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ODOT/Wash. Co. aggressive driving sting nets 163 citations

Posted by on March 12th, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Screen grab from KGW segment.

Amid a pervasive cultural narrative that bicycle operators behave badly in traffic; KGW news has a report about a recent sting targeted toward aggressive driving on Interstate 5 that netted 216 traffic stops and 163 citations in just two days.

The sting was carried out by the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and it was especially interesting for people who ride bicycles, because it targeted not just random aggressive driving, but how people drove around a semi-truck.

Here’s more from KGW:

“An ODOT semi truck travelled up and down a roughly seven-mile stretch of Interstate 5 near the Highway 217 interchange as deputies, who were driving nearby, watched how drivers interacted with it.

“Overall, we’re looking for aggressive driving patterns; following too close, dangerous lane changes, un-signaled lane changes, cutting trucks off – things of that nature,” said Sgt. Tim Tennenbaum. “If you’re involved in a crash with a truck, the potential for injury is much, much more significant.”

The most common citations issued during the sting were for thing like: following too closely, making unsafe lane changes and speeding, according to deputies. A citation comes with a fine of $260.”

What strikes me about this sting is not just how many people were given citations, but how you could easily do this on city streets and replace the semi with a person riding a large cargo bike and/or carrying kids in a trailer.

The Portland Police Bureau and PBOT have a long history of working together on crosswalk enforcement stings. In those, a PBOT staffer acts as a decoy and attempts to cross the street while police officers pull over everyone who fails to stop for the decoy.

Perhaps it’s time to extend that program to bicycling? People on bikes are arguably more vulnerable than people on foot given the longer amount of time bike riders are exposed to motor vehicles. Also, hardly a week goes without me hearing a story from a reader that they were yelled at or were victim to aggressive/menancing driving. Put an average rider on downtown streets or on a busy neighborhood bike route and have them followed by PPB officers. The results would be illuminating regardless of how many law violators were caught.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

54 Comments
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    9watts March 12, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Good work all around.
    Thanks, Jonathan, for highlighting this effort and encouraging the expansion of such efforts.

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    Stretchy March 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    The program could pay for itself just by nabbing aggressive drivers and unsafe passing on the hill leading out of Goose Hollow.

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    dan March 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    So aggressive driving on the freeway is a fine of $260, and the fine for running a red light on a bicycle in town costs about the same…misplaced priorities anyone? That fine really should be on a sliding scale, tied to to vehicle weight.

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      middle of the road guy March 12, 2012 at 5:14 pm

      dan,

      a citation is a citation. I get tired of cyclists who want to be treated equality but them demand a different set of standards for themselves.

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        kittens March 12, 2012 at 10:15 pm

        I don’t want bikes treated equally, I think they should be given priority, incentives and anything else which will encourage increased ridership.

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        PorterStout March 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm

        Yeah, same thing goes for pedestrians too. I shouldn’t be treated any differently driving aggressively through a pack of pedestrians than driving through traffic. Why should pedestrians get special treatment? If they dare step into my roadway they better stay out of the way!

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      matt picio March 18, 2012 at 7:49 pm

      dan, agreed, but the fines are set at the state level – that’s where the effort needs to be placed to change it, and that can’t happen until at least next year since this year’s legislative session is over.

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      wsbob March 18, 2012 at 11:46 pm

      “So aggressive driving on the freeway is a fine of $260, and the fine for running a red light on a bicycle in town costs about the same…misplaced priorities anyone? That fine really should be on a sliding scale, tied to to vehicle weight. ” dan

      Dan…as a road user that walks, bikes, drives, I’ll consider your suggestion for a fine on a sliding scale tied to vehicle weight, and it’s likely that other people are also willing to consider such an idea.

      As part of making that consideration, let me ask you this: In establishing the fines for the sliding scale you suggest, would you propose that about $260 to be the fine for vehicles weights that bikes fall within, with fines for heavier vehicles such as motorcycles, cars, trucks and buses progressively rising from that amount?

