In response to complaints of cyclists running stop signs, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) ran a traffic enforcement action at SE 26th and Clinton streets this morning. An enforcement action is sort of like a sting, except the cops put out cones and flags announcing it in all directions. They also publicized the location way beforehand.
The results were surprising. Here’s what traffic division commander Bill Sinnott had to say:
“I thought it went very well. We wrote 29 citations and 33 warnings to bicyclists for running the stop sign. We only stopped those that really went through the stop sign at some speed. We didn’t have enough officers to stop everyone so we only stopped the worst violators. We used the same standard for stopping motor vehicles. We wrote 15 citations and 4 warnings to vehicles.
I was suprised so many people still ran the stop signs and I was suprised there were so many more bikes then cars doing so. When we went into this we thought we would be writing more tickets and warnings to cars. One common theme the officers heard from bicyclists is that they saw the enforcement signs but felt they were acting appropriately and safely when they rode through the intersection even though they did not stop (or even come close to slowing down).”
So bikes were three times as likely to break the law! What’s up with that? Didn’t you see the big, orange flags and cones!? It’s never cool or safe to break the law, but if you must, please do it in a less conspicuous place next time…and when the cops stop you, don’t say lame stuff like the cyclist in this OPB story, that just makes it worse.
All in all, this whole thing is just bad PR for cyclists. We really must start leading by example out there. Like it or not, the laws apply to us and as long as we act like they don’t matter, motorists will continue to act like we don’t matter.