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Commander’s perspective on weekend enforcement

Posted by on July 16th, 2007 at 11:59 am

This morning I asked Traffic Division Commander Mark Kruger if he had any information he could share about the police presence at the Midnight Mystery Ride (MMR) and the Zoobomb ride over the weekend.

Here are his thoughts on the MMR:

“Friday night NE Precinct officers requested our assistance when a group of bicyclists was reported blocking traffic while riding through NE. We responded and issued a number of citations and arrested a bicyclist for DUII. My understanding is that the ride was largely broken up at that point. If we get complaints from citizens or requests from a precinct to assist because bicyclists are blocking traffic ala critical mass style, we will respond and take whatever enforcement action is needed to restore the traffic flow.”

And his thoughts on Zoobomb:

“Traffic officers worked large scale enforcement missions on Hwy 26 last Friday, Saturday and Sunday as part of our SAFE zone enforcement and because we have a grant from ODOT to conduct large scale missions on Hwy 26 (and other locations) over the summer. I was informed that the mission encountered the zoobombers on Sunday night and did issue 14 citations for stop sign violations. We issued another 187 citations to motorists.

We’ve been monitoring the zoobombers on Hwy 26 since last summer and we are seeing the same kinds of behaviors that caused us concern last year, namely riding out into the travel lanes instead of staying on the right shoulder as required. Last week we stopped a 13 year old boy who was riding with another 16 year old with the zoobombers. The boy had no lights, no brakes on his bike and no helmet while riding down Hwy 26 in the dark. We returned him to his parents.

We regard this zoobomber behavior of illegally riding on Hwy 26 in the travel lanes (sort of surfing back and forth across the travel lanes) during the hours of darkness to be very dangerous and careless. Often they have no lights. If we are out working the area during one of our missions and encounter the zoobombers under these circumstances, or preparing to make a run down the highway, and we observe violations, we will take enforcement action. My opinion is that this zoobomber behavior on Hwy 26 is a fatality waiting to happen and we won’t stand by and ignore it if we are present conducting enforcement.”

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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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felix
Guest

NO COMMENT – MEDIA BLACKOUT – ZOOBOMB

Slick
Guest
Slick

Kruger: Bikes are part of traffic as vehicles. Bikes are traffic! Remember? That\’s why you say we have to live up to the same laws when you write tickets. Double standards or not? Which way do you want to go?

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Care to elaborate, Slick?

Slick
Guest
Slick

it\’s a response to these parts of his statement. “Friday night NE Precinct officers requested our assistance when a group of bicyclists was reported blocking traffic while riding through NE…. If we get complaints from citizens or requests from a precinct to assist because bicyclists are blocking traffic ala critical mass style, we will respond and take whatever enforcement action is needed to restore the traffic flow.”

Bikes riding through NE is traffic flow. Just because our vehicles don\’t have engines does not mean we are not a part of traffic.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

OK.

But because bicycles are vehicles, they are subject to the traffic laws, and if you\’re violating the traffic laws, then there\’s no double standard in play if you receive a citation.

too scared of cops retaliation to put name
Guest
too scared of cops retaliation to put name

One would have thought that a grant from ODOT for enforcement of hwy 26 would have envolved police enforcing against traffic ON hwy 26, not hanging out in a parking lot near a deserted road…

Slick
Guest
Slick

Rixter: That\’s my point. Either we\’re vehicles subject to the law as traffic or we\’re not. In this case, Kruger\’s comment basically says that bikes are not traffic. In previous comments, he says that bikes are traffic and therefore subject to every vehicle law. He can\’t have it both ways. When he gets it both ways, it feels like we live in a police state.

Bikes are traffic. Bike traffic is traffic flow.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Bikes are traffic. That doesn\’t mean that corking intersections is legal, and it doesn\’t mean that riding in every lane is legal. If bikes were \”blocking traffic,\” that isn\’t inconsistent with bikes are vehicles.

I suspect that if a group of SUV enthusiasts got together in a group of several hundred, and were corking intersections, and traveling in lanes contrary to what the law allowed, they might also be reported for \”blocking traffic.\” And if the traffic division showed up, and discovered that some of those SUV drivers had no headlights, and some were DUI, they might also be cited.

