Harvest Century September 22nd

Cops carry out enforcement mission on morning commuters

Posted by on August 2nd, 2006 at 8:51 am

I have had several phone calls and emails about the enforcement mission being carried out by the Portland Police Bureau on the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge this morning.

I have heard reports of up four cyclists being pulled over at one time.

This was a planned enforcement mission and I remember an email about it from Evan Manvel of the BTA on the Shift list about a week ago.

I called Lieutenant Kruger this morning and he confirmed that they were, “focusing on the downtown core area and citing all modes (cars, bikes, peds, etc…).”

Among the tickets were cyclists cited for failure to use the bike lane (ORS 814.420, however the cyclist I spoke to said he was making a left-hand turn and had to leave the bike lane) and several people on fixed-gear bicycles.

One cyclist told me he was stopped by Officer Barnum (same guy involved with the Holland trial) and that the officer asked him why he chose to ride without a brake. As the rider explained how his bike worked and that it didn’t need a brake lever to stop, Officer Barnum asked, “What if your chain breaks?”

The cyclist has contacted a lawyer and plans to take the ticket to court.

I have also heard from several people that the police are “systematically” pulling over fixed-gear riding messengers in the bus mall. Lt. Kruger denied any coordinated enforcement action at this location.

Whether we like it or not, the police have every right to ticket cyclists for breaking the law wherever and whenever they feel it’s appropriate. In some regards I like when they do these missions because it reminds cyclists that we must follow the rules of the road at all times.

On the other hand, if they are ticketing cyclists unfairly and/or if they seem to be enforcing the law incorrectly, I would like to know about it. If you feel you received an undeserved ticket this morning at either of these locations, please consider sharing your story below.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you β€” Jonathan

86 Comments
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    Michael August 2, 2006 at 9:01 am

    Fair is fair IF they are giving equal weight to motor vehicle violations.

    A couple months ago I mentioned that I had never seen any enforcement of the very frequent motorist violations at SE 39th and Hawthorne. Times have changed – a couple months ago I did see a motorist stopped for something at that intersection.

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    J Price August 2, 2006 at 9:26 am

    Agreed fair is fair.

    My take on the fixie: if you can demonstrate the ability to skid your tire you comply with the law and are good to go. If you do not have that ability you get a ticket.

    If your chain breaks? That is an “accident”; people have them all the time. If a cars hydraulics go out? They have a mechanically operated [via musculature] e-brake as required by law based on size/weight. This same statute does not exist for bicycles [motorcycles/mopeds are exempt]. Besides didn’t a car in the area just recently go through the front of a convenience store when “the brakes failed” narrowly missing a shopper? Driver did not even have a chance to think about his e-brake.

    They want something different change the law; no interpretation necessary.

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    Dom August 2, 2006 at 9:37 am

    Yeah I agree also Fair is Fair. You can get a ticket in a car or on a bike. Laws are made for a reason.

    I also agree though sometimes, for whatever reason, tickets may be given unfairly. I feel you should fight that ticket if you feel the need.

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    Jonathan Maus August 2, 2006 at 9:40 am

    This is from lawyer Mark Ginsberg:

    Friends,

    If you we one of the people who got a traffic ticket this morning and you would like some legal help, we are going to try and help as much as possible.

    Please call my office at (503) 542-3000 and ask for Paige, my paralegal, please have your ticket with you when you call. She will take some info from you and then I will be in touch early next week.

    I understand several people were given tickets for not being in the bicycle lane, and for being in the left hand lane on a one way street. We have litigated cases like this and are happy to review those citations as well as others.

    Please feel free to forward or pass this email on.

    Thanks,
    –Mark Ginsberg

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    Michael August 2, 2006 at 9:50 am

    Ticketed for not being in the bike lane!!?? In many places it would be better called the suicide lane.

    Painted bike lanes can be very dangerous places that provide only an illusion of safety. One place is the suicide… I mean bike lane at the bottom of the Hawthorne bridge viaduct going west. Another is the east bound lane just after the Hawthorne viaduct where it is very easy to keep up with motor traffic, get doored, get cross-lane right turns – scary! Another is the entire length on SW Broadway.

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    Bill Basso August 2, 2006 at 9:50 am

    Is this ambulance chaser, Mark Ginsberg, the same lawyer who screwed up the Holland case by comparing her bicycle to a child’s toy and blowing a blatantly easy lay up? Yeah, trust him to fight for you…

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    Jonathan Maus August 2, 2006 at 10:02 am

    Bill,

    Mark is trying to help cyclists who might have been cited for laws that were interpreted incorrectly by the cops.

    I understand you don’t agree with his big wheel comparison (I happen to think it worked well). But please try to stay on topic instead of passing negative personal judgements.

    Thanks.

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    joel August 2, 2006 at 10:15 am

    Why not ask the cop what happens when HIS brake breaks, how is he going to stop? The chances are in the same ballpark.

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    Tankagnolo Bob August 2, 2006 at 10:26 am

    QUICK STOPS AND NO COPS

    Damn, I am glad my fixie has a brake for two reasons now.

    1-Emergency stopping.

    2- Keeps the cops happy.

    Brake cost $11 at City Bikes, cheap insurance for quick stops and no cops. Its a minus one for style points, so the bike has 9 style points instead of 10, good enough for me.

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    dotRob August 2, 2006 at 10:28 am

    I find it difficult to believe that a ticket for failure to use a bike lane could be enforceable given the new 2005 ORS revisions (see page 30 of Pedal Power, http://www.stc-law.com/bikepower.html). Where you passing? Avoiding an obstacle? Turning left?

    I have taken to leaving the bike lane on downtown Broadway frequently when I feel it is safer to take the lane of traffic — at car speed — rather than dealing with delivery trucks, parking cars, right-hand turns, and slower cyclists (not to mention the normal crop of utter idiots on their cell phones or spelunking their rectal cavities).