      The sense I’ve gotten in reading suggestions such as yours proposed in the past, is that a primary objective of the suggestion for a sliding scale seems to be to greatly reduce the citation amount assigned to traffic infractions made while traveling by bike.

      If it somehow were to be generally agreed that it’s a good idea to reduce the citation amount assigned to traffic infractions made while traveling by bike…how much the citation amount should be reduced is a question raised, and also, whether such a reduction is a good idea from a deterrence standpoint.

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    wsbob March 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Using the decoy bike rider idea to gauge and modify the behavior of people driving with regard to the presence of people riding bikes is worth a try.

    Last week, I had a bit of a difficult time with someone driving eastbound on Millikan Way at Cedar Hills Blvd, where the road is equipped with one of those exchanges of the bike lane from the far right to left of the right turn main lane. On their way into the right turn lane, the person driving, approaching from the rear, made a rather fast sweeping lane change in front of me as I was riding in the bike lane. I didn’t see any rear turn signal on, but the sun shining into the light assembly may have diminished its relative brightness.

    The maneuver wasn’t exactly agressive driving, but was a bit too hasty. With somewhat unusual bike infrastructure like this exchange is, occasionally having decoy bikes out to test the response to it of people driving could help to get a better sense of people’s understanding of how they’re best advised to handle such traffic management situations.

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    Art Fuldodger March 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    “how you could easily do this on city streets and replace the semi with a person riding a large cargo bike and/or carrying kids in a trailer.”

    Seems to me that I remember the PoPo traffic division doing something like this, at least a few times, in the early-mid ’90’s. Not clear if they just talked about doing it, or actually did it a time or 2 (with a decoy cycling cop.

    Anyone remember more details?

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    9watts March 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I would be interested to learn from ODOT whether they consider those numbers 163 (citations etc.) high or low or about average? What fraction of passing vehicles do they represent? 5%? 100%? The number by itself doesn’t tell me if this problematic/illegal behavior is rampant or rare.

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    beelnite March 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Dots…

    Connected…

    🙂

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    El Biciclero March 12, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    This is great, but I wonder what would happen if parallel principles were followed in reducing this type of “enforcement action” down to street level…

    The operation described in this article targeted smaller vehicles acting “aggressively” around a much larger vehicle, failing to exercise what we might call “due care” in interacting with the ODOT truck.

    If the same philosophy were followed in any action involving bikes, it would be cyclists targeted for pulling bonehead moves around autos, likely involving lane changes or technical failures to stay in the bike lane, demonstrating that cyclists don’t show proper “respect” for motor vehicles.

    Granted, I would love to see an action targeting aggressive driving around bikes, but that would be kind of the converse of the highway operation carried out as described above.

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      middle of the road guy March 12, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      i don’t think it has anything to do with “proper respect”…I think that is your persecution complex kicking in.

      Maybe is simply would have to do with creating a hazard for others around you.

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        El Biciclero March 13, 2012 at 9:14 am

        And your perception of a “hazard” is probably different from mine…

        See? We all have our viewpoints. Why is mine a “complex”?

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        Chris I March 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm

        And the higher the vehicle weight, the higher the hazard, and risk to those around you. The argument you might want to try, to support your position, is that graduated fines based on vehicle weight would be too complicated to fairly implement. For example: a car rolls through a stop sign at 1mph, and a cyclist blows through one at 15mph. Who is creating the greater risk?

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    Paul Johnson March 12, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Only 163? Seems low.

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    Fred March 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I would like to see a non-specific mode sting, i.e. select a section of problematic roadway and just ticket anyone that violates the law, regardless of mode of transport. Aggressiveness does not necessary correlate to mode of transport.

    A guy completely freaked out and start screaming at me yesterday from his car while I pedaled over the Sellwood Bridge. This morning, I had a couple of cyclists whip by me very close at high speed on SE Clay while I was stopping for a stop sign. Yea, they blew through without stopping.

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    Tourbiker March 12, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    put a go pro cam 360deg view.
    network hotspot it to nearby unmarked units.
    just ride around downtown in the normal traffic lanes at traffic speeds.
    see how many Vehicular menacing charges they can rack up.

