The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Police Chief comes to the table, hears enforcement concerns

Posted by on November 12th, 2007 at 4:32 pm

Last Friday at City Hall, Commissioner Sam Adams hosted a meeting to discuss the enforcement issues that have caused frustration and outrage in the bike community and a public relations crisis for the Police Bureau.

At the table were representatives from the Police Bureau including both Chief Sizer and Assistant Chief Lynnae Berg, along with Traffic Division Captain Vince Jarmer. Also around the table were top staffers from Adams’ office, the Mayor’s office (the Mayor himself did not attend), City Attorney Dave Worboril, Multnomah County DA Chuck Sparks, Scott Bricker and Karl Rohde from the BTA, city traffic engineer Rob Burchfield, lawyer Mark Ginsberg, PDOT traffic safety guru Greg Raisman, City bike coordinator Roger Geller, and others.

The intention of the meeting was to define and discuss the issues and concerns surrounding police policy and their handling of communications following a recent string fatal and serious traffic collisions.

Commissioner Adams facilitated the discussion. Some of the issues brought up were (not a complete list):

  • Community tensions
  • The feeling that we (bureaucrats, citizens, politicians, advocates, police, etc…) all need to come together on these issues
  • Police communication and public relations policies and practices
  • Enforcement: priorities, community perception, “enforcement as education”
  • Police crash investigation and citation policies

I was encouraged by the opening words and tone of Chief Sizer. She expressed that they have clearly heard the community outcry and that they, “want to make things better”. She said the Police Bureau doesn’t want to be “that big boulder” that has to be moved uphill.

On the topic of improved communications following high-profile crashes, Chief Sizer said, “We have developed protocols on other issues of great community sensitivity that may have applicability here.” She then told us about their Crisis Response Team program.

The way she sees it, these Teams would be made up of activists and community volunteers and would be on-call, first-responders. The idea would be to put members of this Team at the “front end of information,” to “act as an avenue of communication between the community and the Police Bureau.”

If made up of the right people, and if given a central public relations function, this Crisis Response Team could be a positive measure.

On the issue of the Bureau’s handling of PR immediately following bike/car crashes, we all agreed that improvements could be made. Voicing the same concern I pointed out in my story about the Marine Drive collision, I proposed a new policy that would standardize what the Police Bureau includes in their press releases.

The idea, which everyone seemed to agree to (please understand this is not finalized), is that the Public Information Office (PIO) shouldn’t release any speculative facts immediately following a collision.

The hope is to work with the PIO to created a standardized list of facts that would be included in the press releases. This would prevent any insinuation of blame, or speculation about what happened, to become part of media coverage and resulting public dialogue.

We also addressed how police personnel conduct themselves in media interviews following collisions. On that front we came up with similar possible solutions: say nothing speculative and make sure that spokespersons demonstrate the utmost in sensitivity. Or, as one person put it, the strategy should be “message neutrality”.

As expected, much of the meeting centered around the issue of investigations and issuance (or not) of citations at the time of collisions (both of those issues are intertwined).

On the question of when investigations are performed, Chief Sizer read directly from the Police Policy Manual for a list of circumstances that automatically trigger an investigation.

Multnomah County DA Chuck Sparks also re-iterated the Police Bureau’s policy on issuing citations. He explained that it is standard policy to not issue citations at fatal collisions because there’s a fear that doing so could hamper the DA’s case. Sparks said that if a citation was issued and then more serious charges were brought up later, those charges might not stick because of double jeopardy (although Sparks admitted this has never actually happened).

With both of these policies (the investigation threshold and citations), the problem still seems to lie with officer discretion.

In both situations, examples have made clear that responding officers have the discretion to make exceptions to these rules. Officers can perform mini-investigations at the scene regardless of injury level, and based on that informal investigation they can (and do) issue citations.

I remain convinced that the current policy of not issuing a citation when someone clearly breaks a law — even if there’s been a fatality — has a profound negative impact on public safety, perception and education. I can appreciate and understand the official policy, but I still feel something needs to change.

Also discussed was the injury threshold required to trigger a full investigation. Lawyer Mark Ginsberg commented that this threshold has “ratcheted up” in past years — going from just “ambulance on scene” to its current level (only Trauma level injuries).

The Police maintain their need for this high threshold simply because they claim it’s a staff resource and workload issue.

On that note, someone pointed out that on the morning Siobhan Doyle was right-hooked (at the same intersection that claimed the life of Brett Jarolimek just two weeks before), Traffic Division officers were at Ladds Circle performing a stop-sign enforcement action (a location where cyclists notoriously get caught for rolling through).

As for enforcement actions (also known by some as “stings”), many around the table called for more of them to happen at intersections known to be dangerous and/or uncomfortable to cyclists. Also, a repeated call was issued for “right-hook” stings (promised by Commissioner Adams at the bike safety press conference).

Toward the end of the meeting, Chief Sizer agreed (at least in spirit) to work with Commissioner Adams’ staff to draft an official “Community Policing Agreement”. This was the first time I had ever heard of such a document, but apparently it’s an agreement that would be entered into by members of the bike community and the Police. Adams — who has experience with such agreements due to his tenure as Chief of Staff to Former Mayor Vera Katz (the Mayor oversees the Police bureau) — said it would “hold [all of] us accountable to doing something.”

If/when this agreement is created and agreed upon, it would be a positive step forward.

In the end, while no major changes in policy or cooperative initiatives were agreed upon at this meeting, it’s clear that bike issues are on the Chief’s radar. From here on out, it’s going to be an educational and relationship-building process for everyone involved.