    It’d be asinine to get a ticket for being out of the lane under those circumstances, and I think those reasons would be applicable almost anywhere downtown.

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    shhambo August 2, 2006 at 10:28 am

    ok now I’m confused. I thought it was legal to not ride in the bike lane period. But specificlly if you ara turning left or getting into the right hand turn lane. What is the law on that?

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    Brett August 2, 2006 at 10:31 am

    It’s not really fair to call an opposing view off topic or negative simply because it’s opposing. When we don’t consider other possibilites we shut ourselves off. Look at the way like minded people have posted things on this topic… some of it is harsh and negative towards others but is accepted as being on topic.

    I understand this post it off topic. πŸ™‚

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    Preston August 2, 2006 at 10:31 am

    I’m utterly confused to. As dotRob said, all over downtown there are good reasons to ride with traffic. Especially as traffic goes bike speeds or lower. How can you possibly get cited for leaving the bike lane when half the time (especially on Broadway) the bike lane has a Taxi, Limo, or someone just not paying attention?

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    joe (BikingToronto) August 2, 2006 at 10:32 am

    It surprises me that you get tickets there for leaving a bikelane… I don’t think it’s illegal here in Toronto (atleast, I’ve never heard of someone getting a ticket for that…). I leave them fairly regularly to pass people and parked cars, and view them as the best way to get enw cyclists taking up bike commuting. πŸ™‚

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    Dr. Mark Ross August 2, 2006 at 10:34 am

    hmm . . . here we are “demanding” bike lanes from our city fathers and now here we are upset at being cited for not using the bike lane. it seems to me that we’re trying to have it both ways.

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    Dabby August 2, 2006 at 10:34 am

    Bill Basso,
    Once again, your comment is so off mark, it is ugly.
    A big wheel comparison, as in a childs bicycle is exactly what we need here.
    In the last couple of days, Ihave photographed children riding bicycles, loudly labled “NO Brakes” by the manufacturer.
    I grew up, on a very big hill, on a big wheel.
    Not only did I learn how to stop, we made a game of it.
    Mr. Ginsberg is in the right making these comparisons. These are the exact comparisons he should be making.
    I am personally trusting him to fight for me on a entirely unrelated issue as we speak.
    I do not have faith in people. I do not have faith in laws, the justice system, I do not even have faith in religon.
    But right now, I have faith in Mr. Ginsberg.
    Any other lawyer would probably tell you to just pay the ticket. A small, insignificant ticket to most, but to a messenger or other, low paid worker, a ticket that means half a paycheck.
    Do you think that there is a mint to be made off of this case?
    Is MR. Ginsberg going out this afternoon and buying a yacht?
    No, I believe that he is going straight back to his office after his luchtime ride, and going back to work for us, the normal, hard working citizen of Portland, Oregon, who, according to the police, has made the poor decision to ride a bicycle on our city streets.

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    dotRob August 2, 2006 at 10:34 am

    Sorry, my page numbers above should be 25-29 of the PDF.

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    Preston August 2, 2006 at 10:37 am

    Dr. Mark Ross, you don’t actually ride a bike, do you? Especially not in downtown. 90% of the time it’s not practical, nor safe to use the bike lane. It’s filled with other cars. It’s safer just to be traffic.

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    Jonathan Maus August 2, 2006 at 10:37 am

    There is a good reason to be confused about the bike lane thing.

    Based on several conversations I had with very respectable sources this morning, the cops have made a big mistake with a lot of these tickets.

    It is not illegal to leave the bike lane for a number of reasons.

    I hope to hear from people that were cited for this and present the facts ASAP.

    If they cited people incorrectly I feel as a community we need to respond appropriately to let them know we will not accept being targeted with bogus law enforcement.

    Stay tuned.

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    Dabby August 2, 2006 at 10:38 am

    Also, on another note, I generally downtown will leave the bikelane to commuters, and slower paced riders. I will ride anywhere else, in any other lane, most times to avoid the bike lane.
    A bike lanes is and should be considered a suggested guideline, not a way of life.

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    Preston August 2, 2006 at 10:39 am

    Bike lanes are a necessity in the suburbs (where I live), unfortunately. In Beaverton they’re your refuge from 4 lane in the city highways. And even then they’re not very safe, especially when someone inevitably wants to turn right around you. But downtown, because of the reasons mentioned above, they’re close to pointless.

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    Matt Picio August 2, 2006 at 10:52 am

    ORS 814.420 is the statute governing riding in the bike lane. It’s mandatory if a bike lane is present, unless it’s unsafe to stay in the bike lane, or when overtaking another vehicle (including another cyclist), or when preparing to execute a turn, or avoiding road hazards. It’s also legal to leave the bike lane if you are continuing straight and the bike lane is to the right of a lane where the motor vehicle MUST turn right.

    If you got ticketed for not being in the bike lane today, and you decide not to have a lawyer help you in court, I’d note that ORS 814.420(2) says “A person is not required to comply with this section unless the state or local authority with jurisdiction over the roadway finds, after public hearing, that the bicycle lane or bicycle path is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.”

    Note: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice – merely calling attention to that particular statute.

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    John Boyd August 2, 2006 at 10:53 am

    If there are any connected people out there that have knowledge of any internal police directives that lead up to this morning’s uninformed enforcement actions, Please share. Evan with BTA was apparently tipped off prior. Anything else out there?

    Surely the Mayor would have something to say about such heavy enforcement of obscure and poorly understood statutes.

    Thanks,
    John

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    Matt Picio August 2, 2006 at 11:13 am

    It was rather nice this morning to see a car get busted for driving in the bus lane. I bike to and from work downtown, but I’m also a pedestrian and ride Tri-Met. It gets really annoying when cars interfere with the bus traffic when you’re on one of the busses.

