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Tickets follow close call on Ainsworth

Posted by on November 16th, 2008 at 10:23 am

PSU Cycling Club president
Reuben Vyn and Officer Pryce.
(Photos: Peter Welte)

Two members of the PSU Cycling Club got a lot more than they bargained for while riding along NE Ainsworth yesterday.

According to witnesses, Club president Reuben Vyn was riding along with six other members of the club on NE Ainsworth near NE 23rd when a Portland police officer in a patrol car came by “within a foot” of his handlebars. (Ainsworth is a narrow, one-lane, residential street with car parking. The street is a designated bike route, but it’s also notoriously uncomfortable to ride on. See photo below)

In a statement to BikePortland, Vyn claims he was riding “about three feet from a row of parked cars when Officer Pryce passed me, coming within a foot of hitting me.” Vyn recalls that he then “signaled to him (the officer) with a lateral motion of my hand that he should have given me more space.”

Not much space on Ainsworth.

According to Peter Welte, who was also on the ride, that gesture, “apparently pissed the guy (Officer Pryce) off.” The police officer then pulled Vyn over.

At this point, Welte — who was ahead of Vyn when the incident occurred — had doubled-back and was now standing with Vyn, discussing the law with the officer.

Vyn recalls the conversation:

“He proceeded to tell me that I needed to either ride with the flow of traffic or ride closer to the parked cars in order to let other vehicles pass. I replied that if I rode any closer to the cars I would risk getting ‘doored’. He asked if that actually happens, and if that has happened specifically to me. I replied that yes it actually has happened to me.

I further explained that it is my right to ride three feet from parked cars, and that he in fact made a dangerous move to pass me at such a close distance.”

Welte says that the cop “didn’t appreciate our feedback regarding his understanding of the law and looked for anything he could bust on.”

Story continues below

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“It is much easier for me to disregard driver ignorance when it is not being displayed by someone in authority.”
— Nathan Sramek

After their discussion, both Vyn and Welte recall that Officer Pryce went back to his patrol car and then returned twenty minutes later with citations for both men. Pryce allegedly told them they were receiving the citations because they, “insisted on doing this the hard way.”

Reuben Vyn was cited for failure to update his address on his driver’s license (ORS 807.560) and for impeding traffic (ORS 811.130). Welte received a ticket as a pedestrian (he had entered the roadway to take pictures) for ‘improper position on a highway’ (ORS 814.070).

When Officer Pryce handed out the tickets, Welte recalls, Vyn asked, “What’s my ticket for? Riding in the street?”, and the officer responded “yes”.

Both Vyn and Welte feel their citations are not warranted and plan to contest them in traffic court.

Ainsworth is a designated bike route, but
the narrow street makes for tricky riding.

Nathan Sramek was also on the ride. He calls Vyn’s citation a “bogus charge” and, wrote in an email that, “What really bothers me about this situation, is not that Rueben and Peter were cited, but the implications events like this hold for the safety of the cycling community in general.”

Sramek calls the incident “disheartening” and he feels that police officers should serve as an example to other motorists. Reflecting on the incident, he wrote that he doesn’t think it’s indicative of the PPB’s attitude toward cyclists in general, but that “It is much easier for me to disregard driver ignorance when it is not being displayed by someone in authority.”

Welte says he and Vyn now plan to research their citations and prepare for their cases, which will be heard in traffic court in December. He also said they are considering filing a formal complaint with the police bureau.


[Editor’s Note: I’ve changed the headline of this story from “Riding on Ainsworth leads to tickets for PSU riders” to “Tickets follow close call on Ainsworth”. I just didn’t like the original headline, so I changed it.]

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

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tim
Guest

I live a few blocks from Ainsworth/23rd. Riding this area of Ainsworth safely requires ‘taking the lane’ in order to not have just about every motorist pass within a foot of you.

It’s disheartening to hear about the officer’s attitude, but I’m glad these cyclists aren’t taking this lying down.

Mike
Guest

I have had many cars do the same to me on a daily basis riding down Ainsworth to 24th street, where I live. This is very disheartening, but sadly unsurprising, that officer Price took time out of his shift to make life a little more difficult for Vyn and Welte. Good luck fighting the citations, hopefully Price does not bother to show up to court.

mac
Guest
mac

This IS indicative of the attitude of the PPB as evidenced many times before. Vyn and Welte should hire competent lawyers and I’d be happy to contribute to a defense fund.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Anyone with much driving experience at all should be able to understand that safely traveling a street like this requires more than usual patience and time. If the officer really needed to make time, all he would have had to do was flip on the overhead lights.

