Just after 6:00 pm on August 15th, 35-year-old Medford resident Dallas Smith was riding in the bike lane on Main Street in Ashland when he was pulled over by Ashland police officer Steve MacLennan. The offense? Officer MacLennan claimed that Smith was riding his bicycle outside of the bike lane.
“Why are riding on the white line and actually going over into the traffic lane when you have a bike lane here?” the officer asked Smith as he approached him during the traffic stop. When Smith replied that he was avoiding glass and other debris near the curb, which often gives him flats, Ofc. MacLennan dismissively replied. “Nope. No, that doesn’t cut it.”
After issuing the $110 citation, Ofc. MacLennan repeated to Smith that there wasn’t a sufficient amount of debris in the lane to warrant him riding several feet to the left of the curb. As he rode away, Smith asked the officer, “What am I supposed to do up here where there is no bike lane?” “You better ride off to the right then,” Ofc. MacLennan replied.
The entire traffic stop and verbal exchange between the two men was recorded by the officer’s on-board camera and the video was posted on YouTube last week.
This situation brings our attention what is informally referred to as Oregon’s “mandatory sidepath law.” ORS 814.420 is a controversial and often misunderstood law that many people feel we should repeal. The League of American Bicyclists even cited it as one of the reasons Oregon doesn’t rank higher in their Bike Friendly State rankings.
In a nutshell, the law says if there’s a bike lane on the road, you must ride in it. There are exceptions of course; but as we see in this case, a rider and a police officer might disagree on when they come into play. (For more on 814.420, browse our archives.)
It’s a law that Dallas Smith now knows all too well. I’ve emailed with him to learn more about what happened. He said when he got stopped he was biking to Southern Oregon University in Ashland, where he works in the IT department as a software developer.
Smith also said he had a court date to challenge the ticket last Tuesday, but Ofc. MacLennan couldn’t make it so it has been pushed back to January 14th.
At this point, Smith doesn’t have a lawyer so he’s been gleaning advice from friends via Facebook.
“It has been interesting to see people’s response on this,” he wrote to me last night. “Most people seem to feel the same way about it as I do and the cop did not handle the situation in a professional manner.”
The thing is I am not against bike lanes and always ride in them when I don’t consider there to be a hazard. You can even see right before the cop pulled me over I had moved back into the middle of the bike lane.”
The southern Oregon bike advocate who forwarded this video to us said Smith is simply the “victim of an anti bicycle zealot.”
You can watch the video yourself and come to your own conclusion. And if you have input for Smith as he prepares his case for traffic court, he’s all ears.
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I was always under the impression that if an officer could not make a court date, the case was dismissed. Is this not the case? This is just what I have heard.
Yeah, exactly–so next time I get a ticket and the court date isn’t convenient for me, can I just, like, reschedule? Doubt it. No-show forfeits in my book, but I guess my book isn’t a law book, and I’m not a law officer.
Here in Ashland the cops can do whatever they feel like. Bored out of their mind and way overstaffed, they are just looking for this kind of stuff. I am really embarrassed.
Your comment suggests you’re saying you live in Ashland. If any more news about it is available, I think many people that followed this story originally, may still be interested. They probably would still like to know whether Dallas Smith, the person reported to have received the citation, went to court to talk with the judge about it, and what the outcome was.
It doesn’t work that way, because YOU have the option to contest it or not.
Since it is unknown, at the time, if they are to appear, they might be required to attend a different hearing that day.
The cop can ask the date be rescheduled. If the cop doesn’t show up and doesn’t reschedule then the case is usually dismissed.
changing a court date is ok, but not appearing IN court is not ok
I wonder if the officer gives many tickets to motorists who stray into the bike lane. A lot of motorists find it difficult to drive between those two lines on the road. Parity under the law?
I just returned from a meeting with the officer on another subject but have spoken with him on this particular stop previously. He is not a anti bike. He went back after the citation and looked over the bike lane for hazards. He enforces all the traffic laws and he sees citations as educational and crash prevention.
Ofc. MacLennan’s take was that the cyclist was weaving back and forth both in the bike lane and out of it. If you saw a motorist doing that same thing in a travel lane would you not want them stopped? Come on, if we want to have equal rights then we must operate under the same laws.
Ofc. MacLennan is a strong advocate of the bicycle citation diversion program in Ashland and I have found him to be even handed in his role as an enforcement officer.
I am a League Cycling Instructor and founder of the the Ashland Diversion program, strong cycling advocate and strong supporter of education.
I do not agree with the bike lane law but as long as we have a law it should be enforced, any law. If you want a good return on your investment of time write to your representatives stating your reasons this law should be struck down.
One more question. How many of those commenting on this have had any formal cycling education?
“as long as we have a law it should be enforced, any law.”
I do not agree. For two reasons.
(1) This particular law is misguided, reflects a paternalistic view of cycling, serves no purpose.
(2) We have hundreds of laws on the books that govern behavior that is dangerous, that kills people every day, that are not enforced (speeding, distracted driving to name just two of the most common).
Since you asked, I have had (some) formal cycling instruction–in grade school in Germany.
“…Ofc. MacLennan’s take was that the cyclist was weaving back and forth both in the bike lane and out of it. …” Bill Heimann
In this incident, it seems to have been the manner in which the person riding was leaving and re-entering the bike lane that may have been cause for alarm on the part of the officer.
From the police video, the person riding didn’t appear to be holding a line well, either in the bike lane or outside of it, action which seen by other approaching and passing road users driving motor vehicles in the main lane may have represented someone possibly about to veer in front of their motor vehicle.
This would lead many of them accordingly, to feel they had to swing wider than otherwise necessary, away from the right side of the lane to avoid what would appear to be the likelihood of a collision with such a person riding a bike.
Glad you had an opportunity to talk with the officer that issued the citation. In fact, even more details about his take on this incident and to what extent he’s issued citations for similar actions, would have be welcome.
A fact that all road users should familiarize themselves relative to use of bikes on the road, is that ORS 814.420 http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.420 does allow people to ride their bikes outside the bike lane for a range of reason, including to avoid hazards. I think that would include hazards that are actual, or reasonably suspected of being present in the bike lane.
