Woman cited by Portland Police for not riding in downtown bike lane

The bike lane on SW 2nd Avenue is buffered from other lanes by parked cars. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“[That bike lane is a] death trap. It’s hazard after hazard.”

– Bicycle rider ticketed downtown

A woman riding a bike was pulled over and cited by a Portland Police officer Monday afternoon. It happened on Southwest 2nd Avenue as she rode north just after crossing SW Washington. Her offense? She was not riding in the bike lane.

Believe it or not, Oregon has a law that requires bicycle users to use a bike lane whenever one is available. ORS 814.420 states, “a person commits the offense of failure to use a bicycle lane or path if the person operates a bicycle on any portion of a roadway that is not a bicycle lane or bicycle path when a bicycle lane or bicycle path is adjacent to or near the roadway.”

It’s a type of law — known as a “mandatory sidepath rule” — many states have moved away from. The national nonprofit League of American Bicyclists vehemently opposes laws like this and has fought against them at the federal level. They’ve also specifically called-out this law in Oregon as a reason for notching us down several rungs in national bike-friendly state rankings.

The ticket.

A big problem with mandatory sidepath laws is that they leave enforcement open to discretion of police officers — some of whom are unsympathetic to bicycle riders, don’t fully understand bike-related law and don’t have any bicycling experience themselves. It’s also just a waste of resources to pull someone over for operating their bicycle in a general purpose lane in downtown Portland where speeds and volumes are relatively low and bicycle riders travel at the same speed as other road users (and of course there are rampant, illegal, dangerous, yet harder-to-see-because-it’s-so-normalized-and-ubiquitous, behaviors by car and truck drivers).

The woman ticketed Monday said SW 2nd Avenue has been her regular commute route home for the past eight years. She usually avoids the bike lanes because they are “a death trap.” “That entire stretch is hazard after hazard,” she shared with me this week. “I wish the police would refocus their efforts to ticketing the 5-10 cars parked in the bike lanes I come across on my 1.5 mile commute.”

Adding to the frustration around this incident, it happened in a location where the bike lane is arguably less safe than other lanes (another reason this is a bad law).

I posted a video to Facebook in 2017 that illustrated my concerns with this bike lane — the same ones I shared when it was first installed in 2016.

Bike riders will often opt out of using bike lanes because they are so often full of debris, potholes, or inherent engineering hazards that make bike lanes less safe than other lanes. The 2nd Avenue bike lane specifically is also known to be full of puddles and leaves this time of year. This matters because ORS 814.420 includes an exception that says a person is not required to use the bike lane if they are, “Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions.”

Back in July, BikePortland reader crazytraffic99 posted a video to YouTube that clearly captured one of these hazardous conditions:


While tickets for not using the bike lane are “very rare” and “not useful” according to Portland bike lawyer Mark Ginsberg, who specializes in helping people with these type of infractions, unfortunately they are still being written.

In this case, the woman who received the ticket reports that the officer who pulled her over didn’t talk much during the stop. She said he seemed like, “just a typical cyclist hating driver.” When asked to describe more about their conversation, she said the officer stated that he first noticed her while she rode eastbound on SW Alder, in the left lane outside of the new bike/bus lane. She did this because she was turning left at SW 2nd (a clearly legal thing to do according to ORS 814.420). Here’s more from her account of their conversation:

“He wasn’t happy I was riding down Alder on the left side (since I was turning left on 2nd and not crossing the Morrison Bridge). So after I turned onto 2nd and moved to the outside of the left lane to eventually turn right onto the Burnside Bridge, he turned on his lights and pulled me over at 2nd and Washington. He stated that there was a bike lane on 2nd and I was required to be in it, because motorists weren’t expecting me to be in their lane.”

The bicycle rider says she plans to contest the ticket when her day in court comes up in December 2023. “I will fight it,” she said, “If I don’t die in the next 13 months.”

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Scott Kocher
2 months ago

A rider can only be ticketed for failing to use a bicycle lane if there has been a public hearing finding that particular bicycle lane to be safe. See ORS 814.420 section 2:

“2) A person is not required to comply with this section unless the state or local authority with jurisdiction over the roadway finds, after public hearing, that the bicycle lane or bicycle path is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.“

I’m not aware of any jurisdiction ever holding such a hearing.

So, there are two kinds of bicycle lanes in Oregon. Those for which there has been a hearing and a finding. And others for which there has not. People are required to use the former. People are not required to use the latter. The only way for users to know what kind they are encountering is is to know whether there has been a hearing with a finding or not. This is certainly a basis to get the ticket thrown out, and perhaps the whole dumb law itself.

soren
soren
2 months ago

Pretty sure it’s been argued that the hearing requirement has been met by the public process PBOT went through to install the lanes.

As I recall, this argument was used to uphold the grants pass failure to ride in the bike lane citation.

AndyK
AndyK
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

Soren I think this was in Ashland. The “Public hearing” was in 2011, citation in 2013, upheld in 2014.

soren
soren
2 months ago
Reply to  AndyK

Thanks, the upheld appeal is it:

The officer actually brought up the part about the public hearings stating that they had public hearings in 2011 to determine if they should create these new bike lanes. I asked the judge how a public hearing in 2011 could determine that a bike lane created in 2013 was safe. She said the the public hearings in 2011 were sufficient to satisfy that a public hearing had been held.

FDUP
FDUP
2 months ago
Reply to  Scott Kocher

Scott – I can’t remember the name of the case but there is case law regarding ORS 814.420 from around 20 years ago in which the judge rendered an opinion essentially stating that if PBOT engineers designed the bike lane that was the equivalent of and could be substituted for the public hearing declaring the bike lane safe and suitable for use.

ORS 814.420 also has other exceptions for, among other things, avoiding hazards in the bike lane and preparing to make a left turn, but the former is likely subjective and you’ll end up arguing about it with the ticketing officer in front of a judge, and the latter apparently didn’t matter to the ticketing officer in the case at hand.