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    Mike Fish March 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Decoy cyclists in a police sting would be great! They should do it!

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    meh March 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Have we not got away from calling these enforcement efforts “Stings”.

    A sting is ” a trap set up by the police to entice a person to commit a crime and thereby produce evidence ”

    They aren’t stings, no one is being enticed into doing anything.

    Law enforcement is out there ticketing people for breaking the law.

    Plain and simple.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      meh,

      you make a good point and I have gone over this issue several times in the past. The thing with the word sting is that it is well-understood by the public so I balance its true meaning with using the most effective word to communicate what actually happened. Thanks for flagging this. I’ll take another look at the story and consider dropping the “sting” for enforcement action. Thanks.

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        Glenn March 13, 2012 at 12:15 pm

        Johnathan, I don’t see any need to change your use of the word “sting.” A sting is an operation to catch a person committing a crime. What meh is describing is entrapment, which is an attempt to entice a person to commit a crime he otherwise would not commit. Entrapment is illegal. A sting is not, provided officers do not cross a sometimes fine line between “catching” and “provoking.” In the article, the motorists cited were not proviked into wrongdoing. They were just behaving they way they normally do and somebody was positioned there to catch them at it. Crosswalk enforcement operations (“sting” if you will) are a good example.

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          naess March 13, 2012 at 5:12 pm

          actually, meh had it pretty spot on about jonathan’s mis-use of the term sting. a “sting” is not just: “an operation to catch a person committing a crime,” it also involves a fair amount of deception on the part of the police with regards to the operation itself. this deception is where these operations begin to sway closer to the line of entrapment.

          examples of a “sting”:

          •Deploying a bait car (also called a honey trap) to catch an auto thief
          •Setting up a seemingly vulnerable honeypot computer to lure and gain information about hackers
          •Arranging someone under the legal drinking age to ask an adult to buy an alcoholic beverage or tobacco products for them.
          •Posing as someone who is seeking illegal drugs, contraband or child pornography to catch a supplier; or as a supplier to catch a customer.
          •Passing off explosives to a would-be terror bomber.
          •Posing as a child in a chat room to lure a child molester
          •An undercover officer posing as a potential customer to raid illegal prostitution.
          •An undercover officer posing as a prostitute to raid illegal solicitation.
          •An undercover officer posing as a hitman to prevent potential murder-for-hire.

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    Spencer Boomhower March 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    I’d like to see a sting targeting people in cars who cross bike boulevards without stopping, or even bothering to look. (I’d say, “and people on bikes too,” but when biking I fear cars far more than I do other bikes.)

    Generally the cars travelling the length of bike boulevards get the idea, moving slowly and keeping an eye out for bikes. Somehow when they’re travelling along the length of the boulevard, they get the idea that it is a traffic-calmed street.

    But traffic crossing bike boulevards is another story.

    Typically you’ve got people cutting through a neighborhood in a hurry. They get to the two-way stop at a bike boulevard and roll right through it while looking one direction, and don’t bother looking the other direction until they’re well into the lane. Maybe they assume it’s a four-way, I don’t know. But I’ve been face to face with a number of these space-cases as they jolt to a startled stop. Usually it’s upon noticing me heading straight for their driver side door.

    That’s assuming they stop, of course; sometimes they don’t. Which is how I ended up on the hood of a car (unharmed, thankfully) at SE 13th and Salmon. A woman in a car slowed, and then started easing into the intersection… With me right in front of her bumper. Funny story: I asked her, “how did you not see me?” and (clearly distraught) she replied, “I was listening to NPR!”

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    Richard March 12, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    When I get the usual harangue about “lawless bicyclists” I just suggest an experiment: drive your car down I-5 at the speed limit, and count the number of cars that pass you. Or pull up a chair at an intersection with four-way stop signs, and count the number of cars that fail to come to a full stop.
    For some reason, drivers who complain endlessly about “Idaho stops” by cyclists seem to feel entitled to drive over the speed limit, and think they actually come to a full stop at stop signs.

