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With video of lawbreakers, PPB will increase focus on infamous Ladd Circle stop sign

Posted by on January 29th, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Stop sign entering Ladd Circle.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

UPDATE, 1/31: Please read this update where I give Traffic Division Sgt. Ty Engstrom the opportunity to clarify and expand on his concerns about this issue.

Here we go again.

The Portland Police Bureau just released a statement saying they’ll step up education and enforcement efforts around Ladd Circle because road users are not coming to a stop and watching for others before rolling through.

Here’s the statement:

After receiving multiple community complaints about motorists and cyclists failing to heed stop signs and endangering pedestrians in the Ladd’s Addition neighborhood, the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division responded to assess the situation. Sergeant Ty Engstrom of the Traffic Division observed the area and also the practice of most motorists and cyclists failing to come to a complete stop as required by law at the intersections.

The Ladd’s Addition intersections are roundabouts with one-way traffic and many of the motorists and cyclists, in addition to failing to stop, are also not looking to their right to check for pedestrians who have the right of way. This puts vulnerable pedestrians at risk. This residential neighborhood has a high amount of pedestrian traffic as adults, children, and pets travel on foot.

Sergeant Ty Engstrom determined this was an opportunity to educate the public about the dangers of this behavior. The Traffic Division plans to follow the public education with enforcement missions to highlight the dangers of failing to heed the rules of the road.

In 2018, there were 34 fatalities on Portland roadways and of those 18 were pedestrians. So far in 2019, there have been 3 fatalities and 2 have been pedestrians. The Portland Police Bureau asks for the community’s help in reducing traffic fatalities by following the rules of the road and being aware of pedestrians.

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The City of Portland has adopted a program called Vision Zero with the goal of reducing the number of serious-injury and fatal crashes to zero by 2025. Sergeant Engstrom reminds us, “Not all fatal and serious-injury crashes are at high speeds. In fact, some are at very low speeds. Please slow down and obey the law, no matter what mode of transportation you use.” The Portland Police Bureau will be following up to educate, then enforce traffic codes in the Ladd’s Addition area in the coming weeks.

The PPB also released this short video which clearly shows several bicycle riders failing to comply with the stop sign.

It’s unfortunate that people aren’t being more considerate and careful when entering the circle. It’s equally unfortunate that after well over a decade we seem to have made no progress on this issue.

Yes it was in 2007 that we first covered enforcement of the Ladd Circle stop signs. Back then it was the exact same issue: Residents complained about it and police responded. And then advocates became outraged that, given all the much more serious traffic safety concerns plaguing our city, our precious police resources where being wasted on such a relatively safe intersection.

Also in 2007 we shared a statement from the Portland Bureau of Transportation saying that the solution to this issue is a redesign of the circle so we can remove the stops signs altogether.

In the meantime, I encourage everyone who enters Ladd Circle to be respectful, slow down and look for oncoming traffic and people on the sidewalk before rolling through.

Here is additional coverage of this issue from our archives:
Police report on Ladds Circle enforcement (4/12/07)
Police target Ladds for educational mission (7/22/08)
Ladds stop sign ‘trip-wire’ incident garners headlines (7/22/10)
Ladd Circle stop sign issue heating up again (6/27/11)
Video shows extremely low compliance at Ladd Circle stop signs (6/28/11)
Solution for Ladd Circle stop sign issue? Cookies (7/1/11)
Neighbors distribute survey to help fix Ladd Circle traffic problems (10/18/11)
Police enforcement at Ladd Circle, N Flint ruffles feathers once again (8/30/12)
Stop! Police will target Ladd Circle stop sign violators today (9/18/13)
Southeast Portland elementary warns parents about unsafe cycling near school (3/1/16)

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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dan
Guest
dan

I bike commuted through here for about 15 years and would say that a large majority of cyclists do not look to the right for pedestrians before entering the circle. Probably the same for motorists, but it’s harder to tell with them…

Should this be an enforcement priority? No. Do a lot of people behave disrespectfully to pedestrians here? Yes.

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

Have any of the 37 fatalities in the past 13 months on Portland roadways happened in, around, or anywhere near Ladd’s Circle where the enforcement action is happening? I honestly can’t recall any traffic collisions in there since an unfortunate soul lost control of his steed and careened into an oncoming car many years ago.