Finally – ORS 814.420 is terrible for cyclists from a liability standpoint, since if you get hit by a motor vehicle outside of the bike lane where one is present, you are not likely to be compensated by the courts or the insurance companies for your injuries or property loss.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago

Wasn’t PBOT saying recently that cyclists would not be required to use the new bike lanes they were installing near their “let cars go faster” project on NE 7th? They may want to issue a correction.

I hate the bike lanes on SW 2nd, and rarely ride on that street anymore. The center vehicle lane is absolutely the safest place to be on any of those downtown streets, and it makes me angry when PBOT takes steps to make it illegal for me to ride there.

We need more armchair planners reviewing what PBOT is building for our supposed benefit.

squareman
squareman
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I also recall that when Jonathan first covered the parking-protected lanes that were going in by PSU that PBOT considered them “experimental” and cyclists were explicitly not required to use them as a sidepath and PPB had been notified. I never heard about that changing. This is part of my frustration with all the “experimental” and inconsistent markings around town – including the “cross-bikes” which have zero actual legal definition for anyone.

FDUP
FDUP
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Hear, hear, the center lane is absolutely the safest place for cyclists on the three-lane north-south arterials in downtown!

Boyrd
Boyrd
2 months ago

That is ridiculous. It rained an inch yesterday, and pbot is absolutely terrible about clearing debris from bike lanes.

The second avenue bike lane is particularly awful, as Jonathan noted. And because it is ‘parking protected,’ it would be difficult to safely exit the bike lane at any point of one was to encounter giant puddles or massive piles of slippery, mushy leaves. And the positioning of the lane on the left hand side of the road is very unhelpful if you are planning to make a right on Burnside.

You can’t safely turn right from the bike lane, so you’d have to exit the bike lane and merge across two lanes of traffic to get in position to make the turn. There are only, what, a half dozen blocks between alder and burnside? If you were to get in the bike lane on second, you’d have to almost immediately begin the process of merging to get ready to make the right turn…

I think that any reasonable judge would throw this ticket out if the recipient were to contest it, as there are safety concerns and practical reasons to not use the bike lane if your intention is to go east on the burnside bridge But it’s a big burden to have to take the time and effort to go into court to do that.

squareman
squareman
2 months ago
Reply to  Boyrd

I’ve never needed to challenge a traffic ticket in court in Oregon, so I don’t know if the officer is required to be there like they do on the court day in California. Somebody, please let me know whether that’s the case or not. But if it is, my guess is that the cop won’t even show up. He probably knows it won’t hold up. But he also wanted to flex his “enforcer” privilege with his windshield biases. If he does show up, he runs the risk of getting ridiculed by the judge (like the one I got yelled at by the judge when I took a clear radar trap ticket to court).

FDUP
FDUP
2 months ago
Reply to  squareman

Yes the officer needs to be there, and yes, in Portland they mostly do show up.

soren
soren
2 months ago

It would be interesting to know the name of the officer. Was it Balzer, for example? Given the miniscule political power of cycling these days it’s possible that the police feel more empowered to return to their historical harrassment of people biking safely. Even if it gets thrown out in traffic court, this kind of harassment it still the kind of thing that adds to the majoritarian perception that cycling is a risky, even deviant, behavior.

He wasn’t happy I was riding down Alder on the left side 

As I recall, Oregon law allows people cycling to ride on the left side of one way streets and it also allows people cycling to exit the right-hand side of the road when turning. It seems that the popo officer was doubly wrong in their justification for pursuiing this person.

All cats are beautiful!

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

I was with you til the very end. All cats are NOT beautiful – we need to find out why cats like Officer Weber have time to ticket cyclists when the bureau as a whole seems unable to enforce MOST of the other traffic laws.

soren
soren
2 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Thanks for correcting my reading comprehension. Google found little suggesting negative interactions between Weber and people innocently cycling from point A to B.

Hope This Helps
Hope This Helps
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

Officer Weber (DPSST) #32070
PPB Officer ID information
https://www.portland.gov/police/chiefs-office/id-ppb-officer

And the DPSST database linked by PPB
https://www.bpl-orsnapshot.net/PublicInquiry_CJ/EmployeeSearch.aspx

FDUP
FDUP
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

Something we can agree on!

squareman
squareman
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

It would be interesting to know the name of the officer. Was it Balzer, for example? 

From near the bottom of the photo in the lede, it looks like the officer is Weber #32070

9watts
9watts
2 months ago

Do our cops also cite motorists for driving in (or parking, or opening their doors into) the bike lane?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Betsy Reese
Betsy Reese
2 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Call Parking Patrol 503-823-5195 for vehicles parked in the bike lane. They work seven days a week until 11:15 PM.

On my way out to observe the World Day of Remembrance a week ago Sunday, I passed a parking patrol officer ticketing four private vehicles, parked in the Division Street bike lane near 82nd Ave. I did a double take and turned around and went back and thanked her. It was a real boost on an otherwise somber day for me.

PTB
PTB
1 month ago
Reply to  Betsy Reese

When you call after office hours they tell you to call non-emergency. I don’t think any agency in Portland actually gives a shit about illegal parking. Outer Division bike lane is clogged up right now and I tried calling. It seems nuts to call non emergency over a parking violation.

Fred
Fred
2 months ago

We all need to remember this incident next time the PoPo say they don’t have resources to rein in speeding cars and other motor-vehicle infractions. Officer Weber obviously has the time in his busy schedule.

X
X
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

We have many many laws and they can’t all be enforced with available resources. This is a lively constitutional issue at this moment.

However police officers can decide at any time, like 6:00 pm on 11/28/22, to start enforcing their understanding of a particular statute. Judges mostly back them up.

This is the greatest power the police have. If they shoot us or beat us we might have some recourse. If they capriciously decide to start enforcing a law we can’t do anything about it.