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      middle of the road guy March 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      there are no stop signs on the highway. Going faster on the highway may actually be the safer choice if others are going faster, also.

      Running a stop sign? It is rare that I see a cyclist stop. Cars are much more likely to stop….at least on the bike route I live on.

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        John Lascurettes March 12, 2012 at 7:02 pm

        MORG. C’mon. Driving faster may actually be safer? Not by anybody’s scientific analysis it isn’t. It’s proven that higher speeds mean a greater inability to react in time and a greater degree of severity when there’s a collision. You complain about situational enforcement above (“a citation is a citation” was your reaction to someone that had proposed a weight-weighted fine) and yet here, you say, “well, it may be safer.” Howgwash. I hardly think that you’re “middle of the road” on this.

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        wsbob March 12, 2012 at 7:51 pm

        “…Going faster on the highway may actually be the safer choice if others are going faster, also. …” middle of the road guy

        Reasons you believe that may be true, are?

        I-5 between Tigard and Salem seems to be an example of where the pressure to follow a crowd and exceed the speed limit is considerable.

        I’m not sure it’s safer to go with the faster pace, but it can be annoying not to, which may influence people to go faster than they should. In a kind of intimidation tactic, some of the faster motor vehicles run up close to the backside of the motor vehicles of people traveling at the speed limit.

        Cruise control, is handy in situations like this. Peg it at 65mph, and the vehicle stays right at that speed. There shouldn’t really be a need for traveling much over the pegged speed for any lengthy period of time.

        Since the story mentions ODOT’s enforcement action centering around aggressive driver behavior around semi-trucks, some mention should probably be made of any action ODOT may have conducted to gauge the behavior of people driving semi-trucks to people driving cars. A perennial complaint of people that drive cars has to do with semi-truck drivers that aggressively work to build up momentum on downgrades that they then use to climb upgrades. Lots of annoyance can result in that type situation.

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        Paul Johnson March 13, 2012 at 6:58 am

        There might not be stop signs on the highway, but that doesn’t mean people don’t have to stop. Take the Minnesota Freeway southbound into the Rose Quarter almost any day of the week. Or the Stadium Freeway in either direction pretty much any time.

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        Chris I March 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

        I wonder if that was what the drivers on I-84 westbound were thinking last night when they got into a very large multi-car pileup and cost me about 30 minutes on my drive home…

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    Kevin Wagoner March 12, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Excellent idea. I hope Portland Police Bureau does this. I would be happy to ride decoy.

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    CharlieB March 12, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    I would be fine with a PBOT sting aimed at scofflaw cyclists.

    I’m sure most, if not all posters to this sight are law-abiding cyclists who follow the rules of the road (save a few rolling stops perhaps). However, you are living in a glass bubble if you do not recognize the minority of cyclists in this city who blatantly disregard the rules of the road, giving the majority of cyclists a bad reputation and fueling the perception that the cycling community as a whole are entitled whiners with no regard for traffic laws.

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    Jack March 12, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Yet again, I have to ask: why does the PPB not use traffic enforcement to pay for even more traffic enforcement? 163 citations at $260 each = $42,000. That’s $42,000 in just two days of enforcing a small # of traffic laws in an isolated area.

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      wsbob March 13, 2012 at 1:01 am

      The question that always has to be kept in mind is whether the traffic enforcement being conducted is for the purpose of achieving greater safety conditions, or whether it’s being conducted to raise operating revenue. Where police departments are maybe overly fastidious in citing road users for violations, they sometimes do more harm than good.

      It might be kind of interesting though, for someone to try figure out how far the citation revenues went to cover expenses for the ODOT Washington Co enforcement detail. Not that it would be easy to do, or a particularly realistic way to look at achieving safer road conditions.

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    GlowBoy March 12, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I’d love to see a “sting” such as that envisioned by Jonathan. I’m a lot more concerned with scofflaw aggressive drivers than scofflaw cyclists. It’s not about who breaks laws more often, it’s about how much danger that lawbreaking creates. It’s not about enforcing order, it’s about safety.

