Family Biking: A cop admonished me for taking the lane

A family taking the lane around a parked car. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

What is the purpose of laws governing cyclists? Is it to promote safe streets? Or is it to protect the “flow of traffic”? Perhaps it’s both, but sometimes it feels like the scale tips far in favor of faster driving.

After BikePortland publicized plans by the Safe Lane Coalition to repeal the Oregon law (ORS 814.420) which requires cyclists to use the bike lane, I took note of a reader comment that said we should also get rid of ORS 814.430, which requires cyclists to ride as far to the right side of the street as “practicable.” That’s a law I often think about while riding, and sometimes I choose to defy. 

It was this defiance that led me to my first-ever, cycle-related run-in with a cop. And I’m still trying to figure out if I was in the wrong. Part of me wants to call the police station to see if I could have a longer conversation with the admonishing officer, preferably in a context where I’m not worried that my commentary will get me a ticket. 

Here’s what happen…

The interaction came directly after I made a decision to “take the lane,” that is, to intentionally occupy the center of lane used by drivers, rather than riding “as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway” as required by ORS 814.430. The decision was intentional: we had been riding on a roadway with on-street parking and moving to the right curb whenever there was a long-ish stretch without parked cars. That meant we were constantly coming upon parked cars, and each parked car meant we needed to re-enter the adjacent traffic lane. (The parked cars were spread out enough to make it seem reasonable for us to ride next to the curb, but they were frequent enough to give the feeling of weaving in-and-out of the traffic lane.)

On multiple occasions we moved to the right, and then had to come to a full stop and wait behind a parked car for a chance to safely re-enter the flow of traffic. I worried my son might forget to double-check over his shoulder, that he might re-enter the traffic lane to go around a parked car, only to get hit by a car passing him from behind.

The message was clear: I was the problem. I was in the way. I didn’t have a right to slow people down or get in their way.

For this reason, I had switched our riding order to put my 9 year-old son in front of me. In an urban area, I usually have him ride behind me, since I prefer to judge dangers at intersections and two-way stop signs. On this particular route, I began to think the bigger danger was cars passing us from behind, especially when we approached a parked car and wanted to re-enter the travel lane. However, after moving in front of me, my son was beating me up a hill and we were nearing a busy intersection, so I called him back to ride beside me.

We had taken the center of the lane to pass a parked car and we could have gotten back over to the right, again, for a block or two, until we reached yet another parked car (which I could see). I decided I was tired of the “weave” maneuver. It felt like we were taking on an increased danger to ride to the right and then have to continuously re-enter the flow of traffic, and spend half our ride looking behind us. Since I could already see another parked car about 1.5 blocks ahead, I decided we would just stay in the lane.

At that point, a seemingly angry driver sped past us, using the empty oncoming traffic lane to give us a wide berth. I sighed at the speed of the car, but I was glad they didn’t try to close-pass us, which sometimes happens when I’m riding farther to the right. In this case, since I was occupying the full car lane, the passing car had to go fully around by using the oncoming lane, which I think makes for a safer pass. Since there was no oncoming traffic in sight for blocks, I knew I wasn’t holding up traffic – cars could pass me using the empty oncoming lane, just as if I were a slow-moving tractor. 

But then a police car pulled up from behind and commanded me to “get to the right.” What timing! After all the calculations I had just made, the considerations about rider order, risk mitigation, and taking the lane, I was being ordered back to the right. I felt exasperated and a little surprised. After all, we had just passed a parked car.

So I questioned the officer, “We’re allowed to pass a parked car, aren’t we?” But I looked over my shoulder and knew that we could have gotten back over to the right, and, as I had intentionally decided, we had not done so. My question did not go over well, and I got a much sterner look and the reiteration, “you need to get to the right. We just don’t want to see you get hurt.” And then, the kicker: “that car sped up to pass you–we don’t want to see you get hurt.”

If you don’t want to see me get hurt, protect me! 

That’s right! The driver sped up to race past us, directly in front of a police vehicle! And what did the police do? They told me to get to the right, and implied that I caused the driver to speed up, and that by taking the center of the lane I was endangering myself and my children. In other words, the speeding driver and the danger it posed was really my fault, because I wasn’t riding far enough to the right. It just didn’t make sense to me.

Throughout the interaction, I was intimidated by the police officer, and genuinely worried about getting a ticket. Maybe I was breaking the law about riding to the right?* I asked a frustrated question and had a frustrated tone (while pedaling five kids uphill with an e-bike battery that was about to run out of charge), and the cop’s returned tone gave me the impression he was really saying, “Do you want me to give you a ticket for this? Or are you going to get to the right?” So I shut up, got to the right, had the cop pass me, and then I had to immediately re-enter the center of the lane to go around another parked car (the one I had seen ahead), while worrying the cop would think I was somehow being flippant to get right back in the center of the lane.

What I wish I had said to the officer is, “Why didn’t you go after the speeding car?”

If you don’t want to see me get hurt, protect me! 

But between me riding not-to-the-right, and a speeding, aggressively passing car, the police officers decided to admonish me. The message was clear: I was the problem. I was in the way. My being slow was making people mad and prompting them to drive unsafely. I didn’t have a right to slow people down or get in their way. I needed to stay to the right, stay in my place, stay out of the way.

Maybe that’s part of what Safe Lane Coalition is fighting for. To not just change the law, but that attitude the law encourages — an attitude that makes some cops treat cyclists like second-class road users, when instead, they should be protected, encouraged, and even prioritized. When we create laws and design streets; safe streets and protection of the most vulnerable should take precedent. It’s unfortunate that it often doesn’t work out that way.


*Editor’s note: Like many situations where bike-related laws are unclear, the result is that police yield a tremendous amount of power and discretion in how they are enforced. And since the vast majority of officers don’t understand or respect bicycling, that discretion usually favors drivers. In this case, ORS 814.430 includes a clear exception:

(2) A person is not in violation of the offense if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:

(c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles … or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe…

Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)

Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)

Shannon is a 36-year-old mom of  five who lives in downtown Hillsboro. Her column appears weekly. Contact her via shannon4bikeportland@gmail.com

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socially engineered
socially engineered
4 months ago

But sure, more cops will totally make the streets safer for people on bikes lol

Arturo P
Arturo P
4 months ago

Well if we hadn’t stopped police traffic enforcement in Portland then yes the streets would be safer for everyone including people on bikes.

socially engineered
socially engineered
4 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

Who do you mean by “we”?

Chris I
Chris I
4 months ago

Cyclists generally don’t get injured or killed because asshole cops hassle them to move more to the right. We get injured or killed because motorists are speeding, driving drunk, and driving without licenses. We can have discussions about the priorities of the asshole cops we do have, but taking one piece of anecdotal evidence and then making blanket conclusions about policing doesn’t seem prduent.

The last 3 years of data show a massive uptick in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in Portland. We can’t say for sure if this is related to the complete elimination of traffic enforcement, but it definitely could be?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  Chris I

The last 3 years of data show a massive uptick in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in Portland

This is not true whatsoever. Please be careful to not assume that bike deaths have gone up. I think a lot of people make that mistake because BIKEportland has such a loud voice in the conversation around traffic deaths. But the fact is bike deaths in Portland have remained extremely rare and low relative to other modes.

Biking Fatalities in Portland
2018 – 2
2019 – 2
2020 – 5
2021 – 0
2022 – 4

Chris I
Chris I
4 months ago

an average of 2 every year to 5 in 2020 and 4 in 2022 seems like a substantial increase, with 2021 being a historic outlier at zero.

But we all know that cycling counts have absolutely cratered in this city in recent years, so we would expect the deaths to decrease in recent years, no?

Pedestrian deaths are a far better measure, and those have spiked in the past 3 years:

https://www.portland.gov/transportation/news/2023/3/13/pbot-urges-public-slow-down-speed-impairment-keep-pedestrian-deaths

David Nyce Delp
David Nyce Delp
4 months ago

Some states require bicycles to adhere to the same laws as a vehicle. Keep in mind not all Police have good judgement and common sense. It’s called life. Welcome to the real world.

