with disregard for the law and consequences?
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Despite the serious risks to their pocketbooks, their community, and themselves, a large number of Portlanders continue to display rampant illegal and dangerous behaviors when behind the wheel of an automobile.
Last month we shared that Portland Police Bureau officers, working in partnership with the Bureau of Transportation, issued 60 violations in under four hours during an enforcement action at SE 24th and Powell back in May.
In June, the same program focused on NE Glisan Street at 87th Avenue. And they netted nearly the same result: 52 violations and 6 warnings. Here’s the breakdown of illegal behaviors people were punished for:
- – 25 Failure to stop and remain stopped for pedestrian
– 1 Driving while suspended
– 1 Driving while revoked
– 4 Violation of Speed
– 1 Misuse of special left turn lane
– 12 Illegal use of a cell phone
– 2 No operator’s license
– 4 No proof of insurance
– 2 Passing stopped vehicle at marked crosswalk
– 6 warnings for failing to stop for a person in a crosswalk
With Portland’s new focus on Vision Zero, these enforcement efforts should be scrutinized by the public and by policymakers.
And on that note, we all need to ask ourselves: What will it take for people to stop breaking so many laws and stop putting lives at risk with their poor choices and dangerous behaviors? What are the best infrastructural and cultural remedies to address this epidemic?
— PBOT has been coordinating these enforcement actions since 2005. For a tally of the violations from each one, download this PDF. Read more coverage about this program in our archives.
If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at email@example.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.
Thanks for keeping up with the motorist education and enforcement.
Every time I see an article about one of these events, I wish the local PD would set up a video camera hose counters to document how many vehicles were in this sample size. Without it I always struggle to put the number of tickets / warnings into perspective…
Hose counters, to count all cars in the enforcement period? That would be the wrong denominator. If you line up say five cops past the crosswalk then have someone try to cross the street and the first five cars don’t yield then all the cars that go through in the next fifteen minutes probably aren’t risking a ticket, the cops are all busy. Better would be what share of attempts to cross the street are unimpeded, and no motorist gets a ticket or warning?
Yes your point is well taken…unsafe traffic hindering pedestrian trips is a great data point for the larger discussion.
I have been to many similar enforcements and observed intersections for studies…and most problem drivers with poor behaviours are still pretty clueless when an enforcement action (aka ‘sting”) is underway…yes a few might get through but that is usually due to there not being enough police support vehicles to stop / process them or areas to park the cars during the processing…without creating a dangerous traffic condition in of itself.
More enforcement and harsher punishments. Instead of fines, make the punishment X month license suspension bases on how dangerous the action is. Driving is a privilege (not a right) and breaking the law and endangering others is grounds for loss of that privilege.
Great. But then how do you get “More enforcement and harsher punishments”?
To do that you need money (for police) and you need new laws in Salem… neither of which are an easy political lift. So.. the ultimate question (as usual) comes back to… How do we create a political environment where more funding for enforcement and new traffic laws become a reality?
A built environment in which most people aren’t all that inconvenienced going about their day to day lives without a car. Bike infrastructure is great. But only complements a robust transit network, it doesn’t replace it.
If taking away a license is a real punishment, then it won’t have enough support for something like speeding, which almost all drivers do every trip.
Taking away a license is NOT a real penalty. Look at the above citations: 1 for a revoked license; 1 for a suspended license; two for no license.
No penalty; no consequences.
If we were truly Vision Zero the police would shift their attention away from bikes in Ladd’s (for example) and focus all resources on the most dangerous/lethal actions.
I didn’t know 87th and Glisan was in Ladds…humm go figure.
We have the money – the city has $6 million to spend on a freaking iPhone app. It’s more about political will.
And this attitude especially is I think one of the greatest problems with bicycle and pedestrian activism right now.
By focusing on infrastructure almost exclusively you are only promoting actions which are painfully slow (30+ years for 50% of V0 – which at the 50% marks means one less bicycle death a year, 4 less pedestrians, and 9 less automobile occupants), and always limited by a very small list of funding sources. And its benefits, is primarily is only to the benefit to a small population of a small geographical region.
On top of that, segregation doesn’t really benefit anyone, and in reality it just condones the existing unlaying problem. It’s giving up and making due. We can’t do anything to make drivers behavior better so we’ll just let them continue as is, might even make them behave worse since the potential consequences of their actions have now been “removed”.
Education and Enforcement has more possible partners, more possible funding options, and by and large benefit the entire jurisdiction which is represented. Things like an across the map 20% reduction of speed limits on all streets (not highways which will likely see more traffic with a reduction of this type on the streets) will make the roads safer and will make riders more comfortable riding on those streets – EVERYWHERE.
Requiring drivers to retest for license renewal wouldn’t cost anything but start up fees, the rest of the cost could easily be passed on to the renewal costs to the customer. But again, now everyone knows the rules, you don’t have drivers that are only familiar with rules of the road from 40 years ago, or 20, or 10 – most everyone on the road now knows what the sharrows markings and green pain mean. They know that a bicycle in the lane can pass you and has the right of way to do so even if you are turning right.
And don’t think that enforcement isn’t also education – someone gets a ticket, it’s on facebook, twitter, and the talk around the watercooler for at least that entire day – it’s advertising but the ticketed driver is paying for the advertisement.
It would be interesting to also know if the number of tickets was limited by the number of infractions they observed, of if it was limited by the number of officers available. That is, did they pull over all of the offenders, or did some people get away with breaking the law because all of the officers were busy?