Public scrutiny and outcry has forced these issues into the consciousness of Chief Sizer, the Police Bureau, and the entire city of Portland. Based on that fact alone, I’m hopeful that positive changes lie ahead.

The exact nature and timing of those changes, however, is still up in the air.


[Please note: This writeup does not include everything that was discussed. I’m awaiting an official meeting write-up from Commissioner Adams’ office that includes an outline of what was discussed, action items, and the Community Policing Agreement referred to above.]

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Matt Picio November 12, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Thanks for the update, Jonathan. It\’s good to see that the issues are on the radar, now hopefully through repeated and diligent effort, something can be done to fix the problems at hand.

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  • Chris Heaps November 12, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    I remain convinced that the current policy of not issuing a citation when someone clearly breaks a law … has a profound negative impact on public safety, perception and education….The Police maintain their need for this high threshold simply because they claim it’s a staff resource and workload issue.

    We need to get a group of volunteers who will pursue a citizen-initiated citation every time a cyclist is injured by a motorist breaking the law in Portland. Those are resources the bike community has, and that Portland needs to make the streets safer for biking.

    [S]omeone pointed out that on the morning Siobhan Doyle was right-hooked … Traffic Division officers were at Ladds Circle performing a stop-sign enforcement action…

    This fact demonstrates that the \”inadequate resources\” argument is not entirely true. That begs the question, do they just not understand how they are allocating their own resources, or is this concrete evidence of an anti-cycling bias?

    Multnomah County DA Chuck Sparks also re-iterated … that it is standard policy to not issue citations at fatal collisions because there’s a fear that doing so could hamper the DA’s case. Sparks said that if a citation was issued and then more serious charges were brought up later, those charges might not stick because of double jeopardy (although Sparks admitted this has never actually happened).

    Yeah, and it\’s never gonna happen because that\’s not the law. Issuing a citation DOES NOT offend double jeopardy. There is Oregon case law directly on this point. Multnomah County DAs have THEMSELVES won cases upholding criminal convictions against defendants who were issued traffic citations and later argued that double jeopardy applied to prevent their criminal convictions. Chuck Sparks needs to learn the law that applies to his own practice.

    Again, ignorance of key aspects of one\’s own job or anti-bike bias? You decide. Either way…

    I don\’t mean to sound so negative, but I\’m skeptical. As Burr once said, \”Talk is cheap.\” It sounds to me like the bike community needs to keep the pressure on so that some real change comes of this, rather than just some vague ideas.

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  • Elicia, Vice-Chair of the committee November 12, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    So, the Police want volunteers to speak for them because they can\’t get it together to communicate effectively? More work from our community so the police don\’t have to do their jobs. Sounds like a bum deal to me.

    I\’m glad that everyone sat down at the table to discuss these issues.

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  • BURR November 12, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    And where is the discussion related to the anti-cycling bias of specific officers on the traffic squad? I can\’t help thinking that until specific individual officers – and there are more than one of them – are removed from the traffic squad, there will be no discernable improvements.

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  • Ron November 12, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Jonathan, thanks once again for the hard work in reporting all this.

    Like many, I am just too angry for platitudes — it\’s time for more actions.

    I second Burr\’s comment on why isn\’t a certain individual in the PPB, known to exacerbate these situations, being moved to somewhere more appropriate for his attitude?

    Jonathan, did the DA say when they would issue a final statement on each of the investigations around the deaths of Tracey and Brett?

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  • Val November 12, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    For several years now, I have been considering a move to Portland. More recently, however, I have been much less enthusiastic. Perhaps I am seeing a very distorted version of the PPD, but from what I understand:
    1. The police \”cannot\” cite cars parked in the bike lanes.
    2. The police \”cannot\” tow cars parked in the bike lanes.
    3. The police, can, and may, cite cyclists for leaving a bike lane, even when doors, parked cars, and pedestrians make the lanes dangerous.
    4. The police can, have, and will continue to set up \”stake out\” or \”sting\” operations to cite cyclists who disobey traffic laws.
    5. The police will not cite a driver who hits and kills a cyclist or pedestrian, regardless of circumstances, evidence, or witnesses.
    6. The police will not cite a driver who hits and injures a cyclist or pedestrian if the injuries involved are not serious enough for the attending paramedic to send the victim to the Trauma Care ward, regardless of circumstances, evidence, or witnesses.
    7. The police will cite a cyclist who is injured in a collision if the officer at the scene determines that the cyclist is at fault, regardless of the severity of the injuries.
    8. The police feel free to cite cyclists for percieved violations of vaguely defined equipment requirements, even though they \”do not have the manpower\” to investigate collisions which do not result in critical injuries.
    I have never had a very high opinion of law enforcement in the Puget Sound area, based on various personal experiences, but they are loking better every day in comparison to the PPD. I am pulled over fairly frequently by officers who have no idea what the law is in reference to bicycles, but all that usually results is an amusing discussion, and I know that they are willing to cite drivers who violate traffic laws.
    Again, my perspective may be skewed, but for now, I\’ll stay up north, here, and hope that some sort of improvement can be effected in Portland. I feel for you all; change is sorely needed.

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  • a November 12, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Seems to me the only fair way a Community Policing Agreement could work is if it were for both cyclists and motorists and would therefore allow self-policing for all road users. That\’s a far more equitable approach in my mind.

