Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Police sting cyclists in response to complaint

Posted by on May 11th, 2006 at 7:57 am

Yesterday morning the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division set up a sting at SE 23rd and Salmon streets. Several cyclists were given $242 dollar fines (the same amount for motor vehicles) for rolling through the four-way stop.

This enforcement “mission” was motivated by a phone call to 823-SAFE (the City’s traffic safety hotline) several weeks ago by a woman who lives near that intersection. According to Traffic Division Lieutenant Mark Kruger, she complained that bicyclists were running the stop sign at speed without even slowing down and when she tried to confront them about it they became “caustic” (argumentative and sarcastic). Here’s more from Lieutenant Kruger:

“We didn’t get around to looking at the site for some time and when we sent an officer out there last week to see what was really going on the officer found a stream of cyclists running the stop sign just as the complainant stated. What was most remarkable was that the cyclists didn’t slow or even look left or right as they blew through the intersection.

So, based on that complaint and what we saw last week, we went out to work the site as our weekly Wednesday morning mission. We only stopped those who went through at speed, and there was no shortage of them.”

Some members of the cycling community feel this is a blatant over-reaction and misuse of public funds. They feel that the Police responded to this complaint differently because it involved bicycles. One cyclist in particular is concerned that this reaction is an ominous sign indicative of the attitude of the newly appointed Traffic Division Commander Marty Rowley.

Others feel like it’s just a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease. Lawyer Mark Ginsberg is urging cyclists to pick up phone and complain about motorists. Ginsberg has already filed a complaint at 823-SAFE because he is concerned about speeding cars near his home on Mt. Tabor.

At this time, there aren’t enough facts to support an accusation of discrimination by the Traffic Division. Saying that this was a “vendetta against cyclists” is hard to justify. Last year they wrote around 500 total tickets to cyclists, and half of those were for riding in the bus mall (see stats here). Are we seeing a crackdown on law-breaking cyclists? Perhaps, but I think we need more evidence of unfair enforcement before getting too upset.

The bottom line is that far too many cyclists and motorists disobey traffic signals and stop signs. The problem isn’t with the Police, they just enforce the law. We need to solve this problem through a combination of community awareness, neighborhood activisim and traffic engineering.

The City of Portland’s Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership encourages neighborhoods to organize bicycle safety groups. One has been formed within Southeast Uplift and they have already done some great work. If you’re interested in this, please contact Sharon White at (503) 823-7100 or sharon.white@pdxtrans.org.

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  • Tomas May 11, 2006 at 8:25 am

    We cyclists often complain about not being treated fairly as traffic. Well, part of getting treated like traffic is to follow traffic signs and get fined like traffic when you blow past stop signs.

    Roads have rules. Want to use the roads? Follow the rules.

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  • Ethan May 11, 2006 at 8:41 am

    Back in the day when I was, for a brief time, a criminal justice major . . . little known fact there . . . there was often discussion in class of the difference between the “letter of the law” and the “intent of the law”.

    I run stop signs all the time on the quiet streets of NE Portland, but I do slow down and I do look. I give the police high marks in this case in taking a more nuanced approach, and focusing on those cyclists who more clearly are violating the actual intent of traffic-contol devices. I would hope that if an officer that observed me safely (though technically illegally) transiting a intersection would not lump me in with someone going 20mph. This instance and the Clinton Street action a few months ago all point towards the police making an honest attempt to be reasonable and fair.

    One suggestion I do have for the police bureau is that they really make an effort to use bicycles at every opportunity in their enforcement of bicycles. From a community policing angle, any interaction between cyclists and the police will be much improved if they are both on a quieter more equal footing. If some whacko tries to ditch a bike cop . . . issue an APB, go ahead and break out the monster Ford with the running boards (you know the one) and a fleet of BMW motorcycles. I bet 99.9 percent of the time a bike would be a better choice, and it gets even better mileage than a hybrid patrol car will.

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  • Jonathan Maus May 11, 2006 at 8:42 am

    Below are the numbers of tickets issued by Traffic Division officers in the past few months.

    Total cites issued 1,972
    Cites to bicyclists 29

    Total cites issued 2,372
    Cites to bicyclists 20

    Total cites issued 3,025
    Cites to bicyclists 24

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  • Jon May 11, 2006 at 8:44 am

    I agree with Tomas. Just remember, every time you blow a light or a stop sign within sight of a driver or pedestrian, you lose a supporter of cyclist rights. It’s not that hard to slow down to almost stopped as you approach an intersection. It might just save your life.

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  • Evan Manvel May 11, 2006 at 8:49 am

    Over the past ten years, there has been exactly one crash at this intersection. It was a motor vehicle on motor vehicle crash, and no one was injured.

    The police should use their resources on real safety problems, not simply handing out tickets because someone complained.

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  • Andy May 11, 2006 at 8:58 am

    If the cops are ticketing cyclists for doing “rolling stops”, or for not putting down their foot at a stop sign, that’s harassment. Ticketing cyclists for running headlong through intersections? That’s due justice.

    I’ve almost gotten nailed a number of times by cyclists running stop signs, both on my bike and as a pedestrian. Let’s remember the pedestrian killed last year in Corvallis by a cyclist who ran a stop sign. The streets are hard enough with scofflaw motorists all over the place – bikers don’t need to add to it.

    Now: has the Portland Police Bureau ever done a sting to ticket motorists who, say, fail to yield right of way to a bike in a bike lane? If they are only doing these stings to catch cyclists, but aren’t applying the same standards to motorists, then they aren’t doing their job.

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  • Carl May 11, 2006 at 9:00 am

    I’m a shakey statistician, but as long as our mode-split is over 1%, those numbers suggest that motorists are the ones being targeted…which probably shouldn’t be a surprise or, as far as I’m concerned, a problem.

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  • Evan Manvel May 11, 2006 at 9:04 am

    Yes. the Portland Police Bureau did a few stings on motorists who fail to yield to cyclists in a bike lane last year.

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  • Andy May 11, 2006 at 9:13 am

    I like the attempt by the complainer to actually confront the cyclist first. I’d rather not get in to a situation where people narc on each other via the SAFE hotline. The police also seem to have responded in a measured and appropriate way. The assumption that this is some sort of crackdown seems like a bit of a leap.

