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22 violators cited during Williams Ave crosswalk enforcement action

Posted by on August 26th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

The City of Portland’s latest crosswalk enforcement action resulted in 22 citations on Tuesday during rush hour on N. Williams Avenue. The event lasted from 5:30 to 7:30 pm and is part of an ongoing effort by the Police Bureau and Bureau of Transportation to raise awareness of Oregon traffic laws among Portland vehicle operators.

The police focused on the intersection of Williams and NE Morris near Dawson Park. Even though extensive warnings were made to the public both in advance and during the event, the police still managed to nab 22 law-breakers. Of the 22 citations written, 8 of them went to bicycle operators, 1 went to someone walking (for unsafely crossing the street to catch a bus), and 13 were given to people driving cars.

According to Mark Lear with PBOT, 20 of the 22 people who were cited opted to pay $35 to attend the “Share the Road Safety Class” in lieu of getting a ticket.

The Oregonian’s Cornelius Swart was at the event. He reported that all the police activity and onlookers created a hectic atmosphere and reviews of the event were mixed.

Lear says PBOT has received a lot of positive support from community groups like the Urban League and others. “This really came about after we heard at the Transportation Safety Summit that the community wanted us to try an enforcement action during peak travel times.”

Were you one of the people cited? Were you one of the onlookers? If so, what did you think about the event? Do you think it will have any influence on people’s behavior on Williams?

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

  • brewcaster August 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Their “decoy” was blatantly obvious, wearing all red and watching for the most bikes coming up the road to choose when to cross. I probably stopped when I didn’t need to as she approached the curb. I stopped and asked if she would like to cross. She said yes and thank you. You’re welcome cyclists behind me 😉

    Portland is silly sometimes.

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    • Andrew Seger August 26, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      Yea it was pretty silly. I think multiple people pointed out it would have been so much more effective to do the unmarked crosswalk a block south at Stanton and Williams. Pretty obvious they were aiming at ticketing as many bike riders as possible too.

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      • jeff August 26, 2011 at 4:39 pm

        How do the Police “aim to ticket” anyone? They’re targeting behavior, not the mode of transportation. If the cyclists would have stopped appropriately, they wouldn’ t have been ticketed, eh? Don’t blame the police for this one.

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        • Andrew Seger August 26, 2011 at 4:48 pm

          Like brewcaster said the decoy waited until the maximum number of people riding bikes were going by. And based on the number of tickets given it’s pretty clear more tickets went to people on bikes versus people in cars. (on a nice day like that ~30% of the traffic on Williams would be bike riders, based off last year’s counts). I’ve had enough interactions with Portland Police over the years to not give them the benefit of the doubt. I really wasn’t a fan of the circus atmosphere either with many audience members rooting for people on bikes to get tickets. Especially considering the amount of drug dealing and violence at dawson park over the years it didn’t seem like the best use of police resources at a clearly marked crosswalk.

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          • Joe C August 28, 2011 at 8:56 am

            The decoy in no way “waited” for bikes. She crossed during safe breaks in traffic with intention to time her cross with oncoming vehicles, bikes and cars both. The idea that this PBOT staffer colluded with the PPB to sting people biking is a bit unrealistic.

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          • middle of the road guy August 28, 2011 at 3:34 pm

            Maybe more people on bikes committed infractions. It could be as simple as that.

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        • Mike Fish August 26, 2011 at 11:19 pm

          It seems the police were using a pedestrian ‘decoy.’ If the police wanted to target bicycles, the decoy could cross more often in front of bicycles than cars. It’s pretty simple.

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    • She August 26, 2011 at 10:03 pm

      It is funny that you say it was so obvious and yet they were aiming at bikes. If it was so obvious wouldn’t they fail to give out ANY tickets. Your post does not make sense. Sounds like it was an effective action to me.

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      • Mike Fish August 29, 2011 at 10:01 am

        I think the post makes perfect sense.

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    • Benjamin Foote August 27, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      I have the pleasure of serving on the Stakeholder Advisory Committee for the North Williams Traffic Operations Safety Project.

