Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Last of three ‘bike education missions’ this morning in North Portland

Posted by on July 24th, 2008 at 12:39 am

Traffic Enforcement Action NE 7th & Knott

(Photos © J. Maus)

Yesterday morning (7/23) the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division conducted their second of three “educational warning missions” focused on bicycle operators at the intersection of North Flint and North Broadway.

The results?

According to Traffic Division Captain Larry O’Dea there were 61 total stops. 8 motor vehicle operators were stopped (all were given warnings) and 53 “bicycle operators” were stopped. Of those, 51 received warnings and 2 were written up for citations (for “egregious behavior”).

A cyclist blows through the
stop sign at N. Flint onto Broadway.
The street to his right is N. Wheeler.

There are many issues at this intersection. Not only is there a very low compliance of the stop sign by bicycle operators, but there are right-hook issues at Wheeler Ave., and O’Dea says bicycles cause there are also “numerous issues” for pedestrians crossing Broadway at Ross. During Wednesday morning’s mission, he said that, “Neighbors from the apartment building, visitors and employees from the Northwest Cancer Center, and passing pedestrians thanked officers for addressing this location.”

Wednesday’s mission was the second of three such efforts that are, in the words of O’Dea, “designed to improve safety by raising awareness in a very positive manner of the importance for all roadway users to follow the traffic control devices for safety.”

This morning in North Portland the last of these bike-focused missions will be carried out (Ladds Circle was the first).

This time, the Police will be stationed at North Vancouver Ave. and North Russell St. from 7:30 – 8:30 am. UPDATE, 8:08am: This morning’s mission has been canceled.

If you ride through that intersection, feel free to stop and talk with Traffic Division personnel. They will be on scene to answer your questions and hear your feedback.

Also, if you rode through that intersection this morning, share your experiences in the comments below.

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  • KTesh July 24, 2008 at 7:26 am

    They are advertising this on KPTV… And pointing out the huge difference in the number of cyclists stopped.

    My co-workers are giving me a lot of flack about this.

    People, DON\’T give the newsmedia the opportunity of making us look bad. Obey the traffic laws, we know that we have a lot less Mass and our potential for physical damage is a lot lower, but our behavior causes a LOT of damage to our reputation.

    It takes a LIFETIME to build a reputation. It takes a SECOND to destroy it.

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  • KTesh July 24, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Well, I just heard that they cancled today\’s mission… but I\’ll be willing to bet that the newsmedia will still be staking it out

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  • Cmy July 24, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Yesterday I watched as two cyclists repeatedly ran stop sign after stop sign. Oh, and a couple of red lights as well. I was a little frustrated by their actions but I couldn\’t catch them to say something because I was stopping. I was within 30 meters of catching these two when we were approaching Broadway on Flint. They blew through that intersection. Again, I chose to stop. And I\’m sure glad I did. Both cyclists got pulled over by a moto cop.

    I have to admit that after watching them disregard at least 6 stop signs and two traffic lights, I was thrilled to see them pulled over.

    I don\’t always make a perfect stop but I think I operate my bike well within the legal limits. When we as cyclists blow through stop signs and red lights it just pisses off everyone around us. Just obey the damn law!

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  • jeff July 24, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Flint and Broadway is a great spot to do a \’mission\’ like this (aka, target bikes) – favored by cyclists who turn into their own lane, and hardly any cars making the same turn.

    Want to swap those numbers to 53 cars and 8 bikes? I can name 100 intersections where this would be _easy_. Where are the car education \’missions\’? The crosswalk \’missions\’?

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  • Donna July 24, 2008 at 7:51 am

    Northwest Cancer Center? So some of the pedestrians who have been buzzed by cyclists are likely cancer patients? Oh, dear.

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  • Jessy July 24, 2008 at 8:14 am

    Yesterday I rolled up to the stop sign at Flint & Broadway, signaled my turn, came to a stop, and… was staring right at several cops.

    I ALWAYS stop at that intersection. Not only because it\’s frequently enforced, but because it\’s just dangerous not to. And to let motor vehicles know that I expect them to follow the rules as well. Mutual respect while sharing the road.

    There was a TV crew at Vancouver & Russell this morning… I also came to a complete stop there. Kudos, me.

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  • B.C. July 24, 2008 at 8:15 am

    I ride through both of those intersections every day. For the intersection at Flint, it is a good idea to stop, because there are often cars coming down Broadway and cars waiting to turn right on both Flint and and freeway offramp to the east. There is so much activity going on in the area of this intersection that it is a good idea to stop to aviod confusion that could end up in someone getting killed.

    For the intersection at Russell, there is a huge open field, so it is easy to see if cars are coming or not. However, I always stop because I am on the \”Please stop at stop signs\” side of the argument. I think the biggest issue here is that the cyclist will be looking for cars and might not see the pedestrian waiting to cross the street and the pedestrian, not hearing the cyclist, steps into the crosswalk, then BAM. Negative bike publicity and \”BIKES VS PEDESTRIANS\” plastered all over the front page of the Oregonian.

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  • Dave July 24, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Remember, the media gets more advertising dollars from car dealers and oil companies than from bike stores. We are the visible minority and we will be watched more carefully–in the US, every cyclist is the equivalent of a black person in 1935 Alabama.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 24, 2008 at 8:17 am

    just FYI in case you missed the update in the story above… this mission has been canceled.

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  • Jim July 24, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Does anyone know how the cops are treating the intersection. Do they want a full stop, a foot on the ground and total halt of momentum or is it OK to slow down to a walking speed and look both ways?

    What is the law and what is the way it is being enforced?


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  • RJ July 24, 2008 at 8:24 am

    If you would like cars to stop- PLEASE STOP on your bicycle.

    If you would like cars to blow through signs and squish you- PLEASE STILL STOP on your bicycle, because you\’re ALSO endangering ME if you don\’t!

    Don\’t squish me.

    Thank you.

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  • Andy July 24, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Jeff #4:

    In fact, there was quite a bit of motor vehicle (especially semis, apparently) enforcement going on yesterday. In the 90 mins I spent getting back from a jobsite I saw at least 3 rigs pulled over and at least 2-3 different speedtraps laid out.

    If you don\’t think the numbers are the same, I\’m guessing a single photo truck will bag a good number motor vehicles on any particular \”mission\” – and they don\’t get warnings.

    Yes, you pull into your own lane, but I\’ve seen bikes blow that sign so fast they overshoot into the other lanes. Bikes popping out of Flint also can surprise vehicles coming out of or into Wheeler from Broadway. As mentioned above, there\’s a lotta stuff going on there, with people having to watch for cars coming off the freeway, pedestrians, and cyclists. Why make it harder for everyone just for the sake of convenience?

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  • KT July 24, 2008 at 8:41 am

    On the one hand, I applaud the PPB for their actions in attempting to educate the cycling community. How many of those pulled over didn\’t know the law, that they had to stop at stop signs and red lights? I\’m hoping that any newbies caught in the act learned something.

    On the other hand, the PPB targeted bikes in these actions… thereby presenting a really skewed picture of road users at these intersections.

    It would be nice if the PPB would spend more time targeting ALL ROAD USERS… instead of the easily-caught cyclists.

    And fellow cyclists: PLEASE, for the love of all you hold dear, stop at stop signs and red lights. PLEASE. I\’m begging.

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  • Moo July 24, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Still don\’t understand why a track stands at stop signs aren\’t considered to be true stops- even for a three to five second count. I think that many don\’t stop because in order to put your foot down on the pavement, many have to disengage – then re-engage their feet from and back onto the pedals…I\’m of that category.

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  • kg July 24, 2008 at 8:48 am

    In the top story on oregonlive is yesterdays enforcement action which has transformed into a bike only event. Just below that and apparently of less importance is a story of a mother who was killed when another motorist ran a red light.

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  • Mike M July 24, 2008 at 8:49 am

    @#10, Moo
    This mornings article in the Oregonian actually quotes a police officer saying that a track stand is acceptable. I was pretty surprised to hear that.

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  • Andy July 24, 2008 at 8:51 am

    I thought someone spoke to one of the officers at the first enforcement bonanza, and they said they were NOT looking for foot-down stops? That rolling stops went unenforced as long as they appeared to have a \”significant reduction in speed\” and looking both ways?

    I know it\’s subtle, but whip your head around in doing that look! I remember getting dinged on my drivers test long ago because I glanced to the side instead of craning my head wwaaaaaaayyyy over to look over my shoulder (at the big solid C-pillar that I can\’t see through anyway)

    Lol, funny rules. 😉

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  • kg July 24, 2008 at 8:53 am

    From Officer Parman in the Oregonian article,
    \”At the end of the day, as long as a stop sign is posted, the expectation is that people come to a complete stop,\” he said, which he defined as coming to a clear pause in motion for a few seconds — either by balancing or with a foot down.

    \”The stop sign is there, and it means exactly what it says.\”

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  • Rico July 24, 2008 at 8:56 am

    You want a sting operation? Try the corner of SW 3rd and Washington where cars come over the Morrison bridge and have two left turn lanes to attempt to mow down pedestrians in the crosswalk. They could give out 51 \”warnings\” to drivers every day.

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  • Jessy July 24, 2008 at 9:01 am

    I didn\’t put my foot down on the ground. I just stopped & paused.

    They didn\’t pull me over, but there were half a dozen people already pulled over and they snagged a couple people behind me.

    Who ever said that you do have to put on your foot on the ground? Is that real? I doubt it.

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  • k. July 24, 2008 at 9:02 am

    I go through both those intersections every morning. I got a warning at the Flint intersection two years ago. Since then, I\’ve slowly come around to the point where I stop at all red lights and stop signs, at least the ones that are on other then residential streets. Pretty much anywhere where there is car traffic, I try to present a good face for cyclists. I wasn\’t always like this though. But if I can see the light, just about anyone should be able to.

    My big question is, is it OK to politely remind or encourage other cyclists to obey red lights? Ever since the recent heavily publicized altercations between street users, I kind of hesitate to say much to anyone. Any opinions here? Remember, it\’s probably only a tiny percentage of bike commuters who ever read this site.

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  • Chad July 24, 2008 at 9:03 am

    I saw the news van setting up at the corner of Flint and Broadway this morning at six.

    I heard yesterday on the Rick Emerson Show that news crews are setting up people at commonly ignored stop signs with walkie-talkies to radio ahead to reporters two blocks down the road so they can interview the cyclist.

    To say the media is all over this is an understatement.

    If the end result is more cyclists obeying the rules of the road I am very much behind this media and PPB frenzy.

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  • Oliver July 24, 2008 at 9:04 am

    Vancouver and Russell. What a great place for a stop sign. Travelling Downhill, almost 1000 linear ft of visibility due to that nice vacant lot to the east. These are factors on the ground that the DOT planning book doesn\’t consider. There never was a better spot for a Right turn permitted without stopping, sign. (Except maybe the 8 @ Ladds circle)

    I live on a block that\’s a freeway ramp rat-run. Maybe once the city is done wasting money going for the easy wins we could get them to come to my hood and ticket a few of the 100 or so cars a day that run the stop at the end of my street and proceed down my narrow (pre-freeway) street & past my house @ 35. (but as there are no million dollar houses on my block guess i\’m out of luck)

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  • Andy July 24, 2008 at 9:05 am

    k #17:

    If someone tries to take a swing at you for casually saying \”Hey, I read there\’s a sting up ahead, better make sure you stop.\” deserves the expensive ticket and more.

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  • TF July 24, 2008 at 9:08 am

    I was one of the bicyclists stopped; the officer was friendly, stating that while I went through the stop sign at Flint, I did slow and check for on-coming traffic.