I think that is easy. Notice how the number of citations is always basically the same for the same period & my guess would be that the number of officers is also the same, so the limiting factor isn’t scofflaw automobilists but enforcement personnel. Makes you wonder how many they’d nab if they used, oh, say, fixed cameras…. 🙂
All the enforcement actions I’ve attended had the motorcycle officers out chasing down drivers most of the time. So, the lack of available officers seemed to be the limiting factor on the number of citations.
They need to get one officer writing 5 tickets to 5 stopped drivers and keep a few just doing stops at any given time. Then do it daily until the numbers go down.
To answer Jonathan’s questions:
Much better driver education and training; more consequences for motorists for illegal behavior.
Banning of car ads that feature illegal activities such as speeding.
Get more police officers out of their vehicles and on foot and on bicycles.
Shame, shame, shame. 🔔🔔
Ding ding ding
I think it’s possible a camera system could be setup for this. The one time I crossed in a crosswalk today it took around 6-8 cars before I could cross.
It also occurred to me a good way to cross would be to have community shopping carts loaded with bricks near the crosswalks. That way if cars don’t want to stop, you just start pushing the loaded cart across…
It would be an interesting experiment anyway to see the difference between crossing normally, and crossing pushing a large cart.
I do your suggested experiment on a semi-regular basis.
Every time I’m walking to the grocery store and spot an abandoned grocery car, I push it to the store. And guess what? EVERY time I push it into the crosswalk, motorists stop for me!!!
When I’m simply walking, the compliance rate is maybe 50 to 70 percent at the marked cross crosswalks and 10 to 20 percent at unmarked crosswalks.
I’ve concluded motorist figure a pedestrian will simply jump out of the way, but a cart could damage their car because carts have yet to learn to jump.
Motorists care more about their cars than they do about people around them.
Instead of shoving a brick-filled shopping cart into traffic, how about pulling out your phone and filming? Show yourself with one foot in the crosswalk and then film the a-holes whizzing by. Then email the footage to the city.
This and I can’t believe I got sucked into two “all cyclists suck [because of the one guy I saw do something today]” conversations on Facebook today. Ugh.
Any number of cars not stopping properly for pedestrians is too many. That being said, I see more cars stop for pedestrians than I see bikes stop for pedestrians. Yes, I know, cars weigh more, but the law is the same for both. I see too many cyclists swerve dangerously close to pedestrians just because they don’t want to slow down or stop.
“I see more cars stop for pedestrians than I see bikes stop for pedestrians.”
That has not, generally, been my experience, but taking you on your word, let’s explore this a little. As someone who bikes pretty much wherever I go I often wonder about how I on my bike should ideally behave vis-a-vis someone crossing the street I’m biking on, because to me it is not nearly as cut and dried as your statement seems to suggest. The dance that I on my bike and a pedestrian who is (a) about to cross the road I’m on, (b) in the crosswalk in the other lane with no other traffic alongside me, or (c) is close enough to me that if I didn’t stop I’d be too close for comfort are all quite intricate and different. Because we are both out in the same fresh air, we can and do both communicate in all sorts of subtle ways about our intentions and abilities to occupy adjacent portions of the street at the same time that don’t arise when one party is inside a car.
Let’s take (a) If I stop, the chances are pretty high that the pedestrian, who is still on or has just stepped off the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street will motion for me to keep going. Although the principle of yielding is clear, my stopping will really be 100% symbolic since the portion of the street width I on my bike and she on her two feet are taking up are very small and far apart.
Let’s now take (b). This is somewhat similar to (a) in that were I not to stop we would be too far apart to collide. The proper, required action is to stop, and if any other traffic is around I would definitely do this, but the temptation does arise at least for me to keep going for two reasons: (1) if I stop the pedestrian is as likely as not to do what people in cars often do at 4-way stops when they got there first and have the right of way: motion me to continue. This is awkward and interrupts everyone’s stride. Or (2) as suggested we can both continue without endangering each other by virtue of our size and relatively slow speeds.
Now (c). I obviously should stop and would stop. There is no question in my mind. I would do this even if car traffic alongside me is making no effort to stop.
There are many other possible variations on this. My point was simply to highlight a few that to me complicate this interaction, make the required maneuver *not* always the one that corresponds to the smoothest set of movements.
When I’m on my bike I can pass pedestrians on a shared path or crossing paths and get way closer without feeling uncomfortable than I can on the other side of the interaction. Same deal passing either when I’m in my car. If you stick mostly with one mode it’s damn easy to forget what it’s like on the other side of an interaction. It takes a decent amount of vigilance to stay cognizant of that. Sometimes a cyclist thinks it’s closer to case (a) or (b) but the pedestrian would say it was case (c), and the cyclist didn’t stop.
Yes, but. We’re not talking about comfort alone (nice to have) we are talking about lives. The number of cyclists who have killed pedestrians is pretty low…so how should we deploy our limited resources?
Sometimes I ride across crosswalks when a pedestrian is in one. That said, there have been numerous occasions riding downtown north of Burnside on Broadway, where peds crossed the street but stopped about 3 foot short of the curb and turned around and began to cross back.
One time I saw a group of 4-5 doing this and they occupied the intersection that did not have a light for nearly 5 minutes going back and forth. Would this be regarded as a sting?
With all due respect, that sounds like the same kind of logic that motorists use to justify speeding. “I know what the law says, but it doesn’t apply in this case because a) I have great visibility, b) there’s no cross-traffic, c) etc…”
When I hear that from a motorist, it comes across as “my convenience and saving a few seconds are more important to me than being safe and properly (and courteously) yielding right of way to other road users as the law requires.” Not wanting to start a pissing match, but is the above justification really that different?
