Splendid Cycles Big Sale

Police respond to uproar over enforcement

Posted by on December 13th, 2006 at 12:53 pm

Lieutenant Mark Kruger, 2nd in command at the Police Bureau’s Traffic Division had this to say about this morning’s enforcement action at Broadway and Flint:

“Today we worked a mission at Broadway and Flint because we have a complaint from the Water Bureau of bicyclists running the stop sign there and creating a hazard. PDOT informs us that this intersection is the third highest bike crash intersection in the city. The public can expect more enforcement of the area to come.”

He also added that, “Despite the desire for healthy commuting everyone still has to obey the traffic laws.”

And here are the stats from the “mission”:

  • 16 bike moving violations (there were 23 total in November)
  • 13 motorist moving violations
  • 4 bike warnings
  • 3 bike equipment violations
  • 1 motorist towed

Many more tickets would have been issued (to the tune of $242) if it weren’t for the help of several people who warned unknowing cyclists of the sting as they approached the intersection.

I think it’s time for PDOT, the BTA and the Police Bureau to all come to the table and figure out a more constructive way to deal with their shared concerns for traffic safety.

Without a coordinated game plan that brings together all the engineering, education, and enforcement issues, these stings (aka enforcement actions or missions) will continue to frustrate a lot of people who feel our police resources would be much better spent in other ways.

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 — Jonathan

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HimeeEvan Manvel, BTAHarry Hallurbanplanningoverlordadam Recent comment authors
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adam
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adam

any chance you can get the good lt to post a copy of this alleged “complaint”?

who, exactly, complained? and, I have some complaints, if I file one, are they going to take action to remedy the problems? if so, I will file the form today.

Elly
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Elly

It would be quite educational to find out more about how the sites for stings are chosen.

I know that citizens calling 823-SAFE and reporting dangerous intersections is one route, albeit circuitous — the city uses these calls to choose intersections to have the police check out for potential enforcement.

But there must be other ways in which this happens — was the water bureau complaint formal or informal, I wonder.

Another question: is there a citizen advisory process already in place for informing solutions to traffic problems? Eg, is there explicit public input into the decision to enforce vs engineer? How about into the type of enforcement — how is it determined, say, that warning signs will be put up at the approach to a traffic enforcement action?

A little clarity would go a long way here toward good cyclist – police – city PR. Thanks.

Evan Manvel, BTA
Guest

I believe this intersection actually has had several crashes. Greg Raisman would know.

When we heard there was concern about this intersection we suggested that we look at the engineering of the location (which contributes to the situation, as it’s in the middle of a downhill) and to consider an educational effort like the one done at 9th and Lovejoy earlier this year.

There are several different places these problems could go — the Portland Bike Advisory Committee, the Traffic Safety Council, etc. — if we wanted to run these through people.

Jonathan Maus
Guest

Evan,

First, thank you very much for participating on this site and sharing information with the bike community.

And second, wasn’t engineering a big issue with the infamous sting at SE Salmon and 23rd back in May?

Do you know if anything has changed (or is planned) with the stop sign arrangement at that intersection?

s
Guest
s

I *really* want a list of the top ten or whatever bicycle crash intersections (or spots) in the city.

as a full-time cyclist, that would be really helpful information to me.

having a list of places where there has been an established history of cyclists being hit would naturally make me WAY more willing to comply with any and all traffic laws in that spot and act as consistantly as possible, if nothing else, to save my own hide.