    The issue for me seems to be that bicycles are not motor vehicles; when bicycling, I rely more heavily on my inertia to make it through intersections and to wherever I\’m going. The time it takes to go from a dead stop to getting back in high gear seems more dangerous at the Flint-Broadway intersection than a yield. The same also seems true when crossing lanes of traffic from a stop sign.

    Bicyclists who yield but do not stop do not have the same ability to injure a pedestrian or otherwise compromise safety that a motor vehicle yielding but not stopping does. Bicycles are a different form of traffic, just as pedestrians who jay walk or cross at a crosswalk when no oncoming traffic is present do not present the same danger as a bicycle or car running a red light.

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  • Paul Vincent July 24, 2008 at 9:18 am

    I overheard some fellow cyclists talking about this earlier in the morning. I have to say I\’m pretty amused at what seems to be a common assumption among many self-styled \”serious cyclists\” that because they\’ve saddled something between their legs they are above the law. \”I\’d be p#*)@ed if they messed with our group ride.\” (Thinking to myself, sure would be nice to shout \”clear\” to my fellow motorists and expect the authorities to know that we had OK\’d them to run the stop sign.)

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  • bahueh July 24, 2008 at 9:19 am

    When the educational missions stop..the enforcement will begin…

    I have a feeling the city will be gaining a lot of extra income in the following weeks…

    all of you who try to justify blowing stop signs and lights…have fun paying the $280.00. It will be a joy to watch..

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  • Paul Cone July 24, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Vancouver and Russell has a traffic light. I also go through this intersection every morning. I imagine the issue is people who don\’t stop when the light is red and then dodge across traffic to make the left onto Flint. Strangely enough, it\’s usually green by the time I hit it… I am guessing it is timed well with the light further north at the hospital driveway (N Stanton St).

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  • Todd July 24, 2008 at 9:36 am

    \”in the US, every cyclist is the equivalent of a black person in 1935 Alabama.\”

    Dave, that\’s a horribly tasteless joke. Getting a warning for running red lights and stop signs is not the same as racist vigilantes murdering, lynching, shooting and firebombing people. The reality is bicycles are more accepted in Portland than almost anywhere else in this country. Study history and you will realize how privileged we all really are and how thankful we should be.

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  • Erin July 24, 2008 at 9:39 am

    These same officers perform crosswalk enforcement actions, so they aren\’t targeting cyclists. They are out here to educate. I\’ve worked with these guys (and continue to do so) and understand that they are most interested in the safety of cyclists and pedestrians – and part of that is ensuring we all abide by the laws we have in place. Don\’t like the laws? Lobby to get them changed!

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  • Chad July 24, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Yes, Russell is timed out nicely from the stop light at the hospital. The only way you\’d have trouble at Russell is if you…um…blew the stop light at N Stanton…hmmmm…

    Speaking of light timing on N Vancouver, last year one could hit the green light at Alberta and if you put your legs into it you\’d get greens all the way to Broadway, but in the last nine months or so I always miss the green at N Fremont by about ten seconds. I know this is kinda trivial, but I\’m curious as to why the light timing changed.

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  • Ron July 24, 2008 at 9:45 am

    moo (#14)

    I have done track stand stops in front of multiple police cars, and they have never had enough of an issue that they even bothered to talk to me. Maybe I\’ve just been lucky and they\’ve been pressed with other issues at the time.

    However, were I given a ticket for a full track stand stop, I would definitely fight it. My reading of the law does not require a foot down (am I wrong)? Only a full stop.

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  • Moo July 24, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Re. the track stand issue…it wasn\’t just a few months ago that they were ticketing everyone down by OMSI who weren\’t putting a foot to the pavement at the stops…ala motorcycle style.

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  • kg July 24, 2008 at 9:50 am

    It seems to me that if you are going to fast to stop when you see the police then you are probably not doing a safe roll through the stop sign. For this Broadway and Flint stop everyone should be coming to a complete stop as this is a very busy area which also feeds into a hill. With repsect to cars and stop signs I would like to see some efforts to educate motorists that failing to stop before the white line is the same as running the stop. As a cyclist who is trying to ride safely I fell forced to take the lane at most intersections because it seems 90% of the cars fail to stop until they are already out into the lane.

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  • madmike July 24, 2008 at 9:50 am

    These \”sting\” operations not withstanding, the letter of the law isn\’t really quite so important as is the discretion & targeted bias of the officer(s) enforcing it.

    I\’m a former messenger who still has the gall & audacity to periodically use my bulky messenger bag for my daily commute and/or some around town riding. However, having been pulled over several times now for silly infractions (\”equipment violations\” & slow-pedaling through stop signs with clear, 4-way visibility) I\’ve simply learned to not wear my messenger bag. I ride in the EXACT same fashion as ever, but have never been pulled over or harrassed the way I was when looking like part of the defiant \”underclass\” or whatever those crazy messengers are.

    The motorcycle cops have a sad vendetta against a particular breed of cyclist and if you simply dress \”appropriately\” you can guarantee yourself a much more liberal & relaxed interpretation of the laws.

    Gosh, I\’m gonna get flamed for this one…

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  • Urbane Naif July 24, 2008 at 9:56 am

    When I get the stats on the number of injuries caused by bicycles blowing stops versus automobiles, I might change my mind about these efforts. Until then, I know that motorized vehicles blowing stops are a hazard to life and limb and think our efforts should be directed toward motorist awareness of bicycles and pedestrians, not bicyclist awareness of stop signs. These \”education missions\” are a ridiculous waste of municipal resources.

    If this keeps up, we\’ll be ticketing, er, re-educating, dogs who hang their heads out of car windows next!

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  • madmike July 24, 2008 at 9:57 am

    (and I don\’t mean to suggest that ALL motorcycle cops are a-holes. The same way that a few over-zealous and self-absorbed cyclists have tarnished the reputation of the many, such is the same with a few a-hole traffic cops. Sorry if this rant got slightly off-topic.)

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  • Diogo July 24, 2008 at 10:04 am


    Your mean spirit and enjoyment watching others being extorted for money illustrates the true motivation behind this crackdown of cyclists. Its not about concern for safety; its a matter of envy and despise against people who act carefree.

    One more example of the law reflecting and giving legitimacy to the ugliest facets of human nature.

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  • kg July 24, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Speaking of dogs, we could use a leash law sting in Forest Park.

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  • Pete July 24, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Stopping at a sign means no forward momentum. Track stands are legal under Oregon law, but I\’ve heard there are cities that have ordinances dictating that a cyclist (moto or bike) must put one foot down at a stop sign. I\’m told Forest Grove is one of them, but I don\’t know this for sure.

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  • Yellow Guerciotti July 24, 2008 at 10:10 am

    yup. I saw it as I rode past. Personally, it was pretty damn silly. a half dozen moto cops waiting in a line to pull over cyclists. The cyclists running lights, not right hand turns with quarter mile visibility in every direction are what get my goat. The \”sting\” was not to affect the behavior of bikers but rather to show motorists that bikes are getting in trouble too.

    We can do ourselves all a favor, obey the same laws that you expect drivers to. Call it out when you see your peers not complying.

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  • wyatt July 24, 2008 at 10:15 am

    There was some guy sucking off my wheel on the Springwater which I didn\’t really mind since I was going to go that fast anyway. But once we get to the first stop sign he blows past me and turns left into the other bike lane – heading the wrong way. I come even with him and stop at the next stop sign near the opera house and he passes me again. I get on the OMSI path and pass him, going my normal rate of speed and again he starts sucking off my friggin rear wheel.

    Now that\’s just f*cking lazy.

    I slowed down drastically and waved him past. I considered saying something, but that never seems to solve anything.

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  • Forseti July 24, 2008 at 10:15 am

    All I can say is it\’s a good thing they use motorcycles, because there isn\’t a single one of those middle-aged fat-asses who could catch me on a bike.

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  • the future July 24, 2008 at 10:17 am

    three words….keep portland wierd

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  • Steve Pappert July 24, 2008 at 10:19 am

    vancouver and russell is a non-issue. miles of visibility and little traffic. If the police are going to do education missions they should focus on the dangerous intersections. public safety laws start out with good aims, but all too often just end up as an enterprise. Vancouver and Russell is probably a great place to set up if you want a lot of tickets, but it\’s not going to make the streets any safer.

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  • Robert Dobbs July 24, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Again, it is time for the Idaho roll-stop law.

    BTA? Where are you on this?

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  • Nate July 24, 2008 at 10:25 am

    When I got a ticket for blowing the stop in Ladd\’s a year or so ago, I got to go to that \”Share the Road\” safety class instead of paying the fine. They had a traffic judge there who said explicitly said that track stands are legal in his court. I forget his name, but he\’s a youngish guy, pretty cool, and a cyclist himself.

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  • travis July 24, 2008 at 10:25 am

    While I am all for following the laws:

    -In the neighborhoods I bend them a little. If I have a clear view through a 4way STOP I am going to run it (down hill on Salmon).

    -All of the laws we have in place now are geared towards and CAUSED by cars, which only became a THREAT in less than 100 years. The laws bicyclist follow (for the most part) are to make life easier for those driving. Streets for the most part are designed to relieve / help the flow of motor traffic.

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  • steve July 24, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Robert, the BTA is busy working on behalf of the CRC. And of course, fundraising.

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  • brian July 24, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Sad the way such a cool and good movement (more bike riders) can be made to look bad by a bunch of idiots who can be bothered by laws or common sense.

    Thanks guys.

    I\’ll continue to ride/drive ticket free. Smart and safe.

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  • John Mulvey July 24, 2008 at 10:39 am

    I\’ll add a vote for dog leash enforcement, though dog owners are the political third rail in this city. In any park, the police could write all the tickets they could carry.

    But re biking: I often bike through the neighborhood on the north side of Hawthorne, near the Fred Meyer (Madison, Main). In that area, if a car does stop at a stop sign it\’s a miracle. People are gawking, talking on their phones and scanning for a parking space, and couldn\’t give a damn about yeilding to bike that\’s got the right of way.

    So where\’s my police sting? I\’d gladly see some bikers ticketed if it meant they\’d also protect us a little bit. When do the police start protecting the law-abiding bicyclist, instead of pandering to the nonsense the Oregonian has been shoveling?


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  • Zaphod July 24, 2008 at 10:51 am

    I\’ve clipped the quote about a track stand being a legal stop and tucked it into my wallet. The variance in understanding and enforcement is my concern. While I\’d expect to win in court, burning 1/2 a day to a day of vacation to fight it would be costly.

    On a related note, coming to a legal dead stop and accelerating to speed on a fully loaded Xtracycle is a real drag. It\’s also a bit dangerous. During the time from 0-5mph, the machine is wobbly and vulnerable with no opportunity for evasive action.

    So while I\’m generally legal on the commuter rig, I\’d very much like to see the Idaho law adopted here. It\’s a sensible approach to address the different dynamics of a bike.

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  • criticalmasshole July 24, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Have you read the BTA\’s conditions for support of CRC?

    How does your footwear taste?

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  • Donald July 24, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Plus one for If you stop at the light at the hospital, you\’ll have the green at this intersection.

    Blew through the green as I continued on Vancouver this morning at 8:45.

    Gave the KPTV dude a Hang Loose and the Maori tongue. He thumbsupped me.

    If cars are the new smoking, the media is the new Fad Diet Best Ignored.

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  • bikes calm neighborhood traffic July 24, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Apparently Maus can stop bike stings as long as he finds out about them in advance. Good going bikeportland!


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  • Ethan July 24, 2008 at 11:36 am

    My takeaway from all this is that we may be arriving at a place in time where the critical mass (no pun intended) of cyclists has created a new reality. In a city where 6-8 percent of commuters travel by bike, the infrastructure (and money) must begin to reflect this reality in meaningful ways. I think Adams\’ ambitious bike boulevard expansion is a great first step, one which would beget yet more cycling, and the need for yet more modifications to the urban landscape away from car centrism.