“the person riding didn’t appear to be holding a line well”
In the six seconds of video where his line is visible it looks like his track covers maybe ten inches horizontally. That’s holding a good line in my book and shouldn’t alarm any drivers about weaving or wobbling. The problem is that his line covered both sides of the six-inch MSP stripe.
“A fact that all road users should familiarize themselves relative to use of bikes on the road, is that ORS 814.420 http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.420 does allow people to ride their bikes outside the bike lane for a range of reason, including to avoid hazards. I think that would include hazards that are actual, or reasonably suspected of being present in the bike lane.”
That didn’t keep Dallas Smith from being ticketed.
“…From the police video, the person riding didn’t appear to be holding a line well, either in the bike lane or outside of it, action which seen by other approaching and passing road users driving motor vehicles in the main lane may have represented someone possibly about to veer in front of their motor vehicle.
This would lead many of them accordingly, to feel they had to swing wider than otherwise necessary, away from the right side of the lane to avoid what would appear to be the likelihood of a collision with such a person riding a bike. …” wsbob
In the six seconds of video where his line is visible it looks like his track covers maybe ten inches horizontally. That’s holding a good line in my book and shouldn’t alarm any drivers about weaving or wobbling. The problem is that his line covered both sides of the six-inch MSP stripe. …” Alan 1.0
What I remember from the audio of the video, is the officer explaining to the person riding, that prior to stopping him, on the way elsewhere to take care of other business, he’d also previously observed his manner of riding. It would seem then that the officer had observed more of rider Dallas Smith’s riding manner, that those of us watching the police video are seeing.
So far as those of us reading know, Smith has just been cited. No word as to whether he contested in court, and what the outcome was. Basically, officers have an obligation to act, possibly cite if that’s what’s called for, if they believe a violation of the law has occurred, but their view isn’t necessarily the last word on an incident. I’ve been hoping Dallas Smith would contact bikeportland with an update.
If you are granted a citation, you have the option to pay the fine or appeal the hearing. Officers are not going to be paid to sit around and wait, while you consider.
So, when you do appeal, and the officer is there (sometimes they are there for other cases), they can proceed at that time. If they are not available, it needs to be scheduled.
If they fail to show at a scheduled hearing, the judge has the discretion to make a judgement based on only what is presented. The Officer can also submit a written statement, as well as the full dash camera footage… to which the judge can rule from.
The only time the judge “automatically” throws out a court case, is when the accuser has not provided enough information or the circumstances are grey to begin with.
Many times, the Judge reduces charges and reduces fine.
Never make left turns while riding a bike in Ashland. Got it!
“victim of an anti bicycle zealot.”
Yeah. That looks about right.
Question. Did the person on the bicycle have to show ID? Could he have just given his name and address? What if he didn’t have his DL?
He does not have to carry ID, no. But if the officer asks him to identify himself and he doesn’t have an ID, he is allowed to detain him until he can ascertain that identity as being correct.
What I want to know, does this officer ever pull a driver over for crossing the 8″ bicycle lane – because I can guarantee if I rode through Ashland that I’d find the stripes worn down at curves in the road.
An officer can detain someone only if a law has been broken. You are under no obligation to surrender ID until they tell you what the citation or criminal violation is.
I tried that once and had to wait on the side of the road surrounded by officers until they got a portable thumb print scanner brought down to ID me. It was about a two hour wait in the cold after midnight. Why did the cop stop and ask me for ID? Because I was changing a flat in Irvington late at night. Clearly a fantastic reason to stop and detain someone.
Being surrounded by LEOs is a common tactic but it does not mean that they will stop you from leaving. Simply ask if you are free to go and, if not, ask what you are being charged with. If they detain you without reasonable suspicion lawyers will beg for the chance to sue.
YOU HAVE A RIGHT NOT TO CARRY ID OR IDENTIFY YOURSELF
~ by Ray Thomas
Ray Thomas is a Portland bike lawyer.
>Q: What if law enforcement officers stop me on the street?
A: You do not have to answer any questions. You can say, “I do
not want to talk to you” and walk away calmly. Or, if you do not
feel comfortable doing that, you can ask if you are free to go. If
the answer is yes, you can consider just walking away.
In this case, he was getting a citation (or did eventually). So it would have applied. For Scott’s situation, all I can say is “WTF?!” Police bullyism.
I think we need a mandatory I-5 law –
“if there’s a freeway parallel to a road, you must drive on it; no hopping over to Barbur just because things are slower than you’d like. Remember you aren’t stuck in traffic, you are traffic.”
No more cutting through my neighborhood instead of staying on the arterials that run directly around it? I like it.
9watts, this comment is one your best ever. kudos.
That means you give him your name and address and he checks the computer.
Something I noticed in the video is he volunteered his license; maybe I missed it but I don’t recall the officer asking for it. I read a book a long time ago (written by a NY State Police officer) on how to avoid getting tickets. It emphasized being cooperative, but not offering up any paperwork until it is explicitly asked for, and then describing verbally what you’re doing as you are doing it (and do it slowly and carefully, though not obnoxiously). Part of the underlying psychology is that the longer you spend in a conversation with someone the longer you’re able to establish a human rapport with them and increase their empathy. Tone of voice plays a big role in this as well. Even after receiving a ticket it’s best not to get defensive – though I’ve made that mistake and know it’s easier said than done.
Good luck Dallas!
It seems the officer’s complaint is with the way cars and trucks behaved around the cyclist, not anything shown on this video.
why didn’t he also give a ticket to the guy who was riding outside the bike lane to avoid his patrol car in the video?
The cop was wrong and now this poor soul has to spend half a day in court trying to clear himself of this ticket.
Repeal ORS 814.420!
and until it’s repealed, violate ORS 814.420 as often as you can!
I don’t have to violate the law–the construction of most bike lanes creates it’s own exception to the law, seeing as how most bike lanes are hazards. Now, getting an officer to agree with me, that’s the trick.
getting some bike “advocates” to agree with you is a trick too…
“…After issuing the $110 citation, Ofc. MacLennan repeated to Smith that there wasn’t a sufficient amount of debris in the lane to warrant him riding several feet to the left of the curb. …” maus/bikeportland
Difficult for me to view the video (dial-up), don’t know what the officer’s exact words were. I think though, since he’s apparently cited someone for this reason, the officer should be obliged to defend his claim about there not being enough debris in the bike lane of a type that would pose a hazard to someone riding a bike in the bike lane.