    Quick comment to John Boyd – one reason why the statutes are poorly understood is that drivers and cyclists don’t pick up and read the driving and cycling manuals that the Oregon DMV puts out – which put these laws in an easily-understood format. I’ve even started carrying a copy on the bike, in case I need to prove to the cops that I’m not breaking the law (since many of them understand them as poorly as the rest of us).

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    Evan Manvel, BTA August 2, 2006 at 11:19 am

    To be clear: this wasn’t one of the locations noted as a planned enforcement place in my e-mail to the Shift list, or in our work with the police. The BTA wasn’t tipped off to this action, and we have serious concerns about what haappened.

    We’re gathering information and setting up meetings to express our concerns.

    The Mayor’s office, if you’re concerned: 503-823-4120 or 503-823-4127.

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    Aaron August 2, 2006 at 11:23 am

    John Boyd;
    Even posted information about the police enforcement action to the Shift List (and probably to the BTA blog, and othere lists).

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    Randy August 2, 2006 at 11:26 am

    I have repeatedly advocated at the BAC that the City NOT install bike lanes in the downtown core. The City has chosen to ignore this advice and instead install a variety of mostly unsafe bike lanes within the downtown area, the worst case probably being SW Broadway.

    The downtown bike lanes are unsafe for the following reasons:

    Conflicts with parked vehicles; I am personally aware of numerous dooring incidents and at least one fatality involving the SW Broadway bike lane.

    Conflicts with turning vehicles.

    Conflicts with delivery vehicles and valet parking operations.

    The downtown bike lanes are unnecessary for the following reason: In most cases you can ride at the speed of traffic, since the downtown signals are timed for 12-15 mph.

    In my opinion, the safest place to ride downtown is in the middle lane (most North-South streets are three lanes one way), unless you are preparing to turn. On the east west streets, take your pick of the two lanes available, you’re allowed to ride left on a one-way street, on some streets this helps you avoid the busses and turning traffic.

    I just wish the cops would get a clue and follow the actual law and not their own personal interpretation or prejudices when it comes to these enforcement actions, it makes them look pretty stupid and they’re not making any points with the bicycling community; in fact I would have to say that they seem to be bent on harassing bicyclists to the maximum extent possible.

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    Randy August 2, 2006 at 11:30 am

    Mayor Tom Potter
    1221 SW Fourth Ave. Room 340
    Portland OR 97204
    503.823.4120
    503.823.3588 (fax)
    mayorpotter@ci.portland.or.us

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    Bill Basso August 2, 2006 at 11:41 am

    Daabby,
    Big Wheel? Why?

    Your predecessors (me included, been riding fixed gear since the 70’s) have worked long and hard to bring the image of the bicycle to be no longer seen as a child’s toy but as an adult’s tool. When you compare your main work tool to a toy in court you might as well be wearing clown shoes in order to be taken seriously after that. All the judge see’s is some dumb kid skidding around on a big wheel, not a skilled messenger that is the backbone of the legal system.

    Additionally the Big Wheel is equipped with a hand brake so using it as a defense to not having a hand brake is baseless and illogical. The hand brake was a big selling point since it allowed you to lock up the rear right wheel and spin out.

    Maybe you have photos of children riding bikes labeled NO brakes, but I don’t see how this is a defense of you doing the same. Childern’s bikes aren’t intended to be ridden in traffic or at high rates of speed. There are special laws in most jurisdictions giving them special privilge to the sidewalks.

    I could just as well go out and photograph kids pointing toy guns at each other, but I don’t think that would be a very acceptable defense of ponting a toy gun at people downtown myself. In the eyes of the court childern aren’t seen as mature enough to make decisions for themselves which is why they are categorized as juvenilles and are bound by a different set of standards.

    If you want to be taken seriously in court you have to present yourself as a responsible adult and a serious professional. Dress respectfully, as I said in a different post a clean bicycle jersey would be more presentable than Ms. Holland’s sleeveless undershirt and her lawyer should have told her this if he had any commitment to the case.

    But most important, stick to the facts. If you want to win you have to present an air tight case that makes what you are doing seem to appear mature, responsible and in the best interest of the community. The video made of Ms. Holland stopping a track bike and a coaster brake bike in the same distance is great, but maybe she should have made it to use for the trial rather than after. It would have been far more effective than the “Big Wheel defense”.

    I have ridden forever and been harrassed by countless officers who had no clue what I was doing riding a bicycle, but I am always polite and self effacing with them and have never been cited. That this Mark Ginsberg could lose such an easy case by exhibiting such poor judgement really makes me doubt his abilities in the courtroom. I don’t believe most lawyers would have suggested simply paying the ticket… to such an easy case against a poorly worded legislature, however if a ticket is out of budget I don’t see how laywer and court fees would be any cheaper.

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    Jonathan Maus August 2, 2006 at 11:51 am

    I couldn’t find a good, navigable version of the ORS pertaining to bicycles on the web, so I just finished formatting them myself.

    You can now read all the bike-related laws on this page.

    And each statute has it’s own link so we can direct people to specific ones when necessary.

    For example, here’s the law regarding bike lanes.

    Get smart…before you get pulled over!

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    jami August 2, 2006 at 12:14 pm

    it seems like there are a lot of exceptions allowing us to legally leave the bike lane — i’d be surprised if none applied to the biker who was ticketed.

    but i can think of a reasonable exception that’s not included just off the top of my head. turning south onto broadway, you have to either cross traffic or ride up the left lane until it’s safe to get over to the bike lane. this is not “preparing to turn left,” it’s what you have to do after you’ve made a safe left turn.

    except in a few cases, i feel much safer in bike lanes, so i’m not against them. i’m against forcing us to stay in them when it’s dangerous to us.

    i’m also against bike crackdowns when there are cars failing to signal and cutting off bikes at every intersection in town. who’s endangering whom?

