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Police inaction shows bike lane blockage in Tigard is no big deal

Posted by on December 22nd, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Officer Enzenberger sits in his patrol car (yellow arrow) across from illegally parked vehicles (red arrow).
(Photos: Will Vanlue)

As I was out riding this morning I passed by what is unfortunately a common sight in Tigard: landscaping trucks blocking the bike lane on Durham Road. What made today’s incident different was that a Tigard Police car was sitting almost directly across the road from where the trucks were illegally parked.

“Officers have a fair amount of discretion… [they] try to give [landscapers] some leeway…as long as they’re not actively blocking the flow of traffic.”
— Sgt. Brad Sitton, Tigard Police

I pulled into the driveway where the officer was parked and as he rolled down his window. I asked if I was correct that the trucks across the street were parked illegally. The man inside, who later identified himself as Officer Enzenberger, told me that, “Yes, technically that’s illegal but they’re only there temporarily.”

When I asked him what he could do to address the hazardous situation he said he understood my concern “as a cyclist” but “unfortunately” he wasn’t going to take action because, again, they were only temporarily blocking the bike lane and sidewalk.

Officer Enzenberger confirmed that the landscapers had been parked there at least for the 10 minutes he had been parked at the location. Shortly after our conversation he pulled his patrol car out of the driveway across from the landscapers. I remained for another 5 or so minutes as the landscapers continued to load debris into their truck. They were still working as I rode away.

After a call to Washington County’s non-emergency dispatch to get some clarification around an officer’s ability to address these type of situations, I was contacted by Sergeant Brad Sitton of the Tigard Police.

When I asked what the policy was regarding vehicles illegally blocking the bike lane and sidewalk, Sitton told me that there was no official policy but “officers have a fair amount of discretion” and they usually “try to give [landscapers] some leeway…as long as they’re not actively blocking the flow of traffic.”

I pointed out that there had been bicycle traffic in the brief time I was at the scene (it wasn’t just me on my bike) and the area is frequently used by families and people from retirement communities in the area. We also discussed how there are side streets nearby and although they don’t allow motor vehicles access on to Durham, there is plenty of room for someone — like these landscapers — to walk through with a garbage can and tools to pick up leaves.

Sitton repeated that in situations like this officers are supposed to use their best judgement as to how to “maintain the public’s safety.”

— Will Vanlue, will[at]bikeportland.org

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Stretchy
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Stretchy

I hate it when people block a public right of way and the police do nothing about it.

meh
Guest
meh

So the landscapers park around the corner.

They then have to walk their equipment to the site. They also have to manually move any landscaping material to the site. This increases the time to complete the work. If this is city property being worked on, then the city is getting less work from city employees or paying more for contractors to do the work.

And even if they did park around the corner, that doesn’t mean the work they are doing isn’t going to overflow into the bike lane.

I ride Durham 2-3 times a week, and only once have had an issue with a person “parked” in the bike lane. A driver who pulled over to answer their cell phone so a +1 -1 for that situation.

Service work I give leeway to on this type of thing. Work needs to be done. I I give them props for putting out safety cones.

Paul Johnson
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Paul Johnson

There’s this new thing called the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices that requires them to cone off lane closures if this is the case.

Machu Picchu
Guest
Machu Picchu

The MUTCD is not new, and any lane closure would require advance signage to be compliant.

Paul Johnson
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Paul Johnson

Thank you, that was the point.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Good points Will – I have also had success with just pulling out my cellphone and calling the number on the sides of the landscaping trucks, politely reporting the problem and location, and they have actually moved their vehicles. But, this may not always work, and police enforcement would be better.

gumby
Guest
gumby

They should change “maintain the public’s safety.” to “maintain the flow of motor vehicles, everyone else can fend for themselves”

Joe
Guest
Joe

This happens in Wilsonville alot. kinda like small City with heavy cop Presence.

basketlover
Guest
basketlover

So this house has no driveway?

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

MyBikeLane Portland is relevant.

jonesey
Guest
jonesey

I wonder how long it would take police to respond if these trucks blocked the motor vehicle lane, leaving the bike lane open?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Fwiw, I noticed a big deliver truck that went to great lengths to avoid parking in the bike lane on N. Interstate Ave. Sucks for sidewalk users though…

Delivery truck on N Interstate-1-2

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

I saw that!
How did you do that, God mode?

