Two types of police response to O’Donnell tragedy

The fatal crash that took the life of Timothy O’Donnell seems to have resulted in two different responses by law enforcement personnel. The Washington County Sheriff’s office shows a willingness to work with the community for tougher laws against motorists, while the North Plains Police opt for increased enforcement directed at bicyclists.

A story in the Forest Grove News-Times earlier this week reported that Sheriff Rob Gordon was “steamed” by O’Donnell’s death. The article said the police see “eye-to-eye” with cyclists and that they support a tougher, felony-based vehicular homicide law.

The story also mentioned that a sheriff’s spokesman joined Washington County transportation officials and the district attorney’s office in a meeting to discuss the incident two weeks ago.

The other response seems to be increased enforcement of stop signs in the area near where the O’Donnell tragedy took place. Cyclists have recently chimed in on a local email list with accounts of $335 tickets and lectures by police.

Here’s one of the emails:

Part of a group I was riding with yesterday was ticketed $335 apiece for rolling though the stop signs at the intersection of North Plains Rd and Glencoe. The officer indicated that the north plains PD has stepped up ticketing cyclists in the area since the rider was killed a few weeks ago.

And another (from the same group of riders, full message here):

“I was part of a three man group who also got $335 tickets…My point is not to argue the technicality of my “stop” or lack there of, but the reasonableness of the fine and strange view that this will help contribute to reducing the bicycle/car fatalities in Washington County…

We were told during our stop before getting tickets, that there had been a lot of bicycle/vehicle fatalities out in this area and a lot of bicyclist activists groups and bicyclists have been complaining that cars need to share the road…And, that if we want to be equal we are going to have to find a better way. Independently, these statements have validity. But how are they appropriate to our infraction? It was like this was a plain and simple message. Equal meant a new heightened attention to bicyclist traffic infractions and much steeper fines.

During the rest of our ride to the coast we discussed amongst ourselves the $1005 in fines we were levied with compared to the $1100 in fines levied against the driver who hit and killed the cyclist recently…It truly is a strange world sometimes….It turns out to have been an expensive lesson in traffic regulations, politics, and that the divide between many drivers and cyclists looks to be a tough bridge for either side to make anytime soon.”

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. 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 maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

89 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
a.O
a.O
16 years ago

Victim blame.

Steve Brown
16 years ago

It is strictly a case of selective enforcement and is widespread among police departments. Last week I was hit by a car in West Linn making a right hand turn while I was in the bike lane. Police and Fire responded to witness calls, a crash report was written, yet not citation was issued. A week later the officers supervisor still has not provided an answer.

Mommy
Mommy
16 years ago

I think that they are right – there needs to be tougher laws against motorists AND cyclists need to adhere to the traffic laws already in place. It has to be a coordinated effort.

I will say that $335 a piece sounds steep – are revenues low in WA county?

Peter
Peter
16 years ago

The NP officer *moderated* (Note: name calling is not tolerated). They are and have always been very aggressive with ticketing EVERYONE they can. Sounds like the NP guys are just trying to justify what they have been doing all along.

The price of the ticket is most likely the highest fine for this type of offense (class B I think). They hold an informal court in a run down school gym and they – judge, cops, etc – seem to take great joy in taking people\’s money.

When riding through North Plains, obey all traffic rules. Put your foot down at all stop signs and signal all turns.

The rest of Washington County is nice. I ride through 4 cities on my way to work every day and the cops are always nice and sometimes even helpful.

Cecil
Cecil
16 years ago

The stop sign enforcement in North Plains was going on long before Tim\’s death – as long as I have ridden in that area, there have been cops who stake out that sign and ticket cyclists that run it. The lecture re: fatalities may be new, but the enforcement is not.

DK
DK
16 years ago

Doesn\’t the Sheriffs dept. have enough problems with drunk cowboys and depressed housewives to leave the cyclists alone? $335.00…geeze! No wonder all their high schools have water fountains.

a.O
a.O
16 years ago

I won\’t ride or spend any money in North Plains because of this unnecessary and hyper-aggressive enforcement. I encourage everyone else to do the same. There are plenty of other places to ride…

phr3dly
phr3dly
16 years ago

Sucks to get a ticket, but I think there would be a lot more respect for cyclists by other road users if other road users perceived cyclists as obeying the rules.