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    Kazimar August 2, 2006 at 12:25 pm

    I just got a verbal warning this morning from an officer after crossing the Broadway bridge heading west and turning right at the light at the top of the bridge. He seemed to think I was supposed to stop at the green light before turning right. I would support enforcement actions if they were designed to focus on all modes of transport, and only where safety was a concern. It does seem, however, like they are focusing on bicycles, and starting to harass us even if we didn’t break any law.

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    John August 2, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    I’ve bike commuted in Portland for 6 years now. I see nothing wrong with the cops enforcing laws. I see cops monitoring intersections for cars, catching people on the max… Everyone always thinks they are being unfairly targeted… when they get caught breaking the law. I think bike rides could use a little more monitoring.

    The fixed gear bike issue is a tough one. I’ve seen loads of shitty fixed gear bikers who can’t stop for crap. I think requiring all bicycles to have one functioning brake is a fine standard. Its either that or require licence to ride a fixed gear bike.

    Given the Hyper trendiness of fixed gears, more and more yahoos will be riding them on the streets. Soon having gears will be trendy again.

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    Jonathan August 2, 2006 at 12:47 pm

    Is there a list of bicycle lanes that have been found safe at reasonable speeds as mentioned below?

    814.420: Failure to use bicycle lane or path; exceptions; penalty.

    (2) A person is not required to comply with this section unless the state or local authority with jurisdiction over the roadway finds, after public hearing, that the bicycle lane or bicycle path is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.

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    patrick(db) August 2, 2006 at 12:49 pm

    were people really ticketed for riding on the left side of a one way street? The law couldn’t be clearer in regards to this:

    ORS 814.430 [….]

    (2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:

    [….]
    (d) When operating within a city as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of a roadway that is designated to allow traffic to move in only one direction along the roadway. A bicycle that is operated under this paragraph is subject to the same requirements and exceptions when operating along the left curb or edge as are applicable when a bicycle is operating along the right curb or edge of the roadway.

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    Preston August 2, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    I can’t believe that someone could literally be ticketed for riding in the middle lane down Broadway in SW. Broadway bike lanes (NE or SW) are constantly filled with cars, limos, delivery trucks, etc. Heck, the right lane is often taken up by valet parking. As a cyclist you’re constantly making adjustments to conditions on the road. Like getting in the left lane, going the same speed as traffic to avoid having to change 3 lanes when turning left when you get to your turn.

    This is spinning wildly out of control. Something has to be done. Critical Mass could be ugly this month. I know I’m more than a little angry hearing all this. After bike commuting in portland for over 6 years suddenly I’m not allowed to make decisions to protect myself from drivers who on a DAILY basis almost miss hitting me because THEY’RE the ones running lights, pausing at right turns, etc.?

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    Jonathan Maus August 2, 2006 at 1:07 pm

    Preston,

    I feel your frustrations about this, but I think making Critical Mass “ugly” this month may not be the best thing to do.

    Why give them fuel for their fire?

    We already have support in thinking the police are possibly making the wrong moves so I encourage you and everyone else to call Mayor Potter (he’s in charge of the cops) and let his office know how you feel.

    It only takes a minute.
    503-823-4120

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    john August 2, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    The law says you CAN ride outside the bike lane if there are delivery trucks, limos, cars etc in your way. So your safe to ride in the road on Broadway when there are things in your way. This is not that crazy. 98% of bike lanes are not on Broadway through downtown on one of the busiest road in town… Its pretty impressive the city put a bike lane on this road. Says alot about the support of bikers in this town.

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    genec August 2, 2006 at 1:17 pm

    How do the police expect coaster brake bikes to stop… The chain is an integral part of that braking mechanism.

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    Gregg August 2, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    Sounds to me that the best way fix this problem is to take streets with no bike lanes…

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    no one in particular August 2, 2006 at 1:41 pm

    Jonathan:

    It might be helpful to link to the city ordinances, too…

    Sections 16.70.00 – 16.70.340 deal with bicycles.

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    Preston August 2, 2006 at 1:46 pm

    I’m not saying Critical Mass SHOULD be ugly, but rather that it COULD be ugly.

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    Preston August 2, 2006 at 1:52 pm

    Also, I don’t really think putting a bike lane on SW Broadway was the best idea. Anyone who rides this daily knows that it isn’t just the “occassional” taxi or limo. The bike lane is almost perpetually blocked by any of a number of obstacles. And often the far right lane is as well. Some days it’s like the Airport terminal drop-off zone. And it’s because of the hotels up and down Broadway. So I actually couldn’t think of a worse place for a bike lane, given all the valet parking, shuttles, etc. on that road.

    And for the record, the few times I’ve ridden Critical Mass, I’m one of those rare Critical Massers that not only doesn’t cork, but doesn’t ride through a corked stop. So I’m not advocating any kind of particular response. More explaining that if someone like me is a little heated over this issue, I can only imagine what Mass may end up like.

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    Carl August 2, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    John, your post really helped me to take a step back and recognize just how good we’ve got it in Portland. Try riding in downtown Atlanta or Detroit, where if you lived long enough to be stopped by a cop, it certainly wouldn’t be for riding a track bike, because they’d have no idea what that is. Portland has come a long way. I’m still pissed about some of this recent news and I still think what the cops are doing is crazy, but those emotions are tempered with reinvigorated pride for the trajectory of bicycling in this city.

    We shouldn’t tolerate this, but we shouldn’t act as though it will hold us up either. Momentum is on our side. Portland police clearly need a Ray Thomas group training session on “bike law.” If they don’t do it already, I think that’s a realistic goal. Even if we’ve been over all of this already, bike lanes, fixed-gears, track-stands, and rear lights are all issues that still need to be put to bed in this town. The more coherently and cohesively we do that will only help cities like Atlanta and Detroit when it comes time for them to have this conversation.

    This is what it’s like to be in one of the cities that is ahead of the curve…lots of patience and explaining in the face of ridiculous bullshit and profiling (though before tossing that term around blithely, keep in mind the percentage of bicyclists issued tickets each year is miniscule compared to the percentage of motorists).