SD
SD
4 months ago

Wow, I completely agree that weaving in and out of the road to go around cars is very dangerous and the safest thing a person riding a bike can do is to maintain a straight, predictable line. It sounds like you were on a residential road. In this case, in-particular you and your child should have the priority, and the “flow of traffic” is much less important.

This comes up often for me on a couple of my routes, all of them have parallel arterials where drivers can drive if they do not want to navigate around bicycles. It has made me think about places I have traveled where roads are used by farmers or shepherds. “If you ride on the donkey roads, you ride with the donkeys.”

I have to add that riding on streets like NE 7th have felt so much safer this summer because of the increased number of bike riders and even the bit of paint that they have put down indicating that this road is not an arterial. For many reasons, but especially bike safety, I hope that this level of bike traffic is sustained into the fall and winter.

It is frustrating when cops do not know the laws they are supposed to enforce and throw tantrums over their personal petty grievances. This officer is an embarrassment to that one good cop that understands laws pertaining to bikes that I heard about once.

dw
dw
4 months ago
Reply to  SD

Wow, I completely agree that weaving in and out of the road to go around cars is very dangerous and the safest thing a person riding a bike can do is to maintain a straight, predictable line.

I want to shout this from the rooftops! I have a theory that people who ride like this are usually drivers and bike infrequently, and only for recreation. In their minds they are being “one of the good cyclists” who gets out of the way of the very important people who are driving to do very important things.

E
E
3 months ago
Reply to  dw

Right? I’ll get out of the way toward the right if we’re just starting (either immediately before or after a light where there aren’t parked cars) but otherwise cars can go around me by entering the next lane if they so choose. But otherwise each entry to the lane is a recipe for a surprised driver and getting buzzed. I have a class 3 ebike and usually am going the speed limit on all roads I’m riding on or very close to it, so I’m hardly an impediment and making them enter the next lane usually forces them to give adequate distance when passing anyway.

qqq
qqq
3 months ago
Reply to  E

Your comment reminds me how many people (including possible the cop in this article) view having to move into the oncoming lane to pass as something that should never happen.

The reality is that that’s exactly how streets SHOULD work. But think of how people describe it: “The bike was going so slow they forced me into oncoming traffic”, etc. Well, that’s life. You may even have to drive slow for a while to get a chance to pass. The idea of street design was never to eliminate the need to move into the oncoming lane to pass occasionally.

People will even move into the oncoming lane much more willingly to pass a delivery truck illegally stopped in the lane than for a bike rider legally riding in it. They accept that the delivery driver is just doing what they need to do to make their delivery.

The related thing is that drivers have to slow down or stop for other vehicles that aren’t just going slow, but that are totally stopping traffic, without viewing those vehicles as “obstructing traffic flow”. On a typical two-lane street, a car will stop in the lane to turn left, sometimes holding up traffic behind them for some time. People behind them may get frustrated, but they realize the turner is completely legal, simply doing something necessary to get where they’re going. But they won’t have that attitude towards people biking in the lane.

9watts
9watts
3 months ago
Reply to  qqq

My nomination for Comment of The Week.
And deliciously reminiscent of the kind of analysis we used to get from El Biciclero here regularly.

EK
EK
3 months ago
Reply to  dw

dw, as someone who has cycled in an urban setting for over 20 years, I am so frustrated by the tone of this comment. The article lays out all of the nuance, frustration and ambiguity cyclists deal with in urban riding. Even the comment you’ve replied to maintains a measured, thoughtful stance. Your “I-have-a-theory” pious judgement does not help cycling advocacy. It’s ironic that you presume a “good cyclist” mentality of some cyclists, while casting a blanket assessment of your own superiority. Depending on the situation, staying in the lane may be appropriate. OR, moving in and out of the lane may be better. It depends on traffic density, spacing of parked cars, and the manner in which the cyclist maneuvers. If you have a helmet mirror and parked cars are spaced far apart, a careful ”weave” might be the safer option to prevent traffic from building up behind you. And sure, in other scenarios, taking the lane is best. It’s not that you’re completely wrong. But you’re definitely choosing not to be an ally to the cycling community at large. And in that respect, I believe you fail to promote a culture of shared use on our roads. One last thing: I agree with you that motorists can be entitled. And it bothers me. But I still fear them. Whether we like it or not, they’re the ones with the death machines.

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
4 months ago

I’m just going to quote here from Page 12 of the Oregon Bicycling Manual.

Ride far enough away from parked cars that you don’t risk being hit by an opening car door. Ride in a straight line and don’t weave in and out of parked cars – you may disappear from motorists’ sight and get squeezed when you need to merge back into traffic. In general, remember that people driving cars cannot know when you might weave in or out. When you ride in a straight line, you are more predictable and motorists can drive around you safely.

David Michael
David Michael
4 months ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

So their recommendations do not follow the law on the books. Then if you get hit which is your or the drivers insurance company going to base their investigation on? The manual or the law? Pretty sure the fault will be assigned based upon the law. Do what you want but if you feel like not following the law know where the fault may be placed by the collision investigator and the insurance company.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  David Michael

The Manual is published by the state and summarizes state law. So yes, it follows the laws on the books. If you read the thread, you will find that Karl Dickman linked to it below, or you can just google it yourself.

Ralph sanchez
Ralph sanchez
2 months ago
Reply to  David Michael

False. The word of the law is practicable. This tells riders whats practicable (holding a line away from a curb and parked cars) vs possible (dodging left and right to stick near the last inches of available road surface). No state or township with on street parking considers those parking spaces part of the lane, making them illegal to drive any vehicle through, including a bicycle.

David Nyce Delp
David Nyce Delp
4 months ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

Amen brother Ben!

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
4 months ago

Diagram from Page 12 of the Oregon Bicycling Manual.

Screenshot from 2023-08-03 13-13-03.png
Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)
Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)
4 months ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

Wow, thank you for sharing this info and graphic. To be fair, I was riding fully in the center of the travel lane, where the yellow car is pictured…My cargo bike is pretty big, and to be honest, I don’t feel safe with cars passing as closely as this image shows…it would seem the cars in the image aren’t giving enough space, in the case of a cyclist falling over. I admit to moving to the center of the lane to indicate that I can’t be safely passed in a shared lane…. but I didn’t know that I am not supposed to move to the right behind parked cars. I thought that was what the cop was indicating I should do. Maybe he just meant for me to get over a little bit…? But I definitely thought he was indicating for me to get all the way into the “parking lane.”

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
4 months ago

I would encourage everyone to read the whole thing, but here’s what it says about taking the lane (page 15 on):

In most traffic and road conditions, the rules of the road require you to ride on the right side of the road. In some conditions it is best to ride closer to the center and “take the lane.”

When there is no bicycle lane, it is generally best to ride on the right side of the road, but this doesn’t mean that you have to be right up against the curb or edge of the road. Riding too close to the curb or edge of the road can be dangerous if you hit the curb or hit the roadway edge and lose your balance, causing you to fall.

If there is no bicycle lane or shoulder and the vehicle travel lane is narrow, you should ride closer to the center of the traffic lane. Many times this means riding in the lane about where a passenger in a car would be sitting (slightly to the right of center). This will discourage people driving from passing you when there isn’t room. If you’re traveling at the same speed as traffic, positioning yourself closer to the center of a narrow lane will keep you out of people’s blind spots and reduce conflicts with right-turning traffic.

(diagram of bike taking the lane)

Caption: Occupy more of the travel lane if it is narrow or if traffic is moving slowly.

https://www.oregon.gov/odot/programs/tdd%20documents/oregon-bicyclist-manual.pdf

Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)
Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)
4 months ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

This is now on my reading list, together with my son. Thank you so much for sharing. I feel sheepish that I haven’t read this yet. I really appreciate you quoting it and teaching us. Thank you, genuinely.

Michael
Michael
4 months ago

The graphic there certainly squeezes things to make them too close for comfort. The law is a bit ambiguous, but I think there’s enough room to argue that when a lane is too narrow to safely accommodate a cyclist and a motorist side by side the cyclist has the legal right to assert themselves in the center of the lane. Though I’ll point out that the requirement to leave enough room for a cyclist to fall over only applies at speeds greater than 35 mph (ORS 811.065).