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  • Dabby November 12, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    While I appreciate this info, it appears (from the info we have been given here) that investigations, and citations, are still going to be hampered due to financial issues within the Police Dept.

    So, what this means in reality is that the idea of cyclist and pedestrian safety, (which is improved by a vehicle\’s operator realizing that they will be held accountable if they are not paying proper attention) is being sacrificed in order for the Portland Police Dept. to save money.

    There must be a way to cut funding in some other area, in order to make monies available for the saftey of our citizens.

    In my travels, I see plenty of ways, on plenty of days, that the resources of certain officers are not being properly allocated.

    In no matter should citizen safety be sacrificed in order to save money.

    It is great to hear that discussions are going on, though at the same time horribly disgusting that they are hiding behind the same lame excuses.

    I have so much more to say on this issue, but will stop now.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) November 12, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    And where is the discussion related to the anti-cycling bias of specific officers on the traffic squad?\”

    Burr, yes, this was discussed. like I said in the story, the Chief has heard the community\’s concerns about specific officers loud and clear.

    \”…did the DA say when they would issue a final statement on each of the investigations around the deaths of Tracey and Brett?\”

    This was talked about and I\’m glad you asked. The DA said it\’s never easy to tell when the final reports would come back (one big problem is a back up at the blood analysis labs)…however, it should come out as one of the action items that whenever a car/bike collision investigation is completed, a copy will be sent to Roger Geller (Chair of the PBAC and PDOT\’s bike coordinator).

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  • pablo November 12, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Sounds to me like what is going on in PakisUSA… say something that sounds like something, but really, do nothing!


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  • annefi November 12, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    Whose blood was analyzed? Just the victims\’ or the truck drivers\’ also?

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  • Joe November 12, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    when people die we need action.. ok lets
    blame the cyclist.. gee wizz.. man give us a break please.. we trust these motorist.. sad. even if they dont want us
    on the road..

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  • scott November 12, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    another thank you Jonathan for all your work!

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  • brodie November 12, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    I find it hard to believe that these people involved feel it is appropriate to allow a person who has just committed vehicular manslaughter to leave the crime scene and continue driving.
    While I am glad to live in a city where this even warrants a top-level discussion like this, I still think most of the answers provided above indicate a strong anti-cyclist bias among the police force, and I hope that is a motivating factor for people to show up in large numbers this Friday and Saturday.

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  • Dabby November 12, 2007 at 7:49 pm


    Good question Burr, exactly what I meant to add, but spaced off adding in my comment.

    And Val, you have it about right.

    You could add \”selective targeting and the equivalent of racial profiling of cyclists\” to your list, and it would still be only half complete.

    We are screwed…..

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  • peejay November 12, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    I have an idea for a law: If you are involved in a crash that injures someone or requires a vehicle to be towed, you must forfeit your license until the investigation is completed. If the investigation determines that you are not at fault (and nobody has initiated a citizen complaint against you), then you get your license back and no harm done. If you are at fault, there should be some kind of minimum period that your privilege to drive must be revoked, depending on the seriousness of the offense. You can always go to court to state your case, but the benefit of doubt should go the other way, since there is no right to drive. It seems so obvious that this should be the law already but I guess it isn\’t.

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  • LandShark Pete November 12, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    Even though it doesn\’t seem like it to us, we are still in the early stages of a cycling revolution in Portland. Despite the fact that our numbers are increasing rapidly and that Oregon law gives us certain rights, our car-centered culture is still adjusting.

    It\’s not unlike the social revolutions of the past 30 years related to drunk driving, domestic violence, and smoking.

    We must be persistent in our efforst to change attitudes, perceptions, and actions. Friday\’s meeting with the Chief and Commissioner Adams was a very positive step.

    Now to some legal principles:

    First. There is no longer a double jeopardy issue if police issue non-criminal traffic citations in serious or fatal accidents. ORS 153.108 (1999) and State vs. Warner, (Oregon Supreme Court, 2007) make it clear that that a citation for an offense like Failure to Yield does not bar a subsequent prosecution for a crime like Negligent Homicide or Manslaughter. The police and the DA can change the current practice without jeopardizing major criminal prosecutions. Even if there were some theoretical problem, it wouldn\’t prevent the police from issuing citations after the DA decides that there\’s not enough evidence to prosecute for homicide.

    Second. Robert Reid\’s op-ed in The Oregonian two weekends ago was misleading to the extent that it implied that a driver\’s failure to yield to a cyclist was, in and of itself, sufficient evidence to support a Negligent Homicide or Manslaughter prosecution.

    Third. I don\’t recall who made the point first on this website, but it\’s true that non-criminal traffic offenses don\’t require proof of a culpable mental state. In more simple terms, an officer doesn\’t need proof that a driver negligently or recklessly cut off a cyclist in a bike lane. The cyclist has the right of way. Period. If I, as a driver, collide with a cyclist who\’s in the bike lane to my right, in almost every circumstance, I\’ve committed a traffic offense.

    Fourth. Someone else on this website argued that we should take discretion away from police officers. Bad idea. The better approach is to convince the police that they need to do more to keep cyclists safe. It\’s in the City\’s and the public\’s interests to encourage cycling. Cyclists are vulnerable and should be protected. Police should enforce the law selectively to increase safety and reduce injuries at known locations and in dangerous circumstances. I suspect that some officers and many citizens adhere to a different standard–what\’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The police really don\’t have enough time or resources for that (what about sex crime investigations or safety on MAX or gang violence or any number of other competing priorities?).

