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Update from bike day in court

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

As I write this, bike lawyer Mark Ginsberg is doing battle in the Multnomah County Courthouse in downtown Portland.

He is fighting the questionable tickets of ten cyclists. correspondent Elly Blue was there this morning and said that unfortunately the judge of the day is Gregg Lowe, the same guy who upheld the fixed-gear ticket against Ayla Holland and has proven by his demeanor and judgments to have a less-than clear understanding of bicycles.

Matt Davis from the Portland Mercury was in attendance and just wrote on their blog,

“Ginsberg was visibly disappointed when Judge Lowe emerged from the doorway behind the bench”

The first case of the day went against cyclist Tori Bortman. The judge ruled with the cop, who maintained that Tori rode into the far lane when making a right hand turn, instead of the nearest lane like the statute requires.

Then there was the case involving veteran PDOT employee Jeff Smith. Smith was ticketed for leaving the bike lane to make a left-hand turn while riding west on Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues downtown. According to Elly, this case was full of drama.

PDOT Bike Coordinator Roger Geller testified on Smith’s behalf saying that leaving the bike lane in that circumstance was, “completely reasonable.”

The court ruled in favor of Smith, and subsequently dismissed a very similar case brought by another PDOT employee, Dat Nguyen.

Right now, the fixed-gear cases are being tried and bike activist Carl Larson is sitting in as an observer. I hope to have reports from both Carl and more perspectives on the day from Elly Blue soon.

Davis will publish all the verdicts later today.

As expected, donut support was provided. Davis reports on the Mercury Blog that,

“Outside the courthouse, other bikers offered free donuts and coffee to passing cyclists in support of their friends (two bicycle cops passing on the sidewalk turned them down). They gave out fliers saying: “We understand that the Traffic Division has an important role in promoting traffic safety and we think the most important priorities for furthering safety are preventing speeding and drunk drivers.”

I’ll try and update you as best as I can once I get reactions from defendants and from Ginsberg. Stay tuned…