Edit: For what it’s worth, here’s the relevant language from ORS 814.430 Improper Use of Lanes:

(1) A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person does not ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.

(2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:

(c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side. Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 (Failure of slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle) or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.

Paul Price
Paul Price
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael

What ever happened to, I’ve got your back.
Parents should always watch from behind. Being ahead doesn’t help as you are apt to be going too fast , instead of the kids dictating the speed and also being able to monitor their behavior and correct where necessary.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

Actually, that diagram is terrible. You should never ride so close to the parked cars. Proper position in that case is probably in the center of the traffic line, or perhaps a little right of that, depending on the rest of the street geometry.

Mark
Mark
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The image also the yellow car is passing too close to cyclist. They are not giving 3 feet. You are entitled to three feet to your right to avoid being doored and drivers must give you 3 feet when passing. You should also be able to take the lane when required for safety. You are the one who need to be kept safe it should be your judgment that deems when it is necessary to do so. Not a driver or a cop you are the one that is most at risk you can be the one to make the judgment about your safety.

E
E
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Yeah, 1/3 into the lane is probably correct, roughly where the edge of the car is. Or at least that’s what I would do. Cars usually would then pass by going half into the lane. The only way that would feel even remotely safe is if traffic is stopped and you’re “cutting the lane” and willing to risk a car not suddenly deciding to take the parking spot and just walk. If there’s a painted bike “lane” on such a street, I ride on the line since that’s roughly the distance of a car door and forces the cars to the left of the lane in case I need to veer into it to avoid such a door.

Ken Laszlo
4 months ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

Thanks for sharing this, but man does this seem like a good way to get doored lol.

John
John
4 months ago

It’s so frustrating that you and others have to go through this crap. What you did makes perfect sense. And if they don’t like cyclists taking the lane, there should be a bike lane there. Not to say even that should mean you’re required to use it if it is unsafe. This just hits home because I have a young one who will in not too many years be riding around with me too and I’ll have to make the same kinds of judgments.

I read the “we just don’t want to see you get hurt” less as genuine concern, but more like “it would be a shame if something were to happen to you”. It’s straight up threatening, because what would happen in the case of a crash is they blame the cyclist.

This is also another prime example of how much time the police seemingly have to harass certain people and turn a blind eye to other more important issues. What are the odds, how rare can this kind of interaction be if one of the handful of writers for BikePortland happens to get this kind of treatment?

Nick
Nick
4 months ago
Reply to  John

Probably some sexism/judgment of parenting style on the part of the cop too. I regularly take the lane for safety and have never had an experience like this.

idlebytes
idlebytes
4 months ago
Reply to  John

This is also another prime example of how much time the police seemingly have to harass certain people and turn a blind eye to other more important issues.

Seriously they have time for this but not to look for a crazy lady walking around my neighborhood with an 8″ knife that threatened me after I confronted her about stealing something from my house. But heavens forbid you legally take the lane on your bike or leave the bike lane to make a turn. It’s maddening and more evidence that they aren’t up to the job of keeping our streets safe.

Arturo P
Arturo P
4 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

A lot of our good cops have retired or moved to the suburbs due to the lack of support from citizens and leaders (like Hardesty). Remember the awesome Office Dave Sanders who started the Bike Theft Task Force. He transferred to Beaverton PD and the Task Force is now mothballed.

socially engineered
socially engineered
4 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

Remind me – when exactly was Hardesty in charge of PPB?

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
4 months ago

It’s silly of me to post so many comments about this, but here goes. I cited chapter and verse of the Bicycling Manual because ODOT printed the same advice when I was studying for the driving test 20 years ago. ODOT has been pushing the line that weaving in and out of parked cars is dangerous and inadvisable for a long time at this point.

Jimbo
Jimbo
4 months ago

This article is healing for me. Thank you.

Vision Zero is basically this: cars shouldn’t go faster than 25 MPH in an urban environment unless the roadway is separated. Any road that has intersections and driveways cannot go over 25 MPH. Anything other than this creates more negative externalities and crash rates that are inexcusable. No one’s life is worth people going 30+ MPH in a complex urban environment. This applies to pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers – any preventable death is unacceptable.

jakeco969
jakeco969
4 months ago
Reply to  Jimbo

Sometimes the old ways are indeed the best ways……

Speed limits – The main culprit behind accidents in the early part of the 20th century was speeding. For the first time, people could go quickly (as they did in trains) while controlling their own vehicle (as on a horse and buggy). In 1901, Connecticut became the first state to pass a law regulating cars, setting their speed limit at 12 mph in cities and 15 mph on rural roads. However, as late as 1930, a dozen states still didn’t have an established speed limit.

https://www.edgarsnyder.com/blog/2015/07/14-driving-100-years-ago.html

Voline
Voline
4 months ago

“The message was clear: I was the problem. I was in the way. I didn’t have a right to slow people down or get in their way”

I think most Portland police share the essentially suburban attitude that the streets are for cars and other uses are secondary, illegitimate, or a nuisance, and bikes are toys for children. This isn’t surprising becase the vast majority of Portland police live in the suburbs.

The latest figures I’ve seen are from 2021 when the Portland Mercury’s Alex Zielinski (now with OPB) requested the data from the Portland Police Bureau.* It showed that 18% of PPB sworn officers live in zip codes that are all or partially in the City of Portland. More live across the Columbia in Clark County (19.9%. Far more live in Clackamas County (29.8%)

They don’t live in a city. They don’t don’t share the outlooks or values of people who do about transportation, race, sexual preference, … many things. They are basically an occupation force from suburbia.

*Link to the article saved by archive.org because the Mercury no longer displays the graphics that accompanied it originally.

jakeco969
jakeco969
4 months ago
Reply to  Voline

I don’t disagree with your viewpoint of the police interaction in the article and this is more of a rant against the high prices that gentrified me out of the city, but it’s hard for anyone to afford to live in Portland. Perhaps the city should consider budgeting for housing for police officers so at least they could be mandated to live in the city they work in.

https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Entry-Level-Police-Officer-Salary-in-Portland,OR

How much does an Entry Level Police Officer make in Portland, Oregon?

As of Jul 27, 2023, the average annual pay for an Entry Level Police Officer in Portland is $53,124 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $25.54 an hour. This is the equivalent of $1,021/week or $4,427/month.

https://www.kgw.com/article/money/minimum-income-to-buy-home-oregon-2022/283-d93c021b-a54c-414a-b611-6ede891d7700

More specifically, to afford a home in the 97210 ZIP code in Northwest Portland, which includes Forest Park, you would need an annual income of $212,041, based on median home values of $868,928.

Or on the other end of the affordability spectrum, try 97233 in Southeast Portland, where an annual income of $107,931 affords you entry to a neighborhood with a median home value of $413,236.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
4 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Voline:

the essentially suburban attitude

Jake:

…the high prices that gentrified me out of the city, but it’s hard for anyone to afford to live in Portland

The urbanist disdain towards suburbs is incredibly counterproductive (and implicitly classist).

Voline
Voline
4 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

There once were “streetcar suburbs” in the US. Those have all been subsumed into the city. Since the 1930s suburbs have been built for automobile commuters and the convenience of the motorists. Policy choices have pushed people toward living in the suburbs, but people also have choose it.

It is not “implicitly classist” to say that people in the suburbs have different outlooks to those in the city, especially about the automobile.

Do you have anything to support your assertion that “disdain towards the suburbs is incredible counterproductive”? Or is presenting evidence and a line of reasoning classist, too?

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
4 months ago
Reply to  Voline

 than Multnomah County.

Outer East PDX has a suburban land-use pattern as does Gresham and North Portland. These areas are also areas where working plass people move when they can’t afford to live in twee inner-PDX?

Are you now going to quote median household income from Rockwood or Centennial?

blumdrew
4 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

North Portland is far more “streetcar suburb” oriented than “car suburb” oriented. St Johns was served by a dedicated streetcar service until the 40s, and so were Kenton and Woodlawn, and the entire region has a more or less normal street grid*

* a lot of the weirdness in St Johns comes from the original grid facing the river mixing with a grid roughly parallel to Fessenden and Lombard (where the streetcar service ran).