    If arrogant cyclists (and motorists) didn’t annoy me so much, I’d think the ticket price seemed a bit high.

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  • Matt P. May 11, 2006 at 9:20 am

    I also agree with Tomas.

    I’ll say it flat out – I believe in bicycles following the law. I believe in helmets, not wearing headphones, signalling, obeying traffic control devices, and proper visibility. For the most part, I practice what I preach – probably 90% of the time. I’m still working on that other 10%. I believe we, as cyclists, should obey the law. Period.

    I also believe that motorists should obey the law. Tri-Met especially should obey the law, and so should the police – who shouldn’t be disobeying traffic laws unless directly in the performance of their duty.

    I also recognize that a good portion of the cyclists in town don’t agree with me, and that some advocate doing whatever necessary to protect themselves against cars, trucks, trains and cops. That’s fine – you’re entitled to your beliefs, and we’re each entitled to try to convince each other that we’re right and the other guy is wrong. Given *my* beliefs, please don’t expect me to be sympathetic to your cause if you’re barreling down a hill over the speed limit, through a stop sign, over the crosswalk less than 2′ from a pedestrian while pedalling 30mph with headphones on and no helmet at night with no lights.

    I really think that we need to start taking the initiative to report bad drivers, hazardous intersections, unmaintained roads, cars parked in the bike lane, and cases of selective enforcement by the police. BTW – does anyone know if they ticket any cars in this sting?

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  • Dan May 11, 2006 at 9:23 am

    Several years ago, my wife (in her car) was hit by a cyclist who blew thru this stop sign.

    I wonder why we get upset with drivers who don’t obey traffic laws, when we ignore the ourselves?

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  • Curt Dewees May 11, 2006 at 9:28 am

    As I read the account written by Jonathan, the complainer actually did try to engage the cyclists in a discussion first and was treated very rudely by the cyclists. Says Jonathan, “when she tried to confront them about it they became “caustic” (argumentative and sarcastic).” So then complaining to the police is the next logical step. This is a fine example of community policing–responding to concerns of citizens complaining about rampant illegal activity in their neighborhood.

    Don’t want a ticket? At least slow down and look carefully both ways before rolling thru a stop sign.

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  • Crankers May 11, 2006 at 9:30 am

    Nothing annoys the kind of driver who guns it from stop sign to stop sign like bringing your bicycle to a full and complete stop at each sign and looking both ways before moving again while taking the full lane you are entitled to. Following the letter of the law can be fun and entertaining. I recommend it.

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  • Esther May 11, 2006 at 9:31 am

    I think it’s specious to say that cops are “just enforc[ing] the law” when we all know that how one chooses the enforce the law makes all the difference in the world. I have gotten an icnreased feeling in the last year particularly downtown that police, due to the highly publicized cyclist deaths last year, are trying to enforce the law on cyclists themselves, rather than on unsafe drivers.

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  • Jonathan Maus May 11, 2006 at 9:36 am


    We all agree the police should use their resources on real safety problems. But who makes the decision on what constitutes a “real safety problem”?

    Should we really expect the Traffic Division of the Police Bureau to research crash data and make complex decisions about traffic safety before responding to a citizen complaint?

    They honored a citizen’s concern, went to the site, determined the concerns to be valid, then decided to crack down on a high volume of road users egregiously breaking the law.

    Perhaps we should focus on why there are so many cyclists breaking the law at this particular location.

    After all, the Police enforce the laws that are put in the books by lawyers, legislators, and bike advocacy groups. They work streets that are engineered and designed by the City of Portland and ODOT. These streets are full of many people that resent them and are just waiting for a reason to complain about their conduct. This puts them in a tough position.

    Are they always perfect in their work? No. Is anyone? No.

    This is getting long…I just think we need to keep the focus on solving the problem instead of allowing the usual divisiveness and bad feelings between cops, cyclists and motorists get in the way.

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  • Evan Manvel May 11, 2006 at 9:52 am

    A few comments:

    Again, there are limited police resources, and police should focus those resources on making the community safe. In deciding what is a real safety problem, we can look at ten years worth of data on where crashes and injuries have happened. We have data, and we should use it.

    The PDOT Traffic Safety Division knows where the (reported)crashes have happened for the past ten years. We’ve seen those maps, and I’m sure the Police have seen them. So I think, yes, we should expect them to do due diligence before spending their limited resources (a morning’s worth of four motorcycle cops) on a citizen complaint. It would take them all of ten minutes.

    And just because a couple cyclists were rude to a pedestrian doesn’t justify giving tickets to every cyclist who is using a designated bikeway.

    Finally, yes, we should focus on why a stop sign exists in the middle of a down-hill on a designated bike way, when there is little cross traffic. It’s ridiculous.

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  • Jonathan Maus May 11, 2006 at 10:06 am

    This is also being discussed in the Forums.

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  • Scott May 11, 2006 at 10:13 am

    What gets me about this is that the law does not account for reasonable behavior. When I roll stop signs on lightly traveled streets in SE I am breaking the law just as surely as the fools who I see running redlights across burnside of MLK.

    I commend the police for making an effort to use judgement in enforcement but I think they need to work more on education. Like the lights program there has to be a positive response to this behavior. Maybe giving folks a flier with accident data and a warning. I hate to say it but I think folks need a graphic illustration of what a car an do to a cyclist.

    Also, the police’s stock is pretty low in my mind when on a regular basis I see them harassing the homeless and others on horse back and in cars in water front park. As a clean cut, middle class cyclist I’m sure if stopped I’d be treated much differently then some others. Fair or not that is the reality of things. I want to be able to trust the police but I just can’t. Have them do ticketing on bikes, have them prominantly display badge numbers on their clothing, they need to take steps to open themselves to public monitoring. Enforce accountability, if they have nothing to hide they should welcome public monitoring as a way of optimizing professionalism and preventing abuses.

    Next legislative session we, as cyclists, need to fight hard to make it legal for cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs. There is a legal solution to this issue, we just need to make it happen. I has been tried and hopefully it can happen in the next go round.

    Does anyone know if cops have been asking for riders drivers licenses? As near as I can tell from the law, you are required to accurately identify yourself but not produce identification while opperating a bike. Does anyone with more legal knowledge know if this is correct? If so I would assume you would not want to produce ID to prevent the violation being placed on your driving record. Lawyers?