Cecil
Cecil
16 years ago

I don\’t see any reason to boycott North Plains – coming to a full stop at that sign, which I do already, is sufficient to deny them that ticket revenue.

phr3dly
phr3dly
16 years ago

And I should also mention.. There are about two stop signs in the entire town of North Plains (OK, I exaggerate…). It\’s not particularly onerous to expect cyclists to stop once or twice on their way through town.

After all once you get beyond North Plains you can ride for 50 miles and only need to stop once or twice.

Jonathon S
Jonathon S
16 years ago

Ummm, yeah Peter has it exactly right. My sister lives in North Plains and I can assure you that writing tickets is not a new enforcement priority for them, nor is it biased against cyclists. Writing expensive tickets is, and always has been, NPPD\’s ONLY enforcement priority. So for those who think this is about blaming victims or whatever, just consider that this revenue is primarily how these cops stay employed. Really, they don\’t hate you, they\’re just looking out for #1. You\’re obviously miffed by the whole situation, a.O, but rather than boycott the town, why not just obey the stop signs (perish the thought!) and piss them off even more? North Plains is at the nexus of some of the best plains and hills riding in the region. Why deprive yourself of that?

David Dean
David Dean
16 years ago

Plead innocent. Force them to work for your money. Opt for a change of venue so the judge working your case isn\’t being paid from your fine.

a.O
a.O
16 years ago

Please. I\’m not depriving myself of anything by not riding in North Plains. And you don\’t hear me complaining about getting a ticket.

This is not about stopping at a stop sign, so if you think it is you\’re missing the whole issue. Their approach to law enforcement is ineffective and counter-productive, designed not to promote safety but to extract a toll from people who don\’t visit regularly. As such, it constitutes an abdication of their responsibility and a misuse of their office. So I\’m not going to go there and risk spending any money they may see. I want nothing to do with that two-bit town!

DK
DK
16 years ago

Boycott cow tipping, henry weinhards, garlic festivals, and marrying cousins… That\’ll piss em\’ off.

Jean Reinhardt
Jean Reinhardt
16 years ago

All this is reminding me of a lyric by 70\’s songwriter Dory Previn; something like \”Officer, please, put me at ease, can you repeat what you just said. There ain\’t nothing that you can begin to do, nothin\’ till I can prove I\’m dead.\”

bicycledave
16 years ago

We need to get the law changed. Idaho style slow and go makes perfect sense to me. I don\’t advocate blasting through stop signs on a bike and with a properly written law that would still be legal. When on a bike slowing to a safe speed and stopping only when there is a reason (such as cross traffic or pedestrians) is perfectly safe.

Jonathon S
Jonathon S
16 years ago

Who does the credit card company hate more–the person who never becomes a customer, or the one who pays his balance every month and never accrues interest? All the cops want is your money, it is about stopping at a stop sign, and also about not speeding on Highway 26 near the Glencoe exit. You think it\’s counter-productive that this is all their PD cares about? How could that be so if the whole point is to raise funds? Ineffective? They seem to do a hell of a job writing tickets. It\’s not about public safety and I don\’t give a damn that it isn\’t, nor do I give a damn that it\’s unfair, greedy, and officious of the cops to behave this way. I have to ride through those roads to visit my baby nephew, who, by the way, is NOT inbred, nor does he have a depressed mother. If that means I have to play the crooked cops\’ game then I do it. And I win every time, owing my unparalled win-loss ratio to none other than that it is pathetically easy to win.

And by the way, not that there\’s much business in North Plains to boycott, but the only ones I\’ve ever patronized are the mom and pop hardware store where my total has always been \”how about a dollar?\”, and the family run Mexican restaurant that has come upon hard times recently because their two teenage sons, who were critical to keeping their business afloat, were recently killed in a car crash at the train crossing on Susbauer Road. Because those places are just screaming to be boycotted. North Plains is a struggling town, and although I don\’t approve of the police perpetuating their existence this way, I\’m not about levy on them the ridiculous charge of failing to keep me safe in a town where nothing happens.

a.O
a.O
16 years ago

I – D – A – H – O

Idaho, Idaho,

Go, Go, GO!

bicycledave
16 years ago

Oops \”…with a properly written law that would still be legal.\” I meant illegal. In other words \”blowing\” through a stop sign on a bike or failing to yield to pedestrians or cross traffic could still get you a ticket.