Martha R
Guest
Martha R

At 5:00 every day, there are hundreds of cars downtown blocking traffic. The PPB needs to start issuing tickets to those drivers so we cyclists can get around more easily.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Marth, are those cars corking intersections? Or do you not understand the difference between legal and illegal behavior?

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Glad I don\’t have the enormous chip on my shoulder some people here are carrying around, I\’d never be able to get out of bed, and it apparently really skews your perception of reality…

I guess I should count my blessings. 🙂

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

Maybe they could use some of the grant money for the \”enforcement missions\” during peak traffic times to see that drivers are obeying the laws as well. Can\’t tell you how many times I\’ve been driving through there and a driver on a cell phone drifts over a lane.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

He uses the word enforcement and mission so many times it sounds like he\’s getting ready to bomb Iraq or something….

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

They\’re looking for Wheels of Mass Disruption. 😉

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Slick,
Of course bicycles are part of traffic. \”Blocking traffic\”, however, is not \”traffic flow\”. While cyclists have the same rights as motorized vehicles and are subject to the same rules, there are some additional rules that cyclists are subject to, but seldom aware of.
Public roads are an inherently dangerous place. Oregon hasn\’t had Driver\’s Ed. in public schools since the 80\’s. I don\’t think there has ever been Bicyclist\’s Ed.
Whether driver or cyclist, we could all do each other a huge favor by understanding the rules of the road a little more clearly.

http://egov.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/docs/bike-ped_statutes.pdf

814.430 Improper use of lanes; exceptions; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person does not ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.
(2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:
(a) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle that is proceeding in the same direction.
(b) When preparing to execute a left turn.
(c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side. Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.
(d) When operating within a city as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of a roadway that is designated to allow traffic to move in only one direction along the roadway. A bicycle that is operated under this paragraph is subject to the same requirements and exceptions when operating along the left curb or edge as are applicable when a bicycle is operating along the right curb or edge of the roadway.
(e) When operating a bicycle along side not more than one other bicycle as long as the bicycles are both being operated within a single lane and in a manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.
(f) When operating on a bicycle lane or bicycle path.
(3) The offense described in this section, improper use of lanes by a bicycle, is a Class D traffic infraction. [1983 c.338 §701; 1985 c.16 §339]

wyatt
Guest
wyatt

Cars constantly cork traffic. It\’s called \”gridlock\”.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Wyatt, please try to have some intellectual integrity. You and I both know that \”gridlock\” and \”corking\” aren\’t the same thing.

\”Gridlock\” is the blocking of intersections by vehicles that are trapped– involuntarily– in the intersection by the cars ahead of them when the light changes.

And it\’s against the law, and vehicles can be ticketed for blocking the intersection.

\”Corking\” is the INTENTIONAL blocking of an intersection for the express purpose of preventing vehicles that have the right of way from proceeding, so that vehicles that DON\’T have the right of way may proceed.

And it too is against the law, and vehicles can be cited for blocking the intersection.

One is CARELESS blocking of the intersection by a trapped vehicle, and the other is INTENTIONAL blocking of the intersection for the purpose of blocking the right of way.

And you think the cops won\’t show up for the intentional act?

Time to grow up, Wyatt, I suspect you\’re old enough now.

wyatt
Guest
wyatt

Rixtir,

Thanks, Dad. That was just the swift kick in the butt I needed. I\’ll get to growing up now.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

I doubt it.

Slick
Guest
Slick

I\’m not so sure they\’re only talking about corking. I think they\’re also talking about large masses of bikes that slow the parts of engine-enabled traffic. On the corking front, the PPB should offer more parade assistance if they\’re worried about the flow of these events. Riding drunk isn\’t cool and tickets make sense. Corking isn\’t good, but I do see cars do it downtown all the time. Haven\’t you ever seen a car enter the intersection on yellow only to block the other direction of traffic? Bike culture happens because people get to hang out and ride together. It\’s a good thing that riding together with hundreds of people builds community and friendship. If they think it isn\’t happening safely, they should help make it safe instead of making me feel like I can be deemed a criminal at any moment for riding my bike or having fun. Rixter, I even think that people should stop at stop signs and I bet I stop more than you do. Cops can be wrong sometimes too. Like right now.

wyatt
Guest
wyatt

When cars get stuck in an intersection it\’s generally because the drivers are so freaking impatient to get to where they\’re going that they purposely go against the yellow (and often red) and lodge themselves in the intersection when they can clearly see there is no more room across the intersection. Thereby blocking traffic intentionally.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

I\’m not so sure they\’re only talking about corking. I think they\’re also talking about large masses of bikes that slow the parts of engine-enabled traffic.