If he really did somehow follow Smith along every foot of the bike lane Smith had to appraise as to whether it was safe for him to ride his bike in, and still believe there wasn’t enough junk in the bike lane to justify riding outside of it…maybe he’s got a legitimate reason to issue the citation.
The wording of the law allows ‘hazards’ associated with the bike lane, to not be confined only to tire deflating road junk as legitimate reason to ride outside the bike lane, to one side of the bike lane, or on the white line dividing bike lane from main lane.
Still shot of the vid I can see above shows what looks to be a nice, wide, smooth bike lane, but flint, glass, bits of metal, etc, virtually indiscernible to someone driving or riding inside a motor vehicle outside the bike lane, can be very apparent to someone riding a bike and evaluating whether the lane is free enough of road junk to avoid flatting or other mishaps.
the guy n the bike points to the bike lane right where they’re at as an example of there being too much debris… they don’t need to go back to where he was previously riding…
in the video the resolution is horrible so you’ll never see small debris… but you can clearly see that the color of the road changes indicating that there’s loose debris in all but the left-most side of the bike lane…
A dismissive cop asking rhetorical questions?!? Now that’s news.
Reminds me of the Casey Neistat bike lanes video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzE-IMaegzQ ) where he was given a ticket when he was trying to dodge obstructions in the bike lane.
If automobiles ran the same rules, when there was a pothole in the street and they had to go around it, they would be given a ticket.
This is ridiculous logic.
Dallas Smith should bring Casey’s video to court on an Ipad or Laptop . If the police can show a video so can he.
Knock on the wood I haven’t had this happen to me – yet. I frequently avoid bicycle lanes in downtown for a simple reason: I can keep up with the pace of traffic. In addition to being narrow, bicycle lanes also frequently introduce dooring and right-hook hazards that are avoided by taking the lane.
This awful law needs to be repealed ASAP. And then pass an Idaho Stop law!
Not to mention the infamous “hotel zone” on SW Broadway. Also, you’re allowed to to pass other cyclists as well by leaving the bike lane as I do frequently.
I understand that the job of a police office can be difficult and thankless. But there is no reason for the condescending way he dealt with this situation. What is wrong with just being respectful? It seems to be they way many of them are these days.
Cops can have a hard job. Being a cop in Ashland is not a hard job.
Sometimes the Shakespeare people get really rowdy…
This is absolutely ridiculous. Since when is the white lane “outside the bike lane” anyway? We are allowed to leave the lane for hazards. We are the people in danger, we get to define what a hazard is. Someone who doesn’t ride is qualified to make that call. This cop clearly has an anti-cycling agenda.
Correction, someone who doesn’t ride is NOT qualified to make that call. Oops.
Well…police officer’s, whether they ride or not, are supposed to be qualified to make such a call before issuing the citation; for various reasons, this particular one may not have been.
Ofc. MacLennan may find himself being the center of a lot of interest related to his handling of this incident. Hopefully, that will ultimately be constructive for everyone.
If Oregon wants to keep this ridiculous law on it’s books, then it needs to be out re-painting, re-paving and cleaning all the garbage, gravel, and standing water out of the travel lanes.
Time for this cop to get some time on a bicycle.
Time for a lot of people in this state to spend some time on a bicycle. Too busy cashing all those paychecks they’re making living in a state that’s booming, with cycling being a major cause of that boom to begin with, to really do that, though.
I don’t fully understand why this forum always sides with the cyclist. The officer in the video seems quite confident that a video of the lane will demonstrate that there were no hazards. I don’t see anything to suggest otherwise.
And this blog always, always is pushing for bike lanes. Reading these comments makes it sound like bike lanes are too hazardous to use anyway.
If the bike lane is safe, use it if for no other reason than to justify their existence. If it isn’t, don’t. Please don’t just reflexively support the cyclist over the cop. There simply isn’t enough evidence in the video to say who is right or who is wrong.
I think the general consensus here is that:
A) The law is stupid
B) Because of A), the law should rarely be enforced. If it is enforced, there better be a good reason.
I think it is pretty obvious from the video that there was no good reason to stop the cyclist. He was not obstructing traffic, and was not creating a hazard for anyone.
Also, it is pretty clear from the video (which isn’t that hi-res) that the cyclist was riding in the bike lane, then moved left and rode right on the white line or just an inch or so across for 30 feet or so. I’d really love to see ANY officer ANY where who has ever pulled over a motorist for drifting over the fog line for just 30 feet once (not repeatedly) without some other evidence.
There is no way in the video at this resolution that you could see glass, gravel or debris that might have been present.
The glass in the road is going to be behind where the bicycle and the Police car stopped so it is not going to be in the video.
Glass in bike lanes constitutes a hazard. Not sure why the cop has chosen to be a dick.
I’d just say ‘Let’s walk back, and if there isn’t any glass exactly where I say it is, write me a ticket and I’ll take it with a smile.’
I believe the “mandatory sidepath” law is a discriminatory motorist-centric statute so I intentionally break it whenever its safe and convenient to do so.
One likely reason is that in the articles presented here, the cyclists are (almost) always right. That could be because of bias in article selection, or it could be that the cyclist is always right. My money is on bias in article selection.
In addition, in this particular case: the law is stupid; even granting that it might have been violated, the violation was trivial; the officer was an ass; and the car-equivalent of this law is practically never enforced.
One completely sensible reason to ride far to the left edge of the bike lane that I saw was the side street; as a matter of habit, when approaching a side street, you want to be as far from the curb as possible to ensure that you can see approaching side traffic and the side traffic can see you.
Happily, we lack this particular asinine law in Massachusetts, and it’s a good thing, because the random behavior of local highway departments means that “bike lanes” (where they exist — usually, we’re talking about a paved shoulder, but good fat tires are more tolerant of a lot of that) are often pretty bogus. Our roads are also frequently filthy, filled with sand, you name it. In fact, here:
Personally, I ride outside of bike lanes most of the time I’m on a street with a bike lane in Portland. Generally, the bike lanes are in the door zone, which I consider to be a “hazard” per the statute. But I also attempt to avoid such streets as much as I can because people driving are sometimes be rude and/or dangerous when I ride outside of the bike lane.