Once slow and go is passed I would like to see traffic fines multiplied by gross vehicle weight and income/wealth. This would make the fine proportional to the danger involved in the infraction and make the pain of a fine equal regardless of your economic status.

Brad
Brad
16 years ago

So what is the issue here? The police seem entirely within their rights to enforce the stop laws. While the fine seems excessive, I\’m not sure what the big deal is? They certainly did not entrap their victims with a clever and underhanded scheme.

This is the inevitable consequence of \”Share the Road\” and \”We Are Traffic Too\” advocacy. If we expect cars to adhere to the ORS then we too must adhere to it. Until the \”Idaho Law\” passes in Oregon we have to stop and the cops can ticket us for not doing so. Honestly, what else do the North Plains police have to do and how is this different than other small town constabularies nailing drivers blowing through their burgs twenty miles over the limit?

Don\’t like it? Change the law! (Hint: you don\’t have to rely on BTA to fight this battle for you – grassroots can get it done also.)

DK
DK
16 years ago

Slow and go sounds like the only way to show support for cyclists. But being that it will take revenue out of the city and county coffers, it may be a battle that non-cyclists can\’t see getting behind…and that includes voting officials. Oy!

Edward
Edward
16 years ago

phr3dly nails it in comment #8. Go back and read it again. Police and citizen drivers alike see cyclists do stupid things every single day they are on the road. Every day on my ride in to work — every single day — I see a cyclist break the law. And not just roll-throughs, but up out of the saddle, accelerating haul-throughs. It\’s irritating as hell, and everyone — drivers, peds, off-duty cops, kids — can see them doing it. No wonder police relish in giving pricey tickets. I\’m a cyclist who\’s happy when I see a cyclist getting one. Based on what I see every day, they probably deserved it.

Obey the law until it changes. If you\’re not, you\’re just contributing to the lack of respect you\’re generating for all of us. Thanks for that!

a.O
a.O
16 years ago

Watch this:

Police and citizen cyclists see drivers do stupid things every single day they are on the road. Every day on my ride into work — every single day — I see a driver break the law. And not just speeding, but running red lights and failing to stop at stop signs and coming too close to cyclists. It\’s irritating as hell, and everyone — cyclists, peds, off-duty cops, kids — can see them doing it. No wonder police relish in giving pricey tickets. I\’m a cyclist who\’s happy when I see a driver getting one. Based on what I see every day, they probably deserved it.

Obey the law until it changes. If you\’re not, you\’re just contributing to the lack of respect you\’re generating for all of them. Thanks for that!

Alan
Alan
16 years ago

Ah, good old North Plains traffic enforcement. $335 *is* totally unreasonable, but that\’s how they make their money. Anyone who has driven a CAR on HWY 26 knows that you don\’t speed through North Plains unless you want to help support municipal government.

My favorite example: policeman standing in the central divider (actually a 6 foot deep valley) in HWY 26 facing westbound traffic with a radar gun and with a full setting sun just above him. You couldn\’t see the officer until you were past him.

Does North Plains make money this way? You bet. I guess they have finally figured out that there\’s money to be made off of cyclists too.

I don\’t know if it is safer to ride elsewhere in Wash. County, but it is certainly cheaper.

rixtir
rixtir
16 years ago

Let\’s see. A cyclist reports in that a group of cyclists received tickets, and contrasted the total fine amount with the fine a driver received for killing a cyclist. And everybody here is expressing outrage, not at the low fine for killing a cyclist, but at the nerve of the police for ticketing stop sign runners.

Nice set of priorities you people have.

J
J
16 years ago

I wrote a briefly, but very polite emial to Scott Whitehead, chief of police in North Plains stating my concern over the targeting of cyclists, while thanking him for his community service, and my understanding that riders do need to obey all traffic laws…

this is his oh-so-intelligent response..

\”Thanks for writing. As usual your email is consistent with all the others I
receive. Maybe next time you could put some thought into it and make a valid
point instead of all the blah blah blah crap.

Scott Whitehead
Chief of Police
North Plains Police Department
Office: (503) 647.2604
Fax: (503) 647.2031

I think it pretty much sums up the mentality at large..