Voline
Voline
4 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

According to your argument, the reason that working class people move areas with suburban land-use patterns is that they are forced to by gentrification — not because they prefer them. How does that make criticizing suburban land-use patterns classist? By your logic, if you criticize conditions in prison you’re anti-prisoner.

You are bad at this and your Mom is twee.

jakeco969
jakeco969
4 months ago
Reply to  Voline

What an odd comparison comparing prison to the suburbs.

Personal insults are truly the refuge of those without imagination or much intelligence and kind of take away from any argument that you’re trying to make.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
3 months ago
Reply to  Voline

If you had limited yourself to criticism of material conditions (e.g. the ecocidal built environment) in suburbia without making generalizations about people who live there I would not have commented. Doubling down on classism by equating the homes of people who were displaced from inner PDX to prisons is just gross.

Serenity
Serenity
4 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Hitting a little close to home?

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
4 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

I am a renter who has lived in close-in SE PDX for 23 years and have seen many of my neighbors/friends displaced. And as my apartment building is due to be sold for the second time in 2 years I will also very likely be displaced in a few months. (The new owner wants to rehab our apartment.)

I loathe landlords, real-estate speculators, and their YIMBY/urbanist defenders.

Will
Will
4 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Portland has lower median household incomes than most of the suburbs:
CITY MEDIAN INCOME
___________________________
Rivergrove $144,583
Happy Valley $131,980
West Linn $124,098
Lake Oswego $120,585
Camas $115,993
Maywood Park $109,265
Sherwood $104,651
Tualatin $97,931
Ridgefield $95,344
Durham $94,524
Tigard $93,532
Hillsboro $91,540
Johnson City $91,540
Washougal $91,100
Oregon City $85,193
Troutdale $85,131
Gladstone $83,214
Beaverton $82,380
Battle Ground $82,096
PPB Entry Level $79,456
Wilsonville $78,508
Portland $78,476
Orchards $74,723
Forest Grove $73,499
Milwaukie $73,351
Cornelius $72,917
Fairview $65,604
Vancouver $63,617
Gresham $61,826
Wood Village $57,565
King City $55,507

So you’re right. It is a classist assumption – the wealthy class out in the suburbs…

share the essentially suburban attitude that the streets are for cars and other uses are secondary, illegitimate, or a nuisance, and bikes are toys for children.

jakeco969
jakeco969
4 months ago
Reply to  Will

Your math is off, that $79456 is before the roughly 30% in taxes is removed. An entry level officer’s take home pay is roughly $55000. I hear King City is nice.

Will
Will
4 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

There’s no math to be off about. That’s the posted salary from the PPB website.

Ryan
Ryan
4 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

So, are you saying all of the other median incomes listed are adjusted for taxes?

jakeco969
jakeco969
4 months ago
Reply to  Ryan

I don’t know about the others, I did my research on the ppb salary. Feel free though to check the rest.

Will
Will
4 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

You also posted a news story about the *gross* income needed to *buy* a home. Median rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in Portland is $1,492. Using the rule of thumb that a person should spend not more than 25% of their gross wage on housing, an entry level PPB officer can spend up to $1,645 in rent. So the entry level salary is definitely enough to *live* in Portland and rent (like half of us do). But it’s not enough to *buy* a home on it’s own in the areas you highlighted.

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
4 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Will’s figures are all pre-tax as well. He’s comparing apples to apples. The numbers come from median household income figures from the U.S. census, specifically the 2017-2021 ACS. Key quote (page 86 of the linked pdf):

Wage or salary income: Wage or salary income includes total money earnings received for work performed as an employee during the past 12 months. It includes wages, salary, Armed Forces pay, commissions, tips, piece-rate payments, and cash bonuses earned before deductions were made for taxes, bonds, pensions, union dues, etc.

(emphasis added)
https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/tech_docs/subject_definitions/2021_ACSSubjectDefinitions.pdf

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
4 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Will is actually understating his case by comparing a single person’s salary to household income. Per capita income in Portland in the same 2017-2021 data set is just $47,289. Per capita includes kids too young to work, so it’s not apples-to-apples with a salary either. But the two together put a floor and a ceiling on the median individual income in Portland. Less than $78,476, more than $47,289.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
4 months ago
Reply to  Will

Please attend the next tenants education workshop in Gresham and explain to those households how they are the “wealthy class”, Will.

Developers and YIMBYs only pretend to care about low-income renters.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

If I were a cop, I would absolutely not want to live in the city that I policed. Can you imagine walking into a grocery store with your kids and encountering the guy you arrested the week previous for hitting his wife and who now imagines it is your fault she left him?

No thank you.

jakeco969
jakeco969
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

It’s a bit of an indictment of the modern urban legal system that it’s naturally assumed that even someone committing the horrible crime of domestic assault will be out on the streets right away.

J_Wink
J_Wink
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I have known a few law enforcement folks and from what I gather it’s pretty standard to not live in the area you work. It’s an intentional choice, probably for this very reason, or ones like it.

Michael
Michael
4 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

That Zip Recruiter data is just simply not accurate. The starting pay for a new sworn officer is $79,456/year, plus a $5,000 hiring bonus, plus overtime at time and a half, plus benefits. I’m not privy to the pay scales for more experienced officers, but PPB advertises its lateral hiring pay range as $92,144 to $113,131 per year, depending on experience. There are also various incentive and premium pay rates. Work the night shift? Add 4% of your base pay. Have a bachelor’s degree? There’s another 2%. It’s just not at all accurate to go around saying that Portland cops are going around trying to live off of $53k a year.

jakeco969
jakeco969
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael

I guess you live in that fabled land that doesn’t pay taxes. As I mentioned to another poster, the $55000 is after the normal 30% in taxes. So an entry level cop IS trying to live off of $55000 a year. And you might want to check if that $5000 bonus is paid in one lump sum, over years and do they tax the bonus once or tax each payment of the bonus? Government hiring bonuses only look good for the first time, trust me on this.

PacificSource
PacificSource
4 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

according to PPB website: Entry Wage $79,456 + $5,000 Bonus.
I make like 48k a year (pre taxed) and live very comfortably in Portland as a solo person newish home owner with zero help from mom and dad. I call major BS on your comment about cops not being able to live in PDX. they live in ClackCo because it is more red out there, they can have their big ugly houses with enough parking for their big ugly trucks. I was raised in Clackamas county & my family still lives out there, you couldn’t pay me enough money to live out there again

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
4 months ago
Reply to  PacificSource

a newish homeowner

At $48,000 a year pre-tax (~30-33K post-tax), how long did it take you to save a 20% down payment?

The median 1-plex home in PDX sells for ~$600,000.

they can have their big ugly houses with enough parking for their big ugly trucks

I live in a tiny apartment in Buckman and my block is littered with massive pick-up trucks and criminally-large detached 1-plexes (e.g. 3000+ square feet).

Methinks the Portland homeowner doth protest too much.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  pierre delecto

Hi Pierre,

They don’t require 20% down. I think you can get a 30 yr mortgage for less than 10% down.

Will
Will
4 months ago

The minimum required down payment for an FHA loan is 3.5%

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
4 months ago
Reply to  Will

Sure… and a deeply subsidized private loan program (FHA-insured) that generally targets lower-middle-income buyers would put that comment in a different context (which is why I commented).

As a renter, I’m vehmently opposed to subsidies that target people on the cusp of ownership. We should be focused on helping low-income renters find stable housing, not helping people who can afford rent profit from the real-estate investment gravy train (e.g. home ownership). I’m also sure that developers, whose bread is buttered by real-estate speculation, would disagree that housing stability should be the priority.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
4 months ago

The conforming loan market has tightened substantially in the past 3-4 years. Only people with good credit and higher income (lower DTI) qualify for loans without putting down 20%. Now if pacificsource has a non-conforming subsidized loan — that is an entirely different thing.

Jeff Walenta
Jeff Walenta
4 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

I’m poor as shit and if I didn’t live close in to the city with good access to transit and the bike network I wouldn’t be able to afford to live my life. I don’t get how some how living in a place where you absolutely have to own a car is the cheap option and is always trotted out in defense of cars as some universal truth when it comes to class divide.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Walenta

 I don’t get how…

I’m going to make a huge assumption that you don’t live with your family of 4-6 and/or don’t have an extended family that lives with you (as is the case for many BIPOC and immigrant households).

