I just got a tip from a reader that the Portland Police Bureau has set up an enforcement sting at Ladds Circle in southeast Portland.
The tipster said lots of cyclists were getting “scooped up” on their morning commute for not coming to a complete stop before entering the circle.
Consider this advance warning if you’re headed in that direction.
And if you’re reading this with a ticket in your pocket, let us know what happened.
UPDATE: (9:15am) According to witnesses, as many as six motorcycle cops are working this area. One of them told a cyclist that this sting was in response to several complaints in the neighborhood.
If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.
Not coming to a complete stop at Ladds Circle is a pretty generous interpretation of what usually happens: cyclists tend to enter the traffic circle at their normal cruising speed without regard to the stop signs at every entry point. I see it five to six days a week on my bicycle ride in to downtown.
Myself, I came to a complete stop, then gave the officers a friendly smile as I continued on my way.
Why do we have stop signs at traffic circles here in Portland? It is a large circle which should be regulated by the rules of traffic circles not by stop signs!
When I turned from seven corners into Ladd’s addition, a VERY WONDERFUL CYCLIST had taken some time out of his day to warn oncoming bikers about the sting going on. This was especially appreciated as I have previously been the recipient of a $242 ticket at exactly this location. As I went through the circle (after stopping and putting my foot down) I saw no fewer than five motorcycle cops, four of whom were writing tickets to bikers.
My belief is that this would be an ideal location for a new sign: YIELD.
But for the kind warning of a cyclist going the other way I would have had ticket #2! I was at about 21st & Clinton bunched up with 4 cyclists. We each interpreted what we thought the stool pigeon had meant and all decided to stop at the Ladd Circle. There were multiple motorcycle mounted units and perhaps 3 cyclists pulled over when I went through. I doubt I have come to a legal stop there in over 30 years of cycling through that intersection- until today.
Thanks to the cyclist who provided the warning. And a tip of the cap to whoever decided to enforce the safest intersection in town.
I know that PDOT talked about removing the stops signs and putting yield signs up.
I think is still talk and no action.
As I went through the circle (after stopping and putting my foot down) I saw no fewer than five motorcycle cops, four of whom were writing tickets to bikers.
Good heavens, what a ratio. Imagine how many more tickets these five traffic cops could be writing if they went to separate intersections and chose to cite motorists pulling rolling stops just about…oh, I dunno…ANYWHERE! WTF?
Ladds is a low traffic area that cyclists use because it is safer than SE Division or Hawthorn.
How did this town come to this type of actions in neighborhood areas?
Do we need to take on Hawthorn and Division every morning and excercise our rights to use a full lane so that someone can finaly see that we help the de-congestion of traffic?
It is simply absurd, revolting and sad that all the PPD is seeing is that cyclist are not OBEYING the law.
Ok fine blowing stop signs is not good. But if you drive your car though Ladds feel free to treat it like a race way.
Just FYI, this enforcement was most likely the result of PPB responding to a citizen complaint in the neighborhood.
This area is well-known as having some…how can I say…bike un-friendly folks.
They have piped up against Safe Routes to School and they got mad when PDOT wanted to install curb ramps because it would hurt the historical nature of the neighborhood.
just some background.
I saw four motorcycle police. Two were waiting on the northeast arc of the circle. Two other officers had already stopped cyclists – one on the northeast arc of the circle and one on Ladd Avenue. They were likely targeting riders going from from seven corners to Hawthorne/12th.
I ride that route to and from work every day and have never seen a cyclist come to a complete stop. I have also never seen nor heard of an accident so I’m guessing that local residents or business owners asked the police to intervene.
My boyfriend and I ride through Ladd’s Addition/Ladd Circle every morning on our way to work. We ride from SE Clinton and enter the circle at SE Ladd (from 7 corners). This particular entrance to the circle has really good visability, so it’s pretty easy to see early on whether stopping is necessary. If there’s car traffic, we usually slow way down to nearly a complete stop (to make a good showing), but this morning we cruised on through at regular speed.
As we entered the circle, I heard a motorcycle behind me and thought, “oh, we’re going to get passed. I hope he doesn’t turn right and cut us off”. And then there were lights and we were being asked to stop.
My boyfriend and I got a $242 ticket each for “failure to obey a traffic control device, stop sign”.
