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Portland Police release new bicycle traffic enforcement training video

Posted by on October 7th, 2009 at 11:01 am

The Portland Police Bureau has just released a new internal training video meant to educate officers about bike-related traffic laws.

This is an internal training video for the Portland Police Bureau. It is narrated by Officer Robert Pickett, who serves as a liaison for bicycling issues, Bicycle Transportation Alliance advocate Michelle Poyourow, and a team of police officers who worked together to come up with the points in the video. The video is meant to educate officers, the two say, remind them of relevant laws, and “to advise officers’ discretion in bicycle enforcement situations.”

The video covers various hotly debated local issues such as issuing citations, exceptions to mandatory bike lane use, and policing of group rides. Pickett cautions that the video is meant as “advice, not as a mandate” and that “members of the public should not interpret any part of this video as exempting them from following the letter of the law.”

The video was promised to the community in the wake of an incident involving a group of riders from the Portland State Cycling team who were stopped by a police officer while riding on Northeast Ainsworth Street back in November of 2008. One man was issued a citation for impeding traffic after he attempted to gesture to the officer that he had passed him too closely in his vehicle.

The citation was ultimately dismissed, and the Police Bureau agreed to produce a video for training its officers on laws and safety issues surrounding bicycle traffic.

Several weeks ago, the Chicago Police Department released a training video for its traffic enforcement officers. While the Portland video’s focus is on how to identify and prioritize infractions committed by people on bicycles, the Chicago video focuses on infractions by people driving cars that endanger people on bicycles, and on how to handle the particular needs and paperwork issues when someone on a bicycle has been in a crash.

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  • DK October 7, 2009 at 11:15 am


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  • joe October 7, 2009 at 11:25 am

    I really enjoy that, instead of disciplining an officer that clearly did something wrong(as in the ainsworth stop that lead to this video), they spend a year creating this video.

    also really enjoyed the not so subtle dig at CM riders as “protesters looking to disrupt traffic”!

    I also wonder whether ORS 811.065 has even been used to cite a car in portland? seems like I get passed with less safe buffer distance on a daily basis. all in all, an excellent video.

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  • Marcus Griffith October 7, 2009 at 11:32 am

    It is nice to see progress being made in the police department’s communication expected standards.

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  • NE To LO October 7, 2009 at 11:33 am


    Good to see that some officers are ok with bicycles slowly rolling through STOP signs, as long as they are being safe.

    Did you notice those cyclists in Ladd’s? All of them yeilded at the Stop signs. In fact, throughout the whole video, I didn’t see any complete stops.

    Nice video.

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  • midnight October 7, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    I prefer Chicago’s version:
    More straight forward and clear in message. Dealt with the laws and procedures while encouraging cycling and mutual respect among all road users.

    Good to see effort in this direction though since my experiences have shown that police often do not actually know what the rules are that they are supposed to enforce, as Officer Pickett indicated. While the audience for this is supposed to be law enforcement, they have to consider that the video is publicly available and, I think missed the target on an opportunity for simultaneously educating the public on what to expect from the cops. Keep at it.

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  • Marid October 7, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    The problem at Ladd’s is that many cyclists pass through the double stop signs at very high speed. They don’t slow to “walking speed.” Sometimes they even accelerate through them.

    I didn’t see mention of fixies without brakes in the video. They’re probably still working on a policy on them.

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  • Editz October 7, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Bacon, Bikin’ and You?

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  • SilkySlim October 7, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Great video, especially the coverage of prominent intersections (Ladd’s, west end of Broadway Bridge, etc). And the extra effort to get the Officer cruising in the velodrome was worth it!

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  • chris October 7, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Top shelf, Jonathan. Thanks for all of ya’lls work. I check the site daily, and I am a substantially safer and more informed rider because of it.