      A few of us from the committee were there and observed the action. In my opinion the choices made by the decoy with regard to when to time her crossing were not related in any way to whether there were specifically cars or bikes coming up N Williams towards the crossing.

      When I asked the decoy specifically if there had been any “near misses”, she said no, and then explained that she would enter the crosswalk only if there was no traffic between the crosswalk and a utility pole about 3/4 of the way down the block.

      I feel the officers made good judgments with whom they chose to pursue and cite. The infractions I saw I felt to be worthy of a citation.

      I did not hear anything but similar sentiment from the other committee members, press, and other folks who were there.

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  • 9watts August 26, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    It would be interesting to explore how the 13:8:1 ratio compares to the ratio of those three modes at that intersection. It could lend support to the oft-invoked notion in these pages that this is really about *people* who are inattentive, careless, reckless, or whatever, rather than about ‘scofflaw cyclists’ or drivers, or….

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  • Jeff August 26, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    I’d like to see a LOT more informal stings by moto cops, particularly for things like running stopsigns in the neighborhoods (bike and cars) and for distracted driving/cell phone use. That’s where the real dangers lie.

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    • Kirk August 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm

      I agree cars should not be running stop signs – as that is the main purpose of the STOP sign – to slow/calm the cars.

      However, I do NOT think we should spend resources to have motorcycle cops specifically targeting bikes running stop signs.

      This article says it all: http://www.portlandtribune.com/sustainable/story.php?story_id=130291459502372100

      “…stop signs are placed at intersections to keep two-ton vehicles from crashing into each other. One- to two-hundred-pound riders on bicycles do not need to come to a complete stop to avoid serious injury.”

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  • Beth August 26, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I do have to admit – when the pedestrian crossesfrom the left hand side of the road it is sometimes hard to see from a cyclists perspective (on the far right) as you have to have virtually no cars to your left in order to get a clear view. I was on foot that day and passed by the commotion – there was a lot of traffic and I would feel badly for cyclists who got cited because visibility of the sidewalk was not 100% from the far right of the road. I do see value though because as a cyclist I often stop for pedestrians waiting to cross but cars continue to zip on by.

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    • craig August 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm

      I think anytime that the visibility of safety conditions is limited, the law requires us to lower our speed such that we become able to stop suddenly if required. That’s whether visibility is limited by fog, rainstorm, darkness, obstacles, other vehicles, etc.

      I think you can be cited for going too fast, even at or below the posted speed limit, if immediate conditions dictate the need to go even slower.


      (Basic Rule)
      811.100 Violation of basic speed rule; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of violating the basic speed rule if the person drives a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to all of the following:

      (a) The traffic.
      (b) The surface and width of the highway.
      (c) The hazard at intersections.
      (d) Weather.
      (e) Visibility.
      (f) Any other conditions then existing.

      (2) The following apply to the offense described in this section:

      (a) The offense is as applicable on an alley as on any other highway.
      (b) Speeds that are prima facie evidence of violation of this section are established by ORS 811.105.
      (c) This section and ORS 811.105 establish limitation on speeds that are in addition to speed limits established in ORS 811.111.

      (3) Except as provided in subsection (4) of this section, violation of the basic speed rule by exceeding a designated speed posted under ORS 810.180 is punishable as provided in ORS 811.109.

      (4) The offense described in this section, violating the basic speed rule, is a Class B traffic violation if the person drives a vehicle upon a highway at a speed that is not reasonable and prudent under the circumstances described in subsection (1) of this section even though the speed is lower than the appropriate speed specified in ORS 811.105 as prima facie evidence of violation of the basic speed rule. [1983 c.338 §563; 1987 c.887 §9; 1989 c.592 §4; 1991 c.728 §5; 1999 c.1051 §229; 2003 c.819 §5]

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      • Opus the Poet August 29, 2011 at 9:09 pm

        I don’t think the basic Speed Law applies to stopping for a pedestrian in a crosswalk when other vehicles are screening view of th4e pedestrian on the other side of the road. A pedestrian on the other side of the road is not an immediate hazard that must be stopped for.

