Several cyclists out on the streets in the last few days have relayed their concerns to me about what they perceive as increased police enforcement of fixed-gear riders.
Given the recent court decision and heightened awareness of this issue, I asked Traffic Division Lieutenant Mark Kruger for an official stance on how the Portland Police Bureau are enforcing this.
Here’s his response:
From a command perspective in the Traffic Division we are not encouraging or discouraging any officer from stopping and citing a bicyclist for riding a bike w/o brakes. Officers are at their liberty and discretion to stop and cite any traffic violation that they observe. The work that we specifically encourage are DUII arrests, crash investigations and cites for moving violations. Officers, however, may choose to cite any violation that they happen across while out on patrol and I expect that is what is happening regarding these bikes.
We have not and will not be organizing any directed effort to locate and cite this violation. I’ve seen and heard lots of arguments for and against enforcing the violation in the last week (many on your web site) and my opinion is that requiring a mechanical brake on a bike is a reasonable and common sense safety consideration. I think that most of the officers in the Traffic Division share that opinion so from time to time officers may cite the violation when they see it in the normal course of their duties.
This sounds like a reasonable position given the current legal situation.
However, in situations like this, statements from high-ranking officers are only half the story. The important question is; how are the rank-and-file actually conducting themselves out on the streets?
I have heard from several sources that there has been a vast increase in the amount of fixed-gear riders pulled over in the last few days.