–and that’s the other problem with * * bike lanes.

JF
JF
2 months ago

And Portland Police wonder why they have an image problem. I had several thousand dollars in stuff stolen from my storage unit in Portland. I provided police the name of the person who stole it and the names of witnesses who saw him steal it. The Portland Police response was more or less “bummer.” And yet they have time to ticket someone for riding ourside of a bike lane? Nice.

Stephen H
Stephen H
1 month ago
Reply to  JF

Don’t criticize the police This is why Portland is with crime nowadays. Defund the police make the city lawless. Homeless is not a crime let them commit crime. What a joke.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago

When bike riders are required to have a license and insurance to ride on roads paid for by licensed and insured motorists has taxes I will have more sympathy for cases such as this.

mark
mark
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

This is why the $15 bike excise tax is worthless. It was supposed to silence all the haters that can’t take the time to understand how everyone pays for our public roads, not just drivers.

Cc_rider
Cc_rider
2 months ago
Reply to  mark

The bike tax was added by republicans to throw some red meat to their base, not to “silence haters”.

They wanted their base to think they were being tuff on those godless liberal bicyclist

mark
mark
2 months ago
Reply to  Cc_rider

I recall that when this legislation was brought up, BTA/Street Trust relinquished their fight against it because they (mistakenly) thought it would get cyclists a “seat at the table.”

I agree with the sentiment of your comment.

Jake Notfromstatefarm
Jake Notfromstatefarm
1 month ago
Reply to  mark

Precisely the moment when that org jumped the shark.

I let my membership lapse after that and haven’t regretted it, especially with Iannarone at the helm. Didn’t think they could possibly get worse but here we are…

Chris I
Chris I
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

As a taxpayer, you should be upset that police are spending time (probably overtime) on things like this, instead of stopping the litany of crimes that are actually impacting our safety and quality of life in this city.

Or are you more focused more on tribalism?

whyat lee
whyat lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Oregon has a bike tax. We were the first state in the union to have one. Will you allow us to complain now?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  whyat lee

You mean, aside from the 45 states and DC that have even steeper sales taxes on bikes and other stuff? I pay 6.75% sales tax here in Greensboro NC – it’s even higher in most cities in CA and WA – which works out to $67.50 on a $1,000 bike. Man, do I wish we only had to pay a measly $15 bucks instead!

mark
mark
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

David, your sales tax applies to all goods, and likely includes motor vehicles. Our tax applies *only* to bicycles. Can you see the difference?

AL
AL
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Why are you advocating for sales tax on a Portland Oregon bike blog?

Hippodamus
Hippodamus
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Please look up your local municipal budget. A large percentage of your roadways are paid for by property taxes. Unless the cyclist is homeless, they’re paying for roadways.

J_R
J_R
2 months ago
Reply to  Hippodamus

Sorry, but I looked at the PBOT budget request document and I can’t see any entry to suggest that a “large percentage” of their budget is from property taxes. I think the percentage is near zero. I see lots of interdepartmental charges in the PBOT budget that go to other departments (administrative) and charges to BES for sewer maintenance. Where’s the evidence that there’s general fund money going into PBOT or other transportation agency budgets?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  J_R

Street lighting is always paid for with property taxes at PBOT, around 2-3% of the overall PBOT budget. During “good” years when the economy is doing well, PBOT gets an extra surge in property tax funding for repaving and streetcar, about an extra 5-10%, but during bad years it gets nothing beyond the street lights funding. Other cities in Oregon are more generous with using property taxes on transportation. Most cities outside of Oregon use a combination of sales taxes, gas taxes and property taxes to pay for transportation improvements and bus service.

During bad years PBOT invariably plays a game of cat and mouse when the city requires them to use parking and gas tax revenue to pay for street lighting. PBOT then offers to cut the street lighting and signals bill by having rolling blackouts citywide (just on streetlamps and signals, not on private dwellings and businesses which they have no control over.) PPB then invariably steps in and pays for the difference, knowing full well that rolling blackouts would fuel a huge surge in property and violent crime.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Hippodamus

 A large percentage of your roadways are paid for by property taxes.

Not in Oregon. Roads here are primarily paid for by road users.

squareman
squareman
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Page 8 of ODOT’s 2021’s annual report (PDF) says the following:

“The Department accounts for 85.9% of its expenditures in special revenue funds. The other 14.1% of the expenditures are in debt service funds (11.1%), capital project funds (1.3%) and general fund (1.7%).

Special Revenue fund revenues include taxes (65%) and federal revenues (26.7%).

Special Revenue Fund Revenues (so multiply all of these by .86 to get the true proportion of all expenditure funding):

27.4% Motor fuel taxes26.7% Federal Revenues18.8% Vehicle Taxes18.8 % Weight-Mile Taxes2.6% Other transportation fees2.3% Driver License fees0.7% Charges for Services0.7% Other revenues0.6% Other Sales Income0.6% Investment Income0.4% Business License Fees0.2% RentsSo 1 and 3-6 are primarily “road users,” (69.9% of the special revenue fund, or 60.1% of the total expenditure budget). but that’s also not at all disproportionate (except in their favor) to the amount of road damage done by those road users. Individual drivers are far from “primarily paying” for the roads in a significant way. And an individual, average driver (who crows “I pay for this!”) is paying even less than that since a significant chunk is paid by freight and other road users.

squareman
squareman
1 month ago
Reply to  squareman

Darn. Thanks for finally unblocking this one, but all the formatting for readability was lost. 🙁

squareman
squareman
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I had, based on the ODOT 2021 Annual Report done a bunch of “showing my work” that, no, they do not “primarily” pay for it. Unfortunately, it got flagged as spam because of the PDF link.