    Wear your helmet, have lights and ride safe but remember the law is not always the best guide of safety. I’ll be calling 823-SAFE to complain about the people who park in the bike lane near my house. Including on car with a Giant bicycles bumper sticker and to report all of the cars tearing down my narrow side street at 35mph. We have to advocate for our concerns if we want them addressed. Be safe and advocate!


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  • Andy May 11, 2006 at 10:20 am

    Curt, I agree with you. As far as this particular sting is concerned, this does seem to be a case where a sting arose from community policing, not from some vendetta against cyclists. I don’t have any problem with a justified sting like this one.

    Since you addressed your response directly to me, please reread my previous posting. Apparently I came across as one of the yahoos. I do not advocate cyclists breaking the law, and I will not apologize for those who do.

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  • Ethan May 11, 2006 at 10:33 am

    The idea that the police have ever used statistics as the sole basis for where to focus their energy is rather naive. Squeaky wheel, whatever you want to call it . . . public perception of what constitutes a problem is at times a more important. Looking at something like this only through the narrow lens of bicycle users is not going to get anyone anywhere. The numbers that Jonathan posted do not tell a tale of grossly unbalanced policing, indeed they show the opposite. The lady who complained has every bit as much right to do so as someone who finds a truck parked in their bike lane.

    Crash stats and hyperbole about the intersection design really has little to do with this particular situation, it’s all just spin. That said. if that 4-way stop sign really should go it will certainly make a compelling entry for May 11th on the BTA blog, as well as a prime opportunity for yet another letter to someone.

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  • Pete May 11, 2006 at 10:43 am


    They responded to a complaint, then observed that, in the officer’s opinion, had some merit. You would expect the police to respond to your complaint, no matter what it was.

    If you refuse to obey the law on your bike, then be prepared to pay the fine. I do. I don’t always follow the law on my bikes, but if I get caught, I get caught. I don’t care what Joe Driving Public or Jane Cycle Commuter thinks of my riding style. The truth is, there are bad drivers and there are bad cyclists and when either one breaks a law, they should be prepared to pay for it, and quit their belly aching about it, because how often had you gotten “away” with it, before you were caught?

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  • Ethan May 11, 2006 at 10:47 am

    Amen Pete

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  • West Cougar May 11, 2006 at 10:48 am

    Precisely Ethan. The correct course of action here is to lobby for legislation, such as has been enacted in other states, which allows bicyclists to treat stop signs as yields.

    There is nothing mysterious, confusing, or conflicted about such a legislative change. There is nothing sacrosanct or immoral about rolling a stop sign. However, the letter of the law does not allow it. Cyclist’s proper reaction should be a demand to change the letter of the law.

    The BTA’s talked about making it a priority, but when push comes to shove in the legislature it is easy to let that one slide and concentrate on less controversial things like project funding. Perhaps if enough members spoke out to the BTA on this issue they would move it up their priority list.

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  • Garlynn May 11, 2006 at 10:49 am

    I’d like to see a design solution, rather than an enforcement solution, at this intersection. How about removing the stop signs for the bike route, and installing a traffic circle instead, along with the stripey crosswalks?

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  • Jonathan Maus May 11, 2006 at 10:57 am

    West Cougar (and others),

    The BTA’s Legislative Committee has interest in considering a change in the stop sign and red light law for bicycles.

    A statute already exists in Idaho (and it was written by a guy who now works at PDOT!)

    The BTA approached me several weeks ago to get feedback from thecommunity on the issue. I haven’t posted it yet, but I am working on it now and will post it ASAP.

    Stay tuned.

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  • Tim May 11, 2006 at 11:25 am

    Part of my regular bike rides consist of coming to a stop and holding a trackstand either momentarily until clear or until the light turns green. I assume these cyclists running stop signs / lights either do not posess this skill, are in a hurry to make up time for their slow speed, do not care about self preservation, or they are just plain ignorant.
    Remember kids, cars will kill you. It doesn’t matter what special rights you might think you have, that car will flatten you.

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  • Evan Manvel May 11, 2006 at 11:31 am

    I actually wouldn’t expect the police to respond to my complaint regardless of what it is. I would expect the police to listen and decide whether addressing my complaint is the action that will most further public safety. If not, they can tell me why they’re not going to respond to it. This probably should have been one of those situations. Or they could have gotten the City to respond by putting up a sign, or fixing the intersection.

    If you doubt the police’s responsiveness, do a little experiment: next time you see a police officer, complain that the cars are going 3 miles (or 6 miles, or 9, or 12 miles) over the speed limit and ask that they enforce the law and give out tickets. Point out that the likelihood of fatality in a car-pedestrian crash goes up dramatically with speed, to 90% when a car is going 40mph, and that your complaint is based on actual traffic safety information. See the response you get.

    I’d bet that the response you’ll get (and I’ve gotten) is “judges wouldn’t stand for it, people wouldn’t stand for it, and I’m not about to do that,” not, “You’re right, that’s the law, people are breaking that law, it’s proven to be dangerous, and you’re a citizen complaining about it, and therefore we’ll enforce the law.”

    People have tried to get this stop sign taken out before, in the 1990s. We can try to get it taken out again. It was put in after a citizen who lived on the corner insisted it go in when the Salmon Street bikeway was created in the 1980s.

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  • Geezer May 11, 2006 at 11:44 am

    As a daily commuter, via bicycle, I see bike riders blowing thru stop signs and red lights. Its like those traffic control devices don’t exist. At my age I don’t feel like loosing 5 years to a wheel chair so I stop for red lights and at least SLOW DOWN at stop signs. I will even stop and let cars have the right of way at stop signs. try it some time, it puts a smile on the drivers face (sometimes). What blows me away is when a biker pulling a child behind them blows a stop sign without even looking side to side. Now thats crazy. . .
    If we bike riders don’t clean up our act I’m sure we will have to be licensed to ride within the next 5 years.