    Fifth. I\’ve experienced the following circumstances in the past 7 days:

    (1) A driver rolling through a stop sign and nearly colliding with me.

    (2) A driver screaming obscenities at me I didn\’t obstruct him; I didn\’t slow him down; I was just a guy on a bike).

    (3) A helmet-less cyclist riding the wrong way in the middle of a one-way downtown street, through a major intesection against a red-light.

    (4) A motorcycle cop thanking me for safe riding.

    Life and law are complex, damn it.


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  • Inky November 12, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    I just want to thank Chris Heaps for his input here. It\’s always good to have those pesky legal \”opinions\” put in context. And when you have an advocate who understands the law it tends to make bureaucrats pay attention. Well maybe not always, but one can always hope.

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  • Matt Picio November 12, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    Right on, Pete – that\’s a great summary of the issues. Jonathan, I hope the next time you (or one of the rest of us) speak with the DA, that you bring up the specific case law that Pete mentioned in his above post.

    Let\’s all keep everyone\’s feet to the fire, especially this Wednesday at the meeting and this weekend at the rallies.

    -matt p

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  • Steve Durrant November 12, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    On the citation/prosecution issue, I remember being so struck during Commish Adams\’ press conference a couple weeks ago when they said citations aren\’t issued when there is a fatality or serious injury requiring the DA\’s attention. Fair enough, if that how it has to be (and I hope that changes), but at the minimum, the black hole we currently have needs some light shown into it.

    Before we learned of the policy, it just sounded callous, prejudiced and unfair, then it sort of made bureaucraic sense, now we need the follow-through – some information on the process, timeline and ultimately the results of the DA\’s investigation. As an overall policy and for each case.

    Thanks Jonathan for sticking with this.

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  • Antonio Gramsci November 12, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    It\’s great that they felt compelled to \”come to the table.\” Predictably, though, they offered eyewash, all eyewash, CYA stuff.

    We have to push real hard on the injury issue. What is the standard for triggering a thorough investigation and citations?? It is completely incoherent. The young woman in the case at issue was taken away on a stretcher with multiple broken bones! This is not \”traumatic\” enough?? Not enough resources?? But they have resources to do bike stings at low, low traffic intersections with no known safety problems???

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  • Paul November 12, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    On a side note all – as a cyclist who shares a car in a household and had family trauma accident last year, this issue also applies to automobile operators.

    Depsite rear-ending a pregnant driver, causing preterm labor, require ungodly levels of medical attention for over a year now. No citation except lack of insurance. It happens for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers – no citations.

    In my case the civil system kicks in and takes care of the loss, but that doesn\’t have the same punitive effect the law might. Just some related issues. Cyclists are one of many victims at the hands of careless, negligent or malicious drivers.

    (Lets see, we have 300 million people to move around a country. Whats the best way to do that…. Oh, give them 2,000 lbs bullets that pollute. Splendid.)

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  • Karen November 12, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    Found on Page 10 of Oregon Bicyclists\’ Manual:

    Passing other vehicles
    You may pass on the right under certain conditions, but always do so prudently and if it’s safe to do so (changes to law allow passing on right effective January 1, 2006). Some drivers may want to turn right at the next driveway or street. They may not see you if they aren’t looking your way. Ride at a reasonable speed, and scan carefully for right-
    turning cars (see drawing below). If a car ahead of you is signaling a right turn, do not pass on the right. Do not pass stopped cars at a crosswalk or intersection – they may be stopped to let a pedestrian cross or to let another car through.

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  • Metal Cowboy November 12, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    I would like to volunteer, Chris, to call officers/email the address we got from the PPB last week to request public records and help file citation violation proceedings in any future cases.

    Equality is not built overnight. Feet to the fire folks, at the rallies, ( this weekend and future events until we get transportation equality)at these sit downs with the chief, and at every opportunity that presents itself.
    Joe Metal Cowboy Kurmaskie

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  • wsbob November 12, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    \”Also discussed was the injury threshold required to trigger a full investigation. Lawyer Mark Ginsberg commented that this threshold has “ratcheted up” in past years — going from just “ambulance on scene” to its current level (only Trauma level injuries).

    The Police maintain their need for this high threshold simply because they claim it’s a staff resource and workload issue.\” Jonathan Maus/

    It seems as though staff resource and workload issue has been offered before by the police department to explain why they are unable to issue full investigations of serious traffic collisions. Some people attempt to dismiss that explanation by bringing up the action in Ladd\’s Addition where staff and resource has been expended to cite cyclists for failing to stop at stop signs.

    The police arrive at enforcement priorities that someone defines for them. The question seems to be how to shift among or expand the list of those priorities. Maybe the police really do need more staff and resources than they currently have to conduct full investigations of collisions that need that attention in addition to more routine traffic safety enforcement actions like those conducted in Ladd\’s Addition.

    It wouldn\’t be so wise to unwittingly leave the impression of using the recent serious bike/motor vehicle collisions as an excuse to shift current police staff and resources away from areas where some cyclists feel the heat is on them for violating basic traffic regulations.

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  • peejay November 13, 2007 at 4:24 am

    Another problem with the \”insufficient resources\” argument is that after each of these recent major crashes the police ended up expending a great deal of resources managing the PR fallout. Had they only done their real jobs, and investigated the cases properly, they could have saved themselves the work of explaining why they can\’t do their jobs!

    Better cops, please!