That’s how.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Voline

Shannon lives in Hillsboro.

Voline
Voline
4 months ago

She says that she lives in “downtown Hillsboro”. The center of older small towns can be very walkable. Fifteen minute neighborhoods, even. Bowling Green, Ohio for instance. They are not all Beaverton.

I’ve never been to the center of Hillsboro, so I don’t know which it is. I’ll have to go along with the judgement of people who have.

Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)
Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)
4 months ago
Reply to  Voline

Oooh, I would love a discussion about “the suburbs”, as I think there is a lot to discuss, especially related to a car-centric lifestyle that much of “suburban America” is based upon. It’s important to define terms, what one means by “suburb.” People often look at my critiques of the “suburban lifestyle” https://www.google.com/amp/s/bikeportland.org/2021/09/08/i-never-want-to-be-a-suburban-soccer-mom-337764/amp and say, “hey, you live in Hillsboro!” Yes, but there are many different parts of Hillsboro: downtown which is very”urban” with apartments and mixed use zoning and transit, “suburban” areas with houses in huge groups without corner markets or shops, and country Hillsboro with farms and scenic bikeways. We very intentionally found a home in Downtown Hillsboro, walkable and bikeable to the MAX, bus stops, church, parks, library, two theaters, restaurants, farmers market, grocery store, corner markets, etc. Depending on your definition of “suburb” we live in a suburb of Portland, or, as we see it, we live in an urban area. According to a different definition of suburb, we avoided “the suburbs” quite adamantly.
That said, I am seeing newer built “suburban neighborhoods” being built with extensive sidewalk and bike infrastructure, and I am wondering if a shift will take place, to make “the (new) suburbs” less car-centric.
I will also say, it’s very hard to afford housing out here and we were very lucky to find a house in the sort of “urban” area we wanted. I am hoping that new, much-needed housing developments in the suburbs might make changes to get away from the car-centricity. Wouldn’t it be great if more businesses and services would be built in the mixed-use way…if all new housing developments could have a small grocery market and some percent of businesses? Just because “the suburbs” used to require cars, doesn’t mean it has to remain that way.
A much longer conversation, but I wanted to clarify a bit, since I live outside of Portland in, but definitely not in “the burbs”

Ryan
Ryan
4 months ago

Wouldn’t it be great if more businesses and services would be built in the mixed-use way…if all new housing developments could have a small grocery market and some percent of businesses? 

This is the key to less car-centric suburbs – the available destinations. While not the most common design, there are definitely suburban neighborhoods all over the U.S. (mostly up-scale I’d wager) that have good bike/pedestrian facilities… for recreation. But if there are no stores/businesses within several miles or you have to cross or travel along 7 lane stroads to get to any of those businesses then most people will still drive.

NotJustBikes had this in one of his videos. It’s kind of a myth of the “idyllic” American neighborhood that most people would look at and say it’s a great place to raise kids. But really the kids are trapped because unless they’re lucky enough to have a group of friends nearby, they’re dependent on parents to drive them everywhere. Until they’re old enough to drive (one of the reasons a license feels like freedom to so many) which then another generation is raised to believe that cars are the only practical mode of transportation, so of course as adults they push back against policy changes by cities to try to make other modes more feasible. They then seek out these “idyllic” neighborhoods to raise their own kids and the cycle continues…

Erikpritchard
Erikpritchard
4 months ago
Reply to  Ryan

Notjustbikes was an excellent, thought -provoking video.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
4 months ago
Reply to  Voline

The center of older small towns can be very walkable. Fifteen minute neighborhoods

Could it be that there are people who live in suburbs who did not move their because they:

share the essentially suburban attitude that the streets are for cars and other uses are secondary, illegitimate, or a nuisance,”

Guy
Guy
4 months ago
Reply to  Voline

Hillsboro has a very quaint, old fashioned looking downtown area.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
4 months ago
Reply to  Guy

46% of the Hillsboro population is not white (alone) and Hillsboro was served by an electric trolley/train line historically (and in the present day) … but facts and history are, clearly, not enough to dispel trickle-down urbanist prejudice.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Voline

“the essentially suburban attitude that the streets are for cars and other uses are secondary”

To be fair, most city dwellers probably also believe this. You referenced elsewhere that city and suburban folks view cars differently, but while I am sure that is true in some individual cases, I’m not sure there is much of a gulf between those groups, especially in cities like Portland that are very car accessible.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Mostly white, college-educated, urbanists don’t believe this and because many inhabit hermeneutically-pure cult-like subcultures they do not understand that most of their inner-PDX urban neighbors drive hulking GHG-spewing SUVS/trucks and don’t really give a moments thought to other road users (except to complain about them on next door).

idlebytes
idlebytes
4 months ago

In my opinion it’s what comes next after your ellipses that is the most relevant part.

to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side.

That’s almost all travel lanes in the city and no I don’t think it’s appropriate to use a parking lane as a travel lane except when to go around some obstruction or to make room for oncoming traffic.

A lane needs to be 12 feet wide plus the width of the car to safely pass so 17-21 feet total. Three feet to my right, three feet for me, three feet to my left, and three feet to the cars left. That’s almost nowhere in the city especially on greenways.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

This is only true if you believe the myth that a car can’t leave the lane (or even cross a double yellow) to pass a bicycle.

J_R
J_R
4 months ago

We have to have more cops and elected officials who are bicyclists or are at least willing to try a few rides to experience what we do daily. I can think of only a handful of elected officials who are bicyclists.

I don’t know how we change it. I once offered a local elected official, who hadn’t ridden in decades, a ride on the back of a tandem. To assure him of my competency, I told him about riding with blind stokers. Never happened.

Clem Fandango
Clem Fandango
4 months ago

Remember back before the bike lobby gave away their power to every dumb lefty idea that came along and winked at them, when they could have made hay out of a situation like this? Now it’s like… the least of our problems.

Carrie
Carrie
4 months ago

I’m so very sorry Shannon. I hear your frustration that the biggest safety concern in this whole scenario was the car driver who was most likely speeding to pass you all. That is the person who should have been admonished in this case. Like you, when I’m riding on a road with parked cars, I take the lane and do NOT weave. I do not want folks to ‘close pass’ me — I want them to need to move out entirely into the left hand lane to do so.

Charley
Charley
4 months ago

Shannon was in the right!!!

It makes me think I should carry that ODOT manual with me in my bike bag.

maxD
maxD
4 months ago

I thinking leaving the travel to ride in the parking lane is not safe and possibly not even legal. My interpretation of the law (I’m NOT a lawyer) is that a cyclist has to ride as far to right of the road as is safe. That makes sense on a rural road. On a city street, most roads are legally divided in lanes: travel lanes and parking lanes. I think the law requires bikes to ride as far to the right as they can in the travel lane when they are travelling, but they are not obligated to ride in the parking lane. Riding in the parking lanes can feel like you are doing cars a favor, but it is bad idea. Cross traffic is checking the travel lane before pulling out, not the parking lane. You can easily surprise someone approaching you by weaving in and out of the travel lane. Someone pulling out of a parking spot could easily miss a bike overtaking them from the parking lane. A car driver can fairly easily gauge your speed and safely pass a cyclist travelling at a consistent speed and maintaining their lane position, a cyclist weaving in and out of the travel lane is much harder to pass safely and may inspire a faster pass. their The safe place to ride is just out of the door zone on the right side of the travel lane, and I think this is also the legal place to ride.

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
4 months ago
Reply to  maxD

I haven’t ridden a bike regularly in eight years, so I guess at this point I speak as a driver. I was driving eastbound on Belmont a few years back and a guy was weaving in and out of the parking lane ahead of me. By the time I overtook him there was a space of two or car lengths of empty parking and he pulled to the right. I could do the math on our relative velocities and see clearly that he would have to reenter the travel lane at the exact moment my car would crush him. The only safe thing I could do was stop and wait for westbound traffic to clear and then cross the centerline to get around him with ample space. What if it had been a different driver that day, someone who hadn’t read the biking manual and didn’t know how dangerous the weave can be? I don’t blame the rider; I’m sure he felt that riding well away from traffic was safer or nicer or both.

idlebytes
idlebytes
4 months ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

What if it had been a different driver that day, someone who hadn’t read the biking manual and didn’t know how dangerous the weave can be?