    This tipping point also is pointing out the need to develop or reinforce societal expectations for both drivers and cyclists (all road users). The Oregonian\’s recent foray into yellow journalism aside, the sheer number of cyclists interacting with cars is creating a weird time where the various users draw their own conclusions/code . . . because there is no major effort to establish common goals/expectations. In no other American city is this transition remotely at the point it is in Portland, so we\’re going to have to figure out a way forward on our own.

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  • Lenny Anderson July 24, 2008 at 11:41 am

    What a waste of money…when SOVs are violating the HOV lanes on I-5, when cut thru motorists are speed up Tillamook \”bikeway\”, when kids are (reportedly) dealing drugs at transit centers, Portland\’s finest are harassing bicyclists who when they do something dumb pay a lot more than a $250 fine.
    Maybe its time for a \”Bike Strike\”…we all leave our bikes at home, hop in a car with a \”I normally ride a Bike\” sticker and drive the speed limit.

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  • Oliver July 24, 2008 at 11:53 am

    You can no more get the green @ Russel by waiting for the (too long) light @ Stanton, than you can get the green @ Stanton by hustling (with the greens) @ Shaver and @ Fremont.

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  • bobcycle July 24, 2008 at 11:53 am

    I always stop at stop signs when cars are around. e.g. would not run a stop sign at NE Klickitat where it crosses 82nd… that would be dangerous! I usually run stop signs on residential cross streets when no cars are coming. I also yield to cars when they have the stop sign but decide to pull out in front of me anyway. (laws of physics over rule laws of road) Since Tillamook has numerous stop signs I decided to try Broadway bike lane this morning. I watched a cement truck run a red after hearing him gas it on orange and had a car race me so she could turn right on freeway entrance although I was clearly in a blue/green yield to bikes area. This whole thing is getting crazy. I think I\’ll go back to driving the car to work until everyone cools down. I liked Portland better in the 70\’s when I was one of the few biking and nobody paid any attention to me. BTA was quoted as saying the stop signs are there for a reason, so obey them. The reason they are there is because cars are big fast and dangerous and stop signs keep them from terrorizing neighborhoods at high speeds. Bikes are none of those things. BTA needs to be lobbying to get the \”Idaho Law\” enacted here in Oregon. Until then $4 gas is cheaper than $200 tickets.

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  • N.I.K. July 24, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Who ever said that you do have to put on your foot on the ground? Is that real? I doubt it.

    It\’s not written in the law. The foot-down myth is usually pushed by the following groups:

    -the \”bikes are the scourge of society and their riders are freeloaders!\” nutjobs, who push all kinds of lies (and change the subject when you bring up oil and automobile industry subsidies, have an unhealthy obsession with Sam Adams, etc.)
    -folks on bikes who like making excuses for not stopping (you\’ll usually hear this lumped out with loss-of-momentum/can\’t shift my gears crybabyisms)
    -poor interpretation of the law by uninformed or spiteful public officials

    The last is the one that\’s the real problem. As pointed out further up, it\’s sometimes easier to give up $242 than it is to risk losing more of that by having to miss work to fight it. It\’s unfortunate that laws can\’t have \”X does *not* constitute the following:\” exceptions attached for simple clarification through negation.

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  • RonC July 24, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    The other evening I was sitting in mu parked car at SW 35th and Capitol Hwy, (Multnomah Village) waiting to pick up my wife at the end of a run. Just for fun I did a 5-minute count of the number of automobiles, bikes, motorcycles that came to a complete stop or rolled through the 4-way stop at that intersection. Of the 30+ automobiles that I counted, only about one of every six came to a complete stop, and many of the full stops were clearly due to a pedestrian in the crosswalk. I saw one cyclist, and they blew through the intersection without stopping. (There were no autos or pedestrians present at the time.) Only one motorcycle, and they did a complete foot-down stop. No accidents, no altercations. You can make what you want of this, but clearly there are other intersections in town where automobiles rolling though stop signs far outnumber bikes. Of the complete stops, I did not see any automobile drivers opening the door to put their foot down. (Track stands must be legal in automobiles!)

    All kidding aside, some reasonable standard of judgment needs to be established that can apply to all modes of transportation. It occurs to me that if a bike (or an automobile) slows to the speed of a pedestrian, then why shouldn\’t they be able to proceed through a stop sign if the intersection is clear? We don\’t ask pedestrians to come to a complete stop, do we?

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  • bobcycle July 24, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    My apology for above comments about driving my car… I was being rash, over come by the emotional debate. What I will do is BUS more and bike less until things cool off abit.

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  • Diogo July 24, 2008 at 12:40 pm


    While it is true that we may be at a transitional point to a new reality, this situation is not completely unprecedented.

    Check out this interesting article:

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  • maxadders July 24, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Hmm, I take Vancouver / Williams every day. If I wait for the light at Alberta, I can usually hustle to make the green at Skidmore. From there I can usually make Shaver on a green, and have about a 50/50 chance of clearing Fremont. Stanton, the \”hospital light\”, though, is almost always red. I used to run it all the time, since there\’s never any traffic around. But I changed my ways out of cop paranoia and the high levels of elderly drivers in the area. I still see cyclists blow through it every day…

    I left for work late and missed yesterday\’s Flint bust– but I usually stop there anyhow, especially if there\’s a car turning right from Flint or any vehicle in the far right lane on Broadway. Nine times out of ten, that means they\’re planning to turn onto Wheeler, so I let them by to avoid a potential right hook.

    Anyhow, I agree with whoever said that these \”education missions\” are being done largely to show drivers that something is being done about the problem. I seriously doubt these warnings / tickets will change the way people drive their bicycles in any long-term fashion. And I\’d much rather see this sort of attention paid to drivers who run blatantly red lights in Northeast.

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  • wrnchbndr July 24, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Jeff post #4

    Name one intersection. My guess is that proportionally speaking you would lose the bet.
    Far more of us disregard the traffic laws than drivers do or there would be more of us getting killed everyday.
    Just get a grip and stop its your obligation to and its the law. Look it up!!!


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  • Graham July 24, 2008 at 1:01 pm


    \”The reality is bicycles are more accepted in Portland than almost anywhere else in this country. Study history and you will realize how privileged we all really are and how thankful we should be.\”

    Very true. And because of that, I think there\’s something going on here in Portland that might be kind of unique in the country, us being the most bike-friendly city and all. Cyclists are reaching a point of critical mass here, such that we\’re starting to be a real presence on the road. That\’s encroaching upon what\’s always been car territory.

    People feel their vehicles as extensions of themselves, on a instinctive, animal level. When little animals start encroaching on big animals\’ territory, the big animals get mad.

    I don\’t believe this enforcement and anger we\’re seeing directed at cyclists is entirely based on safety concerns alone, or even respect for the rule of law. And I don\’t believe cyclists are any more lawless here than anywhere else, or at any other time. There\’s just more of us doing what we\’ve always done.

    Sure, the arrogance of anyone – cyclist or driver – who blows through a stop sign is irritating. And scaring and disrespecting pedestrians just sucks. I just don\’t see those things as warranting whatever uproar it took to get these massive stings – and all the attendant media attention – in motion.

    I don\’t agree with the other poster that we\’re the same as black people in 1935 or whatever. Saying we\’re the \”same,\” is waaaay disrespectful of all that African American people have suffered in this country.

    I do believe, however, that all the self-righteous vitriol directed at cyclists is symptomatic of a powerful majority beginning to feel its traditional province of power eaten away by an upstart minority.

    We\’re on the cusp of something here in Portland. With fossil-based transportation starting to fail us, bike-friendly cities could very well be the way of the future. If that\’s the case, though, it\’s going to mean a lot of pissed-off drivers who think someone\’s trying to take their cars – and all their attendant massive power – away from them.

    It\’ll be interesting to see how this anger is expressed in the form of majority rule. I think in some ways that proposed helmet law is a tip of that particular iceberg.

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  • Donald July 24, 2008 at 1:04 pm


    Have to respectfully disagree. I ride it every day. I catch the red at Emmanuel every day. I hit the green at Vancouver/Russel every time doing an indicated 18mph once I leave the light at the hospital.

    For the record. Doing an indicated 24mph at the top of \’Couver seems to let me hit all greens until Emmanuel. That light just hates me. It\’s my kite eating tree.

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  • Forseti July 24, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Hear, hear, Graham (#66). Well-said.

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  • Graham July 24, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks Forseti 🙂

    Ethan #56

    I posted without reading all the comments first, and realized after the fact I was making many of the same points as you. I even almost made the same critical mass/no pun intended joke. So, um, good points 🙂

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  • Diogo July 24, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Ivan Illich has said it all before.
    From \”Energy and Equity\”:

    “People are born almost equally mobile. Their natural ability speaks for the personal liberty of each one to go wherever he or she wants to go. Citizens of a society founded on the notion of equity will demand the protection of this right against any abridgment. It should be irrelevant to them by what means the exercise of personal mobility is denied, whether by imprisonment, bondage to an estate, revocation of a passport, or enclosure within an environment that encroaches on a person\’s native ability to move in order to make him a consumer of transport. This inalienable right of free movement does not lapse just because most of our contemporaries have strapped themselves into ideological seat belts. Man\’s natural capacity for transit emerges as the only yardstick by which to measure the contribution transport can make to traffic: there is only so much transport that traffic can bear. It remains to be outlined how we can distinguish those forms of transport that cripple the power to move from those that enhance it.

    Transportation can abridge traffic in three ways: by breaking its flow, by creating isolated sets of destinations, and by increasing the loss of time due to traffic.”

    “Since these planners are true believers in problem-solving by industrial design, the real solution for traffic congestion is beyond their grasp. Their belief in the effectiveness of power blinds them to the disproportionately greater effectiveness of abstaining from its use.”

    “This power must be reappropriated and submitted to the sound judgment of the common man. The reconquest of power starts with the recognition that expert knowledge blinds the secretive bureaucrat to the obvious way of dissolving the energy crisis, just as it blinded him to the obvious solution to the war in Vietnam.

    There are two roads from where we are to technological maturity: one is the road of liberation from affluence; the other is the road of liberation from dependence. Both roads have the same destination: the social restructuring of space that offers to each person the constantly renewed experience that the center of the world is where he stands, walks, and lives.”

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  • jeff July 24, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    wrnchbndr, #65.

    Here\’s one – I was almost hit yesterday morning (while driving) by a car running the stop on the W end of Alberta at the freeway overpass. Hardly any bikes, almost all cars, and the full stop is rare. Check it out. There are more. Think a little too, while you\’re at it. Yeah, I\’ll take that bet too – $100 – you in?

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  • Chad July 24, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Okay, I won\’t be able to sleep tonight…who the hell controls the timing of the lights on N Vancouver????

    They are definitely not random, so who is the man (or woman) behind the curtain that sets the timers? And reiterating what Donald said, why does this person want so badly to stop me at Stanton when there is rarely anyone needing to cross said intersection?

    I know a million dollar PDOT study will be needed to properly time these lights for bikes (yes I\’m being overly bike-centric), but one has to wonder if the lights are being purposefully set against bikes (for ticketing purposes?).

    Just a thought…

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  • bahueh July 24, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    The majority of this critical mass of cyclists will be history the second it starts raining in October…

    These summer conversations will be put away for six months…

    The 6-8% prevalence of bike commuters is a summer figure…hardly year round. The police will change their attention as the weather warrants..until then, everyone just needs to start playing by the rules like the adults they know how to be..

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  • Paul Tay July 24, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Fortunately, PPB is still looking the way when a HUGE crowd of village IDIOTS bike NEKKID. 😛

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  • Donald July 24, 2008 at 2:01 pm


    My guess is that the light at the Emmanuel entrance is timed with the light at Williams/Russel to allow for best ingress by first responders if needed (even though they would normally go through the back)

    But it\’s just a guess. I didn\’t study urban planning, but dated a couple of folks from that school back in Eugene. First Class Partiers. By contrast, my J-school peers were pure squares.