N.I.K.
N.I.K.
16 years ago

Damn, J, that\’s rough. Sure is hard to resist the urge to write something scathing to Chief Whitehead and see what kind of response that elicits…

Brad M
Brad M
16 years ago

I live in Hillsboro and have been riding around Wash Co for 30+ years. I always find it tragic when someone looses their life on the road, weather on a bike or not. I also know that most of the time it is a lot easier for a light weight bike to stop or move compared to a large heavy vehicle, and yet we ride as though we should never have to deviate from our path or heaven forbid we have to unclip from the pedals. We have no problem expecting that a vehicle traveling 55mph or greater should slam on their brakes then hope for a safe passing moment to go around us, while at the same time we should be able to travel totally undisturbed and worry free in our own world. Why can’t we take the high road and start making positive moves. Pull over when it is safe and let cars go by, or just wave them by and acknowledge they are behind you, break up into smaller groups instead of trying to run in lines of 10 or more (this is not the TOUR), if we are riding side by side get into a straight line so we are not charged with obstructing traffic when a car is approaching. IT”S BASIC STUFF.

Maybe it’s the professions some of us are in.. A lot of the people I ride with are Doctors, Lawyers, Business Owners and company executives. Most of the time, when we want something we get it, and there are a lot of people in our offices that are more than willing to fulfill our every request without question, no matter how strange it might sound. It seems like we expect to carry that into other areas of our lives. Some recent studies have shown that Doctors, Lawyers and other high level executives make the worst pilots, drivers and boaters. They noted that when interviewed after accidents, the subjects all said they just expected what they wanted to be the outcome would happen, even when common sense and physics clearly dictated otherwise. Boaters expected others to know they were around and where they wanted to go and move. Pilots (the ones that survived) said they understood the principals of flight and gravity but just thought they should have been able to climb when flying with the wind at their tail, even though there air speed was less than the wind speed. And so on.

Myself like many of you I have seen a lot of poor drivers and of course and we all get very upset and ask where the stupid cops are.. Yet when someone on a bike makes the decision to run a stop sign or fail to signal or even share the road, because we feel like we own it. The standards are totally turned around and for some reason we feel like we should be exempted.

Let’s face it. We all sound like idiots when we do that.

One guy I was riding with decided to blow through a stop sign, I decided to slow down as much as possible without coming out of the pedals, look both ways, signal, then go. We were stopped shortly after making the turn. The cop asked my friend why he did not stop my friend said he did then inserted that he was a lawyer and knew traffic law very well. The cop said he was sitting at a corner of the intersection and saw the difference between what my friend did and what I did. He said he does not stop someone just because their wheels don’t come to a complete stop but said he always looks at the entire situation. He added that when someone does not slow down or signal they almost always get cited, but said (as he looked at me) when I see someone slow, look both ways and signal, if I do stop them they are much more likely to get a warning. He also added that having an attitude and not being truthful, especially when it is something he just saw first hand, does not help.
He asked for our info, I gave him my license, my friend did not have his. “I don’t know if you have ever heard this before but when your ride, ALWAYS carry some kind of ID. Most of us don’t and if we ever were struck on our own, well, good luck with trying to reach someone.
He let us off with warnings because I made the effort to cooperate and work with him. At least that’s what he said. Others I talked to that day were not so lucky and had very similar stories, “Yeah I did not stop but so what, the cop was a jerk and he gave me a ticket” If we listen to ourselves we might realize we are a big part of the issue.

Granted, I might see things a little different because I also ride a motorcycle. We expect that no one sees us and assume we will be the ones taking evasive action when competing with cars and trucks. We know we won’t with that contest. Why is there any difference while on a bicycle?

“Change venues”, “make them work for their money”. What a bunch of crap. We all need to just accept that the officers are doing their job. When something goes wrong, I call 911 not my friends. When cops are not taking calls and saving all of us and our kids, they are working traffic. In a small town like NP and many other small towns, they don’t have a lot of calls (I know because I checked) so they make traffic stops. Because of those stops they find people with warrants, suspended drivers, intoxicated drivers, stolen vehicles, drugs, and so on. It’s what they do and what we all expect them to do.

Until we all pull our heads out and realize we are the ones that cause a lot of our own problems, and start taking personal responsibility for our actions, we will always want to point our finger and place blame on others. Thus giving up control and our ability to change. You can’t get stopped if you don’t break the law, and you better your chances for survival with other vehicles, when you realize that you can’t win a one on one or just expect they will all yield to you.

