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Amity police chief responds to Reach the Beach ticketing incident

Posted by on May 23rd, 2011 at 4:23 pm

“Officers attempted to educate the riders by issuing traffic tickets since all other attempts to educate the riders have failed… It is unfortunate that such a great event and fundraiser should be tainted by such a widespread disregard for the laws.”
— Dan Brown, City of Amity Chief of Police

This past Saturday during Reach the Beach, hundreds of riders rolled through Amity, Oregon, a small town in Yamhill County about 45 miles southwest of Portland.

When many of them rolled through a stop sign without coming to a complete stop, Amity police officers began pulling them over en masse and writing out $317 citations. As we shared on Page Two this morning, one person who was ticketed sent a message to a local email list titled, “Amity Police Bully Reach The Beach.” The man who wrote that message says he objected to the ticketing because he alleges there’s no way the officer could have actually observed all the people he told to stop (because he was busy writing tickets).

Here’s an excerpt from the email:

“I am personally a bit outraged regarding this violation of my civil rights and would love to litigate Amity into bankruptcy. At a minimum they should communicate better with groups that wish to bring tourists into their town.”

We contacted Amity Police Chief Dan Brown to ask for his side of the story. Chief Brown said he’s a big supporter of the event, but that he gets many complaints from Amity residents about traffic law violations during the ride. He shared an open letter with with us and included the note, “Perhaps with your support, the biking population can improve their reputation in this part of the state.”

Here’s the full text of the Chief’s letter (emphasis mine):

On Saturday, May 21 the “Reach the Beach” fundraiser bike ride came through Yamhill county with a checkpoint/startpoint in Amity. This is a great event, and we support the event and the fundraising benefits.

My first official experience with this event was eight years ago when I was hired as Chief of Police for Amity. For days after the event, I fielded complaints from citizens about all of the traffic violations committed by literally hundreds of riders that had descended upon this community. Most of the complaints can be narrowed into two groups: Riders not stopping at stop signs, and riders riding 4-6 abreast taking up the entire lane, and in some instances, more than one lane.

The next year I contacted the event organizers and asked that they convey to all the riders that they must obey traffic laws. At the same time, I worked with the local volunteers that help with the program to provide information to the riders at the checkpoint at the high school. We also posted signs at the checkpoint that hi-lighted several pertinent traffic laws so the riders would be aware and perhaps would choose to obey them. Still, the complaints came in for days after the event.

Each year the event coordinators instruct the riders to obey the traffic laws. Each year we have tried to educate the riders as they pass through our community. And, every year the laws are ignored. This year was no different, except that officers attempted to educate the riders by issuing traffic tickets since all other attempts to educate the riders have failed.

It is a shame that so many of the riders openly disregard the traffic laws. It gives the event and the riders a very bad reputation. I wish I could say it was just a few riders, but it seems to be the majority of the riders that disregard the traffic laws. It is unfortunate that such a great event and fundraiser should be tainted by such a widespread disregard for the laws.

Chief Brown tells us his officers wrote a total of 15 tickets.

Reached via phone in Seattle a few minutes ago, American Lung Association President and CEO Renee Klein said she’s aware of the incident but hadn’t “gotten to the bottom of it” yet.

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155 Comments
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    Chris I May 23, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I heard about this during the ride but did not see it in person. It’s unbelievable that they would do something like this to riders as part of an organized fund raising event that brings business to their town. Reach the Beach should alter the route next year to bypass Amity.

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      Steven May 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      No. It is believable. I thought the chief’s letter emphasized his patience over years of trying to handle the situation differently. Laws are laws. Break them, and you give cyclists a bad name, period. The Idaho stop law failed. As a cyclist, I say 15 tickets is totally fair. Amity’s citizens will be happy to avoid being on the route, I’m guessing, if it means they won’t have to deal with those who continue to give cyclists a bad name. I see them every day on my own commute. they just suck, that’s all. Laws don’t change during event rides. If someone dumps parade trash in your yard, do you say, Hey, cool! It’s an event, so the trash is totally fine? Of course not. It’s just littering.

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        Brewcaster May 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm

        Thank you! Now prepare for all the hate for those who think us cyclists are “special” and should be allowed to define our own laws.

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          spare_wheel May 23, 2011 at 5:42 pm

          i hope you remember that next time you drive over the speed limit, lawbreaker.

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            A.K. May 23, 2011 at 5:56 pm

            Yeah, what I was going to say. This debate is endless and goes round and round. No matter what you “drive”, no one thinks the rules apply to them. What’s 10 MPH above the speed limit or a stop sign between friends, eh?

            I hope these same concerned citizens also contact the police about rampant stop sign rolling by cars, that is pretty universal.

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            brewcaster May 23, 2011 at 7:27 pm

            I drive the speed limit. What makes you say I don’t?

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            spare_wheel May 24, 2011 at 7:18 am

            “I hope these same concerned citizens also contact the police about rampant stop sign rolling by cars, that is pretty universal.”

            But I ALWAYS come to a complete stop. I also ALWAYS signal 500 yards before an intersection and starch my fruit of the loom underwear.

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            ralph May 24, 2011 at 10:26 am

            Yeah yeah yeah, I’m going to use other peoples bad behavior to justify my own.

            Since people commit murder I guess it’s okay for me to commit assault.

            The thing is that anyone who breaks the law is subject to penalties if caught.

            Everyone who rides, drives or walks, weighs the risk of breaking the law against the penalties if caught.

            As a cyclist I roll stop signs because the risk of getting caught are low, but the risk is not zero, if caught I’ll own up to the infraction and take the punishment,

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        rider May 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm

        Next time there’s a parade I want to see all the floats stop at all the red lights. Laws are laws right? No need to ever make any exceptions.

        If this was really an ongoing problem then the Chief should have contacted the ride organizers and requested they pay for a traffic control cop to manage the one intersection in the city. The Chief didn’t, which is why I’m calling shenanigans.

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          Brewcaster May 23, 2011 at 4:55 pm

          I believe it works the other way around. The organizers would need to seek police assistance in traffic control. And most likely pay for it.

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          NT May 24, 2011 at 9:38 am

          Irrelevant. Parade organisers have a permit to use the street for the duration.

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          Harvey May 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm

          Parades have a little thing called a Parade Permit. The ride was conducted on open public streets, thus they have to obey the laws.

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        Chris I May 23, 2011 at 5:39 pm

        There were thousands of riders traveling through Amity in the period of just a few hours. We were often in very large groups, to the point where stopping at all stop signs would have created a large backup, disrupting traffic.

        The only thing his letter emphasizes is his bias towards cyclists. We were not creating a hazard for anyone, and I question how many complaints were actually received, based on what I observed on Saturday. I recall waving and saying hello to happy residents as we passed by, not being yelled at by “concerned” residents for rolling through stop signs.

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        wsbob May 23, 2011 at 6:16 pm

        I’m impressed with the Amity police chief’s letter. When I read about this incident a few hours ago on pg. 2, I hadn’t any knowledge of Reach to the Beach’s co-ordinated efforts with the town of Amity to foster good relations with town residents and cyclists, and avoid conflict with certain of the event cyclists failure to comply with the town’s stop signs. Now, thanks to the Chief’s letter, Maus’s reporting, and comments from event participants, a lot more info is available relating to how cyclists participating for the event were informed about pertinent traffic laws prior to the start of the event.