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  • Chad July 24, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    To this day, I still don\’t understand…

    If you\’re riding in the street, and are supposed to be obeying the same traffic laws, what do you feel gives you the right to run a stoplight/stop sign and not expect to be busted if a cop sees it happen?

    I don\’t begrudge you the right to ride your bike in the street. I just don\’t understand why people are surprised when they are pulled over and given a ticket for breaking an existing traffic law. Why should you be treated differently?

    And before anyone goes off on a tirade about being smaller or different than a car as the exception, or that cars break the law too… it\’s not about that. I\’m not talking about that, and I\’m not trying to start a fight.

    I am asking why some people on bikes believe there should be an exception to the established law that would allow you to run a light/stop sign where a car is not legally able to do the same thing.

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  • cra*yon July 24, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    To: TF comment #25

    Exactly! well put!

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  • Me2 July 24, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    For all this discussion about stings and perceptions on who follows the law, I came across some interesting figures about red light cameras in PDX.

    This one from KATU a few years ago is fascinating. If you do the math, you come up with 18,143 instances in a year where motorists violated the law by not stopping on red. And this is only at the intersections with cameras, which is a small fraction (well below 1%) of all controlled intersections in PDX.

    My favourite part is how these cameras caused a 140% increase in rear end collisions. It seems as though motorists expect their fellow motorists to break the law. Most likely so they can run the light themselves.

    Rather than call these folks out as the scofflaws they are, KATU\’s response was to question whether these cameras posed a safety hazard.


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  • Forseti July 24, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Once again Bahueh (#73), thanks for your repetitive, self-righteous posts fulfilling your official position as Portland\’s Self-Appointed Bike Nanny.

    I\’m sure your efforts here will ensure full compliance with the traffic code on the part of everyone riding their bike through PDX and are not at all a waste of time.

    And when I do run that stop sign, I\’ll be aiming for you!

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  • Forseti July 24, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Great post, Me2 (#77). High time people started getting some perspective on this issue.

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  • Nick M July 24, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Those of you who argue that a bike can not do as much damage as a car are full of yourselves. At least in this scenario.
    I am a cyclist myself, but here is your argument. A cyclist blowing through a stop sign (lets say at 20 mph) is going to cause less than what most cars do, which is a California stop at 5 mph. I will take the 5 mph car over a 20 mph bicycle any day of the week.
    I have no issue with cars or bikes rolling stop signs if it is safe to do so, but blowing them is dangerous. I see many more cyclists blowing stop signs than I do of cars. For a car it is rare for me to see it, for a bike, it is frequent, where I live.

    Also, cops wasting dollars on cyclists? Give me a break! How many hours do they spend enforcing car laws (HOV lanes, speed traps, etc.) where they don\’t give nice warnings. I have four speeding tickets, and those are all from my car.

    I once blew a stop sign on a descent I did not know was there until I came around a corner at 45 and had no time to stop. Had I been going 25, I would have been able to. I blew through the stop and thankfully there wasn\’t anyone in the intersection, but there was a cop just rolling up. The cop never chased me down, and I never stopped to check. Had I been busted, I would have taken my ticket, as I rightfully deserved it.

    Those of you who blow stop signs, and especially red lights and think it\’s your right, give people like me a bad name. It is not our right to say that law doesn\’t apply to me. The law says it does, so, if you get caught, cough up the ticket $$$ and I will hope it goes towards something good for our police force.

    If you don\’t want to support the police budget, do a track stand at all stop signs and wait for those lights to turn green.

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  • bahueh July 24, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    oh Forseti, you\’re sweet…but again and agian you provide no real solutions to the problem….insulting and threatening me, really? is that all you infantile brain can conjure up?…your posts speak for themselves

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  • bahueh July 24, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Forseti, I hope you do keep running stop signs…the city needs more money and the hospital where I work needs more patients to keep us all busy..

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  • Forseti July 24, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Actually, bahueh, I don\’t run stop signs. I\’m just sick of hearing you whine about it all the damn time – without a clue as to what to do about it. And, like you, I haven\’t proposed a solution because I\’m interested in focusing on actual problems.

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  • bahueh July 24, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    don\’t like it…don\’t read. its a computer, it has an off button.

    I have proposed a solution..increased enforcement. I\”m all for it, 100%.

    people call it a waste of time and $$, I see it a HUGE $$ generator for the city…imagine the 60+ cyclists at Ladd\’s the other day at 280$ each…
    that\’s over $16K for an hours work.

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  • RonC July 24, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    NickM (#80) makes a good point. I don\’t think most people are upset about cyclists who slow down and are cautious at stop signs. I would like to see the PPD apply some common sense to this matter, just like they do with automobile traffic and speeding violations. Even if the law says you need to come to a complete stop, enforcing that law to the Nth degree is just as silly as ticketing every driver on the freeway doing 56 in a 55 mph zone. That\’s what concerns me most with these \’stings\’. Can you imagine the outrage from the automotive community if there were speeding stings like this on I-84 or I-5?

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  • Jessy July 24, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Chad, Oliver & maxadders –

    Regarding the timing of the lights on Vancouver… I\’ve got an answer!

    A cat2 bike racer friend of mine & I were discussing that exact thing on Sunday. He said you have to BOOK IT to get through on time.

    On Tuesday morning we rode together for the 1-mile stretch from Alberta to Stanton. We were doing about 28mph on the declines, 25mph on the flat… And we sailed through the light at Stanton on a yellow.

    So, you have to do +25mph to make that light. Less to make the light at Fremont, but you really have to make a concerted effort to actually catch the light at Stanton before it goes red.

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  • Andy July 24, 2008 at 3:32 pm


    18,143 red light runners a year at one intersection. Ok.

    Let\’s assume all of those runners were workday commuters. (260 days/yr)

    That\’s 70 runners a work day.

    vs 50 to 60 bikes in an *hour* at one stop sign. And I\’m guessing that way more cars moved through that intersection with the red light camera than did bikes through either Ladd\’s Addition or Flint and Broadway.

    Who\’s following the law?

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  • KWW July 24, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    This is interesting, when I lived in Philly, I was once pulled over by bicycle cops while I was on a motorcycle!

    I think the bicycle community should push the PPB to have a mandatory rotation of officers into the bicycle police. Right now, officer participation in bicycle patrols is voluntary.

    Back in Philly it was not voluntary. Police were forced to bike patrol and the police were better for it (barely!)

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  • steve July 24, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Again Bahueh I ask, how the hell do you know who \”summer riders\” are?

    You sound like the prick who yelled at my wife a few weeks back, \’WHERE WERE YOU IN JANUARY?\”

    If you were the prick in question, or if you know him, her answer is that she was riding her bike. Like she has every day we\’ve lived here for over ten years. You sir, are a childish, judgmental tool.

    Big deal, you ride your bike in the winter. Yay. I know a five year old who can say the same thing. 2 gold stars for you!

    What a martyr!

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  • chad July 24, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    I\’m on a fixed gear so my knees reach terminal velocity at 25mph.

    Apparently whoever is behind the light timing \”curtain\” likes cat2 racers but hates fixies.

    PDOT\’s obvious bias will not be tolerated.

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  • steve July 24, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Perhaps you should just buck up and get a \’real\’ bike? ; )

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  • Forseti July 24, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    \”I have proposed a solution … increased enforcement.\”

    Ooooh, great idea! It works so well!

    Do me a favor and go back to Ladd\’s, or any of the other places where these stings are going on, next week. And then tell me how many people are complying with the law.

    You\’d have to be a complete idiot to think that this tactic enhances compliance in anywhere other than the immediate vicinity it takes place and for any longer than a few days.

    They\’ve been doing them for at least a year now, and it hasn\’t worked yet.

    I\’ll bet you $100 that you cannot demonstrate any increased compliance over the long-term from any sting in Portland.

    And if you just want to put 200 more cops on the streets to enhance enforcement, then I\’ve got more bad news for you – It aint gonna happen. These are the resources we have – and they\’re being wasted.

    We spend public money, don\’t get the sought-after result, and discourage people from biking all at once. And that\’s really the worst outcome possible, isn\’t it?

    Regardless, I\’m not going anywhere and I\’m sick of your whining.

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  • Robert Dobbs July 24, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Perhaps you should just buck up and get a \’real\’ bike? ; )


    Keep them track bikes on the track, kiddies!

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  • Donald July 24, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    @ Jessy

    What time do you book down Vancouver? I could use a Cat2 draft.

    On second thought, when do you make the return trip? I\’m never in that much of a hurry to get TO work. But I know there\’s a cold soda in it for me as soon as I get home.

    (and while I\’m not on a fixie, my 80 Raleigh Comp GS still has my Junior rollout setup, so I hit terminal right after I crawl past Chad)

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  • Zaphod July 24, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    My fixed gear commuter bike is steel.
    I hear that steel is real.
    I\’m now hearing that fixies are not real bikes.

    I\’m so conflicted and confused. Is my bike real or a figment of my imagination? My head hurts.

    I\’ll make a special trip to see if I can sprint that set of lights. I\’ll crater no doubt but it\’ll be good fun.

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  • Jessy July 24, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Donald –


    The funny thing is, I\’m NOT a racer. I\’m just a commuter. The racer was telling me on Sunday how surprised he would be if I could make that light, since he misses it most days.

    And I actually made it Monday morning by myself. But it was serendipity that I bumped into him on Tuesday morning and that I could repeat the experience. And true to his word, he WAS impressed!

    I generally leave my house on Ainsworth around 7:25am, though. 🙂

    Also, on my mountain bike, I can never even catch the stupid Fremont light. So it\’s a real pleasure to make the Stanton light while on the road bike. Guess it really does make a difference, huh?

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  • mydearwormwood July 24, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Aside from the technical issues of who\’s breaking what laws and how often, drivers watch cyclists, so there\’s a big PR issue involved in all this.

    How about if we had some big movement in which we all obeyed every traffic law to the T. Then any driver still complaining is left with only his/her prejudice.

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  • bahueh July 24, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Forseti you continue to a social turd.
    ramp up fines to 1000$, make it widely known through the media, make it daily for an extended period of time, then see what happens…these occasional stings are ridiculous and do nothing to solve the problem. so tell me, oh sage, what do you propose to stop cyclist from running stop signs? or are you just in support of those special rights that fit your personal agenda?

    its a proposed solution…better than anything you\’ve been cryin\’ about.

    I\’m going to now keep \”whining\” just to piss you off…seems about as infantile approach as to the one you\’ve taken..

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  • Graham July 24, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    In post #80, Nick M uses the terms \”rolling\” vs. \”blowing\” stop signs, and this has me thinking it might be worth trying to define those terms.

    Just throwing these out there:

    Blowing a stop = going through the stop sign (or traffic light) at full speed, without slowing down, and perhaps without even checking for cross-traffic.

    This seems super unsafe to me, and it can be perceived as not only a disregard for the law, but also as a disregard for the rights and safety of others.

    Rolling a stop = slowing before a stop sign, enough to safely check for cross traffic, while also preserving sufficient momentum to maintain efficiency.

    Personally, I roll stops, but when I do, I make sure to yield to pedestrians, and to any cars that have the right of way.

    I\’d say people willing to blow through stop signs are just as willing to blow through stop lights. However, I feel like people who safely roll through stop signs are unlikely to roll through stop *lights *- unless it\’s right on red.

    With those definitions in mind:

    Blowing a stop sign could be said to violate both the technical letter of the law (complete stop), and the spirit of the law (protecting the safety, well-being, and rights of others).