Good work officer. This ticket is going to make a huge difference in your community, and will ensure that this menace never hurts someone with his reckless riding habits. You deserve more overtime pay.
He could have KILLED someone!
It would be interesting for this cyclist to make a public records request in this city about the number of warnings and citations issued for staying with in the lane (post ORS 814.420)…to see if there is a trend in such by mode (motor vehicles vs. non motorized vehicles). And the subset of those issued by this officer.
Perhaps some students at the local college can help him with any statistical analysis.
I’m with wsbob on this one: it sure LOOKS like the bike lane was in pretty decent shape, at least where it’s visible in the video. Without knowing more, I can’t rule out the possibility that the cyclist was just being a dork who thinks he and his fragile racing bike are too special for the bike lane.
I see what looks like a sunken storm drain just ahead of where they’re standing–if not, then some scattered debris of some type. I’ll often ride the edge of the bike lane because the hazards nearer the curb are intermittent, yet not worth weaving in and out around them. It’s better to hold a line on a clear path than weave around hazards and risk getting cited for “riding erratically”, or “scaring drivers”. I’d like to see the officer’s video evidence that he supposedly went back to collect of the area of the bike lane where the rider was “too far left”.
Given the compressed video quality of the footage it would be tough for us the audience to see any small but typically “lethal” to tires debris such as fine glass or metal shards…
Plus the Cop seems to be officially acting to the final “line” that the cyclist was taking through the “unmarked” [bike lane dropped] intersection, it makes common sense as a non motorized vehicle operator traveling through an intersection to deviate closer into the motorized vehicle swept lane area than into the portion directly between the path (or line) of the marked bike lane sections, as that area typically has “piles” of debris from all 4 directions of vehicle movements though the intersection…assuming the lane is not occupied by a car then.
[A lot of the roadway “hazard” is effected by multiple conditions we the audience cannot really see that well on the video footage…such as the road conditions (fine pavement quality, adjoining land uses/ industrial gravel deliveries etc., city street sweeping frequency and maintenance, and of course the cyclist’s choice in tire (width, PSI, flat protection, tread condition and quality). We will have to take the word of the cyclist unless the APD documented the conditions more thoroughly to challenge the cyclist’s opinion.]
GlowBoy…thanks, but from what’s been reported, I wasn’t implying, or wouldn’t necessarily conclude the guy riding was a dork, prima donna or whatever, for not riding down the center of what looks to be, in just the still frame of the video, a nice, wide, smooth bike lane.
In riding on nice bike lanes like the one shown, it’s not uncommon at all to see glints from the sun, and shadows off of bits of all kinds of junk that could potentially be tire piercing objects. If it seems small enough, I’ll sometimes risk riding through stuff like that to allow greater clearance between myself and the bike and passing motor vehicles.
Otherwise, especially if there’s little or no main lane traffic on the road, I think it’s better and legal to ride either the line or the main lane itself.
Seriously? Give the guy the benefit of the doubt…he is the one riding in the lane with a clear view of what’s in front of him. On the other hand, you are looking at grainy video footage taken by an officer’s dash cam.
Based on your insult and derision I’m going to guess that you too have been inconvenienced by the traumatic experience of having a cyclist in your way.
Well, you guessed wrong. I’m aware that the ORS provides a long list of exceptions to the sidepath law, and I invoke them myself on a regular basis.
But I’ve also seen plenty of primadonnas riding on the edge of, or outside, the bike lane because there was a tiny bit of sand or gravel that wouldn’t threaten any bike tire tougher than a party balloon.
If there really was enough debris in the bike lane to justify his riding, why hasn’t he posted a YouTube video of THAT? If I’d been in his place I would IMMEDIATELY gone back to confirm the exactly location and nature of the debris after I was done interacting with the cop, and if I didn’t have a video camera with me I would have gone back home and gotten one.
“…primadonnas riding on the edge of, or outside, the bike lane because there was a tiny bit of sand or gravel that wouldn’t threaten any bike tire tougher than a party balloon. …” GlowBoy
That’s a good point, and conversely to my earlier comment above, where I said it’s possible he had a good, legal reason to be riding outside the bike lane, it’s also possible that Smith didn’t have a particularly good reason to be riding outside the bike lane while Ofc. MacLennan observed him, which ultimately had him decide to cite Smith.
If whether this is true or not can’t be ascertained from the video some of us here have seen, that’s where the efforts and judgment of other people helping out Smith and the officer on a first hand basis, and of course, that of the judge, will be particularly important to ultimately figuring out what’s fair in this situation.
That some people riding will be inclined to make irresponsible, unjustified use of the main lanes of the road, may be one of the reasons laws such as 814.420 came to be in the first place.
How can it be irresponsible or unjustified to take the lane? “I am traffic calming.”
dallas was cycling at a reasonable clip and, if he was violating this very rarely-enforced discriminatory motorist-centric statute, the violation was incredibly trivial.
i strongly support bike lanes for those who cycle slowly and cautiously.
nevertheless, cycling in a bike lane is almost always the more dangerous option for those who cycle at higher speeds (e.g. 20+) in a situation where speed differential is low (<15 mph).
This cyclist may well have been going at a fast 20+mph clip, but as shown by the vehicles passing him the speed differential was not low.
First, this kind of citation makes me very angry. This cyclist was doing everything correctly and still gets a ticket–just because this officer felt like it. I think parentalism (if that’s a word) is at the root of a lot of stops like this. If you’re on a bike, you get treated like a child, which means you can get tickets “for your own good”–and, as someone mentioned above–you don’t get treated respectfully at all. “Look, young man–as long as you want to ride on my streets, you’ll follow my rules! Got it? –Don’t give me any of your sass and back-talk, or I’ll make it $200! Wanna go for 3? I didn’t think so.”