Funny enough, this source agreed exactly with my assessment. They say about 60% (I said 61.1%) of ODOT’s total revenue sources are made up of road user fees. That 60% includes freight and other professional sources paying into the system. And it’s appropriate for freight to pay a lot because of the damage it does (which means everyone pays for that in the cost of goods). The individual road user who crows about “I pay for this with my vehicle fees!” is only partially right – but they pay woefully a lot less than they think they do.

Will
Will
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

When pedestrians are required to have a license and insurance to walk on roads paid for by licensed and insured motorists, then I will have more sympathy for jaywalkers.

Jessica Richman
Jessica Richman
1 month ago
Reply to  Will

Ha! You win the internet!

Vince
Vince
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

” roads paid for by motorists “? Hardly. My property tax has a line item for highways even if I don’t own a car. And it’s much more than the cost of my driver’s license and car registration combined.

J_R
J_R
2 months ago
Reply to  Vince

What jurisdiction do you live in? I just looked at my Multnomah County property tax bill and do not see a line item for highways.

qqq
qqq
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

What difference would licensing and insurance make? There was no crash or injury, so insurance is irrelevant. And it was the (licensed) cop that didn’t know the law, not the person he ticketed, so licensing is irrelevant also.

Dante
Dante
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

So you’re telling me as a cyclist, you want me to have a license and insurance? As a driver, I already have a license and insurance. Last time I checked, getting your license in Oregon, you have to answer cycling questions on the exam. Tell me you never read the Oregon DMV pamphlet without telling me you didn’t. ‍♂️

Gregg Dal Ponte
Gregg Dal Ponte
2 months ago

Righteous indignation is fine, but has anyone attempted to amend the statute in question ? I am not especially familiar with this issue, but it sounds like something a Portland legislator could deal with in the upcoming legislative session. Is it so controversial that it would generate a lot of opposition? Maybe it has been unsuccessfully attempted before and I am not aware. Just seems to me speaking to a legislator is a first step to a solution.

idlebytes
idlebytes
2 months ago

Changing our traffic laws to be safer and more logical for cyclists is extremely time consuming and difficult unfortunately. Either because of limited time, laziness, or pettiness towards cyclists it takes years to get these changes made. In the case of the Idaho Stop over a decade.
 
Maybe it would be a good idea to make some sort of omnibus legislative bill that changes many of these bad statutes all at once. In addition to this one I would suggest:

  • Cyclists can treat a red light like a stop sign.
  • Cyclists may use the advanced walk signal. Probably moot if the above is legal but let’s not give certain judges more ambiguous laws to rule against cyclists like the bike lanes not existing in intersections.
  • Motorists must pass a cyclist at a safe distance at any speed not just 35 and above and define safe distance as a specific distance like three feet.
  • Motorists must yield to a cyclist in a cross-bike. I know some people will disagree with this one, but I think it’s better to remove ambiguity especially since a cyclist can just move over to the crosswalk at any of these intersections and get the same results with the current law.
  • Remove the language saying cyclists need to signal their turns but not if they need both hands on the handlebar. The law as written is vague and allows for similar situations like the one in this article.
  • Remove the audible warning requirement for passing pedestrians. It’s not always appropriate and can sometimes make passing more difficult e.g., there’s enough space to pass safely and ringing a bell causes the pedestrian to move into your path. Cyclists already must pass pedestrians safely.
  • Remove failure to use bicycle seat entirely. I don’t know why this is a safety issue.
soren
soren
2 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

Cyclists can treat a red light like a stop sign.

If the red light does not cycle in some subjective time period, the person cycling is allowed to safely proceed. If this is interpreted liberally it gets us part of the way but I agree we need an Idaho red light law.

Motorists must yield to a cyclist in a cross-bike. 

Vehmently agree. People cycling are just as vulnerable as people walking and need a crossbike law. Every corner should be a crossbike too.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

Lol – like a cop would *ever* ticket someone for not yielding at crosswalk.

I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of people who don’t at:

212 EB sliplane to 224, Sunnybrook sliplane to SB 205, Sunnybrook Sliplane to SB 205, SW 117th at the MAX tracks – in fact I’ve had *BEAVERTON POLICE* not stop for me when I was partly in the road at this spot.

When I stop on my bike the people trying to cross are usually fairly surprised. Once when the motorist going the other way didn’t stop for a lady I said “I got this” and flipped them off. She laughed.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

If this is interpreted liberally it gets us part of the way but I agree we need an Idaho red light law.

That’s the problem here right? Interpretation. Ya technically I can go through this light but a police officer can still issue me a ticket and make me have to waste my time fighting it. Also I wonder what judge would believe that I didn’t know the timed lights I go through every day are timed. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t pass the smell test.

It’s better to just to get rid of it. Most of the changes I suggest are about ambiguity. How do you determine safe distance if a cyclist falls so you don’t hit them as you’re approaching them? Who gets to decide? The cop usually.The people that wrote these laws were lacking some seriously important reasoning skills.

Alan Love
Alan Love
2 months ago

State Rep Rob Nosse has typically been friendly to amending stupid laws like this. If I recall correctly, he was involved in the the clarification of state law regarding the idiotic interpretation that bike lanes ceased to exist in intersections simply because there wasn’t any white paint (just like standard lanes, but somehow they still existed). Perhaps The Street Trust or BikeLoud could approach a seemingly reasonable elected official to remove the Mandatory Sidepath Law?

squareman
squareman
2 months ago
Reply to  Alan Love

Replying if only to up the visibility of this comment. Very good info, thank you.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith
2 months ago

I thought The Street Trust/BTA had a memorandum of understanding with the Police Bureau that they were only going to enforce this kind of infraction when it created an actual safety issue?

soren
soren
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris Smith

I believe that the memorandum of understanding came about in the Sam Adams era and has been defunct since the bikelash that his downfall contributed to. When bikeloudpdx was formed we asked about it and the training sessions that led to this de facto policy change were no longer being held.

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

You’ve created a new word – BIKELASH. I love it. We’re getting a little bikelash in this very conversation – you liberal godless nontaxpaying freeloading traffic-slowing bicycle riders.