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  • John R November 13, 2007 at 6:41 am

    \”Message neutrality\” from the PPB with regard to crashes seems like an improvement from the current system: \”blame the cyclist.\” But, the real issue is that PPB are inventing conditions not written in the ORS to assign blame to the cylist and exonerate the motorist. Thousands of citizens in Portland are absolutely convinced that the motor vehicle operators were faultless specifically because of PPB statements. ORS 811.050 says….

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  • Steve Brown November 13, 2007 at 7:50 am

    Val #6. Really liked your comments. I understand the long an involved process with local governments.
    The people at the table are doing good work. It is not easy and takes time. I do not know if it helps or throws gas on the fire but would really like to see the enforcement data on bike land violations by cars and failure to yield to bikes by cars. My guess is the lack of citations would be shocking.

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  • Kris November 13, 2007 at 8:17 am

    Steve # 28
    […] would really like to see the enforcement data on bike land violations by cars and failure to yield to bikes by cars.

    When you randomly click on the red dots on the accident map posted on Oregonlive, you see an aweful lot of accidents that mention \”… authorities listed the driver\’s failure to yield the right of way as the primary cause of the crash.\”. I agree that it probably would be very revealing if the info would include whether a citation was issued in these cases.

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  • Chris Heaps November 13, 2007 at 8:22 am

    Folks, you have a Multnomah County DA, Chuck Sparks, saying publicly that issuing someone a traffic citation will prevent a subsequent criminal prosecution for the same behavior because of double jeopardy. But that\’s obviously wrong. First, it\’s done in Oregon (and elsewhere) all the time because the traffic laws are not criminal laws. Second, as discussed above, there is case law right on point, State v. Warner, 342 Or. 361 (2007). By the way, this case was decided in February.

    Does it bother anyone else that the DA appears not to know the law related to criminal prosecution?!

    It should.

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  • P Finn November 13, 2007 at 8:48 am


    While your list is pretty accurate, (It\’s legal to leave a bike lane to avoid stuff. I, however, refuse to use them downtown and have never been cited or harassed.) I have had two \”cop talks\” and one ticket in eight years of riding here (The ticket for riding in a nonbikelanebikelane (you know, behind the county courthouse) was actually the straw that broke the camel\’s back for me as a messenger in 2002). We\’ve come a long way and the fact that we are having this dialogue here is HUGE. GINORMOUS.

    If you get harassed as much as it sounds like you are, come enjoy the City of Roses. The more bikes, the better the cyclist-to-cop ratio.

    On the RESOURCES topic, I did want to insert this thought: Picture a 50-deep line of cop cars going after every driver who enters the bike lane, fails to yield, etc. Then imagine the PR resources the PPB would need to justify such an action to the bridge & tunnel folk…hmmm…maybe it would be better to wave them over to the curb to await their citation…

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  • Sasha November 13, 2007 at 8:49 am


    Paul above has an excellent point, and one that I think is oft forgotten on this Bike-centric board. The issue of not being cited is far from a bike only affair. It happens in car crashes as well.

    In the fervor that often grips the postings in here, people tend to lose sight of the fact that the majority of the issues at play here are identical in the world of Car v Car, and the volume is much much higher.


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  • David Dean November 13, 2007 at 8:54 am

    I just spoke last night with a friend who said he was involved in a car on car collision at Interstate and Greeley. There were no injured parties and the insurance companies determined \”no fault.\” Yet he received a citation for driving the wrong way down the street. (Which is ludicrous.)

    Does anyone know how to obtain Portland citation records? I would venture to guess there are hundreds of citations given per year which go against official police policy (AKA official excuses.)

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  • Bicycledave November 13, 2007 at 8:56 am

    If the police say they need more resources to investigate crashes I\’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. Let\’s demand more resources for the police as one of our demands at the rally this weekend.

    What better way to get what we want (more investigations) and help bring the police over to our side?

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  • you are November 13, 2007 at 9:14 am

    where was lt. krueger during this meeting?

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  • Steven J. November 13, 2007 at 9:40 am

    I believe you Chris, It also shows just how far up the chain the ignorance goes.

    I find it hard to believe that ALLthe PBB are anti cyclist bias, some most certainly are. I feel the officers\’ ignorances play a more pivotal role.
    I\’m in no way defending the PBB here. I realize that we place a huge demand on the officers these days.
    That\’s why it\’s crucial to know the chain of command is in place to guide them. We Don\’t…
    We have Sizer and Kruger, whom I doubt have ever ridden a Bike,trying to convince the public the bike safety issue is some pink elephant.

    Frankly, there\’s been so much damage done to cyclist\’s trust lately, It would take an officer with a bike patrol background to qualify any statement made.

    I submit, not only do drivers & riders need more education…
    Officers need a higher level than both of them.

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  • peejay November 13, 2007 at 9:43 am


    Because – and you knew the answer already – the police don\’t really have a lack of resources; they just don\’t want to bother. Writing reports is not fun policing.

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  • Jasun Wurster November 13, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Could the lack of police resources or investigations be attributed to the para-military organization that the PPB has become? In other words, the people that should be peace officers will never apply because of the percived militant culture of the PPB? Look at all the resources the PPB have dedicated to Critical Mass, bike stings and protest… and yet traffic investigations are low priority (unless someone is killed).

    It is great that dialog is happening, however, what the PPB really needs is to change their hiring practices and culture to attract people that actually live in Portland and have life experience (may it be a combination of education andor age).

    I do hope that the broader issue of reforming the PPB to a true community policing service is one matter that the next Mayor of Portland will be forced to address… it appears that he is taking steps in the right direction.