The fact that vehicles will kill bicyclists each year is our reality and each time it happens it is very tragic, laws will help punish drivers who are at fault but meanwhile, we can do a whole lot more than we our now to avoid becoming a statistic.

Ride safe – Think of others – Get along

rixtir
rixtir
16 years ago

Hear hear, Brad M. Well said.

If we listen to ourselves we might realize we are a big part of the issue….Until we all pull our heads out and realize we are the ones that cause a lot of our own problems, and start taking personal responsibility for our actions, we will always want to point our finger and place blame on others. Thus giving up control and our ability to change.

Brad M
Brad M
16 years ago

I really wish some of the attorneys that are on this forum would chime in a little. The bail amount is set by the City or the County not the Police and Sheriff Department. The bail amounts in North Plains are more or less middle of the road. If you really want to get upset over ticket amounts, check out City of Beaverton. That will really make your head spin.
As far as getting cited on 26, ever drive between Murray and 217? I do everyday and see Beaverton out there all the time. The difference is that North Plains does not even start to pull people over until they are going 15mph over the limit; I know that because I got stopped at 70 and that is what the cop told me. They have had that standard for many years, Beaverton starts to cite at 9mph and over. I know that from being with a friend who was stopped and some people I know who got hit on photo radar.
For a lot of this stuff, all you have to do is ask, its public record.

N.I.K.
N.I.K.
16 years ago

The fact that vehicles will kill bicyclists each year is our reality and each time it happens it is very tragic, laws will help punish drivers who are at fault

Unless they don\’t, Brad. As a law-abiding cyclist who would normally be inclined to agree with you on the whole \”cyclists don\’t get some special exemption from the current law until the law gets changed\” business, I need to remind you that the woman responsible for Timothy O\’Donnell faces nothing more than a fine when violating three laws *plus* killing another human being. Beyond all this, the North Plains PD has decided to be more thorough in ticketing cyclists as a reaction to a death which was not caused by a cyclist\’s law-breaking, but the carelessness of a motorist. Tell me: what part of that makes sense? Is the \”solution\” to a child being run down by a drunk driver to start citing the parents of kids who jaywalk? Or is it to have as consistent-as-is-realistically-possible enforcement of laws across the board?

Again, I don\’t buy into this \”us vs. them\” bullcrap, and I don\’t believe there\’s any right to treat a stop sign as a yield until we get the law changed. But this type of measure taken against one class of road users as a response to the death of someone caused by a different class of road users is nothing short of stupid and ridiculous. I agree that there\’s a big need for the self-centered perspectives some cyclists embrace while decrying motorists for to be gotten rid of, but I scarcely think the time to lecture folks on the subject is when nonsensical increased-enforcement measures are presented as a police bureau\’s manner of \”taking care\” of a problem.

Joe
Joe
16 years ago

Having worked for a similar small town as a consultant, I know that traffic tickets are a very intentional source of revenue for these type of towns. The residents and small businesses want lower taxes, and yet they desire more round the clock police protection, which is hard to support with so few residents.

It\’s interesting to note that the residents and particularly the businesses of small town I worked for actually became fed up with the \”speed trap\” image of their city to tourists and friends and they\’re now considering closing their police department and contracting with the county (different than Wash. Co.). That said, this small town only had one stop traffic light in the whole city and speeding for cars was an issue.

Regardless, the point is that the terrible accident referenced by this hick cop is just some lame excuse to keep up their revenues.

peejay
peejay
16 years ago

Not so well said, Brad. Aside from the spelling errors and misused homonyms, you are missing the point of our criticism of the North Plains police action. They are free to ticket cyclists all they want for stop sign violations, but they really shouldn\’t use the justification that it may save another O\’Donnell-type death. And they really should be more concerned about focusing traffic enforcement to that which might increase safety, rather than increase their municipal budget. If post #26 is accurate, Chief Whitehead seems like a real winner. Would you defend his response? Does he sound like his primary concern is the safety of all? Or is he just a compensating little p___k?