This leaves me wishing I could complain and get enforcement of bike box rules, no turn on red rules, red light runners, and people who drive in bike lanes while I’m in them.

ugh
Guest
ugh

This is the only place that I have ever been hit by a cyclist as a pedestrian. It sucked. Probably worse for him as he fell off the bike. Not so much as an apology either. Sigh…

Doubtful that an afternoon of cops will fix anything and I’m certain there are better places to wield our limited enforcement budget.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This is probably one of the safest large intersections in the city. Low speeds, limited movements, well-marked crosswalks… Hopefully someone doesn’t die in East Portland while this operation is being conducted.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Portland has plenty of data to show that this intersection is high usage but extremely safe. It is absolutely an egregious waste of resources to continue doing these completely unnecessary stings. I believe it is time for the city to remove the stop signs completely, but barring that I do have a question. Why when they do crosswalk stings targeting motor vehicles at actual dangerous locations do they put up big huge warning signs that say crosswalk enforcement ahead, but when they do these ladd’s stings they don’t put up big warning signs?

J_R
Guest
J_R

It makes absolutely no sense for STOP signs to be the traffic control at these intersections. The circulator is a one-way street; only right turns are permitted. Each of the STOP signs should be replaced with a YIELD sign. THEN, and only then, should there be some pedestrian crossing enforcement actions.

Of all the places to do enforcement, this ranks about number 900 on my list. Every day, I see motorists blow through red lights, fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and exceed the speed limit by 10 mph.

It is unacceptable for bicyclists to fail to yield at crosswalks, but having an enforcement action at a location where there is little possibility of a major injury while ignoring places where many major injuries have occurred is ridiculous.

By the way, I stop at those stupid stop signs.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

I’m not sure what the income level of a neighborhood has to do with the enforcement of traffic laws. Ladd’s Addition is a nice neighborhood, but let’s not act like this is a service for some rich Dunthorpe enclave.

soren
Guest
soren

“Please slow down and obey the law, no matter what mode of transportation you use.”

I very much agree that people cycling should slow down for people walking.

Howeover, I disagree that we should obey the law that requires people cycling to come to a full stop at stop signs. I After all, several studies suggest that coming to a complete stop is, if anything, slightly less safe than Idaho Stopping.

I personally try to set a positive example by Idaho stopping every time I can do so safely.

A video illustration of the Idaho Stop:
https://vimeo.com/4140910

Allan Rudwick
Subscriber

Like every intersection in portland, the odds of being busted for a violation are still incredibly low because there is almost no traffic enforcement of any kind anywhere in town.

I completely agree with the massive amount of criticism PBOT gets whenever doing enforcement at Ladd’s. Let’s focus enforcement to locations with serious injuries/fatalities

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The great irony of the crosswalks in Ladd’s is that everyone gets bent when people don’t stop for one half of the crosswalk (as they’re entering the circle), but no one cares if cars or bikes go really fast over the other half (as they’re exiting the circle). If anything, it is the exiting half that is more dangerous, as vehicles are going faster, and it’s not always clear if they’ll be turning across the crosswalk until the last second.

Since everyone should be stopping at the stop sign, why not add a parking-lot speed bump there to reinforce the practice?

q
Guest
q

It seems like removing the stop signs altogether would be a roundabout approach.

David
Guest
David

The thought of this action being tied in any way, shape, or form to Vision Zero is so thoroughly disappointing that it’s hard to put into words. Through the statement posted here it is clear that PPB does not clearly understand the point of Vision Zero nor the actions necessary to achieve it.

If the focus of this was on car drivers blowing stop signs and speeding (in an area with a history of serious-injury and fatal crashes) it would definitely make sense in the context of advancing the city’s goals. If the blurb at the end was missing this could be a plausible use of PPB’s scarce resources though with the strong emphasis on equity in everything the city does this move does seem to be a head-scratcher without more explanation about how this meets our equity goals surrounding enforcement.

If PPB really wanted to look at getting people to stop at intersections they could stick to downtown, or High Crash Corridors/Intersections, and have their pick of places where people (mostly driving cars) fail to stop at stop signs or red traffic lights.

A bicyclist running a stop sign has not caused another person to be seriously injured or killed in the City of Portland as far as I can find (it’s obviously a bad outcome when a person riding a bike hits someone on foot and I do not want to ignore the harm caused by these crashes). While this action is not legal, labeling it as a threat to others to the same degree as cars failing to stop is disingenuous and enforcement actions like this are a pretty flagrant misallocation of resources until such time as more prominent enforcement actions, like the one last week, stop tagging such high volumes of drivers with breaking one or more laws that do lead directly to harming others.