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  • Ethan May 11, 2006 at 11:51 am

    I pulled in to a minmart in NE Portland about 4 weeks ago and let an officer know about 2 cars parked in a bikelane. He said it wasn’t his area (a mile up the road) but he’d go check it out . . . pretty responsive if you ask me. Seemed like a super nice guy and he took me seriously from the word go. I have had some huge issues with some of the bad apples on the force, but the vast majority of police officers are like this guy. They don’t get up in the morning dreaming of ways to screw cyslists.

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  • Dan May 11, 2006 at 11:55 am

    I believe technically, a track stand is not a legal stop. From what I understand, on a bike, you are not legally stopped unless you put a foot down.

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  • Jonathan Maus May 11, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    RE: Legal stops and trackstands. I posted something about this back in November. It includes a quote from former Commander Bill Sinnott.

    On that note, I have also heard that some cops are giving tickets to trackstanders on fixies. Unless I misunderstand the law, this should not be happening and needs to be stopped.

    If anyone has gotten a ticket on their fixie after coming to a complete stop, I’d be interested to hear about it.

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  • the serrach May 11, 2006 at 12:19 pm

    there has got to be some middle ground here..if a cyclist slows to 5mph and rolls through when it’s all clear, they should not be ticketed just like a car should not be.

    there are some othere considerations w/r/t bikes as well.

    1. i don’t have to turn my head, in many cases, to see that traffic is clear right and left. if officers are using this as basis, they should not. i have nothing impeding my site.

    2. i can come to a complete stop on my fixie or geared bike without putting my foot down are doing a proper track stand. just a quick, yet complete, stop.

    so it’d be nice to think cops are suddenly a nuance understanding bunch but… it has not been my experience.

    ps i don’t live in portland, so good luck with this.

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  • Crankers May 11, 2006 at 12:23 pm

    “People have tried to get this stop sign taken out before, in the 1990s. We can try to get it taken out again” -Evan

    Sounds like it’s a good time to try again. That intersection ought to be a 2-way. Who do we write and what points should we make?

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  • Seba May 11, 2006 at 12:52 pm

    “People have tried to get this stop sign taken out before, in the 1990s. We can try to get it taken out again” -Evan

    “Do, or do not. There is no try” -Yoda

    “I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell” -Harry Truman

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  • Andy May 11, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    In Idaho bicyclists can roll through a stop sign “with due caution and at a prudent speed” (or words to that effect). Oregon should have a similar law on the books. Under this system, if you get hit running a sign, it would be obvious you weren’t being cautious or prudent, thus releasing the driver from liability. It’s a win-win situation.


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  • Randy May 11, 2006 at 1:19 pm

    There is a post on the Shift list regarding traffic warrants required to install a stop sign or in this case a four way stop, along with an opinion that this intersection doesn’t meet the warrants. See this link: http://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/shift/2006-05/msg00099.html

    But all it would take for that stop sign to go away is a ladder and a socket wrench at 2AM (Just sayin’).

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  • brock May 11, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    Did any cyclists get a ticket in this sting for a trackstand? Did any not get a ticket for slowing close to a stop? Or were they all flying through at a relatively high rate of speed?

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  • Greg Raisman May 11, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    It is, indeed, true that the 823-SAFE number has received a number of concerns from several people about the speed of cyclists through the stop sign at 23rd & Salmon. One of the neighbors included a blind woman who reported trouble crossing the street.

    It is also true that all requests for enforcement are reviewed by Police to see if violations are occurring at the location and if enforcement is feasible to operate at a given location. Further information about how enforcement at this particular location was selected for enforcement should be directed to the Portland Police Traffic Division.

    Also, let me give a little further background on 823-SAFE. 823-SAFE is a customer service phone line and email address that is housed in the Portland Office of Transportation. We regularly receive requests for enforcement. Other requests relate to parking, intrersection safety, pedestrian & bicycle safety, school safety, traffic calming, visibility, and parking. One person staffs the service to respond to citywide requests.

    In addition to 823-SAFE, the same staff receives emails about the same subject matters at safe@pdxtrans.org. If there is a desire to provide a collective community voice about a particular place, it would help us serve you better and continue to serve the myriad of other citywide issues that come in if larger groups concerned about a specific issue send requests through the safe@pdxtrans.org address rather than the 823-SAFE line.

    If people in the bicycling community and/or the BTA would like better understand how these services work and how to utilize them, we’re be happy to organize a meeting with PDOT, Police, and the bicycling community to meet to discuss how to use this limitted resource.

    Having said all that, here’s the list of locations with the highest number of reported bicycle crashes in the city from 1995-2004:


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  • josh m May 11, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    i used to come to full stops at all stop signs, wait at red lights, signal, etc…
    That was until day after day I was cut off, almost hit, hit, or yelled at that I shouldn’t be on the road.
    If i’m not going to be treated like I belong there, then fuck it. why bother? the majority of drivers don’t even follow those rules. I know this, because everyday I am either hit or almost hit by a driver not following the law.
    The difference being, that when I run a stop sign, I am the only one that is hurt, when car runs a stop sign, everyone can be hurt.

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  • Randy May 11, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    Proactive motorist education is the biggest item I feel is missing from PDOT’s traffic safety programs. Some kinda sacred cow or something, I guess. PDOT’s attitude seems to be that motorists are just supposed to learn by osmosis, from seeing all the bicyclists on the streets.

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  • Ken May 11, 2006 at 6:20 pm

    I really hate it when bikers say that running stop signs places only them at risk. That is retarded and self centered. I know for a fact that if I am on my bike, and get hit by a biker running a stop sign it is going to hurt me. Furthermore, a car is going to try and avoid a collision with a biker who runs a stop sign. This puts people in the car at risk, as well as other traffic, pedestrians and bikers. Pull your head out of your self righteous ass for one second and think about it.

    I’m all for rolling through a stop sign after making sure it’s clear. AFTER IT’S CLEAR. I can’t even count the number of times I stop at a stop sign and some jackass blows right by me without even looking at why I’m stopping. Usually it’s for a pedestrian at a crosswalk or something of the sort. If bikers would show more respect out on the roads then maybe we would get a little more.

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  • Hugo May 11, 2006 at 7:38 pm

    I have to second Ken’s thought there, but with acknowledgement (with which I am fairly sure Ken would agree) that there is a HUGE difference between getting hit by a car and getting hit by a bike.