    And FWIW, a couple weeks ago I got to see some enforcement action against an aggressive driver in Washington County. Short version, I was leaving work late in the evening (in my car) and was subjected to repeated wayyy-too-close tailgating by some jerk. Fortunately it was witnessed by either a Beaverton or Washington County officer and they nailed the bastard.

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    Robin Canaday March 13, 2012 at 6:22 am

    wsbob
    … Millikan Way at Cedar Hills Blvd, where the road is equipped with one of those exchanges of the bike lane from the far right to left of the right turn main lane.

    Yeah, that’s an annoying one, and dangerous from two angles so that you can’t avoid the crossover by riding on the sidewalk. You really have to keep an eye out. At least the traffic is not very heavy right there.

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      Paul Johnson March 13, 2012 at 6:56 am

      Though, to be fair, you really shouldn’t be riding on the sidewalk in the first place if you value your safety. That crossover isn’t that bad, traffic is low volume and slow right there. Heck, you’re lucky to see a car on Millikan that far east.

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      El Biciclero March 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

      This arrangement is actually the best possible that can be constructed with paint. It isn’t unusual at all–I traverse at least three intersections painted this way on my way to work (including Millikan/Cedar Hills) and they work great. The key is to be clear about where you are heading. If you are going straight through, don’t hug or weave toward the right side of the painted bike lane, just go straight. If you are turning right, just stay in the middle of the right turn lane–don’t let drivers try to pass you in a turn.

      Another trick if you are EB on Millikan approaching Cedar Hills and there are no cars around to trigger the signal: as you come around the bend after crossing Hocken, move fully over into the “car” lane, and drift back into the bike lane as you approach the intersection with Cedar Hills. The signal camera will “see” you better and the signal might change without having to wait for a car to show up.

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      wsbob March 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      Robin…your response is to my comment here:

      http://bikeportland.org/2012/03/12/odotwash-co-aggressive-driving-sting-nets-163-citations-68715#comment-2643003

      For me, the bike lane exchange from right side of the road to left of right turn lane generally works very well. I conspicuously signal to make the exchange. Most road users seem to get it. The exchange helps avoid the right hook. At some risk of repeating my remarks in the earlier comment, I’ll further explain that: what I think the person driving was attempting to do as they swept across the bike lane in front of me, was to avoid having to reduce speed for a couple seconds to allow me to proceed down the exchanged bike lane section far enough to let them transition behind me into the right turn lane.

      After the sweeping transition across the bike lane to the right turn lane by the driver, it was apparent that what this person had hoped to do, since cross traffic on CHB was minimal at that time, even though Millikan Way had the red light, was rush up to the intersection and make the right turn without having to wait for CHB traffic to clear before turning. As it turned out, just as this person gets to the intersection, cross traffic appeared, causing them to have to wait. Then, 6-7 seconds later, still a red light, I pull up to the intersection in the bike lane. There the person continues to have to wait. We were right alongside each other for 30 more seconds or so.

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    Quentin March 13, 2012 at 9:34 am

    It’s shameful that enforcing traffic laws for TWO WHOLE DAYS is newsworthy. A $260 fine is nothing, make it $2600 and the possibility of permanently losing your license, and then people might change their behavior. I would like to see traffic cops have the option to take a regular salary or get paid by whatever they can generate in traffic violation fines, minus a small percentage for basic department operating costs. Traffic cops could make thousands of dollars a day and people would learn to stop driving like oblivious maniacs!

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      Will Vanlue (Contributor) March 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm

      Like a bounty on unsafe driving? Interesting idea! It could really make neighborhoods safer too; these same people driving dangerously eventually merge off I-5 and into neighborhood streets all over the Metro area.