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    john August 2, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    I hear ya Preston. Broadway is a zoo, esp during checkout time at all the hotels. Bike lane or not i’ll ride broadway because its the most direct route from NE portland to my office. I used to ride sandy from hollywood downtown… talk about an accident waiting to happen!

    Sorry to get off subject.

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    Dr. Mark Ross August 2, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    for those wondering, I actually do ride a bike, and downtown too. I put in about 7 miles every day. And yes, when there is a bike lane, I’m in it.

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    Matt P. August 2, 2006 at 2:39 pm

    As a former Detroiter, I can say that in that city, you will almost never get a ticket on a bike unless you cause a car accident or hit a pedestrian. That being said, I can’t remember any time where someone who hit and killed a cyclist had charges successfully pressed against them. Metro Detroit is not merely bike-ignorant, they are bicycle-oblivious.

    We have it lucky here, and I agree with the above comments that we can’t let that make us complacent but neither is it the end of the world. The Portland Police Department (or at least the Traffic Division) really does need a “crash course” (forgive the pun) in bicycle law. Also, the city needs to do more to protect cyclists and pedestrians – “Share the Road” would be more effective if there were PSA’s on all the TV and radio stations, not just the occasional bumper sticker. Speaking of, that sticker is supposed to be on the back of every city vehicle and every Tri-Met bus by now, and I’m not seeing it.

    Until everyone knows the laws regarding bicycles, we’re going to have things like this happen. Education is the key, and we need to tell the PD and the mayor that we want that education to occur.

    I think I’ll go make that call right now.

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    Gregg August 2, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    Are you sure that Detroit’s rating as the city with the second highest murder rate doesn’t have anything to do with it? I don’t think it’s that the cops there are oblivious, just BUSY.

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    john August 2, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    Crash course for cops would be a good thing.

    But lets be serious, how many bikers know all the laws? According to this stream of posts from avid cyclists… not many. And i would assume this is a group of people who are in the know about the bike laws.

    Do you know: Can you run stop signs? are lights required? are helmets required? Can you pass on the right? Can you ride on the sidewalk?

    How do we educate cyclists about bike laws?

    Time to donate to the BTA again…

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    Preston August 2, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    Can you ride the opposite direction in the bike lane wearing an iPod?

    I guess you can, because I see it in Beaverton daily. πŸ™‚

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    Carl August 2, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    Unfortunate: It is unfortunate that even those who post comments on this website and on the Shift list frequently spout misinformation about the rules of the road.

    Unacceptible: It is unacceptible that the folks we pay to enforce those rules have recently proven to be more ignorant still.

    Sure, let’s educate cyclists…but I’d rather start with the police. Their foggy understanding of the law is a huge setback to the progress made by the BTA in affecting better laws and educating people about those changes. I’d much sooner educate one cop than ten morons riding their Magnas on the sidewalk.

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    Carl August 2, 2006 at 3:28 pm

    Unacceptable: a word I frequently spell wrong (see above).

    Evan, do you know if the PPD gives their officers any bike-specific training? If not, would the BTA consider developing a curriculum for a “crash course in Oregon bike law” and offer it to interested police forces? Just an idea.

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    john August 2, 2006 at 3:52 pm

    I’m confused, I was under the assumption that this current situation was a case where the police were properly enforcing the law? According to the law, riding outside the bike lanes and riding a fixed gear bike are both against the law. The cops (unfortunately) appear to know the law and be enforcing it. It seems the concerns are that the Laws need work.

    That and if we let the cops know that fixed gears without brakes are illegal.. the whole bike messenger industry will screech to a halt.. well more like a hop screech…

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    Preston August 2, 2006 at 4:13 pm

    Yes, you are confused.

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    Randy August 2, 2006 at 4:20 pm

    The downtown bike lanes have got to go. They are bike ghettos and accidents waiting to happen. So you have a choice – ride in an unsafe bike lane and risk injury or death, or ride outside the bike lanes and risk a $242 ticket from the PPD. I fault PDOT for their insistence in striping these downtown bike lanes in the first place. I hear a ticket was issued this morning to one of the PDOT employees instrumental in having the bike lanes installed in the first place.

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    Preston August 2, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    Randy is right on. The downtown bike lanes are more than pointless, they’re dangerous. They have to go. Plow that money into education of everyone who shares the roads and intersections (cyclists, motorists, cops, pedestrians).

    I have never been in danger or endangered anyone else riding with traffic. But I’ve avoided HUNDREDS of near misses by staying out of the bike lane.

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    jami August 2, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    i have found the broadway bike lane near the hotels to be blocked by cars about 3 times out of 4.

    but the broadway bike lane is useful further south, near psu. you’re going uphill much of the time, and the speed limit is 30 or so, so if we were in traffic, we’d be slowing it down and making drivers all aggro. there is a really dangerous right turn through the bike lane near psu, though, that i hope bikers are aware of — definitely a spot to use “exception e.”

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    jami August 2, 2006 at 5:36 pm

    john, the police were enforcing what they think is the law. i think they’re right regarding brakes (sorry, my brakeless bike brethren and sistren). i think they’re almost certainly wrong regarding leaving bike lanes, which are intended as a help to both bikes and cars, not some sort of bike prison.

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    Steve August 2, 2006 at 8:52 pm

    If I were a cop I’d much rather stop a girl riding a bicycle for no brake than to stop a car that might have criminals inside. I’d much rather give a ticket to a cyclist for getting out of a bike lane than to stop a vehicle with an illegal loud exhaust, which might be driven by a criminal with a gun. I’d much rather stop a cyclist for running a stop light or sign than to stop a tailgating asshole driving an SUV 20′ off the bumper of the car in front of him at 60 miles per hour. That SUV driver might have a warrant for his arrest – it COULD be dangerous! You never know when you stop a car what kind of low-life scumbag may be inside. But with cyclists you can see ’em – it’s pretty safe.