    I humbly suggest that traffic fines be based on combined driver/rider/vehicle weight. Maybe 10 cents a pound. That would be approx. $20 for your avg. cyclist out there, and something like $270 for the driver of a 2,500 lb car (adding in driver weight). If nothing else, it would hammer home the difference in weight and power.

    Yeah folks, roll the stop sign, but please just check yourself.

    And Josh, think about this, so you run a stop sign, get hit and killed by a car that had the right of way, and what do you think is the effect on the driver? Even if it wasn’t his/her fault, can you imagine the guilt that they would live with everyday? It’s the same thought that bugs me when I see cyclists out at night without lights. If I hit and killed someone when I was driving, because I couldn’t see them, I would be devestated.

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  • Randy May 11, 2006 at 8:34 pm

    I commute through this intersection often and regularly see bike rascals blow through the stop sign at high speeds. Observing a motorcycle cop on his way up Salmon today at high rate of speed to get to this intersection was however a bit discouraging. On may way down this hill this morning a woman almost walked in front of me with her pooch because she clearly failed to look both ways before crossing the street. We all need to be respectful,observant, and share the road.

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  • Randy May 11, 2006 at 9:15 pm

    Does anyone posting here really think that if each and everyone of us called 823-SAFE (or used the email address) and complained about the countless motorists who regularly speed on SE Division and SE Hawthorne (for example), that the police would respond at all to these complaints, let alone in the same manner they have to a complaint of bicyclists running a stop sign at a location where safety isn’t even much of an issue? This is selective enforcement at its worst and indicative of the motorist-first, anti-bicylclist bias of the police. And if Greg Raisman is passing on information to the police that he obtained from the 823-SAFE line that has resulted in this enforcement action, he should be ashamed of himself. Compared to the risks motorists create throughout the city daily, there is no real safety issue here at all, and ticketing bike commuters at this location has no real safety benefit to the community at large, it just serves to divide the cycling community and create antagonism between cyclists and the police.

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  • Randy May 11, 2006 at 9:15 pm

    Addendum: SE Salmon like SE Lincoln St. is increasing becoming an east/west bicycle commuting route. This highlights the need for a central eastside bike only commuter road. In the 1900’s, before the rise of bike nation, progressive Portland put in a streecar all the way to Mt. Tabor. With limited public input the city is now in the process of annexing part of MLK for a fancy new north/south streetcar. Let plan now on how to annex an east/west street for those zero energy vehicles powered by bagels and two legs. Maybe we’ll decide on Salmon street. Aren’t bikes more efficient than street cars and trams?

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  • Mr. Smith May 11, 2006 at 10:57 pm

    Funny. I just happened across this website tonight after getting a **censored** ticket on this sting.
    That street is a bike route. There are no other stop signs going down that hill from about 38th to 20th and it’s a nice zoom down the hill. **censored** that **censored** who complained. This is just another bullsh*t sting at an easily idenified area where people are of course going to blow through that stop sign. It’s a 4 way stop. You’re going 35 mph down the hill. If there aren’t any cars there, guess what…why stop. Yeah, yeah, I don’t want to hear the bike **censored** safety speech. This sucks. And the ticket is ridiculous at $250.00 or whatever it is.
    Kiss My **censored** PPD.

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  • Geezer May 11, 2006 at 10:59 pm

    Good points Mr. Smith

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  • Evan Manvel May 12, 2006 at 8:00 am

    About who to talk to about removing the stop sign:

    Talking to the folks at the City, the first step is to call 823-SAFE and ask them to look into removing it. That’s a somewhat lengthly process, but only because they look into the issue carefully. If they look into it and decide not to remove it, we’ll have their reasons and we can decide who to lobby next.

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  • Tbird May 12, 2006 at 8:14 am

    If you don’t stop at stop sogns you could get hit by a car, or even another bike…Ouch! That hurts.
    I stop, what you do is your choice. Ok, sometimes I blow thru, but only when no one is looking 😉

    But, I honestly feel that we are lucky (or smart) to live in such a bike friendly city, so it is incumbent upon us to represent cyclists as a responsible group if we ever expect to get respect as a legit form of transport from the masses.

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  • Tim May 12, 2006 at 8:46 am

    If I were to be ticketed for “not stopping at a stop light” when I had come to a complete stop held a trackstand for two minutes and proceeded to hold the trackstand as the officer called me out, I think I’d have to punch that cop in the face (well, at least feel like doing it). I’m sure the laws are put in place to promote safety. When someone is obviously showing that they are a skilled and cautious rider, it seems absolutely ridiculous for them to recieve a ticket. Never the less, I’ve been riding bikes in Portland for 31 years and have never recieved a ticket or had an accident with a car or pedestrian.

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  • jeff May 12, 2006 at 9:21 am

    I got one of those tickets on Wednesday morning. I always slow way down at that intersection to make sure there are no cars or pedestrians. In fact, while he was giving me the ticket, the cop commented that I slowed down and said something about me being clocked at 7mph.

    A $242 ticket for safely rolling through a stop sign is completely ridiculous.

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  • Jonathan Maus May 12, 2006 at 10:11 am

    Mr. Smith (comment #46),

    You’ll notice I censored your comment. In the future, please try to be more civil with your points.

    I work hard to create a space that is moderate and tolerant of all points of view. Please respect that.


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  • Greg Raisman May 12, 2006 at 10:43 am

    823-SAFE is a customer service line and email. It’s role is to be a central location for citizens to bring their concerns about traffic safety to the City.

    The staff person who answers those requests has two basic functions. 1) To provide basic information about the services that primarily transportation, and secondarily Police Traffic Division provide. 2) To intake issues, log them, and distribute them to the appropriate service provider within Transportation and/or Police.

    Basically, the function is information and referral. The person who staffs 823-SAFE has no role in decision making or direct service delivery. They do not make any judgements about what information to share or not to when a particular service is requested.

    The only Police related calls that 823-SAFE can help with are those related to traffic enforcement issues. These would include concerns related to speed and violations of traffic control (e.g., stop signs and signals).

    In the case of 23rd and Salmon, the citizen concern was routed from 823-SAFE to the Police Traffic Division. This was the case because Police are responsible for responding to requests regarding enforcement. As I mentioned in my post above, the enforcement at 23rd and Salmon was a Portland Police Traffic Division operation. Any questions related to it should be directed to them.