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  • gimme some of that Idaho October 7, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Actually #6 the problem at ladd’s is that stop sign stings refuse to enforce against only unsafe behaviour and instead ticket everyone even those rolling through at about the speed of the little girl on a unicycle at 5:35 in the video.

    I wonder if a unicycle needs a hand brake in addition to the fixed hub brake.

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  • kww October 7, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Cheesy stock music? Check. Weird girl on a unicycle? Check.
    It has all the elements of a winner, despite the fact that there is no hipster rebel bikes jumping the Morrison bridge, no explosions, and no Tango and Cash.

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  • huey lewis October 7, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    i thought it kinda funny how they talk about large groups of riders slowing down traffic and an officer can decide how to maybe address that situation. but what is the difference between a cluster of cyclists slowing things down versus just regular auto traffic slowing things down? does that make sense? i don’t have some bone to pick and i’m not sitting here furiously typing away…i just got a kick out of that. why is it so intolerable to be slowed down by bikers, but a sea of SOV’s is no big deal?

    JOE: my one super shitty and terrifying experience where ORS 811.065 should have been applied, I was dismissed quickly and then told I likely caused the situation and was lucky to have not been hit. i’d love to start seeing that law enforced. i think most pdx drivers are quite considerate, but still.

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    • 9watts August 29, 2011 at 11:47 pm

      “i thought it kinda funny how they talk about large groups of riders slowing down traffic and an officer can decide how to maybe address that situation. but what is the difference between a cluster of cyclists slowing things down versus just regular auto traffic slowing things down? does that make sense?”

      Huey, that is one excellent insight. In fact upon re-viewing this I’m noticing other bits that skew similarly.
      2:09 “The outlaw edginess that was a prominent part of the old scene is being overwhelmed by a flood of mainstream citizens who bicycle for health, thrift, the environment, and fun.”
      This reifies the car as still ‘how people get places.’ If you’re on a bike you may be mainstream (in a quantitative sense), but the reason you’re on a bike is understood in terms of a cause. We don’t speculate about why people are in cars, do we?

      6:06 “We feel that impeding should be a low enforcement priority, unless a rider INTENDS to inconvenience drivers.”
      Again, why are we speculating one-sidedly about intentional inconveniencing perpetrated by people on bikes?

      Overall I think the message about using discretion is excellent; but too bad so many examples of bias snuck in.

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  • anicka October 7, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Great video. Seems a reasonable balance and shows a good handle on the issues from those involved.

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  • Rip Tatermen October 7, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    The problem at Ladd’s, 39th and Glisan, and most other American roundabouts is that when you have stop signs instead if yield signs, you defeat the purpose of the roundabout, viz., keeping traffic moving when possible.
    Also, I loved that right hook dramatization at ~3:10.

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  • TTse
    TTse October 7, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Stop signs at round abouts. Like wearing a belt with suspenders.

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  • Ben October 7, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Multiple hilarious digs at CM, plus a thinly veiled reference to corking. It’s nice to get their real perspectives on these things.

    FWIW: hey coppers! CM is a celebration of cycling and a demonstration of what roads dominated by bikes are like. Not a protest or an attempt to engage with the Police.

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  • Anonymous October 7, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Very nicely done. I hope the police are serious about not ticketing cyclists for not coming to a complete stop and cyclists are serious about rolling stop signs slowly and with caution and attention. No harm in “California stops” if people are being smart.

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  • pj October 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Excellent Video! As always,the majority of people want to do the right thing, whether they are riding bicycles or driving cars. Please keep up the good work.

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  • rev October 7, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    its a new age of reasonable behavior. i suppose defining what a brake is would be too much, alas.

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  • Anonymous October 7, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Quit calling Ladds Circle a round about, it’s not, it’s a landscape feature.

    The trees in the middle block your view of all the traffic on the circle requiring a stop to ensure you check for traffic.

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  • Notorious Kelly October 7, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I like the concept and information, but would delete the first 3 minutes.