        If accurate, according to statements in the Chief’s letter, the city and Reach to the Beach’s organizer’s have actually made considerable efforts to get ride participants to straighten up and ride right, yet many ride participants apparently are disregarding specific instructions provided to them that would keep them from being issued failure to stop citations. Cyclist participating in the event apparently rolled through the stop signs after they were specifically instructed not to.

        Cyclists rolling through the stop signs in Amity, apparently have no valid excuse and no one but themselves to blame for receiving the citations they did receive.

        Maybe Barney’s suggestion at 4:58 pm, is the way to solve this problem. Let event participants pay cops to flag them through the stop sign if they’re unable comply with it on their own.

        This is a small town of 1,480 residents; Something about small towns I’ve heard, is that all the residents generally know what’s going on in and about town. Word of mouth in such a setting is strong, so if the chief of police is just making up a bunch of baloney as an excuse to write up 15 traffic tickets on a Saturday, the town’s residents would probably know about it. Especially if they weren’t supportive of the action.

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        was carless May 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm

        Sadly, I agree. Except I think maybe they could have come to a compromise to close the street and stop sign that was 1 freaking block from the rest area. I mean, c’mon. I was waiting in line for 30 minutes for my bike to get fixed (bless River City bikes!) and I saw the cop giving out tickets.

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    rider May 23, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    For days after the event, I fielded complaints from citizens about all of the traffic violations committed by literally hundreds of riders that had descended upon this community.

    A of all, I call BS. I doubt so many of the citizens don’t recognize this as a special event that doesn’t really warrant complaint. And also, for any public official there is usually a recognition that some in the public will find a way to complain. These members of the public should be listened to politely, given consideration, but be generally ignored. I think this was just a revenue generating scam for the city.

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    Bjorn May 23, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Sounds like a ride that should realign to other roads to prevent any funds going to Amity in the future…

    Could actually be helpful for future pushes for Idaho Style as many legislators think that there is no need for a law change since tickets aren’t really being written for this, and that when they are it is because of some sort of dangerous behavior resulting in a near miss, not slowly rolling through an intersection with no other traffic nearby.

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    Suburban May 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    RTB raises money; with crime. This could be the straw that could qualify Amity for some federal anti-gang task force monies.

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    BURR May 23, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    get a permit for the event from the city of amity, that way you would get police support, instead of harassment.

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    Barney May 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I rode this event a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. Based on my experience during the ride I’d say this is a legitimate complaint by the locals, but….. This kind of behavior is common at most large bike rides like RTB, STP etc and should be expected by the organizers. Riders at events like this are often given right of way by course marshalls or local law enforcement officials at different parts of the course and often come to expect it. I would say the best solution is to hire local law enforcement to provide traffic controls at key intersections and other areas with saftety concerns. No-one will complain if a LEO flags a group of riders through an intersection. The scofflaw issue is solved, law enforcement is happy and the riders are happy. Everybody wins!

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    DougTheBug May 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    How about just following traffic laws? Could it be that simple?

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      Schrauf May 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm

      Actually, no. A large group ride with hundreds or thousands of riders causes significantly more traffic disruption if every single rider in the group stops (separately, as required by law) at an intersection. Do you realize the backup that would occur? Not just for the people on bikes, but other vehicles as well? Large group rides would not be possible. As for special permits or police control, how expensive would that be for dozens or hundreds of intersections?

      I’m all for ticketing people who go through controlled intersections without yielding to pedestrians or cross traffic with right-of-way. But that is probably not what happened here. Rather, we have a cop who does not understand practical traffic control. Probably because there normally is not any traffic in Amity.

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        El Biciclero May 24, 2011 at 10:12 am

        Super-legal RTB; see how chief Brown’s citizens like that.

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      michweek May 23, 2011 at 11:04 pm

      You go ride 200 miles and stop at every damn stop sign along your supportd route. Sheesh, there are thousands in that ridegetting some serious mileage in. It’s a supportd route that closes streets, not unlike Sunday parkways. Just need better permitting and policeparticpation in intersection safety control.

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    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 23, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    I agree with others that the solution should be a better permit/planning by ride organizers. Heck, why not get a full parade permit? Or, yeah, just pay the officers to work the intersection like they do at Sunday Parkways.

    What’s clear is that the current practice isn’t working.

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    q`Tzal May 23, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    I’m not a big participator in group rides.
    I’ve been on a total of 3 in Portland in the last several years.
    My most damning observation, from the saddle of my bicycle in a group ride, was the complete lack of regard for traffic laws that large groups have whether there was police traffic control or not.

    I understand the pull of group psychology and the ease of falling in to the behavior of group think but why should we expect that ANY TOWN should allow us to disobey all laws of traffic, laws of common decency and the “Share the Road” mantra that cycle advocates are constantly chanting?

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    marshmallow May 23, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Reach the Beach organizers haven’t updated their route to avoid unnecessary travel through Newbrg. Instead of having the riders turn right at the roundabout to get to the high school without stop signs, they must travel along heavily trafficked springbrook, right on haworth, blast 3 stop signs and then to the high school. The routes should be changed to less trafficked roads with few stop signs to avoid the impression that a town is being invaded by a horde of lawless bicyclists. This is the organizer’s fault.

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    Chris May 23, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    It strikes me as even more ridiculous than the Amity cops’ behavior that operators of 20 pound bicycles are subject to the same fines as operators of 3000 pound motor vehicles.

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      Harvey May 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      When a cyclist runs a stop sign, and gets killed as a result, hit by a car obeying the law, the driver of the car is the victim, as they had probably had no desire to kill anyone that day, and they get to live with it for the rest of their life. Seems like a good reason to treat them the same to me, most traffic laws are for safety, safety is about lives, and no one deserves the burden of killing someone if they obey the laws.

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    davemess May 23, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    There was a problem exactly like this in CO a year or two back. Charity ride, with a ton of stop sign tickets. Apparently the cops there were persistent in cyclists putting a foot down. Even if then could track stand, or even roll backwards.
    There is following the law and then there is just ridiculous.

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    marshmallow May 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    A large number of riders blasted through stop signs as if going for a win in a sprint. It was entertaining to watch but I was just waiting for a nutcase driver to “punish” the unlucky rider.

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      marshmallow May 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm

      And the crossing guards. Where are the F’in crossing guards?

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      KGW News May 24, 2011 at 11:32 am

      we’re doing a story. looking for witnesses. Will you talk? call 503-226-5111

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        Kristen May 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm

        So long as you don’t take the point of view that cyclists are all scofflaws who all run stop signs and block traffic and disobey laws. Make sure you talk to enough people to get a nice balanced story.

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          marshmallow May 24, 2011 at 3:22 pm

          That post might have been directed at me. And NO I won’t talk. Doping has and always been a part of the peloton. Even in the early days where bull testicles were eaten for the testosterone boost.

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    Case May 23, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    I just can’t believe people didn’t see this coming. As I headed toward the sign I saw a few people rolling that stop sign at 15mph or so, not really an Idaho stop. all in all, 15 tickets in that event isn’t something I’d call a police action or anything, just cops making their points.

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      Chris I May 23, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      Some cyclists probably did deserve it. I (and my group) slowed down to almost a dead stop at the empty intersections, but some riders blew through without even slowing down.

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        Dabby May 23, 2011 at 11:33 pm

        Almost dead stop would be the key there.
        Almost is not stopping.
        Almost is a ticketable offense.

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    Marc May 23, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Not defending the breaking of the law but is it realistic that large groups of cyclists individually stop at a sign? How well would that work with 20-30-40 people? That logistical problem alone should have had the organizers deploying additional traffic control to avoid such situations.