The officer was nice enough. He said that if doesn’t always expect cyclists to stop and put a foot down, but we should at least slow down. He said that they’re out today because they’ve received a lot of complaints about cyclists running stop signs here.
It’s a bummer because I did totatally blow the stop sign, so I know I’m at fault, but in my opinion, stop signs at cicles/roundabouts. Plus, the speed through there is 20 mph, and you never see any kind of enforcement for speeding.
We’re going to look into taking the “Share the Road Saftey Class”.
Ug. What a way to start a morning. It’s really stirred things up here at work though.
I went through that inttersection 3 times this morning, twice just to make sure that what I saw the first time was representative and not isolated.
The third time, I counted SIX motorcycle cops. Not once during the 3 times through did I see a motorist pulled over.
To think that that this amount of police resources would be so disproportionately allocated is maddening.
I got a ticket this morning because honestly I just didn’t see the stop sign. And then when I got that hefty $242 piece of paper moments after, I thought that round-a-bouts negate stop signs! Ugh. Tax refund, here I come…
Caitlin – I’m with ya, I need to take that class but the officer said the class was full and that I would have to request a trial AND THEN take the class.
Maus – you’re right about the response form the neighborhood. I got evil looks for neighbors like I killed someone and then a lady approached the cop after I was getting back on my bike and she said:
“I really appreciate you guys coming out here and nabbing these bikers. They’ve almost run over my dog countless times.”
Normally, I heartily approve of police enforcing traffic regulations and responding to citizen’s complaints – that’s their job, and I believe that inside a city, all road users need to obey the laws.
This, however, is ridiculous.
4-5 motorcycles to enforce a single intersection?!? What other traffic violations were happening that weren’t enforced because 4 normally otherwise engaged officers were stuck ticketing cyclists in Ladd’s Addition, which as others have pointed out, is not a dangerous intersection.
Why weren’t these officers at, say:
West Burnside and 4th
West Burnside and 5th
West Burnside and 10th
SE 82nd and Powell
SE 82nd and Division
East Burnside and 12th / Sandy
or one of the other “deathtrap” intersections in Portland?
I don’t blame the officers in question – I’m sure that the vast majority of cops in Portland are professional, take pride in their job, and want to serve the public. I’m taking issue with the supervisors and “higher-ups” who are determining the priorities of police deployment. This is ridiculous.
I think it’s time for another Super-Legal ride.
I also agree with the other posters – Ladd’s Circle needs yield signs, not stop signs – or no signs at all. Everyone’s more careful in a traffic circle if they’re not sure anyone else is going to stop. Bjorn’s right – they’re self-regulating.
If you don’t like it, call the Mayor’s office. 503-823-4120. We’re meeting with the Mayor’s office next week to discuss this, but citizen calls always help (in fact, the stings are due to a couple of loud citizen complaints.)
+1 Matt Picio
Quick legal question:
I was threatened with a ticket and arrest by a PPB officer for more than 30 minuets for telling cyclists to stop at Ladds Circle?
Is this legal?
Did I have to show the officer my drivers license?
Is it legal for me to refuse to answer what education level I have to the officer?
In essence, was the 30 minuets being intemidated by the cop for telling fellow cyclists what the PPB is more intrested in?
Also, one last thought. It is nice that the PPB enforce the affluent areas of town. How about some stings at crosswalks on MLK at rush hour?
RE: showing your ID to cops.
I have a story in the works about this but my understanding is that you only have to show ID if you are being stopped for a specific illegal act.
In your case, I doubt there is a law on the books for warning others about traffic stings…and therefore you would not have to show your ID…or answer any personal questions.
Does the circle have a high accident rate? Is it in the top 20 in the city? Street sections with high accident rates are where this kind of action belongs. Not where some squeaky wheel is busy complaining.
There’s nothing illegal about telling cyclists to obey the law because there are police ahead. Encouraging others to obey the law is legal.
Do you have to show your drivers license? No. (at least, not yet – see below) You ARE required to give your name. Other information is currently a legal gray area. There is currently a bill up in front of the Oregon Senate (SB932) to require presenting ID to the Police (“papers, please”) – this was at the request of the Eugene police department.
As for the rest, hopefully one of the attorneys will enlighten us.
The above should not be construed as legal advice (God, how I hate disclaimers)
Is it illegal to ride in circles in Ladd’s Circle? If not, I’d love to see a super legal ride involving us going in circles for an hour or so. Traffic coming in from the spurs might get a bit irate after sitting there for an hour unable to get past their stop signs. It wouldn’t do much for public relations but it would sure be fun.