    Non-cycling motorists will probably quit watching before any real information starts at the 3-minute mark.

    I look forward to more creative actions that make cycling safer for everyone.

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  • hemp22 October 7, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    This is a great video – thanks PoPo & BTA for working on this. It’s refreshing to see discretion being emphasized.
    But at the same time, I also feel that the recent Chicago video was better. I know that this one was a result of the issue last year, so it was probably already in progress, and not a response to the Chicago video – so perhaps a Portland version of the Chicago video could still be created?
    Actually, I think what would be most beneficial is a video intended to educate both the PD and the general public about what the letter of the law is, as well as the exceptions to each of those laws. There are many laws that apply to bikes that the general driving public (including police officers) just seem to be unaware of. The safe passing law is an obvious one.

    So, thanks and keep up the good work – I hope to see more in the future.

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  • peejay October 7, 2009 at 2:34 pm


    I call shenanigans. Ladd’s Circle is the safest intersection in all of Portlandia, and has absolutely no need for stop signs. You don’t need to see across the other side of a roundabout to be safe in that location. Sorry you don’t understand anything about traffic control, or safety, or bikes.

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  • Joe Blow October 7, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Chicago’s version is so much better.

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  • chelsea October 7, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    lol at “landscape feature.” best comment yet.

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  • Matt Picio October 7, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    joe (#2) – There aren’t a lot of opportunities to enforce ORS 811.065 in Portland. That statute has specific exemptions for traffic traveling 35mph and under, and for roads with bike lanes. In the Portland city limits, most roads have a 35mph or lower speed limit, and much of the remaining roads are arterials with bike lanes. The number of 40mph+ roads in Portland proper without bike lanes is pretty low.

    That said, ORS 811.065 *is* enforceable on 25, 30 and 35mph streets if the car in question is traveling faster than 35mph at the time. The statute links it to vehicle actual speed, not posted speed.

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  • SteveD October 7, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    “Sorry dude!” That right hook accident made it appear as if it’s no big deal. Just get up and brush yourself off. In reality, your either dead or busted up and riding in an ambulance to the hospital.

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  • Bahueh October 7, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Joe Santos rocks…

    Ladd’s Cirlce is NOT a roundabout…sorry folks. No matter how much you wish it true…

    i suggest a stronger pair of legs.

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  • Scooter October 7, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Good video but nothing about the actual process of ticketing a cyclist. Things like does a cyclist need to show a license or ID. Is it OK for the cyclist to just say their info. I still have not been able to find out if I get a ticket on my bike can it cause an increase on my auto insurance. Is your drivers license number put on a cycling ticket?

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  • jacque October 7, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    It seems like the intended message in this video is this… hey officers, the city has been promoting the use of bikes, and now lots of nice normal people are riding bikes, but you’re still profiling them as criminals and scoff-laws, so cut it out and start treating all the nice normal citizens like nice normal citizens. I wonder if some of the nice normal people expressed worry to the upper-ups that they might get yanked off their bike and tazed if they forgot their lights…

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  • matchu October 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I deeply appreciate the level of transparency the Portland Police Bureau has exercised here by allowing the public to view this video and not restricting it to within the bureau.

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  • are October 7, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    comment 12 same thought crossed my mind, but the difference is on bridge pedal (which is what they actually show in the video) or whatever (pedalpalooza, which is what they are really talking about) the mass of bikes is running through signalized intersections whether the light is green or red or purple, whereas with a mass of cars, at least you get some kind of compliance at the signalized intersections.

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  • Donna October 7, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    It’s a good video but I wish it got into what Chicago’s did in encouraging mutual respect among all users of the road.

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  • Rip Tatermen October 7, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    @28 Nobody said it is a roundabout, we said it should be, and would be if not for the stop signs. My legs can handle the stop just fine; it just seems inefficient and pointless to stop there when traffic only comes from one direction.