I just re-checked the links, and I think you\’re right, it was the police who were corking. Look, if the cyclists were following the law, riding in the proper lanes, and the police showed up because cyclists were \”blocking traffic,\” then that\’s obviously a problem, because it\’s not illegal for bikes to be on the road, even en masse. And if the police showed up because legally-riding cyclists were riding en masse, the police should be called on that. My impression though, from reading the links, is that there were numerous problems coming from *some* of the riders.

On the corking front, the PPB should offer more parade assistance if they\’re worried about the flow of these events.

Apparently the police were corking for the ride, and then they started handing out citations.

Riding drunk isn\’t cool and tickets make sense. Corking isn\’t good, but I do see cars do it downtown all the time. Haven\’t you ever seen a car enter the intersection on yellow only to block the other direction of traffic?

That isn\’t corking.

Bike culture happens because people get to hang out and ride together. It\’s a good thing that riding together with hundreds of people builds community and friendship.

In my view, it\’s preferable to have more bikes than cars on the streets. I just think they should not place themselves above the law when they\’re riding en masse. And if the cops start harassing cyclists who are breaking no laws, then you\’ve got my attention.

If they think it isn\’t happening safely, they should help make it safe instead of making me feel like I can be deemed a criminal at any moment for riding my bike or having fun.

Fair enough…

Rixter, I even think that people should stop at stop signs and I bet I stop more than you do.

Sometimes I\’m called the only saint in Portland who stops at stops, and sometimes I\’m told that I don\’t stop either.

I can\’t win…

Cops can be wrong sometimes too. Like right now.

I agree, and that is why I\’d rather not have my attention diverted by cyclists (not you) who complain about tickets they got for breaking the law. I\’d rather focus on real abuse of cyclists.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

When cars get stuck in an intersection it\’s generally because the drivers are so freaking impatient to get to where they\’re going that they purposely go against the yellow (and often red) and lodge themselves in the intersection when they can clearly see there is no more room across the intersection.Yes…

Except the ones who aren\’t running red lights are hoping that they\’ll be able to inch forward before the light changes.

Thereby blocking traffic intentionally.

No. Intentionally blocking traffic means they intended to block traffic, not that they intended to enter the intersection.

wyatt
Guest
wyatt

Fine. Then the level of selfishness involved means that they will attempt to reach the other side of the intersection, even if it means they will likely block traffic.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Still not the same thing as intentionally blocking traffic for the express purpose of preventing traffic that has the right of way from proceeding.

10e
Guest
10e

Slick: I agree. I was ticketed $242 for running a stop sign that I made a complete full stop at. A few seconds before I approached this stop sign I was almost run down by a car that was being honked at by others for blocking traffic at a intersection behind this stop sign (bottom of Clinton between 11th ave and 12th).

The officer in court said he didn\’t notice the car illegally blocking the intersection or run me off the road — but he did manage to see that my wheels did not come to a complete stop from 50\’ directly behind me while riding a motorcycle.

From my experience I\’d say there is selective enforcement targeting bicycles in this city. And cops can and will be wrong when they\’re focused on the few and not the many.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Still not the same thing as intentionally blocking traffic for the express purpose of preventing traffic that has the right of way from proceeding.

From the standpoint of the cops deciding whether to respond to the scene in force…

wyatt
Guest
wyatt

I give up.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

An attempt to clarify.