Michael
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Michael

I cannot take seriously the police alleged concern for safety. Twice in the past couple weeks I have witnessed motorists plainly and clearly running red lights right in front of police who did absolutely NOTHING. A couple months ago I was very narrowly missed while walking in a crosswalk by an illegal left turning motorist, in direct sight of a cop who did absolutely NOTHING.

jeff
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jeff

Perhaps we cyclists can choose any number of surface streets that regularly see motorist violations (speeding, mostly) and organize a campaign to file a similar “complaint”? If 50 cyclists do this, would we see an enforcement campaign?

s – I’ve seen a top ten list of intersections resulting in the most bicycle crashes, but I don’t remember where? I’ll do some digging. I do recall that I pass three of them each way on my commute…

Burr
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Burr

Water Bureau vehicles turn right off Broadway at N Wheeler to access their equipment yard, this is several blocks west of the Broadway and N Flint intersection, on a downhill portion of Broadway which is curving to the left away from the bike lane. Whether or not a bicyclist stops at the stop sign at N Flint really has no bearing on the legitimate safety concerns the Water Bureau may have regarding the Broadway – N Wheeler intersection.

At the Broadway – N Wheeler intersection it is the responsibility of right turning motorists to check and make sure the bike lane is clear; I don’t ride this route anymore, but from a safety standpoint the bike lane is literally a death trap here and in my opinion the safest position for a bicyclist would be in a traffic lane to the left of right-turning motorists; OTOH it appears some cyclists may have recieved tickets for doing exactly this – leaving the bike lane to avoid the dangerous right turning traffic, a maneuver which I believe is explicity allowed by the law [ORS 814.420(3)].

In addition, the Water Bureau has other, much safer access points to their equipment yard, which they could direct their drivers to use instead of the N Wheeler access point. The two other access points to the Water Bureau yard are at Interstate and N Hancock and Interstate and N Tillamook.

Burk
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Burk

To the two guys giving out the warning – thanks! I owe you a beer.

brett
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brett

I have an idea… stop running stop signs, or work towards changing the law. It might also be an interesting thing to own your behavior instead of immediately pointing out the faults of others… I mean come on what are we? toddlers?

Also, the above article says something about more tickets would have been given out if not for the “help” of several people’s warnings… hmm, I wonder how many cyclists have been hurt or killed because they ran a stop sign. It is my opinion that to say this “help”s is encouraging people to only obey the law when the cops are around.

avid (5k/yr)rider, who btw was hit by a car last Thursday

Burr
Guest
Burr

So Brett – Do you perform a ‘full’ foot down stop at every stop sign you encounter, or are you and all the other folks advocating full obedience with selective enforcement of these laws against bicyclists complete hypocrites?

BTW, when have you ever seen the cops perform a similar stop sign enforcement action against motorists? And how many motorists come to a complete stop at every stop sign??

Cecil
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Cecil

I can’t speak for Brett, but I do put my foot down at stop signs/red lights. Except for those times when I get my cleat stuck and instead of putting my foot down end up putting my whole body down in one of those really lame “Arte Johnson” falls, like I did at 5th and Harrison this morning . . . 🙂 After which I, of course, jumped up and said “I meant to do that” in my best Pee Wee voice . . .

WOBG
Guest

Burr, WTF? There’s nothing in the law that says you have to put a foot down. Just trackstand, dude.

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

My only issue with the cops and this sting is why I have never observed a similar multi-cop sting operation on cars. (getting cars for speeding on MLK would be like shooting fish in a barrel)

I have no problem with a cop giving me a ticket if s/he catches me rolling a stop sign, hey you play you pay.

And if they need to do some enforcement, okay, go ahead. But, what was it, 9 cops running that sting back on Salmon way back when. And at least 5 with this one?

Frankly I think it’s just a pile-on. It stinks of “let’s show those bikers,” rather than “let’s make the streets safer.”

I for one would also like the cops to actually yield to pedestrians at intersections like the law demands. Where are the cops to ticket the cops?

Dabby
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Dabby

You don’t have to put your foot down, and you can roll back and forth, just as cars at lights will roll slowly and slightly forward while waiting for it to change.
If you got a ticket for rolling a little bit forward while trackstanding, fight it and win, it would be found eroneous by a judge, who I would bet money also takes a foot off the brake sometimes at a light.
Track standing was decided by the city of Portland to be a legal stop.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

“And how many motorists come to a complete stop at every stop sign??”

Good point Burr.