Joe
Joe
16 years ago

Sorry.. i should know better.. Replace \”accident\” with \”tragedy\” because it was far from an \”oops, sorry\” kinda accident.

rixtir
rixtir
16 years ago

peejay, way to focus on spelling errors as a way of avoiding the introspection that Brad was calling for.

peejay
peejay
16 years ago

rixtir:

Introspection is fine and good, but it is not the correct response following the death of a cyclist who did everything right by a driver who had a record of doing everything wrong, and who was subsequently insufficiently punished. Introspection comes a distant second to outrage.

rixtir
rixtir
16 years ago

Until the last few posts, the only outrage I\’ve seen expressed here has been self-centered outrage over cops ticketing stop sign runners. Not a WORD of outrage about the light penalty for a cyclist being killed. That lack of appropriate outrage is pretty outrageous itself.

peejay
peejay
16 years ago

The outrage is directed at a police department that justifies its legal but not safety motivated enforcement practice by referring tot hat tragedy. I am not defending people who blow through stop signs, but I am sick and tired of people who imply that until every cyclist obeys every law, we should expect law abiding cyclists to get mowed down in broad daylight by motorists who then get off by paying a mere three times the fine for blowing that stop sign.

I am also sick of concern trolls who start by saying \”I\’m a cyclist, but we need to start getting out of the way of cars, or they have every right to run us down.\” (I\’m speaking of Brad. Rixtir, you\’re not one of those, but frustrating nonetheless.)

peejay
peejay
16 years ago

Let me quote from the original email Jonathan cited on the article:

\”My point is not to argue the technicality of my “stop” or lack there of, but the reasonableness of the fine and strange view that this will help contribute to reducing the bicycle/car fatalities in Washington County\”

That\’s what we\’re talking about. Back on topic.

Bill
Bill
16 years ago

I dont see why we are complaining that cyclists are getting tickets for failing to stop. These comments should be asking why the woman that killed Timothy didnt get punished more aggressively. Its not about protecting other cyclists from getting tickets when they rightfully deserve them. Its about changing Oregon law to punish car drivers to an extent fitting of disregarding the safety of a more vulnerable road user. Til then, cyclists wont be safe. Griping about getting ticketed for not stopping at a stop sign isnt going to help our safety concern, it just looks like we are looking to break the law while asking drivers to be punished more heavily for doing the same.

organic brian
organic brian
16 years ago

\”Put your foot down at all stop signs and signal all turns.\”

Peter, I don\’t know where this myth started, but unless North Plains has a town ordinance that differs from Oregon law regarding legal stops, then a legal stop for a cycle is the same as for an auto. Wheels stop turning. That\’s it.

99th MOnkey
99th MOnkey
16 years ago

Organic and Peter;
The myth of \”put your foot down, as required by Oregon Law, to confirm that you have come to a complete stop” came from the same place that \”bicycles are required to have a red battery-powered rear light by law and a reflector is not good enough\”. A select group of PPB\’s finest Motorcycle Traffic Control officers that used to be assigned to Critical Mass when it numbered more than 100 used to regularly cite riders for either not putting a foot down when coming to a stop or for not having battery-powered rear lights. After a sufficient # of contested citations where won in traffic court, costing the City of Portland, those citations have ALMOST stopped, with the same traffic control officers writing a reduced # of the same tickets ONLY when they think the \”perp\” is not someone that is going to go to court and fight a ticket for an ORS or Portland ordinance that does not exist. Thus, the myth continues and it causes bicycle riders to tell other riders to put their foot down. I suggest everyone that does not already own a copy of \”Pedal Power\” written by Lawyer Ray Thomas, printed by the City of Portland, buy one for $10. It is a comprehensive resource of all state and area-city bicycle-related ordinances and statutes.
Ray, the BTA and I think also Community Cycling Center, are available to provide short intensive classes on Oregon bicycle law to groups interested in learning their legal rights and responsibilities when riding a bicycle in Oregon. If you don\’t have reference to current law, and the understanding of relevant legal terms, how can you intelligently discuss and lobby for changing unjust, outdated or unsafe laws?

peejay
peejay
16 years ago

I propose a Bike Blog Corollary to Godwin\’s Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin\’s_Law) which posits:

As an online discussion about bicycles grows longer, the probability of a debate about brakes on fixies or stop sign issues approaches one.

Back on topic, please!

rixtir
rixtir
16 years ago

peejay, I don\’t disagree with what you\’re saying in Post 38, and I\’m sorry for frustrating you. I don\’t think it\’s productive if all we as a society are capable of is frustrating each other. If it\’s any consolation, I also find it frustrating to have a discussion about this situation, and have people turn it into a defense of stop-sign running and say that \”Idaho-style\” is the answer.