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  • efglez October 7, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Thank you for a very informative video, I hope drivers can watch this also and learn to respect us on the road- Thank you to the Police and the BTA for bringing this to us. Efrain

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  • jacque October 7, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    One thing I got from the video was that officers have the right to control traffic, and that is why they can tell us all to stay in the right lane when we are traveling in a large group.
    But I wish they would be more explicit about this when they are directing us.

    As a VC rider, it is very confusing to have it implied that it is the law that I need to stay in the right lane… it makes me think the officer doesn’t know what he/she is talking about.
    If the officer explained that it is he or she that is making the call… in order to keep traffic moving, it would go over a lot better. A simple “I want you to stay in the right, and leave a lane open” would do. “You MUST stay in the right lane” just makes my eyes roll, and brings out juvenile rebellious tendencies (that luckily I rarely act upon).

    And please realize that at times a group must move to the left in order to make a turn.

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  • Marid October 7, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Also consider that there are crosswalks at Ladd’s circle and some of the entries don’t have great visibility of pedestrians. I’m thinking particularly of the the NW to SE entry. Sometimes we’re so busy watching out for cars that we forget to look out for our lesser brethren.

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  • n8m October 8, 2009 at 1:26 am

    Robert Pickett has great hair!

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  • Afro Biker October 8, 2009 at 6:19 am

    Fantastic. We’ll be transformed into “Europeans” in no time!

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  • peejay October 8, 2009 at 7:30 am

    It seems like some people are so invested in the idea that Ladd’s Circle should be encumbered with these stop signs. Because the tragedy that would befall us if we removed the stop signs and allowed people to flow through the intersection exactly as 95% of them do now would devastate the community like nothing else! Think: what would the PPB do with all their fancy motorcycles? What would that crotchety old guy who lives near Palio get to complain about? What would behuah get all indignant about? Nah. Not worried about that last one.

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  • know when to stop October 8, 2009 at 8:44 am

    What seems really strange to me about this town is that there are stop signs at roundabouts (maybe it’s because of the crosswalks) but not at some regular intersections. In a place where a lot of the residents aren’t originally from here, it seems a little silly to hope people realize that they need to be sure that if they don’t have a stop sign, they need to check whether cross traffic does.

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  • Mike October 8, 2009 at 9:01 am

    “Disregarding a car’s turn signal” is apparently a reckless behavior that can lead to cyclists forfeiting the protection of a bicycle lane?


    This video makes it sound like if a car has its turn signal on the bicycle has to yield, which is NOT what the law says. RIDICULOUS. So if any car right hooks a bicyclist they can just say “but officer I had my signal on” and that’s that.

    UNBELIEVABLE – 3:30 in the video.

    They also should have gone into a lot more detail as to the MANY reasons why bicyclists might want to leave a bicycle lane: avoiding right hooks, debris in the bike lane, dooring danger, gravel left over from the winter, illegally parked cars or taxis or semi-trucks, or pedestrians using the bicycle lane as an extension of the sidewalk.

    I can’t believe this got the BTA stamp of approval.

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  • Russell October 8, 2009 at 9:15 am

    The Chicago video is heads above this one. Like a lot of other people, what bothers me most about this video is the insinuation that it is ‘no longer’ acceptable for the police to assault bicyclists because more of them are in the upper tax brackets now that bicycling has gone “mainstream”.

    Someone should make a spoof video for the PPD giving them tips for which cyclists it is acceptable to target for assault without serious consequence and how to differentiate them from those for whom beatings or tasings might generate bad press.

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  • vanfunky matthew October 8, 2009 at 9:20 am

    kudos… certainly some room for improvement but it’s a really good start and not just for officers but the public as well. expecting the other’s behavior is a key to safety from both mode share perspectives. @ 5:56 did anyone else see the cyclist cut off (a missed right hook with no hand signal) by another cyclist? perhaps it was included as a subtle messege?