Jasun – I pretty sure that flashing your headlights to warn motorists of a speed trap is illegal; I’d imagine what you were doing was technically illegal. Thanks though, for trying.
Matt P is right – how many intersections could we name where motorists routinely roll through stops, crosswalks, and exceed speed limits? The enforcement here was due to complaints – could we organize via bikeportland.org a campaign to get 500+ bicyclists to call about an intersection? I can only imagine the Ladds enforcement was brought about by a few, imagine what we could do with numbers. It’d at least move the enforcement away from bicyclist thoroughfares. This is assuming that they’d take our complaints as seriously as the Ladd motorists.
Complainer: “Hello, 911? Yes, every morning I see cyclists not fully stopping down the street on Ladds circle, They go as fast as 20MPH!!!. I would like to say that it is an extremely dangerous situation and that everyone is at risk”
911: “Sir, we completely agree with you and take this take this situation to RED ALERT, you can expect 6 uniformed Police officers armed and ready to chase cyclists with their BMW”
Thanks, Evan. It really is time to sit down with the PPB. Police resources are being totally misdirected — Ladds Circle is one of the few intersections in town where I have never felt in danger, either on a bike or in a car. I’ve never seen signs of any crashes there, and even though cyclists regularly blow through the stop signs, I’ve never felt like doing so is dangerous (I slow way down, but don’t come to a stop — worked this morning, but probably because the cops were all busy writing tickets at the time).
It’s ironic that this post comes on the heels of the post about going for Platinum. If Portland really wants to go platinum, they’ve got to get the police on board and work WITH the cyclists, instead of against us.
I just got off the phone with Jeremy in the Mayors office.
The action came as a result of citizen’s complaints and confirming observations by the police.
People breaking traffic laws is considered a public safety issue. Traffic enforcement needs to take action when citizens complain about traffic laws being broken.
I counter argued that the bar should be higher. I asserted that we also needed to have a record of higher than average collisions or other mishaps. Certainly there are many intersections in the city with significantly higher than average collision rates. Enforcement actions should be scheduled in those locations – where property and life is demonstrably at stake.
Jeramy didn’t agree. He stated that taffic law breaking was significant enough, especially when combined with citizen complaints, to warrant an enforcement action.
Interesting that a traffic circle in a relatively calm network of streets has stop signs, while the very busy NE 39 and Glisan circle has only yield signs. Doesn’t make sense to me.
How about traffic enforcment on Clinton Street Race Way. Anybody ever see a car jump the speed bumps? I have. Lets not forget 39th and Clinton intersection. Cars turn right on red lights.
Correction: NE 39th and Glisan has stop signs. I go through there, stopping, several times a week.
Jeramy didn’t agree. He stated that taffic law breaking was significant enough, especially when combined with citizen complaints, to warrant an enforcement action.
You heard ’em, folks. Complain about traffic violations and you’ll have a disproportionate number of police officers dispatched to the scene. Find the trouble spot in *your* neighborhood and dial the PPB to voice your concerns; tell ’em Jeremy down at the Mayor’s office sent you!
Sounds like the solution here is to lobby the city to make Ladd’s Circle a real roundabout with Yield instead of Stop signs.
Take on the neighborhood nabobs of negativity, go to PDOT with a petition signed by hundreds of cyclists, and explain that Ladd’s Circle is one of the safest routes for cyclists, and by cyclists using it, they avoid congesting Hawthorne and Division.
Don’t fight the cops for enforcing a stupid traffic control device — make the city change the traffic control!
I have no idea how long they lasted, but I did see that someone had printed out signs warning cyclists and posted them about a block before the circle. Some clever cyclist must’ve seen this post before leaving the house today! (=
I myself thought this was an odd place for an enforcement. I ride through Ladd’s several times per week, and the circle at the center is *the* best intersection on my entire 5-6 mile route. Great visibility, plenty of room for a comfortable safety margin, few cars, and virtually never any waiting.
As far as I’m concerned, the only way in which this is not a Complete Waste Of Time ™ is that now quite a few more people will be encouraged to lobby for an Idaho-style stop-sign law.