Sunsetting
Guest
Sunsetting

Are you suggesting road users to roll through?
“In the meantime, I encourage everyone who enters Ladd Circle to slow down and look for oncoming traffic and people on the sidewalk before rolling through.”
Id highly recommend obeying stop signs. Not doing so may anger those other road users. Also, let’s follow the laws. They are there for a reason!

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

What an egregious waste of resoures. We have maybe 5 patrol officers working at any one time (who knows, I haven’t seen one in months) and now they are spending their time doing this.
Baffling.

Doug Klotz
Subscriber

My guess: PPD gets requests for enforcement from many areas. But some Police officers (many of whom drive from Vancouver), are annoyed at bicyclists, and jump on the chance to ticket cyclists, with the pretext that the neighbors called them about it. Prove me wrong.

q
Guest
q

Three things that jump right out to me in the video (or when actually there):

–First, the stop signs are pretty far back from the circle’s curb–almost so far that if you stop behind the sign, by the time you’re actually going into the circle, you could be going almost as fast as if you’d never stopped.
–Second, the circle’s road is wide, when you proceed into the circle, you’re nowhere close to getting in the way of a car driving in the circle.
–Third, at at typical 90 degree intersection, you need to look almost a full 90 degrees to the left to see oncoming traffic. But here, traffic in the circle is approaching you diagonally–you can see it by turning your glance just slightly left of forward–you don’t really even need to turn your head. And the same applies the other way–drivers can see you entering the circle very easily, because you’re not coming at them from the side, but diagonally.

For all these reasons, coming to a full stop on a bike doesn’t seem necessary in comparison to a typical right-angle intersection.

q
Guest
q

This reminds me of years ago in Seattle when the police were hiding in the bushes in the dark, late at night, to catch people skinny-dipping in Lake Washington in the Arboretum. So yeah, they caught naked people, but people who could claim they were there at night with nobody visible around specifically because they were diligently trying to avoid offending anyone, and if there had been people around, they wouldn’t have done it.

Here, with the camera, they’re catching people who might always stop fully if there were anyone else around. It’d be different if they put a pedestrian or person biking out there and focused on people who ran the signs in a way that actually interfered with those other users.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Platinum!

rick kappler
Guest
rick kappler

But somehow the people driving a car and illegally using the bike lanes on SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway as turn lanes are not activities that should be frequently addressed?

9watts
Subscriber

From one of the earlier topics (2012) here on this subject:
“Sgt. Fort said the Ladd Circle issues is more about livability than safety.”

peter hass
Guest
peter hass

A couple of years ago the police were doing a morning sting operation at Ladd’s circle as well as up the road at the intersection of Clinton and 21st…another popular roll through. Just a heads up.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Normalize this roundabout NOW. Roundabouts with stop signs are way out of the norm. Move the bus stops to better spots (off the circle) and get rid of the stop signs.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

The Absolute hilarity that we as educated people in this day and age are actually spending time and money (through police) to enforce red metal signs in this round about, just goes to show how backwards things have gotten. Let’s hope this is a catalyst for change.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

Yet not a single fatality, let alone any serious traffic-related injuries, in Ladd’s circle…I saw that cop sitting there last week and wondered what he was doing…I guess the pay is the same for whatever…and they don’t ever seem to spend the same amount of time or resources clamping down on the open-air bicycle chop-shops all over town, go figure.

Pat Franz
Guest
Pat Franz

I have to agree there is a mild problem at the circle. While stopping at the stop signs *might* improve safety, it seems to me the bigger issue is that people don’t know what to do to make a traffic circle safe, and they kind of do whatever they want.

I would rather see an experiment where signs were added to explain how to cooperate and be safe in a traffic circle. “Yield to traffic in the circle” and “Look both ways for pedestrians” and “Signal your exit” are the safe and efficient behaviors you want. So, tell people that. The current “STOP, then do whatever” isn’t safe or efficient behavior.

The sidewalk sight lines are pretty good around most of the circle, but trimming some shrubbery in a couple places would help too.

oldguyluvs2ride
Guest
oldguyluvs2ride

I have biked and walked and driven through Ladd’s thousands of times – the vast majority on a bike. This is a ridiculous waste of resources. These stop signs should be yield signs as the visibility here is great. If the city wants to improve our slim chances of attaining Vision Zero, they should do an enforcement for crosswalk and speeding violations on Hawthorne, Lincoln/Harrison, Division, et al. There is no way that the majority of automobile operators are driving anywhere close to 20 MPH between SE 30th and SE 50th on Hawthorne. Try crossing at an unmarked crosswalk between 30th and 34th or between 42nd and 50th. You better be prepared to jump out of the way.