    On a personal note – I (and many others) know that you NEVER speed through Amity as their law enforcement is famous for even +5 over the limit. It’s been that way for 20 years that I’ve known.

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    marshmallow May 23, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    They can take their tickets to kangaroo court.

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    kgb May 23, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Bikes stopping or Police helping out. It’s a freaking charity ride for crying out loud. How many stop signs are we talking about? One?

    I have a really hard time believing there would be enough Amity Residents around their stop sign to a). Witness the bad behavior and b). Complain to the police. There are only 1400 people there. Break the law pay the price but I call BS on the Police Chiefs explanation.

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      notsurprised May 23, 2011 at 7:04 pm

      Agreed. I call BS too. They’re just cranky people who want to stick it to the cyclists. There is no excuse for breaking the law. But I agree the police chief is full of it on this one.

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      newbiker May 24, 2011 at 4:22 pm

      Talking about 6 stop signs, and I need to figure out if we were unnecessarily routed through extra stop signs on purpose so they had more chances to ticket people, BTW, I wasn’t ticketed, I heeded the warning of the guy when we entered the town.

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    VanWaCx May 23, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    I’m certain that the police chief was truthful about the number of complaints received following RTB each year. I’ve been on organized rides too and I know that stop signs are often treated as option.

    However, even if every cyclist had obeyed traffic laws, there would have been almost as many complaints. The Amity police response was unfortunate in that it primarily served to antagonize the cycling community. The police wanted to make an example of a few cyclists to 1) make them feel good about demonstrating that failure to obey traffic law has consequences and 2) demonstrate to the community that they take their complaints seriously.

    We can try to lay blame here and find traction in more than a few places. But that isn’t going to do anything to address the gulf between cyclists and non-cyclists. If the police chief wanted to use his resources in an effective manner, laying a stop sign trap was rather ineffective. Outreach and prevention would have been much better.

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    griffinorama May 23, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I agree that it’s the organizers fault. Get a permit and you can block the intersection all day if you want. Local police will probably even be on hand to help. I know it’s a fund raiser and permits everywhere along the route would be expensive, but maybe a local business would be willing to sponsor these permits “Your ability to sprint through this Stop Sign sponsored by Bob’s Burgers – yeehaw!”. This is a solvable problem. That being said, unfortunately, I also think that ticketing/stopping en masse is inappropriate and very possibly dangerous. The officer needs training.

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    marshmallow May 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    In Newbrg, there were a group of kids slapping high fives to passing RTB’ers and shouting “get there by dinner.” There would be more cheering fans if townspeople knew the tour de france was coming through town and would help offset criticism. As such, it’s like the problems at Sunday Parkways where clueless residents wonder why there’s suddenly a horde of spandex blocking the roads.

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    Ticketed May 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Interesting debate. I was one of the “lucky” 15 who got a ticket. I approached the 4-way stop slowly and looked both ways before proceeding. The only thing I did wrong was not putting my foot down – I didn’t think that was a requirement. Also, I thought that office Stickler, who was standing in the middle of the intersection, was there to assist us cyclists in getting to the rest stop. I felt mislead as to what he was doing. I don’t think it is SOP for an officer to be located in the middle of an intersection unless directing traffic.

    Furthermore, the two officers on site did not ticket all riders who didn’t come to a complete stop. A large group approached the intersection, as I was waiting for my ticket, and the first few riders stopped and the rest followed without stopping. Because there were 10 of them they were let go with a warning.

    I am all for ticketing cyclists who break the laws, but pick an appropriate place to do so. Cherry picking riders at the rest stop by placing an officer in the dead center of the intersection seems a little like entrapment.

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      Andy May 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm

      I thought that if there is an officer is standing in the intersection you are to ignore the traffic control device/sign and follow direction from the officer. If that is where he was and you were ticketed, that does seem wrong. I’ll bet if you went through an intersection on a green light with an officer directing traffic in it who didn’t motion you on, you would get a ticket.

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      Dabby May 23, 2011 at 11:07 pm

      If he did not tell you what to do he was not there directing traffic.
      He was obviously there to catch you fools running the stop sign. And it appears he did.

      And in most places stopping on a bike legally actually requires you to put your foot down. You can argue it in court, but by law they can ticket you for it.

      Just pay it and drop it.

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        Mike Fish May 24, 2011 at 12:11 am

        I’m pretty sure you just have to come to a complete stop, whether your foot is down or not.

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        Chris I May 24, 2011 at 7:01 am

        Your knowledge of the law is impressive…

        Do you have to put your foot down in a car? No. The law is the same for bikes and for cars. Your wheels need to stop rotating (the scientific definition of “stopping” a vehicle, as the state law does not specify). You and this officer are both clueless.

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          Dabby May 24, 2011 at 11:55 am

          Your foot needs to be on the ground.

          In Portland it has been shown that track standing is a stop, but that is here.
          Is once again dumb to assume it is a legal stop anywhere else in Oregon or beyond.
          Because we know that it is not a legal stop.
          Especially when a police officer is STANDING IN THE ROAD in front of you!

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            Kristen May 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm

            Sorry, Dabby, but I believe you are incorrect.

            I have not found in the ORS or OARs that a cyclist must put their foot down at a stop sign. The law merely states that a motor vehicle or a bicycle must come to a complete stop.

            If it’s there, please cite it so I can learn something today.

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            Alan 1.0 May 24, 2011 at 2:23 pm

            I think this subthread has devolved to the distinction between what is written in Salem as opposed to how that law is enforced on the street. I’m pretty sure that Dabby has first-person experience with cops who want to see a foot go down even though that is not explicitly stated in the ORS.

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            colin May 24, 2011 at 3:53 pm

            I got ticketed for running a stop sign at Park and Mill streets in SW Portland and asked the officer if I need to put a foot down and was told no. He said that the motorcycle cops don’t put their foot down, they just slow way down and then continue. It may be different in Amity and as always it depends on the officer.

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      BicycleDave May 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      There is no requirement to put a foot down. Do you see people in Autos opening their doors and sticking their feet out at stop signs?

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        daisy May 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm

        Motorcycles are required to put their foot down and come to a complete stop.

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          Alan 1.0 May 24, 2011 at 2:50 pm

          That is how some cops enforce the law, but can you provide the actual ORS section which requires that?

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    captainkarma May 23, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Last time I rode RAGBRAI, 10000 riders rolled through all the stop signs and the only tickets were for the beer garden.

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      BURR May 23, 2011 at 6:27 pm

      RAGBRAI has its local detractors as well, and there has even been a movement started to ban cyclists from certain county roads in rural Iowa. IMO, these type of complaints typically come from locals for whom any out of the ordinary inconvenience is a cause for bellyaching, doubly so when it’s a bunch of ‘scofflaw’ cyclists all decked out in lycra

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    Charley May 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Bypass Amity, and don’t give it a second thought. If cyclists aren’t wanted there, they should drop their dollars elsewhere.

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      colin May 24, 2011 at 3:55 pm

      This isn’t a good solution. It really sounds like the ride organizers dropped the ball here. If they’d been warned in previous years about breaking traffic laws they really needed to either make it clear to the riders that laws needed to be followed or they needed to pay for traffic cops to block off streets.

      Say a Harley motorcycle group came through town every year and just decided that because there was so many of them they didn’t need to obey traffic laws. Where would you come down on them breaking the law?