        Besides the other vehicles that are screening the pedestrian (assuming they aren’t stopping) would be ticketed before the bicycle (or should be).

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        • craig August 30, 2011 at 8:43 am

          Attorneys, chime in?

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  • Ted August 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    I hope this makes a difference in raising awareness. While driving the other day, I had two extremely close calls in one day with bikers who ignored traffic laws. I don’t want to hit a biker while driving any more than I want to be hit by a car while I’m biking. As a relative newcomer to PDX, I’ve witnessed far more violations by bikers than by drivers.

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    • Hugh Johnson August 26, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      Ted, be careful with your language. I’ve found ANYTHING that could be determined to be “anti-bike” lands you in hot water in Portland…guilty or not. Too bad considering bike is my main mode of transit.

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    • Mike Fish August 26, 2011 at 10:35 pm

      You’re just used to the way cars break the law.

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      • Alex Reed August 26, 2011 at 11:20 pm

        Amen brotha! Bike Snob NYC had a humorous post detailing how idiots driving cars break the law (by speeding, driving with a suspended license, stopping in the crosswalk, changing lanes erratically without signaling) just as much as idiots riding bikes.

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        • Oliver August 30, 2011 at 10:10 am

          Right, it’s just not visible. How dangerous is a 3 time DUII driver on a suspended license with no insurance, compared to a cyclist who rolls a stop sign or 6 in residential neighborhoods.

          The thing is…you don’t see the first guy until he kills you.

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    • Dwayne K August 27, 2011 at 11:31 am

      I don’t buy it. I hear this a lot so I started keeping an informal survey in my head as I drive or ride. So far idiot auto drivers are beating out idiot people on bicycles by about a 5-1 ratio (unles you count failure to signal your turn, which I considet borderline then it’s likely 100-1 ratio, but truthfully no one could possibly count all the drivers failig to use their blinkers). I know there are less cyclist that drivers, so I’m not sure how that matches to populations, but I think its probably closer to even, or maybe even a nod to more drivers being idiots.

      One other gripe with this relates to people like Fritz who say the bicycle community needs to do more to educate riders about being safe on bikes. What a load ‘o poo – I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say the the auto community needs to do more to educate drivers about being safe in ther cars.

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  • Scott August 26, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Wow, it’s a good thing that Tom Cruise’s Pre-Crime unti eliminated all the violent crime so cops can get back to generating revenue like fully armed meter maids.

    Also Ted, give it a while. The most erratic drivers I have ever encountered. Nowhere else is there such a mixed bag of crap driving.

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    • April August 27, 2011 at 11:33 am

      More people die from being hit by cars than do in violent crime. Sounds like road safety should be a priority to me.

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  • J_R August 26, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    What I’d like to know is how many motorists and bicyclists actually stopped for pedestrians and how many pedestrians crossed appropriately. In other words, I’m after a compliance or non-compiiance ratio for the users of different modes.

    Motorists in my neighborhood are doing better observing the law and stopping for pedestrians using the marked crosswalks on Woodstock at 41st, the mid-block crossing near Safeway and the marked crosswalk near the Woodstock Library. I still see plenty of violations.

    I commend the PPB for actually doing an enforcement action during the afternoon peak. All to often, it seems they’ve done them in the early afternoon. I’d like to see lots more.

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    • Suburban August 26, 2011 at 8:33 pm

      You may have mistaken this PR action as a crime suppression or data collection event. You are not alone.

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  • chasing back on August 26, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    PoPo, please o please do this on foster at 81st, Fred Meyer to Shimmers where compliance approaches single digits. thanks

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    • Hugh Johnson August 26, 2011 at 7:42 pm

      chasing…you are forgetting one thing…east Portland does not matter in the eyes of city government. We’re dirt.

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      • cyclist August 27, 2011 at 3:43 am

        Too bad your opinion is contraverted by actual fact.