This. I agree with most of maxD’s comment except the part about drivers being able to gauge cyclists speed and safely pass. I would say 60-70% of drivers, pedestrians and even cyclists are terrible about gauging speeds. Every time I ride home from work I have multiple interactions with pedestrians and drivers that hesitate to cross my path or turn in front of me because they can’t judge that they’ll easily clear the intersection or at least my portion of it by the time I get there. This causes me to have to slow down, wave them on, move to the other side of the road and do all sorts of other things to get them to go.

Mark Linehan
Mark Linehan
4 months ago

The Oregon Bicycle Manual, on page 12, explicitly says “Don’t weave in and out of parked cars”, and includes a diagram showing that riders should go straight in the traffic lane, rather than move over to the right between parked cars.

Here’s a longer quote:

Ride far enough away from

parked cars that you don’t

risk being hit by an opening

car door. Ride in a straight

line and don’t weave in and

out of parked cars – you may

disappear from motorists’

sight and get squeezed when

you need to merge back into

traffic. In general, remember

that people driving cars cannot

know when you might weave

in or out. When you ride in

a straight line, you are more

predictable and motorists can

drive around you safely.

FYI, there’s also a Portland Family Bicycling Guide, but it doesn’t discuss this particular issue.

surly ogre
surly ogre
4 months ago

It is not “practicable” to compromise your safety.
It is not “practicable” to ride where no one can see you from behind, from the side or from ahead.
It is not “practicable” to be a vehicular cyclist or to follow traffic laws meant for cars and made by ding dongs who don’t ride bicycles.

Cops are 100% wrong when they think they know more about your safety than you do. Give me a ticket/citation and I’ll see you and the City of Portland in court.

Ryan
Ryan
4 months ago
Reply to  surly ogre

This.

“As far right as practicable” in this case is far enough from the curb to avoid weaving in and out of parked cars while also staying out of the door zone of those parked cars which means – according to the ORS and Oregon Bicycling Manual – pretty much the middle of the travel lane. If that forced the driver to get all the way into the oncoming lane then that’s exactly what should be happening. The only one possibly breaking the law was the driver – the driver’s manual says that you can’t exceed the speed limit even to pass another vehicle, so if they had to accelerate above the speed limit to get around you safely then they shouldn’t have made the pass, and THAT is what the cop should have focused on.

qqq
qqq
4 months ago

The fact that you were doing exactly what the Oregon Bicycling Manual says you SHOULD be doing is clear evidence that what you were doing was reasonable, and the law (excerpt in the article) says you can move towards the center of the lane “when REASONABLY necessary” to avoid hazards, and parked cars are specifically mentioned, so I agree with the many people here that believe that that alone should be enough to convince any cop you weren’t doing anything wrong.

But there’s more: The same ORS 814.430 states that you should be riding “as close as practicable to the right curb OR EDGE OF THE ROADWAY”.

Per the law,” “Roadway” means the portion of a highway that is improved, designed or ordinarily used FOR VEHICLE TRAVEL, exclusive of the shoulder.” 
https://oregon.public.law/statutes/ors_801.450

I’d say that backs up MaxD’s comment that “I think the law requires bikes to ride as far to the right as they can in the travel lane when they are travelling, but they are not obligated to ride in the parking lane.”

It could be that that’s wrong, and for some reason known only to lawyers parked cars are a form of vehicle travel. Or maybe the “or” means you have to choose the more restrictive between “right curb” and the portion used for vehicle travel. But at that point, you’re getting into detailed legal analysis, so I’d go back to the law’s “reasonable” and “practicable” which to me mean what a normal person would think was reasonable or practicable, as opposed to what a roomful of lawyers would conclude.

So you were right, cop was wrong.

SD
SD
4 months ago

Would be great to reach out to the Hillsboro PD and see if they have a basic grasp of the law and reasonable expectations of people biking. This seems like a teachable moment.

ED
ED
4 months ago

Yeah the faux safety concern is one of the most grating aspects of this kind of encounter. I was biking home from the park with my daughter (6yo, on her own bike) on a quiet residential street in Sellwood around 8pm the other day (summer, plenty of light, well outside of rush hour). To be fair, we were kind goofing around, riding on our side of the street but not necessarily as far right as “practicable” because there weren’t other cars around, until a car came up behind us for a block or two. When we stopped at the next corner, the car pulled up next to us and the driver said in a very “concerned” voice that we were riding “crazy” all over the street and it was “like, scary.” I said we were just enjoying the ride and there was plenty of room and other streets he could choose–again, this is 8pm on a quiet residential street with plenty of parallel neighborhood streets or collectors if he preferred. He showed his true colors responding that “Well, you’re supposed to share the road, right? Ride single file,” i.e. so he could pass us without slowing down for 30 seconds on a single block.

The more I thought about, because of course it got stuck in my mind, was that the only “scary” thing about what we were doing is that he could have taken his giant metal driving machine and passed too quickly or too close, causing harm to us. There was nothing inherently scary–quite the opposite!–about riding bikes on a beautiful summer evening on a quiet neighborhood street.

Luckily, we ride that route often and most of the time we encounter much more, ahem, civic minded drivers who don’t seem to have a problem with people on bikes. And we do indeed ride single file when the conditions merit!

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
4 months ago

I don’t see that you did anything wrong:

Weaving is dangerouse
Riding center lane forces people to realize they can’t pass you in the lane
Practicable != Possible

losigan
losigan
4 months ago

I was on an intersection with a stoplight. The light went green for us to go forward, suddenly a large SUV decided he had right of way to make a left, nearly hitting my 8 year old riding ahead. Of course, I got pissed and cursed at the driver. The driver made a move as if he was about to get down from his car and I dropped my bike and made a move to go towards him. I suppose he thought better and drove off.

I still ride and so does my son, who just graduated from college in Boulder, CO where bike riding is much more common and generally more respected. As for me, I no longer ride on roads, preferring to ride on the bike trails that Colorado seems to have an abundance of.

In short, I am no longer willing to entrust my life to another person driving a 2+ ton (or more) vehicle whose driving habits and mindset I don’t know.

As for cops, well, put it this way, in a previous job, my boss was an ex cop. He loved telling stories of how much he detests bike riders and relishes every opportunity of stopping them for every real or imagined infraction.

The point? I will never ride on any public road unless I happen to be in Amsterdam (or any street I suppose in the Netherlands) or Copenhagen particularly American roads where the majority still believe that bike riders are a “nuisance.”

jakeco969
jakeco969
4 months ago
Reply to  losigan

I lived in Golden for a year and loved being able to walk or bike all over without getting near a road. Still kind of kicking myself for not settling down there.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

So sorry this happened to you Shannon. Far too many of us have similar stories to tell. Including me!

Several years ago I was biking home from downtown and I filtered through parked cars (totally legal) to the signal at W Burnside and 4th. At the signal, I biked in a crosswalk to position myself on the left side of the road before continuing north on 4th (also legal). Then I took off when signal turned green and a cop in a patrol car who I’d passed while he was waiting at the red light, flashed his sirens and pulled me over. He began to lecture me about how I need to follow all the same laws as drivers do (I don’t) and that what I did was unsafe (it wasn’t). I was pissed because I don’t like being hassled and he was clearly just a jerk who wanted to mess with a cyclist. I told him he had no reason to stop me because I did nothing illegal. He didn’t like that I was a smart ass, so eventually he whipped out his vehicle code to try and find something to cite me for.

He was just going to hassle me… But because I dared to talk back and defend myself, he ended up giving me a ticket! What a joke. He even had his partner walk out and stand behind me at one point… as if I was going to try and flee.

I knew the whole thing was b.s. and I got a lawyer and we had the whole case mapped out to prove I did absolutely nothing wrong. I even met with the cop in my office to try and smooth things over (a different cop I knew reached out to the cop who pulled me over and set up the meeting). But even after a conversation, this dude would just not budge. He clearly had some issues with bike riders or something.