    Cyclists are easy prey. The cops get the same amount of money for the easy pickins as for the dangerous ones that are making the streets unsafe for everyone.

    This is why the streets are unsafe – the cops are harassing girls riding bikes instead of doing actual police work.

    Great job doughnut eaters: give tickets to girls on bikes and let the criminals run free. Great job! Way to go!

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    Randy August 2, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    I’d like to see the police release information on the number of tickets issued to motorists and bicyclists this morning. Since the bicycle mode split is approximately 5%, if the police claim that enforcement for motorists and bicyclists was equal is true, I would expect the ratio of the number of tickets issued to be 95:5, motorists to bicyclists.

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    Gregg August 2, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    I rode in CM for the first time last week and at first, thought it was great that all those nice officers were taking care of us. Then I realized that a) they were getting easy overtime and b) were in a perfect position to pounce if say, somebody’s reflector fell out of alignment. I think they’re just picking the low hanging fruit.

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    Tree August 2, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    I agree about SW Broadway’s bike lanes being clogged with everything, including bikers, in the a.m. (I have been doored there, too) At least one lane is usually available to cruise up, however, even though I think bike lanes are unsafe, there are times when I like them, such as: heading east, after work, on Madison towards the Hawthorne Bridge. If it weren’t for the bike lanes, I couldn’t pass the buses and cars, I’d have to either crawl behind them or do something like ride between the lanes, which might be against the law. So, I’m for keeping bike lanes as long as it’s okay to ride outside of them too.

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    Dabby August 3, 2006 at 2:25 am

    By the way,
    I have a number of times, stopped police outside the Benson, and outside the HeathMan hotels.
    I stopped them, made them look over and see up to 5 or 6 cars, cabs, etc, parked in the bike lane, Imean, double parked in the bike lane.
    And do you know what the response was each time?
    “Oh, they are allowed to do that. We would never ticket or talk to them for that, because it is not against the law. They have permisson”
    That is one of the biggest loads of crap I have heard.
    This scenario forces cyclists, and especially inexperienced cyclists, into swerving into the lane of traffic, on the busiest street in downtown.
    I personally have a arch enemy in the Heathman Beefeater old man valet/ door guy.
    He puts his parking sign in the bike lane. he one day pulled out of a perfectly legal parking space, in a client’s Ferrari, cutting me off.
    He then proceeded to Double park it right in front of me,in the bikelane, once again cutting me off.
    When I tried to speak to him about it, he laughed. Then I raised my lock high. he started getting pissed, and went away.
    Luckily for me, the next day, the same Ferrari, with the owner driving, cut me off to park outside the brassiere. i told him what the valet had done, and he laughed and walked inside a building. yet, when he came out and drove off, I was standing in the street , on the next corner, waiting for him.
    Nothing says Hi like a screaming messenger, standing over the hood of your Ferrari, with a Ulock raised high.
    I did not smash it. I didn’t have to.
    He probably peed his pants anyway…
    Sweet, sweet justice…

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    Evan Manvel, BTA August 3, 2006 at 8:44 am

    According to Lt. Kruger, yesterday morning’s action:
    23 citations to cyclists
    17 citations to pedestrians
    13 citations to vehicles
    6 warnings

    There was apparently an evening action at the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge as well — anyone see that and have insight?

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    Todd Boulanger August 3, 2006 at 10:07 am

    Open Letter to the BTA:

    Would you request the information from this targeted police enforcement action in the downtown, so to see how effective and even handed it was? And the share the analysis.

    Thanks,

    Todd

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    Dabby August 3, 2006 at 10:08 am

    Also, one of these wonderful officers came racing up 6th avenue the wrong way yesterday, when I was coming down on my bike.
    Outside Mier and Frank, where we were, is only one lane right now, and he came around the corner flying at me.
    I had to throw myself up over the curb in order to avoid being smashed, only to have the officer stop about 60 feet away to harrass the homeless for spanging outside the Rite Aid.
    I almost died because some gutter punks were Spanging……My mom would have been very sad.

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    Donna August 3, 2006 at 10:32 am

    Hmm, 23 cyclist citations, 13 motorist citations and they didn’t target one group over another? If the 3-5% figure for cyclists is correct, there must not have been much car traffic downtown yesterday. I didn’t notice that, but maybe my eyes were deceiving me.

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    john August 3, 2006 at 10:50 am

    This post got me thinking so… on my ride to work to day i decided to look for infractions; i saw 7 examples of bicyclists breaking the law, 2 run stop signs, 3 run stop lights, 1 riding outside the bike lane and a biker riding against traffic. I noticed several cars neglecting to signal turns but beyond that no vehicular infractions. I did see one biker actually properly signal, good work Girl on the Blue bike!

    So i ask you, does it seem odd that if the cops decided to pay attention to bikers that they would have more citations than cars?

    Think about the last time you blew though a stop light/sign while driving a car? or rode the wrong way down the road, or road at night without turning on your lights…

    Personally i can’t think of the last time i broke the law while driving (beyond speeding).

    If we cyclists want to be seen as Cars, and have the same rights as cars then they need to start acting like it.

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  • […] This issue surfaced recently after several local cyclists were cited for various bike lane infractions during Wednesday morning’s Police enforcement mission (In particular there has been a discussion about the bike lanes on SW Broadway Blvd.). […]

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    Preston August 3, 2006 at 11:19 am

    Tree, I see your point. I appreciate the bike lane on NE Broadway for the very reasons you point out. Same thing with the lanes in SE and NE in general.

    But let’s be clear about one thing. Bike lanes aren’t in place to make things safer for cyclists. They’re in place so road-raging, adrenaline-fueled, angry motorists don’t have to go the speed limit or a little below the speed limit for a minute here or there. That’s the end result, really. Bike lanes may have been put in with good intentions. But a wide shoulder and some enforcement of aggressive drivers would cure all the problems bike lanes claim to solve.