    Rolling a stop sign violates the technical letter of the law, but could be said to be in compliance with the spirit of the law: it\’s totally possible to roll a stop while watching out for others, and for one\’s own safety.

    Ticketing someone who *blows* a stop is perfectly justified, IMO.

    Ticketing someone who safely *rolls* a stop sign – while justifiable on a technical level – doesn\’t serve the spirit of the law.

    It does, however, serve to piss off, discourage, and make feel targeted people who are engaging in a safe, healthy, beneficial activity.

    I think RonC said it well in #86:

    \”Even if the law says you need to come to a complete stop, enforcing that law to the Nth degree is just as silly as ticketing every driver on the freeway doing 56 in a 55 mph zone. That\’s what concerns me most with these \’stings\’. Can you imagine the outrage from the automotive community if there were speeding stings like this on I-84 or I-5?\”

    Anyway, I\’m mainly trying to sort this out because I think there\’s a perception that cyclists are complaining about being targeted for *blowing* stops. I really don\’t think that\’s the case. Personally, if I blew through a stop sign and got caught, I\’d take the ticket without complaint.

    However, if I was to fined for doing a safe roll-through, I\’d feel like that was a misapplication of law enforcement, and an exploitation of a legal technicality. Furthermore, within the context of one of these stings, that would make me feel like the cops were shaking me down as a sort of fund-raising exercise, while also trying to play well to an alarmist media.

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  • Paul Cone July 24, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    All the signals on N Vancouver Ave are on fixed time except for the ones at Rosa Parks Way, Columbia Blvd, Broadway, and Weidler St. Emergency vehicles override and get a green by using the Opticon system, which is a sensor on the signal that is triggered by a strobe light on the vehicle.

    If you want to report a signal outage or you think the timing is way off on a signal you can call 823-1700.

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  • Oliver July 24, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    @ Chad

    Believe it or not, pdot is actively managing the situation.

    @ Jessy, Thanks, looks like I\’ll have to try harder next time. Though it\’ll take a fairly strong showing to convince me that the proximity to a hospital and a freeway on-ramp doesn\’t completely ruin the flow-through that area.

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  • Donald July 24, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Back @ Jessy

    That\’s funny. I ride my MTB at least once a week because, slow it may be, it\’s just way more fun than my elder steelie. My 8 pounds a piece Hookworms don\’t help. And my black and orange3M Timbuck wouldn\’t make it out of house otherwise. Stoopid yellow Ortliebs get all the fun.

    I recently downloaded an English dubbed version of Sunday In Hell. Googlie it. And find it. Watched it last night and the wife laughed when she spotted me on my roadie heading out this morning. \”You know you\’re not Eddie, right?\” she asked.

    Yeah, I said. I got half the thighs and a quarter the sideburns.

    @ Paul

    Thanks for the number. Just checked and eBay is out of Opticon trigger devices. Any hints on where I can pick one up with the optional handlebar mount rig? (I know that\’s not funny in some circles…)

    (and to stay WAY off topic, anyone else get a slew of Out Of Office replys from Mssr. Maus today, despite not having sent him any email?)

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  • Andy July 24, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Graham @ #100:

    I agree with the spirit of safely rolling a stop. However, I have to imagine that if one is unable to recognize a flotilla of motor cops nearby, that perhaps they were rolling a bit faster/less safely than they believe.

    Now, if we want to talk about an unenforced group – how about the jaywalkers? 😉 No, not the people who cross when there\’s no car on the whole block. The ones who start after cross traffic gets their green – blockading cars, bikes, everyone.

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  • steve July 24, 2008 at 7:35 pm


    That is the most sensible post I have read here in a long time. You should lengthen it, and submit it to Jonathan for an article.


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  • Stephen July 24, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    @Graham #100

    Couldn\’t have said it any better myself.

    Exactly why I wrote my state rep and senator this morning to push them to get an Idaho style law enacted in Oregon. I\’ve already heard back from Rep. Read and his issues with such a law would be that he thinks it would \”be more difficult to as closely ensure safety
    if cyclists where held to a looser standard, and would worry how that
    might affect the current tensions between some drivers and cyclists if
    drivers\’ considered the changes special treatment.\”

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  • andrew July 24, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Speaking of billshut enforcement how about all those holiday weekend crackdowns on drivers! So unfair being a cyclist and having what–10 enforcements a year? I ride a fixed gear and I stop at stop signs. I used to ride like a jackass but between the enforcement and all the new riders that have appreared in the last year or two it\’s just seeming stupider and stupider to ride like I\’m above the law. I\’d you want the Idaho stop law start donating to or volunteering with the BTA because bitching about it here isn\’t going to make it happen.

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  • phycholist July 24, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Ride how you want to ride.. it is your life ,your money, and YOUR OWN DECISION!

    I don\’t know of too many bikes who have killed motorists. In fact I only know of one in the history of cycling.

    Bring on the fines. Use the money to build more bike lanes. If gas keeps on going up, we will need passing lanes!

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  • Forseti July 24, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Yes, Graham, well-said once again (#100). The thing is that the blowing v. rolling distinction makes all the difference between being safe and unsafe – which is the whole point of each and every single provision of the traffic code. However, it is totally irrelevant for the law – both are illegal!

    And we, as a society, have given the PPB the discretion to give fines to both! And they have used and ABUSED that authority.

    This enforcement action focuses on something that has little or no danger to others relative to other behavior on the pubic roadway.

    43,000 deaths caused by motor vehicles each year vs. 1 or 2 caused by bikes – I think reasonable people can and WILL decide where our public resources are best used.

    You are literally more likely to be struck by lightening or drown in your bathtub than to be hurt by a bicyclist. When will this self-righteous insanity stop?

    This from a City that supposedly wants to encourage more people to ride bikes. What a joke!

    Get some perspective and find a real public safety issue, please! There are definitely plenty of them!

    Who will take my bet? I will give $100 to anyone who can demonstrate that these stings actually accomplish the stated purpose of enhancing compliance with the law.

    I repeat: CAN ANYONE SHOW THAT THESE STINGS ACTUALLY CAUSE MORE PEOPLE TO OBEY THE LAW (except during the week they occur)? $100 if you can.

    You cannot. This epitomizes BAD POLICY.

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  • N.I.K. July 24, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    Ride how you want to ride.. it is your life ,your money, and YOUR OWN DECISION!

    Except when it\’s other people\’s lives too. When you collide with another vulnerable road user, or when you make a car screech on the breaks and cause them to get hit, and, say, in turn pushed up on the curb over innocents? That\’s your decision to be irresponsible and put other lives at risk.

    And hey, that\’s…*gasp* WHENEVER YOU RUN A STOP. Stop being childish and start assuming some responsibility. You do not live in isolation and your poor choices do risk the lives of others.

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  • 21 speed July 24, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    It would be a good idea to heed the warnings of the police to obey the laws. In the past few years we\’ve heard of the cops in this area killing:

    1) A man with messy hair that looked scared and may have pee\’d in the bushes – he was tackled and died of excessive force.
    2) The nude unarmed guy on top of a police car verbally threatening the cops – I think he was shot to death.
    3) The young (18?) year old kid with a 3 inch pocket knife out in the middle of his yard – he was shot to death while his family watched and some of the bullets went into the house where they were.

    Those are just 3 that come to mind off the top of my head. Can you remember more?

    Just the other day I read that Rosie wants to fire a woman who tried to keep a medical procedure secret. Can you imagine a police officer wanting to have some medical privacy – what a GD leach on society – the gall! The punishment Sizer deserves for that cannot be published for fear of damaging young impressionable minds that read this blog.

    Yup, the fuzz need the fuzz knocked out of them. But in the mean time, best not get in their sights – they are immune from obeying the laws.

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  • N.I.K. July 24, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    I repeat: CAN ANYONE SHOW THAT THESE STINGS ACTUALLY CAUSE MORE PEOPLE TO OBEY THE LAW (except during the week they occur)? $100 if you can.

    Of course not. You\’d need a significant decrease in the number of people stopped at these things to even approach suggesting coincidental positive effect. While I agree whole-heartedly that people should obey traffic laws until the point at which they are changed -primarily because predictable behavior is essential for safe road usage- it\’s very clear that these enforcement actions *at best* get people in a given locale to be a hair more cautious for police presence.

    Warnings? Tickets? Good luck. These things do little more than reinforce the idea that laws regarding stop signs are petty annoyances and avoid dealing with the real consequences of careless actions – hurting yourself or somebody else because you\’re in a hurry. Convenience is a piss-poor excuse to risk injuring someone else.

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  • Greg July 24, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    I have been riding a bike for a long time and ride nearly every day. I have generally obeyed the spirit of the law, if not the letter. I rode through Ladd\’s on Tuesday morning when they were stopping cyclists. I had mixed emotions – until tonight when I was driving my car and came to an intersection where a cyclist blew through a stop sign right in front of me. While I wasn\’t really close to hitting him, it scared me. Please remember – your actions have consequences, some of which are not obvious. Don\’t ride like you are the only one on the road. Just obey the damn laws.

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  • Toby July 25, 2008 at 8:32 am

    I wonder if the lights are timed different in the pm because I almost always get green. In fact, I usually coast half the downhill to not get the red. I\’m probably 50/50 at the Stanton light. Actually, 50/50 is pretty much for the length of Vancouver. Russell is probably the only light I consistently get a green.

    Williams, on the other hand, is almost guarantied to be nothing but reds.

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  • Scott July 25, 2008 at 8:37 am

    There is a logical reason that cyclists often don\’t come to a complete stop at Stop Signs. It is usually more dangerous than maintaining some speed.
    As anyone who rides a bike knows, it is more difficult to keep your balance when moving at very slow speeds, speeds that are usually reached only when slowing to a complete stop and accelerating from a complete stop. This is due to the fact that it is the gyroscopic action of rotating tires that is most responsible for allowing a bicyclist to balance a bike. Very slow speeds, below about 5 mph, reduce that gyroscopic action.
    A cyclist then has to pay more attention to keeping her balance and less to traffic around her. Also, maneuverability is reduced, making it more difficult to move a bike away from other traffic that might be making a mistake. In addition, full stops at every intersection, even though there is no cross traffic at least 50% of the time, creates more conflicts with automobiles following the cyclist.
    I\’m not advocating that cyclists be allowed to ignore the law. Rather, the law should be changed so that cyclists are allowed to treat most Stop Signs as Yield Signs, requiring cyclists to slow to a safe speed and yield the right-of-way. Cyclists shouldn\’t be allowed to blow through Stop Signs at any speed but they should be allowed to proceed in the manner that is safest for them and other traffic. There are probably intersections at which cyclists should always come to a stop but that can be managed with special signs for cyclists (yield or stop depending on the intersection) or simply adding a phrase such as “Bicycles too” to some existing Stop Signs.
    To those who believe that cyclists shouldn\’t be exempted from a law that autos have to obey, there are distinct differences in the safety considerations. Cyclists can stop and maneuver much more quickly than motorized vehicles so they can react quickly at an intersection if cross-traffic makes it necessary. Autos don\’t have that luxury. Also, if a cyclist does cause a collision, the risk of serious injury is far less than that caused by an auto.
    This proposal has benefits for autos as well. It takes longer to come to and accelerate from a full stop. Autos following a cyclist wait less time when cyclists don\’t come to a full stop at every Stop Sign even when no there is no conflicting traffic.
    I\’m not in favor of cyclists generally being exempted from traffic laws. Lately, I have been put in danger by other cyclists as often as by motorists. I think we need better enforcement of traffic laws for both autos and cyclists. Basic courtesy and adherence to the rules about rights-of-way would do a world of good. But we also need laws that make logical, safe sense to cyclists if we want them to obey the law.