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    why May 23, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Bikes on the road need to follow the same laws as cars. I believe this would happen. The event organizers need to take a permit out with the city and hire the police department to flag the stop signs to allow the riders to ride through it.

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    marshmallow May 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Did no one have a donut on hand?

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    Psyfalcon May 23, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    These little towns are well known for speed traps on their little slice of state highway. Some, like North Plains have that extended to bikes and stop signs.

    I’m not sure why people can’t manage to think, “I have left the farm fields behind, there little houses, I better pay extra attention to my speed/stop sign stopping.”

    Ride management should realize this and either work out traffic control, maybe remind people on the cue sheet, “PAY ATTENTION AND STOP” or route around as many problem areas as possible.

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    marshmallow May 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    North Plains was a problem because Chief Whitehead(who abruptly quit a few months ago) was forced by city council to ticket everybody to replenish funds being pilfered by the town’s clerk. She stole at least 200,000 yearly in cash from the ticket program, nearly half of its revenue, for a decade.

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    J- May 23, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    I was on the ride, I think it was ridiculous that they had a stop sign sting operation there. At the same time, if you are not aware enough of your surroundings to see a police officer and stop for a clearly posted sign, then you probably deserve a ticket. I did a trackstand at the sign and proceeded with no problem. But Jonathan’s point is right on about engaging proactively with the police and community.

    At the finish line the Pacific City police were there directing traffic and even closed off an auto travel lane to make it easier for riders to finish together. They also provided safety on the left turn across hwy 101. People collectively probably spent tens of thousands of dollars combined at restaurants and hotels in Pacific City over the weekend. In Amity, the event presence was just a stopping point located at the local school. I doubt any rider bought anything in Amity, as all the food was provided at rest stops. Clearly there was no coordination with the Amity police, and paying for their time for a few hours to direct traffic would have been money well spent for the organizers and build more goodwill int he community – and probably be less than the time and money that the participants will put into fighting these 15 tickets.

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      marshmallow May 23, 2011 at 7:02 pm

      Yeah, the lawyer has already declared holy war on Amity. Maybe the organizers should just pay Yamhill County sheriffs to marshall the ride since it passess through that county mostly.

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    notsurprised May 23, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    What the police chief seems to not understand is that some people just don’t like bikes, for whatever reason. All they need to see is a cyclist, and they’ll claim he/she didn’t stop. I can sit at a stop sign for hours and not see a single car come to a complete stop unless they have to wait for cross traffic. Otherwise they roll through. Anyone willing to look can see this at any intersection in your neighborhood. Not to mention the extremely rare person who actually drives below the speed limit. No, the complainers complaining for “days afterward” aren’t upset about cyclists running stop signs. They’re upset about cyclists period. Just enforce the law, and give tickets to people you actually observe breaking the law.

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      was carless May 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm

      Yeah, but we were outsiders. The residents are their constituents, who they must answer to.

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      Oliver May 24, 2011 at 8:12 am

      What the police chief “pretends” not to understand.

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    notsurprised May 23, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    A civilized policeman would have been directing traffic to ensure everyone made it safely and efficiently through the intersection, not giving everyone tickets.

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    daniel May 23, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Are there any cycling rides/groups that actually make a point to not break road laws?

    It seems to me that groups of riders always devolve into behaving at the level of the most dumberest, stop-sign running / jackass idiot / cycling newb within the group.

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      captainkarma May 23, 2011 at 11:43 pm

      The Ride of Silence downtown this past week attempted to obey all laws etc, so as to not give motorists any ammunition against a solemn event. However, it pretty much messed up the ride even though it was less than about 150 riders. No police help or hindrance encountered.

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    Lester May 23, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Chris I May 23, 2011 at 5:39 pm made an interesting point. I wonder how much of a backup would actually be created if everyone stopped. Seems like if 4 bikes per lane stopped then proceeded it wouldn’t be so bad, but hard telling without everyone trying it.

    If they used temporary paint to mark say two or three rows of staging rectangles for riders 4 across perhaps that would help. Much cheaper than manning intersections with police getting overtime. Advertise the stop sign protocol in the event materials.

    Just an idea.

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      was carless May 23, 2011 at 10:31 pm

      Since its technically illegal to ride 2 or more abreast, single-file cyclists would probably take 3+ hours for 3,000 cyclists to progress through a stop sign. Normal low-speed collector streets have a capacity of, I believe, less than 1,000 vehicles/hour. Stop signs would really jam things up.

      Ironically, having large bunches of cyclists just “go for it” in large groups offer the most efficient traffic flow: could you imagine driving a car and having 200+ cyclists in single-file line each individually stop at the stop sign? You would be there so long anyone would be pissed.

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        Charley May 24, 2011 at 12:16 am

        Right on. Now THAT would be annoying! This ride should do that next year. Then the police would hurry them through, just trying to get traffic moving through again.

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    Kevin Wagoner May 23, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Threatening a small city into bankruptcy is rather ridiculous.

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      marshmallow May 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm

      I agree. Ticket everyone and the organizers next year. They obviously promoted stop sign running. Let’s see how ridiculous it can really get.

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      Alan 1.0 May 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm

      Yes, and laughable in this case, but it is excellent for enhancing the perception of cyclists as whiny, self-entitled elitists. I hope that guy isn’t representative of OBRA.

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    sabernar May 23, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Damn. What a bunch of crybabies. (I’m referring to the cyclists.)

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    PeacePlease May 23, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    I was there and saw the officers giving out the tickets. I understand their point of view (ie there is a law and everyone must follow) however $317 is way too much.

    What about a warning on the first offense and a ticket if it happens again?

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    Mark Hashizume May 23, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Good Sport Promotion is the ride organizer. Jonathan Maus have you contacted them on this?

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 23, 2011 at 9:30 pm

      Yes, Good Sport is contracted by the ALA to organize the ride and yes I contacted them. They referred me to the ALA CEO whom I quoted in the story. If warranted, I can have a more lengthy discussion with Renee Klein to hear more from ALA’s perspective (I spoke to her only briefly for this article).

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        Mark Hashizume May 24, 2011 at 8:02 am

        I think that is passing the buck by Good Sport since they are the ones responsible for setting up the route, easing the way of the bicyclists which would mean to me they would be responsible in insuring good traffic control and relations with the locals – law enforcement and the residents.

        Plus if this was so much a problem, especially in Amity, I would expect Good Sport would be emphasizing that to all of us riders before and during the ride which they did not.

        At Monster Cookie, we had local police direct traffic at key intersections where they would stop car traffic and wave us through stop signs.

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    Dabby May 23, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Suck it up Buttercup and pay the tickets.

    Sound like they should have written up about a thousand of them, not to mention fines for the organizers.

    Perhaps you should sign up for a ride that properly takes care of crossings and intersections?

    Perhaps you should stop at the sign/ light regardless of what the masses are doing?

    We ( you know it is true, we all California stop all over the place) do not always fully stop at stop signs and lights.
    Not in a car and not on our bikes. We know when we are doing it, we make that choice.

    But we are always liable for our choices, so pay the damn tickets and drop it.

    So stupid to think since you are on a big ride with so many people you are above the law.

    So dumb….

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    shirtsoff May 23, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    brewcaster
    I drive the speed limit. What makes you say I don’t?

    That’s not what I saw a few weeks ago.

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    Mike Fish May 24, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Sounds like the organizers have some logistical work to do. Definitely sounds like the police were being pains in the butt though.

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    JJJ May 24, 2011 at 1:22 am

    brewcaster
    I drive the speed limit. What makes you say I don’t?