The problem outlined is that the NP police force is using a cyclist\’s death to justify an enforcement program that was in effect long before Timothy O\’Donnell was killed, and will be in effect long after, and arguably is more about revenue-raising than it is about cycling safety (for those who disagree with NP law enforcement, the police can at least make a colorable legal argument that they are charged with ensuring the public safety, and that\’s what they\’re doing when they enforce the traffic laws.). In my view, calls for \”Idaho-style\” are at least as inappropriate, if not more, as the NP \”response\” in the context of discussing police responses to Timothy O\’Donnell\’s death.

For what it\’s worth, I don\’t subscribe at all to a view that \”until cyclists start obeying the law, they deserve to get mowed down.\” I do think that obeying the law is an integral part of coexisting with other people in a society, and that respecting other people and their rights, and extending other people courtesies, is a two-way street, and the first step down that road begins with each of us.

Back on topic, the police have limited ability to do anything for public safety, other than to enforce the laws. It\’s up to US to keep the flame burning for the next two years, to ensure that laws are enacted in 2009 to appropriately punish motorists who carelessly or recklessly kill.

Iva Mace
Iva Mace
16 years ago

My son is a bicyclist and told me of this occurrence. I would hope you serious bikers would take the high road. It seems, to my husband and myself, that the NP office overreacted due to the recent death in his jurisdiction. Hopefully you all will realize that and be extra careful not to break the law and not to antagonize officers trying to do their jobs in sometimes very difficult positions. His tone may have made you all feel guilty. One rider makes the assertion he did \”not exactly stop\”. Granted the area was clear of hazards but in future, maybe put a foot down, okay? We want you all safe and as a driver, I certainly don\’t ever want to hit any of you anymore than you want to be hit. Let it be a good lesson, please. It\’s a big man/woman to admit he was wrong. Iva M Mace

N.I.K.
N.I.K.
16 years ago

It seems, to my husband and myself, that the NP office overreacted due to the recent death in his jurisdiction. Hopefully you all will realize that and be extra careful not to break the law and not to antagonize officers trying to do their jobs in sometimes very difficult positions.

What\’s your point, Iva? The cyclist killed didn\’t die by any wrong-doing of his own, and so apparently, by their reckoning, the appropriate solution is to increase enforcement of the law concerning traffic violations committed by cyclists. This isn\’t the NP doing their job, but rather publicly throwing an ineffective solution at a problem not related to the tragedy itself and claiming that it\’s the right thing for them to be doing in light of Timothy O\’Donnell\’s death at the hands of a careless motorist driving with a suspended license. Stepping up and saying \”We\’re going to be more thorough in stopping reckless drivers and actually enforcing the posted speed limits\” might be just complete lip-service-style B.S., but at least it would be an appropriate response. Instead, they\’ve opted to announce a much more convoluted and decidedly unreasoned approach which is downright offensive in its implications – which are, in case you can\’t read between the lines, that cyclists die because they violate they law, even when the instance cited couldn\’t be much more opposite.

Stopping cyclists for running stop signs? Fine, yes, that *should* be happening, because the law\’s the law and needs to be enforced. But don\’t pretend for one solid minute that anyone should sit back and take this ridiculous and insulting response -that is, skewing enforcement more heavily against the class of road user outright *killed* by no actions of his own in the publicized incident they\’re attempting to respond to- of the NP lightly. The furor does need to be coming from the right place, but don\’t you dare pretend for one moment that such is at all invalid, inappropriate, or uncalled for.