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Yes “bikelash” is a great new word, but its been around for almost 10 years. 😉

Jake Notfromstatefarm
Jake Notfromstatefarm
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

Imagine BikeLoud cooperating with police, or anyone really

Melody V
Melody V
2 months ago

I hope that the woman who was cited contacts her congressperson (especially if it’s Blumenauer)!, as well as her Oregon Senator and Representative. This is a totally unjust law that forces bikers to put themselves in danger in order to avoid being ticketed, and the only way to change it is to make noise so that the state legislature takes action. This situation could inspire the legislators to take note and make the change, so I really hope she has the time to loop them in on her experience. And I also want to send along a hug to her because, even though we’re rough and tough bikers who face angry drivers everyday, it’s scary to get pulled over by a cop. That would have filled me with adrenaline… and the whole thing was just so pointless. Ugh.

9watts
9watts
2 months ago

motorists weren’t expecting me to be in their lane.”

I understand what the statute says, but is it really *their* lane?
Who paid for it? Taxpayers, of course. And not just gas tax payers, as people (here’s looking at you BTA/TST) have often erroneously argued.
So I don’t think it is as simple as or even correct to say it is their lane. But perhaps I am misunderstanding something?

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Many years ago when I was cycling in New England and found myself on a road with a disappearing shoulder, a police car pulled up behind me and yelled at me over his PA system, “Get out of the lane and get on the sidewalk!”

He was wrong, of course, but the idea that travel lanes are for cars and trucks only is pervasive and persistent. It needs to be struck down in driver ed and in police training and legislatures and everywhere else.

qqq
qqq
2 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Exactly. There are several reasons why it would be legal to be riding in that lane, so any driver not expecting to see a bike in it doesn’t know the law and isn’t driving observantly enough. And of course it’s even worse the police officer thinks of it as the drivers’ lane.

I’d love seeing an interview with the officer, explaining their decision to spend time issuing this ticket, and why they dismissed the legal exceptions to using the bike lane (obstructions, moving out to make a turn).

Barbara
Barbara
2 months ago

So way back in late 80 or early 90s a bicyclist was ticketed for same thing riding outside the bike lane and took it to court and appeals etc. At the time the discussion surrounded where it has been shown or proven that the bike lane was safe or not. In not then not required.

soren
soren
2 months ago
Reply to  Barbara

That appeal really #@$ed people who often ride in the motorvehicle-centric lane but the ruling may not say much about mandatory sidepath violations.

Ray Thomas in a BP piece:

In State of Oregon v. Potter (2002), the Oregon Court of Appeals reviewed a Critical Mass rider’s conviction for impeding traffic (ORS 811.130). That law provides “a person commits the offense of impeding traffic if the person drives a motor vehicle or a combination of motor vehicles in a manner that impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” At trial, the defendant argued that the statute only applied to motor vehicles. ORS 801.360 defines a motor vehicle as “a vehicle that is self-propelled or designed for self propulsion.” Clearly, a bicycle is not a motor vehicle. “Bicycle” is defined (via ORS 801.150) as a “vehicle” that is “propelled exclusively by human power.”

https://bikeportland.org/2013/12/02/get-legal-with-ray-thomas-bicycling-and-oregons-passing-laws-97747

FDUP
FDUP
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

You should read the rest of that judge’s decision in the Potter case, the judge went on to state that the public hearing declaring the bike lane safe to use was not required if the bike lane was designed by an traffic engineer.

You could really hurt yourself rolling your eyes too hard at that!

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  FDUP

Using that logic, every negligence lawsuit against an engineer or architect could be tossed out because the fact they did the work is proof that it was safe. Same with every negligence suit against a doctor or lawyer–the fact they did the work proves it was done right. Same with every decision by a judge–no need for appeals, because the fact that the decision was made by a judge proves it was correct.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 months ago

North Dakota has a similar law – I once was pulled over for the same arcane reason. I’m not sure about North Carolina, where I live now.

Seth Alford
Seth Alford
2 months ago

How platinum-ly.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Seth Alford

Turns out it was just highly polished zinc.

Brian Benson
Brian Benson
2 months ago

What a bizarre law. There are so often perfectly legit reasons for getting the heck out of a bike lane (Delivery trucks? Guilty!). I’m in Washington State and, of course, for all I know, our state could have something similar.

T d
T d
2 months ago

Can we get rid of that stupid bike lane already?

Tomas Paella
Tomas Paella
2 months ago
Reply to  T d

BikePortland 2006-2020: more bike lanes!

BikePortland 2020-?: tear out the bike lanes!

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Tomas Paella

If you’re going to take isolated comments from random people on the internet and paint them as the hive mind of the BikePortland community, I think there are going to be a lot of contradictory positions.

FDUP
FDUP
2 months ago

Repeal ORS 814.420!!!!

Graham
Graham
2 months ago

I’m glad the PPB has solved every other issue so they can take the time to do this.

Champs
Champs
2 months ago

When I lived downtown, 2nd Avenue had a middle lane where you didn’t need to worry about road debris, dooring, or left/right hooks. The signal timing, probably still in place, made it easy to keep up with traffic. Now there’s a poorly maintained protected lane, for whom exactly I’m not sure, because the bookends of “8-80” did not describe my neighbors, and how else are those groups of people getting there?

It is fair to call out PPB for having bigger fish to fry right now, and I really could go on about that, but some blame has to be laid at the feet of PBOT every time it builds a new facility without a plan to maintain it. Protected lanes and cycle tracks are only as robust as their upkeep. We need less fragile solutions, and if anything I think that they cost less financially and ecologically than concrete, paint, and signs. Let’s hope we finally get a transportation leader who’s looking at ends, not means, and the long term.