    Pure and simple, bike lanes exist to prevent us from getting run over by angry motorists who can’t be held up a moment or two while we crest that short hill. That’s a sad statement on our culture, writ large.

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    Randy August 3, 2006 at 11:21 am

    I use the Hawthorne Bridge to access downtown. The solid striped bike lane ends at SW 1st, but continues on SW Main to SW 2nd w/ a dashed line. I usually leave the bike lane at the west end of the bridge and move to the left lane (of a 2 lane one-way) at or before SW 1st, for four reasons:

    1. RTOL for traffic turning right on SW 2nd. These motorists have to cross the bike lane to get into the RTOL, and many don’t look for bicyclists.

    2. Busses cross the bike lane to access a bus stop in the RTOL between SW 1st and SW 2nd.

    3. Traffic in the right lane backs up at SW 4th and Main due to high level of pedestrian activity by the County Courthouse at SW 4th, another bus stop between SW 4th and SW 5th, and many right turning motorists at SW 4th.

    4. I am preparing to make a left turn at SW 5th.

    In other words, the last block of the bike lane on westbound SW Main (between SW 1st and SW 2nd) is unsafe due to traffic conditions, because of which I am legally allowed to leave the lane (814.420(3)(c)); and west of SW 2nd, there is no bike lane and I am legally allowed to use the left lane on the one way street (814.430(2)(d)). I didn’t receive a ticket yesterday for doing what I do everyday, but I know several cyclists who did.

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    C3PNo August 3, 2006 at 1:00 pm

    “What if your chain breaks?”

    What if your brake cable breaks?

    Poor excuse for a legal argument if’n y’ ask me.

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    Mike August 3, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks, Randy, for posting Mayor Potter’s contact info. It inspired the following letter, which who knows, maybe he’ll read. I encourage all concerned to contact the Mayor or somebody else who might say (or, hopefully) DO something about the situation.

    Dear Mayor Potter,

    I am a cyclist who commutes about 15 miles/day, mostly in SE Portland. Recent police activities appear to be targeting cyclists, leading to claims of harassment of cyclists. I am concerned about this issue. Whether or not the harassment is real or only perceived, it worries me, and of course I wish to avoid being harassed during my commute.

    I request that you publicly address the issue of targeting and harassment of cyclists (whether real or perceived) by the Portland police, hopefully clarifying the city’s attitude towards its large population of cyclists. I feel that cycling must be encouraged by our elected leaders as an alternative to automobiles, and I respectfully hope that you agree.

    Targeting and harassment of cyclists by the police, whether real or perceived, can only reduce the likelihood that a motorist will consider cycling as an alternative means of transportation.

    I thank you for your attention.

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    joe August 3, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    this is US against THEM.

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    Dabby August 4, 2006 at 2:14 am

    Just so you know, I do not believe sending letters to the mayor claiming police harrasment is the way to go at all.
    Especially some of the letters I have seen copies of posted here.

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    Randy August 5, 2006 at 11:37 am

    I disagree. This will not be resolved by further talks with the PPB. It is political and must be resolved at the City Council level. Mayor Potter is the Police Commissioner; Sam Adams as Transportation Commissioner has a stake in this as well; and Randy Leonard now commutes by bike, so he might be willing to listen also.

    On the other hand, to be effective, letters to the Mayor, etc., need to be short, polite, well written, and persuasive.

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    Dabby August 5, 2006 at 12:29 pm

    Randy,
    My point, which you kind of touched on, is this:
    So many letters have been written to these peole. Letters that are well written. Letters that are nasty. All kinds of letters.
    And some of them may have even gotten through the office, into the hands of the adressee.
    But, we need togo way past this.
    About 40 miles past this, actually.
    Straight to Salem.
    For this is where the problem, the badly worded ordinace, was shoved through.
    Straight to Salem.
    http://portlandmessenger.org/main.php?e=DearDabby&t=questions

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    Steve August 5, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    There are some errors in post #68 above.

    He said riding outside of a bike lane is against the law. It isn’t if it is unsafe due to something in it, if you are turning left, or are going straight and the bike lane is to the right of a right-turn lane.

    As a car driver I do not view cyclists as motor vehicles and as a cyclist I do not want to be viewed as a motor vehicle. It’s a bicycle – it’s not a car. All I ask is that motor vehicle drivers avoid hitting me and don’t dislike me just because I ride a bike. It is idiotic to think bicycles should follow the same laws as motor vehicles. Completely assinine. I drive a car and I understand I have a responsibility to car drivers when I’m on a bike – not a responsibility to follow their rules, but to avoid intentionally slowing them down when I don’t need to and to try to stay out of their way. Bike lanes are great for bikes if you want to use them – to make it mandatory is assinine. Many times there is no need to be in a bike lane – for example if noone is behind you – but if you get in the “car” lane – just be aware of what’s behind you so you don’t hold someone up and piss them off.

    Sometimes if traffic is too ugly I might get on the sidewalk. I then have a responsibility not to hit any pedestrians. But it should not be illegal for me to do it – a bicycle is really not much different than a pedestrian. It’s a LOT different than a car.

    Poster # 68 then said he rarely sees car drivers breaking the law. Either he needs glasses or else doesn’t drive much. The various police departments and state patrol in the metro area alone should be writing hundreds or thousands of tickets daily for: tailgating; illegal, loud exhausts; speeding; night driving with fog/driving lights on when approaching another vehicle with your main head lights on (yes, that’s illegal – read the manual); reckless driving and road rage.

    The streets are unsafe because the cops don’t care. They’d rather chase girls on bikes. Chasing criminals in cars can be hazardous – they may have drugs/guns/warrants for arrest/etc. Yup, I’d much rather chase girls on bikes.