“is the above justification really that different?”
I appreciate the question. I believe it is but am sensitive to the perception that it is not. I tried to anticipate this in my earlier post, but the chief differences as I see them are:
– because people riding and walking are much more similar than different when it comes to speeds, physical presence, & ability to register the other symmetrically, there are many situations when we can both occupy portions of the same sidewalk simultaneously and safely while traveling perpendicular to each other.
– because people walking can and do change their rate of forward progress easily and rapidly sometimes the cyclist not stopping can make more sense from a flow perspective for both parties.
But mostly I’d love to see this examined systematically. I’ve thought many times about setting myself up with counters and a notepad (anyone want to share a camera?) at a well chosen intersection and see what actually happens.
Depends. A calm rider at 5-8 mph and it isn’t a congested area, sure it can be comfortable navigating around each other. A group of commuters riding in a tight pack at 15+ mph going through a crosswalk? No. This is part of the problem in these discussions. When walkers criticize cyclists they usually have in mind the over aggressive commuter/recreational type who is speeding by in a big rush and trying to get an exercise high and acts like they should never have to slow down. That mentality is a disaster and huge danger when that person is in a car. When they’re on a bike it’s not nearly as bad, but it’s still bad. If you ride like an old lady or five year old kid then it’s often perfectly comfortable to work around each other and you don’t need the lane and a half or whatever clearance the law says vehicles have to give.
The rough guideline I try to stick to when riding is to ask myself if I’m stressed about what the pedestrians are doing. If I’m worried they’ll do something that might cause a crash or make my break hard, like turn, speed up, slow down, dart out to take a picture etc…then I’m too close, too fast, or both. Then the symmetry that sometimes exists between cyclists and pedestrians doesn’t apply.
Keep in mind that most people you ride by in a crosswalk are also drivers, and they remember your actions. My coworkers constantly bring this up as a complaint when we are at lunch: ‘why don’t cyclists ever stop for me in the crosswalk?’ We work near the crosswalk just east of 7th on Multnomah, and it’s a frequent occurrence.
I can absolutely see this, and there are I’m sure plenty of examples of perpendicular sidewalk travel by people walking and biking that is rude and uncalled for and even unsafe. I guess I’d like to think (not just for my own convenience-while-on-a-bike) there are equally many or perhaps even more circumstances where the Idaho logic might apply.
If you want the same benefits from being a vehicle you follow the same laws of a vehicle. That is what pisses people off….what right do you have to choose which laws to follow. Stop at stop signs and stop for crosswalks. So what if bikes don’t kill people….it’s still the law and how rude and entitled cyclist sound when they give reasons why they are above the laws. The same reasonings a motorist gives that gets us riled up. And yes….far more cyclists in SE blow through stop signs and crosswalks then cars that I’ve see as a motorist, cyclist, and runner. Remember, you can’t get mad at someone for doing the exact same thing you do.
“If you want the same benefits from being a vehicle you follow the same laws of a vehicle.”
What are these benefits of which you speak?
You need a license to drive a car = permission, because driving a car is dangerous to life and limb; you don’t need a license to bike = permission, because it is much more like walking = a right.
“…the exact same thing…”
If someone points a baseball bat at me from across the street, it’s not quite the “exact same thing” as pointing a loaded shotgun at me.
There is a difference in personal threat level between minor violations by drivers in cars vs. riders on bikes. Sure illegal is illegal, but we have to think about why certain things are illegal—mostly it’s because some particular action would be very dangerous if done in a car. Take away the car, and many things aren’t nearly as dangerous, so why are they still illegal? Just Because(tm)?
>If someone points a baseball bat at me from across the street, it’s not quite the “exact same thing” as pointing a loaded shotgun at me.
No it isn’t. But an aggressive person out in public with a baseball bat is a real menace that shouldn’t be ignored. Even if everyone gets out of their way and nobody dies it still destroys the public realm.
Bad cyclists aren’t as much of a problem as bad drivers, but that’s a terrible, but commonly pushed, reason to ignore them everywhere.
“Bad cyclists aren’t as much of a problem as bad drivers, but that’s a terrible, but commonly pushed, reason to ignore them everywhere.”
I think we have several different things going on here.
(1) Why do people bring up bikers-running-stop-signs so much?
Is it because it is a danger to the public?
It is because it is annoying?
Is it because bikes-as-other makes them a ready scapegoat?
Is it because the speaker really, truly wants parity in behavior?
(2) Why does this trope rankle some of us so?
Is it because in the grand scheme of things bikers-running-stop-signs seems an odd thing to focus attention on when people are being run over and getting maimed every day, with little repercussions for those causing the injury and worse?
Is it because it fails to account for the considerable difference between the rather common and harmless treating-stop-as-yield, and the far less common blowing-stop-sign behavior?
Is it because the Idaho Stop Law seems to lend credence to the stop-as-yield-for-bikes logic?
Is it because the whole everyone should obey the law rhetoric is a cruel joke since a sizable share of people regardless of mode don’t?
Cyclists are inherently less dangerous to pedestrians than drivers. And yet…
” When serious injuries are measured as a proportion of distance travelled, cyclists injured 21 pedestrians per billion km travelled in 2012 compared with 24 pedestrians injured by drivers. ”
Fatal pedestrian crash risk is still five times higher (0.27,1.4/billion km) for drivers than cyclists, but the danger cyclists pose is far from negligible.