    Just to be clear, there are a lot of issues that I am not invovled with; this is one of them. I will, however, continue to work to reduce the number of people who die and get hurt on their bicycles. I also remain convinced that it’s a shared community responsibility between motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians to make our streets safer.

    Greg Raisman
    Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership
    Portland Office of Transportation
    (503) 823-1052

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  • Matt P. May 12, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    A lot of good points made here. A couple comments:

    Crankers – I totally agree. Obeying the law really annoys the driver in a hurry. Probably not the wisest course of action, but immensely satisfying. Or, as my wife says, “living well is the best revenge.”

    Scott said “I’ll be calling 823-SAFE to complain about the people who park in the bike lane near my house.”

    Scott, take photos of the vehicle and the license plate, while it’s parked in the bike lane. Note the time and date. There is a process that a citizen can go through to ticket the driver who keeps doing this – I can’t remember the exact process, hopefully someone else here can fill in the details on that. Also consider printing out the Oregon statute prohibiting this (ORS 811.550 (23) is the relevant statute) and placing it under their windshield wiper (though this might really annoy them).

    Tim – “cars will kill you” – Amen to that. Even with the best visibility, a car can get in your way before you know it, and at 25+ mph, a bike’s turning ability is pretty limited.

    Josh m said “If i’m not going to be treated like I belong there, then fuck it. why bother?”

    Josh – Because when one of us says that, one or more drivers sees us not obeying the law and figures “If they’re not going to obey the law, why should I give them room / let them in / watch out for them?” It feeds on itself, and more and more people don’t care. I personally believe this is the main reason why the problem is as bad as it is. Someone has to take the initiative to do what’s right rather than what’s convenient. If we take the initiative, then not only do we encourage others, but we then also have the moral high ground.

    Randy, re: proactive education – Amen, brother. Especially regarding bicycles and pedestrians. People don’t know the law, which is especially obvious if you read the “Close Calls” section of the forum on this site.

    Mr. Smith – If you’re going 35 mph down the hill, the stop sign isn’t the issue – driving faster than the posted speed limit is the issue. Even without the sign cyclists and motorists should be watching their speed. That area is residential – children can run out at any moment. If you’re downhilling, ask yourself this: can you stop in time (or turn in time) to avoid hitting a child?

    Jeff – 7 mph is not “safely rolling through a stop sign”, it’s twice walking speed for the average pedestrian. Cops typically ticket cars that roll a stop at 5 mph or more. (last I checked, anyway – if anyone has updated info on that, please say so)

    -Matt P.

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  • crankers May 12, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    I had the pleasure of enjoying a couple minutes of 7th Heaven last night while I was waiting for food, and I must say the story was very applicable to this very situation. I’ll share:

    Character #1: My friends are responsible
    Character #2: Your friends are 18 and they drink. Drinking when you are 18 is illegal. When you do something illegal, you are being irresponsible, and I don’t want to be with irresponsible people… but, I love you.

    How can anyone argue with that?

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  • jeff May 12, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    Matt P. –

    I totally disagree with you. That’s fine that you’re of the opinion that that 7 mph is not safely rolling through a stop sign, but it’s far from fact.

    I felt completely safe. I could have easily stopped if a pedestrian had jumped out in front of me. I slowed down that much to make sure there were no pedestrians or cars. When I saw there were none, I rolled through. Completely safe.

    Was it illegal – yes. Will I ever come to a complete stop at that intersection – not unless there are cars or pedestrians present. in fact I rode that same route on the way home that same day and once again did not stop at that intersection. Not because I’m some sort of ‘rebel’ but I feel that a $242 ticket for a cyclist is completely absurd. There are people that get arrested for drunk driving that never have to pay a dime, and don’t go to jail. Explain that one to me…

    The next time I see cops down from that intersection, I will be standing at the top of the hill with a sign warning cyclists that cops are present.

    My main point was i did not “blow through” the stop sign. I slowed to a safe speed to make sure it was clear. If you feel that 7 mph is not a “safe speed”, well that’s where we disagree. I’ve been riding for years and feel completely confident in my bike handling skills – especially at that speed.

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  • Kristina Nunn May 12, 2006 at 5:39 pm

    I am not perfect, I’ve been known to run a few stop signs…..I only do it after slowing way down and looking both ways a couple of times.
    I am a bike commuter, recreational cyclist, I try to ride defensively, I do not own a car, but I respect those that do. I see horrible atrocities committed by cyclists every day and I personally feel that the police do need to be more involved in enforcing the law. Many cyclists ride as though they own the road or something and the cars are invisible…cutting across lanes, cutting in front of cars (without bothering to signal), running lights and signs, etc.
    These cyclists ruin it for those of us who want “equal rights” on the roads and try our best to act accordingly.
    If I got a ticket, then I’d probably already know what I did wrong…so be it. I will be more dilligent in stopping and I hope you will too. If you saw cars repeatedly rolling through every stop sign at 7 mph, you’d probablt be peived. So, when does stop not mean stop? If we only stop when cars or ped’s are seen, then maybe we should replace all the stop signs with yeild signs? (I don’t think this would be a good idea).

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  • Jeff M. May 13, 2006 at 12:01 am

    I lived at the corner of se 21st and Salmon for two years in 1997 and 1998. Two very short blocks west of this four way stop on Salmon. This was a popular bicycle route then, and I’m sure has only gotten busier. First off, I’ve run that same stop sign dozens of times. Although I don’t ride that way anymore, I did try to be aware of others when not stopping at that sign or any other. Riding on se Salmon as a bike route has many potential dangers. My closest calls were at the roundabouts a little lower where you do have the right of way, but cars have to nose out in order to see (common in portland). My opinion about the “sting” regarding bicycles running this stop sign varies. I will say , however, that there was an EXTREMELY “squeaky wheel” living very close to this intersection on se Salmon when I lived there. Whether or not this person has anything to do with these current complaints I don’t know…but said person did get at least three different neighbors cars towed by the city, all licenced and insured, just not driven often. Some people know how to squawk really loud. Maybe several people did complain, and maybe these tickets were justified. But, it may be possible that problems like this arise from a few people with an excess of time micro- patrolling their neighborhoods, and taking it upon themselves to suck up public resources at the time and expense of others. Remember the FCC?