Seth D. Alford
Guest
Seth D. Alford

Yes, can us mere mortals get a photo into these comments? I thought that was not allowed?

twilliam
Guest
twilliam
twilliam
Guest
twilliam

Dur, I put the flippin’ HTML code to put the images in, but didn’t think that the system would look for the source.

Google the tag and you’ll see how.

Seth Alford
Guest
Seth Alford

I looked at the html source for the page. I copied what I think is the code to include a link to the truck on the sidewalk here:

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

AFAIK the only tags that are supported in comments here are “b” for bold, “i” for italics and ” a href=”” ” for links.

There used to be a link above this comment entry field that showed what was allowed.
Like “u” for underline
or “s” for strike through

If images are supported I could include this:

or this:

Gravatar seems to be a part of WordPress. I think each blogger can set accepted HTML tags for reader comments but I think at this point it will be easier to “pull over and ask for directions”.

Machu Picchu
Guest
Machu Picchu

Possibly there is no curb ramp for the pallet jack, so the driver parked to get the liftgate on the sidewalk, and may not have thought a lick about the bike lane.

Machu Picchu
Guest
Machu Picchu

Or, the sidewalk was the only place to park the truck level for a forklift, without blocking motor vehicles on the road.

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

Still not difficult to call the receiver on the phone and let ’em know you need a legal place to put down.

are
Guest

811.560(3) says it is not illegal to stop, stand, or park “momentarily” in a bike lane “for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading property or passengers.” the story says the landscapers were loading debris onto the truck. so the only legal question is whether the occupation of the bike lane was “momentary.” the officer apparently thought it was, and/or that he might not successfully prosecute a ticket asserting that it was not. yes, the landscaper might have made a different choice, but the law might not require it. and yes, the officer might have had a word with the operator, suggesting that a different choice be made. but from the photo, i am not seeing that this was a difficult situation to negotiate.

Allan Folz
Guest
Allan Folz

And why does it take a citation, paperwork, and court appearance. Sheesh. If the officer had said to the crew, “Move this truck.” I’m certain they would have. The officer just didn’t care about the bike lane. It’s Tigard, yo.

deborah
Guest
deborah

Joe
This happens in Wilsonville alot. kinda like small City with heavy cop Presence.
Recommended 0

Even in downtown Portland this is often the case!
I ride up Jefferson every weekday during standard rush hour traffic and find garbage, delivery, and document shredder trucks blocking the bike lane atleast 2-3 times a week. We shouldn’t kid ourselves that this happens just in the ‘burbs. It happens plenty every where, and the response is often the same. It’s seen as no big deal to block the flow of a bike lane for a 20-30 minute period of time. And though it’s illegal every time they do it – I bet I’d be REALLY hard-presssed to find any truck drivers that have received a ticket for doing it.

verfremudung
Guest
verfremudung

Agreed! I have this issue at least once a week on my way back home on East Burnside with people stopping to pick up their pizza at Sizzle Pie. Irritating!

I am certain that most people would rarely do that if what they would be blocking was the car lane rather than the bike lane however “momentarily” their stop would be.

Paul Johnson
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Paul Johnson

Have you phoned 503-823-SAFE about it?

dcufan
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dcufan

Its not a big deal. Drivers and peds have to deal with this type of stuff too. Should those vehicles just block more people by being further out in traffic? Get over it. geeez…… crybabies…..

and yes I ride….

Matt
Guest
Matt

Hey DC United fan: Stating a safety concern doesn’t make one a crybaby but name-calling does make you look quite immature.

dcufan
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dcufan

Vehicles of all types have to deal with things like this. So lets all just learn to deal with it. Maybe be patient and wait til it is safe enough or you feel comfy enough to make your way around such things. That’s what most people do.

Matt
Guest
Matt

I agree. How does name-calling help your argument?

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

It gets replies.
Tr0ll!ng usually does.

sorebore
Guest
sorebore

Yes, but I think I would have just pedaled around this and never have given much thought about it. I do not on the other hand have a bike blog to fill stories with.
( no disrespect J.M.). peace.

