(Photo courtesy PBOT)
This morning in front of City Hall, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz led a press conference to stress the importance of sidewalk safety during the busy holiday shopping season. The event was also a warning that the Portland Police Bureau will begin a series “sidewalk enforcement missions” to reduce bicycling and skateboarding on downtown sidewalks.
“Fast moving bicycles on sidewalks pose a real safety risk for pedestrians, particularly seniors, children and people using mobility devices,” read a PBOT statement about the event.
The event was also meant to remind people of the sidewalk bicycling exclusion zone which extends south to Jefferson St, east to Naito Parkway, west to NW 13th and north to NW Hoyt.
Attending the event were Bicycle Transportation Alliance communications staffer Margaux Mennesson, Billy Meiners of PDX Downhill (a skateboard group), PPB Traffic Division Lt. Eric Schober, and Vicki Herson with Elders in Action.
In a statement, Mayor Adams explained that crowded sidewalks are a “safety concern” and that, “We’re working with the community to issue a friendly reminder that Downtown sidewalks are for pedestrians and not people on bikes and skateboards.”
Commissioner Fritz has already garnered headlines for her concerns about sidewalk bicycling. In August, she told us she would vote for the City’s federal funding request for a bike-sharing system only when, “I see bike riders using downtown streets and sidewalks in a safe manner.” She said she regularly sees “cyclists… endangering and harassing pedestrians” on the sidewalk and that, “The cycling community seems to be doing little or nothing to educate riders or reduce these dangerous behaviors.”
This morning’s press event and announcement of enforcement actions seems to be Fritz’s way of taking the matter into her own hands.
Vicki Herson with Elders in Action urged that people who ride bikes and skateboards downtown “stay on the roadway” in order to give seniors their own space.
The BTA’s Margaux Mennesson said it’s important to “be considerate, obey the law and ride safely in the road… It’s just the right thing to do.”
The PPB plans to begin their sidewalk bicycling enforcement missions tomorrow (December 8th). The location has not been released.