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  • Randy May 13, 2006 at 7:38 am

    From post #27: “People have tried to get this stop sign taken out before, in the 1990s. We can try to get it taken out again. It was put in after a citizen who lived on the corner insisted it go in when the Salmon Street bikeway was created in the 1980s.”

    I wonder if the person who insisted on the stop sign, called in the complaint, and is the neighborhood busybody described by Jeff in post #58 are all the same person?

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  • Dr. Mark Ross May 13, 2006 at 7:39 am

    someone said: “A $242 ticket for safely rolling through a stop sign is completely ridiculous.”

    me: safely? doing something contradictory to the law is safe? don’t use that line with a judge.

    someone said: “it may be possible that problems like this arise from a few people with an excess of time micro- patrolling their neighborhoods”

    me: “micro patrolling”. really? Perhaps neighbors are very pleased with the efforts of this “micropatroller” keeping the neighbood crime free, safe for kids and pleasant. I don’t think “micropatrolling” judgements are ours to make.

    Face it people, you’re pissed because you got caught. Arguments about “excessive fines” need to have been made before one gets caught, not after the fact.

    One thing for sure, bikers that ignore the law are making law abiding citizens, especially ones that ride bikes” less enthusiasic about their plight.

    Lets lead by example on the road, not by words in a forum.

    Have a nice day.

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  • Kathleen May 13, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    I live a few houses away from SE 23rd and Salmon. My 57-year-old husband was ticketed on May 10th for rolling through the intersection. I’m not sure how he could have attained the speed of 9 mph (which the officer said he was doing) in such a short distance on his old touring bike, but I don’t even know if that can be contested. My husband has a strong sense of self-preservation and always slows down and looks before going through intersections. As he has always had a lot of respect for the police I think his feelings were actually hurt that he would be targeted! My husband is a person who frequently quotes the inscription on the Skidmore Fountain: “Good citizens are the riches of a city.”

    I have lived on this designated bike route for 23 years. As soon as Salmon Street became a bike route vehicular traffic increased. I know of drivers who use it as a short-cut to avoid Hawthorne. I personally feel more nervous cycling on Salmon because of cars, and so generally avoid designated cycling routes.

    I have very sedentary anti-bicycle neighbors who are quite happy about the sting. I don’t know who the complainant was but I’m sure whoever it was is not happy with me because I went out to warn cyclists coming home from work on Thursday. The motorcycle cop who was lying in wait proceeded to drive over to where I was standing and told me I had to get out of the street. We discussed the sting operation for about 15 minutes (an unproductive conversation) but he did inform me that it was the officers’ discretion to issue a warning or a ticket. So I do feel that the whole sting operation was punitive rather than an attempt to educate cyclists and change behavior.

    Sorry this is so long. I do believe laws apply to everyone but this whole situation does not make sense. I think the intersection needs to be changed. I would like the sign removed as it is in the middle of a downhill (Or uphill, depending on which direction you’re going) stretch and it is hard for old fogeys like me to get any momentum on the uphill after coming to a total stop. I would like to see major speed bumps on Salmon with cuts (or whatever you call them) for cyclists to get through.

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  • Jeff M. May 13, 2006 at 5:26 pm

    If getting licenced cars towed because they’re rarely driven, (maybe the driver was commuting by bike!}, and complaining about things like uncut grass (among other things), keeps our streets safer for kids and more pleasent, then I guess my priorities have been really mixed up. Thanks for setting me straight, and setting such a good example on the road, and not with “words in a forum”. Oh, wait, you put in your two cents too!

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  • Dr. Mark Ross May 13, 2006 at 8:43 pm

    jeff, here’s the thing . . . suppose a substancial more number of bikers start riding “safely” in the wrong directon in the bike lane or the wrong way down a one-way street, stop using lights at night, fail to yield to peds or riding on the sidewalk, IN ADDITION to blowing stop signs or running red lights — what kind of reputation would we have then?

    We can’t have individual bicylists deciding on their own which laws should be enforced and which should be ignored.

    Yes, there may be unfair laws and unfair traffic controls and perhaps fines are high. But the time to get support to resolve these things is before you get caught.

    Right now you don’t have my support.

    We can choose to disagree on this matter and move on.

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  • Jeff M. May 14, 2006 at 2:51 am

    Dear Dr. Ross,

    “Here’s the thing”…I agree with you. Nothing is more irritating than being lumped together as a group of “disobedient” cyclists. As I stated “I don’t ride that way anymore”, but I felt that it was only fair to state that I had run that intersection before. It was my way of trying to identify with locals who now owe $242.00 for running the intersection, and others who NEVER break the law. If you reread my original post, I stated that “maybe these tickets were justified” and ” My opinion about the “sting” regarding bicycles running this stop sign varies” meaning that I’m not content with siding with the cyclists or the law enforcement at this time. Yes, the LETTER of the law was broken, and in the purist sense of upholding the law cyclists should stop at EVERY stop sign. The reality is that right now that simply doesn’t happen.

    My original post was simply to say that SOMETIMES, SOME people complain very loudly, and that can lead to a focus on one specific issue. Be it a disobeyed stop sign, or whatever. And MAYBE this COULD have been the case here. Maybe, maybe not.

    As for me, I’ll keep using my lights, hand signals, and helmet while abiding traffic laws to the best of my ability, while trying not to get hit by unisured motorists while I have the right of way (oh, yeah that already happened). Anyhow, I wasn’t looking for your support or any others, I just wanted to give an opinion. Which, if you’ll notice wasn’t really about cyclists following the law or not, just that SOMETIMES, SOME people MIGHT suffer from over zealous nit-pickers. (Not that that was the case here, God forbid.)

    Agreeing to disagree, or agree, whatever it may be. I’m over it.

    Jeff M.

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  • […] Last week, there was a lot of discussion about a stop sign enforcment mission by the Traffic Division of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). In response to a citizen complaint, they sent several officers out to SE 23rd and Salmon Streets to nab law-breaking cyclists. […]

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  • Mark Kirby May 15, 2006 at 9:55 am

    I was one of the cyclists who got ticketed last week at 23rd and Salmon SE. This is a route I take often as I commute to my job in Beaverton from my home in Mt. Tabor neighborhood. I have always treated this particular stop sign by slowing down, looking for cross traffic and pedestrians and rolling through as long as the intersection is clear. I understand that this is technically not the legal and proper method. I am also prepared to go to the scheduled hearing before the judge and adimit my guilt.