    You mean the same speed limit sent by the 85 percentile rule?

    Why not use the same logic when it comes to bikes and stop signs? If 85% of cyclists do not stop, then the law should be changed.

    Just like with cars!

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    Tourbiker May 24, 2011 at 2:05 am

    Something you deal with when you ride distances.
    not every town is as bike friendly as PDX.
    Just the same, It would be a classy move for all those ticketed to show at court at the same time.
    Have a chat with the judge..or better yet, the ride organizers collect bails and appear on their behalf.
    If the town is genuinely concerned, or merely wanting to “stick it” to cyclists as some of you believe, It will show in how they administer.

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    Harald May 24, 2011 at 4:32 am

    VanWaCx
    We can try to lay blame here and find traction in more than a few places. But that isn’t going to do anything to address the gulf between cyclists and non-cyclists. If the police chief wanted to use his resources in an effective manner, laying a stop sign trap was rather ineffective. Outreach and prevention would have been much better.

    Excuse me, but did you even read the article? There was a whole lot of outreach and prevention done by the organizers, but that didn’t seem to have much impact on rider behavior.

    Each year the event coordinators instruct the riders to obey the traffic laws. Each year we have tried to educate the riders as they pass through our community. And, every year the laws are ignored. This year was no different, except that officers attempted to educate the riders by issuing traffic tickets since all other attempts to educate the riders have failed.

    And with regard to effectiveness: don’t you think next year’s rider will think twice before blasting/slowly riding through that stop sign again? I sure would.

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      Chris I May 24, 2011 at 7:06 am

      I take issue with the article and your blind allegiance to the idea that riders were notified. Please take a look at the website:
      http://action.lungusa.org/site/TR/BikeTrek/ALAMP_Mountain_Pacific?sid=1074&type=fr_informational&pg=informational&fr_id=3050

      As a rider in this event, I can tell you that we had no special notice about stop signs in podunk towns. I’m not saying that we need them, but the idea that they were warning people is completely false.

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        are May 24, 2011 at 7:48 am

        jonathan quotes the police chief as saying the ride organizers were notified. whether the ride organizers notified the riders is another question to which i do not see jonathan implying an answer yet.

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        Paul May 24, 2011 at 8:02 am

        Sorry but you should look at the site again, it said in there that riders should follow all applicable traffic laws on the rider packet, — That includes stopping at stop signs (it was small print, but you are responsible for reading it)
        Maybe you are not aware in this state, Bicycles are considered vehicles and must stop if on a charity ride or not, unless a cop or safety person waves you through.

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        Dabby May 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm

        As a participant it is your responsibility to read the packet and obey all laws, whether the people next to you are or not.

        I would bet a wad of cash that it clearly says in the packet to obey laws and stop at stop signs.

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    ron May 24, 2011 at 5:49 am

    Inbreeders complaining about people on bikes….

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    efairlay May 24, 2011 at 5:54 am

    We should obey the laws. We should also get together to pass the Idaho Stop Law.

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    jonny a May 24, 2011 at 6:43 am

    brewcaster
    I drive the speed limit. What makes you say I don’t?

    that’s hilarious. As soon as you drive a block in a car you’ve almost certainly violated at least 3 laws. take your self righteous crap elsewhere.

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      Brewcaster May 24, 2011 at 8:11 am

      I don’t understand how this is true. But in the same vein as the argument here, if I were to break the speed limit or roll a stop sign, I would not be bitching about receiving a ticket if caught. Man up.

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    Shelley May 24, 2011 at 6:59 am

    I was on the ride. I passed through Amity without ever seeing a police officer but got lots of “Good Mornings” and friendly waves from people watching the ride from their front yards or on their porches with morning coffee.

    Riding back through on Sunday, I stopped and spent money at two businesses there… Both talked about how happy they are that their town is part of such a great event. One of them even told me about other rides that pass through Amity during the summer in hopes that I would want to come again. Apparently, they open their business early (or stay open late) to make sure the cyclists feel welcome in spending their money with them.

    The “bad cyclist running rampant through town” doesn’t seem to be the picture held by the businesses who cater to all the new customers the ride brings to this tiny little town.

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    Paul May 24, 2011 at 7:26 am

    I was on that ride as well, and I saw way too many people not obeying the rules that Reach the Beach organizers told people to obey. So If you ran a stop sign and were ticketed, you have no one to blame but yourself.

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    Joe May 24, 2011 at 7:51 am

    I question the 15 tickets. I saw at least ten while waiting for mine. I saw police standing in an intersection as riders rolled through. I assumed they were directing traffic as they were elsewhere on the route, so I rolled through, slowly, in a large group. They picked me out of the group to receive a ticket. I saw one rider stop, track stand for a fraction of a second, then roll through. He was ticketed. Yes, if I blow through a stop, I deserve a ticket. But police are standing in the intersection with significant bike traffic congestion, directing riders where to go (off to the side to receive a ticket, not through the intersection, but I didn’t know that), it’s reasonable to assume they were directing traffic through the intersection.

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    single track May 24, 2011 at 7:59 am

    to everyone that got a ticket, LOOK for the cop before you blow a stop sign. you have yourselves to blame, regardless of whether you were in an organized ride. You ultimately control yourself and dictate whether to receive a ticket.
    ps- i roll stops too, just not in front of 5-0

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    Brett M May 24, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Let’s look at this another way. What if the ‘event’ in question were a motorcycle rally or, say, an antique car rally. Just because it is an organized event with a large group of people that happen to share a similar passion (albeit engine related instead of bicycle related in this example), should the laws be waived for them? If you were biking through an area and had a group of 100 or so vehicles roll through a stop sign in front of you, wouldn’t you be upset by their display of entitlement?

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      q`Tzal May 24, 2011 at 8:57 am

      There is no rule other than mob rule.

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      Alan 1.0 May 24, 2011 at 10:26 am

      Brett M
      Let’s look at this another way. What if the ‘event’ in question were a motorcycle rally or, say, an antique car rally. Just because it is an organized event with a large group of people that happen to share a similar passion (albeit engine related instead of bicycle related in this example), should the laws be waived for them?

      Yes, of course, in accordance with the terms of the permit that the event organizer obtained in advance. With eight years of RTB history with Amity and 3000 riders registered for the event, why didn’t Good Sport Promotion obtain such a permit?

      BTW, if Amity was strictly interested in “educat[ing] the riders” as Chief Brown says, as opposed to funding its own coffers, the judge could accept payment of the traffic fines to ALA in lieu of to the city.

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    are May 24, 2011 at 8:30 am

    while it would be good if the ride organizer would make a point of encouraging participants to comport themselves as good neighbors to the people whose space they are invading, there will always be some level of noncompliance. people are on average selfish and inconsiderate. the number of people who may have actually complained to the local government may or may not be small, but there are some number of small businesses who apparently appreciated the additional traffic.

    in any event the more productive response would have been to get a permit and engage the police as route marshals. instead, now you have a handful of riders who are pissed off at the ride organizers, and you have the possibility that the ride may route elsewhere in the future. nobody wins. yes, it would cost a bit more to get the permit and the police coverage, but you would not have this p.r. debacle.

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    Greg May 24, 2011 at 8:48 am

    I wonder how the folks in Amity would feel if every individual cyclist actually did come to a full and complete stop at the intersection? That would cork the streets for hours and would function more like a critical mass event.

    Sometimes we have to exercise judgement and actually set the laws aside in favor of common sense. It is a small mind indeed that harps incessantly about following the rules when the rules are counter productive.

