Tour de Lab September 1st

Sirens coming soon to police bicycles

Posted by on May 18th, 2007 at 10:28 am

On a bike-along in SE Precinct

File photo

As I reported yesterday, the fixed-gear brake bill is moving along nicely in Salem. What I didn’t mention was that an amendment has been added to the bill that will allow police bicycles to be equipped with a siren.

Here’s the deal. Existing Oregon statute (ORS 815.280(b)) states that,

“A person shall not install or use any siren or whistle upon a bicycle.”


This was problem for the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police because a police vehicle is not considered official unless it has a siren.

They want bicycles to be considered official police vehicles, so they worked to change the law. Since it’s a change to the bicycle equipment statute, they figured the fixed-gear bill was a good opportunity to do some legislative housekeeping.

The irony is that the fixed-gear bill, which came into being because of legal disagreements with police officers now has the support of a statewide police lobbying group.

The bill, with the siren amendment are expected to signed into law in the coming months.

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16 Comments
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    RyNO May 18, 2007 at 11:06 am

    I cycle with a whistle always, mostly for
    Dear Pedestrian, but also cars.
    I dislike that my whistle is illegal,
    it shouldn’t be so.
    Anyway, the distinction of whether the cop
    bike is an “official vehicle” or not seems
    meaningless. A cop is riding it, right ?
    Happy Day !!! Judge Mathis 1pm

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    Dabby May 18, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    Riding on the Shoulder’s of Giants…….

    It appears the Portland Police have jumped on the bandwagon, and are taking a ride here along with those they created the problem around….

    My worry would of course be that this addition might raise an eyebrow in legislation, and cause the ordinance change to undergo more scrutiny, when it ha been moving through in what seems to be an effective manner………

    A lot of times it is the add on’s that kill legislation……….

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    Donna May 18, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    I’m really happy to hear about the siren addition to police bikes. I like that idea far better than them yelling “Police!” really loud. (and I still can’t understand what they’re yelling) A siren is an unambiguous method of communication. Police need that no matter what method of transportation they are using.

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    Donna May 18, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Dabby, do you think this addition would be seen as a negative? Most lawmakers do not wish to be seen as “anti-police”, and it would seem that this is a small gesture that would make the police happy. I’m wondering if this add-on wouldn’t make the brake law more likely to pass.

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    Jonathan Maus / BikePortland May 18, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    from what I’ve heard from people close to this bill.. the siren amendment does nothing but help this bill’s chances.

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    ME May 18, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    what next, transporting arrestees in bike trailers? sounds kinda goofy to me.

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    revphil May 18, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    next thing they will say you cant have bicycles with red and blue revolving lights!

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    craig May 18, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    what if the police could now use their sirens to pull over bicycles that had bells installed…couldn’t they ‘interpret’ a bell to be a siren or whistle? haha!

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    Wyatt May 18, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    If I’m going down the Springwater Trail and I hear a siren behind me, I’m going to start cracking up.

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    Scott May 18, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Are they going to add a motor also? The only way they’re going to catch most PDX riders I see is with a Taser.

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    Steve May 18, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    I can’t get the image of a bicycle cop, with siren wailing, pulling over an SUV out of my head. What a wonderful sight to see!

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    Todd Boulanger May 18, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Don’t they also need flashing red and blue lights too … and at least 200 HP?

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    Michael May 18, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    When I was a kid I used to clip playing cards to my spokes, then ride around making vocal siren sounds. I was ahead of my time.

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    PoPo May 18, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    A siren sounds heavy to me, and our bikes are already loaded down with too much stuff! Neither do I think a bike with a siren would cause people to pull over, as I believe most people would look around for the its origin, not see an emergency vehicle with four wheels, and just keep driving anyway. I can’t tell you how often I am driving a Crown Vic with lights and siren, trying to get through traffic, and people just keep driving along obliviously.

    OK, though now that I consider it, I guess most people do responsibly pull to the right and stop, but just like everything, it’s that small percentage of folks who are unpredictable and/or oblivious who are frustrating and dangerous.

    We do some traffic stops on bicycles, but it is more dangerous, with no steel cage to protect us from passing traffic or from potential angry people in the cars we stop.

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    PoPo May 18, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    So I guess what I’m saying is, even if this law passes, I doubt sirens are coming to Portland Police bicycles anytime soon.

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    Martha S. June 14, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Well, even if the sirens don\’t come to the bikes any time soon I\’m glad that there will be the option. I too would be delighted to see an SUV pulled over by a cycling cop.

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