Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 8th, 2007 at 4:22 pm
Portland-based lawyer Bob Mionske, a former Olympian who writes a monthly legal column for VeloNews Magazine, has added yet another voice of concern over what he sees as a bias against bicyclists at the Portland Police Bureau.
In his most recent VeloNews column, A fatal bias?, Mionske goes in-depth on four cases that he says are “textbook incidents of anti-cyclist bias.”
Three of the four cases are from Portland collisions that happened in the past month.
Mionske uses the cases of Tracey Sparling, Brett Jarolimek, and Kyle Egertson to make his points.
In the Jarolimek case, Mionske says, “the Portland Police Bureau shifted the blame to the cyclist for “speeding”, rather than placing it on the driver for “failure to yield.”
The Sparling and Jarolimek tragedies have been discussed at length already, but you might not yet have heard about 24 year-old Kyle Egertson.
Egertson was involved in a collision with a truck on October 24th, just two days after we lost Brett Jarolimek. I read a report on KATU about the collision, and thought it was strange it was even reported. I didn’t feel it was newsworthy because it seemed like a simple fender-bender.
Here’s how Mionske lays it out:
“Kyle was hit by a motor vehicle, and based on the statements of a witness, was cited for running a red light and riding against traffic on a one-way street.
Think about that for a moment.
In most of the collisions between cyclists and negligent motorists, the police coddled the negligent motorist by talking about non-existent statutory requirements like the need for the driver to see the cyclist, or the need for the driver to perceive that he is violating right-of-way, or even by assuming that the cyclist “must have been speeding.”
In Kyle’s crash…it did not rise to the level of injury that the Portland Police bureau claims to be the threshold for an investigation leading to a citation.
And yet an investigation was conducted, and Kyle was cited.”
For more interesting details about this case, read Mionske’s column on VeloNews.
Mionske is not the first legal expert to point out what he feels are shortcomings in how the Portland Police Bureau deals with bicycle crashes. In an article on this site a few weeks ago, lawyer Mark Ginsberg claimed they had a “conformational bias” against cyclists, lawyer Chris Heaps was quoted in the Oregonian as saying he thinks they are “misusing their resources”, and lawyer Robert Reid penned an opinion piece in the Oregonian today with similar concerns.
Mionske has also just written a timely book, Bicycling & the Law, which has been very well-received.
In light of these concerns, and growing frustration in the community, Commissioner Adams has called a meeting to discuss these issues further. I hope to bring you developments soon.