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  • Jessy July 25, 2008 at 8:49 am

    I\’m sure the lights are timed differently throughout the day. But in the morning, to make the Alberta-Skidmore-Shaver-Fremont-Stanton stretch all green in a row, you\’ve got to book it above 25mph.

    The afternoon ride up Williams does bring more red lights. But the roads are narrower, which makes it harder to pass, so there are moments when you have to slow down and be patient. Also, it\’s slightly uphill where Vancouver is slightly downhill. And there always seems to be a nasty headwind in the pm…

    Timed myself on the Alberta light this morning so I could go through it with a bit of speed and actually managed to make the Stanton light on a green this time (instead of a yellow). w00t!

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  • zilfondel July 25, 2008 at 8:57 am

    \”last of the three…\”

    Yeah, right! I just got a $242 ticket at Madison and 7th this morning. Beware, everyone. They aren\’t holding back punches anymore…

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  • rafa July 25, 2008 at 9:23 am

    What\’s the rush? Just leave earlier.

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  • rafa July 25, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Ouch. Forseti (#109), I think you just lost your bet. That\’s $100 off your ticket, zilfondel!

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  • RonC July 25, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Zilfondel (#116), isn\’t 7th and Madison a stoplight, not a stop sign?

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  • Drewid July 25, 2008 at 9:57 am

    I have never in my 40 years of bicycling have seen a bicyclist stop at an stop sign where there is no cross traffic.
    Motorists (me too) never come to a complete stop at a stop sign either, if there is no cross traffic, unless they are lost and looking at a map. Drivers roll thru them, at bicycling speed. It kind of looks like they have stopped, because they have decreased their speed significantly.
    When there is cross traffic, I always stop; I wait my turn. All the drivers who try to wave me thru make me think of the bike riders who blow stop signs without even slowing down; those bikers all deserve tickets.
    I am one of the 99.99999% who do not stop a stop signs that have no cross traffic. And you are too. Admit it!

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  • KruckyBoy July 25, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Hey Forseti- These stings have changed my behavior. I can\’t afford a ticket. I now stop at all stop signs.

    Do I get the $100 or are you donating it to a charity?

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  • Forseti July 25, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Ha, ha, Krucky Boy – I\’m sure you will be wary for a while, like the people who got tickets! And I\’m glad you\’re stopping. But I was referring to the stings having an overall impact on peoples\’ behavior.

    Like NIK said in #122, is there actually a statistically significant improvement in compliance with the stop sign rule in Portland as a result of these stings? So, if you go back to the site of the last sting in a month, will you see more people stopping?

    I was just riding through SE 4th and Caruthers this morning – which is a place where they\’ve done stings in the past – and it\’s pretty much the same as always there.

    And I think that if there are no more stings in Ladds for the rest of the summer, by the end of August (if not sooner), you will see what you\’ve always seen.

    I could be wrong. If you can show me objectively that more people are stopping than before – not just one or two who got tickets or who are afraid of getting a ticket – then I\’ll gladly pay. I\’d prefer to give the money to a charity, but it is a bet.

    And if I\’m right, then you (or whomever) has to admit that this policy doesn\’t work and is a waste of public money.

    Anyone have any idea what the compliance rate was at these intersections before the most recent stings?

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  • zilfondel July 25, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Yeah, it was a traffic light. I think I am going to take up the officer\’s offer of the safety class, which only costs $30 instead of $242

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  • zilfondel July 25, 2008 at 11:18 am

    ^ for the record, it was just about to turn green, and I was making a right-hand turn. So… right turn on red, sans the stopping part.

    my bad, obviously. And its not like I habitually run stop signs/lights

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  • Chad July 25, 2008 at 11:37 am


    There are two or three people in this blog alone who have changed their behavior because of these stings. If you sift through past bikeportland blogs you will find more than a few people who also admit to changing their behavior.

    That even one person has changed their attitude means that \”more people obey the law\”.

    I\’d give the $100 to the BTA.

    It\’s hard for us who have been cycling for awhile to realize how little some newbies know about the laws and how they apply to bicyclists.

    I have talked to more than one new rider who innocently thinks that stop signs do not apply to them. Short of putting up a billboard along every bike route, these \”educational stings\” and tickets seem like the only way to communicate the importance of following the law to new cyclists who choose not to inform themselves through other means.

    If a more experienced cyclist happens to get snagged, you cannot tell me that that person will not, at least partially, change their behavior.

    I would like to hear from a rider who has gotten a ticket, yet still rides exactly the same way they did before the ticket.

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  • N.I.K. July 25, 2008 at 11:46 am

    There is a logical reason that cyclists often don\’t come to a complete stop at Stop Signs. It is usually more dangerous than maintaining some speed.
    As anyone who rides a bike knows, it is more difficult to keep your balance when moving at very slow speeds, speeds that are usually reached only when slowing to a complete stop and accelerating from a complete stop.

    If you\’re wobbling all over the place from a start-from-stop, you\’re either starting up in the middle of a hillside (climb the hill and then ride), in too high of a gear (shift down before stopping), trying to get started by pushing off the ground or pulling a run-and-side-saddle mount (do a lever-style start: rotate your dominant foot\’s pedal up, then step down on it to get the bike moving while simultaneously using it as a step to lift yourself into the saddle), injured (you probably shouldn\’t be riding), or drunk (you probably shouldn\’t be riding). Blasting through a stop without slowing down to 5mph or below is *very* risky unless you\’ve got an unobstructed view of cross traffic from both directions for at least a good hundred feet in each direction well *before* you\’re on top of the intersection. This works on flat country roads in the midwest, but it\’s an absolute rarity in urban environments. Portland itself is full of intersections where you can barely see in either direction without nosing out and being prepared to jump backwards when someone else is about to mow you down.

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  • 3-speeder July 25, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    To #115: Scott – I\’ve been wanting to compose something this clear for quite a while. Thank you for this excellent explanation of why going walking speed through a stop sign is a much safer situation than coming to a complete stop. At walking speed, one is able to determine if a complete stop is indeed necessary for safety (both for oneself and for others), and if it is necessary then a safe complete stop can and should be done. Otherwise the bicycle can continue to proceed through the intersection. The issue is: how to get this message out to a broader audience.

    To #127: N.I.K. – Assuming you are trying to be constructive, then your range of experiences seems limited. Not all riders are super strong racers – most of us are merely normal. My commuter 3-speed has a moderate low gear – low enough that with great effort I can ride up Rocky Butte, but not low enough that getting started from a complete stop on a moderate uphill incline with some weight in my basket doesn\’t cause a bit of bicycle instability for the first 10 ft or so. If I have to come to a complete stop in such situations, I do so and then take extra care starting up due to the increased danger to myself of cars behind me and cross traffic approaching that might be going faster than I realize. But if at 3-5 MPH I can see that there is no car/bike/ped traffic that I pose a threat to nor that poses a threat to me, then I can more safely continue through the intersection with merely the typical amount of care used when riding in traffic.

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  • N.I.K. July 25, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Assuming you are trying to be constructive,

    Yes, that is indeed the point.

    then your range of experiences seems limited. Not all riders are super strong racers – most of us are merely normal.

    Amusing implication, but no, I\’m not a racer by any stretch. Just a commuter who also does a bit of touring once in a great while. As for limited experiences…

    My commuter 3-speed has a moderate low gear – low enough that with great effort I can ride up Rocky Butte, but not low enough that getting started from a complete stop on a moderate uphill incline with some weight in my basket doesn\’t cause a bit of bicycle instability for the first 10 ft or so.

    Remember the part where I referenced starting from a stop when heading up a hillside? I mentioned that because it\’s an obvious exception, and quite possibly one of the few instances in which a start *is* likely to be wobbly, regardless of all other self-imposed controls on the situation. It\’s also why I mentioned climbing the hill where possible if it\’s too tough to get going and accelerate to a safe traveling speed in short order – it\’s not just for mountain bikers, it\’s for anyone who\’s winded, tired, out of shape, or facing just too damned steep of a hill. I\’ve done it under all those conditions, so don\’t mistake this as elitism -it\’s strictly practical.

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  • Scott July 25, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    N.I.K. (#127) – The point isn\’t that less than 5 mph is can\’t be handled safely. It\’s that stability and maneuverability are reduced at that speed and, at an intersection with potential conflicts with potentially unsafe autos coming from many directions (from behind at too high a speed, from ahead crossing the mid-line or from either side making an unsafe turn, as a few examples) and other cyclists, skateboarders, motorcycles, pedestrians and the like, all of whom could make a mistake, the ability of a cyclist to ride defensively and avoid a collision is reduced at very low speeds. Maintaining a walking speed (which is about 5 mph) is as safe for a cyclist as it is for pedestrian who isn\’t required to stop at a Stop Sign. Cyclists can ride safely for others and more safely for themselves if they are allowed to treat most Stop Signs as Yield Signs.

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  • N.I.K. July 25, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Scott: point taken on reduced maneuverability.

    Stops-as-yields is definitely something I favor (though not until the point at which it\’s legal and thus default behavior expected by all road users), but even then the question then becomes who treats it as a real yield and who just runs it? Additionally, there are plenty of stop signs which are present at intersections where there are obstructions preventing this from being safe practice (especially on roads commonly thought of as bike route) even when a true yield is utilized.

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  • bobcycle July 25, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Police don\’t ticket auto people doing 60mph in a 55 mph zone because it doesn\’t pose a threat to anyone. Neither should they ticket bicyclists who slow but do not stop at residential area stop signs. Yes they ticket people who do 70 mph in a 55 mph zone and yes they should ticket bikers who blow through stop signs at busy high traffic intersections. Let\’s quit talking and lobby BTA and state local leaders to adopt the Idaho law (bicyclists treat stops as yield signs) Please E-mail BTA immediately if you support this proposal. We need change now!

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  • Zaphod July 25, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Would anyone here be sad or otherwise take issue if the Idaho law was adopted on Oregon?

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  • Forseti July 25, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    \”That even one person has changed their attitude means that \’more people obey the law\’.\”

    No Chad, it doesn\’t. The law does not regulate peoples\’ attitude, but their behavior.

    But even if your handful of examples now stop at every stop sign they ever come upon for the remainder of their lives – and we know that\’s not true – what you were trying to say would only be possible if more people were not beginning to ride bikes. And we know that\’s not true either.

    Even assuming all that were correct, at this rate the PPB\’s policy will take approximately how long to create a high level of compliance with the stop sign rule? At what expense?

    Again, go back to the sting sites in a week, month, six months and you tell me whether you see a difference at those intersections. You won\’t.

    Any way you slice it Chad, it\’s a stupid policy.

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  • RonC July 25, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    I\’ve got a question, and I\’m still not 100% sold on the Idaho law as written. In the Idaho law, part of it allows cyclists to treat stoplights as stop signs (requiring a complete stop before cautiously proceeding). If a car is stopped at a red light, waiting until traffic clears to make a right-hand turn on red, and a bike later pulls up beside the car on the right wanting to go straight, who has the right of way to go first once the traffic clears? The right turning car or the bike going straight (after a full stop)? Is this a right-hook scenario waiting to happen, or must the bike (in this case) yield to the right turning car? I\’m guessing automobile drivers would be less than keen about letting a bike go straight through a red light, especially if it impeded their ability to turn right on red. Would implementing this part of the Idaho law increase the likelihood of the dreaded right-hook? Any thoughts?

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  • SkidMark July 25, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Well, if you approach an intersection on a red light and there is a car next to you with it\’s turn signal on, the intersection is not exactly clear is it?

    I think the idea behind the law is so a cyclist doesn\’t have to wait at a \”ghost town\” intersection for the light to cycle through, or so you don\’t have to find that \”magic spot\” in the street that will make sensor controlled lights change for you.

