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Judge dismisses Medford man’s protest over citation for leaving bike lane

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Still from police video of traffic stop.

A Medford man issued a citation last year for pedaling outside of a bike lane to avoid debris says a judge has sided with the officer who pulled him over, saying he should have steered his bike around the rocks and sticks without leaving the bike lane.

We reported on this incident in October, including a video of Dallas Smith’s encounter with Ashland police officer Steve MacLennan.

“I get flats when I ride over there,” Smith tells Ofc. MacLennan in the video, which was captured by the officer’s dashboard camera. “I got two flats riding (unclear) last week.”

“That doesn’t cut it,” Ofc. MacLennan replied. “These? No. You have broken glass, you have rocks, then okay. But you cannot be riding down the center line here, down the white line, into the traffic lane. This is not sufficient enough. This is not debris that’s going to be causing a problem.”

“The truck in front of me kind of went around you,” Ofc. MacLennan went on. “Both of the cars that were in front of me went out and around you.”

Last week Smith, who was biking on Ashland’s Main Street to his job with the University of Southern Oregon’s IT department when he was pulled over, wrote with the latest:

The judge found me guilty of riding out of the bike lane. I showed the judge the debris I was avoiding and she said the bike lane is wide enough that I should be able to swerve around most objects in the bike lane and not have to leave it. I disagree with the ruling as the lane had rocks and sticks all over it from gravel driveways that go into the bike lane. The officer actually brought up the part about the public hearings stating that they had public hearings in 2011 to determine if they should create these new bike lanes. I asked the judge how a public hearing in 2011 could determine that a bike lane created in 2013 was safe. She said the the public hearings in 2011 were sufficient to satisfy that a public hearing had been held.

As Jonathan wrote last October, it’s entirely true that in Oregon, as in some other states, the law requires people on bikes to use a bike lane if it’s available. There’s an exception for safety, but as Smith has found, that’s open to interpretation.

Smith, who represented himself, received a fine of $110 for failure to use a bike lane.

(For more on 814.420, browse our archives.)

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