If he had done so, even within the tight constraints of this street, the PSU riders, or most any other riders would likely have made every possible effort to promptly give him the clearance he needed.

Glad to get the impression that the PSU guys kept a cool head throughout this incident.

ambrown
Guest

The BTA needs to be all over this. This is why I’m a member.

TonyT
Guest
tonyt

To protect and to serve indeed.

A jerk with a badge is still a jerk.

Steven M.
Guest
Steven M.

They are thinking of filing a complaint? They definitely should file a complaint. We don’t need more police with overblown ego’s endangering cyclists. We need good police who are looking out for us.

Blair
Guest
Blair

This really sucks. A PPB officer also pulled a cyclist over in front of my house about a week ago. The event ended in a warning when me and my neighbors all went outside and shot photos and asked what was going on. The PPB, or at least many rogues inside them, aren’t bike-friendly. I hope Sam Adams will change this.

Jebus
Guest
Jebus

From what I read here, it is fairly obvious that they should file a complaint…

Rylee
Guest
Rylee

Thank you for publishing this story. It needed to be heard. What an absurd situation.

Rich
Guest
Rich

Mike said: “hopefully Price does not bother to show up to court”

No, that would accomplish nothing. Hopefully he DOES appear and they win.

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

I have a sneeky feeling that an officer has an agenda here…

Hopefully the tickets gets tossed, and the officer gets an attitude adjustment (or gets tossed too).

Velo Vanguard
Guest
Velo Vanguard

No, on the contrary, this *is* typical of the PPB’s attitude toward cyclists in general. I’ve had several PPB officers tell me that it’s perfectly legal for a motorist to pass that close to a cyclist. That’s BS.

Aka
Guest
Aka

I hope that justice prevail and that police learn from this event. The cop could have just said “sorry for riding so close to you” and everything would have been fine….

anon
Guest
anon

Velo,

According to police actions, It is perfectly legal to run over a cyclist and even kill a cyclist.

I hate it that I can type those words and it be true.

gabriel amadeus
Guest

Wow. Thanks Pryce.

Court Clerk
Guest
Court Clerk

FYI-Unless the two gentlemen intend to plead guilty or no contest to the charges, the cases will NOT be heard in December. All they will be doing at the initial appearance date is enter a plea and give the clerk some info so a trial date can be set.

Too many people show up expecting to have a trial right then and there and it is just not the process.

As long as we’re (I’m) on the subject of the court process, please, when you show up in Room 106, keep in mind that the clerks there did not write your citation, nor do we have any say in how your cite is handled. We can do nothing with your story of how picked on and singled out you feel. Guess what? Everyone feels that way. Drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and trimet scofflaws all feel persecuted. Even if we are sympathetic, we can’t do anything anyway. Please, just move on and let me help the person in line behind you.

solid gold
Guest
solid gold

see, this is the problem with that much authority placed into one person’s hand with no oversight. you can file your complaint, and guess what’ll happen? nothing. we need an actual police oversight committee with independant power, not just police “supervising” other police.

jim
Guest
jim

I have had many cyclists pass within a foot of my car, It happens all the time. this only propigates a very negative feeling for cyclists. It dosn’t help when you are not cooertative with a policeman so of course they got tickets. Maybe if they don’t want tickets next time they will use some better judgement. I’m happy they got tickets. I wish more boneheads got tickets.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

Even though I live on Ainsworth near 28th I do not ride on Ainsworth. The cop is a perfect example of the attitude of many drivers on that street take with people on bikes. I find Alberta St. to be more accomidating for riding.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

I’d also like to add there is very little regard for pedistrians crossing the street. Compliance for people stopping for people walking across Ainsworth is non-existant. Ainsworth is a cut throuhg street with only one stop sign (at 15th) between MLK and 33rd. NO OTHER STREET IN ALL OF NE HAS SO FEW TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES!!! NOT EVEN LOMBARD!

Drewid
Guest
Drewid

Jim #19, try reading the story again. The cop passed the bike within one foot. The bike kept a three foot distance from the parked cars it was passing.

This is just another cop with a bruised ego who forgot his mission is to protect and serve.

He wasted our city money on his personal problem, and left a part of Portland without a patrol car for a half hour while doing so.

David Dean
Guest
David Dean

They should do more than file a complaint, they should sue the police for harassment.

David Dean
Guest
David Dean

An officer can’t go fishing for reasons to give out a citation. Reminds me of this case:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3GlEe1kCHA

David Dean
Guest
David Dean

Also PSU provides legal services for students. You should talk with them.

jim
Guest
jim

(NO OTHER STREET IN ALL OF NE HAS SO FEW TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES!!! NOT EVEN LOMBARD!)