    Here are some facts: I was cited for running the stop sign at 9mph. I was pulled over by one of approximately 10 police officers, all parked on motorcycles. He treated me courteously and explained in detail the reasons and nature of the citation. He told me that the police were out that day in response to neighborhood complaints. He also told me that as long as I have a good driving record, the judge would most likely significantly reduce the $242 fine or even waive it completely.

    I was definitely annoyed at the situation. While admitting that I did not come to a complete stop, I do feel that I was proceeding throught the intersection in a safe manner, considering the low traffic nature of the site. I also questioned the necessity of such a large group of officers, all on motorcycles no less. Couldn’t some of them have been out enforcing cars to stay out of bike lanes that day? (something I see every day that I ride).

    All this aside, I want to be a responsible cyclist. I do obey traffic laws around the city in most cases. I admit I am guilty of running a stop sign or 2 on the quiet streets – a practice I will no longer exercise.

    If anyone reading this has some advice on how to handle my upcoming hearing on the $242 citation, please let me know.

    Mark Kirby

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  • freddy May 16, 2006 at 2:11 pm

    I heard that the Mayor’s office has received over 25 citizen complaints about this enforcement action…

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  • hank ziety May 23, 2006 at 11:03 am

    lots of good comments but none? about the fact that lt kruger is a collector of nazi memorabilia and both he and cap rawley like beating up demonstrators. yeah cyclists “shouldnt” blow stop signs and thug cops SHOULD NOT HAVE JOBS. and its anxiety-provoking that they head traffic.

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  • Jim June 8, 2006 at 11:03 am

    Hooray for the portland police and the citizen who complained about the bikers speeding and running the stop sign, I drove for a living for over 27 years locally in portland many years in the dowtown core area I saw my share of motorist’s disreguard for the traffic laws
    but the number of arrogant bike riders who violate or ignore basic traffic laws is staggering, I have been almost run down while walking in my neighborhhod 3 tiomes this year
    by bicylist running a stop sign as we were trying to cross legaly at the corner, then have the bicylist turn and shout obscenities or give us the finger as though we were at fault.

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  • Paul June 20, 2006 at 10:28 pm

    I got a ticket today downtown as I was traveling from 122nd and E airport. My seat stay nut broke so riding was really a bummer. I went downtown and saw that Cycle Gallery had 6pm bankers hours, so forget the fix. I tried to find a bike shop quickly where I rememebered one around 4th or 3rd or so a few years ago. Well to no avail so I used Morrison? Looking around I saw the transit police behind me, and rolled over the Max tracks o get out of thir way and any other car traffic. There was no W bound train. So I got my foot on the curb, did not see the “do not turn L on Red sign” On 5th street in front of the Pioneer Courthouse Bus stop hooked a L slowly going out after seeing no on coming car/bus etc. I decided to take the bus home to Tigard cause I was pretty much spent after my ride. Well, out come the sirens, and out come 2 fairly agressive but nice cops. I gave them my ID Driver’s License and they looked things over. He pulls out the ticket book and writes me one. He could have got me for 3 violations, but he only writes me for the $242 tikie for the L turn. Well, I will read my driver’s manual and learn some more. My fault I guess, low awareness. I was stopped, I did look, was not speeding, and ignorantly thought I was safe-or atleast not comitting an unsafe act. Looking at the other bikers acts (usually Kiddos) and people Jay walking across the streets, I just did not really realize what I did until it was explained to me. OUCH. I will go to court and tell them my plight, my 1st ticket in years, on my bike. That is a lot of moneyPehrpas I should be glad I did not get pinged for all 3. Could you imagine!!!!

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  • […] I just want all 95.5 listeners to know that we agree cyclists should not break the rules of the road. And just FYI, cyclists are given the same traffic fines as motorists and we are often the focus of specialized enforcement crackdowns by the police. […]

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  • […] Sure, now police seem to be focused on fixed gear riders — easy targets due to their anomalous looks, behavior and downtown concentration. And messengers and their imitators are easy for the rest of us more staid-seeming cyclists to disown. But who’s next? Recently there was a ticketing blitz aimed at cyclists downtown who left the bike lane to turn left. Cyclists have been targeted for proceeding at a jogging pace through four-way stop signs on designated low-traffic residential streets. […]

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  • Amber October 1, 2006 at 8:55 am

    If the police weren’t making an issue of cyclists running the stops… it would make the news anyhow. Probably more along the lines of “Cyclist struck and killed by SUV”… C’mon folks. We have certain safety precautions for a reason. I ride, and it’s scary to realize how comfortable drivers are in their cars, talking on phones and reaching for that mocha while turning a busy corner. I am concerned for my own safety even when obeying the law.

    We could see this as a “cyclist vs. the man’ debate, or see the ‘sting’ as an effort in harm reduction. Those violating traffic laws in this situation are the ones at most risk of harm. End of debate.

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  • Bjorn October 1, 2006 at 10:59 pm

    I disagree with amber’s statement for one reason, she has no data to back it up. There are states where stop signs are treated as yields for cyclists without it causing everyone to get hit. We have had a large number of cyclist deaths this summer, and not a one of them that I can recall was caused by a cyclist who treated a stop sign as a yield, but many that were caused by driver’s who drove when they couldn’t see well enough due to inattention or sunlight to notice the cyclist they hit.


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  • jas October 2, 2006 at 7:08 am

    it doesnt really matter what other states allow
    as far as treating stop signs as “yeild” signs if you read your oregon bike laws it does say that a bicyle is a “vehicle” and is required to abide by the same laws and regulations as a “motor vehicle” while on the street, the sidewalks are another matter and many bike riders seem to think they have right of way over the pedestrians while on the sidewalk.

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  • […] lever and rolling through stop signs (http://bikeportland.org/2006/07/28/j…t-with-fixies/ , http://bikeportland.org/2006/05/11/p…-to-complaint/) — just like those tagged auto […]

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