I was sitting at the Dragonfly Cafe on Thurman and 27th? waiting to meet a friend for a ride in the Forest Park. In 10 minutes I don’t think I saw a single car come to a complete stop. I gave up trying to keep track after 30+.

Maybe police could have their “sting” on cars there.

Jeff
Guest

I’ll bet the “bike equipment violations” were for “brakeless” fixed gear bicycles. Any word on this?

Pengo
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Pengo

Tonyt…

You’ve never heard of a speedtrap?

dotRob
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dotRob

I have two observations about this sting.

1. I live in the apartment building at the corner of Flint and Broadway and watch numerous cyclists come down Flint and turn on Broadway without stopping. And I know that there have been warnings given by apartment management about this intersection and the one on Wheeler. I’m not surprised that there was a sting at this intersection. And it *is* dangerous. Cars come off of Broadway or I-5 and immediately turn onto Flint or Wheeler; cars turn off of Flint onto Broadway and then immediately turn onto Wheeler. My bet is that few of them check for cyclists — it’s awkward to do so in the middle of the curve on Broadway, and the traffic is often really tight, so people rush.

2. Also, I can watch 50 cars an hour come off the I-5 off-ramp to go west on Broadway, barely touching their brakes at the stop sign. The drivers glance over their shoulders at the people stopped at Vancouver/Williams and see the opportunity to go, and go they do. I’ve never seen a cop stop one of them… and as we all know, cars blowing stop signs are much more dangerous than bikes blowing stop signs. But of course we know the relative priorities of the police with regards to traffic enforcement, so the fact that the bigger danger is not really addressed should come as no surprise.

Just a few observations from my window.

Alan Bluehole
Guest

Two things:
1. in response to “I cannot take seriously the police alleged concern for safety. Twice in the past couple weeks I have witnessed motorists plainly and clearly running red lights right in front of police who did absolutely NOTHING.” YES! I just witnessed FOUR cars take a left turn through an intersection AFTER the light had changed with two cop cars near the front of the intersection who were delayed by the offenders. Neither cop did anything. I tried to make eye contact with the one next to me, but he was looking straight ahead at the violators.
2. The complaint from the Water Bureau, whether by phone or in writing, should have generated written paperwork that can be obtained via a FOIA request.

adam
Guest
adam

good discussion here. I think, a few things, such as:

1. for all you “change the system” from within types – please keep us updated on your progress. I have hiked up glaciers before, it is fun and exhausting.

2. water bureau? hello? can I see the formal written complaints? of course, post number 8 took care of that, very elegantly.

3. though I am not crazy nor poor nor “non-white”, which makes it less likely that the cops will hassle or kill me, I am so aware of the potential dangers of cops, that when I see them driving around doing nothing, I yell, “Cops”. when I see them sitting in a starbucks, I yell, “cops”. I consider this a public service.

so, once again, we have their attention, do they have answers? my prediction is as follows, and I quote(predictively), “…nothing…”.

enginerd
Guest
enginerd

yes, the cops do multi-cop stop sign stings. I’ve seen them “hiding” in front of clarklewis and tagging folks “Texas stopping” the right turn off the I-5 ramp onto Water Avenue. From the ramp, you cant see them. On MLK they use the photo radar to do speedtraps. Seen it out several times in the past two weeks, including after dark.

adam
Guest
adam

do you have data or just anecdote, enginerd?

enginerd
Guest
enginerd

Um…I got stopped in my car for the ramp in May (got a warning). Biking by there several times in the summer, I saw 3 or 4 lined up, apparently doing the same thing during PM commute time.

I’ve seen the MLK radars out and a member of my household got his photo in the mail (a lovely shot from Thanksgiving Saturday, by the Powell Viaduct) yesterday.

just (A) bikepunk
Guest
just (A) bikepunk

Another in a tremendous mound of examples of America’s favorite partriarch, the state, teaching us a lesson for our own good. “Bicyclists keep getting hit by cars, let’s teach those bicyclists a lesson”. Cars are involved too! Almost always at fault in my (biased) experience! But the pigs drive cars themselves, so their allegience stays with the cars. Papa State always knows best.