Again, any time I have been stopped in my car, the first thing the officer asks (other than to see my license and reg) is “do you know why I pulled you over today?” But so many of the cases I’ve heard about, seen on video, or experienced (once) myself of cyclists being stopped by police start with either “what do think you’re doing?”-style lectures or threats of immediate arrest. B frickin’ S.
On the flip side, to those that believe licenses or registration/license plates are necessary to “hold cyclists accountable”, lookee here…
Actually, I honestly don’t think he did it for the cyclist’s “own good” – he did it because he was annoyed that other motor vehicles were giving him space (crossing the center line) as they passed him. He did it because he feels that the bike was an annoyance to the mighty motorized vehicles.
Tomayto/potahto–I often hear complaints about cyclists “inconveniencing” motorists framed as “you’re gonna get yourself killed!”, i.e., “you’d better get out of the way–for your own good!” I’m sure the real motivation is as you say, a belief that drivers should be able to proceed unimpeded by anything other than other drivers, and they certainly should not have to keep a lookout for cyclists if there is a bike lane, since any and all cycling individuals should be well into the bike lane if not on the sidewalk, out of the way. Besides, passing cyclists is scary and if some driver hits one, they’ll have to live with it–no cyclist has the right to impose that kind of psychological trauma on a poor, unsuspecting motorist!
Regardless of the true underlying reason, I still believe that many citations like this are driven by a parental need to keep the “kids” in line, especially given the number of times I see autos “drift” into the bike lane, park there to make phone calls, use it as a right-turn bypass, fail to stop before entering the bike lane when leaving a driveway–literally hundreds of incursions into the bike lane by motor vehicles every week (I was even cut off in the bike lane recently by a police van whose driver was collecting temporary photo speed radar warning signs)–and yet I have my doubts whether any traffic officer would even consider citing a motorist for this infraction. Why? Well, grown-ups lead complicated lives and sometimes they just have too much going on to pay attention to small little details like which lane they are driving in.
But I’m cynical when it comes to traffic enforcement vs. safety; they are often working 180 degrees against each other.
Section 3.C considers debris/hazardous conditions an exception. They also have to prove the lane is suitable to ride in (he is going to have to have a pretty closeup video to prove there is no glass considering the dashcam would have a hard time showing any normally) according to the law so your statement saying it is not is what they need to prove (essentially you are not guilty yet). To quote the officer as he says initially (then states the opposite at the end to not consider glass and rocks debris) “it is not debris that is going to be causing a problem” when the law says exactly the opposite in the same language. You are also a vehicle – say a car crosses over a white line twice as it appears may have happened here with you that he saw, they usually wait till three for probable cause to pull one over.
What about tackling this from a tourism point of view?
Having stopped by in the way down I5, I’d been looking forward to spending some vacation time there.
After watching this video, that absolutely won’t happen.
Ashland is basically a strip shopping mall for people driving to and from California on I-5, so it’s gonna be cars first, suckas!
Ashland cops are also known for such things as kicking buskers with amplified music out of the parks and downtown area. It happened to the Sprockettes once, when they tried to give an impromptu free performance in an Ashland park.
In section 3 of the ORS 814.420 the term “safely” is used…the accused may wish to seek a local expert witness to review the video footage and state for the record that the cyclist’s movements to avoid debris was “safe” as the motor vehicles passing him did so without crisis or hazardous reactions….honking, panic swerving or braking etc. …as allowed in the statute.
The provided video may be the best witness aid for the accused in this case, as it looks link the only visible car passing the cyclist in the provided footage did not have to leave their lane nor brake heavily (red lights?).
Perhaps the BTA has a list of such expert witness resources down south?
3) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of:
( c ) Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions.
sorry typo…”link” should have been “like”
I’d bring a tire to court flatted by a tiny piece of glass. I’d ask the officer what the ‘official’ size a piece of glass must be to be considered a hazard. I’d put 10 different pieces of glass in front of him and ask him to make the cutoff point between ‘hazard’ and ‘not hazard’. I’d do everything I could to make it obvious he couldn’t adequately assess what a hazard looks like from a moving car.
With the benefit of hindsight, the smart thing for the cyclist to do is go back to the path in question, and *collect* some of the debris to bring into court.
all of the debris from an entire 50′ section of the bike lane ought to be enough evidence…
I agree, but (to compound the extremely inconvenient aspects of fighting a citation when you’re in the right) it would be better to have some other adult collect and present this evidence, and I would hold that line of argument in reserve and bring it up only if the officer actually testifies that there was no significant debris…
To be admissible evidence needs to relevant and you need to establish foundation for it being what you say it is (in contrast if the officer follows through on his promise/threat to go collect (low res grainy) video, the court is going to be inclined to use that evidence as self-proving) so better to have someone whom you can ask (and whom can be cross examined) about how and where it was collected
Try to keep the Perry Mason A-Ha moments to a minimum; Judges/Magistrates hate that crap.
That may be something to do to help raise awareness of what can constitute ‘hazard’ as specified in 3c of ORS 814.420. The judge may need that kind of information if he or she doesn’t have some first hand familiarity with debris that confronts people riding in the bike path.
I don’t know what size or type of “…twig…” Ofc. MacLennan was referring to in the police video, but unless they’ve been ground to a pulp that’s not likely to pose a threat, twigs are one type of debris I try avoid riding over.
How Smith will be able to effectively provide examples to the court of reasons existing in the particular bike lane that was available for use on the road he was riding, that justified his use of the white line or the main lane, I wouldn’t want to say right off. But there may be a way, and hopefully, with some help, he’ll be able to figure a way to get that done.
That said and done, looking at the police vid, finally yesterday after reading other people’s response to it here, I’d say Ofc. MacLennan’s response to what he observed doesn’t appear entirely unreasonable. Busy road, lots of traffic, including trucks, and there’s Smith on his bike, weaving back and forth from right to left of the white line distinguishing bike lane from main lane. Shown in the short vid segment, he doesn’t much hold a line, which has the unfortunate effect of having his movement possibly cause alarm to other road users. If there was junk on the white line itself that had Smith weaving about the way he did, hopefully he’ll be able to give good reason for the court to believe that was so.