So I worked with my lawyer and prepped for our date in court. When it came the officer failed to show up and the ticket ended up being dismissed. A total waste of time just because this one cop had an axe to grind.

This type of shit happens ALL THE TIME to bike riders.

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
4 months ago

This is one reason why I highlighted the bicycling manual. It’s a companion piece to the driving manual. When I first encountered it, they were quite literally two printed brochures in adjacent plastic holders at the DMV office. A document like that isn’t produced haphazardly, it will have been vetted extensively by a variety of experts, including attorneys. A lot of thought and work went into it, and they’ve kept it up to date, too. The stuff in the current version about how to do a Copenhagen left wasn’t in the version I read twenty years ago. But apparently one single cop can overrule all that work based on … nothing but vibes, so far as I can tell? It’s untenable.

Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)
Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)
4 months ago

I didn’t know the officer could just decide not to show up…that he doesn’t have to stand up and answer for his ticketing behavior? I’m sorry that happened to you! Yikes.

dancinmikeb
dancinmikeb
4 months ago

Many, many tickets are dismissed in this way.

Guy
Guy
4 months ago

Happens all the time. There’s even a whole book from Nolo Press (I think ) called “Stick it to Your Ticket!”, that talks about all the ways to get out of paying tickets, and emphasizes how often cops won’t even bother showing up in court (although they do get paid for their time; but if they know or sense that you know your sht and are going to embarrass them in front of a judge, sometimes they’d rather not bother).

Zaphod
3 months ago

If you don’t mind me asking, approximately how much did you invest in both time and $ to win this case? My guess is that the cost was far greater than the ticket but you opted for this because “this aggression will not stand, man.” I totally respect that call yet many of us do not have such resources.

James
James
4 months ago

The issue, as I have experienced it, is that cars will overtake me when it isn’t safe and clear and then squeeze me into the parked cars when confronted by an oncoming car. If I was in this situation I would have a ticket because I would have run my mouth until they threatened to tase me.

Yb
Yb
4 months ago

If you are impeding traffic by not going the speed limit then move to the right when it is safe to do so. The roads are FOR AUTOS AND BICYCLES ALIKE. Sharing the road isn’t just auto drivers being respectful it’s also bicyclist being respectful of auto drivers. And FYI I am avid cyclist and spend over 20 hours in the saddle every week.

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
4 months ago
Reply to  Yb

The Oregon Bicycling Manual, published by ODOT and available as a brochure in every DMV in the state, says on page 12

Ride far enough away from parked cars that you don’t risk being hit by an opening car door. Ride in a straight line and don’t weave in and out of parked cars – you may disappear from motorists’ sight and get squeezed when you need to merge back into traffic. In general, remember that people driving cars cannot know when you might weave in or out. When you ride in a straight line, you are more predictable and motorists can drive around you safely.

It’s nice that your an avid cyclist but the manual has been vetted by many experts, including attorneys, and for what it’s worth it said exactly the same thing when I read it for the first time twenty years ago.

qqq
qqq
4 months ago
Reply to  Yb

The problem with that is that each time you move to the right after passing a parked car, you create a need to merge left back into traffic when you come to the next parked car. That’s not safe for the cyclist, and not respectful to the drivers in the lane because it’s not safe for them either. As people keep pointing out, it’s why the DMV tells people NOT to do it.

SD
SD
4 months ago
Reply to  Yb

I am an avid driver that has spent most of my life driving a car, I have also visited a car museum and one of my first crushes was on K.I.T.T., yet somehow I know that “share the road” does not mean “get out of the way.”

You are advocating for irresponsible and dangerous behavior that could get someone killed because you think that residential roads should operate like interstate highways. Since you like meaningless slogans, here’s one from PBOT- “Slow the Flock Down.”

Guy
Guy
4 months ago
Reply to  Yb

A more basic principle (in life generally) is, the one with more power, speed, and maneuverability needs to look out for others more. Like, say, a car going downhill, which has to yield to one going uphill. Because the one with more kinetic energy has more potential to cause harm, both to themselves and others, so they must use their power with a fitting sense of responsibility to all those around them.

Steve
Steve
4 months ago

I have always avoided “salmoning” along parked cars and taught my wife and kids the same. I read “as far to the right as practical as being able to also avoid being doored so I am inevitably taking the lane on roads with parking and no bike lanes. I would encourage you to reach out to his supervisors and voice your concerns.

qqq
qqq
4 months ago

What if it was a right-turn-only lane on the right instead of parked cars?

Based on how the cop interpreted the law to mean you should move out of the travel lane into the parking zone, it seems like he’d say you should move over into the right-turn-only lane so you’re out of traffic in the through lane, then merge back into the through lane at some point.

But that would be confusing to drivers and dangerous for everyone, and I can’t imagine the Oregon Bicycling Manual advising that, vs. staying in the through lane the same way it recommends doing that when passing parked cars.

I don’t see that situation (riding past right-turn-only lanes) listed as an exemption from needing to right close to the right. What that tells me is that it’s covered by “practicable” in the law–you don’t have to stay near the curb when it’s not practicable. https://oregon.public.law/statutes/ors_814.430

Looking at that situation to me is more evidence that the cop wasn’t understanding the law.

William Perreault
William Perreault
4 months ago

#DriversEd

Stephen
Stephen
4 months ago

You talked about looking over your shoulder. You don’t have a helmet mirror? Every cyclist should wear one.

Stefanie Arnold
Stefanie Arnold
4 months ago

Every police officer should have to ride a bike in Portland for a period of time. You only gain true understanding of the multiple dangers and quick weighing of options that come with navigating a city by bike.

Mike Zarum
Mike Zarum
4 months ago

Based on what the author wrote my interpretation is that road is not designed with a separate bicycle travel lane therefore it’s not safe for bicycles to ride parallel to vehicular traffic. By the way I have done work in my career as a transportation engineer and have worked on award-winning projects in a major city where some areas had separate bicycle lanes.
I fully understand your frustration as where I currently live I have the same issue. I am now older and in my sixties and not as agile as I was when I was young. Major roads close to where I live sound similar to the one you were riding on. Because of current vehicular traffic conditions I have decided to not ride my bicycle on that roadway. I would rather be safe than sorry period. As an example a young man in his twenties who I mentor, or, was riding his bike on the same road last month and was struck by a pickup truck and injured. You did sound to me like the police officer was looking out for your safety.. Perhaps the best solution here is for you too lobby as an advocate to your local planning department and recreation department and highway departmentFor better integrationTo have a separate bike lane installed. If there is insufficient roadway lateral width then that needs to be accepted.
Please ride safely and do not put children at risk.

Mike Zarum
Boston USA

Az
Az
4 months ago

It’s funny to see all these comments citing to Oregon statutes, like it means anything in these situations. Cops do no care what the law says. They enforce the laws they want to enforce to obtain the outcome they want to see.

This cop could’ve gone after the speeding car, but chose to harass the bicyclist because the convenience of car drivers are more important to him than the safety of bicyclists.

Jeff siebold
Jeff siebold
4 months ago

In NY we have the same rule that states you are to stay as close to the edge as possible..I always do that..I ride with my grandsons a lot and I always make them ride in front of me. That way I keep an eye on them at all times. I am especially vigilant when we are passing parked cars for fear that someone will open a door

Bicycle Bob
Bicycle Bob
4 months ago

Let’s face it, bicycles simply aren’t welcome on the streets of the US and never will be. Too many people think that a bicycle is just a child’s toy, not a serious mode of transportation. I’ve heard too many people talk about bicycles being “in the way”. Really? In the way of what? The way doesn’t belong strictly to motorized vehicles. Bicyclists have just as much legal right to use the roadway as cars in all 50 states. The problem is many thousands of people with no degree of patience or respect for vulnerable road users.

Eric in Seattle
Eric in Seattle
4 months ago

The law doesn’t require people on bikes to ride as far right as “possible”. You should ride as far to the right as “practicable” It is not practicable to ride in the door zone.