Bad cycling massively increases the risk of what should be a safe mode. You don’t need parity in behavior, because cars and bikes are not the same. But in the complete absence of enforcement bad cyclists become a danger. The most visible violations will be criticized the most, some of the crosswalks along bike boulevards require more attention to cross safely than they should. Hawthorne, east side esplanade and the waterfront can be pretty awful if you aren’t on a bike. If you aren’t familiar with the other side of those encounters, I’d encourage you to lock up your bike and walk around for a while. If a cyclist per kilometer of travel is as likely to send me to the hospital as a driver of a car should the cyclist’s behavior be ignored because the fatal crash risk is lower? There are streets in east Portland where cars are more hazardous to pedestrians than streets downtown or in the alphabet district, should those latter two areas not see any enforcement until East Portland is fixed?
“If a cyclist per kilometer of travel is as likely to send me to the hospital as a driver of a car should the cyclist’s behavior be ignored because the fatal crash risk is lower? ”
Those are some pretty interesting and sobering statistics, lop. In the UK I’d have to agree with you, no.
I will also admit that I’m having a hard time imagining these statistics to be a reflection of what goes on here in the US (greater danger posed by cars, almost no cyclists), but who knows?
I also saw this in the article you linked to:
“However it is important not to overstate the level of conflict between pedestrians and cyclists. Just 2 per cent of pedestrian injuries on pavements involve cyclists, the other 98 per cent involve motor vehicles. “
It’s relative to miles traveled, why would fewer cyclists make a difference?
There are issues with the numbers, I don’t know how accurate the number of miles traveled is, especially for bikes, and the travel takes place in different environments – a car that travels on the highway doesn’t endanger me on foot until it gets off.
My point was that bikes could reasonably be taken to pose a non negligible danger to pedestrians.
But even when there’s no collision there is still a place for enforcement. Near the Fred Meyer on west burnside there is a marked and signed crosswalk at nw Everett and 20. It shouldn’t be that bad to cross, but sometimes I see old ladies get to that corner and they look like they’re about to cry. They know how hard and scary it is to get across the street, even though you wouldn’t find a long history of pedestrians getting run over. Drivers are supposed to stop to let people cross and they don’t. Nobody is dying there, nobody needs to get picked up by an ambulance. But a lot of people would really appreciate it if the city would get the commuters to drive better, maybe clear out some parking spots to improve viewing angles? Put in a ped activated traffic light, say a minimum green time of twenty or thirty seconds, maybe that will be better respected? I don’t know what’s needed there, how effective a crosswalk sting would be at improving the crossing, but I don’t like the idea of doing nothing.
Can you imagine someone on foot saying the same about places people bike a lot? If not, maybe lock up your bike and spend a few hours walking around on the esplanade, waterfront, and the bridges (especially Hawthorne). Ideally during peak commute hours. See what it’s like from the other side and you might get why some pedestrians are frustrated. Watch the people walking around, see if they start to get annoyed at the passing cyclists. They might not always know what would get cyclists to stop driving them nuts, what’s actually dangerous vs what’s just annoying, but a first step towards reducing conflicts might be recognizing their complaints as legitimate instead of trying to cast them off as just scapegoating cyclists, or just unable to realize that they should be more frustrated with motorists and that bikes aren’t really a problem.
Overall, cars are a much bigger problem. But that doesn’t mean cyclists aren’t a problem in some places.
Comparing incidents per mile traveled is a completely bogus way to compare driving with bicycling. For one thing, the average car trip is miles longer than the average bicycle trip. For another, drivers spend a lot of their time on freeways where the risk of hitting a pedestrian is near zero, while bicyclists must share every bit of infrastructure with almost all other modes at all times. Thirdly, pedestrians themselves are more likely to look for cars before crossing the street than bikes, meaning that it is more likely that a pedestrian might leave a place of safety and enter a crosswalk when a bicyclist is “so close as to constitute an immediate hazard”. And finally, do these “miles traveled” include MUPs, where pedestrian behavior is astronomically more unpredictable and adverse interactions can be much more frequent, and more frequently not necessarily due solely to “bad cycling”?
Yes, bicyclists need to be careful not to injure people, but any comparison of bikes with cars based on “per mile traveled” is invalid.
“Bad cyclists aren’t as much of a problem as bad drivers”
Therefore, not “the exact same thing”. Yes, everyone needs to behave in a way that considers others and doesn’t endanger or threaten them. Does that mean the exact same rules for driving cars as for riding bikes? Probably not.
Follow me as I go about my business. Please. I stop for pedestrians all the time. On 4th heading into downtown by PSU, it’s not unusual to have me stopped on my bike in the center lane as two or three cars zip by in the lanes on either side of me. Ive been known to merge into the traffic lane from the bike lane and signal “slowing/stop” and the stopping the cars behind me for pedetrians trying to cross on streets like 7th, Belmont, etc. And on the quiet neighborhood greenways, I’ve had motor vehicle drivers pass me by entering the ONCOMING lane of travel as I stopped for pedestrians. I’ve also had pedestrians try to wave me on my way, prefering to cross after I pass (fwiw, I usually smile and tell them that the law requires me to stop, and I’m happy to do so)
Everytime I stop for a pedestrian, I’m thinking about how I might get hit from behind by a car driver who is too busy doing anything other than watching to road (reeaching for his/her soda, changing the radio station, looking at their passenger to talk, looking at their gps) and notice that I am stopping for a pedestrian.
Cellphones and “ownership” of the road. All cars should be designed to act as Faraday cages, and all cars should be designed without 4 feet of engine in the front.
Four drivers without valid licenses…that means they towed all four cars, and the drivers had to take transit the rest of the way home?