Serenity
Serenity
2 months ago

Outrageous! That bike lane is pretty much a death trap. Doesn’t it change position at least twice?

dw
dw
2 months ago

That video hits home. The same thing happened to me this morning while I was riding on the fancy new curb-protected parking lanes on Division. There was a sign that clearly says “turning vehicles stop for bikes” but 5-6 cars went anyway. Only difference is none of the cars stopped and I was inches away from getting right-hooked.

But PPB won’t ticket drivers when they misbehave. Hell, 3/4 of them probably drive 20+ miles from some far-flung exurb anyway so they suffer from the typical USA windshield mentality.

FDUP
FDUP
2 months ago
Reply to  dw

You may be the first person to use those bike lanes on outer Division, I never see anyone using them except the people parking their motor vehicles in it. Those lanes are just very expensive death traps for cyclists…

dw
dw
2 months ago
Reply to  FDUP

I see a few other people use them, but most folks just ride on the sidewalks. They aren’t bad for the most part. There’s a few poorly-designed intersections that I think hold back the redo from being really good.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  dw

A ‘few’ bad intersections essentially makes the whole project worthless, since the intersections are almost always the most hazardous locations prior to the bike infrastructure going in; in other words if they haven’t succeeded in making the intersections safer that renders the rest of the project essentially pointless.

Geoff Grummon-Beale
Geoff Grummon-Beale
2 months ago

This kind of ticket is particularly infuriating at a time when Portland motor vehicle drivers have been allowed to commit all kinds of dangerous acts with impunity. Speeding, red light running, illegal passing, reckless driving, street racing, and drifting all happen far more frequently and are orders of magnitude more unsafe than a bicyclist riding outside of a bike lane.

AndyK
AndyK
2 months ago

Everyone who rides downtown frequently knows that the rough ride in the 2nd Ave bike lane is a hazard by itself. I hope it gets dismissed!

JakeJ
JakeJ
2 months ago

We are all so tired of the biking agenda in Portland. The bike thing has gone way way too far, way too much infrastructure devoted to such a small percentage of the population, all for some noble climate change idea it has no impact on. Only stopping fossil fuels matters in that. We don’t want to live in a dense city all piled on top of each other like rats. Go read the “mouse utopia studies” for the general notion that density is very bad for social mammals.

mark
mark
2 months ago
Reply to  JakeJ

Not sure why you’re wasting your time on a Portland bike blog, if you’re so tired of it.

Chris I
Chris I
2 months ago
Reply to  JakeJ

The All Powerful Bike Lobby has noted your complaint.

FDUP
FDUP
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

LOL!

FDUP
FDUP
2 months ago
Reply to  JakeJ

Whoa, MV trolls on BP!

If I was an optimist I would say cyclists’ rights are trending, if I was a pessimist I would say motorists still don’t have a clue.

FWIW, I still think most of PBOT’s design decisions regarding bike infrastructure are pure crap.

Serenity
Serenity
2 months ago
Reply to  JakeJ

Why can’t I downvote this comment?

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  JakeJ

“We don’t want to live in a dense city all piled on top of each other like rats.”

Yeah, nobody wants to live there–it’s too crowded!

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
2 months ago

WTF!?!

“…Oregon has a law that requires bicycle users to use a bike lane whenever one is available. ORS 814.420 states, “a person commits the offense of failure to use a bicycle lane or path if the person operates a bicycle on any portion of a roadway that is not a bicycle lane or bicycle path when a bicycle lane or bicycle path is adjacent to or near the roadway.”

squareman
squareman
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Remy

“WTF” you didn’t know about his law and it’s the first time you’ve heard of it? Or, “WTF” do you think she deserves the ticket because it’s the law? I’m unclear. If it’s the latter, there are also exceptions which is exactly why she wasn’t in the lane for those same exceptions.

Katherine Johnson
Katherine Johnson
2 months ago

So, I’m confused. We’ve been told that the police are so understaffed that they can’t be bothered to investigate anything that isn’t serious assault or murder, and it’s basically open season for all drug dealers, burglars and car thieves, but somehow they have time to ticket a person for not riding in the bike lane? More evidence of their inability to manage their resources and have proper priorities.

squareman
squareman
2 months ago

It’s almost as if they’ve been lying about all that.

FDUP
FDUP
2 months ago

Which is why the PPB don’t deserve anything more in the way of funding or staffing until they are actually willing to perform the services they were hired to perform, i.e. protecting public safety regardless of political affiliation or mode of transportation. They are so petty and political, and the police union is an embarrassment to all legitimate worker’s unions; nothing will change until the PPB undergoes some serious reform and these issues are resolved, but Portland’s current leaders don’t seem to have any appetite for taking that project on.

Adam
Adam
2 months ago

Surprised no one has posted a link to this Casey Neistat video that went viral at the time… and sadly still applies… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzE-IMaegzQ

Glenn
Glenn
2 months ago

If this would have happened to me – I think I would have laughed and road off..see if the cop would have given chase..to make it at least a little interesting for me..

John
John
2 months ago

More evidence the cops are lying when they say they’re understaffed.

What would be fun is a few hours of an organized ride on a loop that follows the same route as the person in the story. I’m no organizer but I’d have fun joining.

Not only is the law in question nonsense, but it is absolutely allowed for you to leave the bike lane to turn no matter where you are.

J_R
J_R
2 months ago

Every day, I see motorists rolling through stop signs faster than I can run. Every day, I see motorists blow through stale red lights. Every day, I see motorists exceeding the speed limit by 15 mph. Only once in the last three years have I see a Portland police car conducting what appears to be a traffic stop. BS on this citation. This cop clearly hates cyclists.

Dan
Dan
1 month ago

This is good news and it needs to happen more. Portland didn’t destroy its roads so bicycle riders can ignore more laws.

RSKPDX
RSKPDX
1 month ago

Don’t the cops have better things to like look after the businesses downtown from getting broken into constantly?