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    Opus the Poet March 13, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Back when I still had a job I was riding home after getting off my 2nd shift job on a regular route that went through 4 towns in 15 miles. I know of at least one jurisdiction that cops would have “heated discussions” about who would get to shadow my commute, because idiot drivers would come where I was riding. Not many of them were there because they wanted to give me a bad time, most didn’t even know I was there but the drunk drivers and stoners, red light runners and other idiots flocked to my commute in droves at midnight every night. And every night my shadows were there to clean up. One cop told me they could get a month’s worth of tickets and DUI arrests in one week of shadowing me.

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    Lisa March 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    No. We don’t need more police on our collective case.

    The reason people break traffic laws isn’t because we need more policing. People break traffic laws because of lack of education about how dangerous it is to do so.

    It’s well documented that the police have an uneven focus on law breakers as well. Cops are more likely to pull over poor drivers, young drivers, and racial/ethnic minority drivers. Furthermore, when these drivers do get pulled over, it hurts them more than it hurts wealthier drivers.

    If we want to leverage the police force into making it safer for cyclists, one way to do it would be to mandate as part of academy training, that cadets commute by bicycle for a set amount of time as part of a graduation requirement. That would give them direct experience with all that cycling as a lifestyle entails, and the day-today and occasional hazards cyclists face. I’ve herd so many stories of cops unfairly siding with auto drivers against cyclists in random traffic altercations. So many.

    We can change things in positive, constructive ways instead of going after each other with fear and intimidation by people with tasers, ticket books, handcuffs, and preconceived stereotypes.

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      Anonymous Driver March 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      If you want to be safer as a cyclist, they should make using more than one tiny LED light and one tiny rear LED light required day and night and cyclist should also be required to wear safety vests. Motorcycles permanently have their light on by law…let alone cars need to start being built with their lights permanently on as well.. What is the point of lights if you don;t use them…

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        9watts March 14, 2012 at 11:00 pm

        Yours is certainly a common perspective in this country, Anonymous Driver. But as I’ve pointed out here before it is interesting to compare how some European authorities view this situation. In Austria and Germany, for instance, judges, federal regulators, automobile manufacturers, and consumer advocates all take a position that puts most of the responsibility for not hitting poorly illuminated pedestrians and bicyclists on the driver of the car, their lighting, speed, etc.

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        Paul Johnson March 15, 2012 at 7:50 pm

        You know it’s illegal to drive if you don’t have the eyesight for it, right? Not all road hazards are da-glo green, reflective or blinking. Be glad cyclists are at least one out of three.

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        wsbob March 16, 2012 at 11:55 am

        For bikes, Oregon law doesn’t require a rear tail light; only a reflector, but it does recommend tail lights. Requiring bikes to have tail lights would mean an additional light and batteries to buy and maintain, or another system like a dyno charging hub, but it’s a good idea to spend a little money and get into the practice of keeping that gear in good working order.

        Those laws in Europe…Germany, Austria, claimed to place most of the burden of responsibility for collisions between people driving motor vehicles, people on foot, and people on bikes tend to be talked about in the most general of terms, never giving any specific examples of how those laws work out on the street and in the courts.

        In Oregon, pedestrians aren’t legally required to be illuminated, though some fitness and recreational walkers and joggers are starting to equip themselves with lighting and reflective gear. In Oregon, people on foot aren’t legally required to have anything on their person that would make them visible, let alone illuminated.

        So it is that anyone on foot, walking along or crossing the street is legally entitled to be virtually invisible to even the best, most fit people on the road that are driving and biking.

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          9watts March 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm

          Not true wsbob. I got all technical in recent (October & January) bikeportland conversations you participated in here:
          http://tinyurl.com/73rbp36
          and here:
          http://tinyurl.com/3p6nfqd

          I didn’t and don’t think it necessary to restate all of that here. But my conclusion was:
          “… in my quick perusal of German and Austrian traffic policy and law on this matter this morning I found that reflective clothing by pedestrians is way down on the list of targeted behaviors, after technical improvements to headlights, driver training, law enforcement, increased penalties for drivers who endanger pedestrians, etc. My conclusion, tentative though it may be, is that culpability in car+pedestrian deaths or injuries is not understood the way ODOT’s statistics suggest in the European countries I’ve looked at so far.”

