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Reach the Beach rider fumes over mass ticketing in Amity

Posted by on May 23rd, 2011 at 12:33 pm

The email below came from a participant in Reach the Beach, a large charity event ride that took place throughout Oregon on Saturday. I’m looking into the story now.

“There was a police operation in Amity during Reach The Beach where a cop was attempting to ticket hundreds of us for running a stop sign. His methods and tactics varied throughout the day and the group I was in got away with a warning after a lengthy detention. I did hear that some of you got tickets.

This officer was telling entire groups of riders that they had to “stop and get out your ID’s, you are going to get tickets.” As other riders arrived he was busy writing tickets and arguing. He was not observing any of the arriving riders as they went through the intersection, yet they were also told to “stop” and prepare to be ticketed. When people from these later arriving groups protested that they had in fact stopped he advised them “the camera would sort it out later.” When later arriving riders attempted to continue down the road, two other cops physically blocked them and told them to stop. These people were all illegally detained because the officer had no reason to believe they did anything wrong. He was not watching the intersection at that point, and these stopped riders numbered in the hundreds and were detained for various periods of time.

If he actually saw you run the sign he is entitled to stop you, write a ticket, etc… But this was not the practice he was employing when I was present.

In addition to this, a female officer way yelling at us that we were “not riding single file.” This was in neighborhood block where we were backed up for 40 yards shoulder to shoulder because of their ticketing operation.

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. I am curious as to how many of you got tickets or were detained for lengthy periods of time?

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22 Comments
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    Andrew Seger May 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Ugh Amity sucks. I seem to recall they give tons of tickets where I-5 slows down to 40 and then nab drivers as they speed up to 55 again.

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      El Biciclero May 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      I don’t think I-5 goes through Amity, and I also don’t think the speed limit is ever lower than 50 (e.g., through the Terwilliger Curves).

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    Andrew Seger May 23, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Sorry 99! Nonetheless they’re pretty infamous for this sort of behavior. Nice to see them treating cars and bikes the same way.

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    Bryan Dorr May 23, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    That’s going to be one busy courtroom, especially for those who were wrongly ticketed.

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    fredlf May 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    We ran into that female cop. She had blocked most of the road with her cop car while she ticketed someone (with bike racks) who had parked facing the wrong way. There was no traffic other than the many dozens of bikes rolling into the rest stop. Since there was a cop right there, I did a milliseconds track stand at the Stop and proceeded. I believe my wife did the same thing. The cop sounded her horn and yelled at us to come back, saying we had to “come to a complete stop, just like a car.” My wife said, “you mean, put your foot down?”. The cop said “yes”. She (the cop) screamed at us that this was “our last warning”. She was so angry she was visibly trembling.
    We both said “thank you” and rode on to the rest stop, swearing to never visit or spend a dollar in Amity ever again.

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      Don May 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm

      I like the “just like a car” comparison.

      Unless cross traffic has come to a complete bumper-to-bumper jam to where moving forward is impossible, I don’t believe I have ever, in my entire life, seen a car actually come to a complete stop at a Stop sign.

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      wsbob May 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm

      I’m glad you and your wife didn’t get a ticket. Years back, I lived out in Newberg, but never had occasion to learn much about Amity. I know it’s a small town on the way to the coast. How small? Wikipedia has a page with some info about the town. Population from the 2007 Census: 1,480 residents. Small towns and small town life are very important to Oregon. It’s wrong to go and make nasty assumptions about their enforcement procedures and actions before knowing the actual reasons behind them.

      In terms of them having much of a sense of calm and tranquility, for it’s motor vehicle traffic, 99W is a kind of plague to any town situated directly alongside it. In contrast, a lot of slower, quieter, no pollutant issuing cyclists coming through town should be a blessing.

      Maus writes above that he’s looking into the story. I’ll be very interested to read what he finds out from town leaders and event organizers about what kind of advance notice the town had about the bike event coming into town. This incident with the tickets sounds like something that went all wrong. Find out what instructions the lady cop was left with for responding to cyclists not stopping at stop signs in town. Doesn’t sound like the ticketed cyclists were the only one that didn’t have a very fun day.

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        Ken May 26, 2011 at 11:44 am

        Have you ever been to the Amity police department and city court?

        It’s about the size of a walk-in closet.

        No chairs. Just a counter. With a cash register.

        It exists to do nothing but extort money out of people driving through.

        It’s just a cash register.

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      spare_wheel May 24, 2011 at 7:49 am

      Thank you????
      I just want to point out that flipping off a police officer is legally protected free speech.

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        fredlf May 24, 2011 at 10:15 am

        I went with sarcasm. She was already agitated enough.

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      Mike May 24, 2011 at 11:20 pm

      It’s about time someone stood up to these arrogant, blatant and dangerous lawbreakers! Hooray for Amity’s guts! I have had many very close calls on 30 when bikes just don’t feel they have to follow the rules — I would like to see licensing and trackable tags on every bike.

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    wsbob May 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    If the town does have a camera documenting the stop sign area, and ride organizers didn’t contact and work with the city of Amity prior to the ride to make arrangements for cyclists participating in the event to roll through the stop sign, the cop probably is entitled to issue a valid ticket to any cyclist that shows up on the red light camera tape.