Jason
Guest
Jason

X2

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

It is not feasible to consider Scaper’s parking in the bike lane as temporary, as scaping even the smallest yard takes longer than 20 minute’s.
I am sure they park there so they do not have to turn their trailer’s around in the cul-de-sac, or even at the request of the clients, who do not like the cul-de-sac blocked.
Either way they should be ticketed immediately upon being seen parked this way, as even the simplest of people could see that the parking is not properly “temporary”.

JAT in Seattle
Guest
JAT in Seattle

Poppycock! This story is a preposterous fabrication.

I have it on good authority that separation of bikes and motorists is the new standard.

or…

Jim Hook
Guest
Jim Hook

Thank you for publishing this article. In my experience with Tigard, leadership says some of the right things and the police engage in complaints that they understand. However, cycling as a serious mode of transportation is not engrained in their thinking, at least not yet.

At an open house a few years ago I had a very good conversation with the mayor about my commute. But even after some discussion, he still wanted to talk about a multi-use path that would lengthen my commute if I choose to use it.

One morning I was nearly hit by a school bus at the First Student bus barn across from City Hall. This was a complex incident in which I had to make a panic stop because a First Student employee vehicle encroached into the bike lane and then was nearly right hooked by a bus that had overtaken me, and was then nearly left hooked by an oncoming bus. The last two conflicts were observed by a First Student supervisor. I was able to get Tigard PD to cross the street and talk to the First Student folks. He sent me a very nice email. Unfortunately even with several email reminders there was never effective follow-up to remove the hazards that created the first conflict.

I was encouraged by the turn out at the Bike Portland gathering in Tigard last year (or before?). I think it might be a really good thing to get some of the community leaders, including law enforcement, to ride their bikes through their town. I can imagine a tour that includes a leg that “rides like a commuter” and a leg that “rides like a family”. I would like them to feel what it is like to go from Metzger to Tualatin with at least moderate commute traffic with the objective of getting someplace at some particular time. (My full commute is from Sherwood to Portland; I often mix in a bus leg.)

I ride through Tigard because it is my best option. I think Tigard has done a lot right. I think they want to do more right. I think that there are some easy quick hits. ODOT needs to take cycling on the Hall corridor seriously. Tigard police need to see safe passage of cyclists as part of the flow of traffic. When vegetation creates a hazard for cyclists (even an indirect hazard by obstructing view of traffic) it needs to be trimmed. Simple stuff can make Tigard much safer for cycling.

Mark
Guest
Mark

I’m not seeing “much” of a problem here. I ride Durham fairly regular. (fair weather rider) At least upcoming traffic has a turn lane to move over into. Slow down, find a hole in traffic and move around.

I’m much more nervous about moving from the bike lane to the turn lane. First you have to find a space to move over. Then wait at the light with traffic whizzing by. I worry about someone not paying attention & drifting over into me.

The reason the landscapers are using that access is it is much shorter walk out of material than moving from the back yard to the front yard. Looked like there was a fair bit of material there

I’m Ok with the officer’s discretion

Matt
Guest
Matt

I’m tempted to say you lost me at “fair weather rider.” The bigger issue is that people think “it’s no big deal…the bikes can just move over.” The landscapers would never completely block a travel lane for motorists nor would the cop allow them to do so. They wouldn’t park in a handicap spot nor would the cop allow that either. It’s a convenience at another’s expense and that’s not cool.

Morgen
Guest
Morgen

It IS no big deal. The bikes CAN just move over. The bike lane, like a car lane, is sometimes blocked. I often find the far right lane blocked by deliveries or even more often by a bus. The reality is that we have to share the public spaces and that includes sharing with pedestrians, land scapers and cops (who was clearly blocking someone’s way as well). There are two other lanes that can be used.

People working outside in this weather deserve a little slack. It may only be 200 feet but man, it is cold and unpleasant out there. Let’s just try and understand everyone’s situation.

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

Speaking as someone who has worked outside in this weather driving a delivery truck in this city, we don’t need slack when they’re Doing It Wrong™. We knew what we were signing up for, we knew we’d be out in the weather, and we knew we’re not the US Postal Service so we need to find a spot that isn’t a bike lane or other traffic lane to stop and load. I’ve made a two block run on foot from a legal loading zone before with a palette jack. Sure, it sucks, but we knew what we were getting into. These guys are just being lazy and endangering themselves, blocking both a bicycle lane and part of a general purpose lane, without creating a proper workzone first. If their boss told ’em to do that, it’s a very real OSHA violation on the part of their employer to boot.