The statute has several provisions that could be very helpful here. Dallas should call Mark Ginsberg and get some actual lawyer advice. [Tip: Oregon bike lawyers generally are willing to give a lot of free advice if it is a deserving situation.]
Coincidentally, Roger Geller (Bicycle Coordinator for City of Portland, speaking to the PSU Transportation class last night) mentioned that he’d testified in a citation hearing, opining that, based on the specific facts that case, it was reasonable not to ride in the bike lane. The citation was dismissed. If I remember right that was Mark’s case. I haven’t heard of heavy-handed citations around Portland lately for not riding in the bike lane. Thank you, Mark.
My friends (and fellow attorney) Scott Kocher is right, Dallas, call me! (503) 542-3000.
I haven’t tried a bicycle traffic court case, since this past Monday!
I doubt I can drive down to Ashland for trial, but there is case law on this issue (google State v. Potter), and I have tried this case several times in the Critical Mass context.
My general take is that if you read ORS 814.420(2), we would need to see if a hearing was every held to make the lane declared safe (unlikely). So then the lane’s being mandatory isn’t actually the case. BUT traffic court is not slanted in our favor.
the “requirement for certification” was the tactic first used by the german cycling federation (ADFC) to successfully fight the german madatory sidepath law. i hope that similar challenges in OR will force city councils and local governments to choose between spending time and money on pointless “certifications” or ending enforcement of this statute.
except with State v. Potter he lost on both counts, even though he shouldn’t have lost on either… so that’s certainly not helpful precedent… best to have a judge without bias see it…
I will give you a call tomorrow. Quick point on the public hearing this bike lane was just put in about a year ago and is still under a trial period for the city. I have looked at all the city council meetings in the past year and no public hearing has been made.
Let’s face it folks, officer MacLennan is right. And from now on, just to be both safe and legal, I’m going to start riding with a broom and dustpan so I can sweep up all the broken glass. I’ll never have to risk inconveniencing a motorist by leaving a bike lane again! It just makes sense and takes so little effort…who’s with me on this?
these will be the only legally allowed bicycles…
This is the rare event that justifies a lot of the paranoia of the (us) vehicular cycling people–a bike facility in some confused porcine brains can mean a mandate to use it even when it doesn’t really work.
As a cyclist who commutes 30 miles per day x 4 days per week x 49 weeks I look at this video and say: Yup, looks like he more likely than not violated the law. Do what motorists do when they commit an infraction. Suck it up and pay the ticket. If you’re worried about flats buy some better tires. I ride 6000 miles per year on Gatorskins. I weigh 200 lbs. I haven’t had a flat in 1 1/2 years.
Wonderful. And it seems you think everyone that likes to ride a bike on the road, should have to set it up with gatorskins or some other kind of heavy duty tire, that may require a bigger, fatter wheel, so they can ride over crap thrown into the bike lane by the tires of motor vehicles traveling in the main lanes.
Even not getting a flat, riding over the range of junk that’s often in bike lanes, is no picnic, which is why the main lanes are the logical and legal option, when circumstances allow riding in them.
I have gotten flats with Gatorskins. Granted, I do weigh more than you.
I hope this is not a digression, but I was driving down SW Broadway today and the bike lane (on the other side of the parked cars) was full of deeply piled leaves. Is use of the bike lane still required in this case? I saw a couple of people riding bikes in the car lane because I don’t think they could even tell the bike lane was there.
A: to answer our question directly – No. The pile of leaves poses a hazard. They can either be slippery, an impediment to your momentum, or be hiding other hazards like potholes or glass.
B: The portland cycle track (I believe that’s what your describing) near PSU is actually considered “in trial” and it is optional and not required to use it as a side path (or so it was said by PPB when first reported on by BP).
“… I was driving down SW Broadway today and the bike lane (on the other side of the parked cars) was full of deeply piled leaves. Is use of the bike lane still required in this case?…” stephanie b
Stephanie…read ORS 814.420 and decide for yourself whether according to the law, people should have to ride their bike through big piles of leaves in the bike lane.
Also, roads, including Broadway, don’t have lanes named ‘car lanes’ dedicated for use only by people driving cars. Except for bike lanes, most lanes of the road are I think, generally referred to as ‘main lanes’. With some conditions, people traveling by bike are allowed to ride in any of the main lanes, and the bike lane. People driving are allowed to drive only in the main lanes; people are allowed to drive their cars across the bike lane, but aren’t allowed to drive in them.
No, a pile of leaves is a clear hazard (unlike what’s visible in the video) and you are justified in leaving the bike lane.
I should add that besides the immediate traction hazard presented by leaves, they often conceal rocks, large sticks and other, more serious dangers.
ORS 814.420 clause 3c states “not in violation” when “[a]voiding debris or other hazardous conditions.” Glass constitutes a hazardous condition as it could cause the bicycle tires to burst. If that occurred, the bicyclist could lose control of the bicycle or fall into moving traffic. The same would be true for avoiding sticks, rocks, storm grates, uneven sewer potholes, uneven seams in the road, etc. I will exercise my right to observe clause 3c whenever leaving the bike lane is safer for me and/or drivers.
speaking of which, what is up with that crazy hole in the bikelane/shoulder just up the hill from Chavez/39th on Woodstock? I flipped my bike trailer last night after managing to catch the right wheel in it. In traffic. Nice. Luckily the traffic was slow/having turned left off Chavez with me just a half a block earlier.
Get yourself this app and use it to report potholes to the city: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bts/53613
It’s the PDX Reporter app. Every time I’ve used it to report a pothole or other road hazard, the hazard has been fixed in a matter of only a few weeks (sometimes days!).
Thanks for that suggestion. Unfortunately I don’t have anything that will run an app. My phone has a cord.
other cities/counties: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/319627
somebody needs to forward this thread to the Chief of Police in Ashland so he can see what a picky dick his officer is …
I suggest writing to the mayor of Ashland to let him know how your travel plans might not include the city of Ashland in the future. I can only imagine that Ashland depends on tourism.
I’m guessing the officer has never himself had the experience of regularly commuting by bicycle using bike lanes like this one. Debris of every kind, including small nearly unnoticeable crap that can give you a flat in an instant, is the norm, not the exception.