    Before jumping to conclusions about what the cop did or didn’t have a right to do, perhaps ask what Reach the Beach organizers did or didn’t do to work with town leaders in order to allow for an extraordinary mass of cyclists to pass through this small town’s stop signs. A few volunteer people directing traffic, authorized by and event organizers and the city to do so, could probably have avoided this situation.

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    wsbob May 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    That is: “… any cyclist that shows up on the red light camera tape…rolling the stop sign. “

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    Alan 1.0 May 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Yes, the ride organizers should have done much more to liase the situation in all jurisdictions they pass through, and granted that the Amity cops were not acting in anyone’s best interest, but “litigate Amity into bankruptcy”…some self-entitled avid cyclist needs to switch to decaf.

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    Bjorn May 23, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    It slows to 25 on 99 through there, it is pretty obvious their police department is expected to be fully funded by tickets. More often than not there is a cop there with a radar gun.

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    Rol May 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Enmity

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    John Mulvey May 23, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    A photo is not germaine to the question of whether someone did or didn’t stop.

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    newbiker May 24, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Although I understand the law that states that bicyclists should stop at stop signs like a car should, Amity chose to make this a very negative experience for people supporting a good cause. All the other towns along the route don’t exhibit the same behavior and along the course there were volunteers to assist with traffic flow when necessary to permit riders to continue through stop signs. Amity and RTB should come to an agreement on how to improve this for next year. One of the riders in my group was yelled at in a forceful tone and issued a warning without detention. Fortunately for us, we were forewarned about stopping at the stop signs prior to entering the residental area, so 3 of 4 in our group made a point to stop and put one of our feet down.

    Although Amity is technically correct when riders are observed going through a stop sign without fully stopping, they could be more collaborative or supportive of the event vs. focusing on their thinly veiled “fundraising through ticketing” event. If RTB is such a nuisance to Amity then maybe the course should be rerouted, although an extreme solution, it is one possibility. But to tarnish an otherwise wonderful bikeride for a great cause is what chaps my you know what.

    Let’s enjoy the definition of amity together:

    1. friendship; peaceful harmony.
    2. mutual understanding and a peaceful relationship, especially between nations; peace; accord.

    This was my 1st RTB, I’ll make sure to have heightened awareness next year and avoid a costly ticket. As for the Amity police chief, I’ve got no love for you or your inability to be supportive.

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    MyQuestBe May 25, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Help me understand…Amity had one or more officers at an intersection, apparently with the time and budget to be there. They had the choice of being there to write tickets to Oregon citizens and “teach them a lesson” or be there to direct traffic and keep everyone safe. (I believe this is usually referred to as “To Serve and Protect.”)

    I rode this Reach the Beach ride this past Saturday and when I reached Pacific City, the Sheriffs there provided officers, cars and signage to stop the Oregon citizens in the event before they crossed Highway 101 and again once they came to the four-way stop in town. I spoke with one of the officers, and he was extremely nice. He didn’t view me as “evil” or someone who needed to be taught a lesson. As a result, I finished the ride and will return to Pacific City, along with my Visa card, every time we visit our place in nearby Neskowin.

    Amity, how difficult would it have been to recognize that perhaps your past efforts to communicate the issue wasn’t as effective as you had hoped and instead gone with the same solution as used by Pacific City?

    Amity had a real opportunity here. No doubt your Chamber of Commerce would love to run an advertising campaign to drive 3,000 people into town on a beautiful Saturday so Amity could showcase the town and its businesses. Of course, there’s no budget for that. Well, here you had 3,000 teachers, doctors, government workers, business owners, students and more simply dropped into your lap…and you blew it. You should’ve put out your welcome mat, put up signs all along the route promoting your city and encouraging everyone to come back and visit. Unfortunately, you opted to see them not as your fellow Oregonians, potential future visitors and employers, but instead as “those damn cyclists” who needed to be taught a lesson…and that lesson is to skip Amity and head directly to Pacific City.

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      Dave Riback May 25, 2011 at 9:23 am

      This was a good summary of the entire experience Saturday. The town leaders (chief of police, etc) had an opportunity to choose cooperation or alienation. The choice they made was clear. I was one of the late arrivals in Amity (we had a slow rider in our group who we kept stopping and waiting for along the way) getting into town a little after 1:00 PM and receiving a ticket. Based on what we were told and what I have read, I have a hard time believing the chief of police’s statement that they only handed out 15 tickets, as my friend and I each received one. In the few minutes we were there being ticketed, I saw at least three other riders getting tickets – that is five tickets in less than 10 minutes. This was not my first RTB but will be my last one. It really is too bad because the people we have met in Amity over the years (through these rides) have been really nice, gracious folks. However, I will not support the local town of Amity through my tourists dollars (or RTB monies) ever again. Pacific City is a different story. The police, town event organizers, business people, residents, tourists and fellow cyclists in Pacific City all have a wondeful time at these events – I will miss them but I will not ride in another event that involves the town of Amity.

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    Steve Durrant May 31, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Maybe Amity could use a bike train like the one you reported on Friday. That would be bike education: http://bit.ly/iD0ujh

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