(Photo: Brett McLane)
Last week I shared the story of an armored truck that had repeatedly violated Oregon law by parking in the bike lane on the southbound (downhill) side of N Greeley Ave outside the Adidas USA headquarters. Upon receiving an official complaint from North Portland resident Brett McLane, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) took action. I’m happy to report that they’ve worked out a solution to the problem.
But before I get to the solution, I thought it would be helpful for the community to learn more about how PBOT interprets ORS 811.550 (the law that makes it illegal to park in a bike lane), the steps they took to address the complaint, and their stance on bike lane parking in general.
“We have emphasized our concern [to Oregon Armored] that this is a safety hazard, a citable violation that carries a fine of $80, and a potential liability. We have also clarified that stopping to load or unload is permitted for only 30 seconds, not longer.”
— Cheryl Kuck, PBOT media relations
Cheryl Kuck with PBOT media relations first took up the issue by forwarding the complaint to the bureau’s parking enforcement managers. After they reviewed McLane’s photos and his account of what happened, Kuck says the managers, “shared his concern that the Oregon Armored vehicle is completely blocking the bike lane, partially blocking the travel lane, and creating a traffic safety hazard for both cyclists and motorists.”
With that finding, they took several actions, which Kuck relayed to me via email last night.
First, they dispatched parking enforcement officers to the location to look for the vehicle in question and to issue citations if appropriate. Officers showed up around 7:30 am but did not see the vehicle parked in the bike lane.
“Because our officers do not know in advance when the vehicle is going to be parked at the location,” Kuck wrote, “we can only try our best with the information we have.”
After that, PBOT parking enforcement called Oregon Armored to inform them of McLane’s complaint and forwarded them photos of the truck in question.
“After repeated communications from Parking Enforcement to Oregon Armored about our concern… Oregon Armored informed us that they have worked out a solution with Adidas that allows them to park off-street.”
Along with the citizen report and photos, Kuck shared that, “We have emphasized our concern [to Oregon Armored] that this is a safety hazard, a citable violation that carries a fine of $80, and a potential liability. We have also clarified that stopping to load or unload is permitted for only 30 seconds, not longer.”
In addition, PBOT also called the police precinct to tell them about the situation and request additional enforcement of the area in the morning hours.
Kuck shared that in order for a citation to be issued, the officer must observe the violation in real time. “The challenge with many parking violations involving trucks that are loading or unloading,” she said, “is that they are parked for short periods of time and they are gone by the time the violation is reported to our hotline.”
Kuck highly recommends that parking violations are called into their Parking Enforcement Hotline (503-823-5195), not the more widely known 823-SAFE. The parking hotline is staffed during normal business hours seven days a week and the line accepts voicemails. If you see a parking violation that poses a safety hazard outside normal business hours, Kuck says to call the Police Bureau’s non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333.
In light of the public’s concerns that PBOT isn’t tough enough on bike lane parking violators, Kuck stood up for their track record (emphasis mine);
“Our parking enforcement managers assure the community that our officers on routine patrol always cite vehicles parked in bike lanes. If an officer on patrol in their beat sees a vehicle parked in a bike lane, the officer issues a bike lane violation citation that carries a fine of $80.00. Last fiscal year, we issued 395 bike lane citations.”
And now to the solution to the Greeley Ave situation…
Kuck informed me this morning that after several calls from PBOT Parking Enforcement to Oregon Armored, the company has told PBOT that, “they have worked out a solution with Adidas that allows them to park off-street.”
So, in this situation, the most effective solution was to work with the parties involved to find a better place for the truck to park. Unfortunately this option isn’t likely to be available in every situation; so keep those phone numbers handy (503-823-5195 for parking enforcement hotline and 503-823-3333 for after-hours) and snap a photo if you see something dangerous.
For more on this topic see the BikePortland story from February, Cars parking in bicycle travel lanes: What did we learn? and check out PBOT’s parking enforcement web page.