I was much more annoyed by the motorists who almost killed me this morning than the cops. One of whom passed me with about 2 inches of room going east on SE Clay between 7th-6th while yelling out the window “use the bike lane!”. She then speeded for a block, and turned into the Multnomah county office parking structure where she presumably works, and does everything in her power to get bikes off the street. Clay is of course a bike route with no bike lanes, and about 6 inches of space between the edge of a car in the lane, and parked cars on the side of the street.
My one direction commute is about 5 miles, and even with coming to a complete stop at every stop sign on the route it still only takes me about 10 minutes longer than by car. I’m willing to obey a law that doesn’t make sense if it makes people with the power to kill me a little less angry.
I’m glad they did the sting. Cyclists that don’t stop at stop signs give avid, daily bike commuters like me a bad rap. Additionally, it’s dangerous for themselves, potentially dangerous for others (pedestrians, kids, dogs on leashes, and little ‘ole ladies driving big cars that swerve to avoid them). It’s also the curteous to others!
Re: brian mack
I completely agree. I commute through Ladds everyday. I don’t think its necessary to come to a full, foot on the ground, stop at the circle, but on any given day I see cyclists tear through those intersections like they were on-ramps to a speedway.
Re: Yield signs in Ladds
I don’t think this is going to happen. People pay a ton of money to live in Ladds and they don’t want to see their neighborhood turned into a through-way- at least not anymore than it already is a shortcut between Division and Hawthorne. Frankly, I prefer the stop signs as I agree that they contribute to cutting down on some of the traffic and making the street safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
out of the 32 comments posted so far, you are the first to approve the sting:
96.875% disaprove the sting
3.125% approve the sting
Jonathan (and others): When you talk to the Mayor’s Office or the PPB about this traffic enforcement action, can you also ask them for a list of other recent enforcement actions?
As cyclists reading a cycling related web site, we only hear about the law enforcement actions affecting us. But I’ve seen the PPB doing these same kind of stings in other areas. The local news covers the crosswalk stings and the Highway 26 speed traps every couple of months. Maybe the PPB is conducting traffic stops like these in other parts of town, but since they aren’t targeting cyclists, we (as cyclists) never hear about them. Maybe there is a “CarPortland.org” blog out there with lots of people complaining about a recent traffic enforcement action that caught a bunch of cars rolling through stop signs and they are all complaining about those darn speeders on the freeway.
While I don’t think a $242 ticket is always deserved (especially when a warning is more appropriate), before we condemn the PPB for only targeting cyclists, maybe we should try to find out what other enforcement actions they’ve conducted recently.
They were still there when I came through at about 9:15. A friendly motorist warned me in advance and I avoided Ladd Circle by taking an alternate route through the neighborhood.
The PPB conducts stings on motorized vehicles every day. I joined one of them on a ride along and we sat on the ZOO onramp of Hi-way 26 and nabbed tons of speeders.
They also have an ongoing crosswalk enforcement program that they run in partnership with traffic safety folks at PDOT. These happen regularly and have been well-received.
In the case of the freeway speeders, there was no warning, but at the crosswalk enforcements there is ample and obvious warning given to oncoming vehicles that an enforcement action is ahead. They use orange cones and signs.
I have also reported on an enforcement action during Commander Sinnotts tenure that had warning signs placed prior to the intersections.
There are distinct differences between enforcement actions, stings, and speed traps.
C’mon, enforcing stop signs at a freaking roundabout? The whole point of traffic circles is to keep the flow of traffic moving. Having stop signs for traffic entering the circle is backwards. Enforcing backwards traffic control devices, in a low traffic neighborhood, on cyclists is bullsh*t.
“Stop sign, stop signal, or giving priority to entering vehicles”
This is straight up harassment.
Here’s how we counter this: every cyclist find an intersection in your neighborhood where cars roll through stops routinely. Call often and complain loudly. If we all do this I think that we can redirect PPB resources so they’ll stay off our backs.
It is kinda a pain when riding through Ladds and another cyclist runs a stopsign when I’m trying to turn right. I usually have to come to a complete stop to let them by, because their on my right.
In a September of 06 count, 2-4% of cyclists stopped before entering Ladd Circle northbound and 27-39% of auto drivers stopped.
For 2000 through 2005 there were 2 reported crashes near the cicle with the closest being a rear end 30 feet from the circle.
The solution is installation of YIELD signs – they don’t require a stop and maintain the same liability rules as STOP signs.