No, really. WTF?
Let’s not forget our misanthropic/xenophobic law that prevents undocumented folks from renewing their licenses. Those are real people, not so different from you and me, after all.
I understand the emotion of your point for some states other than WA (this situation in OR increases the # of drivers without insurance on our roads)…but have you lived overseas and tried to get a library card or a vehicle license?…its pretty tough without out a residency permit/ visa. I doubt the Federal Government of Mexico hands out licenses to illegally residing US citizens in Mexico. Gringos there do need a visa and a passport, water bill etc. to get a motor vehicle license (other than the option of using only a license fro their previous home state). http://www.yucatanexpatriateservices.com/print.php?article=843
I’m not following your point. I have lived overseas and they, generally have what you call residency permits, a whole bureaucracy that tracks your place of residence, etc. We don’t have that, and in many cases these are people who have lived here, paid taxes, raised families for years, decades, whole lifetimes. The law that prevents them from renewing their licenses seems (now) to me to be entirely punitive and vengeful without accounting for the realities of what it means to live here without the kinds of protections most of us take for granted.
Maybe it’s time to implement some HAWK crossings. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HAWK_beacon
New name: Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons
New name: bicycle rider begging for car drivers to stop and not run them over signal
This is a little bit of a devil’s advocate statement here, but it needs to be said:
“What will it take for those darn bikers to stop running so many stop signs and stop putting lives at risk with their poor choices and dangerous behaviors?”
Cyclists definitely do this, and it’s no less illegal, but it is MUCH less dangerous and therefore more foregivable.
forgiveable by whom? such a statement makes no sense.
I forgive every cyclist who Idaho stops. Actually, that’s not quite accurate I sincerely believe every cyclist who Idaho stops deserves a gold star.
Forgivable by reasonable people. Rigid adherence to the rule of law makes no sense in a highly regulated state. At some point you need to make a value judgment for which laws are more important to follow, and which are less important. When considering laws concerning the safety and orderly use of the public roads, the potential safety consequences of violation need to be taken into account.
The stop sign is a result of the legal system in the US. Older law, common law, would give rights of way to the first users ahead of later ones.
Our system places liability and responsibility on the ones that disobeyed the sign.
The US legal system has difficulty with gray areas, like yield signs. Stop signs should be reserved for locations where lower classification streets enter higher classification ones, where two higher classified streets intersect, or anywhere lower levels of control have not prevented sufficient crashes. Yield signs, with or without supplemental warnings, should be used much more extensively than the current rules permit them to be used. This would also help road users remember the meaning – slow down and prepare to stop, stop if a conflict exists. The rules, as written in the MUTCD, IMO, are excessively restrictive for sight distance requirements to use yield signs.
It does need to be said, in which case the actual (not theoretical) consequences need to be compared as well. I’d love to see that information presented in the article here to help establish context; I already know that both drivers and bicyclists break traffic laws.
And in my anecdotal observation just as many cars don’t actually stop at stop signs.. but if you get hit by one of those, it’s much more dangerous for your physical health. Where should the burden lie, on the operator of the more or less dangerous machine?
“Respectability politics” are not worth spending time on. Control those who can do the most harm first.
The true question is when will people driving cars stop running stop signs and making unsafe, dangerous choices?!
I witness at least 90% of all people driving cars never stop at stop signs, I can go to any stop sign right now and set up a camera and guarantee you I’ll gather footage of not one single car actually stop or make a safe and prudent right turn from a stop sign.
I witness every day on my bike ride to and from work as drivers come out of streets, driveways and especially the apartments near my house, as drivers approach the stop sign they don’t even come close to stopping AT the stop sign. And as they are still rolling and looking left the whole time (so they can turn right) they never even consider looking right for pedestrians already stepping off the curb to enter the cross walk.
I have 3 crossings where I am on a cycle track and every single day I see a driver pull that maneuver as I approach the crossing.
Talk about bad choices and dangerous driving, when will they stop putting so many other road users lives at risk?
Don’t get me started on how Zero drivers stop at red lights before making a right turn, or look right then left before proceeding into traffic.
Cyclist running stop signs is about as important on the road user safety scale as a driver putting on their seat belt before starting the vehicle… in other words there are way more important issues to worry about than a cyclist “running” a stop sign.
Instead of calling it Vision Zero we should call it Zero tolerance (for unsafe driving and death by driver!)
My dog, Lucy, and I just got out of our training class, and they teach rewarding good behavior. It’s pretty clear that what is currently being done on our streets is not working. I wonder if there’s some way that we can reward drivers for good behavior. I don’t know, just trying to think about doing things positively rather than slapping people on a wrist or handing out fines. Certainly, my dog responds better to rewards than punishment. Doesn’t that hold true for humans too?
I’ve heard of drivers being pulled over and give a small gift certificate by an officer – but it seems to me that the stress on the driver would be rather high. Maybe license record and mail a reward?
Efficient stop light timing is a nice reward (especially for people on bikes.) Maybe smiley faces on speed readerboards.
The reward for good driving should be that you get to keep driving. But since it is nearly impossible to prevent anyone from driving, that doesn’t work very well.
Start seizing cars for egregious violations or violations while suspended/revoked (suspended/revoked means “had a license and lost it for bad driving”, not “never had a license” or “my license expired”) and then keeping your car will be the reward.
Driving while suspended/revoked can mean someone didn’t pay their child support or taxes or bounced a check at the DMV, not always a statement on their driving record.
