Seeking a national legal standard to ensure traffic justice

Posted on March 11th, 2009 at 7:05 am.

National Bike Summit 09 - Day One-3
Rep. Jim Oberstar, speaking
at the opening night dinner.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Representative Jim Oberstar (D-MN) — the man whose passion for Safe Routes to Schools helped establish it as a national priority in America — is now throwing his energy behind a new idea. And, as Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that will be writing the new transportation bill, Oberstar’s ideas have real potential to turn into policy.

Today at the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C., Oberstar will meet with the country’s top bike lawyers to discuss the potential of a new legislative initiative to draft the country’s first piece of legal policy that would directly relate to the respect and recognition of bicycles as users of our roadways.


Tickets dismissed in Ainsworth case

Posted on January 29th, 2009 at 4:02 pm.

“…approaches are sometimes different, and misunderstandings likely because we are all human — regardless of whether we wear a stretchy bicycle jersey or an itchy police uniform.”
— From a public statement issued by the City Attorney’s office as part of a settlement reached in the Ainsworth Incident

Traffic citations given to two men who were ticketed for riding on NE Ainsworth Avenue back in November have been dismissed.

The case went in front of a Multnomah County traffic court judge at 1:30 pm this afternoon and, instead of arguing over who was at fault, all parties in the incident have signed onto an “Open Letter to the Community” (read it below, download here).

Reuben Vyn and Peter Welte were stopped by Officer James Pryce of the Portland Police on November 16th. Pryce said the men were impeding traffic, but Vyn and Welte, along with numerous witness accounts said otherwise. They claim Officer Pryce came within inches of them as he passed by on the narrow street and that he only turned around to cite them after one of the riders — in response to the close call — gestured and yelled at the officer.


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.