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      Oliver May 24, 2011 at 8:59 am

      The same way anti-labor types react when a union decides to follow all the safety rules for a set period of time. Outrage.

      You can bet your last dollar that compliance at this stop sign next year will be higher among a certain set of folks. You can then double down your winnings that the same people will still be complaining about scofflaw cyclists running stop signs, riding 3 abreast and wearing lycra.

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      Alan 1.0 May 24, 2011 at 10:32 am

      Greg
      I wonder how the folks in Amity would feel if every individual cyclist actually did come to a full and complete stop at the intersection?

      And don’t forget that traffic law requires that all preceding vehicles must clear the intersection before the next vehicle can enter from behind the stop line.

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    Chris May 24, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Id say this, If a group of bikers are pissing off a town, or people, it just creates more angry car drivers on the road. I just watched a Critical Mass Video from New York where a bike courier with a broken leg is heckling the Critical Mass group because she feels they are not sharing the road, and she got ran off the road after a Critical Mass event by an angry driver…. It’s sobering to watch.

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    mark kenseth May 24, 2011 at 9:15 am

    How about they call it a funeral procession?

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    everybodyiswrong May 24, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I am a bike commuter and masters (older) racer on the road and track. I really….really…really hate it when other cyclists ignore traffic laws because I’m on the road a lot and I feel vulnerable to the road rage of motorists who have been angered by the behavior of other cyclists. That being said, I really can’t understand how anyone can stand up for this police officer. Any good cop faced with a situation in which a large number of vehicles of any type were backed up at a stop sign would jump in to direct traffic to make the public more safe, not stand there ignoring the intersection while he writes tickets. This cop made a mistake. I’m sympathetic to the riders who say they thought the cop was there to direct traffic at the intersection and make it safe, and not to write tickets. But I DO NOT condone running stops signs on a bike. I am probably on the roads a lot more than those charity riders and I have to put up with the aftermath of bad will you create. So, everybody is a bit wrong here. OK?

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      Ticketed May 24, 2011 at 9:43 am

      I think you are spot on – “So, everybody is a bit wrong here. OK?”

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      are May 24, 2011 at 3:34 pm

      judging from the chief’s letter, the individual officer writing the tickets was acting on instructions

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    Merlin May 24, 2011 at 9:50 am

    The reality is that if you go to ANY organized ride in the country (charity or otherwise), riders will roll through stop signs. No argument about right/wrong – it just works that way.
    Either deny access to your town, put officers at the intersections to control traffic, or let it slide.
    Otherwise you have hard feelings on both sides when everyone should have seen it coming.
    Sadly there are people who are afraid someone, somewhere is having a good time and want to do anything possible to stop it!

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    fredlf May 24, 2011 at 10:09 am

    The root of the problem is that, as we all know, it is faster, easier and, especially, SAFER to trackstand/slowly roll through a stop sign without putting your foot down. It is rational, reasonable behavior that is contradicted by the exact letter of the law.

    It comes down to spirit of the law vs. letter of the law. If you approach an intersection cautiously, slowly and safely, fully prepared to come to a complete stop in an instant, you are following the spirit of the law. This is exactly what most people do, in cars or on bikes. Most reasonable cops, at least if they’re not out to prove a point, accept this. Hell, I’ve seen cops slowly roll through stops just like almost EVERYBODY does.

    The Amity cops I saw and interacted with were not there to ensure safety or the smooth operation of the streets. They were there to make a statement, which I took to be “We think cyclists are self-entitled scofflaws and we’re going to punish them.”

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    GreggB May 24, 2011 at 10:18 am

    So, where’s the tickets for floats, parade-goers, prosteters, and public demonstrators? Or, do we have a double-standard here?

    Reach The Beach, like parades, protests, public demonstrations, and other scheduled events, have a known and simply unavoidable mob/public behavior pattern…sounds to me like the police failed to appropriately respond, and as a result, failed to enable safe passage for these cyclists during this planned and scheduled event. All while attempting to pad their precinct’s bank account. How sad that the Amity police department have contributed in such a negative way to what’s otherwise a wonderfully positive event.

    Until this police department corrects their wrongs, I will now avoid Amity for business or pleasure, by car, bike, or foot.

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    random_rider May 24, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I was on the ride. The intersection where this sting operation happened was in a very quiet, low key residential area different than those in much of Portland. I saw no moving vehicles, there weren’t any cars parked anywhere near the intersections and visibility down the side streets was unimpeded. I was with a group of about 12 other riders when we came up to the stop sign and was just a hair behind the person in front. We rolled to almost a complete stop, looked both ways and then proceeded at no more than 5 mph. There was a blast from the police car “air horn” and a female officer came literally running into the midst of us yelling for the lead rider to pull over. The rest of us continued on feeling confused about what happened.

    The school in Amity is the main lunch stop, so pretty much all riders stop there. It wasn’t until after talking to others that I found out why they had pulled people over. I question whether they really only wrote 15 tickets and, if I was one of the riders ticketed or a blogger, would make a freedom of information request to find out if that is correct.

    Now, all that said, I’m not in any way arguing that the police did not have the authority to do what they did. The rules are very clear about coming to a complete stop. However, for them to set this up in a location where it was not at all a safety hazard on the day of this huge ride makes it seem as if they were either power-tripping or looking to make Reach the Beach a fundraiser for the Amity PD as well as the American Lung Association. I don’t see any public benefit served by it and it has certainly generated a lot of ill will unnecessarily.

    With that out of the way, I have to say I was disappointed in a lot of other ways that some riders comported themselves. There were empty Gu energy packets on the road the entire way. One or two could be an accidental drop but there were enough of the same brand that I have to assume someone was deliberately dropping them. Also, there were many sections of the ride with narrow lanes, none or tiny shoulders and two way traffic. Most of the riders I saw either stuck towards the right or, if they were traveling abreast with others, moved to the right when cars approached from behind. A few times There were a few cases where I saw two or even three riders fill the entire lane and make no effort whatsoever to move over and allow cars to pass.

    In other words, out of a race with a few thousand participants, there were some individuals, including bicyclists and some auto drivers, who acted either illegally or discourteously. However, the only coordinated effort I saw to that effect was the Amity PD who decided to make a very unfriendly display of their authority.

    Overall it was a great ride with good weather through gorgeous areas. I hope that in future years people of all stripes make more of an effort to be good representatives of the groups they are associated with.

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    Aaron Brown May 24, 2011 at 10:31 am

    I’m sure it won’t matter from a legal perspective, but it might change my opinion of who was “in the wrong”:

    does anyone know the intersection/location of where they were ticketed? I’d be interested to look on Google Street View and see if this was a minor little street and the tickets were given on absurd technicality or if the bicyclists’ running of the stop sign was actually in a prominent location that endangered themselves/others.

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    Mark Hashizume May 24, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I wonder why my comments were deleted? Was it because I mentioned the Good Sport Promotions as the ride organizer?

    — Mark, Your comments have not been deleted. — Jonathan Maus

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    brian May 24, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Brovo Chief Brown. Thanks for enforcing the law.

    To all you complainers out there, If you don’t want to be be bothered with the rule of law please move somewhere where there is none. I think you will find the quality of life in those places wonderful.

    I’ve ridden/run plenty for races where permits were obtained, and stop signs where not an issue. People should understand what is required of them when entering an event.

    Take some responsibility people.

    If you got a ticket after stopping. Take it up with the courts.