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  • rixtir November 13, 2007 at 9:45 am

    Not nearly as fun as pepper-spraying babies.

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  • Val November 13, 2007 at 9:45 am

    The more I think about this, the more mind boggling it seems. I realize that not all laws can be enforced at all times. I realize that no matter where you are, police will sometimes observe an infraction and decline to issue a citation, for various reasons. What I have never heard of before is a police force that has a specific official policy (let me repeat that: Official Policy [!])of not enforcing traffic laws unless a very narrow range of injuries is caused by the infraction. It\’s like some macabre, twisted version or the three bears: this person (not cyclist, person)is not injured enough for us to cite the driver…this person is TOO injured for us to cite the driver – in fact, they\’re dead…this person is injured juuust right (does that ever actually happen?)…
    I\’m sure you have all heard about the cyclist who was recently shot while riding home in West Seattle. We may not be sure that the police will find the shooter, but all of us here have some confidence that if found, he will be arrested. It would seem that the PPD would not even issue a citation – the injuries were clearly not severe enough. Heck, they might just give him a uniform and a badge, and put him on traffic duty.

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  • Roadkill November 13, 2007 at 9:56 am

    I was hit by a car turning right onto Greeley from southbound Interstate almost 2 years ago now! While the ambulance was hauling me away the police officer responding told me that the policy is not to issue a ticket unless someone dies. Now the policy is to not issue a ticket when someone dies? What is the policy? Eat donuts and issue tickets when and where you feel like it? (e.g. to cyclists.)

    I can\’t help but think that if a ticket had been issued when I was hit by a car at that intersection, and when every other car hit a bike at that intersection then either the city would have closed the right turn lane BEFORE a cyclist was murdered there, or trucks and cars might have gotten the message that they need to not run over bikes.

    How can we claim to be a bike friendly city when those responsible for protecting and serving all of us (including cyclists) can\’t take the time out of their busy days to even document assaults on cyclists by motorists? How will it ever get better without this kind of information? The total body of data that would be available from creating even a rudimentary report on bike/car collisions would be invaluable in designing better traffic designs, transit routes, and yes, even enforcement actions. (Then will the police be able to set up a \”sting\” to punish unsafe cyclists and motorists in a place where it will actually save lives.)

    Unfortunately for now, despite these PR hug-fests, we are on our own.

    Be careful out there!

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  • Vance November 13, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Unqualified bicycle operators ARE the problem. \’Unqualified Bicycle Operator\’, is virtually synonymous with, \’Cycling Community\’. The so called, \’Cycling Community\’, is comprised of a tiny minority of bicycle riders in this city. A tiny minority of riders who are positioning themselves to dictate to the vast majority of riders how they will, and will not ride a bicycle in the City of Portland.

    Those who are calling for safety in this issue, are the exact same people running stop signs, harassing pedestrians, and yes, even ending up injured or killed outright in easily avoidable accidents. Which is contrasted by the other half of this, \’Cycling Community\’, who so far seem to have no problem with acting as elected officials on behalf of all cyclists, whether, \’all cyclists\’, like it or not.

    The Police Bureau here in town is clearly fed up with this, \’Cycling Community\’, can you blame them? Calls for enforcement have resulted in bicyclists being sanctioned, not motorists. That\’s a pretty clear message, if you ask me. Scott Bricker is not an elected official, no matter how much mascara he puts on. Fancy Sam is much more interested in turning Portland, Oregon into an Ikea commercial, than he is getting anything substantive accomplished.

    If you are 120 lbs soaking wet, you might wish to reconsider riding a bicycle in traffic. If traffic frightens you, stay home, drive, ride a bus, I don\’t care just stay off of a bicycle. If you feel compelled to don a helmet, my question to you is why? What are you planning to do, in traffic, that you need a helmet for? Answer: SOMETHING YOU SHOULDN\’T BE DOING! If you feel threatened, intimidated, fearful, or anything other than supremely confident, in traffic on a bike, then get off the road!

    There is an energy crisis. No shit? More people need to park their cars. But that doesn\’t mean that they should jump on their kid\’s bike, and start pedaling around in traffic. In case you all didn\’t notice, this last is getting people killed. You speak of education and training, as if… EVERYBODY involved these latest string of incidents were carrying valid Driver Licenses. Motorist and cyclist alike. And just look at how much education and training helped those people.

    Mr. Maus, as per usual, my beef isn\’t with you. I\’m disappointed that you chose to support this BTA hogwash the way you do, but in the end you stick to your post as journalist, and I do appreciate it.

    To the rest of you, maybe you aren\’t cut out to cycle in traffic. This might frustrate you to hear. I don\’t blame you. But your cries for safety are going to have an impact on those of us who feel plenty safe already. Is your desire to strike a pose so strong that you will throw your fellow citizen\’s autonomy and freedom under a bus? I can only hope the City sees fit to land on the, \’Cycling Community\’, with both feet. Fancy Sam, and Bricker will be just another pair of idiots in a couple of years. At which point, the City will be free to do as it pleases. This B.S. is going to end up with bicycles on the sidewalks, and off of the roadways, mark my words. Nice goin\’, Cycling Community\’.

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  • Nelson Muntz November 13, 2007 at 10:13 am

    A simple sugestion: Place signage at all high traffic intersections with the words – YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS AND BIKES.

