Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

Photo: Illegal (but harmless) sidewalk biking

Posted by on December 21st, 2011 at 10:21 am

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz has made headlines recently for her efforts to crackdown on people who ride bikes on downtown sidewalks. It’s illegal within a certain boundary to ride on sidewalks because of the potential for collisions with other people. I get that; but many folks I see riding on sidewalks downtown (rent-a-cops aside) are not going that fast and seem to be there because they’re simply too afraid to ride on the street. The man in the photo above was going very slowly. He was also quite old and didn’t seem to be in the best physical condition. His bicycle looked to be an important tool that helped him move around downtown.

[Publisher’s note: I plan to start using Page Two more in the future to share random photos I snap around town and brief commentary. I’d love to know what you think about it. Should these be on the Front Page? Or do you agree with me that they fit better on Page Two? Thanks for any feedback. — Jonathan]

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

10
Leave a Reply

avatar
7 Comment threads
3 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
MeghanpixiewsbobRoger AverbeckJoe Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Joe
Guest
Joe

How about speeding cars in this city? or cell phone users? wait forgot Peds that jump out at you / jay walk as you ride by.

Ryno Dan
Guest
Ryno Dan

I see far too many fully-able-bodied cycle users who are riding on the sidewalks downtown. It would be chaos if all the cycle users were allowed to ride on the sidewalk. So I support the rule, and this gentleman needs to walk on the sidewalk. What are you suggesting ?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

I’m not suggesting that we change the law (at least not at this point without further thinking)… I’m just pointing out that this guy and others I’ve seen don’t fit the “scofflaw!” “aggressive bicyclist!” profile Fritz likes to perpetuate.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…I’m just pointing out that this guy and others I’ve seen don’t fit the “scofflaw!” “aggressive bicyclist!” profile Fritz likes to perpetuate. …” maus

maus…the person on the bike in your picture may not be the type of sidewalk use Fritz considers to be a significant issue.

Why not call her up some time and ask her?

Actually though, the location of your photo, which is 5th and Morrison, happens to be a very busy area directly adjacent to a Pioneer Place mall entrance and the MAX line. Particularly during the holidays.

Certainly during some hours of some days, the sidewalk isn’t going to have a lot of people walking. But who is willing to specify in a city ordinance, when those hours might be for the purpose of allowing the use of bikes on Downtown sidewalks?

A suggestion raised in Ryno Dan’s comment:

“… this gentleman needs to walk on the sidewalk. …”

The guy can ride. Did you find in watching him, that there may have been some reason he could not walk?

Dan Kaufman
Guest

I thought you could ride on the sidewalks downtown if you were going very, very slow. That’s what Meghan Sinnott said in here pamphlet anyway.

Meghan
Guest

PDX by BIKE’s zine says, “You may ride on the sidewalk anywhere except in downtown Portland.” That’s what we teach at the Share the Road Safety Class, as well.

Joe
Guest
Joe

I was also told you can ride on sidewalks downtown, before this ” new law ” came into play right during the holidays.

Roger Averbeck
Guest
Roger Averbeck

If riding on sidewalks downtown is “harmless”, why is it illegal? Maybe because it is not harmless to pedestrians? This is not a new law, check out the specific municipal codes:

http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=28596&a=16278

What is your reaction to a motor vehicle operating in, or even temporarily parked in, a bike lane?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

The picture raises an important question of what nature of riding might typically characterize that of people riding their bikes on the sidewalk in Downtown Portland. Is it slow like the guy in the picture is said to have ridden? Or is it typically something else that generally does not work on Portland’s downtown sidewalks?

The results of Portland’s holiday shopping ‘no biking on the sidewalks’ enforcement detail surprised me, because I didn’t think police would have occasion to cite nearly so many people in the short period of time they did.

So, if by chance the officers writing the citation noted details about the speed and nature of the sidwalk biking that prompted the citations, it could be very interesting to know those details.

Until I see something solid to the contrary, I’m very skeptical to conclude that the idea of people biking on Downtown Portland’s sidewalks being “scofflaw!” “aggressive bicyclist!”, is just some jacked up figment of Amanda Fritz’s imagination. For a start, how about some pictures of people that aren’t so old, riding on the sidewalk as you described the guy in the picture doing?

Link to the Oregonian story, which lists numbers of citations issued:

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/index_2.html

Maus…page 2 could be worthwhile, if you could produce enough solid stories to keep some consistent traffic going to it. Currently, almost nobody is going to find page two because the link is nearly lost in the long list of ‘sections’.

pixie
Guest
pixie

Jonathan, I like your idea to take more photos and add commentary. I’d also prefer to see them on the front page, as Page Two stories are difficult to find.

For instance, your post is barely 24 hours old and it already is gone from your homepage (bikeportland.org), while stories on the homepage currently go back a full week. To be useful, Page Two needs to be a prominent link somewhere on your homepage.