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  • Diogo July 25, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    I\’m reading this article in CNN with tips on how to avoid a speeding ticket while speeding faster than the limit:

    And makes me think: what a huge contrast there is between the attitude towards traffic laws represented in this article and the current debate here in Portland about bikes. How is that possible that these two things happen in the same nation! Is not that CNN is a rogue media outlet or anything. So is it Portland just more full of zealotry? Or perhaps hipocrisy? Or is it just pure bias against bikes?

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  • RonC July 25, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    SkidMark (#136), I totally understand what you are saying, but the car is not allowed to turn right on red unless the intersection is clear either. Does that mean that neither can go until the light changes, or would you favor legal clarification giving the car turning right on red the right-of-way.

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  • SkidMark July 25, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    I would prefer that both people were aware of each other\’s presence and that one of them was polite enough to motion the other to proceed.

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  • RonC July 25, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    I\’d like to clarify that I think a good argument could be made that right turn on red should be allowed if a bike is present on the right, even without the Idaho law.

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  • RonC July 25, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Sorry I meant to type: \”I\’d like to clarify that I think a good argument could be made that right turn on red should NOT be allowed if a bike is present on the right, even without the Idaho law.\” Got to watch my editing!

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  • chad July 25, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Forseti, I\’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that compliance citywide is better now than when I started riding full time three years ago.

    Whether that be from enforcement, education, or peer pressure I really can\’t say…but I do think more and more bicyclists are trying to do right.

    It seems that almost everyone that runs this city is trying to do the right thing to make bikes a big part of life in Portland. Sure, some ideas are better than others, but to call one of those ideas \”stupid\” simply because you don\’t like it shows a absolute misunderstanding of the effort that some people are putting forth to help everyone get around on our streets safely.

    Run for city council or try to educate yourself and get a job with PDOT if you have better ideas to run the traffic of this city, but don\’t call something stupid and rail on everyone who disagrees with you because you think your right and everybody else is wrong.

    And, really…if you are complying with the law, what is stupid about what the PPB is doing? Sure, some money was \”lost\” this week giving out warnings, but I assume that will be be made back (and then some) next week when tickets are written.

    If this is unacceptable, move to Idaho, or change the law here.

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  • El Biciclero July 25, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    #135 brings up an interesting point of confusion for a lot of people: Who has the right of way if a bike is passing a car on the right a) with a bike lane painted, b) without a bike lane painted?

    My understanding is that if a bike lane is painted, any cyclist in the bike lane always has the right-of-way over any auto traffic traveling parallel to the bike lane. Right-of-way notwithstanding, I always try to position myself behind or in front of autos when crossing intersections to avoid being right-hooked.

    My wife asked me just the other day, \”If I turn right as a cyclist tries to pass me on the right–with no bike lane–and I hit him, is it my fault?\” Now, my wife is very vigilant, having a husband who is out on his bike all the time, and would not be likely to have this happen, but it is still interesting and potentially confusing.

    My attitude about passing on the right if no bike lane is present (which has only been legal for a couple of years) is that right-passing cyclists must exercise extreme caution and don\’t necessarily have any right-of-way in a right-hook scenario. This does not mean that motorists are excused from looking, but I wonder how blame would be assigned in such a situation.

    Anyone know the definitive rules on this

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  • El Biciclero July 25, 2008 at 4:43 pm


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  • N.I.K. July 25, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    And, really…if you are complying with the law, what is stupid about what the PPB is doing?

    The way the message is being sent. \”Look out everyone – be sure to take care, the PPB has a buttload of cops stationed at a particular intersection today, so be on your best behavior\” is one of the most common takeaways. It\’s the same thing with speed traps for automobiles – sporadically, there will be concentrated pockets of cops out to bust you, and the thing is that you should exercise caution so as not to be ticketed, rather than exercising sensible behavior and obeying traffic laws for the sake of ensuring the flow of traffic is predictable and hopefully avoid tragedy.

    To reiterate short-form: \”be good when you see us as a great big pack, or we\’ll fine you\”, vs. \”be safe.\”

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  • Scott July 25, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I thought of another point on safety as I road home tonight (treating 7 Stop Signs in a 1 1/2 mile stretch as yields). When I slow to a yield speed (which seems to be about 5 mph depending on visibility distance) and carefully check cross-traffic before proceeding, I can often cross intersections safely. But, if I took the extra time necessary to come to a complete stop, cross-traffic would reach a point where I couldn\’t cross safely, particularly considering that I also have to take extra time in the intersection in order to accelerate from a complete stop. This means I have to interact with conflicting traffic that is often doing something wrong to increase my danger (as well as their own). For instance, a car may try to give up the ROW out of politeness but other crossing traffic isn\’t expecting it so I can\’t go and everything is slowed even further. Or now a car that was safely behind me is rapidly approaching from the rear. Or traffic approaches from the opposite direction intending to turn left. If we don\’t agree who has the ROW, I have another danger.
    The yield law gives cyclists and police officers a certain amount of discretion. I\’m still in favor of officers ticketing cyclists for failing to yield the ROW or reckless riding if they abuse the yield but I think it makes more sense than the constant stopping and starting that is necessary to commute most places under the current law.

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  • mark July 25, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    For those that have not seen… Taking the lead from the Oregonian last week, The Portland Business Journal conducted an online [not so thoughtfully worded or balanced] survey of its readers to determine \”What would ease the tension between bikes and cars?\” Their findings, which were released today, are \”Bicyclists need to obey traffic laws.\”

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  • bahueh July 25, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Scott…these types of justifications are only circumstantial to you at the exact point in time…traffic does not always behave in the manner you describe at every given moment (obviously)so changing laws based on one persons observations at one given time is not sound reasoning. I do understand that a LOT of drivers in PDX are extremely curteous and willing to give up ROW (almost to a fault) which creates added confusion for other drivers…while it is appreciated, I almost rather they just follow traffic devices as designed (I\’ve had drivers actually get pissed at me for standing at a stop sign waiting for them to proceed as they have no sign, but willingly stopped anyway…I\’ll never understand that one).

    What you describe is reasonable..the problem comes with those individuals who decide that 20-25mph through stop signs is perfectly fine…but sadly physics and Darwin will win out in the end.

    Forseti, drop the condescending writing style..its annoying. You\’re not always right…sorry to break it to ya. Have a good weekend.

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  • T July 25, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Thank you Todd #29. Very nicely put. Grow up people.

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  • Crash N. Burns July 25, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Last night around 8:45 pm on SE Powell, just east of the Ross Island bridge, Portland Police had four different cars pulled over in an 8 block stretch – sucks for them.

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  • chad July 25, 2008 at 9:37 pm


    I agree, it is a very strange way to send a message…but at the end of the day a message, albeit poorly communicated, was sent.

    In my mind I see this sting as part of a greater whole. For instance, a speed trap does not seem to have any long term impact if you are to view it as a singular event, but if you take all the speed traps over the years together you cannot argue that it does not have an effect.

    Imagine if there were no speed traps, over time the average speed of freeway drivers would reach autobahn speeds. The police know that a single speed trap will not eliminate speeding altogether, but they do know that the threat of a speed trap being over that next hill keeps \”joe average\” driver in check.

    I feel the same way about these stop sign stings. No, the PPB will never stop everybody from running stop signs, but it does, over time, have an effect on the average roadway user.

    There will always be a-hole drivers who speed, as there will always be a-hole bikers who blow through stop signs. Their minds will never be changed, but I think the average biker or driver who happens to get a ticket/warning will change their behavior towards one that offers the path of less misery for them in the future (i.e. not getting another ticket).

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  • BURR July 25, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    so for all the comments here, no one has ever said that it\’s not the cops, or the stop signs or the so-called \’safety experts\’ at PDOT lurking here who keep you safe on the road on your bike. watch your ass, share the road, and give \’em hell if they fuck with you!

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  • BURR July 25, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Last night around 8:45 pm on SE Powell, just east of the Ross Island bridge, Portland Police had four different cars pulled over in an 8 block stretch – sucks for them.
    it\’s got nothing to do with cyclist safety, though…

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  • BURR July 25, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    so, for all the comments here, no one has ever said that it\’s not the cops, or the stop signs or the so-called \’safety experts\’ at PDOT lurking here who keep you safe on the road on your bike. watch your ass, share the road, and give \’em hell if they mess with you!

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  • Forseti July 25, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    How long have police been using the \”speed trap\” tactic against drivers?

    Certainly for as long as I\’ve been driving, which is over 20 years now.

    Is speeding less prevalent than it was 20 years ago?

    ODOT says excessive speed is the leading cause of highway deaths and injuries in Oregon, implicated in 57% of such outcomes.

    Now the PPB is using the same tactic against cyclists. Is there really any reason to think it will have a different outcome?

    And you are correct Chad: When our streets don\’t get any safer but our government insists on maintaining a failed policy, it\’s our responsibility to work to change it. And I am doing that. You will see a change in the way traffic enforcement works in Portland in the near future, I promise.

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  • Myra July 26, 2008 at 8:04 am

    I love the ratio
    8 motor vehicle operators were stopped
    53 “bicycle operators” were stopped.

    WOW! people who think bike riders are safer then car drivers have their mouth on the bong of stupidity.

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  • Myra July 26, 2008 at 8:04 am

    I love the ratio
    8 motor vehicle operators were stopped
    53 “bicycle operators” were stopped.

    WOW! people who think bike riders are safer then car drivers have their mouth on the bong of stupidity.

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  • Duncan July 26, 2008 at 8:45 am


    It all depends on what you are looking for-

    Why aren\’t the police targeting speeders on the bridges? How about drivers that cut into bike lanes? Every day I bike ride some asshat in a car will drift into my lane, or rush past me to take a right directly in front of me, or passes me unsafely. I write to the PPD, tell them where and when, and nothing happens… wonder why?

    Go look at the bike lane marks on the curves of most roads are worn away by drivers cutting the corners. According to the same laws each one of those drivers is in need of a ticket, yet nothing happens…

    Who the Police pull over is a direct result of what they look for.

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  • Grant July 26, 2008 at 9:21 am

    The more deviations we have from a single set of laws for all road users the more conflict we are going to have on the road.

    Just look at the lack of understanding of the stop rule for bikes. Foot down or not?

    Questions about the legality of passing on the right when bike lanes don\’t exist.

    How do you handle the Idaho laws at a stop light where cars are already stopped and waiting.

    Look at the compliance with the new bike boxes, for all the publicity many people had no idea what they were for.

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  • Driver July 26, 2008 at 10:25 am

    As you see I am a driver and I work around the area by the intersection of Flint and Broadway. I used to commute down Russell and cross Vancover and left turn onto Flint. Every day there would be cyclists blowing through the light at Russell and Vancouver and crossing over to turn left onto Flint. Then zipping down Flint past the grade school and through the crosswalk with kids in it and zipping through the stop sign at Broadway and Flint. Sometimes it was really hard to turn right onto Broadway because of the far reaching turns of cyclists. I quit commuting that way and now go down Broadway but still go past that intersection everyday and see cyclists blowing that stop sign. Maybe those of you who do should consider that there are others who live and work there. The corner of Flint, Broadway and Wheeler is very small there is an apartment building there, a child care center on Flint just before the stop sign and a Cancer treatment Center on Broadway and Wheeler. Those who don\’t stop at the stop sign on Flint actually impede traffic flow by not letting people (i.e. Cars) turn right onto Wheeler. This is a busy intersection, it isn\’t a freeway. Being self centered about loosing momentum is foolish and short sighted.

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  • BURR July 26, 2008 at 11:20 am

    we love you too myra! but can you tell us how it is that you are both a Portland native and born in Europe?

    (sorry that\’s a bit off topic)

    why don\’t you get back to us when motorists obey all the rules are being injured and killed in droves by cyclists.