Oregon Statute 814.430
(1)\”A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at LESS THAN the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person DOES NOT RIDE AS CLOSE AS PRACTICABLE TO THE RIGHT CURB or edge of the roadway.\”
…Exception (e)
\”When operating a bicycle ALONG SIDE NOT MORE THAN ONE OTHER BICYCLE as long as the bicycles are both being operated within a single lane and IN A MANNER THAT DOES NOT IMPEDE THE NORMAL AND REASONABLE MOVEMENT IN TRAFFIC.\”
…(3) \”The offense described in this section, improper use of lanes by a bicycle, is a Class D traffic infraction.\”

Read full Statute here.
http://egov.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/docs/bike-ped_statutes.pdf

Stay to the right, especially if traveling below the speed limit and don\’t ride more than two side by side. Otherwise the Police might rain on your parade. Oh wait, parades require licenses.

Sauce
Guest
Sauce

$242 fine. I make $300 a month with $200 in bills. This is gonna be FUN! Oh, wait fun is illegal.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

#20, I completely disagree with your statement about biking after drinking. Biking while drunk as opposed to driving is the coolest thing that you can do and the law makes no sense in oregon. Just across the river in Vancouver biking while drunk is not a DUII, and if an officer encounters someone who he thinks is endangering themselves or others that officer is supposed to offer them a free ride home not harass them. Our DUII laws as related to bikes are completely backward and if you think I\’m wrong lets compare the number of people killed in car collisions where alcohol was a factor, 14000 in the US, to the number killed by drunk bicyclists, 0.

Bjorn

rixxxtir
Guest
rixxxtir

\”Traffic officers worked large scale enforcement missions on Hwy 26 last Friday, Saturday and Sunday…I was informed that the mission encountered the zoobombers on Sunday night and did issue 14 citations for stop sign violations.\”

The quote above is a big fat lie. Kruger should be ashamed to think we\’d believe that crap. Ask yourself: where\’s the stop sign on Hwy 26, Kruger? You failed to mention that the officers \”happened\” to encounter the zoobombers as they rolled the stop sign for a crosswalk that goes from an empty parking lot to the childrens museum…at midnight on SW CANYON RD (http://tinyurl.com/yvxwbf). Is that what you pictured when you read his description?

He\’s right, there\’s some bad stuff that happens on hwy 26. If he wants to stop it, his officers should \”happen\” to do their Hwy 26 enforcement work ON HWY 26, rather than in vacant parking lots. If he thinks his officers made a point last night, it\’s this: the PPB is far more interested in shutting things down than keeping things safe. Too bad they failed.

RESUME MEDIA BLACKOUT

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Bjorn, two comments.

First, your statistic on drunk bicyclists is wrong. A woman was killed in Seattle within the last year by a drunk cyclist. I suspect that if you\’re wrong by one (because you made your statistics up), then you may be wrong by more than one.

Second, you neglected to mention the percentage of fatal cycling accidents in which alcohol was a factor.

Finally, I agree that the Oregon law is unduly harsh, but I also think the California law makes more sense than the Washington law, although I will agree that the Washington law is easier on drunk cyclists.

Ok, that\’s three comments, not two.

solid gold
Guest
solid gold

dear god, all these b.s. \”you broke the law by running a stop sign in an abandoned parking lot, therefore you deserve a ticket\” arguments are so weak. you police apologists are all hypocrites. everyone reading this breaks probably at least ONE LAW EVERY SINGLE DAY.

do drive 55mph in an 55 zone? do you come to a complete stop every single stop sign, even the ones at night on quiet streets with four way stops? do you signal every turn you make? do you ride with both hands on your bars at all times (unsafe riding citation)?

you are all a bunch of self-righteous, cop-butt kissing, hypocritical, liars. your blaming-the-victim arguments are completely invalid.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Rixtir, in comment 33 are you referring to the betty jean simon case? My understanding was that although the person accused of bumping her in front of the bus left the scene by bike they were in an argument/scuffle before she fell at which time he was not on his bicycle, and that the bicycle was in no way the cause of her death. I have spent considerable time attempting to find even one case in which a drunk cyclist hit someone while they were riding on the street and killed that person. Whereas I personally know people who have been killed or maimed by drunks operating motor vehicles.

Bjorn

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Bjorn, from what I read of the incident at that time, she was standing at the bus stop when he rode by and bumped into her. He was apprehended and tested over the limit. If there were further facts made public after the original news story, I wasn\’t aware of them.