RH
Guest
RH

Can someone remind me why this isn’t treated like a normal roundabout like other cities? Why is there a stop sign in the first place?

Catie
Guest
Catie

Do we know what mechanism the Police are using to get these community complaints? Or what process they use to select where they do traffic enforcement? My hunch is that this is not being trickled up from the 823 Safe hotline and instead based off of direct phone calls or e-mails? I think this is an important part of the story. Lots of people send complaints to PBOT about being afraid to cross the street, and Portland Police should have a process to work through those.

Tim
Guest
Tim

A squeaky wheel is getting grease for a relative non-problem at Ladd Circle. Why can’t we use these tactics for real problems. Cyclists should start posting videos and sending complaints to the local police for the truly dangerous drivers and intersections.

Alex Reedin, now in Albuquerque, NM
Guest
Alex Reedin, now in Albuquerque, NM

It’s very disappointing that the PPB uses Vision Zero as part of their press release to justify this action. As many commenters above have pointed out, this is not a location where limited police enforcement is best directed in order to save lives. It would be less smarmy / misleading if the PPB PR department just left that bit out when announcing actions that are prioritized based on values other than Vision Zero. It’s OK, the public understands that there are still other important things out there other than Vision Zero, you can just chalk this one up to livability and responsive government and leave it at that.

Including Vision Zero in this press release feeds a public perception that the PPB is Vision Zero-washing their actions and not really taking the Vision Zero initiative seriously.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Don’t take it seriously, or just don’t understand what it is. Very well stated.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

I walk everywhere in Bend, because bicycling is too dangerous in the Downtown core. The single biggest risk, by far, is crossing in front of a right turning car. I would guess that maybe 25% actually look for peds. They are only concerned about pulling out as quickly as possible to beat traffic coming from their left. Most of the time they pull out to effectively block my marked or unmarked crossing. I always make eye contact and get acknowledgement before I cross in front of them. I would say that I have a close call every other day or so. A non-nimble or disabled ped does not stand a chance. I have no solution, because the driving agressiveness is so engrained in our populous now. Local cops have issued tickets (OK once) after one of my hundreds of close calls, but there is virtually no traffic enforcement over here. It is very low on the City Council’s list of funding priorities. As a consequence, almost everyone drives here, even for short errands.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Maybe a good response would be a VisionZero protest in Ladd Circle while the police are there.

soren
Guest
soren

Let’s also recall that a very angry Ladd’s Addition resident attempted to severely injure someone by stringing up a trip wire along the Neighborhood Greenway that enters the circle.

I just biked through Ladd’s Addition around 1am. Someone had set up clear tape like a trip wire across the road. Another biker and I stopped to dismantle it, assuming it was kids playing a prank and complaining about how dangerous it would be for someone on a bike, but not for cars. As we biked away, we heard a man’s voice calling from the bushes in Ladd’s Circle, “Thanks for stopping!”

http://blog.oregonlive.com/commuting/2010/07/police_investigating_bicycle_t.html

Mike
Guest
Mike

Why should they install more stop signs if you argue they shouldn’t enforce stopping at the signs already erected? Or is your argument that they should only enforce stopping at the signs you deem to be important (ie- lower income neighborhoods)?

Richard
Guest
Richard

This only confirms to me that traffic law adherence is a form of bike advocacy. We never know which intersection or traffic circle will amass complaints and subsequent misallocation of resources. (And I can absolutely see residents filing these complaints, regardless of larger-perspective issues plaguing the city.) I agree that literally any intersection downtown, for example, would merit this degree of enforcement more. I would cry tears of gratitude if SW 14th and Everett got some attention. But I also understand the demand created at Ladd’s, and I can’t help but wonder if city priorities would be straighter if everyone just stopped at the stop sign — perhaps, while advocating to remove them in other ways.

JR
Guest
JR

PPB should be using that map application to target enforcement rather than complaints at an inappropriately signed traffic circle.

TonyT
Subscriber
TonyT

A decade of requesting speed enforcement due to people operating multi-thousand pound vehicles at 2x the legal limit on my neighborhood Greenway (a block from a school) and we’ve gotten nothing. Let’s not kid ourselves, there are two things at work here: Ladd’s Addition has MONEY and PPB would much rather target people on bikes. This is about dominance, not safety.