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            wsbob March 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm

            9watts …What’s not true? I don’t seem to be following what you’re trying to get at here.

            What understanding of culpability in car+pedestrian deaths or injuries are you saying ODOT’s stats suggest?

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    9watts March 17, 2012 at 7:40 am

    “What’s not true?”
    wsbob, you said:
    “Those laws in Europe…Germany, Austria, claimed to place most of the burden of responsibility for collisions between people driving motor vehicles, people on foot, and people on bikes tend to be talked about in the most general of terms, never giving any specific examples of how those laws work out on the street and in the courts.”

    That is what I was responding to. I’ve given I think several concrete examples in past discussions of this subject that I didn’t think would need repeating at length here. So I linked to them.

    “What understanding of culpability in car+pedestrian deaths or injuries are you saying ODOT’s stats suggest?”

    Also covered in past conversations here on bikeportland where the two of us were the last two standing… ODOT trotted out statistics about injuries to pedestrians under low light conditions, which they interpreted (I’m going from memory here) as suggesting they (pedestrians) were at fault. My point was, well, in these other countries the authorities look at similar situations differently and seem to generally draw conclusions that fault the drivers in otherwise similar situations.

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      wsbob March 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      9watts …the links you provided in your earlier comment were to past bikeportland stories rather than specific comments in which you say you made points relating to what you’re trying to say here. Individual comments have their own links. You can post them if you want to do that.

      I won’t dwell on the ODOT stats used by that department in which it may have concluded by some study that in cases it looked at, pedestrians tended to be at fault in collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians. Conclusions from studies can vary highly by the process in which they were conducted, interpretation and other things.

      Studies aside, I think it’s a fundamental, underlying fact of road use that in the best of circumstances relative to the competency and care in which most people tend to drive with, people traveling by foot along or across public roads have particularly in the past, commonly and probably to a no small extent unwittingly…presented themselves to vehicle operating road users in situations and circumstances that make them very difficult to see, and sometimes, virtually invisible to people driving motor vehicles.

      Pedestrians don’t have to wear any special visibility enhancing gear to walk along, cross, or otherwise use the road. Pedestrians are road users, but they aren’t legally required to equip themselves in ways that would make them visible to other key road users, which are people that operate vehicles, non-motorized and otherwise.

      That is…not equipped with the exception of due caution…stop-look-listen…and common sense. If all people on foot using the road were impeccable about looking very carefully to make sure the road was clear of vehicle traffic before entering or walking along a road, factoring in weather and other visibility related issues, that would probably clear them in terms of responsibility in the event of collisions between pedestrians and motor vehicles.

      Fact is though, people whether on foot or operating vehicles, are not so impeccable. It’s very common for people on foot to be dressed in daily wear…office, work clothes or whatever, that leave them at times extremely difficult to see in road and street conditions despite the street itself and reference points being able to be seen.

      Society has by and large collectively decided to allow roads to be used for vehicle as well as pedestrian use. This places some burden for safe use of the roads on everyone using them, whether on foot or operating vehicles. So when a person on foot in their use of the road somehow does not aid visibility of themselves to vehicle operating road users, that should not relieve them of some variable responsibility for collisions between themselves and people operating motor vehicles.

      I’d be interested in reading how judges in Germany, Austria work this out when a difficult decision comes before them…one where the person driving the motor vehicle was up to snuff, and the person on foot was too, with the exception of the person on foot not being particularly visible to vehicle operating road users.

      Allowing blame to fall on errant, irresponsible vehicle operating road users isn’t the question here. Allowing blame to unreasonably fall on road users involved in normal, responsible operation of vehicles on the road, is the question.

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        9watts March 17, 2012 at 7:18 pm

        “Individual comments have their own links. You can post them if you want to do that.”

        I didn’t know that. I’m interested to learn how.

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          wsbob March 17, 2012 at 11:37 pm

          9watts…the ‘Link’ button is right there on the left side in every single one of the comments, next to the ‘Quote’ button. Left or right click on it, copy the url that appears, and paste.

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