Carl
Guest

Congratulations rixtir! You\’ve made 14 comments on this thread (39%!). That\’s the exact same number of citations issued last night. Even the police knew when to give up at failing to make their point.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Thanks for the count, Carl.

That\’s 15. 🙂

Now what was your point?

Steve
Guest
Steve

Solid Gold

I think the point is that if you are going to break the law be ready to pay the price if caught…if I am speeding down the freeway in my car or running stop signs/redlights on my bike I am full aware of the consequences if caught. Does it make me a police apologist if I say those who are caught should pay up? I would argue it makes me simply lucky so far to have not got my $242 Barnum/Balzer special.

Carl
Guest

My point?

I\’m getting tired of your blitz of comments and your apparent inability to accept that some folks just don\’t agree with you.

Sorry if that was unclear.

I won\’t be reading #16.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

I don\’t have a problem with disagreement. I have a problem with non-argument posing as argument.

You can open your eyes now.

Todd
Guest
Todd

flying threw an intersection at 30mph in a moving death mobile vs a 200lb cyclist at 10mph are completely different. i blow stop signs, everyone does. anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

if i get a ticket, then its mine to deal with. heaven forbid fun cannot be free, you must go to the mall / movies / . cops are targetting cyclists unfairly but when you go looking for a fight, i.e. riding at night without reflectors / drunk / not stopping at stop signs when a cop is there, you deserve what you get.

i dont agree with the sting operation on the zoobombers.

i have NEVER seen a DUI checkpoint in all my years in Oregon. when I lived in CA I would see them at least two or three times a year.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

i blow stop signs, everyone does. anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

I don\’t blow through stop signs. Period.

Care to provide some proof that I\’m a liar?

Todd
Guest
Todd

You have NEVER blown through a stop sign? Pretty defensive. Ok, let me rephrase:

\”i blow stop signs, everyone (except rixtir) does. anyone who says otherwise is a liar.\”

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

I rode threw a stop sign, once, because I saw it too late. I tried to stop, and missed the mark.

I don\’t really think that\’s what you meant by \”blown threw a stop.\”

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

rixter, I feel your pain.

Todd, I stop at stop signs.

I don\’t favor police but I respect them. I have five bicycles in my living room. I drive a car.

There are more people out there like me then some might think. Cycling is not a singular culture. We all share the road, we can all lead by example.

peejay
Guest
peejay

rixtir #45:

I bet you wish you had a fixie, \’cause then you might have been able to stop in time!

Logan 5
Guest
Logan 5

If what is meant by \”blowing\” is going through full speed, then I don\’t do it either. That\’s mostly because I know that others will stereotype all cyclists based on my actions and that\’s the last thing we need more of now. I know there\’s plenty of cases where I could easily blow a sign (or even a light out where I live) but I don\’t do it because it will not help us move forward and get some more common sense laws regarding cyclist into action.

Somebody else asked about going 55 on the freeway. Nope, I don\’t, I do about 60 or 65. But guess what? Everybody else is too which is why the cops ignore the behavior. When people are blatantly ignoring laws by doing 80 is when they tend to crack down. Sometimes a bit of conformity is ok.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

peejay,

actually, I do wish I had a fixie. And I have the perfect candidate, my father\’s nearly new condition 1970 Gitane Grand Sport de Luxe. One day….

peejay
Guest
peejay

Logan5 #46:

If it becomes ok to speed in your car because everyone is doing it, why doesn\’t that apply to certain stop signs that every bike does not stop at? If 10mph is ok because that\’s what everyone is doing, but 20mph is pushing it, why can\’t we say that slowing down and looking is ok but full speed through the sign is pushing it? Explain the difference.

Jeff #29:

Stay to the right, especially if traveling below the speed limit and don\’t ride more than two side by side.
I\’m trying to understand this one. If you are travelling below the speed limit, you should stay to the right. But if you\’re travelling above the speed limit, it\’s ok to take the lane??? Now I thought that was illegal.

Also, don\’t forget about exception (c), which states:

\”When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, BICYCLES, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side\”.

So, I may leave the side of the road to pass other bicycles. And if there are a lot of bicycles, it follows that I may go as far to the left of the lane as necessary to pass all of those other bicycles. Sounds a lot like the MMR, or any other big group ride.