Chief Scott Whitehead
Chief Scott Whitehead
16 years ago

I have been reading through the messages posted regarding bike enforcement in North Plains. It seems that several people have taken my comments out of context and turned it around to sound less caring. Our efforts to step up enforcement at stop signs has been focused towards everyone. I don\’t care if your operating a motor vehicle or a bicycle if you disobey a stop sign you will be cited. I tell this to each person I stop regardless of their mode of transportation. The point I\’m trying to make to bike riders is that they are so much more vulnerable to injury and death because they are on a bike. I never justified my citations because of the death of Timothy O\’Donnell. I justify my cites because if a motor vehicle and a bicycle disobey a stop sign at the same time there will most likely be a fatality. I will do everything possible to prevent that from happening. I will park at the intersection of Glencoe and West Union everyday and cite all motor vehicles and bikes if that\’s what it takes to preserve a life. I know people don\’t like it and they think its all revenue generated enforcement and that\’s not true. There is nothing worse than responding to a crash with injuries or death. You think it\’s tough on you as a bike community? It\’s tough on us when we have to make a death notification and then second guess if we could have prevented such a tragic event. If I didn\’t care about the safety of people in North Plains I would not spend as much time enforcing traffic laws as I do. As much as it seems that people want us to stop what were doing it\’s not going to happen. I will go home everyday knowing that I did everything possible to make my community a safe place to ride and drive, and if I have to write tickets to make that happen I will. North Plains is my responsibilty and I have a duty to protect everyone and keep them safe. I will not change what I do and if I ever do then it\’s time for me to move on.

a.O
a.O
16 years ago

\”As much as it seems that people want us to stop what were doing it\’s not going to happen. … [I]f I have to write tickets [to make my community a safe place] I will. … I will not change what I do and if I ever do then it\’s time for me to move on.\”

With all due respect, Scott, I think it may be time for you to move on. Your statements above indicate that you have obviously closed your mind and believe that the only possible way to promote safety in NP is to sit at an intersection and dole out $335 fines. That is an incredibly narrow-minded view of promoting safety and particularly ironic given your extremely unprofessional statement to J, above, that \”Maybe next time you could put some thought into [your statement] and make a valid point instead of all the blah blah blah crap.\”

Scott, if you had stopped to actually think about this situation for even a moment, you\’d understand that your method of promoting safety simply doesn\’t work. You give tickets, yet people keep not stopping. So you mindlessly give more tickets. If giving people tickets caused more people to stop, then you\’d be giving fewer and fewer tickets unti eventually you gave none. How many years have you been giving tickets at this intersection, Scott?

I\’m not telling you how to promote safety in NP — figuring that out is your job. But you can\’t come before rational, thinking people and claim that giving tickets is all you need to do or even that it works. The facts show unequivocally that it does *not* work.

So, there are only two conclusions we can draw here: Either you\’ve been sitting at this intersection giving tickets for years oblivious to the fact that nothing changes *or* you don\’t really care about promoting safety in NP and really have some other motivation for stopping people who are unaware that that the intersection is a speed trap and popping them with $335 fines. Which is it, Scott?

N.I.K.
N.I.K.
16 years ago

The point I\’m trying to make to bike riders is that they are so much more vulnerable to injury and death because they are on a bike.

It\’s not a point you have to make to cyclists, Chief Whitehead. We\’re all well aware of it every single time we head out on the road. Doubly so when any of us have an interaction with that minority of motorists who drive carelessly or even willfully act towards us in a threatening manner. And even more so when another cyclist\’s death comes across the news. The only point you need to be making to those cyclists who blow stop signs is that they violated the law by not stopping, that the law exists to avoid risk of injury or death, and that for the violation, they face a hefty fine…the same point that should be made with any road user in any traffic violation. Any cyclist running a stop sign is likely well-prepared to face a fine if caught or to have their guts spilled over the surface of the road. Yes, it\’s stupid, it\’s easily avoided, but they\’ve made up their minds to forgo safety for convenience – just like motorists who do the same thing. It\’s not a \”cycling issue\”, but just sheer human foolishness, and that comes down to the individual, not the mode of transport.

I never justified my citations because of the death of Timothy O\’Donnell.

Then other officers in NP are giving the public the other impression of what\’s going on. Cases in point would be the officer who had the exchange with Lindsay Kandra in which he/she explained that an increase of citations against cyclists was in effect a result of having \”stepped up ticketing cyclists since the rider was killed a few weeks ago\”, and the superfluous \”treated as equals\” stern lecture Tim Schaeur & Co. received from the ticketing officer, who could have just written the tickets and singled them out as individual law-breakers instead of griping at them about the cycling community as a whole. It\’s instances like these, containing actual real-live B.S. accusatory rhetoric, that are tarnishing our impressions of law enforcement in NP.

rixtir
rixtir
16 years ago

Any cyclist running a stop sign is likely well-prepared to face a fine if caught

Sorry, there are way too many crybabies who post here every time they break the law and get caught for me to believe that.