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  • SkidMark July 26, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Bicycling is pretty much unregulated, and there is very little effort spent educating kids on the correct way to ride a bicycle in the streets. I think a lot of bicyclists don\’t think the laws even apply to them, why else would you blow a stop sign right in front of a cop?

    The answer is rider education, and education is not extorting $242 dollars out of someone. The first \”ticket\” should be a mandatory bicycle rider education class. If the Police and the courts did that, then I would believe they had our safety as their concern, instead of filling their own pockets.

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  • BURR July 26, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    then there are the senior adults who remember things from bicycle education in their childhood like: \’always ride facing traffic\’ and \’dismount and walk across all intersections\’

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  • SkidMark July 26, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    They must be really old because I have seen a bicycle education film from the early 50\’s that tells you to ride with traffic, signal for turns, etc. It\’s called \”Drive Your Bicycle\” and it is on YouTube if you want to watch it.

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  • Graham July 26, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    #156 Myra:

    \”WOW! people who think bike riders are safer then car drivers have their mouth on the bong of stupidity.\”

    Bicycles are intrinsically safer than cars because bikes are something like 1 percent the weight of the average automobile, and throw that weight around using only human power.

    A bike tacks on roughly 30 pounds to the weight of its rider, and can move at something like twice the speed of a person on foot. Therefore, a bike is roughly as dangerous to others as, say, a very large man running at full sprint.

    Bike riders vary in their safety every bit as much as car driver, and I think that\’s well understood. Just read all the comments here by self-described safe cyclists complaining about unsafe cyclists out on the road. Who\’s saying bike *riders* are safer?

    It\’s the bikes themselves that are safer.

    Especially when compared to autos, which can throw an average average 4000 pounds into rapid acceleration with the aid of an average 200 horsepower – all available at to drivers at the twitch of a foot.

    It\’s all that power – in the hands of safe and unsafe drivers alike – that does the killing of the thousands who die on our roads every year.

    Most importantly, the killing power of autos is mostly applied to others on the road. That\’s the REALLY big safety difference between cars and bikes: the danger they post to *others*.

    Cars are particularly lethal to those of us who think it\’s more sensible to travel without having to haul around 4000 pounds of armor everywhere we go.

    I\’d rather the cops balance prevent and punish behavior that is genuinely dangerous to others on the road.

    I got my numbers here, BTW: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/facts/2008_fotw504.html. I was surprised by the average weight of 4000 lbs – I thought it was more like 3000.

    My bong is packed with facts!

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  • cyclist July 26, 2008 at 3:00 pm


    The police do regularly target speeders on the bridges, there\’s a spot at the end of the Hawthorne bridge where they like to hang out (I just saw them there on my ride home this Friday), and the one speeding ticket I\’ve ever gotten in my life was when I got nabbed on the Burnside bridge a couple of years ago.

    I\’m sure most of us here can agree that compliance at stop signs is much higher for cars than for bikes, and the police enforcement actions seem to back that up. Whether or not it\’s fair to hold bicyclists to the same standard as motorists is a discussion worth having, but until the law is changed those running stops should own up to the fact that they\’re breaking the law.

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  • Deborah July 26, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    When we are on our bikes and make the choice to disregard a traffic control we need to remember that we represent more than just ourselves.

    It is a sorry truth, as we endeavor to gain respect as a whole we will be seen as the most renegade among us.

    Signs seen in lower B.C Canada this week along a major highway project “Never walk past an unsafe act.” It resonated with me as I thought of all the rage directed at those pointing out unsafe behavior displayed by cyclists.

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  • SkidMark July 26, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    I don\’t buy this \”one represents all\” philosophy. Do you also think that import street racers represent all motorists?

    The problem is that the actions of the few are being attributed to all. That is the attitude that needs changing. We are all indivuduals responsible for our own action, we are not ants on a hill.

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  • Andy July 26, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Is a bike safer than a car? Sure, if you only consider the possibility of being hit by a bike vs being hit by a car. But what of being hit by a car due to its attempting to swerve around a bike that shot out into the intersection?

    You affect traffic, whether you\’re a 4000lb car, a 200lb bike, or a 50lb kid on a skateboard. That impact can far exceed just how much it hurts if you run into somebody.

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  • Blurt July 26, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    I find it interesting that cyclists have a right to use the road but drivers don\’t.

    As a driver you have to have a license issued by the state to use the roads. That license is a privilege that can be revoked by the state for any number of reasons. Get caught enough times for minor violations and you will accumulate enough points to have your privileges removed.

    What happens to a cyclist who repeatedly gets caught violating the law? How do we get them off the road?

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  • steve July 26, 2008 at 5:05 pm


    I think we can start worrying about that when we are able to keep unsafe drivers off the road. A cyclist was killed by an uninsured, unlicensed driver last year. Nothing happened to the driver. She didn\’t see the cyclist and it apparently was not a big deal that her license was suspended.

    Another cyclist was killed recently by a driver with dozens of tickets. Nothing happened to that driver either. Other drivers and passengers are routinely killed by auto drivers with long histories of incompetence.

    Think your priorities may be a bit screwed up? I sure do!

    When cyclists kill over 40,000 people a year, then you may have a point. Until then you are just another idiot.

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  • SkidMark July 26, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    I know getting a DUII on a bike is the same as getting a DUII in a car (not from personal experience). Same fines, same diversion classes, etc. It may even go on your driving record if you have a driver\’s license.

    Of course you could have two DUII\’s and still be driving on a suspended license and still manage to hit and kill a couple of cyclists…

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  • Deborah July 26, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Last night, Friday evening approx. 8:30, southbound I-5 in the Delta Park area there were no less then 8 officers (PPB)pulling drivers over.

    Stings aren\’t just about cyclists, sometimes they\’re about Washington drivers that forget Oregon has slower speed limits. Every car I saw pulled over had a WA plate. ;}

    >Do you also think that import street racers represent all motorists?

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  • Deborah July 26, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    >Do you also think that import street racers represent all motorists?

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  • Deborah July 26, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    – three tries and then I quit.
    no, import street racers do not represent all mororists, they represent bored young Honda owners that need to experience the joy of berry picking or some other form of hot, summer manual labor.

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  • SkidMark July 26, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Why does that almost sound racist to me?

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  • Duncan July 27, 2008 at 12:34 am

    my letter to the PPB:

    Dear Chief Sizer,
    I am a Portland resident for the last decade, and I love this city- I didn\’t expect to when I moved here, but it has grown on me. I am writing about the recent focus on bicycle safety.

    I am both a driver and cyclist, and being on both sides of this issue- and the recent negative behavior on both sides troubles me. I have read of your efforts to encourage cyclists to follow stop signs, and thought that maybe you could focus on some of the things drivers do to fuel the conflict, namely:

    Cutting corners through bike lanes. This happens to me pretty much every ride. If a car drifts into another car, we exchange insurance info- if a car drifts into a bike someone sends my mother white flowers. My mom would prefer not to get them. You can look at pretty much any place the road curves with a bike lane- but the area around williams and Greeley is a good place to look.

    Excessive speeding on Bridges- on most bridges a bike will be in traffic at some point, and when cars are going 40, 50 or 60 miles an hour, that gets dangerous.

    Failing to yield on the Hawthorne Bridge offramp- east bound onto 99. Apperently the residents of Milwaukee are in a hurry to get home.

    Blocking bike lanes – by OMSI. Your officers are down there a lot, maybe they could get the truck drivers to quit using the bike lane as a parking zone.

    Double parking- mostly downtown. This was a big problem in Boston when I was growing up until the city had a boot and tow policy and people knew that if they double parked they stood a good chance of being towed.

    Speeding in residential areas. I can bike 25… if the speed limit is 25, and I am doing 25 and a car blows by me? I assume they are speeding. Woodard by Franklin HS, Ladds edition and Lincoln between 50th and 39th are places I have seen this.

    Thank you for taking the time to listen my concerns.

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  • BURR July 27, 2008 at 2:59 am

    I\’m sure most of us here can agree that compliance at stop signs is much higher for cars than for bikes, and the police enforcement actions seem to back that up.

    nothing could be further from the truth. some simple empirical observations will tell anyone that cares to learn that motorists roll stop signs with at least the same frequency as cyclists when there is no cross traffic, and the PPB are being selective when they do these enforcement actions, so that the results are skewed in favor of motorists.

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  • Afro Biker July 27, 2008 at 8:34 am

    In response to \”Dave\”….oh please comparing being a cyclist to being black? You have no idea. Did you really think when you made that statement?

    And God forbid we cyclists follow some simple rules. Why is that so infuriating to some of you? Those rules are there for everyone\’s safety.

    Afro Biker

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  • Sam B July 27, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Comments: I was leaving PGE park this afternoon about 4 PM, after a graduation event, thousands of pedestrians leaving the event. Crossed with the light at SW 18th & SW Taylor St with a light going eat, on foot. Shepherding young children to get them across the crosswalk safely. One of the children dropped something so, might not have gotten across the crosswalk completely before light turned green for motorists to proceed north. People behind me in the sidewalk. The automobile drivers stopped, almost run down by a bicyclist who didn\’t seem to be interested in the fact that pedestrians were still in the cross walk.

    So who has the right of way? Pedestrians, or the bicyclist, and why did the automobile drivers continue to stay stopped until the crosswalk was empty?

    I think the physics of a pedestrian not being able to get going again after stopping, outweights a poor cyclists inability to get back up to cruising speed after coming to a stop.

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  • Myra July 27, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Was born in POrtland raised out of country most of the time. Came back to Portland off and on until I met husband here in Portland now I live here.

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  • Radio July 28, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Seems like OPB has joined the anti-bike front. They just aired a malicious piece where the commentator uses cheap tricks to disguise his bias, like sending a message by sort of denying it: \”Not all cyclists blow stop signs\” he says earlier – and then ends the piece saying how Oregonians should fight, not cyclists or drivers, but those users who think the rules of the road don\’t apply to them. Sure. As if he hasn\’t suggested who those users were.

    But the worst part was when he tried to play down the environmental benefits of riding a bike over driving a car. \”Bike tires and tubes are made of petroleum.\” WOW!

    Its crazy to watch how far they go with their denial. It also makes me wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that Land Rover is one of OPB\’s main sponsor.

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  • Graham July 28, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Sam B #180: \”I think the physics of a pedestrian not being able to get going again after stopping, outweights a poor cyclists inability to get back up to cruising speed after coming to a stop.\”

    Well, yeah. Pedestrians have the right of way in a cross-walk, period.

    I don\’t think that anyone who would suggest cyclists are capable of safe roll-throughs that adhere to the spirit (if not the letter) of the stop sign law would also suggest that cyclists ever have the right of way over a pedestrian. Anyone who violates a pedestrian\’s right of way is an inconsiderate jerk, regardless of the number of wheels on which they roll, and what powers those wheels.

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  • John July 28, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I\’m not sure how I feel about all this. I think that bicyclists definitely need to respect the rules of the road a bit more, especially if we expect the same from people driving cards…but that ratio is totally off and I think there\’s got to be a busier intersection somewhere.

    Maybe they need to get more police on bikes? Have them ride around… As much as I hate thinking about that idea, it might give them a better idea of the crap we put up with. Well…i dunno. Now that I think about it…the police will always favor the majority. I guess we\’re screwed.

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  • Sam July 28, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    This is a very interesting intersection (n.Flint / Broadway / Wheeler) and I believe there is a way to essentially get around that stop sign completely without breaking the law.

    If you are traveling south on Flint and want to make a right turn onto Broadway, just before the stop sign there is a sidewalk. If you cruise onto the sidewalk to round the corner (stay on the sideway onto Broadway) and simply re-join the bike land on Broadway. I have not tested this by the law, but if you are on a sidewalk (which is legal in most places, but not in certain parts of downtown), why would you need to stop at the stop sign? (being, you are on the sidewalk, not the roadway)

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