Yes, people shouldn’t be jerks and should exercise more care and yield to people walking. Does what’s happening in Ladd’s even remotely rise to a priority given where and how people are dying in Portland? No. Enforcement is a joke in Portland.

andy
Guest
andy

I have only seen traffic circles with stop signs in america. Everywhere else I have been in the world you yield to those on your left. Doubtful how this sting is going to save lives or change behavior.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

Naked Bike Ride and Thursday Night Ride should roll through here.

soren
Guest
soren

10 months ago Wes W. Hatton was hit and killed while attempting to cross inner SE Belmont in a marked crosswalk.

1 year and a few months ago Patrick Moore was hit and killed while attempting cross inner SE Powell near SE 50th.

2 years and several months ago Fallon Smart (age 15) was hit and killed while attempting to cross inner SE Hawthorne in a marked crosswalk.

If PBOT and the Portland Police Bureau were genuinely concerned about “traffic safety” in inner SE Portland their enforcement actions would target Belmont, Powell, and Hawthorne, not the Ladd’s circle.

#ZeroVision

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

Seems Portland has trouble with traffic circles, round-abouts or whatever you want to call them. Maybe its time to move Joan, tear out the roses and just run streets straight through, so traffic can keep moving without having to slow or stop! Or maybe an underpass! What a waste of police resources!
Seriously, when I was riding a lot, I followed just three rules: don’t get hit, don’t be a jerk, and don’t lose momentum. Sometimes I stopped as directed, but often as not #3 overruled #1.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Replace those darn stop signs with yield signs and perhaps some mild traffic calming (lane/intersection narrowing) at Ladd’s and the ‘conflict’ could go away. Meanwhile, on my North Portland street, with recently reduced posted speed from 30mph to 25mph, some drivers continue to regularly go twice as fast (or more) with numerous documented crashes and destroyed street-parked cars, and there is ZERO traffic enforcement. No traffic enforcement in the three years I’ve lived here regardless of how many times I call the Help line.

Doug Klotz
Subscriber

Hello, Kitty
Which neighborhood meetings have people been vociferously complaining at? Surely that would be in the minutes. Where in the media has this “vocal minority” been complaining (and do you have evidence it is enough people to constitute a “minority” and not a lone crank or two?)You’ve made two easily verifiable assertions of fact (along with your unverifiable ones). I’d love to see your evidence.Recommended 1

The HAND neighborhood (covers Ladds) has two new board members who joined specifically to oppose the new diverters on SE Harrison, so that could be one source of complaints.

Dave
Guest
Dave

North Peninsular and the power of observation. I would invite you to sit back and watch the action next time you’re in the neighborhood. I am not exaggerating when I say it’s common to see people driving twice or more than the posted speed.

Ladd’s is a perfect candidate to consider something other than stop signs – with some traffic calming measures, as I mentioned. The ‘traffic calming’ neighborhood stop sign, loved by traffic engineers of yesteryear, hasn’t shown to reduce conflicts or crashes. There are better design options that can solve those issues.

ebiker32
Guest
ebiker32

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Good question Catie. My hunch is they hear from all over… As folks in this neighborhood are very good, well-versed at pulling the levers of power. Would not be surprised if people have Engstrom’s number on their speed dial.There is a process in place. This is a very well-known spot for lack of compliance. PPB knows this. They get complaints and — instead of settling them directly with the complainers — they have made a decision to go public. I’m calling Engstrom today to talk more about it. From a voicemail he left yesterday it sounds like his intention was simply to raise awareness of the issue. Unfortunately mistakes have been made about how the information was presented … Suffice it to say the PPB could use some PR/comms training.Recommended 2

What keeps all the commenters here from organizing and beginning the change they want to see? I see about 190 comments being left on this topic. Are these commenters ready to do something? Talk has never been cheaper.

bendite
Guest
bendite

It’s not a roundabout if there’s a stop sign.

Ted Buehler
Guest
Ted Buehler

Folks,

Lesson in Advocacy 101.

If you want to get something changed.
– get photo or video evidence. Post it.
– make repeated complaints
– get your neighbors to also make repeated complaints

It’s not that hard…

You might not agree with the stance that the neighborhood activists are taking, but that shouldn’t keep you from taking note of the excellent example of civic involvement here by the Ladds Circle neighbors, in our less-than-perfect world.

Ted Buehler

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Does anyone know if it’s the traffic patrol running this enforcement action, or the standard-issue PPB?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

And has anyone actually seen the police there?