    I don\’t see many of these in the city but they are all over the \’burbs. Now they just state \”PEDESTRIANS\” but you actually see drivers slow down and even stop before executing a right turn. (I\’ve nearly been right hooked numerous times in Portland but have yet to experience that in Beaverton or Hillsboro-bike hell if you believe the majority of posters on this site)

    Perhaps a simple reminder that you will cross a bike lane or sidewalk will do more to solve this problem than blue ribbon commissions? Seems like PDOT could make that happen in very short order.

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  • rixtir November 13, 2007 at 10:14 am

    peejay, post 16:

    I have an idea for a law: If you are involved in a crash that injures someone or requires a vehicle to be towed, you must forfeit your license until the investigation is completed.

    A bad idea for a law. \”If you are involved in a crash\” means, for example, that if an inattentive driver rear-ends you while you\’re waiting for the light to change, you lose your license.

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  • Chris Heaps November 13, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Chuck Sparks wants you, the citizens of Portland, to believe that no one at the Multnomah County DA\’s office has read ORS 153.108(1), which states \”[I]f a person commits both a crime and a [traffic] violation as part of the same criminal episode, the prosecution for one offense shall not bar the subsequent prosecution for the other\” (emphasis added).

    The PPB wants you, the citizens of Portland, to believe that they don\’t issue traffic citations because it can \”hinder\” a prosecution. How, then, does the PPB explain the facts of State v. Warner, 342 Or. 363-64, which states (emphases added):

    The relevant facts are as follows. On May 7, 1999, defendant was involved in a traffic accident while driving on 1-205 in Portland. Defendant was injured in the accident and was taken to a nearby hospital. A police officer met him there. After questioning defendant about the accident and administering certain tests, the officer issued two separate citations. The first citation charged defendant with three traffic violations:[fn3] careless driving (ORS 811.135), driving uninsured (ORS 806.010), and failure to carry proof of
    compliance with financial responsibility requirements (ORS 806.012). The second citation charged defendant with driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) (ORS 813.010), a traffic crime. Both citations summoned defendant to appear in court on May 27, 1999. However, sometime before that May 27,
    1999, court date, the district attorney filed an information charging defendant with both DUII and a second traffic crime, reckless driving (ORS 811.140).

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  • Vance November 13, 2007 at 10:35 am

    Oh ya. peejay, ever hear of a little thing called The Constitution of the United States? You should look at it sometime. There are these things called, \’amendments\’. Take the 6th amendment for example? That\’s the one that says you get a fair trial BEFORE you are punished for a crime. Thanks for your contribution though, you\’d have made a great Nazi.

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  • A. non. November 13, 2007 at 11:28 am

    001. this doesn\’t necessarily need to turn into a political discussion, but the reality that many people choose to ignore is that in all aspects, the police have become the military. i neither care for them nor do i trust them to protect me in any way. that includes being in a car, on foot, or in a bike.

    002. vance should get over his ego and passive-aggressiveness.

    003. riding a bike is healthier, more sustainable, more fun – and yes, sexier! – than driving a car. sometimes for fun i lock my bike to a parking meter downtown where some tool has just paid $9 or whatever it is. and that\’s after driving around for 10 minutes trying to find that spot. awesome.

    004. i ride safely, but the people being hit and killed are not the ones riding crazy. they\’re not the ones running stop signs (what about when cars roll through stop signs, btw?), or red lights, or \”harrassing pedestrians\” (never seen a cyclist harrass a pedestrian. never harrassed one myself). the people being killed are the ones in bike lanes, being run over by people in big trucks who just aren\’t paying attention. i have said it elsewhere, and i\’ll say it here: cyclists need to pay attention and be careful, yes. but drivers need to do the same thing, and when a collision happens, someone needs to be held accountable.

    several years ago in south florida, a girl was hit by a car as she was crossing a busy intersection. the car sped up to make the light, ended up running a red, and struck the girl. she was dead upon impact. the driver, as it turns out, was the daughter of someone on the board of trustees of a major university, the same one that i went to and that the victim went to. the outcome? slap on the wrist. the driver got no jail time, or anything close to it.

    the point of this is that, sorry folks, but a lot of shit is corrupt. and despite all this PR stuff, i echo the opinion that we really are on our own. but negativity from people doesn\’t help either. just ride really safely, and ride in traffic. riding directly in front of a car is an absolute guarantee that they see you. bike lanes are great if you\’re on SE 26th heading towards clinton on a bright sunny day. but downtown, ride in traffic. if there are two lanes, you are entitled to take up one of them. THAT\’S the law. if a car wants to get around you, they can change lanes. i\’ve had some close calls because people don\’t know how to drive, but i\’m still alive.

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  • Bicycledave November 13, 2007 at 11:45 am

    I believe our focus ought to be getting more people on bikes. The more people on bikes the safer we\’ll all be and the more political clout we\’ll have to improve things further for those who choose to bike.

    The best way to get more people on bikes is to change the perception of those who believe bicycling is dangerous. Safety is the number one reason people interested in biking give as their reason for not biking.

    How do we change that perception? Working with the police to improve enforcement is one way. Working with the legislature to write new laws to protect vulnerable roadway users is another. Adding more bike lanes, bike boulevards and bike paths are others.

    Sam Adams and the BTA are doing a good job moving in this direction. I predict Sam Adams will be Mayor in 2 years and Scott Bricker will still be head of the BTA if he\’s not appointed to some department of transportation position by then.

    Personally I think it is safer to bike than to drive as this article by Alan Durning shows.

