Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 5th, 2010 at 12:34 pm
A group of parents in the inner-southeast Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood are fed up with what they say are people riding bicycles too dangerously down one of Portland’s busiest bikeways — SE Clinton Street. At issue is a school bus stop near the intersection of Clinton and SE 29th that services Abernethy Elementary.
According to Liz Gatti, a resident and mom of two kids who use that stop, people on bicycles frequently do not stop when the bus’s flashing lights are on. Instead, they zoom around it while children are boarding and crossing the street. Gatti, and other parents who are mobilizing around this concern, are worried that one of their children will be struck and hurt as a result.
The parents have resorted to standing behind the bus “looking like a bunch of thugs” to try and encourage people to stop.
Below is an “Open Letter” written by Gatti and shared with BikePortland at the behest of Portland Police Officer Robert Pickett:
“It is terrifying for me (and I think for all parents) to see cyclists continuing to move in potentially dangerous ways when my children are in such a vulnerable situation.”
— Liz Gatti, concerned parent
An Open Letter to all Cyclists in Portland,
I am a mom of two elementary school-aged children that attend a neighborhood school in Portland. Each morning, we walk about 7 blocks to a school bus stop at SE 29th and SE Clinton. We cross Clinton to the north side of the street and wait with other families for the bus. Each morning, as the bus stops, the red lights at the back of the bus are illuminated and it is clear that the bus is stopping to pick up children.
We have been going to this stop for almost two school years. During that time we have had several challenging incidents with both cars and cyclists relating to the safety of our children. I even heard today that a child was hit at one point (I was not there that day and cannot speak to the specific situation). Sometimes cars come speeding down the road, one once went into the oncoming traffic lane to swerve around the bus. I think that we can all see that that is unsafe behavior and should be stopped. With cyclists, we’ve, sometime frequently, seen them swerve around the bus when it is stopped, sometimes in large numbers.
When a school bus stops, all traffic is required to stop from all directions. Children are permitted to cross in front of the bus to get on and to get off. If the bus does not stop at the curb, the children must walk into the road to the door of the bus. It is terrifying for me (and I think for all parents) to see cyclists continuing to move in potentially dangerous ways when my children are in such a vulnerable situation.
So, I’m writing to ask that you always stop for a stopped school bus. And that you do it as cordially as possible. We stand behind the bus looking like a bunch of thugs for a reason. We want to ensure that our children are safe and we have reason to have concern.
Thank you for your consideration. And thank you for all that you do to make Portland a great place to live.
Gatti tells me that she and other parents have tried verbal warnings to people on bikes and there has been talk of handing out flyers. One parent has called in a complaint to the Portland Police Bureau and Gatti says the officers have been out three times this week giving citations to people who do not stop when the bus lights are flashing. “We hope to continue to have police presence until the issue is resolved.”
Oregon law clearly states that vehicles must wait behind a school bus when lights are flashing. Gatti says the bus stop is just east of where Clinton crosses 29th and that their “biggest fear” is that someone on a bike will veer to the right of the stopped bus and hit a child waiting to board the bus.