And also, what’s with being so disdainful in tone from the very first instant. I’m not saying I’m surprised or anything, that’s also been my own experience of police while I’m on my bike, almost without exception.
I cannot see how the officer could determine if there was not glass, rocks or other debris that would have caused the rider a problem. When it comes to the cop’s word against the cyclist’s, I wonder who the court will believe?
I admit, I have done this many times for the same reason. This is a crazy law.
the cop seems to say that getting a flat isn’t a hazard…
if this ticket isn’t thrown out then it’d be legal for me to leave broken bottles in the motor-vehicle lanes and illegal for cars to go around it, since flat-inducing glass wouldn’t be an acceptable hazard…
The problem is car tires are (nearly) immune to flats by glass. Maybe a more equivalent analogy would be to leave a spike strip in motor-vehicle lanes.
This sort of thing leaves me asking the question: are bike lanes there to provide a safe path for those who pedal, or is their purpose just to get bicycles out of the way?
Definitely B, although non-cycling motorists will say “A”.
Such is the argument for “safety”, where “safe” means “out of the way of cars”, not necessarily “in the safest possible place on the road”.
I agree – B. In terms of real estate, these gutter lanes are the least valuable and most dangerous location on the road, full of service items and generally not well maintained.
I carry a small broom with me. Takes only a moment to brush the debri away. Last week I took my saws all to some brush that was not allowing me to stay in the bike lane.
If I took a “moment” to stop and sweep up each bit of debris in the bike lane that could give me or someone else a flat, my one-hour commute would stretch to about two hours, if I didn’t get run over while stopping to sweep. I’ve also never been successful sweeping storm drains up to grade level or sweeping pavement seams or sloppy patch jobs out of the way.
Suspend the Officer
reminds me of how most burb cops treat others that don’t drive a car.
bad cops everywhere now hard to find a good one. * all about money *
If there is a car turning right going thru the bike lane to pass a couple of cars and take the run earlier, can I bash the car with my ulock? If there is a “worker ahead” sign in my bike lane can I throw it onto the road to the left?
I always move work signs out of the bike lane and into the motor-vehicle lane… unless there’s a warning that the bike lane will be closed ahead, which is very rare…
Just an FYI — last time I flatted, it was a tough, non-skinny tire (I do think fat tires are good idea), and the sharp thing was not at all sparkly: http://flic.kr/p/dZaUiy . And the flat before was an inconspicuous hunk of steel wire, but I didn’t get its picture.
I think the most trivial point here is that people expect to not get pulled over and cited but COPS are all the same… especially motorcycle cops! they will pull anyone over that they feel they can nail for a ticket… and usually the more negative and unprofessional they are, just means they know what their doing is BS.
Of course this cyclist did not deserve a ticket or even the wasted time of being pulled over… but that’s what COPs do! they ticket the public for completely ridiculous reasons!
A co worker of mine got a ticket for sleeping in her car on her lunch break… in our company parking lot! you know what the ticket was for… he saw her come out of the building, get in the car and move to a shaded parking spot 30 feet away with out her seat belt on!!
This is a copy and paste from the Oregon Bicyclist Manual.
How Far to the Right You Should Ride
Riding on the right doesn’t mean hugging the curb or edge of the road.
This may not be the best place to ride. For example, if you hit the curb,
you could lose your balance and fall into traffic. Other times when you
shouldn’t ride too far to the right include:
• When avoiding parked cars or surface hazards (see below);
• When a lane is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely
side by side (see page 6, “Sharrow”);
• When making a left turn (make left turns as shown on page 7);
• To avoid conflicts with right-turning cars.
• On a one-way street, you may ride on the left as long as you are riding
The above exceptions also apply to riding in a bike lane.
Road Surface Hazards
Keep an eye on the road
ahead. Avoid running over
potholes, gravel, broken
glass, drainage grates,
puddles you can’t see
through or other unsafe
road conditions. But first
look over your shoulder
to avoid swerving
suddenly into traffic. If
necessary, signal before
moving over. To make
riding safer for you and
other bicyclists, report
unsafe road conditions to
local authorities as soon
Arrrgh. This is what I don’t like about “manuals”–it seems that so many people will quote from a manual (especially in attempts to put cyclists in their place) without comparing to the actual law. It can also lead to cyclist confusion about the law that can end up getting them cited by a grumpy officer.
If the above is truly a quote, and it really says “The above exceptions also apply to riding in a bike lane”, then it is WRONG.
If there is a bike lane, you may only avoid conflicts with right-turning cars by leaving the bike lane if the bike lane is striped to the right of a RIGHT TURN ONLY lane. If you leave the bike lane and merge with auto traffic merely because cars MAY turn right but it is not the case that they MUST turn right, you are in violation.
If you are riding down a one-way street and there is a bike lane on the right, you MAY NOT ride down the left side of the street unless there is also a bike lane there. You can claim to be “preparing for a left turn”, but then it is up to any citing officer to agree with you regarding how much preparation you need.
p.s. –not to say you shouldn’t do these things, just know that you could be cited for them…
Sarcasm mode on:
Ofc. MacLennan states: “that there wasn’t a sufficient amount of debris in the lane to warrant him riding several feet to the left of the curb” What is a cyclist to do in Ashland – put a policeman in a bicycle trailer so that said officer can tell you how far you can ride over in the lane?
Seriously now, at 0:30 in the video, you can HARDLY tell that the bicycle was over the line. How can anyone state with authority that there wasn’t sufficient debris in the bike lane, based on video evidence.
I would go to court, fight the case, claiming 814.420 (3)(c), claiming that there WAS debris. Politely state that the officer has his opinion and you have yours. Politely ask the judge to dismiss the citation.
One could also politely state that you will look into appealing a decision as per ORS 138.057 (don’t know if you can actually do this, but it seems legit).
An appeal would probably cost upwards of $400, but it will get the judge’s attention. If your record is clean, the judge will mitigate, so as to not waste legal resources.
Listen carefully to the audio again and see what you think. I couldn’t decide for sure, but I think MacLennan basically is saying also, that he’d seen Smith riding previous to approaching and stopping him, noting that he’d gone after some other guy, then came back around to still see Smith riding the line, etc, resulting in vehicles in the main lane veering wide to create additional clearance between their vehicle and Smith.