Jim Hook
Guest
Jim Hook

I think the big deal here is ultimately awareness of cyclists as part of traffic. Cyclists will be safer when all road users perceive them as legitimate, predictable traffic. When cyclists achieve that other road users will perceive an obstruction of the bike lane as a traffic hazard to be accommodated; they will anticipate that cyclists will need to avoid this hazard; they will help them do so safely.

Currently in suburban Washington and Clackamas counties we are not there yet. Cyclists in the bike lane are noticed, but motor vehicle operators do not anticipate that we will leave the bike lane to make left turns and to avoid obstructions. When I am going to have to take the lane on a suburban arterial I look for extremely low conflict opportunities. Even still I have been honked at, shouted at, and lectured for making legal traffic maneuvers with proper signals, high-visibility lights, and high-visibility clothing. There are many citizens who are confident in their false beliefs about the rules of the road as applied to bicycles.

I think this article is appropriate because I believe law enforcement has a special leadership role in setting the norms of traffic behavior by example and by enforcement.

The other issue here is the cascading hazard phenomenon. We can all generally navigate one hazard safely. Fatal accidents tend to involve the confluence of multiple hazards. In an earlier comment I mentioned a multiple conflict event that nearly resulted in getting right hooked. If we can eliminate the first hazard, say an obstructed bike lane, we may be able to eliminate the cascade of hazards that can kill even the most experienced and safety conscious cyclists on the road.

Matt
Guest
Matt

“Cyclists will be safer when all road users perceive them as legitimate, predictable traffic.”

That says it all. Awesome comment.

Kevin Wagoner
Guest

FAIL!

Mark
Guest
Mark

BTW Will….am loving the coverage you are doing

CharlieB
Guest
CharlieB

I don’t see any peds on the walk. I probably would’ve bunny-hopped the curb, taking the inside line around the truck, maybe catch a little air on the dirt berm and scattered the pile of leaves the scapers had blown.

Cheers!

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

Citizens initiated citation?

Doug Smart
Guest
Doug Smart

@Will – nice job of probing what the real attitude is toward obstructing traffic in Tigard.

Kris
Guest

LANDSCAPERS ! Here in Belgium i had exactly the same situation, police patrol parked 200 meters from a landscaper who parked on the bike lane in both directions !! plus another car parked 300 meters in the other directions(and not unloading).
I pulled over and nicely asked the policy to take actions and thats what they did.

Solution.

Send a type of contract to all landscapers, DHL Guys and ask them to never ever park on a bike lane again . You can publish the ones that sign the contract.

meh
Guest
meh

So now after all the whining about being relegated to the bike lane and demanding that you’re allowed to take the lane whether a bike lane is present or not, everyone gets their panties in a bunch over having to take the lane.

It’s life, it’s not perfect, for drivers, pedestrians or cyclists and it never will be.

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

The bike lane is a lane too, people are getting upset over being forced to make an unnecessary lane change and motorists being forced to drive on the median.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Oh, sure. If I had been “taking the lane” all along instead of dutifully using the bike lane, this would be no big deal. In fact, there is a bike lane closure on my route home along a 45mph major arterial (Murray Blvd. in Beaverton) and I move over into the next lane to traverse the construction zone–at night and everything!

The difference is that along my route there is advance (I wish it were more in advance, rather than right at the start of the closure) warning (a “Bikes in roadway/Bike lane closed” sandwich sign and some traffic cones) of the closure and instruction for all that bikes will be traveling “in the roadway”. The only thing I would ask anyone to do if they are going to block the bike lane for any length of time is to give it the same treatment they would give a blocked “car” lane: signage far enough upstream for a cyclist to have time to find a break in traffic, cones to divert drivers away from the closed bike lane and create a temporary lane–something other than just bam! back of a truck. Granted, if we are paying attention, we will take note of obstructions that are coming up and attempt to adjust, but to have “official” signage I think goes a long way in securing the cooperation of motorists, 90% of whom I’m sure expect cyclists approaching a blocked bike lane to dismount and walk up around the far side of any obstruction rather than merge into traffic (that would be insane!)