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      Alan 1.0 May 24, 2011 at 11:20 am

      I’ve ridden/run plenty for races where permits were obtained, and stop signs where not an issue.

      Bingo.

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    Ethan May 24, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Free the AMITY 15!

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    WokkerK May 24, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Im glad to see a little enforcement of traffic laws on bicyclists. More than often it seems that riders feel that they are above the traffic laws. This would include right of way, signaling, as well as red-lights and stop signs. Maybe this only happened because it was during a large ride, but I hope that this article will shed some light and bring awareness to riders everywhere. They are called traffic laws, not automobile laws.

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    CS May 24, 2011 at 11:21 am

    While I don’t think that bicycle stings are smart or effective in general, the Amity police certainly have every right to ticket people who are actually breaking the law. Hopefully, this will lead to some good discussion between the ride organizers and the city of Amity that will lead to a real solution – probably having it be a police controlled intersection. Even if we disagree with the act of the sting, this is a good opportunity for the event organizers and the cyclists participants, to step up, be the bigger people and find a real solution that addresses the concerns of the city. That is good PR for cyclists.

    But expecting every participant to come to an individual complete stop at the stop sign is not a real solution. That is just not realistic. And sorry to the 15 people ticketed who are the scapegoats that have to pay for this discussion. But as pointed out before, if you broke the law in front of a cop, you kinda gotta own it. (Unless you didn’t actually break the law, then best wishes in fighting it).

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    John Howe May 24, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Team Beer got to “the stop” sign just after the incident, we all stopped! So I am guessing the cops wanted all 2/3 thousand people on bikes to single file through this stop sign in a town of 1500 people? That’s a great idea!
    The cops were sitting there getting paid, why not wave people through? The rest stop was RIGHT there! I say skip Amity! Or we all line up single file and block traffic in that town while we ALL stop, look and listen!
    This is a fundeaiser! Most of these people are not avid cyclists! Riding 100 miles in sneakers on 40lb moutian bikes, they will probably skip it next year!
    I had a blast! Will do it again next year!
    Remember when a cyclist makes a bad decision, like running a stop sign they can be killed! When a driver makes a bad decision they can kill cyclists too!

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    marshmallow May 24, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Other rides are put on by bicycle clubs. This one was done by Good Sports Promotion, a for-profit company, contracting for the American Lung Association, a nonprofit. Was the Amity high school payed? What percentage of fees and funds does Good Sports Promotion keep? Why wasn’t there a big box of donuts for the cops at the corner? Follow the money.

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    cappie May 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Oregon has always been jackass stubborn “not” to look at other states that have already “been there done that” regarding similar topics. If – the failing of the “Idaho no stop law” for bicycles had not failed in Oregon last year – this topic would not even exist. This incident should stay fresh in every ones mind the next time when the “no stop bill” comes up. Before the flaming starts – do your home work first about the Idaho safety stats. Average people don’t die because they slow down and roll through a stop sign. The idiots will.

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    John May 24, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I volunteer with the ride and because of that have an opportunity to see what goes into organizing the ride.
    The roads aren’t closed so the cyclists are expected to obey traffic laws and not ride 2-4 abreast.
    I’m out on the course as part of my volunteering and riders seem reluctant to ride single file even after I hear a rider calling “car back”.
    The riders were told to obey traffic laws, and law enforcement were instructed to write tickets as necessary to rider that broke laws.
    What will happen if riders can’t be considerate and share the road with normal car traffic is that ODOT won’t issue the permit for the ride and there will be no ride. From what I heard, ODOT is getting more reluctant to issue the permit because of riders riding 4 abreast and restricting the ability of cars to pass. Traffic citations are up to local law enforcement.
    “Share the Road” works both ways.

    Good Sport Promotion does a lot of work to make the ride successful. Most riders don’t see the people making sure that direction arrows are in place, and more added when a turn is missed. And the effort they go through to ensure that each rest stop stay supplied with snacks and electrolytes. And not to mention the meetings they have with each community in order for the ride to pass through it.

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    commonsenseplease? May 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Put yourself in the shoes of the police officer. You see hundreds if not thousands of cyclists approaching your town. You have are responsible for the safety of the roads in your town, and you are concerned so you decide not to ignore the situation, but to act instead. Do you a) find the most dangerous intersection and direct the flow of traffic so that it is as smooth, efficient, and safe as possible for everyone? or do you b) wait passively for some of the cyclists to roll through the stop sign and then give out 15 tickets? Think about that. What would you do? It seems to me that, confronted with those choices, the only way you could choose option a would be if you were a really bad cop with extraordinarily poor judgment, or you simply hate bicycles and you are eager for the opportunity to get even with them. I don’t support disobeying traffic laws in any way. But I think that if you imagine yourself in the role of the cyclist, approaching the intersection in a group of, say, 10, that if the 10 of you stop or come almost completely to a stop, some in front and some in back, that the group would then proceed when the intersection is clear. And I highly doubt that any of you would think that you had just acted like an entitled, elitist, snobby, scofflaw cyclist.

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      Frog May 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      I respectfully disagree. I would ticket the cyclists. For all this debate there is a simple truth here: the ONLY way to get people to obey the law is to provide them with an incentive for doing so.

      Every morning when I ride to work I see cyclists blowing through major intersections. Would a car do that? Maybe a “rolling stop” (illegal, yes) on a quiet street but at a major intersection? Hell no, too expensive. One good example: crossing Interstate after moving through the Rose Quarter transit center. Its so bad, that when I stop at that sign I risk getting hit from behind by a cyclist oh-so-eager to save that extra ten seconds. I say ticket all of them. One $300 ticket and the cyclist will kick and scream and whine on here… but next time they will also stop, dammit. its the only way… fine the crap out of them. And I am a year round bike commuter.

      I have to say as an aside… winter riders are so much more respectful and calm than the summer variety.

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        commonsenseplease? May 24, 2011 at 4:23 pm

        But the point here isn’t to get law breaking folks to obey the law. I don’t think we had mass law breakers here. Rather, we had folks with reasonable confusion as to the role the police officer was playing standing in the middle of the intersection. If I were a cop, and there were no special event going on, and I happened to see a cyclist blow a stop sign, I would give them a ticket. Because I hate hate HATE cyclists who blow stop signs. But…BUT if I’m the same cop and I am on duty in Amity during RTB…I get out and start directing traffic. I don’t open my ticket book.

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    ignorancewasbliss May 24, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Where are people getting these ideas that bicyclists should not ride more than an arbitrary # abreast in Oregon? I know this may be the case in some states, but I can’t find anything in the O.R.S. about it. If the lane is narrow (or of many other factors as listed in O.R.S. 814.430) asserting the lane is the right thing to do.

    The majority of the officers standing in intersections at Sunday parkways last weekend were not directing bicycle traffic, therefore I obeyed the lights and signs as they were not disabled for the event.

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      Kristen May 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm

      ORS 814.430 (Improper use of lanes; exceptions; penalty) 2 e says:

      When operating a bicycle along side NOT MORE THAN ONE OTHER BICYCLE as long as the bicycles are both being operated within a single lane and in a manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

      (emphasis mine) Found here:

      http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/docs/bike_ped_statutes_2008.pdf

      Oregon state law says that you can ride next to one other cyclist only so long as you are both in the same lane and are not impeding the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

      Ergo: riding 4 across and not allowing traffic behind you to pass is illegal. I’m not a lawyer but that’s what I get out of that.