Not true. There are speed bumps placed the entire length of ainsworth.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

Jim@26

Sorry you are wrong. You are thinking N. Ainsworth west of MLK. I think I know my street.

ish
Guest
ish

Hey Jim19,
Proper spelling, and command of the English language is helpful when trying to argue a point. It “dosnt” help your case, and “propigates” the idea that people who drive cars are not”cooerative” in ending the targeting of cyclists.

Mark Allyn
Guest

I have some questons:

Do any of you know if Sam Adams lurks on this board or at least whether he has someone who lurks here for him?

Can we assume that he’s either aware of this incident or at least will become so in a short period of time?

Also, to the court clerk, I though that the arrangement is heard by a judge. Are you saying that at the initial appearence, there is only a clerk, not a judge?

Perhaps I am wrong, but I thought that a judge can throw out a charge if it’s rediculous even at the arrangment, or first appearance.

Perhaps you can explain the process a little more for the rest of us. It sounds that I, along with others, is totally mi-informed.

An while we are talking about the police, what has me worried that if any of those officers who seem to have a negative attitude toward cyclists sees me with all of my lights, can they find something to cite me on.

Is having too many lights illegal in any way or does the law only care about minimum lighting?

Luv

Cleara
(Mark Allyn)

Boo Boo
Guest
Boo Boo

Unfortunately, based on this story, which is one side, looks like a possible clear case of a police officer abusing his power. I STRONGLY recommend you not only contest the ticket (I’ll bet big money that the district attorney drops charges to avoid more publicity), but you should file a formal complaint with the IPR (Independent Police Review Committee). I’d also contact a bicycle lawyer and consider suing the city. Unfortunately, that’s what it usually takes to get the Police Bureau’s attention that they must change their view of cyclist and stop harassing so many of them. Really, that office was WAYYYY out of line. Oh, I’d also write to the Mayor, Major elect, and Saltzman’s office.

jim
Guest
jim

sorry about that. There are other parts of ainsworth with speedbumps too. Neve figured out they they put speed bumps in bike lanes anyways, it just dosn’t make sense.

Gabriel
Guest
Gabriel

Fight the power!!

So, what were the cyclists pulled over for specifically? Waving for more room isn’t a crime, so how can an officer legally request your ID to give you a ticket in the first place?

It sounds like they were officially pulled over for using their 3ft of space on the right, which is legal. So the tickets should subsequently be thrown out since there was no legal reason to be pulled over in the first place.

Velo Vanguard
Guest
Velo Vanguard

“Is having too many lights illegal in any way or does the law only care about minimum lighting?”

The law is only concerned about minimum lighting. But, as you can see, that won’t stop the PPB from making up fake traffic infractions and issuing you citations based on those.

Court Clerk
Guest
Court Clerk

Cleara,

You have the option of appearing before the arraignment judge. All that judge is going to do is take a guilty or no contest plea and assess a fine. Sometimes, the judge will impose a lower fine than the clerk is authorized to give you. We have a schedule of fines and, based on your prior record, we reduce as much as we can. The judge is not as restrained as we are and can (though, usually doesn’t) impose a fine lower that we can.

If you want to dispute any aspect of the case, the arraignment judge will enter a not guilty plea for you and order a trial, which you could have done at the clerk’s counter and saved yourself an hour of more of your time. (Even better, if you want to plea not guilty, mail it in, allowing enough time for it to be received by your scheduled arraignment date.)

It is extremely rare for a judge to dismiss a violation case at arraignment. The officer presents the state’s case (not a DA, Boo Boo) and judges just don’t dismiss at arraignment due to the fact that only one side is present.

Court Clerk
Guest
Court Clerk

BTW, I’ve not seen a cite issued for excessive lighting on a bicycle. I don’t for a minute think that there aren’t officers who would find a statute to cover it, if they wanted to be a jerk about it.

My husband works nights and commutes by bike. His coworkers see him on the road and give him a hard time for looking like a Xmas tree. I don’t care. He rides along Marine Drive and I want drivers to see him. So, yes, he does look like a rolling Xmas tree. I like it. It allows me to sleep at night.

r
Guest
r

In a space like that shown in the photo captioned “not much space” I would have been taking enough of the lane that the officer would not have been able to pass at all until there was a substantial gap in the line of parked cars. Riding to the left of the door zone is one thing. Taking the lane has to do with preventing an overtaking motorist from passing too close, period. I do recognize that the “far to right” statute arguably does not support me on this (am I moving left “to avoid a hazard”? yes, I think so, but the traffic court judge might disagree. Also, we see here one more reason not to produce identification in this kind of situation. While 807.560 does require you to notify DOT within thirty days of a change of address, 807.570 requires you to produce the license when requested by an officer in the course of a “lawful” stop only when driving a [motor] vehicle. I hope these guys fight this hard, and I agree that BTA should make itself heard. Can we get the court date posted somewhere?

greenkrypto
Guest
greenkrypto

It is nice to see our city PD spending so much time being petty and immature, instead of catching burglars and thiefs.

re: r
Guest
re: r

r (#32) Rueben was not carrying his license during the ride, the officer asked him for his name and address and cited him based on that.