J.M. Jones
Guest
J.M. Jones

Matt
I’m tempted to say you lost me at “fair weather rider.” The bigger issue is that people think “it’s no big deal…the bikes can just move over.” The landscapers would never completely block a travel lane for motorists nor would the cop allow them to do so. They wouldn’t park in a handicap spot nor would the cop allow that either. It’s a convenience at another’s expense and that’s not cool.
Recommended 4

Ok, So it’s off topic a little bit, but I would like to know why he was “tempted.”
Refraining from an acidic comment as I do not know the motivation for the statement

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Most “fair weather” riders are perceived not to have the degree of day in, day out, all-weather riding experience that would allow one to make a credible statement on what constitutes “a big deal”. If you only ride during the Summer when it’s always daylight, everyone is in a good mood, and the temperature is between 65 and 75 with no rain forecast, then riding is a novelty to you and the kinds of issues being discussed here are “no big deal” because you only see them once in a great while. Those who ride every single day, all year round have these things slap them in the face a few times a week and it gets to be one giant round of Russian Roulette(tm). Each individual incidence of unexpected merging or obstruction or bad driving ups your statistical chances of it being the one that does you in.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Exactly.

Zaphod
Guest

Matt +1

“”Cyclists will be safer when all road users perceive them as legitimate, predictable traffic.”

That says it all. Awesome comment.”

J.M. Jones
Guest
J.M. Jones

So…if I do not ride every day, I am not a “real” cyclist. Sort of smacks of “My problems are bigger than yours.” A road hazard is as dangerous for you the same as it is for anyone. You life is not more important than anyone else’s because you ride more miles then they do. I would think that if the ENTIRE bike (or HPV) community were united that things could be a bit easier. Just never understood the attitude that certain parts of a particular “group” are better than others, and I am always wary when someone else says that I would not understand, because I don’t do things like they do. I am able to discern things for myself if information is offered. When it comes time for “real cyclists” (which, by the way, is now) to get support for issues I may assume that they won’t need my help?
I guess that there are differing descriptions of “Community” out there. I won’t be drinking the elitist kool-aid, regardless of the cup it is served in.
We don’t all share the road, do we? Sounds like some of us only tolerate others using OUR road.
Please do not misunderstand me….I respect those who ride everyday, they are helping the community where I live to be a better place for the obvious reasons. The more EVERYBODY rides, the better things can be for all of us.
You may notice that if you tend refine your “circle” of like minded people, it’s gets a bit lonely. I thought that we were ALL cyclists, and are ALL relevant.
YMMV of course 🙂

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

I don’t think it’s a matter of being a “real” cyclist or not, nor is it a matter of “my problems are bigger than yours”–it’s more a matter of “my problems are much more frequent than yours because I am on the road on my bike much more frequently.” It isn’t that one part of the “cycling community” necessarily views another part as “not real”, but that those with different cycling habits see everyday road conditions differently. Yes, a single road hazard in isolation poses about the same danger (depending on riding skills and experience) to every rider out there, but when hazards accumulate due to more frequent exposure, and exposure under less ideal conditions (rain, dark, etc.), they pose a much greater aggregate danger to those who experience them more frequently. Suppose you witnessed a shooting once–you could have been shot, but you weren’t. Would you tell a Marine deployed in Afghanistan that getting shot at is “no big deal”? Bit of an exaggeration, I know, but you can see the point.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I have less a problem with lane blockages like this than I have with official comments like “unless it’s blocking the flow of traffic.” What, bicycles don’t comprise traffic?

These blockages force you to either split (not my preference) or take the full lane, and the general public (sometimes not even the police) are aware you have a legal right to do so and to treat you as if you were in a car regardless (legally that is; I’ve seen how drivers actually treat each other in cars). I wish we’d at least replace “Share the Road” signs that some perceive as preachy with the new “Bicycles Have Right To Full Lane” (or however it’s worded). Education is key to safety.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“unless it’s blocking the flow of traffic.”

Yes. This is the insult added to the injury. It says, “Not only do we not understand the danger to cyclists, we don’t care–as long as cars (‘real’ traffic) aren’t being impeded.”

marc t
Guest
marc t

Tigard, trying to become “america’s most walkable city” consistently allows residents to place recycle bins, cars, basketball hoops and what have you in the public right of way.. sidewalks, bike lanes etc… Police.. code enforcement etc.. do nothing.