Fahr Rad
Fahr Rad
1 month ago

All I know is that Portland bike lanes are debris strips, near Burnside, needle strips. I rarely ride in them. I ride on the outer white line. If you spend all this money on bike lanes and don’t clean them, then what is the point , beside pissing off drivers ? Bike don’t sport 225 45 17 tires. The bike lanes with posts on the outer edge… permanent debris strips ? I bet Portland has one bike lane sized pavement cleaner that was purchased from Bulgaria for $300000 and collects dust somewhere. THAT is a Portland story. Portland tries to do the right thing, but is undone by ubiquitous what-me-worry ineptitude. If I ever notice the flashing lights are for me and I haven’t done anything egregious, the ticket will be VERY hard to issue.

Erik R
Erik R
1 month ago

Can I take a moment and be devils advocate here since no one else will.
Do we even know how many of these type of tickets are actually issued? Maybe it’s extremely rare?
Would be helpful reporting to get the cops side of it . What if she recklessly was pulling out in from of cars or weaving in and out of traffic recklessly etc. What if he decided this is the smallest infraction he could cite her with. Doubtful she would have provided you with that info.
He was short and abrupt with her. Maybe he was smart to not lecture and get inti a back and forth with her?

I am just saying I have seen police ticketing cars parked in the bike lanes as well. Doubtful all cops inherently are against bike riders.

Maybe we riders don’t need to always be quick to blast cops.

blumdrew
blumdrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Erik R

You know the devil doesn’t really need an advocate. It’s probably pretty rare to get a ticket like this, but this woman still got one.

And you can speculate about the “dangerous things” she might have been doing, but what’s the point? She didn’t get a ticket for that, she got it for not riding in a bike lane (that she judged to be unsafe). Seems pretty dumb to speculate that the cop was trying to let her off easy, when the testimony points in the opposite direction.

I’m perfectly happy to “blast cops” when they blatantly abuse their power, thanks. Or for any other reason too. Maybe not all cops are inherently anti-cyclist, but it’s clear that many are and that no one has done anything about it.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I agree. In this tribalist era, hearing from differing perspectives only confuses the narrative. Let’s keep it simple, folks!

X
X
1 month ago

A person on a bike can selectively disregard ORS in downtown Portland for 25 years and get exactly one ticket. I would know.

It seems likely, and Officer Weber pretty much said it, that they targeted the bike rider because they did something that was legal up until a few weeks ago. The left lane on SW Alder is sketchy because MV operators are thinking about the freeway on ramp out of sight over the horizon and cross SW 2nd Ave. at 40 mph or more. I avoid that lane for that reason.

If we take Weber’s view as correct a person on a bike traveling on SW Alder would have to ride on the right, cross 2nd, make a right on 1st Ave., turn right on Morrison, and then right again on SW 2nd, then change lanes across to the left to line up for the infamous 2nd Ave. bike lane mess. At W Burnside we are supposed to post up in the green box at the SW corner of the intersection and proceed E when the light changes.

Nobody does that. The real world solution is travel E on another street entirely. So much for Alder St.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  X

So much for Alder St.

One by one, PBOT’s picking them off.

John
John
1 month ago
Reply to  Erik R

Your point of view has already been noted and problems discussed, but I want to add also, I’m not sure which is worse, cops rarely ticket for stuff like this or they always do. If they always did, maybe we could get some movement on repealing the law. Since they rarely do, the selective enforcement becomes another tool for targeted harassment and the rarity means it gets less attention.

In other words, I think it might be even worse that they rarely (but not never) enforce this nonsense law.

Sheilagh A Griffin
Sheilagh A Griffin
1 month ago

How can we as a community support this woman that got the ticket? Honestly, she should be billing the city for her time as this is outrageous! Shall we all show up at the hearing for the ticket? Shall we all call our lawmakers and tell them how PPD is wasting time harrassing cyclists (in this case a female cyclist)??? Can we work with the Street Trust to organize something that would make a public statement?

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 month ago

What if there is a car, or tent or debris in the bike lane? We get the ticket if we can’t magically ride through those? Or do we just have to sit there and wait (indefinitely) for someone to move the tent, car or clear leaves from the lane? We literally have cars killing a record number of people on our streets and have been told there is nothing the police can do about it because of staffing, but they seem to have time to ticket cyclists trying to avoid a road hazard. This is so ass backwards.

Jake Notfromstatefarm
Jake Notfromstatefarm
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Tents are good according to the Street Trust, especially if they’re blocking Safe Routes to Schools.

If there’s a car blocking the road, just let the air out of their tires and the owner will definitely stop driving.

Joshua
Joshua
1 month ago

I called PBOT earlier this year when they first extended that bike lane on 2nd and created the parking in front of the FedEx there after almost being hi several times by cars turning left onto Washington. As a result, they installed that sign and concrete diverter, which only makes things worse. That corner is treacherous.

Psyfalcon
Psyfalcon
1 month ago

Thats the downhill direction, right? I’m not 100% against that lane… but why aren’t all the uphills protected first.

Tori Pivot
Tori Pivot
1 month ago

Portland Police have quota to make. I once was arrested by an idiot donut officer Zachary Flippo and his daddy for dui because Flippo was anxious to complete his first arrest. He was so incompetent. Idiot Flippo asked me to follow the tip of his pen with his fat thumb on the tip. He complained to is uninformed papa that l would sober up before the tow truck arrived. This dumb waste of resources,Flippo, even lost my driver’s license. Papa reminded him to look in his patrol car. Flippo replied “thanks dad”. Charges were dismissed the next day. Flippo Jr currently makes 90 grand a year. He messed up my career with the arrest. But this poor excuse of an officer, Flippo, still scavenges the Portland streets with his pre-ejaculated poor judgements and fails Portlanders. Check out his recent failures. In 2019 this failur with a badge used his failed judgement to shoot munitions at protesters. Check out the 2019 grand jury investigation of good old boy Zachary Flippo, case 2404216.