I heard that too, but he never said he got his butt out of that car and verified that there was no debris in the road in those various places. Cyclist is allowed to be out of the lane if there is debris, and I don’t think there’s an “except if it inconveniences autos” clause.
This is the sort of ticket that ought to be 100% beatable unless the cop goes and walks the bike lane to make a video that verifies that it is spotless — because a chunk of steel wire (what got me flat before last) does not look much different from a gnarled twig from a tree. Feel free to use the image/entry I posted above. And maybe, put a black drywall screw on the asphalt, and drive by with a camera filming as well as you can, see if it shows up. I’ll bet it doesn’t.
“…but he never said he got his butt out of that car and verified that there was no debris in the road in those various places. …” dr2chase
True, I don’t think he said that. He did say he was going back to the intersection to video. Short conversation, didn’t offer details. What does whatever video gear and techniques he’s got, or doesn’t, for documenting what someone on a bike sees on the road surface while riding along, going to be able to document? I don’t know.
It can be very small stuff that flats a tire, and I do think the threat of it’s presence qualifies for riding outside of the bike lane. Among other debris related causes, I’ve had a flat from small diameter wire, like from a steel brush. Basically, if the bike lane looks clean, I’ll ride in it, but if surface character suggests there’s a chance its got junk that can’t really even be seen, but nonetheless still may be there, I’d rather stay a safe distance away from it.
That means, sometimes riding on or to the left of the white line, even when motor vehicles are passing by. It also means though, I think, holding somewhat of a steady line so people driving aren’t given a sense that the person riding may veer out in front of their car, causing them to think they need to swing farther afield than they’d otherwise need to, to avoid a collision. Keeping in mind that motor vehicles approach from the opposite direction as well, which people driving have to take into account.
Hopefully, if Smith and MacLennan both show up in court, bikeportland readers will get a thorough report of the presentation each makes to the judge, if that’s what Smith decides to do; and what the judge says, which may help to enable a better understanding of what 3c of the law covers.
“…; and what the judge says, which may help to enable a better understanding of what 3c of the law covers.” wsbob
To that, I should add: “…according to people responsible for having a faithful understanding of the what the law is intended to provide for, and for carrying it out. Many people that bike, are well familiar with hazards commonly present in bike lanes. An important question, is whether the person behind the bench, the person in the patrol car, and many people driving and riding in motor vehicles, understand the range of hazards often present in the bike lane.”.
And opinions differ even among cyclists. I hesitate to disrupt the big tent and would not wish to insult my skinny-tired comrades, but more than once I’ve noticed another guy riding on the same road I frequently use and thought to myself “that is some excessively effective cycling there” — by which I mean riding in the right-tire position on a road where the gutter is quite clean, and the lanes are wide enough to allow a comfortable pass, and there’s practically no traffic entering from the side, and the road is straight and the sight-lines clear (and the curbs are low and not sharp, and I have happily jumped them to continue home in the evening when some traffic-jammed bozo has slopped over the solid white line out of the travel lane, because it’s a residential neighborhood and sidewalk riding is legal there). But I’ve also made the choice to use good fat tires that allow me to ride over crap without (usually) suffering much in the way of consequences.
If you consider the full range of things-that-have-ever-flatted-bike-tires, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that if it looks like the bike lane has not had a recent street sweeping, then it’s not reliably free of junk, and need not be used.
We’ll have to see how this plays out in Ashland. I ride skinny 23’s, Performance’s cheap tire with belt of Kevlar, as if that offers much protection over a non-Kevlar tire. Knock on wood, haven’t flatted in a long while.
Yesterday, I rode from the Beav out Scholls Ferry Rd past the South Store up the hill aways. Fairly consistent shoulders for 2-3 miles out of burbia-land, but lots of construction going on, lots of small gravel and junk in the bike lane, which, because of plenty of traffic that’s typical of this road, I rode over quite a bit of the time.
About Smith’s choice of riding between the bike lane, white line, main lane, I can’t say. In the video, we’re only seeing a brief snippet of his riding, during which time, no vehicles are seen passing him from behind. With no traffic passing him, he may have felt at liberty to ride closer to the line, or outside of it than he otherwise would. I wonder if he was aware of the only vehicle behind him during that video segment: the police officer on his motorcycle.
Never thought much before, about the Ashland police officer being a motorcycle cop, but that he was is kind of obvious now that I have. For a higher resolution video of the bike lane surface, after citing, he could easily have a small hand held video camera stowed in the saddle bags of the bike.
Kevlar in the tire makes all the difference… was getting a flat a week riding to work in the fall with stock tires… switched to Kevlar tires and haven’t had a flat in years…
“…butt out of that car…”
I inferred from the periodic tilting of the video and the officer’s use of a motorcycle helmet that he hadn’t been in a car. Maybe he thought that gave him some kind of better perspective on the condition of the bike lane, but the differences between bicycle and motorcycle tires are still huge; what looks like “nothing” on a motorcycle could be a concern for a bicyclist.
I’d also like to see the follow-up video, if any.
the officer stated that they were going to go back and get video of the bike lane to prove that there was no debris…
Like so many others have said, this cop clearly needs to spend a little time on a bike. His action is clearly intended to send a message that bicyclists are simply not to be tolerated in Ashland.
My wife and I have attended numerous events in Ashland including the Shakespeare Festival. I intend to write to them and let them know that if Ashland isn’t bike friendly, we won’t be returning.
i wrote an email to mayor john stromberg:
i mentioned that a city which is “developing a land use plan built around multi-modal transportation” should not have a police force that harasses cyclists.
snip from The car manual,, get out of my way im in a hurry, move over
you don’t pay taxes.. sorry lol that kinda morning.. * did I leave out hey get a job and stop riding your bike.. *
responding to the call for suggestions to mr. smith.
you might want to read the following
bottom line, if you can affirmatively show the city did not have a public process around designating the bike lane as “safe,” it is not a mandatory sidepath. unfortunately, there would be a fair amount of public records research to do before the january hearing date.
Ashland, as it used to be, finally passed away around 2004 and is now but a caricature of what it was. Lake O south.