Jenny
Guest
Jenny

I was on this ride, and not only am I completely dumbfounded by the officer handing Reuben a ticket for “riding in the street” but that he made a comment about us not riding fast enough up the hill.

fyi – the court date as listed on the tickets is December 12th at 8:30am.

Refunk
Guest
Refunk

Mark Allyn @ #28:

As far your lights go, I think that if you ran into this particular cop, you might only be concerned about white light facing to the rear and blue light anywhere on the bike. Blue is reserved for emergency/official vehicles. You’re probably the last person PPB should be concerned with over lights! (they should cite the lightless ninjas in dark clothing crossing against traffic controls!)

These guys from PSU definitely got harrassed by a cop being bad. Keep us informed on this one, Jonathan!

Mark Allyn
Guest

Court Clerk: Thanks for clarifying. I appreciate it!

To Refunk: While I do have the white light on the front, I also have some small blue lights.

These blue lights are part of the decoration. Some of them are in the fiber optic light tubes and in the LED spoon sculpture on the back and front panniers as well as the legs of the steel stainless steel ‘man’ figure bolted on rails on the front of the bike (see the picture at: http://www.allyn.com/bicycle/thumb_bike6.html

Since they are NOT flashing or blinking, I thaught they may be okay.

Part of my commute includes going past the Justice Center as I head toward the Hawthorne Bridge in my evening commute.

Perhaps I should shut down the decorative lights as I pass the police headquaters . . .

Luv

Cleara
(Mark Allyn)

Cecil
Guest

“The judge is not as restrained as we are and can (though, usually doesn’t) impose a fine lower that we can.”

By statute, in most instances, the court cannot reduce the fine by more than 25% – ORS 153.093.

Tbird
Guest
Tbird

This is another prime example of why we need seperated bike lanes. Obviously the PPB doesn’t value the safety of cyclists on the street, why should the rest of the population? In the photo above it shows cars parked along the street. This space should be used for a bike lane. I’m sick of public space being used for the storage of increacing obsolete private property. From now on I’m parki g my bike on the street til we get a European style bike lane system.
F$&k the police!

dan Kearl
Guest
dan Kearl

I thought it was just tri-met bus drivers that enjoyed seeing how close they can get to cyclists. I have more close calls with city employees that anybody else on the road. Sam Adams gets way too much slack on this website, He is a city commissioner. I have complained to tri-met about their drivers with no response. I wouldn’t expect much from the city or the police dept.

Court Clerk
Guest
Court Clerk

I’m sorry. I wasn’t clear in my response above.

The judge can reduce the fine to something lower than the clerks are authorized to assess if someone is a repeat offender. For example, a person is cited for a “B” violation, with a base fine of $242. The minimum is $182, but the person has two prior convictions in the past three years. The clerks can only assess a fine of $194 in that case. The judge can assess the $182, or, in the alternative, impose $242 or even higher (up to the statutory maximum, $427) if he/she wants to really leave an impression. More often than not, the judge will impose the $194.

In addition, the judge can impose a fine, but, suspend the fine if the defendant completes some requirement within a certain period of time, like take a safety course, register a vehicle or obtain a valid license or insurance. In that case, the conviction is reported to DMV (if a driving offense), but no fine is imposed by the court. Only a judge can authorize that. We clerks cannot.

Klixi
Guest
Klixi

WTF?

This is the most bizarre and stupid thing I’ve ever read on here. This guy has all the makings of a bad cop.. citing someone for safely riding in the road? This is so stupid my brain hurts. Clearly the cop’s ego got bruised and in retaliation he dished some bogus tickets. I hope a lot of publicity surrounds this one.

justa
Guest
justa

I’m sorry I don’t have anything more constructive to say than my initial reaction: what a DICK!

Martin
Guest
Martin

What is the carbon/pollution footprint of one of these fancy cars? What is the happiness quotient of cops on bikes vs. cops in cars?

Steven J
Guest
Steven J

Man…this kind of fool Cop wouldn’t hesitate to Pitt a Bike rider.
He desperately needs a BTA Enema.

n8m
Guest
n8m

Wow, way to shitlist yourself Officer Price.

Thanks for the story.