Here goes my 2 cents…
Stop signs at roundabouts are ridiculous. The whole point is to keep the flow moving! For them to put SIX cops out there is definitely overkill.
As a group cyclists should pick a few dangerous intersections and flood the PPB with calls for an enforcement action. If it doesn’t happen, then we would have a valid complaint. If it does, then we have used our resources as citizens to make our lives safer.
Thanks for the collision rate data. Where did you get it?
I saw this coming last week as I rode home from work when I noticed an older bearded gent talking with the PPD at the north side intersection , I overheard him saying that I was the only biker he’d seen execute full stop at the intersection all day. I only stopped cause the PPD was there.
Another side of the coin is that in the morning especially, and occasionally in the evening there are lots of folks who RACE thru Ladds at speeds well above what is posted. I never see them speeding around the circle itself, but usually in the stretched between the smaller circles, in order to pass cyclists.
I say as cyclists we get plate numbers and make complaints about speeding motorists. You don’t have to live on the circle to be impacted by folks breaking traffic laws.
I aggree that this intersection needs yeild signs. I don’t think I have ever seen an intersection with such consistently slow moving traffic, such high visability, and such wide lanes. Stopping before entering this intersection when there is no trafic to avoid just seems all around silly.
I come from England, where roundabouts (traffic circles) are the primary mode of traffic control at major intersections.
The reasoning in my country behind having stop signs, as opposed to just letting traffic yield & roll through at regular speed, is due to high number of foot traffic in addition to road traffic that we have in Europe.
It’s terrifying for a pedestrian trying to navigate a traffic circle when none of the traffic is stopping, or even looking out for them. Traffic cicrles encourage motorists and bicyclists to look left only for oncoming traffic. As a result, they’re often not looking right for pedestrian traffic trying to get across the intersection too.
I’ve seen first hand mothers with kids in strollers trying to get across the marked crosswalks at this particular intersection (Ladd Circle), and cyclists illegally just blowing right by them at top speed without even slowing down, let alone giving them the legal right of way.
That said, I agree that cyclists coming to a complete, foot down, stop, is a little excessive. Slowing right down to look for both cars and peds, and looking both ways at the intersection, makes the most sense for somebody navigating this area on a bike.
I’m so conflicted!
I used to bomb through there every day back in the olden days when it was me and about 5 other cyclists a day. Always blew the sign at the circle like I was coming up to the final sprint on the champs elysées, poodles be damned.
But I’m with Brian: I agree with this enforcement action. Heck, if the cops weren’t responding to neighborhood complaints about illegal activity, then folks would (and I think rightly) be mad that they weren’t doing their job.
Seems like the stop signs in this neighborhood are traffic calming devices designed to keep folks from using this neighborhood as a speedy shortcut. And don’t we hear calls for that kind of thing often in these pages?
As our numbers grow, our on-road behaviour will be examined at higher and higher levels. And until the majority of us can figure out that Stop means Stop, we’ll get our share of stings and $242s.
Now, on the other hand, I wonder what these complaining neighbors would think if every bike that went by in the course of a day was a car instead…
“This area is well-known as having some…how can I say…bike un-friendly folks.”
As a bike-friendly “folk” who lives in Ladd’s Addition I take umbrage at this gross generalization. I also feel the need to point out that as long as there is a “stop” sign at the Circle, the law requires vehicles, including bicycles, to stop. I rarely see any cyclists even slow down when entering the circle from Ladd Ave or any of the other feeder streets, let alone stop, and more than once while making my own way around the circle I have had close calls with cyclists blowing through the signs (I was also on a bike. Whether they misjudged my position, or speed, or made the stupid assumption that I was tunring, despite the fact I was nbot signalling a turn, who knows, what matters is that if they had taken the time to stop or even pause for chrissakes, they would not have caused the near miss.
Now whenever I ride around the circle and see a cyclist comoing from a side street I also make an assumption – I assume they will not stop or even slow down. I am almost always correct.
Given the amount of bicycle traffic in Ladd’s, it is inevitable that the visibility of dumb-ass moves by cyclists will be greater, and that resentment of said moves will be magnified. But that does not make everyone in the neighborhood unfriendly to cyclists. On the other hand, the best way to make friends with the neighbors is to obey the traffic laws.
If you don’t want to stop, then lobby to change the law or change the signage. Until then, the best way to avoid a ticket is to stop.
Anyone can get the data by asking PDOT at 823-SAFE.