MachPivot
MachPivot
1 month ago
Reply to  Tori Pivot

PPD like Flippo are notorious for waiting for you to mess up. He and daddy watched me walk and talk on cell phone. When l started car , l was ending call. Flippo and his daddy pulled me over not even 30 yards fom curb to bust me talking and driving. Their intention was to pretend l was drunk. PPD like trapping people. I was not drunk only guilty of living in Portland. I’ve since moved.

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago

“use a bike lane whenever one is available.” yup. Next.

Leah Witte
Leah Witte
1 month ago

This is dumb. Back around 2013 I was riding my bike up Columbia St. I was in my own lane. A tractor tráiler truck changed lanes into my lane and as they came, I moved to the left. It kept coming and I slowed way down, because I was stuck between the parked cars and the truck. He passed me and the trailer caught my bike handle, knocking me into a parked car. I fell and landed in the bike lane.

The trailer part of the truck was set to run over my legs, but I rolled over on top of my bike. The trailer rolled over my left thigh, buttock and kept going.

When the PPD showed up they were great, searching for the truck etc. They came back to tell me they didn’t find it and then the officer told me when I ride down town, I should avoid the bike lane or the left side of the lane. He told me to take the center lane and just own it.

After my leg healed, I took that advice to heart. I stopped riding in bike lanes that didn’t have clearance on both sides, and just rode the middle of my lane.

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
1 month ago

bringing back the “Sam Adams” era PPB bike law awareness session sounds like a great idea (to save time issuing bad tickets + gain goodwill) plus it is likely needed even more now as most PPB hired in the last 15 years likely can only afford to live in the exurbs and are not bikeway users. Plus due to competition to hiring cops nationally many of the new officers may be from communities (deep south / deep west) that have few if any cyclists or modern bikeways thus … this problem.

Chris
Chris
1 month ago

While I don’t agree with bicyclist in car lanes, at all (2500-7000 pound car versus some jerk off doing at least 10 below the speed limit). I had just read an article about the mushroom store in Portland that hasn’t even been remotely discreet about their presents. Cops should be shutting that down before ticket a cyclist.

mark
mark
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

So many jerk offs don’t understand that the speed limit is a maximum limit, not a minimum, and except for the freeway, there aren’t any “car lanes,” they’re vehicle lanes, and bikes are vehicles under Oregon law.

Pete
Pete
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

No the cops should be taking Psilocybin for potential therapeutical benefit and perhaps gain more empathy for the people they serve.

John
John
1 month ago

Follow the rules of the road and you will not have an issue in the future. You got caught. Pay the ticket and move on. I see vehicles break the rules all the time and not get caught the same as I see bicyclists break the laws as well. Must of the time neither of them get pulled over but it is good to hear that our officers are busy doing their jobs and not just driving around looking for something you deem woth while for them to do. Moral of the story is to follow the law and you will not be the one possibly being pulled over. FYI how often do you see vehicles using the bike lane just because the road has potholes or may not be as safe as the bike lane. I can assure you that there are way more bikes using the vehicle lane. Deal with out and drive your bike around the potholes etc.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  John

From the info in the article, it sounds like the bike rider may have had perfectly legal reasons for not being in the bike lane. That means the cop didn’t know the law. That means obeying the law doesn’t mean you won’t get pulled over. That’s one main reason people are unhappy with this. One reason people believe the cop may not have known the law is because so many people have seen examples of that.

You probably see “way more bikes using the vehicle lane” than cars in bike lanes because it’s commonly legal and necessary for the bikes to be there.

You probably see fewer cars moving into the bike lane to avoid potholes than vice versa because hitting a pothole won’t flip your car the way it will a bike. Also, the bike lanes are often full of potholes, gravel, grates, leaves, litter, parked cars, delivery vehicles, detour signs, construction materials, etc. while vehicle lanes are not. Plus an obstruction that takes up 10% of a vehicle lane may take up half of a bike lane, meaning you can’t maneuver around it nearly as easily without leaving the lane.

“Deal with it and drive your bike around the potholes, etc.” That sounds exactly like what the biker here may have done, biking around parked cars, etc. But they couldn’t get around them without leaving the bike lane because they are as wide as it. That means they would have done what you’re telling them to do, and the law says they can do. But they still got a ticket.

The idea that officers need to be “just driving around looking for something you deem worth while for them to do” if they’re not ticketing bike riders for riding outside the bike lane is laughable in 2022 Portland.

John Salter
John Salter
1 month ago

Bicycles are vehicles which must obey the same traffic laws as motor vehicles. Bike lanes and bike paths are an aberration and a hazard with blind corners and artificial intersections. Bicycles are entitled to one full lane. Drivers need to be fully aware of that. It is a courtesy by cyclists that we move over to allow passage by autos. On the other hand, cyclists need to obey stoplights and stop signs as well as other traffic laws. The bike lane law was obviously written to try to make people use the bike lanes that cost so much money to provide, as poorly as they were planned and are maintained.

Mary
Mary
1 month ago

Just another waste of money by PBOT. The bike lanes take away road space for cars and make it more dangerous for bikers having to ride in the bike lanes that are not maintained.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago

One totally different take on this–several of the people who support the ticketing seem to agree with the law’s idea that it’s beneficial to drivers if people biking stay in bike lanes when possible, because biking in vehicle lanes interferes with vehicle traffic.

That means they believe (whether they’re aware of it or not) that bike lanes are beneficial to drivers. But at least some of these people are the same ones who are unhappy that any gas tax or vehicle fee money goes to pay for bike lanes. In other words, the bike lanes that benefit drivers should be paid for by bike riders.

That doesn’t make sense.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago

Just look at the photo at the top of this article, the SW 2nd bike lane is in horrific condition, and PBOT has never dealt with the poor drainage or pavement conditions; that alone is justification for not using this bike lane under ORS 814.420, and that’s what I would argue before a judge. Bring some photographic evidence with you when you go to court.