Ron Harvill
Ron Harvill
4 months ago

I have been riding seriously for 40 years, believe me I have some horror stories but would take a 10 page letter..✌️

Ron Harvill
Ron Harvill
4 months ago

I am a off-road cyclist also, our rules on the trail are in order pedestrian, equine , bicycle, motorized, this the way transportation has evolved , I have set some folks straight on that, the bicycle was here before your car we get no respect…

Chris Minion
Chris Minion
3 months ago

As a San Francisco bike messengers for 25 years, I always take the lane and swim with traffic. Way safer. I also completely avoid the death funnels, (all those separated bike lanes that make no sense. I don’t know Oregon law, but in California there is CVC 21202, which states “bicyclists are allowed full use of a lane in regards to turning lanes and other obstructions. It is amazing how many moto cops I’ve had to educate about this vehicle code at intersections like 9th and Harrison).

Maria
Maria
3 months ago

The ignorance of police combined with the entitled impatience of motor vehicle operators is more than exasperating – it’s dangerous. On-street parking is personal storage on public thoroughfares and it also adds to the danger of our streets. I’m sick of cyclists being blamed for “taking up too much space’ when we’re the smallest road user compared to the stored vehicles and motor vehicles.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  Maria

I think the “cyclists take too much space” crowd is very small but very vocal. I think we’ve basically won the war on that front, even if there are still a few mop-up skirmishes here and there.

John Brooking
John Brooking
3 months ago

John Forester was right about at least one thing: The Cycling Inferiority Complex is real, and it is shared by nearly all motorists, many law enforcement officers, and even by too many cyclists.

galarant
galarant
3 months ago

How fast were you going while deliberately taking up the entire lane? Going uphill with a carrier and a bunch of kids I’m going to guess around 5mph? So it’s your opinion that every car on that street be forced to either ride at that speed or weave into oncoming traffic to get around you? That is a really entitled attitude and I can understand why a driver behind you would get frustrated. With better planning of your route you can avoid situations like this. You would be safer, the drivers would be safer, everyone is happy. Just consider it.

SD
SD
3 months ago
Reply to  galarant

If all of these speculative circumstances were at play, it is not the bike rider’s fault that the driver chose to use a vehicle that causes unbearable frustration at slow speeds and is too big to maneuver safely around slower moving objects.

However, she stated she was riding an e-bike, which would make 5mph unlikely. If you missed this detail, you may have missed others that are important. I recommend that you read the article.

qqq
qqq
3 months ago
Reply to  galarant

That reminds me of how yesterday I was driving and someone in front of me deliberately took up the whole lane to make a left turn into a store’s driveway. They totally stopped me and several cars behind us–forcing us to go zero mph on a 30 mph street.– while we all had to wait for them to get a break in oncoming traffic to turn.

Their decision to make a turn there showed a really entitled attitude and anyone can understand why all the drivers stuck behind them got frustrated. With better planning of their route they could have avoided creating a situation like that. They would be safer, the other drivers would be safer, everyone would be happy. Just consider it.

galarant
galarant
3 months ago
Reply to  qqq

Like making a left turn? That’s not even remotely the same situation. A better comparison would be driving extremely slow on purpose, or just walking down the middle of the street and blocking traffic for no reason. She is forcing all traffic to move at her pace for however long she decides, just because she was in the mood to flex on random drivers.

Ray
Ray
3 months ago
Reply to  galarant

Not necessarily, qqq’s scenario is very similar to yours. Both parties, the biker going 5mph, and the driver making a left turn are both involved in the very same activity. Which is, getting to where they want to go. Neither are blocking traffic intentionally, both people are in fact, traffic.

galarant
galarant
3 months ago
Reply to  Ray

The driver making the left turn is out of everyone’s way in moments, and if there is no turning lane they have no other option. The cyclist taking up the entire lane stays in the way for a lot longer, even though they have the option of moving to the side and politely sharing the road.

The difference is plainly obvious and it matters.

qqq
qqq
3 months ago
Reply to  galarant

It’s almost exactly the same as a left turn. Both are using the street legally. The main difference is that making a left turn in traffic stops traffic behind you totally, whereas riding in the lane only slows it.

Someone turning left midblock might in busy traffic might hold up a dozen cars behind them while they wait for a chance to turn. Someone turning left at a signaled intersection without a left turn lane or signal might force everyone behind them to miss the entire light signal.

Riding in the lane to avoid weaving in and out of the parking lane is not “flexing on random drivers”. It’s doing what the DMV says you SHOULD do, and avoiding what it says you SHOULDN’T do because it’s dangerous to you and drivers around you.

If you think doing something the DMV states you should do is the same as driving slow on purpose, or walking in the street to block traffic, you literally don’t know the rules of the road.

SD
SD
3 months ago
Reply to  galarant

Maybe a better comparison than someone going slow on purpose would be people who drive a car or truck when they could walk, bike or ride the bus instead. Hard to believe that so many people feel entitled to take more space than they need and clog up the streets.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  galarant

In real life, someone going 5 mph up a hill is not going to take the lane; the danger of being doored is much lower than at 15 mph, and no one likes having a driver hanging back behind them.

In real life, most people (drivers and cyclists) are considerate and behave responsibly; I don’t find these hypotheticals (whether offered by cyclists or cycling skeptics) to be particularly helpful.

In real life, most cyclists and drivers manage to co-exist and things generally work out fine.

galarant
galarant
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

In real life, most cyclists and drivers manage to co-exist and things generally work out fine.

I agree! I’m a cyclist as well as a driver like I imagine most people here are, and I believe that both vehicles can share the road if everyone behaves reasonably. If I’m annoyed at Shannon’s story, maybe I’m adding my own facts that she didn’t mention. I would really like to know how fast she was actually going when she decided to take the lane because that is important I think.

Richard
Richard
3 months ago

Do not bike in Portland Oregon, Burnside, as one Police officer said after being on the ground getting hit by out of Towner. (They cross bike lane to get coffee)
The police officer is right !
The infrastructure can’t handle vehicles let alone bikers are breaking rules in spite of safety
The walkers & bikes are playing off the sidewalk, So repair the sidewalks and yes you stop at stop signs! Lol

Scallywag
Scallywag
2 months ago
Reply to  Richard

Infact and legally, stops signs are effectively yield signs for cyclists.

Richard
Richard
3 months ago

Portland Oregon Police Department admitted that there was one City Portland Officer doing traffic detail for years.
I think the other side don’t want enforcement, so you get what you want
Do not ride bikes in Portland!

Scallywag
Scallywag
2 months ago

I don’t like seeing other cyclists weave left and right around parked cars for the reasons you’ve highlighted. I also think it feeds the perception that as a community, we are a bunch of airheads, lollygagging and looping along the road with pointless abandon. While in fact, we are purposefully moving to a destination. At least as much as an road user would be.

I got into cycling in my teen years and I always kept my ears open for tips from my more experienced peers. One lady I knew who did a lot of touring suggested when riding on rural roads with little or no shoulder, ride directly on the white line, for a few reasons. The surface is high resolution so you can see any road debris and perceptive motorists will be able to predict where you will be when they pass you.

Giving the benefit of the doubt that motorists will try to pass me safely, traveling in a predictable, straight line provides the *opportunity* for them to pass me safely. I agree, not everyone will take that opportunity, but some will and that will make my day better. So I prefer to take a straight line that might have me well away from the curb when there are no parked cars. I think you, fine author, are right to do so as well.

Side note, that cop is a manipulative jerk who needs to get their priorities straight! But hey, when has a Portland cop ever conducted a traffic stop against a motor vehicle?

Ralph sanchez
Ralph sanchez
2 months ago

According to the practicable part of your states law, which my state shares, you were in the right and theres court cases about it to my knowledge. It isnt practicable to be forced to dodge in and out of traffic to avoid parked cars. Practicable means what is safest and best for you personally, and that means taking the lane as you had a full right to, as only a rider can decide whats practicable. That’s the whole purpose of using the word practicable over possible. Its possible for you to ride in and out of traffic to hug the edge of the road way but also, parking spaces arent apart of the road so if there’s on street parking then riding within 6 to 8 feet of the curb is totally impracticable. This has already been litigated before.