        Of the eight crosswalk enforcement actions taken this year, 3 have been in East Portland (NE 122nd & NE Oregon, SE 120th & SE Foster, NE 82nd & NE Pacific).

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    • cyclist August 27, 2011 at 3:47 am

      The last time they did a sidewalk enforcement action in the area was at SE Foster & SE 80th on March 11, 2010. They handed out 9 citations and 3 warnings, which was fairly typical for last year’s batch of crosswalk enforcement actions (for reference, the high total was 27 citations at N Williams & N Failing).

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  • captainkarma August 26, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I don’t care where they do this fol-de-rol, if you come back a week or so later, you will see the same previous level of non-compliance for all modes. I’d take that to the bank. But not on foot!

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  • Tourbiker August 27, 2011 at 6:52 am

    I’d like to see the bike cops out there co-coordinating with motors, to target the cars “buzzing” the riders.
    which includes Tri-Met.

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  • skinner city cyclist August 27, 2011 at 7:01 am

    They do this in Eugene every so often, but it is a futile exercize. The scofflaws of whatever vehicular persuasion are, it seems to me, not even aware they are obliged to stop. As a cyclist i have tried to stop to allow peds to cross, but they generally prefer to wait rather than tempt suicide by crossing in the face of all the cars. It is pretty clear, again at least in Eugene, that most peds are also ignorant of the traffic regs.

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  • kittens August 27, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Great. I hate it when I violently hit/kill/maim pedestrians when I am riding my bike. The statistics speek for themselves, tens of thousands of pedestrians a year are being hit and killed by cyclists. Stop the insanity!

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    • woogie August 27, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      Go look up the stats.
      People always throw this 42000 number around like drivers are out there mowing down nuns and orphans in the streets. The majority of MVA deaths are to the occupants of the vehicles. The number of

      2007 MVA deaths from the NHTSA

      Passenger cars 16,520
      Light trucks 12,413
      Large trucks 802
      Buses 37
      Other/Unknown 629
      TOTAL Occupants 30,401

      MotorCyclist 5,154

      Pedestrian 4,654
      Pedal-Cyclist 698
      Other/Unknown 152
      Total NonMotorist 5,504

      Grand Total 41,059

      % of MVA deaths that are cyclists 1.69%

      If you’re going to throw around the numbers they need to be talked about in the proper context.

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      • Jack August 28, 2011 at 5:03 am

        You should re-read the post you were replying to. I think you misread and misinterpreted it.

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  • Joe Rowe August 27, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I do see some bikes that don’t yield to peds in a crosswalk. I see many more cars that don’t yield. Anyone from AROW wish to setup a video sting? We would video only. I know a spot where in 10 minutes we can find 50 cars that don’t yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

    I wish there was data on the total # of times the decoy left the curb? What is the number of times the decoy left the curb with just bikes approaching? How many times with just cars? That data would show a bias against bikes.

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  • Jack August 28, 2011 at 5:09 am

    I still feel like this whole scheduled/publicized “sting” operation is counter-productive. It comes across as the PBOT basically admitting that violators of traffic laws are very unlikely to get cited at any other time. Unfortunately, that’s entirely true. But I don’t think PBOT should be putting so much time and effort into an event to advertise that fact.

    I’ve driven through other cities with local passengers and been warned that on certain roads I better not slip up at all because the police are notorious for handing out citations left and right in those areas. That is what traffic enforcement should do: create the sense that if you violate traffic laws, you will be fined.

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  • fredlf August 29, 2011 at 10:24 am

    I’ve gotten so tired of cars blowing by me at crosswalks on NE MLK (even when I’m standing in the middle of the street) that I’ve started holding up my phone as if I were taking photos. It works like a charm. Drivers stop right away if they think their behavior is being documented. They scowl, but they stop.

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  • Scott September 1, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Just goes to show that even when an enforcement event is advertised on this very site before the event some people still get nabbed. Stop whining and stop blaming everyone and everything else.

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