Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 12th, 2012 at 12:44 pm
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.