    The Portland cops are just picking on the cyclists probably in large part due to these websites. The cops no doubt read these posts and are pissed off by them so they are retaliating against cyclists. It’s too bad. But cops are not known for their intellectual abilities so it’s not surprising. (Copper, go out and give 10 citations for that last sentence.)

    It’s just too bad the rest of society has to pay for the cops lack of ability to understand where they could do the most good – right now that’s cracking down HARD on automobile drivers especially on the local freeways. It is understandable that a cop isn’t smart enough to do what’s right, but the real shame here is that the management isn’t smart enough to know what to do either – or else they tell the cops to get to get off the backs of cyclists.

    The cops would have to be in unmarked, small foreign cars to maximize the number of road rage drivers they catch. Road ragers love to harass people in smaller cars. They will not bother to do it to a cop car. DUH!

    Yup, the cops are a bureaucratic organization that is bloated and ineffective. Too bad but I see no reason to think things will get better – they’re entrenched with a lot of power and fear no backlash for their failure to serve the public. Apparently the mayor and city hall don’t give a rip either.

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    Randy August 5, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    Dabby – The salient point is that all the bandwidth wasted on whether a fixed gear bike is safe with brakes or not is exactly that – wasted. I take it for granted that these bikes – with or without brakes – are safe in the hand of a competent rider.

    IMO, the important thing is that the PPB are using their personal interpretation of the law and their authority as cops to perform selective enforcement, and as an excuse to harass and intimidate bicyclists riding these bikes. I don’t think this will be resolved in Salem, it will be resolved locally, but ONLY if the local politicians get some cojones and use the authority they have over the PPB to mandate that the PPB cut the bullshit.

    The traffic division officers have better things to do – fixed gear riders are not the public safety menace the PPB claim they are – and they need to be ordered to refocus their priorities accordingly. This is a local matter, and not an issue for the state legislature.

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    Dabby August 5, 2006 at 9:16 pm

    randy,
    I realize this. I just do not want people to keep om going off about something that they don’t know about.
    I posted my real feeling son the issue if you rhave read our site you would see the truth….
    I have been responding here mainly to others responses on the issue..

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    Steve August 5, 2006 at 10:08 pm

    Just a question, not an observation: Has there been any noticeable increase in police ticketing of cyclists since mayor Potter took command? Was it this bad under mayor Katz?

    He was a cop at one time. Maybe he doesn’t like cyclists and is telling the cops to do this excessive policing of cyclists? Just a thought, not an observation.

    Fact is if the city fathers or police management told the street cops to get off the backs of the cyclists it would happen.

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    john August 6, 2006 at 3:28 pm

    Steve i feel honored that i was able to generate such a grand response from you. but if you had actually read my post you would notice several things interesting things… (1)i was referring to my ride into work on August 3rd, 2006 … 20 from NE Portland to Downtown. I had my eyes wide open the whole time. The rider who was riding outside the bike lane, was doing it illegally.

    The other part i love is this Anti-Bike conspiracy theory. Clearly there is an anti bicycle agenda in this town, isn’t it obvious?

    Of course cops are totally avoiding gangs, drug dealers, and bank robbers to pick on bikers. That’s why i see the cops patrolling on Failing and Mallory every day. They are waiting for girls on bikes to run the stop sign, in front of the drug dealers.

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    Bill August 7, 2006 at 9:04 am

    I think a good fix would be for the city to setup a training program for the PPB on rules of the road regarding cyclists. I also think a HUGE group setting to explain rules to cyclists would be benificial too. We could take one of the city parks, setup a basic stage, hire some people to come and educate the public on rights and responsibilities of cyclists and peds. Im sure we’d have plenty of help through the city at publicizing the event to help create a decent attendence. Furthermore, it might be a good thing for the DOT to give cycling pamplets to all the local bike shops so everyone buying a new bike or for those that want to learn the laws have a outlet to get a handout easily. As much as I think cyclists have a duty to follow the rules and learn as much as they can, I think the PPB has a duty as a leader and enforce to know the laws pertaining to any moving vehicle like no other. There is no excuse for misinterpretation or abuse of the law, especially by those that are paid to uphold these laws. If you dont know the law, you shouldnt be enforcing it!

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    Brad August 10, 2006 at 3:56 pm

    “What if your chain breaks?”

    What if your brake cable breaks? That’s more likely than a chain. Ignorance makes me angry.

    The judge mentioning that he couldn’t stop a fixed gear bike was a flawed arguement as well. Did he fall over the first time he rode a bike? Of course he did. We all did. Should that make bicycles illegal? No, riding takes SKILL and so does learning to use a fixed gear “brake.”

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  • […] I realize that things aren’t always peachy between cyclists and cops. Open wounds remain for some and there is still work to be done to help them better understand things from our perspective (and vice versa). My hope is we can move forward as partners, not adversaries. […]

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    Louis Bartlett March 10, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Dear Reader,

    I was ticketed $242 for running a stop sign behind an infrequently used road behind OMSI, just before entering the esplanade. The ticket was administered by Ronald Hoesly. I understand why he gave the ticket; I ran a stop sign, and that\’s illegal. However, I believe $242 is unreasonably expensive and antithetical to the impetus of cycling – to save money. As a family man (with a son and wife) and the sole bread winner in my home, every little bit counts. This is why I ride my bike and why $242 really hurts my family. I know the officer believes he was doing the right thing, but, honestly, a warning and maybe a small talk would have sufficed. Now, I\’m considering not cycling to work. $242 would pay for gas for several months for my small car. This is not a joke. I can\’t risk paying $242 for an accidental run through a stop sign; not even vehicle penalties are charged this much. So, I want to ask, why does officer Hoesly apparently sabotage well-intention cyclists? Why I do I feel like a criminal when I make a stupid mistake on a bike? The ticket IS justified, but the price is too high. Officer Hoesly, you may have taken too much food off of my family\’s table. Thank you so much.

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