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  • Robin November 13, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    It\’s nice to see they are moving on this issue. Unfortunately, it is sad to see those with the most to benefit fighting each other. Perhaps we should work on consensus as opposed to blame or a contest to see who is most correct in policy. Not every idea is a viable solution but if this is going to be an open forum people need to be able to express themselves without being talked down to by there own peers. These are sensitive issue, they involve life and death but that does not mean rudeness is acceptable. so for the sake of effectiveness could we have some civility. We have to work together to change policy.

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  • Dabby November 13, 2007 at 12:09 pm


    I started composing a response to your baseless tirade, then stopped myself.

    Instead I shall turn to something my dad use to say when we were growing up.

    It is something that has gotten me through a lot of rough little moments in life, and, when loosely translated from latin, seems to fit your comment to a \”T\”.

    \”Illegitimus non- carborundem\”

    \”Don\’t let the bastards get you down!\”

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  • Coyote November 13, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    It strikes me that this is not a bike thing, it is a car thing. With hundreds of people everyday dying in car crashes and we just gloss over the whole thing. If a gun owner shot someone, would the police give them the gun back and wait for the DA to issue a citation? Would the police only investigate if the gun caused injury was traumatic?

    Perhaps it is time that we begin talking about the source of the problem. Car crashes are a flipping disaster whether involves cars only, or other roads users.

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  • brian November 13, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    I really don\’t understand this whole no investigation thing. If you have blood on your vehicle and somebody is lying in the street. Investigation over. You hit somebody. Trauma level, wtf. Somebody has been assaulted. Take the car.

    \”The Constitution\” says nothing about the right to drive irresponsibly. That would require a new amendment.

    Finance problems at the police department? This fix is easy. Enforce some traffic law, keep a larger portion of the fine money for the traffic department. Make the roads safer, improve property values because everybody is less stressed, start fixing global warming all at once.

    Oh and one last thing outlaw all vehicle adverts that say car is fun to drive or fast.

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  • kg November 13, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    This just defies logic:
    \”If you feel threatened, intimidated, fearful, or anything other than supremely confident, in traffic on a bike, then get off the road!\”

    Along with:
    \”If you feel compelled to don a helmet, my question to you is why? What are you planning to do, in traffic, that you need a helmet for? Answer: SOMETHING YOU SHOULDN\’T BE DOING!\”

    I nominate Vance for a Darwin Award!

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  • encephalopath November 13, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    I assumed that Vance was writing troll parody.

    None of it made sense as a \’straight\’ argument; mostly raar, raar, raar gibberish.

    Unfortunately it wasn\’t incisive enough to be good parody.

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  • SkidMark November 13, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    Vancetroll: I wear a helmet in case a motorist \”doesn\’t see me\”. I feel \”supremely confident\” in my own abilites, it\’s the people driving around making moving violations and not paying attention that concern me. Considering that the number one way for someone to die in this country other than disease is in a car accident, I would say that driving and drivers are from from the law abiding angels you make them out to be.

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  • rixtir November 13, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    I really don\’t understand this whole no investigation thing.

    Well, I think peejay is right on the money on this one– the police don\’t want to be bothered.

    If you have blood on your vehicle and somebody is lying in the street. Investigation over. You hit somebody. Trauma level, wtf. Somebody has been assaulted. Take the car.

    Actually, the likelihood is nobody has been assaulted. Despite my mother\’s protestations, when I was a kid, I used to watch the Three Stooges when she was out. Now, sometimes Curly would have a board on his shoulder, turn around to talk to Larry, and hit Moe in the head with the board. Assault? no. Negligence? Yes. The difference is assault requires intent– you know, like when Kruger says you have to intend to violate right of way in order to get a citation. Well, with assault (and you actually mean \”battery\”), you have to intend to injure the other person. Without that intent– and no, the mere act of driving does not demonstrate intent– you don\’t have assault, no matter how injured the other person is.

    But you may have negligence. The question is, which party was negligent? Did Curly negligently swing the board around, or did Moe negligently walk into the board? Or were they both negligent? And if so, to what degree?

    That\’s what an investigation– and subsequent trial– is supposed to help us understand, and \”investigation over\” doesn\’t get us there. It\’s just the obverse side of Kruger\’s \”investigation over.\”

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  • Brian November 13, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    Discussion outlines.
    Action items.
    Positive steps forward.
    \”On their radar\”.

    All a bunch of codswallop. What we should be doing is educating our children. Automobiles aren\’t the ultimate expression of personal freedom and mobility. Bicycles aren\’t toys. The roadways are for everyone to share and motorists have the lion\’s share of responsibility to look out for other users\’ safety since they operate the largest, most dangerous vehicles out there. We need to take back our streets.

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  • C9 November 13, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    Vance es muy loco.

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  • peejay November 14, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    Actually, the privilege to drive is not guaranteed by the constitution.

    And although I was not entirely serious by the idea expressed in my post #16, it\’s not without merit. Think about it: when a police officer is involved in a shooting, he/she must relinquish their firearm until there is a hearing to determine if the shooting was proper (except in Portland, that is, where they just get more bullets). A police officer\’s ability to use a gun is perhaps more protected by the constitution than a driver\’s permission to drive.

    Anyway, if innocent people have their licenses temporarily suspended until an investigation is completed, there might be a lot of pressure on the police force to complete those investigations in a timely manner.

    Anyway, making the temporary loss of driving privilege much more common is perhaps a good thing. People might stop taking driving for granted, and might have to venture out on a bike now and then.

    Not that the Vance troll might understand any of this, as I\’d just as soon he find another place to discharge his bile into.

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