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

Pengo, a speed trap? With 9 cops? Never seen it.

Okay, I’ll give you multi-cop (2-3) stings on cars, on the highways, but I’ve never seen it in the city where I would think it would mean more to people.

Fed Up
Guest
Fed Up

How difficult is it to obey the law? An equal number of motorists were ‘popped’! Quit running stop signs, quit changing lanes without signaling, quit riding in crosswalks. Com’on people! Glass houses huh? If you want motorists to obey the law and deal with cyclists as vehicles, act like one, all the time, even when no one is looking…….

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

Hey Fed Up, I don’t want cars to deal with me as a vehicle. I’m a person, perched vulnerably (sp?) on top of 25 pounds of bike.

Let’s be realists here, bikes and cars are not the same thing. In the meantime, yeah, if I get a ticket, so be it, but this is a conversation that is pushing for things to change because they need to. If we all just shut up, nothing would change.

I’d like it if drivers acted in a way that recognized the sheer power and deadliness of their vehicles. Cars/trucks = weapons = 40,000 dead people every year.

And regarding sidewalks, while I don’t ride on them for the most part, it IS legal to ride on them except for a very specific area in downtown.

Fed Up
Guest
Fed Up

Tonyt,

I understand your point. If we all obey the laws though it contributes to our saftey by making us predictable and not having to guess whether either of us ‘might’ obey the law. I also agree that the law should reflect the differences between bikes and cars. At this time it doesn’t and that is where the change needs to come from. My other point was about crosswalks not sidewalks. Crosswalks are for pedestrians. If you wish to use a crosswalk, you need to walk your bike across it. You can’t ride on the street, be a vehicle and then use the crosswalk as a pedestrian by riding across it.

adam
Guest
adam

do you have any real data or just simple stories, enginerd?

while we are at it, how many tickets were given on this sting versus warnings?

I wonder if lt kruger reads this blog or knows how to turn on a computer?

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I want to make the side point that not only do you not need to put your foot down in order to make a legal stop, you don’t even have to track stand. The wording of the law is that you must “cease forward motion”. In other words, if your tire stops enough to roll back ever so slightly, then you’ve stopped. It’s the same for a car. Your tires just have to completely stop rolling forward.

If anyone got a ticket for running a stop who felt that they did in fact cease forward motion with their wheel, please post a comment.

sara
Guest
sara

I agree that seeing the list of the 10 most dangerous intersections for cyclists would be helpful.

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

Fedup, sorry about the crosswalk/sidewalk confusion. Thanks for the clarification.

Does anyone know what most of the moving violations were for specifically?

The intersection in question is such a clusterf*#&.

trackback

[…] Originally Posted Here by Jonathan Maus […]

adam
Guest
adam

evan, hopefully, one day, you will be able to share some of the glorious facts you have learned. until then, color me unimpressed with your arguments and your efforts.

if you want to reply, please do so…evan?

urbanplanningoverlord
Guest

This is an interesting discussion. My belief is that a lot of this problem could be solved, albeit rather expensively, with grade-separated bicycle lanes and “bicycle streets,” where bicyclists have official priority over cars.

But where bicyclists share the road with cars, on an officially equal basis (although being in the right doesn’t help much if you end up in a casket or a hospital bed), both need to obey the law.

http://www.urbanplanningoverlord.blogspot.com

Harry Hall
Guest
Harry Hall

Why all the damned whining? Red lights and stop signs apply to all vehicles. Period.

Evan Manvel, BTA
Guest

Jonathan: I haven’t had any official response about 23rd and Salmon since filing a question with 823-SAFE several months ago, other than that PDOT traffic would look at it. More people calling about that issue might help.

Adam, if you want the reports that are the basis for my statistics, ask Greg Raisman at PDOT and Mark Kruger at Portland Police. 823-4000 is the City switchboard.

Himee
Guest
Himee

“Texas stopping”, enginerd? Where I come from (Texas) that’s a “California Rolling Stop” 😉