Yes, that is a disconnected legal penalty that makes about as much sense as debtor prison. I would definitely stipulate “for bad driving”, not some technical foul.
Speaking about 24th and Powell…
Burnside and 82nd has the same set up with a pretty busy road and no left arrow from Burnside. Take a look at street view, lots of people, then try to imagine making a left from WB Burnside.
Imagine prohibiting left turns from Burnside onto 82nd, with restoration of the bike lanes up to the intersection – because you no longer need that left turn pocket.
Let’s make it happen. This intersection is a major hazard, particularly when you factor in the hill, and the high speeds of traffic going westbound.
This is one of the intersections that ODOT is planning to rebuild. It probably won’t happen until they’re done studying it in 2026 though.
I ride through this intersection frequently, and the heavy traffic volume is a little disconcerting. Going west, it’s a steep decline and it’s tempting to just accelerate all the way through the intersection, and this is a very risky place to get left-crossed.
I still don’t understand why they allow anyone who has committed a traffic infraction and then is found to not have insurance to drive away from the scene. The car should be impounded until proof of insurance is provided.
I better understand the exception a decade ago, but more insurance companies have that information available via a cellphone app. So it’s not like you accidently threw the proof of insurance out when you were cleaning your car last week.
I guess I’ll just place this here since this article is about rampant illegal behavior and enforcement actions:
DATE: Wednesday, April 11, 2007
LOCATION: Ladd Circle, Southeast Portland
OFFICERS: Seven (7) Motorcycle Officers
BICYCLE MOVING VIOLATIONS: 47
BICYCLE EQUIPMENT VIOLATIONS: 3
MOTOR VEHICLE VIOLATIONS: 9
TOTAL: 59 CITES
That’s nearly the same number of moving violations in half of the time! Wow, talk about rampant!
And then in 2008 they only handed out warnings from from 0730-0830:
Pedestrians – 0 stops
Motor vehicles – 7 stops / 7 warnings & 1 DWS citation
Bicycle Operators – 60 stops / 60 warnings no citation“
That’s 60 warnings in only an hour!
Oh and look: in 2012…
A team of four motorcycle officers and a sergeant started the mission at 8:30 a.m. and finished up at 10:30 a.m.
During the mission, officers encountered mostly cyclists who were in violation of the law. Every cyclist who was stopped and cited was offered the “Share the Road Safety Class” in exchange for a dismissal to the citation.
A total of 53 citations were issued, along with three written warnings.
50 cyclists and four motor vehicles were stopped.
Goodness: 50 cyclists in 2 hours!
Now you might argue that context matters. I’d argue that if you’re going to start talking about context you should think about the fact that there are somewhere between 600-700 vehicles an hour running on Glisan in this neck of the woods, which means that you’ve got about a 2% noncompliance rate. Which, again, hardly counts as “rampant.” And then you might wonder why BikePortland would run such sensationalist, context-free “news.” Your guess is as good as mine.
All I have to say to you, grumpcyclist, is that when it comes to cars and their operators, ODOT takes the 85th percentile approach for setting speeds. So in other words if 85% of automobilists think they should go 45 on this stretch of road even if it is curvy with no bike lane, then that is how it is going to be, because ODOT knows that drivers are smart, know what they can handle.
Idaho takes a similar approach to bikes and stop signs. Not only does the Idaho approach work, but unlike the ODOT/85th percentile rule there are no casualties associated with this approach.
Then we have the Ladd’s case which is not about safety but about squeaky neighbor complaint campaigns which fall of attentive ears with PPB.
Not to mention the fact that the Ladd’s stings are set up entirely differently than the crosswalk enforcement actions as I’ve mentioned here repeatedly.
Crosswalk: lots of signage posted in advance, pedestrian decoys present, lots of warnings issues
Ladd’s Circle: no signs posted, no decoys, lots of tickets issued.
Thanks for making this comparison. You are right. Illegal and dangerous behaviors happen on our streets by users of both automobiles and bicycles (that’s a stance, by the way, that I have always acknowledged).
However, there are a few important things to consider when thinking about how I’ve covered these two stories.
Here they are in no particular order:
— Most of the reason I have a different emotional stance around these two issues is because of the relative danger and impact the behaviors have on our community. When we disregard laws and safety while using cars, we have an immense negative impact on quality of life of our neighborhoods. Dangerous driving can — and too often does — kill and maim our family members, friends, and neighbors. Dangerous driving also prevents people from enjoying our public spaces like they should. It prevents people from choosing to walk and bike and it makes people prisoners in their own homes. Dangerous driving also sucks up an extraordinary amount of police and other public resources because it often leads to collisions. These collisions have a huge public cost on many levels and they also contribute to daily traffic jams that increase air pollution and reduce overall economic productivity.
By contrast, dangerous and illegal bicycling almost never results in those of type of negative impacts.
— It’s also important to keep in mind that my story above is about an organized crosswalk enforcement action that is part of an established PBOT/PPB program. These actions are publicized ahead of time and they come with signage prior to the intersections where they are held.
By contrast, the bicycle-related enforcement stories you link to are much more akin to true “stings,” where road users are caught completely by surprise.
— Another key distinction is one of road engineering design. Both of the stories you link to are from enforcement actions/stings at Ladd Circle. That circle is very poorly designed. PBOT engineers themselves have said the stop signs should not even be there in the first place. Why? Because it’s possible to roll through safely without needing to come to a complete stop. By contrast, a crosswalk with a person walking in it present a clear legal situation where there can be absolutely no dispute about design or engineering.