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      Alan 1.0 May 24, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      ignorancewasbliss
      Where are people getting these ideas that bicyclists should not ride more than an arbitrary # abreast in Oregon?

      814.430 Improper use of lanes; exceptions; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person does not ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.

      (2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:

      (a) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle that is proceeding in the same direction.

      (b) When preparing to execute a left turn.

      (c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side. Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.

      (d) When operating within a city as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of a roadway that is designated to allow traffic to move in only one direction along the roadway. A bicycle that is operated under this paragraph is subject to the same requirements and exceptions when operating along the left curb or edge as are applicable when a bicycle is operating along the right curb or edge of the roadway.

      (e) When operating a bicycle alongside not more than one other bicycle as long as the bicycles are both being operated within a single lane and in a manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

      (f) When operating on a bicycle lane or bicycle path.

      * * *

      811.425 Failure of slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of failure of a slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle if the person is driving a vehicle and the person fails to move the person’s vehicle off the main traveled portion of the highway into an area sufficient for safe turnout when:

      (a) The driver of the overtaken vehicle is proceeding at a speed less than a speed established in ORS 811.105 as prima facie evidence of violation of the basic speed rule;

      (b) The driver of the overtaking vehicle is proceeding at a speed in conformity with ORS 811.105;

      (c) The highway is a two directional, two-lane highway; and

      (d) There is no clear lane for passing available to the driver of the overtaking vehicle.

      (2) This section does not apply to the driver of a vehicle in a funeral procession.

      (3) The offense described in this section, failure of a slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle, is a Class B traffic violation.

      * * *

      IANAL but it looks to me as though 811.425(2)(e) “alongside not more than one” means no more than two abreast, and that 814.430(2)(c) reference ORS 811.425 which pretty clearly says slow vehicles must yield. There might be some question about “area sufficient for safe turnout” but FRAP’ing pretty much rules out side-by-side.

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    A May 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I will no longer participate or offer my support to RTB again unless organizers get intersection monitors to avoid these situations and changes the route to avoid travel through Amity.
    The officer being in the middle of the intersection was misleading and dangerous with that many riders

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    commonsenseplease? May 24, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I will add that I rode in the worst day of the year ride last year with my daughter (then 12). As an avid cycling family, I’ve preached to them about following the traffic laws since they were riding in the trailer. Unfortunately, the type of rider that “worst day” draws seems to be a hipster, urbanite crowd of johnny come lately cyclists who simply haven’t spent the last 30 years of their lives commuting by bicycle. We sat at an intersection where we had a stop sign and the cross traffic didn’t while dozens of riders blew through, forcing the auto traffic to stop. The stream continued while my daughter and I stood there waiting. People came up behind us and swerved around, annoyed at us sitting at the stop sign on our bikes. When the bike traffic cleared, I waved to the cars to go, but they hesitated, thinking I would do what the other cyclists did. They hesitated too long because then another group came through. I was ashamed to be a cyclist. My daughter kept looking at me saying “shouldn’t we go dad? Everybody else is. Look, the cars are waiting for us”. I kept saying “they have the right of way, we’ll go when it is our turn.”

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      Chris I May 24, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      They have the right of way, but they can choose to yield it to you. I understand that you were setting an example, but when traffic is stopped and yielding to you, why not proceed?

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        commonsenseplease? May 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm

        The cars were backed up for blocks. They were clearly frustrated but didn’t want to hurt anyone, and confused by the unpredictable behavior. I for one, was not going to join the mob.

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    esther c May 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Obviously the solution for a mass ride like this is traffic control at intersections, not every one of 3,000 bikes stopping at every stop sign.

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    daisy May 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    helmet cam footage please.

    Were there signs indicating that it was a “red camera intersection”? Pretty sure that there is signage requirements. The 15 tickets maybe only the ones that were issued that day and that others will be coming as they view the footage and identify the ones where information was taken but no citation was issued….yet.

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    Dan Kaufman May 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Sounds like another shocking story of outlaw cyclists attempting to take over a small town and how the chief stands them down.

    If only Marlon Brando was alive to play the role lead troublemaker with his gang of jazzed up hoodlums.

    It might look a little something like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUPh7XWoq7Q

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    marshmallow May 24, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    A number of RTB riders are lawyers and that’s what may cause Amity’s city council and mayor to reign in on the chief’s ticketing. What city wants to pay potentially 100’s of thousands in legal bills to fight against a potential class action slew of angry cyclists and their army of lawyers? The chief may be right, but at what financial cost to the town? Those with the money make the rules.

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    Crystal May 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I experience cyclists all summer long. It seems like when it comes to smaller towns, they act as if rules don’t apply to them. People crying about a ticket for breaking the law?? Really? Had you been hit while flying through a stop sign, you would be blaming the car!! You don’t have to pay insurance or taxes for that bike, so stop acting like you own the roads and obey the law!

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      marshmallow May 24, 2011 at 2:48 pm

      Go make me a sammich!

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    random_rider May 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I haven’t seen anyone here saying that the police did not have legal authority to write tickets to cyclists who did not come to a complete stop. My point is that it was a poor use of resources that did nothing to improve public safety.

    I tried to find the intersection in GoogleMaps and am pretty sure it was on Oak around 3rd, but I can’t be sure since they don’t have street view for that area, which is an indication of how lightly trafficked it is. Setting up a sting at this location, while legal, was simply punitive. It was the equivalent of ticketing cars driving 3 miles over the speed limit in a 35 mph zone or signaling a turn 95′ before an intersection instead of the required 100′.

    So no, I’m not saying bikes are immune to traffic laws, but any type of vehicular enforcement should have a benefit. Heck, if they had set up the sting a few blocks away (where there actually were cars driving) they probably would have had cause to stop motor vehicles for either not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign or stopping with the front of their vehicle encroaching into the intersection by a few inches.

    It’s a matter of common sense and in this case the Amity PD did not display any.

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    Christine May 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Do you people realize how many intersections there are on a 100 mile bike ride? And the police payment to man them like they do in parades or marathons? Are you going to pay for that cost? Follow the rules of the road and then the people who put on the ride don’t have to pay for you to break the law, and I’m sure that would be a huge cost.

    and while it may be legal to ride 4-abreast, I find that I prefer to share the road and ride respectfully, so I won’t be doing that when there are cars or other bikers or superfast runners or motorcycles behind me. it’s just rude.

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      commonsenseplease? May 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      You wouldn’t have police at every intersection on a ride like that. Only those the ones like those right next to rest stop/feeding areas where there tends to be congestion.

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        Christine May 24, 2011 at 5:19 pm

        street closures are really complex, if the roads are closed, they need to be manned so cars don’t drive through the signs – that’s how it is in America for street closures

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    esther c May 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    A much better use of their police resource, instead of ticketing would have been to control the intersection. Put an officer there to alternate traffic.

    But instead of controlling traffic and safety, their priority was playing gotcha with cyclists who didn’t stop.

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    random_rider May 24, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I think the point that is often being missed here is that this intersection did not need controlling. It is a very open, low/no traffic neighborhood with clear sight lines and nary a motorist around.

    The sting was either for harassment or revenue generation.

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    marshmallow May 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    I liked how Newbrg was openly advertising and supportive of Reach the Beach on their official town website. That town should be commended: http://www.newbergoregon.gov/newberg/reach-beach-2011

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    peejay May 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Yuck! I’m staying away from this thread.

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    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    And with that, I’m officially closing the comments on this story. Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences. Stay tuned for follow-ups if developments warrant.

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