car and a bike on Stark Street in outer southeast Portland struck a nerve with readers and the incident left many with questions about how the law was applied.

The collision itself was horrific. The man driving the car, 23 year-old Lance Waddy, was going an estimated 40 mph (consistent with speed limit) when he struck Steve Volz from behind, launching throwing him 138 feet in the air.


Police share results from Rose Quarter “bicycle education mission”

Posted on August 7th, 2008 at 4:44 pm.

New sign at Rose Quarter-58.jpg
New sign at entrance to
Rose Quarter.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Yesterday from 3:30 to 6:00pm, the Transit Police and Traffic Divisions of the Portland Police Bureau staged what they refer to as a “bicycle education mission” at the Rose Quarter Transit Center.

According to a statement just released by spokesperson Brian Schmautz, the mission was, “done in response to a substantial increase in the number of complaints about traffic infractions in and around the transit station.”

Also in the statement, Schmautz writes that the temporary closure of the Steel Bridge has led to a 100 per day increase in the number of buses (shuttles) in the Rose Quarter area, which has, “resulted in several near misses between vehicles and bikes.”


Last of three ‘bike education missions’ this morning in North Portland

Posted on July 24th, 2008 at 12:39 am.

Traffic Enforcement Action NE 7th & Knott
(Photos © J. Maus)

Yesterday morning (7/23) the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division conducted their second of three “educational warning missions” focused on bicycle operators at the intersection of North Flint and North Broadway.

The results?

According to Traffic Division Captain Larry O’Dea there were 61 total stops. 8 motor vehicle operators were stopped (all were given warnings) and 53 “bicycle operators” were stopped. Of those, 51 received warnings and 2 were written up for citations (for “egregious behavior”).