— When we think about the difference between enforcement of driving and cycling, we must take into account that police officers usually do not have the perspective of cycling, because they themselves do not ride a bike on a regular basis in a city (that lack of perspective can also breed bias in how they perceive road operations in general). They also, unfortunately, very often do not understand how to apply traffic laws to bicycle operators. I know this from personal experience and years of anecdotes and testimony from road users. For example: There are still police officers who think bicycle operators must put a foot down at a stop sign.
— Also at issue is that yes, I have a bias that is evident in the difference of how both of these stories are presented. I feel very strongly that our overuse of cars and dangerous driving behaviors are a serious public health crisis. I am also aware that there are many false and unfair narratives in the public realm about bicycling because it is not widely respected in our culture like auto use is. Part of the reason for my tone in the story above is that I’m trying to make a point. I’m trying to counter the “scofflaw cyclist” narrative with an equal (and in my opinion much more accurate and realistic) narrative about “scofflaw motorists.”
I hope this comment helps explain the difference in how I’ve chosen to treat these two stories. Happy to share more if necessary. Thanks for your participation in the comments.
i think the “scofflaw” narrative is flawed for all road users because it gives trivial violations equal weight.
what really matters is the the safety narrative. the narrative that questions common behavior by road users that endangers others. and 99% of the time this is a narrative about motorists.
It might be flawed or trivial, but it is VERY real for a large percentage of the non-bike riding population.
Case in point: I’m working with a high school student this summer. From him: “Oh I hate cyclists. They think they’re above the law. They never stop at stop signs.”.
Whether people are right or wrong many (most?) share this opinion.
Do you think that perfect behavior by cyclists would be likely to change their perspective? I would posit that the idea that cyclists are ‘the Other’ and thus don’t deserve the resources, the care, the empathy, whatever it is we’re talking about comes first and *then* the label as being “scofflaw” comes afterwards. Perfect isn’t possible and even one imperfect cyclist causes the narrative to continue – because reality isn’t what’s important to the person telling it, the narrative is.
It sounds more like an idea propagated through pop media than his own critical observation and thinking. Did you challenge him on it?
“It might be flawed or trivial, but it is VERY real for a large percentage of the non-bike riding population.”
It sounds to me like the symmetry is very IMAGINED for a large percentage of the non-bike riding population.
As we’ve had ample opportunity to discover here, people hold all kinds of misconceptions (bikey folk don’t pay their way being just the most obvious).
I suspect he’s echoing a parent’s perspective. If he’s a high school student, he hasn’t been driving very long, and therefore doesn’t have a terribly large personal sample size on the roadways. Meaning, as a driver, it’s unlikely he’s been inconvenienced by a cyclist, nor is he likely terribly familiar with the laws that he believes cyclists are above.
How many people have died in Portland because a cyclist ran a stop sign? 0
How many have died because a driver failed to stop at a crosswalk? Several each year
The police should enforce traffic laws that improve safety. Stop sign stings at Ladd’s circle are a huge waste of police resources, as it does absolutely nothing to improve safety. Several of your fellow citizens might be alive right now if the police had instead spent those resources enforcing the speed limits and crosswalks in east Portland, where several people die each year.
Ah. OK. How many drivers, as a percentage, do you think passed through the enforcement area while a decoy was in the crosswalk? Now how many cyclists, as a percentage, do you think rode past the STOP sign in Ladd’s Addition during the time the enforcement actions you cite were taking place?
In one case, you have an unknown percentage of drivers (but definitely less than 100%, unless decoys had traffic completely blocked for four hours) subject to the targeted enforcement—officers could have only sent a decoy into the crosswalk 30 times in four hours, leaving a large number of drivers immune to any citation. In contrast, 100% of bicyclists are subject to the STOP signs at Ladd’s traffic circle. In the former case, it is a matter of the percentage of drivers who obeyed the law out of the percentage of drivers who even had to decide whether or not to obey the law. In the latter case, it is purely a matter of who decided to obey or not.
If every single driver in the crosswalk enforcement actions were subject to having to stop for a pedestrian, and citations were issued for all who didn’t, the numbers would be much, much higher.
Last evening as we attempted to cross Belmont after dinner a stream of cars buzzed us at very high speeds. Vulnerable traffic in this society is treated like human road kill. Enough is enough.
Its been very interesting for me to be the passenger in a car as my son learns to drive. He’s been riding his bike on these streets since he was in third grade, so he’s very cognizant of other cyclist, speeding, and stopping for pedestrians.
If you ever doubt how many car drivers actually follow the law, try driving on a street like Belmont going the actual speed limit, not passing cyclists until it is safe to do so, and stopping for pedestrians.
Crosswalks should be raised in a speed bump>hump, to force motor vehicle speeds below 10 mph, ensuring compliance, and therefore safety for pedestrians. Its asinine to keep the infrastructure the same and “beg” compliance, when roads encourage driving 10-20-30 mph over the “safety limit”.
Nice idea, but I’ve seen people drive SUVs over very sharp speed bumps without slowing down a bit. I’ve even seen them drive over the blocks in parking lots, over sidewalks, you name it. If people still drove sedans and regular cars rather than street legal monster trucks, your idea would work.
Electric retractable steel bollards apparently cost less than a hawk signal to install.
Like during a red phase, a bollard comes up? I’d be interested to see about the mechanism and how they hold up to being driven on and used over and over…
They seem to work well in England where they are used to block drivers from using bike/bus lanes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IELpd43PMvk That one corner had three wrecks, did you notice?