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  • wsbob October 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Can’t see the video until I get to a computer with a faster connection. Sounds like something that could help. In his occasional comments and articles to bikeportland, Pickett seems like a fair minded, even tempered sort that would try his best to help everyone understand each other better.

    Ladd’s Circle isn’t a roundabout. The streets to it through Ladd’s Addition aren’t a bike freeway. A designated bike route…but not a bike freeway. Ladd’s probably doesn’t have, or shouldn’t want a volume of traffic or type of traffic through its neighborhood that removal of stop signs might enable.

    It’s legal for people riding bikes to travel any of the streets on the perimeter of Ladd’s Addition: 12th, 20th, Division or Hawthorne. Those streets may be a better route for people that find stopping at Ladd’s Circle’s stop signs to be too much of a strain.

    People actually live in this neighborhood, near and around the circle. I’d bet, that if a poll of the neighborhoods residents were conducted to learn their feelings about traffic in the neighborhood, it would show that they place high value on the neighborhoods’ stop signs and having people on all modes of transportation generally stop at them.

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  • KruckyBoy October 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    I like certain aspects of this video over the Chicago video. The Chicago video gave 35 ways to cite a car but no ways to cite a cyclist. This seems more even handed in citations, and I love that they place emphasis on stop sign enforcement based on the speed of the bike. This video uses so much common sense that many people could possibly miss the point.

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  • rex October 8, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Mike #42, I got the same impression as you did. It is serious flaw in an otherwise noble effort. If PoPo reads these comments, (or any other PPB), I would love to get the straight poop on this. As far as I know, signaling does not give anyone the right-of-way in any part of the vehicle code.

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  • elaine October 8, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    From the Virtual Tour of Portland’s Bike Infrastructure (#6 Ladd’s circle):


    Roundabouts are widely used in countries around the world. In Portland, the Bureau of Transportation System Management is investigating the use of roundabouts as a safer intersection treatment to that of the classic two-way or four-way stop controlled intersections. Stop #5 is a roundabout found at the intersection of Ladd and Harrison in Ladd’s Addition, one of the oldest residential districts in the City of Portland.

    Bicycle and Pedestrian Benefits:

    One of the significant benefits of roundabouts is the improvement of safety due to less conflict zones inherit in the design. Generally, roundabouts offer less delay than stop controlled or signalized intersections and allow for free flow travel by bike. ”


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  • browse October 8, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    I just watched the videos from the PoPo, and the Chicago PD. Count me in the group who thinks the Chicago video is _vastly_ superior.

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  • peejay October 8, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Thank you elaine. You’re a tonic to this thread.

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  • Steve B. October 8, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    The most striking thing I learned from this video is that police have an incentive to not file reports in order to save time, at their *discretion*. Fair enough, we are working with limited resources.

    I worry about this sort of subjectivity. To me, a PO’s job is to observe boundaries. I hate to think that ticketable offenses or at least writing reports for things like right hooks, dooring, etc. can be shrugged off if it doesn’t seem necessary to the police officer. In all likelihood, most crashes involve a level of property damage, and that should warrant some level of accountability.

    Full disclosure, I’m still upset over a recent incident where a rider on Williams was flagrantly doored by a driver in a rage, who happened to be driving without insurance to boot. The hit cyclist’s bike definitely needed some serious repairs, but thankfully the rider was not seriously hurt. When we asked about a report, perhaps a citation for the driver not driving with insurance, the PO simply shrugged and said it was a civil matter.

    I do really appreciate the transparency and the meeting-at-the-same-table approach of this project. Let’s see this sort of resource updated regularly with new material, there is certainly much more ground to cover.

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  • wsbob October 8, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Elaine, if you want to, go ahead and tell us what you find “…interesting…” about that excerpt describing the intersection of Ladd and Harrison as a roundabout, besides the fact that some of us here, including myself, have said it wasn’t one.

