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Scofflaw car drivers are keeping police very busy

Posted by on May 19th, 2020 at 1:47 pm

The driver of this car seen sliding around on the Fremont Bridge was ultimately arrested and charged with 2 counts of reckless driving, 2 counts of reckless endangering and 2 counts of disorderly conduct.
(Photo: YouTube)

Whether it’s the Coronavirus Effect, a general sense of lawlessness, lack of concern about consequences, or all of the above — the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division has been very busy with dangerous drivers recently.

You’ve likely seen the headlines about a spike in speeding. This is happening for the aforementioned reasons and because the pandemic has opened up more space on the roads. Any armchair traffic engineer will tell you that when people have more space to operate a vehicle they will use it to go faster (like 107 mph in a 45 mph zone) and take more chances.

Now we have hard data from the PPB about how this phenomenon is playing out locally.

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2019 (left) versus 2020 totals. (Source: PPB)

According to statistics shared the PPB last week, the Traffic Division has issued 328% more speeding citations in the last two months compared to the same time period last year. Between March 24th, 2019 and May 12th, 2020 they issued 661 speed limit citations and 5 speed racing citations. Between those same dates this year they issued 2,832 citations for speeding and 22 for speed racing.

In the past month alone (since April 29th), the Traffic Division has issued 85 citations, 70 warnings and made two arrests during three “Pedestrian Safety Crosswalk Missions.”

Eight officers lye in wait for speeders on a Highway 26 on-ramp.

Then there’s illegal street racing. Since April 20th, the PPB have shown up to four of these gatherings where people do burnouts (a.k.a. donuts) and race each other on public streets and in private parking lots. On April 12th a large group of people blocked the upper deck of I-405 Fremont Bridge so they could hold an impromptu party with their cars and get videos of people driving in circles very fast.

In less than a month the PPB has made 83 stops, issued 65 citations, towed 15 cars, and arrested 18 people at these illegal and dangerous events.

This is a huge drain on city resources that could be put to more productive use and it exposes yet another negative impact some drivers have. This type of behavior puts all road users at risk.

Thankfully PPB Traffic Division officers have been able to devote about 25% more time to traffic enforcement this year (compared to last year). That’s because all the events they usually work have been cancelled and there’s been a reduction in major crashes.

Hopefully drivers get the message that their scofflaw behaviors won’t go unnoticed. And the next time you hear someone ranting on Nextdoor about how bicycle riders are going through stop signs, please send them the link to this article.

— 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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mark smith
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mark smith

Wait…what? Bikes are killing thousands each year?

Barry Cochran
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And the next time you hear someone ranting on Nextdoor about how bicycle riders are going through stop signs, please send them the link to this article.

I’m just going to save this link on my desktop. Although, St. Johns neighborhood social media has, in all fairness, also complained at length about the loud/dangerously fast/out-of-control car traffic.

 
Guest
 

Kudos to PPB for stepping up enforcement efforts this year; it’s been sorely needed. But why anyone in the street racing, 31+, or 100+ groups still has their license is beyond me… it’s way more than simple carelessness.

Bikeninja
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Bikeninja

Heck with the citations, bring on the mobile car crushers.

qqq
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qqq

“And the next time you hear someone ranting on Nextdoor about how bicycle riders are going through stop signs, please send them the link to this article.”

I assume some people will think the value of pointing out these statistics is to show how much more dangerous drivers are behaving than bike riders. There’s some truth to that. But what I like them for is to point out no driver is going to say that the 100-mph drivers are “us”, or that their insane speeding is anything other than individual acts that aren’t representative of typical drivers. But meanwhile, people will see bad behavior by a bike rider or two, and conclude in their minds that all people who ride bikes are bad.

Similarly, no driver is going to say, “We need to get these speeders under control, because it reflects badly on all of us drivers”.

Mike Quigley
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Mike Quigley

Traffic enforcement wouldn’t be a huge drain on police resources if it paid for itself (plus a little extra). For example, instead of a warning or $200 fine for speeding, how about no warning and an automatic $5000 fine for the first offense? $10,000 fine and vehicle confiscation for second offense?

Squeaky Wheel
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Squeaky Wheel

And the next time you hear someone ranting on Nextdoor about how bicycle riders are going through stop signs, please send them the link to this article.

Thank you for the advice, will do. Should I say, “so stop complaining about bicycle riders!” after I send the article? Another question: instead of the article about car driving scofflaws (love that word, btw, very 1930s Dick Tracy), can I send an article about Trump defunding the WHO, or about the recent JC Penney bankruptcy. I’m actually not sure why I’m sending these articles to my neighbors who are upset about bicycle rider behavior. Any additional advice much appreciated.

Skid
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Skid

That’s what happens when you close down the PIR drag strip and drift racing at Pat’s Acres….people gotta get their HOON on 😀

mh
Subscriber

Jonathan – check your years: “Between March 24th, 2019 and May 12th, 2020”

Fred
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Fred

That photo of people STANDING AROUND on the Fremont Bridge, while some person does donuts in a high-powered car, has to be the finest expression of theft of public space – and safety – that I have ever seen. JM is right: the minor infringements of cyclists pale in comparison to that utter lawlessness, with its high likelihood of death and serious injury. Every person on the Hawthorne Bridge that day should have his driver license suspended for a minimum of five years.

Anon
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Anon

I’ve noticed in general that there’s been an uptick in people doing things just because they can–whether that’s being jerks or committing crimes–because they’re more likely to get away with it.

For example, in my apartment building, certain neighbors are obnoxiously loud and/or smoke weed all the time. (Not that I care if anyone smokes weed, but I don’t want to be forced to smell it.)

During “normal” times, I could either talk to these neighbors or, if necessary, complain to management or even the City in extreme cases, but right now none of these options are really available, and some people are definitely taking advantage of it.

I’m trying to choke down my contempt since there’s not much I can do, but people like this, including the reckless drivers noted in the article, seem really vile to me. We should strive to be at our best and support each other during times like these, not lean into our selfishness.

Skid
Guest
Skid

I don’t see this as any different than Critical Mass, Zoobomb, or a bike messenger Alleycat, events I have participated in multiple times.

betty
Guest
betty

That car in the picture looks exactly like the car of a guy who speeds/revvs his engine and blasts his loud muffler down my street in Beaverton. Those racers/donut people are all throughout Beaverton and Hillsboro. One guy crashed his car in an apartment complex near me. I fear for my life riding in Washington County. Up and down Cornell/ 206th/Corn pass and they smoke their tires and make loud muffler noises in those business parks in Amberglen area. You can see the damage they do on the pavement. My main complaint is the extreme muffler noise, but it has caused me to stop riding my bike. It feels like a civil war over here. I want this fast and furious car culture to stop. Plus, those aftermarket “mufflers” are usually illegal anyway. Not enough is being done about it in Washington County, IMO.

Bstedman
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Bstedman

If only we cluld use speed cameras in bigger amounts. You know like they do in Europe. Then it wouldn’t be such a drain for police officers.