And cleaning up the mess probably costs less than sending a police officer to court to testify to a ticket, but with a 100% compliance rate. Plus, the driver has to get a different car, so you get a break from their terrible driving for at least slightly longer than a traffic stop. It probably also shifts some workload from the justice system to insurance companies. Looks like win-win-win-win for the taxpayer, even if we don’t post video of it on youtube.
How about giving the driver a “time-out”. How much time can a traffic stop take before it is considered excessively long? These stings should be done next to a large parking lot. Stop the vehicle, send them to the parking lot for processing. Then run them through that processing for about 1-3 hours.
That could get people fired. It would hit the economically vulnerable so much harder than the people with white collar jobs where you can just call in sick or whatever. Walmart will fire your ass in a second.
I am now retired, bike ~2500-3000 miles/year and drive ~5000 miles/year. I have another perspective on these enforcement actions-the number of pedestrians that do not properly yield to vehicles at crosswalks. In downtown Corvallis, I would estimate this at 30-40%, not including those who jaywalk mid-block. The Thomas legal advertisement at the top right gives information concerning the legal distance requirement for motorists. It only takes a few minutes of observation to see pedestrians giving vehicles less than 1/4 of this distance before stepping into the crosswalk. Statements saying that motorists must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks are factually incorrect. I do not want to hit a pedestrian but pedestrians are also often at fault on crosswalk violations.
Say more about this – I’m not sure what behavior you’re talking about when you say a pedestrian doesn’t properly yield in a crosswalk. Don’t pedestrians have right of way in a crosswalk?
Refer to the Thomas attorney ad at top right, they have a book guide to pedestrian rights. Go to pages 22-23, ORS 814.040 is referenced and chart showing suggested safe stopping distances for vehicles.
“All assumptions are made in favor of the vehicle operator in order to snare only the worst offenders, such as by assuming vehicle speed is ten miles over the speed limit and assigning a long reaction time of 2 seconds, compared to the average of 1.6 seconds”
Driving at 20 mph I don’t need 131 feet to stop. Typical crosswalk enforcement actions just give drivers that much distance and only ticket those further back than that. Pedestrians have a legal duty not to leave a curb or other place of safety when vehicles are so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. If a car is 100 feet away driving at 20 mph they are not so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
Is ‘jaywalking’ illegal in Corvalis? In Portland you have a legal right to cross outside of crosswalks as long as you are 150 feet from the nearest one, and you must yield to vehicles on the road.
One question: why do they put up a sign that there’s an enforcement event taking place? I would think it was interesting that they found so many infractions despite the sign if I didn’t already know that drivers just don’t read signs. But why warn them at all?
I don’t recall ever seeing a sign like that on Clinton or in Ladd’s Addition when they were running enforcements that targeted people on bikes.
For Ladd’s Addition enforcement, they park to the right of the stop sign. Any rider who looks both ways for pedestrians will see the police before entering the intersection…in case we wondered how many riders look both way for pedestrians.
I think it’s required by law. It’s certainly required for the radar van enforcement actions.
And why does PBOT bias their enforcements toward marked and/or signed crosswalks when the vast majority of crosswalks are unmarked? Their actions, while helping with behaviors at marked crosswalks, reinforce the mistaken notion that crosswalks are all marked.
I totally agree!! My daughter, her friend, and I were honked at and yelled at while crossing Hawthorne at an unmarked crosswalk – “get in a crosswalk!!” – it seems to me some serious education is needed!
I’ve been yelled at while standing at a corner (unmarked crosswalk) waiting for traffic to clear before crossing. The guy slowed down, yelled at us, and then took off. Absolutely bonkers.
So none of these violations resulted in any actual harm to anyone, though…right?
Depends on what you consider “harm.”
Was there actual physical injury? No.
But this type of driving behavior has a huge livability impact on our city. People don’t use public space and roads like they would otherwise because of it. People don’t walk and bike and play like they would like to because they are afraid of streets when people behave so dangerously and illegally behind the wheel.
That is the definition of harm in my book.
There were 55 pedestrians killed by motorists in 2012, so to answer your question, yes: those violations resulted in harm.
For the same reason would you support enforcement actions against cyclists that don’t ride in a considerate manner around pedestrians on the waterfront, esplanade, and Hawthorne bridge?
How many people have been killed by inconsiderate cyclists in the entirety of human history?
Is that a trick question? 🙂
Heck, let’s include considerate cyclists, while we’re at it!
That was supposed to be in response to the post above from Jonathan defining harm to include non physical injuries. If that counts as a harm great enough to justify enforcement then what do you say to aggressive bicyclists that keep people from walking and biking as much as they’d like? How many people like Rachel J. don’t enjoy the city as much as they would if the aggressive commuter type would slow down?
Once you expand the definition of harm to the non physical then is a driver speeding at forty mph in the middle of a road but fifteen feet from any pedestrian or cyclist so much worse than a bike going fifteen mph without warning passing less than one foot from a pedestrian or cyclist on a shared path? Both negatively impact livability. If that driver leaves the road and takes his bike to a park has livability improved? Say a pedestrian steps into a crosswalk and the car in that lane doesn’t stop, forcing the pedestrian to step back or have a car pass within a couple feet. That has a greater harm than a bike passing just as close. But the car in the next lane over can get a ticket for not stopping too. Is a bike cutting within a foot of pedestrians or cyclists at high speed so much better than a car moving faster, but more than ten feet away and with a second car between them and the person crossing? Or if the pedestrian was in the street but made no move towards completing the crossing, is there a safety issue? Or just one of livability, where the pedestrian is less likely to go out later because aggressive drivers like that one makes it more dangerous than it has to be.