    Though Ladd’s Circle may be described by PBOT as a roundabout, it still has stop signs. By definition, can a roundabout have stop signs and still be a roundabout? If one can, I suppose people that have objected to Ladd’s Circle being described as a roundabout might be comfortable with the description.

    What are some of your ideas about why the Ladd’s Circle ’roundabout’ has stops signs at streets that intersect with it? I’m inclined to think the residents of Ladd’s Addition are happy with them there. If they weren’t happy with them, city hall and PBOT would probably be getting lots of calls from residents asking that they be removed.

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  • PoPo October 8, 2009 at 10:37 pm


    Please note that the video says that a person riding a bicycle can forfeit right-of-way in a bicycle lane through “extreme behavior.” One of the examples of this extreme behavior was “riding in excess of the speed limit AND disregarding a car’s turn signal.” This was accompanied by a video of a cyclist in a bike lane flying past a car waiting to turn right.

    Simply disregarding a turn signal in itself was not cited as “extreme behavior.”

    Though anytime I ride, even at slow speeds, I am always looking out for right turning cars across my bike lane, and never assume they see me until there is a clear indication, like a wave-through or brake lights. I suspect this is the same for most of us.

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  • bikieboy October 9, 2009 at 9:14 am

    PoPo #53, thanks for the clarification — like a few of the above posters i didn’t quite catch that nuance in the video – though it did illustrate it quite well.

    good work, some excellent film footage, and i hope it’s well-watched within the PPB.

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  • VeloBusDriver October 9, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Best quote from this video: “If a cyclist approaches an intersection at walking pace or less and is attentive, enforcement resources may best be used elsewhere.”

    I also like the comparison of citing a cyclist who carefully rolls through a stop sign to citing a motorist doing 36 mph in a 35 mph zone.

    Excellent video!

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  • Mike October 9, 2009 at 10:41 am

    PoPo –

    Thank you for the response. That makes much more sense. The video is a bit confusing at that point though, so I hope that none of the officers watching the video get the wrong impression.

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  • PoPo October 9, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    No worries, Mike. I think most officers will get it. Cops are used to paying close attention to tiny words such as “and” “or” “shall” “can” because they dot laws all over the place and can be extremely powerful depending on where they are placed!

    Thanks for your close scrutiny.

    Also, I tried to list some common reasons for leaving the bike lane during the part I narrated, but of course the list of “hazards” can be endless, and we were constantly battling to keep it to a reasonable length so as to not lose the attention of officers who are ready to go out to patrol, and to not delay the relief of officers already out patrolling for ten hours who can’t come in until the next shift finishes roll call (and the video) and comes out.

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  • PoPo October 9, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Also, the young girl who was riding on the unicycle just happened to be there while we were filming. She offered to let us film her showing her stopping-and-looking skills. I was impressed!

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  • Jordan October 12, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    #2: Actually, if you were paying any attention, the video specifically was advising officers that bicycle groups are very rarely “protesters” interested in “disrupting”, and that they often were people just looking to have a safe, fun ride.

    I’m not sure what you were playing at, pretending the video said the exact opposite of what it clearly did…

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  • joe October 14, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Matt – thanks for clearing up the unsafe passing law for me. I had forgotten that it was written like that. I do think, though that I get passed unsafely by that definition on killingsworth all the time. not that I should be riding on that street – it is just that I live there and forget sometimes.

    Jordan – I was referring to the part of the video(approx 2:10) which claims that the “outlaw edginess that was a main part of the old bike scene” has been replaced with normal people. of course people are just out looking for a safe, fun ride. why the ppb ever thought/thinks otherwise is what is so baffling. you can sense their animosity toward the public even in their training videos – that is what I am playing at.

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  • esther c August 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I thought the right hook description was not clear. I don’t think it was obvious that the cyclist was going over the speed limit. I hope it is obvious in intent to police officers.

    I do like the comparison of rolling through a stop sign to going 36 in a 35.

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